AN: I do not own anything from the Ace Attorney series. They belong to Capcom. I also warn that this story has MASSIVELY MASSIVE SPOILERS for Case 3-5. I hope you enjoy it!
Phoenix tore past Larry with one final shouted order to call the police, and he raced onto the bridge with no thought for his own safety. And there was certainly not a thought as to the intelligence of his actions. Only one idea occupied his mind—one thing that motivated him to sprint across the burning bridge.
I have to get to Maya.
Maya. His assistant, and one of his closest friends. She was trapped on the other side of this bridge, quite possibly with the person who had just murdered the unfortunate author now impaled in the snow at the foot of that statue.
And the thought of poor Maya being at the mercy of a murderer overrode his natural instincts for self preservation and sent him barreling across the bridge, ignoring Larry's startled cries of alarm and desperate calls for him to stop.
In hindsight, it was probably the one time that he really should have listened to Larry.
Phoenix heard the crack. And it took him a second to register what it was. That second was all it took for the planks beneath his feet to give way completely, and then suddenly there was no ground beneath his shoes. Only empty air, waiting for him to plummet through it.
And he did. He fell between the rotting, burned, broken planks and into the frigid air towards the dark, icy water that rushed below. As he started to plunge downwards, he heard Larry scream his name, and in the smoldering glow of the bridge, he saw his old friend leaning over the edge and reaching down for him, though there was no way he could have ever reached.
He might have screamed as well. He wasn't entirely sure. Not that it mattered a great deal either way.
And all he could think was that this was it. He had finally done something so incredibly stupid that it was going to cost him his life. Everyone had been right, always right about him being a naïve idiot. And now he was going to die like this, such a horrible way to go. There was really no way for him to—
Okay, Phoenix. Get ready. The water's coming up fast, and this is probably going to hurt.
I know your voice.
Take a deep breath and hold it…
Oh. Right. Do what the voice in my head says.
There you go. You're in the water, as I'm sure you've noticed. But the worst is more or less over. You just dropped from the Dusky Bridge into a river in the middle of a freezing winter's night, but for the moment you're alive. No…not for the moment. You're going to stay alive. I won't let you die. I swear it.
Gah so cold can't breath can't feel anything it hurts so much it hurts it hurts I can't breath—
Phoenix, what are you doing? Swim! You're not injured! I didn't let you get hurt!
I can't find the surface—
Phoenix! You have to swim for it!
Where is the surface—
Hmm…I'm probably overstepping here, but I don't care. Here we go—
There was a sudden burst of clarity, and instant kicked in. His hands broke through the water and felt freezing air, and he followed that feeling of air on his wet skin, clawing desperately to get his head to that sweet, life-giving air.
Finally, he made it and took in a gasping breath that was as much water as air, and he coughed and gasped and sputtered, trying frantically to make his limbs cooperate and do what he wanted them to do. They had gone numb first from the impact, and then from the frigid temperature of the water.
But it was hard…his mind was a void, save for terror, and his body wouldn't cooperate. And despite his mad flailing and attempts to get an actual breath of air into lungs that seemed to have ceased functioning, he felt himself start to sink again. He was going back under the icy water, back into that darkness and that fear and that place where he couldn't breathe or see or think—
Phoenix, what am I going to do with you?
Swim. Phoenix, you need to swim. I can't do everything. One more time—just get your head above water. Come on, you can do it. Let's get some air in you. Ready? Don't worry, I'm right here with you. On three. One, two, three—
His head again broke the surface, and this time he kept it there by sheer force of will. He kicked and clawed at the water with every ounce of strength left in him. If he faltered again, he was dead. It was that simple, and it was that thought that kept him fighting for sheer desperation to keep himself afloat. But he was so cold, so very cold…
We have to get you out of the water. It doesn't matter if you keep your head up or not. The river is below freezing. You'll get hypothermia either way. And it could be a while before rescue comes.
I'm going to d-die, aren't I?
No. You're not. I won't let you.
Who are you?
If you were coherent, you would know my voice as well as you know your own name. But you're not completely yourself at the moment, so I'll let it slide. This time. Damn…I'm sure I'm overstepping my boundaries again, but I won't let this happen to you. Let's get you out of the water, and we'll worry about the rest then.
Good boy. Now get those legs working. Kick! Swim! There's an outcropping right over there. It's not far, and you won't have to do much climbing to get there. Come on, you can make it!
…are you my guardian angel?
Few people would call me an angel, Phoenix.
I think you are.
Thank you. You always were very kind. Now keep swimming. You're almost there.
I can't feel my arms or legs. I'm not going to make it…
Yes you are. Where's that blind faith you're so famous for?
Anytime. Look, just get your hands on that rock there. You can use that to pull yourself up. I'll help as much as I can. I'm really overstepping here, I just know it.
Overstepping what? G-god, my fingers are f-frozen…
Just hold on. You're stubborn enough to do it. And overstepping…well, there are boundaries.
