The first time he remembers it happening, he is seven years old.
His father had a tight, comforting grip on his hand as they walked through the courthouse together. Court had run overtime and Miles had waited for him in the Defence's Lobby, desperately trying not to fall asleep on one of the couches when his father finally arrived to take him home. Now, they were weaving their way through the half-empty corridors, most of the usual hustle of people having already left hours ago.
He giggled when his father playfully squeezed his hand almost painfully tight, trying to squeeze back in response and huffing when his father hardly even flinched. They often played this odd little game together, his father effortlessly encasing his hand in a tight hold and chuckling when Miles scrunched his eyes as he put all of his effort into strengthening his own grip.
“No fair, Papa, you’re way stronger than me!” He pouted as he once again failed in his payback, tugging on his father’s arm. In an attempt to placate him, his father swept him up into his arms and balanced him on his hip. His pout was soon replaced with tired giggles, swatting gently at his father’s free arm when he made a show of flexing.
“You just have to keep practicing, Miles,” his father laughed warmly. “You beat me at every other game we play. Let your poor old Papa have this win.”
“Never!” Miles cheered, taking the free hand into both of his own smaller ones and trying once more to squeeze it. If his father’s gentle laughter was any indication, he supposed he really was destined to lose this round once again.
“Mr Edgeworth, that was an impressive show in court today,” a stranger said, approaching them as their laughter filtered down. “You must be heading home now.”
“Thank you, Prosecutor Forth, you weren’t too bad yourself,” his father shook the prosecutor’s hand before placing it against Miles’ back to hold him closer to his chest. “And yes, my son has been waiting long enough for me to take him home.”
“Of course, can’t keep the little one from his nap time,” the man cooed and it took all of Miles’ decorum to not roll his eyes. He wasn’t a toddler - he was seven… and a half!
“Sure,” his father said politely, “though sometimes he insists on watching the news with me when he should be sleeping.”
The prosecutor burst out into frivolous laughter, the sound echoing off the walls. “Man, he really is your son,” he howled, inappropriately loud. “He even looks just like you, a little mini Gregory Edgeworth.”
Now, that made Miles perk up.
“I do?” Miles asked shyly, turning his blushing face toward his father’s chest to hide it.
“If you weren’t so tiny I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” he chortled. Now he was just being rude. Miles was tall for his age, thank you sir. “So, kid. You planning on being like your old man, here?”
“Yeah!” He yelled, jumping in his father’s arms at the sudden question. It was already filling him with pride to hear that he reminded the stranger of his father; he’d always known he wanted to be just like him when he grew up. He swore to himself that he would work hard until he could stand next to his father in court as his co-counsel… or even the other way around. “I’m gonna be the best defence attorney ever, just like my Papa!”
“Well, kid, with that attitude I’m sure you'll be catching up to him in no time.”
“Which means,” his father intervened, “that you have to get plenty of sleep. The best defence attorneys always got their nine hours.”
“But Papa, you don’t g-” he whined, but was cut off.
“Papa is already a defence attorney, he doesn’t need nine hours anymore.” Grinning, his father ruffled a hand through his hair and hiked him up higher onto his hip. He pressed a gentle kiss to his temple and laughed at the tired look in his eyes. Miles had already been holding off his exhaustion for hours, he was struggling to hide it any longer.
“That’s cheating,” he murmured and buried his head into his father’s warm chest.
Slowly, he began to drift off, dreaming of a future where he and his father stood side by side with similar glowing smiles and laugh lines painting their faces.
Not all dreams came true, he soon learned. He was sixteen and fatherless, walking the path of a prosecutor and he wondered if his father would even recognise who he’d become.
He ran his finger over the photo frame in his lap, staring sadly at the smiling boy and his laughing father. The child in that photo wasn’t around anymore, nor was the man. Both had disappeared on a day he only remembered in nightmares. He couldn’t smile the way that boy could - the toothy grin of a child so deeply loved and cherished was far from his grasp.
He didn’t cry anymore. When he was younger he could hardly bear to glance at the picture without sobbing himself sick. Now, he just felt numb and empty, completely detached from the image before him as though it belonged to somebody else.
It did, now, he supposed. He couldn’t claim to associate his life now with the life trapped in one shot of colour behind polished glass.
Carefully, he smoothed his hand over the joyful face of his father. If he closed his eyes he could almost remember his warmth, how his hand had held him so tight that the Earth could never separate them. Yet, it did. It didn’t only pull them away from each other, it severed their lives completely and irrevocably.
The Earth stole his joy the day it took his father.
“Miles Edgeworth!” He startled, shoving the frame underneath his pillow before facing the young girl in his doorway. Franziska struck his door with her whip and glared. “You should be studying not staring at your lap, how can you claim to be a better prosecutor than me when you waste time sitting around.”
“I was merely taking a break Franziska,” he huffed, “surely you also have time to waste if you’re here to yell at me.”
With all the frustration a nine year old could muster, which was doubled considering her heritage, she grumbled and whipped the door again. “Somebody has to make sure you’re bringing honour to the name of von Karma,” she said arrogantly, stepping her way into his room. He couldn’t say it was particularly intimidating, she was a child after all, but he knew not to underestimate how much ferocity she carried.
