Weep not for roads untraveled,
Weep not for paths left alone.
Cause beyond every bend
Is a long, blinding end.
It’s the worst kind of pain I’ve known.
-Roads Untraveled, Linkin Park
Miles rolled onto his side and reached out, fumbling for the bedside table with a groan. He had a splitting headache, and thought that maybe he had stayed out a little too late last night, celebrating his partner’s latest courtroom victory. Beside him, he could feel stirring, and glanced over his shoulder to find the little girl who now lived with him curled up beside him, her breathing indicating that she was starting to wake up.
She had gone to bed in her own room last night, but she had a way of worming her way underneath his sheets most nights. He couldn't blame her, though. Trucy was a lonely girl whose father had abandoned her, and though his career had nearly been compromised by the forged evidence she had given him, he didn’t have it in his heart to blame her.
He shifted, sitting up as he carefully turned off the alarm and slipped out from beneath the sheets, shivering as his feet hit the oak floorboards. He found his phone lying on the bedside table and picked it up. It was one of the new one that Uncle Ray had insisted he have for keeping in touch, and though Miles was a bit old fashioned, he was grateful for text messaging right now.
I’m coming over to make breakfast for you and Trucy. You can’t flip pancakes to save your life.
He paused, then suddenly, violently, went to find better pants. Miles knew that she wouldn't mind seeing him in his boxer briefs, but thought it was better to be wearing something slightly more dignified and much less revealing.
After all, accidents happened.
Once he was properly clothed, he scrolled through the rest of his messages idly, sitting with his legs flung over the side of the bed. It was nothing remarkable, really, a few texts from Uncle Ray and some disgruntled hangover texts from Phoenix.
Miles didn’t have much sympathy for him, frankly speaking. Phoenix was the one responsible for his own actions, and if he had decided to get drunk and ---
oh my god miles help i went home with franziska
That was really his problem, wasn’t it?
Still, he shot off a message telling Phoenix to relax. It was bound to happen eventually. After all, those two had been making eyes at each other from across the courtroom since … Well, since Miles could remember, really. Sometimes, he felt more like Phoenix’s babysitter than his best friend and business partner.
He wondered how the Law Offices of Edgeworth & Wright survived.
Miles turned around to find Trucy stirring, and placed his phone back on top of the table, smiling softly as she squirmed out from underneath the blankets, reaching out for him. Gently, he reached out and scooped her up into his arms, sitting her on his lap where she settled, sleepily rubbing her eyes.
“Good morning, Trucy,” he said as he combed his fingers gently through her hair, finding a few tangles here and there. “Did you sleep well?”
She nodded, then squirmed on his lap, looking up into his eyes. “Papa’s bed is comfortable.”
“I’m sure your bed is, too, Trucy,” he said, then paused, hesitating. “Did you have another nightmare?”
He remembered when he had been small and had nightmares. Sometimes he would crawl into his father’s bed, find solace in those strong arms. Gregory Edgeworth (God rest his soul) had not always been the most outwardly affectionate of fathers, but he had been patient and kind in the best of ways. Miles was working from his example when he remembered how his father would explain that dreams couldn’t hurt you, how they were caused by things in real life that were worrying you.
The look on her face, so abashed, as she wrung her hands together, was proof positive for Miles that he had hit the nail on the head. She didn’t speak, though, so he continued.
“It’s okay if you had a nightmare, Trucy. Everyone has them. But you don’t have to worry anymore. I won’t ever leave you,” he brushed a strand of hair away from her face, staring into her blue eyes as she looked up at him. “I’m here to stay.”
Miles smiled, tweaked her nose so that she laughed and said that she “wasn’t a baby”, and set her down on the floor. “I promise. Now let’s go. Mia is coming over to make us pancakes, and you know she doesn’t like when I keep her waiting.”
She reached out for his hand, and he took it, glad to see that some of the worry had been chased from her face. Trucy giggled, and he squeezed her hand fondly, smiling down at her. “That’s right. Because Papa can’t flip pancakes.”
At that moment, the doorbell rang and Trucy took off like a shot to answer it. Miles furrowed his brow and meandered after her, leaning against the kitchen’s door frame to watch the front door carefully as Trucy stood on her tiptoes to unlock the deadbolt. His face relaxed after a moment, and he was smiling again when Trucy opened the door to reveal Mia Fey, grocery bags hanging from her arms.
