Friday night was bar night, and had been since Ema's first month on the force. On good weeks, this meant joining the other detectives for beer and burgers at the homey little dive near the station; on bad weeks, this meant holing up alone in a hotel bar downtown, where the lights and music stayed low and she was unlikely to see anyone she knew. As a bonus, the vending machine in the lobby offered four flavors of Snackoos.
Tonight she was beyond the help of Snackoos, but she bought a bag of the chocolate ones, anyway, settled in at the end of the bar, and ordered a rum and Coke. The bartender knew her well enough to leave her alone, so she was left to brood into her drink in near-silence broken only by murmured conversations at the tables and quiet piano music. Good. She wanted to brood.
Forensics had now rejected Ema four times. This would require at least four drinks.
Halfway through her second, a woman with icy pale hair, icier poise, and heels that tapped loudly even against the carpet helped herself to a bar stool only one space away from Ema's, despite the emptiness of the rest of the bar. Ema tried to glower at her but didn't have the energy.
"Gin," the woman said crisply, and there was something naggingly familiar about her. Ema narrowed her eyes and crunched a handful of Snackoos as the woman selected from her top-shelf options. Clearly she was wealthy; maybe Ema had seen her on television. She had the presence for it.
It wasn't until she noticed the whip coiled at the woman's side that Ema felt the pieces snap into place. "Excuse me," she said, suspecting that she would have kept her mouth shut one drink ago, "are you Franziska von Karma? I mean, the Franziska von Karma?"
She almost added "Mr. Edgeworth's sister" but wasn't quite tipsy enough; besides, that crush was long over, and Ema knew what it was to have a highly accomplished sibling. Lana hadn't been out of prison more than a year before her new private detective agency turned a profit twice Ema's salary.
The woman's gaze roved over Ema as if looking for cracks, and Ema barely resisted the impulse to pull her jacket closed. When she was on the verge of returning grumpily to her Snackoos, the woman said, "I am. And you are?"
"Ema Skye. Homicide detective." Ema stuck her hand out and was a little surprised when Franziska accepted it, squeezing cool leather against Ema's palm. Feeling her face heat up, she added, "You're kind of a big name. I mean, you're an international law all-star."
For a moment, Franziska appeared pleased; then she took a long sip of her gin and frowned as it left her lips. "INTERPOL must be reminded of this. When I return from this ridiculous mockery of an assignment, I will be certain to whip the cobwebs from its collective brain."
Ema cocked her head. "Which parts of that were figurative?"
"None of them."
"Ah." Eyeing the whip, Ema ventured, "So you're not having a good day either, huh?"
Franziska took another long drink, nearly draining the glass, and signaled for another. "Have your talents also been squandered on foolhardy cases?"
"Pretty much, yeah. I'm a forensic scientist, and they've banished me to Criminal Affairs." Ema poked at her ice cubes with her swizzle stick. "I mean, I've known what I wanted to do since I was a kid, and I went to university for it and everything. In Belgium."
"Are you incompetent?"
"No!" Having raised her voice well above the bar's usual acceptable volume, Ema cleared her throat and forced herself quieter: "I know what I'm doing. I did just fine in university. But geez, you get a little nervous and screw up one test, and suddenly they're all, 'Why don't you just be a detective, Ema?'"
Franziska slid her finger up and down the side of her glass, wiping away water condensation. She addressed her hand as she said, "Like a house of cards, one mistake is all that is required to destroy perfection."
With a shrug, Ema finished her drink. Another quickly took its place. "I don't care about being perfect. This is my passion."
For several seconds, Franziska looked at her as if she had the wrong number of noses. Even when the rest of her expression passed into idle curiosity, Franziska's brow remained furrowed. "Then take your passion elsewhere. If you have the talent, you will easily find a position in a less dysfunctional city."
Ema shook her head. "I've got a lot of history here. Why did you take a case you hate?"
"Hmph. A von Karma does not back down from a challenge, even a profoundly stupid one."
"And Skye Style means not giving up, even when everyone else tells you to."
They sipped their way through a lull, during which Franziska progressed to her next drink. "This's my third, too," Ema said helpfully. "I mean, in case you were trying to catch up."
This earned her a snort and another silence, until Franziska rested her chin in her hand and muttered, "Perfect record. Five years."
Ema suspected that some sort of comment was in order. The best she came up with was, "That's a long time."
"It was also a long time ago," Franziska replied coolly. "And there is more to being a prosecutor than a perfect record of convictions."
