World: Ace Attorney
Featuring: Diego Armando
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
"Oh my... Mr. Armando!"
The young doctor ran to his patient's bedside and hurriedly deposited his steaming mug of coffee on the nightstand.
He hadn't expected the man that had been lying on that bed for the past five years to just open his eyes ten minutes into his morning shift.
The young man checked the heart monitor; the patient's heart was beating a little bit too fast. The doctor frowned and looked down at the older man; his eyes, of course, were unfocused and darted from left to right. They had diagnosed irrevocable blindness two years into his coma. It was an after effect of the poison that had paramedics running to the cafeteria next to the local court, five years before; same thing for the white hair.
And those two facts were trivial compared to the things that had the whole medical staff think Diego Armando was dead.
"Don't try to talk, you'll hurt your throat! Oh my god, we all thought you were dead! Or dying! Or forever lost!" The young doctor wasn't sure he was allowed to say such things, but there were other, far more important things at stake. "I'll be right back, don't you dare move!"
And he ran out of the hospital room, screaming for nurses. Leaving Diego alone.
His throat was on fire, as if he had drunk acid, and his body felt like it didn't weigh anything at all. His head felt sore, and he couldn't move his toes, but his eyes were open; of that, he was pretty sure. Then why was everything black around him?
Diego gathered his strength and managed to lift his arm halfway to his head, but the appendage felt too heavy and he let it fall on his chest. What... I feel like... a newborn... What happened to me...? Can't see... He gritted his teeth and lifted his arm again, succeeding in reaching his face. He pawed clumsily for anything that could be blocking his sight, but found nothing.
He quickly got frustrated, and began frantically scratching at his eyes in hope that whatever was preventing him from seeing would go away.
"Mr. Armando, this is... No don't!" The owner of the deep, old-sounding voice grabbed his wrist and got his hand away from his face. Diego wanted to growl, but the only sound that escaped his abused throat was a whimper, and he bit his lips.
"Don't try to talk." Diego wished the man would let go of his wrist and tried to twist it out of his grasp, to no avail. After a while, his strength left him completely and he went limp, panting a bit. "Good, stay calm for a little bit, you've been through a lot. Luke, please, give him a shot of Stimulix, it's right there in the drawer next to you."
As he concentrated on his breathing, Diego heard some slight commotion on his right side. Before long, he felt a small prickle at his forearm and he winced a bit. He tried to get away from the source of pain but a firm hand on his shoulder kept him still. He gritted his teeth and endured the dull pain for the few seconds it lasted, until finally the prickling stopped and the hand released his shoulder.
Diego stayed on his back, still as lost as before, but after a few moments his mind cleared and he was able to think more easily. His head still felt sore and heavy, but small glimpses of the past were coming back. He was an attorney... he worked for a fat man whose name was still a bit unclear... he remembered a cafeteria...
"Do you feel better now?" the strong voice spoke again. Diego absently nodded, although he still could not see his interlocutor. "Good. I am Doctor Jenkins. Do you remember who you are?"
"I'm... Diego... Armando," he rasped out, his voice a far cry from the velvet-like tone he used on a daily basis. "An attorney... defense attorney..."
"Excellent, your memory is intact. As you might have noticed, this is not the case for the rest of your body, unfortunately. Your sight, for example."
"W-What do you... mean?"
There was an audible sigh from somewhere to his left. "Do you remember anything about the accident at all?" Another sigh, when Diego shook his head. "I thought so. You'll probably remember in a little while, but I'm going to tell you anyway, it might speed up the process." Diego's prone body was shifted sideways; by now, he had figured out he was spread out on a bed, so it seemed logical than the shifting came from the doctor sitting on the edge of the mattress. "You were poisoned in a cafeteria."
"Yes. The dose you ingested was not strong enough to kill you, and we were able to bring you here rather quickly, so you didn't die. But the poison attacked your nerves and took over your brain. You slipped into a comatose state almost immediately after arriving here."
Diego struggled to understand. "But... then... my eyes...?"
"This is one of the after effects of the poison. I'm sorry, Mr. Armando, but you're completely and irremediably blind."
The attorney was silent for a moment as he processed the news, his head sagging back into his pillow. Blind. He was blind. He had lost his freaking eyes. This was already bad enough, but his sharp attorney senses had kicked in again and unconsciously noticed something. "You said this was... one... of the after effects," he whispered weakly. "There are... others?"
