Phoenix loves his job. He loves the challenge, the thrill, the relentless search for the truth. He loves helping the people no one else will help, loves making people’s lives better. But he also loves lazy Sunday afternoons, when it’s pushing two o’clock and he still hasn’t changed out of his pajamas.
“Daddy,” Trucy says, swanning into the living room. She’s been out and back already this morning, running errands and enjoying the springtime weather. “When’s the last time you went out?”
He tips his head over the back of the couch to look at her, one eyebrow raised. “Yesterday? For the Rowels trial? You were there.”
“Okay, let me rephrase this,” she tries, circling the couch to flop down next to him, “when’s the last time you went out and it wasn’t for work?”
“It’s Sunday!” he argues. Trucy just looks at him, all expectant and concerned, so he sighs and tries to remember. “Uh, I guess when Maya was last in town.”
Trucy nods. “And how long ago was that?”
Phoenix winces. “Three weeks?”
“Uh-huh. You’re giving me the frowns, Daddy. You’re a young man! You just got your badge back! You got a fancy new suit! You gotta put yourself out there!” Her face is a study in determination, her hands clenched into tenacious little fists. “Find yourself a special someone!”
“What?” His eyes widen, then narrow in suspicion. “Have you been talking to Pearls?”
“The clock is ticking!”
“My biological clock?”
She opens her mouth, then closes it abruptly, tilting her head to the side. “I guess you already have a kid.”
“I guess I do,” he affirms, wearing a bemused grin. “What the heck brought this on?”
“I don’t know,” she says, fists falling into her lap. “I was just talking with Pearly, and she was saying how she used to think you and Mystic Maya were going to get married and have babies, and then I realized that as far as I know you haven’t been in a relationship since you adopted me. That’s a long time!”
“I guess I haven’t really thought about it,” Phoenix admits, frowning. “I mean, I was so busy with you, and then with the MASON System and trying to clear my name… I’ve hardly had time, I guess.”
“Well you’ve got time now, right? I mean with Apollo and Athena on the team, it’s not like you’ve gotta do everything on your own any more. Call your friends! Go to a bar! Go outside! Meet some people!”
“Yeah, alright,” he relents, reaching out to ruffle her hair. She makes a face, immediately smoothing it back down. “I guess I’ve heard worse advice.”
“Hey! Of course you have! My advice is excellent!”
“So she thinks I should put myself out there,” Phoenix says, hands around a warm pint of Hoegaarden. “Maybe she’s right.”
Larry nods, bringing a hand to his chin in a gesture that is probably supposed to make him look thoughtful. “You’re out right now, man.”
“I think she means on the dating scene.”
“If you wanna buy my drinks, you can tell her this was a date.”
Phoenix rolls his eyes, tipping back the last swig of his beer. He ignores Larry, continuing, “I haven’t been on a date in--Jesus. Over a decade. I’m not sure I remember what to do. How to meet people, even.”
“Oh, that’s the easy part, man. We live in a glorious age of technology.”
Phoenix cocks an eyebrow in confusion, gesturing to the bartender for another round as Larry pats down his pockets. He pulls out his phone and starts tapping at it, then slides it across the bar to Phoenix.
“What am I looking at?” The screen is tiled with young, attractive faces. “You know I’m no good with this stuff.”
“It’s a dating app.” Larry reaches over and taps on one of the tiles, and the image enlarges, white text appearing over the face of a smiling brunette. “It’s location-based, so it shows you the profiles of people nearby.”
“That seems… kind of creepy.”
“Nah dude, it’s efficient. You want some female companionship on Friday, BOOM! There’s a girl down the block looking for a good time, all you gotta do is buy her a drink.”
Phoenix picks up the phone, looking through the profiles. “You’ve met girls with this?”
Larry’s mouth spreads into a wide, lecherous grin. “Oh ho ho, Nicky, have I ever met girls.”
“I wouldn’t even know how to use it,” Phoenix says, handing the phone back to Larry.
“Here, give me your phone, I’ll set it up for you.”
“I don’t kno--” Phoenix starts, but then Larry’s reaching into the inner pocket of Phoenix’s jacket, helping himself.
“Listen, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep using it,” he assures, fingers a blur of movement over the screen, “but I’m telling you, you will definitely meet someone--someones. And here, look, I’ll even download the gay version in case you want some mano a mano action.”
