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One Thing At a Time

Chapter Text

Phoenix tried not to sulk as he sat at his desk in the darkened office of the Wright Anything Agency. The only light was coming from the lamp on the desk as his pen moved across the papers in front of him. Athena had gone home hours ago, and Trucy was already upstairs in bed. He was the only one left in the office and now that they were one lawyer short, the paperwork and potential clients were starting to pile up.

He hoped Apollo was doing okay. The last letter he received from him came in the mail two weeks ago and Apollo hadn’t called lately, but Phoenix tried not to take it personally; he knew how busy Apollo must be. It wasn’t going to be easy to completely reform an entire country’s legal system by himself, but Phoenix knew that if anyone could do it, it was Apollo. Sometimes he still couldn’t believe he had only known Apollo for three years. It felt like so much longer. Phoenix was just grateful Apollo had stuck around to continue working for him after everything he put him through during that first year. He certainly hadn’t made it easy on the poor kid.

He set his pen down, the letters on the page starting to blur together and lose meaning in his tired state. He glanced at his watch. It was already after 1 am. He leaned back in his chair, willing himself to get up and go to bed and not just fall asleep over his desk.

His eyes were just about closed when he saw a light turn on in the hallway. A few seconds later a tired looking Maya Fey appeared in the doorway, rubbing her eyes. “Nick? Aren’t you coming to bed?” she asked, stifling a yawn with her hand.

“In a minute,” he said. “I was just finishing up some paperwork.” Maya would scold him if she knew he was falling asleep at his desk.

“Hmm.” She pulled her housecoat around herself tighter and walked over to the desk. She moved behind his chair and leaned down to rest her arms on his shoulders, nuzzling her face into the side of his neck. “Do you miss Apollo?” she asked in a babyish voice. He could feel her breath tickling his ear as she spoke.

He sighed, leaning back into her embrace. “Maybe a little,” he admitted.

She laughed softly. Trucy may have been the only one to call Phoenix ‘Dad’, but Maya knew he felt almost as much fatherly love for Athena, Apollo and Pearl as he did Trucy, even if he wouldn’t admit it. It had to be killing him that Apollo was gone so far away.

“He’s not gone forever, and we can always visit,” she reassured.

“I know. But I also have the office to think about. Athena still isn’t experienced enough to run it on her own if I’m not here, and we can’t afford to keep closing up shop for weeks at a time. It’ll be a while before we’ll be able to go anywhere.”

Maya turned her head, her lips grazing his cheek as she placed a kiss there. “Aren’t I good enough company?” she whispered.

He laughed and swivelled his chair around so he was face to face with her. “You’re very good company,” he said, pulling her into his lap.

“Nick! Not here.”

“Relax, I’m too tired right now anyway.”

“When are you ever too tired for that?” she said, rolling her eyes.

He didn’t bother answering her. Instead he wrapped his arms around her waist to pull her closer. “I never want to let you go again.”

She rested her head against his shoulder. “You don’t have to worry. I’m never leaving again.” She paused. “But you have to admit, all those times we met in secret before I went to Khura’in… They were exciting, right? I kind of miss it.” She lifted her head to grin at him and he gave her a disapproving look.

“Maybe for you. I don’t think you ever did grasp how dangerous it was to be seen with me after I was disbarred. I was constantly worried someone would see us and use you against me.” After finding out Kristoph Gavin’s plan, he had actually tried to cut ties with Maya and Pearl for their own safety. But Maya would have none of that, and he couldn’t stay away from her either, as much as he told himself he should.

“I don’t seem to remember you protesting too much during some of those late night rendezvous,” she paused and sighed dreamily. “And you looked so hot back then. You should go for the casual, scruffy look more often, Nick.”

“No one would hire me,” he said. Though, he did have to admit, if there was one thing he missed about the role he had played for seven years as disgraced, disbarred attorney turned shady piano slash poker player it was not needing to care what people thought about him or how he looked.

“Oh, I think legendary Phoenix Wright could get clients no matter what.”

He smiled. “Well, I wouldn’t want to risk it. And if I showed up in court as the attorney instead of the defendant, looking like that, I’d be laughed out of the courtroom.” She giggled herself, and then there were a few seconds of comfortable silence. He didn’t want to start a serious discussion, he much preferred their silly banter, but he had to ask. “Maya, when will you need to go back to Kurain Village?” She was officially the Master now, and she would have to return sometime, despite her earlier declaration that she was never leaving again. And he had to let her go; she had responsibilities there.

She was quiet for a moment. “Not for a while. Pearly’s taking care of things, and she insists I stay with my special someone as long as I want to.” Pearl had grown out of her fixation on Maya and Phoenix’s relationship over the years, but she was still a hopeless romantic.

“But you will have to go back eventually,” he stated.

She nodded. “I actually wanted to ask you something sort of related to that. I wasn’t going to bring it up until later but since we’re talking about it…”

“What is it?” he asked. She looked suddenly unsure, like she didn’t know if he would like what she had to say. “Maya, don’t hold back on me now.”

“Well, you’ve lived here for years now, right?”

He nodded. “Ever since you’ve known me. I took over the lease after Mia passed and moved in upstairs. You know that.”

“Right. Well, I was thinking… it’s kind of small. And you have a teenaged daughter now who probably wants a room a little further away from her dad’s. Especially now that he has a steady girlfriend…” she said, smiling a little.

“What are you getting at?”

She was just going to come out and say it. There was no need to beat around the bush. “Do you want to move in with me? You and Trucy? We could look for a house or a larger apartment in between Kurain and the city, so we can both travel back and forth to work and Trucy can still get to school. You could rent out this apartment and obviously we could never move the office.” She took a breath. “I just want to stop with this going back and forth between you and Kurain. I want to come home to you every night. Don’t you think it’s about time?”

He hadn’t actually thought about it that much if he was being truthful. He was so used to the long distance relationship and spending so much time apart that it almost seemed surreal that starting a life together was now an actual option. But Maya was right, it was about time. They had managed to get through seven years of sneaking around and hiding their relationship, then two more years of being apart completely. Now that she was back for good and they were both in good places personally and with their careers, there was no reason not to.

“Now it’s your turn not to hold back, Nick,” she said, not liking his silence.

He slid his hand around to the back of her neck and pulled her in gently to kiss her. She put her hands on either side of his face to kiss him back, but she pulled away before it got too heated and rested her forehead against his. “Can I take that as a yes?”

“Of course.”

She squealed and jumped off of his lap, spinning back around to face him.

“Maya, you’ll wake Trucy with all that noise,” he said, finally getting out of his chair, but he was grinning along with her.

“I wish we could go tell her right now! Do you think she’ll be happy?”

Phoenix nodded. “Trucy loves you, Maya. And I’m sure she'll be happy to have a bigger room, too, especially if that means more space for her magic props. God knows we’re running out of room here. Unfortunately, I have to wake up early tomorrow to meet a potential client and Trucy has school, so we’ll have to wait to give her the good news until later. For now, let’s go to bed.”

Maya pouted. She was the one complaining he come to bed earlier, but now she was wide awake. “Aaw. I won’t be able to sleep now.”

“Sure you will,” he said, walking past her towards the hallway where the stairs were. She surprised him by jumping up onto his back and wrapping her legs around his waist.

“Carry me, Nick.”

“Ugh. You do realize I hurt my back in Khura’in, right?”

“Really? You never mentioned that to me. Jeez, you’re getting old, aren’t you?”

“You’re not getting any younger either, Maya.”

“But I will always be younger than you,” she countered.

There was no contradiction in that statement, so he wrapped his arms around her thighs and hefted her a bit higher. “If we kill ourselves falling backwards down the stairs, it’ll be your fault.”

She squeezed her legs around him as if spurring a horse and pointed forwards. “Onward!” With a groan he made his way towards the stairs, slowly but surely making his way up them. Maya dangled her hands in front of him, her chin resting on his shoulder.

“This is the slowest piggy back ride of my life,” she commented when they were finally halfway down the upstairs hallway towards the bedroom. “I should’ve brought a Sudoku puzzle or something to pass the time. Got any in-flight movies, Nick?”

He ignored her jibes, finally making it into the bedroom. Maya had turned a lamp on before coming downstairs, so he didn’t bother with the overhead light. He turned around and sat down on the edge of the bed with Maya still clinging to his back. She finally let go and flopped onto the bed.

She giggled. “You’re really out of breath! I’m not that heavy. You should start working out more often, old man.”

“You’re right, I’m exhausted,” he said, falling backwards as well and trapping her under his dead weight. “I’m not sure I can get up.”

“Nick!” Her hands pressed into his back. “You’re heavy! And your hair is going to stab me to death!”

He turned over, bracing himself with his forearms on either side of her. She held his eyes as he gazed down at her. “How did I end up with someone so beautiful?” he finally said, leaning down to trace kisses along her jaw, down her neck, and across her collarbone. One of his hands had made its way inside her housecoat at some point, pushing it open to reveal more of her chest.

After all these years he knew exactly what she liked and it was hard to resist him, but she managed to grab his hand before it got any further and pushed him away. “Sorry. Flattery will get you nowhere tonight. You’re the one who said you have to get up early. It’s bed time.”

He glanced at his watch, but sighed when he saw it was just after 2 am now. “I hate it when you’re right,” he said, sliding off of her and the bed.

“Which I always am.”

He made a face at her and headed to the bathroom. She took her housecoat off and hung it on the back of the bedroom door. In just her silky purple nightgown she crawled into bed to make herself comfortable under the covers, relishing the warmth they provided.

Phoenix came back into the room and very ungracefully stripped down to his boxers, almost falling over in the process of taking his pants off. Maya stifled her laughter under the covers.

“What was that?” she said. “I don’t get a sexy strip tease or anything?”

He crawled into bed beside her and flicked off the lamp on the bedside table. “Nope. You said it was bed time.” He turned over and she wrapped an arm around him, taking her place as the ‘big’ spoon for the night.

They were quiet for a few minutes, until Maya opened her eyes again. “Hey, Nick?” she whispered to the back of his head.

“Hmm?”

“Now that we’re moving in together… When are you going to propose to me?” she said, smirking to herself. It wasn’t a serious question, she was perfectly happy with their relationship and wasn’t in any hurry to get married. She just wanted to see what reaction she could get from him. She was expecting rushed excuses maybe, or at least bewilderment at the sudden question. Instead he just patted the arm she had wrapped around him.

“One thing at a time, Maya. One thing at a time.”

Chapter Text

October 10th, 2028, 7:14 PM
Wright Anything Agency

Trucy poked her index finger into her forehead and squeezed her eyes shut, willing ideas to come to her. School essays and procrastination didn't really mix, but with her magic show becoming more and more popular lately, she was spending more time on that than her school work. That wasn't something her dad would like to hear, but all she had to do was remind him that her magic shows were bringing a lot of money to the agency, and that usually got her off the hook.

Despite the time of night, she knew her dad was probably still working in the office downstairs. Maya had gone back to Kurain Village a few days ago, and Trucy could tell he was feeling a little sad lately, even though he tried to hide it. Working kept his mind off of it.

Phoenix and Maya had both given Trucy the good news that they were going to all move in together soon before Maya left, which Trucy was ecstatic about. She really did love Maya, but more importantly, Maya made her dad happy, and Trucy would have put up with any type of woman as long as her dad was happy. Luckily for her she got Maya, who was just about the best unofficial mom she could have asked for. Plus her and Pearl were almost like sisters already, and moving in with Maya meant she would get to see Pearl even more often than she already did.

Unfortunately there was a lot more to it than just going out and finding a new house. They had to go through banks to get approved for a mortgage, find a good real estate agent, and find something they all liked within an okay distance from both Los Angeles and Kurain Village. Not to mention all of them were busy, with Phoenix taking on more and more clients due to Apollo's absence, Maya being needed in Kurain to do channellings, and Trucy putting on multiple magic shows a week. So here she sat, still in her bedroom in the small apartment above the office of the Wright Anything Agency, attempting to finish an informative essay about the current court system.

She thought this topic was going to be easy, seeing as she had more experience with the court system than most regular 17 year olds did, but she couldn't seem to get her ideas onto the page. She didn't want to bother Phoenix if he was working, but it was about time to enlist an expert's help.

Taking her paper with her, Trucy made her way downstairs into the office. All of the lights were on still, and she spotted her dad across the room hunched over his desk, writing something. He was focused so intently on the notebook in front of him that he didn't even hear her enter the room, and she approached the desk slowly. She watched as his hand moved back and forth across the page in wide arcs, then move into tighter circular motions.

She realized when she was only a step or two away from the desk that he wasn't writing at all. The paper he had wasn't lined, and it was covered in black pencil markings. He had his other arm wrapped around the front of the page as he leaned over, so it was hard for her to tell what it was.

"What's that, Daddy?"

Phoenix jumped in fright and slammed his hand down over top of the paper, looking up wide eyed at Trucy. "Trucy! I didn't hear you come in."

She eyed the paper underneath of his hand. Most of it was obscured at the moment, but it was clearly a drawing of some sort. "Aw, let me see, please! What are you drawing?"

"It's nothing…" he said, looking back down at the sheet. Trucy watched as her normally unabashed father blushed furiously, face getting redder the longer she looked at him.

She knitted her eyebrows together. "I'm sure it looks good, Daddy! What's wrong?"

"Nngh…"

"Pleaaase?" She willed him to look at her, and when he finally did meet her eyes, she made a sad face and batted her eyelashes, knowing he couldn't say no to her.

He sighed. "Alright, fine." He slid his hand off of the page, smudging its contents in the process.

"Ah, be careful!" Trucy said, putting down her essay paper and lifting the sketchbook. "You'll ruin it." The pencil had smudged across the page a little, but it didn't ruin the likeness of Trucy herself sketched on the page. Trucy raised her eyebrows. It was a just a rough pencil sketch, but it was surprisingly well done.

"It's terrible, right?" Phoenix asked, resting his chin on his hand. "Sorry for making you look horrible."

"Daddy, no!" she exclaimed. "This looks beautiful! I didn't know you could draw!"

He shrugged. Beautiful was a bit of a stretch. "It's just a hobby, really. Didn't I ever tell you I was originally an art major in college, only taking law classes on the side? Once I decided solely on law I kind of stopped focusing on my art skills, but I've never really lost the urge to doodle when I'm bored."

Trucy wouldn't exactly call the picture a doodle. It was better than that. As she studied it, she noticed that the sketchbook was in pretty rough shape, and the picture she was looking at was on a page almost halfway through the book. She flipped backwards through the other pages to find more drawings.

"Oh wow! You've drawn Maya a lot of times," she said, looking slyly at her father. He just rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment, happy Trucy hadn't found the other sketchbook in the back of his closet with a few of the more risqué pictures that Maya insisted on posing for after they watched The Titanic. Most of those drawings ended up only half finished.

"You even have pictures of Pearl and Polly in here… and Athena, and even Mr. Edgeworth!" Trucy continued, giggling at the Edgeworth pictures. A few of them did capture Edgeworth's dignified manner, but there were others drawn in a more cartoonish style that made him look pretty silly.

"Don't you dare mention those to Edgeworth," Phoenix warned.

She smirked. "I'll try not to."

She continued to flip, passing by sketches of some of her magic props right there in the office, one of Charley which took up almost the whole page, and a mysterious woman with a beauty mark on her cheek and a similar necklace to the ones Maya and Pearl wore. Then there was one that made her stop, tilting her head as she looked.

"Which one do you have there?" Phoenix asked, noticing how his daughter had stopped abruptly. One of the pictures caught her eye, but he was sure there wasn't anything too embarrassing in this book, besides his subpar artistic abilities.

She turned the sketchbook towards him. "Lamiroir really is a beautiful woman, isn't she, Daddy? Speaking in aesthetic terms, at least."

Phoenix froze. He'd forgotten about that particular drawing. It was almost a year old, much closer to the beginning of the sketchbook than the others. Unlike most of the other drawings which were portrait style from the neck up, this one depicted "Lamiroir" full body, including her face covering. He had drawn Apollo and Trucy together beside her, but was glad he hadn't made it look like they were supposed to be a part of the Lamiroir drawing. Instead it looked more like he was only using leftover space on the page.

After speaking with her once when they returned from Khura'in Kingdom, Thalassa Gramarye still had yet to talk with Phoenix again about actually telling Apollo and Trucy about her. He was starting to get impatient, but he could give her a little more time. They deserved to know, but it had to be done right, he couldn't just drop that bomb on them himself.

Trucy turned the sketchbook back around to study the picture a bit more. "Lamiroir kind of reminds me of someone, but I don't know who. When we met her, we didn't really see her face much, but there's just something about her."

He swallowed. "You're probably just thinking about some time you saw her on TV before meeting her during that case. She's a pretty big celebrity." Trucy was young when Thalassa had her accident and disappeared from her life, but surely she still had some memory of her mother. He felt awful lying to her.

Trucy looked at it a few seconds longer. "Yeah, probably. Anyway, Daddy, thank you for drawing me." She came around the desk to give him a hug. "Can I take this picture of Polly and I?"

"Of course." Trucy missed Apollo more than anyone else. He watched her carefully tear the whole page out.

"I'm going to frame it," she said.

"Really? It's not that good."

"It is good. Besides, it's Polly."

Phoenix smiled, making a mental note to get in touch with Thalassa again as soon as possible. "Hey, Truce, was there an actual reason you came down here earlier?" He nodded towards her essay paper, still sitting on the corner of the desk.

Trucy smacked her palm into her forehead. "I totally forgot. I need some help with my essay. I figured you're the best person to ask, since it's all about the court system."

"And when is this essay due?"

"Er… tomorrow."

"Trucy…"

"Sorry, Daddy! I've been so busy with my magic shows, I forgot about it."

Phoenix sighed. "It's a good thing your shows are doing so well or I probably wouldn't be so forgiving. Pull up a seat. We'll get it done."

Chapter Text

October 31st, 2028, 6:00 PM
Wright Anything Agency

“Hey. Maya. Look.”

Maya’s hand slipped, and a splotch of the black nail polish she was applying ended up on the surface of the coffee table instead of on her fingernail. She scrunched her eyebrows together in annoyance and turned to the voice.

“Darn it, Nick! Look what you made me-” The sight of her boyfriend standing in the doorway caught her off guard, making her stop her sentence in its tracks. Looking at his new choice of clothing, any annoyance she felt at messing up her nails vanished, and a loud laugh escaped her mouth instead.

Phoenix stepped into the room, crossing his arms and tapping his finger on one arm, his nose in the air in an almost snooty manner. She grinned as he switched poses, into a shrug and a head shake, then tapped the side of his head with a finger.

This is what you’re wearing to the Halloween party?” she said, still trying to stifle her laughter. “How did you learn to imitate him so well? Have you been practicing?” Phoenix nodded, clearly proud of himself for this idea. He didn’t even want to dress up for the police department’s annual Halloween party, but with Maya’s prodding he finally agreed he would think of something. When he finally did say that he had a costume idea in mind, he refused to tell her what it was, no matter how much she begged.

She had to admit she was impressed. He was dressed in an almost perfect copy of Miles Edgeworth’s famous black, white, and red garb. The blue waistcoat and suit Phoenix normally wore were replaced with the black and red versions of Edgeworth’s clothing, cravat included. He was even wearing glasses, which Maya found incredibly attractive for some reason. She filed that thought away for future reference.

He grinned. “Pretty good, right?” He cleared his throat and spoke again in a deeper and more gruff sounding voice. “Mr. Wright, please save your shenanigans for after the trial! We all know you’re just bluffing!”

Maya couldn’t contain her laughter. “Where did you get all of this stuff?” she asked between giggles. “He’s going to be so mad at you.”

“That’s the point. And would you believe you can pretty much buy Edgeworth’s entire wardrobe at thrift shops? This cravat thing is itchy though,” he said, scratching at his neck. “Give me a tie over this any day. I can’t believe he insists on wearing this all the time.” Maya put a finger to her chin as he spoke. As good as the costume was, there was something off about it. Phoenix noticed her pondering and raised an eyebrow. “Something wrong?”

“Hmm. There’s something not quite right.” What was it? She let her eyes roam over the costume. Phoenix had almost every detail perfect, from the colour to the amount of buttons on the waistcoat to the length of the jacket. It wasn’t until she finally reached his face again that she realized the issue. That trademark Phoenix Wright hairstyle. People would recognize that hairstyle no matter what he did with the rest of himself.

“It’s your hair, Nick. You look like Edgeworth, but that hair. That is all Phoenix Wright.”

“Oh, I guess you’re right,” he said, absently running a hand through his spikes. They were surprisingly soft and the only hair gel he used was to keep his bangs and any stray hairs in place, aside from that one pesky lock that never seemed to stay put. Otherwise, they were totally natural. “I’m not sure I can do anything about that. You know it’s impossible to get my hair to go flat,” he said, running a hand over his head to demonstrate that point. Any spikes he pushed down popped up again, as if gravity didn’t apply to them.

“Not to mention your hair is black. Edgeworth’s is that pretty grey colour…”

“Pretty? And here I was proud that I somehow don’t have any greys yet, even after all the stress you’ve put me through over the years.”

She stuck her tongue out at him, but couldn’t deny it. “What about a wig?”

“No way. I wouldn’t be able to get one on such short notice anyway.”

“And Edgeworth never wears hats…” She got up and approached him, waving her hands around to make sure the nails she did manage to paint were already dry. Then she reached up to run her own hand through his hair. She pushed the lock of hair that fell across his face back, only for it to fall back down. Her eyes lit up, and she started threading her fingers through it again, pulling his pushed back hair down in front of his face instead. He assumed she was attempting to mimic Edgeworth’s high bangs.

He stood in front of her waiting for her to finish. There was no way to get Maya to stop something once she got an idea in her head, it was better to just let her do it. When she was finished messing with his hair, he could hardly see her through the bangs she had pulled out of place and down in front of his eyes.

She took a step back and put a hand on her chin to observe for a moment before her mouth curled into a look of distaste. “No. That looks way too weird. Put it back!” she exclaimed, jumping towards him again to push his hair back out of his face.

“Maya! Stop it!” he waved her away and ran his own hand back through it, managing to fix it perfectly with one swipe. “I’ll just leave it. I don’t have to look exactly like Edgeworth. I think the clothes are enough. What are you, anyway? You’re not even dressed yet.”

“I already told you I’m going to be a witch!” She pointed to the couch where a black outfit was laid over the back of it. “I’ve never done anything for Halloween before because we didn’t celebrate it in Kurain, and you never wanted to do anything but watch old horror movies on TV when we were younger!”

“Oh, that’s why you’re so excited to dress up even though you’re 28 years old? You know we’re not going trick-or-treating, right?”

“Yes, I’m aware! Besides… I already asked Pearly if I could go with her and Trucy, but she gave me a weird look.” She puffed out her cheeks in annoyance. “I’ll just make her share her candy with me.”

Phoenix wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Aw. Do you want me to buy you some candy and a little treat bag so you don’t feel like you missed out?”

She nudged him with her elbow. “Don’t treat me like a little kid. I can buy my own candy and treat bag, thank you very much.”

He rubbed his side and she went back to the couch to sit down again, grabbing a tissue and her bottle of nail polish remover to scrub at the now dried spot on the coffee table. Once it was clean, she went back to finishing her own nails.

Phoenix shrugged out of his Edgeworth coat and took off the cravat and glasses before sitting down beside her, jostling her in the process and again making her miss her fingernail. This time the splotch only ended up on her knuckle, and she wiped it away quickly before shooting him a glare.

He raised his hands. “Sorry. I’ll sit still.”

He watched amusedly as she concentrated, tongue sticking out the side of her mouth. If she was having this much trouble using her dominant right hand he couldn't wait to see how she did with her left. It took her a few minutes, but eventually she finished her left hand and held it out. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do for a one night Halloween costume. She switched hands, and he watched her left hand slowly and shakily paint the nails on her right hand. He had to wonder if they would make it to the party at all at the pace she was going.

When Maya was finally finished her right hand, she blew on it and waved it around to dry. It was nowhere near as good as her left, but it would have to do. She looked over to Phoenix to show him, but he was fast asleep. She rolled her eyes. It was just like him to fall asleep at 6 PM in the evening. She decided to leave him alone for now, maybe a quick nap would make it less likely that he’d be grumpy or tired and try to drag her home early from the party. She only managed to get a few days away from Kurain Village this week, and aside from spending time with Phoenix, she was excited to see some of her old friends at this party. It was an annual thing the police department started doing a few years back, but this was the first year she was actually able to go.

She took her costume from the back of the couch and went upstairs to the bedroom to change into it. As she passed by Trucy’s bedroom door, Maya heard the muffled conversation of Pearl and Trucy inside getting their own costumes ready for their night of trick-or-treating. Trucy had insisted they were both young enough (or looked young enough) still, and Pearl was excited to go. Like Maya, she never celebrated Halloween in Kurain Village.

Once in Phoenix’s bedroom she slipped her Master’s robes off and put her costume on instead, then went to the mirror over the dresser to apply her makeup. She rarely wore so much makeup, but for Halloween she could wear as much as she wanted without feeling overdone. Once happy with the way she looked, she made her way back downstairs. She approached the couch where Phoenix was still sleeping, and nudged his leg with her shoe to wake him.

When Phoenix opened his eyes and his gaze drifted to the woman standing in front of him, he could have sworn he was dreaming. Maya hadn’t really embraced the scary aspect of Halloween like he expected her to. In fact her costume was of the much more sexy variety.

The womanly curves she had developed over the years were usually hidden beneath her flowing Master’s robes, but the shiny satin fabric of the tight black dress she now wore clung to her in all the right places. It fell to about mid-thigh and the plunging neckline revealed the modest swell of her breasts. Her legs were covered with fishnet stockings that stopped just above her knees, leaving a strip of bare skin between them and the hem of her dress. She was also wearing black high heels so high he had to wonder if she would actually be taller than him once he stood up. Her silky hair was hanging freely down her back, and a pointy witch’s hat was perched on her head.

She put her hands on her hips, which accentuated her curves even more. “What are you staring at? Like what you see?” she said. She was wearing bright red lipstick and dark eye makeup too. She raised an eyebrow. “Seriously, Nick, stop gawking. You’re catching flies.”

He closed his mouth and scrubbed his hands over his face. “Maya. Are you trying to torture me?”

She smiled. “Maybe.”

He got up, glad to see that even with the high heels she was still a good few inches shorter than him. He wrapped one arm around her waist to pull her against him and whisked her hat off with the other hand.

"Hey! You're gonna mess up my hair!" she complained, reaching up to flatten any wild strands.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle you dressed up like that all night,” he said, leaning towards her.

She raised her hand and put a finger to his lips before he managed to kiss her. “Hey. Remember the girls are just upstairs. Besides, we’re going to be late if we don’t get a taxi soon. And you need to fix your costume.” She stepped out of his embrace and grabbed her hat from his hand, putting it back on.

Phoenix groaned as she turned back to the coffee table where the glasses and cravat from his costume were, purposely leaning over to reach them.

“What’s wrong, Mr. Nick?” a small voice said from the hallway behind him. Maya straightened up quickly, and he turned around, glad now that Maya had pulled away when she did. Pearl never missed an opportunity to gush if she saw them doing anything even remotely lovey-dovey, and she could still be pretty embarrassing, even if they really were a couple nowadays.

“Nothing, Pearls. I like your costume.” She was supposed to be an angel. The white gown and homemade translucent wings sprouting from her back, along with a halo held above her head by a wire, made that obvious. She looked more like she belonged in a Christmas nativity scene than trick-or-treating on Halloween, but who was he to judge costumes? He was going as his courtroom rival after all.

“Thank you,” she said, covering her face to hide her blush. She peered around him when she noticed Maya was in the room as well. Her blush got even deeper when she caught sight of her cousin. “Oh wow! Mystic Maya! You look beautiful!”

Maya brought over the pieces of Phoenix’s costume and handed them over to him, then grinned. “Thanks, Pearly!”

“Oh, Mr. Nick, doesn’t Mystic Maya look beautiful?” she asked, looking at him expectantly. Pearl was also fond of fishing for compliments on Maya’s behalf.

Phoenix glanced over quickly as he fumbled with the cravat. Tying a neck tie was one thing, his dad taught him as a teenager and he had tons of practice, but this had taken him forever to learn and he had to concentrate to get it right. He almost wished he’d just purchased a fake one he could easily clip around his collar. “Of course,” he replied dismissively. He was trying his best not to think about how hot Maya looked in that costume. How he was going to make it through the whole night with her he wasn’t sure.

Pearl puffed out her cheeks in a perfect rendition of Maya’s famous angry face, clearly not happy with such a half-assed answer. At one point in her life she would have been elated to have him agree with her on that, but now the bar was set higher.

He finished tying the cravat and slipped the glasses back on, catching sight of Pearl’s face through them. To better convince her, he slipped his arm around Maya again. “She looks absolutely amazing.” He looked down appreciatively and saw Maya’s cheeks tinting pink. She drank up the compliments when they were alone, but in front of others, even someone as close to her as Pearl, she always seemed embarrassed by his attention.

Pearl nodded seriously, and he got the impression that she was silently telling him “that’s better”.

“Where’s Trucy?” Maya asked, happy to focus the attention somewhere else again. She pointed Phoenix in the direction of the couch where the coat part of his costume was still laying. “She’s not ready yet?”

“She’s almost done, I think.”

“Do you know what she’s going as?” Phoenix asked, putting the jacket on. “She wouldn’t tell me. Please tell me it’s age appropriate.”

“You don’t trust me not to pick out a good costume, Daddy?” Trucy entered the room just in time to hear his comment. Phoenix and Maya recoiled at the sight of her. “I’m the only one here who actually tried to get into the spirit of Halloween by making my costume scary!”

Pearl knew what to expect, but the costume still made her grimace. Trucy’s blouse was probably white at some point, but she had the front of it drenched in so much fake blood it was a dark red colour now. She also wore an old skirt, which she purposely ripped and tore some holes into and apparently smudged dirt all over. Her knees looked dirty and scraped too, and she replaced her regular white boots with a pair of dirty old sneakers. Across her neck was a very convincing looking gash; it was even glistening as if she really were bleeding. The rest of her visible skin she had painted a ghastly greyish colour, and the makeup on her eyes was so dark that when she closed them it almost looked like there were two empty holes in her face instead.

Phoenix was looking at his daughter in surprised horror. She caught the look, and put her hands on her hips. “I’m a murder victim,” she said simply, bouncing over to Pearl. Their costumes were so intensely different that they looked almost comical standing side by side.

"Wow. Good job, Trucy," Maya said.

"Thank you!" she beamed. "You look really pretty too, Maya! You're a lucky guy, huh Daddy?"

These girls never let him miss an opportunity. ”Yeah, I am."

"Oh! I need to get us some pillow cases for our candy! I'll be right back," Trucy said, running back up the stairs to the apartment. She came back with two pillow cases from the closet and handed one to Pearl. "Now we're ready!"

“Oh, I’m so excited!” Pearl gushed. “This is the first year I wasn’t needed to help train the acolytes in Kurain so I can finally go with you. People are really going to just give us candy… for no reason?”

Trucy nodded excitedly. “That’s the beauty of Halloween.”

“Okay, girls,” Phoenix interrupted. “Just make sure you’re back before 11, okay?”

“Aw, Daddy,” Trucy pouted. “We don’t need a curfew, we’re practically adults!”

“Adults don’t go trick-or-treating, Truce. So be back before 11. Maya and I probably won’t be back until later, but I’ll still know if you were late.”

Trucy waved her hand at him. “Okay, okay. You guys should get going; doesn’t the party start at 7?”

Phoenix glanced at his watch. “Yeah, Maya we’d better head out. We’ll probably be a little late.”

“Have fun girls!” Maya said, grabbing Phoenix by the arm and dragging him out the door.

Pearl glanced at Trucy once the door had shut behind them. “Are you sure we shouldn’t have told them we’re going to a party later?”

Trucy looked at her like she was crazy. “Tell my dad that?! No way! Besides, we’ll still be back before 11. In this neighbourhood it’ll only take us an hour or two to fill these pillow cases to the brim! We can head to the party after and still be back with time to spare!”

Pearl bit at her thumb. “If you say so.”


 

October 31st, 2028, 7:20 PM
L.A.P.D. Annual Halloween Party

The party was more like a nighttime carnival, Phoenix observed as he and Maya climbed out of the taxi in front of the hotel the police department had reserved for the event. There were no rides, but the parking lot was filled with things for the general public to do. Games were set up for the trick-or-treating children out front and there were plenty of booths selling all sorts of food. They even cleared out part of the lobby and dining area near the main entrance to set up a haunted maze that people could walk through for free. The hotel was no Gatewater Imperial, so they were given a bit more lenience with what they could do.

Only people somehow related to the police department were allowed inside the ballroom area, where tables, a stage, a bar, and more refreshments were set up, and Phoenix somehow managed to drag Maya there without her insisting on getting food outside first. The officer letting people in recognized him and let them pass without delay. Maya held onto his arm as he pushed his way through the throngs of officers mingling by the door.

“Oh! Mr. Wright! Mr. Wright!” The voice cut through the noise of the lingering people and music of the sound system. Phoenix glanced around, trying to find the source.

Maya finally pointed off to her left. “I think I see Athena over there,” she shouted to be heard over the noise.

Phoenix followed her finger to the unmistakable orange ponytail bouncing up and down as Athena jumped into the air to catch their attention. She waved, so he sent a wave back and they made their way towards her. She was standing with Simon Blackquill, who looked just as bored and grumpy as ever.

“Hey Athena,” he said as they approached.

“Boss! Your costume is great!” Athena said. “It’s a good thing you and Mr. Edgeworth are such good friends. You’re probably the only one who could get away with that. And you look awesome too, Maya!”

“Thanks, Athena!”

Phoenix nodded his thanks and glanced over his protégé. “You look… nice.” If not for the cowboy hat on her head or the boots she had on he wouldn’t have known what she was. She was wearing short shorts and a crop top that showed off her toned legs and stomach, and he had to resist the urge to hand her his jacket to cover up with. What was with women’s costumes these days? Half the ladies there were showing more skin than at a pool party, and Athena was only a year older than Pearl for goodness’ sake! He looked at Blackquill, who didn’t appear to be dressed as anything. “Prosecutor Blackquill,” he nodded at the other man.

“Wright-dono.”

“I don’t think you’ve met,” Phoenix gestured to Maya. Talking to Blackquill was difficult, and he really wanted to see how Blackquill would handle a conversation with Maya. “Maya, this is Prosecutor Blackquill. He was the prosecutor on a lot of our cases last year. Prosecutor, meet Maya Fey.”

Maya held out a hand. “Nice to meet you. What are you supposed to be dressed as anyway? Some sort of samurai? I like your ponytail.” Maya was at least a foot shorter than him, but she didn’t seem intimidated by him like most people were.

Blackquill gave her hand a quick shake. “Nice to meet you, Fey-dono. These are actually… my normal clothes.” He looked away from her and over at Athena nervously. Athena seemed to notice something, and stomped over to grab something out of Blackquill’s other hand.

“Simon! I told you, you have to wear these! This is a costume party for Halloween!” she reached up on tip toes to stick the item back on Blackquill’s head.

Phoenix had to resist the urge to burst out laughing and brought his fist up to cover his smile, but Maya couldn’t hold in her snort of laughter. Blackquill looked about ready to kill someone and go back to serving his old murder sentence. Athena stepped back. “He’s a panda bear!” she announced. The little ears on the headband she just stuck on his head looked more like floppy dog ears to Phoenix, but at least the rest of Blackquill’s monochrome coloured clothes matched the colours of a panda bear. “This was all I could get him to wear,” she said. “Don’t take them off again, Simon!”

Blackquill crossed his arms. “Hmph. Don’t tell me what to do, Athena.”

Athena stomped her foot and took him by the arm. “Let’s go get drinks! Boss, Maya, have a good night. If we don’t see you again tonight, I’ll see you at work on Monday!”

When they were out of earshot Maya and Phoenix both burst into fits of laughter. “A panda bear!” Maya wheezed. “That’s adorable.”

Phoenix wiped the tears from his eyes. “I can’t believe Athena managed to drag him here at all,” he said. “I’ve never even seen him outside the courtroom. I guess it is good he’s hanging out with Athena after everything they’ve been through, though.”

Maya straightened up and dabbed at her makeup to make sure her tears hadn’t ruined any of it. “What happened with them?”

“Ah, that’s a very long story. I’ll have to tell you later.”

“Okay,” she shrugged, then grinned. “Panda bear…” she said, starting a fresh wave of laughter.

“Wright, have you been hitting the bar already?” Phoenix turned around at the British sounding accent (which he was still at least 85% sure was fake) to find Miles Edgeworth standing behind him, a smirk on his face.

“Not yet,” he replied, “but now that you’re here I think I’ll need one.”

Edgeworth gave him a once over and his eyebrows practically shot into his hairline. “What on earth are you wearing, Wright?”

“Oh, do you like it…? Wait.” He frowned. “What are you wearing?!”

Maya put her hands up to her head. “I should have brought my camera!” she yelled.

Even Edgeworth was in costume, but he apparently had the same idea as Phoenix, because he was dressed in a blue suit similar to the one Phoenix usually wore. Edgeworth picked at the cardboard attorney’s badge attached to the lapel. “Why, I’m dressed as the most famous bluffing attorney this side of L.A.”

“No way you thought of that on your own! Who gave you the idea?!”

“It was Miss Kay Faraday, who insisted I get a costume for this ridiculous party and wouldn’t let me pick my own. And then she called me and said she couldn’t come anyway, but not until after I’d gotten dressed up. And so here I am.” Phoenix didn’t know Kay personally, but he did know that she assisted Edgeworth years ago similarly to how Maya had helped him. He didn’t realize they still kept in touch so much that he would even invite her to a party like this.

“Well may I just say, Mr. Edgeworth,” Maya cut in, “you do cut a handsome figure in that outfit.”

Phoenix narrowed his eyes at her, and Edgeworth’s widened slightly as he took in the outfit Maya was wearing. He coughed awkwardly into his hand. “Thank you, Maya. You look nice as well. As for you, Wright, well, you don’t pull off the cravat as well as I do.”

“You know, I really do need a drink now,” Phoenix said, ignoring the remark. “Do you want anything, Maya?”

“I’ll go with you. I want to see what kind of food they have.” She looked back at Edgeworth. “Did you want anything, Mr. Edgeworth?”

He shook his head. “No, thank you. I’m going to go find the detective. You may join us after if you’d like, there are some tables set up over there.”

“Sure thing, we’ll be there!” She followed Phoenix to the refreshments, and spotted the food right away. “Hey, Nick. Order me a drink. I’m gonna grab some food.” They hadn’t skimped on providing plenty to eat inside too. Most of it was snack food, but that didn’t matter. She took a plate and started piling the food on. Cupcakes decorated as pumpkins, pumpkin pie, cookies, cheese and crackers, and a few scoops of roasted pumpkin seeds to name a few things. By the time she was done her plate was piled high, and she found Phoenix again, who was already a quarter of the way through a beer. He held onto her drink for her as they made their way to the tables Edgeworth had indicated before.

Maya gasped when she saw the table and bounded over to it, spilling some of the crackers and pumpkin seeds from her plate. Sitting around the table were people she hadn’t seen in years. Beside Edgeworth sat Detective Gumshoe, and beside him was Maggey Byrde. Maya slammed the plate down at one of the empty seats and pointed across the table. “Detective Gumshoe and Maggey! I haven’t seen you guys in forever!” When Edgeworth had mentioned finding the detective, Maya had assumed he meant Ema Skye, but she didn’t seem to be in attendance.

“Hey, pal!” the detective cried, standing up when Maya came around the table to hug him. “You grew into a real beauty didn’t you?” he said sincerely.

Maya smiled and waved her hand in an ‘oh you’ gesture. She went to Maggey next, who smiled and squeezed her tight. “It’s great to see you again, Maya.”

“I heard from Mr. Edgeworth here that you were off training! I guess you’re back now, huh?” Gumshoe said, sitting back down. Phoenix approached the table and set Maya’s drink down for her beside her plate, then pulled his own chair out to sit down beside Edgeworth. Gumshoe grinned. “Still hanging out with Mr. Wright, here, huh? I don’t know what I expected. You two were practically inseparable back in the day.”

Maya went back to her seat and sat down. “You bet!” she reached her arm over and pulled Phoenix to her by the neck. “Still are! Right, Nick?”

He nodded his agreement and Maya placed a quick kiss on his cheek, leaving a trace of her lipstick there.

“Maya, your lipstick,” he complained, getting a napkin to wipe it off.

Gumshoe and Maggey watched this exchange in silence, until Gumshoe tilted his head in confusion. “You two really are the closest friends I think I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even kiss Maggey until we’d been dating for months! Not even on the cheek! I guess that was mostly because I couldn’t work up the courage, but you two have always been pretty affectionate from what I saw at all those crime scenes.”

Phoenix and Maya raised their eyebrows first at each other and then to the couple across the table. “Wait, Detective. You didn’t know about Maya and me? We’ve been in a relationship for almost two years now.” Well, two years officially. The seven before that were complicated and aside from very close friends, not many people knew they had been seeing each other secretly long before Kristoph Gavin’s arrest.

Gumshoe looked shocked. “I had no idea! Mr. Edgeworth, you never told me about that!”

Edgeworth shrugged. He was one of the few people who did know about Phoenix and Maya’s escapades during the seven years Phoenix had been disbarred, but it wasn’t his place to talk about his friend’s complicated relationship, and at the time it was dangerous for too many people to know anyway. “You never asked.”

“Well, I always knew you two would end up together anyway,” Gumshoe said, nodding to himself. “It was pretty obvious to everyone.”

“Never mind us,” Maya interrupted through a mouthful of pumpkin seeds. “What’s this about you and Maggey?! We had no idea you guys got together!”

“Actually, I did know about that,” Phoenix told her.

She smacked him lightly on the shoulder. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?!”

He shrugged and repeated Edgeworth’s line. “You never asked.”

Maggey smiled. “It’s been quite a few years for us now. We dated for a few years and then got married.”

“I finally managed to work up the nerve to ask her,” Gumshoe explained. “Best decision I’ve ever made!”

“That’s so great,” Maya said. “Oh, and I love your costumes, by the way.”

“Thanks!” Gumshoe said. “I’m Frankenstein, and Maggey is the Bride of Frankenstein, of course.”

Edgeworth cleared his throat. “Actually, Detective, you are Frankenstein’s monster. Doctor Frankenstein was the scientist that created the monster.”

“Oh, right, sorry, sir.”

Maya waved her hand. “Well, you both look awesome! Maggey, what do you do for work nowadays?” She remembered Maggey was usually between jobs. Thanks to her terrible luck, she was always being fired from them.

“Technically, nothing,” she said.

“Because she actually has the hardest job in the world,” Gumshoe cut in. “Taking care of our little tyke!”

“What?!” Maya cried. “You have kids?!”

“One,” Maggey said. “A boy. He’s five now. I decided to be a stay-at-home mom after having him, but I may go back into the workforce once he’s been in school a bit longer. My luck isn’t nearly as terrible as it used to be.”

“Aaw. I’ll have to meet him someday!”

“Any time you want,” Maggey agreed. “You and Mr. Wright don’t have any kids yet, do you?”

“Not aside from Nick’s adopted daughter, Trucy. And I was my cousin Pearly’s legal guardian for almost ten years, before she turned eighteen. But no kids of our own yet, no.”

Maggey nodded. “Well, it’s a lot of work, let me tell you.”

Phoenix began to tune out the conversation, turning instead to Edgeworth. “Anyone else coming that you know of? Maya was looking forward to seeing everyone she hasn’t seen in a while.”

“Who else is there besides the Detective?” Edgeworth asked, watching as Phoenix waved one of the servers over to the table to order another drink.

Phoenix shrugged after the man had walked away. “Ema Skye?”

“Maya just saw Ema last month during the Sprocket case,” Edgeworth pointed out. “But in case you’re curious, Ema is once again assisting Prosecutor Sahdmadhi in Khura’in, so she won’t be here tonight. It seems he’s taken quite a shine to her.”

“What about Miss von Karma?” Phoenix asked. “Even I haven’t seen her in ages. What’s she up to these days?”

“Franziska is busy prosecuting overseas. Unfortunately, I don’t think she’ll be joining us tonight either, unless she plans to charter a jet to fly all the way here just to attend this poor excuse of a party.”

“That’s too bad. But at least Maya got to see Gumshoe and Maggey again.”

“Yes, and Mrs. Gumshoe is already filling her head with the thought of babies. Is the world really ready for a bunch of spiky-haired offspring of yours running around? Maybe they’ll be lucky and take after Maya’s looks more than yours though,” Edgeworth said, but he was smiling and Phoenix knew he was only teasing, in his own weird way.

The thought of having more kids didn’t bother Phoenix, but he didn’t think it was in his future anytime soon. “I think we have our hands full with Trucy and Pearl right now. Even teenagers can be troublesome.”

Edgeworth didn’t look convinced. “I think you and Maya have the most well behaved teenagers in the world, Wright. In all the years I’ve known them, Trucy and Pearl have never once been in any sort of trouble that was any fault of their own. I don’t believe you know how lucky you are. I remember teenaged Franziska! She may have been a prosecutor at age thirteen but when she wasn’t in the courtroom she was like any other teenaged girl. You met her when she was 18; imagine that but ten times worse as a younger teenager.”

Phoenix laughed. “Maybe you’re right; I guess we are pretty lucky that way. Trucy took care of me more than I did her when she was younger, not that that was very responsible of me at the time, but she’s always been wise beyond her years.” The server from before brought Phoenix his drink and he took a sip of it.

Edgeworth grimaced. “How can you drink that vile stuff? And not even in a glass?”

“Not all of us can afford fancy schmancy wine. You should get one, maybe it’ll loosen you up a bit.”

“No, that is quite alright. Besides, I have to drive home later.”

A voice came over the loud speakers, interrupting their conversation. “Please make sure to get your couple’s costume contest nominees in before 10 PM! We will be announcing the winners at this time! Thank you.”

Maya moaned. “Aw, Nick! We should’ve come in matching costumes. Steel Samurai and Pink Princess would’ve been perfect!”

Phoenix thanked his lucky stars that Maya hadn’t known about the contest beforehand. “Too bad. Maybe next year.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” He managed to catch the playful glint in her eyes before she stood up from the table. “I’ll be right back.”

“Okay…” He didn’t like that look. She was up to something. He hadn’t planned on getting well and truly drunk tonight, but things always seemed a lot more amusing when he was three sheets to the wind, even if it was at his own expense. He was already feeling a buzz from the one he already had, he was such a lightweight.

“What do you think she’s doing, anyway?” Phoenix asked Edgeworth.

Gumshoe piped up from across the table instead. “I’d say getting more food, seeing as she already finished off the plate she had.”

Phoenix looked at Maya’s empty plate, which sure enough had naught but crumbs left on it. It never ceased to amaze him how quickly she could inhale her food, and he figured Gumshoe was probably right. The casual conversation around the table continued until Maya made her way back. She didn’t have more food.

“Where did you go?” Phoenix asked.

“Ladies room…” she said, smiling sweetly at him. She took note of his drink, now almost gone as well. “Nick, let’s go to that haunted house maze thing before you’re too drunk to walk through it.”

“This is only my second drink! …But a haunted house? Really?”

She started pulling on his arm. “Yes, really. They were letting little kids into it, it can’t be that bad! Stop being such a scaredy cat. Mr. Edgeworth, will you come with us?”

Edgeworth looked a little surprised at being invited, but shrugged. “If you wish.”

“What about you guys?” Maya said, looking across at Gumshoe and Maggey.

Maggey shook her head. “I think we’re okay. We’ll save the table.”

“Suit yourselves. We’ll be back soon.” Maya gave Phoenix’s arm another yank and he reluctantly dragged himself out of his seat. Edgeworth got up as well, and they made their way out of the ballroom and into the main lobby. They found the entrance to the maze, and the officer allowing people inside stopped them before they entered.

“Please hold hands.”

“What? It can’t be that scary inside! We’re adults!” Phoenix protested.

The officer frowned and repeated himself. “Hold. Hands.”

Maya grabbed Phoenix’s left hand in her right and Edgeworth’s right in her left, then held them up. “Like this?”

The officer nodded. “Perfect. It’s very dark inside so make sure you keep hold of each other. We’ve set up some temporary walls inside so it is a real maze. There’s nothing to guide you except some glow-in-the-dark tape on the floor, which branches off in different directions. If you make it through within ten minutes, you’ll get a prize.”

Perfect. Making it a competition was a sure fire way to get Maya to take something way too seriously, especially if there was a prize involved. She squeezed both of her companions’ hands. “Did you guys hear that? I want that prize.”

Phoenix snorted. “It’s probably just a Blue Badger stuffed animal or something, Maya. You already have three!”

“Hush, Nick!”

Edgeworth stayed quiet. He always found it rather amusing to watch Phoenix attempt to manage his girlfriend, even though it was clear who actually wore the pants in their relationship, and always had.

The officer held open the dark curtain that kept the light from the lobby from entering the maze. “You can head in now.”

Phoenix was in front of their little line, so he headed in first, wishing he wasn’t. He would be the first one to get scared and he had no one to hide behind. Maya and Edgeworth followed him. Once the curtain was closed again it was pitch black inside. All three looked down at the floor to find the tape and began walking along it. There was loud music and sound effects blaring inside, making it impossible to hear each other if they spoke.

They followed the tape around the first corner, where a flashing strobe light lit the hallway they were standing in for a quick second, just long enough for them to get a look at the fake blood spattered walls, and what seemed to be severed heads and other body parts hanging from the ceiling. Phoenix also caught a glimpse of something standing at the end of the hallway. Maya squeezed his hand a bit harder as he continued moving forward. Knowing they were approaching something at the end of the hallway that would probably jump out at them made the anticipation worse.

The strobe light flashed again, but the figure was gone. When they reached the end, the tape on the floor branched off in two different directions. Maya tugged on Phoenix’s hand to indicate she wanted him to go left.

The next hallway was lit up with coloured bulbs that bathed everything in dim red light. They walked past a makeshift jail cell where an actor in a prison jumpsuit and mask jumped at them from the shadows and rattled the bars of the cage. They all flinched back and picked up the pace, eager to get away from him. At the end of that area Maya again tugged Phoenix’s hand, this time going right, into another pitch black hallway.

The sound effects seemed to be quieter here, and they could hear the distinct sound of footsteps, but it was impossible to tell whether or not they were coming from in front of or behind them, so they continued bravely forward. The next time the strobe light flashed, Maya was met with the grinning face of a clown. It somehow bypassed Phoenix in the wide hallway and was standing right beside her instead. It roared and then reached for her just as the lights went out again.

She let out a shriek when she felt a hand on her shoulder and despite herself, wrenched her hands from Phoenix and Edgeworth’s grasp to shrug out from under it. She slammed into Phoenix’s back when she tried to run forward, who had stopped to stand still after Maya let go of him.

“IT TOUCHED ME!” she yelled loud enough for them all to hear her over the now loud again sound effects.

“Maya, you should take my hand again, it’s too dark!” Edgeworth was heard yelling over the noise, the first words he’d spoken since entering. Instead he felt something touch him as well, yanking on the tail end of his jacket. He instinctively moved forward to get away, himself now running into Phoenix’s back, who was still standing stock still, not sure where Maya or Edgeworth were in the dark. Maya had seemingly disappeared from between them somehow. Edgeworth pushed on Phoenix’s back to get him moving again, hoping Maya had just followed the tape out of the maze ahead of them in her fear.

Phoenix felt the hands press into him from behind and assumed that Maya had found him again and was now in a hurry to get out. It was impossible to say anything loud enough for anyone to hear and too dark to see, so he had to hope Edgeworth was still behind her. If he wasn’t, he’d have to find his own way out. He started forward again, following the tape in the direction he thought was correct. There were a few other areas to pass through where they had to walk by more actors reaching for them and clawing at them, but luckily there were no other roaming actors. They made a few wrong turns, ending up at dead ends where fake bodies were strewn in various positions, only visible when the strobe lights flashed and only for a few seconds.

By the time they made it out Phoenix was sure they lost the ten minutes allotted to win the prize. He blinked as he emerged from behind another curtain back into the light of the lobby. Maya was leaning against the hotel desk and chatting to a female officer in a skin tight black jumpsuit. The ears on her head and tail pinned to her behind indicated she was supposed to be a cat, but for some reason she still had her police badge pinned to her chest. Both Maya and the officer looked over when they saw the two men emerge.

“Oh, you guys finally made it out! Aw, don’t you two look cute,” Maya said.

Phoenix looked over his shoulder to see Edgeworth slowly raising himself up to his full height as he unfisted his hands from the back of Phoenix’s jacket. Now that he was no longer inside the maze he didn’t need to use Phoenix as his shield. Phoenix only stared at him open mouthed.

You were the one holding onto me that whole time, Edgeworth?!”

Edgeworth cleared his throat, trying his best not to look too embarrassed. “Yes, well… I didn’t want you to get lost by yourself after Maya ran away.”

“You’re both blushing,” Maya pointed out. The officer she was with was grinning ear to ear. “And by the way, I did not run away. I just wanted to win the prize and Nick was going too slow, so I went ahead.”

Phoenix raised an eyebrow. “Oh really? I’m pretty sure you screamed in my ear that something touched you and then bolted.”

Maya put a finger to her chin. “Hm, no, I don’t think so. You must have misheard me over the sound effects.”

Phoenix looked at Edgeworth, who shrugged. “Well, did you at least get the prize?”

Maya reached behind the desk and produced her prize. “I did!”

“Wow, a pink Blue Badger.”

“It’s just the Pink Badger,” she said.

“Right. You don’t already have that one, do you?”

“Nope!”

“How did you get out here so fast?” Edgeworth asked. “Thanks to Wright we made quite a few wrong turns.”

“Aside from the fact that you were running so fast because you were so scared,” Phoenix said, bumping her playfully with his shoulder.

She stuck her tongue out at him and turned back to Edgeworth. “I’m glad you asked, Mr. Edgeworth! The lobby and dining area are just one big room, and the walls inside are only temporary so I knew which way the exit was. I just kept going the way I thought was right.”

“So basically you had no strategy and just guessed based on how you thought the lobby was laid out, and got lucky?”

“Well, she did make it out well before we did, Wright,” Edgeworth said. “We can hardly criticize how she did it.”

Maya beamed. “Yeah, Nick.”

“How about we head back to the ballroom?” Edgeworth suggested. “They’ll be announcing the costume contest winners soon.”

“Oh yeah! We have to see that!” Maya exclaimed. She said goodbye to her officer friend and they made their way back inside.

“Did you have fun?” Maggey asked as the three took their seats again.

Maya plopped her Pink Badger in the middle of the table. “Yes we did! Although Nick and Mr. Edgeworth took some extra time to bond in there without me.”

“Because you got scared and ran ahead,” Phoenix said. His drink from before was still there and although it wasn’t as cold now, he didn’t want to waste it, and he downed what was left in one gulp.

Maggey giggled, and Gumshoe grinned. “Hey, that’s okay, pal,” he said to Maya. “You couldn’t drag me through one of those haunted things anyway, at least you were brave enough to go in in the first place.”

“I can deal with real spirits just fine,” Maya said. “I was just surprised because it was dark one minute and the next there was some creepy clown standing beside me.”

“Clown? I’m really glad I didn’t go with you now,” Maggey said.

Maya nodded and turned to Phoenix. “Hey, Nick, what time is it?” Before waiting for his reply she reached for his sleeve and pulled it up herself to look at his watch. “Forty-five minutes until the costume contest! Will you come outside with me to get food until then?”

“There’s food in here.”

She pursed her lips. “But it’s just snack stuff. They have really yummy things outside like deep fried apple slices, and apple fritters, and apple cider, and candy apples-”

“A lot of apples, I get it.” He sighed. “Okay, let’s go.”

“Do you guys need anything?” Maya asked the table, always eager to have Phoenix foot the bill for their friends.

“Could you get me one of those candy apples you were talking about?” Gumshoe said.

“And I’ll take a bag of caramel corn if they have any,” Maggey put in.

“Sure thing!” She looked at Edgeworth, who shook his head. “We’ll be back in time for the contest.”

Together they went back through the main lobby and outside into the parking lot. There were still lots of kids in costumes running around with their parents and playing games, and a few of the food booths had long line ups.

“Hey Maya, why are you so excited for the costume contest anyway?” Phoenix asked as they made their way towards a booth where a few attendants were slicing apples, dipping them in some sort of batter, and dropping them into boiling oil for a few seconds.

“No reason,” she said as they got in line. “It’s kind of chilly out now, isn’t it?”

He noted the quick change of subject, but didn’t bother pressing her. “Want my jacket?”

“Won’t you be cold?”

“I have a long-sleeved shirt and pants on. You have… barely anything on,” he snickered.

Haha. Okay, fine, give me your jacket. You won’t be able to look at all of this anymore though.”

“That’s okay. It’ll also keep other men’s wandering eyes off of you,” he said, looking around like he was trying to spot these other men.

She lowered her voice, getting closer to him so the people walking around them wouldn’t overhear. “You’re the only one who gets the privilege of seeing and touching what’s underneath though, so don’t worry…”

“Don’t start talking like that out here, Maya,” he said, looking above her instead of down at the view she was giving him down the front of her dress. “You really are torturing me.” He stepped back and took off his jacket, helping her into it quickly. It wasn’t his regular suit jacket so it was much longer, the hem falling almost to her knees.

“Mmm warm.” She wrapped it around her, covering up her assets, thankfully for him.

Phoenix looked around, spotting another booth where the candy apples and caramel corn was being sold. “Maya, I’m going to head over there to get the Detective and Maggey’s stuff. Do you want anything from that booth?”

“I’ll have a candy apple too, please. Can I have some money?” she said, holding out her hand.

He dug out his wallet and handed her a twenty, then wandered off to the next booth. Maya stood in her line. It was by far the most popular booth there and she had a bit of a wait. By the time she was third in line all she could smell were apples and her mouth was watering, waiting for a bite of the deep fried slices covered in icing sugar. She was daydreaming about the first bite when an officer approached her. He was dressed in a regular uniform, not a costume.

“Excuse me, are you Miss Fey?”

She snapped out of her daydream and turned her head to him inquisitively. “Yes, that’s me.”

“You’re here with Phoenix Wright, correct?”

“I am.”

“Do you happen to know where he is? We got a call about his daughter, and another young girl she was with.”

Maya’s heart rate sped up. Had something happened to Trucy and Pearly? They had gone out alone after all. Maya stepped out of line, the food forgotten in her worry over the two girls. She looked over at the booth where Phoenix went, but he wasn’t there anymore. “I’m not sure where he is now,” she said, hand over her heart. “But please tell me, are they okay? The other girl she was with is my cousin Pearl, and I think of Trucy as a daughter.”

The officer looked guilty. “I’m so sorry, oh no, they’re both fine!”

Maya let go of the breath she had been holding. “Oh, good. You had me scared!”

“I’m sorry about that,” he said. “Er, actually, they’re fine physically but a few of our on duty officers were called about a noise complaint earlier tonight and had to go break up quite a large party at one of the foreclosed mansions near Global Studios. Your two girls were there along with a lot of other kids. They were taken in for trespassing, and they’re currently at the station waiting for their parents to come pick them up. The older one is eighteen apparently so we did tell her she could leave, but she wouldn’t go without Miss Wright, and we weren’t able to get ahold of Mr. Wright at his agency. Someone mentioned he’d probably be here with you.”

Maya’s mouth dropped open. It was almost unbelievable that Trucy and Pearl would do something like this, especially the shy and so well behaved Pearl. “Are you going to charge them?”

The officer looked uncomfortable, possibly realizing that he was talking to the girlfriend of a famous defense attorney known for only losing one case in his entire career. Not to mention said girlfriend was the Master of Kurain Village and had connections of her own. “There were a lot of kids there and they were two of only a handful that weren’t drunk, so they weren’t drinking underage either. I’m sure they’ll be let off with a warning.”

Maya smiled innocently, having no idea what her or Phoenix’s status meant to this officer. As far as she was concerned, he was just being nice to a couple of young girls that made a mistake. “That’s good to hear. Only, Nick and I can’t drive, so we can’t really leave to pick the girls up. Is there any way you could arrange to have them dropped off back at the Wright Anything Agency? We’ll take care of it once we get home.” Maya was doing them both a huge favour by deciding not to tell Phoenix right away. If he knew he would insist on leaving the party straightaway to deal with them both. They would owe her a lot of Halloween candy after this.

The officer tipped his hat to her. “I’m sure we can work that out. You’ll tell Mr. Wright about this, I assume?”

She nodded. “I will. Thank you so much, officer! We’ll be home soon to discipline them!” She tried sounding like the grown up she was supposed to be, but it came out sounding like she was joking around.

The officer either didn’t notice or didn’t care. “Great. You have a nice night then,” he said, waving as he walked away.

Maya turned back to the line for the apple slices, but she had lost her place and even for something so delicious she didn’t want to have to go to the back of the line, so she headed back towards the main entrance of the hotel instead. She would have to be okay with the candy apple Phoenix was getting her.


When she made it back inside Phoenix was already back at the table. “Thanks for waiting for me, Nick!” she scolded as she approached. He turned to her, and she could tell by the way he was smiling and the flush on his cheeks that he had somehow gotten into even more alcohol in the short time they were apart.

Edgeworth looked at her apologetically. “Sorry, Maya. I tried to tell him not to go overboard, but you know how he is.”

“Yeah, I know,” she sighed. She didn’t really mind, if she wanted to keep Trucy and Pearl’s little secret, it would be easier if he was blitzed, since he’d go to bed as soon as they got home and she could deal with them on her own. How he had ended up in such a state in the 20 or so minutes they were apart was beyond her.

“There was a booth out there selling hard cider,” Phoenix spoke up, as if reading her mind. “It’s so good! It’s like apple juice… but with alcohol. Do you want some?”

“No thanks, I’m good.”

“Oh, I got you your stuff though.”

“I saw. Thanks, Nick.” He must have forgotten what she actually wanted by the time he made it to the other booth, because there were a few extra things on the table. Her candy apple was there, along with a bag of cotton candy, her own bag of caramel corn, and a paper tray of the battered and icing sugar covered apple slices she was waiting in line for. She scrunched up her eyebrows.

“Nick, how the heck did you get these? I was waiting in that line for like fifteen minutes and I didn’t even get any because it was taking so long!” She picked one up and shoved it into her mouth. They were still hot, too.

He looked almost as confused as her as he watched her eat them. “I don’t know?”

She couldn’t hold back her giggle. Phoenix was one of the smartest people she knew, but when he drank he actually reminded her a lot of their good friend Larry Butz. “Well, thanks anyway. I really wanted some!”

“You’re welcome, honey.” He leaned towards her, nuzzling into her shoulder.

“Oh God,” she mumbled, patting his head. He only dragged out the pet names at times like this, or in bed. Maggey stifled a laugh from across the table.

There was a loud buzzing and a screech over the speakers, and a man dressed in a hot dog costume walked onto the stage. He held up the mic to his face, his lips practically touching it as he spoke.

“We’re going to announce the winners of the costume contest now. There are individual categories as well as couples. We’ll begin with the individual categories.”

The table sat quietly while the man on stage called out random names and different people approached the stage. Most of the winners Maya didn’t recognize, except for Simon Blackquill who climbed the steps of the stage with a scowl, winning the “cutest costume” category. She had a feeling that was all Athena’s doing. There were a lot of categories and each winner had a picture taken, so it took almost an hour before they got to the category Maya was really waiting for.

“Alright, the last category is the best couple’s costume.” He unfolded a piece of paper like he was presenting a very serious award. Anyone sitting close enough would have caught the look of confusion on his face, and he was heard mumbling “is this right?” to someone off stage. He shrugged at their response. “Well, whatever. Best couple’s costume goes to Phoenix Wright and Chief Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, dressed as… Chief Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth and Phoenix Wright?”

Phoenix choked on his newest drink, and Edgeworth sat bolt upright in his chair, looking around at the table. Maggey and Gumshoe both looked confused, but Maya was grinning.

“Well, go on, guys. Everyone is waiting,” she prodded.

“Ah! This was you!” Phoenix pointed a finger into her face, almost poking her cheek. “You nominated us!”

She swatted his hand away. “Can you blame me? You guys looked like you were wearing each other’s clothes the whole night. You looked cute! Oh and here, Nick.” She shrugged out of the Edgeworth jacket he gave her earlier and handed it back to him.

Edgeworth clapped Phoenix on the shoulder. “Let’s go, Wright. This is all fun and games anyway, and they never said the pair that won had to be in an actual relationship.” Phoenix got up, stumbling a bit and leaning onto Edgeworth for assistance. Edgeworth grimaced. “I hope you’re a little more sober before you get home. Maya won’t be able to carry you inside, you know.”

“I can walk just fine!” he said, pushing off of Edgeworth and attempting to make his way towards the stage. Edgeworth followed closely behind him.

Gumshoe and Maggey sat giggling to themselves as they watched them go. “I was kind of hoping we were gonna win, Mags,” Gumshoe told her.

“Maybe next year. This is way more amusing, I think.”

The room erupted into cheers and wolf whistles as the two men took the stage. They took their prize, a small plastic trophy, and a camera flashed, and they made their way back to the table as quickly as they could. Phoenix put his head face down in his arms on the table.

Edgeworth sat down gingerly, and handed the polaroid to Maya. Surprisingly, they were both smiling in the photo. The side of Phoenix’s mouth was pulled up in a half smirk, like he was trying not to smile but couldn’t help it, one arm thrown over Edgeworth’s shoulder for balance. Edgeworth had his arms crossed and eyes closed, but even he had a small smile on his face, making him look amused by the whole situation.

“I’ll make you a copy, Mr. Edgeworth,” she stated.

“Er, alright, thank you, Maya.”

Gumshoe yawned. “Well, I think Maggey and I will head home now. Our babysitter is probably getting a little tired. We should get home.”

Phoenix turned his head to Maya, still resting it on his arms. “Maya, can we leave too? I don’t feel that well.”

“This is why you shouldn’t drink when we go out, Nick. You’re such a lightweight.” She still needed to talk to Trucy and Pearl, so going home now would actually be a good thing, in case they tried to go to bed early to avoid a talking to. “But yes, we can go.”

“Detective, Maggey, have a good night,” Edgeworth said as Gumshoe and Maggey stood up to take their leave.

“It was so good seeing you guys again!” Maya hopped out of her seat to give them both another hug. “Maybe I’ll see you at a crime scene one of these days, Detective! I have a lot of work nowadays myself but I still like to go with Nick on investigations when I can.”

“Sounds good, pal. I actually kind of missed you and Mr. Wright pestering me at crime scenes.”

Edgeworth frowned. “You’re not still giving extra information to the defense now, are you, Detective?”

“N-No, sir!” Gumshoe said quickly, slapping a hand to his forehead in a salute.

Maggey cut in. “Maya, make sure you come visit us someday! I’d love for you and Mr. Wright to meet our boy.”

“We’ll be sure to. Have a good night! Get home safe!” They waved as they left.

Edgeworth turned to Maya. “Do you two need a ride home? As long as Wright doesn’t throw up in my car, I can take you.”

Maya put a hand on Phoenix’s shoulder. “Nick, you’re not gonna puke are you?” He shook his head slowly. “Okay. We’ll take you up on that offer, Mr. Edgeworth. But if you don’t mind, I need to make a phone call first. Can you watch him?”

Phoenix pouted. “I might be drunk but I’m not a kid, Maya.”

Edgeworth nodded to her and she moved over towards the refreshments stand where the music was quieter. There weren’t many people around since most of the food was gone now. She took out her cell phone and dialled the number for the Wright Anything Agency.

“Wright Anything Agency, Trucy Wright speaking.”

“Hey Trucy.”

There was a beat on the other end. “Heeeey, Maya…” She could hear some shuffling, and then another voice came over the phone.

“Mystic Maya! I’m so sorry!” Pearl shouted into the phone. “We were bad! You and Mr. Nick are probably so disappointed in us!” She heard her cousin make a sobbing noise. “We’re going to go to jail, aren’t we?! Mr. Nick won’t even want to defend us because our guilt is so obvious and he only defends good people!”

More shuffling, then Trucy’s voice. “Give me that, Pearl! …Sorry about that, Maya.”

“It’s okay, Trucy. Tell Pearly that Nick doesn’t know yet.”

Trucy spoke to Pearl for a moment, then back into the phone. “Okay. She’s calming down. But why didn’t you tell Daddy?”

“He’s a teensy bit drunk so I figured I could wait a little longer, but I’ll talk to you two when we get home, so make sure you’re not in bed when we get there. And don’t say anything to your dad about what happened, okay? Make sure you tell Pearly.”

“Alright, will do. Are you guys coming home now? It’s still pretty early.”

Maya sighed. “Yeah, Mr. Edgeworth is going to drive us so we won’t be long. I’ll see you then.”

“Bye!”

Maya hung up and made her way back over to Edgeworth. “We can go now. Come on, Nick.” She touched the back of his neck. “Let’s go.”

He got up, again reaching for Edgeworth for help. Edgeworth rolled his eyes but complied. He couldn’t very well let the slight Maya attempt to hold the much heavier Phoenix up on her own. Maya gathered up the food she hadn’t eaten yet and carried it out with them to Edgeworth’s car.


October 31st, 2028, 11:30 PM
Wright Anything Agency

“Edgeworth… You’re a great friend, you know that?”

Edgeworth attempted to hold back his smile as he walked down the hall towards the office with Phoenix leaning on him. “I’m aware, Wright. You told me that about ten times just on the ride home.”

“I really mean it.”

“I know you do.”

Maya walked behind them, carrying her food and smiling at the sweet scene in front of her. Phoenix would never be that open with Edgeworth while sober, but she knew that he meant what he said, even if he was saying it while drunk. Edgeworth stepped aside when they got to the door so she could open it for them. Trucy and Pearl were both seated on the couch inside, watching an old horror movie on the TV, their bags of Halloween candy on their laps. Both of them were changed out of their costumes and into pajamas.

“Daddy!” Trucy squealed, getting up to go to him. Pearl stayed where she was, avoiding all eye contact. “Did you have fun?” she asked knowingly.

“Oh, not now, sweetie,” Phoenix slurred, holding up a hand before she could hug him. “Daddy’s gotta go to bed.” Edgeworth let him go, but Phoenix had to grab onto the doorframe to steady himself.

Maya put a hand on Phoenix’s back and looked at Edgeworth sheepishly. “Mr. Edgeworth, do you mind?”

“I suppose not. Come on, Wright. We don’t want you killing yourself on the stairs.”

Trucy, Pearl and Maya all watched as the two men made their way upstairs, then Maya sat down on the couch beside Pearl, dumping her food onto the coffee table and helping herself to a mini chocolate bar from Pearl’s bag.

“M-Mystic Maya…” Pearl started.

“Just wait, Pearly. Let’s wait for Mr. Edgeworth to leave.” Trucy sat on the other couch opposite Maya and Pearl and dug back into her treat bag.

Edgeworth did come back eventually, looking a little flustered. “I think he’ll manage.” There was a loud bang from upstairs, causing everyone in the room to look up at the ceiling. “Well, I’ll be going now,” Edgeworth said quickly. “I’m sure he’s fine.” With that he left, closing the door behind him.

Maya got up, just to be sure. “Nick, are you dead?” she yelled up the stairs.

“Nnnnoo,” was the muffled reply.

Satisfied with that, she went back to her seat on the couch. “Alright, girls. Let’s make a deal.”

Pearl looked confused. “A deal? Don’t you want to punish us? We deserve it! Did you tell Mr. Nick yet?” Her eyes welled with tears. “He’ll be so disappointed!”

“Calm down, Pearly,” Maya said, patting her cousin on the back. “I’m not going to tell him. You just made a mistake and it’s your first offence, as far as I know at least. And the officer I talked to did say you guys weren't drinking, so I'm proud of you as far as that goes. Besides, Nick and I used to get into all sorts of places we weren't allowed to go. The trick is to not get caught,” she said, smiling at the girls' expressions. She didn't mention that all of these times were actually after Phoenix was disbarred and not for the sake of any investigations, unless investigating each other counted.

Trucy leaned forward, steepling her fingers in front of her face like she was making a very serious business deal. “What do you want in exchange?”

Maya grinned. “Half of your Halloween candy. From both of you.”

Trucy flung herself back into the couch cushions. “You drive a hard bargain, but fine, I’m in.”

Pearl nodded quickly. “Me too. I feel a little bad lying to Mr. Nick but… what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right?”

“Right!” Trucy said quickly. “Thank you, Maya! You’re the best!”

“I know, I know. Now I’m going to go make sure Nick didn’t hurt himself, and go to bed. You two finish your movie. Make sure I have my own bag of candy by morning.”

The two girls nodded furiously at her as she made her way upstairs.


November 1st, 2028, 10:04 AM
W
right Anything Agency

Phoenix groaned, rolling over and burying his face further into his pillow. He went overboard last night, that was for sure. He did remember the haunted maze and going outside to get food with Maya. Everything after that was a bit of a blur, including how they got home and up the stairs, let alone how he managed to change out of his costume and into a t-shirt to sleep in.

He rolled onto his back again. The little bit of light making its way through the curtains made him squint, and he sat up, groaning against the headache growing between his eyes. He needed coffee, badly. He was about to get out of bed when the door opened, and Maya walked in, two cups of it in her hands and a bag hanging from her wrist.

“Look who’s awake!” she said, a little too loudly for his hungover self.

He lifted a finger to his lips. “Ssh, Maya, please.”

“Oh, sorry,” she said, voice dropping to a whisper. She handed one of the coffees to him and sat the other one on her side table. She pulled the bag onto the bed with her as she sat down cross-legged beside him.

“What’s that?” he asked after taking a sip of his own drink.

“Oh, this? Pearly and Trucy just decided to be nice and share their candy with me.”

“Huh? How did you convince them to do that?”

“I didn’t have to convince them, they both just love me so much, and they felt bad that I never got to go trick-or-treating when I was a kid.”

“Oh… okay then.”

Maya smiled. “How are you feeling, mister?”

“Like absolute crap.”

“I figured.”

“Why didn’t you stop me? What the hell did I drink last night?”

“Well, you found a booth selling hard cider outside and after that you just sort of kept ordering whatever for the rest of the night. By the way, do you remember this at all?” She picked up the polaroid of the costume contest that she had laid on the bedside table the night before.

He took it from her and squinted at it. “I got nothing. Why did we have our picture taken?”

“You won a costume contest. Best couple.”

“You’re joking.”

“Nope.”

He handed the picture back to her and sighed. “I’m never drinking that much again.”

“You know what else you didn’t get to do because you were too drunk last night?”

“Hm?”

She gave him a sultry look. “Help me out of my costume.”

He stared at her blankly for a moment, then reached out to lovingly stroke her hair. “You know how much I love you, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

He pouted. “So you’ll wear it again for me?”

She laughed. “We’ll see. Just work on feeling better today.”

He nodded. “Fine. Got any ibuprofen?”

“I’ll go get you some.”

“Thank you.”

She got up and left the room to go to the bathroom cabinet. He put his coffee on his side table and laid back down, closing his eyes against the streaks of sunlight again. “I’m really not drinking that much ever again,” he mumbled to himself.

Chapter Text

November 6th, 2028, 6:00 PM
Wright Anything Agency

"Daddy! Look at this! I think I've found the perfect house for us!" Trucy's eyes were practically sparkling as she scrolled through the real estate website she found on Phoenix's computer.

Phoenix looked over at his daughter, knowing full well that Trucy didn't exactly have a good grasp of what they could afford or needed, so most of her 'perfect houses' were no more than fantasies that Phoenix could never hope to fulfill on his and Maya's budget. Still, it didn't hurt to take a look seeing as most of the places they had looked at so far were either way out of their price range or just didn't seem right, and it had been over a month since Maya originally put forth the idea that they should finally live together. As of now, she was still travelling back and forth between Kurain Village and L.A., and she and Phoenix were still spending weeks at a time apart from each other.

He got up from the couch where he was watching the evening news and moved behind the desk to peer at the computer screen over Trucy's shoulder. "Seriously, Daddy, this one might be it," she said, scrolling down the page a bit to the description.

Phoenix furrowed his eyebrows. "Five bedrooms? What do we need five bedrooms for? We need three, tops. One for you, one for Pearls, and one for Maya and I. And Pearls won't even be staying with us all the time." Pearl had decided that with Maya planning on moving out of Fey Manor and using it purely for channeling and tourism, she would make it her responsibility as the heir to take care of the manor in Maya's absence.

Trucy turned to him with big eyes. "But… what if you want to give me three or four little brothers or sisters someday? They'll need their own rooms too." Phoenix rolled his eyes, but she continued on. "Until then, we can use the extra rooms for my extra magic props and you could have your own office or Maya could have her own retreat for her spiritual stuff!" She tapped her finger on the computer screen. "Plus, look. It's located almost exactly between the office and Kurain Village, so you and Maya can both get to work within an hour. It's such a nice spot! Not too far away but not right in the city either."

He glanced at the pictures. It did look nice from the outside. It was a large two story farmhouse, painted a faded blue colour, with a porch surrounding it. As far as he could tell from the pictures, there weren't many neighbours and it was located in a lush green area close enough to Kurain that you could even see the mountains faintly in the distance.

"Hm. But how much is it?"

"It doesn't say. You have to contact the real estate agent."

"I'll talk to Maya about it, but don't get too excited, Truce. It's so big, and five bedrooms? We probably can't afford it." It wasn't as if they had a super meagre budget, Maya was the Master in Kurain Village now and had quite a sum of money saved up, and the agency was doing well enough that for once they weren't wanting for money, but they weren't exactly filthy rich either, and a house that large would surely cost a fortune.

"Aw, alright. Wouldn't it be nice though?" she said, gazing back at the computer screen longingly.

He ruffled her hair. "Yeah. At this point I just want anything that'll let us live together and be an actual family."

"Me too," she sighed. "I can't wait to live with Maya. She makes you so happy! I can tell that you're sad when she has to go back to Kurain. And she's so cool! It'll be nice to have her around all the time."

He gave her a quick hug. "I could never be unhappy as long as you're around, Truce, but yeah, I miss Maya a lot when she's not here. We'll find somewhere though, don't worry."

She nodded, getting up out of the computer chair. "I'm gonna go practice some of my magic now. I'll be sure not to set the fire alarm off again."

"Please don't play with fire at all, Truce!" he called as she left the room. She wouldn't listen, but he had to warn her anyway. Sighing, he sat down in her vacated seat and took another look at the website, getting a notepad from the desk drawer and jotting down the real estate agent's number, as well as the address to the house. It was worth a shot. It probably would be too expensive, but he wouldn't know unless he called.


November 6th, 2028, 10:00 PM
Wright Anything Agency

"Five bedrooms?!" Maya said incredulously. "Nick, no offense, you know I love her, but Trucy's picks for houses are just not realistic, you know that. There's no way we can afford that."

He let out a breath that could've been a sigh or a laugh as he sat down on the edge of his bed. "I know, she's just excited. But I did already call the real estate agent and she assured me it's within our price range."

"Then there must be something wrong with it!"

He moved the phone to his other ear. "But it wouldn't hurt to check it out, Maya. It's in a perfect spot. You never know."

"Hmm, I guess you're right. I won't get my hopes up though! Everything we've looked at so far has been terrible."

"The real estate agent already said she could show us tomorrow if we're available. My next trial isn't until the day after, but I've done all the preparing I can do, so I'm available."

"Me too. I don't have any channelings for a few days either. Seems nobody has died recently."

"Don't jinx it. She's going to drive us, so can you come to the office? Sorry for making you do all the travelling, but she's in the city."

"It's alright, Nick. At least I'll get to see you, even if this doesn't pan out!"

"You said you don't have channelings for a few days, sooo does that mean you'll be staying the night?"

"Is that all you think about?" She paused. "…But yes."

He laughed. "Alright, I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Mhmm. Bye for now!"


November 7th, 2028, 4:00 PM
Somewhere Between Kurain Village and L.A.

"Wow," Maya breathed as she stood beside Phoenix in the front yard of the home Trucy had found the day before. "Do you think this is it, Nick?"

Maya was used to living in her large home back in Kurain Village, aptly named Fey Manor, but this old farmhouse seemingly in the middle of nowhere was making her feel something akin to awe. It wasn't the size or the location, simply the fact that unlike all of the other homes and apartments they had looked at, she seemed to be able to envision herself here. More importantly, she could envision herself here with Phoenix and Trucy and Pearl, and possibly even future children, if they did decide to expand the Fey-Wright family someday. She would have to apologize to Trucy for thinking her choices were all bad.

She stepped closer to him, allowing him to wrap an arm around her waist, which he used to pull her against his side. "I don't know," he replied. He sounded just as enraptured as she did. "It could be."

The young real estate agent they had hired, Mindy Holmes, approached with a smile, her high heels clicking on the pavement of the driveway. "One of my favourite things about this job is selling a first home to couples like yourself," she said, noting the expressions on her clients' faces. "A lot of couples just seem to know when they've found the right place."

"We haven't even seen the inside yet," Phoenix said, finally tearing his eyes away from it, realizing that as much as they liked the outside, the inside could be another story.

