One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Phoenix hissed in pain as his elbow met the corner of the nightstand. Sleepily mumbling cuss words under his breath while rubbing the offended limb, he tried to roll over and go back to sleep. Several uncomfortable squirms—and a sharp kick from the other occupant—later he grudgingly gave up and stumbled out of bed.

The hardwood floor was cold as he padded towards the window on the other side of the bed. One set of clothes was folded neatly on top of the desk off to the side, but his were in a haphazard, vaguely horizontal spread. One sock kicked to a corner of the room, its partner off in parts unknown. His pants were still snaked out on the floor where he'd nearly tripped in his eagerness to be rid of them last night, shirt a couple of feet off to the side.

Phoenix retrieved his boxers from where they were peeking out under the bed and slipped them on. It just seemed strange to walk around in someone else's apartment without any clothes on. Especially this someone else's apartment.

He made his way out of the bedroom, stopping only to glance back at the still slumbering figure in the bed behind him. Phoenix shuffled past the living room that seemed untouched by human hands, and moved into the Ikea-display kitchen. Opening the ridiculously large stainless steel refrigerator, Phoenix cracked his neck as he surveyed his options for breakfast.

It was like gazing upon an alien landscape compared to the inside of his own cracked-and-peeling white fridge. Instead of a large box of stale leftover pizza, there were stacks of carefully organized containers. Rather than a few six packs of cheap beer, there was a bottle of already opened wine with an expensive-looking label.

The only discordant note was the small white boxes from the Chinese take-out they'd gotten last night. The boxes were disgustingly grease stained, and one had red sauce of some sort oozing on to the shelf from where it had seeped through the bottom. Yet even that seemed infinitely more inviting than anything from the plastic containers did, so Phoenix grabbed it. He licked his fingers when the sauce began to dribble down his hand as he searched for a fork.

Hmm, not bad.

Besides, if he didn't eat it, it'd just be thrown away.

He brought the container into the living room, cupping his hand around the bottom to avoid drips.

Phoenix settled into one of the chairs facing the large, ceiling-to-floor windows and watched the sun beat down through the unfailing LA haze. The chair punished him for his trespass into its sterile domain with its scratchy fabric rubbing against his bare thighs and by digging its ornate wooden back into his own. Phoenix pointedly ignored the discomfort and concentrated on his congealed probably-chicken-possibly-pork.

He glanced down at the offended chair's armrest. You know, I could grab my pocket knife and carve "P.W. was here" and… …I sound like Maya.

"What are you doing?"

Phoenix jumped like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, fork halfway to his lips as he suddenly whipped his head around. Edgeworth was standing behind him, fully dressed in a pair of slacks and a coal-grey turtleneck. Looking past him, Phoenix could see the bed had been made, so precise and perfect it didn't even look like it had been slept in at all.

Something deep inside Phoenix's stomach twisted and then, just as quickly, was gone.

Edgeworth's gaze slid to the messy carton of leftovers in Phoenix's left hand, then to the chair, then finally turned to inspecting the rug on the floor below. Properly and wordlessly chastised, Phoenix followed him back into the kitchen and took a seat at the kitchen table.

Phoenix watched as Edgeworth began making coffee. It was almost disconcerting to see him so at home as he pulled the grinder from high in a nearby cupboard and retrieved the beans from deep in the freezer.

I can't say I thought I'd ever see the day where I was sitting in Edgeworth's kitchen half-naked while he makes us coffee…

Usually their schedules were so tight one or the other had to leave early. But today Phoenix didn't have to be in court until noon, and…well, he didn't know what Edgeworth had planned for the rest of the day, but it didn't look like it included going into the office.

"How much do you want?"

"Huh?" Phoenix blinked.

"Coffee. How much do you want?" Edgeworth wiped the inside of the grinder with a wet paper towel as he spoke.

"Uh, just a cup is fine."

