Chapter 1: Start
“I cannot believe you’re out of bed, Wright.”
Phoenix cracks a smile, tries to hide quite how lightheaded he is as he maneuvers down the courthouse steps. “Well, it wasn’t like I could leave this to you, right?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Edgeworth sounds bitter, sarcasm heavy on every word, but he’s taking the steps much more slowly than Phoenix has known him to before, is keeping perfect pace with the other’s slow stride.. “You should be in bed still.”
Phoenix waves a hand with as much casual disregard as he can manage. “C’mon, do you know how boring it is to stay in bed? I only just got up, there’s no way I’m going back now.”
They hit the bottom of the stairs. Phoenix walks forward to the edge of the curb, hoping he looks less like he’s swaying than he feels he is, peers down the street in search of an oncoming taxi.
There’s a dangerous edge to his name. Phoenix doesn’t look back. “Yeah, what is it, Edgeworth?”
“You’re not planning on going back to the office, are you?”
Phoenix doesn’t turn around. He’s better at dodging questions when his interrogator can’t see his face. “What? Why would I go back to the office?”
“Wright.” The irritation is so audible Phoenix doesn’t have to turn to see Edgeworth’s finger tapping against his folded arms. “You are not going back to the office.”
“I just --” Phoenix starts, and then the familiar shape of a taxi turns onto the block, and he starts to raise his hand to signal himself freedom.
Fingers close over the cuff of his jacket. Edgeworth steps to the corner, flags down the taxi with so much self-assurance he’s turning back to Phoenix before the vehicle has even drawn to a complete stop.
“You’re going home, Wright,” he says, reaching for the handle of the cab without looking. “If I have to take you there myself, I’ll do so.” The grip on his wrist tugs Phoenix off-balance, stuffs him into the backseat and shuts the door on him; he’s still pushing himself upright and trying to catch up with events when Edgeworth opens the front door himself, climbs into the passenger side and calmly gives Phoenix’s address to the driver.
“How do you know where I live?” Phoenix asks from the back.
The look Edgeworth gives him it at once chilly and weighed down with condescension. “Wright. I am a prosecutor. I have led investigations.” He turns back towards the front of the cab, staring out at the road with as much intensity as if it is his attention keeping the vehicle on the right path. “Of course I know your address.”
“I don’t know your address.”
Phoenix can hear the disdain in Edgeworth’s voice without the other even turning around. “As I live in Europe, that’s not unreasonable.”
There’s something not quite right about that chain of logic. Phoenix can sense it without being able to pin it down or form words around it in his head; he turns it over, tries to consider the question from a different angle, but it won’t come together. Maybe he does need to rest, because he’s still pondering it when the cab pulls up in front of his apartment.
Edgeworth is out of the car before Phoenix can unbuckle his seatbelt and slide across the seat to manage the door, pulling the door open for all the world like a valet except for the scowl at his lips.
“Come on, Wright, you ought to be in bed.”
A few extra minutes isn’t going to hurt anything, Phoenix is certain, but he doesn’t bother protesting. “Just a minute, let me pay the fare.”
Edgeworth rolls his eyes so ostentatiously Phoenix can see it in his peripheral vision. “I took care of it. Must I lead you like a child?”
“Oh.” Phoenix hesitates, his motions stalled into confusion for a moment, then he shoves his wallet back into his pocket, offers a nod of thanks to the driver, who looks alarmingly like he’s about to laugh, and gets out of the cab as quickly as he can before Edgeworth really does make good on his threat.
“That’s better.” Edgeworth doesn’t actually grab Phoenix’s arm, as the other was half-afraid he might, but for all his scowl and voiced impatience he is slow about the walk up to the front door, so it’s Phoenix who takes the lead over the short distance.
“Okay,” Phoenix declares as he pushes the door open, deliberately takes a step inside. “I’m home. Happy now?” When he turns around Edgeworth is watching him with folded arms, and he’s not frowning anymore but the self-satisfaction in the almost-curve of a smile at his mouth is possibly worse than his anger.
“Don’t go back to the office for a week,” Edgeworth says in lieu of answering. “You need to recover, Wright, there can’t be anything more critical in the next few days.”
“Not now that the case is over,” Phoenix admits. He lifts his hand in a mock salute, offers a smile as conciliatory as he can manage. “I promise I’ll take it easy, okay?”
Edgeworth doesn’t even nod. He just looks away, turns his head down so his face is in shadow. Phoenix can see his fingers tighten at the sleeves of his coat. “Good.” His voice is softer, a little more gentle and a little less steady, but he’s turning away before Phoenix can try to see his face and coax more meaning out of the sound. “Goodnight, Wright.”
Phoenix blinks, but the farewell is unmistakable, Edgeworth is already striding out to the curb. He steps back from the door, swings it shut until it clicks on the sight of Edgeworth’s retreating form.
And opens it again a moment later. “Edgeworth!”
It’s not as loud as he intends; the voice that echoes in the courtroom dissolves in the open air, until Phoenix doesn’t expect Edgeworth to react at all. He’s just taking a breath for another, louder call, when the other turns back to look at him.
“What is it, Wright?” He doesn’t sound like he’s shouting, but his voice carries as clearly as if he’s still on Phoenix’s doorstep. There must be some trick to it.
“Where are you staying?”
Edgeworth pauses. It’s too far to see his face, but Phoenix can see something tense in his shoulders as he forms his reply. “I’m not.”
“What?” Phoenix takes a step back out of the doorway. “You’re not staying?”
Edgeworth huffs, the motion visibly shifting the tension out of his shoulders, and comes back in, retracing his steps until they’re within conversational distance again. “I have things to do back in Europe, Wright.”
“But.” Phoenix feels inexplicably betrayed, like something he had been taking for granted since Edgeworth came back in the first place is being stolen from him. “But I’ve barely seen you at all, yet.”
“I only came in for the case,” Edgeworth points out, so reasonably Phoenix isn’t sure why he didn’t think of this before. “I have a chartered jet waiting for me, and I hardly packed for a vacation.”
“Can’t you get another flight back later in the week?” Phoenix asks. “I never see you anymore since you --” and there’s an opportunity here, all he has to do is take it. “-- since you let me think you died.”
It’s something of a low blow. They’ve talked this through, already, and Phoenix might not totally understand Edgeworth’s logic but he has forgiven him; he’s never been good at holding grudges. Still, the other man flinches as though from a blow, looks away and down, and Phoenix jumps at the opportunity.
“Just for a few days,” he pleads. “You don’t even have to get a hotel or anything, I have a couch you can stay on, or I can stay on the couch and you can take the bedroom.”
“You’re not sleeping on a couch while you’re sick,” Edgeworth insists. “I have nothing with me, Wright, I can’t possibly stay.”
“I’ll lend you some t-shirts,” Phoenix blurts. “You must be nearly my size, you can raid my entire closet.”
“A tempting offer,” Edgeworth deadpans, but his hands are loosening at the sleeves of his suit, and his mouth is starting to twitch. Besides, sarcasm usually means he’s amused, and that’s always a good sign.
“It’ll be fun,” Phoenix insists, and then another burst of inspiration strikes. “I’ll be so bored by myself.” He takes a breath, puts on the best expression of innocence he can manage. “The office is really tempting after I’m stuck at home for a day or two, you know.”
“You are not going back in,” Edgeworth snaps before he realizes the implications of what he’s saying. Phoenix starts to grin before Edgeworth can pull his expression into a frown and fix him with a glare.
“Only a few days,” he declares, but he’s walking back up the few stairs to the door, and when Phoenix stands aside the other walks past him into the apartment without hesitating.
He can be as snappish about it as he wants. Phoenix knows a victory when he scores one.
Chapter 2: First Day
Phoenix grumbles something unintelligible at the soundtrack of his dream, rolls over in bed. He’s starting to slide back into unconsciousness when there’s another sound, like someone pounding on a door, and his name again, “WRIGHT,” so loudly that he starts to sit up before he is fully awake.
“Wha?” he says aloud. Then he blinks, the world shifts into focus around him, and he looks towards the shut bedroom door. “Edgeworth?”
“Wright.” The sound is muffled but there is an unmistakable note of relief in the sound. “Are you decent?”
“What?” Phoenix looks down -- he’s wearing a shirt, and boxers, and is mostly under the blankets anyway. “Yeah, sure.”
The door opens. Edgeworth is stepping into the room before he’s really taken in the surroundings, speaking before he offers any kind of greeting. “Where on earth do you keep the -- WRIGHT, what are you wearing?”
“Why aren’t you wearing pants?” Edgeworth demands, looking harried and frenzied and generally as unkempt as Phoenix has ever seen him.
“I’m covered,” Phoenix insists. “I only have the one pair of sweatpants and you’re wearing them. I’m not going to sleep in jeans.”
Edgeworth is flushing pink all across his face, as if he walked in on Phoenix truly exposed. It’s funny to get him to blush in general, but the effect is compounded by what he’s wearing -- a t-shirt, and Phoenix’s only sweatpants, and nothing else. His hair has clearly been finger-combed into some semblance of order, and the shirt and pants both fit him just fine, but in comparison to his usual suit-and-cravat-and-excess-of-dignity it’s undeniably hilarious to see him looking so human.
“Fine,” he says, dragging his gaze from Phoenix’s knee to the other’s face in exchange for his cheeks approaching red instead of pink. “Where is your tea?”
