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Distorted Reflections

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Distorted Reflections: Prologue

"Grandma, tell me a story."

"Hmm...Have I told you the story of the Mirror Pond?"

"No, you haven't told me that story. What is the Mirror Pond?"

"Legend has it that somewhere in the forest, there is a mystical pond. It doesn't reflect anything- instead, if you hold the image of another world in your heart while looking into the pond, it will instead reflect that world, and you can visit it."

"Oh. Does a pond like that really exist, Grandma?"

"I doubt that it does. Even if it did, I wouldn't want you to go to this pond, Juniper."

"Really? Why is that?"

"Because the legend of the pond also says that some people have found the pond. But when they looked into it, they…. Met an unfortunate fate."

"Th-that sounds b-bad. *cough cough*"

"It's just a story, sweetie. Now go to sleep. Tomorrow we're going with Mrs. Cykes and Athena to the zoo."

"Okay, Grandma!"

January 10, 2028

Forest outside Woods residence

1:15 p.m.

"*gasp* Remind me again why I decided to come along on this hike?"

Juniper Woods, a shy, nature-loving girl stopped walking, looking back to where Myriam Scuttlebutt was lagging pretty far behind from everyone else. In the recent months Juniper has been trying to befriend Myriam, but the purple-haired reporter girl wasn't well suited to exercise… or really social interaction in general.

"Do you want to take another rest, Myriam?" Juniper asked gently.

"Another one? Maybe you just need to give it more effort, Myriam," Hugh O'Conner said, the cool-headed young man walking third in their group. A few months ago the friendship between Hugh and Juniper had become very imperiled, but it pulled through and became stronger as a result. For her part, Juniper was helping Hugh study to not fall behind on his grades.

"Easy for you to say. I can see the pit stains on your shirt," Myriam grumbled, to Hugh's dismay.

"Now, now everyone! If we really need a break, we can regroup. But afterwards we're going at double the p-a-c-e!"

Of the four of them, Juniper was walking second in line. That was because ahead of everyone else was none other than Robin Newman. Up until a few months ago, Juniper had known Robin as an passionate man with an artistic streak.

Except in fact, Robin had been a girl the entire time- forced to live as a boy at the behest of her parents. Once Athena broke Robin free of the lie she lived, the young girl was exploring her newfound freedom. It relieved Juniper that Robin remained true to herself, every bit as passionate and art-loving that she's always been.

Hugh and Myriam groaned, knowing full well that Robin was completely serious. Nonetheless, the four of them rested, eating from some carrots grown from Juniper's garden while drinking from bottled water that they'd brought with them. When they were done taking a break, the four friends continued their hike through the forest.

This was just one of many outings that the four friends had gone on since Myriam joined their group. Sometimes Hugh would take them to a place he had visited while working, or Robin would take them to an art gallery. Today, Juniper wanted to show her friends the forest around her home.

Taking the lead, Juniper guided the group through a segment of the forest she wasn't entirely familiar with- Juniper hoped she'd be able to get back home later, and everyone had their cell phones in case of an emergency. However, Juniper wanted to be more brave, and have new experiences.

I'm Juniper Woods, and I'm fine, Juniper thought to herself, the mantra giving her a sense of calm. Off in the distance, Juniper spotted a body of water off the beaten path. Curious about it, Juniper headed in it's direction, the rest of her friends following behind her.

Upon reaching the body of water, Juniper saw that it was a small pond. A curiosity that she immediately noticed is that the surface of the pond didn't seem to reflect anything. Instead, the water was completely glassy, reflecting only the sky no matter how Juniper leaned towards the pond. This caused a faint memory to stir in the back of her head.

"What's up with the pond? It doesn't seem to reflect anything, sss sss sss," Myriam said, arriving with everyone else at the pond.

After wracking her brain, Juniper remembered where she'd heard of this pond. She explained how her Grandma had told her a story a lot like this, when she was a little girl.

"Hmmm. A pond that only reflects different worlds. I wonder what that means," Hugh said. "This sure does not seem to be impressive for a supposed pond of legend."

"I mean, my Grandma says that the legend probably isn't true in the first place," Juniper said. "This is likely just a normal pond."

It was then that Juniper noticed that Robin hadn't said a word since arriving here. Looking back, Juniper saw that Robin was looking into the pond with an odd look on her, then shook her head and looked away.

Juniper felt the need to ask Robin just what was on her mind. Except, chances were Juniper already knew what her friend was thinking. Glancing at the pond, Juniper found her own thoughts going down that path.

Would life have been different for Robin if her parents didn't do what they did? Juniper wondered. If Robin had been born a boy like they wanted… would that have really made them happy?

For a split second, Juniper saw her own reflection in the pond, but it faded, leaving only the glassy surface of the pond. Staring at the pond didn't seem to make anything else happen, so Juniper straightened up and turned to face her friends.

"If we go any further in this direction we will get lost. Should we turn back?" Juniper asked.

"Yes! Please take us back to your place, Juniper," Myriam said.

"Oh! Once we're there let's all watch watch a movie together," Robin said, back to her usual self. "And have some of your Grandma's great home cooking!"

"Sounds like a plan," Hugh said, smiling to himself.

After successfully making her way back home with her friends, Juniper indeed enjoyed watching a comedy movie with them, after which her Grandma served them all dinner. Once all her friends went back to the city, Juniper decided to tell her Grandma about her encounter in the forest.

For a moment her Grandma froze, before saying, "That does sound like a curious little pond. I doubt it's actually the so called Mirror Pond, though."

"Well… I did see my reflection in the pond," Juniper said, unsure of what exactly happened at the pond. "But that pond was still disquieting to me."

"Then put it out of your mind, Juniper," Her Grandma said sternly. "There is no point on dwelling on what ifs."

Taking her Grandma's advice, Juniper went to bed, trying her best to not think about the pond. Yet her mind went around in circles, still nagging at the question she'd asked herself while looking into the pond.

In her mind's eye, Juniper saw the pond again. She headed towards the glassy surface at great speed, before plunging headfirst into the water. As she went deeper and deeper Juniper was blinded by an approaching light-

So you wish it, so it shall be, a garbled voice said in Juniper's head.

Juniper opened her eyes. Looking around her bedroom, she saw that it was now morning. Believing she'd just had a strange dream, she got out of bed and got dressed, getting ready to go to school. It was during her preparations that she noticed something very wrong.

Her proof of friendship was missing.

Chapter Text

Chapter 1: Not as it should be

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence

6:30 a.m.

No matter how thoroughly Juniper searched her room, she couldn't find her proof of friendship. It was an incredibly alarming way to start the morning, but Juniper tried to convince herself that there was some kind of logical explanation.

While having breakfast with her Grandma, Juniper decided to ask her where the red bracelet had gone. The frown on her Grandma's face was disconcerting- but even worse was what she answered.

"I don't remember you ever having such a bracelet. Are you sure you aren't thinking of something else?"

"Well, this bracelet is something me and my friends wear," Juniper said carefully. "Are you sure you haven't seen it, Grandma?"

Virginia Woods shook her head. "No, I haven't seen anything like that."

Juniper felt her heart pound painfully in her chest as her mind went to the pond she found yesterday. Could that have actually been the legendary Mirror Pond? Did that mean Juniper was currently in another world?

No. There just had to absolutely be another explanation at play. Juniper could think of no set of circumstances that would lead to the disappearance of the proof of friendship. More importantly, her Grandma confirmed that Hugh and Robin were still her friends.

If she didn't hurry up, Juniper would be late for school. Yet even as she put on her uniform, Juniper couldn't help but shake a feeling that had settled in her gut. A feeling that something had gone horrendously wrong.

January 10, 2028

Themis Legal Academy, front gates

7:50 a.m.

Waiting at the front gate, as always, was Hugh, reading from a textbook. Juniper smiled at her best friend, and Hugh smiled back as he always did. Standing by him, Juniper waited for what she knew would always come next.

Suddenly, a cardboard by lying Hugh stood up, causing Juniper to leap back in surprise. Arms came out of holes of the cardboard box, revealing that inside was none other than Myriam Scuttlebutt.

"Ahhh! I really wish you wouldn't keep doing that, Myriam," Juniper said, feeling like her heart was going to burst from her chest.

It was then Myriam did something she'd never done before- she took off her box in public. "I know that you keep telling me that, but I can't help but tease you sometimes, Juniper," Myriam said bashfully. "Sorry about that, sss sss sss."

In all the time that Juniper had known Myriam, she'd never apologized once. It was a habit Juniper hoped she could instill in the reclusive girl. Looking at the Myriam, Juniper could see her entire demeanor was different: Myriam's posture was relaxed, her smile looked natural, her entire expression was just softer. It was almost like Myriam was another person entirely.

"It's still good to see you Myriam," Juniper said, even as her voice started shaking. "Have either of you seen Robin?"

Myriam gave a more familiar derisive chuckle while Hugh shook his head. Just what was going on here? The longer this morning went on the stranger it seemed.

"Robin? Who knows? More importantly, who cares?" Hugh said, displeasure clear on his face. "The last thing I want to do is think of that smug smirk-"

"And so continues the most bitter rivalry in the history of Themis Legal Academy, kahk kahk!" Myriam cut in. "The underdog defense attorney against the top student of the Prosecutor Course!"

Before Juniper could ask what they were talking about, a bell rung to signify that the students had five minutes to get to class. So doing her best to act normal, Juniper followed her friends into the school.

Themis Legal Academy, room 231

8:00 a.m.

Since Hugh was studying in the Defense Attorney course, Juniper had to part ways with him. She and Myriam made their way to their homeroom for the Judge course inside the classroom, Juniper was met with the biggest surprise yet- Professor Courte, writing on the blackboard in the front of the room.

Juniper froze in place, staring at the impossible sight. As much as Juniper sometimes wished otherwise, there was no way Constance Courte could be here. After all, she was supposed to be dead- dead due to being murdered last October. It was a time Juniper would never forget, for various reasons. So what was her late mentor doing here, as if none of that ever happened?

Stunned, Juniper sank into her desk. She was finally convinced- what she had found yesterday was the legendary Mirror Pond. It had done… something, and now she was in a different world. One where everything seemed off, and Professor Courte was still alive.

What could have lead to a place like this? What kind of person was Robin in this world? Juniper had yet to see Robin, yet the earlier conversation with Hugh and Myriam seemed to indicate something wasn't right with the prosecutor student. The fact that Professor Courte was alive meant this world couldn't be all bad. So Juniper resolved to find Robin during break time.

Until then, Juniper paid close attention to Courte's lesson. Not simply because of the lesson itself, but to be able to see and hear her beloved mentor once again.

Themis Legal Academy, Justita's Cafe

1:00 p.m.

Hugh and Myriam were already waiting for her at the entrance to where everyone ate. Once inside they made a beeline to the table where Juniper always ate lunch with everyone. But instead of joining them right away, Juniper looked around the cafeteria, searching for Robin. The judge student finally found a familiar mop of brown hair in a group of other prosecutor students, so she headed towards there.

What she found was absolutely the last thing she expected.

At first Juniper thought she had the wrong person. The one in front of her had a flat chest, a muscular physique, and a sharp face. In other words, the person in front of Juniper was very clearly male.

At the same time, there was no mistaking the intense, brown eyes, or the wavy brown hair, or the cross-legged way the guy sat. This guy was very clearly Robin Newman. As Juniper just stood there in shock Robin got to her (his?) feet.

"If it isn't Miss Woods?" Robin said, her (his) voice deep and raspy. "What do you want?"

Juniper found she couldn't say a word when confronted with her friend being so hostile to her. Looking at Robin, Juniper noticed that the prosecutor student was wearing the male prosecutor student uniform, and didn't wear either a headband or an apron. It was all so wrong.

"Hey, if you don't have anything to say, don't bother the Student Council President!" Another male prosecutor student said sharply.

"Student…. Council… President?" Juniper finally said, her mind consumed with disbelief. "*cough cough* *cough cough cough*"

The utterly bizarre day had finally become too much for Juniper- her body became wracked with an intense coughing fit. While the other prosecutor students didn't seem to care, Robin's eyes widened in concern.

"Hey, back off everyone!" Robin said to his companions. "Miss Woods and I don't always see eye to eye, but if she's here it must be for a reason."

There were so many questions that Juniper wanted to ask. Was Robin truly a male? Why was he sitting here, instead of with Hugh and Myriam? Why was he looking at Juniper with such cold eyes?

Instead of saying any of that, Juniper asked, "This is going to sound strange…. But could I look at your left arm?"

Robin raised an eyebrow, but complied and rolled up the left sleeve of his uniform. Just as Juniper thought, the prosecutor student's left arm was completely bare. "There, are you satisfied?"

"That's all I needed to see. Th-thank you." With shaking legs, Juniper went towards where Hugh and Myriam were waiting with questioning looks on their faces.

"What did you want with Robin?" Hugh asked. Looking at Hugh's neck, Juniper saw that where there should have been a flash of red, there was nothing. So it was true. The possibility that Juniper had been denying to herself was in fact, a reality-

In this world, Robin Newman was not their friend.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: Points of Divergence

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence, Juniper's room

7:00 a.m.