While her voice sounded convincing, her gloves strained around her knuckles as she clutched her glass. Ema tried a pep talk: "Well, of course there is. Who cares if you lose a few cases, as long as you're still out there nailing criminals when it really counts? You're a legend in law enforcement!"
In return came a noise between a snort and a snarl. "Then why am I prosecuting this pathetic pack of idiotic smugglers whose foolishness is exceeded only by that of our bumbling new investigators, who have made me long for the relative competence of Scruffy?"
This was quite a lot of words to manage after so much gin. Ema started to applaud, then, under Franziska's withering glare, folded her hands on the bar and said, "I dunno. They're assholes, I guess. Like the people I work for. Complete assholes."
"Assholes," Franziska agreed, with bared-teeth emphasis on the "a." Ema suspected that she didn't use the word often. Curling her fingers into a fist around her whip, she added, "And I never once defeated that fool Phoenix Wright in court. Never once!" Her fist hit the bar with enough force to make the drinks hop. "The fool foolishly disbarred himself rather than face me again!"
Only piano music filled the silence until the rum encouraged Ema to say, "You know Mr. Wright?"
"I did. We will not speak of him." Franziska glared at her gin as she sipped it, as if daring it to slosh out of line. "He is a fool and a—"
"But you're not really mad at him." Catching sight of the whip, Ema hastened to add, "For getting disbarred, I mean. He'd still be in court if it weren't for that glimmerous fop."
A series of expressions tugged at Franziska's face, beginning with a bellicose scowl and ending with a quirked eyebrow. "What ridiculous American word is 'glimmerous'?"
"You know. All with the glimmery-glammery-bling." Ema attempted jazz hands. "The opposite of what a real prosecutor should be, which is simmerous." Peering critically over her glass at Franziska, she added, "You're simmerous."
"This is a compliment?"
Ema nodded, nearly ruining a sip-in-progress. "You're cool and collected, but passionate. Fire and ice, not silly sparkles, you know?" Ideas fizzed in her brain like pop rocks. "I bet we'd be an amazing team! I'd break out the science and collect rock-solid evidence, and then you'd take it to court and catch criminals in a steel cage of logic!"
Somewhere in there, her hand had ended up on Franziska's knee. She laughed nervously and retracted it, offering access to her Snackoos as a distraction.
Franziska's eyebrow arched higher, then drifted downward with the rest of Franziska into a more thoughtful pose. "Bartender," she called, without taking her eyes off Ema, "you will bring me more gin."
"Also rum," said Ema. "With Coke."
Raising her mostly empty glass, Franziska said, "To assholes." Ema echoed the sentiment and clinked her glass, then polished off the last of her drink.
They sipped their next round in companionable, Snackoo-sharing silence until Ema worked up the nerve to say, "You know, you're a lot cooler than anybody in the Prosecutor's Office now. I wish I'd be been at the LAPD when you were prosecuting for us, but I think I was—" she counted twice on her fingers— "sixteen or something. Damn, I should've been a forensics prodigy. I mean, an official one."
Franziska's mouth angled into a sharp smile. "You're babbling, Ema Skye."
"I do that sometimes," she agreed, "when I'm excited or I've kind of got a crush or I'm going to stop talking now." Face blazing to the point that she expected smoke to pour out of her ears, Ema spun clockwise on her bar stool to stare at a fascinating spot on the wall. Maybe some of those words had stayed in her head instead of traipsing out on her tongue. Maybe Franziska hadn't been paying attention.
And maybe on Monday she'd find herself appointed to the forensics team, and the chief would give her a unicorn that sprayed luminol from its horn.
When she felt a tap on her shoulder, she stiffened and refused to turn. A moment later the whip wrapped around her foot rest and spun the stool back the other way.
Franziska's was now an especially simmerous look, and the flush in her cheeks looked too deep to be entirely the fault of the alcohol. "I'm staying here," she said, rubbing a gloved finger around the edge of her glass. "Twelfth floor."
Ema slammed back the last of her rum so quickly that she coughed, feeling heat spread down her throat into her chest. "Is that—" she managed before she had to cough again, this time with enough force to knock her sunglasses down over her face. She'd had smoother moments.
Franziska reached over and pushed her glasses back up on her head. "An invitation, yes."
Words somersaulted through Ema's brain. The first ones out of her mouth were, "Then why are we still here?"
The bartender suggested that their tabs might have something to do with it.
