“Wright?” Edgeworth sounds almost surprised when he walks out of the detention center to find Phoenix Wright sitting on the sidewalk outside, waiting. The day is nearing its end and the streetlights are already on, the cloudy sky overhead casting the city in shadow. “I thought you were going out to celebrate.”
“Oh, hey Edgeworth.” Phoenix looks up at the sound of Edgeworth's shoes against the pavement, a tired smile on his face. “I did, actually, but I, uh, I couldn’t stop worrying about you.” His expression is sheepish, one hand fidgeting at the back of his neck. “You know. A lot happened today. I wanted to check in.”
“So you’re here out of the goodness of your heart, I suppose.” There’s a harsh edge to the prosecutor’s voice, despite everything, and Phoenix flinches visibly. “I don’t need your pity, Wright.”
“How about my friendship, then?” Phoenix stands slowly, stretching, and looks Edgeworth over with crossed arms. The prosecutor looks exhausted, paler than usual, dark circles under his eyes and the sleeve of his suit wrinkled from worrying. His expression is somewhere between confused and accusatory; Phoenix puts up a hand to stop the protests he’s sure are coming. “And seriously, you don’t owe me anything. You've already thanked me. I’m not gonna make you buy me a drink or anything,” Phoenix chuckles, “Gumshoe already had that covered. I really just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
Edgeworth rocks forward and back on the heels of his shoes, uncertain. “I’m... I will be fine,” he says, slowly, looking up and down the street. “Although I believe my car may still be parked at Gourd Lake.”
“Ouch.” Phoenix grimaces. “You’re probably gonna have a ton of parking tickets.”
“Indeed.” Edgeworth sighs, running one hand through his hair to push it back out of his eyes. He looks up at the dark sky. “It appears there’s a storm on the way,” he comments.
“Ah.” Phoenix follows his gaze to the clouds above, rolling by in waves of grey and bruise-purple. The air is heavy and humid and getting colder the later into the night it gets. “I only live a few blocks from here, if you—” Edgeworth cuts him off with a piercing glare.
“That’s quite alright, Wright. I will survive walking across town alone to retrieve my car.”
“I know, but—”
A rumble of thunder cuts them both off this time, and Edgeworth frowns, looking back up at the sky. A single cold drop falls on his face; for a long moment he stands there, frozen, before the downpour starts. Both of them are soaked through in a matter of seconds.
“Which way is your apartment, Wright?”
Edgeworth follows him the three blocks to his home, both half-running in the freezing rain. Phoenix is only a little out of breath when he reaches the door to his building, flinging it open and pulling a shivering Miles Edgeworth into the foyer with him as he fumbles for his keys with shaking fingers.
“Ugh, sorry,” Phoenix mutters as he tries to steady his hand enough to get the key into the door. “It’s cold.”
Edgeworth just nods.
“What, no sarcasm about how I’m stating the obvious?” Phoenix’s joking is somewhat impaired by how hard his teeth are chattering.
“Just get the door open, Wright.”
Phoenix finds himself somewhat at a loss the moment Edgeworth enters his apartment, arms wrapped tightly around himself and shivering. They’re both soaked to the bone, and the apartment is awfully chilly after being empty for the day. Phoenix kicks off his shoes and goes to turn on the radiator in the tiny living room before returning to find Edgeworth still standing at the door, looking a lot like a lost kitten. A grumpy, wet lost kitten.
“Your shoes will dry faster if you take ‘em off, you know,” Phoenix offers. “I can grab you a dry change of clothes too, if you want. We probably wear about the same size.”
Edgeworth looks up at him, eyes wide.
“A-are you sure that's necessary, Wright?”
“If you wanna sit on any of my furniture, I’d prefer you do it in dry clothes. Anyway, you’ll get sick if you don't warm up.”
