Maya and Phoenix got little opportunity to meet alone in the hectic build-up to the Jurist Trial. Edgeworth had pulled off the formidable coup of Phoenix being able to manage the trial jury for the local district, and Phoenix had a lot to organise. In a reversal, it was now Maya with more time on her hands – her diplomacy roles in terms of Phoenix were done, at least in the present moment. Hopefully, if the powers-that be approved of Phoenix's running of the jurists, he could obtain a more permanent position, and maybe one day the opportunity would resurface to re-examine State vs Gramarye or its associated forgery…
So Maya buried herself in attending to local domestic matters in Kurain. Her status with Phoenix was unclear, but she erred on side of caution – he just hadn't wanted to hurt her feelings. During the day there were ample distractions. But sometimes, in the half-doze of nights alone, it seemed her feelings, now having spilled over, were stubbornly resistant to safe re-burial. She found her thoughts falling to Phoenix, mentally replaying that moment and sensation when she'd been kissing him [strange, she realised he'd made no attempt to pull away]…
She'd fallen for Nick a long time ago, based originally on his… personality, she guessed, (and because he believed in her, and that she could trust him with her life…) but [despite all that grape juice] he still had quite a nice physique, she could feel it… and this was someone who actually managed to look good in those awful hobo outfits and scruffy dishevelment. [Maya mentally noted that maybe it was overdue time to lure Phoenix to another 'beach trip'.]
In fact, Nick if anything just seemed to have grown more, well, attractive since back in the legal assistant days. Had she just taken him for granted before or was it because he'd somehow lessened that slightly gawky air which made him seem like her little brother?
Well, if it wasn't reciprocal, she guessed she'd just add this to her list of unrequited amusements with imaginary Samurai™ characters.. but no, this just wasn't the same, and things seemed to be worse this time. As a teenager, she'd been able to imagine a vague fantasy that they might get together in 'a few years' when she was older, it didn't matter that Phoenix didn't seem to feel 'that' way at the moment. Now her feelings were proving more intense, possibly because it was.. well actually 'past' the 'later' in her original fantasies.
She'd never anticipated something like the disbarring fiasco. Heck, now she was 26, the age Phoenix was in their last case together.. had so much time really passed? She didn't feel that different, really, slightly less naive and more jaded, that was all. How would she handle the equivalent of the disbarring sinking her life and career at this identical relative timepoint?
She felt still greater empathy for him. Any kind of 'age difference' just seemed to grow steadily more irrelevant as time flowed past.
But she was getting ahead of herself. Regardless of what might transpire between her and Nick, one fact was inescapable. He was still not welcome in Kurain.
Oh well. Maya closed her eyes…
The Jurist Trial had been deemed a success, and sometime later, Phoenix was obliged to attend a celebration partially in his honour. Various 'friends', the same ones who had ostracised and abandoned him for the last 7 years, crowded around to bask in his limelight.
Events had enacted so quickly, Phoenix was still dazed that his name had finally been so suddenly cleared. It was a strange feeling. That cloud overbearing him had given his life odd direction and dogged obsession for the last 7 years, it was almost confusing contemplating life without it. What was he supposed to do now? There was no salvaging the past, and to his future he drew a blank.
Phoenix chatted amicably to the 'friends' from the bar association and Justice Department ("We always believed you were innocent, Mr Wright, really!" they wheedled), lubricating himself with some (non-juice) alcohol as the night wore on. He could feel a headache coming on. He excused himself, retreating to a corner to observe the other guests.
He scanned the room for anyone he'd consider friends. Edgeworth had been invited, but made some compelling excuse not to attend. Apollo was there, trying valiantly to mix it with the big guns of the Bar Association, Trucy was giving him hints..
Trucy??? What was she doing here?
Phoenix was in half a mind to get up and send her home, but the weight of the alcohol made such an action seem too exerting. He just hoped Apollo would have the sense to keep her away from the bar.
Grossberg, still not retired, was lumberously present, locked in intense discussion with Maya..
Phoenix had been unaware Maya was attending, though he'd known she was in the city of course, and the Kurain Master position was license to gatecrash most parties.
Here he was accosted by yet another crowd from the Justice Department, hijacking him into their group and making loud conversation. Phoenix was somewhat out of the loop, so he didn't really know what to say.
After being repeatedly captured by throngs of people he barely knew, Phoenix ultimately made the excuse of a toilet break, and subsequently retreated back to his corner.
And it was here that Maya's gaze eventually fell on him.
Phoenix hadn't exactly dressed for the occasion [but then again, maybe the only clothes he possessed were those hobo outfits?] but she's thrilled to note he'd discarded that awful hat. Resisting an intense urge to straighten out those crushed hair spikes, she concedes she looks just as out-of-place in her Kurain Master robes – but she didn't really come here to socialise and mingle anyway.
"Hey," greets Maya. Phoenix looks sort of dazed. "How about we take a walk?"
Phoenix can only follow tractably.
They meander in silence. Vitamin Square still has its fruity attractions, only marginally more decrepit, but neither are currently interested in playing with apples and oranges, so they perch slightly awkwardly on an ordinary nearby bench. Their eyes meet, a pause hangs in the air.
As realisation has finally sunk in over the actual impact of the jurist trial, Phoenix is somewhat overwhelmed with his gratitude towards Maya for being his… friend.. all this time and even before that and…
"Thank you," he eventually managed to gulp.
"Huh? Aww it was nothing," downplayed Maya, shifting her eyes.
