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//stand my ground
[March 2019] The Winding Way (Chapter Four) 
24th-Mar-2009 07:41 pm
GOTG :: Groot
Title: The Winding Way (Chapter Four)
Author: kiyala
Word Count: 5965
Pairings: Maya/Larry, Phoenix/Edgeworth
Date: March, 2019
Rating: G
Warnings: Spoilers for 3-5 and for AJ:AA

Yay, final chapter! \o/



The Winding Way - Chapter Three


Maya and Larry’s dates mostly consisted of sitting around at cafés, talking about whatever came to mind as they drank coffee. To Larry’s advantage, Maya didn’t like coffee as much as she liked burgers, which left his wallet considerably healthier. Maya didn’t quite understand the appeal, but she went along with it anyway as it had been Larry’s suggestion and he definitely knew more about dating. The girls loved this kind of thing, he told her on their first date at the café, sounding more like he was giving her advice than anything else. She let him lead the conversation.

“So, I’ve known Nick and Edgey for almost all my life. I know everything about them,” Larry boasted, wrapping his arm around Maya’s shoulder and pulling her closer. “Pretty impressive, huh? I can give you all the dirt on your boss!”

Maya, who had been halfway through a badly timed sip of coffee, tried not to drop her cup as she turned to Larry. “Really? That’s great! I was actually wondering what Nick’s favourite kind of chocolate is. I thought maybe some chocolate would cheer him up. He’s been looking a bit lonely lately.”

“My darling Maya, you’re so thoughtful!” Larry smiled proudly. “Hm… Nick’s favourite chocolate, huh? I think… he likes those ones with different kinds of filling. You know – they come in boxes and have strawberry, or hazelnut, or—”

“Isn’t that your favourite kind of chocolate?” Maya asked, raising an eyebrow. “…Don’t worry. I’ll just ask Edgeworth.”

“Wow. Edgey knows Nick’s favourite kind of chocolate? Now there’s a dedicated friend! I wonder if he knows mine! I never would’ve picked Edgey to be caring, but I guess he is a pretty good friend to Nick, huh?”

“F-Friend?” Maya blinked. “You’re kidding, right?”

Entirely oblivious to Maya’s real reason for disbelief, Larry squeezed her shoulders. “I know it’s hard to imagine Edgey being a nice guy, but think about it! I bet he really cares about Nick. There isn’t any other explanation for why he few all the way over here when Nick fell into that river! I mean, I just called because I thought he’d want to know but then BAM, he’s here the next day!”

Maya smiled, deciding that Phoenix could be the one to let Larry know the precise nature of his relationship with Edgeworth. “Hey, you’re right!”

Grinning, Larry took his arm off Maya’s shoulders to hold her hand instead. Her smile faltered a little, but he was too busy leaning in for a kiss to notice.

As the weather became warmer, Maya suggested that they go for walks in the park for dates, rather than sitting in cafés. Larry liked the idea, but it didn’t stop him from wanting to have his arm around her as often as possible. She found it difficult to walk with his arm around her waist, but Larry looked far too cheerful to tell him to stop. Holding hands didn’t feel as clingy, so Maya considered it a compromise. To her relief, Larry didn’t even seem to notice when she managed to change his habit of holding onto her to simply holding hands.

Their walks in the park felt far from the stuffy and barely comfortable dates they spent at a table with coffee. Maya found that it put her in a far better mood and there were always things in the park that kept Larry amused.

They were going for a walk (Larry insisted that they be called romantic strolls) through a park near the law offices to pass time while Phoenix was in court. He’d gotten a case in the last minute and had refused Maya’s offer to help out, saying that he wanted to take this one by himself. They didn’t know very much about the client and Phoenix was too busy going over the court records to share any information with them.

It didn’t concern Maya very much. Even though she hadn’t met the client and Phoenix looked troubled, she knew that he would pull through.

Larry had the day off from his sandwich stall and was assessing the hot dog carts and ice cream trucks he referred to as his ‘rivals’ as they ate lunch. Maya wasn’t eager to point out that a large burger joint would hardly consider his stall as competition. Larry only took her out for burgers twice a week so she was using the opportunity to stuff her face rather than do anything else.

“This is the first time Nick’s been on a case without you watching, right?” Larry asked as they took the long way back to the office from the burger joint.

