Well…I'm back. Thank you to everyone who has been patient with me for the past year and a half as I finished this story. I warned you all at the beginning about my lack of updating skill, and I appreciate all my loyal readers. So, I present to you, the extra-long grand finale as a reward for your patience.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Ace Attorney series or its characters. I also do not own Inception.

Apollo stood in the defendant's lobby, pacing. It was all he could do to stay sane. This was his first case, and Apollo wasn't too keen on feeling the pressure. For the first time, Apollo was the one in charge. HE was in control. A man's life relied on his skills as an attorney, and Apollo couldn't help but panic.

"Ah, good morning!"

Apollo turned quickly and noticed his mentor standing before him before choking out a response.

"G-good morning, sir," Apollo stammered before looking at the ceiling. Kristoph smiled pleasantly.

"You look tense, Justice. Wound up tight."

"W-Wound up sir? No! I'm loose! I'm fine!" Apollo squeaked shrilly. Kristoph flinched.

"That screeching noise…is that your voice? Well…I suppose that's to be expected. Your first trial and it's a homicide. I guess "Justice" doesn't start small, eh?"

Apollo continued to be very interested in the ceiling fan before stammering.

"I-I'm fine! I got up at 5 am to do my "chords of steel" voice workout! I'm fine!"

Kristoph smiled at his apprentice while his own insides were in knots. Even though his goal was to get Phoenix behind bars, part of him wanted his apprentice to make a strong effort for his first case. And the kid's shrill rasping wasn't boosting his confidence.

"Ah, that explains it," Kristoph said brightly, trying to give his apprentice some confidence to avoid his own embarrassment. "I did detect a certain rasping quality to your screech."

Kristoph ignored Apollo's coughing and continued.

"As you know, the client today is a good friend of mine. I wouldn't want you to let him down…if you get my drift."

Apollo looked at his mentor briefly before replying.

"Drift gotten, sir! I-I'm all over that drift!"

Kristoph sighed. If Justice did well, it meant that he may be exposed. If he failed miserably, Kristoph's reputation as a mentor would be shot in the law community. His only chance of coming out unscathed was for his apprentice to make a strong effort, discover the "truth" of Phoenix's guilt, and make a "morally" correct decision. Kristoph knew there weren't many points of attack Justice could use in defending his client, and he was feeling rather confident, despite the major hitches in his plan.

"As it happens, I dined with him the night of the murder. We can't let this case fall through."

Apollo nodded slowly.

"Yes. Yes! I'm fine, sir!"

"One more thing. Don't say you're fine so much. People might take you the wrong way," Kristoph said. "I'll be preparing our case. You might want to introduce yourself to the client."

Kristoph left a sweaty Apollo Justice alone in the defendant's lobby so he could go over files. Apollo stood there, letting his stomach tie itself in knots as a man in a blue beanie and a hooded sweatshirt approached him. Apollo brushed aside the nagging familiarity of the man. Perhaps he'd seen his picture before.

Phoenix Wright simply studied the young attorney carefully, ignoring the greenhorn's first few stammers. It was sink or swim now, and he was relying on the latter.

"Morning. It's all up to you today," Phoenix said bluntly. The young attorney looked at him with what looked to be complete and utter panic. Well, maybe a simple question would put him at ease.

"So you're…"

"Fine! I-I'm fine!" Apollo blared out as Phoenix chuckled.

"Ah…Mr. Fine, is it? I do seem to remember you having an odd name."

Apollo's nerves were at a peak, and he knew he was already screwing things up majorly. Phoenix seemed to notice and gave him a rather sympathetic look, as if to say "I've been there."

"Um…are you sure you're okay? I mean, with me?" Apollo asked sheepishly. "Mr. Gavin is a top-notch attorney. And he's your friend! So why…?"

Apollo trailed off as Phoenix gave him a stern, but confident look.

"…you'll see."

Apollo sensed the ominous feeling behind that statement and shivered.

"You can do it. Be confident"

Apollo just kept stammering incoherent ramblings before Phoenix cut him off.

"It's time. Shall we?"

