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I Will Stand in the Dark For You

Chapter Text

I know you are capable of anything.

I know you so well, my friend.

I know you might just run away

What am I to do? Who do I ask for help?

Is it all on me? Is it all on me? 

--( Lyrics by Dave Mallory from Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812)

On August 10, 2027--less than a than a year after he’d been convicted of the murder of Drew Misham--Kristoph Gavin had tried to slit his wrists in the prison showers. 

Fortunately, Simon Blackquill--the other disgraced attorney on Gavin’s cellblock--had managed to thwart the attempt, sending out his hawk to summon the guards and the prison doctor before it was too late.

Phoenix Wright did not hear about it until the next day. Although though Wright suspected the news had been kept from him as long as it could’ve been, he nevertheless felt as though it had been thrust upon him before he was fully prepared for it.Though wasn’t that the case with everything concerning Kristoph Gavin and himself?  

“It’s Kris--Mr. Gavin, sir,” Apollo Justice had said, as he placed a steaming mug of coffee on his boss’s desk. “He tried to kill himself yesterday morning. He’s out of urgent care, but he’s still under close observation.  I thought you’d want...that you should know.”

There was a curious edge to Justice’s voice at delivering the news. Phoenix’s first instinct was that the boy was understandably exhausted. He suspected his young associate had spent the bulk of the previous evening at Klavier Gavin’s side.

Of course, there was another plausible, far more cynical explanation for Apollo’s odd demeanor: disappointment that Kristoph’s suicide attempt had failed. Though the thought saddened him, Wright could hardly blame the young man for feeling that way. There was a time when Phoenix himself might have felt similarly--but those days were long gone. It would’ve been far simpler than the mess of emotions he was feeling right now.

Disgust that Kristoph had tried to take the easy way out rather than allowing justice to run its natural course. Anger that he himself had not foreseen this as a possibility.

Rage that Kristoph had acted so selfishly, so callously--without a second thought for what his death would do to those he left behind. Fear that maybe Kristoph’s actions hadn’t been so callous after all, that he’d known and did not care--may even have actively hoped--that this death would hurt Klavier, Trucy, Phoenix.

Pity, though Phoenix was aware that Kristoph deserved none of it, that this brilliant, terrible, wonderful man should’ve been brought to this.

Trepidation for what he knew he must do now.

Wright waited until Gavin had been off intense suicide watch for over a week before he scheduled his visit. Though the sentimentalist in him had wanted to come the moment he’d heard, the pragmatist in knew that this was the very definition of unwise--the foolishly foolish delusions of a foolish fool in love, as a certain whip-wielding prosecutor might have put it. He couldn’t have run the risk of his presence triggering Kristoph to try again.

He told no one of what he was planning to do, sure that Miles, or Apollo or Trucy would stop him. Half-hoping they’d succeed. Maybe more than half-hoping if he was truly honest. 

Instead, he merely told the staff of the Wright Anything Agency that he had several errands to run and would be away for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until he walked outside to call for a cab that he realized Athena Cykes had followed him out.

“You’re going to see him--aren’t you? That man...Gavin,” she said quietly.

To say that Phoenix was taken aback would’ve been a gross understatement. “How did you…” he began before his eyes landed on the chain around her neck. That goddamn Mood Matrix. For a moment, he considered denying that he was going to see Kristoph, but he knew Athena would not be fooled.  

“I’m not going to stop you, Mr. Wright. Not when I know I’d do the same thing in your circumstances. But I thought you might like the company.”

“You don’t need to do this, Athena.”

Her blue eyes were so kind, so full of understanding.“I know. I won’t go inside with you unless you want me to. I just...I can’t let you drive to that prison all alone. Not when your heart is cry--” 

Recognizing that he was fighting a losing battle and quite sure he didn’t  want to hear the rest of that sentence, Phoenix muttered a curt “fine” and allowed Athena to walk him over to her own car.