“Well. I guess you could say that,” she replied, not quite wanting to go into the details of all the times she had been kept away from the courtroom for various reasons. “But I think he’s been through enough cases now that he doesn’t need help.”

Larry nodded. “Nick’s always been a bit dependent of people. When he has people to depend on, anyway. It’s good if he tries to be a bit more independent, you know?”

Maya led the way up the stairs to the office, holding the door open for Larry before they both walked in. The door to Phoenix’s office had been left open and Maya perked up upon noticing this.

“Wow, Nick! Back already? That must’ve been a really easy trial! Did you teach that new prosecutor a good lesson?” she slowed down when she glimpsed Phoenix at his desk. “…Nick?”

“What’s wrong?” Larry asked, detecting the worry in Maya’s voice and peering into Phoenix’s office. His eyes widened. “Whoa! Are you okay? What’s wrong, Nick?”

Phoenix was slumped over his desk, head in his hands. He only looked up when Maya approached him and put a hand on his shoulder. He wasn’t able to speak properly until Maya sat him down with a hastily made cup of tea, which was when he explained what had happened at court.

“F-Forged evidence?” Larry sputtered. “That’s like, illegal, right? Why did you use forged evidence?”

“He didn’t realise it!” Maya replied, sounding more than a little defensive. “The girl just gave him the evidence and he thought it was real!”

“You mean that kid’s got it in for him?”

“No,” Phoenix interrupted, shaking his head. “Trucy’s a good kid. She said that someone told her to give me the diary page, but…”

He trailed off and Maya patted his shoulder.

“Are you going to tell Edgeworth? Or do you want me to?”

Phoenix hesitated for a moment before shaking his head. “…No.”

Maya nodded slowly. “That’s fine. I think you should go home, Nick. If you get any important calls, I’ll let you know.”

“A-And you won’t tell Edgeworth?”

“I won’t tell Edgeworth.”

*


When the news of the trial did reach Edgeworth, which didn’t take very long, both Maya and Larry knew that it was a good idea to step back. After giving them both a brief but frightening lecture for not telling him in spite of everything Phoenix had said, he informed them that he would take control of the matter and see what could be done, pulling whatever strings he still could.

Maya blamed herself for not accompanying Phoenix as she usually did, but kept the thought to herself not even mentioning it to Larry. He was understanding enough when she was distracted more often than usual, or hit with a sudden rush of dread and fear for what would happen to Phoenix now. He had a review soon and as had been promised, Edgeworth was doing all that he could. The problem as that as much as he tried, it still wasn’t enough.

The day of the review, Maya and Larry sat in the office, which had seen very little activity over the past few weeks.

“He’ll be fine,” Larry said with a reassuring nod. “You know what Nick’s like. Even if it’s bad news, he’ll figure something out.”

“Yeah. You’re right.” Maya felt the slightest bit better. “We’ll be around to give him all the support he needs anyway.”

“If worst comes to worst, he can help out at the sandwich stall,” Larry joked, but Maya couldn’t bring herself to laugh. He cleared his throat. “…Anyway, things will be alright. Sucks that the case didn’t get solved, though. The way it looked from the report, it really looked like Nicks’ guy wasn’t actually guilty.”

“But why would he disappear then?” Maya frowned. “…And he left his little daughter behind too. I don’t understand how parents can just disappear and…”

Larry squeezed her hand tightly and Maya shook her head. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be. I know it’s personal.”

Sighing, she squeezed Larry’s hand too. “…At least she had Mr. Valant to take her in. I just hope he doesn’t end up being like Aunt Morgan. But the way Nick put things, it really looked like he was the guilty one, so maybe it isn’t a good idea if he takes care of… I think her name was Trucy.”

Larry gave Maya what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “I’m sure they’ll find someone to take care of her.”

Maya looked unconvinced. “…If I wasn’t avoiding Kurain myself… she’s around Pearly’s age, and magic is kind of like being a spirit medium, right?”

“What, you want to adopt her?” Larry sounded worried at the prospect. “You’re a bit young, aren’t you?”

“Maybe not adopt, but I could take care of her like I take care of Pearly! Um… if I was going to go back to Kurain, that is. I guess it wouldn’t work out, the way things are right now.”

Larry tried to think of something reassuring to say, but was spared when the phone rang. Maya scrambled for it, hands shaking when she lifted it to her ear. “H-Hello?”

