Prologue

Before Miles came along, Phoenix and Larry spent countless days up in the branches of Phoenix's treehouse, reading comic books and telling stories and generally goofing around. The creaky wooden structure was filled with the treasures of young boys: bugs in jars on the floor, wrinkled posters of cartoon superheroes tacked to the walls, action figures and candy stashed in the corners. Though abandoned during the sharp freeze of winter, the rest of the year the two boys laughed away the afternoons in their fortress.

They added a new member to their private kingdom after the fourth grade class trial. Phoenix spent the following week befriending his defender, with the questionable assistance of Larry. Eventually he convinced Miles to visit the treehouse. Amidst grumblings about dirt and safety and lack of supervision, Phoenix caught the gleam in the young boy's grey eyes as he finished climbing the ladder and looked inside.

"This is like a private office," he declared, setting his book bag neatly against the wall and surveying the contents inside with interest.

"It's our super-secret hideout!" Larry threw his fist in the air and opened his palm wide. "Just like Laser-Man! Shoom, pew, ksss!" He darted his hand all around, shooting pretend lasers at the walls.

Phoenix rolled his eyes and smiled at Miles. "It's old, but strong. Larry and I have hung out in here since we were little."

"It's… charming?" Miles offered, ignoring Larry's sound effects.

Phoenix made a face and laughed darkly. "Charming? That's what my grandmother calls those stupid unicorn figurines she collects."

Miles reddened and looked down at the floor. "I didn't mean it like that. I'm sorry I insulted you. Maybe I should just go." He picked up his bag and started backing up toward the ladder.

Phoenix darted forward and caught his hand. "Miles! Wait! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh." He tugged, dragging his friend back inside. "I know what you meant, and I'm glad you like it." He chewed his lip a bit, pulling it in at the corner. "Right?"

"Miiiiles, don't go!" Larry dashed to the far corner and brought back a slightly melted chocolate bar. "Here, you can have this! Me and Nick have lots of cool stuff up here. Lemme show you my Explodo Man – he has real bomb-throwing action, just like on T.V."

Slightly bewildered, Miles just looked at Phoenix.

Phoenix kept biting at his lip. "What do you think?"

Miles straightened. "Phoenix, your treehouse is… great?" he finished lamely.

A wide grin broke out across Phoenix's face.

After that, the treehouse became the de facto meeting place for the three of them after school.

Miles introduced proper books to the collection of comics, enticing the others with adventures like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe and, one memorable week, Lord of the Flies. He and Phoenix had spent the next few days listening to Larry's futile efforts at blowing into a tiny conch shell and ignoring his protests that since he had the shell he was the king and they had to obey him.

Phoenix brought some board games to the treehouse, excited to finally have more than just Larry to play them with. Monopoly was swiftly banned after neither he nor Larry could beat Miles, whose ruthless insistence on always collecting rent had resulted in one too many near-fights.

Larry didn't change anything about the treehouse; he just added Miles into his made-up games.

One December afternoon, with the cold wind shaking the branches and threatening the arrival of winter, Larry gathered them close to tell them about a new game he heard some of the fifth graders playing.

"It's called 'Gay Chicken.' Two people play it, and you're supposed to get as close as you can to the other." Larry held his hands up in front of him, palms moving closer together as he demonstrated.

Phoenix leaned back. "That doesn't sound very fun."

"You gotta let me finish explaining! See, one guy and another guy have to sit across from each other and act like they're gonna kiss. The first one to get scared and move away is the loser."

"On the mouth? Like a real kiss?" Phoenix looked mildly intrigued.

"Yeah, like you're supposed to do with girls and stuff!" Larry nodded eagerly, excited that one of them seemed to be warming to the idea.

"What's the point of a game like that?" Miles frowned.

"To see who's braver! The loser's a gay chicken!"

He was met with two blank stares.

"Come on! We gotta know who's the bravest! Nick, you and I go first."

"Um, okay." Phoenix scooted around until he was sitting cross-legged in front of Larry.

Larry motioned Miles over. "Miles, you get to be the judge. You watch us and tell us who moves away first."

Miles continued to frown, but moved as requested.

"Okay then, Nick, you're going down! Start moving on the count of three. One… two… three!"

Larry squinted his eyes shut, pursed out his lips, and quickly shot forward. Phoenix started to move, but halted. Larry looked too much like some crazed fish monster. He ducked his head to the side, leaving Larry to fall into his lap.

It didn't matter to Larry. He promptly jumped to his feet and lifted his arms in victory. "I won! I won! You're a gay chicken, Nick!" His footsteps echoed on the wood as he ran in circles.

"That wasn't fair, Larry. You looked all weird." It had happened too fast, and Phoenix worried at his bottom lip, refusing to look up.

"Was too fair, and you lost! I'm the bravest, and you're a scaredy loser. Looooser! Looooser!"

"Sh-shut up Larry!" Phoenix felt his eyes starting to tear up, stinging with humiliation. Larry's mocking reminded him of the class trial, their peers' chants of thief thief thief and sing-songy liiiiar echoing in his head.

"I'm the bravest, admit it Nick!"

"You're a jerk, Larry," Phoenix muttered quietly. He stared at his feet and wished Larry would stop tormenting him.

"Actually Larry," Miles's loud voice was startling, "that's not entirely true." He wagged his finger and shook his head.

"Whaddaya mean?" Larry pouted, upset at having his title called into question.

"It's simple logic. We don't know if you're the bravest of us, Larry, because I haven't… played yet." Miles looked at Phoenix and flushed. "And Phoenix should have a chance to redeem himself." Phoenix stared back, feeling his own face heat up.

"Hmm, you're right," Larry nodded sagely. "You and Nick play, and if he loses then he's definitely a gay chicken. And if you win then you and I will play to see who's the bravest."

Miles grimaced at the last part of that speech, but Larry's attention had already turned to Phoenix. "Okay, so you and Miles sit across from each other now and I'll be the judge."

