Title: The Correct Way
Spoilers: PW/GS 1 & 2 canon
Summary: Never once had he offered Wright a plea bargain, and there was no way he was going to accept let's just be friends.
Note: The MA version (3000 words longer) is available on my dA account at darthmaligna (dot) deviantart (dot) com.
Wright had known it was coming, really, both in a broad and a more immediate sense. On a general note, nobody was perfect. Phoenix had made a name for himself – well, a bit of a name, anyway – proving that of other people in court, so of course he never expected to be perfect himself. And on this case in particular, somewhere between the security tape and the bag of bloody clothes, he'd begun to suspect that maybe this client had actually done it after all.
It didn't make it any easier, however, when after the second hour of the third and final day of the proceedings the gavel was brought down and nobody – not even the particularly outspoken and painfully flippant defendant – yelled objection.
Phoenix felt that word. Every letter was another slam in the gut. G-U-I-L-T-Y. Phoenix physically cringed, running his hands through his hair and adamantly not looking up at the person across the room. Admittedly, it was better to have Miles Edgeworth smirking at him from the prosecutor's table than anyone else, but at this juncture he'd really rather have not had anyone smirking at him at all.
His client caught him by the sleeve as he started for the defendant's lobby. He looked nothing like a man who was about to be taken back into custody pending trial by a higher court. Twenty-two years old, cinnamon skin and explosively red hair – he was utterly gorgeous, impeccably dressed in a quirky white suit, and grinning like a maniac.
"Hey, no hard feelings, Orville," he said cheerily. Phoenix decided that now was not the time for the umpteenth repetition of his real first name. He just looked up silently at his client. His guilty client who was leaning so far out of the defendant's box he looked like he might tumble out of it completely at any moment. "You were awesome," his client continued. "You and that other law-talkin' guy, you were like clash of the fuckin' titans, really ace, man!"
Phoenix wondered, not for the first time on this case, if they might have been better off trying a plea of not guilty by reason of stupidity. "We lost, Mr. Prasad," he said flatly.
"Yeah, I know!" his client continued, enthusiasm unabated. "I think next time…" He leaned even farther over the edge of the box, drawing Phoenix a little closer so that he could speak directly into his ear. "Next time I'm gonna just go with justified self-defense. Honesty might be the best policy after all, y'know?"
The urge to slam his head into the nearest available wall bubbled up in Phoenix, but he quashed it. "What?"
"Hey, I had to try for acquittal, eh?" his client informed him happily as he was pulled back into his box by the bailiff to be handcuffed. "If you aim for the moon, you're sure to end up among the stars, y'know."
Or in prison, Phoenix thought wryly as he sighed and exited the courtroom.
Miles Edgeworth was nothing if not meticulous. He was impeccably organized in everything he did, and he planned for the long terms of his life with perfect objective reasoning. His present and future were both flawlessly arranged, and if one had been able to look into his mind one probably would have found his memories organized in neat, well-kempt and clearly labeled filing cabinets, cross-indexed by time, theme, and relative importance. Miles liked things like goals, deadlines, and concrete plans, and when the unexpected but unavoidable cropped up, he was an expert at working those things into a more manageable schema.
When he realized that he wanted Phoenix Wright, he was in court. Not the sexiest environment possible, but definitely where he saw the most of the defense attorney, so it was rather unsurprising. There was nothing special about the day it hit him; Wright just pointed at him and yelled objection for about the hundredth time in their career together, and Miles looked at him down the length of his arm and thought to himself, I want to be with this man. I need to be with him. And then he let out a smug laugh, insulted Wright's intelligence with a cleverly stressed syllable, and pulled out another piece of evidence.
It was as simple as that, really. It had been building up to this for some time, and once Miles realized that he had to acknowledge it, he made a decision before court was even adjourned that day. He put a policy into place for himself, and it was as such: when he finally won a case against Wright, really properly won one without kidnapping or other extenuating circumstances and whether it be in a day, a month, a year… he would ask the attorney out. Or, as Miles put it to himself when he was staring at Wright across the courthouse lobby and contemplating dragging him into the records room and having his way with him, when Wright gets fucked by me in court, he'll get fucked by me out of court.
The policy worked on several levels. Not only did it give Miles something to work towards, a tangible incentive to do what he'd always done anyway, but he knew that when Wright eventually did lose a case, it would put the two of them on more even footing. And, Miles added, Wright in an emotionally vulnerable state.
Miles quietly slid out of the courtroom as soon as his victory was announced, making his way to the defendant's lobby. He instantly recognized Phoenix's assistant sitting on a bench there, going through papers that were presumably for another upcoming case and waiting for her boss to return from court. She glanced up, eyes widening as she realized that it wasn't Phoenix who'd entered the room.
"Ms. Fey, you have the rest of the day off," Miles said coolly, walking over and stopping a few feet in front of her.
"Wait, what? Mr. Edgeworth, shouldn't you be in court?" Maya asked, glancing past him to see if anyone else had entered the room. They hadn't.
"The trial just ended," Miles explained. "I won."
Maya seemed like she were about to argue with that for a second, but looked up at Edgeworth and went slightly pale. "Oh, no…" She pushed her papers to the side and sprang up, looking like she were about to bolt for the door, but Miles stopped her short with a hand on her arm.
"I'm taking Wright to dinner," Edgeworth stated matter-of-factly, as though this were a meticulously-arranged engagement rather than something that hadn't even been cursorily mentioned to the other party involved. "You can take the rest of the afternoon." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a polished silver money clip, peeling off a couple of bills with a practiced flick of two fingers and slipping them into Maya's hand. "Since I'm putting you out of the rest of your pay for today," he explained.
She stared down at the money for a second, then back up at Edgeworth. "Mr. Edgeworth, what are you talking about?"
Miles pursed his lips and rolled his eyes slightly. "Wright does pay you, doesn't he?" he asked dryly. Privately he almost suspected that both Wright and his assistant worked pro-bono and gave any money that their steadily increasing number of clients happened to throw at them to the World Wildlife Fund or something. At least it would explain the way Phoenix dressed.
"I don't… You're taking Nick out to dinner?" Maya said, looking like she were having a little trouble wrapping her brain around the concept, obviously now quite distracted from the fact that the other half of her little legal-slash-investigative team had just lost his first trial.
"Yes," Miles replied, resisting the urge to add on that they'd just been over that.
Maya paused for a second and then shook her head. "You're really serious? Does Nick know about this? Where are you going? What time is he gonna be back?"
Miles sighed lightly before replying, "Yes, no, Hana Yori, and he's not."
It took Maya a few seconds filled only by her blank stare before she managed to put responses to inquiries, then she gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. "Mr. Edgeworth, I should've known!"
"Should have known what?" came a voice from behind them. Miles turned and Maya ducked around him to see Phoenix standing there looking utterly… well, even defeated wasn't quite the right word. He looked resigned, and a little confused at finding Maya and Edgeworth commiserating in the defendant's lobby three minutes after the end of a trial.
"Oh, Nick!" Maya exclaimed, rushing over and looking up into his face as though inspecting his visage for any signs of permanent emotional damage from the ordeal he'd just been through. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Phoenix replied. "I just wish he'd told me it was justified self-defense before the trial instead of after." He glanced up at Edgeworth and gave him a half-smile. "Good work in there."
Miles coughed lightly and offered a small nod, his eyes darting over to Maya, who jumped a bit.
"Oh, right, I have to go, Nick!" she exclaimed, going back to the couch and picking up her stack of notebooks and files. "I'll see you tomorr—" She cut herself off. "Give me a call if you need me tomorrow," she corrected.
