What really happened when Nick took Maya and Pearl to Gatewaterland? Set right after T&T, check out a certain Phaya-shipping spirit medium’s adorable efforts to get Nick to at long last admit to Maya he now actually wants to be Special Someones! But will he finally get the courage to present that token of affection that’s been burning a hole in his pocket all these years…before his assistant becomes Kurain Master and is gone…for good?

Prequel to the Turnabout Lawful Lust Series

Can be read as a stand-alone story, or as the segue to Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman.

I know that when you look at me
There’s so much that you just don’t see
But if you would only take the time
I know in my heart you’d find
A girl who’s scared sometimes
Who isn’t always strong
Can’t you see the hurt in me?
I feel so all alone

I wanna run to you (oooh)
I wanna run to you (oooh)
Won’t you hold me in your arms
And keep me safe from harm
I want to run to you (oooh)
But if I come to you (oooh)
Tell me, will you stay or will you run away

Each day, each day I play the role
Of someone always in control
But at night I come home and turn the key
There’s nobody there, no one cares for me
What’s the sense of trying hard to find your dreams
Without someone to share it with
Tell me what does it mean?

I wanna run to you (oooh)
I wanna run to you (oooh)
Won’t you hold me in your arms
And keep me safe from harm
I want to run to you (oooh)
But if I come to you (oooh)

Tell me, will you stay, or will you, run away
Run away

I need you here
I need you here to wipe away my tears
To kiss away my fears, no
If you only knew how much

I wanna run to you (oooh)
I wanna run to you (oooh)
Won’t you hold me in your arms
And keep me safe from harm
I want to run to you (oooh)
But if I come to you (oooh)
Tell me, will you stay or will you run away


Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey
Wright & Co. Law Offices
March 13, 2019, 8:00 AM

It’s like I can’t reach her. I’ve never felt so distant or disconnected from her even though she’s sitting right next to me.

Phoenix Wright took his last bite of bacon and stared hopelessly into the downcast face of his soon-to-be ex-legal assistant, Maya Fey, as she poked listlessly at the untouched waffles Pearl had thoughtfully prepared for their morning meal. The 9-year-old had long since finished her own food and was now anxiously nibbling at her thumb as she joined the Ace Attorney’s concerned glance at the silent spirit medium, neither one knowing what to say to bolster the young woman’s gloomy disposition.

Normally the spirit medium and future Fey clan leader had the legendary voracious appetite of a linebacker; one that completely belied her petite, willowy frame. Her multiple bottomless stomachs were the perfect offset to the diviner’s constantly contagious smile and generally sunny nature, which never failed to brighten any room.

However, that morning at the breakfast table, and ever since Misty Fey’s funeral the month before, the psychic had become more and more withdrawn, to the point where Phoenix felt as though his best friend had become a stranger now, much to his great dismay. He simply couldn’t get her to open up to him, in any way, shape, or form, no matter what he did.

At the slain Kurain Master’s graveside after the service, when he’d tried to sympathize with the agony and sense of loss she was undoubtedly feeling since the heartbreaking loss of her mother, Maya had simply rebuked his condolences.  She’d snapped that the college-aged Phoenix losing his parents in a plane crash was hardly comparable to the trauma of seeing one’s parent be murdered before their very eyes!

That was when she had gone on to shut the defense lawyer out completely and pushed him even further away.

Despite having saved the girl he secretly loved repeatedly from life or death scenarios, it was the first time in all the years he’d known her that the Turnabout King had never felt more discouraged or hapless. It had been quite a relief (though he’d had to admit, it’d also come with a side of jealousy) when the grieving heiress had finally dropped her stolid coping façade then. She’d eventually broken down and sought solace in the handsome Miles Edgeworth’s arms later at the cemetery, citing that the prosecutor’s comfort was welcomed since he could actually empathize with her plight.

Phoenix had desperately hoped that shedding some much-needed tears would have finally brought Maya enough respite to be able to be herself once more. He was painfully aware that his days with her were numbered and yearned to make them pleasantly memorable. Alas, despite his and Pearl’s best efforts to cheer her up or coax a smile out of her, the spirit medium had since continued to be a shadow of her former self.

Knowing his best friend was still in so much turmoil and pain beneath her aloof veneer was positively gutting him inside. Granted, he knew she was trying to stay strong for the sake of her cousin, whom she was essentially now legal guardian for, but Maya had always been able to cry on his shoulder in the past. And the clock was ticking down on her limited amount of time left with him. Phoenix could no longer glibly assume that in due course if he gave her enough time and space, she would eventually come around because he had the luxury of both working and living with her and Pearl and could wait patiently.

Amongst the tragic aspects pertaining to Misty’s untimely demise was the fact that Maya had inadvertently been coerced into the entirely unwanted position of Master of Kurain, and thusly been putting off her return back to her village for as long as possible.

Now the day they had all been dreading had arrived at last.

The village elders would no longer listen to any more excuses or attempted reasoning. Maya and Pearl would have to return back to their village tomorrow, and unwittingly taking Phoenix’s heart with them. There were no words to describe his devastation about the impending but inevitable loss of the two most important people in his life. The Ace Attorney couldn’t have loved the tiny acolyte any more than if she had been his own daughter.  Moreover, the way he felt about the child’s kinswoman seemed to be a blatant factor to everybody around them – little Pearl included! – except, of course, Maya herself.

Phoenix had yearned to tell his assistant for some time how he felt about her, but the timing was never right. It was just one series of trials and tribulations after another, without any recourse within sight. Heck, for all he knew, Maya saw him as nothing more than an old man/older brother/her boss and would be horrified to know just what sort of ardor had been building up in his heart!

That token of my affections has been burning a hole in my pocket ever since she got kidnapped by Shelly DeKiller last year! 

He’d dragged his feet about confessing his feelings with every sort of delay tactic in the book.

I’ll tell her when the time is right!

I’ll give it to her on her next birthday or Christmas!

I can’t tell her today! The latest Steel Samurai movie just came out!

These had been the continued excuses he’d been telling his cowardly self, ever content to drag his feet and keep stalling for time.

But time was a luxury that he no longer had at his disposal.

Now, knowing the girl he loved would be leaving at the crack of dawn the next morning, on the first train back to her village while possibly never knowing his true feelings about her, was possibly the most depressing element of all.

