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Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Miles/Fran Upd: 8-26)Topic%20Title
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My son is bored. Care to play with him?

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Inspiration for this fic came to me as I was flying down to Tennessee to visit my then ailing grandfather. I hope this proves as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to write. Without further ado, here's what I have so far:

Chapter I: Retreat and Pursuit

Miles ran a hand through his carefully groomed hair as he sat himself down at the terminal, waiting for his flight--destination: London. The worst was over. Phoenix Wright had suvived his swim in Eagle River and gone on to win the day as was his custom and Larry Butz was swiftly becoming little more than an annoying memory. Mr. Edgeworth was returning to the Old World and doing it the Old World way: at a leisurely pace. No more last-minute charters. Just one flight and it would be back to the familiar ground of prosecution. Being a defense attorney had been interesting, but proved a little too exciting. No wonder Wright gets so awkward in court. He has to work with the bare minimum of preparation and information! ...Did my father have it this bad? It was a sobering thought, but one that was quickly supplanted by a sense of unease that felt strangely familiar.

He adjusted his cravat. Still the feeling would not subside. Rather, it intensified. Something is making me self-conscious. No logical explanation exists. What is it? Gradually his ears picked up clacking double footfalls behind him. He had just concluded that it was a passerby when the clacking stopped. "So we meet again...Miles Edgeworth." Franziska? He turned around. Sure enough, there stood Franziska, wearing that carnivorous grin which was the von Karma trademark. Recognition smoldered within him like fine tobacco--painful, but also faintly pleasing.

"Ah...it's you," he deadpanned, "But what brings you here?"
"Research."
"Research?"
"Yes. One day I will surpass you, and a cardinal rule of war is, 'know your enemy.' I will shadow your every move and so learn to defeat you."
"Don't you have other commitments?" he prompted.
"No," she replied, sinister amusement lurking behind her eyes like the fangs of a venomous snake. "You seriously think I would dedicate myself to tailing you were I not fully prepared? Miles, I'm insulted."
"What about work?"
"You know as well as I do that I have not missed a day of work before or since I was shot. Vacation days accumulate like snow."
"Weren't you going to pose for Larry?"
"He only thinks so because he wants to think so. Surely you know better than to think I would let him waste my time with so trivial a pursuit as that."
Edgeworth held a straight face for a solid three seconds, and then cracked a wry grin.
"I thought so. A von Karma upbringing--even an incomplete one--is bound to break you of at least that kind of foolishness."
"So you're following me, then? To London?"
"Of course. And there's nothing you can do about it."
"Now seating Section 3," squawked a feminine voice over the speakers.
"That's my flight. Good luck tracking me down...kleine Schwester."

With a sly tilt of the head, he hefted his carry-on bag and boarded the plane. Franziska looked down at her ticket, smiled, waited a few seconds, and followed.

Chapter II: Strategy

The thrill of the hunt was in the air as Franziska pursued her wily prey. Again she glanced at her ticket: 9B. Looking up, she spied him staring out his window at the seat numbered...9A. Her eyes narrowed in feline satisfaction. This is perfect. Upon reaching her seat, she eased herself into it with deliberate stealth. Slowly she raised her right arm, finally holding it level with his neck--ready to strike. In the space of a split second, two fingers flicked out of her loose fist to stab into the flesh behind and beneath the base of his jaw. Much to her annoyance, his cheeks widened in what might have been a smile. Her suspicions proved correct, for he slowly turned his head to face her, obviously amused.

"Hello again, Franziska."
"How did you know it was me?"
"Simple. No one else would greet me so roughly or so...intimately."
"What are you insinuating?"
"Oh, nothing. I don't socialize much. As a result, almost nobody knows me at all, let alone very well..." he concluded, folding his arms, "And that is all."
"...I'll accept that."
"So, if I may back up...this is certainly a surprise. May I see your ticket?"
With a smug smirk, she handed him the ticket.
"Well I'll be...9B."
"You see, Miles? There is no escaping me."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk..." he chided, doing his best Manfred impression, "You'll never defeat me if you keep underestimating me like this. It's quite obvious that not even Papa could have engineered such a coincidence as neighboring airplane seats."
"I don't recall giving you permission to make me laugh," she scolded, chuckling in spite of herself, "but your point is taken."

Right then, an idea entered his head. If I cooperate with her, I may be able to teach her the overriding importance of the truth...I think I'll encourage her.

"Hmm...since there is no getting rid of you..."
"That's correct..."
"I see no reason not to take you on...as an assistant."
"What?"
"I would like you to assist me with the cases I prosecute. We could travel together and you could leave at your leisure. Do you accept?"
"Why not? If you wish to show me your Achilles' heel, I will not stop you."
"Good. May our alliance be an advantageous one."

In the companionable silence that followed, Edgeworth lost himself in thought. Manfred...murderer and mentor, friend and foe...today we even the score. In my father's absence, you influenced me. Now in your absence, I will influence Franziska. After all, if someone glares at you, it's only polite to return the favor. Isn't that right?


Last edited by Gregory Wright on Sun Aug 26, 2012 9:35 am, edited 6 times in total.
Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Edgeworth/Franziska)Topic%20Title

True love is forever.

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Very nicely done! I'm not a big fan of the Miles/Franziska pairing, but I like your story a great deal so far. As always, your writing is incredible and I think you handled both characters very well. I could easily see both Miles and Franziska behaving like this. Keep up the good work!
Proud Supporter of Phoenix/Iris, Ron/Dessie, Klavier/Ema, and Apollo/Vera
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Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Edgeworth/Franziska)Topic%20Title
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My son is bored. Care to play with him?