“...I don’t think that means what you think it means.”
“Well whatever, now you’ve got a buffet full of choices. I’m the best friend you’ve ever had, I know, you’re totally welcome.”
And really, it’s not like Phoenix intends to use the thing. But when he gets home that night, tired and more than a little drunk, his curiosity gets the best of him and he opens up the first app Larry showed him, Blendr. He learns that there are apparently a good number of attractive, single and looking individuals in the immediate area, and that he is far too timid to actually message a single one of them.
When he tires of the pages and pages of smiling, fresh-faced men and women, he closes the app and opens Grindr instead. Here he’s met not only with perfectly cropped headshots, but with tightly framed shots of tanned, toned abs and muscular biceps. He taps to enlarge a particularly appealing six-pack, feeling a little guilty for his lechery, when he gets a message.
hey hottie what you on here for
Phoenix stares dumbly at the message, not sure what it’s asking or how to respond. He’s still staring at it when another message comes in.
you wanna suck on this cock
Mortified, he closes the app.
So the thing is, it’s been a long time. Like, a long time. And over the next few days, he finds himself poking around the apps more and more--Grindr, mostly, because usually someone messages him within five minutes of signing in, and that’s a hell of a lot easier than working up the courage to start a conversation himself.
Of course, that means there’s a lot of separating the wheat from the chaff, but another week and he’s been chatting with this one guy for a few days now, flirty but not desperate, suggestive but nothing crude. The guy’s a bit older than him, with a warm smile and soft gray hair that frames a handsome face. They seem to get along well--and though Phoenix would never, ever admit it, last night he jerked off thinking about those smiling lips around his cock--and Phoenix is starting to think that maybe he’d like to meet the guy for real. But when he suggests as much, Jared goes dark, and Phoenix doesn’t hear from him again.
“What the hell?” Phoenix asks, not specifically of Larry but of the universe in general. They’re at the bar again, splitting a pitcher of the cheap domestic swill Larry always favors. “I thought this was supposed to be easy.”
“I don’t know, man. I’d have thought two dudes hooking up, that’d be even easier.”
Phoenix makes a face. “I mean if I just wanted to hook up, I’ve got like ten guys a day willing to blow me at the time and location of my choosing. I’m not expecting true love, but I’d at least like to know something about the guy.”
“Nick,” Larry says, shaking his head fondly. “Oh Nick, Nick, Nicky Nick Nick. You are adorable.”
“What?” Phoenix demands, face heating. “I don’t think that’s unreasonable.”
“These apps are for hooking up, dude, not making friends.”
Phoenix’s jaw drops. “You said they were dating apps!”
“Same thing, dude.”
Phoenix covers his face with his hands, groaning. “Oh god, that explains so much.”
When he gets home that night, he turns off the chat feature the way Larry showed him and just browses the profiles. There’s this one guy, SilverSamurai, who keeps showing up on Phoenix’s feed. He’s always a bit deeper down the list when Phoenix is at home than during the day, but he’s always there. His only picture is of his abdomen, starting at his chest and stopping at his open fly. He’s wearing black Calvin Kleins beneath his maroon dress pants, his long, slender fingers disappearing just below the waistband. His stomach is flat but not especially muscular, his skin a pale, creamy white that makes Phoenix’s mouth water. Though at this point he generally finds these headless shots kind of tacky, SilverSamurai sort of does it for him.
That the photo reminds him of a certain prosecutor is a fact not lost on him. Though of course the idea that Edgeworth would even know a service like Grindr exists, much less use it, is laughable.
But what the hell, he’s sort of drunk, Jared flaked out on him, and SilverSamurai is online. He turns his chat back on and sends a message.
you’re up late
Long minutes pass with no reply, and just when Phoenix figures the guy is going to ignore him entirely, his phone chirps with a new message alert.
I’m terribly sorry, but I’m not interested. Please don’t contact me again.
Well fuck. That’s what he gets for trying. Doesn’t mean he can’t jerk off to the guy’s picture before he goes to sleep, though.
“Hey Boss, what’s got you so engrossed?” Athena asks, hopping over to him. He quickly tucks his phone back into his pocket.
“Ah, nothing important. Why don’t we go over our notes again?”
