A/N; Spoilers for Apollo Justice! This fic is set a few days after Phoenix was disbarred. Please read and offer me your thoughts :) ! Critique is welcome. thank you.

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"Nick!" I yell, hammering on the door labelled 'Wright & Co. Law Offices'. "Niiiiiiiick! Come and let me in already! I know you gave me my own key but I left it in the sleeve of my training robes back in Kurain, and I kind of have to wear these new Master's robes now, and I forgot –"

That stops me short. Maybe he's not answering because he's mad at me for losing his stuff all the time. Stuff like his key. Do you have to pay for those things?

I shrug and continue to hammer on the door.

"Let…me…IN! NICK!"

Silence.

Maybe he's out at Eldoon's, getting some noodles for us?

Or he's getting the shopping.

Or out investigating a case that came up in the last day.

After all, he knew I was coming back today for a visit. It's been two months since my mum died, and since then he knows I've had to sort out stuff with her funeral and ceremonies and induction into the Fey Council and stuff…

He did know, right?

Yes, he did. I called him a week ago. He seemed OK then.

He's gotta be at the noodle place. It's pretty early, actually. Maybe he isn't out of bed.

Yeah. I stop knocking, and sigh.

Maybe he's getting the paper.

Of course, he's not in there ignoring me. 'Course not.

I sit down against the wall and make myself comfortable. I have to wait for him. I have to wait for him to get back.

So I wait.

Then there's the sound of a key in a lock, the doorknob clicks, and Nick walks out of the office. Then he sees me sitting on the floor with my legs drawn up. I probably look idiotic, wearing this official Master's kimono and all.

"Wha-" he says in shock, "Maya!"

I peek out from behind my hair and grin at him, relieved that he hadn't known –

"I thought you'd gone already," he says with his teeth gritted together, running a hand through his hair. He's looking very rumpled, I notice through detached eyes. No badge. He's got on an old hoodie over his blue trousers, and he's wearing a pair of comfy sandals in place of smart black shoes.

"What?" I say, stunned.

"...needed to wait for you to go so I can go buy groceries…." I hear him mumble.

I get to my feet, puffing up my cheeks angrily. "Phoenix Wright, were you ignoring me?"

"Yes," he says calmly, and I stare at him in disbelief. Nick, my friend, my best friend, the person who risked both his reputation and his life for me...the person most important to me in the world…is standing there, right in front of me. But Nick wouldn't say…that…

His face hardens. "Yes, Miss Fey, I was ignoring you. It's because…" and he pauses now and turns his head away, and I don't know why, but when he turns back his face is set and determined. "I do not wish to speak to you. I do not wish to speak to you ever again."

I let the air out of my cheeks and brush my hair out of my eyes. Then I straighten my clothes, roll up my sleeves and slap him hard across the side of the face, and open my mouth to tell him to wake up, look up and see who's talking to him, or stop the joke, it's not funny! He's turned his head away so I can't see his eyes, and there's this weird grim smile on his face. It doesn't look like I hurt him at all. He looks like nothing will ever hurt him again.

"I'm surprised you're so upset, Miss Fey."

He's talking like a stranger. Yeah, it's Nick's voice, but it's not Nick talking.

"I mean, what with the revelation to everyone…about my true nature and all that…"

I stay silent. I can feel the tears at the corners of my eyes already. Such an embarrassing habit, and I always do it in front of him…

"I'm surprised you even came to visit! Get out, Maya." His head snaps around, and he's glaring at me with those navy eyes of his in that familiar face with the jaggy eyebrows and strong jaw, the spiky black hair, and I can tell he's just suffered through something that's ruined his life and it'll never really heal, not really. He's going to cover it up and hide the shame and just bear it because that's what he does. I should know. I know better than anyone else. And he's determined. He's determined to win this and see this through, this charade of his, no matter what he has to do. No matter what…

But what hurt him so badly? Who? How?

"Maya, for your own good, I want you to leave right now," he snaps, sounding almost normal for a second. "After all, you don't want to be seen with Phoenix Wright, who fooled everyone with the pretense of an honest face for three years. Not the guy who forged that evidence in the big Gramarye case! Your village is starting to attract visitors again, I hear. You don't want to spoil that by spending time with a low, devious scoundrel who made it big on trickery."

I keep my face perfectly still throughout his rant. When he's finished, he checks my face for a reaction.

He…what?

"Forged?" I ask.

He looks surprised. "You didn't see any of the news? I was all over the headlines…"

"Nope. I was too busy getting here to buy a paper. What happened? Did you win a case?"

