"I hereby declare the defendant..." The judge paused in what would have been an ominous fashion, if the last half hour hadn't gone so well for Phoenix. On the other side of the room, Edgeworth was not smirking, which was the same as saying he was clearly sulking. "Not guilty," the judge finished, and as his gavel came down, the room exploded with applause, confetti, and shouted requests for the defendant's autograph.
As everyone else streamed from the room, Phoenix sat back on one of the benches in weary exhaustion. "It was pretty tense there for a second, wasn't it, Nick?" Maya asked happily.
Ever observant, she was. "I think... this may have been a poor career choice," Phoenix sighed. "Trials like this are definitely shortening my lifespan. Maybe I should have been something safer... like a coal miner."
"But you won!" Maya pointed out as she sat down beside him. "You always do."
"Uh huh!" Pearl agreed, bouncing over to stand before them cheerfully. "And since this time your client was a famous sports star, you're going to get paid lots!"
"You know what this means..." Maya said knowingly, elbowing him in the ribs.
"I know, I know..." Phoenix began, and Maya and Pearl answered at the same moment he did.
"I'm buying us dinner."
"You're buying us dinner!"
"You're going to get married!"
This time only two of them exclaimed in unison, "Whaaaaaaaaat?!"
"That's what you've been waiting for, right?" Pearl stated confidently. "Mr. Nick wanted to wait until he had enough money to give you a really really big, beautiful wedding, Mystic Maya! I knew it!"
"So earlier, when I said I was going to go to the bathroom?" Pearl continued, happily oblivious to Phoenix's protest and Maya's speechless shock. "I didn't really go there. Since we were in the courthouse already, I asked one of the guards where you go for a marriage license..."
"...You can't be serious..." Phoenix groaned as the little girl pulled a neatly creased stack of papers out from the folds in her robe. Unfortunately, Pearl was pretty much always serious, and especially so when it came to his assumed relationship with Maya.
"I would have filled them out for you except for the signatures, but I didn't think I'd spell your name right, Mr. Nick, and this is really important. So I brought them here so the two of you can-"
"Pearl," Maya interrupted as Pearl produced a pen as well. She glanced at Phoenix, almost apologetically, then leaned forward, placing her hands on Pearl's shoulders. "...I really didn't want to let you down, Pearly - but... really, truly, honest-to-burgers - Nick and I aren't getting married. We've never even dated."
Pearl's bubbling joy seeped out of her like... come to think of it, none of the comparisons that came to mind after a case like this were anything other than disturbing, Phoenix decided. The joy simply seeped out of her, and that was all. "...But... he takes you to dinner all the time..."
"He takes you to dinner too," Maya pointed out.
"You've been together for years," Pearl argued, her eyebrows betraying her worry. "You're always together."
"It's because we're partners," Maya said gently.
"And friends," Phoenix added. He couldn't let Maya take this conversation all on herself. "Maya and I do like each other a lot, Pearls. Just as friends, though."
"Yeah - Nick's been the best friend I could hope for, but that's it."
Pearl shook her head stubbornly, glaring at Phoenix. "Mystic Maya told me all about it when she came back to Kurain Village after you met - she definitely liked you as more than a friend."
"No she..." On second thought, Phoenix glanced over at Maya, and found her blushing. "...Wait."
"Uh, well... okay, so maybe I had a little crush on you at first," Maya admitted, but then she smiled. "It wasn't a big deal, though. I got over it once I got to know you better."
"...Oh. Okay. ...I think." Phoenix wondered if he should feel offended by that, but mostly he just felt relieved.
Meanwhile, Maya had turned her attention back to Pearl. "You see, Pearly... once I found out more about Nick, I realized it would never work out."
"Yeah," Phoenix agreed.
"We have lots of fun together, but sometimes we really drive each other nuts."
"Mm-hmm," Phoenix agreed.
"The feelings we have for each other are really more like a brother and sister."
"Absolutely," Phoenix agreed.
"Besides, Nick's gay."
"That's ri-" Phoenix nearly agreed. Then he paused. "Wait, what the hell?" he exclaimed. "That's not right, Maya!"
"Of course it is!" she insisted. "You've been crushing on Mr. Edgeworth for years."
"Wh... wa..." Phoenix was momentarily lost for words.
"He doesn't look so gay now," Pearl said suspiciously. "He looks kind of... scared, actually."
"No - not gay like happy," Maya explained. "You know how girls like guys, right? Sometimes guys like other guys like that instead, and people call that gay too."
"Ohhhhh," Pearl said, understanding dawning in her eyes. "You want to marry Mr. Edgeworth, Mr. Nick?"
"N-no... No!" Phoenix quickly made his assertation stronger than a stammered whimper. "No! Maya, where did you get an idea like that?"
"It's totally obvious!" Maya insisted.
"Now that you mention it," Pearl said thoughtfully, "it really is."
"No it isn't," Phoenix insisted, "because it's not true." Except for the part where... he kind of felt that maybe that would explain a lot of the frustration and confusion he'd been feeling ever since Edgeworth had come back into his life... only to leave it again... and then come back... and then leave... and no!
Phoenix slammed his hands down on the wooden bench. "If you're going to make an accusation like that," he told Maya, "you'll need some evidence to back it up."
