Follow the Fool
Six months had passed since Franziska von Karma had last seen Adrian Andrews, in the middle of a crowded airplane terminal at the
It had been five months since they had last talked, a brief conversation with a slightly-panicked
Other than that, the pair hadn’t been in contact since the middle of September, and it was now a week and a half into January. Of course, Franziska von Karma rarely did anything unintentionally, and this long silence was no different. The day she had driven
Her time in
She had thought Miles to be weak, lost, in need of help when he had vanished, feigning his own suicide. She had realized, in the end, that Miles had actually been correct—that she, and her perfection-obsessed father, had been wrong. Franziska had realized that she had quite a bit of thinking ahead of her. Unlike her little brother, though, Franziska would not need to fake her death to ensure precious time to contemplate the true meaning of being a prosecutor. No, she would continue with her everyday life of putting the scum of the world behind bars… she could deal with minor distractions, after all.
“…but not you, Adrian,” Franziska had sighed softly. Why was this so damn hard to do? She rarely put this much effort into preparing her opening statements for a trial, but even with all her preparation, every word was a labor to get out. “You distract me, Adrian Andrews. I notice things about you that I rarely notice on anyone. I… cannot stop thinking about you. I cannot stop thinking about how I feel about you, and that is even more frustrating than the rest of it. But what’s worse…? I enjoy being distracted by you.”
Something hurt. Not the way that the bullet had hurt as it pierced her shoulder, no, but a far more insidious, subtle hurt like someone was sliding a semi-solid stiletto right between her ribs. Franziska shook her head—foolish thoughts of a foolish woman—willing each and every word out of her lips. “And that is something I cannot afford right now,
“There are still things I must do, things I must learn—and I must do them alone. I cannot afford to be so… distracted by having a… relationship,
Though she was outwardly composed,
Franziska nodded. “We must part as friends. Nothing more.” She’d never quite imagined that she could say something that had such a personal impact on herself, but the words were out there, and the stiletto was being twisted. Refusing to let herself panic, Franziska searched for the right words hastily, frustrated that they weren’t coming to her as naturally as they normally did. “
“Franziska, it’s…it’s… romance! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but rationality and reason don’t really factor into it!” Franziska was unable to keep her eyes averted any longer, and looked directly over at the blonde woman.
The prodigy bit her lip. “I’m… aware.
She sighed softly. “I do understand, though. I will not… ask you to wait for me.”
No sooner had the words left her mouth than the shorter woman had responded with a slight shake of her head, “I will.”
Franziska blinked in surprise. “
“It wouldn’t,” smiled
There was silence in the room, the two women sitting opposite one another, neither of them speaking.
At last, Franziska slowly spoke, breaking the quiet. “I will be in touch with you. You can… always call me if there’s trouble… you know that, right?”
“I will be in touch with you,” repeated the prodigy. As
Franziska von Karma turned her chair around from where she was doing some paperwork relating to her most recent conviction in court and looked out the window. Six months… twenty-three weeks, thirty-two trials (all of them perfectly guilty, confessing so on the stand). It felt somehow like both an eternity and an instant at the same time, which made no sense at all. The January afternoon sky was dark and covered in clouds, and all the forecasts were for a snowstorm that night. Perhaps it would be best if she didn’t go home, just for convenience’s sake.
She had been spending more time at work lately—even more than she usually did. There was something about her apartment nowadays that seemed lonely and foreboding. After growing up in the sprawling halls of the von Karma estate, it seemed foolish to think that such a small, Spartan apartment could ever seem so cavernously empty and cold… but it did. Franziska’s queen-sized bed that she’d grown up sleeping in was suddenly too wide and too big for just her.
It was frustrating to think that Adrian Andrews could still be such a distraction five months after they’d last spoken to one another.
The prosecutor’s gaze kept flicking back to the dark, heavy sky. It was a timeless sky, the sort of cloud cover that could make three in the afternoon feel like nighttime. While working, Franziska had lost track of time… what time was it, anyway? Her stomach was starting to rumble in protest, and she couldn’t remember eating anything at all, today. So, dinner it was.
There was that new Italian place a few blocks down from the Department building, but—they’d gone out for Italian that first Saturday… Franziska sighed to nobody in particular. There really didn’t seem to be any point in the self-imposed silence now, really. The two of them hadn’t been in contact for almost half a year, and these silly memories and foolish emotions hadn’t ebbed at all. If she closed her eyes and let her iron composure wander for a few seconds, she could feel the warmth of the other woman’s head resting on her shoulder and taste the ever-so-faint hints of strawberries on her lips…
If she’d been the sort of person who allowed herself such flights of weakness, Franziska would have chuckled to herself, shaking her head from side to side. I’m such a fool.
