HAPPY PHOENIX/MAYA DAY! September 5

Which is also it seems, Phoenix officially gets his lawyer badge back day :) GS5 leak/announce. Finally, there is still some justice in the universe...

So I wrote a fic to commemorate P/M Day, it's a bit unpolished but I had a deadline obviously. It's NOT in the same timeline of any of my other fics...


[KURAIN] - [Sometime After GS4...]

MAYA:

"So that was how I got them to give me a free refund burger," I finish my breathless explanation into the phone.

"Uh huh," replies Nick politely. He seems distracted.

"Yeah. I owe you for teaching me all that finger pointing... So!" My eyes wander vacantly to my TV screen. "Oh wait, it was Valentines Day yesterday! Did you... get anything?"

Nah, he wouldn't have. Unless Pearly sent him something from 'me' again. I think she finally gave up last year...

Some sick trepidation lurches somewhere in my stomach, on the other side from the burger. He better not have!

Wait, why do you care?

But of course I do. I can stand the fact we're just best friends for life, with nothing romantic about it, and Nick forever just a single loser, but I can't...

"Um, well..."

I think my palm is sweating!

"...no, I didn't. Did YOU, Maya?"

"Of course not! You know it's like, the tradition the girls give out the presents, and anyway, there are, like NO men in Kurain?" I realise I'm sounding defensive, which is stupid, so I change tack. "I should have known and sent you something - I mean - a FRIEND -ship chocolate or something... remember the year I gave you a life sized chocolate statue?"

"That I do."

Yeah, it wasn't so awkward then. We were that close... and even Mr Edgeworth helped out! To be honest, I don't know what Nick would think these days, it's a bigger deal living so far apart and all. So I just ignored the whole deal this year and forgot about it till now, now they're playing the Classic Pink PrincessValentines Episode as we speak.

"Yeah, I'm just a loser..."

"I know... no. Hey, wait! Don't be so down on yourself!" He sounds so mournful."You haven't been rejected or something, have you?"

"No, no, not that way anyway. It just seems like, all the women I come into contact with end up letting me down, like, they try to murder me, or abandon me, or just don't take any initiative at all. Like I spend years trying to track down Trucy's mother, and in the end, she won't even reveal herself to the kids, let alone offer to contribute some funds or something... goes without saying she showed no interest in me, but that's only to be expected..." He pauses. "Well.. I guess YOU've never let me down, Maya..."

"Of course I haven't! And I'm going to come over RIGHT NOW and give you a hug to make you feel better! Wait for me!"

"Now? Wait, you are in Kurain right now aren't you?"

"I'm running out the door as we speak *pant*. Should... make.. next... train..." It's harder to run while talking on my phone. "Well... I'll talk to you soon, got to... run..."

"Maya, you..."

I end the call. The gravelly-dirt road and scrubby little bushes fly by...

Wait, did I even bring money?

Well, too late to turn back now! I bound up the rickety steps to the hewn platform, which only fits about two carriages of the length of the train, and

...ARGHHH! The train doors are closing!

They clamp shut on a strand of my hair, which flings out ahead of me while I'm throwing myself in their direction.

"OWWWWWWWWWW!"

Some door alarm goes off, and the doors have to re-open.

Saved! I lurch hastily inside and flop thankfully into a seat. I'm starving after all that exercise. First thing when I get to the city: Nick will have to buy me an emergency burger at the station...

"Status update: I'm on the train!" I hit SEND.

I wait as long as I can bear, which seems like forever but might really be thirty seconds.

"Niiick, where ARE you?"

Don't tell me he's used up his phone bill and can't reply.

Trucy's mother has some nerve, not making a donation! I'd never treat them that way!

...I mean, um, symbolically speaking of course, of course Nick buys me stuff... ehehe...

"Never mind, I'll tell you when I arrive"

So I gaze absently out the window and start thinking about what we said. Y... you know, that part where he talks about women all letting him down. It made me feel uneasy for some reason. We just, DON'T discuss romantic interests, it's too weird. Nick is MINE! Um, I... I always thought of it that way anyway... w-why would he need anyone else? I know I feel that way! I'm just not interested in anyone else, why, when I have Nick, why would I need them? They just, would never compare to Nick... And y-yeah, okay it's not like when we had the law office, but deep down, I still feel that way. B-but. But I guess Nick doesn't. Secretly, I always assumed he didn't. But as long as he was a single loser, it didn't really matter...

Wait, he CARED that Trucy's celebrity mother didn't exactly hit on him? He must be desperate, isn't she way too old? Like, she's a lot older old than Nick than Nick is older than me! And Nick is 'old', but not Old! And...

Damn it, this is troubling. And we've barely pulled out of the first tedious little station, there's almost 1 and a half hours to go! So I decide I've got to think of something better, fast!

During that time, I close my eyes and try to distract myself with a lovely daydream. Nick is there, and he gives me a burger! And a steak, and another burger, and some ramen, and some steak ramen and a ramen burger... In fact, he puts them right in my mouth, with his own hands! Then Nick takes a bite of ramen burger, and I grab the other end of the ramen in my teeth and start eating, and we meet in the middle and...

