The Midnight Rider (sabinelagrande) wrote in ficcommentary,
The Midnight Rider
sabinelagrande
ficcommentary

COMMENTARY: "Order" from the Disclosureverse

Hello, and welcome to another stunning fic commentary!

Title: Order
The working title was Trial, but seriously, could it be more obvious?
Series: Disclosureverse
Summary: Phoenix stands trial.
I hate summaries. Does anyone actually like them?
Fandom: Gyakuten Saiban
Word Count: 2181 3619 with commentary and markup
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, AU, institutional D/s



I never have decided how to properly warn for this story. I think I stole this warning from someone else.
Pairing: Edgeworth/Phoenix
A/N: Direct sequel to "Stinger". Just a universe over from ours, sexual attraction- and society by extension- works in terms of tops vs. subs instead of male vs. female. Based on, well, quite a lot of people's AUs, see "Disclosure" for full credits. Some dialogue taken from Apollo Justice case 4. I had really long author's notes here, but then I decided just to do commentary instead. PS: I apologize for Klavier in advance. I promise I'll make it up to him later.
And I will. He's a good guy, promise!


"I call this session of the State Bar Ethics Council to order," the chairman announced. "Please be seated."
I actually did research about the State Bar of California for this story (I know, right?). Then, I promptly threw it all out and made something up that worked better. It's Phoenix goddamned Wright. Also, the California Bar uses their own judges when considering ethics violations, and I didn't want to have to explain the whole system just so that people wouldn't ask where Udgey is.

There was a general shuffling as the council seated itself. "We are here to hear charges against bar member Phoenix Wright. Who represents the bar in this issue?"

"I do, Mister Chair," said Winston Payne, standing, his voice unabashedly smug.
Payne, however, gets to stay.

"Who represents the member in question?"

Phoenix took a deep breath, pulling himself to his feet. "I do, Mister Chair."

"You have been advised that you are entitled to counsel?"

"I have."

"And you have decided to act pro se?"

"I have, Mister Chair." Acting for himself. He was doing a lot of that lately.
Originally, this section stopped here, and the first flashback was of Phoenix coming home to Edgeworth after the poker game with Zak.

This brings up an important point, actually- I usually don't plan my fics very rigidly. I just sort of write and use whatever comes. However, for this fic, I really wanted it to slot tightly into canon. I think it helps emphasize how coin-flip our verse and this verse are, as well as making this verse seem less bizarre. This fic also has a more complicated structure- I've used it before, but it still requires advance planning. So, to that end, I wrote out an outline that looked like this:


Phoenix on trial
-Coming home to Miles
Trial openings
-Set up 7 years ago
-Trucy and the evidence
More set up
-Miles's order
The trial: forged evidence
-Presenting the evidence/coming out
The trial: Kristoph's statement
-Losing – realizing
The trial: Disclosure
-Leaving Miles
The defence?
"I don't have a top."
The verdict

And I looked at it, and I looked at it, and the more I looked at it, the more it just didn't flow right. So I started thinking to myself, "Self, how would you do this if you didn't have to use a linear storyline?" The beauty of following canon closely is that everybody knows what's going to happen- so I kept the present day story linear, but moved the other stuff around. Eventually, it looked like this:

Phoenix on trial
Trial openings
-Setting up the trial
More set up
-Trucy and the evidence
-End on Miles's order
The trial: forged evidence
Breaking the disclosure act
-Presenting the evidence
-Goaded into it
Phoenix's statement
End "I don't have a top"
-Leaving Miles
Kristoph's statement
-Talking it out with Kristoph
-End on Zak coming in
The verdict

which has a much more natural flow to it. In the process, the section with Miles and Phoenix in bed got cut, which was kind of a shame. This works better, though.

"Would the bar like to make an opening statement?"

"Of course, your honor."

--

Miles had come with him to court. It felt a little silly to him how good that made him feel- like he was going off to his first day of school instead of defending in a murder trial. It felt somehow safer with Miles there- that was such a weird, obvious thing to be thinking about his own top. Of course it did. That was the point, right? Right.
Phoenix and Miles have a really ridiculously screwed up relationship, and I don't know if I've done a good enough job of presenting that yet. I wrote a good portion of the next to last chapter of their arc while I wrote this, so this is almost sort of a foreshadowing. I don't really want to say more, as it will give the ending away.

The top in question had wandered off to talk to Gumshoe- he'd promised that he hadn't gone to put the fear of god in him, though it didn't look that way from Gumshoe's face- so he turned his attention back to the trial. He wasn't ready, but then, when was he ever? He'd certainly beaten stranger cases than this with less preparation. It was something of a habit, really.

