ggosity: (PW!Godot bitter)
[personal profile] ggosity
Title: The Last Drop
Series: Phoenix Wright/Ace Attorney
Characters: Diego Armando/Godot
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Against all odds, Diego recovers from a five-year coma. But as his health improves, the rest of his life falls apart.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


Perhaps it all would never have happened if Julian Dorn, in Room 302 of the Caduceus Trauma Center Neurology Ward, had not complained of a stomachache.

Julian had been admitted to the ward three months ago after being struck by a bus on a busy city crosswalk, and had woken up a month later after a sporadic coma. He suffered from frequent headaches and his memory of his life before the incident was sketchy on the best of days, but he never let himself complain to the nurses even when he felt the worst. Every time a little ache or pain or hint of frustration at his condition would stir angry words in his head, he would glance across the room at his roommate, whose condition put his headaches and amnesia to shame.

His name was Diego Armando and he’d been here, asleep in a dead coma, for five years. Julian had only gotten bits and pieces of the man’s story from the doctors and nurses, but the very sight of him was so haunting he hesitated to ask how the rest of it went. He looked like a ghost, some dead thing, pallid-skinned with pure white hair and once-strong limbs that appeared to have gotten very thin very quickly. It gave Julian the chills every time the doctors or nurses would lift him upright to move him, check his tubes or take a futile blood sample. He looked like a corpse—a mannequin that they tried fruitlessly to bring back to life.

Nobody ever visited him. Nobody expected him to wake up. He would just lay there, day after day, deep in some eternal dream, the shallow rise and fall of his chest and the heart monitor’s incessant beeping the only sign that he was once a living being and not some frightening life-size doll that someone had left behind.

On the morning of November 9, 2017, Julian was suffering from an incredibly severe stomachache. There was no real medical reason why he should have had one, and it was in all honesty probably just an after-effect of the hospital food, but he was in such agony he couldn’t hold out any longer and finally paged a doctor.

Dr. Phillip Goudy was not a morning person and had only just arrived for his shift. His eyes were still heavy with sleepless exhaustion and he carried an extra large mug of coffee with him as he entered room 302. He paused a moment before acknowledging Julian and stepped over to the bedside where Diego slept, setting down his coffee on the bedside tray to have a look at his chart. Nothing had changed. Nothing ever changed with him.

“Mr. Dorn, what can I do for you?” he asked.

“Doc. I know you tell us not to self-diagnose,” Julian whispered, clutching one hand to his stomach, “but I think I’m gonna die.”

“Why’s that?”

“My guess—I have an alien baby about to eat through my digestive tract and burst out of my stomach.”

“I certainly hope not.” Dr. Goudy shook his head grimly. “Let’s have a look at you then.” In a fateful moment, he left his coffee on the tray and headed across to check on Julian.

--------------------------------------------------

Deep in the darkness of some comatose dream, something stirred.

His body could not sense much in a vegetative state like his—-the tests proved that much. His eyes didn’t react to light shined in them, no noise picked up any brain activity and no physical stimulus stirred so much as a twitch. But that morning, something sparked deep inside the isolated world where he had existed for half a decade. There was something in the air. He’d breathed it in… something new, but something familiar. It was something that stood out plainly in the sterile, medicated hospital air.

Bitter, spoke an inner voice that had been silent for so long. After one word they all came easily. Bitter and dark and rich—intoxicating, bold and seductive, mildly acidic, full-bodied, pure black magic. French roast. Slightly burned.

The darkness suddenly seemed to fall to pieces around him, melting away as things began to… come back. He focused on the scent and inhaled it, deep as though he could taste it. He could feel warmth—warmth in his body from scratchy sheets and a well-worn hospital gown. His fingers twitched—and then he could feel an ache that spread through every bone in his body, a stiffness like he hadn’t moved for a long, long time. There were tubes sticking painfully all down his arms, one slipped under the blankets and poking into his side, one he didn’t notice until he shifted slightly and—oh yeah, that was a catheter. His mouth opened slightly and he inhaled again—burning like fire swept through his parched throat, so dry and worn from disuse that the only sound he could make was a groan.

It was a groan that nearly made Dr. Goudy punch Julian in the face out of surprise. The doctor sat up and stared from across the room. It was not… should not… would not be what he thought it was—but when he took a step closer and Diego opened his eyes, his most wild suspicions were confirmed.

“Mr. Armando!” Dr. Goudy almost shouted. “Mr. Dorn, press a call button for me—immediately! Tell the nurse to bring water!”

Yes, Diego was absolutely awake now, and in something of a panic. He was gasping for breath almost like he was hyperventilating, his clouded eyes blinking rapidly. The whole world was black and white—gray, even, dark shapes of shadow and light that he couldn’t recognize or make out. He clumsily waved his hand in front of his face and nothing happened. He checked to make sure his eyes were open. They were.

He screamed. His throat was dry as bone and he tasted blood. His entire body ached stiffly no matter how he moved, and he was stuck there, bound to the bed by the tubes and wires invading all over him.

“Mr. Armando,” Dr. Goudy said. “Are you all right? Can you hear me?”

His hands grasped out blindly at the metal bars on the side of his bed. “Wh…” he choked out in a hoarse, gravelly voice. “Wh-where am I? I can’t—”

“Calm down, Mr. Armando.” Dr. Goudy placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Calm down. My name is Dr. Phillip Goudy—you’re in the neurology ward of Caduceus Trauma Center.”

