Nearer to ten in the evening than she would have liked, a young woman stepped out of a taxi and glanced down the darkened street on which she had just arrived. She stuck out quite prominently in the dim and dingy lighting of the nearest lamppost, as her appearance was anything but dark.
This young lady, one who had just recently enjoyed the celebration of her nineteenth birthday, was called Athena Cykes.
As her cab departed down the road, Athena shuffled up the walkway to the front door of her apartment complex. Halfway there, she caught herself dragging her feet, and in the interest of keeping her boots in acceptable shape, she made a conscious effort to straighten herself up. This wouldn't mean a great amount, being that she was, at most, eight steps from the doorway, but Athena's presently weary state of mind wasn't in the best position for long-term considerations.
The lighting in the building's entryway was at least a bit more cheerful. Tenants arriving home late was a daily occurrence in this building, so the entryway and halls were habitually kept reasonably well-lit late into the night.
One flight of stairs later, Athena was dragging her feet again. Either she took no notice, or simply wasn't concerned enough to stop herself as she trudged down the hall to her apartment's door. She faintly heard the standard buzz of speech and other indistinct sounds from the neighboring rooms. Those who knew her, and by extension, knew of her unusually heightened auditory senses, might have expected this to make living in a noisy environment difficult, but as far as she was concerned, it was a drastic improvement over the cacophony she had lived with during her education years.
She proceeded with the requisite search through her keyring for the grey oval-shaped key that unlocked her apartment's door, and let herself in as usual.
"As usual" seemed to be the phrase of the day. Athena had enjoyed an unremarkable day at work, - for a relative definition of "unremarkable", that is- with the only particular bump in the day's course being the lateness of her departure. Even so, it was this one simple element that led to her current state of exhaustion. She was glad to rid herself of the responsibilities of work for a while, and kicked her boots off of her feet, letting them thump down against her running shoes in the corner.
There remained only one work day left before the law office –or Anything Agency, as her friend, co-worker, and technically superior Trucy Wright preferred- would be closed for the weekend. Athena's immediate plans included a day out with several of her friends, including Trucy herself, but really, given her tight-knit friendship with all other members of the office, her work regularly felt like recreation to begin with.
A warm shower left Athena no less sleepy, but considerably more comfortable. Her suit was laid out for the following day, and she retired to her bedroom dressed in the most comfortable set of pajamas she could find on short notice.
Not about to waste any further time, she plugged Widget, her necklace slash A.I. computer into "his" recharge cord and set him on her dresser before flopping gracelessly onto her mattress. She momentarily worried that she might wake up the next morning with an incurable case of bedhead, but before she could give the prospect any real thought, she was already asleep.
Somewhere amidst its blissful blur of half-formed thoughts, Athena's brain properly registered that she had woken up. Her alarm hadn't gone off yet, and she contentedly rolled to her other side. This, unfortunately, brought a piercing ray of sunlight that was filtering into her window directly onto her face. She flinched, tightly closing her eyes.
After a moment's pause, the abnormality of this dawned on her. If it wasn't time to wake up yet, how could the sun have already risen so far? She frowned, flipping back to check Widget's time display.
She thought for a moment that her heart had stopped.
Not one second later, she was hurtling out of her bed. She might have managed this fluidly, had she not drastically misjudged the trajectory of her entire lower half.
She would have to worry about her bruised hip later, she decided, as she scrambled up from her new position on the floor and onto her feet.
Something had gone wrong with Widget's morning alarm, which now left Athena nearly fifty minutes late to start her morning routine. Short of skipping her half-mile jog, her shower, and her breakfast, she was unavoidably going to be arriving at work late.
If nothing else, at least they weren't currently on a case.
She felt as if she was living the opening to an uninspired sitcom as she rushed down the stairs outside of her apartment with a bottle of orange juice in one hand and a slice of toast held between her teeth. Her long hair, which she hadn't been able to find the time to tie into its usual side-oriented ponytail, was hastily shoved underneath a backpack that contained her elaborate work outfit. She would have to change clothes from the ill-matched t-shirt and track shorts she currently wore once she arrived at work.
Merging her routine jog with her trip to work was a passable compromise. Time was now beyond the point that she would label as "of the essence".
Stopping for the flow of traffic a few blocks away from her apartment complex, she slumped against a bus shelter's wall. She hadn't properly prepared for this run before leaving home, and as expected, her stamina was suffering for it.
She reached for her neck and held Widget up to eye-level. Something was wrong with his display. The digital clock display now told her she was already thirteen minutes later for work. Keeping it below twenty had been her goal, but it was now starting to look impossible.
Between heavy breaths, she muttered, "A girl loves a challenge."
Just short of eighteen minutes late, Athena stopped at the office's front door. She straightened up to the best of her ability, setting a hand to her chest to check for any cramps. She'd certainly been through more intense exercise routines than this in the past, and nothing seemed amiss this time.
So, pulling open the familiar front door, she stepped hastily into the building, her shoulders still heaving with her deep but steady breaths.
She let out a small yelp as a twinge of dizziness unexpectedly jolted through her head. Her vision clouded over a second later, and she stumbled in place.
The next thing Athena knew, she was hunched on the floor, her knees shaking. Her close-up view of the entryway's carpet told her that her vision was returning to normal. She vaguely heard Widget chirp something indistinct, but couldn't take in the sound properly. The last of her dizziness finally dissipated after a few more seconds. Gingerly, she stood back up.
