"The marriage bed" had certain connotations.
Those connotations were intriguing, more than a little naughty, and terribly exciting. Of course, Phoenix Wright thought as he stretched and yawned his way into another morning, he and Miles Edgeworth weren't yet married. Despite having spent several weeks in their new home, they weren't even close to it. Perhaps that explained why they'd cuddled during chilly nights, kissed to end their days, and nothing more.
This was a perfectly normal state for two boyfriends to be in, or a weirdly affectionate one for two roommates. In no way, however, did it feel like what he'd pictured once he and the love of his life had moved in together. Both of them knew they'd made a fast decision with getting the condo. If they hadn't taken this very big step, then their romance would seem on track. But instead, Phoenix was locked out of the bathroom while the person who shared his bed each night took a shower, because Miles was very particular about being seen in anything skimpier than a five hundred dollar spa-quality robe.
"It's Edgeworth," Phoenix told the ceiling. Holding conversations with the building helped him think of something besides Miles' pale, bare flesh under the water. "He doesn't rush into things. And I won't rush him."
Except for how he rushed into kissing me on that balcony. Or throwing away his career here and going back to Europe. Or deciding to buy this place to begin with.
That was all fine. Just because Miles had been impulsive with buying a condo for the two of them certainly didn't mean that he owed Phoenix any other behavior. Of course... 'owed' and 'would be nice' were two very different concepts. As his conversation with the ceiling sputtered out, Phoenix looked morosely down the length of his body. The morning's typical lump greeted him under the covers.
With a sigh, he turned to his side and waited for Miles to finish in the shower. (Once it was available, he'd also... finish in the shower.)
At least it was a comfortable bed.
* * *
Apollo took a deep breath. "I have to prove that Sheila didn't poison the victim through her scalp, even though someone planted that bottle of poisoned dye. And I can do that if I can prove that the victim never colored her hair. She looked like a natural blonde. Maybe."
That part was fine. The next step was the one that was tripping up his brain.
"We're thinking that there must be some dirty pics on the boyfriend's camera," Athena said. "Super simple, right? We check to see if the carpet matched the drapes, and if it does why are you making that face at us, Boss?"
"We're idiots," Apollo muttered before Phoenix could respond. "If she went to that spa all the time—"
"Oh," Athena groaned. "You're totally right! That won't work. I bet she waxed."
"Stop." Phoenix ran a hand across his face. Just because this was the most salacious case the Agency had taken in, well, forever was no excuse for his junior attorneys' minds wandering so far afield. This was a case like any other, with process and evidence and motives. Nothing fundamental had changed just because the victim had collapsed on her way to a producer's orgy in the Hollywood Hills. With three A-listers in attendance. And a Grammy winner. And some man in a full-body latex suit. "I will ask Ema to have them run labs on the victim's hair. If there was poison on the scalp, the strands would hold onto some even after a shampooing."
He never thought he'd be grateful for the nitpicky process of choosing employee health insurance packages. Some had offered follicle tests for drug screenings. Phoenix had looked elsewhere, almost offended that they even considered his office as a potential den of ill repute. Of course, that was before his junior employees had planned on arguing a case with dirty selfies as their only evidence. Maybe he should reconsider those tests.
"That approach probably makes more sense," Apollo admitted.
"Pardon, Boss." Athena smiled sheepishly. "Guess we kinda had 'down and dirty' on the brain. Not that you can really blame us. Did you see the pictures of that guy in the bodysuit?"
"It's called a gimp suit." Apollo nodded, proud of whatever godforsaken research he'd conducted. "Apparently he's going to show up in it when he testifies, to really set the stage for our client's social circles. So we might get lucky with a heat wave. If he passes out on the stand, the trial's gotta go to a second day. Right?"
Athena frowned. "It's February."
"Oh my god," Phoenix whimpered as he covered his face again. "Why did we take this client? This is going to be our reputation. This is who we are as lawyers, now. Brazilian waxes and gimp suits."
"To be fair," Apollo said, "did we really have a great reputation before this case?" Phoenix looked at him with the measured, perfectly reasonable hint of a threat that comment deserved. "I. Uh. Sorry, Mr. Wright. I'll go talk to Ema about the follicle tests. Don't worry about calling her."
Perhaps he'd glowered a bit too intently, Phoenix thought as Apollo shouldered his bag and darted for the door. But really, his reputation wasn't that bad. Just because he'd been framed for seven measly years as a sign of all that was wrong with criminal defense attorneys was no reason to... Forget it. I can't even convince myself. Fine, gimp suits it is.
At the edge of his vision, he saw his other junior associate's expression and turned toward her. From the smirk Athena was giving him, she might have developed sudden psychic powers on top of her emotional assessments. He was all for hiring people with an insight into people's reactions, but outright mind-reading was a bit much. With a firm effort, Phoenix cleared any thoughts of latex bodysuits, or orgies, or even the very standard sex that he was not getting in his own house. "Can I help you with something else?"
She leaned in and smirked. "Okay, now that Polly's gone: we weren't the only ones with 'down and dirty' on the brain. Right?"
Jolted, Phoenix's eyes widened. Holy crap, she is psychic.
"I knew it! Your voice was all tense when we mentioned—"
"This is perfectly normal!" Phoenix said, even as he knew this was a conversation he absolutely should not be having with his subordinate. "We don't need to rush!"
"That's... wait. What?" Athena's confusion morphed into surprise, and a blush spread across her cheeks and nose. "Oh. Wow. I am super sorry. Es tut mir leid to über levels. That was really not the kind of tension I thought I was hearing. More of a 'congratulations, you strained something' sort of tension."
