Razor's Edge

by Tenshi

Author's Note: Spoilers for mostly Apollo Justice, unless of course you are already well-versed in the Hobohodo phenomenon (or as he is fondly called around here: beaniefeenie). Cranky lawyer guys in love, straight razors (for shaving, not for angst), just enough heartache and hope.

Phoenix once had been uncomfortable entering Edgeworth's apartment complex in anything less than a tux and tails, but those days were long past. The doorman knew him by name, and the cleaning ladies always cornered him in the elevator to talk about their very attractive very single daughters. At first this was due to frequency, as suspicious glares had been won over with Phoenix's ready smile and friendly attitude. Even then, however, Phoenix was still part of the strata, the gentry. But once the crash happened, Phoenix was no longer Mr. Edgeworth's lawyer-friend. He was an ordinary soul like them, and they took his mistreatment by the authorities to heart. Most of them had family members who had been done wrong by the law, or the system; Phoenix was just one more. He was given advice and hand-knit socks and jars of homemade salsa, and learned more than he ever knew before about the kindness of strangers.

So even though Phoenix strolled through the lobby of Edgeworth's painfully respectable apartment building wearing threadbare jeans and a fuzzy beanie, none of the staff gave him any trouble about his presence. The glares of Edgeworth's fellow tenants remained the same as always, shooting daggers at Phoenix over the collars of their two-thousand dollar coats, scandalized that he should dare take the same elevator as his betters. That hadn't changed. The difference was, Phoenix didn't care any more.

They couldn't do anything to him, much less dish out something worse than what he'd already been handed by life. And it wasn't as though Phoenix missed all of it, really. There were no more uncomfortable trappings of respectability for him! No ties, no cufflinks, no dry cleaning bill, no jacket required. He was going to be himself, just as he was, a diamond in the rough! He was going to--

"Shave," Edgeworth said in no uncertain terms, looking at his cuffs and not at the lover that had just come through the door of his apartment. "And shower. You smell like a truck stop."

Phoenix cast a wistful look at the deserted, sterile kitchen of Edgeworth's apartment. It promised snow outside, his feet were tingly ice blocks after the walk from the bus stop, and he had been entertaining a high-gloss fantasy of shepherd's pie and a bottle of Guinness.

"Court must have run late," Phoenix said, shaking the rain--almost ice--off his hoodie before hanging it up. "You usually cook on nights like this."

"It was a bit tedious, but I'm pleased to say there's one less criminal on the loose," Edgeworth held out his arms to inspect his sleeves, and flicked of an imaginary speck from one of them. "But yes, it was nearly five before we got verdict. So I made reservations, instead." Edgeworth looked at Phoenix for the first time, and there was that same flicker in his eyes that Phoenix was used to seeing by now. Anger, surprise, frustration, disappointment, pain. None of it was directed at Phoenix himself, and he knew that it was only Edgeworth's way of dealing with Phoenix's facade. The ragged idler dripping rainwater on the foyer tile was not the Phoenix Wright that Edgeworth had known and that they both had to believe was still there, buried under too many years of defeat.

But Edgeworth only said, "The reservations are for eight, so don't waste time, Wright," and picked up his jacket.

"Where are we going?" Phoenix toed out of his shoes, and raised one eyebrow at the ruby pin in Edgeworth's cravat. "Not the Shake n' Steak, I take it."

"We are going," Edgeworth said, with a note of impatience for Phoenix's slowness, "to the Gilded Lilly, provided of course you get yourself off the doormat and into the shower."

Free of his shoes, Phoenix walked over to examine the deep blue suit laid out for him on the bed. It and crimson tie were made of nicer stuff than Phoenix had ever worn in a courtroom, accompanied by leather suspenders and sterling cufflinks. So much for his freedom from the trappings of wealth. But Edgeworth's shower had two shower heads and a heated towel-rack, and doing as he had been told was no hardship for Phoenix. He stepped into the stream of almost-scalding water and let it sluice over him; thawing his chilled skin and undoing the knots in his shoulders, left from too many hours sitting over a poker table.