When Juniper didn't come into the kitchen for breakfast, at first Virginia Woods thought her granddaughter had accidently slept in. So Virginia put breakfast on a tray and walked into her granddaughter's room.

Walking into the room, Virginia saw that Juniper was still in bed, sleeping peacefully. Virginia set down the tray and gently shook Juniper to wake her up. Juniper didn't respond.

Virginia's eyes widened and she shook Juniper harder, to no avail. "No…. Juniper actually found the Mirror Pond?" Virginia said, horrified.

Immediately Virginia dug into her granddaughter's desk, pulling out her cell phone. Normally Virginia wouldn't dare to use her granddaughter's possessions, but this was an emergency. The old woman dialed the first number she saw on the contact list.

January 11, 2028

Mirror Pond

5:30 a.m.

A small part of Juniper hoped the previous day had been nothing but a dream, but it wasn't. So when she woke up the next morning still in the alternate world, Juniper snuck out of her house and went into the forest.

It took a while to retread the path she'd taken before, but eventually Juniper did find her way towards the Mirror Pond. It's location was well hidden, which made all the more notable that Juniper had found it by complete accident. Much like before, the pond looked a lot like a regular pond, except for the fact that the surface didn't reflect anything.

Cautiously approaching the pond, Juniper looked down at the pond's surface. Now that she was here, Juniper wasn't sure just what she wanted to say. Just what exactly did one say to a magic pond?

"Ummm…. What am I doing here? *cough cough*" Juniper said.

Suddenly a voice echoed inside her head. The voice sounded like it was being spoken from beneath a lot of water, which made it impossible to make out any details about it.

You're here because you asked to be here, The voice said.

"I didn't *cough cough* ask to be here. At least, I'm sure I didn't, Mr….um, Ms….*cough cough*" The words were getting harder to speak- the situation was clearly beyond her comprehension.

I am the Spirit of the Mirror Pond. You may refer to me as simply the Mirror Pond, if you wish, The voice said. And your heart did wish to visit here. I heard that wish, and granted it.

Juniper was about to protest again when suddenly her reflection showed up on the surface of the pond. The Juniper in the pond had a concerned expression on her face, which didn't change when Juniper reared back.

The Juniper in the pond started talking. "If Robin had been born a boy like they wanted… would that have really made them happy?" She said. Then the Juniper in the pond faded away, leaving the surface blank again.

In fact, Juniper did think that while looking into the pond the other day. Even so…. "That's really all it took?! That's why I'm here?"

"I do not err in my duties. This is the world you wished to see, so I am showing it to you," The Mirror Pond said impatiently.

Well, okay. So a causal thought was all it took for Juniper to end up in such a distressing, confusing place. Thinking over everything she'd seen so far, a question occurred to Juniper.

"So why is this world different *cough cough* from mine?" Juniper asked. "Why is Professor Courte still alive?"

"That I cannot tell you. I only show people their heart's desire. If you wish to see how this world is different from yours, The Mirror Pond said. "Then you only need to explore this one."

It was as if the Mirror Pond had seen right through Juniper. Indeed, in her heart Juniper wanted to stay in this world so she could be near her late mentor. It wouldn't hurt to be here in this world a little longer, right?

"I think… I want to stay here some more." Juniper said after great thought.

"As you wish," The Mirror Pond said.

Before she could lose her nerve, Juniper went back home to prepare for school.

January 28, 2028

Alternate Themis Legal Academy, Constance Courte's Office

12:00 p.m.

Just going to classes as normal wasn't enough- for lunch break instead of meeting with Hugh and Myriam, Juniper went to Professor Courte's office. Knocking on the door, Juniper prepared herself to see her mentor so she wouldn't break down.

So the judge course student was greatly surprised when the door opened the reveal Robin, who looked just as surprised to see Juniper.

"What are you doing here, Miss Woods?" The (male) prosecutor student asked.

"I'm sorry! I'm here to see Professor Courte," Juniper said nervously. "Wh-why are you here, Robin?"

"That's President Newman to you," Robin said quickly. "As a matter of fact, I'm here on school business."

"Robin, how many times have I told you to be polite to guests?" Professor Courte said, approaching the two students.

"Sorry, Professor Courte!" Robin said, flustered. For the first time, Juniper could recognize a little bit of her close friend in this alternate version. "I won't do it again."

"Then apologize to Miss Woods, and see that it doesn't." Professor Courte's expression softened. "No one will think less of you if you relax every so often, you know."

Robin turned to Juniper and bowed to her. "I apologize for my totally rude behavior!"

Before Juniper could say anything or even react, Robin straightened himself and fled Professor Courte's office at top speed. Courte shook her head in exasperation.

"It is admirable of you to keep reaching out to Robin, Juniper," Professor Courte said with her usual gentleness. "But he insists on putting up walls to everyone."

Juniper, who had come here solely to see her mentor, started at these statements. The judge student had never given much thought of what kind of person her… alternate self would be like. Just from what Courte said, it seemed the Juniper in this world had a reason to believe in the alternate Robin.

"Well, I know what he's been through, so I want to, him," Juniper said softly. It was not a lie, but not quite the truth either. But if the prosecutor student was anything like the one she knew…

Professor Courte nodded. "You've seen it too, then. Robin feels the need to live up to the name of being Prosecutor Newman's son, so he insists in shouldering so much alone. But his sense of justice is certainly in the right place."

So in the end, it did come back to Robin's parents. Juniper knew that her...his father was a well known prosecutor. These facts did shine a new light on this alternate version's attitude. However, it did not answer the question Juniper had originally come here to answer: how was any of this related to Professor Courte's survival? This called for another attempt to fish for information.

"So why have you decided to visit me, Miss Woods?" Professor Courte asked curiously.

"I want to talk more about what happened last October," Juniper said. Whatever happened to make this world so different, it would also have roots in that fateful month.

"Is this about Mr. O'Conner again?" Professor Courte said, pity in her voice. "I suppose it isn't easy for him to accept the truth of his mentor. I know I had some trouble as well."

What? What does Hugh have to do with this? Juniper wondered to herself. There was also the reveal that Professor Aristotle Means was related to this murky mystery. The man that murdered Constance Courte in Juniper's home world.

Having to think in terms of "home world" and "alternate world" was already starting to wear Juniper down- she found herself having to repress an intense coughing fit at the memories of what had actually happened back then.

"I just...don't know what to say to Hugh*cough cough*" Juniper said, the situation still overwhelming her a bit.

Constance Courte lowered herself so she was face to face with her distressed student, a kind smile on her face. "You did the right thing, Juniper. I know that Mr. O'Conner felt you went behind his back when you told Robin about your suspicions of him. But it was because of you that Robin's father was able to collect enough evidence to expose my former colleague."

The words that were coming out of her mentor's mouth were making even less sense than anything else Juniper had heard so far. The Judge student tried to parse the statements out in her head, trying to find the chain of causation that connected them.

The common point was that in this world, Juniper also felt dark suspicions towards Hugh because of a conversation she'd overheard. Clearly she hadn't talked about this with the Hugh and Myriam of this world. So then why on earth had she talked about this with the alternate Robin?

Setting aside that question for now, what happened next? By the sounds of it, Robin went to her...his father. In Juniper's home world, the prosecutor student had a poor relationship with her parents. In this alternate world, according to Professor Courte, Robin was instead actively emulating "his" dad. So by that logic, Robin had taken Juniper's words and relayed them to the older prosecutor.

Connecting the final points of the scenario together, Prosecutor Newman opened an investigation against Aristotle Means, and evidently built a successful case against him. Finally, Juniper's question was answered- Professor Courte was still alive because Professor Means had been arrested before he could kill her.

"Miss Woods, you've been awfully quiet. Is everything okay?" Professor Courte asked, concerned.

This wasn't even news that Juniper could be happy about. Because if she understood what happened correctly, her actions could be responsible for the current rift between Hugh and Robin.

"I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm Juniper Woods and I'm fine!" Juniper declared. "I'd like to stay in here a little longer, if you don't mind."

Professor Courte, thankfully, let her stay. Professor Courte painted a bouquet of flowers while talking casually with Juniper. Juniper happily talked with her mentor about nothing. Even if in the back of her mind, the judge student was doing her hardest to find a way to fix the fractured bonds between all her friends.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: An old side of you

January 10, 2028

Woods residence, Juniper's bedroom

8:00 a.m.

The door to the bedroom practically flew open, admitting defense attorney Athena Cykes inside. The redhead rushed to the bed, looking worriedly at her best friend sleeping in it. In the hour it took for Athena to arrive here, Juniper had yet to budge.

"What's going on with Junie, Mrs. Woods?" Athena asked.

Virginia Woods sighed, unable to meet the young woman's eyes. "It is a long story, Athena. Do you remember the time you and my granddaughter had a sleepover at the Space Center for an entire weekend?"

"Junie and I have had plenty of sleepovers at each other's houses when we were little. I'm afraid you'll have to be a little more specific," Athena said, playing with her earring.

"I believe you and Juniper were seven at the time," Virginia continued. "After returning to this house, I was found bedridden much like Juniper is now."

"Wait, I think I remember now!" Athena exclaimed. "You were taken to the hospital, and the doctors couldn't find what was wrong with you. But you just woke up out of nowhere the next day. Is what happened to you what's happening to Juniper?"

"I'm afraid so. It all started with a legend I once told Juniper as a bedtime story," Virginia said, her voice cracking. "At the time, I thought it was just some silly fairy tale. I never thought it would result in this…"

January 12, 2028

Alternate Woods Residence

11:00 a.m.

Thankfully, the day after Juniper talked to Professor Courte was Saturday, which meant she had it off from Themis Legal Academy. So it was this day that the Judge student planned to bridge the gap between Hugh and Robin.

"What?! Have you gone completely crazy, Juniper?" Myriam said upon hearing this from her. "Just because Judges are supposed to mediate arguments doesn't mean you have to go after every hopeless case, sss sss sss."

"Is it really so bad between them?" Juniper asked.

"You should know the answer to that better than anyone!" Myriam exclaimed, irritated. "You're the one that threw poor Hugh under the bus, kahk kahk."

"Please don't remind me," Juniper said, distressed. "I want to do everything in my power to make up for what I did."

"Well, one thing's for sure- this I've gotta see," Myriam said, getting that familiar predatory aura she did whenever she caught wind of a scoop.

It said everything about Juniper's situation that this was the most reassuring sight she'd seen these past few days.

Regardless, the plan was in motion- calling Hugh to let him know that the Judge student would be going to his house, then calling Robin to invite him to go on a walk. Contacting Robin to begin with ended up being a tiring experience, as the prosecutor student clearly wasn't used to people just calling him out of nowhere and had a hostile attitude as a result. In the end, Robin met Juniper in the city (near Hugh's place, but Robin didn't know that) and the two of them walked together.

"Geez, I don't get you, Juniper," Robin said suddenly. "Just when I think you're going to leave me alone, you pop up out of nowhere. Why are you doing this?"

Ironically, the one person whose motives Juniper still didn't understand were her own- or rather, that of her alternate self. But that was one of the reasons why Juniper was still in this world- to better understand how and why this other Juniper did what she did.

"I thought I made that clear after last October," Juniper said quietly, suspecting this was how she would get more information out of the prosecutor student.

"Oh, believe me, I still remember that day," Robin said. "I was taking care of some business in the student council room when I heard a knock on the room…"

Ocotober 15, 2027

Alternate Themis Legal Academy, Student Council room

2:30 p.m.

The student council president wasn't expecting any visitors, so he was quite surprised to hear knocking at the door. Opening the door revealed the last person Robin expected to be there- Juniper Woods.

Robin wasn't sure what to make of the judge student's expression- she seemed to be incredibly conflicted. As much as Robin normally disagreed with the Juniper, he was curious as to why she was here.

"When you decided to run against me… for the position of student council president, you said it was because you believed you could help this school better than I could," Juniper said, not looking at Robin.

"It was nothing personal. We both wanted the position and only one of us could have it," Robin said. The other students picked the hotheaded prosecutor student over the soft spoken judge student, though by a slim margin. "But why are you bringing that up now?"

"Because… *cough cough* I need help…. *cough cough* and I don't know who else to turn to *cough cough cough*"

Juniper clutched at her chest, her words failing her. Meanwhile, Robin wasn't entirely sure how to react. Never had he ever seen her this vulnerable. Honestly, Robin thought Juniper would never want to speak to him again after the election, and for the most part she didn't.

In the end, however, this was the main reason Robin decided to walk the path of the prosecutor. Not simply to follow in the footsteps of his prosecutor father. Rather, Robin was studying to be a prosecutor to strike down criminals that caused suffering such as this.

"Why don't you tell me what the problem is," Robin finally said. "And then I'll do everything in my power to solve it! That's my creed as the student council president!"

"I'm… I'm actually relieved to hear that from you, President Newman," Juniper said. "I wasn't expecting an answer like that from you."

Robin couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. Just how exactly did Juniper see Robin to make such a statement?