“It’s our last day together, Burger Queen,” Phoenix informed the silent raven-haired brunette with forced cheerfulness. “What do you feel like doing?”

Maya finally lifted her head, deadened mocha eyes staring at him sightlessly beneath her long fringe. He was aching with sympathy at how her everyday vibrancy appeared to have gone to the grave, right along with Misty Fey.

I would give anything in the world to see her smile again, even just once.

“You and Pearly decide, Nick. I’m not picky,” she replied dully, pushing her chair back from the table and leaving her untouched plate of food behind her. “I’m going to go take a shower.”

As she padded down the hall towards the bathroom, the blue attorney shifted his helpless gaze to the perturbed Pearl, who was biting her thumb in consternation as she stared after her cousin before meeting his concerned eyes.

“I can’t stand seeing her like this, Pearls. She’s breaking my heart! And she didn’t eat a bite of breakfast!” He added worriedly. “Imagine – Maya Fey not eating food! It’s like science fiction!”

“I know you’re worried about her, Mr. Nick.” The little spirit medium’s shoulders slumped. “It’s hard seeing her be so sad all the time for me, too! I was really hoping that today, at least, we could all do something fun together; something that would give her no choice but to smile!”

“Pearls I’m open to any and all suggestions you have at this point!” The legist ran a hand through his spikes in agitation. “I would even take her to see the latest Steel Samurai movie in the theaters – for the fifth time! – if I thought it would cheer her up! Just name something, anything, that you think would bring one iota of happiness into that girl’s heart and I swear to you we’ll do it, no questions asked!”

A thoughtful frown creased Pearl’s smooth forehead as she peered at the morning newspaper on the table, and her doe eyes brightened suddenly.

That’s it!”  She snapped her fingers and pointed excitedly to the picture of the blue badger in front of a roller coaster beside a headline that read: Badger Photo Rally at Gatewater Land Today!

What’s it?” He asked blankly, staring down at the photo of the goony police mascot, which an aggravated Miles Edgeworth had once dubbed a “wriggling piece of plywood!” The creepy-looking blue character stood beside other similar, but separate gaudy replicas of itself, along with a garish pink version as well.

“We’ll take Mystic Maya to Gatewater Land!” Pearl announced merrily. “It’s the happiest place on earth!”

“That’s Walt Disney World, Pearls.” Phoenix scratched the back of his neck and smiled awkwardly. “Besides, Maya is turning 21 next month. Don’t you think she’s a little – ah – too old  for amusement parks?”

Pearl scowled and rolled up her sleeve threateningly, which he knew was never a good sign.

“Darn it, Mr. Nick! You said you would do anything to make Mystic Maya happy, no questions asked!”

“Yes, but I was hoping for something more along the lines of perhaps a museum or art gallery…”

Where children under 10 are usually half-price…

“Were you lying to me then about being willing to go the extra mile just now?” Pearl demanded crossly.

“Well, no…but…” He took a preventive step backward as the little girl’s hand morphed into a fist. Despite being such a tiny thing, he knew from experience just how hard Pearl Fey could punch and/or slap when aggrieved! He still had bruises from the previous month when she had accused him of staring at Iris too long at the prison! The worst part was, the flummoxed man had merely been marveling about how a psychotic demon such as Dahlia Hawthorne could’ve had such a docile doormat for an identical twin sister!

“You’re supposed to be her Special Someone!” Pearl declared, her arm already drawn back and poised for action. “This might be your last chance to let Mystic Maya know how much you care, Mr. Nick! Shame on you for trying to back out on your word to a little kid!”

“OK! OK! No need to whip out the Fey Fists of Fury!” Phoenix groaned, already mentally tabulating how much this fun excursion was going to cost him. “You win, Pearls!”

“Yay!” The fierce expression miraculously disappeared as quickly as it had come, like a cloud passing in front of the sun, and once again Pearl’s normally angelic countenance was back in place. “What are you waiting for, Mr. Nick? Get out of those pajamas and let’s get ready to go have some fun!”

And that was how Phoenix Wright got roped into spending his last day – and last remaining dollars in his wallet – with Pearl and Maya Fey at Gatewater Land.

Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey
Gatewater Land
March 13, 2019 10:30 AM

They had only been at the amusement park for 15 minutes before the reignited, bubbly, overgrown woman/child that was Maya Fey, at last, snapped out of her funk and realized she was a walking, talking human garbage disposal!

“Nick, I’m beyond famished!” She announced, grabbing him by the arm and dragging him towards the food building. “Let’s go eat! According to the guidebooks they gave us, there are some new and exotic foods here that I’m just dying to try!”

Phoenix, who was still well tided-over from breakfast and had been mercifully smart enough to stop at an ATM before coming to the overpriced amusement park, glanced down fretfully at the little moppet.

“Er, are you hungry as well, Pearls?”

“I’m still full from the pancakes, Mr. Nick.” The little girl smiled sweetly, reaching up with a tiny hand to clasp his own. “But I wouldn’t mind getting some cotton candy.”

He exhaled a sigh of relief. The fluffy, sugary treats were one of the cheaper items sold at the park, only about three dollars, and he was relieved that at least one of his guests wasn’t content to eat him out of his house and home! Deciding that When in Rome was the best policy to adopt in this sort of environment, he mentally shrugged and found himself actually indulging in battered chicken, rolled around in Frosted Flakes cereal, and waffles, served on a stick, along with a Canadian dish called poutine. It was French fries and gravy, with mounds of cheese curds smothered on top, and surprisingly quite tasty.

However, along with everything else at the theme park, it was also grotesquely oversized as well as steeply-priced, so he had no qualms about giving it to Maya to polish off, in hopes it would at least somewhat quell her never-ending appetite, which had suddenly resurfaced with a vengeance!

He was in no such luck.

The gluttonous spirit medium was nowhere near discerning or bird-like in appetite as her companions. Apparently eating most of Phoenix’s fare had merely been a pre-appetizer for her, as she claimed to still be “absolutely ravenous”!

