Phoenix has a hole in his shoe and it leads to more pressing issues.
"Quit talkin' nonsense and tell me what it is, you old coot!"
"The… the so…"
"The soles, the soles, I get it already! I don't give a damn about your stupid shoes! The treasure! What is it?! I know you've got it stowed away somewhere!"
"I… can't let that kind of power fall into the wrong hands…"
"I've had it with you! If you won't give it to me straight, then I'll just figure it out MYSELF!"
The boot collided hard with the man's head, and blood spattered against the toe. As he crumpled, his assailant shuddered with disgust, letting the unconventional weapon dangle from one hand by the laces.
"Damn it all," they muttered. "Where the hell do I even start here…?"
(Maybe if I stare at it hard enough, it'll go away...)
The shoe, stubbornly, refused to mend the new hole it had spontaneously opened. Phoenix Wright let out a sigh of defeat and tugged it on anyway. He was high overdue for a new pair; in a way, he supposed this only hastened the inevitable.
Actually, if memory served, there was a shoe store not far from the apartment building. He'd never bothered to stop in before, but it looked a little... run down, from what he could tell. Well, that just meant it was well within his budget… if it was still open, anyways. It was worth checking out, so he got to his feet, doing his best to ignore the brand new breeze.
"Truce," he called, "you ready to go?"
Trucy leaned out into the hallway from the living room. "Ready when you are, Daddy!" she chirped, and that smile brought a grin to his own face.
He headed towards her, and her earnest expression slipped into one of confusion. "Daddy, there's a hole in your shoe," she pointed out, brows knitting together.
"Ah, yeah," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "I was thinking we could take a little detour, check out that shoe shop nearby…"
Trucy apparently knew what he was talking about. Her eyes lit up in understanding. "Oh, sure! Let's go, then, I'm sure walking around with a hole in your shoe can't be very comfy, Daddy!"
(It's really not. The sooner I get this fixed, the better… and I really don't need anything else about my appearance to be mockable!)
As it turned out, the universe was conspiring against him. Again. The shoe shop was surrounded by police cars, and several officers were milling about.
Phoenix bit back a groan. (Why me…?!)
Trucy stood on her tiptoes, tipping up the brim of her top hat. "Hey, Daddy, don't you know that guy? He looks pretty much exactly like how you said he did…"
"Huh?" Phoenix squinted, then gave a start when he spotted who she was looking at. "You're kidding me…!"
As if on cue, the person turned around, and immediately brightened upon spotting Phoenix. They started heading towards him and Trucy, breaking into a wide smile.
"Well, look who it is!"
In eight years, somehow Detective Dick Gumshoe hadn't changed one bit. He offered a hand, and Phoenix shook it firmly.
"How long has it been? I haven't seen you in forever!" He turned to Trucy. "And hey, who's this? Don't think we've met before…"
"This is Trucy, my daughter." He couldn't help but let a proud smile creep across his face.
Gumshoe recoiled, eyes widening. "What?! You never told me anything about having a kid, pal!"
"I adopted her about eight years ago," he explained with a laugh. "Trucy, this is Dick Gumshoe. We go way back."
Trucy offered a gloved hand. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Gumshoe!"
Gumshoe took it, delighted. "Same to you, pal!"
"So," Phoenix said, leaning in, "what happened here?"
The detective jerked himself upright, hunching his shoulders. "Nuh-uh! Absolutely not! I'm not telling you nothin'!"
"Worth a shot?" He smiled weakly.
Gumshoe didn't seem amused. In fact, he appeared to wilt. "Listen, pal, it's real important I do my job for this case… I'll be in big trouble if I don't!"
"Huh? Is… Edgeworth prosecuting this case?" He couldn't help the hopeful note in his tone. He hadn't seen the man in person since the whole mess with the Phantom, and he was really starting to miss speaking to him. The two were good friends, but Phoenix really wished they'd spend more time together.
"No, it's…" Gumshoe trailed off with a befuddled frown. "Pal, you got a hole in your shoe."
Trucy started giggling, and Phoenix bit back a groan. "I know."
"What, you can't afford to replace 'em?"
(That's rich, coming from you! Isn't that the same ratty old coat you've worn since the day we met?!)
"Actually, that's the whole reason Truce and I swung by here…"
"Well, uh, so much for that plan," Gumshoe sighed, looking over his shoulder at the crime scene. "Sorry, pal, looks like you're stuck with it for now. Ain't nobody around to run the place anymore."
"Oh?" He perked up. "Did something happen to the owner?"
"Yeah, he got murdered, and his daughter's the prime suspect…" The detective shook his head. "You hate to see it happen."
Then he stiffened up as his brain presumably caught up to his mouth. "H-Hey! Don't tell anyone I told you that, pal!"
Phoenix held up his hands with a panicked little smile. "My lips are sealed, honest."
(Well, I've probably gotten as much as I can from Gumshoe without giving him a heart attack… it wouldn't hurt to drop by the detention center. I don't have anything better to do today, and potential work means potential payment.)
"Alright, well, we should get going." Phoenix nodded to Gumshoe. "It was good to see you again, detective."
"Hey, same to you!" Gumshoe shot him a grin. "Stay out of trouble, alright? I'd hate to have to take you down to the precinct again after all you've done, y'know?"
(Oh, boy, he doesn't know the half of it.)
He began walking off with Trucy, now headed in the direction of the agency. He needed to let Athena and Apollo know about the possible case; their assistance was becoming more and more appreciated these days. His magatama was useful for screening possible clients, but Athena's Mood Matrix and Apollo's perception filled in a fair few of its blind spots.
"Daddy," Trucy asked from beside him, "are you planning on looking into the shoe shop case?"
"Definitely," he responded.
"Do you know the defendant's name?"
He stopped in his tracks.
"Uh… I'm… we'll, ah, cross that bridge when we get to it."
Trucy put her hands on her hips. "Daddy!"
"Hey, I'll figure it out! Somehow!"
"Hey, boss!" Athena called as Phoenix pushed open the door to the Wright Anything Agency. She and Apollo were sprawled across the couch, sorting paperwork. Anyone that didn't know them well would think the two were hard at work, but Phoenix had been with them long enough to know they were bored out of their skulls.
Athena quirked an eyebrow. "Hey, uh, did you know you've got a hole in your shoe?"
Phoenix heaved a sigh, hearing Apollo bite back a snort. "I'm well aware, Athena. Actually, it led me to a case, so…"
He had their attention now. Both of them sat upright, eyes wide.
"The old shoe shop by my apartment is the scene of a crime, it looks like," Phoenix explained. "I'm hoping to look into the case. From what I heard, the owner's child is being held at the detention center as the most likely suspect for the owner's murder…"
"Yikes," muttered Apollo, and Athena winced. "Do you know exactly who you're looking for?"
"Well, uh, about that…"
Apollo groaned. "Mr. Wright…!"
"I'd appreciate it if one of you could come with me to the detention center," Phoenix continued, pointedly ignoring the younger lawyer's frustrations.
Athena was immediately on her feet, all smiles. "I'll come with you, boss!" she declared, socking her palm with her fist.
"Alright, works for me. Trucy, you can keep an eye on Apollo while we're gone, right?"
"You can count on me, Daddy!" she reassured confidently, amidst complaints from Apollo that he was seven years older than her and it should really be the other way around. "I'll keep Polly out of trouble!"
"Thatta girl. Okay, call if you need anything."
"Bye, Daddy! Bye, Thena!"
Once outside, the junior lawyer immediately turned to her senior. "Okay, ready to roll when you are, boss! But, uh… you sure you don't wanna stop and get that shoe fixed up?"
"No time now," Phoenix lamented, "not when there's a case that needs looking into."
"Right! The client comes first!"
"You got it. Let's go."
It wasn't long before the two reached the detention center. Phoenix asked the first guard they came across about any new arrests, and thankfully, only a few had been taken in since yesterday evening. The name Chelsea Boot sounded promising to Phoenix, and within a few minutes, he and Athena were sitting in the visitor's room.
The guard led out a young woman dressed in leather and chains, dark eyeliner smudged and dyed hair unkempt from a night in jail. She plunked down in her seat without ceremony, and glared through the glass at Phoenix and Athena.
"And who are you two s'posed to be?" she spat.
(Off to a great start here…)
"Phoenix Wright and Athena Cykes," Athena answered, taking charge and leaning in. "We're defense attorneys, and we wanna ask you a few questions."
"Don't recall asking for an attorney," Chelsea muttered with a roll of her eyes.
Phoenix folded his hands together in his lap. "There was a murder at a shoe store not far from where I live, and I decided I wanted to look into things. Do you know anything about that, Ms. Boot?"
Chelsea lazily lifted an eyebrow. "Yeah. Dear old dad got clobbered while I was sleeping upstairs. Don't have a clue what happened."
She didn't seem awfully concerned, but the way Athena reached up to cradle Widget told Phoenix that Chelsea was definitely feeling more than she let on.
He slipped his own hand into his pocket, tightly clasping the smooth magatama hidden within. "Ms. Boot, can you say honestly that you had nothing to do with the murder?"
Her expression darkened. "Listen, Dad was a nutcase, but I didn't hate him enough to smash his brains out. Not like he had much left, anyway…"
No chains, no locks. She was telling the truth, but it wasn't a direct answer to his question. He sat up a little straighter. "Yes or no, Ms. Boot. Did you kill your father?"
She glowered at him. "No."
Athena glanced towards Phoenix, and he gave her a little nod. "Alright. If you'll have us, we'd like to take your case."
"Seriously? You don't even know me." Chelsea leaned back and blew some hair out of her face, folding her arms across her chest. "What's got you so concerned for me all of a sudden?"
"It's just what we do," Athena said firmly, eyes shining with that determination of hers. "We believe in your innocence, Ms. Boot, and we want to prove it."
Chelsea drew in a long breath, then slowly let it out. "Fine. Guess I got nothing to lose. I was gonna wait around for the state attorney, but if you're offering… what the hell, right?"
"Great! Come on, boss, let's go scope things out!" Athena jumped out of her chair and grabbed Phoenix by the arm, effortlessly yanking him to his feet.
"W-Wait!" he stammered, helpless. "I want to ask a few more questions!"
"We can always come back later! Come on, I wanna get a look at the scene!"
Chelsea looked on from her seat on the other side of the window. "Hey, Mr. Wright," she called.
Phoenix managed to grab onto the doorway. "Yes?"
Chelsea smirked. It was the first smile she'd worn since they'd been introduced.
"You've got a hole in your shoe."
How long has it been since I've written a proper fanfic? Anyways, welcome to Clab Damn's Wild Ride
Edgeworth investigates a scene and oversteps his boundaries.
Shorter chapter this time (can you tell I'm just winging this?) and a small spoiler for AJ is present.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The case seemed simple enough to Miles Edgeworth. Chukka Boot had been down in the shop the previous night when he'd been struck over the head by his daughter, who was wielding one of her steel-toed boots. There were signs of a struggle, but nothing seemed to be missing, which ruled out theft as a motive.
There was a ruckus from outside, though, and as he turned to look, he got the feeling this case was about to become more complicated.
"Fool! How DARE you intrude on my crime scene?! You don't even have the decency to DRESS properly!"
"Leave him alone! What'd he ever do to you, huh?!"
"Have you not informed your foolish subordinate about the likes of me?!"
