Fourteen Details We Name Happiness
'Round and round' the Wise Man Said
By: Shigan, the Thief
Edited by: Luna, the Goddess of Barrels
"It's never easy, is it?"
Franziska felt very small, despite the fact that she did have a perfectly legitimate reason to be late—four hours late, to dinner this time. Adrian was leaning against the doorjamb, looking as tired as she sounded. Her eyes lingered on the young prosecutor for a moment before she retreated into the apartment. She did not look back.
Indeed, it hadn't been easy for any of them. She had returned to Germany and Adrian had been in jail; then Franziska had transferred to America to follow Miles and Adrian had still been in jail. Seven months of isolation spent— not wasted - inside grey walls. And then, Adrian was finally released to start her life, her whole existence anew.
Franziska had been there, a phonecall away, in her own peculiar brand of support and repentance. She was never too busy. Not even once.
There were parts of being a famous prodigy that Franziska really hated, or, no, perhaps that was pushing it a bit, hate was a powerful word and carried far too much emotion for her taste. One could never use it and still retain a degree of objectivity - the expression was ill-suited for a lawyer of her calibre. She did not hate being talented, but it did attracted a lot of impracticalities to her life, mostly regarding work.
People expected a lot from her. That she could understand, but it was the amount of decisions and work that got relegated to her under weak excuses that tested the limits of her patience. Last-second reviews and protocol adjustments, salary talks- salary talks!? Why on earth did they need her opinion on how much they should pay the likes of Scruffy? Honestly, did nothing work in this country?
Complaints needed to be voiced in her world. Miles listened to her daily rant of what exactly she thought was wrong (no plastic cups in the restrooms!?) with the prosecution bureau every morning, in his office, both of them with coffee cups in hand while briefing the other of their schedules. He never said much during those spontaneous meetings, aside from the occasional small comment or noncommittal grunt.
Now and then he would peek up from his documents, shooting her a quick and surprisingly soft glance before returning to work. Franziska didn't really drink coffee, but Miles did and he always got her a cup which she never finished.
"What is it?" she asked him one day, having caught his scrutiny red-handed.
He contemplated her question, as if one word at a time, and then shook his head with some amusement. "Nothing."
"Don't smirk at me and call it 'nothing', Miles Edgeworth, what?" she demanded, feeling her irritation grow. The seven blocks of still unattended surveys in front of her did not help.
Still no answer. She was tempted to reach for her whip when he suddenly raised his cup in a low salute, then inhaled a generous sip before speaking. "I still like a dark brew better, cream is for babies."
She blinked, taken off-guard by the odd comment, not really sure of what to make of it. He chuckled candidly at her reaction and waited, expecting to be reprimanded, while carefully nursing his drink. She almost did, her mouth flattening to a thin, impatient line out of habit.
Then the memories surged forth - the images of a grey-haired boy, dressed in a loose, neatly pressed shirt, seated across the study desk. The curtains were open and the room was bathed in the soft morning light, tinted green by the shadows from the trees outside. Piles of legal manuals and books built a wall that was taller than either of the children that it stood between, sorted by language and fields of law. A warm aroma reached up to tease her face from the hot cup of cocoa her small hands cradled.
The young Miles looked at her, a lopsided smirk plastered on his normally sullen, sharp face. His own cup of their traditional morning-beverage distinctively darker than her own.
Cream is for babies.
She had not yelled at him, for interruption was unthinkable during their morning studies. Father would know and be displeased, and to anger papa was the unforgivable sin, the unspeakable transgression that everyone in the von Karma household feared. That, however, didn't stop her pocket-dictionary from colliding squarely with his forehead.
The Miles of the present-day came back into focus, overlapping his younger self like a second layer of film. He had returned to his papers, having seen the short moment of recollection on her face, but seemed disconcerted by her lack of reaction. She was supposed to snort or scoff and call him a fool. The silence was unlike her and it worried him.
"Franziska, is something wrong?" he asked, in a tone that was a little softer than the one he reserved for business.
She paused for a few seconds, momentarily confounded by the strange double-vision of the two Miles. Then, brushing a few strands of errant hair aside, she returned to work. She frowned as her thoughts wandered to Adrian and the recent… complications her workload had caused; but even as the idea of confiding in him arose, it was just as swiftly dismissed. Miles was Miles and a von Karma as well, by upbringing if not blood, and to ask and to discuss her personal, intimate problems with him was absurd. No, Adrian knew why she had to work, she would understand.
Instead, she returned to the vision of the boy and the man in a quiet study many years away. Neither of them spoke a word, because they didn't need to. The memory was still here, on his desk, in their work, in the cups of warmth they still shared between them. A special something that only siblings could touch.
For the first time since her arrival here, Franziska finished her coffee.
"I made you some tea." The cup of hot jasmine was jarringly awkward in her hand as she approached Adrian. The blonde had barely spoken to her all evening. Having commandeered the sofa for herself, she was now reading peacefully with her legs propped up on several cushions.
They had had this scenario before and Franziska never came out the winner. Maybe she would have felt more justified in being so ungodly late if Adrian's anger wasn't so painfully obvious, and if the cold but nonetheless fantastic dinner hadn't been so delicious. Franziska was no connoisseur in the culinary arts, but she knew good food from enough dinner parties to recognize the labour. She couldn't imagine how long Adrian must have worked in the kitchen to sauté the tender duck to perfection... only to eat it alone well before Franziska ever walked through the door.
The cup was starting to scorch her hand. A slight grimace was the only evidence of her discomfort as she set it down on the coffee table. It also effectively put her in Adrian's direct line of vision, making her impossible to ignore. It was incredibly childish on both parts, but the day was getting late and Franziska was hoping to bring this foolishness to a quick and quiet end.