Feeling adventurous, the now giddy necromancer was perfectly willing to indulge herself at the Bug Bistro, a new addition to the Food Building this year, dishing up a bug-focused menu. The ‘Bug Dog’ was a beef frankfurter, topped with seasoned mustard crickets. It also boasted a crispy beef taco with chili lime crickets, and a concoction called Beetle Juice: mango pulp, lime, and buttermilk mixed with roasted mealworm powder. It was only when she saw that Phoenix was turning 50 Shades of Green at the mere notion of the revolting food that she instead settled for:

*A fried, pig-ear sandwich, topped with maple bacon, cheddar cheese, and chipotle aioli

*A sweet potato tart topped with bacon, (naturally), and a warm marshmallow in the center

*A Philly Steaklair: a traditional cheese-steak sandwich stuffed into a classic French éclair, topped with chocolate icing and whipped cream

*The comically, yet wholly inappropriately named Threesome Burger. It had the flavors from Canada, Italy and Greece come together in one over-the-top burger: Canadian mac and cheese, Italian meatballs, and Greek fries packed on top of a meaty patty, with feta cheese and bacon adding the final touches.

Last but not least was dessert: a Chocolate Diablo Waffle Cone: a spicy sundae, made with wasabi peas and Sriracha caramel. Phoenix had foolishly taken a bite when Maya offered him one and had felt the heartburn immediately kicking in, coupled with his poor mouth being on fire! Thus, he’d had to shove a fistful of Pearl’s cotton candy into his mouth in an attempt to cool his tongue off. The end result was that his lips and tongue were mostly blue afterword, making him look as though he had just been “chomping on a Smurf” which his assistant all too gleefully pointed out to him.

“Are your half-dozen stomachs just about nearly full by now, Miss Bottomless Pit?” He tried not to wince as he looked down at the dwindling number of bills in his wallet. “I mean, you girls wanted to go on the rides … aren’t you worried about all this junk making you sick?”

“My six stomachs are cast iron, Nick!” The burger lover padded her incomprehensibly flat tummy. “I’m good to go on a ride if you are, Old Man!”

Phoenix paled visibly as she began dragging him towards the double-looped roller coaster in the middle of the theme park. Its track went up steeply to a high point and then dropped precipitously into a hair-raising dive, the speed from which took the sparsely loaded cars around two full loops before coming to a halt.

“M- me? Rides? M – Maya you know I’m deathly afraid of heights…”

“Oh, stop being such a wimp!” The psychic scoffed as she tugged him into the line. “You’ve got to face your fears, Old Man! The ride is only 30 seconds long! It’ll be over before you know it!”

“No way, Maya!” He attempted to lock down his feet and petulantly hold his ground, ignoring the amused expression on the park employee’s face. “I don’t think going 100 miles an hour after all that greasy sugary stuff we just ate would be the greatest idea for my stomach! You and Pearls can go!”

“I’m afraid I can’t let the little cutie aboard, Sir.” The attendant shook his head. “The child will not be able to go on – guest’s heads have to reach the top of this red line here in order ride and she’s far too tiny. It’s no trouble though, she can just wait with me here on the other side of the line and just meet you both the moment the ride is over. I’ll keep an eye on her for you.”

And that was how he, Phoenix Wright, of nearly crippling acrophobia, ended up being conned into going onto a 93-meter high roller coaster with the woman he loved…although at that moment, whom he also could have merrily throttled!


“Enjoy, Mr. Nick!” Pearl was already waving at them as his office manager, with surprising superhuman strength, managed to haul her protesting friend towards the roller coaster tracks.

Phoenix’s stomach was filled with even more butterflies of nervousness as they approached the ride, the shrill screams of the passengers making him want to run and hide.

“Come on, Nick, live a little! Have some fun!” Maya nudged him in the side, and he nearly jumped out of his skin.

“Yeah, fun.” He breathed, feeling the oxygen leave his body as they approached the lady with the headset, who evidently took her job way too seriously as she instructed them to secure all their valuables, as the park was not responsible for any lost items on the ride.

Click click click. The cart dragged itself up with effort as Phoenix’s hands nervously tightened on the bar and his breath quickened in anticipation and fear.

He laughed nervously. It sounded like a high-pitched squeak.

“It’s awfully high isn’t it?”

Click click click.

He tried not to think about what happened when they reached the top.

Click click click.

Suddenly, he was full of doubts about his own sanity.

Why did you let them convince you this was a good idea, Phoenix?! Oh right, you didn’t want to get slapped by Pearl and wanted to make Maya happy – even if this means throwing up all over her as a side effect! Surely, there was some other way to appease her?! Gah! I’m strapped in too tight to jump out even if I could… it is too late to turn back now…

Click click click.

He looked around to distract himself, and for a moment he could focus on the entire kingdom of laughter and food and swooping machinery…

Click, click whoosh!

He gulped.

There was nowhere to go but down.

Maya heard the creaking of the cart moving and with that, everyone started screaming as the cart raced and raced. She wanted to shut her eyes but she couldn’t manage to keep them closed – what a rush!

The exhilarated joy on her face almost made his inevitable nausea worth it.

After it was all over, she got out with a stumble, completely loopy from the ride, and started walking out and bumping into Phoenix with each step, who grabbed her arm, making sure she didn’t crash into any walls.

“That was exhilarating!” She screamed, making the people who surrounded her jump. “Downright euphoric!”

By some miracle, the now greener than Kermit the Frog defense attorney had managed to make it through the entire ride without projectile vomiting on himself or on Maya. However, the minute they made it down the ramp, he violently heaved the entire remains of both breakfast and lunch into the begonias planted by the ride entrance, while the unfazed Pearl sympathetically patted him on the hand for a good three minutes.

“It’s OK, Mr. Nick,” she said soothingly. “I think that’s some sort of fertilizer for the flowers anyway … You did what you had to do to make your Special Someone happy! And at least Mystic Maya is smiling now!”

“Is she?” Phoenix asked weakly, gratefully taking a huge gulp of the blueberry pie milkshake Pearl gave him to wash the disgusting taste out of his mouth. “Well, that’s good, at least. Um…where did she go?”

Maya was already several hundred yards away from the two and was excitedly bouncing on her heels before a dress-up portrait studio in the Wild, Wild West section.

“Hey check this out! We can dress up as cowboy and cowgirls!” The exuberant girl animatedly made a motion of swinging a lasso over her head. “They even have a fake straw-stuffed pony that Pearly can sit on! Yee-haw!”

“Maya, I am not spending $50 just so you can wear some ridiculous cowboy hat!” The legist stated firmly, already loathing the thoroughly undignified image he would make wearing the “one size fits all” ass-less chaps, which the overly eager teenage girl working at the booth was already insisting would fit perfectly over his blue suit pants.

