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 6

Wednesday September 18th, 2019.  11:18 am



Phoenix's hands were clenched tight when he sat down opposite Chassie in the prison's viewing area.  He was thankful again for the glass separating them, though for a different reason; it kept her at a distance he wasn't ready to cross in his present state of agitation.  She looked calm enough, though whether that was an admission of guilt or evidence of innocence he couldn't tell.


Can I even trust my judgment right now? Phoenix wondered as he collected his thoughts.  He hadn't felt quite steady on his feet since leaving the Prosecutor's Office.  It wasn't like him--he had been to dozens of crime scenes, tried many gruesome cases.  But this was personal, and he couldn't get the image of billowing smoke out of his head.


Chassie stared back at him.  When he failed to speak right away her eyes lowered, focusing on his chest.  "What did you do to your suit?"


Phoenix followed her gaze to his own suit lapel, which bore traces of ash from where Miles' hands had fallen.  He gulped.  "That's why I'm here," he told her seriously.


Chassie returned her attention to his face, blinking slowly.  "Does it have to do with my case?"


Phoenix's brow furrowed as he leaned forward.  He knew he didn't have a very intimidating face or figure, but hopefully he could impress more urgency on Chassie than he had on Urami.  "Tell me you didn't know what Urami had planned."


The blank palette that was Chassie's countenance gave Phoenix very little clues as to her thoughts, but those he did pick up on all pointed to one answer.  Her eyes thinned, and the muscles in her neck tightened, and her fingers curled, just slightly, against the metal table.  When she spoke, her voice was thin.  "What did she do?"


The viewing room was monitored--Phoenix would have gladly implicated Urami in the fire in front of guards and cameras, if not for the reparations he feared would come next.  "She gave me some incentive," he said carefully.  "Now tell me you didn't know."


Chassie lowered her head as her hands curled over each other.  "I did not ask her to do anything like that.  I had no way of knowing."


Phoenix sighed.  He knew very well he might be playing the fool yet again, but he believed her.  For someone as immovable as Chassie seemed, even her tiny reactions meant she was affected by the news.  "At this point I don't have much choice other than to defend you," he told her.  "Which means we have to be honest with each other.  You're going to tell your friend to keep out of it, understand?  I can win this, but if she interferes again I'll drop it and take my chances with her family."


Chassie nodded bleakly.  "I understand."


"All right."  Phoenix relaxed a little.  He had no idea what kind of sway Chassie might hold over Urami, but it might have been the only way to reach her.  "Then there's just one thing I want to know from you."  He took a deep breath.  "Why did you go to the duplex that night?"


He half expected Chassie to deny having been at the scene at all, but she surprised him with an honest answer.  "I went to see Jackie."


"Mr. Hoff?"  Phoenix frowned, trying to remember all he'd learned about the second male victim.  "You knew him?"


Chassie leaned back in her chair and slowly folded her arms.  "We were…involved.  Until a few months before the fire."


Phoenix stared dumbly, as if he'd heard wrong.  "Involved," he repeated.  "He was your ex?  Why didn't you tell me before?"  The thought of Chassie being anyone's lover was enough to give him a chill.


"You only asked just now," Chassie said quietly.


Phoenix rolled his eyes; his temper was especially short that day, and he had no patience for those kinds of games.  "From now on, when I say 'honest with each other' I mean full disclosure.  Okay?"


Chassie nodded again.  "We were lovers," she explained softly and precisely.  "For almost three years.  He left me for Ann a few months before the fire.  I would not accept it, so I went to his home that night."


"April said she saw you climb through the window," Phoenix said doubtfully.


"He would not have let me through the door."


Strange, but I guess it makes sense.  Phoenix adjusted his tie.  "So what happened?  You ended up at the clinic with cuts on your hand.  Did you hurt yourself on the window?"


Chassie blinked.  "I hit Jackie over the head with a wine bottle."


Phoenix's hand gave a jerk in surprise, tightening his necktie painfully.  He struggled to loosen it once more.  "You what?"


"He was being unreasonable," Chassie said plainly.


Geez, these women.  Phoenix shook his head.  "All right.  So you broke into your ex's house and hit him over the head with a wine bottle for being 'unreasonable'.  Is that it?"


"Yes."  Chassie turned her hands over, showing him her palms--there were still faint scars visible on her pale skin.  "We had an argument.  He said he would never come back to me, so I hit him with the bottle.  It broke.  He kicked me out and I called Urami from the payphone outside.  We met at the Hotta clinic.  She took me home."


