This was written as a gift for idealisme for the ace attorney holiday gift swap. The request was: Miles Edgeworth and Manfred von Karma: During one Christmas at the von Karma estate, Edgeworth asks Manfred about his (Edgeworth's) father.
This story is a series of vignettes covering twelve years of Christmas time in the life of Edgeworth. Please pay careful attention to the dates and ages for each scene!
December 24, 2001 – Age 9
"Shall I read you a story?"
Miles shifted under his snug blankets and looked up at his father, who leaned on the doorway to his bedroom with his dress shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows and the top buttons undone. "Yes, please," he answered.
Gregory smiled softly at his son, unfailingly polite even when half-asleep. He ran a hand through Miles's hair as the young boy yawned and settled down on his pillow, then reached toward the shelves and pulled out a familiar picture book. "How about The Night Before Christmas?"
Miles shook his head. "You read that every year. I have it memorized. And it's for children." He frowned and pouted, and Gregory had to stifle a laugh.
"All right then, something a little more grown up." He skimmed over the titles until he came to one of the well-worn books from his own childhood. "Hmm, how about a tale of ghosts, and greed, and visions of the past, present, and future?"
Miles eyed the cover with suspicion. "What's the name of the story?"
"A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. It was one of my favorites when I was your age."
Miles's eyes widened and he quickly agreed to listen.
Gregory sunk down into the maroon armchair by the bed, adjusted his glasses, and turned to the first page. "Marley was dead to begin with. There is no doubt about that…"
Miles watched his father as he read aloud, studied his face as he spoke each line. He tried to stave off sleep, to pretend he wasn't tired as he paid attention to the story; but Gregory's voice was low and rich, his bed warm and safe. Somewhere in the middle of the Ghost of Christmas Past's visit his eyes slowly drooped shut.
As though from far away, he heard his father close the book. "We'll finish tomorrow night." He felt a pair of lips press against his forehead, caught the scent of woodsy cologne. "Goodnight, son."
Miles heard his father's voice in his dreams, laughing softly.
December 24, 2002 – Age 10
Miles walked quietly against the marbled floor, trying his best to minimize the tapping of his shoes. He was learning the sounds of his new… not home. Home meant a having a family, a loving father and friends, and all of that was lost to him now.
He forced the thought out of his mind before the tears embarrassingly flowed once more. He turned the corner inside his new residence and came to a halt at the doorway of the sitting room.
On the pristine divan sat von Karma, or "Sir" as the man had immediately instructed his new ward. He was speaking with a young woman, one of the maidservants, with her long hair elegantly tied back. She noticed him waiting at the entrance and said something to von Karma. Miles couldn't understand what she said; she spoke her German so quickly. With a small nod and another quick glance at Miles, she left the room.
von Karma turned toward him. "Miles. Kommen hier. Come here." He frequently repeated his words in English, in what Miles guessed was his attempt to acclimate him to German.
He stood in front of von Karma, waiting to be addressed, and noticed a heavy book lying on the cushions. von Karma looked at him sternly. "While others may engage in needless frivolity at this time of year, the von Karmas proceed in a more dignified fashion. You will receive one gift each year." He handed Miles the book, and in his small hands it felt like holding a block of solid lead.
For a fleeting moment Miles wondered what story the pages contained; he had greatly enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes series and hoped for a new volume.
The cover was embossed in a scripted gold font: Intricacies of the German Language. von Karma spoke again as Miles traced over the filigree. "You have had enough time to become familiar with our language. Now you will become perfectly fluent in speaking, reading, and writing. I expect you to have completed this book in the next three months. You will be tested on your understanding. I hope there will be few areas in which your progress is lacking."
Miles lifted his gaze from the tome. "Thank you, Sir. I…I will not disappoint you." With a stiff nod, von Karma dismissed him.
In his room he carefully placed the book on his desk and closed his door. Even though it was early in the evening, he folded back the covers and laid down in his bed. He felt cold, and numb, despite the adequate heating. As he stared at the ceiling he found himself murmuring the verses of the Christmas poem, though his voice sounded too high-pitched and too young to his ears.
