"I'm so sorry, Edgeworth."
The prosecutor scowls in annoyance.
"I told you it's fine, Wright. It's not like I have never dealt with children before. I was used to being left alone with my sister all my youth."
"Yes well... Trucy, she's no Franziska."
"Everything will be fine. Just don't get too used to it."
"Thanks, Edgeworth, you're a life-saver. I'll drop her off at your place at 6 this evening before going for my job interview."
"I don't get why you're so set on this job. You would just have to appeal..."
"See you this evening, Edgeworth."
He drops Trucy at the given time, after one whole hour spent to try and explain that he was not abandoning her, he was only leaving her at Uncle Miles's for a few hours, and he would come back very soon.
She almost throws a tantrum, but when Phoenix knocks on the door, loud barks are heard on the other side, and Trucy's eyes widen in pleasure.
When Edgeworth opens the door, holding the collar of a very enthusiastic Pess, Trucy squeals in delight and seems to forget everything about Phoenix leaving for the evening.
"Edgeworth. This is Trucy. Trucy, meet Uncle Miles. He'll take care of you for a while and I'll be back before you know it."
Trucy is not even looking at him.
"Can I pet the dog?"
Her eyes are pleading, and Phoenix swears he saw a tiny smile on Edgeworth's face, one of these smiles that warms him up everytime, except this time it's not directed towards him, but towards his new protege.
"Of course, Miss Trucy. There, you can hold her."
She dives on the dog, petting her and calling her a good doggy and already Phoenix and Miles are forgotten.
"Thank you again. I'll be back soon."
"Good luck, Wright."
When he comes back, only a small "You can enter!" answers his knock on the door.
As he does he finds Trucy asleep on Edgeworth's lap in front of the TV running what seems to be an episode of the Steel Samurai.
His heart swells.
Trucy has only been with him for one week, but at this precise moment, he realizes that without a doubt, she has become his precious child in his heart.
Edgeworth welcomes him.
"How has she been?"
"Fine. You did well to explain what was happening, and she didn't seem scared. She really loves Pess."
Phoenix has a small laugh.
"Yeah, I could have bet she'd love her."
"How have you been?"
"I got the job. I start next week. It should be fine."
Edgeworth's face is unreadable.
"Yeah, well... I... I am sorry I didn't tell you everything when it happened."
"You mean, being disbarred and adopting a little child?"
"Yes, well... it just... I just couldn't leave her... like that. She was alone. The first week has been so hard, Edgeworth. She'd wake up from a nightmare, screaming, and it'd wake me up, and I'd realize that everything had not been a mere nightmare, and that I really didn't have my badge anymore, and that I'd really have a child to take care of from now on, and I didn't even know where to start, I mean, how do you raise a child?"
"You still should have called."
"Yes. I should have. But I couldn't. I had to... I had to realize that it was the truth. And that I had to face it. And that I had to look for a new job."
"Would you have even told me if you hadn't needed someone to take care of her this evening?"
Phoenix's eyes widen.
"Of course I would have! I... Edgeworth, it was just so complicated, and I didn't want to add to your own troubles. The last few weeks have been rough for you too, right? I saw the papers."
"And you thought I wouldn't see the papers too?"
Phoenix made a face.
"Of course you would. But... See, it was complicated. I'm sorry I didn't call you earlier."
"I... I guess I should wake her up. Trucy? Hey, Trucy?"
The little girl slowly opens startled eyes.
"Oh, Phoenix! You're back! I'm really happy you are. How was it?"
Phoenix's smile widens as she jumps from Edgeworth's lap to circle his legs with her tiny arms. He bends down and picks her up in his own arms.
"It went fine. I have a new job."
"That's great, Phoenix! I'm really happy."
Her tiny arms squeeze him and Phoenix is now absolutely sure he was meant to raise this child.
"Okay, let's say thank you and good night to Uncle Miles now, we're going back home."
Trucy turns to Edgeworth and gives him a toothy grin.
"Thank you Uncle Miles! Can I come pet Pess some other time too?"