"Well, yesterday I went to go visit a friend of mine at his house," Juniper began. "But he was on the phone when I got there."

If Robin wasn't mistaken, that would be one of her two best friends, Hugh O'Conner. The very first day attending Themis Legal Academy, Robin had seen Hugh and Juniper among the other new students and considered approaching them- but he decided instead to talk to fellow prosecutor students to learn more about the course, and he never really tried again since.

"I didn't mean to *cough cough* but I listened in on the conversation," Juniper continued. "Hugh was talking to his parents- and he mentioned bribe money!"

"N-No way!" Robin exclaimed. At the beginning of the month the prosecutor student had been asked by Professor Courte to investigate his fellow students, due to the disquieting rumors of bribery. To think that they were true…. Robin quickly explained this to Juniper.

"Wait, are you saying… that Hugh… *cough cough*" Juniper's distressed mood grew steadily worse.

"Ah, I didn't mean to upset you!" Robin said quickly. "It's too soon to say! But at the same time, I can't dismiss the possibility of Mr. O' Conner being at least related."

What could Robin do in a situation like this, though? As much as Robin wanted to get to the bottom of this, he was just a student. What's more, what little Robin heard of Hugh painted him as a natural genius, but that could be all be a lie. Maybe Robin's father was right all along, and all defense attorneys were-

"Wait, my dad!" Robin suddenly shouted, startling Juniper in the process. "As you might of heard, my father is a renowned prosecutor. He specializes in white collar crimes, so if anyone can sniff out bribes it's him! I'll talk to him when I go home today. But it would help if you wrote down a statement of what you heard, Juniper."

"Um, okay then…" Juniper jotted down her statement on a piece of paper, then gave it to Robin. After that Robin went back to his work, expecting the judge student to leave.

And Juniper did start to leave the student council room. Just as she opened the door, however, Juniper turned towards Robin, smiling for the first time.

"Thank you for helping me, Robin," Juniper said. "I feel like… I understand you a lot better now."

"Sure, whatever." Robin said, lowering his head. He would not allow himself to think for a second that they could be friends. Such thoughts could only end badly…

January 12, 2028

11:30 a.m.

In her mind, Juniper could see her "alternate self" perfectly clear, could feel what she must have felt. After all, this had all happened before. Her alternate self found herself backed in a corner, just like before- except this time she wasn't the student council president, so the alternate Juniper could turn to Student Council President Robin Newman, and throw all her problems at his feet.

On one hand, this conversation gave Juniper further insight on the various alternate versions of the people she knew. Now more than ever Juniper could see the close friend she knew inside the alternate Robin. On the other hand, Myriam's words from earlier about "throwing Hugh under the bus¨ rang very true. Which left to Juniper the task of cleaning up this mess that her alternate self had left behind.

Thinking about it…. Where was her alternate self at the moment? In theory, if Juniper was inhabiting the body of her other self, was the Juniper of this world currently in her home world?

All the more reason to take care of business here as soon as possible- they were almost at Hugh's house, and if Juniper knew anything about the alternate Robin, it would take some convincing to get him to meet with Hugh.

"So where exactly have you been leading me, anyways?" Robin asked.

"We're going to Hugh's place. I want you two to have a good talk," Juniper said softly.

Just as predicted, Robin's expression immediately became angry. "No! No no no no no nnnNNNNNOOOO!" Robin shouted. "There is no way I'm going to talk to him!"

Despite how angry Robin was, Juniper didn't falter. Mentally telling herself she was fine, Juniper pinned Robin with her best "student council president" glare. After a couple moments, Robin actually backed off.

"When I asked you for help with Hugh, it was because I decided to trust you," Juniper said, quietly but with great conviction. Right now, Juniper felt like she was in perfect sync with her alternate self. "But right now, you're showing me it was wrong to to do so."

"...! But, even if I wanted to talk to Hugh, he'd probably throw me out before I could say anything," Robin said, his face burning with shame.

So did that mean there were still details left unknown about what went down in this alternate world? No, right now that didn't matter. Juniper had to remain firm in her conviction.

"I will make sure Hugh doesn't say anything out of line," Juniper said. "You and Hugh have more in common than you realize, you know. I just want to…. Clear the air between all of us about what happened last year."

"What could I have in common with some defense attorney student," Robin muttered under his breath. "Okay, FINE! I'll give this meeting a chance."

This was it, then. After several days of wandering around lost in this world, Juniper felt like she'd could finally make a real difference.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Fraught Mediation

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence, Juniper's bedroom

8:15 a.m.

After listening to the story Athena pondered what Virginia Woods told her. It sounded hard to believe, but the proof was right there in how Juniper remained unmoving in her bed. Even as her anger wanted to just lash out, Athena did her best to calm down and think this situation through.

"I can't believe you did this to Junie!"

Even if Widget never helped in that regard. To her credit, Virginia Woods took the comment in stride. The old woman understood full well how deeply Athena cared for Juniper. If anything, Virgina felt like she'd failed as Juniper's guardian, and so deserved the defense attorney's ire.

"Please don't apologize. I deserved that," Virginia said. "Right now I need you to talk to my granddaughter."

"Oh, are you saying that wherever Juniper is, she might hear me? Sure, I can manage that," Athena said.

Suddenly, Juniper seemed to twitch, which caused the two women to immediately go to her side. As they continued to watch over her, Juniper made more small movements. Finally she muttered under her breath, "Where am I? It's so dark…"

"Junie! Junie can you hear me?" Athena asked frantically.

"Thena? Is that you?" Juniper said, before falling silent again. Then she was just as still as she was before, and no attempt to rouse her seemed to work.

"Call Juniper's other friends. I really do believe that wherever Juniper is, we can reach her," Virginia Woods said.

Athena immediately took out her cell phone and started dialing numbers.

January 12, 2028

Alternate O'Conner Residence

11:40 a.m.

When they finally arrived at Hugh's house, Juniper knocked softly on the door. As expected, Hugh answered, smiling at the sight of Juniper. The minute Hugh lay eyes on Robin, however, his smile vanished. To his credit, unlike Robin, Hugh waited for Juniper to explain herself even as his eyes narrowed.

"I've been talking with Robin, and I believe that it would do us all good to listen to what he has to say," Juniper explained.

"You really decided to go along with this?" Hugh asked Robin.

"I'm not pleased about this either! But somehow, Juniper convinced me to give you another chance," Robin said. "Don't make me regret this!"

"Hmph. I suppose the least I can do is play the gracious host," Hugh said, opening the door to let everyone in. "Myriam arrived earlier, though, and she was in a good mood. So you'll excuse me if I'm not optimistic about this."

Suddenly, Juniper actually found herself wishing for the kinder Myriam she'd met a few days ago to come back. The judge student had to admit that that version of Myriam was much less of a thorn in… well, everyone's side.

January 12, 2028

Alternate O'Conner Residence, living room

12:20 p.m.

Of the four people in the room, Myriam was the only one that was smiling, and it was her malicious smile for whenever she detected trouble. The atmosphere of the room was unbearably tense, with how Hugh and Robin stared each other down. It was all Juniper could do to keep from bursting into a coughing fit.

Just as he said, Hugh played host and escorted everyone to his home's living room, where they say on couches around a table. Then the defense attorney student served everyone potato chips and water, which even after five minutes had yet to be touched.

"I like visiting here, Hugh," Juniper said, wanting to break the ice.

Robin sullenly looked around the residence, with it's deep blue walls and light green furniture. "I gotta admit, this place feels very cozy. Who decorated it?"

"It was my parents," Hugh said, rubbing his neck as he did whenever he was distressed.

"Huh? What's with that look?" Robin asked, actually looking a little concerned.

"I'm not very happy with my parents right now," Hugh said, looking away from Robin.

"Because you found out that your parents were bribing Professor Means behind your back, right?" Juniper said softly.

"Wait, that wasn't your idea?!" Robin exclaimed.

"As a matter of fact, it wasn't. Turns out the great Hugh O'Conner wasn't the genius everyone thought he was," Hugh said, scowling. "But then, you already knew that, as a real genius."

Juniper spotted the way Robin's fists curled at Hugh's response, and knew she had to immediately intervene. "Robin, calm down, Hugh didn't mean anything by that! And Hugh, please don't try to provoke Robin."

The two men looked at Juniper, and she did her best to meet their gazes. Thankfully they did seem to settle down, relaxing their aggressive body language. Meanwhile, Myriam was writing… something down in a notebook as she listened to the conversation around her.

"I don't know where you got such a stupid idea, but I'm not a genius," Robin finally said.

Even as the insult got under Hugh's skin a bit, he kept his temper this time and said, "What do you mean? You're the student council president and the top student of the Prosecutor course. I think you might have the highest grade out of everyone in the school!"

"That's true. But that's because I spend every single day studying! In fact, I've been training to become a prosecutor for as long as I can remember," Robin said intensely. "I can't afford to be anything but the best if I'm going to catch criminals!"

"I don't think you need to be your best all the time," Juniper said softly. "It's enough that you have such a noble motive to become a prosecutor. But please don't exhaust yourself needlessly."

For the first time, Hugh looked at Robin with empathy instead of dislike. "You know, I decided to become defense attorney because of the example set by Phoenix Wright. Even after he was disbarred, I swore that I would surpass him as an attorney."

"I- I didn't know," Robin said, looking startled and ashamed. "I was always told to never trust a defense attorney."

"Is that why you told me what you did, in the mock trial," Hugh said, leaning in towards Robin while glaring. "About how there was no place in the legal system for people like me?"

"You said that, Robin?" Juniper asked to the prosecutor student. Every time Juniper thought she'd found out everything, some new unsettling aspect revealed itself.

"You were the judge for that mock trial, Juniper," Myriam said, raising an eyebrow. "In fact, if I remember correctly you really lay into him…"

October 23, 2027

Themis Legal Academy, Mock Courtroom

1:30 p.m.

After helping his dad expose the fraudulent Professor Means, it was time for Robin to strike down his student. While this was a mock trial, the prosecutor student was determined to have his performance here reflect how he would approach real trials.

So after Robin presented evidence that the defendant used an ice pick to kill the victim, he put on the fiercest glare and said,

"Well, looks like the great genius turned out to be nothing but a great fraud, just like his teacher!"

Robin felt intense satisfaction at Hugh's distressed expression. Robin smacked the bench with his left hand, drew back his arm, and pointed at Hugh befored shouting,

"I hope this defeat teaches you one thing: There is no place for people like you in the legal system!"

Hugh fell onto his knees as the crowd in the audience burst into chatter. For the most, however, the general sentiment seemed to agree with Robin. So the prosecutor student was soaking up the praise when-

"That was out of line, Robin!"

From the judge's podium Juniper gave Robin the coldest expression he'd ever seen on her. The usually shy girl was gone, replaced by what seemed to be a fierce, angry force of nature. To Robin's surprise, Professor Courte was looking down at him with a similar expression.

"It's true that you've presented a compelling case, but your attitude is a different story," Juniper continued. "I- I thought that you were a better person than this, but it looks like I was wrong."

"I find myself in agreement with Miss Woods," Professor Courte added. "This will reflect negatively on the graded portion of this mock trial."

"What, why? What did I do wrong?!" Robin exclaimed.

Professor Courte shook her head, a disapproving expression on her face. "You still have a lot to learn about what it means to be a prosecutor, Mr. Newman. For now, I hope you take this lesson to heart."

"Juniper… Professor Courtre… Thank you," Hugh said, recovering from Robin's verbal attack. "I apologize that I have no case to present, though."

"As the judge in charge of this mock trial, I have no choice but rule in the prosecution's favor," Juniper said softly. Her face grew cold again. "But as far as I'm concerned, you're the one that doesn't belong in the legal system, Robin!"

The previously friendly audience turned on Robin, and a few people even began to boo the prosecutor student. What was one of Robin's greatest triumphs a few minutes ago had now turned into a nightmare.

"How- how dare you do this to me!" Robin shouted, red-faced. "Juniper, Hugh, I- I will never forgive you for this!"

January 12, 2028

Alternate O'Conner Residence, living room

12:40 p.m.

"...Why do you think I've been trying to stop you from setting up this meeting, Juniper?" Myriam asked after the story finished. "Actually, I was starting to think you wanted to see some fireworks and that's why you were so insistent on this, sss sss sss."

"That's what I've been wondering. Ever since a few days ago you've been acting really strange," Robin said.

"Come to think of it, you told me you never wanted to see Robin again," Hugh added. "And I agreed with you. So what's with this sudden change of heart?"

The various ways in which Juniper was different from her counterpart in this world were coming back to bite her something fierce. Just how was she supposed to explain this?"

"It's been something that I've been thinking about for a while now*cough cough*" Juniper said, frantically trying to improvise. "It's true that I was really angry at the time, but… then I remembered how Robin helped me when I felt like I had no one else to turn to. How could the Robin that was so nice to me and so cruel to Hugh be the same person?"

"Well, I thought that Hugh was complicit in the bribery for his grades!" Robin exclaimed. "I didn't mean to be cruel, I was just striking down a villain."