He'd better get out there before things escalated further. Edgeworth shouldered the door open. "Franziska--"
Franziska snapped her whip and turned to him, seething. "Miles Edgeworth, stay out of this," she snarled, but he barely gave his sister a second glance, gaze fixed on the visitors. Looking ready to try and throw his sister over her shoulder was none other than Miss Cykes, and behind her, holding her back from doing just that, was…
"Wright," he sighed, "what exactly are you doing here?"
Wright immediately dropped Miss Cykes and turned around to face him so quickly, Edgeworth feared he might trip over himself. "E-Edgeworth," he stammered, and his eyes grew wide and he broke into that utterly ridiculous smile of his.
Edgeworth closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to look at it, and folded his arms impatiently. "Well? I'm waiting."
Miss Cykes was the one to answer. "We're interested in defending Ms. Boot, Mr. Edgeworth, so we figured we'd scope out the scene."
The look on Wright's face clearly told him that it was more his subordinate's plan than his. He shook his head a little. Pushed around by someone years younger than him… though Edgeworth supposed he didn't have much room to talk. Franziska was glaring daggers at him, and he turned to her.
"Miles Edgeworth, do not tell me you are going to try and barter for these fools' access to this scene," she snapped. "I refuse to allow it."
He thought for a moment, then allowed a sly smile to cross his face. "Well, you want Wright to be prepared when you face him in court tomorrow, don't you? A win wouldn't be nearly as satisfying if he wasn't as ready as he could be."
"That fool prepares for nothing," she muttered, pulling her whip between her hands, but he could already see her hesitating.
Miss Cykes looked utterly bemused. She looked from Wright to Franziska to Edgeworth. "Uh… is there something I'm missing here, or…?"
"Besides," Edgeworth continued, "you'll get to show him up in front of Miss Cykes here, and his other protege as well, despite his hard work here today."
Franziska narrowed her eyes, considering this. "…fine," she finally conceded. "But if anything is fooled with by the likes of these foolish fools, the blame lies with you for allowing these fools access, Miles Edgeworth!"
"She really likes the word fool, doesn't she?" he heard Miss Cykes stage-whisper to Wright.
"She really needs to go shopping for a thesaurus," Wright replied, and the remark promptly earned him a lash from Franziska. "GACK!"
"Silence, fool! My vocabulary is perfect!"
Edgeworth sighed, pushing his glasses up with a forefinger. "Perhaps you would like to come inside…?"
Miss Cykes perked up. "Yeah, let's get a look at things already! I'm itching to investigate!"
He led the small entourage into the shop. The two defense attorneys took in the shelves crammed haphazardly with shoeboxes and the odd, mystical decorations.
"Sure is, uh," Wright said, visibly struggling for a description, "atmospheric."
Edgeworth turned towards him to reply, but stopped short.
(Good Lord, he's got a hole in his shoe. Was that what Franziska was referring to earlier with being underdressed?)
The irony of being in a shoe shop with no way to remedy his plight was not lost on Edgeworth, and he stifled a small chuckle. Leave it to Wright to get himself trapped in such a predicament.
Wright must have heard something, because he turned to Edgeworth with a disbelieving look on his face, like he wasn't quite sure he could believe his ears. The man always had been like an open book, save that certain period of his life…
"Uh, is… something the matter?"
"Water, water everywhere," Edgeworth mused, "and none that you can drink."
It took Wright a moment, but he groaned, dragging one hand down his face. "Is everyone gonna point that out today? I get it, there's a hole in my shoe! I'm well aware!"
Something occurred to him. "Can you… not afford a replacement?"
"What?" Wright flinched. "Of course I can! I just… haven't gotten around to it."
"Wright," he sighed, "I'd be glad to have them fixed for you, or even get you new ones. You shouldn't be walking around with holes in your clothes."
He stiffened, and his expression suddenly became closed off. It was jarring to see such a seamless transition from Phoenix Wright, the defense attorney with his heart on his sleeve, to the persona Edgeworth had been all but convinced he'd left behind with Kristoph Gavin's conviction. What had he said to trigger such a reaction?
"I don't need handouts, Edgeworth," he said coolly. "I can take care of myself."
That made Edgeworth recoil. "Handouts? Wright, I'm only offering a favor--"
"You've done enough, alright? More than enough." Wright looked away. "I don't need your help. So drop it. I've got it handled."
Edgeworth fell silent, stunned. What in the world had just happened? His right hand came up to clench at his left arm.
After a moment, he found his words again. "Was getting you into this scene needless charity, then?"
That made Wright crack a little, enough to look at him again. "What?"
"Should I have Franziska remove you and Miss Cykes? Have you work with just the defendant's testimony? Is that what you want, Wright?" His voice was growing cold, but it was only to hide the tremor that would otherwise be audible. Was this what he wanted? Had Edgeworth somehow miscalculated something?
Wright gave him a stare that reminded him far too much of the ones von Karma had fixed him with, the ones that meant he'd misstepped and was about to face the consequences. The two stood there, locked in a silent struggle to see who would back down first.
(Things had been so amicable between us just a moment ago. How did this spiral so quickly? Is Wright harboring some sort of grudge? Is he… angry at me?)
Wright eventually made a disgusted noise low in his throat and turned away, shoving his hands into his pockets. He trudged off further into the shop, leaving Edgeworth reeling.
(I must have done something to hurt his feelings… but I can't focus on that right now. There's a case to attend to.)
The scene didn't offer much information. The murder had occurred in the back office of the shop, where the finances and records were kept. There was still a stain on the floor from where Mr. Boot had collapsed after being bludgeoned, and some nearby drips that were presumably from the bloodied weapon.
A single shoebox had been knocked off the desk, and two shoes were lying on the floor. Edgeworth knelt to inspect them.
(Hm… they're mismatched. But they seem well-worn… someone has clearly used these before. Perhaps it's some sort of fashion statement.)
He picked up the blue loafer and weighed it, leaving the red one where it lay. Not nearly heavy enough to be an alternative murder weapon, and there was definitely no steel toe that matched the dent in Mr. Boot's skull.
"What in the world are you doing, fool?"
Edgeworth jerked, then stood up, instinctively slipping the shoe into his pocket. "Nothing," he said quickly, turning around to face his sister.
Franziska fixed him with an icy glare. "I only invited you here because you insisted on spending time with me while I am here, Miles Edgeworth," she said sharply, "and then you go and wander off to investigate. This is not your case."
"I think I have a right as Chief Prosecutor to examine the scene myself, Franziska."
"Hmph! Do you have no faith in my abilities, little brother?"
"Of course I believe in you, Franziska," he sighed, "I was only curious."
Franziska gave a slight start at his words, but quickly composed herself. "Curiosity killed the cat, as they say, Miles Edgeworth. I believe there is also more than one way to skin one." She punctuated her words with a crack of her whip. "Stay out of my way, or we shall see if I can skin you."
"I don't think that's…"
An even colder glare told him that it was in his best interests to stop talking.
He didn't see much point in sticking around long, and thankfully, neither did Franziska. He didn't particularly want to cross paths with Wright again after whatever had just happened between them, and he definitely didn't need an impromptu psychoanalysis from Miss Cykes.
"Who did you say this witness was?" Edgeworth asked his sister as they exited the shop.
"Brogan Hart," Franziska sniffed, and something clicked very vaguely in the back of Edgeworth's head, like there was something about that name that should be stirring up memories. "He's… courting the defendant."
Edgeworth abruptly recalled the story Wright recounted to him of his first trial, with an utterly useless Butz distraught at the loss of his girlfriend. "Preparing him is likely going to be difficult."
"I shall have that fool whipped into shape in no time," she asserted, snapping her coiled whip between her hands. "He will be the perfect witness tomorrow."
(There's no such thing as a perfect witness when Wright or his subordinates are involved, but saying that aloud would be detrimental to my health.)
"I'll see you after you're finished, then," he told her with a nod. "We should have dinner. Catch up on things."
Franziska glanced at him, and that cold stiffness of her posture and expression seemed to soften. "…very well, Miles Edgeworth. We shall make plans afterwards. I need to know how my little brother has been faring, after all."
He gave her a small smile. Perhaps this day wasn't entirely unsalvageable.
Phoenix: (I don't want you to worry yourself about me and waste your energy on me when I'm capable of handling this.)
Phoenix: I've got this okay fuck off
Phoenix learns a bit more about his client and reflects on an earlier conversation.
God, can you tell I'm posting these as soon as I finish them? I'm riding on a hyperfixation high and if I don't do this Right Now I'm gonna crash, so all of you just have to deal with my rapid fire unedited jackshit
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"So, you find anything good?" Chelsea asked, tipping her chair back and folding her arms behind her head.
(She seems awfully nonchalant for someone that's been accused of patricide...)
Athena, sitting beside Phoenix, had a pained expression, like she wanted to cover her ears. "Seriously, boss, the discord here is killing me," she whined. "She's not being honest about something."
"Well, there wasn't really much to find. It was a pretty quick crime, from what I can tell." There was the stray loafer and the overturned shoebox. Phoenix thought that perhaps the culprit had left it behind in their haste to get away, like Cinderella. He decided to present it to Chelsea. "Do you recognize this?"
Chelsea squinted, then rolled her eyes. "God, yeah, it's one of those stupid shoes Dad was always going on about."
(Aha! Now we're getting somewhere! I don't know exactly where, but SOMEwhere!)
"He owned a shoe shop, wouldn't he always be going on about shoes?"
"You don't get it." She twirled a lock of hair around one finger. "He thought this pair was like, special or something."
Phoenix could feel his eyebrows raise. "Special?"
"Yeah, something about soles. Must be made of, like, rare material or something."
Phoenix inspected the worn red loafer. It certainly didn't seem like anything special to him. It was just an old shoe. Then again, maybe it just had sentimental value.
"Should I put it back...?"
"Honestly, I don't care what you do with it. I never gave a damn about shoes, anyway." Chelsea laughed. "Hey, maybe you can wear it to replace the one you've got a hole in."
(Hey, I have some sense of style! ...besides, it's for the wrong foot.)
Athena leaned forward. "Ms. Boot, what was your relationship with your father like?"
Chelsea groaned and threw her head back. "He was a nutcase, okay? Always chattering on about protecting his shoes and how special their soles were. I never understood a word of it. God, what was it he always said?" She chewed on her lip, thinking. "If the road you walk with a friend starts to cause you pain, exchanging soles does wonders."
Phoenix and Athena looked at each other. "Yeah, I... don't get it either," Phoenix finally admitted.
"That's because it was just a load of bull. Bunch of fake deep stuff." Chelsea waved a hand dismissively, and her bracelets clinked and jingled.
Athena shook her head a little and continued. "Is there anyone else close to you or your father?"
"I mean, my boyfriend Brogan drops by sometimes, but they kinda just ignore each other. Dad stays out of my life, I stay out of his."
"Brogan?" Phoenix repeated. "What's he like?"
"Brogan's nice, I guess." She shrugged. "Kinda dumb, but he's sweet, y'know? Cares a lot about me, and... I care about him too."
(Reminds me of a hopeless romantic I know. I wonder if Brogan and Larry would get along...)
Judging from Athena's sappy smile, Chelsea was at least telling the truth about that. "Did he visit the night before or right after the murder?"
