Author's Notes: This story takes place the evening of the epilogue of Turnabout Catalyst which you can find right here – www. fanfiction .net/ s/ 6707994/ 1/ Turnabout_Catalyst
It's not necessarily required reading, but it certainly helps set the stage. No, this isn't a sequel, just a fun little oneshot to tack on to the original. Enjoy.
Cold air invaded the steamy, warm bathroom as Maya opened the door after her shower. She wiggled her bare feet on the hall's fuzzy carpet; something Fey Manor was sorely lacking. Though to its credit it had far better water pressure than Phoenix's apartment.
The Master of Kurain silently trod her way in the dark toward her destination but something caught her eye first. The door to the stairs was open. She would not even have noticed had the door at the bottom of the steps not been encircled by a slight halo of light around the edges. The light was on downstairs in the office, or rather "talent agency." Maya wondered to herself if they had simply forgotten to turn it off before heading to bed, if Apollo left it on when he headed for home... or if someone had broken in.
She tugged her loosely wrapped obi taught, keeping her robes together. If it did turn out to be burglars, the last thing she wanted was to fall out of her clothes. Ironically, that had been the first thing she wanted when she was planning to just crawl in to bed with Phoenix. Just a quick peek for safety's sake and then she'd be under those covers, she told herself.
With all the stealth of the Yatagarasu and none of the loud boasting she slowly turned the doorknob. Pushing just enough to see through the crack she winced as the door let out a squeak. Sure enough, that was exactly what it took to gain the attention of the person seated on the floor of the office. The two people only stared at each other for a short time before the culprit spoke up.
Maya opened the door fully and stepped in to the old office.
"Trucy," she whispered as she shut the door again, "I thought you were in bed."
"I thought you were too," the teenager, clad in light blue pajamas with a white dove print, confessed while rising to her feet. "Shouldn't you be in bed with Daddy?"
Maya had often heard from Phoenix how blunt his daughter could be. He had not lied. "I just came down to see why the light was on," she replied. She crossed her arms and shifted her weight to one side. "And I don't think I'm the one with the curfew here."
Trucy gasped over a sudden smile. "You're already acting like my new mommy!"
Maya paled slightly at the sudden description. "What are you doing down here anyway?" she asked, gesturing to the items strewn around on the floor around where Trucy had been seated.
The girl shrank down slightly. "Well... in all the excitement today I kinda forgot to do a project for school tomorrow. I'm supposed to make a visual representation of a system of government for social studies."
Maya held her robes closed and knelt down on the floor. She rummaged through Trucy's supplies consisting of a shoebox, glue, construction paper, scissors, and a few other arts and crafts necessities. She looked back to Trucy and asked, "There's a government run by paper-mache shoes?"
"Um, it's... going to be a shoebox diorama," Trucy explained with a mixture of confusion and slight shame.
"I guess that makes more sense. But you're just now getting started?"
The magician nodded guiltily.
Maya turned her head up to give smarmy eyebrows to the girl standing over her. "You know, I'm a teacher myself and my acolytes try to get away with things like this all the time."
Trucy's shoulders slouched.
"Which is why it's totally cheating when I help you out, so get down here and let's get shoeboxing."
Trucy's face lit back up. "Really? Thank you, Miss Maya!" She instinctively flung herself on Maya in a hug and snatched up construction paper.
Maya rubbed her palms together in a gesture of preparing for work. "So, what government are we representing?"
"Um... I was thinking Kurain?"
Maya looked at her in surprise. "But... you didn't even know me before this morning. How long have you had to work on this project?"
The medium laughed. "Yes, just like my little girls."
Trucy firmly planted her fists on her hips. "Hey, I just happened to make a poor decision. I'm a grown woman now."
"Yeah, a fully grown teenager making a shoebox diorama," Maya ribbed, nudging the girl with her elbow. "You're just lucky I happen to be the foremost knowledge on Kurain Village. So what's your plan?"
