“A flying wedding chapel…that’s a rather romantic venue, isn’t it?”
“‘Romantic’? I never thought I’d hear THAT word come out of your mouth. Are you feeling okay there?”
“What? Am I not allowed to think such a thing?”
“W-wait. You’re not finally thinking about settling down and getting married, are you?”
“Why do you always have to jump to such extreme conclusions? For your information, I have no intention of doing such a thing. …What about you, Wright?”
“No plans here for now, even if I wanted to…” (Well, at least I found out how Edgeworth feels about marriage. Not that it has anything to do with the case.)
Phoenix Wright had been turning that conversation over in his head ever since it happened. It wasn’t even important, he continually reminded himself, yet the incessant loop did not stop no matter his efforts to dismiss the conversation as locker room banter. The truth was, it stung. It shouldn’t have, he reasoned, but it did. He didn’t need a magatama to see what he was hiding- he had known how he felt about Edgeworth for a long time now. But at first he thought it was just a crush, and then Edgeworth left that note and disappeared, and then Phoenix was disbarred, and finally he thought he might be at a point where he could do something about his feelings when this happened. But Phoenix Wright had never in twenty-six years given up on Edgeworth and he was not going to now. So now, sitting in Edgeworth’s office, he had to find a way to bring up their previous conversation, to pry more deeply into what Edgeworth meant so he could gauge exactly how to deal with the unforthcoming man.
“Wright, don’t fiddle with that.”
“Sorry.” Phoenix straightened up the pieces on the chessboard that he had been fidgeting with. After he let his hands drop back to his sides Edgeworth shot him a glare and rearranged the pieces to their original positions- which to Phoenix looked identical to his positioning but were apparently different enough to matter.
Phoenix opened his mouth to start that conversation and then closed it. Nope, not the right time.
“Why don’t you go back to sitting on the couch where you can’t reach anything? Or must you entertain yourself wandering around my office touching things?”
“You could try a little harder to entertain me yourself. Do you know how hard it is to converse with someone who only responds in one word answers?”
“I’m busy, Wright.”
There was a pause. This would be the perfect time to bring that up. Yes, yes it would… He said nothing.
“Wright, don’t you have things to be doing-”
“What would you say if I told you Athena and Apollo were getting married?”
Edgeworth spit tea (rather inelegantly) a full foot forward. “WHAT!?”
“You got tea on your desk.” Edgeworth pulled a roll of paper towels from his desk drawer and began wiping at the drops of tea.
“You keep paper towels in your desk?”
“After you’ve come over enough times one learns to be prepared. Now what’s this about…Miss Cykes and Mr. Justice…getting married?”
Phoenix scratched the back of his head sheepishly. “They’re not actually getting married. I just wanted to know what you’d say if they were.”
Edgeworth frowned. “I’d say congratulations, naturally.”
This is not going the way I wanted it to. “Well yeah, but, would that be weird for you? I mean aren’t you kind of against marriage?”
“I am not against marriage. I’ve told you that. Although a marriage between your colleagues would be unsettling, it would be for entirely different reasons.”
Of course I know that! Hit ‘em with false charges and the truth will always come out!
It took about three seconds for the ensuing silence to become awkward.
This isn’t working.
“Well if you’re not against marriage, how come you never want to get married?”
“Being fundamentally opposed to something it and not wanting it for yourself are too completely different things. I appreciate marriage as a legal union between two people who love each other. It’s just not what I want.”
“Yeah, but what if you just think you don’t want to be married? I bet you’re probably yearning deep down for companionship and just never acknowledged it.”
“You’re absolutely right-”
“Of course I’m Wright.”
“Wipe that silly grin off your face. You’re absolutely right, I am so deeply lonely that I actively choose to distance myself from those around me to focus on my work.”
“Was that sarcasm? Because it kind of sounded like sarcasm but it’s true-”
“Of course it was sarcasm. As usual, Wright, you have looked at the facts and jumped to completely the wrong conclusion.”
“That may be true, but I always come to the truth at the end.” Phoenix grinned, hands on his hips triumphantly.
