Board index » Present Evidence » Present Testimony

Page 1 of 5[ 189 posts ]
Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
 


[UPDATED! 05/12] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

Chapter Index:

Chapter One: [Thread] [Objection!]
Chapter Two: [Thread] [Objection!]
Side Story: 1000 Cranes: [Thread] [Objection!]
Chapter Three: [Thread] [Objection!]
Chapter Four: [Thread] [Objection!]
Chapter Five: [Thread] [Objection!]
Side Story: Hold Out Your Hand: [Thread] [Objection!]
Chapter Six: [Thread] [Objection!]
Chapter Seven: [Thread] [Objection!]
Chapter Eight: [Thread] [Objection!]
Side Story: Epitaph: [Thread] [Objection!]
Image


Last edited by musouka on Tue May 13, 2008 6:13 am, edited 20 times in total.
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

Notes and Acknowledgements:

I guess fanfics, like children, take a village to raise. First of all, if this fic is my baby, then Raelle is the father; without her support and imput, this fic wouldn't be here. It's as much hers as it is mine. It's as simple as that. CFTF is its godfather; thank you so much for putting up with us during the long months of hammering and fangirling. Your willingness to read and comment means so much for me. Same with my little brother, for helping me keep everyone in character and for reading this sucker out loud who knows how many times. Thank you to Lyssie for your encouragement; without your inspiring artwork it could have very well taken me even longer. Thank you to Julie for correcting my horrible grammar and being willing to invest your energy in a virtual stranger's work; you're an amazing beta and I'm honored for your time.

This fic takes place a year after the events of GS3. It is an AU that branches off the canon timeline at a certain point. Therefore there will be spoilers.


Struggling Against Gravity
Chapter One



The courthouse always looked different to Phoenix right after he finished a case. It wasn’t just the looks on the faces of the people as they exited—talking to one another in hushed whispers and darting glances at him as he passed—but the walls themselves seemed changed, expanded. Usually in a good way, like that feeling of taking a deep breath of fresh air. But after a case like that one, all he really wanted to do was go and take a long nap, preferably in a place without irritating prosecutors and accidental homicides centering around plungers.

On his way in, the walk to the courtroom doors always seemed too short, but today especially it felt like the walk towards the exit took half an hour. Part of it was the crowd. As he pushed past an older woman and what he assumed was her son, he felt like he had just exited a long, drawn out movie, with the tired, vaguely annoyed feeling that entailed. Too many people in one spot, moving in different directions.

All the courtroom lobbies on the first level spilled out into the main foyer of the building, a large, high-ceilinged lobby paneled with the same wood as the other waiting rooms, only with benches all along the perimeter instead of couches. There people sat, engrossed in documents, glaring furiously at their lawyers, children sleeping in their mother’s laps, and, in the case of one overzealous couple: making out. Phoenix averted his eyes and focused on the exit doors instead. Almost there.

He reached to open the nearest one.

“Hey, pal!” The familiar voice boomed over the low hum in the lobby. Several lawyers glanced up, a look of annoyed recognition crossing their faces before going back to talking with their clients or one another. “I’m glad I caught you!”

For a brief moment, Phoenix considered continuing out the front as if he hadn’t heard Gumshoe. His dress shirt was sticking to his back underneath his navy blue suit and he felt vaguely achy from standing so long; the post-trial high had already begun to wear off.

The moment passed. Phoenix turned to face the taller man, who was now breathing heavily from his mad dash across the room.

“What can I do for you, detective?” He sighed.

“Well, actually it’s more about what I can—” Gumshoe broke off suddenly, and glanced to both sides of Phoenix, as though he were suddenly missing an appendage. “Hey, where’s topknot?”

“Top…you mean Maya?” Phoenix asked. A man hefting a box of evidence cut between them abruptly, so Phoenix moved off to the side of the exit to continue their conversation.

“Yeah,” Gumshoe grinned and scratched the back of his head. “It’s weird to see you here without her, pal. She’s like your trusty sidekick!”

Privately, Phoenix agreed. It never seemed quite right to go to trial without her standing by his side, not hearing her exclamations and encouragement. It had been especially strange to be met with an empty space where she should have been when he turned to see her reaction to the witness’s testimony.

“She was called back to Kurain this morning. There was some sort of emergency.” He tried to quash an irrational surge of irritation. Over the past year, Maya’s duties had left him less and less time with her. She’d managed to make all of his trials except this one, but Phoenix hoped this wasn’t a trend in the making.

Gumshoe nodded and stared at Phoenix expectantly. Phoenix waited.

And waited.

Is that it?

“…Nice seeing you, detective. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” The defense attorney turned to escape.

“Hold it!”

“What?” Phoenix asked, scraping the bottom of his finite reserve of politeness.

Gumshoe’s broad features collapsed into a dejected frown. “You don’t have to be like that, pal.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just…I’ve had a long day, and I’d like to get home. So unless there’s anything you need…” Phoenix gazed out the glass doors longingly. He was pretty sure he’d missed his bus by now.

“I wouldn’t stop you, pal, if it wasn’t something important.”

Phoenix frowned. It’s obviously not that important if he won’t tell me what it is!

But Gumshoe was continuing. “It’s about Mr. Edgeworth’s trial. I, uh, really think you should come see it.”

“Edgeworth?” At that name, Phoenix turned his full attention on Gumshoe. “Why, is there something wrong?”

“With Mr. Edgeworth? No, of course not!” Gumshoe said. “He’s won every trial since he got back. Personally, between you and me, I don’t think he’s ever been better.”

That was good to hear. A few months earlier, Edgeworth had returned to LA just as quickly as he left after his first—and last—trial as a defense attorney. From the way he had spoken before they parted ways, more than a year ago, Phoenix hadn’t expected him to come back so soon. There had been undercurrents that he might not come back at all. Phoenix had refused to entertain that possibility.

Yet, here he was. Somehow. He had taken up his old job at the Prosecutor’s Office, and, by all reports, was busy striking terror in the hearts of young defense attorneys throughout the district.

It was Gumshoe that had informed everyone that their old friend was returning and had organized the welcome back party and greeting at the airport. Phoenix could still remember the look on Edgeworth’s face as he’d come down the escalator to the baggage claim and saw everyone there.

As soon as they caught sight of that unmistakable pink suit and cravat, Maya had hefted the hand-made sign reading “Welcome Home, Miles Edgeworth” far above her head, forcing Pearl to stand on tiptoes to hold her end up to make it readable, if still lop-sided. Both Larry and Gumshoe had started waving furiously, as though Edgeworth might somehow miss the detective towering over the two girls in their medium gear, not to mention Larry’s bright orange jacket.

And Phoenix had just smiled.

It was so good to have him back.

The prosecutor had swallowed convulsively, the corner of his mouth twitching as though it couldn’t quite decide the proper emotion to display. He’d finally settled on a frown once he reached the group. The first words out of his mouth were painfully stilted, about how unnecessary “all this” was.

No one was fooled.

Phoenix hadn’t seen much of him after the subsequent party. He’d considered giving Edgeworth a call a couple of times, but talked himself out of it, thinking about how busy he must be trying to get settled back in. Most of their interaction had been limited to nodding at one another in the court hallways when they passed; they hadn’t been assigned any cases opposite one another yet.

There was no rush. Edgeworth was back. It would happen eventually.

All the same, Phoenix didn’t feel like sitting through another trial this afternoon, especially one that he wasn’t even participating in.

“I don't think—“ But Gumshoe had already made up his mind for him; a large hand grabbing his upper arm and a quick pull cut him off.

“Come on, pal. You’re coming with me!” Gumshoe said.

Phoenix resigned himself as he was dragged through a crowd of people leaving courtroom number one. Many of them turned and stared curiously in the two men’s wake. Gumshoe seemed oblivious as he took a quick left where the hallway branched. They moved past several paintings, another couch, and finally settled next to a bushy plant in a white planter—far away from the exit and all its seductive charms. Gumshoe let him go.

“All right.” He grinned sheepishly. “It’s taking place on the third level, courtroom seven. I don’t have to haul you all the way there, do I, pal? Don’t make me arrest you…”

Don’t make me sue you! Phoenix rubbed his arm.

“Aww, don’t look at me like that. You’ll be happy you came, really. I just don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

“All right, all right, I’ll go.” Phoenix gave up, shoulders slumping slightly. Otherwise he probably will drag me there…


***

The elevators in the courthouse were painfully slow, so Phoenix had plenty of time to inspect the buttons—round, numbers rubbing off from use—and ceiling—mirrored—on their ascent to the third floor. The thin carpeting in the front corner on Gumshoe’s left was frayed and curling. There was also a faint suggestion of the smell of mildew in the air; Phoenix didn’t want to think about the how or why of that one.

“Are you testifying today?” Phoenix finally asked the detective.

Gumshoe paused in staring at the numbers above the door and glanced at him, the same dejected look on his face he’d shown earlier. “No…that was yesterday, pal.”

Looks like it didn’t go so well… Phoenix shifted as the elevator shuddered on its climb.

“Today I’m just an observer.” Gumshoe’s demeanor lightened noticeably; he’d seemingly forgotten his failure yesterday—whatever it had been. “I try to watch all of Mr. Edgeworth’s trials. They’re better than TV!”

I guess that’s easy to say when you can’t afford cable. Or a television set.

Just then, the elevator eased to a stop and the doors opened.

The two of them stepped out into the paneled hallway. Courtroom seven was straight ahead—it was the closest of the three on the third floor. As they approached the lobby, Phoenix saw the heavy doors to the entrance were open, signifying that the trial was in recess.

Phoenix glanced around, but there was no sign of Edgeworth in the surprisingly thick crowd. He’s probably prepping a witness, or making sure his cravat is straight.

On the other hand, he could see what he assumed was the defense attorney for the case sitting on the ubiquitous red lobby couch across the way, a folder thick with documents at his side. He was talking to a man Phoenix assumed was his client.

The attorney looked about Phoenix’s age—in his late twenties—with non-descript, regular features and build. Even his suit was a dull gray. The thing that stood out the most was his hair. Though it was also an unremarkable brown shade, it looked as though he had rolled out of bed, put on his suit, and run to the courthouse without even stopping to comb it. As Phoenix watched, the lawyer ran his fingers through his hair in a nervous gesture; that explained the odd styling choice.

The client’s suit looked much more expensive than his attorney’s, which was usually the case in Phoenix’s experience; it was jet black and appeared custom-fitted. His dark hair was slicked back and looked so heavily greased that Phoenix half expected to see a rainbowed oil sheen when it caught the light. The man gestured to his attorney; Phoenix could hear bits and pieces of the conversation over the crowd noise.

“…prosecutor…”

They’re talking about Edgeworth?
Phoenix moved closer.

“Don’t go too far, pal,” Gumshoe warned, glancing around the crowd as though he was looking for someone too. “They should start letting people back in soon.”

Phoenix nodded, distracted, and kept moving towards the couch.

“…don’t know what you’re talking about,” he heard the defendant say. “You already beat his ‘one day win’ streak.”

“That was a fluke,” the attorney said, fingers twisting in nervous knots. “He’s…well, I didn’t even know you had—“

The bailiff called the end of recess, cutting off whatever the attorney was about to say. The defense attorney sighed and heaved himself off the couch. Attorneys didn’t have to go in until the crowd was seated, but it was getting thick over here so Phoenix could understand wanting to relocate. Phoenix turned to look for Gumshoe, but couldn’t see the man in the flood of people moving towards the courtroom. He waited for a few moments before plunging into the crowd; Gumshoe was instantly recognizable, how hard could it be to find him?

Pretty hard, actually, Phoenix discovered. After several minutes of apologizing for getting in other peoples' way, he gave up going by height and instead focused on spotting the man’s dark brown coat.

That didn’t work either.

As the crowd thinned, he finally saw the detective over by the front of the doors talking to one of the guards.

“Detective Gumshoe!” he called. Gumshoe lifted his head and waited for Phoenix to make his way to the doorway.

“Took you long enough,” the detective said. “Ready to go in?”

It’s not like we had a set meeting spot or anything, Phoenix inwardly protested. But he nodded and fell into step as Gumshoe waved goodbye to the guard and they made their way inside. Gumshoe started down the left—Edgeworth’s side—automatically. Phoenix shrugged and followed.

“I think that side is full up,” the bailiff said. Gumshoe glanced at Phoenix, as if to say ‘this is your fault, pal’, but said nothing as they veered to the right instead.

Phoenix found it slightly disorienting to head past the defense bench to the hidden set of stairs next to the judge’s bench and up into the public gallery. Gumshoe’s clomping footsteps were heavy behind him. The detective nearly ran into Phoenix’s back when he stopped at the top to survey the seating options.

Instead of chairs there were three long rows of benches—not unlike church pews—that ran the entire length of the box. It was already crowded and growing more so as others shoved past Phoenix, turning to glare at him for blocking the way. Phoenix hurriedly took a seat near the end of one of the benches; Gumshoe settled in beside him.

A quick glance across the way told him that the bailiff had been correct; Edgeworth’s side was even more packed than this one. It was strange; he hadn’t heard anything about Edgeworth taking a high profile case—and that was the sort of thing that usually got around. Granted, it wasn’t nearly as full as Engarde’s trial was—that had been standing room only—but this crowd was nothing to sneeze at.

Phoenix leaned towards Gumshoe. “What’s going on, why is it so full?”

“I don’t know,” Gumshoe whispered back. “My only guess is that people heard what happened yesterday…it wasn’t this bad when I was testifying.”

“What did happen yesterday?” Phoenix asked.

“It was a real mess, pal. It should have been an open and shut case, but—” Gumshoe broke off as Edgeworth made his entrance.

It would have been impossible to miss Edgeworth even without the signature pink and ruffles. Despite Gumshoe's earlier words about the state of the case, his stride was utterly confident. As soon as he made it to the prosecutor's bench, he began to shuffle through papers in quick, familiar motions, without sparing a glance for anything else.

You'd never know he was gone for three years...

Watching him made that sense of disorientation come back in full force. The angle seemed wrong, like he was too far away from where he was supposed to be. With Edgeworth in the same room the feeling that he should be down there, across from him, was multiplied ten-fold.

Phoenix’s thoughts were interrupted by the familiar sound of the judge’s gavel slamming down, officially beginning the trial once again. The murmuring filling the room settled into a sort of expectant calm.

“Now, shall we resume?” the judge asked, settling into his chair.

“The prosecution is ready, Your Honor,” Edgeworth said, pushing his papers to the side in two neat piles.

“The defense is, uh, ready as well, Your Honor,” the defense attorney responded, looking anything but. He was still scrambling to get everything properly organized.

This is like watching a “fight” between a hawk and a mouse… Looking at the two of them, Phoenix couldn’t help but feel a twinge of pity for the defense—though that led to the uncomfortable thought of other people watching from up here and pitying him.

“The prosecution is ready to call its second witness,” Edgeworth said. The judge acquiesced with a nod. While they waited for the bailiff to bring him or her in, Phoenix took the time to study the defendant.

He blinked.

The defendant appeared to have split in two. One in the suit he’d seen in the lobby, the other in a stained mechanic’s uniform. The one in the suit had a small bandage on his hand near his thumb; the other’s entire hand was wrapped in thick, white gauze.

Twins, huh? Phoenix thought he now had a pretty good idea of what went wrong with yesterday’s trial. It was easy to imagine the look on Edgeworth’s face when that little tidbit of information was brought to light. Especially if it had been a surprise. There were few things the prosecutor liked less than “surprises” disrupting his trials.

Poor Gumshoe.
It was equally easy to imagine the tongue lashing the detective had gotten because of that oversight. No wonder he was so depressed earlier.

Phoenix quickly glanced at the detective to his left, but Gumshoe's attention was focused on the defendant. As if he stared hard enough, he could put the man away through sheer force of will. Asking him if he thought the defendant did it was probably pointless; if there was one thing Gumshoe tended to be certain on, it was the guilt of the accused. Too bad it’s not always that easy…


***

The bailiff announced the new witness, a young woman Phoenix estimated to be in her early twenties. Her hair was dark brown and tied back in a high ponytail. She was wearing a white lab coat—Phoenix assumed that she was CSI, meaning she worked for Edgeworth—but the pastel pink shirt peeking out from underneath was surprisingly casual for someone working on the force, as were the belt and blue jeans. Then again, Phoenix had seen a lot of pretty unusual outfits when it came to his dealings with the police. This wasn’t even on the radar compared to some.

