A/N: Oh man, this will probably be the biggest reveal I'll ever have, heh. Anyway, I wrote this for the Phoenix Wright kink meme (which is more like just... a meme by now than a kink meme, roffle). The prompt:
Phoenix and Miles have had a long, happy life together. Maybe a scattering more of adopted kids after Trucy, maybe a few years of Miles writing educational books on international law, definitely shacking up in later years for lots of snarking at one another and being in love.
Then, gradually, Miles starts forgetting little things. At first, they laugh/snark it off: Miles is getting old, is too distracted by Phoenix's sexy old butt, etc. But as the months go on, Miles is horrified to realize words that came so easily once are escaping him, and he keeps misplacing things. And worse, he starts having trouble recognizing old friends.
What happens, anon? Of course, Phoenix would care for him, but there's a lot of AGONIZING ANGST POTENTIAL there: Miles maybe starts to forget Phoenix's name, or even denies that Phoenix is Phoenix (ie: "No, Wright had black hair, not grey, get away from me!"), and Miles himself would just be constantly terrified as his mind fades. Does he hold out, both of them just thankful for the moments where he's himself? Does he, in a moment of clarity, eventually beg Phoenix to understand that he wants to Choose Death?
DO YOU SMASH MY HEART OUT ON THE ROCKY SHORES OF A STORY ABOUT DEMENTIA CARE?!
Too long? GIVE MILES ALZHEIMER'S, MAKE ME SOB.
I'll warn you now, you're not going to find any suspense in this story. It progresses in a very linear fashion toward one destination - and since Alzheimer's is a terminal disease, you can figure out for yourself what that destination is (hence the T rating).
That said, I'll let you know in advance that this will have five parts. There will also be mentions of GS4 canon (Trucy, pianist!Nick, etc.), but no spoilers. Happy (or sad) reading!
"We're getting on in years," Phoenix says one day.
Edgeworth looks at him. "Yes, that's what happens when you live for a while."
"What is it?"
Those eyes he loves—still brilliant and blue as always, even after all this time—crinkle as he smiles. "It's funny. I never thought my life would happen like this. If someone told me that I would grow old with you when I was younger… I'd have laughed at them. But here we are."
"Here we are," Edgeworth agrees. He pauses. "Having regrets, Wright?"
"Ouch, last name," he jokes, pretending to flinch. "But no. No regrets, Miles. You?"
Edgeworth smiles. "None at all."
And when they kiss, it doesn't matter how old they are—it still feels exactly the same as the first time their lips met, twenty years ago.
"I can't find my glasses."
"Where'd you put them?"
"I don't remember."
Phoenix places his newspaper back on the table. "All right, I'll help you look. I guess you'll need them if you want to look at my beautiful self."
Edgeworth smirks. "Yes, that's exactly it."
Moments later, Phoenix calls him into the bedroom. "You left them on the nightstand," he says. "Did you really not check here first?"
"I suppose I'm going senile," he murmurs with a small smile as he slides the frames on.
The other man raises a crooked eyebrow. "Just don't go apeshit crazy on me. I'll need you to take care of me when I start forgetting things."
He misses Phoenix's cup completely as he tries to pour boiling water into his mug. "Dammit," he hisses as steam rises from the table.
Phoenix puts down the packet of sugar he's holding and gets a towel. "Miles," he says as he begins to gingerly mop up the mess, "keep this up and you'll be as clumsy as I am."
"I think I have a ways to go before that's the case," Edgeworth retorts, though he still feels bad as he places the kettle into the sink, wondering how his aim could have been so poor.
The other chuckles. "Yeah, I guess I'm in an advanced stage of clumsiness. Do you remember that one time, two weeks ago, when we were in bed and I accidentally—"
"God, don't remind me," he moans. "That was painful as hell."
"Well, anyway," Phoenix continues cheerfully, "please don't become as inept with your body parts as I am."
Edgeworth coughs lightly. "I'd have to shoot myself if that were to happen."
"Yeah, we only need one clumsy person around here. And I've already claimed that spot."
He sighs and shakes his head. "Why do I love you?"
"Because you find my creaking joints incredibly hot."
A pause. "I suppose I can't argue with that."