"I think you'll like it," Mindy stated. "It's already been inspected and everything is safe and up to date. Any work that needs to be done is purely cosmetic, like paint or new flooring if you're so inclined. And we can work all of those into the price if you do decide to make an offer. It's also been on the market for quite a while, which means the owners are willing to sell quickly. Most people I've shown it to didn't want it just because of the location."

"In our case, the location is perfect," Phoenix explained. "We both work pretty far apart, so we have to compromise and live somewhere in between."

"Well then shall we?" Mindy said. "You should probably see the inside before making any decisions."

Maya nodded furiously, taking a step away from Phoenix and following Mindy up the steps to the front door.

"Here we are. Feel free to take a look around without me," Mindy said, holding the door open and allowing her clients to enter. "If you have any questions about anything, I'll be in the living room."

They stepped into a foyer together, and Maya's smile widened. Mindy headed down the hall and to the right, where the living room was located. A kitchen was through a wide archway to their left.

They walked through the kitchen first, which boasted an island in the middle and stainless steel appliances, surprisingly modern for such an old house. Through the room and out the other side was a hallway with a staircase, which Maya dragged Phoenix up by the wrist.

The first bedroom they entered was quite large, with worn wood floors and a large window, with an ensuite bathroom. "Nick… this is our room," Maya said, never letting go of his hand.

He mostly kept quiet, letting Maya drag him around and gush about where certain things would go or who would get what room, and what the extras would be used for. By the time they were finished, he was sure she already had her heart set on it.

They entered the living room last, where Mindy was standing tapping away at her smartphone. She looked up as they entered. "Have you two finished?"

"It's all so lovely," Maya said, glancing around the living room as well. "I can't believe it's within our budget. The kitchen looked so new."

"Oh, yes. It was recently redone, but as you could see, the rest of the house is original. Some touch ups may be needed."

"I loved it," Maya said. "Some extra work is fine, we can make it more our own that way."

The young agent smiled at her. "Like I said, it's the location most people dislike, and the home owners have already lowered the price significantly since it's been on the market so long. Did you have any questions?"

Maya looked at Phoenix, as if prompting him to ask any questions. He shrugged at her. "I don't really. Did you have anything to ask, Maya?"

"No. I think we just need to go home and talk it over."

He was pretty sure he already knew what Maya wanted, but they could discuss it at home in private before making any big decisions. They left the house to head back to Mindy's car. She told them a bit more about the home as well as the location on the drive back, and by the time they were back to Mindy's office, Maya was even more excited than she had been before.

"Thank you so much, Mindy," Maya said, shaking her hand. "We'll talk to you soon!" She waved as she headed out the doors to wait for Phoenix on the sidewalk since they were only walking distance from Phoenix's own office.

He offered a hand as well, which Mindy shook politely. "I think you'll be hearing from us a lot sooner than you think," he said, glancing through the window at Maya.

Mindy smiled. "Just let me know whenever you make a decision. It's not going anywhere."

Once outside, Maya grabbed his hand in hers, swinging it between them as they walked. Maya seemed to be deliberately slowing down whenever they passed any sort of restaurant. "Maya?"

"Yeees?"

"Do you want to get food before we go home?"

She grinned at him. "You read my mind, Nick!"


November 8th, 2028, 8:20 PM
Wright Anything Agency

"Welcome home, guys!" Athena exclaimed as Phoenix held the door to the office open for Maya to enter. They both looked up in surprise, not expecting her to be there. She was sitting on the couch beside Trucy, who was stuffing her mouth full of pizza and could only smile through her mouthful.

"What are you doing here, Athena?" Phoenix asked absently, taking his jacket off and throwing it over the back of his office chair. Even if Athena was technically his employee, she was also one of Trucy's best friends, and at this point he was used to his office being used as a hangout spot, but he was curious nonetheless.

"Well, I finished work, so Trucy begged me to help her practice some magic tricks," she said, shooting a glare at Trucy and holding up the end of her ponytail, which had a visible black singe.

Maya giggled, but Phoenix gave Trucy a look of his own, making her shrink back into the couch. How many times had he told her no fire?!

Athena, noting the look on Phoenix's face and wanting to save Trucy from a talking to, plowed ahead. "I'm fine! I agreed to do it. Anyway, by the time we were finished we were starving so we decided to get a pizza. So I guess I'm just hanging out now. Do you want some? We have quite a bit of extra."

Phoenix glanced down at the pizza, which was covered in possibly every topping available, including anchovies and olives. "No thanks," he said. "We ate while we were out."

"Speak for yourself, Nick," Maya said, pushing past and grabbing a slice.

"How was house hunting?" Trucy said, finally swallowing her mouthful. "Was the house I found worth heading out there for?"

Maya tried to clap her hands together in her excitement, but almost squished her pizza. She settled for holding it properly and nodding. "Oh, Trucy! Thank you for finding it!"

"That good?!"

"Yeah, it was really great, right Nick?"

He sat down beside her, lifting an arm to allow her to snuggle into his side. "Yeah, I think we're going to make an offer."

"Really, Daddy?! That's so great!"

"Hey, Boss, what's going to happen with the upstairs apartment here once you're moved out? Isn't it part of the office?" Athena asked, grabbing another slice of pizza for herself.

"Maya and I talked about that. The landlord said that as long as we're going to continue paying for the office space, the apartment upstairs is ours to keep. He can't really rent it out separately, and I'm not sure I'm that comfortable with a stranger living so closely to all of the confidential information we have in here anyway, even if we can lock the door between here and the stairs to the apartment."

"So it'll be empty?"

He shrugged. "Yeah, for now. As much as I hate to admit my little girl is growing up, Trucy will be going to college soon, so I figured she could live here when she does, so she doesn't have to live on campus." He looked over at Trucy. "You could also stay here on the nights you have magic shows, if you want. That way you don't have to take the bus home late."

"That's a great idea, Daddy! The house is almost an hour away from here, right? So if you get it, we'll have to be travelling back and forth a lot. This could really help save on bus fare, and gas when I finally get my licence!"

"Umm, I have a question," Athena said, raising her hand slightly.

Phoenix raised an eyebrow. "What is it?"

"There are two bedrooms here, right?" He nodded, not sure where Athena was going with this. She continued. "Could I… possibly stay here too? I can pay half of the rent, for the upstairs portion and utilities and all that. You wouldn't mind having me as a roommate would you, Trucy?" she said, turning to the girl beside her.

Trucy grinned. "Of course not! We'd have girl's night every night!"

Athena looked back at Phoenix. "I'll happily pay whatever you need to help cover the rent, especially if Trucy isn't a full time occupant."

Maya looked up at him. "What do you say, Nick? You won't have to worry about anyone getting into the office that we don't completely trust."

"I don't see why not," he said, looking over at Athena. "Can I ask why, though? Don't you have an apartment now?"

She wrung her hands together in her lap, and Widget turned red around her neck. "My current roommate is ditching me to go live with her boyfriend, and I can't afford the rent on my own anymore. It was pretty hard to cover even with a roommate."

"I'm sorry to hear that. As long as we do get the house, you're welcome to stay here, Athena."

She grinned. "Thanks, Boss. I hope you guys do get it, but not for my sake. You've been looking for a while now, haven't you?"

Maya heaved a sigh and sat up, pulling out from under Phoenix's arm and reaching for the pizza again. "It's been almost two months we've been looking, and all of them except for this one have been just awful!" she explained. "If we don't get this place I'm just going to force Nick to move into Fey Manor with me." She looked at him. "You'll just have to get your licence so you can drive here every day."

He snorted. "Why don't you move here and you get your licence?"

"Because Fey Manor is huge, Nick. Do you know how big my bedroom is alone? Wait, what am I saying, of course you do." Athena and Trucy both groaned at the implication. Maya stifled a laugh. "Well, it's bigger than this whole office, and there are so many guest rooms not being used for anything except storage or as makeshift channeling chambers."

"I think it'd be nice to live in Kurain," Trucy put in. "Sort of like a vacation every day, but I don't think a two hour train ride to work every day is practical."

"Right you are, Trucy," Phoenix agreed. "But neither is a two hour train ride into Kurain for channeling, especially with some of the more important people Maya has as clients. She needs to make sure she can get there easily."

"So we all agree we need to get this place," Maya said. "We should go call Mindy right now, Nick."

He stretched, getting up and helping Maya up as well. "Alright. We're going to head upstairs. I'll see you tomorrow for our trial, Athena." With Apollo gone, Athena had been forced into assisting Trucy with her magic shows more often than doing her job as a lawyer, which made Phoenix feel guilty. Since Maya was often busy with her Master's duties and didn't have the chance to assist him as often as she used to, he made a point of bringing Athena along as his co-counsel during his own trials. Her Mood Matrix was always a big help, but even after all these years, it still felt better just to have someone stand with him at the defense's bench than to be alone.

She gave him a mock salute. "Yep! I'll be there with Widget to help you out!"

Maya waved as she followed Phoenix to the rarely used upstairs living area. Everyone usually spent their time in the office, so all the room had in it was a light, a few chairs and a coffee table, and a bookshelf with various fictional books that Mia had left behind, instead of law books. Maya pulled her cell phone out and shoved it into Phoenix's hands, jumping into one of the chairs and folding her legs under her. "Call her Nick, call her, call her, call her!"

"Why do I have to do it?" he said, taking the phone from her regardless.

"Because you're a lawyer and good with words."

"Don't you have really important, high profile clients that you can't even tell me about? How do you talk to them?"

She smiled sweetly. "I don't. Since I'm the Master, I'm kind of mysterious," she said, wiggling her fingers at him. "Usually one of the Village Elders will speak with the client and then lead them into the channeling chamber where I am. I pretty much only ask them the name of the deceased, ask for a picture so I can visualize them, and then channel. The spirit and client do the rest, and the Elder will ring a little bell from outside to let them know when their time is almost up."

"Huh. I'm so used to seeing casual channeling that I never really thought about how you keep up your whole mysterious spirit medium gig with the general public."

She shrugged. "Yeah, it's all for show. If people knew I could channel anyone anywhere, we'd be even more swamped with people wanting to speak to their departed loved ones. Don't get me wrong, I love being able to give people that last talk they didn't get to have when they were alive, but I don't think I could handle being anymore busy than I already am."

"Well, hopefully we get this place," he said, dialling Mindy's number and leaning on the arm of the chair Maya was sitting in. "Then we can finally relax."

"We'll have a home," Maya sighed. "Both of us. Together."

Phoenix smiled and reached out to stroke her hair as he listened to the ringing of the phone on the other end. He stopped abruptly when the line was answered. Maya could only hear his half of the conversation.

"Hey, Mindy. Yeah, it's Phoenix Wright." He glanced at Maya as he listened to what Mindy was saying. "Yeah, well you were right when you said some people just seem to know when they've found the right place, because we want to make an offer on that house."


November 8th, 2028, 8:07 AM
Wright Anything Agency

Phoenix pulled his suit jacket on and checked his watch, desperately wishing he could stay home with Maya for the day, but Athena would be waiting at the courthouse and he was already late. His client was a young college student who cried at the drop of a hat and was not very forthcoming with information (reminding Phoenix of himself in his college days), but he was sure the kid didn't do it. Not because of his magatama or the young man's statement, but because he was so much of a crybaby that Phoenix couldn't fathom him actually being able to strangle someone with his bare hands, as the autopsy report stated was the cause of death. He couldn't very well hang the kid out to dry, even if Maya was sleeping in his bed wearing nothing but a very thin and short chemise.

He leaned over Maya on her side of the bed, brushing her hair away from her face to kiss her on the cheek. He didn't mean to wake her, but she groaned and reached up to wrap her arm around his neck. He put a hand down on the bed to stop himself from toppling on top of her as she yanked on his neck, surprisingly strong for just being woken up.

"Maya… I have to go to work."

She reached her other arm up too, using them both to pull his head down to her, her eyes fluttering open. "No, stay with me."

His face was only inches away from hers, and she held him there. "Believe me, I want to, but I can't. Athena is waiting for me, and so is my client."

"That crybaby you told me about? I guess he needs you more than I do right now…"

He closed the last few inches to peck her on the lips. "Yeah, he's innocent. I really have to go. Make sure you answer the phone today in case Mindy calls, okay?"

She dropped her arms from his neck. "Yeah, I know," she mumbled, eyes closing again.

"I love you," he said, prompting her with a light poke in her side.

She squirmed away, swatting at him. "Love you too. Now let me go back to sleep."

He stood up, smiling as she pulled the blankets back up to her chin and moved into the middle of the bed where she spread out to enjoy the room his absence gave her.


November 10th, 2028, 3:15 PM
District Courthouse, Defendant Lobby No. 2

"Oh, thank you Mr. Wright! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" the young man sobbed. Phoenix reached out to pat him on the shoulder, but instead the college student flung himself at Phoenix, hugging him and continuing to sob into his shoulder.

He looked helplessly at Athena over the client's shoulder and she snorted laughter. She was just happy that it was Phoenix getting the hug and not her. He proceeded to pat the student on the back instead, giving him an awkward squeeze and then firmly but politely pushing him away. He smoothed his jacket out. "You're very welcome."

Athena stepped forward and handed the client a tissue, which he noisily blew his nose into. He turned to her, enveloping her in a hug too. Phoenix smirked at her, not bothering to rescue her, and took out his phone to check for missed calls or texts from Maya. It had been a long trial, with only one short recess in which he had no time to check his phone, even though it had been vibrating in his pocket all day. He hurriedly went to the first message when he saw that he had nine missed calls and almost twice as many text messages. All it said was "pick up", with an angry emoticon, and another that looked like a party popper.

"Mr. Taylor, I need to go take a call." He turned to the client, who Athena was currently unwrapping herself from. "Can you stay here with Ms. Cykes until the bailiff comes to bring you back to the Detention Centre? They'll need to have you sign some papers and things before you'll be let out."

He nodded, still wiping his nose with the tissue. Phoenix left the defendant's lobby, not making it more than two steps before he heard Maya's voice cut through the noise as she spotted him.

"NIIIIIIICK!"

He didn't even see her coming through the throngs of people milling around the courthouse hallway, and was knocked off balance when she quite literally pounced on him, toppling them both onto the floor. The file folder full of information from the court record he was holding slid across the floor, the papers leaving it and scattering, and people turned to stare at the commotion.

"Oooow," he groaned, sitting up. Maya was sprawled in his lap and he grabbed her by the shoulders, pushing her up into a kneeling position. "Are you okay? What are you doing, Maya?" He looked around self consciously at the people raising their eyebrows at them, some snickering behind their hands. "It's no wonder people still don't take me seriously around here."

She got back to her feet and gave him a hand up, her smile never leaving her face. "Oh, Nick. What's that word Mr. Edgeworth always uses? … Shenanigans! Everyone is used to your shenanigans!" She looked around and anyone that was still watching them started to disperse. "See? Once they realized it was just you, they went back to minding their own business."

He brushed himself off. "What are you doing here, anyway? And what was with all the missed calls and texts? You knew I was in a trial." He bent down to swipe the folder off the floor and began picking up the scattered papers.

"Nick, we're moving!"

"Huh?" he said, flipping through the folder once he'd collected the information. He was glad the trial was over, because the papers inside were all out of order. He frowned. Now he would have to go back through the case file at the office before being able to stuff it into a filing cabinet to forget about. Maya punched him lightly on the shoulder, making him look up. "Ouch. What was that for?"

"Are you paying attention? Mindy called, and the home owners accepted our offer!"

"Oh," he said simply, then his eyes widened almost comically, as if her words hadn't made sense to him right away. "Wait, really?!"

She clapped her hands together. "Yes! We're home owners! We can move in whenever we want!"

"That's great! Maya… I really can't wait."

She flung herself into his arms and he hugged her back as best as he could with his hands full. "Me neither. So what are we going to do to celebrate, Nick?"

"The same thing you always want to do, go out to dinner?"

"You got it." She stood on tip toes to kiss him lightly, but he surprised her by pulling her tightly against him, his lips crushing hers. He didn't care who, if anyone, was still watching them. She made a surprised noise, but eventually melted into him, arms wrapping around his neck.

Athena exited the defendant's lobby with the client being led by a bailiff to head back to the Detention Centre. She spied her boss and Maya only a few steps from the door, locked in a passionate kiss. She didn't want to interrupt, but it would only get weirder and more awkward the longer she waited, so she cleared her throat as she approached. "Get a room, you two."

They pulled apart breathlessly, and Phoenix rubbed the back of his neck. "Oops, I got a bit carried away."

Maya wiped the corner of her lips with a finger, then laughed awkwardly. "Yeah, you're not usually one for PDA."

"Sorry, I'm just excited."

"What's going on?" Athena inquired. "What's got you so happy, aside from not having to ever see our client again?"

"We got the house!" Maya blurted out.

Athena grinned, Widget lighting up green to reflect her mood. "That's great, Maya! I'm really happy for both of you."

"And because you'll get to live in the apartment above the office now?" Maya smirked.

It was Athena's turn to look embarrassed. "Well, that's definitely a plus for me. But really, I'm just glad for you two."

"Thanks, Athena. Do you want to join us for dinner? We have to pick up Trucy, and I called Pearly too, so she'll be joining us," Maya said, glancing up at Phoenix.

He nodded. "You're welcome to come, if you want to."

"Oh, I don't know. Isn't it sort of a family thing?" she said.

Maya moved forward and wrapped an arm around Athena's waist since she was too short to throw it around her shoulders. Athena was a bit surprised at the contact. She hadn't spoken to Maya all that often since she came back from Khura'in, only enough for Maya to tell her not to keep calling her Ms. Fey like she was some old lady, but Maya was not a shy person at all. Athena glanced at her boss, who was only smiling at the two of them.

"Yes, and you're family!" Maya said. "Anyone who works for the Wright Anything Agency is family, right Nick?"

He nodded. "I thought you would've realized that by now, Athena."

Athena blushed as Maya started pulling her down the hallway. When she accepted Phoenix's offer to work for him before she had even passed the Bar exam, she never would have thought she would come to love everyone in the office in so short a time, yet here she was.

"Come on," Maya was saying. "Nick's buying."

"Well, if you insist," she said, falling into step beside Maya.

Phoenix rolled his eyes. Dinner with four girls who could absolutely pack it away despite their small statures? At times like this he really wished Apollo was still around.


November 15th, 2028, 5:15 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

Maya looked up as Phoenix entered the bedroom, face hidden behind the large box he was carrying. He set it down on the floor in front of her and moved to sit on the bed where he leaned back on his hands to take a breather. The room was filled with cardboard boxes, some half empty, some not even opened yet, and Maya was sitting in the middle of them haphazardly taking items out and studying them, then setting them down somewhere else.

"I think that's it for our stuff in here," Phoenix said. All the furniture in the room had been set where they wanted it by movers, but Maya wasn't really putting things away as she took them out of the boxes, instead she was just placing them around her so she was surrounded by a circle of stuff. Most of it was from Fey Manor, since Phoenix's bedroom in the apartment above the office had been pretty sparse decoration wise. Maya seemed determined to make this master bedroom into an actual retreat and not just somewhere for them to retire to at the end of the day, so she brought everything from her bedroom in Fey Manor, which she said was set up to give the Master the positive energy she needed to keep up with her duties.

He was fine with letting Maya do her thing in the bedroom, not really caring what it looked like. At this point he wouldn't even have cared if she had decided to hang Steel Samurai posters on the walls, he was just happy they finally had somewhere to call their own. Trucy and Pearl had also chosen their bedrooms and were both in the process of helping each other get settled in.

Maya shoved one box aside and reached forward to drag the box he'd just brought in towards her. She used a tiny utility knife to slice through the tape keeping it closed and pulled out some packing paper, then reached inside to yank out more glass figures and tiny statues and other random things from her bedroom in Fey Manor.

"Maya, why don't you take a break?" Phoenix said, watching her pull items out one by one.

"No way, there's still so much to unpack!"

"Are you going to put any of that stuff away though, or just keep setting it on the floor? You told me not to touch anything, so I'm not, but if you want help you can just tell me where to put it-"

She gasped suddenly, interrupting him, and pulled an old book out of the bottom of the box. "Look what I found, Nick!"

"Hm? What is it?"

She got up from the floor and sat down on the edge of the bed beside him. "It's my old scrapbook, remember?"

He smiled. "Oh yeah. Wow, I haven't seen this in a while. Isn't that the scrapbook you used to collect all of those newspaper articles and things about me back when I was still a rookie attorney? You didn't tell me about it for years."

"Not until after we got together. I was too embarrassed. Gosh, I had such a crush on you back then, no way was I going to tell you I was keeping all of these newspaper clippings as mementos of our cases together. That would've made it obvious I liked you."

"And that would've been terrible," he teased.

She raised an eyebrow. "Need I remind you I was only seventeen when we met? You were just some teenaged fantasy back then. The forbidden older man that I would never actually be with! Who would've thought."

She made him sound like he'd been some sort of sexy, out-of-her-league, beating-off-women-with-a-stick man when he was younger, which he certainly was not. Still, knowing that Maya had always thought highly of him did boost his confidence, even now. "I had no idea you felt like that back then, so I really never would've guessed." He paused and thought for a moment. "Actually, I did have some suspicions when I showed up in Kurain Village and Pearls knew all about me and somehow had this idea that I was your special someone. I mean, wherever did she get that idea from?"

Maya actually blushed. "Well… I had to gush to someone. I guess my eight-year-old cousin wasn't the best option, since kids can't keep their mouths shut."

He chuckled and put an arm around her to lean closer as she opened the book up. The first page was an old newspaper article from back in 2016. It described Phoenix's first win against Edgeworth, and the first time he had saved her. She smiled fondly at it. It brought back a mixture of good and bad memories. Of course it was a reminder of her sister's death and murder trial in which Maya herself was the defendant, but it was also a reminder of her first few days with Phoenix, and how he saved her without even knowing her. When she felt completely alone and abandoned, he had been there for her and had taken on her case without even knowing her.

She flipped through a few more pages, passing by the articles describing his defense of the Steel Samurai, Will Powers, which had garnered quite a lot of media attention due to the popularity of the show at the time. The DL-6 case when he had helped Edgeworth and taken down the 40 years undefeated Manfred von Karma was next, with the picture that Lotta Hart had taken of everyone in the courthouse hallway after their win pasted underneath.

The further she got the more often she would pass photos that had nothing at all to do with their cases. Instead they were pictures she took herself, or other people had taken for them on their outings. They showed just how much their relationship had progressed over the years, even when they were still only friends.

There was a picture from the Berry Big Circus of Pearl on Phoenix's shoulders a few days before taking on the defense of Max Galactica, both of them grinning. Some photo booth strips from Gatewater Land, which Maya remembered insisting on having taken. Phoenix looked serious or annoyed in the first few, with Maya and Pearl on either side of him making silly faces into the camera, but by the end he hadn't been able to hold back his own smile. A copy of the group picture Larry had drawn after the incident at Hazakura Temple was pasted in as well, and it was surprisingly well done. Even though all of their friends were in the picture too, Maya, Phoenix, and Pearl were at the forefront, making it look like a tiny family photo.

Maya rested her head against his shoulder. "Don't we look cute?"

"Mhm. What's next?" She flipped the page once more, but this one was blank. "What's supposed to be here? Did something fall out?"

She shook her head and flipped to the very end of the book, where a loose newspaper clipping was stuck between the last two pages. "No. I never pasted this one in, but I left the page blank anyway... where it would've been. Whenever I showed the scrapbook to you, I would just leave this article in the box under my bed."

He slipped the article from between the pages to read the heading. "Oh," he said flatly. The heading was large, a front page article that read:

RENOWNED DEFENSE ATTORNEY PHOENIX WRIGHT
ACCUSED OF FORGING EVIDENCE IN STATE V. ENIGMAR CASE

"This was how I found out," Maya explained. "Remember? I came to see you that day, right after Pearly brought the paper inside. I don't really know why I kept it. I didn't put it in because I wanted this book to be good memories, but it was still a part of your life, and part of the beginning of our relationship, and I just couldn't bring myself to throw it away. Sorry, Nick."

"It's okay," he said. "You should add it to the blank page. It's something that happened and we got through it together. Besides, I'm back now, right?"

She smiled at his optimism. "Right, after seven long years."

He shrugged. "Add it in later. I want to see the next page."

She flipped, and they both stared at the picture.

"When was this?" Phoenix asked. The picture looked like a selfie Maya had taken from her phone while laying in bed. Phoenix was beside her, an arm thrown across her and his face nuzzled into the space between her neck and shoulder, completely hiding it from view. She was smiling sweetly, her head tilted towards him slightly.

Maya giggled. "I remember taking this! You told me to delete it after you woke up, but I never did. How could I? It was almost a year after your disbarment, I think. Not long after we finally figured things out between us."

"Don't you look smug in this picture," he said. Her smile was sweet but there was a hint of pride there too.

"Nah. I was mostly just really happy." She sighed dreamily, leaning against him on the bed. He placed a soft kiss on top of her hair and reached out to flip the page to another picture of the two of them standing together in front of a waterfall in Kurain Village, one of Maya's many training spots. The setting was beautiful, with the sunlight flickering off the water behind them and the lush greens of the trees around them, but all he could focus on was Maya. She was beautiful, with her eyes closed in the midst of laughter, her hands on his arms as he wrapped them around her shoulders from behind, his chin resting on her head.

"Pearly took this," Maya said. "This was before she knew about us, and she was so excited you were holding me like that. I was just pretending I was cold."

"I remember. I wanted to tell her more than anything…"

"Me too. I think she may have known, or had her suspicions though. I mean… Look at us."

"She's always been a smart girl. She may have bugged us about being special someones for years, but I think she knew there was a reason we kept denying it over and over by this point." Pearl had even stopped bothering them about it altogether for a long while, almost as if she knew they didn't actually need anymore prompting.

"We should copy some of these pictures," he said suddenly. "Put them in frames around the house. There are so many." He took the book out of her hands to flip through it faster. After the blank pages that indicated the beginning of his disbarment, there were no more newspaper articles. There were only photos filling the pages. The pictures made his heart swell with love for all three of his girls, and also proved that even though those seven years had been hard, they still had their good moments, and they had all been worth it for what he had now.

"That's a good idea," Maya replied, watching the photos she had painstakingly glued to the pages for years flip by in front of her as Phoenix turned the pages. The last page that had anything on it was another newspaper article. It was the last thing Maya had pasted into the book before leaving to go to Khura'in Kingdom. The article was another front pager, with a heading just as large as the last one. She couldn't help laughing at the ridiculousness of it, though. It read:

ORCA WHALE AT SHIPSHAPE AQUARIUM ACCUSED OF MURDERING OWNER

Underneath the heading, the article explained simply:

Phoenix Wright, a famous defense attorney who had been accused of fraud and disbarred seven years ago will take Orla Shipley's case in his first trial since regaining his attorney's badge after accusations were overturned.

"I can't believe you defended a whale for your first case after seven years, Nick…" Maya said, shaking her head slightly.

"What? She was innocent."

"I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, after all you are the guy who cross-examined a parrot all those years before."

"People are never going to let me live that down. But admit it, it was a stroke of genius."

"It was a bluff to buy time and you know it," she said, reaching forward to trace her finger along one of the pictures, a very rare one of her and Phoenix with Trucy and Pearl, all together at once. "But it did work. We were always so lucky."

He closed the book and set it on the bed beside him, then looked at the floor. Maya followed his line of sight to the mess she'd made. It would take forever to go through everything and find places to put it all now that it was all over the floor.

She jumped off the bed, turning around to face him. "Let's go see how Trucy and Pearly are doing with their rooms!"

"Good idea! We can deal with this later," he said, waving a hand at the boxes on the floor.

"Mhm!" She took his hand to help pull him up, and they headed down the hall together to see the two teenagers.

Chapter Text

December 2nd, 2028, 2:00 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

"Thank you so much for doing this on such short notice, Maya!" Maggey Gumshoe said as Maya ushered her into the foyer.

"Is everything all right?" Maya asked worriedly. "You said you had a family emergency."

"Oh, everything's okay. My sister is having a baby and she went into labour a little early. She really wanted me there for the birth since our mother's already passed on and we're really close, so we're heading there now. We didn't really want to bring Richie along on an overnight trip when we'll be at the hospital most of the time. You were on our way, and you were the only person I could think of to call on such short notice!"

"I'm relieved to hear that. It's no problem, really, I've finished my work for the day. Nick is still at work in the city, and the girls are out so it'll just be me and the little guy!"

Gumshoe finally entered behind Maggey with his son Richie in his arms, catching the tail end of the conversation. "Good luck, pal," he laughed. "He can be a handful." He looked around as he set Richie on the floor and let out an impressed whistle. "This is some place you've got."

Maya smiled politely. "Thanks, Detective. We really love it. I sometimes can't believe it's actually ours."

"Well, congrats," Maggey said. "It's lovely, especially the outside! It'd be the perfect place to raise kids, huh, Maya?"

Maya tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. "Someday, maybe."

"I wish we'd thought to bring you a housewarming gift."

Maya waved the thought away. "We don't need anything, and it wasn't like you planned on coming here today anyway."

Richie was attempting to wriggle out of his jacket, and Maggey bent down to help him out of it. It was getting cooler outside, especially now that they lived closer to the mountains where it could even snow sometimes. Maya held out her hand and took the jacket from her to hang inside the closet by the door. She looked down at the little boy when she was done. He had brown hair and brown eyes like both of his parents, and even had a little bandage on the side of his cheek in almost the exact same spot the Detective always seemed to have one. He was already quite big for his age and Maya could tell he was going to take after his father for sure.

Gumshoe patted him on the head. "Richie, say hello to Auntie Maya. She's Mr. Wright's girlfriend, do you remember him?" The little boy nodded slightly. "She's going to babysit you for the night while we go to see your Aunt Patty, okay?"

Maya knelt down and held out her hand, which Richie shook politely. "Nice to meet you, Richie."

"Nice to meet you," he repeated shyly.

Maya stood back up when Maggey held out a bag to her. "I know you guys just moved in and only have teenaged girls, so I brought some toys for him. Hopefully they'll keep him occupied and well behaved for the day. His clothes and pajamas and things are in there too."

"Thanks," Maya said, taking the bag from her and tucking it under her arm. Richie was peering down the hall curiously, but didn't make any move to leave his parents' side yet.

Gumshoe swept him up into his arms again. "Say goodbye to your dad, little guy. We'll see you tomorrow."

Richie flung his arms around his father's neck, and Maggey leaned over to plant a kiss on her son's head. "Be a good boy for Auntie Maya, okay?"

He nodded, and Gumshoe set him back down. This time, he did head down the hall on his own. "We'll see you tomorrow," Maya said. "Good luck to your sister!"

"Thanks, Maya," Maggey said. "And thanks again for taking him, we appreciate it! See you tomorrow!" Gumshoe waved as they walked back to their car and got in.

After waving them down the driveway, Maya headed down the hallway herself to see where Richie had gotten to. She found him standing in the middle of the living room. He looked up when he saw her, a little smile growing on his face as he took a paper out of a folder that was sitting on the coffee table and slowly started to tear it in half.

"Ah! Richie, don't!" Maya said, running forward and grabbing the paper out of his hands before he managed to completely tear it in two. It was something Phoenix had left on the table that morning, and she didn't want him coming home to a bunch of his paperwork ruined, but she did wish he had put them back in his desk instead of leaving them out on the table where anything could happen to them.

She tucked the page back inside the folder and went across the hall to the room Phoenix was using as an office to put it on his desk, then closed and locked the door behind her. She went back to the living room and took Richie by the hand. "Let's go to the kitchen, Richie. Are you hungry?"

He nodded as she pulled him back down the hall and into the kitchen. "Yeah! My mommy made me lunch but I'm hungry again now!" Maya brought him through the kitchen and into the dining room where she set the backpack on the table and unzipped it. Inside she found a colouring book and some washable markers, so she pulled those out and set them in front of one of the chairs. Richie climbed up into it.

"Can you sit and colour while I make you something to eat?"

He nodded happily. "Can I have grilled cheese?"

"Sure! Just… stay here and colour, okay?"

He nodded again, already opening the book to find a picture. Maya headed back into the kitchen and busied herself with making two grilled cheeses. She had to eat too after all. Once finished, she brought the two plates back into the dining room, looking around when she didn't spot Richie right away. He was out of his chair, sitting on the floor in the corner with a black marker and currently doing his best Picasso impression by drawing on the newly painted walls of her dining room.

Maya set the plates on the table with a thunk, which prompted Richie to turn around. She strode forward and grabbed the marker out of his hand to stick the lid back on it. "Richie! Didn't your parents teach you not to draw on the walls?!"

There was a hint of bratty amusement as he smiled innocently at her. "Sorry."

"Here's your food. Please sit up here and eat it nicely." She sat down herself and started munching on her grilled cheese, watching him carefully as he bit into his own.


December 2nd, 2028, 3:00 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

Maya finished off her grilled cheese first, and sat in her chair quietly while she waited for Richie to finish. She took out her phone to shoot a quick text message to Pearl to let her know about her babysitting Richie, knowing Pearl would probably find it funny but would also offer words of encouragement. She didn't bother texting Phoenix. If she did he'd probably only reply with a quick 'lol'. He wasn't very chatty over text and never said more than a few words at a time, and never ever used emoticons. She was surprised he even knew what 'lol' meant.

"I think I'm done," Richie piped up from his seat.

Maya looked up from her phone. "You haven't even eaten half of it. Weren't you hungry?"

"Yeah, but I ate what I wanted and now I'm done."

"Oh, come on. I think you can eat a little more, can't you?"

Richie stared her in the eyes as he picked up his grilled cheese, pulled the two pieces of bread apart, and flung them one at a time against the wall, where the cheese helped stick them. One of the pieces began slowly sliding down, leaving a yellow trail of cheese behind. Maya was shocked.

"I said I'm done, doo-doo head."

Gumshoe hadn't been lying when he said Richie could be a handful. It didn't help that Maya wasn't exactly used to little children. Pearl had been eight and so mature for her age when Maya began taking care of her. She had no experience with kids younger than that and hadn't expected Richie to be so difficult. Aside from Gumshoe's "handful" comment, they hadn't warned her about his behaviour at all! She didn't know how to react. Should she punish him with a time out or something? Laugh it off? Try to scold him?

She got up from her seat without saying anything at all and peeled the two pieces off of the wall back onto the plate, then went back to the kitchen to drop it into the garbage and the plates into the sink. Richie followed her.

"I need to use the bathroom, doo-doo head," he stated.

Maya narrowed her eyes at him. "Please call me Auntie Maya, Richie." She led him to the bathroom, and he closed the door behind him. She made a point of standing outside the door, hoping that if he did anything terrible in there that she'd be able to hear it. She took her phone out to read Pearl's reply. Sure enough, her cousin had replied with a smiley face, but did at least offer a suggestion.

- Maybe you should occupy him with something more fun than colouring? Do you have any old video games or anything?

Maya was pretty sure she had some old handheld game systems, but she didn't know if kids nowadays would be as entertained by them as she used to be. She put her ear up to the door but didn't hear anything out of the ordinary, and decided it was safe enough to quickly dash upstairs to grab the games.

By the time she came back, water was trickling out from under the bathroom door. She gasped, forgetting all about the games and flinging the bathroom door open, thanking God that Richie hadn't locked it. He was standing beside the toilet and flushing it non-stop. Some of the towels that were hanging on the rack were stuffed into it, causing it to clog and overflow.

Maya looked around the room in absolute shock. How was it possible a child could do something so terrible in the three whole minutes she was gone upstairs?! She should have known, after the drawing on the walls incident, that it didn't take this kid long to make a giant mess. Luckily for her, the water looked clean, as apparently Richie hadn't actually used the toilet and had begun stuffing the towels into it while the water was still fresh and unsoiled.

"RICHIE!" She couldn't help yelling, she was so frustrated and aghast. How could she not take care of a little kid for even an hour without all of these terrible things happening one right after the other? How would she ever manage kids of her own if she couldn't even babysit someone else's for a day?

She grabbed him by the wrist, not roughly but hard enough that he could tell she was really mad this time. She pulled him out into the hallway and pointed to a spot on the floor. "Sit your butt down right there, mister, and do not move!"

She splashed back into the bathroom and yanked the towels out of the toilet, throwing them into the bathtub for the time being, and the water filling the toilet bowl finally went down. She found a mop, all while Richie still sat sulking against the wall by the bathroom door, and was able to clean up the water in the bathroom. The floor was tile and cleaned up easily enough. A small puddle had made it out into the hallway, but it was a small enough amount that she didn't think it would ruin the floors at all.

When she was finished, she motioned for him to get up and follow her back to the kitchen. No way was she letting him into the living room again. That room was her favourite in the whole house, and she wasn't going to risk him ruining the new floors or the paint in there, let alone risk the TV or the brand new couch! She counted herself lucky that one sheet of Phoenix's paperwork was the only damage done in there.

"Can I please colour again?" Richie said as they entered the kitchen again. "I promise I won't colour on the walls anymore. Just my book."

"I suppose so, but I'll be keeping an eye on you. Go ahead." She stayed in the kitchen but made sure to stand at the counter, where she had a clear view straight into the dining room where she could see him.

She pulled her phone out, not about to text Pearl this time. She felt stupid and frustrated but she didn't want to spend anymore time alone with this kid. After everything that had happened in such a short time, she was worried about even taking a bathroom break herself, since it would give Richie more opportunities to get into things. She was worried he'd do something even worse and end up hurting himself, which would end up being her fault for not being able to take care of him properly. She needed some help.


December 2nd, 2028, 3:30 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

Maya tapped her fingers on the counter as she waited for Phoenix to answer his phone. Richie was now back to colouring - in his colouring book and not on her walls! - at the table, but she was loathe to take her eyes off of him for even a second, lest he take that opportunity to start practicing his artistry on the wall again.

Just when she thought she wasn't going to get an answer, Phoenix picked up the phone. "Wright Anything Agency, Phoenix Wright speaking…"

"Nick, I need you," she said in a low voice, hoping that Richie wouldn't notice that she was preoccupied on the phone.

"Oh?" Phoenix lowered his voice as well, taking on a suggestive tone. "What do you need me for?"

Maya would have smacked him if he was there. "Not that, Nick! Believe me, right now, my mind is so far away from any activity that could result in such a… a little hellion!"

Phoenix, at his desk alone at the agency while Athena was out on an investigation, held the phone away from his ear as Maya's voice hissed at him through it. He had no idea what she was on about. "A hellion? Huh?"

"I'm talking about a child," she growled. "I offered to babysit Richie Gumshoe. Maggey and the Detective had a bit of a family emergency, so they brought him here on their way out of town. He's already coloured on our freshly painted walls, thrown his food all over the dining room, managed to overflow the toilet by stuffing our towels down it, and he keeps calling me a doo-doo head. He was so polite when they introduced me but it was like a switch was flipped as soon as his parents were gone! He's a brat, Nick," she said, whispering the last part.

She heard Phoenix snicker on the other end. "Maya, he's a kid. All kids are brats."

"I wasn't!" she said indignantly.

That made him laugh out loud. "Oh, Maya. You were a brat when I met you, and you were seventeen. You're still a brat sometimes. Anyway, kids can be worse around people they think will let them get away with things. He's never met you before, so he probably thinks you'll go easy on him."

She let out a frustrated sigh. "Of course I would! He's not my kid to punish! Ugh, I have no experience with stuff like this, Nick! Remind me to thank Pearly for always being so well behaved when she was little! Can you please come home early tonight? I need help here."

"Where are Pearls and Trucy anyway?" he inquired casually. Maya felt herself getting even more frustrated that he was continuing this phone call instead of getting his butt home like she wanted.

"Pearly is back at Kurain for the night, and Trucy is out with some friends, so I'm alone here. Please come help me?"

He began shuffling his papers together with his free hand. "Alright, fine. I'll be home within the hour. Try to keep him occupied with something until I get there."

She glanced over at Richie again to see that he was now holding a marker upside down and dragging it across his own face. "Gah! Richie, stop!" She slammed the phone down onto the counter, effectively hitting the End button as she did so.


December 2nd, 2028, 4:15 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

The commute from the city to their new home had ended up being a lot shorter than they initially thought it would be while in a car compared to the train or buses, so Phoenix made it home in record time after deciding to hail a cab. Maya sounded increasingly frustrated on the phone, and he wanted to get home as quickly as possible to help her out. He'd met Gumshoe and Maggey's son before on multiple occasions while Maya was still in Khura'in Kingdom, so he wasn't a stranger at all and was actually looking forward to seeing the kid again. He did remember that Richie could be a bit of a back talker at times, but he never would have thought he was capable of all the things Maya had talked about.

He entered the house expecting carnage, but was pleasantly surprised to see that everything looked immaculate. He followed the sounds of the TV to the living room, where he found both Maya and Richie sitting on the couch, and the original Steel Samurai playing on the TV. Maya had her legs propped up on the coffee table, and Richie was sitting cross legged, rocking back and forth as he watched the show.

Phoenix leaned against the doorway and crossed his arms. "Looks like you two found a common interest after all."

Maya jumped a bit at his voice, and Richie turned to look. His face lit up and he dove off the couch. "Uncle Phoenix!" he cried, running into Phoenix's arms, who had bent down to scoop the child off the floor.

"Hey, little man. How have you been?" he said, grinning at him.

Maya frowned from her spot on the couch. Ever since she knew him kids had always gravitated towards Phoenix. She didn't know how or why he was so good with them, but it was like they innately knew that he was someone they could trust. Normally she found that endearing and she did love that he was good with children, but she didn't understand why they didn't like her as much. She actually felt a bit jealous as she watched the easy way Phoenix interacted with Richie.

"You get 'Uncle Phoenix', but I'm 'doo-doo head'?"

Phoenix ruffled Richie's hair and set him back on the floor. "Hey, Richie, do you mind calling doo-doo head here 'Auntie Maya' instead? It hurts her feelings when you call her that."

Richie kicked at the floor. "Sorry, Auntie Maya," he mumbled.

"Thank you for apologizing, Richie," she replied tersely. She had gotten up from her spot on the couch and approached the two of them. He nodded and ran back to the couch to focus his attention back on the show.

Phoenix smiled at her. "There, that wasn't so hard, was it?"

"How did you do that?" she asked, looking imploringly at him.

His eyebrows furrowed together in confusion. "Do what?"

"He just agreed to do what you said so easily! I've been telling him all night to please call me Auntie Maya, but no, not until Uncle Phoenix asks him does he actually do it!"

He shrugged. "I don't know. There's no trick to it, I just asked. Maybe because he knows me better? This is the first time he's ever met you after all. I haven't seen him in a while, but he does know me." She crossed her arms, cheeks puffing out as per usual when she was annoyed. "Maya, what's the problem? You told me to come home to help you and I am. Why are you mad?"

She huffed. "I'm not mad. I'm just... annoyed that he listened to you so quickly and I've been struggling to control him since he got here! It's only been two hours, Nick. Two hours! At least I finally managed to find something to keep his attention for longer than five minutes!"

"I can see that," he said, glancing at the TV again. Richie was completely engaged in the TV show. He looked back at Maya, noticing that she was staring at the floor, her face red. Clearly she was still upset about something.

He took her by the wrist and tugged her gently out of the room and down the hallway a few feet so they could talk. She tried to turn back. "Nick, I should watch him-"

"He'll be fine for a few minutes, and we can still hear him." He turned her around to face him, looking searchingly into her eyes. "Why is this making you so upset? Surely you knew kids could be brats sometimes?"

She shrugged, avoiding his gaze. "I don't know… I guess I'm just in a bad mood today. I know kids can be brats but I wasn't expecting to have this many problems."

He shoved a hand into his pocket as he stared at her, knowing full well she was lying. He felt the cool jade of the magatama he kept there rub against his hand, and was shocked when a single Psyche-Lock immediately slid into place around Maya, for the first time ever. He had never used the magatama on her before, and hadn't meant to this time. He didn't need the magatama to know that she wasn't telling him everything, but he wouldn't have guessed it was a Psyche-Lock worthy secret.

Maya looked up at him when he didn't say anything, and noticed his dazed expression. "…Nick?"

He blinked a few times, eyes moving back and forth to the sides of her before settling on a spot on her chest. She knew that look. It had always sort of creeped her out, how his eyes would focus so intently on something that she couldn't see. She blushed when his penetrating gaze finally met hers. "You can see Psyche-Locks, can't you?"

"Only one. I'm sorry. My hand just rubbed the magatama in my pocket; I wasn't trying to use it on you purposely…"

"It's okay, Nick. I shouldn't be keeping things like this from you anyway."

"What is it? I get that you had a hard time today, but what was so upsetting about it that it's giving you a Psyche-Lock?" She looked at the floor, scuffing it with her foot, hands behind her back. "You can tell me anything, Maya," he prompted.

She let out a long sigh, and he was relieved when the lock suddenly shattered. If only he could break other Psyche-Locks that quickly, a lot of his investigations would be much easier.

"Kids don't like me, Nick," she stated matter-of-factly. "I'm… I'm scared that we'll have a baby someday and I'll be an awful mother, and it'll hate me. After talking to Maggey on Halloween and today I've been thinking a lot about kids lately, especially now that we have this place and all the extra room, not to mention that I'm not getting any younger. I'll be thirty soon! But I couldn't even handle watching someone else's kid for a few hours, how would I be able to take care of a baby twenty-four seven? And I know it's stupid but it bothers me that it seems so easy for you… Aren't women supposed to have some sort of motherly instinct or something?!"

"Maya… Come here." He opened his arms and she stepped into his comforting embrace, wrapping her own arms around his middle. "Maya, being a first time parent is a learning process. No one is perfect at it right away, or ever, but there's no way any kids of ours would hate you, I know that for sure. And aren't you forgetting about Pearls and Trucy? They both love you, especially Pearls. She idolized you when she was little and she still looks up to you. She was really lucky to have you after her mother went to prison. Pearls grew up into the amazing young lady she is because of you."

"You helped raise Pearly too," she mumbled into the fabric of his jacket.

He pushed her back slightly, using a finger under her chin to tilt her face up to his. "No, Maya. Sure, I was there for Pearls as a sort of father figure and I spent a lot of time with the two of you, but I didn't live in Kurain Village with you. I didn't raise her, not really. That was all you. You will be a great mom, and I'm not just saying that to make you feel better. I have no doubt in my mind that you'd take to motherhood right away. Besides, you'll have me to help you too, and Pearls and Trucy. I'm sure we could even rope Athena into babysitting duty every now and then." He smiled. "You'd never have to handle everything all on your own."

She stared up at him; unshed tears making her eyes shine. "You always know what to say, Nick."

"Well, I try," he said as she laid her head back on his chest. "So… You've really been thinking about kids lately?"

He felt her nod. "Honestly, I never really thought about it at all until this year. Because I had Pearly and you had Trucy and life was always so hectic for us, what with the Kristoph stuff and then me going to Khura'in just as we were able to finally stop hiding everything. But things are finally settling down now. You do want more kids, don't you?"

"I would love them. I'm not in a rush or anything, but yeah, why not?"

She smiled. "Not right away or anything, but maybe within the next year or two? After we're settled in and more used to living here."

He squeezed her a little tighter. "Yeah. Whenever you want, I'm on board."

She lifted her head, leaning back a bit to look up at him. "I love you, Nick."

"I love you, too," he said, pulling her forward into a gentle kiss. It was rather chaste given there was a child in the next room, but he let his thumb caress her jawline before resting his hand below her ear. Even his kiss was comforting to her, and she felt her worries melt away, at least for the time being.

"Eew, Auntie Maya, Uncle Phoenix! That's how you spread cooties!" a young voice piped up from the living room doorway.

He felt Maya smile against his lips before pulling away, and both of them turned to look down at the little boy. "Sorry about that, Richie," Phoenix said, keeping an arm around Maya's shoulders.

"That's okay. My mommy and daddy tell me that just means you love each other a lot!"

Phoenix unwrapped his arm from Maya and knelt down to the boy's height. "Did you need something? Is the show over?"

Richie nodded furiously and looked up at Maya. "Auntie Maya, can you please put on another one?! And can I have a snack now?"

Phoenix looked up at Maya to await her response as well, and she smiled. "Of course, Richie. We'll eat dinner a little later, so we'll get you a snack for now. What do you want?" She hoped that this time he would actually eat it and not throw it against the wall.

"My mommy cuts up apples for me sometimes! Do you have any apples?"

"I think we do." At least apples wouldn't stick to the wall if he did decide to throw his food again. She held out her hand. "Come to the kitchen with me. Nick will get the next Steel Samurai episode ready, okay?"

He took her hand and she led him into the kitchen to cut up some apple slices. Phoenix went into the living room to change the DVD to the next one in the case. Leave it to Maya to get a little kid addicted to a TV show that wasn't even airing anymore. He was sure there was probably still some incarnation of it though. He stopped paying attention to the multiple spin-offs years ago.

Maya came back a few minutes later with Ritchie in tow, a plate of apple slices in her hand. She flopped down onto the couch and Richie climbed up beside her, sitting close enough that he could reach for the slices on the plate.

"Is it ready, Nick?" Maya asked, taking a slice and eating it herself.

"Yep." He got up from his spot in front of the DVD player and sat down on the other side of Richie. "Mind if I join you?"

Richie shook his head, and Maya oohed at him. "You're actually going to voluntarily sit down and watch Steel Samurai with me?"

"It's nostalgic," he said. "Just like every time my phone rings."

Maya raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure that's not just because you can't figure out how to change the ringtone?"

"Sssh!" Richie piped up from between them. "It's starting."

"Yeah Maya, shush," Phoenix said.

She stuck her tongue out at him, but quieted down. She still loved her Steel Samurai, even if she didn't watch it as often anymore. She was still a big fan of the spin-offs and especially the Plumed Punisher from Khura'in, but it was nice to sit back and enjoy the one that started it all every so often.


December 2nd, 2028, 8:10 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

Richie didn't tire out easily, and they had sat together watching Steel Samurai episodes for hours, up until Maya and Phoenix both decided to make dinner. After eating, Richie went right back to the TV and requested that they start the second season. Maya was quite happy to oblige. Phoenix less so, but he still sat and watched after Richie made a fuss when he said he was going to go to the office to do some work.

The most recent episode was finally finishing, and Phoenix took a quick glance to the side. Richie was snuggled right up against Maya, finally asleep. She had her arm wrapped around him as she focused on the TV. When the credits started rolling, she looked down at the sleeping boy and smiled, then looked over at Phoenix and caught him watching her.

"I guess I'm okay in his book now?" she said.

"Yeah. I don't think you really needed me to come home, you just had to get past those first few obstacles and find something he really liked."

"It felt better having you here anyway, but I think if the Detective and Maggey ask me to babysit again for them in the future, I'll be able to handle it."

"Are you going to tell them about everything he did?"

She shook her head. "Nah. The marker will wash off the wall and we still have some leftover paint if we need to paint over it at all. The grilled cheese sandwich on the wall and the water in the bathroom were easy to clean too. No need to make them feel bad."

Phoenix nodded. "Should we get him to bed now?"

"Yeah. Can you grab him?"

He got up and lifted Richie into his arms and off of Maya, allowing her to get up as well. She followed Phoenix upstairs to the guest bedroom, and together they worked on getting Richie into his pajamas and tucking him into bed. He didn't stir once. Maya stood in the doorway for a second before following Phoenix back into the hallway, and he turned around when he realized she wasn't following him.

"What's up, Maya?"

"Nothing." She turned around and beamed at him. "Let's go back downstairs. We still have a whole disc to watch!"

He groaned. "And here I thought now that Richie was asleep I wouldn't have to watch anymore."

She shut the bedroom door behind her and followed him back downstairs. "You're not getting out of it that easily."


December 3rd, 2028, 11:00 AM
Fey-Wright Residence

"Mommy's here! Daddy's here!" Richie cried, jumping up and down as he gazed out the window at the front of the house where the Gumshoes were pulling up in their car. Maya leaned against the wall tiredly. Richie had woken them up very early in the morning after finding their bedroom down the hall from his and jumping on the bed, landing on Phoenix and almost making it impossible for he and Maya to even have children together. After that there was no going back to sleep, and once Phoenix recovered they got up to make breakfast. Phoenix headed out to work not long after that, and Trucy, who had come home late the night before, headed off to school.

Maya spent the rest of the morning watching more Steel Samurai with Richie, who couldn't get enough of the action packed show. She hoped the Gumshoes wouldn't mind what she'd gotten their son into. It was a show for children so the violence wasn't that bad, and no one was ever outright killed on it, not even the bad guys. It was more the fact that Richie never wanted to stop watching it! He'd already asked her if he could borrow the DVDs to watch at home, and she agreed as long as it was okay with his parents.

He flung the door open once the car was stopped and his parents climbed out, then zoomed down the stairs off the porch, straight into his father's arms. Gumshoe lifted him up easily, and Maya had to smile at how happy all three of them looked. They'd only been away for a night, but they had clearly missed their little boy.

Maya closed the door behind her and came out to stand on the porch as they walked back up to the house to speak to her.

"How was he?" Maggey asked as soon as she was close enough to be heard. Maya thought she heard a hint of worry in her voice.

"He was great," Maya said, mostly telling the truth. After the sequence of terrible things he had done to her before she finally put on the TV show, Richie really was great.

"Oh, good boy!" Maggey said, ruffling Richie's hair.

Gumshoe beamed proudly. "I knew you'd be good for your Auntie Maya. Did you have fun?"

He nodded. "Yeah! We watched Steel Samurai!"

"Oh?"

"Sorry, guys," Maya said. "But I may have gotten your son addicted to a very old TV show. Detective, remember back when Nick defended Will Powers?"

"Oh yeah. Wow, that has to have been what, nine, ten years ago now? He was still a rookie."

"Closer to eleven," Maya corrected. "Anyway, the show that Mr. Powers starred in was the Steel Samurai! We all spent quite a bit of time at Global Studios where it was filmed for that case."

"Daddy, I wanna watch more Steel Samurai. Am I allowed to?"

"Sure, but I'm not sure where we're going to be able to buy such an old show-"

Maya held out Richie's backpack. "The first three seasons are in here on DVD. I said he could borrow them as long as it was okay with you and he took very good care of them."

Maggey took the backpack with a smile. "Thank you, Maya. I'm sure he'll blast through them, so we'll bring them back next time we're in town."

"Thank you, Auntie Maya!" Richie cried.

"You're welcome!" she said, reaching up to ruffle his hair as Maggey had done earlier. She turned to Maggey again. "I'll be glad to babysit again any time you need me!"

"That'd be great, pal," Gumshoe said. "We need some quiet time every now and then…"

Maya giggled, then remembered the reason she had to babysit in the first place. "Oh! How did your sister do, Maggey?" Maya asked.

"I have a new nephew! Everything went smoothly, and he came out healthy."

"I'm glad to hear it," Maya smiled.

"I almost forgot!" Maggey said, running back to the car and grabbing something from it. She brought it back and held it out to Maya. "It's not much, but we got you this gift basket for a housewarming gift!" It was filled with various Christmas decorations and some baked goods.

"Wow, thanks guys," Maya said, taking the basket from Maggey. "You really didn't have to."

"Consider it payment for taking care of our little guy then."

Maya nodded. "Alright. Well, you guys should get going, you've probably had a long night."

"Yeah we're pretty tired. Tell Mr. Wright we said hi!"

"I will. Bye Richie!"

Richie struggled in Gumshoe's arms until he was put back on the ground. He ran over and wrapped his arms around Maya's legs. "Bye Auntie Maya! Thank you!"

She bent down to return his hug. "No problem. Next time you come over you'll have to tell me all about those Steel Samurai episodes, okay?"

"Okay!"

He took his mother's hand and after saying their goodbyes once more, their little family walked back to the car. Maya waved from the porch until they were out of sight, then slumped back against the door. She really had enjoyed taking care of Richie for most of the night, but now that he was gone, she had some lovely Richie original artwork to clean off of her dining room wall.

Chapter Text

December 20th, 2028, 5:00 PM
Downtown Los Angeles

"I cannot believe how cold it is tonight." Maya wrapped her arms around herself and shivered as she and Phoenix walked down the sidewalk past shop windows decorated with signs declaring Christmas sales and the newest great thing your loved one was sure to want. The temperature was just below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which was very unusual even for December. "I thought we lived in California. How is it this cold, Nick?"

He shrugged. He wasn't that cold, since he was prepared for the weather in a hoodie and a winter coat, plus a scarf and gloves. He was satisfied knowing that all this winter gear had actually been useful for once. Living in California didn't give him a chance to actually use it that much. Maya on the other hand was severely underdressed, wearing only a light sweater, but at the very least she did have jeans and sneakers on instead of her regular robes and sandals.

"Don't ask me," he said. "The news even said it could snow before Christmas, if it gets a little bit colder."

Maya groaned and stepped in closer to him to sap some of his body heat. "I hope they're wrong."

He looked down at her as she tried to be subtle about coaxing him into wrapping an arm around her by bumping into his side. He did, giving her some of the warmth he knew she was seeking. "Aren't you the one who regularly sits under freezing waterfalls for training? What's a little snow?"

"Oh ho, but who said I enjoyed sitting under freezing cold waterfalls for training? That was my least favourite type of training! It makes me want to avoid any sort of snow or ice in my regular day-to-day life!"

He rubbed his hand up and down her shoulder, attempting to warm her up with the friction. "You were the one who dragged us out here tonight."

"I need to get a few more gifts, and I also need to buy some things for Christmas dinner." She stepped away from him and out from under his arm before looking at him pleadingly. "Nick, trying to steal your warmth really isn't working. Can I please wear your coat? I'm freezing, and you have a sweater underneath."

"I warned you," he said, shrugging out of it, glad he was wearing the hoodie too. "I told you it was cold, didn't I? And you made fun of me for wearing all of this!"

Maya rolled her eyes and held out her hand for the coat. "Just give me the coat."

He handed it over and she slipped it on and zipped it up as far as it could go, closing her eyes and relishing the blissful heat it provided. "Mmmm that's much better. Hey." Her eyes popped open again. "Think you could spare a mitten or two?" It was his turn to roll his eyes, but he slipped them off too. "Thank you!" She put them on then slid her hand into his as they continued their walk.

"We can just head to the nearest mall. I don't think I need to go to any specialty stores or anything."

He, for once, was finished his Christmas shopping already and didn't have anything left to buy, so he let her lead him around by the hand once they made it to the closest shopping mall. She led him into multiple stores, buying things for Pearl and Trucy and even him. She'd tell him to go to the other side of the store to look at something or to simply cover his eyes until they were checked out when that happened, and then dumped the bags on him to carry after.

They were wandering the mall still when they passed by the spot where "Santa's Workshop" was set up. The typical picture-with-Santa thing people always brought their kids to. It was getting later now so there was only one kid in the line, and another was just then scrambling off Santa's lap. Neither of them paid it much attention and were walking on by when the Santa suddenly stood up, frightening the child approaching.

"HEY NICK!"

Phoenix froze an Maya raised her eyebrows at him when he looked at her.

"NICK! HANG ON, I'M ALMOST DONE!" Then quieter. "C'mere, kid."

They both turned back towards the Santa, now rushing the child through the usual "what do you want for Christmas? Be a good boy and I'll think about it" spiel. After the camera flashed and the boy was off his lap, Santa wasted no time bounding over to the boundary, not even waiting for the children to leave before removing his hat and fake beard.

Phoenix couldn't help the groan that escaped him before Larry Butz was close enough to hear it. Maya snickered. "Cheer up, Nick, it's Christmas," she mumbled.

"And here comes the equivalent of Buddy the Elf to ruin it." She snorted, but didn't say anything else as Larry was already close enough to hear them.

"It's good to see you!" Larry said, wiping some sweat from his brow. "Phew, it gets hot under that beard, you know?"

"I'm sure it does."

There was silence. Even the usually chatty Maya didn't know what to say. It was hard to have any sort of adult conversation with Larry, who still reminded Phoenix so much of the Larry he'd last talked to now ten years ago. Was the man ever going to grow up? Even the silly and childish Maya was able to take her job and family seriously nowadays, and she was younger than Larry.

"So uh, how's life?" Larry said, obviously uncomfortable with the silence and seeming to realize he had caused it just by approaching.

"Well, we bought a house," Maya said. Larry looked at her, surprise on his face.

"Wow, really? That's cool, that's cool."

"Yep… So, Santa, huh?" Phoenix smirked. It wasn't the first time he'd seen Larry dressed in a Santa getup. Hadn't he been wearing the same thing way back when he and Maya had investigated Gourd Lake? The same time Larry had first mistaken them for a couple, despite how young Maya was at the time.

Larry scratched the back of his head. "Yeah. Hey, it helps with Christmas shopping. Just a little extra cash."

Phoenix nodded understandingly. "What are your plans for Christmas? What girlfriend are you buying for this year?"

"Ah, actually, there is no girlfriend at the moment. Ever since Ellen I just haven't been feeling like going out on the dating scene."

It was hard to take Larry's feelings about Ellen seriously, seeing as he had never been engaged to her and had completely misunderstood her intentions after only knowing her for a day. It normally didn't take Larry long to bounce back after a break up though, so Phoenix couldn't help wondering what was different about it this time.

"That's kind of a surprise."

Larry shrugged. "I know it's stupid but I actually did want to marry her. I felt like maybe I'd put my life together if I got married."

"Larry, you know that's not how a relationship should work."

Maya raised her left hand, which she had removed the mitten from long ago and was clasped tightly in Phoenix's right, to show off her lack of a ring. "Yeah, Larry, look. Nick and I still aren't married but we're doing great."

Phoenix wasn't sure if that was a subtle hint or not, and decided to ignore it. Larry pouted. "But you guys are different."

Phoenix and Maya couldn't deny that. Their relationship wasn't exactly something other people could emulate. It wasn't the same for normal people who met each other under normal circumstances. They had been through too much together to even compare to others. "He does have a point," Maya conceded.

"Yeah, so…" Larry continued. "It's just me all on my lonesome this Christmas."

"What about your parents?" Maya inquired.

"Nick never told you? I don't associate with them. Or they don't associate with me, I guess."

Maya hadn't been expecting such a blunt or sad answer. Larry looked really downcast as he stood in front of them, and she felt a pang of sadness for him. Phoenix felt bad too, especially when he realized that he'd forgotten all about Larry's parents. The first and only time Larry told him about them was when they were teenagers, still in high school. He had never met them personally, but apparently they were both upper class snobs who had resented Larry for not conforming to their ideals, and once he was old enough to take care of himself, they kicked him out of their home.

Phoenix felt his resolve weaken as he remembered the very old but still vivid memory of a sixteen year old Larry showing up at Phoenix's childhood home during the summer break to tell him he had nowhere to stay and didn't know where else to go. Luckily for him, Phoenix's mother had always been a caring and sweet lady, and had gladly invited him in. Larry had stayed with them for almost two weeks until he found a job and left to find somewhere of his own, despite Mrs. Wright's insistence that he stay with them. He dropped out of school after that, leaving Phoenix to graduate high school alone, without either Larry or Edgeworth by his side. Since then Larry had always bounced between jobs, apartments, and girlfriends.

He sighed. It was Christmas after all, he couldn't let his friend be alone for it. "Hey, Larry?"

Larry looked back up. "Yeah?"

"We weren't really planning on doing much, but if you want to come see the new house, why don't you come over on Christmas Eve for dinner? Trucy and Pearls will be there, and the other lawyer at my agency is coming too. It's not going to be a party or anything, but you're welcome to come."

Maya glanced up quickly at Phoenix, surprised at this offer. She didn't mind at all, she was almost proud of him for inviting Larry, who he seemed to be more annoyed with nowadays than anything else.

Larry perked right up. "Really? I'd love to come! Old Edgey isn't going to be there?"

"No. He said he has plans with someone else."

"He has friends other than us?"

Phoenix shrugged. "Apparently. He wouldn't tell us who it was, but he said we may be able to meet this mystery guest on New Year's if any of us get together. They're staying with him throughout the holidays."

"Do you think he has a girlfriend?" Maya asked, looking at him as if it was a crazy suggestion. When it came to Edgeworth, it almost was.

"Edgeworth with a girlfriend? I don't know. I don't even know if he likes women… or anyone in that way."

"Now that you say that, I don't know either," Larry said. "Huh. Guess he and I never talked about girls much. That was always with you. Remember Betty Crusher?"

Maya looked at Phoenix, a smile playing on her lips. "Crusher? Who was she, Nick? Your first love or something?"

Phoenix grimaced. "No, she had a crush on me."

"You took her to the semi-formal dance in ninth grade! Don't tell me you didn't like her back!" Larry exclaimed. "You so did, I caught you two making out at the back of the gym behind a pile of gym mats!"

Maya laughed out loud and Phoenix blushed furiously. "I felt bad for her, okay? She didn't have a date." He cleared his throat. "Besides, she was actually a pretty good kisser, so all the guys that rejected her just because she wasn't the prettiest girl at school missed out. I'm pretty sure she taught me a thing or two that night." He looked down at Maya. "I was not always the amazing kisser you know me as, Maya."

Maya rolled her eyes. "Good to know some girl in ninth grade taught you how to kiss, Nick. Ever wonder how she got so good? Girls don't have to be pretty to get around."

Larry was smiling at the banter, but one of his 'elves' from the workshop started yelling his name. "Hey guys, I've gotta help clean up the workshop for the night. Thanks for inviting me. Can one of you text me your new address?"

"Yeah, I'll send it to you once we're done shopping," Phoenix said. He held up the hand not occupied with Maya's, filled with plastic and paper bags from the multiple stores they'd been to already. "My hands are kind of full right now."

"No problem. I hope you guys have a good night."

Maya smiled, waving with her other hand. "Bye Larry! See you in a few days!"

They walked away, leaving Larry to clean up the mess from the children that had been visiting all day. They were quiet as they made their way to the next store.

"I feel bad for him, Nick."

"Me too…"

"I mean, he has parents, and they don't want anything to do with him? That's just… awful. My mother left us because she was ashamed of herself and didn't want her image reflected on us, but I know she loved me and thought she was doing what was best, at least. His just don't care."

"Yeah. I'd honestly forgotten. It's been years since he told me. I feel like such a jerk. You realize I hadn't spoken to him for years before the Sprocket case in September? He had no idea about my disbarment, or about Trucy. Nothing."

"Why didn't you ever contact him while you were disbarred?"

He felt his face flame with shame. He really didn't want to tell her. If she thought about it hard enough she could probably guess anyway. "A stupid reason. A really, really stupid reason."

She could see that he didn't want to say anymore, so she decided not to pry. "He doesn't seem to hold anything against you though… Why don't you just start over? Invite him over more often, go out places with him. Be his friend again."

"Yeah. I'll try."


December 24th, 2028
Fey-Wright Residence

Larry showed up first and way too early, with a plate of miniature hot dogs wrapped up in bacon that he handed over to Phoenix as soon as he stepped in the door. After removing his coat he went straight for Maya, giving her a friendly hug and telling her how lovely she looked in her ugly-on-purpose Christmas sweater, and greeted Trucy and Pearl who were in the kitchen doing most of the cooking for the night.

"Hey, Nick, where should I put these?" Larry asked as Phoenix entered the kitchen with the tray of food Larry had brought, which surprisingly looked edible. He set it on the dining room table and glanced at the paper bag in Larry's hand.

"What is it?"

"Presents of course! One for you, Maya, and Trucy and Pearl!"

"Wow, really?!" Maya exclaimed at the same time as Trucy and Pearl turned around from their respective cooking projects in excitement.

Larry beamed. "Yep! It's nothing much, but I wanted to get you all something for inviting me."

"Wow, Larry," Phoenix said, for once impressed with his friend. "You didn't have to bring anything. I feel kind of bad, no one was supposed to bring gifts so we don't have anything for you."

Larry clapped him on the shoulder. "It's okay, Nick. We hadn't talked in years until this September, so I'm just glad you thought of me. And truthfully, it's been a tough couple of months for me, so I'm just happy to be here."

"Well, I'm glad you came. Really, Larry. Come on, you can put those under the tree."

Larry looked around as they made their way into the living room. "This place is pretty nice, Nick. I'm so jealous! First you managed to snag Maya, you have two awesome kids, now this place."

Phoenix smiled. "I'm lucky. You can put that over there."

After setting his presents under the tree, they began heading back towards the front of the house. "Do you think the girls will mind if I help out in the kitchen a bit?" Larry said. "I know I'm kind of early so I don't want to be a nuisance by just sitting around while you wait for your other guest. I'm a pretty good cook, not to toot my own horn or anything."

Phoenix couldn't keep the surprise off his face. Where was the crying, emotional Larry that had shown up to his office just three months ago, or the sad Larry from the mall the other day? Suddenly this new, mature, knew-how-to-cook Larry had taken his place.

"Are you really our Larry Butz? Not an alien that's taken over his body or something?" Phoenix said.

Larry made a face at him. "Hey, don't be mean, Nick. After Ellen and I broke up, I thought maybe my actions are the reason I can never keep a girlfriend?" Phoenix bit back a sarcastic comment and let Larry continue. "So I've started taking cooking lessons, and I'm trying to find an actual steady job and just do the artist stuff on the side. Things like that. Gotta make myself husband material if I want to find a wifey, you know?"

Phoenix raised an eyebrow at him. "You really want to get married? You?"

"Why not?"

Phoenix shrugged. "You just don't seem the marrying type."

"Well I am! If I could find the right girl. You're sure you wanna keep Maya, because I could take her off your hands if you want."

Phoenix rolled his eyes. Larry had calmed down with the outright flirting with Maya he used to do, and refrained from calling her cute anymore, but he still sometimes made comments that made Phoenix want to throttle him. "No, I think I'll keep her, thanks."

Larry smiled good-naturedly. "I'm only joking, Nick. You're still so protective of her."

"I always will be. Especially when I know how you think."

Larry looked scandalized. "Nick! I would never think that way about your girlfriend! You know I still remember when you tried to run across that burning bridge for her? That's when even I could tell you loved her. How long was it after that you two finally figured things out?"

"About a year, I think. After I was disbarred… Maya helped me out a lot, and things went from there."

"I kind of wish I had been around back then. I could've helped you too!"

Phoenix stopped. They were still in the hall just outside the kitchen doorway. "Larry, listen. I wanted to apologize-"

"Nah, it's okay, Nick. Please. Inviting me over tonight was good enough, and you defended Ellen when I just showed up out of the blue… It's fine." He looked around, trying to think of some way to change the subject. "Say, are there any other hot girls coming tonight?"

Phoenix rolled his eyes. Good old Larry. "No. Athena is only 19 so don't even think about it." Even if Athena was an adult that could make her own choices, there was no way Phoenix was going to let Larry of all people flirt with her.

Larry sighed. "Aw. Oh well." He went back into the kitchen and made his way over to the girls. "Do you have anything I can help with, Maya?"

She put a hand to her chin. "You and Nick can take over the cooking while the girls and I rest in the living room? Cooking for six people is tiring."

"I'll stay in here Mystic Maya," Pearl said. "I actually like cooking and no offense, Mr. Nick, but I don't trust your cooking skills."

"Thanks, Pearls."

Trucy grinned. "She's right, Daddy. For some reason you're really good at making homemade bread? But that's about it."

"Aaand, thanks, Trucy. You girls know how to make a guy feel good about himself, that's for sure."

Maya smiled and leaned up to peck him on the cheek. "We'll eat whatever you manage not to burn. But I am going to sit down! It's about time the men do some of the work."

Trucy bounced down the hall with Maya, leaving Phoenix and Larry with Pearl. Pearl turned to them, hands on her hips. "Let's get down to business. We've only got a few hours before Athena gets here!"


Maya and Trucy headed into the living room and straight to the Christmas tree, each of them picking up wrapped boxes and shaking them to see if they could figure out what was inside. Maya did take notice of the fact that there were hardly any boxes under the tree with her name on them, but a ton for Trucy and Pearl, and even the ones she had picked for Phoenix were there already wrapped.

"Trucy, did your dad tell you what he got me for Christmas?"

Trucy thought for a moment. "Nope, sorry. But there really isn't much here for you, is there? Only the things Pearl and I got you. I swear, if Daddy forgot your presents!"

"No, he wouldn't. He probably hid them somewhere I couldn't sneak a peek at them and won't even risk putting them under the tree until Christmas Day. But I've looked all over the house and can't find anything."

"Maybe they're not at the house? You don't go to the office that much anymore, they're probably there somewhere."

"You're right. Why didn't I think of that?! I guess it's too late to try looking for them now. But when is he going to go pick them up?"

Trucy shrugged, and looked around when the doorbell was rang. "That must be Athena."

Maya stood up. "I guess I'll get that since the guys are busy."

She opened the door to Athena, standing on the porch with a bag over her shoulder. She would have looked much like Santa Claus delivering gifts if she had been dressed for the part. "Hey, Maya! Uh, where's Mr. Wright? I have to give him this stuff."

Maya stepped aside to let her in. "He's just in the kitchen, go ahead." She headed into the kitchen while Maya closed the door. It was still chilly and Phoenix liked to pull the 'are you trying to heat the outside?' with her if it was left open longer than necessary. She was going to head back to the living room when Phoenix and Athena came out of the kitchen. He was mumbling something quietly to her and pointing at the stairs.

She approached him when Athena was gone up them. "Hey, Nick, what's Athena carrying? She had a big bag of stuff."

"Oh, uh, that was nothing."

She grinned. "Trucy was right. Those were Christmas presents! Don't tell me you had Athena hiding all of my gifts at the office?"

"No… She was hiding them in the old apartment, where she now lives. I couldn't even risk keeping them in the office because I know how you are, you sneak."

She wrapped her arms around his waist to rest her chin on his chest. "What'd you get me, Nick?"

"You can wait one more day to find out."

"Or maybe I can't," she said, pulling back and sprinting for the stairs before he had a chance to stop her.

"Maya! Stop! Don't harass Athena!" He ran up the stairs after her, only to find her a little ways down the upstairs hallway attempting to wrestle the bag away from a very determined Athena.

"Uh, Boss, little help here?" Athena said, still managing to hold Maya back from the bag of gifts. Luckily she was taller and stronger than Maya, so it wasn't a hard feat to accomplish. Phoenix made his way between them, taking the bag from Athena's hand and holding it out of Maya's reach.

"Maya, if you peek in here, I'll be very mad at you."

She pouted. "Fine then, I guess I can wait one more night."

"Good. Athena, you can head downstairs now."

"Sure Boss." She couldn't help the look of suspicion that crossed her face, but decided she didn't want to know why her boss and his girlfriend were staying upstairs alone.

Phoenix turned back to Maya when Athena was gone. "Maya, I'm gonna go hide this somewhere. But in the meantime, do you have anything we can give to Larry as a gift? Did you get me anything we could give to him instead?"

She put her finger to her chin in thought. "Maybe."

"I mean, who knows what he got us, maybe it's something completely stupid, but still. For all four of us? We need to give him something."

"I got it, Nick. I'll go check out the stuff I got you and see if there's anything."


Trucy was alone in the living room when Athena found her, looking surprisingly glum. She had put a Christmas album on the radio, and the slow melody of 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' floated quietly throughout the room.

"Hey Trucy," she said, sitting down beside her on the couch.

Trucy looked up at her, her usual sunny smile back on her face as soon as she realized she wasn't alone. "Hi Athena! How are you?"

"I'm not a fan of this cold weather we're having, but aside from that I'm fine. I'm sorry I haven't been able to assist you at your magic shows lately, I've been kind of busy outside of work with Simon. Believe it or not he's a big baby who can't do anything on his own."

Trucy giggled. The imposing Prosecutor Blackquill didn't come across as the type of guy to ask anyone for help, but he had been in prison up until a year ago. He was probably still getting used to his freedom. "That's alright. Where is Prosecutor Blackquill anyway? Why aren't you with him on Christmas Eve?"

"He's visiting his sister at the prison tonight. I'll be seeing him tomorrow for Christmas though."

"I'm glad you won't be alone tomorrow. I'm sure you'd be allowed to come here if you were though!"

Athena grinned. "Thanks. Mr. Wright was really nice to invite me tonight. Anyway, how are you doing... without Apollo I mean?"

Trucy shrugged noncommittally, and Athena realized she may have hit a nerve by mentioning Apollo when Trucy's emotions suddenly took a downward spiral into sadness. She should have known better. Trucy was usually so happy to talk about her magic and her shows, especially now that they were becoming bigger and bigger spectacles. She had moved on from the Wonder Bar to larger venues, and the money was really rolling in, all to the savings account Phoenix had set up for her back when she was nine years old. Now she was surprisingly quiet.

"I miss Polly," she said, confirming Athena's suspicions. "You're a great assistant to practice with, and I really like Bonny and Betty now that we're all friends and they finally decided to join the show again, but it's just not the same without Apollo. Even though he always seemed reluctant to help me and he complained a lot, he was really good at being a magician. I swear, it was like he was born a Gramarye himself. He had a knack for it. Now he's gone."

"Yeah. The office really isn't the same without him around, is it? I actually miss those Chords of Steel exercises. He was so loud, my sensitive hearing could barely stand it sometimes."

"I miss him especially right now," Trucy said. "He always had dinner with us at the office on Christmas and New Year's after Daddy hired him. It was fun. It was like having a big brother." She sniffed, and Athena realized she was trying to hold back tears. "The time difference between here and Khura'in Kingdom is so big that it's hard to talk on the phone or do Skype chats with him, and letters take so long to arrive, so I hardly ever talk to him."

Athena reached over and squeezed her shoulder. "I know. Hey, maybe we can go visit him in Khura'in soon, as long as it's okay with the boss. I'm sure he could use our help."

"I'd like that. It'd be fun! I could go watch him in court again. I miss being his assistant too."

She sat up, seeming to be in better spirits, and sniffed the air. "Something smells good! Uncle Larry really must be a good cook! At least compared to my dad and Maya. Don't tell her I said that."

She smiled. "My lips are sealed."

They were quiet for a few minutes, listening to the Christmas music, when Phoenix approached from behind. "Hey girls. You guys okay?"

"We're fine, Daddy. Just enjoying the music and the really great smells from the kitchen! You've gotta get Uncle Larry over here to cook more often!"

"I'll be sure to do that," he said. "I should probably go check on him and Pearls. I'm kind of surprised the smoke detector hasn't gone off yet."

He was turning to leave when the doorbell rang again. Trucy looked up at him. They had no close neighbours that would be visiting and Larry and Athena were already at the house. They weren't expecting anyone else. Phoenix glanced at his watch quickly and smiled.

"Trucy, go get the door, please. Athena, you should go too."

"To answer your front door? Uh, okay. Let's go Trucy."

Trucy jumped up, curious to see who could be coming to their door on Christmas Eve without an invite.


When Trucy pulled the front door open at first she thought her dad had hired someone to deliver gifts to the house, since whoever was on the front porch right then couldn't even be seen over the stack of boxes they had in their arms.

"Hello…" Trucy said, trying to peer around the stack. Athena was standing behind her, listening to the sound of the visitor's emotions. Whoever it was was practically giddy with excitement.

"Do you want me to take some of those boxes?" Athena said, coming forward and removing the first two from the person's arms. She almost dropped them on the floor when she saw the smiling face peering back at her.

"Hey Athena."

"Apollo?!" "POLLY!"

Trucy and Athena shouted almost at the same time. Trucy ran forward to embrace him, and Athena managed to snatch the other box from his arms before he dropped it. She set it on the floor with the others and watched Trucy bury her face in Apollo's chest, squeezing him so tightly he could barely breath. "Polly! I missed you! No one told me you were coming to visit us!"

Athena had to take a step back, Trucy's emotions were so overwhelming. Athena herself was ecstatic to see her friend again. It had been months, and like Trucy, she and Apollo didn't get a lot of time to talk on the phone or chat online. They'd only exchanged a few letters over the months he'd been gone.

Apollo grinned and hugged her back. "Mr. Wright told me not to tell anyone. He wanted it to be a surprise. A sort of early Christmas present. Me coming here was all on his dime."

Trucy finally let him go and stepped back, letting him enter the house. She grabbed the suitcase he'd brought with him and dragged it inside behind him. "How long are you staying?"

"A few weeks. Mr. Wright said you have a guest room I can stay in and I can stay as long as I want. I'll probably have to head back to Khura'in sometime in early January."

"I'm gonna get him for not telling me," Trucy said. "Now I'll have to redo my whole New Year's Eve routine at the Wonder Bar!"

"Redo? Why's that? And I thought you were doing shows at bigger venues now?"

"I like to go back to my roots every now and then, and it's easier to sell out a smaller venue. And… because you're going to be my assistant again that night, Polly! One night only, the great Polly will return! Get your tickets now!"

Apollo groaned and looked to Athena for help. "Really? I thought you would've taken over the magician's assistant act by now."

Athena grinned at him. "I did for a few shows, but I've been busy with my actual job lately, since we're still a lawyer short."

Apollo grinned sheepishly. "Sorry about that, but you should be happy you still have two lawyers. There was only one lawyer at my law office for the longest time: me."

"Have any of the previous defense attorneys come forward yet?"

He nodded as he took his jacket and shoes off. "Yeah, a few. A lot of them are still nervous or just don't want to do it anymore though, so there still aren't many. We have a lot of work to do still." He looked around, finally taking in the house he'd had yet to see. "Nice place, Trucy. Where is Mr. Wright anyway?"

"Hmm." She cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled. "DADDY!"

He was out of the living room and down the hall in a few seconds. "What?! What's wrong?"

She put her hands on her hips. "Someone is here, and I'm mad at you for not telling me he was coming!"