Phoenix blinks at this demand. “What are you talking about?”
“Tea,” Edgeworth repeats, as if emphasis will carry the coherency his original sentence lacked. “Where is yours?”
“I don’t have any,” Phoenix blinks, still fighting for full coherency. “Are you one of those people who need caffeine first thing in the morning? I think there’s some instant coffee up in the pantry in the back.”
Edgeworth makes a tiny strangled sound, as if Phoenix has possibly suggested they murder several small children and drink their blood in lieu of breakfast. “No, it must be tea. You don’t have any?”
Phoenix shakes his head, yawns. “Nope. What time is it?”
Edgeworth huffs, folds his arms. The effect of the stance is somewhat spoiled by what he’s wearing, but it’s a valiant effort. “Fine. Where’s the nearest store?”
Phoenix points. “Two blocks that way.”
Edgeworth turns on his heel, heads back down the hallway and out of sight.
“Edgeworth,” Phoenix shouts, swinging his legs out of bed and making for the doorway. “Hey, Edgeworth, you’re not walking to buy tea, are you?”
“Of course I am,” Edgeworth shouts back. Phoenix can hear the front door open. “If you kept some in the house, we wouldn’t have this crisis on our hands.”
The door shuts. Phoenix stands still for a moment; then he sighs, decides he’s already more awake than he wants to be, and goes back to put on a pair of jeans.
It’s far earlier than it has any right to be. The sun is up, at least, but Phoenix is fairly certain he’s lacking two or three hours of valuable recovery time thanks to Edgeworth’s caffeine addiction. But he’s awake now, and the kitchen is empty and Edgeworth is technically a guest, mostly, and there’s still most of a carton of eggs in the fridge and some green onions on the counter, so Phoenix makes the most of his morning by starting breakfast.
It takes Edgeworth longer than it should. The store is at most a five-minute walk, but Phoenix is still nearly done making the first omelette by the time the front door opens again.
“Edgeworth,” he yells without moving from the stove. “Do you like omelettes?”
There’s no response. Phoenix is just about to yell again when footsteps round the corner and Edgeworth comes into sight with a paper bag in hand.
“You don’t have a teapot at all, do you,” he offers by means of a greeting. Phoenix shakes his head. “Of course you don’t.” Edgeworth drops the bag on the counter, retrieves a box of tea bags from the interior and sets to work opening the shrink wrap on the box. “Cups, at least, I hope.”
“Yeah.” Phoenix flips the omelette over, leaves it to cook for a moment while he retrieves a mug from the cupboard. “This okay?”
“It’ll suffice.” Edgeworth takes it before returning to his struggles with the box; Phoenix fishes out a saucepan, half-fills it with water and sets it to boil before he pulls the omelette off the stove and slides it onto a plate.
“Here.” He offers it to Edgeworth, who is just peeling the last of the wrapping off the box and pulling a paper-wrapped teabag from the interior.
The other man glances at the plate without much interest -- then he pauses, looks back, looks at Phoenix’s face. “What is this?”
“An omelette,” Phoenix answers; then, when that elicits no comprehension, tries, “Breakfast?”
Edgeworth blinks, reaches to take the plate. “You made this?”
“No, my live-in chef did.” Phoenix rolls his eyes. “Yes, I did. What do you usually have for breakfast?”
Edgeworth is looking rather lost. “Tea.”
Phoenix grins. “That’s not breakfast.” He locates a fork, offers it to Edgeworth. “Go eat, I’ll be over in a minute. Water’s on for your tea, too.”
Edgeworth takes the fork, looks past Wright’s shoulder at the stovetop. “Is that a pot of water?”
“Edgeworth?” Phoenix waits until the other is looking at him. “Shut up and eat your breakfast.”
It takes a few minutes for him to finish the second omelette. By the time he’s coming to the table himself, the water has boiled and Edgeworth has managed to produce two mugs of tea, one of which he silently slides across the table in Phoenix’s direction when the other sits down. Over half of his omelette is gone, as well. Phoenix doesn’t comment on this. “How’s the tea?”
“Fine.” Edgeworth glares at his mug like it’s done something to offend him, takes a mouthful that has to be painfully hot. But he swallows without cringing, stares into the mug so long Phoenix thinks maybe he’s going for another infusion of liquid before he speaks. “It’s good.”
“The tea?” It’s too bitter for Phoenix’s taste, and blisteringly hot, but he figures he’ll give it some time to cool before he tries adding sugar.
“The omelette.” Edgeworth clears his throat, takes another mouthful of tea. “I didn’t know you could cook.”
Phoenix rocks back in his chair, trying to process the sound of the words and the meaning and the fact that that was almost a compliment, maybe, by Edgeworth standards. “I don’t, really. I mean, I can feed myself.”
Edgeworth coughs again, takes another bite and another swallow of tea to finish off the cup before he goes back to the kitchen to start another pot of water. While he’s over the stove with his back turned Phoenix can steal a glance at him, take in the slouch to his shoulders and the way his hair is tangled at the back of his neck, crushed flat by sleeping and absent the assistance of a comb into compliance.
Edgeworth doesn’t ask what Phoenix is grinning about when he comes back to the table, and Phoenix doesn’t offer. It’s far too entertaining to see Edgeworth with some of his guard down to draw his attention to the lack of it.
Chapter 3: Second Day
Phoenix doesn’t know how he knows that his name said in that tone is such a danger sign. He just knows, like alongside his fight-or-flight response and Circadian rhythm there’s another deep-seated instinct to start to panic when he hears Edgeworth sound like that. He looks up slowly, is case the other is glaring at him, but there’s nothing to see, just Edgeworth standing in front of Phoenix’s minimal DVD collection with his shoulders hunched under a borrowed t-shirt.
“Yes?” Phoenix says, carefully. Edgeworth has his arms folded; he can just make out the rhythmic tap of a finger on bare skin at the edge of the other man’s arm.
“What is this?”
“A DVD, probably,” Phoenix guesses.
This flippancy earns him a glance, a raised eyebrow over Edgeworth’s shoulder; then the other reaches out to pull something from the shelf before striding over to where Phoenix is sitting at the table.
“This.” He moves so quickly Phoenix is expecting to have something slammed down for his inspection, but at the last moment Edgeworth’s motion goes gentle as he eases a DVD onto the table with as much care as if it’s made of glass.
Phoenix stares at it for a moment. It’s still in the plastic wrap, and he’s not familiar with the case; it takes him a moment to place it, a gift from Maya a few months back during one of her more desperate Steel Samurai phases. “Ah. It’s a Steel Samurai DVD.” He chuckles self-deprecatingly, reaches up to ruffle at the back of his hair. “She’s been pushing me to watch it, so she thought maybe buying me the disc would get me to start it. But I spend most of my time at the office, so--”
Phoenix cuts himself off. Edgeworth is staring at him, his expression nearly blank of emotion but his mouth starting to form into a hard line as Phoenix continues. It seems safest to stop and get whatever explosion is forthcoming out of the way. “Edgeworth?”
“You don’t know what this is.” Edgeworth reaches out to rest his hand gently against the case. “Wright, this is an extremely rare special edition. It’s incredibly hard to track down in any sort of electronic format, much less in physical form. What was her source for this?”
“Uh.” Phoenix blinks. Edgeworth is leaning in closer, all his attention seemingly hinging on Phoenix’s answer. “I have no idea. Sorry?”
“I’ll have to speak to her,” Edgeworth says, like he’s making a mental note. “The episode at the end of this disc is almost entirely unknown. I’ve seen a few screencaps, a poorly translated synopsis, but --”
“Do you want to watch it?” This seems like an easy solution. “If you’re that into the show, we can put it on right now.”
Watching Edgeworth’s face over the next few seconds is like watching several minutes of reaction in the span of heartbeats. First his eyes go wide, his mouth twists into something that is nearly delight as he leans in closer; Phoenix can all but hear the “Do I want to” on his lips. Then self-awareness hits him all at once; Phoenix can see a moment of horror in his eyes, his almost-smile flickering into soft unthought panic before he leans away, retreating from Phoenix’s personal space and forming his lips around a frown. He turns his head sharply to the side, hides half his features in profile and the other in the shadow of his hair. It would be a more convincing imitation of unconcern if he didn’t still have his fingers on the case.
“This isn’t about what I want to do,” he declares at the wall, without looking back at Phoenix. “This is a gift, Wright, it was intended to be appreciated and you have been ignoring your responsibility as the recipient.” He tosses his hair back from his face, apparently secure enough in his composure to make eye contact again.
“I see.” Phoenix is going to laugh, he can feel it tugging at his lips. “Should I put it on, then?”
“It’s only fair to Maya’s generosity,” Edgeworth declares regally, but he’s sliding the case towards himself and beginning to tug at the shrink wrap without waiting for further discussion. Phoenix gets up precipitously, escapes to the living room where Edgeworth won’t see the amusement under his grin as he gets the television turned on and fiddles with the DVD player until it turns on.
Phoenix offers a single comment -- during the opening menu -- and gets so viciously shushed that he lapses into perfect silence for the remainder of the disc. It’s exactly as he remembers Steel Samurai -- a fairly standard show, rife with predictable tropes and stock characters and occasionally entertaining lines. It’s not a bad way to spend a few hours, but it’s hardly something he would actively pursue alone. But Edgeworth is riveted, staring at the screen so intently he doesn’t seem to notice when Phoenix starts watching him more than the show.