“Maya? This is Edgeworth.” He didn’t sound happy and didn’t pause for a response before continuing. “The Bar Association Ethics Committee passed their decision against Phoenix and took his badge. He’s asleep at my place right now, and I don’t think he’ll be coming in to the office for a while.”

“Oh.” Maya frowned and rubbed her eyes and she began to tear up. “A-Alright then. Take good care of him. Are you going to be staying here, then?”

“I will, for as long as I’m needed. I need to tell Phoenix, but I’m sure I can work something out and stay in L.A.”

“That’s good.” Her voice was quiet. “He really needs you.”

“We’ll drop by the office once he’s feeling better. Hopefully it won’t be too long. If anybody asks where he is, tell them that you don’t know. Mostly to keep the media away.” Edgeworth sighed. “I’ll call tomorrow to let you know how he is.”

“I’ll talk to you then. Thanks.”

Larry walked over to her side as she hung up. “Bad news?”

“They took Nick’s badge. I don’t think he’s taking it very well. He’ll be staying at Edgeworth’s place for a while.”

“Poor Nick,” Larry murmured, wrapping an arm around Maya’s shoulders. “At least he’s got a great friend to take care of him, right?”

Maya nodded silently, not quite wanting to discuss Phoenix’s relationship with Edgeworth. She leaned into his arms with a shaky sigh. “I can’t believe this, Larry. Phoenix isn’t a lawyer any more. He doesn’t have a job. What’s he going to do?”

“Well, I like trying different jobs. Maybe Nick can find something else he’s good at.”

“Maybe. But I don’t think he’d want to do anything different to what he’s doing. He really loves being a defense attorney.”

“Like I said before… he’ll figure something out. Plus, he’s got us and Edgeworth here to look out for him.”

Maya tried to feel optimistic. “…I guess so.”

*


Edgeworth brought Phoenix into the office the following day. Maya, who let them in, felt her chest constrict upon noticing Edgeworth’s expression; a dispirited frown and the most sadness she had seen in his eyes for a long time.

He waited for Phoenix to be distracted by Larry’s attempts at cheering him up before pulling Maya aside.

“He wants me to return to Germany.”

Her eyes widened. “What? No! That’s stupid! Did you tell him you’re staying?”

“…I agreed,” he replied with a resigned look in Phoenix’s direction. “He presented a good argument for once, damn him.”

Maya slumped against the wall. “But he needs you.”

Edgeworth smiled wanly. “I won’t deny that. But I made the mistake of committing myself to whatever he wanted of me. I’ll be finished with my work abroad in two years.”

Two years? What’s Nick going to do for two years?”

“Please. Give him a little more credit than that. He believes that he’ll be fine. I believe in him, just as he believes in me.”

Folding her arms and frowning, Maya tried to think of a response. Phoenix approached them with a small smile.

“I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you’re chewing him out for something I didn’t really give him a choice in?”

“Nick, you’re an idiot.”

He patted Maya’s shoulder, the smile replaced by an absolutely serious look. “Don’t worry about me. I’m going to be fine. Trust me.”

Maya noted that not even Edgeworth looked as though he completely believed in Phoenix’s words, but they both remained silent.

“So,” it was Larry who broke the silence. “Anybody up for burgers?”

“Oh, definitely!” Phoenix replied, glancing at Maya and then at Edgeworth before leading the way out.

They avoided talking about the fate of Wright & Co. Law Offices until Edgeworth had returned to Germany, after giving both Phoenix and Maya strict instructions to keep him updated on anything and everything.

“Sorry,” Phoenix said as they sat around the office, more out of habit than anything else. “Looks like I’ve put you out of a job.”

Maya, who had taken to cleaning the place whenever Larry wasn’t there to distract her, simply shook her head. “That’s the last thing you should be worrying about.”

“Mia would be so upset. Look what I’ve done with everything she’s built.”

“That’s not true. I would channel my sis so she could tell you that in person, but…” her voice dropped. “I haven’t been training, so I don’t think I can.”

Phoenix didn’t say anything for a long moment before changing the subject. “I was talking to Larry the first day I came back here with Edgeworth after they took my badge. He told me something.”

“Hm?”

“He said that you were pretty bothered about Trucy being left behind when Zak disappeared.”

