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The Manny named Miles

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Phoenix Wright had not planned on being a father. It wasn't a decision he had made. He was not married. He didn't have anyone to help him raise her. His child wasn't biologically his, nor was she an infant.

He hadn't planned on being a father, but he was, and this was all that mattered. Trucy (now Trucy Wright) was his responsibility now. He loved her, more than he'd ever expected to love anyone or anything.

Though Trucy's mother had left a decent sum of money for him, Phoenix quickly realized that the living he earned selling paintings wasn't going to be enough. Eight year old girls were expensive. When it had been just him, it was okay to fall behind every once in a while and spend a month eating nothing but instant ramen. But he had a child now. He had to be more responsible, had to bring in a higher income.

Trucy was the sole reason Phoenix decided to go back to law school. He'd started a degree just after high school, but hadn't had the motivation to get through the difficult classes and had dropped out after only a year. Now that he was twenty-six, he felt he was better equipped to deal with the the pressure.

Phoenix got to work. He took advantage of every scholarship that he could find, and managed to qualify for several grants. He swore he'd never written more essays in his life, but it all proved to be worth it when he managed to settle his tuition. Once his classes had been scheduled, he found a proper part-time job.

Phoenix both attended classes and went to work for two months before proved to be way too much. He was constantly hiring babysitters whose fees differed wildly, and too many times he'd come home to find his daughter upset because of something the babysitter had said, or to find her hungry because the babysitter hadn't bothered to make her dinner. It seemed most babysitters he found were flaky, and he had to call out of work a few times because they cancelled at the last possible second. It would be one thing if Trucy was older, but she was eight. She couldn't be left alone.

It was too much for one man to handle on his own, and with this in mind, Phoenix sat down with his local newspaper in hand, determined to hire a nanny. He tucked Trucy under his arm as he read off names and biographies, and many of the entries she shot down immediately.

The classifieds had a special section for nannies and babysitters. Nannies, in general, were expensive, especially if they came with the guarantee of an agency. It was a worthwhile investment. Guaranteeing that Trucy would have someone to feed her and comfort her and tuck her into bed while he was away was the best investment he could possibly make.

Before long, he stumbled across an ad that he could hardly believe. Even Trucy found it somewhat strange. The rate was low, almost ridiculously low. The nanny in particular was no longer with an agency, but did boast impressive credentials and a degree in child psychology from an Ivy League school. Phoenix explained to Trucy what a degree was, and what Ivy League schools were, and she whistled.

The ad easily received Trucy's approval. Her name was Miley, apparently, and she said she was also twenty-six. She spoke of nurturing, of believing it was important to expose children to things early in as gentle a way as possible. She believed in allowing children to grow into the individuals they truly were, in giving them the encouragement and independence they needed to become functional and healthy adults. It seemed that she knew how to simplify her speech to explain difficult subjects in a way that wasn't condescending.

It was everything Phoenix believed, everything he had tried to do. Trucy wanted to be a magician, and teachers often told him she was too young to be so set on a career path, but Phoenix wouldn't hear any of it. If his daughter wanted to be a magician, she was going to be the best damn magician the world had ever seen and he was going to do everything in his power to make sure of that. Of course he taught her other skills, and warned her not to narrow her path, but he supported her dream.

Phoenix sported a wide grin as he opened his laptop and emailed Miley. The ad had left email as a preferred contact method, as Miley was apparently a bit awkward over the phone. Phoenix could empathize in that regard. As he'd expected, Miley took a short while to respond, and said she'd received many offers. She intended to become a full-time, completely devoted nanny to only one household, preferably only one child, and people were tripping over themselves to be the one to hire her.

Phoenix asked what method Miley was using to determine whose offer to accept. She said it was mostly a matter of how the interviews went (she would schedule specific times for 'email interviews' with each potential client) and income level. He asked for clarification on this, and Miley said she offered her services at a low rate because she knew wealthy people could already afford nannies. Phoenix was oddly relieved to hear he was on the low end of the income scale in terms of people who had contacted her, which raised his chances somewhat.