Chelsea's expression grew stormy. "Hey. Don't you even imply he had anything to do with this. I know him. He'd never hurt anyone. Honestly, he's too gullible for his own good. Some days, I worry he's gonna get hurt somehow."
Phoenix gave Athena a look. (She's being honest, I can tell... but I have firsthand experience attesting to the fact that people aren't always as they seem.)
"Well... thank you for your time, Ms. Boot," Phoenix said, standing up. "We'll solve this tomorrow and clear your name."
"I appreciate it," Chelsea said. "Hey, I'm no expert on shoes, but I picked some stuff up from my dad. Once this trial's over, I can fix that shoe up for you, free of charge."
"Really?" Phoenix brightened. "I'd appreciate that."
"Least I can do once you pull me off the chopping block. Deal's off if you don't, though."
(Obviously! But that's not gonna happen!)
"I'll keep it in mind," he said weakly. "We'll see you in court tomorrow."
It was late by the time he and Athena returned to the agency, and everyone agreed it would be best to close up for the day. He trudged home with Trucy, reviewing evidence and testimony in his head, but his thoughts kept drifting back to his earlier conversation with Edgeworth.
(First time I see him in forever and it's to snap at him like that... I was too harsh. But then he lashed out at me like that... I must have made him mad. Now he's not gonna want to talk to me.)
"Daddy, is everything okay?" Trucy asked from beside him. "You've got that mopey look on your face you always get when you're missing Uncle Miles."
"Huh? I wasn't--"
Trucy gave him a flat look.
"Okay, I was," he admitted. "I... kinda made him angry today when we met at the crime scene..."
"You saw him?" she gasped. Then she frowned. "And you made him upset?"
"I-I didn't mean to!" he protested. "He offered to fix the hole in my shoe, and you know how he is about that kind of thing, so I told him I didn't need his help, and--"
Trucy winced. "You know he only wants to help you because he cares about you, right?"
"O-Of course he does! We're friends! It's just that he's already done so much for me, and he's got a lot of stuff on his plate already, and I don't want him going out of his way to help me with something I can do on my own when he has so many other things to do!"
"Did you tell him that?"
"Er..." He could feel his face heating up with embarrassment. "Not all of it..."
"He probably thinks you're shutting him out!" Trucy insisted. "You really need to communicate better."
"I know, I know," he grumbled. "I... I'll talk to him tomorrow, alright? Franziska is prosecuting the case, so he'll probably be with her, and I can set the record straight before the trial starts. I just... I've probably stressed him out even more, haven't I...?"
"So think about how relieved he'll be when you tell him you're just worried about him!" Trucy chirped, beaming. "See? Problem solved!"
Phoenix gave her a fond smile. "How did I ever get lucky enough to be blessed with such a smart little girl?"
"I'm not that little anymore, Daddy!"
"If I can still pick you up, you're still little!" he proclaimed, then bent down and did just that, to a cascade of laughter from his daughter. Then he yelped as something in his back shifted, and abruptly set her down again.
"Daddy!" Trucy gasped.
"Agh... s'alright, I can sleep it off," he wheezed out, pressing a palm against the worst of it.
"You need to be more careful! You're getting old, you know!"
"You sound like your Aunt Maya! I'm only thirty-four!"
Father and daughter bickered back and forth over Phoenix being an old man all the way back to their apartment. By the time they arrived, he felt dead on his feet. All he wanted to do was careen into bed. He could shower and all that tomorrow...
Trucy stopped him before he could lurch towards his bedroom, standing on her toes to kiss him on the cheek. "Goodnight, Daddy," she said, smiling, eyes lit up with that special expression just for him.
Even if only for a moment, the exhaustion seemed to evaporate from his bones, and a soft grin crept its way across his face. He tilted back Trucy's hat to return the kiss to her forehead.
"Goodnight, Truce. Sleep tight."
He watched her bounce off to the bathroom to clean up before bed, and sighed happily. (I really am lucky to have her.)
His fatigue dropped right back onto him soon after, and he all but staggered under its weight, shambling towards his bedroom. It was all he could do to kick off his shoes and shrug off his coat. The latter hit the floor with a muffled thump, and he paused in confusion.
Right. That shoe he'd picked up in the shop. He dug it out of his coat pocket to inspect it again.
(Wonder what was so special about it to Mr. Boot. Oh, well... it's a mystery for tomorrow.)
After making sure his alarm was set, and trying to ignore the ache in his back, Phoenix set the shoe on his nightstand before sinking right down into bed and shutting his eyes.
(I really am tired... more than usual... I usually stay up... later than this... it's... strange...)
He felt a little dizzy, actually, but the weariness was coating him like a weighted blanket. He decided it was nothing to worry about, and let himself relax.
His last coherent thought before he drifted off was that this was the softest his bed had ever felt.
I think my curse is to post short chapters. It's just how I am. But anyway, it's almost time for what y'all actually came here for.
Edgeworth wakes up and it all goes downhill from there.
FINALLY, THE MOMENT YOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Edgeworth was no stranger to fatigue. He'd muscled through it that evening and sunk into bed with barely a passing thought about the day's events. It was rather odd that he didn't have more spinning around in his mind. Between dinner with Franziska, his encounter with Wright, and the horrid shock of realizing he'd mindlessly stolen evidence from a crime scene - the shoe had been set down on the bedside dresser, glaring sightlessly at him - he should have had plenty to think about.
But Edgeworth had no trouble whatsoever falling asleep.
At least, until a sharp pain in his back snapped him out of unconsciousness and shot him up into a sitting position.
One hand snaked around his torso to clap against the sore spot, and he shuddered. (I must have drifted off in the wrong position or something...!)
The throbbing pain was making everything uncomfortable, in fact. His bedsheets felt scratchy, his mattress felt lumpy, his rumpled suit clung to him awkwardly - hadn't he managed to dress himself in his pajamas before falling asleep?
The thought, however, was banished from his mind by the sound of footsteps. Edgeworth's eyes widened, and all of his muscles stiffened up at once as a chill ran down his sore spine. That wasn't Pess. That was something decidedly bipedal.
Though the room was dark, he could hear the doorknob turn, and the door creak open. Was it normally that creaky, or was his fear heightening his hearing?
"Daddy?" a soft, sleepy voice asked. "Is everything okay?"
He knew that voice. "Trucy?" he responded, brows furrowing in confusion. (What is Wright's daughter doing in my house? ...And furthermore, why does my voice sound like that?)
"I heard you shouting... is it your back? You really shouldn't have picked me up earlier..."
Edgeworth was growing steadily more befuddled, only half registering her words in his groggy state. "Trucy, what are you doing here?"
His eyes were adjusting to the darkness, and he could make out the teenager at the foot of his bed now. From what he could tell, Trucy was examining him closely.
"I'm... checking on you?" she said slowly, as though it were obvious. "Are you feeling okay?"
"I..." Edgeworth trailed off. His voice really did sound odd. Was he coming down with something? He thought he could chalk it up to fright pitching it up at first, but there was definitely something wrong with it. Pained and exhausted and confounded, he couldn't quite link his thoughts together the way he wanted to.
Trucy shuffled closer, enough so he could see the concern etched across her face now. "What's wrong? You look really freaked out."
It occurred to Edgeworth he could see her rather well, actually. Had he forgotten to take his glasses off, too? He reached up to check on them, but his fingers only met his temples.
Trucy scrutinized him, and then leaned back, suspicion etching itself across her features. "You're not Daddy," she said, frowning.
"Why do you...?" She squinted. "No. Wait. Is this some kind of trick?"
"Trucy, what in the world are you talking about? What..." Edgeworth looked around, and came to the abrupt conclusion that he was not, in fact, in his room at home. This was a sparsely decorated bedroom, and the reason his bed felt so uncomfortable was because it was not, in fact, his bed. "Are we at your apartment?"
Trucy just continued to stare at him like he was talking complete nonsense. Her eyes were getting so wide, he was worried they might fall out of her head.
"Trucy, where's Wright? Is this his room?" he asked. Worry and confusion were battling for dominance in his head at this point.
"...Uncle Miles?" Her voice was uncharacteristically hushed.
Her hands flew up to her mouth. "Oh."
"Trucy, can you please explain what's going on?" He was definitely starting to feel panicked now. She clearly knew something he didn't, and she wasn't telling him what it was.
In response, she grabbed his wrist and pulled with more strength than he expected from a sixteen year old girl. He was yanked right out of bed, and only his reflexes let him stand up instead of topple to the floor.
"This is nuts," she whispered, all but dragging the disoriented Edgeworth out of the bedroom and into the hall. "This is nuts!"
"Trucy, for the love of--"
She shoved open the door to what was evidently the bathroom, and pulled Edgeworth in front of the sink. Then she reached over and flicked the light switch.
"Ngh--!" He flinched, squeezing his eyes shut as the fluorescent lighting assaulted his sight. Edgeworth blinked a few times, managing to recover enough to see after a moment. He turned to Trucy. "What's the meaning of..."
She pointed insistently at the sink. Edgeworth turned toward it, and then gave a start as Wright practically appeared out of nowhere. He made a rather embarrassing noise and stumbled backwards, further aggravating his aching spine as it slammed into the towel bar.
"U-Uncle Miles!" Trucy grabbed his arm again, steadying him.
"What-- where did he-- why is Wright--"
"Uncle Miles, that's a mirror!"
"Look!" She pulled him closer again, enough for Edgeworth to see the reflection of a stunned, spooked Trucy clinging onto... an image of her father, looking like he'd seen a ghost.
"T... Trucy," he began, "now really isn't the time for one of your magic tricks..."
"This isn't a trick!" she pleaded. "Or at the very least, I'm not the one doing this! Just-- just look at yourself!"
Edgeworth reached out to touch the mirror, as though the image would correct itself. The reflection of Wright copied him.
Edgeworth stared at the hand pressed against the mirror. Tanned, freckled, definitely not his. But it was responding like his. His eyes followed it up his white sleeve, and across his chest, and he was wearing Wright's wrinkled waistcoat and half-tied tie. He looked back at the reflection, and lifted his hand, now trembling, up to his hair. Spiky, fluffy, and all wrong.
The image of Wright - of him - blanched visibly as his mouth slowly opened.
"Uncle Miles!" Trucy was gripping both his shoulders. "Uncle Miles, breathe!"
"I-- why-- what-- who--?!"
"Just breathe! We'll figure this out, o-okay?"
He felt like he was going to pass out. The world spun, and his hand - Wright's hand - came up to grasp the towel bar for support.
"Trucy," he managed to choke out, "why the hell do I look exactly like Wright?"
"I-I don't know," she stammered, looking as frightened and bewildered as he felt. "But I think you should sit down. I-I'll get you some water or something, don't faint, okay?"
She lowered him to the bathroom floor, and he sat down heavily, chest heaving as he tried to regulate his breathing. Now that he knew what was wrong, everything felt wrong, from the odd stiffness in his ankle to the stubborn lock of hair hanging in his eyes to the worn calluses on his hands.
There was a hiss from somewhere up above as Trucy turned on the sink, then the steadily rising pitch of a cup being filled. She turned off the faucet with a squeak, and then she was kneeling beside him, pushing the paper cup into his trembling hands. He tried to lift it to his lips, and spilled it on his shirt instead. Trucy winced.
His mind was reeling. He could barely string together a coherent thought. All he could think was that he was Wright and that was wrong. Trucy watched him nervously as he continued to try and slow his breathing, hands hovering over him but not quite touching him, like she was worried she'd hurt him.
