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When he thinks about it, his life was pretty perfect until that trial in the 4th grade. Two loving parents, a faithful dog, friends right down the block. Okay, so he didn't have brothers or sisters, but that was just one little thing.

Maybe it was a coincidence, but a month after the trial, he overheard his parents fighting. "I'm done with this, Jonathan! You don't trust me, that means you don't love me!" "Fine, then, Lisa, if that's the way you want it!"

He didn't listen any further, running to Edgeworth's house in tears. They called Larry over and of course he cried even before he knew what was going on. Mr. Edgeworth made tea and sat them down, calmed Phoenix and listened to the whole story. "I'm sure they're just venting. Sometimes people who love each other fight, and they'll be okay once they get it out of their system."

When he drove Phoenix home, they found his parents on the porch swing making out like teenagers. They never had another big blow-up after that.

After Edgeworth moved, Larry started hanging out at the Wright house more. "So you won't get lonely." Larry was almost like a brother, so much that the Butz family even offered to move both families into one big house together. The boys loved the idea, but it never happened. Too expensive, and they couldn't agree on a house.

He found out in junior high that Edgeworth was living in Germany and studying to become a prosecutor. But why, didn't he want to be a defense lawyer? His life was nothing but work and cases, aside from his adoptive little sister and the man raising him he had no time for other people. Even his old friends.

I'm only allowed to write this letter to explain, the paper said. I apologize for causing you to worry, Phoenix.

He and Larry clung to each other even more after that. They never tried to find a third friend; once the trio was broken, it could only be mended by the original third. Maybe someday Edgeworth would come back. Maybe he'd remember them and forget all about being a prosecutor.

Maybe someday things would be back to normal.

During his junior year of high school, Badger the dog started getting on in years and it showed. His health declined so rapidly that shortly before Christmas the family decided it was time to let go. Larry was the first person Phoenix told, and they both wished Edgeworth could be there. They hadn't heard from him in years.

Larry wasn't allowed into the room when they put Badger down, so Phoenix went with his mother to comfort her while Larry and Dad stayed in the waiting room. It was over fast, and that night the boys stayed up, made popcorn and laughed about all the escapades they'd had with Badger.

Phoenix never got another dog after that.

It wasn't as painful parting ways with Larry when they got accepted to different colleges. They'd still be in the same state at least. "And if one of us hates their school he can transfer!" Larry joked. They never did, but they kept in touch and hung out during break times.

Neither of them saw Edgeworth again until Phoenix's fourth court case.

Chapter Text

The whip skimmed across her backside, and she gasped. That delicious fusion of pain and pleasure, she knew it well and she knew her lover would give it anytime she asked. Maya arched her back, clutching the sheets of the bed she knelt before.

"Mm...yes. More, please!" she cried. "My inner goddess is doing a tango in delight!"

The whip clattered to the ground. Maya craned her neck to glance over her shoulder and the look on Franziska's face said more than any variation of are you kidding me ever could.

"Um...oops?"

"Put your foolish clothes on, you foolish fool." Franziska grabbed for her own skirt and blouse before throwing Maya's outfit at her.

"But-"

"Only a foolish fool would quote anything from that horrid fool series! I know you spirit mediums aren't famous for your dirty talk, but this is just beyond forgiveness!" A pause. "For one whole day."

"Aw, come on! Can't we just forget I said that?" But Maya knew her girlfriend too well, and if she said she wasn't in the mood anymore, she really wasn't in the mood anymore. She sighed, dressing slowly, not bothering with her panties.

"I'm really sorry," she muttered. Franziska sighed.

"Because I believe you truly are, we'll do this again tomorrow. Only this time, perhaps I should focus on your back." Maya giggled sheepishly.

"I appreciate that."

She went home to bathe and put some salve on the marks. At least she didn't have to work tomorrow.

Chapter Text

"So, your name is Mr...Head, then?"

"Uhh, yeah. Huh huh huh. My first name's Butt."

"Mr. Butt Head..." Phoenix pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'll just call you Mr. Head, then."

"Uh, okay."

"Now, Mr. Head," Edgeworth said calmly, "please give the court your testimony."

"Huhuhuhuhuh, you said 'testes'," the kid chortled, and Edgeworth's eye twitched.

"I mean, tell the court what you saw that day." Good, Phoenix thought. Dumb it down, that should work. He knew the kid wasn't too bright, but right now he made Mimi Miney's false identity look intelligent by comparison.

But we'll get under his skin. No one can really be this stupid and live, he's gotta be hiding something.

"So uh, like," Mr. Head began, "me and Beavis were like, checking out some thingies and chicks' butts at the beach but then the cop kicked us out cause someone got mad. So we like, went to get nachos and when we got back the dead guy was bleeding all over the place. Huhuhuhuhuh, it was cool!"

The judge's lips were pressed into a tight line, various murmurs of disgust rose from the audience, and Edgeworth inhaled sharply.

"I see."

"Mr. Wright," the judge said, "you may begin your cross-examination."

"Right." Here goes nothing. "While you were at the beach, did you notice anything-" He fished for the easiest word. "Weird? Anyone looking evil or creepy?"

"Uh, I dunno. We were just there for the thingies."

"I see..." Across the courtroom, he could see Edgeworth beginning to twitch. "Tell me, how long were you gone, getting your snacks?"

"Uh, like, a few minutes? We like, went to the Maxi-Mart but the dude wasn't there so we like took nachos outta the glass thing and left five bucks. It's like, legal and stuff."

"And when you returned, you say the victim was bleeding." Phoenix pulled out a slip of paper. "However, the autopsy report states that the victim died of a snapped neck. That doesn't cause bleeding."

"Uhhh, oh yeah."

"So explain the bleeding," Phoenix said, trying to remain calm. He glanced to Edgeworth, cool as usual except for his twitchy eye.

"Uh..." Mr. Head chuckled. "Like, maybe the body like, got its period or something. Huh huhuhuhuhuhuhuh huhuhuhuh huh."

"GWHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! ENOUGH! I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS IDIOT!" Everyone gasped, Phoenix turned to see Edgeworth slamming his fists on the table followed by his forehead. "Is it really SO BLOODY HARD TO TELL THE COURT A FEW LITTLE THINGS?! Are breasts, nachos and blood all you think about?! HOW ARE YOU BREATHING AT THIS POINT?!" He punched the desk one more time before slamming his folder of papers down. "That's it. I refuse to deal with this walking waste of air for one moment longer!"

Edgeworth stormed from the courtroom, taking his rage with him, and Phoenix slumped over on his desk.

"Thank God," he muttered, "I thought I was gonna have to be the one to come out and say it."

Franziska handled the rest of the trial. Thankfully, her whip was enough to curtail any further remarks about "thingies". (Especially her own.)

Chapter Text

It wasn't every day a witness snapped and held the entire courtroom hostage. The only reason she and Mr. Phoenix Wright escaped was her quick thinking, of course, but the fool hadn't bothered to thank her.

"Really, now," she muttered. "I go to all the trouble of hauling you into the elevator and getting you to safety, and you haven't said a word! Am I going to have to whip it out of you?"

The only answer was harsh, heavy breathing.

"Hmph! Fool! You will pay for your-"

"Not. Now." He managed to choke the words out, and Franziska paused to take a good look at Wright. He looked...well, sick. Pale, sweaty, curled up in a little ball, whimpering like a dog.

Something about this struck a chord in her, possibly from knowing elevators and earthquakes did the same to Miles. (A secret she helped him hide very carefully from Papa, of course.) She wanted to mock his foolish cowardice, but right now she just felt sorry for the poor fool.

"...he's never going to find us up here. He's too busy torturing the judge," she offered. Wright shook his head.

"Too high," he ground out. Oh. More like Miles than she'd initially thought. Granted, it was pretty high up, but she felt fine...a little winded from all the running, kind of sweaty, but perfectly okay.

Sighing, she knelt beside the defense attorney and tentatively put a hand on his shoulder. She had enough practice dealing with this sort of thing, after all.

"I'm sure they've called the police by now," she said. "They'll send a chopper up here to get us down. I mean, I'm up here, after all, they'd never let anything happen to a von Karma." A pause. "Or...you. I suppose."

She kept her hand on his shoulder, eventually moving it to his back, rubbing in small circles. It was pathetic, but then again, so was Miles. And if she was the one panicking, Wright would have done this for her (under the threat of being whipped).

Finally, she felt him relax a tiny bit. Still sweaty, still whimpering, but at least his breathing was close to normal. She felt his cold, clammy hand reach to grasp hers, and she let him.

Eventually, the chopper did come to retrieve them. Wright didn't even begin to calm down until they were back on the ground; his assistant and the little girl rushed over to hug him senseless.

"I-I'm okay now," he said. "What about you two?"

"I've had worse," the older one-Maya, said. "I just spent the whole time trying to keep the judge calm. He's okay, though, he's resting now. But you..."

"Don't worry." Wright smiled. "I wasn't alone up there." He glanced towards her, and Franziska coughed lightly, turning red.

"W-well, I only did it so he'd stop whining! Do you hear me, Mr. Phoenix Wright?" she said gruffly, clutching the handle of her whip. "I suggest getting over this fear of yours, next time you might not have someone to hold your hand."

But he only smiled more, not even trying to take offense.

Foolish fool of an attorney.

But nonetheless, she was...glad, she supposed, to see him back to his old self. Defeating him in a trial wouldn't be very satisfying if he wasn't.

And I will beat you. Don't think anything's changed between us, Mr. Phoenix Wright.

Chapter Text

Once upon a time, it would have been him resisting Phoenix's advances. Playing the cynic with the icy wall around his heart, cursing his feelings. But in the past several years he'd finally come to terms with everything-his past, his father, von Karma, his own wants and needs.

What he wanted and needed was the person who'd inspired him to move forward and change.

So naturally Miles was shocked (and mildly annoyed) when, after gathering his courage and putting his heart on the line to confess, Phoenix just shook his head and turned away.

"My heart's learned its lesson, Miles."

"Wright." He clamped a hand down on the attorney's shoulder. "Your heart is open to a nearly sickening degree. You still cry over love stories. You practically swooned when Maya announced her engagement to Will Powers," he said. "What's this about lessons?"

"It feels good when you start out, doesn't it?" Phoenix sighed. "The moment your eyes meet...Dollie and I were so good together before all that went down. And Mia..." He turned back and smiled sadly. "I waited too long to tell her. Thought I'd give her more time to mourn her boyfriend, but..."

"Love isn't always going to be easy, Phoenix." Miles drew closer. "But it doesn't have to hurt, and you know that. You're the reason I'm able to tell you how I feel right now, you of all people-"

"It's not just Iris and Mia. It's...it's just me. I'm cursed, Edgeworth," Phoenix said quietly. "That's why I keep surviving being hit by cars or falling off bridges, someone up there wants me alive so I can keep losing people."

He closed his eyes, clenching his hand into a fist, and Miles fought back the urge to hug him. Feelings accepted or not, he still wasn't big on lavish displays of affection.

"You won't lose me."

"Somehow I can't believe that after you've disappeared on me twice, and one of those times you let me think you were dead." Miles blanched, the man had a point. Looking back, he could have worded his farewell note better.

"Point taken. But I can promise you it won't happen again."

"I'm sorry, Edgeworth. I...I can't. My life is fine just as it is, I've got my daughter, I've got my protegés. Seeing my friends find love and live happily ever after is enough for me," he said.

"Objection." Miles smirked. "Come on, Phoenix, we're old friends. Even when we were apart I thought about you, and I always imagined you'd never stop being the idealistic fool you always were. This cynical sad clown act isn't you, so stop it."

"Ugh, don't mention clowns. I still have nightmares about Moe on the witness stand," Phoenix groaned. "And this isn't an act, Miles."

"You're an idiot." Miles pulled him closer. "You've always been an idiot who believes in things, and that's why...that's why I feel the way I do." Even now, saying I love you felt too strange. "Be my idiot, Phoenix Wright." The attorney tensed, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

"Damn it, Miles..."

"We can make this work. If you've taught me anything is that you can always pull off a miracle."

"In court."

"And in life." Miles reached for his hand, and to his surprise Phoenix allowed their fingers to lace together. "Face it, Wright. Whether or not I wanted it, you and I always made a great team."

"We did, didn't we?" Phoenix closed his eyes. "Miles, you may not be a natural sweet-talker, but you're making me want to believe you."

"Then believe me."

A peaceful silence fell over them, and Phoenix relaxed, head resting against Miles's shoulder. Miles ran a hand over the attorney's spikes, squeezing his hand.

"You'll be okay, Wright."

Chapter Text

"Please don't argue. You have to leave right now, you aren't safe here."

"No way, Mr. Edgeworth!" The detective stood his ground, feet planted firmly. "I've always been by your side, and that aint gonna change. Not now, not ever."

"This has nothing to do with you," Edgeworth said. "Whoever left that note has a problem with me and me alone. I don't want you getting mixed up in this, they were quite clear that they'd destroy anyone who stood in their way."

"I'd rather they destroy me than you, Mr. Edgeworth." The words were a shot through his heart, Edgeworth looking away and biting his lip to keep from losing his cool.

Damn it, Gumshoe...! The detective's loyalty could be trying at times, but Edgeworth had always appreciated it, and deep down he knew he'd be lost if something ever happened to him. He never thought he'd have to face such a possibility.

"My life's yours, boss."

Edgeworth shook his head, stepped forward and hugged Gumshoe tightly. It was the first time in years he'd initiated any sort of physical contact, he felt ridiculous, but the detective was warm and he felt big arms lock around him and a hand smooth that one stubborn lock of hair that would never go down.

"Go back to the hotel," he whispered. "I can't lose you." I can't lose anyone else.

"No way, boss."

"Gumshoe-"

"I aint a fighter, I'm just a lousy detective who can't even afford an apple a day. But if there's one thing I am it's loyal." He smiled. "I won't die, I promise."

And Edgeworth sighed, knowing that logically it was better for them to stick together. At least for now.

"If you break that promise, I'll have Wright's assistant channel you so I can lower your salary," he said, and Gumshoe laughed.

"See, now I can't die!"

So they stood against the warehouse's side wall, note clutched in Edgeworth's hand. Listening to the silence of the night. Waiting.

Chapter Text

"Why did you scream like that?" Franziska didn't answer, only pointed to the floor from her vantage point on top of the chair. "Franziska?" Still no answer, only little screams and more pointing, so Maya looked down.

A tiny little bug was skittering across the kitchen floor.

"...that's it? I know cockroaches are gross, but-"

"Foolish fool! They're more than just 'gross', as you so crudely put it! They are filthy, diseased miniature monsters! I despise them! Just hearing their filthy foolish feelers click across the tile...!" Franziska shuddered, leaping up onto the table and drawing her knees up to her chest. "Get it out! Now!"

So Maya disposed of the offending bug, checked for others, and sighed with relief when she didn't find any. By this point Franziska had composed herself for the most part; her posture was normal again but her face was beet-red and her hands were in tight fists.

"So, I suppose my shameful secret is exposed now. Franziska von Karma, brilliant prosecutor, is deathly afraid of a tiny little bug," she said stiffly. "Go ahead and laugh. Tell your spiky-haired boss, tell your cousin, tell the world if you must! Foolish fool of a prodigy is-"

Maya shook her head, hugging the other woman close and patting her back. Franziska stiffened a bit before relaxing, unclenching her hands.

