Phoenix Wright/Apollo Justice/Gykuten Saiban is copyright of
Capcom. No infringement is intended.
My first proper story in a long time, based on Phoenix's little speech at the end of AJ:AA.
I hope you enjoy.
The First Step
The small office was filled with the sound of a jaunty, pleasant tune emanating from the piano. His hands danced across the keys, he had performed this song so many times that it was instinct to him.
It was always one of his favourite songs, and as he played, he allowed himself to get lost in the melody, letting the song life his spirits and take his mind of the current trouble plaguing him.
He neatly finished the tune with a quick flourish at the keys, and nearly jumped when he heard someone clap their hands behind him.
"Bravo!" He turned on the seat to see a certain spirit medium standing by the door applauding him, and he felt his breath catch at the sight of her.
It always amazed him, that she had transformed from that skinny teen he met so long ago into this stunning creature before him. And yet she never seemed to notice, never really caring about what those around her thought of her looks.
It was one of those things he loved about her.
"That was really good." She smiled brightly at him. "I never understood why you kept downplaying your talent."
"I wasn't downplaying, I'm not that good." He shrugged.
"Don't say that, you were wonderful. You should have been playing at nicer places than that dingy Borscht or whatever club."
"I had to keep a low profile, you know that." He smiled. "Besides, I played at the Gatewater Hotel a few times. That was fancy enough for me. Boring, but fancy."
"They wouldn't let me play any songs I liked. I had to stick to that dull, cliche stuff everyone thinks is romantic."
She giggled as she padded over to him. "Poor you, having to suffer through that. I hope they paid you well for it."
"Not nearly enough in my opinion." He shuffled over to the far side of the stool he was on to let her sit next to him. She sat primly, and he couldn't help but smell a faint scent of flowers coming off her clothes. No doubt she had been working in her garden before she and Pearl took the train here.
"So, did Trucy greet you at the station alright?" He asked.
She nodded. "Yep. We weren't there for five minutes before she and Pearl rushed off to the shops. She said something about getting a bonus from you to spend."
He looked sheepish. "Yeah, I gave her double her allowance this week for helping out with the case."
"Niiick…" She mock-glared at him. "You shouldn't spoil her like that."
"Oh she's earned it. She was a big help to Apollo in that case."
Maya glanced around the office. "Speaking of which, where is the prodigal lawyer anyway? I've been wanting to meet him."
"Ah, he's out at the moment. He wanted to meet Vera Misham. You know, the defendant."
"Oh right. That's nice of him, to keep in touch with his clients like that."
Phoenix smiled slyly at her. "Actually, I don't think he wants to see her as a client, if you get my drift."
Maya blinked in realisation. "Oh!"
"I hope it works out for them. Vera needs someone close, and Apollo's certainly deserves a girlfriend after all he's been through."
"Mmm, I'll have to thank him. I owe him a lot."
"You do?" He blinked.
"Yep." She beamed. "Now that this whole thing is over, things can finally get back to normal."
He stared at her quizzically. "Maya, when has anything ever been normal for us?"
"You know what I mean." Her eyes stared at him longingly. "I missed being able to just come by and spend some time with you, help you with things, have some fun…"
"So did I.." A sad smile crossed his face. "But I think it was for the best. We both had new things in our lives we needed to work out for ourselves."
"Yeah, we both needed to grow up a little." She conceded.
"Some more that others…" He thought to himself, allowing himself a quick glance at her shapely form.
She spun on the seat and leaned toward him, her grinning face inches from his. "So Nick, where are we gonna go from here? Is Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney going to come back from the ashes?"
She said it with such conviction and heart, it was hard to smile. It was her ability, to install a little cheer into everyone she met.
"I wish it was that simple." He sighed.
She noted the look in his eyes. "Is something wrong?"
"Nothing so terrible…" He admitted. "I'm just not sure what to do…"
He reached for the top of the piano and grabbed a sheet of paper, the same sheet that had been giving him a headache lately. He handed it to her.
"Your application to take the bar exam…" She frowned. "You haven't arranged it yet?"
"I was going to... but then I stopped and started wondering… do I really want to be a lawyer again?"
Maya stared at him in surprise. "Do you?"
"Seven years ago, all I ever wanted was that badge back, but now I'm not so sure."
He turned to look at the window, and the city visible through it. "I miss being in court, I know that. These past few months, working within the courts and helping Apollo out, they made me remember just what I enjoyed about being a lawyer. Investigating, figuring out all the puzzles, matching wits with the prosecution, helping out someone in genuine need, and sometimes, I got to nail a bad guy and making sure the right justice was served." He smiled wistfully. "I'd love to go up against Edgeworth or Franziska again."
