The Borscht Bowl Club, April 18, 2019, 12:00 a.m
Maya had never been
much of an overly active individual. At most, her idea of exercise consisted of
lifting food to her mouth and flushing the toilet! Phoenix had once joked that
the reason she wasn’t 400 pounds despite her never-ending burger consumption
was because of all the extra calories she burned running her mouth!
It was truly one of those freak-of nature things that Maya had managed to stay skinny despite the inexplicable combination of sedentary and gluttonous lifestyle. Slim, but still far from athletic.
However, the moment Phoenix completed his song and had blushingly taken the last of his multiple bows to the whistling and cheering audience, her slender high-heeled legs took off in such a lightning sprint towards him that an Olympic gold medalist would have been put to shame.
Phoenix had started making his way back to their table, his journey slightly delayed as every step he took was met with eager handshakes, back-slaps, or some sort of performance kudos from all the effusive bar patrons he encountered along the way. He smiled and ducked his head shyly as he murmured his thanks, still red-faced from the unaccustomed lavish praise and attention, all the while vowing to himself to never try to become any sort of celebrity, who would have to deal with this sort of unrestrained devotion on a daily basis. At least there was no paparazzi flashing cameras in his face though!
Although his concentration was divided between his adoring ‘fans’ and his targeted path, his eyes somehow never managed to lose sight of the can’t-miss red blur that was dashing towards him, hurtling through the crowd like a pint-sized quarterback.
Phoenix reflexively held out his arms, partially in an attempt to catch the faster than a speeding bullet object zooming towards him, and partially to keep from being knocked over like a bowling pin by the sheer vigor of the inevitable upcoming impact.
He was successful in only one of his endeavors.
The spirit medium’s body collided full-force with his. Phoenix tightly wrapped his arms protectively around her, ensuring she had full use of him as a cushioned landing as he toppled backwards towards the ground, with Maya winding up sprawled on top of him.
Luckily, the gushing crowd had continued following him up until this point. The fall was mostly broken at the last split-second, as a couple of guys managed to catch Phoenix right before his head hit the ground, so he therefore landed mostly on his rear-end, and the only thing that ended being hurt was his dignity.
“Thanks, guys!” Phoenix managed to wheeze to the helpful men as they retreated with the rest of the crowd at last. He remained there in the bizarre half-sitting, half-laying position for another moment, breathlessly winded as Maya lay there on top of him, frantically raining kisses all over every inch of his face.
“Nick!” Maya finally paused in her slew of smooches and looked down at him with an impish twinkle in her eye. “Nick, you goofball! You were supposed to catch me!”
Phoenix half-laughed, half-groaned as he struggled to get to his feet. “I’m a lawyer, Maya, not a linebacker! And you’re slightly larger than the old pigskin!”
“I didn’t want you to catch me like a football, silly!” With subsequently more grace than the attorney, Maya managed to get to her feet first and graciously extended Phoenix her hand to pull him up. “I wanted you to catch me in your arms and lift me over your head like they did in that scene in Dirty Dancing!”
“I’m no Patrick Swayze either,” Phoenix chuckled as he rose, taking her proffered hand and planting a kiss on it. “Or Fred Astaire. Surely you can’t expect to me to be able to play piano, sing, and dance?”
“You were able to do one of those, Wright,” Edgeworth unexpectedly cut in. Unnoticed by the duo, he and the rest of their friends had all come to join them where they now stood. The prosecutor shot Phoenix his best shit-eating grin. “Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves now!”
“I’ll give you a hint which one it was, Pal!” Gumshoe laughed. “It wasn’t the playing!”
“Yeah, but could he ever belt out that tune!” Larry enthused. “Since when can you sing, Nick?”
“You never know what you can do until you try, Larry. I didn’t know I could, either! I swear to you, prior to this spur-of-the-moment performance, my only belted ballads have been in the shower.”
“You are most definitely a more worthy singer than pianist, Phoenix Wright,” Franziska conceded, treating him to his first-ever unmalevolent smile. “But…do not quit your day job.”
“Don’t worry,” Phoenix deadpanned. “I wouldn’t dream of taking your favorite courtroom adversary/whipping boy away from you.”
“Just the former, Wright. Franziska has given me her word that she’s going to refrain from lashing any of you any more, except with her tongue, tonight’s little slip-up not withstanding!” Edgeworth pulled his fiancée to his side and rested his chin on top of her head.
“You mean you whipped Nick tonight, too, Ms. Von Karma?” Maya looked astonished.
“Too? She whipped you, Maya?” Phoenix exclaimed.
Franziska at least had the decency to blush. “It was only one tiny lash in both cases, and desperate times called for desperate measures tonight!” She insisted. “Somebody had to attempt to whip some sense into both you fools!”
“I can’t really argue with that one, can I?” Edgeworth sighed. “Not that I ever could win any sort of battle of wits with this woman!”
“Join the club!” Phoenix laughed, draping an arm around Maya’s shoulders and dropping a kiss on top of her head. She blushed prettily.
“Of all the things to have in common!” Edgeworth chuckled, shaking his head. He smiled broadly at the new couple. “However, I assure you all, becoming a reformed whipper is a work in progress. And regardless, ultimately, it worked right? The ends did wind up justifying the means.”
“I guess she’s right about that, Nick.” Maya smiled adoringly at Phoenix. “Ms. Von Karma was the sole reason I stuck around to listen to that wonderful birthday gift from you.”
"From me too," Edgeworth informed them dryly. "After your unceremonious dethroning of him from his piano bench, Wright, I'm the one who was tasked with bribing Mr. Willie Effastop with a fifty dollar bill to prevent him from pressing charges and charging the stage during your performance. Consider me and Franziska's 'debt' to you crazy kids henceforth repaid!"
