Title: Give
Fandom: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Completion date: June 14th, 2007
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 1950
Pairing: Edgeworth/Mia
Summary: Something casual, something evening-cool and shadowed soft -- if only nighttime stayed so benign for him.

    Battle lines were laid for a reason. Edgeworth didn't indulge defense attorneys in chatter; he hated the pointless friction. As if he didn't have enough to plague his sleep.

    Fey, lately, was another matter entirely. Edgeworth regarded her critically -- or tried to, he couldn't manage proper frost in the no-man's-land lobby, with no rules for guidance.
    "We are rivals in law, with reputations to uphold." He shouldn't have had to repeat it; if anyone could be counted on to watch keenly, he thought, it was Mia Fey.
    "I know," she said.
    Her gaze was too steady, too knowing to hold and he glanced away to the courthouse's worn granite. Her motive had become all too clear. Memory called with Fey's silk voice: I'd like to know you better.
    "There'd...need to be discretion."
    Smiling, her knowing look prying deeper, Fey replied, "Of course. It's no one else's business."
    He took a breath, and nodded. Against his better judgement, against numb incredulity and hot terror, Edgeworth nodded.

    And that was how it began: she arrived clutching a movie rental case and crackling-wrapped microwave popcorn, in a sky-coloured sweater a far cry from her business garb, still smiling. Mia, not Fey; an opponent no more. She entered and delicate shampoo scent followed her, a detail irrelevant in the courtroom, alien to everything he knew.  Edgeworth wished suddenly for more blazer buttons to fasten tight, and wished to know what the hell he had been thinking.

    "I've always liked this one," Mia said while crouched by the entertainment unit, her back an elegant curve, "Even if it's a bit cheesy."
    The space between felt them felt different, lacking something he couldn't place and bearing extra of something else. He watched her manicured nails drift over DVD player buttons. It would come out eventually, Edgeworth's penchant for old samurai films, his collection of movies remastered so every yukata fold and blade edge stood out crisp. Mia had walked into a rental store with him in mind, thinking of his tastes instead of cursing his name -- what a bizarre thought.  
    Samurai's Journey was a new experience when watched with a companion. Edgeworth knew the camera angles by heart and smirked before cliched lines were even uttered; Mia sat with legs girlishly curled beside her, smirking just as knowingly at the screen. The quiet lingered, comfortable. Cheap salt weighed heavy on his palate, urging his hand back to the popcorn -- their fingers brushed and it was water off Mia's unrufflable feathers, it was warm confusion stirring in him.
    Time slowed and bent; ending credits marched over the movie. She thanked him for his hospitality, and took his hand -- not to shake it but to clasp and hold.
    "We should do this again sometime."
    She was radiant in the cool screenlight, smiling up at him, her gaze warmer and fonder than he had ever seen. His tongue tied, Edgeworth nodded. Showing Mia out, bidding her good evening and watching her hair fly on biting autumn wind, was terrible relief. He stared out into the dark long after she was gone.

    The nightmare worsened that night.  The scream tore harder through him, vision returning slow in the dark, pulse drumming bass against his ribs. He raked sweat-damp bangs off his forehead and couldn't shake the sensation of presence, of another human being drawing breath from his home's air. The strange evening had gone, another one loomed on the calendar and he had precious little understanding of why.

    He didn't like the word date, Edgeworth decided as the second evening approached, as he straightened sofa cushions by a very necessary fraction. Date was a hackneyed word, full of unreasonable expectations. They were better off without it. He straightened, considered, and bent again, and picked lint from the upholstery until her knock summoned. No infernal popcorn: just a movie case and Mia's smile, and the breeze of her walking past.

    She accepted a cup of tea, blowing delicately at its surface while Eternal Warrior's opening played out -- sweeping pan shots of green hills, light-dappled ginkgo canopies, endless clear sky.
    "Pretty," she mused, "But pointless."
    He inhaled the ceylon white's aroma, forest-sweet and delicate. "Hmm," he agreed.
    "Twenty minutes on the cutting room floor wouldn't have hurt anything."
    "Then it would hardly be Eternal Warrior."
    And where that courtroom blade edge came from, Edgeworth had no idea. He glanced to Mia in time to watch a new smile form on her -- wry, bemused enough to crease her forehead.
    "How true."
    He smothered his own smile against teacup's rim; it likely looked ridiculous on him.
    Everything was easier with prior experience: Mia's slender hands clasping his own, small promises veiled with goodbyes, awareness of silence while his palm still lay on the front door's wood. He could manage, he could learn. The exception to the rule was waking with spots burned into his vision, terror chill on his skin -- ease could never come to that. Nights trudged on without him.

    Edgeworth grew more sure the next time, full of memories and fools' hot bravado, imagining her presence like soft-prickling wool. He left a collar button unfastened. Chill air nipped at his neck when he opened the door, and Mia carried a movie case and a bag of pretzels -- organic ones. Another gesture; Edgeworth quirked a brow and let her in.

