Version 1.1 (1/12/09)

THE PARKING TICKET

Part V

I look like a bellboy, Edgeworth thought as he looked himself over in the mirror one last time.

Franziska stifled a laugh as he emerged from his old room.

"Shall we go, Prince Miles?" she said condescendingly, gesturing towards the door.

"Yes," he replied.

The sooner I get this over with, the sooner I can get back to work...and into some normal clothes, he thought, fiddling with one of the hundreds of shiny gold buttons on his suit.

*

As Edgeworth's Audi inched its way through the stressful, blaring, smoggy mass of automobiles that was L.A.'s morning rush hour, his customary Mozart-Bach-Beethoven mixture seemed strangely out-of-place, along with Franziska's calm expression. Perhaps she's too exhausted for her usual extremes, he mused.

"I've never had to deal with traffic like this before," Edgeworth said. "I'm usually awake and out of the house well before most people.

Several minutes passed before she replied.

"Neither have I."

"I see."

"Well, it seems we may be here for several more hours, Miles," she said archly, electing not to follow her remark with a criticism of Edgeworth's driving skills.

Well, unlike you, Franziska, I don't consider myself immune to traffic laws, he thought, reluctant to involve himself in another contemptuous round of snide comments.

Why not make this as tolerable as possible, she thought to herself, stifling a devilish snicker. Miles seemed unwilling to turn her commentary inside out, so why not enjoy it? She began to devise multiple, seemingly-innocent questions that were sure to elicit an amusing reaction.

"Seeing anyone lately, Miles?" she asked, giving him a sidelong glance.

"Excuse me?" he said, eyes wide. Is she coming on to me with that look?

"You heard me."

"Now, why would you ask me something ridiculous like that?" he said, looking back towards the road.

"Is it so wrong to inquire about my little brother's life? We haven't talked with each other about each other in quite a while, after all," she said.

Edgeworth thought he heard her suppress an evil laugh at the end of her statement. What is she playing at, he thought, narrowing his eyes in irritation. No, no, this is what she wants. Stay calm, Edgeworth.

"You're right, Franziska, we haven't had a good family-style chat in a while," he said, faking a warm smile. "Tell me, had any dates lately?"

"I asked you first," she replied, restraining her irritation. How did I know he'd turn this one around like he always does? "After you, Miles."

"I'm too busy for that sort of nonsense, as usual."

"Or is it you're just not interested."

"What does that mean?"

"In women." Franziska's lips curled into a malicious smile.

"I suppose it would seem that way to you," he replied coolly, unaffected by her assault on his sexuality.

"It certainly does," Franziska muttered.

"And you?"

"What about me?"

"Have you been 'seeing anyone'?"

"What do you think?"

"No," he said flatly, thinking better of accusing her of being 'uninterested' in the opposite sex.

"Precisely. You know I've got no time for that sort of thing."

And besides, no one nearly perfect enough has come along, she thought to herself as yet another long silence passed between them.

"When was the last time you went on a date, anyhow?" he said quietly.

"Talking to yourself again, Miles?" she laughed.

"Perhaps," he said, smiling.

"To answer your question, never," she replied, looking as haughty and prideful as usual.

Edgeworth's expression darkened. I almost feel sorry for her...not only has she never even tried for any kind of normal interaction, she's...proud of it. Now that I think about it, I can't even remember her having any real friends at all. Not that my 'friends' are anything to be proud of, he thought, smirking, but at least I had some to watch my back when times were tough.

What are you smiling to yourself about, Miles, she wondered, glaring at him. This is going to be less fun than I thought.

*

"Finally, we're here," Franziska said, stepping out of Edgeworth's car.

As Edgeworth talked to the lot attendant, Franziska inspected her car.

I could kill those foolish fools! They smudged my windshield, dented my bumper, scratched the passenger-side door... My car is no longer the perfect vehicle it once was....

"I'll remember this for the rest of my life, you fools," she muttered. "Well, Miles, I'll be off."

Isn't there something you want to say to me, he thought, sighing in irritation.

"Miles," she said.

