Absence

May. 8th, 2014 10:43 pm
madra_liath: (Godot)
[personal profile] madra_liath
Summary: Gumshoe is killed in the line of duty, and Edgeworth walls off his grief, unable to deal. Written for the Phoenix Wright Kink Meme.

***

It never got any easier.

No matter how often people asked the question.

“So, you hear from Detective Gumshoe lately?”

Maya looked at him expectantly, just as eager to catch up with him as she was with Wright. A bright smile on her face, her hands clasped in front of her.

And he never knew what to say.

“I… I haven’t worked with him for some time.”

Not a lie. Not the whole truth, but not a lie.

“Oh.” Maya shrugged. “Guess I’ll have to track him down myself,” and oh god, he didn’t know how to tell her.

“Uh, Maya…” Mercifully, Wright stepped in, tugging gently on the sleeve of her robe. “…how about I fill you in on everyone over burgers, huh?”

“Sounds great! You’re coming too, right Mr. Edgeworth?”

“I’m… afraid I have another engagement.” The words were thick and clumsy in his mouth. “Another time, perhaps.” He turned on his heel and walked away. Rude; brusque; cowardly; but he couldn’t, he couldn’t sit in some greasy fast food restaurant and relive that day, couldn’t bear to see the look Maya would give him, the same look Wright had given him at the funeral.

xxx

Whenever someone asked, it reminded him of the awful night he’d had Pess put to sleep. He’d spent the best part of the following week explaining what had happened to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the Prosecutors’ Office and Criminal Affairs Department who asked after his dog. Miles hated himself for making such a comparison – a man was not a dog, no matter how loyal and unselfish he was. And yet in the same way that people he considered no more than acquaintances knew he’d had a dog he loved like a baby, so many people he barely knew assumed there was some bond between him and Gumshoe. They whispered when he walked by, and shot him pitying looks when they thought he wasn’t watching.

To call it irritating was an understatement.

xxx

The Bureau of Internal Investigations crawled up everyone’ s rear end to ferret out the truth after it happened, and to see if there was anyone they could hang out to dry. Miles received the news that he was to be interrogated with a wry smile. Typical Gumshoe, causing trouble even in death, and his smile evaporated, because what sort of miserable excuse for a human being could even think such a thing?

The facts of the case were simple. Detective Dick Gumshoe, in direct defiance of the team commander, crossed the SWAT cordon without a vest, went to the twelfth floor and entered the High Prosecutor’s Office to confront an armed suspect who had taken a civilian hostage. He suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and was pronounced dead at County General an hour later. Detective Gumshoe’s reckless actions placed the hostage’s life in danger. The Bureau didn’t quite come out and say that it was his own damn fault he died, but they came close. The Chief Detective got a six week unpaid vacation for taking a swing at one of the investigators. The rest of the Criminal Affairs Department were of a similar mindset – Dick Gumshoe was a hero, leaping into action while the college-boy negotiator stood around talking.

Miles felt like he should agree with them, but he didn’t.

xxx

He’d had occasion to be at the Criminal Affairs Department not long after it had happened, dropping off paperwork or picking it up – he couldn’t remember – and Missile was there. The usually exuberant police dog was lying in front of a desk, his head on his paws. He started as Miles approached, rising up on his elbows, ears cocked and tail waving as he sniffed the air. Then he drooped and lay back down, gazing at Miles with huge, sad eyes the way that only dogs could.

“Yeah,” a nearby officer murmured. “Whenever someone walks in wearing a long coat, he thinks it’s Dick.”

Miles understood. The swish of a trenchcoat; a door opened or closed too roughly; a shadow falling across him at crime scenes; loud, booming male laughter. So strange how such trivial things could make him turn around, expecting to see –

…Oh.

xxx


His thoughts kept turning to the why of it all. The evidence was there, the what and the who and the how, but the motive was missing. Had Gumshoe blamed himself for allowing Mr. Edgeworth to be taken hostage? Had he had custody of the suspect and let her escape? Was it his weapon that she’d taken? Or had he merely felt he had to do something because –

And had Gumshoe even thought things through before storming the building single-handedly? Did he even consider the possibility that the suspect would simply shoot her hostage as soon as she heard the door opening behind her? Or had he learned enough over his years as a police officer – been far more observant, in fact, than Miles had ever given him credit for – to know that she would turn instinctively towards the sound, allowing her hostage to get down and give the snipers a clear shot?

Had he steeled himself to shoot her first? Had he wavered at the last second?

