Two Legs or Four
Von Karma Estate, April 10, 2019
Miles stood there in the study, drained brandy glass on the
desk next to him, eyes squeezed tightly closed, as if trying to shut out the
waves of guilt and embarrassment washing over him. In his mind's eye, he could distinctly
recollect his most recent park visit with Franziska, now in a different,
"Look at that, liebling," she'd laughingly pointed to a small boy, no more than four, trying to throw a Frisbee at his German Sheppard. However, his tiny chubby hands wouldn't allow him to toss the disc any more than a foot away from him. "Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever seen?"
"Indeed," Miles agreed. "The pup looks like he's getting antsy with anticipation over there." He walked over to the little boy, and smilingly picked up the Frisbee at his feet. "Try tossing like this," he suggested kindly, flicking his wrist and expertly tossing the yellow disc to the expectant pooch, who caught it with ease and then trotted over to them, tail wagging.
Miles then walked back to her, grinning proudly as the child tried to emulate the throwing movement he'd just been demonstrated, with a tad more success this time. "Keep on practicing!" The prosecutor called, graciously inclining his head to the lady seated nearby on the bench, who was apparently the toddler's mother.
"I changed my mind." Franziska took his hand and pressed a kiss on his cheek. "That, liebling, was the cutest thing I've ever seen."
Miles blushed and ran a hand through his hair. "Well, what to tell you, meine dame? I'm a big fan of Frisbee!"
"Wouldn't it be wonderful to have one of those running afoot?" She gushed, her eyes sparkling with delight at the thought. "Or one of those?" She gestured towards a small girl and her Golden Retriever, which was patiently allowing the child to tie her bonnet on its head. "I mean, not now, obviously," she amended quickly, looking up at him expectantly. "But maybe…someday?"
Miles smiled down at her, endeared by her hopeful expression, and leaned down to press a kiss on her forehead in response.
Reminiscing now, Miles could plainly see, beyond any shadow of a doubt, exactly what Franziska had been referencing. Coupling that with her alluding commentary at the wedding reception, it was so glaringly obvious that he actually slapped his forehead with his hand, cursing his obtuseness for the umpteenth time.
On top of that, he now vividly remembered the unprecedented enthusiasm she'd shown as she'd dragged him around to over a dozen infant clothing stores in search of the perfect items for the Gumshoe baby basket. He recollected how charmed he'd been at seeing his normally refined lover squealing with glee as she held up each bootie and onesie for his inspection. And how utterly adorable he'd thought she'd been with her uncharacteristic cooing as she'd leaned over to peek into every baby carriage that came into the shop, and then sighed meaningfully as she'd looked over at him.
Of course, she had been pointing out the boy and girl, and not the damn canines! How could he have ever thought his traditionally born and raised European girlfriend had been hinting for marriage…and a dog?
If he did manage to fix things with Franziska, assuming he hadn't ruined things beyond repair, he vowed that he was going to become a very religious man.
Miles Edgeworth was going to get down on his knees and pray to God that any children He blessed him and Franziska with would have their Mother's brains and not their Father's.
Because Daddy may just possibly be the most completely daft prick in all of existence! Miles berated himself with disgust as he headed out to the hallway and dashed up the stairs.
Franziska sat on the armchair in front of the bedroom fireplace, gloomily staring into the dancing flames. In her hands was her favorite mantle photo. It had been taken at Gumshoe's wedding, with Miles bending her over in a melodramatic embrace and her head thrown back in laughter. The framed glass was splashed with wet teardrops, but her crying had long since subsided, replaced by a dull ache in her chest. The events that had just transpired kept replaying over and over in her mind on the same unhappy treadmill. She had never felt more desolate in her entire life.
OK, so Miles apparently hadn't been planning on taking off to California without her, and had asked her to come with him. It was just that it had seemed like an afterthought since he'd already made the decision to go. A sort of "you can come, if you want," kind of thing. It was reminiscent of when he'd first taken off to the States to be a Prosecutor while she was still an adolescent and left her behind without a second glance. Was this what her life had come to? Him just up and leaving whenever he saw fit, leaving her no choice but to follow him like an obedient puppy?
He hadn't even gone yet, but Franziska felt like the abandoned 12-year-old girl she'd been all over again.
Damn that blasted man for making her be this way! The tough as nails, take no prisoners firecracker femme she used to be had been completely obliterated for good, leaving this vulnerable, emotional, weepy mess of a girl behind in her wake.
Two decades of impenetrable brusque exterior, meant for self-preservation, forever vanquished…entirely due to one exhilarating, heart-pounding, breathtaking embrace at an airport departure gate one year ago.
The bastard had swept her off her feet, literally and figuratively in every sense of the word. And as much as it pained her to admit it, while she was still an ambitious, driven and career-minded woman, that fierce, completely independent side of her was long gone. It was no longer of importance to her if she became head of Interpol if she would be doing so alone, without Miles by her side. If he were to leave her now, after everything he'd come to mean to her, her total achievements, her wealth, and all else that had mattered to her would cease to have meaning. She would merely exist in a hallow and meaningless life, but no longer truly be living.
All because of a handsome, passionate, maddening man who had broken down all of her defenses and taken complete control of her mind, heart and soul. Who had made her take her guard down and feel delirious excitement and joy she couldn't otherwise have ever known existed. Who had taken her to unbelievable paradise she never could have dreamed of before …and now was condemning her to a lonely hell if she didn't go along with his chosen life's path.
