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 4

Tuesday September 17th, 2019.  6:17 pm




Miles stared at the two guests that had appeared at his front door with mixed fascination and bewilderment.  On the right was Phoenix, dressed in casual jeans and a T-shirt and carrying a cheap six pack; on the left was Larry, in white jeans and a pastel blue, button-down shirt with a heart logo on the pocket, offering a wide, purple pastry box.  Miles glanced between the two of them blankly, but was unsuccessful in reaching any explanation.  So he asked.  "What are you doing here?"


Phoenix shot his companion a sharp look, which explained a little.  Larry chuckled and shrugged.  "I said I was coming over, didn't I?  To help with Pess!"


"I told you I bought Pess a dog run," Miles reminded.  "You didn't say anything about coming over."


"Yeah, well, we're here now," Larry reasoned.  "You gonna make us stand out here in the cold?"


September in L.A. was by no means "cold" but Miles sighed, and gave in.  "All right.  Come in."  He stepped back and waved for them to come inside.


"Thanks, man."


"Sorry about dropping in," Phoenix said as Miles closed the door behind them.  He shot another look at Larry.  "I was told you were expecting us."


Miles shook his head--he knew very well what Larry was like, and it didn't do any good to make a big deal about it.  He led them down the front hall and into the kitchen.  "It's all right.  Now that you're here I guess I could use the help." 


As they reached the main room of the house Larry gave an appreciative whistle.  The interior of Miles' house had been entirely redone since Larry would have seen it last, during the initial move in.  There were new hardwood floors, a simple arrangement of pale modern furniture, and a fully refurnished kitchen.  "Not as pink as I imagined," Larry complimented.  "It's actually rather tasteful."


Miles would have replied, but Larry's whistle alerted his small housemate, and a short, tan figure darted out of the downstairs bedroom and headed right for Phoenix.  It must have caught Phoenix off guard, as he jumped and gave a rather ungraceful "eep" of surprise when a pair of soft paws pressed against his leg.


"I don't think you've met."  Miles watched in amusement as the red Shiba Inu licked happily at Phoenix's fingers.  "My dog, Pess."


Larry set his box on the kitchen table and crouched down, drawing Pess' attention away from Phoenix with a happy petting.  "Strange name for a dog," he commented.  "Friendly little thing, though."


Getting over his surprise, Phoenix seemed to quickly warm up to the animal as well.  He lowered his hand and got a licked greeting.  "It's hard to believe you've had him all this time, but no one knew about it until a few weeks ago," he said.  "How old is he now?"


"Almost eight years old.  And plenty of people knew about him."  Miles retrieved a long leash off a hook by the back door.  "Just not you."


"It's not my fault you never mentioned him…."


Miles gave the leash a shake, and Pess turned immediately, trotting over to his master.  He sat obediently while Miles fastened the latch.  "So are you two going to help or what?"


The back yard of the Edgeworth house was narrow, but deep, with neighbors close on either side.  It was the most space Pess had ever had to run about in, after living in Miles' downtown condo as a puppy, and then in France.  As well trained as he was, the open space was too tempting not to explore, leading to more than one trip to a neighbor's to pick up the wandering Pess in the past few weeks.  With a decent sized tree on either end of the property Miles figured a dog run would be the most convenient and accommodating solution.


Predictably enough, Miles and Phoenix ended up stringing the wire between the trees while Larry lent his help to keeping Pess busy.  Although Miles could have easily done the work himself, he found early on that he was grateful for the assistance.  Having company over gave life to the house it hadn't seen in years.  As he secured his end of the wire, listening to Larry chase Pess around the yard, he was reminded of another such visit Phoenix and Larry had paid him years ago.  He still remembered the pleased look on his father's face when the boys invited themselves in and insisted on seeing all of Miles' favorite action figures.


Things aren't like they were back then, Miles contemplated as he finished his side and moved to see how Phoenix was doing.  But it's not so bad, having them around.