Argh... WHAT am I thinking?

Wait, it's okay, it's not like anyone else can see inside my own head, like Nick can't, for instance... It's like a private TV show, all fake, okay? Y..yeah! So what happens next? S-something that wouldn't probably happen in real life, no, of course I wouldn't want to do that! -but it plays out like one of my favourite Samurai Romance movies, where they have that scene of passion then suddenly fade out, I've never really kissed anyone, but it happens all the time on those movies, so I use my imagination, and then...

I've kind of dozed off, and the dream has kinda gone places I don't want to talk about... I'm pretty creeped out actually. I NEVER think things like that when I'm awake, ever, okay?

But it was fun. I feel myself grinning to myself. And we're almost there, the boring wait is over! I sprint to the end carriage, get out the very last door, and duck behind one of those power generator thingies. I don't have a ticket, remember? When I'm sure nobody is looking, I jump a fence, slink along next to the tracks and crawl doggedly through the drainage pipe this ninja friend of Mr Edgeworth's once showed me - good thing I'm small!

I'm coming, Nick!

Damn, I was so caught up with my, um, dream, I forgot to message him again, were we meeting at the station or should I go to his dumpy 'office'? I'd better check. "Nick Im here" I text hastily, making for the ticketing area.

Sure enough, I see him peering thorough the gates at the now almost-vacant station, a small, forlorn and alone figure. The security guards are staring pointedly at him and beginning to mutter. He looks even worse than usual because his hair has finally poked huge holes in that dumb hat he wears. I smile to myself at the sight, then launch myself and tackle him from behind.

"NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!"

I clamp my arms around him as tightly as I can.

"AaAAAAAAAA!"

"I've come to save you!"

"MayaAAA!"

"Turn around!"

"Can't... move!

I release my grip and he whips round.

"I'm HERE now!" I throw my arms back around him.

"Th..thanks!" he gasps. I feel hisarms wrap around me tentatively.

In those movies at this point people gaze adoringly into each others' eyes, but that just doesn't work out for us. My eyes just gaze right into his, er, chest. Oh well, guess Nick can't help being too tall...

"Niiiick" I murmur appreciatively, to communicate my forgiveness.

###

"Ummm." I hear Nick's chest rumble after we've stood there a long while. "Are we... going to stay here all day?"

"No!" I jerk away, perhaps too quickly. "I'm starving! To the burger stand!" I tear away, I know he'll follow.

I gaze at the illuminated signboard. The burgers are freeze dried and come out of a machine in only one stale flvour, but I can't last long enough for us to get to a proper place before I expire.

"Nick, I forgot to bring money!"

Nick empties his wallet. "Nothing there," he signs as a few token coins slide out. "I saved all these coupons for you," he continues, waving a small rubber-band tied stack, "but they're all 'Buy one, get one free!'"

"Never mind, I'll endure starvation for your sake," I declare sadly. "Let's get home. Oh, and I guess you can't buy me a train ticket later?"

"Maya, have you ever heard of an 'A.T.M.'?"

"No?"

"'Magic box that spits out money?'"

"Oh yeah! THEM! Nice try, Nick! But they need your CARD to operate, which I don't have either. But you have YOUR card, right?"

"Not what I meant." His eyes gesture toward an old man crouched near the far wall, who sounds like he's torturing an accordion. "Well, I guess you can start begging on the street..."

"Never mind then. Can't Trucy get some $100 bill to appear by magic in her magic panties?"

"It doesn't work like that!"

"Aww. I'm so bad at magic and magic tricks...I don't get them at all!" I feel my face fall.

"You mean like the time you tried to eat Trucy's magic spaghetti?"

Yeah, I'm just a problem. No wonder Nick isn't so torn up when I'm not around, Trucy is actually useful, making all that money doing magic shows. Not enough to support them both, but better than I can do...

But no longer!

"Nick, I've finally got it! How I'll make us both filthy rich!"

"Oh, how?"

"Just channel someone that everyone will want to give money to?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"Like a celebrity! Who wouldn't throw huge donations if they saw a famous celebrity performing on the street? Elvis! Michael Jackson! Marilyn Monroe! Why didn't I ever think of this before?"

"Why? WHY?" Nick's suddenly super-animated. "Because it's dangerous, that's why! And my eyes will be poisoned! And..."

"Dangerous? Dangerous how?"

"You really think the first thing the ghost of Elvis will do when he wakes up is placidly stand there and sing on command?"

"Don't be so paranoid! I have more powers now! I can control the spirit with the force of my will, even when I'm channelling." (Well, kinda...) "And if things get bad, you can just do the Spirit-Severing Technique! Come on..."

I keep wheedling, and soon, as expected, Nick gives in. Soon we're putting up promotional signs so that everyone will be alerted to this wonderful spectacle...somehow Nick learned to use the library computer... And there's a big stage just sitting outside nobody's using right now! So no reason why Nick can't borrow it.

