Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney / Gyakuten Saiban, its characters and settings, are property of Capcom, and are being used here without permission. 



Follow the Fool

It was Wednesday.

Adrian Andrews had been in
Hamburg, Germany, for just under a week now. The weather had been nice and warm, with no traces of the heavy rain and storms that Franziska had mentioned plaguing the area in early summer. The sun was high in the sky, shining its life-giving glow down on everything below, with only a few puffy white clouds dotting that endless blue.

She had spent most of Saturday being shown around the neighborhood immediately surrounding Franziska’s apartment by the young prosecutor, talking here and there about nothing in particular. On Sunday, though, Franziska had excused herself, saying that she had certain things to take care of at work, and she had been gone all day. Though
Adrian had kept herself busy by reading her new German language primer, it was a very long time to spend by oneself in an apartment that was clearly not meant for entertaining visitors.

The young American had tried to go out and explore the neighborhood, but something hadn’t felt quite right, so she’d returned to the apartment and tried to occupy herself with the textbook. Her mind kept wandering, though, and so that was rather fruitless. Once Franziska had returned, she had agreed that it was a poor host to leave her guest alone all day with nothing to do… however, Franziska was a busy woman, and could not take time from her extremely jam-packed schedule to show
Adrian around, no matter how much she might have wanted to.

So, Franziska had ‘enlisted’ the aid of one Hans Ernst, the powerfully-built young-faced police officer. He and Adrian had spent some time together after the trial on Friday, and she found the good-natured if awkward young officer’s mannerisms and personality rather endearing. Though Hans had initially been glum and downtrodden about his assignment to take
Adrian through the city, believing that the Prosecutor whom he respected so highly didn’t trust his skills as a policeman and was giving him an assignment he couldn’t possibly screw up, he quickly warmed to the task. It was quite clear that Hans Ernst was fond of the city he’d lived in all his life, and had even taken Adrian to meet his parents—who were just as tall and broad-shouldered as he was, if not more so.

That had been a rather… amusing afternoon.

Adrian enjoyed Hans’ exuberance and enthusiasm, and found most of what he told her about the city’s long history absolutely fascinating, she couldn’t help her thoughts from wandering.

Adrian smiled to herself as Hans pointed at a nearby office building, talking about how it was the oldest building in the district or something—she wasn’t really paying attention to it. That morning, she had seen Franziska off in the morning like she usually did (though the two of them had agreed after a mishap on Monday that no matter how good her intentions were, there was a perfectly good cafeteria in the Prosecutor’s Department, and Adrian really didn’t need to waste time making Franziska a lunch, especially when it was rather inedible). There had been something in her eyes, an intensity that had struck a chord deep within the older girl.

Ever since the two of them had admitted what they’d been harboring—guilt, responsibility, deep gratitude and admiration—on Saturday, something had changed. Something had been different… the air around the two of them had felt lighter, less burdened. It was incredibly easy to tell Franziska… well, tell her anything, and
Adrian had to be mindful not to let too much out.

The blonde woman could feel something in the air, a delightful tingle that made her shiver from head to toe like a mild electric shock. It was almost as if Franziska’s forceful personality were literally magnetic—though that was silly, of course. Still, the spark that
Adrian felt when her hand brushed the prodigy’s thin leather gloves was more than static electricity.

For two and a half years, the life of Adrian Andrews had been a cold one, devoid of any passion or intensity other than the one goal she clung to as fiercely as she could. The suicide of the woman she had relied on… had loved… left a gaping wound that lasted long after the bruises on her neck from the improperly made noose had faded.
Adrian could feel that wound growing steadily every day, a sinkhole that threatened to undermine the network of elaborately constructed walls she’d thrown up in defense of her already fragile mind.

She had woken up cautious, gone to bed cautious, and lived every second of every hour of every day like she’d been handling a deadly explosive device.
Adrian had been terrified of losing herself, of letting her guard down for just the wrong split second and having something happen that would jostle those walls, and everything would crumble. There had been no passion in her single-minded pursuit to protect the memory of Celeste Inpax from being used as just another piece of ammunition in the selfish, hateful rivalry between the two people who had killed her in the first place. Just cold, precise caution.