Finally, he made the effort to speak again. "Trucy," he managed, voice tight and strained.
"Yeah, Uncle Miles?"
"If... if I'm Wright..."
Trucy froze, and then all the color drained out of her face.
(...Maybe I shouldn't have said that.)
"Um," she squeaked, "maybe he's... you?"
The thought horrified him, enough to jumpstart his brain a little. Phoenix Wright, running around and making an idiot of himself as usual, all while looking like Miles Edgeworth?
(I feel a headache coming on...)
"T... Try calling him," he stammered, then paused. "Er. Me? My number, I mean."
Trucy nodded, pulling out her cell. "I hope he's alright... he's probably freaking out too, and he doesn't have anyone to help him out!"
That was true. A dog could not exactly offer the same moral support as a daughter. He could only imagine what was going through Wright's head at this moment…
Trucy dialed and set her phone to speakerphone. They both waited with bated breath as the other line rang.
And went to voicemail.
Trucy looked shaken. "It... that doesn't mean anything. Maybe... maybe he's still asleep! It is pretty early, after all!"
"Y-Yes. I concur. Try again."
Ring... ring... click. Edgeworth and Trucy both stiffened.
"H'lo?" came a deep voice from the other end, sleepy and a little grumpy. It was undoubtedly Edgeworth's, and he shuddered. (This is giving me chills...)
"Truce, izzat you? What're you doin', callin' me...?"
The only thing worse than hearing Edgeworth's own voice, he decided, was hearing it with all of Wright's casual inflections.
"Daddy, where are you?"
"'M in bed... why wouldn' I...?"
The suspense was killing him. "Wright," Edgeworth snapped, "take a look at yourself."
"E-Edgeworth? Is that you? You sound sick... wait, why are you with Trucy...?"
"I'm sure you'll figure that out once you actually get a good look at yourself!" he barked. He was on edge. He'd been panicked from the moment he awoke, and Wright got to act casual about all this?!
"What's that s'posed to even..." There was a shuffling noise on the other end. "S' still dark. I can barely see my own hand in front of my face. What time is it? Why's... what's goin' on? And... geez, I think I'm coming down with something, is that my voice?"
"No, Wright, it's mine, in fact." He was growing steadily more irritated. How dense was this man? (Never mind the fact Trucy had to spell it out for me...)
"What? Hey, wait a minute, you sound kinda like..."
"For God's sake, Wright, we've gone and switched bodies somehow!"
"H-Huh?!" Now he finally sounded a little panicked. "Edgeworth, what-- surely you can't be serious!"
"Dead serious." (And don't call me Shirley.) "Trucy is here with me in your apartment, and I believe you are in my house."
"Wait-- you-- hold it--" Edgeworth recognized that flabbergasted tone; it was the one Wright took on whenever evidence that didn't favor his case was presented in court. Once again, hearing that in Edgeworth's voice made him extremely unsettled. He could practically picture that ridiculous expression of Wright's on his face, and his stomach twisted.
There were a few more rustles, a quiet thump, and then a muffled shriek of horror that made Edgeworth and Trucy recoil. Even more fumbling, and then Wright was back on the line, voice strained with panic.
"E-E-Edgeworth! I'm-- you're--"
"Good, we're all caught up," he commented drily.
Somewhere in the background of the call, a dog started barking. "GAH!" yelped Wright.
"Sounds like you've woken Pess." He pinched the bridge of his nose in annoyance. "You'll have to go calm her down."
"Uncle Miles, what if she can tell he's not you?" Trucy asked. "Won't that just make it worse?"
"I think she's at the door," Wright whimpered. Sure enough, the barking had gotten louder.
"She's not going to be quiet until you show her you're unharmed, Wright. Open the door."
There was a muttered "oh, boy" and then a pause as Wright presumably followed directions. "Uh, see? I'm fine, girl...!"
A low growl began to sound.
More barking, another shriek, and then distinct crashing and thumping noises, along with desperate cries of "down, Pess! Good dog!"
Edgeworth lowered his head into his hands. This was going to be a very, very long day.
"Pess fucking killed him dude" - one of my friends beta reading this
Phoenix makes a promise and immediately breaks it.
I am STILL riding that hyperfixation so here's another chapter but then I'm probably gonna take a break after this one so I don't know when I'll update again whoops
By the time Phoenix had managed to convince Pess he wasn't someone with horrible intentions that had her master tied up somewhere, it was starting to get light out. He staggered over to the abandoned phone on the bed, squinting at the screen, and wasn't all too surprised to see that Edgeworth had hung up on him at some point. He probably had his own mess to sort out - namely, Phoenix's everything.
(As much as I want to hide in here and wait for whatever's happening to me and Edgeworth to un-happen, Edgeworth is probably gonna want to keep up appearances, I'm sure of it. And I'm expected to be in court today, too.) He picked up the phone and dialed... well, his own number. It was weird.
"Wright," Edgeworth greeted.
(He's still got that accent... oh, no, am I going to have to put on an accent?)
"Uh, hey, Edgeworth. Pess is all settled down, I think... I managed to find the kibble in the kitchen and fill her water and food bowls..."
"You exceed expectations, then."
Phoenix wrinkled his nose in annoyance. (It just seemed like common sense!)
"Now, as for our... predicament," Edgeworth sighed, "I would not take a day off unless I was physically unable to attend, so cutting work is absolutely out of the question for you."
"I was afraid of that..." Phoenix leaned against the dresser pushed up beside the bed, and gave it a cursory glance. There was an old shoe sitting there, along with a pair of glasses. He shifted his head sideways and his shoulder upwards to hold the phone, then reached down to pick up the spectacles.
"I am of the firm belief that nobody needs to know about this. The last time the general public caught wind that something supernatural was involved in court, well..."
Phoenix paused his inspection to suck on his teeth. "Yeah. I remember. Don't worry about it, Edgeworth. My lips are sealed."
"Just... try not to make a spectacle out of yourself today, Wright. I would hope you know me enough to act like me for one day."
"Psh, I know plenty about you, Edgeworth," he bragged, turning the glasses around and slipping them on. He nearly dropped the phone. "Oh, man, you really are blind."
There was a heavy sigh on the other end of the line. "Now, as for... hygiene. I hope I can expect you to act mature and professional about this?"
"Huh?" Phoenix blinked.
"Ngh..." A pause. "I need to be clean, Wright."
"Oh. OH. Yeah. Right." He could feel his face heat up. "I, uh, forgot about that."
"Just... make it quick, and for goodness' sake, read the directions on the bottles."
"Hey, come on, Edgeworth, I'm not an animal."
Edgeworth scoffed. "It should be a slow day for you, but I expect to see you at court before the trial so we can speak further about this in person."
"Yeah. Maybe we can fix this before you have to play defense attorney again... aw, great, I forgot." He rubbed the back of his neck.
"The kids," Phoenix explained. "They're lie-detecting machines. You're gonna have your work cut out for you today."
"The ki... ah. Your subordinates. I... I will find a way to manage."
"You always do. Alright, anything else before we try not to make a mess out of each others' lives?"
"Just... try to actually use your head today, for once in your life, Wright." A pause. "Goodbye."
(He's got too little faith in me.)
An hour and a half later, Phoenix had his face pressed against the fence in the parking garage for the prosecutors' office, wheezing for air and wondering how the hell he hadn't been pulled over for violating at least six separate traffic laws.
(Okay. Maybe I shouldn't have driven when I don't technically have a license. The bus driver makes it look so easy...!)
He jerked himself away, abruptly remembering that he was in public and the Chief Prosecutor and should not be leaning against dirty fences.
(This is gonna be harder than I thought.)
After getting his breathing under control and ensuring Edgeworth's fancy car was locked, which thankfully took little time now that he'd figured out how the key fob worked, he headed up the stairs and started for the building.
He'd visited the prosecutors' offices a few times before, the most notable incident being State v. Skye, but it did little to prepare him for the enormity of the building. If memory served, Edgeworth worked on the twelfth floor... but his office had probably changed since his promotion. (Maybe there's a directory I can sneak a peek at without being too obvious about it?)
He didn't even get that far. Not three steps into the building and he was greeted with a sharp "Miles Edgeworth!" that shot chills up his spine. He slowly turned to face Franziska von Karma, who was storming towards him, whip in hand. It took all his willpower not to cower.
"You foolish fool, what have you done to yourself?"
"H-Huh?" he stuttered. "I mean--"
"What do you call this?" she snapped, hooking her whip on her belt before reaching up for his neck. Phoenix stiffened, but she only began to undo his cravat.
"You look absolutely foolish, Miles Edgeworth. Hold still."
He stood there, completely stunned, as Franziska fixed the horrible knot he'd attempted to replicate from WikiHow. She pulled it a little tighter than what was probably necessary, but then she stood back, hands on her hips.
"What could have possibly had you so distracted that you tied your cravat in such a foolish fashion?"
"Er," he said, but she plowed onwards.
"And your hair! You look like that foolish defense attorney you're so fond of!"
She reached up again to try and fix the stubborn lock of hair that had drifted out of place - it seemed some things never changed - and made a noise of disgruntlement when it refused to stay put. "Foolish," she spat.
"Is there... something you need, Franziska?" he managed.
"Absolutely not. I will defeat that foolish defense attorney and his foolish lackeys today entirely without your help." She turned away from him with a huff.
"Well, uh, if that's i-- ahem, if that's all, I should, uh, really be going. Important... business to attend to and all that." He gave her a nod, and started for the elevator across the lobby.
He was three quarters of the way there when a hand grabbed him and whirled him around again. "Miles Edgeworth," Franziska hissed, brow furrowed, but eyes wide, "where do you think you're going?"
"Seriously, Franziska, if something's wrong--"
"Answer the question!" She shook him.
His voice died in his throat.
Franziska dug her fingers into his arm, and she dragged him towards the stairwell. "You foolish fool, I don't know what side of the bed you must have woken up on to be acting like this, but it is entirely unacceptable."
Franziska pulled Phoenix up two flights of stairs and into what looked like a temporary office before slamming the door behind her. Phoenix gulped.
"Miles Edgeworth, you are going to explain what has gotten into you right now."
Phoenix considered lying for half a second.
Then she unhooked her whip, and he decided it wasn't going to be worth the trouble.
"It's Phoenix!" he blurted, holding his hands up.
Franziska froze. She looked at him, flabbergasted.
"You... you mean to tell me... that foolish defense attorney..."
"Yes, okay, I--"
"You foolish fool, I told you he would be a distraction!" She cracked her whip for emphasis.
Phoenix blinked. "Eh?"
"You mean to tell me you have been daydreaming about that fool so badly you nearly walked yourself into an elevator, Miles Edgeworth?!"
"D-Daydreaming?!" Phoenix's face flushed. "Hold it--"
"Look at you, you even make the same foolish expressions he does now! I have told you time and time again, either act on these feelings or dismiss them, but do not let them distract you from your work! Do you realize what could have happened if--"
"What do you mean, feelings?!" he squawked, certain he was as red as the suit he was now wearing. "Are you telling me Edgeworth likes me?!"
"Do not play dumb with me, Mi--" Franziska faltered again. She had an indescribable expression on her face now. "...what?"
"Okay. Okay." He held up his hands in a surrender position. "Long story. We don't know how it happened. But I'm not Edgeworth. I'm Phoenix. I'm stuck in his body, and he's in mine."