"I always wanted a dog," Phoenix remarked as he finished his side as well.  Miles handed him the last piece that needed to be set up--the leash that would attach the horizontal wire to Pess' collar, enabling him to run freely up and down the lawn without scampering off to visit everyone in the neighborhood.  "But we lived in a small apartment, and my mom said it wouldn't be fair to coop one up with us."  He smiled faintly as he snapped the clasp into place.  "I hear they have one now, though."


It was the first time since they were kids that Phoenix had mentioned his parents to Miles.  "Where are they now?"


"Up north.  I don't see them that much.  Hey, Larry!" he abruptly called, making Miles wonder if he was escaping the topic.  "Bring him over, we're all done!"


Larry led Pess over, and they swapped his leash for the newly-fastened one.  Pess didn't seem to understand what the fuss was about, and just sat down on his haunches, watching them with his head tilted.  When it didn't look like he was about to test the new system out, Miles shrugged.  "He'll get used to it."


The three moved back to the house, sitting down on the wooden deck to enjoy the offerings Miles' guests had brought.  It turned out that the "leftovers" Larry had brought with him were from his job at a small downtown bakery, and when Miles and Phoenix peered inside they exchanged looks of disbelief.


"They're cupcakes," Miles said, not quite sure how to respond.  Inside the box, a dozen vanilla cupcakes were lined up, each topped with strawberry icing and various colored sprinkles.


"We had a birthday order, and ended up making too many," Larry explained.  "They're your favorite color!"


"You asked me to bring beer," Phoenix said.  Despite knowing Larry better than his host, he looked just as baffled.  "I thought you were bringing pizza or chips or something to go with it."


"What's wrong with beer and cupcakes…?"


And thus the three old friends sat, side by side on Miles' newly finished wooden deck, eating pink sprinkled cupcakes and drinking Phoenix's cheap beer, while Pess finally went about trying out his new leash apparatus.  Miles drew an inordinate amount of attention in simply accepting the offered beverage.  But beer was still beer, and considering how ridiculous their chosen refreshments already were it didn't seem worth it to be picky about brand.


"You've really done a great job with the place," Phoenix complimented.  Miles hadn't thought of him as a drinker, but he seemed to be doing just fine.  "New paint, new deck, new furniture--you must have spent a lot."


"Yes, but it was worth it."  Miles watched as Pess sniffed up and down the lawn, testing the limits of his new leash.  "I didn't realize until I came back how much this city feels like home.  Despite its flaws."


Miles felt eyes on him, and he glanced up to find Phoenix and Larry both staring at him.  "What?"


"Nothing, nothing," Larry said quickly.  "It's just kind of funny to hear you talk like that."


"It's a good thing," Phoenix added.  He was smiling in a thin, sheepish kind of way that seemed designed to elicit curiosity.  "You've changed a lot in the last three years, you know."


"Have I?"  Miles frowned.  Of course he had.  He liked to believe that, having freed himself from von Karma's influence those three years ago, he had since learned to examine his own character with a certain degree of objectivity.  It didn't occur to him often anymore to reminisce, but when he did, he became startlingly aware of the transformation gradually applied to his behavior and opinions.  It wasn't as easy to determine how his acquaintances perceived those changes that had taken place, but it seemed, if nothing else, he had become more pleasant company.  At least, that was what Gumshoe had once remarked to him.


"I have," Miles answered his own question.  "Not horrendously, I hope."


Larry chuckled, and slapped him heartily on the back.  He jumped at the unexpected contact.  "Phoenix is right--it's a good thing!  You used to be such a stiff.  Now if we could just get you a girl, you'd be downright tolerable."


Miles rolled his eyes, and in his effort to escape Larry's teasing caught a glance of Phoenix's suddenly uncomfortable face.  It wasn't until then that he remembered the events of the night before.  He felt a trace of guilt over the whole affair, however unwarranted--he had said nothing to Ayame she hadn't decided on herself.  It was still none of his business.


But those changes of demeanor he had just been reflecting on proved themselves as a swell of curiosity came over him.  "Not all of us can be as 'lucky' with women as you, Larry," he stated deliberately.  "Isn't that true, Wright?"


Phoenix's eyes thinned at the edges, giving his sheepish smile from earlier a wary undertone.  "Well…."