He’d been a little worried that Athena would want to spend the short drive to the prison talking about his feelings , but she spoke only once, asking if she might turn on some music. He acquiesced, and soon the loud screeching of the Gavinners’ latest album filled the car. He was a little surprised, as he hadn’t pegged Athena as a fan.

“Trucy,” she said brightly. “For my birthday. I think she’s trying to tell me something about what she thinks of my taste in music... I can change it if you want,” she added gently.

“It’s fine.” And it was. Despite what Athena might expect, thinking about one Gavin brother did not necessarily bring to mind thoughts of the other. And it was a welcome distraction to speculate as to which of Klavier’s ex-boyfriends was the titular “prosecutor’s witness.”

But then the song changed…

Atroquinine, My Love…

He felt his body clench up suddenly, his tie now seeming to strangle him like a vise.

“Mr Wright, are you okay?”  Athena’s voice dragged Phoenix back to himself--or at least, as much as could be expected.

He had just enough presence of mind to bark out “Not this one. Play anything….just not this one” and refocus Athena’s eyes on the road.

Athena quickly switched on the radio instead, but the damage had already been done.

Phoenix realized now this would be the first time he’d seen Kristoph Gavin in the flesh since the Misham trial. It had been even longer since the two had actually spoken to each other in person when Phoenix had visited Kristoph in his cell shortly after the conclusion of the Shadi Smith case.

He thought back to that time. It had made his blood boil to see how well Kristoph was adjusting to incarcerated life.

The luxury items carefully positioned around, as though this was the set of the cover shoot for an interior decorating magazine-- Better Prisons and Gardens perhaps--and not a jail cell.

The neatly-pressed suit that he’d somehow been permitted to wear in lieu of a prison jumpsuit--the mere fact that he was wearing it an indication that he’d roped some hapless guard into picking up his dry cleaning.

Most of all, the friendly, affable way he’d greeted Phoenix--as though nothing had happened between them. As if they weren’t solely responsible for each other’s misfortune. As though some terrible part of them hadn't genuinely rejoiced in destroying each other, just as they’d rejoiced in saving each other.

As though they were still friends .

Of course, they’d never really been “friends”  after all. They’d been so much more than that.

Perhaps that had been the real problem all along--friendship, whether real or feigned, would’ve been so much simpler than what Phoenix Wright and Kristoph Gavin were to each other.

Truest of companions. Bitterest of rivals. Savagest of enemies. Gentlest of lovers.

For he could be gentle, damn him. Kristoph Gavin, the sociopath, the murderer--the traitor to all Phoenix Wright stood for-- could be so fucking gentle that when he suddenly wasn’t gentle any longer, his savageness--whether directed at himself, at Phoenix, or at the world that had “wronged him--suddenly seemed more of a lie than his gentleness.

But even his gentleness was never gentle enough. His hatred was always there but carefully hidden underneath the veneer of love--almost imperceptible like the soft kisses Kristoph used to press between Phoenix’s ear and jawline. Kisses so light he might’ve sworn he imagined them if it weren’t for the faint curve of a smile he felt pressed against his skin.

He thought again of that subtle smile again. That wonderful, terrible smile. That involuntary twitch of the lips, one of the few things in the world that Kristoph Gavin could never control. That radiant smile that that he, Phoenix Wright-- a washed-up, hoodie-clad piano bum--had somehow managed to draw out of stoic, handsome Kristoph “Coolest Defense in the West” Gavin on countless occasions.

Had that smile always been secretly cruel? A self-satisfied smirk that his machiavellian plan was working--that Wright was fully under his control and did not suspect a thing? (Naturally, he’d been wrong on all counts).

Or had he smiled for another reason entirely? Had he smiled, because he’d decided to pretend for just a moment that this wasn’t just another game? Had he smiled because the thought of them --dining together, laughing together, sleeping together  with no ulterior motives whatsoever--made him genuinely happy?

Either way, Kristoph’s mask had slipped, and Phoenix’s own mask had slipped alongside it.

