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The Walk to Tomorrow

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"I do not get paid enough for this."

"You usually don't get paid at all."

Edgeworth hadn't even looked up from what he was reading to insult Phoenix, and it was a testament to just how hideous his day in court had been that Phoenix didn't retaliate.

"I presume you're here to ask for help, then," said Edgeworth, "seeing as I don't have anything to do with your current case."

"At this point all I want is a rational human being," muttered Phoenix, slumping back into the couch. Despite his frequent mocking of Edgeworth's taste in décor, he had to admit his rival's furniture was particularly comfortable.

"Paynes?"

"Both of them," muttered Phoenix, rubbing a hand over his face. "On the one case. Who authorised that?"

"The decision was made before the defendant nominated an attorney," said Miles. "So don't blame me."

"There has to be some law against the two of them being in the same room as each other. It's bad enough being made fun of by one of them, but once they start fighting with each other while trying to gang up on me at the same time, it's all over."

"Trust me, if it were possible they would both be long gone," said Edgeworth, putting away the stack of papers he'd been reading. "Unfortunately they're both vaguely competent, so we can't get rid of them without reason."

"Being obnoxious isn't a reason?"

"If it was, there would be about two prosecutors left in the state," muttered Miles, eliciting a small laugh from Phoenix.

"I don't know how you do it," Phoenix said before adjusting his position on the couch so he was no longer slouching.

"I assure you it is far easier than trying to work around a practising magician," smiled Edgeworth.

"And I assure you that the occasional dove is infinitely preferable to a territorial hawk making a nest of my paperwork," said Phoenix.

"I would actually rank Taka in my top five most trusted employees at the moment," said Miles and Phoenix laughed, "at least she doesn't go about practically begging for raises."

"So does Simon rank above or below her? I feel like Athena and Aura would be able to make good use of that information," smiled Phoenix and Edgeworth simply rolled his eyes.

"Is there anything I can do for you regarding your current case?" asked Edgeworth. "As much as I like to see you make a fool of yourself I don't want to set any precedent for the Paynes working together again."

"Nah, I think I'll be alright," said Phoenix. "I reckon I just need to find some more dirt on the defendant's fiancée - he seems to be involved in more of it than I'd thought."

"You know it's a good case when there's some jealous romantic-type getting in the way of everything," said Miles and Phoenix gave a pained groan in agreement. "Best of luck for the evidence hunt, then."

"Thanks," said Phoenix, rising to his feet. "I'll see you for Trucy's show on… Thursday?"

"Friday," said Miles. "I would go to both but I've got some hideous judicial dinner-party thing I'm apparently obligated to attend Thursday night."

"Don't worry," said Phoenix. "I'll tell Truce to do the better set on Friday."

Leaving Edgeworth with a quick wink, Phoenix was gone out the door in an instant, and Edgeworth's eyes returned to the pile of paperwork on his desk.

The Paynes were really quite overdue for a performance review…

 


 

Phoenix's bike whirred softly as it sped down the hill, taking him into view of the river and turning onto the footpath lining the bank. This early on a Sunday morning there wasn't another soul for as far as he could see, and he'd only passed a single jogger on his way down. If someone had told his college-aged self that someday Phoenix would prefer to run errands at the crack of dawn, he probably would have called them insane, yet here he was. It was a habit he'd picked up not too far into his disbarment, when sleeping was a chore and idleness was a mockery, and he'd developed quite the taste for the early morning city. It was nigh impossible to believe he'd been hit by a car only a couple of blocks from the very path he was riding when there wasn't a sound to be heard, and nothing more than a pigeon to greet him.

He paused for a minute to appraise his bike as he chained it outside the row of shops and his face twitched into a momentary frown. He needed a new bike. He'd needed a new bike for nearly four years now, but a new bike needed money. At least that was actually a possible goal now, instead of the elaborate dream it had been back when the cost of everything from food to internet had forced him to move into his old office with his daughter….

Maybe being alone with his thoughts this early in the morning wasn't such a good thing.

He didn't need too much from the all-night supermarket (and it wasn't like he could carry much on his bike anyway), but he took his time wandering around the store regardless. There was something fascinating about empty supermarkets - the seemingly-abandoned rows and rows of milk looking like something out of a particularly bland apocalypse movie.

What would happen to all the milk in the event of an apocalypse? Phoenix supposed it would just be left to curdle on the once-refrigerated shelves, eventually turning into the breeding ground of some disgusting mould. Maybe that mould would in turn evolve to become the dominant species, humans replaced by the offspring of their own refuse.

"Wright?"

Pretty gross, but that's how the world seemed to work sometimes. How long would it take for the other products in the dairy aisle to decay, he wondered. He supposed the long-life milk would last longer than the regular milk, but what about the cheese? The blue cheese, especially, how could you even tell if it had gone off? It was full of mould already.

"Wright."

Phoenix snapped out of his dairy-induced trance and looked up to find the last person he would have expected to run into in a supermarket at just past six in the morning.

"Edgeworth?"

"Are you alright?" asked Miles, slightly wary. "You were staring at the milk and doing nothing for a rather long time."

"Ah," said Phoenix. Another reason why he liked doing errands early in the morning - there usually wasn't anyone around to notice when he got carried away in his thoughts. "Would you believe I was thinking about the apocalypse?"

Edgeworth raised an eyebrow. "If it were anyone else, not especially. But when it comes to you, nothing seems to surprise me anymore."

"At least I didn't try to cross-examine the milk to prove my case."

"The day's still young," said Edgeworth with an expression Phoenix would have called a smirk had there been any trace of genuine malice in it.

"Well what are you doing here so early in the morning?" asked Phoenix, "if you're not here to join the dairy apocalypse club."

"Shopping, Wright, as one usually does in a supermarket." Now that was a smirk. "It's more productive than pretending to sleep."

Phoenix nodded absently. "That's why I picked up the habit, too."

"You're having trouble sleeping?"

"Used to," Phoenix replied. "Back when I was-"

"-Right," said Miles.

"Yeah, with all the chaos around me I'm too tired nowadays not to sleep well," said Phoenix with an awkward grin. "But I still like shopping around dawn."

"I can see why," said Miles. "Other shoppers might not be so tolerant of you staring at open freezers."

"Ha ha," said Phoenix with as little humour as possible. "Actually I just like the city in the morning. It's weirdly peaceful. When you see it at sunrise it seems like a completely different world - I couldn't imagine anyone committing a crime when the universe is this quiet."

It was very quiet, even inside the supermarket itself. There was probably only a single employee on duty, and there was something about Edgeworth that seemed to silence the world around him. As if his own quietness could block out the rest of the world.

"Personally, I never liked dawn," said Miles. "But I know what you mean. It is a different place."

They finished their shopping in tandem, freely mocking each other's product choices, and Miles swatting Phoenix with a newspaper when Wright attempted to lean on the hood of his sports car.

