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all these years

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"All these years," Phoenix says. "And you decide to break my heart now?"

It's a question that gets an odd look from their server, who is, unfortunately, passing by their table at the exact moment Phoenix says this. It also gets an odd look from the couple at the table next to theirs. Miles pointedly glares at a spot just to the right of one of their heads until they decide to do the polite thing and look away, hurriedly striking up a conversation about something Miles ignores for the far more interesting subject of the man sitting in front of him, and his incorrigible flair for the dramatic. "Phoenix."

"Yeah?"

"I am hardly 'breaking your heart'."

"Sure you are." Phoenix leans one elbow on the cream-colored tablecloth, resting his chin on one hand and looking up at Miles with eyes so wide and pleading they could convince almost anyone of his earnestness. If that almost anyone was not familiar with Phoenix Wright and his tendency to play dirty when it didn't count, that is. "Or, you will be. If you don't let me have this."

Miles sighs. "Wright —"

"Ooh, the 'Wright' treatment."

"—Sending out wedding announcements for a wedding we are not inviting anyone to —"

"Objection. We're inviting some people."

Miles glares at him. "Yes. But not those whom you want to send this announcement out to."

"I mean, I wouldn't mind," Phoenix replies. "Not that any of them would want it, but still."

"I do not believe anyone whom you plan on sending the wedding announcement out to will welcome its reception."

Phoenix leans back in his chair. "It's not about what they want. It's about what I want."

"Which is?" Miles asks in a voice as dry as the chianti he takes a sip of immediately after.

"To brag." Phoenix shrugs, as if this should be obvious. "Actually, I was thinking about sending them out after the wedding. Sending them after would crush any attempts to crash the reception, for a start."

Miles stares into his wine glass. The liquid, and the distorted image of himself reflected on the surface of it, sadly does not hold any answers as to his fiancé’s inscrutable thought processes. Not that they are usually transparent — even when they seem to be, at first consideration — but this is a new height of opacity, and one that deserves a long pause and a long draft of the beverage he is currently staring into. "To...brag."

"Yeah, well." Phoenix looks away, towards the other diners sitting in candlelight, their conversations blending into a comfortable low buzz of voices from which the occasional word or burst of laughter leaps out. He toys with the chain at his waistcoat pocket, his posture and expression belying the gravity of this seemingly frivolous request even as his tone remains light. "A lot of people wrote me off, for a long time."

"Indeed," Miles says, when he does not continue. "And you wish to...notify them?"

"That's part of it. I mean, I never even told most people I was working on the Jurist System. I figured if I was going to tell them about something, it might as well be this."

Miles considers this reference carefully. "I assume you would not mention the Jurist System if you had neglected to inform them for the obvious reasons of cautionary discretion."

"There was that, but…" Phoenix's smile fades at the eyes, though not at the mouth. The effect is at once disconcerting and too-familiar, and when he sees it Miles suddenly wishes they were having this conversation in a more private venue. At least the couple beside them seem now too deeply engaged in whatever they are discussing to pay them any of the same attention they had earlier. "I didn't think a lot of them would — I thought most people would think it was a Hail Mary. Some sort of pathetic attempt to get my badge back, somehow. If they did understand what I was trying to do, I doubt they would have believed I could do it. A lot of people wrote me off after the Gramarye trial. A few people sent sympathy emails, but...that's about it. They probably just assumed I was a lost cause."

"They would be foolish," Miles says, as quietly as possible while retaining the iron of his underlying conviction. "To underestimate you."

The Phoenix of a year ago would most likely not have been able to keep eye contact while Miles had made this sort of statement. Then again, Miles thinks, the him of a year ago would have found something like this difficult, if not impossible to say. If he had managed to say it, it would have been said while staring at the floor, or over Phoenix's shoulder.

