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Where Are You, Christmas?

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Objectively, Miles Edgeworth thinks Christmas is the worst holiday.

(He’s aware that it’s subjective, not objective, but he feels so strongly that it might as well be objective. Or perhaps he just doesn’t care about the difference.)

It’s not as if he were some sort of Scrooge, or the Grinch terrorizing Whoville. Edgeworth hardly spent his days cursing the coming winter aloud to anyone who would listen - not since he was younger, and angrier, at any rate, though hearing “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” on the car radio one too many times could bring him awfully close to the brink.

So if you didn’t know him well, you would simply notice that his was one of a small handful of offices in the prosecutor’s building that remained undecorated, with no lights in the windows and no wreaths or bows on the door. You might assume he was Jewish, or Muslim, or atheist, or something else entirely - or just that he was too busy to concern himself with adding a touch of the holly and the jolly.

But if you were a friend of his, or a coworker, you would see that every December, he’d double the cases he took, cloistering himself within his office like a nun, and spending most of the time he wasn’t working possessed by a quiet, creeping dread.

The dread that came with sleep.

The young prosecutor’s hands were particularly full this year: not only was he juggling his usual obscenely large number of murder cases, but there was the matter of the disbarment of Phoenix Wright. It gnawed at his gut and the back of his mind, an ugly miasma of frustration and despair that at every turn, it seemed he could do nothing to help the man he knew was honest and just.

Thus, Edgeworth was testy, even by his usual yuletide standards, and countless nights spent digging through case files and sipping black tea in a weary attempt to fight old demons wasn’t helping his mood.

It also wasn’t helping his eyesight, which is why he was convinced he imagined it when he saw the ceramic reindeer sitting on his desk.

He blinked.

No, it was still there.

It was bright red (an impossible color for a reindeer), with a little green scarf tied around its neck (which Edgeworth found terribly unrealistic, given the clumsy and non-opposable nature of hooves), and he hadn’t the faintest idea of how it had gotten there.

He picked it up, turning it over in his hands as he squinted at it disapprovingly, reading the little plaque it sat on that read, “Hope you’re hooving a happy holiday season!”

I most certainly am not.

Because reindeer, like many things, brought back unpleasant memories.

~~~

It was December of 2004, in the living room of the von Karma estate, and Miles Edgeworth’s greatest desire was a lunchbox.

This was perhaps a misnomer. It wasn’t really his greatest desire.

But when a much-missed father, a world without nightmares, and a family without fear were intangible and unachievable, a lunchbox at least appeared possible.

Maybe.

Today was the day Miles was going to ask for one.

Manfred von Karma - who was never Father, never Herr von Karma, only “sir” - was sitting in his chair in front of the lit fireplace, reading the newspaper, as he always did at precisely nine o’clock; and Miles Edgeworth was a short nervous twelve-year-old with his gaze fixed on the floor and a torn fragment of an advertisement in his hand.

He’d been standing here for several minutes, about a yard away from his mentor’s chair, but hadn’t managed to work up the courage to move any closer. If von Karma knew he was there, he didn’t acknowledge it.

Stop being such a coward, Miles! How are you supposed to get ahead in the world if you can’t even ask about something this trivial?

He took a deep breath, stood up as straight as he could, and walked up to von Karma’s right side.

“Excuse me, sir…”

Von Karma looked up from his paper and raised an eyebrow, but otherwise said nothing.

“Can I ask you something…?”

Manfred frowned at him. “Get to the point.”

“Sir, I… I saw that there was a mail-order catalog sitting out on the table this morning…”

“One of the servants must have left it there.” Manfred sighed through his teeth. “Imbeciles, all of them…”

“...and on the page they left out, there was a lunchbox.”

He received a blank look at this.

“A, um… a limited-edition Shotgun Shogun collectible lunchbox…”

Von Karma rubbed his temples with irritation. “And why, exactly, do you feel the need to tell me about this?”

“Well, um, sir…” Miles was starting to lose his nerve. “I-It’s just that… Christmas is coming up, and I understand that my home and my education is the most valuable thing I could ever ask to receive from you, but… well, it’s on clearance, and I - ”

“No.”

Miles felt something inside of him deflate.

“...I-Is it all right if I ask why...?”

His mentor scoffed. “It is not a child’s job to ask ‘why.’”

“S-Sorry, sir - ”

“But if you want to know ‘why,’ you shall hear it. I will not repeat myself.”

Manfred folded his paper and set it down on his lap, glaring daggers at him - daggers Miles tried to dodge by looking at his feet, only to jump at the loud snap of von Karma’s fingers.

“Are we going to be here all day, or are you going to look at me when I’m speaking to you?”

Having failed his attempts at evasion, Miles used all his willpower to force himself to look into his mentor’s eyes.

“I will not give it to you, because it is not necessary. Not only that, but it is foolish and frivolous.” Von Karma’s gaze was unwavering, gray steel. “Most of all, it is utterly childish. And children are neither needed nor wanted in a prosecutorial career.”

“B-But - ”

“Are you a child?”

Miles bowed his head. “...No, sir.”

“What, exactly, are you, then?”

“...A man, sir.”

“Then start acting like one.”

Manfred turned back to his paper, and sipped his tea, and said nothing more.

And Miles thinks he would have stood behind that chair forever, in silence, if he hadn’t felt a hand tug at the corner of his shirt.

“Little Brother!”

He turned his head to see his six-year-old “big sister” glaring up at him impatiently.

“...Franziska?”

“You will help me now!”

She put one hand on her hip with as much indignance as her tiny body could muster.

Miles sighed. “...What do you need, Franziska?”

She pointed at the second-highest branch of the Christmas tree in the living room corner (put up by the house servants a few days ago) and said with a bit of embarrassment, “It is too high! I cannot reach!”

Franziska tugged on his arm some more, and he followed her to the tree - it wasn’t as if he could reach the branch, either, but c’est la vie - where she plopped an ornament into his hands.

“Here. You help.”

It was a silver, glitter-coated reindeer.