"Well... you can't see that, but your hair turned completely white. It's not that bad, medically and aesthetically speaking."
Diego unconsciously raised a hand to his mass of hair, and was startled when he followed the strand he had trapped between his fingers; it stretched down to his shoulder and rested on his collarbone. He couldn't remember the exact length, but he was certain that the only time he had let his hair reach past his shoulders was when he was seventeen, and even then it had taken him months...
If not years...
"How long... did you say I was in coma?" he asked, his voice gradually coming back.
"I haven't told you that yet." A comforting hand closed itself around his forearm. "Mr. Armando... you slept for five years."
Five years. Sixty months. Too many days. Too much time.
Diego's body went limp again, and he thought for a frightening second that he was going to slip back into coma from shock.
Five years. How could such a thing be possible? There has to be some kind of... mistake...
"Are you sure?" he asked softly, and he felt like an idiot.
But the doctor's voice was soothing. "We are pretty sure, Mr. Armando, we watched over you the whole time. It's a miracle that you were able to come back to us, we were losing hope."
We were losing hope...
Something clicked in Diego's head and he tried to sit up, only to be stopped by the doctor's hand on his chest. "You shouldn't move around too much."
"Where is Mia? Is she alright?" he asked shakily.
Mia, his dear little kitten. Mia, the woman he loved more than life itself. He had left her alone all those years, but he dared hope, in the deepest circle of his heart, that she hadn't lost hope, that she hadn't given up on him.
Unfortunately, his brain, now fully awake, replayed the awful scene as if the memory was only one day-old, and not five years.
"One espresso and one peppermint tea for the lovely couple!" the cheerful blond waitress said as she put the cups down on the table. "Enjoy!"
Diego smiled sweetly at the pretty girl. "I won't chew you out for that comment because that coffee you brought looks promising," he said, his gentle tone the exact contrary of what his words implied.
The waitress' smile wavered a little and when she hastily walked away, Diego's hard eyes switched back to Dahlia Hawthorne again. He still didn't know why she had wanted him to come over to the courtroom cafeteria and he was on his guard; being careful never hurt with that woman.
Dahlia was sitting in front of the male attorney, and how she managed to look graceful even without moving was beyond him. Her delicate hands were wrapped around her cup of tea and she occasionally sipped at it, being careful not to spill any of the liquid on her immaculate white dress.
Diego took a mouthful of coffee as he studied her with sharp brown eyes. "It would be a relief if you told me the purpose of this meeting," he said as he put his cup down. "I've got a train to catch, so if you don't mind, go straight to the point."
This was no metaphor; Mia was supposed to join him at the cafeteria, and they would have some lunch before they departed for Kurain to visit Pearl and Maya. It had been a while since the last time he saw the young girls, four months in fact, but he had been so obsessed with work that he had not found any time to spare.
Those four months, he had spent them solving occasional, easy cases, but he had also devoted every minute of free time to the thing that kept him awake at night: the unsolved murder of Valerie Hawthorne. He was convinced that Dahlia Hawthorne was the killer, but he wouldn't amount to anything without solid evidence and, more importantly, some efficient help. When he first asked her, Mia flat out refused, stating that she never wanted to see the demonic woman again, and that she didn't care about what truly happened anyway. The death of her first client was still a gaping wound at that time, slowly beginning to scar. But before long, she came back to him and agreed that they had to do something.
She couldn't find sleep, either.
They set to work; hunted for clues, background checks, testimonies, everything that could inculpate Dahlia. Countless hours spent in the dead of night on the Internet for old newspapers, classmates. Heated discussions about the way Dahlia managed to stuff her stepsister's body in Fawles' stolen car. Thoughts that plagued theirs minds even when they were supposed to be resting.
And just when Diego thought the investigations were seriously getting somewhere, the Demon called. And invited him over to the courtroom cafeteria for a little chat and a coffee.
Diego had been overjoyed; this was the perfect opportunity to present some of the facts they had collected and press the young woman some more. Mia hadn't been too keen on the idea; how had Dahlia gotten his number? Why had she called just when they were about to uncover the truth? This was suspicious, very suspicious, and she had begged him not to go.
"There are plenty of people in the courtroom cafeteria, kitten, people she'd rather never see again," he had chuckled, his self-confidence grating on Mia's nerves. "Judges, attorneys, cops even... The place she picked is quite odd coming from her, that's for sure, but at least I know she won't try anything drastic in such a place. You don't have to worry about me, love, she won't have any ace up her sleeve."
