Franziska stood with her back to the bed, gloved fingers digging restlessly into the sleeve of her left arm. This was utter foolishness, the task itself should have been simple, done without even a moment of hassle. Cold blue eyes glared into shadows on the wall, as if they were responsible for her paralysis. She was a Von Karma, she shouldn't be having this problem.
And yet the weight of another's gaze left the young woman frozen to the spot. It built up a pressure inside her chest that came rather close to pain, the tension coiling within her every nerve until she was all too aware of the tremors shuddering through her own body. She wanted the whip that lay at the top of her dresser, to grip onto the handle and lash out at the only other person in the room. That wasn't an option, however.
Adrian hadn't done anything to deserve such treatment. Even if she did, she'd make a special trip down to the office and whip Scruffy before she turned it on her.
The young prosecutor clenched her teeth, the air in her lungs released in a slow, controlled sigh.
"You know, we still don't have to, if you're not comfortable." the blond said. Franziska could hear her shifting against the covers where she'd sat her down. "This could always wait..."
"It's been four months, Adrian Andrews. How much longer are we to drag this out?"
"However long you need."
Franziska shook her head. That wasn't how life worked. The world didn't wait for anyone, things came when they came, and it was one's own fault if they were caught off guard. As a prosecutor, she'd been taught to be ready for anything. To think that she struggled with just one simple task was ridiculous in every sense of the word. "You're too lenient."
"You're too hard on yourself." Adrian countered.
"Perfection doesn't come without effort."
"You don't have to be perfect, Fran."
"Don't be foolish, Adrian Andrews."
The urge to grab for her whip was growing, and she took a step away from the dresser. She pulled apart the clasps at the front of her suit, then tugged apart the bow tied around her throat.
They'd been over this before, to an exhausting degree. As close as they'd gotten, this was the one topic they just couldn't agree on. Franziska didn't fault her, not really. She didn't grow up with the Von Karma name to live up to, lingering in the background of every activity.
Under the suit jacket she wore a simple, thin shirt. The short sleeves left her arms bare from shoulder to wrist, the limbs tingling as cool air washed over them. Keeping her back to Adrian, she folded the jacket, and put it carefully in the hamper for later recovery.
For a moment, she didn't move. Not until Adrian murmured her name. "Fran..."
"Don't tell me this can wait. I'm not waiting any longer."
Franziska turned to face her, leaving no room for further argument. Ignoring the queasy feeling in her stomach, she stepped forward, closing the distance between the two of them. Adrian remained seated, a slight flush on her cheeks as her gaze shifted to one side.
She reached out to take the other's hand, cradling it between her own. Dark gloves brushed over soft skin, her movements gentle.
It took a few seconds, though the prosecutor was far more patient with Adrian than she was with herself. She just stood there, toying with the knuckles in her fingers until the other was brave enough to look. The nerves in her arm pricked, and she forced herself not to pull away. Her grip on the woman's hand tightened, the tremor noticeable due to the contact.
The scar was circular, with a gash resting over it that was several inches long, the remains of the surgery she'd undergone to get the bullet taken out. It was small, but also very noticeable.
She watched Adrian as she took it in, dark brown eyes trailing over the old wound. The blond reached up with her free hand, brushing over the tissue so lightly Franziska barely felt it. A shudder went through her, gloved fingers clinching hard, only to get a soft squeeze in response.
"It's okay." Adrian breathed the words, slowly circling the scar. Her gaze shifted back to Franziska's, and despite herself, she flinched away from the contact. "Fran?"
Franziska swallowed hard, eyes burning, and let out a shaky breath. Even if she was just saying it because she knew it was what she wanted to hear, the very fact that she hadn't left the room yet spoke volumes.
"Come here." Adrian pulled her hand free and wrapped both arms around the other's waist, leaning back until Franziska lay on top of her on the bed. She curled into her, hugging her back as Adrian ran her fingers through her hair. "Hey...I love you."
"I love you, too..."
It was a full hour before either of them made another move.