Edgeworth's face softens.
"Of course you can, Trucy."
He then turns to Phoenix, as the man helps Trucy in her small coat.
"Wright. Tell me next time you need a hand."
"I will, Edgeworth. Thank you again."
"No problem. Good night to the both of you."
"Good night, Uncle Miles!"
"Night, Edgeworth. I'll call you."
They go through the door and start walking back to the bus stop.
"Phoenix, why don't you call Uncle Miles Uncle Miles?"
Phoenix knows it's going to be a long way home.
It's the third time Miles Edgeworth babysits Trucy, although Phoenix would never dare call him a "babysitter". Not in front of him, at least.
Most of Phoenix's shifts are at night, and when Larry is not free to help, Trucy goes back to Uncle Miles's. As much as she loves Uncle Larry who always tells great stories and allows her to use his crayons to draw, she prefers Uncle Miles because he has a dog.
She does not fail to remark it when Phoenix comes and gets her that evening. It makes Edgeworth's eyes shine a little with pride, Phoenix cannot help but notice.
She goes to gather her belongings and Edgeworth looks at her for a little while before turning to the other man.
"She's a sweet child."
"That she is. She's amazing. She cares so much, she is lively, she's everything I could have dreamt of. I don't know how I could carry on without her."
Once more, Edgeworth has this unreadable expression that Phoenix is beginning to get used to.
"I'm relieved you both have each other."
"Yeah... yeah, me too. She helps me keep going. Bringing her to school rhythms my days and I feel like everything is not lost. Edgeworth, seriously, it's only been a few weeks, but this little girl has become the light of my life."
Edgeworth merely nods. He looks about to say something, but Trucy suddenly barges in, all smile and pink clothes and happiness.
"Alright, I'm ready, Phoenix! I even already said goodbye to Pess. Let's go!"
Phoenix gives her a small smile.
"You're right, Trucy. We can't bother Uncle Miles for too long."
"Thank you, Uncle Miles!"
She circles her arms around the man's legs and squeezes and Phoenix swears he sees the hint of a blush on the prosecutor's face.
"You're very welcome, Miss Trucy."
"Take good care of yourself and Pess!"
"And take good care of yourself and Phoenix."
Does that make me the dog? Phoenix slightly wonders, but he barely has the time to react before Trucy takes his hand and pushes him towards the door.
"Bye, Edgeworth. Thank you so much for everything again."
"Anytime, Wright. Anytime."
When they get to the bus stop, Trucy throws him a conspiratorial glance and a bright smile.
"You know, Phoenix. I kind of really like Uncle Miles."
Phoenix mirrors her smile.
"Yeah, Trucy, I know. I kind of really like him too."
It's barely a whisper, and even the eight-year-old can notice the heartfelt melancholy behind it.
"When will you call him Uncle Miles too, then?"
Phoenix frowns. No matter how much closer this babysitting experience brought them, he didn't think it was a step he was just ready to take.
"I can't do it anymore, Wright."
Phoenix's eyes widen. This time, it's Edgeworth who's on his doorstep, and there's no dog. He didn't even expect the man to visit. It was a regular, quiet evening, and Trucy was already in her bed. And then there was a knock at the door, and Edgeworth didn't even say hello.
"What... What do you mean you can't..."
He tries to recover from his surprise.
"...please come in. We are not having a conversation on my doorstep."
Edgeworth gets inside and Phoenix closes the door, but the other man makes no move towards the couch, and just stands up in the middle of the living room.
"It won't take long. I can't take Trucy anymore, I'm sorry."
"What happened? Are you in danger? Is there anything wrong at your place?"
Edgeworth sighs deeply at the sudden wave of concern coming from Phoenix.
"No, Wright. Everything is fine."
"Work. Interpol called me to assist Franziska on her cases in Europe. I'll be joining her in two days, I don't know for how long."
"Oh. That's... right."
Phoenix feels his composure slowly break. Since he came back from Borginia and the whole case with the P.I.C., he expected Edgeworth to stay and help clean up the prosecutorial office.