It’s far more pleasant to watch Edgeworth’s composure melt into true human enjoyment than to keep track of what is actually on the screen.
Chapter 4: Third Day
Phoenix realizes Edgeworth is drunk when the other falls while trying to climb over the back of the couch. At least he had the good sense to hand off the refilled wine glasses to the other before attempting this maneuver; Phoenix has deposited them on the coffee table by the time Edgeworth topples over to land ungracefully across the cushions.
“Are you okay?” Phoenix tries to ask. This comes out more as a laugh than he intends, but he’s reaching out to catch Edgeworth’s elbow and pull him upright in spite of the amusement under his words.
“I’m fine, Wright,” Edgeworth insists, but he closes his fingers around Phoenix’s wrist to catch his balance, keeps his hold for several seconds before he’s stable enough to reach for his wine glass.
Everything is a little bit hazy, and warm, and the bubble of curiosity that’s been lingering in Phoenix’s mind for months rises to the surface, breaks over his tongue so he’s speaking before he realizes what he’s going to ask. “Why do you always call me that?”
“Hm?” Edgeworth swallows a sip of wine, glances sideways at Phoenix. “Call you what?”
“Wright.” Phoenix twists sideways on the couch, angles his arm over the back so he can support his head. “You didn’t used to call me by my last name.”
Edgeworth snorts a laugh, his lips curving around a smile as he looks back at his glass. “It’s hardly professional to call you Phoenix in court.”
“We’re not in court right now.” Phoenix does reach for his glass, swallows a mouthful before setting it back down. It’s good, as far as he can tell, in spite of Edgeworth insisting that they drink the best first ‘while we can still appreciate it’ and this being the third bottle of the night.
“It’s not fair for me to call you Phoenix if you’re not reciprocating the gesture,” Edgeworth says, tossing his hair back from his face. He’s still turned towards his glass, as if he’s looking at the liquid, but he’s glancing sideways to maintain his view of Phoenix’s expression.
“Oh my god, you’re ridiculous,” Phoenix groans. “It is not that big of a deal.”
“You’re the one who asked,” Edgeworth starts.
“Miles,” Phoenix blurts, and even though there’s nothing to follow the name Edgeworth goes silent, closes his mouth and looks up at Phoenix’s face. His eyes are wide, his mouth starting to form around a frown; he looks weirdly tense, like he’s thinking about running or snapping out with some verbal attack. Phoenix grins lopsided at him, reaches out to touch his shoulder in instinctive comfort. His fingertips catch the ends of silver hair. “I used to call you Miles when we were kids, anyway.”
Edgeworth blinks. There’s another moment of hesitation; then he looks back down at his glass, starts to smile before he lifts it to his mouth to cover his expression. He tips his head back, the shift drawing his throat tight enough that Phoenix can watch the motion of him swallowing.
“Well?” he asks as Edgeworth leans forward, drawing his shoulder away from Phoenix’s touch to set his glass at the table.
That gets him a sideways glance again. “Well what?”
“Turnabout is fair play, Miles.” Edgeworth’s mouth goes soft with inattention again, his expression dropping into that same weird warmth, like he’s never heard Phoenix say his name before. “Come on, don’t be stubborn.”
“I’m not being stubborn,” Edgeworth declares, but he’s looking away again, angling his shoulders like he’s trying to hide from the other’s gaze.
Phoenix can’t stop grinning. He feels like he’s armed with an unexpected weapon; if just saying his name makes Edgeworth go all out-of-focus and stunned he can win any argument, he’s sure. “Come on, come on.” He reaches out to catch Edgeworth’s shoulder, tugs insistently for him to turn, and Edgeworth must be truly drunk because he doesn’t resist, he’s turning back, and even though his face is tipped down Phoenix can see the smile he’s trying to hide. “This isn’t fair, you can’t lead me on like this.” He’s half-laughing, sliding in closer so he can grab Edgeworth’s far shoulder and draw him around. Edgeworth is starting to laugh, now, Phoenix can hear the amusement in his throat and can see it in his eyes when he glances up for a moment.
“Stop it,” Edgeworth says, but he is still laughing, he sounds human and he looks warm and soft and delighted, and when he grabs at Phoenix’s elbow it’s gentle instead of a push.
“Just say it,” Phoenix pleads. “It’s not a big deal.”
Edgeworth looks up at him. His eyes are soft, shadowed into a darker grey than the shine of his hair, and his mouth is still taut with amusement but he’s not laughing anymore. Phoenix is grinning still but there’s a flicker of tension, some intuitive premonition against his spine, and he just sees Edgeworth’s eyes flicker with some almost-hurt before he swallows, and opens his mouth, and says, “Phoenix.”
It’s not a big deal. They’ve been friends for years, it’s hardly the first time Phoenix has heard Edgeworth say his name. But he’s expecting a laugh, he’s ready for amusement, and there’s a weird gentle sincerity instead, it slides under his defenses and softens his mouth from a grin into the unthinking relaxation of anticipation. There’s still the prickle of electricity under his skin, some expectation as-yet unfulfilled, like everything is holding its breath for a moment. Then Phoenix looks down at Edgeworth’s mouth, and leans in, and kisses him.
It’s remarkably easy. Phoenix doesn’t think through what he’s doing, doesn’t process the implications or the action; he just does, crosses over the distance and there they are, Edgeworth’s lips parted soft against his and Edgeworth tipping his head to accommodate Phoenix’s movement when he presses in gently for more. Edgeworth is still holding onto his elbow, not pushing him away or pulling him in closer, just a steady point of contact, like this is normal, like they’ve been doing this for years.
Phoenix pulls back after a moment, his lips glowing with warmth and the faint taste of the wine clinging to Edgeworth’s mouth, and blinks at the other while he waits for the panic to set in. He feels certain that he should be panicked, should be intensely concerned about some aspect of what just happened, but his adrenaline response seems to be on holiday; there’s just warmth under his skin, like he’s radiating more heat than usual, and he’s still holding onto Edgeworth’s shoulders.
He swallows, tries to reach for some appropriate speech. “Uh.” His head is hazed over, he feels faintly dizzy, maybe that’s his adrenaline kicking in now, that catch in the pulse beating at his throat. “Sorry.”
Edgeworth blinks, slowly and deliberately. His fingers at Phoenix’s elbow tighten for a moment, as if considering or just to ground himself. Then he reaches out, and if he weren’t moving so carefully Phoenix would be sure it’s a push coming, or a grab to shove his hands away. But it is coming slowly, like something in a dream, and Edgeworth is shifting up onto his knees and reaching for Phoenix’s shirt to hold him steady while he leans in, and takes a breath, and kisses him back.
Phoenix isn’t sure if it’s his balance or Edgeworth’s that gives way, or if maybe sliding backwards onto the couch is in fact a deliberate decision. It is undeniably true that they end up horizontal, with Edgeworth’s weight half-crushing Phoenix before they twist, and shift, and Edgeworth nearly falls off the couch before Phoenix can catch his weight and pull him back in to fit against him. Edgeworth is warmer than Phoenix expects him to be, a little bit breathless and a little bit tentative and not at all what Phoenix imagined he would be like when kissing, though he can’t pin down exactly when he previously contemplated this scenario. The t-shirt Edgeworth’s wearing fits him well enough, but when Phoenix pushes up at the hem to brush his fingers to bare skin Edgeworth whines in response, and Phoenix would worry it’s protest if Edgeworth’s hand wasn’t sliding up across his back and if he didn’t arch in closer at the contact. Edgeworth parts his lips wider, touches his tongue to Phoenix’s mouth, and then they’re truly kissing, Phoenix can taste the lingering alcohol against Edgeworth’s mouth and some faint sweetness, like the edge of bitter chocolate or the smell of vanilla. He wonders what he tastes like for a moment, but then Edgeworth’s tongue trails over the roof of his mouth and he’s shuddering instead of thinking, sliding his fingers up under and into Edgeworth’s hair to pull him in closer.
Phoenix loses track of how long they stay there. He’s pinned between the back of the couch and Edgeworth pressing against him, and probably eventually they’ll have to stop but he can’t think why, can’t figure out why they haven’t been doing this for hours, for days, instead of sleeping or eating or breathing. Edgeworth’s hair is unreasonably soft under his fingers, Edgeworth’s own fingers are curling hot against the back of his neck, and everything feels soft and warm and endlessly pleasant until Phoenix thinks he’d be content to stay here forever.
They don’t make it any further than kissing. After some unmeasured time Edgeworth pulls back, far enough to sigh with contentment audible in his throat before he presses in closer, dips his head and presses his forehead against Phoenix’s shoulder. Phoenix can feel the fingers at his neck relax with sleep almost immediately, the absolute unconsciousness of alcohol-assisted exhaustion taking Edgeworth down into rest. The light’s still on, and they’re both going to be uncomfortable when they wake up, but neither of those things seems like a good enough reason to move away. So Phoenix lets the weight of his arm drop against Edgeworth’s waist to hold them together, and shuts his eyes, and lets himself pass out just as they are.
Chapter 5: Fourth Morning
It’s the headache that wakes Phoenix up.
