"So Nick, how'd it go-oh. Oh no, Nick. Nick!"
"Maya…I, I don't want to talk about it."
"But, what'll you d-"
"I said, I don't want to talk about it!"
"Just, leave me alone, will you?"
Phoenix stared hard at his desk, head in his hands, desperately suppressing his tears of despair. Loud footsteps, the slamming of a door, and the sobs of one helpless girl barely registered in his mind and wouldn't even be remembered until years later, and even then only in his nightmares.
The elders sure could hold a grudge, couldn't they?
Maya smiled ruefully as her fingers traced her sisters name, carved into glistening white marble. As the years passed, she had been able to reconcile the loss, not only of her older sister, but her best friend. Of course, she had found another person out in the world, but-
She shook her head. No, she was not going there. He had made it plain that they were never to speak again. That hadn't stopped her from sending him piles of Steel Samurai DVDs, childish they may be. Thinking of him drew her gaze back to the graves at her feet. While the elders had refused to allow Mia a place in the traditional graveyard of Kurain, Maya had a sneaking suspicion that her older sister preferred the grave she had now. After all, she was right next to her lover.
Maya's slender fingers moved from Mia's grave to the small plaque resting between the two graves. She had commissioned the small plate to acknowledge the bond that Mia and Mr. Armando shared. It was simple, and had none of the usual references to love. Maya had felt that a heart was simply too cheesy for her sophisticated sister and the tragic love she had shared. So it had wound up as an engraving of two rings intertwined with one another. The inscription beneath the image read:
"Romeo and Juliet ain't got nothing on us."
Okay, okay, so maybe it wasn't the most appropriate thing for graveyard, but she'd taken it up with Mia, who'd in turn taken it up with Mr. Armando, and they both thought it was hilarious. So Maya was pleased with it.
The far off tolling of the church bell told Maya that it was one o' clock.
Mmmmm, it's getting late, she complained to herself. I hate having to slip out of the village just to come visit their graves every year.
And it wasn't even the same time every year. Because of her duties as Master, Maya was constantly forced into a strict schedule that the elders, and the entire village, kept her to with a religious fervor. It was probably the result of her relative inexperience and the long absence of her mother, but she got the feeling that the village was a little overprotective of their Master. So it was difficult to get time off for herself, much less to leave the village. She'd begged six hours out of today, but only two could be spent honoring the dead. And furthermore, Maya refused to visit the graves on a day that wasn't significant in some way. One year it was Mia's birthday, the next the day she died, and the next the day Mr. Armando was poisoned, another the day he came out of the coma, then his birthday, and never once did she visit on the same date twice. It was infuriating.
Today was the last day of that trial. It seemed more poignant to visit today, possibly because of Maya's personal involvement in incriminating Mr. Armando. Perhaps she could make arrangement for this to be the one day she had off every year. It felt very fitting, very right, that she should be here today.
Well, it was almost time for her to go, so she really should wrap up. The elegant spirit medium was already kneeling, so she bowed her head and clasped her hands for a moment of silent prayer.
Today was the one day of every year that he would don his old blue suit and go out to visit the graveyard. Since it was unusually cold this time of year, he wore a trench coat and his now-signature beanie. Every year this visit got more painful, because even as his life went on, here were reminders of what he had left behind, and whom he had hurt. He was glad of the collar on the coat; it would hide any expression of grief. And grief he had in plenty. This was particularly painful day for him.
February 9. So much had happened. So many ends were finally reached, but something began that day as well. Something that he had hoped would never end. But it was something that was killed, brutally and without warning, two months later.
Nick shook his head. There was no need to recall what had happened, to relive the painful separation that had followed the loss of his badge. In his desperation to forget what he had lost that day, he had ignored all attempts by his old friends to contact him. But he couldn't bring himself to throw away the piles of Steel Samurai discs that were sent to him, one by one, until every last episode, every last movie, every last re-release was sitting in his apartment. Then no more had come, and no more letters from a cheerful spirit medium that had accompanied him on his every adventure.
Finally, no ties to his past remained except two headstones linked by a humorous, yet painfully true plaque. Juliet never had to live with the agonizing hope that her Romeo would return, and Romeo had not spent five years in a coma from the actions of a devil, only to wake up and find his Juliet murdered. And, of course, Shakespeare had probably never thought that one vengeful spirit could cause the deaths of so many people.
Despite himself, Nick was beginning to feel like his younger self again. Thinking back on those horrifying few days brought back all of the emotions, all of the determination, of that confident defense attorney who usually remained a figment in his past.
So it was indeed Phoenix Wright, attorney at law, who was surprised by the sight of an elegant woman kneeling that the foot of the two graves he was going to visit.
She had long black hair, half of which was braided into an elaborate bun, and half of which fell to the ground she was kneeling on. A rich silk kimono fell in gentle waves around her form. The luxurious material was shades of rich purple with lighter embroidery, and the wide sash around her waist was of opposite coloration. She cut quite a figure, and every detail seemed to remind him of a clan of spirit mediums he thought he'd put behind him a long time ago.
As she studied her, her long-lashed eyes opened. They were a deep blue, almost black, with an air of gentle sorrow about them. Her face was fine-boned, with a pert nose and slender, expressive lips. Those lips twitched a little as she whispered something, finally settling in a sad smile as she began to stand up. The movement caused a red talisman to swing out on the chain that held it around the woman's neck. Phoenix recognized it immediately. It was the Masters token of Kurain village, found around the next of Misty Fey when she died. Only the Master could wear such a token, and the current Master of Kurain was…
Her head snapped around so fast she stumbled and wound up clutching the headstone behind her for support. How long had it been since someone had called her Maya? Nowadays it was always "Master Maya" or "Miss Fey" or "Mystic Maya" (from Pearly, but she didn't really mind that). In fact, the last person to call her Maya, just plain Maya, had been Nick… And this strange man in the beanie and the stubble was not her Nick.
"Um, yes. Maya Fey. And may I ask who you are?" she said, quickly regaining the mask of composure she wore as Master.
The man shook his head, a rueful smile playing on his lips.
"Of course you don't. You wouldn't, not under all this."
What was he talking about? Who was he?
"So, who are you?" she asked again, giving him a look of complete and utter stupefaction.
In response, the man reached up sheepishly and pulled off his beanie.
If he had expected a joyous outburst of tears and screaming, well, wasn't he in for a surprise.
"Oh, Phoenix, good to see you!" Maya gushed, but in such a way that it was painfully obvious she was manufacturing the emotion. "It's been what, seven years? Oh, doesn't time fly." She moved gracefully to his side, linking one of her silk-clad arms through his. "I'm sorry to rush you like this, but I must be getting back to the village. Ceremonial duties and all. But perhaps you would like to accompany me?"
Nick's stupefied expression told her all she needed to know. He had indeed expected her to fly at him and engulf him in a hug, and maybe cry into his shirt. But more than that, she could see that the lack of an over-enthusiastic greeting hurt him, and hurt deep. Somehow, he managed to stutter out an affirmative, and Maya swept him out of the graveyard and down to the train station.
But on the inside, a broken hearted nineteen-year-old raged against the memories that were swiftly returning. There was anger over being pushed away, despair over losing a close friend, and the awful, gut wrenching pain of her mother's death. And worst of all was the fact that she was forced to deal with it alone. This girl was not thinking straight, she only wanted to make him understand every bit of pain she had felt, and understand that it was definitely, irrevocably, unambiguously, all his fault.