She pointed at Apollo, and Phoenix grinned. "Sorry, Truce. This was your first Christmas gift."

Apollo couldn't help smiling right back at his former mentor. "Hey Mr. Wright! It's good to see you again!"

"Same to you, Apollo," Phoenix said, grabbing Apollo in a tight hug and slapping his back a few times. "Wow, I've really missed you around the office. The toilet hasn't been nearly as shiny since you've been gone."

Athena waved a hand. "Um, Boss, I clean the toilet just as well as Apollo did!"

Apollo pulled back, blushing again. He reached up to scratch his hair, which popped right back up into place. "Heh. I was always the best toilet cleaner, Athena."

"But you've always been an amazing lawyer too," Phoenix said, suddenly serious. "How is the Justice Law Office doing?"

"Really great. I was telling Trucy and Athena that a few of the detained defense attorneys that were released are starting to come forward, so I'm looking into hiring a few for the office. At the moment I only have one other lawyer, and they're taking over while I'm here. Datz and Nahyuta will help them out."

Athena smacked him on the back. "Well, you've had lots of practice mentoring me, Apollo, so I'm sure you'll be great with any new Khura'inese attorneys you hire."

"I hope so. I hope I can live up to your image, Mr. Wright."

"You already do, Apollo, don't worry."

They stood together in the cramped foyer for a minute or so, everyone just happy to see the group back together, up until Larry popped his head out of the kitchen. "Hey, Nick, you gonna introduce me to the new kid or what?"

Apollo turned towards Larry, his eyes widening. "You're Larry Butz!"

"Er, yeah that's me. Didn't know I was famous or anything though."

"You're the first person Mr. Wright ever defended! In his first trial as a rookie lawyer! I read all about that trial in the papers after he managed to win!"

"Really?" Larry looked over at Phoenix. "I didn't know Nick had fans either."

Phoenix couldn't help smirking at Apollo, who only blushed harder and stared at the floor. Phoenix had known from the very first moment he met Apollo that Apollo knew who he was, even though he hadn't been a lawyer for seven years when they first met. Apollo had been so loud and nervous, like he was meeting a celebrity or something. Phoenix still felt bad for being so disappointing.

"Larry, this is Apollo Justice. He was the junior defense attorney at my firm before he left to open his own office all the way over in Khura'in Kingdom, and it's thanks to him I wasn't found guilty of murder and executed two years ago, too," he said cheerfully, like it was no big thing.

Larry came out of the kitchen and held out a hand for Apollo to shake. "Nice to meet you, kid. Dinner's almost done, guys, so you should all probably head to the dining room now."

Pearl poked her head out where Larry's had been a second ago. "It's going to be delicious everyone! Uncle Larry here is actually an amazing cook. You should get some lessons from him, Mr. Nick."

"Yeah, yeah, I get it, Pearls, I'm not a good cook."

She looked around. "Hey, where's Mystic Maya? She's usually the first one at the dinner table."

"I'm coming! Let me just bring this box into the living room!" Maya called from the stairway.

"I've got some boxes of Christmas stuff too, Ms. Fey," Apollo said, picking up his boxes again and handing them over to her.

"Gee, thanks, Polly." She was just able to carry them all to the living room herself.

By the time Maya got back, everyone else was settled into the dining room. She scooted around the table to find her place in between Apollo and Phoenix on one side of the table. She gave Apollo a motherly pat on the head as she passed him by, as if he wasn't only a few years younger than her. "It's good to see you again, Polly."

Apollo reached up to fix his hair spikes. "You too, Ms. Fey."

"Oh, Polly! I'm not some old lady! I already told Athena and I'll tell you too, please call me Maya."

Larry, who for some reason had taken the place at the head of the table instead of Phoenix, reached forward to start cutting the turkey. "You guys are gonna love this, just ask Pearl here."

"It looks really good, Mr. Butz," Athena said from the other side of the table where she sat with Pearl and Trucy. Widget was lit up in a strange reddish colour Phoenix had never noticed before. When Larry had finally managed to cut a few slices, chatter resumed around the table as everyone started filling their plates.

Phoenix felt Maya entwine her fingers with his under the table while they waited for the next dish to come around and she leaned over to him to speak quietly. "Nick… I'm really happy right now."

He turned to her and smiled. "Me too."

"It's like, the whole family is here. Larry included."

"Yeah. We're only missing Edgeworth."

"Well, I'm sure he's having fun with his guest, whoever they are. We'll have to convince him to show up for New Year's with them though."

"Definitely."

Maya felt a slight poking on her shoulder and turned to see Apollo attempting to pass her a dish.

"Come on, no lovey dovey stuff at the table, you guys!" Trucy said from across the table.

"We weren't!" Maya said defensively, taking the dish from an eye rolling Apollo and starting to shovel mashed potatoes onto her plate.

"Save some for me, Maya," Phoenix said.

She stuck her tongue out at him and handed the dish over.


When dinner was finished and everyone had eaten a piece (or three in Maya's case) of Pearl's homemade apple pie, the kids headed downstairs to the basement. Apollo hated being included in the 'kid' group, being older than all of them by at least a few years, but when Athena told him she was going to kick his butt in Mario Kart he decided that he couldn't let that challenge go unaccepted. That left Maya, Phoenix and Larry to retire to the living room. The Christmas album Trucy was playing earlier was still softly playing in the background.

Larry settled into the one armchair in the room, allowing Maya and Phoenix to sit together on the couch.

"Larry, I really don't know what we would've done without you here to help cook tonight," Maya said, leaning back and patting her stomach to make a point. "It was honestly delicious. Nick and I definitely would've botched it and it wouldn't have been half as good."

"Aw, it was nothing. Just glad I could help." He glanced over to the Christmas tree then, and noticed the gifts he'd brought with him. "Hey, how about you guys open the things I got you? Trucy and Pearl can open theirs later or tomorrow for Christmas." He stood up to grab the two items from under the tree and passed each of them over.

Maya's was thin and wrapped in some red striped wrapping paper. "You go first, Maya," Larry said.

Maya tore into the paper, revealing two pieces of plain cardboard. Between them so they wouldn't bend were a few sheets of paper with various drawings on them. There were some flowers, animals, and nature scenes. At first Maya thought they were just things Larry had drawn to give to her, until she came to a drawing of a magatama, glowing green the way Phoenix's did.

"Larry…. What are these?" she asked, her voice almost in a whisper.

"They're Elise Deauxnim originals... I figured it was best that you have them. I just found them a few weeks ago when cleaning out my artist supplies and hadn't had the chance to bring them to Nick's office. I thought you could put them in frames or something."

She could only stare at them, her hands trembling ever so slightly. It'd been over nine years since her mother's death, and even before that she hadn't really known her mother that well and didn't have much to remember her by aside from the Master's talisman.

She set the pictures on the coffee table and stood up, letting a single tear slip down her cheek. Larry jumped off his chair as well. "M-Maya! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you upset!"

Phoenix reached for her, but she rushed at Larry, and grabbed him in a warm hug. "Thank you so much, Larry. I wasn't expecting something like this… Thank you."

He returned the hug, letting her go after a few seconds. For once he didn't have much to say. She wiped at her eyes and returned to the couch.

Phoenix wrapped an arm around her to give her a gentle squeeze. "You okay?"

"Yeah, Nick. I'm good. Thanks. I'll definitely buy some frames for these."

Larry nodded, glad that she had reeled herself in so quickly. "Well… open yours, Nick."

Phoenix was a little more reserved opening his than Maya was. He'd never been a fan of opening presents in front of people and having to pretend to like whatever they got him. But when he saw what Larry had purchased, a genuine smile found its way onto his face. "Wow, Larry. Really? You remember that?"

"Of course!" He dug into his pocket, pulling out his keys and showed off his own yellow Signal Samurai keychain. "I wasn't sure if you still had yours, but I figured not, since it's been about twenty-five years since we last watched it. I did remember you were always partial to the blue guy."

"Signal Samurai?" Maya said, her interest piqued at hearing the word 'samurai'. She leaned over to look at the box in Phoenix's hand. Inside on a little tuft of foam was a keychain of a blue samurai helmet.

"You never told Maya, the Steel Samurai fan that she is, about Signal Samurai, Nick?!" Larry said. "What have you been hiding from her all these years?"

Phoenix lifted the keychain out of the box and handed it to Maya to let her look at it. "When Larry, Edgeworth and I were kids there was a show on TV kind of like the Steel Samurai, called Signal Samurai. I think it was about obeying traffic laws or something?"

"There were three characters! Signal Red, Signal Blue, and Signal Yellow!" Larry said, clearly remembering more about it than Phoenix. "We used to know their catchphrases and poses and everything."

"Wow, Nick. You've been making fun of me all these years for liking the Samurai series, but you've been a closet fan all this time?"

"Not exactly," he said. "I did grow out of it by the time I was ten years old, unlike someone I know. But I will admit that watching Steel Samurai and all its spin-offs with you always did make me nostalgic. Not sure why I never told you."

"You know I'm going to have to find the old episodes online to watch, right?"

"Maya, it's a show from the late 90s."

She shrugged. "Doesn't matter. If it's got 'Samurai' in the name, I've gotta watch it." She handed it back over to him. "Put it on your keychain."

"I will. I did lose the other one. I had it for a long time, but when I was disbarred I got rid of a lot of things that I probably shouldn't have. I kind of regret it now. That keychain was probably among the stuff I threw out." He looked at Larry. "You really put a lot of thought into these gifts, Larry. Thanks."

"No problem at all, Nick! I owe you anyway."

Maya got up and grabbed the box she'd brought downstairs earlier to hand over to Larry. "Sorry Larry. It was sort of last minute, but we couldn't let you go without."

Larry ripped his open just as quickly and excitedly as Maya had. He opened the box and pulled out a booklet tied together with string. His eyes quickly widened when he read the first page. "Um… guys if this is your subtle way of asking me to participate in a threesome, I'm flattered but whatever you might think of me, I'm not really into that-"

"WHAT?!" Maya almost jumped to the other side of the room to grab the gift out of Larry's hands. "This isn't for you!"

"'Good for one free lap dance'," Larry said, repeating what had been written on the homemade coupon. "Nick, you lucky dog. She made you a sexy coupon booklet."

Phoenix could only lean forward and put his face in his hands.

"I'm so sorry, Larry," Maya said, backing out of the room, her face beet red. "I-I mixed up the gift with one of Nick's! Whoops! I'll go get the right one!"

Larry was attempting not to laugh for his friend's sakes, they were both clearly embarrassed. "Wonder what else she's got planned for your Christmas night, huh, Nick?"

An embarrassed groan was the only response he got.

Chapter Text

December 31st, 2028, 8:00 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

“Someone’s at the door! Nick! Get off your butt and answer the door!”

Phoenix was so absorbed in watching the newest boy band dance around the stage of the New Year’s Eve special he was watching on the TV that he hardly heard Maya’s call from the kitchen. Apparently Pearl was a fan of this band, but he didn’t see the appeal. He figured they’d probably go the way of NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys in the early 2000s anyway. They never did last long.

He got up from his spot on the couch. “I got it, Maya!” he called. She was in the kitchen, probably covering another plate in crackers and cheese since she’d already packed one of her stomachs full with a plateful that was supposed to be snacks for their guests when they arrived.

He made his way to the door and checked out the peep hole, then pulled it open. “It’s only Larry!” he yelled to Maya, standing aside and letting his friend in.

Only Larry?” Larry said. “Please, I’m the life of the party.” He handed Phoenix another plate of hot dogs wrapped in bacon, the same thing he’d brought to their Christmas party. “Besides, it’s not just me,” he said, pointing down the driveway. Phoenix hadn’t noticed Edgeworth’s red sports car behind Larry’s beat up old Jeep.

“Oh, great. I didn’t think Edgeworth would be late, he never is.” He took the plate from Larry and raised his eyebrows. “Do you know how to make anything besides these things, Larry?”

“Of course! Don’t you remember your Christmas Eve dinner? That was all me, dude. These things are just really good!” he said, lifting the saran wrap he’d covered them in to pick one up by its toothpick. “If I recall, I went home with an empty plate on Christmas Eve.”

Phoenix rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, stop rubbing it in that you’re a good cook and I’m not.”

Larry grinned. “Where are Maya and the girls?” he asked, popping the tiny hot dog into his mouth.

“Pearls went into the city with Apollo and Trucy for Trucy's New Year's Eve show at the Wonder Bar. Athena is going to be there too and after the show they're all going to watch the fireworks in the city at midnight. Maya’s in the kitchen eating, and eating… she never stops eating.”

“Nick, I heard that!” Maya said, coming out of the kitchen with the her plate of snacks. “Good to see you again, Larry!”

Larry exchanged a friendly one armed hug with her. “You too. Looking nice as always.”

She was in her traditional Master’s robes. Phoenix would’ve thought they’d be too hot or heavy, but Maya always seemed most comfortable when she wore them, and they looked nice anyway, befitting of a person with the title of Master. “Thank you! You too! Didn’t you wear that to the Sprocket wedding?”

“Yeah, I figured I might as well wear it again tonight because I have nothing better to dress up for.”

Phoenix knew Edgeworth would undoubtedly show up in his formal courtroom attire too, and felt underdressed in his sweater and jeans, but there was no point changing now. He fidgeted a bit. “Hey Maya, can you stay by the door to let Edgeworth in? He’s here, he’s just out in his car.”

“Of course!” she said, pushing her plate of snacks into his hand and turning on her heel to head back to the door. Phoenix and Larry headed towards the living room with the food.

Maya went to the door to wait, noting the car was still running. She waved, and it finally shut off. Edgeworth climbed out of the driver’s seat and walked around to open the passenger’s side door so his guest could get out too. They walked to the front door together and Maya had to smile when she recognized who it was.

“NICK! COME SEE WHO MR. EDGEWORTH BROUGHT!”

At her yell, Phoenix was out of the living room and back at the door in a flash. The anticipation was killing him, but if it was who he was thinking it was going to be, he would have to brace himself for some pain. “Let’s see who this illustrious guest is,” he said as he approached. Maya stepped out of the way and waved her arm in a flourish so he could get a good look.

“Hello Phoenix Wright.”

Phoenix stopped to stand beside Maya and flashed his visitor a nervous grin. “Hey Franziska.”

Franziska von Karma stood out on the porch beside Edgeworth, looking just as majestic as she always had. Her silvery hair, which was always the most striking part of her, was longer now, falling just past her shoulders and blowing lightly in the cold wind. She had a black turtle-necked sweater dress on under her dark blue coat, and the same stocking covered legs and high heeled boots she always seemed to wear. Like Maya, she seemed forever young. If he didn’t know any better, he wouldn’t have guessed her to be over 21. Phoenix couldn’t help eyeing her hip for any sign of the whip she normally carried, but she didn’t seem to have it with her.

“What are you grinning like a fool for?” she said, pushing her way into the house. Edgeworth followed her inside and stopped to converse with Maya as he took his coat off at the door. Franziska however went straight for Phoenix. “Why are you so happy to see me? If I had my whip I would whip you right now, Phoenix Wright!”

“W-What?! Why?! What did I do1?!”

“You were disbarred is what! How foolish could you be, being tricked into presenting forged evidence like that?!” Since she didn't have her whip, every other word was punctuated with a hard poke to his chest. “How was I supposed to finally get my revenge against you for defeating me all those times if you weren’t a lawyer anymore?!”

He could already feel a bruise forming. “It wasn’t my fault!” She raised her eyebrows in challenge. “Well, okay, I may not have checked the legitimacy of the evidence but-”

“No buts, Phoenix Wright! Only a fool would have presented evidence in court without checking it first! Although I have heard that Maya Fey was not present at that trial. Perhaps your mind was elsewhere?”

Edgeworth finally approached, and he laid an arm on Franziska’s. “Calm down, Franziska. This is not the time.”

Phoenix looked at Edgeworth gratefully, then turned back to Franziska. “Well, I became a lawyer again almost two years ago now, Franziska. You can always try your hand at defeating me again, but just so you know, I did win a trial against Edgeworth just a few months ago, so…”

Another poke. “Don’t you brag to me, Phoenix Wright. I dare say I’ve surpassed my little brother’s prosecuting abilities already, so the fact that you’re still able to defeat him has nothing to do with whether or not you could win against me! If there were any cases worth prosecuting over here I could take you down a peg or two.” She took a deep breath, finally standing back. “But, Miles is correct. This is the holiday season after all, so I will admonish you properly sometime in the new year.” She turned to address Maya now, as if Phoenix didn’t matter any longer. “Thank you, Miss Fey, for allowing me into your home. I decided to visit Miles for the holidays this year, and I’m grateful you’ve invited me to visit you as well."

Maya grabbed Franziska in a hug and Franziska froze, standing rigid in the arms of the other woman. “Miss von Karma! I’m so happy to see you! It’s been years! And please call me Maya!”

Franziska patted Maya on the back, and was relieved when Maya finally let go. “You may call me Franziska, then. I must say, it didn't surprise me much when Miles told me that you and this fool here were romantically involved. What you see in him I will never know, but so long as you're happy I suppose that's all that matters."

Maya smiled awkwardly and Phoenix rolled his eyes. “Uh, thanks?” Maya said. “What have you been up to all these years anyway?"

“Miles and I had some work overseas with Interpol a few months after that whole Hazakura debacle, then I went back to prosecuting, so I’ve been working in Europe for years now. I only come to the States to visit Miles every other year or so.”

“Well, I’m glad to see you again, and so is Nick even if he pretends not to be.”

There was a loud commotion from the living room, and everyone turned to see the orange blur that was Larry run into the hallway. “Is that who I think it is?!” he exclaimed, his face lighting up when he laid eyes on her. “Franzy! I haven’t seen you since… Well, you know.”

Franziska's eyes widened. "Larry Butz," she muttered. Phoenix noticed the telltale movement of Franziska reaching for a whip that wasn’t attached to her side like it always was before. When she remembered it wasn’t there, she strode over to Larry and gave him a swift punch in the arm, making him yelp. "Shut up," she hissed at him. "Do not say another word!"

"I wasn't gonna!" Larry exclaimed. “I promised didn’t I? Jeez, your punches still hurt,” he said, rubbing his arm. “I think I actually preferred the whip."

Franziska ignored him and turned around to look at Edgeworth. “You didn’t tell me he’d be here, Miles,” she said.

Edgeworth shrugged. “I didn’t know. Wright didn’t inform me.”

Franziska turned to Phoenix, who took a step away so he was out of reach of her poking or punching arm. “I didn’t know you were the one coming with Edgeworth either, so why would I think to tell you?"

Larry just stood there. “It’s been a while, Franzy," he said. "Years, actually. You know my book about you became really popular? People loved it!”

“Yes, well, of course they would, I was the main character. And your art did improve an awful lot before it was published.”

Larry beamed. “It helped that you were the model.”

Franziska tried to hold back her amused smirk and completely failed. Phoenix exchanged a look with Maya. They didn’t need any words to convey what they were thinking, which was something along the lines of ‘what the hell?’

Edgeworth cleared his throat and held out a bottle of wine he’d brought in with him. “Here, Wright. For tonight.”

“Yes!” Larry grabbed the bottle before Phoenix could take it. “You always bring the best wine, Edgey.”

“True,” Maya said. “Nick would’ve bought boxed wine.”

Edgeworth made a face. “Of course he would.”

“It’s cheap and it gets you drunk, isn’t that all that matters?” Phoenix said, shrugging.

Edgeworth shook his head sadly. “Someone like you wouldn’t understand the fine art of wine tasting.”

Franziska was taking off her coat and hanging it in the closet when Larry spoke to her again. “Come on, Franzy. Let me pour you a glass.” She nodded curtly and followed Larry with no complaints.

Phoenix turned his bewildered gaze to Edgeworth, who only shrugged. “She and Larry apparently have some history.”

“History?”

“I don’t know all the details. But I will be heading down to your living quarters now so I can keep an eye on my sister and our lecherous friend.”

Phoenix nodded. “Go right ahead. Make yourself at home.”

He hurried away, and Maya leaned over to Phoenix when Edgeworth was out of earshot. “History? With Larry? What the heck?”

“I know he made that Franzy’s Whippity-Whip Trip book,” he said, cringing just at the title of it. “I didn’t realize she actually willingly helped him with it though. You don’t think…?”

“I — I really don’t know, Nick. I don’t think I want to know. I mean, it’s Franziska and Larry. Franziska is so proper and beautiful and serious and Larry is… well, Larry.”

“It’s too weird, right?”

“Totally weird.” They stood together for a few seconds in silence, both thinking a bit too hard about the way Larry and Franziska had interacted. Maya was the first to snap out of it by clapping her hands together in front of her. “We’d better go, we’re keeping our guests.”

“Right.”

Larry and Franziska were seated on the couch together when Phoenix and Maya entered. They both had a glass of wine in their hands already. Larry was chatting with her, and they looked to be getting along surprisingly well. Maya practically dove for the chair that Edgeworth wasn’t occupying, forcing Phoenix to sit at the end of the couch beside them.

Edgeworth cleared his throat politely. “Franziska, I don’t believe you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Wright’s daughter, have you?”

Franziska turned her attention away from Larry. “Not yet, no. He didn’t even bother to introduce me to her.”

Phoenix smiled. “She’d probably love to meet you, but she’s out with friends tonight. She should be back sometime after midnight, if you’re still here you could meet her then.”

Franziska nodded curtly. “I must say I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that you managed to raise a child.” She looked at Maya. “This daughter, she turned out okay?” Phoenix wouldn’t have liked the implication of that question if Franziska didn’t sound playful while she said it. He could tell she was only teasing. Perhaps age had mellowed her out a little.

Maya giggled behind her hand. “Trucy is an angel, and it’s all because of Nick. He took her in when her biological father abandoned her and raised her as a single dad, you know.”

“You two were not together back then?”

“It’s a long story, believe me, but no I wasn’t really around often enough to be a mother to her like she deserved. I try to make up for it now though.”

“And I’m assuming you do not have any children of your own as of yet?” Franziska said, sipping at her wine.

“Not yet.” Maya looked over at Phoenix, who was busy occupying himself with getting his own drink and cleared her throat. “Nick, pour me one too.” He nodded and grabbed another glass. She looked at Edgeworth, who was staring daggers at Larry. “Mr. Edgeworth, aren’t you having any?”

Edgeworth looked like he’d been snapped out of some trance when he looked at her. “As much as I’d like to, I’m Franziska’s designated driver, and possibly Larry’s too if he drinks too much since he didn’t seem to think about how he was getting home before pouring a glass,” he said.

Maya shrugged. “You guys can stay here for the night if you need to. There’s a cot in the basement and we have the couch, and one bedroom upstairs is still empty.”

Edgeworth leaned forward eagerly. “I’ll take you up on that offer then, Maya.” He swiftly took a glass for himself.

Larry leaned back comfortably. “So what are five sophisticated adults like us going to do on New Year’s Eve anyway?”

“I think you mean four sophisticated adults,” Edgeworth muttered into his glass.

“I know!” Maya said, smiling mischievously over at Phoenix. “Let’s play poker.”

Phoenix narrowed his eyes at her. “How about we don't?”

“Why not, Phoenix Wright?” Franziska asked. “As long as we don’t bet any real money, I don’t see why we can’t.”

“Yeah Nick, we can play for glory, not money,” Maya said, looking pointedly at him again. That had always been his excuse when he played.

“I can deal,” Larry offered. "I don't want to play though."

Maya turned to Franziska. “Hey Franziska, did you know Nick was a poker shark during the time he was disbarred?”

“I do believe you need to fill me in, Maya. Miles was always so vague when he spoke about what Phoenix Wright was up to for those seven long years.”

"It's nice to know you thought about me so much over the years, Franziska,” Phoenix said. She scowled at him but refrained from attempting to cause him any physical harm given she was holding a wine glass and Larry was sitting between them. He turned to Maya. “Fine, Maya. If you want to play me that badly, just say so. You haven't played against me since before I was disbarred, and I’ve had a lot of practice since then."

“Oh, confident are we?”

He leaned back. “Well, I was undefeated.”

Franziska looked exasperated. “Are you telling me you were also an undefeated poker player?”

He nodded. Bragging wasn’t normally something he did, but with Franziska he just couldn’t help himself. He liked winding her up. “Yep, for seven years. Still am, technically, except I don’t play professionally anymore.”

“You could never beat me though,” Maya said. “You still owe me five hundred dollars, and you’re about ten years late on that. You also had help a lot of the time when you played in the Hydeout.”

Franziska looked back to him with her eyebrows raised. “Help? Isn’t that another word for cheating?”

Phoenix sighed. “It wasn’t cheating, I never knew the other player’s cards, I just sort of had help seeing their tells. She wasn’t there every night anyway, Maya. I’m good on my own too.”

Franziska sat forward. “Let’s play then. I might not have the chance to go up against you in the courtroom again any time soon, but I’m sure I can beat you at a little card game.”

Phoenix shrugged. “If you want to try.”

Maya left the room for a second and came back with a pack of cards. She threw the package to Larry. “There you go, dealer.” He opened them up and started shuffling. “We’ll play Five Card Draw since poor Mr. Edgeworth here doesn’t know how to play Texas Hold’em,” Maya said, patting Edgeworth’s knee.

He frowned at her. “I prefer logical games like chess to games of chance like poker.”

Maya smiled at him and continued. “We can use the potato chips, crackers and cheese as poker chips,” she said, clearing off a spot on the coffee table and issuing everyone an equal amount of food. “Let’s say the chips are worth five, crackers are twenty-five, and cheese is a hundred. The ante is one chip,” she said. Everyone threw a chip into the pile.

She pulled her chair up closer to the table, as did Edgeworth, and Larry dealt everyone five cards. Maya watched curiously as Phoenix picked up his cards and leaned back to study them. When he looked up and across the table at her, that smirk and half lidded gaze that he’d kept plastered on his face during the last few years of his disbarment was back in place. He looked so aloof, like he couldn’t care less what his or anyone else’s hand was like. It was a little weird to see him acting like that again, but it was also impressive how quickly and easily he slid back into that old persona.

Franziska seemed to notice the change too, and frowned. It was so different from the confident looks he used to give her across the courtroom when he thought he had a case won, and she couldn't read him for the life of her.

Phoenix scanned the others, looking for tells. He may not have had the same ability as Trucy or Apollo but he did have a ton of practice and could see almost right away that Franziska did not have a good poker face. In fact, she just looked confused. Edgeworth almost pulled off a confident look, but his clenching jaw indicated his hand was anything but good. With Maya, it was hard to tell. That was the reason he’d never been able to beat her. He could never tell by her expressions if she had a good hand or not since she seemed to switch them up so often. Sometimes her happy looks really would mean a good hand, but other times she’d look unsure and then slap down a straight flush or other strong hand. Phoenix bluffed in the courtroom but at the poker table, Maya had bluffing down pat.

“I’ll open,” Maya said, setting two chips on the table.

Edgeworth threw another two onto the table to match her bet. “Call.”

Phoenix mimicked this by throwing two more chips onto the table. Everyone turned to look at Franziska next, who was studying her cards meticulously. When she realized everyone was waiting on her, she also placed two chips on the table. Larry was leaning toward her to get a look at her cards since he wasn’t playing, and whispered something in her ear. She nodded slightly at whatever he said. Each of them then discarded the cards they wished to get rid of and Larry dealt them new ones before another round of betting started.

“I’ll raise,” Maya said, smirking across at Phoenix and putting a cracker in the pile. The way she kept her attention on him made Edgeworth and Franziska wholly aware of the fact that she didn’t consider either of them much of a threat.

Edgeworth pursed his lips and glanced down at his cards again. “I fold,” he said, placing them face down and pushing them towards the middle of the table.

Phoenix snorted. “You always fold.”

“I know when I have a bad hand, Wright. Know when to hold them, know when to fold them—“

“Know when to walk away!” Maya sang out.

“Know when to run!” Phoenix finished it with her, both of them giggling like children.

Edgeworth rolled his eyes. “You two really were made for each other. Is that not a saying in poker circles?”

“Those are lyrics to an old country music song, Edgeworth,” Phoenix explained, “but I guess they’re apt. I get it, you don’t want to waste your precious cheese and crackers.” He threw a cracker onto the pile with Maya’s. “Call.”

When it came to Franziska again, she leaned over towards Larry to whisper something to him. He made sure to keep his back towards Phoenix to hide her cards from his view and muttered something quietly back to her.

“Franziska,” Phoenix interrupted. “Do you even know how to play poker?”

Franziska’s cheeks coloured, and that smirk on Phoenix’s face was starting to infuriate her. “Of course I do! Do you think I, Franziska von Karma, would not know how to play a little card game like this?”

“Really? I wouldn’t think you’d need Larry’s help then, of all people. There’s a reason he’s the dealer and didn’t want to play. He sucks at playing the game.”

“I still know how to play it, Nick! I’m just unlucky!” Larry said. “I never get a good hand.”

Edgeworth took another sip of his drink. “Franziska, just admit you never learned. Gambling wasn’t something Manfred von Karma took kindly to unless it was horse racing. He thought gambling on cards was a waste of time and money.”

“Hmph. Fine, Phoenix Wright, you are correct. I’ve never played it before, but I am a quick study and with Larry’s help I do believe I can still defeat you. And wipe that smirk off your face!” she snapped.

The smirk stayed firmly in place. “You’re lucky we’re not playing Texas Hold’em. Five Card Draw is a lot easier. If you still want to play then fine, but you’re going to be hungry at the end of the night after I’ve taken all your cheese and crackers.” Franziska brought out his competitive side, and this wasn’t like the courtroom. There was no truth to be found, simply a game to be won, and he wanted to win.

Maya tsked from her side of the table. “You’ll be even hungrier, Nick, when I take it all from you.”

“You two seem to be under the impression that I have no chance of winning,” Edgeworth said. “Don’t underestimate me.”

“You already folded and we aren’t even five minutes into the game!” Phoenix said.

Edgeworth just hid his face in his wine glass.


Almost two hours later Phoenix and Maya both sat with a large pile of winnings, hoarding most of the cheese and crackers to themselves. Edgeworth had a few measly chips but a few more glasses of wine than everyone else had throughout the night, and Franziska had a few pieces of cheese with mostly crackers mixed in on her side of the table.

Edgeworth had already folded again, Franziska had matched Phoenix’s bet of one piece of cheese, and they were now waiting on Maya’s decision. She studied her cards, and then studied each of her opponent’s faces. Phoenix still sat with that impassive expression, almost like he was looking directly through her instead of at her, so she really had no idea what his hand was like. He had raised twice already which seemed to indicate that he thought it was good. When it came to Franziska, Maya focused more of her attention on Larry, since he was still helping her and knew her hand.

Franziska and Larry were sitting so close together now that Maya’s mind temporarily left the game completely to think about what this so called history between them was. They seemed so comfortable with each other, it was weird. She never knew Franziska to be a touchy feely sort of person, she had even tensed up when Maya hugged her earlier, and yet here she was shoulder to shoulder and heads together with Larry Butz?! She didn’t seem drunk either, she’d had two glasses of wine so far, and she’d barely touched the second.

Phoenix waved a hand lazily in front of Maya. “Maya? Are you still with us or is the wine getting to your head?”

“I’m not drunk!” she insisted. Her own first glass of wine was still half full beside her. “Sorry. Um…” One more glance at Larry told her that he thought Franziska had a pretty good hand, so she conceded. “Fine, I fold. It’s not worth losing more of my cheese.”

For once Phoenix’s poker face faltered and he smiled outright. “Alright! It’s just you and me now, Franziska. Let’s see who’s luckier.”

“Fine,” Franziska said, slapping down her cards.

Phoenix blanched. “A royal flush?! What the hell?!”

“I assume that’s better than whatever you have?”

“That’s the best hand possible!” Phoenix exclaimed as he flipped over his own cards. A straight flush. Larry whooped and Maya laughed out loud. Even Edgeworth couldn’t suppress his grin.

“Nick! Franziska just destroyed your going-on-ten-years undefeated record!”

It was true that when he did play for fun against Apollo or Athena, and sometimes even Trucy, he always won, so despite not playing professionally anymore he was still undefeated. When they played, Athena would take off Widget and Apollo would remove his bracelet to make it more fair, but even without their special items to help them, all three of them still had an advantage over him because their abilities were innate. And yet Franziska, who had never played the game before, had managed to win with Larry’s help?

“Larry, did you cheat to help her win?!”

Franziska slammed her hand on the table. “Phoenix Wright, do not accuse us of cheating! A von Karma is always perfect, cheating is not necessary!” She leaned forward and dragged all of the food on Phoenix’s side of the table toward her. Of course she didn’t plan on eating any of it when they’d all had their hands all over it half the night, but it still felt very satisfying to take it from him. “I told you I was a quick study. I may not have ever defeated you in the courtroom, but I do believe that look on your face right now makes up for that completely.” She turned to Larry next. “You share my winnings as I will admit that even I could not have won without your help, Larry.”

Larry threw an arm around her shoulders to give her a friendly squeeze. "Hey, all I did was give you suggestions. You are a fast learner after all." Maya tensed, just knowing that a pummelling was on Larry’s way for daring to touch Franziska so casually. But Franziska did nothing, not even shrug him off. In fact it looked like she was blushing. An honest to goodness blush. Maya looked across the table at Phoenix and caught his eye. Another ‘what the hell?’ look passed between them.

Maya looked at Edgeworth next, sure that he would protest to Larry’s physical contact with his self-proclaimed big sister, but all the wine he’d been drinking had finally caught up to him, and with the excitement of the last showdown finished, he had promptly fallen asleep in his chair. Even drunk and passed out he managed to somehow look dignified, like he was simply resting his eyes.

Maya cleared her throat and began cleaning up all the food they'd used in their game. "Hey Franziska, can you help me bring this stuff into the kitchen?"

Franziska nodded and got up, letting Larry's arm slip from her shoulders. She took a plate with her and followed Maya to the kitchen. As soon as she set the plate down on the counter, Maya turned to her and put her hand on her hip.

Franziska stopped. "What?"

"So Franzy, what's up with you and Larry?"

"What do you mean? There is nothing up with us,” she said easily.

Maya narrowed her eyes. “Franziska, Larry Butz just put his arm around you and you didn’t even seem to mind. If anything I’d say you liked it.”

“I’ve just been drinking too much,” she said quickly.

“You had one glass. Come on, you can tell me,” Maya grinned. “Did you guys actually have a relationship or something while he was illustrating that book?”

Franziska cleared her throat. “There was no relationship.”

“A fling then? Admit it! Admit it!” Maya said, playfully poking Franziska’s arm.

Franziska shot her a glare but sighed in resignation. “I suppose you could call it a fling.”

Maya gasped. “What?! Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously.”

Maya giggled. “No offense Franziska, but you think my taste in men is bad? You’re one to talk.”

“Yes, I realize that. I’m sorry.”

“Why Larry? I mean he's not a bad looking guy by any means, and he’s gotten better with age like Nick, but he's just so Larry-ish.”

“He was very persistent,” she said, smiling a little. “Most men treat me like some sort of crazy witch when they realize what I’m like, before tucking tail like cowards, or they don’t approach me at all because they already know. Believe me, I’m well aware of what people say about me behind my back, but I never had nor will have any intention of changing myself for a relationship, and with him, that was never a problem.”

“Larry always has been persistent when it comes to the women he likes…”

She nodded. “It did start off with that book of his. If he was going to base a character on me it had to be perfect so I agreed to help. When it was finished I went back to Europe, and we lost contact eventually. I couldn’t visit often enough for it to work out, but I never really expected it to in the first place. We haven’t spoken for almost ten years so it was a bit of a surprise to see him here tonight. I suppose I’m still comfortable around him given our history together.”

“Did you not want anyone to know?” Maya asked, remembering what Franziska said to Larry when she first arrived, and how he replied that he’d ‘promised’.

Franziska pursed her lips. “I told him not to tell anyone of our tryst, yes. He kept it a secret all these years, it seems. Miles knew that I was helping with the book, but nothing else, though he may have had his suspicions.”

“Did you have feelings for him? Or was it a…” she suppressed a shudder, "was it a more physical thing?”

Franziska crossed her arms and squeezed her bicep with one hand. “I suppose I felt something for him. It may surprise you but he was a lot less annoying in private. He was quite sweet and actually seemed to care about me. Not that it matters now.”

Maya could tell Franziska was getting tired of talking about it. Either because it really was in the past or because she was still struggling with feelings she thought long gone, Maya wasn’t sure.

A light knock on the doorway could be heard. Phoenix smiled at them when they looked up. “It’s five minutes to midnight. Come back to the living room. Larry and I managed to wake Edgeworth again so he’ll at least be semi aware that we’re ringing in a new year.”

“My foolish little brother has been drinking too much,” Franziska said, shaking her head and following Phoenix out of the kitchen.

Maya nudged her playfully. “It is a new year, Franziska,” she said. “No time like the present to start over, huh?”

Franziska said nothing to that.


Franziska took her seat on the couch beside Larry again when they re-entered the living room. He smiled pleasantly at her but made no move to touch her again. Maya pushed Phoenix into her vacant seat and sat on the arm of the chair, throwing an arm around his shoulders. Edgeworth was sleepily pushing his glasses further up on his face as he stared at the TV where they were counting down the last minute.

Maya started counting down with the TV host at ten seconds, and eventually she had everyone counting with her.

9…

8…

7…

6…

5…

4…

3…

2…

1…

“Happy New Year!”

Edgeworth raised his wine glass towards everyone and took a sip while Maya unashamedly slipped herself from the arm of the chair onto Phoenix’s lap to kiss him.

Franziska turned to Larry. “Larry Butz!”

“Y-Yeah?”

“I am going to kiss you now. For New Year’s,” she announced. Edgeworth choked on his wine and Phoenix and Maya pulled back from their rather thorough kiss to gape at them.

Franziska leaned forward to plant a chaste kiss against Larry’s lips. He grinned when she pulled away. “You have no idea how much I missed you, Franzy.”

“I have some idea,” she smirked.

“Oh! Poor Mr. Edgeworth!” Maya cried, mainly to take everyone’s attention off of Franziska and Larry. She jumped off of Phoenix’s lap and sidled up to Edgeworth. “Here’s your kiss,” she said, leaning down and pecking him lightly on the cheek.

“Thank you, Maya,” he said, “though it wasn’t necessary.”

She shrugged. “Happy New Year everyone! May 2029 be just as exciting as 2028!”

“Or less exciting,” Phoenix said. “I could do with a little less excitement.”

“I don’t know, Nick,” Larry said, glancing at Franziska. “I could do with more.”


January 1st, 2029, 5:00 AM
Fey-Wright Residence
Phoenix & Maya’s Bedroom

Phoenix had always cursed the fact that he was a light sleeper. Maya on the other hand seemed able to sleep through anything, so it was no surprise to him when the loud thump from right outside their bedroom door managed to wake him, but not her.

He sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Apollo, Pearl and Trucy came home together around 2 am and had gone straight to bed, so he knew the noise wasn’t any of them. Franziska was staying in the guest room, but Larry and Edgeworth had taken the couch downstairs and the cot in the basement respectively. He crawled out of bed, deciding that it was better to check. Maybe Franziska needed the bathroom and didn’t know where it was or couldn’t find it in the dark?

By the time he’d pulled a t-shirt on and made it out of the bedroom, whoever it was was slowly attempting to make their way down the stairs in the dark. Phoenix walked along the wall until he found the light switch and flipped it on.

It wasn’t Franziska, it was Larry, and he yelped when the light was turned on, then slapped a hand over his mouth. Phoenix squinted at him. “What are you doing, Larry? There’s a bathroom downstairs.”

“Uuuuuh, yeah I know.”

Phoenix was still half asleep and didn’t really question why Larry would have come upstairs if he knew there was a bathroom downstairs. Being Larry, it probably wouldn’t have made sense anyway. He yawned. “Well, are you okay? I heard something, it woke me up.”

“I’m fine! I just couldn’t see and I bumped my foot on that table,” he said, pointing to a decorative table placed in the hallway. “Thanks for checking on me, Nick! You can go back to sleep! Night night!”

Before Phoenix could even say anything more, Larry was down the stairs and back in the living room to sleep away the rest of the morning on the couch. Phoenix slowly made his way back to the bedroom and crawled back into bed beside Maya, who still didn’t stir.

He was drowsing again when suddenly his brain seemed to turn on, and his eyes snapped open again. When he turned the light on before, he hadn’t registered the state of Larry’s clothing, but now it was all too clear. The orange waistcoat and black tie he was wearing that night had been draped over his arm, and his white shirt was unbuttoned halfway down. And just down the hall was the room Franziska was supposed to be sleeping in.

“Oh, God,” he muttered. Had they defiled his home by doing… that just down the hall while everyone else, a literal house full of people, had been sleeping?! Would Franziska have done something like that? Phoenix couldn’t bear the thought alone, and immediately started shaking Maya by the shoulder to wake her up.

She groaned and rolled over onto her back. “Nngh, Nick. What do you want?”

“Maya… I think… I think Larry and Franziska…!”

Her eyebrows scrunched together over her still closed eyes. “Huh?”

“I just caught Larry out in the hallway going back downstairs! I think he was in Franziska’s room!”

Maya’s opened her eyes, suddenly wide awake. “What?! No way! I wouldn’t put that past Larry but surely Franziska wouldn’t do that while staying as a guest at someone’s home… Would she?”

“I don’t know! He was acting pretty nervous and weird.”

Maya sat up to lean against her pillows. “Okay, okay. Let’s treat this like a trial. You’re the witness. What did you witness exactly?”

“Larry, going back downstairs in the dark, with his waistcoat and tie over his arm. He wasn’t wearing them anymore.”

“Definitely suspicious. Anything else?”

He shook his head. “Not really.”

“If there’s no decisive evidence, there’s no crime!” she said. “At least not one you can prove. You know that better than I do. So unless we find evidence, which I pray to God we don’t, nothing happened. Okay? No matter what your gut is telling you, nothing happened!”

He nodded quickly. “Alright, okay. I’ll just forget about it then.”

“Yes. Good. Now let’s go back to sleep.”

“Wait, Maya.”

“Oh, what now? I’m so tired, Nick.”

“I think I need a hug.”

She snickered but reached over to wrap him up in her arms. He buried his face in her neck. “You didn’t actually see anything so just try to forget about it,” she said, soothingly rubbing his back. “Now seriously, I want to go back to sleep.” She let go of him and settled herself back down into her pillow. Phoenix wrapped an arm around her tightly from behind.

She could tell he was asleep a few minutes later when his breathing evened out, but now she couldn’t sleep. She silently cursed him for waking her up and sharing this horrifying realization with her, because now she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Maybe she could somehow trick Apollo into cleaning that room for them.

Chapter Text

January 4 th , 2029
Fey-Wright Residence

Phoenix looked up from the desk where he was pouring over paperwork and evidence for the next day’s trial when Trucy knocked on the open door. She grinned at him and bounced into the room while Apollo and Pearl squeezed into the doorway together, shoulder to shoulder. Apollo took a step back, apologizing profusely, while Pearl waved her hand frantically and told him it was her fault. It was easy to spot the way she was blushing.

“Daddyyyy!” Trucy squealed, blocking his view of Pearl and Apollo and hugging him around the neck. “Apollo is taking us to the movies and maybe to the mall after, so we’ll be back later, okay?”

“Mr. Apollo has a car!” Pearl spoke up from the doorway. “And a licence! He can drive!” She sounded so enthused Phoenix couldn’t help smiling. She’d grown up taking trains and cabs and the subway, or running like that very first time, since neither he nor Maya ever had a licence. “You should get your licence, Mr. Nick.”

“I think I’m good with my bus pass,” he said. “But you know, you and Trucy are old enough now to get your own licences, if you really wanted to.”

Pearl bit her thumb. “I don’t know. Driving is kind of scary.”

Trucy on the other hand looked ecstatic. “Really, Daddy? You’d let me get my licence?! I’m going to buy one of those driver’s handbooks while we’re out!”

Phoenix didn’t want to think about the terror his daughter would cause on the roads and turned his attention to Apollo. “Thanks for keeping them amused while you’re here, Apollo.”

Apollo nodded. “No problem, Mr. Wright. It feels great to do something aside from work while I’m visiting. I’ve barely had a day off the whole time I’ve been in Khura’in. I love my job, but it can get pretty tiring sometimes.”

Phoenix jutted his chin towards his own desk. “Yeah, tell me about it. My holidays are officially over tomorrow. I’ve already got a case. The client was accused of killing her fiancé with a firecracker over New Year’s.”

“Sounds fun. Good luck with that,” Apollo grinned. Phoenix got the feeling that Apollo was getting a kick out of him not being able to boss him around anymore. “We’d better go now if we don’t want to be late,” Apollo said, turning to the two girls.

Phoenix waved them out, watching again as Pearl beamed up at Apollo when he turned to say something to her. Oh, he was going to have so much fun with that later. He couldn’t wait to tell Maya.

Speaking of Maya, he hadn’t seen her the whole day. As the Master of Kurain she got to set her own holiday schedule, and she’d taken the end of December and almost all of January off. And yet, instead of helping him prepare for court, she’d deemed it necessary to sleep in and then spend the afternoon outside in the cold, doing who knew what. He’d wanted to spend time with her on his last day off before things got really busy again, even if said time was spent looking through evidence, but she obviously had other plans.

He sighed and went back to work, focusing on organizing the court record and making notes. It was something he always did, but the way his trials usually went, no one could ever tell. They almost always ended up being useless while he scrambled and bluffed his way through it instead, making it look like he was unprepared. He did go to court prepared, it wasn’t his fault the prosecution could throw out new theories and evidence willy-nilly to catch him off guard, and he always seemed to have the least forthcoming clients, which made his job even harder. Maybe someday he’d actually get through a trial without something crazy happening. He could always hope.


As soon as Maya heard Apollo’s car zoom down the road, she made her way back into the house from her spot on the back porch where she’d been trying to distract herself by reading for the better part of the day. Ever since Pearl told her they were going to the movies, Maya had been impatiently waiting for what felt like forever for them to leave. The holidays hadn’t been kind to her and Phoenix’s love life, what with their Christmas party and New Year’s Eve get together and Apollo’s visit, and the kids always being home because there was no school or training in Kurain. The family time and being able to hang out with friends they hadn’t seen in a while was great, but she was craving something more intimate now, and the cold air outside was exactly what she needed while she waited for the kids to leave the house. Phoenix was probably miffed at her for not helping him prepare for court the next day, but she knew if she was alone with him in that tiny room he called an office for more than five minutes, he’d end up getting even less work done than he would if she just didn't help him at all. Besides, she planned on making it up to him very soon.

She removed her shoes and coat at the back door and stealthily tip-toed by his office. She peeked in for only a second to see him with a pen gripped in his hand, but he was staring at the wall, probably day dreaming. About her, she hoped. He didn’t hear her at all as she passed by. The house was quiet as she made her way upstairs. The kids would be gone for a good few hours, which meant the house would be completely empty save for her and Phoenix. She had plenty of time, and what she needed to start things off was a nice, hot bath.

She shed her clothes in the bedroom, bringing only a fresh towel with her into the bathroom. She drew the water and when the tub was full she added a bath bomb that smelled of jasmine, ylang ylang and clary sage. She smirked to herself as she watched it fizz and turn the water a deep purple colour. She’d purposely purchased that particular scent from the local bath and spa store a week or so ago, because according to the label all three scents were considered aphrodisiacs. Not that they would need any help after a two week dry spell, but it’d at least lure him upstairs.

She twisted her long hair up into a bun on the top of her head, and then stepped into the water. She settled down into the tub, immersed herself up to her chest, and closed her eyes to wait.

She was drowsing comfortably in the tub still when she heard the slight creak of the bathroom door opening. She opened one eye to peek at the door and smiled when Phoenix poked his head inside. His eyes widened almost comically when he saw her.

“So this is what smells so good. I didn’t hear you come inside.”

She lowered herself further into the water. The colour of the water already concealed her nakedness, but she knew that lowering herself so her shoulders were covered too would frustrate him. “Shouldn’t you knock before coming into a bathroom someone’s using?” she asked. Her voice was quiet, but it still echoed a bit in the large bathroom.

“Shouldn’t you lock the door if you don’t want someone to come in? It wasn’t even closed all the way, you were practically inviting me in here,” he said, making his way inside and closing the door behind him. “I can see why. You used one of those fancy bath bombs.”

She lifted her arm slowly out of the water to run her fingertips over the top of it, causing ripples to erupt around her. “I just wanted a hot bath since it was so cold outside. The bath bomb is nothing special, it just smells good. I have a bunch of them.”

She watched him approach her silently. The holidays meant no work, which in turn meant her lazy boyfriend didn’t bother shaving every day, resulting in a few days worth of stubble. That combined with the black t-shirt stretched taught over his chest and the jeans he was wearing reminded her so much of the scruffy, but somehow oh so sexy, secret lover that she would sneak into the city to see once or twice a month during the time he was disbarred. It excited her just to think about those times. She loved the domestic thing they had going on now, it was great to finally be a family and not have to hide anything from anyone and she loved her clean cut lawyer boyfriend too, but sometimes she found herself fantasizing of the times she’d sneak him into Kurain Village and then out again before the morning or he’d sneak her into his apartment if Trucy was sleeping at a friend’s house. It always seemed so dangerous and bad, it never failed to get her going.

The corner of his mouth pulled up in a smirk as he approached, perhaps noticing how she was staring at him open mouthed, her eyes raking up and down his body. “Do you see something you like?”

Her eyes snapped up to his. “What?”

“I said, do you see something you like?”

She shrugged, trying to stay nonchalant. He grinned at her, that shit-eating grin he usually saved for the courtroom when he knew he had a witness backed into a corner, ready to confess everything. It still made her weak, and he knew it. “The girls aren’t here so we don’t have to be quiet,” he reminded her. “It almost feels like you planned this.”

He was doing a much better job at staying casual than she was. She was supposed to be the one seducing him here, but all she wanted to do was jump out of the water, push him back into the bedroom, and have her way with him… or let him have his way with her, she didn’t really have a preference at this point. They had hours alone together and she wanted it to last, but she wasn’t sure she could keep things moving this slowly.

She rose out of the water just enough to give him a glance at her cleavage, and reached out with a hand to grab him by the wrist. She tugged him gently down to her level so he was on his knees beside the tub and leaned out to kiss him. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her further out of the tub and against his chest, not caring that the water in the tub was sloshing over the edge onto the floor or how the water from her body was getting on him and causing his shirt to cling to him. It didn't matter anyway, because Maya was already trying to tug it over his head. They broke apart just long enough for her to do so, then she was kissing him again, letting her hands roam over his chest and his arms, then tangling her fingers into his hair.

"This is kind of... uncomfortable... and hard on the knees," he said between kisses.

She smiled against his lips and pulled away, then stood up slowly. The water cascading down her body in rivulets was a sight to behold. His jeans were already starting to feel a little tight, but suddenly he wanted out of them very badly.

"Hand me my towel," she said. "I don't want to get the floor even more wet."

He got up and passed it to her, never once taking his eyes off of her. She lifted one foot to rest it on the side of the tub to dry her leg, agonizingly slow, then finally stepped out. She repeated this with the other leg before setting her foot down, and wrapped the towel neatly around herself.

She looked at him, catching him with the same expression she had earlier, and repeated his words back to him. “See something you like?”

God, yes. You’re so beautiful, Maya,” he breathed, stepping forward to kiss her again.

She raised her finger to his lips. “You’re not too bad yourself, for an old guy.” Though teasing, her words weren’t untrue. He’d managed to keep his physique relatively the same as what it was in his 20s despite being mid-30s now. He’d never been super sculpted but he always looked hard and strong and when he wrapped his arms around her she felt like nothing could hurt her. Nothing could get through him, not when it came to her. He would always be her protector.

She hooked her finger into one of the belt loops on his pants and tugged. “Come on.” He followed her like an eager puppy back into the bedroom and across the floor where she pushed him down onto the bed and crawled on top of him to straddle his waist. She leaned down to kiss him again and he reached up and took a hold of the hair stick that was keeping her hair up. He pulled it out gently, letting her hair spill from its bun to cascade down around her shoulders. It was so long now that it fell like a silky black curtain around the two of them. He buried his fingers into it, using his hand on the back of her head to pull her closer and deepen the kiss further.

“Mmm… You sure you're up for this right now?” Maya managed to murmur against Phoenix’s lips. "I know you have that trial tomorrow to prepare for... Maybe we should stop."

“Seriously, Maya?” His hands moved to the small of her back, pulling her tightly against his body so she could tell just exactly how turned on he was.

She smirked and wriggled her hips against his. She loved to tease him whenever she could. A time like this was no exception; if anything it made it even more fun. “Yes, seriously Nick…” she dipped her head to glide her lips over his throat and to pepper kisses across his chest, eliciting a quiet groan from him. “You don’t want to go to court unprepared.”

“That can wait,” he said as he ran his hands down her behind to the edge of her towel and traced a few circles on the outside of her bare thighs with his thumbs. She pulled away from the kiss, holding herself up with her hands on either side of his head, and quirked an eyebrow at him.

He smiled again. “It’s been like, two whole weeks, Maya.”

She rolled her eyes. “Oh no! Two weeks without sex!” She wasn’t about to admit that the whole reason she was happy the kids were gone was because she missed it too.

He closed his eyes in exasperation "Maya, we both know we’re not going to stop. You do this to me every time! Why do you tease me like this?” he asked, voice thick with fake emotion.

“Because it’s fun—ah!” She couldn’t help the squeal that escaped her when he flipped them over, switching their positions so he was on top, nestled between her legs. "Nick!" she giggled.

“You’re so mean to me,” he said, quieting her giggles by kissing her again, harder than before. Any thoughts of teasing him further left her mind. She ran the fingers of one hand through the hair at the nape of his neck while he planted kisses down her jaw, the side of her neck, her collarbone and her chest before he reached the edge of her towel where it was still tightly wrapped around her. He sat back and looked at her. She gave him a slight nod and he dug his fingers under the edge to pull it open, baring her completely.

She watched his eyes, filled with admiration and desire, roam over her naked form. A long time ago she was shy about her body and would have been blushing and attempting to cover herself from his gaze, but Phoenix had never looked at her with anything other than complete and utter fascination and love, and years with him only helped to strengthen her self esteem. Now she liked it, watching him look at her, so clearly enjoying what he was seeing. She hoped he would never stop looking at her like that. When he met her eyes again she could only give him a sly smile and pull him back down against her.

"What did I do to deserve you, Maya?" he whispered into her ear before nipping playfully at her earlobe.

"You did everything, Nick," she said, closing her eyes as his kisses traveled southward. "I should be asking what I did to deserve you.” She felt his lips glide past her belly button.A man who defended and believed in me after just meeting me…” She took a sharp breath in when his mouth finally reached its destination. “Who’s put his life on the line countless times for me since then… Oh, God, N-Nick…” He was making it very difficult for her to finish her sentences or even think coherently. “Mm… Your life would've been… much easier without me in it… Ah!" She tried not to cry out as his ministrations pushed her over the edge for the first time that night, but she couldn’t help it. Hard as she sometimes tried to stay in control, she easily came undone and she always ended up a moaning, whimpering mess beneath him, completely at his mercy.

He let out a short laugh, the puff of his breath tickling her skin, and lifted his head to look up at her. Her chest was heaving as she caught her breath. “My life wouldn't have been nearly as interesting though," he said, turning his head slightly to kiss her leg. The feeling of his stubble against her inner thigh made her shiver. "I prefer it this way," he continued. “And I'd do it all over as long as I ended up here with you again..."

"Mm, me too..." She beckoned him with a finger. "Now get back up here." When he was hovering over her again, she reached down between them to undo the button on his pants with practiced fingers. He sighed in relief and started to reach towards the drawer in the nightstand for protection. Maya grabbed his wrist to stop him. “In a hurry, are we? You don’t even have your pants all the way off yet.”

"Not at all." He dropped his face into the crook of her neck to kiss her again. "Just getting prepared..." he mumbled against her skin. 

“Nick.”

“Mm?”

“Look at me.”

He lifted his head to gaze down at her quizzically. “What?”

“I don’t want to use one tonight."

"But... You're not on the pill, are you? I thought you stopped a few months ago because of the side effects?”

She nodded. "Yeah, I did..."

He furrowed his eyebrows and she stared up at him, waiting for his brain to catch up with the rest of him. “Oh… A-Are you positive?”

“Well not yet, but hopefully in a few weeks," she said, grinning at her own little joke.

“You know what I mean. You’re really ready? You’re sure?"

She had to be serious now. “Yes. I want to start trying, at least. Are you okay with that?”

His mouth pulled up in a lopsided smile. “You know I am.”

She reached up to cup his face lovingly, holding him still so she could just look at him. That silly lock of hair curled in front of his face like always, and those dark blue eyes peered down at her still, waiting for her to say something. She really hoped their baby would inherit those eyes. They were beautiful. Looking into them reminded her of the few times they’d gone to the beach and stayed until after dark. They were the colour of the ocean at nighttime. Yes. She had known ten years ago and she still knew then that he was the only man she would ever want to father her children.

He tilted his head at her. “What are you thinking about, Maya?”

She brushed her thumb over his bottom lip with a feather light touch and smiled sweetly at him. “I was just thinking about how terrible it’d be if our kid inherits your hair.” He rolled his eyes at her, but the smile never left his face. "Kiss me again, Nick," she whispered, wrapping her hand around his neck to run her fingers through said hair as she pulled him back down to her mouth.


Maya was breathing heavily, sticky with sweat and other things but completely spent and satisfied, when Phoenix rolled off of her for the third time that night. He'd always had stamina, but that night was something else. She supposed that’s what happened when you went through a two week dry spell and then had the house to yourselves for a few hours. She shifted onto her side and propped herself up on her elbow to walk her fingers up his still rapidly rising and falling chest with her other hand.

"I think I'm done for real this time, Maya…" he said, draping an arm across his face.

She snickered. "Right. We don't want you to have a heart attack in your old age."

"Ha ha."

She patted his cheek. "Seriously though, Nick, I think that was some of the best sex we've had in a while. I mean, whoa. It reminded me of when we'd go weeks without seeing each other and then when we would, well..."

"Find the nearest semi-private place we could, yeah. Trust me, I remember."

She flopped down onto her back. “Would it be weird of me to put my legs up against the wall?”

He was still trying to catch his breath, and his eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. “Huh? Why?"

“You know, so there’s a better chance I’ll get pregnant.”

He rolled to his side to get a better look at her, still naked as a jaybird and glowing in the aftermath of her pleasure. “Um, go ahead, if you think that’ll help?”

She turned herself around on the bed and lifted her legs against the headboard, placing her pillow under her hips to help with elevation. He chuckled.

"What's so funny?" she asked.

"You look ridiculous. But it's cute, too, how much you want this."

She reached down to grab his hand. “You know we’ll have to keep trying until I get a positive test. I've kind of already started tracking my ovulation and everything too, so I'll know all the best times to try, but really, every few days is best." She grinned. "That gives you a few days to build up some more little swimmers in between each time. Men can run low if they do it too much, you know.”

He made a face. “Uh, okay. Just tell me when you want to go at it. I’m hardly going to protest." He sat up and turned around to lay the same way as her. He placed a hand on her stomach. "I just hope it doesn't take long."

She placed her hand over his. "Me too."

They lay in silence for a few minutes until a thought occurred to Phoenix. "Hey Maya?”

“Hm?”

“I can’t believe I’ve never thought about this or asked before but… What happens if we have a boy?"

“What do you mean, ‘what happens’?” she said, turning her head to look at him. “I’m not sure I understand.”

“I mean, boys don’t have spiritual power, right? So they can't be heirs to Kurain."

“Nick, nothing happens. They grow up with their families. As the main family, normally we'd have to keep trying until we had a girl, but since I've named Pearly as my heir, it doesn't really matter. I don't want any of our kids forced into the role of Master like Mia and I were, so Pearly will take over no matter what we have.”

"Oh."

She laughed. “What did you think we did? Set them outside the village walls to perish because they weren’t ‘fit’ to run Kurain?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I've known you for twelve years and I don't think I've ever once seen  another man or even a little boy in Kurain."

“Sheesh. I know we have some weird traditions, but we aren’t that crazy. Most boys born in Kurain live in the city with their fathers, which is why you don't see many male children around."

He frowned. “That's just… sad. Don’t their mothers miss them? Don't the fathers miss their daughters that stay in Kurain?”

"It's always been normal for me but it is sad when I think about it too much, which is why I try not to. They visit sometimes but… not always. Or they stop showing up, like Pearly’s dad did.”

"I can't even imagine you and any future daughter of mine living in Kurain while I stayed in L.A. No way is our family ever going to be separated like that," he said, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her closer to him. "It was bad enough when you and Pearls lived so far from Trucy and me."

"I know, Nick.” She sighed. “When I was younger I used to worry that when I got married, he'd leave like so many others, but I never have to worry about that with you, and it doesn’t matter whether or not we have a boy or a girl either.” She paused. “But to be honest, I think us Feys have some sort of ability that makes it way more likely we have girls, so you're probably going to end up in a house full of women eventually anyway.”

"That's okay with me,” he said. “I am used to girls thanks to Trucy and Pearls, but I'll be happy with either, of course."

She reached over to run her fingers along his cheek. “You will be amazing either way." She turned on her side, removing the pillow from under her, and kissed him again. "I've always loved you for treating Pearly so well, Nick,” she said after pulling away. “You never had to do that. You didn't have to adopt Trucy either, but you did. You've been stepping up for other deadbeat fathers for a long time, so I already know you're a good dad. I'm not worried about that at all."

He smiled. "What about you? Are you still nervous about being a mom?"

"Not as much. I know a baby will be different for both of us, but at least we have some practice being parents. And like you said before, there are lots of people I can rely on for help."

"I'm glad. I know you'll be great."

She pushed on his shoulder to roll him onto his back and then snuggled in against him, resting her head on his chest. "I love you, Nick."

"I love you too, Maya. I always will."

She sighed contentedly. She was happy to lay there with him the rest of the night, that was up until they both heard the loud grumbling of her stomach.

Phoenix laughed. "Someone's worked up an appetite."

She sat up and glanced at the clock on the nightstand. They'd been up there for hours and it was nearing dinner time now. No wonder. “I'm hungry.”

"No kidding." He sat up as well and swiped a hand through his hair. "The kids'll probably be home soon too."

"Remind me to thank Apollo for taking them out," Maya smiled.

"Oh! I forgot to tell you!”

She raised her eyebrows at his excited expression. “What?”

“I'm pretty sure Pearls has a crush on Apollo."

“Oh really?" She grinned mischievously. "I'll do my best not to embarrass her in front of Apollo — not that she ever did me any favours like that when it came to you — but she's going to finally get a taste of her own medicine."

"Exactly what I was thinking." He got up and started gathering his clothes to get dressed. "Anyway, wanna go make dinner?"

She swung her legs off the bed and found her towel from earlier. She wrapped it back around herself. She felt a little tacky now that they were finished, and it was starting to feel more gross than sexy. "I'm going to clean up a bit first, maybe take a quick shower. Can you start it?"

"Yeah, no problem," he said, approaching her and reaching out to move a piece of hair out of her face, tucking it behind her ear for her. "What do you want?"

"What else? Burgers of course."

"Of course." He placed a kiss on her forehead. “I’ll be downstairs.”

She nodded and headed into the bathroom.


Phoenix was just finishing dinner when Apollo’s car pulled into the driveway and all three of the kids made their way noisily into the house. Trucy sniffed the air. “Yum! Something smells good!”

“How was your movie?” Phoenix asked as his daughter ran into the dining room.

“Pretty good, but Apollo and Pearl wouldn’t stop talking throughout it,” Trucy said, putting her hands on her hips. Pearl who had come in behind her blushed.

Apollo shrugged. “It was a bad movie, Trucy.”

“Well I was enjoying it! Next time you two can go by yourselves.”

“Fine with me,” he replied.

“Did you guys go shopping?” Phoenix asked, changing the subject before Trucy and Apollo got into an argument only siblings could have. They may not have known about their relation but that didn’t stop them from truly acting like brother and sister.

Pearl held up her shopping bags. Since they moved into the new house she’d had more chances to go shopping for what she called ‘city girl’ clothes, and more chances to wear them. “Yes! I got some new dresses and sweaters and shoes.” She sighed. “They’re all so pretty. Did you and Mystic Maya have a good time while we were gone?”

He set the plates down on the table. “We sure did…”

“What did you do?”

He paused. “We… just went over the evidence for tomorrow’s trial.”

Pearl made a face. “That’s not very romantic.”

He shrugged. “It was fine. Would you mind telling Maya that dinner is ready? She’s upstairs.”

Pearl nodded and headed to the stairway. Trucy and Apollo took their seats at the table to wait. It didn’t take long for Pearl to come back with Maya in tow. She was dressed in her regular old yukata again, with her magatama around her neck and her hair all back up in her top knot and separated with her beads.

“Mmm burgers. The only thing Nick knows how to cook!” she said, sitting down at the table.

“Only because I’ve had so much practice, thanks to you.”

“This will be the first solid food our baby learns to eat, Nick,” Maya said unthinkingly. There was silence at the table as Apollo, Trucy, and Pearl all took her meaning. Phoenix stared at her. They hadn’t discussed telling the kids yet.

Pearl was the first to clamp her hands over her face. “Are you pregnant, Mystic Maya?!”

Maya started waving her hands frantically. “No! At least… not yet.”

Pearl gasped. “But you’re trying! That’s what Mr. Nick meant when he said you had a good time while we were gone!”

Phoenix dropped his face into his hands while Trucy set her food back on her plate. “I really don’t need to hear this. I think I’m gonna go eat in the basement,” she said.

Apollo got up with his plate. “Mind if I join you?”

She shook her head and they left the room together. Maya just shrugged and picked up her burger again. “Oh well. They all know what making a baby entails, and they were going to find out eventually.”

“I can’t wait to have a little brother or sister!” Pearl gushed.

Despite the embarrassment, Phoenix smiled at her. “You’ll be a good big sister, Pearls.”

She beamed at him and ended up staying in the dining room with them for the rest of dinner, even happier than she had been after her shopping trip.

Chapter Text

January 5th, 2029, 6:00 AM
Fey-Wright Residence

The ringing of Phoenix’s phone woke Maya from her sleep, and for once that familiar old Steel Samurai theme song made her want to get up and throw the phone against the wall instead of causing the rush of nostalgia it normally did. She and Phoenix had a late night. After the kids went to bed they stayed up watching TV, which had turned into a heavy make out session on the couch, which had eventually made its way into the bedroom again. By the time they fell asleep they were both exhausted, and were going to be running on only a few hours of sleep for the trial, especially now thanks to whoever was calling him at 6 o’clock in the morning.

She could hear the shower running in the bathroom and knew Phoenix was already up and getting ready. Athena had a case of her own to investigate, so Maya was planning on going to the trial with him and acting as his assistant again. She’d only had time to help him with a few cases since the one in September, and she was looking forward to it, but she had hoped she’d be able to sleep in at least a little longer.

The phone was on his nightstand and she figured she should at least check the caller ID in case it had something to do with the trial. She rolled over to his side of the bed and grabbed it. She could tell right away that it had nothing to do with the trial since she didn’t recognize the name displayed, but it still gave her pause. Instead of a full name, there were only two initials: T.G. She furrowed her eyebrows. She couldn’t think of anyone she knew with those initials.

The shower shut off in the bathroom but she knew Phoenix would still be in there a while. She pursed her lips as she stared down at the phone in her hands, which was still ringing its tune. She usually wasn’t one to snoop on her boyfriend’s phone, but curiosity was getting the better of her at the moment. She decided to answer it.

She pushed the green accept button and held it up to her ear. “Hello?”

There was a pause on the other end. “Um… Hello. Is Mr. Wright available? Do I have the correct phone number?”

Maya sat up in bed and settled herself back against the headboard. The woman on the other end had a soft voice and some sort of accent Maya didn’t recognize. “Who is this?” Maya asked. She trusted Phoenix completely, and she wasn’t worried about him being unfaithful or anything like that, but he didn’t have many female friends and she found it strange that he even had initials set as a contact in his phone in the first place, instead of an actual name. It was almost as if he didn’t want anyone to know the identity of the person the number belonged to if they happened to call when he couldn't answer, like right then.

The woman on the other end didn’t speak right away. Maya almost thought she hung up, until that soft voice came through again. “…Who is this?”

“I’m Mr. Wright’s girlfriend,” Maya explained a little huffily. Who was this lady to question her? Besides, she asked first!

“Oh, I didn’t realize he was in a relationship… At least I know I do have the correct number now. May I speak with him please?” The woman sounded relieved to hear who Maya was, which only puzzled Maya further. She was no closer to knowing who this mystery woman was and was reluctant to let her go, but she didn’t want to risk her hanging up if she pestered her too much. “Please tell him it’s very important,” the woman said when Maya’s silence stretched on.

Maya let out an audible sigh. “Just a minute.” She crawled out of bed to knock on the bathroom door.

“Yeah?” Phoenix called back through the door.

“You have a phone call,” she said.

“Maya, I’m a little busy, can you not ask them to call back?”

“They said it’s important.”

“Who is it?”

“I don’t know. Someone called T.G. in your phone.”

There was a clattering noise from the other side of the door and Phoenix flung it open a second later. He was clad in only his boxers and his face was still half covered in shaving cream, his razor forgotten in the sink where he dropped it, but he was already reaching for the phone in her hand.

She held it out of his reach. “Who is this, Nick?”

“Maya, please,” he withdrew his hand and reached back into the bathroom to grab a towel, which he used to wipe his face with before throwing it into the laundry hamper. He walked past her into the room and to the dresser where he quickly pulled on a t-shirt and some sweatpants, then held out his hand again when he was done. “Give me the phone. I promise I’ll tell you after.”

She handed it to him with a look that said “you’d better”. He left the room before even greeting the person on the other end, and she stood in the doorway and watched him practically race down the stairs before heading back to their bed. If she could get even another hour's worth of sleep she’d be happy.


Phoenix made his way downstairs to his office where he knew no one in any of the bedrooms upstairs would hear his side of the phone conversation. So much for less excitement in 2029, this was one hell of a way to get it started. Once the door was safely shut, he dropped into the chair at his desk, and spoke into the phone.

“Phoenix Wright speaking,” he said, opting to sound professional despite knowing exactly who was on the other line.

“Hello, Mr. Wright. Happy New Year.”

"What do you need?" he asked, getting right down to business. He was sick of her avoiding the subject that he continued to bring up any time he had the chance to, ever since Trucy had found that drawing in his sketchbook a few months ago. If she wasn’t calling to talk to him about finally revealing the truth to her kids, then he had nothing to say to her anymore. “I have work soon, so I can’t talk long," he told her.

Thalassa Gramarye sounded a little taken aback at the annoyed tone of his voice when she next spoke. He was usually so cordial with her. “I’m sorry to bother you so early in the morning, I suppose I didn’t think much about the time difference—”

He exhaled slowly, pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers. "Thalassa... Why are you calling me? I'm a little surprised to hear from you, seeing as I've always been the one to get in touch with you these past few months. I never hear a word from you otherwise."

"That's partially why I'm calling."

"Just to check in, like usual? You'll be happy to know that both Apollo and Trucy are doing just fine."

"You've spoken to Apollo recently?"

"Yes. As a matter of fact he's staying at my home as a guest at the moment. He's probably still asleep in the guest room upstairs right now. Trucy was happy to see him again at Christmas."

"That will make things so much easier," she said quietly, as if talking to herself. Phoenix waited on her to continue. "I'm so glad they've both developed such a close friendship," she said. "But I didn't just call to check up on them."

"You didn't?"

"No. I know how frustrated you must be with me, Mr. Wright. I’ve been forcing you to keep this secret even after you've made it abundantly clear that you wish to tell the two of them. It’s been my own cowardice that’s kept me from revealing the truth."

He listened intently to her, trying not to get his hopes up at all. Thalassa agreed to tell Apollo and Trucy about her right after they'd all come home from Khura'in, but she disappeared again before they could make any definitive plans. Phoenix could only ever contact her by phone, never knowing where she was in the world at the time, and she often avoided his calls altogether, or had her assistants take messages that she never returned. His patience was wearing thinner and thinner.

She took a deep breath. "I have made a New Year’s resolution this year."

“And what would that be?"

"To finally reveal my true identity to my children... To finally tell them of their relation. I will admit I am scared. What will they think of me, for abandoning both of them? Even if I didn’t remember them at first, I have no excuse for putting it off going on three years now despite having my memories and my sight back. But even if they can't forgive me for hiding it so long... They need to know."

"When do you plan on doing this?" he asked hesitantly. "If you really want to do this Thalassa, then talk to me about it now. If I let you go again I'm afraid I won't hear from you for months, and if you don't tell them soon on your terms, I'll have to tell them on mine. I can't keep it from them any longer. They're both grown up, they've both been through and lost so much. They deserve to know they still have blood relatives, especially Apollo. Trucy has me, and I do think of Apollo as part of my family and he knows he’s always welcome here, but it’s not the same. He's had no one for such a long time. He needs to know about his sister."

"I agree." Another deep breath from her. "You said Apollo is staying with you currently? How much longer until he returns to Khura'in?"

“School starts for Trucy again next week, so he’ll only be here another week, and then he’s flying back to Khura'in."

"Then I suppose we need to make plans sometime within the week. There's no point waiting until he's gone back to Khura'in if he and Trucy are both in the same country together right now."

Phoenix could hardly believe what he was hearing. For once Thalassa wasn’t making excuses. She wasn’t trying to convince him that she would call back later. She was honest to goodness talking to him about this, finally! He took a deep breath to calm himself down. Even if she was, that didn’t mean she wouldn’t disappear again or that she’d actually show up on the planned day. He would have to go about this carefully.

“Are you serious, Thalassa?” he asked. “You’re not just saying this, and then going to disappear halfway across the world again, are you? Where are you now, by the way?”

“I’m currently in Borginia. As soon as we have a date and time decided, I’m going to buy a plane ticket to America. I'll even send you a picture of it if you'd like. I’m quite serious this time, Mr. Wright. I’ve put this off long enough, and the longer I wait the worse their reactions may be.”

“No offense, Thalassa, but I won’t tell Apollo and Trucy that you’re coming until you’re here on my doorstep. I can’t risk disappointing them if you don’t show up.”

“I understand why you don’t trust me completely. That’s fine.”

“Alright, well… I think their schedules are relatively free for the next few days. When did you want to come?”


After talking to Thalassa for close to half an hour, Phoenix trudged back upstairs. Maya was sleeping again, but she stirred when he sat down on the bed beside her.

“That was a long phone call, Nick,” she yawned, stretching her arms above her head and rolling onto her back to look at him easier. “Who was that? Why did you take so long?”

“Maya, I need to tell you something.”

She sat up and gathered the blankets around her so only her face peered out at him. “What is it? You’re sort of scaring me…”

“It’s nothing bad. Well, not really. It is kind of surprising though. I haven’t told anyone else, and you absolutely cannot say a thing about it to anyone, okay? Not even Pearls."

She looked intrigued. “Alright. What is it?”

He lowered his voice all the way to a whisper just in case and told her flat out. There was no other way to say it.

“Apollo is Trucy’s brother.”

She blinked at him. “You’re kidding me, Nick.”

He shook his head. “They’re half siblings, but siblings nonetheless. They have the same mother, and neither of them knows.”

“What…? How…? That’s not ‘kind of’ surprising that’s… shocking! I had no idea.” She scrunched her eyebrows together. “But now that you say that, they do sort of look alike, don’t they? Why haven’t you told them? How long have you known this? Since adopting Trucy?”

She was asking so many questions so quickly he had to hold up his hand to stop her. “Wait. Save your questions, because there’s more.”

“More?!”

He nodded. “Their mother is alive, and that was her on the phone.” Her jaw couldn’t have dropped any further. “Oh, and you know the singer Lamiroir? She was kind of famous a few years back; remember I told you about how Trucy was helping Apollo defend the pianist she performed with when her agent was killed?”

Maya nodded. "Yeah, I remember I listened to some of her albums after you told me. They were good, she's an amazing singer. What about her though?"

“Lamiroir is their mother," he said. "Her real name is Thalassa Gramarye.”

“T.G.,” Maya whispered.

"Yeah. Sorry if some random woman calling my phone worried you,” he said, smiling sheepishly. He was actually relieved that Maya had answered the phone since now it gave him an excuse to tell her about Thalassa. It felt so good to finally tell someone.

Maya stared at him, shaking her head in disbelief. “How long have you known this, Nick?”

“I didn’t know when I adopted Trucy. I’ve only known since I hired Apollo to be my attorney a few years ago. You know about his ability, right?”

She nodded slowly. “Yeah, he can tell if someone is lying because he’ll notice their nervous ticks, right?”

“Right. The bracelet Apollo wears is part of a set, and Thalassa has the other one. It helps him by tightening around his wrist when he subconsciously notices the movement, which makes it easier for him to focus and catch someone in a lie. You never knew this, but Trucy has the same ability. It’s not as well developed as Apollo’s and she doesn’t make a point of using it to her advantage that often, but it’s there, and it’s something that’s only found in children of the Gramarye bloodline.”

“Whoa. This is a lot to take in, Nick. You’ve been keeping all that a secret for over two years now?”

He nodded. “I’m sorry for never telling you. Thalassa wanted it kept a secret. Trucy thinks her mother is dead, and Apollo doesn’t even know that his mother is the same woman. Plus Thalassa had amnesia for a long time. She didn’t even remember them when they first met her, so you can’t really blame her for that, but she regained her memories almost three years ago now. She has no excuse anymore.”

“Doesn’t she want her kids to know she’s still alive?”

“She does, but she’s scared they’ll be angry at her. Hell, I’m scared they’ll be angry at me for keeping it from them for so long…”

Maya couldn’t think of anything to say, and he looked at her almost pleadingly. He wanted her to reassure him that they wouldn’t hate him for keeping this from them, but she was so shocked herself that she couldn’t even guess how Apollo and Trucy were going to react.

“Trucy could never hate you, Nick,” she said once she’d found her voice. “She loves you too much, and she’s understanding enough. She’ll probably be really happy to find out her mother is alive and that she has a brother, but I don’t really know Apollo that well, so I don’t know how he’ll react to news like this. I'm sure they'll probably both feel a little hurt at first, maybe confused about why she didn't come forward sooner, but hopefully the fact that they're siblings will outweigh their hurt feelings.”

“I hope so.”

They were quiet for a few moments, Maya still taking in this new information and Phoenix desperately hoping she was right. He looked up when she started speaking again. “Nick… Is it possible for Thalassa to take Trucy back? Would she do that?"

He grabbed her hand and squeezed it. Maya loved Trucy like she was her own, just like he did. “No,” he said firmly. “It’s too late for that, whether she wanted to or not. I’m not an adoption lawyer but I do know that her parental rights expired long ago. I’m not sure she would want to anyway, given she’s kept this from them for so long, and Trucy is almost eighteen. If Thalassa really wanted that she would have tried it already.”

Maya visibly relaxed, but she still looked a little sad, keeping her eyes trained on the blankets. He dipped his head to get a better look at her under her fringe. “Maya, Trucy won’t replace you either. Just because her mother is alive doesn’t mean she’ll see you as anything less. I hope that her and Apollo will be able to have at least somewhat of a relationship with Thalassa, but Trucy would never forget about everything you’ve done, or the fact that you’ve been part of her life for longer than Thalassa ever was. You may not have been around all the time, but you were there when she needed you most.”

Maya nodded, glad for the reassurance, and smiled up at him. “Right. I’ll try not to worry about it. When is she going to come?”

“She said she was going to book a flight for the seventh, but we’ll see. She said she’d send me a screenshot of the plane tickets once she had them.”

“Sounds like you’ve had this talk with her before.”

“Yeah, I have. A few times now, so I’m not going to tell Apollo or Trucy about her visit until the day of.”

“Understandable.” She glanced at the alarm clock on her side of the bed. “Whoa, you have to get dressed for court and I need to get ready so we can leave soon, or we’ll be late,” she said, sliding off the bed and heading to the closet where her robes and his suit were hanging.

“Ah, you’re right. I was so surprised to hear from Thalassa that court almost slipped my mind."

"Don't forget to finish shaving," she said over her shoulder. "You had a long vacation and you were starting to remind me of your scruffy disbarred days before this morning."

"I thought you liked the scruffy look?"

"I do, but at the moment, you're only half scruffy. Besides, as much as I like it, you are going to court, so you should probably look a bit more professional.”

He ran a hand over his face and remembered he'd been in the middle of shaving when Thalassa called. "R ight."


January 5th, 2029, 3:00 PM
District Courthouse
Defendant Lobby No. 1

Maya dragged herself to the nearest bench as soon as she made it out of the courtroom, with Phoenix following right behind her. They dropped onto it together tiredly. Maya’s legs were killing her after having to stand beside Phoenix to urge him on and support him for six hours straight. The judge hadn’t given them even one recess the entire day. The trial was pretty straightforward, or as straightforward as a Phoenix Wright trial could be, with no extra witnesses or information needed. They’d won and the client was on her way back to the Detention Centre to sign out, and Maya couldn’t be happier to have it over with.