Yes, she was still being distracted… but she’d succeeded, hadn’t she? Over the many months since she’d decided to follow her younger brother’s example, it had dawned on Franziska that there wasn’t a true ‘defining line’ between where she had been and where she had sought to be. It wasn’t as though she would wake up one day and suddenly know exactly what it meant to be a prosecutor once and for all.
It was a slow path, a steady evolution. It was continuous—one could not expect to remain rigid and inflexible, for then one would never learn anything. Perhaps the entire key was adaptation, then… adapting to the situation. Including distractions.
Franziska stood, putting on her warm black coat—von Karma or not, she was human, and it was rather chilly outside. Neatly arranging the paperwork into piles that she would finish later, she exited her office, locking the door behind her out of habit. There was a strange weight in the pocket of her coat… reaching into the pocket, Franziska was puzzled to find the red cellular phone she (theoretically) used for all of her hypothetical personal calls. She hadn’t remembered picking this up… oh well, there wasn’t really any point in putting it back. There was no harm keeping it on her.
With a soft beep, the elevator’s doors opened—there was a figure inside, a large, broad-shouldered man in a long white coat. When he saw her, Hans Ernst smiled broadly. “Evening, Miss Prosecutor.”
The prodigy nodded in response, stepping into the car beside him. “Good evening, Patrolman.” She paused, shaking her head and giving the slightest of embarrassed smiles. “Forgive me… it’s Detective now, isn’t it?”
Hans grinned again, reaching into the coat pocket and pulling out his shiny new badge that he seemed fond of flashing to anybody who would look at it in the two or so weeks since his promotion. “It is, Miss Prosecutor! Thanks for remembering!” The good-natured policeman laughed heartily. “I’ve been brushing up on my skills by watching old detective movies!”
Franziska was about to say that she didn’t think those were quite the best resources for honing one’s crimesolving abilities, but before she could speak, the tall detective launched into what was clearly a well-rehearsed routine, complete with stereotypical
Despite the relatively small, enclosed space, Franziska had nonetheless managed to get quite enough power into her strike, causing the young man to yelp and jump back in a mixture of pain and fright. The prosecutor held the whip above her head threateningly, an absolutely livid scowl on her face.
“Don’t you ever say that word, Detective!” threatened the prosecutor, giving a tug on her lash to emphasize the command.
Trying to shrink back into the corner of the elevator (not an easy thing to do with his size), a terrified Hans shook his head, holding his hands up in front of his face protectively. “W-w-w-what word?!” he stammered. “P-pal?!” When Franziska made a motion like she was going to repeat the strike, he nodded furiously. “O-okay! I won’t say it! I won’t say it!”
In one smooth motion, the whip was curled and tucked under Franziska’s coat at her side. “Good,” said the prodigy calmly (the silent threat never leaving her voice or face, though) as the doors opened on the ground floor, throwing the frightened and confused detective a curt nod as she exited the elevator.
Franziska pulled the large coat around her as she stepped into the frigid evening air, turning right and walking down the street. Perhaps she would find a new establishment… somewhere to eat that wouldn’t distract her so much?
Then again… maybe distractions weren’t so bad after all. It seemed more and more likely that she couldn’t entirely avoid them, anyway. But she’d managed… and she would continue to manage.
Her hand was cold—looking down, Franziska found that she’d pulled the red cell-phone from its nesting place in her pocket. The prosecutor stopped walking, frowning to herself as she idly tapped through the different menu options, because she hadn’t remembered grabbing it in the first place (nor did she remember ever intending to do these things).
The very first name in the list, illuminated in bright blue letters, shone brightly through the darkening winter evening. A. Andrews.
…her thumb hovered over the ‘call’ button hesitantly, though Franziska willed it to not descend. Did she need more time? Was she… ready? Can I adapt?
A brief fleck of white passed by her vision, and Franziska reflexively looked up to the slate-gray sky as the snowflake was joined by thousands of thousands of its brethren. The white particles lazily drifted through the sky, catching the muted light of the city streetlamps. All around her, the world seemed quieter, hushed somehow. The prodigy stood there for a moment as snowflakes alighted upon her face and blue-gray hair and nose and lips that still bore the faint taste of strawberries.
Franziska smiled softly at nothing in particular, raising the cell-phone to her ear and pressing the ‘call’ button.