Edgeworth grumbles a halfhearted protest as Phoenix ducks into his bedroom and rummages through his dresser for something dry and appropriately sized for Edgeworth. He can’t imagine the man in anything but that frilly red getup he wears to court, but Phoenix figures his last plain button-down will have to do, since he hasn’t gotten to laundry yet this week and has very little else that’s clean. He grabs a hoodie for himself and kicks the door closed, changing quickly and hanging his wet clothes in the bathroom before returning to the entryway and offering Edgeworth a change of clothes.
“The bathroom’s right through there,” he gestures around the bedroom door, “you can hang your stuff up to dry in there.”
Edgeworth clears his throat, looking down at the half-folded shirt and pants Phoenix has deposited into his arms. “Thank you, Wright.”
They stand there for a moment in an awkward silence before Phoenix realizes he’s blocking the doorway and sidesteps to let Edgeworth through. The door clicks shut behind him, and Phoenix paces into the kitchen, sticking his head into the doorway of the living room to see if the radiator has kicked on yet.
Phoenix rubs his hands up and down his arms, trying in vain to warm himself up. The tile floor of the kitchen is cold against his bare feet as he paces back and forth before throwing open one of the cabinets to see if any of his mugs are clean. He would kill for a hot drink right now.
Making up his mind, Phoenix returns to the bedroom and knocks lightly on the door. When there’s no answer, he cracks it open just slightly, not wanting to alarm Edgeworth. Obviously, he’s not trying to walk in on the man, but he somehow manages to do it anyway.
Just as he opens the bedroom door, Edgeworth emerges from the attached bathroom, a towel around his shoulders, hair damp and mussed by the rain, shirt still unbuttoned. Phoenix can’t help staring; Edgeworth is just as broad without the tailored suitjacket Phoenix is used to seeing him in, and the slight sheen of his skin, still damp from the rain, draws Phoenix's eyes across his chest, falling on two long, thin white scars that span his ribcage, just below the line of his pectorals.
“Whoa,” Phoenix says, fascinated. He takes a small step into the bedroom, standing half over the threshold. “What happened?” He immediately regrets speaking when Edgeworth jumps, startled at his voice, and whirls to face him with an accusatory look.
“Wright!” He hurries to finish buttoning up the shirt Phoenix lent him. It’s light blue, almost white, and Phoenix can’t help thinking the color suits him. “You could knock, you know.”
“It’s my apartment,” Phoenix says, though his words come out sounding less like a joke than he wanted. “Sorry. I meant the scars.”
Edgeworth blinks owlishly at him, expression blank.
“I mean, uh, I think it’s cool,” Phoenix continues, stumbling over his words. “I’ve got a big scar on my knee from crashing a bike in high school. It probably shouldn’t have scarred, honestly, but I couldn’t stop picking at the scab.” He shrugs, running a hand through his damp hair. “I just... you know. People with scars usually have interesting stories about them.”
Edgeworth’s expression remains unchanged for a moment, his hands still hovering at the top button of his shirt. Then he says, “oh,” almost like a laugh, and shakes his head, an inch of tension dropping from his shoulders. His hair falls in his eyes, and he’s quiet for what feels like too long.
“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be weird about it. You don't have to—”
“They’re surgical scars, Wright.” Edgeworth cuts him off, glancing back up at him, a strange look on his face. Phoenix feels his eyebrows scrunching up as he tries to untangle the meaning in Edgeworth’s tone, his expression, the way he says it so matter-of-factly; he thinks he must be missing some vital piece of information, because it isn’t clicking.
Edgeworth must see the confusion on his face; his eyes widen for just a moment, then soften, one corner of his lips twitching almost imperceptibly upward.
“I... ah. I thought you must know.” He looks away, then, as if staring at something far distant. Phoenix watches as Edgeworth crosses and uncrosses his arms, one hand absentmindedly gripping the opposite arm tightly, wrinkling his borrowed shirt.
“It’s okay. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.” Phoenix leans one shoulder against the door frame, trying to diffuse the tension he feels hanging in the air around him like the stormclouds outside his window. “I just came to ask if you wanted something hot to drink. I’ve got coffee and a couple different kinds of tea, and I might still have a few packets of hot chocolate mix if Maya hasn’t found them yet.”
