Phoenix had read once that there were more germs on a door handle than on a toilet seat.
His forehead, coated in a thick layer of sweat and hair gel, ground against the flimsy plastic as his stomach heaved. His muscles ached terribly and his thoughts were racing, hands clenched into fists and knuckles digging into the filthy tiled floor. There was a moment of twisting pain before the contents of his stomach spilled unceremoniously into the awaiting bowl, gushing over his bottom lip in a sickening, lukewarm frenzy. He squeezed his eyes shut and grasped his middle gently, trembling, and expelled another mouthful of vomit into the toilet before slumping against the stall, defeated.
They'd gotten their not guilty verdict, he and Edgeworth. They did what was right. What was just.
His first few trials had been relatively routine—rather, as routine as any court case with Miles Edgeworth and His Honor can be—and he had coasted on the high of victory with a comforting optimism. Unfortunately, never in his travels did he believe that he would have to suffer the consequences of a case in which his dead ex-girlfriend (who didn't actually turn out to be the girl he was dating) possessed the people around him in a convoluted murder plot. Not only had he run across a burning bridge 40 feet in the air, but he had also caught a vicious bug, concussed, managed to meet up with two old friends, and convicted his mentor's old lover for murdering her mother.
As he remembered the entirety of the situation, his guts wrenched violently once more, and he shoved himself back to the toilet in time to expel the last remaining contents of his stomach.
As an attorney, he didn't quite have time to pay proper attention to his emotions. There wasn't room for it in a solid defense, as it would have hindered him greatly in his deliverance. However, the prosecutor Godot had been a flawless catalyst in not only forcing him to recall the disgusting series of events, but also to attempt to recollect and pin the cause of Mia's brutal murder onto himself.
He spat, forcing back tears of exhaustion and bitterness, and wished that he had bought a pack of chewing gum on his way back to the office.
They had nearly succeeded, however, in all aspects. No sooner had the Judge's gavel slammed down onto the desk had they run out the door, rushing frantically with the intent to arrest both Diego Armando and Iris, as well as confirm Maya's wellbeing. In the end, Maya was safe (albeit frighteningly ravenous and cranky from a lack of rest; Phoenix had been quite fearful for his own wellbeing), and he and Edgeworth had formed quite an impressive team. The eloquent man had even graced him with the title of "partner".
Did that mean they were friends? He didn't know. He wanted to be. Craved it, in fact.
There was a knock at the office door, but Phoenix was in no condition to pick himself up off the floor. It was after business hours and he was exhausted besides; whoever wanted him could wait for him. His head throbbed rhythmically in agreement and he grunted loudly, dry heaving violently into the toilet. Maya was gone for the evening; else he would have had her bring him a glass of water just for something to heave back up. The knocks were persistent, however, and once he was satisfied that he wouldn't humiliate himself, he wiped his mouth with some toilet paper and headed for the door.
"I'm coming," he sighed quietly, "hold on." His hands were quivering and slick with sweat when he gripped the brass door handle, turning it gently and swinging the door open. Miles Edgeworth stood, knuckles poised in mid-rap, to greet him. "Ed…Edgeworth. Hi."
"Um, I—" his insides clenched suddenly, and he ran to the bathroom, coughing with a fierce vengeance and making it to the toilet to spit bile onto the porcelain, "—I don't think now is exactly the time to discuss business." The voice that called out to the man in the lobby was not one he would have recognized as his own.
He bent, then, leaning heavily onto the seat. His body was quite close to giving out on him, wrought with exhaustion from the past few days. A gentle hand smoothed over his shoulder and he imagined his rival's gaze smoldering over his shoulder.
"I didn't come to discuss business with you, Wright. I came to ensure that you were still alive. It seems as though I have arrived just in time."
He didn't have the energy to retort, and instead allowed his head to fall forward. His suit still clung to his shoulders, reeking of sweat and vomit, and he took a moment to consider what he must look like.
