Disclaimer: I WISH I owned Phoenix Wright. If I did, I would kidnap Edgeworth, handcuff Phoenix to myself, and keep the PW:AA series going :-D
A/N: So, this story takes place AFTER Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and BEFORE Phoenix Wright: Justice For All. In fact, you could call it slightly AU because of the content presented. The story delves into Phoenix's past, all of which is just fictional concept. None of it is true. None of it. Some of the points, like Edgeworth's "suicide," while thrown in this story, are distorted from the action sequel to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
Also, I know that Phoenix Wright is a court game, but the trial in this story doesn't even happen until much later. It's a Phoenix-centric story and I know that I might be pulling away from the whole concept of Phoenix Wright with this one, but please give it a chance. I'll try not to disappoint.
Lastly, I hope you enjoy the story and please RnR if you get the chance.
You, Me, And The War Between Us
Chapter One--Gasping and Grasping
The flats of Phoenix Wright's large hands came down hard upon his sturdy desk, causing it to shake from the force, and he pointed a stern finger at the witness. "You say that you saw the accused enter the apartment complex after one A.M., but I have a report here that clearly contradicts that statement!" He flashed the manila envelope in the direction of the witness. Her golden locks, which curled around her earlobes, moved alongside with the shaking of her small, startled face.
"T-That can't be right! I saw him walk in right after one!" The young woman gestured to the defendant, who was mirroring the witness's horrified expression. The witness wiped a bead of sweat from her face, the thin, porcelain bracelets around her wrists clanking together and her glossed lips turning at one corner, forming an uneven frown.
"So, you're saying that the police are lying then?"
"I didn't say that at all!"
Phoenix smiled inwardly. He had her right where he wanted her. He enjoyed watching the young woman squirm under his gaze and knowing that he was the reason why she was so unsettled. I've got this case in the bag, now. All that's left is for her to confess that it was her cousin who broke into Ann Baxter's room and killed her that night. Man…and what a winding road this has been!
The young attorney crossed his arms, looking at her with such a heated glare it made her recoil within the witness stand.
"Well, Ms. Summers? If you're not criticizing the police, what are you doing?"
Phoenix's eyes broke away from the witness and turned to the opposite side of the court room, where the residing prosecutor was hunching over his paperwork, the light from above reflecting against his thick, crooked glasses. Nuts…I was so wrapped up in my victory dance, I forgot about him.
"The defense is badgering the witness!" Winston Payne accused, his small, beady eyes narrowing at the younger man.
"Objection sustained," the judge nodded in agreement. "Mr. Wright, please keep your personal feelings in check. I want to only hear questions and see evidence pertaining to this case."
Phoenix swallowed the smirk on his face. "Y-Yes, Your Honor…" From out of the corner of his eye, he could see the witness sticking her tongue out at him. I was so close, too! If only he had given me another thirty seconds, I would've had her spilling her guts! Hmm…time to try a different tactic… "Either way, Ms. Summers, your testimony still contradicts this report." He pulled it out and began to read it. "It says here that the, 'record of the last card key entry was at twelve-thirty.' That's exactly one hour before the murder of Ann Baxter! We've already figured out that there had been no injury done to the apartment complex itself, so in order to access the gate, he would've already had to have been a resident. However, this is not the case, so, therefore, someone would've had to have given him a card key instead."
The witness was rubbing her arm, exposing her pink painted fingernails, and she was licking her lips. Becoming restless, she stopped abruptly, and raked her hand through her thick curls.
"Not to mention," Phoenix continued, "this is the fourth murder in the last two months. A little hasty for the modern serial killer who doesn't want to be caught, don't you think? That means, in this case, that he would be in a hurry. I speculate that either he would be on the verge of being kicked out of the apartment complexes, or the one supplying the murderer with the card would be on the brink of moving. That's why he would be so frantic."
"I…I…" Ms. Summers looked around the large courtroom, hoping to find something that would help her out of her current situation. All she found were unforgiving faces.
"Mr. Wright!" The younger attorney was silenced and he gazed over at his opponent, the large bald spot on his head becoming blinding as Mr. Payne stepped into the light. Phoenix shielded his eyes with one arm. "You keep spouting all of these possibilities, but where is your proof!? Do you have any proof that will back up all of your thoughts!?"
Back straightening and grin returning, Phoenix Wright said, "Why, Mr. Payne…Yes…Yes I do."
His smile strengthened when he saw both the witness and Mr. Payne retreat into the tiny corners of their wooden boxes. The public prosecutor began to clutch furiously at his black necktie, eyes, once again, hiding within the luminous light from the ceiling above.
"I was merely preparing the court for what I was about to show them," Phoenix explained, bringing a hand out to motion to all of those in the audience. "After all, this was almost an unsolvable case, as you mentioned in your opening statement. My job is simply to find my client, Joe Spencer, innocent." The young man's eyes were shining now, "And I believe I've done just that."
"Mr. Wright," the judge was leaning over his podium, quite interested, to see what Phoenix had found, "please, continue with your thoughts."
"Of course, Your Honor," he nodded. "As I was saying, it's impossible to enter the complexes in the first place without a cardkey. Four killings in a two month period would be too hasty unless the reason was that the murderer was on the verge of losing his only access into the complexes. Therefore, he'd have to kill them as quickly as possible and without getting caught."
"But what of the reason of killing them in the first place?" the judge intervened.
"We already concluded that the four victims were all wealthy. They were also linked to the high executive positions of the apartment complexes. At first, it seemed that these were just burglaries gone wrong, but now I think that we can draw the conclusion that there was something more from all of this." Phoenix looked at everyone in the court to make sure they were paying attention. They were. "It was done for more than just money or obtaining a higher authority within the complexes. Even more than just a serial killer's want for fame. No…The murderer was stealing other accesses from his victims' identities so that he could gain entry into other more exclusive facilities. If you remember correctly, these victims all had ties into other businesses such as accounting firms, computing networks, banks, and even glamorous hotels. Given enough time, the murderer could have gained extensive amounts of information that could put the lives of other people in jeopardy."
"So, he was after information? I see…" the judge nodded.
"Correct, Your Honor," Phoenix affirmed. Yes! I'm on a roll! "Now, even though my client, Joe Spencer, was an advocate in the Anti-Specialists campaign (which, if you all can recall, was the petition to stop higher executives from taking housing for themselves from within the apartment complexes, due to increased rent and stricter regulations), I have a firm reason to believe that he is not the murderer in this case and I have evidence to prove it!"
Hearing everyone gasp in surprise, the young attorney withdrew a Ziploc bag containing a bloody card within. He felt even more triumphant at the feverish look on Mr. Payne's face and the clenched fist from the witness. Phoenix held it up for all to see and then turned back to the judge.
"Your Honor, this is the bloody keycard belonging to Ms. Summers that was found in the shack owned by her cousin, Maxwell Ward. I had it tested and it came back saying that the blood belonged to Ann Baxter! She was lying when she said that she had turned it in the night before the murder and had moved out, claiming that my client had stolen it. If that had been true, the card would've been deactivated on the spot, allowing no way for Joe Spencer to access the gate outside. However, records show…" he held them up for emphasis with his other hand, "…that this card was used again the night after!"