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Location: Minnesota

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Aww, thanks. :edgy: I must thank you for stepping outside your preferences and taking a peek. Part of the reason I decided to write this was that I thought it would be an invigorating challenge. You've just made it that much more invigorating. That's high praise coming from a non-shipper. Maybe now some other people will start commenting. :karma: Anyway, your support has done much to buoy my spirits and made working on this much more fun. More should be coming fairly soon.
Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Edgeworth/Franziska)Topic%20Title
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Four is Death

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A very well done on writing this.

Is this the planned end, or will you continue?
Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Edgeworth/Franziska)Topic%20Title
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My son is bored. Care to play with him?

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Yay! Another reviewer! Thanks! I plan to continue. I'm kind of feeling my way around as to how long this is going to go, but that's part of the fun. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say I plan to continue this for approximately a couple story months, maybe a little more. And knowing the chronological pace I've been writing at, this could be a fairly long project. :franny:

PS--I love your sig. It tickleth my funnybone. :redd:
Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Edgeworth/Franziska)Topic%20Title
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My son is bored. Care to play with him?

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It took a while, but here it is: Chapter III. As usual, all feedback is welcome and desired. Here goes:

Chapter III: Parry

When the plane came to a stop, Mr. Edgeworth felt a swift tapping on his right shoulder.

"The plane has stopped, Miles. You'd best prepare to disembark lest I leave you in the dust."
He simply smiled.
"What's so funny?"
"You wouldn't do that."
"Why not?"
"Because you're too smart for that. Leaving me behind serves only to hinder your long-term plans."
"Of course. I was only testing you."

Once they had left the plane, he wasted no time but immediately broke into a purposeful stride. Franziska puzzled at this. What is he doing? Does he plan to surprise me with something? ...Nothing to do but follow him and try to figure out his designs on the way, I suppose. Then at least I can be ready for his "surprise". As they approached the parking lot, it all became clear. Oh. He plans to drive me to my accommodations. How chivalrous and foolish of him. They stopped in front of a red sports car.

"Need a ride?" he inquired with an easy smile, gesturing toward the passenger door.
"I don't need anything from you, Miles, but I will accept as you've made it impractical to refuse."
"I have, have I? And how did I do that?"
"You led me out here."
He shook his head. "Franziska...did I tell you to follow me?"
"Not directly, no."
"Did I even gesture for you to follow me?"
"No...you simply started walking."
"Ergo, you followed me entirely of your own volition."
"Nonsense. You told me outright that you wanted me to assist you in your work and that we would travel together."
"Yes, but there's no reliable evidence to connect that conversation with my decision to walk to the car. Without that, you don't have a case."
Franziska said nothing, her face hardening into a glare as her annoyance mounted, threatening to flood her brain.
"But your earlier point is taken. So...would you like a ride?"
"Why not? I'm already here anyway."

Taking her resigned acceptance as his cue, he opened the passenger door for her, walked around to the driver's side, and got in. He started the engine and they were soon on the open streets. After giving her some time to calm down, he revisited their previous conversation.

"You were right, Franziska."
"About what?"
"About me leading you to the car."
Franziska stared with unseeing eyes out the windshield, irritation tightening her jaw. "Your point?"
"I learned that style of argumentation from your father."
Silence.
"It's very good for making your opponent look stupid..."
"..."
"But it's not very good for eliminating reasonable doubt, now is it?"
"..."
"Franziska?"
"...No, it isn't." she conceded bitterly. There was no use denying it. He was right and she had proven it herself.
"That is why he found it necessary to manipulate evidence and testimony."
"Don't push it, Miles. I'm not ready to believe it's that simple. Life is not fair. Defense attorneys lie. Defendants lie. Witnesses lie. You know this fulll well. One ill turn deserves another."
"Perhaps so, but two wrongs don't make a right any more than smoke disperses smoke or fire quenches fire. Smoke can only dispersed by the wind. A lie can only be nullified by the truth."
"All very pretty and logical in theory, but I will not accept it until I see it proven in practice."
"Fair enough."

It was at this point that Franziska noticed the car had stopped moving. In front of them stood a large residential building.

"Miles, this doesn't look like a hotel."
"That's because this isn't a hotel. It's an apartment complex."
"Why are we parked here?"
"I thought to offer you the chance to stay here."
"But I don't live here."
"No, but I do."
"Ah, of course. I see it now. I'm flattered that you find me so attractive, but I have no intention of sharing a bed."
"Who said anything about that?" he asked with a mischievous grin, "Have you forgotten that we shared a house for several years as family? I simply thought to save you some money. All the same, I too am flattered--flattered that you consider me an erotic possibility at all, however remote."
Outfoxed again! How does he do it? "Alright, alright, but there's still the question of space. Is it possible for us to sleep separately in this apartment of yours?"
"Of course. I may not have two bedrooms, but I do have a small office in which I keep a couch." He shrugged. "I often end up sleeping there anyway--paperwork and all that. Needless to say, the bedroom is yours if you'd like to use it. What do you say?"
"Do the doors lock?"
"Come now, Franziska. You know me. I'm a highly private individual and would never take up residence in an apartment with any lockless doors."
"True enough."
"So...what do you say?"
"Why not? Lead the way."

Leaving the car securely locked, they approached the complex. Upon reaching the door, Miles produced a card. One swipe and they were in. They ascended the stairway, turning off at the third floor. To their right stood a door marked "301". "This is it." he confirmed, producing his key. Inside, Franziska looked around, taking it all in with an approving nod. This place is suitable--nothing like the family estate, by any means, but suitable. "I'll just transplant tomorrow's change of clothes..." Oh yes, that's right...I'm using his bedroom.
"...And we're all set for the night."
"Miles..."
"Yes?"
"You didn't have to do all this."
"No...I just wanted to."
"You know my true intentions and still you pamper me. Why?"
"Well, as a host, I would be a bit embarrassed to offer a guest accommodations inferior to my own. Furthermore, as you've probably guesed, I have a secret goal of my own which I can't very well reach by being needlessly mean to you. Finally, as Manfred raised us together, I came to feel an affinity toward you. That affinity deepened when I helped get your father convicted. That is why."
"That conviction was your revenge--revenge long deferred. Why should that carry any sting for you?"
"I believe it was Elie Wiesel who once said, 'The children of murderers are children, not murderers.' You did not kill my father, but I deprived you of yours. It's only natural that you have my sympathy."
An unwelcome tear rolled down her cheek. "...Thank you. I shall retire to bed now, if you don't mind."
"Not at all," he replied with a sweet smile, "I'll see you in the morning."

