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1.

Her father refuses to see her before his execution.

She tries not to dwell on that as she sits in the audience box, waiting alone due to her father's stubborn pride. She's fairly certain that her schwester will not come – she knows Edgeworth won't – but Franziska has. Franziska is a Von Karma, and thus must be a perfect daughter, supportive even in her father's most trying moments.

It feels like she's the only one who still remembers the glory of the name. Her Vater sold out his perfection for one horrible moment of revenge; Karin had given up on the name long ago when she married. Miles is, of course, on his own path – she doubts he would feel any responsibility to their father, not now, not after everything. It's frustrating, because she's not a genius like Miles and her Vater; not the perfect socialite likes Karin. It shouldn't be her, as unworthy to the name as she is, and yet here she stands.

It's hard for her not to feel irritated, alone and isolated in this near empty box. She might be the last of them to believe in it, the last true Von Karma, but she keeps her head raised and her legs crossed, forces her eyes open and refuses to close them. A Von Karma cannot cry like a dog. Even alone, a Von Karma must be without weaknesses, and so she sits, her body cast in stone even as her heart cracks into a million pieces.

The door opens to her right; she actually jumps a bit at it, startled by the sudden, rude reminder of the world beyond her thoughts. Her mood only worsens when she looks up and sees Phoenix Wright. Her hands clench tighter, the gloves crinkling. He's the reason her father is here, the reason she is no longer perfect, the reason she is unworthy, the reason her Bruder is a million miles away, the reason her Schwester now goes by her husband's name. There is no one, no one she would rather see less.

She hates him.

He says nothing, but chooses a seat only a heartbeat away from her own, and her hands clench tighter, to the point that she's afraid that the gloves will tear form the strain. He turns and waves at her, an odd half-smile, as if he isn’t sure what to say. She doesn't smile back. She stares at him, at his stupid hair, his damn blue suit, the obnoxious defense attorney's badge he wear with pride.

As if letting criminals go free is something to be proud of.

“Must you come to mock him?” She asks in a low voice, not bothering to disguise her disdain.

“No,” Wright says, his voice softer than she expected. He runs a hand through his stupid, foolish hair. Her papa would never have stood for any of them to have such a rakish hair style. It makes him look unkempt; far too rebellious for her liking. “I'm not here for that.”
“Then why are you here, you foolish fool?” She asks. Her hands ache for the whip, but the jail had not allowed her to bring it in with her. She feels naked, vulnerable.

She does not like it.

Phoenix takes his time in answering; they're both distracted as the jail's guards make preparations. She doesn't expect him to have one, so she's surprised when he turns toward her again.

“I put him here,” he says. “It isn't fun, but...I have to see it through.”

She doesn't reply to that; it's good, she thinks, that he at least admits that he has some semblance of responsibility, of duty. Odd for a defense attorney. He holds out a hand, wordless. It's hard to imagine Wright and Miles as friends, she thinks; Miles has always run a step ahead of her, but here is Wright, extending a hand to her in her darkest moment.

She stares at it for a long moment; a part of her recoils at the idea that Phoenix must pity her, to think that she, a Von Karma, would ever need the support of a mere defense attorney, a professional liar. She opens her mouth to tell him so, to inform him, in no uncertain terms, of the boundaries that mark the division between her and him, but then a buzzer sounds and her father is wheeled out and Franziska's heart breaks.

He looks older than she remembers; his hair totally white, the jowls deeper, his face craggier. But age was never synonymous with weakness in the Von Karma and even in his final moments, her father looks fierce, composed. He's wearing a prison uniform, of course; a devastatingly common garment for such a refined man, but it remains starched, the corners crisp. If anyone could force laundry to obey them, of course, it was her father.

Was, she thinks, with a lump in her throat. Tears dot at the corners of her eyes, but they don't begin to slide until her father looks toward her, his mouth pursed into a thin line.