"Preposterous!" Mr. Payne cried, his knuckles white from blood loss as they gripped his desk tightly. "Then how do you propose that that card was able to access the other rooms!? It would be impossible!"
"The same way I'm telling you it would be impossible for my client to have done the same thing! But, Mr. Payne, if you can recall…" Phoenix waited, giving dramatic pause before continuing, "…Ms. Summers claimed to be dating the man at the Security Center! It would be easy for her to get access numbers!"
"What's that measly card going to prove!?" the public prosecutor demanded. The younger attorney was sure that all of this excitement was going to give the poor man a heart attack. Wait…is that foam coming out of his mouth?
"If you had also checked this card, you would've found that, though this card is still registered under Judy Summers, the access number matches that of Ms. Baxter's room!"
That was it. It was the final blow to the drawn out Apartment Murders case that had taken so long to finish. Phoenix smiled at his work and turned his attention to his client, Joe Spencer, who was shedding tears of joy from his chair nearby. Now he had proven his client innocent and unmasked the real killer, along with his cousin accomplice.
Phoenix was amazed when the room broke out into applause, followed by a standing ovation (and a quick scolding from the judge, though his eyes were sparkling with mirth). This heavy battle was finally at a close. Closing his eyes, the young attorney fell forward across his desk, relieved to feel its cool furnish against his face.
He paid no attention when Joe Spencer took the stand and the judge declared him "not guilty." He was much more interested in watching as the bailiffs arrested Judy Summers and her cousin, Maxwell Ward, for the murders of four apartment residents in the complexes on the corner of Grove Street. When Ms. Summers gave one last glare back to him, he rewarded her with a small wave of his hand and a silent attack of tongue wars. She screamed in frustration, just like he expected her to, and stormed out of the courtroom, which was still in voluminous applause.
Wright, you've done it again! You really should get a raise for this… He chuckled to himself. It seemed as though he was getting much better in his line of work, and, though he still wished Mia was around, felt himself getting a better hold on things. Not that the cases came any easier. This one, in particular, he was almost sure was going to swim against the tide—his tide, for that matter. Still, he kept believing in his client, like Mia had told him to, and it resulted in, yet, another victorious outcome.
"How can I ever begin to thank you, Mr. Wright?" Joe Spencer, a tall, bald man with a firm grip on Phoenix's hand, was grinning from ear to ear. The young attorney had to look up at him in order to mirror his client's smile, but it was a conquest well earned. "I don't think I could ever repay you for what you've done."
Pumping his arm twice before letting go, Phoenix said, "No, no, it's quite all right. I'm just happy that you're out here while the real culprits are in custody."
"Yeah," Spencer laughed, rubbing the back of his neck. His orange basketball jersey was ruffled slightly against the movement. "Though, I do feel bad for them. I mean, I always thought Ms. Summers was such a sweet young lady. I never would imagine that she and Maxwell would try to frame me for murder." Seeing the inquisitive look in Joe's eyes, Phoenix could anticipate the next question. His mouth opened and he asked, "Say, what made them to do such a nasty thing in the first place, Mr. Wright? I always thought that we were friends…"
"Well…" For the first time, the young attorney had no physical evidence to display to his client for his desperation in understanding why friends had become foes. Instead, he replied, "I don't want to say that it's true that 'nice guys finish last,' Mr. Spencer, but it seems that they took advantage of your kindness. You let them borrow money, clothes, and even your keycard."
His shoulders slumped, the taller man looking dejected. "Yeah, and that's what killed me on that last part, too."
Phoenix grimaced, remembering how Maxwell and his cousin had used Joe's keycard to make duplicates to conduct the first killing of John Whitman. "Well…the past is the past, now. I don't want to tell you to stop being a nice guy, because that's what the world needs more of nowadays, but I just want you to remember this for future reference."
"Oh, you bet I will!" Spencer's face lit up and Phoenix could've sworn that his client had been born again with new understanding about the world. "I won't be duped so easily again!"
The young attorney simply smiled. For your sake, I hope not. You were taken advantage of four times, once for every murder. No wonder the entire court had pinned all of them on you.
"Well," Joe bowed his head, smiling and looking better than when he had come in, "Guess I'll go see about them clearing up my name and letting me out of Detention now." He was silent for a moment longer before bringing his full attention back to the other man. "Mr. Wright, if there's ever anything I could do to make it up to you…anything at all…"
"I'll be sure to let you know," Phoenix finished for him. "Listen, Mr. Spencer, my happiness lies just in knowing that you'll be okay from here on out. If you really want to repay me, just keep it that way, all right?"
Joe was not hesitant to agree. "Understood! I promise I won't waste all of your efforts! You have my word!" With that, he patted Phoenix on the back and walked out with a bailiff behind him.
Eight months had passed since Phoenix Wright's battle against Damon Gant for the freedom of Lana Skye. Nothing much had changed since then, except Maya was packaging Pink Princess cards and giving them to him, Ema was sending letters from Europe (plenty of them asking about Mr. Edgeworth, all to which the defense attorney knew nothing about after not having seen his childhood friend since the day he had walked out of the lobby), and Lana kept in touch. In the end, Damon Gant did not press charges against Phoenix for breaking into his office, calling "Touché" to their battle in court. Gant was removed as Chief of Police and held accountable for murder on both accounts of Neil Marshall and Bruce Goodman.
Phoenix, all in all, was happy with his life for the most part. Business was finally picking up and he was taking requests for clients again. The one thing that he was most proud of was his unscathed record as a defense attorney. Within time, his name carried a reputation and, when defense attorneys were offered, Phoenix was almost always at the top of the clients' lists. Though having felt he had fulfilled his obligations as an attorney and had repaid his two friends for their kindness long ago, the young man could not pry himself away from the imploring cries of those in need.
He had more than once laughed at the thought. I suppose Edgeworth and Larry are right. I am a Goody-Two-Shoes, aren't I? Nevertheless, it was people like Joe Spencer that forced him from turning his head. Knowing that he still had to do the right thing for people who could not defend themselves (and to pick up where a certain stubborn prosecutor had left off since the DL-6 case), Phoenix remained a defense attorney.
Still, deep down, he knew that not all expectations had been met and that, though previously believed, certain ties between he and Edgeworth still had remained severed. It hadn't helped that Phoenix hadn't heard from him since that final day in the lobby with Ema and Lana, and the fact that Edgeworth had been lost to an unreachable fog, like before, left him even more disconcerted.
Despite these short-lived surges of lamentation, Phoenix knew that he was advancing in his career both financially and in experience. He found himself losing more and more sleep over harder to crack cases, but knew that each victory could not have been obtained without previous occurrences and knowledge. And I thought that helping Larry out had been hard. The cases up until now had shared similar traits: revenge, betrayal, disguises (especially as the victims in particular), and executives in higher statuses. In Phoenix's opinion, that's what had made him take the case—the lack of repetitive qualities that he had seen in all of the other cases.
This case had not been so easy to solve and Phoenix, himself, had begun to have doubts about whether or not his client was truly innocent. It all had started when Joe Spencer called the defense attorney from Detention, told him that he had been accused of four murders in the past two months, and that his life hung in the very balance of the trial's outcome. Phoenix could handle one murder, maybe even two, as had happened in the past, but those had been separate cases. Certainly not four, he told himself. Yet, something continued to churn in his mind: What if my friends gave up on me? What if I was truly innocent, but no one believed me? What if all my hope really was gone? Then he thought of Lana and decided to take the case.