The soft thud of the porcelain hitting wood did not stir Adrian, who was still performing a very convincing show of being engrossed in her reading.
"Thank you for dinner." Franziska tried to engage her in conversation. It was a honest claim - the food had been exquisite, and she regretted not arriving home in time to enjoy it in the way it deserved. Court was court however, though that wouldn't stop Adrian from being angry.
The blonde closed her book— Latro in the Mist by a Gene Wolfe - with a gentle slam. That was so typical of Adrian, to be able to even slam things gently, despite the contradiction. Franziska observed the motion, the slender hands which in turn connected to pale arms while they turned and folded. The breeze ruffled a few stray hairs of Adrian's long, golden bangs lazily; sharp, almond eyes snapped from the covers of what looked like a roman legionnaire in sagum to the aqua-haired girl beside her.
"I especially enjoyed the sauce. The cayenne peppers and the plum were nice touches, though I can't place the liquor you used for it," she continued, pushing for a conversation and hoping for mercy. The other's face remained a mask, one Franziska was unsure if she would be able to crack or remove. "The zucchini dish improved with those small onions you added, and the pudding was considerably more delicious with the blueberries."
"…Are you done dissecting my cooking?" Adrian finally spoke, though tiredly, as if none of it really mattered. Her shoulders were slumped, which set off all kinds of warning bells in the prosecutor's mind as the blonde now looked more defeated than annoyed.
Franziska flinched at the stiff response. Adrian knew she was sorry, she always did, but that didn't mean she didn't deserve to be angry. The blonde turned, flopping her elegant feet to the floor as she assumed a proper sitting position, her expression grim. She leaned forwards, resting her elbows against her knees while rubbing her eyes behind the glasses, futilely perhaps, to soothe the lines she believed would emerge. Franziska remained silent in her position, like a pilgrim praying for benevolence, while studying the other woman's face. This was still - by her account, anyway - pure foolishness, though she could not deny the necessity.
The lawyer felt a small lurch of hope when Adrian lifted the teacup and held it aloft for a moment before taking a small sip; but her hopes dissipated as she replaced it on the table almost immediately. The second thud from the porcelain hitting wood seemed so much louder than the first.
"I'm going to bed," she said as she rose from her seat. "Thank you for the tea."
Franziska watched her leave, felt the warmth of the woman pass by, watched the slender back disappear into the bedroom. Their hands touched for a fleeting moment as Adrian exited. The wide and abundant sofa, which she had helped to pick out, didn't feel quite as soft as she remembered. The cushions did help, in that regard, but only a little. She picked up the cup and sipped, and found to her distaste that the tea had turned lukewarm. The barely detectable flavour of petals and leaves left a sour taste in her mouth.
She should have let it steep longer; she should have done it with more care.
A week passed, and then another week. Franziska kept the same routine. She had to, as there were no shortcuts in law. She tried to be home as much as she could - to arrive there in a timely fashion, to make time to spend with Adrian and all the myriad trivialities that had entered her life since moving to America. It was a delicate balance, to keep the lawyer and herself apart. She was no longer the law, she was Franziska and Franziska had vulnerabilities no manual could explain.
In Germany, in the von Karma mansion, her life had been simple. She had done what she was destined to do, stepped into her family's legacy secure and confident in her ability. Life, work- which had been her life - had been easy, strict, yes, but predictable. Here, and with Adrian, things had changed to something else. Her life no longer had a protocol, she had to adjust and mend, make last-second commitments and break others to make space for the small things she knew the blonde did for her. It was a constant battle between duty and obligation, and she missed the simplicity of when she could just stay at the closest hotel with a decent breakfast buffet when things needed to be done.
It was not quite a chore, even if her old self would have labelled it as such. Adrian made things worthwhile, interesting, and her weekends became something other than a time to breathe and review. Adrian made things different, and Franziska found herself oddly in favour of sacrificing bits and parts of her own life to maintain the brittle balance they had come to build.
She was mostly successful, save when she was not.
Franziska knew when there was something seriously wrong with the security when the door to her office clicked, opened to a narrow gap, and a short someone who most definitely did not belong in the prosecutor's bureau peeked in. A head of dark hair, tied into that ridiculous topknot and a pair of brown eyes bobbed in relief at the sight of her before quickly entering.
Franziska was torn between surprise and the urge to pick up her phone and call the front desk, wanting to know how someone dressed like a Japanese monk had been allowed to enter the building unescorted. She didn't particular mind Maya - the girl was a childish to a fault, but carried a heavy legacy of her own, was crafty when required, and had been a fair help to many cases. She was also a major member in the strange, incidentally formed family of Phoenix Wright's, that in a way included Miles and even Franziska herself. This did not, however, mean that Maya could waltz uninvited into her office any time she wished, despite not exactly being unwelcome.
The girl eyed her office in curious awe, though the lawyer doubted that there was anything of interest to her to look at. She had always liked her workspace free of anything that could be deemed a personal item, though she kept a chessboard and a handsome set of pieces like Miles. Her bookcases, like his, were near to overflowing with a lesser army of books, binders and legal documents. An extra change of clothes hung from a hanger of dark wood. The only thing that really stuck out was a small painting she kept beside her desk of a young woman in a sundress alone by the sea. Immersed in a radiant sunset, she stood barefoot on a beach with her back to the viewer. Adrian had received the oil painting as a gift after a convention and Franziska found herself oddly drawn to the quiet simplicity it portrayed, of a person caught in a moment of peace. She realized, with startling revelation, that the blonde had found a way even into her office.