“Do you require any assistance?” he asked as he walked forward, reaching out to have both bags predictably thrust at him; he only shook his head in amusement.
“Sure, muscles,” Mia said with a small smile, placing her hands on her hips and giving him an amused look before she swept Trucy up into her arms. “Let’s get to the kitchen so that we can make us some breakfast.”
Miles followed after them, intrigued to see that Mia was not wearing her usual spirit channelling garments, her clothing much more common - jeans and a t-shirt. It made him feel a bit underdressed, but that’s what happened when she called on a weekend at 8 am. He also wondered where she had deposited her sister and Pearls; not that it really mattered. Maya was 19, after all, and could take care of a 9 year old for a day if need be.
“As glad as I am to see you,” Miles said as he placed his load onto the island, unpacking them to find the ingredients for pancakes (butter, oil, sugar, buttermilk), “I had no idea you were leaving Kurain any time soon.”
He didn’t bring up her mother.
Miles knew all too well the pain of losing a parent, how raw it could be even after several months. He could see it in Trucy’s eyes, remembered how inconsolable he had been after Redd White had taken his father’s life. Mia was much stronger than he had been.
“Well, we finished sorting out the business of who would be Master,” Mia said, setting Trucy down and spinning to face him. “I managed to convince them that Pearls should one day succeed my mother because she has the most spiritual power out of the three of us and Aunt Morgan was part of the main family before … Well. It took a lot of politicking, but I’ve learned a few things from watching you in court.”
Her smile was sad for a moment before it morphed into a self satisfied grin and she walked toward him, wrapping her arms around his neck. His hands immediately found her waist, and he smiled back at her before they shared a brief kiss. “Hm. Well it’s good to have you back, for now. How long are you staying?”
“As long as I want. The rest of the Branch family is managing things for the time being and I decided that spirit channelling professionally was never my destiny anyway,”she broke away to rummage in his cupboards for a bowl to mix the batter in. “What was it you always say? I’m too smart to waste my mind in the pursuit of wackadoo spiritualism?”
“That was before I knew that it actually worked,” he replied, keeping an eye on Trucy as she got the eggs out of the refrigerator. “I couldn't very well maintain that position after your family’s special ability has saved countless lives, including my own.”
Mia just laughed and turned back to Trucy, asking her to help find the whisk because she had no idea where Miles kept everything. Trucy, for her part, was happy to help, and made quite a production out of helping Mia whisk the batter. She was quite the showman, but considering her heritage, it wasn’t really a surprise.
Suddenly, a splitting pain ripped through his skull and he was hunched over the island, supporting himself against the granite countertop, panting heavily. He heard the sound of of the whisk clattering against the bowl and was aware of hands on his shoulders and Mia’s voice speaking to him distantly.
Vaguely, there was the sense that something was terribly wrong about this situation, but the thought passed as did the sudden splitting pain.
The world came back into focus, and he took a deep breath.
“Miles?! Miles can you --”
“Sorry,” he said, pulling away slightly, waving his hand dismissively. “I have no idea what happened just now … I … I’m going to go lie down or a moment.”
Mia nodded, then glanced at Trucy , who looked absolutely mortified.
A few words of reassurance later, and Miles was lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling. Despite the strangeness of the moment before, the desperation he had felt, he found himself drifting to sleep. Later, he knew, he would have to face his concerned friends and family, perhaps go to the hospital, but for now he was suddenly tired.
Eyelids leaden, they slipped closed and he fell into a deep sleep.
He stood in a kitchen he scarcely recognized, help wanted ads spread across the table. Over them hunched a man in a grubby sweater, rubbing his stubble-covered face with one hand while steadying the small girl sitting on his knee with the other. There was a look of deep weariness to him, etched into the lines of his face, which unsettled Miles Edgeworth greatly.
“I’ve come over because you cannot flip a pancake to save your life and I refuse to let this girl starve,” Miles cleared his throat, crossing his arms firmly over his chest.
Phoenix gave him a bemused look, though not one of surprise, then motioned to the Bisquick pancake mix on the counter, which prompted a disdainful look on Miles’ behalf. “I mean real pancakes, Wright, not that boxed excuse for a meal.”
“Well excuuuuse me, Princess,” Phoenix muttered under his breath, though Miles ignored him in favor of placing two paper bags onto the Wright’s limited counter space.