No, things had not been easy at first, and all evidence pointed to Joe Spencer, a nice guy who had been tricked by those he thought to be friends. He was the new guy on the block and just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, being a part of the Anti-Specialists campaign did not help his reputation any further, though all of its participants had nothing abominable to say against Joe and were in quite a shock to learn that their friend was being held responsible for murder.
Phoenix had always thought friends were one of the most important things in life to have, so when Joe Spencer couldn't understand why his friends would not stand up for him, the defense attorney did. How ironic that I found that those who were accusing him were actually the ones who did it? Hmph, with "friends" like them, who needs enemies? However, now that everything was said and done, he wanted to clear it from his mind as fast as possible. It was no longer relevant to him; tomorrow, someone else would come in with another almost unshakable case. But didn't I rock the socks off of them? Heh, heh…
Phoenix walked into his office, threw his coat onto the rack, and yawned. It was still only two o'clock in the afternoon, so the day hadn't been completely wasted. Everything was silent except for the unremitting rhythm of the clock located on the right wall above one of the desks.
The office was tidy, the carpets clean, and the desks polished nicely. He checked to make sure that the plants were still healthy, and fingered several leaves before noting his satisfaction and continuing on. His eyes wandered to the large file cabinet in the front room, remembering how he had spent all afternoon of the previous day cleaning off fingerprints and other grime that had clung to the glass.
A large, framed painting hung over a lengthy black sofa, the leather shiny and slick. Phoenix remembered that Mia had bought the painting when she last owned the company and hadn't the heart to take it down, even though it wasn't really his taste in art. His lips twisted slightly when he realized that the sofa seats looked stiff and box-like in shape. Had it really been that long since a client had come in or was it really just the time that had passed since he first took the Apartment Complex Case? Either way, it had been a long road and he was relieved that it was over with.
Still, the silence bothered him every time his eyes turned back to the empty coat rack that now only held his blue jacket. Maya had been gone for ten months now, and he had only recently realized how much he truly missed her company. Spinning on his back foot, his vacant surroundings only added to his misery. The desk she used to sit at (and spent most of her time twirling in the swivel chair, much to his dismay) had begun to collect dust, and he ran a hand over the back of the leather chair to wipe it away, leaving a messy handprint behind.
Giving a wry smile, Phoenix opened the door into his office and moved inside. As he walked by his desk, he grabbed the stack of mail that he had retrieved earlier that day, but hadn't had the time to sort through it. He stood in front of his large office window, overlooking the Gatewater Hotel—a place that sent shivers down his spine as he recalled the terrible memory associated with it. Mia's death, April May and her wiretapping, Redd White and Bluecorp, and his own trial for innocence. About the only good thing that had come from that case was his meeting with Maya, who became his friend and partner after that.
The luxurious hotel seemed to be busy, now, with people filing in and out of the turning doors, employees in the valet service driving cars away from the curb, and Phoenix could've sworn he saw that head bellboy down there greeting a group of wealthy looking ladies. It's strange that this place would be so busy at this time of the month; it's only October. Perhaps it's for Halloween? But that's kind of silly…
Pushing the thought from his mind, the defense attorney spun around, nearly colliding with Mia's favorite plant that was in the corner of the room. His hand reached out to turn down the blinds, erasing the sunlight from his room until it had become very dim.
"Gah…All I want to do is sleep. I haven't had much of it since I began this case a month ago…" Stretching, Phoenix began towards his smaller sofa, which faced the window, and sat down, setting the stack of mail beside him.
There was a glass light stand next to the couch and he pulled on the chain to bring a ray of light over him—just enough to read the mail before laying down for a nap. He sighed, leaned his head back, and caught sight of the mountainous shelves containing endless records of cases and recent rulings. They, too, had begun to collect dust.
"I really should hire a maid," he mumbled before sitting up straight and bringing the envelopes to his lap.
He shuffled through them, glancing over them quickly, and set the ones aside that he wanted to deal with later—bills, coupon books, magazines, and paperwork for the business. In the end he was left with two unopened letters: one was without a return address and the other from Maya.
"Let's see what Maya has to say," he said to himself, tearing the envelope open and wriggling the letter loose from within. Unfolding it, his eyes began to skim over the messy handwriting that he knew so well. "Dear Nick, how have you been? I'm doing well…training's almost done…other acolytes have helped me regain my abilities…" He nodded to himself, "That's a good thing, I suppose." His focus fell to the bottom of the letter. "I will be home later on this week and will stop by to see you when I get in. Don't make other plans without me. Maya."
Phoenix set the letter aside, smiling. It would be good to see her again. There was probably a lot she had to tell him and vice-versa. Still, he wasn't sure what could be so exciting about living on a mountain. It didn't matter, though. He was just happy to have her back. Setting her letter on top of the other mail he had put away, the young attorney took the last letter in the stack, brought it up to his face, and scrutinized it thoroughly.
"There's no return address…and there's no handwriting, either. There's a sticker on here with my address on it." Phoenix's brows furrowed together. "How on earth could they do that? And why?" Who sent me this?
Curiosity rising with every moment, he tore the top off just as fast as he had done with Maya's and pulled the letter out from within. It was a denser letter, as though its contents were heavy with something important…
"What?" Unfolding the letter, the first thing that Phoenix realized was anomalous about the letter was the dried glue that had indented itself through the paper, weighing it down significantly more than just a standard piece of paper. He forced himself to focus and look at the large, printed words on the sheet:
He couldn't move.
For a moment, he couldn't even fathom what had made the words in the first place. It was not from a human hand—they were too large and neat. But the words, "you're next" caught him off guard. His breathing halted, his eyes remained open, and it wasn't long before his body felt numb all over.
His mouth was left agape, sputtering half formed words, but nothing could form any sense on what he saw now. Even his mind was spinning with jumbled thoughts, possibilities, and, above all else, questions.
Who sent it? Why? When? What does it mean? It doesn't make any sense! What could someone mean by "you're next" in such a letter? Was it a threat? It had to be. With no return address and glue all over the paper…
Wait, were those magazine cutouts?
Finally able to think clearly for a moment, Phoenix realized that all the letters on the paper had been cut out of various magazines and pasted on, forming an uneven line of words that said, "you're next."
There's no handwriting, no return address, no signature…W-What is this?
Before long, his hands were trembling, the letter becoming impossible to read with the shaking, and his eyes became blurry from staring at the words for so long. They had begun to burn themselves into his mind, like a branding. Okay, Wright, calm down! There are things you can do, so now's not the time to panic! "But…But this letter! W-Who…Why!?"
He found himself pulling back against the couch, the letter falling from his hands and floating to the carpet. Phoenix stared at the white, folded paper from its position on the ground, panting. "I don't…understand…" he stuttered, and slowly reached up to his face to feel that beads of sweat had formed at his hairline. "Wh-What could that letter mean and why to me?"
He grabbed the torn envelope, stared at the address on it, and realized that there was no mistake. The letter was definitely meant for him. Immediately, the clockwork inside his mind began to turn. Enemies…Did he have any? Of course I do! Everyone I found in a case to be guilty has always sworn death upon me! The culprit could be anybody! Motives? That was a stupid question. No doubt they'd have one.
