Phoenix Wright absent-mindedly walked down the forest path. The sun hung high in the sky. The further he walked away from Kurain Village, the thicker the trees became and the less light made it through the canopy. The sounds of birds and the other woodland life was very different than the hustle and bustle of the city only a few hours away. He liked it here. The peace and quiet was a nice change of pace. The sound of a nearby creek trickling reminded him of why he was trekking through the wilderness.
Phoenix had known Maya Fey for over a decade. He thought back to the moment he had met her. She had lain sobbing over the body of her sister Mia. Mia had been his mentor, close friend, and head of the Fey & Co. Law offices. And in an instant, she was gone, murdered by a blackmailer she'd been investigating. The police had arrested Maya and charged her with the first-degree murder. With no one else willing to defend her, Phoenix took the job, and somehow managed to prove her innocence in court.
After that, Maya took on the role of his assistant and the two of them became close friends. Maya revealed herself to be a spirit medium, and the heir to the title of "Master of the Kurain Channeling Technique". It was a position that came with a lot of baggage. Multiple attempts had been made on her life, but Phoenix had kept her safe. After many years of hard training, she became the master after her mother's untimely murder.
Maya Fey knelt on a boulder underneath an icy waterfall, water beating down on her head and shoulders. She was no stranger to this kind of ascetic training. It helped keep her spiritual powers strong, and her mind clear. She was looking forward to Phoenix's visit to Kurain Village that evening, but did her best to concentrate on her meditation. She still had several hours ahead of her.
Phoenix grumbled as he stumbled over a tree root that had encroached onto the path. He had been surprised to hear from Maya's younger cousin Pearl that Maya was expecting him to meet her at the "Master's Shrine". He didn't hesitate as he set off in the direction that Pearl had pointed. She had looked so happy when he'd agreed to make the hike. "It's only a few miles, Mr. Nick", she had said. It had felt like more than a few.
Of course, Maya was not expecting a visitor at the shrine. The plan had been to meet for dinner, at Fey Manor. Pearl felt rather pleased with her well-intentioned deception. Mystic Maya had not spent any alone time with her special someone, and this was a perfect opportunity to arrange some. Pearl smiled to herself when she pictured their joyous reunion, and began to work on making dinner.
The sound of water grew in intensity as Phoenix neared the entrance to the grotto. He marveled at the iridescent moss that seemed to cover every surface. The color reminded him of the magatama he kept in his suit jacket. It had been a gift from Maya many years ago. It's spiritual power had helped him solve many cases. It was his second-most precious keepsake. In the same pocket, a tarnished locket contained a picture of his adopted daughter, Trucy. He smiled as he thought of her. He wondered if she'd met up with Apollo in Khura'in yet. He had know way of knowing, since Kurain Village had no cell reception.
Phoenix ducked into the cave entrance, and carefully made his way through the damp tunnel. The wet rock was slippery, and little sunlight shone into the passageway. He rounded a corner and reached the main room of the cave. He gasped at the sight before him. The waterfall before him was massive. He guessed that it was at least 40 feet tall. Maya had been doing waterfall meditation for years, but he had always imagined something a little… violent? The icy spray made him shiver from across the room. He could barely hear himself think over the crashing water. He could only imagine how cold it was directly underneath, where Maya knelt in meditation, motionless. He marvelled at the physical and mental fortitude it must take to meditate in those conditions for hours at a time. Phoenix was hesitant to interrupt her, so he did not call out to her.
Maya was in a deep state of concentration. Her spiritual energy was flowing just as strongly as the surrounding waters. She could feel the presence of the countless souls that swirled just on the other side of this reality. She knew that if she focused on the face and name of any one of them, she could channel their spirit. She had worked hard to master the technique, and could now channel any spirit, without fail. This was the power that made Kurain Village famous.
Maya often lost track of time when meditating. Keeping her mind clear and her breathing even took immense concentration. Her thoughts began to wander back to the mortal world. She smiled, looking forward to her evening plans. She felt like she could feel his presence already. She pushed the thought from her mind and tried to resume her concentration. The feeling didn't go away though. With a pang of frustration, she opened her eyes. Through the raging water, she could make out a blue smudge. "Nick?" she cried, immediately regretting it as water filled her mouth. She made to stand up, but after several hours of meditation, her legs were uncooperative, and she toppled off of her perch and splashed into the icy pool.
