Chapter 5. Small Talk
The ride back was…awkward, to say the least. It was silent, except for the occasional sniffle from the driver's seat, until the yellow-gray cloud that was Los Angeles from a distance filled the windshield.
"Where are we going?" Phoenix asked, bluntly. There was no better way to put it.
"I…don't know," Edgeworth admitted. "Where do you want to go?"
"Uh…" He thought quickly. "There's a park, near my apartment. So I can walk from there in case…things don't go well."
Edgeworth's eyebrow twitched, and Phoenix actually had to stifle a laugh. "You don't think things will go well?"
"I don't know how things are going to go. I still remember what you said to me, before. And I know what I want, but I also know it's pretty unrealistic." Phoenix shrugged. "I'm just hoping to get out of this without getting punched."
Edgeworth looked at him in the rearview mirror. "Is what you want that unreasonable?"
"Considering it's you I want it with? Yes."
"Hn." Edgeworth stared at the road. "I guess we'll see."
Phoenix was having to fight a lot of urges today. This time, it was to sigh and tug at his hair. This was all so frustrating. Up until a few weeks ago, the possibility of having a relationship with Edgeworth had been…laughable. Now it was a viable option, possible, even likely, but it was being kept out of his grasp by the man himself. Who, if Maya's testimony and his own drunken ramblings were any indication, wanted it just as much as Phoenix did, but was denying himself out of some kind of martyr complex.
"Park" was a strong word, Phoenix had to admit. It looked like somebody's lawn, albeit bigger then a house. Grass, a couple trees, and two benches. There was a playground at one end, and someone had once tried to put in a duck pond. All that remained now was a concrete bowl with a few dead leaves and a skateboard wheel in the bottom.
There were a couple of benches though, abandoned for once. Edgeworth made his way to the nearest one, waking barely a step ahead of Phoenix, enough to lead the way but close enough not to be rude. That seemed to be important, at the moment.
Edgeworth stopped dead in front of the bench, hands shoved in his pockets, shoulders hunched. He made no move to sit, or turn around.
"What do you want?" he said, finally.
"You," Phoenix answered, without even thinking about it.
Edgeworth drew his shoulders almost up to his ears, as though trying to hide. "Wright-"
"To be with you," he clarified. "In a relationship. A real one. With kissing and cuddling and…intimate encounters. And talking too, of course. Spending time together. Hell, I think I would settle just for that. That was… That's what I've been wanting since you disappeared, all those years ago. Just to be near you again."
Edgeworth didn't relax one iota. "I had no idea you were such a romantic, Wright," he said dryly.
"I've had a lot of time to think about this. That sounded cheesy as hell though, didn't it?"
"You could put it that way."
Phoenix pushed his fingers through his hair. There had to be some way to make this work… "The thing is, I've had… I guess you could call it a crush, on you since you, uh, 'came back from the dead.'"
Edgeworth froze for a second, then he actually turned his head and looked at Phoenix. "That long?"
"Well, that was when I realized. Before then… I've cared about you for years now, you know that. I've always thought of you as a friend. The first time I was attracted to you," he smirked sheepishly, "was the first time I saw your picture in the paper. But at the time I didn't really know I was into guys, so I didn't think about it too hard. When I finally met you in court all I could think about was how much you had changed. I'm not sure when exactly my feelings crossed the line from friendship into…more, but when you came swooping in to save the day during the Enguarde case." He laughed. "I was so stressed out. I was worried about Maya, I hadn't been sleeping. And then you! I didn't know whether to punch you or kiss you. It's probably a good thing I was too stunned to do either."
"Probably…" Edgeworth agreed. He dropped his eyes back to the ground.
"After that, I didn't worry about it too much. I knew, well, I believed that you would never return my feelings, so I kept quiet about it. I enjoyed the few times you showed you at least were concerned about my well-being, and I never stopped thinking of you as a friend, but until you showed up in my apartment a couple weeks ago… I really didn't think, not once, that you might feel the same way." Phoenix shrugged. "That's why I don't know what to do here."
He walked around the immobile Miles and threw himself on the bench.