"Presuming that I was a villain was quite a leap in logic," Hugh said. "On the other hand, I suppose I should have questioned why my grades suddenly became so good. I do bear some responsibility for what happened."

"We all came to some very wrong conclusions. But I don't think there's a reason for us to be angry with each other anymore," Juniper said. "So could we perhaps all start over?"

Hugh seemed to be in agreement with this and even Myriam seemed to be grudgingly considering it. Robin's expression, however, was very pained.

"Even if we bury the hatchet now," Robin said. "When we meet in court it will be as enemies. A prosecutor and a defense attorney can never be friends!"

"What gave you that idea?" Juniper asked, her heart sinking.

"It was something that my fa- nevermind," Robin said, cutting off whatever he was going to say. "Thank you for having me over, Hugh. But I have to go!"

Before anyone could stop him, Robin fled the house. Hugh, Myriam, and Juniper could only sit there, drowning in the silence left by the prosecutor student.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: To the root of the problem

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence, Juniper's bedroom

9:15 a.m.

For the second time that day, the door to Juniper's bedroom flew open, admitting a small flood of people: Myriam Scuttlebutt, Hugh O'Connor, Robin Newman, and Apollo Justice.

"What's going on here?! What happened to Juniper?!" Robin immediately asked aggressively.

"I think it's too soon to fly off handle," Apollo said, much more cool-headed in comparison. "Though I admit I'm wondering the same thing."

"It's a bit of a long story. I think I'm going to help Mrs. Woods explain it to save time. Is that okay with you?" Athena asked Juniper's grandma.

"As long as we can get to helping Juniper that much sooner," Virginia Woods said, shooting a brief glance at her still granddaughter.

"Well, we can already see that Juniper's pulling a Sleeping Beauty, sss sss sss," Myriam said. "Can't we just get Apollo to lean down and-"

"Hey, don't make jokes in such poor taste!" Apollo snapped. "I doubt it's that simple."

"Unfortunately, Apollo's probably right about there not being simple solution to the problem," Athena said grudgingly. "Mrs. Woods explained what happened to me and I barely understood it."

"Then how about we let Mrs. Woods explain for the rest of us that don't know," Hugh said, deadpan.

Virginia Woods shook her head, a smile on her face. Juniper certainly surrounded herself with a boisterous bunch of people. Her granddaughter had come such a long way since she started attending Themis Legal Academy.

January 13, 2028

Alternate Woods residence

9:00 a.m.

Being that today was Sunday, Juniper didn't have anything to do besides study her Themis coursework. Normally, she would hang out with her friends, but in this alternate world she didn't know what that would entail with these alternate versions of her friends. What's more, after yesterday's meeting Juniper wasn't sure if she could face any of them.

Except Juniper wasn't sure if it was right to do her… alternate self's homework. Very little of Juniper's meddling in this world had worked out the way she wanted it to. The homework looked the same… but what if doing it would ruin the alternate Juniper's life further in some unknowable way?

That was how badly Juniper was mentally wound up right now. Really, at this point Juniper wondered if it was best for her to just cut her losses and go back home. Everyone was surely missing her back in her home world, too.

Before her train of thought continued on in this direction Juniper heard a knock on her door. Then her grandma shouted, "Juniper! There's someone here to see you!"

Curious as who could possibly be visiting her, Juniper exited her room and made her way to the front door.

At the door was the last person Juniper expected to be making a house call: Constance Courte, who was carrying a picnic basket with her. The teacher and Juniper's grandma were engaged in casual small talk as Juniper approached them.

"You're here, Juniper," Professor Courte said when she spotted the judge student, smiling gently.

"Hello, Professor Courte. What made you decide to visit me?" Juniper asked.

"After our conversation the other day, I wanted to check up on you," Professor Courte said. "You seemed to have a lot on your mind, and I do enjoying spending time with my students."

That was definitely what Juniper admired the most about her teacher: how Professor Courte made time for students from every course, from every walk of life. There were times in the past when Juniper would try to report to Courte in her role as the snitch, only to be unable to reach her because she was attending to a troubled student.

It would be good to spend more time with Professor Courte, while she was still in this world. Going back to her home world meant having to say goodbye to Courte again. So without any hesitation, Juniper accepted Courte's invitation.

After finding a suitable clearing, Constance Courte lay down a blanket, then opened the picnic basket she had brought with her. Inside turned out to be small ham sandwiches, a pie, and a pair of thermos with apple juice in them.

"This all looks delicious. Did you make all this yourself, Professor Courte?" Juniper asked.

"Truthfully, I only made the sandwiches. Everything else is store bought," Professor Courte said, a sheepish expression on her face. "I'm afraid I don't have too much time to cook food, due to my workload as a professor."

"I appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule to come here, then!" Juniper exclaimed, hoping to that her mentor didn't fall behind on her duties because of this outing.

"It will not be an inconvenience to me. I made sure to finish all my pending work before coming here," Professor Courte said. "Now could you tell me more about this forest? I'd like to learn about this stunning location."

Juniper happily chatted with her teacher about the local flora and fauna she encountered in her many years living here, such as a patch of wildflowers she occasionally stumbled upon or seeing a deer faun from a distance. All the while the two women took breaks to enjoy the delicious food, or soak in the peaceful atmosphere. It was exactly the kind of balm Juniper needed after the past couple of days. Of course, it couldn't last forever.

"...And one of my favorite things about the forest is how you can explore it for hours and still find new surprises. Why, just the other day-"

The words died in Juniper's mouth as she realized what the end of that sentence was going to be. Just the other day, she found the Mirror Pond- and that set off this chain of events that she was currently trying to deal with.

"You went quiet all of a sudden. Is something the matter?" Professor Courte asked, concerned.

Juniper sighed. "Remember when you said you had a lot on my mind? I haven't been able to forget about it completely, even for a moment."

"It's about Robin again, isn't it," Professor Courte stated. "He sent me an email yesterday telling me about how you, Mr. O'Conner, and Miss Scuttlebut tried to talk to him about something that left him deeply shaken."

Explaining the Mirror Pond wasn't something that Juniper was prepared to do with anyone, not even with her mentor. Even so, this didn't mean she couldn't find some way to word it so that Courte could help her with some advice.

"I wanted to clear the air between everyone about what happened last October," Juniper explained. "I managed to get Hugh and Robin to put what happened back then behind them. But something is holding Robin back from being friends with us."

"I thought as much. I suspect the problem is the same as it always is with Robin- His parents are making his life needlessly difficult," Professor Courte said.

Professor Courte didn't know just how true her words were. While Robin sometimes could only blame herself (or himself?) for landing into trouble, in Juniper's experience nine times out of ten Robin's parents were responsible for her problems.

"I have tried to reason with Mr. and Mrs. Newman on many occasions," Professor Courte continued. "But they don't listen to me. I'm sorry to say this, Juniper, but I doubt they would listen to you either."

It was true- even in Juniper's homeworld talking with Robin's parents was a very difficult task. Robin's father, Richard Newman, was a tall, broad-shouldered man that exuded the intimidation that came with his Prosecutor's badge. Despite being a simple housewife most of the time, Diana Newman was capable of silencing people with a single glare.

If what was holding this alternate Robin back was his parents, then Juniper couldn't see what she could do anymore. In both Juniper's homeworld and this world, even Professor Courte couldn't get Robin's parents to change their minds. And if she couldn't do it, Juniper couldn't imagine any force on earth that could get Robin's parents to let up.

Was it truly impossible to do anything to fix this alternate world, then? The problem was something that persisted for literal years. It felt too big for Juniper to tackle, with so much history unknown to her. If only there was some way of stopping Robin's parents from raising Robin in such a harsh manner….

"Wait a second! That's it!" Juniper exclaimed as an idea hit her like a bolt from the blue.

"What did you think of, Juniper?" Professor Courte asked.

"I think… I might know of a way to solve everything," Juniper said softly. "It's a bit of a risky idea, but if it works everyone will be happy."

"I am worried to hear that your idea is risky. However, I also trust in your judgement, Juniper." Professor Courte said. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"

As much as Juniper didn't want to part with Constance Courte, she didn't want her teacher get wrapped up in all this Mirror Pond business. If anything could resolve the issue with Robin's parents, it was the power of the Mirror Pond. Juniper wanted to be the only one burdened with this knowledge- after all, she was the one that originally found it.

"No, you've already done so much for me, Professor Courte," Juniper said. "Thank you so much for this picnic. I need to go now."

"Very well. I hope to see you again at school tomorrow, Juniper," Professor Courte said, smiling.

If everything went well, then Juniper would indeed see Professor Courte again at school. In a different world, in a much better world than this one.

January 13, 2028

Mirror Pond

12:00 p.m.

Once again, Juniper found herself before the mystical pond. Now that she was here, Juniper realized that there was no real limit that she could do. According to the spirit of this pond, all she had to do was imagine a world and this pond would make it so.

If she wanted to, Juniper could make a world where her parents had never passed away, and she could live both with them and her grandmother. Or a world where Thena's mom was never murdered, or Apollo's best friend Clay Terran, or a world where Hugh's parents didn't decide to bribe the school. If Juniper really wanted to, she could imagine a world that had all of this- a perfect world.

Juniper shook her head to clear her mind. The Judge course student still knew too little about how the Mirror Pond worked to make such a massive request. For now, it was good to keep it simple- resolving the issue with Robin's parents. If everything worked out with that, then Juniper would enact bigger changes.

"Mirror Pond, can you hear me?" Juniper asked quietly.

"I can always hear you," The Mirror Pond answered.

"I'd really like to make a new request," Juniper said. She held in her mind what she wanted, the world she wanted for the sake of all her friends. "I want a world where Robin's parents didn't try and control her life. A world where instead, they let Robin chase her own dreams and happiness. That's the world I want to be in."

"As you wish. That is the world you shall visit," The Mirror Pond said, showing Juniper her reflection, and therefore the determined expression on Judge course student's face.

Nothing happened right away, which confused Juniper briefly. Then she remembered how she only landed in this world after she went to sleep the day she first found the Mirror Pond. So the only thing she could do for now was head home.

After arriving home, Juniper quickly greeted her grandma before heading to her bedroom. Laying back in her bed, Juniper closed her eyes. At first, there was nothing. Then she saw the Mirror Pond again, and just like last time Juniper was floating far above it. Juniper dived willingly into the depths of the pond this time, headed straight towards the blinding light- and the brand new world that awaited her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Exact wording

January 10, 2028

Woods residence, Juniper's bedroom

10:00 a.m.

"Mrs. Woods, I have a question, Kahk Kahk," Myriam said as soon as Virginia Woods finished with her explanation of the Mirror Pond for the second time.

"Go right ahead, Miss Scuttlebut," Mrs. Woods said.

"If I'm understanding what you've said correctly, the reason you know so much about this weird pond is because you've personally experienced it before," Myriam said. "So what exactly happened to you back then?"

"Myriam, I thought you'd stop snooping into people's business!" Athena shouted.

"Seriously, what gives?" Widget added.

"Hey! I want to wake up Juniper too, sss sss sss," Myriam said, aggravated. "So I want all the information I can get so I find a way to help!"

"Oh. I'm sorry, Myriam," Athena said, looking ashamed. "I guess I'm angry at myself for not being able to do anything and took my frustrations out on you."

"Apology accepted, Kahk Kahk," Myriam said. "Well, Mrs. Woods? Can you tell us what happened to you when you found the Mirror Pond."

"All I can say is… I made a wish on the pond," Virginia Woods said, looking sad. "For something I desperately wanted at the time."

"So what finally made you wake up?" Apollo asked.

"Hearing Juniper and Athena's voices," Virginia Woods said simply.

"Wait, doesn't that put us back exactly where we started?" Apollo asked.

"Well it's good enough for me!" Robin exclaimed. "Let's go, Hugh!"

Before anyone could stop her, Robin grabbed Hugh's arm and dragged him to the side of Juniper's bed.

January 10, 2028



Juniper opened her eyes, finding herself in her bedroom. The judge student could have sworn she heard someone calling for her. But when she tried to recall what she heard, it was badly muffled, as if heard from below a lot of water.

This caused Juniper to remember that she wasn't home, but rather in an alternate version of her home that she wished for to the Mirror Pond. The question was: Did her wish work and alter this world? The only way to find out was to go outside and see what had changed.

The first thing that Juniper noticed, alarmingly enough, was that her proof of friendship was missing again. If Juniper's wish worked, it should exist, yet it evidently didn't. Even so, Juniper did not want to let this deter her. Muttering to herself that she was fine, Juniper got dressed for school and went to the kitchen for breakfast.

Much like this first time that Juniper woke up in this alternate world, her grandmother seemed completely normal. The best way to confirm what remained the same was to act normal as well. So Juniper casually mentioned that she wanted to meet with her friends after school.

"That's nice, Juniper. I'll be sure to set out the plates before they get here," Mrs. Woods said.

At the very least, that meant that Hugh and Myriam were still her friends, so that was a relief. Even so, this was exactly how her first morning in the alternate world played out- and at the end of that morning was how Juniper discovered the male Robin in the first place. So it was with dread anticipation that Juniper sat down in her grandmother's car to go to Themis Legal Academy.