The Phoenix of now lifts his eyes to Miles' and holds his gaze steady for a moment, before dropping them again, his smile still twisted, but the lines which harden at the corners of his eyes softening slightly. Perhaps a year from now they will soften more. Perhaps a year from now they will be gone completely. That Miles will know — will be around to know, barring any unfortunate unforeseen occasions — is still somehow a fact which tightens his throat and flutters beneath his sternum, even after countless times confronting and being confronted with it. Amusing to think of his younger self's disdain for emotions, given their power.

"Thanks," Phoenix says quietly. He looks down, smile still twisted at the corners. "Can't really blame them, though. Sometimes I didn't even believe me."

"I did," Miles says. It is a simple statement. A true one, one Miles follows with another action he could not imagine himself initiating a year ago — reaching across the table to take Phoenix's hand where it plucks, restlessly, at the tablecloth.

Phoenix looks up, the set of his jaw relaxing a little before his face splits into a grin once again. A real grin this time, if slightly less exuberant than before. "Guess you're a fool too, then."

"I do not deny it." The corner of Miles' mouth twitches upwards as Phoenix laughs at this. "Though I must admit that I find it hard to admit foolishness in a case which I was ultimately proven right on."

"Ultimately." Phoenix turns his palm up, running his thumb over the back of Miles' hand. "Hindsight is twenty-twenty."

"Hindsight has nothing to do with my belief."

"It has something to do with you being a fool, though."

"Indeed. Hence why I stated that I did not deny it. Only that I was right, and that said foolishness could only be considered as such from those whose unwarranted skepticism was ultimately proven wrong."

"Ultimately," Phoenix says. The light of the candle flickers in his dark eyes. There is a reason, Miles thinks, that candlelight is utilized in so many restaurants and bars. It bathes Phoenix's face in warm, wavery light, casting a shadow that enhances the already-enigmatic mood he is clearly in. Two years ago, Miles had often wondered how Phoenix won so many games of poker, when he is so easy to read. A year ago Miles had realized that when Phoenix wanted to be read, he would be, and when he didn't, no human alive could decipher what he was thinking. Half a year ago, Miles had started to understand that there were small cracks in that facade. It was only that very few people knew or cared enough to look for them.

"There's that word again," Phoenix says. He passes his thumb once more over Miles' knuckles before withdrawing his hand, staring into the distance. "'Ultimately'. But it was never guaranteed."

"No." Miles takes another sip of his wine. "It was your efforts which brought the truth to light."

"Barely." Phoenix sighs, and leans back in his chair. "Sometimes I think about everything that could have gone wrong. Everything that could have proven all those skeptics right."

Miles frowns. "Even if things had gone wrong, they would hardly have been proven right in their skepticism."

Phoenix raises his eyebrows, and, after a pause, his wine glass. "Huh. What makes you say that?"

"I assume," Miles begins, rather stiffly. He tugs at his collar and gathers his thoughts before continuing. "I assume their skepticism was rooted in a lack of faith in your ability to reform the system, rather than the system's resistance to reform."

Phoenix snorts into his glass. "Yeah. I'm sure that was part of it. But I got the feeling it had less to do with that than, you know. The other factors. Basically — me."

"In any case. Regardless of their reasoning, and regardless of whether your effort ultimately proved successful or not, they were proven wrong."

"Oh yeah?"

Miles adjusts his glasses. "You were continuously working on the Jurist legislation and the development of the MASON system for the majority of the seven years you were disbarred."

Phoenix frowns. "Right, but —"

"Therefore," Miles continues over him. "Their skepticism in your ability to follow through — if that is indeed what it was regarding — was unwarranted. Even if your efforts had proven fruitless, they themselves were proof of your commitment."

"Effort doesn't mean a lot, though, if it doesn't end up amounting to anything."

Miles glares at him. Phoenix studies the contents of his wine glass, carefully avoiding his gaze. "I mean, that's what most people would say."

"And since when have you cared about the opinion of the majority?"

"Since I started thinking that's how cases should be judged." Phoenix grins, though his eyes still flicks away from Miles' a moment after they meet. "Hey. I have a point, and you know it."