She had a nametag clipped to the coat, but it was too difficult to read at this angle, even though he squinted desperately, trying to remember where he’d seen her, hoping her name would jog his memory. She seemed so familiar. A pair of glasses were perched high on her head, above her bangs. As she was led to the stand she adjusted them in a quick motion.

“Witness, please state your name and occupation.”

For some reason, it was the dark bag resting easily against her hip that made everything click into place. Phoenix sharply turned to Gumshoe, only to realize Gumshoe had been looking at him the entire time. He seemed to be trying not to smile. “Wait a minute, is that—“

“Ema Skye, I’m an SOCO…sorry, forensic science technician with the police department,” she said.

“That’s right, pal!” Gumshoe didn’t bother hiding his delight at Phoenix’s stunned silence.

When did she…


“Just about a month ago. Passed the test into the CSI division by the skin of her teeth. She's worked a couple cases before this, but this is the first time she's testified in a trial,” Gumshoe hurriedly explained.

Ema had already started. “…when I ran the tests, I found two sets of fingerprints on the—“

“Hold it!”

She paused in mid-sentence, looking thrown. The defense attorney continued, tripping over his words; he seemed desperate to shove them out of his mouth before something cut him off. “Miss Skye, if t-there were two sets of prints then who’s to say my client is the guilty party?”

Edgeworth’s objection was swift in coming. The sound of his hand slamming down on his table echoed throughout the room. “Mr. Seize, if you had allowed her to finish her sentence, you’d know we identified both prints.” The ‘you’re an utter moron’ was merely implied, not stated. Seize flushed an ugly shade of red anyway. “Please continue, Ms. Skye.”

“I found two sets of fingerprints on the handle of the kitchen faucet in the victim’s apartment. One was the deceased, Ms. Moore’s, the other was the defendant, Mr. Black’s.”

Seize chuckled lowly. That nervous, cowed demeanor was abruptly gone, making Phoenix briefly wonder if the man had been replaced by an identical twin of his own. “What you’re implying is outlandish. Mr. Edgeworth, my client and the deceased were in a romantic relationship! It would be unnatural for his fingerprints not to be in her apartment. It’s like accusing me of murdering my wife because my fingerprints are on our television remote.”

Phoenix frowned to himself. He didn’t know the entire background on the case, but if this was what Edgeworth’s case hinged upon, and what Seize said was true, it seemed to be a particularly slender rope to hang a man. Unless the sink’s handle was the murder weapon.

But Edgeworth seemed unruffled by the change in Seize’s attitude. He’s completely sure Black is guilty, Phoenix realized. There must have been more to those fingerprints than met the eye.

As though in answer, Edgeworth opened one of the files next to him. “You haven’t forgotten your own client’s testimony, have you?” he asked, holding the paper up as he quoted the relevant section. “Antonia was a great girlfriend. She was practically obsessive-compulsive about keeping me out of the kitchen, wouldn’t even let me step in there. She waited on me hand and foot, and she kept things spotless—just the way I like them. Why would I kill her?

But Seize wasn’t finished. “An obvious exaggeration. The point is that Miss Moore was attentive to his needs, not that he never actually walked into the kitchen.”

Now it was Edgeworth’s turn to smirk and shake his head as though he pitied Seize. Having been on the receiving end of the smirk-and-shrug combination more times than he liked, Phoenix knew Edgeworth was about to unleash something pivotal Seize was overlooking. Suddenly Phoenix was glad he wasn’t down there for a change.

“You focused on the wrong part of your client’s testimony, Mr. Seize. The issue is with ‘she kept things spotless’.”

Even in profile, Seize’s dawning recognition and subsequent grimace were sights to behold. Sweat beaded on his brow. Still, he rallied. “T-that doesn’t mean…”

“Ms. Skye, please testify as to what else you found in the kitchen,” Edgeworth interrupted.

Ema nodded and resumed her testimony. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” Seize echoed weakly.

“Nothing except the two types of blood discovered in the drain yesterday. No other fingerprints,” Ema replied. “I checked thoroughly.”

Edgeworth’s thin smile didn’t reach his eyes. They were fixed on the defendant. “Ms. Moore did indeed keep her kitchen spotless. Mr. Black, yesterday you testified that you left before she cleaned up from dinner…”

Ema took over effortlessly, like she was finishing his thought. “We know from the glass of water found at the scene there was a reason for her fingerprints to be on the handle after the kitchen was clean, but not the defendant’s.”

The judge spoke, “Yes, what you’re saying does sound suspicious…”

At that, Black got up and slowly sauntered to the witness stand. When he cleared his throat loudly, Ema stepped aside so he could address the judge, but not before glancing at Edgeworth again. He gave a curt nod in response.

“I have something to say,” Black tossed his words out carelessly.

The judge turned his gaze to Edgeworth. “Mr. Edgeworth?”

“I have no objections.”

“Mr. Seize?”

“No objections, Your Honor.” Far from it—he looked like a thirsty man just given a glass of cold water.

Ema took a seat on Edgeworth’s side as Black moved into place, but Phoenix found himself studying the prosecutor instead. He’d added a few strands to his rope, but not even the notoriously fickle judge was jumping to pronounce Black guilty.

Black began, but not before slicking back his hair and flashing a toothy grin at the gallery. “I was wrong about what I said earlier. I did leave after Antonia tidied up. On my way out, I stopped to wash my hands—not because of this—“ he flashed his bandaged hand at the judge. “—this happened later. As I said yesterday, the only way my DNA could have gotten there is if Jude left it.”

“Hmm, yes…I see…you washed your hands. That would explain your fingerprints.” The judge nodded. “Your thoughts, Mr. Edgeworth?”

“Your brother testified that he’d never even seen the victim before,” Edgeworth replied.

Ignoring the explanation for the fingerprints? That’s strange. Phoenix didn’t realize how far forward he was leaning until he nearly slipped off the edge of the bench. Luckily he caught himself from falling in time to hear Black’s response.

Black smiled again. “Yes, well, I doubt my brother knew many of the people he’s robbed.”

Black’s brother showed no reaction to the statement except a slight stiffening in his shoulders, like the chair had gotten a little harder, a little more uncomfortable. Edgeworth stood silent, as if waiting for something.

“Is that all? I explained the fingerprints,” Black finally said. “Seems to me you don’t have a leg to stand on any more.”

“You’re sure you washed your hands after she cleaned up, defendant?” Edgeworth asked.

“Yes, one hundred percent positive. That’s why my fingerprints are there,” came the offhand reply. “If I’d done it before like I said yesterday, she would have wiped them away. That’s what you were implying, right? But just because my fingerprints are on the handle of some faucet doesn’t mean I killed my girlfriend.”

Edgeworth smirked and raised his hand to his temple, finger tapping against it in a chiding motion. “Thank you for verifying your whereabouts, Mr. Black. The only two people that entered the kitchen after dinner were the victim and the killer.” He paused to reach down underneath the desk, bringing forth a knife, carefully bagged and labeled. Though benign in any kitchen, here in the courtroom the chef’s knife seemed imbued with certain malice. It was obviously the murder weapon. “And this will prove it.”

The room exploded in a frenzy of loud whispers. I hope he knows what he’s doing, because I’m not following, Phoenix thought. The judge banged his gavel and called for order, with limited success. Though it all Edgeworth stood quietly with his arms folded, the calm eye of the storm raging in the courtroom.


***

What followed was familiar to Phoenix as a lawyer. Even removed from the action and barely following the case, he was surprised to find his pulse racing at the rapid volley of objections and counter objections. The dull sound of hands thudding against wood reverberated through the air. The judge’s head jerked back and forth, like he was watching a particularly heated ping-pong match.

The point of contention had shifted to the chef’s knife. After the court finally settled down, Edgeworth went on to explain that due to the blood residue found in the kitchen sink, and the way the knife’s handle had been wiped, they knew it had been washed. Since the victim was in no condition to wash the knife after being stabbed nine times, that left the murderer. And there was only one set of prints aside from the victim’s on the sink’s handle: Black’s.

Seize wasn’t going down without a fight, but he wasn’t gaining any ground against Ema and Edgeworth. Every time he tried to interject, Edgeworth would swoop in, turn things around, and prompt Ema to continue testifying. Watching the two of them, Phoenix was reminded of something that Gumshoe said a long time ago, about the bond of trust between those that worked on the police force and the prosecutors. At the time, he hadn’t really understood.

Now he did.

Both of them were working together to build a wall. Bit by bit, the evidence mounted. It was something that would have been impossible to grasp if not for his current observation point. If he was down there, he’d be too busy dismantling that wall—probing for its weak spots—to appreciate the work and trust that went into building it in the first place.

“W-wait a second!” Seize finally stuttered. “Gloves! The criminal could have been wearing gloves.”

He could have pointed that out ten minutes ago, instead of arguing that his client didn’t touch the sink in the first place, Phoenix noted, glad the attorney finally picked up on something that had been nagging him for the past few minutes.

This time Edgeworth didn’t even have to say anything. “I already thought of that,” Ema replied, with a jaunty tilt to her chin and a smug grin on her face.

“You did?” Seize said, visibly deflating.

“It’s impossible. The killer wasn’t wearing gloves.” She was utterly firm and confident. “On the handle, close to the bolster, there’s a place the killer forgot to wipe clean. I found an unidentifiable partial there. This was in the report I typed up, you know.”

“B-but! Then you don’t know whose it was! It could have been from the victim!” Seize protested.

“You have a wife, don’t you, Mr. Seize?” Ema suddenly asked, looking serious.

“Yes, I do, but I don’t see what that has to do with—“

“Have you ever compared your hands to your wife’s hands? Like, held them up to one another?” she interrupted.

“Yes, of course. But, Miss Skye, I really don’t see how she—“

“Did you notice anything about the two? Like, oh say, the size difference?”

There was a pregnant pause. Seize suddenly seemed to find the top of his desk absolutely fascinating.

“Yes, that’s right,” Ema continued. “The print was too big to be the victim’s—it came from a man. But just to be sure, I double-checked it against Ms. Moore’s. Her hands are too small for it to be a match.”

Silence spread thickly over the court. It felt as though everyone was holding his or her breath, eyes beating with laser-like focus on the defense’s bench.

“Mr. Seize?” the judge prompted.

Seize looked up abruptly, expression unreadable. “Miss Skye. Did you check that print against anyone else?”

“Just Mr. Black, to make sure the size was a possible match,” she said, a note of caution coloring her voice.

“So, only my client.” He nodded to himself. “No one on…for example, the police force?”

It was Edgeworth who responded this time. “What are you trying to imply?”

“Well, Miss Skye being new to the force and all, perhaps she wasn’t as thorough as she should have—“

“I…” Ema gripped her bag strap tightly, knuckles whitening. “It’s consistent with the size of the suspect’s prints!”

Beside Phoenix, Gumshoe made a sympathetic hiss. “Ouch, that one hit a raw nerve.” At Phoenix’s curious look, he clarified, "the prosecutor in charge of her first case caught a bad mistake she made during the investigation. Happened just a few weeks ago. Gotta sting when a fellow rookie humiliates you in front of your entire department, pal."

“And it could be consistent with the size of a detective’s fingerprints,” Seize said. “Perhaps one that’s prone to making mistakes? We all know the police force is currently a little…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be the first time procedure hadn’t been properly followed. But now we’ll never know.”

“Ms. Skye,” Edgeworth began. Far from relieving Ema’s tension, she actually jerked at the sound of her name.

“There was no reason to check the prints of those working on the investigation!” she said, speaking over Edgeworth. It was the first time she hadn’t let him say his piece. Edgeworth looked vaguely surprised, an expression Phoenix was sure he mirrored.

“But there’s always the possibility…” Seize trailed off.

To make matters worse, the judge nodded as the defense attorney spoke. “Yes, if there’s no proof that the print is Mr. Black’s, then I don’t see how it can be used as evidence.”

Phoenix heard low murmurs shifting through the courtroom. Someone behind him whispered, “what are the police thinking, trying to convict someone on such shaky grounds?”

“But!” Even from up in the gallery, Phoenix could see Ema’s jaw tightening in frustration. Or was it an attempt to keep from crying? Phoenix’s stomach twisted; this was beginning to remind him of a particular painful memory. “There’s no proof that it wasn’t him! It’s the only thing that makes sense!”

“You don’t seem so sure, Miss Skye...” Seize’s smugness seemed unbearable. Ema’s gaze was directed at the ceiling—her throat constricting—and then, slowly, the floor. Anywhere, it seemed, except in Edgeworth’s direction.

“Objection!” For a split second, it was as though no one could quite tell where the sound had come from. Then, moving as one, everyone’s head turned towards the prosecution bench to where Edgeworth stood. “This accusation is ridiculous.”

It was a pronouncement. A statement of fact, not a suggestion.

And, for a moment, Phoenix forgot to breathe.

In Edgeworth's objection, he heard a faint echo of nineteen years ago—the tinge of a high and youthful voice, utterly sure, calling out to protect the wrongfully accused.

Phoenix had assumed that part of Edgeworth had been strangled in the aftermath of DL-6 and had adjusted his image of his old friend accordingly. It never occurred to Phoenix that impulse had been channeled in another direction.

Even now, Miles Edgeworth was still defending people.

“The court doesn’t deal in ‘possibilities’, it deals with evidence,” Edgeworth said. “All of the men and women working under me are highly trained professionals. Picking up evidence at a crime scene without gloves isn’t a mistake any of them would make. If you believe one of them did, where’s your proof?”

“You don’t know that they didn’t,” Seize replied.

“Yes, I do,” came the rejoinder. “Direct your attention to Ms. Skye’s report.” At mention of her name, Ema looked up. “Page three. The part about the fingerprint.”

Seize reached across the desk and began paging through a folder. “Yes, it says it’s a partial print of a pinky finger. I don’t see how this changes anything.”

Edgeworth sighed, then continued, pointing to emphasize his words. “The bolster is between the blade and handle of the knife. If one of my men picked up the knife carelessly, the partial would be of a thumb. The only reason for a pinky print to be there is if you’re holding the knife in your fist, like you’re about to stab someone.”

Seize flinched, grabbing the edge of his desk for support. “You mean…”

“Yes. As Ms. Skye said, there was no reason to check it against the investigation team’s prints. It had to come from the murderer,” Edgeworth said.

Phoenix saw Seize’s eyes racing, as though the answer to his predicament stood invisible in front of him, if he could only read it. Don’t bother, Phoenix wordlessly responded. Somehow he managed to do it. Even without a single identifiable print on the murder weapon. It was clear Edgeworth’s time in Europe had left him sharp as ever.

“Yes, I understand your point, Mr. Edgeworth,” the judge said. “Truly remarkable. I believe there’s nothing left but the verdict.”

Edgeworth bowed in response, a look of almost irritating satisfaction clear on his face, in his smile. “Of course.”

“Very well. This court finds the defendant, Mr. Felix Black…”

“Hold it!” Seize’s voice was loud, but still quavered.

“Yes, Mr. Seize?” the judge asked. “I don’t think there’s anything left in defense of your client.”

“H-his brother!” Seize stammered. Jude glanced up from his intense contemplation of the courtroom floor—Phoenix had nearly forgotten he was there—but didn’t say anything in response to Seize’s invocation. He looked resigned, like he had expected this to happen long before this point. Seize continued. “Wouldn’t the print size be a match there as well?”

“His brother’s fingerprints weren’t on the sink,” Edgeworth parried, looking bored.

“They’re identical twins! Doesn’t that…couldn’t it be possible that, um, their fingerprints are identical too?” The silence was so sudden and still a pin could have dropped on the other side of the room and been perfectly audible. Even Seize flushed in embarrassment. “Well, I mean…”

The judge’s eyes widened. His jaw dropped. “Mr. Seize, that…is an excellent point. Your thoughts, Mr. Edgeworth?”