“We have several other themes if you don’t want to do Western,” the photographer offered. “We can do Disney themes too – the little one here would make the most adorable Tinkerbell, and your girlfriend could be Wendy, while you could be Peter Pan! It’s up to you whether or not you want to wear the hose that comes with his outfit though, because I’ve been told the wool makes your legs itch. Hmmm … you could always be Captain Hook…”

“That sounds so cool, huh Nick?” Not even bothering to correct the girl about her assumption of their relationship status, Maya’s eyes lit up. “How about doing something from Team Rodent?”

“How about no?” Phoenix crossed his arms over his chest. “Maya, I’m a lawyer and we’re in a public place where anyone could spot us! I refuse to be seen wearing peekaboo leather as-” he cast a quick glance at Pearl and cleared his throat. “Er, leather anything – never mind any sort of lederhosen!”

“It’s not lederhosen!” The girl corrected helpfully. “Hose – like pantyhose. But you know, for men. More like tights, really!”

You’re not helping at all, lady! Phoenix thought in aggravation, trying to ignore Maya’s pouty lip and the death glare Pearl was shooting him for his recalcitrance.

“Forget the hose or whatever you want to call it!” He snapped. “I also refuse to wear any sort of phony hook on my hand!”

“Mr. Nick, you’re being a very bad Special Someone!” Pearl stamped her little foot.

“I’ll do two prints for the price of one and knock $10 off the price – so that will be a pair of 8 x 10 images for just $40!” The girl offered quickly, trying to appease the murderous-looking little girl. “We have tons of costumes to choose from! Um, there’s Aladdin and Jasmine and the Genie….” She suddenly snapped her fingers. “Aha! How about the new Steel Samurai and Pink Princess?”

“That would be amazeballs!” The necromancer was positively giddy. “Did you know I inspired the creation of that show? The Pink Princess I mean! She was designed after me!”

“I can totally see it!” The portrait worker grinned. “And your daughter is tiny enough to fit into the oversized carriage and be The Bronze Baby!”

“Come on, Nick!” Maya turned on the puppy-dog eyes towards the unsmiling attorney. “Please be my Steel Samurai! Pretty, pretty please, with sugar on top?”

Phoenix groaned inwardly, knowing when he’d been bested.

“You may have to hold the headpiece under your arm like a helmet instead of wearing it, sir.” The photo girl was eyeing him critically as she held the costume head part against his skull. “I’m not sure if this will fit over your spikes…”

Five minutes later, the trio was suited up in their costumes while the photographer cheerfully took multiple shots of “the adorable little family.”

The whole time, Pearl continued barking at the unenthused lawyer to “put his arm around the Pink Princess and hold her close, Mr. Nick! She’s supposed to be your wife who you love!”

He sighed and obligingly wrapped an arm around Maya’s metal-armor suited shoulder while forcing a mortified smile at the camera’s blinding flash. All the while, he was desperately wishing the helmet had fit his head. That way, he could have hidden from the group of giggling teens who happened to walk by at that moment, although the genuine gleeful smiles on both Maya and Pearl’s faces – even with a fresh candy pacifier in the latter’s mouth! – almost atoned for his humiliation.

And that was how Phoenix Wright ended up literally playing the role of Maya’s hero, The Steel Samurai, forever immortalized on printed film.

The attorney was feeling a little bit light in the head from his upchucking incident … as well as light in the pants – wallet-wise! – after the photo shenanigans, but Cupid From Hell, Pearl Fey wasn’t quite done torturing him yet.

“Look! There’s the Tunnel of Love ride!” The little girl squealed excitedly, clasping her hands to her cheeks and going all starry-eyed. “You guys should go on there next! It’s a little boat that goes through a dark tunnel – so romantic!”

As usual, their Ace Shipper was as subtle as a Mack truck. Even Maya was blushing at this latest stratagem.

“Pearly, we went on the roller coaster because it was only thirty seconds and the nice man there said he was going to keep an eye on you,” she explained guardedly, not even looking at Phoenix, whose face was as red as hers. “But this ride seems to be quite a bit longer, and from what I can see, these boats only seat two people…”

“That’s fine, Mystic Maya!” Pearl was completely undaunted. “I can wait outside until you lovebirds are done the ride!”

This kid is going to ensure that I die of embarrassment before the day is done! Phoenix thought in disbelief. Assuming the food and the rides don’t kill me first…

“No, Pearly,” Maya stated firmly, looking relieved to have found a legit excuse. “I don’t want to leave you alone for that long – you’re just a little girl and that would be very irresponsible of me! After all, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you while we’re on the ride – it’s very crowded here and we might lose you…”

“Nick! Maya! Pearly! Fancy seeing you guys here!”

The trio turned around and saw none other than Larry Butz. The children’s illustrator was in all his familiar monkey sweater, floppy beret artist glory and seated at a small booth, with an array of paints around him, and stationed right in front of the Tunnel of Love ride.

“Larry, hi.” Phoenix flashed a genuine smile in his old chum’s direction, for once grateful by the other man’s customary ill-timed interruption. “What are you doing here? I thought you had a world art tour scheduled?”

“Not until next month!” Laurice Deauxnim replied cheerfully, coming over and playfully tapping Pearl on the nose. “I’m honing my professional skills by doing face painting for the kids! I couldn’t help but overhear your dilemma, folks. Never fear, the Butz is here! I can totally watch the little cutie pie while you two go on the love ride!”

Phoenix and Maya flashed the artist sickly grins, frantically wracking their brains for any justification to get out of this coercion, but finding none.

“Can you paint my face too, Mr. Larry?” Pearl asked eagerly, already climbing onto the stool at the booth.

“Whatever you want!” The artist grinned, flashing a wink and thumbs up to his friends. “And for you, little lady – no charge!”

“Well, um, thanks then, Larry.” Phoenix shuffled his feet. “I guess we’ll meet you guys here after the ride?”

“Sure thing! Have fun!”

As the duo headed towards the ride, the pisky-haired man couldn’t help but feel like there was a sort of unspoken pressure on him to make some sort of move, given the romantic setting and the cheesy love songs blaring throughout the ride.

But I’m not sure I’m ready for that just yet!

He could already see a young couple already making out like bandits the moment they got into their boat, while the strains of Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” played from within the tunnel.