Maya’s eyes widened but she kept her voice even. “Really? You know how Larry exaggerates…”

“He wasn’t,” Phoenix sounded sure. “He said that you were even saying that you’d take her to Kurain and take care of her there, if you weren’t avoiding going back.”

Maya bit her lip. “Well it’s just sad to see someone abandon a kid like that…”

“It makes sense that it upsets you. Don’t feel like you have to justify it. I just… wanted to say that it got me thinking.”

“Thinking…?”

Phoenix sighed and looked directly into Maya’s eyes. “I’m thinking of adopting Trucy.”

Maya’s jaw dropped. “Wh-WHAT?”

Phoenix shrugged a little. “I grew up with my mother and we never had that much money but we still managed to make ends meet. I think I can do it, Maya. I don’t want her to feel like she’s alone. If I hadn’t messed up, maybe Zak wouldn’t have run for it.”

“But that’s not your fault! Don’t make excuses for him!” Maya exclaimed before stopping herself. “…Sorry. But… what about Edgeworth? What did he say about this?”

“I’m not telling him about it just yet. I’m going to wait for everything to settle down first.”

“Weren’t you listening when he told us to tell him about everything that was going on?” Maya asked. “He’s going to yell at me!”

“Don’t worry. I’ll handle it when the time comes. I just… want to keep him out of this now. I know he won’t like the idea, but this is something I’ve decided to do and I can’t afford to let him stop me.” Phoenix said, sounding unsettlingly determined for such a big decision. He looked at Maya and gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “For now… I’ve got some research to do. At least it’ll keep me busy. Will you help me?”

Maya hesitated, but her fear of Edgeworth was quickly overridden by her desire to make sure Trucy ended up with a good guardian. Despite the fact that Phoenix was more than a little absentminded at times and rather tight on his finances, she knew that it would make them both happy.

“Of course I will, Nick.”

*


Phoenix immersed himself in books about child custody and adoption, insisting that both Maya and Larry stop feeling constantly responsible for him and take some time for themselves.

They ended up walking in the park out of habit, but neither of them could ignore the fact that this felt different. In an attempt to break the uncomfortable silence, Larry reached to wrap an arm around Maya. He stopped when he noticed the way her shoulders drew together and dropped his hand by his side. “You never really liked that huggy stuff, did you?”

Maya looked at him with an apologetic smile. “I’m not really used to it. I thought I could be, but I don’t think it happened.”

Larry smiled a little himself. “Yeah… girls tell me I’m too clingy sometimes. I can’t really help it, even when I try.”

“That’s okay. I’m sure there are people who really like hugs and stuff.”

The smile on Larry’s face faded. “Does that mean we’re…?”

“We have to focus on Nick,” Maya replied, looking directly at him. “I think you’re a really great guy, Larry. But since Nick’s been disbarred, we’ve been doing everything we can for him. We work together really great when we’re being supportive friends, but…”

“Not as well as a couple?” Larry suggested. “I kinda noticed it too.”

She smiled sadly and when Larry touched her shoulder this time, she leaned into it and gave him a single-armed hug. Larry sighed, pulling her closer.

“I’ll miss you.”

“What are you talking about? We’re still going to hang out. And take care of Nick.” Maya nudged him. “You’re not allowed to use this as an excuse to run out on him.”

Larry looked genuinely shocked. “What? As if I’d do that! So… we’re friends, then?”

Maya looked concerned. “Is that a bad thing?”

“No!” He shook his head. “No way. It’s just… I’ve never been friends with a girl after she left me. It’s different. But in a good way.”

She smiled. “That’s… good.”

Larry checked the time and his eyes widened, “Oh no… I was supposed to be opening the sandwich stall five minutes ago! I have to go. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

Maya waved. “I’ll be at the office with Nick. See you later!”

She stood there, watching as Larry dashed through the park. The thought of her first relationship coming to an end was accompanied by a pinch of sadness – she felt it in her chest when she pushed all the worry for Phoenix out of her mind. It wasn’t as bad as she had feared it would be, but she knew that was because hardly anything had changed with Larry.

When she returned to the office and told Phoenix, he was surprisingly upset.

“You broke up? But why?”

Maya looked confused. “I thought you didn’t want me to date Larry…”

“That was before! But now I’ve seen you two together…” Phoenix frowned and shook his head. “Sorry to hear it, Maya. Are you okay?”

Giving him a quick hug, she smiled. “Absolutely fine. Thanks, Nick. We’re still friends, so things aren’t bad at all.”

