To be honest, Phoenix had always thought of Edgeworth as being totally asexual.
Sure, he supposed it was plausible that the man was merely shy or something… possibly… hypothetically… –or maybe Edgeworth just liked to keep his personal life very private, which was vastly more imaginable, since Phoenix already knew it to be fact. Still, despite knowing that it was feasible that Edgeworth wasn't asexual, Phoenix had always considered that to be the truth. Actually, he hadn't really even thought about it.
Incredibly gay though it might sound, Phoenix's dedicated pursuit of Edgeworth, spanning over a decade of no contact, and inevitably leading him down the path of law – well, it had always been purely platonic. Yes, always. Even when he'd realized midway through college that he was bisexual (and had a few daydreams about Larry before deciding never to go there). Phoenix just had never thought of Edgeworth that way, because Edgeworth and anything involving sex were just so incompatible in his mind.
Sure, Maya often tried to subtly get Phoenix to admit that he was in love with Edgeworth – claiming that they were "just so gay for each other" and that it was "cute" – but she was as far off the mark as Pearls was about him and Maya. Phoenix had gone to great lengths for Edgeworth, yes, but it wasn't out of love. He simply valued his friendships just that highly, and if Maya thought back over his acquaintance of her, she might realize that Phoenix had done similarly drastic things for her (such as, oh, trying to run across a burning bridge).
The accusations never really bothered Phoenix, though. Partly this was because Fey girls were apparently huge fangirls (which made him wonder what Mia would have supported...), and it wasn't worth getting bothered. But mostly, Phoenix was just secure enough in his (assumed) knowledge of Edgeworth's asexuality to let the teasing roll off his back. Phoenix would never like Edgeworth romantically, and Edgeworth would never like Phoenix romantically – both for the same reason. Edgeworth was asexual. It was just incomprehensible to Phoenix that Edgeworth wouldn't be, and he'd always been very amused at all the girls (or Oldbags) swooning over his handsome friend.
So when Phoenix realized that Edgeworth only opened the door for him in order to check out his ass, he was understandably surprised.
At first, he'd thought that door-opening was just another aspect of the Von Karma manners which had been trained into his friend. Then he'd noticed that Edgeworth didn't open the door for everyone. Phoenix had felt a little touched at that, believing that Edgeworth only opened the door for his friends. Then he'd noticed that Edgeworth didn't open the door for anyone except Phoenix himself, not even Gumshoe or Larry… and okay, that he could understand, but Edgeworth got along well with Maya and he didn't open the door for her either.
Weird, Phoenix had thought, but he'd let it go. And then the courthouse's front lobby had undergone a bit of a redecoration, which involved the addition of several mirrors on the walls. Phoenix had happened to glance into one of these mirrors on his way in the front door (which Edgeworth was holding open for him) – only to notice the distinct downward cast of Edgeworth's eyes.
Mouth falling open, Phoenix halted in his tracks. Edgeworth's gaze lingered on his rear end for another moment, before lifting to a more respectable height as he said, "Wright, you're blocking the door."
"Wha– oh, um, sorry!" Phoenix stuttered, before starting to walk again. He instantly began rationalizing to himself: he must have seen that wrong, or maybe he'd dropped something, or had a stain on his pants or… he must've just seen that wrong. Edgeworth had no reason to be ogling any part of Phoenix. It must be a mistake.
But it wasn't.
Edgeworth kept doing it. And honestly, now that Phoenix was looking, it was obvious where his friend's gaze was aimed. Edgeworth wasn't exactly being subtle; though, to be fair, were it not for the new mirror, he wouldn't really have needed to be. And there was definitely interest in that gaze. Phoenix's butt practically tingled under the level of appreciative interest it was receiving. Phoenix's brain, meanwhile, was hard-pressed not to explode.
He considered just ignoring it. Edgeworth had been opening doors for him for a long time, and their relationship hadn't changed. But Phoenix felt so terribly self-conscious now that he knew the truth. He didn't think he'd be able to just ignore the fact that every time he went through a doorway, Edgeworth was going to leer at his behind. He'd start blushing horribly, or trying to walk through doors sideways, or something, and give himself away anyway. He couldn't just refuse to let Edgeworth hold doors for him, either. That would be rude and unprovoked, or at least it would come across that way if Phoenix didn't explain his reasons.