He certainly didn't expect that the man would go again as soon as he could.
"What about Pess?"
"I found her a nice shelter. I know she won't be afraid and will be well taken care of."
What about us? Phoenix really wants to ask. But he doesn't dare say it loud.
He feels quite cold.
"Trucy will miss you."
I will miss you.
"I guess she will. But you both have each other, don't you? And now you have a new stable situation, we don't have to work together anymore."
Oh. So that was the real problem.
"We've already been over it, Edgeworth. My badge is gone."
"I know, Wright. And I still have a hard time believing it."
Yes. I know. Me too. I still have nightmares about it.
But Phoenix feels so powerless facing what appears to him like a very egoistic decision coming from Edgeworth, so he's not about to tell him that.
His helplessness turns into anger.
"Edgeworth, you lost your badge too like, two weeks before I did!"
"And I got it back three days later. Where's your badge, now, Wright? It's been months, and I haven't seen you trying to do anything to reclaim it."
"Now that you have a steady income, you could try and take the bar again. You could have done it months ago. We could be working together now. You work on the evening, Wright. I know your days are free. What are you even doing during the day?"
Moping. Trying to forget it's not a nightmare. Cleaning, mostly. Carrying the weight of losing faith in himself. Carrying the weight of his daughter's well-being, as she finally started calling him Daddy only a few days ago and it had made his heart swell with so many emotions that he had spent the night crying.
Trying to carry on. Trying not to think that he is not worthy anymore for Miles Edgeworth.
"I'm sorry, Wright. Some of us still believe in finding the truth."
"It's... fine. We'll stay in touch by phone."
"You don't know how demanding those cases can be. I can assure you I won't be reachable for a while."
Phoenix swears he can hear his heart start to break.
"I'll... I'll see you when you get back here?"
"I highly doubt that. I'm not even sure if I'll get back here one day."
"There is nothing waiting for me here."
Phoenix is taken aback by the coldness in Edgeworth's voice.
"But you're a prosecutor from the office of Los Angeles!"
"Maybe not for long anymore."
"My decision is taken already, Wright. I'm sure you will fare well, and take good care of Trucy."
At the mention of Trucy, Phoenix feels a slight pang of anger burning in him.
He's abandoning her too.
"Fine. Fine. Yes, I'll take care of her. By myself. Go do that important dream job of yours, go to the other side of the world..."
"We can't all affort the luxury of failing miserably to follow the one path that really means something! You're not even trying anymore, Wright!"
Edgeworth shouted. Phoenix stops dead in his track. How dares he?
"Go, Miles. I'll be fine trying to find other meanings. Go to your so beloved truth."
The other quickly recomposes himself.
"Goodbye, Wright. And good luck in your new life. Farewell."
The door slams. Phoenix is frozen on place, bewildered.
That did not just happen.
Phoenix hears tiny steps come from behind him.
"Daddy... Uncle Miles isn't really gone, is he?"
"I don't know, Truce. I think he is."
His voice is no more than a murmur, and it breaks at the end.
They both stare emptily at the door that Miles Edgeworth just slammed behind him without looking back.
"You did call him Miles."
This time his heart breaks for good. He puts Trucy back to bed before going to his room. He does not sleep that night, crying his eyes out instead. The pain of seeing Edgeworth disappear on him was becoming too familiar.
"I miss Uncle Miles."
Phoenix sighs a strained little sigh that hides the whole inner turmoil only hearing Miles's names pronounced up loud lays on him.
"I do too, sweetheart. But I thought we'd agreed we stopped talking about him."
It's hard to explain a nine-year-old how people can come and go in life.
They're on their way back from school, and Phoenix's shift is over. They're going to have a quiet evening together, and he's happy that he doesn't have the night shift this time. He can do with the extra time with his daughter.
A voice in his back suddenly interrupts his plans for the evening.
"...Wright? Phoenix Wright?"
He stops and turns to discover that the one calling him was a long-haired blond man with glasses.