She smiled, her mind lost in memories of their glory days. Even when things had been rough, they had remained the best days of her life. The excitement of investigating places she had never been before, the drama as the case unfolded, the tension of trying to win an argument, and perhaps best of all, spending time with Phoenix, the first person since her sister who treated her not as the future Master, a person expected to perform a duty she hardly understood, but as a friend, a genuine companion.
"But then, I think about the last seven years, and I realize that I would never regret how my life turned out. Thanks to Trucy, I got to try out things I would have never imagined doing before. She helped me to open my eyes and see more of the world around me. It was nice to wake up and not know what was going to happen. And I like playing the piano. I know I'm not a master, but I enjoy entertaining people. And best of all, I had so much more time to spend with Trucy and everyone else.. I'm not sure I want to give that up."
He was right about that. While she would have given anything to get his badge back, she was grateful that the opportunity to spend time with him beyond a court room had occurred. In the years that followed, she watched him look after Trucy, helped him find a new job, and gave him a friendly ear and close companionship whenever he needed it. Despite the hard times when he would bury himself in his investigation, she had never seen him so happy, the sense of joy he found in his new lease of life radiating from him whenever they met.
In the last seven years she had seen so many new sides to him, seen him become a different person, yet still remain the same Phoenix she cared for fondly.
And as she grew up herself, she couldn't help but wonder what it would be like if he wasn't just her friend, but something closer… more intimate…
"So, what do you think?"
"Huh?" She shook her head as she realized he was addressing her.
"What do you think I should do?" He asked. "Should I take the exam again, or should I just stay as I am. Should I be a lawyer, or a pianist? Or maybe I should find something else to do, something new?"
He stared at her with a hopeful expression. "What should I do with my life?"
She blinked. "You're asking me?"
He chuckled. "Sure, I can always trust your opinion. Plus, Edgeworth isn't in the country, so I can't ask him. So, what should I do?"
She swallowed. "Nick… this a bit much to ask me. I mean, you're asking me to decide how you'll spend the rest of your life."
"Just give me a push in the right direction, that's all I'm asking." He smiled. "Where ever life takes me from there, that's my problem."
She turned away and looked at her feet. What was she meant to tell him? Both choices were paths he enjoyed, paths which fulfilled him. How could she choose between them?
And it didn't really matter to her anyway. She'd long stopped caring about what Phoenix did in his life. Phoenix was still Phoenix, no matter what happened to him. Even with all the changes he'd taken on over the years, inside he was still that strong, compassionate man she had come to love over the years.
A fond memory from years back flashed in her mind, and a smile crossed her face as she found her answer.
"You know, this reminds me of what you said after the Hazakura case."
"Things were a little hectic after that day… could you refresh my memory?" He asked.
"You know, it was a few days after…" She leaned against the piano as she thought back. "I was really upset after it truly sunk in that my mother was never coming back, and I was angry about everything leading up to that moment. I hated all the tragedy the Master title had brought, and I was ready to just leave Kurain and never go back. But I was hesitant. I couldn't stop thinking about how much effort Mother had gone through to try and protect me. It seemed wrong to just discard the title of Master after she'd gone through so much."
She sighed. "I didn't know what to do. Stay or leave. And then you came along…"
"I think I remember now." He smiled, his mind casting back to the image of him finding Maya on the porch of her house, crying inconsolably.
"I asked you what I should do, and you told me something I would never…" She smiled at him. "You told me I should look within myself, and do what I felt was right for me."
"Oh yeah…" He smirked slightly. "I do recall that now. I was good advice I trust?"
"At first I thought you were just avoiding the question, but then I realized you were just urging me to stop and think about what I really wanted…"
She paused and looked out of the window, scanning the horizon as if she could spot her hometown in the distance. "And you were right. What I wanted… was to make Kurain a happy place again. I couldn't just leave, knowing that what happened to me and Pearl could happen to someone else. That's what made me decide to stay as the Master and change things…"
Phoenix placed a hand on her shoulder, a small gesture of pride in her. "I was a little upset that you weren't going to stay my assistant, but I knew you'd made the right choice."
"I'm glad I did. Everyone in Kurain is so much happier now they're not sniping at each other over family ranks and such. I think all that cheer has given us more business over the years."
She chuckled for a moment, before she got slightly serious. "But anyway, that's my answer to you Nick. To look within and pick whatever feels right for you. I can't choose this for you… you have to look and see what you want."
