Objections, Your Honor
Two lawyers are across the aisle in open court once more. But today something is off, and no one is happy with the result.
read on ao3
characters: mainly Logan & Janus; background Virgil, Patton, Roman, Remus, Remy, and Emile
pairings: soulmate Loceit; QPP Analogical; QPP Moceit; romantic soulmate Royality; romantic soulmate Dukexiety; romantic soulmate Remile
content tags: non-traditional soulmate AU; courtroom drama; arophobia and acephobia; shameless self-pandering with legal arguments about the MCU; gushing about QPPs; couples therapy
reader tags: @royally-anxious @jemthebookworm @arandompasserby @sparkly-rainbow-salt @astral-eclipse @thelowlysatsuma @adorably-angsty @max-is-tired @almostoveranalyzed @potestessemagishomosexualitatis @mariniacipher @vintage-squid
word count: 10,386
The day it happened was no normal day for Logan. But not, of course, because of that.
He cared because it was a trial day. Months of motions back and forth, weeks and weeks of preparation, and today was oral arguments. He normally avoided open court, particularly against such an opponent, but nothing could be done.
His case files were impeccably arranged in his padfolio, his grocery list of arguments annotated in precise writing, blue ink dotting the page with emphases and connections, his notepad prepared at his left.
He glanced to his right out of the corner of his eye at his opposing counsel. He didn't want them to see him looking. But he sneered internally at the haphazard stacks of papers spreading across the table and the garish gold ink that looped and curved across sticky notes.
The judge finally came out, and Logan stood, crisply buttoning his tailored jacket as he did so. At the signal, he identified himself clearly. "Logan Finch for the appellant, Your Honor."
And then, from his right: "Janus Alighieri for the appellee, Your Honor."
Logan rolled his eyes internally. Janus was, unfortunately, a very familiar foe at this point. But then, they were two of the most respected lawyers in their state, with opposing specialties and reputations for innovative tactics.
Logan was self-aware. He had another reputation, too: as a black-and-white thinker, unshakable, unalterable. He preferred to think of it as a particularly strong conviction. Versus "The Snake" against him, who coiled and twisted the facts of his cases to benefit his clients.
And of course, that was the issue today - Logan strove to show that his client had a straightforward, airtight argument that should clearly prevail, while Janus found miniscule details that he said should be enough to distinguish the case at hand and make it different from previous decisions, enough so to allow the case to be decided in his favor. He'd charmed the jury at trial, and now argued against Logan's appeal.
Logan prided himself on keeping a cool head, but listening to Janus' speech just got under his skin. His neat handwriting started to get messier and messier as he furiously scribbled notes of counterarguments and responses to his opponent's points. Then Janus turned slightly, just enough to see frustration's color burn in Logan's cheek, and he smirked.
Logan barely heard the gasp from the observers behind the bar, because he'd just snapped his pen in his grip.
He looked straight ahead, somewhere slightly to the left of the judge's head, but he saw very little, his furious thoughts too loud to allow any else to be processed. But the audience was murmuring and talking, far louder than any judge usually allowed - what was going on?
A clerk from behind him hurried up to the judge's dais and whispered urgently in her ear. Logan had yet to look around, but he was slowly coming back to himself, enough to be confused at this disruption in normal procedure. He refused to look over at Janus' probably-still-smirking face.
The judge cleared her throat. "Counselors, we will recess for the day. Please join me in my chambers now."
Logan frowned, but cleaned up the broken pen and gathered his file neatly back into his leather briefcase. He didn't look over, but he heard the flurry and crinkling of papers as Janus threw his notes into his own bag. Without glancing over, Logan followed the judge to the small office at the back of the courtroom.
"Mr. Finch, Mr. Alighieri. I do hope there's a good explanation for this breach in propriety, not to mention the code of conduct," she said sternly as they both stood before her heavy desk.
"Breach, Your Honor?" Janus asked. He sounded just as confused as Logan felt.
"As barred attorneys, you are expected to know the code as well as I," Judge Kasel said severely. "No soulmates may be involved in a trial together, except as co-counsel."
Logan's ears roared. "Your Honor, I apologize, I must have misheard. Soulmates? How is that relevant-"
"Mr. Finch, don't play dumb with me - the entire courtroom saw!"
"Saw what?" Janus asked. His voice was oddly distant and strained from its normal silky tones.
Judge Kasel stared at them in disbelief. "You mean to tell me you both managed to not see that? I'm quite certain the entire county saw the glow just now, through even the back of your suits!"
"Glow?" Logan asked. His chest was suddenly very, very empty, a vacuum of air or substance, and had he not been sitting he was sure he would have fainted.
"Yes, glow, both your marks on your shoulders. Given your mutual surprise, I will assume that this was indeed unknown, and will not declare this case a retroactive mistrial. But you will both need to send in replacements from your firms."
Janus spoke up, his voice tinny. "Replacements, Your Honor? I should think even in light of this- development, only one of us would need to withdraw-"
"Mr. Alighieri, while I appreciate your dedication, I will not delay this trial for the entirety of your bonding. I will give you both 3 days to propose counsel to take over, and scheduling will proceed with them."
Oh fuck. Bonding, Logan thought, unable to speak. That absolutely ridiculous expectation.
The clerk poked her head in. "If they need to speak privately, this side office is empty."
"Yes," Logan responded robotically. "Yes, I believe we need to speak."
They filed into the small room. The clerk closed the door behind her, whispering "Congratulations!" as she disappeared.
Janus sat in one of the chairs heavily. Logan remained standing, staring blankly at the bookshelves built into the wall.
"I can't believe this," Janus said finally. "We've known each other for years, how could we possibly be...?"
"Soulmarks frequently emit a barely visible glow from proximity alone, particularly when located on skin that is generally covered. Heightened emotion or situations with high levels of stress lead to brighter glows that were invisible or unnoticed previously," Logan recited dully.
"Oh yes, how could I forget, I'm talking to Encyclopedia Brown," Janus said, rolling his eyes. "Of course you've memorized that too." He unbuttoned his suit vest dexterously despite his trademark yellow gloves, slumping forward in his chair as he threw his vest over the arm carelessly.
"At least one of us actually has a factual basis for this event, rather than us both being in the dark," Logan snapped back.
"Yeah, your vast knowledge of facts really helped! Did your misguided quest to know everything somehow miss the detail of who's your fucking soulmate?" Janus said, nearly whisper-screaming.
Logan whirled to face him, a fiery reply already on his lips, when he suddenly saw a blue light showing through Janus' white shirt, bright enough to glint off the polished chair back and off the glass of the picture frames on the wall.