It was beyond Phoenix how she could relate her story so dispassionately; he hadn't been anywhere near the fire that morning, but it still chilled him to think about it.  It was four years ago, I guess.  She's had plenty of time to tell her account.  "So that's how you got the cuts on your hands, and the alcohol in your hair."




"And then…."  Phoenix frowned, resisting the temptation to glance up at the visitation room's camera.  Got to word it carefully, just in case.  "Does that mean Edgeworth was wrong about the arsonist's motive?  Might Mel Arky not have been the real target?"


Chassie stared at him, her dark eyes penetrating.  "I have no idea who really started that fire."


Phoenix smiled grimly.  Well of course she wouldn't say anything to implicate Urami.  But it almost sounds like Urami might have killed the man just to get back at him, for Chassie's sake.  What is wrong with these people?  "Fair enough.  We won't go there."


"Thank you."


Phoenix leaned back in his chair, trying to think of anything else he could ask Chassie relating to the case.  He had her excuse for being at the scene.  He had proof she'd left before the fire started.  Anything else he would have to pry out in court.  "Is that the full story?" he asked, just in case Chassie felt like actually helping her own defense.  "You promised to be honest with me."


"Yes," Chassie assured with a nod.  "That is my full story."


"All right."  He had no choice but to trust her.  "The Prosecutor's Office is…not in order right now, so I won' be able to file right away.  But I have everything I need, and we should be able to go to court soon."


Chassie clasped her hands, chin tipping down modestly.  "Thank you, Mr. Wright."


Her sincerity eased some of Phoenix's remaining insecurity, and he managed to smile slightly.  "I'll see you again soon," he promised as he pushed to his feet.  He stepped back, and waited until Chassie had been led off again before leaving.




There were thirty-seven ceiling tiles visible from his bed.  He could see three other patients, not including Detective Gumshoe, who was snoring like a bear on the next mattress over.  He had memorized the names of all the nurses on the morning shift, overheard two inappropriate conversations, and made a mental inventory of all the things in his office four times over.  There was, very literally, nothing left to do.


"Will you sign my discharge papers now?" Miles called.


"I'm sorry, Mr. Edgeworth," one of the nurses--Debbie, he had learned--replied from the hall.  "The Chief insisted we keep you for a full observation."


Miles folded his arms irritably.  He hadn't so much as sneezed in the last half hour, more than enough to convince him he was in perfect health despite the ordeal.  Even Gumshoe, who had suffered worse smoke inhalation from their daring escape, was resting comfortably.  Being in a hospital was unpleasant enough without being there for no reason.


He glared at Gumshoe.  "At least you can sleep," he muttered, reaching behind him to better adjust the pillow at the small of his back.  "You'll probably get a day off after this.  A medal.  I get to go back to work with no office and a headache."


Gumshoe didn't reply.  He was stretched out on his side, hugging his own floppy hospital pillow to his chest.  Whatever he was dreaming about, Miles was pretty sure he didn't want to know.  "Oh well," the prosecutor sighed.  "I guess you deserve it."


Even Miles had to admit, Gumshoe's reaction in a time of crisis had been admirable.  The had fire spread faster than Miles thought it could, and if it had been him alone trying to hobble down twelve flights in a smoke-filled stairwell, he wasn't sure he could have made it.  But before he could even begin to formulate a plan of escape Gumshoe's hand had tightened around his arm and dragged him to the stairs.  Using his cravat to cover his mouth, Miles had depended on the detective's support down the narrow steps, floor by floor, until finally meeting with firemen in the lobby. 


Miles was trying not to think about that now, though.  This wasn't the first "death threat" he'd received in his work as a prosecutor.  He had faced down every type and size of criminal without faltering.  But nature itself couldn't be negotiated with or argued against--it was beyond his control in a way that had intimidated him his entire life.  He easily remembered how the smoke choked out his breath, how the hard stone walls closed in around him, and it was only a small jump to imagine the floor shaking out from beneath him as well.  Every step had been a battle more against his own nature than a means of escape. 


Miles closed his eyes, letting his chin drop to his chest.  Just keep it out of your mind, he told himself.  It's over, and everyone made it out all right.  He sighed.  His rationalizations wouldn't do him any good later, when night fell and he couldn't sleep, but he was used to that.  I don't need the sleep anyway.  I'll have too much work to do.


