Inconclusive Evidence


April 7, 1:19 AM
Fey Manor
Winding Way

It was night in the village of Kurain, but not all of its inhabitants were asleep. A small shape ghosted through the corridors of Fey Manor, briefly disrupting the quiet solitude where it passed.

It's been almost two months... Pearl Fey thought, carefully navigating through the darkened hallways. Mystic Maya and Mr. Nick don't seem to act any different around each other... Is it really possible that my great plan... failed...?

A sudden rustling of leaves reached her ears, causing the young spirit medium to tighten her grip around the flashlight she was carrying, relaxing only when she realized it had been the night breeze that had caused the noise. Pearl shivered, but bravely resisted the temptation to turn on the light source. She was already eleven years old and not afraid of the dark anymore! The flashlight was only there for emergencies and to help her in her search – after all, tonight, Pearl Fey was on a mission.

It had been more than a month ago that her cousin Mystic Maya and her soulmate Mr. Nick had moved into Fey Manor, making it their own. The Wright & Fey Law Offices were temporarily closed as Maya's attorney friend was taking time off to help her get settled into the business of being the Master of Kurain Village and the channeling school it was renowned for among the spiritualists of the world. Pearl had taken it as a sure sign that Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya were finally submitting to the will of the fates, professing their love for each other by moving in together and hopefully even getting married soon!

However, Pearl was now forced to reexamine that belief, as during the past month not only marriage proposals had been conspicuous by their absence, but the young spirit channeler hadn't even been able to observe the most basic of affectionate gestures between the couple. Even numerous small ploys and schemes to prompt such behavior had come up empty-handed. They seemed somewhat closer and more trusting of each other after the whole mess at Hazakura Temple, but their day-to-day interaction remained mostly unchanged.

After puzzling feverishly over this development – or lack thereof – for several nights in a row, Pearl had finally hit upon the answer to the mystery: Those two are obviously trying to keep their deeply romantic and passionate relationship secret from me! It was quite understandable; at her young age of eleven, she was not yet considered ready to know about all of the exciting aspects of adult relationships! Thus it was clear that Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya would only show their love to each other when she wasn't around!

Unfortunately, that theory left her without a way to prove it, and proof was always necessary; that much Pearl understood from having watched Mr. Nick in court. Luckily, Mr. Nick had also taught her how to obtain that badly needed evidence – by conducting a secret investigation!

And that was the reason why Pearl was still up at such a late hour. Just like the last two nights, she was prowling the manor, looking for evidence of a secret romance once everyone else was asleep. She wasn't quite sure what this evidence would look like, but she was sure she would recognize it when the time came. Maybe I'll even find a love letter from Mr. Nick to Mystic Maya! she thought with barely restrained excitement.

But it looked like tonight would be another failure. She had already searched all the obvious surfaces of the living areas and even looked in the trash, but no letters had turned up yet. The papers in the trash all had to do with the administration of Kurain Village, from what little she could decipher.

In a sudden burst of inspiration, an idea came to her: The incinerator in the garden! If I had forbidden love letters I didn't want anyone to find, I'd burn them there! The little girl was appalled at the thought of sacred messages containing thoughts of love being cruelly destroyed like that, but investigating with Mr. Nick had shown her that worse crimes had been committed in the name of keeping secrets.

Pearl checked the outside of the two lovers' rooms for clues once more, but after finding no crumpled notes slipped below the sliding panels and hearing no hushed whispers or even any other noise for that matter, she decided to give up for the night. If I don't get enough sleep my channelings will be useless again... the little girl thought, yawning.

On the first night she had lost track of time snooping around and had been listless with fatigue throughout the next day. This had resulted in Mia promptly nodding off on the desk when Pearl had summoned her to help Phoenix and Maya with the Master's duties and her channeling to unravel a few minutes later. The only bright spot for Pearl was that she had been far too tired to be questioned about the cause of her exhaustion and had been sent to bed immediately to recover. The next morning, the incident had already been mostly forgotten.

I'll just check the incinerator and then go straight to bed... Pearl thought numbly. If she was found out, then Maya and Mr. Nick would be even more careful to hide their relationship and she'd never see proof of it. Silently tiptoeing over the wooden boards of the Winding Way, she carefully stepped around the Sacred Urn which was back on its pedestal in all its pink-speckled glory. She stopped dead when she heard a creaking noise in her vicinity, cringing and thinking for a panic-ridden moment that someone had spotted her, but when no footsteps or other sounds approached her, she gradually relaxed.

Anxious to get this over with, she crept over to the incinerator. She opened the hatch and carefully moved the head of the flashlight inside before turning it on. Hmm... doesn't look like there's anything but ash in here... she sighed in disappointment, wrinkling her nose as she looked over the charred, crumbled remains of the last two days' trash. Certainly nothing like half-burnt letters.