"Gavin... Kristoph, is that it?"
The man smiles a bright smile and holds his hand out.
"Fancy meeting you here."
"Daddy, who is that?"
"Ah... This is Kristoph Gavin, Trucy. He's an attorney, like Daddy was before."
"Oh, so you're also helping mean people escape?"
"Sorry. Her experience of the courtroom hasn't been the best."
"It's fine. It's an honour, actually."
"An honour? Meeting a disbarred lawyer and his daughter in the middle of the street? I hardly think so. I've only heard good things about you, Gavin. You'll stain your reputation if you're seen with me."
"I believe in you, Mr Wright."
Phoenix is at a loss for words.
"How about we discuss it around a meal some day in the week? Are you free next Wednesday?"
Phoenix is so surprised he doesn't even think of a witty retort.
He believes in me.
He wishes those words had come from someone else. But it is enough for him to give a chance to the man. It is just the support he needs.
"Ah... Uh... I believe I am, yes. I'd be glad to share a meal, Mr Gavin."
Trucy is overjoyed when she discovers that Uncle Kristoph has a golden retriever and rushes to pet the dog and play with him.
Kristoph has come to their house a few times, always careful to bring a new plush toy or magic prop for Trucy, and the child has slowly learnt to know him.
So has Phoenix.
It is the first time he invits them at his own house, though. Phoenix is touched at the trust he has found in Kristoph.
The only man who stood up for him when all others had abandoned him. It still hurts a lot, everyday, but hey, at least he got to meet him.
Trucy spends part of the afternoon playing with Vongole, before joining them for a few board games. Phoenix swears he hasn't seen her so happy since... a long time ago.
"You raised a good child, Phoenix."
Phoenix beams with pride.
"She mostly did it herself. She's an amazing child. I don't know what I would do without her."
His heart twists a little when he realizes how familiar this situation is, but this is the present, and Kristoph is here and happy to be here.
"Kristoph. You're not planning on me getting my badge back, are you?"
Kristoph looks startled.
"Where did that come from, Phoenix?"
"Ah, it's... nothing. I don't know. I'm afraid you might be... annoyed? Thinking I'm not trying enough?"
"Phoenix. You made your choices. I respect them. As long as you and your daughter are happy, I'm happy too."
Phoenix smiles, relieved. Kristoph is not going anywhere. Kristoph is not leaving him. Kristoph is happy with him.
As Trucy and him are waiting at the bus stop, after bidding their goodbyes and thanking Kristoph for a great afternoon, Trucy raises her head to face her father.
"You know, Daddy, I kind of like Uncle Kristoph."
Phoenix smiles. He thinks of Kristoph's serene, smiling face, and he feels like things could work out.
"You know, I kind of like him too."
Phoenix is anything but happy when he gets a call from the school in the middle of the afternoon. He puts on his best Angry Dad look when he gets her after having been announced that she has been suspended for two days and on the walk home, he loses no time in scolding her.
"Trucy Wright. What is wrong with you?"
"What came up that made you think you could get away with beating up one of your classmates? This is not how I raised you."
"Daddy, the other children at school kept making fun of me."
Phoenix feels a pang of anger at that mere statement. Suddenly her recent demeanor seems a lot more acceptable.
I'm going to kill the brats who dare make fun of my daughter.
"Because I... Because I don't have a Mommy. And they think it's weird."
Phoenix is dumbfounded. He had forgotten how cruel children could be. Before he can say anything, Trucy goes on and looks at him hopefully.
"Will I ever have a Mommy, Daddy? Will you get me a new one?"
Facing the eyes of this nine-year-old who had never done anything wrong but to be a the wrong place at the wrong time is heartbreaking.
He wasn't prepared to have this conversation, but there was no avoiding it.
"Not everyone has a Daddy and a Mommy, Trucy. Sometimes they split up."
"Did you split up with someone who could have been my Mommy? Was it... was it because of me?"
Her eyes are filled with guilt and he can't stand it. It makes his heart break.