“I’m sure your father would tell me if I was disappointing him,” he placated, “plus I’m perfectly ahead of my studies, are you?”
Though he was only teasing her a little, she stamped her foot and sneered at him. “I’m always ahead of my studies, little brother!”
Despite the anger she tried to convey, she walked further into his room and stood across from where he was sitting on his bed.
He’d gotten better at reading her over the years he’d lived here, he’d known her since she was a toddler after all. If she stayed, she usually wanted company but didn’t know how to ask for it. Her father didn’t give her much room to play with other children her age and Miles knew he was one of her only allies. He was happy to entertain her when she was like this, he couldn’t deny that he’d gained a brotherly instinct to protect her.
Just because he couldn’t smile didn’t mean she should suffer the same fate.
“What did you hide when I walked in,” she asked, placing her hands on her hips and looking off into the distance as though she had little care for his answer. He couldn’t fault her acting skills, but once again, she was nine. She wasn’t quite as subtle as she thought she was.
For a moment, he debated whether he should lie to her but he knew that it would only make her more suspicious. Then, the chances were that she would wrestle him to retrieve it herself. However, there was something particularly vulnerable about showing her the photo frame. He hadn’t kept it on display since she was around four, and thus she probably didn’t remember ever seeing it.
Sighing gently, he resigned himself to his fate and reached under his pillow. “I usually keep it hidden,” he murmured, “but it’s a photo of my father.”
Franziska flinched uncharacteristically but soon regained her composure. A distant thought told him that a child her age shouldn’t have a ‘composure’, but he buried it away just like von Karma had taught him to.
Hesitantly, she stepped closer and sat down next to him. She gripped her whip tightly in her hands, knuckles turning white as she mulled over what to say. “Can I see it?,” she whispered, so quiet that Miles almost didn’t hear her.
Taken aback by the gentle request, Miles turned the picture towards her. “It’s from the year before he died,” he spoke softly, and pointed to the badge on his lapel. “He was a defence attorney, he’d just won an important case.”
“I-is that you?” Franziska faltered, eyes fixed on the smiling boy clutching at his father’s suit.
He hummed distantly, “I suppose it is.”
Or at least it was, just not anymore.
He heard her sigh shakily next to him and turned to look at her. She looked nervous, plus there was a sadness in her eyes that pained Miles to look at. Then, she placed a small, comforting hand on his arm.
“You look like him,” she whispered, as though it was a secret.
A stabbing pain split through his chest.
He suppressed the urge he had to heave in the overwhelming grief that pulled him down at her words. He hadn’t been told that since he was the boy in the picture.
Nowadays he was described as cold and unwavering, the type of prosecutor who would instill fear in the hearts of those who dared to cross him. He didn’t need to reassure clients and he no longer believed in the innocence of those who passed into the justice system. The evidence always told the truth, no amount of belief and bluffing would change that.
His father was gone and had taken Miles’ likeness to him with him.
You look like him, she’d told him. But that wasn’t possible, because Miles Edgeworth was unrecognisable to even himself.
Before the trial, Miles rarely gave himself the privilege of thinking about his father. Usually the thought of him would spiral into a panic as he convinced himself that he was his murderer, again and again, without fail. It made it unbelievably difficult to bask in the memory of the man who’d raised him with so much love.
Now, that problem had vanished. He was innocent.
Phoenix Wright had crashed his way back into his life and turned everything upside down. His heart clenched whenever he thought about just how much concern and care the man had shown him, as though they were still those happy kids from their childhoods. He’d torn down every wall that Miles had built around himself and offered his arms for protection instead.
They were alone in Defendant Lobby No.2, Phoenix having ushered Maya and Gumshoe outside to give them some space. He sat on the couch with his arms wrapped around himself, avoiding Phoenix’s soft gaze.
“All this time,” Miles rasped, “I avoided the memory of my father.”
“You’re free now, Miles,” Phoenix soothed, “you don’t have to hide from it anymore.”
Tears silently slipped down his cheeks. It was the first time he’d cried over his death since he was a child. The urge to scream and claw at his chest was bubbling deep within him so he dug his nails into his palms and bit his tongue. Hiccups escaped regardless and his body trembled.
“Hey,” Phoenix whispered, placing a hand on his shoulder. It was so warm that Miles could’ve sobbed at the feeling. “Tell me what he was like.”
The request took him by surprise. He hadn’t thought about it in so long, the little habits his father had and how everything he said always came back to 'my son’. Phoenix was trying to open him up and somehow Miles was letting him.
“H-he... he was kind. He always believed in people and knew how to reassure them, it was what made him such a good defence attorney.” Miles inhaled shakily, shifting ever so slightly closer to Phoenix’s warm body. “No matter how busy he was, he always had time for me.”
“Hmm," Phoenix hummed, urging him to continue. He tentatively wrapped an arm loosely around Miles’ waist, waiting for his small nod of approval before pulling him close. It was the most contact he’d had in over a decade and his body craved the touch. Though, he couldn't understand why he was accepting it so willingly.