It’s beating a rhythm out at the back of his skull, like someone’s drumming against the back of his spine and sending shooting pain up into his head with every impact. It’s that he notices first, the initial point of reference for consciousness; the second thing is the angle he’s lying at, sprawled out on his stomach with his head twisted sideways. His neck aches, his entire body hurts as if with a fever, and his arm is flung out over the edge of whatever he’s lying on, his fingertips resting against the warmth of another person. When he lifts his head -- a mistake, that makes his headache skid into overdrive -- the world spins for a moment before it settles into place, turns into his couch under him and the overhead light still on and Miles curled on the floor still apparently sound asleep. It’s his skin under Phoenix’s fingertips, glowing warm in sleep, and for a minute Phoenix doesn’t pull away. He lets his touch linger while he stares, his vision coming into focus to give away the soft curve of eyelashes against cheekbone, the unthinking relaxation at Miles’s lips.
Miles, Phoenix’s thoughts repeat, looking for some implied meaning, and his mind is skidding out on the other’s mouth, scrambling for the shape of something he can almost--
The memory comes in slowly, like pulling a string to unravel a sweater. Phoenix can find a starting point, the shape of Miles’s smile and Phoenix repeating his name, the faint color of amusement flushing the other’s cheeks as he looked up, formed his mouth around the casual intimacy of familiar syllables. And then -- warmth, shivering satisfaction and Phoenix can’t pull apart the logic of that but he remembers the heat of Miles’s mouth and the taste of his lips and it’s at that moment that the other stirs.
“Ngh,” he says coherently, turning his head in against the floor like he’s seeking out a pillow. Phoenix snatches his hand away, pushes away and sits up without considering the effect this will have on his headache.
“Fuck,” he hisses at the surge of pain, and Miles startles at the sound, rolls over and is starting to sit up before he recognizes Phoenix and relaxes back to the floor.
“Morning,” he offers with absolutely no implication of ‘good’ in his tone. He shuts his eyes, lifts a hand to press against his forehead; Phoenix assumes from his grimace that his own headache is at least as bad. “If it is morning. What time is it?”
“I don’t know,” Phoenix says. This is a remarkably mundane conversation to be having -- shouldn’t they be acknowledging the fact that they kissed? that their relationship has taken a sharp and dramatic turn for the complicated? that it didn’t feel that complicated at all at the time? -- but he lacks the nerve to say anything, retreats instead to the safety of following Miles’s lead. “Morning, probably.”
Miles doesn’t lift his hand to roll his eyes, but he huffs a tiny laugh around his grimace of pain. “Astute as ever, Wright.”
It takes Phoenix several seconds to piece together the chill of foreboding that runs down his spine.
“You called me by my first name last night,” he finally manages. He even sounds relatively level, given how badly his hands are shaking with adrenaline and the pain of a hangover and the cold rising certainty in his veins.
“What?” Miles says from the floor, and Phoenix reaches up to touch his mouth, to cover his expression and press some heat back into his lips at once.
“Don’t you remember?”
There is a long pause. Then Miles takes a breath, and says, “No,” and there’s nothing under the sound but the unwillingness to admit weakness, and Phoenix tips his head back so he can stare at the ceiling instead as Miles goes on, “What did I say?”
Phoenix doesn’t say anything for a moment. His head is spinning, trying to chart the best route through this conversation, and his headache isn’t helping and his body aches and now his throat is burning too, panic and loss tangled together and he’s in too much pain to handle the delicacy this situation requires.
“It doesn’t matter,” he finally says to the ceiling.
There’s the sound of movement, Miles sitting up from the floor. “Wright.” The name is wrong, it almost hurts to hear it, but there’s tentative concern under it too, the raw edge of physical discomfort along with carefully framed worry. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Phoenix says. He moves quickly, sits upright and tips forward to push himself to his feet before Miles can see his face. He’s rounding the corner of the couch before Miles speaks, the sound of his voice drawing his feet to an unwilling stop.
“For someone known for his bluffing you’re a terrible liar, Wright.” When Phoenix looks back Miles is staring at him, his eyes softened into an echo of the way they looked last night and his mouth twisted around an unwilling smile. “What did I do?”
“Stop.” Miles pushes to his feet; by the time he lifts his head his smile is gone, his eyes are dark and shadowed like they sometimes get in court. “It had to be something awful for you to not tell me.” He swallows hard, ducks his head so Phoenix can’t see his eyes anymore. “What was it?”
“You didn’t do anything,” Phoenix says, and Miles is just lifting his head to fix him with a glare when he opens his mouth to blurt “I kissed you.”
The frustration on Miles’s face evaporates instantly. His chin comes up, his face lifts into the light, and for a minute Phoenix is treated to the sight of absolute disbelief in the other’s eyes.
“That’s not funny,” he finally says, which is at least better than shouting.
“I’m not kidding,” Phoenix says. His head is humming, he can’t feel his lips for the chill numbness in his blood. “You called me Phoenix and I kissed you.”
It sounds so mundane, like that, the cold objectivity of a piece of evidence instead of the heat and the satisfaction and the rippling pleasure of Miles’s mouth against his. But Phoenix doesn’t have the words for the reality, doesn’t think Miles wants to hear, anyway, how his pulse skipped when the other turned his head or how soft Miles’s hair felt or how the taste of wine lingered on his tongue.
Miles blinks, very carefully, like he might jar the world out of alignment if he moves too quickly. When he speaks his voice is careful, too, hesitant like he’s feeling out the perimeter of a bomb. “Anything else?”
“Uhm,” Phoenix stalls, and he’s in trouble as soon as he hesitates, that’s a giveaway and Miles is too quick to let that go by.
“Wright,” he starts, and Phoenix looks away, feels his cheeks going hot as he speaks as quickly as possible.
“I kissed you, and then then you -- you, uh, you grabbed my shirt and pushed me back onto the couch and we, uh, we kissed for a while. And then you fell asleep and I fell asleep and when I woke up you were on the floor and I was on the couch and had the worst headache of my life.”
“How long is a while?” Miles asks, as what is clearly the most important line of inquiry.
“I have no idea,” Phoenix admits. “I was, uh. I was distracted.”
There is a very, very long pause, long enough that Phoenix can convince himself to take a breath, and look back over to run the risk of catching Miles looking at him. He is, as it turns out, but he’s also crimson, his entire face radiant with his flush, and his expression is much less terrifying than Phoenix expected.
“Sorry,” Phoenix says, not sure what he’s apologizing for.
Miles is staring at him but Phoenix has the strong impression that he’s not seeing anything at all, given how out-of-focus his gaze is. For a moment they just gaze at each other; Phoenix doesn’t have the faintest idea what his expression looks like, other than faintly pained under the pressure of his headache, and Miles looks like he’s attempting to embody about four or five different reactions all at the same time.
Miles is the one to finally blink, shake his head like he’s trying to push away his reaction, though the movement just makes him cringe and hold a hand to his forehead. “I’m going to take a shower,” he announces to the inside of his wrist.
“Yeah,” Phoenix agrees, stepping back against the wall so Miles can fit past him without their skin brushing together. He still feels every inch of space like it’s electrified as the other goes past, moving quickly and not looking at Phoenix’s face.
Miles does stop outside the bathroom door, his hand braced on the doorframe. Phoenix is watching him, couldn’t look away if he tried; he can see Miles’s throat work on a swallow, can see the flush still lingering in his cheeks when he speaks. “I’ll be back. Okay?”
It’s a ridiculous reassurance. They’re in Phoenix’s apartment, it’s not like Miles can go anywhere even if he wanted to. But some tension gives way in Phoenix’s shoulders, he lets out a breath of tension, and when he says, “Okay” the relief is audible in his throat.
There’s a flicker of motion, something that looks like it might be a smile before Miles tips his head down to cast his face into shadow. “You’re ridiculous, Phoenix,” he says, and he’s stepping into the bathroom before Phoenix can figure out why his mouth is pulling into a smile of tentative relief.
Chapter 6: Fourth Afternoon
By the time Phoenix emerges from the shower, he feels significantly more human. The pain meds he downed as soon as Miles started his own shower have had a chance to kick in, along with the three glasses of water he drank in an attempt to push back the effects of dehydration. With hot water to rinse his hair clean and take the sticky of uncomfortable sleep off his skin, Phoenix can think without his head aching, can process the situation with what at least feels like more rationality. He towels his hair damp-dry, pulls on fresh clothes, and gives up on any further preparation before he goes in search of Miles.
It doesn’t take long. The other is sitting right outside the bathroom door, back pressed to the hallway wall and his hands cupped around a mug of tea. There’s a bottle of ibuprofen by his hip; that answers one question, at least.
“I’m glad you found those,” Phoenix says as he steps across the hall to claim the opposite wall. It seems most comfortable, facing each other this way, even if the distance between them is far shorter than in a courtroom. “I didn’t want to be alive until they kicked in.”
Miles doesn’t even offer a courtesy laugh. He’s frowning at the cup in his hands, turning the handle back and forth with more fretful energy than Phoenix has ever seen from him, his forehead drawn into lines of consideration until Phoenix is almost afraid to offer anything further. He leans against the wall instead, slides down so he’s sitting, too, though his legs are stretched out across the floor instead of tucked under him like Miles’s.
The pause that stretches is long enough that Phoenix thinks to say something no less than four times, opens his mouth on the words twice before deciding they’re too trite, pointlessly cheap after the build-up of the silence. He’s still looking for the impossibly valuable statement to crack apart the tension building around them when Miles speaks, clear and careful even though he’s staring at his tea instead of at Phoenix.