Phoenix looked back to the letter on the floor, the words haunting him.
"That's it. I'm quitting my profession. But first, my life might be on the line. W-What can I do…?"
Without a second thought to it, his thoughts were interrupted by a voluminous ringing that jerked him up from the couch in surprise. Diverting his gaze from the paper, Phoenix glanced all around the room, then settled down and placed an open hand over his chest. That's…the phone…Where did I put it? Oh, right, my coat pocket.
He jumped up from the couch again, leaving the letter on the floor, and maneuvered around the room, past his desk, and out into the main hall where his coat was laying across the coat rack. Reaching into his right pocket, he withdrew a silver phone and looked at the caller on the ID screen.
"Larry," he breathed. "He could've picked a better time to call." Pressing the accept button, he put the phone to his ear and said, "Hello?"
"Nick! Hey, man, wassup?" He didn't give Phoenix a chance to answer before immediately diving into the reason why he called, "Listen, I got off work early today and I was calling to see if you wanted to go out for some burgers or something at the usual joint downtown."
The young defense attorney frowned, his eyes moving back to the door that led to his office. "I don't know, Larry. Now's not a really good time for me…"
"Not a good time!? What are you talking about!? You told me today that your big trial ends! …You did win, right?"
"Yes, yes, Larry, I won, but that's not the reason I don't want to go out with you. I have…other problems."
"Ah, geez man, you always have problems! Well, don't we all!? Listen, I'm going out for a burger and you're coming with me whether you like it or not, okay? I'll come to your office and drag you kicking and screaming if I have to."
Phoenix chuckled and shook his head, imagining the thought. Larry was a scrawny guy and it was hard to get him to do much of anything. Still…perhaps this was the break he needed. It may be a bad idea to bring it up to him, but maybe he'll have a clue about that letter. Guess there's no harm in going out for a little while…
"All right, Larry. I'll go to lunch with you. I'm going to take the taxi down there, so I'll see you in about twenty minutes."
"Sweet! I'll reserve some seats for us then. Late!"
The sound of the dial tone reverberated in Phoenix's ear for quite some time as he held the phone to his ear and stared at the floor.
"No, it's not like that at all," the young defense attorney corrected as he watched Larry Butz hastily shove his double bacon cheeseburger into his mouth, as though someone were going to come by and steal it from him. "What I'm trying to say is that I don't know who sent me the letter."
Larry looked confused. Phoenix frowned.
"Let me get this straight," Larry began after he swallowed the large chunk of burger in his mouth and his cheeks returned to normal from the bloated way they were before. "You went into your office after the trial this morning, grabbed your mail, looked through it, and opened a letter that said, 'you're next' on it?"
"…Would you just like for me to hand you the letter?"
The younger man laughed, "Well, duh! You should've just done that in the first place!"
Obviously. Phoenix reached into his coat pocket, pulling the envelope out for his friend to see. Holding it up, he pointed out, "Do you see that there's no return address on it?"
"Hey, your address is a sticker, Nick. Why would he go through all of the trouble to make your address into a sticker?"
"I don't know. But…did you hear what I said? I said, 'do you see that there's no return address on—'"
"Yeah, yeah, I heard you the first time."
"Yeah, but…you see it, right?"
"Of course I see it. I was just pointing out that the sticker on the front has your address on it."
Phoenix gave him a look and then nodded. "Yeah, I know that it's a sticker, but my concern is more that there's no return address. So, that rules out that I know this guy, right?"
Larry was picking at his fries now, stirring them around in his paper ketchup cup. "Well, he could've signed it on the inside…"
Larry chewed on his fry, obviously lost in thought.
The attorney blinked. I can't tell if he's listening anymore. He prepared to put the letter back into his coat until Larry snatched it from him.
"Let me see that," he said as he pulled the paper from out of the envelope. Larry tossed back the empty envelope and unfolded the paper. "'You're next.'" Then, nodding, "Any idea of who would send it?"
"Everyone I prove guilty hates me. I have many suspects in mind." Phoenix sighed, his eyes lowering to the orange surface of their table. "My question is…What would you do if you were in my position?"
Snorting, Larry handed the letter back and replied, "Me? I'd pack up, move, change my name, grow a beard, shave it off, grow it back again, and live happily ever after with the woman of my dreams." This was followed by a pearly smile and creased dimples. "As for you, man, that's a toughie. You're not exactly in the best profession, you know. Nobody likes lawyers."
"Any time," Larry grabbed his burger again and held it up to his mouth. "Say, Nick, why don't you go and have a test done on it?"
Phoenix was lost in thought for the moment before realizing Larry had said something. "Hmm? What?"
"Fingerprints, ya know? Or fibers or something…Whatever it is that cops do. Go get a test done on it and maybe you'll come up with something, ya know?"
Phoenix turned away, stirring one of his own fries in the ketchup cup. I hadn't thought of that. "I suppose…but it's going to be pretty hard to narrow it down to just one person."
The remark caused his friend to stop eating. "Do you really have that many enemies, Nick?" Phoenix frowned. "Man, I'm glad I never got involved in that stuff like you and Edgey did. You're right in saying that every guy you got sent to jail is out for your blood. Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if they all banded together and started a hate campaign against you."
Pushing his tray of food away, Phoenix paused, giving an inward lamentation to the matter at hand, but only said, "You know…I'm not really hungry anymore."
Larry stared at the vacant food, the last bit of his own burger in his hand, before reaching out and grabbing the edge of his friend's tray. "Anyway, what about the culprits from this latest case? Think they might've done it?"
Phoenix watched as Larry grabbed the half eaten burger and began to devour it. "That's the most logical explanation, isn't it? I don't see anyone else doing it. Though, I must admit that I'm surprised that no one came to the office to attack me directly."
"Well, look. Go get that thing tested. If anything comes up, let me know, all right? Just because you're in an obviously dangerous profession doesn't mean that I don't worry about you."
"Thanks, Larry. I guess that that's my last remaining option, huh? I'll go by Criminal Affairs to talk to one of the detectives there and see what he can tell me."
"Well, I hope things turn out better for you. Sorry to hear that you're having a bad day."
"My day was fine until I got this." The attorney shook his head and took the letter back from Larry. "I'll give you a call if I find out anything, all right?"
"Yeah, you'd better. I mean it, Nick."
"I will," Phoenix stood up, stuffing the envelope back into his coat pocket. "I'm going to go there before the detective leaves, though. Enjoy the rest of your lunch, Larry, and thanks." He patted his friend on the back and moved towards the door.
"Detective Gumshoe, don't you think you could make it an exception just this one time?" Phoenix was leaning over the older man's desk, a desperate look in his eyes. "I'm serious!" He began to wave the envelope about in Dick's face, "I think this may be a matter of life and death."
Gumshoe stared back at the defense attorney without remorse. "…You sure like to exaggerate, don't you?" Phoenix felt the sudden urge to crash to the floor. "Besides, thanks to you, I almost lost my job eight months ago."