"Your trial's finishing tomorrow, correct?' asked Edgeworth, resting on his open car door.

"It should, yeah," said Phoenix, "Unless something explodes again, and with the witnesses we have I wouldn't be surprised."

Edgeworth rolled his eyes. "Make sure it doesn't, because I'll be coming to watch."

"Oh?' said Phoenix, easing into a cheeky grin. "And do what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I'm not there for you, egoist," said Miles. "I'll be reviewing the Paynes."

"Even better," said Phoenix, leaning on the other side of the door to face Miles. "I'll be sure to keep them on their toes for you."

Miles gave Phoenix one of his signature haughty smiles and said simply, "I'm sure you will," before the two men parted ways, and Phoenix began the bright ride home to Trucy.

 


 

"I hereby find the defendant not guilty."

Phoenix watched in triumph as his client burst into joyful tears, pulling both of his junior associates into a bear hug. But he was more interested in the proceedings on the other side of the courtroom, with Miles Edgeworth peering over the railing of the seats above the prosecution's bench and flipping through a pad of substantial notes that Phoenix had watched him take throughout the course of the trial. From the looks of the Chief Prosecutor's expression, Gaspen Payne was about to end up with a salary lower than Dick Gumshoe's back when he was a detective.

Phoenix watched as Edgeworth told the two prosecutors to meet him after the trial, missing his own team move into the Defendant Lobby. As Miles made to leave the courtroom, he looked up for a moment and met Phoenix's eyes. Phoenix felt as if he should do something, give a wave or a thumbs up or something, but all his ideas felt awkward, inappropriate. But Miles didn't seem to mind, holding Phoenix's gaze until the moment passed.

 


 

"Morning, Wright."

"Hey Edgeworth, what's up?" Phoenix said into the phone.

"You were the one who represented Manny Charles on her original murder charge, correct?'

"Yeah, I was," said Phoenix. "She's on trial for the kidnapping right now, isn't she?"

"Yes, I was actually calling about that case." Edgeworth's voice was slightly slower than usual, and Phoenix realised he probably hadn't been getting much sleep lately. "Do you still have the files from her original case."

"Yeah, sure do," said Phoenix. "You need them?'

"I need everything I can get," said Miles after a small sigh. "Gavin was supposed to be taking this case, but he's out with the flu and I had to step in. Can you believe every other prosecutor in the city was unavailable?"

Phoenix gave a weak laugh. "You really can't catch a break, can you?"

Edgeworth just groaned.

"I can get the files to you in about an hour," said Phoenix.

"Thank you," said Miles. "Honestly, this is the first thing that's gone right all week."

"Until I get there, try and get some rest," said Phoenix.

"Wright-"

"I know you don't sleep well at the best of times, but try not to exert yourself," said Phoenix, already moving to his filing cabinet. "You know you're just going to end up snapping at someone or making a mistake, and then you'll just feel worse."

There was a pause.

"Thank you."

"I'll be there soon as I can," said Phoenix. "See you, Edgeworth."

"Bye, Wright."

Traffic was terrible, and even with the extra manoeuvrability his bike offered him, Phoenix ended up at the Prosecutors' Office just over an hour later. It was odd, he realised, as he made his way through the labyrinthine corridors instinctively, that he should know this place so well. That he could smile at several of the people who came across, knowing them to be trustworthy colleagues in the search for justice. It had been a long road from the likes of Von Karma to the state of affairs today…

"Enter," came the exhausted command when Phoenix knocked on Edgeworth's door.

"I'm here to save the day!" announced Phoenix and Miles didn't even try to hide his sigh of relief.

"Thank goodness," said Miles, rising from his desk to meet Phoenix by the door.

"Case that complicated?" asked Phoenix.

"You have no idea," said Miles, folding his arms. "I told the detective in charge of the case to bring me all of the relevant information and not only does he take three days to do it, he doesn't even bring the evidence relating to the murder! How are we supposed to know everything about the kidnapping if we don't know how the victim was murdered in custody!" Miles threw his hands in the air before folding them across his chest. "Don't get me wrong, I am so glad to have the dark age of the law behind us, but the amount of rookie personnel we have as a result of booting most of the veterans is really making everything much harder than it needs to be."

"Well, this case at least just got a lot easier for you," grinned Phoenix, handing over Ms Charles' folder.

As Miles moved to take the files, his hands brushed Phoenix's just momentarily. A completely normal event, but Phoenix couldn't help but think it had lasted a little longer than it probably should have. Or, at least, he hoped it had. 

"See, this even has the spare key in it," said Miles, waving a photo in front of Phoenix. "Who looks at a case about a man being locked in his own bedroom for a week and thinks that the keys to the room aren't relevant?"

"Wait, if this was Klavier's case, why wasn't Ema the lead detective?' asked Phoenix, walking with Miles to take a seat on one of his lounges.

"Oh, she recently received a scholarship to a forensic course in Canada," said Miles. "It doesn't take long, and I'm sure she'll be able to pass the forensic exam with ease after completing it, but she'll be away for about a month and a half."

"Good," said Phoenix, "she deserves it."

"Mmm,' said Miles. "I don't know what fool failed her to begin with - I've never met someone so eager to analyse the chemical decomposition of a cadaver before."

Phoenix laughed and leant back, watching as Miles slowly rifled through the folder he'd brought. He thought he'd stay a little while longer, help Miles with any details he needed from the first State v Charles case, before maybe finding something for lunch on the ride home. He ended up chatting with Miles for longer than he intended, the two of them discussing Manny's potential for being the kidnapping culprit well through noon and into the early afternoon.

"It's not like she's entirely innocent," said Phoenix part way through a particularly heated bout of debate. "But you have to admit, she can't be the sole culprit either. Victor Timothy was receiving house calls from two different doctors - how did she prevent them from finding out?"

"She was nominated as his primary caretaker-"

"They were doctors! Surely they take precedent over her."

"She lived in the house, too, the doctors couldn't just barge in if she stopped them," said Miles, and Phoenix noticed that his usually pallid complexion was growing red from the argument.

"But she must have told them something," said Phoenix. "And what could be enough to keep an allegedly-dying man from his doctors without raising enough suspicion to warrant the police showing up?"

"You're forgetting that Ms Charles-"

Edgeworth's argument was cut off by a buzz at his desk from his secretary's intercom.

"Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth?" came the familiar voice as Miles pressed the button. "You told me to remind you to go eat if you skipped lunch, and it's 1:30, so… Go eat?"

Miles paused before answering, but as he was facing his desk, Phoenix could not see his face or the reason for his hesitation. "Thank you Hannah," was all Edgeworth managed in the end.

"Do you wanna go get lunch, then?" said Phoenix immediately. "I don't have much on me but we could go get noodles or something."

Miles hesitated again, but Phoenix was glad to see him turn around before replying.

"Sure."