There was a long pause.
Then Franziska reared back and whipped him.
"How DARE you try and deceive me, Phoenix Wright?!"
"Don't whip me! Wait, you really believe I'm Phoe-- GAH!"
"Of course I do! What do you take me for, a fool?! It makes sense! My little brother would never allow himself to be seen in public in such a state!"
(Am I really that much of a wreck, or does Franziska just know Edgeworth better?)
"Hold it, what was all that about feelings earlier?"
"That is between myself and Miles Edgeworth, fool!" She cracked her whip against him once again, and he screeched in pain. "Tell me, how do you plan to fix this foolish situation?"
"We're... still working on it! I've got a trial today, so Edgeworth has to fill in for me!"
Franziska paused to consider this, coiling her whip tightly in her hands. "So he is once again acting as a defense attorney at your request?"
"Well... yeah, sorta, but it's also kinda necessary this time," he mused, rubbing the sore spots on his chest where she'd lashed him.
She sniffed at him haughtily. "Honestly, that fool would lay down his dignity for you... he is most likely making a fool of himself at your offices even as we speak."
"Edgeworth? No way. I'm pretty sure he's got this. He's way more disciplined than I am."
"Yes, and that is the issue."
Phoenix thought about it. (Edgeworth does have a history of difficulty expressing his actual thoughts and emotions about things... oh, boy.)
"Uh... maybe we should check in on him."
Franziska snorted. "Let him manage. He got himself into this foolish situation, he will accept what it brings upon him."
(She says that like those two are gonna give him a tough time somehow. I mean, they might notice something's off, but... they wouldn't worry too much about it, right?)
Edgeworth tries to avoid arousing suspicion and fails miserably.
AA3 and AA5 spoilers are briefly mentioned!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Edgeworth could tell Wright's subordinates were making an attempt to keep their voices down, judging by the rasping, whispery qualities of them, but they were not doing a very fine job of it.
"I swear, something's off about him," Mr. Justice hissed to Miss Cykes. "He hasn't said ten words to us since he showed up with Trucy."
"No, yeah, I totally see it," Miss Cykes agreed. Edgeworth could picture the determined, suspicious look on her face; he was currently scrutinizing a piece of paperwork in order to avoid arousing suspicion of eavesdropping. "He's so... stony today. Maybe it's just nerves?"
"Mr. Wright doesn't do paperwork when he's nervous, he cleans."
(Does he? I hadn't noticed. Was that why he was always so insistent on rearranging his surroundings whenever I invited him and Trucy to Europe?)
Edgeworth decided he should probably find a way to cut in somehow. And besides, if he was going to pull this off, he needed whatever information Wright had gathered yesterday. (Act... casual.) He cleared his throat and turned to the lawyers huddled together across the room.
"Er... what are you two talking about?"
Both of them jumped; Miss Cykes's face grew pale, while Mr. Justice's flushed. "N-Nothing, sir!" the latter stammered, much louder than he needed to.
"Yep, nothing going on over here!" Miss Cykes tacked on.
(Terrible liars, the both of them.)
"Well, if you aren't busy, Mi-- Athena," he quickly corrected himself, "could I review with you what we discovered yesterday before we leave for the trial?"
"Oh, uh, sure thing, boss." She and Mr. Justice exchanged a nervous glance before she crossed the room and approached the desk. "What, uh... what do you need?"
"Only a refresher, Athena. Jog my memory. What did we find? I'm afraid I'm a little out of it this morning..."
"I'LL SAY!" chirped that odd necklace of Miss Cykes', and she slapped a hand over it.
"Widget!" she hissed, looking positively mortified. "What I mean is, I-I'll say, uh, exactly what you need me to, boss!"
(She's an even worse liar than I initially thought.)
"Everything we learned from the crime scene and Ms. Boot will do, Athena," he said, then added in a little nod.
Athena was still regarding him with visible suspicion, but she recounted what they discovered anyway, including a bit of evidence the police had neglected - there was a pair of boots in one of the shoeboxes that crammed the store that looked well-worn, compared to the freshness of the rest of the shop's stock.
Well, most of the rest of it. There was that old pair of shoes in the office, and to no surprise, Edgeworth had found the mate of the one he'd thoughtlessly pocketed sitting on Wright's dresser that morning. (His snatching was most likely on purpose, however.)
He retrieved the old loafer from his pocket. While the one he'd taken was blue, this one was red. Miss Cykes pursed her lips when she saw it.
"Oh, yeah, Ms. Boot was saying something about those shoes. Apparently they had value to Mr. Boot. Ms. Boot doesn't think they're worth much, though."
"Hm," was all he said, and he re-pocketed the loafer. "Thank you, Athena."
"What? Yeah, sure thing, boss. Hey, uh, you... you feeling okay?" He could tell she was forcing herself to keep her tone light. "Don't want you to get all muddled on the day of the trial, y'know?"
"I assure you, I am perfectly well."
Edgeworth recalled too late he was supposed to be sounding like Wright, and Miss Cykes was now fixing him with a positively accusatory stare.
"Uh... yeah. Okay." She backed up a couple steps, then all but bolted back across the room to Apollo, who was fixing Edgeworth with a stare and clutching his bracelet.
Edgeworth ducked down towards his paperwork again, straining his ears even though it was entirely unnecessary.
"Did you hear that?!" Miss Cykes wheezed. "What's gotten into him?!"
"He's definitely hiding something," Mr. Justice replied gravely. "But there's something else."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"His tell is different."
Edgeworth felt his limbs stiffen.
"You know how when Mr. Wright lies, the corner of his mouth twitches, like it's trying to say what he's not?"
(It does? I hadn't been aware of that. Wait, how is he capable of seeing if I'm doing that from across the room?)
"He didn't do that. Instead, his right hand started twitching, like he wanted to use it. He's never done that before."
Edgeworth resisted the urge to grab his arm.
"And... what does that mean?" Miss Cykes sounded nervous.
"I... this might sound crazy," Mr. Justice answered, pausing for a moment, "but I don't think that's Mr. Wright."
"S-Seriously?!" Miss Cykes choked. "What... what do you think it is, then?! Did the Phantom escape from jail? Is he out for revenge on us?!"
"I don't think it's that. The physical disguise is perfect, but the acting's pretty sloppy."
"Ngh," Edgeworth grunted under his breath. Miss Cykes flinched and turned to him, and he made a point of looking busy.
Apparently, she deemed it safe to continue. "Yeah, he's acting all... stiff. You might be onto something, Polly."
"Don't call me tha... wait, Trucy! Trucy was with Mr. Wright this morning, she should be able to tell if something's off!" Mr. Justice sounded proud of himself. "She's lived with him for eight years. If anyone can figure out if this is an impostor, it's her."
"Well, that and maybe Mr. Edgeworth, but I think he's busy."
(Oh, you have no idea.)
Trucy, for her part, was shuffling cards in another corner of the room. Edgeworth watched from behind a sheet of paper as the younger lawyers approached her. She gave them both a bright smile.
"Thena! Polly! You guys wanna see a new trick I've been working on?"
"Trucy," Mr. Justice said, voice heavy with urgency, "is something wrong with Mr. Wright?"
Trucy blinked. "Huh?"
Miss Cykes chimed in. "He's acting all weird and stiff. And he asked me about stuff he should already know! Don't you think that's suspicious?"
(Oh, dear. Now she's caught up even further in this lie... those two are going to become even more paranoid. There's no way around it... I'll have to--)
"I'm sure Daddy's fine! He's just worried about today, that's all!"
Mr. Justice and Miss Cykes exchanged baffled looks. "Y... You're serious?" Mr. Justice responded, looking bewildered.
"Of course!" Trucy gave them a winning smile.
"You don't think anything's wrong with the boss?"
"I think he's got a lot on his plate today, and he's probably super nervous, but it'll all sort itself out eventually."
Edgeworth observed the exchange in silence. (She's not technically lying or hiding her feelings regarding the matter... simply omitting certain information. Very clever of her.)
However, it wasn't enough to convince the other members of the agency. As they pulled away from her, they resumed their panicked conversation.
"Whoever this guy is, he's got Trucy fooled somehow!"
"Trucy's usually pretty perceptive, too. Polly, what do we do?"
"Go to the police?"
"Are they gonna believe us? Remember that Furio Tigre story Mr. Wright told us?"
Edgeworth certainly remembered, and his lip curled in disgust. How that person managed to fool an entire courtroom like that, he would never know. (Then again, I managed to fool the courts into thinking I was a defense attorney myself... not my finest moment, yet here I am, about to do it again.)
Miss Cykes socked a fist against an open palm. "I say we tie him up and grill him, like those old cop shows!"
Mr. Justice blanched. "No???"
"Come on! I'll be bad cop, you'll be loud cop!"
"Athena, that's not even a thing! Besides, wh-what if we're wrong and this is Mr. Wright? Innocent until proven guilty, right?"
"Hmph... that doesn't mean we can't be suspicious."
Edgeworth pressed his fingers to his forehead and sighed. How in the world did Wright get anything done around here? (I have a newfound appreciation for that man's patience... not that I didn't appreciate it before, amongst other things.)
He shook himself. Now was not the time to be daydreaming. He had a case to figure out and two subordinates to avoid scrutiny from. His hands were far too full to afford to be lost in thought today.
Guilt stabbed at him, however, as his thoughts stubbornly wandered anyway. (I struck a nerve with Wright yesterday, and the panic of today had pushed the incident almost entirely out of my mind. Wright must still be smarting from it. I need to apologize and correct my behavior. The last thing I need is to lose him again.)
He had some semblance of a plan now, at least, even if it didn't make the shame sting much less. Once they got to court, he would speak with Wright about what happened yesterday. If he no longer wanted his help with things, then so be it. Edgeworth was not going to overstep his boundaries.
Kinda short today, but I've honestly been itching to write a scene like this since I first came up with the AU.
Phoenix goes to court and receives an apology.
Phoenix suggested they walk to the courthouse, but he made the mistake of mentioning he'd driven to the office, and after lashing him for it, Franziska positively insisted she get behind the wheel to save time. As he handed over the keys, he felt relieved.
Unfortunately, Franziska was just as bad a driver as her little brother.
She was no Phoenix, sure; she clearly knew her way around a vehicle and looked to be in complete control behind the wheel. What was so concerning was that she broke the speed limits anyway.
They reached the courthouse in record time, and Phoenix had to actually peel himself out of his seat, sticky with sweat. He was shaking even harder than he had after his own misadventure with the automobile, and he wasn't sure if his heart was beating too fast for him to even feel it or if it had simply stopped.
(That settles it. I'm never getting in a car again.)
Franziska looked entirely unimpressed with him as he stumbled out of the passenger side door, trying to keep himself propped up on legs that had apparently decided to turn themselves into jelly. "I have no idea what all that fuss was about."
Phoenix reached up to massage his sore throat through his cravat. "Haven't you ever heard of a speed limit?" he rasped.
"Speed limits are for those who have not perfected control of their vehicles," she huffed in reply. "You are lucky Miles Edgeworth is not the one prosecuting this case. You sound horrid, no doubt from your foolish shrieking."
(My shrieking was entirely reasonable, thank you very much!)
She waited rather impatiently as Phoenix caught his breath, muttering to herself in some other language, and pausing to say, "If you make me late, I will not forgive you, Phoenix Wright."