Edgeworth nodded and began measuring water. Phoenix allowed his eyes to drift around the room until they came to rest on the large grandfather clock across the way—a gift from Franziska, Edgeworth had explained when Phoenix asked a while back.

"Hey, that's unusual. Don't you usually keep that clock wound?" Sometimes it was a struggle to keep the conversation going.

"It is wound." Edgeworth pressed down on the grinder. A loud, keening drone filled the air.

"But it says it's eleven o'clock!" Phoenix said over the noise.

"Yes. That's because it is eleven o'clock."

"No, it can't be. That would mean I have to be in court in an hour!" The sound ceased abruptly. Phoenix's stomach dropped to his knees. If I leave right now, I can catch the bus at…dammit, no, that won't work! Phoenix stared at the table as his mind raced, trying figure out the logistics that would allow him to be dressed and at the courthouse in…fifty-eight minutes and counting.


If I wear what I…no, I can't show up to court like that.


I'm screwed!

"Wright!Go take a shower." Edgeworth said evenly. He turned his back to Phoenix and began busying himself with something on the counter. "You can wear something of mine. Call Maya and ask if she can grab anything you might need from your office. I'll drop you off."

"Edgeworth…" Relief coursed through Phoenix's veins.

It's been a few weeks, so my travel shampoo would be… Phoenix pulled the shower curtain open and stepped inside the shower, kicking his boxers to the corner of the small bathroom. …gone. Of course.

Hefting the only bottle to be found in eyesight, Phoenix gave the inside of the stall a cursory glance, just in case. No such luck.

It looks like my options are "Avocado Apple Melonberry Blast - For Men" and…"Avocado Apple Melonberry Blast - For Men". Well, that was easy.

As he popped the cap, the scent of citrus filled the air. But there's no citrus listed on the…

Phoenix shook his head. He didn't have time to muse upon the mysteries of Edgeworth's shampoo. He turned the bottle upside down and squirted a liberal dollop onto his palm.

It's pink. Why is it pink? None of the things pictured on the label are pink. Even the berries are blue!

…Do I really want to put this stuff on my head?

His old toothbrush was gone too.

It was always gone.

Every time, only used once. Then the next time, gone.

Phoenix slammed the cabinet below the sink open and rummaged through to find a fresh one. It was silly, but he'd spent some time picking the last one out. As though, if he could just find the right color combination with Edgeworth's, next time…

As he ripped the package open, Phoenix told himself he was annoyed over the pointless waste.

If the inside of Edgeworth's refrigerator was like viewing an alien landscape, stepping into his closet was like traveling to another dimension entirely. Phoenix hitched the towel around his waist, gulped, then took the plunge past the threshold.

The first thing he noticed was the pink. It would have been impossible not to notice the pink. It overpowered the dingy white walls, like everything had been dipped into a giant vat of Pepto-Bismol. Phoenix had noted Edgeworth tended towards a particular style and color, but it had never crossed his mind that the bulk of his closet would be the same thing over and over again. Clearly he didn't buy his outfits; he cloned them.

Upon closer inspection, there were slight differences. As Phoenix frantically shuffled through the suits, he could tell that some of the collars were wider, more ornate. A few had different colored vests. But it wasn't cosmetic differences that would help him find something he could wear without wanting to hide in the courthouse bathroom instead of defending his client.

Trying to be fair, he stopped and took a deep breath and honestly envisioned himself in one of these outfits. He waited for the mental dry heaves to finish before calling out to Edgeworth.

"Do you have anything more…subdued?" Do you own anything normal?

"There should be a black and a dark blue in there." Came the reply.

Oh, the blue. You mean the one with the five-inch, gold-encrusted lapels?

Phoenix Wright, ace attorney, master of the turnabout, accepted his defeat.

"I…uh, couldn't find anything. Do you think you could…?"

Edgeworth's brow was furrowing.

"Wright. I'm not driving you to your apartment and to court. They're in opposite directions!"