He wished Phoenix were around.  It was always easier to appear calm if there was someone else around who wasn't.  Not to mention he would make better company than Gumshoe's nasal symphony.


One of the officers stationed outside his door peeked hesitantly inside.  "Prosecutor Edgeworth?  We have some news from the officers at the scene."


Miles sat up a little straighter and waved him inside.  "Well let's have it."


The man stepped closer.  "The Fire Department says they found the source of the fire--a storage room on the eleventh floor.  The arsonist used no chemical accelerant and lots of paper to create the most amount of smoke from a small amount of fire."


Miles frowned thoughtfully at that report.  "So he wasn’t trying to burn the building down," he surmised.  "He was just trying to smoke us out."


"We won't know for sure until we catch the guy, but that's what the detectives are thinking, Sir."


"I see.  Thank you."  As the officer turned to leave Miles called after him, "See if you can speed up my discharge!"


"Mr. Edgeworth?"  An unfamiliar nurse peeked inside the room, and Miles was worried he'd have another shift's worth to memorize, until she spoke.  "The doctor will be right with you with your discharge papers.  There's even someone waiting downstairs to drive you home."


Miles sighed, already reaching for his proper clothing.  "Thank God."




After leaving the prison, Phoenix returned home.  He stopped at a convenience store along the way for a fresh six pack of beer to compliment a simple sandwich lunch.  He hated having to stay put but there wasn't much he else he could do.  With all his evidence assembled and the Prosecutor's office still in chaos, he couldn't go forward with his case.  There was nothing to do but sit on it.


Phoenix was usually pretty good at doing nothing.  He took cases weeks apart, and had learned a hundred different little ways to pass the time.  None of those seemed appropriate or effective now.  He was restless, in a way he hadn't been since his first trial three years ago.  In desperation he even called up Larry, but naturally, the one time he showed initiative toward meeting his friend was the first time Larry was too busy to see him.


By five o'clock in the evening Phoenix had had enough, and he left his apartment, still in his nice shirt and slacks, to take a walk around the block.  The fresh air did him some good, or at least, he told himself that it did.  After he had been out for nearly twenty minutes, however, he found himself standing at the entrance to a familiar street.  He hesitated, glancing about in unwarranted paranoia.  I can at least check, he thought as he started down the sidewalk.  He should have been discharged by now.


The neighborhood triggered memories.  Phoenix had come down this lane every morning for almost four months as a kid, carrying his backpack and small blue lunch box.  Miles would wait for him at the end of the driveway, two steps from the mail box, and together they'd pick up Larry on their way to school.  Four months was a relatively short time in the life of a growing nine year old, but to Phoenix his morning routine meant the world to him. 


He still remembered that cold morning in January he turned the corner and found no one waiting for him two steps from the mailbox.  Over the winter break his parents had tried to explain to him what the stories on the news had said about Miles and his family, but it wasn't until he stood at the end of the Edgeworths' empty driveway that the young Phoenix understood.


The driveway wasn't empty now--Miles' red sports car was parked in it, confirming Phoenix's earlier assumptions.  So he's home.  I don't know how happy he'll be to see me, but I should at least see how he's doing.  He still felt guilty about the whole incident, and he wanted a chance to explain.  Just tell him straight.  What's the worst he could do?


Phoenix knocked on the door, and fidgeted with his collar and cuffs.  He wasn't sure what to make of Miles' face when he answered; he had showered and changed, so that there was no evidence of the fire on his face or in his hair, and already that made him look much better than how they'd parted that morning.  But when their eyes met something in Miles' expression went tightly blank.  He didn't speak as he stared at the unexpected visitor.


"Um…."  Phoenix faltered beneath the uncomfortably heavy gaze.  "Hey.  I saw your car in the driveway, so I thought I'd check up on you," he said awkwardly.  "You know, after this morning.  Maybe even pick you up some dinner, if you were still recovering…."  He tried to smile but it felt forced.


Miles sighed, and turned away from the open door.  "You'd better come inside."


Thatdoesn't sound good.  Phoenix stepped inside, closing the door behind him.  Miles didn't wait for him--he strode down the hall into the kitchen without looking back.  Though already Phoenix had the feeling he'd walked into some kind of trap, he followed, tugging again at his collar.


