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Raymond considered himself a hopeless romantic, but it didn’t mean he was, um… totally pure?

It wasn’t that he was a total perv or anything, but he had, y’know, needs like anyone else. Needs he usually filled with the secret folder on his computer, or the occasional magazine, or imagined encounters with movie actors and fictional characters.

Before, it had been simple. Easy, really. A way to wind down at the end of the day that didn’t affect the rest of his life one way or the other.

And then his peace just had to be ruined by Mr. Edgeworth.

Not directly, of course. Ray didn’t think Mr. Edgeworth could ruin anything directly if he tried. If there was anything he could blame directly, it was the summer of 2000. 

Because that was when the AC in Edgeworth Law Offices broke down.

The office was a nice building and all, but it was located in downtown LA, so it was fairly old - probably dated back to the fifties or so. Most of the building had been periodically updated, but it looked like after five decades of honorable service, that noble air conditioner had finally chosen to give up the ghost.

Raymond wasn’t gonna lie. It was miserable.

The whole office felt sticky, like the air was half-glue, and from floor-to-ceiling everything was coated in a thin veneer of condensation and sweat. He didn’t even have to pick up papers anymore when he went through old case files - if he rested his elbow on them long enough, they’d just stick to his arm on their own. Worst of all, even the refrigerator was powerless to the summer’s onslaught, so no one could keep their drinks cold, and Ray spent most of several days subsisting entirely on a diet of drippy notes and boiling Yoohoo.

It was starting to feel like that Twilight Zone episode where it gets so hot that the paint melts off a canvas, and then that one woman dies on the spot.

(Currently, Ray could relate.)

The HVAC people were apparently coming by Friday, but the week preceding it felt like an eternity, and slowly but surely, everyone was starting to call in sick, or ask if they could work from home. Mr. Edgeworth said yes, of course. He would have said yes to him, too, if he’d asked - Raymond’s sure of it.

But Ray wasn’t a coward. He was a man. He wasn’t gonna let something like excruciatingly unbearable summer heat that would undoubtedly have ill effects on both his physical and mental health knock him down for the count.

…Besides, he got the feeling that Mr. Edgeworth would be at the office even if no one else came, stubbornly suffering in this sweatbox for the sake of being near his law book collection while he worked a case. Raymond figured that misery at least deserved company, right?

Even if that company was a high schooler with a crush on him. Better than nobody!

…To be clear, while this was a pretty hot scenario literally, it was not exactly a hot scenario figuratively. Honestly, it was pretty gross.

(Maybe some people were super aroused by heat stroke, but Raymond Shields was not one of those people.)

So the fact that they were baking to death was definitely very unsexy. But… it was the results that were the problem.

“Raymond?”

Ray glanced over his shoulder, chewing the last bite of his depressingly doughy notebook page with little enthusiasm. “Yeah? What’s up, Mr. Edgeworth…?”

The man in question had long since removed his glasses - heat-induced fog was not a battle he could win - and was now squinting at him from across the room, suggesting that he currently saw little more than an indistinct blur in a porkpie hat.

“I… realize it goes against workplace formality, but… since it’s so hot, do you mind if I unbutton my collar?”

“Mr. Edgeworth, you’ve been letting me wear a striped T-shirt to work for two years.”

“I… well, that’s… you’re an employee so naturally the rules would be less restrictive - ”

“Mr. Edgeworth?” Raymond folded his arms. “You’re good.”

“...All right, then, if you’re sure.”

Still looking rather self-conscious, he fiddled with the top two buttons of his nice dress shirt until they came free, and began lightly fanning himself with his hand like a Southern belle.

This should have been the end of the conversation, which would have been just fine and good... except there was a problem.

Raymond couldn’t tear his eyes away from him.

Or, rather, the exposed skin around Mr. Edgeworth’s neck. And his sudden, incredible urge to… kiss it.

Now, for the record, Raymond usually wanted to kiss Mr. Edgeworth. There wasn’t typically a day that went by in which he didn’t want to kiss Mr. Edgeworth. On the cheek, when he’d arrive at the office; on the forehead, when he was struggling with a case; on the lips, when his mouth turned up in one of his rare little smiles.