Three days passed, and Phoenix got another email saying that the list had been narrowed down to him and two other people. Miley scheduled their formal interview, and clarified in advance that most of the questions would be about Trucy.

"Good," he replied. "I'll take any excuse to ramble about my daughter."

Miley said this was exactly the response she had wanted to hear.

The interview went perfectly. Miley's ideals for child-rearing lined up with Phoenix's perfectly, and she often proposed things only moments before he was about to. She asked all about Trucy, about her likes and dislikes, and sent Phoenix a list that described every book in her children's library. She had plenty of books on magic tricks, and admitted that she had learned a few tricks herself because they always went over so well with kids.

Phoenix talked about how smart Trucy was, how mature she was for her age, and Miley asked out of nowhere if she'd had a difficult childhood. Phoenix swallowed thickly before confirming it, and then Miley said she understood, that her childhood had been no walk in the park and that it was part of why she'd chosen to work with children. This brought a soft smile to Phoenix's face.

On top it all, Miley was sharp, and had a dry sarcastic humor about her despite her overall kindness. Phoenix found himself chuckling at her messages constantly, and Trucy kept asking him what was so funny. To his surprise, Miley also laughed at his stupid puns (in the form of text, anyway).

It seemed like a match made in nanny heaven, and he wondered if there was some kind of catch, especially because her fee was so comparably low.

"No particular reason," her response to his question read. "I find the work fulfilling, and am more than comfortable living on family money. I was left enough that I don't need to work, but to sit around in an empty decadent townhouse eating foie gras seems awfully lonely. I figured that I don't need to charge an astronomical fee."

Phoenix felt a momentary sting of jealousy at that, but made a point to dismiss it. The fact that Miley was taking the job not for need of money, but for a genuine love of children, was actually comforting once he thought more about it.

Another day, and Phoenix actually jumped for joy when he received the message informing him he'd been chosen. Him! Over everyone else!

"Will you have me?" Miley asked, confirming whether he still needed her services or not.

"Of course! You're hired!"

He grinned as he sent his last message, and received an excited reply asking for the address, what to bring, and when to stop by. He relayed those final details, and then ran to find Trucy. She'd be delighted to learn she no longer had to spend her afternoons with strange college girls.

 


 

"My new nanny's coming today?!"

Trucy jumped up from her seat on the couch, her fists raised to chest level. Phoenix smiled widely at her and nodded, picking her up to spin her around for a moment before planting her back on the couch.

"Yes, ma'am! She'll be here at six-o-clock tonight. She's going to stay the night in the guest room so she can be here to make you breakfast tomorrow morning— Daddy has to be at work reaaaaally early. She's gonna make you pancakes with whipped cream and strawberries!"

Trucy could only squeal at that, too excited to form words. Phoenix put his hands on his hips and looked about the condo, frowning to himself.

"I have to go to class an hour after she gets here. I've got some time... I oughta get this place cleaned up a bit."

"Should I help?!"

He laughed, touched by her sincerity.

"No, that's okay. Tell you what— you can let me know when you see Miley coming, okay? That way daddy can pretend he wasn't frantically cleaning."

"Okay!!"

Trucy took her seat in the armchair closest to the window and pulled out her deck of cards, immediately engrossing herself in rehearsal of her latest magic trick.

The girl asked question after question as Phoenix dusted, vacuumed, and moved things around to make the house look presentable. For once he was thankful to have such a small place, as it meant he had less to clean.

Just as he was finishing his work, he noticed Trucy squinting at something out the window. She remained silent for a minute or two, and then asked a strange question.

"Does daddy need to get his eyes checked?"

Phoenix looked over his shoulder at Trucy, who was standing near the window, and smiled. He left the room for a moment, setting his final stack of books and magazines on the shelf in the tiny closet, and returned to the living room.