Despite his efforts, he cried quietly.
December 20, 2003 – Age 11
It was mid-morning, and Miles was writing – in fluent German – the conclusion to his essay on European history. He was interrupted by a loud, insistent knock. The door swung open and Franziska swept into his bedroom, gripping a bundle of papers and envelopes. She had a serious look on her face.
"Yes, Franziska?" he asked. Even at four years old she possessed her father's air of confidence, though she was often irritated that she did not yet have his authority.
"Miles Edgeworth! I picked up the post and am handing out the mail. Papa will be pleased at my ini… initia… that I did it myself. This is for you." She thrust a wrinkled envelope into his hands.
He looked at it with surprise. "Are you sure? I've never gotten any letters."
"Your name is written on it, fool." He frowned at the insult and wondered where she had learned it.
"Don't call people 'fool.'"
"I will call them what I want! Only Papa can tell me what to do." She flounced out of the room and Miles smirked; she looked cute when she got flustered, though she was still a brat.
He opened the envelope and found a bright red Christmas card with a hand-written note inside. Warmth spread through his chest as he saw that it was from his former friend, Phoenix Wright. From the wording it seemed Phoenix had written him before, and Miles wondered why he had not received any of his letters.
He read the card over and over, hearing Phoenix's voice in his head. A strange feeling took hold of him, and he feared what would happen should Sir find the card. He hid it in the thick German grammar book.
As he returned to his essay, Phoenix's words still tumbled around in his head.
Larry and I miss you tons. What do you want for Christmas? I hope I get a video game. Wouldn't it be cool to play them as your job? Hey, do you still want to be a lawyer like your dad? Have a Merry Christmas! Write back this time!
He idly tapped his pen against the desk, and wondered.
December 28, 2004 – Age 12
Miles glared, trying to keep his voice steady. His primary schooling would be ending soon, and he had to consider his future in the choice of secondary schooling. He had practiced this speech for the last two weeks in his room, and had chosen this particular day to firmly tell his guardian his career ambitions. "Sir, I don't think you understand-"
"Do not interrupt me!" von Karma pounded his cane on the dark hardwood floor, the echo reverberating throughout the hall. "Do you not understand the reason why I took you in?"
"Sir, I'm very grateful for everything you've done for me, but it has always been my dream to become a defense attorney, like my…" He trailed off as von Karma started laughing, a low and hollow sound that sent a shiver down Miles's spine.
"I see that you do not understand at all. It would be difficult for a child to realize, but you are no longer a mere boy." He fixed Miles with a sharp look, his eyes shining eerily bright from the flames in the fireplace. "It was not out of a sense of kindness that I agreed to raise you. It was to allow you the opportunity to… make amends."
"What do you mean, Sir?"
"Do you not remember the bailiff in the elevator the night your father died? His attorney helped him to go free, allowed him to get away with his crime. Are you so ignorant as to what defense attorneys do? All of them are aids to criminals. They allow the guilty to roam free."
Miles shifted his feet awkwardly, unwilling to believe that every defense attorney aided the guilty. That would mean…
von Karma's smile turned sinister. "But even if that knowledge will not change your mind… Miles, have you not considered all the evidence? As I recall, there were three people in that elevator. You threw the gun. What happened then, I wonder?"
Miles felt his blood run cold. The secret fear, hidden deep in his heart, pushed its way to the front of his mind. The thought had kept him up some nights, a baleful voice that whispered the words he didn't want to face.
I killed him. I killed my father.
Trembling with a mix of rage, self-loathing, and terror, Miles stared at von Karma with wide eyes.
"The law would not look kindly upon a murderer, no matter his age or circumstances. It was fortunate I was able to intervene." von Karma walked behind him, his footsteps heavy. "And this is what you would do with the life that I give you? Defend the actions of criminals?"
Like yourself. The words hung unspoken in the air.
von Karma's hand dropped upon his shoulder. "On this auspicious day, you should consider what you can do to ensure that all criminals are properly punished, to not let another one get away. That cannot occur if you choose to take the lesser side of the courtroom. The von Karma way is… perfect."
