Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney / Gyakuten Saiban, its characters and settings, are property of Capcom, and are being used here without permission.  This fic is rated NC-17 for adult male/male content and some violent material.  C&C welcome and appreciated.




One of Every Color

Chapter 16

Monday, September 23rd, 2019.  11:31 a.m.



"Mr. Wright!  Did you know about Miss Gander's confession ahead of time?"


"You can't be satisfied with this verdict, Mr. Wright.  Are you going to appeal again?"


"Do you think this evidence could have been forged?  The city has a reputation for it by now."


Phoenix's jaw worked, but he still couldn't bring himself to properly respond.  He was surrounded on all sides by unfamiliar faces, each spilling some question or accusation, but he could barely make them out.  The sensation of numbness hadn't left him yet; he was only vaguely aware of his hands pressed against his familiar desk, and the sweat trickling down his temple.  He just couldn't get the image of Chassie's unexpected confession out of his mind. 


She was guilty all along.  Urami lied to me from the beginning--she set that fire to cover up what Chassie had done.  Edgeworth was right.  Phoenix lifted his head, trying to peer through the crowd.  He warned me not to trust these people, but I…couldn't listen.  I did trust her. 


He couldn't see Miles through the bustle of anxious people--just more strangers, bleating like sheep with note pads as the court officials tried to herd them out.  How am I going to get out of here?  He wanted nothing more than to just be out of this room--the building, maybe even the city.


A small hand tugged his sleeve.  Phoenix jumped, and was shocked to see little Pearl Fey staring up at him with wide eyes.  "Pearl?"  He blinked stupidly.  "What are you doing here?"


"It is a rescue mission," she declared.


A rescue mission?  Phoenix glanced up, and thought he could see a pair of hands with thick bracelets waving frantically over the heads of the recently spilled gallery.  Maya?  Phoenix straightened, his chest unclenching in relief.  He almost laughed out loud.  If he ever needed a Fey rescue mission, it was now.


"Come on, Pearls."  Fueled by the sudden, desperate need to escape, Phoenix bent down and scooped Pearl up his arms.  She squeaked in surprise and wrapped her arms around his neck.  "Excuse me!" Phoenix called as he pushed through the waves of people, leaving his briefcase and its pointless evidence behind.  "Child coming through!"


Phoenix made it to the aisle where Maya was waiting for them.  Her bright grin managed to be uplifting and make him cringe at the same time.  She started to say something, but he had built up some momentum--he didn't stop as he took her hand tightly and continued toward the courtroom's exit.  It took a moment for her to regain her footing and keep up with him.  "Hey, Nick--"


"Let's just get out of here," Phoenix said quickly.  He was retreating, turning tail like a coward, but at the moment he didn't care.  All that mattered was getting out from under the press of so many eyes--especially if Miles was among them.


What can I possibly say to him now?  Phoenix bit the inside of his lip as they left the courtroom, out into the hall were there were less people.  I don't even know what to think.  He started toward the exit but then he remembered the reporters who were doubtlessly waiting for him outside.  Not that long ago I was out there, bragging about my innocent client.  What the hell am I supposed to tell them?


Phoenix turned instead to the Defense Lobby.  He had yet to let go of Maya's hand, and even when they reached the doors she stepped forward to open it for him.  The trio darted inside, and as the door closed behind them it finally sealed off the shouted questions. 


"Nick…?"  Maya gave her arm a shake.  "You're, uh, crushing my fingers."


Phoenix quickly let go, grimacing a little at his own clammy hands.  "Sorry."  He set Pearl down and tried to draw himself up.  "Maya, you…I told you to wait until after the case was over," he said.  At the moment, scolding her was a lot easier to focus on than the outcome of his trial.


"We couldn't just let you take on the mob by yourself," Maya replied emphatically, setting her hands on her hips.  "I tried to call you yesterday to let you know we were coming, but you didn't answer your phone."  She frowned at him.  "You said you wanted to do it yourself, so we sat up in the gallery."


"Oh…yeah."  Phoenix scratched the back of his neck sheepishly.  "My phone's, uh, broken."


"Never mind that now--we're here, so we're going to take you out to lunch."


"Oh, yes!" Pearl piped up.  "Can we, Mr. Nick?"


Phoenix glanced between their smiling, excited faces, and his shoulders sagged.  "You're just trying to cheer me up, aren't you."  I lost.  I was wrong about everything.


