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Lady's Undershirt

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"I wonder if Ambassador Alba has an interest in crossdressing?" - Franziska von Karma.


 

"As you can see," Edgeworth was saying, not even trying to hide the smugness in his voice as he watched Shi-Long Lang scowl openly "I proved yet again that you were about to arrest an innocent man. A bothersome fool, perhaps, but still not a murderer."

"Yeah, that's right! You tell him, Edg- hey!" Larry protested. "You don't talk like that of the Steel Samurai."

"Oh, quit whining," Edgeworth replied, crossing his arms over his chest. "And I shall never acknowledge you as the Steel Samurai!"

"But, Edgey!" Larry began protesting, only to trail off with a yelp as Franziska's whip cracked on his back.

"Enough with your foolishness," she snarled at him before turning back to Edgeworth. "It is time we finally get this investigation going. We have foolishly fooled around long enough. And, Miles Edgeworth," she added "I do believe you have an undergarment on your person that most certainly does not belong to you. Or are you planning on autographing it before returning it to its rightful owner?"

Edgeworth visibly shuddered. "Absolutely not!" he said, handing the lady's undershirt they had found in the fireplace of Ambassador Alba's office back to said rightful owner as quickly as he could without actually shoving it in her hands.

"Oh, but Edgey-poo, I wouldn't mind if you signed… wait a moment," Oldbag muttered, taking the undershirt to look at it more closely, "this is not mine!"

Everyone turned to stare at her. "Not yours?" Edgeworth repeated "but that is, most definitely, a lady's undershirt. The one you left to dry in front of the fireplace."

"Yeah, that's the one who made us-" Gumshoe trailed off at Edgeworth slight cough. "I mean, that's what made Mr. Edgeworth realize there is a secret passage in the fireplace, pal!"

Oldbag fumed. "What do you think, that I can't recognize my own undershirt? Ha! I'm not senile and I can tell my undershirt from another, the nerve of you whippersnappers to even try to tell me what's mine and what's not! Back in my day young men were much more polite and they wouldn't make such rude remarks I really didn't expect even my Edgey-poo to doubt-"

"Fine, fine!" Edgeworth snapped, desperate to make her stop talking. "We believe you! It's not yours!"

"Not hers?" Lang snorted. "And who would it belong to, then? A lady's undershirt has no reason to be in Ambassador Alba's office!"

"That's true," Kay said with a small frown. "I mean, what would be a lady's undershirt be doing here? Isn't it a, you know, a contradiction?"

Edgeworth nodded, crossing his arms over his chest and try to think things through logically. "That much is true," he conceded. "If this undershirt doesn't belong to Wendy Oldbag, its very presence in this room is a clear contradiction. It shouldn't be here. Unless, of course-" he suddenly trailed off and sputtered, eyes widening and his face turning bright pink all of a sudden as his logic delivered the answer.

"M-Mr. Edgeworth, sir! Are you alright?" Gumshoe asked worriedly.

Lang, who had clearly come up with an idea on his own, seemed amused. "What's up, prosecutor? Didn't think old people can get stuff done?" he sneered. "Lang Zi says: old wolves can make up for waning vigour and fallen fangs with experience."

"Hey, not bad for an old man!" Larry muttered with a grin. "I should shake hands with the guy again! But I tell you, I knew right away he was a ladies' man like myself!"

"What?" Edgeworth blurted out, completely ignoring him and turning to look at Lang. "You…" he cleared his throat and tried to regain some composure "I mean, so that is what you think this undershirt is about?"

The other man chuckled. "Of course. The old Ambassador may not look like it, but he probably isn't above some distraction, like most human beings. And he doesn't mind some company from time to time, clearly. Some lady must have forgotten that undershirt one of those times. Is there any other explanation?"

"Actually, there is," Franziska's voice resounded in the office, and when they all turned to look at her Edgeworth couldn't help but notice she looked awfully smug. "I think I actually mentioned the possibility earlier, too. Isn't that what you thought as well, Miles Edgeworth?"

Edgeworth shook his head. "I didn't… well… there is nothing indicating…!"

"You already mentioned…?" Lang muttered, frowning a little, then his eyes widened. "W-wait. You mean what you said about Alba possibly being interested in crossdressing? You can't be serious!"

"And why not?" she asked, wiggling a finger at him with an amused smirk. "Haven't you, of all people, ever heard of wolves in sheep's clothing?"

This time Lang actually took a step back and shook his head, most likely – Edgeworth thought – to get rid of the mental image of Ambassador Alba wearing lady's clothing; to be honest, it was a mental image he wouldn't have minded getting scrubbed off his brain himself.

"Wait, what?" both Gumshoe and Kay blurted out, turning to gape at Franziska.

