Disclaimer: In case you haven't figured it out yet, I don't own Ace Attorney. All Gyakuten-related characters, settings, etc. are the intellectual property of Shu Takumi/Capcom.
"I just don't get it, pal," Dick Gumshoe opened with a shake of his head.
"My utmost apologies, Detective, but I'm afraid that I don't quite understand what you're alluding to," responded Ron DeLite, handing the burly man a steaming cup of tea as he did. Grateful for the rare opportunity to partake in a hot beverage (the last time that he could immediately recall having done so was with the coffee from Très Bien…and the less said about that, the better), Gumshoe sipped vigorously for a few pregnant moments before clarifying his statement.
"I'm…err…talking about your wife," the scruffy detective explained with an awkward scratch against the back of his head. "I don't mean anything bad by it, y'know, but…well…"
"You're wondering what business Dessie has being with me?" Ron surmised, offering a small smile. "Don't worry; I've yet to find anyone who hasn't asked precisely the same question at one point or another. I mean, that was the reason I ended up taking up the cloak of Mask*DeMasque in the first place…because I couldn't even answer that query myself. I thought that Dessie only loved me for my money, and that if my finances were to dry up she would leave me. And I simply couldn't bear the idea of losing her…"
"I definitely sympathize with ya there, pal," Gumshoe breathed between sips, his face drooping sadly. "But I notice that you just used the past tense…"
"Oh yes," the soft-faced redhead answered, his smile widening just a fraction. "After that business with Mister Atmey and Mister Wright, he – and by 'he' I'm of course referring to Mister Wright, since I'm pretty certain that Mister Atmey wasn't feeling all that charitable toward me at the time – gave me some advice."
"And what was that, pal?" Gumshoe pressed, leaning forward unconsciously.
"He told me that pottery breaks easily, which is why artisans always keep a tube of glue handy when performing their work," Ron declared confidently, before his expression fell a bit and his head tilted to the side in apparent confusion. "Wait, err, no…that's not right. What I mean to say is, he told me that when a ceramic bowl breaks, you shouldn't put it in the dishwasher, because the pieces might get all jumbled up and then you'll never be able to repair them…oh no, that's not right either. Perhaps it was more along the lines of…"
This continued on for a fair few moments, Ron's voice growing progressively weaker with each vain attempt to recall the words of the spiky-haired Ace Attorney, before sighing and finally saying, "Well, in any event, the gist was that if Dessie really loved me, then she would stay with me even after finding out I was fired from KB Security, or that I had become that thing that she hates above all else: a criminal. And then…then, a miracle happened."
At that moment Gumshoe felt a mouthful of tea slip down the wrong pipe, causing him to wretch and drown out the last syllable of Ron's quiet tones. Beating himself on the chest to try and clear the passage more quickly, the detective finally managed to sputter out, "So what was this 'miracle,' pal?"
"Dessie showed up in the defendant lobby," Ron elucidated, tiny droplets of joyful moisture forming in his wide eyes. "And she…she acted precisely as Mister Wright had anticipated. She learned everything about me – all of my darkest secrets – in the courtroom that day, and yet she still wanted to be with me. I couldn't believe it! And so, after that…I stopped worrying so much. Mister Wright helped me realize that I shouldn't constantly be questioning why Dessie and I are together…the point is that we are. I am hers, and she is mine, and that's…that's all there is to it."
"That…that was beautiful!" Gumshoe cried, now choked up by more than just tea. "You're a good man, Mister DeLite; don't ever let anyone tell you different."
"Thank you," Ron stated modestly, before his head tilted once more. "But I must admit, I'm now somewhat curious…throughout my explanation, you seemed to be taking my words somewhat…personally. Was there a reason that you brought up my relationship with Dessie, other than merely idle wondering?"
To this the good detective reacted more-or-less how he usually did when Phoenix Wright caught him in a critical contradiction; he screeched wildly and flung himself backward, which is his current position resulted in both his body and the chair it was seated upon crashing to the ground with an unpleasant thud. Quietly nursing the sore spots that were no doubt going to develop into bruises later that night, Gumshoe reseated himself and muttered evasively, "There's…err…no other reason, pal. No reason at all!"
