Foolish Mortals

by Tenshi

Author's Note: Hey, they're supposed to be in LA.

"Wow, after that, I think I could really go for a hamburger! You know they have them here shaped like mouse ears?" Maya stretched, as though the amusement park ride had been some sort of mild, energizing workout. "How about you, Nick?"

Phoenix was clinging to the railing by a excruciatingly well-landscaped lake, and trying not to be picturesquely sick right in the middle of it. "Ugh. Maya, I don't know how you can even think about food right now. Much less food with mouse ears in it."

Maya put her hands on her hips, pouting. "Not in it! Just shaped like it! Like the ice cream, and the cookies, and the chicken fritters--"

"Urp," Said Phoenix.

"Really, you're such a baby," Maya sighed. "We had like the slowest teacup out of the entire batch."

"I want to go in the cups again!" Pearls piped in, tugging on Phoenix's hand. "Can we go again, Mr. Nick? It was so fun, the way it kept going around and around and around and--"

Phoenix kind of whimpered, and wondered if they would throw him out for vomiting on cartoon-character shaped topiary. If he did, surely he wouldn't be the first person to do that?

"Sorry, Pearls," Maya said, in an overly-loud confidential whisper. "Nick's kind of a wimp about rides. We should do something more sedate. Like the Tower of Terror! It takes you waaaay up in the air in a haunted elevator and then--"

"Please," Phoenix said, going weak kneed at the very thought, "have mercy, Maya."

Maya took Pearls' hand, and set off down the walkway in a brisk, businesslike manner. "Fine," she said. "If you're going to be a total pansy about it, we'll go on a boring little old kiddy ride."

Phoenix lurched after them, too relieved to feel the barb about his masculinity. Right now, happy singing puppets on a boat ride were right about his speed.

"Here we are!" Maya announced. "Oh, look, the line's even short!"

"Maya," Phoenix said, staring up at a facade of gothic horror, "This is the Haunted Mansion."

"What's the matter, Nick?" Maya asked, coyly. "Too much for you to handle? I hear at one point the ride carts tilt back a whole two inches, and it goes at an amazing speed of one mile an hour--"

"I can hack the ride just fine, Maya!" Phoenix snapped, even though after his last case, he had quite enough dead things popping out at him to last the rest of his life. "It's just that... Just that, uh--"

"Well?" Maya prompted.

"Pearls is too young to go on it," Phoenix concluded, triumphantly. "All the ghosts and things. It'll give her nightmares."

"Mr. Nick," Pearls said solemnly, "I'm a spirit medium."

"Yeah, Nick," Maya said. "We deal with dead people all the time, only these are made out of fiberglass. This is like for us what 'Lawyer Mountain' would be for you. If they made one." She paused to consider. "Which they wouldn't. It would just be a giant pile of paperwork with one ride cart on top of it that you sit in and you don't go anywhere or do anything--"

"Until suddenly it takes off and you have no control over it and it carooms through the entire park before falling off a cliff?" Phoenix suggested, bitterly. "I'm telling you, Maya, we're not going on--"

"Someone's waving at us from the line, Mr. Nick!" Pearls said, waving back in delight. "Look, it's Mr. Edgeworth and Miss Franziska!"

Phoenix groaned inwardly. A zillion people in the park that weekend, and of course they would run into those two now, of all the times.

"Want to turn around and lose face now, Nick?" Maya said, grinning like one of the gargoyles on the mansion roof.

"Dammit," Phoenix said, and let Maya and Pearls tug him forward to his doom.

"Ah, Phoenix Wright," Franziska said, when they got within range. Edgeworth was standing with her, looking utterly incongruous in jeans and a button-down shirt. Phoenix wouldn't even have recognized him, without Franziska there. "It must be tedious for you to be going on so boring a ride for little girls, yes?"

Maya opened her mouth, and Phoenix was sure that whatever came out of it would not be good news for him. "Well, you know, they insisted," he said, before Maya could get anything out. "But uh, if this is a kiddie ride, what are you--"

Franziska made a noise of annoyance, and swatted Edgeworth on the shoulder. Was Phoenix imagining things, or did Miles Edgeworth look... sheepish?

"This man! If he even can be called that! He balked at going on the dropping down haunted elevator ride. Bah! This is as much as he can take. Pathetic, isn't it?"

Phoenix wasn't imagining things.

"I have a medical condition, Franziska," Edgeworth began, sounding wounded. "I can't go on--"

"Medical condition?" Franziska snorted. "What is that that you have? Are you suffering from acute cowardice, or are you pregnant? Answer me that."

"I really wish you had gotten an earlier flight back to Germany," was all Edgeworth said. Phoenix couldn't help feeling sorry for the man. He looked pale and clammy in spite of the warmish day, and Phoenix wondered if it was cruelty, selfishness, or obliviousness that had prompted Franziska to ask Edgeworth to go on a haunted elevator ride, of all things. Probably a little bit of all three.

"Well now we're all here, we can go together!" Pearls said, bouncing with happiness. She knocked off her little pink pair of mouse ears in her excitement, and Edgeworth retrieved them for her, smiling wanly. Her thanks were bubbly enough to bring a little bit of color to his face, and Phoenix felt a rush of affection for Pearls, and maybe a little for Edgeworth as well.