"Huh?  What about Nick?"  Larry leaned forward so he could get a look at him around Miles, who was seated between them.  "Ah man, you didn't screw it up with Ayame, did you?"


"It's not like that," Phoenix quickly defended himself.  He gulped down the remainder of his beer and was quick to grab for another.  "She doesn't like the city, and…long distance doesn't work for me.  That's all."


Miles watched him, suspecting there was more to the story, but it didn't look as if Phoenix was about to continue.  "That's too bad," he said.


"It's a downright shame," Larry muttered incredulously.  "Giving up a hottie like that."


Phoenix snorted.  "Well excuse me for getting dumped by a 'hottie'!"  His face was flushed, though probably not from the beer. 


Looks like we've pushed some buttons, Miles observed.  He recalled that he'd managed to get Phoenix to speak his mind before, without even meaning to.  It was part of his job to get answers out of people.  But he also had a feeling Phoenix wouldn't open up entirely with Larry present to poke fun at him for it.  Maybe it's best to let it be.


Pess came trotting up to them then, his ears up and steps light.  The extent of his new leash allowed him only within a few feet of the deck, and when he realized he couldn't reach his master, he sat down with another head-tilted stare.  Pess was too old now for them to be considered "puppy eyes" but they did the trick.


Miles smiled, and pushed to his feet.  "Well, Pess?  How do you like it?"


Pess stood, tail wagging as his master set his beer down and approached.  When Miles was almost next to him Pess suddenly turned, and bolted down the length of the yard.  It soon became clear that he'd left to retrieve a toy, as he was soon running back with a length of multi-colored rope in his mouth.




Phoenix watched, somewhat irritated that Miles had dragged him into an unwanted conversation and was now bailing out.  When dog and master engaged in a tug of war with the rope, though, it was hard to stay annoyed with him.   For all that he had seen the changes come over his old friend it was still strange to see sometimes, and still so different from the face he displayed in court. 


"Hey."  Larry reminded his friend that he was present by nudging him with his elbow.  He had scooted closer now that Miles wasn't in between them.  "I really am sorry, man," he offered.  "You know--about getting dumped.  I've been there."


He smirked dryly, and clinked their beer cans together.  Phoenix sighed, nodding to show he appreciated the sympathy.  It was the most sincerity he expected out of Larry, though he soon realized he had offered even less when Larry survived another romantic beating.  Larry always had a new story about a girl that had walked out on him, or even a job he'd been fired from.  It ought to have made Phoenix feel his own troubles weren't so awful.


Whether or not it did, Phoenix would wait until after the beer was gone to decide.  "It's all right.  I guess I didn't really think it would work out anyway.  I'm just glad she's home and doing well."


"Spoken like a true jilted boyfriend," Larry chuckled.  "Keep telling yourself that."


"Why?" Miles interrupted suddenly.  He was still wrestling with Pess for the colored rope just a few feet away.  For a smaller dog, Pess was putting up quite a resistance.  "Why didn't you think it would work?"


"Well…I don't know."  Phoenix shrugged helplessly.  If I'd really wanted it to work, he told himself, not for the first or even second time, I would have fought harder to keep her.  "I guess I'm just used to people coming in and out of my life."


Miles' eyes thinned slightly, watching him, and Phoenix imagined--with the help of his alcohol--that he could feel thick, steely fingers pressing into his shoulder once more.  He was saved from saying more by a sudden jerk by Pess that almost toppled Miles over, causing him to divert his attention. 


"It's all right, Nicky," Larry said brightly, dispelling whatever serious air that might have passed between them.  "You've still got us."


"Yeah."  Phoenix smiled.  "I know."


Larry managed to do the tactful thing then, changing the topic entirely.  It became quickly apparent that the reason for his instigating their meeting in the first place was so that he would have an audience for his tales of work-related woe.  Phoenix listened, albeit only partially, while Miles made no pretense of attention at all as he continued his tug-game with Pess. 