They’re in the defendant's lobby, and for once the trial’s going in their favor, so he’d indulged himself for a minute and logged into Grindr. And to his great surprise, SilverSamurai was at the front of his list, only twenty-seven feet away--the closest they’ve ever been, as far as Phoenix can remember. His mind is racing, trying to figure out who his mystery man could be, if maybe he’s already seen him today. Athena’s going on about the case, making some good points about how a piece of witness testimony doesn’t quite add up, and all Phoenix can think about is whether SilverSamurai’s checked his account, if he knows how close they are to each other.
But then court’s back in session, and Phoenix manages to pull it together, pushing such silly drama from his mind. He’s forgotten about it entirely when his cell phone trills with the distinctive chime of a Grindr notification. And across the courtroom, Edgeworth’s eyes go wide, as if he recognizes the sound. Phoenix gives him a long, confused look as he apologizes to the judge and sets his phone to vibrate, and then it hits him.
Edgeworth does recognize that sound.
Edgeworth is SilverSamurai.
“You’re on Grindr?” Phoenix asks, letting himself into Edgeworth’s office. Edgeworth, still methodically unloading the contents of his suitcase, scowls.
“Shouldn’t you be back at your own office, completing your own post-trial paperwork?”
“That’s what I’ve got rookies for,” Phoenix says dismissively. “You totally shot me down the other night.”
Edgeworth sighs, shrugging out of his jacket and taking a seat behind his desk. “It would have been inappropriate for me to engage you when you had no idea to whom you were actually speaking.”
“So you admit it!”
“There’s hardly any sense in denying it, is there?”
Phoenix gapes a little--he’d expected Edgeworth to put up more of a fight. “What the heck are you doing on Grindr?”
“The same thing as you are, I’d imagine,” he replies, a gentle blush flushing his cheeks.
“Yeah, but I didn’t post a shot of my hot bod with my hand down my pants.”
Edgeworth’s cheeks go redder still. “It would hardly do for a man in my position to be caught using such an application; a little anonymity is an unfortunate necessity. You should consider changing your own picture as well.”
Phoenix considers this. Possibly it’s good advice, but what he says is, “So then you wouldn’t have known it was me and you would have unwittingly sent me a dick pic or something?”
“I certainly do not send compromising photos of myself to strangers!” Edgeworth huffs, offended. “Tell me you haven’t been--”
“No!” Phoenix interjects quickly. “No, I just-- You’re on there for an hour, you’re going to get a dick pic from someone whether you want it or not.”
“Yes, I suppose that’s true,” Edgeworth allows. “It’s rather distasteful.”
“Says the man with his hand down his pants,” Phoenix mutters, and Edgeworth feels his blush spread up into his ears. “So what do you even do on there, then, if you’re trying to stay anonymous?
“I have no intention of answering that,” Edgeworth manages, feeling as if his whole body’s on fire, he’s so incredibly mortified.
“Well at least help me figure out what all these acronyms mean, I have no clue what I’m doing on this thing.”
“Out,” Edgeworth says, calmly but firmly. At Phoenix’s shocked expression, he repeats, “Out. I have work to do, and this conversation is wholly inappropriate. You are welcome back tomorrow, when my work is complete and you’ve come up with a more acceptable topic of discussion."
So naturally the first thing he does when he signs in that night is search for SilverSamurai. He hadn’t actually expected to have any luck--though Phoenix hasn’t yet figured out how to do it, Larry tells him it’s possible to block other people from seeing your profile, and he assumed Edgeworth would have done just that after he realized Phoenix was on to him. But there’s SilverSamurai, three pages into his list, and Phoenix doesn’t hesitate to send him a message.
so what does bb mean?
Like the first time, it takes Edgeworth a while to respond. But he does respond.
It means bareback.
Phoenix is quick to write back.
no bb, eh? glad to see you’re keeping it responsible. what about dl?
The reply comes more quickly this time.
Phoenix stares at his screen for a minute, feeling a strange sadness come over him. Not because Edgeworth is interested in casual sex--it’s strange to think of, sure, but for all he seems inaccessible and above such simple desires, he’s still only human--but that he feels the need to be so secretive about it, like he thinks he has something to be ashamed of.
This seems like a conversation too big for their current medium, but Phoenix doesn’t want to just leave it hanging, either, so he takes a chance and dials Edgeworth’s number.
“Wright,” Edgeworth answers, clearly annoyed. “What could you possibly want now?”