“Yes, we’re now completely even! Although in your case, it did cost extra, so I’m sorry, Edgeworth.” Phoenix barely stifled an embarrassed laugh. “Thanks so much!”
“You’re welcome,” Edgeworth sniggered. “Then I had to pay him an additional fifty dollars to stop bawling, so deeply was he dejected when the boisterous crowd cheered at your announcement that you were taking over for him! He wept bitter tears during your entire song about how they had applauded more at hearing that news more than they had for anything he himself had played the entire night!”
“Tough crowd, eh?” Phoenix was openly cracking up now. Maya playfully swatted him on the arm and told him it was mean to laugh, which he supposed it was.
“Indeed,” Edgeworth agreed. “I’m torn between putting the poor croaky pianist out of his – and the customers’ – misery and suggesting he carry on as a mute piano player if he wants to ever win any favors from the audience, or suggesting you take over the gig in his stead.”
“Forget it, Edgeworth.” Phoenix shook his head vehemently. “I’m going to take your fiancée’s advice and not quit my day job. I love squaring off against the both of you in court too much. And for another, I’m not meant to be in the spotlight! This was a one-time deal only.”
“But you were so good at it, Nick!” Larry insisted. “I was so surprised how well that song turned out, seeing as how you claimed earlier how you don’t do well with planned or rehearsed material.”
“I don’t, Larry, and it wasn’t.” Phoenix rubbed the back of his neck and grinned sheepishly. “Tonight’s little ditty of I Would Break Every Law for You, was a 100% Phoenix Wright unplanned original, and 110% pulled out of thin air on a whim.”
“Much like when you scream Objection in the courtroom?” Franziska ribbed.
“And when you mercilessly harangue the witnesses?” Edgeworth joked.
“I’m feeling a trifle wounded and little bit ganged up on here!” Phoenix feigned a pout.
“So go make up a song about it, Pal!” Gumshoe snorted and pantomimed playing on an imaginary keyboard.
“No way guys.” Phoenix grinned. “Sorry to disappoint, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever play piano or perform in public again!”
Outside The Borscht Bowl Club, April 18, 2019, 12:30 a.m
“I never dreamed it would be warmer outside than it is in there,” Maya commented as she stepped out into the balmy night air.
She and Phoenix had managed to tear themselves away from the group at long last, using the appearance of Lana and Ema Skye at their table as an excuse to steal away for a bit and get some time alone together. Their friends had been too busy joyously playing catch up with the sisters to notice their sudden absence.
“So you’re finally going to admit you were freezing your little heinie off in there and wished you listened to me and brought a cover up, are you?” Phoenix teased.
“God, I hate when you’re right!” Maya pretended to scowl, but she was so happy to finally have Phoenix all to herself, even it was just out in the deserted dim alleyway behind the bar, that she couldn’t hold it for long. Finally, she collapsed, laughing against the lawyer’s broad chest.
“OK, you win, Nick!” She straightened up then and playfully tweaked his nose. “Savor these words: you were right, and I was wrong. There, are you happy now?”
“To have finally bested you in a battle of wits for the first time ever? I’m happier than a pup with two tails!”
“Good, then I’m going to take advantage of your cheery disposition and finally ask you what I’ve been dying to since I heard that song for me.” Maya tilted her head to the side questioningly. “Those lyrics you sang…did you really mean them?”
“Each and every word.” He replied sincerely.
“Aha! So you finally admit it! You totally find the Steel Samurai mind-numbingly dumb!”
“That’s all you got out of that entire song I risked humiliating myself in public for?!” Phoenix stared at her, agog, his jaw slack.
“No.” Maya shot him a mischievous grin. “But I had to get you back for that PMS crack somehow, didn’t I, Nick?”
“OK, you got me. I deserved that. But argh! I have no idea what I was thinking when I said what I did!” Phoenix buried his head in his hands. “I am so sorry about that Maya. For this whole mess that happened tonight…I take full responsibility for it all. Can you ever forgive me?” He looked at her pleadingly.
The old Maya Fey, the self-serving young girl who had always tried to call the shots, would have accepted the apology and been happy to have won the battle and gotten her own way as usual. But she was an adult now. And the grown woman that Franziska had kept lecturing her to be that night couldn’t accept Phoenix giving in this time. Not when she herself had hardly been blameless for that evening’s calamities.
Maya looked up into Phoenix’s handsome face, then caught her breath at the intensity of his gaze. Any thoughts of the millions of things she wanted to say to him vanished from her mind as she stared back, hypnotized by the kaleidoscope of emotions she saw in the sapphire depths, knowing they matched what were reflected in her own. She was loathe to break the spell, but there were things she knew he needed to hear first. She drew back slightly and looked at him earnestly.
“N-Nick…” she began, her voice trembling slightly. “I can forgive you anything. I only hope that you can forgive me. I’m so sorry.”
“You’re sorry?” Phoenix’s tender expression was replaced by one of incredulity. “Maya, you have nothing to apologize for! This whole mess tonight was my fault!”
Maya shook her head. “You’re wrong, Nick. There’s a lot I need to apologize for. For being such a diva about this dress, for acting like such a little snot with Tiffany, for completely winding you when I unwittingly tackled you earlier tonight with my clumsy Dirty Dancing reenactment attempt…”
Phoenix laughed softly and drew her into the warm circle of his arms. Looking down at Maya, she saw so much unmasked love on his face that it brought tears to her eyes.
“Don’t you dare apologize. Because that was the second time tonight, Maya Fey,” he whispered. “That you took my breath away.”
Maya couldn’t speak. She was afraid that if she did, this magical dream she felt like she was in would end. And if it was indeed just a dream, she never, ever, wanted to wake up.