"No. I lost it," he says savagely. "I requested for a piece of evidence to be forged that would win me the trial. I got caught out by some rookie prosecutor. And now, I'm not a lawyer anymore. So, here I am, Phoenix Wright, the Forgin' Attorney whose true colours have been revealed at last. Do you understand?!"

By the end he's almost pleading with me.

"You're not a lawyer…not a lawyer anymore? Because you...forged evidence?"

For a second, a spasm of utter shock, disbelief, confusion, reluctance to accept the facts, and finally acknowledgment courses through my head. Nick is a lawyer. This is one of the fundamental facts of the universe.

But the guy standing in front of me isn't Nick the lawyer.

"Do you understand me?" he repeats.

Put a brave face on…

"No," I say. "No, I don't. And I don't believe you forged anything, either."

"Don't you?" he says, turning his head away again.

"Come on!" I sigh in exasperation. "You've never forged any evidence in your life! I've been with you for most of the cases of your career, and besides, you're too honest to cheat in court. Sis told me you were really beating yourself up about the Engarde trial."

"Maya, I'm telling you-"

"I know you, Nick. You're trying to protect me! Oh, and being bitter and resentful too, but you're also trying to protect me."

He's got his deadpan face on.

"You said it yourself, that I shouldn't hang around you," I explain. "And that's not because you've randomly decided to hate me. Your true, evil self hasn't mysteriously come to the surface. You're trying to protect my image!"

"Protecting you?" he says savagely. "Protecting people…I'm done with that. I'll never be able to protect anyone ever again!"

"Of all the stupid things to do!" I continue loudly. "Stop giving up stuff for me, Nick! It's getting on my nerves, first with the Engarde case, then the Hazakura Temple thing-"

Suddenly a voice issues from another office across the hallway. "Excuse me, could you people please take the lover's tiff somewhere else? We're trying to work in here!"

"Shut up yourself!" I yell back, and stick my tongue out at the door.

I turn back to Nick and there's this expression of utter tenderness and pain on his face, which he quickly replaces with a glare.

"But there's something different about this time," I continue forcefully. "Right now, I'm not going to take it. Because I refuse to let you insult me, pretend to hate me and send me back to Kurain because it hurts both of us too deeply and doesn't do you any good!"

There's silence.

"Why couldn't you have left earlier?" he whispers. "When I wasn't opening the door for you…that would have been so much easier…"

"I would have come back," I assure him. "I'm always going to come back."

"I don't want you to," he lies. "I don't want…"

"I've relied on you for too long, Nick," I say steadily. "But no one has ever given you a shoulder to cry on. You've spent too long protecting people. Now I'm going to protect you."

"But-" he says.

"NO 'Buts'! Hah, Butz!"

"Maya…What about Kurain?"

"We'll manage," I say quietly. "I won't be seen with you if you think that won't work."

He nods, relieved.

"But I'm sending you cash every month. And I'm paying for the office rent."

"The office?" he said in surprise. "But…"

"You never know when an office might come in handy," I grin. "On one condition; You write me reports of each new Samurai episode as it comes out. I'll be busy as Master – and I'm not giving up on my Steel Samurai just for that!"

We look at each other for a moment, the people who know each other best in the world. I look up at him, and no, it's not Nick the lawyer, it's someone new…but still the same guy underneath and it always will be, because he's an attorney to the core whether he's got a badge or not.

I realise that I'm crying. I smile through the tears, and stand up on tiptoe to kiss him on his stubbly, hollow cheek.

The door from the other office bursts open, and out walks a young man, a younger woman trailing behind him. The guy sports a shiny, new yellow badge on his collar. An attorney's badge. I'd wager a guess that the lady behind him is his assistant. She'd sidebar with him, find the crucial piece of evidence, stand in the way of an insane prosecutor with a stun gun for him…

But, no…that's not who we are anymore.

I take Nick's hand. We'll cry over the badge in private. For the things we've lost, for the people we aren't anymore. I look up at his face, to see that he's crying too.

The young lawyer and his assistant are giving us weird looks. Nick grins and waves. Their mouths drop open, in recognition perhaps of the famous Phoenix Wright, but I'm already dragging him into the office.

We're not the people we used to be. We've lost a lot of stuff we used to take for granted.

But there's always hope in a new beginning.

And I can just see it. The start of a new story…of a new chapter…of a new beginning…

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CUE APOLLO JUSTICE PURSUIT THEME 8D

This was written late at night. I'm not sure Nick and Maya are in character or if any of this is logical.

Yep, this is my third story dealing with the loss of Phoenix's badge, simply because I find that event really interesting and how he dealt with it. Also, Maya is awesome fun to write. This is my first time writing her - my other two fics deal with Mia and Edgey's reactions to the disbarring.

I hope you liked it ~