Holy Odin and all the little cherubs! Yeah, there’s no pressure here at all! I can’t believe those two are already playing tonsil hockey like that with a bunch of kids around!

“Check out those two!” He joked to his assistant as he settled himself into their makeshift gondola. “They must be scuba divers – I have yet to see them come up for air!”

Instead of making a wisecracking jibe, Maya let out what could only be described as a wistful sigh.

“I think it’s kind of sweet, actually, to be so in love that you don’t care who witnesses it. I’m really sorry Pearly forced you to come on here with me Nick.” She stared down at her lap, cheeks still pink. “I guess she’s stuck on this idea of us being Special Someones up until the very end! I – I can tell you didn’t really want to be here.”

Two-timing tap dancers Stompin sour mash in a mink-lined arthropod trap! Phoenix stared at the brunette beauty in disbelief, reflexively putting his hand to his jacket pocket to see if his gift of love was still there – it was. What can I possibly say in response to that to the girl of my dreams? The one who has no idea that the real reason I was so hesitant about this is that I’m a chicken shit who has no idea how she feels about me, and not because I dread the idea of being alone in the dark with her?!

“It’s not that I don’t want to be here with you, Maya!” He awkwardly scratched the back of his neck as he felt the boat beginning to pull them along in the water, while the background music changed to “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole. “It just seems so forced and contrived – being on a dilapidated old creaky boat with cheesy tunes playing in the background, all pretty much pressuring you to be in the mood, you know?”

“You know what your problem is Nick?” Maya puffed up her cheeks and crossed her arms over her chest. “You are an insensitive, unfeeling cur! An acerbic cynic without a romantic bone in his body!”

“Objection! That is nowhere near true!”

Phoenix was taken aback by the offhand attack. He had never deemed himself to be the nonromantic sort. Historically, he was at least gushy – how else could he possibly explain his readiness to wear that horrendous pink sweater Iris had made him back in his college Feenie era?!

Well, perhaps all my actions back during my poisoned glass-eating days should be chalked under overly schmoopy simp or temporary insanity rather than amorous…

“I am plenty romantic! How can you possibly say otherwise?” He demanded. “I’m just not the schmaltzy, lovey-dovey  showboating type, that’s all!”

They were now in the dark, with only a thin ray of sunlight streaming from behind them.

“How can you say it would be schmaltzy to be somewhat swayed by this music, you stodgy stuffed shirt?” The background music was now playing “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers. “I could be sitting in this ride right now with a stuffed animal and I’d still feel some stirrings in my heart!”

“Maya, are you seriously angry with me right now?” Tentatively, Phoenix reached over and placed his hand on hers. “I’m sorry if I said something that made you think I wasn’t enjoying being here with you. I really am. In fact, there is absolutely no other place I’d rather be, and no other person in the world I would want to be tugged around on a rickety boat with, while listening to corny love songs, than you.”

“Really, Nick?” Her voice softened then as the vessel went through another passageway, this one heart-shaped with twinkling red and pink lights. “Do you honestly mean that?”

“I really do.” He swallowed nervously. “This is our last day together until God knows when, and up until now, you were smiling, which is all of ever wanted to see you do! Seeing you happy, knowing that I’ve had anything to do with it, is the greatest feeling in the world.”

“That’s so sweet!” Maya was completely starry-eyed and she was clasping her hands to her chest, all but swooning now. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it!”

Surprised by her reaction but encouraged slightly, Phoenix continued and leaned closer.

“Believe it. In fact, there’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for the longest time now…”

“Oh my gosh, Nick! It’s too adorable for words!”

The spirit medium was officially cooing now, which confused him somewhat. Maya could be enthusiastic and effusive more than any female he’d ever known, but she had never been the overly squeeing girly type!

“Um, OK. Like I was saying…”

“Nick!” She excitedly pointed at something just overhead. “Just look at them! Right above you!”

“What?!” Glancing upward, Phoenix saw two small black and white birds hovering directly over him, their tiny wings fluttering madly as they happily chirped.

“They’re lovebirds!” Maya was positively giddy. “We’re in The Tunnel of Love and you literally have lovebirds hovering over your head –  out of all the other couples in here! It’s so adorbs! Just like a real-life Disney cartoon!”

Just then, one of the birds swooped down and began pecking away at the gold defense attorney’s badge, pinned on the lapel of his suit jacket.

“Holy crapballs!” He instinctively drew back. “What in tarnation…?”

“Oh wait – silly me! Those aren’t lovebirds!” Maya giggled as the persistent bird continued to tap at Phoenix’s badge. “Those are Magpies! They’re attracted to gleaming objects! Aw! He must like your badge because it’s so bright and shiny!”

“It better be! I just polished it!” Phoenix reflexively tried to swat at the annoying little pest. “Shoo! Go away!”

“Nick, you big bully!” Maya clenched her fists and puffed out her cheeks. “Go pick on something your own size! You almost hit him!”

He’s the one picking at me!” The irked man once again tried to shoo the bird away, this time more gently. “I don’t see you helping me out at all!”

“He can’t help it! It’s your fault! Who told you to wear your business suit, never mind your prized badge, to a freaking amusement park?!”

“You never know when people might need a defense attorney! How else am I supposed to identify myself as one?!”

Thoroughly irritated now, Phoenix yanked off the badge and pocketed it, making the disgruntled avian and his partner flutter off at last, then stonily met a pair of laughing mocha eyes.

Thanks for the support there, Maya!”

“What is it with you and animals Nick?” The diviner’s tone was no longer chastising as she doubled over with mirth. “First pigeons pecking at your head – undoubtedly thinking your spikes were prime nesting ground….”

“Easy on the hair jokes there! And don’t try to rewrite history! Those flying rodents were attracted to the bird seeds that freak Victor Kudo was pelting me with at the time!”

Maya ignored his outburst and laughingly continued ticking off on her fingers.

“Then Money the Monkey had a battle of wits with you when he stole your badge during the Big Berry circus case … which should have been called Phoenix Wright, Ape Attorney!”

“Maya, I swear to God…”

“And then, on our trip to England, little Constantine in Labyrinthia kept trying to make your buns part of his regularly scheduled diet…”

“Oh, you’re just hilarious aren’t you?” Phoenix muttered darkly, severely displeased at the reminder of Barnham’s little dog and his deceptively sharp teeth.

