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Better than Medicine

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Miles Edgeworth was always sure to leave at least one hour of free time in his schedule each morning. While other people preferred to relax during the evenings after work, Miles preferred the mornings, before the stresses of the day had even begun, before his colleagues and subordinates had awoken and begun their daily ritual of bombarding his email and phone with an onslaught of queries and concerns about whatever case they were currently on. Sometimes the messages weren’t even related to work; Sebastian had developed a habit of pestering him as though he was a cosmic mentor/dictionary, while Kay and Maya liked to send him strange images they called ‘memes’. At least Maya’s incessant spamming of his inbox contained jokes somewhat relevant to his samurai-aligned interests, some of which he’d even saved to his phone. Kay preferred to send him the most nonsensical images that seemed to require a degree in hieroglyphics to decipher.

It wasn’t as though he disliked having these people ceaselessly contacting him. It was… nice, in fact, to have a constant reminder that there were people out there who cared for him, who thought of him often enough to reach out daily. That didn’t stop it from being exhausting. Socialising in any form had always drained him no matter who the person was. Save for one.

So, evenings were for fending off impending migraines, going over cases in his head over and over, planning precisely what needed to be done the next day. Mornings were for sitting on the couch with Pess’s head in his lap as his favourite Steel Samurai episodes played on the television, sipping hot tea while birds tittered outside the window, the soft morning light filtering in through the curtains and igniting the little dust particles in the air as though they were stardust. Any worries could wait until he arrived at the prosecutors’ office. Until then, Miles could take a moment to just relax.

Then the blare of his ringtone shattered his quiet morning. 

He sighed, resigned to the fact that the rest of LA was waking up, and picked up his phone to see Wright’s face lighting up the screen - a candid photo Maya had taken and set to Wright’s caller ID after stealing Miles’s phone. It was a terrible photo - Maya had caught him mid-blink and mid-burger bite, with ketchup trailing down his chin - but Miles hadn’t changed it because for some strange reason it made him smile. This time, though, he frowned; Wright rarely called him anymore, preferring to keep conversations face-to-face where there was no chance of tampering, and never this early unless there was some kind of emergency.

“Wright?” he asked briskly as soon as he swiped to answer. “Is something the matter?”

But it wasn’t Wright’s voice that greeted him on the other end of the line. Instead, he was met with the chipper voice of a nine-year-old girl he knew quite well.

“Hi, Mr Edgeworth!”

His heart gave a strange twist at the term. In private, Trucy had another name for him. He’d told her she didn’t have to refer to him as anything like that, that his co-signing of her adoption papers was only a formality so the state would let Wright keep her, but she had insisted. In public or over the phone where things could be overheard or tapped into, however, she called him ‘Mr Edgeworth’. It was smart, precautious, with everything going on in the Wrights’ lives, but it always felt strangely wrong to Miles’s ears.

“Trucy? Is everything alright? Where’s your father?”

“Hmm, in bed, I think. Unless he tried to get up and passed out on the floor again.”

“What?” Miles blurted, momentarily panicked that Wright’s grape juice habit had turned into an actual wine habit. He would never be so irresponsible around Trucy, surely?

“He’s sick,” Trucy supplied, quenching his worries temporarily until they flared up again for an entirely different reason. “I think it’s the flu. He keeps pretending he’s fine, but I checked his temperature with that thermometer you gave us, and I can’t remember what it’s supposed to be, but more than a hundred is bad, right?”

Miles moved his glasses up to rub the space between his eyes. It seemed his migraine was starting early. “Yes, that’s rather bad, Trucy. Do you need me to come over?”

“I don’t know,” said Trucy, worry clear in her tone. “If he’s really sick, I don’t wanna leave him alone. But I have a history test today and the school bus is gonna get here soon. Could you come look after him?”

“I-” Miles paused. He couldn’t in good conscience leave Wright alone with a fever, but he had work. Perhaps if he just stopped in to check on him, left him some medicine… He still had some time free before he had to be at the prosecutors’ office. “I’ll be over soon, Trucy, don’t worry.”

“Thanks, Mr Edgeworth!” Trucy said, instantly brightening. “I’ll see you after school, okay? Love you, bye!”

Miles opened his mouth to respond, but too unused to verbal affection, the words took a second too long to escape the block in his throat, and by then Trucy had already hung up.