"No doll. No, it's... You see, sometimes, Daddies like... other people. Like other Daddies."
There. Now to leave her the time to process... Suddenly she's looking at him with suspicious eyes.
"Like Uncles, for example?"
Damn. He really wasn't ready for this. He sighs
"For example, yes."
"So are you and Uncle Kristoph...?"
"I knew it! I don't need a stupid Mommy!"
Kristoph doesn't want their relationship to be found out, and Phoenix can only understand. Surely it would hurt the other's reputation to be seen with a fallen attorney.
They often see each other outside, as friends, and Kristoph even comes to visit him when he's working at the Borscht Bowl Club from time to time, if only to bring Trucy back home on weekdays when Phoenix works too late to keep her with him.
Kristoph is sweet, he's nice, he's caring, and he's everything Phoenix could have ever wished for. His heart is overwhelmed at the idea that such a perfect man could love him back, no matter his poor situation, no matter his past.
Trucy loves him too, he knows it.
It's Saturday afternoon, and they're all enjoying the quietness and fresh air of Kristoph's backgarden. Trucy's been playing with Vongole for a while, but she's grown tired and comes back to the corner where they have settled their chairs and sunshade umbrella. Phoenix looks at her bounce on her feet for a while, as if she was lost in thoughts.
"What's on your mind, doll? You've been preoccupied all day."
Trucy raises her head and her eyes are filled with resolve.
"Uncle Kristoph, can I ask you something important?"
"Yes, Trucy dear?"
The blonde lawyer's smile is soft and warm when he sets his eyes on the ten-year-old girl.
"You've been together with Daddy for so long now, is it alright if I call you Dad?"
Phoenix almost chokes when he hears the words coming from his little girl.
Kristoph's eyes widen.
Trucy looks at him expectantly.
Kristoph is suddenly so tense Phoenix can feel it even without touching him.
He takes some time to think his answer. Phoenix isn't even sure if he hopes that the other agrees or not. Trucy is his little girl, after all. He's her Daddy. She doesn't need another Dad.
And at the same time, Phoenix is certain that he'd be as touched as his daughter if Kristoph said...
"I'd rather you do not, Trucy. The relationship between your father and me is... very special, but I can't be your... other father. The situation forces us to be as discrete as possible, and I can't endorse this position for you."
Trucy lowers her head and looks at her feet.
"It's fine, Uncle Kristoph. I understand."
She's disappointed, and to be honest, Phoenix is disappointed too.
Maybe Kristoph is not that perfect.
"Phoenix, we need to talk."
It's the evening and Trucy is already in bed. They're both sitting on the couch, drinking tea and enjoying the peace of the night falling.
"About what, Kristoph?"
"It's not a light topic, I'm afraid."
Phoenix's alarms are ringing. What conclusion has the other reached already? Is he going to break up? Is he going to leave them?
Is he going to...
"Trucy told me you wanted to propose."
Phoenix stutters and splutters.
"She told what?!"
"Yes, that was about my reaction. Do you have any idea what this might be about?"
"I... I have no idea, Kristoph."
"You do know my position about marriage and the outing of our relationship, Wright, don't you?"
"Of course I do! And I really didn't... No offense, Kristoph, I really love what we have now, but I really didn't intend to propose. I don't know where she got this idea."
Maybe from her cousin Pearl. Maybe from his own behaviour. She did notice he was behaving weirdly lately. She confronted him last week, asking him why he was avoiding her or acting strange when Kristoph was here.
Because I'm afraid he will kill us both was surely not the best answer for his twelve-year-old to be at peace. They were good enough with only one paranoiac in the family.
"I can't tell you, Truce", he'd said. "It's a secret. But I swear you'll know soon enough."
Trucy didn't like secrets. Trucy was perceptive. Although sometimes her conclusions were a bit farfetched.
"I'm glad the matter is solved then, Phoenix. I'm happy with what we have too. I would have hated it if anything had come to stain our current state of happiness."
Phoenix can't suppress a shudder when he slowly lets his head fall on Kristoph's shoulder, and lets the other draw him in a slow kiss.