    He knew Samurai Cry all too well, and so did she.
    "When I shall return hence," the onscreen warrior growled, face twisting, "I know not."
    "Yea, and verily," Mia added.
    Edgeworth allowed his smirk to widen. "Forsooth indeed."
    "And ever shall the dramatic flourish." She shifted and the cushions betrayed her movement; soft flesh embraced his arm, line of her jaw distinct against his shoulder, her hand coiling benevolent around his inner elbow. "Is this all right?"
    She settled and stilled against Edgeworth before he managed reply: warm weight, presence, breath serene against his shirtsleeve and more of that bizarre ordinary. Pretzels rattled. Beyond all right -- she knew in the uncanny way she knew everything.     

    He dreaded the movie credits, the spell's end, the moment Mia stirred to rise but all things came eventually.  
    "Would you like to pick next time?" Her fingertips lingered on his arm. "Which movie's your favourite?"
     A half-dozen scenes flickered across his thoughts -- the screech of blade on blade, the tension between determined fighters -- and some strange, proud impulse shooed them away.
    "Bring your favourite." He glanced to empty air, and struggled back to meet her surprise-warm eyes. "I'd like to see it."

    Mia's touch remained long after she was gone.    He thought again of his film collection queued in cabinets, and wondered which story she held closest, and imagined her slow, considering gait down the rental store aisles. Knowing a person's motives, Edgeworth was well aware, didn't always make sense of their actions.  He played the errant collar button between finger and thumb, and stared out into the windy night.

     He woke more, always choking on terror's sounds. Layers built in each night, haze and nightmare and more haze until Edgeworth rose, damp and shaking, to watch sun blight the horizon. The sensation echoed in his waking mind -- more presence in the darkness than ever before, a thousand bodies crowding and struggling for breath before the scream. He couldn't remember what the words just a dream meant. He repeated them anyway.

    Fatigue piled to strength-stealing drifts, illusions tugging the edges of his vision.  Edgeworth was in his home, wearing a fresh shirt with one button open, with no memory of how such things came to be and with the scream chewing inside. Mia arrived -- her brows immediately drew.
    "You don't look well, is it a bad time?" She unwound her snow-flecked scarf, movement dragging his gaze in circles. "I can take a rain check...?"
    She could. Edgeworth could have his madness for company.
    "It's nothing." And a clumsy moment belated, "Err ... thank you."
    After an agonizing, searching gaze, Mia smiled at him, small and mild. And with a tap of nails on the movie case, she said, "I think you'll like this one." 

    He put a kettle of water on, with instinctive motions, and came to sit heavy on the sofa. Her movie unfolded in atmospheric greys, crisply shadowed. A word evaded Edgeworth's thoughts but it left no trail to follow; Mia's presence pulled at his awareness but how was her breath in the room any different from usual? It was usual, almost comfortable -- he knew it was.
     The name took a moment to place as familiar. He looked to Mia, vision lurching protest; she was draped silver with screenlight, and she motioned to the pillow in her lap.
    "Here," she said.
    It had been a long day, one consuming weeks and months and years, the same damned day he couldn't remember properly or forget properly, either. And her eyes were so gentle, and the sofa cushions sang siren to his body weight, and he ached too hard to care. There was nothing conscious about accepting, no more thought than breathing to lay his head in her lap, and be still. 
    Kind, he thought as anxiety's flutter left his chest, as she shifted minutely and thigh muscles flexed against his shoulder. That was the word he wanted. Mia was kind. This was their way, however strange, however clandestine -- the weakness, exhaustion, confusion fled when her touch laced into his hair and stroked, his world shrinking to the press of cushions and fingertips' gentle paths on his scalp. There was something he ought to be feeling but the flickering television called his gaze, and Mia commanded his awareness. His sigh was the last sound that mattered.
    Until the screech of cables, until the tremors and the jolting halt. Until the raging voices, the air thickening until it stopped in his throat, clawed at his mind and he gasped, choked, blazed, they all did. The shot rang and the voice screamed and then he was sitting, head clutched in his hands, heaving air that wouldn't fill him deep enough. A kettle screeched in the distance -- his kettle, not cables. 
    It took long moments to notice Mia, her hand on his back burning an imprint, words he struggled to find sense in.
    "Miles," she murmured and that was the boy, that wasn't his name--
    "Don't--" He shut his eyes and the shaking wouldn't stop; his voice floundered, dying, "Don't call me that."
    He listened to the kettle's cry fade, the movie's mumbling to itself, his own breath losing its ragged edge.
    Her hand moved from his back -- retreated, reconsidered, and settled again on him.
    "Edgeworth ..."
    Softer than he had ever heard it, a cradling of each sound. Just him, no Demon. He remembered how to breathe, how to make air move steady, in, out again.
     "Tell me ...?"
    He expected churning indignity, but none came -- tired beyond flesh, tired beyond spirit, and the nightmare never, ever stopped, why would it? He could picture Mia's face, drawn with thought, worry liquid in her eyes. He swallowed thick.
    "Dream," he murmured.
    Touch soothed across his shoulders, her gentle hand; something inside Edgeworth shattered, something ached and wanted more than he had ever known, he breathed, he lived. There was only forward.
    "Do you think dreams have meaning?"

    He wasn't naive enough to hope the nightmare would leave when Mia did. He made tea, gripped warm ceramic and thought of raging emotions instead of feeling them. Not perfect, nowhere near it. He couldn't even find the right words to paint a scream with.
    Yes, Mia whispered again, fingers ghosting on his clammy brow, tracing a shiver down his back, dreams show who you really are

    Sunrise spread pastel over Edgeworth's ceiling.


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