Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney / Gyakuten Saiban, its characters and settings, are property of Capcom, and are being used here without permission.  This fic is rated NC-17 for adult male/male content and some violent material.  C&C welcome and appreciated.




One of Every Color

Chapter 17

Monday, September 23rd, 2019.  9:40  p.m.




Phoenix spent the entire rest of that day with the two Feys.  Maya treated them to a large lunch, as promised, and all through the meal she chatted on about the village, her new responsibilities in the clan, and a few of the clients she'd taken.  Even Pearl was convinced to talk about her own continued training, which prompted many words of praise from her older cousin.  Phoenix took in their idle talk, enjoying the simplicity of their conversations.  If the idea had been to cheer him up after his loss, it was working.


After lunch they walked together back to Phoenix's apartment, stopping along the way to buy snacks and rent a few videos.  Everywhere they went, Phoenix had a suspicion of being watched, and he was eager to return home to hole up for a while.  The girls didn't mind.  After talking him into getting all manner of junk food and old movies, they raided his apartment and set themselves up for an afternoon marathon.  Phoenix changed out of his suit before joining them on the sofa.  He wasn't in much of a mood for Steel Samurai, due to his many run-ins with the studio and the memories it raised, but he wasn't sure he could deny anyone anything at that point.


As Maya started episode #39--something about a rampaging monk--Phoenix's eyes thinned with a sudden, odd thought.  "Hey, Maya.  How rare is a signed Steel Samurai holofoil card?"


"Hm?"  Maya laughed shortly.  "Pretty darn rare, Nick.  You gonna start collecting?"


"No, I was…just wondering."  Phoenix sank against the arm of the sofa.  He couldn't explain it, but he felt awful.


He dozed off at some point, only to be awoken in the evening.  He ordered them some pizza for dinner, and after that it was back to chattering and movie watching.  Phoenix joined his guests in demolishing a bag of cheese curls and a two liter of soda.  It was loud, a little hectic, and worth it.


And then it was getting late.  Thankfully Phoenix had done laundry the day before, and was able to offer them some clean T-shirts of his as sleep shirts.  Pearl was nearly asleep even before Phoenix tucked her into his bed.


"I'll sleep on the sofa," he told Maya.  "You guys don't mind sharing, right?"


"Of course not."  Maya bounced on the edge of the bed, pulling the tie out of her hair.  "Feel better, okay, Nick?"


Phoenix smiled faintly.  "I already do," he assured.  "Goodnight, Maya."




Phoenix closed the door behind him, and with a quiet sigh moved to the kitchen.  It wasn't that late--not for him, anyway--and he wasn't sure he'd be able to get to sleep so easily.  Usually he would put the radio on while he filed papers, or watch the news until he felt tired, but the idea of having either on at the moment was not appealing.  Chances were, everyone would still be talking about the same thing.


Maybe I'll just put on another movie, Phoenix thought glumly as he pulled a beer out of the fridge.  He would have liked one earlier, but didn't think it would be appropriate around the girls.  He helped himself now, taking long gulps.  It didn't make him feel any better, but maybe if he drank a lot of it….




Phoenix jumped and spun around, hiding the can behind his back.  He started again when he saw who it was: Mia, dressed in one of the sleep shirts he'd offered and wrapped in a bathrobe he never used.  He blushed a little despite himself and glanced briefly away.  "Chief…?"


"I told Maya to call me, once Pearl had gone to bed," Mia explained.  She strode forward and seated herself at the kitchen table.


Phoenix joined her, still trying to hide the alcohol he'd been so eager to gulp down.  When she raised an eyebrow at him he gave in and set it on the table.  "But how…?"


"At court," Mia elaborated.  "Pearl didn't see any of the trial--she summoned me, and I left as soon as it was over."


"Oh."  Phoenix felt a heavy weight of shame begin to form in his stomach as he lowered his head.  He twisted the beer can between his hands.  "So…you saw all that, huh?"  It was one thing for Maya to have been there, after all the cases they'd won together, but Mia had been his mentor, and he owed nearly all his success to her in one way or another.  The idea that she might be disappointed in him made him ache.


Mia's voice softened.  "Yes, I did.  You fought very hard."


"I lost."


"Is that what you think happened in there?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.


Phoenix glanced up cautiously.  "Isn't it?  I was wrong, and I made a total fool of myself."  He took another long gulp of his beer, suddenly not caring if Mia saw.