(Ray was pretty sure his boss was one of the most kissable people who had ever lived, and he would not take constructive criticism.)

But, whether it was the heat messing with his brain, or the dehydration, or just the tangible realness of his longtime mentor, and the gentle curve of the prominent collarbone that he’d never seen before today - the cheek and the forehead and the lips weren’t… enough.

It wasn’t like Raymond hadn’t ever thought about it. He’d always liked the way Mr. Edgeworth looked - his soft hands, his sharp, handsome features, the broad, masculine curve of his shoulders and chest - and Ray would never admit that a solid 50% of his enthusiasm for distributing hugs around the office was the the chance to throw his arms around his neck, and feel the warmth of Mr. Edgeworth’s body on his for just a moment.

But he’d always snapped out of it, before - an automatic impulse to pull the emergency brake on this horny train of thought before it ever reached its destination.

Not today.

By God, not today.

Instead, he let his gaze linger, and imagined walking over, casually, as if to ask a question - and catching him off guard by grabbing one of his lapels, and kissing his neck.

(Raymond wasn’t 100% sure what Mr. Edgeworth’s real-life reaction to this would be beyond “incredible confusion and shock,” but in his mind, he could pretend that… well, it was stupid and wrong, but since there was no one else in the office, he could pretend that a part of Mr. Edgeworth knew what he was doing when he loosened his collar.

That he was doing it for him.)

His sleeves were rolled up, too, in another futile attempt to beat the heat, and it occurred to Raymond that he’d never seen Mr. Edgeworth’s forearms before, either, which was kind of a testament to his insane level of professionalism that Ray could only hope to someday achieve.

One obstacle to achieving said professionalism was that Ray was currently far more interested in how it might feel to brush his thumb over the place where his mentor’s arm met his wrist (that part was super sensitive, right?), and follow it up with several more kisses, trailing from his sleeve all the way down to his hands.

Raymond wondered how Mr. Edgeworth’s skin would feel under his lips.

Probably… really soft...

no, no, no, stop it, Ray! That’s creepy! What if today is the day Mr. Edgeworth gains the ability to read minds, and he looks inside your head and sees you wanna kiss him in ways that are definitely unwelcome in a workplace environment??

But if Mr. Edgeworth had learned to read minds, he was being awfully polite about it. In fact, he wasn’t even looking up at him when he’d first turned around - 

- oh wait he was looking now.

The second they made eye contact (of course he was gonna notice, stupid, with how long you were just staring at him), Raymond immediately broke it, and lowered his head, ears hot with shame.

Seriously, Ray? You’re getting all hot and bothered over some collarbone and forearms? Are you a nun?? What’s next, ankles?!

“Er, Raymond…?”

“Ack!”

The intern in question just barely avoided falling out of his chair. (And tried to banish thoughts of Mr. Edgeworth’s ankles.)

“I, um…” His mentor looked more than a little bewildered. “My apologies for startling you. I wasn’t sure if you were staring into space, or if you intended to ask me a question, or...”

“Oh! Yeah, I was just - just staring into space! I, uh, get distracted really easily.”

Mr. Edgeworth chuckled just a little, though not unkindly. “I’m aware.” 

He didn’t seem to have caught the lie - well, it wasn’t really a lie, per se, but Ray knew for a fact that Mr. Edgeworth’s awareness didn’t extend to the target of most of his assistant’s distractions these days. Thankfully.

(The eternal cluelessness of Gregory Edgeworth was the source of Raymond’s relief just as often as it was of his frustration. It was also a pretty good name for a band.)

“If the atmosphere here is distracting you, then you know you’re free to go home - ”

No! I mean, no, that’s not what’s distracting me - I mean, it’s not distracting me! At all!”

Raymond was increasingly certain that he’d flunk a lie detector test even if he was telling the truth.

“Well, if you insist upon staying, then remember what we’ve talked about.” Mr. Edgeworth had gone into teacher mode, but gentler than most Raymond could recall from his past schooling. “Take slow, deep breaths, and do your best to focus on just one thing at a time.”

