Turnabout Lawful Love

The Twilight Zone

The Borscht Bowl Club, April 17, 2019 11:00 p.m.

“Hey, are you alright, Pal?” Gumshoe prodded, putting a concerned hand on Phoenix’s shoulder. Several minutes had passed since the defense attorney had been given the proverbial card from Edgeworth, and he hadn’t spoken a word ever since. He just sat there, elbows up on the table, with his head down and buried in his hands.

“I know it appeared that desperate times called for desperate measures, but I think you might have overly shocked him with that last piece of evidence, Edgy” Larry noted, eyeing his old friend worriedly. “I’m sure it was never your intention to break him, though!”

Phoenix at last looked up. “Shut up, Larry! I am not broken!”

“Oh look, It speaks!” Although Edgeworth was attempting flippancy, he looked visibly relieved that Phoenix was at least now talking, despite the bleak expression on his face. “It’s a miracle!”

“You shut up too, Edgeworth,” Phoenix grumbled. “Unless you can help me think of a solution to this ginormous mess which is my love life!”

“Which you didn’t even know you had until ten minutes ago,” Larry offered helpfully.

“Normally I’d tell Butz to put a sock in it,” Edgeworth sighed. “But for once, he’s right, Wright. I realize that while all of this has been blatantly obvious to the rest of us for some time, it all seems sudden to you. Do you know yet how you wish to proceed? What are your intentions with Miss Fey?”

“Good grief, Edgeworth, you sound like a Mafia father-in-law!” Phoenix exclaimed. “Is this the point where I’m supposed to tell you, Don Corleone, that I plan on making her an offer she can’t refuse?”

Gumshoe looked startled. “You’re gonna ask her to marry you, Pal? Shouldn’t you wait to see if she’s willing to go out with you first?”

“Of course not! I was being facetious!” Phoenix looked at the detective in exasperation. “How am I supposed to decide what I’m going to do when, forget dating or marrying me, I’m not even sure Maya will ever even speak to me again?”

Nobody was able to think of an encouraging reply to the question, not even Edgeworth, who normally had an answer for everything.

“I’ve really blown it, haven’t I?” Phoenix realized sadly. “I finally realize that my feelings have been reciprocated all this time, only to have it be too late. She hates me now. I’ve lost Maya for good.”

For the second time that night, Franziska was subjected to a wide-eyed jaw drop by Maya, who was once again rendered speechless at the proclamation she’d just heard.

Phoenix loves me?” She repeated, astonished. “Whatever made you come to that conclusion? How can you make such a profound statement to me, out of the blue like that? And you claim you have evidence? Surely he’s not told you, of all people?”

“He hasn’t needed to,” Franziska informed her loftily. “There’s a reason why they say actions speak louder than words, Maya Fey. As much as you’ve been ready to crucify that fool for never voicing anything even remotely affectionate to you tonight, or ever, the rest of us have been privy to see several examples of a man so desperately in love with you he’s nearly been driven to madness!”

You’re the mad one,” Maya whispered, although without much conviction. Oh what she would give to be wrong about this!

“Let me start with the first time you returned back to your village, several years ago and were gone for nearly half a year. Do you know that Phoenix Wright, who barely ever has two nickels to rub together, fell into such a state of melancholy that he didn’t take a case for months on end? He had made a name for himself at this point. Yet he turned down any and all work, uncaring of his dreary financial state, for two months, up until the day Ema Skye came to him and begged him to defend her older sister Lana. Then, and only then, did he set foot again in the courtroom against Miles.”

“Ema Skye?” Maya echoed, more baffled than ever. “Who is she? How exactly is you telling me that another woman convinced Nick to take her case any sort of proof that he loves me?”

“Phoenix Wright was in such a state of despondency in your absence, Maya Fey, that he wasn’t even able to resume his lawyer duties until he was persuaded and cajoled to do so by a young forensic student who, according to my fiancé, acted and looked very much like you!”