I seize a huge cleaning mallet thing from a storage area and concentrate my powers to give it the charm. "Even you can use it! You just have to hit me with it so hard that I fall unconscious! And it better be hard enough, or the spirit won't leave! And you also chant THIS!" I recite the short spell in Ancient Japanese, even Nick should be able to learn it. He repeats it back to me many times, as if his life depended on it!

###

OWWWWWWWWWWWWW...

What happened?

Same story as ever, I just don't remember anything after the chanelling started. I pictured the spirit standing totally still and singing when I let them enter, and hopefully that's all the ghost could do, but it's not like I can remember or see anything...

I have a bad feeling... I can sense where I am!

Hard metal cot... scratchy grey hessian sheets, stale smelling concrete and worse, bars...

"I DIDN'T DO IT!"

Yeah, detention centre guards, pinned against the wall 'like a fridge magnet'. I'm in some horrible bed.

"NIIIIIICK!"

Now I remember the other reason why I never thought of doing this before. 'Bringing Kurain into disrepute'. (Well, give me a break, I was too hungry to think straight!)

"Calm down, Ms Fey! You're not in trouble!" The woman pauses to chew on something. My stomach rumbles. I turn my begging eyes toward her, but they don't work like they do on Nick. She ignores me, and gazes at her snack as if engaging in religious rapture. I feel bad interrupting someone who gives food the respect it deserves, but I have to know.

"W-where am I?"

"The police medical unit. Scientifically speaking, you have a concussion. Your attacker was arrested.."

"Attacker? Waiiiiit. What'd they do?"

The woman ruffles the edge of her packet forlornly, evidently decides it's empty, and sighs. "A 'suspicious man' hit you on the head with a large mop during your Michael Jackson impersonation. There were many witnesses and unfortunately a riot started, because onlookers claimed the 'real' Micheal Jackson had been murdered... That's why I'mfilling in here, by the way... everyone was called out..."

Attacker?"No! There must be some mistake... the attacker wasn't N... wasn't a Phoenix Wright, was it? I told him to do it! I told him to hit me with a mop!"

The detective's eyebrows shoot up. "W-well. Um. You're required to review your assaulter's identity to go forward with charges... I guess I can try to find out who he is now. This a is a favour," she hisses severely, "so don't cause me trouble!"

###

Hours pass.

There's not much to do but stare at the rough concrete ceiling, is it ever ugly. A doctor eventually comes in and takes my vital signs or something...

Suddenly the security door beeps open, and Nick is prodded in couched awkwardly in handcuffs, by that Detective Gumshoe.

"I'm sorry! Maya!" He tries to reach pathetically towards me, the handcuffs jar him back, unrelenting.

"NICK! Let him go! This is all a huge misunderstanding!"

"W-what, you don't want to press charges, pal? After he hit you so many times you lost consciousness?"

"NO! I told him to do it! Nick is innocent!"

The detective scratches his head. "Well. the police can't proceed with assault conviction without your co-operation..."

"I demand you drop the charges. NOW!"

"Okay, okay. Whatever. I suppose that means you're both free to go. Um, except, YOU," he points at Nick, "have been charged with illegal performing in a public place, which carries a penalty of $1387, payable immediately, else you can't leave till it's paid!"

"Noooooo!" I can't help crying aloud.

"Don't worry," soothes Nick, "you made over $4000!" He counts out the massive fine and hands it to Gumshoe, then holds out the rest toward me.

"No, no! Keep it! Keep it ALL! Just... just give me enough for a ticket home!"

"Home? HOME? You can't go home in this kind of condition. Oh Maya, I'm so sorry! Will you ever forgive me?" He wrenches off his beanie and starts wringing at it, tearing the holes even larger. "Doctor, will she be okay?"

"She should be okay," verifies the police doctor, "BUT," she continues severely, turning to me, "you must rest for several days, and if you experience severe headaches or blurred vision, seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY."

"You two had better go, pal," mutters Detective Gumshoe, "other people need the bed." I hoist myself back to a sitting position, feeling really tired all of a sudden, trying to will myself to spring out. Nick is here, I expect him to lend me a hand, but too late, before I know what's going on he's scooped me into his arms.

"Hey, I can wal.." I give up, this isn't too bad, really nice actually...

I peer through the retreating security glass. For some reason that detective's shape is taking up the bed, snoring loudly...

"We will get a taxi," Nick declares. (It's great to be rich!) One is already in the street and he's soon gotten us in.

###

"W-what happened after I left, Nick?" I demand, huddling against him in the seat.

"W-well, at first it was just like you said. The ghost stood there and just started singing right off, as if his feet were rooted to the spot. He kinda started struggling as it went on, but his feet couldn't move, in fact he'd just topple over so I had to hold 'him' up... But the singing didn't work out exactly..."

"What do you mean?"

"It sort of passed, but something sounded... off. I guess they're still using part of YOUR vocal chords or something. The crowds didn't mind though. They all started speculating on whether you were a robot, an impersonator, or the real artist reanimated... Then the ghost and the crowds got more and more agitated, they started mobbing us and jostling you, and I thought we'd better end it before the ghost went crazy from confusion... Oh, it's all my fault you're so hurt!"