After briefly visiting the bathroom to brush her teeth, she lugged her suitcases into the bedroom and locked the door behind her. As she changed into her nightclothes and slipped under the covers, her mind and emotions were at war.

Miles...ever the foolish romantic.
But if he is so foolish, how did he outfox you so many times today?
I don't know! That's what I intend to find out!
He'd tell you if you'd let him.
It's not just that! His romanticism--I should be laughing at it, but it makes me want to cry!
Could it be that he's become more than a little brother?
!...I'll never figure this out tonight! Might as well sleep on it.



Last edited by Gregory Wright on Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Miles/Franziska)Topic%20Title
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OHEMJEEE.

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A reference to TAWM!? :ack: I'm flattered and shocked at the same time.

This is amazing. You've written EdgeyFran fic WORTH READING! I know how hard this pairing is (both to support and write fic for), but you did an excellent job. I'll keep reading!
Pairings: Miego, FeenRis, EdgeyFran, KlavEma, CloTi, Zerith, Vincrecia.
Just a note, all: I haven't been on in a while, so I'm trying to get my little persona here back in order. I won't be on as much in the future, maybe a few times a week. Sorry!
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Impressive so far. Edgey was always such a contradictory character, where he seems like a stoic character to most people, but to those close to him, he's actually quite the romantic (not in the mushy kind of sense, but the idealist kind of sense)... and that makes him so adorable. Manfred had tried to snuff that out of him all these years and I'm happy to see it come out once in a while still.. in the game and in fanfiction. :edgy:

I commend you for taking on such a challenge. Keep up the good work! I'll keep my eye on this one! =D
Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Miles/Franziska)Topic%20Title
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My son is bored. Care to play with him?

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I apologize for the lateness of this response, but believe it or not, your opinions both hold a great deal of weight for me here. Ever since I started writing this fic, I had been wondering what you two would think of it. After a fashion, you were my primary "target audience". It warms my heart like nothing else that you like this work. Even if the rest of the forum members hated it, your praise would inspire me to see this fic to completion and have a blast doing it. Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart. I would give you both a hug if this screen wasn't in the way. [/maudlin display] Anyway, I have some ideas about what I might do for Chapter IV. It's just a matter of committing it to paper and perhaps some preliminary idea screening. I might have you beta some of it, if you're interested. If you'd like to help me screen ideas, feel free to PM me about it. :jazzedgy:
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Omg, thanks so much! That, my friend, has touched my wee little heart. It feels like we share a very similar view of Edgey and Franny's characters, so I'd love to know more about what you think of them and what you have in store in later chapters. I'd be more than happy to offer my input. :edgy:

*goes to pm you now*
Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Miles/Franziska)Topic%20Title
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My son is bored. Care to play with him?

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Drum roll, please!

*t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t...*

Due to circumstances beyond my control, release of this chapter was...delayed. Now, after the grandpappy of all waiting periods, the silence is finally broken! I now present...

*tss*

Chapter IV: Thrust

Chaos reigned in the courtroom. At the defender's bench stood the now-famous Phoenix Wright, eyes hard and jaw set with righteous resolve. Above the din, the staccato pounding of the gavel could be heard as the Honorable Judge Gandalfson--known to some as "Judge Fickle" and to others as "the Great Judgini"--attempted to hush the crowd. "Order! Order in the court!" At last, the chamber fell silent. "I find it impossible to render a verdict at this time. I ask that the prosecution and the defense investigate this case further. Court will reconvene at 10:00 tomorrow morning." Phoenix nodded in silent consent. "That is all. Court is adjourned." The gavel struck and Miles awoke.

Turning his head toward the digital alarm clock that rested on a small wicker table to his right, he checked the time: 5:32am. What woke me up? Within seconds he picked up the muffled thump of socked feet on hardwood flooring. Ah, of course...Franziska. Smiling to himself, Miles stretched and began to dress.

Looking in the mirror, Franziska examined her image with a critical eye. Her skin was without blemish and this was to be expected, but her hair--while clean--was as frayed and restless as she herself had been the night before. Strands dangled over and away from their fellows, defying formation. Locks jutted out at odd angles, giving her hair an uneven, serrated look. This would not do. But the crowning touch was on her crown. Near the back, a solitary lock arched upward and drooped like a horse's tail. Heh...perhaps I am a wild mare. Brushing suppressed some of the rebellion, but it quickly became clear that more drastic measures would be necessary. Arming herself with her whip just in case Miles should get any foolish ideas, she opened the bedroom door and headed for the bathroom, intent on using the sink therein. Seeing that the bathroom door was open and the room itself was empty, she locked the door behind her and went about her grooming business. As she had suspected it would, water proved a valuable ally. With her hair in order, she returned to the bedroom and there changed into her professional attire. Pulling on her black leather gloves, she took one last evaluating look. Everything was as it should be. Even the aquamarine at her neck which declared her a von Karma shone with a cold beauty much like her own. Let the reconnaissance begin!

Miles had just gotten his pants on when he heard the familiar double footfalls outside his door.