Why hadn’t he worn a vest?

xxx

The funeral was a lavish affair. One of their own had gone out in a blaze of glory, and the city police department spared no expense – horse-drawn hearse, guard of honour, the church filled with flowers. He should have offered to pay for the flowers. He should have done something.

Wright was there, hovering at the back, as befitted a defence attorney and a disgraced one at that. Lana Skye, Jake Marshall and Tyrell Badd were there, each discreetly shackled to a plain clothes officer. Angel Starr was there – Miles later learned she had catered the wake and the lunch after the funeral. All of them gave him that look…except Starr, who glowered, flipped her hair, and then moved over so he could slide into the pew beside her.

He had been asked to take part in the eulogy, and had declined. It was just as well. Halfway through the Chief Detective’s speech about how Gumshoe often put his life and job on the line in the name of truth and justice, even though he didn’t make a lot of money, Miles suddenly found his eyes stinging and his chest getting tight. A large, warm hand came to rest on his shoulder, squeezing gently – Badd, reaching over Starr.

He had barely stepped out into the warm sunshine when he found himself abruptly tackled by Ms. Byrde. A better, less emotionally stunted man would have been able to make the right gestures and say the right words to comfort her, but he could only stutter and stand there stiffly as she buried her face in his chest and sobbed.

He didn’t realise until much later that she’d expected him to cry with her.

Why all this sympathy for him? Why did so many people – even Franziska, who had offered gruffly to delay her return to Germany for a few days, if he wished – assume that he was grief-stricken? He wasn’t Gumshoe’s friend. He was his boss. His arrogant, tyrannical boss. A man who could not accept imperfection in himself, and so punished it severely in his subordinates. A man who didn’t deserve the warm, unwavering, uncomplicated friendship of his faithful detective. Why had Gumshoe stayed with him through the dressings-down and salary cuts? Why had he given his friendship to one who had never earned it?

xxx

Ironically, when the sound of the door opening disturbed him from his paperwork, he assumed it was Gumshoe. The cutting remark that popped into his head died in his throat when he looked up and saw the gun pointing at him.

His assailant was a tall, dark-haired woman sporting a black eye-patch. She wore a suit – he couldn’t even remember the colour now. She frowned at him in confusion, and for a few seconds all they did was stare at each other. If he’d been a little more alert when she first came in, perhaps he could have taken advantage of her hesitation and escaped, or disarmed her. As it was, he was tensing his legs to move when her gaze hardened, and the opportunity was lost.

“All right, you’ll do,” she murmured. “Stand up, pretty boy.”

Miles did as he was told, slowly raising his hands. His captor gestured with the pistol. “Thaaat’s it. Little to your right.”

He shuffled over as directed, noting that he was now standing dead centre in front of the window.

They stared at each other for a few minutes. Miles wondered if the police knew what was happening. He scrutinised his attacker carefully, but she looked utterly unfamiliar. There were certainly elements of the criminal community who would be happy to do away with him, but her behaviour so far made him feel certain he wasn’t her intended target. He wet his lips, wondering if perhaps he could talk his way out of this.

“Miles Edgeworth, at your service. May I help you?”

“Shut up.”

“May I at least have the pleasure of knowing who is currently holding me hostage?”

There was a click as the woman readied the gun.

Miles swallowed. “I see.”

The desk phone rang.

“Put it on speaker.”

The woman’s tone was low and measured. Not the mark of someone who was running on adrenaline and desperation. Miles wondered if she was a hardened criminal, a professional assassin, or just so past giving a damn that nothing could rattle her. He reached down with one hand and hit the speaker button.

A police negotiator came on the line, assuring the woman that all they wanted was to talk while at the same time letting her know that the building was surrounded. The woman didn’t respond until the negotiator said,

“He’s not the one you want, is he?”

The woman directed a savage glare at Miles, presumably for having the temerity to not be her intended target, before returning to her former steely-eyed calm. “No. I wanted the blond. The one who looks just like my shitbag lawyer. I want both of them here now.”

“…That’s gonna take time.”

“Bull. One’s here in the building, the other’s four blocks away. Get them here in ten minutes or I shoot Mr. Frills.” She gestured at the phone with her free hand. “Hang up.”

Miles did as he was told.

“Now.” The woman shot him a brief smirk. “Let’s see what happens.”