Phoenix was full of that tingly, tight feeling he always had before a trial- almost completely out of control, but almost totally sure he could handle it. It was going to be a good day.

"Oh, old boy?" a voice came from behind him.
This is not exactly how it happens in the game. I really stressed about that- I needed to tweak little things in the timeline so that the fic would have a more logical flow, but I hate being imprecise. Eventually I just decided that it was better to be fuzzy than to write a sub-par fic. Also, it's an AU, and I should really just relax.

--

Payne had shut up, which was nice. He hadn't said anything Phoenix hadn't been expecting to hear. He also spent an inordinate amount of time adjusting his cuffs; Phoenix very nearly laughed out loud at that.
See Disclosure.

Just one more touch to make this farce that much more absurd. Now there was nothing to do but watch him construct his case, and try not to care that there weren't any holes in it.

--

"What's that?" Miles said, reading over his shoulder, during recess.
Again with the messed up timelines.

"I can use this," Phoenix said excitedly, reading it over and over again. "This is what's going to break this case wide open!"

"That's outstanding," he responded, his words lacking conviction. Phoenix looked up to see him standing there with crossed arms, tapping a finger against his bicep. "Where did it come from?"
How do you describe that sprite, anyway?

"Uh." Phoenix scratched the back of his neck and tried his best not to look sheepish. "A little girl in a cape gave it to me."
This is usually good enough for Phoenix. You know, whatever. Evidence just comes, man.

Miles's left eyebrow shot up so far it was in danger of disappearing into his hairline. "What?"

"A little girl gave it to me," he repeated, trying to sound more confident than he was. "My client's daughter. She said someone gave it to her."

"I know you've had a great deal of success in the past with unorthodox methods," Miles said, pressing on his temples, "but did you actually hear what you just said?"

"I need to use this," Phoenix told him, voice firm. "This is what I need to defend my client."

"At what cost, Wright?" Miles asked, his words mordant and cool.
There was supposed to be more to this line, but I couldn't think of anything else for him to say. Also, how much do I love the word mordant?

"I'm doing this," he replied, stepping past Miles and towards the courtroom door.

"Phoenix," he snapped, and Phoenix turned back to him, straightening visibly. "For your own sake, I order you not to present that evidence."

Phoenix swallowed hard, feeling like he'd suddenly taken a punch to the stomach. "Then I won't," he answered finally, his voice strained.
Again- really screwed up relationship. Miles is finally acting like a top "should" act in this verse, and Phoenix is… Phoenix is weird.

Miles relaxed visibly. "Phoenix, I-" he started, but Phoenix just walked away.

--

"On the date in question, Phoenix Wright presented evidence that has now been revealed to be false. I'd like to present these," Payne said, handing around a stack of papers. "Unfortunately, our source refuses to appear before the board, but we have sworn affidavits from Prosecutor Klavier Gavin, the Judge from the trial in question, and an independent expert on forgery. Our forgery expert has also produced a detailed analysis of the evidence in question."

"How did Wright acquire the forgery?" the Chair asked.

"We assume he paid for it," he replied, "but it's not material, since Mr. Wright is the one who presented it."
Notice the difference between the this line and the line before it. Payne screwed up here. This is something I started doing in "Still Standing"- titles like Mr. and Ms. are only applied to tops. Payne has indexed Wright as being further up the chain of command, as it were, than himself.

…Yes I was studying queer linguistics at school this week, why do you ask?


"There are two charges before the Council," one of the senior board members pointed out. "This evidence only pertains to one of them."

"Oh yes," Payne said, with obvious relish. "That."
Winston Payne is a dick.

--

The new kid- Klavier or Clavicle or whatever it was-
I almost spelled it Klavical, but I wondered if people would think I just didn't know how to spell.

was explaining how he'd just sewn the case up. The diary was perfect evidence, obviously. What a flawless victory for him. Phoenix was sure his mother would be so proud.
In my defense, Phoenix is an uncharacteristically catty bitch to Klavical in their first trial.

"Well, how do you like me now, Herr Wright?" he said with a smirk. "Still too 'green' for your tastes? Hmm?"
This is where lines from the game start. I considered deleting "Herr" here, but Klavier's still keeping up appearances at this point.

It was all very stupid. The ripped page was staring him in the face- it was impossible that Klavier wasn't seeing it too- but Phoenix was going to let it keep right on staring.

"Well, Mr. Wright?" the judge asked. "The witness's testimony we heard was lacking, but put together with this evidence, it seems quite sufficient for a case."

Phoenix realized that he had been digging his nails into his desk. He was suddenly very glad that Miles was sitting behind him rather than in his line of sight. "I have nothing to present, your honor," he said through clenched teeth.