Phoenix shuffled over, watching Miles carefully as he settled across from him. "You don't have to do this."

"It's all right. This is your second chance. But that doesn't mean I'll go easy on you." A strange, fierce look crossed Miles's features as he faced Phoenix. "I may play fair, but I play to win."

Phoenix grinned for the first time since Larry brought them into the treehouse. "Then so will I."

Larry plopped down next to them. "All right, on the count of three. One… two… three!"

Neither of them moved.

"If you don't play, then I win by default!" Larry reminded them.

Slowly, they leaned forward. They watched each other warily, grey eyes staring intently into blue.

This isn't weird, is it? Phoenix reminded himself that he kissed his family all the time, and Larry and Miles were as good as family too, right? But Larry said this was supposed to be like a real kiss, and those were special, weren't they? He was curious about those. Larry's fish-face weirded him out, but Miles…

Miles clenched his jaw, his face growing redder as they inched closer. His gaze flickered between Phoenix's eyes and mouth.

They leaned nearer still, and Phoenix felt his heart speed up. In a surge of courage he shut his eyes and closed the distance between them.

They both fell still as their lips pressed together, meeting in a dry, chaste kiss.

After a few oddly timeless seconds, they pulled apart. Phoenix opened his eyes and caught Miles's own blinking slowly open. He felt like his heart was about to burst out of his chest, and he wasn't quite sure why.

"Ummm…" Larry broke the uncomfortable silence. "I don't… I dunno what happens if… I mean, neither of you moved away, so I don't really know who won…" He stared at the two of them, dumbfounded.

"It doesn't matter." Phoenix tore his eyes away from Miles. He didn't want Larry to talk about the game anymore. "Let's go inside and get hot chocolate. There's a new episode of Laser-Man on."

"All right! Let's go watch!" In a flurry of movement, oblivious to the tension and the game promptly forgotten, Larry left the treehouse.

Phoenix laughed softly, then louder as he slowly got to his feet and offered his hand. Miles frowned at him, wondering if Phoenix was laughing at him or if he had lost his mind.

"Come on, let's go in," he said, pulling Miles up. After they climbed down the ladder, he reached over and grabbed Miles's hand again, holding tightly and not letting go until a hot mug busied his fingers. Phoenix looked over at Miles, unsure if the warm feeling spreading through him was from the cocoa or from something else.

"Miles, I… I'm glad you didn't move away either." Chocolate mustache decorating his lips, Phoenix smiled at Miles over the rim of his cup.

A moment later, Miles smiled back.


Seventeen years later

Though the December weather was unusually cold this year, Phoenix was relieved to be out of the courtroom. The last trial had been brutal; he had managed to get his client acquitted of murder only by the skin of his teeth. However, she had been far from innocent and arrangements were being made to try her on assault. He was happy to wash his hands of the affair.

Maya twirled around the lobby with Pearl, thanking all of the witnesses who had helped, and insisted to Phoenix that they go celebrate. As usual she called for burgers, and Gumshoe had suggested a sports bar known for their grill. The detective was always eager to join their meals; Phoenix suspected they provided a welcome change from his usual dollar-store ramen.

Maya's eyes sparkled in anticipation, and she and Pearl began deciding what to eat – even without a menu, Phoenix noted, fearing for his wallet's safety. Larry also insisted on joining them and said it would be a good chance for everyone to meet his new girlfriend.

As the group made their way out of the lobby, Phoenix looked over at Edgeworth. He shrugged at his friend and grinned sheepishly. "Wanna come?"

"I don't believe I would enjoy myself at a 'sports bar,' Wright. Besides, I have work to do."

"Come on. It's not a celebration without you, and you helped so much on this case. My treat?"

Edgeworth raised a brow and scoffed. "Your treat? I may have to join you just to see from where you magic the money to pay for the meal."

Phoenix smirked as they walked past the doors. "Nothing like a poor man bribing a rich one. Glad I could amuse you, Edgeworth. Isn't there a German word for this? Chowder-friend or something?"

Edgeworth made an odd noise as he stifled a laugh. Phoenix suspected he had said something foolish, but decided it was worth it for that reaction. "I believe you mean Schadenfreude, Wright. Taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. But I don't think it truly applies in this case."

"You should teach that word to Maya. She certainly takes pleasure in my wallet's misfortune."

They reached the parking lot; arrangements were made to follow Gumshoe to the bar. Larry peeled off after the detective while Phoenix and the Feys piled into Edgeworth's flashy car.

The bar was more welcoming than Phoenix expected, with dark-paneled wood and framed posters of various sports stars decorating the walls. The group was seated in a round booth in a corner, one of the only tables large enough to accommodate them. Edgeworth seemed a bit uncomfortable in such a setting but dutifully slid in, flanked by Larry and Pearl.

While Gumshoe and Maya debated how thoroughly burgers should be cooked to taste the best, a tall young woman in shorts and a tank top joined their table. Larry immediately embraced her and began introductions.

"I'm so glad you're here! Charlene, baby, meet everyone."

"Hi everyone." Charlene smiled as she sat next to Larry. He put his arm around her and grinned like an idiot.

The bar gathered quite a crowd during dinner, with large throngs of people dressed in jerseys and team tee-shirts congregating near the large-screen television sets. Speaking over the noise, the group talked about the just completed trial, with Larry proudly bragging to his girlfriend about being a star witness. Phoenix didn't have the heart to tell him that his testimony had been near useless; Charlene looked so proud of him.

Larry kept trying to steal a kiss from her during the meal, but she rebuffed him each time. "Later," she said, playfully pushing his hands away. She looked over at Pearl and said, "And not in front of children."

Pearl clasped her hands together and looked at the two, eyes wide with adoration. "It's all right Miss Charlene," she said. "You're supposed to be happy with your Special Someone."

"See? Little Pearly's okay with it." Larry, vindicated, quickly kissed Charlene on the cheek. "She's definitely my Special Someone. We had our first kiss last week!" Charlene blushed.