Phoenix had finished his second beer by the time Larry concluded his harrowing tale of the tipped sprinkle bin.  The sun had set a few minutes earlier and it was starting to get a bit chilly.  Not that Phoenix felt like moving.  With the slight buzz from his alcohol he felt perfectly at ease, out in the fresh air with pleasant company to spend the evening with.  He couldn't imagine how he hadn't thought of this himself.


"Hey."  Larry nudged him, and Phoenix worried briefly that he was about to launch into some inane story and ruin his lazy mood.  But he only pointed ahead of them.  "Haven't seen that in a while, have ya?"


Phoenix followed the indication with his eyes.  Miles and Pess had moved a few feet off during Larry's retellings, where they continued to battle hands against jaws for the prized toy.  Clad in simple khaki pants and pale blue polo shirt, Miles appeared more casual and at ease than Phoenix had seen him in some time.  He was grinning, openly and with sincerity, and when Pess managed to break the rope from his grasp he laughed as he tumbled onto his hip in the grass.  Seeing his master on the ground Pess abandoned the rope-toy to instead attack Miles with enthusiastic licks to the face.


It was ridiculously heartwarming.


 "I thought he'd forgotten how to do that," Phoenix said quietly, smiling to himself.  He felt an appreciation akin to pride rise from his stomach, as if taking personal satisfaction from his friend's character growth.  He knew Miles had changed but he hadn't seen him laugh outright since they were children.


Larry pushed to his feet with a yawn.  "I guess I'd better get going," he said loudly, brushing off his pants.  "You guys can keep the cupcakes."


Phoenix rolled his eyes.  "We're honored."


"Having fun?" Larry asked as he passed Miles, who had been pushed onto his side.  He laughed, and when Pess looked back at him curiously Larry gave him a pet.


"Are you leaving?"  Miles sat up.  He must have realized what he looked like just then, as he took a moment to straighten his clothing and hair.  "You shouldn't be driving if you've been drinking."


Larry made a face.  "Two beers isn't enough to get me drunk," he assured.  "Besides, I took the moped."


Miles frowned after him--driving a car or a moped should not have mattered.  But he didn't question again.  "Have a safe trip home."


"Seeya, Larry!" Phoenix called from the step.


"Later!"  Larry rounded the side of the house and disappeared.  As Miles finally stood, heading back toward the deck, they heard the rumble of his moped starting up, and soon it was a quiet hum heading down the street.


When it was clear that the gaming had ended, Pess scooped up his rope once more, and lay down in the grass to begin gnawing his toy instead.  Miles continued forward to rejoin Phoenix.  "So, he left the cupcakes."


Phoenix stretched out his legs in front of him, leaning back on his hands.  "Yeah.  Lucky us, huh?"


"If you say so."


Miles turned to sit down, but when he did so his foot slipped a little in the grass.  Instead of sitting down on the step, as he had intended, he missed the edge and landed on the lawn just in front of it.  His poor footing and miscalculation ended him closer to Phoenix than he had intended; his left upper arm was pressed against Phoenix's thigh. 


There they paused, caught in that awkward moment strangers sometimes share when they find themselves sharing unexpected body contact.  There was the predictable tension, each waiting to see which would move and by how much.  All this calculation of personal space took place within a few bare seconds, and then Miles settled, seemingly content not to correct his stumble.


Phoenix frowned; leaning back as he had been, he now had a decent view of the back of Miles' head.  He cleared his throat.  He wasn't uncomfortable, but it seemed a little odd to him that Miles wouldn't be, resting so casually together.  "Um…is there any more beer left?"


"You already drank your share," Miles reminded him.  He passed over what should have been his second can anyway.  "I didn't figure you for a drinker."


"It's not like I'm a drunk," Phoenix protested as he accepted.  He popped it open but didn't drink right away, made self-conscious by the remark.  "It's just something to do in the evening."


Miles tilted his head up slightly, and reached for the box Larry had left behind to get himself another cupcake.  "Sounds like you're used to spending the evening alone," he noted.