Phoenix's sudden arrival had brought with him a long list of 'why's and Miles wasn't close to answering any of them.
“He wasn’t the best cook in the world, but the food he made always tasted like home. He’d tuck me into bed every night, sometimes he’d read to me if he had the time or even when he didn't if I asked him.” He paused for a while, smiling at the memories and basking in them. “Whenever court ran longer than expected he’d hold me close to his chest and let me sleep there. Sometimes, I think I secretly hoped that it would.”
Chuckling fondly, Phoenix rubbed small circles into his hip.
“Then, when we walked together we’d play a game,” Miles continued, unable to stop himself as he discovered that he could spend years talking endlessly about his father. Well, he supposed, there was years of reminiscence to catch up on. “He’d take my hand and squeezed it as tight as he could and then I would try and squeeze it back. He’d tease me that he could barely feel my grip, I don’t think I even made him flinch once,” he laughed, softly. “It sounds more violent than it was, I swear.”
“Sounds like it was biased in your father’s favour,” he chuckled.
“It was!” Miles surprised himself at the sudden exclamation, amazed at how well Phoenix’s attempt to distract him from the darkness that threatened to consume him had worked. “I would complain that he was stronger than me and he’d just laugh and tell me that it was the only game he ever won against me, so I should cut him some slack.”
"Well, I suppose that was a pretty solid excuse."
The conversation trailed off after that.
Miles continued to drink up every touch of Phoenix’s body to his and let the tension bleed from him. His heart ached, the numb feeling having left him completely, suddenly exposing him to just how much it hurt. All those years he was suffering, bleeding grief from the hole his father’s death had left in his soul, taking advice from the man who’d put it there.
“You know,” Phoenix hummed, “I read about some of your father’s cases when I was researching for the trial.”
“He was really talented at his job, always determined to find the truth,” he said, nudging Miles’ shoulder and encouraging him to look at him. “I noticed something when I was reading the court transcripts.”
Confused, Miles let himself sink into Phoenix’s eyes. He had barely re-entered his life and yet Miles could feel himself beginning to trust him wholeheartedly.
It scared him; his trust was so frequently shattered before his eyes. Miles couldn’t take another heartbreak.
“What did you notice?” Miles asked, though he was afraid he wasn’t going to enjoy the response.
“You remind me of him,” he said simply.
The cracks were beginning to show, there was no way Phoenix could know just how big of a taboo he’d stated. His heart was crumbling beneath the weight of that simple phrase.
“The determination and justice that he conveyed through his speech, it made me think of you,” Phoenix hummed and took one of his hands into his own, encasing it in warmth. “I think he’d be proud that in the end, you didn’t give up on yourself.”
“Phoenix,” he broke, voice thick with emotion. His wounds were still fresh, having never been processed and the comparison to his father still crushed him. He didn’t want to believe that there was still a part of his childhood left within him. For years he’d pushed back and repressed everything that reminded him of his father and that included himself. The few times that he’d glanced at that photo were to remind him of why he changed.
He couldn’t be his father, nor had he wanted to be. All he thought himself to be was the person who’d killed him - that he’d failed his father and was beyond repair. He didn’t deserve the memory of his father and couldn’t bear to dishonour him by muddying his greatness with his evil.
But he hadn’t killed his father, all he’d killed was the boy he’d become under his father’s care.
It hurt too much to take at once. He felt Phoenix squeeze his hand and let himself be pulled towards his chest. Nothing could undo the suffering he’d endured, and he knew that the consequences of the trial had opened wounds both new and old. He couldn’t promise that he wouldn’t be back to trembling alone in his office by tomorrow afternoon. For now however, he let himself sob into the protective arms of his friend.
Maybe with people like Phoenix Wright back in his life, the future won’t have to be so lonely and miserable.
He doesn’t know how long they sat there, Phoenix holding his hand impossibly tight and letting him squeeze back until it hurt.
A few years later, Kay Faraday was sat on his office couch sobbing into his arms in a scene that was reminiscent of the time after he was on trial for murder.
It was the anniversary of her father’s death, and with the case of the smuggling ring recently resolved she had finally let herself heal from the years of seeking revenge. Her father’s murderer had faced justice for her actions, now Kay was left with the fallout. Miles was just glad that she sought him out for comfort instead of dealing with the pain alone.
“I thought this would be easier now that she’s in prison,” Kay cried, “why is it still so hard?”
She clutched desperately to his suit jacket, tears soaking through his cravat the way they had when he’d met her on that fateful day all those years ago. As much as he pretended to grumble, he was more than happy to sacrifice hundreds of cravats to dry her tears. Phoenix had ruined more than a few himself when he was recovering from his cold and subsequent nightmares after falling from Dusky Bridge, to the point that Miles wondered if there was something about the design of his cravats that enticed people to aim their tears and snot at them.
He pointedly ignored his boyfriend’s claim that ‘they look like tissues, Miles!’.
“Why,” she sobbed, “oh god, Mr Edgeworth, why did she take him from me?” Her body shook violently with sobs, her chest rattling with every yell of anguish. “It’s not fair, I want my dad back, please, I just want my dad.”
