They'd finally reached it.
Any time in which Phoenix felt he could rest easy, satisfied with the end result of a case was a good time so far as he was concerned. It had taken quite the effort to get here this time, no different than all the others.
As seemed to be the standard for his work, the road to this victory was filled with just about every kind of obstacle imaginable.
But then, after facing down corrupt police, mobsters, vindictive veteran prosecutors, hired assassins, and international spies, this might have seemed like a walk in the park. Might, had it not been for the cruel hand of fate intervening with its usual intention of taking an immeasurable toll on him, right down to the emotional level.
The worst of it had no doubt been what happened back home in L.A.
Phoenix's business in Kurain was important, sure, but if he'd had even the slightest idea of what was going on at home, he'd have dropped everything in an instant.
But he hadn't known. He'd learned only at the last minute, when it was too late, and he'd been forced to carry on out there, knowing that he was unable to return home and defend his own daughter. The unfathomable feelings of self-loathing and guilt he'd felt as a result would likely have been more than he could handle, had it not been for Maya.
The beautiful young woman was sitting before him at this very moment, her face filled with laughter.
She'd been the one to keep him grounded, helping him to make it through the most harrowing of all the events to transpire since his arrival in Kurain. Phoenix was convinced that there could exist no possible friend better than Maya Fey.
It had taken Maya an extra day to arrange to travel to L.A. with them. Things were no less busy for her at home than ever before. She'd arrived with Pearl just an hour ago, and the two had quickly settled back in comfortably at the Wright Anything Agency, enjoying the company of the people there.
"So," Phoenix was saying, nearing the end of a closing discussion of the past busy month. "That was it, wasn't it? All of this; it was the reason why you asked me to come to Kurain, right?"
Maya smiled, but the look in her eyes - and Phoenix knew that look well - suggested a different feeling. "Maybe I didn't expect quite so much to come out of it, Nick, but yes. I knew I could trust you. I'm just so sorry for what I made you miss."
"No." Phoenix said, returning her smile. "Don't think about that. Trucy's safe, just like the rest of us. And it's Apollo and Athena that we have to thank for making sure of that."
His two employees were seated on the couch adjacent, and both began to mutter comments of general modesty.
"Maya reminded me that I could put my faith in you two." Phoenix went on, turning toward them. "And she was right. You came through, just like I should've known you would. Trucy's safe thanks to you."
Trucy, standing behind the couch and leaning over its back rest, threw her arms around Apollo and Athena, pulling the pair of them in for a hug.
"Nick?" Maya interjected. Phoenix turned back to her. "I… I don't know if you can tell, - and I'd bet you can, - but there's something else. There's another reason I asked you to come out to Kurain."
Phoenix raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "Really," he replied with a smirk, knowing his suspicion had indeed been correct. "Do tell."
Maya took in a breath, adjusting the wraps over her hands a bit. "You don't need to brag, Nick. But anyway, I'm talking about something I've been getting nagged badly about for a long time."
All ears were tuned to Maya's words. Trucy cast a glance at her best friend Pearl, who was seated on a footrest next to Maya's chair. The girl looked positively gleeful at whatever Maya was about to say.
"Nick, I'm twenty-eight now. I've been the Master of Kurain for nine years, and for about the past five, I've been hearing the same thing from everyone else in the council. Every time we meet for any discussion, they're always pushing it in somewhere."
Pearl was only getting more eager about this.
Maya went on. "It's the same every time. The council members yammer on about it the same way, too. 'Master Maya needs to give consideration to the future of the Fey bloodline', blah blah blah… It's really just their polite way of telling me to hurry up. Bottom line is, I'm the last of the main family, and aside from managing Kurain itself, I need to make a very important decision for the family line."
Phoenix was staring into Maya's eyes so intently she could barely stand it. Yet he didn't say anything, just leaving the air open for her to continue.
Maya sighed with a hint of impatience of her own. "Nick, d'you get where I'm going with this?"
Trucy was starting to wonder how Pearl could possibly contain the amount of excitement she looked to be bottling up, but as she listened to Maya's words, she was also starting to suspect that she might know what Maya was talking about.
"Nick, I'm…" Maya halted the sentence after the first two words, taking a moment to steel herself for it. "I'm not doing a very good job of it, maybe, but... I'm trying to ask you to marry me."
One might expect stunned silence after such a statement, but the room was filled with anything but. Pearl, who'd been looking fit to burst, had released her pent-up excitement in a shrill squeal of joy, which Trucy joined in with just as eagerly. Athena, too, matched the enthusiasm of her two friends.
Apollo, as might've been expected, had the more subdued reaction. He grinned widely, but managed to avoid going into quite the ecstatic outbursts of his companions.
Maya was nearly in physical pain, the feeling of finally getting the words out putting just as much of a drain on her as the anticipation of doing so had managed.
"I didn't want to have to make it so sudden - I don't have a ring or anything, but-!"
Whatever Maya had been planning to say to close off that sentence would remain unknown. In one smooth motion, Phoenix had risen from his chair and stepped forward to meet her, his hands taking a gentle grip on the edges of her face as he leaned in to place a kiss on her lips.
It took just a moment, but Maya returned the gesture with great enthusiasm. She threw her hands up to the back of Phoenix's head, burying her fingers in his hair and pulling him downward to meet her on the chair.
They remained that way for several long seconds, the elated squealing of the three other girls in the room becoming little more than a distant drone far away from their ears.
When their kiss finally ended, both parties pulling away for air, the world crashed back together around them.
Trucy and Pearl were practically screaming by now, having come together in an ecstatic hug, while Athena had chosen to take a steely grip on Apollo's arm, looking quite overcome on her own.
"Y'know something, Maya," Phoenix said over the volume of the two girls' voices, "I was actually wondering if that might be where you were going myself."
Instantly Maya's face went from a luminescent blush to a darker red - one which was reserved for very different feelings. "Nick," she replied in a low voice, "You jerrrrrk!"
On the last word, she dragged him back down to her level to give his most immediately available arm a series of half-hearted punches. "If you knew, then why'd you make me do it!?"
"Hey," Phoenix said, raising his other arm to defend himself. "I never said that I knew. Just ask Athena. You've heard about her special sense of hearing."
Maya turned her frustrated glare to Athena, who offered a smile. "I wish you could've heard yourself, Maya," Athena said, her own face lit with colour. "Whenever you and the boss talked about each other, it was like a chorus of voices that just wanted to shout how you two felt about each other until the whole world knew it."
Maya's expression struck a pout. "This isn't fair, Nick." she said. "Your kids can cheat."
Phoenix just laughed, settling himself on the armrest of Maya's chair. Even as she still pouted to herself, Maya leaned into him almost automatically.
"Maybe it's just a formality at this point," Phoenix said, prompting her to look up at him, where he met her eyes with a look that made her heart skip a beat on its own, "But I think I should still say it."
A strong hand found Maya's. "I love you." Phoenix said, sending the three girls across from them right back into their fits of euphoric squealing. "And, as for your question, the answer's 'yes'."
Maya gazed back into his eyes for a long moment, and once she spotted her chance, grabbed him by the neck, making him clumsily fall toward her lap as she crushed her lips to his once more.
In light of all the Maya-based excitement going around at the moment, I felt it necessary to get this little idea out. Let's face it: I'm no less a mound of shippy trash than anyone else.
This is basically my idea of an epilogue to Ace Attorney 6, based on what little we know of its story and setting so far.