January 10, 2028

Alternate Themis Legal Academy

7:45 a.m.

As usual, Juniper met with Hugh and Myriam at the front gate. As mean as this would sound out of context, Myriam's presence was not something that Juniper was happy to see, since it could mean that her wish had failed and nothing had changed.

"Hello, Hugh. Hello, Myriam," Juniper said nervously. "Have you seen Robin?"

"Robin?" Hugh echoed, clearly confused.

"Yes, Robin. Have you seen... ummm-" Come to think of it, Juniper couldn't even be sure what gender Robin was. If her wish had succeeded, then Robin should be a girl again. Yet everything Juniper had seen so far seemed to indicate the wish was a failure, so…

"Him! Have you seen him?"

Hugh and Myriam shared a look with each other that Juniper couldn't read. Then Myriam grinned and said, "No, we haven't seen this Robin. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for him for you, sss sss sss!"

"Thank you, Myriam," Juniper said, relieved that Myriam was at least still friendly. "I guess it's time for us to go to class, then."

"I hope you find whoever you're looking for, Juniper," Hugh added as they entered the school building.

Juniper mulled over the conversation with her friends as she headed to class. Something about the exchange was bothering her, but she couldn't put her finger on what she found odd about it. Before she could think too deeply about it, however, she entered the classroom and saw something that caused her to freeze.

At the front of the classroom was Professor Anne Moi, a wispy woman with light green hair who taught the Judge course. Except in Juniper's home world, Professor Moi only started teaching the Judge course… after Professor Courte's death.

"Where- where is Professor Courte?" Juniper asked, unable to help herself.

"Oh, you poor girl. You were the student that was closest to Constance," Professor Moi said sympathetically. "It's only natural that you would have trouble accepting Professor Courte's death even after these past few months."

"Professor Courte… is dead*cough cough*" The missing proof of friendship was proof that Juniper was still in the alternate world. So then why was Professor Courte dead just like she was in Juniper's homeworld? What did Juniper's wish do that would cause this?

"I- I think I need to go now," Juniper said, before turning around and running out of the classroom. How could she have known that such a simple wish could have such a horrible effect? And- what of Robin, the entire reason Juniper had made her wish in the first place? Juniper just had to see her friend, so that Courte's death in this alternate world wouldn't be in vain.

In her frantic state of mind, Juniper searched for a third-year classroom for the Prosecutor's course and burst inside of it. Not even noticing the professor's shocked expression, Juniper scanned the students inside for any sign of her friend, only to see her nowhere inside the classroom.

Feeling more and more despaired, Juniper trudged her way through the school, with no real destination in mind. All she could think about was had badly everything had backfired on her, again. About how absolutely nothing was going right for her ever since she first stumbled up the Mirror Pond.

This continued until Juniper hit her face against a door. After picking herself up from the floor, Juniper saw that she was in front of the principal's office. "Of course! If anyone knows where in the school Robin is, it's the principal."

Juniper knocked on the door, and when the principal told her to enter she walked inside, feeling more nervous than she could ever recall feeling in her life.

"So what do you need, Miss Woods?" The principal asked.

"Um, could you show me the school records for Robin Newman," Juniper said. "I need to see it real quick as part of, um, an investigation. She's a third-year student in the Prosecutor's Course."

"This must be about those bribery scandals that plagued the school late last year," The principal said. "Just give me a minute, Miss Woods."

The principal opened a file cabinet and started skimming through the files. As the principal searched a frown slowly grew on his face. He even opened multiple cabinets and searched through them as well, to no avail. Finally he turned to Juniper. "I'm not sure how to tell you this, Miss Woods. But-"

As the principal searched file cabinets Juniper could feel her heart growing heavier with every passing minute. The end of the principal's sentence, however, caused her heart to fall and shatter completely.

"There has never been a student by the name of Robin Newman attending Themis Legal Academy."

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Gone from my life

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence, Juniper's bedroom

10:15 a.m.

"Now, listen here, Juniper. Even the greatest of geniuses need their rest. But this is starting to get rather silly. It would be for the best for you to open your eyes and join the rest of us."

Juniper didn't respond at all to Hugh's words, much to Hugh's dismay. Athena shook her head. "Hugh, if Juniper could hear you I think that would make her want to stay asleep."

"Hey, I'm trying my best here!" Hugh exclaimed, rubbing his proof of friendship he wore around his neck. "We don't even know where Juniper is though. What am I supposed to say to her to bring her back?"

"Just keep talking. As one of Juniper's close friends, your words have a much better chance of reaching her," Apollo said.

Meanwhile, Robin gripped the side of Juniper's bed, the worry clear on her face. "Hey, Juniper! I know you can hear us! I don't know what happened to you, but we're all waiting for you to come back. So wherever you are, make your way back to us!"

At first, there didn't seem to be any reaction again, and Athena approached the bed so she could talk to Juniper next. Suddenly, however, tears leaked out from under Juniper's closed eyes, rolling down her cheeks.

Everyone in the room looked at the tears in wonder, unsure of what to say or do. After a few minutes, the tears dried, leaving only tracks on her face.

"Wh-what did I do?" Robin asked.

"I'm not sure. But wherever Juniper is, she needs our help!" Athena exclaimed. "Let me talk to her next! Maybe I'll be the one that will finally reach her!"

January 11, 2028

Alternate Woods Residence, Juniper's bedroom

1:30 p.m.

"Juniper, do you want anything to eat?"

"No thank you, Grandma. I'm not hungry," Juniper muttered weakly, curled up in her bed. It was true- despite not having eaten a bite since yesterday, Juniper didn't feel hungry. The judge student wasn't feeling much of anything at the moment, except for a crushing sadness that sapped her strength. Outside, Juniper could hear her Grandma set down a tray, then leave, but Juniper couldn't even bring herself to leave the bed.

The events of yesterday just kept replaying in her mind over and over again. Not too long ago, Juniper was having a picnic with Professor Courte in the woods just outside her house. During that picnic, Courte expressed trust in Juniper's judgement, despite not knowing what Juniper had planned. And now Courte was dead again, dead because Juniper made a wish without considering what the consequences would be.

While she was in the principal's office yesterday, Juniper managed to ask how Courte's murder was investigated. As it turned out, many details remained the same: Professor Means was the culprit, and Athena and Apollo defended Juniper in this alternate world. Where it differed was that during the trial, Athena called up an art club student that Juniper didn't know as a witness, and he was the one that made the statues on stage and testified about Means' presence there. Meanwhile, a boy by the name of Logan Sullivan was the current top student of the prosecutor course ,and lost to Hugh in the mock trial.

It all further confirmed that Robin never set foot in Themis Legal Academy in this world. And why would she? After all, now that her parents were no longer forcing her to become a prosecutor, there was no reason for Robin to go to a law school. Juniper had no way to know what the Robin of this world was currently doing, just that she wasn't at Themis Legal Academy.

It seemed like the Mirror Pond had granted Juniper's wish after all. Yet it appeared that the cost of that wish was Professor Courte's life, and Juniper wasn't even able to see what became of the friend she'd made the wish for in the first place- further research yesterday indicated the Newman family didn't live in L.A. in this alternate world. Juniper's plan had, for all intents and purposes, been a complete failure.

There was no point in going back to the Mirror Pond to try to fix it, if any further wishes could just make everything worse again. Juniper didn't even have a desire to go back home anymore. She deserved to stay in this world that she was directly responsible for bringing about. That was going to be Juniper's atonement for landing herself in this situation in the first place.

Suddenly, there was a knocking at her door. Juniper slowly lifted her head but otherwise didn't react. The knocking on the door continued, louder this time. When Juniper still didn't answer, there came the distinct sound of two people knocking the door, which managed to surprise Juniper somewhat out of her stupor.

"Your Grandma told us you were here," Hugh said from outside. "What happened, Juniper? Is there anything we can do for you?"

"It's not like you to miss school, Kahk Kahk," Myriam said. "You're too much of a goody two-shoes for that, Juniper. So don't bother denying that something's wrong!"

"H-Hugh? M-Myriam? Wh-What are d-doing here? *cough cough*" Juniper's voice came out raspy due to disuse.

"We're here for you! And I had to miss undercover reporter class for this, too, so you'd better appreciate it!" Myriam exclaimed.

"We're prepared to wait outside this door all day for you, Juniper," Hugh said. "So take your time working through whatever happened. But we'll be here when you're ready to come out."

They noticed. Despite the fact that Juniper actively hid her actions from the Hugh and Myriam of this world, they still managed to notice what was going on with her. And even though they didn't exactly what happened, they were still trying so hard to help.

For the first time since yesterday, Juniper could actually feel the urge to move. So slowly, she stretched her legs, then pushed herself off from the bed. It was then that she realized that she was still dressed in her pajamas. "I'll be out in a minute! Just let me dressed first."

Once she got dressed in her casual clothes, Juniper opened the door to her bedroom. The judge student didn't miss the incredibly relieved look on Hugh and Myriam's faces when they saw her. "I apologize for worrying you so much. But I'm thankful that you came all this way just for me."

"Of course we're not going to just leave you here moping, sss sss sss," Myriam said. "Now c'mon, let's go."

"Go? Go where?"

"Out to eat, for starters. Myriam may or may not have eaten the food that your Grandma left out for you," Hugh said.

"Hey! Now why'd you go and say that for!" Myriam shouted, red in the face.

January 11, 2028

Sandy's Sandwich Shop

2:30 p.m.

As it turned out, Myriam was the one that was in charge of this outing, taking the three of them to a small sandwich bistro out in the middle of the city. When they entered the bistro the woman behind the counter spotted Myriam and smiled.

"Hey, Myriam! Here for your usual?" The woman asked.

"Not today, Sandy, Kahk Kahk," Myriam said. "I already ate. But you know what to give my friends here."

"So that will be the BLT for Hugh and the Vegetarian Special for Juniper. Coming right up," Sandy said.

"Here, since I've already eaten I'll pay for the meal," Myriam said, approaching the counter. Juniper, meanwhile, found herself incredibly confused. In her homeworld, Myriam never gave any indication that she was familiar with an establishment like this. Yet not only did the proprietor greet this Myriam so causally, but they even knew what Hugh and Juniper's favorite sandwiches were. Was this an unexpected aspect of this alternate world?

The three friends took a seat at one of the bistro's tables to wait for their sandwiches. Hugh and Myriam chatted with each other about the day they had at school, but didn't direct any of their words towards Juniper herself. It seemed that they were waiting for her to speak on her own.

However, Juniper wasn't entirely sure how to put into words everything that happened in the past week. And if- when Juniper decided to return home, she didn't want to do or say anything to cause trouble for the Juniper that lived in this world. So Juniper didn't say anything as Sandy served their sandwiches, focusing her attention on eating the food instead.

Finally Juniper said, "A lot has been happening to me lately. First I lost someone really precious to me. Then a close friend went far away from me. It all just became too much."

"So that's what it was. That's perfectly understandable," Hugh said. "I'm glad you decided to open up to us about this."

"Yeah, that's much better than just locking yourself up in your room," Myriam added. "So come to us first next time, okay?"

Just like the Hugh in her home world, this Hugh was such a wonderful friend. Even Myriam, whom Juniper mainly knew in her home world as being antisocial and awkward, was so much more considerate in this world. Juniper felt a warmth in her heart, looking at her two friends seated across from here. In her home world, in the first alternate world, in this second alternate world- Hugh and Myriam remained her friends throughout everything.

"I'll remember to do that from now on. Thank you so much, my friends," Juniper said, smiling.

"I'm so happy to see you getting along with your friends, Myriam," Sandy said as she approached their table.

"What can I say? I'm a naturally charismatic person, sss sss sss," Myriam said proudly.

"Really now? You know, Myriam's been coming to this bistro ever since she started going to Themis Legal Academy," Sandy said to Hugh and Juniper. "And she'd always tell me that one day, she'd come here with friends."

"KAHK KAHK! You didn't have to go and say that!" Myriam exclaimed, as Hugh chuckled at her mortified expression.

Juniper couldn't help but giggle a little as well. If the Myriam in this world had the same past as the Myriam that Juniper knew, then it could mean that the Myriam back home simply had yet to find the courage to invite everyone to this bistro.

If that was the case, then once she returned home Juniper wanted to give Myriam that last bit of courage. Honestly, Juniper had been hesitant about approaching Myriam, after all the bad blood that had run between all of them in the past. Now, however, Juniper realized that there was no reason for her to treat Myriam like that anymore.

More than anything, her friends all deserved better. So Juniper was going to do her best to pick herself back up, for all the precious people she had with her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Then and now

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence, Juniper's bedroom

11:00 a.m.

The moment Athena approached Juniper's bedside, she refused to leave- it didn't matter what anyone said to her. Meanwhile, Athena spoke softly to Juniper, with a tender tone she never used with anyone else. Honestly, no one else wanted to interrupt Athena at the moment.

"...And whenever my Mom or your Grandma would have the time, they would take us to have ice cream," Athena was saying. "Your favorite flavor is strawberry, right Junie?

