Author's Note: Quick reminder that the last chapter was revised and there are a couple notes at the bottom. This epilogue will probably be revised, and if there is anything you have questions about, I can try to work an answer into the revised epilogue. Thank you for reading Turnabout Family, and I hope you enjoyed. :)
"Let's see, what have I forgotten?"
Edgeworth ran his hands through his hair for the millionth time and looked around the joined kitchen and living room areas. It was modestly decorated with streamers and balloons, there was a vide variety of drinks and snacks on the counter, and the table was set for six. Three small presents sat at the head of the table with a card, and there was enough room for any presents the guests might bring.
"But I have to be forgetting something. I haven't been this prepared for an event since…"
Well, since before he was a father. It seemed there was never enough time or preparation or planning to be had when there was a child in the equation. His courtroom skills hadn't suffered at all—in fact, his steady acclimation to unpredictability improved them in some ways—but he never truly felt prepared. He had never had that trouble until he had a little boy, and all of a sudden, things just got pushed back more and more and more every day. Even outside the courtroom, things just seemed to… happen. When your entire world revolved around two people instead of one, it made things quite complicated.
Edgeworth loved it. It wasn't in his nature, but he loved it nonetheless.
Edgeworth heard a key twist in the lock to the front door, and then Arthur appeared around the corner, dusting the snow out of his hair as he wiped his feet on the mat.
"Come on," Edgeworth urged, an eager lilt to his tone. "Show it to me. I want to see it."
Arthur grinned from ear to ear, reached into his jacket, and…
"Tada! Detective Inspector Arthur Edgeworth, at your service."
Edgeworth smiled even wider than Arthur, pulling the boy—no, the young man, twenty-three years of age—into his arms. "Arthur, it's fantastic. I'm so proud of you." He took the badge from Arthur's hand and looked it over, eyes wandering to the right-hand side of the leather sleeve. "Mind if I do a little detecting of my own?"
Arthur's face fell slightly, and he let out a soft sigh. "Yeah."
Edgeworth grabbed the paper folded up and stuffed into one half of the holder. He wasn't surprised to find a homemade birth certificate with the name Elisa Leah Edgeworth written across the middle.
He had printed that certificate more than ten years earlier.
"You're going to carry her with you?" Edgeworth asked softly, chancing a glance at Arthur's face. "I think she would appreciate that."
Arthur nodded slightly, eyes still downcast, and he held out his hand for the badge and paper. "I couldn't help her, but I can help other people as a detective."
Edgeworth pressed his lips into a thin line. "There was nothing either of us could do, Arthur." He paused for a moment, and then offered a very small smile. "You said you're going to the March for Life, didn't you? I'll go with you."
"Thanks, Dad." Arthur looked at the certificate for a moment or two, and then he quickly put it back with his badge and tucked it into his coat. He sniffed and forced a smile. "She would be thirteen if she… if she'd had the chance. She'd almost be in high school. Crazy about boys." He laughed, but there was a stiff sadness to it. "Driving you crazy."
Edgeworth smiled softly and pulled Arthur into another hug. "She would also be incredibly proud of her big brother, and she would want him to celebrate his special day."
Arthur didn't seem comforted by the words. "Mom was eight weeks pregnant when she… Elisa never got to open her eyes."
"She had eyes, Dad, but she never got to open them. Her heart was beating—giving off twenty percent of the energy an adult heart does! She had muscles and a skeleton and reflexes; she had little tiny teeth, and ears, and lips, and a nose; her organs were all there and they were working, they were forming blood cells and acids and…" Arthur slowed to a stop, the fight seeming to drain right out of him. "And Mom killed her. And I'm not allowed to say anything because it's not my body. It wasn't Mom's body either. It wasn't…" He glanced up at Edgeworth, laughed softly, and wiped the tears from his eyes. "You've heard all this before."
Edgeworth smiled softly, a brief twitch of the lips, and he put a comforting hand on Arthur's shoulder. "I don't mind listening. I wish we could have saved Elisa, too, and I know it's something that hurts you very deeply." He squeezed the joint in his hand. "You're allowed to be angry, Arthur, I just don't want that to be your focus. You can't save everyone."