"Maya!", Phoenix shouted as the sudden movement startled him out of his reverie. Panicked, he ran to the edge of the pool and prepared to dive in. He could barely see anything in the pool, there was so much agitation in the surface from the waterfall. He had already removed his jacket and hurled it to the side when Maya began hauling herself out of the water a few feet away. He felt a little bit silly when he realized the pool was only a few feet deep. She hadn't been in any danger. He knelt down, offering his arm as a handhold. She clawed her way out of the water, almost pulling him.
"Nick?! What are you doing here?" Without giving him a chance to respond, she latched onto him and pulled him into a bear hug. "It's so good to see you!" After a few moments of struggle, he managed to free an arm with which to return the embrace.
"It's good to see you too, Maya", he said, as her damp embrace began to soak into his waistcoat. He didn't really mind though. While she had been a gangly teenager when they first met, she had grown into a full-figured woman. The white meditation robes she wore clung to her wet body, leaving little to the imagination. As she pressed against him, he was made keenly aware of this fact and reddened slightly.
Again, she asked, "What are you doing here? I thought we were meeting for dinner, at the Manor!"
"I thought so too", Phoenix replied, "but Pearl said that you were expecting me… here..." He trailed off as he realized Pearl's deception. In hindsight, it was obvious that she hadn't expected him to trudge through the woods to meet her in a cave. "Ah hah ha..", he laughed, a little embarrassed at his gullibility. Maya tried to puff out her cheeks in frustration, but couldn't bring herself to actually be upset with her cousin. She was not upset to see Phoenix. She began to laugh too. Realizing that their hug had gone on for quite a while, she let go.
"Oh, sorry about the shirt, Nick." Maya said, eyeing the spirit-medium shaped wet patch on his waistcoat.
"It's fine, don't worry about it."
Noticing his jacket on the mossy, she cast him a sidelong glance.
"Were you… planning on going for a swim? Nice day for it." she teased.
Phoenix unconsciously ran his fingers through his spiky hair. He couldn't really deny that he had been planning on coming to her rescue, and they both knew it.
"Ha ha. You looked like you were having fun", he shot back.
"Hey, my legs fell asleep! I'm normally very graceful during a meditation session."
He smiled as they bantered. A lot of things had changed over the years, but he was thankful that some things hadn't. She was just as feisty as she'd always been. But some thing had changed. He couldn't help but admire her as she stood in front of him, completely soaked. Realizing the revealing nature of her current attire, she spun around. She didn't mind the attention, not if it was from Phoenix. She was still embarrassed though.
"I'm going to change out of these. Would you mind?"
"Right! Of course." Phoenix said as he turned his back and slowly walked back toward the exit.
Maya crossed to the corner where her dry robes awaited her. She glanced behind her before untying her sash and dropping her soaking robes to the floor. She grabbed the towel she had brought with her and began to dry off. After putting on her undergarments, she began to put on her robes.
"What is this place?", Phoenix asked. He hadn't noticed much about the cave when he entered. He now noted several openings far above where sunlight streamed through. Moss and ivy covered most of the walls. Several impressive stalactites hung from the ceiling. An irrational fear gripped him when he realized a large stalactite hung directly over where Maya was changing. His paranoid gaze followed the stalactite down to where she was standing. Blushing furiously, he quickly turned back around, but not before catching a glimpse of her exposed backside.
"It's called the Master's Shrine. Every master since Ami Fey has come here to meditate. It's beautiful, isn't it?"
"Um, yeah. I had no idea places like this existed."
"I get to come here all the time, now that I'm the great and powerful Master!"
"I can't believe the size of that waterfall! How can you sit under something like that for hours on end?"
"I dunno, practice, I guess? I've been meditating since I was a little girl."
"I am pretty great", she said, embarrassed at the compliment, but was pleased nevertheless.
She tied the sash of her master's robes and collected her wet robes and towel. Her master's robes looked very similar to her old acolyte's robes, but they were made of much softer material. They were extremely comfortable. They made Maya feel more confident, even though few people could tell them apart from her regular robes.
"Ok, Nick, let's go!" she said as she walked up behind Phoenix who was busy inspecting the wall. She noticed his ears were a bit pink.
"Yep, are we heading back to the village?"