Edgeworth looks back to him. “Do you have chamomile?”
He paces back out to the kitchen, bare feet quiet against the tile. He frowns at his shoes in the entryway next to Edgeworth's, both pairs soaked through, and wonders if they’ll be dry enough to wear by the time Edgeworth leaves. Probably not, Phoenix thinks to himself as he grabs the tea kettle and pushes aside some dirty dishes to start it filling in the sink. It all depends on how long Edgeworth stays.
Phoenix feels something jump in his stomach at the thought, a jolt like falling from somewhere high, and he bites the inside of his cheek. How long is too long to ask Edgeworth to stay? It’s a Wednesday, but it’s still storming; Phoenix can see the dark clouds still rolling past the little window above his kitchen sink. Should he ask Edgeworth to stay until the storm passes? Until his clothes and shoes are dry?
Should he ask him to stay the night?
Phoenix shakes his head at his reflection in the dark window, pushing back a strand of hair that’s fallen over his face. He’ll let Edgeworth stay as long as he likes, of course, but there’s no point in asking him to stay that long. He’ll probably refuse.
Phoenix turns off the water and sets the kettle on the stove, grabbing some mugs from the cupboard with the creaky hinge and looking through the boxes of tea piled haphazardly next to the toaster. He finds the chamomile with only one packet left and grabs a bag of some kind of lemon green tea that had been sitting at the office for too long past its expiration date for himself.
He doesn’t hear Edgeworth's footsteps, but the sudden presence behind him in the kitchen is unmistakeable.
“Wright. May I... borrow a blanket?”
Phoenix doesn’t turn, too busy opening tea bags and looping the tags around the handles of the mugs so they don't fall in.
“There’s a couple on the sofa. You can borrow some slippers, too, if you’re cold.”
“I— ah, no, that’s quite alright.”
Phoenix glances behind him in time to see Edgeworth vanish into the living room, arms wrapped around himself as if trying to keep warm.
Maybe the tea was a good idea.
Phoenix leans against the kitchen counter as he waits for the water to boil, watching the clouds whip by outside the window, sheets of rain falling at nearly a forty-five degree angle in the wind. This time, he’s too absorbed in his worrying about the weather to notice Edgeworth’s sudden presence next to him.
“It doesn’t look like the storm will let up anytime soon,” Edgeworth comments, his voice flat. Phoenix jumps, just a little, and turns to find Edgeworth standing in the kitchen doorway with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He looks like hell, Phoenix thinks, his hair still damp and messy despite Edgeworth’s apparent attempts to smooth it back into place. His shoulders and hands shake just slightly from the chill.
There’s no way Phoenix is letting him go back out like this.
“You should stay the night,” Phoenix says, before his better judgement has time to kick in.
The tea kettle on the stove begins to whistle.
“You’re right,” Edgeworth says, slowly, his voice quiet as Phoenix pulls the kettle off the heat and pours hot water into the two waiting mugs.
“Wait, really?” Phoenix turns to look at him, and all signs indicate that he is, if fact, serious. His gaze is cast to the side, avoiding Phoenix’s eyes, and he looks incredibly uncomfortable, his shoulders tense and his brow furrowed.
“It would be foolish to attempt driving in a storm this severe,” Edgeworth says, his eyes flicking back and forth between the floor and the view out the kitchen window. “Especially in such cold weather. The roads could ice over. I will go to retrieve my car at a later date.”
“Oh,” Phoenix says, nodding, “yeah, that’s a good point. Probably not easy to walk on ice in dress shoes, either. The traction’s terrible.” He hands Edgeworth his mug of tea and watches as Edgeworth wraps his fingers around it, warming them. Phoenix does the same, cradling his own mug close to his chest, grateful for the heat radiating from the stained, chipped ceramic.
“Wright,” Edgeworth says, snapping Phoenix’s attention up from his mug. “You’re shivering.”
“Huh. I hadn’t noticed,” he says, pacing past Edgeworth into the living room and pulling another blanket off the sofa to wrap around his shoulders before sitting down. He glances back at Edgeworth, still hovering in the doorway to the kitchen, and pats the seat next to him.