~~~

Edgeworth looked at the reindeer in his hand - it had looked nothing like this one, why did he have to remember - , and with a note of exhaustion, set it down. He pulled a slip of paper off of his sticky notepad, and wrote the following:

To whomever is trying to decorate my office:

While I appreciate the effort, I would also appreciate it if you did not do so without my consent.

And to be clear, you do not have my consent.

 - Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth

With that, he picked up reindeer and note alike and walked briskly to the door, depositing them on the ground in front of it; and Edgeworth proceeded to lock every window and entrance and shut himself in for a long, busy night.

(A night made longer by the sounds of gunshots that echoed in his dreams.)

 


 

The next day, Edgeworth entered his office, hoping to find his office back to how it normally was.

It was not.

He first noted that the reindeer, despite its decisive eviction, had made its way back to his desk, and was perched there as if mocking him. But it wasn’t just the reindeer - there was even more.

There were bright white lights taped along the windowsill, blinking slowly, and tinsel was flung across the top of every single one of his bookshelves. A little choir of angels was seated around his stack of case files, as if giving his holiday workload a miniature concert, and hanging on the inside of his office door was quite possibly the largest wreath he’d ever seen.

Edgeworth was entirely at a loss. He’d taken the reindeer out by the door, he’d left the note and tried to be polite, he’d locked all the windows and doors…

...wait.

He’d locked all the windows and doors. He was absolutely, positively certain of it.

Meaning... he was now fairly sure of the identity of this unwanted guerilla decorator.

The prosecutor gave an exasperated sigh, and plucked another page off his notepad.

Kay, I know it’s you. No one else could break in without me noticing.

(Please do not take this as a badge of honor.)

I understand that you think you’re being kind, but it would be better if you ceased this nonsense immediately.

(To say nothing of your worrying skill at picking my locks.)

- Miles Edgeworth

And once again, he took down every decoration - quite irritated at how much this was cutting into his scheduled paperwork - put them in a bundle with the note, and set them at the foot of the door.

Yet, something at the top of the pile caught his eye. A small ornament shaped like Santa Claus, with a jolly, red-cheeked smile and a bottle of wine in the crook of his arm.

"The holidays are here, so no wining!" read the plaque.

These puns are enough to make me “wine” on their own…

Wine…

Hmm.