He knew as soon as the words passed from his lips, however, that they were no good; Ron DeLite was being uncharacteristically perceptive today and in any event that mini-breakdown he had just exhibited hadn't exactly screamed "subtle." Shaking his head glumly, he revised his previous statement with, "Okay pal, to tell you the truth…well, there's this girl…"
As Dick Gumshoe began to explain to the former phantom thief about the infinite wonders of Maggey Byrde, he reflected ponderously that when he had chosen to pay the home of the DeLites a visit that morning, getting embroiled in a discussion of his hopeless adventures in amour had not been part of his agenda.
Indeed, his purposes for coming to call had been purely business-related; ever since that incident with Ka-Shi Nou the Republic of Cohdopia had been leaning heavily on Interpol to buckle down on the growing "eccentric" criminal element in their country, and Gumshoe's mission here was to determine whether or not the self-proclaimed Mask*DeMasque II was (or rather had been, before the portly thief had had the misfortune of crossing paths with Quercus Alba) connected in any way with his namesake. Having been satisfied within about two minutes of speaking with him that Ron had thoroughly given up his thieving ways (although he had apparently spent at least a week or so as something akin to a superhero a little while back, attempting to theatrically thwart bank robberies while the police had been largely incapacitated by the release of MC Bomber), Gumshoe had ended up engaging in small talk for the past several hours with the eminently agreeable, if rather timid, man.
Gumshoe certainly didn't mind, however – the only real disadvantage was that his car had recently been repossessed, meaning that traveling to the DeLites' had required a bus ride, and the line with the best rates had just stopped running about ten minutes prior. At this point getting home would require the bus company that the detective often referred to as "the Tender Lender of mass transportation," which meant that he wouldn't even be able to afford name-brand instant noodles for dinner tonight. Doing a quick calculation in his head caused him to realize to his horror that the only noodles he would be able to conceivably purchase with his remaining cash were the ones from Guy Eldoon's cart; their cheapness being matched only by their unending saltiness.
But noodle dilemmas aside, Gumshoe found it unbelievably refreshing to speak to someone casually for the first time in what seemed like months. He hadn't seen Kay or Mister Edgeworth or Miss von Karma at all since their last round of investigations (and given how often all three of them were out of the country these days, the detective supposed that that wasn't really much of a surprise), and as for Mister Wright or the Feys…well, they had dropped all contact the moment that the famed defense attorney had been disgraced and disbarred for introducing forged evidence in his last case. Gumshoe really wasn't sure why Mister Wright had seemingly cut everyone off at that point – something about the whole situation still seemed pretty fishy, and the detective would've gladly jumped at the task to help his spiky-haired pal get to the bottom of things if simply given the chance – but the fact remained that that appeared to be Mister Wright's method of coping with his loss, whether healthy or not.
Consequently, even the mere opportunity to speak with someone completely unrelated to all the crap that filled his professional life about various innocuous matters (for the record, Ron DeLite's favorite color was green, his favorite ice cream flavor mint chocolate-chip, and his favorite film Citizen Bane) was enough to put a smile on his unshaven face.
As was, of course, parlaying upon the subject of his most cherished person in the entire world.
"…And she's really unlucky, too, but in a kinda cute and endearing way," Gumshoe went on, Ron still listening rapturously despite the fact that the good detective had been speaking for at least five minutes non-stop about the virtues of some young woman the lanky redhead had never met in his life. But of the many things he was, Ron DeLite was not a bad listener, so he continued to nod affirmatively as the older man expounded, "For one thing, pal, she's been accused of murder at least three different times! Don't worry though, 'cause Mister Wright and Mister Edgeworth cleared her of every count…kinda. It's sorta a long story with the second trial. And that's not even mentioning all the falls, or the natural disasters, or the car accidents, or the food sicknesses, or the failed tests, or the lost jobs, or that tic-tac-toe thing…"
Given that Ron hardly had a leg to stand on when accusing others of longwindedness, the former thief waited patiently for the detective to pause for a massive catch of breath, at which point he softly interjected, "This girl sounds truly wonderful. So what is the issue, Detective?"
"It's just…I never know how to approach her," Gumshoe admitted morosely. "That's kinda why I asked about your wife and all. I mean, you're not exactly the most…y'know, assertive guy I ever met, pal. But you still managed to land your dream girl so quickly!"