“The radiator’s behind the sofa, you know. It’s warmer in here.”
Slowly, reluctantly, Miles Edgeworth joins him on the sofa. He keeps his gaze cast downward, never looking at Phoenix, taking small sips of tea.
“I feel I should apologize for what you saw earlier,” Edgeworth says stiffly after a few minutes of quiet. The rain outside the apartment window continues falling fast, the wind whistling in the alley between buildings.
“No, no, that was my fault. I shouldn’t have said anything. I made it weird. Sorry, Edgeworth.”
Edgeworth shakes his head adamantly, his hair falling into his eyes for a moment. “Please, Wright, I want to explain myself. Will you allow me?”
Phoenix looks over at him, the gravity of Edgeworth’s voice making his heart leap into his throat. “Explain what?”
“There are…” Edgeworth takes another sip of tea and clears his throat, “...some things about me that I feel you need to be aware of if you insist on continuing to call me a friend.”
Phoenix nods. “Okay?”
“I suppose I assumed you always knew,” Edgeworth starts. “I— I was not born male, Wright. My parents were always fairly supportive; they even had me transferred to a new school when I told them, so I could start fresh where no one knew my old name.”
Phoenix can’t help it when he feels his jaw drop. “That’s why you transferred to my school in fourth grade?”
“It was.” Edgeworth nods. “However, when my father— when he died, I went to Germany to study with von Karma. He was, to put it bluntly, disgusted when he learned what I was.”
“Oh,” Phoenix lets out a breath, unable to look away from Edgeworth despite how uncomfortable he looks, avoiding the other man’s gaze as if trapped by it. Phoenix fights the urge to lean closer and wrap his arms around the man spilling his life story on Phoenix’s sofa.
“I would have preferred to transition medically as soon as possible. I’d discussed it with my father, in fact, but with von Karma, it... well, it was not an option. His beliefs about perfection were an absolute.” Edgeworth shakes his head, scowling. “So I waited until I was of legal age. Thus, the scars. I could not prevent them, unfortunately.”
“Huh,” Phoenix says, trying to pretend he follows the logic Edgeworth is spelling out here. He is woefully poorly versed in this topic, he realizes, and makes a mental note to do some reading on it next time he has the chance. “Well, you don’t need to apologize for it.”
“You seemed like you were about to start apologizing again,” Phoenix says, giving him what he hopes is a reassuring smile. “You know, you got all tense and your eyebrows started doing that thing.”
Edgeworth’s face cycles through several emotions rapidly before settling on confusion. “My... eyebrows?”
Phoenix nods, laughing a little. “Anyway, you don’t need to. Apologize, I mean. I don't think it’s weird or anything. I was just surprised. I never realized.”
Edgeworth snorts, almost a genuine laugh if not for the tinge of sarcasm. “Please, Wright, there’s no need to lie to spare my feelings. I assure you, I’m fully aware of my own inadequacies.”
Edgeworth blinks at him, thrown off. “You really don’t find me to be... less of a man?” He sighs and looks out the window, rain running down it in intertwining rivulets. “I fear that others view me as such, and that I must meet impossibly high standards to prove myself to them. It has been... difficult for me, at times. I have not always succeeded.”
Phoenix bumps his shoulder against Edgeworth’s for a moment, pulling away when he stiffens in surprise. “I think those are just your own standards. Besides, everyone at the precinct and the prosecutor’s office really seem to respect you. Especially Detective Gumshoe.”
Edgeworth stares down into his mug of tea. “I suppose so.”
“And you’ve been through an awful lot. I think you're stronger than you give yourself credit for, Edgeworth.”
Phoenix looks over at him, then; his shoulders are shaking again despite the blankets around them, and he leans forward, elbows on his knees, his mug clutched in both hands. His hair has fallen to cover his face, but Phoenix can see Edgeworth’s reflection in the mug as a single tear slides down his cheek and falls into his tea. His face vanishes in the ripples.
