Miles could not call himself an impatient man. He could wait for as long as it took, calm and composed. Being patient was as easy as breathing.
So why was he so desperate for time to pass? He paces back and forth, shoes clicking against the hard, white tile of the room. Miles glances at the bed and his heart aches even worse.
Phoenix lays there motionless, surrounded by flowers of all color and shape and hooked to machine after machine. It’s been a week, Miles realizes, exactly one week since Phoenix was hit by a fucking truck and was staring death in the face.
No, he was stabilized, Miles scolds himself for being so paranoid. He was rushed into surgery almost immediately. The doctors had tended to his wounds and told him he was safe, but Phoenix still wasn’t awake. Now he sat in the hospital seven days later, skin painted with bruises and scrapes, his left arm in a cast and a punctured lung and broken ribs, and he’s been sleeping ever since. He was healing, and he was also told that he would be healing for weeks, possibly months, due to how serious his injuries were.
Miles manages to tear his eyes off the man in the bed and looks out the window, exhausted after staying the night watching over him. He couldn’t sit back and wait for Phoenix to wake up months later. He missed him now; the bright shine in his eyes, his laugh, even as they stood on opposite sides of the court.
He would give anything to be the one in his place.
Miles grips Phoenix’s right hand before leaving the room without a second glance.
Eventually, two months creep by and the weather becomes chilly and cool, the leaves becoming different hues of orange and yellow as they fall to the ground; Miles has never felt so lonely and impatient in his life, and he notices that others are feeling the same. Maya and Pearl had been shell-shocked, and he remembers how Pearl sobbed into Maya’s sleeve when she heard the news, murmuring something inaudible in between anguished cries.
He sees Trucy every time he checks on Phoenix, and he begins to believe that she’s been practically living in the hospital. She’s become quieter and more emotional than she was, and it breaks Miles’s heart. Guilt overtakes him when he visits the man for the first time in a week; it wasn’t that long ago, but he wanted to be by his side everyday.
He’s been unfocused during every case, and he can’t pull himself together; some part of him doesn’t want to.
He doesn’t go home, though. Going home means walking into a silent home and seeing the pictures on the wall of Phoenix and him and their family. Everything that Miles took for granted; going home isn’t an option, it welcomes too much grief into such a happy place.
Christmas is a month away and Miles could only see Phoenix late after work and pray for some sort of miracle. He hears strangers still talk about the accident on the street, idly chatting about Phoenix, referring to him as ‘that guy’ and it strikes fury in Miles. He woke up every day afraid that Phoenix would never do the same, and people he’s never met are treating the topic as casually as they do when they discuss dinner plans for that night. He hates it.
Miles walks into the white room one especially cold winter day and makes eye contact with Apollo. “Justice,” He nods, voice low. Apollo returns it. The prosecutor stands next to Apollo in front of the bed, who was comforting Trucy. Moments of tension filled silence pass, and Trucy decides to stand up and leave the room, gesturing to Apollo. He obliges, but first turns to Miles and stammers.
“I-I, um. I can’t really say much, but I want you to know that grieving even now is normal,” He lowers his eyes to the floor, and Miles thinks he can see tears threatening to spill out of the younger man’s eyes,”When I lost someone dear to me, I didn’t have anyone to tell me that. Just… he’ll be back soon.” And with that, he’s gone.
Miles finally lets the tears out after so long, fists clenching the fabric of Phoenix’s hospital gown.
“You’ll be up soon, won’t you? Please say you’ll get up.”
“Come on, Christmas is only three weeks away. You have to get up.”
“Please, please, please, wake up.” No matter how hard he pleaded, the answer never came.
The man gets the call right before he’s due to walk into court, and his heart stops.
Caller ID: Phoenix
Immediately he picks up, and he jumps at the sounds of happy sobs and yells. The other line quiets down, enough to hear a scratchy, whispery voice go, “Miss me, Miles?”
He’s out the door instantly.
The prosecutor slams open the door, hunching over to catch his breath; when he stands straight and sees Phoenix sitting up wide eyed and happy and alive, he’s fueled to the brim with all new energy. Apollo moves to make room for Miles by his bed, and he rushes to embrace Phoenix.
He’s no longer cold, but warm and as alive as he was before.