He closed his eyes, breathing out slowly. "Yes. That was a detail I had not learned. It felt trivial, unable to affect my work. But now that it has, we're better off resolving this."
Janus deflated too. "Yeah. We should. If we can just get through this part, at least we'll stop glowing like horny teenagers."
Logan focused on a tiny flag displayed on the desk as he spoke, not looking over. "I know of a very respectable landlord who rents bonding apartments in the city. Nothing overdone or kitschy, no 'honeymoon' suites, just furnished apartments for indefinite stays."
"Fine. Not like we can't afford it, whatever the price."
"I have some arrangements to make at home-" Logan began
"As do I, unless-"
Janus took a breath. "How would you feel about living with a snake?"
"I rather thought that was the entire idea," Logan replied coolly.
Janus shot him a withering glare. "I mean a python, you absolute cotton-headed ninnymuggin."
"Ah, my mistake," Logan said calmly. "That should be fine. A pet, I assume? Or your chosen co-counsel?"
"Let's get one thing straight, Finch," Janus said, rising to his full height, looking down at his infuriating opponent. "I don't like you. I don't expect or particularly want you to like me. We are going to be residing together up until, and only until, our illogical marks have decided in their weird cosmic energy to stop lighting up like neon signs whenever we experience strong emotion in each other's company. I fully expect to be pissed off the entire time, which will make figuring that out easier. But you do not get to speak to me that way, or I'll-"
Logan looked up to meet Janus' eyes. "Or you'll what, Alighieri?"
"I'll report you to the bar for breaking the code, and convince them you already knew," Janus replied smoothly. "And you of all people should know- I am very persuasive."
Logan's eyes narrowed, but he nodded. "Fine. And yes, you may bring your python. I'll be leaving my cat at home, however."
"Fine with me," Janus said curtly, deflating back into his normal slouch.
"I will send you the details of the landlord I mentioned. I can make the arrangements within the hour."
"How are you going to send me the details?"
Logan paused. Their only real contact over the years had been in person or by professional communications. He could hardly use a process server or subpoena to give Janus his key. "Ah. Right. Your contact information, then?" He pulled out his notepad.
Janus pulled out his gold pen and scribbled his phone number at an angle, entirely crossing the college-ruled lines. Logan cringed but took it.
"I will contact you shortly, then. And I will may sure to look for pet-friendly apartments."
Janus nodded. "Right."
They both paused.
"Uh. See you soon, then," Janus said, and left the room abruptly.
Janus had to hand it to him - the apartment was all Logan had promised. Clean, sleek, and spacious. The landlord had even left a spare heat lamp, so Janus' sweet Monty would be comfortable.
Best of all, there were several separate rooms in the suite - two bed, two bath, and two offices.
The kitchen was also well-furnished, and came stocked with staple foods. Logan had arrived, however, with extra bags of groceries.
"I brought my own additions," he said. "The landlord is a friend, but he doesn't buy from the shops I prefer."
He proceeded to pull out several large jars of kimchi, what looked like at least a gallon of soy sauce, and various bright packages that Janus couldn't read.
Janus resolved to take pictures and look up what these things were later. Not while Logan was standing here, glaring up and over as if daring him to comment.
"I've picked the smaller bedroom," Janus informed the shorter man calmly. "Monty is set up in there, so if you're weird about snakes, just avoid it. Actually, feel free to avoid it anyway. I've got a brief to write."
Logan made a noncommittal sound in response.
Hours later, Janus emerged from his office to eat something. His brief was finished, sent off to his senior partner. He hadn’t yet told the firm about the day’s events- only that the appeal would need to be handled by another partner with his associates’ help, he needed to take emergency leave, and he would let them know soon how long he expected to be unavailable. H
e found evidence in the kitchen that Logan had prepared, eaten, and cleaned up dinner for himself. That was fine by him. He made his own food, grabbed a bag of candy, and retreated back to his room.
The next morning, he woke up at his normal late time, stretching in the sun. The kitchen once again showed evidence of Logan's presence- particularly the currently-soaking coffee pot.
When the sun started to descend once more and Janus had yet to see his new roommate, he grumbled. Guess he'd have to be the fucking practical one.
He blew Monty a kiss for good luck and stumped down to the rooms Logan had claimed. He rapped on the door. "Finch. We need to talk."
He waited. There was silence, then a slow drag of a chair. The doors cracked open.
"Yes? What about?"
"No. We need to talk. Or, fuck, I don't know. Be in the same room occasionally."
Logan sighed deeply, and opened the door more. "Fine."
Janus went to the living room and sat on one side of the couch. Logan followed him and settled on the chair facing him.
"So." Janus began.
"So what," Logan replied flatly.
"Sew buttons," Janus replied automatically.
"Just something one of my friends says," Janus muttered.
"Ah. So what was it you want to discuss?"
"I don't know!" Janus snapped. "But I'd really like to get back to my life, eventually, and that can only happen if we bond." His lip curled.
Logan sighed heavily. "And how, exactly, do you propose we do that?”
Janus fell silent. He had very few ideas. Pop culture made it very clear that bonding was an extremely romantic event. First kisses. Proposals. Or, in the less sappy movies, it seemed to consist purely of falling into bed together. None of which appealed in the least, particularly not with Logan.
Logan stared expectantly. "Nothing? You just pulled me out with no ideas?"
"If you're the fucking brilliant one, you come up with one then!" Janus spat out the suggestion with a glare, but then he saw it - a soft gold glow shining through Logan's tee, reflected in the tasteful mirror behind him.
They both deflated again, glows reducing down to hidden beneath their clothes.
Logan adjusted his glasses. "I. Ah. Apologize. I realize you are attempting to resolve this issue."
"But you're right. I have no idea how to," Janus admitted.
Logan took off his glasses to rub his eyes. "Unfortunately, neither do I. Perhaps just coexisting will be enough."
"How long will that take, though?"
"I haven't the foggiest."
They lapsed into silence.
Finally, Janus suggested, "Maybe we can do our work in the same room. Set up in the dining room with all our stuff. Coexist but in proximity."
Logan glanced over. "That seems relatively painless. Let us make an attempt, then."
Logan had not had any particular expectations for how well they could share a work space.
And yet, it was still far worse than he'd expected.
Janus talked to himself. As he read, as he wrote, as he researched. Not loud, but a constant stream of soft muttering, disjointed words and full sentences.
It was the most distracting thing Logan had ever been suffered to experience.
"Will you please be quiet," he said tightly, after an hour passed with no signs of letup.
"What do you mean?" Janus asked.
"That infernal whispering, please, could you stop?"
Janus looked at him quizzically.