Edgeworth reacted as though someone punched him in the stomach. His eyes bulged, and he took an involuntary half step back, jaw clenching. “You…Your Honor!” he protested, hunching over his desk as if the blow had left him unable to stand. “That’s…”

Even Phoenix was taken aback. Poor Edgeworth. I’m not sure I could respond to that either.

“You have no rebuttal?” the judge asked, looking surprised. Seize stood there shell-shocked, blinking rapidly like he expected the scene before him to melt away at any moment.

“I…that’s…” Edgeworth made a valiant effort to collect himself. “…not possible. They don’t have identical fingerprints,” he finally managed to spit out, straightening up.

“Why not?” The judge blinked. “They have the same DNA, right?”

Edgeworth reeled once more. Phoenix winced. Sure, by now there had been plenty of times Edgeworth’s trials had gone south at the last minute, but generally because he had pointed the finger at the wrong person, not because the judge wasn’t up on his genetics.

Seize shifted awkwardly. Probably doesn’t know if he should step in and help or take the verdict and run. Phoenix knew what he would do, but not all defense attorneys were like him. Still, for some reason…it grated to see Edgeworth put in this position. Perhaps it was because Phoenix could remember all the times Edgeworth had stepped in on his behalf, even against the prosecutor’s best interests.

“Are you okay, pal?” Gumshoe whispered. Phoenix started at the sound. Looking down, he saw his hands were balled against his pants, material clenched tightly in his fingers.

He forced himself to relax, releasing the fabric. “I’m fine,” he responded. “It’s just, isn’t anyone going to do anything? Black’s going to get away at this rate if Edgeworth can’t pull himself together.”

“If the prosecution can’t raise any objections…”

“Your Honor, fingerprints aren’t decided by DNA!” The voice came not from the prosecutor’s bench, but from the witness stand. Edgeworth straightened again. Ema hadn’t said anything since Edgeworth had came to her defense, but now she addressed the judge directly. “They’re formed in the womb.”

“But, if they’re twins, they were both in the same womb at the same time,” the judge protested.

Hey, shouldn’t this be the defense attorney’s job?

“Think of it this way, Your Honor.” Phoenix recognized that note in Ema’s voice. It had been there four years ago when she talked about luminol testing, dusting for fingerprints, and examining items—that excitement at imparting knowledge. “People can be in the same place at the same time, but will their experiences be the same? Fingerprints are like people’s memories—no two are alike, all of them unique to the person in question. Doesn’t that make sense?”

Not really, no. But Phoenix had to smile regardless; seeing this side of Ema was like seeing an old, though still slightly incoherent, friend.

“Hmm, yes.” The judge nodded. “I see now. That’s a poetic turn of phrase, young lady. Reminds me of my youth…”

“Thank you, Your Honor.” Ema smiled.

Wait, it actually worked? Phoenix sighed; upon reflection, this probably didn’t even make the top ten of the craziest things he’d ever seen at a trial.

“All right, now that everything is finally settled, and if we’re done wasting time—“ That was aimed in Seize’s general direction. “—I think we can all agree on the proper verdict,” the judge said.

He’s the one that caused the delay. Phoenix rolled his eyes. Seize seemed to fold in on himself before sighing and nodding his head in acceptance.

“This court finds the defendant, Mr. Felix Black…”

“Hold it!” rang out once again through the courtroom. Phoenix manfully resisted the urge to lower his face into his hands—and he thought his trial today had been a pain. Was every day in court like this for Edgeworth?

“Mr. Seize…” the judge began.

“It wasn’t me, Your Honor,” Seize protested, jerking his head towards the witness stand like he was physically trying to shake the judge’s glare off.

It was Black, breathing heavily. He leaned over the podium, trying to get as close to the judge as possible, ignoring both prosecutor and defense attorney. Great rivulets of sweat streamed down his face; tendrils of his hair escaped his previously perfectly coifed, slicked back style and stuck plastered against his forehead.

Ema stood off to the side, rubbing her arm from where Black shoved her out of the way, brows furrowed. Edgeworth’s face was an unreadable mask; it was impossible for Phoenix to tell if this was something the prosecutor planned or if it was another unexpected upset. He was surprisingly calm if it was the latter.

“W-what…” Even the judge was taken aback, leaning backwards like he was trying to escape Black just as much as Black was trying to close the distance. “Y-you have something to add, defendant?”

“This is…this is obscene!” Black hissed. As he spoke, his hand began pulling at the corner of his bandage in twitchy movements, like a fly trying to wrestle its way out of a spider web. “You can’t even prove I touched the murder weapon and you’re going to find me guilty?”

The judge’s eyes darted towards Edgeworth. “Well, his case—“

“—is based on nothing!” Black snarled. “Let me tell you something, Your Honor! The only good thing about that…woman…was that she could cook. She thought she could walk out on me? That fat cow? I’m not sorry she’s dead! But you have nothing tying me to this case! Prove I touched the knife! You can’t!

“You’re the one that said you were sure about the timing in the kitchen,” Edgeworth said. “If someone else was the killer, where are his fingerprints?”

“And what if I take it back?” Black switched his attention to Edgeworth effortlessly. The cords on his neck strained. He ripped at the bandage now, tearing it halfway off as his movements grew more and more frenzied. “What if I say I was mistaken again? What will you do? Your case will completely collapse! And that’s what you plan to convict me on? Smoke and mirrors? The ‘demon prosecutor’s’ traps and tricks?”

Edgeworth remained silent.

“I should be able to walk out of here right now! You have nothing!”

He’s not doing much to make himself look innocent. Phoenix turned to Gumshoe to gauge his reaction to all this. The detective’s eyes remained fixed on the raving man below, back tense.

“…nothing!” The last of the bandage flew off; Black flung it to the floor as though punctuating his final yell. When no one responded, he stood there panting, hands gripping the edge of the witness stand so tightly his knuckles turned white.

Finally: “Mr. Black, what is that on your hand?” Edgeworth’s voice was deadly calm, quiet, yet somehow it seemed louder than Black’s roaring.

Black clapped his hand over the other, all color bleeding from his face. Too late, even Phoenix had seen the five gouges around the area of his thumb, stark red against his tense, pale hands. The marks a woman with long fingernails, clawing and grasping for her life, would leave.

“T-that’s…” He turned to look over his shoulder. The guards moved closer to the exit in response.

“…’nothing’?” Edgeworth finished.

Black swallowed tightly, then grinned. It was a pale imitation of the one Phoenix saw earlier—the corners of his mouth twitching, no show of teeth. His shoulders slumped as the tension drained out of his body. “Yeah, Mr. Prosecutor. Nothing.”

Things moved quickly after that. The judge read the verdict, a foregone conclusion at this point. Black made no move to struggle when the guards came up to the stand, wrenched his arms behind his back, and led him away.

All of this happened in the corner of Phoenix’s vision. His eyes, his focus, remained on Edgeworth.

***

Gumshoe and Phoenix waited until the crowd thinned before leaving the courtroom. Both Edgeworth and Seize had packed up quickly and left—after the typical scheduling of post-trial meetings—before the last of the crowd dispersed.

Phoenix hadn’t realized how muggy it was inside until he exited and the relatively fresh air ran cold against his skin.

“Wasn’t that something, pal?” Gumshoe beamed as though he’d put Black away himself.

“It really was,” Phoenix admitted, remembering the look of tired contentment that had settled on Edgeworth’s face as the verdict was passed down—so different from his usual victorious smirk. He was right. I’m glad I came.

“Ema was great, huh?” Gumshoe said.

“Especially near the end there,” Phoenix said as they walked. “I really didn’t know what was going to happen until she stepped in.”

“And Mr. Edgeworth…“ Gumshoe stopped. It seemed they both caught sight of the prosecutor at the same time. He was standing over on the far side of the lobby, Ema facing him, nodding at something she was saying.

“Hey, Mr. Edgeworth!” Gumshoe bellowed across the room. Edgeworth’s head flew up—he must be used to it too, Phoenix thought. As they closed the gap, he and Edgeworth locked eyes. Phoenix saw Edgeworth stiffen in recognition, a complex mixture of emotions flickering across his face—too rapid for Phoenix to read—before he collected himself.

“Wright, what are you doing here?” It wasn’t hostile, but it was abrupt.

Nice to see you too, Edgeworth. That answered the question of whether the prosecutor had noticed his presence during the trial. Phoenix was suddenly reminded of Edgeworth’s aversion to surprises.

Ema turned around at the name “Wright”. Underneath the veneer of the young woman, he saw traces of the teenager he remembered in the delighted grin quickly spreading from ear to ear.

“Mr. Wright!” she exclaimed, moving in for a hug. Phoenix returned it somewhat awkwardly, but no less emotionally. “It’s been forever! What are you doing here?”

“Detective Gumshoe brought me to see your first trial,” Phoenix said. Edgeworth seemed to relax at that.

“More like dragged you,” Gumshoe corrected before turning to Ema. “I was just telling him how great you did, pal. Especially for an intern. Anyone would've sworn you were a true professional watching you up there!”

“Well, I am a professional, Detective,” Ema replied. But she was smiling.

“Intern?” Phoenix asked. He didn’t tell me anything about that. On giving it thought, it was true that Ema would have been unusually young for a fully licensed forensic scientist, but stranger things had happened in this precinct.

“Right,” Ema said. “They told me after I passed the initial test that one of my options was to keep studying where I was, but the reason I went to Europe in the first place was so I could be here, on the field. So why would I wait?”

“And they let you prepare key trial evidence and testify?”

“Of course,” she replied, with an easy grin and a toss of the head. “Hands on experience is the best.”

Or they were desperate.
That seemed a more likely scenario.

“I was supposed to testify at an earlier trial, but…” Ema trailed off, biting her lip. Her earlier confidence seemed to waver at the recollection.

That's right. “Detective Gumshoe told me what happened,” Phoenix said. Ema blinked in surprise, then shot a look at Gumshoe, who raised his hands defensively.

“It was a stupid mistake with the blood work,” she said. “I know I still have a lot to learn, but if I had just...” She shook her head. “Let’s just say I’m glad my first trial was with Mr. Edgeworth.” Her smile returned as she turned to the prosecutor. Edgeworth had been watching Phoenix and Ema's reunion in silence, and seemed somewhat startled at being dragged back into the conversation. “It was an honor working with you, sir.”

Phoenix saw the long-dormant embers of a schoolgirl crush pop and spark in her gaze, before dying back down into a respectful, professional admiration. If Edgeworth noticed, he gave no sign. He was too busy examining the ceiling and the surrounding walls—not meeting anyone's gaze.

“Thank you,” he finally managed with something approaching grace. “It was a pleasure working with you too, Ms. Skye.”

“Didn’t she do wonderfully?” a voice asked from behind. “I knew she would.”

Phoenix turned around. For a moment, he didn’t recognize the woman with the quiet smile and laugh lines etched beneath her eyes; his memories were of her in jail, expression pale and taut.

Ema answered his unspoken question for him. “Sis, you made it!”

“Yes, I got out early,” Lana said. The two sisters looked at one another. Phoenix thought they were going to hug, but instead Lana put her arm around Ema’s shoulders and gave a quick squeeze.

“This is quite a reunion,” she said, looking at Phoenix.

“It is,” he said, quietly. He was glad to see she was doing all right.

If possible, her eyes warmed further. It felt like stepping into a sunny patch of light. Phoenix was struck even further by how different she was from when he had defended her in court, when her words had cut and her gaze was ice.

“I was just telling Mr. Edgeworth what an honor it was working with him,” Ema said to her sister.

“I heard,” Lana said. She glanced at Edgeworth. Something seemed to pass between them, a silent communication only the two of them could understand. “Thank you for taking care of my little sister.”

Edgeworth nodded in response.

Ema raised her hand to touch her sister's, briefly, as she turned her head to look around the room—at the small crowd of friends and family that surrounded her. “I’ve got an idea!” she said, eyes lighting up, “Why don’t we all go out to celebrate?”

Inwardly, Phoenix winced reflexively, already anticipating the bill that would inevitably fall to him. Still, he thought, listening to Ema's voice rise with excitement, it might not be a bad idea.

“Oh…” Lana’s hand flew to her chest. “Actually, I…already made dinner reservations. That’s why I came over here; the trial ran a little longer than expected and I didn’t want us to be late.” She looked apologetic. “I suppose I could cancel if you want.”

Now Ema looked surprised. “N-no, I’m…I’d like that. We haven’t had a chance to really sit down and catch up yet.”

Still a little bit awkward, huh? Phoenix smiled. It was to be expected. Ema left while Lana was still in jail, and while he was sure they’d been in contact, they probably hadn’t had much time face-to-face yet.

“All right,” he said. “You two go ahead.”

“No, no,” Ema exclaimed, hastily. “I'm sure we can pull up another table. Right, Sis?” She looked over her shoulder at Lana for confirmation.

“Sorry, pal,” Gumshoe said, “I actually need to get back to the precinct. There was something the chief said during the morning briefing about a meeting near the end of the day.” He grinned sheepishly. “I figured this was more important, though!”

And that is why Detective Gumshoe has trouble paying his rent, Phoenix inwardly sighed.

“Some other time, all right?” Gumshoe grinned broadly when Ema nodded. “You keep up the good work, pal. I know you will.”

“Naturally!”

Gumshoe gave her a thumbs-up before beating a hasty retreat down the hall.

Edgeworth, meanwhile, was looking at Lana again, and Phoenix once more got the impression they were speaking without words. He seemed to come to a decision.

“I can’t make it either,” Edgeworth said. He paused for a split second. “I need to get this paperwork filed.”

Ouch, why doesn’t he just use the good old ‘I have to wash my hair’?
But that slight hesitation had told Phoenix all he needed to know. There would be plenty of time to get re-acquainted with Ema; tonight, her sister came first.

“What about you, Mr. Wright?” Ema asked.

“No,” he said, “I've really got to be getting back, too.” I was planning on having been home hours before now, anyway. He thought he saw Edgeworth nod at him, subtly, from the corner of his eye.

“In that case, we should be going now,” Lana said. Then, turning to Edgeworth, “I suppose I’ll see you in court.”

“Yes.” He nodded. “I look forward to it.”

“A pleasure, as always, Mr. Wright,” she added, turning once more to Phoenix. Ema grinned at him once more, adjusting the goggles resting on her head, before following her sister at a brisk stride towards the courthouse exit.

“What did she mean by seeing you in court?” Phoenix asked when the women and the detective were out of eyesight. In what seemed like a matter of seconds, he and Edgeworth had been left by themselves. “After what happened with Gant, I thought...”

“She’s a defense attorney now,” Edgeworth said. Phoenix blinked in surprise. That wasn’t a career choice he had expected for Lana Skye. Technically, he supposed that it made sense, as her ties to the Prosecutor's Office had been irrevocably cut—but the option of working for the opposite bench had honestly never occurred to him.

Thinking of Lana's smile, and the gentle encouragement she had given her sister, though, he thought it was probably the best thing for her. In the back of his mind, he recalled that faint echo of Mia that had startled him when he had first met the former Chief Prosecutor, more than three years ago.

“Wow…” he managed.

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Edgeworth said, turning to face Phoenix. “It’s actually pretty common. I'm surprised you haven't heard of her recent work before now.”

“As long as she’s happy,” Phoenix said. She certainly seemed so. Edgeworth nodded, and the conversation lapsed into a familiar, slightly uncomfortable silence.

Phoenix wondered why one of them didn’t take their leave and be done with it; they’d both had long days. Just a few hours ago, his greatest wish was to take a shower and a nap. It was hard to imagine Edgeworth didn’t feel the same way; the edges of his dark bangs still clung to his forehead and, this close, the circles under his eyes were obvious.

So Phoenix was just as surprised as Edgeworth when the words out of his mouth weren’t ‘see you around’.

“Actually, a celebration does sound good to me,” he said. “Why don’t we get something to eat?”
Image
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

So moe for Makoto it's funny.

Gender: Male

Location: NC, NJ, MN

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:24 am

Posts: 2501

YOU'RE AMAZING AND WONDERFUL.

SERIOUSLY.

I'm so glad you finally finished... the beginning.

It's amazing and you better write more. Now-ish :P
Image (Awesome sig art by Axl99!)
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title

Am I your wild-type?