Do my best…

Okay. He was going to do it.

Ray was going to spend the next hour looking down at this half-finished form he needed to fill out, and he was only going to focus on that. He was going to take slow, deep breaths of the humid summer air, and stop thinking of anything else.

He was going to focus on the words, instead of his hands, which kept the clipboard in place as he tried to make his squiggles legible. He was going to focus on which pile of folders to put this one in, instead of how small his own wrists seemed as he did so.

Raymond was so bad at remembering the time that he’d considered getting a watch, but it always seemed awkward, too large for his slender hands. That, at least, was something that hadn’t been completely inspired by Mr. Edgeworth, since he’d wanted one long before the two ever met. Besides, there was no way Ray could afford a watch like his, anyway - it looked incredibly fancy on his mentor’s wrist, so it was probably way out of his low, low price range.

Granted, Raymond didn’t actually know anything about watches, but then again, he was pretty sure Mr. Edgeworth would look good with anything on his wrist. Even if it was a cheap watch, or a chunky plastic bracelet, or handcuffs.

Hey, Raymond? Uh, why did you think of handcuffs??

And before he realized it, he had decidedly forgotten about doing any work.

By the time he did realize it, it had been at least ten to fifteen minutes of him just sitting there in silence, hoping and praying that Mr. Edgeworth didn’t ask him again if he needed something because he wasn’t sure he could come up with a response that wasn’t something along the lines of, Yeah, actually, Mr. Edgeworth, I wouldn’t mind kissing you up and down after I handcuff you to the table. Is that cool with you?

A mischievous part of him thought saying that would almost be worth it, just to see the look on his mentor’s face. To totally break the composure Mr. Edgeworth seemed to invest so much time in crafting on the outside, though anyone that really knew the man would know that behind that was several layers of dork.

Raymond wasn’t sure what it said about him that the more he loved the way Gregory looked when he was put-together, the more he wanted to see everything that made him that way strewn across the office floor.

Maybe he just wanted to see him finally relax, with his guard totally down, and he hoped that at least one place Mr. Edgeworth could be unguarded was right underneath a certain Raymond Shields.

To be the man who could make him feel comfortable... hehe! 

That was a pretty great dream.

“Are you really all right?”

Raymond nearly went into cardiac arrest. Desperately, he lowered his head, hoping Mr. Edgeworth’s nearsightedness also extended to blushing law assistants.

“Yeah! I’m great! Doing absolutely okay!”

Gregory raised an eyebrow. “For someone who’s doing absolutely okay, you sound a bit guilty.”

“Guilty? Me?? Where’d you get that idea, ehehe…?”

He trailed off in embarrassment, praying it didn’t show in his cheeks or his ears and especially not anywhere else. But if Mr. Edgeworth noticed, he didn’t say anything - only regarded him with a mixture of worry and amusement, then returned to his paperwork.

I’m sorry, Mr. Edgeworth...

I know we promised we’d be honest with each other, as friends, but...

I can’t be honest with you about this!

 


 

Even though the AC had been fixed, Raymond still spent a whole lot of days at the office feeling, um, warm.

…Because unfortunately, the fantasies were becoming kind of an all-the-time thing.

It wasn’t for lack of trying to fight them or anything, he swears! It was more like… no matter how much he fought them, they kept coming back… and even if he tried to push them way down into the deep depths of his brain, they’d just find their way into his subconscious and show up in his dreams, so there was kinda no point. 

Raymond Shields was totally whipped, and completely doomed.

Mostly, it was stuff similar to that first day, but sometimes it was Gregory on the offensive - interrupting their study of a case by suddenly, fiercely kissing him, pushing him backwards, straddling him on the office couch with an irresistible confidence in their shared desire.

(He’d bring his lips close, and murmur, “Could you please call me Gregory…?” as Raymond felt the brush of fingers against the edge of his hips, and he’d be struck by how informal that request was, how intimate, despite the fact that he should probably have been keyed onto the whole informal intimacy thing by the fact that Mr. Edgeworth was undressing him with his knee between his thighs. But, well, he still wasn’t used to this whole “fantasizing about real actual people” thing yet.)

