A/N: This is my first crack at a fanfic in a while and my first one for this fandom. In case you couldn't tell by the dates, this takes place just under a month after the end of SoJ. I could not have done it without the help of kichu200211, my beta and fellow brainstormer and various other people who have given me encouragement and ideas. Hope y'all enjoy! Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and the characters within are property of Capcom, but this story is of my own creation.
June 15, 2028, 1:17 pm
Khura'in International Airport
It had been a very long flight for Pearl Fey, the eighteen-year-old spirit medium who had never been as far from home as this. She had hardly any sleep thanks to her nerves, a baby that seemed to never stop crying and a series of romantic comedies on her touch screen television. Now here she was, getting ready to face Ami-knows-what in a foreign country for spiritual training. Leaving the States had been quite a challenge for her — leaving her family, her home, and her life in order to ensure the continued success of her village.
Pearl didn't exactly have to do it at this stage in her life; Mystic Maya had made sure to emphasize that. As long as she remained Master for the village, Pearl's succession was at the very least a few decades away. However, with a free summer and a burning desire to follow in Mystic Maya's footsteps, Pearl decided to take on some of the spiritual training that she had done before becoming master.
She looked out the window, and saw what was the Kingdom of Khura'in, with its mountains aplenty and people no too few. But even with its large population, she couldn't help but feel alone. Even though this unknown land had some ancient connections to Kurain Village through Mystic Ami, it still felt no less alien to Pearl, who only knew life in the village and Los Angeles whenever she'd visit Trucy. On top of that, she had to come alone as Mystic Maya had Kurain to run and the entire Wright Anything Agency all had their own work to do.
Even with her short stature, she was able to grab her small purse from the overhead luggage compartment without any help. Walking into the line, she took out her phone, attempting to call Mystic Maya and tell her that she had landed. But, as usual, whenever anyone needed signal in a place like this, the company wouldn't give you any. She rolled her eyes and placed it back into her purse, directing herself to the baggage claim.
The petite spirit medium stood out in her pink and purple kimono compared to the traditional Khura'inese clothing, casual tourist garb, or business clothes others in the crowd wore. With her luggage in tow — after having retrieved it at the baggage claim — she shuffled about aimlessly near the exit, vainly trying to get her phone the signal it needed.
However, luckily for her, she didn't have to wait too long. The red-suited lawyer spotted her by her pretzel-shaped hair loops and waved to her, shouting over the clamor, "Pearl! Over here!"
Pearl jumped at the loud voice but nevertheless strode over to Apollo, sighing slightly in relief at the friendly face among a sea of unfamiliar sights, smells, and sounds in this land. Giving him a large smile and a small bow, she said, "Apollo! Thank goodness I found you."
"It's a pleasure to see you again, Pearl." He offered the exhausted medium a welcoming smile. "How're you doing?"
Looking away from him, Pearl sheepishly replied, "W-Well...it is my first time being this far from home. To be honest, I'm a bit frightened."
Apollo gave an understanding nod and chuckled lightly; she reasoned that it must have been a very familiar feeling to him, albeit under completely different circumstances. "I feel you there. Even though I used to live here, I still get homesick for Los Angeles. It's kinda nice to have someone who reminds me of home."
Pearl smiled at his comment and nodded, saying, "Likewise. I hope it wasn't too much trouble picking me up. I know you're super busy with casework."
"It's no problem at all." The red-suited lawyer let out a deep sigh. "Although, I do wish it wasn't just me and Nahyuta reforming Khura'in right now. I'm up to my eyeballs in cases and repeals to sift through." He paused for a moment, before adding, "But enough about my work, let's get you settled in and ready for your training. I'll take your bag, if you need."
While greeting Apollo, she had momentarily forgotten the reason for coming to Khura'in: spiritual training. Just as Mystic Maya had gone through a thorough regimen of spiritual training, Pearl felt compelled to follow in her footsteps; she had big shoes to fill being the heir apparent to the master of Kurain after all.
The pair walked out of the airport and followed the signs towards the parking garage before getting to the space that Apollo had parked in. Apollo loaded Pearl's suitcases in the trunk, got up to the driver's seat, and started up the rose-red car.
As they were backing out of the lot and getting onto the main highway, Pearl could finally appreciate the sights of Khura'in from the ground level. Her home had its fair share of mountains, but nothing could prepare her for the vastness of the mountains that Khura'in had. The spirit medium was a bit intimidated at the seeming immensity of the scenery — it represented for her the strenuous tasks that lie ahead.
Noticing Pearl's enraptured gaze of her surroundings, Apollo smiled softly as he commented, "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
Pearl simply nodded in reply, her mouth slightly agape.
"I'm glad you like it."
Their drive continued uneventfully along the main highway and towards the city center where Apollo's law offices and apartment were. The roads got progressively narrower, choked with pedestrians, rickshaws, and bicycles rather than cars. Apollo had to maintain a higher level of alertness compared to his highway driving, being ready to stop and swerve at a moment's notice.
Pearl had been shaken out of her peaceful sightseeing by the more jerky movements of the car. After a close call with a rickshaw coming around the corner — to which Pearl squeaked in surprise and instinctively gripped her seat, almost as if it would help her steady herself — they finally arrived at Justice Law Offices.
June 15, 2028, 3:23 pm
Justice Law Offices-Apollo's Apartment
Order and chaos. These two things were the first thing that came to Pearl's mind when thinking of the state of Apollo's apartment. A mess of case files strewn around the table and a chair, an immaculate and neat bedroom with minimalist decoration, a pile of unwashed dishes sitting in the sink. Same old Apollo. She shook her head with a wry smile.