Gumshoe looked thoughtful. "First kiss, huh? I remember mine. I was thirteen and she slapped me afterward, but then we went out for a month."

Pearl frowned in confusion. "But, you're not supposed to slap your Special Someone, right Mystic Maya? Did you slap Mr. Nick after your first kiss?"

Phoenix tried to melt into the booth, shaking his head furiously at the glares sent his way. Maya just rolled her eyes. "Pearls, how many times do I have to tell you that Mr. Nick and I aren't Special Someones? We've never kissed. Besides, I had my first kiss with Billy in Kurain a couple years ago."

Even Phoenix couldn't stop his head from snapping around to look at Maya.

"What?" she asked. "He had the limited edition holographic foil Steel Samurai collectible card. I traded him a kiss for it. I thought I got the better deal." She shrugged, then began to wilt under the continued stares. She cast her eyes around the table, desperate for a distraction, and settled on Edgeworth.

"What about you, Mr. Edgeworth?" She grinned deviously. "Who was your first kiss?"

Edgeworth's eyes slid over to Phoenix, meeting his blue ones briefly, before he quickly ducked his head. "I don't believe that is anyone's business but my own, Miss Fey."

"Oh come on! We're all sharing here, loosen up."

He grimaced. "Miss Fey, I would prefer to keep that knowledge to myself." Trapped in the booth, he gave the remains on his plate his undivided attention.

"I bet it was with a European model. Or maybe another prosecutor." Her smile turned cunning. "Or maybe-"

She was interrupted by a large cheer erupting from the crowd.

"Why are they yelling, Mystic Maya?" Pearl looked a little frightened.

"They're excited about the basketball game," Charlene gestured toward the screen. "Our team is winning."

"Base-kit-ball? What kind of game is that?" Her fright turned to intrigue.

Gumshoe piped up. "Well, there's two teams and they each try to bounce a ball down the court and throw it through a hoop. The team who does that the most wins."

"Oh," she said. She bit her thumb and turned to Maya. "Can we watch?"

"Sure! It looks like it's almost over anyway. Let's go see the end."

The group piled out of the booth and headed for the biggest screen, leaving only Phoenix and Edgeworth behind. Maya turned back. "Aren't you two coming?"

Phoenix shook his head. "Nah, I'll stay here and chat with Edgeworth. I think the yelling will let me know if we win or lose." She gave him a shrewd look before nodding and hurried after the others.

Phoenix scooted over to sit next to Edgeworth, who finally looked up from his plate. "You should join them, Wright. I need to be leaving anyway." He started to inch his way across the obnoxious vinyl.

"It was me, wasn't it?"

Edgeworth stopped, stiffening, and sighed. Phoenix leaned in closer. "Your first kiss, I mean. It was with me, right? That time in the treehouse?"

Edgeworth stared hard at Phoenix for a moment, searching his eyes for something – Phoenix couldn't tell just what – before reluctantly nodding. "If you insist on knowing, Wright, then yes, it was with… you."

"I thought so." He smiled triumphantly and leaned his elbow on the table. "Just so we're even, that was my first time, too. You were my first kiss."

Despite the noise in the bar, the air around the two lawyers grew quiet and still. "Larry and his foolish games," Edgeworth said softly, lips turned in an almost-smile.

"I'm glad you remember," Phoenix said. "We had so much fun back then, didn't we?"

Edgeworth looked up. "They were some of the happiest moments of my life."

Phoenix flushed at the admission, feeling the weight behind those words. He knew that his friend had gone through some horrible times, but hoped the last couple of years had repaired some of the damage. Edgeworth certainly seemed a bit more open.

"We didn't play in the treehouse much after you were gone. It just didn't feel right," he said.

"I'm sorry to hear that."

Phoenix idly traced invisible patterns on the table, a lifetime of memories swirling across his thoughts: sobbing over a lost friend, shock at seeing familiar grey bangs in the paper with the word 'Demon' printed beneath, letters hastily mailed one after another with no response, filling out the change of major paperwork… And then his thoughts scaled back to Larry's taunting and slowly leaning forward toward young grey eyes and the feeling of his lips pressing against-

"Is it still intact?"

He was startled out of his reverie to meet those same grey eyes, older but still just as intense. "The treehouse? Yeah, it's still there. Probably falling apart by now, though."

"Hmm." Edgeworth had a far-away look on his face, and Phoenix felt his pulse grow a bit faster.

As a child, he did not understand the thrill that had chased though him when he looked at Miles after that day in the treehouse. Only when he started writing the letters was he able to interpret those feelings with the knowledge that came from surviving adolescence. And those same feelings – admiration, excitement, and most of all, love – had driven his search. He had never revealed to Edgeworth precisely why he had chased after him, for fear of adding to his troubled friend's burdens.

Seventeen years, filled with nightmares and sorrow and fleeting moments of joy. Shouldn't it all get balanced out somehow?

Can I let him know now?

"Edgeworth." He had the prosecutor's attention again, and before he could second-guess himself Phoenix plowed ahead. "We could go visit it again sometime. Relive some memories," he said slowly, pointedly, looking his friend in the eye and praying Edgeworth would understand what he was asking. To emphasize his meaning, he stole his hand under the table and found Edgeworth's. "If you'd like." He put on his brightest smile and waited nervously.

Edgeworth blinked in surprise and glanced at his hand, buried beneath Phoenix's, but he gave no response. Something unreadable was in his gaze and Phoenix didn't know what to make of it.

The weird tension was interrupted by the arrival of the check, and he quickly let go. Edgeworth made no move but kept watching with that calculating stare, and Phoenix started to regret saying anything at all.

True to his word, Phoenix paid the bill in full. "Gonna have to keep Maya away from this now – it's officially on a diet," he said, tucking his wallet away. Unfortunately, the attempt at humor failed to break the awkwardness.

