Follow the Fool
It had been a week since the phone call. That unexpected phone call that threw a wrench into the gears of Franziska von Karma's carefully arranged life from a woman she'd never expected to want to talk to her again. A phone call that had interrupted her furious concentration in building yet another ironclad case, thrown her off her game, and made her look like a puerile fool in the eyes of the policemen who worked under her.
Come to think of it, it should have made her mad. But it didn't.
For what seemed like an eternity, there had been no sound on the other end of the phone, and Franziska had briefly wondered if the other woman had hung up. Then she spoke. Her voice was the same as the young prosecutor remembered, soft and subdued, though there was something different in her tone. Back in the investigation, every word Adrian Andrews had said had been laced with a sort of melancholy unease, a pervasive malaise that even she couldn't quite hide. Of course, it made sense given that when the two met, she'd just finished tampering with evidence; desecrating the body of a man she pretended to love in order to frame her own professional client.
Still, though it hadn't mattered to her at all at the time, Franziska was perceptive enough to hear something more in her voice—particularly with the reports she'd read not half an hour before about Adrian's suicide attempt. The shadow of Celeste Inpax weighed heavily upon the woman's heart, even years after the fact.
Franziska wasn't quite sure what exactly she expected Adrian to sound like after four months in prison, but she did know she didn't expect the other woman to sound almost … happy. Adrian's voice was still as soft as she remembered, but there was a tone in her words that sounded light, lifted—unburdened. It took the prodigy by shock, loath as she was to admit it.
"I… didn't think you'd answer the phone."
Trying to find her voice, Franziska at last responded, hoping that nobody would catch her brief stutter. "I-isn't this the phone number I left with Miles to give to you? Why would I not answer the phone I told you to call me at if there was trouble? I keep my word." Except when I told you that you'd be fine if you did what I told you. The blue-haired girl paused. "…is there trouble?"
"No! Not at all! N-nothing like that!" the older woman exclaimed, "And I knew that you would pick up, but I… nevermind, it's silly. I just… I wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me."
Everything I've done for you? Land you in jail for perjury and obstruction of justice, and almost get you put squarely on Death Row? What's there to thank me for? "And I…" wanted to apologize to you. "I… think that maybe it would be best for us to talk in person, though."
"O-oh! Yes, maybe… maybe that would be best. Where are you? I thought Mr. Edgeworth said that you'd returned to Germany."
"Actually, I have. I'm practicing law in Hamburg." There was a long pause from the other side of the phone.
"Then… how could we…?"
She'd never say yes, to fly almost halfway across the world to see the girl who was responsible for such hardship. Still, even asking might help correct that mistake. "As a prosecutor, I am paid quite sufficiently. It would be no trouble to book a flight from Los Angeles to Germany, after all." Actually, it probably would be trouble to do so, though Franziska was confident that the travel agency would be persuaded by the crack of her whip, if necessary. "That is, if you would be interested."
Franziska heard a soft, long sigh from the other end of the phone. "Maybe… I'd… I think I'd like that. Maybe getting away from here is just what I need… if only for a little while. I… I don't really have any place to stay here for a while, anyway. But I can't ask you to do that! That's too much!"
No, it wouldn't be enough. Though she wasn't completely expecting Adrian's answer, it wasn't really a surprise. Perhaps she'd known the answer somehow, in some part of her that she couldn't really access… it would be a lot of money, and regardless of how well putting the scum of the earth behind bars paid, it was not an expense easily afforded for a girl who had not yet turned 19.
Still, it was something she could do to a person she'd wronged. Perhaps Adrian was right… perhaps it would do her good to get out of that city of smog, dirt, and filth—specifically, the human sort of filth. She could come to Hamburg and enjoy herself, relax for a few days…
So six days and two criminal trials later, Franziska von Karma found herself at the International Airport of Hamburg to pick a blonde American up from an eight-hour plane flight. A throng of porters and other lazy, unambitous people were blocking the doorway leading from the lot where she'd parked her small compact car… loitering and chattering like a flock of the foolish fools that they were.
Her whip bit the air, and the loiterers jumped nearly in perfect unison, spreading out away from the center door. "Thank you," said the young prodigy as she calmly walked through the now-unblocked entrance, coiling her whip in one smooth motion as she did so.
A quick glance at the Arrivals/Departures board told her that the flight from LAX had just finished deplaning—her timing was impeccable, as it always was. Franziska briefly mulled over the foolishness of the word "deplaning" before dismissing it as irrelevant and heading to the baggage carousel where she and the American woman had agreed to meet. Unfortunately, both Franziska and Adrian were rather on the shortish side, and the flight from America had apparently been a crowded one.
Franziska's black-gloved hand wandered to the handle of her lash, but she repressed the urge. She did not need to resort to such foolish and juvenile measures simply to find another person in a crowd, after all. However, after about five minutes had passed of weaving in and out of the crowded mob, she was severely reconsidering her earlier decision.