I'm wrong. This is too sweet to be fake.
He kisses him back.
For all Phoenix knows, the phone number has changed. It's been so long since they last communicated.
But on the other side of the line, he hears the rings. The phone has not been disconnected. The ring stops. There's a semi-second of silence when Phoenix has a hard time breathing.
"Miles Edgeworth speaking."
Phoenix feels his heart in his throat and promptly adds in a strangled voice:
"Please don't hang up."
"Yes. Yes, it's me. Edgeworth, listen, do you... Do you have some time?"
"Not at the moment, no."
"I guessed so. Listen, I... Can you call me back when you do?"
"What for, Wright? I thought all was said and done. I haven't seen any news about you being back to the courtroom."
Six years and it was still sore.
"I need help."
"What for? I'm a busy man. And you know that."
"I need help for a legal matter, Edgeworth."
"I'll call you back in two hours."
Edgeworth hangs up without any more word, and Phoenix is left with his heart beating loud in his ribcage.
He can't believe he has just done it. Caught up with Edgeworth, despite the long time with no news, only looking for him in the papers. It had brought back so many memories, tough memories, those of a long lost childhood friend he tracked down through his reputation of the Demon Prosecutor while he still was in college.
He hadn't kept the papers this time. Kristoph might have found them.
He spends the next two hours trying to calm his beating heart, wondering how he is going to put things into words, trying out different scenarii in his head.
He's about to tear his scalp off in anxiety when the phone rings. With trembling fingers, he promptly presses "Answer call".
Well. It wasn't a bad start.
"You said you needed my help."
"On a legal matter, yes."
"What's led you to that? I thought you were satisfied enough with your situation."
"Yes, well... that was six years ago. Things change. People change."
"It's been six years, Wright. Six years you've been playing piano and poker in a rathole and I believe you've done pretty well."
"So you also kept tracks. I've seen you've been doing well in Europe."
"How is Trucy?"
Phoenix is startled at the sudden change of topic.
"She's... She's well, Edgeworth. Really well. She's as lively as always, and so bright, so perceptive. And she's got her own magician act now, three nights a week, in a bar. She's a prodigy."
"It's good to hear. Where is she now?"
Phoenix's heart twist.
"Gavin's babysitting her. I needed the evening off."
"So Gavin and you are really..."
Of course it would have come to Edgeworth's ears.
No point in lying. Phoenix sighs.
"...yes, at first, yes. He was her Uncle Kristoph. He had a dog. And we both trusted him with our life."
Edgeworth's voice is ice cold.
"But it's not that easy."
"Are your legal matters linked with marrital separation, Wright? Because I'm not the one..."
"No. Listen, Edgeworth. You've got it wrong... There's more to that. Actually, it's probably thanks to Trucy that we're both still alive now."
He hears a sharp intake of breath on the other side of the line.
"Trucy helped me notice a few things... about Gavin. He's not... There's something more behind everything that happened six years ago. And I know, I'm sure... he's involved, somehow. And you must know too. You went to see Klavier Gavin after the trial, didn't you?"
"So you must know. There's something at stake here, I know it, and I..."
His voice breaks in a painful whisper.
"...Oh my God, I'm so scared, Miles."
He tries not to sob, but the reality of his situation rushes back to him. Trucy is alone with Kristoph right now. He could do anything. There is no way out of this mess.
Trucy is with him now.
"Phoenix. Stay with me. Tell me more."
Edgeworth's voice is not cold anymore. It's grounding and he tries to relax. Maybe he doesn't have to do it alone.
"Listen, I might be wrong, he hasn't touched either Trucy or me and I don't get why. He could have destroyed us anytime in the last six years. I don't even know why he hasn't yet. But somehow I'm sure that... I've been suspicious for years now. And I'm sure someday he could... Anytime, he could... He knows Trucy is my weakness and I'm so scared he'll try something..."
His words were strangled. On the other side of the line, Edgeworth didn't seem to dare interrupt him. Stop babbling, Phoenix. Get to the point.