Pearl bit her thumb, and looked up at Maya, who had faltered in spirit a little.  "Well…you look like you could use it," Maya admitted sympathetically.  "I mean, I don't know the whole case, but it seemed pretty rough in there."  She hesitated over her next words.  "Did you…you really thought she didn't do it?"


"I…."  Phoenix lowered his eyes--he had a feeling a lot of people were going to be asking that from now on, making that same, vaguely pitying face Maya had now.  "I did," he admitted quietly.  "I really thought…I wanted…her to be innocent."


Maya shifted on her feet, unused to seeing him so despondent.  But Pearl stepped closer, her two small hands curling around one of Phoenix's.  "We are very sorry, Mr. Nick," she offered, with all the sincerity a nine year old could muster.


Phoenix smiled shakily, his fingers tightening carefully against hers.  Her large brown eyes, her childish uncertainty, somehow held at bay the conflict of emotions just beneath his surface.  "Thank you, Pearls."


Maya sent them both a look, and finally drew herself up.  She nudged Phoenix's shoulder.  "Let's get out of here," she said, her old energy back.  "You'll feel better once we get some food in you.  My treat, all right?"


"You?"  Phoenix chuckled.  "When have you ever treated for anything?"


"I'm allowed to treat a friend to lunch, aren't I?" Maya shot back.  "I'm a working spiritualist now, you know.  I can handle a couple of burgers."  She turned to lobby door, ready to march right out.  "We can go to that place by your--"


As Maya reached for the handle someone on the other side turned it, and she jumped back a little in surprise as the door was opened.  It was such a slow, deliberate move that Phoenix knew exactly who it was before he saw her.  Still holding onto Pearl he snagged Maya's elbow, tugging her back.  "Urami…"


She slipped into the room, dressed in black as always, her dark eyes dull and displeased.  "Mr. Wright…"




As soon as he'd managed to break away from the mess in the courtroom, Miles, too, retreated to the relative safety of the council lobby.  Several guards were positioned there already to keep back the slew of reporters and other gossipers.  He asked his visitors to wait for him in the hall for a moment as he saw to this bit of unfinished business.


Chassie Gander was sprawled across the short lobby sofa, half on her side with her face pressed into the cushions and her hands handcuffed behind her back.  With her body so oddly positioned and her long hair fanned out around her, she looked like a broken doll that had been tossed into a corner.  Miles wasn't entirely sure what had prompted him to want to speak with her, but he was here now.  He filled a small paper cup with water from a dispenser in the corner of the room before approaching.  "Miss Gander."


Chassie flinched, and turned her head slightly so that she could see him through a gap in black locks.  "Mr. Edgeworth…"


He motioned for one of the guards to step forward, who obediently undid her handcuffs at his order.  Chassie kept her head down as she carefully pushed herself into a sitting position and smoothed the hair from her face.  "Drink," Miles told her, pressing the cup into her bruised hands.  She shivered a little, but did so.


Miles watched as she drained the liquid contents.  He realized then that he might have been testing himself, to know if he could maybe see what it was in Chassie Gander that Phoenix had believed in so strongly.  He was confident in his evidence and in Chassie's confession, but he still wondered if there was something in her face or manner that could be construed as innocence.


After a moment of study, he decided he couldn't see whatever it was that Phoenix had.  Maybe it was too late for that now.  But Miles did feel pity for her, and for the circumstances that had led her here.


"I'm only going to ask you one more time," Miles said evenly.  "Who started the fire that night?"


Chassie didn't hesitate or look up.  "I do not know."


Of course not.  There was no use in being angry with a dead woman.  "Then there's nothing I can do about your sentence.  Your execution will be carried out on schedule."


"Yes, I know."  Chassie set the paper cup aside and lifted her head.  Though her eyes were still swollen from crying, and her cheeks stained, her expression itself was back to being still.  "Will you tell Mr. Wright…that I'm sorry?" she asked him softly.  "He's done so much for me.  I never wanted him to suffer."


Miles cocked an eyebrow.  "Are you going to apologize for my office, next?"


Chassie's eyes slid away.  "I never wanted anyone to suffer."  She folded her hands carefully in her lap.  "I never meant…to kill anyone.  I will accept my punishment, but…I hope that people will know that much."