Phoenix opened his mouth to question this, but Maya was already headed rapidly for the door with a sly smile and a cheerful wave. Edgeworth crossed his arms in front of him and reminded himself not to smirk as Wright turned and blinked at him.
"I don't suppose you have any idea what that was about," the defense attorney said.
"We're going to dinner," Edgeworth replied, as though that answered the question – which it kind of did, after all, in a third person omniscient sort of way. He crossed his arms and rocked back on his heels slightly as Phoenix nodded momentarily and then blinked and shook his head.
"Wait, Edgeworth… what?"
"I beat you," Miles explained. "And now I'm taking you out. Is there any part of this you don't understand?"
Phoenix looked as though there were plenty of things about this he didn't understand, but he settled on simply, "Why?"
Miles allowed himself a small smirk. "Because I can. And because you're going to let me."
"I never said I was going to let you," Wright insisted, furrowing his eyebrows half-heartedly.
"Let's go, Wright," Edgeworth said, sticking the hand that wasn't holding his briefcase in one pocket and heading for the door. "I haven't eaten since last night, and I'm starving."
Phoenix hesitated for a moment, looking as though he were seriously considering staying in an empty lobby alone just to prove that he never said he was going to let Miles take him out to eat. Finally he just rolled his eyes slightly and followed, giving Edgeworth a strange look as the prosecutor held the door for him. "Fine, but you're paying," he grumbled.
Thirty minutes and one rather quiet and awkward car ride (in the squeaky, practically factory-wrapped leather passenger seat of Edgeworth's flashy, immaculate car that purred like a kitten and probably couldn't have turned more heads had it been wrapped around a telephone pole) later, Phoenix found himself sitting in what must have been the nicest Japanese restaurant in the city. He tapped his chopsticks against his plate after ordering, contemplating the fact that here he was sitting cross-legged on the floor next to a stand of bamboo and an honest-to-god actual in-ground koi pond, and yet the only thing he could look at was Edgeworth's neck.
He'd never seen Edgeworth's neck before, or at least he hadn't since before the two of them had hit puberty, but his longtime rival (and occasional client and possible friend?) had removed his cravat before entering the restaurant. The strip of skin exposed by the two undone buttons at the top of Edgeworth's shirt was well more fascinating to Phoenix than it should have been, he told himself, even if he'd been carrying a slow-burning, well-hidden torch for the other man since Miles's stint as one of his clients.
"Contrary to popular belief, my head does not fall off if I remove it," Edgeworth said, his voice all amusement laced with a hint of something that Phoenix, if he'd been more attentive and a bit quicker on the uptake, could have identified as flirtatiousness.
Well, shit, he noticed. Nice one, Phoenix told himself, immediately snapping his gaze up to meet Edgeworth's eyes like any sane, not-sexually-frustrated person would have been doing from the start. Of course, doing so brought a whole new slew of inconvenient thoughts. Why is he looking at me like that? Why did he bring me here to look at me like that? Is this a date
That was a ridiculous thought, Phoenix told himself straight off. People were asked on dates, not kidnapped for them. Moreover, Miles Edgeworth did not take Phoenix Wright on dates. Magenta suits and cravats did not go on dates with blue suits and pink ties. They didn't match.
Edgeworth spoke again after a moment. "You did well on this case," he said, taking a sip of some expensive, unfamiliar alcohol he'd ordered them.
Phoenix had a single stray lock of hair falling into his eyes, and he blew it out of the way only to have it come back with a vengeance a few seconds later. "I haven't forgotten that I lost yet," he mumbled, still fidgeting with the chopsticks. "Try telling me that again in six months and maybe then I'll be distracted enough to believe you."
"You dragged the trial out to the maximum limit," Edgeworth pointed out. "I would've had any other attorney begging for a plea bargain before the trial even began."
"I'm not any other attorney, though," Phoenix said after a moment out of sheer stubbornness.
"Thankfully," Edgeworth commented. What was that supposed to mean? "Besides, your client did do it, didn't he? Even you must have realized that by the end."
"It was justified self-defense," Phoenix insisted, though he was feeling himself start to relax and step back from the issue a bit despite himself.
"But he still did it," was the response. "We did our job, Wright. I fought against him and you fought for him and in the end the truth came out. The trial today went exactly the same as every other trial we've ever done, didn't it"
Phoenix's mouth closed into a thin line and he glanced over at the fish in the pond as though silently asking them for some kind of moral support. "I guess so."
"That's the way this system is supposed to work, Wright," Edgeworth said, leaning forward on the table, his grey hair falling to frame his face. "You and I are the way this system is supposed to work."
Phoenix glanced up and blinked. This evening just kept getting weirder and weirder – it wasn't that Edgeworth was being honest and intelligent; it was that he was talking at all. Actually keeping a conversation going. What was going on with him today? "You're right," he admitted; of course Edgeworth was right. "But it still sucks breaking a winning streak."
"Yes, but how do you think I feel?" Edgeworth asked, sitting back and taking another sip of his drink. "You're the only defense attorney in this district who I know can do their job properly, and half the fun is taken out of it by the fact that walking into a trial against you is like walking to the gallows." Another sip and he added, "Having the rope snap today should make things more interesting again."
Edgeworth's thinly-veiled compliment made Phoenix smile, and he wouldn't have been surprised if his face went a little pink as well. He put the chopsticks down in an attempt to stop his nervous fidgeting, but soon he found himself jiggling his foot against the tatami mat instead. "I know I can't expect to always end up with innocent clients," he said. "It was easier before I started taking enough cases to actually pay the bills. Gotta sacrifice some quality for quantity, I guess…"
"But only the quality of your clients," Edgeworth stipulated.
Conversation came much easier for the rest of the meal. It even moved from professional matters to personal ones, helped along by the alcohol that Edgeworth had procured and which he eventually goaded Phoenix into partaking of. "I'm driving, Wright," he pointed out. "I can't drink any more and I don't want this to go to waste."
It didn't go to waste. Phoenix was tipsy enough by the time they left the restaurant that he didn't think twice about striking up a conversation about the weapons logistics of the Steel Samurai on the car ride home, a topic that Edgeworth was surprisingly capable of arguing. He likewise didn't think twice about the fact that Edgeworth didn't have to ask for directions to his apartment despite the fact that the other man had never been there.
Miles debated whether it would have been more expedient to his cause had he just brought Phoenix back to his own place, but he thought maybe that was a little too forward, and the girl who walked Pesu was supposed to dropping by fairly shortly. Besides which he was curious to see where the other man lived in person and not just on paper, even if in his experience Wright was as likely to be found sleeping on the sofa in his office as he was to actually go home at night.
He wondered if Wright had gotten the hint yet. He'd taken him out, he hadn't talked much business, he'd even laughed and smiled and acted casual, and now he had taken the extra time to find a legal parking spot in front of his building. To really drive the point home, he put the car in park and took his foot off the brake, sitting back and looking over at the other man half-expectantly.
Phoenix looked oblivious, as always. He was staring at the side mirror and seemed to be lost in thought about something, chewing absently on his lower lip. Miles stared at that for a long moment before tearing his eyes away; the mannerism was making him tense in more than one way. Finally, just as Miles was about to ask if Wright was going to get out of his car, Phoenix said, "Do you want coffee?"
Miles already had his mouth open to say something else, so the only response his brain could scrape together in a suitable amount of time was, "Coffee?" But he still made it sound casual.
Wright turned and gave him that stupid, goofy grin – the same one he always got in court when even he didn't know what sort of miraculous save he was going to pull out of thin air just yet. "Or tea, you know," he added quickly. "You bought me dinner, so I figure at least I can make you coffee." He kind of gestured toward his apartment block and then turned that into some sort of weird, edgy wave of his hand before just putting the appendage back in his lap and staring at nothing in particular.
