by Tenshi

Apollo was fairly certain that bunnies were to be commonly found around Easter, not at Christmas. Apart from the velveteen sort, Apollo could not think of too many examples of Christmas rabbit. Nevertheless, the office was swarming with them. Everywhere Apollo looked, bunnies. White bunnies in the wastepaper basket. White bunnies under the sofa. Bunnies overturning coffee cups and chewing on the Christmas light wires. Bunnies mounting a furry, floppy assault on anything that could be called an honest morning's work.

"I don't understand," Trucy said, rescuing a bunny from under Apollo's chair, after his latest outburst of temper. "I could swear I only got a pair of bunnies for Uncle Valant's present."

Apollo, on the other hand, was trying to rescue the Folderol Deposition papers from the bunny, with somewhat less success. He examined a gnawed corner of the file folder and sighed. "Truce, that was way before Thanksgiving. Couldn't you have picked them up from the pet store tonight? Why did you have to get them so early? Now there's dozens."

"Don't be silly," Trucy said, snuggling the bunny. "Everybody knows it's smart to Christmas shop early." She scooped the bunny up into her hat and went around the office, humming Frosty the Snowman under her breath as she gathered up other members of the white lapine dynasty.

Apollo put his face in his hands, and groaned. It was ten-thirty in the morning of Christmas Eve, and the offices of Wright Whateverthehellitisnow Agency had not been a proper working environment now for days. And not only because of the bunnies. First of all, the offices were also Phoenix and Trucy's living quarters, so even at the best of times they were overpopulated with collapsing magic boxes and unused pianos and hula skirts and screaming monkey slingshots and old DVDs of Steel Samurai and trick birthday candles and empty pudding containers. They also contained an open suitcase on the sofa, which Apollo had been living out of since his old apartment landlord had objected to a general lack of rent payments. The other building tenants called the place a disgrace, but Phoenix had gotten the owner out of a sticky spot with the law a few years before, and he tended to overlook the chaos and random extra tenants.

None of it, however, was as singularly distracting to honest work as the presence of Phoenix Wright himself. Not even the bunnies. The Bar Exam results were to be released at five that afternoon, and all semblance of the cool and collected defense attorney (or even the cool and collected poker shark) had vanished as Phoenix worked his way through roughly nine cups of coffee and reloaded every computer in the office at ten minute intervals. He was like a nervous ghost of Christmas past and Christmas yet to be all rolled into one, going around in his suit and tie, but with his beanie and fingerless gloves still on to ward off the chill of the under-heated office. Apollo was fairly certain now that bunnies were providing more warmth than the radiator, and he had taken to wearing his scarf indoors.

"You already passed it once," Apollo said, and did not add "miraculously" to that statement, though he thought it pretty hard. "What are you so worked up about?"

"I already ordered a new sign for the door, that's what," Phoenix said, reloading again. The site was sluggish to load, probably due to the strain of about a thousand other aspiring lawyers doing the same thing. "Wright & Justice, Attorneys at Law. Pretty nice, huh?" He flashed Apollo a nervous grin, and Apollo had to admit, it did sound pretty nice. Going from photocopying dossiers and making coffee for Kristoph Gavin to junior attorney in his own firm and all in the space of a year, it wasn't half bad.

Apollo yelped as a bunny took a flying leap across his desk, scattering papers. Startled, the bunny took out the collapsible table as he fled, finally hopping into Apollo's suitcase, where he settled down to chew off the few buttons remaining on Apollo's shirts. Apollo sighed. Not half bad, even if the firm was this one.

"Besides," Phoenix said, groping blindly for his coffee mug, gaze fixated on the computer screen, "a lot can change in seven years." Trucy bustled by with a hat full of rabbits, and Phoenix followed her with his eyes, something about his expression going soft and a little bit sad.

Trucy was oblivious to the nostalgia of her adoptive father, flopping down on the dilapidated leather sofa and turning on the TV. "Hey, Polly! Did you know your boyfriend is on TV?"

"He is not my boyfriend," Apollo retorted, but he knew it was a lost cause. When Trucy made up her mind, that was the end of that. And Klavier was on TV, for the solo Christmas Eve concert that had been taking up all his time (not that Apollo cared or noticed, not at all) for the past month. The stage set up in front of the downtown ice rink was decked out with magenta Christmas trees and silver chains instead of tinsel; even going solo, Klavier Gavin knew better than to dump a marketing scheme that worked. The cheering of the audience momentarily drowned out anything he was saying; he must have just finished a song.

Apollo stuck his nose in the nearest file, and pretended it was something that had to be memorized immediately. It happened to be the folder full of takeout menus, so the effect was somewhat lost.

"Danke, Danke," Klavier was saying, on the TV. "Frohe Weihnachten! Or Merry Christmas, ja?"