Gender: None specified

Rank: Medium-in-training

Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2007 12:10 am

Posts: 599

You just caught my heart with that story, pal.

I look forward to the next chapter~.
*is a happy little boy now*

*sings in the tone of "Berries + Cream"*
Naru/Mitsu~ Naru/Mitsu~ I'm a little lad who loves Naru/Mitsu!
Image
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I--only half jokingly--referred to it several times as the worst P/E fic ever while writing it, if only because there's such a singluar lack of the pairing in the first chapter. (I was also afraid the trial was terribly dull. Nice to know at least one person got through it!)
Image
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title

Am I your wild-type?

Gender: None specified

Rank: Medium-in-training

Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2007 12:10 am

Posts: 599

musouka wrote:
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I--only half jokingly--referred to it several times as the worst P/E fic ever while writing it, if only because there's such a singluar lack of the pairing in the first chapter. (I was also afraid the trial was terribly dull. Nice to know at least one person got through it!)


You know what they say... You're your own worst critique. Don't worry about it. =P

Pfft. I've seen really cheesy and almost unrealistic trials with other people's OC's.. ((Not that I'm going to mention names or anything.. *shifty eyes*)) So this trial was pretty refreshing to read. I'd have to say you and Croik have come up with trials that actually feel like the game. *nods*
Image
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

Rookie

Gender: Female

Location: The US of A

Rank: Medium-in-training

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 5:34 pm

Posts: 508

I read this at two in the morning today after stumbling across it at ff.net. I had to skim some of the paragraphs (desperately trying to avoid potential PW3 spoilers here). I'm so glad you posted here, because I finally figured out who CFTF is (I hate being new), and that acronym was driving me mad this morning. :P

Quote:
I--only half jokingly--referred to it several times as the worst P/E fic ever while writing it, if only because there's such a singluar lack of the pairing in the first chapter.


Don't. Please. That's one of the reasons I loved this chapter so much. Far too often to I find fanauthors are so eager to rush headlong into the romance that they completely push aside any effort to build up to it, and in the long run it makes the completed story feel rushed and lacking. You're at least taking the time to build up a basis for their relationship, and as the reader I can't thank you enough for that.

I also loved the trial, and the way Edgeworth and Ema played off each other. She admittingly wasn't one of my favorite characters in Ace Attorney (she felt too much like Maya II to me), but you really brought her into her own here.
Avvie image by Sklarvv.
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

So moe for Makoto it's funny.

Gender: Male

Location: NC, NJ, MN

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:24 am

Posts: 2501

Mu knows she's really not the worst. At least, she should, or we beat her with (foam) bats. Because this is still amazing.

Also, hi, I'm CFTF. Sorry for the acronym headache >.>
Image (Awesome sig art by Axl99!)
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

Rookie

Gender: Female

Location: The US of A

Rank: Medium-in-training

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 5:34 pm

Posts: 508

Nah, it's ok. :P I realized it was you as soon as I saw your first post and then I wanted to slam my head into the monitor because it all seemed so obvious.
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

Officer 1BDI wrote:
Don't. Please. That's one of the reasons I loved this chapter so much. Far too often to I find fanauthors are so eager to rush headlong into the romance that they completely push aside any effort to build up to it, and in the long run it makes the completed story feel rushed and lacking. You're at least taking the time to build up a basis for their relationship, and as the reader I can't thank you enough for that.


Thank you, that really means a lot to me. As Funk, Raelle and everyone else I mentioned in my notes knows veeery well, it was something I was nervous about, but I do think a relationship like P/E requires a lot of careful build-up before any sort of honestly romantic moment can happen. Even if I wanted to skip right to the good stuff, I wouldn't be able to--not if I wanted it to come across authentically.

Officer 1BDI wrote:
I also loved the trial, and the way Edgeworth and Ema played off each other. She admittingly wasn't one of my favorite characters in Ace Attorney (she felt too much like Maya II to me), but you really brought her into her own here.


Hahaha, I'm really really happy someone mentioned Ema! To be as vague as possible, it was very difficult trying to find a balance between how she was back then and what we know of her now, coupled with the fact that she's still very young and not quite in the same position in this AU. (Whew, that's nebulous) But, I'm happy with what we came up with, and I'm glad you enjoyed her too.
Image
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

So moe for Makoto it's funny.

Gender: Male

Location: NC, NJ, MN

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:24 am

Posts: 2501

I reread it, and it's still awesome.


MOAR.
Image (Awesome sig art by Axl99!)
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

You must have been bored today. :sal:

I AM working. XD This next chapter is just so damn dense and there's a million things I have to do with it. :sob: The Fran bit has been the funnest part to write so far. Von Karma siblings forever~
Image
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

So moe for Makoto it's funny.

Gender: Male

Location: NC, NJ, MN

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:24 am

Posts: 2501

I had some time on my hands at work >_>

And hooray! Moar!

(and hooray! Flan! :D)
Image (Awesome sig art by Axl99!)
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

Legal Aid

Gender: Female

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 6:35 am

Posts: 199

I always like a good romantic :phoenix: / :edgy: fan fiction! So if I have to wait a little longer for the next chapter it will be worth it.
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

I like a man with a big ... vocabulary.

Gender: Female

Location: Made in England (More Tea, Vicar?)

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:20 pm

Posts: 1193

I really love this story BECAUSE of the court section. It brought in so many small elements that are present throughout the games and it was lovely to see (albeit through Phoenix's eyes) the court action without being involved.

I'm also of the "slow burn" mindset in regard to P&E and in fact in my mind I'm still on the fence about whether when it comes to it they would choose to make the leap. Take as much time as you like! I'm really savouring the story!
"Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good". - Thomas Paine
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title

Warehouse Tiger

Gender: Female

Location: England

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:51 am

Posts: 205

You know what?

This particular fanfic has been singing it's siren call to me ever since you first posted it, but due to the fact it had potential PW3 spoilers, I had to resist D:

I had a vague feeling that I was building my hopes too high for this, as my mind runs on the process of grass on the other side is always greener, but you've managed to hop, skip, jump and cartwheel above all of my expectations.

The fact there is pretty much no hint of P/E at all really echoes the feel of the games (starting out slow and comfy, introducing a shock factor, building in to a frantic crescendo and revelling in the pure energy of it's climax) and works brilliantally for the characters concerned- It took 17 years for them to even reach the level of trust they are at now.

In all simplicity: akjdkajsjkagd LOVE

~Zizzo
Image
Image
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

Thank all three of you so much. It really makes me feel good to hear that it's enjoyable even in slow-burn mode. It's also good to hear that about the trial, since...there's going to be quite a few more of them eventually. (Full ones too) ^^;;
Image
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

I like a man with a big ... vocabulary.

Gender: Female

Location: Made in England (More Tea, Vicar?)

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:20 pm

Posts: 1193

Ah! When this came to the top of the list I thought you'd added more. *weeps*.
"Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good". - Thomas Paine
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

Lolwut?

Gender: Female

Location: Florida

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 8:30 pm

Posts: 826

*Reads*

I'm a sucker for P/E. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people just bull rush to the romance, with little or no development involved, so yay! :keiko:
Too lazy... hur hur.
Re: Struggling Against Gravity [GS3 spoilers] [P/E]Topic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

Notes: This was a collaborative chapter between Raelle and myself. It probably won't be the last. (That's also why it's under both our names on fanfiction.net; it's a shared universe.) Anything you like is probably her doing. <3

This chapter has MAJOR GS3 spoilers! You have been warned.


Struggling Against Gravity
Chapter Two



Phoenix didn’t know exactly what answer he’d expected from Edgeworth upon his invitation, but it hadn’t been this long, painful stretch of silence. He shifted his weight on to his other foot as he waited, seconds slowing down to hours.

Edgeworth’s non-response seemed to come in stages. First, a blank stare, as though he had failed to register what Phoenix had just said. Then his eyes slid to the direction of the exit behind the defense attorney, as though he wanted to escape the awkward situation entirely. Finally he returned his attention back to the court files still in his arms—a different sort of evasion.

By this point Phoenix was sure the other man was trying to come up with a better excuse than ‘filing paperwork’. While Phoenix appreciated the sentiment, he was entirely capable of understanding if Edgeworth wanted to go home, pour himself a glass of wine, and lounge around in a fluffy pink bathrobe—or whatever he did to relax.

It’s not like I have a gun to his head, Phoenix thought. Just as he was about to rescind the invitation and cut his losses, the other man came to a decision.

“All right,” Edgeworth finally said.

“If you don’t want—huh?” Phoenix swallowed the rest of his sentence, not quite sure how to respond. The only thing that sprang readily to mind was asking ‘are you sure?’ which didn’t seem to be the proper sort of reply—and made him wonder why he’d put forth the invitation in the first place if he was so sure Edgeworth would turn him down.

So now it was his turn to go through the three stages of awkward silence as Edgeworth waited. If Phoenix had suddenly become tongue-tied, it seemed as though Edgeworth had found his voice at last. “Where did you have in mind?”

Good question. Phoenix really hadn’t thought beyond the spur-of-the-moment overture. This was difficult. He knew all the hamburger joints (there were seventeen) within walking distance because of Maya’s influence, but it was hard to imagine Edgeworth wanting to eat at “Joe’s Burger Shack”. There were also problems inherent in letting Edgeworth choose the restaurant; Phoenix didn’t relish the thought of paying approximately the same for a plate of food as he did his monthly electric bill.

He wracked his brain for a few more moments—Mexican didn’t really appeal tonight; he’d heard there was a decent Russian restaurant in the general vicinity, but he couldn’t remember where it was supposedly located—before admitting, “I don’t know. Why don’t we just see what’s in the area?”

The slight frown on Edgeworth’s face told Phoenix the prosecutor was once again questioning how good an idea this dinner really was, but it didn’t seem Edgeworth had any alternatives to offer, so he gave a short nod and hefted his files slightly. “Let me put these away in my car. I’ll be right back.”

“I’ll meet you outside.” Phoenix said, motioning to the exit. He assumed Edgeworth had parked in the underground lot available to attorneys instead of the public parking garage out front.

Edgeworth nodded again before turning around and walking away. His quick footsteps seemed loud against the marble floor; by this point in the evening the building had mostly cleared and the low hum of voices no longer filled the lobby.

Phoenix watched him until he took a sharp left at the first hallway and disappeared out of sight before exiting out the front of the building. It was late enough in the evening that the heat of the summer day had mostly dissipated along with the setting sun, leaving a chill in the air. Phoenix settled against one of the thick, Corinthian columns that held up the overhanging eaves of the courthouse and waited.

As he leaned and watched, people came trickling out of the courthouse. At first it was mostly men and women in neutral, dark suits, badges proudly affixed to their left lapel, but as time passed they were mixed in with more ostentatious people in brighter colors or stranger clothing.

A girl that looked about sixteen bounced by, dressed in a navy blue jumper dress and white blouse, hair done up in a French braid. He was sure she was someone’s daughter until he caught sight of the telltale badge glinting in the failing light. He shook his head. …must be from Europe.

“…no, looks like the trial is going to run later. I’m on, uh, recess…” a man in a teal suit said loudly into a cell phone. He waved to a woman waiting down near the end of the sidewalk, “I’ve got to go, they’re letting people back in.”

Phoenix checked his watch. Fifteen minutes. He turned his focus back on the people walking by.

One vaguely familiar blonde woman, wearing a slinky, form-fitting red dress and elbow-length silk gloves, looked like she had gotten lost on her way to some Hollywood party—back in the 1940s. Prosecutor, Phoenix wordlessly labeled as she stomped past him and down the wide courthouse steps, shoving aside anyone unlucky enough to get in her way. Whichever she was, it didn’t look as though her case had gone very well.

A flash of black caught his peripheral vision; he heard someone complain on the other side of the pillar, “…I can’t believe that idiot scheduled practice after my testimony. Some of us work full days and need to sleep…”

But red dresses, teal suits, slashes of black, and braids alike, none of them were wearing a maroon suit and ruffles against their neck. He felt nailed to the spot, watching as the courthouse slowly emptied and its occupants moved on to their people to see and places to go. Phoenix found his head turning towards the exit every time the doors swished open—still no sign of Edgeworth.

Phoenix glanced at his watch again. What’s taking him so long? He tried to drum up some good, self-righteous indignation over being made to wait for more than half an hour, but the heavy, sick feeling in his stomach was too distracting. It was hard not to feel conspicuous and vulnerable as everyone walked past.

Just as he was about to go in and look for the other man—or verify that his car was gone—Edgeworth appeared out the front doors, scanning the area. Relief washed through Phoenix, quieting the knots twisting in his stomach. When their eyes met, Edgeworth raised his hand in an awkward half-wave and walked over to where Phoenix stood.

“Sorry,” he said before Phoenix could open his mouth. The prosecutor’s brows were knit in frustration, but Phoenix didn’t think it was directed at him. “Are you ready?”

Phoenix nodded and fell into pace beside him.

“So, which way?” Phoenix asked as they walked down the steps together, feeling not only relieved, but also unaccountably lighter at Edgeworth’s reappearance.

Edgeworth slowly surveyed the options in both directions. “Should I flip a coin?”

Don’t get too enthusiastic, Edgeworth. I might think you actually want to be here. Despite the sarcasm, the grin on Phoenix’s face never wavered. No matter how dour Edgeworth’s attitude, Phoenix was vaguely surprised to find he was genuinely looking forward to the evening more than he had anything in a long time.

***

The first set of blocks that stretched east from the courthouse were acutely familiar to Phoenix; Maya had dragged him in this direction fairly frequently in the immediate aftermath of a trial, as that happened to be the general locale of her favorite burger joint. He'd long lost count of how much money he had spent appeasing his assistant's apparently bottomless stomach; for a moment he almost dared to hope that this excursion would prove a little easier on his wallet. Then he remembered who he was actually with, and the brief flicker turned to ash as soon as it had sparked.

Beyond the scope of Joe's, however, was mostly uncharted territory. While sitting in a booth with Maya, and occasionally Pearl, Phoenix remembered that a few of the places he could see in the distance from the window seemed fairly ritzy—he supposed that what had compelled him to choose this direction to take Edgeworth, who had been mostly silent since they had begun to walk.

Truth be told, it was a strange feeling. He couldn't recall a time when he and Edgeworth had walked calmly, side by side, not facing each other from opposite ends of a courtroom or rushing across gravel to break into a celebrity's house and rescue hostages. Edgeworth's stride was as brisk as when he walked out of court, and Phoenix had to step up his own pace to keep up.

“Have you been in this area?” he asked.

“Once or twice,” Edgeworth said.

Try being a little more succinct, Edgeworth. It could do you some good.

Still, he pressed on. “Anything down here?”

“A few places.”

You could work on being less specific, too.

Still, with that in mind, he let Edgeworth take the lead, content—he supposed—to follow beyond his footsteps and eyes trained on the back of his head. The silence had once again taken its rein, despite his best efforts.

His eyes scanned the line of restaurant names and establishments that they passed; most of them were places he himself would have been more than happy to stop in for a quick soup and sandwich, but judging from the way Edgeworth's footsteps didn't even slow as they passed, they didn't register so much as options in the prosecutor's mind.

Phoenix stopped—one particular building had caught his eye. Edgeworth made it a few more paces forward before realizing that his shadow had abruptly disappeared; he glanced backwards and then turned around to join Phoenix.

The rich, dark color alone stood out from the other buildings, with the bright décor and neon signs apt for casual diners—the way it loomed, the balcony protruding outwards from the second floor, the carved wood highlighted against the dim light of the streetlamps a few yards out, brought to Phoenix's mind the image of rich wine and—dare he say it—maybe even wealthy prosecutors in cravats. But more than any of that, the thing that had caught Phoenix's attention was how familiar it seemed.

It puzzled him—then it clicked. The polished wood carving and the feel of something ancient and unmovable reminded him of the old library from Ivy University, where he had spent countless days and nights poring over legal books, amongst a few other things.

“Hey, Edgeworth. Do you know this place?”

“No,” Edgeworth said. “I don't remember this being here last time I was in the area.”

It really has been years, huh. Funny how it had slipped his mind so easily.

