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something like magic

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Maya Fey frowned at the placard beside the door to Phoenix Wright's office. Standing on her toes, Pearl glanced from the placard to her cousin in confusion. "What's wrong?"

Maya folded her arms over her chest. "I don't know. I mean, why would Nick change the name of his law office?"

"He changed it?" Pearl squinted at the engraved text. She recognized Wright—she'd seen it written often enough that she knew it despite the weird spelling. "Wright... A-ny-thing Agg-en-ky?"

"Agency, Pearly. See," Maya pointed to the word, "it's a soft G, and when C comes before a vowel it's usually soft too."

"Oh! Okay, so it's Wright Anything Agency!" Wait. That was wrong. "What happened to the old name, then?"

"I don't know, but let's go find out." Maya grasped the knob in her hand and turned it.

The office on the other side of the door looked completely foreign. Strange props filled the room—a top hat on one shelf with a plush rabbit stuffed into it, a hula hoop leaning up against one wall—and the furniture had been rearranged. Phoenix Wright was sitting on the sofa with a girl of about seven or eight. For the first time Pearl could remember, Mr. Nick wasn't wearing his blue suit; he was in a hoodie and a pair of sweat pants. The little girl looked better put-together than him, even in her weird magician-looking getup.

"Okay, here I go!" The girl held out a spread of playing cards, face-down. "Pick a card, any card, but don't tell me what it is."

Phoenix plucked a card and looked at it. He raised an eyebrow. "And now?"

"Now put it back."

He did, and she shuffled the cards in her hands. She drew the top card and showed it to Phoenix. "Is this your card?"

"Wow! It sure is, Trucy." Phoenix grinned. "Nicely done."

"Whoa!" Pearl rushed over to the couch. The mystery of what had happened to the Wright & Co. Law Offices could wait. This was really something. "How did you do that?"

"Eek!" Trucy practically threw the cards at Pearl. "Where did you come from?!"

Phoenix jumped in shock. "Pearls?! And— Maya?" he added as he turned his gaze toward the door.

Maya clasped her hands together and nodded with a grin. "Long time no see, Nick! You haven't called or written for a while, so we thought we'd come visit."

Trucy blinked at the two visitors. "Daddy, who are they?"

"Daddy?" Maya repeated.

"Daddy?" It couldn't be true—Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya were destined to be together. So how could Mr. Nick have a daughter, especially one the same age as Pearl? Pearl's vision blurred as she glared up at Phoenix. "How—how dare you!"

Phoenix cringed and held his hands up in self-defense. "Wait, Pearls, it's not what you think!"

"You have another woman besides Mystic Maya! I can't believe it!"

"Pearly, stop!" Maya exclaimed.

"Daddy, you have a girlfriend?" Trucy looked up at Phoenix with wide eyes.

"I— no— argh!" Phoenix threw his hands in the air.

Trucy got to her feet and curtsied to Maya. "Does this make you my mommy?"

"What?!" Maya shrieked.

"See, Daddy's my new daddy since my old daddy left. My old mommy isn't around anymore either, so if you're Daddy's girlfriend then that makes you my new mommy!" Trucy squinted up at Maya. "You look a little young to be a mommy, though..."

"Nick and I aren't like that!"

"Oh..." Trucy's face fell. "So you aren't my mommy."

"N-no. Sorry..."

"Oh!" Pearl gasped. So Mr. Nick wasn't betraying Mystic Maya after all. What a relief. She smiled at Trucy. "I'm Pearl Fey and this is Mystic Maya. We're friends of Mr. Nick's!"

"Nice to meet you! I'm Trucy Wright." Trucy held her hand out toward Pearl, who just stared. "C'mon, haven't you ever shaken hands before?"

"I usually bow when I meet someone new," Pearl admitted.

"Shaking hands is what you do in the big city," Maya explained. "Go ahead, Pearly!"

"Okay..." Luckily, she'd seen a few examples of people shaking hands before; on television, and sometimes when investigating crime scenes with Phoenix. She clasped Trucy's hand in her own—and then a shock coursed through her body. Pearl shrieked and recoiled.

"Hey!" Maya exclaimed. "What happened?!"

Trucy giggled. Phoenix sighed and shook his head. "Trucy, save the high-level stuff for once you've gotten to know them better."

Pearl sniffled. "Wh-what was that?"

"Don't cry, Pearly! That was just one of my magic tricks."