No, the only thing to do was confront this matter head-on. There would be no more sneaky ass-ogling if Phoenix had his say! All he had to do was bring it up casually, maybe over lunch, and politely tell Edgeworth that being stared at in such a way made him very uncomfortable. Edgeworth got embarrassed pretty easily, so he'd probably bluster a bit, before agreeing not to do it anymore.
Phoenix nodded firmly to himself. He would ask Edgeworth to stop the ogling (–and he would continue to steadfastly ignore just what the ogling might mean about Edgeworth's true sexuality and/or their relationship, because thoughts of that nature were honestly kind of frightening).
Edgeworth shrugged, then crossed his arms, a familiar smirk on his face. "I refuse to stop staring at your ass when I open doors for you."
Phoenix felt a blush creeping over his face. Edgeworth sounded so… crass. And why on earth was he so calm? "Y-you can't do that!"
"But –" Phoenix halted, momentarily stunned. This conversation was not going the way he'd expected it to. "But I'm telling you not to."
Edgeworth tsked Phoenix. "And I'm not listening. I can direct my eyes wherever I want. It's not against the law."
"Well, no, but – but it makes me really uncomfortable!" Phoenix insisted.
Edgeworth eyed him speculatively. "And why is that, Wright?"
Phoenix blinked. "Huh?"
"Why should my appreciation of your finely formed derrière offend you?" Edgeworth raised a single eyebrow, still smirking.
Phoenix was suddenly very glad they were sitting down (he took comfort in his 'finely formed derrière', what the hell, being safely out of sight), but felt a little paranoid about the possibility of someone else in the diner overhearing their conversation. He lowered his voice to an insistent hiss, leaning forward across the table. "Because! How would you like it if someone was ogling you all the time?"
Edgeworth looked blankly at Phoenix for a moment, before glancing pointedly around the room. A total of four women and two men (including as the cook, who should really be focusing on the food he was burning instead) stared blatantly back at him.
"Okay, so maybe it doesn't bother you, but it bothers me!" Phoenix grumbled.
"The reason it doesn't bother me, Wright, is that I do not care about these people. Their opinion of my body does not matter to me; therefore, their gazes are similarly unimportant. Likewise, my glances should not bother you." Edgeworth's face was blank, but his voice sounded a little strained, somehow. Huh. Maybe he was embarrassed, after all.
"There's only one flaw in that statement," Phoenix sighed. "I do care about you."
"Ah." Edgeworth's expression seemed to… flicker for a moment, there was really no other word for it. His hands tensed slightly around his arms, and he uncrossed them to lay them flat on the table. "So you… admire me, then."
"Well, yeah," Phoenix admitted, a little puzzled. "Sure. Since we were little kids. What does that have to do with –" He stopped.
Edgeworth had made a strange sound. A slightly strangled, back-of-the-throat sound. Phoenix frowned. "Do you need some water?"
Edgeworth shook his head, cleared his throat, and then smiled. It was a strange smile – not the usual smirk from the courtroom, nor the somewhat hesitant smile Edgeworth occasionally could be coaxed to wear amongst friends. It was a new smile, wider than those previous, and looked happy. Phoenix liked it.
"So I was correct, then," Edgeworth said, still wearing that – that pleased almost-grin, "when I deduced the reason for your discomfort was because you believed my actions evidenced a lack of sincerity on my part? I can assure you, that is not the case."
Phoenix opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the waitress, who was staring lustfully at Edgeworth's warm expression. The prosecutor remained unruffled as he made his order, and Phoenix quickly blurted out one of his own, not caring about getting food so much as getting rid of the waitress so they could resume the conversation.
"Um, lack of sincerity?" he asked as soon as she had retreated far enough away. "I – um, well I wasn't really thinking about that, actually." He wasn't even sure what Edgeworth meant by it.
