August 30, 1947
Orange County, New York
When his descendants asked him when his life started losing direction, Phoenix Wright would have to point back to this moment. He was sitting in the hull of a small commuter boat, hands twisted together. The external sign of anxiety was only a hint of what his stomach felt like, however.
Maya had warned him about this. He should have listened to her. But at the moment, all he could really do was wait.
This all started months ago, when the owner of the boat walked into his bakery. It had been any other normal day. He and Maya had been arguing about what to do over the weekend, and right as he was about to win her over for what he wanted to do, the bells above the door had rung. Both heads had looked up to see two men entering the establishment. One was tall and burly with a dark green trench coat hiding most of his frame, while the other let the expensive-looking jacket hang off of his shoulders. There had been a black waistcoat hugging his frame and black leather gloves on his hands. He looked as though he’d just finished driving an expensive car, given how he carried himself; long neck stretched out, chin and shoulders square, eyes taking in everything about the bakery.
That first time, all he had done was asked for a few sweets for his cohort before they were gone again. It wasn’t until the week after that they returned and Phoenix finally got a name to go with the gorgeous face.
Miles Edgeworth. The name had sounded elegant as the man to which it belonged, and up until the week before, Phoenix had pined after that name like it was a cool drink of water after three days in the California desert. Their interactions gradually moved from distant pleasantries to actual conversations, to an odd friendship. Almost nine months had passed between their first meeting and the present.
And what a nine months it had been.
Phoenix hadn’t had many crushes when he was a child, but he did know what it was like to have not-so-platonic feelings for someone. Heart rate rising, hands clammy, cheeks flushing…he hadn’t meant for this to happen…it just…had. So, when Miles Edgeworth had invited him for a day out on Lake Michigan, he had said yes before he could really think of it. Miles had asked a few weeks beforehand, so Phoenix had had a few weeks to really think through what he had agreed to. Maya had been no help, either. If the man was trying to be discreet about his feelings, his assistant at the bakery had been perfectly clear with how she felt about the two. Phoenix sunk into his chair as he heard her in the back of his head.
“He’s taking you on his boat?” She asked, elbows on the counter and chin cradled in her hands. “Nick, that means one of two things.”
“I don’t want to hear any of them,” Phoenix told her as he crouched to rearrange some of his cookies. Almost as if he hadn’t said anything, she pressed on.
“It means that he’s gonna kill you and leave your body in the Hudson—,”
“Or he’s got a crush on you.”
That had stopped Phoenix in his tracks. Luckily, he recovered quickly.
“Think about it, Nick. We’ve been in public with him a few times, and he never reciprocates any of the advances he receives. And he gets a lot of them. Remember the Busty Waitress?” Phoenix wished he could forget. She’d been wearing an A-line dress that looked like it came straight from a mistress’ closet, and had taken every chance to lean in front of Edgeworth’s face she could. Overall, the man looked like he had just been uncomfortable. “Or the librarian with her soda?” Phoenix straightened at that. That had been a case of getting sodas with Gumshoe and Edgeworth and a passing librarian had spilled her entire soda on his pants, and then insisted that she stop and help clean it up with napkins.
“I bet he’s friends with Dorothy.”
Phoenix fixed her with a serious deadpan. “That’s not funny.”
“I’m not trying to be funny!” She insisted, pressing her palms to the counter. “I really think he likes you!”
Phoenix jabbed his pointer finger in front of her face. “I told you that in confidence!” She pouted but backed down, taking a napkin with a huff. She promptly began to tear the paper into strips as she pouted. Phoenix immediately backed down, leaning against the counter himself. He felt bad for his outburst, but didn’t want to admit it was because he hoped that Miles did feel something toward him. “We’ll be in Orange County. I’ll control myself while I’m there, I promise.”
“Yeah,” she muttered, still pouting. “I think you could stand to have a little loss of control sometimes.”
Insane. Maya was insane, Phoenix shook his head. They’d had a long day out on the lake. Miles had a wonderful, beautiful boat. The first time that Phoenix had seen it, he’d been floored. It was larger than he’d expected, a white body and maple cabin on top. The sails were controlled from the top of the cabin, and when they had boarded, Miles had showed him how they worked. They had stepped down from the dock onto the back of the boat, and then again onto plush navy carpeting. There was a place to sit right where they stood, and if Phoenix had wanted to, he could have sat and let the wind blow through his hair. Miles had untied the ship from where it was docked before he was moving to unfurl the sails, leaving Phoenix to look at the rest of it.
