October 13th, 9:52 AM
Mob was quiet as they waited in the Visitor's Room. It made Nick a little curious. Most clients tended to babble nervously to try to ease the mood, or reiterate the defendant's innocence, but Mob just sat in the waiting room in silence and looked... thoughtful. Occasionally, he glanced just above his left shoulder, frowning slightly, but said nothing. The air in the room as they waited was strangely oppressive. It didn't help that the security camera was boring a hole in the side of Nick's head, as always, or that the guard was staring stubbornly at the opposite wall in his usual stony silence. Nick wondered vaguely if he ever left that room, or if maybe he was some kind of mannequin put there to make the precinct look less understaffed.
"Are you worried?" Nick finally asked, startling Mob from his thoughts.
"Ah- no," he said, a little shy, "I trust you to help Shishou."
Nick's heart swelled a little. Despite Mob's demeanor, there was a sweet kind of earnestness about him.
"And right you are," Maya chimed in with a wink. "You can put your faith in us! We've never lost a case. Well, except for that one time when we did it on purpose, but–"
"I think he gets the point," Nick said hurriedly.
A smile played at the corners of Mob's mouth. As he relaxed, the air in the room became less suffocating.
"Reigen Arataka," came a sudden harsh bark over the intercom, making all three of them nearly jump out of their skins. As the door behind the glass opened, Mob's smile disappeared, and Nick wasn't sure what to make of his pursed lips and tense shoulders.
Just who is this Shishou?
The man who entered the room behind the glass didn't exactly look the part of a wise and all knowing mystic. For one thing, he was young – or younger than Nick, in any case. Reigen was tall and lanky, with reddish blond hair that stuck up in cowlicks around his temples, and dressed in a cheap-looking gray suit and bright pink tie. When he entered the room, he carried himself with a lazy confidence that was somewhat undermined by the sweat already beading at his forehead and a pair of restless hands.
When his eyes landed on Mob he froze, suddenly drawing himself up a little straighter, and wiped his brow under the guise of brushing his messy bangs from his eyes. "Oi, Mob," he said smoothly, sitting down in the chair across from the three of them. "Weren't you just here a couple hours ago? You oughta head home, or you'll worry your brother half to death."
"I'm fine," Mob said quietly, avoiding Reigen's eye. "I found a lawyer for you."
Reigen glanced between Nick and Maya, eyes widening slightly. When he spoke again, his voice was gentler. "You didn't have to do that, Mob."
Reigen opened his mouth to retort, but seemed to think better of it, clearing his throat. "Right. I mean, thank you, Mob. But from now on, how about you take it easy and let Serizawa handle this... issue, okay?"
Mob didn't reply, but both he and Reigen glanced at the same spot above Mob's shoulder, looking irritated. Nick raised an eyebrow, but he couldn't tell what exactly it was they were looking at.
Reigen caught Nick's expression and cleared his throat again, leaning a little closer to the glass. "Mob, why don't you step outside for a bit so I can talk with Mr...?"
"Wright. Phoenix Wright. And this is my assistant, Maya Fey."
"Right, thanks. Pleased to meet you."
Mob glanced at Nick and Maya, then back at Reigen. Mob hadn't looked him in the eye since he'd come in the room, but now that he did, Reigen squirmed a little, his eyes darting. Mob let out a quiet sigh and stood to his feet. "All right."
As he turned to the door, Reigen called out, "Hey, Mob?"
Mob stopped and turned around, his expression unreadable.
Reigen chewed his lip, starting to sweat again. He seemed to be searching for something to say, or maybe the right way to say it. But after a moment, he rubbed the back of his neck and let out a breath. "...Make sure to have Serizawa reimburse you for the train home."
Mob stared Reigen down for what felt like an eternity, until he finally dropped his gaze with a quiet, "Yes, Shishou."
When the door closed behind him, Reigen flinched and looked a little rueful.
...Jeez, Nick thought.
Maya cleared her throat.
And with that, Reigen snapped out of his reverie as though nothing had happened. "Sorry," he said smoothly, "how rude of me. Mr. Wright, Ms. Fey, thank you for taking my case."
"Reigen Arataka, greatest psychic of the twenty first century!" The self-proclaimed psychic spoke more with his hands than he did his words, as if he was trying to distract from the sweat already beading at his temples and the twitch around his mouth. Nick was reminded of something Trucy said about conversational sleight of hand.
Reigen, he thought with a frown, was a performer. And judging by the thinly veiled disappointment on Maya's face, Nick guessed she thought the same.
He stuck a hand in his pocket, fiddling absently with the magatama. "Mob said you've been charged with murder."