Wright felt an uncomfortable prickling in his eyes, and hoped that Athena in the driver’s seat  beside him hadn’t noticed. He was sure she’d want to have deep meaningful conversation about “his heart crying” that he wanted to avoid at any costs.

Besides, Phoenix insisted to himself--his heart wasn’t crying. Even if his eyes were .

Chapter Text

As always seemed to be the case in situations like these, the time it took for Phoenix and Athena to reach the prison  simultaneously dragged and raced. When they finally arrived, Phoenix double-checked his lapel and breast pocket for attorney’s badge and magatama respectively and dug around in his case to ensure he had the  necessary papers he would need.

When he was satisfied that he had everything he might need, he turned to Athena. “ Thanks for driving me. As your boss, I’m gonna go ahead and give you the rest of the day off. Go home, Athena. You deserve it. ”

“But I can’t do that!” Athena clenched her fists together in her expression of determination and frustration that reminded Phoenix of Maya. “ How will you get back?”

“I can take a cab.”

Athena made a face, probably thinking that considering how poorly business had been lately, the agency couldn’t really afford to splurge on long taxi rides. She was probably right.

And he could not ask Apollo to pick him up either--or at least, not without being forced to explain why he was here in the first place.

For a moment, Phoenix wished he’d remembered to bring his bicycle along. But then, he immediately regretted it.

Although he was trying to remain optimistic about the challenge ahead of him, he had no way of knowing what would transpire. Even if everything went as smoothly as possible, he couldn’t run the risks of biking-while-distracted.

For he would be distracted.  Whether he came out of this feeling angry or sad or worried or relieved, he would be most definitely distracted. His hands gripping the handles of his bike so tightly that his palms would be red and raw by the time he reached home. Or else, his hands pressed so lightly on the handles that he’d let himself be swayed this way and that, like a dried leaf dancing in an autumn breeze.

Athena’s small gloved hand on his shoulder brought Phoenix back to himself. “If you don’t mind...I’m gonna stick around until you’re ready to go back.”

“I expect I’ll be here awhile.”

“That’s fine. Take as long as you need. The longer the better, actually.”   Athena removed her hand from Phoenix’s shoulder. A gleam of melancholy determination lighting in her eyes, she continued. “ There’s something that I need to do...something that I’ve been putting off for far too long. And I can only do it here.”

Here ? At the highest security-prison in the entire region?   What business could Athena possibly have that would take her here?

“For work?” 

“Not exactly. For myself. ” As Athena glanced off into the distance, she reached across her body to grab her upper arm. The digital face around Athena’s neck turned a somber deep blue, as she exhaled deeply.  

Phoenix gently squeezed Athena’s shoulder in awkward but genuine attempt at reassurance, “Would you like to talk about...whatever it is?”

She shook her head. “Maybe someday. But not...not today.”

Athena straightened her  posture, and Widget slowly began to resume his “neutral” color and expression. “Mr. Wright…for what it’s worth, I think what you’re doing is so brave .”

Brave?  What a ridiculous thing to say. Desperate, probably. Foolish, certainly. Mad, without a doubt. But brave?

How could it be “brave” when he still wasn’t entirely sure what might happen once he was in the building? How could it be “brave” if all of his tentative plans instantly fell apart the instant he saw Kristoph Gavin’s handsome, arrogant face again?

How could it be “brave” if Wright found himself lunging instinctively for Gavin’s throat--or worse for his lips ? How could it be “brave” if he ended up swearing and shouting and ranting that Kristoph dared to think he could do this? That he could do this to him ? To them ?

How could it be “brave” if  he ended up swearing and crying and begging Kristoph to live?  For Kristoph to live,  if not for himself, then at least to live for those who--in spite of everything--still loved him.

“I'm not brave. If you only knew…”

Athena gave a sad little smirk at that. “I think I know better than you, Mr. Wright. I’m a psychologist remember? And I know that doing something that scares you--especially when it’s the right thing.  And especially especially when you don’t know what will happen when you do it.. That’s what courage is.” 