The top of the ship had been encased in small glass windows, each pane separated by more wood. It had a beautiful finish to it that covered each area of the vessel. Looking into the boat, the upper cabin only stretched a few feet ahead of where Phoenix waited, a wheel and captain’s chair to his right, and on the other side, another bench for seating. Similar to the one behind him, the bench had a navy cushion to pad it, and bright red pillows in each corner. Between the bench and the Captain’s chair was a small, folded down table. There was nothing adorning it, Phoenix figured that was because Edgeworth didn’t store anything on it when it wasn’t in use. The sound of feet coming down the ladder made him turn to see Edgeworth.
It was late morning, after breakfast, and the relatively-new sun meant that Edgeworth looked like a vision. He wore a red button up (with the top two buttons undone) tucked into black slacks, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. It was the most dressed-down Phoenix had ever seen him, when he’d been on the ladder, one foot on the bench and the other still on the bottom most rung, one hand holding onto the ladder and the other holding one side of his bangs from blowing into his face, Phoenix had realized that he was going to have a much harder time controlling himself than he thought. After a moment of staring at each other, Phoenix had stepped out of the way, and with a few pleasantries, Miles had promptly moved to the Captain’s chair.
When Phoenix was finally in his own head again, he turned back to see the dock moving away.
“Wait,” Phoenix had turned to Miles to see his face surprised and unguarded. “Where’s Gumshoe?”
Miles blinked at him a few times before he answered. “I gave him the day off,” he said as if it was obvious. Phoenix quailed. An afternoon? Of just them? Maya’s words echoed in his head and he felt his face grow hot. Of the two options she had presented, he hoped and prayed that it wouldn’t be option one.
As it turned out, for the afternoon, he’d made a fuss over nothing. The table had folded up to reveal seven stairs leading to the hull of the ship, which was fully equipped for a few days out on the water. There was a small kitchenette with a gas stove directly to the left, and a small seating area to the right, with another Murphy table. Beyond that the walls narrowed to create a feeling of separation from where Edgeworth described the ‘sleeping area’. They had sat outside in the back of the ship for lunch, and had spent most of the day talking, with Edgeworth behind the wheel and Phoenix sitting across from him. What he had expected to be a long, awkward day passed by like it was nothing. Edgeworth had actually packed a few sandwiches for lunch, and when the sun had started to set, he had dropped the boat’s sails, and they had retreated into the hull of the ship for dinner. It was actually a little jarring for Phoenix not to cook anything. In his experience with Edgeworth, he had always been the one cooking or baking things (well, because that was his job), but it was nice to see a more…domestic side of the other man. The conversation had been easy, and the spaghetti that he made tasty, and if Phoenix were being honest, he could have stayed like that forever.
Except for now, apparently, as Phoenix sat by himself on the same bench he had enjoyed a spaghetti dinner on not so long ago. He held one of the decorative cushions to his stomach. After dinner, they had talked a little while, and then Edgeworth had disappeared up the stairs again to make sure that they were still on course. He’d been gone a total of three minutes before Phoenix started panicking.
He wasn’t lying when he said that he’d had the best time in months. The time spent with Edgeworth had been effortless. He’d had such a good time that it…well, it scared him, to be frank. As he sat on the bench, his stomach flopped a few times. It was all moving so fast that he felt dizzy. He’d promised Maya that he’d keep his cool, and stay in control of everything. Well…promised Maya or promised himself…he still wasn’t completely sure. Maybe it was a mixture of both? Either way, if he didn’t pull it together soon, he might end up doing something stupid and ruining their friendship. He envied the light at the nose of Edgeworth’s ship. It was a constant flicker; on, off, on, off, on, off…if only watching his heart was so easy.
The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs jolted him out of his thoughts, as well as the sound of the baritone voice.
“I’ve fixed our placement, we should be able to settle in for a while,” Miles informed him as he came down the stairs. Phoenix watched as he came to a stop at the bottom of the stairs, hands in his pockets. The little time he’d been outside, the wind had mussed his hair out of the perfect style he always sported. He looked more open than Phoenix had seen him, more personable, like he had left any airs with Gumshoe at the docks. His shoulders were relaxed, and the cool gray eyes appraised him cooly. “Wright? Are you well?”
Phoenix almost jumped out of his seat. “Um! No! I’m fine!” He attempted a smile, which only made the other man raise a brow in confusion. That was no good either, Phoenix panicked and coughed into a closed fist. “Sorry. I just got a little lost in thought.”