“I just-- Why on the down-low?”
Edgeworth sighs, and he doesn’t answer right away. Phoenix waits, patient, and eventually Edgeworth says, “There is a lot of scrutiny placed on the prosecutor’s office these last few years, as you are well aware. I am keenly aware of my responsibilities as Chief Prosecutor, and it wouldn’t do for me to start a scandal simply because I enjoy having sex. Therefore I try to exercise as much caution as possible.”
“Why would it cause a scandal? The world’s not the same place it was when we were kids, thank god. No one’s going to care that you’re gay.”
“It’s not my homosexuality that I assume to be an issue,” Edgeworth clarifies, “but rather the number of partners I have taken to my bed and the means through which I have pursued them.”
Phoenix’s mind boggles a bit at this new knowledge of Edgeworth as a sexual being--while on some level he’d known that Edgeworth was no blushing virgin, he hadn’t expected him to be so comfortable with his own sexuality.
“Wright?” Edgeworth asks, nervous, when Phoenix doesn’t immediately respond.
“I-- Yeah, okay, I guess that makes a kind of sense. It just seems so depressing though, sneaking around, always having to be so careful.”
“It’s not ideal,” Edgeworth admits, “but unfortunately my schedule doesn't grant me the time to meet men through more traditional avenues. Is that not why you signed up for the service?”
Phoenix lets out an embarrassed laugh. “Actually, Larry kind of got me into it.”
“Ah, I should have known. When something smells--”
“--it’s usually the Butz,” they finish together. An awkward silence comes over them, until eventually Edgeworth says, “It’s getting rather late, and I have another case lined up for tomorrow.”
“Oh, yeah, of course. Sorry. I’ll, uh, I’ll let you go.”
“Good night, Wright.”
“Good night, Edgeworth,” Phoenix says, but it’s a long while before he falls asleep.
“So I have to say, I’m sort of surprised that you use all that internet lingo,” Phoenix says. From his desk, Edgeworth lets out an annoyed huff.
“I’m not especially fond of it, but unfortunately there are times when you must conform to certain expected standards in order to get what you want.”
Phoenix nods, flipping through the notes he’s supposed to be reviewing without actually seeing anything on the page. “Where’d you even learn that stuff in the first place? Until I asked you about it, I hadn’t been able to decipher any of it.”
“Yes, I find that unsurprising. The difference between you and me, you see, is that I know how to use a search engine.”
so how would you feel about something that wasn’t on the dl?
Phoenix hits send before he can second guess himself. This is probably a terrible idea, but Edgeworth never did block him, and neither did he ever indicate that he originally rebuffed Phoenix for any reason other than a sense of moral obligation. And they’ve been spending so much time together lately, unexpectedly bonding over this whole Grindr thing.
This time, Edgeworth’s reply is immediate.
If it were something serious, something long-term, I would see no need to be discrete.
Phoenix considers this, considers how he should best respond so as not to scare Edgeworth off, and then another message comes in.
Why do you ask?
And he’s probably not going to get a better setup than that, so he just goes for it.
i was just thinking that i’d be terrible at discretion. i wouldn’t want to be the one to get you caught out.
He holds his breath, waiting for a reply, and jumps about a foot and half when his phone rings in his hand.
“What exactly are you implying?” Edgeworth asks.
“Oh, this was a lot easier when we weren’t actually speaking,” Phoenix says, running his mouth before his mind can catch up. “I mean, uh.”
“Out with it,” Edgeworth presses.
“You know why I first messaged SilverSamurai?” Phoenix asks, closing his eyes against his embarrassment.
“I haven’t the slightest.”
“The picture reminded me of you.”
The silence that stretches between them is unbearable, but Phoenix can’t find the courage to say anything more, and so he waits out the agonizing seconds until Edgeworth finally says, “Why now?”
“Before you seemed-- Unavailable. I didn’t think you’d be interested.”
“Now I’m hoping I was wrong.”
There’s another long pause, and then Edgeworth confirms, “Indeed, you were incorrect.”
Phoenix lets out a relieved laugh. "Oh thank god, I was afraid I was about to make a complete ass of myself.”
“That remains to be seen,” Edgeworth says, but his voice is teasing. “So what now?”
“I guess I could send you a dick pic.”
“Don’t you dare.”