Miles lowered his head. "T-Thank you for your advice, Sir. Perhaps… I should become a prosecutor after all." The hand on his shoulder squeezed painfully tight.
"I think that would be for the best."
The nightmares began that night.
December 24, 2006 – Age 14
The image of Gregory Edgeworth stared out from the photograph, forever calm and serious. Miles studied the picture, eyes darting between it and the mirror in front of him. As a boy he never thought he resembled his father, but now that he was growing into an adult he searched for traces of the man in the photo in his own features.
His face had lost its childish roundness, revealing a strong jaw that matched his father's. His nose and mouth seemed similar, though it was hard to judge. His hair was much lighter and finer, framing his face instead of sweeping back. He observed with some chagrin that he had inherited his father's perpetual cowlick at the back. Miles thought he would have grown out of it by now but it seemed he was doomed to endure it; he hoped he could maintain his father's dignity even if his hair refused to cooperate.
Most notable were their eyes. They differed in color – while Gregory's were a rich brown, Miles had a lighter grey pair. Nevertheless, Miles's eyes were an exact copy of his father's: same shape, same set, they even caught the light in the same way.
He had heard once that the spirits of the dead lived on in those who remembered them. He looked back into the mirror and for a moment he thought he saw his father gazing back at him. He quickly set the picture frame back on the desk, unnerved, and headed for the sitting room.
Some of the armchairs had been removed to make room for an enormous evergreen, tastefully decorated in blue and white candles by the maidservants. The tree had been brought in at Franziska's insistence. She had loudly overruled von Karma's disdain of the holidays and instead declared that they were to have a perfectly perfect Christmas, which included the biggest tree, the finest meal, and proper presents. He smiled faintly as he looked at the bundle of gifts under the branches, and felt immensely grateful to her for reminding him of happier times.
As they dined on a fat roasted goose, Miles looked carefully at both Franziska and von Karma. He could see some resemblance between the two, and he wondered if Franziska would grow up to be like her father.
He wondered whom he would grow up to be like.
December 21, 2008 – Age 16
"You will be pleased to see, Sir, that I have excelled in all subjects. I passed the first round of examinations; the instructors believe I am one of the most promising students and that I am well on my way to earning the right to prosecute in Germany." Miles stood tall in front of von Karma as his guardian looked over his papers. "I believe I have exceeded your expectations as well."
von Karma favored him with a tight smile. "I expect nothing but perfection from you, Edgeworth." He must have noticed the slightly puzzled look on his ward's face, for the smile morphed into a smirk. "You should become accustomed to answering to your surname. It is how you will be addressed in court, and the name by which I will refer to you henceforth."
Miles – Edgeworth – straightened. "Yes, Sir."
von Karma stood from his desk to look out the window at the snow-covered grounds. This time of year invariably reminded him of the imperfection in his record. Just uttering the name 'Edgeworth' tasted like venom in his mouth.
He knew the boy must become a prosecutor soon if his revenge was to be carried out to its fullest; he needed to speed along the process. "Perhaps it is time that I allow you and Franziska to accompany me to the courtroom for your legal internships: to observe how to properly prosecute, how to obtain a just and guilty verdict, and how to perfectly conduct a trial. Such first-hand experience should be more valuable than mere academic practice."
Edgeworth blinked, surprised at the sudden gesture. "O-Of course, Sir. I would be happy to observe your trials."
The man suddenly rounded on him. "That is something that has no place in the courtroom – sentiment. Emotion can cloud one's judgment. Only facts and evidence belong at the prosecutor's bench. Do not be so foolish."
Edgeworth looked away, his arm gripping at his elbow; he wondered when he had started doing that. "Yes, Sir."
von Karma considered him for a moment. He was pleased that the boy had picked up some of his mannerisms – he was proving easier to mold than he had hoped. "First you will acquire a wardrobe befitting the court. I will provide you with appropriate clothing. Second, you will remain silent and attentive during the proceedings. I will expect a full report of each trial the next morning. And finally," he paused, allowing his next words to attain their proper weight, "you will observe the futility of efforts to defend the guilty. Everyone who is brought to trial is guilty of some crime, and you will ensure that they receive their proper punishment."