They crossed the lobby together to the elevators, Franziska walking slowly to preserve a dignified balance, Ema stumbling giddily ahead, behind, and around. Ema's nerves sang; when had she last done anything like this? She hadn't felt like this in years—like she'd never failed a test, never been told she wasn't good enough. When had she last looked forward to something with any expectation of getting it?
For a moment she hesitated as the elevator doors opened, half-afraid Franziska would change her mind, but this was met with a crack of the whip and an impatient command to hurry up. She hurried.
The elevator ceiling was mirrored, giving Ema a glimpse of her own flushed face and unruly hair. As she craned her neck for a better look, the doors closed, and Franziska leaned back against the wall nearest her. When Ema met her gaze, she suddenly understand what was meant by a "come-hither look."
Franziska smelled of alcohol and sweat and a musky perfume; she tasted mostly of gin when Ema kissed her. Her fingers tangled in Ema's hair, pulling an already messy bun into further disarray. Her other hand slid under Ema's vest and shirt, leaving a trail of twitching muscles where her leather gloves stroked bare skin.
Ema hummed and let her hands glide up Franziska's thighs, pushing the skirt higher as she went. The alcohol buzzing through her system made the texture of the tights fascinating; Ema swept her fingertips in waves and whorls from knee to hip, then paused to puzzle out where that dinging noise was coming from. Abruptly the floor lurched, and Franziska's hand fisted in her hair to pull their faces apart.
"Out of the elevator." Without waiting for Ema to comply, Franziska nudged her out into the hallway, where she wobbled expectantly. As they stumbled together toward one of the rooms, Ema managed to undo both large buttons on Franziska's jacket.
Franziska pushed her away and lashed her whip twice against Ema's backside, then turned to swipe her card through the lock, tongue poking out in concentration. Ema rubbed the sore spots and said, "Ooh, assault. My ass is a crime scene now. I'm gonna have to dust for prints."
"Just shut up," Franziska hissed. When the door finally clicked open, she pulled Ema in behind her.
The room was spacious and impressively decorated, like nothing Ema had stayed in since the end of her sister's lucrative prosecuting career. She was still taking in the decor when Franziska pushed her up against the wall, knocking her sunglasses off, and went for a two-pronged attack, hands on her buttons and mouth on her throat. Ema lost interest in the furnishings and had only half a thought to spare for how quickly Franziska had peeled her gloves off.
Her fingers weren't cooperative enough to undo the bow at Franziska's throat, nor to navigate the jacket over the puffy sleeves; instead Ema hiked up Franziska's skirt and tugged down the tights and underwear beneath it. Franziska hummed approval against her jaw and shifted her legs apart.
It had been a while since Ema had done this—with Amélie, who had decided she was only experimenting, after all, and Ema did not want to think about her right now—but it wasn't as if she didn't get plenty of practice touching herself. Still, Ema's hand trembled as it brushed bare skin, exploring angles and curves on its way down to a thick thatch of curls.
Ema's scarf fluttered to the floor. Franziska's hands traced along her collarbones and down her sides, parting her shirt as they went. When Franziska's hands slid up her back and unhooked her bra, Ema shrugged her left shoulder until her arm came mostly free of its layers of sleeves. Her right hand she kept between Franziska's thighs, cupping her vulva.
Franziska's slick-wetness would have let Ema's fingers slip easily inside, but Ema just wanted to explore the outside first: each fold to its edge, each soft line branching from the clitoris. She smiled when she felt Franziska's hips buck against her. Heat coated her hand.
Then Franziska bit Ema's lip, just hard enough to hurt, and growled, "That is enough teasing."
"What's the magic word?"
Franziska bit again before pushing her tongue into Ema's mouth, where its motions were, in fairness, magical.
Three of Ema's fingers twisted inside and found Franziska simmering hot. Ema angled her knuckles and stroked until she heard Franziska hiss, then ground her thumb in slow circles around Franziska's clit.
"Keep doing that." Franziska's voice welled up from deep in her chest and broke on its way through her throat. "Change nothing."
Ema kept going, quietly basking in the knowledge that, yeah, she still had it. She rubbed steady circles until Franziska arched her spine and dug her nails into Ema's back. The brooch at the center of the bow pressed against the hollow of Ema's throat.
She was expecting Franziska to be loud, but all she got was a grunt and an armful of suddenly boneless prosecutor. The wall went from a nice balance aid to a necessary one.
When Franziska straightened, flushed and wobbly, Ema withdrew her hand and sucked the stickiness from her fingers. "Hmm. Early analysis indicates that the subject is definitely turned on."
