Follow the Fool
Light. It was light outside… surprisingly and irritatingly bright. Franziska von Karma’s eyes slowly slid open—and then closed tightly against the painful glare that she knew logically was merely the gentle mid-morning sunlight filtering through her curtains but felt so much harsher and…
Her eyes opened wide suddenly. Mid-morning?! Franziska practically jumped out of her bed, her still half-asleep brain scrambling to wake up and match her pace (dimly recognizing that she was in her normal, everyday outfit and had likely fallen asleep in such). She was never late to work. Ever since she had passed the bar at the ludicrously young age of 13, the only times she had ever been late or missed work entirely had been when she’d been shot in the shoulder, and… well, that was that. To oversleep like this, no matter how tired she’d been, was absolutely unacceptable.
It wasn’t until she was frantically slipping her stocking-clad feet into her boots that her mind finally caught up with her, and with an embarrassed pause she remembered that it was, in fact, Saturday. Though she normally would work all weekend if she’d taken a case, the young prosecutor had no tasks on her plate—for the moment, anyway. Franziska still mentally harangued herself for sleeping so late; even if she had had no responsibilities, it was still inexcusable to be so… sloppy.
This is wrong. This is… I can’t… what’s wrong with me? Franziska sat on the edge of her comfortable queen-sized bed, eyes closed in concentration. Sloppy. She was being sloppy and careless, and this was not like her—it should not be like her. If her father were watching her… she could almost hear his voice, deep and so maddeningly calm that she would almost beg to be disciplined—but knew that if she broke down and gave in to his psychological warfare that it would only be worse for her. His gaze, disapproving no matter what she did, almost daring her to succeed—which she pushed herself to the point of exhaustion to do.
Her father had been a genius, of that there was no question. He had consigned his younger daughter and his practically-adopted son to the flames in hoping of forging a worthy successor… but Manfred von Karma’s true brilliance could not be taught. One could not learn his clever insights, the way he masterfully crafted every single phrase he uttered to intimidate and coerce, or his diabolical charisma. Her father had been perfect, but the von Karma line might as well have ended with him.
Miles had not been worthy of the von Karma name. Neither am I. And… yet, she didn’t know how she felt about that. In a strange coincidence, all three of them had had their perfect win records dashed to the ground and scattered into the winds by the same defense attorney. Her father… well, that case had been his end. Franziska suspected, though, that even if her father’s crime had not been proven, the loss of his perfection might as well have killed him.
Manfred von Karma was gone, and in his place were two protégés that could never be as good as the original—two failed successors. When she’d heard about the ‘death’ of Miles Edgeworth, Franziska had known that he still lived, a gut feeling that turned out to be correct. His flight had been nigh-incomprehensible to her, and surely a sign of weakness. So, the final perfect von Karma had come to America… there had probably been a part of Franziska that longed to best Phoenix Wright in the courtroom, not out of some twisted desire to avenge her father, but to prove to herself and the world that she was good enough. That she could do something even her mighty father could not. That an exhausted little girl no longer had to be terrified of the eternal specter of Manfred von Karma.
But she had come to
Nevertheless, her plans had backfired. She was unable to best Wright in court—her father’s shadow weighed heavily upon her, her perfect record was lost… and worst of all, Franziska had found that Miles had found his own path. Not only did he not need her help, he didn’t want it. Amidst the shame of losing her perfect record and knowing that she was to forever remain inferior to even her father’s memory… that wound cut the deepest of all. Franziska had known that her father had never needed her help, but she’d always told herself that her little brother would always have need for her as an older sister. With that last comfort severed in an instant, Franziska was alone.
If there was a single person in the world whom Franziska von Karma trusted, it was her little brother. He had said that he’d needed to find for himself what being a prosecutor truly meant… at the time, it had sounded like nonsense to the young prosecutor. You were supposed to win. Stop at nothing to get that guilty verdict… that was the von Karma way. It was what the two of them had been taught since, well, she had learned to read.
And then she had lost. Not because of trickery or underhanded methods or an obfuscation of the truth… but because the defendants had truly been innocent. Something had then triggered in the young von Karma, something that she tried her hardest to suppress but found herself quite unable to despite herself. Those defendants had been innocent. She had been trying her hardest to see them found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.
How many others were innocent…?
It was a thought that made her shudder, though she would never let anybody see. Did she have innocent blood on her hands? Her father had truly been a murderer, but was she any better just because her own method of killing involved the government and a legal brief instead of a pistol or a knife?
Miles had unknowingly used forged evidence to convict a man of murder. Was that why he had fled? To find out what being a prosecutor truly meant so that he would never have to worry about innocent blood on his hands?
Franziska knew that Miles had been right. Her father, as genius as he was… she didn’t know if she wanted to be like him, even if it was possible. In some way, that felt like betraying the von Karma name even more than her failures in court ever could have.
So, on her return to
The prosecutor, barely more than a girl, had nobody whom she could trust like that, nobody that she could rely on. So Franziska resolved to do double the work, since she could only really rely on herself…
I’m such a fool.
Sighing to herself, Franziska climbed to her feet and walked to her bedroom door, pulling it open—and stopping short, momentarily startled at the sight of a blonde-haired woman in a simple black T-shirt and jeans curled up on her couch, reading a book.
In a flash, the prior night came crashing back to her, her humiliating breakdown borne of exhaustion and frustration,
Though she hated to admit it, Franziska was starving… she realized that she hadn’t had anything since dinner the previous night, consumed as she was with yesterday’s trial. So, thanking
A bite confirmed that it didn’t taste any better than it looked, and it was only her pride and dignity that kept her from making a face and spitting out. She forced herself to swallow, then faked a smile, “It’s very good. Thank you for making it for me.”