"Well, for one thing, I met Dessie when I saved her from a couple of robbers," Ron related. "They had kidnapped her and taken her hostage, so I sprang into action and dispatched the hooligans!" Ron DeLite's patented self-questioning look returned immediately after this statement, however, and after a few beats he qualified, "Err, no, that's not right. Well, not precisely. What I actually did was more along the lines of running up to them and screaming in their faces with my arms flailing about…"
As his voice one more devolved into a whisper, the former phantom thief cleared his throat and began again, "Well, the point is that the first time my Dessie met me, I was coming to her rescue. I believe that that must have made a powerful first impression on her." Ron paused to refill his own cup of tea before adding, "So what about you, Detective? Under what circumstances did you first meet this young lady?"
"I was her mentor when she first began at the Police Academy," Gumshoe answered. "I've had a fair few mentees since I made detective, but Maggey was always my favorite, even before I started to feel…y'know, that way about her. She was always so spirited and optimistic, and never let all of her horrible luck get her down! So I couldn't help but show her the ropes every chance that I got, trying to shape her up to be the top officer in her class. I even fudged the paperwork and got her into an elite cop training camp one summer. Of course, that was where she met…"
Gumshoe stopped here, as it was exceedingly difficult to speak about Dustin Prince in any sort of balanced manner. On the one hand, the detective had been insanely jealous upon learning of the young officers' relationship, but on the other…well, Dustin had been an excellent policeman, there was no doubt about that. And if there was one thing that Gumshoe would absolutely never do, it was speak ill of the dead. After his humiliatingly ignominious demise (damn Richard Wellington to Hell!), Dustin deserved better than that.
"A…Anyway," Gumshoe stammered, pretending as if he hadn't left the previous sentence hanging, "I only really figured out what she meant to me after she was pushed off of the force; her first case with Mister Wright brought on too much bad publicity, according to the Chief. And after that…well, I've seen her a few times, and we're definitely friends, but I just have no idea whatsoever how to spit it out that I want something more."
"As good of a job as you've been doing so far, Ronnie, I think that I had better field this one," called out a cheerful voice from the doorway, and a moment later Desirée DeLite sauntered into the room, plopping down a crisp new shopping bag onto the kitchen table. Gumshoe noticed, however, that said bag was far leaner than one might expect from a self-professed "shopaholic;" evidently, the DeLites had come to some sort of compromise over Desirée's spending habits now that money was a lot tighter. Somehow, this notion brightened Gumshoe's mood considerably.
Once the riding suit-wearing blonde provided her husband with a deep, passionate kiss and whispered something that sounded suspiciously like "…bought something for tonight," she took a seat next to him and poured her own cup of tea.
Sipping graciously, Desirée continued, "I overheard the most pertinent parts of your story, Gummy boy, and I've got some advice for you. You say that you were this girl's mentor, that you helped her out all the time, that you took every opportunity you could get since she left the police department to keep in touch and stay friends…it sounds to me like if it's meant to happen, then she's waiting for you to make the first move – whether she knows it or not. So make that move; it doesn't have to be anything serious, just tea or coffee. Or, if you're like my Ronnie, go for something a bit more exotic…our first date took place at an aviary. The little birdies were so cute!" Apparently the fondness of the memory proved too much for Desirée's largely even composure, and she performed an action upon her husband that Gumshoe believed Kay had once described as "glomping."
Once the couple was sufficiently untangled, Ron DeLite appended, "I would listen to her if I were you, Detective Gumshoe. Women just seem to know more about these things than their male counterparts, as far as I've experienced. Err, wait, that's not right. Well, not entirely at least. What I actually meant to say was…"
Gumshoe never did get to hear what Ron actually meant to say, however, as he cut the man's degenerating speech short by politely thanking him and his wife for the tea, the company, and the advice, and bowed himself out of their home. Based on the not-so-subtle subtext of the DeLites' interactions with each other, the scruffy detective was fairly certain that Desirée was in the mood for things that he would rather not be present for.
And in any event, Dick Gumshoe now had a new mission to take care of.
After shooting off a quick report to his superiors over the evidence (or rather, lack thereof) tying the DeLites to the wider epidemic of Mask*DeMasque copycats, Gumshoe sucked in his pride (and his wallet) and rode the money-grubbing bus line to the newly refurbished Sunshine Coliseum, where he knew that Maggey had recently acquired her newest security gig. Based on his rough estimates, he would arrive there right at closing time, meaning that with any luck he might be able to catch her before she departed for the evening…
Not that luck was probably the best thing to invoke when dealing with Maggey Byrde, of course.