Maya reached over to pick a piece of confetti out of Phoenix’s hair. She didn’t even know where it came from nowadays. At some point, Gumshoe had been the one throwing it, but now it just seemed to float from the ceiling whenever they won a trial. She threw it to the floor and slumped against him. “I’m so tired, Nick. They need to give the defense and prosecution chairs to sit in.”

He chuckled. “I know. I’m used to long trials but not any without a recess or even a bathroom break for six hours!”

“Maybe if the judge was forced to stand too, he would’ve thought about giving us a little break at some point! See how he likes standing for that long.”

“Put in a petition for chairs in the courtroom, Maya,” Phoenix said, fishing in his jacket pocket for his phone. “This thing has been vibrating for the last hour.”

She leaned over to look at it when the screen lit up. “T.G. is texting you… a lot,” she observed.

Phoenix rolled his eyes. “I don’t hear from her for weeks or months at a time but I take an hour to answer her text message and she thinks I’m ignoring her. Doesn’t she know I have a job?”

He unlocked the phone to scroll through her messages, which were just a lot of question marks and ‘did you see it?’ or ‘did you get it’? messages, along with the same screenshot of her plane ticket purchase over and over again.

“How old is Lamiroir, Nick? She texts even worse than you.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. A little older than me, I think. She must have had Apollo pretty young though.” He tapped the picture and squinted at it. “What do you know, she actually did purchase a plane ticket.”

“You think she really will show up, then? She is a famous singer, I’m sure she wouldn’t go hungry if she decides not to use a plane ticket that only cost a few hundred bucks.”

He was tapping a reply to her slowly and Maya had to restrain herself from grabbing the phone out of his hands to do it for him. “We’ll have to see,” he said. “I really hope so. If she doesn’t, I’m going to tell them anyway, and she knows that. It’s her last chance to do it on her terms.”

“Just for the record, Nick, I think you’re doing the right thing. I know you’ve kept this a secret for a long time because she’s their mother, but in my opinion she definitely isn’t the best mother in the world. She should have been running to them after getting her memories back!”

He nodded, he understood Maya’s position all too well. “I always think about that time I lost my memory temporarily and went through a whole trial not knowing who I was, who you were, or anyone else either. When I finally remembered you it was such a relief, I can’t even imagine getting my memories of such an important person in my life back and just… not bothering to do anything about it. She says she wants to wait for the right time, but there’s never going to be a right time for something like this.”

He finished sending his reply to Thalassa, and Maya stood up, having to tear herself from the bench. “Let’s go home, Nick. I need a long relaxing bath after that trial.”

“Another bath?” he said, standing up with her. “Don’t try to tempt me again. I barely got any sleep last night.”

She giggled as they made their way through the courthouse. “Not my fault you can’t control yourself. I was just taking a normal bath.”

“Sure you were.”


When they got home, Apollo, Trucy, and Pearl were seated in the living room, going over Trucy’s new driving handbook. Phoenix approached them and glanced over their shoulders from behind the couch. “You’re actually going to get your licence, Truce?” he said.

“Oh, Daddy! We didn’t hear you come in! Yes, that way when Apollo goes back to Khura’in, Pearl and I will still be able to go out without relying on those stupid bus schedules! And maybe if you let me use some of my savings from my shows, I could buy a used car? Just a cheap one!”

“That money is supposed to be for college.”

Maya nudged him. “Come on, Nick. Trucy’s shows are so popular now, I’m sure using some money to buy a car wouldn’t hurt. Besides, she can use it to go to and from school and it’ll probably make transporting her magic props to shows easier too.”

Apollo leaned back on the couch and tilted his head back to look up at his former boss. “I think it’s a good idea too, Mr. Wright. It would give her some responsibility and independence. It’d be up to her to keep it in running condition and buy her own gas.”

Trucy bounced in her seat. “See, Daddy! If Maya and Polly agree, it must be a good decision!”

“You have a point, Truce.” Maya and Apollo were almost totally opposite personality wise. Maya would look at this as something fun, Apollo would look at it as something serious, so when they agreed on something that generally meant it was a good thing. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”

“Yay!” Trucy jumped up from the couch. “Polly, let’s go downstairs and go through this handbook. As the only person here who knows how to drive, you’re going to tutor me!”

Apollo sighed. “Alright, alright. I guess we should get as much studying in as possible before I go back to Khura’in.”

Phoenix walked around the couch to sit down in Trucy’s vacated spot. “Oh hey, Apollo, Trucy?" he called after them. "Could you two come to the office together on the seventh? Don’t worry, I’m not going to put you to work or anything, I just need to show you both something…”

Apollo and Trucy exchanged a look, but Trucy just shrugged. “Yeah, no problem.” Apollo nodded his agreement. Then all three of them, Pearl included, were gone downstairs.

Maya plopped down onto the couch beside Phoenix and turned so she could lie down. She rested her head in his lap. “You totally didn’t make that sound really ominous, Nick.”

He ran his fingers through her hair. “I couldn’t think of a good enough reason. At least they didn’t question me.”

“Are you still nervous?”

“Of course.”

She reached up pat his cheek. “You’ll do fine. Thalassa should be the nervous one.”

“I guess, but as annoying as it always was when she would blow me off, I do hope that they can forgive her. I’m mainly worried about Apollo. His circumstances are different from Trucy’s.”

“Mm, you’re right. Did she ever tell you why she couldn’t find him after the fire that killed his dad?”

Phoenix shook his head. “No. I didn’t even know about that until last year. With her, who knows. Maybe she didn’t find the ‘right time’ in Apollo’s 24 years of life to look…”

“Maybe. Well, for their sakes, I hope she does show up this time and I hope she tries to make things right.”

“Me too, Maya.”

She sat up. “I’m going upstairs for a bit. Don’t bother me, for real this time,” she said, poking him playfully. “After that trial I need to relax.”

“What? I can help you relax,” he said, reaching forward to grab her shoulders.

She let her head drop forward as he massaged her shoulders, but eventually lifted her own hands to pull his off of her. “As good as that feels, I mean it. But… I probably wouldn’t object to that later tonight.”

“It’s a date then.”

She gave him a peck on the lips and got up to head upstairs, leaving Phoenix to contemplate how exactly he was going to go about introducing Apollo and Trucy to Thalassa again.

Chapter Text

January 7th, 2029, 5:00 PM
Wright Anything Agency

Phoenix paced. He hadn’t paced this much since the day he asked if Trucy wanted to stay with him after her father’s disappearance. He almost wished he’d asked Maya to come. She would have calmed his nerves, but he knew Apollo probably wouldn’t have appreciated it, and it may have made Maya uncomfortable too. She thought of Trucy as her daughter, and watching her be reintroduced to her real mother most likely wouldn’t have been her idea of a good time. So he was alone with Thalassa, at least until Apollo and Trucy showed up.

He was almost surprised to see her step out of the cab that afternoon. He was half expecting her not to show up and was preparing himself to give them the news alone, but for once she was true to her word. She was there, and they would finally find out.

Thalassa watched him from the couch where she was sitting. “Mr. Wright, I don’t mean to make demands of you but would you like to sit down?”

He glanced at her. She was so quiet that he hadn’t been paying her any attention. He supposed she had a lot to think about too, even more so than him. His phone vibrated before he could reply, and he reached inside his jacket pocket to retrieve it. “Apollo and Trucy are almost here,” he said after reading the message from Trucy.

Thalassa stood up. “Would you like me to wait somewhere?”

He rubbed a hand through his hair. “Uh, sure, you can wait in the back room. I’ll come get you when they get here.”

She nodded and took her leave to the back room where they kept old files nowadays. It was a room with fond memories for Phoenix, where he and Maya and Pearl used to watch movies together or play board or video games on boring nights, but now it was simply an extra space filled with files and old junk. He sat down in Thalassa’s vacated spot and waited.

It didn’t take long before he heard voices outside the office door. They got louder the closer they got, and finally Apollo and Trucy walked into the office together, both smiling at whatever it was they were talking about. They always looked so happy together, he thought. He would have put a stop to it had he thought it was getting inappropriate, but it never did. They already acted like brother and sister. Trucy even confided in him once that she wished Apollo was younger so that Phoenix could adopt him, too. That made him smile. If only she’d known.

When the two of them noticed Phoenix sitting on the couch waiting for them, their smiles faded. They seemed to know that there was something serious going on. They made their way to the couches and sat down beside each other.

“Daddy… What did you need to see us for?” Trucy asked.

Apollo looked around as if trying to see if there was something out of place within the office, but looked back at Phoenix when he found nothing strange. “What’s this about, Mr. Wright?”

“I need to introduce you two to someone important,” Phoenix said. He didn’t really know how to get this started. There was no way to prepare them for what they were about to hear, he had to just do it.

Apollo furrowed his eyebrows. “Is it a client?”

Phoenix shook his head. “Wait here,” he said. He got up and headed into the back room. There was some murmuring that Apollo and Trucy sat and listened to until Phoenix returned. He had with him none other than the singer they’d met three years ago, Lamiroir. She was wearing her traditional outfit, her cloak printed with stars and her almost transparent face covering. She walked around the couch and sat down across from them. Phoenix returned and sat beside her.

Trucy looked confused. “Daddy… This is Lamiroir. We already know her. I know you were pretty busy back then with your Jurist System stuff but I didn’t think you’d forget something big like that.” Trucy smiled at her. “It’s great to see you again! I loved the flowers you gave me for my first big show last year.”

Apollo smiled as well. “Yeah, it’s been a while.”

Lamiroir nodded. “Too long.”

There were a few seconds of silence, and Phoenix turned to Lamiroir. “Are you ready?”

She nodded. “Yes. It’s finally time.”

Apollo and Trucy glanced at each other. “What’s going on?” Apollo said.

Lamiroir lifted her hands to her face and removed her hood first. Her hair was light brown, separated into two parts that were held together with bangles and pulled over each shoulder. She pulled off her face covering next. Apollo looked confused, but when Phoenix glanced at Trucy, he saw a sort of dawning realization there. Trucy recognized her.

Trucy covered her mouth with her hand to stifle her gasp. Apollo looked at her. “What’s wrong, Trucy?”

“Apollo,” Lamiroir said, pulling his attention back to her. “It seems Trucy has figured it out, but not you. You wouldn’t though, would you? I suppose you were much too young when it happened to remember anything… You were only a baby.”

Apollo felt a chill run through him at those words. Remember her? He was a baby when it happened? He looked over at Phoenix, who was sitting and staring at Apollo with an unreadable look on his face. He looked back to Lamiroir, who smiled softly at him.

“Who are you?” he said. The way the words left his mouth made it sound more like a demand than a question.

Lamiroir’s smile never faltered. She slipped off her cloak to reveal a white dress underneath, and held out her right arm. It was bare except for the thick gold bracelet around her wrist. “My real name is Thalassa Gramarye. I’m your mother, Apollo. Yours… and Trucy’s.”

There was stunned silence. Trucy may have been able to recognize Thalassa as her long lost mother, but hearing that she was also Apollo’s? That meant… Apollo was her brother. She glanced sideways at Apollo to see his reaction. He was staring at Thalassa’s arm, at the bracelet that matched his own.

“What…? Y-You’re my — our — mother? Then Trucy is—”

“Your sister, yes,” Thalassa confirmed. “Your half sister.”

Trucy could feel happy tears welling in her eyes. It was enough that her mother was actually alive, but finding out that Apollo, who she already loved like a brother, really was her brother? It was more than she ever could have imagined. She was happy, but she couldn’t gauge Apollo’s reaction. He wasn’t saying anything, and when she looked at him he was frowning. “Polly… Isn’t this great?” she tried.

“Is this a joke?” he said, ignoring Trucy and looking back and forth between Thalassa and Phoenix. His hands clenched into fists. “If you really are our mother, why didn’t you tell us sooner? You met us three years ago. It took you this long to finally admit it? Why?”

Phoenix finally spoke up. “Apollo, you should know that when you first met Thalassa, she had amnesia due to the accident with Troupe Gramarye. She didn’t know who you were. She didn’t even know that she was anyone other than Lamiroir.”

“But she does now,” Apollo said. “So how long have you known we were here?”

Thalassa looked at the floor. There was no sense lying. She knew there was the possibility that her children would be angry at her, and she was also well aware of Apollo’s inherited ability. “I will not lie, Apollo. After the trial of Vera Misham, I regained my memories and had surgery to fix my eyes as well. I’ve known almost the entire time.”

Apollo nodded, his lips pressed tightly together. “Right. And you never bothered to look for me in the 24 years since you lost me in that fire. My last name has always been Justice, and you didn’t lose your memories of me until years after the fire. If you had even looked, you would have been able to find me. Instead you left me in foster care, and in orphanages, and went ahead with your life. I didn’t even know I had a sister all this time.” His voice cracked, and his hands were visibly shaking now. “My entire life, except for the short time I spent with Dhurke, I thought I was alone.”

Trucy took a deep breath. She felt for Apollo. He did have the right to be angry, she thought. Thalassa left him as a baby, and started a new life with Trucy’s biological father, and had her. A whole new family, while Apollo had none. She wondered if her real father even knew about Apollo’s existence. At least Trucy had memories of her mother, at least she thought she knew what happened to her and had some sort of closure all these years. Apollo had none of that. He’d been left to wonder what happened to her for his entire life.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Trucy said, lifting her eyes to her mother’s. “I’m so happy you’re alive and that Polly and I are related, but he has a point. Why didn’t you tell us sooner if you knew all this time?”

“I have no excuse,” Thalassa said. “I wanted to wait for the right moment, but I know now that that was a mistake, and there is no right time for something like this. But the longer I put it off, the scarier it became, and I would end up putting it off further. All I can do now is apologize, and ask forgiveness.”

Apollo stood up suddenly, surprising everyone. “You think you can just waltz back into our lives and expect us to forgive you?” he said. His voice was even and surprisingly quiet for Apollo. “I never needed you, and I certainly don’t now. I’m a grown man and I’ve turned out pretty well, I think, no thanks to you.” He turned to Trucy. “Trucy, I’ll never abandon you the way she abandoned us, but right now I do need some time alone. I’ll come back, I promise. If anything, I’m glad to know you’re my sister. I’ve always felt something… like some sort of invisible bond with you. I guess now I know why.” He started heading for the door. “Excuse me, please.”

Thalassa said nothing, and when Apollo was gone, she sighed. “I expected this reaction, but I wish there was something I could do to make it up to him. If he would let me explain why I wasn’t able to find him after the fire…”

Phoenix stood up. “You two stay here. I’ll go see if I can talk to him.” He followed Apollo into the hallway. Looking around, Phoenix spotted him already near the elevators. “Apollo, wait up!” he called.

Apollo started pressing the down button on the elevator faster, but it hadn’t even made it up to their floor before Phoenix caught up to him. “Apollo, can’t you at least give Thalassa a chance to explain?”

Apollo rounded on him, his face red with a mixture of anger and sadness. Phoenix could see tears glistening in his eyes, threatening to spill over. “You knew this whole time, didn’t you, Mr. Wright?” he said. His voice was shaky. “I find it a strange coincidence that you just so happened to hire a lawyer who was your daughter’s own brother. You’ve known this entire time, and you never told either of us.”

Phoenix had expected this anger directed at him as well, but he had no excuses to rely on like Thalassa. “I did. I wasn’t sure about Thalassa at first, but I’ve always known you were related to Trucy…”

Apollo shook his head in disbelief. “You know, Mr. Wright, when I first met you, I was so unimpressed. When I was younger and first starting out in law school, I looked up to you. I basically idolized you. The things they said about you in the papers and on TV were amazing.” He laughed shortly. “I aspired to be even half as great as you were back then. Then I met you and you were just some bum who could barely afford to pay his rent and couldn’t play piano to save his life, who played poker in a seedy bar.”

Phoenix said nothing. He deserved everything Apollo was heaping onto him, he knew that. Apollo continued on.

“And after that first trial, when you said that the playing card I used was forged… Honestly, I still don’t regret hitting you after that. But you know what? Over the years I’ve known you, you made up for that, and I really had grown to admire you again. You were able to clear your name and become a lawyer again, you helped figure out what really happened to Clay and were able to prove Athena and Prosecutor Blackquill innocent, and you must have done something right to make Maya and Pearl love you so much. All of that gave me hope. But now…” he sniffed. “I don’t know what to think about you again. Why would you hide something like this from us?”

“Apollo, please-” Phoenix tried. He didn’t want to lose his friendship over this. It was a bad move on his part to wait so long for Thalassa. He should have told them, with or without her permission. It was on her that she had decided to keep it a secret and run off again to who knows where, all the while knowing her children were both alive and well, and leaving him to keep it from them and watch as they grew closer and closer without being able to utter a word of it.

“No,” Apollo interrupted, waving a hand to silence him. “I’m not even angry at you for my sake… but for Trucy’s. Your own daughter, and you didn’t bother to tell her that her mother was alive or that she had a brother? After all she’d already lost, you kept that from her? How could you?”

“Thalassa didn’t want me to tell either of you. She wanted to wait. I couldn’t just tell you without her permission, Apollo—”

“You could have told us we were related, at the very least. That would have been something, but you didn’t even do that.”

“Please, Apollo, come back to the office so we can talk about it.”

“No. I said I needed time to think. I’ll be back when I’m ready.” The elevator dinged, and the doors slid open. Apollo stepped inside and found the ground floor button, then started immediately pressing the button to close the doors. Phoenix didn’t bother following him in. If Apollo needed time, he would have to give that to him. Apollo looked up, and Phoenix could have sworn he saw a single tear slip down his cheek before the doors closed and the elevator headed downstairs.

When Phoenix re-entered the office, Thalassa looked up expectantly, but her face dropped when she saw that Apollo wasn’t with him. Trucy, who had moved from her seat to sit beside her mother, placed a hand over one of hers. “Don’t worry, he’ll be back.”

Phoenix nodded. “He said he needed time to think, but he’d be back when he was ready. I don’t think we need to worry about him running back to Khura’in or anything like that.”

Thalassa nodded, then smiled at Trucy. “I suppose you and I can use some of this time to catch up. I’ve missed so much.”

Trucy smiled pleasantly back. “Well, to start with, what should I call you?”


Apollo wasn’t even sure where he was going, he just needed to get out of that room. He needed time to think about this. He had so many conflicting emotions he was sure Athena would have a field day with her Mood Matrix if she knew what was going on.

He was happy deep down when he really thought about it. His mother was alive when he’d assumed her dead for years, and Trucy was his sister? He should have been celebrating, but he couldn’t shake the feeling of anger at Thalassa and Phoenix for keeping this secret from them for so long. While it was true that Phoenix made a point of making sure he and Trucy spent time together often — he now realized why — it didn’t feel the same. If they had known they were siblings it would have been different somehow.

He stuffed his hands in his pockets and headed down the sidewalk. There was a cafe not too far away that he could go to, have a coffee, and then maybe head back to the office once he’d cooled off a bit. He’d have to talk it out with Thalassa eventually, but at the moment he was too overwhelmed.

It was a cold evening, so the cafe was pretty packed when he finally made his way inside. There was a small line up, and he stepped in line behind someone wearing a slouchy winter hat over their blonde hair, which peeked out ever so slightly, and a black leather jacket zipped up to their chin. They were wearing sunglasses too, which Apollo found strange since it was almost dark out, and they were inside.

The line moved rather quickly, and he stood tapping his foot while the person in front of him leaned over the counter suggestively towards the pretty young barista on the other side. “I’ll have a large, non-fat frappuccino with whipped cream and chocolate sauce, please, Fräulein.”

Apollo froze in his spot. He knew that fake German accent anywhere, and now the blonde hair and the sunglasses and zipped up coat, along with the obnoxious drink order, made perfect sense. Klavier Gavin, prosecutor and ex-rock star, was attempting to hide his identity in a cafe full of young people who would all recognize him if they’d ever so much as turned on a TV at some point in their lives. The young barista wasn’t able to recognize him behind the sunglasses and with his long hair pulled up into the hat, but his smile was apparently all he needed to impress, because she blushed and giggled, then headed back to make his drink.

Apollo kept quiet, hoping desperately that Klavier would take his drink and leave without noticing him. But his luck had never been that good, and as soon as the barista handed over his drink, Klavier turned around and grinned right down at Apollo.

“Hallo, Herr Forehead.”

Apollo groaned. “Hi, Prosecutor Gavin.”

“You didn’t think I would miss that glaringly obvious forehead, did you? I could see it shining in the reflection of the glass here,” he said, gesturing towards the display of baked goods.

Apollo rolled his eyes and moved up to the counter to give the barista his order, a simple coffee with cream and sugar. He paid, and when he had his drink in hand he started making his way to a table. Klavier followed right behind.

“Do you mind if I join you, Herr Forehead? I’d love to hear all about this Kingdom of Khura’in I hear you’ve been living in this past year, without even saying goodbye to me, might I add.”

“I’m really not in the mood, Prosecutor Gavin,” Apollo said. Klavier ignored him and sat down in the booth Apollo had chosen, on the opposite side of the table from him. He slipped off his sunglasses and looked around, then set them on the table, seemingly satisfied that no one was paying enough attention to notice him now.

He looked at Apollo seriously. “What happened? I know you don’t really consider me a friend, but you’re welcome to tell me. I think we know each other well enough for that at least, ja?”

Apollo thought for a second. Maybe it would feel good to tell someone, even Klavier Gavin. “Okay, you really want to know?”

Klavier leaned forward eagerly. “Oh yes.”

“You remember Lamiroir, right?”

“Of course.”

“I just found out that she’s my mom, and Trucy Wright is my sister,” Apollo deadpanned.

Klavier blinked, then started to laugh, and a few heads did turn in their direction. “Oh come on, Herr Forehead. What’s really going on?”

Apollo sat and simply looked at Klavier with a completely straight face. “I’m being serious, Prosecutor Gavin.” Klavier raised his eyebrows. He knew Apollo wasn’t really one to joke around, so if he was insisting after being called out once, Klavier had to believe him. For once in his life he didn’t really know what to say. Apollo snorted. “I’ve even made Klavier Gavin speechless. Imagine how I feel finding this out!”

“Well it is surprising, but isn’t it a good thing? Why are you here alone in this cafe rather than spending time with your long lost mother and sister?”

Apollo sighed. “It’s way too long a story, Prosecutor.”

“Herr Forehead, why don’t you just call me Klavier? ‘Prosecutor Gavin’ is so formal, and we’re not in the courtroom right now.”

“Alright… Klavier.”

Klavier smiled that perfectly straight white smile again. “I don’t mind long stories, either. As often as we’ve gone toe to toe in court, I don’t really know much about you, do I?”

Apollo shrugged. “Well, like you said, it’s not like we’re close friends, right?”

“We can always change that. Although, I get the feeling you don’t like me very much.”

Apollo looked away, a little embarrassed. “I don’t mean to come across that way. You’re just a little… overwhelming sometimes. It’s your whole rock star thing, I guess.”

“Except The Gavinners are no more. Unless you happen to know another detective that plays guitar? Or maybe you play an instrument? Wouldn’t it be funny to have a prosecutor and a defense attorney in a band together?”

Apollo couldn’t help smiling. “Unfortunately, I don’t play guitar. My dad did, though. Maybe I should take it up, I might have some latent musical talent in my blood.”

“Well, if your dad played guitar and your mom is Lamiroir, I’d say there’s a good chance. Maybe I should give you some lessons?” Klavier said, resting his head in his hand and flashing that smile yet again. Apollo didn’t give him the satisfaction of a reaction, so Klavier took a sip of his drink. “Or you could just tell me about what happened with Lamiroir and Fräulein Wright and get it off your chest. Believe it or not, I know what it’s like to have family issues. You know about my brother, after all.”

Apollo didn’t say anything to that. He was just glad that Klavier didn’t remind him of Kristoph. They looked alike sure, but Klavier and Kristoph Gavin couldn’t be more different from each other, and when Apollo spoke to Klavier, he was never reminded of his old boss or that old case. He supposed that was a good thing, considering.

So Apollo told him. He told him everything, and Klavier listened. When he was finished his story, Klavier only nodded thoughtfully, finished off his frappucino and leaned across the table again.

“Maybe you need something a little stronger than a coffee, ja, Herr Forehead?”


January 7th, 2029, 9:00 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

When Phoenix and Trucy made it home that night after eating dinner with Thalassa at a fancy restaurant that she insisted on paying for, Maya and Pearl were waiting in the living room. They both jumped to their feet as soon as they entered the room.

Maya noticed right away that Apollo wasn’t with them, but she hoped that maybe he’d stayed out a little later to spend more time with Thalassa. “How did it go?” she said, looking back and forth between the two.

Phoenix and Trucy exchanged a look. “Well… ‘okay’ would probably be the best way to describe it?” Phoenix said, while still looking at Trucy.

She shrugged and nodded. “I guess so. I mean… I’m happy, but it’s also weird, you know? And Apollo seemed pretty upset.”

“Oh. So where is Mr. Apollo?” Pearl said from behind Maya. Maya had filled her in on what was going on after Phoenix left to meet them at the office. By that time, she knew it was safe to tell her without fear of her accidentally letting anything slip to Apollo or Trucy.

“I’m not really sure, Pearls,” Phoenix said, taking off his jacket and hanging it over the back of the couch before sitting down. “He left the office a little after 5, I think. He was mad.”

Maya sat down beside Phoenix and Trucy sat in the armchair across from them. Both of them looked tired, Maya thought. They did have a pretty emotionally exhausting day.

Trucy set her jaw. “He won’t leave though, he promised me. And now that he knows I’m his sister,” she said, smiling a little, “I know he’ll be back.”

“How do you feel, Trucy?” Maya asked.

“Good. I’m really happy, it’s just so much to take in. I don’t even know what to call her. She said I could call her mom if I wanted but it feels… well, weird.”

“Maybe once you spend some more time with her, it won’t be so weird.”

“Yeah, maybe. She’s going to take me prom dress shopping next week, so you don’t have to do it anymore, Maya.”

“O-Oh,” Maya stammered. She looked at Phoenix, who didn’t seem to notice that anything was amiss. He was busy conversing with Pearl about Apollo’s whereabouts, playfully teasing her that she didn’t need to worry because he wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye to her. She was, of course, turning crimson. “But prom isn’t for another month. Is she going to be around that long?”

“She’s not sure. She has another tour coming up soon, but that’s the reason she wanted to take me early, so we could pick it out together.”

“Well. I’m sure you’ll have fun,” Maya said, trying not to show her hurt feelings. She glanced at the clock. It was only just after 9, not really early enough for bed, but she needed to get upstairs. “I’m kind of tired, and I have a meeting in Kurain to go to tomorrow, so I’m going to head upstairs and read a bit before bed.” She gave Trucy a quick hug. “I’m happy for you, Trucy.”

“Thanks, Maya.”

Maya nodded. She turned to wave goodnight to Pearl, and Phoenix turned around as well. “I’ll be up a little later, Maya,” he said. “I’m going to stay up a bit in case Apollo comes home late.”

“Sure, Nick,” she said, stopping to blow him a kiss. “In case I’m asleep when you get up there.”

He made a grabbing motion in the air and went right back to talking with Pearl, so Maya headed up to their bedroom. Instead of reading, she flopped into the fluffy comforter and buried her face in her pillow. Phoenix had reassured her that Trucy wouldn’t replace her just because her real mom came back, but Maya almost felt like she was already starting to do exactly that. She pulled her legs up and tucked herself under the blankets, pulling them up to her nose. She closed her eyes, hoping that maybe she’d be able to just go to sleep.

She had no such luck, and was still awake when she heard Phoenix enter the room. She closed her eyes right away and pretended to be asleep. He must have thought she was, because he was quiet as he got ready for bed. When he crawled in beside her, she felt him lean over to kiss her on the cheek, but he pulled back when he noticed her face was wet.

“Maya?” he whispered, close to her ear.

She opened her eyes. “What?”

He reached over her to her nightstand and flicked on the light. He squinted down at her. “Were you… crying?”

She turned her face into her pillow. “No. Just go to sleep, Nick. Turn the light off.”

He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Maya,” he sounded like he was scolding a child. “Tell me what’s wrong. I can’t come to bed to find my girlfriend crying for no apparent reason and just let it go like it’s nothing. Did something happen today?” She rolled onto her back to look at him. He was lying on his side, holding himself up on an elbow to look down at her worriedly. She was all cried out by now, so all she did was stare at him. He sighed. “Maya.”

“You said Trucy wouldn’t replace me just because her real mom came back,” she said quickly.

His eyebrows knitted together. “Who said she is?”

“She’s getting her real mom to take her prom dress shopping now. I was supposed to do that. I wanted to.”

He tilted his head. “Trucy probably didn’t even know you wanted to that badly. She probably thinks she’s doing you a favour by getting Thalassa to go with her instead. You should just tell her you wanted to do it. Maybe you could go with them.”

“Then I’ll feel like I’m just acting like a baby and intruding on her quality time with her real mom.”

“You don’t have to keep saying ‘real’ mom, Maya.”

“Well, she is. I’m just Maya, her dad’s girlfriend. She’s never called me mom, even though she used to bug you about getting her a new mommy. When you actually did, she just kept calling me Maya.”

“Again, did you ever talk to her about it? Tell her she could call you that?”

She turned her head and puffed her cheeks out. “No.”

“Well, there you go,” he said, finally laying down beside her. He sounded so unconcerned, it was making her a little mad.

“You don’t get it, Nick. It’s because you’re a man.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Because you don’t know what it’s like. I know Trucy isn’t my real daughter but I still love her like one. Something even as simple as buying a dumb dress together is such a mom and daughter bonding experience, one I wanted to have with Trucy, since Pearly will never go to a prom. Now I won’t get to. I’m sure you never looked forward to going dress shopping with your daughter because it’s just not a dad thing to do.” She was getting close to tears again, so she rolled over to face her back to him.

He traced a finger lightly down her side, and she squirmed away from him. “I’ll talk to Trucy tomorrow,” he said, pulling his hand back.

She rolled back over quickly. “No, I don’t want her to feel bad.”

“I can make it sound like you never told me. A sort of, ‘hey wasn’t Maya supposed to take you? I thought she was looking forward to it?’ type of thing.”

She shook her head. “No, don’t, Nick. I’ll just suck it up. I want Trucy to have a good relationship with Thalassa, so I shouldn’t interfere… Even if I am jealous.”

“Okay… If you’re sure.”

“I am. I’ll be fine.” She forced a smile and leaned in to peck him on the cheek. “Give it eighteen years and maybe I’ll have another daughter to go with.”

He smiled. “I hope so. Anything yet?”

“Nick, we only just started trying two days ago, so no, nothing yet.”

“I’m impatient.”

“You’re going to hate it when I actually am pregnant. You do know it takes nine months right?”

He rolled his eyes while she giggled and snuggled in closer so he could wrap an arm around her. “Goodnight, Nick.”

“Mm. Night, Maya.”

Chapter Text

January 8th, 2029, 10:00 AM
Unknown Apartment

Apollo woke with a pounding headache and a hazy memory. He was squished onto a couch somewhere instead of in his guest bed back at Trucy’s house. His vest and his tie were on the floor, but otherwise he was still fully dressed. He sat up, holding his head while he looked around and tried to discern where he was. He’d really gone overboard the night before. He hadn’t been that drunk in a very, very long time. Maybe not ever.

The room was large and decorated with a weird assortment of things. The couch he was on was black leather, and a soft but heavy fur blanket was draped over him. The carpet was red and sort of ugly in Apollo’s opinion, even as a lover of the colour red. There were strange paintings on the walls and even stranger statues standing in seemingly random spots. Whoever owned this place really needed to hire a new interior designer.

He spotted a glass of water and a bottle of ibuprofen on the glass coffee table in front of him, and he reached for them desperately. He popped the pill into his mouth and swallowed it down with a sip of water, silently thanking the person who left them. He was slowly sipping the rest of the glass when Klavier opened the door and stepped into the room with a tray of food. Of course. Only Klavier Gavin could have such a terribly ugly apartment, and who else could it have been anyway? As far as Apollo could remember, Klavier was the one footing the bill for all the drinks the night before.

“Herr Forehead! You’re awake!” Klavier grinned at him, already showered and dressed for the day. He looked a little different, more at home and comfy than the leather wearing rock star Apollo was so used to. His hair was pulled up into a messy ponytail instead of the normally neat twisted braid he always wore, and he was in jeans a black button up. It looked a little strange, but Apollo kind of liked it. It was nice to see Klavier laid back for once, and not channeling the Gavinners front man.

He brought the tray of food into the room and set it down on the coffee table, then sat down beside Apollo on the couch. “Breakfast in bed for the sleeping beauty. I thought you were never going to get up.”

Apollo looked down at the food. It looked surprisingly delicious, and he was hungry. He picked up a piece of perfectly browned toast and began buttering it. “Is this your place?” Apollo asked.

Klavier nodded. “Ja. I didn’t know where you were staying and you were so drunk that I couldn’t even understand you when you kept trying to tell me, so I brought you home last night. You were, well, how should I say it? Smashed. You’re not much of a drinker normally, are you?”

“Heh. I guess not. I hope I didn’t give you too much trouble.”

Klavier waved a hand. “Not at all. How much do you remember?”

Apollo took a bite of his toast and thought. “Not much. I remember telling you practically my entire life story at the cafe, and then we went to that bar downtown and you bought us some shots. Everything is a blur after that.”

“Ah, so you don’t remember.”

“Remember what?”

“Nothing of importance,” Klavier said, taking his own plate from the tray and cutting up his egg whites.

Apollo wanted to ask again what he’d forgotten, but he heard a whining noise and looked up from his plate. “What was that?”

“Hm? Oh. That’s Vongole.”

“Who’s Vongole?”

“My dog. She’s probably out in the hallway begging to come in because she knows there’s food.”

“You have a dog?”

“Ja. She was my brother’s dog. I took her when he went to prison.”

They both heard scratching at the door, and another high pitched whine. “Why don’t you let her in?” Apollo said. “I don’t mind dogs.”

Klavier shrugged. “If you’re sure.” He went to the door and opened it up, allowing the yellow lab to enter the room. She bounded inside, tongue hanging and nose sniffing the air. She spotted Apollo and the food right away, and padded up to him. She stopped before jumping on him and sat down, keeping a nice distance from the food but staring at Apollo as if expecting something.

Apollo reached out a hand to pat her head. “She’s really well behaved, Klavier. I thought she’d at least try to jump up on me.”

“My brother had her trained well,” Klavier said as he approached. “Normally she wouldn’t even have whined at the door, but I let her get away with more than my brother ever did. She’s just too cute to get mad at,” he said, kneeling beside her and squishing her face in his hands. He made a smoochy face at her, and her tongue flicked out to lick his cheek.

Apollo chuckled at the sight and picked up a strip of his bacon. “Can I feed her?”

“Sure, why not? Just not too much.”

Apollo broke the bacon in half and held out a piece for the dog. She sniffed it, and took it gingerly from his hand. Her tongue barely touched his fingers, let alone her teeth. Apollo smiled and patted her again while she munched.

Klavier took his seat again. “Herr Forehead, are you going to go see your mother today?”

Apollo sighed. He’d been hoping to avoid that topic of conversation. “I don’t know.”

“You should. You’re going to have to eventually. Don’t do what she did to you and put it off because you're scared. Whether or not the outcome is good, you have to get things out in the open. You have to talk about it, give her a chance to explain and then decide whether or not her explanation was good enough.” He looked away. “That’s what I did with Kristoph. I gave him a chance to explain why he did what he did, except his excuses weren’t good enough. I hope for your sake, Lamiroir has a good reason and you can forgive her. It’s much easier to forgive someone than to have to cut ties with them.” He shook his head and smiled again, though it looked a little forced. “Not to mention, I’m sure Fräulein Wright is waiting for you to come home now that you know you’re siblings. She'll want to spend more time with you before you go back to Khura’in.”

Apollo nodded. “I know… I will go today. I have to anyway, since I’m supposed to go back to Khura’in at the end of the week.”

“Oh. So soon?”

“Yeah, unfortunately. I mean, I love it there, but after this week I feel like I need more time here. I can’t stay any longer though, I have to go back. I’ve been away long enough. I took on a huge responsibility when I decided to stay there, so I really have no choice.” He popped his piece of bacon into his mouth and chewed. “I guess I should go back to Mr. Wright’s house first,” he said once he’d swallowed. “That’s where I was staying, by the way.”

Klavier nodded. “I guess ‘I’m going to Mr. Wright’s house’ does make more sense than ‘I’m going to fight that mouse’.”

Apollo snorted. “Yeah. He recently bought a house with his girlfriend, and Trucy lives with them, so I was staying in a guest room there.” He smiled playfully. “It was nicer than this place. I thought you were a rock star, Gavin. Where’s the lavish guest bedroom I should’ve had here?”

“This is also downtown Los Angeles, Herr Forehead,” Klavier shot back. “Even for a former rock star, apartments in L.A. are expensive and small.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice ever so slightly. “But if you really want to stay in a lavish bedroom, I could show you mine sometime.”

Apollo almost choked on his next bite of bacon. He never really understood why Trucy would sometimes giggle after a trial and say something like “Prosecutor Gavin was flirting with you again today, Polly”. He knew Klavier liked to tease him and make remarks that could maybe be construed as suggestive if you looked too much into it, but Apollo never really got the impression that he was actually being flirted with.

At least not until now. Hell, combined with the look Klavier was giving him, that sounded like a bona fide offer. Perhaps he was just completely clueless, and all those times he brushed Klavier off as trying to get a rise out of him, Klavier was legitimately trying to get his attention? But that was ridiculous. Klavier Gavin was a very good looking man, a famous celebrity who could get any woman or man he wanted. Why would someone like Klavier ever be interested in him that way?

Apollo leaned back to put some distance between them and cleared his throat, blushing despite himself. “N-No thank you.”

Klavier sat back too. Apollo hardly ever reacted to his flirtations, but he was suddenly very flustered. “Sorry, Herr Forehead. I’m only kidding. You know how I like to tease you.”

“Y-Yeah… You always have.”

Klavier held out a piece of his own bacon for Vongole, who took it happily. “If you want to shower, I can show you to the bathroom.”

Apollo shook his head quickly and pushed away his plate, which was only half finished. “That’s okay. I’ll grab a taxi back to Trucy’s and just shower there. Thanks for the offer though.” He stood up and picked up his vest and tie from the floor. “Really, thanks, Klavier. I might not remember much of last night but it was nice to tell someone on the outside about what’s going on. I appreciate you making sure I was okay last night, too.”

“It was my pleasure, Herr Forehead.”

Apollo shifted. It seemed like there was more to be said, but Klavier wasn’t offering anything up, and neither was he. He reached into his vest pocket and found his cell phone, still charged about half way. He opened up his contacts and held the phone out to Klavier. “Here. Can you enter your phone number? I don’t have it.”

Klavier raised his eyebrows and reached for the phone. “What for?”

Apollo shrugged. “In case I need someone to hang out with next time I'm in town. I also have an international calling and texting plan now, so you can call or text me whenever, even when I’m in Khura’in. You know, if you ever just want to talk.”

Klavier smiled. “Alright. I’ll be sure to do that.” He handed the phone back to Apollo. “I hope things work out between you and your mother, Herr Forehead. Have a good flight back to Khura’in when you go.”

“Thanks. I’ll be going now. Um… which way do I go?”

Klavier chuckled and stood up to walk Apollo out.


January 8th, 2029, 11:30 AM
Fey-Wright Residence

Due to traffic, the cab ride back out into the country where his boss now lived took a little longer than usual, but everyone was still home when he walked in the door. In fact, the entire family was seated in the living room watching TV and turned around to look at him as he walked in. He felt awkward, walking in like he’d just taken a walk of shame home from a rock star’s apartment after a drunken night out, especially with Pearl and Maya there, two people he wasn’t exactly used to spending a lot of time with yet.

Trucy was the first to move. She jumped out of her chair and ran up to him to wrap him in a hug. “Polly! I was worried! Where were you all night?!”

“Please tell me you slept at the office and didn’t waste money on a hotel room, Apollo,” Phoenix said.

“No, I stayed with a friend.”

Trucy stepped back. “What friend? We called Athena and asked if you went back to the office to stay with her and she said she hadn’t seen you.”

“It wasn’t Athena,” Apollo said, sitting down in Trucy’s vacated seat. She pouted when she realized he’d stolen her seat, but quickly made herself comfortable by plopping herself in Phoenix’s lap. He rolled his eyes, but he made no attempt to make her move.

“Well, who then? You don’t have any other friends,” she said.

Apollo looked away. He didn’t know why he felt so embarrassed admitting it. Nothing happened. He didn’t want anything to happen either. Of course not. Never. Not with Klavier Gavin. “I met Prosecutor Gavin last night,” he finally said. “We kind of went drinking. And I went back to his apartment after because he didn’t know where I was staying and I was really drunk.”

Trucy giggled behind her hand, but caught the look Apollo was giving her and stopped. She cleared her throat. “Ah. I see.”

“You went and got drunk last night?” Phoenix said. “I guess I don’t blame you but really. You could’ve called.”

Apollo felt himself getting annoyed. “Sorry, Mr. Wright. You might be my sister’s dad, but you’re not mine. You’re not my boss anymore either, so I don’t need to report everything I’m doing to you.”

Phoenix closed his mouth and patted Trucy’s knee. She hopped off of him and he got up. “You’re right. Sorry, Apollo. I don’t know what your plans are, but if you want to see Thalassa today, she’s staying at the Gatewater Hotel across from the office. I have some paperwork to finish from the trial the other day, so I’ll be in my office.” With that, he left.

Maya and Pearl felt suddenly out of place without Phoenix there with them, so Maya stood up as well. “Well, Pearly and I have to go to Kurain for a meeting with the Elders this afternoon. We should probably get going now that we know you’re safe, Apollo.”

Pearl nodded. “I’m glad you’re back too, Mr. Apollo.”

The two of them practically ran to the front door where they threw on their coats and left the house to walk to the closest bus station. Apollo sat back in his chair and sighed. “I chased everyone out.”

Trucy pursed her lips. “It’s okay, Polly, I get it. Really. I know my circumstances aren’t the same as yours, but Thalassa hurt me as well by admitting she knew about us for the past three years and didn’t say anything. I just decided to forgive her.”

“How can you forgive her so quickly though, Trucy?”

She shrugged. “I figure, why bother being angry at her for the past when she’s here now? She seems to genuinely regret her choice not to tell us sooner. We should just use this opportunity to get to know her. We’ve been given a second chance that a lot of kids don’t get.”

He rubbed a hand over his face. “You’re right. I should be happy.”

Trucy smiled. “It’s fine to be upset, Polly. But you should at least go talk to her yourself. And…”

“Yeah?”

“Try not to be too mad at my Daddy. He feels bad. He’s already apologized to me about ten times since last night. He’s looked out for you, hasn’t he?”

Apollo crossed his arms. “I suppose, after he got his badge back. Before that he was kind of an ass, no offense.”

Trucy giggled. “None taken. He was having a hard time back then, juggling his investigation into his disbarment, taking care of me, and his relationship with Maya. It got to him, I think, so he was a little on edge all the time, and he tried to hide it by acting all aloof like nothing bothered him."

Apollo’s look softened. Back then Phoenix had been no more than an acquaintance who showed up at random intervals to spout some strange nonsense at him only to disappear again, so Apollo had no inkling of what was happening in his personal life. It wasn't until Phoenix became a lawyer again that Apollo began to think of him as a friend. "I’ll apologize to him.”

She shrugged. “You don’t have to. He’ll probably just tell you he deserved it anyway. I would just try not to be so hard on him from now on.”

“I guess I can do that.” They were quiet for a few seconds, until Apollo heaved a sigh. “Alright. I’m going to go shower. Then I’ll go see Thalassa.”

"I'll come with you, if you want."

He shook his head and started to stand. "I think I need to talk to her alone right now, but thanks for offering.”

Trucy smiled. “Okay. Hey, Polly? Can I ask you one more thing?”

He turned back around. “Sure, what?”

“Did you have fun with Prosecutor Gavin last night?” she said, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.

Apollo flushed. “Don’t start that! Nothing happened!”

Trucy got up and ran after him as he headed towards the bathroom. “Come ooon, Apollo, tell me! I’m your sister, you can trust me! I know he likes you!”

“Truce, I’m serious. Nothing happened, and I was drunk anyway. He was just… being nice, is all.”

“Hm hm hmmm, nice, huh?”

“Shut up!” he said, slamming the bathroom door behind him.

He could hear Trucy giggling out in the hall. “At least tell me you finally got his number,” she called through the door.

He rolled his eyes. “Fine. I got his number.”

“Good going, Polly! I’ll high five you later!” she said, giggling some more as she headed down the hall to her room.


January 8th, 2029, 1:15 PM
Gatewater Hotel, Room 415

Thalassa turned the page in her book even though she couldn’t have told someone what she’d just read on the previous page. Her mind was occupied only with her children. She was beyond lucky that Trucy forgave her so quickly, even though she felt like she didn’t deserve her forgiveness. But it had been so nice to go out to dinner with her knowing full well that she wasn’t just dining with a friend she met on a murder case a few years ago, but with her mother. They were still in an awkward stage where Trucy wasn’t sure whether to call her ‘Thalassa’ or ‘mom’, but Thalassa didn’t mind that. Trucy could decide for herself when she was comfortable enough to call her mom again, if ever. Thalassa now knew about Phoenix’s other half as well, and she wasn’t exactly sure how close this Maya Fey and Trucy were. She was happy Trucy had another woman to look up to, even if it wasn’t her, and she didn’t want to intrude on their relationship if she could help it. She hoped to meet this Maya someday. Phoenix had talked about her at great length during their dinner the night before and he made her sound like quite an interesting woman.

Thalassa had been more than happy to have Phoenix join them for dinner if only because it made conversation a little easier, though she had a feeling that even if he wasn’t invited, he would have invited himself. It was always clear to Thalassa how much Phoenix loved Trucy, and that he was rather protective of her, even with her own mother. She couldn’t blame him for that. She was glad Trucy had ended up with someone like him to take care of her after Zak’s disappearance and subsequent death. Overall dinner had been nice, and she and Trucy now had plans to go shopping within the next few weeks.

Now she was worried about Apollo. She completely understood his anger, and she wouldn’t blame him if he never spoke to her again. She only wanted to know that he was safe. She had no idea where he went the night before, and the last time she spoke to Phoenix, he hadn’t heard from him yet either. She just needed to know that he was okay and hadn’t done anything reckless because of her. She didn’t truly believe he would, for Trucy’s sake, but she couldn’t help worrying.

She placed her book down on the table in front of her and looked around the hotel room. There wasn’t much to do, but she didn’t know the Los Angeles area enough to go out and do something on her own, and she didn’t want to contact Trucy again so soon. She had to let her set the pace and not try to force herself back into her life.

She picked up the photo she’d set on the coffee table to study it yet again. It was the copied photo of Jove Justice that Phoenix had been nice enough to give her. It was framed now, and she brought it everywhere with her. Apollo had grown into such a handsome man, just like Jove. He looked just like his dad. She missed Jove terribly. She still felt like he was her one true love. Zak Gramarye had been a fine enough man, her father certainly approved more of Zak than he ever had Jove, but she never felt the same way about Zak as she had Jove. Now they were both gone, and her children were the only proof she’d ever been tied to either of them.

She was still studying the photo when there was a knock on her door. She got up expecting someone from the hotel walking around giving away free bottles or water or something similar. When she opened the door she was instead greeted by a smiling face.

“Are you Thalassa Gramarye? Otherwise known as Lamiroir?”

“Um, yes?”

The smile dropped from the man’s face and Thalassa looked down as he raised his hand, just in time to see the shiny metal glint of a gun. All she managed to do was gasp before a gunshot rang out in the hallway of the Gatewater Hotel.


January 8th, 2029, 1:34 PM
Gatewater Hotel

Apollo nervously made his way into the elevator and hit the button for the fourth floor. Trucy told him it was room 415 and had given him a keycard that Thalassa let her borrow in case she wasn’t there when he arrived. It was better than standing out in the hallway waiting for her, he just hoped she wouldn’t mind that he let himself in while she wasn’t there.

After a few stops to let others off on different floors, he finally made it to the fourth. He headed down the hallway towards number 15 and stopped outside the doorway. He lifted a hand to knock, taking a deep breath as he did so. He knocked twice and waited a few seconds, but there was no answer or noise from the other side of the door. It figured she would be out once he’d worked up the nerve to see her.

He looked down to take his wallet from his back pocket in order to grab the keycard, but his eye caught something on the floor. It looked like something dark was spilled on the other side of the door and was seeping underneath into the grey carpet in the hallway. He bent down and tentatively reached toward the wet mark, his hand already shaking. Someone must have spilled wine, or grape juice, maybe when they were delivering it to the room? He told himself that even though he knew before his finger even touched the sticky mess what it actually was. When he pulled his finger back and looked at it, it was red.

His heart immediately leapt into his throat, and he scrambled for the keycard in his wallet to unlock the door. He pushed on it, but there was something on the other side keeping it closed. He managed to push it open far enough that he could peek inside. Someone was on the floor in front of the door, their body like a weight keeping it closed. He pushed a little harder, the adrenaline now coursing through him making it easier, and managed to squeeze himself into the opening. He stepped over the body and turned around, knowing full well who it was but not wanting to believe it.

Thalassa was lying on her side, her brown hair tossed over her face, and her white dress soaked through with red. Apollo dropped to his knees and pulled on her shoulder to roll her onto her back. “No. No, no, no. This can’t be happening,” he mumbled, his eyes blurring with tears. He brushed her hair from her face and pressed two shaky fingers to her neck, hoping and praying that he’d feel a pulse.

There was one. It was faint, but it was there. “Oh god, mom. You can’t die. Please don’t die!” He got up and ran to the bathroom, grabbed all the towels from the towel rack, and sprinted back into the room to fall to his knees beside her again. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialled 9-1-1, then set the phone to speaker and dropped it beside him. There was a lot of blood, but it looked like it was originating from the lower half of her body, and when he felt around a bit he found the wound. He grabbed a towel and pressed it against her, holding it down and adding as much pressure as he could.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

“I need an ambulance and police at the Gatewater Hotel, room 415, right away! Someone’s been shot!”

“Alright, sir,” the operator said. “We’re sending someone your way. Are they still breathing?”

“Yes, barely. She has a pulse, but it’s faint, and there’s a lot of blood already. I’m applying pressure to the wound but it’s already soaked through one towel,” he said, adding the second towel on top. “Please just hurry. She’s my mother!”

“Okay, sir, just remain calm. Paramedics are on their way, just try to keep that pressure on the wound.”

Apollo could hardly see through his tears as he added a third towel to the wound and pressed down even harder.


January 8th, 2029, 2:30 PM
Hospital Waiting Room

Apollo was pacing the waiting room when Phoenix finally arrived with a tearful Trucy in tow. As soon as she laid on eyes on him, she sprinted to him to engulf him in a hug. He hugged her back as Phoenix approached. Apollo had managed to dry his eyes, but seeing Trucy’s tears was making it hard to continue keeping his at bay.

“How is she, Apollo?” Phoenix asked. Apollo noticed his eyes flick down and widen slightly, before looking back up at him.

Trucy let go of him and stared up, hoping for good news. “She’s in surgery,” Apollo told them. “Apparently she was shot in the lower left abdomen, so they’re hoping the bullet didn’t hit any major organs. They did say if I had been any later, she would have bled out.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “If I hadn’t been so stupid and stubborn and had gone to see her earlier she wouldn’t have been alone.”

Phoenix placed a hand on Apollo’s shoulder and squeezed reassuringly. “Don’t say that, Apollo. This isn’t your fault. Never think that.”

Apollo looked back up. “Did they find the person who did it?”

Phoenix shook his head. “I’m sorry, they didn’t. Not yet. Detective Gumshoe said they’re going to keep looking.”

Apollo clenched his fists. “Why didn’t anyone help her?! There was a gunshot inside a hotel and no one else called the cops before I got there?”

“They were probably scared,” Phoenix explained. “People tend to mind their own business when it comes to crime, especially in this city, so that they don’t end up hurt or involved somehow. And no one likes to be a helpful witness in our courts, we both know that.”

Apollo led the still sniffling Trucy to the chairs and they sat down together. Phoenix sat on the other side of her and glanced worriedly at Apollo again.

“Will she be okay, Daddy?” Trucy asked through her tears.

He looked down at her. “I don’t know, Truce,” Phoenix told her honestly, wrapping an arm around her. This only made her cry harder, and she turned to hug him, burying her face in his chest. He patted her back comfortingly and looked back at Apollo over her head. “Apollo… Your hands.”

Apollo looked down and swallowed at the mess. He’d never washed his hands after arriving at the hospital, he was so worried. They were covered in dried blood, and the knees of his pants were darker with red stains where he’d kneeled in the puddle of blood beside Thalassa in the hotel room. His eyes began to swim with tears again.

“Apollo.” He looked back up, finding the steadiness of Phoenix’s voice somehow comforting. “Go wash your hands. I’ll stay here with Trucy, in case something happens.”

Apollo nodded dumbly. “Okay, Mr. Wright. I’ll be right back…”

Phoenix watched Apollo walk slowly down the hallway in search of a bathroom. When he was out of sight, Phoenix reached into his pocket to grab his phone. Trucy pulled away. “What are you doing, Daddy?”

“I’m just going to call Maya to let her know what happened.”


Once inside the bathroom it was impossible for Apollo to hold in his tears any longer. He’d cried at the hotel room, cried in the ambulance, and cried in the waiting area before telling himself he needed to stop before Trucy arrived. But it was hard. What if Thalassa didn’t make it? She would die thinking he hated her, that he wanted nothing to do with his own mother. After his father, after Clay, and after Dhurke, Apollo wasn’t sure he could handle another death. Not to mention Trucy had been so happy and she’d been through enough already. When was it going to stop? Thalassa just couldn’t die. She couldn’t.

He managed to yank his bracelet off in order to rinse it under the sink, then set it aside to go about washing his hands. He pumped a handful of the antibacterial soap into his palm and began scrubbing, practically up to his elbows, then watched the red water swirl down the drain as he rinsed his hands. He slipped the bracelet back on when he was finished. There was nothing he could do about the blood stains on his pants until he got a change of clothes.

He turned the sink back on and splashed some water on his face, then leaned against the counter to take some deep breaths. He couldn’t go back out there yet.

He felt his phone buzzing in his pocket as he stood there. He didn’t feel like he even had the energy to answer it, but reached into his pants pocket to retrieve it anyway. One look at the screen told him it was Klavier Gavin. Normally the fact that the prosecutor was texting him only a few hours after he left the other’s home would have annoyed Apollo, but now he found it was a welcome distraction. The message was just a bunch of silly emojis to confirm that the numbers they exchanged were correct, and it made him feel slightly better for at least a few seconds. That was better than nothing.

Apollo tapped out a reply. He took his time. Klavier had known Lamiroir personally, he wrote a song with her and performed with her, so he couldn’t just dump the information about the attack on him via text message, but he felt like Klavier should know.

By the time Apollo got around to telling Klavier that “something happened”, Klavier was calling him directly. So he answered the phone, and told Klavier about the incident.

Immediately he insisted on coming to the hospital to visit and for moral support. Apollo didn’t want Klavier to see him in such a mess; crying and covered in blood, but found himself unable to say no. So he asked Klavier to bring him a change of clothes, and said he would meet him in the waiting area of the hospital.

Chapter Text

January 8th, 2029, 11:55 AM
Bus to Kurain Village

Pearl and Maya settled into the bus seat comfortably, ignoring the looks they got from strangers but smiling at the ones who smiled at them. Their strange attire got a lot of stares, but some people who rode the bus day to day were starting to recognize them now. Maya would usually start conversing with an older lady that was on the bus almost every morning. She didn’t know where she was from or where she was going, they only ever spoke to each other on the bus, but she was interested in spirit channeling, and Maya was more than happy to talk to her about it and about Kurain Village. The woman didn’t seem to be in attendance today, which made sense, since they were usually heading into the village early in the morning and it was early afternoon now.

Maya nudged Pearl instead. “So, Pearly. Anything new lately?”

“Not really. Why?”

Maya shrugged. “I dunno. I just thought maybe you might have wanted to talk about boys or something. You’re always so interested in my love life. What about yours?”

“L-Love life? I don’t know what you mean,” she said. She fidgeted with her necklace, glad that only Phoenix’s was charged with spiritual energy, and that he wasn’t there with them. He surely would have been able to see multiple Psyche-Locks lock into place around her.

Maya lowered her voice and leaned down towards her. “Have you found your special someone in Apollo, Pearly?”

Pearl’s pretzel looped hair went bouncing when she looked up in surprise. “Why would you think that?” she said.

Maya watched Pearl’s face redden. It was almost satisfying to see her get so embarrassed, just like Maya used to when Pearl would make her declarations about her and Phoenix’s love. “I dunno. You’ve just been spending an awful lot of time with him, that’s all.”

“I like Mr. Apollo,” Pearl said, adopting the use of his title again as if that made them seem less friendly. “But I don’t like him like him.”

“You don’t? Are you sure about that?”

“Well…”

“I knew it!” Maya cried. “You do like him!”

“Be quiet, Mystic Maya!” Pearl said. “People are starting to look at us.”

Maya chuckled. “Sorry. I got excited.”

Pearl looked down at the floor of the bus. “Actually… I wanted to ask you something about that.”

“What is it? You can ask me anything, Pearly.”

“Alright. Well, I actually wanted to ask… Have you ever had a crush on someone that you shouldn’t have a crush on? Someone that you know you’d never have a chance with, so you just want to stop thinking about them, but you can’t because they’re so handsome and nice to you all the time?”

Maya thought. “I guess it was sort of like that with Nick at first. I had such a crush on him, but I didn’t think I would ever have a chance with him because he was too old for me. I used to lay in bed thinking about him and then tell myself to just forget it because it was never going to happen.” She smiled. “But look at us now. Never say never, Pearly.”

“That’s the thing though, Mystic Maya. I know for a fact that this is a never situation. Trucy even told me I’m not his type.”

“Why would Trucy say something mean like that?”

Pearl shook her head. “She wasn’t being mean. She was trying to prepare me, I guess, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sorry, Mystic Maya, but I can’t tell you. It’s not my place to say, but I just know Mr. Apollo isn’t my special someone and he never will be. So how do I get over him?”

“I… I don’t know,” Maya admitted. “I never liked anyone before I met Nick,” she admitted. “You know, there weren’t a lot of boys in Kurain, so I never really had a crush on anyone before him. I’m not the best person to ask… I’m sorry.”

Pearl sighed. “It’s okay.”

“Maybe you should ask Nick,” Maya suggested. “I bet he had crushes on girls in school who didn’t always like him back. Probably lots of them.”

“It’s embarrassing though,” Pearl said. “What if he tells Apollo?”

“He wouldn’t do that, Pearly,” Maya said.

Pearl slumped in her seat. “I guess I could. Maybe. We’ll see.”

The rest of the bus ride consisted of general chatter, gossip about the old Elders in Kurain Village, and of course Pearl had to bring up Maya’s love life and ask if she had any luck yet in the pregnancy department.


January 8th, 2029, 12:47 PM
Kurain Village

As soon as they stepped off the bus, Maya and Pearl were surrounded by villagers. She couldn’t help feeling a little like royalty every time she came back to Kurain after a long period of time away, and especially now that she no longer lived in Fey Manor. The people loved her, and she knew it wasn’t just in her head. She tried as hard as she could to be a good leader; to be not like her mother who left the village for 15 years, but to be the way she thought Mia may have been had she become Master instead.

She knew there was plenty still to get done; simple things like bringing the village more into the modern age by adding more phone lines and finally getting internet and TV access were nothing when compared to the things she wanted to do, but it would all happen in good time.

She spoke to some of the closest villagers while Pearl stood beside her smiling and conversing with some of the younger acolytes, who always seemed to have plenty of questions about the boys Pearl was meeting in the city.

After a few minutes, the crowd began to disperse to go back to whatever menial chores they were attending to that day, the excitement of the Master’s return finally done. A wrinkled old woman in a lilac robe, a heavy magatama necklace around her frail looking neck, was all that remained.

“Elder Rose,” Maya said, stepping forward to hug the old woman. She was so very old now, Maya didn’t even know what her age actually was. She was old when Maya was a child, and she was old now that she was an adult.

“Hello, Master Maya,” Elder Rose said, patting Maya on the back with a surprisingly strong hand, and then switching her attention to Pearl. She squeezed her cheeks like Pearl was a little girl, but Pearl simply stood there and took it.

Rose had always been like an aunt or grandmother to the two of them, and apparently to Mia and even Maya’s mother as well. They were very distantly related, but Maya wasn’t sure how. Rose was the head elder on the council, the boss so to say, and Maya would forever be grateful to her for handling Kurain Village while her mother was missing, and then again while Maya was training to become the Master officially. Maya could trust her fully, the fact that Kurain Village was running smoothly even after her two year stint in Khura’in, and that there had been no attempted murders in years, was testament to that.

Rose turned back to Maya when Pearl’s cheeks were significantly pink. “Come, Master Maya. To the meeting room.”

Maya groaned. She knew she sounded like a child, but she couldn’t help it. She’d been on the bus for an hour, and she couldn’t rest for a few minutes before being dragged away? “Aw, Rose, I was hoping I could stop at the Manor—”

“I apologize, Master Maya. The other elders are impatient, as you know.”

Maya rolled her eyes, but began walking when Rose linked arms with her. “Oh, I know. When it comes to me they’re impatient. But when I want to make a new reform or something, it takes months and months of talking to finally decide whether or not it’s worth it. They do know that I can do any of this whenever I want to, and I’m just being nice by letting them deliberate, right?”

Rose smiled. “Yes, they know. They make you wait on purpose, so they feel like they were the ones to make the decision in the end, and can therefore take credit for bettering the village. They won’t do much else to actually oppose you, because they know there’s no point.”

Pearl crossed her arms as she walked beside Maya. “But they still know deep down that it was your idea, Mystic Maya!”

Maya smiled. “I know, Pearly. But all that really matters is the betterment of Kurain. So long as that happens, I don’t care who gets the credit for it.”

Rose nodded. “That proves that you are the leader we need, Master Maya. Too many of Kurain’s past leaders, or would-be leaders, were obsessed with the power. I’m so glad we finally have someone willing to put their pride aside for the well being of the village.”

“Thanks, Elder Rose,” Maya said, feeling a little embarrassed. “Anyway, what is this meeting about? I know my Christmas vacation is officially over but I don’t have any channellings scheduled this week, do I?”

Rose shook her head. “No, you don’t. It’s simply a routine meeting since you’ve had such a long break.”

“Is that a hint I shouldn’t take such long vacations?”

Rose smiled. “No, not at all. I know you want to spend all your spare time with Mr. Wright now that you’re finally back from Khura’in. He must have missed you something terrible.”

Maya couldn’t help blushing. Rose was the only Elder to know about her and Phoenix’s relationship almost right from the beginning, and was nice enough to keep it a secret for years. Even when Maya finally did come clean about it to the others, they still expected her to stay “pure” until marriage; Kurain was still traditional that way. If only they knew.

“Well, I missed him too. It was hard, going two whole years without seeing him in person. But we stuck it out.”

“Love can overcome anything,” Pearl said, nodding sagely.

Rose nodded her agreement. “I’m glad you two have each other, Master Maya.”

She led them past Fey Manor to another building that was used as a sort of City Hall within Kurain. It was smaller than Fey Manor though, with only a few rooms and a small auditorium, if a two foot high stage with fifty or so chairs placed in front of it could be called an auditorium. They made it to the customary meeting room, and Maya steeled herself. She had technically been the Master for years now, but she had been training so often for the past ten or so years that she didn’t really feel like the Master until she returned from Khura’in, and that wasn’t even a whole year ago. She always had to work at acting confident in front of the other Elders, because she wasn’t completely comfortable with her position yet.

She entered behind Rose with Pearl directly behind her. The four other Elders, Mystics Lily, Petunia, Daisy and Poppy were seated beside each other on one side of the table. Rose joined them, and Maya took her customary seat on the other side of them, with Pearl at her right hand.

All of the Mystics looked old. That was the only way Maya could think to describe them. Rose was the oldest, but she still had some vigour. The others were just old, hunched over and frowning, and still stuck in their old ways. They still seemed to have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that Maya was trying to revolutionize Kurain. Even something as simple as getting internet service seemed like a huge ordeal to them.

As the Master, it was her duty to start off the meeting, even though she hadn't been the one to call it. She folded her hands on the table in front of her. “Thank you for meeting me here today, Mystics,” she said, slowly looking at each of them in turn. Lily and Petunia nodded, but Daisy and Poppy hardly seemed to have heard her. She continued. “As you all know I’m returning from my Christmas vacation this week so this is a general meeting of sorts. Have there been any issues you need to discuss?”

Lily nodded excitedly.  She wasn’t as grumpy as the others, and was always happy to speak for the group. “Yes, Master Maya. We wanted to discuss your proposition for changing the line of succession to be named Master to a more inclusive selection.”

Maya’s eyebrows went up. She hadn’t been expecting that, certainly not so soon. Of course, that only made her worry that they’d decided to reject her proposition.

It had been the first thing on her to-do list once she returned from Khura’in — something she planned on doing ever since she was young — and that was to change the way a Master was chosen. There had been enough manipulation and bloodshed in the past because of fighting over the position of Master. As of now, Pearl was set to take over the position even if Maya did have children of her own, but she still wanted this proposition to go through. She didn’t want her or Pearl’s future children to fight over it or be forced into it if they didn’t desire it. And she always thought that Pearl had simply agreed to be the Master after her because it was expected of her. She never complained, but Maya got the feeling that if given the choice, Pearl wouldn’t choose to become Master either. She loved the city, she loved ‘city girl’ things, and Maya couldn’t see her wanting to spend the rest of her life cooped up in Kurain Village.

Eventually she wanted it to be a democratic vote among villagers, where anyone with spiritual power and the motivation to train and strengthen their powers would be able to run for the position. It was more fair that way, and there were plenty of young acolytes in the village now who had spiritual powers, many of whom Maya was starting to train herself. Any of them would make an amazing Master in the future.

She proposed the idea months ago, almost as soon as she returned from Khura’in, but the process was taking forever. As much as she sometimes wanted to, Maya refused to take over complete command like some sort of dictator. The Master could declare anything she wanted and it would be done, but that would only serve to make her more enemies, and she was tired of threats on her life. It was better to put forth ideas and let the Council of Elders deliberate. If they decided against her propositions, she could do them anyway, but giving them the chance to talk it over first usually gave them the impression that they were making the final decision, and thus it was thanks to them that the village would be bettered.

So now the time had finally come to hear their decision. This was something very important to her, so she really hoped they were going to approve it. She didn’t want to use her power as Master to do it anyway if they said no, but this was the one thing she had to do, even if they did say no.

“What did you decide?” she asked, keeping her voice calm, though she was freaking out on the inside.

“Well…”

“Yes?” Maya said, leaning forward in her seat.

“We’ve approved it, Master Maya,” Lily said.

Maya had to resist the urge to pump her fists in the air or get up and dance around the room. Rose was smiling at her, as was Pearl, they both knew how much this meant to her. Poppy and Petunia seemed impassive, but Daisy was scowling. She disliked Maya the most, and the feeling was mutual.

Daisy cleared her throat, not wanting anyone to start celebrating too hard before she got her say. “There is still one condition, Mystic Maya,” she said. Maya hated that she was the only one who refused to call her Master Maya, because she knew for a fact that Daisy still didn’t think she was fit to be Master, and so refused to call her so.

Maya didn’t really care what the condition was. It couldn’t be that terrible, right? She would do pretty much anything in order to have this reform put through. “What would that be?”

“At least one member of the main Fey family has to join the council, which means you will still need to produce us an heir. The gender of the baby will not matter, as only the Master needs spiritual power and now anyone will be able to run for that position. But we still need a Fey on the council, spiritual power or no.”

Maya crossed her arms. She didn’t like that much. It was still forcing one of her children into serving Kurain, and she didn’t like that idea. But it wasn’t like they would need to do much, right? And that would be years away. By then, perhaps she could change their mind, or, she thought more gruesomely, these Elders would be gone by then and there would be a new council of not so elder acolytes. So she nodded her consent. “Alright, fine.”

“I have to ask this, Mystic Maya,” Daisy started, smirking a little. “Has your lawyer asked you to marry him yet?”

Maya looked down at the table. Daisy got some sort of sick satisfaction out of asking Maya this same question at every possible moment. She knew full well Phoenix hadn’t asked Maya to marry him, because if he had, it would be the talk of the village.

“No, not yet,” she said. Maya never wanted to be one of those girlfriends who pestered and nagged their boyfriend about getting married. It wasn’t important if they loved each other. They already lived together, they were already partners and best friends. What did making it official really do?

Daisy’s smirk hadn’t left her face. “If you’re to produce us an heir, you will need to get married first. If your lawyer won’t ask you…” she left the implication open.

Maya almost snorted at that. If they thought for one second that she would leave Phoenix just because he hadn’t asked her to marry him yet, they were delusional. And they actually thought that she was still a virgin, just because she wasn’t married? Well, they could continue to think that for all she cared, she wasn’t about to tell them they were already trying to get pregnant. If she did get pregnant before they got married, she would deal with telling them then. There wouldn’t be anything they could do about it anyway.

Pearl cleared her throat from beside Maya. “But, Mystic Maya and Mr. Nick are already going to have a baby, so she’ll have an heir soon. What does marriage have to do with it?”

All five of the Elders, Rose included, turned to stare at Pearl. Daisy’s face was turning red already, and Maya turned to her cousin.

“Pearly!” Maya raised her voice, for once very upset with the younger girl. Pearl actually shrunk back from her, realizing right away that she said something she shouldn’t have. She was 18 now, she should have known not to blurt something so personal out at a meeting like this, particularly that! She had to know how old fashioned the Elders were, and how disapproving they would be. Maya would have to have a long discussion with Pearl after this, about keeping certain family things private. For now she would have to deal with the scolding she was going to get.

Poppy spluttered across the table from her, making her first sound all night. “W-What did she just say?! You’re with child? You and that lawyer finally—”

“Stop calling him ‘that lawyer’, Mystic Poppy,” Maya snapped at her. “You all know what his name is, and you should know by now that he is going to be the future father of the main family whether you like it or not. All the future Feys of the main branch family from this generation on are going to be descendants of Phoenix Wright,” she spat. “I know that for some reason, many of you here still have a hard time grasping that Nick is a good man, who loves me and who I have loved for years now, and will not stop loving just because I'm not married to him. You’re all just going to have to get used to it.”

“Mystic Maya,” Petunia’s voice was calm but she sounded like she was speaking to a child. “This isn’t about who you choose as your partner, this is about being proper. You cannot have a child out of wedlock. A bastard will never be fit as an heir to the Fey name—”

Maya slammed her hand onto the table, reminiscent to how Phoenix did in court. “Don’t ever say that again, Petunia, or so help me I will banish you on the spot. Don’t test me further on this. I know you’re all old, but it’s 2029. I don’t have to get married first to have kids with the man I love.” She looked at each other them in turn. “I know certain people here are still upset about the fact that Morgan Fey’s multiple plans to have me killed or put in jail didn’t pan out, so I understand the resentment towards Nick, since he was the one who saved me every time. But you’ll all have to either get over it, or give up your positions here on the council.”

That managed to quiet the table. The Elders knew better than to test the Master. They pushed Maya far, but everyone had a breaking point, and they were all scared of what she would do if they made her too angry, especially considering she’d never used her full power against them before.

Maya stood up. “Besides, whether or not my child is a bastard will have no bearing on whether or not they’re worthy of the Fey name, seeing as you’ve all approved my proposition for the democratic vote, so thank you for that. I’m not giving up the title yet, so we still have plenty of time to work out other details.” She paused. “Oh, and by the way, I’m not pregnant. At least not yet.”

With that she turned, her robes fluttering behind her, and strode from the room. She didn’t even wait for Pearl.


January 8th, 2029, 2:39 PM
Kurain Village, Fey Manor

Pearl and Rose found Maya in one of the meditation rooms of the Manor, her face a blank mask as she sat cross-legged on a cushion on the floor. Maya had become very good at meditation, especially if she was in a bad mood, and didn’t even seem to notice them entering. Normally it was forbidden to interrupt a Master who was meditating or channeling, but this was Maya.

Pearl cleared her throat. She was feeling unusually shy after what she’d done. Maya never got mad at her, ever. The closest she ever came to raising her voice towards Pearl had been years ago, Pearl couldn’t even remember the reason why anymore. She knew she was in the wrong. When she was young she was obsessed with her cousin’s ‘romance’, and she was beyond happy when Maya and Phoenix finally did become a couple, but she was eighteen now. She was an adult who should know better than to stick her nose where it didn’t belong. She knew she still had a lot to learn about the world, but that was something that should have been obvious.

Maya was either too deep in her meditation to notice the noise of Pearl clearing her throat, or she was ignoring her. Rose stepped forward and placed a hand on Maya’s shoulder, trying to gently wake her from her trance. Maya’s eyes fluttered open, landing on the old woman in front of her, and then to Pearl.

“How long was I out?” she asked.

Rose tapped her chin. “It’s been a little over an hour. We thought we should give you some time alone.”

Maya started to stand up. “Sorry about the theatrics in the meeting,” she said. “I just get so mad when they think they can dictate my life, or when they look down on me for something so stupid. Nick and I love each other. I don’t care if we never get married, that makes no difference.”

Rose nodded and patted Maya’s shoulder. “I know, Master Maya. It’s alright. I quite enjoy seeing the others get so visibly uncomfortable with your anger.”

Maya smiled at her. “Right. Maybe I should get mad more often.” She looked at Pearl then, and Pearl was relieved to see that she didn’t look angry.

“Mystic Maya, I’m so sorry,” Pearl said, hanging her head. “I shouldn’t have said that, it wasn’t my place. It’s private between you and Mr. Nick and none of my business.”

Maya sighed. “You’re right, Pearly. You shouldn’t have, and it’s not.” She didn’t sound angry, she was simply stating the fact. “I know that you’re happy for Nick and I, you always were our number one supporter, but from now on, it’s private. When it happens, you and Trucy will be the first to know.”

Pearl nodded solemnly. “Alright, Mystic Maya.”

Maya smiled. “Come here, Pearly,” she said, holding out her arms. Pearl stepped into her embrace and wrapped her arms around Maya to return it. Rose was smiling at the two of them when they pulled apart.

“Master Maya, if you don’t mind me asking… How long have you been trying? I remember when your mother had Mia, and then you. I can’t believe you’re already trying to have a child of your own. It seems like just yesterday you were a baby yourself,” Rose said.

“It’s only been a few days,” Maya said. “It’s not going to happen that fast, but I hope it won’t take too long.”

Rose waved a hand. “We Feys have always been a fertile bunch. I’m sure it’ll take no time at all!”

Maya giggled behind her hand and Pearl was glad the mood had lifted again. “Let’s go get something to eat, Pearly,” Maya said. “I’m starving.”

“Sure! Do you want to join us, Mystic Rose?” Pearl asked.

Rose shook her head. “I’ll head home now. I’ll make something for myself there.”

“Alright,” Maya shrugged. “Let’s see if the cook will make us some burgers, Pearly.”

Pearl followed Maya out of the room, but they didn’t get very far before a young acolyte was running down the hall after them. “Master Maya!”

Maya turned. “Yes?”

“You have a phone call,” the girl said, holding out the landline phone.

“Hm? Who is it?”

“It’s Mr. Wright. He said it was important, and you weren’t answering your cell phone.”

Maya took the phone from her. She had turned her cell phone off so she wasn’t interrupted during her meditation and had yet to turn it back on. “Hey Nick.”

“Maya! Sorry for calling the landline, you weren’t answering your phone or any of my texts.”

“Sorry, I was in a meeting and then did some meditating, so it was off. What’s wrong? Is everything okay?”

She heard him take a breath. “Not really. Trucy and Apollo are fine. It’s Thalassa.”

She furrowed her eyebrows. “What happened?”

“She was shot, about an hour ago. She’s in surgery right now.”

Maya’s hand flew to her mouth. “Oh no. How did that happen?”

“We’re not sure yet. Apollo found her like that when he went to visit her this morning. No one reported anything. The police are still investigating it. I just wanted to let you know, in case you got back to the house and no one was home.”

“Of course. Can I do anything to help?”

Phoenix sighed. “I don’t think there’s much you can do,” he said. “It’s in the doctor’s hands for now.”

Maya heard some mumbling in the background, then another voice came through the line. “M-Maya?”

“Trucy… I’m so sorry…”

“Thank you… Are you going to come home soon?”

“Yes, Pearly and I will be home soon. We’ll come to the hospital right away, okay?”

“Okay,” she sniffed and Maya could hear her shaky breath. “I’d really like you to come visit. I wanted you and Thalassa to meet. My two moms… Now this might be the only chance you get.” She started to cry again, and must have given the phone back to Phoenix, because he spoke again.

“Maya?”

“I’m still here, Nick, and I’m coming back right now.”

“Alright. I’ll see you soon.”

When Maya hung up, Pearl was staring at her fearfully. "What happened?"

"Thalassa. She was shot this morning before Apollo went to see her. He found her and she's in surgery right now."

"Oh no," Pearl said softly. "Poor Trucy. Poor Mr. Apollo..."

"We're heading back into the city," Maya said, turning to Rose. “Family emergency.”

Rose nodded. “Go. I’ll let the others know. Take any time you need, I can push back any channellings you have scheduled within the next few weeks if need be.”

“Thank you, Rose. Please make sure they don’t abandon the plans for the new Master selection, either.”

“I will personally be working on that, so I’ll be sure to get it done.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you,” Maya said, giving her a quick hug and then turning towards Pearl. “Let’s go Pearly. Trucy and Apollo need us.” She took her by the hand and the two of them rushed out the door.


January 8th, 2029, 5:15 PM
Hospital Waiting Room

Maya and Pearl had hailed a taxi to drive them back to the city so they wouldn't have to worry about bus or train delays. When they entered the hospital and headed to the waiting room, they found Phoenix and Trucy sitting side by side on the cold metal chairs. Trucy was leaning against him, her eyes closed as she tried to rest a bit. Across the room, Apollo was standing beside Klavier Gavin of all people, talking to him in a hushed voice. He was dressed in black sweats and a t-shirt, so casual compared to the suit Maya was always used to seeing him in.

Trucy stirred and lifted her head from Phoenix’s shoulder. As soon as she laid eyes on Maya, they filled with tears. Maya rushed to her side and sat down in the empty chair beside her. Trucy threw her arms around her and started to cry again while Maya patted her head and looked up at Phoenix. “How long has she been in surgery?”

“A few hours. They needed to remove the bullet and repair any damage to her internal organs. It shouldn’t be much longer.”

She nodded and began rubbing Trucy’s back. “It’ll be okay, Trucy. I won’t be going back to Kurain until we know for sure Thalassa will be alright, okay?”

Trucy nodded, not lifting her face from Maya’s bosom. Maya sat back in her chair and continued petting her hair lightly, comforting her as best she could. Across the room, Pearl was giving Apollo a quick hug and telling him that if there was anything she could do or anything he needed, just to let her know. He smiled and thanked her sincerely. Klavier Gavin smiled at her too, which of course made Pearl blush to the roots of her hair. Maya had never met him in person but she had seen him on TV often and was well aware of his part in Phoenix’s disbarment, though she knew Phoenix had forgiven him for that a long time ago, so she had nothing against him.

Pearl turned away from them and Maya watched Apollo look at Klavier again. The taller man put a hand on Apollo’s shoulder and squeezed, giving him a reassuring smile. Apollo looked at the floor and shifted a bit so he was standing just a bit closer to Klavier, and suddenly Maya had a much better idea of why Pearl was so sure she had no chance with Apollo. Interesting. She wondered if Phoenix had any clue. Probably not, he was so oblivious to things like that.

When Pearl made it back over to them, she sat down and threw her arms around both Maya and Trucy. She didn’t say anything, but Trucy did look up enough to give her a small smile in thanks. As Maya sat there with her arms wrapped around the two girls, she couldn’t help but feel bad about how jealous she’d been of Thalassa. Phoenix was right. Trucy wasn’t replacing her, she probably hadn’t known how much Maya was looking forward to going shopping with her, and she couldn’t help if she was excited that her mom was alive. Of course she’d be excited, who wouldn’t be?

But now this had happened, and Thalassa probably wouldn’t be going shopping anytime soon.

Chapter Text

January 8th, 2029, 6:00 PM
Hospital Waiting Room

When the doctor finally entered the waiting room, he looked a little surprised at the large group of people that had gathered there, and all of them were immediately at attention when they saw him.

Apollo was the first to speak. “So? How did everything go?”

The doctor looked around at the group. “She’s through the worst of it. She’ll need a while to recover but she’ll live.”

There was a collective sigh of relief, and Trucy sniffled gratefully against Maya’s chest. “Can we see her?” she asked quietly.

The doctor nodded. “She’s in recovery so feel free to visit her. There’s quite a few of you though so you should probably keep it to groups of three or four for now.”

“Trucy and Apollo, do you two want to go in first?” Phoenix asked.

Trucy grabbed the sleeve of his jacket. “Will you come too, Daddy?”

“Sure, Truce.” He stood up. “Let’s go.” Trucy got up to follow him, and the doctor turned around to lead them from the room.

“Wait, pal! Wait!”