The other woman giggled a bit behind her hand, shaking her head. “No it’s not. I had some before. It’s nauseatingly awful… thanks for saying that, though.”
Franziska suddenly felt very strange, as if this weren’t her house, but a very surreal dream. “I prefer tea,” she said slowly, trying to figure out exactly what seemed so odd. “I feel that coffee makes one jittery and prone to mistakes in judgment—hardly a drink for a public prosecutor…” She looked at
“Oh! While you were asleep this morning, I went out and bought one.” She smiled, a bit teasingly, “You’ve done so much for me, Franziska… I felt I had to help, even with something as little and stupid as that.”
The blue-haired prodigy’s look of puzzlement still hadn’t faded. “You… bought it? But… you can’t speak German.”
She nodded slowly, “That’s… very good. Do you speak many other languages?”
The other woman shook her head, “No, I always wanted to study them but never really had the chance to… so I figure, might as well start now, right? Why not have German as my first… right?”
Though Adrian was in mid-sentence about how she was finding it hard to get the tones right this early on, Franziska said abruptly, cutting her off, “I’m sorry.”
Everything. “…last night,” admitted the younger woman, fighting the urge to look down at her boots. “I behaved… inappropriately. I understand you were only trying to help me in what was already an unpardonably shameful state… I had no right to snap at you the way I did. It was not proper of me to do so,” she said, maintaining an even, stiffly formal tone during the entire ‘confession.’
Adjusting her glasses,
Franziska’s reply was sharp and curt, more so than she’d intended, “Perhaps not, but I do. I should not have acted like I did. For that, I apologize.”
The girl in the black shirt sighed softly, a wan smile on her lips. “I had no idea you thought of it like that. That you thought my trust in you was… was a burden, or misplaced, or that you were responsible for everything I went through. If I’d known you felt like that, well…” she trailed off again, before conceding, “well, there’s not much I could have done from inside prison.” Franziska flinched involuntarily.
“I came out here because… because I wanted to see you. Not because I thought you were responsible for me or that you owed me anything. I wanted… I wanted to see you, and talk to you, and make sure that you weren’t just a fantasy I’d dreamed up four months ago.” An extremely perceptive person might have noticed a slight reddish tint on her cheeks. “I’m sorry I gave you any impression that I considered any of what happened to me your fault, Franziska. It’s not.” She looked up, meeting the German girl’s gaze with her own. “I wanted to thank you.”
Franziska finally found her voice, though it wasn’t as strong as it normally was. “Thank me? How… for what? I would have thought that the past four months would have been proof enough that you shouldn’t need to thank me.”
The blonde woman frowned to herself, “For four months, I rehearsed in my head every day what I’d tell you when I saw you again… and now that I finally have the chance to tell you all of this, it just seems so… stupid and empty. I don’t know…”
“Franziska, I’m not a strong person. I’m not like you, or Mr. Edgeworth, or Mr. Wright… I’m not. I know that… I have to depend on someone, and I know that there is something wrong with me… something wrong with how my body and brain work.” Her face was red, as if admitting this was still hard for her to do, but kept on speaking. “That… that will always be my cross to bear. It’s not like I can wake up and change my outfit, or cut my hair, or decide that I suddenly want to have a career as a pop musician, right? I-I can’t just say, ‘Right, I’m not going to be dependant on other people anymore,’ because it doesn’t work like that.”
“When… when I have someone… when I had Celeste… I could keep going. I was almost… well, I’ll never be normal but I could act like it. I could function on my own just as long as I knew she was there and I had her to lean on. And then… and then she was gone, and there was this hole right here,”
She continued, “I… in a weird way I almost trusted in Juan and Matt. Not that I trusted them, but I trusted in them. I trusted that I would get my revenge… I knew I would, I would avenge what they’d done to Celeste, and I guess I thought that maybe that would fill this gaping, consuming hole that grew every day. That knowledge is what kept me going. And then… it happened. Juan was dead, and Matt was guilty of his murder—I knew Matt was guilty… but nothing changed.”
It was Franziska’s turn to look away, and she could feel her shame piercing her chest like a knife. “And… I was wrong,” said the prodigy softly. “You believed in me, and I was wrong. That was what I wanted to apologize for… because if you hadn’t listened to me and believed what I’d said, you would have never had to face Miles on the stand…”
“No! Th-that’s not it at all,” protested
“But… it’s silly, but I clung to what you’d told me so fiercely because it was all I had left. And just somehow knowing that because there was a woman I could trust and believe in, and who… who seemed to actually care about me—even though I know you… you probably didn’t and I was just imagining that—” she stammered out hastily. “That… kept me going. And honestly…? I spent so much time worrying about covering up what had happened that… when it was all out, I had nothing left to hide. And it felt… it felt nice.”
The two of them were silent for what felt like an eternity but was probably only 30 seconds, and then
Franziska said nothing, walking over to sit by
The prodigy glanced over at the other woman, raising a blue-gray eyebrow. “And I’m sorry. Also for everything.”
“That’s not… usually how it goes,” nodded
Although taken aback, the daughter of Manfred von Karma did not immediately push the blonde American off—as was her first inclination. Von Karmas do not hug. “…you’re welcome,” she said at last, so softly that she wasn’t sure that
And then, though her moves were choppy and awkward as if her muscles were simply unused to the motion, she returned the hug.