Maya studied the painting with real interest, her eyes flickering between the girl and Franziska - they had a very similar hair-colour, though a sunhat covered most of that of the girl's. The prosecutor tapped her fingers in impatience as she watched her. The Fey girl in her unusual clothes looked so profoundly out of place in the rigid atmosphere of her workspace. In fact, the contrast was almost comical, as if she had stepped into the wrong party while expecting to attend a masquerade. The loose, draping acolyte's robe was a stark contrast to the lawyer's own attire of knee-long skirt, impeccably ironed blouse and dark waistcoat.
"Maya Fey," The lawyer greeted, nodding while filing away the last of a case, waiting for the other to state her business.
"Um… hello," Maya said, shuffling her feet awkwardly as she switched her attention to the prosecutor. "That's a really nice painting."
"I thought your office would look more like Mr. Edgeworth's," she added as she cast a thoughtful gaze around the rest of the room.
She scoffed at the idea. "Magenta was never my colour, if indeed it can be considered anyone's."
"I suppose. Nick said he would bet his spikes that Mr. Edgeworth even dyed his bed sheets in that colour." Maya giggled.
"A fool's foolish bet." She snorted.
"Why do you say that?"
"Because he changes his sheets too often for it to be considered a habit, and most of them are either blue or white," Franziska said, her tone matter-of-fact. She paused, and the slightest hint of amusement worked its way into her voice. "Though, as you now know of the outcome, you should take him up on it."
The Fey girl clapped her hands together, her eyes lighting up. "You're absolutely right! I'm gonna bet him a week's worth of hamburgers! Ha!" She laughed. Franziska shook her head at the other girl's levity. It was amazing how natural it looked on her. "I can't wait to rake in that one."
"I can imagine," Franziska replied dully, feeling the start of a small, impending migraine. Maya had better come up with a reason to be here fast, or there would be security involved. The acolyte peered over at her.
"You're asking yourself why on earth I'm here, aren't you?" Maya inquired in that quick honesty that could so easily catch one off guard. Franziska eyed the Fey heir carefully, then nodded, seeing no point in beating around the bush.
"Since we do not have an appointment, yes, I am."
Maya folded her hands in front of her, as if to keep them from tugging at her clothes, her eyes darting slightly to the side. "I was asked to come here because there is someone who needs to speak with you. And, well, the nature of the request sorta falls into my field of work."
The lawyer frowned. "Phoenix Wright? Then why didn't he come in person?"
"No, not Nick.. he's, um, still up an' kicking. I can't really explain it but I think it's a she. She's been bugging me for days, begging me to ask you. She said it was very important and that the two of you really ought to talk," Maya said sheepishly as she loosened her topknot, letting her hair fall free around her youthful face. Franziska studied her, still unsure of what to make of the request. Maya stretched her arms, then joined her hands in front of her with a rather apologetic expression. "She's been pretty insistent, and well, I think she wants to do it right now."
"What do-?" The question froze in Franziska's mouth. She had seen the process before in court, but the speed of it never stopped to astound her. In the lapse of an eyeblink, between one heartbeat and the next, Maya was gone, and in her stead stood a taller, refined and certainly older woman.
The eccentric robes and the darker hair of the Fey threw her off at first; the face however, and the sharp, evenly shaped eyes were unmistakeable. Franziska remembered to close her mouth, unable to hide her shock as she recognized the face which she so briefly had seen on photos and among the files of an old autopsy report. The photocopies had done her beauty none of its justice if this was how she looked even after her death. The young prosecutor stiffened in her seat, stunned to silence.
The woman before her was none other than Celeste Inpax.
There were times when Franziska would grow angry at Adrian too, and found herself absolutely unable to voice it. Thus she shut herself off - burying herself in work, whipped Scruffy into shape, or went back to her own apartment, a two-roomed, almost empty arrangement on the sixth floor that was on the same block as Miles. There she would spend her time doing anything that would vent her frustration until she felt ready to face Adrian and be civilized again.
She got angry just like anyone else, but that didn't mean Adrian had to know. She didn't want the blonde to see that conceited little girl who would break things and blame others. She didn't want to show her the Franziska who would ruin her brother's possessions in a fit of rage.
It was a difficult thing to admit, but Franziska came to realize that she still wanted to be perfect. And that was all she wanted Adrian to see.
"You're nothing like I imagined." Celeste chuckled as they made their way down the street. It was a random road the - older? yes, older - woman had picked as they strolled along. She was wearing Franziska's spare coat as Maya's robe barely covered the taller woman's thighs.
It was the brown of Maya Fey's eyes that looked at her with curious, attentive scrutiny, but underneath were now the careful maturity of a more cautious and clever woman. Franziska felt cold and startlingly uncomfortable, though not from the keen wind that pulled at her hair. She could see why Adrian had loved this woman. Celeste was one of those rare people who had an natural air of togetherness to them. She made interaction comfortable and her company put you at ease, a valuable gift and one Celeste had harnessed with skill. She made you feel calm and assured, like a warm, older sister who would protect you from the world and yield to nothing. It wasn't hard to see why Adrian had found that attractive.
"I thought you would be older, certainly taller, and with darker hair. Adrian said she always liked dark hair. But you're only about the same height she is, correct?" Celeste laughed with her eyes.
"…I am," Franziska replied sheepishly, and wondered if Maya had left some of her personality behind. This felt beyond absurd. She was discussing her height with a dead woman who by the powers of Kurain had returned for reasons she refused to disclose, save that it involved Adrian and was important.
"And you're a prosecutor, one of the more prominent ones in this city if I'm not mistaken?"
"In the world," Franziska said with pride. "Though I doubt you would have heard of me, unless you were involved in the legal world."