"You're talking under your breath," Logan said. He felt a headache coming on.
"Oh, am I?" Janus asked. "Sorry. I'll be quiet."
It lasted all of half an hour, and then the muttering started again. "SCOTUS said yes but that was a city sidewalk, 2nd says no but that was Lincoln Center, hm, decoration, use, separation, intent?"
"You're doing it again!"
Janus looked slightly guilty. "It's barely conscious, it's how I process things. Could you just wear headphones?"
"I need silence."
"Fine. Do you own a pair?"
But the headphones didn't help. The sensation was too odd, of being closed-in, and he kept bumping then as he went to lean against his hand. Finally, Logan stood. "I'm going back to my office. This experiment has failed."
Janus' eyes narrowed. "Well, thanks for deigning to sit in my presence for a full three hours before giving up."
"I'm not giving up, this is just not tenable!" Logan insisted.
"Well, you asked for ideas, and I came up with one. If it's not working for you, you come up with a better one. Come find me when you're done thinking, I know it could take you a while."
He stood and grabbed an apartment key, and stalked out to walk off his frustration.
As he walked, he called his best friend.
"Hey Pat, it's me."
"Jan! Hi buddy, how are you?!"
He sighed heavily. "I want to go home."
"But you only just got there?"
"Yeah, and it's going shi- I mean, badly. Really badly."
"I'm sure you'll work it out," Patton said confidently. "You're a brilliant and wonderful human, and anyone smart enough to argue against you will be able to see that!"
"Thanks, hun," Janus said. "The fact remains that I also don't like him."
Patton hummed tunelessly. "It doesn't have to be instant, Jan. These things usually take time."
"Unlike you and Ro."
"Well, yes, but that's because we were meant to be!" Patton soft, his voice taking on that soft, besotted tone it always did when he talked about his soulmate.
"Isn't the whole point that all soulmates are meant to be?"
"Well, yes..." Patton faltered. "But it doesn't have to look like us, we're just hopeless romantics!"
"I know. How's wedding planning going?"
"We started watching movies for inspiration and got distracted with a Disney marathon," Patton said fondly.
"But you had fun?"
"Good," Janus said, meaning it. There were very few people, in his opinion, who deserved happiness the way Patton did.
He was quiet for a moment, then asked, "Pat- what if it was a mistake? What if we just have defective marks or something?"
"I'm sure that's not true!" Patton insisted.
"It just seems like - I mean, we're not even friends. Most people get to start from strangers at worst, but we've been antagonizing each other for years, what if, I don't know. Neither of us had a soulmate and so they glitched out?"
"You just need to find some common ground," Patton said confidently. "You can't both be so passionate about being lawyers without something more in common. I believe in you, buddy!"
Janus sighed. "Thanks, Pat. Say hi to Roman for me, tell him Monty misses him."
"Will do, nephew! Call any time you need, okay?"
"Love you, Pat."
"Love you tooooo!"
Janus realized he'd circled the block and was back at the apartment entrance. He steeled himself, then went back up. He repressed the petty urge to bang open the door to disturb Logan's quiet as much as possible.
Logan wasn't in the common spaces, but emerged not long after Janus returned.
"I feel I must apologize," he began. "It wasn't my intent to denigrate how you work. It is just clear that sharing a workspace is not going to be preferable for either of us."
"Yes, I'm aware I had a bad idea," Janus said, overly patient. "Kind of an odd apology, but I accept. Can I have lunch now?"
"Yes, of course. May I join you?" Logan asked.
Janus raised a distrusting brow.
"The idea of spending time in the same space was a good one. I thought we might try a context in which we don't need to focus."
They prepared food around each other, both managing to bite their tongues when they needed the same counter space or cooking implements, which Janus was proud of himself for. They ate in silence.
Janus heard Logan sigh in exasperation and braced himself for yet another snippy comment. Instead, he heard an unexpected question.
"Do you enjoy superheroes?"
"To eat? No, they upset my stomach," Janus replied drily.
"I mean to watch. Superhero movies and shows."
"Occasionally, yeah, why?"
"Perhaps we could watch one this evening. At the same time."
And they parted to continue working on their own.
Logan had been correct that, as far as superhero movies went, the MCU was a safe choice.
In retrospect, though, perhaps Civil War had been... less so.
It had started when Steve first objected to the Sokovia Accord plan- and Logan had scoffed.
Quick as a cat’s pounce, or an adder’s strike, Janus’ head whipped around.
Logan glanced over briefly, screen light blinking off his glasses. “Well, of course. Didn’t New York and Sokovia show that some control is needed? Lawlessness leads to more civilian casualties.”
“And yet, if supers are controlled so much that risk of liability keeps them from acting at all, casualties would be just a tad higher, don’t you think?”
Tony and Steve’s voices raised on the screen as Logan replied, “What would the difference be of the villains and heroes if they all act with complete impunity?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, did we lose mens rea when we switched over into Marvel-land?” Janus asked, voice clipped. “Isn’t the entire basis of our modern penal system based on culpability, not just the act or harm done?”
Logan looked down his nose. “Of course culpability matters. But you well know that one of the factors for absolute liability is when an act is inherently and extremely dangerous. Say, for instance, displays of superhuman force in a densely populated area.”
“So you don’t think there can be any space for personal judgment on the heroes’ behalf?” Janus asked incredulously.
“Look what that space did already! Does the name Ultron ring a bell?”
“So of course, the one who made a terrible call is the one who now wants to be restricted? That sounds like asking for the global government to save him from himself instead of taking responsibility.”
“Better that those with actual accountability be the ones bearing the responsibility!”
“Oh, yeah, and we can definitely trust this government’s judgment! A Hydra infestation was all part of the plan!” Janus’ voice was raising, far louder than the movie that still flickered on, ignored.
“There still needs to be rule of law! Steve wants to abandon it all for one person, and a war criminal at that-!”
“And that’s incomprehensible?”
Janus fixed his supposed soulmate with a glare. “And you mean to tell me that there’s no one, no one, that you would be willing to burn the world down for?”
Logan opened his mouth to respond, but Janus continued quickly before he could. “No one who won’t fight for themselves, because they think they’re not worth it, but you know they’re so worth it that you would be willing to kill for them?”
Logan, about to spit out an impulsive reply, paused, momentarily speechless. As clearly as if they were sitting on the edge of the couch next to him, his best friend from childhood filled his mind. Virgil, who never believed their worth no matter how many times Logan and their soulmate Remus told them so.
Janus saw the pause and continued softly. “I’m not saying rule of law isn’t important. But the trouble with laws is they’re only as tailored as legislators make them. And they’re human, and therefore fallible. We need exceptions, for those situations that they didn’t imagine.”