"Jesus, Wright…" Edgeworth's hand was soothing on his back, and it seemed as though his stomach was beginning to settle from the contact. The prosecutor sat behind him on the floor and continued to run his fingers across Phoenix's shoulders. "Your absence was…noted, at the celebration dinner."
Phoenix chuckled, amused rather than irritated with the prosecutor's awkward attempts at conversation. It was an honor in and of itself that the man was there at all, and he was comfortably astonished and grateful for it, especially given his condition. "My apologies, Mr. Edgeworth. I'm afraid I wasn't feeling quite up to the occasion."
"Hmph. If you're going to mock me, you may as well sit up a bit straighter while you do it." Delicate fingers tugged at his shoulders and Phoenix leaned backwards warily, steadying himself against a rapidly spinning room. "There. Now, once more, with feeling."
A moment of tension hung between them, awkward silence building as Phoenix took a deep breath. Squaring his shoulders comically, he drew his brows inward and opened his mouth.
All that rang out, however, were the sounds of the defense attorney's violent heaving into the toilet as his body took advantage of his gaping maw.
They were, however, followed by the laughter of two men brought together by tragedy.
"Well done, Wright! Brush your teeth, and let's get you out of that suit. You smell positively ghastly."
"Right away, Mama Edgeworth."
It was comforting, their banter. Both of them had a lot of growing pains in their tentative friendship, and Phoenix had a feeling that this last case was the final icebreaker between them. Toothpaste foamed at the corners of his lips, purging his cheeks and tongue of bitterness. He finished quickly and rinsed the minty lather from his mouth, feeling a bit refreshed and a little hungry.
In the next room, Edgeworth had removed his suit jacket, cravat, and vest, hanging them neatly on the coat rack at the door. His shoes were tucked neatly together on the welcome mat, and he waited patiently, standing with his hands behind his back. Not caring nearly as much, Phoenix kicked his shoes against the door and left his jacket on the bathroom door handle.
"How are you feeling?"
It was a loaded question, from Miles Edgeworth.
"Exhausted." He offered a small smile. "My head and heart are both pounding. Kinda reminds me of my first case against you, to be honest."
Instead of the quiet chuckle he expected, the prosecutor supplied him with a look of mild shock. "I certainly hope that I didn't cause you to…to vomit?"
"Nearly." He broadened to a grin. "I wouldn't have had it any other way." The man before him turned away uncomfortably, and Phoenix knew that they were in for a long night. "Tea?"
"Ah…yes, that would be nice, thank you."
They settled into a light silence as the defense attorney placed mugs of water into the microwave. Soon, they were steaming merrily, and Phoenix slipped the teabags into the brew, enjoying the minute whirls of color they created. While the beverages steeped, the man in blue began to strip the final remnants of his suit until he remained clad in his boxers. After chucking the garments into a nondescript basket underneath the futon, he removed a pair of sweatpants from a nearby filing cabinet and slipped them on over his boxers.
Deep laughter sounded from across the room, and Phoenix turned to raise an eyebrow at his opponent.
"A filing cabinet, Wright?"
He chuckled. "Well, I do live here, and Mia was always the organized one. As you can see," he motioned toward the papers scattered about his desk, "I don't make much use of these things otherwise. I like to think of it as living under cover. Lawyer by day, slob by night."
Refreshed by the dry, office air conditioning against his chest now, he stretched for a moment and retrieved the mugs he'd set out earlier. The tea was dark and aromatic now, and he offered one to Edgeworth before taking a sip from his own. "We can take it out onto the balcony, if you want. I think some fresh air would feel pretty good right about now."
A nod of approval set his feet in motion toward the sliding glass door. It unlocked and slid aside easily, revealing a rather small, but well-kept balcony on the side of the building. There were three wrought-iron chairs waiting patiently for them, as well as a small table with an ash tray. The sun had long since set, but the stars remained invisible against the glaring light of the city. Phoenix set the ash tray onto the ground to make way for the two mugs before pulling a chair up next to Edgeworth's.
Then, he sat.