"He's sooo cute," Trucy sighed.

"You're too young to think boys are cute," Phoenix said, and then looked around the room in the hopes of someone agreeing with him. "Aren't you?"

Apollo just shoved his nose deeper in the file, but eyed the TV over the top of the papers. Klavier was making a big show out of scanning the audience, one hand to his forehead as though he was an explorer on a mountaintop. Diva, Apollo thought.

"Ach, it would seem there is someone missing from the crowd today! I have a friend, you know, he works too hard. On Christmas Eve, even!" Klavier displayed his (magenta) cell phone to the crowd. From the screams, someone would think he'd just unzipped his pants, instead. "Maybe we should give him a call, ja?"

"Don't you dare--" Apollo started, forgetting he wasn't supposed to be watching. It was too late, as the room was shredded with the sound of the Gramarye troupe theme.

"Sorry," Trucy said, without a trace of apology. "I changed your ring tone, Polly. I mean, who has a phone anymore that just beeps and buzzes?"

Apollo yanked his phone open. "I cannot believe you are doing this," he snapped, into the receiver.

"Guten tag, Herr Forehead!" Klavier said, on the TV and in Apollo's ear. "So cranky! Let me guess, you need a song to cheer you up. What do you all think? Should we sing him a song, ja?" The tinny screaming of the audience buzzed in Apollo's ear, echoed in stereo by the TV.

"Klavier," Apollo began, in impotent warning. The Prosecutor and Rock God had already hooked his phone back onto his belt. A guitar riff came up from under his hand and he hummed a few notes under his breath, ones that only Apollo could hear, sighed into the clip-on earpiece of Klavier's phone. It made tiny hairs stand up on the back of Apollo's neck.

"I just want to say," Klavier began, but being Klavier, it came out more like, I chust vant to say.

"No," Apollo said. "I'm hanging up--"

"Merry Christmas, baby!"

The backup band exploded into full swing, the crowd exploded into cheers, and Apollo exploded into a small knot of annoyance and hung up the phone.

But Trucy left the TV on, and Apollo didn't stop her.

By three-thirty Apollo had given up any semblance of trying to work. The office window was already dark with snowfall and the early onset of night. There wasn't really room in the office for a Christmas tree (or money to buy one, either), but Charley the plant had been decked out with blinking lights and chains of paperclips, which winked and glimmered in the dim corner. In spite of its makeshift nature, there was an impressive pile of packages under its humble boughs. They had been arriving all week from all over, with some of the visible labels bearing holiday greetings from famous paranormal photographers and Global Studios and something called De Masque Consulting. A large box of gourmet chocolates from a prosecutor's office in Germany sat on the office desk, a few of them dented by a fingerprint as Phoenix had tried to dodge the coconut ones.

Trucy had whipped up an enormous batch of the famous Wonder Bar eggnog, and for Apollo the biggest wonder of all was how Trucy managed to get all the ingredients for it, being patently underage. It did wonders for Phoenix's nerves, since it was now only two hours from the Moment of Truth and he was lying sprawled across the couch in a festive stupor, a pink streak across his face.

"Pearly will be up tomorrow," Trucy said, tidying the bunnies under the plant. "And Diego and Maya, and Detective Gumshoe and Maggey, and Uncle Larry will probably turn up, and Daddy said Uncle Valant is bringing a guest." She glanced at the door, as she had been doing now several times over the hour.

"You expecting somebody, Truce?" Apollo was using binder clips to hang tinfoil stars and bells made of empty pudding cups from Charley's branches.

"What?" Trucy startled. "Oh, no! Well, not really." She stole a glance at Phoenix, who was dozing lightly on the sofa. "I was just hoping Uncle E would be here already."

"Uncle E?" Apollo repeated. Trucy tended to stick avuncular titles on anyone who would sit still for them long enough, including a few women (Uncle Franny, for example), but Uncle E was a new one.

"Maybe his flight's late?" Trucy muttered to herself, replacing a bunny that flatly refused to stay in his beribboned hutch. Apollo thought it would help if Trucy would shut the door. She shook herself back into a brightness that was a little forced. "Prosecutor Gavin's concert was over hours ago, wasn't it? Is he coming over?"

"I think Klavier has nicer places to go than this for Christmas," Apollo muttered. He caught his fingertip in one of the binder clips and swore.

"I think this place is nice," Trucy said, softly. In the treelight she looked sweet and pretty, her eyes full of childlike wonder.

Apollo stepped back to look at his handiwork, the potted tree rustling with blinky lights and the ornaments Trucy had carefully painted and glittered a week before. "Yeah," he sighed. "Me too, Truce. But I don't know if Klavier would agree. Anyway." He pulled up a smile to match Trucy's fragile one. "How about we make some cookies to go with that nog, huh?"