"Indeed." Miles taps one finger on the table cloth. "That logic, however, is hardly applicable to this particular situation."

"Isn't it?" Now Phoenix does meet his gaze, and fully. There's a spark of some uncertain emotion in his eyes, but it's faint — flickering weakly behind years scarred over with weariness, with efforts building to something so far in the future that it’s coming to pass had seemed more like a fantasy than the imperfect reality it had come to be. Had been made to be, and with great effort by the man sitting in front of him.

"No," Miles says. "It is not. Not in this case."

Phoenix looks at him for a moment longer before he sighs, setting down his glass. "Alright. I guess I'll take your word for it."

"That would be wise, as I am correct."

"Hmm." Phoenix strokes his chin thoughtfully. "You know, I think you might be a little biased."

Miles scoffs. "I have always been successful in identifying my own subjectivity and accounting for it when forming opinions."

"Full of it," Phoenix says wonderingly. "You’re so full of it. You know, I almost thought you actually believed that for a second."

"I do."

"Yeah right. Unless…" Phoenix throws a mock-wounded look at him. "You're saying you can be totally subjective when it comes to me?"

"I said that I am successful in identifying my own subjectivity, and accounting for it," Miles corrects, savoring the last sip of his wine before he continues. "That is an essential step in constructing any argument. I did not, however, say that I was entirely successful in negating the effects of said subjectivity. Nor did I say it was not...unsubstantial."

"That's what we should put on the wedding announcements." Phoenix drains his own glass and lifts it as if he's starting a toast. "Miles Edgeworth and Phoenix Wright would like to cordially inform you that they have been married. Mr. Edgeworth states that his feelings for Mr. Wright are 'not unsubstantial'."

Miles scoffs. "And your own quote?"

"Hmm." Phoenix sets his glass back down on the table. “Maybe something a little more subtle. How about, uh — ‘Holy shit, I'm getting married to Miles Fucking Edgeworth, and here's a picture of my overpriced ring to prove it’?”

“I would much prefer,” Miles says stiffly, “To not imply that I am just another status symbol which you have gained in spite of the expectations of a few.”

“Who said anything about a status symbol?”

“It would be implied.”

“Huh.” Phoenix grins. “Guess it would be.”

Miles raises his eyebrows. “I assume that is not the only reason for our upcoming marriage.”

“You know,” Phoenix says, lowering his gaze in a manner that Miles would call coy, if he were anyone else and the man sitting across from him was anyone other than Phoenix Wright. “If you want me to say something sweet to you, you can just ask.”

“I was not asking.”

“It was implied.”

“Hmph.” Miles looks away. “I simply wished to ensure that status had nothing to do with how you viewed the upcoming change in our relationship.”

Phoenix laughs. “You don’t really think that’s important to me, do you?”

“It is all you have talked about for the past fifteen or so minutes.” Miles adjusts his cuff as he speaks, purposefully not looking up as he does so. “So, naturally…”

“Yeah, but…” Phoenix catches his eye when Miles looks up at his hesitation. All traces — or at least, the obvious ones — of any previous levity are gone, replaced by feeling of a magnitude so profound that it leaves no room for anything other than its warmth. “Miles.”

“Yes?”

“That — none of what we've been talking about, actually — has anything to do with why I’m marrying you.”

Miles sighs, unfolding his arms. “Yes. I know that. I simply wished to — confirm.”

“Consider it confirmed, then.” Phoenix toys with a stray dessert fork before reaching out to take Miles’ hand once again, lifting it up and kissing it before Miles has time to resist. Miles shoots him a scandalized look, but doesn’t pull away until Phoenix lowers it once more, which he only does after an unnecessarily long pause.

Miles clears his throat. “Mm. Well. I will consider it as such.”

“Uh-huh.” Phoenix looks down. “I was half-joking about the whole thing, you know. About the announcements.”