The eyebrow rose again. "Oh?"
Phoenix found himself blushing once more. That 'oh' sounded really licentious for some reason. And Edgeworth had that expression again – the same one Phoenix had been seeing in the mirror while the prosecutor was staring at his behind.
He squirmed in his seat uncomfortably. "Y-yeah. You're just making me feel really self-conscious. I don't know why. I mean –" Phoenix laughed a little hysterically, because Edgeworth was looking at him like Maya looked at burgers, and this was all just so weird – "I always thought you were asexual, so this is just. Um."
The hungry expression fell off Edgeworth's face, to be replaced with a look of definite irritation. "Is that so."
Phoenix chuckled awkwardly. "Well, I guess I was wrong. Uh, right?"
"You were wrong," Edgeworth confirmed, voice positively icy.
"I –I see that now," Phoenix admitted. "Sorry."
Edgeworth held his glare for a few moments longer, but then sighed and looked away. "It's fine. I suppose I can't blame you. And perhaps I should apologize, if my reserved behaviour ever caused you any pain."
Phoenix was a little confused. "…Why would it?"
"You just admitted that you have always admired me, did you not? I apologize if you felt that you could not tell me because of how you perceived my sexuality." Edgeworth smirked. "Though it was your fault in the first place."
Phoenix was getting the feeling that they were having two different conversations. "I don't really know why you think your sexuality would impact our friendship. I mean, I have told you that I admire you. That's part of the reason that I became a lawyer, remember?"
The smirk faded away from Edgeworth's face, to be replaced by a pensive expression. "I think," the prosecutor said carefully, after a moment, "that I need to clear up the facts. Do you mind?"
Phoenix shrugged agreement. He was a little perplexed, himself.
Edgeworth began. "You have always believed me to be asexual." Phoenix nodded. "But this hasn't bothered you in any way."
"Of course not!" Phoenix insisted. Edgeworth winced.
"I see. And you admire my conduct in the courtroom."
"Out of it too!" Phoenix hastened to add. The frown that had crept on to Edgeworth's face did not fade.
"You consider us friends," Edgeworth concluded, looking very disgruntled by this fact.
"I consider you one of my best friends," Phoenix said, quietly. Edgeworth nodded.
There was an uncomfortable silence.
"…Were you aware," Edgeworth asked suddenly, "that Ms. Fey is fond of gazing admiringly at you during trials?"
Phoenix blinked at the apparent non sequitur. "Well, yeah. I guess. But – she doesn't like me, or anything. She's not really looking at me like that."
"And if she were?" Edgeworth asked, expression and voice once again indecipherable. "Would that bother you?"
Phoenix scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. "Well… no, I guess not. I mean, I'd feel kind of bad about it, since she's like a sister to me, but I guess I couldn't really blame her for something like that. …If she liked me. Which she doesn't, for the record. No matter what Pearls says."
"I see." Edgeworth met Phoenix's eyes. "In that case, my admiring gaze also should not bother you."
"Well," Phoenix hedged, "it's not really the same thing…"
"And why is that, Wright? Perhaps because," Edgeworth asked, leaning forward over the table, "you do not merely view me as a friend?"
"W-what?" Phoenix stuttered, flushing. "I don't! I mean, I do! I only think of you as a friend."
Edgeworth smirked. "The degree to which you are flustered suggests otherwise."
"…No, the degree to which I am flustered suggests that you are flustering me! I don't like you – I've always thought you were asexual, it would be stupid to like you." Phoenix's face felt very hot, and he resented it. When had this conversation turned into him justifying himself to Edgeworth? Shouldn't it be the other way around?
"But now you know that I am not asexual," Edgeworth said calmly – no, smugly. "Just to clarify, Wright – I'm gay."
For some reason, this statement made Phoenix blush even harder. Probably because Edgeworth was saying it with such significance.
"Furthermore," Edgeworth added, his smirk widening, "I have been, as you noticed, ogling your ass." He stopped, as though to allow Phoenix to fully consider this.
So Phoenix considered it for a moment.
