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"We're back!" Phoenix called as he opened the door, hanging his jacket on the coat rack. Trucy and Pearl sped into the room, giggling, and jumped onto the couch. The two groaned in unison as their full stomachs reacted to the quick movements, and they laughed some more.

"Those burgers were so good!" Trucy exclaimed, presumably to Athena and Apollo, who were leaning against opposite ends of the counter, awkwardly. Clay had gone to the restroom. "You wouldn't belie--Miles!" Just as quickly as she had jumped onto the couch, she leapt off and rushed toward the prosecutor, throwing her arms desperately around him.

"Ack! Trucy, hello," Miles responded, trying to ensure his tea didn't spill on him or the folders. He set the cup down and returned the hug. "Are you prepared for your show this weekend?"

Trucy let go of the prosecutor and nodded, placing her hands proudly on her hips. "I've been practicing that trick that the bird guy taught me! Uhhh, what was his name again?"

"Simon," Miles responded. He pretended not to see Athena turn red and look away. He also pretended not to see Widget turn dark blue. "He was very pleased with how quick of a study you are. Perhaps sometime you can show him a few tricks as well."

"I'd love that! Could I, Daddy?"

Phoenix laughed and rubbed the back of his head. "I don't see why not," he responded. He was a little more obvious about noticing Athena's sudden desire to stare at her shoes. He furrowed his brow and looked at Apollo for some kind of explanation, but the defense attorney also seemed to be avoiding his gaze. Apollo, at least, seemed to be more uncomfortable with Miles than anything. Turning to his friend, he asked, "So, what's up?"

Miles coughed and stood up, grabbing the manilla folders he had brought with him. "I have a few cases I would like to discuss with you."

"Ah, yes, let's go talk about that, then." The two walked into Phoenix's office, pulling the door shut behind them as Miles handed him one of the folders.

"What's wrong, Thena?" Pearl asked, walking into the kitchen area. Clay walked out of the bathroom, rubbing his hands on his pants to dry them further.

"Uh, boy problems I guess." Athena sighed and looked at the ceiling. Widget started to say something, but she quickly wrapped her hand around it, muffling the noise. She was getting pretty good at predicting when he would say something embarrassing.

"She likes Simon," Clay said matter-of-factly as he walked over to Apollo. Athena shot him a glare and Widget flashed red. "They aren't going to tell anyone, don't worry about it." He smiled warmly, and Athena relented.

"Oh! The bird guy was really nice," Trucy said. Pearl nodded in agreement. "I think you two would be cute together. He's all dark and broody and stuff, but still nice, and you're friendly and bubbly!"

Apollo coughed, trying to hold back laughter. Clay patted him on the back a few times, as if trying to force something out of him. Athena glared at the two of them, but said nothing.

"Have you told him yet?" Trucy asked in that tone only teenage girls can, tugging on Athena's jacket sleeve.

"Eh, no..."

"Well why not?" Pearl asked, walking over to the other side of Athena. "I think he likes you!"

"I said the same thing!" Clay said excitedly, causing Apollo to sigh and put his head in his hand. Clay instinctively moved to smooth his hair back into place.

Athena retold the events of last night, and the girls paid eager attention, grabbing her wrist and examining the bracelet in great detail.

"Oooh, it is pretty!" Pearl said, and Trucy agreed. "A guy isn't going to get a girl jewelry unless he likes her."

"Wait a second," Apollo interjected. "I got Trucy a necklace last Christmas, so that's not true."

Trucy shook her head. "That's different, Apollo. We're practically brother and sister. Besides, you're dating Clay."

"Totally different," Pearl agreed. The two girls pulled Athena over to the couch and sat on either side of her as they discussed what Athena should do next, leaving Clay and Apollo to stare blankly ahead.

"I don't get it," Apollo said.

Clay laughed and patted him on the back. "One day, when you're old enough, I'll explain it to you."

Apollo couldn't help but laugh and playfully hit Clay. "Oh, quit it already!"

Inside the main office, Miles and Phoenix sat in comfortable chairs, discussing some upcoming cases. One in particular had piqued Phoenix's interest.

"So this man was smothered in his sleep, and they think it's his wife that did it. She's saying she's innocent."

Miles nodded.

"What do you think?"

"I think it's questionable. If I'm honest, it could go either way. This is why I'd like you to be on the case." Miles shrugged. "I wouldn't be surprised if this ended up being a really odd situation."

The defense attorney nodded. "I'll have my team look into it."

Miles stood. "Speaking of your team, I'm surprised you allow for intra-office relationships."

Phoenix frowned at Miles. "Huh?"

The prosecutor raised an eyebrow and glanced toward the door. "Relationships between members of the same office."

"Right, I get that. Who are you talking about?" Surely he doesn't mean Apollo and Athena. That's the only pair that would make sense...

"When I walked into the agency earlier, Apollo was clutching Athena's hand. I thought..."