Edgeworth smirked. "Why not?"
With anyone else, Miles would have considered his chickens pretty well hatched and been counting them along with the floors that went by on the elevator up to Phoenix's apartment. With Wright, though, it was more than likely that when he said coffee he meant coffee and had no idea that coffee had any other possible connotations. Well, Miles thought, I'll just have to show him what those are.
Phoenix's apartment, Edgeworth was surprised to find, reminded him a lot of his own. Not that the décor was anything even remotely similar, but both residences had the same distinct feel of not really having been lived in. Edgeworth's apartment was kept practically sterile by the cleaning lady, and Phoenix's simply looked like nobody had taken the time to do much of anything in it. There was mail stacked up on the living room table, a jacket draped over a chair, but no dishes near the sink, no books left propped open on the couch, hardly any variety in the fridge when Phoenix opened it to get the coffee grounds out.
"Oh, you take tea, don't you?" Phoenix asked, pausing and looking down at the bag before setting it on the counter and opening one of the cabinets to dig through it.
"Actually, I'm fine with neither," Miles responded. He took off his jacket and folded it in half, neatly draping it over the back of one of the kitchen chairs. Phoenix turned to raise a questioning eyebrow at him as he leaned against the counter next to the defense attorney, but his expression faltered as he got a good look at his companion. He looked as though Edgeworth's vest and shirtsleeves might as well have been a fishnet shrug.
"Why'd you come up here, then?" Phoenix asked, swallowing heavily.
"There's something else I want here," Edgeworth said lightly and without missing a beat, which earned a blank look edged with nerves from Phoenix. He's so damned simple, there's no way he's going to pick up on that, he thought, and he decided to make it painfully obvious. He reached over and slid two fingers under the neck of Phoenix's tie, wrapping the rest of his hand around the knot and yanking him forward. At the same time he slid his other hand around Wright's back between his shirt and jacket, and their bodies were pressed together pretty well by the time their lips met.
Truth be told, Miles wanted to drag Phoenix to his bedroom, throw him down, and ravish him mercilessly. But he had too much of a sense of propriety for that. Miles had never thought very highly of just giving in to any whim that took one's fancy just because it seemed like a good idea. In this case a very good idea, the best of ideas. But Edgeworth was not going to give into impulse, so he held back and kept the kiss to under ten seconds, which he figured was about as much as he could ask of himself.
When he pulled away and let go of Phoenix's lower lip, the dark-haired man's eyes slid open slowly and focused on Miles's features just as belatedly, obviously thanks to the fact that he was still slightly inebriated. His face was flushed well beyond what it should have been from that kiss alone, and he blinked as though trying to clear his thoughts. "Why did you do that?" he asked at last.
Miles had to work not to roll his eyes, and he had to work even harder not to start tearing Phoenix's clothes off as he did so. It would have been so much easier just to show him... "Because I'm trying to seduce you," he said, partially out of an inborn bluntness and partially because the main effect alcohol seemed to have on Phoenix Wright was to make him even thicker than usual.
Once again, Phoenix had to blink a few times as though his eyelids were the only thing keeping blood flowing through the rest of his head. "Oh," he said at last.
"I have been all afternoon. I should have guessed that you wouldn't notice," Edgeworth muttered.
Wright had the courtesy to look slightly sheepish at that. "Well, it's kind of sudden. You didn't show any interest in me yesterday, and now all of a sudden today…"
Edgeworth cut in, "The operative word there is show, Wright. I picked a time to show you what I want, and now I'm doing it. You haven't shown me how you feel about me. I still don't know how you do because all you've done so far is act like you don't understand anything I've said or done in the past few hours."
"You're right," Phoenix said. "I'm sorry. I should be more honest." He grinned, apparently totally innocent but with a distinct underlying layer of deviousness. Wright wasn't an obvious drunk, but it was pretty apparent that he was under a fair amount of influence; Edgeworth was sure that the other man never would have given him that look while sober.
"I suppose that honesty is generally the best policy," Edgeworth admitted, vaguely wishing that Phoenix would just hurry up and kiss him again or kick him out.
But Wright just leaned in closer again and said, very quietly, "Well, I've wanted you since you were my client. Honestly. But only if you honestly want me."
Edgeworth shook his head, wondering what could possibly motivate him to risk making a huge fool of himself in front of his rival if he didn't actually want him, but he didn't bother arguing the point, figuring that now was the time to show instead of tell. He grabbed Phoenix's tie once more, this time yanking it off as he pressed the defense attorney up against his kitchen counter and set himself to demonstrating, unmistakably, just how honest he could be.
Phoenix woke up feeling slightly under the weather the next morning. His head was throbbing a bit, but he still felt pretty good; he hadn't been very drunk the previous night. Definitely not drunk enough to forget any of the details.
Even if he had been drunk enough to forget the events of the previous evening, it wasn't as though there weren't reminders now. For one, the unmistakable soreness in areas of his body other than his head. Which was in turn explained by the used prophylactics in the wastepaper basket next to the bed. Prophylactics in the plural, even. If Phoenix hadn't been up to remembering that they'd gone twice, he definitely would've been reminded by that. And that same thing would have reminded him that it was Edgeworth that had had them in his pocket, because Phoenix hadn't had any reason to keep that sort of thing around in quite a while.
And then there was the fact that, as it turned out, apparently Miles Edgeworth was a cuddler. Memory still serving Phoenix correctly, he could recall that they'd been kind of loosely wrapped around each other when exhaustion had finally gotten the best of them the previous evening. But now Edgeworth was latched onto him like a child with a favourite teddy bear, and Wright couldn't help but wonder whether it was a subconscious urge or just something that the other man would probably try to pass off as one when he woke up.
Miles looked very young when he slept, Phoenix mused. And by very young, he meant that he actually appeared to be in his mid-twenties as opposed to existing in some kind of chronological limbo resulting from his actual youth clashing with his grey hair and overly-serious demeanor. Phoenix supposed that was because this was the first time he'd ever seen the prosecutor without tension written all over his features. He was probably the most anxious person Phoenix had ever met; even though he appeared perfectly calm in court, if one looked closely – or compared his usual expressions to how he appeared now – one would realize just how tightly drawn his face actually was.
This was the first time Wright had ever seen Edgeworth not looking like he had a million and one very important things that he absolutely had to concern himself with at all times. He was really quite beautiful, Phoenix thought, asleep and with his hair falling across his face. Phoenix could remember meeting dozens of people, especially Ema Skye, who fawned over Edgeworth despite hardly knowing him. If he looked like this every day, he'd probably have dozens more.
If seeing Edgeworth relaxed while asleep was weird, it was even weirder seeing him relaxed and awake. And apparently happy. It took Phoenix a moment to register when Miles's eyes opened, blinking a bit blearily at him and giving him a silly lopsided grin probably no one would have thought him capable of forming.
He hadn't had the presence of mind to consider it last night, and he'd not been awake long enough to get around to thinking on it this morning, but it really hit Phoenix with that smile just what had happened in the past day and how completely bizarre it all was. The previous evening he'd just accepted the fact that Edgeworth had suddenly and inexplicably spent an evening trying to seduce him and happily allowed him to succeed. It was only now that his brain got around to trying to comprehend the fact that Miles Edgeworth had actually spent an evening seducing him.
It wasn't that he hadn't thought Edgeworth was gay. He'd thought it so hard it was fairly well akin to knowing; that the prosecutor was gay was something that the man's acquaintances took for granted: each day the Earth would turn, the sun would rise, and Miles Edgeworth would be almost painfully homosexual. If any of those failed to happen, it would be universally considered a sign of the coming apocalypse.