Edgeworth's smirk was so wide it could only be considered a smile, now, and it looked downright fond. His eyes were warm and his body relaxed, and he looked utterly unguarded in a way that made Phoenix gulp and probably made the rest of the diner happy in their pants.
"It would not be stupid to like me, Wright," Edgeworth finished, still staring straight into Phoenix's eyes, and somehow that was making it very difficult for Phoenix to breathe. "I assure you."
Everything seemed to have gone quite still, all movement, all sound sucked away. The tension built as Edgeworth stayed put and Phoenix stayed frozen. He was absolutely lost – for words, in thought, unable to react in any other way that this shock. Though dimly aware of his surroundings, Phoenix was far too caught up in his emotions, and it came as a shock when the waitress returned, setting their meals down on the table with a slightly dazed smile directed his companion's way.
Edgeworth leaned back in his seat, his own smile dissolving into a slightly irritated glare aimed at the waitress as he made room for her to set down his food. Phoenix, however, was grateful for her timely intervention, even if she was completely ignoring him in favor of drooling over Edgeworth.
The prosecutor curtly dismissed her with a, "Thank you, that's all we will be needing," before turning back to his sandwich with a sigh. Phoenix had already taken the opportunity offered by the waitress, and was stuffing his face in order to avoid speaking. Judging by his second, slightly louder, sigh, Edgeworth fully understood Phoenix's reasons for eating so vigorously, but mercifully let him get away with it anyway.
The lawyers lapsed into silence, eating peacefully despite the intense conversation they had been having only moments before. Of course, that peace was only on the surface – well, for Phoenix at least. Though his mind and emotions were still reeling, Edgeworth on the other hand seemed to be utterly unaffected. In fact, he was projecting an aura of calm self-confidence, which really pissed Phoenix off for some reason.
But he was used to Edgeworth being frustratingly smug, both in court and in daily life. What was far less commonplace was this – this weird, half-backwards confession Edgeworth had so nonchalantly tossed his way. It was making Phoenix's mind spin. Edgeworth had admitted to being gay and then had basically implied that he knew Phoenix was into him. He'd also strongly implied that he was into Phoenix in return, but it was so much easier to get all affronted at Edgeworth's presuming to know Phoenix's feelings than it was to consider that. After all, what right did Edgeworth have to intimate that Phoenix liked him? He'd told Maya often enough, it wasn't like that between them. And Phoenix had clearly just stated so! How could Edgeworth continue to be so confident about this?
And – Phoenix realized grumpily, chomping on a handful of fries – and Edgeworth had never even agreed to stop staring at his ass!
"You aren't doing a very good job of contradicting what I've been told about defense lawyers, Wright," a wry voice interrupted Phoenix's thoughts. He frowned in confusion, and Edgeworth took a small sip of his Samurai Soda before elaborating: "Your table manners are horrendous."
Phoenix felt yet another blush rising up on his cheeks, and hastily set down the handful of french fries. Edgeworth was right… but it wasn't his fault! Phoenix was used to eating out with Maya. In comparison to her, he ate like he was at a five-star restaurant. He had a feeling that excuse wouldn't get him very far with the prosecutor, though, so let the comment slide.
Clearing his throat, he said instead, "So, about just now. I mean, I admit I'm bi, but… Honestly, I've never thought of you that way. Not ever."
"Not even once?" Edgeworth asked. Though the words themselves were almost needy, the tone in which they were uttered was merely one of polite interest. That was weird, wasn't it? Why wasn't Edgeworth getting more worked up about this instead of Phoenix? That would be the way this would normally go.
"No," Phoenix confirmed after a moment. He might have tried to phrase it more nicely, but Edgeworth didn't exactly seem to care overmuch and he just wanted to make himself absolutely clear. "Never."
"Hm…" Edgeworth took a bite of his sandwich and chewed it thoughtfully for a long time. Then he swallowed, drank some more soda, and suggested, "Do so now."
Phoenix, mid-swallow of his own drink, nearly spit it up all over the table. Only Edgeworth's livid glare prevented him from doing so (if he should spew grape juice on the man's cravat, he didn't even dare imagine what kind of horrors would await him), and he still coughed painfully into his fist for some time. "Wh-what?" he finally spluttered, "Do what now?"
