Phoenix slid down the wall of the court lobby, his posture causing his shirt to ride up his back. He didn't care. Maya was safe. He had finally turned deKiller's attention to the fact that Matt was using him and planning on blackmailing him. Engarde had broken down and confessed in court. There wasn't anything left to do but wait for the police to return with Maya. He tipped his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.

Edgeworth was leaning against the doorframe, his arms crossed as he surveyed his long time friend and rival. Phoenix looked tired. More tired than Edgeworth had ever seen him. It was a rare thing to not see Phoenix Wright tired, but to the stiff prosecutor, the man slouching against the wall opposite looked positively bone weary. He had given his all in the courtroom to keep Maya safe, and it showed. Edgeworth nodded in silent approval.

"At least she's safe now," Edgeworth said, surprising them both. Phoenix cracked an eyelid and looked at him. The prosecutor was taken aback, like he had intruded on a private moment. Then Phoenix gave a relieved chuckle.

"Yes, I suppose so. That's what it's all about, isn't it, Edgeworth?"

"Mmm. I guess so." He looked at his watch. They should be returning with Maya soon, he thought. I probably should let him brood for once. But Edgeworth didn't move. He wanted to see the case out to its conclusion. And so he remained, leaning against the doorframe of the lobby, as the young girl, tired and hungry but finally free, was escorted in.

And so it was Miles Edgeworth and Pearl Fey who witnessed the reunion between Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey. Phoenix struggled to rise to his feet, but Maya barreled into him and he sat back down, hard, tears welling in his eyes from pain and thankfulness. Pearl was just happy to see her cousin again, but Edgeworth, with his trained eye, saw Phoenix's eyes light up as she walked in, saw his arms enfold her in a protective embrace, and saw his frame sag from gladness. Again, Edgeworth could feel his head bobbing in approval. He could see.

Franziska burst into the lobby, ignoring the tearful reunion and marching straight up to Phoenix. Edgeworth, still an observer at this point, saw her eyes narrow at the sight of Phoenix holding Maya tightly. He sucked in his breath, waiting for the explosion, and he was not disappointed. Still, he had to wonder later what had caused the outburst.

"Mr. Phoenix Wright! What foolishness is this that you can allow yourself to celebrate and revel in defeat? Your perfect win record has been crushed! And yet…you are still happy?!"

Edgeworth stepped in. He knew his sister, and letting her rant would make things worse. His tenor voice cut smoothly through the small German girl's tirade, effectively silencing her.

"That's enough, Franziska. Wright has his reasons, as do I, for celebrating this 'loss'. For my own personal victories...and for guilty verdicts... I used every dirty trick in the book. And so my win record remained spotless. But... A man appeared and stood fast against that selfish me. I fought him in my usual manner, and tasted my first defeat. I felt like I had lost everything because of that. And then... It was my turn to sit in the defendant's chair. And I was that person I called my 'enemy'. I couldn't forgive myself for all that had happened. So I left the Prosecutor's Office. And I left that note. 'Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth chooses death'..." he took a deep breath, preparing to go on, but Franziska cut him off again.

"Hmph, as well you should have. A prosecutor who has shamed himself with defeat should crawl into a hole and die!"

Edgeworth raised a hand for silence. The whip-wielding prosecutor obeyed, surprisingly enough. "But that was not what happened. After I left the Prosecutor's Office, I finally came to realize something. And it was in that moment of clarity that everything began to change."

"Wh-what foolish nonsense…" Franziska spat. Her voice trembled.

Miles continued, undaunted. "We prosecutors use anything we can to attack the defendant. But every time we did so... No matter how desperate the situation, instead of giving up like most people, that man would hold strong with his undying faith. And then, before I knew it... I began to trust in that man as well."

"Wh-what?! You trusted your enemy!?" Franziska went from nervous to horrified.

"It doesn't matter how many underhanded tricks a person uses, the truth will always find a way to make itself known. The only thing we can do is to fight with the knowledge we hold and everything we have. Erasing the paradoxes one by one -- it's never easy -- we claw and scratch for every inch. But we will always eventually reach that one single truth. This I promise you." The stern prosecutor looked at his adopted sister, trying to impress this on her mind as firmly as her father had pressed his lessons so early on in her life.

Little Pearl finally spoke. Her small voice seemed to make Franziska stiffen even more as she took all of it in. "The 'truth'…?"

"Yes. That's the reason why prosecutors and defense lawyers exist. But I'm sure you knew that already, didn't you, Wright?" He finally turned to Phoenix, acknowledging him. Phoenix was silent for a moment, regarding Edgeworth with a cool, level stare. Miles felt something inside him shake at that stare. That stare was a look from a much older man, perhaps the man that this young lawyer would become one day. He forced the thought from his mind and continued speaking. "That's why you couldn't forgive me; this man who went into hiding. Isn't that right? This man who only had his sights set on "victory", who ran away into the night."