"Do we have to keep bringing that up? You got your job back in the end, didn't you? Not to mention, you did help us crack a very impor—no, scratch that—two very important cases!" Phoenix was panting and his sweaty palms were beginning leave a moist fog on the detective's polished desk. "All I want you to do is test this envelope and the letter inside for fingerprints. It won't take anymore than a few minutes."
Gumshoe looked askance at the younger man, but slowly lifted his hand to take the letter from him. "The things I do for you, pal. Don't you owe me quite a bit of money by now?"
"What? To help pay off what they've penalized you for?" Phoenix had meant it as a joke, but the look on the detective's face made him snap his mouth shut. Guess it's not a wise idea to look a gift horse in the mouth. At least…not this one… "S-Sorry…"
Detective Gumshoe stood up, lightly hitting the envelope against the flat of his other hand, and turned away. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Don't go anywhere, pal." It was a surprise to Phoenix when he immediately added, "You know, this is an oddball you've got stalking you, here. Magazine cutouts for letters? Now there's a new one. I thought they only did that in the movies."
…You're always basing your statistics off of the cop movies you've seen. "Yeah, me too. Guess times are changing." The attorney gave a wry smile and rubbed the back of his neck. "Just let me know what you find, all right?"
"Don't need to ask me twice, pal."
Phoenix watched as his friend disappeared through the back door. He sighed, exasperated, and fell to his knees in the middle of the aisle, his arms and head lying across the surface of the good detective's desk. "Aw man, at least that's over. I thought for sure that there would be no way of getting to him."
The young man glanced up, his eyes half closed, and grunted as he stared at the black, vacant recliner belonging to Gumshoe. It had been a while since he had seen the man personally, but realized that he had worked on some of the bigger cases Phoenix had recently. In fact, if it hadn't been for his voluntary cooperation in the Apartment Complex Murders, Joe Spencer would've already been found guilty and be spending the rest of his days rotting in jail.
Even though Edgeworth wasn't the prosecutor for any of the cases, that didn't stop Gumshoe from working with the younger lawyer, giving him vital information, letting him slide by into crime scenes, and talk to "secret" witnesses, all by carelessness, really, but Phoenix had always wondered if the detective was really that dense.
For some reason, I don't know if I want to know the answer to that question. The young man chuckled at the thought, realizing that, though both of them had never intended for it, they had grown closer as friends—not that Edgeworth's friendship wasn't important to Gumshoe as well. Phoenix always wondered how he could play between the two of them, giving crucial information that could make or break a case to both sides.
Then again, maybe he really doesn't know what he's doing. Oh well, best not to tell him. Right now, he's the only chance I've got. Still…I can't help but think that he's gotten a little bit smarter since the last time I saw him in person. Maybe he's finally realized that he can't play sides for both the defense and prosecution.
However, one look at Dick Gumshoe's dulled name plate made Phoenix think again. Never mind, I'll just accept the fact that he really is that dense. Then he scolded himself. He's helping me out when he doesn't actually have to. I suppose it wouldn't kill me to be a little nicer to him.
Standing up, Phoenix dusted off his blue pants and coat and turned around. The precincts hadn't really changed much since Gant's resignation from the force. Though he was facing quite a sentence in prison for his unthinkable crimes, that didn't stop him from trying to reach back into the force, where Phoenix supposed his true happiness was. And for him to throw it all away. I wonder how he feels now…
A new Chief of Police had been taken up on the seat of power and went by the name of Gerald Simon—formerly a chief from another city, but was transferred here upon request by the district. Phoenix had never met him and knew nothing else about him except his name and relocation, but he had a sinking feeling that it wouldn't be much longer until he and the man made acquaintances with each other. The day I meet him, it'll be too soon. I just hope he isn't anything like Gant. Talk about a scary guy…
Everything was silent as he waited for Gumshoe to come back. All of the other detectives, including the Chief Detective, were working away at their computers. Working on what, though, Phoenix wasn't sure. The commotion since the Apartment Complex Murders, which had been the biggest case in the last six months, had died down immensely, like an imperceptible fog had crept along the crime division and taken the souls from the detectives. Cold and calculating robots. Almost sounds like Edgeworth, actually. Speaking of him, I wonder if Detective Gumshoe has heard from him recently…The two were close…or so he said. Maybe I'll ask.
Inattentively, he had begun to whistle, but snapped his mouth shut after the Chief Detective looked up and gave him a disapproving stare. Phoenix laughed, embarrassed, and turned away from him. Instead, he started to drum his fingers against the edge of Gumshoe's desk, prompting a loud clearing of the throat from one of the other detectives. Stopping his fingers in midair, the defense attorney gave another quarter turn, and leaned against the desk.
Desperately trying to find something to pass the time with, Phoenix raked his hand through his spiky hair, the gel coming off onto his fingertips. Rubbing his fingers on his pants, he glanced up at the large clock on the wall to see the time. It's almost four o' clock. It took a while to get here from the burger joint by taxi, but I suppose that it's all due to the traffic. Either something big is happening here or Halloween has become a more celebrated holiday.
He was looking forward to going home and…maybe enjoying his night off. I need to forget about this letter for a while. I haven't had a break in a while, so I deserve this. He swallowed the last of his fear and his ears perked up as someone approached him from behind.
"Sorry buddy. Your secret admirer is really something." Gumshoe held the letter out for Phoenix to take. "I wish I could be of more help."
Phoenix was desperate. "No fabric pieces? Lint? Anything?"
The attorney felt his hopes crash to the floor. He knew that he needed this break, for mental health's sake, and now he was back to square one. Phoenix took the letter back.
"Thanks for trying, anyway. Do you have any advice about where I should go from here?"
Dick sat down at his desk and leaned back in his leather recliner, becoming relaxed as he allowed his arms to drop off the sides of the rests.
"Well, if I were you, pal, I'd start searching for suspects. Got any enemies?"
Phoenix gave him a hard stare. "I'm an attorney, Detective. I've gotten a fair amount of people arrested as of late. What do you think?"
"I think you need to find another job," the older man chuckled. "But, seriously, do you know of anyone who'd go so far to do this?"
"Well…" the lawyer scratched his chin, staring up at the ceiling. "What about Gant? Or maybe von Karma? I know that when I tore them down from their pedestal, I wasn't exactly number one on their friends list."
"True, but they're in police custody and any letters that they send out or are coming to them are read by police. I honestly don't think it could be them."
"Well, what if they're having outsiders write letters for them?"
Gumshoe was silent for a moment. "Then I'd say you have a problem."
Phoenix slumped over. "Thanks for your help, Detective Gumshoe."
"Hey, I'm just trying to give the facts! All I'm saying is that you could be right about that last part, but is there anyone else that would do this?"
The younger man mused about it a little bit longer. Let's see…Anyone from my earlier cases? That…Sawdust guy? …Nah. Mr. Whitney…er, White? …Possibly, but probably not. Hmm…Vasquez? Though she does have ties with the mafia, I don't think she'd write this…
"I'm thinking, I'm thinking." If it's not von Karma or Gant, who could it be? "I…think I'm at a loss here. Unless…there's more to the Apartment Complex Murders than what I thought…"
"What? You saying that maybe that Maxwell Ward guy wrote it to you? He's in police custody, too. When would he have had the time to write it?"
"True…I didn't exactly get them convicted until today. Guess that rules him out."