Edgeworth set his sandwich down on his plate quite gently. "Take a moment, Wright," he advised in a soft, low voice that should probably be outlawed in any family-friendly venue, "and think of me 'that way'. Close your eyes if it helps. If necessary, I can narrate a scenario for you."
Phoenix stared in openmouthed horror. After a moment, he automatically took a bite of his burger, chewed, and swallowed it, still staring.
Edgeworth's lips twitched.
"…Fine," Phoenix said. "But I've already told you that I don't think –"
"Wright. Close your eyes."
With a put-upon sigh, Phoenix did so. Squirming uncomfortably down into his seat, he tried to think of Edgeworth romantically. Let's see…
Roses? No. Sweet nothings? No. Paying for things? Please. This was Miles "I'll send you the bill for the chewing gum" Edgeworth. Nicknames?
…Phoenix couldn't tell whether he wanted more to laugh or puke at the thought of calling Edgeworth "Miley-Wiley" or something. The thought of being called "Feenie" by the man was equally out of character – but still, maybe he had hit on something. He and Edgeworth always called each other by last names, but if Edgeworth was being romantic, then he probably wouldn't do that. So… "Phoenix" it was, then.
At the courtroom, after a successful trial, one in which they'd worked together to reveal the truth and convict the true criminal (not Phoenix's client, who for the purposes of this 'scenario' was Maya again). Of course, the usual group would gather outside the doors – Maya so grateful to be free, Gumshoe just as overly enthusiastic as ever, Larry being a nuisance for some reason even though Phoenix hadn't meant to include him in this imagining – and Edgeworth, quiet amongst all the bluster. Smiling that new, slowly-widening smile, and maybe reaching out to touch Phoenix, too. Something small, but intimate, like a hand on his shoulder with the thumb just touching his neck, and Edgeworth's voice would be pleased and maybe a little secretive as he said, "Well done, Phoenix."
Phoenix's eyes snapped back open, and he jerked upright in his seat with a small shiver. Across the booth, Edgeworth was observing him patiently.
"That seemed a rather… enjoyable scenario, Wright," he said, but although the words were smug, his voice was a little weak.
"I wasn't imagining anything like that," Phoenix snapped, but paused before revealing what he had actually envisioned. Thinking back on it, he had been very tame in his choice of musings; probably far more so than any 'scenario' Edgeworth would have offered.
The mere thought of Edgeworth narrating such a thing for Phoenix to picture, in a family restaurant no less, was mortifying. And… a little appealing, actually. Huh.
It wasn't like Phoenix could deny that his little daydream had been pleasant. It had affected him – more strongly than it really ought to have, considering just how simple it had been, and that was probably telling. But at the same time, Phoenix knew, beyond any sense of doubt, that he had never liked Edgeworth. He had thought he'd known Edgeworth was asexual after all, and though he could be stupid sometimes when it came to love (as the whole Dahlia experience proved beyond any shadow of doubt), Phoenix wouldn't ever be quite so stupid as to just let himself fall for someone who was asexual.
Suddenly, it hit Phoenix, just what Edgeworth must have noticed earlier. He'd said it flat out, hadn't he? I've always thought you were asexual, it would be stupid to like you. Not 'I couldn't ever like you', or 'you'd never be anything more than a friend to me', but 'it would be stupid to like you'.
Phoenix had chosen not to like Edgeworth. He'd deliberately, if subconsciously, chosen not to fall for Edgeworth because he had thought it would be a stupid and hopeless thing to do. The thought had never crossed his mind – because he hadn't let it. It should have. If Phoenix really had never felt anything romantic for Edgeworth, then he would have mused about him for a while, just as he had about Larry – it would only have been natural to do so. But he hadn't. He had not even once thought of Edgeworth in any romantic sense, because to do so would mean opening himself up to emotions that he had believed would only make him miserable.