It had almost been easy. Matt Engarde and Juan Corrida were vain, selfish men, and calling them idiots would be doing the rest of the world’s morons a disservice. There was no passion in their lives either, not even in their rivalry. She would read Matt his ratings numbers, he would ask about Juan’s, and whether or not he was leading or not… he had shrugged it off with a wave and a sigh.
Adrian read those rating reports to him every week for two years, waiting for the slightest sign of intensity or passion or fire. But there was none.

The woman she had loved had been murdered over something that Matt Engarde would dismiss with a sigh and a wave exactly one hundred and twelve times before the end.

And yet, Adrian, though every part of the emotional being inside her that still could feel cried out at her to hate him and despise him and give in to that primal urge… she did not hate Matt Engarde, nor did she hate Juan Corrida. Hate was a passion—a luxury that she could not afford if she wanted to let Celeste Inpax finally rest.

It wasn’t until she plunged that golden knife into the chest of the man she had been pretending was her lover and felt his blood—hot, but not quite hot enough to sustain life—trickle down his suit and through her fingers, over her hand… that she allowed herself that final luxury and hated Juan Corrida with the last spark of passion left in her body. That night, she could almost feel those final embers flicker and die out, for what might have been forever.

The gaping wound had won. She was cold. Juan was dead, she had known Matt Engarde was the culprit, and now Celeste’s final words would remain silent for eternity. The drive—the obsession—that had sustained her for two years was gone. Celeste had been dead for two years, and the last scrap of her that
Adrian had been able to hold on to … had disappeared.

Then, she had met Franziska von Karma.

For two years, the only things she had seen Matt Engarde ever give a damn about were his image and his bank account—and even then, it was hardly impassioned.
Adrian’s life had been so utterly devoid of any sort of fervor that the sheer force of the intensity that radiated off the young prodigy had stunned her, overwhelmed her. It was startling and frightening and yet… not wholly unwelcome.

She had confessed to how she had framed Engarde, and as she told the determined prosecutor everything, felt it bubbling up inside of her once more. How much she hated Juan Corrida, how much she hated Matt Engarde… all the anger and grief and confusion and shame that Adrian had not let herself feel for two years poured back in a flood of emotion.

Franziska had taken it all in intently, calmly and confidently. She had reassured
Adrian that no matter what, she would get a guilty verdict for Matt Engarde tomorrow. That Adrian didn’t have to incriminate herself for the crime she’d committed if she didn’t want to. Every single word Franziska had said had been laced with a furor that suggested a deep burning desire within her, a confidence and determination that had been missing from Adrian’s life for far too long.

Adrian clung to that like it was the final life preserver thrown to her before she went down for the third time. It was her last chance.

On the stand, Miles Edgeworth—not Franziska—had revealed to the court every single thing that
Adrian had tried to conceal for the past two years, apparently in vain. Her disorder, her utter dependence on Celeste Inpax, and what the two men had done to her mentor to drive her to suicide. The last thing she’d sworn to do in Celeste’s memory had been an abject failure.

She had been accused of murder. Not only that, but she had been accused of the murder she knew Matt Engarde was responsible for. She would pay the price for his sins, he would get away free… and sigh about it, dismissing it with a wave. It hurt so badly she thought she would be literally torn to pieces… but she would not let that happen. The young prodigy’s passion had finally ignited the cold ashes she’d thought were all that remained.

She would not let Matt Engarde get away with it.

Even though she’d been innocent of Juan Corrida’s murder, she had committed a crime, and for that she would be punished.
Adrian had pleaded guilty to the charges, and had spent four months in jail, her most treasured possession a small scrap of paper with a phone number and a hastily written message to call if there was trouble.