Arthur nodded his head and wiped his eyes, but he kept his gaze downward. "I know."
"Do you?" Edgeworth arched a brow slightly. "You're a detective. You catch the bad guys, I'll prosecute them, and Uncle Phoenix will defend the innocent ones. We do what we can with the gifts we have." He took his son's face in his hands and gave him another smile. "We are human, and we need to be okay with that."
Arthur took a deep breath and slowly let it out, nodding his head. "Right. We do what we can." He rubbed his face and then shed his coat and scarf, hanging both up and kicking off his shoes. "Do you need any help setting things up?"
Edgeworth chuckled softly and shook his head. "I was just thinking that I'm more prepared for an event now than I have been in over a decade."
Arthur laughed and then sniffed, clearing away the last signs of tears and approaching the table. "Six plates? Is Franzy coming?"
Edgeworth shrugged his shoulders slightly. "Hopefully. With this dreadful winter weather, her flight was delayed, but she still intends to be here."
"Cool." Arthur smiled and nodded his head. "Did I get anything in the mail?"
"You got a postcard from the animal shelter. It seems two dogs and a cat are not enough. We simply must adopt more." Edgeworth glanced down as he spoke, half expecting one of the aforementioned animals to appear. "But I don't think Friska would be all too keen on the idea of any intruders in her territory. Oh! You also got a letter from your sponsored child in Nigeria."
"Awesome! I've been waiting to hear back from her." Arthur smiled and fell silent, looking around the room for a moment before looking at Edgeworth like a little boy on his birthday. "I can't believe I'm a detective."
"I can. I never doubted you for a second." Edgeworth grabbed the kettle from the stove and filled it with water, setting it back down on the burner. "We've got about an hour and a half before people start showing up. I really don't need help with anything, so if you want to go rest, you're more than welcome. I doubt you slept much last night."
Arthur ran a hand through his hair and started up the stairs. "Yeah, I think I'll go lay down." He stopped halfway up and turned around with a grin. "But stalling won't save you. I can wait until after the party to beat you at chess."
Edgeworth laughed, pretending to wipe a tear from his eye. "I don't know what's funnier, you managing to stay awake after nine in the evening, or you thinking you can beat me, the Chess Master, at chess."
"Oh, it's on." Arthur laughed and continued up the stairs.
Edgeworth waited until Arthur disappeared, and then he returned to the kitchen, gathering a cup and a teabag to go with the water he was boiling.
I can't believe he's all grown up.
It seemed like mere weeks since Edgeworth had stood in that very kitchen and completely panicked. He remembered staying up all night, sitting at the table long after Arthur had gone to bed, frantically trying to figure out what he was supposed to do and how. Over the years, he had often stated that, in that moment, he thought he caught a glimpse of what it might be like to get pregnant in high school, out of wedlock, totally unprepared, and completely in over your head.
He had consumed twelve—and he did count them—cups of tea before the night was over, clacking away at his laptop, trying to figure out how he was supposed to… well… raise a child. He ordered over two hundred dollars' worth of books from discount websites, all of them on parenting and child psychology.
Edgeworth grabbed the kettle from the stove just before it began to whistle, and he poured the steaming water into his cup. He glanced to his right and smiled at the chalkboard still fastened to the wall.
He had decided on homeschooling Arthur without too much deliberation. Statistically speaking, it was the best way to educate children, and it worked well with his schedule. He never had to worry about picking Arthur up or dropping him off; never had to worry about when the bus went and where the stops were and so on. He simply took Arthur with him. He would work on cases, and Arthur would do his schoolwork, and they would pop across the street to have lunch and, on special days, ice cream cones.
Arthur loved it. Edgeworth loved it. It worked out perfectly.
Arthur wanted to learn to play the guitar, so Edgeworth found a music studio two blocks away from the courthouse and paid for lessons. Phoenix, Maya, and even Gumshoe regularly chipped in to help with transportation or supervision when Edgeworth couldn't make the schedule work. There were even times when Phoenix would show up at the door with tickets to a museum and happily announce he was taking his nephew on a field trip for school.
Phoenix loved using the school excuse to take Arthur anywhere.
Which was fine, because Arthur loved to travel. And they travelled. Oh, did they travel.