"You're not going to laugh?"

"Why? Everyone's got something they're afraid of," Maya said. "It doesn't make you weak."

"But..." Franziska sighed. "I'm Franziska von Karma. I'm supposed to be better than the other fools!" Maya just rubbed her back more, letting her lean on her.

"You don't always need to be so perfect," she said, even though by now she knew saying so was hit or miss. Sometimes Franziska relented and agreed, other times she held stubbornly to that old belief. The best way to love Franziska was to just let her be Franziska.

"I acted like the perfect fool," the other woman muttered.

"But it's over now. And there aren't any more bugs hanging around, I promise." Maya quickly scanned the kitchen to make sure that was the truth. Franziska relaxed more, her head nestled in the crook of Maya's shoulder.

"You won't really tell everyone about this, will you?" Maya smiled.

"You're secret's safe with me." She winked, and Franziska smirked against her shoulder.

"Good answer."

Chapter Text

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful mystic in terrible distress! Her big sister was dead, and she was being blamed for it so they locked her in the dungeon for punishment! And there was a handsome guy with spiky hair named Mr. Nick, and the mystic's sister was his teacher! So they were both really, really sad.

"Help me, Mr. Nick! Please, I didn't do it and nobody believes me!" cried the mystic, and Mr. Nick was so taken in by her cute looks he couldn't say no!

But then this evil witch showed up and he had to fight her, and then a sparkly wizard hit him and told everyone he killed Mystic Mia! So he ended up in the dungeon and Mystic Maya tried to save him but he had to fight the evil wizard all alone! So he did, and then Mystic Maya saved him by channeling Mystic Mia and telling everyone the wizard was a big liar!

The wizard fell in defeat, and Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya ran into each other's arms! And then they became partners and fell in love and now they'll live happily ever after!

 

Maya laughed nervously, glancing over at her partner.

"Well, she's...very creative!"

"Yeah, after all the trouble she went through to write this I don't have the heart to tell her yet again that it's not going to happen."

Chapter Text

Read between the lines, Wright. Look at it from a different perspective. Mia's words followed him everywhere these days, especially where a certain prosecutor was involved.

"You win again, Wright." He shook his head, giving one of his customary bows. "I bend before your superiority."

"Um, thanks?" It wasn't like Edgeworth to be so generous with the compliments, unless it was sarcasm. Probably sarcasm. "You almost had me there, though. The last witness's testimony was airtight."

"Tight, yes...but not so tight you couldn't thrust your usual cross-examination through." Edgeworth slid from behind the bench and crossed over to the defense's side. "So powerful, Wright. It seems like just yesterday I had you completely overpowered from the outset."

"Almost. But you knew someday I'd be topping you." Phoenix smirked, mirroring Edgeworth's usual expression as the prosecutor sat beside him on the bench. "The heat in this courtroom was almost...stifling today, wasn't it?"

"You could slice through the tension with a knife," Edgeworth agreed. Actually, the heat between their bodies was more than an entire summer's worth...and was that a banana in Edgeworth's pocket, or was he unusually happy to see him?

"Looks like we're alone now, though. Just us...no more trials for the rest of the afternoon."

"Yes." And Edgeworth's hand shot out, pulling on his tie and drawing him close. "And don't you dare speak a word of this, but I rather like it when you dominate me."

Phoenix crushed his lips against Edgeworth's, pressing their groins together. It was only a second or two before clothes went flying and Edgeworth was bent over the table.

I'll dominate you any time you want, Miles.

Chapter Text

1) It was Maya's fault. All he'd wanted to do was get the gang to pitch in and help him really clean the office once and for all, but she had to start singing that song. And it had to be so catchy he couldn't help joining in and soon even Edgeworth was humming along. Edgeworth.

"Scrubbing day! It's my favorite day!"

 

2) "Are you sure...? We can always back out and do something else instead."

"Please, Nick, I've always wanted to. Ever since we met, it's...it's been my fantasy!"

"Maya..."

"I trust you, Nick. I know you won't let anything bad happen to us."

He smiled, ruffling her hair a little.

"Let's do it, then."

Only a middle-aged woman and her younger boyfriend would ever know who really pelted the abandoned Bluecorp building with rotten apples that night.

 

3) "I win! I knew I could count on you, Rapidash!"

"Aww, Pearls! You didn't even give Lapras's Quick Claw a chance to activate!" Phoenix frowned down at his 3DS. "Maybe I need to do some Super Training."

 

4) "THIS IS THE WORST MOVIE I'VE EVER SEEN! What were they thinking?!"

Rumors flew that law assistant Maya Fey was auditioning to be the Nostalgia Critic's sidekick.

 

5) A little boy looking out the window was shocked to discover that Attorney Phoenix Wright had turned into a dog. Edgeworth, meanwhile, owed his old friend a debt or two for letting Pess sleep on the couch.

Chapter Text

"I WANNA LIVE IN THE SAUCE!"

Of all the people to be a rowdy drunk, he was the last they would have expected. Calm, collected, dangerous Shelly de Killer sat at an empty table sobbing over a cup of cocktail sauce.

"It's so beautiful in the sauce," he wailed, "in the sauce, I never took the job from that wretched actor!"

Maya put a hand on his shoulder and started to help him up.

"I know, Mr. de Killer. But it's time to go home," she said gently. "I think you've had enough."

"But...the sauce!"

"Shh...let's get you home, you can rest and maybe you'll visit the sauce in your dreams."

Chapter Text

It was bad enough that Redd White had managed to get him convicted just because he could. But he'd planned to use his alone time in custody to come up with a better plan before White himself decided to stop by.

If he were just there to gloat, it would be one thing. He'd be angry and end up losing his temper, but it would at least be expected. But no, this was a thousand times worse.

"...a lot of wine," he went on. "Yes, we were quite intoxified that night, Wright. Or was it...more?"

"Just tell me how badly I suck and how you're going to win tomorrow. Please. It'd be less painful."

"Oh, but I haven't even gotten to the best-amundo part yet! Yes, suddenly the night was full of energy! Alivified, we felt! Ah, yes, our clothes melted away in the heat of our-"

"STOP! If you stop right now I'll plead guilty. No, I'm serious, I'll go right to the judge and tell him I did everything." That is, if he didn't vomit first. "Please."

But of course, White didn't hear him. He was too enraptured with the sound of his own voice spilling every last sickening detail. Sweat, manly scents, hands, kisses, mouths, fingers in his hair...

At least I guessed right when I asked if they were lovers.

But the mental image of Grossberg's naked, sweaty body against this asshole's was the last thing he needed.

What did I ever do to deserve this?

Chapter Text

"Owww! Like, are you totally sure like, this clothing box is, like, okay for this?"

"It is if you hold still." Maya giggled, pushing Ini's sweater up the rest of the way. "Wow, I had a feeling you didn't wear a bra...that makes things easier..."

"H-hey! That like, tickles!" Ini had only bothered to remove Maya's costume halfway before deciding it was just too hard and realizing Maya wore no panties.

If Aunt Morgan realized just what this box was being used for, she'd have such a cow. And in hindsight, maybe it was too much to try fitting two bodies into it. But at this point both girls were too horny to care either way.

Half an hour later, Morgan was sighing as she tried to convince Pearl once more that there was no monster in the clothing box.

Chapter Text

In another reality, the same trial had taken place just moments ago only to end in a guilty verdict. And when Phoenix met the man who'd let it end up that way he immediately wished he hadn't.

"You're..."

"So, uh...you're the guy who, um, you know. Got the win and all?"

Physically they were completely identical, but this one seemed a bit...off. Like he was perpetually lost or something.

"That's right. It gets easier each time, to be honest." Matt Engarde had prepared him for just about anything, and even if he still ran into a roadblock he'd learned how to break it. Everything Mia ever taught him was finally sticking, he didn't even need to take a moment to remember.

This Phoenix, on the other had, seemed like the kind of person who'd forget to put his pants on unless someone reminded him every morning.

"Wow. I keep losing all my trials lately and I dunno why. I mean, I win a few times but that's just luck, and everyone keeps laughing at me." He sighed. "Can't really blame them."

There was a time where that had been him, Phoenix thought. But he'd learned from all his mistakes.

"How'd you lose this time?"

"Well...I may have kinda presented the wrong thing." The other Phoenix blushed and rubbed the back of his head.

"Which thing?"

"Er...my penis."

"What?!"

"I dunno! It just...kinda popped out! The judge looked kinda impressed, though, I'm pretty well-hung." Above average, he thought, feeling his face burn.

"Next time, remember to zip up your fly," he advised. "And take a map with you next time you go investigating. Also? If something doesn't seem like it needs to be pressed, leave it alone."

"Right." The other him smiled. "I'll remember that next time! Thanks, me!"

He left, and Phoenix realized the entire time they'd been talking, he smelled alcohol.

Chapter Text

The doctor said he needed more muscle mass, he was too skinny. So he took to the weights, albeit awkwardly at first. He couldn't lift anything heavier than five pounds and even that was a struggle, as was trying to figure it out while dodging stares and snickers from other guys in the workout room.

After about six months, though, coming there is second nature. Part of his daily routine along with a morning shower and flossing his teeth. He's graduated from five pounds to twenty, and even those are almost too light for him now. People still stare, but there's more shock than amusement to it.

He barely notices when his shirts get tighter across the chest and shoulders, and he doesn't make a habit of looking in a mirror from the neck down. But it's close to a year since he started and the doctor says he's made "vast improvement". So he's healthy now, that was the main reason he started this, right?

He keeps at it, though. He's too used to it to quit now, he's even added the treadmill and step-climber to his retinue. And maybe it's his imagination but he can swear he sees some of the female officers watching him on the step-climber. Actually, everyone's looking at him now. Not in that "oh, that train wreck Meekins" sort of way, but...almost admiring. Impressed.

He finally realizes how much he's changed when he runs into Maggey Byrde. She's there to visit Detective Gumshoe, but can't keep her eyes off of him. Finally, she drags him over to the full-length mirror.

"Look at yourself!"

He almost passes out when he does. Gumshoe walks in, nearly explodes with jealousy only to end up ogling him alongside Maggey.

The next day, "stupid sexy Meekins" has become a catchphrase around the precinct.

All Mike wanted to do was get healthy. But hey, this isn't such a bad bonus.

Chapter Text

"Tell me, Miss Oldbag...what do you wish for?"

The small creature sat on her knee, never changing expression, its red eyes peering into her soul. Wendy clenched her fist, fighting the urge to punt it across the room.

"How's a whippersnapper like you know my name?!"

"I know everything, Miss Oldbag! There's someone you fancy, isn't there? I see into your heart," the creature chirped. "And he doesn't return your affections, does he?"

"He will! As soon as he stops fighting his feelings, he will...!" But the creature sensed the doubt in her tone, didn't it. Wendy glanced at the photo on her nightstand, Edgeworth, Edgey-poo, I've wanted you for so long...is it my age? My looks? Do you just prefer another type of woman? "He will..."

"I can see to it that he does. All you have to do...is sign a contract."

"Contract?! What kind of-"

"It's harmless, really!"

She glanced from her visitor to the photo. If she signed that contract, Edgeworth...he would be hers, hers alone, no questions asked. But would it be real? Would he come to the realization of his feelings alone, or would it all be controlled by whatever this contract did?

She glanced at the photo.

Aw, who cares? If he's mine, he's mine!

"Give it here, whippersnapper!" The creature produced a slip of paper, which she signed in a heartbeat. A light filled the room and a crack of lightning filled the air, the contract and the creature disappeared.

When Wendy looked in the mirror, she almost didn't recognize herself until she looked down to find her hand smooth, as though someone had ironed out the wrinkles.

This is the new Wendy Oldbag, the girl of Miles Edgeworth's dreams. The moment he lays eyes on you, his heart will be yours, the high-pitched voice of her mysterious visitor explained.

Wendy slept peacefully that night, knowing her dream would finally come true.

 

The next morning, Phoenix Wright and his assistant clicked on the TV to find that a young woman had disappeared. And another the next morning. By the end of the week all these women had been found in the woods.

"Stiff as boards, pale as ghosts," the reporter said, "not quite dead...practically zombies. As if their souls had somehow been drained overnight."

Chapter Text

He knew Gumshoe wasn't the best detective out there on a good day. On a bad day, though, he was next to useless-no, completely useless.

Not that it was his fault, though. He couldn't have known one officer's cold would spread through the precinct like wildfire and he'd be one of the first victims. Edgeworth couldn't even give him any credit for pressing on despite being so under the weather, and not even because he was doing such sloppy work. Gumshoe had a stubborn streak to him that could be admirable at some times and irritating at others.

Right now, it was worrying. He'd known getting used to the feelings he had for the detective would be a double-edged sword, but he wasn't Miles Edgeworth if he didn't try to do something about it.

"Detective," he said firmly, placing a hand on a big shoulder. "I order you to pack up your things and leave."

"W-what? But Mr. Edgeworth, I-" A sneeze. "Aren't I doing-" A fit of coughing. "Ugh, sorry, must be dusty in here..." Edgeworth shook his head.

"You're in no shape to be working right now."

"Aw, come on, sir, a little cold never-" A sneezing fit interrupted him, and Edgeworth's frown deepened. He gripped the detective's arm and tugged him away from his desk as best he could; though he was no weakling Gumshoe was still taller and outweighed him by a good thirty pounds.

"You're going home," he said, a bit more harshly than he'd intended to. "And you're going to get some rest and see a doctor."

"But, sir-"

"The money you lose for not working today isn't half as much as I'll dock your salary if you don't take care of yourself."

"That's harsh, sir." But Gumshoe complied nonetheless, always motivated by any possible threat to his salary, and Edgeworth sighed with relief as he led his stubborn boyfriend to his car.

Boyfriend. It was still so strange to think of the bumbling detective that way. But it was the reason Edgeworth was taking the rest of the day off to stay home and keep an eye on Gumshoe, whether he deemed it necessary or not.

 

Gumshoe tried to keep up sort of a chatter on the way back to the house, yet the moment they were inside he flopped onto the couch, not even taking his coat or shoes off.

"Well, at least you're trying to get some rest now," Edgeworth sighed. "Though you might be more comfortable in bed."

"Boy, sir, I can't believe you're doin' all this for me," Gumshoe mumbled. "I remember when all ya ever did was work! Kinda nice, thinking-"

"I'm not made of stone." Edgeworth's cheeks prickled with heat. "But...as someone who cares about you, I'd rather you didn't end up in the hospital with a dangerously high fever. Now get into bed while I make you some soup." He wasn't much of a nurse, but he knew how to deal with colds and he considered himself a good enough cook.

And despite his appearance, the man doesn't eat nearly enough.

Maybe it was time to put a stop to his salary being docked over every mistake. He'd have to have a talk with the higher-ups about that.

Moments later, he came to the bedroom with a tray of soup, tea with a bit of lemon and some cold tablets. Gumshoe still wore his clothes, but at least he was settled under the covers.

"Feels weird havin' you wait on me like this, sir." But there was no hiding the smile in his eyes, and Edgeworth stifled a laugh as he handed Gumshoe the tray.

