"Oh, Wright. Do come in."
Phoenix Wright, defense attorney of some small renown (and purveyor of burger funds, upon occasion), awkwardly sidled into the office of the district's most celebrated prosecutor—a man he had a deeply complicated relationship with, and one he had not seen in several months.
"Hey, Edgeworth—" The porcupine-haired lawyer waved one hand in simultaneous greeting and apology. "—I'm not, er, interrupting anything, am I?"
The always over-dressed, crimson-clad prosecutor smirked a little at Phoenix's well-intentioned remark from behind his broad mahogany desk.
"I've always got something to do, Wright." He gave the interloper a dry, knowing look. "Unlike those in some professions, we prosecutors actually work on more than one case at a time."
Oh, ha, ha.
"I see traveling in Europe hasn't changed you one bit." Not that I expected it to.
"Did you truly expect it to?"
What is he, a mind reader??
"I guess not." Phoenix, realizing that he had been hovering near the doorway, stepped into the excessively tidy office. While Edgeworth finished up an important case brief for a colleague—("Can I trust you to amuse yourself for a few minutes, Wright?")—he aimlessly wandered around the spacious office. His eyes traveled around the room, automatically absorbing each familiar element of the space—from the fastidiously arranged bookshelves, to the floral-patterned china tea set (Did he get a new one since the last time I was here?), to the suit that hung on the wall as a tribute to his first case (He's the only person in the world I can actually picture wearing that thing…), to the ultra-rare Steel Samurai action figure (Or 'collectible figurine', as he likes to call it...) tucked in its case behind the desk.
It was obvious from everything in this room that the man who worked here loved order and regimentation above all else.
Except maybe winning.
"You know, sometimes it still really amazes me," he mused aloud, half to himself.
"What does?" Miles Edgeworth asked, mildly, not looking up from his computer. "The number of cases you've managed to win, despite rarely knowing yourself the truth of events until the last day of the trial?"
If insulting me were an Olympic sport, Edgeworth would be the gold medalist's coach.
"No," Phoenix answered, deciding not to rise to the prosecutor's obvious bait. "It amazes me sometimes that you, of all people, became a criminal prosecutor. It doesn't really fit with your personality, does it? It's such a messy, ugly world, and here you are, in your fussbudget-clean office—"
"The world of criminal law might have more than it's fair share of unsavory elements," Edgeworth interrupted him sharply, not bothering to mask his annoyance. "But mere unpleasantness has never prevented me from doing what I felt my duty was at the time."
Phoenix was so taken aback by the coldness of the statement that he couldn't even think of how to respond. Edgeworth was most assuredly paying attention to him now, looking up from his computer at Phoenix with a mixture of anger and…hurt?
What is bothering him so much…?
"You of all people should know why I became an attorney."
The expression on his friend's face, the pensive, moody look he got when he was in a particular Edgeworthian durge—that told Phoenix all he needed to know. The road that had brought Miles Edgeworth to the law had not been smooth, and he had faced many setbacks, doubts, and second-guesses before realizing what being a 'prosecutor' really meant to him. Justice was a path he'd been taught to walk by his beloved father. He'd strayed from that path for many years, and finding his way back to it had not been easy or simple for the stubborn young prosecutor. As his friend—and that was what they were, first and foremost, before they were rivals, enemies, or partners—he should have realized how that remark might've affected him.
Phoenix should've known how personally Miles Edgeworth would take it.
"You know I was only ribbing you—if anything, your neat-and-tidy personality proves you're meant to be a prosecutor!" He scratched the back of his head nervously and grinned. "A love of order and justice and…symmetry…and all…that."
The frown he was facing dissipated a little, the expression softening to mild exasperation…perhaps even the ghost of a smile.
"Your efforts to repair damage are rather obvious, as always, Wright." The superior little smirk he was so familiar with was back.
Hey, at least I'm trying!
"Of course I know why you became a lawyer…just like you know why I became one," An unreadable emotion flickered across Edgeworth's face for a split second before disappearing again. "So in that respect, we're in the same boat. We each know what law means to the other."
Phoenix wondered if it was just the lighting in the room that made the prosecutor's cheeks tinge faintly scarlet.