A moment later the crowd roared and a smiling Maya led the group back to the table. "We won!"

"Go team," Phoenix answered wryly, thankful for the diversion. He couldn't look properly at Edgeworth anymore, feeling as though he had made a fool of himself.

They joined the other patrons filing out the door, and Maya and Pearl paused outside to give Phoenix farewell hugs. He was mildly concerned at how late they were heading back to the village, but he knew Maya could take care of herself as well as her cousin. He fished out some bills to cover their fares.

"Come on Pearls, let's go take the bus." Maya looked up at the sky, where dark rain-filled clouds blocked the last rays of the sun and threatened to pour at any moment. "I hope it gets here before it rains."

"Are you going back to Kurain? Please, allow me to take you to the train station," Edgeworth offered. As the girls once again clambered into the backseat, Edgeworth paused at his door and jerked his head at Phoenix. "Coming, Wright?" Phoenix, relieved at finally being spoken to, hoped this was a good sign.

Maya and Pearl chattered happily about the basketball game in the back during the short drive. At the station the two girls hurried onto the train, ducking the cold, fat drops trickling from the sky and waving madly at the lawyers from their window.

Alone in the car, neither spoke as Edgeworth drove to Phoenix's apartment. The prosecutor's brows were drawn together, eyes firmly focused on the road, and Phoenix couldn't tell what he was thinking or even how he felt.

But he could still recall the warmth of Edgeworth's hand beneath his own.

As they pulled into the parking lot, the sky finally broke open and the deluge roared outside around them. Phoenix sighed, breaking the quiet inside as he unbuckled. "Do you mind if I wait a few minutes for it to calm down a little? Or, can I borrow your umbrella?"

Edgeworth shook his head. "The weather prediction was remarkably off this morning, so I do not have mine with me." He shifted into park and also unbuckled. "So waiting it is." Silence descended once more between them, and Phoenix watched the rain fall harshly against the windows.

"Phoenix." Edgeworth looked uncomfortable as he forced his friend's name out. "Would you mind if I asked you a… personal question?"

Phoenix raised his eyebrows, startled at Edgeworth's rare use of his first name. "You can ask me anything."

"Do you ever regret it?" At Phoenix's puzzled look, he tried to elaborate. "Our- Your first kiss."

"What is there to regret?"

His brows drew together as he tried to explain. "Does it bother you that your first kiss was with a boy?"

"Instead of with a girl? No. I never really dated much, just the one serious girl in college. She didn't seem to care either." Phoenix frowned. "Why? Does it bother you?"

Edgeworth shook his head. "No. That time was my first indication I might not be interested in relationships with women." He looked sharply at Phoenix, gauging his reaction.

Phoenix blinked. Is he saying… what I think he is?

His heart raced at the look on Edgeworth's face, almost like the one he wore all those years ago in the treehouse. The same well of courage bubbled up inside, filling him with conviction.

Hasn't it been long enough?

He drew in a breath and leaned across the center of the car. "You know, there is one thing I regret about that kiss."

Edgeworth's face fell, stoic mask slipping. "And that is?" he asked, wary.

Phoenix beckoned Edgeworth closer and moved next to his ear. "That I had to wait seventeen years to do it again," he whispered, voice low and intense.

Edgeworth drew back to look at Phoenix, eyes wide with surprise. "What do-"

Phoenix stole his hand around the back of Edgeworth's neck and pulled him forward, crashing their lips together.

They were completely still for a moment, like they were that day so long ago, and then all at once they both began moving wildly against each other.

Finally.

Phoenix pressed hard against Edgeworth's mouth, years of longing and newfound elation blanking all rational thought. He brought his other hand up to Edgeworth's cheek, brushing across the ever-so-slight stubble, and ran it through the silvery bangs. Phoenix made a low noise of pleasure, mouth dropping open, and Edgeworth pressed the advantage. They both groaned as their tongues met, slipping across each other and deepening the kiss.

Eventually their lungs demanded air and they parted with reluctance, breaths coming in heavy pants. Phoenix tried to undo the cravat around Edgeworth's neck, pressing wet kisses along the prosecutor's jaw as he struggled with the knot. He nearly fell over out of his seat as he maneuvered and realized that though the sports car might be comfortable to drive in, it was not conducive to more amorous activities.

"Come inside," he murmured against Edgeworth's throat, breath warm against his skin.

"Wright." Edgeworth's voice held a note of protest. "We should… discuss this."

"Then come inside," Phoenix repeated. He trailed his tongue past Edgeworth's jaw and licked along the shell of his ear. Edgeworth shivered and buried his face in Phoenix's neck, nipping at the sensitive skin.

Phoenix pulled back just enough to give Edgeworth a devious grin. "I'll make you some hot chocolate."

Edgeworth blinked, obviously not expecting such a simple offer; a moment later Phoenix saw the wheels click, the memory sliding into place with a smirk. After a silent countdown, they threw open the doors and dashed through the freezing downpour.

Despite their rush, they were both utterly soaked to the bone when they reached the third floor door. Phoenix unlocked it and threw the keys and his wallet on the front table, then swiftly pinned Edgeworth back against the door and tried to resume their kiss, heedless of the water they were dripping onto the carpet.

"Wright, wait," Edgeworth said, holding his palm against Phoenix's chest to keep him back. "We'll end up sick if we don't get out of these wet clothes." Phoenix raised an eyebrow at Edgeworth's choice of words, earning him a glower.

He led the prosecutor to the bathroom, grabbed a towel for himself and threw a fluffier one at Edgeworth. "Here, dry off with this. Let me go change, and I'll find something for you."

"Do you have a robe?" Edgeworth asked as the door clicked shut.

"No. Just wear something of mine until your suit dries."

"Dries? I think this suit is ruined beyond repair now." His voice was muffled over the rustling of fabric, and Phoenix flushed, trying not to think of his friend stripping down.

