Mere hours since Edgeworth's verdict -- it was emotion-blurred memory already, another nightmare to be forgotten. Wright's surprised grin had been well worth the bail trouble at such a late hour. The pub's cozy shadows were a far cry from detention center starkness; the air clung warm, and Edgeworth's jacket found a home on a charmingly worn sofa arm. He even chose not to mind that his Manhattan was the worst known to civilization.
Maya Fey sat across from him, curled onto a loveseat arm, flexing one foot to toy with its sandal. Voices murmured and laughed behind her, amid the clack of billiard balls. The night was for friends, however strange that word tasted.
"Nick was really worried about you, you know," Maya said, stabbing for a maraschino cherry at the bottom of what was rightfully the Hart woman's drink.
He couldn't forget her cry of protest, the bailiff's grip on her scrawny arm and his own hot swell of gratitude -- Edgeworth didn't deserve sacrifice. He tilted his glass in circles to hear the ice clatter.
"Yeah." Maya ate the captured cherry from straw's end, and chewed thoughtful. "I just about had to whack him and knock him out so he'd get any sleep. He even tried to read one of the legal books in the office, but he's really terrible at studying." Her gaze softened, and dropped away. "I wish I could have been more help. I tried, but ..."
She sipped the fruit concoction. Pink flush already touched her cheeks and Edgeworth chose not to mind underaged scandal, either -- he watched her, and composed words.
"You're a spirit medium, are you not?"
"Not a very good one." Her answer came too quick, too bitter-edged. "I'm still in training."
He considered. Half a world away, Butz's voice rang indignant. Edgeworth took a steeling breath.
"You ... were trying so hard to call-- your sister, was she? Mia Fey. And in the effort, you must have eliminated any chance of calm you had."
"I know, but I can't just--"
Their gazes locked and Maya stopped, bit off her words. She lit slowly with understanding; Edgeworth looked back to his drink's ice-jagged surface.
"You mean ... you know about the Kurain technique?"
Maya was a different person in court -- literally. Different in size and build, different in stance and gesture, different in the timbre of her voice. If he hadn't been able to unearth the study documentation to explain it, he would be a poor prosecutor indeed.
"I've read enough."
She let out a breath, not quite a laugh or a sigh. "Mia helps us sometimes. When I can manage it, anyway. I wanted to help you, Mister Edgeworth, I really did but I'm just ..."
Courage spurred him. "Can you call her now? Here?"
He looked up to watch her fingers fly to her mouth -- a movement girlish enough to suit her -- and then a knot in the floorboards demanded his attention.
"Call her ...?"
"I was hoping to speak with her," Edgeworth said, low enough to match the ambiant murmur, to blend so the world wouldn't hear, "Can you?"
"I ... I can try. "
She fell silent. No rose incense, no ceremonial tea and no ambient candlelight -- just a robed girl with her eyes closed to concentrate, surrounded by the common grease of a bar. Edgeworth had nothing to do but wait, lay forearms over knees and tilt his drink to clattering once more. Foolish romantic notions crossed his mind, carried on a grumbling voice. He refused it the dignity of a response.
And then sensation began a slow creep down Edgeworth's spine, a drip of water, a reflexive memory of palms slamming their stands. His gaze jerked back to Maya but she was unchanged: still perched on the loveseat, face marred with a faint frown. Presence charged the air, chewing at every nerve ending, and his grip tightened on the glass. And detail leaped from his trial's blurred memory, stained-glass crisp; he knew the feel and taste of a channelling. This wasn't strange.
Awareness of missed time -- he clung to it, couldn't place it as minutes or days or a mere instant. His hands strangled the glass, fingertips pressed bloodless white. And Mia sat before him, in a curled pose borrowed, gently smiling.
Edgeworth pried his grip loose, set the glass to his side and watched it meet tabletop. "Ms. Fey."
"Mr. Edgeworth," she replied, "It's been a while."
He looked sideways at her, met her gaze for a harrowing moment. "In a sense."
This was what he couldn't grasp: the thrum of electricity in the air, the glittering just beyond his senses' reach, the glacial pull of subconscious warning -- not real, don't look. Here was Mia Fey, not a sharp-clawed opponent, not a victim neatly documented, but a visitor stirring Maya's pilfered drink and sampling it and frowning disapproval. Her dark lipstick clung to the straw. Maya wore no such product.
Edgeworth swallowed, and straightened; methodical approach couldn't help him now. The night was for friends and Mia carried on watching him, ever patient.
"You ... were at the trial today," he managed.
"I was." Her smile spread warmer, her head canted. "I help Phoenix and Maya when I can."
The words tore less each time: "Thank you."
Mia nodded. "I'm glad I could help."
And that was all of them, every person who had fought in Edgeworth's stead; his honour-debts were repaid and his mind that much unburdened. Quiet drifted in around them, a type he had never felt: comfortable, pillow-soft and lulling. Mia's attention drifted idly about their surroundings, gaze careful lest the bar walls notice. Her grip lay too loose on the glass's curve to be familiar, too unlike the bold gestures of court -- Edgeworth had never known her well enough to see the difference.
A low-grade din caught his attention and Edgeworth found himself looking across pools of dull light, locking eyes with Wright across the bar. Something knowing danced across his face -- he was Phoenix for a half-moment -- and then it passed, and Wright turned back to Butz and Gumshoe and Hart, spoke and gestured to hold their attention.
"I don't have long here," Mia said. She stirred the drink, watched it settle and then fixed Edgeworth with a look intent. "Maya's powers won't hold, I'm afraid. Is there anything else ...?"
What to ask of a wise mystic, what to know of fate and circumstance? How much help should he take from a borrowed friend? The day's emotions churned again and Edgeworth wasn't strong enough, wasn't brave enough; he held Mia's dark eyes anyway.
"What is it like to die?"
Surprise flashed across her face, hurt and hate and regret -- Edgeworth knew those well. Slowly, they fled, and Mia's lips curled wry.
"I wouldn't recommend it," she said.
Before Maya slipped away into the night -- shoulders bowed meek, gripped with too much thought -- she asked for silence. He nodded. He owed her that much. The air felt lonelier and Edgeworth tilted his drink, watched friends from a room's safe distance. That began the letter-writing in his thoughts.