For four months, she had been alone in the quiet gray walls with her thoughts. Slowly but steadily, she felt that wound that had threatened to consume her once upon a time start to close.
Adrian could feel a small bit of warmth in her hands and feet, subtle but growing.

After two years, there was someone who cared. Not cared for her—though
Adrian allowed herself brief fantasies that that was the case—but cared about something. And maybe… actually gave a damn about her. That was something she hadn’t remembered feeling in a very, very long time. However, old habits die hard, and over four months, Adrian convinced herself that the aura of passion and radiance around Franziska von Karma… it had been a fantasy. The strong, confident woman that had promised Adrian that Matt Engarde would be found guilty for what he’d done… was all in her head.

She hadn’t expected Franziska to pick up the phone. She certainly hadn’t expected to be invited to
Germany to meet face-to-face. Adrian had accepted, because she wanted to see Franziska again… and convince her rational self once and for all that the Franziska in her mind was just that—a fantasy. It wasn’t until the attorney herself had driven off the persistent cabbie that demanded a customer that Adrian had been in that presence again and realized that… she’d actually been underestimating it.

Adrian sighed to herself, smiling foolishly as she did so. Franziska was truly an amazing woman. Strong, intelligent, clever, determined… extremely beautiful. She had confessed to the American that she had cared about Adrian—in some manner or fashion of course. She had felt responsible for everything Adrian had gone through, and had wanted to protect her.

Adrian didn’t need a protector. She didn’t particularly want one, really, and didn’t want Franziska to worry herself with it. The beautiful prosecutor had given her something to cling to, the last breath of passion and hope that she clung to when everything else was shattered. For that alone, well… Adrian was eternally grateful.

After that conversation, there was that spark, that burning flame that was almost palpable, but it felt almost different to
Adrian. Like it changed, but she had. Her perception of it had.

Despite any dependence problems she knew she would have to deal with her entire life,
Adrian was an intelligent woman, who’d grown rather adept at knowing her emotions over the past few years. Things lingered with her—eyes meeting and staying locked together for a fraction of a second longer than they should have been, the brief brush of Franziska’s hand on hers as they both went for the doorknob at once, the subtle, muted scent of the shampoo she used to wash her hair right after a shower… things that lingered, pulled her thoughts back to them, and made her feel fluttery.

She’d felt like this before, but only once.

Adrian knew that she’d fallen for Franziska von Karma, and fallen hard.

Not that she dared tell her that, of course. For the five years she’d known Celeste—and the two and a half years since her death—Adrian had admitted being in love with the woman only once, and that had been the past Saturday. She’d realized it long before, of course, having recognized those feelings for three years before
Adrian had lost her. Never once had she said anything, merely content to smile and watch from the sidelines, never asking anything in return. Though Celeste had been coolly calculating in business, in private she was warm, affectionate, and trusted her younger protégé intimately.

That had been all the love
Adrian had wanted or needed, and because of that, it hadn’t hurt—well, not too much—to see Celeste fall for a young man whom, at the time, seemed perfectly sweet and likeable. Of course, things would change… and still, Adrian never, ever, admitted to Celeste Inpax what she felt for her. She didn’t see a need for it.

The blonde girl adjusted her glasses, dimly registering what Hans was saying as he walked towards a larger, squat building that looked rather official. She didn’t want to jeopardize anything… she didn’t want to risk that. With Franziska, as with Celeste, she’d be content to love and admire from afar.

Then again…? Though they were both intelligent, strong women with magnetic personalities, Franziska and Celeste were certainly different. Celeste had her warm side, and was mature and reasonable about all things. It often seemed that Franziska, clever and smart as she was, acted completely lost when dealing with more personal issues. While
Adrian had seen glimpses of a more affectionate nature in the attorney’s personality here and there, it was nothing compared to Celeste’s intimate warmth.

Was that a bad thing, though? They were two different women, with different goals and loves and secrets and needs. It would be ‘foolish’—
Adrian couldn’t help but softly grin as she imagined the fiery prosecutor’s voice saying the word—to assume otherwise. Celeste Inpax was not Franziska

“—von Karma,” finished up Hans, running a hand through his unruly brown hair, a beaming smile on his face.

