Adrian closed her eyes.
It was a common technique of hers, practiced and honed over the months since her world had been effectively shattered by the loss of Celeste; to close her eyes and forcibly steady her breathing, hands laid facing forward in her lap until the rush of panic and emotions that occasionally bubbled unpredictably to the surface subsided. She did not always have the luxury to partake when the attacks came while she was serving as Matt's manager, but she had all the time in the world now, with no one's eyes watching her as she struggled to piece herself together.
It had been three weeks since her prison sentence; two weeks since she had last seen Phoenix Wright or Miles Edgeworth, and a month since Matt Engarde had been sentenced to death row for conspiring to murder Juan Corrida. From what she had heard, Matt was attempting to work towards lightening his sentence in exchange for information regarding Shelly de Killer.
She had been mildly taken aback to find she didn't care very much. No matter what happened from this point, executed or not, Matt's life was over, and the threat of de Killer hanging over his head ensured that Matt wasn't likely to forget that, either.
Matt's conviction had created an uproar in the entertainment industry, of course, and Adrian found herself flooded with dozens of requests for interviews and media coverage--the world wanted the entire gritty story of Celeste Inpax and how she'd met her end at the machinations of two selfish men, told firsthand.
She would have none of it. Speaking out for the sake of convicting a killer was one thing; speaking out for some slimy magazine to cash in on the gossip of the week and sensationalize Celeste's suffering further was another matter entirely. She surprised herself in her easy reprisal of the frigid, sharp-tongued manager--it had come with such difficulty and concentrated effort in all of her recollections.
Otherwise, she found that hardly anyone bothered her. Out of loyalty to Celeste's memory, she had successfully isolated herself from the rest of the world since her death. She had no friends to speak of.
The cell itself was small and a functional living space, at best. It was quiet, and there was little to do asides from stare at the gray walls and reflect on one's mistakes.
That suited her perfectly. She doubted she would have been able to bear being asked to deal once more with the grind of everyday life in the wake of what had happened. Not yet.
Beneath her eyelids, counting quietly between breaths, she replayed the events of the night in the aftermath of Juan's death. It was one of many visions she was still trying to sort out and make sense of and what they meant in relation to herself and the things she had done. This one was clear, vivid; it had been long enough so that she was now capable of thinking about it fairly rationally and not so long ago that she had trouble remembering the details.
She hadn't slept that night, caught up in conscious nightmares and scrubbing her hands once, twice, a dozen times to make sure no trace of Juan's blood remained on her skin. She'd combed her hair obsessively, cleaned her glasses, ironed her clothes and vacuumed twice--it had taken all of this before she had been reasonably confident in her ability to step out of her room without breaking down, and more importantly, to continue holding her head high as Adrian Andrews, manager to star actor Matthew Engarde.
The police investigation the next morning had gone better than she could have dreamed. She'd forgotten in a moment in panic whether she had thought to use a dish rag to carry the button over to Matt as he slept--had she left fingerprints? A slip of hair gone unnoticed, caught on the handle of the knife?--but they seemed to find nothing amiss about the abundance of evidence against their prime suspect, and Adrian had been profoundly grateful for the show of police incompetence.
Against those men and the bumbling detective coordinating their search, Adrian felt the warm glow of confidence begin to fill her from the inside. It didn't come to her as often as she liked and it seemed funny, in a way, that it would come under the present circumstances, but it was easy enough to answer the simple questions presented to her. Like clockwork. She would make it through this, so long as she managed to keep holding down the dizzying nausea repressed sharply in a far corner of her mind.
That had all stopped, however, when she had stepped through the doors, voice sharp and commanding, and immediately taking reins of the investigation.
She had been different. She'd carried herself like an empress, and the officers and detectives present at the scene followed her every word and movement appropriately. She wasted no gestures; there was a tangible sense of power in the way she walked, the way she spoke, the way she thought-- the way her fingers braced easily over the handle of the whip at her side. Adrian had not been able to stop herself from staring.
She was not Celeste, but she held strength that had been lost to Adrian ever since she had lost Celeste.
She had introduced herself as Franziska von Karma; her words were laced with a faint accent Adrian could not quite put her finger on. I am the prosecuting attorney in charge of this case.
The prosecuting attorney-- the one who would deliver justice to Matt and prove his guilt before the eyes of millions. In her quiet hysteria, leaving her hands twisting and stomach retching the night previous, she hadn't even considered it.
As the one who discovered the body, Franziska von Karma went on, there are some things I would like to ask you personally, as you will likely be called to testify in trial tomorrow.
It had come in a rush, and Adrian was at a loss to recall how she had started, if she had even bothered to initiate conversation that led up to it; but suddenly everything was spilt out in front of this woman-- her crimes, her tampering, the way Juan's body hadn't quite been cold when she'd stabbed the knife into him and the sensation of blood running down her hands, still warm but not warm enough to sustain life…
Franziska von Karma had cut her off, raising one gloved hand. Her expression was unreadable. She was silent, and Adrian found herself begging, internally: say something. Anything, anything is better than this silence, in which you look upon me and judge. She wound up breaking it herself, desperate and pathetic.