Miles sighed and pocketed his phone before turning to his dog. Even if he couldn’t stay with Wright all day, he knew that Pess would be as good a sickbed companion as any.

“Shall we go on a walk, then, girl?”

 


 

Miles’s current apartment was temporary while his long work trips to Europe were still ongoing - until his fixture in LA was permanent, he wouldn’t bother finding a home that was too - and to say it was a coincidence that it was within walking distance of Wright’s apartment would be lying. It wasn’t strange to want to live close to his friend and (technically) daughter, especially when they were both prone to trouble. That’s what he insisted whenever Franziska teased him about it, anyway, because he absolutely refused to tell her the real reason, even if he was 99% sure she already knew.

He stopped in at a drug store along the way, not trusting Wright’s medicine cabinet to be stocked, and came out with a bag stuffed with every kind of thing he thought might help. He wasn’t entirely sure what was needed, honestly; the last time he’d been sick he’d just… ignored it. Until he’d passed out at his work desk and Franziska had called him foolish in every language she knew at a volume that did his throbbing head no favours, eventually ordering Gumshoe to take him home. The detective had proceeded to smother him in blankets before trying to feed him chicken noodle soup from the microwave until Miles had threatened to cut his salary. Well… at least he knew how not to go about things.

He arrived at Wright’s apartment not long after. Getting in wasn’t a problem - Wright had trusted him with a spare key - navigating the clutter of magic tricks and unfolded laundry that piled up in the hallway, however, was more difficult.

“Wright?” he called, nudging his shoes off at the door and setting his bag down. He carefully picked up what looked like a set of throwing knives that he sincerely hoped were fake and placed them on a sideboard before letting Pess off her leash. The hound instantly bounded into the kitchen to sniff about for fallen scraps, leaving Miles to venture towards Wright’s bedroom alone. Traitor.

“Wright?” he called again after hearing no response the first time. 

He gingerly pushed open the bedroom door to find that Trucy had not been exaggerating when she said he might have passed out on the floor. Whether he’d tried to get up to go somewhere or had just fallen out of the bed, Miles wasn’t sure, but his bedsheets were in a tangle around his legs and his face was half-smushed into the carpet, a neat pool of drool already soaked into the fibres as he snored. Miles silently lamented that this was the man he was for some god-forsaken reason attracted to.

Miles crouched down next to apparent love of his life and prodded the cheek that wasn’t hidden in the carpet. Wright gave an elegant snort as he awoke with a start, blinking blearily down at his make-shift bed then up at Miles, eyes unfocused as he rubbed at the carpet indentation on his cheek.

“Edgewor-?” He cut off in a coughing fit, thankfully having enough forethought to cover his mouth. It lasted a worryingly long time, the sound horrible as the coughs racked from his chest. Miles wasn’t sure what to do, so awkwardly patted him on the back until the coughing subsided and Wright looked back up at him, continuing as though nothing had happened. “What are you doing here?”

“Trucy called to inform me you were sick. She requested I check up on you.”

“I’m not sick,” Wright scoffed immediately, which would have been more effective had it not come out in a nasal croak, his Ns sounding more like Ds.

Miles gave him a deadpan look in return. “Wright, you currently have the complexion of a sun-dried tomato.”

“I’m fine,” Wright insisted, his Ns once again getting lost in the congestion. He tried to push himself upright and almost toppled over backwards, but Miles managed to catch his shoulders before his head collided with the bedframe.

“If you are so “fine”, why were you passed out on the carpet?”

Wright blinked at him, eyes still unfocused, squinting as though the dim bedroom light was far too bright. “Hmmmm... choice. Carpet’s comfy.” His speech was rather slurred, and when he raised a hand to swipe away loose hair from his forehead, Miles noticed those locks were damp with sweat.

“How are you undefeated at poker when you’re this bad a liar?”

Wright gave a short laugh, blinking slowly as though about to pass out again. Miles kept his grip firm on his shoulders as he threatened to slump over. “I’m off my game right now, cut me some slack.”

“Because you’re sick?” Miles prompted.

“No, I’m-” Wright paused, eyes narrowed as he tried to think - “drunk”

Miles raised a single eyebrow. “You don’t drink.”

“............ High.”