Celeste hmm-ed. "I see Adrian picks them wisely, she always had a good eye." She laughed. "So how did you guys meet?"
The young prosecutor shot the older woman a look - she wasn't in the habit of discussing her personal life with complete strangers, even less ex-loves of her respective other. Celeste, however, didn't see it as such. She was concerned, quite dead and very short on time, and thus she intended to milk Franziska for as much information as she could, the prosecutor's own wishes be damned. Franziska had mercilessly been bullied into cooperation, which was something only the dead could do since no living person could intimidate a von Karma.
"In court. She was the key witness to a trial, and then became the main suspect. I was in charge of the prosecution." She explained the case, the three days of chaotic trials in short, accurate facts with no exaggerations though sparing none of Celeste's own post-humorous influence. The woman listened, injecting a small question now and then, but took in the tragedy with impressive calm.
"Those are quite some circumstances," Celeste said, surprised. "I had no idea." Franziska didn't comment on the obvious reason as to why.
"Things turned out for the best. Matt Engarde was convicted but Adrian had to serve seven months."
Celeste covered her mouth with a hand, her eyes growing distant. "I never thought it would turn out this way... but then, I probably wasn't thinking much at that time at all." She shook her head sadly. "Death does funny things to a person, it gives you a lot of time for reflection if nothing else. Perhaps I should - ought - to regret my decision to end my life but I've found that I don't. It seemed pointless to go on then, and it still does now. I hate to say it, but Adrian wasn't reason enough to keep on living, none of them were, but I would never have wished this for them even if some deserved it."
"You knew." Franziska stated flatly, eyes widening.
"That she loved me? Oh yes, I specialize in human relations you know, the signs were all over her." Celeste pulled the coat tighter around her, her face darkening. "And that was bad - it was flattering, but I really didn't want her to and she couldn't afford it at that point of her life. I'm sure you've noticed already, that Adrian has talent despite her own beliefs to the contrary. I wanted to hone that for her, as my diamond in the rough, and then send her out to a career, as far away from me, Matt and Juan as possible so she would never get caught in that revolting game we had created. Adrian was too naïve for that sort of thing, too kind and honest and maybe that's why I couldn't resist keeping her around."
"You mean that you didn't reject her, at least not deliberately." It was hard not to sound accusing, but Franziska found that she could not help being angry. It was a prickling, building sort of ire. She push it down, refusing to give in to the emotion.
The older woman laughed, a piteous, strangled sound that held none of her previous mirth. "I should have, and oh, I wanted to. After Matt threw me aside like a rag and Juan... well, he was kinder I suppose, but then they would compete in women and there was just no way I alone could suffice. I was treated like the spoils of war, or worse since it was unwanted spoils in Matt's case, used and thrown away. They really were hideous; two rotten, spoiled princes who would do anything to ruin the other. And despite that I still loved Juan... can you believe it?"
They passed a small park, where a few brightly dressed children played amidst a copse of red maples, the branches still heavy and dripping from the rain. Franziska watched them as they walked past, finding it increasingly difficult to talk as Celeste's words coursed through her mind.
"Can you blame me?" The older woman continued. "Adrian was my only real source of affection for so long. Everything she did, every word and action was in consideration for me, and she is so very bad at masking her concern. She thought the world of me, showed it in every gesture despite her occasional efforts to mask just how much, and I indulged in her kindness shamelessly while pitying my own situation. And oh, I knew about her co-dependency all right, but the truth is that I clung to her as much as she to me, and it was only in the end that I made any real attempt to distance myself, through the engagement."
"But she chose to stay with you."
"Yes, she saw how I suffered and couldn't let it go. And couldn't forgive it either, apparently."
"And you are displeased by this?" the prosecutor wondered.
"Displeased? No. A little angry, disappointed perhaps, and I pity what she did. I taught her the trade Ms. von Karma, every little thing, all the tricks and rules, and yet she went against every single piece of advice I ever gave her. She got personal, she got too deep into something that was none of her business and paid the price. I can only thank God that the trial didn't turn out differently! She-"
"-Made the exact same mistake that you did." Franziska took a deep breath, and her chest ached a little with the next words, from something that surely could not be jealousy. "She fell in love."
Celeste cringed, but affirmed the words through a soft nod. "I made a mistake with two horrible men and she made it with a horrible woman, a weak woman who could not possibly deserve her."
The road emerged into an open space between the buildings, another park, where a church tower could be glimpsed between thick trees. A high stone fence surrounded it, covered in lush, green vines. It was an unfamiliar part of town, but Celeste marched on regardless and the young prosecutor found herself oddly compelled to follow, caught up by the story of this woman whom Adrian had loved. They continued to walk until Celeste found a small, rusty gate which she pried open and stepped through. Franziska followed closely, her gaze fixed on the other's back.
"Why are you telling me all this?" she finally asked. "It is an interesting tale but you have yet to give me a reason as to why this conversation was necessary."
"How cold you are," Celeste laughed, a portion of her mirth returning. "Just like she said."
Franziska clucked her tongue in annoyance. The older woman interrupted her before she could retort.
"I am telling you because I want you to know where Adrian comes from, I wanted you to know her a little better than I believe you do." Celeste held up a hand to cut off her protest. "Don't argue with me. I'm not saying that I know her any better, but I've given you the facts; her actions, her thoughts, and the devotion they represent. They should speak for themselves."
"And what are you trying to tell me?" Franziska asked, clearly frustrated at the whole thing. "I'm a prosecutor, guesswork is for defence attorneys."
"Do you love her?"
Celeste stood in the centre of the gravel path, her eyes now fixed on Franziska. The question had been so blunt and so sudden that it sent her into bewildered shock. She spluttered a few incoherent phrases, partly in German, while heat rose to her cheeks.