"Then it's too bad, really," Miles said, frowning.  "If you hadn't associated with Shikabane in the first place, you wouldn't have had to keep your son a secret.  You could have taken custody of William without anyone getting hurt."


Chassie blinked slowly.  "Like I told you four years ago, I have never been a Shikabane associate," she said.  "I made a friend, that's all."  Her voice softened a little.  "You can't choose the people you care about…."


Miles' eyes narrowed; he hadn't come here to hear these kinds of words, let alone to feel sorry for her.  He motioned to the guard again, who came forward to replace her handcuffs.  "Well, I'm sorry it had to come to this," Miles said, turning to leave.  He wasn't sure if Chassie had answered any of the questions he'd had in coming in, but he had heard enough.  "Goodbye, Miss Gander.  I'll pass on your regards to Mr. Wright."


"Thank you, Mr. Edgeworth…."


Miles shook himself as he stepped out of the Prosecution Lobby, meeting back up with his three supporters.  "I'm sorry to do this, but I have a favor to ask."




Maya's shoulders hunched at the sight of the unwelcome invader, but before she could say anything Phoenix took a deliberate step in front of her.  Not this time, Maya.  He had no idea what Urami wanted or might say, and the last thing he could deal with was her finally losing her temper.  "Can I help you?" he asked, trying to sound as calm as he could manage.  He could feel a tug against the back of his jacket as Pearl ducked behind him as well.


"Isn't it customary for a client to see the attorney, after a trial…?" Urami asked easily enough.  It was difficult to gauge her expression--there was no hint of the subtle, eerie teasing she usually employed in her tone, making her all the creepier.  But she didn't exactly look angry, either.


"Urami…."  Phoenix took a deep breath to force the words out.  "I'm sorry.  I did the best I could.  But not even I can defend a guilty client from the truth.  You…know that, right?"


Urami pressed her palms together in front of her.  "Yes, I know," she said.  "You have a habit of uncovering truth…as I understood, when I hired you.  It was a risk I was willing to take…."


A risk.  Phoenix felt his chest tighten all over again as he met her dead gaze.  A risk to my reputation, my career.  A risk to Edgeworth's life…  He knew it wasn't worth it to be angry with her--he had known for a long time now that she was a liar and a murderer--but he couldn't help the swell of frustration behind his ribs.  "Then I don't have anything else to say to you." 


"Very well.  I only came…to give you this."


Urami reached into a pocket in her dress, pulling out a folded piece of rectangular paper.  Phoenix accepted it hesitantly, opening it to reveal another check.  Maya peered around his arm, and until she declared the amount out loud he was convinced he was reading it wrong. 


"$100,000!?" Maya exclaimed in disbelief.  "But…but he lost the case!"


The corners of Urami's mouth deepened just slightly.  "I hired you to prove Chassie did not set fire to Mr. Arky's duplex," she told Phoenix.  "And…you did.  It wouldn't be fair if I didn't pay you for your troubles.  This…plus the twenty-five from last week…makes up half the fee I promised you."


"Half?"  Maya glanced up at Phoenix sharply.  "Nick, is that true?"  Her eyes widened impossibly.


Phoenix stared down at the check in his hand, his mind spinning.  $100,000.  It certainly feels like I've gone through that much trouble for this case.  He thought, in the span of several heartbeats, how many different things he could do with money like this.  He could pay his bills for months to come, replace his broken vacuum and cell phone, fix up Mia's office like he'd always wanted to--


Those images passed through him quickly, leaving him feeling only cold.  Phoenix's brow furrowed, and at once his fingers jerked, tearing the check in two.


Maya jumped, her jaw dropping.  "N-Nick!  What are you doing!?"


"I don't defend guilty clients," Phoenix said firmly.  For the first time he could remember Urami looked honestly surprised when he handed her back the torn paper.  "Keep your money, Urami.  All I want as my fee is for you to stay away from me, my friends, and as many innocent people as you can stand to.  All right?"


Urami tucked the ripped check into her pocket.  "I suppose you want to include Mr. Edgeworth in your conditions, as well…?"


Phoenix's hands clenched, and when his voice lowered it sounded almost menacing in a way he couldn't remember having talked before.  "If you lay a hand on him, I'll turn you right in to the police."


Urami stared back at him, unmoved.  "For what, may I ask…?"


"I'll tell them you confessed to starting the fire at the Prosecution's Office," Phoenix threatened.