"Your mannerisms are ridiculous," Franziska said, but she was breathing too heavily to keep her tone crisp. "And you are still wearing your silly short trousers."
Ema grinned. "So why don't you help me out of them?" With a flourish, she tossed her right shoulder and sent her jacket flying, her vest falling, and her shirt tangling with a bra strap around her wrist. Several seconds of clumsy extrication later, she tugged loose what was left of her messy ponytail and flopped backward onto the bed.
She hit the mattress well ahead of her personal sense of gravity, which lurched wildly before catching up. The ceiling was still swirling gently when she raised her hips to let Franziska tug the fabric clear of them.
Cool air on her abdomen made Ema feel exposed enough to fold her arms over her it. The urge to make excuses for her Snackoo-padded belly faded quickly when she saw how Franziska was looking at her—eyelids low, lips parted, cheeks dark.
"Shoes," said Franziska. Ema tried to kick them free and succeeded in getting them to dangle from the ties around her ankles. After some muttering about Ema's overly thorough knot-tying, Franziska finally guided one capri leg past a shoe, which remained behind like an awkward anklet. The other leg stayed bunched above Ema's foot.
Ema sighed. "Why is getting naked so har—ooh."
All her attention shifted to the tongue dragging its way up her thigh. Ema tensed and squirmed, earning herself a nip to the sensitive skin where her leg met her torso. Smirking, Franziska moved to join her on the bed, then paused, frowned, and retreated.
There came hopping noises and what sounded like a few well-chosen words in German, followed by a bundle of tights and underwear flying into the far wall. When Ema rose up carefully on her elbows for a better angle on events, Franziska crawled over her, still wearing her shirt and jacket and with her skirt hiked up around her waist.
"No fair," said Ema. "You've still got too many clothes on."
"Then get me out of them." Resting her knees on either side of Ema, Franziska caught one of her nipples and tugged it to a hard point. Between this and the disadvantage of working with complicated clothing from a compromised position, Ema managed only to unbutton most of the shirt before Franziska moved on to ever-more-distracting interactions with her breasts.
Ema's back arched at a particularly firm scrape of teeth. "You get you out of them," she panted. "Since you're cheating."
Franziska wagged a finger. "I am not cheating. I am merely taking advantages of all advantages presented to me."
"Oh, is that how it works?" With a sly grin, Ema grabbed Franziska by the hips and wriggled down until her legs hung off the bed and her face rested directly beneath Franziska's thighs. She nuzzled their apex and said, "Then you'd better take advantage of what I'm offering here while you take your top off."
She felt Franziska shaking above her as she traced patterns with her mouth, catching folds between her lips, alternately flicking her tongue and lapping slowly. Clothing arced through her peripheral vision and landed on the furniture. When she heard the unhooking of a bra clasp, Ema sealed her lips around Franziska's clit and sucked it.
Franziska came subtly again, shuddering, with no outward sign but harsh breaths and rippling muscles. Ema lapped up some of her wetness before working her way back to where she had been on the bed. Her face felt half-soaked.
Above her, Franziska was now nearly naked; the skirt remained like a misshapen tutu, and she hadn't done anything about the bow around her throat, either; no doubt it was much more complicated than Ema's ankle ties. Its ruffles obscured her breasts, so Ema reached up and nudged it aside to stroke their contours, cup their weight.
Franziska laughed low in her throat and said, in a tone that fed the throbbing between Ema's legs, "Will you wear me out before I have enjoyed making you writhe, Ema Skye?"
"Wouldn't dream of it." Ema lay back with her hands behind her head for good measure. "Your turn."
No touch of Franziska's was entirely gentle; her fingertips came with nails and her lips with teeth. Maybe it was the rum making every edge a little fuzzier, but Ema reveled in all of it: the pinches, the nips, the licks that struck her clit like lashes. When Franziska's fingers pumped hard and fast inside her, Ema loudly discovered the line between "fingering" and "finger-fucking."
To her gasping frustration, the pace slowed. "You will tell me," said Franziska, somewhere between a question and an order, "if I'm hurting—"
"No!" Enough of Ema's brain fog cleared to make her aware that she ought to elaborate. "I mean, yeah, of course I would. And I'm not, so keep doing that."
Thrusting resumed with renewed vigor. Ema closed her eyes and rocked her hips in time with it, letting a moan ride out on every breath.
Whims had steered Ema well so far tonight, so as she felt pleasure begin to focus tight and hot inside her, she indulged another one: "Say—yes, there!—say something in German."