But after that, Trucy wasn't the only one watching the door.

At four forty-five, the internet went out. Phoenix was not so inebriated that he would shrug off the server timeout screen showing in place of the impending Bar results, and while Trucy and Apollo managed to get some cookie dough onto the pans and not just in their own mouths, Phoenix sat on hold with a service tech in Upper East Darjeeling who barely spoke any English. He had shed his beanie out of pure frustration and the extra warmth from the kitchenette oven, and his hair stuck out at odd angles. Odder than usual, at least.

"Poor daddy," Trucy said, making a vague worried motion with her potholders. "Nothing's ever easy for him, and Christmas is worse."

"Seems like there's a lot of expectation on it all," Apollo said, peering in the oven door. The chocolate chip cookies were still glistening lumps of batter. "But it's not like you ask for any presents or anything, Truce."

"Oh, I don't need presents!" Trucy's eyebrows drew up. "For one thing, I have lots of uncles. I always get surprises. And Uncle E always sends me something really nice from Europe or Japan. But this year I just asked him for-- well." she glanced at the clock, and not for the cookie timing. "I just--"

"WHEN. YOU. FIX. INTERNET?" Phoenix shouted into the phone, with accompanying hand gestures that were sadly invisible to the tech on the other end of the line. A pity, Apollo thought, since the throttling one was especially effective. "I know it's an older model. That still doesn't-- Ye--No. That's no reason--fine. Tuesday. Yeah, whatever." Apollo and Trucy stuck their heads around the kitchenette door to see if Phoenix was going to need CPR, but eventually he just hung up the phone and sank back into the chair, his head in his hands.

"Daddy?" Trucy tiptoed around bunnies to touch Phoenix's shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"Sorry, Trucy," Phoenix scrubbed a hand over his face. "I'm sorry everything we've got is broken and old and secondhand." He offered her up a too-bright smile. "Even your dad."

Trucy flung her arms around his neck, potholders and all. "You're the only daddy I've got," she said, sniffly. "And I wouldn't pick a different one."

"I still wish I could get you nice things for Christmas, Kiddo." Phoenix hugged his daughter back, and Apollo went back in the kitchen to check on the cookies. He was just chiseling them off the pan ("ungreased, my ass," he muttered) when there was a knock on the office door and a commotion of surprise and greeting and unfamiliar voices.

Apollo stepped out of the kitchenette, oven-mitts still on his hands, and what to his wondering eyes should appear but the King of Prosecutors Miles Edgeworth, standing in the middle of the office with his arms full of Phoenix and Trucy and packages and possibly one or two rabbits as well. This, then, was Trucy's “Uncle E.“ The single most amazing prosecutor in the history of modern law. Apollo stepped back a little into the kitchen, not willing to be noticed just yet.

"Have you started up a farm supply, Wright?" Edgeworth said, depositing his load of luggage and boxes on one of the chairs. Even dumbfounded, it did not escape Apollo's notice that most of the parcels were brightly-wrapped. "What's with the rabbits?"

"They're Uncle Valant's present," Trucy explained, pulling them out of Edgeworth's coat with a conjurer's nonchalance. "His all got old and died, so I got him some more. There's plenty if you want one, Uncle E!" She held one up.

"I think I'll pass," Edgeworth said, eyeing the bunny. "But from the looks of it, I doubt Valant will be short on bunnies anytime in the future."

"It's the gift that keeps on giving," Phoenix said, but there was something about his expression and tone of voice that made Apollo want to look the other way. "Damn, Edgeworth. It's good to see you. I thought you weren't due back in town until February?"

"I was convinced to change my plans," Edgeworth said, exchanging a look with Trucy, who grinned. "By special Christmas request. But I thought you'd be glued to the computer screen." He glanced at his watch, which by Apollo's estimate probably cost as much as a month's rent on the office. "Aren't the results due in soon?"

Phoenix's cheerful expression looked a little fixed. "Internet's broken again." He shoved his hands in his suit pockets, a habit left over from years of wearing a hoodie. "I'll have to wait until the results are mailed next week."

"Will you now?" Edgeworth seemed unconcerned. "Then I suppose I should go ahead and give you your present a day early." He pulled one small package out of his coat pocket, and passed it to the man Apollo had always thought was his greatest rival. Standing in the kitchen, spatula in hand, Apollo looked at the way their hands touched and wondered if 'rival' was simply a word to stand in for something else less easily defined.

"I hardly need any fancy cufflinks yet, you know," Phoenix said, undoing the ribbon. "I don't even know if I'm gonna--" Phoenix's voice broke as the lid came off the small gift box, and something small and gold glinted in the light of Charley's blinking lights. "Miles."