Much to her surprise, Wright presses his hadnd to her own. She doesn't dare to turn to look at him, but catches the murmured I'm sorry that slips from his lips. She squeezes tight as they strap the only parent Franziska has known in tight.

She doesn't let go until it's over.

2.

With her win record shattered and her father gone, Franziska leaves America. She does not like this land, she thinks, but she dislikes Germany even more: the promising career she left feels stifling, her father's home so thick with memories that she struggles to breathe. She continues to exist, but she does not live; she feels numb, cold. Only her return to America – with Edgeworth no less –punctures the cold that has taken root in her – even if it is sealed with the bullet that grazes her shoulder.

She thinks perhaps it is just an exciting case that does this for her, but when she returns to Germany, she's put onto several high profile cases, all murders, and the void returns: she feels as if she is wrapped in bubble-tape, as if everything is happening far away from her. She catches herself pausing before every sentence, trying desperately not to give away how little she finds herself about to care about her homeland.

Her wake-up call happens a few days after she has return to Germany. Her phone rings, the ringtone distractingly loud; her pen scratches against her legal pad, and she frowns at the distraction from her notes. She stares at the phone for a moment with a puzzled expression. A Los Angeles number, but who is left to call her? Miles doesn't call her.

She takes a moment, hopes the call will go to voicemail, but it doesn't. The tone is distractingly loud. She pulls herself up to her full height before pressing the button to answer the call

“Von Karma,” she says. “Speak.”

“Oh, uh, hi.” The stumbling fool-voice that could only belong to one Phoenix Wright blares out of her tinny speakers, and she resists the urge to whip her phone out of the window.

They haven't spoken outside of court – not since her moment of weakness in the prison. She'd very much like to keep it that way. She hates that he's seen her mask fall, hates that he held her hand in a moment of weakness.

“I didn't give you this number,” she snaps. It's bad enough she's lost to Wright twice, worse that the one time she bested him in a case, it was Miles arguing in court.

Always seven steps ahead, her brother.

“Edgeworth did,” he says, and she rolls her eyes. Of course. No doubt her brother's foolish attempt to annoy her by inundating her with a foolish fool's foolishness. “I told him I wanted to thank you for your help with Maya.”

“I don't see why you're thanking me,” she says, voice clipped. “You lost.” She cannot help but rub the salt in his wounds, to remind him that he has cost her so much that she holds dear. It's a reminder to Wright that he, too, is imperfect, his win record as equally worthless now as hers.

“Yeah, but we got Maya back,” he says, and she can hear the idiot grin in his voice. Perhaps it does not effect him the way it does her: the fool is not a Von Karma. He does not understand her destiny, the sole drive for perfection, the only reason she has to be alive.

“I wanted to check in with you, too. How's your shoulder?”

“It has healed.” She says, stunned by his remembering.Thank you for the flowers.”

She remembers them – yellow daisies brightening up a drab hotel room. At the time she had thought it mere professional courtesy, likely ordered by his secretary. Now she wonders if he had a more personal hand in it – why bother to reach out to the enemy?

“Least I can do.” Wright says, his voice so cheery that she can't help but feel the corners of her mouth twitching upwards. “I miss you in court, you know. Not the same with Winston Payne. I'm getting dull without a rival.”

Her cheeks flush a bit at that, and she is surprised how desperately she needs the recognition. Phoenix Wright, who has gone against her father, her brother, and now her – seeing her as an equal? Impossible.

And yet, every bit of her Von Karma heritage is pleased. Even if it is the words of a mere defense –

“Ms. Von Karma? Are you still there?”

“I will be back to crush you soon enough,” she blurts out, slamming down the phone.

She had not planned on going back to America, but Wright, she thinks, is a rival worth challenging.

Besides, she cannot let her only victory over him be through Miles.

3.

When she comes back, she stares at Wright, her head proudly held above her shoulders. She feels the fire returning to her, little by little – she will beat Wright, the only man who has beaten both her brother and her father. She will prove herself the best, and she will do it with perfection.