"Yes, well…" Edgeworth avoided meeting his gaze, instead quickly turning his attention back to the computer screen. "I still have to finish this, Wright." If Phoenix had taken the time to examine his friend then, he might've noticed the distinctly hot-and-bothered look Edgeworth was sporting.
As it was, he did not. Instead, Phoenix let out a sigh of relief. It was not often that one could escape an altercation with Miles Edgeworth relatively unscathed…or without the man in question holding a grudge or running halfway around the world while pretending to have 'chosen death'.
I don't think I could deal with it if he did that again.
They had such a deeply complicated and yet stunningly simple relationship that Phoenix still found it difficult to wrap his mind around at times. To him, there were two Miles Edgeworths—the haughty, stuffy prosecutor who often ran verbal and intellectual circles around him in court, and the stick-in-the-mud, goody two-shoes young boy he'd known for only a year in grade school. The man who often made his job so difficult…and the boy who'd inspired him to be a defense attorney in the first place…it was hard to reconcile the two. The line between professional and personal was murky with them, to be sure…slowly but surely, they were coming to an understanding.
Phoenix took heart in the fact that Edgeworth seemed to be just about as confused about what 'they' were as he was. Rivals? Colleagues? Associates? Friends?
Definitely friends…against both our better judgements.
He turned his attention back to the office (the investigation bug biting, as it often did when he was simply standing around a room with nothing else to do), when his eyes fell on something he had almost forgotten about—Edgeworth's chess set. Not surprising that he'd taken it for granted—like everything else in the room, it blended nicely with the aesthetic. He'd noticed it before, in previous visits to this office, and something about it had always struck him as odd. Phoenix could never quite put his finger on it…
Now's the perfect time to take a closer look.
As he walked over to the carven, raised board, the first thing that stood out to him was the color of the pieces.
Pink and blue aren't the ordinary colors of a chess set, are they…?
The board was oddly arranged, too—he was no expert at chess, to be sure, but he was certain that the pieces in an ordinary game were all different shapes, not like the pink ones on Edgeworth's board, who all had a strange little, almost ruffled bump. The makeup of the pieces was peculiar, too…
There is usually an equal number of each color on a chessboard.
It seemed as though the board had been set up in a very specific way—the lone blue piece was surrounded on all sides, as if he had been positioned that way, not as if the board had organically emerged from a real game of chess.
Poor guy…talk about being outnumbered!
He felt a strange sort of kinship with the blue piece, sitting all alone in a sea of magenta. All it needed was a little purple piece with a topknot at its side and it would be just like…
Wait a minute…this is—…!
He immediately grabbed the minute blue figurine to inspect it more closely. Everything about it, from its color (It even looks like it's been washed too many times with the whites…) to the spiky little top of it was…
"Edgeworth," he started, scarcely believing himself what would next come out of his mouth.
"Yes, Wright?" the prosecutor replied, absently, still obviously focused on polishing his work.
"Is this chess set…supposed to be us?"
There was a full seven seconds of silence. Phoenix stared at Miles. Edgeworth stared at Wright. He looked like a cross between a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar and a startled animal.
Where have I seen that face before…? Oh, yeah, whenever I find a contradiction in his witness's testimony he looks just like that!
"What…what on earth do you mean?" Edgeworth sputtered.
"This chess piece…" Phoenix waved the little blue figurine (He's kind of cute, really) in the air. "It looks just like me."
"What do you mean 'it looks just like you'?" was the terse reply he received. "It's a playing piece!"
"But it's the exact same shade of blue as my favorite suit—and look at his hair. He's copied my hairstyle and everything!"
Did I really just accuse a chess piece of stealing my look?
"That…" The usually cool and collected Edgeworth, Phoenix was surprised to note, looked decidedly ruffled at the direction of his rival's inquiry. "…Is mere coincidence. Your hairstyle is not the only thing that looks like that, Wright. Many things in the world are shaped that way."
"And what about these guys?" Phoenix persisted, picking up one of the fuchsia knights, and held it up next to 'himself'. "They're the same color as your suit, and they've even got that ruffley thing you always wear."