Wait … The Wrights?
Yes, of course. Phoenix and Trucy Wright. What are you thinking? Perhaps you’ve forgotten because it’s such a recent development …
There was a brief sense of something being very wrong, though he dismissed it quickly enough.
“What’s in the bags anyway?” Phoenix’s expression was curious, but he didn’t want to dislodge the girl so he just furrowed his eyebrows and gave Miles a long, considering look.
“Isn’t it obvious?” he turned, looking over his shoulder, a carton of eggs in his hand. Not waiting for response, he walked over to the refrigerator and pulled open the door, finding it mostly bare, except for a half opened six pack of beer. “My God, Wright, you can’t raise a child like this.”
“Yeah, well, I’m a bit strapped for cash at the moment,” he motioned to the classifieds with a wave of his hand. “In case you haven’t noticed.” Pursing his lips, he looked at Miles, something in his blue eyes deeply mournful for a moment. “I … I can't pay you back for the groceries right now, by the way.”
“Pay me back?”Miles placed the eggs into the icebox and then turned back to Phoenix with a stern look on his face. “I don’t require monetary compensation for an act of friendship.”
His friend looked at a loss for words, moved by something that he likely perceived as touching. Miles ignored him in favor of taking out a bag of flour, sugar … Maybe he would buy groceries for the Wrights after all. Proper groceries. At least until this jobless phase had passed…
“Trucy,” he said, looking to the girl, who looked back up at him with a very precocious expression on her face, “would you like to help me make pancakes? That way someone in this house is capable of making breakfast while I am unable to visit.”
She smiled at him like he had just offered to take her to Disneyland and he found himself promptly turning his attention back to the ingredients, even as she crawled from Phoenix's lap. “Sure, Uncle Edgeworth!”
Miles’ could feel Phoenix’s eyes on them as he worked, explaining to Trucy how to mix the batter for the pancakes(after he found a stepping stool so that she could look at what Miles was doing on the high and admittedly not childproof counters in Phoenix’s apartment). There was nothing intense in that gaze, though it was focused, curious, and it still managed to make Miles feel self-conscious. Focusing on Trucy instead, he soon forgot those eyes in light of teaching a child how to properly use a griddle.
Dangerous, perhaps, but if a nine year old could learn to ride a horse, something else that risked substantial injury, then an eight year old could learn to use a griddle.
She likely saw the Gramarye Troupe do more dangerous things in their acts anyway.
“Okay, so now that you’ve successfully taught my child magician to flip pancakes …” Miles heard the chair creak as Phoenix stood. “Trucy, go wash up for breakfast.”
Miles glanced over his shoulders to find Phoenix giving him a strange, fond look that almost made him feel embarrassed. Clearing his throat, he switched off the griddle that Phoenix had mentioned being a gift from his mother the last time Miles had shown up to the Wright’s house to find a half dozen pancakes searing onto its surface.
“You know … You really don’t have to do this for me,” Phoenix paused and pursed his lips. “For us.”
Miles snorted, and focused on rolling back down his sleeves, glancing at Phoenix out of the corner of his eye. There was still something hidden in his gaze that made Miles feel conscious of his personal space in a way he seldom was, but he ignored it. “As I’ve already mentioned to you several times, you’re my friend.”
As if that were explanation enough.
I want to do this for you.
He didn’t speak, feeling Phoenix’s eyes on his face, which forced him to turn away.
“I know,” Phoenix’s voice was suddenly soft, forcing Miles to recall February, when he had lain prone on a hospital bed and begged Miles to defend Sister Iris in his stead. “It’s almost October now … And I guess I just feel like … Like I owe you.”
Miles turned around again, throat suddenly tight, refusing to cooperate though he willed the lump there to vanish. “Don’t.” He saw the look of confusion flicker across Phoenix’s face and cleared his throat. “Don’t feel like you owe me, Wright. This is what I want to do.”
Something passed between them, and a small smile flitted across Phoenix's lips, his expression growing soft for the first time in months. He reached out, gently tangling his fingers with Miles’ own, squeezing his hand.
“Daddy, I’m ready to eat!”
Just like that, it was like Phoenix’s hand dissolved and they were standing on opposite banks of the Mississippi River.
Turning around, Miles gripped the counter and stared intensely at the pancakes he had plated, listening to the sound of Phoenix’s footsteps as he went to greet Trucy. Miles fought down his feelings, pushed them away, attempting to return to neutrality, though he knew that what had just transpired was something too significant to turn back from.