"Actually, there's somewhere I'd like to go before that. Are you up for a little more hiking?"
Phoenix was worn out from the trip here, but he couldn't really refuse Maya anything, and she knew it.
"Sure, where to?"
"You'll see when we get there."
He didn't have the energy to try and extract the information from her, so he resigned himself to his fate.
Phoenix followed Maya out of the grotto. As they emerged, he realized something was different about her.
"No hair beads?" he asked. Her jet black hair was unadorned and flowed freely down her back, reaching past her waist.
"I don't usually wear them when I'm training. Besides, I wasn't really expecting company."
"You can thank Pearl when we get back."
They reached the path, which was wide enough for them to walk side-by-side now. They did so.
"I can't believe you were going to jump in there with your suit on. You're such a worry-wart, Nick." Maya said, keen on teasing him for it as much as she could.
"Heh… I kind of can't help myself sometimes." he replied, rubbing the back of his head and chuckling.
"You did come running to Khura'in after I called you."
"To be fair, that phone call ended with you screaming bloody murder. What was I supposed to think?"
"Haha, true. Well, I was calling to invite you out for a visit anyway. So if you think about it that way, everything worked out perfectly!"
Maya beamed at him, and he laughed. Even after all this time, she was the same optimist she'd always been. Her unique form of logic hadn't changed either. Only she could consider being framed for murder and being held hostage as "working out perfectly".
"And don't forget about the time you tried to run across that burning bridge at Hazakura. You didn't even know I was in trouble then, did you?" Maya said.
"No, I knew something was wrong. I knew I had to find you, and I was right. I don't regret it though, I'd do it again. I know you'd have done the same for me."
She'd never thought about it like that before, but he was probably right. He had gone charging across a burning bridge on a gut feeling that something was wrong. He had fallen 40 feet into a raging river and been carried away downstream. It was a miracle that he hadn't been dashed against the rocks below, or drowned. Most of the time the bodies of people that fell into that river were never even recovered. Phoenix had somehow survived with only a cold to show for it. She had to admit she probably would have done the same thing if their situations had been reversed.
Phoenix was the most loyal person she's ever met. She knew that he'd do anything to protect her. She knew that he loved her. He had never said as much, but it didn't take an ace attorney to figure it out. She loved him too. She slipped her arm around his waist. He put an arm around her shoulder as they continued walking. They walked in happy silence for a while.
"Where's Trucy?" Maya asked, after a while. "I was hoping to see her."
"She's in Khura'in, visiting Apollo."
"I still can't believe he stayed behind to open a law firm there."
"I always knew he'd outgrow the Agency someday. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon."
"I heard he proved Trucy innocent of those murder charges while you were away?"
"Yeah, I was worried, but I knew he would protect her. He even shot down the prosecution's plea bargain too. Don't tell him I said so, but I think he's definitely the better attorney at this point."
"Well, he is her older brother, after all. Have you told them yet?"
Phoenix smirked. "In a manner of speaking", he said cryptically.
Maya detached herself from him and stopped in her tracks. "Tell me!" she shouted, with a mix of petulance and eagerness on her face. Phoenix couldn't keep a secret to save his life. How many times had Maya stopped him from presenting dangerous evidence at the wrong time?
"I gave Trucy an envelope with all the details. There's a letter from their mother in there, and one from me. I told Apollo to expect an unopened envelope from her, and for them to open it together."
"Geez, that's so needlessly dramatic!" she pouted as they resumed walking.
"Haha, it's like something you would do, isn't it?"
Maya smiled. He wasn't wrong.
"I thought I'd show Trucy that her old man has a few tricks up his sleeve too.", Phoenix continued.
"I can just picture the look on their faces." Maya laughed as she imagined it. "Making a new family member appear is a pretty good trick."
They continued walking for another half hour or so.
"It's nice to catch up like this, Nick", Maya said. "I feel like it's been forever since the two of us had a chance to talk."
"You mean without someone being kidnapped or murdered? Yeah, I guess you're right". Trouble seemed to find Maya wherever she went. Phoenix too, for that matter.
"Ah, we're here!" Maya exclaimed, as they crested a small hill.
Phoenix didn't have to ask where they were. Two small cairns were the only things on the hill. Maya had lost both her sister and mother within the span of a few years, and this must have been their graves.