Phoenix still didn’t look like he’d gotten over it, but glanced at the stack of papers on his desk and smiled. “I’ve got some good news, if you’d like to hear it.”

“Ooh! About Trucy?”

“I got in touch with the foster home she’s staying in at the moment. They agreed to let me talk to her tomorrow. You know… so I can ask her what she thinks of having me take care of her.”

Maya beamed. “That’s great news! I really hope it works out!”

“Thanks for all your help so far. You can take the day off tomorrow if you want. Not like you’re being paid either way, but I don’t think I’ll be doing much except for meeting Trucy. And filing the adoption papers if it goes well.”

“Yay! I get to be Aunt Maya! Maybe I should get her a Magatama too, that way she’ll really be part of the family!”

Phoenix smiled even wider at the thought. “I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves here. For all I know, she might not even want to talk to me that much, forget wanting to stay with me.”

“We’ll see. Stay positive!” Maya patted him on the back. “And let me know how it goes.”

*


Two days later, Maya received a phone call from Phoenix, asking her to come to the office. When she arrived, there were boxes all around the reception, some still shut and others open to show an assortment of magic props.

“Maya!” Phoenix called, looking through the door of his office. “In here!”

It took her a moment to get her head around how happy he sounded before eagerly following him in.

“Pleased to meet you Aunt Maya, I am the Amazing Mr. Hat!”

“EEEK!”

She heard Phoenix laughing. “I think you overdid it, Trucy.”

“Oops!” the girl by the door giggled. “Sorry about that. It was Daddy’s idea.”

Maya blinked, taking a better look at the wooden puppet. “Oh wow! That is so cool!”

“See? Told you she’d like it,” Phoenix grinned.

“Wait! Daddy?” Maya looked at Trucy and then beamed. “That’s great news! It’s really nice to meet you, Trucy!”

“It’s nice to meet you too, Aunt Maya! Here, have some flowers!” There was a pop and Trucy produced a bouquet from behind her back.

“Ooh, wow! Thanks!”

Phoenix adjusted his tie a little and looked at Maya. “So. This is my daughter.”

“Trucy Wright! Assistant manager of Wright Talent Agency, at your service!”

“Talent Agency?”

Phoenix shrugged with a bemused smile. “I guess it’s not much of a law office any more. Trucy decided we’d change it.”

“But what does a talent agency do?” Maya asked.

“Anything you need!” Trucy answered “Even magic, or spirit… mediuming.”

“Spirit mediuming?” Maya turned to Phoenix. “You told her about that?”

“What’s it like to channel a spirit, Aunt Maya?”

“Well… I don’t know how to explain it. It feels kinda normal to me… and I haven’t really done it for a while. I quit.”

“You quit? How come?”

A glance at the bewildered look on Phoenix’s face told Maya that he hadn’t put Trucy up to this. She shrugged a little. “Something bad happened, so I don’t really want to do it any more.”

“Ohh.” Trucy nodded understandingly. “You know, I did the same thing when the accident happened and my Mummy disappeared. After that, I didn’t want to do magic any more but then I realised that I liked it too much to give up!”

Maya smiled a little. “Really? It’s good that you kept going because I think you’re a really good magician, from what I’ve seen! I’m a really big fan of Troupe Gramarye too! I remember my sis taking me to one of the shows when I was younger.”

Phoenix patted Trucy’s shoulder and she leaned into his touch. “She’s a great magician already. She spent all of yesterday showing me her repertoire. She already works at the Wonder Bar, just a few streets away. Can you believe that?”

Maya couldn’t help but grin at the hint of pride in Phoenix’s voice, somehow unsurprised at how quickly he was becoming a doting father.

“Hey Daddy, can we have lunch at the nice place we went to yesterday?” Trucy asked, tugging on Phoenix’s jacket. “The noodle place? And can Aunt Maya come too?”

Mr. Eldoon was happy to see all three of them, occasionally talking to Phoenix and Maya as he made their noodles while Trucy played with the dog.

“She’s going to love Pess,” Phoenix mused, watching them play with a smile.

“So when are you telling Edgeworth? And how are you going to tell Trucy about Edgeworth?”

“Well… I told her that he’s a really good friend. I figured that the details could wait until I’ve told him. Speaking of which… there’s another thing I wanted to tell you.”

