At the End of the Chase

by Tenshi

It was pouring the rain in Paris, and Miles Edgeworth didn't care. So long as Paris remained firmly rooted to the ground, and Edgeworth was snug in a cafe with his hands wrapped around a mug of tea, the sky could do as it damn well pleased. Outside, the twisting curve of Rue Something-or-other was lost in a mist of rising fog and muted streetlights. The people passing by the cafe door didn't give a damn about Miles Edgeworth, or his crimes, or his tea, or the life he had abandoned. The French were, Edgeworth thought, admirably skilled at letting a man alone to mind his own business.

Unlike some people.

A blue raincoat flashed by outside the foggy window, and Edgeworth flinched. It could not be him, of course. Not here, where Edgeworth had come to lose himself. That man was miles and worlds away from the secluded cafe and the rain-slick cobblestones outside, along with everything else Edgeworth had left behind. Yet Edgeworth saw him anyway, a dozen times a day. Just as he had seen him across the crowded airport, or flickering by in the window of a passing subway train. Edgeworth could not manage to escape the Phoenix Wright in his mind, no matter how far behind he might leave the man himself. He was under Edgeworth's skin, ingrained in the indelible ink of obligation, and there was no rubbing him out.

The blue raincoat was, in truth, occupied by a good-looking German exchange student, quite blond, who was quite busy with the tonsils of a young woman who had rushed out of a cab to greet him. Edgeworth turned away from their ardent bonsoirs, and scowled at his reflection in the tea.

The man was intolerable. What right did he have to invade Edgeworth's subconscious, putting up his feet on the furniture, making himself both at home and an utter nuisance. He was a passing blip on Edgeworth's radar, a static memory. Edgeworth had plunged into the rainy Paris night like a baptism, hoping to emerge new-made, immaculate.

Instead Phoenix Wright clung to his thoughts, just as ardently as he had clung to his lapels the night after Edgeworth's acquittal. Which was, among everything else, another reason for Edgeworth's departure. He had baggage enough without adding in emotional entanglements. That night had been a mistake, and Miles Edgeworth was not accustomed to making them.

Better to call the whole thing a wash, and wash his hands of it, as well. There was nothing for him in LA. It was a ghastly town, with all the culture and charm of an inner-city laundromat. Edgeworth had been considering leaving already, had mulled it over for months. He had stayed only to punish himself, and when the need for that punishment had gone, his need to stay in that repulsive city had gone as well. The debacle with Gant and Lana Skye had only confirmed the matter. Everyone had expected Edgeworth to step into the position of chief prosecutor, with a throne of rumors and secrets to sit upon.

Edgeworth would rather leave than bear the brunt of every whispered insinuation in the district, and so he had. Walking out of the door had been ridiculously easy, and he had not looked back at all the burdens sloughed off in his shadow.

But Phoenix Wright would not leave him be.

Edgeworth's tea had gone cold; the German student and his date had moved on to drier surroundings. Edgeworth wanted to go to the theatre. He wanted a glass of wine, a plate of escargot swimming in herbed butter, the crisp perfection of a proper crème brulee. He wanted a night devoid of his past. Edgeworth had thought that if anything were to pursue him, it would be the vengeful ghost of Manfred von Karma. Not Phoenix Wright, with his loosened tie and his unmade bed, his taut throat and the shivering muscles of his thighs under Edgeworth's hands.

Edgeworth knocked back his tea, swept up his overcoat, and fled out into the darkness as though pursued. Paris moved by him in a blur of elegant indifference. When he came to a stop it was on the lip of some scenic river bridge, empty of the usual tourists. Rain dribbled down the collar of his coat, dampening the back of his cravat, turning the surface of the Seine into a bolt of wrinkled black silk. For a moment he considered letting her soft folds close over his head. It would be fitting, wouldn't it? Javert, undone by accepting a kindness from Valjean. There had been no happy ending for the devoted Inspector loyal to the law, only despair and cold river water.

Edgeworth's hands gripped the wet iron railing of the bridge. Dammit, if Wright had ever seen LeMis, he would understand how things were supposed to work. Edgeworth would not have needed to leave behind a tacky note of farewell. But men like Wright needed lines drawn around things. Otherwise, he would be tracking Edgeworth down, shadowing his every move, not satisfied until he had dragged him back. Only implied death would shake him from the trail.

Edgeworth startled himself with his own laugh. No, implied wasn't good enough. The real Phoenix Wright was dismissible, but the phantom one--even now, for a moment, visible in the distorted reflection of the river--was impossible to lose. No escape would ever be enough, and Edgeworth would always be haunted.

He fingered the sleek outline of the cell phone in his pocket, flipped it open. What time was it in LA? Was the weather as bland as always, the smog as thick, the hills flourishing into their brief, pathetic show of springtime green? Was Phoenix asleep, twisted up in those appalling blue t-shirt knit sheets? Would he wake up at the sound of the phone, would he be angry, confused, relieved, happy?

Would his image leave Edgeworth the hell alone?

Rain spattered on the lighted display of Edgeworth's phone. At last he clicked it shut in his hand, and it vanished again into his coat pocket.

No. The break was clean, as clean as Edgeworth could make it. Better to leave it that way. He would always be pursed by his past, he knew that. And if it chose to take the shape of Phoenix Wright, so be it. For once it would be in the form of a friendly face, and Edgeworth thought he should be glad of that.

Even in Paris.


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