She raises one arm out in an elegant bow, unable to stop herself from turning with a soft smile toward her new-found rival. “I've come for one thing, and one thing only – to pulverize you.”

Wright coughs politely, an awkward half-smile on his face. He's silent for a moment, wary, but she does not soften the blow. After a few moments, he shrugs.

“...Well, I didn't think you were here to buy me cough medicine.” He bows toward her as the Judge takes his place on the stand. “But we'll find the truth together, right?”

She tightens her grip on her whip. She will prove herself superior.

4.

She has never called on the Wright Law Offices before.

She had expected something a bit more...erudite, for Miles' rival. Or at the very least, a bit more decorated. Not this clean little office, with just enough clutter to look lived in. She stares at a plant in the corner, stubbornly clinging to life despite what looks like years of over-watering, and wonders if she is making a mistake.

She wishes that she'd brought the whip with her, if only to have its familiar weight in her hands. But this is a mission of peace. She has been in the same position as Maya; she knows the pain that comes with losing a beloved parent. As if on cue, Wriight's assistant comes into the room, her hand clasped to her mouth. “Ms. Von Karma! What are you doing here?” She can't help but notice how tired Ms. Fay looks – the long eyes, the rumbled outfit. She's still here though, and Franziska can't help but feel a bit of admiration.

“I wanted to make sure you were doing alright.” She looks away as she says it, and if papa were here – not that he would have let her be here – he would have yelled at her cravenness. Commit wholly or commit not at all – that was the Von Karma way. She straightens her back and looks at Ms. Fey – and does her best to smile.

“I'm uhm,” Ms. Fey scratches her head, a nervous tic that she can't help but notice she got from Wright. “Well, I'm alright. I guess.”

She does not believe that for a second. She can see the redness in the girls eyes, the gaunt features of her face. Franziska takes pride in how easily she can read people – and what she reads in Ms. Fey's face is that she is not alright.

Like any good prosecutor, she calls her on it. Please, Ms. Fey. I know we have always been on opposite sides, but...I, too, have lost a parent suddenly.”

“Oh,” Ms. Fey plays with her necklace. “Well, uh, death is less a barrier for us spirit mediums. And you can call me Maya, Ms. Von Karma.”

“Alright, Maya.” Franziska sighs. It is hard to reach out like this – she isn't even sure why she is doing it. Papa would never have bothered. Not even Miles, with his foolish platitudes about finding truth, bothers with empathy. He's already gone, back to Europe on another case, and Franziska is left picking up the pieces.

Maybe that is why she has to do it – because it is hard. Because it does not come to her naturally. A part of her she doesn't like to think about thinks that perhaps it's because she sees herself in Fey, in being the child less loved, in being a child shackled to legacy. Wright, she thinks, is lucky to be the son of merchants.

“It was nice of you to come,” Maya says, sitting next to her. “I wanted to thank you. Nick told me you were trying to save me.”

“It did not work,” she mumbles.”It is pointless to thank one for a task that was ultimately a fool's errand.” She thinks back to the countless hours she spent in the Kurain compound, to be so close to Maya, only to not find her without help.

“Your heart was in a good place.” Maya smiles. “And you saved my life before, too, you know.”

“Yes. Well.” She clears her throat. She has never been good at this. “You are welcome.”

“I'm glad you came by.” Maya smiles. She reaches out a hand, and Franziska takes it. “I wanted to thnk you earlier, but uh...I wasn't sure if I would be welcome. I've uh, been trying to uh, think of a way to repay you since you kind of tried to save my life twiceand...” She shudders. “I'll summon him for you. If you want.”

Franziska blinks, sucking in her breath. How often has she wondered – what would her father say to her? A part of her longs for it, to see her father's grey-blue eyes, to tell him she's sorry she can't live up to his genius, but then she thinks of his sharp tongue, his denial of her at the last possible moment, and she knows she cannot. She already knows the word that would be on his breath: unwürdig; unworthy of his gifts, his talents, his name.