"Are you dressed in there?"
Suppressing a chuckle, he replied, "I am naked and performing a strange ritual with goats."
As blunt as Papa had been about sex, nothing had prepared Franziska for this. "!...Miles! Don't put such images in my head!"
"Oh? I thought you might get a laugh out of it, seeing as how it's such a comically ludicrous picture."
"It may be ludicrous, but now you have me imagining you in the nude and worse still, trying to imagine what this 'ritual' might be! I ought to whip you for polluting my mind so."
"Do you dare while I'm still undressed?" he returned, thoroughly enjoying this.

You walked right into that one, you fool. Formless indignation welled up within her, but stuck in her throat when she tried to voice it. "Ggh!..." Her face began to flush. This was becoming too much. Franziska's reaction intrigued Miles. So such jokes cause her to fantasize about me...and in earnest too. Interesting. He cast a glance at the door. She must be pretty embarrassed right now... His mischievous grin mellowed into a pitying smile. Poor girl...I'll toss her a lifeline.

"A friend told me the story behind that wisecrack when I was in college. Would you like to hear it?"
Relieved to no longer be the butt of the joke, she recovered her powers of speech. "Sure."
"You see, this friend of mine had been a dancer for a professional ballet company. During one of their tours, he and his fellow male performers were in their dressing room when one of the women knocked on the door asking, 'Are you decent in there?' A hardened old veteran spoke up and the rest, as they say, is history."
Smiling in spite of herself, she had to ask. "How did it go over?"
"He didn't say." With that, he opened the door, emerging dressed in a simple maroon long-sleeved shirt, black slacks, and black sneakers.
"...You're not dressed for work."
"That's correct, and you can probably guess the reason."
"Probably so, but I still wish to hear your arguments."
"Very well...First, we spent the last few days hard at work, scurrying back and forth like headless chickens. That whole ordeal took a lot out of us, so I think we've earned a day's rest. Second, even if we don't feel it now, chances are that fatigue will overtake us if we go directly to work. To truly learn my weaknesses, you will need to see me at my strongest."
"What you say makes sense."
"Glad to hear that. I'll be open to suggestions regarding what to do for amusement as more options become available, but in the meantime make yourself at home." Fetching a book, he concluded, "If you have any requests, you need only tell me."
"That shouldn't be necessary, but thank you."

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Franziska wandered the apartment, giving everything a close look. The first thing she did was deepen her acquaintance with the bedroom. She needed to make sure her things were properly organized anyway. Mounted above the headboard, a rapier caught her eye, blade quite properly sheathed. She quickly recognized it as the very weapon her father had given Miles to use nine years ago as part of his studies. The immortal words Papa had spoken that day came flooding back to her.

"A prosecutor is first and foremost a soldier. Every case is a battle in the perpetual war of justice. As in physical war, lives hang in the balance. It is for this reason that swordplay is an integral part of your education. Many would start you out with a dull, 'safe' practice weapon on the grounds that it is too dangerous to start with real weapons. To that I say this: 'Safe' practice breeds recklessness. Recklessness is a most undesirable trait in a guardian of the law. A good prosecutor will approach every trial as if his very life depends on victory. For if he does not, he neglects his duty to the public he purports to protect."

On the nightstand stood a framed picture. On closer inspection she found that it was a picture of her, taken when she acquired her driver's license at age 16. She smirked. Ah, the eccentricities of the law. They'll let you prosecute at 13, but they won't let you drive for three more years. That's bureaucrats for you.

Turning around, she walked into the area that served as the kitchen. What are his dietary habits? In the refrigerator she found a head of lettuce, an onion, cherry tomatoes, raw mushrooms, wheat bread, chicken breast, feta and ricotta cheese. Behind the containers of cheese, a carton of orange juice and a bottle of red wine vinegar kept each other company. This is it? A search of the freezer revealed only ice, but she hit the jackpot when she began searching the cupboards. Here she found canned olives, olive oil, spices, tomato sauce, pasta. Aha! Now it all makes sense. Opening another, she found tea in abundance. Of course. He probably uses it to wind down after work. For the most part satisfied but still curious, she opened one more. Surely you must keep some sweets around here. What she saw made her beam with pride. Ha! Marzipan! I introduced you to this.

In high spirits, she entered the room that served as his office. Over the cherry desk to her left, a portrait of the late Gregory Edgeworth regarded her solemnly. Papa, I may never know for certain what exactly you felt when you first beheld this man, but seeing him myself, I am uneasy. I feel naked, base. Could this have been part of what spurred you to kill him? She was about to avert her eyes when she noticed some writing in the lower right hand corner. Looking closer, she read: Harold Butz, 12-28-98. Gah! What a grim coincidence! Spooked, she slowly backed out and into the living room. Feeling a little light-headed, she searched for a place to sit. It wasn't long before she found an inviting wing chair across from Miles, who hadn't made a sound in the last several minutes.

Seating herself, she saw that he was fast asleep. His chin rested on his chest and the book he had been reading lay closed on his lap beneath slack, empty hands. So vulnerable. She recalled her childhood.

***


Her studies had started to become too much. She had gotten into the habit of spending the entire night hard at work, straining her eyes with the effort of absorbing the content of the mind-numbingly cumbersome law books by the sparse light of a candle--it would not do to risk falling asleep with an electric light on. That would've left brilliant evidence of her dimness of mind and in the von Karma household, showing weakness was even worse than being weak. Fatigue had begun to take its toll. One particularly trying morning, she returned to her room fully intending to read up on the material Papa had introduced in his lecture but once she seated herself at her desk, sleep overtook her. Two hours later, fear and shame jolted her awake. Much to her surprise, she found her book in front of her and open--to the appropriate section, no less. It was then that she noticed a hand next to it. She looked up and to her right. There sat Miles with a soft smile on his face. Her eyes shot open, wide with surprise and apprehension. He put a finger to his mouth in a hushing gesture. "It's okay." he whispered. "I'm keeping watch. You can sleep now." She looked to her left. "I closed the door." he continued. "I'll wake you if the need arises. If anyone asks, we're studying." he concluded with a conspiratorial wink...