"It's a cravat, Wright, and the hue in question is wine red, not pink—"
"And look at the way the board's arranged," Phoenix interrupted him. "My knight is totally surrounded and outnumbered by your knights!" He turned and smirked knowingly at the now livid prosecutor. "What do you do with this thing—bring it out whenever we go to trial? Do you reenact the arguments of each case with these little chess versions of us?" Phoenix grinned—this entire visit was worth it just for the expression on Edgeworth's face right now. "If you ask me, it seems like you're kind of obsessive."
He matched his suit perfectly.
"That is patently absurd!" Edgeworth rose from his seat, mildly hysterical, and slammed his hands on the desk in front of him. That's probably second nature to him at this point. "I demand you provide evidence to support these baseless accusations or else abandon your—"
But Phoenix Wright was not listening to him. Instead, he was waving the "wine red" and blue pieces midair, giving each one a diminutive voice and carrying on a mock trial.
"'The witness is clearly lying!'" Phoenix attempted make the blue piece "point"—it didn't work very well, but he was certain the increasingly indignant Edgeworth understood what he was doing perfectly. He lowered his voice to the best snooty prosecuting attorney impression he could possibly manage. "'If that is true, the defense must provide evidence to support his claim!' 'The defense will provide evidence as soon as the prosecution stops pretending he didn't have a chess set made to look exactly like himself and the defense—'"
"If you're quite done, Wright!" Edgeworth snapped, reaching across his desk and snatching both pieces from Phoenix's hand. As soon as they were in his care, he whipped out a handkerchief (Pink silk, of course) from his pocket and immediately went to work carefully polishing them. The force of his ice-glare (was that a touch of embarrassment as well?) was so great that even Phoenix couldn't help but look sheepish in return.
"Oh, come on, Edgeworth, have a sense of humor—"
"Did you come to my office just to be a nuisance, or did you have a particular reason for darkening my door?"
Someone's a little snappish today…not that he isn't always.
After carefully putting each piece back exactly as they had been before, Edgeworth returned to his seat, and to his collected demeanor—something that didn't fool the defense attorney at all, for he could see from the twitching brow and clenched hands that Miles was still very bothered by his childhood friend's display.
And speaking of childhood friends…
"Oh, yeah…well, it's about Larry."
Miles Edgeworth immediately groaned aloud.
"Oh, for the love of all that is good and decent in this world, what has he done this time?"
He had put his hand to his temple and begun to massage it, as if anticipating the headache that would come from hearing about Larry Butz's latest escapades.
That's a pretty standard reaction, really…especially for those of us that have known him as long as Edgeworth and I have.
"Nothing…well, nothing but survive another year." Something that frankly amazes me.
A blank look.
"It's his birthday on Friday, Edgeworth."
"Oh—of course. His birthday. Nnngh." Phoenix was always amazed at how intelligent his friend was about legal procedure…but so completely clueless and awkward he could be about ordinary social situations, like someone's birthday. "I'd forgotten that was coming up…he usually makes it into a national incident."
It was almost…cute.
Woah, where did that thought come from???
"Yes, his birthday. Anyway, Larry's pretty down, since what's-her-face dumped him a few weeks ago, so I thought a little party might cheer him up—"
"Is he still using being rejected by his continuous stream of floozies as an excuse for not finding employment?" asked Edgeworth, dryly. As was often the case, he was smothering his concern for their mutual ne'er-do-well friend in a blanket of sarcasm.
Phoenix knew the sentiments behind the biting remark, even if
"If that's your roundabout way of asking if he's still jobless, then yes."
"When will he learn that you can't solve your problems by simply laying around and moping? When bad things happen to you, the best way to confront them is by facing them head on, not running away…"
Yeah, because 'Miles Edgeworth chooses death' was so 'head-on'.
Somehow, he doubted the remark would be well received if spoken aloud. If Edgeworth noticed Phoenix's lack of attention, he didn't let on—he just plowed straight through the clear disinterest, punctuating each of his points with a dramatic hand gesture and the occasional self-righteous finger wave.
"…If he spent half as much time cultivating valuable skills as he did chasing loose women than he might actually begin to contribute to society…"
I see where Larry gets off, calling him 'such a bore' when he makes these speeches. And 'loose women'? Really? How old is he—sixty-five?
"So, can you come on Friday?" Phoenix impatiently interrupted him mid-moral lesson. His friend, in the midst of retributive scold of the absent Larry, looked completely taken aback by the question.
"Come? To what?"