“Since we were kids,” he says to the liquid. “It’s been since elementary school.”
Phoenix blinks. “What has?”
“That I knew I liked you.” Miles takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly. “That’s why I haven’t called you Phoenix, since I came back. It’s easier with distance.”
There’s pressure behind Phoenix’s eyes, the shock of disbelief threatening a return of his headache. “No way. Not this whole time.”
“Not straight through,” Miles amends. He brings his mug in closer, turns his head down so even less of his face is visible. “I had other things to worry about. It’s hardly like I was pining for you every moment of every day.” With his head tipped down, it’s hard to see the flush that climbs into his cheeks; Phoenix wouldn’t see it at all, if he wasn’t looking for it. “I did think about you a lot, though. Before I saw you again.”
Phoenixs skin flares hot as he interprets the significance under Miles’s words, the admission of importance granted by this confession instead the other’s usual stoic distance. “Oh.”
“I don’t expect you to have been waiting for me.” Miles’s voice makes it an insult, turns the idea scornful and self-deprecating. “I didn’t intend to say anything at all.”
“You didn’t,” Phoenix blurts out, and Miles glances up at him. His eyes flicker to Phoenix’s hair, wet and unstyled against his face, and he flinches momentarily but it doesn’t stop the flow of Phoenix’s words. “I kissed you. You didn’t do anything until after I. Uh.” Miles is still staring at him. This time it’s Phoenix who looks away, stares at the floor while he ruffles a hand through his drying hair. “Took the initiative.”
The sound Miles makes is best described as a laugh, though it lacks all the humor normally associated with the sound; it’s just a sharp burst of air, quick and cutting so Phoenix looks back up in time to see a smile just as bitter as the laugh across Miles’s lips.
“I can’t believe this.” He tips his head back, shuts his eyes, but the smile lingers. “After all this time it’s you who kisses me, and I don’t even remember it.”
Phoenix is frowning, now, unconscious discomfort with the self-deprecation at Miles’s mouth. “You say that like everything’s ruined.”
“Everything is ruined,” he says, and there’s no bitterness in the words, just the steady calm what he clearly thinks is perfect truth.
Phoenix is careful, this time. He takes stock of the situation, takes in the angle of Miles’s knees and the mug still caught between his hands before he moves in. He goes slowly, enough that Miles would have warning if his eyes were open, but as it is the other jumps when Phoenix tugs at the cup, lets his hold go loose in the first moment of shock.
“What are you doing?” he asks as Phoenix reaches sideways to set the mug as far away as he can manage, hopefully out of range of getting knocked over.
“Moving your tea.” That’s an easy question. When he looks back Miles is watching him with suspicion in his eyes, his chin tipped back like he’s ready to retreat, but at least the frown has vanished.
“Why?” It’s ostensibly a question, but drawn so slow and careful it sounds more like a plea for confirmation than true curiosity.
Phoenix reaches out for Miles’s shoulders, replaces his hands as they were the night before. Miles stiffens, his spine going rigid with panic, but he doesn’t jerk away or push Phoenix’s touch off.
“It was like this,” Phoenix says. He has been thinking about this while he rinsed his hair, while he downed glasses of water, while he brushed the lingering alcohol taste from his teeth. “I was telling you to say my name and you were laughing, you were smiling and you looked happy.” He clears his throat. “And you reached for my elbow, just held onto my arm, didn’t try to push me away or anything.”
Miles hasn’t relaxed. His eyes are wide, going wider with every word, and his mouth is going softer, trembling in spite of his best efforts to control it.
“Right or left?” he says, faint but clear, and Phoenix has to pause until he can control the rush of heat that surges through his blood.
“Right,” he says. “My right. Your left.” Miles lifts his left hand, only barely hesitating before he touches his fingers to Phoenix’s skin, curls his fingers in against the other’s arm. Phoenix can feel the warmth radiating out into him from the point of contact, the tingling awareness of his own body that makes those inches of skin the most interesting part of his whole body.
“And you said ‘Phoenix,’” he says, past lips gone numb with adrenaline. “And I kissed you.”
There’s a pause, tense with what they both know is coming. But what was easy last night is hard, now, formed into something weighted with import that seemed absent before, and for a minute Phoenix can’t move, can’t be the one to break the spell.
Then Miles looks down at his mouth, a tiny flicker of eyelashes for a moment of time, and swallows, and says “Phoenix,” clear and enunciating every syllable. Phoenix huffs a laugh, and leans in, and as it turns out it is just as easy as the night before. Miles is taking a sharp breath as Phoenix comes in closer, his mouth coming open on the inhale, but then their lips fit together and he’s just as warm as he was the first time, even stiff and awkward with self-consciousness. He makes a tiny whimpering noise, some near-protest, and Phoenix is starting to draw away in a rush of uncertainty when fingers come up to catch at his hair, to hold him where he is and pull him in for more.
“Miles,” Phoenix manages, in the moment before he’s dragged back in, before Miles kisses at his lower lip, catches it gently at the edge of his teeth. “Hh. This -- isn’t how it went.”
Miles lets his mouth go for a moment, though he maintains his grip on Phoenix’s hair. “Phoenix.”
“Yeah” and he does, mostly because he’s opening his mouth and Miles is on him, rocking up over his knees and pushing them back across the hall until Phoenix’s shoulders hit the far side. There’s a knee pressing against Phoenix’s hip, the touch at his elbow has slid up to brace at his shoulder, and Miles is kissing him, kissing every part of his skin he can reach, his lips and the corner of his mouth and the edge of his jawline with equal attention. Phoenix can taste Miles’s tea on his tongue, can breathe in the faint spicy smell of him even though it’s Phoenix’s shirt across his shoulders, and he’s not thinking at all when he speaks and says “We can move, you know.”
“Oh?” Miles says, working his way down until his lips are catching at the edge of Phoenix’s collar.
Phoenix’s heart is beating audibly hard in his chest, his pulse fluttering just shy of Miles’s mouth; he tips his head sideways anyway, offers the giveaway of adrenaline for the other’s lips. “The bed would be a lot more comfortable than the floor.”
Miles goes still for a moment. He lingers where he is long enough to kiss at Phoenix’s skin again, a perfect press against the thud of his heartbeat; then he pulls back, his fingers in Phoenix’s hair going gentle even as his eyes drop so he’s not meeting the other’s gaze.
“Phoenix.” It’s remarkable, really, how natural that sounds, how easy it comes in his voice. “We should talk, first.”
“Okay,” Phoenix says. “Let’s. Now.”
“What?” Miles glances at him, coughs a laugh. “There’s too much to cover right now.”
“Like what?” Phoenix asks. “My interest?” He can feel his cheeks starting to burn, clears his throat to keep talking. “Because I am. Definitely. Interested.”
“Me living in Europe was more the concern,” Miles says, but his mouth is tugging into a smile. “Though that is an important clarification, thank you for that.”
“It’s okay.” It is, it seems easy, simple as everything else has been since Miles came back with him from the courthouse. “We have phones, maybe we can even use video chat. And you have a plane, you could come visit me anytime.”
“I absolutely cannot come visit you anytime,” Miles protests, but he’s truly smiling, now, his lips going as soft and pleased as they did when helped by alcohol the night before. “I am busy, Phoenix, I can’t drop everything to be with you at a moment’s notice.”
“You did already,” Phoenix says, and leans up to take advantage of Miles’s silence to kiss the corner of that unconscious smile. “It’s fine, we can call and I’ll see you when I can.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Miles says, but his voice is as shaky as his unformed argument. “We don’t -- this just started, I can’t commit to this and then leave you behind.”
“It didn’t just start,” Phoenix retorts. “You said it’s been years. What would we be waiting for, to get to know each other?” That does what it was meant to, gets Miles to collapse into a laugh for a moment, and Phoenix grins and talks fast, over any protest the other might make. “We can make it work. I believe in us.”
Miles’s laughter fades off. His mouth goes soft instead, his eyes skim over Phoenix’s features like he’s looking for something; Phoenix doesn’t know what, but by the time he speaks Miles is smiling again, careful and gentle, and Phoenix knows what he will say before he says it.
“You’re always good at believing in people.”
Phoenix grins. “And I’m always right, too.”
Miles is smiling, ducking his head like he’s trying to hide the expression but pleased all the same. “I shouldn’t bet against you on this, should I?”
“Never,” Phoenix insists. When he pushes to his feet Miles follows his lead, until they’re both standing in the hallway with Miles’s fingers tangled into his hair and Phoenix reaching for the other’s wrist to intertwine their fingers. Miles’s hand is warm against his. “Just trust me.”
The sound of Miles laughing is the most sincere thing Phoenix has heard from him all day. It’s warm and soft and delighted, true amusement bubbling up his throat, and when he lifts his head the shadow in his eyes is gone.
He tightens his hold on Phoenix’s hand. “I do,” he says, the words weighted with the quiet assurance of years, and this time it’s Phoenix who catches his smile from Miles.
Chapter 7: Fourth Evening
Miles takes the lead into the bedroom.
Phoenix is grateful for that. He’s excited, certainly, his blood is hot with anticipation and want and his hands are shaking so Miles must be able to feel the tremble against their tangled fingers, but the difference between unformed desire and specific action is crucial, and what was easy on impulse on the couch and in the hall is a different thing altogether with the implied intimacy of the bed within reach. Phoenix stalls just inside the doorway, hesitates with ill-timed panic, and if it were up to him he’s not sure they would move at all.