Phoenix stopped and turned at the familiar voice. Detective Gumshoe rushed into the waiting room behind them, stopping to rest his hands on his knees and catch his breath. Phoenix was glad to see him. “Detective, did you find the person who did this?”

“Afraid not, pal,” Gumshoe said between breaths. “But we found the place he was staying. After we pulled the security tapes from the Gatewater Hotel we found he was staying a room there too, a few floors down from the victim.” Gumshoe glanced at Trucy and Apollo quickly, but Phoenix got the point, and turned to the two of them.

“Apollo, you and Trucy go ahead. Truce, you’ll be fine with Apollo, right?”

She nodded meekly and grabbed Apollo’s hand. “Sure. Come on, Polly.” They followed the doctor from the room quickly.

When they were gone, Phoenix turned back to Gumshoe. “What did you find in the room?”

Gumshoe scratched the back of his head. “This guy had some pretty weird stuff. He was obviously a stalker of some sort. He had… pictures.”

“What sort of pictures?”

Now Gumshoe was glancing at Pearl, but Phoenix urged him on. “She was investigating crime scenes with me when she was a kid, Gumshoe. Pearl, are you okay to hear this?”

She nodded. “Yes, Mr. Nick. It’s fine.”

Klavier had made his way over too, curious to hear about what they’d found. Gumshoe continued. “He had multiple photos of Ms. Gramarye in various states of undress. They definitely look like they were taken from hidden cameras. We have a team going back through her hotel room now to look for them. He also had videos of the same thing, and more normal videos of her performances, souvenirs from her concerts.” He made a face. “He even had a baggy of hair that was supposedly hers, but I’m more inclined to believe he was probably duped when he made that purchase.”

“Mein Gott,” Klavier muttered. “Why would he try to kill her if he was such a big fan?”

“We went through his computer and found a bunch of forum posts where he was explaining to other fans there that he’d hand written her letters to tell her how much he loved her, and she never replied. Can’t really blame her. Who knows what sort of creepy things were written in those letters,” Gumshoe explained.

Klavier nodded thoughtfully. “Ja, celebrities who receive a lot of fan mail obviously can’t answer it all themselves. She probably had people to do that for her, and any mail like that would have been tossed right away. These crazy types don’t realize that though. I doubt the mail even made it to her.”

“Detective,” Phoenix interrupted. “Did you find anything that will help you figure out where this guy went? Does he live around here? An apartment, a house, any addresses or anything?”

Gumshoe shook his head glumly. “No. He was smart that way, unfortunately. There was nothing in his hotel room to show where he may have actually come from. For all we know, he could have followed her here from another country.”

Phoenix sat down heavily beside Maya, who took his hand and squeezed gently. “What do we do if you can’t find him?”

“The best thing would be for her to leave the country again,” Klavier said. “A private flight, in secret. Preferably not back to Borginia. It’ll have to be somewhere else where she’s not well known, and she won’t be able to perform again until we find him.”

“Not that she’ll be performing any time soon anyway,” Phoenix said. He sighed and ran a hand over his face. “Apollo and Trucy just got her back. Now she's going to have to go back into hiding.”

“I’m sorry, pal. I wish I had better news. We’ll keep searching, but Mr. Gavin is right. If we haven’t found this guy by the time she’s recovered, she should go somewhere safer. For now, we’ll post some officers outside her hospital room.”

“Thanks, Detective.”

“No problem, pal. Let me know if you need anything. We’ll come check with Ms. Gramarye tomorrow after she’s rested but if she has any information before we come, make sure you call me.”

“Of course.”

Gumshoe nodded and gave Maya and Pearl a little wave before leaving.

Phoenix put his face in his hands when Gumshoe was gone. “Why does stuff like this always happen. I don’t want to have to tell Trucy that her mom is going away again for who knows how long.”

Maya wrapped an arm around him. “They’ll find him, Nick. Hey, I bet if we tell Mr. Edgeworth he’ll pull some strings just so he can be the prosecutor on the case. Then they’ll be sure to get a guilty verdict.”

Phoenix smiled. “That would be nice.”


Inside the hospital room, Trucy and Apollo approached Thalassa’s bedside hesitantly. There were still all sorts of wires and medical equipment hooked up to her, with a heart monitor beeping beside the bed, but she at least looked peaceful as she slept.

Apollo let Trucy take the chair beside the bed, and she reached for Thalassa’s hand, gently taking it in her own. Thalassa stirred when she felt the movement, and her eyes fluttered open, immediately landing on Trucy and Apollo. She managed a small smile at seeing her two children.

“Mom,” Trucy said, a tear already slipping down her cheek. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”

Thalassa squeezed her hand as hard as she could, which wasn’t very hard in her current state. Her throat was dry and sore, but she tried to speak anyway. “I’m so happy you two are here,” she rasped.

Apollo went to a tray sitting not too far away and poured a cup of water for her. When he offered it she drank it gratefully and cleared her throat. “I’m glad you’re the first ones I get to see after all this,” she said, her voice more clear. “I was… shot, is that right?”

Apollo nodded. “Yes. I found you when I came to see you today, in your hotel room.”

Thalassa started tearing up, and she reached for his hand. “So it’s thanks to you that I’m even alive, Apollo. Thank you.”

He held her hand between his, trying not to cry anymore himself. “I’m so sorry,” he said, his voice cracking. “I shouldn’t have gotten so angry last night. I shouldn’t have left. If I had stayed and talked with you this might not have happened-”

“Shush,” Thalassa scolded. “Don’t ever say that, Apollo. This isn’t your fault.” He nodded, tears slipping down his cheeks now. She continued. “I know I hurt you. Both of you. And I’m sorry for that. I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. And Apollo, you deserve to know why I didn’t try to find you after the fire that killed Jove… I don’t know if it’s a good enough reason, but at the time it felt like it was.”

“You don’t need to tell me now, you should just rest,” Apollo said.

Thalassa shook her head. “No. No more putting it off.” She let go of Trucy’s hand to take another sip of her water, then spoke again. “Listen, Apollo. My father Magnifi was not a very nice man. He never approved of my marriage to your father. When we found out I was pregnant with you, I left Troupe Gramarye and then left the country with Jove. I never told my father about you. He was a rather violent, abusive man and I was scared for my safety, Jove’s safety, and eventually your safety. If he had learned I was pregnant, I may have had an unfortunate accident and could have lost you… and I wouldn’t let that happen. Jove and I travelled around, he was a performer as you know and I sometimes performed with him. Then the fire in Khura’in happened.”

She took a deep breath, her eyes beginning to swim with tears. “I wasn’t there that night, and Jove protected you with his life. I heard about his death in the news, but I never heard about any children. I thought you must still be alive, but without Jove I had no money to my name, and nowhere to stay. We were performers but we made money nightly, we had no savings, and I was only 18. I couldn’t perform and take care of a child, so I had no choice but to go back to my father.

I couldn’t bring you, Apollo. If I had come back with a baby, I was so scared something would happen to you. Instead, I married Zak, Trucy’s biological father. It wasn’t an arranged marriage but it might as well have been. I knew all along that he was chosen by my father, so when he asked me to marry him I said yes. He had talent we could add to the Gramarye name, so my father approved.” She squeezed Trucy’s hand. “I’m sorry you have to hear this, Trucy. Your father was good to us. He never once hurt us, and he loved you. But I never felt as strongly for him as I did Jove.”

Trucy sniffed and nodded. She understood. Sometimes, love wasn’t perfect.

“Apollo, I am so sorry. If I could live my life again I would have stayed in Khura’in. I would have found you and stayed and made it work somehow. You have no idea how much I missed you, how many nights I cried myself to sleep, trying to tell myself it was the right thing to do. Eventually, I did start planning to go back, to look for you in Khura’in’s foster programs and orphanages. But then I had my accident and I lost my memory of both of you. My father sent me away to Borginia, to hide the incident from the press and protect the Gramarye name, plus I was no good to him if I couldn’t perform anymore. And I believe you two know the rest. Apollo, all I can do now is ask for your forgiveness. I understand if you need more time, but I am truly sorry.”

Apollo took a deep breath. It was heavy stuff, but learning the whole story did make him feel slightly better. He met her eyes. “I do forgive you. Thank you for telling me everything. I understand why you did what you did. You thought you were doing what was best for me. I can’t blame you for that.”

She smiled gratefully at him. “Thank you. Thank you, both of you. I don’t deserve either of you.” She gestured for each of them to come in closer, and she wrapped an arm around each of them. “I love you both, I hope you know that. I love you more than anything in the world.”

“I love you too, mom,” Trucy said. Her voice was still shaking with her emotions, but she sounded decidedly more happy now.

“I love you too,” Apollo said. “Mom.” He let out a short laugh. “I have to get used to that.”

There was a soft knock on the door, and Apollo and Trucy both pulled back to look towards it.

“Sorry to interrupt the family reunion,” Phoenix said, stepping into the room. Maya and Pearl were both close behind him, both of them peeking shyly into the room from the doorway. “I know the doctor said to keep it to groups of four, but do you mind if Maya and Pearl come in?”

Thalassa shook her head. “No. I would love to meet them both.”

At her welcome, Maya and Pearl stepped into the room and came forward. Phoenix wrapped one arm around Maya’s waist and the other around Pearl’s shoulders. “This is Maya Fey, spirit medium, Master of the Kurain Channeling Technique and Kurain Village, my former assistant, as well as my lovely girlfriend,” he said. Maya grinned at him and slipped out of his grasp to shake hands with Thalassa. “Maya, this is Thalassa Gramarye, otherwise known as Lamiroir, otherwise known as Trucy and Apollo’s biological mother.”

Thalassa smiled warmly at her. “It’s so nice to finally meet you, Miss Fey. I’ve heard so much about you from Mr. Wright and Trucy. They both truly love you.”

Maya couldn’t help the slight blush that rose to her cheeks. “Aw, it’s great to meet you, too. Trucy’s told me all about you, even before she knew you were her mother. And please, call me Maya.”

Thalassa nodded and looked over at Pearl. “And you must be Pearl Fey, the prodigy spirit medium Mr. Wright has also told me all about?”

Pearl stepped forward shyly and nodded. “Yes. It’s nice to meet you Ms. Gramarye.”

“Oh, you may call me Thalassa, please. You’ve been like a sister to Trucy all these years, haven’t you?”

Pearl nodded. “We’ve known each other since I was nine. We practically grew up together after Mr. Nick adopted Trucy.”

Trucy smiled at her. “Pearl’s been my best friend since I met her.”

“I’m so glad to hear it.”

Phoenix didn’t want to, but now that introductions were out of the way, he had to get down to business. “Thalassa, I’m sorry to start right into the serious stuff, but do you remember anything about the man who shot you?”

She furrowed her eyebrows. “I could possibly give the police enough to go on for a facial sketch. He didn’t try hiding his face at all. I’m assuming he thought the shot would kill me.” She leaned her head back on her pillow. “Do you know why he did it?”

“He was a stalker. He was staying at the same hotel as you and the detectives found some… incriminating evidence there, but nothing to tell them where he may have gone. I’m sorry to say they still haven’t found him.”

Thalassa sighed. “I see.”

“What will we do if they don’t find him, Daddy?” Trucy spoke up, fear showing in her big eyes.

Thalassa looked at Phoenix knowingly. She already realized the only way to be sure she was safe. “It’d be best if I left the country again, Trucy. Go somewhere where no one ones knows me.”

Trucy clutched her hand. “No! We just got you back!”

“I’m sorry, Truce,” Phoenix said. “It’s the best way to make sure she’s kept safe.”

Apollo was strangely quiet during the conversation, until he cleared his throat lightly. “Why doesn’t she come back to Khura’in with me? Lamiroir is famous in Europe and North America mostly. No one will recognize her so far into East Asia. No one will even think of her going somewhere so out of the way that they’d bother to look there, and so far I don’t think the media has gotten wind of Lamiroir’s long lost children. No one will find her through me if we manage to keep that a secret until we get to Khura’in.”

“That may work, Apollo,” Phoenix said.

Trucy pouted. “Can I go to Khura’in too, Daddy?”

Phoenix patted her head. “I’m afraid not, kiddo. You’ll be graduating soon and we can’t take you out of school before then.” Trucy was about to protest, but he held up a hand. “But you’ll be eighteen in a few months. After you graduate, if you want to take some time away from your performances and use some of your savings, you can go to Khura’in for the summer.”

“That’s so far away,” she groaned.

Thalassa smiled at them. “You should listen to your father, Trucy. He’s right after all. I want you to do your best in life, so please, stay here and at least graduate high school first. I’ll be safe in Khura’in and I’ll be waiting for you. And if they find this stalker before then, I’ll come visit you first, okay?”

Trucy nodded, still pouting slightly. “Okay, fine.”

“We should let you rest for now, Thalassa. There are police officers stationed outside your room,” Phoenix said.

Thalassa yawned. She did feel tired again. She supposed it was the drugs in her system still. “Thank you, Mr. Wright.”

He nodded and filed out of the room with Trucy and Pearl behind him. Apollo was next, but before Maya could leave, Thalassa called her back. Maya let Phoenix know she’d be right out, and shut the door again.

“What is it, Thalassa? Did you need more water?”

She shook her head. “No, that’s not it. I wanted to thank you.”

Maya raised her eyebrows. “Thank me for what?”

“For taking care of Trucy all these years. I may not know you that well yet but I can tell you’re a good person, and the way Mr. Wright talks about you,” she laughed lightly. “He loves you so much, and so does Trucy. I’m so grateful she had a woman like you to look up to while growing up. Mr. Wright did a fine job raising her, but she needed a mother figure too. That was you.”

Maya swallowed the lump in her throat. “It was nothing, really. I just did what anyone would have. I love Trucy. I’ve loved Trucy even before Nick and I got together. She’s always been like a daughter to me.”

“I’m glad. Please, when I’ve recovered and I’m gone to Khura’in, continue looking out for her.”

“Of course. I always will.”

Thalassa smiled. “I do believe I need a nap now.”

“Alright. I’ll let you get some sleep,” Maya said. She turned back around and headed for the door.


When Apollo made it back to the waiting room, Klavier was still sitting around, waiting. Apollo raised an eyebrow at him when he approached. “You could’ve come in to see her you know.”

“Oh, I didn’t want to intrude. This is a family matter after all.”

“But you’re her friend too. You should go in and say hi later when she’s awake again.”

“Sure, Herr Forehead. I’ll make sure I buy her some flowers first. She’s okay then?”

Apollo nodded and sat down heavily beside him. “Yeah, she’s okay. She’ll be in recovery for a bit, but she’ll live.”

“Did you make up?”

Apollo smiled. “Yeah, we did. She explained everything, and believe me, it’s a long story. I forgave her.”

“That’s good to hear. I’m glad everything is working out.”

“Mhm. Except for one little thing. The stalker.”

Klavier hummed. “Ja, that is a problem. Have you decided where she’ll go once she’s recovered?”

Apollo nodded. “Yes, but I don’t want to talk about it here. I’m a little paranoid right now.”

“Understandable.”

Apollo turned to him. “Hey, thanks for everything. For last night, for the clothes, and just for being here. I’m sure you have a busy life, so thanks.”

Klavier shrugged. “It was nothing, Herr Forehead.”

“Hey Apollo? We’re all going to head home now,” Phoenix called from down the hall. Apollo looked up at his voice. “Are you going to come? There are police stationed here and the hospital staff know not to let anyone in that isn’t part of our group. She’ll be safe, and we’ve all had a long day.”

Apollo scratched the back of his neck. “Maybe later, Mr. Wright. I’m going to stay here a bit longer to keep watch. Just in case, you know?”

“Alright. Don’t work yourself too hard.”

Trucy ran down the hall quickly to grab him in a hug. “Be careful, Polly. Come home and rest some later, okay?”

“I will, Trucy.” He watched her leave again, and waved at Maya and Pearl as they followed Phoenix out of the hospital.

“I’ll stay here with you, Herr Forehead,” Klavier said.

“Are you sure? You don’t have to, if you’re busy.”

“I have nothing better to do. Besides, I like your company.”

Apollo turned his head. “Alright. I could use the company, Prosecutor Gavin."


January 8th, 2029, 8:30 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

Maya groaned as she flopped onto the couch in the living room. “Well, today was… eventful.”

“Tell me about it,” Phoenix said as he sat down beside her. “How was your meeting with the Elders earlier? Did that at least go well?”

She scooted over so she could lean against him. “Um, it was okay.”

“Just okay?”

She nodded. “Yeaaah. So you know how the Elders in Kurain don’t like you?”

He snorted. “Yeah, they never have.”

“Well they like you even less after today.”

He dropped his head onto the back of the couch. “Why? What did you tell them this time?”

“Oh, just that you’re the man who corrupted my pure little heart and,” she gasped, “took my virginity before marriage. Shame, shame.”

He spluttered. “W-what? Why would you tell them that? Besides, that was forever ago,” he mused.

“Don’t sound so proud, Nick,” she teased. “Pearly blurted out in front of all of them that we’re trying to get pregnant. They were slightly upset because we’re not married yet.”

“So? You don’t have to be married to have a kid.”

“I know! That’s what I said! Besides, we love each other, so we don’t have to get married. I mean, it’s not that important."

He shifted uncomfortably. “Why are they so against you getting pregnant then?”

She shrugged. “They’re traditional, you know that. Mystic Petunia even had the nerve to tell me that a bastard wouldn’t be fit to run Kurain.” She clenched her fists. “That mean old… witch. I told her that if she ever said that again, I’d banish her.”

“You can do that?”

“I don’t know. I just blurted it out, but she looked scared! So it must be true, or at least they seem to think it is.”

He laughed and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “You know I love when you act all in charge, right?"

She smirked. “I know you do. I do have some good news though.”

“What is it?”

“You know how I put forth the idea that Kurain drop the matrilineal succession of the Master title?”

“Mhm, you only talk about it all the time.”

“They approved it!”

“Really?!” He hugged her closer to him. “Maya, that’s great. I know how much it meant to you.”

She nodded. “Now we don’t have to worry. Our kids, and Pearly’s if she has any, won’t be forced into the position like I was. Even Pearly may not have to be Master after me if she doesn’t want to be. I’m so glad.”

He kissed the top of her head. “I’m happy for you, Maya. You’re doing a great job as the Master so far, you know that?”

“Thanks Nick. I try.”

“By the way, what did Thalassa want to talk to you about? If you don’t mind me asking.”

Maya smiled. “She thanked me for taking care of Trucy while she wasn’t around. I mean, I wasn’t even around that often back when you were disbarred, so I don’t feel like I deserve her thanks, but it was nice. I feel so silly for how jealous I was…”

“I told you Trucy wasn’t going to replace you.” He sighed. “Once Thalassa goes to Khura’in with Apollo, Trucy’s going to need you more than ever. You’ll really have to be there for her.”

“I know.” She wrapped an arm around him and squeezed. “I will be.”


January 21st, 2029, 8:30 AM
Fey-Wright Residence

When Thalassa entered the home where her two children were currently living, she had to smile. It was exactly what she’d expect a home with a family to look like and she found herself once again grateful beyond words that Apollo and Trucy had people like Maya and Phoenix to look after them.

Her recovery had been long, but she’d finally been allowed to leave the hospital and was cleared to fly. They could waste no time, and two tickets to Khura’in were booked almost right away. One for her, and one for Apollo. They were to leave today. Thanks to some strings pulled and favours called in by Phoenix, they were provided a private jet by the Chief Prosecutor himself. It would only make a few stops to refuel, and no one would know who or what was on the flight.

Maya led her into the kitchen where she gestured for her to sit at the island where Phoenix and Pearl were already sitting, before sitting down herself. “I like your new haircut,” she commented.

Thalassa ran a hand through her much shorter hair. It fell to about chin length now. “Thank you. It’s hard to get used to but it makes maintaining it easier.”

“And it makes you less recognizable, right?” Phoenix said.

Thalassa nodded. “Yes. Strangely, my old habit of dressing with a hood and face covering is now more recognizable than my actual face, so I’m free to walk around without a disguise, aside from my hair and my bracelet,” she said, wrapping her fingers around her wrist where her missing bangle usually was. “Once I’m in Khura’in, my police escort will no longer be needed. Apollo has assured me he knows some former rebels that can take up my protection if needed.”

Phoenix smiled. “Don’t let Datz poke too much fun at you. He’s… an interesting person.”

“Apollo has already warned me about him.”

“Did I hear my name?” Apollo called, before coming into the room, dragging a heavy suitcase behind him. Trucy followed him into the room.

“We were talking about Datz.”

Apollo rolled his eyes. “He’s a character. But you’ll be fine, mom. He’s a good guy.” There was a few seconds of silence in the room. Apollo cleared his throat. “Are you ready to go? Klavier is waiting with the car, tinted windows and all. He’s going to drive us to the airport.”

“Yes, I’m ready. But first…” she bent down to unzip her luggage and pulled out something wrapped in white paper. She held it out to Trucy. “Here, Trucy. This is for you.”

Trucy took it from her and gently unwrapped it. It was her bracelet, the one identical to Apollo’s. “Mom… I can’t take this, it’s yours!”

Thalassa shook her head. “I can’t take it with me, so I want you to have it. You and Apollo will both have one. Wear it, use your ability with it, or let it sit on your dresser with the rest of your jewelry if you want. Just take care of it.”

Trucy held it to her chest. “Thank you. I will.” She slipped it onto her left wrist, and gasped as it immediately tightened to her wrist size. “Whoa. This feels weird. I never knew what it was like.”

“Great, now I’ll have an even harder time lying to her,” Phoenix said.

Trucy put her hands on her hips. “You shouldn’t lie to me anyway, Daddy!”

Thalassa laughed. “Thank you all. We should go now, Apollo.” She hugged everyone in turn, lingering longest on Trucy. “I’ll miss you, but remember, you’ll get to see me as soon as you graduate.”

Trucy nodded, willing herself not to cry. “I know. I’ll work extra hard to make sure I graduate with perfect grades.”

Thalassa patted her hair. “Good.” She turned to Maya and Phoenix next. “And thank you both for everything. I’ll never be able to repay you.”

Phoenix waved a hand. “You don’t owe us anything. Just stay safe.”

“Right. Let’s go Apollo.”

Apollo made his rounds of hugs and goodbyes as well. When he got to Pearl, she latched onto him and Maya smiled sadly as Pearl’s eyes filled with tears. “I’ll miss you, Mr. Apollo,” she said. “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you while you’re in Khura’in. I’ll send you care packages!”

Apollo patted her on the back and smiled. “Thanks Pearl, I will, and I’d appreciate that. Maybe you can come visit with Trucy in the summer.”

Pearl beamed at that. “I’d love to.”

With one more wave to the group, Apollo and Thalassa both headed out the doors to the waiting car, where Klavier was set to drive them to the airport.

Apollo assisted Thalassa with her luggage and held the back door open for her, then climbed into the passenger’s seat beside Klavier. Two of Thalassa’s police escort were also in the back seat with her, making the car a bit cramped, but it was worth it for the extra protection before they got on the plane.

“Ready to go, Herr Forehead?” Klavier asked.

Apollo nodded. “Yeah. Let’s go.”


When they made it to the airport they pulled up outside a smaller door normally reserved for celebrities. It seemed appropriate, travelling with two celebrities, but Apollo was a little worried it would draw more attention than using the normal doors. Thalassa and her two police escorts were whisked inside quickly by the airport staff alerted about their arrival, and Apollo made to get out as well.

Klavier’s hand closed around his bicep, and he stopped. “What’s wrong, Klavier?”

Apollo never would have thought he’d see Klavier look awkward, but he certainly did now. And if he wasn’t just seeing things, he could have sworn there was a slight blush on his cheeks. “You still have my number, right Herr Forehead?” he asked.

Apollo nodded. “Yeah, of course.”

“Right. Make sure to keep me up to date then, okay?”

Apollo smiled. “I will. Hey, you’re rich, right? Come visit me sometime. A plane ticket can’t be too expensive for you.”

There was that perfect white smile he was so used to. “Sure, Herr Forehead. If you really want me to, I mean. I’ll try to get up that way next time I’m not too busy with work.”

“Great. I guess… I’ll see you then.”

“Mhm. Have a good flight, Herr Forehead.”

“Thanks. Bye for now, Prosecutor Gavin.”

He pulled his arm from Klavier’s grip and stepped out of the car. He grabbed his own luggage from the trunk and followed the airport security person who was waiting for him into the building where they could get ready to board their flight. He was excited to go back to Khura’in. Datz and Nahyuta had been calling him every other day it seemed, asking when he was coming back. They were a little more understanding when they found out what happened, but by the end of the month they were back to nagging, constantly asking when Thalassa would be well enough to fly.

The last time Apollo spoke to Nahyuta on the phone to tell him he was finally making his way back, he could hear Datz’s hooting and hollering in the background. “It’s about time! We need our lawyer back! These newbies got nothing on Apollo Justice!”

Nahyuta had sighed at that. “Just, please, hurry up, Apollo. I don’t know how much more of Datz I can handle on my own.”

It was good to know he was missed.

Chapter Text

March 1st, 2029, 1:24 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

“Mr. Nick, you’re going to get fat if you just sit around eating chips all day.”

Phoenix turned to find Pearl standing in the doorway, her hands on her hips. His own hand was halfway into a bag of potato chips. “But I don’t have any clients right now,” he said.

“I don’t think Mystic Maya wants a fat boyfriend,” Pearl stated. “She likes your muscles. She told me.”

He couldn’t help blushing a little. Maya really told Pearl things like that? She really needed some female friends who were more her own age. “Maya loves me no matter what, Pearls,” he said, pulling one chip out of the bag to pop it into his mouth. “This is uh, a cheat day?”

“And so was yesterday, and the day before that,” she said. "When was the last time you went to the gym?"

He blinked. “Is something wrong? You’re not usually so blunt.”

She sighed and came around the couch to sit down beside him. They were the only two in the house, with Maya in Kurain for a channeling and Trucy at school. It was Pearl’s day off from training. “Mr. Nick, do you miss Mr. Apollo?”

He sat up and rolled up the bag of chips to throw them onto the coffee table. “Ah, so that’s what this is about.”

She blushed, but didn’t bother denying anything. “You knew I liked him, right? You did tease me a bit when he was here…”

“Yeah, I figured.”

“I never got to talk to you about it when he was here and once he left, I thought it would get easier so I didn’t say anything, but it didn’t. Mystic Maya said I should talk to you because you probably had a lot of crushes on girls in school who didn’t like you back.”

He frowned. “She said that, did she?”

“Mhm!”

He sighed. “Well, I guess it’s true. But I’ll have you know I did have a few girlfriends in high school.”

Pearl covered her mouth with her hand. “You mean Mystic Maya wasn’t your first special someone?”

He smiled. “I wouldn’t call any of those girls in high school my special someone,” he said. “I didn’t love them the way I love Maya…” He trailed off, and when he looked over at Pearl she was smiling knowingly at him. He cleared his throat. “Anyway, what did you want to talk about?”

“Well, how do you get over someone you have such a big crush on who doesn’t like you back? Apollo was the first boy I’ve ever liked that much, besides celebrities. Maybe that’s weird, because I’m already 18, but,” she shrugged, “I’ve never really felt this way about anyone. And I just can’t stop thinking about him now!”

Phoenix wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Ah, Pearls. I’m sorry, there really isn’t a way to get over someone. Just… time, I guess. It does get easier eventually.” He took a breath. “You know about what happened with Iris and Dahlia, right?”

She nodded. “Sort of. I only remember what I was told after the whole case though. I was pretty little, but I remember.”

“It was a complicated situation, and I was naïve and thought I was in love. Even after it was proven without a doubt that Dahlia tried to kill me, and frame me for murder, I still had feelings for her. I still tried to deny it, I kept telling myself that she wouldn’t do something like that, that the girl in court wasn’t really her. I realize now that part of the reason I felt that way was because it was really Iris I spent all that time with, but that doesn’t change the fact that all that time I thought it was Dahlia.”

“But she tried to kill you! How could you still like her after that?”

“That’s what’s crazy. When you like someone that much you don’t want to let them go, even if they do something terrible to you, and Apollo was nothing if not the perfect gentleman around you, Pearls, so of course it’s going to be harder for you to get over him. But you will eventually, trust me.”

She huffed. “Can’t you use the magatama to erase my feelings for him or something?”

He laughed at that. “Hey, I only know how to break Psyche-Locks. If this thing has power like that, you’re gonna have to tell me how to use it. You’re the expert.”

She sighed. “Maybe I can find something in the old library in Kurain.”

He squeezed her shoulders. “Don’t bother. Just give it time, like I said.”

“Alright.” She leaned forward and reached out for the bag of chips, unrolling it and taking a handful for herself.

“Those are mine,” Phoenix pouted.

She giggled. “You have to share…” She popped one into her mouth and chewed. “Hey, Mr. Nick, can I ask you something else?” she said through her mouthful. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. I probably shouldn’t even ask but…”

“What is it?”

She played with her magatama while she thought of how to word it. “Mystic Maya told you about that meeting with the Elders after New Year's, right?”

“Yeah, she did.”

“Do you… Do you think you and Mystic Maya will ever get married?”

He figured Pearl would ask eventually, he should have been prepared for it. Trucy never did anymore, because the one time she did ask, he knew he’d tensed up at the question. She could see it, like she always did, and backtracked and told him to forget it. She hadn’t asked since. But Pearl wasn’t as perceptive, she couldn’t see how uncomfortable the question made him.

She was still talking. “If you and Mystic Maya get married, me and you will really be related! Like a real family! We’d be… cousins-in-law?” She looked at him. “Is that even a thing?”

He shrugged. “I think so. To answer your question… I do want to marry Maya someday.”

Someday?”

“Mm. Someday.”

“Okay. You don’t need to tell me anymore. But just in case you’re worried, Mystic Maya does want to get married. She pretends like it’s not a big deal to her, but it is. She wouldn’t say no. She… thought you might ask her on Valentine’s Day, but you didn’t.”

He’d been wondering that himself after they went out that night. She seemed strangely excited or expectant, but it hadn’t even been on his mind. He enjoyed the date and when they got home they made love like they seemed to be doing constantly in hopes that she would get pregnant, and she seemed to enjoy it, but there was just something about the way she was acting that night that made him wonder. The next day she seemed fine, so he put it out of his mind.

“Oh.” He wasn’t sure what else to say. “Thanks, Pearls. I’m... um… glad you told me.”

She nodded and got up, stretching up on her tip toes. “Well, I’m gonna go meditate for a bit. See if that takes my mind off Mr. Apollo.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks, Mr. Nick.”

“Sure thing.”

He watched her walk away and listened to the sound of her footsteps heading up the stairs to her room. He sunk back into the couch, relieved that she was gone. It wasn’t that he was scared Maya would say no if he asked her. He knew she would say yes, and that was the problem. For some reason, the idea of marriage made him nervous.

It wasn’t crippling anxiety or terror at the thought, but he also knew it wasn’t the normal nerves that come with asking such an important question. And the weird thing was, he had no issues or fears when it came to their relationship as it was. They had a loving, long term relationship and he never found himself fearing that anything bad was going to happen between them. They lived together, they wanted to have children together, and he was fine with all of that. But he was scared to get married? What was wrong with him? Deciding to have children together seemed more important, but it didn’t bother him at all. In fact he looked forward to it, but as soon as the word ‘marriage’ was brought up, he’d freeze up at the thought, and his brain started to come up with every crazy scenario it could think of. What if Maya got bored of him? She was still young and pretty and energetic. What if she found someone better suited to her? Someone with better connections that would be better for Kurain Village, or just someone closer to her age?

He groaned. He was just making things up, freaking himself out for no reason. Maya wouldn’t do that, and it wasn’t fair to think that she would.

He had thought about asking her multiple times in the past. Once back when he was still disbarred he’d even worked up the courage to go into a jewelry store, but he ended up telling himself that he had to get his life together first, and left empty handed. He hadn’t been back inside a jewelry store since that first time. He thought about it again right after he got his badge back, but he decided he should work on rebuilding his reputation first to be sure clients would still hire him. And again before Maya went to Khura’in, but once again he convinced himself that it would be better to wait, because what if they couldn’t last two years apart? He knew it was terrible of him to even think that, like he had no faith in their relationship, but he couldn’t help it.

Now he really had no reason not to do it. They’d kept their relationship strong for almost ten years, even through all the ups and downs of his disbarment and Maya’s two years away in Khura’in. He knew there was nothing that would be able to tear them apart now, and Maya deserved it. She never nagged him, never did more than drop very subtle hints every so often, sometimes so subtle that he wasn’t even sure if it really was a hint or if he was looking into it too much. She would never force him or give him an ultimatum. It was up to him. It would also be better for her image in Kurain if she was married; the Elders wouldn’t give her so much grief and any children they had wouldn’t be looked down upon within the village.

It made sense logically to marry her, but the biggest and most important thing, something he didn’t need to convince himself of and had nothing to do with logic, was that he loved her. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, he wanted to be with her until he was old and grey, up until he left this world, and then afterward he would be grateful if someone channelled him every so often so he could still visit her until it was her time to join him. So what was buying a ring and signing some papers really? It wouldn’t change anything. They would continue to love and support each other as they always had.

He sighed and tapped his fingers on his knee. He could go at it slowly; let himself get used to the idea. Maybe even ask Athena for some help with her Mood Matrix if he really needed it, and he could always talk to Edgeworth. Edgeworth would no doubt he’d lay it all out and make it sound like the most obvious thing in the world.

As he sat there, staring at the living room ceiling, he made a decision. He was going to ask her. He didn’t know when or how, but he could start planning it. If he took his time and worked through his nerves, he could do it, and he knew he wouldn’t regret it. But where to start?


March 3rd, 2029, 4:53 PM
Chief Prosecutor’s Office

“I’m not sure why you think you can just show up here, as if I don’t have work to do.”

Phoenix looked around the office. “Where is this work you speak of Edgeworth? All I see is an open laptop with…” he walked around the desk and bent closer to look at the screen, “‘Plumed Punisher Episode 22 subbed’ playing on it. I thought you hated this show?”

Edgeworth slammed the laptop shut from the front of the desk where he was standing. “Get out from back there, Wright. That’s my personal workspace.”

Phoenix walked back around to the front of the desk and took a seat on Edgeworth’s couch without even waiting for an invitation. Edgeworth looked slightly annoyed, but he was used to Phoenix’s unannounced visits, and Phoenix felt at home enough in Edgeworth’s office not to worry too much with propriety, plus he knew it bugged Edgeworth and it was funny to annoy him.

Edgeworth stared down at his friend. Phoenix didn’t seem to be in a bad mood, but he was being strangely quiet as he sat and looked around the office, as if he’d never been there before. Everything except Edgeworth himself seemed so interesting to him, and Edgeworth found himself sighing. Clearly he was going to have to get this conversation started. “Did you want some tea, Wright?”

“Sure, why not?”

Edgeworth stepped behind his desk and pressed a button on the phone. His secretary responded right away. “Yes, Mr. Edgeworth?”

“Miss James, could you have some tea made and sent up? The usual.”

“Of course, Mr. Edgeworth. It’ll be there in no time.”

“Thank you.”

A few minutes later, Edgeworth’s young secretary brought the tea in on a tray and bowed out of the room again, but not before glancing at Phoenix and smiling knowingly.

Phoenix looked up at Edgeworth as he handed him his tea. “What’s up with your secretary?” he asked. “She always looks at me funny whenever I’m here.”

“She either has a crush on you, or thinks you and I are in a relationship,” Edgeworth stated matter-of-factly, before taking a sip of his tea.

Those are the two theories?” Edgeworth shrugged, and Phoenix rolled his eyes. “Well, whatever. Maybe we should invite her to Maya and I’s wedding then. Either way, she’ll be surprised.”

Edgeworth looked up over his tea. “Your… wedding?”

“Oh. That’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Are congratulations in order?”

“No, not exactly. I did finally decide that I want to propose to her. But… I won’t lie—”

“You’re scared to do it.”

“Wha? How did you know?”

“It’s a common occurrence in men who wish to propose. Even if they have been with their significant others for almost ten years…” he said pointedly.

Phoenix sighed. “See, I knew you’d make it sound like the obvious thing to do.”

Edgeworth took another sip of his tea and set it down on the side table, then took a seat on the couch beside Phoenix. “You love her, don’t you, Wright?”

“Yes, of course.”

Edgeworth nodded. “You’ve been together for almost ten years, correct?”

“Yes…”

“And she loves you?”

“God, I hope so, or she’s wasted ten years of her life.”

Edgeworth sat back and crossed one leg over the other. “Then what, pray tell, is the problem?”

“I—I don’t know. There isn’t a problem, the problem is with me! When I think about asking her I get so nervous. But it’s more than the normal nerves that come with the whole proposing thing. I start to get all these thoughts like, what if she leaves me after? And the thing is, I know it’s stupid to think that. I don’t actually believe Maya would do that to me. I know she loves me, but still I have those thoughts anyway, and they stop me from even going into a jewelry store if I happen to walk by one.”

“Have you considered a therapist?” Edgeworth asked gently. “I can sit here and tell you all day that it is certainly logical to marry her, but you shouldn’t ask her until you’re sure you can handle it. It’s not fair to her for you to ask just because you think she wants it. You have to want it too.”

“I know, you’re right. For once, you’re absolutely right. I am going to ask her, but I need to work through this first.”

“What about Miss Cykes? She’s quite good from what I’ve seen of her in court.”

Phoenix rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, I thought of that, but would that be weird? I am her boss after all, does she really want to hear about my personal issues?”

“It couldn’t hurt to ask her. She seems to enjoy helping others and she’s good at it, and all of you over there in your office seem very close anyway, almost like family. If you trust her, you should ask her.”

Phoenix nodded. “Yeah… Yeah, I think I will. And if she doesn’t want to I’ll go to someone else.”

Edgeworth patted his friend on the shoulder. He wasn’t one for physical contact often, but he’d learned over the years that sometimes Phoenix needed a bit of encouragement. “The fact that you’re so willing to get help for this proves that you want to be with Maya, that you want to commit to her for life. You’ll be fine, Wright.”

"Y-Yeah, thanks Edgeworth. I knew talking to you would help." He smiled and shifted to turn in his seat. "Hey, maybe this is premature, and I don't know if I'm supposed to do something special or whatever but... whenever it happens, whenever Maya and I do get married, you'll be my best man, right?"

For once Edgeworth wasn't able to hide a small smile. "Well, we wouldn't want to have to rely on Larry to hold the ring for you, would we?"

Phoenix rolled his eyes. "You could just say yes, you know."

"Of course I will, Wright. I'd be honoured." Phoenix grinned and held his arms out but Edgeworth shook his head. "No hugs necessary."

"Aaw I think they are necessary, Miles."

Edgeworth grimaced. Phoenix only resorted to calling him by his first name when he wanted something, but he made no move to accept the hug. That didn't stop Phoenix, who scooted forward to pull his friend into his arms. Edgeworth reluctantly patted him on the back. "That's enough, Wright. Save this for your future wife."

"Hey, don't say anything about this to anyone," Phoenix said once he'd pulled back. "You and Athena, once I tell her, are the only two that should know. I would tell Pearls and Trucy but I'm afraid they might spill the beans to Maya in their excitement, even on accident. Plus I have no idea when this'll happen. For all I know it might not be for another year."

"My lips are sealed."

He sighed. "Even just talking about it like this makes me feel better. I'm going to talk to Athena as soon as I can.” He finished off his tea and stood up. “Well, I’m going to head out now. Thanks again Edgeworth.”

“You’re very welcome, Wright. Good luck.”


March 6th, 2029, 5:53 PM
Wright Anything Agency

“Uh, Boss?” Athena tapped her fingers on Phoenix’s desk, prompting him to look up at her. She looked nervous, but he had no idea why. “You said you wanted to talk to me before I headed upstairs. I’m not in trouble am I?”

“Of course not, Athena.” He finished signing the papers he had in front of him and looked back up at her. “Why? Did you do something worth getting in trouble for?”

“Nah. It’s just a little bit nerve-wracking when your boss says he wants to ‘speak with you after work’. I felt like a little kid at school all day, just waiting for the principal to give me heck.”

He laughed. “Sorry about that. No, it’s nothing bad. Actually, it’s about me.”

“Oh, really? What, like a survey about whether or not you’re a fair boss or something?”

“Athena, no. I was just wondering… Have you ever used Widget to help people outside of court? With… personal issues.”

She stood back for a second and stared at him, making him slightly uncomfortable. Finally, she spoke again. “I sense discord in your voice, Boss. Widget’s practically a registered therapist! What’s up?”

“You have to promise not to tell anyone.”

Athena drew an X over her chest with a finger. “Cross my heart. This will be totally confidential.”

“Alright. I want to ask Maya to marry me.”

Athena squealed and jumped around in a circle. “Really?! I’m so happy for you, Mr. Wright! It’s about time!”

Phoenix sat back and waited for Athena’s excitement to die down. If she was this excited he couldn’t even imagine what Pearl or Trucy’s reactions would be if he told them. “Right, it’s great. But see the thing is—”

“Oh, you’re scared.” He raised an eyebrow and she smiled timidly. “Sorry. I can tell. So, you need to talk about it then? I can definitely help, if you’re okay with it. And as long as you know I’m not a legitimate therapist…”

“That’s fine.”

She waved him over to the couches where she took a seat. He came over and sat opposite her. She tapped Widget and her holographic screen appeared in front of her. It was almost intimidating to be the one on the end of one of Athena’s “therapy sessions” instead of watching her do her work with a witness in court. When she looked up at him over the screen she smiled. “Mr. Wright, relax.”

He realized what a stiff position he was sitting in and tried to relax back into the couch, placing his hands together in his lap.

“You really don’t want to talk about this, do you?” she said.

He shrugged. “It was a long time ago.”

“So you’ve already identified what the problem most likely is?”

He turned to look out the window. “Probably.”

“Tell me about it,” she prodded.

He sighed and looked at her again. “Back when I was in college, I had a girlfriend.”

Athena nodded. “Okay.”

“She uh, tried to poison me, and when that didn’t work, she had me framed for murder instead.”

Athena tried to hide her surprise as she tapped the screen in front of her. “Alright, I can definitely see how that would affect your future relationships. Continue.”

“My mentor, Mia Fey, Maya’s sister, got me off the hook, and Dahlia was found out. A few years later, after I became a lawyer, Dahlia was finally executed.”

Athena looked up over her screen. “Wow, Mr. Wright. I had no idea.”

“Yeah. Sadly, there’s more.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Not long after Dahlia was executed I found out that she had a twin sister named Iris. A bunch of crazy stuff happened, it’s way too long a story to tell, but essentially the Dahlia Hawthorne that was executed, I really only saw two or three times during the eight months we were dating. The rest of the time it was Iris I was spending time with, pretending to be her sister. She really was a sweet girl and apparently she really did have feelings for me, which makes it hard to accept the fact that she still lied to me for those eight months. I don’t think she knew about Dahlia’s plan to kill me, but the fact still stands that she lied to me and then when Dahlia didn’t need her anymore, she just left. I didn’t find out until years later that they were even different people.”

Athena nodded solemnly. She had no idea her boss had gone through something like that. His relationship with Maya seemed so perfect, she never would have guessed he was having feelings like this. She’d never heard any sort of discord in his voice any time Maya was around.

“Let me ask you this then, Boss, what makes you think Maya is anything like Iris? I understand that Iris may have seemed sweet, and still lied to you, but Maya isn’t Iris. So why do you think Maya would do anything to you just because you get married? You’ve been with her, how long? Two or three years was it?”

He scratched at the back of his neck. “Well that’s what we tell most people, but a few people know the truth. Maya and I have been together for almost ten years. We got together not long after I was disbarred.”

“Wow. So you’re already in a committed relationship, when you think about it. Getting married shouldn’t change how you feel about her or how she feels about you. So why are you so worried?”

“I don’t really know. That’s the whole thing. When I think about our relationship now, as it is, I’m fine. I want to have kids with her and live with her, but the thought of marrying her scares me, even though I don’t want it to.”

“Hmm. Are there are similarities between Iris and Maya?”

He swallowed. “Oh.”

“What is it?”

He ran a hand over his face. “Iris is Maya’s cousin. They’re related by blood.”

This time Athena couldn’t hide her surprise. “Wait, what?”

“Yeah. Pearl’s mother… She was also Iris and Dahlia’s mother. She had them before Pearl was born and gave them up to her first husband, or so Maya has told me. Dahlia was just a psychopath, but Iris seemed genuinely sweet and caring…”

Athena tapped frantically on her Mood Matrix. “Mr. Wright… That’s your problem.”

“Huh? What is?”

“That Maya and Iris are related. The Mood Matrix is showing major anxiety when you talk about Iris being Maya’s cousin.”

“R-Really? But I’ve never even thought about that any time before.”

“Maybe not consciously, but subconsciously that’s what’s causing this fear in you. That Maya may turn out to be like her cousin, that after so long of being together, it’ll turn out that she’s been lying the whole time anyway. And whether or not she actually has feelings for you won’t matter, she’ll leave or be taken away the same way Iris was back then.”

“But that’s stupid. I don’t really think that!”

Athena shrugged. “That’s not what my Mood Matrix is telling me. Do you ever see Iris?”

He shook his head. “No. Apparently she got out of jail a few years ago and Pearls visits her sometimes. She went back to being a nun in Hazakura Temple, up on Eagle Mountain.”

“Do you think talking to her might help you get over this irrational fear?”

He shifted. “Or it could just make it worse.” Athena tapped something on the Mood Matrix again and the screen disappeared. Phoenix sat forward. “That’s it?”

“For now, yes. I won’t push you if you think it may make things worse, but maybe you should talk to Iris about what she did. Maybe understanding will help you realize that Maya isn’t her. Maya wouldn’t do anything like what you’re scared of.”

“I haven’t spoken to Iris for years, Athena.”

“I know. But maybe that’s your problem. Like I said, it’s up to you. Do what you think will help. If you think it’ll make it worse, don’t go.”

He nodded. “Alright. Thanks, Athena. I know it’s probably weird to hear all this stuff from your boss.”

She shrugged. “It’s no problem. If I hadn’t become a lawyer to save Simon, I probably would have gone into something like this. I like helping people, and you’re like family, so of course I’m going to help.” She winked at him. “Besides, I really want to go to your future wedding.”

“You’ll definitely get an invite.” He stood up and smirked down at her. “Maybe you can even bring Simon.”

She didn’t blush like he thought she would. She tilted her head at him instead. “Yeah, sure. That sounds nice.”

“Well, I’m going to head home now. Thanks, Athena, for all of this.”

“No problem, Mr. Wright! We should probably have a few more sessions with the Mood Matrix too, so same time next week?”

“Yeah, sure. That sounds good. Make sure you lock the office door before you head upstairs for the night.”

She saluted him. “Sure thing, Boss!”


March 10th, 2029, 9:45 AM
Hazakura Temple

Three days later, Phoenix found himself nervously sitting across from Pearl on the train to Hazakura Temple. Pearl didn’t ask many questions when he asked her when she was going to go visit Iris next, and still didn’t question him after he said he was going to join her. But as he stared out the window to his left, he could see Pearl staring at him out of the corner of his eye. Finally unable to take it any longer, he turned to her.

She didn’t bother looking away. “Mr. Nick, can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Why did you want to come visit Sister Iris with me? You never have before.”

“I just figured it’s about time I see her again,” he said, hoping his bluff would fool Pearl.

Of course it didn’t. She crossed her arms. “Mr. Nick, you haven’t seen her or talked to her for ten years. Why all of a sudden now?”

He tried to scramble for a reason, but couldn’t come up with much, so he shrugged. “I need to talk to her about something, Pearls. That’s all I can tell you. Does she know I’m coming?”

“Yes. I wasn’t about to surprise her with, well, you. I had to tell her. I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, not at all. It’s probably better that way.”

Pearl shifted. “Mr. Nick, there’s nothing going on between you two, right? I trust you not to hurt Mystic Maya like that but I can’t help but worry…”

“Of course not, Pearls,” he said, looking straight at her. He honestly felt a little annoyed that she would even think something like that. “And there won’t be. I just need to talk to her.”

“Okay, Mr. Nick.”


When they arrived at the train station in Hazakura, Phoenix was surprised to see how bustling the place was. When he came with Maya and Pearl all those years ago, it was practically deserted. Pearl noticed his wide eyed look.

“You should have visited sooner, Mr. Nick. Eagle Mountain is much more populated now. Mystic Maya sent a lot of acolytes to train up here so there are way more people around than there used to be. We even get some tourists every now and then.”

“I’m impressed. Maya never told me.”

An acolyte from the temple was there to meet them, bowing politely and then leading them up the mountain. It brought back bad memories of the temple steps in Khura’in and Phoenix could already feel his muscles starting to complain. Maybe he did need to cut back on the potato chips.

By the time they reached the temple, he was out of breath, but Pearl and the acolyte both seemed perfectly fine. Pearl patted him on the back as he stood there panting. “You okay, Mr. Nick?”

“Uh huh. But I think Maya needs to invest in a lift or something for going up the mountain.”

Pearl giggled. “I’ll bring that up at our next council meeting. I’m sure she’ll get right on it.”

He made a face at her obvious sarcasm. The acolyte smiled at them. “Mystic Pearl, you know the way to your quarters don’t you?”

Pearl nodded. “Yep. Can you take Mr. Nick here to his room?”

“Room? I’m not staying the night though.”

“It’s just customary. Somewhere for you to put your coat and stuff.”

“Ah, okay then.”

Pearl took her bag and headed into the temple ahead of them. The acolyte waved him over. “This way, Mr. Wright. I’m sorry but your room won’t be inside the temple.”

“Huh? Why not?”

She fidgeted. “Well, because you’re a man,” she said simply. “There are too many young women here.” She looked at him and grinned. “But it’s not them we worry for when men are around.”

He got the gist. “When can I meet Sister Iris?”

“Oh, Sister Iris is quite busy these days. She knows of your visit and she’ll come to you when she can. Don’t worry, your room has plenty of things to help kill the time. Everything’s been refurbished recently all thanks to the new Master. She’s done wonders for Kurain and Hazakura.”

He smiled, feeling prouder by the minute. “So, people are happy with Master Maya?”

“Oh, very.” The acolyte looked around. “It’s not polite for me to say such a thing about a previous master, but Master Maya has done much more for us than Master Misty ever did.” She put her hands over her mouth, as if shocked by what she’d just said. “Oh, please don’t tell Master Maya I said that!”

Phoenix couldn’t help laughing. “I won’t.”

She smiled gratefully and stopped outside a cabin separated from the temple. “Here we are, Mr. Wright. You may go inside.”

“This whole place is just for me?”

She nodded. “Yes. As I said everything has been refurbished and some things were even added. This is one of the old cabins, but it looks brand new.”

He opened the door to step inside. A fire was already lit in the fireplace so it was nice and warm inside. It was nicely decorated, with a small kitchen near the back, a sofa and coffee table near the fireplace with a plush fur carpet on the floor, and on the other side of the room, a large bed.

“Wow,” he breathed. It was so different than the last time he’d visited. It had been so cold and grey. It was still cold outside this far up on the mountain, but the cabins and the temple itself looked warm and welcoming. He looked back at the acolyte. “I have a question for you.”

“Yes?”

“Where does the Master stay when she comes up?”

“Master Maya has her own cabin on the other side of the temple. It’s twice the size of this one, and very beautiful. We keep it clean and dusted just in case she decides to visit.”

He nodded thoughtfully. This cabin alone was so nice he couldn’t help wondering if someday Maya might want to show him her cabin, albeit in a more romantic way. “Well, thank you. I’ll wait for Iris here.”

The acolyte bowed to him. “She shouldn’t be long.”

He closed the door behind her and turned around to survey the cabin again. The warmth of the fireplace was already seeping into his skin, so he took his coat off and laid it across the back of the sofa. There was a bookcase and a chess set near the bed, but he couldn’t very well play chess by himself, and he wasn’t very good at it anyway. Instead of looking for a book to read, he sat down on the sofa, feeling very tired all of a sudden. The long train ride and trek up the mountain had taken its toll.

He was awoken an hour later to a knock on the heavy wooden door of the cabin. He sat up quickly, temporarily forgetting where he was. The knock came again, so he ran his fingers through his hair quickly and got up. When he opened the door, he almost didn’t recognize the woman standing in front of him.

Gone was the innocent looking Sister Iris from almost ten years ago. It was hard to remember that she was a 34 year old woman now, not the 25 year old he last saw. She was a bit heavier now, at least compared to the slight little thing she used to be. The extra weight looked good on her though. She was wearing a white warding hood over her black hair, and when she pulled it down onto her shoulders, Phoenix couldn’t help gaping at her. Her face was marred by a large scar, crossing her nose and stopping just under her left eye. If whatever had made that scar had gone any farther, she might have been out an eye.

“I-Iris?!”

She smiled at him, and that smile was the same as ever. It showed her beauty even now, after everything she’d gone through. “Hello Feenie.”

“What… What happened?” It slipped out of his mouth, and he could have kicked himself for it. “Oh God, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything—”

“It’s alright,” she said, reaching up to touch her fingertips to the scar. “Prison happened.”

He stepped aside to let her inside. “I’m so sorry, Iris.”

She stepped inside and turned back towards him while he closed the door. “No need to apologize. It’s what I deserved for my part in what happened all those years ago.”

He gestured for her to sit on the sofa, then sank down beside her. “You didn’t deserve that. You know, I wanted to help you reduce your sentence. I was going to talk to the courts on your behalf but I was disbarred not long after you went to prison, and couldn’t. I’m sorry.”

“I know,” she said. “Master Maya has explained everything to me already. There’s no need for you to feel bad. Prison wasn’t all that terrible anyway. I was in a minimum security women’s prison. I learned skills there that I hadn’t learned from being stuck here on the mountain, and learned a few interesting things about myself as well. I made friends. Most of the women there were in for drug arrests or petty theft, usually to feed their drug addictions or their families. They weren’t bad people. And I became a lot less timid and learned to look after myself.” She smiled. “This scar may look bad, but you should see the other girl.”

He grinned at her. “Wow, seriously?”

“Seriously.”

“I’m glad to hear that then.”

She nodded, looking down at the floor. “So, why did you come to visit me today, Feenie?”

“Do you mind… not calling me that?” That old nickname brought back too many bad memories.

“Oh,” she blushed. “I’m sorry. Old habits, I guess. What would you prefer? Mr. Wright?”

Phoenix is fine.”

She nodded. “Okay… Phoenix.”

He swallowed. This was even more awkward than he expected it to be. “I came to see you because… I wanted to talk about everything that happened back then.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Why now? After all these years?”

“Because I’m going to ask Maya to marry me. But I’m scared, and my, er, therapist said that fear could be coming from something in my past…”

Understanding dawned on her face. “Ah, I see.”

“We never talked about it. After Dahlia went to prison, I didn’t even know of your existence until Maya and I came to Hazakura Temple. And after that, you went to prison, I was disbarred, and never contacted you again. I feel like if I just hear from you why you did it, it may help me. Why did you pretend to love me for eight months and then just disappear?”

“I didn’t pretend,” she said. “I thought you already knew that after the trial. I pretended at first but my feelings for you towards the end were real. I did love you.”

“Then why? Why did you just leave and let Dahlia do what she did?”

“I didn’t know about Dahlia’s plan to kill you. If I had known I would have told you, or tried to stop her. I thought she was just going to try getting that necklace back from you again. She was my sister and she convinced me that I should be loyal to my family, even if all she ever did was ridicule and use me. When she said she didn’t need my help anymore, I couldn’t do anything about it. I had to give up on you and come back here.”

She sighed. “Believe me, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I had been stronger back then. If I had been able to stand up to her, to tell her how I felt about you, so much could have been avoided. But she was my sister and I was weak and scared of her.” She looked up at him, tears shining in her eyes. “Please forgive me, and don’t let this come between you and Master Maya. She’s nothing like me. You should hear her talk about you when she visits. She deserves you, and you her. Maya is strong, unlike me. She loves you and she would die for you before ever letting anything happen to you. Please, Phoenix.” She tentatively placed her hand over his and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Please remember that it was my decision to play a part in Dahlia’s plan back then. Only me. Maya would never do such a thing.”

He sat back and sighed. Hearing her say it did help somehow, even though he’d known it all along. “The funny thing is, after hearing you say that, I’m realizing I already knew. Of course I did. I trust Maya more than anyone. I love her and she loves me.”

Iris smiled. “I’m happy for you. I’m glad that you found someone better. Someone who deserves a man like you.”

“Thanks, Iris.”

She nodded. “I hope it’s not too forward of me to say this, but I hope I see an invitation to your wedding in the mail sometime in the future.”

“You will, for sure. Thank you for agreeing to see me today. It must have been a surprise.”

“It was, but I’m glad you came. I think it was good to get this out of the way, after so many years of ignoring it. I hope we can be friends now, Phoenix.”

“You’re Pearls’s sister, and Maya’s cousin. As far as I’m concerned, you’re family.”

She smiled at him, then looked away. “You don’t know how much that means to me.”

They sat in quiet silence for a few minutes, each of them processing the conversation. It seemed to go so quick, he didn’t need to prod or poke her for information. Her apology was sincere and he knew she was right. He couldn’t let the damage their relationship had done to him effect his relationship with Maya.

“So… I’ll be heading home later today. Is there anything I can do around here to kill the time until the next train leaves?” he said, finally breaking the silence.

Iris seemed thankful that he’d finally said something. She thought for a moment, then her face lit up. “Oh! Did you know Sister Bikini is still around? She’s in a wheelchair now thanks to her bad back, but she still takes care of the younger acolytes.”

“Then I should visit her before I leave,” he said, standing up and stretching. Iris got up as well. “I know all about having a bad back, believe me. I feel for poor Sister Bikini. Now I know what she was going through when she had to cross that bridge over and over.”

Iris covered her mouth with a hand to hide her giggle. “I can give you a tour of the temple and then bring you to visit. A lot has changed since the last time you were here, thanks to Master Maya.”

“I think I’d like to see Maya’s handiwork,” he said as he pulled on his coat. “She doesn’t tell me much about what she does. She does a lot more than I even realize. I’m proud of her.”

Iris pulled her hood back up as he held the door open for her. She descended the stairs back onto the snowy path. “You should be proud of her,” she said. “She’s an amazing Master and person. We’re all very thankful for her.”

Phoenix followed Iris down the path back towards the temple, feeling that swelling pride yet again at Iris’s high opinion of Maya. He couldn’t wait to get home to see her, just so he could tell her he loved her.


March 11th, 2029, 1:12 AM
Fey-Wright Residence

When he got home that night, it was already late, and the house was quiet. Pearl had stayed at the temple so he entered alone, flicking on the light in the front hallway where he kicked off his shoes and took off his coat before making his way upstairs to the bedroom.

Maya was already asleep under the blankets, her back facing him, her long black hair splayed out across her pillow. He tried to be quiet as he undressed, but when he crawled into bed beside her she stirred and started to roll onto her back. He wrapped his arms around her to prevent her from moving and pressed his face into the curve of her shoulder.

“Nick?” she mumbled. “It’s so late. Where were you?”

He kissed her shoulder and rubbed his hand along her arm. “I went to Hazakura Temple with Pearls today. I just got in, the last train was pretty late.”

“Why’d you go there?”

“I decided it was finally time I visit Iris.” He was confident that Maya wouldn't be suspicious of him. He wasn't going to lie to her about who he'd gone to see, but he couldn’t tell her the reason why.

That got her attention, and she did manage to roll onto her back to look at him. She looked much more awake now, and slightly concerned. “Did everything go okay? You haven’t seen her for so long…”

He smiled. Of course she would only be worried about his wellbeing. “It was a little weird at first, but it’s fine now. She’s changed a lot.”

Maya nodded. “Yeah, she has… I’m glad you finally went. Pearly and I have been visiting Iris for years but I never brought it up to you. I figured it was a touchy subject.”

“It was. But we’re okay now. We can be friends, I think, and she’s part of the family anyway, isn’t she?”

Maya smiled. “Yes. I’ve lost enough family, so I’m glad you think so.”

He sat up on an elbow and leaned over her, putting a hand on the other side to hold himself up. “You never told me how much work you’ve been putting into Hazakura, Maya. It was beautiful up there.” He leaned down to kiss her lightly, then moved to nuzzle her neck. "All I could think about the whole time I was up there was how proud I am of you."

She lifted her hand to bury her fingers in his hair. "Mm. Thanks, Nick. That means a lot." His kisses were starting to travel down to her chest, so she cleared her throat. "Now if you'll excuse me, I was trying to sleep."

He lifted his head to grin at her. "Sorry." He gave her one last peck on the forehead. "I just love you so much."

She patted his cheek. "Thanks."

"All I get is a 'thanks'?"

She rolled her eyes and flung her arms around his neck, pulling him down against her. "Oh, Nick! I love you too!" she cried.

He rolled onto his back, pulling her with him as he went. "Okay, okay, you're hilarious."

"I am, aren't I?" She laid her head down on his chest and wrapped an arm around him. "But seriously, I do love you. More than anything."

He tightened his arm around her shoulder in a half hug. The fears he'd been having over the past week seemed incredibly stupid now that he was lying with her, feeling so comfortable and warm and loved. "I know you do, Maya."

She sighed contentedly and closed her eyes to go back to sleep while he laid there, wondering what on earth he'd done to deserve her.

Chapter Text

April 10th, 2029, 5:00 PM
Downtown Los Angeles

Phoenix shifted nervously on the sidewalk where he stood staring into the window of a jewelry store, the same jewelry store he walked by every day on his way from the bus stop to the office. Some of the people who were passing by gave him dirty looks for standing in the middle of the sidewalk, but he paid them no attention.

He looked to his left down the street and then to the right. Maya was in Kurain Village for the day doing some high profile channeling, along with Pearl, and Trucy was in school, so there was no reason to be nervous, yet he couldn’t shake the niggling feeling in the back of his mind that someway, somehow, Maya would find out what he was up to. He couldn’t let that happen, this had to be perfect. He wasn’t going to let anyone ruin the surprise. He still hadn’t even told Trucy or Pearl of his plan, on the off chance that they accidentally let it slip.

After talking with Iris and having a few more “therapy” sessions with Athena over the last month, his anxious thoughts about marriage were dwindling significantly. He was starting to find himself excited or even giddy at the thought of it now. It was a good feeling. He’d needed the month to save up some money, but luck had been on his side for once when he and Athena were hired for a rather important case and were paid quite well for their win, and this was one purchase he didn’t want to cheap out on. It was as if the universe was telling him that now was the time to finally do it.

He took one more look down the sidewalk each way, not seeing anyone he knew. He opened the door to the store and stepped inside. The saleswoman was busy helping another man at the front counter, so he turned to busy himself with looking at the bracelets and necklaces. He was bent down slightly, still staring hard at a charm bracelet and trying to read what was written on one of the charms when a voice spoke up from behind him.

“Excuse me, sir? Can I help you with something?”

He straightened up and turned around at the strangely familiar voice. The woman he came face to face with was recognizable immediately, with that blonde hair pulled up into a neat bun at the back of her head. Her glasses were a bit thicker now and square instead of rounded, but they suited her. She was wearing a simple black pantsuit and looking as professional as always.

Her look of surprise when she saw his face indicated that she knew exactly who he was as well. “Oh! Mr. Wright!”

He grinned. “Miss Andrews. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”

“About nine years or so,” she answered. “My, you haven’t aged a day since I last saw you.”

“The same can be said for you,” he said. “You look great.”

“Thank you.” She smiled at him, seeming much more confident than he remembered.

“So, you’re a jeweller these days?”

She nodded. “Well, I just work here as a salesperson, but I’m actually quite interested in different gemstones and things like that, so it’s fun to help people find things for their significant others.” She tilted her head. “Speaking of, why are you here today? I saw you looking pretty hard at that charm bracelet.”

“That’s not what I’m here for. I’m actually here to look at engagement rings.”

Another look of surprise from her. “Oh, congratulations! Who’s the lucky lady, if I may ask? The only woman I ever saw you with was that little spirit medium from the Fey clan that I helped at Lordly Tailor.”

“That would be said lady,” he confirmed. “She’s a well respected spirit medium now, and the leader of her whole village.”

Adrian nodded, not seeming at all surprised. “I still remember all you did for her back during that case with Matt, and then again when the urn was stolen from Lordly Tailor.”

He rubbed the back of his neck and smiled embarrassedly. “I’m still really sorry about that whole thing, Miss Andrews.”

“It’s quite alright. It’s all in the past and I understand how much she meant to you. I would have done the same in your position.” She shifted on her feet. “So, why were you stopped looking at that bracelet if you’re here for an engagement ring? Nervous?”

He laughed. “No, not at all. At least, not anymore. I’m actually pretty excited now. Maya and I have been together for a really long time and it finally feels right.”

“Well then, let’s take a look,” she said as she headed behind one of the glass cases. “What kind of jewelry does she like?”

He’d been paying a lot of attention to Maya’s jewelry preferences lately, but in doing so he realized that Maya didn’t really wear any jewelry aside from her magatama necklace. She’d caught him at one point standing at their dresser and digging through an old jewelry box that was on top of it, but all he’d found in it was a hidden stash of sour gummy candies. When she questioned what he was doing the only thing he could think to do was blurt out how he’d lost his watch and was wondering if she’d put it in with her jewelry. She’d pointed out that he was wearing his watch, then looked at him funny as he pretended to be surprised at finding his watch around his own wrist.

He sighed. “Ah, she doesn’t really wear any jewelry so I’m not quite sure. But I think she’d like something unique, like her. Maya is the furthest from boring that you can get, if she could pick it out she’d probably choose something other than a regular diamond, just to be different.”

Adrian looked thoughtful for a moment. “Just a minute. I’m sure I have a pamphlet around here somewhere with different types of gemstones. There are a lot of different types you can order in if you don’t want to go for a traditional diamond ring.”

She bent down behind the counter and opened a cupboard. She dug through it for a moment and then emerged with a booklet in her hand. She slid it onto the table and turned it toward him. “It tells you the different gemstones as well as their meanings, in case that interests you.”

He flipped it open and flicked through the pages. There were a few that caught his eye. Aquamarine, emerald, malachite, rose quartz and sapphires. They were all quite beautiful, but he stopped and turned back a page when he saw amethyst flip by. It was a pretty purple colour, and the information underneath stated that amethysts increased spirituality and enhanced intuition and psychic powers. He wasn’t sure how much he actually believed that a pretty rock had special powers, which would have seemed hypocritical had he thought about it further, but the meaning behind the stone as well as its colour seemed to match Maya perfectly.

He turned the booklet back towards Adrian and pointed at it. “What about this? Does that work for engagement rings?”

“Certainly. It’s still a precious gemstone, so it’s not considered ‘cheap’, and see here how it says that the stone is a 7 on the Mohs scale?” she said, pointing to a part of the information printed at the side of the picture. “That means that it’s just as hard as that quartz you can get in fake diamond rings, so it won’t break that easily either. It’s not as strong as a diamond, but you won’t find it cracking or breaking apart.”

“Are they all this colour?”

“Yes, but the intensity can vary. The deeper purple it is, the more expensive they are.”

“What about the cuts?”

She seemed impressed. "You've been doing your research I see."

He shrugged. "Yeah, I've been looking stuff up online a lot. It's a big purchase, you know?"

"That's a good thing. Most men who come in here certainly care about the purchase but they don't come so prepared."

"I've been thinking about this for a long time so I couldn't help myself. I’ve spent way too much time on the internet recently.”

She nodded politely. “Well, a lot of times they’re done in an emerald cut,” she said, pointing to one of the diamond rings in the case to indicate the rectangular shape of the emerald cut. “It can be cut however you’d like though. We can look at different types and then decide on the band as well.”

“Alright. Let’s do it.”


April 12th, 2029, 3:00 PM
Wright Anything Agency

Once the ring was ordered, he went about planning the rest of the proposal. It wasn’t going to be some big event, just something simple between he and Maya, but he still wanted it to be special. She deserved that. The first person he called was Klavier Gavin. They had never really been friends, but Phoenix had forgiven him a long time ago for his part in his disbarment, and he knew Klavier and Apollo were close. So he had a little favour to ask, and he figured Klavier owed him.

“Herr Wright?” Klavier sounded groggy, like he’d just been woken up, despite it being three in the afternoon.

“Hi Prosecutor Gavin.”

“To what do I owe the pleasure of your phone call?” Klavier asked, and Phoenix noted just a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Maybe he really had just woken up.

“I have a favour to ask of you.”

“Hmm? A favour? What sort of favour?”

“You’re a musician, right?" Of course he knew, he wasn't so far out of the loop that he hadn't heard of the Gavinners. Trucy still had pictures of Klavier on her bedroom wall. "You're a singer and guitar player and all of that? Do you play any other instruments?”

Klavier hummed. “I do play some piano. I suppose it’d be strange if I didn’t, given what my parents decided to name me. I’ve dabbled in drumming and bass too.”

“Great! I need some piano lessons.”

“But Herr Forehead told me you used to be a pianist. Can’t you already play piano?”

“Heh, no not really. Besides it’s been a few years now so I’m even rustier than ever. Can you write music too?”

“Yes…”

“I need some help with that too.”

“What are you up to, Herr Wright? You need to write a song?”

“Yes. Just the music, for the piano that you’re going to teach me.”

Klavier sighed. “Okay, I guess. I do owe you after all.”

“Thank you!” Phoenix said sincerely. “You’re the only person I know who can help me with something like this now. Trust me, it’s for a good reason.”

“Ja, ja. Let me know your schedule, we’ll work out some times to meet. You’ll probably want to come to my office at the Prosecutor’s Offices. I’ve got all the stuff we’ll need there.”

“Sounds good, Prosecutor Gavin. Thanks a lot.”

When they’d hung up, he went to his computer next to bring up the local movie theatre’s website. Maya had been going on and on about the new Plumed Punisher movie that was finally coming to select theatres in the United States. Apparently it was doing so well in Khura’in that they decided to dub it and bring it to America, and she’d been bugging him nonstop to buy tickets for it. The closest theatre that had it was almost an hour’s drive away, but it would be worth it to bring her. He purchased the tickets for the 20th right away and printed them out, then stuck them in an envelope to bring home.

They didn’t have a set “anniversary” date, but they usually celebrated it on April 20th. It was the day he was disbarred almost ten years ago now. They both knew full well that they hadn’t gotten together until much later, but since they’d fallen into a relationship and didn’t have a particular day they considered their anniversary, Maya had insisted they celebrate it on April 20th, so he could make new memories with her on that day, instead of thinking about the bad ones.

She was right, of course. Nowadays he had good memories of their times together, particularly on April 20th. Now that he had his job back his disbarment didn’t seem like such a big deal, but during the years he’d been playing poker in the dingy basement of the Borscht Bowl Club, it had helped him tremendously. He even found himself looking forward to that day each year instead of dreading it. Adrian let him know before he left the shop that day that the ring he ordered should be available to pick up before the 20th, so he planned on asking during their outing that night.

After slipping the envelope into his suitcase he said goodbye to Athena and headed down to walk to the nearest flower shop. He was grateful the office was in the middle of the city, almost anything he needed was within walking distance. There he picked up a bouquet of multi-coloured daisies. They had no special meaning, but they were pretty and he’d already done roses on Valentine’s Day. He grabbed a silly card to put the tickets inside of and went back outside to grab a taxi home.

When he arrived at the house, Maya was already home from Kurain. He found her in the kitchen attempting to bake something, he couldn't even tell what it was. When she turned around from the counter to greet him and saw the bouquet of flowers, she grinned.

"Hey Maya." He held out the bouquet for her. The card was placed between a few of the stiff flower stems. "These are for you."

She put her hands on her hips, but her smile stayed in place. "What did you do, Nick?"

He pretended to act hurt. "Can't a guy get his girlfriend flowers for no reason?"

She came forward and took them from him, then stood up on her tip toes to kiss his cheek. "Thank you. But seriously, what did you do?"

"Nothing, I swear... Consider it an early anniversary gift. There's a card."

"That's still a week away," she said absently as she sat on one of the stools at the island. She placed the flowers gently on the counter and took the card, ripping it open eagerly. On the outside was a picture of a puppy with "Happy Anniversary" written on it. She flipped it open, but couldn't even read the inscribed "I ruff you" before her eyes fell on the tickets. He could see the glee on her face before she even looked up.

"Niiiiick!" She put everything down on the counter and jumped off her stool to hug him. She squeezed him tightly around the waist. "I love you!"

He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I know, I'm great."

She pulled away to look at the tickets again. "You got them for the 20th too! Best anniversary gift ever."

"Really?" He said, finally pulling off his jacket. "I thought that one time I brought you to that restaurant that served foot wide hamburgers was the best?” Maya was easy to please.

She was still holding the tickets. "This trumps that. You finally one upped yourself. I can't wait!" She hurried over to the fridge and used a magnet to place the tickets on it. She went to the cupboard next to pull out a glass vase which she then filled with water to place the bouquet in. "I'm going to put these in the living room."

He gestured at the bowl of what he thought was dough. "What about all this?"

She waved a hand. "I'll finish it in a bit." Then she was gone, running happily down the hall. He smiled. One thing that hadn't changed about Maya even after all these years was her childlike enthusiasm over things that most adults might roll their eyes at. Even he was guilty of it, particularly in their early days, when he thought she was too old to be so obsessed with Samurai shows. But now that he himself was getting older, he appreciated that about her. Her excitement over something as simple as a TV show or movie made him feel younger too, and it was nice to forget that he was only a few years away from 40.

He grabbed some saran wrap from one of the kitchen drawers and used it to cover her bowl, then stuck it in the fridge so it wouldn’t go bad. Knowing Maya she would forget about it until hours later and have to start again on whatever it was she was trying to make. When he was finished he followed her into the living room where he found her situating the flowers in the vase, making sure all the prettiest ones were on display.

“These are so pretty, Nick! Thank you!”

“You’re welcome,” he said, heading around the couch to sit. She came over and sat beside him, leaning in to plant multiple kisses on his face, each one punctuated with a “mwah” sound.

“Alright, alright,” he said, laughing and giving her a playful push. “So… I haven’t seen any of the Plumed Punisher show yet.”

She gasped. “You’re right! You haven’t!”

“I figured I should probably watch some before I see the movie with you, so…”

“Nick! You want to watch it with me?!” She jumped off the couch and ran towards the TV stand where their collection of DVDs were. Her multiple Samurai spin-offs and her imported Khura’inese Plumed Punisher DVDs were set up so they were on display to anyone who came through the living room. “These have subtitles! You’re okay with that, right?”

“Well, I can’t speak Khura’inese, so unless you’re going to translate it for me…”

“Subtitles it is!” She put the first DVD in and waited for the menu to pop up. The familiar, very Steel Samurai sounding theme song filled the living room. “I’m gonna go make popcorn and get some ice cream before I start it. Do you want some?” she said.

He got up. “I’ll come with you to look. You know Pearls told me a few weeks ago that I need to cut back on the potato chips because I might get fat?”

Maya snorted. “She must’ve been in a bad mood that day.”

“She said that because you told her you like my muscles so she didn’t think you’d appreciate a fat boyfriend.” He ran his hands down the front of his shirt. “I’m not getting chubby am I? I did cut back on snacks and I’ve been walking a lot more lately…”

Maya laughed. “Nick, don’t let Pearly’s idealizations make you self-conscious. I admit it, I do like how… strong you are…”

“Yeah?”

She stared up through her eyelashes. “Mhmm.” She walked her fingers up his chest. “The way you can just pin me down underneath of you with hardly any effort, or carry me off somewhere if you wanted… It’s kind of exciting. Except you’re too nice and would never do that so it’s all really just a fantasy of mine.”

“You mean… like this?” He bent quickly and wrapped his arms around her waist, hoisting her onto his shoulder. She squeaked in surprise. “This is one of your fantasies? Maya, after all this time you still manage to surprise me.”

She growled in frustration and swatted at his back. “Put me doooown, Nick.”

“But you’re so light even I can carry you like this without hurting my back. Besides it’s one of your fantasies.”

“Hmph!” She went limp across his shoulder, putting her dead weight on him as he carried her down to the kitchen. “If you’re not carrying me upstairs to bed, there’s no point.”

He laughed. “Anyway Maya, you didn’t really answer my question. Am I getting tubby or not?”

She rolled her eyes, not that he could see her. “You’re not getting chubby.” He bent to set her back on her feet once they were in the kitchen. She fixed her robes as she eyed him. “Besides if you did get a little chubby it would just make you more huggable and cuddly, so I wouldn’t mind,” she said, poking his stomach for emphasis. She suddenly looked very seriously at him. “Just like you won’t mind if suddenly my bad eating habits catch up to me and I get super fat, right?”

He snorted laughter. “Of course not. So hey, let’s go get that ice cream.”

“Okay!”


Two and a half hours later, Maya was snoozing with her head on his shoulder as Phoenix watched the end of the fifth Plumed Punisher episode. It wasn’t half bad. It really did remind him an awful lot of all those old Steel Samurai episodes Maya forced him to watch, so it was almost nostalgic in a way, except the special effects and costumes were way better now and even the writing wasn’t too corny. He reached forward for the remote as the episode ended, readying to start the next, but Maya shifted against him and let out a low groan.

“Stop moving around so much, Nick,” she mumbled. “I’m trying to sleep.”

He sat back. “You’re not going to be able to sleep through the night if you sleep any longer now. You’re missing your show.”

“I’ve already seen all of the episodes though,” she said, lifting her head from his shoulder and letting it roll onto the back of the couch instead. “Do you get what’s going on? Do you like it?”

“Surprisingly, I'm enjoying it.”

She opened her eyes sleepily to look at him. “Please, you’ve always secretly enjoyed the Samurai series. Just admit it already.”

“Never. I only do it for you, because I love you.”

“Pfft. Such a romantic.”

“You know it.”

She moved her hand to one of his and ran her fingers over his knuckles. “Do you wanna go to bed now?” she asked.

He leaned down to nuzzle her hair. It smelled like green apple shampoo. “Are you tired? Or did you have something else in mind?”

She moved back to smile at him but shook her head. “No… I just want to go to sleep. I’m tired tonight.”

A look of concern passed over his face. It was only just after 9 pm. Maya never went to bed early, and she was certainly never the first one to suggest they turn off anything TV related just to go to bed. “Are you okay? You’re not sick are you?”

“No. I just had an early day today. And I appreciate the flowers and the tickets and everything, I’m just… not in the mood now.”

“Hey, that’s fine,” he said, turning his hand to entwine fingers with hers. “Bed it is. I have to go to the Prosecutor’s Office tomorrow anyway so I should probably make it an early night too.”

She got up and stretched. “Are you going to visit Edgeworth?”

“Uh, yeah, Edgeworth.”

“Hm. That’s nice. Maybe I should come with, I haven’t seen him for a while.”

“No!”

She scrunched her eyebrows together. “What? Why not?”

“Just uh… you know… we talk about… guy stuff.” He stood up and began following her up the stairs to the bedroom.

Maya snorted. “No offense, Nick, but you and Edgeworth aren’t exactly the most manly of men. What ‘guy stuff’ do you two talk about? Don’t you sit and drink tea and try to beat him at chess?”

“Hey, I am manly. Edgeworth, not so much. I just do what he wants to do. If he wanted to sit around and talk about cars or women or whatever, we would.”

“You don’t know anything about cars.” She turned to raise an eyebrow at him. “And women? Really?”

"Well, maybe not women. I mean of course I would talk about you to him,” he said, flashing her a grin. “But the only girl in Edgeworth’s life is his dog.”

Maya gasped. “We should get a dog, Nick!”

“No,” he said right away, holding the door to the bedroom open for her and then closing it behind them. “I said no to Trucy’s rabbits, I said no to Pearl’s kitten, and I’m saying no to your dog.”

“Aaaw, but Nick—“

“Nu uh, no animals. Besides we’re trying to have a baby. We shouldn’t get a pet while we’re trying to have a kid.”

She huffed and dropped onto the edge of the bed. “Yeah, if I ever manage to get pregnant,” she mumbled.

He stopped in the middle of unbuttoning his shirt and furrowed his eyebrows at her. She was casually going about untying her robes for bed. “Maya. What do you mean by that?”

She slipped her robes from her shoulders and walked across the room in just her bra and panties to pick a nightgown out of her drawer. She took her bra off with her back to him and slipped the nightgown over her head. “Nothing. Never mind.” She sighed. “I guess I just thought it’d be easier,” she said, sitting back down on the bed.

He sat down beside her and put a hand on her shoulder. “Hey. I haven’t told you this yet but… I’ve been reading up on pregnancy a lot lately, you know, to prepare, because I don’t want you to go through it alone. And all the books I’ve read say it can take up to a year to get pregnant once you start trying. It’s only been a few months for us, so don’t worry about it, okay?”

“Really?”

“Yeah. It’ll happen. Try not to stress about it, that’ll only make it worse.”

“Do you think I could borrow whatever books you were reading? It might make me feel better.”

“Of course. I’ll go back to the library tomorrow and check them out again. And Maya, please don't keep stuff like this to yourself. You can talk to me if there's anything bothering you, you know."

She leaned over to kiss him lightly, bringing up her hand and running her fingers along his chest through his open shirt. "Thanks, Nick."

He smiled against her kiss when her fingers moved to unbutton the rest of his shirt. “I thought you said you were tired?”

“Maybe I’m not so tired after all.”