They took a walk to a noodle stand that was, according to Gumshoe, the best in the city, keeping up their debate the whole way.

"Sure, this has less salt than Eldoon's, but I wouldn't call it the best," said Phoenix, as the two sat on a nearby park bench to eat. "This guy skimps on the chicken."

"And Eldoon doesn't?' asked Miles.

Phoenix paused for a second. "Alright, so I have a favourite. If I'm going to be petty and stubborn about something, it may as well be something as unimportant as noodles."

Miles gave a small laugh, little more than a hum, and Phoenix burst into a grin.

"At least you're not as bad as Maya with burgers," said Edgeworth, and Phoenix groaned.

"For a girl who lives several hours from a decent burger place, you'd think she'd have lower standards," he said.

"Speaking of Maya," said Edgeworth. "I haven't seen her in a while. Do you know when she's next coming down to the city?"

Phoenix shrugged, and sloshed some broth onto his pants. "I dunno," he said. "But now that she's the master she's got a lot less spare time, so it might not be for a while.

"It seems we've all got new responsibilities nowadays," said Miles, keeping his eyes on his noodles.

"Yeah," said Phoenix. "Things are all sorts of different now."

Miles looked up from his bowl to meet Phoenix's eye, and Phoenix smiled in reply. It didn't take very long for Edgeworth to join in.

 


 

"Franziska will be visiting next week."

"Oh really? Wow, I haven't seen her since the last time I was helping you in Europe!"

"Would you like to join us for dinner? I am quite keen to see her face once she realises that you do in fact have a job again."

If it had been anyone else but Phoenix, Miles wouldn't have expected him to see the request as a genuine one. But Phoenix knew him, perhaps better than Miles was comfortable admitting, and so it was with complete sincerity that Phoenix greeted them at one of Miles' favourite French restaurants next Friday night.

Phoenix and Franziska weren't friends, per se, Franziska didn't really go in for anything beyond "useful acquaintance", but working together on a few cases had done a surprising amount of good for their relationship. She was quite interested in hearing Phoenix's account of the fall of the Dark Age of the Law, despite having already heard the bulk of events from Miles. It was strangely soothing, Edgeworth thought, to see two people who had once hated each other have such an animated conversation about a shared passion. Stranger still to think he'd once counted the both of them as opponents.

Franziska had definitely mellowed, though you wouldn't be able to tell it from her appearance. But while her new haircut may be shorter and more dramatic than before, she spoke of her new job at Interpol with a genuine enthusiasm Miles had never seen before. Though the most pertinent sign of change, he thought, was that she'd left the whip at home.

They weren't even halfway into the meal by the time Wright had secured Franziska's services in aiding him in one of his upcoming cases. Some vacation, especially considering she'd already promised to help Edgeworth with a case of his own. Still, this was their life, he thought. It had always been their life. It wasn't that they were incomplete without the legal system, rather that it was the ideal outlet for everything they were. The same, it seemed, was true for Wright as well. Even though he'd spoken to Phoenix about his first major as a Shakespearean actor, Miles just couldn't see his rival as anything other than a defence lawyer. Certainly, he couldn't see the legal system without Wright. Or himself, now that he thought about it.

He refused to let Phoenix take a taxi home, opting instead to drop him off on his way back to his own apartment, where Franziska would be staying for the next week.

It wasn't until late that night, as Miles lay in bed pretending to sleep, that he realised that it might just be a big deal that he'd been able to farewell Phoenix Wright with a simple "See you later". Even bigger still that he knew with certainty that he would indeed see Phoenix soon, without need for joint case or upcoming appointment. He wondered for a moment if Franziska had noticed, and then realised with a start that he didn't care whether she had or not.

 


 

Phoenix was in the audience for the verdict of Edgeworth's next case, the one Franziska had been helping him on. As he wasn't actually standing in court, Phoenix had opted to forgo the full three-piece suit, wearing instead his waistcoat and tie on their own, with his sleeves rolled up like some scruffy kid forced into his Sunday best. Maybe Miles would have faltered, stopped to stare, had it happened just a few months ago, but now there was something perfectly normal, almost relaxing, about sharing a small smile with Phoenix Wright while in the midst of a trial that should not involve him at all. It could have been frightening, even, had it not been so simple to quietly return his gaze to Phoenix throughout the trial, sometimes to share a knowing look, or else to simply appreciate his friend's presence. And his forearms, which were proving quite hard to take his eyes off.

They met in the Prosecution Lobby along with Franziska, Phoenix leaning against the wall as Franziska reminded them that it was her contributions that truly made the accurate verdict possible. As she ranted on about the foolishness of the judge for overlooking the importance of the failed previous murder attempts, Miles and Phoenix shared a quick glance. Not really mocking Franziska, but not exactly being kind to her, either, they shared tiny twin smiles in the instant before her gaze returned to their faces. But even as Phoenix turned to reply to Franziska, Miles found his eyes lingering on Phoenix for a little longer than they probably should have.

 


 

The earthquake was barely strong enough to rattle the dishes stacked by Phoenix's sink, yet his first instinct was to call Miles. It took a couple of seconds for him to answer, and in those moments Phoenix couldn't help but run through every single thing that could have gone wrong. Perhaps he had called too soon, and Miles was still unresponsive. Perhaps he had called too late and Miles was inconsolable. Perhaps Miles had hurt himself somehow in his panic attack, hitting his head in a fall or-

"Miles Edgeworth speaking."

Phoenix breathed a sigh of relief, and could practically hear Miles bristle with indignation on the other end of the line. He braced himself for the inevitable snap of how Miles was a grown man, capable of taking care of himself, thank you very much, Wright, but it never came.

"Just, y'know, making sure you're alright." It sounded ridiculous even to Phoenix himself, but he couldn't bring himself to mention the earthquake before Edgeworth did.

"I am… unharmed." It was impressive, Phoenix noticed, how well Edgeworth had managed to steady himself when answering the phone, considering how shaky his voice was now.

"Are you sure?" asked Phoenix, too fast to let himself regret it.

"Hmph." Without a facial expression to match it to, Phoenix had no idea what that sound could mean. "You needn't concern yourself, Wright. I assure you, nothing of consequence occurred."

"Nothing… of consequence?"

"If you must know," huffed Edgeworth, "I dropped my bowl of pasta. That's it."

So relieved was Phoenix that he couldn't help but laugh, and to his utter astonishment, Miles joined in.

"I must admit, saying it aloud does make me seem like a bit of a child, doesn't it?"

"No, no, pasta is important!" said Phoenix through his laughter. "Why don't you come over and I'll make you some pasta to replace what you dropped?"

"Don't be ridiculous," said Miles. "I can make more."

"I haven't seen you in ages though!" said Phoenix. It had been about a week since their last meeting, although that had been little more than a quick hello in the corridors of the courthouse. "And it's been so long since Trucy's seen you, too."