Well, this was just fantastic. "It's fine," Phoenix said, feeling a hundred times more humiliated than she looked. The romance between him and Miles had become a point of public discussion when they'd needed the group's collective effort to put them back together. Sex, at least, should stay private. When sex happened. If it ever did. "It's fine." Was that really his voice? He didn't need Athena's supercharged hearing to know that he had sounded nowhere near 'fine.'
"You haven't moved as fast as you want," Athena guessed. Speaking over his protests that it was none of her business, she continued, "Boss, you sound a lot more upset than I bet you even realize. I've heard how much you love him in your voice. It's really sweet. I'm jealous. But this? It's not sweet. It's a big problem that's getting bigger. You've gotta talk to him."
"Yeah," Phoenix grumbled. "I know." It was absolutely the right thing to do and he did not want to do it. Sex was supposed to be impulsive and fun, a geyser of sensation that caught them when it erupted. Instead, this felt like scheduling love in their day planners. Their first time together would have twenty efficient minutes blocked off before they left to meet with their financial advisor.
"I will talk to him," Phoenix repeated when Athena's hopeful expression became a bit too strained. "I will. Now please forget we ever had this conversation, and never mention a word of it to Trucy. Or anyone. Just keep your mind off my personal life and go research your gimp suits."
With a heroic struggle to control her expression, Athena nodded and saluted. "You've got it, Boss. I won't think about your gimp suit."
"What does my voice sound like right now, Athena?" Phoenix asked through gritted teeth.
"Like I should go," she said, and went.
* * *
They'd been nice days in many other ways. The household experimented with a new restaurant for takeout, and it had been a rousing success with plans for a return visit. The only neighbors Miles and Phoenix didn't like (loud, no sense of boundaries) listed their condo for sale. Trucy asked if she could go over to a girl's house from school, because now she was making friends in her classes.
Even what seemed like a negative somehow turned positive when Miles brought home files for a delicate case. They'd managed to avoid working at home for weeks, though of course it had to happen eventually. But Miles became rumpled and tired by the end of that long evening, and—adorably—kept acting like he wasn't. To Phoenix's amazement, he was actually allowed to dote on Miles a bit and then pry him away from his work. Miles let himself be led away from his desk, they kissed gentle and slow, and then they both got some much-needed sleep instead of arguing over the blurring of home and office.
This conversation, though, would not be fun. He was sure of it.
"Edgeworth, I need to ask you something."
Miles looked up from his drink. Concern tightened his expression. "What is it?"
This wouldn't be easy. Phoenix hadn't said that magic, terrible, 'we need to talk' phrase, but Miles already looked worried. All week, every word Phoenix had spoken earned ever more pointed looks from Athena. Now Phoenix's anxiety must have come through worse than ever, and so he and Miles had started off on the wrong foot. Even touching on the topic of their non-existent sex life could feel like pressuring Miles. That would turn into something even worse.
Even so, he still had to do it. With resolve, Phoenix took a seat near Miles: close enough to feel intimate, but not enough for physical contact. "It's about us." As fear flared in Miles' eyes, Phoenix amended, "I love where we are now, and I love you. It's about us past where we are now, though."
That lessened Miles' worry, but only slightly. He had to be too confused to feel at ease. "I know we rushed into this condominium purchase, and perhaps we should have waited. But I have to admit, although it might seem a logical next step, I'm not at a place to consider marriage. Not yet."
Marriage? Phoenix swallowed. "No. Uh. Me neither. I mean. We can have that talk some other day, but... no. Right. That's not what I meant."
"Very eloquent, Wright," Miles said cautiously.
"I wanted to know how you felt about...." Grimacing, Phoenix shook his head. He was hardly some casanova, but from the experiences he could claim, sex wasn't a negotiation. It didn't get discussed like they were at a conference table. How was anyone supposed to hold this conversation? "I'm just curious about when you think... I mean...." Whatever scant composure he'd mustered failed him completely. "We're sleeping together a lot for two guys who aren't sleeping together."
After a moment, confusion smoothed out around Miles' eyes and brows. His cheeks colored soon after. "Ah. I understand what you mean, now."
"Well?" Phoenix prompted in the following silence. It was hardly the gentlest of responses. He'd already whiffed this, clearly.
"Physical relations aren't something into which I enter lightly. You know that."
Phoenix couldn't help but interrupt Miles, despite the twinge of annoyance he got in return. He didn't want to ruin what they had, but he'd raised the point and Miles hadn't run. Phoenix also wanted to stop greeting each morning hard and aching. "Okay, but we've pretty much said we're it for each other, right? How much not-lightly can you get? We're in our house, Edgeworth. We wake up next to each other!"
From the way Miles' jaw had set, this was absolutely heading into worst case scenario land. Terrific. "I didn't realize you assumed immediate intimate access. That would have been nice to know beforehand."
"Well, yeah! I... no." Phoenix shook his head. "I don't think I have a right to anything, but who buys a bed together and then doesn't do anything with it?"
"We sleep in it," Miles said archly. "Beds are well suited for that."
"I want you." Phoenix stared at his own fingers where they rested on the table. It was easier than meeting Miles' eyes. "I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable, but you were the one who started everything by going all remora on my face."
"Uncomfortable," Miles said, and stood, "is an understatement."
Buying such an enormous condominium had a hidden downside. In the middle of a fight, it was all too easy to sulk in their own far-flung corners. When Trucy came home late, the tension sent her scampering to her room without a word from anyone. It hung thick like fog down every hallway. Eventually the clock ticked past any reasonable hour to go to sleep, even on a Friday. Though he'd prefer to stay in his couch-and-blanket nest and brood more in front of the television, Phoenix relented and headed for bed.