"It's just as strange for me to be taking care of someone. Well, a human, that is." Thankfully, Pess had behaved himself aside from the usual leaping and trying to smother them with sloppy kisses the moment they walked in the door. "But...well. It goes without saying."

"Aww, I love you too, sir." The blush on Edgeworth's cheeks increased. They were still light years apart from each other on that front; Gumshoe wasn't shy about expressing his feelings, while Edgeworth found the words to be more loaded. He preferred to express the feelings he'd grown used to in...other ways.

Like sitting down on his side of the bed, keeping the detective company as he ate and took his medicine. The soup was simple fare, but he could tell it was haute cuisine to a man who lived on a steady diet of instant noodles. He couldn't help a sense of warm pride at watching someone enjoy his cooking so much; the bowl was soon empty and Edgeworth was glad he'd made enough for the next few days. Recipes like soup tended to assume you had more than a few people living in a household.

"Thanks, Miles." Edgeworth grinned a little.

"Feeling sleepy enough to drop the pretenses?"

"I guess!" Gumshoe set his teacup down on the nightstand and leaned back against the pillow, stifling a cough. "You don't need to stay here and watch me sleep, though, you could get back to work."

"I want to." Edgeworth smoothed a hand over his forehead. It felt a bit warm, but not uncomfortably so. "Besides, if I leave you alone you could very well sneak out of bed and try to go back to the precinct." The detective smiled sheepishly.

"Got me there."

Thankfully, Gumshoe fell asleep in a matter of minutes, and Edgeworth picked up a Sherlock Holmes novel and lazily flipped to the place he'd marked.

He'd developed a soft spot for detectives over the year.

Chapter Text

She accidentally sleeps through the alarm clock, the water in the shower goes cold too fast and she burns the toast. She forgot to iron her uniform last night and she tries to eat her apple as fast as she can without getting sick. She trips twice as she rushes out the door, and nearly forgets to lock it behind her.

Then she realizes she forgot something and spends five minutes digging her key out of her purse so she can go back inside and grab it. Just one stop before she has to get to work, that's why she set her alarm so early and now she'll just barely make it.

But mornings full of mishap are nothing new to Maggey. In fact, she'd count this as one of her better mornings. Her uniform looks clean even without ironing, and she didn't hurt herself when she tripped.

And then there's the little project she spent all last night on. The one she'd almost forgotten to take with her. She rushes to the precinct, stumbling and tripping several more times and nearly landing in a mud puddle.

Please let him be early today!

She's out of breath and sweaty when she arrives. She rushes to the ladies' room to wash her face and fix her hair, takes a deep breath and heads for the office.

"Maggey!" He spots her right away. "Um, what a nice surprise! What're you doing here so early this morning?"

"Er, well...I just thought I'd stop in and say hi, that's all." She feels her cheeks growing hot. She's always been fond of Detective Gumshoe, ever since she was an officer and he was her mentor. He's far from perfect, he's kinda scruffy and not too quick on the uptake, but he more than makes up for it with his kind nature and earnest efforts.

(And some women find scruffy attractive. Most of all Maggey.)

Remembering why she came in the first place, she holds out the package.

"Here! Um, I made you some breakfast...and lunch, and some snacks," she says quickly. "A guy can't live on instant noodles, after all." He turns red and she wonders if she went too far. "Er, sorry-"

"Nah, it's no big deal. The whole office knows I'm poor as dirt anyway." He smiles as he opens the box. "Wow! Boy, this sure is a lot. You must've been up all night cooking!"

"Only half," she giggles. "I-I'd better get to work now. Enjoy! And I can always bring you more!"

"Say, Maggey." He sets the box down on his desk, putting a hand on her arm. "If you haven't eaten yet, why don't you join me for breakfast?" At the mention of food her stomach growls; an apple a day keeps the doctor away but it's not a real breakfast.

Maggey glances at the clock. She's supposed to be at work in twenty minutes, but maybe it won't be a big deal if she's a little late today.

"I'd love to, Mr. Gumshoe."

"Hey, call me Dick."

He leads her to the cafeteria, where it's fairly quiet, and they settle in for a cozy breakfast.

Chapter Text

"Larry!"

A true artist must never be disturbed. But this true artist was sketching the girl of his dreams, and her needs came first. He'd said so, and she was holding him to it. He turned around, grinning that usual grin of his.

"Aha, you must be getting cold, my little mystic. It's okay to put a blanket over yourself! I've got the rough outline already sketched, I can just do the rest from memory."

Maya rolled her eyes. From where she was positioned she could see the paper just enough to know that even if she was cold, she wasn't about to cover herself until he changed one thing.

"I thought you were going to draw me, not me channeling my sister," she huffed. "Make those smaller!" Larry glanced at the paper, laughed nervously and rubbed the back of his head.

"Ahahaha, right, of course...um, artistic license?"

"Larry..."

"Oh, all right."

It wasn't that she was ashamed of her smaller breasts...okay, maybe she envied her sister a little and wished she'd grown more between seventeen and eighteen. But she liked them enough to want them represented accurately on paper, and she would hope her boyfriend felt the same way.

"There we go. Luckily I didn't have to do much erasing!"

She tossed a pillow at him. He dodged and it fell to the floor behind him, and Maya draped a blanket over her naked form.

"I hope your memory's as good as you think. I don't want to end up with a navel ring and four nipples," she teased. Larry grinned.

"You'll be very happy with the results, Mystic Maya. I can guarantee!"

So she kept still and watched him work, trying to peek at the paper now and then to check his accuracy. Any other time she wouldn't mind him taking artistic license, but this wasn't just one of his usual paintings. This, he'd said, was a symbol of their passion.

(A surprising amount of it considering they'd only been together six months. But hey, a good thing was a good thing.)

She wondered what Nick would say if he saw it. Not that she wanted him to, but imagining the look on his face made her giggle even as she tried to keep still.

He was dumb. He attracted all kinds of trouble. He had a checkered past with women and their boyfriends. But he was hers now and for every flaw he had, there was a good quality to go along with it.

Finally, Larry turned around, turned the easel with him and shouted "Voila!"

His memory, it turned out, had been flawless. If it was conceited to be turned on by a picture of herself she didn't care. And judging by the look on Larry's face and the tent in his pants, she had a feeling she wouldn't be wearing that blanket for much longer.

"Perfect," she murmured. "Now, would the artist like to exercise his privilege?"

"And what privilege would that be?"

She tossed the blanket aside, lying back and raising one knee.

"Getting to fuck his model afterwards."

His clothes were lying in a heap on the floor seconds later as he sank into her, beginning his usual slow, smooth strokes as their mouths came together.

This was the model's privilege as much as the artist's.

Chapter Text

Ema hadn't known what to expect when she met Mr. Wright's oldest and dearest assistant. Part of her had envied Maya a little; while Ema lived for scientific investigations, little could top being able to channel someone's spirit into their body. She'd expected someone mature and serious, stately and kinda aloof.

Certainly not the squeal that could shatter glass when Maya caught sight of her Steel Samurai cell phone case and Pink Princess stickers.

"You're so lucky! Some of those stickers are so hard to get!"

"My sister has a few connections," Ema giggled. "Or rather, I begged her to look for them and promised to pay her back when she sent them over! Luckily, she said that wasn't necessary." Maya's face grew wistful just then, and Ema blanched. "Sorry..."

"No, it's okay...anything can make me miss Mia now and then. Pearly can channel her for me any time, though! Er, as long as she wears a really big robe." She smiled. "Our sisters were old friends, though!"

"Probably a little more, actually..." Ema grinned. "Lana keeps some of her old college diaries hidden in her office, and she's away for the week."

Maya didn't need any further prompting. It was the way of the younger sister, always curious about an older sibling's past exploits. Giggling, they joined hands as they snuck through the halls and into the thankfully empty elevator. As for a key, Ema always kept a few hairpins around just in case.

"We're going to get in so much trouble if we get caught," Maya whispered as Ema wriggled the pin around in the lock. It popped open and they slipped inside, shutting the door carefully behind them.

"I know. Hardly the kind of behavior for a law assistant or a future forensic scientist, huh?" Ema giggled. "But I've always been dying to know just how 'attracted' my sister was to Mia Fey..."

"All I know is that Mia loved that boyfriend of hers, but she'd look so happy every time she talked about Lana Skye. I'm sure something was going on!" Maya said.

"I think I know where she keeps her journals. Let's see...aha! Third drawer down from the right." Another click of the pin, and she slid the drawer open. There they were! Three worn leatherbound books with the musty scent of the past.

For a moment, Ema felt a little guilty. This was her sister's private life, even if it was in the past. Even before the SL-9 incident Lana had been the reserved sort when it came to her love life. But the scent and the secrets that lay within called out to her, and she lifted the topmost book off of the stack.

There were details, all right. Nothing lurid (apparently Lana was reserved even in her private writing), but a lot of feelings. The attraction between her and Mia Fey did indeed run deeper than intellectual, and judging from the blush forming on Maya's cheeks she knew the other girl was letting her imagination run wild.

Unfortunately, the realization that they were reading about their older sisters and the ensuing guilt and oogy feelings forced them to stop after the first journal. Sighing, Ema replaced the book and locked the drawer.

"Maybe that wasn't the best idea."

"Yeah, but at least now we know for sure," Maya said. "I wonder what happened to them? I mean, why didn't they stay together?"

"Different paths, I guess." Ema sighed. "I think your sister would be really glad we met, though."

"She would be...hey, Ema? Let's always be friends, okay? Let's continue where Mia and Lana left off."

Their eyes met, and a moment later so did their lips. Curled up behind Lana's big desk, hidden from sight; Ema sighed happily as Maya's arms locked around her waist, pulling her closer.

"Mm..." Maya parted from the kiss first, her eyes shining. "I don't have anywhere to go this afternoon."

"Me either," Ema said. "And no one ever comes in here while Lana's away..."

"We could stay here a while. Order some burgers, watch some Pink Princess on your tablet? Run the risk of getting caught, but no one would ever convict us because we're just too cute and we're the assistants of a high-profile prosecutor and the world's luckiest defense attorney?"

Ema grinned, pulling her over to the nearby sofa and piling pillows around them.

"And that's what I love about you, Maya. You're completely insane." Maya picked up her phone.

"I'll take that as a yes!"

Chapter Text

"Okay, Lawyer Guardians," Mia said, her tail twitching as the trio neared the park's entrance. "I'll go with Phoenix. Larry, I want you and Miles to work together."

"What?!" Larry cried. "But...but Miles is so mean to me!"

"Ugh, must I work with a clumsy, whiny crybaby who tries to get under a woman's skirt every two seconds?"

"Mia, I can go with Larry," Phoenix offered, trying to keep the peace. "I think Miles-"

"Miles Edgeworth needs to learn how to get along with his opposites," Mia interrupted. "And Larry could use some lessons in responsibility." And not one more protest was made. When Mia told you to do something, you did it.

Phoenix set off with the cat on his shoulder, while Miles tried to keep Larry from goofing off with little success.

Off in the distance, a man with a fiery complexion and spiky hair grinned as the ignorant masses flocked about his park. Soon, he thought, soon their money and energy would be his. Queen Dahlia would be most pleased.

Chapter Text

"And no matter how strong Ike may be, you can't solo a whole map with him. You just can't."

Pearl sniffled and slowly put the controller down, tears in her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Mystic Maya. I told you I wasn't any good at these games." Maya smiled and hugged the girl to her, patting the back of her head.

"It's okay, Pearly. I can just reset the chapter, I wasn't happy with Jill's level-ups anyway."

-

"No! I'm tired of doing what you say."

Mia buried her face in her hands. Even the children they so seldom had on the witness stand were more mature than this man was being at the moment. Beside her, Wright was looking ready to throw in the towel.

I've got to stand firm. I've got to show him how it's done. She composed herself, faced the stand, and cleared her throat.

"Mr. Simpson, for the last time. Tell us what you saw that night on your way home." The balding man crossed his thick arms over his chest and huffed.

"Fine, but I get to have a beer afterwards, okay?"

-

"See? Told ya it'd be fun!"

"I have women's underwear on my head."

"All part of the experience!"

"I have women's underwear on my head."

"It's a look! And come on, admit it, that frat party was totally off the hook."

"I. Have. Women's. Underwear. On. My. Head."

And the next day, the frat house's photo would be all over the internet. Edgeworth never went to another party with Larry Butz again.

-

"Wright."

"Yes?"

"Didn't I tell you to release that Jigglypuff back into the wild?"

"Yeah, about that..."

"And to add insult to injury, you gave me your cold!"

"Sorry."

-

"Wright, are you seriously defending that woman?"

"Look, it's either her or this guy, and I'm not liking the smell coming from him."

"Ugh..."

"I just like to watch them."

"Mr. Denny, you're not helping.

-

"Oh, you're in for a hilarious train wreck. Phoenix Wright is dumb and stupid and has ugly spiky hair and stupid sexy thighs and radiates an aura of goodness that rips down all your barriers and he's probably amazing in bed and he-"

"Oh, for God's sake, Miles, everyone already knows you're gay for Mr. Phoenix Wright. Do you have to keep bringing it up in every conversation?"

"...shut up, Franziska."

-

"Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur..."

"Mm..." Adrian cuddled closer to Franziska. "Keep going. Your voice is so soothing.

Franziska grumbled, feeling like the most foolish fool who ever lived as she rubbed her girlfriend's back and kept singing.

-

"Objection! Take a look at this photograph. The crow-"

"Is clearly among the crowd, Mr. Wright," the judge cut in. "Therefore, the crow is clearly part of the murder. Witness, continue your testimony, please."

"Of CAWS, your honor. Nyahahaha!"

-

"If I know me, he won't like being kicked in the crotch!"

Unfortunately, Simon's evil clone knew just this and beat Simon to the punch. It hurt.

-

YES I would love to see this filled

"So would I, but we're not putting any cookies in that jar until it's clean," Maya said. Rayfa didn't know what she was talking about until she opened it and screamed at the sight of all the spider webs and the layer of dust.

-

"So he's a little rough around the edges. He's a good person, Daddy, you just don't know him well enough yet!"

"I'm sure he's an angel underneath that dirty mouth of his, Trucy. I just don't like the idea of my daughter dating someone whose name is one letter away from my boyfriend's!"

"Well...he says his friends used to call him Zero! Just call him that!"

Chapter Text

"Breathe, Kitten, breathe..."

She knew he was only trying to help, and she appreciated him being here with her instead of sitting in the waiting room waiting to hand out cigars. But if he told her to breathe one more time, she was going to dump his coffee over his head. With a pained grunt, Mia tightened her death-grip on his hand, trying not to feel guilty as she saw him wince.

Finally, the pain passed and she loosened her hold, leaning back against the pillows.

"This is only the beginning," she grumbled. "Only the beginning. This was all your idea anyway, you wanted a baby so badly, you should be the one going through this!"

"Can't," Diego said with a shrug. "Basic biology. But if it helps, I wish I could!"

"Yeah, right," Mia muttered, her other arm draped tiredly over her belly. With all the weight she'd gained and all the pain she was going through she was sure the kid was going to be at least ten pounds and the size of a beach ball coming out.

If that was the case, she was not looking forward to actual childbirth.

"Besides, Kitten, you weren't so against the idea nine months ago," Diego continued. "In fact, you tackled me into bed the second I mentioned it!" Oh, right, Mia thought. He'd made having kids sound so wonderful, she'd conveniently forgotten about the actual having kids part.