***


Heaven only knew how many whacks of the switch he had shielded her from that way. She smiled. Well Miles, you watched over me those years ago. Now it's my turn to watch over you. She gripped her whip, protective instincts kicking in. And heaven have mercy on the poor fool who tries to disturb you...because I certainly won't. Time got away from her as she watched him sleep. He looked so peaceful. It was such a contrast to the startlingly abrupt creak of bedsprings and heavy breathing in the next room that had sometimes punctuated her late night study sessions. At least you can sleep peacefully now, Miles. What was that recurring nightmare again? ...Oh yes. DL-6. ...Now that I think about it, this father of yours seems to have been a very powerful influence on you considering that his life was so short. I ought to ask you about him when you regain consciousness.

She had begun to nod off herself when she heard a soft thump in the hall immediately outside the door. Curious, she got up to investigate. Looking through the peephole, she saw no one. They must have left something on the floor. Opening the door, she looked down. Ah, the newspaper. Of course. Returning to her seat, she saw that Miles was awake.

"My apologies, Franziska..." he began with a wry smile, "I've been a bad host. I didn't mean to fall asleep. Hopefully you haven't been too bored in the meantime."
"Oh, not at all. I took the opportunity to investigate."
"Oh? Did you turn up anything of interest?"
Taking silent note of the twinkle in his eye, she put on a saccharine smile and told the truth with relish. "Yes...a picture."
"Is that so? Very interesting. Which picture?"
Her smile faded as the image came back to her. "A portrait of your father."
"Ah." he began with a nod, "The one over my desk."
"Yes, that's the one."
"What about it interested you?"
"Well, for starters, there's the signature in the lower right corner."
"Really?"
"Yes. It's signed, 'Harold Butz, 12-28-98'."
"Harold Butz...Where have I heard that name before? ...Oh yes! That's Larry's father, you know."
"You're kidding."
"Not in the least. Larry made a lot of joke capital out of his father's name. He would say, 'My dad is Harry.' and leave you to figure out exactly what he meant."
"So childish."
"He was a child at the time."
"He's still a child."
"True." He paused, eyes turning upward in contemplation. “Like father, like son I suppose.”
“Wait a minute…you knew Harold Butz?”
“Personally, no. However, my father did talk about him on occasion. …Come to think of it, one of those times was on December 28th, 1998.”
“He talked about the portrait?”
“Yes…He dropped me off at his parents’ house early in the afternoon that day. I remember that took me by surprise. He told me he would ‘be back in a little while.’ Someone had told him that he had ‘important business’ with him.”
“Oh brother. This is starting to sound like that pathetic ‘love letter.’”
Amusement lit Miles’s eyes. “Indeed.” After a brief pause, he continued, “It was 9:00 when my father picked me up and we went back home. I had been upset that this ‘business’ had taken so long, but when I saw his face, my grievances evaporated. For the first time in several days, he was in a light-hearted mood. When he put me to bed, he told me that when Mr. Butz said he had ‘important business’, he had thought his services were needed again. That was why he hadn’t taken me along. Then he showed me that portrait. Apparently Harold had seen him looking down and tried to cheer him up in his own bumbling way—by painting his portrait free of charge. My father found the whole situation funny…and in retrospect, so do I.”

His mirth proved infectious. They locked eyes, temporarily frozen in mute awe of the symmetry they had just discovered. No more than a second could’ve passed, but it felt like a minute. The silence was broken when they fell into mutual laughter. Four seconds had passed when they became self-conscious and quickly regained composure, though it remained a bit forced.