Miles gazed back at her as he weighed up his options. Standing in front of the window, he was blocking the line of sight for any snipers deployed on the buildings across the street. He could take a chance and duck. She might miss. She might not. He was now certain that the woman had not thought this through. She’d been coming from court, which was why she was dressed up. She’d escaped her police escorts, which was why the police response was so rapid. She’d run in here on a whim to look for the person who’d prosecuted her, and had ended up in the wrong office. Now she was willing to trade one hostage for two, leaving her outnumbered and at risk of being overpowered. All of which added up to someone who, despite her cool exterior, was unhinged enough to shoot him dead if he tried anything. All he could do was wait for an opportunity to present itself.

He never even heard Gumshoe approaching.

The woman spun around as soon as the door opened, and Miles threw himself on the floor behind his desk and laced his hands on the back of his neck.

The first shot was quickly followed by a hail of gunfire. Miles scooted under his desk to escape the shower of broken glass from the window. He lay there in silence for a few moments once it was all over, before daring to peek around the corner of the desk. The woman was sprawled face-down on the floor in a spreading pool of blood. And Gumshoe was lying in the doorway, one hand clinging to the doorframe, the other pressed against his ribcage.

For a few minutes Miles could only stare. A gentle, warm summer breeze wafted through the office, the silence broken by the sound of the detective’s laboured breathing. It was the audible huhn accompanying each intake of breath that finally spurred him to move, scrambling on his hands and knees over blood and broken glass to the detective’s side. Blood was seeping through Gumshoe’s fingers. Miles didn’t even try to pull Gumshoe’s hand away to see the damage. It was bad. The detective’s face was ashen. He looked at Miles, then at the wound, then at Miles again. He looked surprised, as though he couldn’t believe it had happened.

In a movie, or a TV show, they would’ve bantered gently – perhaps Miles threatening a pay cut if Gumshoe were so incompetent as to die while on duty; perhaps, with a threat of tears, berating him gently for being so reckless. He would at least have been able to lie to Gumshoe that he was going to be fine, the paramedics were on their way. Instead he just stared wordlessly, unable even to bring himself to touch the other man.

He actually saw the moment when Gumshoe couldn’t see him anymore, the look of panic that came over his face as his eyes shut down. A few seconds later, his chest hitched one final time, then stilled.

It was only then that Miles managed a choked whisper of “Don’t go.”

xxx


Maya was getting up from the grave when he approached.

“Oh, hey.” She’d been crying, but she mustered a smile for him. Out of nowhere, Miles felt a pang of envy. “Sorry. If I’d known this was your time to visit –”

“Actually –” Miles coughed, feeling his face going red. “ – I haven’t been here since the funeral.”

He did his best not to squirm under her look of surprise.

“…Oh.” Maya stepped back – recoiling, perhaps, from his callousness – and moved a few feet away.

Miles gazed down at the headstone. The last time he’d come here, the grave was open, the coffin sitting on top waiting to be lowered down. There was a piper. There were so many flowers. The bouquet he’d brought with him today seemed pathetically inadequate by comparison. Nonetheless, he knelt and placed it gently on the grave.

He’d seen Gumshoe that morning. He’d been short with him – an open-and-shut case had turned out to be far more complicated, and he’d fallen behind on his paperwork. As usual, the detective was a distraction, an irritant, and Miles had let him know it in no uncertain terms. Little had he known that in just a few hours, Gumshoe would never bother him again.

His vision blurred and he grasped his sleeve tightly, trying to gather himself. Maya’s small hand came to rest on his back, her touch making things simultaneously better and worse.

“You know, a lot of people come to Kurain, looking for closure,” she murmured. “Wanting to say goodbye, wanting to know if their loved ones are in a good place…”

His throat was tight, and he had to force the words out, making his tone harsher than he intended. “Miss Fey, if your intention is to - to summon Gumshoe so that I can –”

“No,” Maya interrupted gently. “I just meant that it’s okay for you to miss him. You guys worked together for a long time.”

He didn’t dare look at her.

“Although,” Maya murmured, “if you did want to…”

Miles shook his head emphatically.

“I’d…like to be alone now,” he managed.

He felt the warmth of Maya’s hand leave his back, and heard the crunch of gravel as she walked away, leaving him staring at the unyielding marble atop the grave.

The time to tell Gumshoe for four years, you were the only person I could call a friend was when he was alive. It was no use now. Miles could only hope that Gumshoe had seen what so many others had; that he had known what Mr. Edgeworth didn’t say, and had understood why he couldn’t say it.
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Cyberwulf

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