Chapter Text

April 20th, 2029, 3:00 PM
Trucy Wright’s Car

Trucy glanced at her father from the driver’s seat of her used (but new to her) yellow Volkswagen Beetle as she turned the car onto their road. Phoenix was staring out the passenger’s side window, with his hands clasped together in his lap and one leg bouncing up and down anxiously. He was getting more and more fidgety the closer they got to the house.

“Daddy… Are you nervous?”

Phoenix turned to look at her. “Huh? What?”

She looked at him again. “I said, are you nervous?”

“Nervous with you driving, yes,” he said. “Eyes on the road, please, Truce.”

She turned her attention back to the road in front of her. “You know what I meant. I don’t even need my mom’s bracelet to be able to tell right now.”

He sighed. He never could hide anything from his daughter, even when she was little and hadn’t fully realized the power of her perception, she always seemed to know when something was bothering him. It was half reason he even told her about his proposal plans in the first place. He couldn’t keep it from her. “Yes, of course I’m nervous,” he told her.

“Why?” She sounded truly curious.

“Well, just because. It’s a pretty big decision and everything…”

The house was in view, so Trucy concentrated on pulling the car into the driveway. She made sure to set the parking brake before Phoenix could remind her that the car could roll down the driveway and into the street to kill someone without it, and then turned to him. She reached over to place her hand over his fidgeting ones, giving them a squeeze. “Maya loves you, Daddy, so don’t worry. You’ll do great.”

He smiled. “Thanks, Truce.”

She pecked him on the cheek, then grabbed her bag from the back seat and climbed out of the car. “So are you really going to see that Plumed Punisher movie first?”

Phoenix shrugged. “You know Maya. Twenty-eight years old but still loves her kid’s shows. I’ve heard it’s pretty good though. Besides, it is our anniversary, so I had to do something good.”

Trucy giggled. “I’m almost worried she’s going to enjoy the movie more than the proposal though.”

Phoenix grinned. “Yeah, well if she does, at least I did one thing right.”

“You still have the ring, right?” Trucy asked him in a hushed voice.

He patted his pants pocket. They’d just gone to the jewellery store to pick it up. That was another advantage of letting Trucy know. Now that she could drive, she was like his personal chauffeur. He’d decided to pick up the ring the day of so that Maya wouldn’t find it. Trucy had begged to see it but he refused; Maya would be the first person to lay eyes on it.

Trucy nodded. “Don’t lose it! And make sure she doesn’t see it when you change.”

“I will.”

They entered the house together, and Trucy made her way straight to the living room to turn the TV on. Phoenix headed upstairs to his and Maya’s bedroom. If they wanted to make the movie on time, he’d have to shower and change quickly.

He opened the bedroom door halfway, only for it to be shoved back into his face. “Ow…” He rubbed his face, hoping that wouldn’t leave a mark.

“Mr. Nick!” Pearl’s muffled voice came through the door. “Don’t come in! Mystic Maya is getting changed!”

“Pearls… You know it’s nothing I haven’t seen before, right?” he said through the door, trying to open it again. Pearl must have had her back against it, because it didn’t budge. She was still so deceptively strong despite how petite she was.

“Nick! Don’t tell her that!” Maya called.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay, Mystic Maya,” he heard Pearl say. “I’m 18 now, I’m not a kid anymore. Obviously I know what goes on between people who love each other as much as you and Mr. Nick do! Especially when they’re trying to have a baby…” Phoenix could just imagine her covering her face with her hands to hide her blush.

He leaned against the wall beside the door, waiting. “I need to get ready, too, Maya,” he called. “If we don’t hurry we might miss the movie…”

“I know, I know!” she called back. “I’m almost done, but you can’t rush perfection. Don’t worry, we are not going to miss this movie, Nick.”

After a few minutes of tapping his foot and checking his watch, Pearl finally opened the door with a flourish. “May I present the beautiful Master Maya?”

Maya stepped out of the room from behind Pearl. “How do I look?” she said, twirling in place to let the skirt of her sleeveless dress fan out around her. It was such a deep, dark blue that it almost looked black, with a high front neckline that crossed in an X pattern over her chest and tied in a ribbon at the back of her neck to keep it up. It cinched at the waist, giving her a curvier look, and the back was low cut, but Maya’s long hair, which was down straight from her usual topknot, covered most of her visible skin. Black high heels made their height difference less noticeable.

Phoenix stepped forward to wrap his arms around her waist. “Beautiful as always,” he smiled. “But why a dress? It’s just a movie.”

She shrugged. “It’s still our anniversary and we’re still getting dinner after the movie. I thought I’d dress up.”

“I like it. Except you’re kind of showing me up.”

Maya absentmindedly stroked the shining attorney’s badge on his lapel with a finger. “Nah. We compliment each other. We look good together.”

Pearl, who was still standing in the hallway, cleared her throat. She did love seeing those lovey-dovey moments between her guardians, but they had more important matters to attend to at the moment. It was their anniversary, and the last thing Pearl wanted was for it to be anything but perfect.

They pulled away from each other at hearing her and looked in her direction shyly. “Sorry, Pearls,” Phoenix said.

Maya started pushing him towards the bedroom door. “Go get dressed or whatever you have to do. Just don’t take too long.”

“Right. I’ll be quick.” He was secretly glad Maya stayed out in the hall with Pearl. It made it easier to change without the risk of Maya finding the box in his pocket.

Out in the hallway, Pearl was fussing over Maya’s hair and dress.

Maya waved her away. “It’s fine, Pearly. Thank you.”

Pearl took a step back. Ever since she’d blurted out Phoenix and Maya’s family plans in front of the Kurain Elders, she tried to distance herself when she felt like she was getting too annoying. “I’m sorry, Mystic Maya. I’m just so excited for you. I can’t believe you and Mr. Nick have been together so long already. How many years is it now?”

“I’m surprised you haven’t been keeping track, Pearly,” Maya teased. She put a finger to her chin. “Let me think. We don’t really know our real anniversary day, but from sometime in 2020 to 2029… So about nine years.”

Pearl covered her face in her excitement. “Wow, Mystic Maya. You’re so lucky.”

“Yeah… I really am.”

“Want to go wait for Mr. Nick downstairs?”

Maya nodded at her suggestion. “Yeah, let’s go.” 


Maya was perched on the arm of the couch beside Trucy when she heard Phoenix coming back downstairs. She got up to meet him at the bottom. “Now you’re showing me up,” she said. “Have I ever told you you look good in black?”

“Probably at some point,” he answered. He’d forgone the blue suit for black dress pants and blazer, though the dress shirt he had on underneath was still a dark blue. He wasn’t wearing a tie or his badge.

Maya ran her fingers along the lapels of the blazer. “It almost makes me want to skip the movie and just stay here with you,” she whispered to him. “Upstairs. All night together…”

He inclined his head slightly towards her. “Doing what?”

She smiled. “I think you could hazard a guess.”

“Then what would’ve been the point in getting all dressed up?”

She shrugged. “Taking everything off again, nice and slowly—”

There was an over exaggerated cough from behind them, and both turned to see the two girls staring at them. Maya managed to look embarrassed.

Trucy waved at them. “You two need to get going or you’re really going to be late.”

“Alright,” Maya said. “Don’t get into any trouble, you two.”

She turned and headed towards the door. Phoenix made to follow. “See you later Pearls, Trucy.” He noticed Trucy smile at him and mouth ‘good luck’. He nodded at her and followed Maya out the door.

Maya took his hand as they walked down the driveway. “So how are we getting there? Did you rent a limo or something?”

Phoenix snorted. “Uh, no.” He pointed down the road a bit and Maya could see a yellow dot heading their way.

“A taxi? Really?”

“Yeah, I called them earlier so they had time to get here.” Maya stuck her lip out. “What? Did you forget that neither of us can drive? I wasn’t about to have Trucy chauffeur us around on our anniversary and limo rentals are way too expensive.”

“You need to get your licence, Nick,” she stated.

“You need to get yours,” he countered.

She stuck her tongue out playfully as him as the taxi pulled up to the end of their driveway. He opened the back door for her. “After you.”

“Why thank you, sir.”

She slid into the back seat as gracefully as she could. Phoenix followed her in and gave their destination to the driver.

“You two going somewhere fancy?” he asked from the front seat.

“Just the movies,” Maya said. “But it’s our anniversary so we thought we should look nice!”

“I think you’re the prettiest gal I’ve given a ride to today,” was the reply.

Maya smiled politely as he pulled away from the curb. Phoenix leaned over to her. “And you’re all mine.”

She punched him lightly on the leg. “Shush.”


When they climbed out of the taxi at the theatre, Maya broke for the snack bar line right away. Phoenix followed her. By now he was used to spending approximately $50 every time they went to the movies, since Maya always needed a large popcorn, large drink, one of the expensive bags of candy, and usually wanted real food like a hot dog or nachos to go with it. The theatre was even selling limited edition, reusable drink cups for an extra $10, which he hadn’t even bothered trying to talk her out of. He would simply stick with sneaking bites from her popcorn bag when he could. When both of their arms were full with food, they finally made their way to the line into the theatre.

“Wow. I’m kind of surprised there’s not more kids here,” Phoenix observed, looking around at the other people in the line. Most of them were adults around Maya’s age or a little younger, but most definitely all twenty-somethings.

Maya nodded. “Well, the Steel Samurai was a big thing for a lot of kids when it originally aired back in 2016. Everyone who loved it back then has grown up, so it’s kind of a big deal that a show like The Plumed Punisher is coming to theatres here in the U.S. It’s nostalgic for a lot of people, I think, but there are some like me who never really grew out of the Samurai series. I know The Plumed Punisher isn’t technically affiliated with The Steel Samurai, but they’re pretty similar and the Samurai series isn’t as popular anymore, so a lot of fans have started watching The Plumed Punisher instead.”

Phoenix nodded at her explanation and gazed around. “A lot of people are dressed up, too.”

“Yeah. I thought about trying to get you to cosplay but I decided to spare you.”

“Thank God,” he said.

Maya attempted to nudge him with an elbow without spilling her popcorn. She just barely managed to rub elbows with him. “Shush. You loved it that one time, just admit it.”

“What time?” he said, not meeting her eyes.

“We went to that convention! Remember you told Trucy we were going on a romantic mini-vacation?”

“Oh yeah,” Phoenix said, rolling his eyes. “I wish I hadn’t been lying, to be honest.”

“Well, once we save up some more money after buying the house, we should be able to go on a real romantic vacation,” Maya said, smiling up at him. In his head, all Phoenix could think was that would hopefully be happening sooner rather than later, when they went on their honeymoon. “But you looked so good in that Steel Samurai costume!” Maya said, going back to the subject of Steel Samurai. “I wish we still had it. I could think of some good uses for it.”

“What happened to it anyway?”

“I don’t know. I always assumed you got rid of it without telling me.”

“I don’t remember doing that. I might have hated it but I knew how much you liked it. You’re sure it’s not at Fey Manor in one of the storage rooms or something?”

“No…” Maya pursed her lips as she thought, then realization dawned on her face. “Oh wait. We had to throw it out. It got dirty and it couldn’t be cleaned.”

“Huh?”

“Remember? During the con? Some little kid saw you take the mask off and threw his chocolate milkshake on you because you weren’t the real Steel Samurai. It made a huge stain.” Maya smiled fondly. “But you were so good about it. You convinced him that you were the real Steel Samurai and he had to keep your identity a secret, even though really, the Steel Samurai doesn't have a secret identity. He still believed you though.”

Phoenix smiled. He remembered that now, how could he have forgotten? “Well, I was with the Pink Princess. That was convincing enough for him, and you were great too.”

“That was one of those times that I realized how much I loved you, you know,” she admitted.

He raised his eyebrow as he stared down at her. “Because I convinced a little kid I was the Steel Samurai?”

She nodded. “Yep. It seems weird, I know.”

“With you, it’s not that weird.”

Maya would have smacked him if her arms weren’t full. Instead she stuck her tongue out at him. The line they were standing in had been moving steadily throughout their conversation and they were nearing the front now. Maya shifted her food into one arm, balancing everything carefully so she could reach into Phoenix’s pocket for their tickets. She held them out to the attendant at the front of the line, who ripped them and handed them back before pointing them in the direction of the correct theatre.

Maya quickly made her way into the theatre and up the stairs to her favourite spot for movies, about three rows down from the top and right in the middle. They both plopped into their seats, relieved at finally being able to put their food down.

They talked in hushed whispers throughout the previews, but when the movie started, Maya shushed him. He had ended up watching the rest of the Plumed Punisher series before the movie, so he was completely caught up and managed to pay almost full attention. The only times his attention wasn’t on the movie, it was focused on Maya. He loved watching the emotions on her face as she watched. The movie was action packed but there was an underlying emotional plot to it as well, and even a little romance. Maya turned and caught his eye during the climactic kiss between the Plumed Punisher and her love interest and leaned over to peck him on the lips at the same time, then went right back to paying attention to the movie.

He watched the rest of it quietly as well, paying more attention so he could talk to her about it after. Maya loved to talk about movies after leaving the theatre, so he had to be sure he could follow along with her crazy theories and ideas for sequels.

When the movie had finally ended and the credits were rolling, Phoenix leaned over to her. “I’m going to go ahead of the rush and wait for you outside the theatre, okay?”

Maya pouted. “What if there’s an after credits scene?”

He sighed. “You can tell me about it. They’re never any longer than a minute or so, I won’t miss much.”

“Okaaaay, fine.”

He squeezed her hand and gathered up some of their garbage, then headed out of the theatre. He threw all of their garbage out and once he was back in the main lobby and into the light, he took out his cell phone.

There were four different messages. He scrolled to Athena’s first, since he was actually expecting hers.

Athena Cykes 4:34 PM
Hey Mr. Wright. I’m visiting my friend for the night and I’ll be sleeping there, so the office is all yours for tonight. ;)

Was it weird to make a winky face right there? Sorry if it was.

Anyway, everything looks perfect, so good luck! I can’t wait to see that ring…

He shot a quick thank you back to her, and assured her that the winky face wasn’t weird even though really, he did think it was kind of weird. But Athena was becoming more and more like a close friend rather than employee, so he supposed it was fine.

He scrolled through the other three messages.

Pearls 4:55 PM
MR. NICK TRUCY TODL ME WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO TONIGHT I CA’T BELIEVE YOU DIDNT TRUST ME ENOUGH TO TRLL ME! I CAN’T WAIT FOR YOU TO GET HOME! PLEASE LET US KNOW AFTER YOU’VE POPPED THE QUESTION! I REALLYWANT TO SEET THE RING!!! I BET IT’S BEAUTIFUL1!

Phoenix actually laughed out loud at that. Trucy must have decided to tell her after they’d left, since there was no way she could accidentally blurt it out to Maya anymore. When he scrolled to the next message down, that thought was confirmed.

Trucy 5:00 PM
Sorry daddy. :P I told Pearl what you were planning and she kind of freaked out. I hope everything is going well so far. You’re probably not even out of the movie yet. Please call us when you can.

He decided not to send a reply to either of them. They would both have to wait until the end of the night to find out anything. Leaving them in suspense was kind of fun.

He was surprised to find the last message was from Edgeworth. It was simple enough:

Miles Edgeworth 5:05 PM
Did you do it yet?

Phoenix tapped a reply, just as simple:

No, not yet. We’re getting there.

At least that would give Edgeworth some idea of how the night was going so far. He tucked his phone back into his jacket pocket before he got any replies. He didn’t want Maya to ask him who he was texting. The phone was out of sight just in time, as Maya and the rest of the more hardcore fans who’d sat through the credits were making their way out of the theatre.

Maya scanned the crowd and found him standing to the side. She made her way over and wrapped her arms around his torso. “Thank you so much for getting those tickets, Nick,” she said. “The movie was awesome.”

He hugged her back. “Hey, you’re pretty easy to please. I consider myself lucky.”

“Hmph!”

“So, was there anything after the credits?”

She pulled away and shook her head. “Sadly, no.”

“So you waited all that time for no reason.”

“Better to be safe than sorry, I think,” she said, nodding sagely. “Anyway, I’m starved. What restaurant are we going to?”

“How are you starved after eating all of that junk in the theatre?” Phoenix said, rolling his eyes. “I thought we could go for a walk somewhere before eating. It’s still pretty early after all.”

“Alright, I guess. Where were you thinking?”

He shrugged. “Nowhere in particular. Let’s just walk.”


April 20th, 2029, 6:36 PM
Downtown L.A.

“It’s nice out tonight, isn’t it?”

Phoenix nodded, readjusting his grip on Maya’s fingers. “Yeah. Not too hot, not too cold.” Maya giggled and he looked down at her curiously. “What?”

“Are we really talking about the weather?”

“Hey, you were the one who started this conversation.”

Maya promptly changed the subject. “Can you believe we’ve known each other for twelve years already? Never mind us actually being together, but just being friends. Twelve years, Nick. I’ve known you for almost half of my life.”

A smile tugged at his lips. “It’s been fun, right?”

“Yeah. I can’t even imagine how boring my life would have been if I hadn’t met you. Assuming I even got off the first murder charge, the Elders would have kept me trapped in Kurain Village, and I would have had no reason to ever leave anyway. I would have spent all my time training and channeling instead of hanging out with you and getting to go to all the fun places we’ve gone.” She smiled up at him. “The best part of everything though has always been helping you in court.”

“Really? Out of all the amusement parks and circuses and movies and everything we’ve done, and investigating murders and going to court are your most fond memories?”

“Of course,” she confirmed. “At first it was because you sort of reminded me of my sister, and it was comforting. Then after that it just started to feel good, knowing we were helping people. Well, you were doing most of it, but I got to witness it.”

“You helped me out a lot more than you give yourself credit for, Maya,” he told her.

“I know, I know, I channeled Mia a lot for you.”

“Well that, but not just that. Just having you around as a second pair of eyes was helpful, or to bounce ideas off of. You could seriously be a detective or even a lawyer yourself if you ever wanted to go to school for it.”

“Really? Hm. I never really thought about it before.”

“You’d be good at it.”

Maya smiled. “Maybe, but I don’t think that’s in my future. I’m committed to Kurain now. Aside from that, all else I want to be is a mother.”

“Soon,” Phoenix reassured, remembering her stresses about it a few weeks ago.

“Yeah. Do you think we’ll have a boy or a girl?”

“I have no idea. I kinda hope it’s a boy though.”

“What? How come?”

“I already have two girls, plus you. I need another boy in the house,” he said, smiling down at her playfully.

“Pfft, Nick.”

“Haven’t I already said, Maya?” he continued more seriously. “It won’t matter to me at all. I’ll just be happy.”

“Yeah. Me too.” She looked up from the sidewalk. “Hey, where are we?”

Phoenix looked around as well. They’d wandered to an area of town that was quieter than the rest, though there were still a few people here and there, mostly couples like the two of them. Beside the sidewalk was a wrought iron fence leading to an open gate. They stopped in front of it to read the sign.

Maya grinned. “It’s Gourd Lake! We haven’t been here in so long, I didn’t recognize it in the dark.”

“Wow, it looks different,” Phoenix said.

“It’s nicer,” Maya observed. “The city must have decided to clean it up for tourists again. You haven’t seen any Gourdy sightings on TV lately have you?”

“Not that I can recall. That brings back memories though.”

“Yeah, it really does. That was only our second case together, I think? And it was Mr. Edgeworth you had to defend.”

“Mhm. Remember the boat shack and Yanni Yogi? He kept calling us Keith and Meg.”

Maya laughed. “Oh yeah! That was really weird. He was a good actor when you think about it.”

“He’d been putting on that act for fifteen years by then. It’s no wonder he was good at it.”

“Let’s go in,” Maya said, pulling on his arm. “Let’s see if it’s still there.”

“The boat shack?”

“Yeah!”

“Why? If I recall correctly, you said it creeped you out.”

Maya waved a hand. “That was twelve years ago, Nick. I think I’ll be fine now.”

“Ladies first then,” he said, gesturing for her to lead.

Together they walked through the gate into Gourd Lake. The woods had been cut back a bit, but there was still a thicket of trees they had to walk through before they reached the picnic area. A gazebo had been erected there, and there were no more food stands or giant inflatable Steel Samurai balloons. There were a few people milling about, some fishermen at the lake’s edge, and a family at the gazebo having a picnic. Maya pulled on his arm in the direction of the old boat shack.

They walked down a path through another patch of trees. There were no signs anywhere advertising any sort of boats for rental, so Phoenix doubted the shack was still there, or if it was, it would be abandoned and decrepit. When they made it out of the trees, Maya pointed.

“Aaw, it is gone.” The old shack where Yanni Yogi had lived was indeed gone, but in its place was a new dock reaching out over the lake, but there were no boats attached to it. “Let’s go sit at the dock, Nick,” Maya suggested, still pulling on his arm.

They walked to the end of the dock together where Maya slipped off her shoes and sat down on the edge. The water was too low and the dock too high for either of them to get their feet wet, but she didn’t want to lose her high heels in the water. Phoenix sat beside her, and she shifted over so they were side by side.

“It’s kind of romantic, even if we did have to investigate a murder here once,” she said.

“It is. The sun will set soon too. Want to wait for it?”

Maya nodded and leaned against him, sighing. “I remember when we first came here I admitted to you that I’d never been on a boat before, and you said we should go on one after the case. Even back then when we hadn’t even known each other for long you were thinking of me.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t actually end up going on one.”

“Not until Gatewater Land. That was fun, but Pearly kind of ruined the mood by pointing out how romantic it was every ten seconds.”

Phoenix chuckled. “Yeah. Pearls really did more harm than good to our relationship back then, I think, not that I would ever tell her that. We’d just get embarrassed every time she said anything and for me at least, it made me think about it too much and I’d convinced myself that she was wrong. If she had kept quiet things might have progressed a little faster. Maybe I would have realized sooner.”

“It was sort of the opposite for me,” Maya admitted. “Every time she’d say something like that I’d get embarrassed because I really did have a big crush on you and Pearly knew it. She was right about how I felt, but you always just thought it was all in her head, and I could never admit anything else.”

He shrugged. “Things worked out, so I guess it doesn’t really matter now.”

“Yeah.” Maya felt for his hand and entwined her fingers with his. “Do you believe in fate, Nick? Or soulmates?”

He sighed. “I don’t really know, Maya. I don’t like to think that Mia died just so we could meet, that seems cruel. But I think we were supposed to meet, just that it could have happened anywhere, anytime. We were just unlucky.”

Maya hummed. “But if you think about it, we’re luckier than most. I lost my sister and you lost your mentor, but even though she’s gone, we can still talk to her. That makes it easier.”

Phoenix nodded. “I guess you have a point.”

Maya turned her head to look out over the water. The sun was getting lower in the sky and the orange glow was bouncing off the lake now. “We should have Pearly channel her again soon. It’s been a long time since we last saw her.”

“The last time I talked to her, I was freshly disbarred and we weren’t even together yet. I wonder what she’ll think.” He thought back to that night. That was the last time he’d asked her for help of any kind. He’d done the rest by himself. Even then, Mia had teased him about how close he and Maya were becoming. He wondered if she had known even then what was going to happen between them.

Maya snickered. “Who knows.”

They were quiet after that, listening to the soft lapping of the waves on the shore beneath them and the birds chirping above them in the trees, until Maya shifted. “Okay, now that it’s getting dark out it is getting kind of creepy again. It’s only romantic in the daytime and during the sunset.”

She moved back from the edge of the dock and stood up. Phoenix followed her and held out his arm to help her balance while she stepped back into her shoes. “We should get to the restaurant too,” Phoenix said. “It’s getting later, but I also don’t want you wilting away to nothing since you haven’t eaten for a full two hours.”

Maya laughed. “Yeah, if I don’t eat soon I might disappear.”


April 20th, 2029, 9:04 PM
Wright Anything Agency

Their dinner was relatively uneventful, besides Maya deciding to get a salisbury steak instead of t-bone or a regular burger. She teased him about his same old order of chicken and salad, and they spent the rest of the time eating and chatting casually about the past twelve years, remembering cases, clients, and witnesses that neither of them had thought about for a long time.

After dinner, Maya began to hail a taxi, but Phoenix took her by the hand to walk again. She sighed. “Nick, where are we going now?”

“The office,” he stated plainly. It wasn’t far, only down the road. The restaurant they’d been at was their favourite for a reason, it was close to the office and it was somewhere they’d both been to plenty of times throughout the years.

“Why do you have to go to the office? I want to go home. Our anniversary night isn’t done yet,” Maya said, wiggling her eyebrows at him suggestively.

He rolled his eyes. “Yeah yeah, hold your horses. I need to get something, okay?”

Maya crossed her arms as she followed him down the road. “You’d usually be the one rushing me home once I mentioned sex.”

“Maya,” he laughed. “We have all night for that. This won’t take long.”

When they made it to the building they entered quietly and rode the elevator to the second floor after Maya complained of having to walk up a flight of stairs in heels. She waited for him to unlock the door and followed him into the darkened office. “I can’t see, Nick,” she whined.

He flicked on the overhead lights. “Happy?”

“Yes…” she muttered, stepping further into the office. She got quiet when she noticed how tidy the office was. Trucy’s magic props scattered around and on the piano were put away out of sight, and the red cover had been removed from it. The couches and table had been pushed away to make room for the piano bench, and on top of it only the old candelabra still sat, along with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

Maya looked to Phoenix for an explanation. “Nick, what is all this? Why is everything so… clean? Did Athena get tired of walking through Trucy’s mess?”

“No,” he said, taking her hand and leading her across the room where he gestured for her to sit on the piano bench. He turned the lamp on his desk on, then switched the overhead lights back off. Moving back to the piano, he picked up the matches that had been left near the candelabra and lit the candles. They were more for the mood than an actual light source. The lamp on his desk provided just enough light that he would be able to see what he was doing.

Maya watched him silently until he finally sat down beside her. By now she knew that something was going on, but what she had no clue. As far as she could tell, this was just another part of their anniversary date.

“Want some wine?” Phoenix asked, reaching up to the glasses and the bottle on top of the piano. “Edgeworth suggested it, so it should be good. He knows all about that stuff.”

Maya nodded. “Sure.”

He managed to uncork the bottle without making a mess, and poured them each a glass. Maya sipped at it. It was some sort of fruity tasting wine, possibly a plum flavour. She didn’t have much of a taste for regular red wine, so she appreciated Edgeworth’s suggestion.

“Are you going to play me a concert?” she teased after she’d set her glass back down. “I’m not sure I want to hear it. Last time I heard you play, it was terrible.”

Phoenix made a sad face at her as he placed his own glass back on top of the piano, but couldn't hide his smile for long. He would be the first to admit that he was a terrible piano player, so he didn’t mind the teasing insult, but he hoped he could surprise her this once. “Actually, I’ve been practicing.”

Maya raised her eyebrows. “Wait, you really are going to play something?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

A smile slowly stretched across her face, and she placed a hand on his arm. “Okay. I was kidding before. If you’re being serious, then of course I want to hear it.”

He nodded and took a deep breath. He was nervous. It was a strange feeling, being nervous. It wasn’t something he usually felt, whether he was in court or even back when he was still the pianist at the Borscht Bowl Club. He was terrible at it, but his real job was down in the Hydeout, so he never cared enough to get nervous playing in front of people back then. But playing in front of Maya, after practicing for hours upon hours with a decidedly tough teacher specifically for this night was different.

He’d lifted his hands to the keys where they hovered, and Maya sensed he needed space or at least complete control of his arms, so when he hesitated, she laid her hand on his knee instead. “Go ahead, Nick.”

With that final nudge from her, he started. He heard Maya take in a quiet breath of surprise when he didn't immediately hit the wrong key. Instead his fingers made their way across the keys fluidly, and a melody made its way to Maya’s ears.

She was expecting something slow and romantic, but the song he started to play had a quicker sound. It was almost playful. She watched his hands move across the keys, mesmerized by the sight of it, and the sound he was creating. It was like magic.

When she managed to turn away from his hands to glance at his face instead, she found him staring hard at his hands, concentrating on where to place them. He couldn't read music, so he'd managed to memorize the song. He still hit the wrong keys a few times, it wasn't perfect, but Maya didn't even notice.

The song reached its climax, and to Maya it sounded like it could have been used as the background music during the most important part of an Oscar winning movie. Then the music slowed again, until finally Phoenix stopped, letting the last note fade off.

Maya could only sit in awed silence. He turned to her nervously, thinking it was horrible and she'd hated it, but instead found her smiling. She turned to him, that smile turning into a grin. “Nick, that was amazing.”

“R-Really?”

She nodded enthusiastically and took his hands in hers. “How did you do that? How long did you practice?”

“A few weeks.”

She looked even more surprised. “It only took you a few weeks to learn that song and memorize the whole thing?”

He nodded. “Memorizing it was easier than you probably think.”

She thought for a moment. “I didn't recognize the song though. Not because you were bad, you were great, it just didn't sound like anything I'd heard before.”

“Well, I wrote it, so it's new,” he said, looking down. He didn't know why he felt so shy about admitting that. He hadn't been that confident in it, but Maya seemed thrilled.

“You wrote it?!” she exclaimed. “How?! I didn't know you could read music?”

He shook his head. “I had help. Believe me, it was difficult, but I worked with someone who knew how to read music and he helped me decide what sounded good, and we put it together that way. That's why it was so easy to memorize. I’m not talented enough to do it on my own, but I wanted to do something different for tonight. This is the one and only song I know how to play properly.”

Maya reached up to caress his cheek. “It was amazing, Nick. Thank you. Does this new song have a name?”

He brought a hand up to place over hers, turning his head to kiss her palm. “I was thinking… ‘Maya’s Theme’.” He turned back to her. “Or ‘Maya’s Song’. I wrote it with you in mind. The way you're always so happy and optimistic and how contagious that is. It’s something I really love about you.”

She moved her hand away from his face to take his again, rubbing her thumbs over his knuckles. Phoenix swallowed. If he felt nervous before, now he was really getting nervous. Playing piano in front of her was nothing compared to what he was about to do. He stood up suddenly, his hands slipping from hers, and walked around the piano bench to stand with his back to her.

Maya swung her legs over to the other side of the piano bench so she could follow him with her eyes. She tilted her head curiously. “What's wrong, Nick?”

He took another deep breath to calm himself before turning around to face her again. “Nothing is wrong, Maya,” he said. “Everything is perfect. You're perfect.”

She smiled, still watching him. “You're pretty perfect too, you know.” He was quiet, and Maya quirked an eyebrow. “Why are you over there?”

Another swallow, and Maya could see the Adam’s apple in his throat bob up and down. Something was up, she just didn’t know what. Truth be told, she was getting a little nervous, but she didn’t think he would go through all of this trouble on their anniversary day just to give her bad news.

“Maya, I want to ask you something important,” he finally said, eyes still downcast.

“Okay…?”

“I don’t even know where to start,” he muttered, more to himself than to her. She furrowed her eyebrows while he thought of what to say. After yet another deep breath, he raised his eyes from the floor to look straight at her, and took a step forward so he wasn’t so far from her. She gazed up at him as he stood in front of her, holding out his hands. She raised hers to lay them in his. Then he finally started to speak.

“Maya, I love you so much. I love you more than I ever thought I’d be capable of loving someone. And I wouldn’t say I was unhappy before I met you, but the amount of additional happiness you’ve brought to my life since then is immeasurable. Even before we were… well, us, you were my best friend, and you’re still my best friend.”

Maya’s eyes were beginning to mist up. She didn’t cry that often, but she would always prefer these tears of joy to tears of sorrow, and she wasn’t afraid to let them out.

“You were there for me all throughout my disbarment and never gave up hope even when I did,” Phoenix continued. “You’ve been there for Trucy any time she needs you, which I appreciate more than I can even say. We’ve been through so many hardships… and I mean, a lot of hardships.” She laughed through her tears and nodded, but kept quiet. “But we’ve made it this far, and I want to go farther with you.”

Maya gasped shakily when Phoenix knelt in front of her, hand going to his pocket where he gripped the black velvet box that had been kept there the entire night. The tears that had been building up behind her eyelids during his speech were now spilling over. She rubbed at them, trying to see him through the blur her tears were causing.

“Maya Fey,” he said, slowly opening the box to reveal the ring he’d picked up earlier, “will you marry me?”

Maya could only be described as bawling when she heard him say those words. Her tears were flowing, her hand was clamped over her mouth, but she was nodding frantically.

Phoenix smiled up at her and took her other hand in his. “So that’s a yes?”

“Y-Yes,” she said, her voice cracking. “N-Nick… of course I’ll marry you!”

She flung herself off of the piano bench and into his arms. He managed to stay kneeling and keep the ring safely in one hand, while Maya cried with her arms tightly around his neck, and her face buried in the side of it. He wrapped his free arm around her waist and held her there, trying not to cry himself. Why had he waited so long to do this?

“I don’t know what I’d do without you, Maya,” he said into her ear, her soft hair tickling his cheek. “I don’t want to live my life without you in it, as my partner and my best friend for all the years ahead of us.”

She pulled back just enough to kiss him quickly on the lips, then pressed a bunch of tiny pecks wherever she could. “I…” kiss, “love…” kiss, “you…” kiss, “too…” kiss. “And I feel the same way, Nick,” she said, nuzzling back into his neck when she’d finished with her kisses. “When I met you I had no idea how important you’d become in my life. For the longest time you were the only person I had who I could just talk to as an equal, as a friend… I really needed a friend when I met you. There’s no one I’d want to spend the rest of my life with than my best friend. I’m so grateful I got to fall in love with you.”

Phoenix held her tight against him. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t have words for what he felt in that moment. When Maya lifted her head from his shoulder, she slid a hand from the back of his neck to his cheek, where she brushed away an escaped tear with her thumb.

He sniffed, and held the box up. “Want to put this on?” he asked.

She grinned and pulled him back up to the piano bench with her, where they again sat side by side. She held out her left hand and splayed her fingers to allow him to slide the ring onto her finger. It was a perfect fit.

“I didn’t really get a good look at it before,” she said. “I couldn’t see anything through all my crying. It’s beautiful, Nick. It’s perfect.”

The amethyst Phoenix had chosen was a rich purple, cut in the traditional Princess style and placed in the middle of a thin white gold band. He hadn’t been able to resist the suggested accents of smaller round diamonds on each side of the large amethyst. It looked incredibly delicate on Maya’s finger, but the amethyst was large enough that it caught the eye, and the diamonds sparkled in the light. It had been more expensive than he originally planned on spending, but for Maya it was worth it.

“I am not going to be able to stop staring at this for a long time. I love the gemstone. It’s so different than a regular old diamond ring. It’s an amethyst, right?”

He nodded. “I’m glad you like it. You’ll never believe who helped me with that.”

She tore her eyes from it to look at him. “Who?”

“Adrian Andrews.”

“Oh wow, really? That’s great!” She smiled again. “I guess we can invite her to our wedding.” She curled her hand into a fist and held it against her chest. “Our wedding, Nick.”

“Mm. I know that you’ll keep your last name, but can I please have permission to call you my Mrs. Wright?”

Maya laughed. “I suppose so.”

“You know I almost blurted that out when I proposed? I guess it was the nerves,” he said thoughtfully.

“What?!”

“It crossed my mind. ‘Say ‘will you be my Mrs. Right’ to her, Phoenix, it’ll be funny when you look back on this in twenty years’. But I decided against it.”

Maya snorted. “Nick, you’re such a dork.”

“A dork you’re going to marry.”

She got up to sit back down on his lap instead, and wrapped her arms around his neck again. She leaned in to kiss him, deeply, passionately, and he returned it with just as much fervour, wrapping one arm around her waist to hold her steady and another around her back, reaching up to run his fingers through her hair.

“Do you remember our first time together together?” Maya asked in a moment when their lips weren’t pressed together.

Phoenix opened his eyes to find her looking at him through half lidded eyes of her own. “How could I forget? It was so awkward.”

Maya’s fingers tapped against the back of his neck while she laughed quietly. “Yeah, it really was, but it was still nice. You were my first,” she said, pecking his lips quickly, “and my only. But you’re all I need. All I’ll ever need.” She held up her left hand to look at the ring again, and Phoenix could see the tears swimming in her eyes again.

He rubbed his hand up and down her back before letting it rest on the bare skin where her dress was lower cut. Maya sighed, the feeling of his hands on her skin even innocently made her shiver. She leaned forward, capturing his lips again and pressing her tongue into his mouth to tangle with his. The taste of the wine was still there, giving the kiss a rather sweet taste.

It didn't take long for his fingers to grasp the zipper in the back of her dress and begin tugging it down. Maya pulled away, breathless. “Wait, Nick. What if Athena comes in?”

He shook his head. “She's gone for the night. She knew I was going to propose, she even helped set all this up, so she's staying at a friend’s house tonight, and I don't think anyone else will show up this late.”

“Well then,” Maya said, smirking playfully. “I’m sorry I interrupted. Why don’t you continue?”

He didn’t have to be told twice. He unzipped her slowly and when the zipper had reached its end he ran his fingers over her skin again, stopping on the small of her back. The whole time Maya had been pushing his blazer from his shoulders and had already moved on to unbuttoning his shirt and trying to yank it from where it was tucked into his pants. When she’d finally managed to remove both layers, she leaned back and glanced down at herself, then back up at him.

She didn’t need to say anything for him to know what she meant. He slid his hand up her back under her hair to take hold of the ribbon keeping the front of her dress up and pulled, untying it to let the dress fall from her chest. He made an approving noise and inclined his head to kiss her neck while his hands explored her.

Her own hands were still wrapped around his neck, and she moved them across his shoulders, nails scratching, but not enough to hurt or leave marks. “Nick…” she sighed when his mouth reached a particularly sensitive spot. He hovered there, nipping and licking at her gently, until he heard her moan.

He lifted his head from her chest once he heard that. “Let’s move to the couch,” he suggested in a whisper. “As beautiful as it is I need to see that dress off of you.”

Maya slid off of his lap, excitement filling her whole body. Phoenix was usually quite reserved when it came to intimacy, at least around other people, but when they were alone and the mood turned romantic, he always became a little more lewd. It was never enough to be off putting, she actually found it rather sexy since it was such a change from how he regularly acted, and when he told her how he wanted to see her, how he wanted to touch her, and what he wanted to do to her, it made her desire him even more.

Her dress was still held up at the hips, and she sauntered over to the couches. She shimmied out of the dress, letting it fall to the floor, and kicked off her shoes, leaving her clad in only her underwear. Phoenix watched her appreciatively as he stepped around the couch and took her into his arms.

“Do you think we should stop and save ourselves for after marriage?” Maya murmured, pressing her palms against his chest.

He looked exasperated. “You always say something like that right when things are getting good.”

She snickered but said no more, instead leaning up to kiss him again. Her hands started at his shoulders and made their way down his chest, then stopped on his abdomen. She loved to touch him, to feel him there, so warm and close and at the moment smelling of cologne. She pushed on him gently, forcing their lips apart and him to take a step back. He willingly went where she pushed, eventually falling back onto the couch. Maya wasted no time stripping herself of her last remaining clothing item and climbing on top of him to straddle his waist. She was naked save for the engagement ring. That wasn’t coming off anytime soon.

He pushed a bundle of her hair back over her shoulder and smiled at her lovingly. She shifted her hips against his, and he closed his eyes, the friction almost becoming too much to handle. Maya smiled and pushed his own lock of hair back playfully, pressing it down to try to get it to stay off of his forehead, but it just popped right back into place.

“Maya,” he groaned. She got distracted so easily. “Please.”

Normally she would let him take over, let him ravish and lead her if he wanted, but at the moment she had the high ground so to speak, and she was going to take advantage of it. “I love watching you squirm though,” she said, leaning forward to place a kiss against his collarbone.

“You are naked and beautiful and kissing me and I still have my pants on,” he complained. “I can’t help being squirmy.”

Her kisses continued across his chest, her breath tickling wherever her lips met with his skin. She raised her head again and smiled wantonly. She moved back and slid off of him to the floor, where she knelt in front of him.

“Then let’s remedy that, shall we?”


April 20th, 2029, 10:45 PM
Wright Anything Agency

Even long after they’d made love, the slow caresses and sleepy kisses continued as they lay together under a blanket that had been conveniently left laying over the back of the opposite couch. Maya was resting comfortably on top of him as he reclined against the arm, returning her soft kisses.

When they pulled apart to take a break, she rested her cheek against his chest, nestling her head under his chin and sighing contentedly. He kept an arm around her, stroking her back methodically. She was just  beginning to drift to sleep when she heard Phoenix’s phone buzz.

They both ignored it, saying nothing, but a few seconds later it buzzed again, and then again a few seconds after that, and then again after that. Maya sighed this time not in contentment but annoyance. “Nick, who is texting you at this time of the night?”

He shrugged, seemingly unconcerned with it, but when it buzzed again Maya lifted her head from his chest. He opened his eyes lazily. “Just ignore it.”

“I’m too curious,” she said, pushing herself up and getting off the couch, pulling the blanket with her to wrap around herself.

“Hey!” he protested, sitting up and grabbing his pants from the floor. “It’s gotten cold in here you know.”

Maya giggled and raised her eyebrows at him. “I can see that.”

He rolled his eyes. “Not funny.”

She grinned and strolled over to the piano bench where his shirt and blazer had been left. She bent to feel for the phone. She found it tucked into the inside pocket of the blazer. She tapped the screen and grinned. “Uh, Nick…”

He looked over from where he was attempting to pull his pants back on. “Hm?”

She brought the phone over to him and held it up, trying not to laugh. Some texts were still coming through even as she held it. He squinted at it.

Pearls 10:45 PM
MR NICK DID YOU ASK MTSTIC MAYA YET?!

Pearls 10:46 PM
SERIOUSLY AWHERE AREOY YOU GUYS IT’S GETTING SO LATE! AR YOU ENDGAGED YET?!

Pearls 10:48 PM
Oh wait. I bet I know what you’re up to. I’m sorry for being so nosy.

Trucy 10:50 PM
Sorry daddy. Pearl is getting really worked up, but now I am too! Please hurry and come home or at least call us to know how it went if you’re not going to get home until late!

Miles Edgeworth 10:50
Well, did you do it yet?

Klavier Gavin 10:53
Hello Herr Wright. I hope your plan for tonight has gone off without a hitch. I figured texting at this time, I shouldn’t be interrupting anything. Let me know how it went. I hope she liked the song.

Athena Cykes 10:55
Hey Mr. Wright! I hope everything went the way you planned! Call me tomorrow and tell Maya I really want to see that ring! I bet it’s beautiful.

“Oh my God,” Phoenix muttered.

Maya laughed. “Wow, even Klavier Gavin knew about this?”

Phoenix nodded. “He was the one who helped me with the song and the piano.”

Maya smiled. “I guess he did sort of owe you one.”

“Yeah, but we’re even now, for sure. He was a huge help.”

Maya glanced down at the phone again. “Pearly is going to freak out even more than she already is when I show her this ring. And you’ll have to phone everyone tomorrow to let them know.”

Phoenix had walked across the room to pick up his shirt and was putting that back on as well. “Yeah, I’ll text Edgeworth later but I’ll call Athena and Klavier tomorrow. Pearls and Trucy probably won’t go to bed until we get home, so we should go soon. Pearls didn’t know about this until tonight. Trucy told her after we left, so she’s understandably excited.”

“Who did know? You said Athena, Klavier, and Edgeworth obviously did, right?”

“Yes, they all helped me quite a bit. Trucy was the only other person and I didn’t tell her until more recently, because I needed her to drive me to the city to pick up the ring,” he said, scratching the back of his neck. “I really do need to get my licence.”

“So why didn’t you tell Pearly?”

“I just didn’t want to run the risk of her telling you by accident. You know how excited she gets about stuff like this, and how she blurted out about us trying to get pregnant to the Elders in Kurain. I feel bad for not telling her but I couldn’t risk it. And besides, this is probably just as exciting for her as it is for us anyway, so it was sort of a surprise for her too, I guess.”

“I have to say understand,” Maya said.

“Hey, I was wondering something.”

Maya raised her eyebrows. “Yeah?”

He finished buttoning the top button on his shirt and went about trying to tuck it in again. “I know Pearls is eighteen and all so she’s already an adult but… what do you think about adopting her?”

Maya sat down on the couch, the blanket still wrapped around her. “Wow, really, Nick?”

He nodded and came to sit down beside her once he was finished with his clothes. “I mean, you were her legal guardian after Morgan went to prison anyway but you never officially adopted her. And I’ve always thought about her as a daughter, and a sister to Trucy. I figured, if we’re going to get married, we could make it official.” He smiled as he thought back. “A few weeks ago she asked me if we were ever going to get married, just out of the blue, the way she does, you know? She said that if you and I got married, then me and her would actually be related, and it got me thinking about it. Not that I don’t already think of us all as a family, but I don’t know. I thought it’d be nice to make it official.”

Maya shook her head in disbelief, but when she looked up at him he could see tears shining in her eyes yet again. “I think she’d really love that, Nick. You should ask her though, and whatever she decides, we’ll do.” She grabbed him in a hug. “Jeez, Nick. You have to stop one upping yourself. Every time I think you can’t be anymore amazing you do something like this.”

Phoenix smiled at her. “Don’t say anything to her though. I’ll ask her. I want to.”

“Alright.” She let go of him and got up to stretch one arm into the air, holding the blanket up with the other. “I’m going to go take a fast shower, then we can get going.”

“I guess I’ll uh… clean up in here,” he said. “We always seem to forget that clients come here and sit on these couches.”

Maya giggled. “No one wants to know the things these couches have seen,” she said, grinning at him before walking to the bathroom.


April 21st, 2029, 12:30 AM
Fey-Wright Residence

When the taxi finally pulled into the driveway of their home, Phoenix gently shook Maya, who was asleep on his shoulder. She snuffled and opened her eyes.

“We’re home,” he told her.

She yawned and sat up straight, unbuckling her seat belt to climb from the taxi. Phoenix paid and thanked the driver and waved as the man pulled away. They headed towards the front door together, but they weren’t even able to make it up onto the porch before the front door was flung open, and the smiling faces of their two girls looked out at them.

Pearl rushed them into the foyer. “Well, well?! Mystic Maya?! Did you say yes?!”

Maya laughed. She was tired but Pearl’s excitement was contagious. She nodded and held out her hand. “Of course I said yes, Pearly.”

Pearl gazed down at the ring, her mouth hanging open in wonder, and Trucy clapped her hands together. “Oh wow! It’s even prettier than I thought it would be! Daddy, you have good taste! And it looks so pretty on your hand, Maya!”

Maya wrapped an arm around Phoenix’s waist. “Thanks, Trucy. Your dad does have pretty good taste, surprisingly.”

Phoenix shrugged. “I had a little help at the jewelry store—”

He didn’t get much farther in his sentence before he was interrupted by Pearl, as a sob burst out of her. They all turned to her, surprised at the outburst, and Maya hustled over to gather her in her arms. “Pearly, what’s wrong?”

“N-nothing!” she cried. “I’m just… so h-happy,” she said, burying her face in Maya’s bosom. “We’ll be like a real family,” she said, her voice muffled.

Trucy went over to put a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t cry, Pearl, you’ll make me cry too.”

That just made Pearl sob harder, and Trucy wrapped her arms around Maya and Pearl to hug them both at once, a few tears leaking from her own eyes too. Phoenix watched them, hugging and crying from joy, and smiled.

Pearl finally looked up and untangled herself from Trucy and Maya’s embraces. She wiped at her eyes and turned to address him. “Mr. Nick,” she said. “Thank you for making my Mystic Maya so happy all these years. All I’ve ever wanted was for her to be happy.”

He smiled at her. “She’s made me just as happy, Pearls.” She nodded, more tears beading at the edges of her eyelids. “Pearls, come here,” he said, holding out his arms. She practically tackled him, ramming into him and wrapping her arms around his waist tightly. She pressed her forehead into his chest and he could feel her sniffling again, trying to hold back more tears. “Pearls, I hope you know that we’ve always been a real family.”

She took a deep, shuddering breath. Finally, she pulled away from him and began to wipe at her nose and eyes again. “Thank you, Mr. Nick. I’m sorry for being so emotional,” she said. “I’m just so happy for you both.”

Maya and Phoenix glanced at each other over Pearl’s head. “We’re happy too, Pearly,” Maya said.

Trucy jumped forward, her tears dried up and her normally cheerful self back in high gear. She wrapped an arm around Pearl’s neck. “We’ll be sisters, Pearl!” she said. “This is so exciting! Aaah, I can’t wait for the wedding! Can I perform a magic show, Daddy? Please?”

Phoenix laughed. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Truce. We don’t even have a date picked out yet. Plus it’s late, and Maya and I are beat. We’re going to head to bed. Don’t stay up too late, girls.”

“Good night, you two,” Maya said, giving each of them a hug.

When she was finished, Phoenix wrapped an arm around her shoulders and led her away from the still smiling Trucy and the still sniffling Pearl.


The next few days were filled with congratulations. The news spread rather quickly, with some friends finding out before Phoenix or Maya even had the chance to tell them. Phoenix had texted Edgeworth in the taxi home that night to tell him the good news, and the next day he’d made a call to Klavier Gavin to thank him sincerely for all of his help. Klavier congratulated him and teasingly joked that he would expect a wedding invitation, especially if Herr Forehead was going to be in the wedding. Phoenix assured him he would get one.

He called Athena as well, and she had squealed into his ear over the phone for a solid five seconds before congratulating him. When he went into work the next day, Maya had gone with him, and Athena had squealed even more when she got to finally get a good look at the rock on Maya’s finger.

Detective Gumshoe and Maggey sent them a card and then showed up at the house the next day to congratulate them in person too. Phoenix got all sorts of calls from old clients, some that he hadn’t talked to in years.

They managed to get Apollo and Thalassa on FaceTime, it was early morning for them and late at night for Phoenix and Maya. Apollo congratulated them with one of the loudest Chords of Steel voices Phoenix had ever heard, then got particularly quiet. When asked what was wrong, he wiped hastily at his eyes and denied anything, then abruptly made his way offscreen. Thalassa smiled at them apologetically and congratulated them before ending the call.

Phoenix had even called Larry to give him the news, and Larry had cried and gone on about how it wasn’t fair that Phoenix was getting married first, then asked if he could be the best man. Phoenix had managed to avoid that question by asking Larry about his newest girlfriend, which effectively distracted him.

Maya took great pleasure in going to Kurain Village and shoving her finger in the face of Elder Daisy to tell her that her ‘lawyer boyfriend’ had finally proposed to her and now he was her ‘lawyer fiancé’. Daisy had harrumphed, but the other Elders, especially Rose, congratulated her sincerely. The news spread throughout Kurain Village quickly as well, with people from all over town coming to the manor to congratulate her, and Maya and Pearl took the train into Eagle Mountain to give the news to Iris and Bikini too.

Pearl and Trucy had even surprised them by taking out an ad in the newspaper to announce the engagement once all of their close friends and family had found out. It became surprisingly big news, with both Maya and Phoenix being more famous than either of them ever thought of themselves as being, and people Phoenix didn’t even recognize would congratulate him in the courthouse almost every time he was there.

Neither Phoenix nor Maya were in a rush to get things moving. Maya still wasn’t used to looking down and seeing that beautiful ring on her finger, and neither of them were used to calling the other fiancé(e) yet. They were content to take their time, discussing small things when they had the chance and not worrying too much otherwise.

A few days after the proposal, while they were laying in bed together after a long day or work for both of them, Phoenix had turned over to look at her, and picked up her hand to place a kiss on the top of it. “Maya?”

“Hm?”

“I’m sorry it took me so long to propose to you,” he whispered.

Maya opened her eyes sleepily and turned on her side. She shifted closer to him and wrapped her arms around him, tangling their legs together under the blankets and placing a soft kiss on his neck.

“Nick, I’m the happiest girl in the world.”

She left it at that, and it was all he needed to hear.

Chapter Text

May 1st, 2029, 10:00 AM
Shopping Mall, Downtown L.A.

“Thanks for taking me dress shopping, Maya.”

Maya smiled down at Trucy as they walked through the mall. “You’re welcome. I know you wanted your mom to bring you, but I’m glad I could fill in.”

Trucy nodded as she bounced along beside Maya. “You’re my mom too, Maya. Besides, I didn’t think you’d want to take me which is why I asked Thalassa.”

Maya laughed lightly. She would never admit to Trucy just how jealous and disappointed she'd been when she announced Thalassa would take her. She didn't want to make Trucy feel guilty for wanting to spend time with her long lost mother. “It's no problem. Actually, I'm kind of excited to go since I never had any sort of prom, and neither did Pearly. I think it'll be fun to go shopping for girly stuff, no men or dads to bother us.”

Trucy laughed at Maya’s wink and nudge. “When I graduated eighth grade I had to get a dress for it. My daddy made the lady at the store help me pick it out. I looked terrible because she pretty much let me get whatever I wanted, plus it was one of the cheapest ones they had. He didn't tell me it had to be cheap but I knew money was tight so I didn't want to get something too expensive.”

Maya wrapped an arm around Trucy’s shoulders. Even as a kid Trucy had been so intuitive. “Well today there's no money limit. Your dad gave me his credit card,” she said, grinning.

Trucy’s eyes lit up. “He really said I could get whatever I want?”

Maya pursed her lips. “Not exactly. But don't worry about it, I'll deal with him.” If they really went overboard she was happy to help Phoenix pay back the balance on his card anyway. She didn't want Trucy to have to worry about something like money anymore. “I think his only rule was that it couldn't be too revealing, super short, or too tight.”

Trucy rolled her eyes. “Of course he would say that.”

“We’ll just see what we find. Nick’s just being a typical overprotective dad. You'll be 18 soon so he's going to have to give you some wiggle room when it comes to stuff like this eventually. I will not let him talk you out of wearing make up if you want to, by the way.”

Trucy pumped her first in the air as they neared the store they were aiming for. “Yess! It's so nice to have you on my side.”

“He’s probably just worried about his little girl getting her first boyfriend anyway,” Maya continued teasingly. “Got anyone special, Trucy?”

Trucy only giggled and shook her head no, then grabbed Maya by the hand to pull her into the store.


May 1st, 2029, 10:30 AM
Fey-Wright Residence

Phoenix flipped one of the pancakes over in the pan, careful not to let it stick on top of any of the others. He knew for a fact that Pearl loved having breakfast when she stayed at the house, she’d said more than once that it was one of her favourite things about staying at the house with her family instead of in Fey Manor in Kurain. He wasn’t the best cook, but after years of taking care of Trucy, he wasn’t terrible. At any rate, he made good pancakes. He also knew that Pearl’s favourites had chocolate chips in them, so he’d been sure to add those to the batter despite not really being a fan of them himself.

Pearl entered the kitchen right on cue, as if she knew exactly what he was making and when it would be done. He turned from the stove to smile at her. “Good morning, Pearls. You slept in pretty late today.”

She yawned and rubbed the sleep from her eyes, coming forward to climb into one of the stools at the island counter. “I had a tiring day training yesterday,” she explained. “I was beat, and since it’s the weekend I figured I could sleep in. But when I woke up I could smell something good so I decided to come see what you were making.” She sniffed the air. “Are those pancakes, Mr. Nick?”

He lifted one of them out of the pan on a spatula to set it on a plate. “Yep.”

Pearl stared. “Do those have chocolate chips in them?”

He smiled. “Aren’t they your favourite?”

She nodded, and he put the plate down in front of her once he’d stacked a few on it. He handed over the syrup and the butter before getting his own plate and sitting down beside her. She was already smothering her pancakes in butter and half the bottle of syrup. They ate in silence for a few minutes, but Pearl was related to Maya after all. Despite her small size she could really pack the food away, and she was fast. Her plate was clean before he was even halfway through his.

She sat back with a satisfied sigh. “Thanks, Mr. Nick. Those were delicious.”

“No problem, Pearls,” he said, continuing to cut his up. “So what are you up to for the rest of the day?”

Pearl tapped her chin. “Not much. I have the day off from training, and Mystic Maya and Trucy are out, so I’ll probably just sit around.”

“Why didn’t you go with them?” he inquired.

She shrugged. “I like shopping but I didn’t feel like it. I was too tired to wake up earlier.”

“Makes sense to me,” he said. “Hey, do you want to do something with me today? Maya and Trucy are out and will be out for a while if I know Maya. I gave her my credit card and I’m sort of scared to see the bill later.”

Pearl laughed. “Sure, why not? How are you going to pay for it without your card though?”

“I have some cash, I think. What were you thinking?”

“I’m not sure,” she said, looking up at him and grinning. “Remember that time you took me to the zoo when I was little? It was just you and me.”

“Of course. Maya was busy and basically asked me to babysit you.”

“It was fun,” she said fondly. “But I don’t know if I’d want to go back there. The pony lady thought you were really handsome. I had to tell her off.”

He laughed. “What? I don’t remember that.”

“She didn’t say it to your face. But I remember.”

“Wait, Maya and I weren’t even together at that time.”

Pearl raised an eyebrow. “Exactly. I did you a favour, because if you’d started dating that cowgirl lady you wouldn’t have ended up with Mystic Maya! Your fiancée,” she reminded him.

He rolled his eyes at her. Pearl loved saying that more than he or Maya did. They still accidentally referred to each other as just ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ half the time, but Pearl never forgot.

“Right, right. It’s because you preemptively rejected the cowgirl at the zoo for me that Maya and I fell in love.”

She nodded. “Yep. That’s right.”

He laughed. “Well, no zoo today. How about a movie and dinner after?”

Her eyes lit up. “There’s this new romance out and the lead actor is so dreamy, I’ve been wanting to see it for forever but Trucy wouldn’t go because she said she’s tired of cliché romances.”

Phoenix smiled. “Of course. Well, it can’t be any worse than the dozen or so Steel Samurai movies Maya has made me see, so sure. That’s fine.”

“Yay! Thank you, Mr. Nick!”


May 1st, 2029, 1:00 PM
Shopping Mall Food Court, Downtown L.A.

“Now I get why my daddy hates shopping,” Trucy said, taking a sip from her soft drink.

Maya crumpled up the paper from the burger she’d ordered from the food court. “Aw, come on. You didn’t expect to find the perfect dress in the first store we went to, did you?”

Trucy gave her a look. “We’ve gone to five different stores already. None of them had the one, you know?”

“I get it. Do you know how many wedding dresses I’ve looked at so far? I just can’t find the right one. It doesn’t help that the Elders in Kurain want us to get married there instead, and it’s super traditional. We’d have to wear kimonos and stuff.”

Trucy thought for a moment. “That could be really pretty though.”

Maya wrinkled her nose. “It wouldn’t be terrible but I know Nick isn’t too into it and to be honest, I’m not either. I’d be happy to hold the wedding in Kurain, but I don’t want to be disrespectful to everyone there by not following their traditions.” She sighed. “Honestly, we’re still not sure where it’s going to be. We haven’t even picked a date yet, but your dad keeps saying that we have to have it in the spring or summer. No snow unless I want him to wear his beanie during it.”

Trucy giggled. “Well, it’s only been a few weeks.”

“You’re right about that.” She looked down at the ring on her finger. “I want to just enjoy it for a bit, before getting all serious into the planning. I just couldn’t help looking at dresses. It’s fun.”

Trucy finished off her drink and set it aside. “Well, shall we get on with it?”

Maya nodded. “How about we try looking at specialty stores? These big department stores are okay but we’re doing this sort of late so a lot of the good stuff is gone. A name brand store that sells only formal wear might be better.”

“That sounds good to me!”

They got up to throw out their garbage and made their way thankfully out of the packed mall and into Trucy’s yellow beetle. Maya knew about all of the stores around this part of town that sold formal wear thanks to her wedding dress window shopping, and a few minutes later they pulled into the parking lot of a clothing store called Le Formel.

Trucy laughed at the name before they entered. “That’s really creative.”

Maya raised an eyebrow. “Are you being sarcastic?”

“Nope! It’s so simple that it really is creative.”

“Right. Let's go see if their dresses are as creative as their name.”

As soon as they stepped inside they were greeted by a a woman in a dress that looked more suitable for a ballroom, her neck dripping with diamonds. Trucy gasped. “Your dress is so pretty!”

Maya looked over the woman. So she worked at a formal clothing store, was a ball gown really necessary? She had to hope Trucy wouldn’t try picking out a similar dress. The woman smiled widely at her, giving Maya the impression that she hadn’t had a compliment on the outfit even once before.

“Thank you, young lady! What can I help you with today?”

“I’m looking for a prom dress,” Trucy told her. “We’ve gone to a bunch of stores already and didn’t find anything I liked, so we came here instead.”

“Well, I can definitely help you find something here!” the woman said. “Is this your mother?”

Maya started to say no, but Trucy grabbed her hand. “Yes!”

The woman held out her hand for Maya to shake. “I’m Claire. I’ll be happy to help your daughter find something she’ll love.”

Maya smiled. “I’m Maya, and this is Trucy. That’s great. Let’s get looking then.”

“Do you have any idea what sort of dress you’re looking for, Trucy? We have all sorts.”

“Hm, not really. I like blue and yellow, I guess. Oh!” she held out her wrist. “If you can incorporate my other mom’s bracelet into it, that’d be great.”

Claire raised an eyebrow at the term ‘other mom’, but didn’t mention it. “A gold bracelet like that will go with almost anything. Let’s see what we can find.”


May 1st, 2029, 3:00 PM
Movie Theatre, Somewhere Between LA and Kurain

“Wasn’t that movie great, Mr. Nick?! Isn’t Christopher Evansworth just so handsome?” She sighed. “What I wouldn’t give to marry someone like him.”

Phoenix yawned, turning his head away from Pearl to hide it. “It was great, Pearls.” He gave her a sideways glance. “So, where do you want to eat?”

“Hmm. I don’t know. Do you want to just go home? I’ll cook us something,” she said.

He raised an eyebrow. “Really? You don’t want to just go somewhere?”

Pearl shrugged. “I like being at home when I’m not staying in Kurain. And I’ve been meaning to try this new recipe lately, I think you’d really like it!”

“It’s fine with me,” he said. “Home it is.”

He smiled as Pearl bounced along beside him. It was nice to hear Pearl call it home. His home with Maya and Trucy was where Pearl actually belonged. At home, with her family, not by herself in the large and empty Fey Manor.

They chatted about mundane things as they walked home, only stopping at the grocery store so Pearl could get some of the ingredients she needed for the meal she wanted to cook. When they made it back to the house Pearl made her way straight into the kitchen, telling him to stay out until she was finished.

Phoenix went to the small spare room he called an office and sat down in the swivel chair in front of the old desk. He rifled through some of the files he’d brought from the office, finding the small card he’d purchased and hidden there a few days ago. Maya told him he should get something for the occasion, so he did.

He ran a hand over his face. It was almost as nerve wracking as proposing to Maya, but at least in Maya’s case, he was pretty sure she wasn't going to say no. With Pearl, he really didn’t know. She would talk about wanting to be his ‘real’ family so often, but that didn’t mean she’d automatically agree to his suggestion. He told himself not to let his feelings be hurt if she didn’t. It was her choice.

He tried to work on some of his files while he waited for Pearl to finish dinner, but he couldn’t focus much on it. He ended up sitting with his chin in his hand, staring at the wall and trying to come up with a good way to ask her. In the end, he decided he should just go about it the way he did a lot of things. He’d have to just wing it.

Around an hour later there was a light knock on the door. Phoenix hurriedly slid the card back between his files and told her to come in. Pearl poked her head inside the door. “Dinner’s ready, Mr. Nick. You can come to the dining room now.”

He smiled at her. “Okay. I’ll be right there.”

She left, and Phoenix found the card again, sliding it into his inner jacket pocket before leaving the office to join her.

Pearl had made a delicious looking chicken casserole with scalloped potatoes on the side. There was so much food he knew for sure there’d be leftovers for Trucy and Maya. Pearl had probably done that on purpose.

“It looks great, Pearls,” he told her, sitting down at the end of the table.

She grinned and started spooning the food out onto their plates. She took a seat to his left. “Thanks, Mr. Nick. I’m not a bad cook, if I do say so myself. That’s just because I have to cook for myself all the time when I stay in Kurain.”

“Well, we certainly could use your skills around here more often. You know Maya and I can’t cook.”

“Your pancakes are good though, Mr. Nick!” she said. “And you can make hamburgers.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, only because you and Trucy love pancakes so much, and Maya likes burgers. I’ve had a lot of practice with those two particular things.”

“Maybe you should keep practicing with other foods. You could get a cook book!” She put her hand over her mouth as an idea struck her. “Or I can make you some recipes to try!”

He smiled. “That’d be nice, if you have extra time I certainly wouldn’t mind. Especially on those days you have to stay in Kurain.”

She nodded excitedly. “I’ll be sure to make up some recipes for you before I go back for more training next week.”

After that, they ate in silence. Phoenix was full after his one helping, and sat back with a sigh. “That was delicious, Pearls.”

She was much faster than him and was just finishing her second helping. “Thanks! It did turn out pretty good, huh? I’ll have to be sure to save that recipe as one of the good ones.”

“Good ones?”

She smiled. “Not everything I cook turns out so great. One time I tried to make a lasagna… It was a mess.”

He laughed. “Well, lasagna might not be your forte but casserole certainly is. What other meals do you have planned to try when you go back to Kurain?”

She shrugged. “We’ll see once I get there.” She sat back in her chair and huffed. “I wish I could go back and forth like Mystic Maya does, so I could cook for everyone here and not just myself. I don’t really like staying there all by myself. The manor is so huge and empty, it’s kind of lonely. I’d much rather be here with everyone.”

“Why did you decide to stay at the manor so often?” he asked. “Can’t it be changed into something else, like a museum or something for tourists?”

Pearl sighed. “It’s sort of complicated. For the most part it is being used for tourism now. We’ve changed and upgraded a lot of it so if we have clients coming from out of town it can be used as guest rooms for them to stay in overnight. We still have the channeling chambers too, and even a little gift shop was set up in one of the rooms. But at the same time, it’s been in Mystic Maya’s family for generations. It just doesn’t seem right to completely give it up. Mystic Maya didn’t really mind, but I volunteered to take care of it so she didn’t have to worry, so I am.”

He nodded in understanding. “Thank you, Pearls.”

She looked up in surprise. “Why are you thanking me, Mr. Nick?”

“Because thanks to you, Maya can live here with me without having to worry so much about what’s happening in Kurain. The manor is one thing, but you’re also Maya’s heir until the new laws come into play. Having you in Kurain during the week probably puts her mind at ease. You’re her second-in-command, Pearls, and she knows you can take care of anything that pops up while she’s here.” He paused. “And like I said, Maya and me wouldn’t get to be together as often if not for you.”

Pearl beamed. “I’d do anything for you and Mystic Maya, Mr. Nick.”

“I know you would.” He took a deep breath and let it out in a huff. Their dinner was done, and they’d had fun today. He had to do it now. “Hey Pearls, can I ask you something?”

“Of course!”

“Do you remember a few weeks ago, when you told me that you’d like Maya and I to get married because then me and you would be like real family?”

She nodded.

“Well… I was wondering if you wanted to make it official. Like I already told you, you already are my real family. But I wanted to know if you wanted to make it official in the eyes of the law.”

She tilted her head. “What do you mean?”

He rubbed the back of his neck shyly. “Let me just first say that you don’t need to give me an answer right away. You can think about it, but it would be my honour if you… well, if you would let me adopt you.”

Her eyes widened in surprise, but when she opened her mouth to speak Phoenix held up a hand. “Wait. I know we’ve never really talked about your mother, but by now you must be aware that her parental rights have been terminated, and the fact that you’re already 18 makes it an easier and quicker process. If you give consent, Maya and I can adopt you. You’d be our daughter. I mean, I already think of you as one,” he smiled, “but it’d be official. It’s totally your choice.”

Pearl blinked, trying to hold back her tears. “Y-You really want to adopt me, Mr. Nick?”

He smiled. “Yeah. Like I said; your choice. It’s okay with me if you’d rather not—”

“No!” she said quickly. “No…” She sniffed lightly, a tear starting to slide down her cheek even though she was smiling. “I’d really like that.”

“Really?”

Pearl laughed and wiped her tears. “Why do you sound so surprised? Of course really! It’s something I’ve thought about before… A lot, actually.”

He scooted his chair back some and reached over to squeeze her shoulder. “Me too.”

She threw herself forward, out of her chair and into his arms, squeezing him in a crushing hug. “This means more to me than you know, Mr. Nick,” she said quietly.

He patted her on the back and she pulled away, wiping at her eyes yet again. “After my mother went to prison, you and Mystic Maya were the ones who were always there for me, not anyone else. So this means a lot.”

He smiled at her. “It means a lot to me too, Pearls. Oh!” He reached into his pocket to pull out the card. “Here.”

She looked down in surprise. “You didn’t have to get me a card!”

“Just open it,” he prompted.

She tore the envelope open and pulled out the card. The card wasn’t important but Pearl still took the time to read the cheesy words on the front of it before opening it up. She caught the delicate necklace that was tucked between the pages before it fell. She smiled to herself. It was just a simple gold chain with a tiny heart shaped pendant on it. There was nothing else too remarkable about it, but she still loved it.

She looked up at him. “It’s so pretty, Mr. Nick. You didn’t have to get me anything though. You just asked to adopt me, that was perfect enough.”

“I know I didn’t have to,” he said. “I wanted to though. You deserve it.”

She hugged him again quickly. “It’s small enough that I can wear it with my magatama without it being too much. I’ll never take it off!” she declared, clasping it around her own neck. It hung just slightly higher than the magatama.

She smiled at him. “So should I start calling you ‘dad’?”

He laughed. “Nah. I mean, you can if you want, I guess it’d make sense now. But I’ve gotten pretty used to ‘Mr. Nick’. You’re the only person who calls me that.”

“I think I’ll stick with that then,” she said.

“And obviously, you’ll keep your last name and everything. Even Maya isn’t changing her name when we get married.”

Pearl pursed her lips. “She should change her name, Mr. Nick.”

“You know the Fey women don’t change their names, Pearls,” he said. “You should know it better than me.”

“I know, I know. I just think it’s more romantic when the woman takes the man’s last name.” She grinned. “Speaking of weddings, do you have a date yet? A location? Who’s your best man going to be, Mr. Nick? It’ll be Mr. Edgeworth right? Are you going to invite Apollo? Oh, I can’t wait!”

Phoenix smiled at Pearl’s barrage of questions, finding himself thinking about what it would be like to walk Pearl or Trucy down the aisle at their own weddings, as the father of the bride.


May 1st, 2029, 3:40 PM
Le Formel, Downtown L.A.

Maya tried not to cringe as Trucy walked out of the dressing room in yet another gaudy and ridiculous looking prom dress. This one was blue, so at least Claire had gotten that much of Trucy’s suggestions right. The rest of it was rather hideous. It was big and poofy, like an old fashioned Cinderella ball gown, but not in a good way. It had big puffy shoulders and the skirt fell all the way to the floor where it would drag behind her. It was covered in a layer of glitter and had way too many sequins.

Trucy made a face at Maya before Claire could see her. It clearly revealed her displeasure with the dress. Claire had done Trucy’s hair up in a pink ribbon, and had hung a large silver necklace around her neck. She was also wearing white, elbow length gloves. None of it matched.

Claire didn’t seem to realize this though. She came out of the dressing room behind Trucy and walked around to stand beside Maya where she could admire her creation. “Oh, you look beautiful, Trucy! Don’t you think this one is it? We’ve been here for hours, you can’t say this one isn't the one! We’ve finally found it!” She turned to Maya. “What do you think, Miss Fey?”

“Er… It’s… not bad,” she lied.

Claire looked delighted. “What about you, Trucy?”

Trucy turned to look at herself in the mirror. “You know Miss Claire… to be honest, I’m just not feeling this one either.”

“Oh, why not?” she asked. Her feelings looked a little hurt, but there was no way Maya was going to let Trucy buy this dress just so the sales lady wouldn’t get her feelings hurt.

“I’m not sure,” Trucy said. “It’s just not the one.”

Maya stepped in. “I think we’ll give up the search for today, Claire,” Maya said. “It’s been a long day and we’re both tired. We’ll pick it up again tomorrow.”

Claire frowned. “Are you positive? I’m sure I could find you something.”

“We’re sure,” Maya said, giving Claire an apologetic smile. “You’ve been great, but like I said, we’re tired. So if Trucy could just change back?”

“Oh, alright. But promise me you’ll come back tomorrow so I can help you again!”

Maya nodded quickly. “Sure, we’ll do that.”

Claire smiled at her and led Trucy back into the dressing room to remove the large dress. Once Trucy was back in her regular outfit, they thanked Claire again and hurried out of the store. As soon as the door was shut behind them, Trucy turned to Maya.

“Were you serious about coming back here tomorrow, Maya? I’m not sure how much more of that I could take.”

Maya shook her head. “Of course not. Those dresses were all awful and nice as she was, Claire is not a fashion designer.”

Trucy huffed as they headed for the parking lot where her car was. “I need to find a dress though. Prom is only in a few weeks.”

They got into the car together. Trucy started the engine and made her way out onto the street into traffic. Maya was rather quiet. Trucy glanced at her. “What are you thinking, Maya?”

Maya turned to her. “Would you be up for a bit of a drive, Trucy?”

Trucy shrugged. “I guess so.”

“Let’s go to Kurain then,” Maya said. “I think there may be something there you can try on. If you don’t like it, we’ll go home and pick up the search tomorrow.”

“Sounds good to me.”


May 1st, 2029, 5:50 PM
Fey Manor, Kurain Village

“I think it’s in here,” Maya said, leading Trucy into one of the back rooms in Fey Manor. It appeared to be a storage room full of old furniture and boxes. Maya stepped carefully through the mess to a box with an old label on it. It looked like initials, M.F. She bent down and pulled open the box, waving away the dust in the air before picking through it.

Trucy watched her carefully, wondering what Maya was looking for. Finally, Maya emerged with a bundle of clothing in her arms. She made her way back towards Trucy and back out into the bright hallway. “Remember how I said Kurain was really traditional, so if Nick and I got married here we’d have to wear kimonos and stuff?”

Trucy nodded. “Yeah, and I still think that’d be really pretty.”

“Well, here,” Maya said. “This belonged to my sister, Mia. It’s definitely not for a wedding or anything, but it’s still pretty and formal enough for a prom. It might be a little hard to dance in, but it wouldn’t be as bad as what I’d have to wear for a wedding.”

Trucy took the bundle from Maya and started to spread it out. The silk fabric was a light blue colour with a darker blue floral imprint. The obi was red.

Maya smiled. She was so young when Mia would have worn this she could barely remember, but Mia would have been around the same age as Trucy was now. “It should fit you,” she said.

“It’s beautiful, Maya,” Trucy said. She swallowed and looked up. “Your sister… Mia Fey. My dad has told me a lot about her. He talks about her like she was some kind of superhero.”

Maya smiled. “She kind of was, at least to Nick and I.”

“Is it really okay for me to wear this?”

Maya nodded. “Of course. I think Mia would want one of my daughters to have it. And you know Nick has some Japanese ancestry on his mother’s side, right?”

Trucy nodded. “Yeah, he’s told me all about that. He’s pretty proud. He says that’s where his skills as a lawyer came from.”

Maya laughed. “Right, because those are skills that can be passed down genetically.”

Trucy grinned at her. “Can I try it on right now?”

“Yeah, of course. I can help you, they’re sort of complicated. I never could figure out how to do it by myself.”

They went to the Master’s chambers together. The room was mostly empty now that Maya had moved all of her things to the new house, but a smaller bed from one of the bedrooms had replaced the large bed she brought with her to the house, and there was still a mirror on one wall.

Maya assisted Trucy with putting on the kimono properly. It took a few minutes but they managed. When Maya was finished tying her obi, Trucy stepped up to the mirror. She smiled to herself. “This is definitely it, Maya,” she said. She held out her wrist where Thalassa’s bracelet was. “Now I have something from both of my moms to wear.”

Maya looked at Trucy through the mirror. “You look beautiful.”

Trucy blushed. “Thank you.”

“I have one other thing for you,” Maya said.

Trucy turned from the mirror to look at her. “Really? More presents?”

Maya grinned. “You probably noticed a long time ago that Pearly and I both wear these magatamas,” she said, fingering her own. “Your dad has one too.”

Trucy nodded. “I know. He says it helps him know when people are lying. He threatened to use it on me so much when I was little, whenever I was bad. Sounds weird to me.”

Maya laughed. “Nick’s magatama is a bit different than mine and Pearly’s, but I won’t even get into that right now. The point is, we all have one. You are an honorary Fey, Trucy, so you should have one too.”

Trucy’s eyes lit up. “Really? I get to have one?”

“Of course. Here,” she said, holding out her hand. Trucy had no idea where she’d gotten it from, she hadn’t seen Maya pick it up anywhere, but there it was.

She took the stone gently in her hands. It was a deep dark purple colour, with a thin rope wrapped around the hole to form a necklace like Maya’s, minus the extra beads.

“You don’t have to wear it all the time,” Maya said. “They actually can get sort of heavy around your neck if you’re not used to them. But I wanted you to have one.”

Trucy threw her arms around Maya’s neck. “Thank you so much! I love it. It’s so pretty. Not to mention this outfit. It’s better than anything I could have bought at the store.”

Maya squeezed her tightly. “And your dad won’t even get to complain about all the money I didn’t spend.” Maya patted her back. “Come on, let’s get you out of that and start heading home. We’ve got a bit of a drive ahead of us.”

“Right,” Trucy nodded. “Let’s go.”


May 1st, 2029, 8:36 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

It was dark by the time Maya and Trucy finally made it home. Phoenix and Pearl were in the middle of a Steel Samurai themed board game they’d found amongst Maya’s collection when they walked in.

Phoenix looked up from the game. “Wow, you guys took all day. Do I even want to know what you bought?”

Trucy brought the paper bag they’d put the kimono in over to the table. “Don’t worry, Daddy. It’s nothing too revealing and it definitely didn’t cost that much.”

“What did it cost?” he asked, eyeing the bag.

“It was free!”

“Huh?”

Maya smiled as she maneuvered herself behind Phoenix’s chair. She leaned down to hug him from behind, pecking him on the cheek. “We went to Fey Manor and picked up one of Mia’s old outfits.”

“It’s so pretty, Daddy,” Trucy gushed. “I’m going to wear that to prom. I may have to sacrifice a few dances, but it’ll be worth it.”

“That’s great, Truce. I’m glad you managed to find something and you didn’t have to spend any money.”

Maya stood up straight, keeping her hands on Phoenix’s shoulders. “How was your day, Pearly?” she said over him, to Pearl on the other side of the table.

Pearl smiled. “Mystic Maya… I had the best day ever.”

Maya smiled. She had known all about Phoenix’s plan to finally ask Pearl if she wanted to be adopted. Pearl really did look elated. She had known it would be a good idea.

Trucy sat down at the table with them. “What did you do, Pearl?”

Pearl smiled at her. “I’m going to be your sister, Trucy.”

Trucy looked confused. “You’re already my sister.”

“But for real,” Pearl said. “Mr. Nick is going to adopt me.”

Trucy’s mouth formed into an O. She looked at Phoenix. “Really, Daddy?!”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“That’s so great,” Trucy said, getting up to hug Pearl. “Once my daddy and Maya get married we’ll all be one big happy family.” She turned to Phoenix and Maya. “Speaking of weddings…”

Phoenix groaned and leaned back in his chair. He felt Maya squeeze his shoulders before she leaned down to kiss him again. “Well, that’s my cue to go take a bath. Have fun with your two daughters, Nick.”

He grabbed for Maya’s hands. “Wait, Maya! Don’t leave me with these two girls and their wedding talk!”

She was too quick for him, sticking her tongue out as she hurriedly ran from the dining room. He could hear the thumping of her feet on the stairs as she made her way up to their bedroom. When he turned back to Pearl and Trucy, they were both smiling at him.

“So Daddy,” Trucy started. “About the possibility of me performing at the reception…”

He groaned and put his head down on the table. He and Maya really needed to pick a date for this wedding. The sooner they were married the better.

Chapter Text

October 21st, 2029, 5:57 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

Maya signed off on the last of the wedding invitations before sliding the card over to Phoenix for him to do the same. They’d spent all night hand writing the names of the invitees as well as signing their own names on the handmade cards to send out in the mail the next day. Maya had worked hard on them, wanting them to be more personal than cards you could buy, plus it saved them some money.

With his name signed, Phoenix placed the last card in the pile. He looked up to smile across the table at Maya. “They’re done.”

Maya sighed. “We finally have a date and a place. It’s going to be great, Nick.”

“Mhm.”

They stared at each other over the table, each with their own smile of contentment, until Maya jumped out of her chair. Phoenix was up just as fast, gathering Maya into his arms to kiss her.

She moaned into his mouth as his hands made their way down her sides and to her behind to squeeze her butt. She pulled away, giving him a sly smile. “Maybe we should celebrate the momentous occasion of finishing our wedding invites.”

He nodded quickly. “I think we should. Upstairs?”

Maya grinned at him. “How about the living room?”

“Maya, no.”

“Why not?! Trucy is halfway around the world right now, and Pearly is in Kurain.”

“It’s unhygienic.”

“That never stopped you from wanting to do it on the couch at the office where clients sit.”

“The bed is more comfortable.”

Maya sighed. “Oh, okay, fine, I really don’t care that much right now.”

He took her by the hand and together they hurried from the room and up the stairs to their bedroom.