Edgeworth crossed his arms. “The only truth is that I am not in need of companionship.”
“Oh, come on. Even Manfred von Iceberg needed companionship.”
“Franziska had a mom, right? I’m assuming she wasn’t dropped out of the sky by God himself? And she has an older sister, so Mrs. von Karma and Manfred must’ve even slept together at least twice-”
“Get out of my office.”
“Sorry, sorry! I’m just pointing out that fact.”
“A fact that I would rather not have been pointed out.”
“Okay, but anyway, what if the right person- or should I say the “Wright” person -comes along and you change your mind?”
“Are you still on about the topic of marriage? Why the sudden interest?”
Phoenix bit his lip. “Just curious. A little curiosity is good for the mind.”
“Curiosity killed the cat, if not what little ‘mind’ you yet possess.”
“Rude. But you didn’t answer my question.”
“But what’s so bad about marriage?”
Edgeworth sighed. “Nothing is wrong with marriage, Wright. I just don’t feel the need to tie myself to someone legally, financially, or emotionally. I’ve never felt the need for romantic interaction. I am happy exactly the way I am. Do I make myself clear? Or at least clear enough to change the topic of conversation?”
Phoenix swallowed. “Right. Got it. I should probably get back to the office. It doesn’t matter anyway.” Edgeworth grabbed Phoenix’s jacket from where he had left it and was just about to hand it to him when he froze. A single, solitary psycho-lock had suddenly appeared directly over Phoenix’s chest. Edgeworth’s mind had to reach far back into the past, to a snowy temple on a mountain, to remember what it was for.
Phoenix froze too. And swallowed, his throat suddenly dry. Apologizing for he wasn’t even sure what, he carefully took his jacket and left the room, feeling as if in a daze. The door closed behind him.
For a moment Edgeworth just stood there, and then he immediately sat back down at his desk and called Maya. She listened with barely repressed squeals until he finished explaining.
“Oh. My God. Edgeworth. Genius who started prosecuting at the age of 20. Went to the top law school in the western hemisphere. Studied under a man who went undefeated in court for forty years.”
“Your point?” Edgeworth huffed.
“Can’t figure out something as simple as 2+2! I can’t believe you honestly have no idea what’s going on!”
“Right, well, any time you could stop making fun of me and explain this apparently obvious situation?” He quipped, sounding a bit miffed.
“Right, right, of course. Edgeworth, ever since you guys were nine, Nick has basically dedicated his life to you. He chose to study law just so he could meet you. He made a pink scrapbook filled with everything he could find about you even while you refused to speak to him. And then he found you, and you were so much more hurt than he remembered, so he did everything he could to figure out why, and he solved DL-6, and then you left that note and disappeared and he was so depressed he couldn’t even bear to hear someone say your name. And then you reappeared, and you helped him get his badge back, which is basically his entire life. And after all that, you go and say something like ‘there’s no need to tie yourself to someone emotionally’.”
Edgeworth stayed quiet, unsure what this all meant. These emotions were too complicated to understand.
“Don’t you see? Nick has been emotionally tied to you so strongly for the past, what, 26 years? And you just go and say there’s no need for that. He’s hurt. You don’t even know how much he loves you, Edgeworth.”
Time stopped. The room was spinning and Edgeworth could hardly breathe. He felt far too much like he had inside of that elevator all those years ago; panicked, cornered. But there was something there that wasn’t there before: a strange warmth that felt like it was coming right from inside his stomach and spreading outward. It was so shocking, so unfamiliar.
Edgeworth was normally very good at controlling his thoughts, his emotions, organizing them and creating order so he could address each clearly. But now they were scattered everywhere, running at a million miles per hour, and he could only grab onto a single one. Love. She said love. ‘You don’t even know how much he loves you’. Love. He loves me.
After a moment, Maya spoke again. “And now you’re sitting at your desk having a heart attack from all the emotions, unsure of what this all means and unable to cope with it. Calm, Edgeworth. Did you watch the episode of the Steel Samurai that the re-ran last night? The twist ending is so good, I’m surprised every time!”