"Well, it's your fault for making me want a baby so badly in the first place." She grimaced as he felt another contraction coming on, reaching for his hand and squeezing it so tightly she was surprised it didn't break. When the pain hit she let out a yowl, cursing him for putting her in this position and herself for letting it happen and nature for deciding labor had to hurt so much.

"Never again," she ground out, panting her way through the contraction, "no more after this. You're getting a vasectomy!"

"Woah, let's not be so hasty," Diego said, taking a nervous gulp of coffee. Mia glared at him.

"Fine, then I'll get my tubes tied."

It only got worse from there. It was, frankly, a miracle Diego didn't snap back at her or storm out of the room in a rage as she continued to rant, rave and whine at him. She was relieved when her water finally broke, that meant the end was almost near.

 

"That's it, Kitten, you can do it! You're doing it!"

His encouragements had been a big help at first, but now she just wanted to stuff a sock in his mouth. Thankfully, childbirth wasn't as excruciatingly painful as labor, but it wasn't fun and it still hurt and she just wanted it to be over already.

"You're not touching me again until the kid's eighteen!" she screamed. By then she'd be ready to go through "the change" and she wouldn't be able to carry any more babies and they could just have sex without worrying about things like this.

She barely listened to the words of the doctor or Diego, focusing all her energy on every breath, every push. She was exhausted, once the baby was out she was going to sleep for days and if anyone bothered her she'd scream the loudest objection! she could muster.

Suddenly, she felt a great sense of relief and heard a reedy cry.

"A girl...now, take a second to rest and push again." And then it hit her, of course, no wonder it felt like this one weighed so much, no wonder I felt so huge. Beside her, Diego grinned and she could have smacked him if she wasn't preoccupied at the moment.

Thankfully, the second one came out more quickly than the first. A boy, the doctor said.

"We'll clean them off, and then you two can meet your son and daughter."

Their son and daughter. Mia suddenly broke out in a huge smile, laughing, tears of happiness stinging her eyes. Diego's grin widened and he stood up, leaning over to embrace her and kiss her and suddenly Mia forgot every complaint she'd lodged at him, every curse, every scream.

However, when Diego moved to sit back down, he began to slump to the floor. A nurse caught him before he fell, and Mia rolled her eyes.

"Typical. I just went through all that, and he passes out?"

Chapter Text

RuffledMagistrate101. His secret dual life, his AO3 and forum pen name with carefully disguised syntax and an avatar no one could ever connect to Miles Edgeworth. Only the posters and figures on his bedroom wall knew about the thirty fanfics he'd published and the countless others he'd stashed away in his sock drawer.

Tonight, all of that was going to change. He'd once sworn he'd take this secret to the grave, but this particular person deserved to know.

(Plus, she was the only person he knew wouldn't say oh, I knew it was you all along, Edgeworth! since the girl could barely turn on a computer, let alone browse AO3 until daylight until she found RuffledSamurai101.)

"This is so weird! Does Nick know you invited me over? I had to tell Pearly I was doing some training stuff so she wouldn't think I was on a date and start crying," Maya said.

"Believe me, your cousin has nothing to worry about," Edgeworth said with a tiny smirk. "The only contact we'll have is my hand helping you to turn on my laptop, and guiding you through the steps we're about to take."

"Oh, wow, is that it? It's so tiny! Computers are usually so much bigger, how does it hold so many things?" she giggled. Actually, Edgeworth's laptop was among the bigger sizes of computers lately, everyone having switched to tablets and PalmPilots for their internet needs. But it was almost cute, seeing her eyes light up like the cat who just discovered hanging beads.

He guided her through the process of turning on the laptop, had her look away while he entered the password and showed her which browser to fire up. She took everything in with shiny eyes and eager ears, and soon That Moment arrived. Edgeworth took a deep breath and turned his gaze to her.

"It's time to meet RuffledMagistrate101."

He had her turn away again as he entered the password, and soon they were face to face with RuffledMagistrate101's dashboard. Maya glanced at the computer screen, then Edgeworth, and back again before her eyes widened.

"Oh my God...! You?! Oh...oh, wow, so you're the one all the other Steel Samurai fans are talking about?! I mean, I've heard people say your Carry On, Samurai epic is the post-series fic," she gushed. "I always felt funny because I'd never read it myself but now not only do I finally get to read it, I know the author personally!" Edgeworth felt his entire face burn, all the way to his ears. He'd expected her to be surprised, but he'd had no idea RuffledMagistrate101 was that big a name in the fandom. Sure, his stories got a lot of reviews, but he paid no attention to the fandom offline. If people at conventions or on the street were talking about him...

"It was meant to be a one-shot," he mumbled. A blurb of emotions and feeling, a form of catharsis after his trial and the closure of DL-6. Just before he'd decided to leave the country he'd stayed up all night writing, unaware that tears had been pouring down his cheeks until he finished. "But I got so invested in the plots and the setting and it...snowballed."

He thought back to every time he'd sworn he was done with the story, only to edit the end of the latest chapter to make room for more. In the end Carry On had come out to fifty-five chapters, and the day he finally declared it complete he'd felt as though he'd rolled a boulder uphill for one year, continuously.

One would think he would have been burned out on Steel Samurai fanfiction by then, but he kept writing. None as epic and long as Carry On, but the fans ate it up right down to the tiny drabble he'd posted on a dare one week.

And Maya was scrolling through his profile and reading all his comments, checking the list of users who had Carry On bookmarked, and he felt the blush creep throughout the rest of his skin.

"I take it you're impressed," he said lamely.

"Impressed isn't a strong enough word! Mr. Edgeworth, you're amazing!" she squealed. "I just wanna read all your stuff and roll around in it until I'm drunk on my own feelings!"

"Yes, well..." He coughed. "Not a word to anyone else, understood? Especially Wright." She nodded.

"Your secret's safe with me! And don't worry about the Magatama, only Nick and Pearly can use one. Nick doesn't do the fanfic thing and Pearly still can't use a computer yet, so they won't ask questions." Edgeworth breathed a sigh of relief.

"Now, as flattering as your gushing over my reputation is, I...would like to share some of my favorite stories. As well as fanart, and videos, and fanmixes." He smiled a little. "There's one fanmix in particular I think you'll enjoy."

She was happy, almost blissful as he continued to walk her through the world of online fandom. Almost as if her recent ordeal had never happened, or had happened too long ago to remember.

With every chapter of Carry On he posted, he got at least one review saying the story had helped someone through a tough time. He remembered a few of his favorites that had done the same, especially after the business with Chief Gant and before he left the country. And right now, experiencing those stories and other fanworks was having a similar effect on Maya.

His smile grew as he found himself reading along with her.

Steel Samurai fandom, you'll always be my favorite dirty secret.

Chapter Text

Of course he was fine, he was just a little tired. That typically happened during the last day of a trial, where you'd been working so hard and so long that the last ten minutes lasted an eternity.

Only tired and nothing else, he thought. The sniffles and the throbbing in his head and his constant coughing had nothing to do with...well, anything.

And they're barely even that much of a problem, ja?

"I'm fine," he said for the tenth time, hoping Herr Forehead wouldn't mind too terribly having his mantra borrowed for the day. But the judge's brow furrowed, the witness's eyes were wide with concern and the magician who always sat at Herr Forehead's side looked like he'd just told her Martians were real. Even Fraulein detective looked worried, even if she just rolled her eyes and munched on her snacks as usual.

"If you say so."

"I do say so, Fraulein," he assured her with the biggest smile he could muster. "I am fine! Now, let's get the rest of this trial underway, ja?" And he was fine, he reminded himself. The more you said something the more it was true, right? And that's what he was all about, finding the truth.

He stifled a sneeze, pushed aside the ache in his sinuses, and took the bench. The defense claimed readiness, but only after being prodded by the judge.

"You shouldn't say what you don't mean, Herr Forehead."

"Speak for yourself," the defense muttered. Klavier hid a cough behind his smirk, and the trial began. I can work through this, if I can survive a weeklong tour on only twelve hours sleep total, I can finish today's trial with a cold.

But every sentence was interrupted or punctuated by a sneeze or a cough, he had to pause the discussion to blow his nose, his throat became so sore it hurt to talk. His head throbbed, his vision began to blur and twice the judge or Herr Forehead caught him about to fall asleep.

"Prosecutor Gavin, if you need to go home and rest we can postpone until tomorrow," the judge said sympathetically, and the entire courtroom seemed to agree. For a brief moment Klavier was tempted to accept that offer.

But a Gavin does not stop, does not rest. A prosecutor finds the truth, I must not...I must not...

"Prosecutor Gavin!" Arms caught him just before he hit the floor and he found himself looking up into the concerned, angry face of Apollo Justice. "I'm taking you home and I don't want any arguments."

"H-Herr Forehead, that is entirely-"

"Not only is it necessary, but I will issue a penalty if you continue in this condition!" The judge's voice felt so far away. "Court is adjourned for the trial of Brock Ashton until the prosecution has recovered."

He couldn't avoid the grateful feeling as he passed out against Apollo's shoulder.

 

He woke up an hour later in his own bed, covered with blankets and listening to the faint sounds coming from his kitchen followed by the footsteps coming into his room.

"I heated you up some soup," Apollo said. "I'm not much of a cook, unfortunately, so this was the most I could do. It's chicken rice, since chicken soup's supposed to be good for colds."

"I'm sure it will be fine," Klavier said slowly, sitting up as much as he could. "It's not like I can taste much at the moment, ja?" He coughed a little, his nose still felt clogged but at least he wasn't sneezing too much at the moment.

"Oh...right." Apollo laughed, rubbing the back of his head. "W-well, the warmth will be good for you!" He set the tray table over Klavier's lap, Klavier took the spoon and began to eat slowly. All he could taste was the faint hint of excessive salt found in all canned soups, but it didn't burn his throat when he swallowed.

"You can leave now, if you want," he said. "I'm sure I can take care of myself for a day." The attorney looked about to make some smart-arsed remark, but kept his mouth shut.

"Won't you get lonely?" he finally asked.

"I have lived on my own and taken care of myself for years now, Herr Forehead. A small cold is hardly-"

"Klavier, you passed out during the trial. This is hardly a small cold!" Apollo almost sounded upset. "Look...I know we're on opposite sides of the court, but you've still done a lot to help me and Trucy. I want to help you for once...no, not just for once. I...I almost feel like we're friends sometimes, and that's what friends do." Klavier's spoon paused on the way to his mouth, and he glanced towards the now-blushing attorney.

I've never felt this way towards a man before. He'd only meant to tease Herr Forehead at the time, but at some point it had become the truth. Honest to God feelings, and even through his sickness-muddled mind his thoughts of Apollo Justice were clear as a bell.

"You could get sick, too," he chided weakly, stirring the depths of the soup. Apollo shook his head.

"I don't get sick that easily. Besides, if I did Trucy probably has an entire first aid shelf in her magical panties," he chuckled. Klavier stifled a laugh, fearing he might start coughing if he did.

"You're far too kind."

"I meant what I said." Apollo shifted a little closer, his hand just barely brushing Klavier's. "The trial doesn't re-open until you're feeling better anyway, and Trucy wants to spend that time helping her father with some things. So I've got all the time in the world."

Klavier couldn't help but smirk a little, even as the fatigue was setting in again. He managed a few more spoonfuls of salty soup before he pushed the bowl aside. Apollo nodded in understanding and moved the tray away.

"You get some more rest. I'll tidy up around here a little...unless you want me to stay."

"Nein, there's no reason for you to sit and watch me sleep! I promise, I'm much too tired to sneak out the window." He curled up under the covers, and before he closed his eyes he caught Apollo's gentle smile.

"All right, but call if you need me."

Just before Apollo's footsteps faded away completely, Klavier murmured a thank you, just as sleep settled over him once again.

Chapter Text

Morgan Fey was becoming desperate. Framing Maya for murder had failed, trying to get her killed had failed, trying to scare her away from the Master's seat with ghost stories had failed.

She had one more change to get Pearl onto the Master's seat and be rid of Maya once and for all.

Unfortunately, she hadn't counted on Phoenix Wright not being alone that day and her hired henchman chloroformed an entirely different man. A man who, once he regained consciousness, would not shut up.

"So do Mystics have to stay single, or is that just nuns? Because if any of the women here are flying solo, I just got dumped again!"

"Mr. Butz, do you realize your current situation?" Morgan asked. "I have captured you and will take your life if Mystic Maya-"

"Oh, you know Maya? She's a great girl," the man interrupted. "Too bad she's probably gonna end up with Nick, y'know? Those two are tight, and Larry Butz isn't one to violate the bro code." Morgan rubbed her temples and swore under her breath.

"We are not here to discuss anyone's love life! I am going to kill you if Mystic Maya does not give up the Master's seat!" Now she'd gone and blurted out her motives, and she didn't care. She would have blurted them out to the whole village if it meant getting this fool to show even an ounce of fear, some sort of awareness. "Do you understand, Mr. Butz?"

"Ohhhh...um, no, not really." Of course he wouldn't, Morgan seethed, this man barely knew how to walk and chew gum at the same time, much less the complicated politics of the Fey clan.

"Sooo...are you single? I mean, I don't usually go for older women, but I can get behind being dominated a little..."

When Mystic Maya and Phoenix Wright finally came to rescue the idiot, Morgan practically threw him at both of them.

"I give up! I'll bow down to Master Maya, I'll concede defeat to Misty even now, I'll never make another strawberry dessert again as long as I live, just get him out of here and never let my path cross with his again!"

Mystic Maya blinked, but Phoenix Wright sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Larry, what did you do to her?"

"Nothing, I was just making conversation with her but boy, does she get dark!" Larry shrugged. "Let's go get some burgers, on Nick!"

"Hey, wait! I never said-"

"Good idea, Larry!"

Morgan wondered if an electric fence would keep Larry Butz away from the village from here on out.

Chapter Text

"Why is there dog food smeared all over my sofa?"

"Er..."

"And mucus under my desk?"

"Ummm..."

"And toothpaste on my chair, and now my suit?"

Larry's nervous laugh was only a speck of the fear he felt as the smooth-looking blonde man peered down at him through the shiniest glasses he'd ever seen.

"It's a long, funny story, sir! You see, someone I know used to have this office, and I wanted to play a little joke on him..."

The man smirked, and somehow Larry managed not to piss his pants.

"Someone you know? I take it you don't read the newspaper, or keep in touch with this person," he said way too calmly. "Otherwise, you would know that he no longer works in this office. Perhaps you would not know it belonged to me, but regardless, you would have thought twice about pulling your immature pranks."

Larry grinned, even knowing it was useless given that a man like this could smell fear from miles away.

"Would it help if I paid for your dry-cleaning and cleaned up the mess myself?" The man blinked, then suddenly his smirk grew more sinister.

"I believe we can work something out. Tell me, what is your name?"

"Larry Butz, sir!"

"Kristoph Gavin, attorney at law." He extended his hand. "From now on, Mr. Butz, you work for me."

And that's how Gavin Law Offices fell into its worst losing streak and nearly went out of business before Kristoph finally kicked Larry out and replaced him with a man in a red suit who yelled all the time.