Reigen ran a hand through his hair and shrugged, but his swallow was audible even from across the glass. "Occupational hazard, am I right?"
Nick raised an eyebrow. "Is it?"
"Oh, sure!" Reigen laughed a little harshly. "I mean, death is kind of part of my business. Although killing people to increase demand isn't exactly my kind of marketing scheme."
"I totally get it," Maya said somberly. "I've been tried for murder three times, myself."
Reigen stared. "That's... unfortunate."
He seemed to look a little more closely at Maya after that, frowning as he took in her spirit medium's garb. "Say, you said your name was..."
"Fey," Maya said, looking Reigen straight in the eye. "Maya Fey, master of the Kurain school of spirit channeling."
Reigen swallowed again. "Mob sure knows how to pick 'em," he murmured.
Maya puffed her cheeks indignantly. "He picked us because he thought we'd be more likely to buy your ghost story." She leaned in closer to the glass, eyes narrowed. "Or was that just baloney?"
The word baloney sort of undermined her threatening tone, but Reigen seemed to get the message loud and clear all the same. He held his hands up in surrender, trying to smooth out his expression into a smile. "Now, now," he laughed nervously, "I didn't mean it like that, Miss Fey, it just amazed me that Mob managed to find the one lawyer in this town with a spirit medium as an assistant, ahaha."
Baloney, Nick thought.
Reigen cleared his throat and fidgeted a bit with his tie. "Sorry. I'm just a bit on edge. I didn't expect Mob to..." And there was that rueful look again, as Reigen's eyes flitted to the door Mob let slam behind him. He took a deep breath and seemed to calm down a little, meeting Maya's eye steadily. "I'm not making it up. I can't remember what happened in that house because I was possessed by a spirit."
Maya stared him down for a long time, squinting hard as if she were searching for something. After what felt like an hour, she broke into a smile and pressed her hands together approvingly. "I believe him, Nick."
Nick raised an eyebrow, but he didn't see any psyche locks appearing in front of Reigen, either. Which meant that Reigen was telling the truth, or at least thought that he was.
"Well, Maya here's the expert," Nick said jovially, "so if she believes you, so do I." Still, he got the sense that the spiritualist was hiding something. He held the magatama a little tighter in his hand.
Reigen looked relieved, his shoulders sinking a little as the tension left them. "Good! Wonderful. Thank you." He tried to play it cool, but the dark circles beneath his eyes and downturned corners of his mouth were pretty familiar to Nick by now. The man was at his wit's end. He felt a stab of pity for him, and for the poor kid who'd gone through all the trouble to track down somebody who would believe his story.
"Can you tell us what you do remember?" Nick asked, not unkindly.
"Of course," Reigen said, clearing his throat. He drew himself up to sit up straight, and his voice and body language once again took on the tone of a performer – no, that wasn't quite it. More like a salesman. "Friday the 13th tends to be a busy day at the Spirits and Such Consultation Office, but we usually get a lot of prank calls and party invites from people who want to put on a show or hold a seance or something. Most of those calls are easy enough to schedule and handle by myself, so that's what I do. But yesterday I got a call from somebody about a haunted house near Salt Middle School."
"A haunted house?" Maya said, her eyes sparkling. Nick tried not to roll his eyes. For a spirit medium who dealt with ghosts every day, she sure loved the paranormal.
"A murder took place there decades ago apparently," Reigen explained. "But the body was never found, so there wasn't much of a case and the killer got away. So the spirit of the victim supposedly haunts the vacant house."
Nick looked unimpressed. "Spooky."
Reigen laughed hoarsely, sweat beading at his forehead again. "That's what I thought, too. The caller was just some thrill-seeker who wanted to try to get the ghost on camera and thought I might be able to help, so I figured I'd humor him and arranged to meet him at the house at midnight last night."
"And he showed?"
Reigen gulped. "Yeah... he did... we walked around the house for a while, filming stuff, calling out to the spirit, the usual paranormal investigator stuff people see on tv. Most of these kinds of callers just want that experience, you know?"
Nick didn't like where this was going. "And you two were the only ones in the house...?"
Reigen paled. "Yeah. I suppose it's not hard to guess the rest."
Nick swallowed, and he could feel Maya shifting uncomfortably in her seat next to him. "What do you remember?"
Reigen closed his eyes and screwed up his face in concentration, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair. "There was a bedroom... on the second floor. That's the last room I remember going into. The client – Norman, I think was his name – was behind me. He yelled something about the ghost, so I turned around, but..." The psychic gulped, opening his eyes and running a hand through his hair. "Next thing I know, I'm on the sidewalk in front of the house, which is on fire."