Fifteen minutes later they both lay together in bed, breathless and sweaty. Maya rolled to her side and let out a laugh of disbelief. “That was quick, but so, so good.”

Phoenix wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer. He didn’t say much, he was still in the midst of catching his breath. Maya wrapped her arm around him. “Mm. I was thinking, Nick. Since we’re getting married soon, maybe we should avoid sex until then? Just think about how mind blowing it’ll be on our honeymoon if we had to abstain for so long!”

Phoenix snorted. “Maya, we both know that out of the both of us, you’re the one who wouldn’t last that long.”

She sat up on her elbow, looking scandalized. “Not true.”

He raised an eyebrow. “It is true, and you know it.”

She flopped back down. “Only because you’re an old man, Nick. Your libido is already starting to drop. I’m still young and frisky.”

He laughed. “If you say so. You don’t want to give it up anyway because you want to keep trying for a baby, even though you know that if you got pregnant now, you’d look like a balloon in a wedding dress by May.”

Maya giggled uncontrollably at his description. “I’d still go through with it though,” she said. “I’d just have to get my wedding dress altered.”

“We’d have to pay extra money for all the extra fabric they’d have to use to cover you because you’re so tiny now. You’re going to get huge when you get pregnant.”

Maya snickered again, and Phoenix was glad to hear it. It was nice being able to talk about a possible pregnancy without Maya getting upset or anxious over not having conceived yet. Lately it was a touchy subject with her. It was starting to worry him as well, but he knew that stressing over it wouldn’t help. They had already passed the nine month mark, and they would pass the one year mark before the wedding in May. He just hoped he could talk Maya out of any doctor’s appointments she would want to set up until after the wedding. Wedding planning was stressful enough without the added stress of fertility worries on top.

They were quiet for a few minutes, listening to each other’s breathing and the wind blowing outside the window. It was starting to get cooler outside now that it was autumn, especially the further away from the city and the closer to the mountains they got. The leaves on the trees outside the windows had turned shades of red and yellow and orange and were starting to drop. It made for a nice view from their bedroom during the day time.

The rest of the house was silent. Trucy had graduated high school back in June, and as promised she was allowed to go to Khura’in for the summer to visit Apollo and Thalassa. Phoenix worried about her, but she was an adult now, and she had plenty of money from her shows to support herself while she was there. Although it was already October and the summer was over, Trucy didn’t have school anymore, and had opted to stay there a little longer. Everyone missed her, but Phoenix knew it was important for her to spend time with her biological mother, as well as Apollo now that they both knew they were related. She’d assured him in their numerous phone calls that she was starting to do performances there and would probably be coming home with more money than she left with, so she would still have plenty for college when she decided to go.

Of course, Apollo and Trucy would both be coming home in May for his and Maya’s wedding, which Phoenix was excited for. He missed both of them more than he could even put into words.

Maya hummed happily beside him, jolting him from his thoughts. “Nick, will you do me a favour?”

He turned his head to peer down at her. “What sort of favour?”

She smiled up at him. He didn’t like that smile one bit. “Well… I need you to come to Kurain with me sometime this week. The Elders want to have a meeting with both of us.”

He groaned. “What for?”

“Because you’re my soon-to-be husband and you need to support me when the mean old ladies I have to deal with bully me.”

He shook his head, smiling at her. “Okay, yes, I will always support you, Maya. But why do they want to meet with both of us? Is it about the wedding?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“Probably?”

“Well, I may not have told them that we already have a date and a location set. They probably want to talk to us about when we want our Kurain Village wedding to be. They still think we’re having a traditional wedding there.”

He heaved a sigh. “So they’re going to be really mad when we tell them?”

“Probably. Or at least, Daisy and Petunia will be. Lily is so ditzy, half the time I don’t even think she knows what’s going on. Rose will be on our side though, luckily for us.” She hugged him. “I’ll deal with them, Nick, I just need you there with me for it.”

He squeezed her shoulders. “Alright. Of course I’ll come. This Saturday, so long as I don’t have any cases come up?”

“Yeah, that works. Thank you, Nick!”

“You don't have to thank me, Maya,” he said, turning to kiss the top of her head. “We’re in this together, right?”

“Right.”


October 24, 2029, 9:34 AM
Fey Manor, Kurain Village

When they called to let Pearl know that they would be visiting her on the weekend, she was ecstatic, and promised to have a room ready for them when they came. True to her word, when Phoenix and Maya arrived in Kurain Village and climbed off the bus, Pearl was waiting outside the manor, ready to lead them to their room.

The room she had set up was smaller than Maya’s original Master’s chambers. The bed was only a double, much smaller than they were used to, but it looked cozy enough. Pearl had lit some white candles and placed them on the bedside tables, which Maya quickly extinguished when she saw them. There were incense burning too, and Maya put those out as well. She shot him a look that told him she would explain later. He had to assume it was just something Pearl had done to make the room more romantic for them.

He couldn’t help noticing that Maya seemed a little more tense after that, but she tried to keep up with Pearl’s excited chatter anyway. Eventually, she had to interrupt.

“Pearly, I know you’re happy that Nick and I are staying overnight and I’m sure your dinner is going to be awesome, but we’re tired. We need to rest a bit before we go see the Elders. You know how they are. If I’m tired I’ll be grumpy already and they’ll just make it worse.”

“Oh, okay, Mystic Maya! Have a good rest! I’ll see you later.”

Maya waved her out, then turned to Phoenix with a sigh. “So,” he started, “what was with the candles and incense?”

“Pearly is forgetting about our talk. It’s all just stupid Kurain superstition, but these candles are specially made fertility candles, and the incense is supposed to help too. She’s trying to help us get pregnant.”

Phoenix sat down heavily on the bed. Maya crossed her arms, her lips pursing. “Honestly, Nick. People are starting to feel sorry for us, even Pearly knows it’s been too long!”

“It hasn’t been a year yet, Maya,” he tried to soothe her. “We can’t give up yet.”

She took a deep breath to calm herself. “I know, you’re right.” She shook her head and sat down beside her. “It’s just frustrating.”

He put his arm behind her to rub her back. “I know it is. Trust me, I know. But let’s just focus on the wedding for now, okay? Just you wait. The moment you forget we’re trying, that’s when you’ll find out you’re pregnant.”

She leaned into him. “Yeah, maybe.”

“Hey. You should rest. Wedding stress and nerves about this meeting aren’t helping either. Take a nap.”

She nodded. “Okay. Wake me up in an hour.” She shifted onto the bed, not even bothering to change into pyjamas or take her robes off before lying down. Phoenix got up, turned out the overhead light, and left the room to go visit with Pearl.

Around an hour later, he was nudging Maya awake again. “Maya, the meeting is in fifteen minutes. You need to get up.”

She groaned and buried her face in her pillow. “I don’t want to do it, Nick,” she whined.

“Let’s just get it over with. Once we tell them, we can enjoy the rest of our stay with Pearls. I’ll be with you, remember?”

“Alright, fine.” She held out her hand so he could pull her up. “Can you get my brush out of my bag?” she asked, beginning to take her hair down so she could brush the tangles out of it from sleep. Phoenix went to the bag she brought and rummaged through it. He found the hair brush and brought it over, sitting down on the edge of the bed.

“Here, turn around.”

She smiled at him and turned, letting her long hair cascade down her back. Even after sleep it wasn’t that messy, but he parted it carefully with his hands to brush any tangles out of it anyway. Maya hummed as he brushed it out gently, liking the tingly feeling she got whenever anyone touched her hair.

When he was finished, he set the brush down and leaned forward, placing his hands on her shoulders and a kiss on her cheek from behind. “There. You’ll have to do the rest. Sorry, but I don’t know how you get your hair into that topknot.”

“It’s not a topknot,” she said, picking up her hair tie.

“What do you call it then?”

She thought for a moment. “A bun.”

“But it sticks straight up on top of your head.”

“Only men wear topknots,” she said, her fingers winding the hair tie around said bun.

“Whatever you say.” She huffed and slid the beads into the hair she parted from the sides, then stood up. Phoenix got up too. “Ready?”

“Yeah. Ready as I’ll ever be, at least.”

He gathered her in his arms for one last hug. Maya seemed so nervous about this meeting, but he was sure she would do fine. “Let’s go.”


October 24, 2029, 10:03 AM
Kurain Village

Maya led Phoenix down the road to the small building they called a City Hall. She took one last deep breath before they entered the meeting room together, hand in hand.

As the oldest, Rose was the first to stand up and welcome the Master back to Kurain Village. The others followed suit, though they were all much less enthusiastic. There was nowhere for he or Maya to sit, not even pillows on the floor, so they simply stood in front of the long table the Elders were sat behind on an elevated stage, so that he and Maya had to look up at them.

Daisy cleared her throat as soon as Rose had the welcoming out of the way. “Mystic Maya, we’ve called this meeting with you and your fiancé today because you’ve been engaged for almost six months now and we have yet to hear any of your plans.” Phoenix didn’t miss how the word fiancé was dripping with contempt. She really didn’t think highly of him. Daisy continued. “All of us here are assuming you’re having your wedding here in Kurain Village, to honour tradition. Is that correct?”

Phoenix glanced down at Maya. He shook his hand from hers and instead wrapped his arm around her shoulders, hoping it would give her more confidence.

Maya crossed her arms. “I’m sorry, but Nick and I have discussed it already. We’re having our wedding in the city.”

There it was, out in the open. Phoenix glanced back up to the panel of Elders, hoping their reaction wasn’t as bad as he and Maya both thought it would be.

Elder Daisy harrumphed from her spot above them. “Mystic Maya, the Master’s marriage is a momentous occasion. It’s only proper for you to have the wedding here, in Kurain, where your people can witness it,” she said.

Maya only shook her head. “You and the rest of Kurain Village are more than welcome to make the trip into the city for the wedding, but the wedding itself will not be held here. I have people in the city as well. Friends and others I consider my family. Not to mention, it’s Nick’s wedding too, and he’s not from Kurain. I’m sorry, but we already have a location, it’s a really beautiful park with plenty of room for anyone who wants to come.”

The other Elders whispered to each other, but it was Daisy whose face was beginning to turn purple. Phoenix attempted to step in, hoping to calm the situation before it got bad. “What if we make a compromise? We could have the actual wedding ceremony in the city and the reception here?” The wedding ceremony itself was already booked for the park, but they had yet to rent a hall for the reception.

Maya frowned at him. “That makes no sense, time wise, Nick. Kurain is two hours away from the city. We can’t expect people to take the train or find rides to or from Kurain after the wedding. It’s just not logical. They have to be in close proximity.”

“Well, what if we have the honeymoon here? It’s quiet, peaceful, romantic—”

“No frickin’ way,” Maya said.

“Yes, I have to agree with Master Maya,” Rose spoke up from the bench. “Having the honeymoon in Kurain is not a good idea.”

Phoenix didn’t miss the grateful look Maya shot Rose, or the disdainful look Daisy shot her. “Erm… alright.”

“I’m not sure why you’re not protesting this more, Rose,” Daisy said. “At your age, are you really going to be able to travel to the city for Mystic Maya’s wedding?”

Rose smiled. “Of course. I may be old but I’m not decrepit. I’ll be at the wedding, no matter where it takes place.”

“You don’t have to worry about that anyway, Daisy,” Maya spoke up. “As you know, Rose practically raised my sister and me once our mother left. She’ll be taking the place of the mother of the bride and she’ll be provided a ride to and from the wedding.”

Daisy only glared at Maya, ignoring what she’d said, though it was obvious by Rose’s expression that she was ecstatic at this news. It was news to Phoenix too, and he hoped it hadn’t been a split second decision made just then simply to make Daisy angry. He was sure Rose deserved it, but he didn’t want Maya making such big decisions just to get a rise out of the rest of the Elders.

“What about the rest of you?” Daisy said, looking around at her other companions. Lily simply shrugged, but Petunia was nodding her agreement.

“I have to agree with Mystic Daisy, Master Maya. It’s only proper to have the wedding here, the way tradition dictates.”

Maya’s face hardened. “I’ve already done away with one of your precious traditions,” she growled. “I’m willing to get rid of a few more.”

Phoenix had to try not to smile. He absolutely loved seeing Maya stand up for herself. She’d grown one shiny spine since becoming the Master. He was almost sad he wasn’t there more often to witness it.

There were a few seconds of silence before Rose clapped her hands together. “Well, I guess that’s that. The Master has chosen to have her wedding ceremony outside of Kurain Village. I for one, am happy for her. So long as Master Maya is happy with Mr. Wright, I don’t think it matters where they get married.”

Maya smiled. “Thank you, Rose. Nick and I will take our leave for now.”

She took him by the hand and led him out of the room. As soon as the door shut behind them, Phoenix could hear raised voices. Maya simply ignored it and led him outside where she took a deep breath, like she’d been holding it in.

“You okay?” he asked.

Maya nodded, taking his hand again. “Yeah. They just frustrate me so much, it’s exhausting. At least it was fast. Rose will deal with them now.”

“I can’t even imagine how you deal with them every day.”

She shrugged. “I’m used to it, and Rose helps a lot. Without her, I probably would have abandoned this place years ago, taken Pearly, and left it to whatever fate they had in store for it.”

He squeezed her hand, leaning down slightly to murmur to her. “You know, if you ever did want to run away, I’d go with you. We could take Pearls and Trucy.”

She smiled. “Don’t let them hear you say something like that. We’d have another Kurain Village murder on our hands, because one of them would kill you for trying to convince the Master to abandon the village.”

“Hey, I wasn’t trying to convince, simply letting you know that I’d support your decision if you did.”

She giggled. “Yeah. Thanks, Nick.”

“Mhm. So, can I ask why it’d be such a terrible idea to have the honeymoon here? Assuming we were left alone, I think it could be relaxing.”

“Oh God,” Maya said. “No way, Nick. They’d probably force you to endure some sort of weird ritual where they would examine you to deem you worthy of having sex with the Master,” she said. “Not that it would really matter since it wouldn’t be our first time together. They’d just be using it as an excuse to humiliate you.”

“Are you serious? What sort of examination? Like would they measure my—”

“Nick!” Maya interrupted.

“I’m just wondering.”

She frowned. “I don’t even know for sure but I do know that I don’t even want to think about those wrinkly old ladies touching you, or looking at you, or anything! They’d enjoy it too much.”

“Oh.”

“Not to mention,” Maya continued, “they know we’re trying for a baby, and Kurain has a lot of traditions surrounding trying to conceive as well. Although, at this point I’d actually be willing to try some of them if it meant I’d actually get pregnant,” she mumbled. “Just not on my wedding night.”

Phoenix ignored that. He didn’t want to get into pregnancy talk yet again. “Daisy was pretty angry,” he said. “You don’t think she’ll try to do anything to sabotage the wedding, do you?”

Maya pursed her lips. “I doubt it. We already sent out the invitations so there’s no way she could do anything about that. Since I don’t live in Fey Manor anymore, I don’t think there’s anything she could do. Aside from coming to the wedding and trying to ruin it the day of.”

“Do you even want her to come? It’s our wedding, Maya. Anyone you think might ruin it, or who you think will make you anxious just by being there, could put a stain on the memory. Rose is obviously welcome, and Lily seems okay, but Daisy and Petunia? I don’t know. The two of them together? Maybe they’d conspire together.”

“I don’t know. As terrible as they are, I’d like to hope they wouldn’t try to ruin my wedding, even if they do hate everything about it. I’d feel bad not letting them come.”

“Maybe we should hire security. If they do come, knowing that there’s security keeping tabs on people might make them behave themselves. Could we afford that?”

Maya shrugged. “We could always ask Gumshoe for a discount. He’d probably be able to pull some strings in the police department nowadays. He’s nowhere near the clumsy detective he used to be. People respect him now.”

“I’ll talk to him about it,” Phoenix said. “I think it’d give me peace of mind to have at least someone there to take care of troublemakers. Plus, it’s us,” he said with a grin. “With our luck something bad is bound to happen.”

“Oh, don’t jinx it, Nick. Remember poor Ellen and Sorin’s wedding? I don’t want something like that to happen to us, too.”

He wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her closer to his side. “Sorry. It won’t. It’ll be perfect.”

She smiled, wrapping her own arm around him. It made walking a little difficult, but they managed. “So, when are you going to ask Edgeworth to be your best man? I mean, you’re going to choose him, right? Not Larry?”

“Actually, I already asked him, before I proposed. I’m going to ask Larry to be a groomsmen, and Apollo already knows I want him to be one too.”

“Have Apollo and Trucy booked their flights home yet?” she asked hopefully. “They should do that soon and they should come home about a month before the wedding, so Trucy can go to her dress fittings and be part of the bridal shower and all that. And I’m sure Apollo will want to be a part of your bachelor party.”

“I’ll call him later and see if we can set up a video chat or something soon to make sure he and Trucy are prepared. What about you? I know you haven’t asked Pearls yet about being your maid of honour because she would be freaking out about it. You know she’ll be in charge of the rest of the bridesmaids, and she’ll have to plan your bridal shower, but I think she’ll be good at it. She’ll be efficient.”

Maya giggled. “Athena and Trucy will hate her by the end of it. I’ll ask her soon. She’ll need time for all the planning.”

The walk from the City Hall to Fey Manor was a short one, and when they were standing outside their wedding talk ceased. Maya sniffed the air. “It smells like Pearly is done lunch. I’m starving. Let’s go eat. Then I have something else to show you.”

“You never told me you had something else planned.”

She smiled, pulling on his hand. “It’s a bit of a surprise. It’s a good one though, I promise.”

“Okay then,” he said, following her into the house. Maya’s surprises were not always as good as she promised them to be, but he decided to have faith in her this time.


October 24, 2029, 1:36 PM
Kurain Village

They ate lunch with Pearl, who chattered on and on about wedding plans and told Maya about things that were happening in Kurain Village while she wasn’t around. Apparently one of their distant relations recently found out she was pregnant, and a little girl just down the road was starting to show signs of being able to channel, seeing as her mother had walked into her room one day to find her daughter gone, and a little boy wearing her clothes in her place instead. After freaking out and calling the manor, Pearl had headed down to the home to explain to the mother that it was normal, calm the scared little boy, and help him leave the girl’s body. Phoenix was glad to know this little fact, seeing as he was currently trying to have a child with the Master of the technique, and a Fey of the main family. If they had a daughter together there was a good chance that would happen to her someday too, and he could see himself having a similar reaction to the mother of the little girl.

Pearl was excited about the baby news but Maya was mostly quiet about that. She did get excited at the prospect of another new spirit medium though. Not all the women in the village were capable, and if they weren’t part of the main Fey family, it was never a for sure thing that a female child would be able to spirit channel.

Maya made sure to take the girl’s name so she could talk to her mother about it. As the Master, it was her job to educate the citizens of Kurain who didn’t know much about channeling, and to ensure her that training her daughter’s ability would help her control it.

After lunch, Maya told Pearl that she and Phoenix had plans. It was the perfect way to get Pearl out of their hair, seeing as she never wanted to do anything that would interrupt quiet time between special someones.

Maya told him to wait with Pearl while she packed a bag for wherever they were going, and after a few minutes she finally appeared again with a large bag full of stuff. All he could see was some sort of fabric sticking out of the top.

“Let’s go, Nick!” She waved to Pearl. “We might not be back for a while, Pearly, so don’t wait on us to make dinner for yourself or anything.”

Pearl smiled and nodded. “I hope you two have fun!”

“Oh, we will,” Maya said quietly.

Outside, Phoenix stopped her. “I’m worried, Maya. Where are you taking me and what’s going to be so fun about it?”

She grinned at him and walked ahead. “You just have to wait and see. Come on, it’s a bit of a hike.”

He hurried to catch up to her. “A hike? While you’re wearing those shoes? And aren’t you cold?”

Maya shook her head. “I had to take this walk every day when I was training so I’m used to doing it in my sandals, and no. I’m used to the cold weather out here, unlike you.”

Phoenix crossed his arms. She was right. He was already getting chilly, even in a long sleeved shirt.

“Don’t worry, Nick, you won’t be cold for long!”

He followed her up the path, grumbling all the way about how steep it was and how out of breath he was already getting. Maya just ignored him and continued up the mountain, not stopping for a breather even once. The higher they went, the colder he got. Eventually the sounds of the wind whipping through the trees and the birds chirping began to be replaced by the loud rushing of water.

Maya stopped in the middle of the path and looked around. There didn’t seem to be anything, but that rushing sound of water indicated there was a waterfall or a stream somewhere. Maya peered through the trees, then pushed some branches out of the way and started to struggle through them.

“Maya. Where are you going? There’s not even a path that way.”

“Just trust me, Nick. Come on, no one else knows about this place so I never made a path. I try to go in a different way each time so I don’t push down a path. No one can tell I’ve been going in here.”

He sighed and moved forward to help her. Leaves and twigs were getting caught in her hair, but she pressed on. “What is this place, Maya?”

“I come here to relax. No one can bother me. I wanted to share it with you.”

They struggled through the brush for a few more steps until Maya stepped out into a clearing. Phoenix looked around as he followed her out. There was no waterfall, but he could still hear that rushing water. It must have been close by, but the pools in front of them were clear and smooth, with steam billowing from them. The rocks surrounding the water were smooth as well. Maya set her bag down beside the pools.

“Hot springs?” he asked.

Maya nodded excitedly. “I told you it’d be worth it! They’re natural. I think maybe a really long time ago the people in Kurain used to use them because there are parts of it that seem like they were maybe carved into the stone, but everything is so eroded now that it’s hard to tell. They’re beautiful though, aren’t they?”

“They really are,” he said, gazing around the area.

She smiled, taking his hands. “Let’s go in.”

“I didn’t bring anything to swim in.”

Her smile only widened. “We don’t need anything, Nick. This area is closed off, and no one knows about it. No one will see us. Are you really a 36 year old man because I swear sometimes you’re still as clueless as a little boy.”

She bent down to rummage through her bag. She pulled out some candles, which he noticed looked strangely similar to the ones Pearl had put in their guest bedroom, and a few matches to light them with. She set them around the edge of the pool and lit them.

“I brought towels and stuff, so nothing to worry about there,” she said, waving the match in her hand to extinguish it. “I thought this would be romantic.”

He shifted. “It’s  the middle of the day, though.”

“No one knows where we are,” she assured him. She shook her head. “Well, I’m going in, with or without you.”

He stood where he was, watching as she slowly began to untie her obi. She smiled coyly at him and turned her back to him so she could fold it up and set it on the ground. When she straightened back up, he watched her open the robe and begin to slip it down her shoulders. She was teasing him, moving slowly and sexily to entice him.

He watched appreciatively as her shoulders and back came into view, and then her buttocks and legs. She looked back over her shoulder before stepping into the shallow part of the hot springs and slowly sinking down so she could get used to the temperature. She submerged herself up to her neck before she turned around. He never got a glimpse of her front, and he found himself a little disappointed.

Maya sighed. “It feels great, Nick. Come on. You always complain about your bad back. This’ll definitely soothe your muscles. Plus you said you were cold! The water is so warm.”

He looked around. Maya was right. The trees were thick and they were pretty high up on the mountain now. He doubted anyone would be up here peeping on them, if anyone else even knew about this place.

He groaned and started to pull his shirt over his head. Maya cheered, which only made him embarrassed. “Shush, Maya,” he mumbled.

“What? I’m just enjoying the show. You’re hot, Nick.”

“I said hush.”

She grinned but kept quiet until he was undressed and finally in the water with her. She reached out for him, pulling him closer to wrap her arms around his neck. “I brought blankets and food and wine,” she told him. “We can spend all day here.”

He pulled her over so she could sit on his lap. “I feel like a nudist.”

Maya laughed. “Come on, Nick. It’s nice! I brought towels and bath robes for when we get out to eat and stuff. It’ll be fine.”

“Since when are you so romantic?” he asked. He was actually sort of impressed that Maya had planned all of this without him knowing. When had she bought wine? When did she make food to bring? He had no inkling she had something like this planned.

She shrugged, moving in even closer to cuddle him. “I just wanted to make this trip worthwhile for you.”

“Maya, thank you. I appreciate it, but I hope you know you don’t always have to try making it up to me when I come to Kurain with you. Neither of us like it, but we’re partners. Spirit channeling is your thing, but I’m always happy to support you.”

She leaned forward to kiss him quickly. “I know you are.” He smiled at her, running his hand up her shoulder and pulling her in for a deeper kiss.

They spent the afternoon up on the mountain in and around the hot springs, kissing and chatting and then kissing some more, until Maya got hungry and they were both pruned up from the water. They dried off and put on bathrobes, sat on their blanket to eat and drink, and then laid down together on the blanket, in each other’s arms.

The candles Maya had lit earlier were burned down to nubs, and the sun began to set around them. Maya turned on her side, smiling down at Phoenix. His eyes were closed but she knew he was awake.

She leaned down to kiss him, felt him tense with surprise before melting into her kiss. Before long they were shedding their bathrobes again, and he was pushing her down beneath him. They were quiet as they made love. In the setting sun it seemed more appropriate to keep quiet. The only noises were the sounds of the rushing water coming from somewhere nearby, and Maya’s quiet gasps beneath him.

When they finished they managed to take another dip in the hot springs to clean up before getting dressed. It would be full dark soon, and they had to make their way back down the mountain before then. Phoenix was almost sad to leave the little area, but as romantic and nice as it was, it was still out in the wilderness, and he didn’t want to stay to find out what sort of animals would come out in the dark.

As they were leaving the little thicket, Maya took Phoenix’s hand. “Don’t tell anyone about this place, Nick,” she said quietly.

He gripped her hand tightly as they maneuvered through the brush and back onto the trail. “I won’t.”

She smiled, leaning up to kiss him one last time. “It’ll be our place. Just for us, where we can come whenever we don’t want to be disturbed. When we just need some alone time away from work and kids and Elders.”

“I think that sounds great, Maya.”

She nodded, taking his hand again to start the trek down. They were quiet for a few seconds, until Phoenix spoke up again.

“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had sex outside before. I guess I can cross that off my bucket list.”

Maya laughed. “It may have been the first time, but it certainly won’t be the last.”

Chapter Text

December 4th, 2029, 5:45 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

“Are you ready, Mystic Maya?”

Maya looked up at Pearl’s gentle voice and took a deep breath. She smoothed out the skirt of her Master’s robes and nodded. “I’m ready, Pearly.”

Pearl smiled. “Tell her I said hello.”

Maya nodded quickly. “I will.”

Pearl said no more as she closed her eyes and focused on her breathing. In front of Maya’s eyes, her body changed. Her legs got longer, her bosom bigger (thankfully it was covered better by her robes now due to her growth over the years), and her face took on an older, full lipped look.

Maya had to stop herself from tearing up as Mia Fey opened her eyes to look around. It had been so long since she’d seen her sister.

Mia looked around. It was always disorienting when she was channeled, and though she didn’t know exactly how long it had been, she could tell it had been a while since the last time. Her last memories were fuzzy, but she remembered speaking to Phoenix at the time. She couldn’t remember much more than that.

Her eyes landed on Maya, sitting on a couch across from her. She looked the same and yet… different in a way Mia couldn’t put her finger on. Not to mention the fact that she had no idea where she was. This room didn’t look familiar at all.

Maya smiled at her, and Mia finally snapped out of her confusion. It didn’t matter how long it had been or where she was, all that mattered was that her sister was sitting in front of her.

“Maya,” she breathed.

Maya’s smile turned into a full on grin, and she got up to hug her sister, squeezing her tightly. “Hey Sis… It’s been a while.”

Mia sat back. “I’m almost afraid to ask but… how long has it been? You look a little older.”

Maya wiped at her eyes, whisking away the tears that had escaped, and laughed lightly. “It’s been almost ten years since the last time you were channeled, Mia.”

Mia’s eyes widened. “Really? So you’re how old? 28?”

“I’m 29 now, Sis. Almost 30. Officially older than you,” Maya said sadly.

Mia shook her head in disbelief. “You look amazing, Maya,” she said. “Honestly. Not a day over 25. And you’ll always be my little sister, you know.”

Maya smiled. “I know.”

Mia looked around, taking in her surroundings again. “Where are we? I’m sure so much has happened in your life… Is this your home?”

Maya nodded. “Yeah, it’s my house. We bought it just over a year ago now. Of course the office is still the same, we could never move that, but we thought it was about time to move to a bigger home, since the apartment was getting kind of cramped.”

Mia raised an eyebrow. “Slow down. We? Our?” She felt a little jolt of excitement go through her. “Wait a minute, you’re not talking about—”

“Maya?”

Mia looked up at the sound of a man’s voice calling down the hallway. Maya just sat there with a silly smile on her face as she listened to his footsteps approaching.

Phoenix turned the corner into the living room, calling out in a sing-song voice. “Honey I’m hooome—” His playful words seemed to dry up as his eyes landed on the other person in the room. “Oh, you have company. Wait…” He sucked in a breath. “M—Mia?”

Mia smiled. “Phoenix. It’s been so long.”

He stepped into the room slowly. “Wow. I can’t believe… Maya didn’t tell me she was planning on channeling you… I’m so happy to see you!”

She stood up just in time for him to wrap her in a hug, his strong arms crushing her against his chest. She patted him on the back. He was clearly older now. If her math was right, he was around 35 or 36 now. It seemed strange to think the young rookie lawyer she had once mentored was now older and more experienced than her.

The baby face he still had back when she was alive had changed into a strong jawline, and she didn’t miss the very fine lines around his eyes as he smiled at her, but aside from that he was much like Maya. In ten years, the two of them hadn’t aged very much at all. Still, there was an air of maturity to them that hadn’t been there the last time she remembered seeing them. Even Maya seemed more subdued now than she had been as a teenager, and Phoenix had always been a more serious type. They’d both grown up.

Maya got up and came to stand beside Phoenix as he released Mia. He wrapped an arm around her, and Mia watched Maya lean into him, wrapping her own arm around his waist and letting her other hand rest against his chest in a sort of half embrace. Mia smiled. She should have known. Somehow it made perfect sense that the two of them had wound up together.

“So… mind telling me the story behind this?” Mia said, gesturing at them.

Phoenix smiled down at Maya, not shy at all about placing a kiss on her forehead. Maya shooed him away and pulled out of his embrace to sit back down. He sat beside her, resting an arm on the sofa behind her.

Maya sighed and looked to Phoenix. “There isn’t much to tell, really, Sis. It just sort of…happened.”

Mia raised an eyebrow. “Please. There had to have been something. How long have you been together?”

“A little over nine years,” Maya said.

“Wow. It can’t have been long after the last time I was channeled then,” Mia observed.

They smiled at each other, and Mia could see that even after nine years there was still so much love between them. They reminded her of herself and a certain other lawyer when she was alive.

Phoenix sat forward to look across at Mia. “The last time we channeled you, I told you I was disbarred. That was really the beginning of it, I think. I don’t know what I would have done without Maya to help me through those years. They were hard, but we got through it. At some point I guess we just realized.”

Maya nodded her agreement. She smiled shyly, a light blush staining her cheeks. “It’s kind of embarrassing to talk about, actually.”

Mia grinned. “Do I even want to know?”

Phoenix chuckled. “Let’s just say there was one particular night where things just… well, like Maya said, ‘sort of happened’. We couldn’t keep pretending there wasn’t something between us, and it snowballed from there.”

Maya smiled fondly at the memory. “We had a long distance relationship for a while, because of Nick being disbarred and everything. Then he managed to prove himself innocent of forging that evidence, and took the Bar Exam again, but just when he finally regained his badge, I had to go to Khura’in to finally finish my training. It was hard being apart for two years, but we made it through that too. I’m officially the Master now, Mia, can you believe that?”

“I can. I bet you’re an amazing leader, Maya. And congratulations on becoming a lawyer again, Phoenix.”

He nodded his thanks. “But that’s nothing compared to Maya,” he said, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. “She’s amazing, Mia. I don’t know half of what she does but I’m proud of her regardless, because I know she does so much more than she ever lets on.”

“Stop it, Nick,” Maya said, hiding her face against his shoulder in embarrassment.

Mia smiled at them. “And now you’re here. I couldn’t help noticing, Maya… Your finger.”

Maya sat up excitedly. “That’s actually why I wanted to channel you today, Sis! Nick and I… we’re getting married next year. He asked me back in April.”

Mia held out her hand to take Maya’s in order to look at her ring. “It’s beautiful. Good choice, Phoenix.”

“I wanted to invite you to the wedding,” Maya said. “I know it’s not normally something we do, channeling spirits for special occasions, but it just wouldn’t feel right not having you there.”

“Of course I’ll come, Maya. I would love to.”

Maya clapped her hands together excitedly. “I’ll have an acolyte channel you again soon so we can take your measurements for a dress. Pearly is my maid of honour so she won’t be able to channel you, but I’m sure another of the girls can do it.”

Mia nodded. “That sounds good to me. Tell me what else has happened. You don’t have any kids yet, do you?”

She couldn’t help noticing the strange look that passed over Phoenix’s face at the question, or how Maya looked down at the floor before regaining her composure and smiling again. “Not yet,” Maya said. “Nick has a daughter though. She’s 18 this year. She went to Khura’in to visit her brother and her mom.”

Mia raised an eyebrow. “Uh, she’s 18, and she’s not yours?” She looked at Phoenix. “How does that make sense?”

Phoenix laughed. “I adopted her. Maya’s a bit too young to have a biological eighteen year old daughter, heck even I’m too young for that, but Maya was Trucy’s only mother figure growing up. She only just recently met her biological mom and her half-brother, which is why she isn’t here.” He got up to go to a wall that Mia just now noticed was hung with multiple pictures. He took one down and brought it to her.

“This is Trucy’s graduation photo. She’s a performer. A magician to be exact. Have you ever heard of the Gramaryes?”

Mia nodded thoughtfully. “Yes, I believe they were famous quite a few years back, when I was still alive.”

Phoenix tapped the photo. “She’s the granddaughter of the founder of Troupe Gramarye, and she inherited all of his secrets after her father died. She’s done really well for herself. I think she makes more money than I do now.”

Mia laughed. “She’s beautiful, Phoenix.” She smiled up at him. “And I’m sure you’re a great dad. You sound so proud of her. You always did do well with Pearl, so it doesn’t surprise me to hear you adopted. How is Pearl, by the way? I’m assuming she’s the one channeling me right now.”

Maya nodded. “Pearly is great. Still training, still taking care of Kurain Village and Fey Manor while I’m here. It’s funny you mentioned about Nick always being good with her because we just recently adopted her! It was a pretty quick process since Pearly’s an adult now.”

“After asking Maya to marry me, it only felt right that we adopt Pearl. She’s always been a part of our family, but now it’s official,” Phoenix said.

“You’ve made quite a nice family together, you two,” Mia said.

“Yeah, I guess we have,” Maya said, smiling as Phoenix replaced the photo on the wall. There were other pictures hanging, Mia noted. Some family pictures possibly taken by a professional photographer, and a few more candid ones most likely printed out from a camera or a phone. Maya was incredibly lucky.

“Hey, Nick?” Maya said after a pause. “Would you mind getting us some tea? I kind of want to talk to my sister alone for a minute…”

“Sure, Maya.” He squeezed her shoulder as he walked past her. “I’ll be back in a few.”

Mia watched him leave, then turned to her sister. “What did you want to talk about?”

Maya wrung her hands together. “You asked us if we had any kids yet…”

“Yes? Did something… did something happen?” She really hoped she wasn’t asking a question that was bringing up painful memories for the two of them. Maya shook her head, and Mia breathed a sigh of relief. “What is it then?”

“We’ve been trying to have a baby,” Maya said. “And I mean trying a lot, for almost a year now, but so far no luck.” She looked up at Mia. “Do you know if there’s any sort of history of fertility problems in our family?”

Mia was a little surprised at the question. “I’m sorry, Maya, but no, not that I know of. Mom had you and I without any problems as far as I know, and Morgan managed to pop out three kids too, even when she was older. I never got around to being able to try, so I can’t say when it comes to myself.”

Maya smiled sadly. “I didn’t think so.”

“Have you or Phoenix been to the doctor yet?”

She shook her head. “He keeps saying to give it a year, to stop stressing about it, and after a year we can go. But I just know something is wrong. I track everything, we have sex all the time, and nothing. There has to be something wrong.”

Mia got up and walked around the coffee table to sit down beside her sister, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Phoenix is probably right about the stress, you know. Bodies are strange that way. But if you’re coming up on a year, it would be a good idea for you both to go to a doctor to talk about it.”

Maya nodded. “I’m scared of what we’ll find out, though. What if it’s me? What if I can’t get pregnant for some reason? Then what good am I as a wife? Nick would deserve someone better.”

Mia sat back, putting a hand on her hip and giving Maya a stern look. “Maya, since when have you thought that all women are good for are being housewives and mothers? I may have just found out about you two a few minutes ago but I know for a fact that Phoenix will love you no matter what. He’s already adopted two daughters, so I don’t think he’ll care if you can’t have children. He’ll care, because he cares about you and your health, but he would never think less of you or leave you for a reason like that.”

Maya hugged her. “You’re right. I know you’re right. It’s not that I think he’d leave me but… that I don’t think I’d be good enough for him if I can’t give him a child.”

“Maya, he’s not marrying you so you can pop out his kids. He’s marrying you because he loves you and he loves Pearl, and the life you’ve already made together, and that’s it. If you can’t have kids, you’ll both have to deal with that, but maybe you can adopt a baby. You have experience with adoption now, and there are plenty of kids out there who’d be incredibly lucky to have you and Phoenix as parents.”

Maya nodded against her sister’s shoulder. She didn’t cry, she was all cried out when it came to this topic, and besides, Mia made sense. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if she couldn’t get pregnant, and she knew she could get through anything with Phoenix beside her.

Mia stroked her hair. Maya might have been older than her now, but she still felt like the little sister she’d always loved. “Focus on your wedding first, Maya. Wedding stress cannot be helping.”

“Nick said almost the exact same thing last time we talked about it.”

“Then get married first. Keep having sex, but don’t think about getting pregnant. Once the wedding is over and you’ve had a nice relaxing honeymoon together, then worry about baby stuff. You can only handle so much at once, you know, especially with you being Master of Kurain now too.” She thought for a second. “That reminds me, Maya. I remember when mom decided to try getting pregnant with you, she quit channeling for a while. Maybe it affects your body somehow, but you may want to give yourself a break for a bit. Let Pearl deal with things in Kurain for a few months.”

“Really? I never knew that.” Maya sighed. “I still feel like there’s so much I don’t know because you and mom are both gone…”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

Maya shook her head. “It’s obviously not your fault. But thank you, Sis. I knew talking to you would help.”

Mia was quiet for a few seconds, then decided to tease her sister a bit while Phoenix was out of the room. Perhaps it would cheer her up. “So… you say you try a lot huh? It’s that good? I mean, Phoenix definitely grew up into a really handsome man, I have to say.”

Maya sat up quickly. “Don’t talk about that!”

Mia giggled. “Why? We were just talking about you getting pregnant. Isn’t that what making a baby entails?”

“But it’s different when you talk about it like that,” Maya protested, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Your face is so red, Maya. Damn, it really must be good.”

“Aaah, Mia! Stop it!”

Mia laughed as Maya playfully swatted at her. Phoenix came back into the room then, with a tray of tea cups. “Whoa, do I need to break up a sibling fight?” he said as he caught Maya practically pouncing on her sister.

Maya sat back as Mia caught her breath. “No, no, we’re okay. We were just talking about how good you—”

Maya flattened her hand over Mia’s mouth. “We weren’t talking about anything important. Just girl stuff, you know.”

Phoenix raised an eyebrow. “Right.” He set the tea on the table, one for each of them. Mia got up, offering her seat back to him so he could sit beside Maya.

“I don’t want to get between you two. You look so sweet together. I like looking at you.”

“That sounds sort of creepy, Sis,” Maya said, taking a sip of her tea.

Mia waved a hand. “I just mean that I’m really happy for you guys. I can’t get over everything that’s happened.” She squeezed out her teabag and went about putting some sugar and cream into her cup. “Tell me what else has been going on. I want to know everything. Phoenix, how did you get your badge back? Do you run the office alone now that Maya is working in Kurain? Is Charley still alive?”

Phoenix smiled as he prepared his own drink. “Where to even start?”

Mia sat back with her warm teacup between her hands. “Start at the beginning.”

He thought for a moment, and then finally began to speak. Maya seemed content to listen to him tell the story of the past nine years of their lives. His disbarment and adoption of Trucy, how he had found out about Kristoph Gavin’s involvement and how after seven years of investigating, he had managed to prove himself innocent and regain his attorney’s badge, and how he had met and hired Apollo.

He told her about the office, about hiring Athena a year after Apollo and how strange it was to finally be the mentor instead of the mentee. He explained about Apollo’s relation to Trucy and about their adventure in Khura’in the previous year too. Mia wished she had the opportunity to meet all the new faces, but Phoenix assured her that everyone would be in attendance at the wedding and she could meet them then.

Maya interjected whenever Phoenix looked to her for help remembering milestones or little details. It was obvious that they had a hard few years, but their love had persisted. Mia even found herself tearing up as Maya went over the night Phoenix proposed. She couldn’t have been happier for her sister.

It really did feel right, and Mia realized as she watched Maya playfully swat at Phoenix as he described something silly she’d done, that somehow she’d always known. Maybe not that they would end up together, but that there’d never be anyone in their lives as important as the other. They both deserved this wonderful life they’d put together, and so much more happiness in the future. Mia’s only wish was that they would both continue to live it to the fullest, as Mia herself hadn’t been able to.

Chapter Text

April 20th, 2030, 10:00 AM
Guest Bedroom, Fey Manor, Kurain Village

Maya swallowed as she stared at her chosen wedding dress, laid out on the bed in front of her. It was beautiful, she thought. She’d gone shopping just a few hours ago with Pearl, Trucy, and Mia (channeled by an acolyte from Kurain) and together they had found a perfect dress. It wasn’t too extravagant, but its simplicity almost seemed to make it more elegant, especially when combined with her pale skin and black hair. They were storing it in Fey Manor, as Pearl and Trucy were big fans of the old ‘the groom can’t see the bride in her dress until the wedding night’ superstition. Maya didn’t believe in that sort of bad luck, but she did think it would be a nice surprise for Phoenix to see her the day of, so she’d agreed to it.

The wedding planning was finished, with the wedding itself only a few weeks away now.

And she was having second thoughts.

Not about marrying Phoenix, of course not, but now that the planning was over she was realizing that the wedding itself just seemed… wrong somehow. It was perfect; they had a beautiful outdoor location, amazing food was going to be catered, and all of the decorations and flowers were lovely, but it was all wrong.

She sat down on the edge of the bed and sighed. It just felt strange to her, having such a big, extravagant wedding in front of so many people, some of which she barely knew. A lot of villagers from Kurain had RSVP’d to come watch their Master get married, and though Maya felt a duty to let them, it also felt so impersonal. She didn’t know these people, not really. Phoenix didn’t know them either. Besides, they’d never been big on showing off their love in front of large crowds, and the guest list after having villagers invited was well over 200. That number seemed baffling to her. All of their close friends combined didn’t even come close to that.

Maya started as the bedroom door opened and Pearl entered, smiling happily. “Oh, are you admiring your dress again, Mystic Maya? It’s so beautiful! You’re going to look like a princess.”

Maya smiled. “It is beautiful.”

Pearl cocked her head. “Is something wrong?”

Maya raised her eyebrows. “Um… I was thinking, that’s it.”

Pearl sat down beside her. “What were you thinking about?”

Maya pursed her lips. “Can I ask you something, Pearly?”

“Of course.”

“Do you think it’s necessary to have such a big, fancy wedding?”

Pearl thought for a moment. “You know, when I was younger, I definitely would have said yes. A big fairytale wedding was the only way to go about it. But now… no, I don’t think it’s necessary. As long as you really, really love the person you’re marrying, that’s all that really matters.”

Maya smiled. “That’s good to hear.”

Pearl scrunched her eyebrows together. “Why are you asking? You’re still going to marry Mr. Nick, right?”

Maya laughed. “Of course. But I think I need to talk to him about maybe… changing some of our wedding plans.”

Pearl’s eyes widened. “But Mystic Maya, everything is already planned and paid for. Everyone’s been invited. The wedding is only a few weeks away, you can’t change anything now!”

Maya stood up. “Well…” she shrugged. “I’ll see what Nick thinks. Anyway, I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. Are you hungry? I’m going to make something to eat.”

Pearl watched slack jawed as Maya left the room to find breakfast.


April 23rd, 2030, 3:00 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

A few days later, Maya sat in the living room of her home, debating when would be the right time to bring her concerns up to Phoenix. She had to do it soon, the date was looming and she had to know if he would be on board.

She looked up at the clock in the room and sighed. No better time than the present, really. He was home thanks to a lack of cases recently, so it was a good opportunity to talk to him.

She got up off the couch and switched the TV off, then headed out of the living room and across the hall to knock on the door to the room Phoenix used as a small office. There was no answer, so she cracked the door slightly to see what he was up to.

She smiled as she saw that he was asleep with his head in his arms. Even when he wasn’t at work, he worked. It wasn’t like they were wanting for money, but considering the tough times he’d had as a rookie lawyer and then during his disbarment, Maya knew he liked to be sure they always had money coming in. Their very expensive wedding probably wasn’t helping his nerves about money either.

She stepped into the office and up to his chair, reaching down to stroke the back of his neck. He stirred slightly, one eye opening to blink up at her. She smiled down at him. “Hi Nick.”

“Mm. Hey,” he said, turning his head and rubbing his face against his arms before sitting up in his chair. He yawned, and Maya let her fingers slide to his shoulder. “What’s up?” he asked, looking up at her groggily.

“I wanted to talk to you about something.”

He sniffed. “Sounds serious.”

“It kind of is.”

He blinked at her, looking a little more awake now. “What?”

She sighed and took a seat in the only other chair in the room. Phoenix swivelled in his office chair to face her. “It’s about the wedding,” she said.

He looked suddenly worried. “What about it? You’re not having second thoughts, are you?”

“No, of course not,” Maya reassured.

His shoulders dropped in relief. “Oh, good.”

Maya smiled and leaned forward in her chair. “Nick, I want to marry you. That’s one thing I’m not going back on, ever. But I was thinking about the wedding itself. Don’t you think it’s sort of big?”

He thought for a moment. “I guess it is. We had to invite all those people from Kurain so that means more food, more seating, more drinks… more money.”

“I know you’ve been worried about the money, which is why you might hate what I’m about to say.”

He sighed. “Go ahead and say it.”

“I want to downsize the wedding.”

He pursed his lips. “Everything is already paid for. If we don’t have this wedding, that’s all money down the drain.”

“We still might be able to get some of our deposits back,” she said. “It’s just… is this really how you envisioned us getting married, Nick?

He sat back, rubbing at the back of his neck. “I’ll be honest, it’s not exactly how I pictured it.”

“How did you picture it?”

“Smaller,” he says, shrugging. “Just our friends. I didn’t picture you inviting so many people from Kurain.”

“Yeah, me neither. I guess the Elders put the pressure on so I felt I should. I didn’t expect so many people would actually RSVP to come, though.”

Phoenix sighed. “So, you want to downsize. How much are we talking?”

Maya bit her lip. “A lot… I want only our friends to be there, and Rose. So…” she started to count on her fingers, “Edgeworth, Larry, Apollo, Pearl, Trucy, Athena, Iris, and Mia. Maybe Detective Gumshoe and Maggey, and possibly Ema. And Rose. That’s it.”

“Only twelve people? That is small.”

“Also, I want to cancel the venue.”

“The park? Really?” Phoenix actually looked slightly disappointed in this.

Maya nodded. “I mean, if you really like it and want to still have it there we can, but I was thinking it’d be more us if we got married… in the courthouse.”

Phoenix stared at her for a second before a smile crept onto his face. It did make perfect sense, the two of them getting married in the courthouse where they had so many memories, good and bad. A small civil ceremony with only their closest friends did sound wonderful, at least compared to the dread he felt having so many people from Kurain that he didn’t know at his wedding.

“You’re smiling,” Maya pointed out. “Does that mean you’re okay with this?”

He sighed. “It sounds great, Maya. But what about the money we’ve already spent?”

“It’s still a few weeks away. We might be able to get our deposits back on the reservation and the flowers. We can keep the catering but have it moved to Kurain Village.”

“Wait, what?”

Maya smiled shyly. “I know a few months back I told you that we shouldn’t expect people to come to Kurain from the wedding, but it’s only a few people who’ll have to get there, and most of them have cars. We can have a party in Kurain so the villagers and other Elders don’t feel left out. We’ll just have all the food taken there.”

“You have this all figured out, huh?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking on it.”

Phoenix sat back. “But you didn’t think to ask me sooner?”

Maya laughed. “Yeah, I guess I should’ve brought it up before now.”

He shook his head slightly. “Honestly, I never know what to expect when it comes to you, Maya. Though I suppose that’s one of the reasons I love you so much.”

She smiled at him. “Thank you for understanding, Nick.”

He nodded. “So, if we’re doing this, we better make some phone calls. We have a few people to disappoint.”

Maya sighed and sat back in her chair. “Yep. Let’s get this over with.”

The Kurain Elders were not happy with the wedding changes, to put it lightly, but Maya stuck to her guns, and with Phoenix there to back her up she found it much easier to take their criticisms in stride. The compromise that they would have the reception party in Kurain didn’t do much to appease them, but at least it was something. Besides, with Rose’s support, the other Elders couldn’t say or do much to stop her.

Pearl and Trucy were a little disappointed that the extravagant wedding they’d helped to plan was no longer going ahead, but in the end all they cared about was that their guardians would be together. Mia was supportive as well when she was next channeled, and Maya found herself more and more grateful that she’d worked up the courage to see her sister again after so many years. She always knew what to say to make Maya feel better.


May 18th, 2030, 2:00 PM
Fey-Wright Residence
Two Hours Before the Wedding

Maya stood in her bedroom, staring at herself in the mirror on the back of the door. Mia stood behind her, already dressed in her bride’s maid’s dress, and smiled.

“You look so beautiful, Maya,” she said.

Maya smiled at her sister through the mirror. “Thank you, Sis. And thanks for helping with my hair and make-up,” she said, admiring the extravagant up-do Mia had helped her with. Her make-up was simple too, but just enough to make her eyes and lips pop. Even though their wedding venue had been changed to the courthouse for a civil ceremony, Maya wasn’t willing to give up the dress. Both she and Phoenix had decided to still dress the part.

“I’m happy I was able to,” Mia said, moving away to sit down on the bed. “We’re lucky we were born Feys, you know. Who else would be able to invite their dead sister to their wedding?”

Maya rolled her eyes, but had to hold back a laugh. It was maybe a weird thing to joke about, but nowadays it felt more like Mia simply lived far away so Maya couldn’t see her often. Eventually it might be strange, the older she got as her sister stayed the same, but for now it was something Maya didn’t think about. She was just grateful to have her sister around for such an occasion.

“You know, I used to want to get married someday,” Mia said. “Obviously that chance is long gone, but I’m so glad you’re getting to experience it. And with Phoenix, no less.”

Maya sat down beside her, smoothing out her dress beneath her. “Did you ever think we would end up together?” Maya asked. “After my trial, that first time, you left me that note. You told me to take care of him. I always wondered if maybe you had a feeling.”

Mia smiled. “Actually, I didn’t. You were my baby sister back then, only seventeen, so it never crossed my mind that you’d end up with him. I just knew you would both need someone to lean on, and maybe I had a feeling or at least hoped you two would become good friends, but I didn’t think about it any further than that. And I trusted him to take care of you and not take advantage, but I also knew he would need someone, too.”

Maya smiled fondly. “Before I ever fell in love with him, he was my best friend. My only friend, really. So thank you, for being the first person to push us together.”

Mia nodded. “Well, we’d better get your shoes on. The car I rented will be around soon to pick us up.”

“You rented a car? How? You don’t have any money or a licence!”

“I wasn’t going to let my little sister take public transport or a taxi to her own wedding, especially not in this dress. There isn’t anywhere to get ready at the courthouse, so I had Rose call in a favour. The car is courtesy of Kurain Village, and it comes with a driver.”

Maya grinned at her. “You are the best sister.”

“I know, I know. Phoenix will be coming with Mr. Edgeworth, right?”

Maya nodded. Phoenix had gone off a few hours earlier to get ready at Edgeworth’s apartment. “Yep. He and Larry should be helping Nick out right now. We’re going to meet at the courthouse at around 3:30.”

“Well then, let’s put the finishing touches on you so we can make sure to get there in time. We don’t want to leave Phoenix hanging. I know how nervous he gets.”

Maya laughed as she got up to head back to her seat in front of the mirror.


May 18th, 2030, 3:45 PM
Courthouse
Fifteen Minutes Before the Wedding

Maya fidgeted in the back of the rental car as Mia went inside the courthouse to find out if the ceremony could start yet. Despite it being a civil ceremony, Maya still wanted to enter in her dress, with her sister essentially walking her ‘down the aisle’, not that there would be an actual aisle. But given they’d decided to have the wedding at the courthouse, there could be other couples waiting before them.

She was nervous, she realized as she smoothed down a part of her dress. She was glad they’d downsized the wedding, because she could only imagine how much worse her nerves would be if there was a large wedding party waiting to see her inside. But stronger than her nerves was her feeling of excitement. Of course, being a Fey and the Master of the Kurain Channeling Technique, she would be keeping her last name, but it was kind of fun to think about being Maya Wright after today. It sounded nice. Or Maya Fey-Wright. Hyphenated could work, too.

She smiled to herself. No, not keeping her last name would really make the Kurain Elders angry. To change the oh-so-prestigious name of Fey to some outsider’s name? That would never fly with them. Besides, to her it was also a way to remember her mother and sister. Phoenix already knew and was completely fine with her keeping her name anyway. It was funny to think back on her days as a seventeen-year-old with a crush though, constantly thinking to herself how great it would be to be Mrs. Wright.

Now it was coming true. She really couldn’t be happier, and she couldn’t wait to get inside to see him.

She was lost in her thoughts of married life and their honeymoon when the car door opened and Mia peered inside at her.

“You can come in now, Maya.”

Maya reached out to take her sister’s hand. Mia looked her over once more as she helped her from the car. “You look amazing, Maya. And Phoenix looks pretty nice, too,” she said.

Maya smiled and took a deep breath. “Okay. Let’s do this.”

Mia led her to the courtroom the small ceremony was to be held in, and as Maya spied the number beside the door, Courtroom No. 1, she realized it was the same courtroom she’d first assisted Phoenix in. It seemed only fitting it would be the room they would be married in.

The first thing she noticed when she entered the room was that it was the same as ever. There were no wedding decorations, no flowers, nothing special at all that stood out. Nothing, except of course, her husband-to-be, and her friends standing to either side of him.

Phoenix had turned from where he was standing near where a witness stand would usually be to finally see his bride-to-be. The smile that spread across his face when he saw her took Maya’s breath away. He looked so handsome, the black suit he was wearing bringing out the blue of his eyes even from across the room.

She was only half aware of the other people in the room. Edgeworth, Larry, and Apollo were all standing to Phoenix’s side, all dressed in semi-formal wear. To the left, where she would be standing, were Pearl, Trucy, and Athena, all in dresses similar to what Mia was wearing. There were a few seats in the room also occupied. Iris sat in one, along with Ema in another, and Rose beside her. Gumshoe and Maggey sat together behind them.

Maya picked up her pace, eager now to get things started. Mia held onto her arm as they walked, until after what seemed like forever, Maya was standing across from Phoenix, and Mia took her spot in the line behind Maya beside Pearl.

Phoenix looked down at her, that smile never leaving his face. “Maya,” he said, so quietly it was almost a whisper. “You look beautiful.”

She held out her hands, placing them in his as she stared up at him. “So do you.”

They smiled at each other, until someone above them cleared their throat. Maya glanced up, and was surprised that she had somehow missed him when she first entered the room. The Judge sat in his seat above them, looking the same as always.

“It seems rather fitting that I’m the judge performing ceremonies today,” he said, looking down at them.

Maya and Phoenix both grinned up at him. “It is fitting, Your Honour,” Phoenix said.

The judge nodded. “Well then. Shall we begin?”

Maya probably wouldn’t be able to tell anyone the words the judge said to begin the ceremony. She was much too busy staring up at Phoenix, admiring him, thinking about their futures together. They’d already been together for so long and yet she was still excited to spend the rest of her days with him. No matter what, he would always be the only man she would ever want or need. He kept his eyes trained on her, looking back and forth between her eyes, glancing down every so often to admire her dress, just taking her in.

When the judge finished saying his words, he cleared his throat yet again. “Have you two written vows you would like to say to each other?”

They nodded simultaneously. “Mr. Wright, you may begin.”

Phoenix took a deep breath, squeezing her hand in his. “I did have something memorized but it all just went out the window because… you’re so breathtaking, Maya, it’s literally all I can think about.”

She laughed. “Nick…”

“Okay, let’s see… romance…” He cleared his throat. “Maya. You have been my closest friend for fourteen years, and my love for almost as long. I literally cannot imagine my life without you in it. You’re beautiful, and funny, and smart, and I can’t wait to spend all the rest of my years with you. I will vow to love you, trust you, respect you, encourage you, and most of all, protect you, no matter what happens. Today I choose you to be my wife, and offer myself in return.”

Maya stared up at him, trying not to let herself cry. Despite the rocky start, Phoenix had clearly thought about what to say, and it was short but sweet, and more than perfect.

“Miss Fey, it’s your turn,” the judge said from above.

Maya blew out a breath to calm herself. All of the words she had thought of also seemed to disappear from her mind as soon as the moment came for her to say them. “Nick, you’ve been my knight in shining armour since the moment I met you. There was never a time in my life since that day that I didn’t have someone I could talk to, or tell about my problems, or go to for help if I needed it, because you were always there. You’ve always been, above all, my best friend…” She took a moment, swallowing back the lump in her throat. “I just love you so much,” she said with a small laugh. “So today I choose you as my husband and offer myself in return.”

The judge seemed to take that as his cue. “You may now exchange rings, if you have them.”

Edgeworth stepped forward from behind Phoenix, handing over the wedding band that had been purchased beforehand. Maya held out her left hand, now absent of her engagement ring, which she’d switched over to her right hand for the ceremony.

“Maya, this ring has no beginning or end, the same as my love for you.”

He slid it onto her finger, the white gold band glittering under the fluorescent lights of the courtroom. She stared down at it, admiring its simplicity. Her engagement ring was big and fancy with a purple amethyst and white diamonds to accent, but the wedding band was a simple plain band, a little bit thicker so as not to look too fragile. It would look amazing with her engagement ring, once she switched it back to her left hand.

Pearl stepped up behind Maya after and handed a ring to her. She looked up at Phoenix and smiled. “This ring is also a symbol of my eternal love for you, and an everlasting friendship,” she said, sliding the wedding band onto Phoenix’s hand.

He looked down at it. Maya had been wearing her engagement ring for months now, but to him it was almost strange, having that symbol there on his finger now.

“And with that,” the judge said, “you may kiss if you wish.”

They came together quickly, as if both of them had been waiting for this particular moment, and were unable to hold back any longer. She’d kissed him thousands of times over the years but this particular kiss, sweet and soft and almost chaste, would stay in her mind forever.

When they pulled apart, the judge nodded. “It’s my honour to now pronounce you husband and wife.”

The small number of guests in the room began to clap, and Maya could definitely hear some sniffles. Pearl wasn’t the only one crying this time, though. Rose was dabbing at her cheeks with a handkerchief, Iris was smiling with tears shining in her eyes, and Gumshoe was sobbing quite loudly as Maggey patted him on the back.

Maya turned and held up her hand, with Phoenix’s still clasped between her fingers. “Now let’s go party!” she yelled.

The soft claps turned to laughter and a few cheers, as Maya dragged Phoenix out of the courthouse, the rest of their guests following behind to their cars. Pearl and Trucy had been invited to ride with Edgeworth, Ema was going to drive Iris, Gumshoe and Maggey were taking their old beat up car, and Rose and Mia were taking the separate rental car that Rose had arrived in.

Phoenix and Maya were surprised outside by a photographer, who snapped a picture of the two of them. He congratulated them before heading on his way, not even offering them a copy of it.

“What was that about?” Phoenix asked as Maya led him to their car.

“Probably paparazzi. We’re more famous than we think we are, Nick,” she said, grinning at him.

“Wow, really?”

“Oh yeah! The Master of Kurain marrying long time friend, famous defense attorney Phoenix Wright? That’s gonna be a headline tomorrow.”

Phoenix chuckled as he shut the car door behind them. The driver in the front seat pulled away from the curb right after. There was a partition, which he kept closed to give the two newlyweds privacy.

“Remind me to get the paper tomorrow. We can cut it out and use it as our wedding picture.”

Maya laughed, snuggling into his side. They quieted down for a few seconds, before Phoenix shifted to look down at her again. “You really do look beautiful, Maya. I’m really glad you decided to wear that dress, even if we were just having a courthouse wedding.”

She smiled up at him. “Thank you, Nick. You look amazing, too. So handsome,” she said, drawing her finger along his jawline.

He leant down a few inches to kiss her again, a little more deeply than their kiss at the made up altar.

“Is it bad that I want to skip the reception and head straight to the honeymoon?” he asked once they pulled apart.

Maya smiled, resting her head against his shoulder again. “No. I kind of want that, too. But we absolutely cannot do that, the Elders and the rest of the village really would run me out.”

He sighed. “Too bad.”

“It’ll be fun,” she said. “And it’ll only be a few hours. Then we’ll finally be alone.”

“Mm. Let’s hope it goes by fast.”

Chapter Text

May 18th, 2030, 7:30 PM
Train from Kurain Village to the Mountains

“That was exhausting, but fun.”

Phoenix smiled down at Maya, curled into his side on the train seat. The car was empty save for the two of them. “It was pretty fun, huh?”

He had to admit it. Having the reception party in Kurain Village had been a great idea. Rose had gone all out, decorating the entire village in celebration, and the party had taken place outside. The air was warm and the sun didn’t set until later, and with the whole village attending plus their friends along with others who hadn’t attended the actual wedding, there was no building anywhere in the village that would have been able to hold everyone. The other Elders made an appearance, but seemed to understand they weren’t all that welcome, and had disappeared back inside without making much of a fuss.

The gates had been decorated with white balloons and ribbon, and flowers of all kinds. The village was filled with cherry blossom trees currently in bloom and had beautiful gardens with fountains, and the homes were all well kept. In the town square there were tables set up with food, music, and fairy lights strung around any of the archways leading into the square. It really had been all very beautiful.

“Who knew Gumshoe could dance like that?” Maya said.

Phoenix laughed. “I know, that was kind of crazy.”

“Edgeworth is a pretty good dancer too, but in a different way.”

Phoenix rolled his eyes. He swore Maya spent more of her time dancing with Edgeworth than she did him.

“And Athena got really drunk,” she said.

“She did. I guess someone should’ve told the bartender to make sure he was checking I.D.”

Maya shrugged. “Oh well. Apollo will take care of her.”

“Hey, did you see how flustered Pearls was when Apollo asked her to dance?”

Maya sat up a bit. “Oh yes. She has such a crush on him. Too bad he’s gay.”

Phoenix gave her a look. “Apollo isn’t gay.”

“He definitely is, Nick,” Maya said, raising her eyebrows. “Gay or bi, but he likes guys for sure.”

“How do you know?”

“Back when all that stuff with Thalassa was happening he was hanging around with Prosecutor Gavin a lot. I could tell. I figured you wouldn’t though. You didn’t notice the two of them at the reception?”

“No. I barely noticed anyone except you,” Phoenix said, leaning down to nuzzle against Maya’s hair. She chuckled. “But, Apollo and Klavier, huh? Poor Pearls.”

“Yeah. But she’ll get over it.”

“I don’t know,” Phoenix said, sighing. “After our wedding don’t you think she’s going to be, you know, fantasizing about her own? She probably has her and Apollo’s wedding planned out already.”

Maya bit her lip to hold in her laugh. “She’s just a teenager,” she said. “She doesn’t need to get married anytime soon, even if she is fantasizing about it. She’ll meet someone else soon enough. You should be more worried about Trucy, after all isn’t she going back to Khura’in after this?”

Phoenix groaned. “Yes. I keep telling her she needs to come home to start school soon, but she just keeps telling me there’s no point going to school if she can make the amount of money she is with her shows in Khura’in. I get that she wants to spend time with her mom and brother, but really… she should go to college.”

“She could very well meet a boy there,” Maya said, looking up to see his reaction. “What if she falls in love and decides to stay there forever and never get an education?”

Phoenix frowned. “Don’t joke about that, Maya.”

“Aaw, you’d miss her.”

“Yes, I would, obviously. She’s my daughter. This past year has been hard enough without her around.”

Maya smiled, resting her head against his shoulder. “She’s going to leave someday whether you like it or not.”

“I know… Just not halfway around the world, okay?”

“I’m just teasing you. She’ll be back soon enough, Nick. Just give her some time.”

“Anyway,” he said, “this cabin is supposedly really nice, right?”

“It’s beautiful, Nick! You’ll love it. Especially the bedroom,” she said, grinning at him.

They’d decided to have their honeymoon at Hazakura, where Maya’s Master’s cabin was located. Phoenix remembered an acolyte mentioning it when he visited Iris before he proposed, and he’d definitely wanted to see it at the time. Having the honeymoon in Kurain Village was out of the question, but there would be no Elders in Hazakura, and Sister Bikini had promised them that she’d have the cabin freshly cleaned and ready for their arrival, and it would save the a lot of money, so he was all for it.

He glanced at Maya again, who’d turned to look out the window. She was admiring the view of the mountain as they got closer. There was no snow at this time of the year, which he was thankful for.

As beautiful as the mountain was, it paled in comparison to Maya. She’d changed out of her wedding dress in Kurain Village into a shorter and lighter cocktail type dress. It was still white, but it’d made it easier for her to dance and mingle without the worry of ruining her actual wedding dress while outside. She’d taken her hair down as well, and though the intricate up-do she’d worn for the wedding had looked beautiful, he preferred her hair down. It was so long these days it fell almost to her buttocks, and the black of it contrasted with the white of her dress.

She had her legs crossed, and he knew she wasn’t doing it on purpose, but the way her dress rode up her thigh slightly was quite tantalizing. He found himself reaching over to touch her knee. She jumped a little in surprise and turned to him. “Nick!” she hissed. “Not on the train!”

“No one is around,” he said, running his hand along her thigh.

She pushed his hand away, though she was smirking as she did so. “I will not be consummating our marriage in a train, Nick. We’ll be there soon. Then we’ll have all night long to do whatever we want. And boy do I have some plans.”

He shifted a little closer to her. “Tell me more.”

“Well to start off with, you can help me out of this dress. It’s pretty comfortable but I already know it’ll be even more comfortable on the floor.”

“And after?”

“We’ll, you know, do the do,” she said, waving a hand. Phoenix rolled his eyes at her immature and definitely not sexy way of putting it. “Get that out of the way. But then!” she said, sultriness coming back to her voice, “…we will eat.”

He blinked. “What?”

“Come on, Nick, this is my honeymoon too! We’ll have all week to have sex, but what you don’t know is Hazakura Temple makes some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, and Sister Bikini assured me they’d deliver fresh meals to the cabin every day, all my favourites!”

“What about me?” Phoenix pouted.

Maya patted his arm. “Oh don’t worry, I gave them a list of your favourite food, too. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of bland chicken breast and dressing-less salad for you to eat.”

“You know I do eat things other than that. I’m not a health freak or anything.”

Maya smiled. “I really did tell them all of your favourite foods. There’ll be lots of good stuff for you, too. We’ll just get to relax, eat, and make sweet loooove the entire week,” she said.

“Do you have to say it that way?”

Maya laughed and leaned over again, taking his arm to hold. “I love you, Nick. You’re adorable.”

He sighed. “Love you too, Maya.”


May 18th, 2030, 8:30 PM
Hazakura Temple

The sun was finally beginning to set when their train pulled into the station at Eagle Mountain. A few acolytes came to get their bags for them and took them in a cart up the mountain. Phoenix stared up at the temple and all the stairs above. The last time he’d made this trek it was still cool and snowy out. At least this time he didn’t run the risk of slipping on ice.

Maya stepped up beside him. “It’s not that bad,” she said, as if reading his mind.

He sighed. “I guess not. We should head up if we want to get to the cabin in time for anything… good to happen tonight.”

She took his hand and smiled up at him. “Oh, good things will definitely be happening tonight.”

The acolytes who had taken their bags could be seen in the distance ahead, and Phoenix had to admit he was glad they didn’t have to carry their own luggage to the top. Behind them two more acolytes followed, though they kept a respectable distance. That was probably a good thing considering Maya spent most of the walk up the stone stairs whispering to him about all the things she wanted to do to him once they got to the cabin.

Sister Bikini met them at the top, in a wheelchair pushed by another acolyte.

“Welcome, you two,” she said, beaming up at them, her chins wobbling slightly.

Maya bent to hug her, and Phoenix did the same when Maya had pulled away. “It’s good to see you again, Sister Bikini.”

“Same to you,” she said. “I’m very sorry I couldn’t make it to the wedding or the party but this bad back of mine makes it quite difficult to travel nowadays. I’m happy you two decided to have your honeymoon here with us, at least!”

“We understand,” Maya said.

Phoenix nodded. “And Hazakura Temple has really had an upgrade these past few years. Plus Maya tells me this cabin is really nice."

Sister Bikini nodded. “Oh, it is! We have it all clean and dusted fresh for you, too. We sent some food up when we got word your train had arrived, so I’m sure you two want to be headed up there straight away,” she said, giving them both a look.

Phoenix rubbed the back of his neck, blushing slightly. “We are kind of tired.”

“Oh, I bet you want to get right into bed… Well! We’ll have your bags brought up and then we’ll leave you two in peace. We’ll bring breakfast to you tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you, Sister Bikini,” Maya said, leaning down once more to peck the older nun on the cheek. They’d become rather close over the years. Sister Bikini was like an aunt to Maya now, certainly a better one than Morgan Fey had ever been.

“You’re very welcome. Now you two better hurry up to that cabin and make sure you have fun! Oh to be young again!”

Maya laughed and took Phoenix by the arm. “Let’s go, Nick.”

Phoenix could see the Master’s cabin before they got to it. It was located a little down a path away from the main temple, secluded in a copse of trees. The front had large windows that faced the other mountain ranges, and stairs leading up to the double doors. The two acolytes who’d been sent ahead with their luggage were just leaving as they arrived. They both bowed at Maya before wishing them a good night.

When they were out of sight, Maya took his hand. “Come on, Nick, I want to show you the inside.”

She dragged him excitedly up the stairs and inside, closing the door gently behind them. He noticed that she made a point of locking it. He looked around. It was luxurious, like something he’d expect to see on one of those home makeover shows on TV.

“Wow,” he said.

“I know!” Maya said, slipping off her shoes at the door. Phoenix was amazed she managed to climb all those stairs in heels. “I haven’t been here for a while, since we moved in together, but I spent a lot of time here before. It was always nice to get away from the Elders and come visit Iris and Sister Bikini with Pearly.”

“I bet it was, in a place like this.”

She sniffed the air. “Time to eat,” she said, seemingly forgetting the order of her earlier plan. Food came first.

Phoenix slipped his own shoes off at the door before following her. She led him into a large dining room with a solid oak table, piled with food. “I don’t get why you had them bring us more food. The reception had a ton of food and we had cake, too.”

Maya was already filling a plate with some of the salads that had been placed on the table. “I didn’t eat that much, Nick,” she said. “That was mainly for our guests. I had some cake and that was about it. I was too busy having fun the rest of the time!”

Phoenix sat down in one of the heavy chairs and grabbed a plate himself. The food looked good and it was here, he might as well enjoy some of it, even if he had eaten more than Maya at the reception. Once she had finished filling her plate, she sat down in the chair beside him, purposely dragging it over to be just that much closer to him.

They ate mostly in silence, until Maya pulled the bowl of fruit towards her. She glanced at it before smiling slyly at him, and he knew exactly what she wanted. He picked up one of the strawberry pieces from the bowl and held it out to her.

Maya simply pouted. “Nick.”

“What?”

“There’s no whipped cream on it.”

He sighed and reached over to pull the bowl of cream towards him. He dipped it in, then held it out to her. She leaned forward to take it from his fingers, her lips just grazing his finger tips. He watched her chew it delicately. For all Maya ate, she was never a pig about it, and watching her eat was almost… sensual in a way, whether it was strawberries and cream or a hamburger, it didn’t really matter, he liked watching her enjoy herself.

He fed her a few more, until Maya reached up to grip his wrist with her hand as she took another into her mouth, stopping him from pulling away. She held his hand there and swallowed the piece in her mouth, then licked her lips, and brought his hand closer to her mouth.

Her lips closed around his finger, and he could feel the warmth of her tongue caressing his fingertip, licking off the bit of strawberry juice still there. He felt a jolt of arousal shoot straight down. Maya knew exactly how to get him.

“Maya…”

“Mm?” She’d moved on to his other fingers, kissing his palm and swiping her tongue over his fingertips. “You taste good, Nick.”

He pulled his hand from her grip, and she blinked at him, her little smirk never leaving her face. He reached forward to wrap his hand around the back of her neck and pulled her forward to kiss her. She tasted like the strawberries she’d been eating. She smiled against his lips. “You’ve always liked that,” she murmured.

He pressed his forehead against hers, not saying anything. Maya pulled back. “Go to the living room, Nick,” she said quietly. “I’ll be right in.” She pushed her chair back and got up, and Phoenix watched her leave the room. He took a deep breath. Why did she always tease him, turn him on, and then make him wait?

He got up and made his way back to the living room. The black leather couch looked comfortable enough, and there was a plush white rug on the floor. The end tables were heavy wood that looked similar to the dining table. There was a bookcase and an armchair on the other side of the room, and a fireplace that was currently empty. There were some art pieces on the walls too, but the main view was the large front windows. He couldn’t see much outside now that it was dark out, but out here in the mountains with none of the city lights, he could see the sky. The stars seemed so bright here, almost as if being up on the mountain put him closer to them. The moon was out too, not quite full but still bathing the tops of the trees outside in white moonlight.

He turned on one of the lamps on the side table and sat down to wait for Maya. Unlike Maya he’d never changed from the suit he’d worn to the courthouse for the wedding, so he went about taking off his jacket and tie and unbuttoning a few buttons on his shirt to get more comfortable. He was of course hoping that Maya would come back down and they could finally get to the good part of the night, particularly after what had just gone on in the dining room, but Maya had always been unpredictable so he simply sat there and waited, wondering what she had in store for him next.

She seemed to be taking quite a while, and he was considering going to find her when he heard her voice call out his name. He turned to see her entering through the doorway. She stopped there and leaned back against the door frame.

Now out of her dress, she was instead wearing a very skimpy negligee. It was barely long enough to cover her butt, and was practically see through anyway. He could clearly see the panties she was wearing beneath, the flat of her stomach and her belly button, and of course everything above clear as day. Her hair was still hanging loosely around her.

He swallowed as she came forward. “Cat got your tongue, Nick?”

“Uuh…”

She laughed a little. “You know something I really love about you, Nick?” she said, coming around the couch to sit across his lap.

He wrapped his arms around her. “What’s that?”

“You still look at me like this is our first time all over again, like it’s the first time you’re seeing me like this. Back then you looked at me like I was the most beautiful woman in the world.”

“You were… you still are.”

She smiled at him. “I didn’t think so back then.”

He lifted his head to raise an eyebrow. “Really?”

“I never thought I was ugly or anything but I didn’t think anyone would ever look at me the way you did that time. It made me feel so loved. And a lot less terrified.”

Phoenix laughed. “Why were you terrified?”

“It was my first time,” she said, pouting. “I’d heard stories about it hurting or whatever… and you were so big,” she said, running her finger along his neck and stopping at his chest. “It was scary.”

“You seemed to like it, even if you were scared.”

“Well, I wasn’t scared the whole time. You were pretty good, I’ll give you that. You put me at ease, but also made sure I felt good.” She started to unbutton his shirt. “Really good.”

He leaned forward to pepper kisses along her collarbone. “No more talking,” he murmured. “It’s a good memory, but how about we focus on making new memories now?”

She let out a breath of laughter before kissing him again and running her fingers over his chest as she pushed his shirt open. His own hands ran over back, the thin material of her negligee making her feel even more enticing. All he wanted was to get that thin barrier out of the way so he could feel her, skin to skin.

They stood up together, their kiss devolving into something more frantic as they took each other’s clothes off. Phoenix only had long enough to think quickly about how they were in the living room, in front of a large open window, before all sense left him, and he was pushing Maya down onto her back, into the plush white carpet on the floor.


May 19th, 2030, 8:30 AM
Master’s Cabin, Eagle Mountain

It had taken a few hours and multiple rooms along with many different pieces of furniture (and plenty of cuddle breaks) before they finally made it to the master bedroom and into Maya’s four-poster bed. They’d made love once more there before finally falling asleep with legs tangled together and arms wrapped around each other under the expensive sheets.

Phoenix woke the next morning to the soft feeling of Maya’s fingers on his abdomen. He stayed quiet, but when her fingers began to move, he couldn’t pretend to be asleep any longer.

“Maya,” he murmured. Her fingers stopped their downward movement. “What are you doing?”

She lifted her head from her pillow. “Aw, you’re awake.”

He turned his head to look at her. “I didn’t say you had to stop.”

“It’s not as fun if you’re already awake,” she said, removing her hand from his stomach.

He sighed and rolled over to face her. She smiled at him, looking just as beautiful as ever, even in the morning with her hair a mess and her eyes still bleary from sleep. She glanced down and moved her arms out from under the covers, reaching over to take his hand in hers. Phoenix raised an eyebrow.

“What’s with your and my hands all of a sudden?”

Maya smiled as she ran her fingers over his knuckles. “Last night I just did that to get you going, and it definitely worked,” she said, looking up at him. “But you know what I just noticed?”

“Hm?”

“A wedding ring is pretty sexy when it’s your husband wearing it. Especially when he’s not wearing anything else.”

He laughed. “You look pretty sexy with just a wedding ring on, too, you know.”

Maya smiled, letting go of his hand so she could sit up to glance at the alarm clock. “They’ll be bringing breakfast up soon.”

Phoenix sat up, leaning back against the head of the bed. “What happens if we don’t answer the door?”

“I’m sure they’ll just leave and come back a little later,” Maya said, shifting a bit. “Why?”

He shrugged. “You know, in case we’re busy.”

Maya smiled, biting her tongue between her teeth as she did. “Oh?” she said, letting the blankets fall from around her as she got onto her hands and knees to crawl closer to him. “Busy with what?”

He sat back, reaching forward to steady her as she slipped a leg across his waist to straddle him. “Seems you already know with what,” he said, his arms reaching around her to hold her closer.

Maya sighed, resting her hands on his shoulders. “I guess I can wait until lunchtime to eat,” she said, leaning forward to kiss him.

Fifteen minutes later, when the two acolytes from Hazakura Temple knocked on the front door of the cabin, there was no answer. They simply looked at each other knowingly before dragging their cart of food back to the temple. They would have to deliver it later.

Chapter Text

August 10th, 2030, 7:00 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

The house was surprisingly quiet when Phoenix entered it after work. Trucy was back in Khura’in (though she’d promised him she’d be applying to schools and would come home to start college in September) with Apollo and Thalassa, and Pearl wasn’t around either. Normally he would find Maya watching TV in the living room, but he didn’t hear the sound of the TV at all. The house was quiet.

He figured maybe she had to stay late in Kurain until he glanced down and saw that her sandals were at the door. She was home, but where was she? He took his suit jacket off, revelling in the feeling of the air conditioning after being outside in the heat, and rolled up his sleeves before heading to the kitchen. That was usually the next place he would find her if she wasn’t in the living room.

She wasn’t there either. He did a quick sweep of the downstairs before heading up to the second floor. Maybe she’d gone to take a nap in their room.

“Maya?” he called as he entered the upstairs hallway. Their bedroom door was closed, but when he opened it all he found was an empty room and a made bed. “Maya?”

He heard a noise from their ensuite bathroom and headed towards the closed door. “Maya? Are you in there?”

“D-Don’t come in, Nick! I’m… busy.”

“What are you busy with that I can’t see?”

She paused. “I’m… I’m doing number two!”

Phoenix stopped. Okay, not exactly something he needed to witness. He took his hand away from the door handle to leave her alone, but stopped when he heard Maya sniffle from inside. “Maya? Are you sure you’re okay?”

There was no answer this time, so he wasted no time pushing open the door, glad that it wasn’t locked. Maya looked up from her place on the closed toilet lid. “Nick! I told you not to come in.”

He stared down at her. “What are you doing? Why are you in here crying? Is Pearls okay?”

Maya nodded, wiping at her face hurriedly to get rid of her tears. “Everyone is fine… sorry for worrying you. I’m okay.”

He knelt down in front of her. “Maya, please tell me what’s wrong. Do you know how much it scares me finding my wife crying in the bathroom when I come home?”

She pointed towards the counter. He stood up again to find what she was pointing at. He hadn’t noticed it before, but there was a small white stick sitting on the counter near the sink. As soon as he set his eyes on it he knew what it was. Another negative pregnancy test. Maya seemed to go through this at least once every few weeks; buying and using a test despite never missing a period or having any other sort of symptoms. It was negative every time. Phoenix was starting to worry that she was obsessing, and it was only making her more stressed out about everything.