He almost didn't catch the way Klavier looked up into the crowd for a moment before speaking.
I haven't decided if this is going to come back up. He's looking at Kristoph, obviously, who is sitting next to Miles. They're gonna have a catfight eventually.

"Objection!" he half-shouted, bringing his eyes back down to Phoenix. "Are you sure about that, Herr Wright? Withholding evidence is a serious offense. Wouldn't want you to be too hasty, ja?"

Phoenix stared at him, gobsmacked. "I- I'm not withholding evidence," he lied.

"Your honor," Klavier said smugly, turning to the judge, "I have reason to believe that Herr Wright is keeping vital evidence from this court. I demand he present it, or suffer the consequences."
It's only because the court is severely distracted that Phoenix escapes charges for withholding evidence, too. Manfred Von Karma never would have stood for this type of shit.

Klavier smiled- or showed his teeth, anyway. "Or would you feel better if I called your top down here to demand it?"

Phoenix's hand went instinctively to his collar. He realized about thirty seconds too late that it was just about the worst response he possibly could have had. The courtroom exploded in a frenzy of whispering- how could that prosecutor and serves him right and told you, pay up
You know Vegas would be in on this shit.

all blended together into one steady buzz his ears. Oh, this was bad, this was very bad, there were some things you just didn't do-
It's called enlightened self-interest. Klavier only knows he can get away with this because Phoenix has nothing at all on him. I picture the court system in this world working on basically a massive gentlemen's agreement- they all know they're equally screwed if anybody starts bringing it up.

Klavier smirked. "I'm sure that we could get Herr-"

"OBJECTION!" Phoenix shouted.
I debated typesetting here for the longest time. I think just all caps works, though.

It was loud enough to startle Klavier and most of the crowd into silence. Phoenix swallowed, hard, trying to calm his frantically beating heart. "I didn't believe that this evidence was relevant, your honor," he said quickly- an obvious lie, but no one was paying attention, "but I'm left with no choice but to present evidence."

"Finally," Klavier replied, savoring the word, and Phoenix knew he was a dead man.
I went through like four iterations of this line. I don't like any of them.

--

"Would the member in question care to make his opening arguments?" the chair asked.

Phoenix managed to ignore the pounding in his head long enough to stand up. "I have listened to Prosecutor Payne's arguments, and I have no further comments. I will abide by the board's decision. Thank you."

There was a generalized furor in the room. "Quiet!" the chair shouted- it didn't have quite the same force as a gavel, but the din did die down somewhat. "Am I correct in assuming that you do not intend to mount a defense against these charges?"
lol u said mount

"Yes," he said, his voice not wavering.

One of the older board members made a sound of annoyance. "This is ridiculous. This sub is clearly not fit to make his own decisions. Where is your top? " he demanded of Phoenix.
Yeah, this is a little heavy handed, but I was making a point. I see this verse as far, far more oppressive than ours. It's freeing, on the one hand, because there's so much more purely sexual freedom, but I think they're still waiting for a revolution.

He knew exactly what he was supposed to say and exactly what would happen when he said it. He was supposed to throw himself upon the mercies of the court- he was just a sub, wasn't he? Everybody knew they couldn't handle high pressure, so it's not like they could really blame him. Obviously it was his top's failure. Phoenix would get off with lashes- public and humiliating- but it'd make him feel better, being exactly what a very large part of him knew he deserved.
I seem to have crammed a lot of worldbuilding details in here around the edges.

And somewhere in this hypothetical process, someone would look at that handsome red suited top and say, "Hey, isn't that Prosecutor Edgeworth?" and he'd have to sit in this same room a month from now and watch as Edgeworth got disbarred.

Even if he did want to throw Edgeworth under the bus, wasn't it all moot now anyway?
"To throw [someone] under the bus" is like my favorite phrase right now. It's right up there with "to drink the kool-aid."

He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, showing nothing but a pale band of skin. For good measure, he rolled up his cuffs as well- nothing hiding there either.

"I don't have a top," he said flatly. Now you see it, now you don't, he added, bitterly, to himself.
Oh, Phoenix. He's going to snap and go clocktower on these people.

--

He didn't actually remember how he got home from the courthouse. There had been flashbulbs going off and microphones in his face as Gumshoe and the bailiff got him through the crowd, and after that it was all a bit fuzzy.

He sat in the living room, blankly staring at the television. They were talking about him. He supposed that was to be expected.

"I'm sorry," Edgeworth said, from somewhere behind him.

He had screwed up. Edgeworth had screwed up. It was a pretty screwed up day, honestly.
I like the understatement of this line, because I think it really matches Phoenix's mental state.

