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Putting the Hope(less) in Hopeless Romantic

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September 23, 2028
Courtroom No. 6
Morning

“Maybe you should stay away from movie dates all together,” Maya teased with a grin.

“That's neither here nor there!” Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth shot back as a blush continued to bloom on his face.

“I know it’s hard, but can’t you suspend your disbelief for one nanosecond, Edgeworth?” Phoenix did his best to redirect Maya and the court back to the case at hand.

“I bet sci-fi movies push all your buttons the wrong way, don’t they, Mr. Edgeworth...?” Phoenix nudged her in an attempt to make her stop. The Judge had really set him off earlier with the whole “power of love” mess, and he looked like he was about to blow a gasket.  

“I can totally picture you yelling “That would never happen!” Every 5 seconds at the screen,” she smiled at Nick, proud of her joke but the grin died when she noticed his frown.

“This is real life we’re talking about!” Edgeworth yelled almost as loudly as Apollo, which was a clear red flag to Phoenix that Maya’s little joke about their first proper date where they’d rented a recent superhero blockbuster to watch together had gone too far. He spent the rest of the case doing his best to bring Edgeworth back to the fun bantering they’d started with, and was thankful that they were able to uncover the truth of the whole messy situation. But it still left him with a bit of a bad taste in his mouth, and he was determined to catch up to the man that he loved but hadn’t yet had the courage to say those exact words to.

September 23, 2028
Outside 

Late Afternoon 

After congratulating Ms. Sprocket and promising that he would come to the wedding next week, he sped out of the courtroom to in a rush to talk to his boyfriend, since he’d left the room in a huff once the confetti had started flying. He found him near the parking structure, leaning on a tree with his head in his hands.

“Oh come on Edgeworth, don't look so glum. It might not fit your perfect logic, but i’m marking that down as proof for the power of love. Even if Larry complicated everything again,” Phoenix said cheerily, placing his hand on the man's shoulder.

Edgeworth shrugged it off immediately, and crossed his arms. “Surely you're not incompetent enough to believe that Larry is the cause of my frustration?”

“Uhh…of course not?” Phoenix rubbed his neck nervously.

Maybe that bit about the power of love had been too much? I guess i’ll wait another week before telling him how i feel.

“Look, it was a good back and forth, but someone had to lose,” Phoenix guessed, which only deepened Edgeworth's frown.

“I cannot believe you would think of me as that sort of person. Especially after everything I've done to fix the justice system here!”

“I never meant it like that and you know-”

Gumshoe ran up behind then, accompanied by his usual air of bad timing. “Mr. Edgeworth, sir I need you to sign-”

“Not now detective!" Edgeworth said with a dismissive hand up and the detective walked away slowly, looking at Maya with fear in his eyes. She'd been listening in on their conversation, unbeknownst to the pair.

“What's eating him?” Gumshoe asked her nervously.

"It's just a lover's quarrel, pay it no mind." Maya said passively, piggybacking on the running joke from the prosecutor's office that had been started by Klavier Gavin. Over the past year, more and more people in their respective places of work had been trying to bring the two attorneys together romantically: but what made this instance particularly trying is that no one, save for Maya, knew that the two had actually started dating about a month ago

"That's not- we're not dating. I vehemently regret loaning you my Jane Austen collection," Edgeworth said with exhaustion. Like a parrot, Maya had started to insert 19th century phrases into random sentences, and the effect was jarring at best.

"Wait, you read Jane Austen? I knew you had way too much in common with Mr. Darcy for it to be unintentional," Phoenix teased. But Edgeworth didn’t relax or give him a clever retort like he’d expected.

Edgeworth looked like he was about to spray steam out of his ears. "A moment, Wright,"

"Ooooh," Maya heckled Phoenix, like a child whose classmate on his way to the principal's office.

 

Edgeworth waited until they were in his car before speaking in a frighteningly even tone.

"You've crossed a line, Mr.Wright."

"Woah, what's with the formalities?”

“I think it's pertinent to reinstate them, considering that you can't maintain them even in a courtroom setting!" He unintentionally hit his arm on his steering wheel and was determined not to let his wince of pain show on his face.

"You okay?" 

"Just. Peachy,” he answered through gritted teeth.

"Look, I'm sorry if all those questions in court made you uncomfortable, I told Maya not to-"

"Maya?! You think this is about Ms. Fey's behavior and not your own?!" Edgeworth sounded more surprised than angry.

