Wow, so it's been a really long time since I've posted something here. To make up for that, have this monster of a fic that ate me for months! It's split into a few chapters so I'll be posting them over the next few days. Hope you enjoy them! :)
Maaany thanks to doctorskuld
who beta'd this for me! ♥Title:
The Winding Way (Chapter One)Author: kiyalaWord Count:
February 10-12, 2019Rating:
Spoilers for 3-5 and for AJ:AA (in later chapters).The Winding Way - Chapter One
Maya Fey was an extremely determined person when it was required of her. This was one such situation.
Edgeworth and Mia had both told Phoenix not to underestimate her and although he couldn’t completely ignore the anxiety he felt whenever he so much as thought of the case that had just ended, he had to admit that they were right. He couldn’t even imagine himself in her position, but she was calm and collected, constantly smiling at Pearl when they were together. It was clear that Pearl still held herself responsible for what had happened, but Maya was set on keeping her distracted for as long as possible.
Unfortunately for her, there was one large obstacle in her way. She waited until Pearl was taking a nap before addressing it.
“Um… Nick, Edgeworth,” she spoke quietly, her gaze fixed on Charley’s leaves, visible over Phoenix’s shoulder. “My… my mother’s funeral is going to be held in Kurain in two days. I was wondering if you’d come. I need to call Larry too, because he knew her when she was Elise Deauxnim. I’ll tell Pearly about it once we have everything sorted out… I was thinking of going to Kurain tomorrow afternoon so I can make sure everything’s prepared for the funeral. It’s going to start early in the morning, so it would be better if we spent the night before over there.”
Phoenix tried to think of what to say. “…Maya…”
“Of course we’ll be there,” Edgeworth spoke up and Maya could have sworn that she saw him put a hand on Phoenix’s shoulder as he brought his hand up to adjust his jabot. “I’m sure Franziska would have as well, had she not flown back to Germany already.”
Maya smiled gratefully. “Thank you so much. I… I hope Pearly will be okay.”
Phoenix was about to mention the fact that she should be worrying about herself instead, but stopped himself. “If there’s anything we can do to help…”
“Just being there is great,” she told him with a smile. “Excuse me while I call Larry.”
Maya and Pearl took the train to Kurain the following afternoon while Phoenix, Edgeworth and Larry drove. As Maya had expected, the thought of Misty Fey’s funeral upset Pearl greatly and she alternated between a sad silence or hushed apologies for things that were in no way her fault. Maya’s attempts at cheering her up were unsuccessful and she eventually lapsed into her own thoughtful silence as she tried to think of what she was going to say at her mother’s funeral.
They were greeted warmly by their fellow spirit mediums when they arrived. Phoenix, Edgeworth and Larry hadn’t yet arrived from what Maya could tell. Kurain hadn’t been filled with this many people since the DL-6 incident. She pushed that thought out of her mind as she began thanking acquaintances of the Fey Clan for being there. Sister Bikini was waiting for her at the end, in the Main Hall with a warm mug of hot chocolate and another for Pearl. Maya sighed with relief when she could finally sit and Pearl was thankfully distracted from her guilt by a couple of other acolytes her age from another village.
Phoenix, Edgeworth and Larry arrived soon after, making their way through the crowd to greet Maya. Larry, who looked far more serious than she had ever seen him before, had brought flowers for her and she thanked him with a tight hug as she took them.
They slept early to rise before dawn the next morning. It was cold, but not snowing, though the clouds near the horizon bore promise of it later in the day. Yesterday’s snow was heaped on the eaves of the buildings they walked past, the sun not yet warm enough to melt it.
Phoenix, Edgeworth and Larry stood out in their black suits while the mediums wore white mourning robes. It was then Phoenix noticed that the three of them were the only males present.
“Thank you all for coming,” Maya spoke up, standing before the crowd in the funeral grounds, a short walk from the main part of Kurain village. Her robes seemed no thicker than normal, but she didn’t shiver when the wind blew.
The body of Misty Fey lay on a pyre, dressed in the extravagant robes of the Master of Kurain and the air was thick with spirits of those who had already departed, come to pay their respects. Phoenix was certain that he had glimpsed Mia by Maya’s side as the latter spoke of the memories she had of her mother as a warm and caring woman who always held the best interests of others at heart. Maya skipped over the time her mother had been disgraced and left Kurain when her daughters were one and eleven years old. She didn’t make mention of her aunt or the struggle for power that had taken place within the Fey Clan. She looked at Larry when she spoke of Elise Deauxnim and the way Mystic Misty Fey had always loved her, her family and everybody else that she had known.