Hell, it was Miles that had really seriously made Phoenix reconsider his own sexuality. He'd never been very keen on being straight anyhow; his life trying to court women had been sporadic, awkward, and not very exciting. His life trying things out with men during the time Edgeworth had been gone had been sporadic and awkward but significantly more stimulating. And of course nothing meaningful had come from any of it, but thinking about it now, at least he'd gotten some practice in.
So no, it wasn't Edgeworth's sexuality that had been unexpected. It was more the fact that Edgeworth had apparently taken a sexual interest in him. In Phoenix's mind, it didn't really add up. Miles was brilliant; Phoenix's intellect was nearly buried in scatterbrained tendencies. Miles was cool and self-assured; Phoenix was often shaken by unexpected noises like cell phones or car doors. Miles wore cuff links; Phoenix generally had to make multiple attempts at buttoning his shirt correctly.
The only thing Phoenix Wright had ever had on Miles Edgeworth was his legal record, and even that was on shaky grounds now. Not to mention he still wasn't entirely sure how he'd even ended up with that record in the first place; he generally had to conclude that it was more blind luck than his own merit. Yet now here he was with Miles seeming genuinely and unreservedly happy for the first time in Phoenix's recollection, and apparently he was the one who had caused it. Miles leaned in and kissed him and Phoenix had to accept, whether or not he could satisfactorily analyze it, that Edgeworth had wanted him last night and apparently still did now.
"Good morning, Wright," the other man murmured against Phoenix's lips. And it was a good morning. The shower, the ensuing sex, the breakfast, the Saturday morning Steel Samurai reruns. Everything was good, and that was an understatement. It was probably, all things considered, the best morning that Phoenix had ever had.
And then Miles's phone went off and he was called in to work. Phoenix was almost surprised to remember that criminals didn't usually take weekends off. Edgeworth finished tightening the laces on his shoes in the entryway and straightened up, taking his proffered jacket from Phoenix and draping it over his forearm. He looked sidelong at Phoenix, who was leaning in the kitchen doorway in his jeans watching him.
At first he looked like he didn't know quite what to say. He went to adjust his cravat automatically before apparently remembering that he'd left it in his car. Instead he just ran his fingers through his bangs and took a slight step towards Phoenix. "I want to see you again, Wright," he said rather quietly.
Phoenix quirked an eyebrow at that. He wanted to say yes; he wanted to say that Miles could see as much of him as he wanted as often as he liked, the more of him and the more frequently the better, in fact. "We've got another case coming up," was what he said instead.
"You know what I mean," Edgeworth replied. "I've got too many important things that demand my attention to waste time with meaningless sex."
It took Phoenix a moment to realize that that was a compliment rather than an insult, and when he did he blushed – rather furiously, by the feel of it. Edgeworth did have a lot of important things to worry about. He was constantly working, and apparently when he wasn't working he was getting called in to do more work. The fact that he considered seeing Phoenix important enough to make time for him… well, he'd certainly never heard of the prosecutor doing that for anyone else.
"I'll be honest," Phoenix said. "I'd love for this to be a regular thing, and I definitely don't want any of it to be meaningless."
"In that case, when can I see you again?" Edgeworth asked, stepping forward again and putting a hand on Phoenix's hip.
"I don't know," Phoenix replied. He didn't make it sound cold or hurtful. Likewise he didn't come off as sounding regretful or upset. It was just a statement of fact.
Edgeworth's eyes widened and he physically leaned back a bit, the same way he did when something unexpected happened in court. "What? But you just said—"
Phoenix shook his head. "I said I'd love for this to be a regular thing, and that's true. I can't really think of anything I want more. But it can't be right now. Something's got to change first, and then we'll see where this goes."
The look on Miles's face – confusion and barely-veiled hurt – almost made Phoenix take back his answer and give him the one they both wanted, but he dug his heels in and stood firm. "Don't stress yourself out about it. You'll get it eventually, and if you're not going anywhere then neither am I." He grinned and leaned in to kiss Edgeworth hard and fast, almost as if reminding him of incentive to figure things out more quickly. "Have a good day at work, Miles."
Maya sounded surprised when her boss called her Saturday afternoon and asked if she was up to getting some work done on the following week's case, but he promised her burgers first and she was hopping back and forth on her sandals anxiously outside the diner when Phoenix got there.
"Doing that impatient dance'll only burn calories and make you even hungrier, you know," he pointed out as he walked past her and held the door open.
She ran inside, exclaiming, "No, it won't; I couldn't be any hungrier!"
Her order seemed to stretch on into eternity; the pain in Phoenix's wallet made it seem much longer than it was, and after she had run out of breath and Phoenix had gotten hold of some coffee, he sat back and said, "Did you watch the Steel Samurai this morning?"
It had seemed like a safe topic for conversation, but Maya immediately turned it on its head and shot back, "Did you watch it with Mr. Edgeworth?"
Phoenix choked a bit and had to work at swallowing, but he managed and replied, "Why would I have done that?"
His assistant leaned forward and grinned at him, her chin perched atop her hands as she rested her elbows on the sickly green plastic table. "Come on, Nick. I want to hear how your date went. I've stuck by you thick and thin, gotten held ransom over you, made the trip from the dry-cleaners to the courthouse in under five minutes so you wouldn't have to go into a trial in your boxers… I think I deserve something for my loyalty."
"And that something is a detailed report on my personal life," Phoenix said a bit dryly.
"Of course," Maya said. "What else could I possibly ask for?"
A pay raise so that you can buy your own lunch? Phoenix mused. He took another sip of his coffee and told her, "I don't know what makes you think we discussed anything but business."
Maya rolled her eyes. "Why would Mr. Edgeworth take you to dinner to talk about business? You spend all day talking about business in court. Besides, if he wanted to discuss business, why would he have to do it without me?"
Because you'd eat him out of his monthly cravat budget. "Why would he have to do it with you?"
"Because I'm your legal aide, and he knows that I can't aid you legally unless I'm present when business is being discussed."
Now Phoenix rolled his eyes. "That's a nice theory."
"It was a date, Nick," Maya said firmly. "You don't pay people to leave you alone while you discuss business. You pay people to leave you alone while you try to get some."
How the hell did she always manage to time these things for maximum beverage failure? By the time Phoenix managed to stop coughing, he had tears in his eyes and his chest was burning. Maya looked positively gleeful. "He paid you to go away?" Phoenix croaked.
"Pretty much," she replied happily. "Technically it was for the forced time off from work, but you've never paid me nearly that much per hour. So did he get his money's worth? And don't pretend you don't know what I mean."
"I am not having this conversation with you," Phoenix said adamantly. He leaned back in the limited room of the booth and defiantly crossed his arms.
"He did!" Maya gasped, clapping her hands together.
"Maya!" Phoenix exclaimed. Judging by the burning on his cheeks, he was probably turning a very nice shade of pink.
"Don't be such a prude, Nick!" Maya told him, leaning forward even more and grinning even more diabolically. "Isn't this what you've always wanted?"
"Yeah, like… forever."
"No, I have not wanted this forever," Phoenix insisted, his voice getting quieter, higher, and faster the more embarrassed he got.
Maya smirked, obviously about to verbally corner him. Nick had gotten pretty good at talking around issues since he became a lawyer, but he didn't like to lie and Maya relished drawing things out of him in her own particular way. "So how long have you wanted him, huh?"
Phoenix winced and deflated, knowing he was never going to hear the end of this until he just gave it up. "A couple of years," he muttered.
"See? Forever," Maya said, nodding. "And how was it?"
"No way. You get no details," Phoenix said. "And don't even try to pry them out of me; they're strictly personal."