A small smile briefly spread on Juniper's face, remaining there for a few minutes before fading away. By now everyone in the room stopped reacting to this small changes with surprise, mainly because they were instead trying to see if there was any pattern to it all.

"Juniper's been moving more often the more we've been talking to her," Apollo said, an expression of intense focus on his face. "It seems like this plan is actually working."

"That's all well and good, but what was up with that sarcastic tone at the end of that?" Robin asked, giving Apollo a sidelong look.

"Maybe we should all talk to her, then. I mean, if one person can get a small reaction, then I bet all of us talking would get Juniper to wake up in no time, Kahk Kahk!"

"I get what you're trying to save, Myriam, but let's not overwhelm Juniper," Apollo said. "Maybe we could save that suggestion for later."

The entire time this was happening, Athena was not paying attention to anything happening around her. Instead, she continued her verbal walk down memory lane, of days gone by with Juniper. Out of everyone in the room, Athena was the most affected by Juniper's condition besides Virginia Woods.

After all these years, Athena still sometimes saw the little girl she first befriended.

January 12, 2028

Alternate Wright Anything Agency

3:00 p.m.

"No, Athena, we are not going to sit here and watch you juggle oranges."

"Why not? I could totally do it!" Athena shouted at Apollo.

"That's not really the point, Athena. This is supposed to be a law office," Apollo said in his usual deadpan.

"Actually, this is an Anything Agency! So I could totally juggle in here if I wanted to!" Athena said, grinning.

Juniper, for her part, was torn as to whether she wanted agree with Athena or Apollo in this situation. In the process of getting back on her feet emotionally, today Juniper decided to visit the two of them here at the WAA. Athena, always one to do anything to help Juniper, offered to juggle oranges for her amusement. This derailed into Apollo and Athena bickering with each other as they usually did.

"You brought these oranges for us to eat, didn't you Juniper?" Apollo asked. "So should Athena really be playing around with them?"

"Th-thank you for thinking about me, Apollo," Juniper said, turning light red. "But I don't really mind what Thena does with the oranges. This wouldn't even be the first time we've played with them."

"Oh, I think I know what you're talking about, Junie!" Athena exclaimed, smiling. "I think I might still have those back in my old room at the Space Center."

"I'm guessing this is something that happened back when you grew up together," Apollo said, sitting in a chair to get comfortable. It seemed like today was going to be yet another slow day at the WAA.

Juniper nodded, as she and Athena took their own seats on the Agency sofas. Juniper reached far back into her memories. In those days, she and Thena were near inseparable. At around the same time, her Grandma had just started to teach her about gardening.

"I was growing my very first fruits, and I heard from Thena's mom that she wasn't going to be at school the next day," Juniper said. "So I decided to pick some oranges I was growing and take them to her."

"Except, Junie was so young she didn't understand yet when fruit should be picked," Athena said teasingly. "So what she ended bringing me were these tiny little green oranges. They looked so cute!"

"I'm just glad you liked them even though they couldn't be eaten," Juniper muttered, feeling a little embarrassed about what happened.

"So I'm guessing since the oranges were inedible Athena came up with something else to do with them," Apollo said.

"Not quite. At first we just stacked them on top of each other," Athena said. "But then Mom came along and saw what we were doing. And she gave us a bunch of stuff like toothpicks, glue, and yarn."

"And we spent the rest of the afternoon in Thena's room playing around with those crafts," Juniper said, smiling fondly. "And what we ended up making were little versions of each other. We used the toothpicks and glue to make the body and the yarn to imitate hair. It was a really fun afternoon, and Thena was even able to come to school with me the next day because she wanted to show our creations off to everyone."

"Huh. That did sound like it was a lot of fun," Apollo said. "Almost makes me wish I could have been there."

"Really? You don't really strike me as the artsy type," Apollo," Athena said.

Thinking about it, where did Apollo grow up? Juniper knew that he visited the Space Center because of Clay, so could he have met her and Thena if they'd just happen to cross paths? It was only occurring to Juniper now how little she knew about Apollo's past.

Then again, dwelling too much on the past was probably one of the main reasons Juniper was in her current predicament. If Apollo wanted to talk about his past someday, Juniper would certainly be willing to listen. After all, she wanted to be there for him in whatever way she could.

A lot like, perhaps, the way Athena was always there for her. Even during the seven years they were apart, they stayed in touch with letters. And the story about the unripe oranges reminded Juniper of many similar days she spent with Athena, so long ago.

The was the main reason why Juniper decided to visit the Agency today. Because Athena was one of the few constants in Juniper's life. It made Juniper feel ashamed, actually, that she didn't go looking for Athena when she first found herself in this alternate world.

Because no matter what world she was in, no matter when in Juniper's life it was, one thing never changed: they steadfast bond she and Athena shared with each other.

"Well, I'm not really into art myself, but there is an artist I know," Apollo said, his voice snapping Juniper out of her thoughts.

"Let me guess- you met this artist during one of your cases," Athena said.

"She was one of my clients, in fact," Apollo said. "The case would take far too long to explain. But I'm happy to say that she has a thriving art career!"

No, it couldn't be. In this strange world anything was possible. At the same time, Juniper didn't want say anything, in case it was far too much to hope. But the dilemma ended up being rendered moot when Athena said,

"Oh, I'd really like to meet this artist, then! Do you think we could meet her?"

Apollo put his finger to his forehead. "Come to think of it, she did invite me to an art exhibit she's holding tomorrow at a nearby art gallery. I could see Juniper getting along with her, but I think you'd be too loud for you, Athena."

"Tsk, what's that supposed to mean?! You're just as loud as me!" Athena shouted. "And I could totally be quiet if I tried!"

"You're not exactly making a good case for yourself," Apollo said. "I say that because my friend is pretty shy around new people. It took her a while to warm up to me, and she still doesn't like to be overwhelmed with too much noise."

The more that Apollo described this artist, the more curious Juniper became about her. So the judge student asked, "So why did this artist friend of yours decide to invite you to this exhibit, Apollo?"

"Well, it's been awhile since we've seen each other. Not only that, but there's apparently someone she wants me to meet. A fellow artist that's displaying their artwork in public for the first time," Apollo answered.

"I'd really like go to this exhibit with you, then," Juniper said, making up her mind on the spot. She wanted to know about this aspect of Apollo's life, and she also wanted to know if the female artist leading the exhibit was who she thought it was.

"I'd really like the meet this artist too," Athena said. "That settle it, then! Tomorrow we're all going to go to this art exhibit."

"Then I'll text my friend and tell her to be ready for us," Apollo said, taking out his cell phone.

As Apollo arranged the meeting, Juniper considered everything that happened today, and how it would effect what she would do tomorrow. The little girl that made those orange dolls with Athena wouldn't have considered going to a place as public as an art exhibit. However, much like Athena went from a shy little girl to the energetic attorney she was today, Juniper wanted to demonstrate how much she'd grown too.

Perhaps one day, they could make something new together, to reflect how far they'd come together.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: All Over Again

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence, Juniper's bedroom

11:15 a.m.

Athena would have just stayed by Juniper's bedside until her friend finally woke up- except her stomach rumbled, which caused Virginia to announce that it was time to take a break, to eat and sit down after the long periods everyone had spent standing. That did immediately raise the question of whether it was necessary to leave anyone behind in case Juniper woke up.

"Well, I know I want to s-t-a-y!" Robin exclaimed, pumping her fists. "And I bet Hugh and Myriam feel the same way!"

Hugh adjusted his glasses and nodded in agreement, while Myriam said, "Hey, don't speak for me! If I want to stay, I'll say so. And I do want to stay, sss sss sss."

"Well I'm certainly not going anywhere!" Athena said heatedly, despite her stomach still grumbling.

"In other words, we continue doing exactly what we've been doing," Apollo said. "Well, I can't say I don't understand the sentiment."

"Well how about this, then. Since we're all so determined to wait here for Juniper, then once she wakes up we all take her out for a big lunch," Hugh said. "Anyone that wants leave to go eat is free to do so, of course."

Which more or less guaranteed that no one would step outside the room. Meanwhile, Robin took out a small sketchpad and a pencil and began sketching a sunflower Juniper had on her nightstand. As an artist, Robin enjoyed making art pieces out of pretty subjects, because she loved making the world a prettier place.

Her art skills, mediocre that they were, often made Juniper smile. So when Juniper woke up, Robin wanted to have something nice for her to look at. That way she would immediately feel at home when she finally returned.

January 13, 2028

Alternate Gallery Nucleus, exhibition room

1:00 p.m.

Maybe it was just Juniper's imagination, but she could swear she was hearing the sound of someone sketching something in pencil. Well, perhaps being in an art gallery was subconsciously making her think of Robin. Not that the artist seemed to be here, by the looks of it.

Meeting with Apollo and Athena outside this gallery, Juniper saw that it was an artist by the name of Vera Misham that was holding an exhibit of her art work here. Having come all this way from home, Juniper decided to stick around to meet this artist, and look at her artwork.

"This art's really, really good!" Athena exclaimed, admiring a painting of a hand of poker cards scattered on a table.

Athena's statement was accurate to this and every art piece in this room. Juniper had to admit, whoever this Vera was, she was clearly incredibly talented. All of her works also had this… melancholic quality to them. If Juniper wasn't mistaken, Robin would describe the paintings of having been done in muted colors.

"Uh huh. Vera's always been this good," Apollo said, a proud smile on his face. "But there's a lot she's had to recover from. I'm glad to see her make such large strides in her life."

Hearing this, Juniper couldn't help but feel proud for Vera too, despite not having met her yet. Before coming to this gallery, Juniper decided to look up Vera, and therefore learned about how she lost her father.

"So when do we get to meet Vera?" Juniper asked, now really wanting to talk to her.

"Hang on a moment. If I'm not mistaken, she should be near the back of this gallery," Apollo said. "She's still nervous about meeting strangers. Give me a minute…"

Apollo headed towards to back of the gallery, going into a door that lead to another room of the place. While he was gone, Juniper and Athena continued to look around at the different art pieces, such as a series of busts centering around the Gramaryes or a rough sketch of a sinister looking defense attorney wearing glasses. Finally, Juniper found herself drawn to the painting of a bright red parrot on a stand, at the witness stand.

Something about the specific painting seemed different than every other art piece in the gallery. It used much more vibrant colors than Vera's muted paintings. And the brushwork had a kind of detail that just felt different, such as the gloss on the parrot's feathers. In fact, it reminded Juniper a lot of-

"So that's where you went off to, Juniper. This is friend I was telling you about, Vera."

Juniper turned towards Apollo's voice to see him standing next to a girl that looked around her own age. The girl wore what appeared to be a handkerchief in her long, light-blue hair, had brown eyes and a soft face, and wore a purple and pink shirt under a blue pair of overalls with a bear face on it.

"Hello. Are you…. Juniper Woods?" Vera asked, her tone soft and methodical.

"Um, yes. It's, um, nice to meet you!" Juniper said, feeling nervous in the face of Vera's odd calm.

Vera took out a notebook, quickly scribbling something on it. She showed the page to Juniper, revealing that she drew a smiling face on it. "It's nice… to meet you too. My name… is Vera Misham. This is… my exhibit."

"I like all your art. It's very well made," Juniper said, her mood brightening now that she had a better impression of Vera as a person. "I imagine it took a lot of practice to get to where you are now."

The last thing Juniper expected was for Vera to react to this by anxiously biting her thumbnail. "Art has always come easily to me. But… that hasn't always been a good thing. If I'd only been more attentive…"

"This isn't your fault," Apollo said in response to Juniper's worried expression. "You couldn't have known. And Vera, Juniper was just saying that she liked your art."

Even so, an awkward atmosphere had settled on everyone. So perhaps it was fortunate that Athena picked that moment to pop up out of nowhere. "There you all are! Why'd you all just abandon me out of nowhere?" Athena exclaimed indignantly.

Vera jumped in surprise at Athena's voice. Athena in turn reared back, evidently not noticing that Vera was standing there. Apollo, meanwhile, rolled his eyes in exasperation at the entire display. "See, this is exactly what I was afraid I was going to happen."

"Oh, are you Vera? I'm sorry if I scared you!" Athena made a V sign at the artist, smiling. "I'm Athena Cykes! I'm a defense attorney just like Apollo. I see you've already met my best friend."

"You mean Juniper? Yes, she's quite kind," Vera said, smiling for the first time. "Actually, she reminds me a bit of my own best friend."

"Is this best friend of yours the person you wanted me to meet?" Apollo asked curiously.

Vera nodded. "Yes. She's the one that painted the painting of the parrot that's next to us. She's also made a few of the busts here. But she's been late getting here… I hope she's okay."

There was no mistaking that description. Juniper only knew one person specialized in those two art forms. Which meant that in this world-

"Hey, Vera! Sorry you've had to wait up for me!"

Juniper turned towards the voice and laid eyes on Robin Newman for this first time in this alternate world. The immediate difference was that Robin wore a bright red dress with a frilly white bottom, a paint-stained apron worn over the dress. This Robin wore no headband, instead sporting a big red bow in the back of her head. The only other difference was that her hair was down to her shoulders; besides this, Robin looked exactly as Juniper knew her.