"I wanted to come see them. I thought you might want to too…" Maya said.
"Yeah." It was the only thing Phoenix could really think to say. He had never visited Mia's grave before. It hadn't really occurred to him that she would have one, and that it would be out in the wilderness of Kurain, but it made sense.
"Pray with me?" Maya asked, as she knelt in front of the stones. Phoenix followed suit and knelt by her side. He wasn't much for prayer, but he could appreciate a moment or two silence.
It had been over ten years since he had walked into his office to find Mia dead. But due to some strange twist of fate, it hadn't been the end of their friendship. Both Maya and Pearl were spirit channelers. They had both channeled her spirit on many occasions. Mia had continued supporting him and helping him from beyond the grave. There was no escaping the Fey women, he thought, smiling.
He thought about Maya, and how she'd quickly become the most important person in his life. Her fierce determination and loyalty had led her to quit being his assistant and return to her training so that she could be more useful to him. It had hurt to see her go. After his disbarment, things had been even worse for them. Phoenix couldn't risk someone as dangerous as Kristoph finding out how important Maya was to him, so their contact had been limited to phone calls and the occasional letter. He had missed her so much. He was sure she had felt the same. He knew he had done the right thing, but it didn't make it hurt any less.
Despite the lack of contact, they had managed to keep their relationship alive. Maya had overcome her lack of confidence and claimed her birthright as Master. She had grown into a beautiful and confident woman. Phoenix hadn't originally loved her in the romantic sense, but he (and everyone else) had realized it eventually. He was secretly glad there were so few men in Kurain Village, so he didn't have to worry about her being pursued by other men. Phoenix was finally at a point in his life where a real relationship with Maya might actually be feasible. He resolved himself to bring it up on the way back.
"Ready to go, Nick?" Maya said. Phoenix's eyes snapped open. He hadn't realized how deep in thought he had been. The sun had crept much closer to the horizon.
"Yeah" he said, as he got to his feet.
"Good, I'm getting hungry!" Maya said, putting her arm around him again. They headed back towards the village together.
"Before we get back to the village, I have something important I want to ask you" Phoenix said as the village came into view. The sun was near setting, and illuminating the path with orange light. He stopped and sat down on a nearby log. Maya sat next to him.
"Yeah?" Maya asked. She had a feeling she knew where this was going, and her stomach seemed to flip over.
Phoenix fumbled over the words he'd been working up the courage to say. "I've never had someone like you in my life before. You make me happy. I have to know if... you feel the same way. I love you, Maya."
"I love you too, you idiot!"
Maya burst into tears and smashed her face into his shoulder. Waves of relief passed over him. He knew she loved him too, but he needed to hear it for himself. Phoenix pulled her into a hug.
"I don't want to see you a few times a year, Maya. I want to see you every day."
"I've been so lonely, Nick. I want you to be here with me!" She squeezed him tightly.
"I'm not going anywhere" he said.
"But what about the Agency? What about defending people? I can't ask you to give up on your dream for my sake."
"I've thought a lot about that. I think… I can have both. My dream is to make sure that no one goes undefended. But that doesn't mean I have to personally oversee every case. I might have to hire a few more lawyers, but I think we can grow the agency and make sure that happens. I can live here in Kurain with you and Pearl. Trucy is starting college soon, anyway."
"Really? Are you serious?"
"Yeah, I think so. I'm not that great of an attorney anyway. You know I'm always bluffing my way through most of my trials anyway. I think Athena has real potential, though, with some more experience. We'll find a way to make this work, I promise."
Maya could not believe how happy his words made her. She had been convinced for the longest time that a relationship was impossible. She had a duty to remain in Kurain, and he had a duty to be an attorney. But she believed that they could find a way to make it work. Hadn't they earned some peace and quiet together? The tears of happiness would not stop coming.
"Ha... Pearl is going to freak when we tell her, Nick."
"Somehow I think she already knows."
"Haha, I guess she's been right since the beginning. You really are my special someone."
Phoenix laughed at Maya's words. Pearl's sheltered fantasy of Mystic Maya and Mr. Nick had been a favorite conversation topic of hers for years. But it wasn't a fantasy any longer.
Maya pulled her wet face away from Phoenix's chest. She looked up into his smiling face. No more words were necessary. His lips found hers, and they knew that everything was going to be fine.