“Thank you,” she breathes. “But that will not be necessary.”

Maya nods, solemn for a second, and then grins. “How about a burger, then?”

5.

It's strange, eating out with Maya and Wright.

She's sitting with a burger twice the size of her head. It's a typical American burger: sloppy, overloaded with toppings that her father would scowl over. Even Miles would have turned his nose up at the onion rings, but Franziska can't think of anything she's ever had that tasted better. For the first time in years, she feels...great.

Miles, she thinks, is missing out.

6.

Her phone rings, and Franziska's pen scratches the legal pad. She glances down in surprise, then smiles as she sees the name on her voicemail: Wright, Phoenix.

She does not hesitate to pick up.

“Hello, Ms. Von Karma,” Phoenix says. He sounds cheery, as he usually does, and she cannot help but find it infectious.

“Ah, Mr. Wright.” She looks out of her office window. The view in LA is much better than Berlin; there are so many more people here, walking in the streets below them. Franziska cannot help but feel that the skyscrapers and skyline here remind her of her freedom in a way that Berlin never could “What can I help you with?”

“I wanted to bounce some ideas off of you for a case.”

“You want to ask a prosecutor for help on a defense case?” She glances toward the people walking along the sidewalks below, and can't help but look for a familiar blue suit.

“Can you think of anyone better to poke holes in my argument?” Wright, as always, is direct in the arguments he brings forward. It's a trait that she's coming to appreciate.

“Good point.” She smiles. “Samurai Burger in half an hour?”

“Thank you,” Wright says. She can hear what sounds suspiciously like relief in his voice, and she cannot help but wonder if perhaps Glavin's case. She knows that the new rockstar-cum-attorney has been making his mark in the lower courts lately for being hard to predict, and she wonders how much of his older brother has rubbed off on the man. It will be fun, she thinks, try to help Wright predict his arguments.

“Looking forward to it,” she says. “And Wright?”

“Yes?”

“Call me Franziska.”

7.

It becomes a tradition between them.

For every case, there is a burger, or coffee, or sushi. Some sort of food in turn lading to some strange sort of peace that exists between them, the ripostes and legal arguments fast and fierce yet somehow never tearing a hole in their surprisingly strong friendship.

“I'm so glad we started this, Franziska,” Phoenix says, slurping down a bowl of borscht at a Russian dive she's quite certain Miles would never set foot in. There's enough tchotkes on the wall to have bankrupted Minsk. They even have a piano bar; this place is far too gauche for Miles' refined tastes.

(Her father's tastes.)

“It is quite delicious,” she says. It's nothing like Russian borscht, but Phoenix has never been to Russia, and anyway, it's far better than the refined, diluted broth she and Miles supped at five star restaurants in Moscow. Franziska finds a dollop of sour cream makes it taste far better, purity be damned.

Phoenix grins. “Think we should bring Edgeworth here when he gets home?”
She glances around at the walls, surrounded on all sides by tacky, foolish tchotchkes.

“Perhaps we will get take-out.”

It's not until she gets back to her office, shrugging off her coat, that she realizes that Nick referred to Los Angeles as their home, not Germany. Perhaps, she thinks, that's true now.

She certainly finds California less suffocating.

8.

When Maya Fey leaves to return to Kurain full-time, there's a surprising sadness to it.

“Bye Franny,” Maya says softly at the train station, wrapping her arms around Franziska tight. “I'll miss you.”

“You must visit,” she says, running her hand over the other woman's hair. Maya grips her harder, and Franziska wonders when she became the trio in this duet. The loss of Maya hurts her almost as much as Phoenix, who blubbers in a way that she once would have thought was weak and foolish.

Now she knows it as a sign of strength, to be so free with one's emotions.

She grips Phoenix's hand as the train to Kurain leaves the station, with Maya leaning out the window, waving as tears stream down her face.

Phoenix's hand grabs her side, returns the support, and, once again, she's grateful.