Before Juniper could process seeing her friend again, Robin ran right past her, going instead to grab Vera's hands. "I wanted to be here on time, but I got caught in this nasty traffic jam. But it looks like you've been managing on your own!"

"I'm thankful that you're here now, Robin," Vera said, smiling. "And yes, this exhibit has been going well. I've even made a few new friends."

At this point Robin looked around, noticing that everyone else was there. Quite unexpectedly, she began to play with her hair in a flustered manner, a red tinge on her cheeks. "I totally ignored everyone here, didn't I? I apologize for my rudeness! Allow me to introduce myself: I am Robin Newman, second rate artist!"

Apollo and Athena introduced themselves to Robin, reassuring her that they didn't mind her unintentional rudeness. Then Robin faced Juniper, and for a moment there was silence between the erstwhile friends.

"Hello there. My name is Juniper Woods," Juniper said, remembering how she actually met Robin in Themis Academy. "I am a judge student attending Themis Legal Academy."

"A judge student? That's really impressive!" Robin exclaimed. "I'm sure you're going to be a great judge someday!"

"Wait, how can you say that to someone you've just met?" Apollo couldn't help but ask.

"I dunno. There's just something about her," Robin said. "She just seems like a capable person to me."

In her head, Juniper remembered how this conversation went the first time: When Juniper introduced herself as a judge student, Robin introduced herself as a prosecutor student- before saying how much she wanted to be in a court run by Juniper, facing Hugh in a heated court battle.

"Well, if I may so, judging by this painting you're far from a second rate artist," Juniper said, looking again at the painting

"You really think so? But I've got such a long way to go! Especially compared to Vera. She's the truly amazing artist!" Robin said, playing with her hair again.

"But, you're the one that encouraged me to do this exhibition in the first place, Robin," Vera said. "So I wanted to show the world what a great artist you are."

"I guess that explains why you wanted me to meet her, Vera. I'm glad to see you've made such a good friend," Apollo said, a bittersweet smile on his face. Juniper knew that he was thinking about Clay, and her heart ached for him.

"So how did you and Robin meet in the first place, Vera?" Athena asked.

"Well… after I was found innocent of murdering my father, I was at a loss as to what to do with myself," Vera explained. "And I decided to start attending a local art college in to further my craft. I was so nervous, being around so many strangers. In fact, I almost gave up and left. That was when… I met Robin."

"Well, ever since I was little I've always wanted to be an artist!" Robin said. "So I convinced my parents to let me attend this art high school in France! In fact, my parents are still there. But I decided to move back here briefly to attend a prestigious art college."

"And as you might have guessed, that college was the same one I was attending," Vera said. "The day we met, we just happened to run into each other. When Robin heard I was a new student too, she said we could be friends, even though we just met. We've been friends ever since."

"Yes, that sounds just like Robin," Juniper said. So that was life this version of Robin had. In the end, it seemed like Juniper's wish came true. This Robin was so much happier, living the life she always wanted for herself. She even had a new best friend…

"Junie, what's with that look on your face?"

Juniper shook her head, getting ahold of herself so no one would worry. She couldn't afford to do anything to interfere with her friend's life, now that the judge student had finally found her. Even if that meant being forced to watch Robin walk right out of her own life.

Chapter Text

Final Chapter: Life Moves On

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence, Juniper's bedroom

12:00 p.m.

The vigil on Juniper Woods continued, with one of the people going to Juniper's bedside to chat with the motionless girl every so often. However, as time marched on there seemed to be no real change to the situation, much to the frustration of everyone in the room. Even so, everyone in the room absolutely refused to give up.

What exactly changed the situation, no one present in the room would be able to say until after the fact. At the time, however, Virginia Woods was the first one to notice- Juniper's eyelids were fluttering lightly. With a speed belied by her advanced age, Virginia was back at Juniper's side.

"You're almost there, darling," Virginia whispered to her granddaughter. "I don't know where you are or what kind of experiences you've had. But I know I can say from my experience that life is far better when you're living it with your eyes wide open. So please, wake up!"

Needless to say, everyone else in the room noticed this and rushed right to Juniper's side as well. Athena was the first one to make it there, and so she drew her breath and said…

January 13, 2028

Alternate Gallery Nucleus, exhibition room

3:15 p.m.

"Um, did I do something wrong?"

Juniper started, to see that Robin had found her again. Truth be told, ever since she'd found this alternate version of her friend, Juniper found herself avoiding her. There was something… painful, about being around the artist.

Yet even in this alternate world where this was the first time they'd ever met, Robin could tell that something was bothering Juniper. And in the small exhibition room, Juniper knew that she couldn't avoid the artist forever. Which brought Juniper back to the question she'd been struggling with this entire time- how was she supposed to solve the problems of this world if she couldn't solve the problems of her home world?

In fact, wasn't that the biggest reason, the main reason Juniper was still here? Because she was running away from her home, trying to find some ideal world that didn't actually exist? No, everyone in her life deserved better than that. Even so, she couldn't just leave before settling her affairs here. The alternate versions of her loved ones deserved answers too.

"No, you didn't do anything wrong, Robin," Juniper said quietly. "Could you go get Apollo, Athena, and Vera? There's something that I want to say to all of you."

Without a word, Robin left, and while she was gone, Juniper looked at a bust that was on display. It was of Vera, with a small, gentle smile on her face. The plaque below read that the bust was of the artist's (which was to say Robin's) best friend.

Of course, this caused Juniper's mind to jump to the painting of herself that Robin made, back in her home world. It was details like this, of behavior that didn't change regardless of world, that made Juniper wonder if some traits were just inherent to an individual person. And again, it made Juniper wonder what the alternate versions of herself were really like.

"Hey, Junie! What was it you were wanted to tell us?" Athena asked as she arrived with Robin, Apollo, and Vera.

"Is this about why you've been acting so odd lately?" When everyone else looked at Apollo he explained, "Ever since a few days ago, all of Juniper's actions have been very strange, at least from what I've heard from Hugh and Myriam. Skipping class, locking herself in her room- even today her actions have just been off."

Of course Hugh and Myriam would tell other people about her worrying actions, and of course Apollo would notice the significance of all her actions. Really, there was no reason to keep this all a secret anymore. In that case, however…

"I'd like to talk with everyone in my house. And that includes Hugh and Myriam. So could you all meet me there?" Juniper asked. "I'll let Hugh and Myriam know."

"I suppose... I could be there, after the exhibit," Vera said, despite the fact that all of this this had nothing to do with her. "As long as... Robin agrees to this as well."

"Sure, I'll go!" Robin exclaimed. "I'd really like to spend more time with all my new friends, if possible."

Apollo and Athena also agreed to the meeting, albeit both still curious about what was going on with Juniper. Suddenly, Juniper could hear voices murmuring in her head. And they all sounded so familiar, even though they also sounded like they were being muffled by a lot of water. Was this something that the Mirror Pond was intentionally doing? If so, what was happening, and why?

January 13, 2028

Woods residence, living room

7:45 p.m.

Even so, everyone else was busy with some personal business, so it would be a few hours until everyone would be able to get to Juniper's house- it didn't help that it was on a mountain. So Juniper returned home alone, where she and her Grandma spent time just chatting with each other. Then when Juniper mentioned the meeting she set up, Virginia suddenly said,

"So you did find the Mirror Pond, didn't you."

While initially shocked, Juniper nodded in confirmation. There was a brief flash of pain in Virginia's eyes, before she said, "I could tell, you know. That you weren't quite the granddaughter I knew. But I was waiting for you to approach me first."

"You- *cough cough* made a wish on the Mirror Pond before, didn't you?" Juniper asked, remembering the time when her Grandma fell into a mysterious coma when she was more she thought back on that day, the more it made sense that that was what happened, considering her Grandma's words.

Virginia looked away, shame on her her face. "I did. I will not say what the wish was, however. Because if my suspicions are correct, the me that you know will have made the same exact wish, and she will explain it all to you."

Juniper decided to leave it at that. With the knowledge that her Grandma had gone through a similar experience made her the most valuable ally in this situation. Really, Juniper probably should have gone to her Grandma in the first place- after all, it was from her that Juniper learned about the Mirror Pond in the first place.

"I wish I hadn't done that," Virginia said, having read Juniper's expression. "When I first told you about that accursed pond, I didn't know it was real myself. I believed it was just some fairytale someone came up with about this forest we live in."

"Except it turned out to be real after all. Does that mean you found the pond later?" Juniper asked.

"Yes, I did. As I said before, however, that is a story I must leave for the other me," Virginia said. "However, you intend to leave for your home soon, correct? I must warn you that it will not be easy."

"Really? I mean, all I have to do is wish to go back home and I'll be there, right?" Yet even as she said those words, Juniper started to to get a sinking feeling in her stomach. There was another part of the legend associated with the Mirror Pond. One that Juniper had yet to see any sign of.

Her Grandma nodded, knowing exactly what her granddaughter was thinking about. "It is said that there are those that find the Mirror Pond, and then met an unfortunate end. I may be the only person alive that knows why that is."

The voices in her head got louder- however, the sensation of being under a lot of water grew worse, to the point that Juniper actually started feeling light-headed. Her Grandma rushed to catch her, a knowing look on her face.

"The Mirror Pond is very much a living being. And it does not want anyone to leave," Virginia said. "It's why the pond shows people the worlds they want to see- to keep their souls trapped in it's waters. But souls are not meant to remain outside their bodies. So eventually, the souls of the Mirror Pond's victims break under the pressure, and vanish, leaving their bodies as nothing but empty shells."

So that was the real truth of the Mirror Pond. Which left the pressing question of how Juniper was supposed to convince it to let her return home. Well that, and…

"Does that mean that nothing I've experienced this whole time has been real? It's all just been an illusion created by the Mirror Pond?"

"Well, you are free to believe me or not. But I can say for a fact that I am real. If I was just part of the Pond's creation, would I be telling you about how to escape it?" Virginia said.

That was a fair point. Which meant that Juniper really did visit two alternate worlds, with two different set of alternate versions of all the people that Juniper knew. At this point there was likely nothing Juniper could do about the about the first world- just trust in the version of herself that lived there. Here in this second world, Juniper had to find someway to escape the Mirror Pond's clutches and return home once and for all.

"I think I want to explain the Mirror Pond to everyone. Both here and back home," Juniper said. "I don't want something like this to happen ever again. And maybe… they can help me confront the Mirror Pond."

"Then I will lead all your friends to that accursed body of water." Virginia said, a determined look on her face. "You should probably go there first. I imagine it heard every word you spoke and likely has some words there as well."

Juniper summoned all the resolve she had in her heart. The Mirror Pond could say whatever it wanted. It was time to put an end to this.

January 13, 2028

Mirror Pond

8:30 p.m.

By the time that Juniper arrived at the Mirror Pond, it was completely dark outside, except for the pale moonlight shining through the trees. The normally still Mirror Pond was rippling it's waters in a clearly agitated manner.

"You don't know what you are doing," The Mirror Pond said in a distressed tone. "There are so many sights here that you have yet to see."

"If I'm going to see those sights, I'd rather see them back home, where I belong," Juniper said quietly. "More importantly, I will tell everyone the truth about myself. Please, do not try to stop me."

"Will anyone besides Virginia even believe you? You must acknowledge that your experience sounds like a tall tale," The Mirror Pond said.

"I trust in my friends. They will understand what I will tell them," Juniper said. The Mirror Pond suddenly went still, and Juniper understood why when she heard a lot of footsteps behind her. The judge student turned around to find her Grandma had indeed brought everyone else here, including Vera.

"So I assume you're finally going to explain what's been going on here?" Apollo asked.

"I will. And the first thing I need to explain is that I am not the Juniper Woods you all know. I… I come from a different world. One where I am friends with Hugh and Robin."

"I'm sorry, what?!" Apollo exclaimed. "That's not what I expected you to say at all! Although come to think of it, I have noticed that you have a habit for reaching for your right wrist, even though there is nothing on it. So I believe you."

"One of the first things Robin gave to me and Hugh is a band she personally made for this three of us to represent our friendship," Juniper said, looking at her still bare wrist. "Actually, this all started because the Robin I know didn't have the happiest life. And I wondered what it would have been like if she had a different life. And that's when I found this."

Juniper showed everyone the Mirror Pond behind her, which still hadn't moved- which meant that everyone could see it's uncannily still surface. With Virginia's help, Juniper gave everyone a short explanation of the Mirror Pond. The look on everyone's faces was naturally surprised, but no one looked like they didn't believe what Juniper was saying. Eventually, Juniper ended her explanation with how she needed to get back to where she belonged.

"So that's the real story of what happened to Mrs. Woods back then," Athena said, playing with her earring. "Okay, I'm going to do whatever I can to help you! It's doesn't matter what version of you it is- I will always be there for you!"

"I may not know much about Robin- in fact, today is the first time I've met her. Yet, I can't help but believe Juniper when she says that I am friends with her in another world," Hugh said, smiling at the artist. "In fact, I don't see why we can't be friends in this world."