"But…I didn't."


"So?"  Phoenix bristled, feeding off his own surge of protective anger.  "Who's word will the police believe?  All they need is probable cause to search your home.  If I give them that, and they show up at your door, do you really think they won't find some kind of dirt on you?"


The humor in Urami's face had been only slight before, but it was very clear when it vanished.  Her eyes narrowed.  "You would tell the police," she challenged, "that you asked me to get rid of Prosecutor Edgeworth, just so that he wouldn't try this case…?"


"Hey," Maya protested.  "Nick would never--"


Phoenix squeezed her arm, and she fell silent beneath his uncharacteristic hostility.  "Try me."


They stared each other down, and at last Urami relented, taking a slow step back.  "You don't need to worry," she told Phoenix lightly, though her face was still tight.  "I have no more business with Prosecutor Edgeworth anyway…."  She turned, slipping out of the lobby as quietly as she'd entered.


Phoenix let his breath out with a long sigh; his hands were shaking, just slightly, in shock from his own display of aggression.  What did I just do?  I guess it worked, but….


"Hey…Nick."  Maya slipped her arm out of his grip, moving around to face him.  Her low tone made Phoenix realize just how strangely he must have been acting, for it to affect her as well.  "Are you really okay?  You're kind of freaking out."


"Yeah…."  Phoenix wiped his palms off on his pants, taking a moment to breathe in and collect himself.  "I'm sorry, girls--I'm okay.  It's just been…a really stressful week, that's all."


"Okay…."  Maya offered him a smile, its enthusiasm a bit more tempered than earlier.  "Come on--we'll get takeout, okay?  We gotta get you home."


Phoenix smiled grimly, allowing the Fey cousins to guide him out the door.  "Yeah, okay.  But wait, the reporters--"


They stepped into the hall, and were there greeted by more familiar faces--Detective Gumshoe and Lana Skye were chatting just outside the Defense Lobby, and judging by the way they looked up when Phoenix appeared, it seemed they'd been waiting for him.  "Detective…?"


"Hey, Pal," Gumshoe greeted gruffly.  "We're here to help."


"Help?"  Phoenix glanced between the pair in confusion.  "Help what?"


"My car is just out front," Lana explained.  "I can drop you and your friends off somewhere, to keep you away from the press."


Phoenix was baffled by the gesture, and his silence gave Maya a chance to interject.  "Wait a minute--who are you anyway?"


"How can you talk to Miss Skye like that when she's here to help you?" Gumshoe berated.  "Be grateful, Pal!"


Though he didn't really understand where the sudden philanthropy had come from, Phoenix was grateful.  "Lana's an old client of mine," he explained to Maya and Pearl.  And then to Lana herself, "Thank you.  I really appreciate it."


"It's no trouble at all," Lana assured.  "I'm certain I still owe you a few favors."


Gumshoe led the way down the hall to the courthouse doors.  As they neared the exit Phoenix had Pearl crawl up on him piggy-back style so that she wouldn't get lost in the swarm of people.  Maya took his elbow, and together they braced themselves.


It was the chaos Phoenix had expected.  As soon as he appeared the lights started flashing, and the noise of so many inquires drowned out even his conscious thoughts.  Phoenix clenched his jaw and kept close behind his two aids as they made their way through the undulating crowd.  Gumshoe was an impressive defensive lineman--he surged through the mass with relative ease, urging reporters out of the way and clearing a path for the others to follow, as he had done for Miles the week before.  They were aided, too, in that half the mob was already diverted.  Phoenix glanced toward a circle that had gathered on the sidewalk, and he caught a glance of familiar magenta among them.


Edgeworth.  Phoenix's heart skipped, and he tilted his head up.  "Can you see Mr. Edgeworth, Pearls?"


"Yes!"  Pearl pushed against his shoulders, craning her neck to get a better look.  She slumped back down to talk into Phoenix's ear.  "He is talking to a lot of microphones."


Edgeworth is talking to the press?  Phoenix frowned as he hurried to stay behind Gumshoe and Lana.  Just what he told me not to do.


They broke free at the sidewalk, and Gumshoe waved them ahead so he could spot from the rear.  Lana continued on and led the way to her car.  Phoenix tried to look back once they reached it, to thank Gumshoe for his help, but by then the detective was already heading away.  He seemed to be joining Ema, who was standing near the circle around Miles.