Adrian quickly found herself jolted back to reality with a start, and stumbled over her thoughts and words for a few seconds before she actually became able of stringing together a coherent sentence. “E-excuse me, Hans? I… I’m sorry, I must have spaced out for a second, I didn’t hear what you said.”

Hans looked disappointed for a second, but quickly shoved it aside with a grin. “Okay! This building,” he pointed behind him to the official-looking structure from before, “used to be the Hamburg Court House for years, until they relatively recently moved to the big Police-Prosecutor-Court building you saw the other day. Now, this building is only used for civil trials these days… but I think you’d find it interesting to know who it’s named after.” The large officer smiled. “It’s the Wilhelm von Karma Courthouse.”

The American blinked twice. “…Wilhelm?”

Her guide nodded enthusiastically. “Oh yes! He was a very, very famous judge. He had the reputation of the cleverest, most impartial and fair judge in the entire country!”

“So… her legal skill really is inherited, after all.”
Adrian had heard about Franziska’s incredibly early entry into the world of law, but had never really known more than that. The beautiful German woman would always change the subject if Adrian ever brought up her family, and she wouldn’t press the issue. “Was her father a famous judge, too?”

Hans looked almost shocked. “No! You… you never heard of Manfred von Karma? Franziska never told you?!”

Taken back by his fervor,
Adrian flushed despite herself, shaking her head and adjusting her glasses out of habit. Hans almost looked wounded that she’d never heard the name of Manfred von Karma. “Er… I… I can’t say I’ve ever heard that name,” she admitted with a shrug. “What did he do?”

The young officer looked almost proud to be the one to tell her, standing up straight and making what looked like the beginnings of a salute before he remembered that he wasn’t addressing a superior on the force. “Manfred von Karma is Miss Franziska’s father! He was the greatest prosecutor this country—no, the world—has ever known! In his entire career, he only lost one case… his last. His victories were innumerable! He taught Miss Franziska to be a lawyer since she could read, and she has inherited his legal brilliance!”

“Since… since she could read? Hans, are you joking with me?”
Adrian asked with a soft, disbelieving laugh.

Shaking his head fiercely, Hans denied her question emphatically. “No, ma’am! Miss Franziska took her studies very seriously, and has lived her entire life as the sole successor to the von Karma legal name! That was how she was able to pass the bar exam when she was only 12, and start taking cases at 13!”

Adrian blinked again. “That’s… that’s… incredible.” I knew Franziska started young, but… that’s… I have no words. When I was sighing to myself over schoolgirl crushes, she was already arguing legal cases.

…that must not have been much of a childhood.

What must that have been like? To go through one’s life with such a drive, such a single-minded purpose and goal?
Adrian had only fallen into the entertainment managing business because she’d followed Celeste, she hadn’t grown up harboring a lifelong dream to do what she’d ended up doing. Even now, she hadn’t really thought about what she planned on doing for work, now that her client was spending the rest of his life in prison. To do what Franziska had done with her life was absolutely remarkable, but… Adrian didn’t really know if that would be what she wanted for herself. After all, it didn’t seem like there would be much room for anything extraneous or frivolous in the life of a young girl completely devoted to her studies. And sometimes the frivolous things were… well, they were nice to have.

Franziska was an incredible woman. The older girl sighed, finding herself thinking about how she stood, the how the light reflected off her hair when it was still wet…
Adrian sighed to herself with a small smile, wondering what Franziska was up to right now, and maybe allowing herself a slight fantasy that the prodigy was sparing some time out of her busy schedule to think of her in return.


On the other side of the city, Franziska von Karma was not in a good mood, had not been in a good mood for a day or two, and found her mood rapidly growing worse. Since she hadn’t planned on taking any cases while
Adrian was around, the Chief of Police had unceremoniously dumped the mid-year payroll calculations on her. Because, after all, she was a lawyer, which meant she was logical, which naturally meant that she was good with numbers and had no problem spending her valuable time making sure all the numbers in one column added up to equal the numbers in another column.