“That’s quite a claim,” Maya said skeptically. “Although very hard to believe. I mean, Mia and I were sisters and she didn’t even look much like me! It’s just too hard to fathom that some alleged carbon copy of me was the reason he decided to be her defense attorney!”

“OK, scoff if you will, but I still have more evidence. Let us now take you to the Matt Engarde case. As you know, Shelly De Killer was holding you hostage in order for his client to go free and would only release you if Phoenix got Engarde a not guilty verdict.”

“I remember that. I also remember writing in what I thought was an expressly clear note that I’d left for Nick to find that I didn’t want him to doanything at all to make that guilty as sin bastard go free. Obviously, he acquiesced, since Engarde is now behind bars where he belongs! He didobey my wishes?” Maya pressed, noticing the other woman was now clutching the sleeves of her dress and not looking her in the eye. “Didn’t he?”

Franziska still wouldn’t meet her eyes, and Maya’s voice rose a notch. “Answer me, please!”

“Phoenix Wright is above all things, a man of the law. Prior to that he had never even come close to doing anything unethical or of questionable judgment. But for you, he was willing to do whatever it took to ensure you were returned safely to him. Maya, he moved heaven and earth trying to get Engarde declared not guilty. He even tried to make another person take the fall in order to do so…”

What?!” Maya shrieked, looking aghast. “No, he couldn’t have! He wouldn’t! I told him I’d never forgive him! I can’t believe that someone as principled as Nick would bend the law for me, and against my better wishes, yet!”

“Don’t be angry with him for that, Maya. That man loved you so much that he would have fought with the Devil himself to ensure your safety. Luckily, it never came to that. But he did throw his morals and ethics out the window and tried to drag out that trial as long as possible, trying to win a not guilty verdict. Ultimately, I was the one who finally arrived with the decisive evidence that showed undisputable proof of Engarde’s guilt. Then Phoenix allowed Miles to steamroller ahead with the prosecution, with no objections, and got that bastard incarcerated. So ultimately, no, he didn’t get Engarde to walk free, hence, he didn’t betray your trust. To this day, that is the only case Phoenix Wright ever lost. And believe you me, he was happier than a clam about it.”

Maya’s mind was reeling as she absorbed all of this. “He never told me,” she whispered dazedly.

“There’s one final piece of evidence I would like to present on behalf of that fool for love,” Franziska declared. “You were off the scene for the most part, but you are aware of events that occurred at Hazakurain temple, right? You knew that lightning struck that high suspension bridge that stretched over that rushing river and it caught fire?”

Maya nodded and she pressed on.

“What you didn’t know is that the damn foolish man, blind to everything but your possible safety, disregarded himself entirely, and rushed across said fiery bridge, because he knew you were trapped on the other side. Even though he knew his chances of survival were slim to none!”

Maya stared at her in disbelief.

“Please tell me you’re joking! Nick ran across a burning bridge? He barely made it across when it wasn’t on fire! The man is deathly afraid of heights!”

“The man,” Franziska said firmly. “Loves you so much he literally risked his life for you. And he almost died for his foolish heroics. The bridge fell apart and he plunged right into the hazardous river waters, below. He almost caught pneumonia and was in the hospital!”

“Oh my God! Nick!” Maya moaned, burying her head in her hands.

Suddenly her head jerked up.

“Wait a minute! This is even harder to buy than the other two bogus tales you just told me. That bridge is at least what, 80 feet high! And that raging river has all those treacherous rocks below. Surely the impact alone would have killed him?”

“What can I say, Maya Fey? The truth is stranger than fiction, is it not? The man has more lives than a cat, it would appear. Besides, Phoenixes are known to always rise from the ashes, aren’t they?”

“I don’t believe he did that for me,” Maya murmured, almost to herself.

Then she had a terrible thought.

“In fact, neither should you. You seem to have forgotten that Iris was also thought to be trapped on the other side as well! How do you know Phoenix wasn’t risking life and limb to save her, his precious ex-girlfriend instead?”