Edgeworth nodded solemnly. He had been naïve in his desire to become a defense attorney. His father must have been a rare exception, for he was beginning to understand that such attorneys were not protecting their clients from injustice but were instead helping offenders dodge the law. Instead of caring for the good of others, they only cared about themselves.
He bowed and took his leave of von Karma, and tried to ignore the small pang of guilt in his stomach.
December 25, 2010 – Age 18
The loud smack of a riding crop landing on the table jolted him out of his musings. "Little brother, Papa wishes to see you in his study." Franziska returned the crop to her side with a smirk, pleased at startling the young man.
"You should be careful with that implement," he said. "And shouldn't you call me your older brother?"
"I have been a von Karma longer than you have and I will become a prosecutor before you do; therefore, in every way that matters you are my little brother." She stroked the handle of the crop absently. Edgeworth suspected she had begun carrying it in order to be taken more seriously by the older adults always surrounding her. Though his own childhood had been interrupted, in a way she had never had one at all, and for a moment he pitied her.
Then she whacked his upper arm with the crop, leaving a sharp sting. "Foolish fool, go and see Papa now!"
von Karma had arrived earlier that day from his visit to America and Edgeworth had worked diligently in his absence, organizing paperwork and prepping case files for his mentor's return. Though von Karma's methods were brutal they were nevertheless effective, and Edgeworth had learned much at his side. He was in awe at how perfectly von Karma got his guilty verdict each time.
In the study von Karma poured over a ream of papers, a glass of expensive merlot in hand. He looked up as Edgeworth knocked on the open door and gave him a small bow.
"Sir? You wished to see me?"
"Indeed." von Karma picked up a pile of papers and handed him the stack. "Your Christmas present. You will complete these forms within the next two days."
Edgeworth's eyes widened as he looked at the papers. "Sir, these are… You mean, I will…"
von Karma gave a low laugh. "You will soon be qualified to prosecute in Germany, once you complete your examinations. I have arranged for you to also take the bar exam in America when you have finished, and I believe it would be best for you to begin your career in your home country. You should make arrangements for an extended stay within the next few months. Of course, I will accompany you."
He hadn't been to America since he first arrived in Germany. Thoughts of home, of school and friends and bedtime stories, threatened to overwhelm him, though he carefully controlled his expression.
"Thank you, Sir. I will finish as quickly as possible." He would return to Los Angeles, to his old city, where he first had dreams of becoming an attorney. To where he had last seen his father alive. He turned to leave, but those damnable feelings wouldn't be quelled.
"Sir? May I… ask a personal question?"
von Karma lifted an eyebrow and took a long sip of his wine. "I suppose it is Christmas. You may ask me one question."
He drew in a steadying breath. "The first time I met you, Sir, was on the day you faced my father in court. What… did you think of him?"
von Karma looked away sharply, gripping his arm. "Gregory Edgeworth." A muscle near his eye twitched. "He was a defense attorney of some renown. It was a shame he chose the wrong side of the courtroom, but he seemed to be an… honest kind of man. Stubborn. Persistent. Thorough in investigations, though he did not know when to let something go." His jaw was clenched tight, causing his words to sound clipped.
Edgeworth, though, did not notice. He drank every word in, committing them to memory. He waited for von Karma to continue, looking at him expectantly. His mentor gave him a piercing glare.
"You are like him in more ways than one."
Surprised, Edgeworth let slip the question he really wanted to ask. "Do you believe he would be proud of me?"
Not after I am done with you. von Karma smirked. "I said you may ask one question. Now, I must return to my work. See that Franziska receives the American law textbook I obtained for her; it should be under the tree."
Edgeworth walked toward his room, his mind a miasma of thoughts, memories, and emotion. He was elated and disappointed all at the same time, and he spent a long while looking at the photograph of his father.