It was tedious, mind-numbingly simple work, but that wasn’t what bothered Franziska so much. She’d done tedious work before, and would likely do so in the future. It was a fact of life, even for someone as talented and skilled as her. No, she could deal with tedium and repetition in stoic perfection.

What bothered her was that… it was simple, and it was make-work, and it was just adding up numbers and making sure they were equal. And somehow, she kept getting it wrong.

That was absolutely unforgivable. But no matter how she tried, her mind kept slipping… kept wandering. To her. Franziska did not like it, and she could not understand it, but her finely honed mind and intellect that was her entire career and reputation was… troubled, somehow.

Franziska swore to herself as she finished with Detective Waldorf’s payroll and found that somehow, she’d come up with a sum in the first column that was one hundred and thirty-seven dollars more than what the second column said it should be. Frustrated, Franziska decided that Waldorf had done better-than-usual work so far this year, and deserved a bonus of precisely one hundred and thirty-seven dollars over what he would have normally received.

Fool. I am such a fool.

She had known everything about
Adrian’s issue, her dependency problem. And yet, she had fed it out of some stupid vainglorious desire to be needed… or a foolish sense of duty, a made-up obligation to a weak woman whom she should have cast aside and forgotten as soon as she’d finished with that case. That was what she’d been taught to do. That’s what she should have done.

And yet, that was precisely what she had not done. Adrian Andrews was here in
Hamburg on Franziska’s dime and at Franziska’s request. The two talked, they conversed, and for a brief second Franziska had almost started to trust the shy older woman. All the warning signs had been there, and yet Franziska had foolishly ignored them. There was something different in how Adrian looked at her, and there was only one explanation that made sense. After the death of Celeste Inpax, Adrian had now latched on to the nearest strong presence, a woman who had foolishly shown compassion to her.

Adrian was dependent on Franziska now, and instead of cutting her off and leaving her to her own devices—possibly forcing to actually grow strong instead of relying on the strength of others around her—the prosecutor had fed that dependence.

Even more infuriating, the young prodigy had almost begun to enjoy
Adrian’s presence before the realization of what was happening had hit her. She felt betrayed, almost, though she knew it was her own fault.

Perhaps it wouldn’t even be so bad…
Adrian, after all, couldn’t help it. If she had someone, she could function normally on her own. That… that wouldn’t be all that bad, reasoned Franziska—No. She would not be a replacement. She would not be conveniently used because she was there.

Suddenly, she tasted the salty-iron taste of blood on her lips, and with a start realized that she’d been biting her lip so hard that she’d pierced the skin, without even realizing it, so absorbed had she been in her thoughts. Her thoughts that kept infuriatingly wandering to that accursed woman.

Franziska sighed heavily, resting her head in her hands briefly. She would do thirty more, and then call it a day.


The blonde woman always got back to the small apartment before the prosecutor did, though being on her own for an hour or so was much more tolerable than being there the entire day. As she closed the door behind her (Franziska having lent her a replica key so she could come and go as she pleased),
Adrian smiled and laughed, at nothing in particular.

How could she occupy herself until Franziska returned, though? There was a big bookshelf along one wall that was packed with large editions of various books.
Adrian had looked through it on Sunday and not found anything that had caught her eye, though perhaps she’d missed something. It was worth a shot, at any rate.

Nevertheless, it didn’t look like there was anything she’d missed before (and seeing how thoroughly she’d searched the other day, that wasn’t too surprising). All the books were either in German or some sort of legal text that she wasn’t in much of a mood to peruse. When she was just about to give up, however,
Adrian saw a small, unmarked book off to the side in the corner that she’d missed before.

Grabbing it in a slender hand, she pulled it free of its companions and opened it. She made a face—sure enough, it was all in German. Adrian was about to replace it when she saw the tip of something white sticking out from between the pages, a small piece of cardboard. The young American turned to that page, and reflexively gasped in astonishment.

