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I've Never

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I've never arrived more than two hours late at a party.

Miles raised an eyebrow while reading the message. He had been in bed for about twenty minutes, tossing and turning and rethinking of all the things he had found out during the day and how he would use them tomorrow.

It had been a long day of work. No murder, but clear traces of corruption from the CEO of a big company, and it was big enough for the Chief Prosecutor to handle the case himself. He'd spent the day investigating and interrogating until about 9:30 pm, when he got a concerned call from Klavier Gavin asking where the hell he was.
He'd forgotten everything about the party he was meant to attend at his colleague's place in the evening and had, indeed, showed up more than two hours late.

The party was already in full bloom when he'd arrived, and as soon has Klavier had welcomed him and handed him a drink (that looked like Tequila Sunrise. He could deal with it), he had found himself enrolled in a game of I've Never by a well-inebriated Ema Skye.

In retrospect, many things had been told that he really, really wished he hadn't known about his colleagues and what-came-as-close-as-friends-as-he-had.
He had made it through the game while sipping carefully (and sometimes, very discreetly), in order to have but the one drink he already had in his hand. He would, after all, be driving home.

And home he was now, as the party had slowly died after one last "I never carried a prosecutor's badge on me." by Wright that had had most of them groaning and finishing their drinks.
He'd thanked Gavin for his hospitality, congratulated him on the release of his new solo album (that was, after all, the excuse for gathering them all), and gone home to review his case for tomorrow before going to bed.

And then his phone had rung with a new message.

He sighed. He knew for a fact that his correspondent was anything but sober, but he also knew him well enough to be sure that he wouldn't let go so easily.

The party's over, Wright. I don't play anymore.
And you know very well I am in the middle of an important case. I didn't keep tracks on time.

The answer was not long to come.

H umour me. I've never tried to justify myself for when I had to drink when playing I've Never.

You did that all evening long, Wright. And don't tell me you're still drinking. You could barely stand on your feet when I left the place.

Then, thinking quickly, he added.

I've never played poker in a Russian restaurant.

Too easy. And I have a very nice bottle of sparkling water to help me rehydrate to avoid the horrible hangover tomorrow, so I am indeed drinking.

"Mph."

Miles's fingers swiftly tapped an answer on his smartphone.

How responsible of you, Wright. So now you want to keep on playing a silly drinking game with water?

I've never made fun of a colleague at past one am. Do you even have anything to drink with you? You're three shots late already.

Miles scanned the room.

There's a bottle of water on my nightstand. Will it be good enough for you?

Not waiting for an answer, he took three brief shots of water from his bottle, then quickly added.

I've never had a coworker clean my bathroom.

It will do. You have to stay hydrated too, after all. Can't have this soft skin of yours go all dry, right?
And Gumshoe cleans your office every week.

It's still not my bathroom. And I can take care of how well-moisturized my skin is by myself, thank you.

I've never worn a cravat.

Miles mphed again and took a sip. The very idea of Wright with a cravat was ridiculous. The man would never be able to pull it off. He just wasn't sophisticated enough.
He did not lose time to answer so, adding a little while after:

I've never made a fool of myself in front of a courtroom by cross-examining an animal.

The answer was a bit long to arrive, this time.

That was an low blow. I've never given up my badge for a young woman.

Talk about low blow. Miles drank.

Well I've never endangered my life for a young woman. Like in eating up a bottle of poison or crossing a bridge on fire.


If the other wanted to play dirty, he would play dirty. Miles was too tired to be subtle. It had always unnerved him how far Phoenix could go to protect the women he loved.
The answer took even longer to come. Maybe Wright was falling asleep.

I've never had an old bag fall for me. Or even had women trying to desperately giving me their numbers in any way.

Miles made a face, took a drink, and had enough. This was not something he enjoyed, and Wright should know by now.

I've never loved a woman anyway.

Something clicked in Miles's head, and he realized that maybe, maybe he shouldn't have sent this. He looked at the instant message. Too late to retrieve it --it was gone, and Wright had probably seen it.
He stayed for a while, but nothing came.
This time, Wright was probably asleep for good. Well, he'd be pleased when finding the message on his phone in the morning.
Miles considered the possibility of maybe breaking into the other lawyer's flat to steal the phone before the message was read, but before he could put his plan to execution, sleep engulfed him.
It had been a long day.