Phoenix stood there expectantly, dripping on the floor. He mustered what he hoped was his best puppy dog expression.

"What's wrong with wearing something of mine?" Edgeworth turned around again, cleaning what was left of Phoenix's breakfast off the table with renewed relish.

Where to start?! I only have forty-five minutes, not a week!

"I can't believe I'm doing this. You do realize that it takes fifteen minutes to get to your place and twenty to get to the courthouse. In good traffic. You'll have—" Edgeworth checked his watch for emphasis as he turned the key in the ignition. The red car purred to life under his fingertips. "—three minutes to get ready if you want to be on time."

Phoenix suppressed a shudder at the thought of Edgeworth's closet as he settled into the leather passenger seat. "I'll manage."

Edgeworth took them through a maze of backstreets until Phoenix could hardly tell which direction they were headed. Finally they pulled up next to his building. The stucco—though bright—was cracked, the tiles on the roof were falling off, but Phoenix couldn't help but feel relieved at the sight.

As he opened the gate and walked through the more dead-than-alive courtyard—only the hanging plants were thriving—he found himself whistling. And when he wriggled his key just so in order to pop the lock and stepped inside his first story, single bedroom apartment, he was tempted to collapse in the foyer right then and there.

Sure, what was there to greet him were his stacks of papers, his lumpy couch, the TV that skipped unless you changed the channels manually, and the curling linoleum in the kitchen. But there was also his toothbrush, and his suits.

His home.

It took him six minutes to get dressed—he stopped to shave. By the time he got back out to the car, Edgeworth was drumming his fingers on the steering wheel and looking as though he'd swallowed a good sized gulp of his own shampoo.

"Seventeen minutes," was all he said as Phoenix slid into the seat beside him.

"Can you make it?"

"I can try." Grimly.

Whoa, whoa. Don't make it sound like this is a matter of life and death!

Edgeworth gunned the motor forebodingly.

Maya was waiting for them outside on the courthouse steps, manila envelope in hand and box of evidence at her side. When she saw the familiar car pull up to the side, she came running up and knocked on the glass of the passenger side window. Edgeworth pressed the button to roll it down.

"Hey, you made it!" She chirped over Phoenix's head. "Wow, I wasn't expecting you for another five minutes!"

"I took a short cut." Edgeworth said.

Phoenix shuddered.

"Come on, Nick! She's waiting!" Without waiting for his reply, she opened the car door and dragged him out by his arm, stopping only to wave cheerfully as Edgeworth pulled away from the curb and drove away.

Lounging in bed, listening to the sounds of the shower, Phoenix inwardly promised himself that next time he would get Edgeworth to stay at his place for a change. Even if he had to clean it from top to bottom just to get him past the entryway.

"Wright, can you get me the second suit on the left in the closet? The violet-red with the charcoal vest and off-white cravat." Steam escaped from the bathroom before Edgeworth abruptly closed the door once again.

Phoenix swung off the bed and walked over to the closet. He just knew he would end up getting the "maroon suit with the ink-grey vest and the floral-white cravat" by mistake, but it was always worth a try.

Having (hopefully) found the one Edgeworth wanted, Phoenix took it and turned to leave. A slash of darkness amidst all the pink caught the corner of his eye.

What is this? Curious, Phoenix stepped closer and pulled the strange suit off the rack. It was unlike anything else in the closet, and obviously new. Why would he…?

It hit him. For a moment Phoenix couldn't even move. This wasn't Edgeworth's style. It wasn't his size. It was…

As Phoenix stared at the navy blue suit, dress shirt, and red tie, a mass of half-realized feelings caught in his throat. He swallowed heavily.

This didn't belong here. Not in this apartment with its uncomfortable furniture, unfamiliar food, and mysterious toiletries. Not in this closet among the blinding colors and the seemingly endless procession of cravats.

But it was here, nonetheless.