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the unwritten lists of tomorrow

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Miles wakes up warm.

Sunlight streams in through the half-open window, curtains billowing lightly as a sticky breeze drifts in. A weight lies against his chest. Black hair tickles Miles’s chin, arms wrapped solidly around his stomach, holding him close.

This is a dream. Miles breathes it in, committing it to memory.

Miles feels movement and looks down, meeting sleepy-but-alert, brown eyes that melt as their gazes meet.

Phoenix looks at him for a long second. Miles sinks into his gaze. Time hangs in the air by a gossamer thread, suspended and weightless. Miles breathes.

Then, he shifts. Phoenix takes the hint and disentangles himself, just as he has every morning. They don’t look at each other as they get ready for the day. They don’t say a word.

They make their way to the kitchen, where Trucy is already up, whipping pancake batter. Pess sits by her feet, attentively watching for a snack.                                                                                                                                            

“Morning, Daddy-o! Morning, Miles!” she sings with every ounce of thirteen year old energy she possesses, giving both of them a kiss on the cheek. Miles winces at her volume, but he can’t stop a smile overtaking his face.

“Morning, baby girl!” Phoenix croons back, hugging her tight and rubbing his stubbly chin against her face. Miles revels in her squeals, in the gold-soaked warmth of them all together.

“Good morning,” he murmurs, the words coming out fond, heavy with feeling. Trucy beams at him; Phoenix smiles, too, but his is edged with something that Miles doesn’t look closely at.

He only has one more day of this, of mornings in the arms of the man he loves, of time with a girl he’s rapidly coming to love as his own.

This is a dream. He’s going to live in its magic as much as he can, until, like most good things in his life do, it ends.

-

The changes to Miles’s daily routine come in the form of intermittent texts from Phoenix and Trucy, the differences not in the texts themselves, but in the mundanity of their contents. Since Miles’s temporary stay in the Wrights’ home, something has shifted, like an unspoken barrier has melted away. Now, the Wrights text for no reason, and Miles does the same.

He ignores the question of whether they go back to normal after this ends.

look how boring math is :( Trucy writes, sending a picture of messy algebra on a chalkboard, foregrounded by her desk, which is covered in—confetti and mice ? Miles decides not to ask.

Pay attention, Miles sends, grinning when Trucy sends back a crying face.

A picture from Phoenix of two different brands of olives at the grocery store—which one suits ur delicate sensibilities?

I won’t apologize for having good taste. The one on the right is better. More flavour complexity.

Phoenix sends back an eyes-rolling emoji. “good taste” lol like it rlly matters

Miles smirks. It does, but I wouldn’t expect that level of sensitivity from someone with bedsheets with a sub-100 thread count.

there’s no diff bw 100 and 500 Miles!!!!! and no diff bw these olives!!!

It’s truly impressive how much Phoenix’s digital literacy has increased since Miles forced a smartphone on him and Phoenix started living with a child. Miles snorts, about to respond, when another text comes in.

besides, I don’t see u complaining about my sheets when we’re in bed

Miles inhales, breath punched out of his chest. They aren’t supposed to acknowledge this— whatever this is. They haven’t yet in the time Miles has been living with them. What is Phoenix doing?

I’m going back to work. Good day.

Three dots pop up as Phoenix writes back; Miles waits, tense. They bounce once, twice, then disappear.

Miles leans back, digs the heels of his hands into his eyes. He takes another deep breath and lets it pass.

This is a dream. Best not to complicate things until it ends, and he’s forced to wake up.

-

Dinner tonight isn’t quite as light-hearted as the last two weeks have been. Phoenix and Trucy have gone all out with their pizzas, which, while they lack anything that might be called adequate presentation, are delightful in their flavour.

“These olives are good, aren’t they?” Miles muses, smirking at the look Phoenix cuts at him that means he agrees but won’t admit it.

For some reason, Trucy’s eyes are intent on them tonight, flicking back and forth as Miles and Phoenix banter. Phoenix is different, too, that same strange energy from this morning pervading his movements.

“I’m going to do homework,” Trucy says when they’re done, hugging Miles tight. When she hugs Phoenix, Miles sees her hiss something into his ear, and wonder of wonders, Phoenix blushes , ducking his head.

Trucy vanishes into her room and Pess settles outside her door, as has become a strange habit of hers. Phoenix turns to Miles and waggles his eyebrows. “Hey, want some wine?”

“Actual wine or the swill you call wine?” Miles teases.

“Elitist jerk,” Phoenix snorts, pouring them two glasses anyway.

They sit in silence for a deep moment, listening to the faint noises of the night beyond the window.

“Phoenix,” Miles murmurs. “I know I said it already, but thank you for allowing me and Pess to stay with you. It’s been a relief for her to be somewhere she’s comfortable while my renovations occur; she would have been a nightmare in a hotel room.”

Phoenix regards him silently, something lurking in his gaze. “Was it just for her benefit that you’re here, Miles?” he asks quietly.

Miles balks. “I—I wouldn’t have imposed otherwise.”

To his surprise, Phoenix’s jaw clenches, irritation lighting up his eyes. “Imposed?” he repeats slowly. “You think you imposed ?”

“Phoenix—”

“Miles,” Phoenix enunciates, his words almost a snap. “Look me in the eyes and tell me it wasn’t the most obvious fucking thing on earth that I want you here.”

Miles stares at him, blood thundering in his ears.

