Written for Phoenix Wright Kink Meme prompt. To summize the prompt, following Phoenix's disbarring Maya obsessively overtrains herself in an attempt to be the Master befitting of doing justice to her mother's legacy.
Maya tried to be strong about the whole fiasco surrounding her mother's death, especially in front of Pearl, who she considered at far greater risk of guilt and trauma over the incident than herself, and in the months following, for the most part succeeded. She'd been intensely grateful to Phoenix for being there for her the few times she'd given in and broken down emotionally around the time of the funeral, but funerals were supposed to offer closure and it would be immensely unproductive to hang around excessively moping. After all, her mother had basically sacrificed her life to save hers. Far more important was to honour her mother's legacy by fulfilling the reasons why her mother had sacrificed her life to save her.
Now she would immediately take over as Kurain Master. For the majority of her living memory, Maya had been indoctrinated and assumed that she would one day become the Master, but even right before that fateful incident, she mentally filed it as something which was going to happen years in the future, not imminently. Now, having the weighty responsibility thrust upon her was something of a shock. All kinds of intense preparations and reordering and rearranging of her life. It was a daunting task, but she motivated herself partially by consoling herself that soon she would get her life efficiently sorted so she could also continue as Nick's legal assistant.
That motivation dissolved overnight. Even in Kurain, Maya had heard of the 'incident', though she didn't believe a word of those scandalous media reports and accusations. Of course she'd immediately gone back to the city to console her friend. But several weeks later, after they finally packed up the last remnants of the legal office, her position of Assistant General Manager of Wright and Co. was most obviously officially over, probably forever. She desperately desired to do something – anything – to help him, but Phoenix vehemently insisted that she had her own life which she shouldn't compromise because of him. "Don't feel you should compromise your career just because I ruined mine." The pained, haunted expression in his eyes broke her heart.
He rejected her offers to live at Kurain, insisting he couldn't subsist in a parasitic lifestyle sponging off her. Besides, there was no way he could justifiably expect her to support his daughter who he'd somehow adopted. He implored her to concentrate on her own life and position as Kurain Master and not worry about him. Somehow, Maya couldn't find words to admit that he was, in fact, eternally established as a fundamental and irreducible part of her life in her psyche. Maybe it wasn't mutual.
Somehow, the distress of seeing her friend's career and life destroyed reopened the lingering dull ache of the incident two months previously. Nick had effectively told her to concentrate on the Kurain Master position. Her mother had died effectively so that she, Maya, should take over the Kurain Master position.
Maya couldn't repress a creeping sense of guilt. Her mother, though obviously dedicated to her daughter's succession, had never really known her. Would her mother have sacrificed herself if she knew the truth of Maya Fey? That she'd barely trained at all since that disturbing Mimi Miney incident? That, although she felt it was extreme to want to murder her, it probably was justified that Morgan had sorely believed Pearl should inherit the position, since Pearl's spiritual powers and dedication were exponentially superior to her own? Even Mia's spiritual powers had been superior to hers, she was sure, and Mia was really the one who had deserved such devotion from their mother, centring her life around her dedicated mission to expose those who destroyed her.
Maya cringed as she recalled her recent channelling session. Her new title of Kurain Master immediately brought a succession of high-profile clients – government officials, international diplomats, celebrities… and in her first critical job she had almost failed, her powers seemingly too inferior to capture the required spirit. Pearl had mortifyingly had to cover for her, initiating contact with the spirit so that it was connected closer to the living world and made easier for her to channel.
Really, she was a fraud and a disappointment. The only time she'd shown adequate dedication to her training was when she was determined to raise her powers to a sufficient level so she could return and help Nick. She'd wanted to repay him for what he and his friendship had done for her – but she suspected that on her return she'd hindered as much as helped him. Sure, she'd helped him with cases and evidence – but she'd also got herself charged with murder again and him forced to save her, she cringed shamedly as she recalled the huge amounts of cash he must have drained away on buying her food and other items, (immediately resolving to send him some anonymous cash donations from the fees of her channelling sessions), and worst of all she'd got him involved in the whole Hazakurain fiasco.
