The first time Edgeworth attempted to follow that illogical instinct known as his ‘feelings’ and confess his affections, he swallowed his words, and his intentions, before ever giving them voice.
“We’re heading to Kurain when we get back home, Mister Edgeworth!”
“Is that so, Trucy? I’ve heard you and Pearl get along quite well.”
Said feelings were regarding a particular defense attorney – former defense attorney, he bitterly reminded himself. He had finally mustered the courage to face the full truth of his emotions only a scant few months after the unjust revocation of Phoenix Wright’s badge. Having narrowly avoided a similar fate himself in the spring, he understood more than most how much Wright had lost.
His career. His reputation. His identity.
Only Wright hadn’t voluntarily given up his path, or even chosen death; his progress had been cruelly dashed, the pieces of his life falling like chessmen swept away by a capricious zephyr. How quickly Wright’s famous turnabouts had turned to ruin. And Edgeworth’s heart softened, seeing his friend and savior brought so low.
It had already softened considerably since the night Larry called him in a panic to say Wright was in mortal peril.
“I’m sure the village will be delighted to see you and your father.”
“Yeah! Daddy’s going to see Aunt Maya, and he’ll get me a new Mommy!”
The only things that made Wright’s eyes shine now, that brought out a glimmer of his old smile, were the people who still supported him: chiefly, Maya and Pearl Fey, and his newfound daughter Trucy. Near them, the cold, uncaring facade that Phoenix cultivated, the new hardness shielding his too-welcoming heart, slipped away for a little while.
With them, Edgeworth noticed, Phoenix softened.
He wanted Phoenix to soften with him, too.
If the past year had taught Edgeworth anything, it was that circumstances can change in an instant, and that the bonds between people should be cherished. And there was one bond, one person he cherished more than any other.
“A new mother?”
“Uh-huh. My old Mommy disappeared, and then my old Daddy disappeared too. But now I have a new Daddy, and I need a new Mommy to go with him.”
This paradoxical mixture of selfishness and care propelled Edgeworth to invite Phoenix and his daughter to accompany him in Paris near the end of the winter holidays. Christmas itself held no particular meaning for him, but the days after – the time of his father’s death – were always difficult. Emotional.
With both their hearts aching, perhaps they could find comfort together. And so Edgeworth formed his careful designs: a confession, and a vow for commitment. A new year beckoned, and with it came this tempting possibility.
Plans firmly in place, he enjoyed having the Wrights at his side all the days leading up to New Year’s Eve. In the evening he intended to make his feelings known to Wright – to Phoenix.
“So Daddy and Aunt Maya are going to be special someones!”
But late that morning, as Wright slept in and Edgeworth meticulously prepared half a dozen pancakes, Trucy leaned in close and let slip that her father might not appreciate, much less reciprocate, his tender affections.
And all his intentions crumbled to ash.
“O-Oh. I will give them my congratulations.”
Of course Wright would be drawn to his closest friend in his time of sorrow. Who better to comfort him as he dearly needed now? She was a trusted confidant, a role model for his daughter, someone lacking Edgeworth’s own damning foibles and neuroses. A perfect companion, to form a perfect family.
The grey dust settled upon his heart, wrapping it in cloudy despair.
What a fool he had been, to consider otherwise.
“Won’t it be wonderful, Mister Edgeworth? We can be a family together, and we can all come back next year to see you again!”
He would remember that soft look on Phoenix’s face, and in the dark hours of the night, he could pretend it had been for him.
“I will… I will look forward to it, Miss Wright.”
The second time Edgeworth planned to confess his affection to Phoenix Wright, the opportunity did not merely slip through his fingers – it suffered a stinging, violent death.
“Who were you were outside with?”
“What’s that, Wright? Ah. That was Agent Lang.”
After delaying several weeks since the time his heart dulled at that disastrous breakfast, approaching both the point of rudeness as well as the calendar date reserved for insipid displays of emotionality, Edgeworth pushed aside his pride and his pain. He cradled his phone at his ear, forcing words of best wishes past his lips and into Wright’s ear for his newfound relationship with Maya.
The confused laughter that burst over the line nearly deafened him.
