Disclaimer: I do not own Ace Attorney/Gyakuten Saiban.
Phoenix barely noticed how the detention center was unusually quiet that afternoon when he passed by the security guards and made his way to the familiar visiting area. The white room across from him was empty, of course – they were still escorting the 'convict' he was visiting from her cell. He often came to the detention center alone, although at times Maya or Edgeworth accompanied him. He tried not to bring little Pearl Fey, if possible; her presence often resulted in painful bruises or bloody noses on his part.
"Oh! Phoenix!" Iris' soft voice was a welcome reprieve from his nightmarish workday. The former shrine maiden sat down in the plastic chair across from him, smiling serenely as she folded her hands on her lap. "I'm glad you visited today."
Phoenix grinned wordlessly and shook his head. He visited her almost everyday – almost, because there were those unpredictable times when he had last-minute investigations to conduct for a trial or errands.
"I'm sorry I couldn't be here yesterday," he said, tapping his fingers against the metallic table in front of him. "I had an…unexpected issue to deal with."
Iris laughed quietly and his frustration began to crumble; she looked so cute when she tilted her head to the side like that, the corner of her lips lifting in a shy grin as her cheeks reddened. "It's all right. I know you're busy, Feenie."
Phoenix's thoughts briefly drifted back to the afternoon before when Detective Gumshoe had suddenly burst into the Wright and Co. Law Offices with that goofy grin on his unshaven face. "I need your help, pal!" the detective exclaimed, shoving a torn catalogue in Phoenix's face before he could protest. "Maggey's birthday's coming up and I have no idea what to get her!"
"Detective, let's start by thinking about what you can afford to get her," Phoenix remembered saying exasperatedly as he flipped through the catalogue he had been given. Everything inside was well over not only Gumshoe's limited salary, but Phoenix's as well. His wallet sat empty in his back pocket – Phoenix could swear he heard crickets chirp every time he opened it.
For the rest of the afternoon Phoenix begrudgingly followed Gumshoe across the city, looking for that "one perfect gift" for Maggey. Maya had, of course, gone along with them – she was the only person with the ungodly level of patience necessary to help keep Gumshoe from overspending and throwing himself even deeper into debt. But Phoenix had a nagging feeling that Maya was just looking for an excuse to visit Maggey at the Très Bien restaurant and have a chance to try on her French maid uniform.
For a moment Phoenix suddenly wondered what Iris would look like wearing Maggey Byrde's uniform, with that pink apron and a clean white ribbon holding up her smooth, black hair…
"Feenie?" Iris asked tentatively, interrupting Phoenix's fantasies of being served a cup of bitter coffee by Iris in a French maid outfit. He blinked several times, erasing those last tantalizing images from his mind as he unwillingly brought himself back to reality.
"I'm sorry, Iris," he said sheepishly. "I was just thinking."
Iris giggled softly and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear as another blush slid across her face. "You just looked so far off for a moment, and then you were smiling..."
"I-It was nothing important, really!"
They spent the remainder of the visiting hour chatting about small, trivial things; Iris asked about Sister Bikini and the Hazakura Temple, Phoenix told her about his latest trial and bitterly described his latest training session on Eagle Mountain with Maya and Pearl. The latter seemed to dissatisfy Iris, who frowned solemnly and clasped her hands together as Phoenix recounted the painful hours he had spent under an ice-cold waterfall.
"Ah! Why do you go through all that if you don't like it, Feenie?" she asked when he concluded his short story.
Phoenix guiltily bit his lip. "It's because Pearls and Maya love it when I go up with there with them. Really, I don't mind," he said quickly, feigning a pleased smile. He was telling the truth about making Pearl and Maya happy; the two Fey sisters loved it when he joined them for a weekend on the mountain. Seeing them smile is always worth it, he thought.
"Oh, I see." Iris smiled again. "And I'm glad that you're keeping an eye on Sister Bikini as well. I'll be so happy to see her again..."
"We should do something when you finally get to come home," Phoenix suggested. "And sometime I'll bring Sister Bikini down here with me when I come to visit you."
"That would be a lot of fun, Feenie," Iris said, cocking her head to the side again. "I'll be looking forward to it."
When the security guard made his rounds through the building announcing that visiting hours were coming to an end, Phoenix felt that (unfortunately) well-known sense of emptiness settle in his chest. He knew that he would see Iris tomorrow – unless Maya and Pearl had some other plans, or if Gumshoe decided that he was going to drag him on some other harebrained journey around the city – but he wished that they could have more time together, even if he was only able to speak to her through a clear, lightly scratched Plexiglas window.
"I'll see you tomorrow. Thank you again for coming to visit me," Iris said, smiling sweetly as Phoenix stood up to leave. "I'm counting down the days until we can go out again like we did in college."
He gave her a quiet grin, shoving his hands in his pockets. Hopefully, he thought as he said his good byes, that day would come soon...