One rather embarrassing dream he’d had when he was nineteen had involved them sitting at Raymond’s desk, reviewing a case, since Mr. Edgeworth had asked him if he needed help, and he’d field him questions one after the other after the other, and Raymond was delighted to know the answers, knocking them out of the park one by one, and then suddenly Mr. Edgeworth was moving forward, his breath against his ear as he praised his knowledge, and praised him, his fingers brushing against the zipper on the front of Raymond’s pants - 

-and, well, uh, it was probably obvious what happened after that.

(Raymond had the misfortune of being at the office the following morning, and having Mr. Edgeworth lean over him slightly and ask if he needed some help, and he ended up having to carefully hide the lower half of his body under his desk until his highly visible reaction to those words faded away.)

It was the sort of thing Mr. Edgeworth would never do in real life, even if he did feel the same way. He wasn’t fierce - not outside of the courtroom, anyway. He wasn’t confidently affectionate - what confidence he did have in that regard was dedicated to taking care of his son. And he definitely wasn’t the type to be sitting next to his young intern and suddenly go hands-first for the gold. (Or he’d definitely be in prison by now.)

After all, he was sweet, and gentle, and reserved, and Raymond thought that lying beneath Gregory Edgeworth would be like being kissed by a hundred butterflies.

But secretly, he wished that if they were dating - a silly, impossible word he should have chased out of his mind long ago - that they might be lying in each other’s embrace, and the first few butterflies might have made their landing, and Raymond would touch his cheek and ask, “How would you feel about being a little more forceful, this time?”

He could see the way the request would color Mr. Edgeworth’s face, would cause him to retreat ever so slightly into that endearing shyness that Ray was so fond of. Raymond would backpedal with a laugh, coupled with an apology for asking too much, only to be cut off by Gregory’s lips touching his own, and the somewhat embarrassed assertion that he’d “see what he could do.”

It would be halting, and uneven, and Raymond imagined that at every scratch of skin or scrape of teeth that he’d stop, look into his face, worry that he’d gone too far, until it became almost unbearable in the most charming way. And he’d have to pull him back into his chest with a sheepish smile, and reassure him that he wanted this. Wanted him.

…It would be wonderful.

Never dull. Raymond had gotten so incredibly angry the first time he’d heard Mr. Edgeworth call himself that that he’d sworn he’d travel to the ends of the earth to find whoever had said so, and punch the living daylights out of them.

(In hindsight, this may not have been the best way of convincing Mr. Edgeworth that he was no longer a child. But he had laughed, and his eyes had looked a little less sad, so it was all right.)

 


 

He confessed his favorite fantasy, though, was the only one he’d given a storyline, even if it was still just as impossible as the rest of them.

In six months, now, Ray would be twenty-one; and he hoped beyond hope that the two of them would go to a bar to celebrate. Maybe on his birthday, though it might be better to just be near it instead - being a New Year’s baby was decidedly inconvenient for making plans.

He hoped this because firstly, he’d never seen Mr. Edgeworth drink, and was sure the results could be nothing less than adorable, and secondly, though he’d never tried alcohol himself as an insistent law-abiding citizen, Raymond was sure a few shots and a holiday would make him brave enough to do something.

Do something when they arrive at Gregory’s house, as he still insists upon lending his guest room after a long, half-delirious train ride. Do something when Mr. Edgeworth apologizes for keeping him out so late, as if even four years later, Raymond is still his moral responsibility.

Do something like stumble over to the living room armchair where Gregory sits and say, “...Never apologize,” and kiss him hard.

He’d feel surprise in Gregory, at first, shock at Raymond’s brazenness, but ease into it, slowly, parting his lips slightly for him, tasting like mint and fruity cocktails. Ray would let a hand pull gently at Gregory’s tie, while the other untucked his top, sliding up the warm skin of his back, and he’d feel a contented sigh against his mouth as Gregory tentatively reached for the bottom of his shirt, his fingers gliding across Raymond’s stomach and chest like feathers. Yet even after this clear display of affection, even through the loosened inhibitions of a few too many daiquiris, Ray’s certain that once he pulled away, Gregory would tilt his head and ask, “Why me?”