Apparently Trucy had spent a bit too much time with Pearls, whose idealization of her cousin’s relationship had colored her new friend’s own interpretations. The dawning understanding that flowed through Edgeworth upon learning that Wright harbored no romantic inclinations toward the new Master of Kurain washed away his anguish with embarrassing efficiency.
It staggered him. It set his heart beating once more, pounding with relief as it shook off the ashes.
It filled him with newfound determination.
“He is a part of Interpol. We have occasion to work together at times.”
“…I guess you have a lot of trust in him.”
Yet relaying his feelings during a simple call seemed inadequate; such a personal confession would lose its significance if merely stated over the phone. A text or email would be worse, trading the intimacy of the written word for the immediacy of reaction – not to mention the lack of other, more subtle cues like the flush of Wright’s face, his sharp intake of breath, the timbre of his voice as he softly murmured Edgeworth’s name…
At times, his own imagination got the better of him.
Even expressing his admiration over a video session, as frequent as those had become, felt disingenuous. For a moment of this magnitude, Edgeworth could not bear to experience it without Wright’s physical presence. Not divided by an ocean, not disconnected by the whims of time zones, but in person – together, Phoenix within his arms’ reach. The very thought brought a blush to his own cheeks.
And so he devised a new plan.
“Yes. He is quite helpful in uncovering the truth.”
“Like we used to do.”
He waited, until a confounding and utterly ridiculous case came into his grasp in Berlin. The investigation and impending trial was of sufficient complexity that none would question his desire for an outside perspective. Not to mention the fact that the evidence and witness shenanigans aligned well with Wright’s experienced courtroom lunacy. Seeking aid for circumstances less than this would be an insult to the strange brilliance Wright exhibited – and again, Edgeworth cursed the justice system for discarding such genius so callously.
It was a simple matter to convince the man to bring his daughter along to Europe once more and act as a legal consultant.
The fact that the case’s timing fell across the winter holidays once more was left unsaid.
“He called you ‘Pretty Boy.’”
“What of it?”
“Just surprised you let him, I guess.”
Sweet-tinged nostalgia coursed through his veins as he and Wright collaborated, side-by-side once more. The easy back-and-forth, the unorthodox arguments, the unexpected insights; the way Wright’s voice rang out in confidence, Wright’s triumphant smirk, the gleam in Phoenix’s eyes: Edgeworth missed their trials with an intensity rivaled only by his more personal yearnings. And until Phoenix was restored to his former glory, he was content to assist in keeping Wright ready to stand in court once more.
He would be a stable force, a steadfast, steadying support. Wright could lean on him, and endure.
The softness, the longing in his heart continued to grow. Perhaps his previous intention to confess on New Year’s Eve could come to fruition this year.
Yet those hopes disintegrated that particular evening as he was confronted in his foyer.
“Is there something you wish to say, Wright?”
“…Yeah. I don’t need your pity, Edgeworth. Why don’t you keep working with your new partner? You don’t need me here.”
Confusion roiled through Edgeworth as his plan backfired spectacularly.
Wright’s voice sounded uncharacteristically sharp, piercing Edgeworth like a wicked blade and leaving a jagged, weeping wound across his heart. Wright should sound optimistic. Wright should sound hopeful. He should sound insufferably happy.
Once again Phoenix’s fire had been smothered, reduced to mere embers. Edgeworth’s tenderness and consideration had somehow soured in Wright’s eyes. Cynicism and hardness did not suit his once-bright savior. Yet Edgeworth was given no chance to re-stoke or warm the flame; Wright shouldered past him, features contorted into a scowl.
He did not return until well after the countdown had finished.
“We’re heading back in the morning.”
The new year dawned, cold and lonely.
Given the previous two years’ disastrous results, Edgeworth was caught unprepared for the remarkable events of his third and most significant New Year’s Eve spent in the company of Phoenix Wright.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you, Miles.”
“Oh? What is on your mind?”
Weeks had passed, empty and hollow, without any contact between them once Wright returned to Los Angeles with his daughter. Edgeworth allowed the distance to remain, at least until he puzzled out the reason for Wright’s sudden and dramatic departure. Yet the mystery was resolved – if not to his complete understanding, then at least with definite satisfaction – when Wright himself sent a message, asking for a video session.