“I don’t feel strong, Wright. I don’t think I ever will.”
Phoenix is unable to tear his eyes away from the man next to him; there’s a feeling in his chest like someone has laced their fingers through his ribcage and pulled, drawing him towards Edgeworth. Phoenix wants to wrap his arms around him, steady the shake in his shoulders, hold him warm and close.
He does none of these things. Instead, he puts a hand on the prosecutor’s shoulder and says “It’s been a long few days. I guess all you can do is wait and see how you feel in the morning.”
“You’re right. I apologize for burdening you with my feelings, Wright.”
“Don’t apologize for that,” Phoenix replies so quickly he’s afraid he sounds angry. Edgeworth’s head snaps around to meet his eyes, cheeks still wet with tears. “Your feelings aren’t a burden, Edgeworth. Not to me.”
Edgeworth stares at him for a moment, wide-eyed, before setting his tea down gently on the coffee table.
“Wright,” he begins, his voice low, his gaze burning a hole into Phoenix’s heart. His expression is so open Phoenix fears he could fall into it, lose himself in the desperation in those gray eyes. Edgeworth leans closer; his hands grip the collar of Phoenix’s shirt, and before Phoenix can even process that he’s being kissed, the kiss ends.
It’s colder, suddenly, Phoenix thinks. He blinks rapidly, the feeling of Edgeworth's lips writing itself indelibly into his brain, the taste of chamomile on his tongue.
“I— I’m sorry,” Edgeworth stammers out after a long, silent moment. The rain outside the window is slowly turning to snow, still falling just as fast. “Forgive me. I don't know what overcame me.”
Phoenix shakes his head rapidly, trying to wake himself up. “It’s okay,” he says, his own voice sounding far away. “It’s fine.”
“Wright—” Edgeworth begins again, but he gets no further; Phoenix’s hand on his cheek silences him, the press of his thumb against the corner of Edgeworth’s lips, smoothing over the skin there slowly, slowly. Phoenix’s tea is abandoned on the table next to the other mug as he takes Edgeworth’s face in both his hands and kisses him again, gentle, feeling the way Edgeworth tenses then relaxes, his hands coming to rest on Phoenix’s chest.
Phoenix definitely hadn’t planned to take Miles Edgeworth to bed that night. But of course, nothing he does ever seems to go as planned.
When he wakes the next morning, he finds that the red suit that was hung to dry in his bathroom is gone, along with the extra pair of shoes next to his own in the doorway. The empty space on the welcome mat leaves a cold feeling in the pit of Phoenix’s stomach, like someone has reached inside and taken some vital part of him.
He tries to ignore it. He goes about his work.
He’s in his office when he hears, some time later, about the note Edgeworth left. He finds himself suddenly on his knees, a horrible ache in his chest as if he’s been ripped open and hollowed out. Phoenix wonders, in that moment, if Edgeworth knew what kind of scar he would leave when he wrote it.
Edgeworth’s triumphant return is decidedly less triumphant than he had planned for it to be. He had expected to find himself in an unusual legal situation; he had certainly not expected it to be due to his sister being shot. Franziska will be fine, of course; she is nothing if not tough, Edgeworth thinks.
Wright is a different case entirely.
Their first meeting went… poorly, Edgeworth reflects. He’d shown up at the precinct yesterday just in time to tell Franziska off for going too hard on Wright, and Wright had reacted as if Edgeworth had personally insulted him in some way.
Perhaps he had.
It’s evening, now, the trial proceedings of the day long finished, and Edgeworth has found himself in his old office. Very little has changed in the past year, he notes; besides being a little dusty, it seems no one has touched anything except his case files. He’s been working his way through organizing them for an hour or so when he hears a commotion outside the door. He looks up, straining to understand the muffled voices outside.
“Listen, pal, I can’t let you in. Can’t have you talkin’ to Mr. Edgeworth before the trial is over. You could both get in trouble, you know that.”
The voice that follows is almost too quiet to understand, but Edgeworth recognizes it instantly.
“I don’t care. Get out of the way.”