When he entered the kitchen Miles was already at the sink, draining the water from a pot full of steaming pasta.  "Oh, so you did make dinner," Phoenix noted, trying to fill the suddenly painful silence.  "I wasn't sure you'd be up to it, after--"


Miles slammed the pot onto the counter, causing Phoenix to jump from the dull percussion of metal and spilling some of his spaghetti over the edges.  He turned to face his guest with that same cold, even stare.  "Stop it."


Phoenix tensed.  Shit.  "Edgeworth, I--"


"I talked to Lana earlier," Miles said, making Phoenix's heart sink down into his stomach.  But it wasn’t anger in his face--it was something still and indescribable, and it was worse.  "She met me at the hospital."


"So she told you…."  Phoenix's shoulders sagged.  He couldn't blame Lana for that much--she and Miles had worked together, and she had more reason to be faithful to him than to the lawyer that defended her once.  He struggled to regain some kind of composure.  "I was going to--"


Miles snorted and turned his back, busying himself with slipping the jostled pasta back into its pot.  "Of course you were."


Phoenix clenched his jaw, and with a deep breath moved around to Miles' right side.  You have to make him understand!  "I was going to tell you," he said firmly, as if a stronger tone might convince them both.  "Before I filed the appeal, at least.  I didn't--"


"That's mighty generous of you," Miles muttered.  Suddenly fed up with the food preparation he shoved the pot to the back of the counter and turned to face the other man.  "Before the assault on my reputation, but after the attempt on my life."


"That's not fair," Phoenix said quickly.  "I had no idea that was going to happen."


"But you know who's responsible, don't you?" Miles challenged.  Finally his tone was beginning to rise--at least his anger was easier to deal with than cold accusation from a moment ago.  "Someone set my building on fire today, so don't insult me by pretending you don't know who."


"I can guess pretty well," Phoenix admitted quietly.


Miles' eyes narrowed as if Phoenix had given the wrong answer, not that denial would have annoyed him less.  "Do you have proof?"


Phoenix shook his head as he thought quickly through his brief conversation with Urami.  "Of course not.  I'm a lawyer, not a detective."


Miles scoffed, and for a moment Phoenix thought he might have been calming down, until he asked his next question.  "Why did she do it?"


"What do you mean….?"


"She's trying to get her friend acquitted," Miles reasoned.  Neither of them had to say the name to know who he meant.  "Attacking the Prosecutor's Office only slows the process down.  It had to be for a reason."


She did it because I asked her to.  He knew that wasn't true, but he couldn't stop it from resounding in his mind as Miles continued to glare him down.  "I don't know," he blurted out.  "She wouldn't tell me."


Miles was silent a moment, scrutinizing, and then he turned away.  "I don't believe you."


He walked away before Phoenix could respond, heading back down the hall toward the door.  Phoenix had no choice but to follow.  "Edgeworth, come on," he called after him.  "This isn't my fault!  Chassie's innocent--what else was I supposed to do?"


They were only halfway down the hall when Miles wheeled on him.  "She's not innocent!" he all but shouted, giving in to his temper.  "That's why she's in prison!"


"You didn't have all the evidence!"  Phoenix clenched his fists and forced himself to lower his voice--shouting at Miles wasn't about to change his mind or ease his mood.  "She couldn't have done it, and I have proof."


Miles folded his arms over his chest.  "What kind of proof?"


"I have--"  Phoenix broke off with a sudden, unwanted thought: Miles was no in any state to be hearing about evidence.  The old Miles, upon catching on to a new piece of information, would start thinking immediately on how to turn it to his benefit.  If Phoenix told him about the clinic report now there was a good chance he would try to prove it false.


Do I trust him?  Phoenix swallowed hard as he tried to meet Miles' cool gray eyes without faltering.  I know he's changed.  But four years ago, when he took this case, he would do anything to win.  If I'm going to beat him this time I need every advantage.  And that includes…not letting him come up with an explanation for my evidence before I even present it.


Phoenix took too long to decide--Miles grew impatient, and with another derisive snort started to turn away again.  He didn't get far away this time, as Phoenix quickly grabbed his arm to pull him back.  "Edgeworth, just listen to me," he insisted.  "I know you're mad because I didn't tell you--and maybe I should have.  But this isn't about you and me.  It's about an innocent woman who's going to die!"


"That thing locked up in prison is not a woman," Miles growled, shoving Phoenix's hand off.  "She's a cold-blooded killer and an accomplice to the mob!"