"A—a magic trick? So you're a real magician?" Pearl gaped at Trucy.

"Yep! But don't ask how it works, because a magician never gives away her secrets."

"It was probably just a joybuzzer," Maya surmised. Trucy glowered at her.

"So—what brings you here anyway, Maya? Pearls?" Phoenix casually brushed some crumbs off of his shirt. "Just because I haven't been in touch lately? Is that all?"

"Well, yeah! You haven't answered any of our calls or letters!"

"I've been a little busy, you know. Raising a kid all of a sudden is a big task."

"And I guess defending doesn't really bring in a lot of money..." Maya mused.

Phoenix froze up.

"Defending?" Trucy repeated.

"You know, in court?"

"Yeah!" Pearl added with an emphatic nod. "Haven't you seen any of Mr. Nick's cases? He always manages to win by the skin of his teeth!"

"Uh, Pearls—" Phoenix started.

"I got to see one," said Trucy. "But then he got disbarred."

Maya and Pearl stared at Phoenix in horror and blank confusion, respectively.

"Disbarred?!" Maya exclaimed.

"Dis-barred?" Pearl repeated. "What's that?"

"It means..." Phoenix sighed and ran a hand through his spiky hair. "It means I can't be a lawyer anymore, Pearls."

"You can't?! Why not? That isn't fair, you were the best lawyer ever!"

"Yeah, Nick!" Maya added. "Who do I need to complain to? I'll get you back your badge!"

Phoenix looked like he was thinking very hard about something. Then he set one hand on Trucy's shoulder and the other on Pearl's and herded them toward the door. "Trucy, Pearls, why don't you two go out and play? There's a new swingset at the park."

"Daddy, are you trying to get rid of us so you and Maya can have an awkward discussion?"

"Ah... yep." Phoenix opened the door and shoved the two girls out into the hall. "See you later."

"Daddy!"

"Mr. Nick, wait!"

The door slammed in their faces and locked. Trucy and Pearl looked up at it with all the force their tiny child glares could muster, but nothing changed.

"Welp," said Trucy, "let's go check out that swingset."

Everything about this park was just sad; the merry-go-round was broken, the slide had stuff growing on it, and even Pearl had seen better swingsets—which, given that she had practically lived under a rock her entire life, was saying a lot. They swung back and forth half-heartedly for a few minutes before just sitting there.

Pearl didn't really have the heart to play around right now, anyway. Mr. Nick couldn't be a lawyer anymore? She couldn't believe it. And his daughter didn't even seem to mind!

"I have an idea," Trucy suggested. "Let's go somewhere else."

"Really? But if we go too far from the office then Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya might get worried."

"It'll be fine! I know this neighborhood like the back of my hand." To demonstrate, Trucy held up her hand, back facing toward Pearl. Then she turned her hand around to show off a playing card she'd pulled out from somewhere.

"Whoa...!" Pearl gaped like a fish. "So you really are a magician, huh?"

"Yeah! I learned everything from my daddy."

Mr. Nick was a magician? Pearl couldn't believe her ears. Apparently guessing what Pearl was thinking, Trucy was quick to amend, "I mean my real daddy, the one who left. He was a really great magician."

"Why did he go away?"

Immediately Pearl regretted asking the question. Trucy stammered out, "Um... well..."

"Sorry! I'm sorry." Pearl bowed at the waist. "I didn't mean to be rude. I know how you must feel."

"You do?"

She fidgeted awkwardly. "My mother's... gone, too."

"Oh..."

They sat in silence for a few moments. Finally Trucy spoke up again. "So, yeah, let's go somewhere else. How about we get some ramen from Mr. Eldoon's noodle stand? Did Daddy ever take you there?"

"Yeah! I don't have any money with me, though."

"Me either. He can just charge it to Daddy's tab. Let's go!" Trucy grabbed Pearl's hand and rushed off out of the playground with her.

"Wait, but— Trucy!"

"Do you have a better idea?"

"Well, no, but..."

"Then quit complaining." Trucy grinned over her shoulder at Pearl. "It's not like we're going very far."

Trucy did have a point. And it had been a while since she'd gotten to have a bowl of Mr. Eldoon's noodles. "All right..."

Besides, the noodle stand was right down the street. It's not like they were going to get lost.

Somehow, they were lost.