Logan struggled for moment, then replied, just as quietly, “You’re right.”
Janus’ mouth fell open in shock, but just as he did, the tv’s faint blue glow throughout the room was washed over with two beacons in blue and gold, blazing from their backs.
At the sight, Logan’s face went from contemplative and open to stony. He stood abruptly and stalked off into his room. The door closed behind him with a decisive click, and Janus was left staring at the wood in confusion and anger.
“I just don’t get it!” Janus whisper-screamed into the phone. He was power walking through a nearby park, moving so fast he’d passed a skateboarder and a particularly leisurely biker. “Does he want to keep on glowing forever? What is his problem?!”
Patton made sympathetic noises in response, quite familiar with the sound of Janus in full rant mode. Roman was lying with his head in his lap, listening on speaker, so Patton was settled in to be as receptive to his friend’s complaints as he needed.
“I mean, we finally agreed on something, besides the fact that we want to get this fucking resolved, and then he just, what, shuts me out? Literally and figuratively? I literally can’t even catch him leaving to the kitchen for food now!”
Patton winced. “Not since? But it’s been two days!”
“Two and a half, yeah,” Janus replied. His voice suddenly sounded weary. “I can’t keep doing this. The trial’s going on without us anyway, I might as well just give it up and make sure I never have to argue against him again.”
At that, Roman sat bolt upright. “Janus, my dear esquire! You cannot abandon your quest! This is your soulmate!”
“Yeah, well. Maybe some soulmarks are broken. Or we just met at the wrong time. Maybe if we’d met in law school we would have been a team, but now it’s too late.”
Janus sounded contemptuous, but Patton could hear a distinct note of regret.
“Maybe...” he started, but trailed off, thinking.
“Maybe what, Pat?”
“Well, it’s just that I’ve heard of soulmates who, you know, take an abnormally long time to bond, or manage to un-bond after years together, but they can fix it. Do you remember my old roommate?”
Janus wrinkled his nose. “Patton, are you suggesting couple’s therapy? I’m fairly certain that only applies to couples.”
“Well, you’ve kinda been forced to be one, right? At least to figure out bonding? They could probably help, or at least let you know if it’s not worth the effort.”
Janus sighed. “No, you’re right, it’s a good idea. I just have no idea how I’ll get Finch to go along with it.”
“Might I make a suggestion?” Roman asked politely.
“Perhaps try calling him ‘Logan.’”
Janus rolled his eyes. “Worth a shot, I guess. Love you both.”
“Love you Jan!”
“Best of luck with the love of your soul!”
Back in the apartment, Logan was pacing in precise squares in his bedroom. He half-expected the rug to be worn down by the repeated impact at this point.
“L, I don’t know what to tell you, buddy,” the gravely voice on the phone said. “You really have only two options here: find a way to avoid him forever, which will probably involve having to turn down cases you’d like-“
“I bet he’d stay on them just to force me off,” Logan interrupted, growling.
“That is a possibility,” Virgil replied, their voice overly patient. “The other option, though, is to work this out,” they continued.
“Lo, that doesn’t mean you’ve gotta turn into a Hallmark movie! But it’s clear this isn’t just going away, and it’s not like you’ve got nothing in common.”
Logan groaned. “Virge, I don’t-“
“I know, man. I know. But you can’t just hide in your room until he just decides to move out, which means you’re gonna have to talk to him at some point.”
Logan didn’t reply, just continued pacing.
“You know I’m right, Lo,” Virgil said patiently. “You don’t have to say it, just promise me you’re not going to keep being a hermit, okay?”
Logan sighed. “I promise.”
“There we go. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
About to hang up, Logan heard a voice in the background and Virgil asked him to wait. Then, “Reme wants to say hi.”
Logan let out an exasperated sigh, but he was smiling. “Fine, I’ll allow it-“
“Loooogggyyyyy! How’s the soulmate boning going? Have you figured out that you’re a power bottom yet?”
“Hello, Remus. I take it you’re well.”
“Let’s just say I’m glad you’re my brother-in-law because I may have some need for a lawyer soon.”
Logan couldn’t conceal the grin from his voice as he replied, “As I know you know, I am not a defense attorney, nor would I ever be so unwise as to take you as a client.”
“Aww, you’re such a smart cookie! And by cookie I mean a snack, because mmmm-MMMm you’re a snacc!”
“Always glad to know I’m appreciated,” Logan replied drily. “Goodbye, Virgil. Goodbye, Remus.”
“See ya, L.”
When Janus returned, he was a bit taken aback to see Logan sitting in an armchair, reading. At the sound of the door, he looked up.
“Ah, Alighieri. I- I wanted to apologize for my behavior.”
Janus paused. It was a good sign, but still so unexpected as to be unsettling.
Logan cleared his throat. “I shouldn’t have left you in a lurch. You did not cause this situation anymore than did I, and you have not been unkind. I have a suggestion for how we might move forward.”
Janus winced internally, thinking of another disastrous attempt at a movie or workspace. “I actually had a thought on that as well, but um. What was yours?”
Logan cleared his throat again. “Well, since we have been... brought into this situation together, but as a pair are struggling to adjust, it seems logical to consult with an expert, much as we would in our work. Therefore, we should consult a professional on personal relationships.”
“Oh, thank god,” muttered Janus. “Yeah, I was gonna suggest a couples counselor too. I think that would make sense. And I actually have a personal reference to a very experienced therapist.”
That settled, they found the earliest possible appointment, only two days later.
“I do need to warn you-“ Janus said as they walked up to the office. It was their first time out of the apartment together, and it had been a very quiet walk over. “The methods of this therapist are- unorthodox. But they are highly acclaimed in their field.”
“Oh, are they an enby?” Logan asked.
“Yes and no,” Janus replied. “You see, there’s two of them.”
“Yeah, they’re a couple therapist that is also a couple.”
“I don’t- well- I mean, that’s odd, right?”
Janus grinned. “Yeah, odd is a common word to describe them. But they’re highly praised and like I said, they were recommended personally.”
“Right,” Logan said, squaring his shoulders. “An open mind is helpful for effective therapy, after all.”
“That’s the spirit! I think,” Janus replied, holding the door open.
A gothy receptionist showed them to a private room with a comfortably large couch. Logan looked around in trepidation and slight alarm at the decorations. There were countless Funko-Pops, posters, stuffed animals, and an alarmingly high number of travel mugs from what looked like every single cartoon that had ever existed.