Beyond the pebbled glass shower door Phoenix saw Edgeworth as a magenta-colored blur, tutting at the twist of stained blue jeans left on his bathmat. By the time Phoenix came out, freshly scrubbed, his old clothes had vanished, and only his gold locket remained where he had left it on the vanity. He knew from experience his old clothes would be replaced rather than returned. It would take Phoenix weeks to get them properly scruffy again, but he didn't have the heart to make Edgeworth give the worn-out old things back. Instead he tied a warm, fluffy towel around his hips and began rooting in Edgeworth's arsenal of a medicine cabinet for a razor and shaving foam.

"What are you doing?" Edgeworth said, standing in the bathroom doorway, waving away the steam of Phoenix's shower in the hopes that it wouldn't make his hair wilt.

"Razors," Phoenix began, in what he felt was a suitably annoyed tone, as he scooted aside five separate kinds of hair wax. "They're usually a little sharp bit with a handle, you know, you use them for shaving, I'm sure you've heard of them. Unless you've got some fancy electric thing that probably cost three times what--"

Edgeworth interrupted without saying a word, pulling open one of the brass-handled vanity drawers and flicking out what Phoenix took at first for a murder weapon: three inches of sharpened steel with an engraved bone clasp. "On the contrary," Edgeworth said, as Phoenix wondered if Edgeworth had taken a People's Exhibit A tag off the razor when he first got it, "I prefer the old-fashioned method."

Phoenix shut the medicine cabinet. "Yes well," he said, "you would. But the rest of us would prefer not to guillotine ourselves in our daily hygiene."

"Hardly daily." Edgeworth ran one warm thumb over Phoenix's chin, ruffling stubble. "This looks like three or four days' worth, in your case." His chuckle was smug, for someone who had probably been getting laser hair removal since he was five, and lacked anything like the black shadow that reached upwards from Phoenix's towel to his navel. "If you ever wanted a full judicial beard, you'd be doomed to disappointment."

"I'd be doomed to looking stupid if I did have one. Besides, the unshaven thing is part of the look, you know."

Edgeworth was looking at Phoenix's lower lip and the tiny hairs beneath it, a little line of dismay between his eyebrows. "You don't have to do this, you know," he said, softly. "You don't have to lower yourself to this. I could--"

Phoenix pulled his face away from Edgeworth's hand. "Stop it," he said. "That tickles." He smoothed his hand over his face too late for that line to be convincing. The silence in the bathroom strained until Phoenix could almost hear it sing with the tension, like a harp string twisted too far. "Anyway," Phoenix said at last, to his fogged-over reflection in Edgeworth's mirror, "I'll just have to go like this. I can't shave with that thing-- I'll cut my own throat, and that would really annoy me. Not only will I never get exonerated, but the season finale of Pink Princess Neo is on next weekend and I'll never know what happens."

Phoenix's attempt at humor was lost on Edgeworth, who only looked grimmer than ever before. "Sit," he said sternly, pointing at the padded marble bath bench next to the sunken tub. He shrugged out of his jacket, and his cufflinks made high-pitched musical sounds as they plinked on the counter next to Phoenix's locket.

"Why?" Phoenix asked, not sure he liked the way Edgeworth was rolling up his sleeves.

"If you can't use this razor, then by God I can," Edgeworth laid out a small pot and a silver-tipped badger shaving brush, slinging a towel over one shoulder with the air of a surgeon about to perform some sort of desperate, life-saving operation. "Maybe it doesn't matter to you," Edgeworth continued, biting off the ends of his words as though they were bullets, whipping the shaving foam in the pot into a furious froth, all the emotion that he would not let his face show, "what they say about you. That you are broken, that you are beaten. I know it's all part of this grand plan of yours, to let them think they've won, to let them think justice is dead when she is only sleeping. But half of the lawyers in the district are going to be in that restaurant tonight, and I want them to know that no matter what has been done to you, their days are numbered and Phoenix Wright is still a name to be respected by most of them and feared by the rest. Now sit down, dammit."

Phoenix sat.

Edgeworth kept at his shaving soap until he had a small glacier of foam at his command, and Phoenix shifted uncomfortably in his towel. "Well," Phoenix said, after a moment's pause. "I could always go with that scruffy suit look, you know, like the guys on Tampa Vice--" He was interrupted by a hot, wet towel smacking into his face at roughly the speed of sound. "Ow," he managed, under the soggy weight of French terrycloth.