Phoenix shifted on his palms, still watching the back of Miles' uncommonly gray hair.  He felt sometimes that it was remarkably easy to speak with Miles, though he wasn't sure why; it wasn't as if the prosecutor's demeanor was especially friendly or welcoming in a conventional way.  He was unsympathetic, and short, and sometimes just plain rude, and yet that didn't deter Phoenix.  Maybe it was just that there were things in his mind now he wanted to say, and Miles was merely the closest to a serious friend he had around at present.


 "I guess I am," Phoenix admitted in a lower tone.  "I know a lot of people, I just…never think to call them, you know?"  He lifted his beer, contemplating it a moment before taking a sip.  "Maybe I take for granted that someone will call me."


"You shouldn't take anything for granted," Miles advised knowingly.  "Especially people you care about."


"I know."  Phoenix's eyes narrowed thoughtfully.  He probably knows even more about that than me.  The old Prosecutor Edgeworth didn't seem to have any more friends than I do.  "But you know, I've never had that many friends.  Even as a kid all I had was you and Larry.  And then you left…and Larry and I split up for college…"  He sighed, coming to the point that had really begged to be discussed.  "That's probably why I held on to Ayame as tightly as I did," he reflected.  "She was all I had."


Miles didn't respond except for a quiet hum.  But Phoenix could feel Miles' arm shift against his leg when he breathed, and just having that--a simple, human connection--was enough to reassure him.  He still couldn't see Miles' face, but he could see the muscles along his jaw and neck contract as he ate what Phoenix assumed was his cupcake.  Usually Miles was bundled up in his cravat or some other high-necked attire, rendering such observations impossible.


What a strange thing to notice.  Phoenix continued to watch.  "What about you?  Have you ever been in love?"


Miles flinched, making a slight choking noise against his dessert.  "Me?"  He shook his head--Phoenix leaned forward a little, very curious as to his response.  "I don't think so."


"Don't 'think' so?" Phoenix chuckled.


"I've had lovers, of course," he elaborated.  "But that's not the same thing.  So, no, I don't think so."


It was kind of a vague answer, but Phoenix found himself more amused by it than anything.  He tried to imagine Miles on a date, holding doors open for his chosen lady, sending her roses and chocolates and all those other ridiculously romantic gestures…that Phoenix himself had once been fond of.  But every time his imagination turned to Miles being fed up and irritated, and some girl running off in tears.  Poor Edgeworth.


"So?"  He nudged Miles with his knee, smirking to himself.  "You've had 'lovers'.  How many?"


"That's not--"


"Come on, Edgeworth, how many?" Phoenix persisted, thinking briefly that he must have sounded like Larry.


Miles sighed, and finally turned to face his companion with a sly grin.  "Let's just say I was a lot more popular in college than you were."


Phoenix burst out laughing, so hard that he almost lost his balance on his one braced hand; he tipped to his right, nearly into Miles' lap.  Unable to account for the sudden humor, except that it was obviously pointed at himself, Miles sputtered indignantly and shoved him back.  "What's so funny?  You don't think I--"


"You…your face," Phoenix gasped, sloshing his beer as he pointed.  He was starting to finally feel the stronger effects of his drinking, and collapsed onto his back, still laughing.  "Pink…your face, you…"


Miles touched a hand to his face, and discovered the reason for Phoenix's merriment--a dollop of strawberry frosting on his nose he must have acquired when an earlier question caused him to jump.  He rolled his eyes in annoyance and wiped it away.  "You must be drunk to think that's funny," he chided.


His embarrassment only made Phoenix's mirth more enjoyable.  It wasn't until Miles pushed to his feet that he finally got himself under control and was able to right himself.  "Sorry, sorry," he stuttered.  "You were just trying so hard to look 'cool,' and then…and that pink…"  Phoenix covered his mouth with more laughter.


Miles' complexion was so naturally pale that even a slight blush showed with perfect clarity.  He folded his arms irritably.  "Are you finished?"


Phoenix sniggered against the back of his palm. "Yeah--yeah, I'm done."  He lifted his hand plaintively.  "Help me up."