Janus was slightly more prepared then Logan, but he still jumped out of his skin by the sudden singing coming around the door. A deep voice was booming, “Duhhh duh-duh-duh-duh-da-DUH!” in a building crescendo that went on and on, until both lawyers were staring in a mixture of confusion and irritation.
Then a tall, lanky man slid in the door and lowered his glasses to wink at them both. “Hey babes. Welcome to therapy.”
The singer followed him through the door, their bright pink hair a sharp contrast to their warm brown skin. “And thank you as always for the intro, honey!”
They smiled, big and toothy. “Welcome indeed! I’m Dr. Emile Picani, pronouns they/them, and this tall drink of coffee is my partner, Dr. Remy Picani, pronouns he/him! And you are Janus and Logan, correct?”
Logan looked a bit stunned still, so Janus took the lead. “Yes, I’m Janus Alighieri and this is Logan Finch, pronouns he/him for both. And I was referred by Patton Corwan-Augustus.”
Emile smiled even bigger, if that were possible. “Oh Patty! Best roommate ever, I still miss his brownies. It’s lovely to meet you both!”
“Best roommate? What am I, chopped liver?” Remy asked, hand pressed to his chest.
“Best friend, best coffee-maker, best of men and best of husbands,” Emile replied, and said husband immediately blushed.
Logan coughed politely. “Have you been married long?”
Remy smiled, still pink around the edges. “We’ve actually been married almost 10 years. The minute we graduated university, actually, when we knew our parents had not a shred left of financial control. We went through our PhDs together, which is why, of course, we’re qualified to help out other couples, because let me tell you, would not recommend.”
“Which brings us, of course, to you two!” Emile said brightly. “What is your goal in coming to therapy?”
Janus and Logan both began speaking at once.
“Well, it started in court-“
“It was completely unexpected, we’ve known each other for years-“
“-dreadfully embarrassing, not to mention the professional ramifications-“
“-it just feels like something’s missing-“
“-really want to just sort this out-“
“-just want to figure out the disconnect-“
“-and we can forget about the whole thing.”
“-want to make this work.”
They looked at each other, shocked, as their words both sank in.
Emile was tapping their Powerpuff Girls pencil topper steadily against their lips, eyes wide behind their pink-framed glasses.
Remy, at their side, leaned back and took a long, loud slurp of his iced coffee, rattling the ice around until the room’s attention was on him. Then he looked up and said, “Hoooo-wheee.”
“So I’m getting a lot of differing goals here,” Emile said delicately. “Let’s start with you, Janus. Can you expand, please?”
Janus tried to speak, but felt like his voice had dropped into the cold pit that was suddenly his stomach. “I, um,” he started with a shaky breath. He barely noticed when Remy pushed a cup of ice water into his hand, but a sip steadied him somewhat.
“You can look just at me, if that helps,” Emile said softly. “Or at my buddy Kaa here.” They gestured to the stuffed snake on the shelf behind them.
He looked like a fuzzy little Monty. That would do.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Janus said, acknowledging the water from Remy. “So. We’ve been rival lawyers for years, because we’re both the best at what we do. It was shocking, to suddenly be glowing in open court, but I thought we just needed to find common ground that’s not arguing. That’s why I’m here, at least.”
“And Logan?” Emile asked, still in that kind voice. Logan wouldn’t meet their eyes, though, or anyone’s.
“I thought- we both seemed so upset by the news. Or at least, I was, and perceived you to be as well.” He didn’t look up as he addressed Janus, but his eyes shifted over and took root on Janus’ polished loafers. “My plan was to spend whatever time was needed to stop glowing, then get back to our respective lives.”
“Do either of you have a question you’d like to ask of one another?” Remy asked. “It can be as large or small scale as you’d like, serious or frivolous.”
Both men looked up at the lanky therapist, who’d actually removed his dark glasses, revealing slightly foggy-looking irises. “Logan, it looks like you have one.”
“Oh- yes. So, Alighieri- I mean, Janus. To be clear- you were not upset by the news?”
Janus took a breath. “I mean, I was shocked, and upset to be removed in the middle of a case. But not about the soulmate thing, specifically. And I have a question too?” He looked to the therapists, who both nodded.
Janus looked over, and saw the Logan was watching him in his periphery. “When you say you were upset about the news- was it about the soulmate thing, or about me as your soulmate?”
Logan actually sat up, looking shocked. “Oh, goodness gracious. Absolutely about the concept of ‘soulmate’ in general, not personal in any way. Did I-?”
“Well, yeah, a bit,” Janus said.
“I am- I am so sorry. I would have absolutely have been equally upset, no matter who I found to be an accidental soulmate.”
Janus felt his stomach unclench just a bit.
“Logan, what about soulmates in general upsets you?” Emile asked.
Logan’s mouth pressed into a thin line, and he stayed silent for a moment, then two. Finally, he said curtly, “I never asked for one. And no one asked if I wanted one, either.”
“No one asked if I wanted to be trans, and yet here I am,” Emile said with a cheeky grin. “We don’t always get a say over the circumstances of our birth.”
“But Emmy, you’ve found self-acceptance and happiness deriving from coming out,” Remy put in. “Logan, were you content with life before this reveal?”
“So there was no sense of dysphoria prior, or absence of a euphoria that was gained since.”
Again, Logan nodded.
“Couldn’t-“ Janus began. His throat felt a bit stuck. “Couldn’t there be something to be gained, though?”
Logan picked up a small figurine of Dexter from the table next to the couch, and fiddled with it in his lap as he spoke. “It’s not impossible, there could certainly be gains from a better acquaintance with you. But that’s not what a soulmate is supposed to be, is it? They’re supposed to complete you,” he said, his voice dripping in disdain. “Because you were incomplete before. Because you weren’t enough, alone, you were just waiting for the One. And of course, you can’t be trusted to find them yourself, some cosmic force determines it for you.”
Remy rested his hand in his hand, elbow propped on his knee. “Spill it, sis.”
Logan stared in confusion.
Remy smiled. “It means, approximately, ‘continue, you’ve got something good to say’. I’m getting a lot here- but a lot of the frustration seems to be with the idea that forces you can’t control are messing with your life, is that fair?”
Logan shifted. “Well, yeah, but that makes me sound like a control freak.”
“Not at all,” Janus interrupted. “Of course you don’t want something incomprehensible to make decisions for you. That’s not controlling, that’s perfectly understandable and human!”
Logan managed a small smile in response.
Emile beamed. “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”
“But I am def gonna poke some holes in your thought bubble,” Remy said cheerfully. “Starting with this: what do you mean when you say a soulmate is intended to be The One?”
Logan stared in disbelief. “Come on. Really? Look at, I don’t know, any piece of media ever. Or at you two. Or at my- friend and his husband. Or any other pair of soulmates!”