Phoenix leaned forward slightly, squinting at the sign outside the door. To his surprise, the specials listed to draw in potential customers were actually affordable, even if he could barely pronounce them. He tried to sound out the unfamiliar name. “Freunden Fressen. That's...”

“It's German, Wright,” Edgeworth murmured. His voice was surprisingly free of disdain.

I guess you'd know, wouldn't you? Personally, Phoenix still couldn't hear the word 'Germany' without forcing down the instinct to duck and cover for any potential whip attacks.

They lingered outside. Phoenix stuffed his hands into his pockets and glanced at Edgeworth; he wasn't sure he wanted to be the one who suggested the place outright. But Edgeworth met his eyes; one of his eyebrows flicked upwards in an expectant sort of well?

Phoenix shrugged, and pushed the doors open. It seemed to be as firm a consensus as they were likely to come to.

It was like stepping into a cave paneled entirely in dark wood. Age and quiet care gave it a warm sheen in the low light; this was clearly a place well traveled over the years. Directly in front, there was a staircase leading up into what Phoenix assumed was the main seating area of the restaurant. Over to the right, Phoenix noticed a bar with a few patrons silently nursing their drinks.

“Do you have a reservation?” someone said, traces of a German accent clear in his intonation. Phoenix started; in the dimness he hadn’t noticed the headwaiter there over by the stairs.

Before Phoenix could speak, Edgeworth replied, “No, we don’t, but we’re hoping you still have seating available.”

The man made a slight production out of pushing his wire-rimmed glasses up and checking the bound book in front of him, before looking back to the two men and saying, “It seems there was a cancellation earlier this evening. There’s a booth open. It’s close to the kitchen, though.”

“That’s fine,” Phoenix said quickly. At this point he didn’t care if they had to eat in the kitchen; he was hungry.

The headwaiter led them up the stairs, which creaked and moaned under their feet in a way that brought to mind old, turn-of-the-century houses. They made their way past several occupied booths and tables. Perhaps it was because of the atmosphere—maybe all that wood soaked up sound like a sponge did water—but even the boisterous laughter at one of the large tables tucked into a corner near the head of the stairs seemed muted, as though from very far away.

When they reached their booth, Edgeworth slid in first, then Phoenix on the opposite side. Both took the proffered menus and spent the next several minutes silently studying their options. Phoenix was inwardly relieved to note the regular entrées, while not as cheap as a night at “Joe’s Burger Shack” by far, were still reasonably priced, even if he couldn’t pronounce any of their names. At least the descriptions were bilingual, so he didn’t have to play Russian roulette with his food.

Well, if he could find something that looked good. The menu was cramped and, for some reason, he was having trouble focusing, everything seemed to blur together in endless strings of nonsense consonants and vowels.

“If you’re having trouble deciding, I would recommend the Schweinsbraten.”

Phoenix looked up. That’s right, he’d familiar with the food too. But Edgeworth was staring at his own menu like he’d never spoken in the first place.

“Thanks,” Phoenix finally said. Edgeworth gave no indication he’d heard the reply, so Phoenix bent his head to locate the dish the prosecutor had mentioned.

There it was, in the corner. He would have missed it entirely if it hadn't been pointed out to him. Even in print, the name didn't ring any bells. Apparently it was roasted pork of some kind.

Eventually Phoenix’s eyes got tired of pretending to navigate the endless umlauts of the German names. He’d long since decided on the entrée Edgeworth recommended anyway. He put his menu down and focused his attention on the man across from him.

The shadows from the dim light were long against Edgeworth’s face as he continued to study his own menu like it was a vital piece of court evidence. In fact, Phoenix noticed, he was even holding it the same way.

Of all the habits to carry over… Phoenix swallowed a chuckle, but apparently something in his expression showed, because Edgeworth suddenly glanced up. His eyes narrowed slightly, as if daring Phoenix to laugh. Oh honestly, why is he so on edge tonight?

Edgeworth sighed, folded his menu, and put it on the table, as though to say ‘you win, Wright’. What Phoenix won, he wasn’t really sure—by no stretch of the imagination was trying to make small talk with Miles Edgeworth some sort of fabulous prize. He struggled to think of something to discuss; talking to his friend could be like navigating an emotional minefield.

Finally he decided on something (hopefully) neutral: the case Edgeworth had just finished.

“So, the trial…” Phoenix said, voice sounding unnaturally loud and stiff to his own ears. “I’m still not sure how Black’s brother played into it. I know he threw in reasonable doubt, but…”

Edgeworth paused. Phoenix could practically see the mental drawbridge being raised, before the prosecutor seemingly remembered Phoenix hadn’t been his opponent, and even if he had, the trial was over.

“The first day we focused mostly on the blood work, “ Edgeworth finally began. “Things were going well, all of the contradictions pointed out were minor and easily explained.” His expression grew sour as he drummed his fingers against the table. “Then Black told us he had a twin brother with a criminal record, and he lived in the same building.”

Phoenix’s eyebrows raised. “How did you miss that?

“You’d have to ask Detective Gumshoe that question,” Edgeworth replied, gaze growing distant, as though calculating the exact amount an error of that magnitude should cost the detective, in more ways than one.

Urk. Sorry, Detective, Phoenix inwardly apologized. Let’s try to get off this subject.

“So, it was more like blind luck on that defense attorney’s part,” Phoenix said.

“Oh, Simon Seize?” Edgeworth’s bitter grin curdled even further. “Yes, I was…congratulated by several of my fellow prosecutors for scoring the ‘easy win’ this time.”

I’m not sure an office that employs Prosecutor Payne has bragging rights in that regard, Phoenix thought. “He’s known for that sort of thing?” Phoenix was hardly surprised, judging by what he’d seen in court, but he thought it better for Edgeworth to focus on the defense’s failings than Gumshoe’s.

“Yes.” Edgeworth nodded. “Supposedly he was promising at one point, and then he blew a huge case about a year ago. He hasn’t won a case or even lasted more than a day in trial since then.”

Why do people keep on hiring him? Phoenix shook his head. And then he breaks his ‘one day’ streak with Edgeworth. I can’t imagine that went over well at the Prosecutors Office.

“It wasn’t that bad.” Edgeworth’s expression didn’t change. “Not as bad as the reaction to my first loss.”

Phoenix desperately wondered what was taking their waiter so long.

***

Where were you ten minutes ago? Phoenix couldn’t help but ask as the waiter made his way across the floor in their direction—clearly they didn’t train their wait staff in the “law of good timing” here. At least he looked suitably apologetic.

“My treat,” Phoenix said, before the waiter got there. He wasn’t sure if his client would prove to be a deadbeat or not, but he was the one that had invited Edgeworth out in the first place, and it was supposed to be a celebration—which seemed to mean plundering his wallet was expected.

Edgeworth’s stare was unreadable.

Their waiter finally made it over to the end of the table; he opened his mouth—no doubt to recite the specials—but Edgeworth cut him off. “Separate checks, please.”

Is he doing this on purpose? Phoenix shifted irritably, but held his tongue. He wasn’t about to say no to a night out where he didn’t have to pay for anyone aside from himself for a change.

The waiter blinked, ducking and scratching the back of his head as the awkward silence hovering around the booth claimed another victim. “That’s fine,” he ventured, looking to Phoenix.

“I’ll have the…” Phoenix trailed off. “This one.” He pointed to his menu.

Edgeworth had no difficulty giving the name of his entrée.

Showoff.

“Can I get you gentlemen anything to drink?” The waiter seemed to have regained some of his composure now that things were going smoothly.

Edgeworth reached for the wine list. Upon reading, his eyebrow quirked in a familiar, small show of appreciation. “If you can guarantee it’s from a fresh bottle, I’ll take a glass of the Vin-Soulier,” he said.

Phoenix reached for the list when he was done. His eyebrows raised for an entirely different reason; somehow the thought of paying more than half his entrée price for a single glass of wine didn’t appeal. “I’ll…just have water.”

Edgeworth glanced at him briefly. “Another glass of the same, please.”

Phoenix blinked, but before he could say anything, the waiter had already nodded and bid a hasty retreat.

“I don’t really know much about wine,” Phoenix admitted, not wanting to fall back into the pit of quiet suppression. “But I guess that’s pretty good?” If we’re going by price, it must be the equivalent of fillet mignon.

“I’m more familiar with French vintages than the more local ones,” Edgeworth said easily. “But wine from the same vineyard is what we usually have at our district office parties. It’s very good.”

My tax dollars at work, Phoenix thought. “How has it been, coming back?” he asked.

“It’s about what I expected,” Edgeworth said.

That’s nice and vague. Phoenix didn’t dare give voice to what he really wanted to ask—why Edgeworth had come back. With the conversation going this smoothly—relatively speaking—the last thing Phoenix wanted to do was bring it to a screeching halt again. “No problems, then? That’s good.”

“Those that liked me still do, those that don’t…well, their opinion hasn’t changed either.” The expression on Edgeworth’s face seemed to flicker briefly; it could have been the lighting. “It’s almost like I never left.”

“I’ve heard…” Phoenix hesitated for a moment.

Edgeworth seemed to understand what he was about to say. The corner of his mouth curled in a short, mirthless grin. “The office has been having difficulties?” He paused, and suddenly something seemed to collapse within his frame. The circles under his eyes Phoenix had noticed earlier now seemed not just from lack of one night’s sleep but from countless late nights. “It’s a mess.”

Phoenix didn’t know how to respond, so he was silent.

Edgeworth continued, quietly, almost like he was talking to himself, “If I hadn’t been warned…” Then, louder: “It’s been hard keeping prosecutors. You’ve probably lost count of the scandals making the news. And the higher-ups would rather use propaganda to sway public opinion instead of getting to the root of the problem.” The disgust practically dripped from his words, and Phoenix had to suppress another small smile, knowing he would take it the wrong way. Edgeworth used to get that same—Larry had called it "preachy"—edge to his tone all the time when they were children.

Propaganda, huh? Phoenix wasn’t sure what he was talking about specifically, but the idea itself wasn’t shocking. In other words, typical politicians.

Phoenix was just about to ask another question when Edgeworth quickly, and clumsily, changed the subject, obviously not wanting to continue on this line of discussion. “What’s been going on with you, Wright?”

“Uh, the usual…I guess,” Phoenix said. “There was that big case about six months ago.” It had been before Edgeworth came back. Phoenix was just thankful that it hadn’t, for once, landed one of the Feys in mortal peril.

Edgeworth tilted his head and smirked. In a way, it was almost a relief to see. Anything was better than the weary man sitting in front of him a few moments earlier. “Yes, I remember reading about that one. It managed to make the papers over there—people were asking me about you. You’re becoming infamous even overseas.”

He could have left it at “famous”…

Phoenix had never even been out of the state; it was strange to think of people over in Europe talking about him with Edgeworth. It was even stranger to envision Edgeworth conversing with people—his coworkers. Edgeworth didn’t have much good to say about the people he worked with here; Phoenix wondered if it was different when he was overseas. Had Edgeworth been more social; did he have regular dinner dates, meet people for drinks? Did he have office friendships, smile when he talked to people instead of furrowing his brows in irritation?

It was hard to imagine. Edgeworth in any language was still Edgeworth, Phoenix decided. If things had been so much better over there, then he wouldn’t be frowning across from Phoenix right now.

As long as the topic had been broached, there was one person Edgeworth had probably been in regular contact with that they both knew. “Speaking of Europe, how’s—“ Phoenix stopped, trying to think how he should address her. Simple was probably best, he decided. It wasn’t like she was here to whip him for his disrespect. “—Franziska doing?”

“As far as I know, she’s doing well,” Edgeworth said.

“As far as you know?” Phoenix parroted, frowning slightly.

“I haven’t seen her since I last faced her in court.”

But that was a year and a half ago! Phoenix blinked. First the year in between the Engarde trial and Iris’s trial, and now nearly another two years without face to face contact. He understood it was difficult to keep in touch when you lived halfway across the world, but when they were in the same general area?

But then Edgeworth’s expression softened slightly. Phoenix stared, not sure he had ever seen a look of such unguarded affection on the prosecutor’s face before. “She calls me whenever she wins,” Edgeworth said. “Which is quite often.”

“She’s on another winning streak?” Phoenix asked.

“That I don’t know,” Edgeworth admitted, a faint hint of a wry grin tugging the corners of his mouth. “She doesn’t call when she loses.”

That sounds like her all right. It was almost sweet, until he remembered that perverse von Karma pride had been responsible for whipping him unconscious at one point. Phoenix pitied the defense attorneys that had to face her after a loss.

“You two are considered quite the rivals over there,” Edgeworth said.

“What?” Phoenix boggled. He knew the coverage of his cases had been wider the second year he’d been in practice, but that was just strange. What exactly did those newspapers report?

“One young woman I worked with was desperate to know when you two were going to have a rematch.”

‘Rematch’? They’re trials, not tennis matches. Before Phoenix could respond, their waiter arrived with a small loaf of bread—warm, no doubt—cutting board, plates, and two glasses of water in tow. He set the spread down, glancing at their faces as he did. What he saw seemed to relieve him, because he lost some of his stiffness and ventured, “I forgot to ask, did you want your wine with the meal or right now?”

Edgeworth’s eyes had narrowed slightly at the waiter’s stare—Phoenix was lost as to what could possibly be annoying him this time, but with Edgeworth it didn’t take much—before he shook himself out of whatever was occupying his thoughts and said, “Now is fine.”

He looked to Phoenix for additional confirmation. Phoenix nodded, inwardly shrugging. Might as well leave it to the expert.

As their waiter went to get their wine, Edgeworth took the knife and sliced himself the heel of the bread. He buttered it in a quick, easy motion, then took a bite. “Nm,” he considered, swallowing. “It’s not bad.” High praise, coming from Edgeworth.

Phoenix reached for the knife himself. With some small difficulty he managed to hack off a small slice—doing it without grasping the rest of the loaf was harder than Edgeworth made it look—and put it in his mouth.

He almost spit it back out.

Phoenix supposed sourdough bread was lost on him. If given a choice for bread with his meal, it was right down there near the bottom, alongside hardtack. As far back as he could remember he’d disliked that sour flavor and the aftertaste it left on his tongue. He took a large gulp of water, resisting the urge to swish it around in his mouth like mouthwash to get rid of the remaining traces.

But as he watched Edgeworth reach for the loaf again, knife in hand, some perverse impulse caused him to pop the rest of the piece in his mouth and chew. Edgeworth looked at him, seemingly amused.

“I see you haven’t changed,” Edgeworth said, pausing in buttering another slice.

Phoenix swallowed. Come to think of it, wasn’t the first time I ever had sourdough bread at his house?

***

Phoenix couldn’t remember how the Edgeworth home had looked, overall. His dim memories were of a two-story house and long hallways with wood flooring; a large, open kitchen; and a vague feeling of being impressed. It was the first time he’d ever been invited to spend the night at Edgeworth’s house. Larry was supposed to have been there too, but he hadn’t been able to make it—probably grounded.

They had been up in Miles’s room, playing. It was getting late when Miles suddenly turned to him and asked, “Are you getting hungry?”

“Yeah, kinda,” Phoenix admitted. Truthfully, his family usually ate dinner a couple of hours previous, but he hadn’t wanted to say anything.

“All right, I’ll go get my dad,” Miles said.

“No, that’s okay! I’m not that hungry!” Phoenix protested, remembering how serious Miles had been when he’d greeted Phoenix at the door and told him that his father was working so they’d both have to be quiet. He’d somehow gotten the idea that interrupting Gregory Edgeworth was like asking a superhero to stop saving that woman in the burning building and order him a pizza instead.

But Miles shook his head. “If I don’t remind him, he’ll probably forget.”

Forget what? To eat? Phoenix thought.

Miles stopped at the door and admitted, “I’m hungry too.”

Phoenix watched from the safety of Miles’s doorway as his friend padded down the hallway and rapped sharply on the door to his father’s study. A few moments later, the door cracked open and out stepped Gregory Edgeworth.

He looked almost disappointingly ordinary to Phoenix, who had been expecting someone akin to Superman in a business suit. He wasn’t even wearing a suit. Instead, he had on a pair of dark slacks and a white dress shirt. The sleeves were rolled up to the elbows; he pushed one up in a distracted motion as he regarded his son.