Miles sighed and moved to stand, pulling Wright up with him to maneuver him onto the bed. Wright sat for a moment, swaying slightly and blinking, then opened his mouth to continue to argue with Miles - it seemed to be his favourite pastime, after all - before he stopped, paused, then promptly leaned over to vomit in the trash can by his bed. Miles held back his grimace, gingerly rubbing Wright’s back as he continued to dry-heave. He spied a glass of water on the bedside table and, once Wright sat back up, handed it to him. It was still cold - Trucy must have poured it out before she’d left, always looking out for her father - and Wright gulped it down gratefully.

“Might be a little sick,” Wright conceded after a moment’s silence.

“You don’t say,” Miles replied in monotone. He pressed a hand to Wright’s forehead, damp with sweat and worryingly hot to the touch. Wright’s eyes slipped shut as he leaned slightly into Miles’s hand before he seemed to come back to his senses, blinking and pulling away. 

“You’re burning up,” Miles told him. “Lie down while I fetch the supplies.”

Finally willing to do as asked, Wright allowed Miles to manoeuvre him into his pillows and lay the comforter over him. Miles took the trash can with him on his way out. Wright definitely owed him after this.

When he returned with a clean trash can and drug store bag in hand, Pess followed, apparently having cleared the kitchen of all food scraps, and clambered on the bed next to Wright, snuffling her wet nose into his face and he barked out a surprised laugh.

“Pess, down!” Miles scolded, setting the trash can back beside the bed in case Wright needed it again, but Wright held onto the dog, burying his face into her fur.

“S’alright,” Wright reassured him, pulling away from her fur after a moment, probably in order to breath. “Didn’t know you brought her.”

“She’s been enamoured with your kitchen,” Miles said, perching on the edge of the bed and retrieving a packet of cooling gel strips from the bag. 

Wright laughed again, the sound hoarse but still wonderful to hear as it always was, until it turned into a groan as he rubbed his head. A soft smile was still present, though. “Bet she had a feast in there,” he said. “Truce throws the food she doesn’t like under the fridge when she thinks I’m not looking.”

“Wright! You could get mice!” Miles cried, affronted.

Wright waved a limp hand, nonplussed. “Already do. Truce had a couple for magic stuff but they escaped. Don’t tell the landlord.”

Miles discreetly pulled his feet up onto the bed just in case any vermin tried to approach him. He edged closer to Wright, smoothing one of the gel sheets over his burning forehead. Wright sighed contentedly, his eyes slipping closed for a moment before he looked back up at Miles, an easy smile on his face, eyes slightly unfocused.

“S'nice you’re here,” he said, the words slurring slightly.

Miles felt his cheeks heat up slightly. He looked away and cleared his throat. “Yes, well, I can’t stay too long. Work.”

“Yeah. Figured,” Wright said, shrugging slightly, smile still in place as his eyes slipped back closed. “Still... thanks. You’re like… like a nurse. Nurse Miles.” Suddenly, he burst into laughter, which quickly turned into more hacking coughs. Miles stared at him, startled, until Wright settled back down, still giggling slightly.

“What on earth is the matter with you?”

“Nothing, nothing. Just... ‘magining you in a nurse outfit,'' Wright snorted. His eyes snapped open suddenly, lit up with excitement, or perhaps just fever. “That’s what you should go as for Halloween. A sexy, hot, sexy nurse! With like…. Like a boob window and everything. Bet Larry could find you one. M’gonna call Larry.” 

He grabbed his phone from the bedside table and started to fumble with it while Miles just sat there in mute shock with his cheeks burning until he regained enough sense to snatch Wright’s phone away.

“I don’t have “boobs”, Wright!” he finally forced out.

“Everyone’s got boobs!” Wright insisted.

“Perhaps you are thinking of breast tissue. Or pectoral-”

“No, no. Boobs!” Wright held out his hands in front of Miles’s chest, making grabbing motions. “Big manly titties.”

“I-” Miles blinked at him. “Are you about to grope me?”

“I wouldn’t grope you without your consent, Edgeworth, I’m not an animal,” Wright said, flopping back into his pillows. He waved a hand around before dropping it back down onto Pess, idly stroking her fur. “Remind me to ask later.”