He vowed to become a perfect prosecutor.
December 27, 2012 – Age 20
Edgeworth hesitated for a moment before he entered his apartment and turned on the lights; some irrational part of him hoped that something would be different once he could properly see. Yet the lights revealed the same familiar sight: tasteful décor, expensive furniture, everything orderly and pristine.
It felt sterile and empty.
He should have been satisfied: he had won all of his cases, he was proudly upholding the von Karma tradition of perfection, and he was already earning a reputation as a prosecutor to be feared.
His mentor had returned to Germany to secure a position for Franziska, trusting Edgeworth to maintain his perfect progress. The other prosecutors avoided him and the staff gave him a wide berth, and he had little time to socialize or cultivate friendships. Only that bumbling detective attempted to earn his favor; the man dogged his steps and looked like a kicked puppy whenever he scolded him or threatened to dock his salary, and Edgeworth barely had the patience to put up with him.
For the first time in his life, Edgeworth was truly alone. He placed the picture of his father face down and tried to forget the next day's anniversary.
By eight o'clock he was embarrassed to realize he was intensely, utterly lonely. Sir would not want to be interrupted, Franziska was most likely busy studying, and he dared not approach one of his colleagues for fear of appearing weak. He was considering buying a meal for Gumshoe when a jolt of inspiration shook him.
One hour later he returned with a pure-bred puppy. Never before had he owned any sort of animal, though he had longed for a dog as a child. Such a companion should fulfill his emotional needs.
He smirked as he brought the pup into the living room. "What shall I call you?"
The dog gave a quick bark and tilted its head. After a moment's consideration he decided on the nonsense name of Pess.
He ruffled Pess's fur and vowed to spend the following day not moping or dwelling, but doing research and buying all the proper equipment to care for a puppy. Pess licked his fingers and nuzzled his hand.
For the first time in what felt like a very long time he smiled and laughed, joyous and childlike and happy.
December 25, 2015 – Age 23
'The Demon Prosecutor.' Edgeworth scoffed as he set the newspaper aside on his desk. Let them think what they will. He swiveled his chair slightly to gaze out the window at the overcast Los Angeles skyline. His office usually offered a nice view, but the dreary clouds sapped the vibrancy from the city.
Nearly four years of maintaining a perfect record would be enough to break most people. Add in the constant scrutiny, mistrust, and lack of a social life, and his mood was as bleak as the weather.
Ever since that horrid Darke trial the media had taken a particular fascination with Edgeworth. He supposed he should be flattered in some way, but all the interest merely served to perpetuate the rumors about him. He knew that some of his actions were questionable, that he frequently employed the underhanded tricks he had learned from von Karma to obtain his guilty verdicts; but the only things that mattered were perfection and putting criminals behind bars, and if he had to play dirty to do that then so be it.
A quick rap on his door caught his attention and he turned to see Chief Prosecutor enter. "I thought you would be here," Lana Skye said, walking toward him. "Only you and I are the type to work on Christmas these days."
"Is there something you need, Ms. Skye?"
She looked at him, her stare intense, and he felt as though she were searching for something. After a long moment she opened the folder in her arms and placed a Christmas card on the polished desk. "This is from my sister, Ema. You might remember her. She seems to be quite taken with you."
He glanced at the card – a pink affair with an inscription inside – and nodded. "Give her my thanks. I hope she is doing well."
"Perhaps you should tell her yourself. We are having a small dinner tonight, the two of us. You are welcome to join us."
"I…" He cut short the snide remark he was going to make about not being interested in a holiday fling. There was no coy look on her face, no hidden motive. "Thank you for your kindness, Ms. Skye, but I will have to decline."
She gave him that same intense gaze. "If you change your mind, let me know. It helps to be around people on Christmas."
Once she left he opened his drawer to get rid of the card and noticed the one already lying there. He had almost forgotten about it.
Miles, Merry Christmas! I hope you read this. I'm almost done with my law degree, so I guess I'll see you in court soon. Those stories about you aren't true, I know it. You are a good person, and I'll prove it!