That, too, made him remember.

~~~

It was December of 2011, at the Weihnachtsmarkt in Frankfurt, and Miles Edgeworth was predictably disillusioned.

He was eighteen, now, supposedly a man, and after years of crafting himself in the family’s image, his posture was impeccable, and his aura was haughty, and threatening. When he walked down the streets of the market, people either looked his way - from his walk, the way he held his head, and his unusual (but highly chic) fashion sense - or quickly avoided his sharp, intimidating gaze.

Most days, he took pride in it. It was a sign of power, and strength - two traits paramount to prosecutorial perfection, and a sign that his future would someday be great.

But this evening, that someday felt far away, and Miles Edgeworth was instead very, very tired.

He wasn’t sure what had triggered it - adulthood, perhaps, which stirred up childhood memories of longing to be older - but the nightmares had been worse and worse this winter, jolting him awake at odd hours, leaving him clinging to his pillows and blankets and feeling increasingly certain that his power and his strength were the pitiful illusions of a little boy feigning maturity.

Edgeworth had overheard some of his fellow students speaking highly of the Glühwein here at this market, and decided this was the day he was going to try it.

(He pretended it was because of his interest in wine, but really, he hoped that alcohol, at least, would let him rest.

Let him forget.)

An old man gave him a steaming cupful, and warned, “Drink it slowly, you know! The heat makes it go to your head real quick!”

Edgeworth scoffed, and walked away, ignoring his advice. What does he know?

...And after he’d half-drained the cup, he began to realize it was a mistake.

He’d never actually been drunk before, only read about it, or seen it in movies, or remembered it from encounters with intoxicated students and streetgoers; but a part of him had thought it would be liberating - something to lift the weight that seemed to dig like nails into the skin of his shoulders.

Right now, the only thing Edgeworth felt liberated from was his ability to walk in a straight line.

He tripped, suddenly, over something he could hardly even see, and he knew people were looking at him for the wrong reasons, now, not because he was powerful or strong, and desperately reached out an arm to catch something before he fell - 

- and caught an elderly woman’s shoulder, who grabbed his arm and pulled him to steadiness.

“Are you quite all right, young man?”

Humiliated, he tried to shrug off her arm and walk away, but her grip was too strong.

“Oh, I don’t think so. It would be terrible of me to let you find your way home alone in such a state.”

Edgeworth wanted to protest, but the lights of the Weihnachtsmarkt were beginning to run together in a Christmas-colored smear, and he felt if he tried to take another unsupported step, he would lose both his balance and the contents of his stomach.

“...Fine.”

The woman asked him the way to his home - thankfully, the von Karma estate wasn’t far from the market - and led him down the sidewalk, pestering him with questions all the way. Edgeworth, somewhere between incomprehension and disinterest, was exceedingly terse, but she didn’t let up.

“Your accent… You’re American, aren’t you? Your German is excellent - 

“Not… anymore.”

She frowned. “...Well, yes, if you’re being literal, your German is a bit slurred right now, but I wasn’t going to point that out - ”

“Not American anymore.”

“Oh. Hm.”

The woman, looking somewhere between thoughtful and concerned, came to a stop - and only then did Edgeworth realize they’d reached his neighborhood’s outskirts. Then, with a sad sort of smile, she patted him on the shoulder, and he winced.

“Well, no matter how hard we try, we can never truly leave behind the place we were born, now can we?”

Edgeworth said nothing, because he didn’t want it to be true.

~~~

Wordlessly, he put down the ornament, and locked the door.

 


 

The next morning, Edgeworth entered his office to find it blissfully Christmas-free - yet there was a note sitting in the center of his desk.

Aw, don’t be such a humbug, Mr. Edgeworth! Everybody’s gotta have a little holiday cheer!

...This didn’t sound enough like a promise to stop decorating for the prosecutor’s liking.

So he decided to make sure of it himself. He would not leave this office for the entirety of the day and night.

It would kill two birds with one stone, really. If he pulled an all-nighter, he’d both be able to catch Kay in the act and tell her off properly, and be able to stave off the night terrors for at least one more day.

So he spent the day paging through books of precedent, poring over autopsy reports, making phone call after phone call to the precinct about fingerprints and ballistic markings and every little bit of this and that.

But eventually…

...at around four in the morning…

...he felt his eyelids sliding shut, and his grip around his pencil growing slack…

...but it wasn’t growing slack, was it?

He was holding that pistol so, so tightly in his hands.

His vision was spotty, and fading, and the bailiff - the bailiff who had been so nice to them before, had asked Miles what he’d thought of the trial - had mania in his eyes as his hands clutched his father’s neck, and Miles couldn’t think and could barely speak and wanted him to stop, stop, please stop - 

- and a hand was shaking his shoulder now, but he didn’t know whose, had the bailiff gotten him too, had von Karma grabbed onto him, had his father held onto his shoulder as he was - as he was - 

“Mr. Edgeworth!!

- and Edgeworth woke with a gasp to the sight of a certain Great Thief with a hand on his shoulder and worried eyes.

“Mr. Edgeworth, you were - you were having a nightmare, and I - ”

“...You’re in my office.”

Kay’s eyes glinted with a tiny bit of mischief. “Well, I was just minding my own business - ”

“Please go.”

The mischief was gone as soon as it came, replaced by that same worry. “But it looked like whatever you were dreaming about was pretty bad - ”

“Kay. I am asking you to go.”