"Fine," she conceded. "No details. Was it worth the wait, though?"
Phoenix pursed his lips and glanced at the ceiling before sighing and admitting, "Yes."
This appeared to please Maya greatly. "Oh god, Nick, this is so romantic! A prosecutor and a defense attorney… like Romeo and Juliet!" She tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Except hopefully you won't have to stab yourself at the end."
A dry look. "Carrying that comparison to its logical conclusion involves you killing Detective Gumshoe shortly before that happens and then having Miles wreak bloody vengeance upon you, doesn't it?"
"So let's forget that," Maya said quickly. "So… he's your boyfriend now? A proper boyfriend that you can actually talk to me about instead of just seeing him a couple of times and never calling him back and leaving me to find the phone numbers in your old day planners?"
Phoenix ran a hand through his hair and pretended that he had known all along that Maya was aware of his pathetic excuse for a love life. Which he hadn't even remotely suspected. Very astute of her. Note to self: burn day planner. "No, actually, he's not. I told him I can't see him again right now."
Maya's jaw dropped. "But why?"
Edgeworth had never felt so utterly at a loss; this was an eventuality he had not at all planned for. The one he'd been hoping for, the one he'd thought about the most, was that the date he'd forced Phoenix on would have gone exactly like it did, followed by sex that went exactly like it did and a morning after that went exactly like it did. The difference came around eleven o'clock: in Edgeworth's ideal scenario, Wright would have gladly accepted his offer for a relationship, and his feelings for the defense attorney would have been affirmed and deepened over time and vice versa, and overall it ended sometime very far in the future when Phoenix succumbed to some surgical mask-inducing illness or Miles was shot to death by some crazed, probated lunatic he'd put in prison forty years before. Miles hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about that last part; it was just something that sprang to mind as fairly likely, and the important bit was everything that came before it.
The other eventuality, the one that he hadn't thought about as much but which he'd certainly prepared himself for, was rejection. Whether it be from Wright refusing to go anywhere with him in the first place, or going with him but only talking business, or going with him and not talking business but refusing to ever see him again afterwards, or maybe from Wright going along with things until he was put off by Miles's advances and threw him under an oncoming train. There was even the possibility that Phoenix was straight. Okay, the last bits weren't particularly likely. But the point was that Miles had still mentally steeled himself for them, and it was better to be safe than sorry.
What Edgeworth had not prepared for was a scenario that hadn't even crossed his mind, and that was what had actually happened. Phoenix had responded to his advances quite nicely, allowing himself to be gently plied with alcohol, seduced, and quite thoroughly sodomized. And that was without the second part where his target had pounced on Miles and returned the favor or the part where he ambushed him again in the shower or the part with the Saturday morning children's television. But it had all gone very well until Phoenix said that he wasn't going to see Miles again and that he couldn't tell him why.
Miles hoped that in the alternate universe where Wright had thrown him under a train, that particular train had been his plans, because they were currently derailed. But that wasn't to say that he wasn't going to try to piece them back together and get them going again. On a different track, maybe, but one that went to the same place. After all, Wright had said that he wanted to see Miles, didn't he? That Miles just wasn't doing something right.
So he had to keep trying. At least that was something that Edgeworth was good at, and Phoenix had been the one to teach him exactly how to run at a brick wall until it finally crumbled. He'd done it in court and finally succeeded, and he would damn well do the same thing in their personal lives. Never once had he offered Wright a plea bargain, and there was no way he was going to accept let's just be friends.
He spent most of Sunday trying to get work done but generally just brooding. Monday morning he made sure to be standing outside of Phoenix's office when he arrived for work, tapping his fingers on his arm. "Wright," he said as the defense attorney got off the elevator and stopped in his tracks, eyes wide, "I want you to come to the theatre this weekend."
Phoenix fixed him with an unreadable, soft sort of look and shook his head. "I'm sorry, but I can't."
"Why not?" Miles asked, managing to keep his voice in check.
Wright shook his head again. "It's something you're going to have to figure out for yourself. Kind of defeats the point if I just tell you, doesn't it?" And with that he stepped inside his office, giving Miles a smile before shutting the door behind him.
As stupid as it felt, Edgeworth found himself standing on the steps of Wright's office building that evening. He didn't mean to stalk, but he'd been on his way home, there'd been an empty parking space… Maya Fey came practically skipping down the stairs first, raising an eyebrow as she caught sight of Edgeworth and waving cheerily. "Good luck!" she called, heading for the bus stop.
Wright followed about ten minutes later, looking nowhere near as chirpy. He did a double-take as he realized who was standing outside waiting for him. "Miles?" he asked, as though it could have been any other person in a magenta suit.
"Please," Edgeworth said simply, figuring maybe that was what he'd forgotten.
Phoenix looked at him for a long moment and then laughed. "Not quite, no," he said. "But I appreciate the effort. I'll see you later, okay?"
Miles sent flowers Tuesday morning. Nothing extravagant: something tasteful and exotic and very expensive. The attached card, of course, asked Wright out again, leaving when and where open-ended. Miles caught Phoenix at the precinct that afternoon, his assistant in tow, having apparently just finished consulting a client in detention. He grabbed hold of the attorney's elbow and tugged him into a corner, giving Maya a look that clearly said she was not to try to listen. Not that it would have been easy over the noise of the office anyway.
"Did you get the flowers?" he asked.
"They're gorgeous, but you didn't have to spend that sort of money," Phoenix said.
"I didn't?" Edgeworth repeated sullenly.
"No, you didn't," Wright replied. "But thank you." And he was gone. Edgeworth looked up to find Gumshoe staring at him questioningly. He adjusted his cravat like he were trying to straighten out his bruised pride.
"Detective," he said, giving in to his own questionable judgment. "You're a… person. How would you win someone over?"
Dick blinked at him. Edgeworth immediately began to think that it was a mistake to ask him, but Gumshoe was the only thing he had that even resembled a friend, and he was ridiculously loyal and eager to please.
"If I were trying to win over Mr. Wright," Dick said thoughtfully, "I'd probably stop patronizing him in court."
Edgeworth gave the detective a blank look, wondering where Gumshoe had even learned that word, then shook his head and stalked off.
Wednesday was a court day. Edgeworth couldn't help but feel under-prepared; he'd been preoccupied and irritable since Saturday, and while he usually found trials against Phoenix Wright rather distracting as far as court dates went, today he was even more off his game and the problem was only compounded by the number of times in the past several days that he'd been reviewing his case files and found himself glaring at a spot on the page thinking about nothing even remotely related to the matter at hand.
Fortunately for the justice system, an under-prepared and unfocused Miles Edgeworth was still a better prosecutor than almost anyone else, no matter how meticulously primed. When all was said and done, he still thought he did admirably, at least dragging out the trial until the second day. The only major slip-up came about an hour in when Miles pounded the desk, pointed right at Phoenix, and exclaimed, "Objection! Your Honor, the defense is leading me on!"
Immediately he realized what he'd said. He could feel the muscles in his face slackening, his eyes widening in shock as a wave of nausea swept over him. It immediately occurred to Miles that perhaps he could use his own cravat to strangle himself, but then the judge was asking, "Excuse me?"
Miles was surprised to hear the perfect, automatic calm in his own voice as he replied, "What I meant to say was that the defense is leading the witness, of course."
"Ah, yes, indeed," the judge replied. Miles had to keep from wincing as he looked over at Wright; the opposing attorney looked as though he were biting his own tongue to keep from laughing as the judge ordered him to rephrase the question.