"Well, listen, pal," Gumshoe gave a dramatic pause before continuing, "Give it a few days and see what happens. That letter may somehow be related to this latest case, like you said. If that's so, the culprits are in custody and there's nothing more to worry about."
"…I guess that's true…" Phoenix shoved the letter back into his pocket, sighing. "I'll let you know if anything else happens."
"All right, have a nice night, pal." Gumshoe looked as though he was going to stand up again, but the younger man halted him.
"Wait, I still have some questions."
The detective relaxed again, crossing his arms over his chest. "Okay, shoot."
Phoenix wasn't sure of how to go about asking such a question without feeling stupid, but his curiosity was getting the best of him, eating at him with such a discomfort, it left him feeling apprehensive. He had to know the answer.
"What…" He swallowed, taking a deep breath, and tried again, "What ever happened…to Edgeworth?"
Detective Gumshoe's eyes widened momentarily, and Phoenix knew that the question had caught him off guard. Did I…upset him?
The two were silent for a moment and the detective broke eye contact with the defense attorney and looked towards the floor. The younger man's jaw hung open, unsure of how to remedy the situation now that he had damaged the conversation. However, much to his dismay, no words would come.
"I…thought you knew."
"No," the lawyer shook his head. "That's why I'm asking you."
Gumshoe inhaled, bringing his eyes back to Phoenix's. "There was a letter found on his desk after that case with the Chief and the prosecutor." The attorney leaned in closer. "It said, 'I choose death.'"
The words took time to sink in and comprehend completely. Phoenix blinked in a rapid motion lasting for at least ten seconds. His jaw reopened and hit the ground as his eyes bugged, pupils shrinking, and a large crease formed at his forehead, where his furrowed brows were twitching against each other. The lines under his eyes and around his mouth deepened, and his lips quivered as he struggled to find words to say.
His thoughts were spinning in a violent torrent of unexplainable thoughts that he could not sort in time to understand what Detective Gumshoe had said. "It can't be" was the only congruous phrase that appeared in his mind, and even that had no backdrop meaning. Alone, it was irrelevant, but the words, "I choose death," quickly became the needed backdrop.
"What!?" It came out as a sharp cry, causing everyone in the commodious room to glance up from their work and stare at the outraged attorney, who had abruptly slapped his hands against Gumshoe's desk, leaving red welts on his palms. "What do you mean he chooses death!? Are you saying—"
Gumshoe grunted and shifted in his recliner, the situation becoming tense and Phoenix could see the uneasiness in his eyes and the fright from his twitching mouth. There is a reason they say to 'not kill the messenger,' isn't there?
Phoenix instantly forced himself to regain his composure, breaking his attention from the detective. Again, he was at a loss for words, and his mouth opened and closed in a frantic plight to find out the truth about his friend. No…Edgeworth wouldn't have…He's not the type…Suicide? "I…I'm sorry…I didn't mean to flare up like that…" he apologized wholeheartedly, his hands quaking as they gripped the edge of the desk.
"No, no, pal, I completely understand. Mr. Edgeworth…he…he's no longer with us, I'm afraid…" Phoenix was surprised at how easy it was for Gumshoe to tell him this, considering how much he had idolized the young prosecutor. Why am I the only one who's taking this hard? Despite the rumors about him and the fact that not everyone liked him, I would've thought at least a couple of people would mourn for him. And another thing…
"Why haven't I heard about this?" the lawyer asked, realizing that his breathing was becoming steady again. The other detectives ignored the two and went back to their work. "I mean, it wasn't in the paper or anything…"
"Oh, it was in the paper, all right. About eight months ago, too. You see, after that case, he stopped taking cases and coming to court. Then, all too suddenly, he just disappeared completely, leaving that letter on the desk."
"Who found it?"
Gumshoe shrugged. "I think it was that bellboy from Gatewater Hotel. You see, Mr. Edgeworth often requested tea from there and they would deliver it to him—"
"Are you sure that the letter just said, 'I choose death?'"
"Well…" The detective stood up, finally losing the atmosphere of fright from within him. "They told me about the memo. I was in so much shock that I drove over there to see it for myself. Then, when they weren't looking, I took it."
Phoenix stood upright, perplexed that he would do such a thing. Then again, it is Gumshoe we're talking about, here. "You…tampered with the evidence?"
"Stealing isn't exactly tampering, pal." The attorney frowned. He looked so sure of it, but that letter could've meant something more!
"You took it from a police investigation. No matter how you look at it, it's still tampering."
Gumshoe's eyes narrowed and his bottom lip stuck out. "Yeah, well…I was distraught at the time, okay? Finding out what had happened to Mr. Edgeworth and all…Don't tell no one, but I bawled like a baby after that, holding the letter and reading what he had written—"
"Do you still have the letter?"
Phoenix looked hopeful, despite his inward thoughts telling him that it was best to stay nonchalant. The shock of Edgeworth's death had not quite settled, yet. The detective said nothing as he leaned forward, looked around twice (Phoenix figured that it was to make sure no one was paying attention), and opened his bottom drawer. The younger man could see a letter was lying on top of a mound of books that came out with the squeaking drawer.
Gumshoe grabbed the letter and, with his other hand, motioned for Phoenix to lean in closer. The lawyer did so and the detective handed him the naked letter. "Here," he whispered. "Don't let anyone see you, pal. This isn't exactly cleared as 'irrelevant,' yet."
Phoenix silently agreed, took the letter, and opened it. It says, "Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth chooses death." I can't believe he'd do such a thing. I wish he had come to talk to me about it. Maybe I could've…What? Wait a minute…
"I thought you said, specifically, that he had written, 'I choose death' on it."
"Yeah, isn't that what it says?"
"Noooo," Phoenix showed Gumshoe the note. "Isn't this suicide note a little wordy?"
The detective paused and then shrugged. "Same difference, ain't it, pal? Normally, in suicide notes, there's actually a reason why the person is doing what they're doing. This is pretty short for one of those."
Phoenix let his words sink in before sighing. Maybe he's right. Maybe I'm just in denial. But then…why did he write 'Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth' in the note? Was his choice really because of his career? He closed his eyes. Ah, who am I kidding? "I suppose you're right. Still, I just can't believe he'd do such a thing—and to not even talk to us, no less!" The lawyer handed the note back and thrust his hands into his pockets. "I guess…that's the part I just can't get over."
"Hey, pal, think of how I feel. I mean, I thought we were close and all of that."
"You said that there was an article. Do you have that, too?"
"Eh…" Gumshoe scratched the back of his head. "No. I mean, I didn't want to keep something like that—a reminder that I couldn't even help Mr. Edgeworth when he needed his friends most. That trust bond…It makes me think twice now."
"Don't do that," Phoenix shook his head. "Trusting people is always important. It's something I have to have when I'm trying to help my clients. Never give that up." Edgeworth, you fool…
"I suppose," Gumshoe didn't seem convinced. "Anyway, they said they never found the body, but they gave up looking six months ago. Guess they figured that if he left behind a letter, there was no use pursuing any evidence against that claim."
"How do they know he wrote the letter?" Phoenix argued.
"It was his paper, his pen, and…" the detective paused long enough to put the letter back in his drawer and close it, the squeaky wheels on it whining loudly, "…I'd know his neat and perfect handwriting anywhere."