"Well, I was thinking about using Mr. Hat as a distraction and running out of the classroom."
Maya paused a beat and blinked disbelievingly at Trucy. "Okay, my acolytes haven't tried that one yet. Still, you have plenty of stuff here. You must have had something in mind."
Trucy absentmindedly thumbed through her different colors of paper. "Daddy always said pressure makes diamonds, so I thought my deadline could crush all this stuff together for me."
Maya leaned forward. "Nick, er, your dad lived by that rule back in the day. He'd always just squeak by with some game changing win in the last seconds."
"Then I need to carry on the legacy!" Trucy decided. She snatched up her scissors and began cutting out person-like shapes, although she was not sure to what end. "Didn't Daddy ever have any easy cases?" she asked as she cut.
"Not really. He was a lot more high strung than he is now, that's for sure. He just cared so much about all of his clients I think he took the evidence against them personally."
"He defended you too once, right?"
Maya idly watched Trucy's hands working as she commented under her breath, "More than once..."
"Hmm?" Trucy asked, not hearing a word.
"Green people?" Maya replied.
"You're cutting out green people."
Trucy stopped to see what she was doing. "Oh, um, they're the spirits! You know, green, like the magatama thingie."
"Actually, mine's amber," Maya corrected. "Or it was, I wear the Master's talisman now. Magatamas come in all sorts of different colors."
Trucy huffed and stuck her lip out in a pout. "Well I don't have time to cut all those out." She lifted her finger in to the air in a stroke of brilliance. "My magic scarf! It's all sorts of colors and... and I can puff up each section to look like a ghost!"
"What did I tell you? Just like a Wright," Maya complimented. "Here, I'll hold the box still and you glue that sucker in there."
The excitement fell from Trucy's face. "Wait, I can't glue my magic scarf in there. It would ruin it! I need it for my act!" In her pajamas Trucy was forced to tip an imaginary hat as she explained, "I pull it out of my magic panties. Six feet of scarf attached to a car tire!"
Maya dropped the shoebox. "How do you fit a tire in a pair of panties?"
"Magic!" Trucy proclaimed with a flourish. She then dropped the act and clutched at her head. "Ugh, but how am I gonna magic up a diorama before tomorrow? I'm doomed!"
"Also just like a Wright," Maya muttered. She moved to Trucy and laid a hand on her shoulder. "You know, my sister had a saying for times like this."
Maya nodded. "She was your dad's mentor. Her name was Mia."
"I think Daddy's mentioned her. Was she pretty like you, Miss Maya?"
Maya coughed slightly. "You have no idea. The point is, whenever he was stuck she would always tell Nick to 'turn things around.'"
Trucy cocked her head. "But if the tire comes out first there's no build up."
"No, no, you told me you just needed a 'visual representation.' Does it have to be a diorama?"
Trucy dashed to the piano and found her scarf. "That's brilliant, Miss Maya! I can just use the scarf itself! You're so smart. I bet you were the real brains behind Daddy's career."
Maya chuckled. "Well, it takes a few years before you start putting all the pieces together like that. Don't sell yourself short. I'm pretty sure Polly would be dead in the water without you."
"But why multicolored spirits for Kurain's government?"
Trucy just stood and stared at Maya with her scarf dangling limply from her hands.
"We revere our ancestors but the dead don't actually control anything," the Master explained. "It's just me and a circle of elders, really."
"Oh... Um, are they color coded?"
Maya chuckled. "Not really. Some get red in the face when I have new ideas, though."
"I can use that!" Trucy decided.
"Angry elders? Finally, they're good for something."
"No, not them, Miss Maya."
"Oh good, there's a couple I'd hate to think are actually useful."
Trucy frowned. "Are they really that bad?"
Maya chuckled and took a seat on the couch. "No, I'm just being mean. Well, some were, but things have smoothed out now. Anyway, what is it you were going to use?"
"Oh, I can use your new ideas! I can display a before and after of the changes!"