Phoenix shook his head. “I’m not sure I believe you.”

“ I’m not asking you to.  I only wanted you to know that I’m proud of you. And that you’ve inspired me to be brave too. So thank you.” 

Phoenix wondered why his young colleague needed courage and of who exactly she needed to see at the prison. And then, a possible answer came to him in a flash: 

That prosecutor--the gloomy dark one--with a hawk on his shoulder and the shadow of the  hangman on his face . Simon Blackquill. Now that Phoenix thought back to the Sasha Buckler trial, he did recall sensing a curious spark between Blackquill and Athena.

It hadn’t worried him at the time. Tensions of all kinds always ran high during an intense trial. He’d felt that same rush--that curious blend of cerebral and carnal stimulation-- himself on more than one occasion, most often with Miles , occasionally with Franziska, even once--bizarrely enough--with Godot.  

It was unsurprising that Cykes and Blackquill might experience that same frisson. Assuming that Athena and the doomed prosecutor left that sort of tension in the courtroom, there was  really nothing to be concerned about. 

But if Athena and Blackquill had started fraternizing in a decidedly non-professional setting… Well that was something different entirely.

Phoenix couldn’t help but feel anxiety and an almost-paternal protectiveness toward his young colleague. Athena was so young and vibrant and kind. Trusting a death row inmate--and one that was a cold, calculating lawyer to boot--with something so precious as her heart was the worst kind of blunder she could make.

‘ My, my, Phoenix Wright. Judging another for loving a doomed, broken thing? How depressingly self-righteous of you.’ As always, the cruelest, most rational part of his brain spoke with Kristoph Gavin’s voice.  ‘ Not to mention ironic, given your own predilection for tragic dalliances with the beautiful and the damned. You do know hypocrisy has never looked good on you-- don’t you,  mein lieber kleiner Feuervogel?’

That may be so, but it has always looked far worse on you, Gavin. ’ Phoenix countered silently. ‘And in spite of all we were to each other, I was never ‘your dear little Firebird.’’’ 

‘No,’ Kristoph’s voice in his mind conceded. ‘ You never truly were--were you? More’s the pity. Though I suspect I wouldn’t have liked you nearly so much as I did if you had been.’

‘Nor I you, Kris. Nor I, you.’

 Out loud, Phoenix said to young woman beside him. “Athena? Just promise me that you’ll be careful, okay?”

“You too, Mr. Wright. You too.”

Chapter Text


Kristoph Gavin looked --in a word-- defeated.  

He was generally unkempt with his clothing rumpled and stained in a manner that the Kristoph Gavin that Phoenix Wright had known would never stood for. Gavin had always been trim, but now he was positively gaunt, having shed at least thirty pounds since  Phoenix had last seen him. The weight loss was not particularly surprising given that after the denouement of the Vera  Misham trial, nearly all of Kristoph’s special privileges had been swiftly revoked.

The drill hairstyle was also gone, replaced by a messy chin-length crop, and without it, Kristoph seemed curiously naked: powerless, vulnerable and somehow paradoxically far older and far younger than his actual age.  A closer examination of the man’s face also revealed other key changes: several grey strands interwoven with Gavin’s pale, nearly colorless blond ones; new wrinkles on Kristoph’s forehead and around his mouth. 

However, what struck Phoenix the most was what hadn’t changed: Kristoph’s eyes, still intelligent and intense and ice-blue behind his spectacles.  There had always been a vaguely haunted quality to those eyes. Now they shone with a fierce vulnerability that somehow evoked both a feral beast and a forsaken child.

Under Wright’s intense gaze, Kristoph felt his heartbeat quicken. Curiously enough, he doubted that the logical  triggers-- fear and lust -- had caused it. 

For all that seeing Phoenix again brought back all sorts of memories--some chaste and some carnal--none seemed sufficient to cause such an immediate physical response. 

