30 Nov 2026
I can barely begin to detail the questionable decisions and acts I've taken this year in the heights of my obsession. But I've just decided the best thing I can do for everyone now is just move on. Because now I CAN move on.
01 Jan 2027
I get down on my knees and take her hand.
"Maya," I begin nervously, "can we be partners again? I won't ever leave you this time. Not unless you want me to. 'Til death do us part." (I'm babbling now.) "No, actually if that happens, you can channel me. We can write letters. I don't know how channelling works, but I'm sure I'll come whenever you call…"
Maya seems to find the concept of channelling me hilarious. "W-what would I look like?" she gasps with mirth.
"I'm sure I can take a photo."
Her eyes become serious, then fill with tears. "Nick…"
I'd spoken to Pearl about Fey Clan protocols. As I'd suspected, it was the females who were supposed to make the engagement proposals – particularly in the case of someone as high ranking as the Master. Pearl implored it didn't matter and excitedly demanded I just whisk Maya away for a fairytale wedding, but I'm not sure either of us want that. Particularly since I was such a jerk making her wait all these years. I'm not going to pressure her into anything, she can propose only if or when she wants to.
But I did obtain something to sweeten the deal.
"I have a gift."
Pearl let me in on this tip. It's apparently semi-traditional to give the prospective love interest an amethyst or some other stone- the one in Misty's staff was supposedly a gift from Maya's father. It took me days to find it and dig it up, and even longer to get the money to get it cut and polished, but my finances are better since I recently managed to kick the grape juice habit. It must really be a tradition, since Sister Bikini actually didn't think I was insane when I explained what I was there to do.
Maya's eyes light up.
"Nick! You remembered!"
She admires the shiny surface adoringly, then reverently sets it down, turning her attention back to me. She takes my hand in hers.
"Partners," she breathes.
Then she flings her arms around me, and we reel backwards into an embrace and entanglement of limbs, lips and skin, pressed as tight as we can muster, and I feel like I'll never want to let her go.
Maya: Oh, Nick! I knew you would come through!
Maya: You got Engarde convicted, like I knew you would...
Maya: And on top of that, you even rescued me!
Phoenix: Well, of course I did! You know I would never desert you!