Janus added, “I mean, that’s what’s intended, right? With the whole ‘marked from birth’ thing?”
Emile looked at them both very seriously. “Did you know that Remy isn’t The One for me?”
“But he’s your soulmate?” Janus gasped out.
Emile nodded gravely. “He is my soulmate. But he is not my only soulmate.”
“I was designated female at birth to very traditional parents. They wanted me to marry my soulmate at 18, like they had, and they assumed he’d be a man. But my other soulmate was a girl, and I loved her with all my heart. And when I realized I wasn’t a girl, I thought my parents might accept us more. I was wrong.” They took a breath. “We were separated. I don’t know what happened to her. But it was enough to know that my parents didn’t care about my happiness, soulmate or no.”
“I’m so sorry,” Logan said quietly, and Janus nodded, swallowing a lump in his throat.
“I was lucky, though,” they continued. “I found Remy only two years later. And he accepted me as I am, both my gender and my other soulmate. And the cartoons, of course.”
“I never got to meet her,” Remy said. “So we will never know if she was my soulmate, too. I choose to believe she wasn’t. I think she could have been Emile’s one and only, had they been able to stay together. And that doesn’t make me feel any less lucky to be Emile’s husband, nor any less loved by them.”
“And not to shock you even more, but not all soulmates are romantic,” Emile said. “I know that’s the media portrayal- but well, the media is also pretty straight. And cis. And white. And neurotypical. And-”
“What they’re getting at,” Remy interrupted, “is that common portrayals miss a lot of the variety and complexity of humanity as a whole, let alone the complexity of relationships.”
Logan was sitting very still, and not speaking. Janus was trying to wrap his mind around this, and spoke with uncharacteristic uncertainty as he asked, “So- for instance, um, you could have soulmates who are, uh, queerplatonic partners?”
Logan’s head snapped up, staring at Janus with wide eyes.
Remy grinned. “Yes, of course! I was worried I was going to have to do a vocab lesson, but you both seem to know what that is.”
“But-“ Janus began, brows furrowing.
“But that means-“ Logan muttered to himself.
“Why isn’t he my soulmate?” Janus asked, at the same time Logan asked, “Why aren’t they my soulmate?”
Lit by the twin glows reflecting against the wall, the therapist couple exchanged a pregnant look. Emile reached out and took a hand of each patient. “I know this is a lot to process, but I really want you to keep something in mind: a soulmate is not the only way we can love someone. It’s not the ‘best’ way or only valid way to love someone. The same way the platonic love you clearly both hold for a significant person in your life is no less valid than romantic.”
Remy sat up straight. “I want you both to think about this when you go home. Your love for your QPPs is wonderful, and worth cherishing. And I know you are both lawyers, so here’s a question for you to brief. We cannot know the actual intent of whatever force gave you marks that respond to each other. So I want to you look for what evidence there might be, in each other, for your connection.”
Emile added on, “You have a link, and it’s worth exploring. It doesn’t have to ever be more important, more meaningful than another connection you have. But understanding it is critical to bonding successfully.”
“I think we should wrap there, for this week,” Remy added. “But you can talk about this, of course, without us.”
Janus and Logan nodded, and left. The walk home was as quiet as the walk there had been, but this time the air thrummed with thoughts and ponderings.
Janus and Logan made dinner with relatively little talk, only quiet asks to pass a spice or a cooking implement. It wasn't an uncomfortable quiet, but one where their minds were far too loud to vocalize just yet.
Janus quietly suggested putting on TV, and picked the game show network as a neutral, unobjectionable option.
They ate as they watched, still burdened with their own thoughts, but slowly started to murmur the correct questions under their breath before the Jeopardy contestants were able to.
Final Jeopardy, as luck would have it, was on Latin - but specifically, Latin as used in law. Both attorneys chuckled at the contestants' answers, some of which weren't even close to correct.
Janus directed a cautious smile in Logan's direction, and found it reciprocated. But as he saw that familiar glow start to reflect off the walls, he tensed, waiting for Logan flee once more.
For the first time, though, he didn't. His eyes widened as he took in the lights, but he didn't move to stand or leave.
"About today-" Logan began. "I don't know that I am quite ready to discuss it all, but I did want to once again apologize for my handling of this situation, and its emotional impact on you. It was entirely unintentional, but I regret causing you distress."
"Thank you," Janus replied softly. "And thank you for being willing and open to go to counseling. I learned a lot today, all of it important."
"I'd like to talk about it tomorrow, if you'd be willing," Logan added. "There are some additional details I need to share, but I don't think I'm able at the present moment."
"Sounds good," Janus nodded. "I'm going to turn in for the night. Sleep well."
"You as well."
But despite feeling tired, Janus found he wasn't at all sleepy. He ended up sitting up until the wee hours of the morning, stroking Monty gently and thinking a great deal.
The next morning, Janus woke up much earlier than his usual habit, but he needn't have worried - Logan was clearly waiting for him in the kitchen, sipping coffee and idly solving the entire Sunday crossword.
He looked up at the sound of Janus' door, and indicated the mostly-full coffee pot with a nod. Janus gratefully filled a mug for himself and lightened it thoroughly with cream, drinking deep as he stood angled so that he could offer critique and suggestions on the crossword.
"No, shush," Janus said, though Logan had not spoken. "It's gotta be White. Y'know, Betty? C'mon. Most-loved Gold? It's obvious."
Logan just smiled and penned in “White” in the horizontal boxes, immediately able to fill in the Down clues crossing them.
Once the puzzle was complete, Janus refilled his coffee and sat properly at the kitchen island.
"So, if you're amenable-" Logan began. "I believe I'm prepared to discuss yesterday in more detail."
Janus nodded. "Did you want to start off?"
"Yes, I think I must. Because there was one detail that I wasn't quite prepared to share that I think will be quite helpful in securing a full understanding."
At Janus' encouraging nod, Logan closed his eyes to take a breath, and said, "The truth is, I'm an aromantic asexual. That's why the concept of a soulmate was so upsetting to me, particularly because up until this week I had assumed I didn't have one."
Janus looked down. "I'm ace, too, but not aro, and... yeah, same boat, mostly. I thought I wouldn't have one, but when we started to glow, I assumed it must be romantic. But that must not be the case."
Logan tented his fingers together. "So you're not aro, but you do have a QPP?"
"Yeah - I definitely can experience romantic attraction, but what I feel for Patton has always been stronger, and different."
"I'd like to hear about him, if you'd be willing," Logan said softly, and was rewarded by a smile that seemed about to glow as brightly as his soulmark on Janus' face.