"Y-yes, sir," Apollo stuttered. Realizing that this was the first time he ever said those words to anyone other than his mentor, Apollo began to get a grip on his resolve as he entered the courtroom for the first time as a defense attorney.

Kristoph stood apprehensively behind the defense's bench, standing next to a very, VERY sweaty Apollo Justice. Kristoph noticed that the most confident person in the room was, in fact, the defendant. He just sat calmly, seemingly waiting for the whole trial to play out. Kristoph couldn't help but be a little uncomfortable with everything at stake.

His apprentice wasn't doing anything to help matters, quickly embarrassing himself in front of the judge, causing the old man to shake his head in confusion.

"Ahem…Mr. Gavin?"

"…yes, your honor?"

"I was under the impression that you would be heading this case…" the judge said, clearly confused with the situation. Kristoph merely shared his frustration.

"That was my intention," Kristoph began before changing his tone. "However, a defense attorney must always cede to his clients wishes, and my client specifically requested Mr. Justice."

The judge simply shook his head again.

"Well of course he wants justice! But to entrust this case to a greenhorn, why, I do not exaggerate when I that you're the best defense attorney in town, Mr. Gavin."

Kristoph smiled inwardly as the judge stroked his ego. As Phoenix took the stand, there was, quite reasonably, a good amount of banter among the gallery. The judge seemed genuinely hurt to see the man as a defendant, while Payne was obviously very giddy. Phoenix remained cool and collected, despite being in the spotlight.

As Payne was giving his summary, Kristoph kept his attention focused on his apprentice. The boy was positively drenched in his own perspiration, and his hair antennae were simply soaked. Kristoph simply tried to make him comfortable, give him a few pointers, and casually explained away the poker game as a legal competition, absentmindedly spinning a few words of poetry about the "cards wreathed in blue flame" that the men used to play.

After the introductions Phoenix Wright took the stand, as calmly and coolly as ever. After giving him a few reminders on cross-examination, he relaxed and let his apprentice do his thing. Apollo pressed him on almost everything, remarkably similarly to the way Phoenix himself did his own defenses. While Apollo was clearly nervous, he did ask the right questions and got enough information out of Phoenix to clear up the nature of the game. Maybe this would work out in Kristoph's favor after all.

"Defendant," the judge said after brief discussion with Apollo. "You were in the room the very moment the crime occurred, yet you claim no connection to the crime?"

At this, Phoenix gave a little smirk that Kristoph despised. That smugness that made him think he was always one step ahead of everyone.

"Now that's strange…" Phoenix said quietly. The judge looked baffled.

"What's strange?"

"I was testifying about the competition that night. Asking about the crime at this point is against the rules, your honor," Phoenix said knowingly, before looking right into Apollo's eyes. "Of course, I expected to hear a cry of 'objection!' from the defense."

Apollo looked like his heart stopped on the spot. Kristoph looked at his apprentice with real concern for his confidence, but more concern for the outcome of the case.

"Don't despair yet, Justice."

"S-Sir?" Apollo stammered before Kristoph directed his attention to the defendant.

"Wright. There's something I'd like made clear. Namely, your connection to the case at hand. And I'd like to hear it from you."

Phoenix paused, seeming to be lost in thought. And that's when Kristoph saw it. That look in Wright's eyes was more than just arrogance. He knew. Phoenix Wright knew who killed "Shadi Smith" that night, and Kristoph inwardly cursed.

But there's nothing he can do about it. Nothing. The fate of this case rests with Apollo. Apollo will do his job – find the lies. And expose them. Exposing Wright as the true murderer – that's what true "justice" is.

"Sure…why not?" Phoenix said, nonchalantly.

Phoenix continued to plead silence regarding the murder, which left Apollo no choice but to point out the only contradiction he could regarding the murder weapon, which left Payne giddy once more. Later, a new witness, a waitress emerged. Olga Orly. She seemed convincingly timid, but of course, Kristoph could see through it. Apollo could see through it too. During her testimony, Apollo tapped on Kristoph's shoulder.

"If she was the only other person down there, she's got to be lying…right? She's got to be…"

"I see where you're going, Justice…not a bad conclusion."