You must think--you must think I'm an awful person.
I don't care what kind of person you are, Franziska said. The answer came so easily, so indifferently. It's nothing to do with me. But I will tell you this: tomorrow, Matt Engarde will be found guilty by my hand.
He is guilty! Adrian had nearly shouted it, entrusting the force of her vehemence, kept secret for so long, to this prosecutor. I know that he killed him--that's the sort of man that Matt is! I only wanted to make sure he was found so, that the truth would come out!
Franziska had looked at her shrewdly, and it was with a shrug that she answered: Does it look like I care? I'd rather we focused on what actually matters here.
Adrian had been stunned into silence.
Of course, she had continued, smirking easily, I can help you. Our goals do coincide, after all.
It wasn't until then that Adrian realized that this was what she had been desperate to hear all along. The offer was an echo of something she had lost long ago, and she struggled not to collapse in gratitude for it. It took a moment for her to realize Franziska had changed the topic; discussing what to expect at the courthouse tomorrow and what would be required of her for both of them to achieve what it was they wanted. The certainty with which she spoke left Adrian doing little but nodding and agreeing to most everything she said.
Cooperate with whatever questions I ask you. Give the defense as little information as possible in response to his questions.
I will instruct you on the wording of your testimony later this evening. Be certain you speak only of what is relevant to the trial.
And no matter what, do not--I repeat--do not testify about your actions after you had discovered the body. Is that understood?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Their conversation had been interrupted by another intrusion by Phoenix Wright and the little girl he insisted on dragging along, but it was fine. The world had finally stopped spinning wildly around her. She watched Franziska's back as she strode away, head held high, and realized everything was going to be all right, after all.
She had heard the story from Miles Edgeworth; but it was she who had brought up the topic in the midst of the conversation about her upcoming trial, shy and hands wringing, out of sight, in her lap. His head had tilted slightly; in a moment of panic Adrian was convinced he was frowning disapprovingly. But it passed and his expression had regained its familiar cool neutrality.
"Franziska has returned to Germany." He paused, and it was plain he was weighing how much was appropriate to tell her. "I suppose you could say she has much to think about."
She gave up trying to convince herself she wasn't disappointed after the first awkward minute of silence.
"However," he said, "She did ask me to pass this onto you." Adrian frowned, but couldn't make out Edgeworth's expression or any other indication of what to expect; he was already sliding the object under the pane of glass. It was a plain scrap of paper; the whole of it fit in the palm of one hand.
"I believe," Edgeworth said, his tone flattening, "she felt responsible for you, in some capacity."
"Responsible?" she repeated, turning the scrap over in her hands.
"Yes. Her foolhardy decision to convince you not to testify about your actions. I spoke to her about it before she left." He paused. "I believe she regrets trying to use you in such a way, now. Or at least she's begun on her path to realizing such a thing is to be regretted."
So that was it. The note had been written out of some sense of guilt-- the human need to right a perceived wrong, at the urgings and counsel of another person. It had little to do with Adrian herself; the woman named Adrian Andrews simply happened to be the person Franziska von Karma had seen an opportunity in.
Does that matter to me?
Her eyes moved downward, processing what was actually written for the first time. At the top of the paper was a phone number, and beneath it a single sentence.
Contact me if there is any trouble.
Adrian waited until Miles Edgeworth had left to cradle the paper against her chest with both hands; a small girl bodily protecting her newest treasure.
No. It didn't matter.
The letters were in clear, precise handwriting, each line a confident black strike against the white paper. It was the writing of someone with strength Adrian had learned to accept she would never be able to match. And through the time spent serving her sentence, she hadn't used the number--there hadn't been reason to. But beyond that, it was important-- it was important, somehow, in a way she could not quite put to words-- that she waited until the time was right, when she wasn't peering at the world outside through steel bars. When they could reach one another without limitations.
She stepped out of the detention center, the sky grey above her and the pavement solid beneath her feet. The world stretched itself out in front of her, and for a moment she almost felt delirious with it--her shoulders free from the weight Matt and Juan and even Celeste had left her with in the wake of their interconnected tragedies.
It was in that way that the dreary afternoon was glorious in ways she felt herself at a loss to describe. It was with slightly shaking hands that Adrian outstretched an umbrella over her head--rain would be starting soon, no doubt--and as she slid her free hand into her coat pocket she felt the weight of her returned cell phone laying inside.
She had been in mid-step, and stopped. The feeling of rapture had yet to leave her, and she found, suddenly, that she couldn't experience this alone for another minute, another second--there was someone she wanted to share this with, even if they weren't here, even if they couldn't understand themselves.
The keys of the phone glowed faint blue under her gaze; she hesitated. A part of her was still uncertain. There would probably be derisiveness on the other end. She would be a bother. She would be a burden.
After all, she wasn't in trouble. Not really.
Still, her fingers hovered over the numbers on the cell phone; the memo, perfectly preserved over weeks of isolation, was finally crushed in her other hand. She had been waiting for this. Maybe it had been all that she had been waiting for, all this time. This would be her first act of decisiveness; the starting signal for her new life. And she wanted her to know.
Adrian held her breath, and dialed.