Looking on the ground, she quickly found a piece of wood to poke around in the ashes for a bit, but whoever had disposed of this batch had been thorough enough not to leave any large unburnt pieces of anything. Closing the hatch and turning off the flashlight, Pearl was about to go back to her room when the same creaking noise she had heard earlier occurred again.

Suspicious, Pearl turned around. This time, it had clearly sounded like it was coming from the Spare Room! Listening closely in that direction, she soon heard the sound repeating itself, accompanied by a... moan?

Pearl's tiredness vanished in an instant as she realized what this meant. No wonder she could spend hours listening in front of Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya's rooms without hearing a human sound, when the two were having their secret rendezvous out here!

Suddenly very excited at confirming their relationship at last, she crept closer, all thoughts about going to bed forgotten. Pearl knew that no court in the whole world would recognize one vague little moan as proof of Mystic Maya's and Mr. Nick's love. She could already imagine what her testimony would sound like:

"I was out in the garden, looking for discarded love letters in the incinerator."

"Suddenly the floorboards squeaked and I heard the sound of a woman moaning."

"Anxious to catch up on my sleep, I returned to my room and went to bed."

No, that wouldn't do at all, Pearl decided. Mr. Nick wasn't even in that testimony; the mean whip-wielding prosecutor with the icy-blue hair would simply object and insist that Mystic Maya was having an illicit affair with another man! Any man that she could just pull out of thin air, and Pearl wouldn't be able to refute it! More solid evidence was required, that much was clear – she had to see it with her own eyes!

Carefully, she climbed back onto the wooden walkway and stalked towards the closed sliding screens, making sure to be silent now that she knew she wasn't alone. Being closer now, she could hear the romantic hushed whispers she had imagined, as well as the occasional moan and other noises she could not yet identify. With imperceptible slowness, she used her thumb to lever one of the screens aside a few centimeters so she could peek inside. Maybe she could see what a genuine expression of love looked like!

The room was poorly illuminated; a single burnt-out candle flickered in the side alcove, casting jagged, dancing shadows over the walls and ceiling and leaving much of the rear part of the room shrouded in darkness. Outside, it had been pitch-black, however, and Pearl eagerly took in the details.

The two moving dark silhouettes in the back of the room were the source of the noises Pearl had heard. The moans seemed to have quieted down, but occasionally the floor would creak under the weight of the shifting forms. The intimate whispers were still too far away for her to make sense of, but she listened until she was sure it was the voices of Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya she was hearing.

However, far more telling in Pearl's opinion were the clothes strewn haphazardly across the tatami mats in front of the entrance. The girl had no trouble identifying both Mr. Nick's typical blue suit which he still wore regularly despite not currently working as an attorney, and Mystic Maya's acolyte garb. With her ascension to the title of Master, Maya had changed her attire to reflect the change in standing, but she still liked to wear the old comfortable clothes when no one but Phoenix and Pearl were around to see her.

Take that, evil whipping girl! Pearl crowed gleefully in her mind. She had seen in movies that people in love often started to take off each other's clothes for some weird and unknown reason. Apparently Mystic Maya didn't understand it either, because when Pearl had asked her afterwards, her cousin had only blushed and stammered unintelligibly for several seconds. But in the end, Maya had forcefully assured her that it was something only people in love did, which meant she finally had the evidence she needed!

Or so she thought, until she recalled the cases she had witnessed so far. True, Pearl was convinced of the dark shapes' identities and the clothes would probably shut the blue lawyer girl up, but Pearl knew that Mr. Nick could do better. After all, as she had seen proven in court more than once, anyone could wear Mystic Maya's acolyte clothes, or even Mr. Nick's blue suit. If she understood it correctly, the scary man with the red skin and Mr. Nick's spiky hair had fooled an entire courtroom into thinking he was Mystic Maya's beloved!

Pearl shook her head. Clearly, she couldn't give up yet. She would make Mr. Nick proud and continue to gather proof until there was no possibility of doubt left!

Painstakingly slowly so as not to attract the attention of the couple in the back, Pearl worked one of the sliding doors open wide enough to slip through. Only when she had closed it again just as carefully did she turn around to investigate more closely.

As the two lovers continued to prove every so often, the floor creaked when too much weight was placed on it in the wrong spot. But Pearl had spent much of her childhood playing in this room and knew how to sneak across it without making a single noise. Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya were at the other end of the room, their shapes partly obscured by the wall segment that hid the cupboards with the bear statue on top from view, so she would have to circle counterclockwise around the room to get a good look at them while staying out of view.

Carefully stepping over the discarded clothes, Pearl began her hazardous journey. 'Never disturb the crime scene!' was the most important rule of investigation, which Mr. Nick had reminded her of many times and which they had cheerfully broken nearly as many times when gathering evidence, but almost never without good reason. And if love was a crime, then this was clearly a crime scene. Pearl remembered she had heard a song once that went something like that and giggled, hurriedly covering her mouth with her sleeve to muffle the noise.