"… yes, I believe so."
The older woman nodded. Her posture relaxed, a change so physical it showed even through the heaviness of the coat. It was relief the prosecutor saw, mixed with a dose of something more melancholic. Celeste turned and continued their walk. "I'm glad to hear that. And with that said I am almost done here."
"What? Wait, how could you know all this? How could you possible know about me?" Franziska demanded, infuriated by the other woman's nonchalance.
Celeste didn't answer, but raised her hand and pointed ahead of them. They had strayed off the path and were now heading towards a group of stocky eucalyptus trees. The damp grass absorbed the sound of their steps as they entered the vegetation, the thick crowns surrounding them like a wall. Franziska peeked through the leaves, feeling depressively like a voyeur and wondered if this was how Phoenix Wright felt during his many investigations of questionable nature. She was surprised to see that they were looking into a cemetery, a rather old one with large, handsome family stones and well-kept gardens.
Franziska jolted to a stop when she spotted a familiar figure among the graves.
Adrian was wearing a smartly cut, double-buttoned grey coat. A belt clung around her slight, elegant waist, nicely emphasising the curves of her body. A bouquet of white chrysanthemums lay before where she stood, propped against a stone of white marble. She was facing away from them but Franziska could clearly imagine the defined cheeks and slightly dry lips. Her chest ached a little at the scene because Adrian's form was slumped and devoid of her usual vigour.
Celeste motioned her to be quiet as they drew closer. Something clicked frantically in Franziska's mind when her eyes moved to the grave; she looked over at the older woman who was watching the scene with intense curiosity, then back to the grave again.
"Is that where - your…?" she whispered, staring at the dead woman in disbelief.
"Shhhh - my grave? Yes it is." Celeste smiled in morbid humour. "It's the place where my spirit is the closest to this world, and that's how I know about you and the fact that you've been botching things. She's been coming a lot recently."
Franziska was about to snap at the other to mind her own business when Adrian shuffled her feet. She looked around, as if to make sure that she was alone before speaking.
"Hello Celeste," Her voice resounded in the hallowed silence, fragile and clear. "I brought you chrysanthemums today, I know you like irises best but I thought a change would be nice.
"Do you remember the chrysanthemums you got me for my twentieth birthday, the blue ones I dried and pressed?" She chuckled, as if the memory amused her. "I think I finally lost them in the move. I thought they were among the books but I can't find them anywhere.
"And Franziska is being no help at all; she keeps organizing my stuff like her law books. My collection is looking more and more like a legal library with more and more of her volumes being added into the mix. I'm surprised she hasn't tried to attack my wardrobe yet." Adrian tilted her head and squatted before the grave. "Which wouldn't be good since there are a few things there I don't think she's ready for yet."
Franziska's eyebrows climbed a notch higher when Adrian giggled.
"She can be such a child sometimes, so modest about things. Did you know she still slams doors unconsciously when she's upset about something? She must have done that a lot when she was younger. I should ask Mr. Edgeworth the next time I call, but she would be so embarrassed if she found out.
"I've been having a lot of work to do recently, and well, it's been difficult but things have gotten better. She's been trying to match my schedule ever since that convention in August and I know she's working her hardest to be home when I am. It's hard to imagine but I think she's been pushing herself too much. She would never admit it but it shows in her sleep, she becomes quite the restless sleeper when stressed. I thought it was quite adorable until she ribbed me twice during one night."
The prosecutor was surprised and felt somewhat embarrassed. She had never noticed Adrian's scrutiny.
"She still won't cook but I suppose that could be a good thing. She folds her clothes in that strange way, as if she was taught by a maid, I still can't get her to wear casual clothes and those legal briefs of hers are always all over the apartment."
And Adrian wasn't lining up her faults to criticise her, not with that tone. That was the tone she used when she wanted to tell Franziska something she found funny or asked her how her day had been. Adrian was simply telling Celeste (quite literally, as it turned out) of the things her life now consisted of.
"I got really angry at her, for not being home when she promised and she shut herself away for days. Then that horrible exhibition came along and I did something similar, and she went home for almost a week. I still don't know how to handle that. There are so many sides of her she's so hell-bent on keeping to herself, sides I can't even begin to reach. She never shouts or gets mad at me, or it's like she wants to but doesn't know how and it's so frustrating, and then I get even angrier at her because I'm frustrated." The blonde took a deep, shaky breath as she picked up a fallen flower and cradled it between her palms. The lawyer could not see her face, but she was sure Adrian's mouth had stretched out to a thin line. It always did when she had trouble articulating her thoughts.
"She's really nothing like you." Adrian paused and looked up towards the damp sky, and when she spoke again her voice was stronger. "And that scared me at first, to think that there could be someone beyond you, someone greater and so different when I thought you and my revenge for you was all I would ever have."
Franziska bit her lip, hard, trying to distract herself from the pounding beneath her chest. Celeste remained immobile in her position, looking over at the blonde woman with fond eyes.
"She's so difficult Celeste, we both are and probably will be for a long time to come but it doesn't matter, nothing of it really does in the end." Another pause, another sigh, another painstaking heartbeat.
"Because Franziska makes me happy."
A warm and slightly painful something lurched in the prosecutor's stomach at those words. She tightened her fists, only now realizing that she had been trembling.
"And I hope she feels the same."
They remained silent while Adrian dusted herself off and rose to her feet. She gave the bouquet a last, weak bow, bid her farewells and began to leave. Franziska could barely feel herself breathing. She watched Adrian walk away, waiting until the blonde was completely gone before emerging from the trees with Celeste. It was a strange feeling. The von Karma in her screamed at the bare disgrace of her act while Franziska was in a state of awe. Adrian's last words had rocked something in her, and she could still feel the crumbling.