When she finished speaking, her eyes were brimming with tears and Pearl sobbed softly. Glancing at Larry, Phoenix found that he had tears freely streaming down his cheeks. Edgeworth looked up at Phoenix and frowned a little, perhaps at how upset he looked, as he briefly touched their hands together.
They both returned their gaze to the front in time to see the pyre being lit. For a moment, the fire was the brightest thing they could see, until the sun began to rise just behind it. Then, the smoke began to rise. There was a long moment of silence, as several pairs of eyes watched the flames as they danced in the gentle breeze, melting the snow on the ground near the pyre.
Finally, Maya spoke again, her voice a little shakier than it had been earlier. “Thank you all.”*
They didn’t get the chance to speak to Maya after the funeral until the guests had all left Kurain, sometime after breakfast the next morning. Misty Fey’s ashes were in an urn which sat in the Meeting Rom of Kurain manor along with her staff. The staff which would belong to Maya, soon enough.
They sat in the spare room; Nurse Bikini had made them more hot chocolate before leaving and Pearl had fallen asleep, worn out from the funeral. Edgeworth had politely refused the hot chocolate in favour of making some tea for himself and they were all silent, trying to think of something to say. Maya was the first to speak.
“I was thinking about it for a while after the funeral… but maybe I need to take a bit of a break before I get back into training.”
Phoenix looked up. “A break?”
“Just a few days to sort things out,” Maya said, “…I need to come to terms with the fact that Mother is really gone, I think.”
“That’s completely understandable,” Edgeworth said with a nod. “Don’t feel as though you need to justify yourself, Maya. Your happiness and well-being are more important than anything else.”
She smiled at that. “Thanks, Edgeworth. I think I’ll go for a walk. I’ll be back later… make yourselves comfortable, okay?”
They remained silent as she left. Sighing, she walked down the quieter parts of the village, tracing the path she and Mia used to take years ago, back when her sister was still alive and staying at the village and they were taken care of by their kind aunt.
The garden seemed far more barren than she had remembered, which did nothing to improve her mood. Sitting down on a boulder, she wrapped her arms around her knees and let the world move on without her, just for a little while. *
Maya had been gone for more than an hour and Phoenix began to feel worried. Larry had slipped off, saying that there was something he wanted to do and hadn’t been paid very much attention. Edgeworth was left to calm Phoenix down, which worked up until Pearl woke to find Maya gone and began worrying as well.
After some panic, Pearl decided that she would go find Maya and left Edgeworth to deal with Phoenix once again. Kurain looked small to an outsider, but Pearl knew that the countless corners and gardens made it much larger when trying to find somebody. Luckily, it didn’t take her too long to find Maya, who was still curled up on the same rock.
Maya jumped a little and turned to Pearl, smile already in place. “Pearly! Hi! Did you have a good nap?”
Pearl walked closer, leaning against the rock. “I woke up and you weren’t there so I was worried.”
Maya pulled Pearl into a hug. “Of course I’m still here. I just wanted some time by myself, you know? Because the funeral… well, it had so many people! They all wanted to talk to me so I needed a break after all of that.”
“Oh!” Pearl looked relieved and smiled brightly. “That’s good, then! As long as you’re fine!”
Maya smiled again. “Of course I’m fine! There’s nothing to worry about.”
Once she was fully convinced, Pearl returned to the manor to inform Phoenix that there was nothing to worry about. Phoenix was convinced for all of half an hour before asking Pearl where Maya was so that he would be able to talk to her himself.
“Oh, hey Nick.” Maya was drawing in the snow with a stick and looked up as he approached.
“Are you okay?” he asked, frowning a little. “I know you’re putting on a brave face for Pearls and I think it’s great you’re doing that for her, but—”
“I’m fine,” she interrupted, her gaze not quite meeting his but her voice firm. “Or at least, I don’t really want to talk about it. I know you’re worried Nick and I really appreciate it. I just… really need to sort this out myself.”
“If there’s anything I can do…” Phoenix began.