Miles sighed but obeyed, hoisting Phoenix easily to his feet.  He even put a hand on his shoulder to steady him, which caused Phoenix to pause.  Maybe it was his partially intoxicated imagination, but he had the impression that he'd felt a lot of that hand lately.  He blushed for no reason.  "It's getting late."


"Yeah."  Miles glanced to where the daylight was finally extinguishing beyond the line of trees.  "Can you make it home okay?"


"Yeah, sure.  I'm not drunk."  Perhaps not one hundred percent sober, but certainly not drunk.  Phoenix patted him on the shoulder, wondering if there was some special meaning in the gesture.  "You can keep the rest of the cupcakes."


"I'm honored," Miles muttered, unintentionally echoing Phoenix's response earlier.


Phoenix took a step back.  As he glanced around the yard he had to wonder if the events of that evening had taken place at all.  It seemed so incomprehensible that he had ended up in Miles Edgeworth's backyard drinking like old friends.  Which was what they were, but it was still halfway impossible.  "I had a good time," he said abruptly.  "Thanks for listening to my nonsense."  He smiled.  "We should do this again sometime."


Miles rubbed his nose self-consciously.  "All right.  Call me."


Whether his remark was alluding to Phoenix's previously confessed apathy or was completely innocent, Phoenix couldn't tell from his face.  But he took it as the former.  "Okay," he replied, more quietly.  "I will."


At last they parted, Phoenix heading around the side of the house as Larry had done earlier.  He was feeling light and rather proud of himself, for no understandable reason.  His dinner of alcohol and sugar would probably catch up to him eventually but that was the furthest thing from his mind.  And it wasn't until he was halfway down the block, when his phone rang, that he even remembered Chassie Gander's case.


Phoenix stopped on the sidewalk, pursing his lips as he dug into his pocket of his cell phone.  I was going to tell him.  To just bite the bullet and get it over with.  He forgot to check the number before answering.  "Yes?"


"Hello…Mr. Wright."  Urami's slow, gloomy voice was enough to crumble any remaining euphoria he held after that evening.  "How are you progressing…?"


Phoenix glanced around, as if someone might be around to overhear.  "Good," he assured.  "I went to Hotta Clinic, talked to the witness.  Once I've talked to Chassie again I'll be ready to file."


"So you've decided to move forward…?"


Phoenix rubbed his mouth and starting walking again.  I kind of have to, now that I deposited that check.  "Yes, you convinced me.  She couldn't have done it."  He frowned.  "But why wasn't the clinic report introduced by her lawyers last time?  It's a pretty tight alibi."


"Dr. Hotta…has limited credibility," Urami told him.  "There's a chance they'll think it was forged."


"But it wasn't, right?"  Phoenix asked quickly.


"No, of course not…"


Phoenix sighed.  He should have known his break wouldn't last for long.  "Good.  Then don't worry about that, I can handle Edgeworth's accusations."


In retrospect, Phoenix would realize he should have never brought the name up.  The tone of Urami's voice tipped slightly, almost curiously.  "About Prosecutor Edgeworth," she said deliberately.  "I hear you're close…?"


"Close?"  Phoenix almost asked why she would think so, but then he remembered some of the magazine articles Ema had passed on to him when Edgeworth first returned to the district.  The subject of the Prosecutor and Defense Attorney's shared childhood had caused a bit of a stir when it was first published--thankfully, that had dropped fairly quickly.  "That's not really an issue."


"So you won't mind…if Mr. Edgeworth is picked to prosecute again…?  He has an impressive record."


Phoenix frowned, and spoke the truth before he could think to do otherwise.  "I'd rather it not be Edgeworth.  He's tough and chances are he'll take it personally…."  I should have told him already.  He's not going to be happy….  "But I've beaten him before.  I can win this case against any prosecutor they have."


Urami was silent for several seconds, and Phoenix was just buzzed enough not to really worry what she could have been thinking about.  "I see," she said at last.  "Thank you, Mr. Wright, for taking this case….  I'll leave it in your hands."


"Yeah…sure."  Phoenix was about to say more, but then the dial tone echoed back at him.  He shrugged, shoved the phone back into his pocket, and took another sip of his remaining beer as he continued toward home.



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