The sight of Miles' still form made him pause in the doorway. The man hadn't woken when Phoenix entered. This wasn't how the script went in Phoenix's mind. Miles was supposed to either say everything was all right, or launch into a royal snit and send Phoenix back to the couch in an effort to protect his ruffle-clad virtue.
For a good ten seconds Phoenix stood there, uncertain. They'd fought plenty of times, but this was their first real argument since moving in together. He didn't know what to do next. Whatever, he decided abruptly and pulled off his shirt. It was late, he was tired, and Miles was deep asleep. He pulled on his pajamas right there, rather than in the bathroom, and crawled into bed.
"We'll talk tomorrow," Miles informed him. His eyes didn't open, and his breathing never changed its pace.
You couldn't have let me assume you were really asleep? Phoenix thought, stared silently at the ceiling, and waited for oblivion to come. And waited, and waited.
* * *
"Hi," Trucy said when Phoenix walked into the kitchen, then focused on the plastic baggies she was arranging. "I'm heading out."
"Oh?" Phoenix asked, poured a cup of coffee from the pot she'd brewed, and reached for the cereal box on top of the fridge before he remembered that this new kitchen had ample room in its cabinets. Every box and appliance was put neatly away, like Miles preferred. It was annoying, sometimes.
"Uh huh." In neat succession, Trucy popped on the lid of her coffee thermos, grabbed the snack bags, and tucked everything in her backpack. "I'm going to run some new tricks past Apollo. I figure if I can get them past his eyes, then I'll be able to fool everyone. Also, I don't want to be here when you and Miles finish whatever argument you were having last night. So. Bye!"
Grimacing, Phoenix looked to where Miles was sitting with a cup of tea and the newspaper. Normally, Phoenix found it charming how Miles still read an actual newspaper, just like all of his other old-fashioned habits. On that morning, though, it was all too apparent that a newspaper could serve as an excellent shield. Miles flipped to the next page without meeting his eyes. Every movement was rigid.
"Like that," Trucy muttered, grabbed her pack, and hurried toward the front door.
So. They were doing the silent treatment, even though Miles had promised him they'd talk. Fine. Sure. Phoenix could do this. He wouldn't break. With determination, Phoenix poured milk on his cereal, returned it to the fridge, and took a seat opposite from Miles. He scooped, and he crunched, and he drank. Halfway through Phoenix's coffee and most of the way through his breakfast, Miles hadn't looked up from that damned paper and the remnants of his tea were growing cold.
"Fine," Phoenix relented, bolted down more of his drink, and sat the mug aside with a clatter. "I'll start. Last night... kind of went off the rails."
"To say the least." Miles didn't look up.
With a surge of annoyance, Phoenix pulled the paper from him. It fluttered to the floor like dead leaves. "Hey. Edgeworth. Look at me, all right? This is important. Even if you don't care how—"
That wasn't the brick wall Phoenix expected to face. The pain in Miles' eyes said that he'd done anything but dismiss the previous night. Phoenix's words died in his throat. "You were saying?" Miles eventually prompted in the silence. He was very still where he sat, and let the paper lie in a messy heap at his feet.
Phoenix finished his coffee before it went cold, and because he didn't trust his voice. It came out all rough and hesitant when he did speak. "I'm sorry. We needed to have that talk at some point, but it shouldn't have happened like that. I shouldn't have surprised you. Or made you feel like I was pressuring you."
"We should have had it before we moved in," Miles agreed, looking away. "If we'd been smart about things. But that hasn't been our priority in recent months." He leaned over and collected the paper, tidying it back into a neat stack, but left it folded and pushed off to one side. "And Wright... to whatever you were about to refer, I promise you that I do care."
Phoenix looked out the window. It was a dim morning, with clouds that would probably break up by midday. "I don't know what I'm supposed to say. I love you. I'd never want to hurt you. So if you say 'no,' it's a no. But I just..." He just didn't understand. Miles had been the one to make their relationship physical in the first place. A kiss was hardly equal to sex, but after that balcony confession it had certainly felt like Miles was attracted to him. Wanted him. They'd both gotten awkward over those nudes at the Getty.
There was only one explanation he could think of. Swallowing hard, Phoenix wished he hadn't already finished his drink. "Do you think we made a mistake moving in? Is that it?"
"What? No. Of course not. That is... unless it set up expectations. Which, going by your reaction last night, it must have." Miles began rubbing the thumb of one hand over the bones of the other wrist. It was a throwback to nervous gestures that Phoenix hadn't seen from him for a long time. "I'm sorry, but—"
"I love you," Phoenix said uncertainly, and with not a little fear.
"I love you, too," Miles immediately countered. "Please don't doubt that. It just takes me longer to be comfortable with physical relations. That's all."
Relaxing, Phoenix sat back and studied him. Miles Edgeworth looked shaky like he hadn't in a decade, but was still the man Phoenix knew. More, he was still the man who'd purchased this condominium and, caught up in their romance, agreed that he couldn't wait for a proper, sensible timeline to move into it with Phoenix. Most of all, he was a man who was telling the truth. No magatama was needed to see that.
Was that really it, then? Miles was just nervous? "All right," Phoenix said. "It's okay. I'm sorry I turned it it into a big deal. I made my problem into your problem. 'Longer' is all right. I was worried that we were facing a 'never' situation, and I just freaked out a little, I guess."