“You’re doing enough as it is. Thank you. I think I need to do the rest on my own. Actually… I think I need to spend some time away from Kurain. The more I think about it, I don’t think I’m ready to be the Master.”
“Away from Kurain?” Phoenix asked. “How long?”
“I don’t know.” Maya shrugged. “As long as I need.”
“When are you going to tell Pearls?”
“I’ll sort it out, Nick.”
Taking that as his cue to eave, Phoenix returned to the others. Larry had returned and was helping Pearl prepare lunch. Edgeworth noticed the troubled look on Phoenix’s face and pulled him aside to talk.
“What’s the matter? You’d better not let Pearl see you with an expression like that.”
Phoenix sighed and tried to frown less, which was barely successful. “Maya’s saying that she’s going to spend some time away from Kurain.”
Edgeworth blinked. “Is that all?”
“What do you mean by that
Edgeworth sighed, holding Phoenix by the shoulders. “Phoenix, I think you’re overreacting. I, for one, can fully understand why she would need a break rather than become Master right away.”
“But what if she decides that she doesn’t want to have anything to do with Kurain at all? And what is she going to tell Pearl?”
“I’m sure she’ll figure that out. Stop worrying so much and give her some space. I’m sure she needs it at the moment.”
Phoenix sighed. “I… suppose so.”
Without warning, Edgeworth pulled him into a kiss. “Now, stop frowning.”
Phoenix couldn’t help the small grin that found its way to his lips in spite of himself. Edgeworth smirked a little and led the way back inside.*
Maya was sure that it was past midday by now. The sun was high in the sky and she felt hungry. She was sitting in the snow, eyes shut as she let the sun shine on her face. She wasn’t keen on returning just yet.
She had grown bored of drawing with her stick and was covering the pictures with snow when she heard footsteps approaching. She didn’t look up, pretending as though she hadn’t heard them. The footsteps stopped and Maya held her breath.
She was surprised to hear Larry’s voice. Blinking her eyes open, she looked up to find him wearing the same serious expression she had seen before. He sat down in the snow beside her and she noticed that he was carrying something.
“Would you mind some company?”
“Not at all,” she replied, sitting up and eyeing the book in his hands with curiosity.
Larry looked at the cover as he spoke. “You know… if I knew that Elise was actually your mother, I would’ve paid a lot more attention to everything she taught me. I had a look through my things and I think I found everything. So…”
He handed the book to her and Maya realised that it was a sketchbook. She hesitated and Larry smiled. “Open it.”
The drawings on the first page were extremely sketchy, the details difficult to make out. Larry pointed at one part of the picture. “Look closely. That’s a magatama and these two here are girls. That smaller one…”
Maya’s fingers trembled and she looked at Larry. He had a sad look in his eyes but he was smiling. “I think it’s you. Some of the pictures in this book never made sense to me when I saw them before but after I found out who she really was, I looked at them again and I could see it.”
“You brought this to show me?” Maya asked, her voice quiet.
“I’ve got more in my bag. I wanted to give them to you. There’s a lot of you and your sister drawn in them. I thought a few of them looked familiar when I saw them before but now I’m sure that they’re you. I wanted to make sure that you knew that she was thinking about you.”
Clutching the book to her chest, Maya sniffed. “Thank you, Larry.”
He was silent as she looked through the rest of the sketchbook and once she had finished, he shrugged a little. “Nick’s really worried about you. Dunno what’s got him bothered, but him and Edgey have been talking quietly when Pearl’s out of the room and they think I’m not listening.”
Maya sighed. “Nick must be worried about what I said. I told him that I needed a break from Kurain. …Actually… can I tell you something?”
“What’s up?” Larry asked, easily detecting the discomfort in her voice.
She kept her gaze fixed to the cover of the sketchbook as she tried to put her thoughts into words. “I’ve been thinking about it since I told Nick about wanting to take a break. I grew up here, so this place will always be important to me… but I think I’ve already been caught up in the mess of the Fey Clan enough as it is. Both Pearly and I have had to deal with enough trouble because of the head and branch families… I’m afraid it’s going to be even worse if I become Master. Pearly’s always been a better spirit medium than me. What if one day she realises that she’s sick of being second to me? Just like Aunt Morgan with Mother.”
Larry remained expressionless. “You really think that?”