Apollo sighed, noticing Pearl's line of sight focused on the messy files and kitchen. "I know, it's kind of a pigsty right now."
She raised an eyebrow in response. "Only right now?"
"Yeah yeah, I get it," he said dismissively, waving it away.
She laughed, an airy and sophisticated sound. "I'll let you off the hook this time. I know you have a lot going on right now."
It was pretty hard to remain irritated at Pearl for any extended period of time, so his slight irritation at her getting on his case was quickly dropped. "Anyways, now that we got your things all settled here, I guess you're all good to go in a few days for your spiritual training."
"Mhmm!" Pearl brought her hands together, smiling widely. "Thank you for everything, Apollo. I don't want to let Mystic Maya down. I have to succeed," she cried, rolling up her sleeves with a determined gleam visible in her eye.
Apollo couldn't help but chuckle at Pearl's enthusiasm, a trait she no doubt picked up from another certain spirit medium in her family. "You're very welcome, Pearl. I'd say good luck, but I don't think you need it."
Everyone — Apollo, Mr. Nick, Mystic Maya, Trucy, and even Athena — believed that she could do it. Letting them down was the worst thing she could possibly imagine. She just had to believe that she could do it.
But...what if she couldn't?
What if Mother and Mystic Maya had been wrong about how good her powers were? What if she wasn't the prodigy everyone said she was?
No, she couldn't be thinking like that. Mystic Maya needed her as heir to the position of Master. Her entire village needed her. Pearl shook those unwanted thoughts out of her head as she put her focus back on Apollo.
She must have spaced out for quite a while when those thoughts entered her mind, as Apollo gave her a concerned look and cocked his head, asking, "Are you okay, Pearl?"
Pearl put her thumb up to her mouth absentmindedly, her eyes darting around the room. "Y-yes. Just a bit tired. Jet lag, you know."
Given the previous apprehension she expressed at the airport and her nervous behavior when speaking about succeeding in her spiritual training, Apollo could put two and two together pretty easily. "Pearl, I know it's more than that. You're anxious about your training, aren't you?"
"W-what makes you say that? I'm n-not nervous about it. Why would I be?" Pearl did a bit more to maintain some more of her composure, keeping her eyes focused on Apollo, but her stutter gave away her actual feelings.
"I don't even need my bracelet to tell that you're nervous. It's very clear that this training means a lot to you, and you feel like you don't want to screw it up, right?"
Pearl looked down with a deep sigh. "Yes." She chuckled dryly. "I guess it's pointless to try and hide stuff from you, huh?"
Apollo nodded — most likely, Pearl thought, because he had experience getting confessions out of tough witnesses. Smirking, he said, "Heh, I'd say it's a bit pointless, yeah. Although trust me, you're nowhere near as hard as some of the people I've had to crack."
Apollo pressed a finger to his head, something Pearl knew he always did when he was deep in thought. "I can't pretend to completely understand everything that's on your plate when it comes to this training and whatnot, but I can say that I do understand where you're coming from with living up to high expectations."
"You do?" she said, not looking up. She was still rife with disbelief. How would he know anything about what she felt? He wasn't a spirit medium who was heir to the Mastership of an entire village looking up to you. He wasn't even a medium. Apollo Justice was just...Apollo Justice. Not that there was anything wrong with that, of course.
Apollo brought both his arms to his side, his hands curled into tight firsts, just a small display of his conviction to his cause. He wore an intense, fiery glare — the very same as when he accused Athena of murder almost two years ago. "Of course. Our clients put trust in us and we have to stick with them to the bitter end. That's no small thing to do, much like what you're doing here in Khura'in."
Pearl noticed that Apollo's expression cooled and his body relaxed. He placed a hand on her shoulder and gave her a friendly smile. "But you know what? I know you can do it. It may not seem like it now, but you will persevere just like you always have."
Pearl smiled brightly for the first time in days; she had been so stupid. She should have known better than to expect Apollo to just blow off her worries. As much as Apollo could be prickly and uptight when it came to the shenanigans he had to put up with, both in court and in his personal life, he was a great guy who had proven himself to be an extremely dependable and caring friend in Pearl's eyes.
After a minute or so, she saw Apollo snapping a finger in her face to grab her attention. It seemed as though she'd been out of it for a bit. "Earth to Pearl. Are you still with me?"
Pearl flinched, interrupted before she could finish that train of thought. She had to say something...quickly! She managed to put on an awkward, guilty smile before pointing out, "U-umm, y-you got something on your face. I didn't want to be rude and interrupt you, though..."
She pointed to the spot on her own nose where Apollo had a speck of dirt and he promptly brushed it off. "Thanks."
Clearing his throat, Apollo continued where he left off. "So yeah, I've been in that place that you're in right now. And you know what helps me release some of that stress?"
Pearl started grinning, knowing exactly where he was going with this. "Chords of Steel?"
He nodded with a small smile. "Chords of Steel."
As the office was in a pretty noisy part of the city, not too much attention was paid to the spirit medium and lawyer chanting "I'm fine" and other parts of Apollo's Chords of Steel exercises. Within a few minutes, Pearl began to feel relieved, her mind loosening its grip on her training. It was cathartic for her, and for the rest of the day, Pearl felt more at peace, as if recognizing that while some things change, others stay the same.