“Do you think that’s where Larry got his artistic…inclinations?”
He grinned. “Can’t bring yourself to say ‘talent’ can you? Not that I blame you. He was an extremely difficult witness. At any rate, it’s quite possible. We know that’s where he got his social skills…or lack of such. I can’t say for certain…or then again, maybe I can.”
With a nod, she silently urged him to go on.
“Back in school, he used to draw…unflattering caricatures on the chalkboard.”
“Of the teacher?”
“Yes. Those caricatures got quite a few laughs.”
“From you?”
“Come now, I didn’t grow up that fast. I may have been known as a ‘stick in the mud’, but I was a boy too. Of course I found them amusing. Anyway, looking back, they were pretty good—unusually good coming from a grade-schooler. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he learned a bit from his father.”
"Going back to the portrait..."
"Yes?"
"I couldn’t help but notice that your father looks quite somber in it."
"That he does...in fact, I think I know the reason."
"Really? What would that be?"
"He was probably still dealing with the loss of his wife."
"Divorce?"
"No...something much more final."
"You don't mean..."
"Yes...1998 was the year my mother left us. She died on Christmas Day--ovarian cancer."
Slowly Franziska shook her head. "No wonder."
"He took it pretty hard, as did I. Oh, he tried to hide it from me--wanted to protect me, I suppose. But even I could tell he wasn't the same. Something within him died that day."
"What gave him away?"
"How to put this...It was as if his soul had been...neutered. He accepted his lot, took disappointments in stride, but he was never unqualifiedly happy again. His drive was significantly diminished."
"So he grew weak."
"I wouldn't say that. More like 'tired'. He soldiered on as if nothing happened, but his enthusiasm was gone...buried. In short, he became stoic. He remained that way for the rest of his life."
Growing uncomfortable with the way the conversation was going, Franziska changed the topic. "What were you reading?"
Miles paused for a second, then smiled with comprehension. "Ah yes...this book?"
She nodded.
"Appropriately enough, it's titled, 'The Trial'."
"Fiction or non-fiction?"
He chuckled. "Fiction, though it does have a certain...prophetic quality about it."
"Interesting. Who wrote it?"
"It's an old classic, actually. Are you familiar with Franz Kafka?"
"I recognize the name, but I've never read his work."
"I'd recommend it. It's not for the faint of heart, but it serves as a good...eye-opener."
"How so?"
"I would like to tell you, but I'm afraid I might cheapen the experience if I were to summarize it for you. Material like this is best absorbed at one's own pace."
"Very well. Perhaps I shall take it out at the library when I return home, then."
"By the way...what time is it?"
"8:25."
The wry smile returned as he shifted his gaze downward. "I've been a very bad host."
"Stop obsessing about that, Miles. I quite enjoyed watching you sleep. It was very de--" Highly embarrassed, Franziska fell silent.
Miles looked up, eyebrows raised as he brought a hand to his chin. "What was that?"
Embarrassed yourself again. Nice going. Franziska raised a hand in warding. "It...it brought back pleasant memories."
"Ah...I'm glad the time passed pleasantly for you. Still no thanks to me, but--"
"Miles! You have nothing to be sorry about. Stop apologizing!"
He chuckled. "Yes ma'am."
“So, was there another reason you asked the time?”
“Yes. I suspected it might be a good time to go out for some coffee.”
“Coffee? I thought you preferred tea.”
“Generally I do, but I also enjoy the occasional strong stimulant and since I have a guest, I thought going out might be fun. That and watching Mr. Armando drink so much of it rekindled my own interest in it.”
“Don’t imitate that man too closely now.”
“You sound serious. Did he rub you the wrong way?”
“Ach, he is easily the most annoying Schwein I have ever met.”
“Wow…He must’ve made you mad if he causes you to revert to German. What did he do?”
Franziska set her face in a derisive scowl. “’Hey filly. Know your role and shut your mouth. I can’t stand women like you.’”
Miles started laughing.
“What’s so funny?”
“…Your reenactment. You mimicked his voice rather well, considering your relative lack of testosterone…and the growl was a nice touch.”
“Oh…Thank you.”
“Was that it?”
“Oh, no. When he wasn’t being a complete pill, he was infuriatingly smarmy.”
“Yes…?”
“When Mr. Phoenix Wright asked him a question, he said, ‘My eyes have a date with the horizon. They’re flirting with the gulls. I have no interest in aiding a defense attorney such as yourself, Trite.’”
Miles smirked. “To which Wright could have said, ‘In that case, look out below.’”

Try as she might, Franziska couldn’t control her laughter. The image was too splendidly undignified. Miles Edgeworth had struck again—subtle, graceful, sharp. She envied his finesse. Her own experiments in ridicule had been more…clumsy.

“How do you do that?”
He shrugged. “It’s all in the mindset—detaching yourself from the situation, taking it all in, finding the humor in his words, and then sticking him with it. The best weapons are often the ones your opponent gives you.”
“Thank you. I shall remember that.”
“And I’ll be certain not to remind you too vividly of Mr. Armando. The police might mistake me for a key murder witness.” He gestured toward the door. “Speaking of keys, shall we go?”
Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Miles/Fran Upd: 7-24)Topic%20Title
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First off...

FINALLY!! I've been waiting for the next chapter!!!

Anyway...

Wonderful, wonderful! It's been awhile since I've read a Fran/Miles fanfic (mostly been reading some Ema/Klavier and a wee bit of Iris/Nick), so this was a nice theme to come back to. Absolutely great; I love the little bits of humor put into it and the allusions (though I may unfortunately not recognize them :sadshoe: ) that make the story come alive. I eagerly await what you'll do with this; it's touching and sweet along with good writing at the same time. Well done! :will:
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Re: Treasure in the Abyss--(T&T Spoilers, Miles/Fran Upd: 7-24)Topic%20Title
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This is really really good, you're a talented writer! I'm enjoying this Fic, can't wait for the next chapter!

:phoenix:
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Ladies and gents, as thoroughly improbable as it may sound, this project is still alive. I recently got serious about resuming both of my flagship fics in earnest, and since this particular fic has seen the fewest updates of any sort, I decided to advance this plot first. At long last, the next chapter is ready. I now present...

Chapter V: A Bitter Draught

"Starbucks?" Franziska asked as they left the car, amused that Miles should choose something so...common.
He shrugged. "What can I say? It's familiar. Wherever I am in the world, I can usually count on finding one of these...and I've tasted far worse."
She smiled knowingly. "That abominable French restaurant?"
"Yes, that's the one. It had a most ironic name. The chef's talented; I'll give him that. He'd have to be to make coffee taste that bad."
"The look on Scruffy's face as he choked his food down was priceless, though. I hadn't seen him wear that plastic smile since I gave him clown duty."
"Clown duty? You don't mean Moe, do you?"
Her eyes danced. "Who else?"
"He probably preferred the whip."
"No doubt," she purred.

Miles couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was something about Franziska at moments like these that...drew him--something primal, almost feral. In that way she was much like her father. They both had that peculiar brand of charisma that should have repelled but somehow managed to attract, like the lethal beauty of a predatory cat--the kind that could eat you for lunch but was so fascinating to behold that you almost didn't care. And when they shared that trademark leer with you instead of pointing it at you, the rush was incredible. The rest of the world could hate you with a burning passion and it wouldn't matter. "After you," he said, opening the front door.