"Alright, alright, Phoenix," said Miles, and it was clear from his tone that he was smiling. "I'll see you soon."

With the help of Trucy, Phoenix set about making masses of carbonara, filling their small apartment with the smell of cream.  He didn't even both leaving the kitchen when Miles arrived, opting instead to call out a greeting and let Trucy tackle him in the hallway, distracting him with her latest magic tricks as Phoenix finished the dish. Letting Miles and Trucy claim the two barstools, Phoenix chose instead to sit between them, up on the bench, as the three made their way through more food than any of them needed. Trucy kept them occupied with her explanation of everything from the choice of her latest venue to  the projects she was working on for school, and while Phoenix was always eager to talk with his daughter, he couldn't help but to constantly return his gaze to Miles.

He was sickly pale, but that was nothing new, and while there were still signs of bags under his eyes, they certainly weren't the worst that they had been. Miles actually looked surprisingly good - very good - with those bright grey eyes and strong cheekbones, and the figure beneath the maroon sweater vest was no longer as bony as it had been so many years before. His glasses had slipped down to the end of his nose, and Phoenix was gripped with the sudden desire to lean down and fix them, restoring Edgeworth to his usual faultless order. But at the same time, Phoenix liked him like this, with his glasses askew and his hair falling soft and careless across his face, watching with genuine interest as Trucy discussed the pros and cons of working with live animals.

Miles helped Phoenix wash up as Trucy stayed at the counter, somehow roping Miles into helping her with her history homework. It was oddly relaxing, Phoenix found, to scrub plates as Miles showed off his impressive understanding of 19th Century presidents. Better still to have Miles squashed up next to him as he did so, their hands brushing together and arms gently resting against each other.

By the time Trucy released Miles from his indentured pedagogy, he certainly didn't look as if he'd been on the verge of a panic attack just a few hours ago. As Phoenix walked him down to the lobby, he could help but lean close and smile.

"If you have any troubles, or you don't feel well…" he started.

"I'll call you," said Miles quickly, and Phoenix's chest pounded.

"Any time," he said, holding onto Miles' upper arm. "Whenever you want."

Phoenix hadn't expected "any time" to mean later that night, but with the ground continuing to tremble a couple of hours later, it wasn't all that surprising  for him to roll over in bed and be greeted with a buzzing mobile.

"Nightmares," was all Miles said once Phoenix picked up.

"How can I help?" asked Phoenix, moving to sit up properly.

"I- I don't know," said Miles. "This was… Ah…" Phoenix listened as Miles steadied himself with exaggerated breaths.

"Don't worry," said Phoenix. "I'll stay on the line as long as you need."

"This is so childish," Miles muttered, and Phoenix had to wonder if he was meant to hear that. He considered waiting a moment for Miles to start the conversation on his own terms, and then realised that he probably wouldn't get another chance to broach this subject for a long time, if ever.

"I don't think it is," he said. "I reckon it's one of the most serious things you've had to deal with."

Miles hesitated before replying. "I still hate it."

At this Phoenix chuckled. "Well obviously," he said. "But you don't have to hate yourself for going through it."

More silence. From the deep, uneven breathing on the other end of the line, Phoenix realised Miles was still quite shaken from his dreams. Maybe it had been too soon to dive straight into the heavy stuff, he could've at least tried to calm him down first…

"Miles? You still there?"

"Yes," came the immediate reply. "I… thank you."

"I'm not done yet," said Phoenix. "You're still upset, so don't you dare hang up."

"Hmph," said Edgeworth. "Here comes the saviour complex again."

"You'd better believe it," said Phoenix. "So, tell me what happened."

"What is there to tell?" asked Miles, his voice tight. "I went to sleep, there were tremors, and my subconscious responded by bringing the most prominent memories regarding earthquakes to the fore of my mind. I woke up screaming and then called you. The end."

Phoenix felt his chest begin to constrict and had to pause a moment before continuing. "Thanks for calling me. I wouldn't want you to have to deal with this on your own."

"I've done it before," said Edgeworth.

"That doesn't mean you should do it again," said Phoenix. "Wait… did you say you responded to the earthquake by reliving the memory?"

Miles sighed in exasperation. "Yes, Wright, as I always do in the presence of seismic activity."

"So it was a genuine memory, not the fabricated nightmares you had when you were younger."

There was silence.

"Those were different," said Miles eventually. "More abstract, and with more screaming. Every single night. They stopped, though, after Von Karma was arrested." Another pause. "Thank you for that, by the way."

"That's important, though," said Phoenix. "That they stopped. It means you can get over other things, too."

"I've had a morbid fear of earthquakes for nigh on twenty years," replied Miles. "It's not going to just  go away."

"I didn't mean that," said Phoenix. "I know that's something that could well be around forever. But, it could get better. And the nightmares seem more prone to management... There could be a way to stop interruptions to your sleep altogether."

"And how, exactly, would you propose I do that?" asked Miles, and Phoenix's heart ached with how tight his voice was. "Your bluffing really loses its charm outside the courtroom."

Phoenix took a moment to steady himself before replying. "Have you considered getting some help?" he asked. "Professional help, from someone who knows what they're talking about, not me in my bed at 1 am trying to stop anything from happening."

"Nothing is going to happen," replied Miles, now sounding more tired than bitter. "Nothing ever happens."

"I don't want…" Phoenix sighed. "I don't want this to be your life, Edgeworth. You deserve better than this. At the very least you deserve a good night's sleep."

"I appreciate the sentiment, but you're rather late. This is my life, and it has been for a long time."

"It's never too late for us," said Phoenix, hoping his smile would come through his voice. "You know the turnabout doesn't come until the last minute, when all hope seems lost. You've set up enough of them for me throughout the years, why not let me return the favour?"

Edgeworth was silent for a long time, only his (regular once more) breathing serving to let Phoenix know he was still there. And then, finally,

"Alright."

 


 

After Edgeworth's first appointment with a psychologist not too far from the Prosecutors' Office, Phoenix arrived to accompany him home. Had it been anyone but Phoenix, the action could easily have fallen under the pretence of giving Edgeworth a lift, but even the lack of any real reason to be there did not daunt Phoenix. Nor was Edgeworth even remotely surprised to find him waiting in the corridor.

"Feel like talking about it?" Phoenix asked as they made their way to Miles' car.

"What is there to say?" said Edgeworth, pausing for a moment. "Today was just the start of what is going to be a very long road."

"I know," said Phoenix, stopping as well and turning to face Edgeworth. "You're doing well, really."

For a moment Phoenix thought Edgeworth might just brush the compliment off, give a "hmph" and turn away, grabbing his arm,  but Miles didn't move.

"Thank you," he said, eventually.

"It's my pleasure," said Phoenix. "Honestly."

The two stayed still for a while, loitering on the footpath jammed between two office buildings, each wondering who would break the eye contact first.