Wright’s apology had been alarmingly candid, the dam of his emotions finally cracking. Everything Edgeworth feared had quietly crept upon Phoenix, ambushing him at his lowest: feelings of inadequacy, of shame, of jealousy (and oh, it was difficult to tame his heart at that admittance, that such envy was more professional than romantic). Wright’s darker seeds of doubt had flourished into a poisonous weed when he believed Edgeworth’s invitation had been offered out of piteous sympathy.
How eager Edgeworth had been to correct that misconception.
“I’m happy you asked me again. Trucy already promised to stay with Pearls in Kurain, and I’m… I’m really looking forward to it.”
Wright took his fervent rebuttals to heart. Perhaps a different confession was what Wright had truly needed: one of confidence, and admiration, and respect. That their bond transcended debt and favors, born as it was of incomparable trust.
That he was not a disgrace; that he was valued.
That he was, in fact, cherished could be revealed once their wounds fully recovered.
Strangely, Edgeworth’s words had a greater effect than mere reassurance. The connection between them was not only repaired, but strengthened. With Edgeworth, Phoenix remained close: closer than the time he pressed his badge into Edgeworth’s palm, closer than when he cursed Edgeworth’s name and wished he had stayed dead, closer than when he offered his unflinching trust on the opposite side of the holding cell’s glass.
Closer than the time his eyes shone in a far away classroom, staring at Miles with tear-stained cheeks.
The mask descended when Wright interacted with anyone but his daughter, and the Feys – and, he could finally recognize, with Edgeworth himself. The epiphany struck with force: Phoenix had never softened with him.
He had never needed to.
“I admit, I am also eager for the end of the month.”
Wright began calling him Miles.
And the sensation of Phoenix passing his lips was electrifying.
“It may sound foolish, Phoenix, but I had begun to fear this time of year would always be miserable.”
Edgeworth had wanted to offer comfort; he had wanted to offer stability; he had wanted to rescue Wright the same way Phoenix had saved him. Now, the third year after the loss of Wright’s badge, Edgeworth realized he wanted Phoenix just as he was – his equal. His partner.
His unintentional pretensions cast aside, Edgeworth’s next New Year’s invitation to Rome was offered un-couched in the trappings of mutual sympathy or needed expertise. He had formed no grand plans, had made no designs. Instead, he freely declared the truth of his overture:
He wanted Phoenix at his side.
His pulse quickened as the image of Phoenix on his laptop screen, caught off-guard shortly after awakening, blushed and accepted his request once more.
A new year. A new opportunity.
And an old friend, long desired.
“Perhaps this time, things can change.”
Five minutes remained until midnight: the close of one year, and the beginning of the next.
Five minutes till Edgeworth would finally speak his truth.
Low light filtered into the room, accompanied by the distant roar of the jubilant crowds thronging the streets. Despite the night’s chill, heat seeped through Edgeworth. The prosecco might have contributed to the sudden flush on his face. Or perhaps it was proximity – both physical and emotional – that reddened his cheeks.
Beside him on the sofa, Phoenix maneuvered a bit closer beneath their shared blanket – near enough to touch, for their hands to brush and warmth to spread from that point of contact throughout Edgeworth’s fingers and arms and chest, spearing straight to his heart. It nearly stopped completely when Phoenix allowed his head to fall slack, resting against Edgeworth’s shoulder.
What kind thief had robbed him of his personal space? What charitable burglar stole away his breath? What puckish criminal trespassed the boundaries they so-carefully navigated, and sighed against him in what he dearly hoped were notes of pleasure?
An exquisite rogue, a creature of hard masks and bright, soft fire, cherished and adored.
Circumstances can change in an instant.
“I was jealous.”
The words were soft: a murmur, a revelation.
“You needn’t explain again, Phoenix.”
And yet, his traitorous ears pined for more.
“Agent Lang. I thought–” A quiet hitch, muscles turning rigid against him. “I thought you had replaced me.”