Of course, Edgeworth took Arthur to Germany to meet Franziska. She had taken to him immediately, much more than Edgeworth thought she would, and it became mandatory to visit with each other at least twice a year. Often when they would visit, they would catch a train or simply drive around Europe, exploring any little thing that captured Arthur's interest without any real destination in mind. Driving across the country was another form of travel, and they used essentially the same, wandering method.
Somewhere in all the busy days, cluttered schedules, and easy-going Sunday afternoons, Edgeworth had learned how to be a father. It hit him, sometimes, that he didn't know exactly when he stopped panicking about his role. He remembered the first night clearly, and in the weeks that followed—finding doctors, a dentist, financial and legal records—he was certain the fear held on.
But then Arthur would smile.
Arthur would smile at him, and it was like nothing else mattered. No matter what happened, no matter how hard it was, Edgeworth would do anything to see that smile again. He would take the fear, the doubt, the stress, the sleepless nights, the arguments, the responsibility, the pain, the tears—all of it. He would take it all if he got to see Arthur's smile. If he got to laugh with him. If he got to lay on the couch with a book and have Arthur fall asleep on his chest. If he got to experience one more Christmas, one more Halloween, one more birth—
Edgeworth nearly dropped his cup. "I forgot to pick up the cake!"
Laughter floated down from the upper level, and Edgeworth cast a scathing glare toward the steps as he rushed to put on his coat and gloves.
"Keep that up, and you aren't getting any cake!" he hollered.
"Objection! That would classify as cruel and unusual punishment. That's illegal."
Edgeworth went halfway up the stairs so he could hear better. "Objection! One could argue that, given the unhealthy nature of the food in question, it would be cruel and unusual punishment to do anything but withhold cake."
"Objection! You love me too much to do that to me."
Edgeworth stopped, smiled, and closed the short distance between himself and Arthur's bedroom door. "The prosecution rests."
Arthur laughed from inside. "It wouldn't be the first time."
"No, it certainly wouldn't." Edgeworth opened the door a crack and poked his head in, smiling when he saw Arthur sprawled out under a mountain of blankets.
He stared, and he remembered. He remembered so many things just by looking at Arthur, just by looking at his room.
He remembered concussion number two. He remembered watching the same movie ten times in a row. He remembered being unable to get Disney songs out of his head. He remembered burying Pess. He remembered bringing home a puppy. He remembered talking Arthur out of naming her Blackie Two. He remembered trips to the beach. He remembered the park. He remembered painting Arthur's bedroom, and then repainting it when he decided he was too old for the color scheme. He remembered Arthur's first broken heart. He remembered the slumber parties.
He remembered everything.
Edgeworth smiled, vaguely aware his eyes were damp. "I love you, Arthur. You do know that, don't you?"
Arthur rolled over and sat up in bed, laughing softly. "Yes, Dad, I know. You tell me every day."
Edgeworth pursed his lips and shrugged. "Saying something every day doesn't make it true. Do you know I love you?"
Arthur smiled, taking a moment to simply look at his father before replying. "Yes, I know. Your evidence is all in order, and you have proven beyond reasonable doubt that you love me." He tilted his head slightly, somehow able to pull off the same, lopsided grin he did as a child. "What about me? How's my case looking?"
Edgeworth smiled warmly, a dull and somehow pleasant ache throbbing in his chest. "It's exemplary, Arthur."
"No objections?" Arthur raised a brow.
Edgeworth laughed and rolled his eyes. "No objections."
Arthur laid back down and covered up with his blankets once more. "You don't have to get the cake if you don't want to. It's pretty miserable out there."
"I don't mind. Just keep your cell phone on you in case I get stuck somewhere."
Arthur gave a thumbs up and then pulled his arm back into the warmth.
Edgeworth smiled and shook his head, closing the door and walking back down to the foyer. He put on his boots and put a hat on his head, grabbing his keys and taking a final look around before stepping out.
Well, Dad… I know I didn't become a defense attorney like you, but I tried to be a good father like you. I hope I made you proud.
Edgeworth glanced back at the house and then started down the steps, smiling softly to himself.
If his father could see him and feel half the pride Edgeworth felt when he looked at Arthur, that would be enough.
It would be more than enough.