Phoenix held Edgeworth's eyes for just a moment longer, and then he nodded slowly. "When you disappeared, I felt betrayed. The reason I decided to become a lawyer to begin with was because I believed in the things you said to me, all those years ago. And you -- you betrayed your own words. That's why, one year ago, I made up my mind. I decided that the Miles Edgeworth I knew had died. At least, that's what I told myself."

Edgeworth nodded slowly. Fair enough.

Franziska, however, wasn't satisfied with that answer. "You pathetic fool! I don't want to hear the wretched whimpering of a disgraced loser! A von Karma is someone who is destined to be perfect! Miles Edgeworth…you are no longer worthy! You are no longer worthy of being a von Karma! And neither am I! It's over. It's all over!" Snatching the whip from her waist, she heaved it as hard as she could at Phoenix, storming out of the defendant's lobby. Phoenix's reaction time had improved from all the punishment she'd dealt out in court, and his hand snapped up and caught the whip before it could hit either him or Maya.

Edgeworth raised an eyebrow at him, and the defense lawyer just shrugged. Without a word, he handed the whip to his rival, who tucked it in his pocket. Gumshoe burst in on the scene, and was offering to buy everyone dinner left and right. The celebration lasted well into the night, although a certain prosecutor caught a cab to the airport much earlier than that.

The festivities had finally died down a little bit. Larry had gone home with his new flavor of the month, and Gumshoe was sprawled across the couch of the Wright and Co. law offices. His snores cut through the low hum of the Steel Samurai marathon that played on TV, and his chest rose and fell with the sound of his breathing. His hand rested on the back of a little girl, who had fallen asleep on his chest after such a stressful court case. She, too, was sleeping deeply, her face smudged with dried tears.

Phoenix knew how they felt. He was tired all the way to his bones. Still the warmth of the girl – no, the young woman – who dozed at his side was the most comforting weight he had ever felt, even if she had fallen asleep with her elbow digging into his ribs. He shifted a little, trying to get comfortable without waking her, and she stirred, crying out softly in her sleep.

He froze, and she turned her face towards his chest, curling closer and removing the offending elbow. He raised an arm to accommodate her, and she snuggled closer to his side, continuing with her dreams. His lips brushed across the part in her hair near her forehead, and he allowed himself to relax against the couch where Gumshoe snored peacefully. Turning his attention to the TV, he settled in to watch the end of the Steel Samurai marathon as the sun began to rise over the city.

If this was what a loss felt like, he could live with it.

Franziska von Karma sat in the business class seat, toying with the small card she had found in the pocket of Gumshoe's coat. The small doodle was a source of frustration for her. She flipped the card through her fingers, making it spin and dance on her knuckles.

Damn Phoenix Wright. Damn Miles Edgeworth. She mulled over what they had to say, as much as she hated it. Everything that was nurtured in her by her father cried out, and she systematically ripped those pieces out when she saw the logic in what the two lawyers were trying to say. The card flashed faster and faster until she finally banged it down on the tray table with extreme violence, startling a passing stewardess.

"Very well, Mr. Phoenix Wright…" she muttered, finally admitting defeat, "I will face you again someday, and I will win, on your terms." She bowed her head as the last piece of her that cried out for a perfect record was sheared away.

She placed her hands on either side of her – the occupants of said seats had vacated them out of fear for her whip – and her gloved hands brushed against two objects. One was a familiar leather grip, worn into a comfortable position by hours of practice. The other was a packet of papers she had found in Gumshoe's jacket, tied together in a clumsy bundle. They were envelopes, bound together with a piece of baling twine.

She undid the knot and sifted through them. All bore the same neat but uninteresting scrawl that marked most of her briefs as of late. She knew who wrote them, and she knew by the single word jotted on every envelope in the stack who they were written for. She could feel a small hitch in her throat as she picked up the first envelope in the stack and slit it open. She read through a year's worth of letters, and as the plane soared into the airspace above her native Germany, she bowed her head again and admitted defeat for the second time that day.

As a single tear rolled down the prodigy's cheek, she admitted defeat not to a lawyer, but to a spirit medium, for obtaining what she could not.

The End

Author's Note: Apologies for any mistakes. I'm kind of unhappy with this ending, but it's nice enough since I'm dead dog tired, my teeth are aching in the right side of my face, and I'm popping aspirin like candy. I can't sleep, so I drummed out the last chapter here. My beta is also currently napping, and I don't want to disturb gefrierpunkt to beta this, so here you go. (Note: I fudged with JFA's ending just a little bit, but it works well for the story. I am aware of that, at least.) Also, a note to Pearl: STOP STEALING THE SCENE! YOU HAVE YOUR OWN FIC, KTHX.

See you next time,