Surprisingly, it was Phoenix that caught Miles outside the courtroom and not the other way around; he appeared right next to him as Edgeworth headed through the main lobby and announced himself by saying simply, "I'm not leading you on, Miles."
Edgeworth nearly jumped, turning to stare at Phoenix. "What would you call it, then?" he asked, his voice just slightly bitter.
"Waiting," Wright answered with a grin, diverting his path away from Miles to meet his assistant.
Both Wright and his assistant, as expected, turned up at the scene of the crime that was the subject of their present trial that evening. Edgeworth had gone there with Gumshoe, and he was on the couch in the living room just outside the apartment's blood-stained kitchen holding a neatly-labeled evidence baggie containing what appeared to be a saltshaker. He smirked broadly as Phoenix entered the room and stopped dead in his tracks. Really, the other man should have been well used to seeing him turn up in unexpected places, Miles mused.
"New evidence," he said matter-of-factly. "You'll find out what it is tomorrow, but I'm willing to give it to you now. I think you know what I want in exchange."
Maya looked torn between indignance and amusement, but Phoenix just shook his head, walking over and crossing his arms as he stopped in front of Edgeworth. "You're saying that you want to trade me for a saltshaker?" he asked.
Miles nearly sputtered. "I… that's not what I… dammit, Wright!"
Phoenix smiled and walked briskly off to the kitchen. Miles stood up, eyes narrowed, and went over to Gumshoe. He dropped the evidence bag into his hand and clenched his jaw as he took his coat off the rack by the front door and slid it on.
"We just found the murder weapon in a dumpster down the street," the detective said, gesturing with his thumb in the direction they'd apparently located it in. "You wanna try giving him that instead?"
Edgeworth sighed as he shook his head. "Have the lab results in my office tonight."
The following day was, of course, another court day. The actual legal proceedings went a bit more smoothly than Wednesday's had, although Miles could already feel the not guilty verdict creeping up on him by the time the judge called a recess until morning. He'd thought about just letting Wright have it towards the end, but he decided not to give him a Friday off if the git wouldn't spend that Friday with him. He drew it out to another day on a technicality.
He followed and ambushed Maya in the hall near the bathrooms while Phoenix was waiting for her in the lobby. He regarded her coolly, tilting his head to the side and looking at her down his nose. "Can I have a word with you?"
Maya looked happy to talk to him, but the first words out of her mouth were, "Nick swore me to silence or I'll get my pay docked and he'll never speak to me again."
"Ms. Fey, are you trying to say that not only is he ignoring me, but he's forbidden his assistant from speaking to me?"
"Call me Maya, Mr. Edgeworth," the girl said. "And I'm allowed to talk to you. Just not to say why he won't go out with you again. But we can talk about other things."
Edgeworth rolled his eyes slightly. "As nice as that would be, I don't have much else to talk about."
"That's okay, we can talk about Nick," Maya said, rocking back on her heels as she looked up at him. She didn't seem to care that her boss was probably wondering if she'd gotten trapped in a bathroom stall. "It'd be kind of a nice kind of turnabout since all he talks about is you."
Edgeworth didn't bother to mask his interest; that sentiment surely must have been more than evident to Maya by this point. "Is that so?"
"Oh, he's always talked about you a lot," Maya told him brightly. "Even more than other people talk about you." Edgeworth couldn't help but wonder just what she meant by that and what people were saying about him. Maya added, "But lately he doesn't really talk about anything else unless he has to."
That made Miles feel marginally better, but he still furrowed his eyebrows and stared at a spot on the wall worriedly. "However, he still doesn't want to see me."
"Nah, he definitely wants to," Maya told him, reaching out and patting him on the forearm. He realized that he was holding onto his other arm with that hand and quickly stopped, hating that mannerism.
"I believe Wright said something to that effect," he muttered. "I find it hard to believe, if you can understand, Ms. Fey."
Maya gave him a reassuring smile. "He trusts you to get it sooner or later. Just keep trying, and eventually you'll say what he wants to hear."
Miles blinked in confusion, and she was hurrying off down the hall, her long hair trailing behind her.
Friday was one of the shortest court dates Edgeworth had ever had. Twenty minutes and he was more or less cornered and the judge handed down a firm not guilty. No other suspects had presented themselves and court was summarily adjourned.
Miles's mood was hardly blunted by this, though; he was so frustrated already that an acquittal could hardly do much more damage to his disposition and even a guilty verdict would probably not have helped very much. He stalked down the hall outside the courtroom, passing the newly-freed defendant herself on the way and barely giving her a second glance even though she fixed him with a rather steely look. He stalked toward Phoenix as the lawyer and his assistant came out the large mahogany doors of the defendant's lobby.
Maya spotted him first, and he gave her a meaningful look and a slight gesture that immediately conveyed his point even to the somewhat flighty girl. "I'll see you outside, Nick!" she exclaimed quickly, grabbing her boss's briefcase from him and rushing straight past Miles. Edgeworth held out one hand and she stopped, grabbed his briefcase as well, and took off again.
Phoenix was gaping at her sudden departure with both the prosecution's and the defense's papers, but now that Edgeworth was left with both hands free, he grabbed hold of the other attorney's arm with one and dragged him a few meters down the hall to pull him into a cleaning closet. The small space was slightly musty and dimly-lit by a single small window near the ceiling. There was hardly any room to move, so Miles pushed Phoenix up against the inside of the door.
"Miles, what are you…?" The dark-haired man was slightly flushed with surprise. He glanced down at the extremely limited space between their bodies, and Edgeworth felt a small triumphant sort of twinge in the pit of his stomach as the other man's breathing quickened.
"Listen, Wright. I'm going to be as blunt as I can. I've wanted you for months, I want you even more after Friday night, and I'm not going to take no for an answer." He pointed a finger at Phoenix's chest and added, "Will you have a meaningful, long-term relationship with me?"
Phoenix pursed his lips and looked like he was trying as hard as he could not to grin. Then he failed and grinned anyway, ducking his head in an almost sheepish manner. "Never really had one of those," he said, scratching the back of his head. "I think I'd like that."
Edgeworth let out a slow breath. "So you're saying that—"
"Sorry, but no," Wright interrupted, reaching up and taking hold of Edgeworth's wrists to try to pull the man's hands away from his shoulders. Miles didn't relent.
"Well why not?" he asked, his voice sounding a bit harsher than he strictly would have liked. "I don't know what you want from me, but whatever it is, if you ask I'll do it!"
"I can't ask, Miles," Phoenix said calmly, still holding onto his wrists. "It's something you have to realize."
"The only thing I realize is that apparently I have to commit murder to get any of your time!" Edgeworth replied.
Phoenix had the decency to feign horror. "Don't do that! I'll never forgive you if I have to schedule conjugal visits."
Miles finally let go of him and stepped back as much as he could in the extremely constricted space. He waved one hand irritably and complained, "How can you sit there and joke about this?" He didn't care that he was making it sound like some sort of tragedy. It was a tragedy as far as he was concerned.
"Joking is my defense mechanism," Wright responded. The tension slowly left his body now that Edgeworth had given him at least six inches of space. Miles lifted his eyes and gave him a look that was part frustration and part desperation.
"I've tried sex, gifts, insistence, bribery, surprise, earnest declarations of my intentions… I don't know what else to do," he said. "Ms. Fey said that I have to say what you want to hear, and I'm not seeing it. I've asked you every way I know how and none of them are right, apparently."
"They're all right," Phoenix said. "But none of them is correct, if you follow me." He felt around behind him and grasped the doorknob, reaching up with his other hand and brushing some of Edgeworth's bangs back. His fingers just barely swept over the skin of his forehead, and Miles stood there and watched him blankly. "Oh, and if you want your briefcase back," Phoenix added, "you should probably do just that."