“It’s a possibility,” Maya replied. “And I’m not willing to take a chance on something like that. I’m not ready to deal with that possibility. I’m not ready to become Master, Larry, I’m not even ready to say goodbye to my mother and she’s been gone for eighteen years already.”
Larry hesitated before carefully wrapping an arm around Maya’s shoulder. She leaned into it and sighed. “I can’t do this. I don’t want to.”
“No one’s forcing you,” he replied. “Just do what you want to do. Just explain it to Pearl, Nick and Edgey. They’re reasonable people. I think they’ll definitely understand.”
“Yeah. You’re right. Thanks.”
“Oh! And before I forget… I brought some lunch with me because you didn’t come back by the time we ate. I helped Pearl make some sandwiches.”
He handed them to her and she ate them quickly before standing up and dusting herself off. “Let’s head back, then. I’d better talk to Pearly and Nick.”
Unfortunately, they found that they had been completely wrong to expect the others to be accepting of the idea. They rehearsed what Maya would say to Phoenix on their way back to the manor, convinced that he would take it well. He didn’t.
“You want to do what
?” Phoenix exclaimed, his eyes wide. “But after everything…”
“I know!” Maya sounded upset, which made Phoenix hesitate. “Look, I wouldn’t make a decision this big without thinking about it really hard! What do you think I’ve been doing all day?”
Pearl was already tearing up. “Is this my fault, Mystic Maya? Just tell me what I have to do to make you stay! I’ll do anything!”
“It’s not your fault, Pearly. Believe me,” Maya said in a gentle tone. “It’s nobody’s fault… I just don’t want to do this any more. I don’t want to be a spirit medium. I want you to be the Master instead of me.”
“I can’t do that! You’re the one who is meant to be Master and nobody else!”
Phoenix glanced at Edgeworth, who folded his arms across his chest and took a step back. Rather than taking sides, he simply watched on without comment.
Shaking his head, Phoenix turned back to Maya. “But this has been passed through your family for years – you’ve been training for it all your life. How can you just throw all of that away? This is what you’re meant
“Hey, that’s no far,” Larry spoke up. “Everyone’s allowed to decide what they want to do. It doesn’t matter what things used to be like. People change and sometimes their decisions do too. I think Maya knows what’s best for herself.”
Phoenix looked surprised to hear Larry defending Maya, while it boosted her confidence.
“Exactly what he said, Nick! I used to think I wanted to be a great spirit medium, but that’s changed now. I want to leave Kurain. I want to put all of this behind me and just move on. I was hoping that you’d understand.”
“Aren’t friends supposed to listen to each other?” Larry added. “Especially at a time like this when a friend really needs support?”
Phoenix’s shoulders slumped and he looked away. “I don’t think I’m happy about this… but you should do what you think is right, Maya. Even if that means leaving Kurain.”
Not knowing what else to do, Pearl burst into tears. She ran out of the manor and Edgeworth gave Phoenix a small push in the direction of the door. “We’ll take care of her, don’t worry.”
Maya and Larry stood in the empty room for a long stretch of silence before she finally sighed wearily. “…So… you said you had other sketchbooks too?”
“Oh. Yeah. Wanna see?”
“Please. Lead the way.”*
After Pearl had finally managed to calm down, she decided that she would stay in Kurain to take care of the place. She didn’t add that she was only taking care of it for Maya to return someday.
They left the village the following morning, Phoenix and Edgeworth taking the car while Maya and Larry opted for the train. Phoenix worried the entire way home. They had decided to meet at the office later in the afternoon but he began wondering if Maya would show up or if she was planning on disappearing entirely. He tried to convince himself that there was nothing to worry about because Larry was with her, but it wasn’t as comforting a thought as he’d hoped.
Phoenix breathed a loud sigh of relief once Edgeworth pulled up to the curb and they found Maya and Larry both waiting outside the building. To his surprise, Maya was actually laughing as she spoke with Larry, looking far happier than she did when they were in Kurain.
Opening the door of the office, Phoenix led the way and they quickly settled down around the place, sitting in the couch or leaning against the table.
“So what are you going to be doing now?” Larry asked, looking at Maya after she returned from watering Charley. “Any big plans?”
Maya smiled, glancing at Phoenix. “Actually, I’d be happy to just stay here and help Nick out.”
Phoenix smiled a little, but it didn’t look entirely convincing. “Glad to have you around, Maya.*
to be continued