"The truth came out."  Mia leaned her elbow against the table, setting her chin in her hand.  "Isn't that what you've always wanted, when going into court?"


"I've always wanted my client to be innocent," he murmured.


Mia sighed, but there was a kind of subtle humor in her voice.  "Of course, that's what most lawyers want."


"Mia…Chief, I know what you're going to say," Phoenix told her.  "But I don't want to hear 'everyone loses sometime.'  Not on this case."


When he glanced at her their eyes met, and Phoenix took another sip from his beer so he wouldn't have to face her directly.  "Why this case?" she asked evenly.


"Because I'm the one that started it all!"  Phoenix's shoulders hunched in frustration as he folded his arms on the table.  "Urami fed me a story and I completely believed it!  I challenged the police, the district--almost got Edgeworth killed--and all just to prove Chassie even more guilty than she was before.  It was all a total waste."


Mia touched his shoulder--he flinched, but didn't pull away.  "You did nothing wrong, Phoenix," she said firmly.  "Trusting people is our job.  Sometimes…we're wrong.  But that doesn't mean you made a mistake."


Phoenix shook his head.  "I…can't accept it that easily.  I didn't become a lawyer to help people like that."


Besides, that's not the only reason I feel so rotten.  Phoenix glared at his beer before taking another long drink.  Edgeworth still wants to talk to me, but what do I tell him?  We fought, we made up, had a great evening…and then he railroaded me and I ended up the failure.  I don't even know if I'm still mad at him--if I have a right to be mad at him.  I'm the one that was wrong.


Mia was watching him.  He'd gotten plenty of help from her in the past, so it didn't make sense for him to reject any advice or wisdom she had to offer now.  But for once, she didn't seem to have any.  "I'm sorry, Phoenix," she told him seriously.  "But it's true--everyone loses.  There's nothing else I can tell you, other than it's something you have to come to terms with."  Her voice lowered.  "You should be glad that you found out the truth before the verdict."


I know, I know.  "I'm sorry," he replied just as quietly.  "I…turned down my fee."  He sighed.  "It would have paid off your office for a long time, and I blew it.  It was stupid of me.  I can barely pay rent as it is, and…."


"Hey."  Mia gave his shoulder a squeeze.  "It's your office now.  Whatever you do with--or without--it is up to you.  You don't need to worry about me."


"Yeah, I know."  You're already dead.


Phoenix cringed a little at his own thoughts, and tried to hide it with another drink.  His discomfort would have been obvious to anyone, let alone his mentor of several years.  Her face reflected honest concern as she straightened once more.  "Phoenix…is there something else going on?  This isn't like you."


Phoenix smiled thinly.  I really never did know how to act when it came to romance.  It makes me not myself.  "There is," he confessed.  He finished the rest of his beer in one long gulp.  "But I don't think I'm ready to tell you, Chief.  I haven't told anyone."


She looked surprised--withholding truth was not something Phoenix did often.  "All right.  You don't have to."


I can't stay here.  Phoenix considered the empty can he held, frowning to himself.  I'm just going to brood all night, not get any sleep, and still feel awful by morning.  This isn't solving anything.


"Chief…."  Phoenix pushed up from the table.  "I have to go somewhere."


"Now?"  Mia blinked up at him, baffled.  "It's almost ten o'clock."


"I know, but there's someone I have to see."  He ran a hand over his hair, frowning at how limp it felt.  "I was a jerk to him, and he still came here to make things right.  I at least owe him the same."




"Yeah…."  Phoenix risked a glance at her face; Mia was squinting at him, her detective-like brain probably whirling.  It wouldn't be difficult for her to figure out, but he couldn't worry about that now.  "I'll leave Maya a note," he promised, hunting up a slip of paper.  "She and Pearl will be okay here for a while, right?  This is just something I need to take care of."


"All right."  Mia watched him scrawl out the note, still puzzled but accepting.  "Just watch out for the paparazzi--they're bound to still be about, even at this hour."


The press…right.  Phoenix frowned as he handed the note off to Mia and started past.  Maybe I cango in "disguise", like he did?


As he passed Mia she reached out, taking his hand.  He started at the unexpected contact.  Though worried he was about to receive some kind of reprisal, Mia only smiled at him.  "Good luck."


Phoenix couldn't be sure if Mia really knew what she was wishing him luck on, but he blushed darkly nonetheless.  "T-Thanks," he stuttered, smiling nervously.  "I might need it."