And she definitely hadn't; her white dress was sleeveless and had no pocket, along with lacy shoes. Her umbrella was nowhere is sight; Diego chuckled at the idea that any weapon she might have would have to be stored in her cleavage. Well, she could learn a thing or two from Mia...
Dahlia pushed a red strand back behind a delicate ear, a sweet smile on her face. "And why would there be a precise point, Mr. Armando?" she asked, and the pristine giggle that followed sent shudders down Diego's spine. The kind that made him want to rip things apart. "Can't it be a... social meeting?"
"Though you may smile, I still see the fangs in your mouth, little kitten. You couldn't care less for social meetings." Diego leaned back in his chair, balancing it on two legs. The casual gesture never failed to annoy Mia, and he certainly hoped it would annoy Dahlia, too. The courtroom was his playground, every part of it, and the cafeteria was no exception; the perfect field to trap her. "I'd say... you're getting worried."
The look of genuine confusion on her youthful face seemed like it had been worked on quite diligently, for Diego almost fell for it. "Worried? I don't understand, Mr. Armando..."
"Ha...! We'll see how worried you are when you're back in the courtroom, but this time, sitting in the defendant box. I'd gladly impersonate a prosecutor that day. And just so you know, I'm getting closer and closer to the truth everyday," he added with a smug grin. He would break her, just like she had broken Mia through Terry Fawles.
Dahlia's expressionless face turned into a frown. "It's that filthy liar, isn't it? She asked you to find something to accuse me of, since she couldn't prove me guilty of anything at that trial? Since the truth bothers her?"
"Mia didn't ask anything of me," Diego retorted sharply. "I was the one who thought there was and still is something strange about your character. I ran my own little investigation. Besides, you shouldn't be bothered by Mia anymore... she quit."
The surprised expression, this time, wasn't faked. "She quit?"
Diego nodded. "Her first client died at the witness stand, in front of her eyes. She held on for a while but she wasn't strong enough to take the strain anymore, so she quit a few weeks after that trial. I don't see her that often these days, but it's a good thing she left, she was too weak for the job."
That had to be the biggest, worst lie the male attorney ever said. Sure, Mia had thought about quitting right after her first trial, but he had convinced her to stay. She was strong, she could take it; the courtroom needed attorneys like her. To spill lies about her in such a way almost made Diego gag, but he had to ensure Dahlia thought Mia was far from being involved in this. He could play with his safety, and his life though it had yet to be proved, that woman had murdered her stepsister, and he was having coffee with her but he would sooner die than endanger his girlfriend.
Hawthorne's face relaxed and she giggled again. "Oh, well, her loss," she said, shrugging one shoulder. "She doesn't know what she's missing on."
Diego raised one eyebrow. "Is that a confession to something? Good. I like kittens who don't beat around the bush."
The young woman laughed openly and he sipped some coffee to keep from hitting her across the table. "Oh, Mr. Armando, you're so funny! No, I don't have any confession to make, only... a request."
Ha, so this is the main course. "I'm all ears, Ms. Hawthorne, though you're in no position to be asking things. But you'll learn I'm quite the forbearing man."
"Well, I was wondering, since you don't have a pupil anymore... Law always fascinated me, you see, and I've studied it on the side for a few years... Maybe you could-"
"I'd rather die than work with you, let alone be your mentor." Diego couldn't believe the girl was asking him this! He had come here prepared for everything: bribery, threats, physical assault even. But not this.
Sadness and hurt took over Dahlia's features. "But... Mr. Armando... I spent six months working up the courage to ask you this... I want to be in the courtroom, defending people, and more than everything else, I..." She looked down at the tiled floor, her cheeks turning a soft pink. "I... want to be with you..."
Diego was glad he had no coffee in his mouth at the end of her sentence, or else he would have sprayed the dark beverage all over the table. The thought of the two of them as a couple disgusted him, but he was too surprised to voice his aversion. She had to be kidding him! And she had to be daft, if she thought he would say yes.
"I'd swear you are trying to seduce me, Ms. Hawthorne," the distraught lawyer growled to hide his confusion. "You can't be serious."
"I can't be more serious, Diego."