*

The next morning, his phone was blinking with new notifications.

...
Okay, maybe we got a bit too deep here.
Let's lighten up.
I've never been to Spain.
...
Miles ?
Ah I see.
I've never fallen asleep while playing I've Never.

Miles sighed and took two sips from the bottle on his nightstand, before slowly getting out of bed to prepare for work. He had barely had five hours of sleep and keeping a good composure wasn't easy, but he would have to make it through the day.
He hoped his tiredness wouldn't interfere with his case. Who threw party on weekdays? Sure, today was Friday, but it still meant he had to go to work and find the truth in this whole mess of a corruption case.
He wondered if any of the other prosecutors would feel any fresher.

Before he left his house, he quickly sent an answer.

Unlike you, some of us have to wake up in the morning, Wright.
I've never called you by your first name.

He hadn't even reached his car before getting Wright's answer.

You did!
Oh no wait, you're right. It's true. Even when we were kids, you called me Wright.
Stuck up much?

Miles frowned.

I'm not stuck up. You're just being too familiar.

Am I now, Miles?
I thought we were friends.

We are. I've never been friends with people whose names start with an M.

Don't you consider yourself Maya's friend though?

She's your associate, Wright.

You know... I kind of wish you did, though.

Well, if it wasn't a case of "I believe you can read my mind while I'm thinking", Miles had never seen one. What was Wright referring to, exactly? He slightly scrolled the conversation, but that didn't give him any clue.

I did? Consider Maya as a friend?

No. You did call me Phoenix.
Forget it.

Miles was dumbfounded.

I can... give it a try, I guess.

*

Before Miles left work, he had another message.

I've never pretended pink was vine red.

Me neither, Phoenix. I've never pretended, since it *is* vine red. I've never had a child that was less than ten years old as an associate.

Doesn't Franziska count?

Definitely not. If you asked her, I was her assistant, as I am her little brother.

Okay, I guess I can't escape this one. But I've never left work after 11pm.

Some of us really have some work to do, Wright.

Phoenix.

Phoenix, sorry. Old habits die hard.

I'm glad you're trying.

I've never asked anyone to call me by my first name.

Before Phoenix could answer, Miles drove home.

*

They spent the whole weekend exchanging more or less personal information through I've never, mostly trying to bring the other down.

I've never had a dog.

I've never been to Ohio.

I've never seen the Eiffel Tower.

I've never adopted a child.

Don't Kay and Sebastian count?

No. They're associates. Does Maya count as your child?

Fine, I see your point. I've never worn glasses.

I've never been hit by a car.

Well, at least I've never had a body found in my car.

Don't remind me. I've never been assistant to a magician.


Miles wasn't even sure they were still drinking at this rate, but the game went on as the week started again.

*

Things got harsher after five days playing the game. They were starting to find themselves short on statements to send.

I've never come out as gay in a game of I've Never.

Oh, that was low, Phoenix. Alright, he'd answer with an easy one.

I've never kissed a woman.

And I've never had sex with a man.

Miles blushed. The way the message had arrived, it seemed like Phoenix hadn't even taken time to think of his answer. He had planned it.

Well, I'm not drinking either.

What? Miles, I thought we'd just established that you'd come out to me. There's no sense hiding it now.

Drop the topic, Wright.

Phoenix.

He sighed.

I don't want to discuss it, especially not with you.

Miles, it's... It's fine, you know?
You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Why was his face burning, then? He was glad the door to his office was locked so he wouldn't be pestered. It would be awful if anyone found him in such a state.

I've never been ashamed of my sexuality.

Right. Twist the blade in the wound, Wright. Easy to say for someone who loved women and could easily talk about sex.
Well, what was there to lose anyway? The man knew him too well already.

I've never felt any sexual attraction.

Phoenix took his time to answer that.

Like, never, never? For anyone?

Miles gave another, tired, sigh. This was why he never talked about it to anyone.