Miles was silent for a long moment. "October 19th, 2012."
Phoenix thought back. "That was…the last day of the Steel Samurai case." He frowned. "You told me you didn't want to see me again."
"Yes." Miles finally let his shoulders sag. "Because I didn't want to feel what I felt for you. I thought I understood the world. I thought I knew how to be strong. You reminded me of a time when I believed something very different. I… I liked those times. And even while I was rebelling against it, a part of me wanted to become the person I used to be, once again. So I tried to push you away. I thought it had worked… And then… Christmas Day…"
Phoenix smiled. "You know, the very first thought I had when I heard you'd been arrested was that I had to help you. There was no question in my mind. There wouldn't be now, either."
"Don't be so sure." Miles sighed and sunk onto the bench. "I'm better then I was. I understand myself, my life, even my feelings. But I miss the control I used to have. Nothing happened without me knowing, because the only other person even slightly close to me could be trusted without question… even if he could only be trusted to be a bumbling fool."
Phoenix blinked. "Gumshoe? Is that why you let him help you with everything? Because he's…"
"Predictable," Miles finished. "Yes. He's not stupid, not excessively so, but he's simple. Easy to understand, easy to control. You aren't. The way I feel about you isn't. I do my best to keep my emotions hidden, but I do have them."
"Not quite… Maybe a little. More wary. I'm not happy, Wright, I'm not going to lie. But I'm… I'm a lot better then I was a few years ago. I suppose I am afraid, of losing that equilibrium."
"You really think being with me will set you back that much?"
"Yes, actually." Miles leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "I know it sounds cliché, but it's not you. It's me. You and I have both had some truly awful things happen to us, but you always spring back."
"Barely," Phoenix muttered. "I don't dwell on things, and that seems to help. But every once in a while I look at Mia's books or some pictures from college and I… I just feel… like the world is a dark and dreary place. I think that's why I let people push me around so much. Most of the people I know have a brighter outlook then I do."
"You do seem to surround yourself with positive-minded people," Miles agreed. "You might be surprised to know, but I like Maya quite a bit."
"She's hard not to like," Phoenix laughed. "She just never stops."
"Most people don't. It's just that Maya never stops looking for fun, while I… never stop fighting." Miles stared at his hands. "Fighting my feelings. Fighting with people. I'm on guard all that time and… I'm tired. I don't want to feel like this anymore."
Phoenix leaned closer. Careful… Careful… "So stop. Stop fighting."
"I don't know how." It was almost pained.
There was really only one appropriate response to that. Phoenix took the other man's chin in one hand and kissed him soundly on the mouth.
It was brief, just a soft press of lips. Enough for Phoenix to make his point. He pulled back, slowly, keeping his body close and resting his hand on Miles shoulder. "Gonna hit me?"
Miles was staring at the empty park, apparently stunned. "Not…just yet."
"I was… not expecting that."
Phoenix leaned back, satisfied that he'd made the desired impression. "You need to watch more movies. In fact, that sounds like a plan. We'll get some beer and some videos and make an evening of it."
Miles blinked, and shook his head to clear the cobwebs out of it. "Are you…asking me out?"
"Just a suggestion. Besides, we don't have to do anything but sit there. If nothing else, it'll be a chance to see if you remember how to relax."
"Hn. I don't know…"
"If you like, I could call Larry. He should have been dumped by his latest girl by now."
Miles winced. "No, that's all right."
"The things is, I- I have to get to the office. I…" He checked his watch. "Still have thirty minutes, but given the circumstances I don't think anyone would mind if I was late."
Phoenix was staring at him. "Given the circumstances, I don't think anyone would expect you to come in at all!"
"I like working," Miles said primly. "It… helps me take my mind off things."
"Well, so will beer and movies."
Miles stared at the sidewalk.
Miles perked up. "As long as I choose the brand."
I may write another fic that is a direct sequel to this one, and explores the relationship a bit more, but for now I think this is it. I have one more story to finish on y!gallery, then I should either get back to focusing on my Zelda stories or...we'll see. I don't know.
I enjoyed writing this story, and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it!