Miles stared at him. The last time he’d seen Wright this delirious with fever, the man had pressed his attorney’s badge and a magic rock into his hand and asked him to defend his ex-girlfriend who’d turned out to have a murderous evil twin… who was also his ex-girlfriend. He supposed being consensually groped by Wright wasn’t so bad in comparison. Or at least not as ludicrous.

Miles blinked away images of that scenario and went back to adjusting the strip on Wright’s burning forehead. He placed the rest of the packet of gel sheets on the bedside table before routing through his bag of supplies.

“I brought some food for Pess. She needs feeding at six, I’ll call to remind you. There’s sports drinks to rehydrate you, tissues, vitamins, cough drops, and cold medicine,” Miles said, laying them out on the bedside table one by one. “It says to take it every four hours. Take some now and I’ll call to remind you later.” He moved to unscrew the cap but caught sight of Wright’s face. Any sign of his prior deliria-fueled amusement had been wiped clean, his expression now hard and serious and eyes suddenly focused.

“No, thanks.”

Miles frowned at him. “Wright, it will help bring your fever down and make you feel better.”

“You know, I think I’m already better.” He grinned falsely and pushed himself upright as if to demonstrate his point, then he froze in place, the smile slipping slightly as his hand shot out towards the trash can. There were a solid five seconds of silence, neither man daring to move, then Wright swallowed thickly and grinned again. “See? All better!”

Miles was getting annoyed now. How could Wright be so stubbornly thickheaded, completely ignoring his health and wellbeing? Then he remembered his sister shouting that exact thing at him after he’d passed out as his desk. Karma was a fitting name. But still, Wright was supposed to be better than that.

It only took a gentle shove to get Wright to lie back down, probably because he was so weak. “Don’t be ridiculous, you’ll get better much faster if you take it.”

The grin finally dropped. “I don’t like taking pills.”

“So you’ll just lie there suffering instead?”

“Yes.”

Wright’s response was so firm and insistent, it momentarily startled Miles into silence. He swallowed and forced his voice to soften.

“Wright, I don’t want to leave you here in the state you’re in. Please. You’re being irrational.”

“Oh, and walking up twelve flights of stairs every day instead of taking the elevator is completely rational?” Wright snapped.

Miles just stared at him in shock as Wright groaned and ran a hand down his face.

“Sorry. I’m sorry. That was uncalled for.”

“Do you…” Miles started, staring down at the pill bottle in his hand. “Do you have some sort of medicine-related trauma?”

Wright snorted out a joyless laugh, staring out the window instead of meeting Miles’s eyes. “You read the file, didn’t you?”

“The-?” Miles stopped, the memories reforming. 

It was only a few years ago he’d read up on State vs Wright, a trial involving a much younger Phoenix and a poisoned bottle of cold medicine. He stared down at the very similar bottle in his hand. It was unopened, with a tamper-proof seal, but he knew pointing this out to Wright wouldn’t do any good. Trauma didn’t listen to reason, he knew that from experience.

“She’s gone, Phoenix,” he said instead, voice soft.

Wright looked abruptly at him at the use of his first name, eyes sharp as he stared in silence for a moment or two before his face twisted into an expression Miles hated but had seen all too much of recently; cold apathy. 

“There's a new snake loose, Miles.”

Miles swallowed. He knew this all too well. That snake was the reason Wright had lost his badge, why he was forced to work in a freezing bar in a legally ambiguous trade, forced to act like he’d hit rock bottom so he wasn’t pushed down even more, so his secret work into uncovering the corruption, rebuilding the legal system from the ground up, wasn’t discovered, snuffed out. That snake was the reason Phoenix held Miles at arm’s length, the reason everything between them was left unspoken, hidden, lest a target be placed on Miles’s back. If Miles Edgeworth hated anyone still in this realm of existence, it was Kristoph Gavin. But what he hated even more was Wright talking about him in this context, with his face so neutral, his voice so uncaring, like he knew it was only a matter of time before the viper struck. 

But he didn’t voice any of this, because Wright already knew his feelings on the matter, and because having emotional discussions could be saved for when Wright was in a better state of mind and Miles had had a chance to script his side of the discussion so he didn’t sound completely emotionally stunted.

“Snakes are venomous, not poisonous, Wright,” he said instead. 

And Wright let out a surprised laugh, the apathetic look melting clean from his face. “You’re so pedantic,” he said fondly, nudging Miles with his foot. 

