Chief Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth was facing the window, hands on his back, when a hesitant knock on the door interrupted the silence.
A moment later, the voice of his secretary announced, "Sir, your two subordinates are here to see you, as you requested…"
She sounded apprehensive. Miles allowed himself a short, dry smile – Ms. Fright had always been far too empathetic, and while the prosecutors in question were certainly deserving of a fair measure of empathy, given their backgrounds, there were limits when it came to letting them get away with things.
"Let them in, and then let yourself out. And no eavesdropping this time."
"O-of course, sir."
Miles waited for two sets of footsteps to come to a halt in front of his desk before he turned around, his features schooled into a disapproving frown.
"Gentlemen… seeing that my secretary seems to be aware of the reason for which I summoned you here, I assume that you, likewise, know what the topic of our conversation is going to be…?"
Blackquill had the good sense to look somewhat contrite; Gavin, however, just shrugged with that infernally glib smile of his.
"To be honest, I don't know why this is an issue. Everyone knows about you and Herr Wright, ja?"
Miles' expression darkened.
"Everyone also 'knows' that there is an unidentified monstrous creature living in Gourd Lake, if the souvenirs sold there are any indication, in spite of the fact that this 'knowledge' has long since been disproved. Do not confuse gossip, even if it is widespread, with what the two of you have recently been engaged in."
He pulled open a desk drawer and drew out one of the local yellow rags with a substantial circulation, the front page showing a certain German rock star prosecutor apparently attempting to eat one Apollo Justice's face off.
"Tell me, Gavin… have you ever seen pictures like that of the fabled relationship between me and Wright?"
Without waiting for a response, Miles now turned towards Blackquill. "As for you… while you are at least prudent enough to avoid press photographers, you and Ms. Cykes have become the subject of the lion's share of all conversations between bailiffs at the courthouse. I understand there's an ongoing under-the-table betting pool of 'how long Blackquill and Cykes will kiss before their newest trial this time.' Whatever happened to your ability to be discreet?"
Blackquill scoffed, although he still appeared ill-at-ease. "As if anyone would be interested in the random jabberings of the constabulary."
The corners of Miles' mouth drew downward.
"So you believe that the public would have no interest in a well-known prosecutor, who has only recently been released from jail, entering into a carnal relationship with the daughter of his mentor, who happens to have been the victim of the capital crime he allegedly committed? The yellow press could not think up a juicier story! Think of the insinuations the journalists – or the public, for that matter – could make, were the eyewitness accounts to ever spread beyond court! Thankfully, so far, the bailiffs seem to be more aware of what discretion entails than you are!"
Blackquill looked away wordlessly.
Miles turned back toward the window before he continued speaking.
"We are attempting to convince the populace right now that the days of the dark age of the law are over for good, and your flagrantly unprofessional conduct muddles up this message. Furthermore, it diminishes the respect our profession is afforded even beyond the effects of the last seven years. Just the other day, the governor cracked a joke about valuable courtroom time apparently being squandered on flirtation between attorneys, which was reprinted in a number of mainstream press publications!"
Moving to face them once more with a deadly serious expression, he then stated much more quietly, "I have contemplated dismissing both of you, regardless of your track record, for your recent conduct, considering the potential repercussions for this entire office."
"W-wie bitte?" Gavin's mouth was hanging open after his incredulous question, and Blackquill, though he did not utter a word, suddenly seemed more than a little panicked.
Miles suppressed the urge to smile grimly at his squirming subordinates.
"Consider this your final warning. Obviously, it is of no interest to me with whom you fraternize after hours, or what you believe yourselves to know about me and Wright, as long as your personal delusions don't impact your performance or surface as supposedly factual testimony in a trial. However, if you do not learn to practice discretion from this point forward, I will have to seriously think about terminating your contracts. That is all."
They both looked at him as though he had sprouted a second head.
Miles' eyebrows drew together above the rim of his glasses. "I suggest you get back to your work, gentlemen, before I see myself tempted to withdraw my gracious offer of a last chance to amend your behavior."
Gavin immediately turned and left. After a rather hasty-looking respectful bow with his gaze lowered, Blackquill followed his colleague.
Once the door had closed behind them, Miles shook his head with a smile as he seated himself in his chair. He had hardly been serious when he had threatened to fire two of his best men for nothing more than being too openly flirtatious with their respective partners, although it had served to drive his point home more effectively than a plea for discretion or veiled-yet-pointed comments probably would have done. Privately, he thought it amusing, if rather surprising, that the two subordinates with whom he identified the most had found affection in the same place he had, albeit in a much shorter period of time. However, as Chief Prosecutor, it was his duty to protect the image of their profession and keep them in line.
He looked forward to comparing notes with Phoenix over dinner tonight, as, in accordance with their conversation yesterday, right about now two certain junior defense attorneys were having a similar talk with their superior over the fact that it was not exactly conducive to business if prospective clients knew they were sleeping with the men who sought to convict them for their crimes. Sometimes, having a good laugh at their charges in private made having accepted responsibility for them even more worthwhile than it already was most days.
He pushed a button on his phone to contact his secretary. "Ms. Fright, would you be so kind and bring me a pitcher of water? I believe I would care for some tea…"