As his "disguise" Phoenix pulled on an oversized sweat-jacket and an old baseball cap.  It flattened his hair out even more, but considering that it--and his blue suit--was his signature, he figured it would be enough to hide his identity from any night-time paparazzi.  Just to be extra safe, however, he slipped out the back of the building.  Times like this reminded him of why he ought to have a car of his own.  Not that he had ever been in a situation quite like this.


The wind was starting to pick up.  It was actually somewhat welcome after the dead still from earlier, even if it meant rain was on the way.  Phoenix quickened his pace.  He had never been fond of storms, and showing up on Miles' doorstep, drenched and pathetic, probably wouldn't help matters any.


He did tell me to call, Phoenix reminded himself, tugging his hat on more firmly before the wind could take it.  The trees along Miles' street were rustling eerily, not helping his mood.  As often as he'd walked down this street as a child, the only time he'd been here this late was on Halloween.  Even if I can't think of what to say, maybe he has something in mind.  Hm, wishful thinking.


At a few houses away, Phoenix paused to look for reporters.  He didn't see anyone hanging around--maybe they had been chased off by the impending storm.  That was some more wishful thinking on his part, but he wasn't about to be scared off by the mere possibility of someone spotting him there.  With a deep breath Phoenix jogged up to the door and knocked loudly.


There was a long moment of nerve-wracking silence, followed by quick footsteps that were even worse.  Phoenix tensed as he listened to the locks being undone, and finally the door was jerked open, revealing the man Phoenix had come to see.




At first, Miles had been hesitant--he wouldn't put it past the reporters to still be at his door at this hour.  It was for that reason that he hadn't changed entirely out of his suit, in case one of them managed to catch a shot.  But the second potential visitor that came to him inspired a moment of self-conscious panic, and he hurried to answer.  Would he really come out this late?  He threw off the locks and twisted the door anxiously open.


It took Miles a moment to realize just who the bundled figure really was.  "Wright!" he couldn't help but exclaim when it finally occurred to him.  Despite how many times he'd checked his phone messages that evening, expecting a call, he was still surprised to see Phoenix standing there on his front porch.


"Hey."  Phoenix smiled grimly and shrugged.  "Um…can I come in?"


Miles shook himself, and quickly took Phoenix's arm to pull him inside.  His mind spurred back into function.  "I told you to call so you wouldn't have to come out like this," he scolded, peeking quickly out the front door before closing it behind Phoenix.  "There might still be--"


"I couldn't," Phoenix interrupted.  His shoulders crept up in embarrassment.  "I, uh…my phone is broken.  But I wanted to see you."


Those words made Miles' stomach tighten, and he turned slightly to face Phoenix with his hand still on the doorknob.  "Wright…."  The defense attorney's strained expression was making him feel guilty, and he lowered his eyes.  "I thought you'd be too angry to speak with me."


"So did I," Phoenix admitted, his hands fidgeting in the oversized pockets of his jacket.  "But I really don't know what to think right now, so I figured I might as well come over."


That didn't make much sense to Miles, but he was grateful.  You've been waiting to talk to him properly all day, he told himself.  And now you have that chance.  So say what you wanted to say.


Miles opened his mouth, but all of a sudden he forgot everything he'd planned.  Each word was wiped so cleanly from his mind that a moment later he doubted that he'd prepared for this at all.  He hated seeing Phoenix like this, his eyes downcast and uncertain.  Unable to think of anything else Miles stepped forward, cupping Phoenix's face with both hands to draw him up into a firm kiss.


It was too soon to think that Phoenix would accept an advance like that, and yet he did.  He shivered as he sank into the kiss, and soon his arms were wrapping around Miles, his fingers clenching against the smooth material of his black vest.  Miles relaxed in elation--if Phoenix was willing to kiss him back like that, maybe he really wasn't so mad after all.


Phoenix pulled back first.  He was still quivering a little as he rested his chin against Miles shoulder and released a long sigh.  His relief must have been just as great.


Miles rubbed at Phoenix's shoulders--he was cold from walking about outside so late at night.  "You've been drinking," he noted.  He could smell the cheep beer they'd shared last week on his breath.


"You, too," Phoenix retorted, a bit of weak humor in his voice.  "Something harder than I was."


Miles smiled thinly.  "I'll pour you a glass," he offered.


Chuckling quietly, Phoenix let go of him.  "I think I could use some."