"We're in public," he managed to wheeze out. "I'm supposed to be Edgeworth, remember?"
She rolled her eyes. "Of course I remember. We are simply away from prying eyes and ears at the present moment."
(You don't know that for sure...)
A couple more minutes passed, and he finally gained his bearings enough to follow Franziska into the courthouse. The proceedings for that day were taking place in Courtroom No. 1, so they headed in that direction.
(That's the courtroom where I first met Edgeworth as a lawyer. I wonder if it's symbolic somehow that we'll see each other like this there.)
A splash of primary colors was waiting for them when they arrived in the lobby. It seemed the entire Wright Anything Agency had come along for the trial. Athena and Apollo were huddled together, whispering far louder than they probably meant to, and standing a ways away from them, holding the hand of his daughter, was…
"Wright," he said. The greeting felt awkward and clumsy, despite only being a syllable.
"Edgeworth." His own face stared back at him, but the stern, practiced expression of calm was all Edgeworth's. "It's about time you two showed up. The trial's about to start."
Franziska scowled at Edgeworth, and began speaking to him in rapid-fire German. Edgeworth took on an expression of shock that was far more befitting of Phoenix's face - not that he'd admit that - and looked over at him, stunned.
Now Phoenix knew exactly what people meant by being able to read him like a book. Edgeworth's expression all but cried aloud, you told her?!
He shrugged and grinned helplessly, then glanced over to his subordinates. Apollo was squinting at Edgeworth suspiciously, while Athena looked absolutely bewildered, gaze fixed on the still-raving Franziska. Trucy hadn't let go of Edgeworth's hand, but she gave Phoenix that special smile just for him.
For a moment, he could forget all this craziness was going on. He smiled back. They'd sort this out.
"Edgeworth," came his own voice. (Oh, right, that's me now.) Edgeworth was looking at him intensely. Franziska had apparently finished her tirade, and was now standing there in haughty silence. "Could I sp-- Could I... talk to you for a minute? Over there?"
(He's probably gonna lecture me for sweating on his suit or something...)
Phoenix nodded, resisting the urge to swallow nervously, and Edgeworth led him to the corner of the lobby furthest from any possible witnesses. It was so weird to be dragged off by himself, but not himself.
Edgeworth lowered his voice. "Wright, I... want to apologize for yesterday. I didn't mean to overstep my boundaries like that, and I can... stop offering assistance, if you truly feel it's not required."
Phoenix blinked. "I... what?"
He looked stunned for a second, then shook himself. "Of course, you must have forgotten, what with everything happening today--"
"Wait, wait, you mean our argument or whatever?"
"I wouldn't go so far as to call it that."
"No, Edgeworth, listen, I was being stupid." He reached up impulsively and grabbed Edgeworth's wrist. Edgeworth stiffened, eyes flicking down to look at the hand on him, then back up to Phoenix's face. "I don't want you going out of your way to help me because I know you're so busy all the time, with so much other stuff. You're the Chief Prosecutor, you have so many things to worry about that are way more important than a hole in the shoe of some defense attorney."
Edgeworth's brow furrowed in a way that would have been familiar on his own face. "Wright, what makes you think you aren't important to me?"
Phoenix blinked again. "Huh?"
"Mr. Wright," came Apollo's piercing call, "the trial's about to start!"
The two jumped away from one another as though electrified, and Edgeworth audibly cleared his throat. "Coming, M-- Apollo."
He strode off without another glance at Phoenix, leaving him reeling.
What makes you think you aren't important to me?
"Miles Edgeworth," Franziska said icily - when had she approached him? - "wipe that foolish look off your face and move before you make us both late."
With a nod, he staggered after her, turning the words over and over again in his head.
(Edgeworth... just how much do I mean to you?)
"Court is now in session for the trial of Chelsea Boot," the judge intoned, his voice echoing through the courtroom.
"The, er, the defense is ready, Your Honor," Edgeworth stammered. Phoenix winced at the fumble, and he could see Apollo shoot his "boss" an apprehensive glance.
The judge squinted. "Mr. Wright, my eyesight may not be what it used to, but… is that a hole in your shoe?"
Edgeworth flinched. "Ngh! I-- that's not relevant, Your Honor!"
(Oh, give me a break! I didn't even notice… did he really not go and replace them?)
The judge shook his head disapprovingly. "I expect my courtroom to be taken seriously, Mr. Wright! Showing up looking like this is simply unacceptable!"
(Seriously?! I've seen the kind of things you allow in your courtroom! Attack birds are okay, but you draw the line at shoes with holes?!)
"I-It won't happen again, sir," Edgeworth grunted out, leaning heavily on the bench. He was clearly struggling to contain his embarrassment. (I can feel it from all the way over here… but that might be because it's technically my fashion sense he's insulting.)
"The prosecution is ready, Your Honor," Franziska interrupted smoothly. Phoenix was thankful to see she'd mellowed out at least a little over the span of eight years. She could have chimed in at any point to mock her little brother as well, but she seemed ready to just get this over with.
"Ah, yes, thank you. Will the prosecution give its opening statement?"
Franziska pulled her whip tightly between her hands. "The prosecution asserts that the defendant is guilty of the murder of her father, Chukka Boot. She was the only one with access to the crime scene and the murder weapon. There is no reason to doubt the facts of this case."
(Is it bad I'm poising myself to pick her case apart? I'm supposed to be on the prosecution's side right now... even though I promised Chelsea I'd get her a not guilty verdict...)
Judging from Edgeworth's expression, he was having similar thoughts. Apollo continued to squint at him doubtfully. (Poor kid. His bracelet must be trying to amputate his hand at this point...)
"Very well," the judge said. "Ms. von Karma, you may call your first witness."
"The prosecution calls the defendant, Chelsea Boot, to the stand," she said firmly.
Phoenix leaned forward. No matter what side he was on, he had to focus. This was still his job, and he had the feeling this case was linked to whatever had happened to him and Edgeworth. He was determined to help solve this - both for his client's sake, and for theirs.
Athena, who speaks German: wh
Edgeworth learns about lie detectors and watches a lie fall apart.
Edgeworth needed to focus. Franziska's words were still ringing in his ears - You're lucky he has me to look after him, you know! Do you have any idea what he's been doing?! I swear, he's going to walk himself right off the edge of a building if I don't keep hold of him! How in the world did you manage to fall for a fool like him?! - and Wright's stunned expression on his own face, like a moment of dawning comprehension, was etched into his mind.
He leaned forward on one hand as the defendant was ushered to the stand. Then, at poor Mr. Justice's incredulous look, he remembered he was supposed to be Wright, and switched to two.
Ms. Boot didn't look thrilled to be there. He couldn't blame her. She twisted a lock of dyed hair around her finger.
"The defendant will state her name and occupation," Franziska said. Beside her, Wright wore a rather worried expression that really did not belong on Edgeworth's face.
"Chelsea Boot," the defendant sighed, entirely unenthused. "I guess I work for my dad, but he's kinda gone and kicked the bucket, so... unemployed?"
Franziska was unmoved. "Defendant, please testify about the night the victim was murdered."
Ms. Boot rolled her eyes. "Fine."
"Dad had me help close up shop that night. We didn't talk much. We never really do.
"After a while, I decided to call it quits, and I headed up to the apartment built into the second story.
"I went to my room, and I was alone for the rest of the night.
"I fell asleep around twelve, and I didn't wake up until around eight, and, well, you know what happened then."
(I don't see any particularly glaring flaws...) Edgeworth frowned, and reached down to open up the court record. Surely something contradicted all this.
"She's lying," Mr. Justice muttered beside him.
Edgeworth's head snapped up. "Pa-- what?"
His subordinate gave him another look. "I said she's lying... Mr. Wright." That last part seemed hesitant. (Well, I can't blame him...)
Mr. Justice clutched his bracelet. "I'll know it when I see it. Just... get on with the cross-examination."
Wright's words from that phone call came to him. The kids... they're lie-detecting machines. Did Mr. Justice have some sort of special ability Edgeworth wasn't aware of?
"If that is all," the judge said, "the defense may begin its cross-examination."
(Well... it looks like I'm about to find out.)
He kept giving Mr. Justice little glances as the cross-examination began. He was touching his bracelet, looking right at Ms. Boot with a startling intensity. (It's the same glare he's been giving me all morning...)
As Ms. Boot repeated herself about going to her room, Mr. Justice stiffened, and his eyes just about bugged out of his head. Edgeworth took a small step back. (Is he alright?!)
"...and I was alone f--"
Edgeworth jumped, and looked over to the prosecutor's bench for some sort of explanation. Franziska seemed thrown by the sheer volume the little man was capable of, but Wright had a proud smile on his face, similar to the one he'd wear whenever they went to one of Trucy's magic shows.
"Ms. Boot, I don't know if you know this," Mr. Justice began, "but when you said alone just now, you started twisting the bracelets on your arm!"
(What in the world...?)
Ms. Boot flinched. "Yeah? What of it?"
"It's a nervous tic. You're lying about being alone that night!" he asserted.
"Oh, yeah? Then who was I with, wise guy?!" she shot back, looking irritated. "There's nobody that lives in that apartment besides me and Dad!"
(Maybe not... but I can think of someone you may have invited in!)
He shuffled through the papers for a certain profile... and... it wasn't present.
(Wh-What?! Where is it?!)
Mr. Justice looked rather sheepish. He rubbed his head awkwardly, averting his gaze. "I, uh..."
A thought struck Edgeworth. (Did the defense not receive a profile on that Mr. Hart?! Franziska!) He shot her a glare, but she only gave him a self-satisfied smirk. Beside her, Wright looked bewildered.
"If the defense has no evidence to back up its claims of a possible third party," the judge sighed, shaking his head, "I will have no choice but to penal--"
He was NOT prepared for his own voice to ring out across the courtroom without his input. Edgeworth looked at Wright again, and saw Franziska mouthing something like what are you doing? as he held out a sheet of paper.
(Is that... it is!)
"The prosecution would like to submit new evidence to the public record!"
"Whose side are you on here, fool?!" Franziska hissed loudly.
"The side of the truth," he responded with a grin. "The prosecution interviewed a possible witness yesterday, and we would like to reveal his identity to the court."
The profile was submitted to the court record, and Edgeworth allowed himself a smirk.
"With this new evidence," he called, "the defense would like to assert that Ms. Boot was not alone in her apartment. She had a visitor at the time... her boyfriend, Brogan Hart!"
Ms. Boot flinched back. "Alright! Fine! He was there! But he's got nothing to do with this!" she snapped. "He-- he didn't do anything!"
The gallery erupted, and so did Franziska.
"What do you think you're doing, undermining me like that, you fool?!" she screeched at Wright, who grinned sheepishly and stepped back, holding his hands up.
"Franziska, we really should be honest if we want the truth to come out--"
"I cannot believe your nerve, you step behind this bench once and think yourself above my authority, I am the lead prosecution, you--"
Mr. Justice looked bug-eyed. He was staring right at Wright as he futilely attempted to tame the wrath of Franziska, who was now drawing her whip.
"I ought to knock you out the way I did when we first faced off--"
"You'd whip your own brother into unconsciousness in court?!"
"Do not tell me what I can and cannot do, fool! My little brother would naturally face the same punishment if he were to pull the same stunt!"