But it’s not just him. There’s a pull at his hand, Miles pushing past him into the room and tugging Phoenix in his wake without pausing.
“Come on.” His hands aren’t shaking; his grip is steady, his fingers warm and stable. “Unless you’ve changed your mind?”
Phoenix coughs. “What? No, how could you --” Miles glances back over his shoulder, and there’s a tightness at his mouth that stalls Phoenix’s words, pushes the sound away to silence for a moment. “You’re teasing me.”
“Can’t get anything past you,” Miles says, and Phoenix is grinning and stepping in closer before he realizes the other is turning, sitting at the edge of the bed and turning his head back and up to watch Phoenix’s face. “You truly are the great defense attorney, Phoenix Wright.” He’s too far away to kiss, and he’s not moving in to get closer, but he’s letting Phoenix’s hand go, fitting his hands in against the other’s hips with as much care as if he intends to leave them there forever.
Phoenix is smiling at the teasing; there’s a familiarity there, something to ground himself against in the situation that otherwise leaves him thoroughly at sea. It eases some of the panic in his shoulders, makes it easier to reach out to rest his hands carefully against Miles’s shoulders. Then his hands are pressed against the fabric of borrowed t-shirt and he realizes Miles is shaking, trembling very slightly through his body so Phoenix can only barely feel the vibration under his fingertips.
“Miles?” But he can’t get the other’s attention; Miles is staring straight ahead, gazing at Phoenix’s shirt instead of his eyes, and his mouth is so fixed it looks like it might never go soft again. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He doesn’t sound fine. His voice is shaking, his hands starting to tremble to match his shoulders.
“You don’t sound fine.” Phoenix leans in closer without thinking about it, steps in until his knee bumps against the bed and he has to lean on Miles to keep his balance.
The other goes rigid under his hold, like his spine is converting to steel and sapping all the warmth from his blood. “Wait,” and he’s holding Phoenix off, ducking his head to truly hide his face in shadow and taking a deep breath. “Wait, give me a minute.”
“You really don’t seem okay,” Phoenix points out. An explanation presents itself, reasonable enough that it chills Phoenix’s blood. “Do you -- not want to?”
“I’ve been thinking about this for years, Wright,” Miles snaps, his hands twisting tighter. “I assure you I want this.”
“You just--” Phoenix starts, but Miles is talking over him.
“It needs to be perfect,” he says, the words coming fast and with the funny raw edge that says he’s speaking faster than he can filter himself. “I screwed up and I don’t remember the first kiss, but I’m going to remember this and it has to be exactly right, it has to be worth the wait. I wasn’t expecting this to happen, I’m not ready for this, I’m not prepared.”
“Miles,” Phoenix says, and then, when the other takes a breath and seems about to go on, “Miles.” He snaps it out, quick and loud like he’s projecting across the courtroom, and Miles reacts accordingly, looks up reflexively before he has time to think.
That’s perfect. “I’m going to kiss you,” Phoenix declares, and leans down to do exactly that. Miles’s eyelashes flutter shut on instinct, his mouth just coming open when Phoenix’s lips press against his. The angle is awkward, Phoenix is leaning heavily on Miles’s shoulder, but they’re kissing and that means Miles isn’t thinking, he’s reacting instead, and they both do better with action. One of the hands at Phoenix’s hip comes up to grab at his elbow and their balance evaporates; Phoenix goes down sideways, twisting to land mostly on the mattress instead of on top of Miles. The impact pulls them apart, but their hands are tangled into holds on the other’s clothes and they come back together without hesitation, this time. Miles pushes up onto an elbow, curls his fingers into a fist of Phoenix’s jeans, and Phoenix tips over onto his back and lets Miles lean in over him so his hair brushes against Phoenix’s skin.
“That tickles,” Phoenix protests, but he’s laughing, letting Miles’s shoulder go so he can tangle his fingers into the loose strands and collect them at the back of the other’s neck. Miles huffs laughing protest at this treatment but he’s leaning back in, apparently deciding that the best response is more kissing, and Phoenix has no intention of complaining. When he opens his mouth Miles presses in closer, slides his tongue past Phoenix’s lips, and his hand is sliding up, fingers pressing in against Phoenix’s waist but Phoenix is grabbing for more, too, holding Miles’s hair back one-handed while he pushes up the fabric of the other’s shirt.
“I’m glad you’re wearing my clothes,” he manages when Miles pulls back to catch his breath against Phoenix’s shoulder. “You have way too many layers on yours.”
“I thought you were going to say you like how they look on me,” Miles says drily.
“Ah.” Phoenix ducks his chin, considers the way his jeans sit on Miles’s hips and the way his hand is rumpling the t-shirt up off Miles’s skin. “Well, that too.”
“Mm,” Miles hums, shifts his knee so his weight dips in a little lower and a little closer to Phoenix’s hip.
“Aren’t you going to thank me for the compliment?” Phoenix asks, mostly in an attempt to distract Mile from the fact that his hand is skimming sideways and around to drag down the curve of the other’s back.
“What?” He doesn’t sound like he needs any further distraction; he’s hardly focused on Phoenix’s face, his head falling forward like he’s having trouble holding it up while he arches against the hand at his spine. “It doesn’t count if I have to lead you there, Wright.”
“You’re calling me that again,” Phoenix observes. He intended to push up higher, to fit his palm against the shift of Miles’s shoulderblade, but that arch is urging his hand lower, slipping his fingertips against the top edge of denim, and then he’s coming around the edge of a hip much sharper than it looks under a suit.
“Sorry,” Miles says without sounding sorry at all. “Old habits.”
Phoenix doesn’t respond. He’s distracted by the shiver of breathing he can feel under his fingertips, the rising heat of Miles’s skin as his touch slides sideways to the tension against the other’s stomach. He hovers there for a minute, fingertips just grazing the other’s skin; then he slides down, bumps the top edge of jeans, and Miles jerks like he’s been shocked.
“Phoenix.” It’s loud and low, resonant in his throat and shaking with reaction, and fingers are closing around Phoenix’s wrist to lock his hand in place. “Wait, I won’t--”
He cuts himself off suddenly, his cheeks starting to go scarlet while he bites his lips as if to hold words back. A rejection would have made sense, hesitation Phoenix wouldn’t have questioned, but this sparks his curiosity, persuades him to let Miles’s hair go so he can push himself up on an elbow and lean in closer as if to understand via proximity.
“Won’t what?” His palm is still close against Miles’s skin; if he stretches he can brush his fingertips to the edge of jeans.
Miles is truly crimson now, his cheeks radiant with warmth, and he won’t meet Phoenix’s eyes. “I won’t.” He dips his head, takes a breath, and then speaks all at once. “I’d like to last longer than this.”
Phoenix has to blink his way through that; then the meaning hits him, lights all his blood on fire, and he doesn’t mean for his voice to come out so low but it does anyway. “Jesus, Miles, how close are you?”
Miles shuts his eyes, whimpers something unintelligible; Phoenix can see his throat working on the sound, is just thinking about leaning in to kiss him again when the fingers gripping his wrist drop away.
“Just let me--” Miles cuts himself off, ducks his head so he can look at what he’s doing as he tangles his fingers in against the button of his jeans. Phoenix doesn’t interrupt; he’s caught in the flush still lingering at the other’s cheeks, the unconscious part to his lips as he breathes. There’s a huff of breath from the other, the sound of metal sliding over itself, and then his hand is back at Phoenix’s shoulder and he’s blushing scarlet, and when Phoenix reaches for his jeans the fabric slides open under his touch.
“Oh god,” Miles whimpers, so softly Phoenix isn’t sure he was intended to hear it. His face comes down against Phoenix’s shoulder, the strands of his hair catching against Phoenix’s jawline, and when Phoenix slides his fingers down to orient himself Miles jerks in hair-trigger response before Phoenix has quite determined where he is.
“Are you going to be okay?” Phoenix asks, but he doesn’t pull away; Miles is arching in against his fingers and he’s scorchingly hot, Phoenix can feel the shape of him through his boxers.
“Phoenix,” Miles groans, and it sounds like a warning as much as the fingers digging in against his shoulders feel like one.
“Okay,” Phoenix agrees, “Okay, I’m going to --” and he’s moving to finish his sentence with action instead of speech, dragging at the edge of the elastic waistband and fumbling blind until his fingers run up against hot skin. Miles shudders, shaking himself out-of-stability against Phoenix’s shoulder, and they’re pressed in so close now it’s hard for Phoenix to even get his fingers curled into a proper grip. It’s awkward for a moment while he fits his elbow out under Miles’s chest and angles his wrist up sharp so he can fit his fingers between them, but by the time he gets his hand steady around Miles’s cock the fingers at his shoulder are desperate and the breathing at his neck is worse.
“Just breathe,” Phoenix suggests, some half-formed concern surfacing because he’s not sure Miles is getting enough air, he can feel the tension shaking along the other’s spine and he hasn’t really done anything but offered grazing friction.