There was a pause, during which Franziska hit a spot that set off tiny fireworks behind Ema's eyelids. At length she said, dryly, "Etwas."
"Mmm. God, Franziska!" Ema fisted the sheets and began to writhe. "More?"
Ema Skye never came quietly.
Afterward she was sweaty, sticky, and sated, content to lie sprawled on the mattress and let alcohol and afterglow mingle in her veins. The overhead lights seeped in golden when she closed her eyes. "I'm gonna pass out now," she announced, and did.
Ema woke up less hungover than she'd expected. Other momentarily surprising aspects of the process included being in a strange bed with high thread count sheets and a mostly naked, internationally acclaimed prosecutor, who had her hand on Ema's breast. Last night's memories danced with fiery clarity in her hand, burning away any nascent disbelief.
This was not the sort of thing Ema Skye usually did, but she also didn't usually run into hot lawyers who flirted with her over too many drinks. Maybe it just wasn't something she did often enough.
A pale lock of hair fell across Franziska's face. Ema tucked it gently behind her ear, brushing her cheek along the way, and watched as Franziska's eyes drifted halfway open. For a moment Ema's stomach tensed—what if she was angry, annoyed, regretful—but Franziska only smiled, almost without any sharp edges to it, and angled her head for a kiss.
Her breath was terrible. So was Ema's, most likely. Ema chose not to care.
The beeping of the hotel alarm clock broke through what was becoming a very pleasant daze. Franziska made a muffled noise and flailed about with her arm until the beeping stopped.
There it was, then. It was tomorrow, and Ema had a job—a stupid job, and that glimmerous fop had her testifying about a stupid case that not even guerrilla forensics testing had made interesting—and she would just have to get dressed and deal with it. The clock gave her an hour to make the transition from resentment to resignation.
Muttering something about incompetent investigators, her valuable time, and the former's wasting of the latter, Franziska stumbled out of the bed and toward the bathroom, pausing every few steps to kick clothing out of her way. Midway she halted to unbunch and unzip her skirt.
"Don't forget your ruffly thing," Ema called from the bed. Franziska attacked its knot with a deftness that had eluded her the night before.
When Ema attempted to sit up, she discovered that she was somewhat more hungover than she'd first thought and also that her shoes were still attached to her ankles, along with one leg of her capris. Annoyingly, this situation had not resolved itself while she slept, but at least getting naked was easier now that she was sober.
"I must be in court this morning by nine," said Franziska, finally bare-throated, "or I would still be in bed."
"Don't worry about it," Ema replied, halfway barefoot. "I have to work today, too."
They met each other's eyes, mirrored each other's wry smile.
"I believe that your vest is under the ottoman," Franziska said.
Ema dropped her shoes to the floor and stretched her legs. "Thanks. I think those are your tights on the TV. Not on TV, I mean. Just hanging on the one in the room."
"The alternative would be unfortunate, yes."
As Franziska resumed her progress toward the bathroom, Ema added, "You know, maybe they gave you this case because you're the only one they trust to deal with the mess."
Franziska paused, hand curved around the edge of the door. After a silent beat, she said, "And do you think that you might be kept in Criminal Affairs for the same reason?"
Ema stared at the space where she had been long after Franziska slipped inside the bathroom. Upon hearing the gentle roar of water from the shower, she turned to the mirror and told her reflection, "Seriously, if you don't let me join forensics, I'm leaving. Any police force would be lucky to have Ema Skye analyzing its clues."
Naked mirror Ema didn't look stern enough, so she continued practicing. If she could bluff like this, she could bluff anywhere.
When Franziska returned, naked and damp, squeezing her hair with her towel, Ema asked, "How long are you in town?"
"Who knows long it may take to guide the judge past the bumbling failures of those clowns I have been forced to accept as investigators?"
Ema rolled over on her back and watched upside-down as Franziska bent over and rooted around in a dresser drawer. "I'm a witness for the prosecution today," she said. "Bank robbery-slash-homicide. Guy shot his accomplice and made faces at a camera he thought he'd cut the power to."
"Ha! That fool isn't worth the effort of a trial. You will be finished by noon." Franziska straightened and turned, bra in hand. Her mouth curled slyly. "I'll be calling for an hour-long recess for lunch."
"You know, I was just thinking I wanted to do lunch in Defendant Lobby 3. It's soundproof."
"Shall we call it a date, Ema Skye?"
Ema grinned. "I'll put it on my calendar."