“I assumed you were not entirely in earnest.”

“Yeah, but I wasn't totally joking. I do want to brag.”

“For the purpose of proving those who underestimated you wrong, I assume.”

“That’s what I thought,” Phoenix says. “But — once I actually thought about it —“

Miles raises his eyebrows. “You did not think it through before bringing it up?”

“I mean, I did.” Miles glares at him. “Argh — fine. Not a lot.” Phoenix grimaces. “Okay, so not at all. I mean, I had thought about it, but not about why.”

“I see.”

“And I figured that it was pretty obvious why. Or that’s what I thought, until I actually had to explain it.”

“Mm.” Miles looks across the table to see Phoenix staring at him with a typically soppy grin. Miles stiffens, all too aware of what will come next. “And? I assume you have come to some sort of conclusion.”

“I was getting there.”

“Glacially.”

“You,” Phoenix says, unspeakably enamored, “are such a dick sometimes.”

Miles huffs. “I assume insulting me is not part of your reasoning."

“I was getting to that.”

“Were you?”

“Will you shut up?” Phoenix shakes his head. “Miles —“

“Yes?”

“What I’ve been trying to say is that I want to send out wedding announcements because I’m really, really excited to be marrying you. And I want to brag about it. Not specifically to people I know, not to people who thought I was going to wither into obscurity after I got disbarred or whatever, but — to everyone. The whole world. And this was the best way I could think of.”

“I see.” Miles digests this in silence. “The best way you could think of to announce your pride to be marrying me was to...send out post-wedding wedding announcements?”

Phoenix groans, burying his head in his hands. “You know what? Never mind.”

“Never mind what?”

“Never mind the announcements. Actually,” Phoenix raises his head and jabs a finger at him. “Never mind the wedding.”

“Very funny, Phoenix.”

“I’m not joking,” Phoenix has a slight air of manic energy about him, the same energy he gets when he’s about to break a case open. To see it in court, for any other prosecutor, is to know true fear. To Miles, it usually means preparing for a frustrating, irritatingly nonsensical, and ultimately rewarding trial. For him to see it now, outside of the courtroom, is both perplexing and slightly concerning. “What if we eloped?”

Miles frowns. “And why would we do that?”

“We could skip the thing we’ve planned, for starters.”

“It is small to begin with.”

“Still bigger than I wanted it to be,” Phoenix mutters. “Bigger than you wanted it to be, too.”

Miles sighs. “That is true. However there were practical considerations, and complex social norms that needed to be acknowledged, if not entirely followed, when making plans.”

“Which is why your secretary was invited.”

“She was, after all, the one who delivered the congratulatory gifts once they started arriving. A result, I might add, of your employees' inability to keep quiet on the topic —“

“Hey, you try keeping giant secrets from a girl with a necklace that shouts out people’s emotions. Athena had to bury Widget in a closet somewhere to get it to stop screaming ‘happy’ every ten seconds, and then when she was done with that, she had questions. Obviously.”

“Be that as it may," Miles says impatiently. "I could not in good conscience snub the woman who both delivered the congratulatory gifts for this engagement and has handled all of my administrative work with uniform competence for the past two years.”

“Great,” Phoenix says. “Because that’s who you want at your wedding. Someone who’s really good at filing.”

“My point is, it would have been rude not to invite her.”

“And my point is, that if we elope, we don’t have to worry about all that.”

“We would need a witness,” Miles points out.

Phoenix stares at him. “Wait. You’re actually considering it?”

Miles looks away. “...You have made some valid points.”

“I always do,” Phoenix says, sounding almost dazed. “But still — are you sure?”

“No. I am still considering.”

“Okay.” Phoenix leans back in his chair. “Wow. Okay. So —“

"Phoenix." Miles looks at him, studying his expression for any sort of clue as to hidden doubts or intent. "Is that what you want? Truly?"

Phoenix hesitates. "...I do. I mean, I think — we should probably sleep on it —"

"I think that would be wise."