In saving her, Mr Armando had gone to jail (it may have been due to his method of execution, but still, he was responsible for saving her life.) Effectively, because of her, Phoenix's long-lost girlfriend was now in jail. (Maya failed to repress a confusing rebellion which rose in her chest each time she pictured Phoenix and Iris as a couple.) Some friend she was.
Maya was seized with helplessness. She wished she could help Phoenix, but could not comprehend how. Maybe not bothering him would be the most effective thing she could do for him. As for everyone who had sacrificed themselves so she could become Kurain Master – her mother, Mia, Mr Armando.. she would just have to attempt to her utmost to dedicate herself to the Kurain Master position with fervour, to heighten her powers, and to somehow attempt to become the daughter her mother had obviously envisioned she was saving.
Maya flung herself into intense training immediately after the official Kurain Master induction ritual had taken place. She regretted not inviting Phoenix to the ceremony as she had originally intended, but the Kurain Elders and everyone else she ever spoke to now believed he was an evidence-forging morally corrupt fraud, and she met with enough complaint by continuing to associate with him. It was probably best not to rock the boat still further, especially over a ceremony men and non-Kurain elders were not traditionally permitted to attend to begin with.
She consulted the Kurain Master's Library, a collection of thousands upon thousands of ancient books and manuscripts covering numerous centuries of secret esoteric knowledge. Maya retrieved one book, (its title inscribed in ancient archaic Japanese) 'Secrets of the Psyche Lock', written by a previous Master, some Great-Great Grandmother Fey. Maya recalled with shame how little Pearl had charged Phoenix's (she'd officially gifted it to him when she'd last farewelled him) Magatama with spiritual power, a task significantly beyond her. As Master, she should at least resolve to amass enough spiritual power to accomplish this task. Pearl had only been 8, after all. And since she'd been meditating obsessively for most of the last week, her powers should be heightened.
Maya read and re-read the (almost incomprehensibly archaic) instructions with intensity. She locked herself in the Master's Wing of rooms and attempted to focus her powers to accomplish the task described.
Maya concentrated her powers till she felt physically nauseated, until she radiated with pain, until she literally collapsed to the ground, limp and shaking. Her vision blurred, she gasped for breath, she was on the verge of unconsciousness.
All to no avail. Her powers simply had not reached an effective threshold to affect her Magatama in any way, shape or form. She had failed.
Disgusted with herself, as soon as she was able, Maya crawled back to the Library. There was an entire shelf of many hundreds of torturous and brutal masochistic training endeavours that Morgan Fey had sometimes deployed as punishments. Maya resolved to complete every one of these in succession. When she'd finished, she'd repeat them again. Maybe then her powers might heighten to an acceptable level for the type of person her mother had wanted to save.
Maya pulled out the first book, which fell open at a page enscribing a brutal 48-hour task she recalled with shame. Aunt Morgan had punished her with it shortly after Mia left, and Maya being too weak, she had passed out unconscious on a frozen mountain-top overnight and had been sick in bed for the next 3 weeks. Morgan had taunted her ceaselessly, bragging that Pearl had successfully completed the task when she was 2.
Well, she'd begin with that one- except she'd commit herself to the Advanced Level, of course – and then she'd busy herself with all the other torturous rituals outlined in the books here.
Whenever she wasn't taking channelling clients, Maya amassed her schedule with constant training ordeals. Torturous meditations lasting for 4 days, continuous spiritual fasts lasting 5 days at a time, endless freezing in ice and water, flagellation under spiritual stones, power-honing exercises which only ended when the medium collapsed… Kurain was filled with desolate mountains, secluded dingy caves, freezing waterfalls and jagged boulders, and Maya frequented them all, far more than she did her home, Fey Manor. She fasted so often she ceased to even notice when she was hungry, and frequently simply forgot to eat even when she was not engaged in training.
She also booked herself into constant repeats of the Special and Ultra Course at Hazakurain, to the point where even Bikini was confused – but it was excellent for business, and she didn't like to question the Master.