Yet another message from Phoenix Wright. He had nearly put his old friend out of his mind along with all the other memories of childhood; he only had a vague impression of spiky hair and a goofy grin and a solemn promise to always be friends.
He quickly shoved both cards into the drawer and pulled over another case file.
He truly hated this time of year.
December 30, 2016 – Age 24
It was over.
After fifteen years of torment and self-loathing, Edgeworth now knew for certain that he had not killed his father. He felt unsteady, as if the removal of that burden from his conscience had literally thrown him off balance. He had been filled with such relief, such unrestrained joy at proving his innocence, uncovering his father's murderer, and even rekindling his friendship with Wright that the implications of the trial had not dawned on him at first.
He woke in his bed with a leaden feeling in his stomach, an ache that threatened to overwhelm him. There had been no nightmare – his dreams had been empty. He had nothing to dream about. The realization came suddenly: he was now empty. His life after his brief childhood had been a lie. All he had believed in, the person he had become, everything was for one man's cheap, petty revenge.
He had turned into a monster. The thought sickened him.
He hadn't visited the grave of Gregory Edgeworth since the first week he returned to America. The earth was hard and cold as he sank to his knees in front of the headstone.
What could he say? Was it not some sign of his fragile mental state that he desired to speak to those who were dead?
"I… I'm sorry."
The words fell from his lips before he could stop them. "I'm so sorry." He had turned his back on everything he learned from his father. He had let von Karma twist him into a mockery of what he dreamed of being. He had believed he was a murderer, and that the only way to atone was to prosecute the guilty.
If they were even guilty. He had become consumed with perfection at all costs.
What would his father say?
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." The litany of apologies spilled softly, and he was ashamed to realize his eyes were filled with tears.
Unbidden, the memory of reading A Christmas Carol entered his thoughts; it was the last story he ever heard from his father. He felt like Ebenezer, huddled before a grave with his name on it, knowing that he had become something terrible. The old man could choose to either become warm and kind and generous, or he could continue his wicked manner and work his way into a forgotten six-foot hole in the ground. Even as a child, the thought that a man could alter his being so quickly and completely seemed credulous; how could one bury their old self if not through death?
He knew what he would choose.
December 31, 2017 – Age 25
Lufthansa flight 1013 to Los Angeles is now boarding.
The metallic German voice over the loudspeaker interrupted Edgeworth's thoughts. He snapped his phone closed and slipped it into his coat pocket, and folded the newspaper beneath his arms as he shuffled along with the other fliers in line.
He could still see the picture of Franziska in his mind, haughty and proud despite the news of her unexpected loss in the American courts. He felt a twinge of sympathy – after all, his own perfect record had been shattered by the same attorney. However, he did not think she would be very pleased if she knew the real reason behind her defeat; he could not repress the smirk that graced his face as he recalled Gumshoe's enthusiasm at carrying out his suggested search.
The detective was surprisingly good at keeping a secret. He was the only one in the district with whom Edgeworth had made any contact in the past year, and he had not told a soul as to the prosecutor's whereabouts. Edgeworth had especially instructed him to make no mention to Wright about his stay overseas.
Ah, Wright. He supposed he would soon have to come face-to-face with the man who had turned his whole world upside down. The spikey-haired attorney had certainly occupied his thoughts in the last few months. As he settled into his first-class seat, feeling the familiar drop in his stomach as the plane took off, he wondered what Wright would think about his profoundly different perspective on their profession.
In his younger years Edgeworth had scoffed at the prospect of 'soul-searching.' Such a term implied weakness, an uncertainty of one's position and goals in life; and yet he had spent the better part of a year confronting and exorcising his demons. He had learned that one simple thing had liberated him from his nightmares, from the man he had become, and would serve as his new guiding principle in his life's work.
What was the phrase? You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.
Though it could not fully dispel all his old fears. He gripped the armrests tightly as the plane gently shook with turbulence; after a few moments the flight resumed its steady course.