“Move,” Miles says, biting the word off so it sounds like a demand and a plea at once, and Phoenix does, strokes up over the other as best he can. The elastic snags at his wrist, there’s the edge of the zipper grating against his arm, but Miles is shuddering under his touch and hot against his fingers, and Phoenix doesn’t have time to consider changing their positions. He’s adjusts his grip, slides his thumb sideways across the slick heat at the head of Miles’s cock, and just like that Miles convulses against him and groans into Phoenix’s shoulder. Phoenix sucks in a sharp breath of surprise as Miles comes against his fingers and his clothes both; he has to reach out to grab at the other’s hip to brace him in place while Miles shudders his way through his orgasm, gasping so hard he sounds like he might be in danger of choking for a moment. Then he takes a breath that sound a little like a sob, his weight falls sideways against the bed, and Phoenix is turning in towards him, letting sticky skin go and reaching for his shirt at the same time.
“Miles?” The other is twisting away, falling onto his back to stare at the ceiling, and his eyes are unfocused with satisfaction but his mouth is curved into a frown.
“Sorry,” he offers before he’s blinked himself back into attention. He sounds intent, like he’s mulling over a problem, careful with the sounds on his tongue. “I intended that to last longer.”
“It’s okay.” Phoenix can’t restrain his grin, it’s spreading over his face like sunlight. “It’s kind of flattering, really.”
Miles turns his head, stares at Phoenix for a moment; then he takes a breath, and looks down, and makes a face.
“Your hand is sticky.” He’s reaching to grab at Phoenix’s wrist, pull his fingers free of the t-shirt he’s wearing before he gets a look at Phoenix’s own shirt. “Jesus, we’re a mess.”
“It’s fine,” Phoenix soothes, reaching out for Miles’s shirt again. He gets his fingers closed on the edge this time, starts to push it up around Miles’s waist before the other catches on and moves to stop him. “Just take it off, I’ll get you clean ones.”
“Phoenix,” Miles protests, but he’s starting to smile, lets his arms go limp so Phoenix can drag his shirt up and off him. He’s very pale stripped down to skin; Phoenix can make out the tracery of blue veins against his elbows, over the sharp line of his collarbones, and he’s still flushed, his lips parted around his breathing and his eyes wider and warmer than Phoenix can ever remember seeing them in his life.
“It might take me a little while,” Phoenix amends, and Miles huffs a laugh, pushes a hard through the tangle of his hair in a half-hearted attempt to keep it off his face. “To get the fresh clothes, I mean.”
Miles raises an eyebrow, his mouth twisting tight against a withheld smile. “You only mention that now that you’ve confiscated my shirt, I see. Misleading implications, Wright.” He arches off the bed when Phoenix reaches for the waist of his jeans, lets Phoenix slide them and his boxers off his hips without any more complaint than a darkening of the flush at his cheeks. His stomach and hip carry some lingering stickiness, the glow of the skin made glossy with smeared liquid. Phoenix’s breathing sticks in his throat, turns into a whimper of appreciation, and he’s leaning in to kiss the bruised-pink of Miles’s mouth when a hand tightens at his shirt to hold him back.
“What about you?” Miles drags at the fabric, pushes Phoenix farther away by the shove of his fist against the other’s chest. “Your shirt’s worse than mine was, surely.”
“You think?” Phoenix looks down, reaches to touch the damp against the hem. “Huh, I guess so.” When he rocks back Miles sits up, keeping his grip on the fabric so it’s as much Miles as Phoenix pulling the shirt up over his head. It falls sideways, forgotten before it lands, and Miles is dipping his head to press his mouth to Phoenix’s shoulder, fitting his hands into the curve of the other’s waist so he can push down along the line of his back and fit his thumb under the edge of his jeans.
“And these?” Miles is trying very hard to sound confident. He almost succeeds; his facade would be perfect if he weren’t so close, if Phoenix couldn’t feel the deep breath he takes just before he speaks.
Phoenix imitates him, gulps an inhale and lets it out slowly before he speaks, aiming to sound as casual as possible. “I dunno, they seem pretty clean to me.”
There is a pause. Then Miles lets one of his hands go, reaches to close his fingers around Phoenix’s wrist. Phoenix doesn’t resist the pull, lets Miles drag his sticky fingers down to his hip so he can wipe them mostly clean against the denim.
“Do they.” That’s flat, stripped of all emotion; Miles isn’t even smiling against Phoenix’s shoulder.
Phoenix does smile, grins out over the top of Miles’s head. “You’re right.” He retrieves his hand, rocks back so he can bring both hands manage the front of his jeans. “My mistake.”
“You should be more careful with the details, Wright,” Miles suggests. Leaning back as he is Phoenix can see the shadow over his eyes, the tip to his chin that casts his features into half-darkness and makes it very suddenly hard for Phoenix to take a breath.
“You’re right.” The button falls open, the zipper catches for a moment. “I’ll work on that.” The zipper comes open, Phoenix hooks his thumbs under his clothes to push them off, and Miles is leaning in, sliding closer and reaching out to touch at Phoenix’s waist again. His fingers skim down, following quick in the wake of the other’s clothing, and by the time Phoenix is kicking his legs free Miles is almost on top of him, pushing him down to the mattress by his hips and leaning in until he is forced to fall back over the sheets. Phoenix lands harder than he intended, forces the air out of his lungs on impact, but Miles is leaning in closer, pressing him down with a kiss before he has time to catch his breath. He gasps an inhale as soon as Miles pulls back, starts to reach up to pull him back down -- and Miles drags his hand sideways, presses the palm of his hand against Phoenix’s cock, and everything flares hot and white for a moment.
“Fuck,” Phoenix blurts, rocking up involuntarily. Miles smiles, sudden and bright, and while Phoenix is still blinking from the shock of affection the other slides his fingers into a grip, shifts his leg to fit between Phoenix’s so he can pin the other to the sheets with his weight.
“This is only fair,” he insists, as if Phoenix is offering the least resistance to him. In actuality Phoenix is letting Miles’s weight hold him down, pressing his fingers to the back of the other’s neck more to steady himself than from any attempt at control, and when fingers stroke up over him the gasped “Miles” he offers is more encouragement than protest. Miles is staring at him, his mouth forming into an unconscious smile while his eyes are wide and shocked, and Phoenix is flushing with self-consciousness at every involuntary shudder under his skin but he can’t get himself to look away or even to shut his eyes. It’s too much of a draw, the unthinking delight on Miles’s face instead of his usual forced control, until all Phoenix can manage is a wordless whimpered plea as he pulls Miles in close enough to kiss. Miles is laughing as their lips come together, warm amusement Phoenix thinks might be somewhat at his expense, but he doesn’t care, those fingers are still sliding over him in perfect rhythm and the pace of his breathing is drawing faster to match. He’s starting to rock up, too, pressing in against Miles’s steady fingers and the greater resistance of his hip, and he thinks Miles is going hard again but he can’t pause to be certain of that at the moment. He’s too caught between the other’s fingers and his lips and the warm radiance of his skin under Phoenix’s touch, and he can see pleasure coming for him with absolute certainty.
It still takes a few minutes. Phoenix can feel the heat rising in his blood, collecting hot as if drawn out by Miles’s touch, and the rocking motion of his hips is falling into a pattern without any thought on his part. But then the slow promise in his blood takes on clarity, goes sharp-edged and certain, and Phoenix drops back to the bed, falls into calm even as he says “Miles” with surprising steadiness under his voice.
“Phoenix?” Miles sounds faintly concerned, but he hasn’t stopped the slide of his hand, and everything in Phoenix is drawing taut as if in an attempt to counteract his deliberate relaxation against the bed.
“Keep going,” Phoenix says, and then it hits him, so suddenly he barely has time to append, “I’m going--” before pleasure shuts down coherency, the rush of heat into his veins turns the last of his sentence into a groan instead of words. Tension pours out into him like a wave, curls his fingers tight against Miles’s neck for a moment and pushes his hips up in the first shuddering pulse of pleasure. Miles chokes on an inhale, the sound turning into almost a moan in his throat, and Phoenix falls back to the bed, gasping air while the surge of sensation fades into radiant warmth, shivers aftershocks through him to leave him limp and trembling against the sheets.
“God,” Miles says, and Phoenix can hear his voice trembling as though it’s echoing the involuntary motion of Phoenix’s body. “That.” He lets his hand go instead of finishing his sentence, the release of tension reminding Phoenix of the sticky heat at his stomach and caught on Miles’s fingers.
“Oh.” He rolls sideways, reaches for the first thing he sees -- Miles’s shirt, as it turns out, crumpled and caught at the end of the bed. Miles is smiling when Phoenix sits back up and offers it as a makeshift towel, raises an eyebrow even as he accepts it and wipes his hand clean.
“I don’t think this is the intended use of clothing, Phoenix,” he points out as he hands it back so Phoenix can clean the worst of the mess off his stomach.
“Well it’s not like you need to wear it,” Phoenix points out, and Miles laughs, sounding as startled by the sound as pleased. When Phoenix looks up Miles is watching him, his eyes soft and unfocused even before Phoenix tosses the shirt roughly in the direction of the laundry and reaches out for him again.
They do a better job of making it to the middle of the bed this time; Phoenix is tugging with some intention, and Miles slides sideways as he falls back to the sheets so they end up tangled together in more-or-less the center of the rumpled sheets. Phoenix is focusing on Miles’s mouth, the warmth of his skin and the delicate slide of his tongue against the other’s lips, but without any clothes between them and their legs interlaced it’s unquestionable that Miles is hard again, hot against Phoenix’s hip and shivering faintly with sensation every time Phoenix shifts his weight.