(The audacity of this oblivious, perfect man.)

Raymond would be too tired, too passionate, and much too drunk to explain a near half-decade of feelings in words. Not then, at least. That would come later, with sobriety and post-coital bliss.

So instead, he’d draw very, very close to him, nibbling his ear until it elicited a helpless sort of gasp, letting his hands leave his shoulders and travel down, down, until one was caressing his rear and the other had found purchase in the dip next to Gregory’s thigh, Raymond’s long fingers mere inches from brushing against the warmth he so desperately wanted to touch.

“How many places do I have to kiss you... for you to believe how much I want you, Gregory?”

(As if Ray could or would ever say that in real life. He was pretty sure he was neither that forward nor that cool. This was like, alternate universe Ray Shields, the hot sexy maniac.)

And Gregory would smile, maybe with a small chuckle, and rest his head in the crook of Raymond’s neck, as if to say, I suppose I’ll have to find out, won’t I?

…Honestly, Raymond kinda lost the plot after that. He’d get distracted by details like “how do we get all the way to one of the bedrooms if we’re in the living room armchair and we’re already ready to go?” or “what are we supposed to do if the commotion accidentally wakes up Miles and we have to explain why we’re wasted and half-naked?” or “wait, oh no, I forgot about safe sex and STD prevention, didn’t I??”

So the only part he really had after that was the end - after they’d long since been tangled in bedsheets (light blue ones, Mr. Edgeworth’s favorite color, that went so well with his pretty gray eyes), and they were so, so, close, with every part of their bodies touching, and Raymond would let his lips move lower, and lower still, and once he’d almost reached that final target, he’d look up and meet his eyes and say once again, “Believe me.”

Believe how much I want you.

Believe me, Gregory Edgeworth.

Raymond thought that was a pretty good way to end it, if he said so himself.

(The morning after, when they were both nursing headaches and Gregory began nursing a twinge of regret, Raymond would stop it before it even got started, and pull him close, and say, “I’ve loved you since I was seventeen, and I can’t stop.”

He would feel the tension leave Gregory’s muscles, and his hands brush Raymond’s back in silent affirmation, and they would be together from then, and that would be that.)

But he wasn’t a suave character from some erotic romance novel. He doubted he had the wherewithal or the experience to even try. He was just dorky, goofy, regular old Raymond Shields, with the long limbs and the messy hair and the baby face he couldn’t seem to grow out of if he tried. And while he wasn’t exactly ashamed of the way he looked, every time he looked in the mirror these days he thought:

Who would ever wanna do something like that with somebody like me?

After all, wasn’t he the one who, no matter how he grew, in height or in stubble, would always be that same naïve teenaged boy he’d been years before, in Mr. Edgeworth’s eyes? Wasn’t he the one that, for all his striped shirts and quirky hats and silly ties, was really the dull one, here?

Not like the breathtaking, fantasy-making Mr. Edgeworth. Nothing like him.

So he kept everything to himself, locked away inside the world of dreams, hoping they’d eventually fade away. Seeing as he’d been trying that tactic for four years, he didn’t exactly have much hope of it working, but... it was still worth a try. Or, well, maybe the rest of his life would be like this.

(…He didn’t mind that thought as much as he probably should have.)

 


 

“See you around, Mr. Edgeworth!”

Raymond grinned and waved at him as he made his way out the door, and Gregory smiled and gave a small wave in response as he watched Raymond go. But...

Hm.

There was something... different today, that he couldn’t put a finger on.

Something about his curly hair, or the way his tank top showed his neck and bare shoulders; his long arms and legs, the warm, tan color of his skin. The curve of his eyelashes, and his lips when he smiled.

It made Gregory feel something - like an unknown answer to a question he wasn’t certain how to ask.

Troubling, to be sure, Gregory thought to himself, turning back to his paperwork to shake it from his mind.

Yet...

Something about that feeling... 

…was wonderful.