“But - ”

“I have tried to be nice. I have left notes. I have taken down the ornaments and put them outside , when I could have thrown them away. And despite all this, you ignore all my warnings and requests, and break into my office in the middle of the night!”

Edgeworth felt his hand clenched in the fabric of his sleeve - an old habit he’d never quite been able to lose - and tried to breathe.

“The only thing I want for the holidays is to be left alone.”

The silence was deafening.

Then, a quiet voice said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Edgeworth… I just...”

And the girl who was normally so full of vim and vigor looked slowly down at her feet.

“I just didn’t want you to look so sad...”

There was more silence, for a long while, until it was broken by Edgeworth heaving a deep sigh.

“Kay, I…”

He struggled with how to finish the sentence, before settling at last on, “...I’m sorry.”

“N-No, really, I get it, I - ”

“No, it isn’t okay. I… really am sorry.” He gave a mirthless sort of smirk. “Communication is not exactly one of my strong suits.”

“Hehe, where’d you get that idea…?” Kay replied, a bit of a smile returning to her face, though the concern hadn’t left.

“I never told you why.”

She looked at him quizzically.

“Why I dislike the holidays.”

“No, I…” Kay sat down on the couch, not far from his desk. “I kinda already know some of it. It was pretty dumb to think I could fix it with some Christmas decorations, huh…”

Edgeworth said nothing, but heard a faint pat pat sound coming from her direction.

She was gesturing to the couch cushion next to her.

“...But if you wanna talk about it or anything, I’ll listen, okay?”

He wanted to say no. He wanted to just shrug this off, and go back to work.

But maybe what he wanted and what he needed weren’t the same things.

So Miles Edgeworth, much to his own surprise, found himself sitting beside Kay, and talking.

He talked about his childhood before the incident, and his childhood after; about the trial, and choosing death; about the dreams that should have died away after the closure of his father’s final case, but had only grown stronger instead. At every turn, he half-expected for Kay to jump in with a relevant story, or crack a joke - why shouldn’t she, this is ridiculous, isn’t it? - but she just waited, and listened, more patient than he’d ever seen her.

Eventually, he’d run out of things he could say, and trailed off into nothing, choosing instead to intently examine his hands. He couldn’t do this for very long, because mere moments after he’d finished, Kay Faraday tackled him in a hug.

“Wh - ?!”

She didn’t say anything, though. (Maybe anything she could have said would have sounded pretty empty.) She just... held him tight.

And somehow, he found himself hugging her back.

They stayed like that for quite a while - which was an eternity for the man who did not exactly live a hug-filled life - but it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. It was… actually rather comforting.

(A feeling the winter months didn’t often make him feel.)

Eventually, she pulled away with a smile and said, “Thanks, Mr. Edgeworth.”

“For what, exactly?”

“For telling the truth.” She grinned. “I didn’t even have to steal it this time!”

“...You did have to break into my office. I feel it’s on the same level.”

“Are you saying I did steal the truth?”

Kay looked extremely pleased with herself.

“I... wouldn’t put it that way, but…”

“Oh! I almost forgot!”

She suddenly reached into her bag, rummaging around in its unfathomable depths. “I guess I don’t know if you still want it, but… I got you a present.”

Finally, her hands found their target, and she pulled out something metallic and rectangular. “It’s not wrapped or anything, so… you could pretend it’s not a holiday gift if you wanted?”

Kay held out the object, and Edgeworth recognized it as - 

- a lunchbox.

Not of the Shotgun Shogun, of course, but of the Steel Samurai.

“Okay, so I know it’s probably weird to get an old guy like you a lunchbox, but my friend andwelcometothejam420 from Jammin’ Ninja Twitter got a Lootcrate with a bunch of tokusatsu stuff in it and she was auctioning off all the Steel Samurai stuff and apparently this is limited-edition?? And since you’re a big nerd I thought you might like it, but I can totally send it back if you want - ”

“Is this… really for me?”

His voice was so quiet he could scarcely hear himself, and Kay had to lean forward to catch his words. But she smiled, and said, “Yeah, duh, Mr. Edgeworth! We’re friends, right?”

“...Thank you.”

“Hehe. You’re welcome. Glad you like it!” With that, she zipped up her bag. “It was either this, or the Steel Samurai Nativity set.”

“...I-I’m sorry, the what?!”

“Oops! Guess it’s gonna be next year’s present!”

And Edgeworth was, as he had been when he entered his office the previous day, at a loss.

But…

As Kay tossed him jokes and the pair of them traded barbs, and she used her concerning climbing ability to take down some of the decorations she’d put up while he spotted for her in terror…

...this holiday evening, at the very least, didn’t feel quite so terrible.