"No way!" Larry exclaimed. "You've got to be kidding! You've got to- YEOW!" he yelped as Franziska's whip cracked against his side.

"I'm not in the habit of joking, you foolishly foolish fool," she informed him, making her whip crack on the ground once more for good measure. "Nor I'd suggest anything I can't back up with proof!"

"Proof?" Edgeworth repeated weakly. "Do you mean you have proof that this undershirt actually belongs to Ambassador Alba?"

Franziska wiggled her finger at him. "If it belongs to him, I'm pretty sure the undershirt itself will let us know that," she told him. "Army men have the habit of writing their names on the labels of their items of clothing; a habit most pick up in the barracks in order not to confuse their items and uniforms with someone else's. Ambassador Alba has been an army man for most of his life – and, as we know, old habits die hard."

Edgeworth stared at her. "Do you mean… he might have… written his name on it?" he asked, his brain having trouble catching up for the first time since… well, a very long time.

Franziska shrugged. "Well, why don't you check it out?" she suggested before turning to Oldbag, who was still standing there – oddly silent, for once – with the undershirt in her hands. "Care to take a look at the label inside the undershirt?"

Oldbag nodded, and for a moment before she looked down to check the label Edgeworth could swear she was grinning as though she was having the time of her life. He wasn't too surprised when, after finally looking at the label, she gave something resembling a triumphant cry and lifted the undershirt so that they could see the label. "Here it is!" she exclaimed "it reads 'Quercus Alba'!"

"Oh, man," Larry groaned "so I did it all wrong! I kept calling him a 'he' – hey, I did it again! – and maybe I should have called him… her… she? Maybe he would have preferred that? I mean, she? Gah, I don't know! Someone tell me if I did wrong!"

But no one came to his help: Kay and Gumshoe were far too busy staring at the undershirt with wide eyes, Lang was groaning and scrubbing his eyes as though it would make the mental image go away, and Edgeworth was trying with all his might not to cry out – a battle he lost only instants later. "Ngh… NGHOOOO!"

Franziska smirked at them. "Is it too much for you to handle?" she asked. "Such foolishly frail minds you have. But I shouldn't have expected anything different from-"

"Is there a problem here?" a frail, horribly familiar voice cut her off. Everyone turned their gazes to the doorframe through which Ambassador Alba walked inside the office, leaning heavily on his cane. "I really hope you're not once again having a debate because of me or my country. Such a terrible hassle to land you into," he reached to stroke his beard with a sorrowful sigh "and all because I lacked the strength to govern well!"

"We…" Edgeworth cleared his throat, praying the Ambassador wouldn't notice the way everyone in the room was staring at him. "It's nothing you should worry about, Ambassador. This most certainly wasn't your fault. We are simply done clearing an innocent man from this crime, and will now proceed to find the truth behind tonight's events. Isn't that right?" he added, glaring around somewhat threateningly.

Everyone immediately nodded – even Lang.

"Yes, that's exactly what we're here for…"

"Yeah, totally…"

"Sure, pal…"

"We're gonna steal the truth!"

Franziska, the only one aside from Oldbag who looked perfectly at ease, smirked. "Rest assured, Ambassador Alba, we will find the responsible. We simply need a little more time to investigate."

"Oh, well," Oldbag sighed, "I think you'll have to find the truth without me. My bad hip, you know. Maybe I should get it checked. But I'll be back soon, Edgey-poo!" she added, causing Edgeworth to shudder.

"Please, do not feel obligated to interrupt your rest," he muttered, fervently hoping her bad hip would keep her in bed until the end of that case. There was only that much his brain could take in a few hours' span, and he was dangerously close to the limit already. Oldbag turned to the door, and Edgeworth was already letting out a sigh of relief when she suddenly stopped in her tracks and, much to everyone's horror, suddenly turned to Ambassador Alba and held out something to him – the lady's undershirt.

"Oh, before I forget – I believe this is yours, Ambassador. Take it back before I'm tempted to keep it for myself, it's such a fine thing! Just make sure not to make it all dirty with soot again, it could be ruined! Try washing it in cold water," she suggested.

Edgeworth could distinctly see Ambassador Alba stiffening, his old hands suddenly holding the staff tighter. From beneath strands of white hair Edgeworth could see for a moment olive green eyes staring at the item of clothing in Oldbag's hand, and he could have sworn the Ambassador's left eye had just twitched. No one in the room dared to move or speak for several moments, all of them perfectly silent and still as though time had just stopped.

The illusion was finally broken as Alba reached out to snatch the undershirt from Oldbag's hands with a much quicker movement than Edgeworth would have believed possible for such a frail old man. Before anyone could recover the Ambassador had turned to the door and was walking outside with much quicker steps than when he had gotten in, and Edgeworth could clearly hear him muttering something about meddling prosecutors and eviction papers.