It was a playing card with an illustration of a seashell on it in light red. Though this one was slightly defaced to look like a person
Adrian thought she recognized but couldn’t quite place, it was unmistakably one of the calling cards that Shelly de Killer left at the scene of one of his “jobs.”

Placing the closed book on the top of the shelf,
Adrian looked down at the card in her hands, her eyes trailing over the deceptively peaceful-looking conch that symbolized murder. There were black lines drawn on it, to represent a face in silhouette… a face with strangely spiky hair that looked oddly familiar to the young woman, though she couldn’t attach a name to the figure.

Why… why does she have one of these cards?
The calling card that had been left by Juan Corrida’s body (and mistakenly picked up by the blonde American in one of her stronger lapses in judgment) had been confiscated as evidence by the police back in Los Angeles, and Adrian couldn’t really envision any of them—not even the absentminded detective who had investigated the case—doodling on a piece of crucial evidence like this. It had obviously come from someplace else, another time and probably another murder, and
Adrian slipped the card into her pocket, intending to ask Franziska about it when she returned home.

Adrian continued perusing the bookshelf fruitlessly for a few more minutes, though she didn’t expect to find anything (and, as a matter of fact, was correct in that assumption).

It was then that the door opened, slightly more forcefully than
Adrian had ever remembered it opening. “Oh, you’re home early!” Adrian said brightly, smiling at the younger woman.

Franziska was silent as she closed the door behind her, placing her purse and whip on the kitchen counter, and walked into the “living room” area, sitting down on the couch. “Hello, Adrian,” she said softly, and the blonde woman immediately felt a chill run down her spine like someone had dumped a bucket of ice-water on her. Something was wrong. “Are… are you feeling all right, Franziska?” She asked almost despite herself. She didn’t want to pry—it had just slipped out, like so much else did.

The blue-haired prodigy kept silent, breathing softly and slowly, looking straight at
Adrian—no, not at Adrian, at the card that had somehow found its way into her hands from her pocket. “You were playing with that card back in Los Angeles, weren’t you.” It wasn’t a question. With a start, Adrian looked down at the conch shell playing card she was frantically twirling in her fingers, a nervous reaction—she hadn’t been aware she’d been doing it, but couldn’t think of anything else to do. Something was very, very wrong.

Franziska continued speaking, her tone absolutely icy, and
Adrian felt the temperature in the room drop several degrees. “Even with how far you seem to have come, Adrian, you and I both know that there are some things that will never change about you. There are some things that you simply cannot change. Your dependency disorder is one of them. Though I do not claim to know what it feels like to be you, I am certainly capable of understanding that much. It is something you can work through, but it is something that will always be with you.”

Her eyes looked straight at
Adrian, drilling a hole through her, and the older girl couldn’t help but flinch reflexively. The American wouldn’t have thought it possible, but Franziska’s tone of voice got even chillier. “Adrian Andrews, I am not your guardian, nor am I responsible for you. What goes on inside that head of yours is absolutely none of my business. If you wish to be dependent on me, so be it.”

“I am not your big sister, or a mother figure. And, make absolutely no mistake,
Adrian,” her voice dropped to a whisper. “I will not be your replacement Celeste Inpax. Am I clear?”

If Franziska had walked up to
Adrian and punched her in the stomach as hard as she could, it likely would have felt less painful. The blonde woman was trembling fiercely, and she just made it to a nearby chair before her legs gave out completely, falling into it. Adrian took off her glasses, trying to adjust them in a comfortingly familiar gesture, but her hands trembled so severely that she dropped them onto the floor.

In all of her fantasies, she’d never once thought about this. Acceptance, apathy, hatred… but not this. A simple refusal—not to be the one she depended on, but… not Celeste. You… you couldn’t replace Celeste. She wasn’t. I don’t think she… I didn’t think of her that way. Did I? It… it hurts. Why does it hurt so much?
Adrian pressed her hand to her breast as she felt that familiar wound tear itself open.