Maya would ring Phoenix every so often, but he frequently wasn't there, and when he was, it was difficult to get him to talk about anything but Trucy. He didn't want to talk about the disbarring or his situation, and Maya didn't want to upset him by reminding him of it. There wasn't much she could tell him except 'I've been training.' He certainly appeared to be enamoured with Trucy, who his life appeared to revolve around now. Maya couldn't escape a niggling feeling that though Phoenix had appeared to regard her as a close friend and valued legal partner, maybe she'd been mistaken. Maybe, like Trucy, he'd only taken pity on her because she was a young female all alone after one parent had died and the other disappeared. And of course, she should be looking after herself now. She rang less often.
All Maya's excess training produced positive feedback of heightened spiritual power for some time, but then results plateaued, and, by the time she was reaching the last book and planning to repeat from the first, her powers appeared to be declining. In fact, repeating the exercises, they seemed more difficult than they had the first time around. She was obviously too weak and pathetic, she lambasted herself. Somehow, she had to increase her inner strength and mental toughness and stop acting like a wimp. Most likely, Pearl had mastered all these by the time she was 5.
She felt reprehensibly guilty for worrying Pearl – Maya had been unable to suppress herself from waking screaming from one of her 'nightmares' – really just a mental replay of witnessing her mother dying as she was stabbed, often superimposed with the moment of Mia's death and that haunted, dead look in Phoenix's eyes after he'd been disbarred. Disconcertingly, they were recurring with increasing frequency and disrupting her sleeping patterns, a matter she was unable to obscure from Pearl, who seemed generally concerned with her.
"Are you okay, Mystic Maya? Are you sure you shouldn't rest instead of doing more training? You look pale."
"I'm okay, Pearly, please don't worry," begged Maya. She'd recently retried – and failed – her magatama-charging benchmark test. She ignored the fact that her head pounded, her jaw tightened as if it had dislocated, and that it was sometimes difficult to perform tasks that involved recalling many steps. There were infinite tasks to perform – that channelling for the foreign diplomat, the monthly meeting with the region's Kurain Elders, the Ultra Course she'd booked for next week…- obviously she just required further training to stay focused.
Maya ended her latest 4-day fast and continual meditation, observing her only companion, a raven who had become so used to her constant stays on this desolate peak that he had become quite tamed. For some reason the raven made her recall Phoenix. Maya wished anew that she could help her friend, but maybe, other than sending the anonymous cash donations, the best thing she could do for him was not bother him.
As the raven flew off, Maya was seized by loneliness, and in a moment of intense weakness, made a reprehensible attempt to call on the spirits of Mia and her mother – ridiculous, she chided herself severely, since there was no point in channelling them as she wouldn't meet them. But it seemed neither wished to be contacted. Despite the knowledge that it was unreasonable to expect them to make contact at her own selfish whims, Maya nonetheless felt abandoned.
Bikini had become accustomed to the familiar ritual. "Well, I trust you completed all 100000 incarnations, Mystic Maya?" she questioned cheerfully as she unlocked the physical Psyche-Lock of the cavern of the Ultra Course.
Bikini peered in. The form of Maya appeared to be lying face-down in the pool of freezing melted spiritual ice.
"Oh, don't tell me you fell asleep! Oh well, you've completed this so many times, we'll keep it our little secret just this once," soothed Bikini.
Maya didn't reply. Bikini strode closer.
"Mystic Maya?" She poked Maya with her foot. Something in the un-natural flopping motion of Maya's body alerted her attention.
Bikini rolled Maya over and gasped.
Maya was immensely pale, and parts of her had taken on a blueish tinge. She was devoid of the rise and fall of breathing, or any breathing motion at all.
"Mystic Maya!" cried Bikini in panic. In desperation she flung her ear to Maya's chest, detecting a heartbeat so shallow and erratic that Bikini feared it only existed in her imagination.
Thankfully Bikini had been trained in CPR, which she was forced to perform for the entirety of the duration until the ambulance arrived. How she wished Iris was still here to help at times like these! Maya's condition seem intensely bad. She could only hope all those machines could effectively revive her.