In, out. In out. “Personally I find the ending of that episode a bit contrived. The first time it aired I saw it coming from a mile away.”
“Good. Do you remember how to breathe again?”
“I don’t need to be reminded how to breathe.”
Edgeworth tried to play back everything Maya had mentioned in a reasonably organized fashion, the past 26 years of his and Wright’s lives together. He had never thought of the events from Wright’s perspective before, so to hear Maya describe them cast a totally new light on them. When he had been studying under von Karma, starting his career as a prosecutor, all Wright was was a painful reminder of his past that he tried desperately to block out. Wright kept reaching out to him and he never understood why. And after that Wright insisted on getting involved in Edgeworth’s trial and DL-6 and Edgeworth never understood why. And when he came back after running away Phoenix forgave him, and he never understood why. And then Wright was disbarred and he never reached out to Edgeworth, and Edgeworth never understood why. In 26 years he never once asked why.
He still didn’t quite understand, but with Maya’s narrative it was becoming easier to see things Wright’s way. Wright was dedicated to him. He was important to Wright. Wright wanted so much to help Edgeworth when he needed it and wanted so much not to let Edgeworth see when Wright himself needed help. And slowly, Edgeworth came to understand that Maya was right. He wasn’t sure if love was the right word, but he recognized, just a little bit, what Wright had done for him all those years. Reaching even farther back in his memory, he recalled the way his father made him feel when he was a child. Safe, secure, comfortable, confident, loved. And he finally realized that Wright made him feel the same way. Wright loved him.
Eventually he remembered he was still on the phone with Maya. He spoke slowly, choosing his words with care. “But what…what does my friendship with Wright have to do with my views on marriage? Why would my lack of desire to get married show that he has something to hide?”
He could practically see Maya’s blank stare on the other end. “And here I thought we were making progress,” she said drily.
“After saying it out loud I’m beginning to see the connection. Are you saying that…Wright…loves me? On another level than platonically? That he wants to…marry me?”
“That sounds like a conversation that should not involve me. I mean, it should, because I’m gonna be the maid of honor, but I also feel like Nick should-”
“This is the first I’m hearing about Wright’s possibly non-platonic feelings and you think it’s an appropriate time to plan our wedding?!”
“Well, ok, I can see why you’d need some time to plan, but I’m totally going to be the maid of honor-”
“Ok, sorry. Back on topic. I’m not saying you gotta go marry the guy right now, but think about how you’re feeling. Because I think that even though you say you have no need for emotional bonds you’ve never even realized what a strong one you have with Nick, and how much it means to you.”
As much as Edgeworth wanted to deny it, the moment she said it everything fell into place and he knew she was incontrovertibly right. To put it plainly, if anything could be plain in this mess, he didn’t know what his life would be without Wright, and he didn’t want to know.
“I suppose I should go talk to him.”
“Uh, yeah, dummy.”
Just as Maya was about to hang up Edgeworth spoke.
“Miss Fey, there’s one more thing that’s been bothering me. …Why was there only one psycho-lock? This seems to be a fairly big thing to be hiding.”
“Pysche-locks don’t necessarily show the size of the secret, remember? They show how deeply buried it is. And, well, Nick’s always kept his emotions really close to the surface. He wears his heart on his sleeve, which is why it’s so incredible that you actually had no idea this whole time. Anyway, sounds to me like…Nick’s been wanting you to notice for a long time.”
Edgeworth knocked on the door of the Wright Anything Agency, where Athena answered the door. Signs of worry creased both her and Widget’s features.
“Are you here to see Mr. Wright? He’s in his office.” She stepped aside to let Edgeworth inside. He approached the door to Wright’s office and, knocking softly first, opened the door and entered.
Phoenix was stretched out along the couch, jacket and magatama strewn carelessly across the floor. Edgeworth was painfully reminded of how Wright looked when he was disbarred.
Phoenix sat up abruptly when he heard the door open. “Edgeworth!”