She blinked, staring around the entryway. Something about the small room seemed different, somehow. If anything had changed since the day before, it was subtle. She shook the thought off, remembering that she was already late. As she turned the corner toward the hall, she tapped Widget's screen to bring up the display. She sighed with relief, seeing that barely a minute had passed. She wasn't sure what to think of the sudden onset of dizziness that had struck her as she entered the building, and was glad to see that she hadn't passed out for any length of time.
"… What?" Athena muttered. She had tried to open the office's main door, only to find it locked. She couldn't remember even a single time Mr. Wright had locked the door during work hours. Someone was always around to keep an eye on the office. Confused, she knocked on the door.
A few moments of silence and she knocked once more.
"Mr. Wright?" she called out. No voice answered, and she didn't hear any footsteps.
She turned, looking back down the hall. There was nothing to suggest that anyone had left the building in a hurry. Though, as a matter of fact, upon closer inspection, there was nothing to suggest that anyone had arrived.
"… I am gonna feel stupid if we're closed today…" she grumbled, making to remove her backpack and retrieve her cell phone.
A few seconds were spent digging through the backpack's smallest pocket, which contained several smaller items alongside her phone. When she located and took hold of her phone, she accidentally knocked her attorney's badge out of the pocket and onto the floor. She was just stooping down to retrieve it when she spotted something in her peripheral vision. Glancing over, she looked at the patch of wall next to the door. This spot, as she recalled, was somewhat battered-looking, on account of having at least four different plaques placed on it over time.
Or, at least, it should have been.
An unusually shiny plaque adorned the space, which looked to be in much better shape than Athena was used to. Perhaps more interesting, however, was the plaque itself. Where it should have read "Wright Anything Agency" over an embossed list of employee names, including her own, it instead read "Fey Law Offices". Beneath the engraving was one lone name: Mia Fey.
Athena, staring at the plaque in abject confusion, jumped nearly a foot off the ground and whirled around as a voice sprung up from halfway down the hall.
"Excuse me, Miss?"
The speaker was a calmingly familiar sight. Athena relaxed at the sight of her boss, Phoenix Wright, who was standing a short ways down the hall. She opened her mouth to greet him, but felt her breath catch in her throat.
The man standing before her was Phoenix Wright, she was certain. However, there was something inarguably different about him.
To begin with, his face was markedly softer and paler than normal, with a more unassuming look in place of the sort-of fatherly expression he normally wore. Beyond that, he was wearing a completely different outfit than was his standard for work; in place of his usual blue-dominated three-piece suit, he was now sporting a well-worn Ivy University sweater and moderately battered jeans.
These changes together had the disarming effect of making him look at least ten years younger.
"Um… Hi." he said hesitantly. Athena snapped back to her senses, realizing that she had been staring at him for much longer than intended.
"Were you looking for Miss Fey, too?" he asked when Athena still said nothing.
Athena, finally finding it in herself to answer, but still reeling with confusion, offered only an inarticulate guttural noise.
There was a terminally awkward silence.
Nervously scratching the back of his head, the younger Mr. Wright spoke once more. "I-I'm Phoenix Wright."
Athena swallowed a generously sized lump in her throat. The man in front of her was Mr. Wright, but at the same time, he wasn't. He didn't seem to recognize her, which was only yet another concern to add to her growing supply.
Another voice suddenly spoke up from around the hall's corner.
"Mr. Wright?" it asked.
Athena froze as the speaker rounded the corner.
Approaching them from the entryway was a dark-haired woman Athena only recognized from a picture that she was used to seeing on Mr. Wright's desk.
"Hello, Ms. Fey!" Mr. Wright said, having turned to face the newcomer as well.
Athena was beginning to feel faint again. She took half a step back, staring disbelievingly at the scene before her. She could imagine possible explanations for Mr. Wright's change in appearance, but his former employer, Mia Fey, was dead, Athena knew for certain, yet the two of them were now greeting each other as if nothing unusual was going on. Athena was only vaguely aware of the content of the conversation the two of them were now striking up. It wasn't until Ms. Fey addressed her directly that she found her voice.
"W-What…?" she stammered.
Ms. Fey raised an eyebrow, but said, "I asked for your name."
Almost without thinking, Athena answered, "A-… Andrea."
She barely registered the response before it was already out of her mouth. "Andrea Simons." she finished, wondering a moment later what had compelled her to lie. It was practically involuntary, like a strange sort of instinct.
Ms. Fey nodded. "I see. Were you here for the same reason Phoenix was? I see you're already certified."
Athena followed the older woman's gaze to her own hand, where she was still holding her attorney's badge. "… That's right." she replied.
"Alright." Ms. Fey went on with a smile, stepping over to the office's door to unlock it. "Come on in, then."
Athena followed slowly behind Mr. Wright, with Ms. Fey in the lead. If she hadn't known it was the same building, she wouldn't have recognized the office. Its interior looked radically different, with only a few pieces of familiar furniture in sight, though in entirely different places than usual.
"I'll just need a minute. Be right back." Ms. Fey said to them before disappearing into the smaller room opposite the door.
Scanning the room desperately, Athena spotted a calendar on the wall. In what was now becoming somewhat routine, she froze at the sight of it.
"Madre de Dios…" she breathed. She didn't have the slightest idea how it could have happened, but it was now looking like the only possibility: she had gone back in time.
It's time for an experiment. Of the 'do I have a work ethic to speak of after all' variety. This'll be a fairly short story to try and get me back into a proper writing mood and allow me to keep up my interest in my other fic. It's largely based on an unfilled prompt of mine.