"Exactly." Phoenix tosses the towel onto the counter. "So, want to hear more of those joints? In a closed setting?"
"Aren't we a little too old for innuendo?"
"Oh, come on, our entire relationship is based on innuendo, Miles. Now are you with me or not?"
He purses his lips. "I'm with you."
Phoenix smiles as he grabs his hand. "Just don't spill any hot water on me," he chortles, and drags him to the bedroom.
And then Edgeworth discovers that Phoenix's idea of hearing more of those joints is him waving his arms wildly to Steel Samurai reruns and dancing around to the theme song.
He finds that he doesn't mind at all.
"Are you planning on sleeping anytime soon?" Phoenix mumbles from next to him, eyes half-closed.
"I just want to finish outlining the main ideas of this next chapter first," he answers, drumming his pencil against his notepad.
"God, Miles, you're such a nerd."
Edgeworth snorts. "A nerd? I would classify myself as merely being knowledgeable."
"But writing books on international law…"
"Is something I enjoy doing," he finishes. "I'm not letting all that time I spent in Europe go to waste."
Phoenix flips over in bed and faces him. "Good," he says, grinning. "Because whenever you were in Europe, you weren't with me, so something had better damn well come out of it."
"I called you every day."
"It's not quite the same as actually being next to me, if you know what I mean," the other says with a knowing smile as one hand grazes over Edgeworth's thigh.
"Phoenix!" he gasps.
"Oops, sorry, better let the master work. Meanwhile, I'll just be lying here. Alone."
Edgeworth glares at him, though there's no force behind it, and returns to his notes. To his surprise, he realizes that he can't read a word of what he's written—it looks like chicken scratch.
Well, how the hell am I supposed to concentrate, with Phoenix right here next to me, he thinks, glancing down at the other man, who's still grinning like an idiot. "All right, you win," he mutters, placing the pencil and notepad down on the table next to the bed.
"Excellent," Phoenix says emphatically.
His notes are quickly forgotten.
There's an empty carton of orange juice in the refrigerator.
"Phoenix," he says, "when you're finished, you should really throw the box away."
"Finished with what?"
"The apple." He pauses. That doesn't sound quite right.
"We have a box of apples?"
"I… apple," he says again, brow furrowing.
"Miles, are you okay?"
"Fine," he snaps. Ridiculous. Why isn't the word coming to him?
"I'll go buy some apples, if that's what you really want," Phoenix says, looking concerned.
Edgeworth doesn't reply; he's still staring into the fridge. He can see it right there. Why can't he name it?
But he knows Phoenix is not to blame for his own memory failures. "I'm sorry," he mumbles, shutting the door. "I shouldn't have lashed out at you."
"It's alright," the other replies, his eyes wide and alert. "I—I'm the one who should've… thrown the box away." He gives him a weak smile.
He tries to smile in return. I'll remember what it's called later, he tells himself.
Except he doesn't.
"I'm a little worried about Trucy."
Phoenix looks at him in alarm. "What makes you say that?"
"I think… someone's following her."
"What?" he squawks, his eyes widening. "Did you see something? Tell me. If something happens to her…"
Edgeworth closes his eyes and frowns. "It was strange, actually. He… was in the house, the last time she visited. But she didn't notice."
"I… don't understand."
"There was a man right behind her. But she kept on walking like no one was there. Even though he was so close she should have felt him. Their… capes were touching."
"Capes?" Phoenix replies, biting his lip. "Miles… that—that was Mr. Hat."
"Yeah, he's gotten pretty realistic, hasn't he?" He laughs nervously. "Trucy's something else. That trick is perfect."
He doesn't quite get it, but if Phoenix isn't concerned for her safety, then he won't be, either.
Nevertheless, he feels that something is wrong.
"I haven't seen you working on that book in a while," Phoenix says as he walks into the bedroom.
"What book?" Edgeworth replies, his eyes glued to the TV. All these years, and the Steel Samurai is still as glorious as ever.
"You know, the one on international law. The third in the series, was it?"
"I didn't feel like working on it anymore."
Phoenix stares at him. "You're not one to give up so easily."
He shrugs. "I didn't give up. It just stopped being of interest of me."