Miles smiled, though it was one of his older, smaller ones, and stood to put his teacup in the dishwasher. "Certainly not 'never.'" As if to prove his point, he stopped after one step and leaned down to kiss Phoenix. It started off soft and hesitant, a reminder that they were both still new to all the formal commitments they'd made. After a few seconds, the heat of all those long years of inadvertent foreplay flared. Phoenix deepened the kiss as warmth bloomed in his chest, then his belly. His hand trailed down Miles' neck, and one finger caught the top button of the fine silk pajama top that Miles still wore—
With a clatter of teacup against saucer, Miles jerked away. He bit his lower lip and said nothing.
Dammit, Phoenix thought, miserable. Had he pushed? If he said they could take their time but then he pushed, he was an asshole. Awful. Gross. But it had really felt like Miles was kissing back with just as much passion, and Phoenix just didn't know what to do with all of the information of the last five minutes. "Sorry," he mumbled, and wondered for one defeated moment the two of them really could work together, or if they'd rushed into something too big to handle. "It felt like you wanted that."
As soon as the words came out, he cringed. It sounded like testimony in an assault case. Terrible testimony, of the kind that a prosecutor could tear apart. The mere fact that he'd said it, thought it, felt it... Phoenix's stomach burned, sick. They'd just said that Miles needed longer, and then the second he'd felt even a bit of heat from the other man—
"Stop, Wright," Miles said, but it was gentle. He laid feather-gentle fingertips against Phoenix's cheek, and whatever miserable expression Phoenix was making fell away. "You weren't wrong to respond to that kiss. I felt... excitement. You weren't imagining things." Hesitating, he put the saucer and teacup in the sink, then returned to the table. He knelt next to Phoenix and rested his hands on Phoenix's knee. "I didn't pull back because of you. Everything that you were doing was in response to a movement that I'd made. You were more cautious than you're giving yourself credit for, and I appreciate that. It was me."
By that point, Phoenix had accepted that he would say nothing correct that morning, and stayed silent.
"Losing control unnerves me. Sexual relations involve a complete loss of control. I love you, Phoenix Wright. Please don't doubt that."
Mute, Phoenix shook his head to say that no, he never would. To think, only two months ago he'd never touched Miles Edgeworth as more than a friend, and now the man was open and honest before him with a declaration of love. Whatever the difficulty was, they could tackle it together. They always did.
"I will want to be with you," Miles continued, emphasizing his words in a way that sent fresh heat running through Phoenix. In Miles' low, cultured voice that usually talked of legal decisions and cultured living, it sounded positively filthy. "And I trust you. It will just take me a while to trust every sensation that comes along with that, and not reject them midway through. When we... connect like that, after so long, I want it to be perfect. From the very first time."
'Perfect' and 'first time' didn't really go together, but still, that was a lot more information than Phoenix had the night before. They could work with this. "All right," Phoenix said, and squeezed Miles' hands. "Then you set the pace. I'll respond, and if you need to stop, I'll understand. But unless you start something, I won't. Okay?"
"Thank you," Miles said, and kissed him again. After that he pulled back, frowning. "Why are you smiling? Like something's funny?"
"That was a great first fight for our new place. It lasted a whole night but then we fixed it as soon as we tried. See? A first time, and it was perfect." Phoenix grinned. "Pretty encouraging, I think."
"And I think," Miles said dryly, "that we're more experienced with arguing than with anything else. Well, then. I still need to work on those case files before Monday."
"Sure. Of course." Phoenix nodded toward the niche Miles had converted into his office. It was a small but beautiful space, with a broad window that faced the hills. Not that Miles bothered to look up from his work, of course. The man was utterly single-minded with a task in front of him. "And you're right. We're pretty good at arguing."
The younger, uncertain Miles fell away. It was the modern, more grounded man who smirked and nodded at Phoenix, and brushed his shoulder as he moved to leave.
After a moment of thought, Phoenix reached for another cup of coffee. He wasn't going to push, and that meant he wouldn't share the thought that had just risen. He would respect Miles' boundaries, but in return, Miles could hardly expect him to shut down his imagination entirely. Yes, it was true: they were much better at arguing than nearly anything else. They'd practiced arguing an awful lot.
Phoenix smirked into the steam rolling off his fresh drink. That probably just means that we should start practicing other things, too.
In the first few days, waiting was rather like a game. Phoenix felt like a dog tensing with excitement every time its owner's hand came near the food bin. When Miles leaned over him to adjust the alarm, his heart sped. Foolishly, he wondered whether Miles' morning shower might come with an invitation. After Trucy turned in early one night, even television became exciting as Phoenix imagined that leaning against Miles would morph into enthusiastic, awkwardly clothed dry humping.
It was soon apparent that his imagination's timeline was far too optimistic. No, Phoenix corrected. "Optimistic" was wrong, because that implied that it would be good if Miles was ready... but bad if he wasn't. His thoughts adjusted: a timeline of just a few days was too swift. "Swift" was a word without judgment. And Phoenix would wait, like he'd promised. He'd wait without complaint.
His blood had still warmed, though, and excitement like that was difficult to tamp down again. There were a lot of morning showers that lasted longer than necessary for just washing his hair. Worse, more Agency cases had developed out of that producer's party in the Hollywood Hills. After Apollo and Athena had gotten their first client freed (despite the compelling testimony from the man in a gimp suit), his two junior associates had all sorts of newly indecent evidence to discuss. Every time Phoenix went to work, there were more naughty pictures up on the office's huge monitor.
It was Hollywood. Every person was beautiful.