Yes, the old Miles Edgeworth had chosen death, and like his friend's namesake he had risen anew. He smiled slightly as he realized he looked forward to meeting with Wright again, to sharing with him all he had learned during his sojourn.
Indeed, what would Wright say about this new Edgeworth?
December 24, 2018 – Age 26
Edgeworth felt more relaxed than he had in a long while. He had shed his burgundy coat and cravat and was careful not to spill any of the wine on his silk waistcoat. Wright sat next to him, his own jacket and tie long gone, and he noticed a small red blot staining the tail of his white dress shirt. Edgeworth smirked as he refilled his friend's glass with more pinot noir.
"This tastes fantastic, Edgeworth. I don't think I could ever afford something this fancy," Wright said.
"Of course not. You fritter away your wages on feeding your incorrigible assistant."
"Yeah, but… well, no, I can't argue with that. But at least I'll get a good Christmas meal out of it tomorrow." Wright grinned lopsidedly as he sipped his wine. "You know, I can't really believe you agreed to come to Kurain for the holiday."
Edgeworth was still a little astonished himself. He wasn't due to return to Europe until after the new year, and Miss Fey and her cousin had been eager for him to join them – and he had been told once that it was good to spend Christmas around people.
"It is no more surprising than you joining me this evening." To his slight embarrassment, Edgeworth felt his face grow warmer.
Wright smiled as he set his glass down and stretched back against the plush sofa. "Hey Miles, do you remember the class Christmas party when we were kids?"
"Are you referring to when Larry decided to throw 'cupcake balls' since there was no snow for snowballs? He ruined my shirt and bow tie. I was mortified."
"Yeah, but it was still funny. Besides, your dad brought up a new set of clothes for you, so you weren't covered in icing all day."
"Hmm." At the mention of his father Edgeworth swirled his drink and set it down, his eyes sad and focused somewhere far away.
Phoenix looked over, eyebrows furrowed until he realized what he had just said. He leaned closer to Edgeworth until his shoulder brushed against his friend's.
"I remember your dad, too. He was always so nice to us, even when he could tell you were annoyed with us. He'd smile at you and push his glasses up like this." He mimed pushing lenses along his nose with his finger.
Edgeworth nodded, throat tight as he also remembered.
The attorney smiled fondly. "You wanted to be just like him."
He swallowed. "Yes, well, we both know how that turned out."
"Miles." Edgeworth lifted his brows at the sudden seriousness in Wright's tone. "He would be proud of you. I know it."
Edgeworth ducked his head, letting his bangs hide his expression. After a long moment he heard Wright say quietly, "You know, I'm proud of you, too."
He finally looked up, found Wright watching him intently, and felt his gaze soften and his face heat up once again. "Thank you, Phoenix."
They fell quiet. Phoenix fidgeted on the sofa before suddenly downing the rest of his wine. He set the glass back on the table and turned toward the prosecutor. "So Miles, there's something I've been wanting to ask you."
"What is it?"
"Well, it's more like something I've wanted to do. For a long time, actually." Edgeworth was startled to feel Phoenix's rough hand grasp his cheek, turning his head toward the attorney. "If… If you don't want to, or aren't like that, or just don't… Just, just say so, all right?"
Edgeworth started to frown and was about to ask him to stop babbling and start making sense; but then Phoenix closed his eyes and tilted his head, and the little pink slip of his tongue darted out to wet his lips, and Edgeworth suddenly understood.
Phoenix leaned toward him, and for an instant Edgeworth considered everything this could mean, all that could change, and whether he wanted this man to once again turn his world around.
Then he realized that the truth, the simple Truth, was that he wanted this man, this stubborn, persistent, remarkable man, who had never forgotten him and who had saved him.
He shut his own eyes and surged forward, and caught the dark taste of wine on Phoenix's lips. And as the kiss grew more passionate, as Phoenix pulled the prosecutor down onto the sofa and they began their first night together, Miles found himself thinking that perhaps Nick really was a saint, that a Scrooge could be reformed, and that Christmas was truly a wonderful time of year after all.