As for fear, well, Kristoph was always afraid--wasn’t he?  Pedantic and paranoid, sometimes flinching at even his own shadow. That fear that caused him to do horrific things in the past, his anxiety enabling his monstrosity. 

No, if Kristoph were to guess, he’d say that his increased pulse was the result of  increased blood flow to his head. Interacting with Phoenix Wright always had that impact on Kristoph Gavin’s brain--causing it to function at an accelerated rate triggered by the requisite acceleration in blood circulation.  He wondered if Phoenix had ever experienced a similar sensation when interacting with him. 

After Wright took his seat, the two men watched each other in appraising silence for an indiscriminate amount of time. It might have been less than a minute or it might have been several minutes before Phoenix finally spoke.

“Hey, Kris.”

“ Hello, Wright. You… you look well.  Is that a new suit?”

“Yeah.  I’m not sure I’d still fit in the old one, and even if I was time for a change.”

“ It’s very flattering. But then, blue always was your color.”

Phoenix acknowledged the compliment with a slight nod. “I like your new haircut.  It really brings out your eyes, and it… it reminds me of the way you used to wear it.”

Both men immediately recognized these casual pleasantries for what they were--gentle, inoffensive ways to break the ice between them. 

But even these seemingly  harmless topics of conversation were distorted reflections  of their shared history.

A blue-suited Phoenix Wright  and a short-haired Kristoph Gavin.  For a moment, it was almost as though the past eight years had not transpired, and they were meeting again for the first time. 


 Kristoph  ran a bandaged hand down the side of his neck where his ornate hairstyle had once rested. “The hair  was a compromise. If I agreed to let them cut it, they would call off the watch earlier than scheduled. I think they thought I might try to strangle myself with my own hair. Preposterous of course. As if I would ever be that desperate.” 

This last statement  was a lie, and they both knew it.  Though Kristoph may not have been that desperate, he clearly had not been that far off. He must have been to attempt what he did. 

“You can’t blame them  for being overly cautious,” Phoenix pointed out. “ Statistically speaking, people who have already tried to ...well… tried to end things….once are very likely to try a second time.”

Gavin did not reply but instead began picking at the bandage covering his hand. The right hand to be precise--the one with that other horrible scar. Hidden between wrapped layers of gauze, it was now out of sight--but not out of mind.

Kristoph always deftly changed the subject whenever someone had asked how he’d received his scar. There was also  Kris’ childlike nervous habit of biting him thumbnail at times of great stress and the knowledge that Kristoph Gavin had already poisoned one bottle of Ariadoney nail polish.

Phoenix thought again of those black psyche-locks. Cold, dark, full of despair.  

Was this really the first time Kristoph Gavin had tried to end his life after all?

“Have they taken your nail polish away?” Phoenix asked, concern adding intensity to his tone.

“But of course. And my violin. They took those even  before the...before I…They wanted to take my glasses too, but Klavier wouldn’t let them. I suppose they thought I’d smash the lenses and then… Of course, prison guards aren’t exactly hired for their brains , now are they?”

“We can’t all be as clever as you are, Kristoph Gavin.”

“Even if I was never as clever as I thought I was?”

Phoenix gave a harsh cough that may well have been a suppressed laugh. “I’m surprised you admit it.”

“Are you? We both know I don’t suffer fools lightly--even when the fool is myself.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I expect it’s why I was always so fascinated by you, Wright. Even now. You are many things--impulsive, irritating, perhaps even mad--but foolish is rarely one of them.”

“Fascinated” wasn’t the right word at all, not even near to it, but Gavin’s vanity prevented him from saying aloud what he truly meant. He wondered if the other man had intimated the unspoken subtext of his admission--and whether to be angry or relieved if Phoenix had picked up on what he wasn’t saying.

“Objection.” Phoenix countered, eyes twinkling. “I think Ms. Von Karma would beg to differ on the question of my foolishness.”