Dahlia's hand reached over to place itself atop Diego's tanned one, and his first reflex was to snatch the appendage away as if it had been burnt. The gesture sent his spoon, which was resting under his palm, falling to the floor with a clatter.
For a few seconds, he stared at the woman he had been keeping track of for the last six months like she had sprouted another head.
"Is that a no?" the thorned flower asked softly.
"No: that's a "no way in hell"," Diego answered, trying to keep a casual tone and not let his anger explode.
In order to soothe his nerves and take his eyes off her for a little while, he bent over and retrieved his spoon from under the table. He sat back up and cleaned the metallic object, taking his time to avoid talking to her again. But she broke the silence.
"I guess it's fine; you'd make a lousy boyfriend anyway."
The words had him raise his eyes and meet her gaze again; but gone was the sweet, gentle Dahlia from mere seconds before. Under her furrowed eyebrows, her eyes were mocking and there was a glint in them that Diego would later recognize as evil.
He picked up his cup and drank a mouthful of coffee; he winced at the bitter, almost acrid taste that he hadn't noticed in his first few sips. She's getting me so upset that it messes with my taste buds. For some reason, the glint in Dahlia's eyes shone brighter and was backed up by a mirthful smirk.
"To what do I owe this accusation?" he asked, setting the cup down.
Dahlia shrugged. "You already are a lousy man. You share coffee with a woman whom you think murdered her stepsister, and just the fact that the meeting unfolds in familiar surroundings is enough to make you lower your guard. I can't stand smug dogs."
The tone she was using was very different from her usually sickly sweet voice. Diego's stomach tightened, and he didn't know if it was from the coffee or apprehension. "You did not come just to ask me out, did you?" he asked carefully.
"Tee hee, those deducing skills will always impress me! Too bad you didn't think of that sooner."
A bead of sweat rolled down Diego's forehead, and his stomach tightened even more. He knew now that this couldn't be from apprehension. "What do you mean?"
"I'm sure the fine attorney you are can put two and two together, but since your mind seems to be fogged, I'll summarize it up for you: one, you come over and have coffee with a murderer." She grinned at his flabbergasted expression. "Two, you let the murderer in question out of your sight for a moment."
Diego frowned; sure, he had broken eye contact for five seconds, the time it took to pick up his spoon. But he had made sure she wasn't carrying anything, so... Wait, something changed. That necklace wasn't there before.
The small, heart-shaped necklace hung from Dahlia's neck in plain sight. He hadn't seen it when they were discussing, and was about to dismiss it when he noticed the tiny vial in the middle of the heart pattern. It looked like it could be opened, but at the moment it was... empty.
Diego paled as realization dawned on him, making Dahlia smirk wider.
"And three... did you know that every time you're at a loss for words or annoyed, you drink coffee?"
That cunning, heartless little bitch. He should have seen this coming.
"What... what did you put in my cup?" Diego rasped, as his throat began to tighten.
Dahlia shrugged, standing up gracefully. "Oh, I don't really know what it is, only what it does. Have no fear; you are only going to die in the most painful, degrading way."
Diego was about to growl out something but a spasm forced him to clutch both sides of the table. Sweat was pouring down his back and he had trouble breathing, air coming out in short gasps. The thought that her weapon had finally come from her cleavage after all wasn't even the least bit funny.
Dahlia chuckled and walked up to him, leaning in next to his ear. "And you know what's worst? You were right about everything," she whispered softly, her hand on his shoulder as his whole body trembled. "But the world will never know. And by the way, your precious "kitten" has been standing outside for the past five minutes. Isn't that badge on her collar something you attorneys carry around?" She chuckled when Diego gagged, and ran a hand through his wild hair. "Don't worry, her time will come, but for now I'm going to tell her you are waiting for her in here, so that she may watch as you die. I owe the both of you that much."
Armando hissed, paralyzed with pain, and nausea kept him from yelling for help. He had been right, Mia had been right, he had been so close... but he was powerless. He couldn't even shrug her off or push her away.
"I guess this is farewell, Diego." Dahlia leaned close and gently kissed his cheek. "I won't miss you."
And she was gone.
He was clutching the table with so much strength that his whole hands were turning white. Why, oh why had he chosen the usual corner table? He couldn't be seen by most of the cafeteria's clients, and that day there weren't many consumers to begin with. He was burning up, and yet his spine was tortured by shudders. When his sight began to dim, he knew for sure that he was going to die.