"Yes?"

"Thanks for nothing, little brother."

"Oh, by the way, Franziska, before you go," Edgeworth said. "There's something I've been meaning to tell, er, give you for the longest time."

"What?" she said, looking the tiniest bit vulnerable.

Edgeworth slapped her across the face, although nowhere near as brutally as she'd hit him.

"That's for yesterday," he laughed, giving her a sidelong glance as he walked towards his car, as stoic and confident as the hero of a samurai film.

"Finally showing some guts, Mr. Miles Edgeworth," she said, touching her cheek. "Bravo."

*

"Oh, Mr. Edgeworth, welcome back!" Ema said cheerfully, pouring a cup of tea for Edgeworth as he entered the office. "I must say, I like your new style."

"Thanks for taking my calls, Ema," he replied, collapsing into his chair.

"Of course, anytime!" she replied, not moving an inch from where she was standing, looking expectantly down at him in his chair as she rocked back and forth on her heels, Wright's assistant's tiny cousin sitting meekly in a chair in the corner.

What does she want, he thought.

"Err... how was your emergency?" she asked.

"Fine, fine. Was there something else you wanted?" he asked, wondering why the schoolgirl was still in his office.

"Well, you said..."

"Compensation, right?" Pearl said cheerfully. "You kept telling me all about it, how could you forget, Ema?"

Ema blushed, looking at the floor.

"Of course," he said, rising from his chair. Ema felt her heart beat in her throat as her face turned a deep shade of pink.

"P-Pearl..." she began. "Pearl's still here, don't you think-"

Her sentence ended abruptly as Edgeworth gave her a twenty-dollar bill.

"Oh, was she helping you? Very well," he said, giving Ema a five-dollar bill. "That's for her."

"Oh," Ema said, rubbing the back of her neck in embarrassment. "Thank you, sir."

"Why don't you be on your way, then, Miss Skye."

"Call me Ema!"

"...Ema."

As his office returned to its usual silence, Edgeworth closed his eyes, exhaustion overtaking him.

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

"Papa!" Franziska whined, tugging at Manfred von Karma's sleeve. "I want to go to the bookstore."

"Silence! I told you to go entertain yourself!"

Franziska looked up at him, venom flaring up behind her tear-filled eyes as she held in her emotions.

Edgeworth watched her run off, one end of her jumprope trailing behind her as his mentor's words fell on deaf ears.

"Pay attention!" Von Karma said, shoving another book at Edgeworth.

"Sorry, sir," he said quietly, burying himself in his studies again.

*

As Edgeworth left the room late that night, his brain thoroughly fatigued, he noticed a small shadow hunched in the hallway.

Little Franziska lay on the floor, sound asleep, a book open on the floor. Edgeworth picked it up to look at the title.

"In a Bamboo Grove," he read aloud, becoming lost in the story's fascinating ambiguities.

All of a sudden, he felt a stinging on his shin.

"That's mine!" Franziska spat, hitting him again with her jumprope.

"Sorry, Franziska, I was just-"

"I hate you, Miles Edgeworth! All you do is steal things! Why can't you just drop dead!" she said, running away as her tears became too much to contain, leaving her book lying open on the floor.

What did she mean by that, he wondered to himself.

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

Edgeworth awoke with a start from his daydream. How sad, he thought, recalling the incident he'd nearly erased from his memory. She must have always thought of me that way...as someone who deprived her of her birthright, who exceeded where she had failed... And yet, she had grown so much since then, it seemed. She had become confident, skilled, intelligent, and decisive, regardless of her other, admittedly minor faults. As frustrating as she is, I couldn't bear to see her any other way. That independence, that pride...she's one of a kind. Little Franziska.

THE END



Author Notes

I hope you enjoyed the story, everyone! I had a lot of fun writing a crazy adventure for two (or three or four) of my favourite characters. Please review if you have time to share your opinions (whether they are bad or good, as long as they are constructive), and check out my other Phoenix Wright fic, the humorous oneshot "Turnabout Snacktime."

Cheers!

-Sparrow Townshend