The packed gravel crunched softly beneath her heels as she stepped onto the path. They stopped before Celeste's grave with the flowers, her mind preoccupied.
"That was… enlightening."
Celeste rolled her eyes. "That's all you have to say?"
"She speaks of me often?"
"Every time, every single time it's like this. She comes here when she's confused, hurt or even when she's really happy and I don't have a lot of choice but to listen."
"I did not know," Franziska admitted.
"Well, now you do, and with that said my job here is done. I owe someone a body," Celeste said, motioning to herself.
"You never answered my question."
"As to why we needed to talk?"
"Yes. Why did you show me all this?"
Celeste chuckled and studied the young prosecutor, visibly amused by her insistence. Maya's dark hair made her look deep, bordering serene. "Why indeed? Maybe I just wanted some peace and quiet? That's kind of what I was expecting out of death in the first place."
Franziska scowled and crossed her arms, glaring at the other woman.
"Does it really matter what I wanted you to see?" she asked, after a seemingly lengthy pause. The young prosecutor had no answer for that.
"You make her happy she said, and I guess I'd like her to stay that way but that is me and I'm dead. The rest is up to you, Franziska von Karma." Celeste's lips curled into an enigmatic though hearty smile.
There was some regret to it, and a smudge of something that perhaps was sadness, but that dissipated quickly as the woman bent down and picked up the bouquet at their feet. The large, crown-shaped blossoms were beautiful. Celeste cradled the ripe flowers gently against her chest. The woman remained aloof for a few moments, a contemplative look on her face. Then she tipped her head back, closing her eyes.
A soft fall breeze wafted through graveyard, cold, tender, rustling the trees. The air, space, everything before her shifted - not by much, but enough to be detectable. Franziska's words died in her mouth, she shivered and blinked, her senses momentarily thrown off by the strange phenomena. Celeste was gone when she regained her focus, and in her stead stood a fatigued and very confounded Maya, who unceremoniously crashed into the prosecutor's arms.
It was not that normality didn't exist in her world, it just wasn't for her. She was the successor, the privileged, the destined - she was special and those commonplace things were unworthy of her attention. That was what people had told her and what she wholeheartedly believed. But sometimes a thorn of doubt would sting at her heart and she too would wonder.
It had happened during a December day, roughly a week before Christmas. People were milling about the streets, stressed by their last-minute shopping, and the snow lay piled in droves. She was waiting outside the courthouse, shivering despite her dark coat of quilted cashmere.
A group of children walked past, laughing and discussing the presents they were expecting while the oldest, a girl a little older than Franziska was dividing a bag of hot almonds amongst them. Annoyed at the noise of their chatter, she pretended to ignore them and kept studying the streets. The soft smell of cinnamon and sugar lingered in the air. It was only much later she dared to admit just how much, and how deeply she had wished for a few of those freshly baked sweets.
She got home very late that evening, partly because of Celeste, partly because of Maya who had been to drained to even walk. Not being familiar with the after effects of a prolonged channelling, Franziska had promptly called for a taxi to take the other girl home. Phoenix Wright and Pearl Fey had been upset, but understood – albeit grudgingly - after a quick set of explanations that they did not question further. The prosecutor unwillingly admitted that she liked that about him, she considered him a fool and a sneak but he knew when to keep to his own business.
The younger Fey had combusted into loud sobs at the first sight of her half-conscious cousin, then immediately proceeded to glare at the prosecutor for the rest of her visit. Wright had taken it better, though he was still visibly uncomfortable in her presence. Together they had carried the exhausted Fey heir to bed whereas Franziska excused herself soon after.
She had returned to the office, determined to not become backlogged because of the extended interruption, but made sure to leave a message at home and with Adrian's cellphone. There was no way she was going to catch dinner.
Reports streamed in, reports streamed out, detectives were briefed, cases filed and trials prepared, it was well beyond ten o'clock when she finally closed the last binder. The building was mostly deserted save for a few security guards who greeted her hastily on the way out. She dropped the last few documents on their respective recipients' desks, disposed of her cup, then finally emerged into the brisk chill of the November eve. Surprisingly, someone was waiting for her.
Miles stood by his red sports car, hands tucked into his coat, his expensive briefcase of dark leather squeezed between his left arm and body. A cigarette might have fit the image but she detested and banished the thought. He waved a greeting at the sight of her.
"I saw the light in your office and thought you might need a ride." he said, a simple statement of facts. She nodded and got in without a word, and they drove off in silence, both caught up in their own thoughts.
"How's Adrian?" he asked neutrally, which was his delicate way of inquiring if he should drive them home or drop her off at the blonde's apartment.
"Fine," She replied, feeling sluggish and tired. 'Fine' meant to Adrian, 'She's working' meant home. He seemed relieved, a brotherly concern he tried to hide as he knew it annoyed her.
Franziska leant back into the seat, drawing in the familiar smell of expensive leather. The sky was clear with a few threads of flimsy clouds draped around the moon. She looked to the side. The city they passed was alight, a massive pulse of neon and noise, a glaring eye against the black heavens. A surprising amount of people were still moving around, from work, from restaurants or theatres and she recalled that it was Friday. Franziska had never had much time for such levity, even less so in a foreign, American city which smelled of exhaust fumes and fries. Adrian, however, enjoyed it and she could now see why.