Phoenix marveled at his own brain for a moment. It had really pulled one over on him. If only he were capable of this level of deception in the courtroom, it would be quite useful in tricking contradictions out of witnesses.
But now Edgeworth was ogling and implying things – well, no, by this point he was pretty blatantly coming on to Phoenix. But that didn't change the problem, not really. If Phoenix had cared deeply enough to lock his feelings away for nearly five years (and that was only counting since their reunion in court), then it stood to reason that he would not be able to get involved in something lighthearted. Not that Phoenix was the casual dating type in the first place… he might not have had many girlfriends, but his relationships were always serious.
Granted, Edgeworth didn't exactly seem like a one-night stand kind of guy either… Still, with something of this magnitude, Phoenix found himself wanting to be very careful. He would rather not get involved with Edgeworth at all, if the alternative was a quick fling or casual relationship.
It might be tough, but Phoenix was confident that he would be able to pull away relatively unscathed at this point. He had only realized (under duress) just what he was capable of feeling for Edgeworth – it wasn't as though he'd fallen instantly in love. And Phoenix knew that when he fell, he fell hard. He'd barely managed to recover from the whole Dahlia fiasco – what everyone else had initially blamed on the poison-and-glass mix he had ingested, Phoenix had known to be nothing more or less than a broken heart. He might have been played like a fool, but he truly had loved her – or Iris, at least – and he'd been a mess when it had all gone south.
Phoenix wasn't expecting Edgeworth to secretly be a murdering psycho, nor even to have an evil twin who was a murdering psycho, but there were still many ways a relationship could fail. Some more avoidable than others. Before Phoenix agreed to anything, he needed to know exactly what Edgeworth was offering.
So he decided to ask.
Edgeworth, perhaps discerning Phoenix's epiphany, had remained quiet all this time. However, when Phoenix sighed and turned to look at him, the prosecutor adopted an expectant expression.
"All right, Edgeworth," Phoenix admitted with another small sigh. He had only wanted to stop the leering looks aimed at his butt. Not realize the deep and potentially very painful feelings he had been suppressing for his friend all this time. Why couldn't he ever catch a break? "I… might be open to what you're offering."
Strangely, though his face had been perfectly blank and not wrinkled in the least, Edgeworth's features seemed to smooth out at this admission. That was his only visible reaction, however; he seemed to be keeping himself under tight control. "Might?"
"Yeah," Phoenix said, then took a deep breath. "Depending on what exactly you're offering."
He didn't say anything more, but Edgeworth seemed to understand instantly nonetheless. For the first time since they had sat down, the prosecutor's cheeks tinged a light red, and he glanced down and to his right. His left hand even made an aborted movement towards his right arm, before Edgeworth clenched it around his glass.
"Ah," he said. His voice was a little hoarse, and he immediately took a long drink of his Samurai Soda, then set it down a bit too hard, so that it clinked against the table. "Well…"
All this seemed very promising to Phoenix, but he tried not to harbor any hopes. It was best not to get emotionally invested yet, he reminded himself. Wait for Edgeworth's answer, not just potentially misleading body language.
Edgeworth closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and met Phoenix's gaze. "Much like what you –" he paused, then, with a self-deprecatory quirk to his lips, amended his sentence. "Much like what I believed you to have said earlier in this conversation, I have… I've thought highly of you since childhood. It wasn't always the same nature of admiration, but – but still, it has been for some time."
Edgeworth looked perfectly composed. He was a man of great self-control after all. But even so, his cheeks were growing redder, and his jaw was clenching oddly between words, and he still hadn't let go of his glass. Little tells, but Phoenix always had been good at poker…
"Wright," Edgeworth said. "I l-"
"Here's your check~!"
Edgeworth jerked, and his jaw clacked audibly shut. Phoenix jumped too; he hadn't noticed their waitress approaching at all. Whether that was because she had been particularly stealthy, or simply because all his attention had been focused on Edgeworth, he wasn't sure. Either way, it didn't change the fact that her timing was terrible.
She didn't seem to notice the glares both occupants of the table were shooting her way, merely setting the check down on the table (pointedly close to Edgeworth – Phoenix was willing to bet there was a phone number scribbled on there) and inquiring if she could take their plates.