"I'm famished," said Miles, quite suddenly. "Do you have to be anywhere right now? Or would you like to join me...?"

"Sure, I've got time," smiled Phoenix. "What do you wanna get?"

They settled on visiting a cluster of food trucks that had congregated in a park near the river. While Miles raised his eyebrows at the massive burrito Phoenix ordered, he made no comment as the two settled on a park bench overlooking the river, and the sun that was slowly setting behind it. The dying light, doubly strong as it shone from the sky and reflected off the water, brought the whole world into a strange palette of orange and purple.

"I think it was Apollo who suggested I come down here," said Phoenix, if only to break the slow silence that had settled between them. "And I have to say, it's better than I expected."

Miles hummed in agreement, keeping quiet until he finished his own meal.

The two kept their eyes to the sunset for the most part, but Miles couldn't help but be hyperaware of the presence of Phoenix sitting next to him. It was bizarrely easy to just sit like this, relaxing beside each other without saying a word and yet knowing in all certainty that they were here for each other. Turning his glance to Phoenix, Miles began to wonder if he'd ever been this close to another person, close enough to be secure in silence without it being a self-imposed defence, close enough to not feel wounded when help was suggested. A moment later, Phoenix met his gaze and smiled, not one of his confident, case-winning smiles, nor one of his sheepish grins, but a soft, sweet smile Miles was sure he'd never seen before. Yet, all the same, it seemed familiar somehow. Safe. Comforting. With such an expression turned to him, Miles couldn't quite manage to be insecure about his own smile as he returned the gesture, letting his face relax.

That very second, a chime burst from Edgeworth's pocket, and both he and Phoenix started, shocked out of the moment.

"It's from Trucy," Miles murmured.

"Is everything alright?" asked Phoenix, immediately closer to Miles, craning to see the phone.

"Yes, yes, she's just," Miles paused as another smile began to burst across his face, "just thanking me for helping her with her history homework. She aced her exam."

"That's fantastic!" Phoenix cried, leaning even closer onto Miles' shoulder. "She's been having trouble with history - says her textbooks have no sense of showmanship."

Miles gave a little laugh at that. "What, and I do?"

"Well…" said Phoenix with a sly grin, giving Miles' cravat a flick. "C'mon," he said, "We gotta show her how proud we are. Gimme that-"

He grabbed the phone off Miles and quickly opened up the camera. Impressive, Miles noted, for someone who still clung to his Nokia brick in 2028. Less impressive that he was in his mid-thirties and still roping Miles into taking a selfie to send his daughter, but something about his excitement and pride was contagious enough to send Miles relaxing into Phoenix's one-handed hug, managing a sincere smile for Trucy.

"Quick, how do you do smiley-faces on this thing?" asked Phoenix, and Edgeworth felt a sudden lurch to the gut which only served to make his smile bigger.

 


 

"Good morning, Ms Cykes, good luck in court today."

"Thanks, Prosecutor Edgeworth! Do you have a case today, too?"

"I'm afraid not, I'm simply observing this week."

Hearing Athena chat so comfortably with Edgeworth was somehow incredibly soothing to Phoenix's nerves. Even though it was simply greetings exchanged on the other side of the Defendant Lobby walls, it still made Phoenix feel at home in the courtroom in a way that had been slipping away from him lately. He really did need to get into court more often, instead of just dumping everything on his junior associates. All those years lost to disbarment weren't helping, either, and he every day he was reminded of just how much help he really needed.

"You did remember your evidence file today, right Nick?"

At least he would always have Maya. The majority of their conversations occurred over the phone nowadays, with the two of them both so busy leading their respective businesses-come-families, but today he was lucky enough that one of her infrequent visits had aligned with a relatively open-and-shut case for Phoenix.

"That was one time," he replied, giving her a nudge to the ribs. "And I distinctly remember it being covered in barbeque sauce when I finally found it again. Know anything about that?"

Maya shrugged. "If you don't want burger stains all over your apartment, you gotta stop being such an enabler! If you think about it, this addiction is entirely your fault." 

Phoenix rolled his eyes. "Right… Is this the kind of wheedling you use to get your customers to splurge on an "Ultra Deluxe Mega Summoning" instead of the usual ritual?"

Maya opened her hands and grinned. "I gotta pay for all those candles somehow! And it's not like you're paying me…"

"Hey, I'm hardly getting paid either!" Phoenix cried as the two made their way into the courtroom.

"I missed this bench," said Maya, running her hands along the wooden surface as Phoenix watched the audience file in.

"Yeah, you really tend to form a bond with something once you've hidden under it," Phoenix remarked, although he couldn't quite hide from Maya how distracted he was.

"What are you looking for?" asked Maya, poking her head through Phoenix's arm as he rested his hands on his hips. "Did you plant Trucy in the audience to ensure an applause?"

"She's at school, believe it or not-"

"I don't!"

"-And I'm not looking for anything," said Phoenix. "Just looking around."

"Right, right…" said Maya, turning away. "Whatever you say."

She was no fool, and Phoenix knew it, but all the same he couldn't help but keep a lookout. It had only been a throwaway comment  from a quick conversation in the courthouse hallways, but he'd said he'd be here…

Miles entered Courtroom No. 2 not a moment later, a Phoenix felt a grin climb across his face as they shared a second of eye contact.

"Just looking around, huh?" asked Maya, and Phoenix began mentally preparing himself for the badgering he'd inevitably receive after the trial.

As it turned out, however, court had been out for all of three minutes before Edgeworth himself caught up with the two.

"A pleasure to see you again, Miss Fey," he said as Maya greeted him with a cheery punch to the arm.

"Great to see you too," she said. "Really loving the old man chic you've got going on with those glasses."

Phoenix had to laugh as Miles fiddled with said glasses, clearly wondering if he had received a compliment or not - although there was a small smile on his face regardless.

"We can’t stay to chat too long," said Phoenix, "we have to go do some more investigating if we want to get through to this jury."

"Aw, c'mon Nick." Maya had a rather alarmingly wicked smile as she spoke. "The three-day trial limit is gone! We can spare a couple of minutes, especially for Edgeworth."

"If Wright here is going to display an admirable work ethic for once in his life, who are we to stop him?" asked Edgeworth, although his expression was clearly teasing.

"I'm sorry, who was it who had you acquitted of murder?" said Phoenix, mirroring Edgeworth's smirk and leaning closer.

"Oh, I cannot imagine having that kind of influence over someone's life," said Edgeworth. "If only I had done something s grand as, say, being the reason someone chose his career?"

They were standing quite close now, eyes locked under the pretence of their mock argument, and Phoenix found himself missing quite dearly the days when they could face off in court regularly. Of course, when they were in the courtroom Phoenix couldn't see him quite so up close, with Edgeworth's eyes bright with enthusiasm, and the faint wrinkles around them that came from reading too late at night and scowling at underachieving legal staff…

"I'll let you get on with it then," Edgeworth said eventually, his voice soft and low. "If I can be of any assistance, don't hesitate to ask."