"Didn't you say something a while ago about not wanting to have wasted your time in Europe? I mean, you learned the language of half the countries there. It's hard to believe that dedication suddenly vanished."
"Well, it did, Wright," he snaps, and he feels a bit of pleasure at seeing the other man wince. "I'm old, you're old, things change, alright? Stop badgering me."
"God, Miles, I didn't mean—"
"The torch relay will be perfectly peaceful," he interrupts, thoroughly annoyed now.
Phoenix's eyes widen. "W-what? Say that again?"
He doesn't see anything wrong with his words. "The torch relay will be perfectly peaceful."
"Miles," the other says softly after a long pause, and there is the barest hint of fear in his voice. "I-I think you need to get some sleep. Please. You've just been sitting here watching TV all day. I'm beginning to worry."
Edgeworth rolls his eyes and hits the off button on the remote. "Fine, if it bothers you that much."
He doesn't reply.
"Do you want to play chess?"
Edgeworth shrugs. "If you want to."
He hasn't been feeling well lately. Nothing interests him. Phoenix keeps on trying to make him do things, but his heart just isn't into it. All he wants is to watch the Steel Samurai, except Phoenix's hid all the DVDs and he can't find them.
"Great," the other man says brightly, disappearing and returning with a chessboard. "So. White or black?"
"What's the difference?"
"Er. Well, white gets to go first, right? That's what you said."
"Oh. I don't care."
"You… can be white then, I guess," Phoenix answers, endeavoring valiantly to smile. He arranges the pieces on the board. "Go ahead."
He stares at it, trying to figure out what to do—somehow it feels like it should be coming to him naturally, but right now, his mind is blank. Eventually he decides to move one of the little pieces in the front row forward one step. It seems like a safe choice.
Phoenix follows suit, and for a while they sit in silence, nudging a piece here and there when it's their turn.
And then the other man stands up. "That's it," he says. "Something's wrong."
"I'm kicking your ass. That never happens. Well, I mean, it does sometimes, but then you pull off some sort of miracle and win. But look at your pieces. They're all over the place." He walks over to Edgeworth and grabs him by the shoulders. "Tell me what's happening."
"You've been acting weird for weeks. Months, really. I thought you were just, you know, getting old."
"Oh, thanks," he says sarcastically.
Phoenix shakes his head. "But it's more than that. You haven't been in the mood for anything. You've been saying the bizarrest things and watching TV all the time and acting snappy and now you can't even play chess. It's scaring me."
And when he puts it that way, it scares him, too. "I-I don't know what's going on," he whispers.
The other man holds him close. "Well, Miles, I love you, and I don't want anything to happen to you. So… I think it's time we go to the hospital."
Edgeworth closes his eyes and nods.
He finds himself in a whirlwind of activity.
Sometimes people ask him questions about himself. It's painful because a few of those questions are about his parents. And he can't answer those.
Sometimes different people ask him questions about random things he doesn't really care about. Once they ask him to draw a clock. He doesn't see the point in it, but he does it anyway because he's scared they might plot to hurt him otherwise.
Sometimes he is stuck into a long cylinder, where he can see nothing but white and hear nothing but some sort of terrible pounding sound. He hates this part the most—the cramped space is almost more than he can bear. But Phoenix is there for him when he comes out.
When everything is done, they give him some pills. Phoenix reassures him that they won't kill him, and so he swallows.
Then he sleeps.
His eyes open, and he realizes he's in a hospital room.
He glances around. Phoenix is to his left, looking anxious. "How are you feeling?" he asks, standing up as soon as he realizes the other is awake.
"I'm fine," he murmurs, moving himself into a sitting position. He can almost hear his bones creaking in protest. "Though… I don't have a very clear memory of what happened in the past few days."
The other man swallows heavily. "D-do you know why you came here in the first place?"
He frowns. The chess game comes to mind. "Yes."
"Well… you were tested. To see if anything was wrong with you. You remember, right? You had trouble speaking sometimes, your writing was getting really bad, you didn't feel like doing anything anymore, and I think there was some paranoia—"
"I remember, Phoenix. So tell me. What did they find?"
"You…" The blue eyes dart away; the rise and fall of his chest becomes more pronounced.