“Let’s set the table,” Miles heard Phoenix say to his daughter, and his voice sounded far off, though Miles dispelled the sensation by shaking his head. “How long are you staying, Edgeworth?”
He turned back around, looking toward the Wrights, thinking how at home Phoenix looked with the little beside him. Like a real family, one that he felt he likely would only orbit, growing closer occasionally but never really touching.
The words “Uncle Edgeworth” had never felt so damning.
Waking was slow this time, and his bed was empty.
In some small way, it felt poignant to wake alone after such a vivid dream. He wouldn’t have wanted Mia or Trucy to see him like this, though it was an absurd, prideful notion to feel such. He had always had such a strong support network in his life, and they were a part of it now.
Miles had never had a problem going to anyone with his issues before, as his father had taught him from a young age that only foolish people tried to carry their burdens on their own. Yet now …
Now he wanted nothing more than to be alone, as if being alone were the right thing to do.
As if he had been alone his entire life.
You can solve your own problems. You always have. Best not to burden anyone with your issues ...
No. They’ll just worry more if you leave them in the dark. What are you saying?!
“So sleeping beauty awakes at last,” Miles eyes snapped open and he pushed himself into a sitting position, his eyes meeting with Mia’s. “How you feeling, Prince Charming?”
He ran a hand through his hair and shook his head to dispel it of the strange, lingering doubts that burdened him. They scattered like dandelion seeds in a strong wind, and he was able to finally focus on the moment. “Much. I’m sorry about that. I’m not really sure what happened,” throwing the covers aside, he swung his legs over the end of the bed. “What time is it?”
“Well,” Mia bit her bottom lip for a moment, something she did when she thought he wouldn't like what she had to say. “It’s about 5:30.”
Rubbing his temples, Miles was annoyed that he had wasted a day off in bed, but decided that he could still be with the people that mattered for the rest of the day if he budgeted his time well. “Right. Could we … go out to eat?”
Mia’s face lit up, “I have your daughter in the other room making props for a magic show with my little sister and cousin. And wouldn't you know? Phoenix and Franziska just called asking the exact same thing. I know really large gatherings wear you out, but …”
“But I slept the entire day away,” he said promptly, walking over to the vanity to remove his hairbrush from the top drawer. “I can handle visiting with my best friend, his new girlfriend, and my family by association for a few hours in a crowded restaurant. I have the energy reserves.”
He flashed a small smile at she returned it with a small smile of her own. It made her look beautiful in all the right ways, but something niggling at the back of his mind stubbornly and persistently refused to let go of the dream.
It likely isn’t the best time to see Phoenix, it told him, not after what just transpired between the two of you.
But nothing happened!
At no point had anything ever happened, nor would it ever happen. They had grown up together, spent their first two years of high school together before Miles fast tracked school by skipping grades and supplemented his education with college credits. But they’d always lived two blocks from one another for as long as Phoenix had lived with his parents. They were like brothers, and even suggesting that there could possibly be a universe where they were something else was …
It was just wrong.
No. Miles was in love with Mia and Phoenix had a new relationship with Franziska.
That was just the way it was.
The way it should be.
“So where are we eating?” Like a life preserver, Mia’s voice drew him from the mire of his thoughts.
“If it’s up to your sister? A burger joint. If it’s up to my daughter? Somewhere with spaghetti.” Miles finished combing through his hair and turned around to find the woman of his dreams practically in his arms.
“I guess we’ll have to draw straws,” she said, a smile lighting up her features as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. “Or orchestrate some sort of battle royale.”
“Well, I’m not sure bloodletting is the best idea. Perhaps we should just make an executive decision?” He leaned forward to kiss her.
But for some reason, in some small way, it didn’t feel the same as it had before, though Mia didn’t seem to notice.
Miles ignored the growing suspicion that this dream wasn’t a one time occurrence to walk from the room with Mia Fey, hand in hand.
In another room, a man stared at the expanse of his bedroom ceiling, fighting between the urge to sleep and the urge to maintain his vigil over the phone, just in case there was some news.
Eventually, his exhaustion and sound of the unusual rain tapping against his window lulled him into a sleep he had never asked to fall into.
That night the phone would not ring and the next morning he would wake feeling unrested, as if he had never slept at all.