Prompt: I'd like to see something where Edgeworth evaluates both Payne brothers, and decides that one of them needs to go, and instead of brushing them aside or making jokes, he takes it seriously and honestly thinks about which brother needs to turn in their badge.
"I would not normally do this," the Chief Prosecutor said, glancing between the two brothers sitting on the other side of his large desk, "but my schedule is tight and both of you have promised me that you would prefer to share this meeting."
The brothers nodded nervously. Edgeworth had a feeling that if he leaned forward, he might find them holding hands under the edge of the desk for emotional support.
"Very well," he said, and laid out the files side by side on his desk. "The annual review. I'll be brief: one of you needs to go."
Winston winced. Gaspen gasped.
"That much was obvious from the start of this review, though of course I carefully evaluated every prosecutor in the building as well. In the end however, it comes down to you, Paynes. To be blunt, both of you have made dismal showings of yourself this year."
Winston winced again, looking down at his lap as if ashamed. Gaspen glared, then seemed to remember just whom he was glaring at, and quickly looked down.
That reaction... said a lot about them.
"Winston," Edgeworth said. He didn't really need to look at the file on his desk, but he glanced down at it anyway, making sure he had all the details correct. "You have lost 60% of your cases. You have been clearly flummoxed and under-prepared in front of the court, and attempt to cover up for your failures with bluster and arrogance when questioned. Your vendetta against Phoenix Wright, while not... unusual for prosecutors round these parts, has been anything but subtle and has reached unprofessional levels. You frequently attempt to take credit for others' successes while trying to conceal your own failures from view. I've also received several complaints about your hair - the toupees left lying around, the gel in the bathrooms, and the incessant discussion of which style you currently sport. You have been an incredibly poor excuse for a prosecutor this year."
Winston wilted. In the chair beside him, Gaspen's mouth twitched between a concerned frown and a triumphant smirk as though unsure which direction to take.
"Ob-Objection!" Winston screeched. It sounded particularly half-hearted, however, and when Edgeworth raised a brow and waited, the statement was followed up with only a helpless, "I'm not... that bad..."
"Yes, you are." Edgeworth said bluntly. Winston winced dramatically once more. "However, before you pack your desk... Gaspen."
"Gaspen Payne," Edgeworth sighed, glancing down at the second file on his desk. "I'm sure you recall our meeting last year."
"My salary cut..." Gaspen whispered forlornly. Edgeworth resisted a snort.
"Yes, that," he said. "Though it seems you've forgotten the rest of that meeting. Namely, when I told you to shape up if you wanted to remain on my staff for much longer."
"Objection! I haven't falsified anything!" Gaspen protested. "...this year..."
Edgeworth leveled him with a long, skeptical stare. "Hmmm," he said.
Gaspen started to sweat.
"It is true we haven't attributed any falsified evidence to your name this year... yet. However, that alone will not remove your head from the chopping block. Your success record this year has been slightly better than your older brother's, however it is still approximately a fifty-fifty chance that you will lose any given case. You too fail to adequately prepare for your trials, however you go the extra mile of simply flat-out lying about your shoddy investigations after the fact. Various police have corroborated this. In the courtroom, you do hold your composure better; if 'composure' can be defined as 'bullying the witnesses and defense whenever you think you can get away with it.'"
"I have a name to live up to, but that doesn't mean I-" Gaspen tried to defend himself.
"Ah yes, your self-styled nickname. 'Rookie Humiliator', was it?"
"Yeah," Gaspen said proudly. "I'm known for-"
"What you are known for," Edgeworth said, "is your clear pattern of bullying young women, both inside court and out. I have received several complaints from female staff in this building, and the Judge has had to intervene more than once in the courtroom. I can't punish you for being an unpleasant person - but this misogyny is a different matter."
"Y-you can't mean-"
"Gaspen Payne, turn in your badge. You are fired, effective immediately." Edgeworth ignored Winston's loud gasp, and Gaspen's horrified jerk back, simply reaching his hand expectantly across his desk.
"B-but I have a better win record!" Gaspen said shrilly. Winston jolted in his seat.
"Win records aren't everything," Edgeworth said with great emphasis. "Now give me your badge and go."
The Demon Prosecutor's glare was still far too formidable to face long; Gaspen didn't argue any more. Instead, he unpinned his badge from his jacket and reached forward to - throw it at Edgeworth's face before yelling, "You'll regret this!" and bolting out the room.
The Chief Prosecutor dodged the projectile calmly, ignoring the crash behind him as it toppled over Wendy's bouquet.
"Winston," he said, after a moment.
"Y-YES?!" the older brother shrieked, jumping in his chair. Edgeworth winced.
"Know that simply because the other Payne was the one to go this time, does not mean you are safe. You've coasted for years on the impressive record of your early career; I won't stand for it any longer. I have seen hints that you do actually still believe in justice - perhaps now that you are free of your brother's influence you will actually prove me correct by becoming a effectual prosecutor once more."
"I - I - um, I want to put the bad guys away, but ever since I lost my hair no one listens to me..." Winston moaned.
"Your hair isn't magical, Mr. Payne," Edgeworth said, patience failing him entirely. "No one listens to you because you don't say anything worthwhile. Change that, and maybe they actually will. Dismissed."
As soon as the second Payne was out of the room he let out a loud sigh, burying his face in his hands. As always, the Payne brothers had been... painful. Still, such was the job. Hopefully, the shared meeting would provide some incentive for the elder to learn from. If not... there was always next year.
In the meantime, that was the final item on his schedule today, and there was a magic show about to start across town. Today especially, he was looking forward to the simple enjoyment of being 'Uncle Miles' again, sitting in his front-row table with a bottle of grape juice and an old friend at his side.
He left the building with a smile.