9.

“This is my daughter, Trucy,” Phoenix says, gently pushing a young girl toward her. She clings to Phoenix like a scared rabbit. She's heard the girl's sorry tale twice – once from Maya, once from Phoenix himself – and so she does her best to be unintimidating – though it is difficult, for a Von Karma.

“Hello, liebchen,” she says, kneeling at the child's height. She's never been good with children, but she recognizes the loss in the girl's eyes. She remembers the feeling, so she smiles and holds out a hand. “I'm Franziska.”

Trucy stares at her hand for a moment before placing her smaller hand in Franziska's own.

“Hi,” She whispers; Franziska squeezes her hand, and Trucy squeezes back.

“She hasn't reacted to anyone else since--” Phoenix scratches his head.

“You just haven't tried the right person.” She scoffs. “Has he, liebchen?

Trucy giggles.

10.

Phoenix is nothing like Miles when he is angry. Miles has always been ice, but Phoenix has the fire of his namesake, always seeking reason as a fire seeks air.

So to see him so calm at getting disbarred is...jarring.

“We will fight this,” she vows, placing a hand on his knee. “I've already drafted a motion to reconsider, I'll call Edgeworth, we will fight this tooth and nail, Phoenix. That Judge will come to rue the name Phoenix Wright – “

“Franziska,” Phoenix says, his words not even angry. “Enough.”

“W-What?” She stammers, thrown off. “Phoenix, stop with this foolish fool's notion!” She gestures toward the upstairs bedroom. “You have a daughter – “

“There's nothing to be done,” Phoenix sighs. “It was a 9 to 1 decision, Franziska.”

“9 minds can be overcome,” she says, grasping her whip. “Let me have half an hour with my whip and those foolish fools who fancy themselves attorneys –”

“No, Franziska.” He wraps an arm around her, but it does not comfort her. It is another reminder of how imperfect she is, that she cannot protect her friend after all that he has done for her. “This came too fast to be anything but planned.”

“Are you saying someone set you up?” She is afraid of the answer.

“Yes.” His hand caresses her cheek, and she's too stunned to say anything. “And if anything were to happen to Trucy or you because of me--”

“You are the most foolish of fools, Wright.” She interrupts, throwing his hand away. There is a border here, one that she is not ready to cross. She cannot focus on anything but being angry, at watching him throw away his promise, his genius. She cannot bear to see him waste it on anything less than a perfect career for him.

She storms out, but Phoenix calls her the next night, just like normal.

11.

As Phoenix wishes, they wait.

Franziska has never waited well; she takes up a case with Interpol just to distract her, to provide a focus beyond the sheer injustice that comes to define the dark age of the law.

But it does not help.

Even 3,000 miles away, she still calls Phoenix every night, unable to walk away the way Edgeworth does. Somehow, Edgeworth's rival and her father's antagonist has become her best friend.

She finishes the case quickly, and opts to skip a layover in Berlin on the way home.

Franziska knows where her home is now.

“Franny!” A familiar little voice booms as she arrives in LAX.

She beams as a ten year old's gawky arms wrap around her frame.

“Hello, liebchen,” she says, ruffling Trucy's hair. She's grown bolder since Franziska first met her, more badger than bunny now. It's a good sign, she thinks. She's never thought of herself as having a daughter, but if she did, she'd want it to be someone like Trucy, her new-found curiousity about the world unquenchable.

“It's good to have you back,” Phoenix says. She's a bit taken aback from his clothing – the jeans and hoody don't fit him. But then he smiles, and she sees the Phoenix's fire still burning in his eyes.

Waiting is a fool's game, but it's made easier with good company.

12.

“I made a new magic trick for you,” Trucy babbles, grinning at her triumphantly from her spot on top of the coffee table at the newly rechristened Wright Anything Office while Franziska sits on a well worn couch that had be secondhand when Ms. Fey bought it years ago.

She does not mind though.