They had scarcely seated themselves when a high-pitched feminine voice pierced the din. "Mr. Edgeworth! Is that you?" Startled, they turned their heads and saw a bright-eyed, brown-haired girl with pink glasses rapidly approaching. If she noticed Franziska, she gave no sign. "So good to see you again! What's new?" Highly annoyed, Franziska suppressed a sigh and focused her gaze on the serving counter nine feet away. Revealing her irritation at this point would be most inconvenient. How could she explain it away to another when she didn’t understand it herself? Why did this naïve little mädchen annoy her so much? Their respective designs on Miles couldn’t have anything in common…could they? The praise of an admirer could be very useful toward the dulling of his vigilance, so why did she begrudge him the company? This promised to give her a headache if she thought about it too much, so she tried to forget the whole experience, though she couldn’t bring herself to stop listening. Miles replied with reassuring efficiency, even if he was a little more polite than she thought he had to be.

"There was an emergency which called us to America a few days ago, but it has been taken care of. We are now recovering from the trip," he summarized. “Franziska, this is Ema Skye. You might remember that I once worked under her older sister.”
“Ah,” Franziska replied briefly. “The name does sound familiar.”
"So, what happened?" Ema pressed.
"It's a long story but since it involved Wright, I suppose you deserve to know. There was a murder at Hazakura Temple. Needless to say, the situation taxed us all rather heavily, but it also brought out the best in a lot of us, notably Wright. He did some of his best work that week."
"Ooh, that sounds fascinating! You'll have to tell me more! I'd better get going, but..." Producing a notepad, she wrote something on it and tore off the top sheet. "You can tell me over e-mail. Until then!"

With a brief but enthusiastic wave of farewell Ema left the building. Franziska relaxed, only now realizing that she had been holding her breath much of the time. Miles was right; Mr. Phoenix Wright had indeed done some of his best work that week, but not in court--not from her perspective. No, he had shown his mettle at the crime scene and in the hospital. She had laughed upon learning the details, but less out of amusement than as a way to avoid crying. She would sooner use her whip as a noose than say as much to the man himself, but that kind of heroism hit her right where it hurt the most. Would anyone do that for her? She couldn't be sure. She had antagonized so many people... Even little children like Pearl hated her. How much less could she expect such devotion from her peers?

If someone glares at you, it's only polite to return the favor.

The sight of two white cups reminded her of the official reason she had turned her gaze toward the counter. The drinks were ready. Picking them up, she looked down at the slits in the lids and briefly imagined a certain white-haired fool looking up at her with that insufferable toothsome smirk of his, amused in spite of herself. Good thing he isn’t here. Otherwise he’d be smiling widely enough to eat the courthouse. Her mood had improved considerably by the time she reached the table. Miles was staring at something on the wall—a poster, by the look of it.
"Well, what do you know..."
"What is it, Miles?"
"We were just discussing the circus a few minutes ago and here we find an ad for one."
"Oh?"

Sure enough, Child's Play Circus Academy was performing this week and one of the performances was today at 1 pm. The show was called "Grimm", presumably in honor of the Brothers Grimm, whose collected tales the troupe was using. A group of prodigies, acting out tales which were part of the von Karma heritage... The concept appealed to her.

"Are you still accepting suggestions?"
"I certainly am."
"What do you think of catching that show?"
He smiled slyly. "I see no reason to refuse."
"Do you think they'll include Papa's favorite?"
"We'll have to see."
"You remember it, I'm sure."
"How could I forget? He almost became a different person when he read it. ...He would hate to hear this, but he reminded me of my own father at those times."
"You're right; he would. I can see why you might say that, though."
Miles took a sip and almost dropped his drink. “Ow!” He smiled, slowly shaking his head. “Mental note: remove lid next time.”
“By the way, how hot do you suppose Mr. Diego Armando’s coffee was when he did those spit takes?”
“Interesting question… Judging by the fact that he drank the stuff at the speed of light or something suspiciously close to it, I’d guess that it never had much time to cool down.”
“Scalding, then?” She shrugged. “We already know that he cries blood, so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised if he spits blood too.”
Seized with laughter, Miles rested his forehead on one hand. What have I done?

Time got away from them as they discussed the more humorous aspects of the case they had just left behind, drinks almost entirely forgotten. It was 12:30 pm when Miles took a cursory glance at his watch. After briefly considering the feasibility of catching a bite for lunch, they decided against it and headed for the venue. Lunch could wait.

After a 20-minute drive they arrived at a permanent facility with a roof of vinyl-coated polyester supported by steel beams. The interior would have been rather dark if it weren’t for the electric lighting, which gave the place a festive glow. The arena proper was capable of seating one thousand and the seats were a little more than half full when they were admitted, allowing them to find seats in the middle row on the right, though the speed at which the seats filled made the wisdom of going straight there beyond dispute. Opening her copy of the program, Franziska suppressed a laugh and vigorously tapped the sixth page with her right index finger.

"This is too perfect."
"What is?"
"See for yourself."

He looked where she was pointing. She was right. Not only was Hansel and Gretel part of the show but there in the list of characters was Manfred the Woodcutter. Reading about the wife's "insatiable appetite", Franziska was reminded of an entry she had found in one of Papa's old journals.

***


Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Victory. Goodbye, Anna, and good riddance. My wife of three years has left me for a reprobate and futilely sought to make me finance her whoredom. Little Franziska had drawn breath for barely more than a year when her faithless mother served me divorce papers. "I can do better than you," she said. "In fact, I could crush you with my little finger, and I'm going to prove it by breaking you utterly. No woman could love you for anything but your money and by the time I'm finished with you, every last pfennig you earn will be mine." She said far more than this, but the rest of her monologue is too vile to record on these pages. Those who wish to hear it all can watch the tape I captured it on and played for the court. Security cameras can be very useful things. I should have seen it coming months before I did. After all, "Franziska" carries the meaning "free woman". Knowing Anna, that can't have been an accident. As if our own flesh and blood were just another source of coin!