"— But I do." With that final assertion, Phoenix's face brightens into an expression Miles has very much come to know over the past year and still does not think he will be able to reconcile with its obvious meaning and its direction towards him, an earnest, lovestruck grin which should be unappealing on a man of Phoenix Wright's age and stature and which is somehow the opposite.

Were Phoenix to learn of its power over him, Miles thinks he would truly be ruined — though he is likely just deluding himself of Phoenix's ignorance on the subject.

"Miles."

Miles blinks. "Yes?"

"I want to marry you," Phoenix says, as simply as if he is stating the facts of a case. "I don't really care how. Or when — although actually, as soon as possible would be better — but I do. And I want everyone to know how much I do. If you want to elope, I'm fine with that. I'm fine with not eloping, too. I just…"

He trails off, looking a little sheepish. Miles smoothes out the corners of his napkin. "...Mm. Well. I — concur."

"You're such a nerd," Phoenix says, and when Miles looks up it is to the same smile as before, this time made worse by the fact that Phoenix is leaning forwards, his elbows on the table and his eyes undeniably fond. "Concur. I can't believe I'm marrying you."

"No," Miles says quietly. "I sometimes find it quite difficult to believe myself."

Phoenix's mouth opens, though he does not seem to have a reply at the ready. Miles looks at him for a moment longer before he turns, scanning the floor for their waiter, and, once she has noticed him, signaling for the check.

Phoenix's expression and posture has not changed by the time Miles turns back. But even a stranger could not mistake the change of intention in his eyes, the way he catches Miles' hand once more and does not let go, skin warm against his palm and gaze more heated but no less steady as it also catches his own.

"Sometimes," Phoenix says, in a low voice. "I think it's unfair."

"What is?"

"You can say stuff like that," Phoenix's foot nudges his under the table. To say Miles resists the urge to roll his eyes would not be strictly accurate. Though he finds such semi-public displays of affection embarrassingly juvenile, he can not help feeling that, at this moment, breaking eye contact would be a difficult venture. "And it sounds like you're saying something way...way more."

"Such as?" Miles murmurs.

It is at this exact moment that their server chooses to approach them with the check. Phoenix flashes a grin at Miles' scowl, but his eyes do not grow any less dark, or less intent on his, and he does not let go of Miles' hand when he attempts to pull it back.

Their server lays the check down on the tablecloth and walks quickly away, looking slightly embarrassed. Only when Miles looks pointedly at it does Phoenix let go of him. "...I don't know. Just — more."

"Eloquent," Miles says dryly, taking his wallet from the pocket of his suit jacket and sliding his card into the holder. The server whisks it off their table a moment later, doing her best to pretend she doesn't exist as she does so.

Phoenix grimaces. "You know what I mean."

"I believe I do."

"Right. So —"

"Yes," Miles says, suddenly sure of what he had been still uncertain of up to now, even with all of Phoenix's attempts at persuasion.

Phoenix's brow creases. "...Yes?"

"Yes. I believe that an elopement would be — preferable, to our current plans."

Phoenix grins, still a little uncertainly. "Are you sure?"

"Would I have agreed if I were not?"

"No, but —" Phoenix ducks his head. "Wow. Okay. I guess part of me just thought I'd need an actual audience to get you to the altar."

"As if I have would have been swayed by such a thing," Miles replies, with all the haughtiness such an assumption requires.

"Yeah, but —"

"And in any case, I have no need for such external compunctions."

"No second thoughts?" Phoenix asks. "Cold feet?"

A foot nudges his own under the table again, far more hesitant this time. Miles huffs. "No."

This does not seem to reassure Phoenix completely, though he tries to hide this fact. Miles sighs. "Phoenix."

"Uh-huh?"

"I have had over a decade to formulate my opinion of both your character and your judgment. During that time, I have been wrong many times. I have been uncertain of my own judgment many more times." Miles pauses. "I am certain of this."