Edgeworth was quite tempted to say that no, he didn't want his briefcase back. It was Friday, and he seriously considered just telling the other man to take his briefcase full of papers detailing a closed case and to return it to him at a later date so that he could sit in this broom closet and brood for the time being.
Not that his pride was going to let him do such a thing. He set his jaw and threw his head back as he begrudgingly allowed Wright to hold the door open for him, and he gave a dark look to one of the court stenographers, who appeared more than a little shocked at seeing two lawyers emerging from a cleaning closet.
Maya was standing on the steps of the courthouse. Miles barely slowed down while collecting his case from her, but he did turn his head to nod at her and say, "Thank you, Ms. Fey."
"It's Maya, really!" she called after him as she was joined on the steps by her boss, but Edgeworth didn't look back.
Miles ended up sitting at home most of the evening pondering the state of life, the universe, and everything. In this case, life was Phoenix Wright, the universe was Miles himself, and everything was their relationship, or rather lack of it. It was really rather pathetic, wasting time like he was, curled up on his couch next to his only real friend and staring out the east-facing window as the sky darkened. There had to be work that he could have been getting done, but he found it hard to care.
"What can I change?" he asked idly. "Maybe I could introduce him to you, Pesu. People love dogs, don't they?" The collie mix glanced up at the sound of his name and gave him a rather blank, disinterested look. "Oh, god," Miles moaned as though responding to something the dog had said. "What if he's allergic to you?"
Pesu blinked a couple of times and put his head back on his paws as if to say that the idea didn't concern him in the least. It didn't really concern Edgeworth that much, either; it was just his general tension that was making him gnaw at his lower lip and furrow his eyebrows, and it was manifesting itself in a myriad of ridiculous thoughts.
What if Phoenix's entire vague spiel about being asked the right way was just a front? What if the other attorney just didn't want to tell Miles that he had terrible breath or that he was bad in bed? What if Phoenix couldn't bear to say that he hated magenta?
As sad as it was, he had to actually shake those thoughts out of his head. After the sky had darkened, he glanced at the clock on the end table and realized just how late it was - and that he hadn't eaten anything at all that day. He knew what he was going to find there, but he still heaved a heavy sigh of frustration when he got to the fridge and saw that it was practically empty.
Nothing had gone his way in the past week. He had no Wright, no court win, and no food. Not that the last part was any surprise: Phoenix had been beyond impressed with his waffles last Saturday morning, but that had been the first occasion Edgeworth had had time to cook in what probably amounted to a number of months, and his spotless, very expensive kitchen was always bordering on barren.
That thought was certainly depressing; it reminded him of exactly what he had liked better about the defense lawyer's apartment. It wasn't nearly as nice as Edgeworth's own house, and it was almost equally unlived-in, but unlike Edgeworth's house it was more like a home than a museum, and at least it had some food and someone to cook it for. A scowl, and Edgeworth forced himself to stop thinking in that direction.
He crossed his arms and drummed his fingers irritably, glaring at the refrigerator as though it had failed to stock itself and musing on his current hunger situation and how to remedy it. He had a natural knack for cooking and no food. Wright had the ingredients but no culinary skills. It would have been perfect if they had each other, he thought dismally, and then he realized that he'd gone right back to thinking about unproductive things and mentally kicked himself.
"I'm going out, Pesu," Edgeworth announced as he came back out of the kitchen and headed into his room. The dog followed him, seeming mildly curious as to why his owner was getting ready to leave so late. It was a testament to Miles's taste and finances that he could put on the first thing he found in his closet that wasn't a suit and come out looking like something out of an advertisement in the sort of fashion magazine that had a French-sounding name and came in half-inch-thick issues. It was a testament to his fixation with the color that he'd managed to actually locate and purchase a deep magenta motorcycle jacket.
Miles grabbed his keys off the side table in the entryway and turned to scratch Pesu behind the ears as he opened the front door. "I'll be back. Don't do anything that I wouldn't do," he told the dog sternly. Pesu just cocked his head, stretched, and wandered back into the house somewhere, probably to sit on some expensive piece of furniture that he was always allowed on but that Edgeworth didn't even like seeing humans touch.
Truthfully, Edgeworth had no idea where he was going. He knew he was hungry in a sort of vague sense; it wasn't a gnawing hunger, but more the sort of hunger that comes in a very detached way when you remind yourself of how hungry you're supposed to be after not having eaten for a given amount of time. What he figured was that he'd just drive around until something that was open late caught his eye.
The important part was the driving around bit; driving was something that demanded his attention, something that wouldn't remind him too heavily of Phoenix, something that provided a convenient distraction. And then Miles had to stop at a roundabout about a mile from his home. Keep Right said the sign in front of his car. Edgeworth stared at blankly for a long moment, long enough that if it hadn't been late and he hadn't been the only person at the stop sign, he'd probably have had people honking at him.
The sign just sat there, taunting him. Keep Right. Edgeworth wanted to scream. Finally he just growled and went to slam his foot on the gas, but then something hit him – mentally, not literally – and he brought his foot down hard on the brake pedal again, jerking his car to a stop once more after barely having coasted a few feet. He looked back at the sign again, his jaw dropping open. Keep Right.
"Have a good day at work, Miles."
"Eventually you'll say what he wants to hear."
"They're all right, but none of them is correct."
"Fuck," Miles said simply, as though he were stating a plain fact. He immediately changed his route, speeding off from the intersection and well away from the main streets where he was most likely to find the (probably deep-fried) sustenance he'd originally set out to look for.
Phoenix lived in a rather large apartment block, and Miles managed to catch a young art student-looking woman who lived there as she was entering the building with a bag of groceries, asking her if she minded letting him in as well.
She gave him a raised eyebrow. "What, so you can rape and pillage the whole building?"
"Not in a three hundred dollar jacket," Edgeworth said, his tone quite serious.
"And you can't just be buzzed in," she countered in a dry tone.
Edgeworth sighed and told her the truth. "Look, I'm in love with someone on the fourth floor and I don't want to have that conversation over the intercom."
Her look softened, although she didn't look happy about the way it did so. She finally nudged the door open and stepped aside, holding it with her foot as she readjusted her groceries. "Fine, go tell him."
Miles nearly walked right past her, then did a double-take as he noticed the pronoun. "What?"
"You're wearing a three hundred dollar magenta jacket," the girl replied.
Miles pursed his lips and sighed through his nose. "Touché."
The last week had been the most mentally exhausting period of time Phoenix had ever experienced, with the last ten hours or so being the culmination. He'd gone home after leaving court and sat around watching one of the twenty-four hour news networks in order to try to think about anything – anything at all – as long as it had nothing to do with Miles Edgeworth or sex in broom closets.
It hadn't worked; he'd had to relieve his own tension eventually. Twice. The fact that he had the most incredibly attractive man he'd ever known practically begging him to have sex on a daily basis and yet he was still sitting around his empty flat jerking off was a testament to either his own self-control or his own extreme idiocy and latent masochistic tendencies, and he was beginning to seriously wonder which it was.
He preferred to think self-control, although it hadn't actually been that horribly difficult before he'd found himself with broom closet sex constantly and irrevocably on his mind. Phoenix Wright was, when push came to shove, an optimist above all. He trusted Edgeworth more than he trusted himself most of the time, and he figured if Miles were as serious about Phoenix as he seemed, he'd keep trying and get it sooner or later. And he trusted that it would be worth it when he did.
That optimism allowed Phoenix to smile – genuinely, even – as he continually rejected Edgeworth's advances. It was difficult, yes, but all he had to do was remind himself that it was going to be fine and that he was in control of the situation, and with that knowledge he could relax and keep his cool. Mostly. He'd very nearly lost it being shoved up against that door.