"Listen, Edgeworth, I've heard things. Is it true that you've been offered the job of Chief Prosecutor?"
"How do you know... Yes. Yes, it's true."
"Please accept it. Please."
"Wright. It's not a light request, and I believe it's my own choice to make."
"You still depend on the Los Angeles prosecutorial office, don't you? And you know you are one of their brightest prosecutors. You have helped fight corruption so many times already."
"Miles. I need you to help me reform the legal system. I can't do it by myself. I'm a fallen attorney despised by everyone, trying his best to look like he's a gambler drunkard in his everyday life so as not to be too suspicious to the eyes of Kristoph. And I'm tired of it. I can do better. Our justice system can do better. Please. I know we can work together. Again."
The silence that follows is so long that he expects the beep that signals the end of communication anytime by now.
"Fine. What are your plans, Phoenix?"
It's like he has been touched by the sun.
This evening, when he comes and gets Trucy, Kristoph and him talks for a while. It seems like the other man has a new intern working for him.
Phoenix doesn't know whether he should be happy or pained for the man.
The jury trial was only a first try, and considering how dramatic the trial ended up, it seems like it's not about to become a common procedure.
Phoenix doesn't care anymore.
Phoenix can barely believe it.
As the word "Guilty" falls from the mouth of the judge and carries through the courtroom, he catches Gavin's hateful eyes. This time, it's the death penalty for him.
Miles Edgeworth, new Chief Prosecutor, was the prosecutor for this case. The defense attorney was a public one. Gavin stood no chance.
Phoenix's name is cleared.
Apollo and Klavier remain silent beside him. He tries not to think of what he has dragged them into. He will have a lot of excuses to offer.
But first he has to take care of himself and his family.
"Are you alright, Trucy?"
The girl is so grown up now. She looks at him with mature eyes and he's so proud that she managed to be a schoolgirl, a legal assistant and a magician all at once, and he's so amazed at how good she is at everything. She wrinkles her nose.
"I'm... fine, I guess. It's... strange. It is Uncle Kristoph, after all. You've been together for so long... and yet, I kinda knew it. I mean, I definitely knew it. I've known for a long time, but I couldn't be sure..."
Phoenix looks at her pensively.
"When did you figure out?"
"When I said that you were going to propose. He had such a weird face. Like he was going to... to maybe try to kill you if you did. I tried to tell myself that it was nothing, but he only grew weirder and weirder after that. Like he was trying to possess you. To take you away from me."
He has a slight, sad smile as he puts an arm around her shoulder and brings her closer to him.
"You figured out even before me. You've always been the most perceptive of us both."
They remain silent and slowly make their way out of the courtroom, as if walking on clouds.
"What do you think will happen to Vongole now he's on the death row?"
Trucy loves dogs. Of course she'd ask.
"I heard Klavier tell Apollo he was trying to get Vongole to live with him, in the beginning of the trial. It will be alright. I think Klavier will make a good master."
"Yes, I think so too."
They keep on walking, slowly, content, lost in thoughts.
"Say, Daddy... Are we going to see Uncle Miles again from now on?"
His heart skips a beat.
She knows I've been talking to him without telling her.
She knows I...
"Yes, Trucy. If you want, we can even go and meet him right now. He must be in his lobby."
Although it may not be a good idea. The man probably has other fish to fry at that time. Like loads of paperwork to settle this whole mess.
"No, that's fine, Daddy. But we should invite him to one of my shows someday!"
"Great idea, Trucy. I'm sure Edgeworth will love it."
She gives him a funny look.
"Daddy... Will you call him Miles again?"
His heart stops.
Maybe. Maybe he will.
"Uncle Miles, where's Pess?"
Phoenix can't help but notice the other man's face twist in discomfort.
"She's... Ah. A few years ago, when I was still in Europe, I got a call from the shelter. She was an old dog, you know..."
Trucy's face falls. Unconsciously, Phoenix's hand goes to Miles's back, to try and comfort him.