Maya pointed at the girl. "That's good! Let's start with the big one I wanted to make first: the selection of the Master herself."
Trucy quickly scrambled around looking for a pen and paper to jot down notes. Without her magic panties at her disposal she was like most girls missing their purse.
Once she saw the magician was ready, Maya started. "See, I wasn't chosen to be Master. I didn't really have any qualifications and I thought that was a problem. Other people did too... like my aunt or a couple of elders. The point is, I thought a new system would placate a few concerns."
"What was the old system?" Trucy asked, writing away.
"From mother to daughter... like royalty sort of."
Trucy stopped writing and looked up with a massive grin on her face. "Daddy's marrying a princess?"
Maya stumbled over her tongue. "N-no, I'm not actually royalty. I just said it was like... wh-who said anything about marriage?"
"Oh come on, Miss Maya. How long have you known Daddy?"
"Well, about ten years now but..."
"And you still aren't married?"
"Well, these past seven years have been kinda..."
"But now you're back together! It's the story of love conquering all, just like in the movies! I bet it was love at first sight, wasn't it?"
Maya exhaled through her teeth and tucked a strand of hair, still damp from the shower, behind her ear. "...Not really."
"Why? Was Daddy blind when he was younger?"
Maya chuckled in spite of herself. "No, it just wasn't a very romantic moment. Um, let's get back to your homework."
"In a minute," Trucy promised. "I want to hear how you and Daddy met!"
Maya tensed slightly, tossing an inadvertent glance at the office window; the same one she had been under the very moment she met Phoenix.
"Oh, it's another secret, isn't it?" Trucy asked quietly. As always, she read others' tension with ease. Relenting, she picked her notes back up.
Maya looked back to the girl and locked eyes with her, suddenly gravely serious. "No. No more secrets," she decided. She took a deep breath and readied herself. "When Nick, your dad, first saw me... how can I say this? I... I was a complete wreck sobbing over my sister's body." She frowned at her wording but there really was no better way to describe such a scene.
The teenager's hand covered her mouth. "Y-you mean Mia?"
Maya nodded. "He walked in to this office and found his friend and mentor dead and some strange girl crying her eyes out. Then he watched as the police led that girl away as the culprit."
"You? But you didn't... he'd never let that happen. He defended you, right?"
Maya smiled slightly, nodding her head fondly. "Whether I wanted him to or not... and he never stopped. But no, no love at first sight. I guess fate sealed the deal that day but we were just friends for a long time."
"I'm so sorry, Miss Maya. I shouldn't have asked."
Maya shook her head. "It's okay, Trucy. It was a long time ago. Like I said, Nick and I are done keeping secrets from you. I don't ever want to do that again."
"Not even what my Christmas presents are?" Trucy asked hopefully.
Maya chuckled. "Okay, maybe a few secrets still."
"Now can we get back to your homework?"
Trucy looked down at her meager notes and sighed. "I guess. So you said your title was passed from mother to daughter?"
The older woman nodded. "Yep. ESP runs in the Fey bloodline reaching all the way back to Mystic Ami Fey, the founder of our school and the woman who made the village what it is today."
"So she's like your great great great great, um, lots of greats grandmother?"
"A great something-or-other, at least. Honestly I never kept up with all that. All those old traditions and ancient beliefs were why I was forced in to the title of Master in the first place."
Trucy cocked her head. "You don't want to be Master?"
Maya gave the girl a reassuring smile. "It's not so bad. It's more that I just never wanted to be. All the infighting among relatives brought a lot of pain and sorrow, is all." Maya leaned back in her seat. "Kurain wasn't always what it is today, Truce."
The magician's brow creased. "Like with my other Daddy and Uncle Valant..."
"Competition isn't always healthy. That's part of why my sister left the mountain. She didn't want to fight with me over the title... never mind I'd have let her have it."
"But isn't Kurain doing really well? I think you're a great Master! Your mom must have thought so too or she'd have never given you the title!"