The defense attorney chewed on his bottom lip, trying to find anything that didn't seem to fit with Gumshoe's testimony. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful. I can't believe Edgeworth would resort to that. After everything he stood for and believed in! I'm disappointed… "I see…So, suicide note, no body, and no motive…"
"Well, Mr. Edgeworth would have to have a motive to do something terrible like that, but I guess we'll never know what it was, pal. The only thing I figure I can do now is pray for his soul to finally be at peace."
When Gumshoe put it that way, things seemed to be much worse—either that or Phoenix was more depressed than what he thought. The trauma hadn't faded. I became a lawyer to save him…Looks like I did a bad job at it. I just thought…maybe…but nothing came out of it. It was a waste of time. Edgeworth… Violent thoughts formed after that and Phoenix was afraid to speak them, even if they were only in his mind.
"I…I have to go now," the lawyer told the detective, realizing how sick he had become. "I'm not feeling well."
"Go home and get some rest, pal," Gumshoe gave a weak smile. "You need it what with that case, letter, and finding out what happened to Mr. Edgeworth. Sounds like you've had a rough day."
"…That's an understatement," Phoenix mumbled. Looking back to Detective Gumshoe a moment longer, he realized that, though the older man seemed better at hiding it, he was probably more troubled than the attorney was. After all, he did idolize Edgeworth. Clearing his throat, he held out a hand and waited for Gumshoe to take it. "Thank you, Detective Gumshoe, for all that you've done. I'm sorry to hear what has happened."
They shook once. "So am I, pal, so am I."
He couldn't remember what time it was when he got home. He couldn't remember what time it was when he had thrown off his shoes and coat, and he couldn't remember what time it was when he had gone to bed. All he knew, now, was that he was in a place that he didn't like, the cold, musty atmosphere permeating through him like ice water. It sent shivers down his spine.
He struggled to try and remember who he was, and it took some effort to remember that he was rookie attorney, Phoenix Wright—well…rookie was what most people called him. Still…that's not who he was here at this point in time. Well, rookie attorney, that was. He had just learned how to spell his name in neat cursive and print. He liked cursive better at the time, only because of all the wavy lines that he had to draw before he was presented with the name 'Phoenix' on his paper.
The teacher told him often that he had made too many lines and that the 'o' looked like an 'a' when he wrote it, but it was the way he liked it.
"They'll start calling you 'Phaenix,'" she had said. He thought it was funny when she'd say it that way.
The woman who loomed over him, guiding his hand across the paper with the pen, had no face. He wasn't sure if it was because she was a scary person or the fact that he simply couldn't remember her. Or, perhaps it was because his attention was no longer on her, but the dark haired boy who had rushed into the class room, gripping his backpack with both hands.
His hair stood up wildly on his head, and there was a long cowlick that fell across his right eye, unkempt, but he swept it back so that Phoenix could see his flustered face. His eyes were wide and filled with worry while his brows had arched upwards, and he was panting. Phoenix figured he had to have been running pretty fast.
Then his mouth began to move, but Phoenix couldn't understand him.
"Slow down," he heard the teacher say and the boy started again.
Still, he couldn't hear what the boy was saying, as though the words were a foreign language to him. While trying to figure out what it was this boy was shouting about, Phoenix realized that he was being pulled up from out of his chair and taken by the hand towards the panicked boy.
Finally, the newcomer had ceased talking and had, instead, held out a hand towards Phoenix, who was hesitant to take it. Against his struggle, the teacher forced his small hand into the boy's, who instantly darted from the room, yanking Phoenix along with him. Phoenix screamed to "slow down!"
But the boy did not listen. Faster and faster they ran, the classroom disappearing the further they fled from it, until it became nothing more than a speck on the horizon, guarded by darkness, and he and the boy were rushing deeper into it. Phoenix looked around, seeing nothing, and began to whimper as he realized that the entire existence of the world he was running in had become desolate and the only two life forms left were he and this mysterious boy.
"Stop that," he heard the boy command—the first words that Phoenix could finally understand from him. He did as he was told, but it did not lessen his concern and quivering lips. To ease his fears, he clutched the boy's hand tighter.
Again they ran into the darkness, silence consuming the atmosphere in an almost deathlike feeling that made Phoenix shiver once more and he immediately wished he had stayed in the classroom where all the other people were. The thought of this boy possibly abandoning him made tears brim at his eyes, and he wondered why he wanted to cry, and why his hand was so small, and why he had been in a classroom in the first place.
It was true. He was small now—smaller than he had ever remembered being. Then again, it had been so long and his childhood was a distant blur, as though his memory had been cleared away. Now that he was lost and unsure of what was happening, the last thing he wanted was for this boy to leave him.
And finally they stopped, but nothing was in sight. It was still the everlasting darkness that made Phoenix withdraw into himself even further, and he felt himself clinging to this boy for protection. Much to his surprise, the boy returned the embrace, encircling his arms around him for warmth. Phoenix was soothed for a moment longer, his eyes closing to further intake this small trinket of happiness, until the sound of a loud bang! erupted in his eardrums.
He abruptly jerked back, looking up, but the boy still kept an arm around him. Phoenix was surprised to see something that he had not noticed before standing above them. It was a large podium that stretched for miles and miles, it seemed, up into the sky. A shadow was at the very top, holding a big hammer and repeatedly slamming it down against the surface of his podium.
The shadow was laughing—such an evil laugh that caused Phoenix to recoil into the arms of the boy…who was no longer there. Alarmed, he turned to where the boy had stood and realized that he had disappeared. There wasn't even the slightest glimpse of him running off into another direction. It was as though the boy had vanished into the darkness.
Phoenix's breathing grew heavy until thick gasping escaped from his mouth in an imbalanced rhythm and he spun in circles, searching for his only companion, before looking up at the growing shadow standing at the top of the podium. The maniacal laughter increased, growing more voluminous than before and Phoenix held his hands to his ears, crouched down to the ground, and wept.
His crying was interrupted by a sudden break in the ground and he jolted his attention to his feet, where a large crack grew beneath him. Screaming in fright, he jumped back to his feet and began to run back towards the direction of the classroom. His panting was so heavy and burdensome now, that he felt his body beginning to shut down and his speed decreasing as his legs begged for him to stop.
The fracture behind him began to form large fissures all around him, the ground ripping apart in many directions. The podium had long since disappeared, and Phoenix wondered if the darkness had swallowed the boy, too. Still, the thought of being swallowed terrified him even more, and he forced himself to run again, no matter how tired he was. He lifted his legs higher and higher, sprinting as fast as he could, looking for his sanction of the classroom.
He figured that he had outrun the breaking of the ground when he no longer heard the dangers of it ripping apart, and Phoenix slowed his pace where he doubled over to catch his breath. He squatted there for quite some time, drawing in deep breaths until the burning in his chest faded. His sweaty palms were shaking, and he could feel his knees knocking together, itching with such furious heat that he couldn't help but scratch at them, only resulting in more stinging pain.
Trying to divert his attention from the pain in his body, Phoenix glanced up, seeking out the classroom that he had come from, but realized that only darkness surrounded him. He feared that he had taken a wrong turn or that the classroom had been ingested by the darkness like everything else, and he wanted to cry again.