He sighed and looked back towards her. “Didn’t we agree that you’d stop doing this, Maya? It’s only making you feel worse.”

Maya shook her head, ignoring his statement. “It’s been over a year, Nick,” she murmured. “Way more than a year now, almost two years since we started trying.”

He nodded. “I know.” It was even hard for him to remain positive anymore. He’d been so sure it would happen eventually, so sure that he kept putting off doctor’s appointments. It was about time that stopped. This was something Maya really wanted, and it hurt him to see her hurting so much over it.

He knelt down in front of her again, taking her hands in his. “I think it’s time we go to the doctor.”

She looked at him. “Really?”

“Yeah. I told you a year, and it’s been closer to two now. We should get checked out. It’ll help to know if there’s something wrong.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

“I’m sorry for putting it off for so long.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “We had a lot of other things going on. And I tried to stay positive like you, but I can’t anymore. And…”

“And?”

She sniffed again. “I miss Trucy, and Pearly is so busy in Kurain lately that I don’t see her that often anymore either, even when I’m there. This house feels so big and empty with just us here. We got this place because it had so much extra room for when we had kids. And now it’s just… empty.”

He tucked a stray piece of her hair behind her ear. She wasn’t wearing her regular hairstyle, which was just another indication of how bad she was feeling. “I understand. I miss them, too.”

“Plus,” Maya continued, “I turned 30 this year, Nick. You know the chances of becoming pregnant start to decline once you hit 30?”

“Don’t worry about that, Maya. Woman nowadays can still have kids into their forties.”

She took a deep breath. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to apologize. You’re the optimistic one in this relationship when it comes to everything else, you know. It’s fine if this is the one thing you can’t bring yourself to stay upbeat about. It sucks, I know that. Just don’t get too hopeless on me, okay? We can’t give up until we know for sure what’s making it so difficult.”

She nodded. “I won’t.”

He got back to his feet and held a hand out to her. “Come on. I think the couch is probably comfier than the toilet lid.”

She managed a laugh as she took his hand and was pulled to her feet. She reached for the pregnancy test and chucked it into the trash bin. He led her into the bedroom, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

“I’ll call for an appointment before I go to work tomorrow morning, okay?”

Maya nodded, stopping in the middle of the room. “Actually, I think I’m going to lie down for a bit.”

Phoenix looked at her. Really looked at her. She always looked beautiful in his eyes, but right now she looked downright tired. Her hair was messy, her eyes were still bleary from crying, she was dressed in an old housecoat, and though she didn’t wear a lot of makeup to begin with, she wasn’t wearing the usual lip gloss or light mascara she usually had on. She had always been good at hiding her emotions, but this wasn’t something that was easy for her to pretend was okay.

He came forward to kiss her on the forehead. “Okay. Do you want me to make something for dinner, or do you want take out?”

She shrugged. “Whatever you feel like, Nick.”

He tried not to let her half-hearted answer get to him. “Okay. Have a good nap.”

She smiled and nodded, already crawling into their bed. “Thanks.”

“I love you.”

“Mm. Love you, too.”

He stood by the door for a few extra moments, watching her settle into her pillow, before he stepped out and closed the door gently behind him.

He headed downstairs. He didn’t think he wanted to cook, so he grabbed his phone to call for a pizza. After he’d made the order, he sat on the couch and decided to call up Pearl.

She answered after a few rings. “Hello?”

“Hey Pearls.”

“Mr. Nick! Why are you calling so late?”

“Ah, sorry about that—”

“Oh, it’s no problem! I was just wondering. Is everything okay over there?”

“Yeah, everything is fine. I was just wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner tomorrow? Maybe you can come home with Maya when she’s finished in Kurain for the day, and go back with her in the morning?”

“Sure, that sounds great.” She paused. “Are you sure there’s nothing wrong, Mr. Nick? You don’t usually call me up randomly during the week.”

“I know you always spend the weekend here but me and Maya… well, we both miss you. Maya says you’re always training in Kurain so she doesn’t even get to see you much when she’s there. And with Trucy not here either, the house is so quiet. I just think it’d be nice to spend the evening together.”

Pearl was quiet for a second, almost as if gauging what he was saying. He was sure he didn’t exactly sound super upbeat after what had just gone on with Maya, but there was no way he was going to burden Pearl with that information. “Aaw, Mr. Nick,” she finally said. “I miss you guys, too. Sure, I’ll come home with her tomorrow after she’s done her channeling for the day.”

“Great. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Alright. Have a good night, Mr. Nick.”

“You too, Pearls. Night.”

They hung up, and Phoenix set his phone down on the coffee table, feeling a little bit better. Hopefully Maya would feel better too, once she knew Pearl would be visiting. He wished Trucy was around to visit as well, but it would be another month or so before they would see her in person again.

When the pizza arrived half an hour later he took the entire box, some plates, and some napkins upstairs to their room. Maya was still asleep when he walked in, so he set the pizza on his nightstand and ran back downstairs to get some drinks. When he came back, Maya was shifting in bed, and he smiled. She had a nose like a hound when it came to food. He sat down on the bed beside her as she stretched and finally opened her eyes to blink up at him.

“I got food,” he said.

“Pizza?” she said hopefully.

“Mhm. I brought it up here. Figured we could eat it in bed.”

She smiled and sat up, fluffing her pillow behind her. “Sounds great.”

He sat back against the headboard and handed Maya a plate. “I talked to Pearl, by the way,” he said, bringing the entire box of pizza onto the bed with them.

“Oh? What did she want?”

“I called her, actually. She’s going to come home with you tomorrow for dinner.”

Maya looked at him, understanding dawning on her face. Then she smiled at him. “Thank you, Nick.”

“What do you mean?” he said, starting to pick the mushrooms off of his slice of pizza.

“You called her because I said I miss her and Trucy. So thank you.”

He leaned over to place a kiss on her temple. “You’re welcome.”

Pearl’s visit the next night seemed to be just what Maya had needed. Even if it was only for a night, sitting down and eating dinner, then making some popcorn and watching a movie together on the couch, reminded Phoenix of their time together way back before he and Maya had even become a couple. When Pearl was still a little eight year old girl curled up between he and Maya and falling asleep with her head in his lap, and he and Maya carrying her to bed before finishing the movie themselves. Of course nowadays Pearl rarely fell asleep, and if she did they would simply wake her so she could go to bed herself.

Maya was in a good mood for the rest of the week, even after Pearl had gone home, at least up until the day of their follow-up doctor’s appointment.


August 20th, 2030, 1:00 PM
Doctor’s Office

Phoenix hated doctors, but as much as he hated them, he knew the tests and samples he had to give were nothing compared to the examinations Maya had to go through during their appointment a few days earlier. They gave him a cup and some magazines and sent him into a room, took some blood, did a physical. It was embarrassing, but it hadn’t taken long. Maya on the other hand needed certain invasive examinations, blood tests, urine tests, all other manner of things. Not to mention the questions. There were so many questions.

It had taken a few hours altogether, and they left the office that day not really sure how to feel. The doctor told them it would take a few days for the tests to come back, and now here they were, sitting in his office again and waiting to be called back to hear the results.

Maya hadn’t let go of his hand since arriving. They’d given their names to the secretary and Maya had clung to him the entire time.

“I’m nervous,” she murmured to him quietly, looking around the office at the other waiting patients.

“Me too,” he said. He hoped there would be no issue at all, that it would simply be something unexplainable and that the doctor would tell them to just keep trying. But part of him hoped that if there was some sort of issue, it would be with him. He couldn’t bear the thought of this problem being something wrong with Maya. It would devastate her, and he knew she would blame herself. If there had to be something wrong, let it be his fault.

Everyone in the room turned to look when the door into the back of the office opened and a nurse poked her head out. “Mr. and Mrs. Wright?”

Maya squeezed his hand. Normally she would correct someone who called her “Mrs.” but in this case, she didn’t bother. They stood up together and followed the nurse to the doctor’s office. They were only here for results, so no examinations were necessary.

The nurse opened the door and ushered them inside. The doctor was sitting at his desk and stood up to greet them as the nurse closed the door behind them. “Please have a seat,” he said, indicating the two armchairs in front of his desk.

Maya sat down, pulling Phoenix by the hand. He lowered himself into the chair beside her and they both waited for the news.

The doctor folded his hands on top of his desk. “Thank you both for coming in today.”

Maya nodded. “Please, just get right to it,” she said, a little snappily. Phoenix didn’t blame her. He’d rather skip the small talk, too.

“Of course,” the doctor nodded. He turned to Phoenix. “Mr. Wright, your tests all came back fine—”

“So it’s my fault then,” Maya interrupted.

Phoenix turned to her. “Maya, it’s no one’s fault.”

The doctor nodded. “Mrs. Wright—”

Ms. Fey,” she corrected. Phoenix could tell she was getting annoyed.

The doctor cleared his throat. “Ms. Fey. The issue we found is with your uterus itself. It appears to be abnormally shaped. It’s smaller than normal and one side hasn’t developed properly. It’s congenital, meaning you were born with it. We also found that because of this abnormality, you only have one functioning fallopian tube. That obviously makes it more difficult to become pregnant.”

Maya took a breath as she listened to the news, and Phoenix squeezed her hand. Again he wished this burden had fallen on him instead. Despite being something she was born with, something she couldn’t help, he knew Maya would blame herself for it.

“So, what does that mean?” she asked. “Is it impossible to get pregnant? Is there anything I can do?”

“We can do surgery to help with the fertility issues, and if you do end up becoming pregnant we need to take measures to lower the risks of miscarriage or preterm delivery. Those are still risks, of course, so I advise you to think about those before you move on with any plans for surgery.”

Maya looked at the floor. “Okay.”

The doctor looked to Phoenix. “I’m sorry I don’t have better news for you two.”

Phoenix shook his head. “We’re just glad we finally know. We’ll talk it over at home. Thank you, doctor.”

He nodded and looked at Maya, though her eyes were still downcast. “If you do decide on surgery, simply call to make another appointment. We can discuss it further at that time.”

“Thank you, doctor,” Phoenix said, letting go of Maya’s hand to shake the doctor’s. He stood up and turned to Maya. “Come on, Maya. Let’s go home.”

She got up, and he could see the look on her face before her fringe covered her eyes. She was trying not to cry. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders protectively and led her out of the office.

Their ride back to the country and their home was quiet, but for once it wasn’t a comfortable silence between them. Phoenix wanted to say something, to comfort Maya in some way, but got the feeling that Maya didn’t want that, at least not right now. So he sat beside her as she stared out the window, not a word being spoken between them.


August 20th, 2030, 3:30 PM
Fey-Wright Residence

When the taxi finally pulled up outside their home, Maya jumped from the car and headed inside without even waiting for him. Phoenix paid the driver and headed inside after her. By the time he made it in the door, Maya had already shed her shoes and had disappeared from the foyer.

He took his time taking off his own shoes and coat. He wasn’t sure whether he should go to her or not, but in the end decided he had to. They couldn’t be divided over this, they had to stay strong together.

He headed upstairs, knowing already that Maya would be in their bedroom. When he opened the door into their room, he found Maya lying on the bed, her back to the door. He said nothing as he crawled onto the bed beside her and wrapped his arm around her waist. “Maya… Do you want to talk about it?”

She took a shaky breath. “Not really. I just… want to sleep for now.”

“Can you turn around?”

“Why?”

“I want to look at you.”

She sighed, but started to shift so she could turn onto her other side. He saw a single tear slide down her face as she turned. He used a thumb to wipe it away. “It’ll be okay, Maya. This isn’t the end of the world.”

“Yeah. I know.”

He brushed her hair from her face as fresh tears welled in her eyes, and she shifted closer to him, tucking her head beneath his chin. He tightened his arms around her and let her cry until she finally fell asleep.

When Phoenix woke a few hours later, Maya wasn’t with him any longer. He was surprised at how long he slept, apparently the day had been more tiring for him than he thought. He could smell food and got up, deciding to head downstairs to see what Maya was cooking.

When he turned into the kitchen Maya was standing over the stove stirring a pan of rice mixed with chicken and vegetables.

Maya glanced towards him as he entered. “You’re awake.”

“Mm. How long have you been up?” he said, coming into the kitchen to sit on one of the stools at the island counter.

“Half an hour, maybe. I was hungry.”

“Smells good.”

“Thanks.”

He tapped his fingers against the counter. “Maya.”

“What?”

“Are we going to talk about this?”

“I’d rather not.”

“We need to.”

She set her wooden spoon down on the stove and turned towards him. “Fine. I want to get the surgery,” she said. Phoenix swallowed. He was afraid of that. Maya pursed her lips. “You don’t approve. I can tell.”

“I just hate the idea of you being cut open and then even if the surgery is a success and you do get pregnant it’ll still be high risk. You could have a miscarriage or our baby could be born prematurely. If either of those things happened… Maya, do you really think you could handle that? Losing a baby after trying so hard to have one?”

“The doctor said we could take precautions.”

Precautions, Maya. It’s not a for sure thing they’ll work. I know you really want a baby, but is it worth the risks?”

She turned back to the stove and turned it off. “I don’t know, Nick. Maybe.”

“Ultimately it’s your choice. It’s your body. I just think you should think about it a little longer. And remember that there are other ways to have kids. Pearls and Trucy are proof of that, and they’re no different than a biological child.”

She was beginning to spoon out the stir fry onto some plates. “I know that.”

She brought their plates over and set his in front of him, handing him a fork and napkin. She sat down on the stool beside him and began to eat.

In the almost fifteen years he’d known her, the only time he ever felt uncomfortable around Maya was that very first night they met, when he found her crying over her sister’s dead body. There was never a moment after that, even when they’d barely known each other, that he’d been uncomfortable around her.

He was uncomfortable now. Maya was eating, shovelling her food into her mouth quickly, and he got the feeling she was trying to finish as fast as possible so she could get away from him and their conversation. He picked up his own fork and began to eat, much more slowly than her.

They said nothing until Maya was finished. She grabbed her plate, set it in the sink, and turned back to him. “Nick, I think I’m going to go to Kurain for the night.”

He looked up at her, blinking. “What? Why?”

“To think things over. I just… want to be near my family.”

“I am your family.”

“You know what I mean, Nick. I want to see Pearly again. You can come if you want to.”

He shook his head, not wanting to believe that Maya would simply flee back to Kurain after one bit of bad news. She didn’t want to be around him right now, he could tell. “No, I think it’s pretty clear you’d rather I didn’t.”

“It has nothing to do with you,” she said. “I’m just tired of this big, empty house. I want to go somewhere where it’s more lively, just for the night.”

He found himself unable to look her in the eye, so he stared down at the countertop. “Whatever you need, Maya.”

“Are you mad?”

“No,” he said. It was true, he wasn’t mad. He was hurt, though he tried not to show it.

She stepped towards him and leaned in to kiss him on the temple, as if her show of affection would make everything better. She ran her hand over his hair. “I’m gonna go pack a bag.”

He nodded. “Alright.”

She left the room, and he finished his dinner. Maya was back downstairs a few minutes later with a small duffel bag. She’d called a taxi while she got ready, and they were outside and waiting by the time he was finished eating.

She entered the kitchen again as he was washing their dishes.

“I’m going now, Nick. Are you sure you don’t want to come?”

“I’m sure,” he said, not even turning around. “When will you be back?”

“Tomorrow night, probably.”

“Alright.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Mhm.”

“I love you,” she said.

“Love you, too.”

With that she said no more. She left out the front door and he went to the kitchen window to watch the taxi drive away. She hadn’t even kissed him goodbye.

He turned from the window and stood there in the silence. Without Maya, the house felt even bigger, and even emptier. He understood Maya’s need to go be with Pearl, but he still felt hurt that being here with him wasn’t good enough for her.

He finished the dishes and went to the living room to watch TV. Knowing that Maya was going to see Pearl made him want to call Trucy, but it would be early morning in Khura’in, so he couldn’t, which hurt almost as much as Maya leaving for night.

If Maya thought she was the only one who hated how empty the house felt without Trucy and Pearl around, she was dead wrong.

Chapter Text

August 21st, 2030, 9:30 AM
Fey Manor

Maya rolled over, flinging her arm across the bed to reach for Phoenix as she always did. She woke up before him almost every morning, and every morning she would cuddle up to him, and he would wrap his arm around her shoulders even if he was still half asleep. She’d spend the next fifteen minutes to half an hour simply enjoying his warmth, his scent, and his closeness before his alarm clock would wake him up for real, and they would get out of bed to start their day.

When her arm hit the other side of the bed this time, rather than the warm skin of her new husband, Maya’s eyes popped open, and she remembered where she was as the bedroom came into focus. She stuffed her face back into her pillow as the memory of the day before came back to her. It had been awful, and she didn’t want to remember the bad news she’d gotten. More than she didn’t want to remember that, she didn’t want to remember how hurt Phoenix had looked when she left that night. She tried to tell herself not to feel bad; she’d told him he could come and he didn’t want to. Was that her fault?

She sighed. No, she could try telling herself it wasn’t her fault all she wanted, but when he said it was clear that she didn’t want him to come, he was right. She hadn’t wanted him to come because she knew he would want to talk about it. It wasn’t wrong of him, of course they needed to talk about it, especially after she’d declared so suddenly that she wanted the surgery without even thinking about it first, but she didn’t want him to try talking her out of it, so she’d run away like a child not wanting to listen to her parents.

Even that wasn’t fair. Phoenix wouldn’t try to talk her out of it. All he’d said was that she needed to think about it longer, not decide so quickly. They needed to think about other options and weigh the risks that came with it. He was only worried for her wellbeing. She felt terribly guilty about everything now that it was the next morning, and he wasn’t there with her in bed. Alongside the guilt came embarrassment. She was a 30 year old woman now, married to the love of her life and the mother to two young ladies who were practically adults themselves. It was time she stopped acting like a teenager.

She lay in bed a few minutes longer, until her guilt forced her up to find her phone.

She found it on the nightstand and opened it up to find Phoenix’s contact. The picture she was using as her phone background was a picture of them on their wedding day outside the courthouse, and she stared at it for a second before opening her contacts. Pearl had found it in the newspaper the day after their wedding and had cut out the picture and accompanying article. They had a laugh about it when they returned from their honeymoon, and Maya had snapped a picture of the photo to use. There was something about the grainy newspaper photo that she liked more than any of the professional photos they’d had taken in Kurain Village during the reception.

She hit Phoenix’s contact and waited for it to ring. At this time of the morning he’d only just be arriving at work, or maybe still on his way if he was running late, which was definitely possible without her or Trucy there to make sure he got up in time. There was no reason for him not to answer. And yet he didn’t. She left him a voicemail and then sent him a quick text message, telling him she hoped he was okay and that she loved him and would be back soon. She didn’t want to bombard him with phone calls if he was busy, so she tossed her phone onto the bed beside her and left it at that.

She waited a few minutes just in case he called her back, but she got no reply, so she slipped out of bed and put her housecoat on. She left the room, letting her nose guide her to the kitchen where she found Pearl eating breakfast.

“Good morning, Mystic Maya,” Pearl said, looking up from her bacon and eggs.

Maya grabbed a plate and some food for herself off the stove and joined Pearl at the table. “Morning.”

Pearl looked at her a moment, then back down at her plate. When Maya arrived the evening before, she’d told Pearl not to bother her with questions. She’d needed reassurance that Maya wasn’t there because of any sort of argument with Phoenix, even if that wasn’t necessarily true, which Maya gave her. It hadn’t really been an argument anyway, but now Maya knew that it was possibly the first time during their happy three months of marriage that there was an issue between them. She couldn’t let Pearl know that, so she’d told Pearl that everything was fine and that she simply missed her and wanted to come see her.

Pearl clearly didn’t believe her though, and she was still curious, if the way she kept glancing up at Maya as if expecting another explanation was any indication. Maya sighed, unable to concentrate on her food.

“Mystic Maya?” Pearl started meekly, seeming to sense Maya’s lowered defenses. “Can you please tell me what’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” Maya said.

Pearl tapped her fork against her plate. “I mean, you showed up here last night out of the blue, wanting to stay the night, without Mr. Nick. I know you said you didn’t have a fight and you just missed me but… you’ve never come to visit me randomly like this before, especially not without Mr. Nick.”

Maya said nothing, and Pearl sighed. “Mystic Maya, I’m not a kid anymore, you know. You can talk to me about stuff that’s bothering you. I’m old enough to understand it now. I promise I won’t bug you about it if it does have something to do with Mr. Nick. I know that sometimes couples have rough patches, even couples as perfect as you two.”

Maya found herself smiling. Were they really a perfect couple? In all the years she’d know Phoenix they’d never truly fought over anything, not seriously. They had little arguments here and there, even as friends they’d had those, but they’d never yelled at each other or said hurtful words. For a relationship lasting almost fifteen years, that was pretty amazing. But no one was perfect, not even them.

“I’m sorry, Pearly,” she said. “It’s just something I’d rather you not worry about.”

Pearl bit her lip. “I worry anyway. When you don’t tell me I just assume the worst case scenario. I’d be less worried if you just told me what’s going on.”

Maya thought for a moment. “Alright Pearly, if you do me a big favour, I’ll tell you what’s wrong a little later.”

Pearl nodded. “Anything you need, Mystic Maya.”

“I need to talk to my sister again. I need to talk to her before anyone else, understand?”

“Of course. Right now?”

Maya nodded. “No better time than the present, I guess.”

Pearl nodded once more and sat back in her chair. She put her hands together to begin her channeling. Even being the Master herself, being the one who was supposed to be the most powerful spirit medium in Kurain, watching Pearl channel was amazing. It was no secret she was more skilled than Maya. She could find and latch onto a spirit so quickly, she never had to murmur any sort of incantation or words to bring a spirit to her, and her transformation didn’t take long either. Maya was never jealous of her cousin’s skills though, if anything she was continually impressed. Within just a few seconds, Mia was sitting across from her in Pearl’s place.

She opened her eyes and looked around before settling her curious gaze on Maya.

“Good to see you again, Sis,” Maya said.

Mia smiled. “It’s always nice to visit,” she said, pausing for a second before continuing. “But I get the feeling there was a reason you called me?”

“How could you tell?”

Mia tapped her finger on the table. “We’re in Fey Manor, for one. You’re in a housecoat eating breakfast, so it’s sometime in the morning. And Phoenix isn’t around. Did something happen?”

Maya had to remind herself that there was a reason Mia had been such a good lawyer. Piecing things together from scraps of information was her specialty. Maya sighed. “I just wanted some advice.”

“On? If you’re having marriage problems already, I’m not the person to ask. It might be weird to think about but you’ve had more relationship experience than I have at this point.”

Maya chuckled. “I don’t really know if it’s a marriage issue or not at the moment.”

Mia looked at her more seriously. “What’s going on?”

“Okay. Remember a while back, before the wedding, I told you we were having issues getting pregnant? Well we finally went to the doctor last week about it,” she explained. “We’ve been trying for forever and nothing. So yesterday we went back for a follow-up appointment for the results of all the tests and stuff they did last week.” Mia stayed quiet, not wanting to interrupt. Maya took a deep breath. “It’s my fault, Sis,” she said. “My uterus is too small or something, and only one of my fallopian tubes is working.”

Mia had been expecting something like that. She reached across the table to grip her sister’s hand. She knew this was tough news for Maya. “What else did the doctor say about it?”

“There’s surgery to fix it,” Maya said, “but if I got pregnant after the surgery, there’d still be risks of miscarriage or preterm delivery. I mean, there’s still a chance I could get pregnant without the surgery, too, but obviously it would come with those same risks, and it’s a lot less likely. They can take precautions to prevent that stuff if it does happen, but the risk is still there.”

“I’m sorry, Maya,” Mia said, squeezing her hand. “I know how much you want a baby.”

Maya nodded, a few tears slipping down her cheeks.

“What did Phoenix say?”

“I told him I wanted to get the surgery, but he didn’t approve. I know it’s my body and my decision, he said so himself, but knowing that he doesn’t want me to do it makes it hard, you know? And besides, he brought up a good point last night.”

“Which was?”

“Even with the precautions we would take if I did get pregnant, they’re only precautions. If I still ended up having a miscarriage or early delivery, would I be able to take it? After so long trying and failing, then finally succeeding only to have my child ripped away from me again… would I be able to get over that? I just don’t know what the answer to that is. And I don’t want Nick to suffer along with me if I can’t.”

Mia was quiet for a moment. “For once in my life, Maya, I don’t know what advice to give you. This is something you need to think very hard about, and you need to discuss it with Phoenix. Can I ask why you’re here, and he’s not? Did you two have a fight over it?”

Maya shook her head. “No. I just… I wanted to get out of that house. I will admit I have baby fever and it’s making me crazy. It doesn’t help that Trucy is gone overseas again, and Pearly lives here for the most part. It’s me and Nick alone in that big, empty house in the middle of nowhere and I just wanted to come here to visit Pearly again and be somewhere where there’s people around. I told Nick he could come but he didn’t think I wanted him to, so he stayed home.”

Did you want him to come?”

Maya blinked back some more tears, finally admitting it out loud. “N-No… I only offered because I thought he was mad at me. I just wanted to get away so I wouldn’t have to talk about it and I knew he’d want to talk about it.”

Mia sighed. “You do have to talk to him, Maya.”

Maya stared down at the table. “I feel… like I let him down,” she murmured. “Like I’m broken… and Nick deserves someone whole…”

At that, Mia let go of her sister’s hand and sat back, crossing her arms over her chest.

Maya looked up at the disapproving look on Mia’s face. “Maya. I told you before you got married that Phoenix wasn’t marrying you so you could pop out his kids. He has kids already, if you forgot. Your worth as a woman isn’t determined by whether or not you can have kids, period, but especially not in Phoenix’s eyes. He loves you no matter what. That’s what the two of you swore. In sickness and in health, right?”

“I know, but—”

“No buts, Maya,” Mia said. She shook her head. “Honestly, you shouldn’t have married him if this was going to be a dealbreaker for you.”

“W-What?”

Mia looked at her. “You both knew about these problems getting pregnant before you got married. Maybe you didn’t have a confirmed reason why it was happening yet, but you knew that it was. Phoenix still married you, knowing that you might not be able to have kids together, because he doesn’t care, Maya. He loves you either way. But if you thought even once back then that you would want to leave him so he could have ‘someone whole’, then you shouldn’t have married him in the first place.”

Maya sniffed. Mia was being harsh, but she knew she needed to hear it. She’d always struggled with feeling good enough, she could admit that. Was she a good enough spirit medium to become Master of Kurain? Was she a good enough assistant to be worthy of standing beside Phoenix in court? Was she a good enough guardian and parental figure towards Pearl and Trucy? And now… was she good enough to be Phoenix’s wife? There always seemed to be something. It was a problem she’d always had, and she’d always worked hard towards making herself good enough, so no one could say she wasn’t. But this wasn’t something that was easily fixed. She couldn’t train this away under a waterfall.

Mia stared at her. “Maya, I do have one piece of advice for you.”

“What is it?”

“Let Phoenix choose whether he thinks you’re good enough for him. Don’t make that decision for him. You might think you’d be doing him a favour, but you would break his heart. Don’t do that to him.”

Maya swallowed, nodding her agreement. “Alright.”

“Jeez, Maya,” Mia said. “I know you’re going through a lot, but your marriage to Phoenix is one of the things that should be giving you strength right now. You really need to call him, or better yet get your butt back home and apologize for running off.”

Maya nodded again, feeling like a child. She wiped at her eyes. “Thanks, Sis. I needed someone willing to talk harshly to me.”

“I’m sorry if I seem mean,” Mia said, her voice softening. “But I hate to see you loathing yourself like this. Maybe you should look into finding a professional to talk to about this, once you’re back home.”

“Yeah. That might be a good idea.”

Mia stood up from her chair and walked around the table. “Get up and give me a hug.”

Maya managed a smile and stood from her own chair. Mia wrapped her in a hug and Maya held her tightly. Even if she could have Mia channeled whenever she wanted, she still savoured hugs with her, just in case.

When they pulled apart, Mia went to sit back down. She picked up Pearl’s fork and began to pick at the leftover food on her plate. “I have to admit, I miss eating,” she said, popping some hash browns into her mouth.

Maya chuckled, but she couldn’t keep up the charade for long. Mia seemed to sense there was more. “Is there something else you wanted to talk about?”

“The Elders… Before Nick and I got engaged, they approved my proposition for the next Master to be chosen democratically. They did have one condition, though. I still needed to produce an heir to sit on the council to advise whoever becomes Master in the future, male or female, spiritual power or not, so long as they’re of the Fey bloodline. But now… I can’t produce any children at all.”

Mia grumbled. “Honestly, screw the Elders, Maya. You’re the Master. You don’t need to tell them anything.”

“They’ll ask,” Maya said. “They already know we started trying. They know it’s been this long and we still aren’t pregnant. They’re going to start getting suspicious.”

“They can’t do anything about it,” Mia insisted. “Tell them to shove off or you’ll banish them. Mom used to threaten that all the time and it always shut them up.”

Maya blinked. “Wait, we really can banish them?”

Mia shrugged. “I don’t know. They always seemed to think Mom was serious though.”

Maya found herself laughing. “You know, back when they made that decision about me still needing an heir I threatened the same thing because of something they said, and they did seem scared. I didn’t even know if it was within my power or not, but they certainly seemed to think I was serious.”

Mia grinned. “Maybe this is something we should look into a bit more.”

Maya smiled. “Yeah. We’ll see what they say when they figure out me and Nick probably aren’t having any kids,” she said, beginning to look downcast again.

“Hey,” Mia said. “I said it before and I’ll say it again now: any kids out there without a mom and dad would be lucky to have you and Phoenix as parents. You really should think about adopting a baby if you want one that badly. I know adoption is a process and it can take a long time, but think about how happy you’d be making a child who has no one. I mean, Phoenix already adopted Trucy, and you and him basically raised Pearl after Morgan went to prison. You have experience with it.”

“I’ve thought about it a bit,” Maya admitted. “It’s an option I’m keeping open. But—and I know this might sound stupid or selfish—I really wanted a biological kid. You know, thinking about how they would be a part of us both… something we made together, out of our love, that grew inside me. Maybe they’d have Nick’s blue eyes and that adorable nose of his, maybe they’d be a spirit medium like me. Or maybe they would look and act nothing like us, but the knowledge that they were still something we made, that we literally gave life to and raised together was just… something I was looking forward to, I guess.”

Mia nodded understandingly. “Well, the surgery is still an option if you really want to go that way,” she said. “But it’s something you need to discuss further with Phoenix, and a doctor. Get a good feel for how risky it really will be. Maybe it’ll be worth the risk, so long as you know that it does come with some. What about something like a surrogate? Nowadays you can have a biological baby and just let someone else carry it.”

“Yeah, that’s another option… I just really wanted the experience of being pregnant, you know?”

Mia sat back and smirked. “Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve never told you this but I never really wanted kids. Partially because of Kurain and everything our family has gone through because of it, but I was also just kind of nervous about the whole idea of being pregnant and being responsible for an actual person. It kind of freaked me out. Marriage I was all for. Babies? Not so much.”

Maya chuckled. “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Mia asked, feigning offense.

Maya shrugged. “You were always a career woman. Even if you’d lived long enough to settle down, I think your job always would have come first.”

“You’re probably right.”

They were quiet for a few seconds, until Mia sighed. “I think I should go now, Maya.”

Maya nodded. “Alright.”

Mia reached over the table to grip her hand once more. “Tell Phoenix and Pearl I said ‘hi’. If you need me again don’t hesitate to have Pearl channel me, but Maya, you’ve got this. You and Phoenix can work it out.”

“Thanks, Sis.”

Mia nodded and let go of Maya’s hand. She sat back and closed her eyes, and a few seconds later Pearl was back in her place. She looked down at her plate and noticed that half of her food was gone.

“Hey! Mystic Mia ate my food!” she cried.

Maya laughed. “It still technically went into your body though, right?”

Pearl rubbed at her stomach. “It’s the tasting part I miss out on though.”

“Give her a break, Pearly, she’s dead.”

Pearl harrumphed. “So what did you talk to her about? You promised you’d tell me.”

Maya sighed. That she did. Besides, Pearl was already 20 years old. She was an adult; she could handle it.

So Maya told her everything she’d just told Mia. Pearl listened quietly, though she got a little emotional whenever Maya did. She couldn’t help it, it was still such fresh information that talking about it still hurt, and of course when she cried, Pearl cried. Though it still hurt to talk about, the more she did the less it hurt.

When she and Pearl were all cried out and Pearl knew the whole story, Maya sniffed and wiped her sleeve across her face. “Pearly, I’m finished eating. I’m going to go to the meditation room for a bit, okay?”

“Alright, Mystic Maya. Let me know if you need anything.”

Maya nodded and started to head back to her room to get dressed. She knew she needed to phone Phoenix, but given he hadn’t picked up before, she figured she would try a little later. At the moment all she wanted was to meditate on her thoughts. On what to do about her issue, on how to apologize to Phoenix, and how she was going to handle the Elders if they found out about everything.


When she was younger, Maya hated meditation. It was boring, it only made her sleepy, and she never felt anymore spiritual than she did before she’d sat down to do nothing for a few hours. But as the years wore on and her training intensified, the better she got at it.

Nowadays she went into such a deep, trance-like state that it was hard to wake her from it. It wasn’t dangerous, but she found it incredibly relaxing, particularly after a hard day, and being woken from it so suddenly always put a damper on her mood.

That was why she got so annoyed with Pearl when she interrupted her meditation session. She tried to do it gently, whispering Maya’s name and gently shaking her shoulder to bring Maya out of her trance as naturally as possible, but it never failed to make Maya feel groggy, like she’d taken too long of a nap.

When Maya snapped out of her trance to Pearl’s voice and the shaking of her shoulder, she glared at Pearl, who shrunk back. “I’m so sorry, Mystic Maya, I know you hate when I interrupt your meditations. But…”

Maya watched Pearl bite her thumb. “What, Pearly? You woke me up for a reason, so what was it?” She asked, yawning and stretching her arms above her head.

“The Elders… They called a meeting. Rose tried to tell them you were busy but they insisted. They want you to come to the city hall right now.”

“Ugh.” Maya fell back on her pillows and stared at the ceiling. The last thing she wanted right now was to deal with them. Mia had told her it was none of their business, and not to tell them anything, but Maya really couldn’t decide what would be easier; telling them and listening to them complain about her problems, or not telling them and having them pester her.

She had no problem telling Rose, of course, it was the others she was worried about. And Phoenix wasn’t here to stand by her side this time as moral support. She was going to have to deal with them on her own.

She sighed and sat up. “Alright. Go run ahead and tell them I’m on my way.”

Pearl nodded and scurried off. Maya grabbed her phone from a cushion beside her and checked for any missed calls or messages. There was nothing from Phoenix yet. She hoped he was just busy and not ignoring her, but she had no time to call him again now. She had to go deal with her Council of Elders.


Maya took her sweet time walking to the City Hall, knowing full well it would mean they would be in even worse moods than before. But she wasn’t in a good mood either, and she decided she wouldn’t be afraid of them, or of showing them who was truly the Master.

She entered the hall and made her way to the meeting room. They had chosen not the regular meeting room with the table, but rather the one with the stage. She had to wonder if it was a ploy to make her feel smaller than them. The Elders were all sitting upon the raised daise, seemingly expecting her to stand below them with Pearl as per usual. Maya wasn’t going to take that today. Daisy began to speak, but Maya simply held up her hand and walked to the steps to join them. She looked around, pretending to be looking for a spot to sit.

“You didn’t leave a spot for the Master,” she said.

Daisy raised her chin. “You have always stood below us, we didn’t think it was necessary.”

“Well, I’m the one in charge here, am I not?” Maya said. “Since you decided to have the meeting in here rather than the regular room, I’ll need a seat. So which one of you will vacate yours?”

Maya caught Rose’s eye, who smiled at her as the others bickered amongst themselves. Eventually they agreed that Lily would stand, as she was the youngest of them. Maya took her seat, telling herself not to feel bad for taking the seat of an old woman. Pearl stayed where she was below, knowing it wasn’t her place to join the others, even if Maya was up there.

Maya crossed her hands on the table in front of them. “So, what did you call this meeting for?”

“We have some concerns, Mystic Maya,” Daisy started.

“What sort of concerns?”

“Concerns about why you have not been channeling as of late. As the Master it’s your duty to do your job by providing channeling for paying customers. Without you, Kurain Village will lose out on tourism, which we are dependant on.”

“There are plenty of talented spirit mediums in Kurain Village now,” Maya said, waving a hand. “Some of them I’ve been teaching personally. They can do the job just as well.”

It was Petunia’s turn to speak up. “Mystic Maya, you know that is just an excuse, as do we. None of us have forgotten your little slip up a year ago when you told us you and your lawyer were trying to have a child. Your mother stopped channeling whenever she was trying to get pregnant as well,” she said. “And yet it’s been over a year now. Have you stopped trying?”

Maya swallowed. There was no point in lying. “No, we haven’t stopped trying,” she said.

Daisy sniffed. “So it’s been almost two years, you’ve stopped channeling, and you still have not been able to conceive?”

“No.”

The others whispered amongst themselves. “I suppose in one way we should consider this a good thing. Now that you’re finally married any children you do bear won’t be—”

Maya glared, and Daisy seemed to remember the last time someone suggested that a child born out of wedlock was somehow less important than one born within.

She cleared her throat. “Anyhow, you do remember our agreement, yes? The next Master will be chosen by vote, so long as you provide an heir of the main Fey bloodline to sit on the council once they come of age.”

“Yes, I remember.”

Petunia smirked from down the table, unable to stop herself from enjoying Maya’s pain. “I always knew that lawyer of yours was no good. He can’t even get you pregnant. The simplest thing for a man, and he’s incapable. You say that you two are in love, but are you truly? Or does he have… other urges? Perhaps you can’t conceive because you two are not trying hard enough.”

Maya felt anger flare inside of her. It was no secret that the Elders, minus Rose, hated Phoenix, but she wouldn’t stand for them insulting him. She clenched her fists. “If you want to know the dirty details of me and Nick’s sex life, I can certainly tell you all about it,” she said, looking down the row to glare at Petunia. “I’m sure you’re very interested, given the way you all look at him when he’s here.”

She felt some satisfaction at the gasps that went around the table and the denials that started flying. Maya quieted them all with a hand. “If you really want to know why we haven’t been able to conceive, it’s because of me,” she said. “I have something wrong with me, so don’t go blaming Nick for this.”

“What is this something?” Daisy asked.

“It’s none of your concern,” Maya said, taking Mia’s advice. She could tell them the bare minimum, that she wouldn’t be able to conceive, but not why, and she definitely wouldn’t be discussing anything further than that. “Just know it’s not life threatening.”

“And if you cannot conceive a child, what of our agreement?”

Maya sniffed. “I think you’re all forgetting the most important thing here. I’m the Master. You are my council, you council me, but your decisions are not paramount. I’m tired of giving you all so much free reign over Kurain. I was afraid of coming across as some sort of dictator but I’ve realized recently that I’m the better leader anyway, and I need to act like it. This vote will go through, whether there’s a descendant of the Fey bloodline on the council in the future or not. If any of you don’t like it, feel free to step down and live out the rest of your days in comfort, without the burden of helping to run this place.”

There was more whispering around the table, and once more Maya caught Rose’s eye. She nodded ever so slightly, as if approving of Maya’s statement. Pearl was beaming down below as well, clearly proud of her cousin for finally standing up to the Elders once and for all.

Maya stood up from the table, not even waiting for anyone to reply. “As I said, if anyone has a problem with anything, feel free to talk to me about it. I’m not unwilling to listen to concerns, but from now on the final decisions are mine to make.”

She began to step down from the daise. “Pearly, let’s go home. I need to call Nick.”

Pearl jogged to catch up with her, and as soon as they were out of the room she squealed. “Mystic Maya, that was great! You showed them.”

Maya took a deep breath. “Ugh, Pearly. How long was I in there? Five whole minutes? It felt like five hours. I hate having to talk all professional and serious like that, but it’s the only way I can get them to listen.”

Pearl shook her head. “It was great! I doubt you’ll have anymore problems with them. And by the way, I invited Elder Rose over for dinner later. I hope you don’t mind.”

Maya shook her head. “Of course not. She’s the only one who supports me, you know. I’d like to talk to her away from the other’s prying eyes.”

Pearl smiled. “Great! I’m going to make something really yummy for dinner, you’ll love it.”

“Ooh, what is it?”

Pearl wagged a finger at her. “It’s a surprise, so you’ll find out.”

“Aw, okay.”

“Anyway, Mystic Maya, you were awesome back there.”

“Thanks, Pearly. Now I need to call Nick and hope he’s not mad at me. He hasn’t been answering his phone.”

Pearl rolled up a sleeve. “If he doesn’t call you back, I’ll go to the house and knock some sense into him myself!”

Maya laughed. “Thank you, but I can handle him. He’s probably just busy anyway, he had to work today.”

“Okay,” Pearl said. “But let me know if you need my help. I can be pretty persuasive!”


Back at the manor, Pearl ran to the kitchen to start preparing dinner, while Maya headed to her room to try calling Phoenix again. To her relief the phone only rang twice before Phoenix answered.

“Nick! You finally picked up.”

“Oh, hey Maya. Yeah, sorry, I was busy earlier. Athena got a case and I was off investigating with her. What’s up?”

He sounded so casual it was almost weird. She thought he would have been mad at her, or at least more concerned than he sounded.

“I just wanted to call to let you know I’m alright, and to apologize.”

“For?”

She swallowed. “For leaving last night. I didn’t handle the news properly at all. I should have stayed and talked to you about it. Instead I just ran here and made Pearl channel my sister instead.”

“Ah. So you talked to your sister before your husband about something concerning our future family,” he said, finally sounding a little annoyed as she’d expected before. She heard him sigh and could almost picture him pinching the bridge of his nose. “Look, I get that Mia was—is—an important person in both of our lives, but don’t you think this is something you should’ve talked to me about first, Maya?”

Maya could feel her face getting hot with embarrassment. “You’ll be happy to know that all Mia did was scold me and tell me I have to talk to you about it,” she told him. “Which I totally deserved, I know.” She sighed. “And you’re both right, of course. I’m really sorry, Nick. I should have stayed home with you.”

He was quiet for a second before speaking again, and this time his voice sounded much softer. “I understand that it’s hard, Maya. And I also understand if you want to just rest for a few days. I just wish you hadn’t left to do that. I want to help you, you know? In sickness and in health, right?”

She could feel herself tearing up. She was so tired of crying, but she couldn’t help it. “That’s exactly what Mia said.” She paused for a moment. “Nick, I’m going to come home right away, okay?” She would have to reschedule her dinner with Rose and Pearl, but it was for the best.

“No,” Phoenix said. “Stay there. I’ll come to you.”

“But—”

“It’s okay, Maya. Part of the reason you went there to begin with was because you wanted to be around people, and you missed Pearls. I’ll take some time off of work and come up to stay with you there instead of making you sit at home all day when I’m at work.”

“If you’re sure. But just so you know… I had to talk to the Elders earlier. They knew why I hadn’t been channeling much lately and were suspicious… They know everything now, Nick.”

“Oh, that’s great. What did they have to say about it?”

“They still found a way to blame you,” she said, not going into any details. “I made sure to tell them it’s my fault, but who knows if they believed me.”

“Don’t even bother trying to convince them,” he said. “I’ll gladly take that burden from you, Maya. They already didn’t like me, so let them think it’s somehow my fault. I don’t care. It’s better than them blaming you.”

She smiled. “Thank you, Nick.”

“You’re welcome.”

“So I’ll see you in a few hours then?”

“Yeah, I’m just gonna let Athena know I’m taking some more time off and leaving early. She won’t be happy with me but she’ll understand if I tell her it’s a family thing. She’s been getting better and better taking trials on her own, so the more practice she gets, the better.”

“Alright. Pearly’s making dinner. Should I tell her to make sure there’s enough for you?”

“I would love that actually. I’m starving and I won’t have time to stop anywhere if I want to catch an earlier train.”

“She’ll be so happy you’re coming. I’m happy too, Nick, even despite everything. And I know it’s only been a day, but I miss you.”

“I miss you too,” he said. “Sleeping in that big bed all alone… It’s pretty lonely.”

“Well, there are only tiny beds in the guest rooms here, so there’ll be lots of time for cuddling later on.”

He chuckled. “Good to know. I’ll see you soon.”

“Mhm. I love you.”

“Love you too, Maya.”

Maya hung the phone up, feeling like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. There was still a lot to talk about concerning their family planning, but she found it didn’t seem so daunting now.

She left her phone on her bed as she headed down to the kitchen to tell Pearl to make sure she set an extra place at the table.

Chapter Text

August 21st, 2030, 6:30 PM
Kurain Village Bus Stop

Maya felt like she was waiting for a long lost lover rather than her husband who she hadn’t seen for a single night as she sat on the bench at the bus stop. Phoenix was texting her the whole way, telling her which landmarks he was passing as the train sped towards the mountains. Some of them made her smile; they were things no other traveler would understand but the two of them. They’d made that journey together so often that they were able to pick out things like a certain spot on the mountains in the distance that looked like a face, or a copse of trees growing in a spiral motion, as if they’d been planted that way on purpose.

When he finally texted her that he could see the Kurain Boulder in the center of town, Maya looked up to wait for the bus to come into view. Sure enough, a minute or two later she could see the bus speeding down the paved road, only slowing once it reached the gravel road. A cloud of dust followed it, and Maya stood up from the bench when it finally approached and stopped.

She wasn’t surprised to see that Phoenix was the only person on board. Not many people came to Kurain Village unless they had an appointment for a channeling. They weren’t famous enough yet that people would come simply to visit. Their tourism came purely from their channeling.

Phoenix stepped off the bus with a bag in hand, only to drop it on the ground when Maya jumped into his arms. He caught her around the waist and held her tight while she kissed his cheek.

“Niiiiiick, I missed you!”

He laughed and set her back down. “Wow. I wasn’t expecting that greeting.”

“I’m just glad you came. I’m really, super sorry—”

He held up a hand to cut her off. “Thanks, Maya, but it’s okay. Everything is forgiven. We’ll talk more about everything later, okay?”

She looked down at the ground. “I don’t deserve you.”

He took her chin in his fingers to tilt her head up to look at him. “Yes, you do.”

She smiled. “Pearly’s almost got dinner ready. Rose is here, too. Wanna head inside?”

“Yeah, let’s.”

He picked up his bag again and followed Maya across the road to Fey Manor. As soon as they entered the foyer he could smell whatever Pearl was cooking, and it smelled delicious. Pearl only came out of the kitchen long enough to give him a hug and say hello before she was gone back into the kitchen. Maya took his hand. “Come on, Nick. You can bring your bag to our room.”

He followed her down a less familiar hallway than the one her old Master’s Chambers were in to the guest bedrooms. Maya entered the room ahead of him and held the door open. He walked past her and threw his bag haphazardly onto the floor while looking around. It’d been a while since he’d stayed in one of the Fey Manor guest bedrooms. Back when he and Maya were still just friends he would stay in one when he visited her, but that only lasted a few years before he started sleeping in her room with her, all the while trying to keep quiet so no one, Pearl in particular, would realize they were together.

He turned around, opening his mouth to say something about it to her, only for Maya to quite literally jump on him. She caught him off guard and he was thankful the bed was so close, because he fell backwards onto it, instinctively wrapping his arms around her so she wouldn’t fall. She landed on top of him instead and he was grateful she wasn’t very heavy. She shifted to straddle him and leaned down, capturing his lips with hers.

He kissed her back, but only for a few seconds before pulling away. “Maya. What are you doing?”

She kissed him again, desperately. He couldn’t help laughing through it, which only made Maya pull away with a pout. She got off of him and sat cross legged on the bed, crossing her arms over her chest.

Phoenix pushed himself up on his elbows. “You trying to make amends or something?”

“Hmph. Maybe.”

He snickered. “You already apologized, Maya. You don’t need to do anything extra.”

“Maybe I wanted to... because I missed you.”

He chuckled. “Come on. It’s been one day. Besides, Pearls and Rose are just out in the kitchen.”

She pouted again. “I’m all pent up...”

That made him laugh out loud. “I think you can handle a few more hours.”

She whined. “Niiiick.”

He grinned at her and reached over to grab her waist, tugging her over to tickle her. She shrieked. “Stop it, Nick, you know I don’t like tickling! I will pee on you!”

He stopped. “You are gross.”

“You know how ticklish I am! It makes me panic, I can’t help it!”

He smiled at her as she leaned over him. “Pearl is going to call us for dinner soon anyway. I don’t think it’s something she wants to walk into.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” She flopped down, resting her chin on his chest. “You’re comfy though.”

“Is that a way of telling me I’m getting fat?”

Maya brought a hand up to pat his stomach. “Nah. Still nice and hard, don’t worry. But I would still love you if you ended up with a dad bod.”

“Good to know.”

She scooted forward just enough to press a kiss against his chin. “Have I told you I love you yet?”

“I don’t think you have, actually.”

“Well, I do.”

They were interrupted before he could say it back by a knock on the door, and Pearl’s voice. “I hope you two aren’t doing what I think you are. Dinner is almost done.”

Maya laughed. “You can come in, Pearly, unless cuddling is too much for your innocent eyes to see.”

She opened the door and peeked in slowly, as if she thought Maya was lying. All she saw was Maya sprawled out against Phoenix’s chest. He sat up, and Maya fell into his lap with an ‘oof’ noise where she again got comfortable.

Pearl put her hand against her heart. “Aaw, you two are adorable, but dinner is almost done.”

“Thanks, Pearls,” Phoenix said, feeling more like the child in this situation than the adult.

Maya sighed and sat up. “We’ll be right there. You know I would never skip dinner, even if cuddling Nick is almost as good.”

“Only almost?”

Maya grinned at him and jumped off the bed to follow Pearl out to the kitchen. Phoenix followed behind and entered the kitchen to find Rose on one side of the table. Maya was sitting down across from her, and Pearl was already starting to spoon out their dinner. Phoenix took a seat beside Maya, but not before bowing slightly to Rose.

“I’m happy you could join us, Mr. Wright,” Rose said with a smile.

“I’ve told you before, Rose, you can call me Phoenix. You’ve only known me for ten years,” Phoenix said.

Rose smiled but waved a hand. “Oh, it’s not proper. A man of your intellect and position should be referred to respectfully.”

Maya snickered. “Intellect?”

Phoenix frowned at her. “Like you can talk.”

“Sssh,” Pearl interrupted. “It’s time to eat. No more arguing at the dinner table.”

“Yes ma’am!” Maya said, saluting her before digging into her meal.


Dinner went well, with conversation staying light and casual. Phoenix was grateful that both Rose and Pearl seemed to understand that the last thing Maya wanted to talk about right now was the pregnancy issue, so neither brought it up.

The food Pearl had cooked was delicious as always, and though he was pretty full just from dinner, the dessert she’d made looked so good Phoenix had to have some of that as well. Maya, of course, didn’t fail to eat twice the amount he did. He still had no idea how she managed to stay so skinny.

After clearing the table they stayed in the kitchen talking with Rose for a bit longer. Eventually Pearl said goodnight and wandered up to bed, and soon enough Maya was yawning and tugging on Phoenix’s sleeve too.

“Nick, I have to get up early for a training exercise with the younger acolytes tomorrow. We should probably head to bed now.”

“I didn’t realize it was so late already!” Rose said, looking up at a clock on the kitchen wall. “It’s past my bedtime.”

Maya looked over at the sink and sighed. “We didn’t do the dishes yet though. I’ll get on that, I guess.”

“Oh, no need,” Rose said before Maya could stand. “You’ve both had a long day. I’ll get those dishes done for you and then head home for the night.”

“Are you sure, Rose?” Maya said. “It won’t take me long.”

“I’m quite sure,” she said with a smile. “You should head to bed.”

Maya nodded gratefully and stood up. Phoenix followed suit. “Thank you, Rose,” he said, turning to follow Maya out of the room.

“Excuse me, Mr. Wright?”

Phoenix stopped and turned back from the doorway as Maya went on ahead of him. “Yeah?”

Rose smiled softly at him. “I just wanted to thank you.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Thank me for what?”

She gestured for him to come closer. He turned from the doorway and entered the kitchen again, watching as Rose placed her hands on the table in front of her where she sat. “I wanted to thank you for being understanding about Master Maya’s… predicament,” she said. “She must have told you about Kurain’s unfortunate luck with men, yes?”

Phoenix nodded. “She told me about that years ago.”

“She would never admit it, but I think she’s still scared the same thing will happen to her someday. I don’t doubt that she loves you, or that she knows you love her, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s worried about external factors driving you apart despite the love you have for each other. That something will force you apart. Something like this in particular.”

“No one has to thank me for staying with her through this,” he said. “I love her, no matter what happens. It’s not her fault anyway. I’d never blame her, and nothing will ever be able to force me away from her.”

“I know,” Rose said. “And I think she knows it, too. But I still think there’s a niggling thought in the back of her mind, a little tiny ‘what if?’” She thought for a moment before speaking again. “You know, you and her remind me very much of Master Maya’s mother and father. They were just as in love as you two are, but he still left.”

Phoenix sat down at the table across from her, rubbing the back of his neck. “You can’t compare me to some man I’ve never even met.”

Rose smiled. “I’m not trying to. I’m just letting you know; Maya might not have known her father very long before he left, but she does know her family history. She knows about her mother and father’s romance, and she knows that he still left. Make sure she knows you’re not him.”

“I will.” He sighed. “Hey, can I tell you something?”

Rose nodded. “Of course.”

He lowered his voice before speaking, just in case Maya came back to the kitchen. “…Maya cares about this whole thing a lot more than I do. I mean, I care about it because I care about her, her health and her feelings, but having more kids was never a priority for me. I had nothing against having another kid or two if it was what she wanted, but if she didn’t want to have any, I wouldn’t have minded that either. So this news… it really only hurts me because it hurts her. She seems to think she doesn’t deserve me or she let me down or something because she can’t have a child with me, but I don’t care about that at all.”

He leaned back in his chair. “I don’t want to tell her that, though. I’m afraid she’ll take it the wrong way.”

Rose leaned forward to pat his hand. “All you need to do is support her, Mr. Wright. Continue doing that and I think you’ll both be fine.”

“That’s one thing I can definitely do,” he said.

“Good,” she said. “You should get going now. Master Maya has not been known to be patient, and I’m sure she missed you this past night.”

Phoenix smiled at her. “Right, I should go.”

Rose winked at him. “Try not to wake Pearl.”

Phoenix laughed, though he felt slightly awkward given the obvious meaning to Rose’s words. “We won’t.”

“Good. I’ll head out as soon as I’m finished these dishes.”

“Do you want me to wait and walk you home? It’s so dark out.”

“No, I’m fine, dear. My home isn’t too far away and Kurain Village is quite safe.”

“Alright. Goodnight, Rose. And thanks for worrying about Maya. I’m glad at least someone here has her best interests at heart,” he said.

With that he left the kitchen, heading down the hallway to the bedroom Maya had brought him to before. It wasn’t as big as her old Master’s chambers, but it was cozy, and all that mattered was that Maya was there.

He entered the room quietly, and sure enough when he looked, Maya was already passed out on the bed. She had a nightgown on, but it looked like she’d simply laid down on top of the covers to wait for him, and had fallen asleep in the short time he’d been talking to Rose.

He smiled and sat down on the edge of the bed, lifting a hand to run his finger over her cheek, and brushing some of her hair from her eyes. She shifted, her eyes opening to blink up at him.

“Mm, Nick. Why’d you take so long?”

“I was just talking with Rose. Nothing important, really.”

Maya closed her eyes again. “Okay.”

“Here, Maya,” he said, standing up and pulling the covers back. “Get under the sheets.”

She sleepily crawled beneath the sheets and allowed him to tuck her in. He placed a kiss on her forehead before he started getting undressed himself. By the time he was finished and was crawling into his spot beside her, Maya was fast asleep again.

Unlike what Rose assumed, it was obvious nothing was going to happen between them tonight. Maya had a long day, and all Phoenix really cared about was getting into bed with her so he could just hold her again.

It was strange, he thought. Back when they first got together, they sometimes went weeks without seeing each other, let alone being able to kiss or cuddle or have sex. Of course he always longed for her back then, but it wasn’t like now. Now that they were finally married and living together, and coming home to each other at the end of their days, it was worse when they were apart, even for a single night. He could hardly stand it.

He wrapped his arm around her middle and shifted close enough to her that her back touched his chest. Maya only wriggled a bit to get more comfortable, one of her hands automatically coming up to hold his wrist where his arm was around her.

He fell asleep with the familiar smell of her shampoo in his nose.


August 22nd, 2030, 8:30 AM
Fey Manor, Kurain Village

Phoenix woke the next morning seemingly having switched positions with Maya, though when he thought about it, it was the same almost every morning. She woke up first and snuggled up with him while he was still half asleep, until his alarm woke them, or in today’s case, he woke naturally.

She seemed to sense that he was awake and lifted her head to look at him. He tightened his arm around her shoulders, not wanting her to get up from the position she was lying in yet.

“Hey,” he said.

She smiled. “Hey to you, too. Sorry I fell asleep so early last night. I was exhausted.”

“I can imagine,” he said. “You slept okay last night though?”

She put her head back down on his chest. “Yeah. Especially with you here.”

“Mm. You weren’t lying when you said these beds were really small.”

“They’re comfy though,” she said. “And I like being close to you.”

He smiled. “Is it just me or did that one night apart feel like a month?”

She chuckled. “It’s not just you. God, what are we going to do if one of us actually does have to go away somewhere for a few days without the other? It’ll be awful.”

“We’ve done it before.”

“I think that’s exactly why it’s so hard now,” Maya said, echoing his thoughts from the night before. “We spent so many years in a long distance relationship that now I don’t want to be away from you for even a day. When I left the other night I didn’t realize how it’d feel.”

He squeezed her shoulders. “We’re together now. That’s all we need to think about.”

Maya sighed, pulling out from under his arm and sitting up. “We should shower and get dressed.  I have that class I need to get to.”

Phoenix sighed. “Do you have to? Won’t the acolytes be happy if you cancel and give them a day off?”

Maya smiled down at him. “Afraid not. Most of them really enjoy their training. They’ll all be disappointed if I cancel.”

“Ah well,” Phoenix said. “It can’t be helped then. I don’t want all those little girls to hate me for keeping their Master from them.”

“Thanks, Nick. But hey, the class is only two hours. It won’t even be lunchtime by the time I’m done. And afterward I want to go back up to…” she lowered her voice, “our super secret hot springs.”

Phoenix perked up a bit at that. “I’m definitely up for visiting them again. You know I’m not usually an outdoorsy type but…”

“But we have some nice memories up there now, right?” she said, grinning down at him and walking her fingers up his chest. “Maybe some memories you’d like to revisit?”

“I’m not opposed to that at all.”

She paused for a second as she absentmindedly traced circles into his skin with her finger. “That’s not the only thing I want to do there though,” she said, looking up at him. “We need to have a talk, and it’s the most private place I know of.”

He started to sit up a bit. “Are you sure, Maya?”

“Yeah. I don’t want to keep running from it, and I think I’m okay now. I’m ready to talk about what else we can do.”

“Okay,” he said, reaching forward to tuck a piece of her hair behind her ear. “You’re so strong, Maya, you know that?”

She smiled. “Stop.”

“I’m being serious!”

“Don’t get all mushy on me right now,” she said, jumping off the bed. “Come on. Let’s share the shower.”

*

After breakfast Maya headed off to her training session, leaving Phoenix to laze around Fey Manor alone. Pearl was off training a different class of older acolytes, so he was alone in the large house. There was a TV in the living area, but because of where they were located there was no TV service, and all Maya still kept at the manor were old Steel Samurai DVDs, so he went in search of a book to read instead. After finding one about Kurain’s history, he made his way out to the Winding Way. It was a nice day, and if he was going to be stuck in Fey Manor without Maya, he might as well try to relax.

Relax he did, at least for an hour and a half before he started to get bored. Maya said she’d be finished her class before noon, and it was approaching 11:30 already, so he closed his book and headed inside. Pearl had come back from her own class not long ago, and he found her reading a book of her own in the living area.

“Hey, Pearls?”

She looked up. “Yeah, Mr. Nick?”

“Do you know where Maya’s class was today? I want to go meet her there. She said she’d be done before noon.”

“You know where the training waterfalls are?” Pearl asked. “It’s just outside of the caves there. The littler girls can’t go under the falls yet so Mystic Maya just sort of lets them splash around in the river there while they train.”

Phoenix smiled. “So it’s really like a fun swimming day, huh? No wonder Maya said they’d be disappointed if she cancelled.”

Pearl nodded. “Yeah, they all really look forward to it. But it should be ending soon. Sometimes the girls convince her to stay longer, so maybe it’d be a good idea for you to go get her.”

“Thanks, Pearls,” he said, already heading out of the room to find his jacket and shoes.


He found the small river ahead of the caves where Maya trained relatively easily. He could hear splashing and shouting before he even got there, and when he did finally emerge from the path heading towards the river, he saw a group of about six young girls, and Maya, splashing around in the water. It certainly didn’t look like any sort of training he’d ever heard of.

He recognized most of the girls from his other times visiting, and it was the youngest of them who spotted him first. He knew her by the name Sierra. She was only four years old, a tiny girl with light brown hair in braided pig tails, and big green eyes. He never saw her without a smile, despite Maya telling him in private that her mother was a sickly woman fighting off an illness that would most likely kill her in the future, and who was often away from Kurain Village staying in the modern hospital in the city for different procedures.

The old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ couldn’t have been more true in Sierra’s case. When her mother was away, different people in the village would take care of her. Maya, being childless herself, took her into Fey Manor on more than one occasion during her mother’s times away, and Phoenix knew Maya had a sort of attachment to her. Sierra hadn’t even shown any signs of spiritual power yet, but Maya made sure to include her in the training sessions anyway, just so she wouldn’t feel left out.

He watched as a smile broke out on her face and she splashed to the shore to climb out of the water. She didn’t even stop to grab her towel before she ran for him. Phoenix braced himself. She was soaking wet, but that wasn’t going to stop her from tackling him. Luckily she was small, and all she managed to do was wrap her arms around his leg.

“Mr. Nick!” she cried. Phoenix smiled at her use of his nickname. The other girls who knew him all called him Mr. Wright, but Sierra always pronounced it Mr. Wight, so Pearl had suggested she use the nickname she and Maya always used. He didn’t mind if it made it easier for Sierra to say.

He bent down to give her a hug. “Hey, long time no see. Are you having fun here with Master Maya?”

Sierra nodded quickly. “Yes! Master Maya is the most funnest person ever!”

Phoenix looked over her head to where Maya was climbing from the water and helping the other girls dry off. “She is pretty great, huh?”

Soon enough Maya approached them, leaving the other girls to dry off themselves. Her own hair was still dripping, but she had a dry towel in her hands for Sierra. “Come here you,” she said, throwing the towel over the girl’s head.

Sierra laughed, and Phoenix stepped back while Maya took over. She looked up at him as she patted the towel over Sierra’s hair. “Sorry Nick, I know it’s already almost noon. We were having too much fun.”

He smiled at her. “I’m sure this is very important spiritual training. It’s fine.”

“Don’t mention this to anyone,” she murmured. “Pearly’s the only person who knows.”

“Don’t mention this, Mr. Nick!” Sierra repeated.

He patted her on the head. “I won’t.”

Maya stood up, and Sierra reached up to slip her hand into Maya’s. Maya looked down and smiled before she turned back to him. “This is just something for the littler girls,” she explained. “They all work so hard at their regular classes, they deserve some time for fun, too.”

“It’s great, Maya,” he said, leaning in to peck her on the cheek.

Sierra squealed. “Eew!”

Maya laughed. “Let’s take you and the others home, Sierra. Girls!”

The other girls who were still playing near the shore turned at Maya’s voice and came running. They had towels wrapped around themselves but their clothing was still soaked. The ones who knew him greeted Phoenix, the others simply looked at him shyly. They all knew who he was—the  Master’s new husband—but Maya hadn’t personally introduced him to everyone in the village yet, and probably never would but people knew him simply from the fact that he was married to their Master.

They all began to head back, the older girls running ahead, but Sierra stuck by Maya’s side, holding her hand until about halfway through when she stopped suddenly and began to rub at her eyes. Phoenix glanced down at her just in time to see her yawn.

He bent down to her level. “Sierra, do you want to ride on my shoulders?”

Her eyes lit up. “Yes! Please!”

“Here, I’ll help you up,” Maya said, bending to lift the girl into her arms.

She settled on Phoenix’s shoulders easily, and she was so light he had no issues lifting her. Her hands settled on his head and he made sure to hold onto her legs. Maya fell back a bit with the other girls, watching Phoenix lead the group with Sierra. It felt almost nostalgic to her; she could still remember the way he would lift Pearl up like that, and then eventually Trucy as well. They were both too old for things like that now, but Maya always knew eventually Phoenix would have the chance to do things like that again, with his and Maya’s own son or daughter.

That wouldn’t be possible now, at least not biologically, but as Maya watched Sierra giggle atop his shoulders Maya knew that that didn’t mean it was impossible.


It just so happened the home Sierra was currently staying in was the last stop on the walk home. They brought the other girls home first, and eventually Sierra wiggled her way off of Phoenix’s shoulders. She squished herself between Phoenix and Maya, taking one of their hands in each of hers. They swung her between them, causing her fits of giggles. By the time they reached the house where she was staying they were all laughing and smiling, and Maya was almost sad to be dropping her off. She would have to volunteer to take care of Sierra at the manor the next time her mother was in hospital.

Maya patted Phoenix on the arm when they reached the house. “Nick, can you wait here while I talked to Mystic Rei?”

“Of course.”

Sierra stayed where she was, watching Maya head up to the door but being immediately distracted by Phoenix saying something to her. Maya knocked on the door, and it was answered right away by a woman in Kurain acolyte robes, her straight black hair falling down her back, almost as long as Maya’s. She had no children herself, so she often volunteered to take care of Sierra in her mother’s absence.

“Master Maya,” she greeted, bowing slightly. “How is Sierra?”

“She’s wonderful,” Maya said, glancing back. Rei looked too, watching as Phoenix lifted Sierra as she clung to his bicep.

“Your husband seems to think so as well,” Rei said.

Maya chuckled. “He’s so good with kids.”

“Are you planning on having any of your own?”

Maya felt a quick jolt of disappointment go through her. “We don’t have any plans to yet,” she said, not wanting to get into any details. She hadn’t even spoken to Phoenix yet about everything, they were going to head to the hot springs after dropping all the girls off.

Rei nodded, not noticing anything amiss. “Take your time to enjoy being newlyweds first. There’s no going back once you have a baby.”

Maya laughed nervously. “Yeah, you’re right. Anyway... I wanted to ask if you’d heard anything about Sierra’s mom lately? She’s been gone almost a week this time, right?”

“Yes. I haven’t heard much today, but the other day Elder Rose told me that she’s in bad shape this time. It may be an extended stay.”

Maya sighed. “Alright. Thank you so much for taking care of Sierra while her mom is gone, Rei, but I don’t want you to miss too much training. I’ll take her next week if her mother isn’t back yet.”

“As you wish, Master Maya.”

Maya turned. “Sierra!” she called. “Say goodbye to Nick, it’s time to go inside with Mystic Rei.”

Sierra stamped her foot beside Phoenix. “Don’t wanna! I wanna stay with Mr. Nick!”

Phoenix knelt down beside her. “Be a good girl, Sierra. I have to go with Master Maya right now anyway. I promise I’ll come visit you more often.”

Sierra pouted, then threw her arms around his neck. “‘Kay.”

Phoenix patted her on the back before she let go and ran up the sidewalk to Rei’s side. “Bye bye Master!” she said, waving at Maya.

“Bye bye, Sierra,” Maya said, then looked up to Rei. “Have a good afternoon.”

Rei took Sierra’s hand. “I’m sure we will.”

Maya turned and made her way back down the sidewalk to Phoenix, who was just rising from his kneeling position. She took his hand and quickly led him away from the house.

“Let’s go back to the manor, Nick,” she said. “We can grab some things and then head straight up the mountain.”

He squeezed her hand as she dragged him along. “Sounds good to me.”


They made a quick trip back to the manor to grab some food and blankets, and this time Phoenix insisted on changing into swimwear despite Maya’s teasing protests. They let Pearl know they were going out for a “picnic” and wouldn’t be back for a few hours before heading out and towards the mountain where the hidden hot springs were.

Phoenix had to follow Maya’s lead most of the time. Even though he’d been there once before, it was a well hidden area, and Maya had purposely gone in a different way each time so as to not flatten down a path that others would find. They did eventually make their way through the trees, though by the time they both stumbled into the clearing their hair was full of twigs and leaves, and Maya had stubbed her toe on a rock at some point.

She breathed a sigh of relief as they made their way into the clearing where the steam from the hot springs rose into the air, and the sound of a far off waterfall could be heard. She reached up to pick a leaf from Phoenix’s hair.

“I’m starting to think maybe we should make at least a little bit of a path somewhere where other people won’t notice it off the main path.”

Phoenix smiled. “It might be a good idea, yeah. We’re going to get hurt climbing through all those trees one of these days.”

“Oh well,” Maya shrugged. “We’ll think about that later. For now, let’s get in that water,” she said, wiggling her shoulders with excitement.

Phoenix raised an eyebrow as Maya quickly dropped her robes unceremoniously on the rocks. “I thought you wanted to skinny dip again?” he asked.

Maya turned to show off the dark purple bikini she was wearing. “Well, since you insisted on wearing swim trunks I thought I’d wear this. I saw it at the store the other day and decided it’d be a nice way to tease you. Do you like it?” she asked, playing with the strings on the bottoms. One yank on that string and she’d no longer be wearing them.

“Obviously,” he said.

She grinned at him and turned to step into the pool. It was a stunning sight to behold, the image of Maya stepping into the water as the steam from the hot springs rose around her, her long hair hanging loose down her back. She was breathtaking.

She sunk down into the water with a sigh and looked over to find him staring at her unabashedly. She smiled. “Come join me, Nick.”

He blinked out of his stupor, and Maya watched appreciatively as he lifted his shirt over his head, then climbed into the pools with her.

She let herself bob over to him, and he reached out for her, putting his arms around her to pull her closer as he rested back against the rocks. Maya settled herself over his lap and leaned in to kiss him.

He kissed her back, but when she pulled away he stopped her from initiating again. “Maya. Tell me if you’ve changed your mind... but the reason we actually came out here today was to talk about things, right?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” she sighed. “I honestly forgot, I’m not trying to delay this time. You’re just so sexy is all,” she said, running her hands along his shoulders.

“Well, thanks,” he said, smiling at her. “But really. We have to talk.”

She nodded. “Yes, okay.”

“So... what are your thoughts?”

“Alright.” She took a minute to gather her thoughts before speaking, but she knew this was the right decision. “I don’t think I want to get the surgery anymore.”

Phoenix raised his eyebrows at her. “Are you sure? You didn’t just change your mind because of me, did you?”

She shook her head. “No. I did think about what you said though. It might not even work, and if it does work there’s still a chance things could go wrong with the pregnancy, and I really don’t know how I would handle that. I think it’s just a lot of risk to take when there are other ways to go about this.”

She sighed, one of her thumbs stroking his neck. “I won’t lie, I’m really disappointed that I’ll probably never get to have the experience of being pregnant. I really wanted that, and I also wanted to create a life with you, you know? But then I thought… there are so many kids in the world who don’t have parents. And I know we’d be great parents, Nick, to any child who doesn’t have any. We already are, right?”

Phoenix smiled at her. “Yeah, we are. You’re sure this is what you want?”

Maya nodded. “Yeah. I think we should look into adopting a baby. I know it can take a while, but by now I’m used to waiting.”

Phoenix pulled her closer, hugging her tightly to his chest. “I’m sorry, Maya.”

She curled her arm around his neck and leaned in to press her face into the crook of his neck. “You don’t have to apologize, Nick,” she said softly into his ear. “It’s not like this is a step down or anything. Sure, there’ll be things I won’t be able to experience, but we’ll still have a baby. A baby who, without us, wouldn’t have anyone.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

She sighed, resting her chin on his shoulder. The hot water around them was soothing, and Maya felt content with her decision, so she didn’t cry. She’d done too much of that recently.

“You know something, Maya?”

“Hm?”

“All those little girls today… they really look up to you. You might not be their mother, but you’re still a role model to them. Particularly Sierra.”

Maya smiled. “She is adorable. I feel bad for her given her family situation, but that’s part of the reason I always include her even though so far she doesn’t seem to have any channeling abilities.”

“It’s the right thing to do. Do you think she’ll ever be able to channel? How early do you normally notice it in Kurain girls?”

Maya shrugged. “Her mother can’t channel, and as far as I know they’re not even distantly related Feys, so it’s a small chance.”

“There is still a chance though? Even if she’s not distantly related to you at all?”

“Yes. Girls born here all have a chance of gaining spiritual power, even if they’re not part of the Fey family tree. I don’t really know how it works, to be honest. It might have something to do with being Mystic Ami’s resting place, or just the fact that the Fey family has lived here for generations, so it’s just a more spiritual place than other towns.”

Phoenix hummed. “Why was there such a shortage of spirit mediums here when I first met you then? There are a ton now, but you and Pearls were the only two I knew back then.”

“It’s just a theory I have, but I think it’s because my mom was gone for so long. She was the Master and her not being here made the village itself lose some of its spiritual powers. When she died and the role of Master was finally transferred to me, girls being born here started exhibiting spiritual power again.”

Phoenix blinked. “Huh.”

Maya chuckled. “I know. It sounds like complete B.S. but hey, we can channel dead people, so anything is possible right? Besides, like I said, it’s just a theory. Kurain Village is really a mystery nowadays, so who knows.”

“Isn’t there a library here with all sorts of history and knowledge about Kurain?” Phoenix asked.

Maya waved a hand. “As if I have time to read all of that stuff.”

“It might not be a mystery if you felt like researching it.”

“Mm, nah. Maybe I’ll tell Pearly to do it.”

“You can’t make Pearls do everything you don’t want to do.”

Maya grinned. “Fine, I’ll just suggest it to her.”

“You know she’ll do it just because you asked. Pearls is nice that way.”

“Yep, exactly.”

Phoenix rolled his eyes. “Sneaky.”

Maya settled her chin on his shoulder again, getting quiet. The warmth of the water made her feel a little sleepy, but Phoenix’s fingers pressing into her back reminded her that they were all alone…

She turned her head a bit to press her lips against his neck, and even in the heat of the hot springs she felt him shiver. His arms tightened around her, pulling her impossibly closer.

“Maya...”

“Ssh,” she said, pressing another kiss lower, towards his collar bone. “I don’t want to talk about anything anymore. I want to just... love you, Nick, without the constant hope or worry about anything else in the back of my mind, okay? I just want you.”

She pushed herself back using his shoulders for leverage and looked at him to find him smiling, and felt his fingers run up her back to play with the strings of her bikini.

“Okay, Maya.”

She smiled and leaned forward to press her lips to his.

Chapter Text

September 24th, 2030, 6:30 AM
Fey-Wright Residence

“Have I ever said how much I hate the time difference between Khura’in and L.A?” Maya mumbled as she shuffled into the small room that Phoenix called an office. Pearl was behind her, still in her pyjamas and smothering a yawn with her hand.

“Only every time I called you while you were there,” Phoenix replied, turning in his chair to face the only computer they had in the house. Maya and Pearl stepped up behind him.

“You sure you know what you’re doing, Mr. Nick?” Pearl asked.

Phoenix shot her a look. “Yes, I’ve called Trucy on this thing a bunch of times.” Pearl looked at Maya, and Phoenix saw a smirk pass between them. “What?”

“When you call a computer ‘this thing’ it makes you sound… kinda old,” Pearl said.

“Kinda? Nick is old, Pearly.”

Pearl giggled, and Maya grinned as Phoenix turned back to the computer. “Why are you both so mean in the mornings?”

“Sorry Mr. Nick,” Pearl said. “Trucy texted me a few minutes ago and said she’d be waiting, so you can go ahead and call now.”

Phoenix opened up the chat program Trucy had installed on the computer before leaving to go to Khura’in after her graduation. The list of profiles consisted of Trucy, Apollo, and Edgeworth, though Phoenix never used it to talk to Edgeworth.

“She’s online,” Pearl stated, pointing at the screen where the green dot was showing over Trucy’s profile picture.

Phoenix clicked the call button and waited while it rang. After a few seconds Trucy answered and appeared at the top left corner of the screen.

“Hey guys!” she said, smiling into the webcam. “How are you?”

“Tired,” Phoenix said.

“Oh, right. I guess it’s pretty early there, huh? We just finished dinner here.”

“We haven’t even eaten breakfast yet,” Maya said, bending down a little beside Phoenix so Trucy could see her through the camera. “And I’m starving!”

Trucy giggled. “Sorry, Maya. Anyways, why did you call a family meeting, Daddy?”

Phoenix glanced at Maya. “We wanted to sort of catch you up on some stuff that’s been happening around here while you’ve been gone.”

Trucy nodded. “Okay, sure. What’s up?”

“Well… we might as well jump right into it. So, for a while now me and Maya have been trying to have a baby…”

“Really?! Daddy, that’s great!”

Phoenix glanced up at Maya, who nodded at him to continue. “Yeah. Unfortunately it’s been a long time, and we haven’t had any luck.”

“Oh…”

“It’s alright, Trucy,” Maya said, putting a hand on Phoenix’s shoulder. “It just doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards for us. So instead… Nick and I decided we wanted to adopt a baby. After all, we kind of already have some experience with adoption, right?”

Trucy grinned. “That sounds amazing! I mean… I wouldn’t have a family if you hadn’t adopted me, Daddy. I think it’s great that you want to do that for another kid who has no one, like you did for me… Either way I get a little brother or sister out of it!”

“We’ve actually already started the process. It’ll take a long time, there’s tons of interviews and home checks and we have to have other people talk to the interviewers on our behalf. It could take months or even a year before we get a child placed with us, but it’s a start.”

“You’ve always been an amazing father to me, Daddy,” Trucy said earnestly. “And Maya, I’ve always been really grateful to have had you in my life all these years. Those interviewers are going to be happy to have found two people as good as you guys are. And Pearl, I already know what an awesome big sister you are. Whoever this kid is, they’re going to be so lucky! It’ll be worth the wait.”

“Yeah, we think so too.”

“Was that all?” Trucy asked. “Nothing else interesting has been going on?”

“Not really,” Phoenix said. “That was basically it, we just wanted to let you know.”

“Well… I guess I should let you guys go get breakfast and start your day, then,” she said. “Thanks for calling. Is it okay if I tell Polly about all this?”

Phoenix looked at Maya, who again nodded her consent. “Yeah, it’s fine. He’s as much a part of the family as anyone now.”

“He’ll be so happy for you guys.”

“How is he doing?” Phoenix asked. “The law office is still doing well?”

“Oh yeah, Polly is doing great. He hired some of the lawyers who were released from prison before I came to visit, so he has quite a few people working under him now, and the cases aren’t piling up on him so much. Plus he has Datz to help, and Nahyuta when he’s not busy helping Rayfa with her duties. Even my mom is helping out around the office when she’s not helping me with my shows.”

“And your shows are still doing well? You still have lots of money left?”

“Daddy, I have tons of money. Trust me, if you knew how much I was making over here you’d lose your mind.”

“I’m glad, then. But I miss you, you know.”

“We all miss you, Trucy,” Pearl put in, leaning down a bit to see the computer screen better. “When are you coming home for another visit?”

Trucy looked away from the screen. “I’m not sure. Soon, I hope. I’ll definitely be back to meet my new sibling when they come along though, so don’t worry! It won’t be that long.”

Phoenix sighed. “Okay. Well, we should get going. I have to head to work.”

“Me too,” Maya said. “I have some channelings booked for today and Pearly has a class to teach.”

“Okay. I love you all!” Trucy said, blowing a kiss to the screen. Maya and Pearl did the same, but Phoenix simply waved.

“Love you, Truce.”

“I love you too, Daddy… Okay… Bye!”

With that, Trucy pressed a button, and her camera went black. Phoenix sat back in his chair, his heart aching the way it always did when he had to say goodbye to her. Maya looked down at him, then turned to Pearl.

“Pearly, why don’t you go get ready? I’ll make us breakfast in a minute.”

“Okay Mystic Maya.” She turned on her heel and left the room, closing the door gently behind her.

Maya leaned down to wrap her arms around Phoenix’s neck, hugging him tightly. “Nick… Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m good.”

She stroked his hair. “Are you sure?”

“Mhm. I just… miss her.”

“I know you do,” Maya murmured.

“Do you think she even wants to come home?”

Maya let go of him and moved to sit in the only other chair in the room. She took his hand in hers, forcing him to swivel in his office chair to face her. “Of course she does. Why would you say that?”

“She seems so happy there, with Apollo and Thalassa. She didn’t even know the next time she was coming back, like she didn’t actually have any plans to. It’s starting to feel… permanent. Do you realize she’s been in Khura’in for over a year now? And she’s only come home once, for our wedding. It was supposed to be a summer getaway. She was supposed to come home for college last Se