“You give her too much credit.”

“ Maybe you don’t give her enough.”  He let out a sigh that he hadn’t realized he was suppressing. “There’s more than one way to be a fool.  And if I wasn’t… at least in some ways… I doubt I’d be here right now.” 

“You’re here because you are a fool?”

Phoenix shrugged noncommittally. “In a manner of speaking. It would be more accurate to say that I’m here because...because I’m considering doing something truly crazy.”

“ Now why doesn’t that surprise me?” Kristoph raised a wry eyebrow. 

“Because you know me nearly as well as I know you?”

“I fear you overestimate me--just I always seem to underestimate you.” When Phoenix did not respond, Kristoph changed the subject. “ So am I to take it that you’ve come to seek my counsel on whatever madcap scheme you’ve cooked up in that incomparable mind of yours?”

“ Your counsel, not exactly. But I do require testimony...of a sort. I need answers, ones that only you can give me.”

Kristoph’s lips twisted into the nearest approximation of a smile that he could muster in his current, fragile state.  “Color me intrigued.” 

Sensing that Kristoph was in as cooperative mood as could be expected, Phoenix withdrew his secret weapon from his breast pocket and placed it in the palm of his hand. 

Kristoph’s eyes widened at the sight of the magatama. He’d always been curious about Wright’s little talisman, though he found the claims of its supposed truth-revealing powers dubious.

 “However did you manage to smuggle your little trinket past the guards?”

“I didn’t. I told them it was my good-luck charm, and they let me keep it.”

“And is it? Your lucky-charm, I mean.”

Phoenix rubbed the back of his neck in that bashful way of his. “Well, that all depends.”

“On what?”

“ On you, Kris.” 

 Flustered as he was, Kristoph somehow managed to keep his tone casual.  “If I didn’t know you better, Wright, I might think you were flirting with me.”

“If you didn’t know me better, Gavin, I might pretend that I’m not .”

Cheeks flushing, Kristoph shook his head in a vain attempt to recover his composure. “You really are impossible--aren’t you?”

“Said the pot to the kettle.”

Kristoph cleared his throat. “ So about this..testimony… of mine. What exactly is it you require of me?” 

“For today, I just have one question. But it’s a big one.  One that will determine if and how we go anywhere from here.”

Gavin nodded. “Very well. Proceed with your question.”

“Why...why did you do it?”

With his bandaged hand, Kristoph pushed his glasses up his nose. “You’ll need to be more specific than that, Wright.  Why did I do what ?”

“I think we both know what I mean.” Kristoph shrugged, and Phoenix clarified.  “Last were in the prison shower...and you..tried do something to yourself. And if things hadn’t played out differently...well, you wouldn’t be sitting here now. I...I need to know why you did it.”

'You tried to do something to yourself.’ 

It did not escape Gavin’s notice that Wright was carefully avoiding certain words. Words like  “razor” and “suicide” and “killing yourself.” But was Wright speaking in vague terms for his own comfort or for Kristoph’s?  

Kristoph brushed the fringe out of his eyes. “Does it really matter why I did it?”

“ Yes. It might not seem to matter to you right now, but it will. And it matters a hell of a lot to me.”

“Ah, so it’s your conscience bothering you, then--is that it?” Kristoph hoped his tone came across as viciously to Phoenix’s ears as it did to his own. “ Well, rest easy. I didn’t do it because of you.   Not because your testimony put me in this wretched place and certainly not because I’m wasting away of a broken heart in here.”

“I know. Please don’t put your own words in my mouth. I expect better of you.”  Phoenix took a deep breath and counted to ten before continuing. “I’ll ask again. Why did you do it?”

“Why does anyone do it?  I wanted to die; it’s as simple as that.” 

“Bullshit! “ Phoenix slapped the table emphatically, causing Kristoph to flinch at the sudden sound. “It’s rarely simple.” 