"Hey, we're going in!" Maya said, as the crowd surged forward towards the mansion lobby. "Come on, come on!"

Phoenix had forgotten his own discomfort in the face of Miles Edgeworth's, and found himself standing at the other man's shoulder during the sinking room and the portrait gallery, grateful the girls were all distracted by spooky theatrical effects.

"Hey," Phoenix said, as a stately man in a tarnished frame turned into a corpse and back again, "are you okay?"

"I despise amusement parks," Edgeworth said in answer, and then seemed to remember that he was talking to Phoenix, and not himself. "Nevermind, Wright. I'm just tired. Franziska has had us all over the park today since dawn. She insists on riding every single thing, in order, without exception." He sighed. "She's so German."

"Maybe you can have a nap on this ride?" Phoenix suggested. "It's dark enough."

Edgeworth's mouth tightened in something that wasn't a smile. "Perhaps."

They were at the loading dock now, and Pearls and Maya scrambled eagerly into one of the doombuggies. Franziska shoved Edgeworth away and insisted she was not riding with such a sorry excuse for a man, and she did not want to have to listen to his crying and cowering. Phoenix and Edgeworth looked at each other in something like resignation, and climbed into the next ride seat together.

The restraint bar clunked down, supposedly moved by ghostly hands, and Phoenix found himself squeezed into the seat along with Miles Edgeworth and creepy background narration coming from the car speaker.

"I don't blame you for not wanting to do the Tower of Terror," Phoenix said, in the hopes that conversation would help him forget just how closely they were smushed together in the dark. The cart really wasn't made for as broad a pair of shoulders as theirs. "Maya had me ready to barf just from the teacups."

"They're more fun when you're smaller," Edgeworth said, over the creaking of phantom doors. "Something about the center of your gravity, I suppose. I remember when I rode them with my father--" He broke off, and took a sudden intense interest in an animatronic candlestick.

All at once, Phoenix understood. "You haven't been here since you were a kid, have you?"

Edgeworth glanced at him, something in his eyes guilty at having been found out. "I wouldn't even have come today, but Franziska's flight is not until the weekend, and she insisted on doing the sights."

"Still, they're all good memories, here, right?" Phoenix sat back in the seat as best he could. There was a séance going on in front of them, and from Maya and Pearls' ride car he heard wild giggling at the floating furniture and overblown chanting. "I mean, this place is supposed to be about fun, about being a kid again--"

"And what," Edgeworth broke in, bitterly, "is so wonderful about being a kid? I don't ever remember anything good about it."

Phoenix paused. It was not just a trick of the ride show lighting; Edgeworth's eyes were too bright. "...You mean besides that memory of you and your dad in those teacups?" he asked, quietly.

Edgeworth laughed, just once. The blacklight was turning his hair a wild shade of luminous blue, making him look like a ghost himself. "I threw up," he admitted. "I'd only had four or so mouse-ear-shaped ice cream bars right before."

"Well, if you're gonna throw up, this is at least the place to do it in style," Phoenix said, grinning. "I mean, hell." He gestured to the ride, "They don't even take death seriously here."

"Maybe that's what I don't like about it," Edgeworth said with a scowl, his hands tightening on the restraint bar. "I have to deal with people's violent deaths every day. It's not something to be made fun of, to be turned into amusement like this..."

"Or maybe," Phoenix said, "it's the only way to deal with it? I know murder and mayhem is our line of work, Edgeworth, but... I mean, you've gotta admit this is pretty cool. Look, that one guy's wearing your coat."

Phantom dancers were whirling across a cobwebby ballroom floor, and Phoenix thought he saw some kind of wonder soften Edgeworth's face. "I remember this," he said, softly. "I'd forgotten. I never could figure out how they did it."

"Actually," Phoenix began, as a man who had done a paper on Dark Rides and the Camaraderie of Fear, for his sociology midterm in college, "It's a big sheet of glass with--"

"Don't tell me," Edgeworth said, quickly. "I don't... I don't want to know." He flashed a smile at Phoenix, fleeting as the Pepper's Ghosts flickering in the dark ballroom. "I suppose that's the secret, isn't it? To being a kid. Both of us, in our jobs, we have to know the truth. We have to know how everything works. We can't turn that off, even in a place like this. For someone like Pearls, it's just accepted as it is, and that's the fun of it. The wonder."

"Well," Phoenix said, "Why don't you try it that way? I mean, that's why this place is good for adults too, you know? So you don't have to think. You can suspend your disbelief and enjoy it just like Pearls. Although maybe not the teacups."

Edgeworth shook his head. "I wouldn't know where to start."

"How about here?" The carts were creeping through a dusty attic. "It's the best part of the ride, you know. I always thought so. You remember the bride?"

"No," Edgeworth admitted. "I was so scared of the popping-up heads, I closed my eyes the whole time."

"Here she comes," Phoenix said, leaning forward. "Look at all the photographs and things. She murdered all her husbands with an axe--"

"And there was no evidence to put her away after the first murder?"

"Hey, what did I say about suspension of disbelief--" Phoenix started, but Edgeworth was smirking at him. Phoenix had just been baited.

"Okay, Prosecutor, have it your way," Phoenix said, "But the hitchhiking ghost always goes home with the smartass, you know."


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