Apollo quickly pointed out the simple contradiction of the cause of death. The waitress seemed very flustered, but stuck by her story that the victim was strangled. Then, he quickly noticed the missing locket on the victim's neck. Kristoph couldn't help but smile. For a moment, the outcome of the case was forgotten. For a moment, Kristoph was simply a teacher, watching his student succeed, all due to his mentorship.

The witness then testified about the game itself, and Apollo wasted no time in figuring out the incorrect assumptions regarding the chip count. Apollo did the math in his head fairly quickly too, and Kristoph knew he didn't learn that from him.

Payne was starting to sweat more than Apollo (which was very difficult to do), especially after Apollo began to pressure the witness. The witness was rattled, but she managed to declare that there was cheating gave testimony to that effect. Apollo seemed to be racking his brain before turning towards Kristoph.

"Um…Mr. Gavin?" Apollo asked tentatively. "What's a full house?"

Kristoph sighed. Of course he didn't know about poker. Kristoph lived with the boy for years, and he sometimes took for granted how little Apollo actually learned before his apprenticeship. The boy really came from nothing. After explaining to the boy about a full house, the Judge and Mr. Payne seemed to make it their personal mission to educate Apollo on poker throughout the cross examination, seemingly oblivious to the greenhorn's continuous sarcastic remarks of "huh…you don't say."

Finally, Kristoph asked to examine the cards themselves. Payne obliged, and Justice asked to see the victim's hand. When he did, Kristoph did a double take.

The cards…most of them are red…did I? No…I'm just over thinking this.

"Your Honor! One of the backs has a different color!"

Kristoph was woken from his train of thought by his apprentice's outburst.

"Th-that's impossible! But I put that card in Mr. Wright's hand…"

Kristoph smirked as everything unfolded. Justice accused the waitress, and Kristoph began a last minute change of plans in his head.

Well…not the BEST outcome, but considering the circumstances…who cares if this girl is arrested? Gramarye's dead, I'm off the hook, and Justice will win his first case? Maybe it's better if Phoenix's punishment waits a tad longer.

After the waitress's unconscious body was taken away, the judge decided to end the day's proceedings. Kristoph was actually smiling until he heard a familiar, heart-sinking sound.


Phoenix Wright had taken the stand once more, ever so smug. Kristoph glared at him with all the malice he could muster.

"You can't end the trial here, your Honor. Not yet."

Payne looked positively confused, but not altogether displeased.

"What nonsense is the defendant spewing now?"

"Think. One of the cards has a different colored back. Don't you wonder what that means?"


Payne's shrill voice echoed through the court, completely bewildered.

"Wh-what are you doing, Mr. Wright? Raising objections right when you're about to get off the hook? Ridiculous!"

Apollo looked at Payne, and he had figured something out. Payne didn't actually like seeing Phoenix in chains. Sure, Payne wanted to win the case, but Apollo noticed that part of the prosecutor was at least a little pleased when he thought Wright would be found innocent.

The judge almost smiled at the outcome.

"Mr. Payne. You of all people should know that Mr. Wright has a talent for the ridiculous!"

Kristoph was fuming. It was like there were flames on the side of his face. Breathing…heaving breaths of anger and hatred escaped his lips. Phoenix had the floor, holding everyone's attention before addressing Apollo.

"I'd like to hear what Apollo thinks first…when do you think the cards were swapped?"

Apollo paused nervously, but then began to think. Kristoph could see the wheels turning in his head. Kristoph hoped, almost expected Apollo to be wrong. He wished he hadn't been so stupid. How could he have put the wrong color card back in the hand?

Apollo seemed to have come to a conclusion. He looked at Phoenix with confidence, sure of the answer.

"Perhaps it happened…after the murder?"

"Objection! That's ridiculous! What's the point of cheating after the hands have been shown? That's silly!" Payne was clearly bewildered, confused, and had no idea where the rookie was going. Justice merely shook his head.

"Yes! But tell me…how do you swap cards during the game? I'd take silly over impossible." Apollo was confident, and Kristoph's heart began to race.

"Take it from me son," Payne said, almost in a fatherly way. "There's a lot of silly in this world, but very little impossible."

