Standing still in the airport crowd, Miles is waiting, watching the arriving passengers come down the escalators in big crowds. He scans every group for something of Phoenix, the height, the earnest face, the hair, those warm eyes. Any minute, any group. He should be here any minute. The next one.
Miles is so intent on finding him that when he does appear, it’s a pleasant shock. He’s in the middle of the crowd around him, unassuming, watching where he’s going further down the escalator and then lifting his head to look around. But he stands out so vividly to Miles that the image of him seems to overtake the people around him, fading them out as if a spotlight were on him.
But when Phoenix finally sees him, it hits Miles in the chest. It’s no spotlight.
Phoenix immediately beams, and hustles politely past the people in front of him to walk, then run a little straight to Miles.
“Hi there!” He grins, and sets his briefcase down on the tile to free himself up for a hug. The warmth of his bright smile must be what makes Miles flush. To hide it, but not too hastily, he hugs Phoenix.
After a few moments, but not too eagerly, Phoenix lets go. “I’m so glad to finally be here! I’ve been looking forward to this for months.”
“So you kept telling me,” he says wryly.
Phoenix laughs, a sound which lifts Miles’ spirits. “Yeah, I know! But I meant it every time. And after all the background reading I did, and the planning-” he turns from grabbing his briefcase to flash a smile, “-we’re finally here!”
Miles flushes again, but this time, doesn’t look away as Phoenix straightens up.
“I’m glad you’re here.”
After whisking Phoenix through town and to the hotel for some recuperation, Miles waits to meet him in the lobby so they may walk to the introductory conference at the institute together. He tries to watch the lavish, busy street outside, but Miles’ attention keeps being pulled to the unremarkable, if mathematically graceful, arching hallway exit. His eyes brush over the fine art on the lobby walls, lingering on interesting details for seconds before checking the hallway entrance again.
Phoenix appears, and when he sees Miles, gives an excited grin.
“What is it?” Miles asks as he comes closer.
“Huh? What do you mean?” Phoenix is fairly bouncing in place.
“Ah, it’s noth-” Miles reconsiders his white lie. Something seems wrong about telling it, more than usual. Like it’s not needed, not for the two of them, superfluous. Unnecessary. “Are you possibly so excited about going to the conference?”
Phoenix nods, for which Miles gently shakes his head and smiles. Chatting about the city, they walk side-by-side to the campus, then to the meeting.
When the time comes for everyone around the table to introduce themselves and Phoenix is saying his name, Miles feels a brief bolt of shame as he speaks. Phoenix Wright has argued some incredible cases, it’s true, but he simply doesn’t have the same kind of CV as anyone else here. He’s not the same as them, he’s a trial attorney, not in line for a judgeship or sitting as any kind of jurisprudence scholar, what if they look down on him, why did I–
A smile ripples across the room, made with a light that he recognizes. Miles glances to his right, where Phoenix still has the sheepish smile that originated it.
“So, next is the person who invited me along,” he is saying, and he’s looking at Miles with that light but Miles keeps an iron grip on his gaze, fastening it to an innocuous spot on the table until the moment has passed. Perhaps an observant person could notice his private feat of willpower, but that prospect is less embarrassing than what could have happened if he had simply looked up.
The afternoon passes in collegiate cooperation, the group members breaking into focus areas to share experiences and research. Phoenix and Miles stay at each other’s’ side, collaborating in recounting shared experiences, or hearing the as-of-yet unaired perspective of the other with which they find themselves agreeing with for every inch, feeling it in their gut. The session ends with a satisfied determination, knowing the road of inquiry ahead, and the group leaves the conference room behind for the cool, soft dusk outside. Miles and Phoenix head for a leisurely dinner before the reception at a nearby restaurant, talking easily over the people and the session itself.
There is no one else who engages Miles quite like he does. Intellectually, yes, but also encouraging him to reach deeper and unearth the shining nameless parts of his character even in such a simple interaction. It has always been like this when they’re together. But now, this time, Miles thinks he can already feel the future coming, sitting there across from him. He just doesn’t know what’s going to happen. He just needs to feel sure.
At the hotel, Phoenix departs with a wave and a smile to go change, and some remote part of Miles feels the sensation of stage lights going down in preparation for the next act. He turns away with a heady feeling.
Miles, in his finest black tuxedo, enters the ballroom at 21:00, searching.
His eyes, shining bright and capturing the lights of the ballroom, are so familiar.
He stands there among the others, his humble charm and good nature making his (admittedly nice) midnight-blue tuxedo look like a million bucks. The jacket sits snug on his shoulders, complimenting his silhouette just so as he gestures and speaks. The group gathers around him, jovial, laughing as he tells some story or another, and then laughing along with him.
He’s only met them this morning. It’s probably the badge-stealing monkey story, Miles reasons, staying at the edge of the room. He knows that one’s a winner in any crowd.
In the friendly company, Phoenix is pure sunshine. The group takes a moment to unwind its scattered giggles remaining, and in the glow, Phoenix looks up, across the room, into his eyes. He smiles.
Like it always is with him, all Phoenix needed was a moment of his time. That was all it took for Miles to see the reality he’s in become clearer, sharper, for Phoenix to show him the truth of his world. For his understanding to turn on a dime.
Phoenix looks to Miles.
Phoenix is shining.
It took that moment for Miles to understand that he couldn’t live a life without that light. Without him.
When Miles joins the group around Phoenix he returns their greetings, warm and brief. But neither he nor Phoenix look away from each other for long. Miles slips unobtrusively to Phoenix’s side once it becomes clear to the group that Phoenix is diverted.
“I have something to tell you,” Miles manages to say. Willingly, Phoenix follows. Miles leads him out, to the plush hotel hallway outside and down it a ways until the sound of the reception has faded somewhat and they are alone so only Phoenix can hear the possibly ridiculous thing he is about to say.
The realization Miles tells him brings Phoenix first a smile pulled by many emotions, then a radiant grin, then quiet, honest tears which refract his light. But there is no need for them, and Miles tells him as much. Phoenix splutters a laugh, causing his light to burst into shards that dazzle. Miles teases out his pocket square and, tentative, dries Phoenix’s cheek. Phoenix leans into his touch and the swell of affection in Miles’ heart causes him to draw him in to an embrace more solid than the morning’s. Phoenix hugs him close.
“Miles,” he murmurs after some time, into his shoulder. “Miles.”
They separate but don’t dare let go, and Miles won’t look away from Phoenix’s light.
“I don’t want to live a life without you, either.”
Miles gently takes Phoenix’s other hand, and squeezes it softly.
Phoenix illuminates the world, the people, around him. The sensation is so familiar to Miles now that it may be no small wonder he couldn’t separate it from Phoenix’s constant, loyal presence in his life. Not until he was able to show Miles the truth of the matter between them, shining his light on it for him to see.