Beside Edgeworth, Mr. Justice stiffened. He looked at Edgeworth. Then back at Wright and Franziska. His mouth fell open.
The bellow was loud enough to make Edgeworth cover his ears. Wright's head snapped in the direction of the defense's bench. "Apollo, volume, we talked about--"
Then he blanched.
A sheepish grin crossed his face. "Uh, oops."
Mr. Justice looked mortified. He looked at Edgeworth again, wide-eyed, as though hoping for some kind of explanation.
Before he could get it, though, the judge slammed his gavel down. "Order! Order in this court! I'm calling a recess to process this new information and allow the prosecution and defense to collect themselves! Really, all of you are acting like schoolchildren!"
Another slam of his gavel, and people began to file out of the courtroom. Edgeworth followed the crowd, reeling. (So much for being subtle.) He managed to shoot a glare at Wright, who gave him a weak chuckle.
As soon as they were back out in the lobby, Miss Cykes and Trucy were rushing towards them. "Apollo, what the hell was that all about?" Miss Cykes started, looking pained. "You nearly blew my eardrums out!"
"Athena!" Mr. Justice gasped. "That's not Mr. Wright!"
"Hey, watch it! We can't reveal what we know in front of the impos--"
"That is!" he continued, and pointed in the direction of Wright and Franziska. The latter was yelling at the former again, and every sentence was punctuated with the crack of her whip and a yelp of pain.
Miss Cykes stared. "Wh... huh?"
Edgeworth heaved a sigh. "I suppose the cat is out of the bag, then, so to speak."
"Wait. Wait, slow down, what is happening right now?" Miss Cykes looked panicked. "So, you're saying... Mr. Edgeworth is... our boss?"
Trucy knocked a fist against her forehead. "Sorry, Uncle Miles. I did my best."
"That you did, Trucy," he mumbled, shaking his head.
Mr. Justice and Miss Cykes both blanched. "Trucy, you knew about this?!" Mr. Justice squeaked accusingly.
"Well, yeah, he kinda woke me up as soon as it happened."
"But... how did it happen?" Miss Cykes was squinting at Edgeworth now. "And how do we fix it?"
"It's an issue that will have to wait until we solve this case."
"Mr. Edgeworth, no offense, but you're a really bad actor," Mr. Justice groaned. "Why didn't you just tell us?"
"Would you have believed me?"
Mr. Justice touched his bracelet, and Miss Cykes reached for her necklace.
Edgeworth felt his face heat up a little. "Ah, er... verily," he muttered.
"I think you should go stop Miss von Karma before you don't have a body to go back to," Miss Cykes said weakly, pointing to the prosecution.
Edgeworth winced. The lashing had increased to every other word, and Wright looked faint. "Mr. Justice, I want you to take over as lead defense, with Miss Cykes as co-counsel."
"H-Huh?" Mr. Justice blinked. "Sure, but... what are you doing, then?"
Edgeworth reached up and straightened his tie. "My job," he said, and began to stride over.
Franziska turned on him as soon as he was within whipping range. "You! You are going to regret this fool was ever born to burden me today!"
"Franziska," he said, "I'm here to help keep him in check for you."
She paused, and squinted. "I do not need your help, little brother," she scoffed. "I have things handled perfectly."
"Your technique is only going to hurt me later, you know."
"Then that is your fault for allowing whatever foolishness this is to happen."
"Do I get a say in this?" Wright asked meekly. Both of them ignored him.
"I'd like to join you and Wright as co-counsel," Edgeworth said firmly.
Franziska stiffened. "I will not be seen with Phoenix Wright behind my bench."
"I could take over the case," Wright offered, and got another lash for his trouble. "YOW!"
"You will do no such thing, Phoenix Wright! I refuse to be upstaged by either of you!"
"I can keep him from blurting out anything else," Edgeworth offered. "Have him turn his thinking around."
Franziska considered this. "As long as neither of you dare to interrupt me, I shall allow it."
"Thanks for saving my hide," Wright groaned as the bailiff called them all back in.
"Technically, it's my hide," Edgeworth pointed out. "You're just borrowing it."
"Gee, thanks, Edgeworth."
He smiled a little. "Think of it as repayment for all the times you saved me."
Wright turned to look at him with wide eyes. "You-- Edgeworth, I told you that you don't need to repay me for any of that. I care about you. And... besides, you've saved me too. More times than I can count."
Edgeworth felt his own face heat up, and he was certain he looked ridiculous.
Then another call from the bailiff reminded them they were supposed to be in court, and they both scrambled for the doors.
Athena: My God! These bitches gay! Good for them! Good for them
Phoenix connects the dots and knocks himself out.
After some confusion from the judge at the sight of "Phoenix" at the prosecutor's bench, which was quickly silenced by a glare from Franziska, the trial finally continued, and Brogan was brought in.
The new witness was a mousy-looking man with a mop of red hair and a smattering of freckles. He put on a tentative smile when Franziska asked him for his name and occupation.
"Ah, well, the name's Brogan Hart, ma'am, and I'm a delivery man. I work for one of those new-fangled online delivery services, see, you order your food and I pick it up and drive it to you, easy as that."
The judge nodded along. "Yes, yes, I don't quite understand it myself, but my wife seems to have a good handle on it."
(Is now really the time for this?)
Franziska and Edgeworth both seemed to share Phoenix's sentiments. The former said, "I've heard enough. Witness, testify as to your whereabouts last night."
"Aw, shoot. Sure thing, ma'am." Brogan blushed and smiled.
(He seems innocent enough... but he's got to be hiding something. I just hope the kids can pick up on it...)
"I swung by to visit Chelse after the store closed last night. She's a real sweetheart, y'know?
"She let me upstairs and we stayed in her room a little while.
"I think she dozed off around midnight, so that was when I up and left.
"I left through the shop, but I didn't see anything suspicious. Nobody was up and about."
Phoenix was itching to point out the obvious contradiction, but Edgeworth gave him a warning look. He chuckled nervously.
"The defense may begin its cross-examination."
(Come on, kids, I know you heard it too. I've got faith in you!)
Phoenix watched with pride as Apollo and Athena listened to the testimony again, and cut Brogan off with a twin "HOLD IT!"
"The autopsy report states that Mr. Boot died around twelve AM, right when you said you were leaving!" Apollo declared.
"Yeah!" Athena chimed in. "The door connecting the shop to the apartment is in the back office. You were either there for the assault, or you had to have seen a dead body! How do you explain that, Mr. Hart?!"
"Hyeek!" Brogan flinched back, eyes wide. "Ah, well, I--"
"OBJECTION!" cried Franziska. "The autopsy report is not precise, and neither is the witness' sense of the time."
"OBJECTION!" Apollo countered. "Even so, it was impossible to leave without crossing paths with the victim, dead or alive! There's no way Mr. Hart could not have seen Mr. Boot!"
"H-Hey, uh, I just, uh, remembered somethin'!" Brogan squeaked. "I think I did see him! Yeah, for sure! I was just real tired when I left last night, so my memory's a little fuzzy!"
Franziska's eyes narrowed. "The witness will revise his testimony, then."
(Damn it, he's been given a chance to fix his slip-up... but a new testimony means new holes to find.)
"Honestly, Wright," Edgeworth muttered to him, "you need to wipe that look off my face before people get suspicious."
"Hey, I didn't see you trying too hard earlier, either," he shot back, keeping his voice low.
"I wasn't looking thrilled at the work of the opposing counsel."
"What, I don't make you happy, Edgeworth? I thought I was your best friend!"
To his surprise, Edgeworth's face colored, and he turned away. "Shut up and focus, Wright."
"I only just remembered, I did see Chukka!
"Yeah, he was out in the shop, and I passed by him and told him goodnight.
"He was rearranging the shelves, puttin' up a nice new pair of boots."
(Huh... I wonder...)
"I don't see any issues with the witness's testimony," the judge mused. "Defense, would you like to perform the cross-examination?"
"Yes, Your Honor!"
Phoenix turned the testimony over in his head. What could be flawed here? Maybe...?
"TAKE THAT! Mr. Hart, was this the pair of boots you saw?" Apollo brought out the shoebox with the worn pair of boots that he and Athena had found earlier.
"Ah, yep, the very same!" Brogan nodded quickly. "Those are the ones!"
"Interesting that you'd call them brand-new, then. These are pretty well-worn, wouldn't you say?"
(Nice going, Apollo!)
"Gah--" Brogan flinched back. "They were new! I-I swear!"
"Hey, Edgeworth," Phoenix whispered. "I can think of a reason why he might be telling the truth here, actually, but I don't know if you're gonna like it."
Edgeworth sighed. "Just tell me."
"The murder weapon was one of Chelsea's boots, found in her room, right? But those boots seemed awfully new, don't you think?"
Edgeworth's eyes widened. "You think he used the fresh pair, and swapped it with Ms. Boot's old pair to frame her?"
"You really need to stop solving these cases from places you're not supposed to."
"From what I hear, I'm not the only one guilty of sticking my nose where it doesn't belong for the sake of the truth."
"That's entirely irrelevant."
Franziska was doing a good job of pretending she didn't hear either of them. "OBJECTION! Does it really matter if the pair of boots he saw was fresh or old?"
"He made a point of it in his testimony!"
"There are several identical pairs of boots in a shoe shop, I would think! How do you know for certain you have the exact ones he saw?"
"He just said these were the ones he saw! And isn't it weird that he'd keep a single old pair of shoes in a shop full of unworn ones?"
"Wait," Phoenix groaned, "those aren't the only old pair. Damn it."
"Ah, yes," Edgeworth concurred, pulling a worn red loafer from his pocket. "These were in the office..."
Phoenix retrieved the blue one he'd snatched from the dresser that morning. "Franziska..."
She smirked, and promptly brought the mismatched pair of shoes to the court's attention. "There are multiple hand-me-down pairs of shoes present in the shop. Thus, the evidence the defense has presented is entirely irrelevant."
Apollo groaned, and Athena wilted beside him. Phoenix sympathized. (I kinda feel like putting my head down myself...)
After a moment, however, Athena perked up. "HOLD IT! That pair was found in the office, not in the store proper! We don't know if they were for sale!"
"Y-Yeah!" Apollo quickly added, grabbing onto the thread. "They might have belonged to the victim or something! They were in a box on his desk!"
"And how do you plan to prove that? Search for a name tag of some kind?"
Phoenix gave his subordinates a grin. Apollo sighed deeply. "In fact, we just might."
Edgeworth put his head in his hands. "I'm suddenly reminded of my first defeat at your hands."
"Yeah, can you believe I had to be told by a dead woman to turn over a receipt?"
"Your idiocy astounds me, Wright."
"You didn't think to check either!"
Examination of the mismatched pair of shoes apparently didn't turn up anything, but Apollo insisted they be allowed to check the pair of boots as well. A thorough search turned up a name written on the inside of each shoe - Chelsea, lengthwise across both soles.
"These boots belonged to the defendant!" Apollo asserted. "They were placed there, intentionally hidden by the true murderer after they used the fresh boots to attack Mr. Boot!"
"And why would they do that instead of disposing of the evidence?" Franziska demanded. She was seething now.
"Because," Athena said, jumping in after Apollo, "our culprit needed someone to take the fall, and the boots just so happened to match a pair they'd seen before!"
Both of them pointed in tandem. "The defense moves to accuse Brogan Hart of the murder of Chukka Boot!"