"I made a few stops on my way over," Edgeworth said, shedding his coat and looking quite pleased with himself. "I've plenty of friends down at the Bar Association, and I called in a few favors. I thought you'd rather hand-delivery than getting it in the mail."

Phoenix had slumped back against his bookshelf, one hand over his eyes, tiny gold pin clenched in his palm.

"What is it?" Trucy asked, leaning on the top of the reception desk. "What is it, Daddy?"

"My attorney's badge," Phoenix said, opening his hand to show her. "It's even the same number."

"I am nothing if not precise," Edgeworth said, and removed a bunny from the ribboned basket of pears he had brought.

Apollo scrubbed his eyes on the back of the oven mitt.

"Well?" Edgeworth said. "Are you going to put it on that suit, or am I going to have to do it for you, Wright?"

Even from across the room, Apollo could tell Phoenix's hands were shaking. But they were steady enough to secure the pin on his lapel, and then he and Edgeworth were caught up in a kiss that made Trucy cheer and Apollo really have to go check on the cookies right that very minute. Even though they were burnt black on the bottoms and stuck to the pan even worse than the first batch, Apollo couldn't help grinning. He had just heaped the least charred ones onto a paper plate and was bringing them out when there was another knock at the door. Apollo's stammered introduction to the most imposing prosecutor in the world ("Always been a great admirer of your body--of um, work.") was cut short by the arrival of a Rock God Prosecutor, presents and champagne in tow.

"I have heard this was where the party was, and I am not mistaken! Herr Edgeworth, himself!" Klavier heaped a delighted Trucy's arms full of limited edition CDs and what looked like a ball-joint doll in a familiar purple suit, and then clasped Edgeworth by the hand. "Always an honor."

"Gavin," Edgeworth said, in reserved warmth. "I've been following your work--off the stage of course. That last case was most admirable. My compliments to your forensics expert, as well."

"Ach, that one, she does not compliment, but I will try. Maybe if I say it comes from you I will not be pelted with snack products."

"You know," Apollo said, putting down his plate of cookies, indignant. "You could call before just appearing and expecting me to be free--"

Klavier looked wounded. "I did call! Fraulein, did I not call?"

Trucy stopped her happy investigation of the 1/4th scale Klavier's working guitar (it played a tiny recording of Guilty Love). "He did call, Apollo."

"Yes, but--" Apollo looked for backup, and found none. Phoenix and Edgeworth were sharing a quiet glance full of several layers of meaning, and Edgeworth put a hand over his mouth to cover his smile.

"Were we that bad?" Phoenix muttered.

"Worse," Edgeworth said.

"Eat a damn cookie, Gavin," Apollo said, thrusting the plate out. "And shut up."

"Ach, always I say dessert first." Klavier took a bite of the proffered cookie. "Mit walnuts, even! Sublime."

"We didn't have a whole bag of chocolate chips," Trucy said, taking three, herself. "So we padded it out."

"But I am thinking, maybe it is time for dinner?" Klavier flung one arm around Trucy's shoulders and the other around Apollo's, who no longer had the heart to protest. "Maybe I have already made reservations. The best sushi in the whole city, I know. Nothing says Christmas like all you can eat fatty tuna, ja?"

"I'll go get our coats!" Trucy said, and headed for the coat closet, dodging bunnies as she went. For a moment It was only the four of them in the foyer of Wright and Justice law offices, Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmases yet to be. None of them could quite manage to look at the others, there was so much unsaid. Klavier's silver-ringed hand had somehow gotten tangled up with Apollo's, and Apollo did not let go.

"Let's go!" Trucy sang, reappearing with an armful of coats and scarves and gloves, not all of them matching. "I want eel donburi! And tofu miso! and Chocolate green-tea mochi!"

"And because you have been good, you should have them," Klavier said, holding out her coat for her. "You too, Herr Edgeworth. I would hear about the cases you have been working on in England."

"Don't worry," Phoenix reached for his beanie and then paused, taking instead the wool felt fedora that Trucy had dredged up out of the closet. It had a blue band, and made him look a little bit like a gangster. Apollo didn't miss the way he ran his thumb over his badge before buttoning up his overcoat. "I'm not going to let him out of my sight."

They were outside in the snow a moment later, but it was not until they piled into cabs to go to the restaurant that Klavier leaned in to Apollo and said, "Your present will be coming later, Apollo. But I really have to ask--" He glanced at Trucy, who was drawing snow-fairies on the fogged up cab window. "Has no one told the fraulein that the bunnies, they are for Easter, not Christmas?"

Apollo could only laugh, leaning back against Klavier's shoulder as the cab sped off through the sparkling winter night, his heart full of something that might almost have been love. He would have to open it, Christmas morning, to find out for sure. But for now he was content to weigh it, and wonder, as the world turned slowly towards dawn.


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