“I can’t see,” Diego croaked. “I can’t—I can’t see…”

“Take a deep breath, Mr. Armando. We’ll fill you in on things as soon as we can—your throat must be killing you. Let’s get you some water…”

“Coffee,” Diego snapped.

“No, no, I think water will…”

Coffee, damn you!

Goudy blustered. “Okay, okay!”

Diego shakily held out his hand and waited for the mug to be pushed into his palm, the doctor helping him close his fingers around it. He instantly raised the mug to his lips and downed the entire thing in one great gulp. Finished up, he sighed and slammed it down on what he thought was a tray table, but it slid off the edge and shattered into a thousand pieces on the floor. The noise didn’t faze him—-he was refreshed.

“What’s going on?” Diego demanded. “What happened?”

“You were poisoned, Mr. Armando,” Dr. Goudy stammered, and there was the sound of a pen scratching frantically on a chart. “You ingested a lethal amount of a special type of poison. You very nearly died—it’s frankly a miracle you’re still alive.”

“That’s right…” Diego murmured to himself. “That’s right. Dahlia Hawthorne… that red-headed little hellion. In my coffee.”

“Yes,” Dr. Goudy replied.

“Did they catch her?”

“Yes. It was a fairly high-profile case… Ms. Hawthorne’s conviction, that is.”

“Conviction?” Diego paused for a moment, finally beginning to settle down. “Th-that fast? What time is it? I’m due to watch Kitten in court…”

Dr. Goudy pressed the call button nearby Diego’s bed another few times. “It’s 9:32 in the morning, Mr. Armando.”

“It is?” His stomach sank sharply. Mia… oh, she’d been counting on him to be there for her second trial. She’d been so nervous about it she was a quivering wreck—over and over he’d had to assure her, it would all be fine, she’d do great, he’d be right there watching her and cheering her on. The thought of his poor kitten all alone in the lion’s den of the courtroom made his heart surge faster. “Agh, I missed the first day! Kitten’s gonna be so pissed… she’s all right, isn’t she? Has she—does she know I’m alive?”

Dr. Goudy didn’t answer that immediately. He stayed silent long enough for a nurse to appear. “Oh!” she gasped. “Mr. Armando is—”

“That’s right,” Dr. Goudy told her. “Please bring him some water.”

“Coffee,” Diego corrected instantly.

“Ah, given your condition, Mr. Armando, I don’t think caffeine is a good idea—”

“Coffee,” he insisted. “Don’t deny a sick man his solace!”

The nurse waited for confirmation, until at last Dr. Goudy sighed. “One coffee coming right up,” she said cheerfully.

“Make it a pot, sweetheart,” Diego corrected. “Black.”

Once the nurse had disappeared, Dr. Goudy pulled up a chair alongside Diego’s bed, having utterly forgotten about Julian Dorn and his severe stomach pain for the moment (despite his moans from across the room). “Now then… I need to brief you about your condition.”

“Is it serious?” Diego interrupted him. “Will I be out by this afternoon?”

Dr. Goudy sighed. This wasn’t going to be easy… but he’d have to tackle it a little at a time. “No,” he said shortly. “Absolutely not by this afternoon.”

“Tomorrow?” Diego guessed.

“No,” Dr. Goudy shook his head. “Mr. Armando, I’m sorry to say that you suffered severe nerve damage as an effect of the poison. We’ve been unsure of the extent of it because you have spent… quite a long time in a very deep coma.”

Diego fell silent. “How long?” he asked after a few moments. “What’s today?”

“Today is…” Dr. Goudy hesitated. “It’s November 9th—” he paused when Diego choked in surprise. “2017. You’ve been asleep for the past five years.”

Diego didn’t respond for so long Dr. Goudy thought he might not have heard him. “You’ve been in a coma for five--”

“Five years,” Diego repeated under his breath. “Five…”

“As far as your condition goes,” Dr. Goudy went on, “I’m… sorry to say we cannot say for certain yet. We know your body is very weak and due to nerve damage in the anterior portion of your brain and your optic nerves, you are blind.”

When Diego still didn’t reply, the doctor figured he was good to continue.

“As far as other aspects of your condition, brain and nerve scans have predicted there could be a range of side effects including dizziness, severe headaches, epilepsy, fainting and tremors… We have medication for them, luckily, so we are hoping that they will be minimally detrimental to you,” the doctor said.

“We… we understand this must be very difficult for you, Mr. Armando, but we will do whatever we can to help you pick up where you left off. Now, ah… we didn’t have a name listed for your medical contact. Is there anyone we can call to tell them you’re awake—next of kin? Any family? Friends?”

He seemed to snap instantly out of whatever foul, dark place he had gone. “Mia Fey,” he said. “My girlfriend, Mia Fey.”

Dr. Goudy nodded. “We’ll go find her as soon as possible.”

“She works at the Grossberg Law Offices,” Diego told him, pausing to rub at his still painfully irritated throat. Then he expertly recited the phone number, easily as though it were still fresh in the forefront of his mind. Their apartment number came quite easily too. “She has to know I’m alive…”

“Slow down, Mr. Armando,” Dr. Goudy insisted. “Try not to speak unless necessary—all you’ll do is irritate your throat. We have some tests we need to run on you to assess the extent of your condition… I understand it’s difficult, but your patience is very much appreciated.”

“Test me all you like, but call her. I want to see her.” The cruel irony of the statement didn’t hit him until a few seconds later.

“I want to hear her voice,” he corrected. “Please. Now.”
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