For a moment, the world stopped. Winston Payne made a poetic, true, meaningful statement. Everyone in the world pinched themselves to make sure they weren't trapped in the middle of Inception.

Apollo provided a kick to the world and brought it back to reality.

"Oh? Even when the backs of the cards are a different color? If you pulled that during a game, you'd be caught in no time!"

The courtroom was abuzz. Kristoph was staring at his apprentice differently now. He was no longer a rookie attorney in over his head. He was a genuine threat.

Phoenix was having a blast. He knew he had the case in his hands, and simply directed the young attorney how to think.

"A simple, decisive question must be asked. Who swapped a red card for a blue card?"

"Wh-who?" Apollo asked, hesitating. Kristoph had to sway the boy.

"The game, and murder, is done. The victim is dead. Only two remain in the room. Alive that is. The defendant, and our witness, Olga Orly," Kristoph whispered tersely. He looked at his apprentice, almost begging him to listen. Apollo simply was lost in his own thoughts. Kristoph remembered the words he said to him a while ago.

You can only trust yourself and your own instincts.

Apollo was taking the words to heart. He seemed to be completely ignoring his mentor, just working out the details for himself. Kristoph held his breath while Apollo seemed to come to a decision.

"The one who swapped the cards wasn't Mr. Wright, of course…"Apollo began, thinking hard. "And, well, it doesn't seem like it could be Olga Orly either…"

Kristoph's heart lurched. The judge seemed baffled, and Kristoph tried to make his apprentice rethink things.

"That's hardly a logical conclusion, I'll admit. As the defense, I think it only makes sense for you to name Ms. Orly at this point," Kristoph whispered carefully. Apollo just shook his head.

"Yes, yes, I know! But…But she was the one who dealt the cards, right? I…I just can't believe she would make the mistake of swapping the wrong color card."

Apollo was right, of course. The judge seemed to accept his logic. Phoenix was smiling wide, opening the way for his explanation. Phoenix explained how the mistakes were made, taking a brief glance at Kristoph as he did so.

"You have to admit the possibility of a fourth person. Though it's more than a possibility. There was someone else there that night on the scene of the crime."

Kristoph was terse as he stared into the defendant's eyes.

"I believe the judge spoke truthfully earlier. You do make trials…ridiculous, Mr. Wright."

During the recess, Apollo was, well, psyched. He not only managed to cast doubt on the prosecution's chain of events, but he KNEW he was close to the truth. He thought about that fateful day a few years ago when he realized he shouldn't rely on anyone else. He remembered his vow to become an attorney the right way, and he was sticking to it. He curiously watched his mentor and defendant exchange words. His mentor did not look nearly as pleased with the whole affair as he did.

"That was quite…unexpected, Mr. Wright. To suddenly claim there was another person at the scene of the crime like that…I must ask…is it the truth?"

"Well now…I think you would know the answer to that?"

Kristoph gave Phoenix a hard look, then glanced at Apollo before responding.

"Ah, being mysterious, are we? Sadly, I've no time for mysteries. I'd only ask that you leave the defending to your defense in the future. Otherwise…I cannot guarantee the outcome."

Phoenix merely chuckled before replying.

"I see you haven't mellowed out one bit, Kristoph."

After Kristoph left for the judge's chambers, Apollo was left alone with Phoenix, who prompted a very cryptic conversation that left Apollo with more questions than answers. Did Phoenix cheat? Was the locket really his? What did he mean about his "ability" to observe someone's habits? And why did Phoenix pick him over Gavin to run the trial? Why did Gavin look so frustrated? With these questions lingering in the back of his mind, the trial resumed.

The timid, Russian waitress was quickly replaced by a professional, slick, pro dealer. She was cocky, confident, and seemed almost proud of the cheating scam she pulled with the victim. She explained it so confidently, despite being out-conned by the defendant. It was during her explanation of the moment of the crime that Apollo began to feel a very strange feeling.

Kristoph noticed it too. He noticed Apollo unconsciously rubbing his wrist – just like that day in that musty old English classroom. Except this time, Justice seemed aware, even scared, of something intangible. Apollo kept pressing on a particular point – the moment of the crime. He pressed the witness so excessively that even Kristoph had no idea what he was getting at. Finally, Apollo seemed to make his point.