No, Phoenix. Never for anyone.

But do you... can you... do you feel... Attraction at all?

Yes. I do feel attraction, like romantic attraction. Just not sexual attraction.

Oh.
I'm sorry I pried. It's just. Very unusual for me. I usually hang out with Larry, you know. It's like... the exact opposite.

I know, Phoenix. That's why I mostly try to avoid hanging out with Larry.

Yeah, I guess he'd be a pain about that.

Don't be one, please.

I won't. I can't say I understand because we probably don't work the same, but it is what you are. I won't question it.
Next time we're both hanging out with Larry I'll support you if you need it.

In a sense, Miles was relieved that Phoenix just seemed to... accept it. Without discussing it. Not too much at least.
He was glad to have Phoenix's support.

Alright, my turn. Let me try something.
I've never been in love.

Phoenix, this is stupid, we both know that you have.

I know. I drank. I just wanted to see if you would too.

You can't see me through text messages.

I can't. But you can be honest with me. Did you drink?

Miles took a moment to compose himself. The question wasn't an easy one, and it was mostly one he'd tried to avoid for a while.
But if he had to be honest, the way his heart beat during the exchange of the latest message, and the relief he felt when Phoenix accepted him...

Miles picked up his cup of tea and drank.

I did.

There was no answer, and Miles sighed and went back to work. He really didn't want to think of the matter for too long.
Maybe this game had been going for a little too long.

 

*

 

Alright. There's been something on my mind lately. I've never tried to keep secrets from friends.

Neither have I. Phoenix, don't you think it's time to stop this game? It's been going on for days.


But don't you like it? I like it.
Gives me excuses to write you messages.

You can send me messages without making them sound as a stupid teenager's game, Wright.

Phoenix.

Yes, Phoenix. What's been on your mind?

Would you answer if I didn't provoke you? Would you answer if it was not for the game?

You know I would.

No, I don't. You used to never answer me. I've never not answered to a friend's attempts to reach me.

Phoenix. That was years ago. I thought we'd been over it.
And double negation.

Who cares about grammar.
I've never tried to fake my death.
I've never disappeared on a friend.

Miles made a face. That was still sore.

Are you trying to guilt-trip me? Because I can very well just give up on answering right now if you so need to feel like your assumptions are right.

No, Miles no!
Sorry about that.
It's just... I really like the way we exchanged messages lately thanks to the game.
It was nice, you know. To feel that we got close again.
But I guess you're right. Maybe we can stop that game.

If he was honest with himself, Miles actually had enjoyed their bantering through text messages too. It hade indeed made him feel closer to Phoenix.
Maybe a bit too close.

Can we do a final round though? I still have an idea left.
And I promise after that I will stop messaging you I've nevers.

Miles sighed.

Fine. It's my turn, I believe.

His final I've never for this game. It was a bit disappointing, but also comforting. He had been playing with fire lately.
He struggled to find a meaningful way to conclude, and before he knew, his fingers were tapping.

I've never confessed to the one I love.

His breath stopped when he realized he had sent his message.
Why did he have to tread on such dangerous ground?

The answer came faster than he thought.

I didn't drink either.
But I guess it's a good thing you gave your statement first.
Okay, my turn.
The final one.
I've never loved a man

Something in Miles's heart sank at the message, and he let go of his phone.
He knew Phoenix loved women. Of course, he knew it. A lot of I've never they exchanged pushed in that direction. He knew he didn't stand a chance. It was hard enough to find a partner that would understand his lack of sexual attraction, how could he just expect the person whom he loved to love him back?
The thing is, when you've been in love for so long, you tend to forget about it.  Miles felt like a fool for even keeping on hoping for so long. Hope really could be destructive sometimes.

He also was hurt that Phoenix would go along with that statement for his final I've never. It couldn't even count as a coming out. It was like he had just wanted to hurt Miles's feelings.

He felt his phone vibrate with new messages, but he didn't look.
Somehow, it was hard to swallow.
Miles drowned himself back in his work.

*

There was a knock on the door. Miles glanced at his clock. It was about 10pm. Had he really been working for so long?