"Okay," Phoenix says. He swallows, picking up the dessert fork once more, only to stare at it uncomprehendingly. "I — okay. Okay. So. What — what do we need to do?"

Miles frowns. "I assume you had a destination in mind?"

"Not really." Phoenix grins sheepishly. "I hadn't thought it out that far."

"That much was obvious."

"Uh-huh." The fork twirls in his fingers, first one way, and then the other. "Vegas?"

Miles scoffs. "No."

"Yeah, I didn't think so."

"Mm." Miles thinks for a moment. "...I suppose there are very few options realistically available to us, especially given the limitations of my schedule."

Phoenix groans. "Right. That."

"Yes, 'that'. You may have a mentee whom you trust to take care of the office while you are gone, but —"

"Right, yeah. You can't just up and leave." Phoenix thinks for a moment. "Wait — we don't need to leave, do we?"

"I thought leaving was implied."

"Well, normally, but —" Phoenix grins suddenly, the spark in his eyes letting Miles know he has landed on an idea. "Why don't we just get married here? In Los Angeles?"

Miles glares at him. "Wright, after all —"

"I mean," Phoenix says, setting down the fork. "At the courthouse. Tomorrow, with no one around but the clerk. Trucy can be our witness, and then we can still have the reception like we planned it. That way we don't have to disappoint anyone, but it won't — you know. It'll just be a party."

Miles considers this for a long moment. "Does it not seem unnecessary to go through the trouble of having a courthouse ceremony when we already have one planned?"

Phoenix shrugs. "Maybe. But I think that's kind of the point. To do it quietly, away from the planned event."

"Hmph." The idea, while somewhat silly when viewed objectively, is nonetheless appealing. "Very well. I will be in court tomorrow morning to observe one of Prosecutor Gavin's cases. I believe the time period allotted for lunch should be sufficient?"

"Works for me." Phoenix is practically beaming as he leans forward, reaching again for Miles' hand. "So...tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow," Miles says, unable to hide his answering smile, much smaller than Phoenix's but no less true.

Phoenix shakes his head. "I can't believe I'm getting married to you at the courthouse on my lunch break. Well, your lunch break, but — still."

"It was your idea," Miles points out. "If you wish to revert to the original plan —"

"Are you kidding? This is better. This is way, way better. Why didn't we think of this before?"

Their server returns with their check, delaying any answer until she has thanked them, laid the check down, and departed to check on another table, all while making unerring eye contact with the space above their heads.

"I don't believe we ever really had the chance. We were, after all, inundated with requests and questions about event plans as soon as the news of our engagement leaked out," Miles belatedly replies, signing the receipt with his usual flourish. He tips thirty percent — less for the quality of service than for the fact that he is fairly certain he had seen their server approach at an earlier point in the conversation, only to do an abrupt about-face as soon as she had come within earshot. "I do not believe we could have avoided holding some sort of reception, even if we had announced an elopement rather than an engagement."

"Yeah, you're right. We would have been forced to celebrate either way."

"Hmph." Miles closes the checkbook. Phoenix stands, and Miles follows his lead a moment later, nodding at their server's somewhat-relieved sounding farewell as they exit the restaurant and emerge into the warm Los Angeles night, still somehow reminiscent of twilight despite the sun having set over an hour ago.

They walk for a few minutes in comfortable silence, along sidewalks mostly empty of passers-by other than themselves. The city is not particularly designed for pedestrians, but Miles had chosen a neighborhood uncommonly hospitable to them when he had moved back from Europe. The restaurant had been chosen mostly for its proximity — only a little less than a mile from his apartment, and on a pleasant summer night like this, the walk is hardly an inconvenience. Especially when it is made with a companion, and particularly when it is undertaken with Phoenix Wright.

"I suppose," Miles says, once they have passed beyond the harsh light of the main street and onto a more residential road. "That the request for wedding announcements no longer stands?"