B-boundaries of what?
Let's make a deal. You get yourself up there and out of this water, and I'll tell you a little secret.
A little more, I'm pushing too…there!
G-god…the g-ground is c-cold too…
Does this help?
…it's w-warmer now…how are you…
I told you. I'm not going to let you die, Phoenix.
Wait a minute…your voice. I know who you are. How did I not know you?
It's about time.
Oh, stop laughing at me. As if I hadn't already proven it tonight, but I really am as big of an idiot as everyone always tells me I am. If Edgeworth hears about this, I'll never hear the end of it. Honestly, if I had a wall here, I'd probably be smashing my head against it.
Like Manfred von Karma did after you proved that he was guilty of murder and destroyed that perfect record he was so proud of?
…was it wrong of me to be the tiniest bit amused by that?
Not at all. I did feel sorry for Edgeworth, though.
I think we all did. Poor guy…
You never did tell me the story about you two and how far back you go.
Well…you died. I never got the chance.
That's life. So to speak.
…you said something about boundaries?
Ah, yes. I am here to help you, though there are rules. And that is the great secret, Phoenix. The mystery that will never appear before any court, but can truly alter the course of the world.
Some call it fate. Some call it serendipity. Others call it grace, or even luck. I call it mercy. But it's what comes when the good of your life is measured up against the bad, as well as the needs of the living. And if you have enough, you can take a moment—though I've taken far more than a moment, I know, but what are they going to do to me now? And with that moment, things can be changed.
Changed? How? Like what?
Knocking a certain small item from a file of evidence being stolen by a guilty prosecutor. Altering the angle of a fire extinguisher coming down at a person's head so they are merely knocked unconscious and nothing worse. Nudging the path of an assassin's bullet, aimed at a certain whip-happy prosecutor. And changing the way a person falls from a bridge so they have a chance at survival.
…all of that?
That is mercy, Phoenix. Small mercies granted by those who have earned the right to share it.
And you did.
And you shared it with me?
Why? Why not Maya?
Because you protect Maya. As long as you stay safe, chances are good that she will stay safe.
…you sound so tired. Do spirits…get…tired…?
It's been a very long night. You see—Phoenix?
I can't seem…to stay…'wake…
You have to! Just a little longer!
Up on the cliffs near the remnants of the burnt-out bridge, the organization of a search party was already well underway. They were trying desperately to find Phoenix Wright, the well-known defense attorney, who had fallen from the bridge in his attempt to reach a close friend trapped on the other side.
Hopes were not particularly high, though they were preparing to scour the area. The drop alone was fatal, and hitting water from this high up would be like plummeting into a brick wall at near the speed of a car driving on a freeway. And even if he had somehow survived the fall, it was winter. The water was probably freezing, at the warmest. Even the searchers, bundled up in their winter wear, were cold.
Still, they were going to try. Maybe at least they would be able to find the body…
As cold as it was, no one noticed the slight breath of wind that blew past them. They were too busy setting up a spotlight to help with the search. And suddenly, Detective Dick Gumshoe felt the strange, almost irresistible urge to turn and look down towards the water below him. He had looked down plenty of times already, and see nothing. Why would this time be any different? Sure, they had just turned the light on, but—
"HEY!" the scruffy detective let out a yelp. "Go back to the left, pal! Hurry!"
The startled officer manning the light jumped, but did as he was told. A little maneuvering later, and the light came across a form, sprawled on the rocky embankment at the foot of the opposite side of the river. It was a man; he lay unmoving.
…could it be…?
"HEY!" Gumshoe hollered, not caring too much for the fact that his voice probably wouldn't carry that far. "HEY, SIR! CAN YOU HEAR ME?" He turned to give an order, but the rest of the search party had seen, and they were on their way down.
Good, good. Very good. I leave him in your hands.
Gumshoe glanced around. Had he just heard a woman's voice?
…nah. That was ridiculous.
I think that should do it. I suspect you'll be very sick for a few days, but there shouldn't be any major injuries. I took most of the fall. After all, it can't really hurt me. And that is a mercy I give to you, Phoenix Wright. Just another of many mercies, small and otherwise, for you, my dear friend.
I really do have to go now. So much has happened tonight…but I can't tell you of it. That would overstep far too much, and I dare not risk it. You have to find the path yourself, and find the answer. I know what this case will bring, and I know it will cause you great pain. But you are the only one who can bring this to its rightful conclusion and find the truth. Find justice. And you will be all the stronger for it.
I take my leave now, though I suspect that I will see you again very soon. But somehow, I don't think you will need my help for much longer.
PS. Hooookay then. First things first—I do want to point everyone towards Ysabet's Detective Conan fic "Omake: Grace" as part of my inspiration for this. A far better story than I could ever hope to write. Otherwise, this is just to fill a hole in my mental canon. Phoenix takes a nosedive off a BRIDGE, and survives with a cold. I gotta think something was going on there.
Anyhoo, thanks for reading, all! Much love!