"Oh, he's just the best," Janus gushed. "I met him at the perfect time in my life. I'd just been dumped by an asshole because he couldn't deal with the fact that the asexual part wasn't just me being a tease. I was feeling pretty low, post-college, all alone in a new apartment, and then this beam of sunshine turns out to be the kind of neighbor who brings cookies as a greeting. Even though I wasn't exactly receptive, he just kept coming back, even just to check up on me, and soon I found myself looking forward to it, and then inviting myself over in return."
Logan paused. "Wait, your ex broke up with you because you were ace? Was it a surprise?"
Janus rolled his eyes. "No, not in the least. I'd told him, and reminded him, and he'd just been assuming I would 'get over it,' the fucker. Right after the breakup, there were times I wondered if he was right, if I should have just powered through my repulsion to make him happy. But Patton was amazing about that, too. When he heard what happened - oh my goodness, he was so angry on my behalf, he looked like he was going to Hulk out. And then he made it his mission to make sure I was being validated in my identity and knew that I was eminently lovable both in spite of and because of my aceness."
Logan smiled. "That's wonderful. I can see why you love him so much."
Janus sighed happily. "And it hasn't changed even though he's met his allo soulmate. Roman knows that our bond isn't and will never be a threat to theirs, and he makes Pat so happy. They're planning their wedding right now, but they've already signed all the papers and it'll just be a party where they gush about each other in public."
Janus sat for a moment, basking in the glow of his affection for Patton, before he turned to Logan and asked, “You have a QPP too, right?”
“I do,” Logan said, a smile stretching across his face unconsciously. “Their name is Virgil. And they’re also married to their soulmate.”
“Tell me about them,” Janus said, when Logan fell silent.
“They’re- they are just amazing. They’re my best friend, have been since about fourth grade. ” Logan’s eyes went a bit misty as he considered his childhood. “We bonded over being surrounded by idiots, after a debate simulation where we were on opposing sides.”
Janus smirked. “You mean I’m not your first? I’m heartbroken.”
Logan shot him a glare, but it had none of true anger’s heat.
“I guess we always had the feeling that we weren’t quite like everyone else. Besides the introverted tendencies, it wasn’t really a shock when they came out as nonbinary. They’d been online, discovering new terms, and in learning about their identity I ran into the aro and ace labels. I felt seen, do you know what I mean? And then Virgil just compounded that feeling by immediately understanding and accepting me. They call me a brother, just to explain that our relationship isn’t “just” friends.”
“What was it like when they met their soulmate?” Janus asked.
“It wasn’t nearly as smooth as your experience seems to have been,” Logan admitted.
“Their husband is... unique. Prone to rather odd fixations and interests. But he’s also demisexual, and like us, had thought he wouldn’t have a soulmate. And part of his defense mechanism against that kind of rejection was, well. Embracing his off-putting side. Being disgusting for the sake of it. Grossing out others before they could judge him for his orientation.”
Janus grimaced. “I know that feeling, all too well. Donning a mask, so that a rejection won’t be of you, just your persona.”
“Exactly,” Logan said, nodding. “I don’t think it helped that both Virgil’s and Remus’ soulmarks were in their hair. They’d both dyed their hair many times over the years, but it wasn’t enough to hide it. And once they had shown up- there was no more pretending.”
“Was it hard for them?” Janus asked.
“Accepting it was. But then they started actually talking and then it just- clicked. All those macabre interests that overlapped, the mutual obsession with MCR. They fell in love the minute they both let their walls down. And like you said- it never really changed what I had with Virge. They didn’t meet Reme until college, and didn’t get married until last year. So Virge told Reme that I was here to stay, and part of their life, and he accepted it without a blink. He’s a forensic archeologist now, to Virge’s forensic detective, so they’ve actually both been helpful in cases, too.”
“That’s... kind of adorable, in a weird way,” Janus said, scrunching his nose.
Logan chuckled. “‘Adorable in a weird way’ is the best possible description for their relationship.”
Janus tapped his finger on the island. “That sounds so familiar, though, and I can’t quite place it.” He closed his eyes, murmuring under his breath. “Wait! Is Virgil’s husband an Augustus?”
“That was his surname, yes, though now it’s Angelico-“
“Oh my god!” Janus burst out. “That’s Patton’s brother-in-law!”
“Roman Augustus! That’s his soulmate’s name! And he had a twin, but they had a falling out and haven’t been in contact for a couple of years. But he said he’d been in forensics!”
Logan blinked. “Well, it is certainly a small world. Not that Remus has ever talked about his brother, but I knew he had one.”
“That’s kind of crazy. What are the chances?” Janus asked, laughing.
Logan looked pointedly over. “Do you really want to know? I could calculate them-“
“Thanks, calculator watch, but I’m good.”
They both chuckled quietly, sitting side by side at the kitchen island.
“Hey, uh- thank you for trusting me, with the other day, and with this,” Janus said softly.
“I owe you thanks as well,” Logan replied. “I don’t frequently have the opportunity to talk about Virgil in detail and it’s- it’s nice.”
Janus just beamed, returning the sentiment without words.
In that moment, the sunlight of the room was tinged with colored light, gold and blue overlapping into rich emerald.
Logan hesitated, seeing it, but after a moment lifted his arm. Janus smiled and leaned in, accepting the offered side-hug.
“Hey Finch- I mean, Logan?”
“I may not be sure yet why we’re soulmates, but I’m definitely not disappointed that we are.”
Then a soft murmur replied, “Neither am I.”
Later that afternoon, Logan returned from stocking up on more food to find Janus lying upside-down on the couch, lanky legs dangling over the back. His face was red enough to show that he’d been sitting there for a while as the blood rushed downward.
“I cannot imagine that is at all comfortable,” Logan commented drily, neatly putting away the packets of noodles and snacks he’d purchased.
“It helps me think,” Janus replied. “Especially when I’m trying to see something from another perspective.”
Logan’s eyes narrowed. “This better not have been a set-up just to make that terrible pun.”
Janus looked over, grinning. “It actually started that way, not gonna lie. I’d been venting to Patton about an oral argument simulation in law school and he suggested this as a joke. And then it actually helped.”
Logan huffed in what sounded suspiciously like a muffled laugh and came to sit more normally in a chair next to the couch. “So what is it that you’re trying to change your perception of so literally?”
“Our case, actually - Gomex.” At Logan’s quizzical look, he replied, “The partners aren’t letting me onto new cases until they know I’ll be back in person. I’m getting bored. So I thought, you know. Why not figure out what I was missing in this one.” He shrugged, an odd contortion for an inverted torso.