That’s worth pulling back, worth taking a breath and grinning so he can say, “Are you ready for another?”
Miles inhales carefully, draws composure back around himself with a visible effort; then he blinks, his mouth twists into a frown of repressed amusement, and he asks, “Is that a challenge, Wright?”
“An offer,” Phoenix clarifies. When he ducks his head to kiss Miles’s shoulder the other arches up off the mattress, presses his skin in closer. He’s calmer, this time, more comfortable in the heat Phoenix can feel rising under the points of contact between them and breathing more smoothly, and he retains enough self-control to push his fingers through Phoenix’s hair in silent encouragement as the other slides down, kisses a path of friction across Miles’s chest and over the shifting motion of his breathing in his chest. He’s still faintly sticky under Phoenix’s touch, his skin holding heat and damp together so it takes a moment before Phoenix can secure his hold on the other’s hip. He’s still coming down the curve of Miles’s waist when he settles his fingers in place, pushes down hard enough that Miles catches a breath of anticipation before Phoenix is close enough to so much as breathe against the heat of his cock.
“Phoenix.” The tone is unformed, part a statement and almost a question so Phoenix is glancing up to catch the expression on Miles’s face. It’s shockingly unguarded, his lips parted around his breathing and eyes dark and focused as if Phoenix is everything that matters in the world. It sparks Phoenix’s blood, sets his breathing fast with the electricity of power, and he can’t look away, keeps his gaze fixed on that glazed look in Miles’s eyes as he opens his mouth and fits his lips around the other’s cock.
It’s hotter than it felt against his fingers, hard and salty with the half-dry evidence of Miles’s first orgasm, but it’s Miles’s expression that melts, his eyes that blink out-of-focus and his mouth that falls open on a barely audible moan, and then Phoenix has to tip his chin down and focus on what he’s doing. He’s not sure if he’s doing this correctly -- he has to open his mouth wide to avoid scraping with his teeth, he can’t manage to do much more elegant than slide his lips against the heated skin and lick over the shape of Miles in his mouth -- but it doesn’t seem to be impacting Miles’s reaction. The fingers in Phoenix’s hair are twisting tight, Miles is going tense and shaky against the bed, so Phoenix pushes to hold him steady and moves faster, drags a moan from Miles’s throat and a jerky almost-thrust from his pinned hip, and that’s enough to ease whatever self-conscious concern he has. When he glances up Miles is staring at him, mouth open like he’s forgotten how to close it and eyes so wide Phoenix thinks he might not be blinking. Phoenix starts to smile before he tips his chin back down, ignores the rising ache in his jaw and the salt-bitter catching over his tongue in favor of moving faster to pull more of those sharp inhales from the other.
He gets some warning from Miles, though he doubts it’s deliberate. It’s easy enough to feel him getting close, both in the surge of heat to the resistance under his lips and in the tension against his scalp as Miles digs his fingers in against the strands and pulls up to the edge of pain. Phoenix hums encouragement, or maybe a groan at the sensation flooding over his scalp, and Miles gasps, the sound dragging high in the back of his throat into a wail, and then he jerks and sticky salt splashes against Phoenix’s tongue. It doesn’t taste particularly pleasant, but it’s as hot as Miles’s skin and Phoenix can feel the shivers of pleasure running through the other’s body and against his tongue and that’s more than enough encouragement to stay where he is, to tighten his lips and suck to draw the last shivers of response from the other.
It’s Miles who urges him back, tugging gently against his hair until Phoenix slides away, closes his mouth and swallows quick past the bitter catch at the back of his throat. Miles looks truly languid when Phoenix looks back at his face, warm and relaxed like the pleasure has finally settled through all his body.
“You look happy,” Phoenix comments, lets Miles’s hips go so he can slide back up to press against the radiance of the other’s skin.
“Mm,” Miles hums, fits his arm under Phoenix’s shoulder so he can turn in and fit them more closely together. “I’m sticky,” he finally manages, the comment delayed enough to have lost any edge it might have otherwise have had.
“We could take a shower,” Phoenix offers, though he doesn’t make any move to get off the bed.
There is a pause. “Will we need another one later?”
“Yeah,” Phoenix says immediately. “Probably.”
Miles laughs, the sound coming so easily to his lips Phoenix almost doesn’t recognize it as the other’s voice, leans in closer. “Are we going to sleep at all tonight?”
“Probably not.” Phoenix reaches out without looking, fits his fingers in against Miles’s waist and slides up over the curve of his back. “You have a long flight tomorrow anyway, you can sleep on the plane.”
“I can’t sleep on planes, Phoenix.”
“You can if you’re tired enough,” Phoenix returns, and Miles laughs again.
“Is that an offer?”
“It absolutely is.”
“Well then.” Miles lifts his head, turns his chin up so Phoenix can take advantage of the angle to kiss the soft curve of his smile. “I suppose it would be in poor taste to refuse.”
Phoenix doesn’t have an answer to that other than a grin. It doesn’t seem to matter; neither of them do much talking for a time, anyway.
Chapter 8: Continued
Miles doesn’t wake Phoenix up the next morning before he leaves.
They talked about it, with the hazy logic of an excess of pleasure and insufficient sleep, agreed that it would be easiest to make the separation quick rather than drawing it out. Phoenix still half-expected to come up to consciousness as Miles left, but either he’s more tired or Miles is less loud than he expected, because it’s his phone ringing that jars him awake.
He knows who it is, doesn’t have to check the caller ID before he picks up. “Hey.”
“Did I wake you?” Miles sounds curious more than apologetic.
“Yeah.” Phoenix pushes up onto an elbow, considers the sheets pulled back into some semblance of order on the other side. “I can’t believe I slept through you making the bed.”
“You didn’t even move.” There’s the sound of a laugh under Miles’s voice, audible even past the hum of almost-static and the exhaustion lacing his words.
“You sound tired,” Phoenix observes, belated guilt seeping in to fill the absence of Miles’s presence. “Sorry I kept you up so late.”
“I’m not.” It’s only a few words, quick and clean of any extraneous emotion, but they burn into Phoenix’s blood and make him smile before he means to.
“I miss you,” he blurts, speaking with as much speed as his expression swept over his face.
“I’m not even out of the city,” Miles points out. “You’ve barely had time to realize I was gone.” There’s a pause. Phoenix slides sideways over the bed, rumpling Miles’s work out-of-order so he can fall across the other pillow, convince himself that it carries some lingering sense of the other. Then Miles takes a breath, says “I miss you too,” and Phoenix smiles.
“When can you come back?” he asks, even though he knows the answer, remembers this drowsy conversation too. He really just wants to keep Miles talking so he can shut his eyes and let the almost-company wash over him.
“I told you,” and that’s chiding but only just, more affectionate and amused than Miles has any right to sound. “Probably in a month or so. I left everything a mess when I left.”
“You did show up really fast,” Phoenix agrees. “I’m still surprised you managed it.”
“Yes, well. You fell off a bridge, Phoenix, I was somewhat concerned.”
“I was fine,” Phoenix declares. There is a pause, silence stretching thick over the line. “I’m glad you came.”
“Me too.” Miles is speaking softly again, like the affection in the words has to be kept soft and inaudible to his surroundings. “It was worth the flight.”
“It’s a long way.” Phoenix doesn’t intend the words to sound as plaintive as they do; he clears his throat, tries for a subject change as a distraction. “Isn’t it uncomfortable wearing that suit all that time?”
“It’s not the most pleasant thing,” Miles admits. There is another moment of hesitation, a cough. “Incidentally you are missing a change of clothes.”
It takes Phoenix a moment to process this. “You took my clothes with you?”
“Just jeans and a t-shirt,” Miles caveats, but Phoenix is already laughing, amused and delighted in equal parts.
“Good,” he manages after a moment. “That’s fine, good, I’m glad.” He takes a breath, giggles for a moment longer before he can control himself. “You’ll have something to remind you of me.”
“I’m hardly likely to forget about you,” Miles points out rather sharply. Phoenix can hear him take a breath, can imagine him tipping his head back and shutting his eyes as he attempts to compose himself. When he speaks again it’s carefully, every word framed with deliberation. “I doubt I’ll stop thinking of you the entire flight.”
Phoenix’s breath sticks in his throat. He has to cough to clear the knot of near-tears before he can speak clearly. “Have you always been this sentimental, Miles?”
“Always,” Miles says distantly. “This may be the first time I’ve said anything aloud, however.”
“You must be half-asleep already,” Phoenix says, smiling to push back the tight burn of loneliness in his chest.
“Probably.” Miles takes an inhale. It sounds like goodbye even before he says, “You should go back to sleep, Phoenix.”
“You too,” Phoenix suggests. “Before your flight.”
“I’ll try.” Phoenix can hear Miles’s smile under the words, the weird softness lingering under the tone. There’s a hesitation, uncertainty hanging in the air, and then: “I miss you, Phoenix.”
Phoenix shuts his eyes, and smiles, and when he speaks there are tears under the words. “I miss you too, Miles.”
“I’ll call you when I land.” Soft, that, gentle with warmth. “Sleep well.”
Phoenix draws the phone away, hangs up quickly before he can talk himself out of it. His throat is tight, and when he blinks his cheeks go damp with tears, but he can’t stop smiling, either. He slides over to the other side of the bed, shuts his eyes with his fingers still curled around his phone, and when he sleeps his dreams are warm.