"No, sweetie, daddy's eyes are fine. Why do you ask?"

"But you must be blind! That's not a girl!!"

Phoenix felt his eyebrows raise, and finally wondered just what the girl was staring at so intently.

"Wha— who's not a girl?"

"Miley, see?"

It occurred to him just then that it was nearly six. He wondered why Trucy hadn't announced the nanny's arrival, but then, she seemed both confused and transfixed.

Trucy was propped up on the windowsill to better see out of the glass, and she pressed her index finger against the pane. Phoenix, laughing, walked to her side and further pulled back the curtain to get a closer look. Maybe Miley had broad shoulders, or wore ill-fitting pants, but he didn't care much about her appearance and hadn't even asked for a photograph.

...Wait.

He couldn't see them too clearly, but whoever was getting out of their car and grabbing their large bag stuffed full of things and double-checking their watch and the address didn't appear to be a woman. They could be, he guessed, but kept their hair pretty short for a girl and wore what looked like men's clothing. Phoenix furrowed his brow.

"See? Not a girl!"

"Well, she could just be a, um, muscular girl..."

"No, daddy!!"

The approaching nanny looked up, towards the window, and Phoenix reflexively sprang away from it. He didn't want to come across as creepy, especially not this early. Trucy could get away with staring. She was eight.

He held his breath, and tried to hold Trucy in place behind him after pulling her from the window and moving towards the front door. He could feel her trying to jump up and down. Nearly a minute passed, and he imagined the nanny readjusting their bags and rehearsing their introduction, maybe stopping on the front step to take a deep breath.

Then the doorbell rang.

"Sit still," Phoenix warned his rambunctious daughter.

He opened the door, and the nanny smiled as they asked if they had the right address.

It was not a woman's voice.

"That's not a girl!!" Trucy repeated, and she was laughing so hard that she was having difficulty standing. Phoenix felt his face go beet-red and shoved his way through the front door, slamming it shut behind him. The nanny looked mildly surprised, but took the hint and stepped back.

"Is something wrong?"

"What kind of a man's name is Miley?!"

Phoenix wished he had phrased himself better, as 'Miley' looked somewhat offended now. ...Also, he was very handsome, but that was beside the point.

"That's not my name, you're the one who decided to call me that."

"I— it wasn't me, it was the paper!"

Phoenix was now glad he'd decided to keep the ad folded up in his pocket, and pulled it out to prove his point. He handed it to 'Miley', who quickly scanned it. He huffed and rolled his eyes as he handed it back.

"I'll have to call and advise them to be more careful in the future, but it's not Miley. It's Miles." His indignation passed after a moment, and then he laughed, one of those dry chuckles that didn't carry any joy. "I kept wondering why you were calling me that! But you never used any gendered words, so I didn't think you thought I was a woman."

"Why didn't you correct me?!" Phoenix was truly perplexed now.

"I just thought you were odd. That you're one of those people who nicknames everybody shortly after a first meeting— you know the kind."

He did know the kind, but still, it was strange that he hadn't bothered to correct a misspelling of his own name.

"I was mostly focused on Trucy, I'll have you know," Miles continued. "The nickname struck me as odd for about half a second before I became focused on her."

Phoenix blinked at him. He couldn't exactly find any fault in that statement. And besides, he didn't have any problem with having a male nanny, as unusual as it was. After a moment, he sighed.

"Yeah, okay, I get that. I guess that's the best I could ask for, right?"

"...Is it alright if I meet her now? I'm sure she's getting awfully impatient, just standing there in the middle of the—"

"Oh, jeez, I forgot! Uh, here." Phoenix turned and carefully slid the front door back open, peeking in at Trucy. "We're coming in now, you sit still."