Franziska looked at her as if she were crazy. “Are you really this foolish, daft or just willingly blind, Maya Fey?”

“None of the above. It’s just that I flat out don’t believe any of this! I’m already having a hard time wrapping my head around this newfound goodwill you have chosen to bestow upon me, in the name of love for Mr. Edgeworth.” Maya looked doubtfully at the prosecutor. “But let’s just say I do choose to suspend my disbelief about the sincerity behind your actions. Nevertheless, this so-called evidence you’ve presented me with as proof of Nick’s love is just too bizarre for me to fathom! And this coming from me, a lady who literally sees, and channels, dead people!”

“Why in the world would I make this up you fool! As I’ve previously professed, I barely abide Phoenix Wright, and only do so for Miles’ sake, but most definitely am not desirous to do him any untoward favors! And while I hold no ill-will for you, I’m surely not foolish enough to render us sudden best friends because of this bathroom rendezvous! I’m telling you all of this because as a prosecutor, my first and foremost duty is to deliver the truth!”

Maya smiled at the uncharacteristically passionate outburst.

“Yes, actions speak louder than words, but they are also easily misinterpreted. It’s not that I think you’re lying,” she said kindly. “I just don’t believe your interpretation of these events mean what you want me to believe. Except for your claim that Nick took a case just because some girl reminded him of me! That I flat out don’t believe, period! The concept was just… too absurd!”

At that moment, the door to the ladies room opened. A pretty young woman, about their age, walked in and flashed a friendly smile upon seeing Franziska. Having just ducked into a stall to procure some more toilet paper, Maya missed the entrance, but listened to the exchange outside as she dabbed at the smudged areas of her eye makeup.

“Miss Von Karma!” A strange yet somehow familiar voice chirped, as bubbly as a bottle of soda water. “How nice to see you! How’ve you been?”

“Well, this is quite the surprise,” Franziska said pleasantly. “I’m doing quite well, thank you. What brings you here? I thought you were doing your forensic science studies in Europe when I last saw you.”

“It’s spring break right now. We are actually here celebrating my sister’s bachelorette party!”

Maya exited the stall. She stepped in front of the mirror, so engrossed in the task of trying to preserve what little makeup she hadn’t sobbed off that she still hadn’t looked up to see who Franziska was so amicably chatting with.

“How nice! I had no idea that Lana had gotten engaged!”

Lana? As in Lana Skye? That would mean that…this was her sister?

The new ladies room arrival stepped next to Maya in front of the sink, just as Maya finally looked up into the mirror and at last caught her first sight of who was apparently her aforementioned look-alike, Ema Skye.

At first Maya was certain she was so drunk she was surely seeing double…how else to explain the near mirror image of herself reflected back at her, standing next to her in the mirror?

This was Ema Skye?

Maya shook her head and blinked a few times as she took in the other woman’s appearance.

Same height and stature, although largely obscured by a white lab coat. Huge, bright, inquisitive eyes, eerily similar to her dark ones, except teal in color. Porcelain skin on a small, heart-shaped face with diminutive doll-like features, much like to her own. What really got her was the hair. Although the brunette’s hair was a slightly lighter shade than Maya’s, the other girl had it pulled back partially at the crown, round pink sunglasses resting atop it, with wispy tendrils at the sides and long bangs pushed to the side…in exactly the same hairstyle Maya herself had worn (minus the beads) for the past three years!

Maya’s silent, stunned gaze met Franziska’s amused one in the mirror. The words I told you so didn’t need to be spoken whatsoever, so clearly were they evident from the knowing smirk on the German woman’s lips.

This was all just too much. All of a sudden it really was a ‘the truth is stranger than fiction’ world she was in! One where Phoenix Wright was apparently a death-defying superhero, Franziska Von Karma was actually virtuous, and doppelgangers truly existed? Maya’s head was officially spinning now, from more than just mere alcohol consumption.

God help me!I think I have officially entered the Twilight Zone…

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