She was just about to unleash the fury of her leather upon the crowd when she heard a familiar voice, tinged with frustration and a bit of desperation. "I'm sorry, I'm telling you, I can't speak German!" Making her way towards the origin of the sound, Franziska found a rather anxious-looking Adrian Andrews being cornered by a short, hairy taxi-cab driver who was trying to convince her to hire him as a driver. As he was communicating solely in German and didn't seem to understand English, it wasn't exactly going very well.
The young lawyer smirked, her hand darting to her side.
With a yelp, the squat little cabbie jumped, clutching his bottom where her whip had stung him. He turned and angrily demanded an explanation, but Franziska merely held the lash above her head, pulling it taut in preparation for another strike. "Leave her alone and go scrounge somewhere else for your little pocket change, fool." Though he didn't look convinced by her words, he was more than sold by the threat of her whip, and quickly scurried off. The crowd, which had turned to see the source of the loud snap, stared in silence for another fraction of a sentence before turning back to their tasks at hand, unfazed. Travel did strange things to people.
Adrian was wearing a thin black sweater, slightly transparent, through which Franziska could make out a sky-blue halter top of the same style that she'd worn during the investigation of Juan Corrida's murder four months ago—the first time the two of them had met. Her golden hair seemed shorter, though it was impossible to tell because it was pinned up in the back. All in all, she didn't appear to have changed much in those four months.
The slightly shorter woman looked at her "rescuer," and seeing Franziska, smiled softly but warmly. That was new, thought the young lawyer—she'd heard from Miles that Adrian had changed in that regard, but hadn't actually seen her since the final moments of Engarde's trial. It wasn't a confident smirk, nor was it a wide, beaming grin… it was small and subdued, but there and very real, carrying up into her bespectacled dark brown eyes.
Franziska wasn't used to people… smiling at her. Cocky grins of the defendant before she and her whip dashed their hopes, yes. Arrogant smirks of other lawyers at her youthful appearance and age, of course. But never a warm, genuine smile that she could remember. It almost made her feel uncomfortable.
"Hello, Ms. Andrews. I trust your flight went well? If you will follow me with your bag, I'll show you to my car." She turned almost a bit too quickly, trying to catch her composure. It was almost maddening… the whip-wielding prosecutor daughter of the famous and nigh-invulnerable Manfred von Karma, shaken by a simple smile? Shameful and foolish, of course.
She could hear the click-clack of Adrian's shoes on the tiles of the airport as the blonde woman followed her, and slowed her stride a bit to make it easier. Franziska motioned with a gloved hand to a nearby compact car nestled perfectly into a ground-level parking space. "That is my car, if you would like to put your suitcase into the trunk." In a smooth motion, the blue-haired prodigy procured her keys and popped the trunk with a simple button press, unlocking the rest of the car virtually simultaneously.
Franziska opened the door and slipped into the driver's seat, taking a calming deep breath of cool air as Adrian went to safely stow her traveling bag. This is ludicrous. You are Franziska von Karma, not some pedantic teenage airhead! It was a smile, just contractions in the muscles of the face. Simple and logical. …why would she smile at me? I should be apologizing to her. It was my fault. That was the foolish smile of a foolishly foolish woman who foolishly listened and foolishly trusted everything… I foolishly told her to do.
When Adrian sat down in the seat to her left, Franziska turned and repeated the statement, her perfect composure returned. "I trust your flight went well, yes?"
"All but that little bit at the end that you saw, yes." Adrian Andrews took off her glasses with one hand, rubbing at her eyes and the bridge of her nose with her other before replacing them and sighing heavily. "It was long, though. What time is it here?"
The lawyer prodigy tapped a button on her steering wheel column as she backed the compact car out of its spot, illuminating the dashboard chronometer that displayed, in bright blue letters, '23:18.' Her companion nodded, musing for a brief second, before speaking, "So… that means it's just after two in the afternoon in Los Angeles." She laughed softly to herself. "I guess that means I won't be sleeping easily tonight." Turning to the right, Adrian asked of Franziska, "And your week? How was it? I'm… impressed that you managed this on such short notice."
Franziska spoke slowly but not haltingly, her tone even and measured. "It was typical. Since we last spoke, I've investigated and prosecuted two cases, both murders. Both defendants were found guilty within a day of trial. There is a third case I am prosecuting tomorrow," she paused briefly, "so I too will not be sleeping until very late tonight while I finish building my case."
Adrian was silent for a minute before speaking again, this time in a slightly awed tone of voice. "You're incredible, Franziska. I… I didn't know that you had a case to prepare for tomorrow. You didn't have to come out here to pick me up like that, then."
"Hm. It was nothing, don't worry about it… I'd rather not entrust you to dogs like that cabbie. Competency is rare these days."