There was an uncomfortable pause that gave Trucy just the time she needed to read Maya's uncertainty. The young magician furrowed her brow with concern.
"Miss Maya, did I say something wrong again?" she asked.
"No, no," Maya insisted. "It's just... Masters serve for life."
"So?" Shortly after the word left Trucy's lips, the light bulb clicked on in her head. "...Oh."
Maya absentmindedly picked up Trucy's bottle of glue and turned it over in her hands as she spoke. "That was a long time ago too, Trucy. Believe it or not, I never even really knew my mom until after she died. So... you're kind of right." She smiled reflectively. "She really is proud of me."
Maya's smile faded as she noticed Trucy's concentration on the pencil she had been using for her notes. It seemed the teenager had also found something to idly play with while her mind was elsewhere.
"Trucy?" Maya asked.
The girl looked up with worried determination plain on her face. "M-Miss Maya, can I ask you something?"
"Um, I don't know how this works really, but, um, do you think you could you channel my Mommy?"
"I... kinda want to know if she's proud of me too."
Maya just sat in place. Sudden anxiety sped her heart rate. She had forgotten there was still one more secret lingering from the seven year ordeal. Phoenix had spearheaded everything. Thalassa was still Trucy's biological mother. Maya was only a peripherally involved outsider and had no right to divulge anything.
"You're doing it again, Miss Maya," Trucy pointed out.
"Huh? Doing what?"
"Whenever I ask about the past, you clutch at your necklace."
Maya looked down to see she was doing exactly that. She had not even noticed but apparently she had been doing it the entire conversation. Phoenix was right. Lying to the girl was all but impossible.
"You know something, don't you?" Trucy asked. The question was not an accusation but that fact did little to calm Maya's worries.
"Nick told me about your mom," Maya started, wondering just where she would go with this. "She disappeared, didn't she?"
"That's what Grandpa Magnifi told me when I was a little girl... but I'm old enough now to know what really happened. I know my Mommy's really dead."
Maya swallowed. "Don't give up hope, Trucy. There's something else I should tell you about my mother."
Trucy remained quiet and waited for Maya to continue.
"My mom left Kurain and just disappeared too when I was only two years old. She didn't show back up until I was nineteen. That... was when she died."
"Like my Daddy," Trucy whispered. "But I never even got to see him again when he came back..."
"I didn't even know that woman I met was my mother was until after she was already dead," Maya added, placing a hand on Trucy's shoulder. "I know what you're feeling. We have to stick together, Truce. I know your mom's out there."
"Are you sure?"
Maya nodded, offering a smile. "I remember when Nick asked me to channel her to ask her a few questions way back when. I couldn't do it. I thought maybe I just couldn't find her or I didn't have enough power, but you know what? I think she's still alive."
"Do you really think so?"
"Then... then why didn't she come back? I was told she got lost in the middle of a disappearing act. I mean, I believe in magic but I know that's not what happened. Why wouldn't she come back?"
The pleading in Trucy's eyes twisted Maya's heart. In that single instant the medium understood every ounce of bitterness and self loathing Phoenix had expressed over the past seven years. How he could constantly lie about matters like this to those eyes and not lose every scrap of himself was beyond her.
"I'm sure she has some reason," Maya offered.
Trucy looked down to her notes without reading them. "Just like how you and Daddy had a reason?"
"...Maybe." Maya's answer turned bitter in her mouth. She had been a secret to protect her from Kristoph. Thalassa was a secret simply because the woman was afraid, just like Misty Fey. History had a bad habit of repeating itself.
"But you're here now, Daddy's not a bad guy any more, Mr. Gavin is in prison..." Trucy looked back up. "Why can't my real Mommy reappear?"
Maya gave a sympathetic sigh and opened her arms. She could think of no other answer to a question like that. Once Trucy had accepted the hug she said, "You still have Nick, Trucy. If there's one thing I know about him, it's that he'll never let you down. Not ever."