Phoenix nodded, and handed over his mostly-eaten burger. Maya would scold him endlessly if she found out he hadn't finished all of it, but some stories didn't need to be shared. Edgeworth was a bit too forceful in passing his own plate to the poor girl, and violently slapped a credit card on top of the check before pushing that at her too. She took it somewhat nervously, and scuttled away, casting pouty glances back over her shoulder in confusion.
Edgeworth glared at her until she stopped doing so, then turned back to Phoenix. It wasn't funny – he knew that – but still, it was hard to suppress a chuckle.
He was caught anyway. "Wright," his companion snapped admonishingly, and Phoenix hastily straightened his expression.
"Sorry, sorry. Go on." Phoenix raised his glass encouragingly, then took a swig. Ah, grape juice. Like wine, only not alcoholic, tastier, and much cheaper.
"Y-you – " Edgeworth grit his teeth, then ground out the following words: "I would appreciate it if you would go out with me, Wright."
It was probably the most underwhelming confession Phoenix had ever borne witness to.
His breath still caught.
Honestly, he wasn't very surprised at his own reaction at this point. He did feel a little bit like payback for the teasing he had undergone earlier, though, so Phoenix exerted great effort not to let anything show on his face. "Why?"
Edgeworth's composure finally seemed to snap at that. He snarled, "Because I like you, why else?"
Phoenix opened his mouth… but then shut it without replying. He stood, and leaned forward across the table, reaching past the ketchup bottle to grasp Edgeworth's shoulder. Pulling on it, he drew Edgeworth closer to him until they were both leaning awkwardly into the middle of the table. Edgeworth let himself be moved easily, breathing a bit too quickly – which made up nicely for Phoenix not breathing at all.
It wasn't a very romantic setting, and too public by far, but neither of them really cared. Phoenix wet his lips, then touched them to Edgeworth's, very lightly.
One or both of them shuddered. Maybe Edgeworth, because immediately after, he jerked a hand up to touch Phoenix's cheek. His fingers were disconcertingly smooth, and barely moving, slowly sliding across Phoenix's skin…
There was a loud squeak right next to them, followed by an equally loud thump. Both men leapt back at the sound, to reveal their waitress collapsed on the floor next to their table, check and Edgeworth's credit card clutched to her heaving breast. She seemed to be torn between being highly aroused, and bursting into tears.
Phoenix stared at her for a moment, before collapsing into his seat with his hands over his face. What the hell had he just done? In public! He felt a strong urge to climb under the table, or at the very least hide under his coat. Especially when he glanced up to find the entire diner staring at their booth, most of them with light blushes on their faces. The cook looked to be drooling, and burning another meal in consequence.
Edgeworth, however, was… smiling. Widely. Phoenix almost saw teeth for a moment. The prosecutor cleared his throat, straightened his cravat, then kneeled down to retrieve his credit card from the waitress and tuck it away in his wallet. He left several bills on the table, enough for a generous tip.
Then he turned to Phoenix, and said, in a voice that rang all too loudly throughout the silent diner, "I assume that signified your agreement."
Phoenix groaned into his hands. He'd never be able to come here again.
"…Yeah," he muttered after a moment. "I'm pretty sure I like you too."
It wasn't like he could make things any more humiliating at this point, right? He might as well just say it.
Edgeworth nodded briskly at Phoenix's confession, a gesture that would have looked purely professional were it not for the affection in his eyes. "Shall we go, then? I have a trial in an hour."
Phoenix scooted out of the booth. For some reason, this was all feeling very anticlimactic. Except for the speed at which his heart was still pounding. "Okay."
They walked towards the door. Edgeworth gallantly opened it, as was his habit. Phoenix walked outside.
He stopped. Smiled. "Quit staring at my ass, Edgeworth."
Edgeworth moved up to join Phoenix as they began walking down the street, their shoulders brushing against each other. It was warm outside, and they were both smiling, and Edgeworth made sure to catch Phoenix's eye before he replied: "Never."