"You will do nothing of the sort," Edgeworth said, peeling away the towel and daubing Phoenix's face and neck with shaving foam. "What you're going to do is sit still, and let me see if I can unearth the man I know is under there somewhere." He stepped behind Phoenix, the soft fabric of his vest brushing up against Phoenix's bare shoulders. The razor clicked as Edgeworth opened it, and it glinted in the corner of Phoenix' vision, close enough for him to read the DOVO Solingen engraved along the blade. The business-end of it was sharp enough that it tapered to an invisible edge. Phoenix swallowed.

"Um," he said, "I suppose it's a good thing I trust you."

He could not see Edgeworth's smile, but he knew it was there, all the same, just by the tone of the other man's voice. "Yes," Edgeworth said, "I suppose it is." The blade slid over Phoenix's jawbone with a soft scraping sound, precise and unswerving in Edgeworth's steady hands. Phoenix looked up at Edgeworth's determined face above him, and closed his eyes as Edgeworth shaved away all that remained of Phoenix's disguise.

I know, Miles. I know you think that this is all you can do for me, to give me back some vestige of what I've lost. But you said it yourself. Justice isn't dead. Phoenix felt the wet towel move over his face to clear away the foam, felt Edgeworth's fingertips trailing the cool tingle of expensive aftershave behind them. It's just sleeping.

"There's the Phoenix Wright I remember," Edgeworth murmured. Phoenix opened his eyes just in time to close them again as Edgeworth bent down and kissed him, hard and hungry, like a man who has been parted from a lover for years and not days. Phoenix caught his hands in the lapels of Edgeworth's vest, letting Edgeworth pull him up until they were standing on even footing, and Phoenix had lost his towel somewhere in the process. He hadn't gotten any further than the top button of Edgeworth's vest when his hands were caught, and the mouth against his whispered, "Reservations at eight, Wright."

"You'd leave me in this state just to make sure you get your lobster thermidor on schedule, wouldn't you?" Phoenix used his nose to nudge down some of the silk wrapping of Edgeworth's cravat, and nuzzled the exposed line of his neck. Edgeworth's breath was startling against the over-sensitive skin on Phoenix's face; the soft folds of cravat brushed like ghostly kisses down his throat.

"I'd leave you in this state because I'd like to anticipate getting you out of it," Edgeworth purred, his thumbs making little circles on Phoenix's hipbone. "Put your suit on. I assume you still know how to tie a tie."

"I assume you'd get more of a charge putting it on me yourself," Phoenix said, but picked up his towel and his locket, and went to complete his appearance of respectability. Edgeworth leaned in the bathroom doorway and watched, without bothering to hide his scrutiny or how much it pleased him to see Phoenix in blue once more. When Phoenix reached for his tie, Edgeworth had gotten there first, and knotted the length of crimson silk around Phoenix's throat.

"You tie a nice noose," Phoenix said, sliding a finger under the knot. "Trying to strangle me?"

"If I'd wanted to kill you, the razor would have been easier," Edgeworth said, with disquieting matter-of-factness, and a faint smile to take the edge off. He held out Phoenix's suit coat for him. "Let's go. I'd like to get Trucy's father back to her before too late this evening, or she'll let me have it next time I see her."

Phoenix shrugged the jacket over his shoulder, and caught a glimpse of a blue-suited ghost in Edgeworth's bedroom mirror. He would have said that Phoenix Wright was long dead, but here he was, alive and well, resurrected in a way that put spirit channeling to shame. Something moved inside his chest at the reflected portent, something long forgotten, something like hope. He turned away from the man in the mirror, while he still could. Soon. But not yet. "Didn't I mention?" he said. "She's baby-sitting little Angelo for the DeLites tonight and sleeping over."

Edgeworth's eyebrow lifted in a tell that would have had Phoenix taking all his chips, if there was a poker game between them. "Ah," he said, a heavy and promising tone settling on his voice, like the certainty of a verdict in his favor. "Well, in that case, we'll have to get dessert."


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