Trucy's wearing a magician's outfit, scrapped together, no doubt, of Phoenix's earnings at the Borscht Belt. Blue and white, with an adorable blue silk hat that ties together the outfit nicely. He's a good dad, she thinks; he's obviously allowed Trucy some freedom to select her own wardrobe. Not like her father, who dictated the black, white, and turquoise uniform she still wears most days.

“Select a fate!” Trucy proclaims, holding out a piece of paper, crumpled into a fortune teller. She remembers these, briefly: many of the girls in her dorm room had them, though Franziska had no time for such idle gossip.

She stares at the eight delicately painted chambers. Trucy has done quite the number on these: the first two little slips of paper are the color of purple, with scales tilted to the right and the left, respectively; numbers 3 and 4 are a bright sunshine yellow with a schoolbus and sun to match; 5 and 6 in shades of red with a heart and a sword; and 7 and 8 in bright blue, with crude pictures of Phoenix and Trucy on the paper.

“Number 8,” she says, pointing at Trucy's picture.

It is obviously the right choice; Trucy smiles, triumphant as she hands her the fortune teller. “You really want mine?”

“Of course, mein liebchen.” She pulls up the slip of paper, and Franziska stops smiling; underneath, there is a picture of what can only be her and Phoenix in a wedding dress and tuxedo, Trucy in her magician's get-up on the side.

“I knew you would,” she says, breathlessly. I knew – “

“Trucy –“ She pauses, unsure of what to say. It isn't a bad idea, exactly, it's just that – that she hasn't thought about this, and certainly Phoenix hasn't thought about this, they both have enough on their mind in investigating his disbarment and –

A door opens, and Phoenix comes in.

“Hi daddy!” Trucy runs toward Phoenix, and Franziska's heart goes cold at the thought of him discovering Trucy's latest fortune. She freezes, her traitorous body unwilling to move as she watches Trucy wrap her arms around her father's leg.

“Hey, there's my girl,” Phoenix says. He ruffles Trucy's hair, and Franziska snaps out of her spell. She quickly stuffs Trucy's fortune teller in her bag, standing up and shifting it across her shoulders.

“Ah, you're home now, yes?” She feels a blush on her cheeks that has nothing to do with the sudden heat from Los Angeles flooding Phoenix's small apartment. “I must go!”

She leaves before Phoenix can get out much more than goodbye.

It isn't until she gets home and unpacks that she sees it, still crumpled up in the bottom of her bag. Reverently, she takes it out and places it on her nightstand. She doesn't admit to Phoenix that she looks at Trucy's drawings often when she has trouble sleeping.

13.

She's little bit suspicious when she finds Gumshoe sitting in her office when she comes in on her birthday. She's even more suspicious when tells her she has to go down to the Borscht Bowl Club right away.

“It's you know, pal...” He glances away. “It's important.”

“Why?” She says, squinting her eyes. Gumshoe has never been a good actor, and every last inch of the Detective's body says he's up to something.

“Cuz that Wright kid – I mean, cuz you know, there's prosecutor stuff happenin'. For your birthday and all. You don't want to miss out on a hobnobbin' with some fellow prosecutors, do ya?”
“Alright,” she says, knowing well enough that it's a set-up but being unable to stop herself from going anyway. If it involves Trucy and Gumshoe, its best that there is an actual adult involved.
She arrives at noon, the restaurant officially closed. A chef greets her, his chef's robes as inaccurate as his french, fusses over her—quelle jolie fille – before seating her in the one table that's actually got silverware on it in the place, along with candles well lit despite the fact that it's only noon.

She folds her arms s her lap and tries not to laugh as Trucy comes in, her hair carefully braided and her magicians outfit now complete with an apron in front. She bites down on her cheek at the ridiculousness of it, and wonders how many favors Trucy had to call in to surprise her with a nice lunch.

“Good afternoon!” Trucy beams and Franziska cannot help but play along. “Your date will be here soon, mademoiselle, just – “

“Trucy?”