Trucy leaned the rest of her weight on Maya, giving only a moment's thought to the fact she was pouring out her guts to a woman she had known not even an entire day. It was clear to her why her father loved this Maya so much. She was just warm and comforting; exactly what both of the Wrights needed.
The girl pulled out of the embrace to speak. "And I have Polly too, even if he is kinda loud... a-and you too, right?"
"Definitely. Even if I was a secret before this morning, we were still family."
A smile broke Trucy's former pensiveness. "Then... then maybe you're wrong."
"Wrong about what?"
"You said my Mommy was still out there... but I think you're right here."
"Don't you want to be my Mommy?"
There was the question. Maya looked to the girl's expectant and worried expression and replied, "It's not that, Trucy. It's just... your dad and I haven't really had the fastest relationship. Everyone's sort of pushed us along or forced us apart and we, well, we just have to go at our own pace for once."
"I still don't understand. I've never seen Daddy as happy as he was today."
"Well, he did just get his name cleared..."
Trucy planted her fists on her hips. "Yeah, but I didn't see him making out with Polly for that. He loves you, Miss Maya, and he wants you to marry him!"
Maya chuckled under her breath. "I'll let him ask me first, okay?"
The young magician thought this over. "Okay, I guess that is the rules... technically. Don't worry, I'll make sure he asks soon and I'll work extra hard so he can afford to buy you the best ring you've ever seen!"
The spirit medium shook her head. "You and Pearly are going to be best friends..."
"Oh yeah, you mentioned her! Tell me about her too!"
Maya sighed. "Alright, if I'm going to be a stand-in mom, then I'm going to have to get us back on track here."
"Huh?" Trucy blundered. She followed Maya's eyes down to the unfinished project on the floor. "Ack! My homework!" She quickly pressed her pencil to her notepad, promptly snapping off the tip.
Somewhat amused, Maya felt around in the deep pockets of her outer robes before producing another pencil for the girl to use. "Now where were we? The selection process, right?"
"Um... yeah," Trucy agreed. It was a guess at best considering her notepad had all of two sentences on it. She would never be able to concentrate on her schoolwork now anyway.
Maya brought he hand to her chin in thought. "Let's see... with the new system, the Master grooms someone to replace them with the approval and aid of the circle of elders."
"Do you have anyone yet?" Trucy fidgeted slightly. "Does she have to have ESP like you or... could anyone do it?"
Maya smirked. "Sorry, kiddo, Fey blood is a requirement."
"B-but when you and Daddy do get married I'll be directly descended from the great Maya Fey!"
Maya's smirk turned in to a chuckle. It seemed Trucy was a master in her own right: the master of getting off topic. "Sorry, Trucy, but I've already picked my little cousin."
Trucy's lip stuck out in a pout. "So not fair. That's Pearl, right?"
With a nod Maya replied, "That's right. Hopefully it won't be long before you meet her too."
"You said she's a year older than me?"
"Yep, sweet 16."
Trucy smiled brightly. "That means she's old enough to drive! We can go on road trips!"
Maya stifled laughter, imagining Phoenix's reaction to the idea of letting the girls run off on their own. "Ask your dad..." she suggested, suddenly feeling more and more like the mother she was described as being.
Trucy crossed her arms and frowned off to the side. "He'll just say 'no.'"
A warm smile crept on to Maya's face. "Don't worry, I was always a bad influence on him," she consoled. After a short pause she added, "He's really protective, isn't he?"
"Ugh, it's so embarrassing. Daddy won't even let me wear lipstick!"
Maya snickered. "Nick just really cares a lot about the people he loves, Trucy. Did he ever tell you about the time he fell 40 feet in to a raging river in the mountains in February trying to cross a burning bridge to get to me?"
Trucy looked shocked then immediately fell in to disbelief. "Nuh uh!" she declared.
"Cross my heart," Maya rebutted, making that very symbol over her chest. "It's just the way he is, Truce. I wouldn't change that big dork for all the burgers in the world."
