It was a snowy Christmas Eve in Kurain Village when Phoenix and his new daughter, Trucy, arrived at the Kurain Manor. They were greeted by their good friends, Maya and Pearl Fey, who had invited them to stay for Christmas and New Years. Phoenix, having just lost his attorney badge a few months ago, needed the time to figure out what to do in his unemployment and accepted the invitation. Lucky for him, Trucy and Pearl took to one another extremely well while he and Maya discussed the situation.
"It's been pretty difficult, not having any much money while raising a daughter," Phoenix sighed heavily.
"Well, it's not like you had to adopt her. Besides, it's all your fault that you volunteered to defend most of your clients for free!" Maya said straightforward into his face. "Come on, Nick, there are other things you can do for money, right? Don't you have some sort of hidden talents that can earn you some quick cash?"
"If I had such a talent, I wouldn't be trying to get some advice outta you, would I?"
"Oh, good point. Why not work here on the manor, or even at Hazakura Temple? I'm sure Bikini wouldn't mind having a guy around, daughter or not!"
Phoenix shook his head. "Nah, I want her to be able to go to school and such. Besides, that would limit the amount of people she can show her new tricks to."
"Nick, you should show her some support in her magic tricks! Even if you get tired of them, you still have to show you appreciate the hard work she puts into them!" Maya yelled disapprovingly in her friend's face.
"That's not what I meant. She's the one that gets tired of showing the same people her tricks. Just the other day she came up to me and said, 'Daddy, can I go to the park to show off my tricks? You're just no fun to show anymore.'"
"…Ouch. She's one tough performer to please."
"Yeah, but I love her all the same," Phoenix smiled broadly. He turned his attention to the two little girls playing in the snow near the Winding Way. Maya's little cousin, Pearl, was in her traditional training garb running around in the snow while Trucy, covered in layers of thick clothing, tried waddling after her with a snowball. Maya and Phoenix laughed when Trucy fell face-first into a pile of snow. She desperately tried to stand up, but only managed to make a snow angel in the powdery snow. Pearl tried to pull her upright, but only ended up planting her butt in more snow. Phoenix chuckled as he helped the two helpless girls to their feet while Maya prepared some hot chocolate for all of them.
"Oh Miss Trucy, there's no way you can catch me if you're all bundled up like that!" Pearl laughed as Phoenix helped his daughter out of her extra layers.
"I can't help it. Daddy said that if I don't wear all these clothes, I'd catch a cold and die and then he'd be sad!" She answered back once her face was freed from the heavy scarf her daddy had wrapped all around her head. She continued shedding her layers as Pearl stood by and watched.
"Wow, I never thought of Mr. Nick to be the fatherly type. Mr. Nick, at this rate, you'll be a prime target for marriage! And I think I know the ideal woman for you!" Pearl beamed.
"Pearly, for the last time, Nick and I don't have that type of relationship," Maya explained as she passed around cups of piping-hot chocolate.
"Then what does my Daddy mean to you?" asked Trucy innocently as she took some hot chocolate.
"He's a good friend who provides me with all the burgers I can eat!" she smiled.
"Why not just ask Santa for a bunch of burgers? That way Daddy's wallet won't suffer so much."
"Oh, that's right, today's Christmas Eve! Trucy, did you already make your letter to Santa?"
"Yup! I brought it with me so that Santa won't drop my present off at our place while we're here. How about you, Pearl?"
Pearl gave Trucy a quizzical look. "Who is Santa?"
Everyone else in the room gave her a look like they were having heart attacks. Pearl looked even more confused. "What's the matter?"
Maya took the challenge of explaining who Santa was. "Well Pearly, Santa Claus is a magical man who flies all over the world giving gifts to all the good little boys and girls. He has magic flying reindeer which pull his sleigh full of toys and finishes delivering presents before the sun rises on Christmas morning. Hey Trucy," she said as she turned to look at Trucy, "why don't you go help Pearly try to write her wish list to Santa?" Trucy nodded, took Pearl's hand and dragged her off to find some paper and pencils, leaving Phoenix and Maya alone in the Meditation Room. Maya takes a seat next to Phoenix, who was swirling his hot chocolate around in his cup, deep in thought.