Once Maya had been safely loaded into the ambulance, Bikini shakily began to dial Pearl in Kurain.
Hanging around his apartment after delivering Trucy to school, Phoenix's thoughts turned to Maya, wondering what she was doing now. He considered calling her, but decided against it, it would currently be too difficult to resist the urge to whinge and complain about his life. How impolite to burden somebody who obviously had her own problems and had endured a succession of extreme traumas without excessive complaint.
Still, Phoenix was finding his new life intensely draining. He endeavoured to keep positive around Trucy, who was largely his only motivation to get out of bed, but the blatant hostility and rejection from all his former acquaintances still pained him, his 'job' kept him on edge, since he'd never really considered himself a poker player and it was surely only a matter of time before he lost and was fired, and cultivating a 'friendship' with that highly unpleasant Kristoph Gavin consumed all his powers of self-control.
Maya was probably too busy anyway. Most of the time when he did ring, she was off on some kind of arduous training ordeal. The Kurain Master position must be incredibly difficult and time consuming. He shouldn't inconvenience her with his own troubles.
In fact, in some hasty research post State vs Iris, Phoenix had discovered that the Kurain Master held far more power and influence than he'd ever suspected. Phoenix's self-esteem had taken a significant hit in the whole disbarring fiasco – what had possessed him to be so incomprehensibly stupid as to fall into that obvious trap and present that 'evidence'? – and he almost felt ashamed to associate with her, his negative public image being what it was and all.
The phone began to ring. It was Pearl. Phoenix was pleased to hear from her. Her voice sounded a little strained, but Phoenix was so used to odd reactions from formerly friendly individuals that he thought nothing of it.
"Hi, Pearls, how are you?"
"Not.. so good, I'm afraid. Mystic Maya is.. at the hospital…"
Phoenix's heart pulsated lurchingly into his throat. "Hospital? Is she okay?"
"I don't know.."
"At the Ultra Course at Hazakurain she.. collapsed unconscious." Here Pearl's attempts to be strong for Mystic Maya collapsed into tears. "They.. don't know if she'll be okay…"
Time slowed, his head pounded, his vision began to waver. "W..where is she? I'm coming right now!" Shakily he scrawled down the address of the hospital, palms drenched with a cold sweat. Dropping the phone in his disconcert, he rushed out the door.
Phoenix spied Pearl at their meeting place at the hospital entrance. Soggy with tears, Pearl handed Phoenix the number of Maya's room in the critical care unit, marked on a hospital guidemap. "Hurry, Mr Nick! Visiting hours are almost over! I'll wait out here for you." She hunched down against the wall, a small, dejected figure.
Phoenix eventually found the room. "M..Maya?" he called hesitantly as he neared the doorway. A nurse sprang out to obstruct his view.
"I apologise Sir, the patient is in a critical condition and only immediate family members are permitted to visit."
"I'm her.. uh..cousin!" improvised Phoenix hastily. More swayed by the look of panic and desperation in his eyes than his explanation, the nurse stepped aside.
Phoenix rushed forwards… but froze in alarm as he was close enough to Maya to adequately survey the scene.
An imposing battery of daunting machines overshadowed Maya, flashing, beeping and jarring into her. Maya herself was limp and pale, appearing far smaller and more fragile than his mental impressions of her.
Gingerly, Phoenix took her frozen hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Maya?"
"I don't think she can hear you," called the nurse from the doorway. "She's been unconscious ever since she came here."
Phoenix had heard somewhere that hearing was often the last sense to go. "I'm sorry Maya," he gulped, largely for his own benefit. "I should have come to visit you earlier." After several minutes of Phoenix clutching her hand and gazing at Maya in abject terror, the nurse interjected "I'm sorry. Visiting hours are over."
"No!" flailed Phoenix. "I.. didn't get to say goodbye.."
"Okay," sighed the nurse, "you can stay till the doctor arrives."
The doctor was greeted with a grilling from panicked Phoenix. "Will she be okay? Will she get better? When will she wake up?"
"Well," hummed the doctor, "she's stabilising, so prospects for survival are good. However, I can't predict if or when she will fully recover." A wave of nausea awashed Phoenix.