He fumbled for the clasp on his collar, wondering why he couldn't make his fingers stop trembling. He'd never opened it before- it wasn't really meant for him to open.
Again with the worldbuilding.

"Phoenix," Edgeworth said quietly, the pleading in his voice doing unpleasant things to his stomach.

The fucking thing finally gave, the collar sliding down his neck. It felt so strange when he lifted it away, the slightly too cool air of the room brushing his neck.
Cause that would be hella weird, wouldn't it? He hasn't been without it for like six months at this point.

He left it on the coffee table when he went to pack his things.

I originally wrote this section from Miles's point of view, before I settled on telling most of it in flashback. I insert it here, unedited, because it's a really nice bit of writing that I no longer have a use for.

Phoenix's shirt hung limply open, his collar in plain view underneath.

Edgeworth stood awkwardly in the doorway opposite him. "I'm sorry," was all he could think to say, but no matter how he repeated it, he knew it wasn't enough.

Phoenix reached for his neck, unfastening the collar without difficulty- that alone told Edgeworth he'd thought this through.

When Phoenix placed it in his palm, Edgeworth felt as if it would sear his flesh, marking him forever.

Before the week was out, Miles Edgeworth was on a plane to Europe. It would be seven years before he saw Phoenix wright again.


Would've been a very different fic, wouldn't it?

--

They'd had to take a five minute recess after that, all of which Phoenix spent locked in the bathroom willing himself to calm down.
Look at that, he had an emotion!

He resisted the urge to flee into traffic, slipping back into his seat right on time.

"The junior member of the Ethics Board has volunteered to speak on the member in question's behalf," the chair announced when they reconvened. He pointedly ignored Phoenix's attempts to protest- he didn't even know who the junior member of the Ethics Board was, for god's sake.
I can't remember if it's canon or fanon or just something I made up in my brain that Kristoph was the only person who voted against his disbarment.

Looking as unruffled as ever, Kristoph stood up to address the council- and if he'd thought about it a little harder, he'd have seen that one coming. He relaxed into his seat.

"Distinguished board members, I address you not in my legal capacity," he paused, pushing his glasses up his nose, "but in my capacity as a friend. In my years of knowing Phoenix Wright, I have never known him as anything but a dedicated lawyer, a kind friend, and a generous confidant."
This line is meant to sound just a little off. Kristoph is a clever bastard.

And then, suddenly, horribly, he got it.

Kristoph smiled at him.

--

"Look, I'm sorry about all this. I don't know why I'm down here, honestly."
I'm not sure how I feel about having just one dialogue only section. I think it works.

"Clients make strange demands. It's part of the job, isn't it?"

"I just don't want you to think I'm trying to steal him out from under you."

"Forget about it. You seem so tense."

"I think my- my roommate is upset at me."

"I see."

"I don't want him to be disappointed in me."

"I can imagine that disappointing Herr- your roommate would be quite stressful for you."
I now think of Phoenix addressing Edgeworth as Herr My Roommate in the manner of The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend. It was actually an accident that Klavier's lines echoed (as I wrote this bit before that one) Kristoph so well.

"Exactly."
Poor Phoenix. His love life is totally screwed, and he can't talk to anybody but Maya about it. And when he finally manages to open up just a little, it's to a murderous dick.

"Don't worry, Phoenix. I'm sure this meeting will be over shortly, and then you can go home and clean your house, as it were."

"I hope so."

"Ah, here's Mr. Enigmar now. I'll get out of your way. Good luck."

"Thanks, Kristoph, for-"

"It's nothing. Enjoy your game, gentlemen."
Now, read this section again knowing that Kristoph and Zak have already played poker and Kristoph has already lost the case.

Yeah, that's what I thought.


--

They sent him outside while the board discussed the verdict. Payne stood down the hall from him; every so often, Phoenix would catch him looking his way nervously. It occurred to him that picking him for this case had probably been a message from the board- and for a moment, Phoenix almost felt sorry for the man.

But that was what was bugging him. He didn't really feel sorry, he didn't really feel angry- he didn't feel anything other than the tension headache he'd had ever since he left Edgeworth's house- that and tired, oh so tired.

The doors to the boardroom swung open. Payne practically ran in, taking his chair before Phoenix could even start walking. It didn't matter- he was in no hurry.
Oh, Winston.

He already knew what they were going to say.
It's really nice working in a pre-set timeline, because I didn't need to bring this story to a real close. Everybody knows what happens next, so I can write purely for impact rather than for plot.

But anyway, that's Order. I cannot express to you the level to which this verse has crawled into my brain and refuses to leave ever again. I just hope other people are getting half as much enjoyment out of reading it as I am out of writing it. See you next time!
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