"Alright," said Phoenix, finding his voice suddenly matching Edgeworth's.

As Miles moved off, Phoenix paused to cough, and found Maya standing in front of him, eyebrows raised.

"So how long has this been going on for?" she asked, placing a hand on her hips.

"Nothing is going on," said Phoenix.

"Somehow I find that hard to believe," she replied.

"You know what?" said Phoenix as he ran a hand through his hair, "So do I."

 


 

Night in the centre of the city was never calm, but in Edgeworth's apartment there was a certain kind of peace found in a pile of case files, a bottle of wine, and a very prissy Belgian Shepherd who demanded constant cuddling.

"That dog of yours sure is fussy."

Miles paused to butt Pess's nose away from the phone resting on the coffee table before replying.

"She's a rescue dog, be nice to her."

"Yeah, it definitely has to do with her early puppyhood struggles," said Phoenix through the phone. "Not with how much you spoil her."

"Forgive me for showing her the affection she deserves," replied Miles, burying his nose in black fur.

"Ah, so that's where all your emotions go," said Phoenix. "Here I was thinking you just bottled all that affection up and someday you were going to explode and start hugging everyone or something."

"Clearly you're learning so much from Ms Cykes' psychological demonstrations if this is what you come up with," said Miles.

"Oh yeah," replied Phoenix. "You should hear my analysis of Apollo."

Edgeworth chuckled. "I'm sure he'd love to hear his boss is making fun of him after hours."

"Well I make fun of him all day anyway, so it's not like he's be surprised," replied Phoenix, and Miles laughed again.

It was so easy, Miles thought, just to ring Phoenix up and let him go, to let him chatter on about nothing and everything for hours, the two of them smiling all the while. Indeed, they'd already been talking for ages and while Miles hadn't got much work done, he was definitely in a better mood than he had been all day. But there was a reason Miles had called, and it wasn't to chat.

"I have been thinking," Edgeworth said in a lull in the conversation.

"You tend to do that quite a lot," replied Phoenix.

"Finally, you've noticed," said Edgeworth, his dry voice eliciting a bright laugh from Phoenix. How Miles loved that sound. "But in all seriousness, I wanted to ask you out."

"Out where?" Phoenix asked, not skipping a beat.

Miles wondered if he should pause, hesitate, put more emphasis in his voice to give the situation the gravitas he'd always imagined it having. "Just to dinner," he said instead. "A nice place I went to with Prosecutor Skye - Lana - a long time ago. This weekend?"

"It's a date," said Phoenix, and from his voice it was clear he was grinning.

 


 

"You're going on a date?"

Phoenix considered saying he'd never expected it, that it was a great surprise, that he'd never thought Edgeworth of all people would have asked him out - but he didn't want to lie.

"Well, yeah," he said. "I mean, it's me and Edgeworth - what were you expecting?"

Apollo thought for a moment, and then shrugged.

"It's just weird imagining you with a life," he said eventually. "Considering you look like you live in the office."

And that was it.

Trucy helped him pick out a shirt and insisted on giving him a quick puff of glitter just to pump up his "dazzle factor" before shooing him out the door, no doubt seconds from calling Pearl to gossip all night. Not that he could blame her for being excited, after all, Trucy was probably second only to Pess in Miles' eyes. Perhaps Edgeworth had a weakness for the adorable and excitable, Phoenix thought as he made his way down to the lobby.

"Hey," he said, running to meet Miles at the front door.

"You didn't need to wait for me down here," said Edgeworth.

"I guess I was just eager," smiled Phoenix, and the two linked arms.

There was dinner, which was much like any other meal between Wright and Edgeworth - conversation rooted in teasing and talk of the law - and Phoenix had to admit it was a fantastic restaurant even if he couldn't afford to even pretend to want to pay for himself.

"It's a date," said Edgeworth, "so I'm paying."

"I guess that I means I'm paying next time, then," said Phoenix on instinct, and Miles simply rolled his eyes with a smile.

Upon exiting the restaurant, Miles casually reached for Phoenix's hand and asked, "Feel like going for a walk?"

They made their way through downtown, keeping their conversation going as they discussed everything from work to local politics to dog food and even Phoenix's apocalyptic dairy thoughts, hands held loosely between them all the while. It wasn't a particularly cold night but Phoenix insisted on buying them hot chocolates from a hole in the wall café all the same, bursting into laughter as the steam fogged up Edgeworth's glasses.

"I think I can see why you have a scheduled "tea break" instead of just drinking while you work," replied Phoenix, reaching up to wipe the mist off before his hand was batted away.

"You'll just smudge everything and I'll be twice as blind," explained Miles. He linked arms with Phoenix, grabbing his upper arm gently. "You'll have to guide me instead."

The steam faded quickly in the fresh night air, but the two remained linked as they made their way through a nearby park.

When Miles pulled up in front of Phoenix's apartment block a while later, it took several minutes for Phoenix to realise it was time for him to leave, so engrossed were the two in their conversation about Miles' ideas for possible future reforms for the legal system. A glance at the radio clock, however, sent Phoenix nearly leaping out of my seat.

"Damn, I better get inside before Trucy calls child services on me," he joked, slipping from his seat.

"Indeed - I highly doubt any of your associates would be willing to take your case," replied Edgeworth.

"But could I expect special treatment from the Chief Prosecutor?" Phoenix asked, leaning on the open car door.

"Good night, Phoenix," came the reply and Phoenix laughed.

"Night, Miles," he said, giving one last wave before heading inside.

 


 

Miles hadn't been too surprised when Phoenix suggested the two go to see the new Steel Samurai movie together, after all, despite Wright's teasing, it was clear he knew how much the warrior of Neo Olde Tokyo mattered to him. He was surprised, however, to see Phoenix waiting for him, wearing a franchise t-shirt.

"Don't you think that's a little morbid?" Edgeworth asked, once he realised the shirt was proudly displaying the logo for the short-lived Nickle Samurai series.

Phoenix grinned. "Maya thought it would be funny," he said. "Besides, these things are surprisingly rare nowadays, it's giving me heaps of nerd-cred."

Edgeworth simply rolled his eyes and took Phoenix's arm, beginning the short walk from Wright's apartment to the cinemas.

It wasn't exactly Edgeworth's ideal scene - far too many people (although a surprising majority were actually adults) all talking far too loudly - but it was still exciting to see new Steel Samurai material after the show's long hiatus. He wasn't a big fan of the Pink Princess's new costume - "It's the wrong shade of pink, far too salmon," he remarked to Phoenix - but he was eager to see the Iron Infant's redesign in action.

"Why is he still called the Iron Infant if he's like 12 in this movie?" asked Phoenix, loitering by a cardboard cut-out of the metallic heroes.