Edgeworth is suddenly terrified of his answer—but he has to know. "What did they find?" he repeats.
Phoenix looks back at him, and there is anguish clearly written on his face. "You have Alzheimer's, Miles."
His breath catches in his throat. Alzheimer's. "There's no cure for that," he says.
"No," the other whispers, and Edgeworth is struck by just how old he looks—Phoenix isn't young anymore, certainly, but now his face seems to have aged ten years. Determination, however, lights his features as he continues. "It'll be okay, though. You're on medication right now. That—that'll slow it down. And I'll take care of you. I won't leave. We'll get through this together, just like the way it's always been." He takes his hand. "I'll still love you. Forever." He purses his lips. "Cheesy, huh? But it's the truth."
"You were always a hopeless romantic."
Phoenix smiles, visibly relieved. "That's the Edgeworth I know," he says.
He can't help but wonder how long that will last.
They play chess. Edgeworth wins. The pills are working.
Maybe a miracle will happen.
"We're going on a walk," Phoenix announces.
"Why, are you looking to build up those impressive leg muscles of yours?"
"Yeah, that's right. It's my secret plan. In a few weeks I'm going to show you my hairy old-man calves and blow you away."
Edgeworth snorts into his drink, then hurriedly regains his composure. "As appealing as that sounds, I know that can't be it. What's the real reason?"
The other man looks affronted. "Wanting to impress you with my body isn't good enough?" After receiving a glare in return, he continues, looking considerably more serious. "I did some research. Walks are apparently helpful because they, um, 'improve communication and prevent wandering'. It doesn't hurt to try, does it?"
It all comes back to that. Though he does his best to deny it, his disease has become an integral part of his life—even when he tries to forget, it's always sitting there in the back of his mind. He fears that it'll drive him insane.
Well, of course it will, he thinks bitterly. That's one of the symptoms.
But Phoenix is only trying to help.
"No, it doesn't hurt," Edgeworth replies. "Let's do it."
Hand in hand, they step outside.
When it happens again, he knows the reason behind it, and the terror sets in.
Phoenix is playing the Moonlight Sonata on the piano, and though it's supposed to be a slow song, he is taking far too much time to hit each note.
"Christ, Phoenix," he says, smiling. "People had to listen to this for seven years?"
"Hush, you," the other replies, grinning in return. "My fingers aren't what they used to be. I was all over this piece when I was younger. You should have seen them crying as I played."
"I think they were crying for a different reason."
"You wound me, good sir." He scoots over on the bench. "But come here. We can make beautiful music together."
"Ah, yes, I expect my zero years of experience will make for a lovely contribution to your stellar skills." Nevertheless, he sits down next to him.
"Oh, I'll help you," Phoenix says with a smirk, taking hold of his hands.
"If that's the case, I suppose I'll become a key in no time."
The hands freeze. "W-what was that?"
"Key?" His breathing quickens. Oh, God, it's not the right word, is it.
It's a symptom, he knows, and it's presenting despite the pills. Which means the disease is progressing.
"S-someone who is very good at s-something," he stammers. "Key."
"Do you mean master?" Phoenix supplies helpfully, his hands beginning to gently massage Edgeworth's own. "Pro?"
He nods nervously. "Yes."
And he knows the miracle isn't going to happen.
As soon as Phoenix walks into the room, he gets up and kisses him hard on the mouth. "I love you," he breathes.
The other's face dissolves into a sloppy smile. "I love you too, Miles, but where on earth did that come from?"
Edgeworth pulls him into an embrace. "I realized I've barely said those words at all in the last twenty years."
"You didn't have to," Phoenix murmurs. "I knew already."
His hands tighten around the other's waist. "Still. You deserve to hear it more. And… and I want to say it. While I still can." To his surprise, he can feel tears welling up in his eyes. "I love you, Phoenix. So much. You've always been by my side. Even now, when—when the end is coming."
"Don't say that—"
"But it's the truth. We both know it. S-so until that end comes, I'm going to say it as much as possible. B-before I forget how." He presses his face into his shoulder. "I love you. I love you. I love you. No matter what happens later, just… just know. I'll love you."
"Me too," Phoenix whispers, and he thinks he can hear the other's voice catch.
They hold each other like they're never going to let go.