A warm smile crossed his face. "Well, I certainly can't argue against the wisdom of the Master."
He was silent as the last seven years of his life flashed by in his mind. The loss of his badge had given him much more than he had ever imagined. A daughter who loved and inspired him, the chance to explore new avenues in his life, the drive and passion to challenge and change a flawed legal system, and the time to re-engage all his friendships.
And through it all, she had been at his side. He'd come to care about a lot of people, but along with Trucy, Maya was always at the forefront. The way she smiled, her radiant joy towards everything, her bravery and compassion… Even when they were separated by the distance between their homes, she was always calling him to just talk and support him. It was impossible to imagine a day without her in his thoughts.
"Have a good think about it, okay?" Maya continued speaking as she got to her feet. "Now, how about we go to the park and…"
She flinched as Phoenix took her hand, and gently pulled her closer to him.
"You know… I think I have my answer."
She blinked. "Already?! Nick, you can't just blurt anything out, you have to really think about this..."
"I have thought about this, many times before today." He looked straight into her eyes, his gaze filled with determination and hope. "And now, I think I finally see what it is I really want in my life."
"Wh…what?.." She heard herself whisper.
Her heart started beating faster when he leaned toward her, and she was certain it had stopped beating for a moment when he pressed his lips to hers in a kiss.
She was stunned, not just because of the sudden kiss, but because it felt… right. As if she had been waiting for something all her life, and was now receiving it, feeling happy and content that she had found what she always wanted.
She pulled back and touched her lips, still shocked by what had happened. "Nick.. what are you?"
Phoenix took her hands in his and looked at her tenderly. "I realize now, it really doesn't matter what I do in my life. Laywer, pianist… I don't care. All I really want is to do is have a home, look after my daughter, hang out with my friends… and be with the person who holds my heart in her hands."
"Nick.. are you serious?"
"Utterly. You mean so much to me. You're one of the greatest things to ever happen in my life, and frankly, the idea of you not being there with me scares me. All I want is you… as part of my family, and as the one I love."
The look of utter devotion in his eyes was almost overwhelming to her. This man she cared about so much actually loved her. She had never imagined that Nick, or even her, would take things this far.
A cheeky smile crossed his face. "That wasn't too melodramatic, was it?"
She couldn't help but giggle. Even when confessing his love, that wit of his was still there. "Ohh, just a touch."
"It was kind of spur of the moment. I must have sounded like something out of a romance novel.."
"No Nick…" She moved closer and settled herself into his lap, her hands moving to touch his face. "It was perfect…"
She claimed his lips in a loving kiss, and for a few moments, the world ceased to exist, as they sank in each other's embrace.
Maya pulled back, a thought occurring to her. "But wait… you still haven't decided what job you're going to do."
Phoenix shrugged, a look of nonchalance on his face. "Meh. I figure I'll take the bar exam, get my badge back, then whenever there's a lull in cases, I'll just hire myself out as a pianist and help Trucy run the talent agency. Best of both worlds."
Maya blinked. "You're kidding, right?"
"Why not?" He grinned. "I recall back in the day, you were always bugging me to something besides hang around the office and clean the toilet."
"You're right there…" She had to admit, she had nagged him about that…
"And I've got a daughter to take care off, and a very lovely girl I'd like to treat and pamper. I can't just sit around waiting for murders cases to fall in my lap anymore."
She sniggered. "I do like being pampered… okay then Nick! You'll be the first ever lawyer slash pianist."
"Trucy will love that. She'll want to put it in our flyers."
"Oh, and we'd better tell Pearly. She'll be so estatic.."
"And you…" Phoenix looked at her with some slight concern. "Are you sure this is what you want? I mean, you've still got your duties in Kurain.."
"Yeah.. but you know, being the Master of the Kurain Technique doesn't mean I have to live there all the time. I'm sure the elders won't mind me spending some time in the city to spread the word about spirit channelling.." She smiled and cuddled him. "Trust me Nick… this is all I want. To be with you, always."
He smiled brightly, the feeling of pure joy within him impossible to contain. He hugged her tightly to him, revelling in the feel and scent of her.
"I guess we're going to have a pretty exciting day tomorrow." She spoke as she nestled against his shoulder.
He averted his gaze from her for a moment to look out the window, the once familiar horizon appearing new and unknown to him. Today marked a brand new chapter in their lives.
And he couldn't wait to start sharing it with her.
"My dear Maya… exciting is hardly the word.."