"There goes all your alleged "nerd-cred"," replied Miles. "He's capable of shrinking and growing at will - that's his weapon."

"They just couldn't think of a new name," said Phoenix, nudging Edgeworth.

"Alright, you come up with one then," said Edgeworth, nudging back.

Phoenix proceeded to do just that nonstop ("Iron Inuit doesn't make any sense, Wright, it's set in Tokyo") until the two took their seats.

The movie was good - not as good as the very first tv series, but then again, nothing was - but Miles found himself occasionally incapable of focusing. He kept glancing over at Phoenix, afraid his date wasn't having as much fun as himself. Phoenix certainly indulged this little obsession of Edgeworth's, but that didn't necessarily mean he would enjoy sitting through two hours of self-referential, lore-heavy action. He thought he was being subtle with his glances, but about halfway through the movie, Phoenix leant close to him.

"Are you alright?" Even in the dark of the theatre, Miles could see the concern in his eyes. "You seem agitated."

"Are you alright?" asked Edgeworth. "I want you to be having fun, too."

Phoenix's grin shone in the gloom. "Of course I'm having fun," he replied. "I just like spending time with you, Miles, and I like seeing you do things you enjoy."

The two stayed still for a moment, eyes locked, and Phoenix's hand came up to rest at the nape of Edgeworth's neck, playing carefully with the hair that tapered there. Miles closed his eyes and sighed, moving in to rest against Phoenix's shoulder.

"Thank you."

They spent the rest of the movie sitting like that, Phoenix's arm around his date and Miles feeling the beat of his heart. He didn't notice much of what was going on in Neo Olde Tokyo during the second half of the movie, but the smell of Phoenix's jacket and the light brush of his fingers seemed quite the worthwhile trade.

They took a walk after the credits had rolled and the crowd of fans had spilled out onto the street, the two of them not even bothering with the pretence of heading home. Walks seemed to be their activity of choice, Miles had noticed, and going walking with someone as unique as Phoenix Wright made for a good deal more entertainment than he'd expected.

"When I was a kid," Phoenix said as he and Miles watched an owl in a tree, "I always wanted to know where the birds went when it was raining."

"You never looked under some eaves or an awning?" Miles asked.

"I was pretty short," said Phoenix, and Miles gave a quick laugh. "I thought maybe they had some secret bunker, where they would meet and plot to overthrow the human race, just to gain access to our seed supplies."

"That was the first place your brain went," Miles said with a smile.

"Never considered another option."

"Good," said Edgeworth. "I'd hate to see that brain of yours wasted on something utilitarian."

"Yeah, that's your job," said Phoenix, yelping as Miles swatted him away.

If Phoenix preferred dawn, Miles preferred night. Not evening, not twilight, but the genuine dark of a tired city. Maybe it was the streetlights or the stars, or the feeling of time slowing down without the sun to track the hours, but Edgeworth felt most at ease when the moon was the brightest thing around. He found himself saying as much to Phoenix as they made their way towards Wright's apartment, and felt in reply the light touch of a hand against his own. Without a moment of hesitation he took it, barely even blinking in surprise as Phoenix lifted it to his mouth, leaving a light kiss across Miles' knuckles.

They'd stopped walking, just in front of the lobby doors.

"I really do love seeing you happy, Miles," Phoenix said, his thumb gently stroking the hand his lips had been on moments before.

Edgeworth stepped forward, enough for the two to be touching - not tight up against each other but still unmistakably close -  and brought his free hand around to circle Phoenix's waist.

"Well, it’s a good thing you make me so happy, then."

They moved together, closing the gap between them with gentle care and Phoenix keeping ahold of Miles' hand all the while. Phoenix's lips were warm, inviting, curled into a small smile as Miles brushed over them with his own, and then moving open slowly to invite Miles closer. He didn't need to ask twice.

The kiss was long and slow, quiet in the sweet night air, and Miles found himself pulling Phoenix back by the lips when he tried to break away. All he received for his trouble was a chuckle and an extra peck along his jawline.

"I have to get home," Phoenix murmured, although he wasn't moving from his spot under Miles' chin.

"Fine," said Miles, and leant into Phoenix's hair. "But you owe me."

Phoenix laughed again and the two met for a second time, but not for as long. Not that it bothered Miles, of course. There would always be next time.

 


 

Phoenix leant back, his head meeting wood and sweat cooling on his back. His heart probably hadn't gone this fast in years and he'd say it was detrimental to his health if he wasn't so completely happy.

"We've won!" Athena cried, grabbing Apollo and swinging him around, prompting a very undignified squawk from him.

And won they had - no small feat considering they were dealing with one of the most complex homicide cases the city had faced in years, and against the Chief Prosecutor, too.

Phoenix looked up from his reverie to meet Edgeworth's eyes across the courtroom. His rival's cheeks were still pink from the thrill of the chase, and Phoenix knew he was likely rather dishevelled himself. Edgeworth had put up a real fight, and the taunts thrown between the two were utterly brutal, but towards the end of the previous day in court it became clear that Wright's client was completely innocent and Edgeworth had changed tactics almost immediately. The real culprit ended up being apprehended while attempting to escape the courtroom, all thanks to the evidence that only the Chief Prosecutor had been able to gain access to in time. 

The WAA assembled in the Defendant Lobby to indulge in a good deal of hugging and complimenting each other. Apollo specifically received the brunt of the adulation, what with his incredible run across the city to get a vital piece of evidence to court on time. As Phoenix watched his junior associates wander off together, chatting, he wondered whether there was enough of a budget to give Apollo a raise. He'd find a way.

"Wright."

Phoenix looked up in delight to find Edgeworth approaching him down the hall. It hadn't been too long since their last date, indeed it hadn't actually been that long since their first date either - the weight of this trial had Phoenix's sense of time all messed up - but Phoenix missed him regardless. He moved to meet Edgeworth, holding his rival's arms with care and rubbing them lightly through the velvet of Miles' suit.

"Well done today," said Miles, his eyes soft behind his glasses.

"It was all thanks to you," replied Phoenix, leaning in to rest his head against Edgeworth's shoulder. He hadn't realised it what with all the excitement, but the ordeal of the trial had really left him exhausted.

"Whatever you say," said Miles, a smile catching in his voice.

Slowly, Edgeworth's hands came to circle Phoenix's waist, tentative and light. Remembering Miles' distaste for overly affectionate displays in public, Phoenix loosened their embrace a bit, leaning away from Miles' shoulder and into the hand behind him.

"How are you feeling?" he asked. "I know you had to do a lot of shouting down at the forensics department to get those test done."

"Ema was out in the field," Edgeworth replied, "I'll have her do some yelling on my behalf, and I'll be fine."

"How did this city ever function without us?" Phoenix asked, tucking some of Miles' hair behind an ear.

"It didn't, remember?" Edgeworth replied. "That's why we have such a massive workload."