The door is thrust open and in tumbles a disheveled looking Phoenix Wright with Detective Gumshoe not far behind, trying his best to restrain the younger man.
“I’m sorry, sir, but he really wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
Edgeworth sighs and looks back down at his work.
“It’s fine, Detective, I’ve already spoken to Wright about the case earlier today. Once more will not do any further harm.”
Gumshoe looks worried, but he doesn’t argue. He glances between Phoenix Wright, whose expression is not unlike someone about to commit murder, and Edgeworth, at his desk, exhausted.
“Right. I’ll just, uh, get back to work then.”
The moment the office door clicks shit behind him, Phoenix explodes.
“Edgeworth, what the hell is going on?!”
“You’re angry,” Edgeworth says quietly. He does not look up at the man standing across from his desk. The man who knows him best in the world, who apparently thinks it would have been better if he had stayed dead. Edgeworth doesn’t entirely disagree with him, but at this point, he’s already committed, and there’s no turning back.
“I— fucking, hell, Edgeworth, yes, of course I’m angry. You vanished off the face of the earth for a year and now you’re just sitting there doing paperwork?”
“My office needed to be re-organized after my abscence,” Edgeworth explains, trying to keep his voice even.
“I thought you were dead, Edgeworth!” Wright throws his hands in the air. “I thought you were dead, and I thought it was my fault! And you have the nerve to show up here and act like nothing’s wrong? To face me in court and act like you’re trying to help me?”
Edgeworth says nothing. He hardly reacts at all; there’s a minute shake in his hand as he sets one of his files down. He hopes Wright is too far away to notice.
“Ah,” he finally answers. He takes a breath, does his best to keep his voice calm and level. “I see. You don’t want help from someone like me, is that it?” He does not meet Wright’s eyes.
It seems that his practiced calm is what finally breaks Wright. He crosses the final few feet between himself and Edgeworth’s desk, stepping around it and grabbing the prosecutor by the front of his shirt. “Edgeworth, just look at me, damn it! Talk to me! Tell me what the hell happened to you!”
Edgeworth’s cravat comes loose in Wright’s grip, and Edgeworth’s eyes are suddenly very wide. It would be a great impression of a deer in headlights if Wright wasn’t the one staring down the barrel. Edgeworth feels the heat rising in his face, his hands struggling to loosen Wright’s grip, to pull away, to cover the secret he’s just exposed.
Just below his adam’s apple is a jagged scar, about three inches long, spanning his throat horizontally. He can feel Wright’s eyes on it, and the look on his face makes Edgeworth feel sick.
He finally manages to loosen Wright’s grip on the lapels of his suit and snatches his cravat back, taking a deep breath.
“Wright.” Edgeworth’s voice is ice cold. Wright has not stopped staring at him, but Edgeworth can’t make himself meet his eyes, not wanting to see the anger there. Or worse, the pity. He smooths one hand over his front, tying his cravat back into place, and returns to his desk, picking up a pen so at least he has something to hold onto. His head spins.
“Get out of my office.”
Wright finally seems to come to his senses. He blinks rapidly, shakes his head. “No.”
“Would you prefer I call Detective Gumshoe to escort you out?”
Edgeworth stiffens; there’s a small crack as the pen in his hand snaps in half.
For once, Wright doesn’t object. He slinks out of the office like a kicked puppy, leaving Edgeworth alone in the silence of the office.
When he’s certain Wright is far enough down the hall, Edgeworth lets out the sob that has been caught in his throat.
“Damnit!” He runs a hand over his face, trying to hide the tears filling his eyes, though there’s no one left to hide them from.
“I’m glad you’re alright.”
It’s not an unusual thing to say to someone, Phoenix thinks, especially when that someone has recently fallen off a bridge and been involved in a murder case. But the way Edgeworth says it to him— his voice low and quiet, leaning close to him as they exit court as if it’s a whispered secret between them— makes Phoenix feel something sharp and unnameable in the pit of his stomach, an emotion so violent he fears for a moment that he may faint right there on the courthouse steps. Edgeworth’s hand rests on his upper arm, practically burning despite the layers between their skin.