“Isn’t it? Bold words from someone who’s clearly never attempted himself...unless perhaps after Miss Hawthorne…. “

Wright refused to dignify that with an answer. “Fuck you, Gavin.” 

Phoenix knew that it was unwise--and perhaps even risky-- to  bait Kristoph in this way, especially given the man’s obviously fraught mental state. 

But it was hard to show restraint, to hold his tongue where Kristoph Gavin was concerned.  Kristoph had that effect on him: reducing his inhibitions and heightening all of his emotions. Phoenix suspected the impact might be mutual, with each of them making the other a more intense version of himself in all the best and all the worst ways. 

“ Oh fuck me--eh? Because that particular approach worked so well for us last time--didn’t it?”  Kristoph  all-but-shook in an almost cartoonish display of fury, but just as quickly as the outburst erupted, it subsided. “ “I’m sorry, Phoenix. That was...that was uncalled for….I shouldn’t…”

‘No, you shouldn’t.’ Phoenix said to himself. 

Aloud he said , “Just forget it…. And if you can, just try to answer my question. I know that it’s probably hard and humiliating. But if you can, I need you to try and I need you to be honest. “

Kristoph was quiet for awhile, and when he finally spoke, his voice was quiet and tentative.  “I was being honest before. It’s as I told you, I… I wanted to die.”

Phoenix felt the magatama react to the statement and focused the device. Sure enough, a psyche-lock had appeared over Kristoph, but it was one unlike Phoenix had ever seen before.

The lock  was purple. More red than blue admittedly, but still a far cry from the normal red indicating a conscious lie.  It was also a very dark, somber color, though without the cold despair of a black psyche lock. 

‘Does this mean it’s somewhere between  red and black locks? So not a conscious lie exactly but not an unconscious one either.  Maybe like a false observation or perception that the person consciously believes is true, even if another part of their mind recognizes it isn’t?”

Mentally reminding himself to ask the Feys about  purple psyche locks the next time he saw them, Phoenix spoke again. 

“Do you know something, Kris?  The magatama told me that you were lying when you said you just wanted to die. You might not even know that you were lying, but you were-- I assure you. You don’t really want to die--even if you think you do.”

“So my slitting my wrists was just some sort of desperate cry for attention, was it? Such a pity that no one informed me. It would have spared me an awful lot of unnecessary hassle--not to mention another ugly scar or two.”

“ A cry for attention, no. For help .”

“I don’t need help,Wright. Least of all from you. And even if I did, I wouldn’t want it.” Another purple psyche-lock materialized at his words. 

“If you say so, Kris. But remember there’s no shame in accepting help when it’s offered. You may think it makes you weaker, but in my experience, it can make you stronger.”

“So you’re offering me help, then? Even though we both know I don’t deserve it. No offense, but I think I’ve had enough of your games.”

Phoenix stroked his chin thoughtfully. “This isn’t a game, Kris. At least not on my part. Besides, I haven’t even decided if I’m going to help you after all. “

“I’m not sure whether to be relieved or insulted.”

“You’ve given me a lot to think about, Kris. But I’ll need time and space to think it over.  What I’m considering...well this isn’t the kind of decision I can afford to make lightly. Which is why I should really head out now, before I start making promises that I’m not sure I can keep. 

“I understand.”  Kristoph cleared his throat awkwardly. “Will I… can I at least hope that I might see you again? That you might come back  regardless of what your decision is ?”

“Maybe. I think so. If you want me to.”

“I think … I’d like that.” Kristoph’s cheeks turned slightly pink again. “Even if you can’t help, just  getting to see you again…I...I’m not even sure I can say...”

“Shall we say…  same time in a week or two? Though of course, I reserve the right to cancel or reschedule without advance notice.”

Kristoph smirked. “Spoken like a true lawyer.”

“Well, I’ve had my badge back for nearly a month now. Speaking of which, remind me to tell you next time about the orca I had as a client.”

“I’ll remember, and I...I look forward to seeing you again, Phoenix Wright. Whenever and however that may be.”