Edgeworth swallowed. “Wright.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to apologize for earlier. I see what I said may have upset you-”
“You sound like a customer service call. Why did you actually come here?”
Carefully, Edgeworth took a seat on the opposite edge of the couch.
“I came here to say…I appreciate everything you’ve done for me over the course of our friendship. Your friendship is very important to me.” Somehow, he couldn’t make himself say what he knew Phoenix wanted to hear, but to see the look that emerged on Phoenix’s face was like seeing the sun shine for the first time.
“Thanks, Edgeworth. That really means a lot to me.”
They were silent for a moment.
“Maya said you loved me.”
Edgeworth froze, unable to believe that the first time he had ever said anything without thinking was for this. He tried to keep his voice steady.
“I- I called her. She said that you loved me.”
“Nothing. Is this a dream? Pinch me.”
“I am not going to pinch you. …But I am going to break your psycho-lock.” He grabbed the magatama off the floor before Phoenix could react and held it before him, watching as the psyche-lock appeared. Phoenix’s eyes widened in shock at the sudden move.
“What are you doing?!”
“Why did you just say ‘love’?”
“It was just a slip of the tongue.”
“Usually slips of the tongue don’t involve entire words.”
“Fine. I was correcting you. You said ‘loved’. You meant ‘love’ as in present tense.”
Edgeworth hesitated. The psyche-lock didn’t budge.
Phoenix met Edgeworth’s eyes. “You’re a very important friend to me, you know that? Maya’s right. I love you. Now put that down.”
Edgeworth smirked. “Finally getting a taste of your own medicine.”
Phoenix sighed. “Come on. If you want to know how I really feel, I’ll just tell you. You don’t need to pry it out of me. I’m not you, you know.”
Edgeworth shot Phoenix a look but set the magatama down nonetheless.
“To tell you the truth, Edgeworth, I was upset when you said you weren’t interested in emotional ties and romance and all that because…well, because I always valued how close our friendship is. And I…I wanted to be closer. I’ve never had this kind of relationship with anyone before. I feel like you know me better than I know myself sometimes, and I know it’s true the other way around. I don’t want this with anyone else. So yes, I love you, but not in the same way that I love Trucy, or Maya, or Apollo and Athena. I mean, I love you in those ways too, in that you’re a good friend and you feel like family, but also…the other way. I guess it doesn’t really matter though, because you don’t want the same thing.” His gaze had fallen to the carpet, and he didn’t look up.
“Of course it matters, Wright. Your feelings are never invalid. And it’s true that I’m not ready to think about such things as marriage, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want the same things.” Phoenix looked up sharply to meet his gaze, and Edgeworth could feel himself blushing.
“…What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I’m just realizing now that for a long time I’ve felt the same. I just never knew what it was. Phoenix Wright, I do not understand love. I don’t know what it is or how to define it. But if it’s what I think it is I am sure I feel it for you.”
Phoenix placed his hand on Edgeworth’s shoulder, laughing. “That was the most roundabout confession I’ve ever heard.” Edgeworth felt like laughing too, although he had no idea why.
Just then a knock sounded at the door and Athena, led by Trucy, shyly looked in. Widget was glowing the brightest green either of them had ever seen.
“What’s going on in here? It feels like the room is about to explode from all the good feelings in here!”
Edgeworth smiled. “Miss Cykes, I have just remembered what happiness is.”
“I told you he was proposing to Daddy!” Trucy squealed with delight and Edgeworth and Phoenix both gasped.
Apollo, who had appeared behind the two girls, yanked the door shut in front of all of them. “Leave them alone, you guys! That is definitely not what’s happening here!”
As the sound of the squabbling children faded, the office became quiet.
“So, uh, there’s something else I’ve been wanting to do for a while now,” Phoenix started.
Edgeworth looked at him. “What would that be?”
Slowly, Phoenix leaned forward and planted a soft, gentle kiss on Edgeworth’s lips. After a moment of uncertainty, Edgeworth kissed back. Whatever this was, it was right.