“Another think you’re not going to tell Edgeworth?” Maya asked, dreading the answer.

“…I’ll tell him when I let him know about adopting Trucy.”

“That big, huh?”

“I’m moving out of my apartment. With my job gone, I can’t afford to pay rent for the office and the flat and my lease is almost up anyway. The office is bigger and it’s in a more convenient place, so…”

“You’re going to make Trucy live in an office?”

“It was her suggestion, actually. That’s why we had all her boxes in the office.”

Maya sighed. “And you want me to keep that a secret from Edgeworth too? He’s going to kill me.”

Phoenix chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’m the one he’s going to kill when he finds out about all of this.”

“That isn’t exactly comforting, you know. Damn it, I wish I could still channel sis. She’d know what to say.”

“Thinking of going back to Kurain?”

“I don’t want to,” Maya replied and frowned. “…I don’t want to deal with going back and becoming the Master. But at the same time, Trucy made a really good point before about continuing to do magic even after the accident with her mum happened. I mean… it’s almost the same thing as what happened with me, isn’t it?”

“Well, you are facing more responsibility than she had to,” Phoenix said. “So it’s an unfair comparison for you.”

“Yeah… but you get what I mean, right? It feels a bit pointless avoiding being a spirit medium just because of an accident. But… it’s not enough for me to want to go back.”

Phoenix nodded slowly. “Larry was right before… it’s your choice to make.”

“Thanks, Nick.”

*


Barely a week had passed since Phoenix had adopted Trucy but they had both adjusted to the change in their lives as though it were natural. Phoenix had started his own investigations regarding his disbarment and the forged evidence that had led to it. He was sparing with the details he gave Maya, who was willing to help as much as possible. She didn’t let it bother her, only more than happy to baby sit Trucy whenever needed.

He still hadn’t told Edgeworth about Trucy or the fact that they were living in what was now known as the Wright Talent Agency, but Maya knew better than to push him. It didn’t help that her only argument was that she would tell Edgeworth if Phoenix didn’t, which was something that she most definitely did not want to do.

Time spent with Trucy was always eventful, whether Maya was helping her with homework or being an enthusiastic audience for magic tricks, but at the same time, it seemed to make her think harder about anything that came to mind. Whether or not it was on purpose, she found her thoughts turning to Kurain more often than not. She sat on the couch beside Trucy who was working no her spelling and comprehension homework, thoughts filled with Kurain and Pearl and even Hazakura Temple, Nurse Bikini and Iris. She thought of her mother, her aunt and the prospect of being the head of the most powerful channelling technique she knew of.

“Maya?” Phoenix’s voice brought her back to reality and she jumped a little in surprise, not having realised that he had returned before.

“Oh, Nick! Hi! Did you find anything new?”

Phoenix shrugged casually. “No clues, but I did find a job.”

“A job!” both Maya and Trucy exclaimed.

“It’s at that borscht place that likes having the temperature down to feel like it’s halfway through winter all year long. As far as everyone’s concerned, I just play the piano there, but I played a game of poker with the owner a couple of nights ago and he asked me to come in for a ‘job interview’ – to play another game. I beat him again so he’d decided to pay me to sit around and play cards.”

“That’s great Daddy!” Trucy cheered.

Maya didn’t look as enthusiastic. “…Poker?”

“Oh, not with real money. It’s all for fun.”

“But you get paid for that.”

“I’ll take whatever I can get right now. As long as I can bring some money home, I don’t really care what I have to do. Playing cards is a much easier way to make money than my other options.”

“Daddy, can you play the piano?”

“I know one song,” he replied with a big smile. “That’s enough, right?”

“Of course it is! You’ll do great, Daddy!” Trucy hugged him around the waist with a proud smile.

“Uh… Nick? Can I talk to you outside for a minute?”

Phoenix looked concerned. “Sure.”

She led the way out of the office and turned to find him watching her warily.

“Look Maya, if this is about the job—”

“Nick, I think I’m going to go back to Kurain.”

It took him a moment to register the fact that he wasn’t being told off. “O-Oh wow, really?”