"Oh, right," replied Phoenix. "Sorry, sometimes with how amazing you are I forget that things ever could have gone wrong."

"That was terrible," replied Edgeworth, but his hand was stroking Phoenix's back ever so softly. 

"Hmm, take me back to yours and I might be able to manage something better," replied Phoenix with a wink.

"Well… If you insist," said Miles, and Phoenix felt his heart whirr into overdrive once again.

It wasn't the first time Phoenix had been over to Edgeworth's apartment - what with how much the two relied on each other for cases, a few late night study sessions had been inevitable - but it was the first time he'd been there since the two had begun dating. He thought maybe it would be different somehow, a different atmosphere, a different plan of action, but Pess still bowled him over with the same enthusiasm as always, their coats still hung side by side on the same rack, and Edgeworth still set about making them tea the way he had done every time before.

"I think Mr Justice deserves a raise," Edgeworth said once they were seated on the couch, Pess draped over both their laps at once.

"I was just about to bring that up," said Phoenix, his legs tucked up on the couch.  

"Well, you know what they say about great minds," said Edgeworth, mostly to his teacup.

"That you have one and I don't?"

"Exactly - I must be rubbing off on you."

Phoenix had to give him a shove for that, although not hard enough to spill his tea.

"If you insist on worming your way into my mind," said Phoenix. "I insist on returning the favour. What cases can I help you with?"

Miles placed his now empty teacup on the table. "None, unfortunately. You just won the only one I had at the moment."

"What do you do all day, then?" asked Phoenix. "I have a herd of children to shepherd around-"

"-I'm pretty sure most of the time they are shepherding you," interjected Miles.

"-but what about you?"

Edgeworth shrugged. "There's always more paperwork to do, more prosecutors to watch over and corrupt employees to weed out. I'm afraid when I'm not facing off against you, my job is rather mundane."

"That's good, though," said Phoenix, giving Pess a scratch behind the ear. "You'd probably be worn down instantly if it was all crazy all the time."

Miles hummed in agreement and leant closer to Phoenix.

"Still," he said. "I do quite enjoy our more hectic cases."

"Oh?" said Phoenix with a smug grin.

"Yes," said Miles. "It's always amusing watching you pull some ridiculous theory from nowhere, and have the truth turn out to be even stranger." His hand moved from Pess's fur to rest instead on Phoenix's shoulder.

"Personally, I prefer the small cases," said Phoenix, moving ever closer until Miles' hair was tickling his nose. "Less chance of my heart exploding from stress-"

"-You old man," whispered Miles.

"And I get to come over here and debate with you." Phoenix brushed Miles's hair behind his ear - hair so feathery and beautiful he simply couldn't resist it - and pressed a kiss to the corner of Edgeworth's jaw. "Without worrying about whether a witness will assault me in the morning."

With both men far too preoccupied with each other to pay much attention to the dog, Pess slipped off their laps and trotted off to amuse herself elsewhere, as Miles' other hand came up to brush Phoenix's lips.

"Oh, but I do so like seeing you sweat on the other side of the courtroom," he said, and Phoenix was suddenly having difficulty focusing. "When I've got you cornered and you're trying to come up with some big turnabout to save the day." Miles shifted his legs so that they were up on the couch, half on Phoenix, and held Phoenix's face in his hands. "I wonder what would happen if one day you couldn't think of anything." His lips were a breath away from Phoenix's. "Would you still sweat for me?" Phoenix was pretty sure he'd stopped breathing, but he couldn't quite remember how to start again. "With those funny eyebrows of yours wrinkled and your breath coming hard and fast-"

Phoenix grabbed Edgeworth by the shoulders and waist, and pulled, the two landing on the couch with Miles draped over him, still holding Phoenix's face.

"My, my, Phoenix, what are you thinking about?" He nestled deeper into Phoenix's lap and nudged Phoenix's legs with his own. "You seem quite eager…"

Phoenix met his lips with enthusiasm, pulling Miles deeper into the kiss with both his mouth and his hands, which were now wrapped tightly around Miles' middle. Despite the intimacy of their position and the very forward way Miles had been teasing, though, the kiss was still light and rather tentative, and Phoenix remembered just how recently they'd started dating. He really should slow down, stop being so enthusiastic and letting his imagination get the better of him and think about Miles' wishes instead, even if everything from his hair to his hands to the lingering taste of tea on his lips were driving Phoenix to complete distraction.

And then Miles was gone, his mouth leaving Phoenix's. Startled and rather concerned, Phoenix was about to ask if Miles was alright, when his lips reappeared at the junction of Phoenix's neck and shoulder. So wrapped up had he been in enjoying the kiss and the sheer presence of Miles, that Phoenix hadn't even noticed as his rival had opened the top buttons of his shirt - not that he could ignore it now, what with the kisses gentle but firm being made all across his collarbone. Letting himself play with the hem of Miles' shirt, his fingers roaming across the flat plane of lower back, Phoenix relaxed into Miles' ministrations.

With the drowsy pace Miles was setting, Phoenix certainly wasn't expecting Miles to pinch a section of his throat between spent lips and suck hard enough to leave a mark all of a sudden. Not that he was complaining, but the shock was enough to send his mind blank for a moment and bring a low groan from his mouth before he knew what was happening. Miles laughed into his skin, and brought a hand up to stroke Phoenix's side.

"Having fun?" he asked, giving a peck to the spot he'd just clamped down on.

 "You sure know how to keep me on my toes," said Phoenix and Miles laughed, nuzzling into Phoenix's neck. Had Phoenix been the type to swoon, he probably would have lost consciousness right there and then thanks to the taste of Miles on his mouth, the fresh sound of laughter and the warmth that seemed to spread throughout his body. As it stood, however, he settled with nudging Miles towards his mouth with a finger and then running his hands through that beautiful, irresistible hair.

Maybe if it had been another time, another place, Phoenix would have continued worrying, wondering if Miles knew what he really wanted and whether he was comfortable. He would think of flight itineraries and abrupt escapes to Europe, of money woes and Trucy waiting alone at night, of everything Edgeworth had been through, unable to stop himself from worrying that he'd become just another person who hurt Miles Edgeworth. But here, on Miles' couch, with his successful legal team out celebrating with his nearly-adult daughter and Edgeworth secure in a job where he could do genuine good, there was nothing to think about but the feel of Miles' mouth as it roamed across his body. Not that Phoenix would have been able to focus on anything else had he had the inclination.

He supposed he could say that the moment was contained entirely within itself, that there was only the present without the taint of past or future, but that wasn't quite right. If it hadn't been for everything they'd been through and all they'd suffered, they never would have made it to that evening on the couch. And if they hadn't been through it together, well, they probably wouldn't have made it anywhere.

And as for the future…

"I love you," Miles said, his head resting in the crook of Phoenix's neck.

"I love you, too," said Phoenix, and their mouths met again.

...That was in no short supply.