"I don't get it," Trucy insisted as they turned another corner. "I've been everywhere in this neighborhood. I could've sworn Mr. Eldoon's stand was right there!"

"I told you, the last time Mystic Maya and I went it was a couple of blocks away," Pearl repeated. "Maybe he moved somewhere else? It is noodle stand with wheels, after all..."

"But he would have said something if he was moving! So I don't get it." Trucy folded her arms. They stopped at a crosswalk to wait for the light to change. "And anyway, I don't understand how we got so turned around. I don't recognize any of these buildings, Pearly!"

"Mystic Maya always says that if I get lost, I should stay where I am," Pearl said. "That way she or Mr. Nick will have an easier time finding me."

"We're not lost! We're just a little turned around. C'mon." The light turned green and Pearl had to hurry to keep up with Trucy crossing the street.

"I really think we might be lost." But then, a flash of inspiration struck. "Hey, Trucy, do you have one of those mo-bile phones? Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya have them and they're really convenient."

"You mean a cell phone?" Trucy frowned. "No, Daddy says I'm too young to have one."

"Oh..." Pearl stopped walking and leaned up against a wall. "I really think we should stay put, Trucy. Even if we're not lost-lost, what if Mr. Nick and Mystic Maya are looking for us?"

Trucy folded her arms in a huff. "Why would they be? They're probably still in the office talking about whatever grownup stuff they wanted us out of the way for."

Pearl twiddled her thumbs and looked down at the sidewalk.

Trucy sighed. "I guess we can wait for a while. So... you want to see some more magic tricks until then?"

Pearl looked back up in surprise. "Really? That would be wonderful!"

"Then here goes!" Suddenly, seemingly from under Trucy's cape, a tall wooden man emerged. He grabbed Trucy's hat and put it on, and his mouth clacked open and shut as he said, "Nice to meet you, I'm Mr. Hat!"

"Eek!" Pearl stumbled backward. "Wh-what in the..."

Trucy laughed. "This is one of my tricks, Pearly! It's called ventriloquism."

"Ven treelo...?"

"Ventriloquism. Even though it looks like Mr. Hat is talking, I'm just throwing my voice." To punctuate the statement, Mr. Hat tipped his hat and added, "Like this!"

"Wow!" Pearl clapped her hands together. Now that she knew the secret behind the trick, it was really cool. "Ooh, can Mr. Hat sing?"

"Can he ever! What do you want him to sing?"

"How about the Steel Samurai theme song?"

"Sure! Here goes..."

The two strangely-dressed girls standing on the street corner were quite a sight to behold, one of them manipulating a puppet into singing a beloved TV show theme and the other clapping her hands and singing along. When Mr. Hat finished his song he tipped his hat with a flourish.

A man passing by dropped a dollar coin into the hat.

"Whoa!" Trucy exclaimed as another passerby dropped in a fifty-cent piece.

"What are they doing?" Pearl stood on her toes to peek into the hat. "Money?"

"Do another one!" someone whistled from nearby.

"Another one?" both girls repeated, sharing a confused look.

"Yeah!" exclaimed another onlooker. "Do the Nickel Samurai theme!"

"Might as well." Trucy shrugged. "Okay, Pearly, a-one and a-two and a—"

By the time the surrounding crowd had gotten bored of the novelty of two adorable children singing TV show themes, Mr. Hat and Pearl had earned twenty-four dollars and five cents.

They sat at a bench at the nearby bus stop to rest their legs, and so that Trucy could count the change in her hat. "Daddy's going to be thrilled. Maybe I should supplement my magic show income with street performing."

Pearl wondered briefly if spirit channeling could be used to make money. Probably not...

"And half of this is yours." Trucy held out a pile of coins for Pearl, who took them and peered down at them in wonder. "Nice job out there, Pearly."

"Wow, I've never earned money for singing before. Or anything, really."

"Isn't it great? Now Daddy and I can buy ramen for this week."

Pearl nearly dropped the coins she was holding. "Huh?! You mean—"

"Yeah. I have to bring home the bacon since Daddy stopped lawyering." Trucy stuck her tongue out sheepishly.

"Then you should take this!" Pearl shoved her coins back into Trucy's hands.

"But—"

"It's fine! I don't need money. I don't buy my own food or pay rent, so..."

"Aw, Pearly." Trucy shoved the money into her pocket and pulled Pearl into a hug. "You're really nice."