Brogan squawked in horror, recoiling. "W-Wait-- I--!"
"You went back into the apartment after murdering Mr. Boot," Apollo cried, "and swapped the murder weapon with the sleeping Ms. Boot's shoes, then hid them in plain sight in the shop!"
"No," Brogan gasped.
"Even if she'd woken up," Athena resumed, "she wouldn't have questioned your presence in her room, as you'd been there when she'd fallen asleep!"
"No! Shut up! I didn't kill nobody! And you ain't got any proof it was me! Why the heck would I kill my girlfriend's own father and frame her for the dirty deed?! It wasn't a robbery, was it?! Nothin' went missing!"
Well, that was the million dollar question, wasn't it? Phoenix shut his eyes, trying to think.
(What could Brogan possibly have to gain by attacking Chukka?)
He reviewed the facts of the case in his head, and thought back to his conversations with Chelsea the day before.
"Honestly, he's too gullible for his own good."
"Always chattering on about protecting his shoes and how special their soles were."
"He thought this pair was, like, special or something."
"EUREKA!" Phoenix shouted.
Edgeworth gave him an incredulous look. "What now?!"
He pointed at Brogan, ignoring indignant demands from Franziska to shut his mouth or so help her. "Mr. Hart was after treasure! Repeated claims of a special pair of shoes on the part of Mr. Boot spurred him to attack the victim and steal them for himself!"
"I-I didn't take nothin'!" Brogan screeched. He was sweating now. "I didn't find-- no, didn't steal-- I didn't do it!"
"You did find what he claimed to be the treasure," Phoenix declared, "but you dismissed them as a simple old pair of shoes!" He presented the mismatched pair he and Edgeworth had individually discovered.
Apollo quickly caught on and continued the thought. "You discarded them and hid the murder weapon, hoping Ms. Boot's dislike for her father would be enough to supply a motive."
Brogan blanched. "That... those... stupid, worthless SHOES..."
And there it was. He slammed his fists into the witness stand with a howl of rage.
"HE TRICKED ME! I SHOULDA GOTTEN RICH OFF THOSE DARN THINGS! YOU KNOW HOW MUCH DRIVIN' AROUND AND DROPPIN' OFF FOOD PAYS?! PEOPLE AIN'T GRATEFUL FOR IT! I BUST MY BEHIND AN' PUT ALL MY FUNDS INTO KEEPIN' MY CAR GASSED AN' THEY BARELY EVER TIP!"
He was still ranting and raving as the bailiff escorted him from the courtroom.
"Well," the judge said, blinking a few times in astonishment, "I suppose this is only a formality at this point, but in light of that confession, the court declares the defendant, Chelsea Boot, not guilty."
Cheers rose up from the gallery as court was adjourned, and confetti rained down from the ceiling. Phoenix looked over to Franziska and Edgeworth, beaming. Franziska yanked her whip taut between her hands, muttering darkly to herself, but Edgeworth just sighed and reached over to pick some confetti out of Phoenix's hair.
"I suppose a leopard can't change its spots, can it," he sighed.
"But you can teach an old dog new tricks, y'know." Phoenix grinned. "It was that logic ability you like so much that got me to piece it together in the end."
Edgeworth blinked. "M-Mine?" he stammered, surprised.
"Yeah... it comes naturally as long as you actually clear your head and think about it."
"I didn't think you were capable of anything of the sort."
"Hey," Phoenix complained good-naturedly.
"I'm only joking, Wright. You're actually much cleverer than I often give you credit for."
Well, that certainly made him blush. He averted his gaze. "Geez, Edgeworth, if I didn't know any better, I'd..."
(...hold on a minute.)
"Either act on these feelings or dismiss them, but do not let them distract you from your work!"
"Wright, what makes you think you aren't important to me?"
"You know he only wants to help you because he cares about you, right?"
"Edgeworth," he blurted, "do you like me?!"
Edgeworth flinched away. "Ngh-- what? I-- I consider you a close colleague, so I would hope that includes liking you--"
"No! Like, more than that!" He grabbed Edgeworth's hands in his, and watched his face flush in a brand new light. "You-- You've got a crush on me, don't you?! And don't bother lying, I'll dig my magatama out of your pockets right now and press you on it--"
"Can this conversation wait until we're back in our own bodies, Wright?!"
"Oh. Right. Yeah. Sure." He let go. "No problem."
Edgeworth pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "The case is over, and we still have no idea what happened to us..."
Phoenix brought a hand to his chin. "Actually... there was something Chelsea said about those shoes that's been nagging at me."
"Yeah. What was it her dad always said?" The defense attorney wracked his brain again. "If the road you walk with a friend starts to cause you pain, exchanging soles does wonders. I think it might be some kind of riddle--"
"What?!" Edgeworth practically spat, cutting him off. His eyes were as wide as dinner plates. "Soles?!"
"Yeah, like shoes or something--"
"No, Wright, not soles, SOULS! Those shoes are what caused this! We both fell asleep next to one of them, and awoke in each other's bodies! We exchanged souls, Wright!"
(Oh. Huh. That... does make a lot more sense, actually.)
Phoenix pulled out the offending shoes and stared at them. "You really think...?"
"They swapped us, they can swap us back." Edgeworth seemed certain.
"Well, how do we do it? Do we each fall asleep next to one again?"
"I'm not waiting that long, Wright," Edgeworth snapped, grabbing the blue one from him. "There has to be a way to speed up the process."
Phoenix turned the red one in his hands, squinting. "Uh... there's no place like home?" he tried, and tapped the heel against that of the one Edgeworth held.
And he was immediately hit with a wave of nausea that brought him to his knees.
There was a shout he barely registered as Apollo's, and he managed to stay half-upright long enough to see Edgeworth slump to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut.
(Guess I... figured out... the shortcut.)
Then he pitched forward, but he never felt the floor meet him.
"I CANT BELIEVE THAT WORKED" - one of my discord friends
Also, headcanon that Lotta Hart has a huge family with all the names you can think of for puns that would involve "[blank] heart".
Edgeworth confronts his feelings and has no regrets.
The end, or as I like to call it, mlm rights
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
For the second time that day, Edgeworth woke up in excruciating pain.
"Ngoooooh," he groaned out. Everything stung and ached.
"He's waking up!"
"Boss? Or is it Mr. Edgeworth?"
"Fool, you will answer us at once!"
"It's Edgeworth," he wheezed.
Then it occurred to him his voice sounded normal. A hand shakily came up to his face, immediately knocking his smudged glasses askew. (Of course Wright smudged them.)
He was back. It had actually worked.
He looked up at the small crowd that had formed around him. Franziska, Mr. Justice, and Miss Cykes were all standing over him as he sat up on the bench in the lobby he'd been laid down upon. He looked aside as someone else grunted in pain, and saw a groggy Wright trying to handle Trucy hugging him tightly.
"Not so hard, Truce," he grunted out, and Trucy let go.
"What happened to the shoes?" Edgeworth inquired, combing his fingers through his hair. One lock in front simply refused to lie flat. (What in the world did Wright do to it?)
"Oh, Ms. Boot came by to thank us, and we gave them back to her," Miss Cykes explained. "We kinda pieced together it was all related after you two passed out after knocking them together like that."
"She seemed pretty surprised," Mr. Justice added. "I don't think she ever thought her dad was actually telling the truth about them having some sort of value."
"Have you learned your lesson," Franziska asked coldly, "about stealing things from crime scenes, Miles Edgeworth?"
"Indeed, Franziska," he muttered, avoiding eye contact. (How was I meant to know it was an object with supernatural power?)
"Geez, you guys," Wright complained from his bench, "no checking up on your boss?"
"Your body wasn't the one whipped like ten thousand times over," Miss Cykes pointed out.
"YIKES," another voice helpfully added. Miss Cykes covered her necklace with a sheepish smile.
"Yeah, uh, sorry about that," Wright said, getting to his feet and coming over. "Are you okay?"
The worry in his eyes sparked recollection in Edgeworth. (That conversation we just had... he's going to bring it up again sooner or later. And I'm at a severe disadvantage. I don't know if he reciprocates my feelings.)
I care about you. And... besides, you've saved me too. More times than I can count.
"Wright," he said quickly, "I need to speak with you. Alone."
"Huh?" He blinked owlishly, then his face flushed. "Oh. Yeah."
Trucy had a knowing look, and Miss Cykes broke into a surprised smile, clutching that necklace tighter. Franziska scoffed and muttered something Edgeworth didn't quite catch. Mr. Justice still looked lost. He ignored all of them as he got to his feet and pulled Wright away from prying eyes and ears.
"Um, okay, Edgeworth, I know what I said back there was a little impulsive," Wright babbled, "please don't hate me, I was just poking fun, I didn't actually think--"
"Wright," he said, and he shut up.
He paused to take a deep breath. "How do you feel about me? Please be honest."
"I... oh. Um." Wright cleared his throat. "Well... you're... a good person, and I really value our friendship, and I'm happy when you're happy, you know? I'd do... just about anything for you."
"Even try and fail to pretend to be me for a day?"
"I never said I'd be good at doing just about anything," he said with a little chuckle. "I... you're just... really important to me."
Edgeworth swallowed. "I... feel similarly," he managed to say. "You are an inspiration and a force I admire. I truly cherish our relationship."
Wright was really smiling now. "Y'know, if I'm being perfectly honest, I missed being able to look at you."
He looked so earnest like that, beaming enough to squint, cheeks colored with emotion. Edgeworth couldn't stand it.
"If I'm being perfectly honest, I'd very much like to kiss you right now, Wright."
He flushed further, but his smile grew impossibly wider. "If I'm being perfectly honest, I'd like that a whole lot."
So Edgeworth grabbed his lapels and pulled him in, and their lips met for about a second before Wright started laughing.
"What's so funny?" he demanded, breaking away.
"It's just," Wright wheezed, trembling as he tried to restrain them, "I... I walked a few Miles in your shoes today, huh?"
Then he snorted.
Then the both of them burst into raucous laughter, practically falling over one another in an attempt to stay upright, as the sheer absurdity of everything that had just happened struck them all at once.
The noise apparently caught the attention of the small group they'd left behind. "What did he do to Mr. Edgeworth?" he could hear Mr. Justice ask in horror.
"You'll understand when you're older," Trucy answered sagely.
"I'm seven years older than you!"
It all just made Edgeworth laugh harder. After getting a glimpse into Wright's life firsthand, he'd decided it was something he was willing to place himself into of his own volition, and Wright had decided the same.
(Then again, we've been part of each others' lives for so long. This just... makes it more official.)
He gasped for air, wiping his eyes, smiling so hard his cheeks hurt. Wright was looking at him again, and started to snicker once more.
"Oh, what is it now," he huffed, but there was no bite in it.
"We match now, Edgeworth," he chuckled, gesturing to his own stubborn flick of hair. "Hah... I wonder if I kept anything from you somehow?"
"This had better not be permanent, Wright. I have an image to maintain."
"I think it looks good on you. Makes you more approachable."
Edgeworth elbowed him in the chest.
They both stiffened.
Wright clapped his hands over his mouth, face suddenly ashen. "Did," he squeaked, voice small, "did I just...?"
Then he started laughing all over again.
Thank you all for reading! It means a lot that you all enjoyed this AU so much! You can see me ramble more about it at my art blog and even request some doodles for it!