Apparently, that did nothing to sway the man, because his expression did not shift. Without breaking eye contact, Miles reached to his right. There was a shelf fixed to the wall with a small radio on top of it. Miles knew he’d left the station right where he wanted it, and he flipped the power on to a swing special. It wasn’t his preferred style of music, but he figured that it might be the more popular for someone like Wright. He was relieved that he’d gone outside to breathe, albeit under a guise that the boat needed tending to. The fresh air had done wonders for his composure; he’d been looking forward to this night for quite a while, and now that he had Wright there, he was adamant not to let this chance slip by. Ever since he’d gotten to know that man, he’d wanted to reach out to him, not to pull him into his business world, but…
It was like his boat. On the river, he was free to be whoever he wanted. He was no longer Miles Edgeworth; mafia boss. He was Miles Edgeworth; common citizen, and he could live with that. In fact, when it came right down to it, that was what he preferred. That was how Wright made him feel. Wright wasn’t a threat to him, no, Wright was something good. Something outside the realm of debts and allowances and killing. He was hope for a life where Miles didn’t have to keep a bodyguard, for goodness’ sake.
He was determined not to screw this up.
“Do you dance?” Miles asked, and Phoenix felt his stomach drop.
“Uh, pardon?” Phoenix’s eyes bulged out of his head. He watched as Edgeworth’s hands moved to mime holding a dance partner, face straight, and hips swaying. He hoped that Miles missed the way his eyes darted to his hips and back again.
“Dancing,” he repeated, as if that answered his question.
“Uh, no,” Phoenix stammered, and when Miles’ arms fell. It was minute, but there was a definite shift in his expression, as well, and Phoenix was suddenly raising his hands, trying to take his statement back. “A-at least, not very well!” He felt better when Edgeworth grinned. Unnerved, Miles’ expression returned to the same confidence as before, and he moved closer. It was all Phoenix could do not to shrink farther back into the cushions when he held out his hand. He had nice hands, Phoenix noted. He also noted that this was the first time he was able to look at Miles’ hands. They were always covered by the leather gloves he was wearing, or like today, they had been focused on other things. He took the time now to look over the hand stretched to him. Despite the gloves, they were worn, and he had long fingers.
Like it was magnetic, Phoenix’s hand reached up and grabbed the offered one. Despite the look of wear, it was soft. Phoenix was suddenly on his feet and closer to the other man than he would have guessed. Immediately his face was hot, his heart was hammering in his chest, and his hands felt a little clammy with the sudden contact. Miles must not have expected to pull him so close, because he was quiet, as well. The feeling of hot breath on Phoenix’s face made him shiver, and he tried to search the gray eyes for some sort of effort to back down. Like a gentleman, however, Miles slid his free hand to the middle of Phoenix’s back and readjusted his hold on the other man’s hand.
“Allow me to teach you,” he murmured, and the air shifted.
“Sure,” he gave a small, nervous smile, and before he had time to get nervous, they were moving. It was small, and for that he was grateful. His hands almost shook in their hold, and he kept looking down to make sure that he wasn’t going to step on the other man’s foot. They continued on like this for a moment, Phoenix extremely grateful for the other man’s experience to make up for his fumbling feet. He was aware that the music was still playing in the background, though it was faint with static. Somewhere in his mind, he was laughing. The music echoed exactly how he felt, rushed and happy and nervous all at once, yet when he followed Edgeworth’s lead…he felt safe. When the music changed to a slower song, the pattern changed, and he looked down to his feet again.
“You’re doing fine,” Miles’ voice was much closer than Phoenix remembered it being, and when he began to look up, he was suddenly hyper aware that the man’s smooth voice was just inches above his head. He shuddered, blue eyes darting up to see that Miles was, in fact, inches away from him. He couldn’t help the shaky breath that left his mouth, one that was cut off by his own, slights-ajar mouth pressing to Edgeworth’s ever-so-close one.
Did I just…?
Everything stopped for a moment. For the first time all day, the world stopped moving. The boat, time, even the earth rotating around the sun…Phoenix figured he would be lucky if he could breathe again. Ever.
Which only meant that, when Edgeworth’s lips started moving against his own, the feeling only intensified. Inhaling sharply, Phoenix felt his fingers tighten where they were pressed into the man’s sleeves. He wasn’t exactly sure when it happened, but Edgeworth’s hand moved from his back to the crook of his neck.
“Wright…” Miles breathed when they parted for air, and Phoenix opened his eyes again to see that there was no surprise, no anger, no disgust in Miles’ eyes. Feeling his breath hitch again, Phoenix felt his anxieties wash away when Edgeworth moved to kiss him again, this time moving more into him. Without hesitation, he let go of al the inhibitions that had been hindering him all day.
Maybe Maya was right, he thought between the haze.
Maybe a little loss of control was a good thing.