She shrugged her shoulders, and cheerfully started counting on her fingers. "You were in school with him for like less than a year when you were kids, but you still remembered him all these years later..." One. "You went through all the training to become a lawyer just so you could see him again..." Two. "You call him a friend even when he's acting like he hates you..." Three. "Whenever he disappears, you look like a kicked puppy..." Four. "You've only ever had one girlfriend - er, I guess two, sort of - and you were manipulated into it..." Having run out of fingers on one hand, she started over. "You put your trust in him to do the right thing, even when he's prosecuting the same person you're defending..." Six. "Even just the way you look at him..." Seven. "Really, Nick - everyone knows you've got a huge crush on him. Well, except you, I guess."
"That is so not true!" he protested. "And... and that's not good enough evidence! It's all circumstantial!"
"Yeah?" Maya cocked her head and smirked. For a moment, she looked much like her sister... though not as much as she looked like her sister when she was actually channelling her sister, of course. "Do you have any evidence that it's not true?"
Phoenix thought for a moment - and it was her resemblance to Mia that saved him. "I don't need evidence," he declared. "Your sister taught me that a flaw in someone's testimony can be just as good as evidence. Will you repeat the statements you just made, Maya?"
Pearl stared at him. "Mr. Nick... I think you're taking this lawyer thing too seriously again."
Maya, at least, was willing to humor him. "Okay, how did that go? Let's see... You were in school with him for like less than a year when you were kids, but you still remembered him all these years later..."
...That was true, Phoenix grudgingly admitted. It wasn't that weird, though. Was it?
"You went through all the training to become a lawyer just so you could see him again..."
Again, true. But that was perfectly normal when someone inspired you as much as Miles Edgeworth had inspired him! ...Phoenix was suddenly a little unsure of himself.
"You call him a friend even when he's acting like he hates you..."
Well, yes. And maybe that was a little weird, but he just... valued his friends. Right?
"Whenever he disappears, you look like a kicked puppy..."
Annoyingly, this was also true. Even Phoenix himself had been surprised by how upset he'd been when Edgeworth left the country just after they'd come to an understanding... He'd better stop there, or he'd be working against his own defense.
"You've only ever had one girlfriend - er, I guess two, sort of - and you were manipulated into it..."
Aha. Phoenix slammed one fist down on the bench. "Hold it!" he exclaimed. "Just because I only told you about one girlfriend - yeah, technically two - doesn't mean I haven't had lots of girlfriends!"
Maya smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Well, have you had any other girlfriends?"
Phoenix raised his chin proudly. ...And then he dropped it to his chest. "No," he admitted. He could almost feel the judge slapping him with a penalty.
"You put your trust in him to do the right thing," Maya continued, "even when he's prosecuting the same person you're defending..."
And that was the part where Phoenix had decided to stop before, so he didn't wreck his own argument. He would just...not say anything about that. Yes.
"Even just the way you look at him..."
Seeing as he couldn't look at himself, particularly not if he was looking at Edgeworth and not a mirror, Phoenix couldn't argue that point either.
"Really, Nick," Maya finished, "everyone knows you've got a huge crush on him. Well, except you, I guess."
...And that was it. The end of her testimony. And desperate as he was for a flaw, Phoenix couldn't think of...
No, wait. There was one flaw in her last statement. Tenuous, but Mia had taught him that even the most seemingly inconsequential contradiction could make or break a verdict.
"Hold it!" Maya jumped at the vehement outburst, and at the finger abruptly pointing in her face. "You claim that everyone except me knows about my alleged crush on Edgeworth," Phoenix stated, eyes narrowing in his determination. "But that's not true. One other person wouldn't know about this crush - and that person is Edgeworth himself!"
Suddenly, echoing through the courtroom, was a deep voice. "Objection!"
Across the room, when they all turned to look, was the man in question, smirking and wagging a finger at them. "I am quite aware of Mr. Wright's infatuation with me," stated Edgeworth. "Why do you think I keep leaving the country?" He shrugged, arrogantly as always. "Wright's refusal to face his true feelings is... irritating."
"Uh... Wuh... Buh..." Phoenix was suddenly unable to find words that were... actually words. Edgeworth looked oddly untroubled by this revelation, he noted. Not a trace of embarrassment. Phoenix didn't have to be able to see himself to know that his face was turning red.
A loud banging sound interrupted his thoughts. "Objection sustained," said another voice. ...The judge was still there too, Phoenix realized, horrified.
The judge shook his head. "I believe we've heard all we need to hear on the matter," he said solemnly. "I hereby declare Mr. Wright..."
This time, the pause was ominous.
Phoenix slid off the bench to the floor as the gavel sounded. What... what in the world was going on?
"Wright." He looked up to find Edgeworth offering his hand, and he was even more flustered.
"Uh... Edgeworth? I'm... a little confused right now."
"Then find somewhere other than the courtroom to be confused," Edgeworth instructed him. Then, turning his face away a little, "...I know a cafe where we might discuss this case privately."
Phoenix hesitated, but took Edgeworth's hand. "Uhm... sure. I think."
As Edgeworth helped him to his feet, Pearl tugged at Maya's sleeve. "Mystic Maya? What does this mean for Mr. Nick...?"
"I dunno," Maya said mournfully, "but I think we're going to have to get our own burgers tonight."