To be fair, what he was offering her was scarcely a hardship. Most women would have leapt at the opportunity to have such a gorgeous, sexy, successful man by their side, even without the tantalizing package he offered: a luxe penthouse in sunny Los Angeles, a window-lit office right next to his at the workplace where she'd been renowned and respected, a playful, adorable dog named Pess to play Mommy to.
And complete and utter uncertainty about ever getting anything she wanted beyond that.
It's not what I want. It's not enough.
It's better than nothing.
Love means sacrifice, Franziska Von Karma.
The inner turmoil was creating havoc on her psyche, which was ridiculous. Ultimately, she knew what the answer was. There had never really been any real doubt.
Franziska loved Miles Edgeworth. She couldn't live without him. She would take him in any way she could have him, even if it was on his terms. The alternative was unspeakable.
She rose from her chair. As she turned, she saw him, looming silently in the doorway.
At the sight of him, so near, so unexpected, so incredibly beloved, Franziska cried out, and the picture in her hands fell with a thud to the carpeted floor. Mercifully, the glass in the frame didn't shatter, but she was disconcerted by her clumsiness nevertheless. She leaned over to pick it up, but in a flash, Miles strode over, stopping her in mid-action by gripping her hand, pulling her up and forcing her to look at his tormented face.
"Meine dame," he rasped, putting his finger under her chin and tilting up her head so she could see the unmasked sorrow in his eyes. "Please forgive me."
"Forgive you for what, liebling?" The sight of his pained expression was gut-wrenching, and she fought back the sob building within her.
"For the same reason I let you first get on that plane a year ago, without me. Because I'm a coward, Franziska. An alleged genius prosecutor in the courtroom, and complete emotional cripple in every other way." He put his hands on her shoulders, his welling eyes filled with so much love and regret it brought tears to her own. "I have known you for so long, and yet I've been fooling myself with the logic that I am still an expert on the girl you once were, the cold, rebellious hoyden who would shun all thoughts of matrimony and motherhood. I have done you great disfavor, meine dame, and I can only beg your pardon for such now. I have been blatantly ignoring or willfully misreading the hints you've been giving me, suggesting contradicting evidence which belied all my prejudiced thoughts and were not allowing me see the woman you've since become. How could you have ever wanted a future with a daft, ignorant fool such as me?"
She laid a hand against his strong jaw, her eyes shimmering with tears. "Please, stop beating yourself up over this liebling," she begged, her heart lurching painfully at the agonized look on his face. "I completely forgive you."
"I've been so unfair to you, meine dame." He took her hand, which was resting against his cheek, and softly kissed her palm. "You have changed so much these past few years, Franziska, and I've made myself too blind to see it. I've never been good with voicing my emotions…I've only just recently gotten used to even having feelings!" A lone tear fell from his eye and rolled down his cheek as he spoke. "So I'm ashamed to admit that I took the gutless path because it was ultimately easier; fooling myself into believing what you didn't want because I was too pathetically terrified to voice what, for some time now, I've so desperately wanted."
"Liebling, I know this how hard this must be for you." Franziska soothed, gently wiping away his tear with her fingers. "I appreciate and accept your apology all the more because I know it takes a very big man, especially such a proud one, to own up to his follies, let alone beg pardon for them. As for how hard it is to express feelings, and the deepest desires of the heart, believe you me, nobody understands that better than I do. We're two of a kind in that sense. I had no idea that I even had a heart, until I gave it to you." She reached her arms around his powerful shoulders and buried her face in his neck. "Now listen to me, birthday boy, I forbid you to waste one more tear or moment of regret on this subject, understood?"
The words were spoken with complete sincerity. As Miles held the woman he loved in his arms, he was filled with sheer relief his complete idiocy hadn't cost him her heart, as well as complete wonder. While he'd always realized that fetching, formidable Franziska Von Karma was quite the catch, and he was a lucky man to be with her, it wasn't until that exact moment that he realized how blessed he was to have her.
She was the embodiment of joy and love, an exquisite combination of feminine wisdom that belied her years, a compelling mix of wanton and innocence, and courageous impertinence. She also had the truest, most forgiving, compassionate soul he'd ever known in his entire life. He knew she was too good for him; that he didn't deserve her. But for some strange reason he couldn't quite fathom, this wingless ethereal angel loved him. Had cried at the thought of losing him, on two occasions now.
He stared deeply into her beautiful, eyes, which were completely devoid of any anger or accusation, and only shining with love, and had to swallow hard against the lump in his throat.
"There's so much more I need to say to you, meine dame. So much more you deserve to hear." He buried his face into her hair and wrapped his arms tightly around her slender waist. "But I can't. I can't find the words."
The naked anguish in his voice brought tears to her eyes. "I can," she whispered brokenly. "You taught them to me. I love you. I love you."
Threading his fingers through her hair, he framed her face between his hands and gazed at her. "Ich liebe dich," he whispered hoarsely. "God! How I love you." He pulled her forward and kissed her with aching tenderness, pulling her so tightly against him he could feel her heart beating against his.
"That's all you'll ever need to say, liebling," she murmured huskily, when their lips finally parted. "And that's all I'll ever need to hear."
"Actually, there is one more thing you need to hear, meine dame." Miles looked down at her and flashed a wicked grin upon seeing her questioning look. "There is no way in hell I'm ever going to let you name any daughter of ours Manfrieda!"