His hands gripped at his heart, feeling it beat against his chest so loudly that it rang in his ears—almost as loud as that shadow's hammer had. Closing his eyes fiercely, he prayed for someone to find him and his heart almost stopped when he caught the faint sounds of something breaking in the distance.
Realizing that the dangers had returned, Phoenix forced himself to his feet and began to run again, despite the aching and burning in his body. The heavy panting returned before long and beads of sweat dripped down the sides of his head, down along his cheeks. Faster and faster he commanded himself to run, but his body was too tired to heed them. He tripped over his legs once, but successfully regained his balance before falling down.
The cracking grew louder and louder around him and he wondered if he was slowing down or if the breaking was coming after him faster. He panicked, swerving off to the left and trying to run in a different direction. His heart skipped a beat when he saw a man standing there with dark hair and thick rimmed glasses. His mouth was opening, forming one word that was too hard to make out from the distance that Phoenix was at, and his arms were wide open.
Sprinting as fast as he could, he held his own arms out, trying to catch the man before he faded or before he was gobbled up by the darkness that had taken everything else from him. Then, he tripped again, but it wasn't over his own feet. The cracking had come from underneath him, trying to take him down into the darkness below, and Phoenix screamed.
He jumped in the air, trying to avoid the large, gaping hole that formed underneath him, and continued to rush towards the man. Phoenix looked closer as he ran, trying to see who it was, the familiar smile somehow melting the fear away from his heart. He knew that if he got just a little closer, he could see who the man was who was rescuing him from this darkness.
Phoenix tried his hardest to ignore the cracking and the ground ripping apart beneath him. Several times he jumped to avoid beginning rifts and continued forward. Nothing would stop him now. Nothing would get in his way. Then, his hopes were dashed as the ground beneath the man crumbled, broke away instantly, and took the man into the everlasting darkness.
"NO!" Skidding to a stop that sent him to his stomach, Phoenix met the ground all too abruptly, sliding over to the side of the cliff that had claimed the man's life just seconds before. He stared in wild disbelief into the crevasse, his mouth hanging open and his eyes widening in such horror, even tears could not form.
Everything was silent for a moment longer, and Phoenix thought it strange that he couldn't even hear the scream of the man who had tumbled below. His arms were shaking violently and all the color had been lost from his knuckles, which gripped the cliff's edge so tightly now. Then, losing control, he collapsed entirely to the ground, his arms covering his head, and wept with such force, it threw his body into furious fits that formed an incessant throbbing throughout his body, setting it aflame, he thought, and weakening it.
Losing everything to this place of darkness, Phoenix wondered if he would ever fated to escape. Suddenly, with one final quake of the ground, he felt his foundation break way and his body become light as he fell into the darkness that he had, seconds before, seen the man tumble into. His reverberating shrills were answered by no one as he fell to his death.
"AHHHH!" The crash to the floor was not merciful, and the pain only intensified when the bed mattress flipped over on top of Phoenix Wright, who lay in a shivering ball by the side of his bed.
There were no other sounds except for the sound his heavy breathing made as he lay there, under the mattress, in the darkness that surrounded him. He sought for light of any kind, growing weary of the color black that overwhelmed his eyes. Crawling out from underneath his mattress, taking his tangled sheets along with him, Phoenix pulled himself out, rolled over, and lay sprawled, staring upwards at the dark ceiling.
Realizing that he had broken out into a cold sweat, he used one hand to wipe away the moisture, his dry lips and throat cupping the panting emitting from within his lungs. His hand moved down from his face to the base of his neck and along his bare chest, realizing that sweat had claimed the rest of his body, too.
"What a strange dream," he murmured after a moment and then coughed afterwards. Water…I need water. Despite the protest from his aching muscles, Phoenix forced himself into a sitting position, hunched over, his eyes closed. He felt the banging in his chest slowly die down as he sat there, arms propping himself up.
Suddenly, the coldness from the fan above him whirled comforting air towards his body, sending a shiver up from his toes to his back. I'm okay now, he assured himself. Really I am. I think the entire day just got to me. I just…need a vacation, probably. I've been working too hard.
He sat there for quite some time, relishing in the cold air put off by his fan, before looking over at his tipped mattress and scattered sheets across the floor. Realizing that he had fallen, he rubbed his sore left side, gritting his teeth from the sudden pain. He didn't really want to go back to bed yet, though his drooping eyelids deceived his thoughts.
Before he made any further decisions, he staggered to his feet, using his small desk next to his bed for support, and turned in the direction of the door. His legs felt like jelly, similar to what they had been in the dream, but he forced himself to continue forward and suppress the thought of crumbling grounds and everlasting darkness as he walked to the kitchen adjoined with his living room.
Opening a small cupboard, he grabbed a glass, filled it with ice from the freezer, and turned on the faucet, placing the cup underneath. Listening to the sound of running water soothed him, surprisingly, and he figured that the sounds coming from reality was what was calming him now. He turned off the faucet, brought the cup to his lips, and downed the glass in a few gulps. Phoenix wiped his mouth and repeated the process to refill his glass.
Fresh air…Now I need fresh air.
Taking his full glass of water back to the bedroom, Phoenix realized that it would've been a bad idea to stand on the lanai in just his boxers. He looked around for his robe, found it lying across the back of a chair, and threw it over him, securing it at the waist with the ties. He grabbed his glass from where he had set it and walked to the balcony, unlocking the door, and stepped outside.
He could hear the faint sounds of cars driving by along the freeway and thanked himself for choosing a quiet neighborhood to live in. The fact that it was an apartment he lived in made him shiver slightly, and discomfort settled in, but he assured himself that the Apartment Complex Case was over and done with. Still, he couldn't blame himself for being paranoid for the moment what with the dream and all.
Phoenix took a moment to breathe in, smelling wood smoke from some odd miles away, mixed with the scents of the donut shop nearby (the employees were always there at spontaneous hours of the night), and the trees down below his third story complex. It was always like this in the fall for as long as he could remember. The only thing that was different was where he lived. However, scents linked to old memories never changed. He changed his thoughts to a different topic.
"That dream was far too weird to be something random. Then again…I did have a random day." Though he tried to convince himself of an easier resolution to the problem revolving around the dream, he just couldn't shake the thoughts of the teacher, the boy, that hammer, and the man that had tumbled to his death.
Perhaps it was a prior case? "But…the boy in the classroom was me. How could that be a previous case?" Unless I assumed the identity of one of my old clients?
But who? And the feelings from within the dream seemed so real. Phoenix could've sworn that the crying was not from within the dream, but, perhaps, caused from another memory—a suppressed memory—from long ago.
That thought prompted a muffled laugh. "Ch, yeah, right. And what would that memory be? I don't recall having a terrible childhood. Grandma was always there to take care of me." Then again, this memory thing seems familiar. But from where? It took him a moment to think, but the flashback caught him off guard. That's right, Edgeworth used to tell me about the nightmares he had. Since he's dead, now, could this dream…somehow…maybe be related to him?
"And in what way? That would be stupid. The boy guiding me through the darkness was not Edgeworth, or Larry."
But since he had ruled out both those ideas, what could it be?
He shivered again, like in the dream, when the cold wind hit him from behind.
Well? Sucked, huh?