Phoenix slipped out of his shoes, and they moved together to the kitchen, both of them struggling awkwardly for something to say.  Miles retrieved another glass and filled it from the bottle of whiskey he'd been nursing for the later portion of the evening.  Phoenix tried to gulp it down like he would his beer, but he quickly discovered that to be a bad idea.  "Ah--it burns," he declared, wiping his mouth.


"That means it's working," Miles replied, refilling his own glass.  "Though you shouldn't drink too much of that if you were drinking beer earlier."


"It was just one."  Phoenix took a more reserved sip.  He was watching Miles carefully, as if waiting for him to say more.


He came here to talk.  Solet's talk.  Miles motioned for Phoenix to follow him.  "Let's sit down."


They took a seat together in Miles' living room, on a short, white sofa with no armrests.  Miles drew one knee up so he could sit sideways, facing his slumped guest.  "Wright…I owe you an apology," he began slowly.  He had never been very good at this sort of thing, and he feared his voice came out sounding forced.  "I had evidence, and I kept it from you.  I'm not sorry for that, because I was doing my job.  But I am sorry…that I didn't handle it better."


"I was pretty pissed," Phoenix confessed.  "It was just like you, sure.  I shouldn't have taken it personally, but…."  His expression sobered as he cast a quick glance at Miles' face.  "But it was just such a shock, after our date."


"I don't date," Miles replied by force of habit.


"Come on, Edgeworth, you know what I meant."  Phoenix sighed, taking off his cap at last to toss half-heartedly away.  He didn't look like himself with his hair mussed and limp.  "I've had a hard enough time already without you being a jerk."


"Sorry," Miles said quickly.  The last thing he wanted was to make things harder on Phoenix.  "I didn't mean it like that."


Phoenix lowered his eyes as he stretched his legs out in front of him.  "Edgeworth," he went on slowly.  "All that evidence you presented in court today…it was all real, wasn't it?"


Miles tensed defensively, and he forced himself to take a sip of his drink before trying to reply.  The delayed response helped keep the flash of irritation from his voice.  "Of course it was.  We spent all of yesterday hunting it down."




Phoenix gave his answer more thought than Miles thought it was worth, and he couldn't help but take it personally.  "Do you really think I'd fake a report like that--now, on this case?" he challenged.  "For what?  Just to prove you wrong?"


"No--no, I thought for a moment maybe…."  Phoenix's brow furrowed guiltily.  "Maybe you knew earlier than that, and just didn't tell me."  He leaned back to down the rest of his drink like a shot--not what Miles would have recommended.


"Why wouldn't I?"  It had been a long day, and the stress was wearing Miles' already thin temper down.  "You mean, that I let you think you'd won, to butter you up so you'd sleep with me?"


Phoenix winced.  "No, I--"


"Because if I remember correctly, you were the one begging me to go to bed with you."


Phoenix set his glass down on the short coffee table.  "I wasn't begging," he retorted.


"I should be blaming you for making me go soft," Miles continued, setting his own glass down--unfinished--next to Phoenix's.  He knew he shouldn't be saying this, but he was hurt by Phoenix's insinuations, and he couldn't let them go unrivaled.  "If you hadn't been so eager to believe Gander, I wouldn’t have gotten strung along.  I almost gave up my investigation because of you--without Ema we never would have found that evidence, and then what would have happened?"


"Well I'm sorry!" Phoenix shouted, glaring at him.  "I'm sorry I believed a single word of it, all right?"


Miles started to reply, but then he glanced down, finally noticing that Phoenix's hands were shaking against his knees.  He couldn't remember if they'd stopped at all since Phoenix first entered his house that evening.  "Wright…"


"I let you down," Phoenix said thinly.  "You were right--I shouldn't have trusted her, but I did, and I valued that more than the truth.  I had plenty of chances to check the autopsies, and I didn't."


Phoenix pushed abruptly to his feet.  "I deserved to lose," he declared.  "I'm glad."


Miles snatched his wrist before he could take a step.  "Where are you going?"


"Home--I don't even know what I'm doing here."


He tried to pull away, but Miles would have none of it; his other hand grabbed the waist of Phoenix's jeans, dragging him back down onto the sofa with a thud.  "Yes you do," he said firmly.  "You said you came to see me."


"So what?"  Phoenix scowled.  "You got to say 'I told you so' and I apologized.  So we're even.  There's nothing left to say."