"Hey, you only knocked me out! It wasworth it for over a thousand bucks."

"B-but no, I couldn't do it properly! I just couldn't bring myself to hit you hard enough, so each time I did it the ghost was still there, I had to try about 4 or 5 times... then everything went insane and I was arrested... Nevermake me do something like that again!" His breath heaves like he's worn himself out.

"Oh, here we are," he observes gratefully, hastily opening the taxi door.

"Nick, this is your house, I thought we were taking me to Kura..."

"Oh, you want to leave? I guess so, me hitting you and all.."

"No, no! Not what I meant!"

"Good, 'cause I'm looking after you till I know you're better! After I did something so terrible, I can't let you just go off alone and hurt to collapse in the middle of nowhere. The doctor told you to 'rest', so that's what you're going to do!" Before I can protest, he's carrying me out again. "Now, rest!" he commands, once we're inside, laying me down.

"Nick, isn't this YOUR bed?"

"Well, where else can I put you, I don't have a spare room? I can sleep on the floor! Or somewhere else, if you prefer..."

"Of course I 'prefer'! Get back up here! Though your bed's pretty small..."

"It's er.. hehe.. it's not my bedtime." Nick messes his fingers at his spikes and gives one of his sheepish loser-grins. "I didn't mean..."

"I'm home!"

"Trucy?"

"Is that my new mother?" enquires Trucy, poking her head in to look at the bed.

"Um, no, not... exactly," Nick flails. "As for your 'old' mother, well... sorry?" He looks miserable.

"I think it's time for dinner," Trucy saves.

"So does Maya," Nick observes dryly. "Can you go and get us... what do you want, Maya?"

*Sigh* Well I guess the responsible thing is to save Nick money... "What were the burgers you had those coupons for, Nick?"

"Them? How many... did you want?"

"How many... coupons did you have?"

"More than a sick person like you should be eating!"

"Hey! I didn't mean 'them all'! I'm..."

"I'm just joking," calms Nick. "D-don't stress yourself!"

"I'm not.."

"Okay, I suppose that's what we're having," he sighs, taking a few coupons and bills out of his old wallet, which looks like it'll break at the seams all of a sudden.

As soon as Trucy exits out the door with them, he starts hovering over me demandingly.

"Does your head ache? Is your vision blurring? Are you still concussed? Can I get you anything?"

"I think I'm fine?"

"AAh!" he whimpers as if in pain, "look at that massive lump on your head! It's all my fault! I know I have something to go on it..." He darts toward the bathroom and returns waving a tube of something medical. "Now hold still!"

I obediently try to while he swears the stuff thickly on the swelling (that's some pain! but it's not like it's really worse than my spirit training). "Why do all those medical things smell so bad, anyway?" I comment to cheer him up. "Now, in Kurain, the old timers hit you with a spiritual whip so you can have a different pain to think about as a distraction!"

Nick visibly winces. "See why you have to stay here, where I can give you modern medical attention? Now, where else hurts?"

"Probably everywhere, where would you like to start?" I smile beautifically and wave in the general direction of my entire body. Then I stop because this sounds a bit like that bad medical drama I watched the other day, and Nick is starting to look uneasy. "Well, I have about 4 bruises on other places on my head, um, Dr Nick," (no reason why I still can't call him 'Dr Nick'!) "but, they're in my hair, so none of that nasty slimy stuff."

"Oh no, what do I do?" Nick seems excessively upset every time I mention my injuries. "Ice packs, I guess. I have some, luckily. And you should have a glass of water." He rushes off, all a-flutter. "Okay," he questions, once he's fussed over arranging the ice packs on my head, "did you, really, literally mean the rest of your body all hurts?"

"Um, oh, it's not that bad," I encourage bravely, "I think I can take it if you sit and hold my hand or something." To my partial surprise he takes it and kneels obediently next to the, um, hisbed. It really is making me feel better for some reason, and my eyes droop closed, I might have dozed off, but a fantastic aroma rouses me, the burgers and Trucy must have returned!

I jerk upright.

"Careful!" yelps Nick as his chin ungracefully collides with the top of my hair . "You scared me!"

"But bu-bu-"

"Just relax and 'rest', the food is coming right away..." I sigh and finger the pillow (which has these weird puncture holes in it - wonder why?) and somehow wait the too many seconds till he comes back with a huge, grease-dripping paper bag.

"Now what types did Trucy choose? It's a, um, magic surprise." Nick gives a toothy and insincere grin.

"A lottery! Let me try, let me try!"

I shove my hand in the bag.

"What is it?" wonders Nick.

"The Samurai Slice FishBurger!" I identify. "Your turn."

Nick reaches into the bag.

"That's the Samurai Spear Burger!" I tell him.

"What on Earth is in that?"

"I dunno," I guess. "Spears? Spear-mint?"

"Please, no."

"We can share," I offer. "We'll take turns biting each one!"

"If you really want." Nick takes a tiny, neat bite of his burger and holds it out.

'Yay!" I grab it, and pass him the misshapen remains of the FishBurger.