"Has the other me seriously not taking you all to Sandy's yet?" Myriam said, sighing. "Then please give her a good smack for me when you get there! And then please go there as soon as you can. Got to make up for the time you've been gone, right?"

Of course Juniper had not intention of smacking the Myriam she knew, but she understood what this version of Myriam was saying. And Juniper had to admit it was somewhat amusing that this Myriam had no problem with someone hitting an alternate version of herself.

Vera stepped forward, an incredibly nervous expression on her face. "You said that… you've never met me in your world. So… could you do something for me? When you go back, I'd like you to be friends with the other me. And… I'll keep being friends with the other you."

Juniper promised that she would befriend the Vera of her world as soon as possible. Finally, Robin was the last person to approach Juniper, and it was clear that the artist had something she really wanting to say.

"You said you did all this because the other me had a difficult life, right?" When Juniper nodded in confirmation Robin shouted, "Well, I may not know exactly what the other me lived through, but- I know she's much stronger than me because of it! Even so, you belong by her side, not mine. But before you go, take this-"

Robin thrust a paintbrush into Juniper's hands. "If the other me is an artist too, then she'll need this. Feel free to tell her it's from me!"

Juniper put the paintbrush into a pocket on her dress, making sure to keep it safe. "Thank you for your kind words, everyone. I'll be sure to tell everyone in my world about all of you. Now, Mirror Pond. Please let me go-"

Juniper had her back to the Mirror Pond. Which is why she didn't see it coming when water rose up from the pond, forming a hand that suddenly grasped Juniper's waist. Juniper felt herself get dragged back, and a split second later everyone else dashed towards Juniper. Athena managed to reach Juniper first, grabbing her left hand.

"Oh no you don't, you stupid pond! I'm not letting you taking Junie!" Athena screamed, pulling as hard as she could. "Hey, a little help here!"

Apollo reached Juniper second, grabbing her right hand. Even with the two of them pulling, however, Juniper could feel that the Mirror Pond's grasp was stronger. Hugh grasped Apollo by the waist and started pulling, while Robin did the same with Athena, and their combined strength managed to pull Juniper forward a little.

Lastly, Myriam grasped Hugh's waist, and Virginia grasped Robin's, which mean that there were now six people fighting against the Mirror Pond. While they were winning, Juniper could feel from how hard the pond pulled back that it wasn't going to give up.

"Why- why are you doing this?" Juniper asked desperately. "Why have you been keeping people your prisoner, to the point where people have even died, Mirror Pond?"

"I have been here since time immemorial! I have knowledge of every world that has ever existed, and every world that could ever exist," The Mirror Pond said. "Yet I am fixed to this forsaken, solitary location. All I can do is reflect the desires of people's hearts back at them. That's the only reason anyone ever seeks me out."

In a single moment of clarity, Juniper finally understood everything. "You're incredibly lonely, aren't you? My house is the only one that's anywhere near here. So I imagine there have been many years where no one has come to see you."

The Mirror Pond's grip slackened slightly. "There have been centuries where I have not seen a single person. Truthfully, I never intended to harm anyone. As Virginia explained, however, people's souls are not meant to be outside of their bodies."

"I can't overlook the people that died because of you. However, I do understand how you feel," Juniper said. "When you're all alone in the world. I know I've felt that way a few times in my journey through these two alternate worlds. But my friends all reminded me that I'm never alone! No matter what world I was in, my friends were always there for me."

Even as they continued to try and pry Juniper from the Mirror Pond's grasp, everyone was clearly touched by Juniper's words. As the Mirror Pond's grasp grew weaker and weaker, Juniper could start to hear the voices in her head a lot more clearly.

It was of everyone back in her home world, asking her to wake up. Juniper knew that it wouldn't be longer until she was finally back where she belonged. However, there was one final matter that Juniper felt like she absolutely to settle.

"Mirror Pond, if all you really want is for someone to be there for you, then… I could visit you more often," Juniper said, feeling herself start to get short of breath put pushing forward anyways. "I don't think I ever want to leave my world again, but I could always just talk to you."

"But, you only have so many years in your life, and I will remain here for years after you die. Your offer would accomplish nothing in the end," The Mirror Pond said desperately. Juniper had no way to counter that point, and the strength of everyone trying to pull her away was starting to flag.

"Well, who says you have to stay here anyways?" Robin asked. "Do you really have to stay as a pond forever?"

The question surprised the Mirror Pond enough to cause it to release it's grip, and Juniper practically flew into everyone else, causing all of them to collapse into a heap. Juniper slowly got on her feet, rubbing her aching waist, as everyone else looked at the Mirror Pond to see what it would do next.

"I was named by one of the very first people to find me," The Mirror Pond said. "And it was because of them that the legend of the 'Mirror Pond' has survived the endless, cruel stream of time. It never once occurred to me I could ever be anything else."

"Well there you go then. A pond with the kind of powers that you have could probably be anything you want to be!" Athena said in an encouraging tone.

"I think I want to reflect on the lives I have unfairly stolen over the course of my existence. After that, I want to see explore the infinite possibilities of these infinite worlds." The Mirror Pond begin to glow brightly. "I will be eternally grateful to all of you, for what you've done for me. As for you, Juniper Woods, it is time for you to return to where you belong."

Juniper was suddenly struck with a fierce headache, and her vision dimmed. As she collapsed, the last thing she saw was all her loved ones rushing to her side…

January 10, 2028

Woods Residence, Juniper's bedroom

1:00 p.m.

Juniper opened her eyes to find herself laying in her bed, with everyone crowded around her bedside. The first thing that Juniper did was look at her right wrist, upon which sat her proof of friendship- she was finally back home.

In the next second, however, everyone around her exploded, so relieved to finally have Juniper back with them. In between hugs from Athena and Robin, Myriam clearly trying to hide tears, and Apollo and Hugh's smiles, Juniper almost felt overwhelmed.

As this was happening, Virginia looked over her granddaughter, as if unable to believe that she was there. Then she suddenly she asked, "Juniper, what's that in your pocket?"

Everyone else stopped to see what Juniper's grandma was talking about. Juniper reached into the pocket of her dress and felt something familiar. So it was before everyone's eyes that Juniper took out the paintbrush that the second alternate Robin had given to her.

Janauary 10, 2028

Former site of the Mirror Pond

1:27 p.m.

As everyone traveled to where the Mirror Pond was, Juniper tried her best to explain to everyone what happened to her the entire time she was gone. The part that was the hardest to understand was how Juniper could have experienced several days in the other worlds and only hours in her home world. Virginia suspected that the Mirror Pond could only deposit people in other worlds according to their native world, and perhaps the Pond also messed with Juniper's perception of time in order to keep her in it's clutches.

There would be no way to ever know for sure, however, because when everyone arrived at where the Mirror Pond's location, the found it was no longer there. Wherever the spirit currently was, Juniper wished it could find somewhere it could truly call home. Which left the matter of clearing up the last remaining questions.

"So the wish that you made so long ago, Grandma. You wished for a world where my parents were still alive, didn't you," Juniper said sadly. "I remember considering that very wish myself at one point."

Virginia Woods put her hands over her heart, her lip trembling. "You have been such a wonderful granddaughter to me your whole life. Even still, raising you all on my own has been so stressful sometimes, financially and physically. So when I found the Mirror Pond and it told me it could grant my wishes, I had a moment of weakness. I wished for a world where I could spend my life with my entire family."

"So what happened that forced you to leave? And how did you escape the Mirror Pond?" Apollo asked.

"At first, that world was everything I hoped it would be. But soon enough, it became clear that I was not supposed to be there," Virginia explained. Juniper nodded in understanding, having run into that same problem several times herself. "And then I heard the voices of Athena and Juniper calling out to me. So I tricked the Mirror Pond into releasing me, by telling it I wanted to see a new world and describing my home to it. When you found the Pond, I was so worried, because I didn't think the same trick would work twice."

Virginia smiled proudly. "However, Juniper, not only did you convince the Mirror Pond to let you go honestly, but you even healed the wounds it was suffering from, and now this can never happen to anyone ever again."

Juniper shook her head. "When the Mirror Pond tried to take me, it was everyone else who saved me. If I've learned anything from this experience, it's how lucky I am to have everyone."

"I just can't believe there are two different worlds where we're not friends," Robin said, looking pained at this.

"No, I don't think that's how we should look at all of this," Juniper said, looking at her proof of friendship again. "The male version of you did want to be friends with us in the end. And the version of you that grew up as an artist instantly wanted to be friends with me and Hugh. So when you think about it, no matter what world we're in, we'll always be friends eventually."

Robin smiled at this. "Speaking of that artist version of me, you mentioned I was friends with another artist. Could you tell me more about her?"

"Well I don't know what this other version of me was thinking, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to introduce you to Vera," Apollo said, sweating.

Before anyone could respond to this, everyone's stomachs began rumbling. No one had eaten anything in all day, so it was about time to go take care of that.

"Well I agree with the other version of me. I deserve a good smack for not taking any of you to Sandy's before now, sss sss sss," Myriam said. "But I definitely plan to make up for this, so follow me!"

As everyone followed Myriam, Juniper gave one last glance at where the Mirror Pond used to be. She was actually starting to feel grateful for the whole experience. Now she knew that while she couldn't change what happened in the past, she shouldn't take what she did have for granted.

From now on, Juniper planned to shape her world with her own hands.

The End.

Chapter Text

Epilogue: To everyone that's out there

January 14, 2028

Alternate Themis Legal Academy, version A

1:00 p.m.

In the end, Juniper decided to chalk up the fact that she couldn't remember the past few days to a fever. At least, that was the conclusion she arrived to when she woke up today with absolutely no memory of the past few days but with a splitting headache. And when she asked Hugh and Myriam what happened during that time, the actions they'd described were only possible if Juniper was out of her mind with illness.

Except, if Juniper had to be completely honest, it was true that she sometimes considered approaching Robin again to see if they couldn't start over. Yet she often felt that was impossible, especially after how the mock trial ended last October.

Today, she was casually chatting with Hugh and Myriam about classes and what their plans for the future was. All of them were preparing for the final exam in June. Hugh was also preparing to take the bar exam eventually, while Myriam was actually considering going into journalism. Juniper, meanwhile, was going to meet with Professor Courte to discuss how she was going to become a judge later today.

Then Robin approached the table, a determined look on her face. Hugh and Myriam were naturally wary of the male prosecutor student. Juniper, however, felt anticipation of what Robin might do, especially after the judge student's unnatural actions these past few days.

"I've been thinking. You worked so hard to try and reach out to me, Juniper," Robin said intensely. "So you deserve just as much effort from me! I'm going to try and be friends with all of you! And if my parents have a problem with that, I'll give them a piece of my mind, maaannn!"

"Heh. If you really mean that, then I suppose I could try and lend you a hand," Hugh said, adjusting his glasses. "I stick out for my friends."

"But don't think I'm just going to believe you after what you pulled before," Myriam cut in. "I'm going to be keeping a really close eye on you, Robin!"

"I deserve nothing less!" Robin shouted. "Do you still want to be friends, then?"

Maybe Juniper's actions lately could only be explained by a brief fit of madness. At the same time, maybe those same crazy actions were exactly what Juniper had been intending to do for a long time now. The legal system needed defense attorneys, judges, and prosecutors. So it would perhaps be for the best to finally forgive Robin.

"Yes, I would like to be friends you with, Robin."

January 14, 2028

Wright Anything Agency, version B

4:00 p.m.

As Juniper walked into the Wright Anything Agency, she saw that Robin and Vera were already there and had set up a pair of canvas, evidently painting something. At first, Juniper had a hard time believing that she was briefly replaced by an alternate version of herself. Having a ticket to an art exhibit she didn't remember attending in her pocket was definitely decisive proof of this, however.

Juniper hoped that the alternate version of herself found the happiness she was looking for. Once Robin and Vera formally introduced themselves to her, Juniper could definitely see herself being friends with them. Having them in the WAA was a great chance to get to know them better.

"How long have you two been painting here?" Juniper asked.

"Long enough that we haven't actually accomplished any lawyer work today," Apollo said, a frown on his face.

"Oh shush, you. They've been here for a few hours," Athena said, smiling. "And they've been painting some really pretty pictures!"

"I am painting… the ocean. I think… I'd like to go to the beach with everyone," Vera said. "And while I'm still nervous about going out in public, I am getting better at it, thanks to Robin and Apollo."

"That's very brave of you, Vera," Juniper said, smiling gently at the artist.

"I'm painting a portrait of everyone here!" In response to the surprised look on Juniper's face, Robin explained. "I enjoy spending time with everyone here, but when I finish college I want to go back to France, to see my parents again. So I want something to remember everyone by."

"Well, there's no reason to not keep in touch. Junie and I sent plenty of letters to each other back when I lived in Europe." Athena said.

"We could all be your pen pals," Juniper said, liking the thought a lot. "And you could always visit us here whenever you want."

"Eh heh heh, that sounds so wonderful! But that's not until a few years. Until then, let's enjoy the time we have to spend together!"