Still, for once, fate appeared to be on Dick Gumshoe's side tonight, as the bus soon stopped directly before the front gates of the stadium…gates that were currently being locked up by a petite young woman wearing a security uniform and some very familiar red feathers.
"M…Maggey?" Gumshoe called out as he disembarked from the overpriced vehicle, causing the irrepressibly cute girl to turn around and smile broadly.
"Sir! What a surprise!" she exclaimed, hopping to an enthusiastic salute. "What brings you to the Sunshine Coliseum, the Peppiest Place on Earth (TM), home of the original Blue Badger plywood manikin and soon to be host to the Gavinners, the hottest new rock band to grace the world since V3?"
"Do they, err, really make you say all that every time you introduce the place?" Gumshoe asked with a head scratch.
"Well, something like that, sir!" Maggey answered promptly. "The important thing is to sound natural! Did I do a good job at it, sir?"
"Err…I guess, pal," Gumshoe returned awkwardly, but this seemed sufficient for her to squeal in delight and hug him around the stomach. The good detective felt his face flush bright, and as several seconds passed and Maggey did not let go – indeed, she instead closed her eyes and rested her head against his broad chest – Gumshoe went back over the words of encouragement that the DeLites had provided him.
Dick Gumshoe had never been one for relationships. He had had a grand total of one girlfriend in his life, such as it was; he had asked his high school crush to the prom and received an affirmative response, only to be dumped two days later thanks to a rather more popular boy making the same offer. Since then his myriad of romantic misadventures could have been ample fodder for multiple Hollywood comedies, with his shut-down after hitting on Mia Fey during their mutual court debut ranking among the most brutal (of course, having since learned of what Miss Fey and Prosecutor Godot – or at that point, Diego Armando – had shared at that time, Gumshoe couldn't really begrudge the court at large for jumping on him over that overture).
But Maggey was different. All the incredible qualities that he had bored out while speaking to Ron were entirely true, but they were only part of the story. She just gave him a feeling of such unbelievable warmth whenever they interacted, her mere smile enough to drag him out of any funk or reverie.
But then, somewhere down the line, Gumshoe had resolved without even really meaning to that he was entirely unworthy of her. She deserved someone like Dustin, who had he not been killed would probably have ended up on the fast-track to becoming Chief a few years down the line, whereas he…well, was not. Rather, he was constantly dirt-poor, socially inept, and generally a nuisance to virtually everyone he met. How could he possibly measure up to such an unbelievable person as Maggey?
And yet…he had just visited the home of two people who could not conceivably be any more different, and who nevertheless had such intense chemistry that it threatened to swallow whole any room within which they resided. And their secret to why in the Hell they worked so well together, no matter what conventional wisdom might say? They just did.
"Maggey…" Gumshoe opened again. "Err…look, I was just wondering if…well, I know this place just a couple of blocks from here, and it's pretty small, but they make the best weenies…"
"Yes," Maggey interjected laconically.
"Err…excuse me?" Gumshoe asked, clearly lost.
"Yes, sir," Maggey repeated, her smile widening so much that Gumshoe almost felt like it was producing soothing music. It was certainly having the same effect on him. "Yes…I would love to go with you on a date to that weenie restaurant…I'll even help pay! Err, assuming, of course, that I'm allowed to call it a date."
And then, to Dick Gumshoe's utmost shock, she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him lightly on one of his scruffy cheeks. Then, she locked one of her arms in his, pocketed the keycard with which she had locked the gate, and began proceeding down the sidewalk in lockstep with the detective.
"Just one thing puzzles me, sir," Maggey inquired after about a minute of walking against the backdrop of the last dregs of sunset. "I've been waiting for you to make an offer like this for months now. What made you choose to ask me out tonight?"
Stunned silent for a few moments by all of the revelations that this statement entailed, Gumshoe eventually found his voice and replied honestly, "The advice of a retired costumed thief and his motorcycle-obsessed wife."
And then Maggey Byrde laughed, freely and unreservedly, and as Detective Dick Gumshoe joined into the display of unrestrained mirth he felt all of his mortal worries and concerns disappear in an instant, the entire world seeming a great deal brighter than it ever had before.