"That's not true, and you know it," Miles insisted.  He didn't let go of Phoenix's wrist.  "So tell me what you came here to say."


Phoenix chewed his lip.  His face told Miles that he was right--there was something on his mind, and from the looks of it he had been struggling to bring it up for some time.  After a long moment his brow furrowed, and he spoke.  "Edgeworth…I screwed up, didn't I?" he asked simply.


Miles' eyes widened.  It was such an uncomplicated, innocent question, and yet he had asked himself the same thing years ago.  At the time he had been too much of a coward to say it aloud, but he clearly remembered the answer--the only one Phoenix would be satisfied with.  They were too much alike, after all.  "Yes," he told Phoenix seriously.  "You did."




Phoenix wilted a little against the back of the sofa.  Is that what I wanted to hear?  He couldn't be sure because his stomach was suddenly hurting, and yet he didn't feel disappointed, like he had when Mia offered him her assurances.  He swallowed hard.  "I did," he echoed quietly.


"Yes."  Miles finally let go of his wrist.  "You couldn't tell that your client was lying to you.  You went to court without knowing the full story.  You didn't investigate every possible lead.  So I'd say yes, you made quite a few mistakes."


He's right.  Phoenix realized then why none of Mia's kind words had been able to ease his mind; he was at fault.  He did want Miles to blame him.  He had caused so much trouble that someone ought to hold it against him.  "I tried really hard," he murmured.


Miles sighed, sliding closer across the cushions.  "It's not like you're the first, you know," he reminded the distraught defense attorney.  His hand slid to the back of Phoenix's neck--it was an inordinately reassuring gesture.  "Believe me, you can't rival some of the mistakes I've made.  So you'll tell everyone you're sorry and do better next time.  That's all there is to it."


Phoenix nodded, even though his chest felt suddenly tight.  Miles' calm advice, and more than that his easy understanding, wore down at the strong front he had been trying to show after his defeat in court.  But there was no reason to hide how he felt in front of Miles.  No reason to tell him anything short of the full truth.


"I'm so sorry," Phoenix whispered.  "It's my fault your office was burned down."


Miles frowned at him, his fingers flexing slightly against the collar of Phoenix's jacket.  "What do you mean?"


"Urami called me," Phoenix explained weakly, not caring if his retelling didn't entirely make sense.  "We'd been drinking--I told her I didn't want you to take the case.  That's why she tried to…get rid of you…."


His response was a long time in coming; Phoenix bit his lip again, waiting nervously.  His mind spun back to the day of the fire, and the helplessness he had felt slumped next to Lana on the curb.  I know it doesn't do any good to tell him that, butI can't keep secrets anymore.


The fingers at the back of Phoenix's neck tightened, causing him to jump slightly.  "It's all right," Miles finally replied.  "I didn't want to have to fight you, either."


Phoenix let out a low breath, but his throat had closed off abruptly, making it sound like a sob.  He quickly covered his mouth to keep any more alike sounds from escaping him.  He was ashamed, and exhausted, and relieved--too many emotions at once, bearing down on him.


"I tried so hard," Phoenix repeated through his fingers.  When his eyes began to sting he pressed them tightly shut.  As desperate as he was not to show this weakness in front of Miles, he was quickly becoming aware that he might not be able to help it.  "I ran across the entire city, talked to everyone I could, collected evidence--"  He shook his head as his shoulders hunched.  "I haven't slept right in days.  God, I'm so tired of it…."


Miles made a soft, uncomfortable sound at the back of his throat, clearly not equipped to deal with a crumbling Phoenix.  It made it all the more surprising when he gave Phoenix's shoulder a tug, urging the man to lean against him.  "So am I," he replied quietly.


Phoenix shuddered, and finally gave in.  The stress and frustration of the past week swept through him as he pressed his face into the soft fabric of Miles' cravat and sagged wearily against his body.  When steely fingers sunk into his unkempt hair another thick, pained sob fell past his lips, but this time he didn't try to stifle it.  Miles held him tightly without a word.  It was the greatest comfort he could have offered, and Phoenix clung to him, crying softly like he had alone in his apartment just over a year ago, the night Maya's life had been spared.  Like he had sitting next to Mia in the Defense Lobby when the first woman he'd ever loved betrayed him.


He cried, trembling like he had almost eighteen years ago, when he had peeked into this very room one cold January morning only to find it empty.



To Next Chapter


To Fanfiction