“I feel really bad about leaving you both here by yourselves, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that it’s just something I have to do. I mean, you’ve just been through the worst thing ever, losing your badge, but you aren’t giving up. And Trucy too, who isn’t letting anything bother her. You all take responsibility and do what you have to do… I think maybe it’s time that I do it too. I know Pearly isn’t ever going to listen to me and take over as the Master, and the more I think about it, the more I realise that she’s right. I’m the one who has to go there and become Master. If I don’t like the way things work, I have to change them. I can’t do that unless I’m the Master. And what Trucy said to me about magic made me realise that I love being a spirit medium too much. I can’t give it up, no matter what happened before. I still look at myself and think, I’m Maya Fey, a spirit medium. It’s so much of what I am, I can’t just walk away from it. No matter how hard I try. So I think it’s time to go back.”

Phoenix was silent in through for a moment. “You’ve really thought this through, haven’t you?”

Maya smiled without humour. “I think I’ve been trying to talk myself out of it, but the more I think about it, the more I convince myself that I have to back. I wish I could stay here and help you guys out—”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Phoenix interrupted, shaking his head. “We’ll be fine. You should be doing what you have to. I’m glad you’re going back. I’m sure Pearls will be, too.”

“I’ll come back to visit once my powers get a bit stronger. Pearly needs to meet Trucy! Maybe we can visit regularly, so we can check on you guys just in case you need help with anything. It’s bad enough that Edgeworth’s overseas for a couple more years, I don’t want to make you feel like you’re all by yourself. I mean, you’ve got Larry and he’s a great guy. So you’ll still have company… but I’d feel a lot better if I could check on you myself. Plus, that way I can make sure you’re not keeping things secret from me like you are with Edgeworth.”

Phoenix laughed sheepishly. “I wouldn’t do that. You’re not terrifying like he is.”

Trucy poked her head out of the doorway. “Are you talking about grown up things?”

Maya smiled. “No, nothing like that. I was just telling Nick about how I’m planning on going back to my village so I can start being a spirit medium again.”

“Really?” Trucy looked excited. “That’s really cool! You always look so worried when you talk about Kurain. I hope you start feeling happy again! Just like me when I do magic tricks. Just promise that you’ll come back and visit, okay?”

“Of course I will! And you guys have to come up to Kurain and visit too, got it?”

Phoenix looked at Maya. “Are you telling Larry?”

“Of course I am! I need to tell him to keep an eye on you anyway.”

“Maya, that’s not really necessary…”

“Yeah!” Trucy chimed in. “That’s what I’m here for!”

They both laughed at that, trying not to be bothered by how true it was.

*


When Maya returned to Kurain, Phoenix and Trucy went to the station to see her off, along with Larry. Phoenix looked slightly worried by the way Maya and Larry occasionally spoke in hushed tones, not even trying to be inconspicuous at the way they glanced in his direction before continuing. He chose to distract himself by finding the correct platform and carrying Maya’s bags for her.

“…So remember to stay in touch,” he heard Maya saying as she and Larry caught up to where he was waiting with Trucy.

“Aunt Maya, you’d better come back and visit soon! I wanna hear all about your spirit medium training! And bring Pearl with you, please?”

Maya hugged Trucy tightly. “Of course I will! Take good care of your Daddy, okay? And tell him that it’s bad to lie to his friends!”

Phoenix groaned. “I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten the point by now. I’ll tell you everything. I promise.”

Giggling, Maya patted him on the shoulder. “I know that. There’s no harm in reminding you about it, though.”

The train blew its whistle to signal that it was time to board and Maya jumped a little. Hugging Trucy again, she then hugged Larry and Phoenix.

“Take care of yourselves, okay? Hopefully I’ll see you again really soon!” Taking her bags from Phoenix, she boarded the train and found a seat by the window so she could wave until the train pulled away.

Smiling to herself as the train picked up speed, she glanced into her bag to make sure that her acolyte robes were there on the top of the pile of clothing. She hadn’t told Pearl that she was returning and was already looking forward to the look of surprise when she showed up. Checking her phone to make sure that she could still find the photos of Phoenix and Trucy that she had taken, she thought of all the stories she could tell Pearl about them – especially Trucy – and found herself already looking forward to returning to L.A. once she was a full fledged spirit medium.

And then, she decided, she would spend one last time with them as Maya Fey, spirit medium and begin her training to become Mystic Maya Fey, Master of Kurain. Just like Phoenix had started investigating the forged evidence and Trucy had eventually returned to her magic tricks after the disappearance of her mother, Maya knew that this was something she could do.

x

End


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