“And now, the magpies!” Maya couldn’t stop howling. “Forget three – that’s four strikes, Nick! I’d say you’re long out!”

“Grr! Give it a rest, Maya!” Any romantic inklings Phoenix had had toward his assistant were completely vanquished by now!

“It’s a miracle that Polly the Parrot allowed you to cross-examine her without attacking you, too!”

“Well golly-lolly, Miss Molly, is it any wonder why you’ve never been privy to my romantic side?!”

And that was Phoenix Wright’s not-so-loving experience in the tunnel of love with Maya Fey.

When they came off the ride, they found a beaming Larry and Pearl waiting outside the exit for them. The spirit medium’s adorable visage had been artfully decorated to resemble a cat, complete with little black whiskers and even a tiny heart on her cheek. The defense attorney had to admit his friend’s art skills were much better than he had anticipated. He even asserted as much before thanking the artist and whisking the girls off for their next adventure.

“Mr. Nick, look over there!” Pearl pointed to a young girl, not much older than her own age, happily staggering away with her father from the Test Your Strength game, carrying an enormous Blue Badger doll that was nearly the same size as she was. “Why don’t you go over there and win a trophy for Mystic Maya?”

“Um…” Phoenix dubiously eyed the contraption, where if you pounded hard enough with the attached rubber mallet, and had the meter light hit the bell over top, you won a prize. The size depended on how high up on the strength scale you measured. “Sure, why not?”

“I wouldn’t mind having a little souvenir from today!” Maya agreed gaily. “Let’s go!”

“Step right up!” The gamekeeper was shouting at the crowds. “Show off your strength and win your pretty lady a prize!”

He beamed at the blue attorney, then winked at Pearl and Maya.

“Think he’s got what it takes?”

“You bet he does!” Pearl crowed. “Mr. Nick here could do anything for Mystic Maya!”

The flustered defense attorney quickly handed over his money and looked up at the levels, which read from bottom to top: Supermouse, Panty Waste, Creampuff, Sissy, Ladies, Hepcat, Popeye, Samson, and Superman.

“Go, Nick!” Maya cheered as he grabbed the mallet and swung with all his might.

Four efforts, and an obscene amount of money later, the sweaty and red-faced defense attorney was disgruntled to see that despite his most Herculean efforts, his personal worst was Ladies and he couldn’t manage to get past Hepcat – although his last effort had nearly gotten him to Popeye level.

“Good try, Mr. Nick,” Pearl offered encouragingly, although her disappointment at his failed manly efforts was impossible to disguise.

“This thing is rigged!” Phoenix glowered, stretching out his sore arms. “There is no way that any man is meant to reach Superman level!”

“Let me try you, big Sissy!” Without warning, Maya reached into his back pocket and grabbed his wallet. “It’s going to take a woman to show you how it’s done!”


“One more try, Mister,” the psychic told the operator. “I’m going to win the biggest prize you’ve got! Take that!”

With almost superhuman force, the petite spirit medium swung down with the mallet, ringing the bell with a loud clang as it hit Superman level, earning a whoop of laughter from the surrounding crowd and a hearty congratulations from the gamekeeper.

Skullf*ck a duck and call me Felix! How the hell did she just do that? Phoenix felt his stomach drop, along with the remains of his self-esteem. Is this what an all-burger diet can do for you, even though the only exercise I’ve seen her do is lifting a fork to her mouth?! Maybe there were some strengtheners added to the Threesome Burger she just consumed?

“Congratulations, Miss!” The worker smilingly handed Pearl a nearly life-sized blue badger. “Looks like it’s pretty obvious who wears the pants in this relationship!”

Wow, punch me in the dong and call me squeaky! That wasn’t emasculating at all! Phoenix screamed mentally, trying to ignore the snickers from the onlookers as Pearl waddled away clutching the doll, with Maya promising her cousin an equally big one at the next game they played. Remind me never to challenge this girl to an arm-wrestling match…

“Maybe you can try to show your aiming skills at the ball toss into milk cans game, Mr. Nick,” the child suggested kindly, noticing the crestfallen expression on his face. “I don’t think that the balls are too heavy…”

“Thanks, Pearls.” His face flamed. “I think I’ll manage!”

They approached the next game, where the object was simply to throw the ball into the hole of the brightly painted milk cans in order to win a prize. The softballs were actually painted black with little ridges on them.

“How cool is this?” Maya grabbed a ball out of Phoenix’s hand as he paid for a round of them. “They’re painted to look like little grenades!”

Despite the aptly fitting Grenade playing in the background at the Launch a Grenade game booth, Phoenix found he couldn’t get more than two balls in a row into the targeted area, which was beyond maddening, since three were required to win the big prize. $35 later, he was still trying. It certainly didn’t help that the necromancer had valiantly offered to give the enormous Blue Badger she’d won to Pearl, which meant he was actually trying to win this prize for Maya instead of her less-mocking little cousin!

“They should have played this song in the Tunnel of Love,” his cohort remarked as he grabbed another ball. “Bruno Mars really knows how to tug your heartstrings!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Maya!” He stared at her dubiously. “How is a man willing to be blown up to smithereens just so the girl he likes will like him back, in any way, shape, or form, considered to be romantic?”

“You just never get it, do you, Nick?” Maya puffed out her cheeks. “I understand that nobody asked Bruno to catch a grenade to prove his love – but it’s the fact that he is willing to do
anything and whatever it takes for the sake of the girl he loves is what makes this song so touching!”

“You say touching, I say distracting!” Phoenix scowled. “How am I supposed to concentrate with that ridiculous song playing over and over again?”

“Excuses, excuses!” Maya shoved her way in front of him just then, and with rapid-fire succession, sank all three balls right into the milk cans, then took a dramatic bow at the smattering of applause of the visitors around her who had witnessed her triumph and Phoenix’s shame – yet again!

The morning went on in exactly the same fashion, with the determined lawyer desperately trying to win a trophy for Maya at every single game from Whac-a-Mole to the Shooting Range, and either failing miserably or coming thisclose to victory, only to have his assistant take over and just wind up winning the prizes herself!

Feeling completely dejected, the forlorn blue attorney miserably hauled the nearly overflowing armload collection of stuffed animals as he followed the Feys around the park, wondering how this day could possibly get any worse. Well for him, anyway. Maya seemed happy, so he supposed that was all that mattered.