Chapter Text

"Objection! I insist-"

"Objection! Your insistence-"

And there it was, once again. That stupid sound clip! Edgeworth huffed in frustration, Phoenix buried his head in his hands and wished he'd never introduced Maya to the sound-record function on her cell phone.

"OBJECTION!" both men shouted. Maya giggled.

"It's the truth, though!"

"Miss Fey, if you interrupt this trial once more to play that irritating jingle, I will see to it that His Honor has you removed from this courtroom!"

But the Judge shook his head, much to Phoenix's surprise. Maya smirked.

"Who do you think showed me where to upload the sound clip?"

He couldn't tell whose scream of exasperation was louder, his or Edgeworth's.

Chapter Text

It was a joke, he reasoned. Someone, probably Fool Bright or Athena or Justice-dono, had gifted him some ridiculous game about dating pigeons on his Steam account. Which he'd only gotten because Aura thought he needed something to unwind with that didn't involve coming up with new sword metaphors. (Maybe she'd been the one to gift it to him. She did have a twisted sense of humor at times.)

He would play it once, and drop the anonymous sender a message pretending to thank them for the useless gift. It's a joke. Who could take a premise like dating birds seriously?

He booted up the game, rolled his eyes at the sappy music and kept the default name for his character. Here goes the biggest waste of time possible.

He got to know the birds, one by one. Ryouta was the standard childhood friend, nice and gentle and bland. Kazuaki was the lazy genius type who slept all the time, Sakuya the puffed-up little prick Simon wanted to smack...even the scary doctor made him roll his eyes. He's seen too many bad suspense-horror movies.

The only bird who caught his attention and intrigue was the quiet one in the library. Nageki, he thought. He didn't know how the romance mechanic worked, but once he figured it out he would try his luck with the mourning dove. He's cynical and favors quiet. I like him better than the others so far.

Halfway through the game, though, his eyes stopped rolling and he started taking longer to progress through the screens to read all of the dialogue. Nageki had some secrets, and Simon realized he wanted to learn them.

When it was time for Nageki to leave the library, he felt his stomach turn to ice.

As I talked to you I finally remembered... Why I can't leave. I killed myself in this room.

"W-what?!"

He read until his vision began to blur and when Nageki made his final confession Simon realized he was crying. No! No, don't leave, is there a way to save him, maybe I made the wrong choice-

He forced himself away from the computer, poured a cup of coffee and fixed a sandwich. He had to play another route, maybe you had to finish them all to save Nageki. Or at least find out why he'd killed himself.

It took him two days to play every route, and he still hadn't learned anything. The nightmares of being bisected by a chukar partridge or eating Yuuya hadn't helped, and it was a miracle he could still look at Taka without shuddering.

A message appeared in his Steam inbox. Play Bad Boy's Love.

Even Shuu's true ending couldn't have prepared him for the moment that box appeared in the classroom and he realized why the game had suddenly switched to Ryouta's point of view.

It was two in the morning when he finally finished the route, complete with the extra ending.

He hadn't felt this drained since the aftermath of the UR-1 retrial. So many bittersweet and confused feelings, he needed to talk to someone but it hit him that he'd just spent two days and a whole night having such gripping feelings about a game where a human girl dated birds.

"Taka," he murmured. "What has become of my life?"

He never did send user A. Nony. Mouse a message. By now he didn't care anymore who they were, but he knew dating games about pigeons weren't something to take lightly.

Chapter Text

Logically, he knew he was being foolish. Legally, he knew he if the police caught him following two young women around town without their knowledge, he could be questioned. It didn't look good for a just-released jailbird to be stalking anyone.

And most of all, he knew this was Juniper Woods. A girl who not only knew Athena as well as he did but was more harmless than a bunny rabbit.

But all of this was being overshadowed by the fact that Athena was going on a date, after dark, walking around town where anything dangerous could happen. The dark age of the law was over, but the world was still far from an ideal place, and the promise he'd made to his late mentor still held fast. Protect Athena, protect her at all costs.

 

He made his way towards the park, relieved to find no police nearby and not much of a crowd. As much as he didn't feel right without Taka on his shoulder, he was glad he'd left him at home tonight. A screeching hawk was a surefire way to draw attention to yourself.

"...beautiful night," he heard Athena say, watched her and Juniper spread out a blanket and sit down. They had a basket between them, likely a picnic.

"Mm, the air is so soft and clear, and the flowers are especially bright," Juniper said as she took something out-a bottle! A glass bottle that looked all to much like-

No! Not only were neither Athena or Juniper legal drinking age, but did Juniper intend to get Athena drunk? Or did they both mean to get drunk, and...

Simon shuddered, trying to rid his mind of the images. Don't panic. So far, it's completely innocent...

"It's almost a perfect night," Athena said.

"A-almost? Should I have brought oranges instead?" Juniper stammered. "I know you like them best, but strawberries...well, they're-"

"Junie, don't worry! You know I'd be happy with whatever fruit you brought." Athena stood up, and suddenly her voice grew louder. "It's that samurai lurking in the bushes nearby that gives me the creeps!"

Shit! And then Athena was walking over, grabbing his arm and pulling him to his feet with way too much strength for someone younger and smaller than him. Simon's face burned, and for once he wished he'd studied the way of the ninja rather than the samurai.

"Really, Simon, I know you think of me as a little sister, but this is ridiculous," Athena scolded. "What did you think Junie and I were going to do, hit a strip club and have an orgy with the dancers?" In the distance, he saw Juniper cover her hand with her mouth to stifle a giggle, and Simon groaned.

"It's late and you're in a barely-populated park, all alone," he said. "Why couldn't you have just gone to a movie?"

"Because you'd follow us there to make sure we didn't pick anything over PG-13, wouldn't you?" Athena smirked. "It's not that I don't appreciate the concern. Really, I do. But right now, I'm trying to have a romantic picnic with my girlfriend." And Simon remembered the bottle, giving her a stern look.

"A picnic with a bottle of wine you're not legally allowed to have?"

"It's sparkling cider." Juniper was coming over to them now, tapping the label of the bottle. "I'm sorry you were so worried, Mr. Blackquill, but it's very rude of you to be so mistrustful! You know very well how much she means to me!" And Simon sighed, embarrassed and defeated as the logical parts of him took over.

"I apologize," he murmured. "I promised Cykes-dono I would take care of her daughter, but if she could see me right now..."

"She'd just laugh at how silly you were being," Athena said. "Simon, we'll be okay. Go home and rest, watch some TV, read a book. You need to relax!"

There was no reason for him to worry, and he knew that. Sparkling cider, fruit, a perfectly safe park, and even if he didn't see any police he knew they were nearby.

"Very well." He smiled a little. "Enjoy your date, Athena. Woods-dono." He bowed stiffly, waiting for the two to return to their blanket before he turned around and made his way home.

Maybe he should take in a movie tonight. I need a life outside of visits to Aura in prison and worrying about Athena, after all.

Maybe Justice-dono was free.

Chapter Text

"Your Honor, every person with at least basic knowledge of ghost-types knows that Litwick is infamous for tricking victims," Nahuyta said. "It presents itself as a guide, luring the victim to a secluded area, where it proceeds to drain his or her life force."

"True," Athena said. "Yet the autopsy showed nothing otherworldly. The victim died of suffocation due to a fire."

"A fire that Litwick could have started." Nahuyta shook his head. "There's simply no other answer."

"But-"

"Ms. Cykes," Nahuyta said, "your love of cute Pokémon is well-known, and there's nothing wrong with that. But you must learn to accept that cute does not always mean innocent." Athena fumed. He wasn't trying to talk down to her this time, but his tone could still come off as condescending.

Plus, she was almost certain she could sense some discord behind the words. But it was too early for a therapy session, right now she had a good bit of evidence that she intended to put to good use.

"Detective Skye gave me a sample of the ashes," she said. "The ashes proved that the fire was started by man-made implements, no trace of Pokémon DNA was found." Nahuyta blanched.

"I see. Yet, isn't it possible that the accused could have caused the murder by knocking over a can of lighter fluid?" There was that discord again, Athena thought. It wasn't like Nahuyta to grasp at straws, that was the defense's job!

"It doesn't have any arms."

"But Litwick are still known murderers," Nahuyta retorted, clutching his beads, and by now the fear behind the words was so strong she didn't need Widget to highlight it. "They're little monsters who feed on the souls of the innocent, and for that, the accused must-"

"Prosecutor Sahdmadhi!" Athena pounded her fist on the desk. "Get a hold of yourself! Even back then you weren't so desperate to prove the defendant guilty!" Nahyuta froze like a startled rabbit, his cheeks going red.

"My apologies. That was unseemly of me." He sighed. "It's not something I want to dwell on. Please, let us continue the trial, shall we?" Apollo, in the gallery, shook his head.

"Athena, he needs a therapy session if he's going to be able to go on. Just trust me." Nahyuta gave his brother a dirty look.

"You said you'd never-"

"I'm not. You're going to."

Within moments of careful probing, Athena had successfully confirmed her suspicion.

"You're afraid of Litwick." Nahyuta bowed his head, sighing with shame and relief.

"When I was a child, I ran afoul of one in the woods. I was not yet aware of their reputation, and...it led me to a dangerous place," he confessed. "It ran away when we heard Apollo yelling at the top of his lungs, looking for me, but my father later told me that had Apollo not shown up..."

"...it could have drained you," Athena said.

"Precisely," Nahyuta said. "However, you forcing me to admit this does not change the fact that the accused could have committed the crime!" He tossed his braid proudly over his shoulder, but Athena could sense the gratefulness in his heart.

"Of course not. We'll go over the evidence carefully, and I hope we can prove my client innocent." She smiled. "Your honor, let us resume the trial!"

Unfortunately, the trial ended without a verdict due to a lack of evidence. Even if Athena was confident in Litwick's innocence, there still wasn't enough to point to a real killer, and for that they'd need another day of investigation.

But as she left the courtroom, she saw Nahuyta smile at her. Apollo smiled, too, and they made their way to Cafe le Nah for a quick, cheap dinner.

Chapter Text

"Clay Terran is fin-owww!" A sharp hiss. "Oww..."

"Clay!" Apollo drew back, his cock was barely in and Clay was so tense despite the faked smile, his nails digging painfully into Apollo's shoulder. "I guess I didn't use enough lube, I'm sorry."

"No, it's fine! Please, don't stop, I'll be-"

"I'm hurting you." Apollo shook his head. "We really don't have to do this tonight. I thought we were ready, but..."

"Apollo..." Clay sighed. "Maybe I'm just scared. The books say it hurts a lot for the guy on the bottom at first, that's why I let you be on top. I didn't want to hurt you." A catch-22 if there ever was one, Apollo thought. His cock softened as he shifted to lie down next to Clay, squeezing his hand.

Clay's first night home had started off so well, with so many reasons to celebrate. The closure of the UR-1 incident, Clay finally getting to go to space after his recovery from a wound that had almost killed him, the Dark Age of the Law coming to a close after eight years.

Their night out itself had been perfect. Dinner at a swanky place and a few drinks to top it off, a night of stargazing in People Park, back to Apollo's apartment.

They'd been intimate plenty of times in the past, but they'd never properly fucked and they'd been excited to take their relationship to that level. Apollo had known it wouldn't be perfect, but he hadn't expected it to go this wrong. He'd even gone to Mr. Wright for advice, face flushed as red as his suit while Mr. Wright tried to keep a stiff poker face and they prayed Trucy and Athena weren't listening in.

It won't be perfect the first time. Anal sex needs to be handled delicately if you're a virgin, on both ends. Just...use lots of lube, and try to relax.

He'd used half a tube of lube and three fingers. Clay seemed to enjoy that, maybe they should have kept it at that until he was sure they were both ready.

"How does anyone do this?" Clay ventured. "We're not naive, Apollo, we knew it'd be tough going in, but..." He sighed. "I thought I was ready. I thought after cheating death and going up into space I could handle your dick." Apollo couldn't help chuckling.

"I think I was too eager myself," he sighed, pressing a kiss to Clay's shoulder. "I thought I was being gentle, I thought the lube would take care of everything."

"Correction, I'm not naive." Clay tugged playfully at Apollo's hair. Apollo made a face.

"Look, it worked for my fingers. I forgot cocks are different beasts!" He sighed. "Okay, I'm naive!"

"But you wouldn't be my Apollo if you weren't." Clay hugged him closer, and they lay in silence for a while, so Clay's discomfort could fade and Apollo could clear his head.

Maybe they had rushed into this. There was no deadline for anal sex, and it wasn't as if they'd felt it was missing from their usual intimacies. On some level, Apollo knew it was because he'd almost lost Clay, that it was a miracle he'd survived and recovered as well as he had. A sort of possessive feeling had gripped him, the need to either make Clay truly his or for Clay to do the same for him.

So foolish, he thought, nestling closer to his boyfriend's warm body, idly reaching to trace the scar on Clay's chest. Clay shivered, taking his hand and squeezing it.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"I know." Their lips met in a soft, quick kiss. "We don't have to."

"I still want to." Clay's fingers slid down to stroke his half-hard cock. "I'll relax this time, I promise."

"Are you-"

"I won't break." Clay kissed him again, shifting to straddle his hips. Apollo began the preparations anew, and this time they both moved, little by little, until he was fully inside Clay.

It was still a tight fit. Clay still winced, but breathed deeply, trying to stay calm.

"Clay Terran will be fine."

"And so will Apollo Justice!"

It was perfectly fine. They took time to form a rhythm, the lube made their hands slippery, and Apollo came long before Clay was ready and had to settle for finishing him off with his hand.

But it was still fine. Practice made perfect, and they'd just have to practice as much as they could.

Chapter Text

You know I told you once tonight, that you could always speak your mind, you work so hard to say what's right...

The clock radio's blaring some song from decades before they were born. Apollo groans, he's already hit snooze twice this morning and they should probably get up, but the bed is so warm and so are Clay's arms.

Why does it have to be Tuesday? Why can't it be a break week or something?

Not that Apollo minds school. Actually, he likes it, his classes are great and the harder he works the closer he comes to his dreams. Usually, he's up and ready, doing his Chords of Steel workout in the shower once the alarm's gone off the first time.

But today, he just wants to stay in bed, in Clay's embrace.

"Hey." Clay murmurs against his neck, nuzzles him a little. "You gonna turn that off?"

"Dunno." Tell me am I getting in too deep? Every night I'm talking in my sleep sings the radio. He's not sure why he's listening other than it's catchy. "Why don't you turn it off?"

"Nope." Clay hugs him closer from behind, pressing a kiss to his shoulder. "That'd mean letting go of you."

"Yeah, that'd suck."

Do you think we both should let it show? Or is this just another game that you and I pretend to play?

The clock reads 7:50. Class is in half an hour and while it doesn't take long to get ready, this is a "stop for breakfast" morning since they're out of coffee and down to the last spoonful of Rice Krispies in the pantry.

He needs to double check to make sure his homework's in order.

"You've got a mole on your shoulder," Clay murmurs. "It's cute."

He wishes it was Sunday morning.

"Your face is cute." He turns in the embrace, meeting Clay's lips with his own. One kiss becomes two, then three, the radio changing to some gooey contemporary love song. This time Apollo reaches over and smacks the snooze button.

"This mean you're getting up?" Clay asks after another kiss. Apollo sighs, curling further into his embrace.