Then he smiled. “Sorry, I must have lost track of the time.”

Miles nodded sagely. “That’s what I thought,” he said. “Are you sure you don’t want to just order something?”

“No, no,” Mr. Edgeworth said. “I’ve been looking forward to this all day.” He turned towards Phoenix. “You must be Phoenix. I’ve heard a lot about you from Miles.”

Phoenix walked forward. As he approached, Mr. Edgeworth held out his hand; Phoenix tentatively offered his own and Mr. Edgeworth took it firmly, like he was meeting someone important, instead of his son’s nine-year-old friend.

About that time, Phoenix decided Miles’s dad was pretty cool, even if he didn’t look like Superman.

“All right, let’s go make some spaghetti,” Mr. Edgeworth said.

Phoenix followed the two of them downstairs and into the immaculate kitchen. Upon entering, Mr. Edgeworth instantly took charge. Rolling his sleeves up even further, he told Miles, “I need you to get me the ground beef and eggs out of the refrigerator.”

Miles walked to the large, stainless steel monstrosity and tugged the door open. Standing on tiptoes, his fingers caught the edge of the package on the back of the top shelf and he pulled it out. In the meantime, Mr. Edgeworth had retrieved a stack of mixing bowls of varying sizes from the high cabinets running above the countertops.

Phoenix shifted from foot to foot, unsure of whether he should be helping or if he’d just be getting in the way. As if reading his thoughts, Mr. Edgeworth suddenly smiled and said, “Why don’t you help Miles get the spices we need, Phoenix?”

He then recited a list; it might as well have been in Greek to Phoenix, but Miles nodded and motioned him over to the walk-in pantry, where he pulled himself up onto the shelves—Phoenix couldn’t help but think his mom would have a field day with that. Bracing himself with one foot against a large bag of flour, Miles began searching through and handing down a variety of small glass bottles. Phoenix eventually gave up trying to hold them and used his shirt as a makeshift basket.

“Take those over to my dad,” Miles said, as he jumped down and bent over to retrieve a heavy, long, stainless steel pot.

When Phoenix made it back to Mr. Edgeworth, he said, “Thank you. Why don’t you wash your hands, and then help me roll the meatballs?”

Phoenix washed and dried his hands—too slowly for Miles, it seemed, who was waiting with the pot in tow and making impatient noises in the back of his throat. After Phoenix was done, Miles hefted the pot into the sink and turned on the faucet. Phoenix took a place to the right of Mr. Edgeworth, and, a short time later, Miles took a spot to Phoenix’s right.

They rolled in silence for a few minutes, Phoenix only stopped when the raw meat grew too cold for his fingers and he had to flex them to make the feeling return. Then, Miles took a glance at Phoenix’s pile.

“You’re doing it wrong,” he said, sounding almost personally affronted by Phoenix’s inability to adhere to the proper standards of meatball rolling. At Phoenix’s questioning look, Miles continued, “They have to be the same size, otherwise they won’t cook evenly. That one—“ he pointed to one of Phoenix’s meatballs, “—and that one—“ he pointed to the one beside it, “—are completely different sizes.”

“Really?” Phoenix asked. They didn’t look that different to him.

There was a noise that sounded suspiciously like suppressed laughter to Phoenix’s left. Mr. Edgeworth leaned down close to Phoenix and whispered, “He used to have the same problem.”

That prompted a sour look from Miles, who didn’t seem too thrilled at his authority being undermined—Mr. Edgeworth really did chuckle at that—but he didn’t say anything to his father. Instead, he turned back to Phoenix. “Here, let me show you how to do it.”

Eventually, Mr. Edgeworth left them to it and began puttering around in the background. The sound of pots sliding on to burners and things being opened and shut filled the air. Once they were done rolling, Mr. Edgeworth rescued their piles of meatballs, popped them in a skillet and the aroma of frying meat and bubbling sauce was added to the overall mixture of sight and sound.

“It'll be ready soon,” Mr. Edgeworth told them, apparently amused at the pair of eager eyes perched over his shoulder, watching their combined efforts come to fruition.

When the timer went off for the spaghetti noodles, Miles motioned Phoenix over to a drawer and handed him three sets of silverware before retrieving the pasta bowls and water glasses stacked on the counter. He gathered all six of the items up, bringing them over to the kitchen table. Phoenix followed in his wake, glancing nervously at the way the glassware trembled with each step Miles took.

Once there, Phoenix got a lesson in table-setting etiquette as Miles corrected nearly everything he set.

“The fork goes on the other side,” he said easily, squinting at a glass. “Dad, this one has spots, can you get me down another one?”

Phoenix’s family went by the ‘as long as we have utensils to eat, who cares’ rule, but it was impossible to get too annoyed with Miles. It was like getting mad at a cat for being a cat.

“All right, boys, it’s done,” Mr. Edgeworth pronounced. “Bring your bowls over and I’ll start serving.”

By this point, if Phoenix thought he'd been hungry before, the time it took to prepare the food—not to mention the smell of it as it cooked—had left him starving. He heaped his plate generously, and saw Miles doing the same. They sat down at the same side of the table, across from Mr. Edgeworth, who passed out a small, individual sized loaves of warm bread before settling down himself.

He resisted the urge to forego the neatness and just bite into it, and carefully picked up his knife to try to simulate Mr. Edgeworth's good manners. Not a small bit of effort—and several crumbs scattered his plate and tablemat—later, he eagerly bit into a slice—and nearly choked.

It was bitter and curdling—he didn't even know he knew that word—in his mouth.

Maybe it's gone bad?

He glanced quickly around the table. Neither of the Edgeworths seemed to be sharing his distress; Mr. Edgeworth, in fact, was buttering his third helping by now.

He poked through the center of his slice in what he hoped was discreetly—but peering closely, he couldn't see any green flecks or other signs of mold.

When he looked back up, father and son alike had their full attention on him. Mr. Edgeworth's fork, loaded with spaghetti, was halfway to his mouth.

“S-sorry,” he stammered out, dropping the damaged slice of bread as though he had been caught red-handed at a crime scene.

“It's sourdough,” Miles said. “You've never had sourdough before?”

“Sour?” Phoenix blurted out. “Why would anyone want their bread to be sour?”

Mr. Edgeworth paused, with a pensive frown on his face. “Miles, could you get the other loaf from the cupboard, please?”

“All right.” There was a screeching sound against the tiled floor as Miles pushed his chair back to get up.

“It's okay,” Phoenix said quickly, feeling his face grow hot. “It's not that bad. I mean... it's good!”

“It's a defense attorney's job to pick out the lies from a witness,” Miles said, pointing his fork in Phoenix's direction. “And,” he added, as an afterthought, “You're a terrible liar.”

“H-hey,” Phoenix protested, weakly.

“That's a good thing,” Mr. Edgeworth said. But at least, to Phoenix's relief, he was smiling again.

***

“I remember,” Phoenix said.

“It's hard enough to forget the scowl on your face as you tried it,” Edgeworth noted. “I suppose it would be worse for the one doing the scowling.”

“I had a good time, though,” Phoenix said. “Even washing the dishes. Your dad was really ni...”

It was like a door slamming in his face. Edgeworth's jaw set and he glared down at the remnants of his bread as though they had suddenly committed a personal affront to him by triggering an unwelcome mention of his father's memory. “…you really haven’t changed,” he murmured, nearly too low for Phoenix to hear.

He still hates talking about how it was back then.

An odd, icy lump formed in the back of Phoenix's throat—he wasn't sure whether he should apologize or simply change the subject, when the dark shape of the waiter swept in beside him once again, carrying two platters of food.

“Schweinsbraten?”

“Uh, here,” Phoenix said. I think that was what I ordered…

“Very good, sir,” the waiter said, and set it before him. He began to say the name of Edgeworth’s dish, but Edgeworth cut him off with a wordless raise of his hand. A storm cloud might as well have gathered above his head, for all the pleasantness of his expression. The waiter served him his food, clearly perturbed, and quickly removed himself from the scene, leaving them to themselves once again.

The prosecutor immediately busied himself in attending to his food—Phoenix didn't even have a chance to get out his intended looks good, doesn't it? —which was apparently too whole and bulky for his tastes. The cutting knife sawed mechanically into the red meat. His mouth was still drawn into a closed line.

Phoenix opened his mouth to speak, not sure of what he could say, but not wanting to leave things like this either.

“How has Maya been?” Edgeworth asked, abruptly. Phoenix lifted his head, but Edgeworth's eyes were locked on his food; he could barely make out the shape of his mouth moving along with his words. “After the incident at Hazakura...?”

“She's been good,” Phoenix said. He was just glad that the silence had finally ended, and that he hadn't been the one who was forced to break it. “She was officially named Head of Kurain not long after you left again. She doesn't tell me that much about it, but it sounds like a lot of responsibility.”

“I imagine it would be. She's been charged with overseeing an entire village.”

I hadn't really thought of it that way, but I guess it's true. “She usually seems to be able to make time to manage the offices, though. But yeah, I don't know how she does it.”

“She’s always been strong,” Edgeworth said. “If there’s anyone I know that could handle it, it’d be her.”

“Yeah…” If the Engarde trial hadn’t proven her strength, the circumstances of Hazakura had. “But I guess things have been getting busier for her lately. She couldn't make it to this last trial.”

“I see.”

The defense attorney didn’t have to be a psychic to hear the implied question in those two words. I guess it has been a little bit lonely…

Phoenix chewed quickly around a bite of meat; swallowing its mostly solid mass was slightly painful, but he was eager not to let the flow of conversation derail into awkward silence again. “Pearls has been doing really well, too. She sort of had a growth spurt the last year, you might not even recognize her...”

“Oh, yes.” Edgeworth's brow furrowed and the hand maneuvering his knife paused as he visibly struggled to match the name to the memory of a face. “She was... Maya's cousin, wasn't she?”

“Yeah. Maya says she even goes up to Hazakura on her own now and then. To see her sister, I guess.”

Phoenix had managed to swallow two more bites before he realized he was still waiting for a response that had yet to come. He glanced upwards; Edgeworth's eyes skirted briefly across his, and the prosecutor almost looked disoriented, as though he had been preoccupied with his own thoughts to the point of forgetting that he'd been in the midst of a conversation with another person.

“Edgew...?” he began, but Edgeworth had already collected himself and was speaking.

“What about you, Wright?” There was a certain heaviness to Edgeworth’s words, like they were being forced out of his mouth against his own will.

“Huh? Have I been up to Hazakura?” Phoenix’s strongest memories of the temple were of bitter, biting cold and a very long drop from that bridge. Even Maya’s pouting hadn’t convinced him to go back to try to another full course training session yet, no matter how much she insisted he’d be the ‘better lawyer’ for it.

“Have you been in contact with Iris?” Edgeworth’s gaze remained firmly anchored to his plate as he spoke.

Phoenix nearly dropped his silverware. His tongue felt like it had somehow tied itself into knots, thick and heavy. Where did this come from all of a sudden?

“Yes, we’ve…been in contact,” he managed. His face felt hot. “Mostly through the phone, and letters. She likes those.”

Edgeworth took a long sip of wine. A trick of the light made his hand almost appear to tremble, however, when he spoke, his voice was firmer than it had been all night. “So things are going well.”

Phoenix thought of that low, soft voice, close in his ear when he called her sometimes after work. So similar to the one etched in his memories, but no longer tentative, heavy with the staggering weight of guilt and secrets. And you’re partially to thank for that, Edgeworth.

“Yes,” he was surprised to find his lips curving into a smile. “She’s doing fine.”

Edgeworth stared at Phoenix with an intensity usually reserved for his witnesses on the stand before abruptly turning back to his meal. He seemed to re-absorb himself completely in the process of cutting his meat into meticulous, bite-sized pieces.

“How's your food?” Phoenix half-blurted out. Something had shifted in the air; he suddenly felt strangely light-headed and was at a loss to explain why.

“Fine.”

Phoenix hesitated. Edgeworth had moved onto the vegetables; the way he set about slicing them into perfect green and yellow squares almost depressed him. “You know,” he said, feeling foolish but plunging on anyway, “I've... never had this kind of thing before.”

“I imagine not.” Phoenix waited for the dry remark about his lack of culinary knowledge outside the wonders of fast food, but it never came. The loudest noise Edgeworth seemed willing to make was the clattering of his silverware against his plate—in fact, it was so conspicuous that he wondered if he wasn't actually doing it on purpose.

Phoenix's gaze dropped back to his own plate. He was quickly running out of meaningless questions to ask, and it was becoming very apparent that Edgeworth didn't seem to be interested in playing along regardless. That awkward sense of treading on one another’s toes was gone, and in its place, a feeling of distance. Watching Edgeworth calmly dissecting his food, even though he sat not two feet away, it seemed he might as well be sitting on the other side of the restaurant.

Phoenix preferred the awkwardness, honestly.

A loud giggle skittered across Phoenix’s consciousness and he turned to stare at the table across the way, where a young woman in a low cut, black ensemble cozied up to an older man that was obviously her date—or her grandfather. Has it always been this loud in here? he wondered. It didn’t seem like it had, the couple hadn’t been here much later than he and Edgeworth.

Their own quiet now seemed even further highlighted by the conversations seeping in around them.

“...so drunk last night, I had to drag him back to the apartment...”

“...barely made it! If we'd have arrived two minutes later, the concert would have been sold out!...”

"He claimed he wanted to cut all ties, does it not matter how I feel; why I yearn, what I dream? Relationships…relationships…dammit. He claimed he wanted to cut…”

Phoenix glanced over his shoulder, trying to place the sound of the last voice. Its source seemed to be a frazzled-looking young man, ignoring his plate of cold-looking food in favor of a loose-bound book that Phoenix supposed was a script. Must be an actor trying to cram his lines before the big showing, or something.

“Pity,” Edgeworth murmured; Phoenix's head swiveled back to where his companion was sitting. “That sort of procrastination is a large part of what's been hampering production levels at the offices. I imagine even I know the lines from that scene better than he does.”

“You like plays, Edgeworth?” Phoenix asked. I don’t remember him feeling strongly about them one way or the other when we were kids.

“I don’t know I’d say that I love them,” Edgeworth said. “But I’ve seen my fair share. Manfred von Karma wasn’t exactly an advocate of Saturday morning cartoons.”

Television, men’s fashion beyond the 1800’s, due process of law…von Karma didn’t seem like much of a fan of anything aside from his perfect record. The details of the case from—has it really been four years? —floated to the surface of his mind. And his revenge.

“I'm surprised you knew that was a play, actually, Wright. It's fairly obscure. You don't exactly strike one as the type to be interested in that kind of thing.”

The Empty Room, right?” Phoenix asked. Edgeworth nodded. Phoenix continued. “Someone I knew back in college treated me to a showing.”

“And you went?” Edgeworth quirked an eyebrow. “I always pictured you to be more the ‘glued to the couch’ type on your days off.”

Hey, I’m not that bad! Phoenix inwardly protested. At least I don’t lounge around in pink bathrobes.

“Of course I did,” Phoenix said. “He was the lead, and…it brought back good memories. He must have sent invitations out to half our old college troupe—it was almost like a class reunion.”

“Class reunion? You studied theatre?” Edgeworth looked genuinely surprised. “I wouldn't have expected that from you at all.”

“Oh, yeah?” There was something satisfying about catching Edgeworth off guard, somehow, even outside of court. “That was my major, actually. I was hoping to be a theatre actor, maybe in Europe or something... far-fetched dream, huh?”

“If you had asked me which I thought were more far-fetched, you as a stage actor, or you as a defense attorney...” Edgeworth trailed off. He swallowed heavily, like something too big to say had gotten stuck in his throat, as it always did when this topic was broached.

It was back. Like being plunged into a pool of water, every individual molecule of air around them abruptly grew heavier, dampening all noise.

As he watched Edgeworth choking on whatever he wanted to verbalize—Phoenix was never quite sure if it was a thank you, an apology, condemnation, or something else entirely—he suddenly felt very tired.