The sound of heels hitting the ground behind him was a relief. But when their owner stopped at his table, regret overtook relief. Mia...
"Diego, you told me it would only take... Diego? What's wrong?" The young woman sat down in front of her boyfriend and looked at him worriedly. "You're so pale... why are you holding the table like this?"
"Mia... call... help," he hissed through gritted teeth. Nausea was getting stronger.
"Are you sick? There's a doctor on the other side of the street, we could-"
"Call help! Quick!" Diego leaned forward on the table, his cheek pressed against the smooth plastic surface. He couldn't feel his insides anymore, and you can't control something you can't feel. He probably had only a few seconds left.
Mia sensed this was something serious and retrieved her cell phone from her bag. "Alright! Alright, just breathe, I'm right here," she said soothingly, rubbing his back. Under the table, Diego's feet were kicking uncontrollably, which made her frown; what the hell was happening?
"Good afternoon, you've reached 911, what can I do for you?"
"Hello, I'm at the district court cafeteria, could you send an ambulance?" Mia said as she moved her hand to the back of Diego's neck to massage it, but did a double take upon feeling the hot skin there.
"The ambulance is on its way, ma'am, please remain calm and keep talking to me," the woman on the phone said.
"Oh, I'm alright, but my boyfriend... I don't know what's happening to him," the young attorney said shakily, her hand feeling Diego's sweat-drenched forehead and running through his damp hair. "It looks like a fever, but he has violent spasms and... dear god!"
Mia threw her phone aside when Diego's body heaved and he threw up blood all over the table, a surprised shout finding its way out of her throat. "Oh god, Diego! What the hell happened to you?" she cried, holding his shoulders as he spewed more blood.
His grasp on the table faltered, and if it hadn't been for Mia holding him up, he would have fallen to the floor in the puddle of his own blood. His insides were on fire and there was little he could see save for his shaky hands and the mess he had made on the table. Another wave of nausea hit him before he could catch his breath again and blood ran down his chin in small rivulets as he gasped for air.
"Diego! Diego, keep breathing!" Mia yelled, holding him against her side. "The ambulance is coming, just hold on a bit more! Please!"
But Armando's brain had about the same capacities as mashed potatoes at that moment. When she cupped his blood-covered face to force him to look at her in the eye, however, he noticed the tears.
His pale, cold hand came up shakily and wiped a tear away weakly. "Don't," he rattled, agony clawing at his ribcage.
"Don't go, don't leave me, please please please..." Her sobs intensified when he coughed up more blood, and she hugged his head to her chest gently. "I'm begging you, hold on..."
Breathing was becoming harder with each passing second, and his sight fogged until he could only see her eyes, her beautiful mocha eyes, filled to the brim with tears he had sworn he would never see her shed again.
"I love you too, Diego, please stay with me!"
But with a last bloody grin, dark brown eyes closed and his head fell to the side.
Mia's desperate scream wasn't enough to save Diego from the darkness that embraced him.
Her pleas and shouts were still fresh in his mind, five years later.
"I... I want to see her," he said weakly. "Could... could you find her? Tell her that I'm awake, that I love her... please." He couldn't care less if he was blind, sick, disabled or comatose; he wanted her by his side.
The doctor was silent for a little while, and there was a pat on Diego's forearm. "I think you should rest a bit, you need it."
"No! I need her... please, can't you understand? She means the world to me."
"Then your world is going to be pretty messed up," a second voice spoke up, and Diego blinked. He had almost forgotten there was another doctor in the room as well.
"W... what do you mean?" the white-haired man asked, dread pooling in his stomach.
"Luke! It's too soon, he is not ready for such news!"
Diego heard the younger man snort. "He'll figure it out sooner or later, and sooner means we won't have to walk on eggs around him." Luke sighed and sat on the bed as well. "Mia Fey... died last year. You would have found out eventually."
Diego's brain heard, analyzed, understood... but denied. "No," he said firmly. "She's not."
"I assure you she is, dead as can be."
"No, you must be talking about someone else..."
"Good God, Armando!" Luke growled. "You were dead to the world for five years! Things happened out there, and I think we know better than you if your girlfriend is alive or not!"
"That's enough, Luke!" Dr. Jenkins' voice snapped angrily. "Leave this room, now!"
The younger doctor left, but it was too late; his point had gotten across.
"Why... did you let me live?" Diego muttered, his blind eyes downcast. "If she is dead... then... I don't have a purpose anymore..."