Still, it seemed ever since the photo booth, when he’d dressed up as The Steel Samurai, all he’d been doing was steadily declining in Maya’s eyes – from hero to zero!

And that was how Phoenix Wright nearly went broke playing amusement park games at Gatewater Land.

This seemingly endless day went on, with Phoenix shelling out the dollars for whatever the cousins desired, none of which thankfully included any more crazy rides in the least – Ferris wheels and Merry-go-Rounds he could handle, no problem! He even got to enjoy his one moment of masculinity as both girls clung to him in terror when they entered The Haunted House. He was daring to think things were starting to look up, when Maya suddenly spotted the rowboat ride.

“Check it out, Nick! Let’s all go on!” She shook his arm, nearly spilling his armload of stuffed animals to the ground. “It’ll be so much fun!”

“Sure thing.” Phoenix was looking forward to giving his arms a break on a relaxing boat ride since they already felt like cooked spaghetti – who’d have known an army of stuffed dolls could be so heavy? He could barely see the ground in front of him! Naturally, the Pink Badger that Maya had won for herself at the Ring Toss rivaled the one Pearl was carrying in size!

His spirits sank when they reached the boat and saw it only had one set of oars! Seeing as how Pearl was too little to manage the weight of all three of them, and in spite of her macho display at the strength booth, Maya’s sole physical activity consisted of flushing the toilet, he knew who was going to get stuck doing the all rowing for the three of them!

Well, at least today’s trip will be an exercise in building my muscles, if not my confidence…

With Pearl lovingly clutching her blue badger doll, and the rest of the trophies safely sitting in the bottom of the boat, Phoenix set off on rowing through the body of water that surrounded the park, finding himself beginning at last to relax. Pearl’s eyes were lit up like stars as she gazed at the scenery, and at one point, Maya let out a blissful sigh and briefly rested her head on his shoulder, looking more at peace than he’d seen her look since the whole nightmare at Hazakura Temple.

Everything was going swimmingly until two unexpected things happened at the same time.

“Look, there’s Mr. Eh-ji-worth!” Pearl frantically waved to the magenta-clad prosecutor, who was standing next to a pretty, ebony-haired teenage girl with a key in her ponytail. “Over there on the bridge! Yoo-hoo! I don’t think he sees us though!”

The little girl began leaning dangerously close to the edge of the boat, nearly tipping it over with her zeal.

“Pearly!” Maya cried in alarm. “Don’t!”

At this exact moment, a magpie bird fluttered overhead, and zeroed in on Phoenix’s reattached attorney’s badge, making a move to swoop in on it.

“Will you scat, already!” Rising up on his knees, Phoenix swatted at the bird, uncaring if Maya called PETA on him this time.

His additional motions caused the precarious boat to begin rocking even more dangerously.

“Ack!”  Pearl screamed in terror, her eyes widened in fright. “I’m falling!”

“Pearls!” He gave up on fighting the fiendish bird and reached behind him, swiftly pulling the child back into the boat and to safety, just as the discontented avian flew off – but not before leaving a certain nasty parting gift in its wake – right on top of his head!

“Ugh! That dang bird just plopped in my hair!” Phoenix shouted furiously. “I’ll bet you anything it was the same jerk one from the tunnel ride!”

The merciless spirit medium couldn’t stop giggling maniacally, even as she fumbled into her purse to hand him a tissue.

“You know Nick, in some cultures they say that if a bird uses you as its bathroom, it’s a sign of good fortune…”

Disregarding the fact that Phoenix was still on his knees, Maya stood up, as she was too short to reach the top of his head sitting down. She was momentarily oblivious about the unsteady stabilization of the boat, which immediately began teetering again.

“…Maybe this was a sign of your luck doing a turnabout!”

“Maya – no!” He began to wobble dangerously and fervently tried to regain his balance. “Stay back at your side! Don’t…!”

It was too late. There was a large splash as the defense attorney fell overboard, right into the cold water!

“Mr. Nick!” Pearl shouted, peering down at the drenched, spluttering attorney. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Pearls!” He muttered grumpily, grateful that the river was only waist deep. “I’m thankful that at least one of you showed concern for my safety!”

Maya was too busy clutching her sides and laughing to inquire about his well-being.

“It’s all good, Pearly!” She gasped between giggles. “Nick needed to wash the bird poop out of his hair anyway!”

“Hardy-har-har!” Phoenix grumbled, ducking his head back into the water to do just that. “How about you pass me that oar and help me get back in the boat, Maya?”

“Yeah, yeah, forget the oar, just give me your hand, you clumsy clod!” Maya snickered, unwinding her purse strap from her neck and setting it down in the boat then stretching out her arm. In doing so, she missed the devious glint in her friend’s eye.

Clumsy clod she said? He thought evilly. Let’s see how she likes these apples!

Phoenix reached up to take Maya’s hand, gripping it firmly before giving a sharp tug, hauling the shrieking, unsuspecting spirit medium right into the water beside him.


“Gack!” The psychic gasped and spat up water as she resurfaced. “This water is freezing!”

“I thought you were used to cold water from all your waterfall training?” He quipped, his irritation completely vanished now, replaced by mirth as he saw her indignant expression.

“Phoenix Wright! You did that on purpose!”

“Sorry, Maya,” he deadpanned. “I thought given your Superman strength, you’d be able to pull me up with no troubles at all!”

“Why I oughta –”

“Will you two stop arguing!” Pearl yelled, putting her hands on her hips. “This is our last day together, so let’s enjoy it! You’re both wet, and you both look equally silly! Neither one of you is made of sugar, so it’s not as though you’re going to melt!”

The pair stared in shock at the little girl, then looked at one another and cracked up, finally realizing the lunacy of the situation.

“She’s right, you know!” He chuckled, softly brushing the long, soaked strands falling into Maya’s eyes back from her face. “You do realize that something as ludicrous as this could only happen to us, right?”

“Oh, Nick!” Maya giggled, gently wiping the water away from his forehead. “I guess I deserved that after all, busting your chops all day like I’ve been doing! I’m sorry! I’ve tried to keep things the way they’ve ever been, joking around and teasing you the way I’ve always done because if I focus too hard on the fact that this is truly is our last day together … I – I…”

Her voice began to tremble as tears filled her eyes.