Miles smiled and placed the medicine bottle back in the bag.           

            


 

Miles decided to call in sick to work. If Wright refused to take his medicine, then Miles would just have to stick around and nurse him back to health by himself. He flushed as he remembered Wright’s ramble about certain Halloween costumes and buried those thoughts down deep.

When he called the prosecutor’s office to let them know he wouldn’t be attending work today, the secretary seemed surprised but pleased. Excited for him, even. She didn’t even stop to listen to his explanation, just ushered him quickly off the phone and told him to get some much-needed rest. Miles chose not to read too deeply into the implications of that. Surely it hadn’t been that long since he’d taken a day off? He tried to think back and came up blank, aside from the time Franziska had forced him to go home in the middle of the day. Maybe there was some truth in Wright always calling him a workaholic. 

He tried not to think about all the responsibilities he’d have to catch up on tomorrow, and even went as far as to turn off his phone, for once ignoring the barrage of emails and texts from his barely competent colleagues. They could make do without him for one day. For now, the only one who needed him was Phoenix.

The man in question had fallen asleep while Miles had placed the phone call, curled up next to Pess with his fingers buried in her fur. The sight made his heart give a strange flutter, and he resisted the urge to take a photo, even if Wright had once taken plenty of him after he’d fallen asleep on their coach with Trucy tucked into his side. Instead, he closed the door as softly as he could and set about clearing up the mess of the apartment, neatly folding the laundry and finding places for all of Trucy’s magic tricks. He didn’t hold it against Wright to have let the apartment dissolve into such a mess; he knew the man struggled with depression, even before his disbarment, and the fact that he was even holding it together enough to take such good care of his daughter was an accomplishment Miles was proud of. He didn’t mind picking through the clutter if it meant easing Wright’s worries just a little.

Miles made somewhat of an attempt at making soup for lunch, but quickly gave up; he’d never been one for cooking, had never really had the time to learn, and there was never much point in bothering when he could afford to eat out or pay people to cook for him. Fortunately, he found some tins of chicken soup in the cupboard and managed to heat them up without complete disaster. Wright, thankfully, seemed to be feeling a little better after his nap and was able to sit up enough to eat some.

“You can go home, you know?” Wright told him, setting aside his half-finished bowl. “You don’t have to stick around for my sake. I’ll be okay.”

“I know that, Wright,” Miles replied, flushing slightly. If anyone was indestructible, it was Phoenix Wright, true to his namesake. “I would simply prefer to be sure. Knowing your luck, the second I leave someone will be murdered outside your building and you’ll be framed for it.”

“Ah, so you’re just here to give me an alibi,” Wright said, his smile stretched wide in sleepy amusement. “And when you catch the flu from me, I’ll return the favour. I’ll even wear a sexy nurse costume. One up you.”

Miles’s flush deepened and he stood quickly, grabbing the bowl from the nightstand. “Unlike you, I’m up to date on my vaccines,” he told him brusquely. “Now go back to sleep.” Wright laughed but rolled over in bed, closing his eyes obediently. It wasn’t long before his breathing evened out.

Miles stood there for a moment longer, watching the rise and fall of Wright’s chest while a dull ache filled his own. Then he sighed and left the room to continue doing what he could - what little Wright allowed him to - to help.

 


 

Miles was elbows-deep in a pile of dirty dishes when Trucy arrived home from school. He heard the door open, and an excited squeal as Pess bounded to it to greet one of her favourite people. He tugged his hands from the sink and rinsed them off in time for Trucy to burst into the kitchen and plow into his chest, squeezing him tight around the middle.

“Hi, Papa!”

Miles smiled, his heart instantly warming at the term reserved only for the privacy of his own or the Wrights’ apartment, where no poisonous beasts could overhear. He rested a hand on her small head and held her close, savouring the moment.

“How was school?” he asked her.

“Good! I aced my test, look!” She pulled away from him to reach into her school bag, and proudly brandished the history test with full marks displayed brightly at the top. The Wrights’ fridge was already cluttered with photos, tests, report cards, and art, some of which looked more like Pearl’s work than Trucy’s, but he found a spot next a photograph of the girls with Maya and Franziska at Disneyland, an outing Franziska had begrudgingly agreed to after much pestering from Maya, if Miles recalled. He smiled at the sight of his stern-faced sister decked out in Minnie Mouse ears.