“Thanks,” is all he manages; the inside of his head feels like a clock factory, too many gears turning and not yet going anywhere.
“You should get Ms. Fey home to rest,” Edgeworth says. Phoenix follows his eyes to Maya, leaning against Pearl as they make their way down the steps toward the sidewalk.
“Yeah.” Phoenix sighs. “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”
“You’re both very lucky,” Edgeworth’s voice suddenly sounds wistful, “to have each other.”
“I, uh—” Phoenix laughs, running a hand over the back of his neck. “I think you might be reading too much into things. You sound like Pearls.”
“Oh?” Edgeworth stops, his brows suddenly furrowed as though deep in thought. “I had assumed… well. I suppose many people assume the same, seeing the two of you together.”
Phoenix puts a hand on Edgeworth’s arm. “No worries. You’re right, pretty much everyone seems to think we’re in love.”
“Hm,” Edgeworth nods. “Wright?”
Edgeworth’s face goes pale, and he shakes his head. “Never mind. Forget I said anything.”
“Oh, come on, don’t be like that!” Phoenix bumps one shoulder against his, then winces when he realizes he still has some bruises from his tumble into Eagle River. “Ow.”
“Wright,” Edgeworth chides him. “You’re still healing. Be careful.”
“I bounce back fast. Don’t worry about me.”
Edgeworth gives him a withering expression “Don’t tell me what to do, Wright. I’ll worry all I want.”
Neither of them notice Maya approaching until she has already butted into the conversation, her voice singsong as she leans into their space. “Aw, that’s so sweet! You really care about Nick, huh?”
“I— Ms. Fey, I don’t think now is the time,” Edgeworth stammers.
“Are you kidding? It’s the perfect time! The trial is over, I’m going home,” Maya gives them both a wave, “and you two can hang out! Me and Pearly are both tired.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to walk you to the bus?” Phoenix gives her a glance over. She seems tired, but she’s on both feet, and it doesn’t look like she’s going to pass out again.
“How about you lend me ten bucks for tickets and we can call it even?” She winks at him.
“Uh,” Phoenix digs his wallet out of his pocket. “I guess. If you’re sure you’ll be okay.”
“Please, Nick, I’m fine.” Maya crosses her arms, looking thoughtful for a moment. “Kinda hungry. But seriously, I’m fine.”
“Ugh, okay,” Phoenix hands over a ten from his wallet and returns it to his pocket. “But call me if anything happens.”
“Will do, Nick!” Maya tucks the bill into her sleeve and hurries back over to Pearl, giving her a little pat on the shoulder before heading off toward the bus stop.
“Well,” Phoenix says, suddenly acutely aware that he and Edgeworth are the only ones still standing in front of the courthouse. “I guess I should get home.”
“I suppose so,” Edgeworth says, though he remains where he is. He looks up at the sky, his eyes far away.
“Are you okay?”
Edgeworth looks over at him, his expression soft. “You’ve been through hell these past few days and you’re concerned about me? Really, Wright?” He shakes his head, his hair falling in his eyes.
“What was it you said earlier? ‘Don’t tell me what to do, I’ll worry all I want’? Was that it?” Phoenix laughs. “You should know me by now, Edgeworth.”
“Mm,” Edgeworth nods. “I should.”
There’s a tension in Edgeworth’s shoulders that Phoenix recognizes— they do know each other well, after all— as an unspoken question, something the prosecutor is afraid to say.
Phoenix says it for him.
“Would you like to… uh, go get dinner?”
Edgeworth’s shoulders drop like he’s been holding his breath. He nods, lets out a shaky laugh. “Yes. Yes, I would.”
They wind up at a fancy Italian place that Edgeworth tells Phoenix, with a sparkle of excitement in his eyes, has “the best damn tiramisu I’ve ever had, Wright.” Phoenix laughs as Edgeworth pulls his car into a spot on the street in front of the place, awed, as usual, by how effortlessly the man can parallel park.