Chompchompchompchompchomp...

"Hey, isn't it my turn for that again, yet?" queries Nick.

*Gulp*. "Fine, fine..." I dejectedly hand it back, and we swap.

"There's still more in here, you know," reminds Nick. He withdraws another burger. "How about this?"

"The Samurai Moon Burger! It has a huge round piece of Cheese Food in it!

"'Cheese food'? They're not legally allowed to call it 'Cheese', let me guess?"

"I dunno. It's nice, try some?" We chew for a while. "Oh, Nick, I remembered about the Samurai Spear Burger. It has this red sauce on it. Like blood!"

"Ewwwwww..." we both exclaim.

Suddenly my stomach is churning and I feel faint.

"Um, Nick? I t-think I must really be sick? I... I don't wanna finish my burger. I guess you should have it?"

"Maya! You're off food?" Nick looks scared. "Th-that's got to be bad! Should I c-call a doctor?"

"Nah, remember? The doctor said 'If you get severe headaches or blurred vision seek medical attention.' She didn't say anything about... eating..." Urghhhhhh...I lean back on my pillow and screw my eyes shut. "You just enjoy yourself finishing them...don't let them go to waste!"

"Uh, whatever you say. I'll be... right back..." Nick and the burgers leave. I don't really have the will to check up on what he's doing with them, exactly, I really feel like I need a nap. In my semi-wakeful state, I notice Nick kind of hovering around me all evening, but I'm too fatigued to really register the details.

Until I wake to some frenetic activity next to me and am suddenly completely lucid. Nick's crashing around in the way someone does when they're 'trying not to make noise and disturb people'. Except that they're so paranoid, they end up making way more noise than if they hadn't tried, bumbling around and sneezing and tripping themselves up.

"Ni-ick..." I mumble. He's arranged himself in some horrible dusty old moth-eaten sleeping bag on the floor, like a bad-looking footrug. If I got out of bed, I'd have to step on him.

"A-choo!" he sneezes again. That thing smells like it's be mouldering in storage longer than even he's been alive! He keeps thrashing around.

"Nick, get up here! Or at least sleep on the couch?"

"It doesn't fit through this door. I'm fine, just get your rest like you're supposed to. Goodnight."

"Through the door?"

"Um, well I didn't want to go out there, in case you got sicker with no-one to know. But I guess if you insist, then."

"No! Don't leave me!"

"Okay, I won't. Go to sleep."

"I can't! That sleeping bag smells terrible, and you don't fit in it either! Get back in your bed," I suggest. "I'll move over! See, there's plenty of room!" I'm curious. This could be fun.

I also feel mean stealing his bed.

"I'm fine," Nick mutters, turning his head to the opposite wall.

"Oh, oh, the pain!" I cry. "I can't-can't sleep with you on that horrible hard floor! Get up here - now!"

Nick mutters and eventually eases his huge form over.

"Fine, fine. I'll sleep - ON the bed, happy? C-can you move over. Please?"

He gestures awkwardly. I sigh, and shift my pillow to the far edge of the bed. "Now get in!"

Nick's dead weight collapses the other side, like a beached whale. (Gee, he's big!) I can feel him edging gingerly over in his direction as far as possible, pretty much hanging off the side, on top of - but not under - the covers. "Now go to sleep," he commands, "you need your rest to recover!"

I shut my eyes. Soon Nick must be asleep. I can feel him sagging diagonally and rolling like a dangerous surf. I curl the sheet and blanket around me defensively and soon yank them right out, so Nick isn't on top of them holding them down any more.

Nick rolls over yet again. (Who knew people were so active when they're 'asleep'?) I poke him pointedly with a foot, and the lumbering weight moves.

I suddenly feel his edge of the mattress start sagging dangerously.

"N-Nick, you'll fall!" I mutter.

"N-No Larry!"

"WHAT?"

"The murderer ran across the bridge. I have to check Maya is okay! Don't try to st...Arghhhh!"

He's falling right off the edge! Lucky, I'd seen it coming, so I seize him and drag as hard as I can, puffing in irritation. "How could you mistake me for Larry?" Thankfully, Nick must be cogent enough to help, he starts scrabbling up the side on his own power, which is a good thing 'cause the big dope's way too heavy for me!

He dreams about LARRY? No wonder we're not a 'couple'...

I keep pulling him to safety, as far to the centre of the bed as I can (which isn't far) and wrap the covers securely around both of us.

Nick murmurs in his sleep and wraps his arms around me."M-Maya..." he slurs.

Air, air!

But I manage to move my head to where I can safely breathe, and soon drop off, more content than I've been in a long time.

###

Yeah, I love staying with Nick, (though I don't love how small and crowded his apartment is compared to huge Fey Manor) but as they always say, never wear out your welcome. 'Responsible' adults apparently don't act like a burger parasite, and anyway, I can't still pretend not to be better. So over our breakfast-in-bed I break it to him.

"Er, I'm really happy you invited me to stay and all, but I think 'Three' does equal a 'few' days of rest."