"D'you know what Trucy wants for Christmas?" he asked Maya quietly. She shook her head in response.
"Well, it's more like, what she's been wanting for awhile now. She's been asking for a new mom, and Santa's pretty much her only hope," Phoenix sighed and took a sip. Maya stood up and walked over to the Winding Way, where she stopped near the entrance to catch a glimpse of the two little girls in the guest room discussing their wish lists. "It must be hard, huh Nick?"
Phoenix looked up and joined her by the entrance, also watching his daughter and her new friend. "Well, there aren't many women who wanna marry a hobo, are there?" he said with a warm smile. Maya switched her gaze over to him, and tried to smile back, but found it rather difficult. She still was not used to seeing him in his trashy clothes, his hair no longer the confident spikes that made him identifiable anywhere they went. She shook herself out of her deep thoughts and answered with, "what if you just became a house husband? You could cook, clean, and take care of the kids!" she chuckled. Phoenix couldn't help but laugh, but also tucked that idea away in a safe corner as a back-up plan.
"Well, if I absolutely needed to marry someone, I guess you could be a back-up if all the eligible bachelors suck," Maya said thoughtfully. "At least I know we get along, after being friends for over three years now."
"Yeah, and Mommy Maya has a nice right to it."
"Hmm, Papa Nick, Mama Maya, and…."
"Aunt Pearl?!" they said in unison. With this, they burst out laughing, catching the attention of the possible "Aunt" Pearl and Trucy, who came running out of the guest room.
"What's so funny?" they both asked.
"Oh, we were just talking about how if Nick and I got married, I'd be Trucy's new mommy and Pearl would become 'Aunt' Pearl!" Maya said while wiping tears from laughing so hard. Trucy's face lit up while Pearl pouted. "I'm too young to be an Auntie!"
"You're never too young to be an Auntie," Nick said as he patted Pearl's head. "There've been cases where aunts and uncles are younger than their nieces and nephews. Lucky for you, you've got a whole year ahead of Trucy."
"Daddy, does that mean that you found me a new mommy?" Trucy asked, excitement in her voice.
"It's just a hypothetical thing, sweetheart," Phoenix told her as he squatted down to her level. "We're not actually gonna get married."
Pearl's face regained some color at her friend's words, glad that she might not become an 'Auntie' after all. But all the same, she really wanted her cousin and friend to get married as much as Trucy did.
"Okay, you two, finish up your letters to Santa and go straight to bed," Maya said once she caught her breath. Trucy nodded. "Okay! C'mon, Auntie Pearl! If we don't sleep early, Santa might skip over us!"
"I'm not your Aunt Pearl!" Pearl growled through gritted teeth as she was pulled away by her potential niece. Phoenix couldn't help flashing a smile.
"I don't think I'd mind giving Trucy an aunt while I'm at it. Can you imagine if they went to the same school and Trucy continued calling Pearls 'Auntie'? How many strange looks do you think they'll get?"
Maya giggled. "Poor Pearly. She's not gonna get out of that one unscathed. But, what if things worked out that way? What if we just pass this on as a joke and then years later, we realize that we were wrong to just poke fun at it. What do you think, Nick?"
Phoenix looked up at the clear sky. "Why not give it a shot?"
"At least, if we try, we know that yes, it did or didn't work out. At least we can say, hey, we tried it and we have no regrets whatsoever."
"So, you're serious? You wanna try being a couple?"
He lowered his gaze onto his dear friend. "Yes….I do."
Maya stood there for a second, trying to soak in what she just heard. She lifted her arms to hug Phoenix, and he returned the hug. She then whispered, "Looks like we didn't need Santa to fulfill our wish lists after all."