The blonde had been born to that stream of people in the light, who laughed and cried and knew the titles of the newest movies. A normal though talented girl who had caught the eye of a successful manager and been drafted into a brutal reality. Celeste had never intended her protégé to be a part of the monstrosity she had helped to create, but found herself unable to sever her connection with the selfless kindness Adrian offered, and as a result added to the tragedy which had evolved with time. Adrian's love and loyalty, which had kept her naïve, had thus evolved with it, and finally twisted her into the dispassionate, self-loathing woman Franziska had first seen at Gatewater.
Now, with Celeste and Juan dead and Matt facing a life-sentence, Adrian's past was gone and her life could resume to normality, but it was a normality that could be well beyond Franziska's grasp. She of all people would never be normal and it was a concept that often worried her. The von Karma creed ran deep and she tried, wanted to even, but there were parts of herself, accomplishments and ideals tied to the name which she was not willing to give up.
Would she ever fit into a life like those people on the streets? Could she ever become who Adrian wanted, needed her to be? Or would they spend their lives trying, balancing along a line of mismatched schedules and hesitation? Was being with her a choice, an expense to herself which Adrian could really afford?
She made Adrian happy, but was that truly enough?
Franziska found that she had no such answers.
Miles stepped on the brakes, clucking his tongue in annoyance at a sudden red light. His grey, well-trimmed bangs hung low, almost covering his eyes. She studied him silently as he drummed his fingers against the wheel through half-closed eyes.
"Miles." Even her voice was tired. He hmm-ed his attention but didn't turn to look at her. This no longer annoyed her as much as it should have. "Are you happy?"
He stared at her, the question having caught him completely off guard. They remained like this for a few moments until a stream of irate honking forced his attention back to the road. He changed gear, letting the engine roar to life.
"What makes you ask that?" He did not bother to hide his surprise.
She frowned at him, though she doubted he saw it. "Just answer me."
He made a turn, cast a quick glance at the rear-view mirrors before resuming his driving. His brows were creased in thought. "By all present accounts, I believe I am."
"Am I part of your happiness?"
Another astounded silence followed in the echo of her question. She did not expect him to answer.
Miles slowed the car, and the familiar view of Adrian's apartment complex entered her vision. He made a u-turn and slowed to a halt. Franziska gathered her things and exited without looking back. There was no animosity in their neglect; it was just their way of doing things. She didn't need to waste time on trivial pleasantries, just like he didn't need to answer that particular question.
It had been childish of her since the answer was so obvious.
Franziska couldn't remember the day Miles Edgeworth arrived to the von Karma estate, but she remembered the days before him. She remembered walking barefoot across rich, burgundy carpets. Grey corridors, majestic halls and stern-faced servants, an army of housekeepers, gardeners, maids and governors, lifeless shadows in a dark house. It had been a household of constant fear; fear of mistakes, of imperfections and the sound of an ivory stick against stone.
Then Miles was there. A sullen boy with serious face. A tiny figure in papa's shadow.
There had been arguments, rivalry and small, quiet fights. Disputes and dares that drove them to nightly adventures through the enormous manor, games they invented between the books and the stinging punishment that followed if they were discovered. Miles had been naïve, his carelessness and ignorance often making him a liability in her complex world of destiny and papa, but he had persisted and so had she.
With him she learned of smiles, together they learned of laughter.
She was exhausted when she finally arrived at the door. The key was long since ready in her hand, had been so before the elevator had even passed the second floor. She turned the doorknob and slipped in, breathing out in relief. Home. Or Adrian's home anyway, which basically amounted to the same thing nowadays when she was tired.
She took a small detour to the study to put away her briefcase, filed the last documents she would need to review before heading for the bathroom. Her back ached from the long hours at the office; she grimaced but paid it no heed, squeezing a generous dollop of toothpaste on her brush. Adrian had a huge mirror above her wash basin, one that was at least two metres wide and a good bit taller than Franziska. It made the room look least twice as large but had been a nightmare to assemble. The image she saw there didn't impress her. She looked worn, with listless eyes, slack hair and her blouse was tousled enough to make her realize just how much the day had drained her.
Meeting with the dead did that, perhaps; Maya Fey would know.
She played with the thought of heating something for dinner but didn't feel particularly hungry, and so decided on bed.
Adrian lay sprawled in the centre of her double, hair loose, scattered in a flow of gold across the pillows. She was hugging the turquoise pillow Franziska usually used with an arm. The scene was sweetly adorable yet stung the prosecutor's heart, because it was apparent that Adrian had not expected her to be back tonight.
She sat down, carefully not to disturb the sleeping beauty while running her fingers through the errant locks of hair. It felt like sunlight, and something softer she could not name. The lawyer studied her closely, taking in the shapely eyelashes, the slender neck and the thousands of other things that were Adrian. This woman, this brave, complicated and intelligent woman who confused but held Franziska so utterly in her palm.
Did Adrian make her happy?
The answer came to her as a small, strangled sob. There were no tears, although she felt it was purely due to her fatigue.
What a foolish question. A question with a million answers, and all leading to a common end.
The young prosecutor leaned down, placing a brief – almost chaste – kiss to Adrian's brow. The motion shifted the bed, stirring the blonde from the depths of her slumber. She was startled at first but settled back when she recognized her intruder.
"Hey," she mumbled groggily, fighting to stay awake.
Franziska smiled at the sight, a small, brittle bend of lips, not really trusting her voice to carry. Her hand came up by instinct, tracing Adrian's cheek affectionately as she tried to articulate what no words could possess.
Adrian's clear eyes shone in the dark, pale reflections of the moon outside. She looked bemused but didn't question it further as she pulled the younger woman into a tender embrace. There were no signs of her earlier moodiness. Franziska slumped against her like a child, exhausted but secure.
Was this what Celeste had wanted to show her?