Phoenix forced a laugh. "Oh! Ha... uh, no, I don't think they're together."

Miles laughed and shook his head. "If you say so." He turned and walked to the door.

"I'll look into it, don't worry. But I don't think there's anything to worry about." He opened the door for Miles and the two walked out into the kitchen. Phoenix saw Miles to the front door and waved goodbye as he closed the door. Once he had definitely left, Phoenix turned to the group. "So. Miles seems to be under the impression I need to keep an eye on my  ship, lest other types of ship set sail."

"...What?" Apollo scratched his head.

"It's an internet thing," Clay responded. "What ship does he think is setting sail?"

"Apparently he walked in on someone holding hands?" His eyes darted between Apollo and Athena.

Athena jumped up from the couch and moved toward Phoenix. "It wasn't like that!" 

"So... you were holding hands. I don't care personally, I just figured... Clay... might mind." Certainly it was too early to suggest he thought a certain samurai prosecutor would also mind, very much so in fact. 

"I was showing him the bracelet Simon got me," Athena insisted, shoving her wrist into Phoenix's face. Trucy and Pearl got up from the couch and stood on either side of Phoenix so they could get a better view of the action.

Gently, Phoenix wrapped his hand around hers and lowered it to chest level, then looked closely at the bracelet. So this is what was going on last night. I wonder if that's all that went on last night.

"And that's when Miles walked in," Apollo said casually, yawning.

Phoenix saw his hands wrapped around Athena's and let go quickly, turning pink. "I see."

Clay made his way over to the two defense attorneys and patted Phoenix on the back. "Aren't you going to ask her if she made out with Simon last night?" 

Widget turned a bright shade of red. "Clay! You know that's not what happened!"

Phoenix grinned. "What did happen after I left?"

Athena paused, and Widget turned yellow. "Wait... when did you leave?"

"I'm assuming I left when he started to give you that," Phoenix responded, pointing at the bracelet. "It looked like I wouldn't want to be there in a few minutes, so..."

Athena huffed in response, crossed her arms, and looked away. "Well nothing happened. He gave me the bracelet and we cleaned up and left."

"...But you wanted something to happen."

"AM I THAT OBVIOUS?" Athena yelled, throwing her hands into the air and turning around to plop on the couch, face first.

"Daddy, that was a little mean," Trucy said, patting Phoenix's arm.

Phoenix suppressed the urge to roll his eyes and walked over to the couch, moving Athena's legs to the side so he could sit down. Athena slid off the couch and sat on the floor, her elbow on the couch, propping up her head.

"I'm sorry," Phoenix said. "What happened?" He listened as Athena retold the night's events for what felt like the hundredth time. When she was done, Phoenix sighed. "I see."

"Daddy, what should Athena do?"

Phoenix laughed and rubbed the back of his head. "You're asking me?" A glare from Trucy told him that yes, she was indeed asking him, and he sighed, placing his hands on his lap. "I don't know Simon well enough to understand the situation fully, but I have noticed over the past couple of months that he began looking at you differently. The more I watched, the more I wondered if, well, perhaps there may be something there that wasn't there before."

"So you think he could like me?"

Phoenix nodded. "Apollo has a point too, though. I would see how Simon reacts to what happened last night, and go from there. Of course, I'm not exactly an expert when it comes to dating..."

"You're going on a date this weekend, though," Pearl objected.

Phoenix turned an uncharacteristic shade of red and looked down. "I don't know that... I'd call it that."

"Hmph. I would," Trucy responded, and the two girls walked over to the kitchen area.

After a few moments of silence and quizzical looks between Apollo, Athena, and Clay, Phoenix coughed. "Anyway, I don't know what to tell you about Simon, other than to be careful and not jump into anything. He just got out of prison not that long ago and still hasn't quite adjusted to outside life. Besides, he went in pretty young... I don't even know if he's had a girlfriend before. It might be a mixture of that and just general weirdness about seeing someone you consider a good friend in a different light and realizing that they might actually be returning those feelings." Phoenix shrugged. "I don't even know if you should listen to me," he laughed. "I suck with relationships."

Athena turned her head and stared at the couch seat. Though her friends were nothing but supportive, if not outright encouraging, she couldn't help but feel she was completely off. There was no way Simon could like her. She was totally misreading the situation, she was sure of it. Could I be losing my touch? And if I am, what use am I as a lawyer? The thought was too heavy to bear. "Can I take the day off?" Her words flew out, as if on impulse.

"Uh... sure. Our real work starts Monday anyway. That's what Edgeworth was here about. Apollo, you can go too if you want, after you clean the toilet." Apollo groaned. "I was just thinking there wasn't much left to do today, so yeah, go out and have some fun.."

Athena quietly stood and walked toward the door. "See you guys," she mumbled, and headed outside.

"She's... taking this pretty hard," Clay observed.

Phoenix sighed. "She'll figure it out." At least I hope so.

February 2017

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