Gaze

a story by Dot


A hawk, the boy remembers thinking as Prosecutor von Karma fixes his piercing gaze on the lady from Social Services and tells her in no uncertain terms that the boy will go with him and no one else. He has eyes like a hawk.

And then the dark orbs swing in his direction, and the boy remembers nothing else.

The boy feels the eyes watching as he pores over his studies, being careful to handle the pages that look older than he is. Watching as he brings home his first report card, his palms sweating and his mouth dry. Watching as he settles into uneasy sleep in an unfamiliar bed.

When the boy prays he imagines the throne of heaven to be like von Karma's study, the aura therein a sacred space that must never be breached by one so unworthy. Even when von Karma speaks, it is never to address the boy directly, but few words are needed.

The boy learns to interpret every look. Nothing escapes his attention. He memorizes every quirk of those mountainous eyebrows, every twitch of those thin, dry lips, every flare of those narrow nostrils. Von Karma's face speaks a language that only he can understand, and he is almost more proud of this than becoming the perfect prosecutor he was meant to be.

The boy is sent to reclaim von Karma's old hunting grounds alone, and he falters. State v. Fawles falls apart before the unrelenting attacks of the defense--the nerve of that woman, daring to question him!--and though Fawles' death means the case can no longer proceed he cannot shake the conviction that he had lost.

The boy finds it almost impossible to look von Karma in the eye for God knows how long afterwards.

The famed King of Prosecutors returns to the courthouse where he had first made his name with little fanfare, refusing any interviews during the media feeding frenzy that ensues as he reascends the long stairs up on his first day back. He chases the cameras away with a single imperious glance and continues on his way.

The years pass by in a seemingly endless parade of suspects, witnesses, and victory after victory. The boy earns his own nickname, but he pays no mind to what the public, his peers, or even his superiors think of him. Only one man's opinions matter, and his presence in the courtroom is enough to give him the strength the boy needs to push through the web of lies and contradictions to the inevitable verdict.

Phoenix Wright ruins everything.

The boy reluctantly forgives his rival for marring the perfect win record. Wright seems to possess the devil's own luck, and simply does not know when to quit. So it is with a profound sense of irony that he requests Wright as his lawyer, relishing the thought of Wright having to face von Karma as an opponent.

And then the boy steps behind the defense's desk.

He may as well have fallen into the abyss.

He has never seen this look in von Karma's eyes before. Raw, undisguised hatred, aimed not at the boy's lawyer but the boy himself. When the judge pronounces the verdict and von Karma has to be dragged out of the courtroom by a small army's worth of police officers, the boy finds himself unable to move from his spot, his knuckles white from clutching the desk with both hands. He is falling, a kite with its strings cut.

"Edgeworth," a voice cuts through the fog in his mind, and again in softer, kinder tones, "Miles. It's over. You're free."

The boy looks into the eyes of the other man who calls him 'friend' and takes in the expression of open, searching worry like one who had been lost in the wilderness and stumbled upon an oasis.

"Thank you," he manages.

Von Karma's eyes haunt his nightmares for years afterwards, but the boy decides it is a small price to pay to have a different set watching him.


Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress' Notes:
Wrote this mostly to prove to myself that it is entirely possible to write mindfuck without any physical abuse. The reader is free to fill in the blanks, of course, but personally I see von Karma as the kind of bastard who would be able to torment Miles without ever laying finger on him.

I bent continuity a little for the sake of drama--IIRC, 1-5 claims that von Karma won the King of Prosecutors award almost every year, and 1-4 asserts that von Karma only missed work the 6 months after DL-6.