Pearl's cheeks heated up. She covered her face with her hands when Trucy pulled away. "I-I, um... we should try and get back home, Trucy."

"But you're the one who said we should stay put."

"Oh yeah." She had said something like that, hadn't she? Right now she was a little flustered, and she didn't even know why.

Trucy glanced around, her eyes lighting up when she spotted something down the street. She jumped to her feet and grabbed Pearl's hand.

"Huh? Where are we going now?"

"You'll see!"

Just a block down was a shop advertising a mind-boggling 31 flavors of ice cream. Pearl hadn't even been aware that there were more than three. Trucy led the way right in, and immediately Pearl stared at the different selections available under the glass counter.

"You didn't want to take your half of the profits, so I might as well get you something." Trucy stepped up to the register. "One cone of peppermint, and... Pearly, what're you having?"

The cashier was less than thrilled to be dealing with two small children, but Pearl didn't even notice. "Um... um!" The choices were overwhelming. But she didn't want to take too much time, so she pointed to one in particular that caught her eye. "I'll have the red bean!"

"And one cone of that." Trucy dug some of the money out of her pocket, and soon the two of them were sitting by the window licking ice cream cones.

Pearl was still a little worried about being lost, and about Mr. Nick's disbarment, but today was turning out surprisingly well. And it was Trucy who was to thank for that.

The sun hung low by the time they'd finished their ice cream cones. Trucy and Pearl stood out on the sidewalk, staring sullenly up at the reddening sky.

"I guess we'd better find some way to get in touch with Daddy and Maya..." Trucy sighed.

"Hey— Pearl Fey? Is that you, pal?"

Pearl gasped and turned to see a heavyset man in a shabby trenchcoat approaching them. "Mr. Scruffy Detective!"

"Wait, where have I seen him before?" Trucy scratched her head.

"That's one of Mr. Nick's friends! Good evening!" Pearl exclaimed, waving her hand above her head.

Detective Gumshoe came to a stop in front of the two girls. "Pearl? And... you're Phoenix Wright's kid, right?" he addressed Trucy. "What are you two doing all the way across town?"

"We, um, kind of..." Trucy looked aside sheepishly.

"We were exploring," Pearl cut in. It might make sense for Pearl to get lost, but Trucy actually lived in this town; Pearl could tell she was feeling embarrassed about it.

"Well, you should explore your ways home, pals. It's getting late. C'mon, I'll walk you there."

As the two girls walked behind Gumshoe, Trucy smiled at Pearl. "I wouldn't really have minded telling the truth."

"Really? Oh..."

"But thanks anyway." She grabbed Pearl's hand and gave it a squeeze, and once again Pearl turned red and wasn't sure why.

"Oh, there you are!"

As soon as they turned onto the block where the Wright Anything Agency was located, Maya and Phoenix came running. Maya crouched down and pulled Pearl into her arms, and Phoenix rested a hand on Trucy's head as he profusely thanked Detective Gumshoe for finding them.

"We were on an adventure, Daddy!" Trucy announced once they were safely inside. "And we got grocery money for the week." She reached behind Phoenix's ear and pulled out a quarter.

"Wow!" Pearl exclaimed. "That's so amazing!"

"Heh heh... It'd be more amazing if she'd just give me the money all at once," Phoenix said.

They had dinner at Eldoon's Noodles—which had simply set up later than usual due to a minor emergency on Mr. Eldoon's part—and Phoenix invited Maya and Pearl back to his apartment to stay the night. He set Maya up on the couch, Trucy and Pearl up on the bed, and took the floor for himself.

"So you're going back to Kurain Village tomorrow?" Trucy whispered. The door leading to the living room was closed, but with the lights off it still felt more natural to speak quietly. At least, that's how Pearl felt.

Pearl nodded. "But we can come back to visit. I know how to ride the train by myself so I don't even need to wait for Mystic Maya to be free."

"Great! Maybe I should try taking the train, too." Trucy grinned. "I wonder what Kurain Village is like."

"Oh, it's so nice! And there's no way to get lost there, either." Pearl giggled.

"I hear giggling," came Phoenix's warning voice from the living room.

That just made them both start giggling harder.

Eventually they fell asleep with their arms wrapped around one another, and Pearl decided that she'd never had a better day in her life.

She wouldn't change her mind until the day when she finally figured out what these feelings were that Trucy Wright evoked.