“There is no one who could–”
“Not that way. Not just that way.”
Closer still; the warmth of Phoenix was nigh unbearable, a torturous pleasure. He hardly dared breathe, half-certain his eyes remained fast asleep and his dreams whispered these sweet sentiments.
“I was jealous that he meant more to you.”
A glance down revealed only the deceptively soft spikes of Phoenix’s locks. Those eyes, the ones that so beguiled him, shied away. How he wished to see them, to drown in a beautiful ocean of blue. Thus his lips spoke without his permission, spilling his secrets in turn, eager to share in this softness and exchange one tenderness for another.
“I envied your relationship with Miss Fey, and the prospect of it becoming more.”
They were both laid bare, vulnerable yet stronger for it. Unsteady, but certain. Equal, together. Silence lingered between them, rich and full of possibility.
It was broken by the raucous, rhythmic chanting of the masses, bidding a final farewell to each second.
“Dieci! Nove! Otto!”
His breath stuttered as Phoenix shifted against him. Edgeworth shut his eyes, shut out all save his pounding pulse and the formless jumble of his emotions.
“Sette! Sei! Cinque! Quattro!”
Only the countdown remained, and he would utter the words to tilt the world.
“Tre! Due! Uno!”
At last, he would confess.
“Felice anno nuovo!”
“Phoenix Wright, I–”
Warmth: soft, warm lips pressed to his, stemming his words with gentle intimacy. A moment of stunned surprise, of wondrous awe, of dizzying and tumultuous upheaval as Phoenix Wright finished his own confession with nary a single superfluous word.
Then the world did indeed turn on its axis, and Miles Edgeworth responded in kind.
He had envisioned a shocked embarrassment, a shy acceptance; he had pictured an eager approval, a ravenous and frenzied reaction; yet reality proved wholly insubordinate to his meager imaginings. One kiss flowed into another, a slow and heartfelt exploration that nonetheless left Edgeworth breathless. A touch of tongue, and he was utterly lost.
How he had longed for this kiss. Dreamt of it. Yearned, with all the illogical emotion beholden to the heart. To feel Phoenix, taste him, share his heart and his desire and his life. How did one proceed when they gained their most passionate wish? Perhaps they forever lived in the moment, allowing a shadow of themselves to move forth while they basked in pleasure all the rest of their days.
At last they parted, an easy ebb, though they shared a reluctance to fully withdraw. Only the sounds of their ragged breaths, and the cheers outside, disturbed their elation.
Neither could identify who moved first, but the result was more than satisfactory: Phoenix pushed closer, daring to press all of his body, all of his warmth and fire, against Edgeworth; and Edgeworth, heart emboldened, dared to pull Phoenix across his thighs and into his lap, chest-to-chest, heart-to-heart.
Their foreheads touched together. The tender, fond smile gracing Phoenix’s lips, barely visible from the close angle, ignited Edgeworth’s fervor.
“You are the only one I want, Phoenix.”
His words, closely guarded for so long, reveled in their freedom.
“I’ve wanted you my whole life, Miles.”
How his heart soared, mirroring the flight of the fireworks let loose outside the windows.
The resulting kiss sealed their intentions.
One by one their garments were shed, and Edgeworth thrilled at the touch of bare skin beneath his fingertips. He delighted in the sounds wrought from those wonderful lips, the gasps and groans and litany of ways his own name emerged, breathed like an ardent prayer to some forgotten deity.
The memory of Phoenix, shaking with need and trembling at his peak, would remain forever etched onto Edgeworth’s heart.
Such was his own pleasure, given wholeheartedly and without reservation. He keened at Phoenix’s lips, pressing so intimately against him. Clever fingers, and a sinfully warm mouth, drew out his own reverent exaltation, so much the better knowing the passions of his heart were reciprocated.
And afterwards, another reverie was delivered to his waking world: the sight of Phoenix, soft and satisfied, beckoning him into his own bed.
They lay together, simply breathing, for a long while.
“Happy New Year, Miles.”
“Happy New Year, Phoenix.”
With his arms encircled around Phoenix’s waist, he allowed the steady beat of his partner’s heart to lull him to sleep.