"I'll make it up to you," he called back as he headed for his bedroom. He threw his wet clothes into the empty hamper and quickly dried off. He was grateful for the apartment's warmth as he pulled out his old black Ivy U. sweatpants from the dresser and slipped them on. He pushed his hair back into some semblance of its usual style; the damp spikes were drooping a bit and some of the shorter hairs escaped, softening the look. Not bothering with a shirt, he padded barefoot back to the bathroom door.

"Closet's open when you're ready, so wear whatever you want. I'll be in the kitchen. Just don't go through any of my dirty laundry," he smirked.

He laughed over Edgeworth's indignant response as he walked down the hallway.

The cocoa was hidden deep in the recesses of one of his cabinets – probably why Maya and Pearl haven't finished it all yet, he realized – and busied himself preparing two mugs. The rain beat against the windows, rhythm soothing, and the branches from the nearby trees shifted madly in the wind, cradling the apartment. He wondered if Edgeworth still preferred his drink without marshmallows as he poured in the hot milk, and decided to leave them out.

He turned as he heard Edgeworth enter the kitchen, eyes immediately raking over Edgeworth's new clothes. He had picked out a simple pair of slacks and a dark blue button-up shirt – far more casual attire than anything Phoenix had ever seen him in before. The fabric hugged him awkwardly in a few places, but overall fit rather well. Phoenix relished the delightful churn his stomach gave at seeing the prosecutor wearing his clothes.

He caught Edgeworth looking him over as well, and saw a faint flush spread across his cheeks. "Shouldn't you put something more on?" he asked, brushing his fingers through semi-dry bangs.

Phoenix shrugged. "My place. I can wear as much as I want." He pushed one of the mugs into Edgeworth's hands. "Here you go."

He leaned back against the counter, sipping at his cup and watching. Edgeworth's eyes crinkled as he tasted the chocolate. "Not bad, Wright."

Phoenix nodded. He waited for Edgeworth to say something, the two of them drinking in awkward silence, but after a few minutes it became obvious that Edgeworth was waiting for him to go first. He sighed and set his cocoa aside. "I missed you, you know."

Edgeworth raised a brow. "At which time?"

"All of them. When you disappeared in fourth grade, when you wouldn't answer me in college, even after your ridiculous note."

Edgeworth lowered his head. "I… never forgot you," he said quietly. "I have tried to bury and forget many things in my life, but somehow I could never rid myself of the thought of you. You've always inspired such…"

"Unnecessary feelings?"

Edgeworth gave a rueful smile. "Among other things."

Phoenix shuffled across the kitchen floor. "I was thinking about what you said in the car. You want to know if I have any interest in relationships with men."

Edgeworth said nothing, but Phoenix saw him nod almost imperceptibly.

"The truth is, I haven't really. I like girls fine and all, and never paid much attention to men. But then there's you." He met Edgeworth's darkened eyes. "There's always been you." It was as close to a confession as he could bring himself to make.

Edgeworth tilted his head. "I don't know what to make of that, Wright." He frowned. "And I don't know if a relationship with you would be feasible."

"Why not?"

"Our professions, for one. Think of the scandal that could be caused if word were spread."

"I don't care."

"I will return to Europe soon. I don't know when I will be back. The distance would make things difficult."

"We'll work it out."

"We already have a significant friendship, Wright. This would complicate matters."

"That's all right."

"You are willing to risk changing how things are now?"

"Miles." Phoenix brushed his hand against Edgeworth's, silencing his objections. "I'm not afraid." He ducked his head and very slowly brought his lips in line with the prosecutor's, giving him time to move away. He came close enough to feel Edgeworth's warm breath against his face, saw his mouth open slightly.

His lips brushed against Edgeworth's lightly as he spoke. "Are you afraid? Afraid of getting closer to me?" He pulled back, saw Edgeworth's eyes flicker open, brows drawing together in irritation at being denied the kiss.

Phoenix smirked. "Should I bring Larry over to call you a gay chicken?"

Edgeworth blinked, looked at Phoenix as though he had grown a second head; then he chuckled, the sound low and rich. He lifted his free hand to cup Phoenix's cheek and pull him back. There was a fierce light in his eyes, like when he latched on to a lead in the courtroom, filled with determination.

"I don't believe that will be needed," he said, and hungrily claimed the attorney's mouth.

Phoenix moaned into the kiss, little shivers shooting down his spine. Edgeworth's hair tickled the sides of his face, and he felt the prosecutor's fingers sifting through his damp spikes. After a few heated moments, Phoenix broke away. "Are you sure?" he asked, panting.

"I suppose I am… willing to try," Edgeworth answered, one side of his mouth turning up in a smirk.

Phoenix felt his heart soar, and he lunged for the prosecutor again. The taste of the hot chocolate lingered in their mouths, mingling wonderfully with Edgeworth's own flavor. He briefly worried that his memory of their innocent kiss, of childish affections shared over cocoa, was becoming corrupted by their very grown-up embrace.

Phoenix felt Edgeworth's hands trailing slowly down his bare back, tracing the contours of his muscles, and he groaned. The hands felt rough on his skin, not overly calloused but definitely harder than the softer touch he was used to. The difference was exhilarating.

He moved his own hands to Edgeworth's front and started working on the blue shirt. Some part of him was amused at having to undo his own buttons – they're backwards – but the rest of him was impatient to get to Edgeworth's skin. He pushed the two halves of the shirt aside and ran his palms against the uncovered torso, pale and smooth and surprisingly toned in the kitchen light. He lightly brushed his thumbs over dusky nipples and delighted at Edgeworth's sharp gasp.

Eyes hooded, Phoenix pulled away and he dragged the prosecutor down the hall. Edgeworth stopped him at the bedroom door.

"Are you sure?" he asked, echoing Phoenix's words. There was a tightness to his voice, as though it pained him to ask, and Phoenix realized just how much Edgeworth truly wanted this. He nodded as he kicked his door open.

