My son is bored. Care to play with him?
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 4:06 am
Drum roll, please!
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."
"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."
"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."
"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.”
“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..."
"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."
"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?"
"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."
"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?"
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.”
“Was that it?”
“Oh, no. When he wasn’t being a complete pill, he was infuriatingly smarmy.”
“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?”