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Consequences

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Miles doesn’t wake Phoenix up the next morning before he leaves.

They talked about it, with the hazy logic of an excess of pleasure and insufficient sleep, agreed that it would be easiest to make the separation quick rather than drawing it out. Phoenix still half-expected to come up to consciousness as Miles left, but either he’s more tired or Miles is less loud than he expected, because it’s his phone ringing that jars him awake.

He knows who it is, doesn’t have to check the caller ID before he picks up. “Hey.”

“Did I wake you?” Miles sounds curious more than apologetic.

“Yeah.” Phoenix pushes up onto an elbow, considers the sheets pulled back into some semblance of order on the other side. “I can’t believe I slept through you making the bed.”

“You didn’t even move.” There’s the sound of a laugh under Miles’s voice, audible even past the hum of almost-static and the exhaustion lacing his words.

“You sound tired,” Phoenix observes, belated guilt seeping in to fill the absence of Miles’s presence. “Sorry I kept you up so late.”

“I’m not.” It’s only a few words, quick and clean of any extraneous emotion, but they burn into Phoenix’s blood and make him smile before he means to.

“I miss you,” he blurts, speaking with as much speed as his expression swept over his face.

“I’m not even out of the city,” Miles points out. “You’ve barely had time to realize I was gone.” There’s a pause. Phoenix slides sideways over the bed, rumpling Miles’s work out-of-order so he can fall across the other pillow, convince himself that it carries some lingering sense of the other. Then Miles takes a breath, says “I miss you too,” and Phoenix smiles.

“When can you come back?” he asks, even though he knows the answer, remembers this drowsy conversation too. He really just wants to keep Miles talking so he can shut his eyes and let the almost-company wash over him.

“I told you,” and that’s chiding but only just, more affectionate and amused than Miles has any right to sound. “Probably in a month or so. I left everything a mess when I left.”

“You did show up really fast,” Phoenix agrees. “I’m still surprised you managed it.”

“Yes, well. You fell off a bridge, Phoenix, I was somewhat concerned.”

“I was fine,” Phoenix declares. There is a pause, silence stretching thick over the line. “I’m glad you came.”

“Me too.” Miles is speaking softly again, like the affection in the words has to be kept soft and inaudible to his surroundings. “It was worth the flight.”

“It’s a long way.” Phoenix doesn’t intend the words to sound as plaintive as they do; he clears his throat, tries for a subject change as a distraction. “Isn’t it uncomfortable wearing that suit all that time?”

“It’s not the most pleasant thing,” Miles admits. There is another moment of hesitation, a cough. “Incidentally you are missing a change of clothes.”

It takes Phoenix a moment to process this. “You took my clothes with you?”

“Just jeans and a t-shirt,” Miles caveats, but Phoenix is already laughing, amused and delighted in equal parts.

“Good,” he manages after a moment. “That’s fine, good, I’m glad.” He takes a breath, giggles for a moment longer before he can control himself. “You’ll have something to remind you of me.”

“I’m hardly likely to forget about you,” Miles points out rather sharply. Phoenix can hear him take a breath, can imagine him tipping his head back and shutting his eyes as he attempts to compose himself. When he speaks again it’s carefully, every word framed with deliberation. “I doubt I’ll stop thinking of you the entire flight.”

Phoenix’s breath sticks in his throat. He has to cough to clear the knot of near-tears before he can speak clearly. “Have you always been this sentimental, Miles?”

“Always,” Miles says distantly. “This may be the first time I’ve said anything aloud, however.”

“You must be half-asleep already,” Phoenix says, smiling to push back the tight burn of loneliness in his chest.

“Probably.” Miles takes an inhale. It sounds like goodbye even before he says, “You should go back to sleep, Phoenix.”

“You too,” Phoenix suggests. “Before your flight.”

“I’ll try.” Phoenix can hear Miles’s smile under the words, the weird softness lingering under the tone. There’s a hesitation, uncertainty hanging in the air, and then: “I miss you, Phoenix.”

Phoenix shuts his eyes, and smiles, and when he speaks there are tears under the words. “I miss you too, Miles.”

“I’ll call you when I land.” Soft, that, gentle with warmth. “Sleep well.”

“I will.”

Phoenix draws the phone away, hangs up quickly before he can talk himself out of it. His throat is tight, and when he blinks his cheeks go damp with tears, but he can’t stop smiling, either. He slides over to the other side of the bed, shuts his eyes with his fingers still curled around his phone, and when he sleeps his dreams are warm.