But he still was in control when it came down to it, and that was what was important. After all, Edgeworth had everything on him, as far as he was concerned – looks, brains, career, finances, style. He'd given him an inch, though, and Phoenix was determined to take a mile, disregarding the pun. Even if that mile amounted to one relatively simple little thing, and even if Edgeworth could probably wrest that control back at any time if he chose toforced the matter. Phoenix's backbone wasn't fragile, but it was rather like a stack of blocks that could be toppled completely or reconstructed at a moment's notice, and he was beginning to realize that more and more lately.
He was rather surprised to hear a knock on his door after ten in the evening, assuming that it must have been the superintendent since anyone else would have had to use the intercom. He turned off the TV – from which he'd been hearing the same news stories for about the fifteenth time that day – and padded across the carpet to the entryway in his oversized pajama pants, adjusting his undershirt as he went and brushing his un-gelled hair out of his face. If the super wanted to show up at all hours for god knows what, he figured, she couldn't very well expect him to actually look presentable.
Phoenix could have looked more surprised to find Edgeworth standing outside his door, but not by much. Miles mirrored his expression briefly, apparently at the fact that Phoenix hadn't answered the door in nearly the same state of dress that he himself was in. His eyes lingered on Phoenix's mussed hair, then darted down to the narrow strip of skin across Phoenix's hips left exposed by drawstring pants whose string refused to properly draw. He quickly tore them back up to the other man's face.
"Can I assume you're alone?" he asked, his voice a little tight.
Phoenix blinked, automatically looking around before realizing what a silly action it was. "I… yeah, why?"
"Because I'm coming in," Miles said, grabbing hold of Phoenix's hips and pushing him back into the apartment. Phoenix yelped and just managed to push the door closed as he stumbled backwards in an attempt to regain his balance, but in the end it was a losing battle and he found himself being mostly supported by Edgeworth's arms until he was backed up against a wall and pinned, not only by hands on his shoulders but by Edgeworth's hips and a leg shoved between his own so that he'd have to work to get away.
"Miles," he gasped breathlessly, unable to think of anything more substantial to add. Most of the blood in his brain was being used up trying to convince the blood in the rest of his body not to rush to a very inconvenient place at this particular moment.
Unfortunately for that effort, Miles had let go of his shoulders and was tugging off his jacket. The jacket had been terribly sexy; it was the first thing Phoenix had noticed when he answered the door, nearly stopping his thoughts in their tracks before he was even able to fully process the fact that Miles Edgeworth was wearing jeans instead of a suit. The act of removing the jacket, however, was even sexier, and seeing Edgeworth throwing it to the floor – not folding it neatly and hanging it somewhere, but actually throwing an article of clothing on the carpet in a manner that was, for him, distinctly pre-coital – was enough to make him feel like his brain were about to leak out his ears.
And then the jacket was gone and Miles's hands were on either side of his face pulling him into an insistent kiss. He didn't even have a chance to consult his better judgment; Edgeworth's tongue was pressing at his lips and his mouth was opening of its own accord. He could hear a quiet moan that bordered on a whimper escaping his own throat, and even as he worked his arms up between their bodies and put them on the other man's shoulders in an attempt to push him away, he leaned into the kiss and even returned it, though he kept telling himself to stop that right this minute.
Finally he got himself to break the kiss, helped along by his own physiological need to breath, and put his hands firmly on Edgeworth's chest, holding him at as much distance as he could while still pinned between, as it were, a wall and an increasingly hard place. Miles leaned in again, but Phoenix ducked his head out of the way, shaking it rather desperately.
"Please, don't make me," he said softly, hating the weakness in his voice as he could feel his resolve beginning to crumble beneath him. He frantically tried to repair it, but the task had become difficult bordering on impossible.
"I would never make you do anything," Miles replied earnestly, his voice low and increasingly throaty.
Risking a glance at him and taking a deep, albeit unsteady, breath, Phoenix gave him a firm but gentle shove and shook his head again. "No, don't make me give in." With a bit of difficulty, he extracted himself from his position and put his weight back onto his own unsteady legs, running a hand through his hair only to have it flop back over his forehead. "I've got one condition, Miles. Just let me have that without making it any more difficult than it has to be."
Miles watched him, his breathing quick and his face slightly flushed. Phoenix stared at him for a couple of seconds and then turned away, straightening out his clothes again and tugging at his hair in agitation, keenly aware of the other man's eyes on his back. He didn't know quite what to do. He half wished that Edgeworth would leave so that he could go curl up in a ball of sexual and emotional frustration, but he also, inexplicably, didn't want his erstwhile, now would-be lover to go anywhere at all. In any case, it wasn't as though he could ask Miles to leave; even if he managed to get the words out, he knew he'd regret it. So he just stood there, taking deep breaths and standing as though if he held perfectly still, the whole issue would just evaporate into thin air.
Then Miles spoke. "So you've got one condition. And what if I fulfilled it right now, Phoenix?"
Phoenix's whole being seemed to falter for a moment, and with a sharp intake of breath his head shot around to stare at Miles. The prosecutor was staring at him expectantly, obviously aware of the significance of his words. Phoenix swallowed heavily and murmured, "Say that again."
He turned slightly, involuntarily, towards Miles as the other man stepped closer to him. An arm encircled his waist and a broad hand slid around the back of his neck. Edgeworth leaned in, turning Phoenix's head gently and brushing his lips along the dark-haired man's ear as he spoke. "It's not that easy," he whispered huskily. "You need to make me."
A while later, once he'd regained some of his breath, Phoenix collapsed back on his mattress and brushed Miles's sweat-soaked hair out of his face. "Did you call me Fee at the end there?"
Miles gave him an almost sheepish look. "I didn't have enough breath for the second syllable."
Phoenix just laughed softly. "I like that."
Afterwards, as they lay entwined under the sheets, listening to the sounds out on the street and the upstairs neighbours' squeaky floorboards, Phoenix interrupted the background noise, murmuring, "You know, that's the first time I've ever done that with a man more than once."
Miles raised an eyebrow, looking down as Phoenix looked up and gave him a soft smile and wondering where this topic of conversation had come from. "Really?" was all he could think of to ask.
"You could ask Maya about the series of bad dates and one night stands I had while you were gone," Phoenix replied dryly. "I think she secretly has a tally."
"You don't seem like the type," Miles said, frowning slightly.
Phoenix snuggled into the crook of Miles's neck, his breath hot against the other man's skin. "That's what I would've said, actually. But there you have it, and in the end not one of them even knew what a cravat is."
"You didn't ask them…?" Miles said disbelievingly.
"Every single one," Phoenix replied.
Miles sat up on his elbow and gaped at him. "You're serious? That's your qualification for dating you?"
"Not the only one, no," Phoenix replied. "It was just the first one I put out there and nobody ever passed. Although I never told anyone that was why I didn't call back."
"You're horrible," Miles breathed.
"I'm picky," Phoenix corrected. "Extremely picky."
"And I pass your qualification exam?" Miles said dryly.
"You wrote the exam, idiot." Phoenix grabbed a pillow and smacked Miles with it. Miles seized it and wrestled it away from him, turning over to pin him down.
"I've got an exam, too," he said, grabbing Phoenix's wrists to keep him from going anywhere or trying to muster a second front with the bedding.
"And what's that?" Phoenix asked, his voice a little sarcastic.
"Are you allergic to dogs?" Miles asked.
Phoenix raised an eyebrow but shook his head. "I love dogs."
Miles grinned and went for Phoenix's neck. "Good, you passed the first part. I hope you've prepared for the physical."