"I'm so excited," Miles exclaimed, his breath puffing out in front of him. "I'm finally going to watch my dad in court!"
Phoenix smiled, rubbing his hands together to keep warm. Unlike his friend, he hadn't brought any gloves or mittens, but he was always so forgetful like that.
"Sounds like fun. I wish I could come."
They paused at Miles' front gate.
"I'll tell you all about it on Monday," Miles said as he opened the gate. "Merry Christmas, Wright."
"Merry Christmas to you too!"
Miles jogged up to the front door, his feet crunching on the ice.
"Oh!" He spun around. "And don't forget my Original Samurai action figure!"
"Ah ha, yeah…" Phoenix rubbed the back of his head. He'd been meaning to give it back for weeks now.
"I mean it, Wright," Miles warned, his expression turning stern.
"I will, I promise!" Not that Phoenix hadn't already said that at least three times before.
Miles' expression softened. "See you Monday." With one last wave the boy turned and unlocked his front door. He left his boots on the porch and slipped inside.
That would be the last time Phoenix ever saw him.
The sky was blue – Disney fairytale blue – with not a single cloud in sight. A thin layer of frost coated everything, it never being cold enough for snow in Japifornia. Phoenix sat hunched on the seat window, forehead resting against the cool glass. He looked out glumly.
Outside, life was carrying on as usual. Joggers ran passed in their winter tracksuits, children played in their front yards, teens drew swears and rude pictures on parked cars. None of them seemed to be aware of the tragedy that had befallen Japifornia one week ago. It was all so surreal.
"Phoenix honey, it's time to go." His mother was hovering at the door, unsure of whether to come in. She'd been doing a lot of that the passed few days. Hovering, half-whispering whenever she talked to him, touching him as if he were a fragile piece of glass. She was looking at him with the same expression she'd been wearing all week. There was a constant line between her brows and whenever she smiled, it would never reach her eyes.
Phoenix sighed heavily. He took one last longing look at the street below. Two kids, a year or two younger than him, were stomping on frozen puddles, squealing in delight as they cracked. What he wouldn't give to be them, to be able to smile without a heavy stomach, to be happy.
There weren't many people at the funeral. Miles' mother had died before he'd started school and the only other living relative he'd had left besides his father had been a sickly grandfather who lived in a nursing home. The old man was closest to the graves, horribly hunched over in his wheelchair. There was a mist that covered his eyes as if he wasn't really seeing what was right in front of him. He hadn't spoken or even moved throughout the whole service.
The only other people present were Phoenix, his parents, Larry and his mother. His friend had stared blankly at nothing in particular during the service, his young mind unable to fully process what was happening.
A man in a black suit had said a few words, his monotonous voice making it difficult for Phoenix to concentrate. He remembered his great-grandmother's funeral, how people had shared stories of her life. People had laughed, smiling as they remembered better times. There was none of that here. Just a stranger in a suit, grey faces and a feeble candle struggling to stay alight.
Phoenix felt something – something his nine-year-old mind couldn't name – boiling in his stomach. Miles Edgeworth would never defend the weak and innocent, dirty prosecutors wouldn't tremble when they heard his name. In a year, his parents would forget the little boy's dream, Larry not long after. And even if his grandfather knew that too would soon fade. Phoenix doubted he'd last very long anyway…
No one would know, no one would remember. Miles' memory would fade like a whisper of smoke. Phoenix balled his fists by his side, tears threatening to fall down his cheeks. Only he would remember that day four months ago, when he saw a glimpse of the great lawyer Miles would have been. Would have been.
Instead, the man droned on about death and life continuing and other things Phoenix couldn't understand. Nothing about Miles' dream, his talents, his spirit. The words felt empty; while on any other day they'd make sense, right now to Phoenix they were meaningless.
A cold wind blew softly through the cemetery. The sky was still so absurdly blue. In movies, Phoenix had seen torrential rain, gale force winds, lightning. Nothing about this day was right.
There was a pause in the service. The man closed the little book he'd been reading from and walked over to three men in gardener's clothes. They were about to lower the coffins. Larry and his mother stayed silent, clutching onto each other as if they'd fly away if they let go. Phoenix's parents whispered to each other behind him. He could only catch a few words of their conversation.
"… Basically catatonic."
"No one should have to bury their son, let alone their grandson…"
Phoenix's shirt itched in places that shouldn't itch. His collar was uncomfortably tight around his throat. It was the first time he'd worn a tie. Not like the bow tie Miles had worn. Miles had always looked so cool in a tie. Phoenix didn't feel very cool now.
"We're going to lower the coffins now," the man said. Phoenix's mum nodded and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
After a moment of negotiation, the three men had arranged the two coffins into place. First, they lowered Mr. Edgeworth. His mum's hand tightened its grip. Once it was in place they moved over to the smaller coffin, smaller than any coffin had a right to be. Phoenix's breath hitched as his best friend was lowered into the earth. He couldn't tell when the deed was done – his eyes were too blurry with tears. And he didn't know how long he'd been standing there – by the time his mother had given him a consoling pat on his back, Larry and him mum had gone and a nurse was wheeling grandfather Edgeworth back to the car.
"C'mon honey, I think it's time to go."
Phoenix took a few hesitant steps forward, away from his parents and towards the graves. Bracing himself, he peered down at the coffins, unsure of what he'd see. But all he saw was a wooden box with a small bouquet of flowers on top. So benign, yet it disheartened him even more. This was real, this was happening.
He took a deep breath and reached into his pocket pulling out an Original Samurai action figure. Miles' Original Samurai action figure. There had been no Monday, no 'next time'. It was the first time Phoenix had really understood the phrase 'life's not fair'.
I promised. All those times and I always forgot. But not today.
Slowly, he let his fingers unfurl and the toy fell silently onto the flowers.
The gesture, he knew, didn't mean much. He hadn't kept his promise. There was nothing Miles could do with the toy now. But, in that moment, he knew how he could make it up to his friend.
You helped me when I needed it most… So, I'll defend the weak and innocent in your place. I'll become a defence attorney.
Miles Edgeworth's memory wouldn't fade like a whisper of smoke. His candle would burn on, would guide Phoenix for the rest of his life.