After about a week of that futile excitement, Phoenix stopped feeling like some terrible second puberty had him in its thrall. Miles' hand lingering on his shoulder still sped his pulse, but Phoenix didn't lose control like a flash flood of teenaged hormones were rushing through his veins. After two weeks, impatience gripped him again, despite his best efforts. He tried not to let it show and mostly succeeded. After three weeks, whether out of resignation or boredom, he stopped keeping a tally of the days spent waiting.
* * *
"Good morning," Miles said, considered the perfection of his outfit one last time, and ignored his briefcase to walk over to the bed.
Phoenix ducked away when Miles leaned to give him a quick farewell peck, so his partner ended up kissing him on the forehead rather than the mouth. "Morning breath. I want you making it to the office alive."
"Appreciated," Miles said, and stood again. Phoenix didn't mind offering that courtesy. Miles Edgeworth didn't do well with overlooking messy biological... anything. "It's an early morning, obviously, but I should be home on time tonight."
A question seemed to lurk there, and understandably so. When one of their Mondays was busy, they'd learned that the rest of the week tended to get sucked away from their home life, too. "I'll be home," Phoenix confirmed. "I'm doing the case research so Apollo and Athena can focus on the courtroom and field investigations." Maybe it made him an old man to happily turn over cold, wet winter field work to his twenty-something employees. Fine. He'd be old, then. Phoenix liked keeping his socks dry.
"You're choosing to do reference work on previous cases? On purpose?" Adjusted for his dry demeanor, Miles sounded downright delighted. "I knew I'd be a positive influence on you, Phoenix Wright."
"Thank you for the big fancy database subscription," Phoenix dutifully said, though he knew Miles hadn't been fishing for gratitude. "Best present ever. Go, run your meeting, be the boss."
A few hours after that, Phoenix began to doubt the cleverness of his 'stay at the office and research' plan.
Over the phone, Athena said, "Okay, it's a folder called something like 'Party Files' or 'Party Pics'—"
"Party Album?" Phoenix guessed, and opened the directory on their office computer. A long list of files, unsorted and still using their default naming scheme, unfolded before him. He needed some practice at being the mature, intuitive Office Research Man. These should have been renamed from those random number strings. "What am I looking for?"
"The latest body in the morgue has a tattoo. Distinctive enough that I don't want to give it away, because if you see it in any of those party shots, it's definitely our guy. Check for a white male, about thirty-five. Shaved head."
Frowning, Phoenix started clicking through the pictures' previews. The producer from the Hollywood Hills liked to take plenty of security images when events were in full swing. It was intended as insurance against his belongings wandering off with guests, but after the bloody party that had resulted in so many trials and reprisal murders, the cameras had been put to even more important uses. With each new suit that was filed, a different picture from the pile proved useful to either the defense or prosecution. "Where am I looking for it on him?"
"Um," Athena said delicately, just as Phoenix found what had to be the tattoo in question.
With a deep, long-suffering sigh, Phoenix adjusted his grip on the phone and tried to look at the picture without actually looking at it. "Male. Mid thirties. Shaved head, and shaved... everywhere else. Tattooed with what looks like a red lipstick mark... um... down on his... please tell me this is what you needed."
"That is exactly what we needed. You can close the picture now, Boss."
"Thank god," Phoenix muttered, but had to look at the monitor again to close out the security image of that naked man who looked very excited to be there. "Why?" he added plaintively.
"I really am sorry," Athena said, "but that proves he was at the party. That means that someone else besides our client could have—"
"No, no." Phoenix tried to put the image out of his head, and mostly succeeded. He still ended up crossing his legs. "I'm just thinking of tattoos. And needles. And pain. And wondering why."
"Oh. On the bright side," Athena ventured after a second, "he's not feeling anything, now? Since he's in the morgue and everything?" A beat. "I probably should have let Apollo handle this call so you could cringe in manly agony together."
With effort, Phoenix shook off his discomfort. "I'm fine, Athena. And I'm glad to hear that this'll help our client. You think you can build a case for the real killer and get our guy off the hook?"
"Now that we know the victim was also there that night, I'm positive we can. And hey! Want to know something else great?"
"You just stared at a guy's junk and your voice isn't anything like I heard before! Congrats on the whatever-you're-doing. It's working!"
Sighing, Phoenix tried not to picture the thumbs-up she was surely giving him. "I'm going to hang up, now."
He squinted at the phone as he hung up. Huh. Japanese. She must be getting bored with randomly sprinkling European languages into office discussions. The past week had been mostly French. Athena was wrong, anyway; his voice had to be filled with tension. No one could look at that much needle work on very sensitive skin and not have his voice choke with stress.
Granted, she was excellent at picking out subtle shadings of emotions. Despite being ready to take the next physical step, the confidence that it would happen had him in an entirely different mental state from when he thought he needed to make it happen. He didn't want to wait forever, and would eventually talk to Miles again, but this wasn't impatience, any more. It was just waiting.
Texts buzzed his phone and Phoenix, cringing, turned back to it. What painful photographs would he need to look at now? When he saw Miles' name rather than Athena's, his concern vanished. "I told Trucy that she could stay over at a friend's," Phoenix recited from the screen. "I hope that's all right. She called here because your office has an active investigation. I've gotten reservations at Thompson's, and will pick you up a little after five."
With a warm smile, Phoenix held his phone up to his ear rather than typing out a reply. "Hi. It's me. Of course it's fine that you told Trucy she could stay over with her friend. But Thompson's? Really?"
"You do still like it?" Miles asked, sounding concerned. Thompson's was a small bistro near their home, and was another restaurant they'd tried from their new neighborhood. Its menu was somehow simultaneously run-of-the-mill and odd, as they favored adding strange ingredients into classic dishes. Trucy hated it, but for whatever reason, Phoenix loved the place.