This evening had been a textbook example of why he usually didn’t make socialization overtures towards Edgeworth. When it was just the two of them, their combined history weighed like a noose against their necks, strangling any attempts to reconnect on a comfortable, easy level. Sometimes it seemed like the only thing they had in common at all was a shared childhood, and even that was a time Edgeworth appeared more than content to forget.

“Were you in any performances?”

Phoenix looked up, startled. Edgeworth’s eyes pinned his, and, for once, Phoenix was the one that broke contact first. He was sure that hadn’t been what Edgeworth was trying to say, but an odd flash of vulnerability had seemed to surface on his old friend’s face, before it vanished in a blink.

He’s trying too, Phoenix realized.

“A…a couple. Just bit parts, though,” he began. It became easier. “The director always said he didn't trust me with the leads, or any role that involved a lot of prop coordination, or... most anything that involved much other than standing there.”

Edgeworth chuckled. Something around them seemed to break. To Phoenix's surprise, he felt his own laughter beginning to bubble in his chest.

“I didn't do so bad,” Phoenix defended, but it was with a smile on his face. “I even have evidence.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah,” he said. The jolt of the recollection hit him—he had actually forgotten about it up until now. “I still have an old copy of a tape someone took of one of the performances somewhere. You could check it out for yourself if wanted.”

“If I wanted?” Edgeworth's eyebrow raised. “Borrow it, you mean.”

“Sure,” he said. “Why not?”

Edgeworth paused, then seemed to relax. The atmosphere settled down into that fragile air of familiarity.

“I see enough of you making a caricature out of yourself in court, Wright,” he finally said, dabbing at the corners of his mouth with a napkin.

You could have just said 'no thanks', Phoenix thought, but his own smile had returned.

“I'm just glad Maya hasn't found it. She does enough without having to know what I look like in costume...”

Edgeworth nodded as Phoenix continued to speak, chin resting lightly against the knuckles of his right hand. His fork lay still and motionless against the side of his plate.

This is how it should be. The thought came unbidden to his mind, but the more it lingered, the more Phoenix was certain it wasn't unwelcome.

***

Phoenix set his utensils on his cleaned plate. The brief clang it made against the ceramic had a distinctly satisfying ring to it.

“Are you finished?”

He nodded.

Edgeworth signaled the waiter for the checks. Edgeworth signed his without so much as a blink, but it was in Phoenix's habit to check just how much money he had managed to frivol away before signing anything.

Not crippling. He supposed, as he wrote out the check, he couldn't ask for much more.

Edgeworth retrieved his wallet and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill, tucking it inside the little black folder. That’s…a lot more than twenty percent, Phoenix noted, but then figured their poor waiter deserved it for putting up with the schizophrenic table for as long as he had.

They rose simultaneously from their seats.

***

The walk back was at a slower pace, but seemed to go so much faster.

The sun had already begun to set as they left, but now it was completely dark out. In the distance, office buildings were checkered with the occasional lit floor or office. Phoenix wondered, had he not invited Edgeworth out tonight, if the prosecutor’s own twelfth story office would be one of them.

Edgeworth seemed content to match Phoenix’s meandering walk. Alongside them, the occasional car’s headlights made the streets and surrounding buildings melt into blurs of light. They passed a couple on the way, both talking furiously and walking at a steady clip—it was only in hindsight Phoenix realized they’d been holding hands. Other than that, there was no one going or coming their way. The only other sounds were the distant screeching of horns blocks away.

Phoenix glanced over at Edgeworth, opened his mouth, then shut it. For once the quiet was comfortable instead of thick. He saw no reason to break it.

Eventually, as the courthouse loomed ahead, it seemed less like a destination and more like an end of something Phoenix didn’t want to finish, not quite yet.

Instead of walking around to the front, they bypassed the façade and took a left where the sidewalk branched to the entrance of the underground lot. The attendant—it was late, this was probably the final shift—stared at them dully before going back to slowly turning the pages of his magazine.

Phoenix’s shifted from one foot to the other and stole a glance into the mouth of the lot.

“Can I walk you to your car?” Right after the words left his lips, Phoenix realized they sounded a little strange.

“This isn’t a date, Wright,” Edgeworth replied, almost before the words were out of Phoenix’s mouth. It seemed that response had been harsher than Edgeworth intended, because it was punctuated by a frustrated sigh. He continued. “Thank you, I’ll manage.”

Then, to Phoenix’s amazement, the corners of Edgeworth’s mouth lifted in a brief, but sincere smile. “It was…fun,” he admitted.

Phoenix was surprised that ‘fun’ was a good word to describe how he felt too. And he wanted to do it again, though with hopefully less overall discomfort and more actual conversation.

As Phoenix watched Edgeworth walk away, the chill night wind tugging at his cravat, he suddenly yelled to the retreating figure, “I’ll call you!”

He didn’t care how it sounded.

Edgeworth paused, like the words themselves had frozen him in his tracks. He glanced over his shoulder and gave a short wave, then kept on moving.

Phoenix smiled.
Image


Last edited by musouka on Sun Sep 09, 2007 4:38 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

raging klavier crush

Gender: None specified

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:42 am

Posts: 216

Quote:
Anything you like is probably her doing.

IN CASE IT ISN'T CLEAR TO EVERYONE BY NOW, MUSOUKA IS A FILTHY LIAR.
Image
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

I like a man with a big ... vocabulary.

Gender: Female

Location: Made in England (More Tea, Vicar?)

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:20 pm

Posts: 1193

*EEP*! Man, I'm going to have to rush through the rest of GS3 now so I can read this.

Based on the first part this is going to be fantastic.
"Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good". - Thomas Paine
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

Hahaha, thank Raelle. XD Without her, it probably would have taken another couple of months and wouldn't be half as good.
Image
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

I like a man with a big ... vocabulary.

Gender: Female

Location: Made in England (More Tea, Vicar?)

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:20 pm

Posts: 1193

I just totally know that for me this is going to be the definitive post-GS3 Miles/Phoenix story. And I'm not exaggerating. I think we have almost exactly the same view on the general pace and nature of their relationship - you're just miles better at writing it :)

ETA - Christ I sound like some sort of a stalker freak, sorry. I am genuinely looking forward to reading this and I'm not a weirdo (dull and domestic and entirely normal in fact), just for the record. I just love good writing.
"Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good". - Thomas Paine
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

Vampire Prosecutor

Gender: Female

Location: Sandwiched between Edgey and Phoenix, and loving every minute of it.

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:40 am

Posts: 195

I just want to say I want to read this SO bad...but I can't, yet. I have to wait till I get and play PW3 first. Gomen (means "sorry"...don't know if everyone knows what it means, LOL, it's a habit of mine I use it all the time), but I'm looking forward to reading this. :edgy:
Image
Thanks Elriel for the wonderful Edgey siggy and the beautiful Phoenix/Edgeworth avy!
Artwork from avatar drawn by Yamamura Tatsuya
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title

Epic Hobo

Gender: Female

Location: In a chair

Rank: Suspect

Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 6:41 pm

Posts: 43

askdnmjhf YAY. This fanfic is like, really frigging good, and that makes me happy.

Keep up the good work, and I can't wait to see more. ;_; I'm so impatient.
Image
I am from the internet.
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

So moe for Makoto it's funny.

Gender: Male

Location: NC, NJ, MN

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:24 am

Posts: 2501

ProsecutorLevia wrote:
I just want to say I want to read this SO bad...but I can't, yet. I have to wait till I get and play PW3 first. Gomen (means "sorry"...don't know if everyone knows what it means, LOL, it's a habit of mine I use it all the time), but I'm looking forward to reading this. :edgy:




She speaks Japanese :P




It's fantastic. You know that, of course. But I keep rereading it, and I keep loving it because it's so damn superb.
Image (Awesome sig art by Axl99!)
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

Rookie

Gender: Female

Location: The US of A

Rank: Medium-in-training

Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2007 5:34 pm

Posts: 508

I just skimmed over every part that looked even remotely like a T&T spoiler. :p

I loved the update, but especially the flashback. As someone who despises sourdough, I could sympathise with Nick all too well. :sadshoe:

(And Gregory is, indeed, pretty cool.)

I thought you allowed their bond to grow nicely without actually forcing the development; it was good to see that tension between them throughout this chapter, however awkward I felt on the characters' behalves.

Quote:
As Phoenix watched Edgeworth walk away, the chill night wind tugging at his cravat, he suddenly yelled to the retreating figure, “I’ll call you!”

He didn’t care how it sounded.


I loved that part. Just the idea of Nick saying "screw it" and pushing that envelope a tad further made me smile.
Avvie image by Sklarvv.
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

Vampire Prosecutor

Gender: Female

Location: Sandwiched between Edgey and Phoenix, and loving every minute of it.

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:40 am

Posts: 195

Thanks to KingMobUK I was able to read at least one of your fics. YAY! I loved "One of these Things is Not Like the Others". I thought it was a very sweet fic and hilarious too. The end especially gets me, I thought that was the sweetest thing and it shows a big step that Edgey is taking by buying him a suit. Phoenix's reaction was perfect. Great Job. :edgy:

I just wanted to let ya know.

@CFTF: *laughs* I didn't know. You never know if there is actually someone who doesn't speak Japanese, so I was being cautious. *giggles*
Image
Thanks Elriel for the wonderful Edgey siggy and the beautiful Phoenix/Edgeworth avy!
Artwork from avatar drawn by Yamamura Tatsuya
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

Slightly Disheveled Radiator

Gender: None specified

Location: In a box on a hill towards the west banks of an unknown river.

Rank: Medium-in-training

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 6:27 pm

Posts: 571

I haven't read this yet, but I really want to. Moment I beat GS3 and am no longer wary of spoilers. D: IT LOOKS GOOD FROM THE PICTURES T_T
Image
Created by Vickinator, the greatest person EVER.
~ Crying in Public ~ The Kallisti Project: Samurai Arc

Married to Sakuro*And Eximplode07
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title

Gender: None specified

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:57 pm

Posts: 219

I finished PW3 a few days ago and this was the first fic I made a beeline for, having seen the wonderful artwork in yours and Raelle's signatures! I was not disappointed - you both have an amazing talent for descriptive writing; the entire fic plays out in your head as you read it and like Gyakumech, you find yourself completely immersed in the story thanks to all the little details. I'm looking forward to reading future chapters - who cares if we have to wait for the action when the leadup makes such great reading? Fantastic characterisation (you've captured that wavering awkwardness between them really well - KingMobUK's fic is the only other one that I've read of the same calibre), and I enjoyed the court case too :)
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title

Evil on Legs (or so they say)

Gender: Female

Location: Hell, and by Hell, I mean Texas

Rank: Desk Jockey

Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:11 am

Posts: 76

I absolutely love this story! Watching their friendship awkwardly bloom... this is wonderful. The trial was awesome, and the dinner between Phoenix and Edgeworth... oh, boys.

I eagerly await more!
Image
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

Thank you guys so much for all the amazing comments. Hearing that you're enjoying it so far really makes me (and Raelle, cuz I can speak 4 her lol) feel good. I just get so antsy over this series--both of us want so bad for it to be enjoyable. XD
Image
Re: [UPDATED! 9/6] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

Just another fangirl...

Gender: Female

Location: A land of fires, mudslides, and the occasional earthquake

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 1:55 am

Posts: 247

Can't talk long (I'm reading this in class! :edgy: ) but I'm liking this, and I look forward to more!
Image
"Violence is the last resort of the intelligent, and the first resort of the incompetant." -FFA
Side Story: 1000 CranesTopic%20Title
User avatar

raging klavier crush

Gender: None specified

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:42 am

Posts: 216

Notes: Not Chapter 3, sorry to disappoint! This is a side story in continuity with Struggling Against Gravity, though it can also be read as a standalone. It takes place about half a year before the beginning of the main fic, but it meant to be read in conjunction with Chapter Two or Chapter Three.

This basically revolves completely around major GS3 spoilers, so steer clear if you'd rather avoid them!

1000 Cranes


Iris had long thought, since the night she had first arrived here, fingers tangled amidst her sister's, that twilight was when Hazakura was at its most beautiful.

She couldn't begin to account for the countless changes that had come into her life since the conclusion of her trial, over a year ago. But Hazakura and the bitter cold of its winter was everlasting; the Inner Temple was as creaky and fragile as ever; Heavenly Hall remained something of a battered, private joke between she and Bikini. And she still waited quietly by the Dusky Bridge each evening as the last traces of sunlight began to fade, painting a vast canvas of vivid color across the sky and against the crests of Eagle Mountain.

“It's beautiful,” Pearl gasped, both hands wrapped tightly around Iris's arm, standing on her tiptoes to get a better view. She came dangerously close to the edge of the ravine; Iris pulled her back, gently, to where she knew they were safe.

“It is,” she agreed.

It was the first time she had been able to show anyone.

Evening had just begun to set in; the air was cooling, and they had just returned inside and lit the hibachi, waiting for Bikini to call them to start preparing supper. Pearl's hair still had clumps of snow in it; even pulling the strands free from their twin loops had not shaken all of them loose. Iris began to fold the squares of paper laid in front of them, smiling. It was difficult not to be distracted by the eager, fascinated eyes shining just inches away from her moving hands.

Pearl had arrived yesterday, oversized bags clutched in both hands, stuffed with spare clothes and presents for her hosts. The first time she had come, not long after Iris had been released from prison, it had been without warning; Iris had stepped to the front gate to attend to her usual chores, and dropped her broom in astonishment at the squeal when she prodded it behind the snowmobile to sweep. The smaller girl looked torn between mulishness and embarrassment as she crawled out, snow and ice flecked across her medium's robes and shivering badly from the cold as she tried to stammer out an apology for intruding.

Bikini had scolded her heavily. She was welcome at any time; all the silly girl had to do was call. Iris remembered keenly how her eyes had shone nervously as they exchanged cell phone numbers; but her patience had finally rewarded her with a smile on her younger sister's—it had still seemed surreal to think of her that way—face.

She was still not sure how to describe the feel of it against her mind—sister had always been a word reserved for a single person in her life, constantly in and amidst her shadow, suffocating and eternal. But it was impossible that the concept of shadow could ever be applied to Pearl, her cheeks flushed, still breathless from the remaining traces of cold, damp hair clinging to the sides of her face, framing her glowing smile.

As they set about warming themselves, Pearl—my sister—was watching her, eyes spellbound, as she carefully folded the small square of colored paper in her hands, one corner over the other, molding it into a particular shape. Finally, she pulled the wings apart in one last, easy motion, and the tiny paper crane sat completed on the table before them.

“Wow,” Pearl marvelled, clapping her small hands together. “That's amazing! I could never do that!”

“I'm sure you could.” Iris smiled. “Why don't I teach you?”

“Oh, could you?” Her eyes lit up. “Could you? You don't mind?”

“Of course not.” She laid the next slip of paper into Pearl's hands—an orange one this time—and curled her fingers around her knuckles, guiding them. “Here. Just fold the paper like this, and...”

By the time they were through, a dozen of the decorative birds were staring back at them from the table. They seemed to form a rainbow of color amidst the neutral scrolls that covered the walls of the main hall.

“Where did you learn how to do this, Miss Iris?” Pearl asked, when she was done circling the table to inspect them from every angle. “Can you make other things, too?”

“Just a few,” Iris admitted. “Flowers, boxes... simple things like that.”

“I'm so envious...” Pearl settled down back next to her, expression contemplative, before echoing her question from before. “Did Sister Bikini teach you?'

Iris tensed. The last crane that she had reached to perch on the table nearly toppled over onto the floor.

“No,” she murmured, straightening. “I already knew when I came here.”

“Really?”

She nodded.

Pearl stared; the last bits of ice were finally beginning to melt, and water dripped from the ends of her hair. It gave her the impression of being very small. Iris reached over to pluck a blanket from the corner of the room, draping it around Pearl's shoulders to keep her from getting her robes too wet, gently pulling the ends of her hair free from beneath it.

“So...” Pearl swayed back and forth for a moment. “Then... did Mother teach you?”

Iris's hands went still. She was still something of a coward, after all.

“My sister taught me,” she said, quietly.

She waited for Pearl to recoil, or quickly change the subject, but the younger girl only blinked, before cupping her chin in her hand—it was a habit she must have picked up from Phoenix and Maya—and looked thoughtful. “Your sister... oh. You mean Miss Dahlia?”