The two stared out over the cityscape while minutes rolled by, occasionally marked by the sounds of tea being sipped. One man was lost in thought over his pounding head and feverish body; the other thought only of the past. Soon, the silence grew heavy, and Phoenix decided to speak up and break the awkward tension.
"Where do you think you'd be if you weren't a prosecutor?"
"I mean, besides a defense attorney. If you could be anything you wanted, right now, what would you do?"
Miles Edgeworth, Phoenix noted, had a habit of rubbing his nose when he was considering something.
"I suppose I haven't paid it much thought, I'm afraid." He propped his feet up against the guard rail and leaned back, brushing his bangs from his eyes. "I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was very young." His head turned, and Phoenix found himself trapped within a silvery gaze. "And you?"
"M-me?" He fought to clear his head against the illness and a bemused smile.
"Yes, you, Wright. What did you want to be when you grew up?"
Biting his tongue at the childish question, he cocked his head and turned back to watch the cars zoom by below. "I wanted to be a famous artist."
Edgeworth snorted. "Well, we have certainly seen the result that artistry has had on Larry Butz."
Phoenix smiled, then, and laced his fingers behind his head. "I'd like to think that I'm a bit more competent at drawing than Larry Butz, thank you. I majored in art in college."
His rival seemed amused, and it irritated him a little. "And what did you draw, Mr. Artiste?"
He let silence fall upon them as he recalled his classes, deadlines and finals demanding more and more of his time. He'd always had some project to finish: color wheels, charcoal drawings, sculptures, sketches… His fingers twitched with the memory of vicious cramps during coffee-vamped all-nighters. "People, mostly. Sometimes architecture. I could never really get into the abstract stuff. I got teased a lot, and eventually focused entirely on law."
"Because you wanted to see me again?"
"You're a fool, Wright."
"Perhaps, but I succeeded anyway. Seems to be the story of my life so far."
Again, they laughed together, and Phoenix's spirit soared with the realization that maybe—just maybe—he was getting his friend back. He fiddled with the tab on his teabag as he took a walk down memory lane, but Edgeworth's voice interrupted him before he could recall much.
"What were you teased about?"
"Oh, everything." He chuckled and allowed his partner in court a smile. "After all, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit of a…how would you say it? A foolish fool sometimes."
The prosecutor rolled his eyes, but smirked, and went to sip his tea gingerly.
"Mostly about being gay, though."
Fortunately, the amount of tea that Edgeworth spat onto his knees was minute, beading on the fabric instead of staining it.
Phoenix closed his eyes and smirked, satisfied with the other man's reaction. "Male art majors get kind of a bad rap, really. If it isn't science or sports, it's gay." He sat up straighter, stretching the muscles in his back, and soaked in the look on Edgeworth's face.
"I would be willing to bet a great sum of money on you being quite heterosexual, Wright."
Phoenix grinned, then, having anticipated the conversation. He had always been one to have imaginary conversations in his head, taking a subject and running with it, supplying all of the best lines in case he ever actually found himself in those particular situations.
"Well, that's the question of the hour, isn't it?" Folding his arms, he smirked devilishly at the other man, relishing the feeling of having him pinned for once.
Edgeworth's face was contorted into a suspicious glare. It was exactly the same as the one he used in court when he was unsure of the evidence Phoenix was presenting. "You're not gay."
"You dated Dahlia Hawthorne."
"Ah, yes. Dahlia. Beautiful young woman turned psychotic, vengeful murderer. Framed me for homicide and stalked me for nearly 6 years following. Enough to turn any man gay, wouldn't you agree?"
"Hmph." The prosecutor leaned on an elbow and faced him, then, waggling his finger in the air at Phoenix accusingly. "Prove it, then."
"…Excuse me?" This, you see, had not been part of Phoenix's script.
"You're a defense attorney, aren't you?" Edgeworth smirked, then, confident. "The burden of proof is on your shoulders, Wright."