Trucy placed her finger to her mouth in thought. "So I can just come to you for permission then?" She grinned broadly. "Can I wear lipstick to school tomorrow, Miss Maya?"
A much deeper voice answered, "You most certainly may not, young lady."
The two women in the office turned their head to the stairwell door. Phoenix in his boxers and loosely fitting shirt stood in place, leaning against the door frame. He glanced accusingly at Maya yet his disposition seemed more than tolerant.
"Nick, just how long have you been standing there?" the medium demanded.
"Long enough to hear you telling stories about me." Phoenix turned to his daughter with a smug expression plastered on his face. "Trucy, did I ever tell you about the time Maya tried to get the fire department to spray her down with their hoses so she could train?"
"And they just yelled at me," Maya muttered. She reacted with a start. "H-hey! You told me to!"
Laughing, Phoenix walked in to the room. "What are you girls doing up this late? It's another day tomorrow."
Trucy gasped. "Oh no! We never did finish my project!"
"What project?" Phoenix asked suspiciously.
"We need to make a visual representation of Kurain's government for her social studies class," Maya confessed.
Phoenix shrugged sleepily. "Not tonight you don't."
"But, Daddy, I'll flunk the assignment!" Trucy pleaded.
Her father smiled down at her and put his hand on Maya's shoulder. "What are you talking about? You've got show and tell right here."
Trucy cocked her head.
"What better 'visual representation' than the Master herself?" Phoenix suggested. "Just bring her back when you're done, alright? I've kind of grown attached."
"Daddy, that's genius!"
"What did I tell you?" Maya asked. "Game changing win in the last seconds."
Phoenix took the hand that was on Maya's shoulder and wrapped it around her, pulling her into him. "As much as I'd love to listen to Maya actually compliment me for a change, think we can all go to bed now? Both my girls have school in the morning now."
Trucy relented with a sigh. "Okay, I guess..." She turned her cheek and accepted the kiss goodnight her father offered.
Maya poked him in the side. "Hey, old man, where's mine?"
The former lawyer turned his head and met Maya's lips with his, lingering for a moment. At the same time the pair broke the kiss they turned their heads to see a grinning Trucy.
"So does this mean I'm getting a real brother soon? Not just Apollo?" the teen asked excitedly.
Phoenix's brow lowered. He and Maya looked to each other. "Bedtime," they ordered in unison.
Trucy sighed again. "Alright, alright. Night, Daddy. Night, Miss Maya." With that she gave both adults a hug and headed upstairs.
Maya waited until Trucy was out of earshot before looking back to her boyfriend. "You know, we could always tell her Polly is a real brother."
"Eventually. I think you're a big enough shock for right now."
"I dunno," Maya said with a shrug. "She seems to be taking to me faster than I can handle... and giving her the idea I'd be Apollo's step-mom is hilarious to me for some reason."
Phoenix's laugh escaped before he could suppress it. "That kid is pretty fun to mess with, isn't he?"
Maya grinned and nodded with enthusiasm. "I can't believe I've been missing out on that this whole time!"
Phoenix smiled back at her and began leading her to the stairwell with her still tucked under his arm. "Well, there will be plenty of time for that tomorrow. C'mon, I'm exhausted."
"Me too. Hey, what are you doing awake anyway? I thought we were pretty quiet down here."
"I rolled over and noticed my bed was empty. Thought maybe you forgot you don't have to sneak out in the middle of the night anymore."
"No, just trying to help with her homework... and mostly we just got off topic."
"Yeah, she's almost as good at that as you are."
Maya puffed her cheeks in mock annoyance. "So much for romance, you big jerk. But at least you saved the day again. When did you get so good at being a dad?"
Phoenix chuckled roughly. "This morning, when I brought my daughter home the surprise she's been wanting for seven years."
Maya took her finger and poked Phoenix in the ribs once more. "I believe you mean 'our' daughter," she corrected.
Phoenix smiled blissfully up the steps with Maya at his side. "Yeah... Our daughter."