"Oh... Oh, I'm so sorry, Uncle Miles. I..."
She seems to think for a while.
"Maybe I should try making a new dog appear for you."
Miles smiles a sad smile.
"No, Trucy. That's fine. Don't worry. But you can do some other magic tricks, if you want."
Trucy happily complies. Anything to keep her Uncle Miles's mind away from sad memories.
Phoenix's hand is still on Miles's back.
Trucy then goes back to her homework, and the prosecutor catches the ex-lawyer's hand with his own, lowering his voice.
"Wright... About seven years ago... I'm sorry."
"It's fine, Miles. Time has come and gone. We both changed a lot. We moved on. It's fine. Look at Truce. She's ever so amazing."
Miles's eyes soften while looking at Phoenix's daughter.
"Yes. She has grown up well. You did a marvellous job in upbringing her."
"I did my best. So did you."
"Probably, but still... I lied."
"Seven years ago. I was angry. I was sad. And I was not honest. The words have been round in my head ever since, for seven years. I lied when I said there was nothing waiting for me here anymore."
Phoenix's heart skips a beat.
"There was Pess, for a first. And there were both of you. I'm sorry I left you. I'm sorry I let... I'm sorry you had to undergo all of this. "
I'm sorry I let Kristoph Gavin get his hands on you.
Phoenix's heart resumes its beating, stronger than before.
"Things could have ended very, very badly, and I would have never forgiven myself. I'm... I'm glad you both made it out alive."
Phoenix can't hold it. Softly, he pulls the other in a shy hug. He feels Miles tense under the move, before slowly releasing the tension in his muscles and giving in to the hug, putting his own arms around Phoenix's shoulders.
"I'm glad we're alive too. And I'm glad you're here."
"I'm... I'm glad to be here."
"Daddy? Uncle Miles?"
They both freeze and quickly go back to their previous position. Trucy is looking at them with wide eyes.
"Do you both have something to announce me maybe?"
They both blush and look in the other direction. It's too early, it's been so many years, it's...
"Go back to your homework, Trucy."
Miles's voice is uncompromising. Trucy pouts, but does so.
But Phoenix notices that Miles hasn't let go of his hand.
He lowers his voice to a whisper only the other man can hear.
"Do we, though, Miles?"
Miles blushes again, and answer in the same whispering voice.
"We have things to discuss. Tomorrow at lunch. Without your daughter."
Phoenix lets out a tiny, happy laugh and squeezes Miles's hand in his.
"Uncle Miles, I have a question..."
"What is it, Trucy?"
"It might sound a bit weird but... It's been a long time you've known Daddy and now you're... Well... Can I call you Dad?"
Phoenix feels his heart fall in his chest at the question. Too clearly, he recalls the aftercome of the question when it was asked, years ago. For a moment he's terrified, imagining another face on Miles's, other glasses, longer, blonder hair, and the smile of the devil.
But it's not him. Time has passed and Kristoph is in prison and won't hurt anyone anymore and it's Miles he's looking at, slightly blushing, eyes wide at Trucy's question.
"I... I see no objection, Trucy. It might take me a while to adapt, but I can see where it comes from, and nothing would please me more. I'm honoured."
Trucy beams at him and turns to Phoenix.
"Is it... is it fine for you, Daddy, if Uncle Miles also becomes my Dad?"
He should have known. Back then, he had felt jealous at the question, but he should have known better. It's his advice that she relies on in the end. He'd always be her Daddy, and she'd always be his own baby girl.
"It's great, Trucy dear. Just don't go blurting out that I'm about to propose, okay?"
"What does this mean, exactly?"
Trucy laughs, Phoenix just smiles in melancholy. Everything will be fine this time. They're stronger than before. They're covering bad memories with new, beautiful, brilliant ones. They've built a new family. Phoenix likes this idea. It's like he's finally exactly at the place he's meant to be.
As he relishes in the warmth of Miles's hand in his own, he thinks that maybe now things are settled for real, he'll retake the bar exam.