"I do," Phoenix confirmed, "but you don't." Miles didn't hate every dish on the menu, not like Trucy. But he wasn't a fan, either.
"They cook porterhouse well, and I'm in a mood for it." Lies. Blatant lies. It would sound believable to someone else, but Phoenix knew perfectly well that Miles didn't gravitate toward steak. He'd have it without complaint if there was a restaurant where others wanted to go, though, and Phoenix loved Thompson's weird soup combinations and creative ravioli. "I've requested a table on the patio, but I could change to inside if you think it's too cold."
The patio? Last time they'd gone, Phoenix had mentioned how nice the outdoor seating looked. It was a classic southern California setting, open to the sky under a pergola scattered with climbing jasmine. He's going somewhere he doesn't want to go for my sake, Phoenix thought with a lopsided smile, and he remembered what I said about the patio. Wow. "No, it's warming up. The patio sounds great. And... thank you. Really."
"Of course. I should get back to work, but I'll see you this evening."
"Right. Love you."
"The same, of course."
'The same.' How romantic. His smile turned into more of a smirk as Miles hung up, but Phoenix's heart still felt all warm and gooey.
Learning how Miles Edgeworth showed affection had been a tricky thing, even with experience from a decade of renewed friendship. Anyone wanting romantic poetry or swooning speeches would be left disappointed, for Miles spoke in a different language. He solved problems for the people he cared about, whether through writing checks or by pulling on his vast network of connections. He'd go to an event he'd prefer to avoid because someone else wanted to attend. He dedicated himself to someone else's interests, quietly and intently.
Phoenix was still picking up on some of the phrases from that romantic language, but it was a beautiful dialect in its own way. Miles could avoid saying 'I love you' all he wanted, if he was making sacrifices to keep Phoenix happy.
I don't know why I was ever worried, Phoenix thought as he got back to work. The two of them loved and knew each other completely. And there was nothing to doubt from either side.
* * *
Daylight Savings hadn't yet clicked on, and so waiters came out to light candles before their dinner ended. As the sunlight died, it did end up being too chilly for Phoenix's liking. It was worth the trade-off of seeing the brightest stars overhead, and the even brighter lights of planes making their descent toward LAX. Driving home to their quiet, empty condo made the night feel more relaxing than any Monday had a right to be.
If asked a year earlier if Miles Edgeworth liked to cuddle, Phoenix would have laughed until it hurt. Now, having proclaimed their mutual love and moved in together, Phoenix could say with total, unflinching confidence that... nope, Miles definitely was not a cuddler. He did share a blanket when the television was on, though, because he knew that Phoenix was probably chilly. And he didn't protest when Phoenix leaned up against him like a big, angular pillow. That was all Phoenix needed, and it being given so freely from Miles was more than he'd expected from his eternally grumpy partner.
This was an even more affectionate night than he'd expected at dinner. If you knew Miles' language of love, all of this was practically like him hiring a skywriter to etch a sonnet over downtown.
Unwinding in the living room before bed had quickly become their habit. Miles' interest was limited to only a few shows, but he kept novels handy for other days. Phoenix wasn't a fan of any series in particular, but could always find something that helped steer his mind away from the latest gruesome murder under investigation. Accordingly, most late evenings saw them slack, warm, and sleepy on the couch together, with Miles flipping pages while Phoenix clicked through channels. That was even more true on that night, when Trucy was actually staying with a school friend. She had school friends, now.
It wasn't the sort of future a person painted in their wildest daydreams. It wasn't some grand romantic scene with swelling music on the soundtrack. Still, Phoenix thought as he adjusted the blanket, and then his position against Miles, this was exactly what he'd been looking for. After detours in every possible direction, his life felt wholly and completely satisfying.
Fingers brushed his wrist. Phoenix smiled briefly at the touch before returning his focus to the television listings. A couple of weeks ago, and that would have had me lunging across the couch. After clicking through a few screens of pseudo-documentary and reality series nonsense, it struck him that the fingers on his wrist still rested there. Blinking, Phoenix looked away from the television.
Miles smiled back in that small, secretive way he had, and set his book on the end table.
"Miles?" Phoenix asked. It felt like he was expected to know what was happening.
A broad, strong hand cupped his cheek and Phoenix obligingly leaned in for the kiss that followed. This was easy enough to understand, at least. The kiss was as warm and comfortable as their position under the blanket, and he made a pleased noise at its end. "Going to bed?" Phoenix guessed as they pulled apart. It had been an early morning for Miles, with that department meeting.
"I suppose that depends on your preference."
A faint wrinkle of confusion dimpled between Phoenix's eyebrows. Miles leaned in to resume their kiss, but it was different from before. Deeper. Hungrier.
Something clicked inside Phoenix's head, and excitement replaced uncertainty. Warmth shot through him, so much that the blanket became stifling. He leaned forward to meet Miles and returned the new kiss with sudden passion. As they broke apart he asked, "You sure?"
(God, he hoped Miles was sure.)
"I am." Miles met his eyes, and Phoenix took in his appearance with delighted surprise. Dilated like that, his grey eyes were more like a warm dusk than a German December. His cheeks, normally sharp and pale, were already flushed. Though his hair was barely mussed and his clothes remained orderly, for Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth, this was heading toward... obscene.
The word sent a shiver through Phoenix, and he reared forward to resume their kiss a third time.
As soon as it started, Miles pulled back. As Phoenix tried instinctively to follow, Miles murmured, "Let me. Tonight, let me."