Edgeworth still looked uncertain. "You've never-"

"I'm willing to try."

Edgeworth made a low noise, almost like a growl, at his response. He kissed Phoenix once more and guided him into the room. Phoenix moved backwards, heedless of where his feet were headed, until his back thumped against the wall. Edgeworth pressed in close, and Phoenix could feel their arousals rubbing against each other. He groaned, pleasure spiking through him.

Edgeworth grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around, making Phoenix face the bedroom wall. He felt Edgeworth's arms snake around his torso and he lifted his own hands to the wall, balancing himself between it and Edgeworth's warmth at his back. Edgeworth roamed his hands around Phoenix's chest as he pressed his lips between his shoulder blades. He dragged those lips up his spine, licking at the back of Phoenix's neck and lapping at the stray drops of water from his still-drying hair.

Phoenix shivered as Edgeworth reached the junction where his neck met his shoulder, nibbling at the skin. The hands on his chest slid over to his nipples, brushing and teasing and pinching lightly, and Edgeworth bit down; Phoenix made a muffled noise and his arms slipped on the wall.

Without warning the hands and mouth left him, and Phoenix heard the soft sound of fabric hitting the floor behind him. Before he could turn his head to look, he felt his sweatpants slip past his kneels and pool around his ankles, the sudden chill causing goosebumps to spread across his flesh.

Edgeworth leaned in again, his naked skin flush against Phoenix's back. Phoenix could feel the hardness at his lower back, pressing just above the cleft of his ass, and he couldn't help tensing a bit in nervousness.

Edgeworth's hands caressed Phoenix's sides, soothing, fingertips moving slowly past each rib. They slid around to his stomach, rubbing at the muscles and teasing his navel. Phoenix held his breath as Edgeworth crept downward, trailing through the light hairs, and silently urged him to hurry, keep going, please just a little more…

"Phoenix," Edgeworth breathed against his ear, voice thick and low, as he finally wrapped his long fingers around the attorney's straining cock. Phoenix let out a strangled groan and his eyes grew wide; the feeling of his friend, his rival, the person he trusted more than any other and the one he'd chased after for years touching him so intimately was almost too much to handle.

And then Edgeworth started to move.

He tunneled his fist and pumped slowly, his pulls long and languorous, and listened to Phoenix's gasps. He moved his free hand back to Phoenix's chest and rubbed at the tight muscles. Phoenix let his head drop back onto Edgeworth's shoulder, mouth hanging open and eyes closed in pleasure.

"Do you know how long I've wanted to do this?" Edgeworth asked, squeezing just a little tighter and drawing a moan from Phoenix. "How many times I've pictured this moment?"

"No," Phoenix whispered, amazed at the effort it took to form that one little word.

"Alone in Germany, with nothing but my imagination and the memory of your kiss and the guilt for sullying such an innocent moment with the urges of puberty," Edgeworth panted. He brought his hand to the tip of Phoenix's cock, found the liquid gathering in the slit, and spread it around the head. He trailed his fingertips up and down the length of the shaft, teasing mercilessly.

"And again when you so suddenly reappeared in my life, all grown-up." He resumed stroking, speed picking up, and lowered his head next to Phoenix's and pressed a wet kiss to his jaw.

"Thoughts of you on your knees, licking and sucking, so eager. Or spread out before me, hot and tight and willing. Or taking you against the wall, fast and hard." He rocked into Phoenix's back, emphasizing his last fantasy.

His hot breath drifted across Phoenix's ears, painting enticing images. "The taste of you, hearing you groan, begging for more. Watching you writhe as I bury myself in you, making you moan my name." Phoenix was breathing hard, bucking into the tight hand, and he felt Edgeworth grinding against his back. Their speed was growing frantic.

"Or perhaps you would take me. Hold me down as you pressed inside, make me scream in pleasure."

Phoenix wondered how much more he could hear before he came at Edgeworth's words alone. To think that the prosecutor, so eloquent in court, so careful with his words, could let such wonderful, dirty things slip past his lips in Phoenix's own bedroom…

He decided it was time to take a more active role before Edgeworth could make him completely crazy, and he let his hands slide off the wall as he turned in Edgeworth's grasp. He captured those lips in a searing kiss and stumbled toward the bed, then pushed the prosecutor onto the covers and climbed after him.

"Can't let you have all the fun," he grinned, hovering above and drinking in the sight of Edgeworth, flushed and panting and covered in a light sheen of sweat.

Settling between Edgeworth's knees, Phoenix pressed his mouth against the pale throat, kissing over the Adam's apple and moving down. He trailed his tongue down the line of that smooth, hard chest, savoring the bright taste of Edgeworth's skin. He gave a tentative lick to one of the pert nipples and heard a low moan in return. Smirking, he broadened his tongue and repeated the motion, slow and torturous, over and over as Edgeworth clutched at his back and ground into him. He lavished the same attention on the other nipple, and he could hear Edgeworth's keening voice slipping into different languages as he panted.

Immensely satisfied, Phoenix dragged his hands down the length of Edgeworth's torso in broad sweeps, trying to touch as much of him as he could. The prosecutor's voice died down as Phoenix shifted down the bed and met his gaze, eyes glinting in the low light, and Edgeworth licked his lips, waiting. Phoenix finally looked down at Edgeworth's cock, long and slender, jutting out from a nest of silver curls. Some small part of him felt embarrassed to be staring at another man's groin, but he mostly felt eager to discover what would make Edgeworth feel good.

He ran his palm over the length of it, Edgeworth hissing in quietly, and rubbed lightly. He circled his fingers around and pulled slowly, learning how it felt different from his own member. He looked up at Edgeworth, enjoyed watching his normally stern expression go slack with bliss or twitch in pleasure.

After a few more strokes he felt the urge to do something more, and he stilled his hand.

Edgeworth gave an aggravated groan, but stopped as he caught the intense expression on the attorney's face. Phoenix leaned down and carefully pressed his lips to the base of Edgeworth's cock.