“Yes,” Iris murmured, pulling back. “That's right.”

Pearl frowned, her brow furrowed in thought. “Where did she learn, then?”

“I don't know, really.” It had seemed natural, growing up, that Dahlia had the answer for everything; no matter how Mother screamed, or how stony Father's silence, or what they faced both together and apart—Dahlia always held the key, was always cunning, always had a dozen plans brewing at once to ensure their security. She was a person who had arrived at Hazakura with a photograph of a diamond and an exact plan as to how to pull it from the clutches of their father, clever and ruthless enough to leave Iris speechless; given that, the fact that she seemed to be born knowing such small things as how to fold origami seemed strange to question.

“Did you play together with her a lot?” Pearl wondered. Iris hesitated.

“My sister...” To call Dahlia our sister, even now after nearly a year had passed, didn't quite seem right. She wondered if it ever would. “Before we left Kurain, we made origami quite often.” It was difficult to convince herself that the soft curl of nostalgia against her chest wasn't warm. “We used to make entire strings of cranes and hang them across the guest rooms, in case anyone came.” A thought struck her. “Did you ever see them there, Pearl?”

“Huh? Me?” Pearl's eyes widened. “Paper cranes, right? On a string...? Umm...” Her eyes flitted to the side; she raised her right thumb to her mouth, visibly nervous. After a few minutes, glancing back at Iris's curious expression—she had tried to keep it restrained at curious without quite treading on hopeful—she broke into a sudden, forced smile.

“Y-yes, I remember now!” She nodded vigorously. “They were... really cute!”

So Mother took them down after all.

A high-pitched wailing sound from the kitchen interrupted them.

“Oh, the tea must be ready,” Pearl said, pushing herself onto her feet. “Wait here, I'll get it!”

“It's all right, Pearl,” Iris said. “I can...”

“No, no!” Pearl exclaimed. “I'm the one imposing, Miss Iris, so it's the least I can do!”

Another smile touched on Iris's face as she watched her disappear around the corner into the kitchen, loose hair bouncing off her shoulders, humming still audible. She re-entered a few minutes later, ceramic tray heavy and oversized between her tiny wrists, trying not to wobble the kettle or the cups too much before she finally set them down with a sigh of relief.

After Iris had poured, Pearl carefully turned her cup around on the palm of her hand, making sure to keep her shoulders properly straight as she sipped primly. Iris watched her fondly.

“It always tastes better when I'm up here,” Pearl noted, a thoughtful chime in her voice. She began to raise her sleeve to wipe her mouth, then caught herself and looked thoroughly embarrassed at her close brush with such bad manners.

“Does it really?” Iris tilted her head. “Maybe it's the cold.”

She blew softly over the surface of the steaming liquid, before raising the cup to her own lips. It burned down her throat, soothingly, giving way to a rush of warmth just beneath her skin.

“Hmm,” she said, thoughtfully, staring down into it. “It tastes better to me, too, so that can't be it. You must just be very good at brewing tea, Pearl. Certainly better than I am.”

“Oh! I'm s-sure that's not true!” Pearl exclaimed, her own cup nearly jumping from her hands. “I-I really like your tea! You... always put in just the right amount of sugar, and you mix it so well!”

“That's very sweet of you,” Iris said, “But I still think there's a lot I could learn from you.”

The smaller girl blushed, and reached up to nervously tuck her head under the damp towel, covering her eyes. She made a tiny sound that Iris supposed was meant to be thank you. Iris reached out to slide the edge of the cloth back from Pearl's forehead, so that her bangs came loose.

“Where did you learn?” Iris asked, gently. Pearl's eyes widened.

“U-um, you know...” She bit her lip, staring down at the floor. Her fingers danced around the edge of the towel, playing out an internal battle to hide her face once again.

Iris nodded, encouraging her on.

“My... my mother taught me.” Her hands curled into tiny fists in her lap as her eyes darted quickly to the side.

She had expected it, but it fell like a weight between them all the same.

Mother.

Mother and Father were more shadows than people to Iris's recollection—she could remember that they had fought often, voices resounding off each others' through the walls and the floors trembling with the force of their rage at one another—though Morgan Fey had always seemed caught between fury and despair no matter who the target and what the cause. Looking back, no longer having to cower in fear as a periphreal target of her anger, a part of her found her mother almost pitiable instead, wailing and wretched for the irreplaceable things she had lost through clenched fingers.

Father's face was lost to her entirely—there was the vague outline of his back, cold and distant, as she had watched him walk away from her for the last time through the gates of Hazakura Temple. Pearl had never known him, but Iris supposed her understanding of her own father, leaving behind his own daughter in the wake of a power-hungry wife and his own lack thereof—the same tragedy, spun with different players every time—probably wasn't very different.

Her memories of the village of Kurain itself were blurry and faint. Try as she might to remember the look of the traditional buildings, the feel of the cool dirt paths beneath her toes when she and Dahlia had snuck out of their room, the one solid image she had to cling to from that time was the image of her sister's profile, staring defiantly up at anything that dared try bear down upon either of them. The other details were extraneous, bleeding into the framework of her present life at Hazakura, irrelevant.

Stupid, Dahlia scowled, knocking the ruined paper cranes from her sister's hands. You're so stupid you can't even do something as easy as that.

Iris stared down at her hands.

Dahlia.

“She was a good teacher, wasn't she?” she asked, suddenly, as gently as she could. Pearl raised her head, eyes wide. “Mother was.”

“Yes... she was.” She bit her lip; as she spoke, the words came out haltingly, as though they were painful to say—something like shame wound into each syllable. “Mother was so good at so many things. Cooking, and making tea, and painting, and reading Japanese characters...”

“Yes,” Iris agreed, quietly. “She was a very strong woman.”

“Y-yes,” Pearl said.

“I'm sure you miss her very much.”

Pearl had opened her mouth, eyes focused on the far wall, to give another reply—automatic, distracted—when Iris's words seemed to register and she swallowed whatever response she had intended, momentarily stunned. “I...”

Iris waited. Pearl stared downwards as her teeth bore down on her thumbnail, cup of tea cooling and forgotten on the table adjacent.

“I'm... okay.”

Iris stared. “Pearl...”

“After all,” she said, and there was a high strain to her voice, threatening to break, “there are so many people I have that take care of me n-now, and Mother isn't... I mean, a few years ago, she... so, I...”

The cold shock that had torn through her felt as though she had been plunged into ice water—paralyzing, and making the world around her dim and flicker in and out of focus, when Diego Armando had pursed his lips together only for a moment before telling her that her sister's execution had finally been carried out. Dahlia Hawthorne was dead.

Pull yourself together,
he said roughly, averting his gaze to the wall next to her.

Her head had snapped upwards, as she tried to steady her breathing. She had not noticed she had stumbled backwards, her back against the wall.

Well?

Armando's mouth was drawn in a hard line, as though daring her to mourn.

Her lips had been numb as she forced herself to speak. I'm...

Pearl stood again to refill Iris's cup. The kettle wobbled in her hands, unsteadily, as she poured, and her gaze was intense as she stared hard at it, as though daring it to break.

It's all right.

“It must be hard,” Iris murmured.

Pearl's head shot up, as though a gunshot had gone off—a splash of tea skewed sideways from the cup and fell against the floor, but she didn't seem to notice. She was still for a long moment before she finally gave a loud sniff—her head inclining again, as though trying to curl in on herself, the kettle settling back onto the table with a clunk. Her lips moved a few times before her voice was actually audible.

“Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya... they're so kind to me.” The hem of her channelling robe bunched painfully in her hands. Iris's heart ached watching her. “I love them so much. But I...”

She had wept in silence, the door locked behind her. She had known it was coming, had known for years, tried to steel herself for it—but could not help feeling blindsided, as though half of herself had been torn away and been lost.

It's all right.

“Sometimes, I... I still feel so lonely without her... she always took such good of me... she was always looking out for me... even when I had to talk to her when she was in j-jail, she always smiled when she saw me...”

Iris reached out, laying her hand over Pearl's. Her shoulders relaxed, visibly, and when she spoke again, her voice didn't shake quite so much.

“She did care about me... didn't she?” There was genuine pleading in her voice.

“Yes,” Iris said, softly. “I think she did.”

Pearl stared; her eyes were suddenly overbright.

“...thank you.”

The towel fell from her shoulders as she raised her hands to wipe at her eyes.

“I—I've never told anyone that until now. My chest, um, kind of feels funny...”

“If it's hurting, you should let the people close to you know.” A different face rose abruptly in her memory; faded grey bangs shadowing narrowed eyes, an attorney's badge not belonging to him glinting on his chest. You're still running. It's not too late. “I'm sure that Mystic Maya would want to know if you're feeling sad. She only wants you to be happy, too—she and Phoenix both.”

“I know.” Pearl twisted a knot into her sash, wretched. “I know, but...”

But.

“I can't tell them.” The words were so soft as to be barely audible; Iris had to incline her head forward to be sure of them at all.

“Pearl,” Iris began, but it was as though a dam had broken; Pearl continued speaking, the wonds tumbling over one another.

“After all, Mother tried... she tried to do that terrible thing to Mystic Maya. I shouldn't... I shouldn't still feel like this. I can't ever talk to her again. But I... shouldn't be sad about it... right?” She wiped her eyes, sniffling loudly, and braced the palm of her hands against her cheekbones in a vain attempt to stifle any further tears. “I'm... I'm an awful person, aren't I?”

Her arms moved as though they had a will of her own, enveloping her little sister, and pulling her forward against her. Pearl gave a soft squeak in surprise, and Iris could feel warm moisture blotting her own robes.

“You're not an awful person,” Iris said, softly. “You're a wonderful person. I'm so happy to be able to know you.”

“But I...” Pearl hiccuped. “Mother...”

“Listen to me.”

Iris's grip tightened around her; a part of her wishing desperately it could be as easy as crushing the sadness and guilt out of her. She raised one hand to stroke her hair. Pearl fell quiet.

But.

“My sister... Dahlia. You know about her now, right? All of the terrible things that she did and all of the people that she hurt...”

“Y-yes,” Pearl mumbled. “I remember her picture. She was very pretty.” She added, suddenly, “Like you.”

“I loved her.” Iris stared down at the floor below them. “I still do.”

The air around them went very still.

“What was she like?” Pearl asked. Her voice was quiet. “Mother never talked about her.”

“She was...”

She could hear the echoes of the people surrounding her within her life. Cruel and selfish, a person who would cut down everyone and anything to get what she wanted. A person so filled with hate even death couldn't stop her. Demoness.

“...so strong and beautiful. I've never known anyone else like her.” Her eyes fell shut. “It's because of her that I'm still here.”

Soft weight fell over her hand; when she looked again, Pearl had leaned forward, fingers tight around her own. “So... she took care of you, too, Miss Iris?”

“Yes, she did.” Iris hesitated; that wasn't quite right. “Well, yes, but... it was a little different from that. She looked out for us both when we were at Kurain.” She reached out to brush a strand of brown hair behind Pearl's ear. “But more than that...”

“Yes...?”

It was the first time she had ever told anyone.

“...it's because of her that I didn't have to hate, no matter how much we suffered. Because she took that on terrible burden for both of us.” The words came out in a rush; low and garbled. In the back of her thoughts, she was a little bit surprised. She had never realized before that she had been waiting, too. “And I can never... I can never repay her or her memory enough for that. Even knowing what she did and what she was. That won't ever change.”

Pearl's eyes were transfixed on her; they seemed to be reflecting something other than the room around them. “She was strong for you, wasn't she?”

“Yes.” Her throat was tight. “That's... what I choose to believe.”

Pearl stared at her, eyes boring into hers, reflecting strength she had inherited from her mother. She stood, abruptly, and moved to the far wall, inspecting the lesser magatama closely, hands folded behind her back.

“Can I tell you something, Miss Iris?”

“Anything.”

A moment passed before Pearl actually spoke. “I always thought... why wasn't Mystic Maya sad after... after what happened to her mother?” Her voice carried more weight than any ten year old's should ever have to, Iris thought. “When they took my mother away, I cried all night. I was so sad for so long.”

“Of course you were,” Iris said, soft.

“But, that night, after everything, I felt so awful...” Pearl swallowed. “I don't know what I would have done if Mystic Maya hadn't smiled at me when I saw her again. I didn't really understand it back then, but... she was being strong for me, too, wasn't she?”

“I think so,” Iris said. “Because she loves you very much.”

Pearl shook her head. Her arms fell back to her sides, fingers curling slowly against her palms.

“I don't want that. I don't want her to have to be strong for me anymore. I want... I want to be there for her, from now on. Miss Iris,” Pearl said, suddenly, turning back around to face her. The faint light from the altar candles struck her face in such a way that she looked older, somehow; her features a little more defined, a little steadier, a little stronger. “I think you're a wonderful person, too.”

Iris stared. She could not manage more than a whisper.

“...thank you.”

The sound of footsteps against wooden floorboards sounded abruptly in the distance.

“Iris! Pearly!” Bikini's voice called out. “It's about time to get supper started, girls!”

Both of them jumped as the spell around them cracked and shattered; Iris quickly dabbed her moist eyes with her sleeve before turning around to call back. “Coming, Sister!”

Iris pushed herself to her feet; Pearl drew away from the altar to approach her, shyly.

“Let's be careful,” Iris said, smiling anew. “We made a bit too much last time...”

“Oh, yes...” Pearl said, vaguely. Iris cast another look at the rows of paper birds they had made together. Pearl's eyes followed her line of sight.

“After we've eaten,” she said suddenly. “Let's get some string for them to hang them from.”

Iris blinked; for a moment, she was sure she had mishead. “You want to?”

“Y-yes!” Pearl looked up her, and Iris felt her surprise giving way to infectious enthusiasm. “And we can put them up in your room, or... I could take them home... w-whatever you'd like, Miss Iris.”

“Why not both?” Iris suggested. “We can each have one, so our rooms can match.”

“Really? Can we?” Pearl's face lit up into a smile again, and despite the growing darkness outside, the last snatches of light finally fading in the crevace between the two mountaintops, the main hall suddenly seemed brighter and more lucid than as far back as Iris could remember. “I'd really like that!”

“We'll do it, then.”

Iris held out her hand; Pearl took it, fingers entwining hers. Sharing a secret giggle between sisters, they moved together to the kitchen to begin preparing their evening meal.
Image
Re: [UPDATED! 9/22] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

俺の黄金の魔女

Gender: None specified

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:36 am

Posts: 730

Hahaha, when you said you posted, I just had to rush home on my break and see! <3
Image
Re: [UPDATED! 9/22] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

So moe for Makoto it's funny.

Gender: Male

Location: NC, NJ, MN

Rank: Ace Attorney

Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:24 am

Posts: 2501

ARGH


SO CUTE.
Image (Awesome sig art by Axl99!)
Re: [UPDATED! 9/22] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title

Gender: None specified

Rank: Suspect

Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2007 7:07 pm

Posts: 37

It is too perfect, I mean, how is this possible? it's just too beautifully written and seamless and cute and awesome character development, and individual voices perfectly captured and and and speechlessness. Need...more. (please?)
Aku Soku Zan- Slay Evil Immediately
Re: [UPDATED! 9/22] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title

Wandering Sleuth

Gender: None specified

Rank: Suspect

Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:58 am

Posts: 6

This entire thread radiates cute more than a box of :shoe:

Well done on all accounts. Characterization, style, and a pairing that never gets old. ^_^
Re: [UPDATED! 9/22] Struggling Against GravityTopic%20Title
User avatar

Shaaaaaaak!

Gender: Female

Location: Spain

Rank: Prosecutor

Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:46 pm

Posts: 657

This is one of the best PW I've read! The characterizations, the writing style... everything is great.
And 1000 Cranes is the definition of "cute".

Good work!
Page 1 of 5 [ 189 posts ] 
Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  

 Board index » Present Evidence » Present Testimony

Who is online
Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 2 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum
Jump to:  
News News Site map Site map SitemapIndex SitemapIndex RSS Feed RSS Feed Channel list Channel list
Powered by phpBB

phpBB SEO