I can’t have. I… Celeste is gone. I can’t get her back. Did I… was I… I couldn’t have been… was I?

For a second,
Adrian saw a flicker of concern cross Franziska’s features—did I imagine that? Did I imagine all of it? Was… was it just Celeste? Was I trying to make her my Celeste? —but it was quickly suppressed into an impassive, impartial, stone-faced look.

“I… it… it wasn’t…” stammered
Adrian, trying to compose herself and not having any real success. “You… Franziska… it wasn’t… like that, Franziska. I…” she swallowed, closing her eyes so that she wouldn’t have to see the other girl sitting across the room from her impassively. “I…”

Adrian’s voice was hoarse and trembling, like she would break down into tears at any moment. “I… you weren’t ever a replacement… a replacement Celeste, Franziska…”

“Oh?” Her tone hadn’t warmed any. “Is that so? Who was I, then? Your mother? The big sister you never had? The person who would take care of you and shelter you? I am not any of those, Adrian Andrews.”

“Stop… stop that…” whispered
Adrian softly. Franziska. I… you… you weren’t. I don’t… I don’t want someone to, to shelter me or take care of me. I’m not a—a child. I… I didn’t want you to worry about me or take responsibility for me. Please… please believe that.”

She started to find her voice, though the lump in her throat and the growing hole in her chest threatened to break her down even as she spoke. “Franziska… I don’t… I don’t want a mother figure, or a sister. I don’t want a protector. I don’t want a guardian, or someone who… who takes care of me. Please believe… believe me, Franziska,” pleaded the blonde woman.

“You… are different from Celeste. That much is… is obvious. I can’t bring her back, and though there’s a stupid, moronic part of me that wants to, I know that I shouldn’t. I should let Celeste rest in peace forever.”
Adrian’s eyes flashed with a sudden passion, though she still shivered, hugging herself to try and stave off the sudden cold. “I… I don’t want a Celeste. You aren’t. My replacement Celeste. I… I know I’m starting to rely on you, or maybe I already do and am just realizing it, but that’s not something I can help. It’s not something I can stop, even though I know it’s stupid and weak and want to get rid of it. I can’t do that, Franziska. I… can’t just cut it loose from me.”

Franziska… I… you… I don’t… I don’t need a protector. I don’t need a lawyer, I don’t need a guardian, I don’t need someone who has to take care of me. I don’t need a damn von Karma.” She said fiercely, desperately, and for once it was Franziska’s turn to look surprised.

Her voice softened, becoming a barely audible whisper, and she smiled sadly, single tears leaking out of the corner of her eyes. “I… I nee—I want… I need… Franziska. Not because you fill a role, or I’m imagining that you’re something… but… I need you because of… you.”

Adrian shook her head, her golden hair whipping around messily, but she didn’t care. “But… maybe… maybe then I should… I should go book my flight home. Maybe that’s best.”

This was why she’d been so careful and cautious for two years. Because the moment you let your guard down, you would get your heart broken.

Fantasies. That’s all they are.

She drew her arm across her face, wiping away the tears, looking around the chair for her glasses. “Do… do you think you could call them for me,” she sniffed. “I can’t… speak German to order plane tickets back to

Franziska was silently sitting there. Judging her. When Adrian had confessed her crime four months ago, Franziska had assured her that she would not judge her or think she was a horrible person—because it did not matter, it was irrelevant and had nothing to do with whether or not Matt Engarde was guilty.

And now she was judging her, and it was excruciating, and
Adrian wanted it all to just… go away.

“You… frustrate me.”

Adrian looked up, a bit startled to hear Franziska speak with what was clearly unbridled emotion in her voice, and saw the young prosecutor looking off to the side, cheeks deeply flushed. She paused for a moment before continuing. “When I was growing up and studying law, my father told me that there were exactly two emotions worth caring about in this world—fear and respect. A von Karma would make the defense fear her, and make her underlings respect her. Just as he demanded I fear him… and respect him.”