Edgeworth's eyes went wide. "Wright… you don't have to-" He was cut off by his own strangled gasp as Phoenix ran his tongue over the length of his arousal. Keeping his gaze locked with Edgeworth's, he gently tilted the prosecutor's cock toward his mouth and slipped his lips over the head.

The sound of Edgeworth's moans, rich baritone voice echoing loudly, was worth the strangeness and slight discomfort. Phoenix breathed sharply through his nose, trying to relax his jaw, and slowly worked his way around the length; he managed to get halfway down and wrapped his hand around the rest. He tried to remember what felt good for him and started swirling his tongue around.

The taste in his mouth was overwhelming, musky and masculine. Being on the 'giving' end of this act was strangely exciting, and he felt his confidence grow as each new move – a light graze of teeth, dragging his lips along the shaft, even briefly ducking down and licking at the swollen balls beneath – tore away at the prosecutor's restraint.

He swallowed thickly as he finally started to bob his head up and down. Edgeworth clutched at Phoenix's hair, guiding his movements and mumbling incoherent snatches of encouragement. Phoenix hollowed his cheeks and sucked, trying to build up a steady rhythm.

After what seemed like ages, Edgeworth shifted, tugging at Phoenix's head. "Wright," he said, voice strained, "if you keep going I won't be able to hold out much longer." Phoenix gave one final, slow lick and moved up next to Edgeworth, and absently wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand.

Edgeworth ran his fingers over Phoenix's lips, red and swollen from the friction, and swiftly kissed him, hard. "You…" he said, something warm and unbelieving in his voice as he kissed down Phoenix's neck, pulling him in close.

They lay fully against each other, skin hot and flushed, and Phoenix arched into Edgeworth, groaning with pleasure as their lengths rubbed together. He rolled on top and ground his hips down, seeking more of that wonderful sensation. He was lost in the feeling as they pressed together, moving harder and faster, until Edgeworth finally slowed their grinding.

"How do you want to do this?" he asked, placing his hands on Phoenix's chest and rubbing lightly.

The question caught Phoenix by surprise. "I don't really know. You're the expert here."

Edgeworth smirked. "Do you have any sort of… lubrication?"

Phoenix flushed, but he leaned over and fumbled at his nightstand drawer. He found some supplies, purchased years ago in a fit of optimism, and threw them onto the bed.

Phoenix struggled with the foil condom packet, but Edgeworth took it from his hands before he could open it and gently pushed Phoenix back. "I'll show you how," he murmured, flipping open the bottle of lube and spreading a generous amount over his fingers. "You'll have to be stretched first." He drifted his hand over Phoenix's stomach, between his legs, and skirted his fingers across Phoenix's entrance. Phoenix flinched at the unfamiliar touch.

"You need to relax," Edgeworth said, voice soft but stern. "It may feel uncomfortable and hurt a bit, but soon it will feel good." Phoenix scrunched his eyes shut as he fully realized what was about to happen – what he was about to let Edgeworth do – and he fought the urge to tense up and move away.

"Just stay relaxed. Phoenix…" Edgeworth used his free hand to stroke along Phoenix's sides, trying to calm him. "Please, trust me."

He opened his eyes and was surprised to see Edgeworth staring back at him, his expression a wonderful mixture of lust, affection, and yes, trust. His heart swelled with emotion, and Phoenix knew that he would do anything to keep that look on the face of his friend.

Not just a friend anymore. His counterpart, his confidant, in whom he had long ago placed all his faith. Lover.

Pulse racing, he leaned up and met Edgeworth's lips and tried to pour everything he felt into the kiss. "I trust you," he said as he laid back on the bed, chest rising and falling as he breathed deeply and relaxed. "Partner."

Edgeworth's hands stilled and, after a moment filled with unspoken emotions, he smiled.

His fingers slick, he pressed at Phoenix's entrance, rubbing slowly and watching Phoenix's face for any sign of discomfort. Slowly, he pressed one finger in; Phoenix instinctively tensed at the intrusion but quickly made himself relax, letting Edgeworth push in as deep as he could before pulling back. The sensation was odd, but not unbearable. Edgeworth repeated the motion a few times, curling around inside, and added a second digit.

He twisted and scissored his fingers, stretching the entrance, and all at once Phoenix felt a surge of white-hot pleasure streak through him. His breath hitched and he shuddered, staring wide-eyed at the prosecutor. Edgeworth smirked and moved his fingers in the same pattern, eliciting a long moan from the attorney.

"I think you're ready." Edgeworth pulled away, and Phoenix was almost embarrassed to find himself whimpering at the loss of that mind-numbingly good sensation. Edgeworth quickly tore open the condom packet and slipped on the sheath. He lined himself up with Phoenix's entrance, blunt tip pressing wetly, and leaned forward. Phoenix groaned – so much bigger than fingers – as the head of Edgeworth's cock pushed past tight resistance and into the slick warmth. The prosecutor's thighs trembled with the struggle to keep from snapping his hips forward and thrusting all the way in. Inch by inch, Edgeworth slowly moved until he was buried completely inside.

Phoenix panted, his breath leaving him in ragged gasps as he adjusted to the feeling of fullness. He was grateful Edgeworth stayed still, though he could tell the effort it cost him to wait until Phoenix was ready. Finally, when he felt fully stretched and could relax, he grasped Edgeworth's arms. "Miles," he panted, clenching his muscles around the prosecutor and drawing a loud groan from him, "move."

Edgeworth pulled back, agonizingly slow, and pushed back in; Phoenix moved his hips in counterpoint. After a few experimental thrusts, Edgeworth finally hit that spot that made him cry out in pleasure.

They started a slow rhythm. Edgeworth peered through his bangs, his hair mussed and falling appealingly into his grey eyes, and wrapped his hand around Phoenix's cock once more and pumped in time with his thrusts as best as he could. Phoenix clutched at Edgeworth's shoulders as he moved, long deep thrusts that ended with Edgeworth gasping and grunting and Phoenix feeling light-headed. Their pace increased, bodies shaking with passion.