At this point she was struggling to breathe, hiccuping and choking around her words as she struggled to keep her crying under control.
Miles stroked her hair and held her tight, tears of his own building in his eyes as he watched the girl grieve. He knew how she felt, how helpless and scared experiencing such an unjust loss made you feel. Both of them were only children when they lost their parents and she was right. It wasn’t fair, not at all.
It wasn’t fair for selfish adults to take the lives of those who got in their way. Their arrogance had robbed them both of a childhood, of parents who loved and cherished them.
“I’ve got you,” he told her, “just let it all out.”
And she did.
She shook, and heaved, and screamed. She sobbed until she couldn’t possibly cry anymore. Not once did Miles cease the gentle circles he was rubbing into her back, or the gentle pass of his fingers through her hair. It reminded him of the few times he’d comforted Franziska after a nightmare, that familiar brotherly feeling filling his chest.
When the cries stopped, her hand weakly gripping his lapel, he breathed a sigh of relief and let the calm wash over them. He half-expected her to pass out from the exhaustion of crying for so long but her eyes remained open, if only a little sunken. It was clear that she was fighting sleep, her body growing heavier in his arms but yet she refused to succumb.
“Does it ever get any easier? Dealing with these- these memories, reminders and anniversaries, I mean,” she asked, her voice small and raspy.
He hummed thoughtfully and ruffled her hair. “Some of it does, I suppose,” he said, “at least for me it did. There was a time when I couldn’t even think about my father or see his face in photos without wanting to scream and hide away forever. It still hurts to think about the way I lost him, but it’s also nice to remember him for the way he lived and how much he loved me.”
“I feel numb when I see his face and sometimes I think about my childhood and smile, but then… I guess I just remember that he’s really gone and I can’t pull myself out of the grief that causes.” Kay looked up at him sadly and wiped a tear from her cheek with the back of her hand. “Today… the anniversary of his death… I’ve never been able to cope on this day.”
“The anniversary is always the hardest day,” Miles murmured. He couldn’t lie to her, she deserved honesty if he were to help her mend some of the cracks in her grieving heart. He himself wouldn’t have appreciated false promises when he felt helpless. “Every year, when it got to that time, I’d use whatever excuse I could find to hide away in my room to cry and clutch at my pillows. I think von Karma knew, I guess he thought he’d seem suspicious if he didn’t let me mourn. Even now… now that I have Phoenix… the anniversary still hurts.”
She nodded solemnly, pressing her forehead into his chest and sighing. “...But it gets easier to at least think of him? You can look at his face and remember the love rather than the hurt?”
“Neither of us had the healthiest start to our grieving process, but yes, Kay, I think you’ll reach a day where you can start to think of him fondly again,” Miles patted her back gently, “and if you ever find yourself sad and in need of comfort again, you know where to find me.”
“Mhm, I’m almost convinced you never leave this office,” she quietly giggled, “I suppose I could easily break into your apartment though if you’re not here.”
“I’m begging you to just knock, no breaking in necessary,” he choked, exasperated.
“Aw, where’s the fun in that,” she huffed, slowly perking back up into her usual character. She was far from any definition of fine at the moment, but a good cry and a little bit of comfort was enough to ease her into a sleepy playful mood.
“It’s not about fun, it’s about not giving Phoenix a heart attack,” he groaned.
The clock ticked on slowly. Soon the sun was setting low in the sky and Miles focussed on Kay’s steady breathing. Just when he thought she’d finally fallen asleep, she spoke up again.
“Hey, do you have any photos of your father in your office?”
“...I do,” he faltered in surprise, “it’s in a desk drawer. Would you like to see it?” Gently he nudged her shoulder, silently asking her to move over so he could fetch the frame. It was the one he’d kept from childhood, the only photo that he ever found himself staring at for hours. There was a photo of him and Phoenix on his bedside table that came in close second, but that was a different matter.
Quickly, he retrieved the photo and sat down next to Kay who’d propped herself upright against the couch cushions. With a gentle smile, he handed the frame over to her shaking hands and patted her shoulder.
“Woah, Mr Edgeworth,” she pointed excitedly at his father’s grinning face, “he looks just like you!”
If Kay noticed the way his heart stopped at the exclamation, she didn’t mention it. He forced the odd slew of emotions that the comparison always drew out of him to the back of his mind and took a deep breath.
“I think you mean I look like him, Kay,” he corrected with a fond laugh. His fingers were clenching against his thighs, the nails digging into his skin painfully as he tried to ground himself. Nothing made sense about his continued aversion to being compared to his father. It had made sense before, sure, but why did it still hurt so much even now?
“Same difference,” she pouted and flopped onto her side, snuggling into one of the pillows by the arm of the couch. Miles wasn’t surprised that she was out like a light in mere seconds. Smiling warmly at her, he brushed her hair away from her face and returned to his desk.
For the rest of the evening he couldn’t concentrate on anything but what Kay had told him. Frustrated, he opened a case file and buried himself in work until there was simply no room for thoughts unrelated to the legal drawl in front of him.