"You mean you'll let me?"

"Good point." Clay nuzzles him. "Just tell the professor you got sick. She'll get it."

"Can't lie to a law professor," Apollo says, "they've got powers."

"Curses, foiled again."

"Too bad your earliest class isn't till like eleven," Apollo mutters, "I like when we walk together."

"Me too." Clay's hold loosens, reluctantly. "You better take your shower, then." But just as Apollo's about to get up, there's a text message on his phone.

The professor's out sick. No class today.

He grins. Clay grins, pulling him back under the covers.

"Well, never mind, then." Apollo leans back against Clay's chest, closing his eyes. It's Tuesday morning, there's no class, and he hears it starting to rain outside.

He hits snooze again as the clock starts blaring some rock song. His next class isn't until noon. Clay nuzzles his neck, kisses his ear, and Apollo sighs contentedly.

Best Tuesday morning I've ever spent.

Chapter Text

The day they signed the lease, Adrian realized just how close they were to the superstore. They could practically walk there, buy all the things they needed and bring it home within one trip.

"Absolutely not," Franziska said. "My wife will not live in a home furnished by a tacky superstore!"

Wife. Adrian sighed happily, lifting her right hand to examine the elegant gold and topaz ring. Even three months into the marriage she still felt like they were on a honeymoon. Even at moments where Franziska was particularly picky.

"But it's so cheap there."

"Exactly. Low-quality plastic chairs and dishes, value-packs of snack foods, and the clothing right next to the home and garden aisle." Franziska shuddered. "We're going to Home Goods, and that's final. We can more than afford it."

Franziska got her way in the end, but Adrian honestly didn't mind. Driving a little further and having to call on Miles to help them set up the rugs and the furniture was a small price to pay when the den looked so soft and warm, the dining room elegant, and the bedroom the perfect mix.

They did go to the superstore for the outdoor decorations and garden tools, though. Franziska acted grumpy, but Adrian saw her smile now and then at the absurdly cute metal sculptures.

Adrian had taken up cooking over the past few years, and after three nights of takeout, they finally went grocery shopping. They made chicken alfredo and a crisp caesar salad that night, but planned meals for the new crock-pot for days either of them had to work late.

The new bed was a dream. Strong enough to hold up during the most wild sex, but soft enough to fall asleep instantly when they were done. Franziska, so standoffish and reserved towards others, held her so close, so possessively as they slept.

Shoe was adjusting better than they anticipated. Aside from hiding under the bed for a whole day and Adrian having to keep him in the bathroom so he wouldn't soil the floors, he seemed happy. Sitting at the windows, watching the birds and the rabbits in the yard. Meowing at six in the morning for food, which even Franziska didn't mind anymore.

Years ago, Adrian would have thought it impossible to be this happy. That she could open herself up, love someone and be loved in return. Years ago, the ghost of an unspoken longing hung over her head.

The ghost rested now, though, put to sleep by years of healing and trust. She closed her eyes, curling into Franziska's embrace. Tomorrow was Saturday, and Franziska's sister was coming to visit with her family.

It would be yet another good day, and she knew more would follow.

Chapter Text

I should've known
From how I felt
When we were together
And even more when we were apart

If he'd ever looked in a mirror when he insisted he didn't have any feelings for Klavier Gavin whatsoever, he'd have spotted himself as a liar instantly. He had all the classic symptoms: blushing, increased heart rate, sighing dreamily, kissing a photo of the man's pretty smirking face every night before he went to bed. And of course, the constant dreams ranging from romantic to erotic.

You tiptoed in
And you got under my skin
You snuck your way right into my heart

Most prosecutors didn't help the defense with their investigations, call them cute pet names, or treat a court case like a friendly sparring session. Or buy them a drink or a cup of coffee after work.

In hindsight, he wasn't surprised he'd fallen for Klavier so fast, no matter how hard he tried to deny it. Glimmerous fop, yes, but a caring and thoughtful fop who congratulated Apollo when he won a case. Thanked him for bringing out the truth even when it got Klavier's own friend and bandmate arrested.

I put up barriers
To shield my emotions
A wall that you could never break apart

Oh, he denied it. Brushed off the flirty comments, groaned out loud at the suggestive ones, pretended he only cared about the investigation even when eventually all he could think about was kissing that pretty face.

But like a ninja of love (ninja of love)
Rappelling down from above (down from above)
You snuck your way right into my heart

And now, here he was, ringing the man's doorbell, holding a rose and feeling like a complete sap. Klavier answered, that stupid face looking kissable as always, and Apollo forced himself forward, pressing the flower into Klavier's hand.

"I love you, Klavier Gavin!"

Klavier grabbed him around the waist, pulled him into the apartment, producing a bouquet of roses bigger than his own head.

"You stole my thunder, Herr Forehead, but I've never been happier to have it stolen. Why, from the moment I saw you, I knew you were the one! I wasn't kidding when I said I'd never felt-"

"Are you going to kiss me or what?" Apollo teased. Klavier smirked, and did just that.

Chapter Text

Maybe it was just his heightened perception talking, but Clay was acting very strange lately.

When they'd first met, Clay had been this highly emotional, frail boy mourning his mother. He fell sick often, Apollo would stay with him in the nurse's office while he rested or waited for his dad to come get him, and he remembered the pills Clay had to take to keep his health in check.

They were sixteen now, and Clay had grown stronger, healthier, more confident in himself. "And it's all because of you, Apollo," he said anytime Apollo remarked on the change. Sure, Apollo was flattered, but it wasn't like he alone was responsible. Clay's dad, their other friends, the doctor, they'd taken good care of him, too.

"But you're special," Clay said one afternoon. "Apollo, you're just...so amazing! You're a big, gooey cinnamon roll made of sunshine!"

"I'm what?" Apollo felt his entire face go hot, he was sure even his ears were red. Clay nodded, sighing dreamily.

"You're always so helpful, so nice to everyone, even that teacher we had in 9th grade who always seemed to be in a bad mood," he said. "Like...when I think about how you want to be a lawyer, it makes perfect sense. Mr. Wright, the guy you look up to? He saves people, just like you saved me." Apollo's heart quickened, but right now he wasn't sure if it was from embarrassment or something else.

"Y-you're giving me way too much credit."

"It's the truth." Clay's hand was on his now, and Apollo realized he didn't want him to let go. Actually, now that he thought about it, his hands always felt warmest when Clay held them even if he didn't have gloves. No, scratch that, he felt warm when Clay held his hand. Or smiled at him. Or...was just near him.

And deep down, a selfish part of him was flattered every time Clay gave him all the credit for how much stronger he'd gotten.

It's been a long time since I've meant that much to a person. He knew his foster parents cared about him, their friends liked him, but Clay...

He looks at me like I'm the moon and the stars themselves.

And considering just how much Clay loved the moon and the stars, that was a Big Deal.

"I know I'm laying it on thick," Clay said, "but I mean every word. Apollo, I..." He laced their fingers together. "I think I love you."

Apollo grinned, placing his free hand on the back of Clay's head.

"I thought so. And the thing is...Clay, I love you too. I was just too dumb to realize it until-"

"You're not dumb," Clay said. "You're a big gooey cinnamon roll made of sunshine, remember?" Apollo blushed.

"That's still a pretty embarrassing nickname. Not to mention a long one!

"Hey, it suits you." Clay leaned closer, until they could practically taste each other's breath. "To me, you are the most perfect being in existence." Apollo smiled, ruffling Clay's hair.

"You're such a sap."

"I know." But when their lips met, it was about as warm and soft and delicious as a cinnamon roll, and as warm as sunshine.

Chapter Text

She used to braid strands of their hair together for fun, and Simon grumbled but didn't undo the braids until they needed to break apart. It was fun, a cute way of showing she loved him.

Now, though, she wondered how she could have ever thought that was a good idea.

"Hold still, you're making it worse," Simon grumbled. Athena made a face, trying to wiggle her fingers into the mass. Let's leave our hair down just this once, okay? It'll be fine! How could she have been so naive? Her hair was prone to frizz in the bad weather unless she kept it in that ponytail, and Simon's was just ridiculous. She didn't even think it was possible for it to get this tangled, even during the wildest sex.

"Maybe we better get a comb," she said.

"No. I refuse to walk to the bathroom looking like some ridiculous conjoined creature."

"Um, Simon, we're in your apartment. No one's going to see us."

"Taka will." Athena rolled her eyes. Taka was the last living being to care what they did, but Simon never seemed to believe it.

"Then put a cloth over his cage," she said."

"Just hold still. I think-ow!"

"Yeow! Careful, you're getting it caught on my earring!" Athena's hand moved to unwrap it and hold her ear out of the way, which unfortunately left her with just one free hand to help untangle them.

"I've almost got-ugh, no, that isn't it."

"Simon-owwwowowowow just get a comb, please, Taka's probably sleeping anyway!"

"A comb would just snap in half under this."

"Then get a pen, or a pin, or a chopstick!"

"Just let me-ow!"

"Ah!"

It took them half an hour to fix the mess, and they took a solemn vow right then and there never to let their hair down during sex again. It wasn't romantic, it wasn't sexy, and Athena no longer thought braiding the strands together was cute.

Note to self: buy extra hair gel tomorrow.

Chapter Text

The room was cold and damp, and he couldn't move. At first, Clay had tried to focus on the fact that at least he could see, but the little light bulb hanging from the ceiling was flickering and it was a safe bet that no one was coming to replace it anytime soon.

Just an ordinary case at first, Clay eager to aid Apollo any way he could. Even if it meant dealing with dark places, he'd be safe as long as they were together, right?

A call distracted Apollo, just long enough to give someone time to grab Clay and drag him to the abandoned Bluecorp offices. Knock him out, lock him in a room.

Tie him to a chair.

Breathe deeply, Terran. Remember, you've been to space, you've been through worse, you can-

The heat of the ropes suddenly seeped through the cuffs of his shirt and pants, and he remembered. Clay shook his head, stifling a whimper, not now, not now. He could be back any minute, don't let him see you sweat, don't panic, don't panic-

(--paralyzed in fear, the weight of the space suit, the hands on his shoulders, darkness, pain, PAIN)

The ropes felt thicker, heavier, and Clay squeezed his eyes shut. You're fine. You're fine. You're-

(bleeding, bleeding, he couldn't move, couldn't breathe--)

A cry escaped his throat, his heart pounded frantically, his vision blurred, he felt sick. Hot tears pricked at his eyes but he wouldn't allow them to fall, he hadn't cried that day even when he thought his life was at an end and he'd done his best not to cry even when the nightmares and the dark haunted him.

The ropes. They were getting tighter, his chest tighter, heavier, sick dizzy feelings paralyzing pain trapped blood suffocation can't breathe can't breathe can't breathe-

CRACK.

The sound of splintering wood, a voice shouting his name, the ropes being cut. Feeling flooded back to his body, Clay taking in huge gulps of air, air, sweet air.

"I'm so sorry." Apollo helped him sit up; stroking his back. Clay swallowed, vaguely aware of the tears running down his cheeks now.

"I couldn't breathe," he finally managed to gasp. Apollo's eyes were heavy with concern as he handed Clay a few tissues.

"I guess hugging you would be a bad idea, then." Clay wiped at his eyes and blew his nose, feeling his heartbeat very slowly returning to normal. When his vision cleared, he noticed the scratches on Apollo's hand.

"You're bleeding."

"It's no big deal." Apollo squeezed Clay's hand and helped him stand up. "Come on, let's get out of here. Athena and Mr. Wright are investigating the lobby, they should be done soon." His face grew serious. "But don't leave my side anymore, okay? That's twice I thought I'd lost you, I don't think I could handle a third."

"Sorry I made you worry," Clay murmured, leaning heavily on Apollo. Apollo wrapped an arm loosely around him, smiling gently.

"I worry because you mean the world to me."

When they caught up with Mr. Wright and Athena, they went back to the office. Bright colors, space, light. Trucy smiling, a takeout menu in her hand.

"Get some rest," Apollo said, helping him lie down on the couch. "We'll let you know when we're ready to eat."

Clay rested his head on Apollo's lap and slept for two hours.

Chapter Text

"Breakfast!" Athena looked up from pouring her coffee as Clay strode into the room, laying out several containers. Apollo nearly dropped the box of cereal in surprise before shaking his head and smiling.

"Really, Clay, this is the fourth time in two weeks," he said. "When I said you could be the Wright Anything Agency's cook, I was kidding."

"Yeah, you don't have to get up before dawn just to make us..." Athena eyed the containers. "Eggs, bacon, cinnamon rolls, fruit salad? Clay, seriously! How long did this take you to make?"

"Not that long." Clay shrugged. "Besides, I like to cook."

"That doesn't mean you can't let us do it once in a while," Athena chided.

"To be fair, Athena, it's not like anyone else here can cook, especially this kind of feast." Mr. Wright smiled as he and Trucy joined them, brushing snow from their coats. "Thank you, Clay."

"Hey, no worries." Clay set out six plates while Athena poured coffee for everyone and a hot chocolate for Trucy. Clay had been a regular fixture at the office since the UR-1 retrial, just like he had been at the Space Center all those years ago. For Christmas, he'd given her a copy of the HAT-1 photo, and Apollo had teased that he didn't need to introduce her to Clay since they'd met before.

Juniper arrived at the office moments later, Clay passing the sixth plate to her. Junie had also become a frequent visitor, she and Clay got along almost instantly, and lately it was hard to find one of the four without the other three. Trucy called them the Primary Star Flowers affectionately; surprisingly, it was Apollo who suggested they officially adopt that name. Hey, for once a nickname actually makes sense!

After breakfast, Juniper watered and tended to Charley. Athena was still amazed at how long the office had had that plant, according to Mr. Wright his late mentor was the one who had named it.

"Obviously, someone's been taking very good care of him," Juniper observed. "He seems happy."

"He's a good plant," Apollo said. "I mean, it's a good plant. A nice-looking one." Clay smirked, nudging Apollo's shoulder.

"It's okay, 'Pollo, you can admit you're not the skeptic you pretend to be." Apollo blushed, glaring playfully at him.

"Shut it, Starlight." Athena giggled. Apollo really did seem to mellow out more when they were all together, even joking right back when the others teased him. Maybe it was the relief of knowing Clay had come out of the bombing safe and sound, the real culprit finally behind bars, the dark age of the law coming to an end.

Athena knew she felt a lot lighter after the dust had settled. Simon was free, Aura was trying to make amends with her, their loved ones were safe, everyone who'd been a victim of the phantom and the dark age of the law had been avenged.

At last, Mom...you can finally rest. I'm okay now.

"Thena?" Juniper's hand on her shoulder brought her out of her thoughts. "What's on your mind?"

"I'm just...so glad we're all here," Athena sighed. "That we can all spend the day hanging around the office doing nothing like this."

"We have a lot to be grateful for," Mr. Wright said. "I'll admit, I was pretty scared for a while. Everyone I cared about, in grave danger..."

"And Mr. Starbuck," Trucy said softly. "I'm sorry, Clay. He meant a lot to you, didn't he?" Clay nodded, smiling sadly.

"And I know I meant a lot to him. So much he gave his own life to save mine," he said. "But he wouldn't want me to mourn forever...and I'll fulfill both of our dreams in just a few weeks."