"Ms. Orly…Perhaps you are unaware of this yourself…" Apollo began slowly. "Whenever you get to a certain part of your testimony, you touch the back of your neck with your left hand."

The witness jumped. Kristoph was legitimately confused, which didn't happen often.

"What indeed, Justice? I hadn't noticed anything of the sort," Kristoph asked, puzzled. Apollo seemed certain and continued.

"When she says that part of the testimony, she's subconsciously recalling something. Her body reacts to the memory, and she touches her neck! I'm sure of it!"

Kristoph looked around the courtroom. The only people who didn't share his confusion seemed to be Apollo and the defendant, who just simply smirked, fiddling with his locket. Before Kristoph could raise an objection to his own bewilderment, Apollo had pulled out the picture of the deadly bottle.

"Whenever she talks about the moment of the crime, she touches her neck. And what reminds us more of that moment than this bottle, the murder weapon!" Apollo exclaimed excitedly. "But something doesn't fit. If you were only the witness to the crime, why would that make you touch your neck like you're in pain? It was Mr. Smith that was hit, not you!"

The witness was squirming. Winston Payne was so lost by the events that his hair wasn't nearly as ridiculous as the look on his face. Kristoph's face didn't look much different.

"Justice…I'll admit, I'm a bit confused myself. This is certainly a…unique cross-examination."

"I'll explain later! Just, trust me! Now's our only chance to break her!"

Kristoph let those words sink in. Trust me. Any other time, Kristoph would have shrugged it off – brushed it aside, knowing that Apollo was bluffing. But somehow, Kristoph knew that Apollo had a plan that would work. Well, it would work in breaking the witness. It would work in getting the truth out – but not the truth Kristoph had in mind.

The witness was extremely flustered and actually intimidated by the boy who used to be beat up in school every day. The boy who never figured out how to talk to girls. The boy who Kristoph came to appreciate seeing every day for the past several years. The witness claimed to never have lost sight of the defendant, but Justice was ready with Wright's cell phone.

Kristoph watched as his case began to crumble – all because of that boy. He watched as the witness revealed that Smith had been the one to hit her with the bottle. That she hadn't seen the moment of the crime. He watched as Payne and the Judge seemed to react despairingly to a case that had become so bizarre. What was this…perceiving business? Kristoph couldn't help but close his eyes until the judge's voice brought him back to reality.

"Mr. Gavin, what do you think about this turn of events?"

Kristoph took a breath and no longer bothered to hide the icy venom that managed to creep into his voice.

"I believe that, as the defense in this case, we are compelled to call Ms. Orly a 'big, fat, liar'."

Apollo couldn't help but notice a small twinge in his wrist. It was the same twinge he felt when he realized he couldn't rely on anyone else. He had hoped, almost prayed, that he was wrong about Kristoph Gavin – that he could be the father he never had, or maybe a teacher who only had eyes for the success of his student. But he knew something. Kristoph had a different agenda on that trial day. As Kristoph continued to pin the crime on Ms. Orly, Apollo couldn't help but feel angry. Anger at the man who once hugged him over his attorney's badge – the man who gave Apollo his first shot at success. Phoenix Wright interrupted the veteran attorney's venomous words with his own words of truth.

"Such a hasty conclusion…it's not like you, Kristoph Gavin."

Kristoph's voice really had become a hiss now, as he whispered his reply.

"What are you saying?"

"Why not consider the other possibility that there was another person in the room at the time of the murder?"

Apollo was nodding to himself. He had a hunch that he knew who that last person was, even before Phoenix restated the possibility.

"Indeed…that's why I decided to bring the case to court. Here, where there is no chance for escape, and no chance for deception…the perfect place to catch the real criminal."

Phoenix kept talking – about hints at the beginning of the trial, how the criminal didn't know the color of the cards. Apollo began to piece things together. The conclusion he came to was not the one he envisioned himself seeing.

Kristoph gave me everything! Without him, I'd be alone with no money to speak of. But…he dined with Phoenix that night. He was at the club. He had made the mistake as to the color of the cards. I knew I couldn't trust him. I think I knew…this whole time. But I just wish…I just wanted it to be different!