In his desperation to escape his thoughts, he forgot that he’d left the photo frame on his desk on full display.
He never took it down.
Before he knew it, Miles was thirty-four and in desperate need of glasses.
Over the years his face had matured, shifting from the fresh face of a young prosecutor in his mid-twenties to the look of a distinguished Chief Prosecutor. There were small lines around his eyes and new creases in his forehead when he frowned. The only addition he never complained about were the laugh lines that flanked his smile.
In other words, he was starting to look old.
Phoenix would yell at him whenever he said that, insisting that it was far too early to start pulling out the ‘o’ word. Other times he would push his luck and tell him he’d always looked like an old man anyway, quickly finding himself grovelling for forgiveness when Miles teasingly threatened him with a night on the couch.
The glasses were an… interesting addition.
Of course he was wearing them out of necessity and hardly cared for whether or not they made for a flattering accessory. Regardless, Phoenix had told him that he suited the new frames, that it only added to his maturing look and Miles believed him. Sincerity was a constant in their relationship but the matter of whether or not he suited them wasn’t exactly the problem.
The problem was… well… that he didn’t quite know what the problem was.
All he knew was that when he looked at himself in the mirror, something was wrong. No matter how much he stared at his reflection, he just couldn't place what was making him feel so strange.
“Checking yourself out?”
Wonderful, his husband just had to catch him having a staring contest with himself. Instantly, he resigned himself to weeks of teasing before Phoenix finally let it go. He just hoped he didn’t tell Trucy; it would be months if he told their daughter.
“Quiet,” he grumbled but relaxed into his husband’s arms when he wrapped them around his waist, standing behind him. “I’m still trying to get used to the glasses,” Miles tapped a finger rhythmically against one of Phoenix’s wrists in thought, “I still don’t understand what I’m finding so… odd about them.”
Humming thoughtfully, Phoenix dropped his head to rest on his shoulder. He pressed a sweet kiss to his jaw and nipped playfully at the skin. “I have a theory,” his breath tickled him as he spoke. “It’s not common for you to feel insecure about your image and I already told you I think they make you look sexy, so it can’t be that either.”
Groaning at his husband, Miles gently swatted at his arm. No matter how many years he’d listened to his awful attempts at smooth talking, it still made him blush when his husband complimented him. It had never stopped being embarrassing either. “What’s your theory?”
“Miles,” Phoenix met his eyes in the mirror with a gaze so soft that it made him melt, “you look just like your father.”
Instantly, Miles went rigid.
Gripping onto his husband’s forearms as they held onto him tightly, Miles shakily exhaled. If anyone else had said it, maybe he would’ve brushed it off and started his usual cycle of denial. However, Phoenix knew of his aversion to being compared to his father; Miles knew he wouldn’t bring it up if he didn’t think it was necessary.
Puzzle pieces were starting to slot together with the hint his husband had risked to give him.
Everything fit together. He was approaching the age his father had been when he died, the sight of the laugh lines, the chisel of his jawline and, finally, the glasses. For days, Miles had been looking in the mirror and seeing his father staring back.
Secure in Phoenix’s arms he finally allowed himself to really look at himself and oh god everyone had been right.
For the first time since he was a child, Miles let himself believe that maybe he did look like his father. An overwhelming feeling of relief flooded his heart and he whimpered. Fingers brushed through his hair soothingly, his husband giving him the room to work through his thoughts as he peppered his temple with kisses.
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Miles turned to face Phoenix. “You really think I look like him?” Whispering, he clung to the fabric of Phoenix’s shirt and tentatively looked up at him. With a kind smile, Phoenix cupped his cheek and wiped away a tear with the pad of his thumb. Then, he leaned forward to press a loving, slow kiss to his mouth.
“You look more and more like him every day, my love,” he said with full confidence.
That was the final thread. Burying his face into Phoenix’s neck, Miles let himself cry to the sound of his husband’s gentle reassurance. Whether he was happy or sad, he couldn’t quite tell and decided the feeling was bittersweet. It made his heart soar to know that he would always carry the memory of his father even in his features, but it still stung to know that the man himself couldn’t carry on his own legacy.
“I miss him,” he trembled, eyes fluttering closed when Phoenix kissed away the lingering tears.
“I know you do,” soothed Phoenix, “he’d be so proud of you.”
Exhausted, Miles slouched against Phoenix and let him carry his weight. He smiled as Phoenix started to rock them, their bodies shifting clumsily on the tiled bathroom floor. “Why? Because I married a defence attorney?”
“Not what I was thinking, but yes, that too,” he chuckled. “However, your incredible taste in husbands aside,” Miles scoffed and Phoenix only laughed harder before continuing, “I think he’d be proud of his son, the Chief Prosecutor, who works tirelessly to weed out corruption in our justice system and values the truth over a win record.”
“Phoenix,” he breathed.
“I also think he’d be proud of you for staying strong, despite everything you've had thrown at you,” Phoenix murmured and kissed his forehead. “You’re kind, trustworthy and reliable. You never give up on the people you love, even if they get disbarred for seven years,” he said lightheartedly.