"To Larry's party, Edgeworth," Phoenix reiterated, affectionately exasperated. "He heard you were going to be back in town. Larry told me to tell you about."
And that if you decline, to drag you to it, kicking and screaming, if I have to.
"Larry…?" Edgeworth still looked surprised. "He…wants me to come to his birthday festivities?" The overly sensitive prosecutor was clearly torn between gruff indifference and a wobbling lip.
I wonder if there's a word for the neurotic dysfunction he lives with.
"Of course he does. He considers you to be one of his best friends," Phoenix wished he had a camera at that moment to capture and immortalize it. The only word for what Edgeworth looked like was…touched. "He also told me to remind you when you're shopping for presents about the difference between a prosecutor and a security guard's salary."
Edgeworth opened his mouth to no doubt say something supremely sarcastic—but mid-thought, apparently rethought it, and instead only raised an eyebrow and gave Phoenix a thin smile.
"I think I'll get him an employment brochure."
It would probably be a more useful gift anyway.
All of a sudden, as if something had just occurred to him, the prosecuting attorney frowned in puzzlement.
"Wait a minute, Wright…that was all you needed to speak to me about?"
"Why on earth did you need to come and see me in person to invite me to a birthday party?" he asked, his interest plainly piqued—and possibly confused. "I'm a busy man—how difficult would it have been to merely pick up the phone and call?"
It was Phoenix's turn to be awkward and turn a different shade.
"Well, uh…" He scratched his arm sheepishly. "You've been out of town for a few months, and I hadn't seen you in a while, so…" The familiar sensation of being cornered by Edgeworth in the courtroom swept over him…he half expected the man in question to wag a finger at him and smirk. "I, you know, wanted to drop in…and catch up."
Why do I suddenly feel like his wife?
Edgeworth smiled shrewdly at Phoenix's apparent nervousness…the defense attorney suddenly felt a strong need to loosen his tie.
"Oh, I see how it is, Wright…" The patented Edgeworth arrogance was practically palpable. "If you missed me so badly, you need only say so…"
"So, can you come to the party or not?" he shot back, crossly. Edgeworth merely smirked and leaned back in his cushy leather chair.
"If saying yes will get you to leave my office…then yes." The man behind the desk pulled an absurdly tall stack of paperwork towards him pointedly. "I will come…though I don't doubt that I'll come to regret it." He pulled the top page off of the file and began to skim it with the utmost efficiency.
I'm guessing that's my cue to exit, stage left.
"We're meeting at seven at my place."
But Miles Edgeworth was already back to his work (though that arrogant smirk remained firmly planted on his face), completely focused on whatever it was he was doing, despite the fact that he had just gotten back from half-way across the world and should probably be sleeping at this moment.
Same old Edgeworth.
He was one step out the door when an idea occurred to him—one he couldn't pass up. Phoenix quietly turned around—the sound of Edgeworth's furious quill pen scratches seemed to fill the room. He almost laughed at how fervently the other man appeared to be attacking his own work, striking out entire sentences ferociously—but if he drew attention to himself, his idea would be far less effective.
The element of surprise is key here.
"So, uh," he remarked, suspiciously casual. "That chess set—where did you say you had it custom made, again?"
"Salzburg," the prosecutor replied, without missing a beat. "The Austrians are particularly good at wood and ivory carving when it—" He stopped abruptly, having realized what he said, and jerkily raised his gaze to meet an incredibly amused Phoenix's. "That is to, say, I—it's not what you're thinking, so don't even say it—!"
"See you on Friday, Edgeworth—if you don't get too distracted by your toys that afternoon and forget to come!" He called out behind him as he walked into the hallway, a jaunty step in his stride.
Friday was looking up, he thought to himself as he walked home in the filthy, pouring down rain—I really should get a car one of these days—he almost didn't know why. Phoenix found himself repressing a smile as he imagined Miles Edgeworth's reaction to the bar Larry had picked for them to go to. In his mind's eye, he saw the stuffy prosecutor pull a can of disinfectant from his back pocket and spray it all over the table they would be eating at.
I really did miss him when he was gone—toys and all.
Of course inspired by the release of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. A game that could only be made better by having a Phoenix cameo…well, I haven't finished it yet, so I can hold out futile hope.
Reviews are love!