She had no idea, chances were that she never would. The perfectionist in her argued but she silenced it with some effort, surrendering herself to the warmth in Adrian's arms.
"I'm so happy to have you." she said, her voice a trembling whisper.
Adrian studied the girl in her arms, slightly bewildered at her unusual behaviour. "Did something happen?" she asked, but received no answer.
Franziska was already asleep.
It wouldn't always be easy she realized, just like it wouldn't always be difficult. Life had its highs and lows. And it was during the triumphs that love was a sharing, and in the lows it became a support. It was a cycle, a circle of progressive events beyond her control, a wheel of joy and misery going round and round where everything changed and the answers would always be elusive.
Adrian was part of it, just like Miles, Maya and everyone else. And she too was participating in this endless chain, a link in that obscure something that (perhaps) was happiness.
Franziska's first victory over Phoenix Wright came in early spring. The suspect had been a drifter who had been arrested at the scene with a mountain of evidence against him. It had been an open-shut case but Wright had as per usual taken the challenge. The attorney had accepted his defeat with quiet resign and opted for a plea for leniency based on self-defence, and so managed to shorten his client's verdict from a life-sentence to ten years. Maya seemed sad at first but quickly resumed to her slightly hyperactive self as they emerged from the courtroom. Pearl Fey was still suspicious around her, but perked up when Miles dropped by to offer his congratulations.
In the unfolding commotion of reporters, detectives and pleas for hamburgers, Franziska suddenly found herself alone with the spiky-haired man whom she once had labelled her greatest adversity. He greeted her with a slightly awkward nod, holding open the door for her in gentlemanlike manner as they exited the courtroom. They walked side by side in silence while he occasionally glanced at her, at the white blouse of pressed linen, two buttons open and the dark-green skirt. He seemed surprised and she couldn't fault him. Her clothes were still classy and consisted of exclusive labels but were now far more relaxed and sometimes even in style with the trends.
It felt strangely natural to walk with him, when Miles and the Fey girls were waiting just down the halls. Wright shuffled mindlessly through his papers, and then nearly dropped his cellphone which she caught in the last second. He thanked her with a smile which she did not return.
"So I suppose I should congratulate you," he said.
She scoffed. "An unnecessary concern."
"But you finally got what you wanted, though I gave you a good run."
"I thought you of all people would see this differently." She frowned, feeling somewhat affronted by his words.
He flinched at her tone. "Sorry, but I just thought you would be more… gleeful. It's what you've been aiming for right? To defeat me."
"Then you think too highly of yourself."
"Ouch, that was uncalled for," he mumbled, rolling his eyes. "So just another verdict then?"
She sighed, fighting the urge to growl at him but decided against it. "He was guilty," she stated. "You know that."
"Oh I knew, I had his side of the story after all. And you proved it. That's why I thought you would be happy."
Franziska paused for a few moments, then looked at him, this foolish man whom her brother trusted inexplicably. She contemplated her next words carefully before responding.
"I am as happy as you would be, had we succeeded to prove him truly innocent." She replied, and unexpectedly found that she too wore a faint smile. "I believe that should satisfy your question."
Phoenix's eyebrows climbed a few notches, stunned at the unusual display of von Karma friendliness. He relaxed however, and even grinned wider when her words sunk in. They drew close to the revolving doors where Miles was waiting. Maya and Pearl Fey were in the parking lot, both brandishing fresh packages of juice as they busied themselves with kicking up the piled snow.
"Well I'm glad to hear that," He said, then turned and greeted Miles with a slap on the back. Her brother frowned at the overt familiarity but made no protest. "I guess I'll be seeing you then, Ms. von Karma."
She did not respond but walked him out from the courthouse. Maya and Pearl immediately swarmed to him like two smitten sisters, overenthusiastic and obnoxious. The trio made their way down the newly ploughed road while laughing at some remarkable joke. There was not a trace of defeat to the scene.
"What was that about?" asked Miles.
Franziska shook her head, not wishing to put words to what she did not know. He shrugged, following her gaze to the man who had changed them all. She could see he was about to say something, but instead he bid her good day, leaving to see to his own business.
She turned back, walking past the tall windows of the inner courthouse. A few cars drove by, forced to a slowdown due to the mass of gathered reporters outside. None of them took notice of the three figures that discreetly left the premises. Phoenix Wright had lifted Pearl Fey onto his shoulder where the little girl bounced in delight, Maya walking briskly beside them.
Franziska watched them go, watched the streaks of white amidst the open skies, and then continued down the hall towards her office. She was in no hurry, though she did feel a flicker of excitement, looking forward to tell Adrian of the good news.
And thus it ends. This was a great story to write on so many planes. Franziska is, is of course, one of my favourite characters from PW and well, it is a scarcely written fandom so I'm glad I could make what I think is a worthy contribution. The story is not perfect. I can think of a few things I could have done better but it works, it stands and that is enough for now. I tried the best I could to potray some of the insecurities I believe Franziska should have. It is an easily neglectable thing while writing her but she -is- only 18, barely 19 years old, and well haha, we've all been there haven't we? ;-)
"…I'm surprised she hasn't tried to attack my wardrobe yet." Adrian tilted her head and squatted before the grave. "Which wouldn't be good since there are a few things there I don't think she's ready for yet."
Franziska's eyebrows climbed a notch higher when Adrian giggled.
"I can't have her find out about the handcuffs yet, though I think she will like the dark ones with turquoise fluff. She already has a whip but it is kind of lightweight so I bought a new one, oh I can't wait to try it out! Then there are the-"
Celeste looked over at the young prosecutor who was gradually turning paler as Adrian continued to rattle off what sounded like the contents of a S&M catalogue. Perhaps this had not been the brightest of ideas…