“How’s Daddy?” Trucy asked, dumping out her homework on the kitchen table as Pess impatiently circled her, waiting for more cuddles and playtime.

“Better, but he needs rest, so try not to disturb him.”

“Okay!”

Leaving her homework abandoned on the table, Trucy ran off to play with Pess in the living room, the sound of her giggling filling the apartment. Miles briefly worried it would wake Wright, but didn’t have the heart to tell her to quiet down, so he just watched after them fondly.

 


 

Unwilling to attempt cooking again, Miles ordered takeout for dinner, and Wright managed to rouse himself enough to sit at the kitchen table and eat a few bites. He even smiled and nodded while Trucy rambled about her day at school and her latest magic tricks. Miles assumed he wasn’t paying full attention considering his fever-addled state, until Trucy asked Miles if she could use Pess in a magic trick and he immediately shot it down.

“No way. Not after what happened to the doves.”

“But Daddy,” Trucy whined. “That was a one off thing!”

“What happened to the doves?” Miles asked curiously.

“You don’t wanna know,” Wright replied darkly, and Miles didn’t press any further.

He was prepared to start heading home after dinner, but Trucy clung to his arm.

“You can’t go! What if Daddy gets sicker overnight and I’m the only one around to drive him to the hospital? I’m nine, Papa, I can’t drive!”

“Trucy, you know the number for the emergency services perfectly well-”

“We don’t even have a car!” Trucy wailed, ignoring him completely. 

“Trucy-”

“I’d have to take him on my bike! He’s too big to fit on my handlebars and I don’t have a trick for that yet!”

“Fine! Fine, I’ll stay.”

Trucy stopped bawling instantly, her face brightening like a light had suddenly been flicked on. “Yay! Thanks, Papa!”

Wright, who had been watching all of this without saying a word, attempted unsuccessfully to cover his laughter with his hand. Miles glared at him. 

 


 

Wright went back to bed soon after dinner, trusting Miles to wash the dishes, help Trucy with her homework, and put her to bed. She had him read her five stories before her eyelids finally started drooping as she slumped into Miles’s side. He gently eased her into a more comfortable position as he stood, tucking her in and placing a gentle kiss to her forehead. It had been an instinct, but when he moved to the door and reached for the light switch, his mind supplied him with distant, foggy memories of his father tucking him into bed in much the same way Miles had Trucy. He swallowed back the lump forming in his throat, flicked off the light and let the door slip silently closed behind him.

He checked on Wright next. The man was sound asleep, his breathing slightly less laboured than it had been that morning. Miles reached out to brush away stray strands of dark hair before pressing the backs of his fingers quickly to his forehead, pleased to discover that it was much cooler than before. That was good; he was getting better quickly. Still, Miles made sure the trashcan was in reaching distance and placed a cool glass of water and a fresh packet of tissues on the bedside table for when Wright woke up, then stood and left his room too.

The hallway outside was dark and quiet. If he listened close enough, he could hear the low hum of LA traffic outside, of Trucy rolling over in bed and Phoenix’s soft snores. The pull-out couch awaited him in the living room and he sighed, the dull ache returning to his chest. He was staying for tonight, but after that he’d return home to his cold, dark apartment, with no Wrights around to fill it with the warmth and light of their smiles and laughter. He felt Pess nudge his leg with her snout and bent down to pet her. At least he’d always have her around to keep him company. Still, he preferred it when Pess wasn’t playing alone, but jumping alongside the small feet of an excitable nine-year-old. 

One day soon, he told himself. One day Wright’s work would come together and his tormenter would be taken down. One day Wright would no longer have to worry about the people he cared for getting caught in the viper’s nest, and he’d be able to stop pushing them away. Wright would get his badge back, and they would be facing off once again in the courtroom, the thrilling rush between them unparalleled. Then they would go home, a home they shared, one warm and bright, back to Trucy and Pess, and Kay if she decided to break in for dinner, and Miles would never let any of them slip through his fingers again, would never let anymore harm come to his family.

One day, it would happen. And when that day came, when Kristoph Gavin finally reached the downfall he deserved, Miles would make sure he never saw the outside of a prison cell again.