"Well." Phoenix tilts his head in a manner that always reminds Miles of Trucy, though he is not actually certain if the mannerism is one Phoenix had picked up from his daughter or if it had actually been a reverse transferal. "I still think it would be kind of funny, but...I guess I'll have the whole wedding party to brag about marrying you."

"Indeed you will." Miles frowns. "Though I believe you would have had the same opportunity regardless of whether we were married a week before the reception, or immediately before it."

"Yeah, but…" Phoenix slows his pace, his hands in his pockets as he walks. "I don't know. I wasn't really thinking about the reception. I was thinking about…"

"The ceremony."

"Right," Phoenix says softly. "The ceremony. That, uh — that part."

"Mm." Miles considers this. "I admit I personally had not thought about the reception beyond the potential inconvenience it may have posed."

Phoenix laughs. "You mean the utter chaos that's going to come from putting our friends and family in a room together with an open bar? Yeah, I think that's reasonable."

Miles grimaces. "I still find it hard to believe I was convinced of the necessity of that particular feature."

"I don't." Phoenix glances at him. "Kay is pretty formidable when she wants to be, but when she gets Trucy on her side…"

"Terrifying," Miles mutters.

"It's great that they're good kids. If they decided to get into crime, they'd be unstoppable."

"I have no doubt that they could drive even the least incompetent of the detectives to their wit's ends, if they chose."

"Uh-huh," Phoenix says, coming to a stop at the crosswalk despite the lack of cars waiting for the light to turn.

It's quiet, away from the main roads; the noise of the city dampened by homes and scrubby trees planted in neat rows along the yards, shielding lucent yellow squares of windows and the occupants revealed by them from prying eyes. Phoenix glances over at him, and then back at the crosswalk sign.

The light turns. They cross the street, their pace slowing to a stroll by mutual, unspoken agreement.

"I wasn't sure," Phoenix starts. He stops, and they walk on in silence for another long moment before he continues. "I was — I am sure. About marrying you. I just wasn't really looking forward to doing it in front of everyone."

Miles nods. "You have likely already presumed that the — pressure of a public ceremony was not something I was particularly eager to face."

"Yeah, I figured." Phoenix slows even more, stopping entirely when they reach a patch of sidewalk between two streetlights, enveloped in shadow. He looks up, gaze finding the moon, half-full and glowing dull ivory in the night sky. "I guess that's what I meant with the announcements. I want to brag — but after. The idea of getting married in front of everyone never really felt right."

"Mm." Miles falls silent, content to stand in the warm shadows, at least for the moment. Phoenix looks at him, the corner of his mouth twitching up before he tugs on Miles' shirt sleeve and pulls him closer, kissing him slow and unhurried, the same way Phoenix likes to kiss him on Friday evenings when they have the long stretch of the weekend before them and nothing planned for later that night other than dinner and perhaps a movie to be viewed from their couch.

In the past, Miles had hated Friday evenings, cold and empty as they had been once. They had existed as nothing but a cruel reminder: another week behind him, and nothing accomplished. Before that, they had been an inconvenience, time to be dedicated to work that had not been completed satisfactorily and time to review the work of the past week, scrutinizing it for mistakes or weaknesses to be corrected.

Now Miles looks forward to those times. Now he no longer thinks of the weekend as merely a stumbling block. There are many diverse reasons why, but Miles cannot deny that one of the primary reasons the weeks and the years ahead are now somewhat easier to face is the fact that at the end of them will be Phoenix, kissing him like this. Like they have all the time in the world.

Phoenix breaks away, tangling their fingers together. The collar of his suit jacket is folded up; Miles reaches over and adjusts it, carefully smoothing the fabric so it lies flat.

"Let's get going," Phoenix says. He grins. "We've got a court date tomorrow."

Miles nods. "Indeed."

"Don't want to be late," Phoenix says softly. His hand is very warm. Miles squeezes it, once, and does not let go, even as they begin again to walk towards home.