“We’ve woken up in each other’s arms for two straight weeks. We eat breakfast and lunch together. You help Trucy with homework, and you help me with—” Phoenix laughs, shattered. “With every goddamn thing that’s gone wrong in the last few years, and you love us, Miles! You love us.” Softer, more agonized, he whispers, “You love me.” Phoenix swallows hard, chest heaving. “Don’t you dare lie to me by telling me you don’t.”

Miles’s hands shake. Dimly, he registers Phoenix’s face falling at his silence.

“I wasn’t—I wasn’t supposed to yell at you. God, this wasn’t how this was supposed to go,” Phoenix says, jagged. “Trucy and I wanted to talk to you. We wanted—” he cuts off, his mouth twisting, then looks up again, eyes electric with determination, like he’s standing opposite Miles at the defense bench, ready to take the court by storm. “We wanted to ask you to stay.”

Miles sucks in a breath, eyes wide. “What?” he says faintly.

“Stay with us. Be with us. Not living with us, not if you don’t want, but—” Phoenix reaches for him, expression so, so soft. “But these two weeks didn’t just happen, did they? They weren’t a pretense. They weren’t—”

“A dream,” Miles says, caught in the spell of Phoenix’s gaze.

“A dream,” Phoenix echoes. His hands land on Miles’s, curling around them, cradling. “Stay, Miles.”

Miles’s heart cracks in chest. Fear rises above the euphoria, filling his mouth with bile, and he stands abruptly, hating himself for the shock on Phoenix’s face.

“I’m sorry,” he gasps. “I can’t.”

Phoenix stills. His expression crumbles for an instant before it shutters, impossible to read. “You can’t,” he says, flat.

“This isn’t—I don’t get to keep this. I don’t—”

“Yes, you do!” Phoenix exclaims. “Miles, we’re all yours. I’m all yours.” He steps closer, halting when Miles stumbles back. His eyes turn sad. “I always have been, from the moment we met.”

The words sent sparks running through his veins, right beside the thrumming panic. “I’m sorry,” Miles repeats, helpless. He runs.

The apartment’s warmth feels stifling now, causing his shirt to stick to his skin with sweat. Pess follows him into his room, whining as he shoves his belongings into his bags

“Sorry, sweetheart,” Miles says miserably, stroking her head. “We need to go.” He grabs Pess’s leash and makes to leave.

He freezes. 

Trucy stands by the door.

“Trucy…” Miles can’t find the words.

She looks towards at the couch, where Phoenix no longer is, and understanding passes over her face. She bites her lip and pads over to put her arms around Miles’s chest. 

Suddenly, Miles badly wants to cry.

“Daddy’s really good at waiting, Miles,” Trucy says quietly, looking up at him. “And so am I.” She smiles,  eyes sharp. “But don’t keep us waiting too long, okay?”

Miles’s heart crawls to sit in his throat as he registers the weight of this girl, who has one person in the world to call family, reaching out to him, putting her heart of steel in his hands and trusting that he won’t let them down.

Trucy searches his face for a long moment, then nods. “Good night,” she murmurs, and lets him pass.

Miles makes it around the corner before he collapses, legs buckling underneath him. Pess crawls into his lap, licking his chin.

Phoenix’s eyes flash through his mind, then Trucy’s, both intent, hopeful, expectant. 

What am I doing? Miles asks himself, heartsick. Why do I keep pulling away?

The answer is obvious: Miles Edgeworth is scared. 

He’s scared that getting too close will ruin him if he loses them both--because he’s lost so much, and he’s not so naive as to think he won’t lose more. He’s scared to let himself have this one good, brilliant thing, because he still struggles to see himself as someone worth loving.

But Phoenix and Trucy know that already.

For the first time since he arrived at the Wrights’, Miles asks himself one question he hadn’t allowed himself to entertain before: What do I want?

The answer is obvious. 

Don’t keep us waiting too long, okay?

He’s always going to be afraid, Miles realizes. Why not be afraid and have them?

The thought sends him shooting to his feet, Pess huffing as she’s moved aside. When Miles checks his watch, he realizes with a start that two hours have passed since he left. Phoenix will be in bed by now.

Miles makes his way back to the apartment. Even before he can knock, Trucy opens the door, displaying her terrifying prescience.

Her eyes are knowing, proud. Go, she mouths, before she disappears into her own room, urging Pess along.

Miles creeps to Phoenix’s room and slowly opens it.

Phoenix lies on his back, the collar of his t-shirt askew, revealing his collarbones and a bit of his chest. He hoists himself up with an elbow. His gaze meets Miles’s, the dim glow of the streetlamps casting shadows over his face. 

Miles’s knees weaken. He wants. He wants. He wants , ferociously, and for once, he lets himself. 

But the space between feeling and doing is a gaping chasm, and Miles finds himself rooted to the spot. Phoenix doesn’t make it easy for him. He waits, patient, eyes dark and intent on his. Your move, he says silently. Queen to A4; checkmate.

Phoenix has spent a good portion of his life chasing after Miles. Miles knows it’s far past time to return the favour.

Miles opens his mouth. “We’re getting a new mattress. Higher thread counts for the pillows and sheets.” 

Phoenix’s eyebrows shoot up. His mouth quirks, eyes dancing with laughter. “Whatever you say, dear,” he murmurs, rasping.

Dear. Miles shudders. 

“Phoenix,” he says urgently, roughly, surprising himself with his intensity. “It was real for me. It was all real.”

Phoenix’s smile fades. He lets out a long breath, expression almost tremulous. His eyes shine like shattered glass.

He looks like Miles feels, undone by desire.

“Come to bed, Miles,” Phoenix says, low.

Miles does.