Apollo couldn't help but look at his mentor, who was still glaring at the defendant with something remarkably like hatred – only stronger. He was looking at him with utter loathing. Phoenix just smirked and looked at Apollo straight in the eyes.

"Who thought the cards used in the final game were blue?"

Apollo sighed, knowing that he couldn't back down now. Not after all he's proven. He blinked slowly and looked right at Phoenix to show his resolve.

Here. Comes. Justice.

Apollo cleared his throat.

"Kristoph Gavin."

Phoenix cocked his head as Kristoph simply closed his eyes. He paused before looking directly at Apollo.

"As I expected. Your eyes and ears are as sharp as your hair."

"I-I was right?" Apollo asked quietly. But he asked, clearly hoping he'd be wrong. He even tried to rationalize that he was wrong, hoping that some miraculous contradiction would appear as he half-heartedly debated with Phoenix on Kristoph's possible knowledge of the card backs.

Phoenix turned to look at Kristoph.



"Mr. Gavin! I-Is something the matter?"

Kristoph listened to Phoenix, Apollo, and the judge's voices in succession. He was not amused. He knew he was cornered. He swallowed hard before replying.

"Hm? N-no, nothing. Excuse me, it was just so…sudden," Kristoph breathed before turning to Phoenix. "Wright. You aren't seriously accusing me…are you?"

Phoenix wasn't laughing. He took a very careful, hard look at Kristoph and chose his words carefully.

"Oh, Kristoph? You know even I'd never take a joke this far."

Winston Payne, who had become almost irrelevant to the trial, spoke up in his shrill voice blabbering on about motive. Phoenix presented the possibility that Kristoph may have had time to meet with the victim on the night of the murder. Apollo knew what needed to happen.

"Mr. Wright! The defense would like to request that you testify for the court!" Apollo exclaimed confidently.


It wasn't the prosecutor who spoke up. Kristoph Gavin had found his voice, and he was using every ounce of it to keep the trial from sinking faster than the Titanic.

"The defense would like to do no such thing."

Apollo stared at his mentor – a man he once admired more than anyone. But right now, Apollo saw an evil, manipulative demon who wanted desperately to make the world revolve around him.

"Testimonies must relate to the case. How could anything happening before the game of poker be related?" Kristoph growled. The judge shook his head.

"I'm not sure I follow, Mr. Gavin."

"As I explained before, the defense believes that Ms. Orly…" Kristoph started, before the judge cut him off.

"Am I to assume you speak for Mr. Justice in this? He is the defense, not you."

Kristoph choked on his own words. Thoughts of pure dread began to creep into his head.

That…cursed…Phoenix…Wright! Justice! I'm your…please. Don't you dare…just help me.

"Mr. Justice. The matter of Mr. Wright's testimony is up to you. Does the court, in your opinion, need to hear Mr. Wright's testimony?'

Apollo could see the pleading in his mentor's eyes as he reflected on everything he went through to get to this moment. From the moment he was stranded with Kristoph Gavin in that miserable school hallway, his fate was set.

You stood your ground when everyone doubted you. You need that if you want to be a lawyer.

What the evidence shows is the only truth.

You can only trust yourself and your own instincts.

You will not only be a competent attorney, but a brilliant one.

You have the makings of a legend, Apollo.

He couldn't back down. Not after everything he'd resolved to do. He would get to the truth.

"The defense would like to request that Mr. Wright testify for the court!"

"Et tu, Justice? You would betray me, your teacher?" Kristoph whispered. He swallowed before lowering his voice so only Apollo could hear. "I made you. Without me…you'd be nothing!"

Apollo didn't flinch. He didn't falter.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Gavin. This isn't about loyalty. This is about the truth!"

The testimony, however vague, brought about some interesting details, but Kristoph didn't care. He fought. He argued. He tried to discredit Wright in almost every way possible, but there was nothing he could do. Wright got him. He spoke too carelessly about the victim, and Phoenix Wright wasn't one to miss details. Apollo spotted them too, and it seems he had resolved to do anything he could. Soon, the trial headed into recess, and Kristoph took the time to think.