Some small part of Phoenix's mind rebelled against letting Miles do everything. The rest was too thrilled that this was even happening to protest about the specifics, and he let that louder section take the reins. "We're going to bed," Phoenix decided, not wanting their first moment of full intimacy to happen sprawled on a couch.
Obligingly, Miles rose and extended his hand. Now that his plan appeared to be a success, everything about him seemed sleeker and composed again. He was as satisfied as a well-fed housecat, and didn't bother hiding a smirk at how quickly Phoenix shot to his feet to follow.
He'd known exactly what he was doing when he made those dinner reservations. He'd probably called thirty seconds after discovering they'd have the house to themselves. Phoenix considered teasing Miles over his last grand plan, aka The Bet, and just as quickly silenced those foolish instincts. One: Miles' bet, stupid as it had been, had ended with them blissfully happy together. Two: this newest plan was about to earn an even happier ending. Yes, he was more than willing to go along with whatever Miles had planned next.
Though he'd expected a fumbling, stumbling walk as they tried to make it into their bedroom while undressing each other, Miles pulled back when Phoenix reached for his shirt. "Go to bed. I'll be there in a moment."
Fine, Phoenix grumbled. He'd agreed to go along with the flow, and apparently that meant stretching out on their bed and waiting uncertainly for whatever would happen next. Perhaps it should have made him feel like they were overplanning things, as he'd worried weeks earlier, but as he flung off the covers and lay down on the sheets, anticipation buzzed instead.
"I love you," Miles said without preamble when he appeared in the doorway. He'd removed his jacket when they got home, but had kept on his vest and shirt. Now, long fingers moved down the buttons of his vest, and then placed the garment neatly on a nearby dresser. "Accordingly, I wanted this whole night to showcase my feelings appropriately, and in full detail."
He's still trying to explain why we waited, Phoenix realized. Before Miles could continue, he interrupted, "I love you, too. No more talking."
Caught as he began to unwind his cravat, Miles closed his mouth and raised an eyebrow at Phoenix's impatience.
Every weeknight, the sight of Miles' neck emerging from his stuffy work clothes sent a silly frisson of delight through Phoenix. Now, knowing what was coming next, the excitement ached. He felt like a boy about to open up his first-ever dirty pictures. This was not a time for talking. This was a time for doing. "Please," Phoenix said throatily. "No more explaining."
The smirk Miles gave him was as broad as any from the courtroom. With measured, deliberate motions, he unwound the silk around his neck. It had looked tight and constricting while on, but the revealed skin was pale and unmarked. "That's better. You should also...."
He's nervous, too, Phoenix realized with shock, catching a little flutter in Miles' voice as he trailed off. Miles knew what he was doing more than Phoenix, who'd only ever been with a man with rare, one-off fumbling sessions. But he wasn't as composed as his controlling facade would suggest. That was good to know. Reassuring.
Miles gestured mutely toward Phoenix, and then toward his own shirt, and undid the top button.
Finally catching on, Phoenix moved to pull off the t-shirt he'd changed to upon returning home. As soon as his fingers grasped the hem, ready to pull it over his head, he froze. Renewed warmth ran through him. We're undressing. In front of each other. We're about to see....
These were not the thoughts of a man, father, and business owner in his thirties. Biting his lip, Phoenix looked down and tried to compose himself. When he did look back up, he was surprised to see that Miles' shirt was halfway unbuttoned, but the man was staring down at his feet rather than at Phoenix. We really are nervous. All this build-up....
"Come here," Phoenix said impulsively.
Despite whatever plans he'd made for steering the night's events, Miles allowed Phoenix to make that request. He perched on the edge of the bed next to Phoenix and waited expectantly.
"Take it off for me," Phoenix said with sudden inspiration.
After an initial moment of surprise on Miles' face, Phoenix knew it was the right thing to do. Those grey eyes went dark and dilated again and color streaked his cheeks. Nodding, Miles laid his hand on Phoenix's chest and rested it there. It burned, though his hands were normally cold. Phoenix felt as if his heart would pound right through his ribcage and into Miles' palm, and his pulse only sped when Miles' hand began to slide down his torso.
Oh, god. Phoenix groaned, shocked at his own reaction, as he felt the gentle pressure of Miles' hand. This was nothing. This was barely even second base. But Miles was there, touching him, ready to undress him, and every nerve ending in Phoenix's body screamed to speed things along.
Miles hesitated just above his waistband and Phoenix groaned again. Heat rushed to his groin and he arched helplessly. The sensations were hardly anything, not yet, but all those years of anticipation made them maddening. "Please. Keep going."
"Wright," Miles murmured, low and soft.
I'm hard, Phoenix realized distantly, right by his hand. God, oh god, it's happening.
With a soft breath, Miles slid Phoenix's top up and over his head. The moment his arms were free, Phoenix reached forward to finish removing Miles' shirt. It landed on a chair in a fluttering heap. The simple kiss that followed was more intense than any they'd shared before. Their bare chests were blazingly hot against each other and his erection ground into Miles' hip.
When he felt Miles' length press against him in return, Phoenix nearly came in his pants. "Please," he babbled, not even sure what he was asking for. "God, please."
"Lie back," Miles whispered. Phoenix complied, uncertain of what would happen next but trusting Miles completely. A deep, throaty groan escaped him as Miles unfastened the button at Phoenix's waist and then, with agonizing, careful slowness, pulled down the zipper. The sensation of the pressure moving over his straining erection was almost too much to bear.
"You too," Phoenix said as soon as Miles pulled off Phoenix's pants, and then reached for the waistband of the boxers below. "Please. Edgeworth. Miles."