However Mystic Maya and Mr. Nick took no notice of her slip-up, and soon she was in a good position to observe them. Carefully setting the flashlight she was carrying down at her feet, Pearl turned around and did just that.

They never showed this part in any of the movies I saw... Pearl thought dumbly, feeling her mouth drop open and her face heat up. They really were Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya – she could make out the shapes of their distinctive heads of hair if the candle on the other side of the room flickered just the right way – and they were sitting there amidst the blankets of the two guest futons, moving rhythmically, holding each other and embracing, kissing, whispering softly, hands caressing and touching everywhere on each other's bodies. Wow... love really is as mysterious and special as I had always imagined! Pearl thought, putting her hands over her flaming face and peeking through the gaps between her fingers. Watching the two shapes move in the darkness, she felt a sudden, strong desire to be grown up already so she could find out if it was as exciting as it looked.

But as she continued to watch, Pearl got the niggling feeling in the back of her mind that something about the scene was amiss. There was a contradiction here – another important concept she had learned from Mr. Nick. This faint feeling of wrongness was a clue that something here wasn't right, something she had been overlooking so far. She tried looking at the shapes themselves rather than what they were doing, but it was very hard; Mystic Maya really seemed to like Mr. Nick kissing her neck and throat, judging by the way she kept pulling him against her, and each time she moved downward was accompanied with a soft gasp which distracted Pearl and further intensified her blush.

When Mr. Nick buried his head in the crook of Mystic Maya's neck and remained there for several seconds, she let out a long, drawn-out moan, which jerked Pearl out of her stupor. That didn't sound like Mystic Maya.

Pearl took another couple of steps towards the nearest corner, trying to get a better look at Mystic Maya's profile. Her frame seemed to be broader than she remembered, and even as she continued watching, that impression did not change. Another whisper echoed through the room, this one significantly louder than the rest, causing Pearl to frown.Did Mr. Nick ever call Mystic Maya 'Chief' before? She didn't remember; but she knew that he preferred to just use her name. Suspicious, she focused on where the figure's chest was. When Mr. Nick's hands moved away – they seemed to pass over that area a lot, she noted – her hunch was confirmed: The shape's breasts were much larger than those of Mystic Maya, which could only mean one thing: This woman is not Mystic Maya!

Pearl had found her contradiction; there was only one thing left to do. Picking up the flashlight from the floor, she leveled it at the impostor and turned it on, yelling: "OBJECTION!"

Pearl was amazed at the effect a simple shout like that had; now she understood why Mr. Nick was so fond of doing that. Both figures jumped horribly, their motions stopping and their heads snapping around to face her. The woman's expression was stark with shock and panic, but before Pearl could identify her, her eyes turned unseeing and her features started to morph. Within the space of a second, the woman's body shrank and her face reassembled itself into Mystic Maya's familiar shape. Mr. Nick who had been trying to lift himself up into a sitting position let out a groan and sank back down, unable to complete the movement.

A channeled spirit! Pearl thought as she watched the scene in shock, the flashlight slipping out of her hand. It fell onto the floor and rolled a short distance, the beam of light illuminating a small and completely uninteresting segment of wall on the other side of the room. Mystic Maya had been possessed by a spirit! It was Hazakura Temple all over again! And this time, the spirit was even able to control Mr. Nick! Why else would he betray his beloved Mystic Maya and re–– ...reprocicate?

Pearl felt very confused, but she knew that this was a mystery she could not solve on her own. She needed to get help. There was no one else in Fey Manor, but through all her life, there had been one person who had always helped Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya. Pearl herself had called that person many times, and she would now do so once again. Closing her eyes, she shut out the world around her and started the mental preparations that would allow her body to serve as a channel for the spirits of the deceased.

A/N: This story started as a request on the Kink Meme for a Phoenix/Channeled!Mia fic, of which I personally think there are far too few. I quickly decided to fill this request myself, because I thought the idea of Pearl discovering Phoenix and Mia like that had a lot of hilarity potential - which I think I have realized pretty well so far. However, I decided to forgo the funny ending and go for the extra-steamy one instead. The next part, which deals with Phoenix, Maya and Mia resolving their problems, secrets and the delicate situation they got Maya into, will be rated M. I plan on finishing this piece with a third part, a short outro that will also be from Pearl's point of view.

Pearl Logic: Writing Pearl was a new experience for me and a very fun one. Pearl has her own unique brand of logic - she comes to the strangest conclusions and pursues them quite faithfully. I could fully imagine Pearl fantasizing about defending Phoenix and Maya's love before a court of law. As you can see, she took Phoenix's lessons to heart and used them how her own judgment dictated. How did you like her perspective?