He opened the door and made an 'after you' gesture, and to his amusement, Miles bowed before entering. The door closed behind the two of them, and he watched as Miles' expression and tone changed completely. He knelt down and put his hands on his knees so that he'd be closer to her eye level.

"Hi, can I assume that you're Trucy? I've heard an awful lot about you," he said in a strangely soothing, quieter voice, and Trucy giggled.

"That's me!! Do you like magic tricks?!"

"As a matter of fact, I do. Actually..." He trailed off to glance quickly up at Phoenix, and then he reached forward and pulled a flower out from behind Trucy's ear, one that seemingly came out of nowhere. She screamed. A happy scream, but loud. She took the flower and then pulled the man into a hug without any kind of warning.

"Um, sorry about that—"

"It's fine," Miles reassured him. "Trucy, what do you want to do today? Do you have any homework?"

Trucy thought for a moment, looking up as she did, and then nodded furiously.

"I have a little math homework and then I wanna watch Kiki when we're done!"

"Kiki...?"

"Kiki's Delivery Service. Miyazaki," Phoenix explained. "Those ones are her favorites, 'cause all the heroes are average little girls like her."

"Ah, yes," Miles responded, and a flash of recognition passed through his eyes. "I do have a few of Miyazaki's films in my library, but not that one in particular."

"Do you have Totoro?! 'Cause we don't have Totoro and I only get to watch it at my friend Pearl's house!!"

"I do have Totoro."

Trucy stared at him, both eyes and mouth wide, and then looked up at her father as she took his hands in hers.

"Daddy, I love him. We have to keep him, daddy, I don't care that he's not a girl."

Phoenix blushed, and Miles laughed.

"U-uh, daddy doesn't mind either. You go and get your homework, okay? Miles will help you with it."

"Okay!!"

She turned on her heels and bounded up the stairs, almost losing her top hat in the process and taking two steps at a time, an impressive feat for someone with such small legs. Miles remained in his kneeling position for a moment, still laughing, and then stood and turned to face Phoenix. Both men smiled somewhat awkwardly.

"I do hope it's not a problem, anyway. I know it's not exactly the standard..."

"No, it's fine, I was just surprised is all. Hell, my friends in class'll probably find it hilarious that I hired a manny."

Phoenix heard something crash upstairs and cast a worried glance at the ceiling.

"Is she always so...?"

"Energetic? Yeah, usually. She knows when to keep quiet, though. Doesn't cause me trouble in the store or anything. I got pretty lucky."

Miles straightened his stance somewhat, suddenly looking much more professional, more like a secretary than a nanny.

"Now, I don't want to be intrusive, but these are questions I need to ask... Is the mother involved at all? Is there one?"

"...No. Nobody. It's just me. There's a lot to that, though, and I don't have time to explain it all right now."

"Right, you have to get to class. Law school, right?"

Phoenix stood up proudly and flashed a thumbs-up.

"That's right! Still got a ways to go, but a lawyer's salary would be nice."

Miles smiled somewhat sadly.

"My father was a lawyer."

"Oh? Funny coincidence."

Phoenix had noticed the use of the word was, but chose not to comment on it. Not now, anyway. He'd just met the man. He'd just realized he was a man.

"Well... I'll get all of my things set up. The kitchen is...?"

"Oh, it's just over that way. You can use whatever you have to, just don't go snooping around in my room or anything like that," Phoenix called over his shoulder as he moved to pack up his laptop and textbook.

He'd get to class a bit early at this rate, but he did have to drive (something he had been very reluctant to learn), and he didn't like to leave it up to fate whether or not he'd miss the beginning of class due to traffic. He heard Miles rummaging around in the kitchen, and heard Trucy pounding her way back down the stairs.

He stood, and Trucy leapt into his arms, shrieking a thousand thank-yous. Suddenly she pulled away from him, her eyes wide and curious.

"Daddy, what's a manny?"

The last thing Phoenix heard from Miles before leaving the apartment was a distant and muffled burst of laughter.