“Hm, I wonder who that was,” Miles joked but his eyes were misting over again at the love his husband was showering him with.
“Hush,” he chided, gently. “Most of all, he’d be proud that you’re happy. Or at least, I’m pretty sure you are.”
“I couldn’t be happier, Phoenix,” he whispered and wrapped his arms around Phoenix’s neck. Their lips met gently, finding a slow but passionate rhythm that made Miles sigh and melt deeper into his husband’s embrace. Phoenix nipped gently at his bottom lip and swallowed the low chuckle it pulled from him, moving their lips together and tickling his skin with his warm breath.
Breaking apart, Phoenix held his hand and led him back into the bedroom. Hastily, he propped the pillows up against the headboard so that they could comfortably sit against it. Then, using the hold he had on his arm, Phoenix gently pulled him down onto the bed and wrapped his arms around him. Miles relaxed against his side and tangled their legs together.
“You know,” Miles hummed after an interlude of comfortable silence, “I probably would’ve denied what you said about my dad being proud of me if you’d told me that before you adopted Trucy.”
“Oh yeah?” Phoenix was combing his fingers through Miles’ bangs, lightly scratching his scalp. He felt boneless under his touch, relaxed enough to continue to work his way through decades of complicated feelings.
“I used to think he’d hate the person I’d become, partly because I didn’t become a defence attorney.” It felt strange to admit it out loud. He’d held this card so close to his chest since he was a teenager, but he felt nothing but safe revealing it to his most trusted partner in both love and life. “I thought he’d think I’d become corrupt, that I’d betrayed him for choosing to be a prosecutor instead. But… I know what you meant...when you said he’d just be proud that I was happy.”
“I do tend to be Wright when I suggest something,” Phoenix joked, yelping when Miles jabbed his ticklish ribs in response. “Sorry, sorry,” he chuckled and kissed his hair.
“You’re insufferable,” Miles sighed fondly and draped his arm around Phoenix’s waist. “Trucy makes me proud every single day with how hard she works on her magic. I’m proud of how kind she is and how much she cares for us and her friends… but beyond all of that I’m just proud that she always follows her own happiness.”
“She could tell you she crashed your car while practicing a new trick and you’d just be proud that she was trying something new and didn’t get hurt,” Phoenix laughed, teasingly. “But I understand. That’s why I told you he’d be proud of you, because as a dad myself, I knew he would be.” He stroked Miles’ upper arm and nuzzled his cheek against his temple. “I figured if Trucy made us proud when she remembered to put her shoes away on the rack instead of leaving them in front of the door, your dad would be pretty proud of everything you’ve achieved.”
Snorting, Miles turned over and nestled himself into Phoenix’s chest, sighing softly when his husband dropped his chin so that it rested warmly against his head. He pressed a trail of light kisses against his collarbone, draping a hand on one of his pectorals, the other snaking around his neck to massage the dark hair at his nape. It was so comfortable, being able to just cuddle with his husband on their bed after a long day of legal work.
His eyes began to droop, exhaustion setting in from the tears and emotional outpouring. He could feel Phoenix’s steady breathing beneath his cheek, the soft rise and fall lulling him to sleep. Maybe he should’ve taken a moment to at least change out of his work clothes but he was so comfortable that he’d loathe to move even a centimetre. An amused thought apologised to Phoenix, who’d have to wrestle him out of his suit in an hour or so when he inevitably fell into a deep sleep.
Soon, Miles drifted into a pleasant dream.
Somehow, he could’ve sworn he’d seen it before. There was a familiarity to it, the way he was smiling and laughing next to a figure however he couldn’t quite make out who it was at first. Then, the figure turned and the face of his father was suddenly smiling warmly at him, laugh lines framing it elegantly.
Miles’ breath caught in his throat, reaching out a hand to press his fingers to the skin in an attempt to confirm his presence but when he blinked the figure changed. Suddenly, he was facing his husband and their daughter, the pair giggling warmly at him and opening their arms. He let them pull him forward and hold him tightly, laughing loud and free with his family surrounding him.
Behind his husband and daughter stood the faded figure of his father, the smile never leaving his face.
Miles had grown a lot since his days as a young boy walking the courthouse halls with his father.
Yes, he’d grown physically older to a healthy thirty-five, but there was more to it than that.
He’d learned to smile again, to be a little more carefree and understood that he was allowed to give himself a break from work to enjoy himself.
Along the way he’d become a parent and learned what it meant to be selfless for the sake of your child, to put them first and be prepared to risk anything to keep a smile on their face. Both his husband and his daughter had opened his life to so many more opportunities and perspectives and he knew he wouldn’t be the irrevocably happy man he was today without them.
So, yes. Miles had grown a lot over his thirty-five years of life.
Without that growth, he wasn’t so sure that he’d have been able to handle the discovery he had recently made. Or, at least, it would’ve been met with a lot more pain and lonesome sobbing.
It was when they were moving into their new house that he’d found it. Nestled amongst boxes of random legal textbooks he’d accumulated under von Karma was a photo album. The cover was dusty but in immaculate condition, hardly a scratch or a dent to any of the pages. He’d hidden it away when he was forced to leave his father’s home and never opened it since.