"Uhh... There's not a right answer to that question is there?"

Edgeworth sighed exasperatedly.

"I thought I was clear about boundaries. Specifically workplace boundaries, Wright. " He looked out the dashboard, deeply hurt at the breach of trust combined with the sheer embarrassment he was subjected to in court. He'd wanted to melt into oblivion so many times that for a moment he'd wished he was the Wicked Witch of the West.

"It was just some harmless fun about flowers and weddings. And you were just as keen to flirt back and demean me! ” Phoenix snapped back defensively, firmly believing that Edgeworth was being over dramatic.

Edgeworth laughed hauntingly and Phoenix swore internally, finally catching on that he'd screwed up big time.

"You think that was fun? That those are the faces I make when I'm enjoying myself?” He sounded like a mad scientist almost, swimming in regret at his decision to start a relationship.

“No, I mean, i didn't mean to- I… I was just trying to lighten the mood,” Phoenix mumbled nervously, at a loss of what to say. Edgeworth was not.

“This was a mistake.”

“Miles, please, I'm sorry,” Phoenix pleaded sincerely, moving a hand towards his shoulder but instead of making contact he simply let it hover.

“Everything after we kissed has been a disaster,” Edgeworth said sadly, making eye contact with the defense attorney.  

“Miles, no. The flight home from Khura’in was wonderful.” He set his hovering hand on Edgeworth's shoulder and he didn't push back.

“You're only saying that because that's the only thing that didn't go haywire. Nearly every date has been some sort of a disaster, and what's worse was how you clearly gossiped about me with Ms. Fey,” Edgeworth looked away with embarrassment and re-established his posture like he was building a wall to keep Phoenix out.

“She's my best friend Miles, and a friend of yours! After you hated the movie we rented last time I needed her advice. Even so, I told her to keep it a secret,” Phoenix said sincerely.

“Well clearly she did a fine job with that, huh? You two just had to pull out all the stops to make me look like a fool at the trial,” His voice was a mess of unpleasant emotions, so complicatedly intertwined that even Athena would’ve struggled to pick them out individually. Phoenix easily recalled Edgeworth’s amusement at humiliating him in court, and thought his frustration was unfair.

“It's not my fault that you were prosecuting against an innocent woman,” Phoenix retorted defensively. He regretted the words the moment he said them.

“Are you daft ?! I'm referring to your mockery of my discomfort with romance, flowers, and worst of all dragging my opinions of love and marriage into the courtroom! What was I supposed to say? If I told anyone how I really felt they would all make fun of me, as you saw poignant to prove,” his voice was climbing the registers and sounded like it could break.

“You mean what you said wasn't the truth?” Phoenix softened as he felt the bottom drop out of his stomach.  

“Of course not! I value my privacy and keep my personal life out of the courtroom!”

For a moment, Phoenix was stunned in silence, and Edgeworth put his face in his hands to hide the tears that were falling.

“Get out,” was all he managed to choke out.  

“Miles, please,” Phoenix put his hand on his shoulder and Edgeworth gruffly shrugged it off.

“I said get out! Whatever it was that we were, is...done,” His voice cracked at the last word.

“I'm sorry, please don't-” Phoenix was crying openly now.

“Get out now or I won't hesitate to call my sister to remove you,” he bluffed. He hadn’t told Franziska about their relationship, but he wanted nothing more than to speed away so he could process his feelings in private safety.

“I don't want it to end like this, please Miles,” Phoenix had to force the words out. He opened the car door, and looked back at the man who was so uncharacteristically vulnerable. He'd only seen Edgeworth cry a handful of times.

And when Edgeworth shook his head, Phoenix shut the car door and stepped back. The car purred to life and Edgeworth drove away just a little too fast.

Please. I love you. Phoenix had wanted to say, but he knew he would’ve only been able to blubber if he’d tried. Phoenix stood in shock, and then his emotions hit him like a ton of bricks and he began to sob right where he stood. Time seemed to slow and speed past all at once, and despite doing his best to calm himself down, the only improvement he’d managed was that he was crying soundlessly.

“Nick, there you are! Pearly is grabbing Gumshoe and then we’re headed out for burger time! Wait, where’s Edgeworth?”

Just the mention of the man’s name made him lose his progress, and he crumpled with a loud sob into a heap on the concrete.