Nick's eyes widened. "Fire?"
"Yeah. Just the top floor, though. I guess it hadn't spread downstairs yet. I looked around the sidewalk, but I couldn't see Norman anywhere, so I went back inside – just into the foyer, mind you – and called out to him, but I didn't hear a response."
Nick and Maya both felt a chill.
"I was about to go back outside and see if maybe I'd missed him somehow, but that's when I heard sirens. Right after that, the firemen came in and I told them there might be somebody else in the house, so they rushed upstairs and shooed me out." Reigen tapped his fingers restlessly on his upper arm. "When they came back down and out of the house, they told me they were gonna need me to come down to the station, because they'd found a... a body with a knife in it upstairs."
There was a long silence after that. Nick gripped the magatama like a vice, but no psyche locks appeared. Maya sat on the edge of her seat, enthralled by Reigen's story. And Reigen himself looked a bit ill. Nick even thought he saw the security guard leaning in a little bit closer.
"Any idea where the knife came from?" Nick asked slowly.
"It was Norman's." Reigen let out a breath, trying to compose himself. "Just an average swiss army knife. He brought it with him, along with all his other equipment. I figured he only brought it to use some of the other tools on it in case we needed to get into a locked room or something, and he seemed harmless so I let it slide."
Maya shook her head. "We have a strict rule against weapons in the Channeling Chamber in my village. You never know what a spirit might do."
Reigen sighed. "Yeah, well, hindsight's twenty-twenty."
Something still felt off. Reigen seemed to be relaxing now that he'd found someone to believe his claims, but he was still sweating. His eyes still darted, more than once, Nick noticed, to the door where Mob had left. And although no psyche locks had appeared, the magatama felt warm in the palm of Nick's hand. He'd learned over the years that it usually takes asking just the right questions to put up a person's guard and activate the psyche locks. As long as a person was confident in their lie, the magatama couldn't help him. And Reigen, he could already guess, was a very confident liar.
Reigen seemed to feel Nick's eyes boring into him, and he glanced over at him, swallowing nervously. "That's all I really know," he admitted, "but those detectives who questioned me earlier can probably tell you more about the... the body." His eyes lit up. "Oh! And I should give you the number to my office. Serizawa's a real dependable guy, he can give you a hand with anything you need." Nick took out an old, beat up notebook from his pocket and wrote down the number and address Reigen gave him, as well as the address of the crime scene.
"I think that's about all we need," Maya said, standing up and stretching. "Right, Nick?"
"Right..." Nick didn't stand. "Just one last question, though."
Reigen eyed him cautiously. "Of course."
"If Friday the 13th is such a busy day, why did you give Mob the day off?"
And there it was. Five psyche locks suddenly appeared out of nowhere, chaining Reigen's heart with a resounding clang that only Nick could hear. Outwardly, Reigen shrugged, and offhandedly said, "It's a school day, and Serizawa can usually handle anything I need on his own." But the twitch around the corners of his mouth and the shaking in his fingers as he brushed a bit of hair from his eyes betrayed him.
Nick took a deep breath.
If he was going to take this case, it would mean putting his trust in a likely con man and believing in his innocence no matter what. Despite the fact that he was hiding something big.
But then Nick thought of Mob with his nose to the carpet back at the agency, the look in his eyes when he said that his boss was innocent as easily as if he'd said the sky was blue.
Even if he couldn't put his faith entirely in Reigen, then for now, he could at least trust in Mob.
"Okay." Nick stood to his feet. "...We'll go to the crime scene and talk to the detectives, then stop by your office and see what this Serizawa and I can do."
Reigen looked as if he'd deflated, as all the tension in his body left him like a punctured balloon. "Thank you... seriously."
"Don't thank us," Maya smiled. "Thank Mob."
Reigen looked down at his hands folded on the counter, his expression clouded. "Right... I should..." He looked up, suddenly more hesitant than he'd been through this entire interview. "Hey... would you do me a favor?"
Nick eyed him searchingly. "What is it?"
"...Take care of Mob for me. This whole ordeal is probably stressing him out a lot. If he gets stressed..." He cleared his throat. "Well, it doesn't matter. Just try not to let him get worked up, okay? He tends to overthink things."
Nick's expression softened as he took in Reigen's quiet voice and the way his thumb ran slowly over the side of his hand. He was starting to understand why Mob put his faith in him.
"We'll look after him," he said softly. "Don't worry. I'm a dad myself, you know."
Reigen turned bright red and started to splutter, "That's not what– I mean I'm not–"
But Nick and Maya had already left the room.
The security guard cracked the smallest of smiles.