The sight of Edgeworth on top of him, filling him, gasping Phoenix's name, was an image Phoenix would replay in his mind for the rest of his life. Everything about that moment threatened to undo him: the musky scent of sex, the heat and friction of their movements, their mingled moans spurring each other on.

Edgeworth bucked wildly, all restraint abandoned. All at once Phoenix arched his back, nearly throwing the prosecutor off, and a guttural groan tore itself from his lips; he was only vaguely aware of something warm and wet coating his stomach. Edgeworth leaned in close as Phoenix reached his peak, moving in quick hard thrusts, and as Phoenix sank back down the prosecutor stilled with a strangled gasp, finally finding his own release.

Exhausted, Phoenix pulled Edgeworth down, letting the prosecutor collapse on top of him. He felt Edgeworth slip out of him and grunted in discomfort, and Edgeworth murmured a quick apology and moved to lay next to Phoenix. They stayed there, unmoving, struggling to catch their breaths.

Phoenix tilted his head, peered over at the prosecutor lying on his bed, naked and panting and beautiful, and he realized that nothing in his life could compare to this moment. He scooted over and nuzzled next to Edgeworth's ear, pressing his lips against his hair, his cheek, his shoulder. Edgeworth chuckled lightly, and as Phoenix leaned in again he caught his lips in a tender, languid kiss.

"That was… fantastic," Phoenix admitted.

"Yes," Edgeworth answered, and gave him a tired smirk. "So it was." He swung his feet off the bed and headed down the hall toward the bathroom; Phoenix didn't have the energy to ask what he was doing. Soon he shuffled back to the bed with warm wet towels. After cleaning themselves up they sank into the soft inviting sheets. Phoenix wrapped his arm around Edgeworth's chest as he scooted closer.

"What do you want for breakfast?" he asked, smiling against Edgeworth's skin. "I'll make you anything you want so long as it's scrambled eggs."

"Shouldn't I be getting you breakfast?" Edgeworth retorted.

"Doesn't matter, as long as you're here when I wake up. You will be, right?"

Edgeworth nodded his head, movements dulled with oncoming sleep. "Yes. I will… be here."

They lapsed into silence, just beginning to doze off, when Phoenix mumbled softly one more time. "Miles."

"Hmm?"

"Thanks for… for not being afraid to get closer to me."

Edgeworth moved his hand on top of Phoenix's, and fell asleep with his lips pressed against Phoenix's forehead.


Epilogue

Phoenix woke to an insufferable knocking at his front door. Groaning in irritation, he lifted his head from his pillow only to realize he had been nestled next to the naked, sleeping form of Edgeworth. He rubbed at his eyes, wondering when his dreaming had become so lucid; and then the memories of the previous day flooded back all at once.

He blinked in amazement, both at finally admitting his feelings to Edgeworth and to having them returned. The dull ache in his lower half reminded him that he had also had the most amazing sex of his life last night, and he wanted nothing more than to curl back up next to Edgeworth.

He wondered how the prosecutor could sleep through the racket outside.

"Niiiiick! I know you're in there! Open up!"

He sighed as he climbed out of bed and found his sweatpants lying against the wall. He slipped them on and only barely remembered to close his bedroom door before stumbling to the front one.

He yanked it open viciously. "Larry, if you're not on fire, I'm going to kill you."

"Nick!" Ignoring his just-out-of-bed state, Larry darted past Phoenix, moving into the living room and looking at him with watery eyes. "You've gotta help me. I have to go to a wedding with Charlene this morning and my suit got ruined. I gotta borrow one of yours!"

"Do I even want to know what happened to your own?"

"Well, there was this dog, and I-"

"Never mind. Just… Just wait here."

He plodded back to the bedroom to find a suit for Larry to borrow. And probably also ruin somehow, he thought, trying to pick out the cheapest one.

"Hey Nick," he heard Larry call out as he dug into his closet. "Why are Edgey's clothes hanging in your bathroom?"

Phoenix froze, trying to think of something that would get Larry out of his apartment with a minimal amount of embarrassment. He quickly grabbed one of his suits and prayed he would come up with something brilliant.

He wrenched the bedroom door open, and to his horror Larry was standing right there in front of it.

"Nick?" Larry frowned in confusion as his eyes drifted away from Phoenix and over to the sleeping form in his bed.

Phoenix felt his face heat up, and he pushed past Larry, pointedly closing the door behind him. "Here." He thrust the suit into Larry's hands.

Larry followed him back to the living room, mercifully quiet, until he stopped right at the door. "Oh my god. I get it!" He draped the suit over one arm as he pointed at Phoenix. "I did this!"

"…What?"

"First kiss! True love!"

Phoenix stared at him.

"Like we were talking about last night. Maya asked Edgeworth who his first kiss was. And now I get it – it was you! Remember? In the treehouse, when we were kids? We played Gay Chicken, and you kissed him."

Phoenix had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "So?"

"So? Edgey left right after that, so you must have pined away for him ever since!" It was uncomfortable how close to the truth Larry was. "It explains why you have no luck with women."

"Okay, Larry? Please go now."

"And of course Edgeworth would feel the same for you. All that pink? And ruffles? It was meant to be." Larry smirked at Phoenix. "And I was the one who brought you together!"

His face abruptly fell. "But Nick, why didn't you tell me? How long have you two been together? Didn't you trust me?"

"Shouldn't you go meet Charlene?"

Larry yo-yoed back to happy and giddy. "Right! Yeah! And I'll take lots of notes at the wedding for you! I gotta be a good best man when the time comes, right?"

Phoenix groaned as he practically pushed Larry out the door, wondering if Maya would defend him on any murder charges.

On the other side, he could hear Larry's voice echoing down the hall: "Nick and Edgey, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…"