Miles almost thought that Wright knew nothing of the piano before the other man brought his left hand to the keys, fingers curved, and struck a melodious chord. First of three interconnected one-shots.
Ace Attorney belongs to CAPCOM.
AN: I wrote this part early on while I was playing the Ace Attorney series, so I hope I haven't completely mangled the characters. I have since finished playing all four games.
Interlude: a piece of instrumental music played between scenes in a play or opera.
The room was dark – was anyone even home? – when Miles Edgeworth let himself into the apartment with a single bronze key. The air was musty, like the room hadn't been aired in days; well, knowing the nature of its owner, Miles wasn't very surprised.
What was worrying was the lack of anything. No shoes left on their sides sitting by the door. No clothes scattered half-hazardly in the short corridor. No battered black briefcase by the stand. Nothing but a pristine, if dusty, room, swept clean of any evidence of the person living within its confines.
Miles took three steps into the apartment before he heard the soft tingle of piano keys, slow and hesitant, like the first gentle patter of raindrops before the rain came down in full.
Phoenix Wright sat in front of a tiny black vertical piano, running one hand up and down the black and white keys, tapping out a seemingly random sequence, high to low to high. The keys jangled, at odds with each other, and Miles almost thought that Wright knew nothing of the piano before the other man brought his left hand to the keyboard, fingers curved, and struck a melodious chord.
Wright's hands moved slowly, testing, judging before the music melted into a coherent piece. He slipped from chord to chord, the cadence of the song gradually speeding up, each note whole and pure like a leaping, dancing river, despite the poor quality of the piano.
Miles felt the jagged teeth of the key biting into his skin. He uncurled his fingers from around it, one by one, and dropped the key firmly into his pocket.
When did Wright learn how to play the piano?
It was dizzying, this strange blurring of worlds. Miles was used to a bumbling, awkward and painfully earnest Wright, the one that stubbornly dug in his heels and threw himself headlong against the impossible. He was used to Wright with his badly-cut suits and horrible porcupine like hair and that irritating smile, ever so trusting in the innocence and inherent goodness in others.
And yet here was a man in a black hoodie and slacks, and a bright blue woolen hat pulled right over that black hair, wrists flicking deftly across the piano, fingers drawing something deep and poignant from the piano's keys, as complex as the ocean's waves washing over each other, layer upon layer upon layer.
Miles stared at the back of Wright's neck, bare and spike-free, and wondered why it took the man's disbarment from law to reveal this side of Wright, simultaneously intense and painfully pitiful.
The contradictions to the man will never cease to give Miles headaches.
Halfway through, as if listening to some madman's cue that
only he was privy to, Wright's hands flew into motion, stirring up
a tune that sounded like a dozen sleigh bells ringing in tandem, low
and sweet and almost desperate. Miles wondered what lost dreams, what
regrets inspired Wright; it wasn't hard to figure out what moved
the other man, even if the specifics eluded Miles.
For god's sake, Wright. Do you have to wear your heart on your sleeve all the time?
Even so, Miles waited until the end of the song, Wright's hands moving down the keys slowly, the last notes lingering hauntingly for a long moment before fading into silence.
"Wright," Miles said quietly. His voice felt deceptively loud and intrusive, even to his ears.
Wright simply tipped his head forward, letting his eyes flutter shut. "I should have known you'd come, Edgeworth. Should have expected it, even. You were always one to take action instead of letting bygones lie, dead and forgotten."
"But you didn't think I would come."
Wright's shoulders hunched up, almost like a turtle trying to shrivel back into its protective shell. Miles stared at the hat, the hoodie, the utter lack of spikes and wondered how other people (the Fey girls, Wright's other associates) looked Wright in the eye.
It was a good thing Miles had memorized the long lines of Wright's shoulders, the smooth edge of his face, now marred with two days' stubble, having glared daggers at Wright's skull and back all too often during a court session or when the man walked away from him. It made it easy to address that exact spot between Wright's shoulder blades with a look that could make the blind twitchy.
"Wright, what are you doing?"
Wright had the gall to flash a grin full of teeth over his shoulder. He began running his fingers idly up and down keys, a ripple of sound ascending and descending. "Playing the piano. Should've thought that was obvious."
Patience. "Why aren't you in court?"
The little tune stopped abruptly. "I thought that was obvious too. I've been barred, Edgeworth. I'm no longer a qualified attorney. Haven't been for years. There. I said it."
"I know you are not guilty."
Wright swung around now, legs straddling the piano bench, and raised his eyes to meet Miles'. "That's rare coming from you, Demon Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth."
Miles simply stared him down. He was getting the urge to hit Wright over the head and overcame that by holding his hands stiffly to his side.
"What do you expect me to do?" Wright asked, slouching back against the piano keys with a jangle of discordant sound. "I lost the trial, I was found guilty. No one with a trustworthy penny to their name will challenge the verdict."
"Do whatever it takes to prove your innocence, Wright. Or re-sit the bar exam, there's a start," Miles said dryly. He touched his hand to his coat sleeves, adjusting the cuffs.
"I would if I could," and now Wright's voice had taken on that particular tone, that pitch he always used in court, because it was possible to convince others that something was utterly and completely true through the voice alone.
Miles had known Wright far too long and far too well to be taken in by it, however.
"So you're going to just give up then? Just let everything you've worked for tumble away. I wonder how you ever got the willpower to take a law degree."
"You know why I became a defense attorney, Edgeworth," Wright said, voice low, knuckles strained white from the tight grip he had on the piano bench. "And this is different."
"It's different," Miles repeated. He let his hands fall back to his sides. Was that all it took? For something to be different for Wright to utterly give up?
No. I won't accept that.
"Then I suppose we have nothing more to say to each other," Miles found himself saying, turning deliberately and walking away.
He caught a flash of Wright's eyes, wide and disbelieving, shock turning his irises dark. The former defense attorney was on his feet, looking lost, vulnerable, the way he always did when something caught him off guard.
"I'm not going to wait for you, Wright," Miles told the door. It was a rich dark brown, a lovely wooden grain – very much out of place in this stifling, caging room.
He swung the door open. The last of the late evening's sun blinded him briefly. He closed his eyes, his eyelids blazing red from the glare.
"I'll see you in court. Whenever that may be. Good night, Wright."
Miles opened his eyes, eyelashes dipping low against the setting sun. Sunlight tinted every surface and corner, turning his white cravat a pale orange, his hair catching every amber ray.
The door slammed behind him. To Miles, it was like the irrevocable thump of the Judge's gavel after the verdict had been declared.
But then again, Wright was a master at overturning verdicts. And that last, half-mangled call of his name sounded remarkably like an objection.
Miles strode away, the wind cold on his exposed skin, the ghost of a tune lingering in his ears.
AN: The next section deals with Phoenix's reactions to Miles' words. Please wait for it.
Con/crit and feedback is much beloved, as always.