“Don’t cry,” he whispered, momentarily forgetting Pearl’s presence in the boat. “Please don’t cry, Maya. A part of me dies inside whenever you do. We still have the rest of today … and it’s not as though you and Pearls aren’t going to keep in touch, right?”

“Of course we will!” Maya wrapped her drenched arms around his neck and buried her head in his shoulder. “I’ll call you, and I’ll get the Internet installed in Kurain so I can email you, and will come down and visit you every weekend … I promise!”

Neither one of them noticed Pearl clutching her cheeks and staring adoringly at the two most important people in her life from the boat. As far as she was concerned, despite Phoenix’s bumbling antics, which had somewhat thwarted her every matchmaking attempt, Operation Gatewater Land had been at least a partial success.

Even if in the end, things had ended up all wet!

After all, wasn’t there a saying that couples that got soaked together, stayed together?

 Pearl Fey and Maya Fey
Train Station
March 14, 2019, 5:15 AM

“I didn’t think you would ever stop crying when you hugged Mr. Nick goodbye,” Pearl informed her cousin as they continued waving out the window at Phoenix while the train slowly pulled away until he was gradually out of sight. “I’m sorry you’re so sad again, Mystic Maya.”

“I’m being such a doofus!” Maya wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her robe. “I know I’m going to be seeing Nick again in a couple of weeks for a visit, but it just won’t be the same as seeing him every day and waking up to see him at the breakfast table and going on investigations with him…”

“You really do love him, don’t you Mystic Maya?” It was a statement, not a question.

At this point, Maya saw no point in refuting what the observant child obviously knew to be the truth, and nodded miserably.

“You know I do, Pearly,” she admitted forlornly. “I always have.”

“Then why were you being so mean to him at the park yesterday?” The acolyte burst out, swatting her guardian on the arm. “You kept making fun of him and laughing at him! That’s not what girls are supposed to do when they like a boy!”

“That’s just the way Nick and I are!” Maya protested, rubbing her shoulder where her surprisingly strong cousin had whacked her. “I wasn’t trying to be mean! Nick knows I was just kidding around!”

“You never know when to quit, Mystic Maya!” Pearl lectured, waving her finger disapprovingly. “How was Mr. Nick supposed to know how you really feel if you keep mocking him and calling him Old Man all the time?”

“Pearly, remember that I love himnot vice versa,” Maya reminded her tiredly. “Nick loves me as a friend, nothing more.”

“You’re being ridiculous!” Pearl declared. “He’s your Special Someone, whether either one of you wants to admit it or not!”

“No, Pearly. If Nick loved me, after my life was in peril for the third time, if you count the time we went to England together, he would have told me by now.” Maya laughed ruefully and shook her head. “At Hazakura Temple, it could just as easily been me that died, not just my mother. Nothing makes you realize how much someone means to you until you nearly lose them.”

I should know, she added silently. When I was kidnapped by that maniac and thought I was going to die, my sole thoughts were of you, dear Pearly, and Nick. Because that’s who really mattered to me in the end.

“Maybe he’s afraid and is waiting for you to tell him how you feel first!”

“Pearl Fey, believe me…” Maya swallowed back the tears once again threatening to fall. “If I thought, for one single moment, that Phoenix Wright actually loved me, there was no way I’d have ever gotten on this train. I would’ve run right out of this boxcar, and straight into his arms! I still would if I could. If I thought that he wouldn’t go sprinting in the opposite direction… I would run to him, right here right now, and never, ever look back.”

 Phoenix Wright
Wright & Co. Law Offices
April 3, 2019, 9:45 AM

Phoenix sighed as he stared at the tiny jeweler’s box sitting on his office desk.

I can’t believe it! He buried his head in his hands. She’s officially gone now, and I still haven’t given Maya her gift! I completely wasted my golden shot at Gatewater Land, otherwise known as A Series Of Unfortunate Events – to finally let her know how I feel about her! I don’t know when I’m going to get another opportunity! I may have lost my last chance to let her know I love her! I truly am the biggest sissy on the face of God’s green Earth!

He pounded on his forehead with the heel of his palm.

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself – it’s not like Maya moved to China or something! It’s not like I’m not going to see her again in just a fortnight, since it is going to be her milestone birthday and all…Birthday. Wait! That’s it!

Clenching his jaw determinedly, he fired off a quick email to first Dick and Maggey Gumshoe, then to Larry, outlining his game plan for Maya’s birthday festivities.

Now he just had one more person to add to the guest list, and if he could make it, it would just be the cherry on the sundae, as Maya adored him nearly as much as Phoenix himself did.


Hey Edgeworth,

Maya’s 21st birthday is on April 17th. Since it’s a milestone year for her, I’m thinking of having a little party for her at The Borscht Bowl Club. I know this Interpol gig has you traveling all over the place, but on the off chance your work would allow you to come to LA with these two weeks’ notice – you know I’ve always been a last minute sort of guy – it’d be great to see you again. With Maya and Pearl both back in Kurain now, the old gang hasn’t all been together since Gumshoe took us to that lousy French restaurant ran by that dude who looks like a lady – what was that freak’s name again? Claurice Armstrong? Anyway, let me know if you can make it!


He leaned back in his chair and smiled contentedly at the framed photo on his desk of himself as The Steel Samurai with his favorite girls in the world, in all their Pink Princess and Bronze Baby glory.

Cost of one final outing to Gatewater Land, about a full paycheck. Cost of seeing that multi-million dollar smile on Maya Fey’s face – priceless.

He deftly flipped open the velvet box, and lovingly ran his fingers over the exquisite, shiny heart-shaped gold pendant on a braided gold necklace lying within it. The pendant itself was actually a locket, with a picture of Mia on one side of it, and the other taken with Maya’s camera phone as a selfie of herself, Phoenix, and Pearl together, on the boat ride at Gatewater Land, right before they had both tumbled overboard!

He read the inscription he’d had engraved on the back and chuckled softly to himself.

I love you madly, without question or reason, and care naught if it’s for a lifetime or a season.

And Maya thought he wasn’t romantic.

Someday, Phoenix swore to himself. Someday, hopefully soon… I’m going to find the guts to give you that locket, and finally tell you those words, in person, Maya Fey.


The End

End Notes

Whitney Houston – Run to You




My Life Would Suck Without You Copyright © by JordanPhoenix. All Rights Reserved.

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