If I'm screwed already, I'll make Phoenix hurt now! I did notice a certain someone watching the trial.

From afar, Kristoph recognized Trucy Wright standing by herself in the defendant's lobby. Phoenix and Apollo had yet to leave the courtroom. Kristoph reached down to into his sock and pulled out a shiny, switchblade pocketknife that the bailiff had failed to notice. The girl was defenseless. Besides, the murder of the defendant's daughter in the middle of his trial would certainly end the proceedings. At this point it was no longer about putting Phoenix behind bars. It was about making Phoenix suffer as much as he possibly could.

He approached the unsuspecting girl, concealing the blade in his hand. He was poised to strike when something made him stop.

Apollo had been there. The girl was talking very quietly, barely moving, and Kristoph hadn't even noticed Apollo behind one of the lobby's plants. Kristoph had no time to think. He had to act.

What are you waiting for? Kill them both! Phoenix and Apollo – they're ruining me! So why am I hesitating?

Kristoph walked away, folding the knife and slipping it into his pocket.

I can't kill Justice. I've killed so many, but why can't I do it? He's just a brat! He's just…the only person who figured me out.

Sure, Phoenix knew what kind of person Kristoph was. But Apollo was different. Apollo had seen so much of Kristoph's life. He understood him more than Klavier even did. He made him laugh for the first time since childhood. No matter what, he couldn't take that kid's life, and if that meant Trucy had to live, so be it.

Besides…Justice may fail…well…I know he won't, but I can pray for a miracle.


Kristoph found himself looking into Apollo's eyes from a completely different perspective – from the witness stand. Apollo looked confident, but he looked clearly pained. Kristoph never intended for Apollo to get hurt this badly. Of course, Kristoph never intended for Apollo to figure out who really killed Shadi Smith.

Kristoph was smooth on the witness stand. He had to be to stand any chance at all. Apollo did not back down. He pressed everything, not pulling any punches during the cross-examination, just as Kristoph had told him in so many previous trials. Kristoph didn't back down, even when Apollo claimed Kristoph had a "reason" for doing what he did. He was determined to remain cool and collected…until Apollo pulled out that piece of evidence.

"My reason is…uh…this!"

Kristoph froze, not even remembering his outburst. The bloody ace!

What is he doing with that card! I burned it! Where on earth did he…unless…it's a fraud!

"In-Inconceivable! How could you…what are you doing with that card?"

Apollo looked utterly confused. Kristoph was twitching very nervously. Phoenix simply claimed he took the card and gave it to his daughter.

He's a fool. He's got a reputation now...he should know better than to try something like that again…

"OBJECTION!" Kristoph bellowed, causing Apollo to jump.

"N…no…impossible! Unacceptable! It's a fraud!"

"A fraud? How can you be so sure?" Phoenix asked, smirking confidently. "I would think that the only person who could claim it as a fraud would be the one who took the real card from the crime scene. The real killer!"

Kristoph stopped dead. Phoenix kept talking, but the rest of the trial was a blur. Apollo worked through all the inconsistencies in the crime scene that didn't make sense – the victim's direction, the cupboard, the window…everything was explained. Even the damned switching of the bottle – Phoenix had it all figured out, and Apollo wasn't far behind. Kristoph could only think of one thing.

Damn it.

Even as Prosecutor Payne of all people ordered for his arrest, Kristoph still hadn't accepted that it was Apollo who put him away. Not the meek, terrified Apollo that entered the courtroom that day, and most certainly not the boy who used to admire him so much. It was the defense attorney who wouldn't back down – the boy who intrigued him so much. As he was being led away in cuffs, his eyes met the young defense attorney's.

The boy's eyes were hard, cold, and clearly sad. But they were resolved to do what was right. Kristoph simply smiled at him as if to say "Well done."

Kristoph heard Apollo's voice in his head as he turned away.

Thank you, SIR!

Kristoph smirked.

Even in my thoughts, you're still too loud, Justice.

This has been a thrill to write. I'm impressed with all the love this story has gotten, and if you want me to explore other possibilities, perhaps in a oneshot, I may do so. Thank you all, and I hope you enjoyed it!