"No… it was something." In the flickering glow of the passing road lights, out of the corner of her eye, Franziska saw Adrian smiling at her again. "Thank you."
Minutes passed with the only sounds the hum of the hybrid electric engine and the gentle whir of the wheels beneath them, neither of the two women speaking. At last, Franziska broke the thundering silence with a question. "So, have you any plans for what you'll do here?"
The other woman sounded slightly surprised. "I, uh, guess I assumed you could show me around."
"…I have a court case tomorrow, Ms. Andrews. I'm afraid that's quite impossible, especially if it lasts more than a day—which it won't. I'll be much too busy… however, I suppose I could ask one of the junior officers to show you around Hamburg, you might find something to your liking."
Adrian shifted around in the passenger's seat a few moments before responding, a bit hesitantly, "I… was thinking that maybe I could come watch the trial. See how things are done here in Germany…"
Raising a turquoise eyebrow, Franziska turned slightly to look at her companion, who was staring away from her out the window at the cars they were passing. "It's not much different from the way they're run in the States. And… you can't speak German."
"I know. Still…" Adrian trailed off, and Franziska decided not to press the point any harder.
After another minute or so of silence, the young prosecutor gestured out the window to a nearby building, large and squat with a large sign on top indicating it was a hotel, and not an inexpensive one. "That's the Hamburg Day's End Inn. I've reserved you a room there. I've never stayed there myself but I'm told it's very nice."
It might have been her imagination, but Adrian sounded a bit disappointed. "Oh… a hotel. You didn't have to do that, Franziska."
I did. I said I would take responsibility for what happened to you… and I will. A von Karma should be true to her word.
"You sound disappointed. What's wrong?" The moment the words escaped her lips, Franziska, for once, regretted their sharpness and directness, but the blonde girl didn't seem to mind at all, staying silent for a little while before responding.
Taking her glasses off to rub at her eyes again, Adrian sighed heavily. "I guess… well, the last time I stayed in a hotel, I was almost convicted of a murder I didn't commit." She chuckled in a faint attempt to make it sound more like a joke, and didn't entirely succeed. "Plus, I… don't know how comfortable I'd feel all by myself in such a large room. I think I'd feel wasteful or… something."
I inadvertently reminded her of one of the worst times in her life—that I am responsible for. Perfect indeed, Franziska.
"I… understand," said the daughter of Manfred von Karma, nodding her head slightly. "Tomorrow after the trial, I will look for more proper housing for you while you stay here. However, I think that the hotel should be enough for tonight. It is… close to my office, and as I said, I will not be going home tonight. Will that be all right?"
"I think so, yes," replied Adrian, staring out the window. "I think… that would work. Franziska… thank you."
It was now Franziska's turn to shift in slight discomfort, hoping that Adrian didn't notice.
Within several minutes, the two of them had arrived in the parking lot of the lavish hotel, and thanks to the expediting powers of Franziska's whip, convinced the hotel staff to check them in rather quickly. At last, Franziska stood outside her suite room, looking inside one last time to ensure everything was proper and as perfect as it could possibly be. "So… will you need anything else?"
Say something. You should apologize to her… for everything.
Now is not the time.
When will be the time?
…it isn't now. That's all I know.
Adrian shook her head, "No, I think this should be fine… I should be okay. You're that tall building across the way, right?"
Franziska nodded. "Yes, the eighth floor. If you are in fact serious about attending the trial tomorrow, it begins at ten-thirty in the morning. Tell the security guards that you're there as my personal guest. They will let you in without trouble. If there's anything… you still have that number, right?"
Slipping a very well-creased piece of paper from her pocket, Adrian held it softly against her chest with one hand, smiling at her host, but said nothing.
"Good. Well then… good night, Ms. Andrews."
"You… can call me Adrian, if you'd like."
The 'perfect' daughter of the 'perfect' prosecutor stood in silence for a moment. "Very well. Good night, Adrian."
With that, she closed the door behind her and left Adrian to her own thoughts and memories.
Taking off her sweater, the former manager lay down on the comfortable hotel bed, which was quite a welcome change from four months of rock-hard prison mattresses. Still, she'd grown accustomed to them, and the extravagant softness of this bed made it actually harder to fall asleep—the nine-hour time difference certainly a factor as well.
And so, it was about four in the morning when Adrian Andrews finally decided to take a break from trying to get to sleep and went to the large mural glass window that illuminated the room with the lights of downtown Hamburg in the middle of the night. Across the nearby highway was a tall building that she now knew to be the Department of Public Prosecutors… all the lights were off, making the building look dead and barren.
There was one sole office with the lights on, about halfway up the tower on the eighth floor. Adrian's eyesight wasn't all that great even with her glasses on, but she swore she could make out a tiny figure with pale turquoise hair in the window… but perhaps that was merely her imagination.
Adrian sighed again, a smile on her face. "Franziska… you're really incredible, you know?"
It was time to try to get to sleep again…