"Now, Mr. Armando... you can't think that way, she wouldn't want you to-"
"She was everything I ever stood for!" the tanned man roared, his brain registering that he would never see her smile again, and his heart finally starting to bleed. He sat up completely, not giving a damn about his protesting spine. "She was the reason I was happy to wake up in the morning! If she's gone... I have nothing to fight for!"
Everything is over. The first tears rolled down his cheeks, in silence. Everything is over.
"I... I want to die. I was meant to die five years ago, it won't change a thing," he said through small sobs. "This life... has no meaning anymore..."
Jenkins' hand closed around his shoulder, and Diego thought that the old doctor was going to grant him his wish. Fat chance. "I'm sorry, Mr. Armando, but this is not the way things work. If you are awake today, then you weren't meant to die five years ago. Your awakening is a miracle I am not going to soil."
Little did the good doctor know, but Diego's already wounded heart exploded in his ribcage. This was unfair; they had worked to bring a murderer to justice, and right before they succeeded, he had been poisoned and put to sleep for years. He deserved to wake up and find Mia at his bedside. They deserved to be happy, together, for many years.
But did fate really give a damn about what you deserve?
Pure rage engulfed Diego from head to toes, and before the doctor could help it, the tanned man grabbed the IV on his arm and ripped the small tubes out of his flesh. Some warm liquid, which could only be blood, landed on his thigh. His head was spinning, but he didn't stop to think before he swung his feet over the edge of the bed and felt the cold tiles under his soles.
He didn't know what he was wearing, and he couldn't see a single thing, but it didn't deter him. Ignoring Jenkins' protests, he wobbled over to the nearest wall, raw anger pulsing through his body and allowing him to stay upright. He would find a door, a window, something. He would run, jump, anything. He would see Mia again.
Before he could find any window or door, however, multiple hands grabbed him and lifted him from the ground. "Let me go!" he roared, throwing punches and kicks at random, the beast in his heart howling. "Leave me the fuck alone! You can't tell me what to do!"
"This is for your own good, Mr. Armando," Jenkins' voice said from somewhere to his right as he was carried, back to his bed it seemed.
"You don't know what is good for me! She's gone! She's gone! Nothing is worth living anymore!" His screams echoed in the room and he felt dizzy from the effort, but he kept fighting fiercely against the doctors.
He howled at the top of his lungs until his throat felt sore. He punched and kicked until his very bones felt like they were going to shatter. He cried until he had no tears left in him anymore, and even after that.
But in the end, he lost the fight.
They put him back to bed and restrains were tied around his wrists and his ankles to keep him in place. He struggled some more, but his exhausted body had the final say in this and he sagged back into his pillow, defeated tears running down his face. Through his emotional pain, he was vaguely aware of someone cleaning his arm and putting IV back in.
"I think you need to be alone right now. I'll come by later, Mr. Armando, try to catch some sleep."
The doctors exited the room, leaving a heartbroken Diego crying on his hospital bed, until exhaustion took over and he slipped into a deep, restless but mercifully dreamless slumber.
"Mr. Armando... can I come in?"
A new voice. A man, obviously, but the timbre was unknown to Diego.
Not that he cared. According to the variations in the amount of activities going on around him, the blind man had established that almost a week had gone by since he woke up. He had spent the first two days struggling and fighting, the next two growling on his bed, but now he just felt numb, and hollow.
Many times, he had willed his mind to go back to sleep once and for all, but he had never slept for more than three hours. He wasn't eating, wasn't drinking, which forced the doctors to hook up another IV. They scolded him like they would a little child, saying that he ought to be grateful he was alive at all.
Diego could only chuckle bitterly at those inanities.
"I fail to see how I could prevent it," he answered eventually, absently tugging at his long hair. It was annoying, but he couldn't see the point of getting a haircut.
The newcomer's steps neared the bed, and deposited something small on the bed. "I am Dr. Dorian, I don't think Dr. Jenkins mentioned my name to you."
"I don't think so either..." Why am I even talking to him? He's probably one of those med students that came by just to get a look at me... "What do you want from me?"
"Nothing. In fact, I may have something for you."
Diego's curiosity was jolted for the first time in seven days, but he kept on a straight face. "There's nothing I want. Now go away."
"I can give you back your sight."