"We'll miss you," Apollo said. "Who's gonna make us breakfast?"

"Hey, Junie can cook!" Athena giggled. "Or she can teach us." Juniper smiled, squeezing Clay's hand.

"But you'll be back in a few months, and we can make up for all that lost time."

"Speaking of which," Mr. Wright said, "I just happened to get some free tickets to the Amazing Nine-Tales's latest show. Mayor Tenma insisted, seeing as Apollo helped clear his name." Trucy's eyes lit up.

"That means I can see Jinxie! How about it, you four?" Athena grinned.

"I'm game."

"I wouldn't mind checking this guy out," Clay said.

"As long as Jinxie doesn't mistake me for a demon again, count me in," Apollo laughed. Juniper seemed to consider it for a moment before she nodded.

"I've never been to a wrestling match before. Maybe it'll be fun."

They gathered their coats and headed out into the cold, crisp January air. A wrestling match today, and maybe tonight would be good for a bad movie night.

Life just felt perfect.

Chapter Text

Two days after the UR-1 retrial, it rained. Apollo didn't show up at the office, claiming he was sick, but when the boss went to his apartment to check on him that evening he only found Mikeko.

"He probably just wanted a day off," Trucy said when he returned. Mr. Wright frowned, shaking his head.

"He could have asked for one. I know he's been through a lot lately, he didn't need to make some excuse," he said. "I've offered to talk it out with him, but he just..."

"Keeps saying he's fine," Trucy finished. But he wasn't fine, Athena could hear the immeasurable sadness in every word he said. He smiled, but it felt forced, and he even let Trucy rope him into helping with her magic act.

He's still in pain, he's doing everything and anything to sweep it under the rug, but the more he fakes it the more I can hear his sorrow.

Athena stood up and grabbed her raincoat and umbrella. She had a feeling of where Apollo might be right now, and even if she couldn't be the person to make it better she had to at least try.

"I'll be back later. Hopefully not alone," she said. Trucy offered a worried smile.

"I hope so, too."

"Stay safe, Athena," Mr. Wright said. "I'll make some hot chocolate for when you two get back." Athena smiled a little and headed out the door, towards the cemetery.

 

As it turned out, she didn't need to go that far. A few blocks away stood a drenched, shivering Apollo, Clay's coat draped over his shoulders. She heard his breath, hitched and deep with the occasional swallow or hiccup or murmur of Clay's name.

Oh, Apollo... Athena's eyes stung with tears, and she blinked them back as she slowly approached him.

"Hey." He gave a startled noise as he briefly froze, slowly turning to her. His trademark spikes lay limp against his forehead, his face damp from either rain water or tears.

"Athena." He forced a small smile. "Sorry I worried you. Tell Mr. Wright I'll be fine, okay? He didn't have to send you out in this to find me." Athena shook her head, stepping closer to him.

"He didn't send me. I came on my own."

"Why?" No surprise in the word, only sadness, desparation. "I told you, everything's fine now. Mr. Blackquill's safe, Trucy's safe, we caught Clay's killer, your mother's been avenged...it's over. Why live in the past?"

"Everything's not fine," Athena said, trying not to sound forceful. "Just because the killer's behind bars doesn't mean..." She swallowed. "It didn't bring them back, Apollo. Nothing can, nothing will." Apollo's shoulders hitched.

"I-I know that! But they also wouldn't want us to be sad forever, right? Clay would kick my ass if he knew I was still crying over him!" The words shook with discord so strong she tightened her grip on the umbrella.

"Have you?"

"Huh?"

"You said you were still crying over Clay...but you haven't cried at all, have you." Apollo stifftened, pulling the coat tighter around himself.

"I'm...I'm fine. I have to be fine, or Clay..." His voice wavered. "I promised him I'd be fine, no matter what. I...I can't..."

"Apollo." She caught his wrist with the hand not holding the umbrella, stared into his eyes. "We can't lie to each other, remember?" He flinched, but didn't try to pull away from her. "You miss him. It hurts, and it's okay that it hurts."

"A-Athena..." He swallowed. "Please, just...I can't, I don't have the right to, especially not to you after all you suffered and the way I treated-" She squeezed his wrist tightly, and he winced. "H-hey!"

"Don't bring that up, Apollo, don't even bring that up. Clay was your best friend, you loved him, you were in pain! I'd have reacted the same way if Junie died and I thought you'd done it!" She pulled him closer, lifting the umbrella until he was over both of their heads. A surprisingly easy feat even though he was a few inches taller than her. He avoided her gaze for a moment before finally meeting it, his eyes full of unshed tears.

"I promised him I'd be fine."

"He'd understand." Athena let go of his wrist, reaching up to stroke his damp cheek. "It's okay not to be fine sometimes, Apollo."

He trembled, closing his eyes as the tears began to fall.

"I'm...I'm not..."

The umbrella slipped from their grasp as he suddenly pulled her to his chest and she flung her arms around him. He buried his face in her hair, his whole body shaking with the raw, painful sobs he finally allowed himself to unleash. Try as she did, Athena eventually couldn't hold back her own tears. Eventually, Apollo let himself pull back, picking up the fallen umbrella.

"Thank you, Athena." She smiled, reaching up again to wipe the tears and the rainwater from his cheek.

"If you ever feel like you're not fine," she said, "come to me. I promise, I'll keep it between the two of us." He nodded, brushing her wet bangs away from her face.

"And...you can come to me. I know you have Juniper and Prosecutor Blackquill, but...I want us to trust each other completely from now on." He sniffled. "I...I don't think I'm ready to go back yet, though. Can we..." He swallowed. "I want to visit him."

She nodded.

"I want to visit my mother, too."

 

The rain fell heavier at the cemetery as they knelt beside the first grave. A small but beautiful headstone with a smiling photograph, a bouquet of orchids, a certain visor. The grave beside it bore several flowers, some wilting under the rain.

"Right next to his mother," Apollo whispered. "It took till the funeral for it to hit me that he was with her again..." He choked back a sob, tracing his fingers over the letters carved in the stone. "Oh, Clay..."

"I know." She wrapped her arm around his shoulders.

"His dad looked so old. I remember him smiling, treating me like I was his own son, bringing us sandwiches when we camped out in the backyard," Apollo went on. "He and Clay, they really pulled together after his mom died...and now..." His shoulders shook as he leaned against her. "He's alone. God, Athena, he's all alone...

Clay. Now that Athena had recovered all of her memories she could remember Apollo's best friend, part of the HAT-1 crew even though he was only sixteen, spending his days at the Space Center, always smiling. She felt a little dim for not having made the connection, but back then she hadn't had a chance to actually talk to Clay.

And now I never will.

She hugged Apollo tighter, hearing his choked sobs, feeling his sorrow. Finally, he stood up, wiping at his eyes.

"I'll visit you again soon," he whispered, stroking the headstone. Near the back of the cemetary were the Cs, and an elaborate headstone. The design was definitely Aura's touch, even if she was sure Mr. Cosmos had paid for the whole thing. She knew right away that the magnolias were from Aura, even if Simon had been the one to leave them.

Athena swallowed, kneeling before the grave. How could I ever have thought I'd killed you? How could I ever have been mad at you over those dumb headphones when all you wanted was to help me?

"Hi, Mom."

This time, Apollo held her as the tears fell, as she spilled out story after story about Europe, meeting Mr. Wright, her first case, the orca whales, re-creating the statues in the courtroom, the UR-1 retrial, Simon's rescue. Every now and then she tried to imagine her mother laughing or reacting with shock, but came up short.

Because you were always reserved with your feelings. But now I know the truth, I know you loved me. I'm sorry I ever thought otherwise.

It was dark by the time they finished, the moon a sliver in the sky and the rain lightening up a little. Despite the umbrella, they were soaked.

"Are you ready to go back now?" Athena asked. Apollo nodded slowly, wiping away the last of his tears.

"Yeah." He offered a tiny, real smile, taking Clay's coat off part of the way and draping it over her shoulder. "Here, it's wet but at least we'll still be covered."

"Oh!" Athena leaned instinctively against his shoulder. "Thanks, Apollo."

They left the cemetery, both of them quiet until they were just outside the office.

"I'm not fine," Apollo finally said. "I'm not. God, I think half the time I've said I'm fine I've just been fooling myself. I thought if I said it-"

"That it would be true. You were just trying to make yourself feel better," Athena sighed. "Just like me. I wanted everything to be okay so badly, because if it wasn't then how could I save Simon? But in the end..."

"God, we've both suffered," Apollo said, laughing bitterly. "We're so messed up, Athena. How do we get through any given day without falling apart?"

"I've wondered the same thing," Athena said, leaning further against him. "Maybe everything we've been through made us strong. Or maybe we're just afraid if we fall apart everyone will pity us." Apollo shivered.

"That's the last thing I want!" He smiled a little more. "Thanks for not doing that, by the way. And...thanks for coming after me," he said, hugging her. "Sorry in advance if you catch a cold."

"Hey, you're the one who's been walking around probably all day in this," Athena snorted. "You're the one who's gonna be sick."

"For the record, I wasn't out in this all day," Apollo protested. "I spent half of it in the coffee shop drinking cup after cup of lukewarm coffee and nibbling on a cheese sandwich."

"How nutritious," Athena said dryly as she closed the umbrella and they walked inside. Almost immediately, Mr. Wright was running over with two towels, drying them off like they were puppies or kids.

"Next time you two decide to stand in the rain for an hour, call me, he scolded, but Athena sensed the joy and relief in his voice. Moments later, she and Apollo had changed into dry clothes and bundled up in a blanket by the heater while Trucy heated two cans of soup at the stove.

While Mr. Wright lay their clothes out to dry, Apollo rested his head on Athena's shoulder, sighing tiredly. Athena smiled, stroking his damp, messy hair. They weren't fine, and it might be a while before they got back to fine. But neither of them would have to shoulder the burdens of feigning it alone anymore.

Chapter Text

It made sense that Clay wanted to be an astronaut. He was like the stars themselves: incredibly beautiful, he could brighten up even the darkest nights, a fascinating being.

Sadly, the way he felt for Clay Terran was akin to touching a star as well. No matter how much he longed for it, he knew it was impossible, but he still longed for it anyway.

We're best friends, that should be enough. They say you're lucky if you have one good friend in this life, and I was lucky enough to find Clay. Just be happy with what you have, Apollo, why set yourself up for disappointment by wanting more?

Besides, Clay was probably straight. Sure, he'd comment on a guy's looks now and then, but he'd only ever dated girls. When they were seventeen he'd spent weeks working up the nerve to ask Christina Cross out only to end up sulking in his room eating peanut butter straight from the jar after learning she already had a boyfriend.

Apollo himself was bisexual, but no guy or girl had ever inspired such feelings in him as Clay Terran had and no one ever would.

Apollo sighed, curling up on the mattress, Clay's pillow clutched to his chest as he breathed in the scent. Fresh, but warm and familiar, like a balmy summer night under the stars with just a hint of the eucalyptus shampoo Clay was so fond of.

Sometimes if they sat close enough, he could almost brush up against Clay and bury his face in his hair. Almost.

Sometimes he'd suggest seeing a scary movie on purpose, just so he'd have an excuse to clutch Clay's arm and snuggle up to him. Or suggest going to the pool even though he couldn't swim, just so he could stare at Clay's gorgeous body, wet and toned as he came out of the water.

Sometimes he read steamy romances or manga just so he could fantasize about doing certain things with Clay.

But staring, clinging, and fantasizing is all I'll ever have, he thought, a disappointed tear running down his cheek as he buried his face in the pillow.

 

"Say, Pollo?"

"Yeah?" Apollo looked up from his sandwich. Clay gestured towards a huge poster on the side of the Arts building.

"What do you think?"

"Think of what?" Apollo glanced towards the building. "Oh, that play that's happening this weekend. Why, did you want to go?" Clay blinked, and Apollo could swear he turned pink.

"No! I mean...maybe? If I don't have anything else going on. Did...you want to?" Apollo, about to take a sip of his soda, nearly dropped the can.

"Me? Well...I dunno, it could be interesting. But I'm not a big theater person, you know?" He frowned. "I'm also not crazy about the guy playing the lead, either. I've overheard a few of their rehearsals and he acts like he's the only one in the show."

"Yeah, I've got a few classes with him and he's always acting like he's two seconds away from being discovered," Clay snorted. "He's such a showoff!" He sighed, swirling a potato chip in the little container of ketchup between them. "I feel sorry for whoever that guy dates."

"Tell me about it." Apollo snagged a chip for himself.

"I could never fall for anyone like that," Clay went on, glancing up towards the sky. "I mean, don't get me wrong, confidence is great, but...more of a down to Earth confidence. Loud, yeah, but it comes from a genuine place. Caring, compassionate...idealistic..." He closed his eyes, hand still swirling the chip. "The kind you know is going to make the world a better place someday."

Apollo raised an eyebrow.

"Clay?" The chip in Clay's hand snapped in half, the bottom half sinking into the ketchup as Clay snapped out of his sudden reverie.

"Er, sorry about that. Just got a little...lost in thought for a moment." He turned away, but Apollo could swear he saw Clay blush. "A-anyway, I think I might just stay in and study this weekend, got a test next week and all." Apollo nodded, chewing another bite of his sandwich slowly.

"Me too."

They ate the rest of their lunches in silence, Apollo's heart sinking. Clay's in love with someone. No one gets that specific when talking about their type.

While Clay was in pyhsics class that night, Apollo lay on his bed, clutching the pillow and staring up at the ceiling, trying not to cry.

You never had a chance with him anyway, so why be disappointed?

 

Saturday came, and they skipped the play's opening night. They studied in silence, Clay lying on his bed and Apollo at his desk. At one point, though, Clay threw his book down and hopped off the bed, grabbing his coat.

"Let's go for a walk. The stars are coming out and it's going to be the last clear night for the next week," he said. Apollo's heart skipped a beat, just like it always did when Clay wanted to spend time with him.

"Sure."

 

The stars were plentiful by the time they arrived at Clay's favorite stargazing spot, a hill overlooking the main campus. It was a well-loved hill, Apollo would sometimes walk past Lark Meadowbrook playing her guitar and singing songs from decades ago or a couple of the art students sketching inspiration for their latest projects. Sometimes the fraternity brothers rolled each other down that hill just for kicks.

But at night, it was empty, and the perfect place to watch the sky and reflect.

Clay spread a blanket out and they sat down, Apollo making sure to sit just close enough to feel Clay's warmth and smell his scent but not enough to seem suspicious.

"Hey, Pollo?"

"Hm?"

"Mind if I ask you something kinda personal? Not TMI or anything like that, just..." Clay sighed. "Say there's someone you've had your eye on for a while, but you're not sure how to let them know you're into them. How do you do it without seeming creepy or like you're coming out of nowhere?" Apollo bristled, clenching his fist a little. Great, it's bad enough he's in love with someone and any chance I've had with him's dead and buried, but now I've gotta help them hook up!

"I wouldn't know," he said. "Anytime I've had feelings for a person, I'd just keep quiet." Clay frowned.

"Why, though?"

"Because half the time you're just setting yourself up for embarrassment or rejection. You could end up phrasing it awkwardly, or tripping over the words, or one of you could let out a really gross sneeze," Apollo said. "And chances are, they don't like you back and never could, and that's painful enough. Why twist the knife?" Clay looked taken aback as he edged slightly away from Apollo.

