Takes place directly after the resolution of case 3-5. Franziska tries to break free of the lies she has been living in. Spoiler warning is obvious. Some romance.
It didn’t seem to matter to the people around her, who seemed to be…enjoying themselves. She looked blankly across their faces, the people who she had come to know. They were happy. The defense attorney, target of her misplaced revenge, the person who had given her a taste of defeat for the first time in her ‘perfect’ life. She almost respected him, or at least was no longer angry about having her previous life destroyed. There was his assistant…Maya Fey, or something like that…the spirit medium had a carefree expression plastered across her face, in some sort of enthusiastic discussion with her cousin…also smiling. In fact, as the prosecutor glanced around the table, she noted the intense aura of happiness that emanated from each person. The laughter that came from that Scruffy detective, the cheerful shouts from the kitchen to their table, telling them to ‘keep it down’, as if that would help, the ridiculous contest that raged between Phoenix and his childhood friend…Larry something… Everyone was ecstatic…completely blissful.
It was nauseating.
None of them understood her pain, no one could grasp what it was like to have every ounce of meaning stripped away from their lives, to suddenly be free from perfection, and at the same time bound to it.
If they knew, they would not be smiling.
Phoenix had given up on her, said plainly out loud that she would never understand what fighting for the truth was.
He was wrong.
She had thrown away her dreams for perfection, tried to forget every single moment of her wasted life, everything her father had taught her.
And yet, with everything she’d tried to cast aside, the pain somehow increased, the heaviness of her thoughts became more intense, and she found herself unable to tolerate anything, any ignorant smiles, any carefree laughter.
It made her sick.
They could never understand her. Never help her. She was lost, already too far gone.
Her life was wasted. Wasted.
And she couldn’t say anything about it.
Stopping the jubilee to announce that her problems were STILL there…it would be pointless.
They wouldn’t, they couldn’t do anything to console her.
As much as she was beyond the days of considering herself disgraced after a lost trial, she knew that deep inside, she was still disgraced, if not literally, then metaphorically.
She didn’t want to live with herself.
A faked smile had gotten her here, among the hubbub of those celebrating, and at least when they were watching, she had to stay ‘happy’.
But now that they were looking away…the feelings attacked her, and she was in no way prepared to deal with them. In some ways, this was worse than her pathway to perfection being sealed off, as though it had felt as if her world had ended, at least she could keep going.
But to realize that everything in her life, everything she had ever worked for had been a lie…
She was being watched, intently, by a pair of flickering brown eyes, perhaps the only other person at the table who was not participating in the celebration. She was trying to look away, trying to avoid his gaze, as though that would somehow make her problems magically disappear.
Just having him look in her direction hurt, and as his eyes briefly moved to a distraction, she slipped away from the table, outside, into the cutting, icy night.
A light wind rustled the trees, and she faced the darkness, wondering if anyone would perhaps notice her disappearance.
She almost laughed at the thought.
And there was someone behind her.
She knew who it was, knew that he had followed her outside, knew that he wanted to talk.
And she didn’t want to.
“Don’t do this to yourself.”
Of course. The usual command, as though SHE were the one doing something wrong. She was tired of him saying that, tired of him pretending to care.
“I’m sorry, okay?”
She didn’t want his apologies.
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you.”
He still actually believed her pain was about that.
“I hate to see you tear yourself apart over some silly obsession with perfection.”
Perfection? He thought this was about perfection? Fool.
“Are you listening to me? You can’t destroy yourself.”
She couldn’t? Really?
He stepped around, facing her, and she looked down instantly at the glimpse of his almost warm smile.
“Do you really still think this is about being perfect?” Her voice was harsh, cutting like a knife through the cold air.
He stepped back, regarding her with confusion.
“I just realized that I have spent my entire life devoted to a lie. A lie.”
His hand reached out, almost sympathetically, but immediately drew back as her eyes met his menacingly.
“I have to completely start over…after everything that’s happened. I have to lose my past, all of my past, absolutely everything I’ve been taught…this isn’t about perfection. This is about forgetting it. About forgetting my life, everything I’ve been up until now.”
She wasn’t going to cry. Not like last time.
“I can’t do that. I don’t care what you say, I can’t just get rid of my entire life. Even if I know that perfection is false, even if I want to escape, I can’t. It’s going to follow me. I ca-”
Looking up, she noticed a change. If his eyes had been sympathetic before, he now seemed to convey a strange seriousness, an expression of worry or concern or something that caused them to suddenly become darker.
“Stop saying that you can’t. If you truly believe that perfection is an illusion, you’ve already escaped. You don’t need to remake your life, not if you already have.”
He paused, and strangely enough, she could feel herself drawn toward him, almost by magnetic pull.
“I thought that you still believed…All this time, I thought that you’d lost yourself this past year…”
She was silent, watching as his eyes suddenly turned warm again.
“…and you found yourself instead…”
Silent, aside from the particularly loud conflict that her mind seemed to be having with her heart. She found herself divided between stepping closer to him, or running away as fast as her legs could carry her.
“Please don’t kill yourself over the truth, Franziska…”
Her heart won.
Their lips met, and she somehow managed to forget everything that had taken place in the past year, every moment of suffering, every single tear that had run down her cheeks. In a word, it was…comforting, to know that someone could see through her façade, because, as strange as it sounded, she had needed that, needed to know that someone, especially him, cared.
Franziska pulled away slowly, as though she were afraid that the moment would shatter into a million pieces, like glass or porcelain.
She was blushing, having completely not expected their meeting to end this way, but somehow, this didn’t matter at all, and she smiled, the first real happiness she’d felt in what seemed like…forever.
And then she slapped him, lightly, of course, her eyes watering ever so slightly, though she’d promised herself that she wouldn’t cry.
“Don’t waste your time making me feel better, Miles…” she whispered.
They both noted the absence of the word ‘trying’.
“Waste my time…?” he took her hand, pulling her back into the bright lights and laughter.
And this time, it wasn’t nauseating.