Something poked at his heart; was it hope? No; he crushed the feeling as soon as it appeared. "If that were true, I would have been informed sooner. I'm not undergoing any operation, that would be useless."
"I am not talking about an operation, Mr. Armando. I have been working on that device-" There were some muffled sounds which reminded Diego of a hand patting a hollow box. "-for the past two years and I think it's ready. Dr. Jenkins and I... we aren't on the best of terms, so it doesn't surprised me he never told you about my work."
"So... you're basically asking me to be your personal guinea pig?" The Diego Armando from before would have been offended; but the blind man he had been reduced to just didn't care. "I don't see how that's beneficial for me."
"But... you'll get your sight back!"
"Again, what beneficial effect is that? I don't see the point of getting my eyes back if the only thing this is going to change is that I'll be able to get a visual picture of how screwed up my life is." He wasn't sure he wanted to see himself in a mirror again, or see the flat he had shared with Mia. He was better off blind, after all.
There was a sound which Diego recognized as cardboard being opened, and a small metallic clank. "Listen, I'll just leave it on the nightstand. It's some sort of mask; there's a switch inside that you have to toggle on, then you put it on your face. If you could just try it... it would mean a lot to me. I'll leave the decision to you."
The doctor bid him goodbye and took his leave.
At first Diego shook his head, not the least bit interested. But hours later, curiosity and boredom both reached heights that the former attorney never thought existed. Unconsciously, his left hand felt around for the nightstand and the unknown device that was sitting upon it.
His fingers met cold, hard metal and he cautiously lifted the item. It wasn't heavy, and there were tube-shaped protuberances along its length. Diego turned it in his hands a few times, running his pads over metal and what felt like plastic, until his thumb came across the switch the doctor had mentioned.
He hesitated; what is worth it? What good would it do? Then again, nothing could make things worse... On impulse, he pushed the switch until there was distinct click, and took a breath before bringing the mask up and over his eyes.
His frail wrists were the first things he saw; their gauntness was frightening, and he understood then why he felt so weak all the time. His body was alarmingly emaciated.
Diego didn't linger on himself much time, choosing instead to study his room, the room he had spent the last five years of his life. It was white, clean just as the smell of chemicals had suggested and overly bare, except for his bed, a nightstand and a chair.
There was a newspaper on the chair, which excited his curiosity a bit more. Thoroughly bored, Diego decided to read it; with some effort, he reached over and grabbed the paper, folding it over his lap. Automatically, he looked for the date. September 9, 2017... I can't believe it...
On the front page, there was a picture of a young man in a blue suit, with a terrible hairstyle and a big, stupid grin. But what caught Diego's eye wasn't his smile, or the porcupine he must have mistaken for a hairbrush; he would never forget what the gleaming badge pinned to the young man's suit stood for. An attorney... funny...
The white-haired man's attention settled on the article itself:
Phoenix Wright: one year and still kickin'!
"Not Guilty!" That's something you have to get used to hear whenever
Phoenix Wright is in the courtroom. The young defense attorney, no longer
a "rookie", won his seventh murder case in a row yesterday. The defendant,
Maggey Byrde, was cleared of all the charges she was accused of. What's
more, our "eagle of the courtroom", as people like to call him, found the real
murderer: Richard Wellington, a "virtuoso" of sinister nature, fell under
our hero's logic and deducing skills.
Let us not forget that Phoenix Wright's grand debut in the courtroom
was not especially happy. Indeed, our favorite attorney shall always
remember September 5 as the day his mentor was brutally murdered in her office,
and he could do nothing to prevent it. Ever since Mia Fey's death-
Diego did a double take and re-read the paragraph carefully. That stupid grinning guy was... Mia's pupil? That Phoenix Wright?
Once he got over the initial shock, something from the article made him frown.
-and he could do nothing to prevent it.
Nothing to prevent it? He was alive, awake and well! Why hadn't he protected her? Why did he let her die? Diego growled and watched the picture again, his blood boiling. How could the idiot grin like this? How could he smile at all, after he had failed to protect her?
Curse you, Wright, curse you to the deepest pit of hell! If I ever find you, I... I... Diego stopped that line of thought before it reached its end; he would never find him. And even if he did, how would he get his revenge?
For the first time since he woke up, something flared inside Diego, something he thought was forever lost: a goal. A purpose. Granted, his thirst for revenge was what motivated him, but it worked just as well.
And it was almost ridiculous, the way a plan easily hatched in his mind.