I will never set foot in family court again, but golden memories were created when I was there. The look on Anna's face as I played that tape was priceless. The effort bled me white, but representing myself was the best decision I could have made. A lesser man would have lost in my position. Anna was very clever, but she was also reckless and that recklessness was her downfall. Sole custody is mine, both of Franziska and of my earnings. All those resources which I would have freely given to Anna if she had remained faithful I now devote to our daughter, who sleeps in the crib beside me as I write.

Sleep well, my little edelweiss, for it is only a matter of time before you rise to greatness as a truly free woman, not a hostage to your mother's avarice, and our revenge is made perfect. Your papa will see to it. Verlina was stolen from me by a murderer's bullet and Anna betrayed us, but even without a mother, you will thrive; this I swear. I will be the perfect father and you too will be perfect, little one. We shall both be perfect. Perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (...) Bah! Accursed tears... I cannot afford them. I must be strong. I will be strong.

--Manfred

***


"Ah, do you suppose that's the connection?" Miles asked.
"What?"
"Do you think he related to the woodcutter?"
"I'm sure of it."
"Interesting. I gathered that the story must have held some personal significance for him, but he never told me what it was."
"He never really told me either. I stumbled across it after his sentencing. When I asked him who my mother was, he showed me a picture and told me that her name was Anna, that she was his second wife, and that she left the family when I was very young, but that was all. If his journal can be trusted—and I believe it can, since he kept both its existence and its contents a secret—she was a gold digger and bore me with the prime intention of using me as leverage against him. He won the custody battle, obviously, but I don’t think he ever fully recovered from it. Hansel and Gretel was probably the closest he could come to talking about it, in addition to being a useful tale to share with us in particular.”
Slowly Miles nodded. “That explains a lot. ‘Beware of beauty,’ he often said. ‘Appreciate it, yes, but never let it blind you, for evil is at its most dangerous when you can’t see it.’” He chuckled. “Funny… If I had taken that advice more seriously, this last case might never have happened.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you remember my first case?”
“State vs. Fawles?”
“Yes, that one.”
“I remember reading about it… You narrowly escaped defeat, correct?”
“Yes, and that by a technicality; the defendant died on the stand.”
“Poison, was it?”
“Correct. His death might have been beyond my power to prevent, but Dahlia Hawthorne was at the center of that fiasco. If I had made proper use of that bit of advice, she could have been caught far earlier than she was and thereby prevented from murdering Mr. Swallow or conspiring with her mother. Instead I drew the easy, convenient conclusion and focused on Fawles, to the detriment of the public good.”
“He was the perfect suspect, though. Who could blame you for that?”
“Ah, but I knew that his previous murder conviction was based on a lie, that the victim had intended to reveal the truth, and that my witness had more to lose than Fawles did by letting the truth come out. I allowed myself to be ruled by convenience and the results were disastrous. The von Karma family creed is incompatible with the tactics we have used in our attempts to live up to it. To be perfect in every way is a very noble goal, but it is impossible to build a mansion out of twigs and that is precisely what we’ve been attempting.”

Stunned, she paused to think about that. She had long been wrestling with a growing sense of futility. Every courtroom victory since her first, even before her winning streak was broken, had felt increasingly cheap. Victory grew less satisfying and defeat more frightening with every new case, leaving her weary and irritable much of the time with no relief in sight. Papa had been irritable much of the time… Could this have been one of the reasons why? If even he couldn’t escape this crushing weight of impossible obligation, what was the point? She was afraid of the answer but she had to ask.

“Is it pointless, then, to pursue perfection?”
“No.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “No?”
“No. On that level, Manfred was right. Perfection is the standard toward which all mankind must work if progress is to be made. The error lies in the belief that we can achieve it in our own strength. A vital prerequisite is constant readiness to accept correction, from other people…and perhaps from a higher power.”
“A higher power? I thought you were a man of science.”
He smirked. “So did I, but I can think of no secular explanation for what we saw in America.”

The lights dimmed, the audience fell silent, and the show began. Now this was a circus. How a bare-bones act like the Berry Big Circus could compete with it Franziska was hard-pressed to imagine, though Max had ambition to burn. Contortion, French trapeze, Russian bar… There was no comparison, though she supposed it wasn’t quite fair to judge BBC in the absence of its acrobats. Perhaps Ken and Sean could have made the difference. That reminded her…

“Miles?” she whispered.
“Yes?”
“Why did you suggest that surprise search of Acro’s room? Did Max Galactica strike you as too convenient a suspect, or some such foolishness?”
He chuckled. “Not quite. I thought the possibility of Acro having done it worth investigating, but more to the point, since the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, it occurred to me that a good place to look for the murder weapon was Acro’s room, where I understood that there was a large collection of junk. No matter who the killer was, it seemed likely that Money would bring the murder weapon up there.”
She sighed. “Of course—the monkey. I should have known.”
“No need to beat yourself up over it. It’s perfectly understandable how you might have overlooked it. In your position, I might have done the same thing. That’s why teamwork is so important.”

As the show continued, Franziska found herself growing tense. It was almost as if she was right there with them, doing all those tricks. Soon her arms and legs started to ache, causing her to break concentration and stretch out in her chair. Glancing to one side she saw Miles looking quite relaxed, gazing ahead with that same soft smile she had seen on him during those daytime vigils when he shielded her from discovery. Were her eyes deceiving her or was he leaning slightly in her direction? Regardless, she was sorely tempted to do some leaning of her own. Papa would laugh. No…she couldn’t afford to let sentiment get in the way. She was on a mission. Reluctantly she tore her eyes away from him and tried to focus on the show, thoroughly ashamed of herself.

Constricted by her own melancholy, she watched the final portion of the show with unseeing eyes. The seats had begun to empty when she realized the show was over. Picking up on this, Miles spoke not a word, instead offering a hand as she rose from her chair, which she absently took.
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