“Nein,” Trucy says, striking her knuckles with a pencil, unexpectedly harsh, and for a blinding moment of pain she understands the life of Gumshoe. “Je suis Cullote!”

Ouch.” She rubs at her knuckles, all too clearly reminded of the nuns in her elementary school. Trucy is clearly getting into some character or another, but this is going too far. Trucy, what are you –

Madammoiselle,” Trucy says, drawing herself up to her full height, which Franziska thinks is supposed to be intimidating, but probably works better if one is more than four feet tall. “I am le mistress of romance, Cullotte le Blouse!”

“Cullote le Blouse?” She hears a familiar voice, and the blood drains from her face as Phoenix walks in, looking confused as ever.

Mein Gott,” she murmurs under her breath, as Trucy pivots into a pose she could only have learned from watching the Steel Samurai with Maya. She knows what this is now, and there's not a part of her that isn't dreading it.

That's right!” She pivots again. “I am Mademoiselle Cullote le Blouse, mistress of romance!” She grabs Phoenix's hand and brings him closer. “You must take a seat.”

Phoenix takes a seat next to her, close enough at this tiny table that his feet brush hers as she sits.

“What on earth is she up to, Franziska?” he asks. He looks adorably clueless, his big puppy dog eyes surprisingly innocent.

She just shakes her head in response. Phoenix rubs his chin, the way he usually does in court. Did in court. She can all but see the gears winding in his head as he looks at the evidence: the candles, Trucy's ridiculous get-up, the fancy French chef, her inability to stop blushing – and when he points his finger toward her, she almost slumps in her seat.

“She's setting us up?” Phoenix whispers, almost incredulous.

“For your aparatif, mon amis,” the chef bumbled in, slamming a table of oysters down on their table. He clasps his hands, and Franziska swears she can almost see the stars in his eyes. “Oysters! The food, Mesdames et Messieurs, , of love.”

“They're really trying to play this, huh?” Phoenix sighed. “I'm sorry, Franziska – “

“It's quite alright,” she says, blushing like one of the milkmaid's in the paintings in papa's study. “I know – “

“It's just that...” Phoenix rubs his stubble. “You know, Trucy's fond of you, and – “

“I know, children and their foolish-fool ways – “

“Y-Yeah.” Wright scratches the back of his head, and she sighs. It's obvious he wants to get out the door. “N-Not like you'd have much interest in someone like me, anyway.”

She stares at him for a full minute, watches as his face colors bright red, and then she knows.

It's not just her.

“Wright,” she says, flawlessly opening an oyster and flicking the shell onto her plate. “Has it occurred to you to ask me before you decide what my feelings are?”

She has the satisfaction of rendering Edgeworth's rival fully speechless for no less than thirty seconds.

14. It changes everything, and yet, it changes nothing.

They keep the same habits. There are still the afternoon dates; more often than not at the Borscht Belt. The meals may have changed, but but still, Phoenix's mind remains sharp as ever. He doesn't go easy on her as he helps she puts together her arguments for court, and she finds she doesn't want him to. Their pattern is simple, easy, and it stays with them even after Phoenix returns to law, the difference only in the hours that he keeps.

Their relationship doesn't hurt her career – she's still satisfyingly terrifying, no matter what the venue. Apollo all but yelps when Phoenix introduces her – yes that Franziska von Karma, didn't I mention? – and she catches a single bead of sweat trail down his check. What does change is far more simple; it's in the hand at her waist as she walks into a restaurant, the prickly hair that wakes her up early when she sleeps over. It's in the tight little hands that grip her waist when she picks Trucy up after school.

She isn't used to touch. Karin had always turned up her pug nose at hugs; papa, too, had always viewed physical affection as a weakness. Even Edgeworth had felt uncomfortable with it, always preferring to move on to the next subject on hand.

Once, she, too, would have thought them a weakness.

But then Phoenix holds her tight, and Trucy grabs hold of them both from the side, and Franziska realizes that she is home.