Their dinner conversation remains casual, or at least as casual as conversation between the two of them can be. They discuss old cases, complain about the judge’s aggressive obliviousness; Edgeworth only freezes up a little when Phoenix mentions von Karma.
Throughout it all, Phoenix can feel something hanging in the air between them. The tension keeps returning to Edgeworth’s shoulders, and Phoenix frowns as he watches him crack his neck from side to side, clearly trying to ease some stiffness from his nervous posture.
“Hey,” Phoenix finally asks as Edgeworth flags down the waiter for desserts and the check, “are you okay?” Phoenix searches the prosecutor’s face for any indicator of what might be distressing him, watches as the muscles in his jaw tense as he returns Phoenix’s gaze.
“Of course,” he lies.
“Hm.” Phoenix wiggles his fork between two fingers, leaning his chin in one hand. “We know each other pretty well, I think. Something’s bothering you.”
“Perceptive as always, Wright.” The sarcasm in Edgeworth’s voice is obvious, but there’s no malice to it. He sighs. “It’s you.”
Phoenix sits up straighter, caught off guard. “Me? What the hell did I do wrong this time?”
“No, no—” Edgeworth puts up his hands, shaking his head. “I don’t mean it like that. I’ve been worried. Well, maybe worried isn't the right word. Confused. For a long time, if I’m honest.” His voice is quiet, barely audible over the chatter in the restaurant. Phoenix leans in closer.
There’s a long moment of silence as Edgeworth looks away, one hand fidgeting with the corner of the tablecloth. “Since I met you, Wright. Since you looked at me and saw what I am and decided I was worth saving anyway.” He lets out a long breath.
“Perhaps it’s foolish, to care so deeply for one person,” Edgeworth continues. “It terrified me at first, you know. It’s part of why I ran.” He measures each word slowly and carefully, as though he’s still reluctant to admit as much, even to himself. “I suppose it would be selfish to admit that I returned not to help you, but out of my own desire to see you. Then, and now. Especially now. When I got that phone call—” Edgeworth’s voice breaks, and he clears his throat. “In that moment I became so keenly aware of the fact that you are human, and fragile, and that you could be hurt or even killed and it would take a phone call from Larry Butz, of all people, for me to even know— and I couldn't stand the thought.” The words tumble out of his mouth now, almost too quickly for Phoenix to understand. “It was the first time I experienced such... such despair, at the thought of living a world that no longer has you in it. And I knew I could not forgive myself if you were to die not knowing how much I…” He frowns, stopping himself suddenly as if looking for the right words, his eyes unfocused.
“...how much I value you,” He finishes, though a flicker of doubt remains in his eyes.
Phoenix sighs and reaches across the table, taking Edgeworth’s hand in his own. His gaze snaps back up to Phoenix’s, searching the other man’s face, his own clouded with confusion.
“Edgeworth.” Phoenix clears his throat. “Miles. You know I love you, right?”
Edgeworth’s face flushes pink the moment Phoenix says his name, then even deeper red at the words that follow it. For a moment his mouth hangs open, eyes wide, before he shakes himself from his stupor.
“You— do you mean—”
Phoenix can just barely see Edgeworth’s pulse thrumming away at the vein in his neck, made more noticeable by the sudden flush of his skin and the prickle of sweat that accompanies it. He swallows hard once, then twice.
“Wright. You mean to tell me that my feelings for you are... reciprocated.”
“Uh, yeah. Have been for a while. I thought that was fairly obvious.” Phoenix laughs, tapping his index finger against the back of Miles’s wrist as he thinks for a moment. There’s a scar there, he notices, and looking down at his own hands he finds a similar scrape on the back of his hand, across the tendons there, still healing from his fall. “There’s no one else in the world I would trust with my badge, you know.”
For a moment, Phoenix thinks, it looks like Miles Edgeworth is about to cry. Then he takes a breath, closes his eyes, and tightens his grip on Phoenix’s hand.
“I love you, Phoenix Wright.” His voice is barely above a whisper, but Phoenix hears him like he’s screaming from the top of the Empire State.