"OBJECTION!" Nick spits out his breakfast burger. "When you're so sick, um, four days is what they mean. Or five, since you were hit FIVE TIMES! (Take That!)"

"Nice try. But I'm getting sick of lying around. And that spring broke in your bed, it's not good to lie on now either. I guess you'll have to buy a new one with the money we made."

"Well, okay. Fine! Maybe it is time you left. You have eaten about $1000 worth of burgers already."

But Nick looks dejected.

There's an awkward pause.

"Yeah, um. Well... I guess I should head back. You did still have the money for that ticket?"

"Yeah," Nick mutters begrudgingly, doing one of those super-fake poker faces. "Take it, before you eat it."

Ah damn, now he's gone into jerk mode. I know he doesn't mean it!

"Are you... coming to the station to see me off?"

"Guess so."

###

"Um... um..."

I stare up. Nick's still acting all distant on me.

What to say?

"I'll be back soon, Nick. Okay?"

"Okay." He stares at a crack of pavement.

"Um.. Make sure you... water Charley!"

His eyes flicker vacantly. "Okay."

"And don't lose that Magatama, what else is going to protect you?"

They suddenly flash emotion. "I won't."

"G-gotta run," I flail awkwardly as the guard's whistle blows.

I'll miss you...

###

I'm back at Fey Manor, back to my usual stupid repetitive Mystic routine...

Great, now it'll be ages till I have a reason to come back to Nick's, what a pain.

I should just decide some reason why it's so much better for the Master to live in the city most of the time instead. Except they'd be flimsy reasons. People prefer to have the channellings done in Kurain too, it's the atmosphere and all...

Worst of all, if I spend too much time away from training, my powers wear down. Then I have to do hardcore isolation training to make it up, far from any burgers or Nick.

*Sigh*

I ring Nick most nights. I think he's doing better. I guess I forget how needy he can be. Like, before he had Trucy to babysit him, when I left before, he got so upset that Edgeworth left as well that he wished him dead for abandoning him!

I miss him, but at least here I can always hang out with Pearly!

Today we're reading some of her weird girly romance magazine things. They're bright pink and have these manga girls with huge sparkling eyes on the front. It's filled with articles and comics about Perfect True Fairytale Love, kind of up her alley.

I wasn't really ever into that stuff. But I have to admit, in fact, they are pretty realistic. If I had huge sparkling eyes, like that Regina Berry, probably everyone would fall in love with me too! That's why it works out so well for every character in the magazines, I guess.

Pearly shoves one of the double-page feature articles in my face. "This is required reading, Mystic Maya. It tells you the romantic holidays for every month. Did you know that the 14th of every month is a different celebration of love for you and your prospective partner?"

"Oh geez Pearly. Twelve? You can keep track of them for me, I can't be bothered..."

"NO!" Pearly is suddenly mad. "Take it seriously! I want you to be happy, Mystic Maya, not grow old alone like all the sad old people here! Everyone in here is always married by the time they're 21, exactly how old are you now?"

"Oh, that doesn't matter! Nick's still WAY older than me!"

"Mystic Maya! See, I knew you were still in love with Mr Nick!"

"I-I didn't mean it that way!"

"Then what did you mean? I talk about 'special someones' and you only care about yourself compared to Mr Nick! You cannot deny it!"

"No I didn't.." Oh whatever, suddenly, I'm fed up. "Okay, fine! I do only care about Nick! So that's why I don't care about all your 'romantic holidays' or finding a 'partner'. It's not that way with us, and so I don't careabout that stuff!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" cries Pearl, bursting into tears.

At least she's grown out of slapping me.

For some reason I feel tears myself.

Maybe I'll give that dumb article another look. I owe it to Pearly anyway.

So what's the next one coming up?

"Black Day - The day for single losers!"

(Okay, the article didn't exactly call it that.)

Hang on - there's a big picture of people eating huge piles of RAMEN! In a sort of black sauce.

All food holidays should always be celebrated.

And there's a photo of a line of poor geeky guys wearing these weird black dunce hats, because they're single. Nick totally needs to wear one of them. I can take a picture for my album!

"On Black Day, the people who didn't get anything for Valentines Day and are single get together to eat black noodles called jajangmyeon. Quick - On that day there's a last chance to confess and hope that special person reciprocates your feelings!"

Great, time to schedule a visit for the 14th. If I ring now he'll know he HAS to keep the date free! Lucky, Nick doesn't seem to have any issues with me informing him I am coming to see him on the 14th!

I reach into the depths of my cupboard and take out my album. I don't know why I'm so secretive about it, it's just a few old pics mostly from back when Nick was a lawyer, but I don't want Pearly to know about it and I always lock myself in my room before I ever take it out! Hey look, there's that photo I bought from Lotta of Nick coming out of the shower... Er, it's not like you can see anything, really! I only bought it to preserve his honour. Or at least, that's what I told everyone at the time...

Something weird occurs to me. I always assumed Nick does and would never feel anything for me, except that I'm his big sister or cousin, but on the other hand, I've never actually asked him.