Phoenix didn't try to stop him again when he continued down the hall.  His chest felt thick and heavy from the confrontation, weighing him down with a sensation of disappointment he hadn't felt since Miles disappeared from his office two years ago, and from the end of his driveway years before that.  The sight of his turned back made him sick.


"Maybe I was wrong," Phoenix said.  "Maybe you haven't changed at all."


Miles straightened, the line of his spine becoming rigid as he stood with his hand on the doorknob.  "Wright…."


"I'm sorry."  Phoenix steeled himself once more and came up behind him, though he hadn't recovered enough courage to try and see Miles' face.  "I should have told you.  But I didn't want to bring it up until I'd checked all the evidence, and was positive I could take her case.  I wasn't trying to hide from you."


Miles shifted his weight, and turned his head just enough so that Phoenix could see his troubled profile.  "Our system doesn't mess around, you know," he said evenly.  "Once you file the appeal, I only have twenty-four hours to gather my evidence and prepare for court.  That's not much time for a case that's several years old."


Phoenix's shoulders slumped guiltily.  "I'm sorry," he said again.  "But you understand, don't you?  I just wanted to be sure.  It's nothing personal."


"Nothing personal…right."  Miles took a step back, pulling the door open.  "I think you should leave."


The knot in Phoenix's gut was telling him to do as he was told.  It was pretty clear by now that Miles wasn't listening to what he had to say.  But as soon as he took the first step toward the door he knew he couldn't leave like this.  He faced Miles again.  "I'm doing this for you, too."


Miles stared back at him with that same damnably unreadable expression, and it wasn't until Phoenix realized he was making the same face that he understood what it meant.  "You just said it wasn't personal."


"It shouldn't be."  Phoenix closed his eyes briefly.  It's betrayal.  That's what he's feeling.  "But you made a mistake, Edgeworth.  For your sake, I have to make you realize that."


The muscles along Miles' jaw tightened defensively.  "I did not make a mistake."


"You sent an innocent woman to prison."


Miles let go of the door and stepped forward, putting them mere inches apart in the narrow hallway.  "Chassie Gander was guilty!" he insisted.


"She was innocent!" Phoenix shouted back, unable to resist his goading any longer.  "And you convicted her anyway!"


Miles reached for him, his fingers twisting tightly in the front of Phoenix's collar.  "I got her convicted for killing five people!" he yelled, giving Phoenix a shake.  "Who the hell do you think you are?  These are the same people that tried to kill me, and you're defending them!"


Phoenix grabbed the wrists that were awfully close to his neck, but he wasn't strong enough to pull them off.  "Chassie's not the one who set your building on fire!"


"What difference does it make?  They're both--"


His words cut through the last of Phoenix's restraint, and instead of trying to push Miles off again he threw his weight forward, backing the prosecutor into the wall.  By misjudging his own strength they made an impressive thud when they hit, body against body in an angry tangle of taut limbs.


"I know at least three innocent people you would have had killed if not for me," Phoenix snapped, his hands shaking against Miles' chest.  "Can you really tell me there aren't more, Edgeworth?  Don't tell me you never made a mistake before I showed up to stop you!"


Miles went still beneath his hands, and for a few short seconds Phoenix found himself staring into a contorted and almost frightened countenance.  But he managed to collect himself faster than his companion, and with a thin sound of pain Miles threw Phoenix off him, separating their bodies and sending Phoenix's shoulder blades slamming into the opposite wall.  There they both stopped, short of breath and wavering on their feet.


Miles turned against the wall, bracing his palms with his back to the other.  "Get out," he gasped.  "Get out--get out of my house!"


Phoenix shuddered, and tried to speak several times, but he couldn't find any of the words he wanted.  Finally he lowered his head.  "I'm sorry."


Miles' shoulders hunched.  "Get the hell out of here!"


Phoenix finally gave in.  On faltering strides he retreated from the house, out the door and down the walk to the driveway.  He was shaking and distraught, and when he heard the front door slam his knees nearly buckled.  At the mailbox he stopped to regain his breath.


You don’t have any choice but to keep going, he told himself, pressing a hand over his mouth in case the churning in his stomach overcame him.  The truth is all that matters.  When Edgeworth calms down, he'll understand.  Phoenix squeezed his eyes shut.  And he'll forgive you.  You weren't wrong--this is for his sake, too.


Phoenix started quickly down the sidewalk.  I'm doing this for you, Edgeworth.  Please, understand….



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