Phoenix faltered for a moment. Truth be told, he didn't quite know what he was—never had, really. Dahlia (or Iris, he supposed) had been his only girlfriend throughout college, and otherwise he had been quite unlucky romantically. He could appreciate that Miles Edgeworth was an attractive man, but to think about him in an intimate sense…well, it was simply too impossible for Phoenix to even consider.
That being said, he had to do something. Unwilling to allow the prosecutor to call his bluff, Phoenix painted a façade of his own, brushing a stray lock away from his eyes and chuckling. "Alright, but don't say you didn't ask for it."
"What are you talking abou—"
Fisting his fingers into the prosecutor's starched white shirt, Phoenix pulled him in close and crushed a kiss against the other man's lips. While he and Iris had never gone very far in the bedroom, they had shared quite a few passionate kisses, and he called upon that experience to guide him as he nibbled at the man's bottom lip.
Instead of being shoved away, Phoenix noted that Edgeworth's hands made their way into his hair. Encouraged, he licked lightly at the flesh between his teeth, sliding his tongue along another as the prosecutor gasped quietly.
They battled, then, for a moment, fighting deliciously for control of the contact before breaking away with a soft smack. Neither wanted to move from the position; two pairs of swollen lips hovered precariously and trembled with mere millimeters in between them. It had been quick and passionate, masculine, spontaneous. If they moved, they would shatter the moment, and the sheer improbability that it would happen again kept them waiting against each other, cooling moistened flesh with gentle breaths.
After an eternity of waiting, poised, Phoenix reached up and cupped his rival's chin gently. His eyes opened to see that Edgeworth's were still closed, so he brushed his thumb over the man's eyelashes. "Miles, look at me."
Two gray eyes slid open and focused on him warily.
The defense attorney kissed him once more, gently. "First of all, whether I am or I'm not doesn't really matter. I see people, not gender. Second, that was incredible." He paused to take note of the light blush that tinted the man's cheekbones. "And finally, your hands are pulling the hair right around my stitches, and it really, really hurts."
The pressure at his skull immediately vanished, much to his relief, and he sank back into his chair to clear his head. For a moment, he felt like he might be sick again, and he considered leaning over the balcony just in case. It passed, however, and he was left to focus on both his growing migraine and the potential awkwardness he may have just created. Before he could apologize, Edgeworth chuckled quietly.
"You've got quite a great deal of courage, Wright. I'm not sure I would have been able to do the same on the spot, had our situations been reversed." The man turned to him with a comment at his tongue, but paused, noting Phoenix's pale complexion. "Are you alright?"
"Ah, yeah, I guess I'm just not as recovered as I was hoping for. Heh."
He received a sigh and an offered hand for his comment, and accepted, allowing himself to be led back inside. The tea mugs still sat, cold and untouched on the table outside, but he paid them no mind. He watched idly as Edgeworth grabbed the blanket over the back of the futon and tossed it onto the seat. He then folded the frame out with deft hands and proceeded to flap the thick comforter until it sufficiently flattened and spread over the mattress. Phoenix didn't have to be asked twice to slide underneath, and soon his partner was tucking the covers up under the defense attorney's chin.
Beyond the spots in his vision, he noticed that Edgeworth was gathering his suit, tugging on the fitted vest and jacket. He tried to speak through the thick haze clouding his thoughts, but it proved difficult now that he was encased in a warm, soft nest. His mouth moved and his belly grumbled, and he watched as the other man gave him a small salute and turned for the door when he finished. As his eyes grew heavy and nearly too late, he caught the prosecutor on his way out. "Miles?"
The suited prosecutor paused in his actions and turned, stomach flopping uneasily at the sight of a sleepy, disheveled Phoenix Wright.
"This…isn't going to make things awkward, is it? Between us?"
He chuckled, then, and turned, calling over his shoulder to the ailing man. "Relax, Phoenix. Get some sleep, and trust your instincts. You may be surprised at the outcome."
He shut the door slowly on purpose so that he might catch any final parting comments. Luckily, his ears picked up on an irritated mumbling just as the door clicked shut:
"Always speakin' in damned riddles… Brilliant bastard."
His smile stayed with him for days.