And of course I haven't! Imagine how embarrassing it would be when he rejects the idea! I didn't have to ask anyway, he always loudly denied it to Pearly, so I got the idea of how he felt without having to myself! But that was quite a while ago.

Weird he never figured out how Pearly got the idea. I never said point blank, but I practically died when she twigged I did have some dumb kind of crush on him... i-if that's what it really was.

###

A few days before, I ring Nick to remind him I'm taking him out. "Where? It's a surprise! And it's important you wear black clothes."

So here I am now, bashing on his door till it FINALLY opens.

"M-MAYA!" Nick jolts visibly. "I d-didn't know you had normal clothes."

A few days ago here in the city I bought a simple small black dress. It's kind of a bit more revealing than I'm used to, but it's not like I really have anything to hide. "Do you like it?"

The way Nick is staring at me like a fish, suddenly I'm not so sure about it. It's not like it's indecent, so it must be me that's the problem. Is it too short? Does it look bad because I don't have anything much to display either?

"Y-yeah. You should wear it more often."

I shuffle uncomfortably at the cold stone of the magatama against my skin, feeling horribly exposed. "You look great too," I remark, to turn the subject and our attentions away. And I mean it too. "Less like a hobo."

"HOBO?"

Nick's wearing a black shirt, black dinner suit thing and black bow tie. It makes him look way younger and more respectable, almost like when he was a lawyer. His hair and face are all pristine and neat too. "I like it."

"Oh, thank you." Nick runs a hand through his spikes awkwardly. "I was a bit worried, I got it from the second hand shop. But you were so adamant about 'wearing black', I thought you must have meant a 'black tie function'. I didn't want to get us kicked out. So where ARE we going?"

"It's a surprise! You'll see when we get there! I'll call the taxi now..."

Where are we going? I looked up the place in the photo in Pearly's magazine, the one with the pictures of single men in dunce hats, and found out that it's a large Korean restaurant about half an hour from here. They're having a Black Day event this year too. 'All the jajangmyeon black noodles you can eat!' There's a banner and black decorations when we arrive. "Happy Black Day, Nick," I cry as we step through the entrance.

"What is Black Day, Maya?"

"Black Day is a celebration where single losers like us console each other about being single, and best of all eat black food, like these black noodles! See all the happy singles already here?" I enthuse.

There aren't many people, actually. In fact at first I'm afraid it's totally deserted, but then I notice there's subtle and not so subtle barricades around the tables, which make a lot of more private little booths. There's a function going on, but it's in a separate room and not one that we're invited to.

Still, a huge sign with a photo of black noodles graces the space near the cash register, so the noodle event must still be on, at least! 'BLACK DAY JAJANGMYEON MEGA PLATTER - $20'. I gesture toward it excitedly.

"We want the jajangmyeon noodles," I explain, when someone comes to the service counter.

"The two of you? Okay, won't be a moment." I await with salivating breath, and he eventually returns with a massive black platter piled sky high with towers of black noodles!

"Wow! I could never eat that many," exclaims Nick.

"I guess we could share?"

"Well, yes, that's the idea, the custom," explains the server.

"Great! Let's go, I'm starving!" I snatch up the plate. The noodles wobble alarmingly, but heroic Nick lunges and snatches them steady just in time! Together we manage to teeter them safely to a nice cozy little booth.

Little is right, there's practically no room and we squish against each other. But though the barricades might cut off breathing-room, they make it lovely and secluded! Which is good because even though Nick's moved to the far edge, we still brush each other every time I ever move.

I throw my face at the plate and snatch up the noodles in great chunks.

"Really, Black Day is a kind of singles holiday?" enquires Nick, carefully pouring us both glasses of water.

I vacuum up a few piles of noodles before replying. "I guess so! It's for 'people who got nothing for Valentines Day'. I brought this other info article about it, you can read about it." I seize another noodle or 10 in my teeth. "It says we're supposed to 'console' each other about how horrible it is to be single. Hey, did you ever have a girlfriend Nick?"

"Um, only one, really," Nick admits.

"And why did you break up?"

"Um, well she lied about everything and then she just abandoned me."

"Oh no! Well, she didn't deserve you, then! And today is when singles 'console and support each other'." Wait, so I guess I'd better start 'consoling'? I start reciting remembered parts of the article. "Isn't it terrible? Don't you hate being a loser and a failure?"

"Doyou really feel that way, Maya?"

"Not really, do you?"

"Um..."

"Don't you cry alone and lonely in your bed every night?"

"Do you?"

"Nah, if I get lonely I just think of you, Nick. Even if you're not there, I know you c..." I hastily gulp a pile of noodles, this is too stupid and sappy. "Eat some!" I offer, "they're sooo great! Better than chocolate." Man, that pile's gotten pretty small already!

Nick turns himself back to the noodles. Now there's no space at all here, I practically have to start sitting on him what with the tiny booth. Not that I'm complaining! He takes a pair of chopsticks I didn't notice before and starts elbowing me while he picks them up.

"Owww!" I move his arm for him. Now it's sort of looped lovingly around me instead.

Now we can both safely eat!