He's so nervous, Phoenix thought with giddy delight as Miles' cheeks darkened. He nodded and unfastened his waistband, but the blush spread to his shoulders. Even in the room's dim light, the contrast was obvious. He was so pale. And he was solid, fit but not overly sculpted, and so very real.
"And them too," Phoenix added as Miles pushed down his pants, revealing a pair of boxer briefs below. In the dim light and with the contrast against Miles' pale skin, some dark color looked pitch black. Totally unrevealing. That wouldn't do at all. "Please," Phoenix groaned when Miles hesitated, and unthinkingly palmed his own erection. "I want to see you. So bad."
For a couple of seconds Miles only stared back. Phoenix was about to ask again, his voice rough as gravel, but then realized that his partner was watching him touch himself with the same hunger that Phoenix felt. Without looking away from Phoenix, Miles hooked his thumbs into the waistband and slid off his last piece of clothing.
He was perfect, nicely sized and curved in a way that begged to have Phoenix's fingers wrapped around him. Hot with arousal, his penis was far darker than the rest of his fair skin or the pale thatch of hair at his groin. Precum beaded at the tip.
Phoenix couldn't look anywhere else, and started fumbling blindly for his own boxers. His underwear was already halfway off when Miles' hands joined his and slid them them free and away.
Miles felt so wonderfully heavy as he leaned in for a kiss, then laid entirely upon Phoenix by its end. Masturbation sessions had involved similar fantasies, but imagination was nothing like the reality of having him there, real and breathing. Phoenix bucked his hips up, seeking whatever friction he could, and for a few delicious seconds Miles pressed back.
The kiss broke off and Miles pushed himself up. Phoenix whined. "Come back," he pleaded when Miles looked like he might leave. A second later, as Miles slid further down the bed and bent back down, all complaints vanished.
Light exploded across Phoenix's vision as Miles' mouth closed around his erection. It was hot and wonderful and perfect and him, it was them, and it was real. "God. Yes. Good," he panted. They'd barely started and he was already short-circuiting.
Cool air abruptly danced across his cock, the contrast made sharper by the saliva that now coated him. Phoenix's eyes fluttered open enough to see Miles' head lifting. His bangs hung down, shielding his face. Time stopped for an agonizing eternity. But then Miles leaned down again, and his tongue returned to Phoenix. Heat licked up him in a strong, confident line.
When Miles had a task in front of him, he was utterly single-minded, and he showed love by working for others. This was the first time they'd touched each other, the first time they'd seen each other, and yet he didn't hesitate. Every squirm he earned from Phoenix seemed planned. Just when everything stopped feeling like enough, Phoenix felt a hand cup his balls. They tightened and his whole body hummed again.
"Miles," he whined when that new stimulation vanished. The base of Phoenix's erection was held in Miles' other hand, and the man's tongue worked the head and teased the slit, but it wasn't enough. He needed to feel Miles everywhere. Why had he moved his hand?
He's touching himself, Phoenix realized abruptly. He's turned on. By me. He has his mouth around my cock and he can barely handle it.
The knowledge was an aphrodisiac like he'd never felt before. Phoenix cried out as pleasure surged, spiraling ever-higher. Miles groaned around him. The hand around Phoenix's erection tightened. The hand around his own cock sped.
"Edgeworth," Phoenix called out, choked. "Please, god, please please please—"
At those desperate cries, Miles came first.
The stimulation around Phoenix's penis stuttered. That should have ruined things, so close to his peak. But Miles Edgeworth was orgasming in front of him, and that was because he couldn't stand watching Phoenix. He'd needed to touch himself because of Phoenix. He was thrusting helplessly into the bed because of—
Phoenix erupted into his mouth. A high, wordless cry followed.
Pleasure steadied out as his racing pulse slowed. Phoenix's hand fumbled uselessly around him. The bedsheets. His chest, dusted with hair and slick with sweat. His heart thumping under his palm. And further down, Miles' hair was silky under his trembling fingers.
Miles rested his head on Phoenix's hip. He breathed hard. It came out hot across Phoenix's belly.
"Wow." Phoenix blinked at the ceiling. His vision blurred. "Wow."
After curving a smile against Phoenix's skin, Miles placed a kiss near his navel.
The humming, buzzing pleasure of his orgasm began to bloom into something calmer and deeper. Contentment like he'd never known wrapped around Phoenix, and love swelled in his chest. "Wow." His hand stroked Miles' hair again. He wondered how he'd ever minded waiting. "Wow. Yeah. Wow."
"Eloquent," Miles sighed. He couldn't manage even the hint of a smirk to his tone. This had been his grand plan, and he'd been the one with a cock in his mouth, but he sounded even more satiated than Phoenix.
After another minute of mutual, blissful silence, Phoenix's higher brain functions began to return.
It hadn't been perfect. They'd been so initially hesitant about undressing. There were some awkward elbows as they situated themselves while kissing, and the rhythm of the act itself had the uncertainty of a first time. But that, without question, was the best sex that Phoenix Wright had ever experienced. "I love you." And that was why.
Miles lifted his head and smiled back. It was such a gentle, real smile. Phoenix didn't know if anyone else in the world had ever seen it before. "I love you, too."
The marriage bed. It did have certain connotations. They were going to be each other's one and only for the rest of their lives. They'd strike a balance between practice and innovation, and every new session of lovemaking would be opening their hearts again. It sounded overwhelming. It sounded perfect. It was everything he wanted, from the foolish romantic dreams of a student to the mature dreams of a committed adult.
Now, Phoenix had something else to be impatient about.