'Thank you.' So empty. Such an understatement, and not what he meant at all.
Again he flounders, at an utter loss to find words to explain what her support has meant to him, what she means to him. But again, it's hopeless. Trapped in Maya's eyes, he simply can't comprehend what he should say.
But suddenly he lurched internally with revelation of what he should do.
Panic began to rise in him. He couldn't even remember how to do this stuff! The last time had been all those years ago with 'Dollie' and…
No, he amended, immediately relaxing. The last time was at that train station, with Maya.
Instinct took over.
"Maya," he began awkwardly, "remember how after you kissed me at the station we said maybe we could do it again sometime?"
"Y..yes" gulped Maya cautiously, the pounding of her heart engulfing her head.
"Could 'sometime' be now?"
"Nick…" whispered Maya, taken aback. "O..of course."
Time drifted unabated through a dreamlike state.
When they finally broke apart, Phoenix eyed Maya hesitantly and somewhat bashfully, but met only with a grin of unrestrainable elation.
In hindsight, he lamented, why hadn't he just done this [seven] years ago? Because in that moment, he had realised, the future direction of the jumbled arrangement of his seemingly futile and confusing existence made sense.
"I wish…" admitted Phoenix, "I wish, that somehow… we don't have to be apart any more."
Due to an anonymous submission by a certain Edgeworth and Fey, the Bar Association had voted on and passed the proposal that the censure and ban on Phoenix Wright practicing as a defense attorney be revoked. Phoenix and Maya were perusing the minutes of that meeting now.
"Isn't that great, Nick! You can be a lawyer again! I.. if you want to." Her eyes dulled awkwardly. "I know you find it hard to believe in people any more..."
"Oh no, Maya," corrected Phoenix, eyes fixing her intently, "there's at least one person I know I can still believe in..."
[|| EPILOGUE ||]
"A pleasure to meet you, Mr Wright."
Phoenix's heart palpitated as he recognised her as the same Elder who'd tried to delude him that Maya officially never wished to see him again. Mystic Martha held out her hand, and Phoenix shook awkwardly. "A pleasure to meet you also."
"Ah yes, I must express my gratitude. I know you were integral in supporting the justified Master's inauguration and the resurgence of Kurain."
Even Phoenix's poker skills failed him as his jaw dropped languidly.
"I don't get it," mumbled Phoenix as Maya led him away, hand proudly looped on his arm. "Such a reversal? How did you do it?"
"Oh, it was nothing. Everybody's softened by the glint of money.." dismissed Maya, alluding to Kurain's recent prosperity.
"I heard that, Mystic Maya!" thundered Mystic Maudred threateningly. "You can't buy our loyalties with bribes. You earned our respect."
"Whatever," downplayed Maya. "Why are you looking at me like that?" she queried Phoenix, who was gazing at her with a blend of prideful endearment and awed admiration.
"You really are the big shot around here," he grinned teasingly.
"There was such a great risk of Kurain again falling into turmoil and bloodshed, but the Master's impeccable judgement in face of adversity averted disaster," continued Mystic Maudred with gusto.
"I didn't invent that one," Maya protested to Phoenix's enquiring gaze.
Thus out of the tidal wave of adversity, the strands of a comprehensible future took shape.
With the inignorable evidence of his name being proved innocent, the Kurain Elders conceded that Master Fey's judgement of Phoenix had been entirely correct, and there was no further resistance to his regular presence in Kurain. They now trusted and respected the Master's decisions, as Kurain had improved exponentially under Maya's tenure, both in terms of prosperity and the gradual erosion of the tensions and internal hostility with regards to rank and distance from the 'main family'. [The love and trust still inherent between Maya and Pearl despite all previous attempts to poison their relationship had exerted quite an impression on the Kurain residents.] The Master dividing her time between Kurain and the city to better pursue her goals was now regarded as a reasonable premise, not a wonton abandonment of her duties.
So Phoenix and Maya would now both divide their time between both the city and Kurain. Phoenix again became a lawyer, with Maya as his irreplaceable assistant. That they only performed these roles half the year was not a problem, now Phoenix had another lawyer to take cases and keep an eye on Trucy during his absences. In Kurain, he was happy to fall into the role of Maya's assistant. She was conclusively top dog there. Pearl could be safely entrusted to keep an eye on day to day issues when she and Phoenix were away. Kurain's renaissance of prosperity and amicability meant serious problems were now few.
As Maya again caught the train from Kurain to the city to meet Phoenix one evening, she reflected with renewed awe that in fulfilling her duty to her mother to revive Kurain, she'd somehow also achieved her original deepest wish – to be together with Nick. Well, admittedly somewhat belatedly, she mused. Time, turmoil and distance had taken their toll. They'd both changed…
On the platform now, arranging her luggage. She turned with surprise when someone shadowed her from behind. She'd anticipated them meeting at the office, hadn't expected him coming out to meet her all the way here.
Their eyes met, in a flash of something which transported Maya back to another scene, all those years ago…
Things had changed, they'd both changed. But maybe they hadn't changed all that much….
So I didn't want to interrupt the flow of my original story plan, but since this story was better received than I anticipated, I think I'll write some 'supplementary' extra chapters. The time between chapter 10 and the epilogue could use more description – and that's the second fic of mine Maya's been planning to take Phoenix on that beach trip and we still haven't actually seen it. What do you think?
'Another' scene was, of course, the train station in 1-4.