Preserved within those pages were memories that Miles hadn’t seen since he was perched on his father’s lap as they flipped through it together all those years ago. It knocked the wind out of him, unsure of how to feel that such a huge chunk of his childhood had been sitting in his storage room for years. Von Karma’s gaze had been removed from where it permanently rested over his shoulder over a decade ago and yet the book had still remained shut.
Today, now that they were settled into their new home as a family, that was about to change.
Miles sat with Trucy and Phoenix on either side of him. The photo album lay balanced on his lap, shut and begging to be opened. Hesitantly, he brushed his fingers over the cover, delicately tracing the words ‘Miles, 1992-2001' written in his father’s script. Originally, his father had planned to have multiple of these albums, starting a new one every time he filled one with their most precious moments. It stung to know that he’d only ever managed to fill one before he could no longer make any new memories with his son.
“Papa,” Trucy laid a hand over his, “do you want me to open it?”
“I’ve got it, sweetheart, thank you,” he told her, giving her hand a small squeeze in appreciation. Nodding in understanding, she rested her head against his shoulder and gently gripped his sleeve. It overwhelmed him how caring she was, he couldn’t have been blessed with a better daughter. “Just give me a moment, I’m preparing myself for all of the teasing you and your dad are about to unleash on me.”
“Aw, Miles! Me and Trucy don’t tease you that much,” Phoenix laughed.
“Yesterday you asked me if I wore a three-piece suit to kindergarten,” bemused, he shot an accusatory look at his husband. Trucy just giggled.
“To be fair, Papa,” she reasoned, eyes shining with amusement, “we were genuinely curious. I’m surprised you don’t sleep in one.”
“Oh he would if I didn’t force him to change some nights, Truce.” Phoenix was entering dangerous territory now and Miles raised an eyebrow in playful warning. Sticking his tongue out at him, Phoenix continued anyway. “You should hear him, ‘Phoenix I’m comfortableeee leave me aloooone’,” he mocked. “For a man who owns silk pyjamas you’d think he’d prefer to wear those to bed. I’m afraid his cravat would smother him if I let him sleep in it!”
“I don’t sound like that,” he grumbled as his husband and daughter cackled either side of him. Caught in hysterics, Trucy wrapped an arm around her stomach as though the laughter hurt and dropped her head back onto his shoulder. “If you two are quite done, I think I’m ready.”
Well, that shut them up. If he weren’t so nervous he would’ve broken into laughter of his own at their sudden attentiveness.
Both of them made the motion of zipping their mouth closed. Taking a deep breath, Miles hooked his thumb under the cover, trembling as he worked up the courage to flip it. Part of him anticipated some eruption, a burst of something to bombard him as though the cover was the lid of Pandora’s box. Yet, when he turned it over, there was nothing but a page of memories.
First, he was greeted with two photos of a small, sleeping newborn. While it was obvious that the baby was him considering the context, even visually it was clear who the child was. It seemed as though he’d had those little frown lines on his forehead since birth. Even the few wisps of hair, though slightly fairer, were distinctly grey.
“Daddy,” Trucy giggled, mischief rampant in her tone. Oh boy. “Does Papa still look this grumpy when he sleeps?”
Instantly, Phoenix broke out into loud bouts of laughter. Traitor. Miles didn’t even bother to try and shut him up. “He does! The only way to get his face to relax is to cuddle him otherwise he has the same face he makes when someone tells him The Steel Samurai is a kids show.”
Collapsing in on herself, Trucy batted wildly at his leg as she chortled. Great, they weren’t even past the first page and they were already gasping for air from laughing too hard. Not that he was complaining, it made him happy to see them enjoying themselves even if it was at his expense. They always meant well, though, and would never laugh at him if he expressed any level of discomfort.
“This is gonna take a while,” he muttered under his breath. Swatting gently at his husband and daughter in an attempt to calm them down, he continued to slowly turn the pages of the album. Each photo was thoroughly examined by the trio, none of them wanting to miss even a single tiny detail held within the capture.
“Woah, Papa! You can play the piano?” They’d stopped on a page of a young six year old Miles. His legs dangled far from the floor as he sat on a piano bench with his small fingers jabbing at the keys.
“Then, no,” he chuckled, “but I can now. My father would let me sit beside him when he played and sometimes I’d try to freestyle. It probably sounded like your daddy’s piano playing.”
“He’s not wrong daddy, you’re terrible at piano,” reasoned Trucy, feigning innocence.
“As the person who attempted to teach you piano, you are pretty awful at it, my love.”
Crossing his arms dramatically, Phoenix pouted at them. “My own husband and daughter, bullying my beautiful piano playing. I can’t believe it,” he sighed. Regardless, there was a smile tugging at his lips and it was clear that he was only joking. Placatingly, Miles wrapped an arm around his waist and squeezed playfully.
More and more photos were unveiled. Each one brought its own small conversation and peels of laughter. Most of all for Miles, each photo brought him closer to his childhood memories of playing with his father, spending each and every day surrounded by his love and support. He was beyond grateful that he’d managed to build another home that was just as warm after years of shivering in the cold dreary walls of the von Karma mansion.