"Her physical condition is insane," continued the doctor, marvelling. "It's incomprehensible how she managed to persist for so long in such a state. And the eyewitnesses insist she was acting normally right up to the collapse..!"
The nurse dragged Phoenix out of the room. Unsteady and numbed, he trudged back to the waiting Pearl.
"She was training at Hazakurain?"
"Yes.. but.. I think Mystic Maya has been doing too much training. I was worried about Mystic Maya so.. when she left for Hazakurain I borrowed some of the books she was reading. I believe she has been doing these training exercises."
Completing the Special Course had been an eye-opener for Phoenix, endowing him with a stark new awareness and respect of the immense amount of inner strength Maya must possess. He would have run screaming from the cavern after five minutes if Maya hadn't been supportively holding his hand, but Maya had endured a lifetime of these tortures and more. Whatever had eventually floored her must not have been a simple regular training schedule.
They poured over a book Pearl had brought. The archaic Japanese was difficult for both Phoenix and Pearl, but the recent 'incident' had been more than enough motivation to compel Pearl to work on her reading skills, and she outlined aloud a recent ordeal Maya had performed, a 4 day starvation crushed under a spiritual boulder on a freezing mountaintop, in tandem with some power-honing exercise inexplicable to Phoenix.
"But why?" queried Phoenix, feeling sick. "Is it really necessary?"
"I believe Mystic Maya feels she is required to heighten her powers. And I think," continued Pearl, recalling Maya's blabbering during one of her recent dreams, "she does not wish to fail her mother."
"Oh." Phoenix wanted to collapse into the earth in regret. Deep down, he'd always suspected that Maya wasn't handling the whole issue of her mother's death as well as she superficially appeared to be. He should have found a way to help her, though he'd been afraid to press the issue, and after he was disbarred he'd selfishly been consumed by his own problems and forgotten hers.
The next day, and every day after that, as soon as Trucy left for school Phoenix set off to the hospital to sit vigil with Maya.
If only he'd bothered to visit her earlier instead of being so preoccupied with his own issues. Now he finally got to see her, but maybe it was too late. Gazing at her slumbering form, he realised how acutely he'd missed her. He always did, he finally acknowledged.
"I missed you," he was compelled to repeat aloud. "I should have invited you to visit." Suddenly driven to admit his regrets to her, allaying his guilt but secure in the knowledge she might not hear, he found himself explaining the guilt, shame and selfish preoccupation which kept him away. "It was stupid of me. I know you'd never reject me. And I should have been there for you too."
Days passed, and though Maya's physical condition improved, she showed no signs of waking. Phoenix continued detailing his innermost thoughts and fears to her, realising how much he'd missed talking to her and discovering that though she may not actually hear him, he would have no regrets at all if she had. Their friendship had transcended the petty issues which had inspired his distancing, he finally comprehended.
"I'm sorry. I know how much you wanted to keep being my assistant." But Phoenix knew Maya wasn't primarily motivated by a fascination of the legal profession. "It was more than that, wasn't it. I'm sorry I ruined what we had together."
"Somehow, I can never admit exactly how much you mean to me when you're there to see. I can't even admit it to myself. But the truth is, you mean more to me than anything and I..I..love..you.."
"Nick..." murmured Maya sleepily.
Maya's eyelids slowly slid open. An expression of utter bewilderment and confusion rapidly crossed her face.
"You're at the hospital," explained Phoenix. "You collapsed unconscious before."
"No!" panicked disorientated Maya. "I have to finish the Ultra Course!" In desperation she lurched into a sitting position, only to have her continued ill-health immediately collapse her back to the bed. Defeated, she groaned "I can't fail my mother!"
"Maya.. It's okay now. You've been very sick. Please don't worry about it."
Exhausted, Maya could only lie back against her pillow, eyes wearily drifting closed. "Nick.." she whispered hesitantly. "I had the strangest dream before. I dreamed you said you loved me."
"That.. wasn't a dream," admitted Phoenix with conviction.
Too drained to verbally reply, Maya squeezed his hand as she drifted back into slumber.