The remaining four piled into Lana's car, and she pulled quickly out of the lot.  "I don't think I've ever seen it that busy!" Maya exclaimed as she helped Pearl buckle herself in the back seat.  "I'm surprised we made it out alive."


"Yeah, really…."  Phoenix sighed, sinking into the passenger seat.  As they pulled away he glanced out the window, trying to catch another glimpse of Miles.  But there were too many people, and all he could make out was a wisp of silver hair.


"--not exactly what the city had in mind," Miles' voice suddenly filled the car.  Lana had turned on the radio, and Phoenix quickly drew in his attention to hear.  "But we have a conviction--Miss Gander was not wrongly convicted four years ago, and her execution will not be delayed.  It's unfortunate that we have not yet been able to find her accomplice, but rest assured, the police still intend to investigate."


Phoenix's eyes thinned as he tried to imagine Miles' face as he said those words.  "He told me not to talk to the press," he murmured.  "But I should, shouldn't I…?  They're going to want to hear from me…."


"Whether you do or not is up to you," Lana told him seriously.  She hesitated before offering a bit more personal advice.  "You haven't done anything wrong, Mr. Wright."


"Maybe…."  Phoenix focused back on the radio, and the impromptu press conference being held.  I made a mistake, and almost got a murderer set free.  If it wasn't for Edgeworth….


"What about Defense Attorney Phoenix Wright?" the man on the radio was asking, and Phoenix tensed a little at the mention.  "He seems to be refusing comment.  Do you think he--"


"I'm not in any position to comment on Mr. Wright in regards to this case," Miles interrupted sternly.  "But as you know, he and I have known each other for some time now, and I can't say enough about his skill and integrity as a lawyer.  That's all any of you need to know."


"That's the latest from the scene down at the courthouse," the radio announcer came back on.  "Just a few minutes ago a verdict of guilty was passed down on Chassie Gander, who--"


Lana turned the sound back down, which Phoenix was grateful for.  Edgeworth….   He glanced out the window as they turned at the intersection, moving further away from the courthouse.  Does he really think that about me?


Lana glanced at him out of the corner of her eye.  "Where would you like me to drop you all off?"


"Somewhere with food," Maya spoke up from the back.  "We're treating Nick to lunch."


"Somewhere far from here," Phoenix added.


Lana frowned slightly, but she only nodded and pulled into the turn lane.  She seemed to know where she was going, so Phoenix didn't say anything more.  I just want to forget about it for a while.  Maya's right--I'll feel better once I've eaten.  He frowned.  I didn't even eat breakfast today.  No wonder I feel sick.


Some time later Lana pulled them into the parking lot of a restaurant--a Red Robins, only a few blocks from Phoenix's office.  He appreciated the choice, and as Maya and Pearl unbuckled happily he turned to offer his thanks.  "I really appreciate this," he said seriously.  "You didn't have to."


"I thought…I owed it to you, after going behind your back like I did," Lana confessed, honestly looking troubled.  "I was the one that told Mr. Edgeworth about your appeal ahead of time."


"I know."  Phoenix smiled.  "I can't blame you for that."  I should have done it myself, a lot sooner.  "I should be thanking you, really."


Lana looked relieved, and as he unbuckled she reached into a pocket of her slacks.  "You should know," she told him, "this 'escape plan' wasn't our idea."  She handed him a folded sheet of paper.


Phoenix had had enough of secret notes, so he was slow to open it.  It's wasn't addressed or signed.  Written in the center were only two short sentences in Miles's familiar handwriting:


                I'm sorry things turned out this way, but at least it's over now.  Please call me.


Phoenix stared at the note for a long moment, reading the words over.  He wasn't sure what to make of it, let alone the pulse of emotion behind his ribs.  He gulped.  "Edgeworth gave this to you?"


"He's worried about you," Lana said.


He asked them to do this?  But….  Phoenix folded the paper again, tucking it into his suit coat.  "Thanks…for the ride, Lana."


By then Maya and Pearl were outside and peering at him through the window.  He smiled at Lana briefly and finally climbed out.  With only short words of parting he closed the door, and she drove away, heading back in the direction of the courthouse--probably to return to Miles and her sister.


I would, Phoenix thought glumly.  But you made me break my phone, you jerk.  He sighed as he turned with the girls towards the restaurant. 



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