Even his sister let herself relax in the comfort of his home when she visited. It meant everything to him that he could provide her with the solace she deserved.
Soon they found themselves reaching the end. They’d passed photos of him playing, sleeping, laughing and smiling. A personal favourite was a photo that one of his relatives must have taken in which it seemed he had set up his own mock trial using Signal Samurai figurines. There was a defence attorney badge on his shirt made from crayon and cardboard and he was pointing confidently at his father. Chuckles rumbled deep from his chest when he realised he must’ve roped his father into playing the prosecutor.
There was such a gentle, proud look on his face that Miles had to take a moment to compose himself. He’d made it through most of the album without breaking and he only had one page left to turn. If he could make it this far, he was determined to finish before he let the nostalgic tears overtake him.
Everything halted when he turned to the final page.
Amongst three fairly typical photos, was a photo that looked incredibly familiar. In it, a nine year old Miles was resting on his father’s lap, fast asleep on his chest. He had the same messy cardboard replica of a defence attorney’s badge taped to his shirt. Vaguely he registered that it must have been the same day as the other photo, but he pushed back the thought and focussed on studying the photo and the strange feeling it gave him.
His father was awake and had his cheek resting against Miles’ hair, looking at him with nothing but love and adoration. Strong arms encased his son protectively, holding him as he dreamed peacefully in the safety of his father’s hold.
He scowled at the page, his mind trying to grasp together any pieces of logic that would help him discern why he was so convinced that he’d seen this picture over a hundred times already.
Then, the source of the strange familiarity hit him. Somehow, they’d already had this photo on display for the past seven years.
Peeling his eyes away from the album, he looked up to confirm his theory. As expected, he was met with the exact photo he’d been reminded of.
It looked identical to a photo on their fireplace.
Only, Miles sat in the place of his father and it was his then nine year old daughter sleeping in his lap. She looked just as tranquil as the young Miles did, safe and protected in the arms of a parent. On her cape rested his prosecutor’s badge, which had found its way there during one of her magic tricks. Her hair was tucked behind her ear, having been smoothed down before Miles pressed his cheek to her temple. Just like his father was looking down at him, he was looking down at her as though she was the most precious thing in the world.
It was the exact same warm, affectionate look that his father had on his face.
“Papa?” Trucy tugged on his sleeve and met his gaze with watery eyes. Clearly, she had made the same connection. Without hesitation, he brushed the tears away and cupped her cheek. He was certain that he was also crying, but the warmth that bled through his shirt as his husband rubbed circles into his back soothed him enough to respond to his daughter.
“You look just like Grandpa Gregory,” she smiled, her eyes creasing at the corners and tears flowing freely. She’d never called his father that before, or at least she hadn’t to his face. Nothing would have ever prepared him for just how much it caused his heart to burst at the seams and overflow. It sounded so right on her lips and Miles cursed the fact that his father would never be able to hear her say it with his own ears.
Choking back tears, he crushed the girl into a hug. Instantly, she nuzzled her face into his chest and clung to his shirt, nails biting against the sides of his ribs. Despite being seventeen and taller than she was when she was nine, she was still a perfect fit in his arms. He peppered her hair with kisses and held her close. Everyday his daughter reminded him of just how lucky he and Phoenix were to have her.
There was nothing on this planet that could ever willingly take him away from her. His heart clenched at the understanding that his father must have felt the same way about him. Becoming a parent had brought him so much closer to understanding the man he’d lost so young and he was forever grateful that for whatever reason, fate had placed Trucy in his and Phoenix’s care.
Even when he lived across the ocean in Germany and only saw her for a week or so every three months, he’d suffer the pain of separation a thousand times for his family. They’d overcome so much as a trio and he’d do it all again in a heartbeat. If anything, the years he’d spend apart from them made him cherish every moment he had presently, despite now being by their sides permanently with no plans to leave ever again.
With the setting sun leaking through the window, Trucy heaved a deep sigh as the crying came to an end. At some point Phoenix had manoeuvred them so that he could reach his arms around both of them like a weeping set of human dominoes, all leaning against each other.
“Hey, Papa?” Trucy hummed, voice muffled from where her face was still pressed against his chest. “Can we put some of the photos on display?”
Miles sighed gently, combing his fingers through her hair and leaned into his husband’s warmth. Phoenix accepted him easily, shifting slightly to create more contact between them. “I think that sounds like a wonderful idea, Trucy,” he said, “my father would be happy to be added amongst our family photos.”
That was how their household gained a few extra frames here and there. One on Miles’ bedside table of him being cradled in his father’s arms as a newborn, a few on the walls of him as a toddler and his tired father chasing after him plus a multitude of others on various other shelves and tables.
The most significant addition was the photo of Miles sleeping on his fathers lap, having found its new home next to the photo it was so reminiscent of. Side by side, the two Edgeworths held their children and gazed upon them with nothing but pure parental love.
After so many years of avoiding it, Miles now looked at the pictures and embraced what he knew to be true.
Miles Edgeworth looked just like his father, and that filled him with nothing but joy.