Or at least I thought we could. I rip hard at my noodles with my teeth, they're not giving way. The other end is stuck in Nick's mouth. I yank and they eventually break free.

There's not very many left, I soon observe sadly, I have to start taking them individually instead of in lovely huge wads.

I start swallowing on another delicious noodle, but the effort is making me keel slowly over. Try as I might to get to the other end it's being increasingly subsumed by Nick's big slobbering mouth. Nick has his eyes closed as if in some kind of weird meditation as I'm reeled ever closer.

Just in time I drag with my teeth and snatch the noodle from the jaws of death!

Pure bliss!

I glance down at the platter but it's all empty, the trailing end of the very last noodle retreating rapidly toward Nick's mouth.

I can't let him eat the last noodle!

I dive for it, to try and retrieve the noodle with my tongue, but I'm too late, our empty lips just smush slobberingly instead.

For some reason my heartrate's just shot up a million paces, despite this abject failure. Instead of this mess, I suddenly recall my 'dream'.

Sometimes, in my book, it's best to act impulsively and follow your intuitions before thinking, because they're often really right! So I guess that's what I was doing next. I lean in and make sure to kiss him properly this time.

"I love you," I breathe firmly, by way of explanation.

Nick's eyes have started bugging in this weird, cute way. I think he's in shock.

Suddenly my brain starts thinking again. Um, what's going on?

"I m-mean," I stammer, parts of me for some reason shaking, "I mean, I love you for buying me these noodles!"

"HOLD IT!" Nick's somehow jumped back into his own brain function. I cower at the finger pointing in my face. "You bought these noodles, not me! Now, what did you REALLY mean?"

"N-nothing much?"

Nick's eyes start bugging for some reason again. "Maya, you suddenly have all these psyche locks? TAKE THAT!"

"You wouldn't!"

"No, I wouldn't," sighs Nick, his finger and our magatama drooping limply to his side, "not to you. B-but I've never seen them on you before for some reason?"

"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooooo!" Have I ruined our bond of eternal partnership? He looks so upset. "I'll confess!"

"Um, for some reason they've started breaking already?"

"Go on!"

Nick sighs. "Why did you say.. that?"

"B-because I meant what I said!" And now I've said it, I know it's true. "I'm SORRY!"

"Um, h-how long have you felt that way?" Nick's turned a strange pale colour.

"I'm not sure? I don't think I realised it till recently, but it's been for a long time.."

"A year?"

"More like, nine? Maybe when I went back to Kurain to finish my training that first time?"

"Oh. Okay." Nick grips the edge of the table as if to steady himself. There's a long, awkward silence. I think I'm going to throw up...

Suddenly Nick breaks into a strange grin. "That's so CUTE!"

"Y-you don't have to make me feel better," I sigh. "I'll g-go before I cause any more trouble for you."

I tear awkwardly toward the exit, except I think I'm going the wrong way, and end up crashing into a wall. I then dive through the nearest door. Definitely the wrong one, I find out too late.

"Maya, why are you in a men's bathroom?"

Nick's blocking the exit doorway. I'm trapped like a rat!

"I'm sorry. I know you don't feel that way. J-just forget we had this conversation."

"W-wait, I never said that. I only don't feel that way because I always thought YOU'd never see me as anything but some weird little brother or something. So I never even thought about it!"

"And now you have thought about it, what do you think?" (Something so bad he wouldn't tell me to hurt my feelings!)

"That the men's bathroom is not the right venue for this conversation."

"You're the one blocking the exit so I can't get out!"

"But I can't let you run on me again!"

"Okay. You win." I sigh. Can't run away forever."What if I promise not to?"

Nick pushes the stupid door open and I slink through.

"M-more noodles?" he offers hesitantly.

"No. I want to go."

"Maya..."

I don't look up.

"Come on, then," Nick starts toward the exit door, the proper one this time. I begrudgingly follow.

I meander in a confusing path in the carpark and gardens outside, but Nick is sticking right by me, impossible to shake. So I give up and lean tiredly against a tree.

"Er," begins Nick. He doesn't seem to know what to say. I just watch him vacantly.

"Um, um... I am curious, why didn't you tell me earlier?

"Huh? But you said, ages ago, y-you didn't feel that way,"

"What? I never said..."

"At that urn case! You said 'Pearl has the wrong idea. About us.'"

"W-well she DID! I didn't mean it that way! Like we would never...I don't even remember it properly! Didn't she think taking the case was a 'betrayal' of our friendship when you were fine with it? That sounds like the wrong idea to me!"

He pauses. "Why'd you take it so hard? D-don't tell me Pearl got that idea we were a couple from YOU!"

"I never said we WERE a couple! But it doesn't matter. I'm sorry, Nick." I try to smile. "You can tell me," I cede in resignation, "how you REALLY feel about me. I won't be offended."

"How?" Nick stares at a distant point for a while. "Like... um. I don't... know."

"Yeah. Bye, Nick."

"Wait.."

I don't. I channel the first ghost I think of so he can't pursue me. Sometimes it's good to be able to lose yourself.

###

Ahhhh nooooooo. To be continued in the next chapter, okay?