"I see." He turned away, and for a moment Apollo could swear he saw his shoulders shake. "Guess that's that, then."

"Sorry, Clay. But...you were probably better off without them, anyway." At this, Clay immediately turned back to him, looking almost angry.

"Since when, Apollo?"

"Since...I dunno! You hardly-"

"Know them?" He shook his head. "I know everything about them. I know their favorite breakfast cereal, the vegetable they hate the most, their fears, their goals, what position they sleep in!"

"Clay?!" He must have been doing some major stalking, and suddenly Apollo was very concerned. "Clay, calm down."

"I also know that as smart as they are, sometimes they can be really fucking dense not to catch a hint when it's two inches away from their face."

What?! Could Clay possibly...no, nothing about this added up. He'd spent the past year accepting the fact that Clay wasn't interested in him that way, trying to get the period of unrequited love angst over with so he could move on. Clay couldn't be talking about him.

Right?

"Loud, yeah, but it comes from a genuine place. Caring, compassionate...idealistic... The kind you know is going to make the world a better place someday."

The way Clay held his hand the first time they climbed the hill, knowing Apollo didn't do so well with heights. The way he always got extra fries or chips or dessert from the cafeteria if Apollo didn't bring extra money. Those smiles that always seemed to linger, the way Clay hadn't dated anyone after the Christina Cross disaster that he now realized wasn't just because Clay was afraid to have feelings for anyone again.

"Apollo Justice, you are a fucking idiot," he muttered. When he met Clay's gaze again, Clay was smiling almost tearfully.

"Took you that long," he said, and Apollo laughed.

"God, Clay, all this time I spent thinking it was hopeless," he said, flopping down onto the blanket. Clay joined him, wrapping him in a snug embrace, Apollo's head resting at the juncture of Clay's neck and shoulder. They fit so perfectly together, it was crazy. "I could've told you any time!"

"Hey, it's not like I was rushing to tell you either," Clay chuckled, stroking his hair a little. "God, Pollo, we're both fucking idiots. We wasted a whole year we could have been dating!" Apollo smirked against Clay's coat.

"We'll just have to make up for lost time, then, won't we?" He tilted his head upwards, and Clay's lips met his own. Warm, powerful, a burst of illumination.

Like touching the stars.

Chapter Text

One thing he'd learned about Athena in the time they'd been dating was that she was very handsy during sex. Pulling on his tie when she kissed him, running her fingers through his hair, squeezing and stroking every part of him she could reach.

He didn't mind it. Actually, he really enjoyed it, Athena's hands had a kind of magic to them. If she wanted to touch him to get him all revved up, if she wanted to soothe him after a hard day or reassure him in times of doubt, her hands always had the desired effect.

Which was why tonight's endeavor was going to be a test of endurance for them both. How long could she go without touching, and how long could he stand not being touched?

"And you're sure about this," he said. She'd shed her clothes almost immediately after they were in the bedroom, the door shut, her hair unbound as she handed him the ribbon and pulled her arms behind her back.

"I wouldn't have suggested it if I wasn't," she said. "Just don't tie them too tight, I'll still need my circulation."

"Got it." Apollo moved behind her to wrap the ribbon around her wrists. Snug enough to keep her from wriggling out, loose enough so her hands didn't turn purple and lose feeling. He tied a neat bow right in the center and gestured for her to sit down. "Let's do this, then!"

"That's my line," Athena teased, but she crossed her legs and watched eagerly as he began to undress. Knowing she couldn't leap on him and impatiently tear at his clothing for once gave him the weirdest urge to give her a striptease, Apollo's cheeks reddening at the thought. I've spent way too much time around Klavier.

He did undress slowly, though, one button at a time, peeling off each layer. Athena grinned.

"Take it off, hot stuff!" Apollo blushed again, smirking as he took off one sock and tossed it to her.

"Since you can't stuff money into my underwear, that's all you get." Athena mock-pouted.

"Cheapskate." But she never took her eyes off him, and soon he was stepping out of his underwear, closer to her so she could watch his cock spring free. Athena let out a whine and he could sense her wrists struggling a bit against their bonds.

"You're not getting antsy already, are you?" He winced at the concern in his voice that she could definitely hear. Playing the sexy tease was still foreign to him; luckily, all she did was smirk.

"I've still got a mouth." She slid off the bed and onto her knees on the floor, with a tiny bit of difficulty due to a lack of free hands, and Apollo tilted his hips towards her mouth. "Mm, just like in those old pictures we saw one time," she said." The magazines they'd found at a victim's house, ones they'd snuck a few guilty peeks at before remembering they were supposed to be investigating and that it was actually creepy to be reading a dead person's porn.

"Except you're not blindfolded...unless you want to be," he teased.

"Maybe another time." She licked her lips. "I want to be able to see you." Her lips pressed against his tip, tongue flicking out to swirl over it, mouth opening to take him in slowly, almost too slowly. He tried to move his hips forward but that just made her go slower...damn! Usually, Athena was as eager with oral sex as she was with everything else.

"Athena," he groaned, trying not to whine. She raised her eyes to him, the glint of seduction so strong he shivered. "God, Athena..." She responded with a slow lick along the underside of his cock, followed by a slow sucking. Little prickles of heat spread through his body; usually when she sucked him off it was a blur of sensations, but right now he could feel everything in great detail. The softness of her lips, the heat of her mouth, the texture of her tongue. Occasionally she would hum or moan against him, Apollo crying out at the vibrations.

Despite how slow she was taking it, he knew he'd be close soon, and he knew she wouldn't let up until he came in her mouth. That means I'll get to give her a little something before the main event. Just the thought of her at the mercy of his hands, maybe his mouth, unable to do anything but squirm and beg for more...fuck!

"Athena, I think-!" he managed to gasp. Her response was a sharper hum, a particularly long suck, and within moments he was releasing into her mouth. He came back down to the sight of her licking her lips, wiping a bit of his come from her chin.

How can a person be this cute and this sexy all at the same time? He helped her stand, and they sat down on the bed.

"Payback time," he murmured, claiming her lips with his own, one hand grasping her breast and squeezing as the other slid between her legs. Hot and slick, her folds surrounded his fingers as he stroked her, Athena instinctively trying to reach for his hair and whining against his lips when she remembered she couldn't. Good. He broke the kiss, lowering his head to her breast, lapping at her nipple; she wriggled against her bonds, rocking her hips almost impatiently against his hand.

He missed her hands in his hair right now, more than ever. The way she'd pull at it while he was at her chest or between her legs. Such a small thing, but it was the small things you missed the most the moment you didn't have them. He gave her other breast a squeeze, sliding two fingers inside her, stroking every inch of her.

(He was glad the walls in his apartment were thick, or the neighbors would be complaining about the noise.)

"Apollo, God-" She arched her hips sharply into his hand, and he slowed down his thrusts.

"Patience," he murmured against her nipple, before giving it a gentle tug with his lips. She let out a sharp whine, he knew she was getting close and the inability to touch him was making the teasing worse. His fingers withdrew slowly, a bit at a time, lessening the contact until he was barely touching her before he slammed back in, eliciting a scream from her.

"Please!" Her pussy tightened around his fingers, her juices were dripping down his hand and he knew she was just moments from coming. Time to move in for the kill. He shifted his body downward, pushing her legs further apart with his free hand, knelt between them. He lifted his eyes to meet hers briefly, before he ran his tongue over her clit in short, sharp strokes.

Her thighs clamped around his head and she let out a scream so loud he could still hear it clearly, her climax thick and blazing against his mouth and hand. He kept both moving, drawing it out as much as he could until her legs loosened their grip and she relaxed.

She stared down at him with wild eyes as he lifted his gaze back to hers. He was rock-hard again.

"Fuck me," she whispered. He dug under the bed, found the condoms and put one on as fast as he could without tearing it. Ribbed for her pleasure, he'd bought them on a whim a few days ago feeling they might come in handy.

Tonight seemed like the perfect time to use one.

He sat back down on the bed, pulled her onto his lap, and she impaled herself on his cock. No more teasing, he thought, no more holding back. He gave a sharp thrust, gripping her hips, watching her strain against her bonds more. No hands in his hair, on his back, against his chest.

But I'm not freeing her, not until we're done. Her core gripped him tightly with every thrust, Apollo gasping her name now and then, their moans mingling together as they picked up more and more speed. Fucking like they'd gone without it for weeks, trying to see which one would hold out the longest.

Apollo soon laid down, still holding onto her hips; he wanted to see as much of her as he could. Her flushed face, her long hair flying wildly, her breasts bouncing as he pounded in and out of her. The muscles in her arms tightening as she kept squirming against the ribbon. Beautiful, so beautiful...!

"Athena, God," he gasped, "you're incredible...!"

"Hah...I could say the same-ah!" She squeezed him again. "-same to you! Ngh, so close...!" The race was on; sometimes they managed to get there together but it was pretty rare, so Apollo always tried to make sure she came first. He gave a sharp, deep thrust, then another, and within moments she was screaming his name as her second orgasm overtook her. Moments later, Apollo let out a yell as he too began to come, Athena squeezing and milking him for all he was worth as they rode it out.

She came back down first, her look of satiation mixed with a small frown.

"The experiment's over. I think you can untie me now."

"Oh!" Apollo laughed sheepishly as he sat up, reaching behind her back to untie the ribbon. Athena stretched and flexed her arms, sighing with relief.

"I would try that again," she said, lying down against his chest, taking advantage of her freedom to stroke everywhere she could reach on him, toy with his limp spikes of hair, run her fingers along his side. Apollo chuckled, pulling her close to him and kissing her forehead.

"But only if I'm the one tied up, right? That's usually how it goes." She tugged playfully at his spikes and kissed his cheek.

"Fair's fair."

He didn't feel the need to tell her just how much he actually looked forward to next time. She already knew.

Chapter Text

It was a bad habit of hers, falling for a handsome face at first sight. Lance, Mr. Edgeworth, the guard at the detention center, it was like a curse and it only led to trouble or heartbreak. It was the guard who'd suggested she find a new interest after he released her. Reinvent yourself, you're a free woman now. Do something your daddy would be proud of.

She didn't know how she'd ended up a candy striper at the hospital, but after she made it through her first day without fainting or breaking down at the sight of blood and broken bones, she decided to keep going. The doctors and the nurses were usually very nice, and the patients always seemed glad for the company.

One day, she was asked to check up on a young man in a coma, but for the first time it wasn't the handsome face in the bed that gripped her heart. Rather, it was the sorrowful man in the wheelchair who sat beside the bed.

"The circus has been thriving, Bat," he said, "but it's still not the same without you. Regina continues to believe you'll open your eyes..." She could swear she heard his voice break. "Sweet, innocent Regina. She's growing up, but some things will never change." His eyes closed. "Three long years, brother, and you're still here. Please come back to us. Don't shatter Regina's hopes...please..."

Lauren quietly slipped from the room before the tears began to fall. The tragedy of the Berry Big Circus had been all over the news, as had the trial of Max Galactica, and when the truth behind the ringmaster's murder came out she'd wondered how anyone with a heart could murder such a good man.

But that man, he was confirmed as the killer. So why don't I see it? All I see, all I hear is a man in mourning for a brother who might never wake up.

She started spending more time in Bat's room, checking on him, trying to gauge any progress in his recovery despite her lack of formal medical training aside from the classes she'd taken prior to becoming a candy striper. She asked the doctors and the nurses if they expected anything to change.

"There's always a chance," the doctor in charge of Bat's case said, "but the longer a person remains in a coma, the less likely it is they'll wake up." Lauren's heart ached for the boy in the coma and for the brother who wanted so badly to believe he'd survive.

"Miracles happen," she said. "I think those two deserve one."

One day, Bat's brother finally approached her as she was getting ready to take her break.

"Miss Paups," he said, "you are the one who has taken such an interest in my brother?" He smiled. "My name is Ken Dingaling, but everyone knows me as Acro."

"Yes, I've heard." She smiled back at him. "You can call me Lauren." He nodded.

"Very well," he said, offering another smile. "I'm sorry if this seems a bit forward, but...will you come sit with me in the cafeteria? I think we could both use something to eat right now." The old Lauren would have swooned at the perceived romantic gesture, but this was no handsome prince come to sweep her off her feet. This was a lonely soul, in need of a friend.

A feeling I know all too well.

"I'd like that," she said. He let her push his wheelchair towards the cafeteria, and Lauren realized what it was to be truly needed for the first time in her life.

Chapter Text

"Excuse me?" Sasha's hand paused on its way down Athena's body, resting on her ribcage. "Say that again?"

"Your vagina." Athena's eyes met hers, her cheeks pink and her gaze intense. "It's so...pretty!"

If this were their first time, or even Athena's first, Sasha might have brushed such a comment off as nervousness. If Athena had been kidding around, she might have been a little annoyed but let it slide. But they'd been dating for a year, sleeping together for the past six months, and Athena looked perfectly serious.

"Did you actually just say that? Did you sea-riously just call my vagina pretty?" Athena frowned cutely, crossing her arms over her naked breasts.

"Well, it is!"

"How?" Sasha tried not to snicker. "No, really, enlighten me. How's my vagina pretty? I mean, have you looked at other vaginas for comparison? Is there some standard for-"

"Sasha!" Athena rolled her eyes. "Can we just forget I said it? I mean, not that I didn't mean it, but..." She shook her head. "You're pretty, all of you, including your vagina, okay? Is that better?" Sasha just smiled and shook her head, tugging Athena's arms away from her chest. Amazing how a girl who was well-versed in so many languages, cultures, law, psychology, and sex could be so bad at bed-talk. Maybe her previous partners hadn't been that into talking.

"And you're pretty, too, Athena. Especially those cute boobs of yours, and that nice ass." She reached out to playfully tweak one of Athena's nipples. "Mm, so excited already?" Athena squealed, tackling Sasha backward onto the bed.

"You min-now it!" And suddenly they were a pair of octopi, Athena's silly comment forgotten under a flurry of touches and squeezes and wriggling until their legs were interlocked, Athena's slick little pussy pressed against Sasha's thigh and Sasha raising her hips to grind against Athena's knee.

"It feels nice, too," Athena moaned. "Your vagina, that is...that's what I meant by pretty." Sasha grinned.

"Almost no hair. Not that yours is growing wild, either..." She moved her thigh, eliciting a groan from Athena. "Mm, and so soft..." She pulled Athena down for a kiss, one hand giving that cute, tiny little ass a good squeeze as they rocked against one another. Athena squealed, wriggling slightly in her grasp, her soft, lovely boobs bouncing a little.

Sasha liked that bounce. She also liked the feeling of Athena's nipples brushing against her own. Faster they moved, heat and wetness rising and rising until Sasha broke the kiss to scream as her climax wracked her. Athena followed just moments later, letting out a shaky, kinda giggly moan.

Athena made some of the silliest, cutest noises during sex.

"Your bed talk still needs work," Sasha murmured, pulling Athena close, "but I can forgive even that when you make me feel this good." Athena smirked, reaching up to poke Sasha's chin.

"Or maybe it'll rub off on you like your fish puns keep rubbing off on me."

"We'll sea." Sasha pulled her down for another kiss.