His office door was locked as usual when he didn't want to be disturbed. He got up and went to unlock it and open the door, finding himself face to face with...

"Wright."

The other lawyer's face fell when greeted by Miles's cold voice. But the prosecutor really didn't feel like sweetening his tone.
No matter how much work he had been through to forget, it still hurt, after all.

"I thought we agreed you'd call me Phoenix."

They had agreed indeed, although through messages. He had never called the man Phoenix when they were face to face. And now he had to keep eye lever with those bright blue eyes, he regretted even accepting.
How was he meant to remain unfazed if he let those syllables roll on his tongue? If he let himself get closer to his would-never-be-anything-more-than-friend?

That man could be so infuriating.

"Right, Phoenix... To what do I owe the honor? It's quite late, you know."
"I know. I was surprised to find your house empty, so I thought you'd be there. You never answered my final I've Never."
"There was nothing to answer, Wright. I drank, and the game was over."

Phoenix's shoulders fell.

"What's wrong, Phoenix?"
"Miles, you..."

The attorney's eyes suddenly stopped on something on his desk. Miles followed his stare to his phone. His phone, still blinking with new notifications he hadn't dared read yet.

"You haven't seen them, have you? My messages."
"I did get the last I've never. As I told you, you were right, and I drank, and then went back to work and have been working since."
"You've been working for six hours straight with no break?... No wait, that's not the problem right now. Although you should pay more attention to your health."

If he was paying attention to his health, he wouldn't even be having a face to face conversation with Phoenix Wright. It made his heart ache to only look at the man.

"Miles, please. Read the messages."
"Phoenix, that's enough."
"Please."

Miles felt his resolve shatter. Even knowing what he knew now, he couldn't just say no to Phoenix Wright.
He picked up his phone and unlocked it. It fell back on the conversation they were having.

I've never loved a man

Well, that still hurt.
But mostly Miles was startled by the amount of message that came afterwards.

No wait.
My fingers slipped and I sent the message too fast.
Damn.
Too nervous.
Let me try again.
I've never loved a man as I love Miles Edgeworth.
...
Miles?
Okay this is the most awkward thing I have done in my life, please answer.
Answer anything.
Don't ignore me.
Please.
Crap.
I don't know what to do now.
Please don't stop talking to me.
I know you're not attracted and I know I'm a fool but please hear me out.
Miles.
Please.

Miles's mind took a time to process the amount of messages. There were a lot after all.
No, he was being completely dishonest.
The truth that his mind had stopped at that one message, lost in the middle of all the other confused ones.

I've never loved a man as I love Miles Edgeworth.

His breath hitched. He could feel Phoenix's eyes on his back, and he was at loss for any action he could do.

"...Miles?"

Phoenix loved him.
He lost it.

"I've never been so happy to receive a love confession."

The words had come out of his mouth without him even thinking them. This was not like him. Nothing in this situation was like him.
He tried to recompose himself.

Phoenix loved him.
And he...

Leaving his phone on his desk, he went back to the door were the other was still standing.

"I've never been so good with feelings."

Phoenix let out a nervous laugh.

"Yeah, I kinda figured that out. But Miles..."

Miles hushed him. He couldn't let himself falter. He straightened his back, and, looking straight into Phoenix's eyes, he took a deep breath.

"I've never loved anyone but Phoenix Wright."

Phoenix Wright's face was a painting filled with emotions. He saw them go through his eyes, surprise, fear, concern, before his smile took over all the rest and turned him into the warmest being Miles had ever encountered.
The prosecutor slowly raised his hand to catch Phoenix's, his glaze never leaving Phoenix's eyes.
His heart was pounding so loud he could hear it as he murmured his final I've never.

"I've never felt this way for anyone else."

Phoenix's laugh was still a little strained as he gripped Miles's hand and drew him into the tightest hug he'd ever experienced. The whole world became blurry. He could feel his senses overwhelmed by Phoenix's smell, and Phoenix's warmth, and Phoenix's soft hair under his hand, as they both rested their heads on the other's shoulder.

"Do you have anything to drink? I think I should drink on this one too."