Three years later, that trial still haunted his dreams.
A respected defence attorney murdered; only two people at the scene, no report of an intruder. No apparent motive, some evidence that led nowhere. Of the two suspects, one was a relative, the other a colleague.
Manfred had assigned him the case, handed him the file without comment - but his mentor must have known. The way his fingers had lingered on it for a second, the unspoken challenge in his gaze when their eyes met, the tension in his shoulders when he turned away.But he hadn’t seen it then. He’d been alone in the darkness, suffocating under the weight of his own guilt, aware every day that his life was a sham, and hating himself for it even as he marked the victories on the record of his own perfection.
In court, all he could feel was the room closing in, the air growing thin, and the cold metal of the gun in his hand. Maya Fey, Phoenix Wright – they were nothing to him but names on the docket. All he knew was that one of them had to be a murderer. He knew. And that had driven him on, relentlessly, regardless of evidence and testimony. He’d never even paused to consider any alternative.
You did it. You killed her. You’re lying. I won’t let you get away with it again. You have to be punished. Someone has to pay. You’re a killer. I know you murdered him. I remember it all.
He was sure now that if he’d ever truly been close to losing his reason, it had been during that trial. In the back of his mind for three days had been the echo of that scream that had wrenched him from sleep for fifteen years, and the burning self-hatred that was his constant companion, then.
And all the time, it had been right in front of his eyes. Redd White had been the answer to everything: the fourth man, the evidence that didn’t make sense. Manfred had seen it, waited for him to see it, waited for him to make the connection to his father. But the guilt had blinded him, and the indoctrination had been too complete. He had been unable to find his way out of the darkness, and Manfred had known then that unassisted, he never would.
He had hoped once that he might be rescued from the dark and from the horror; that a familiar hand would pull him into the light, that a familiar voice would tell him it had all been a dream. And in reality, losing that case was what had saved him, in the end.
But in his nightmares, he always won.
In his nightmares, when the gavel slammed down, the light and the hope were extinguished forever.
(Originally written for the gyakuten100 community)