“You were missing something? But you won at trial.”
“And I was caught off-guard by your appeal - or at least, the part where it survived my motion to dismiss.”
Logan allowed himself a satisfied smirk. “Surprised you with my impeccable research, did I? All my rock-solid precedent pointing out the clear error in the original jury instruction?”
Janus’ legs kicked idly in the air. “Your research is always impeccable. Of course you were able to find precedent on-point for the general issue, you’re good at this. But the facts of the case are just so different that how could any of those past rulings be definitive?”
Logan leaned back in his chair, tapping the arm pensively. “Wait, so you really believe that? It wasn’t just a tactic to make Gomex feel like they’re getting their money’s worth for your legal fees?”
Janus finally righted himself, sitting upright with a leg balancing on the coffee table. “Well, yeah , of course I do. I don’t take the time and effort to go to trial for bullshit unless the client can’t be talked down from combat mode. Racking up charges for unnecessary trial prep is only fun when they don’t take my advice.” He looked quizzically at Logan. “So you really didn’t see the difference between Gomex and, what, Sourgoutsis?”
“No material difference, no. It’s in the right circuit, it’s recent and binding, and it established a test that clearly applies here.”
“But the test requires knowledge!”
“Knowing includes reckless disregard for the truth, and Gomex had that.”
“Oh, you can hardly say it’s reckless when all the claims were paid without issue for a decade!”
Logan leaned forward, counting off points on his fingers. “The guidance is updated each year. The commentary points out the changes. Gomex has to certify as a company that they accept all current guidance and direction. If they didn’t actually know they were submitting false claims, they should have known, and had a duty to know.”
Janus’ eyes were flashing, but more with excitement than anger. “But even the commentary didn’t clarify that these specific claims would no longer be accepted in the future. Doesn’t the agency have a duty to be clear about changes in accepted policy when the code is so vast and companies used past claims as standards for future approval?”
“But the companies are the experts in their own industries. They should know that these kind of differences are significant and material.”
Janus sat up fully straight, pointing enthusiastically. “That’s it!”
“I figured it out! It is a matter of perspective. But not the perspective of side versus side, like I was thinking. It’s time.”
Logan leaned in, leaning his elbows on his knees. “Expand, please.”
Janus nodded, mirroring Logan’s pose even as his hands remained free to gesture. “So you’re looking at this as: company knows their procedures best, they’re the ones making profit off it, so their duty to know details is higher than the public agency. Right?”
“Here’s where I’m coming from - it’s not a question of if this company knew or should have known this distinction, or even if this industry has the expertise that the agency lacks. It’s about what this case would do to the Sourgoutsis test for cases in the future. If the agency doesn’t have to clarify a policy change now, why would it ever? If it’s not enough that companies rely on a long history of approval here, when will it ever be? Do you follow, Logan?”
Logan linked his fingers, tapping the tips of his forefingers gently. “So your concern is about using a history of compliance as evidence of good faith?”
“But Gomex knew that the change meant the compliant history was no longer relevant.”
“Only because they had insider knowledge of the change process. Not from the public information.”
“Wait, so you agree that Gomex knew?”
Janus grinned sheepishly, baring all his teeth. “Well, we’re both off the case now, so- yeah. They knew or should have known their claims would get rejected and banked on the agency not noticing for just long enough.”
Logan gasped. “But you still went into court and got the jury to agree with you that they didn’t!?”
Janus shrugged pragmatically. “It’s not about Gomex, it’s about the precedent this will set. I’d rather one bad actor get away with it now than have who-knows-how-many claims get screwed in the future for a good-faith misunderstanding.”
“Especially if that bad actor is paying you millions to help them get away with it?” Logan asked with an eyebrow raised.
Janus raised one of his own. “So you’d rather let a bad test become binding because the agency is paying you millions to get it set in stone?”
Logan, about to respond hotly, paused. “I suppose that’s a fair assessment. I didn’t think it was that bad a test until now - I assumed the insider knowledge would be baked into the standard.”
“You gotta think cynically, Mr. Finch,” Janus said with a chuckle. “Picture the worst-faith application and work backwards from there, cause you know it’ll end up happening.”
“Hmm,” Logan said with a quiet laugh. “When you’re right, you’re right.”
Janus fluttered his lashes. “The great Logan Finch thinks I’m right about something. My life’s goal is achieved.”
“Hey, I think you’re correct quite a lot!” Logan objected. “Infuriatingly precise and pedantic, sure, but ultimately right. There’s a reason my firm sends me against you - no one else wants to fight what’ll be a losing battle half the time.”
“Even you must admit I’ve been correct on more than one occasion,” Logan said with a smile.
“That is true,” Janus admitted. “Knowing that you’re going to be the opposing counsel always makes me up my game.”
“The feeling’s mutual,” Logan said wryly. “I’d never admit it to the other partners, but you make me a better lawyer, Janus.”
The flattered glow of Janus’ grin was immediately dwarfed by two other, brighter bursts of light. Gold and blue pulsed from their backs in a flash, then settled into steady light. The colors lit the stylish room, blending to emerald as they pulsed in time with each man’s heartbeat. Logan looked at the glow reflected on the white couch cushions with wonder as he realized that Janus’ back was no longer shining blue, but green. He caught his eyes and realized his own glow must have changed colors as well.
The lights pulsed more and more gently until they dimmed and went out, leaving Janus and Logan sitting across from one another just as the last of the sunlight fell below the horizon and the room went dark.
The silence stretched for several moments, until Janus finally broke it with a bemused, “Huh.”
“So that was-”
“I think so.
“So now we’re-”
“Bonded, yeah. I think.”
“That would be a logical assumption.”
The silence returned, each man lost in his own thoughts. When they spoke again, it was at once.
“Maybe we should-”
“Perhaps we could still-”
“-make sure it’s permanent?
“-take a few days more?”
They shared a grin.
“A couple more days couldn’t hurt,” Janus said. “After all, it could be a fluke. We wouldn’t want to set a standard from a mere fluke.”
“Oh, of course not,” Logan responded with the same tone of amusement. “We want to confirm the integrity of the test.”
Janus stood to flick on a light, then turned as a thought occurred.
“Wait, Logan - even once we go back, we won’t be able to be opposing counsel anymore. The soulmate code will still be applied, even though we’re not romantic or QP soulmates.”
Logan’s face fell for a moment, then lit up once more as he stood. “Well, we’ve got a couple days at least. I think the two best lawyers in the state might be able to argue that every precedent has an exception, don’t you, Mr. Alighieri?”
Janus’ smile mirrored Logan’s own as he replied, “Why yes, Mr. Finch, I think we might.”
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