“Thanks… thanks to Miles, I also began to understand… you might call it affection. Responsibility. My duty to him as a big sister. …the love that a sister has for her brother. I learned those things as well. But… that was it.”

Franziska paused, gathering her thoughts in silence. “…emotions,” she said the word like it was a vile swear, “Are foolish and irrational. They make no sense. People with an overabundance of emotions are weak, and cannot function in this world.” She looked directly at
Adrian, her cheeks a dark, passionate red. “My job… what defines me, Franziska von Karma, is based on reason. Logic. I examine the facts, I piece together what happens bit by bit. There are rules, and guidelines. It is all rational and specific and it makes sense.”

“There is a large bookshelf in my office that is filled with legal briefs that talk about cases establishing precedent, obscure legal rules and terms, how the law proceeds in over twenty-five separate countries around the world. I have them all memorized, down to the page number. My reasoning and logic and intellect are absolutely first-rate. If there is something in this entire world I do not know—an obscure local law or legal precedent in a rural village in, in…
Sri Lanka or somewhere… I can look it up. I can research it. It is exact, it is rational, and it is law. It is what I have lived my entire life doing.”

She balled a gloved hand into a fist, slamming it down on the fabric of the couch next to her with a dull ‘thud.’ “So… I hope you understand exactly how frustrating it is to feel what I feel and not be able to explain it. I go into work… and I cannot concentrate. Since I met you, Adrian Andrews, I have found myself thinking about you far too much. My mind wanders to you every few minutes, and I… I do not know why.. Before this weekend, I knew exactly why that was—I felt responsible for you, like it was my duty to take care of you and protect you and apologize for what I’d done.”

“You, of course, told me exactly and in no uncertain terms that I did not have to be sorry or responsible for you anymore. That should have been enough. If you had been any other person, it would have been enough. But for some reason,
Adrian, I cannot stop thinking about you. You distract me. And…” Franziska swallowed, trying to compose herself. “I don’t know why. Before, I knew why I felt like I did. Now, I still feel that way and I can’t understand it.”

It almost seemed like she was the one about to break down into tears, and Adrian—despite herself—found that her heart was beginning to pound more heavily, threatening to break through and burst from her chest. “You vex me completely, Adrian Andrews. Because when I look at you, I feel… a flutter in my stomach, or a—a spark, and this is utterly foolish and should not be happening and I can’t explain it. It isn’t something that I can look up in my legal glossary, or research—and believe me, I have tried. It is… inexplicable, and it is new, and I…” she swallowed again. “I want it to stop distracting me from my work.”

“And… and I know I want it to stop distracting me, but when you just now said that you wanted to leave, it… it felt like somebody had shot me again.” She bit her lip hard, looking down at the carpet, her face red. “I don’t want you to leave. And that’s completely irrational, it doesn’t make sense, but that’s the way it is and I don’t understand why! ” At that, she stood up from her seat, shaking her head and balling her hands into fists. “I don’t understand why…” she repeated softly.

Without realizing that she was moving,
Adrian had crossed the room to stand in front of the other woman. Her hand found Franziska’s, and the feel of the thin leather glove, its texture and coolness, firmly grounded the blonde woman in reality—if only for a few more moments. “That’s… not all that unusual, Franziska. It’s… not like something is… wrong with you or anything. It… it happens.”

There was no warning before Franziska suddenly stepped forward, throwing her arms around Adrian in an awkward yet impassioned embrace that the other woman gladly and gently returned. “It doesn’t make sense,” sniffed Franziska, her voice muffled by
Adrian’s shoulder. “And… and you frustrate me. And now I’m hugging you, and von Karmas do not hug.

Adrian smiled softly. “I think there’s some evidence that contradicts your testimony…”

The younger girl sniffled again. “I’m hugging you—and that frustrates me, too. It doesn’t make sense.” There was a brief pause. “And… I think I just stepped on your glasses.”


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