Prompt: Violinists or violin.
It takes longer than he is willing to admit to figure out what that subtle smell that Karen sometimes carries with her belongs to, the one that only ever lingers on her hands and then only on certain days. The days when she comes in tired but with a steadier heart rate than the day before. Pine and sap and grit and dry skin and wood and earth and dust. He'll blame it on lack of familiarity later, but when it happens, when he finally puts the pieces together, it strikes him like a bolt of lightning.
Karen is teasing him; he's been carding a hand through his hair in stress while researching for their newest case so his fringe is sticking up slightly. She cocks a hip against the corner of his desk and gently combs his hair back down. As her fingertips brush over his brow and he finally feels the little hard ridges through the centres of the pads that he's somehow never noticed before, it hits him all at once.
"Rosin," he says aloud, interrupting her mid-sentence with his surprise. He tilts his face toward her hand and inhales again through his nose, breathing in the scent again and feeling certain in his conclusion.
"What?" Karen asks in confusion.
"Rosin, on your fingertips," Matt clarifies, instinctively leaning back in his chair to put a more acceptable amount of distance between them. "The smell's been bothering me for a while, couldn't figure it out. That is it, right? I didn't know you played the violin."
Karen makes an embarrassed noise and he can feel the wave of heat coming from her as the blood rushes to her face. She ducks her head, hiding behind the curtain of her hair - a draft of vanillalilaclavenderchemicals, a generic scented shampoo she's just recently started using. "Foggy's right," she says finally, and when she lifts her head he can hear her smile. "You are really good at that."
A quick grin flashes across his face, a sharp upward turn of his lips that never fails to make Karen's heart rate jump in response. "It's a gift," he says modestly, shrugging, although more shallowly than usual because of the stitches beneath his arm he can't let her know about. Karen's laugh is slightly stilted, but she doesn't make to move away so he can tell he hasn't offended her. There's something about the nervous energy thrumming through her muscles that tells him she isn't finished so he waits, his gaze hovering somewhere near her elbow and trying not to look too expectant.
"It's a stress thing," she admits after a minute of hesitant quiet. "I took lessons in high school. I was never very great, just fifth chair and even then only 'cause Lydia Trackston quit, but it was always really calming, you know? Just focusing on the notes and the movements and letting the rest of the world disappear under the music. I don't play a lot anymore, well more now than I did a few years ago, but mostly just when I - I dunno..."
"Need an escape?" Matt offers.
Karen nods distractedly, and then hastily sputters and says, "Sorry, I nodded again. Yes."
"Music is good for that," he agrees. "I'd like to hear you play sometime."
"No you wouldn't," she counters with a breathy laugh. "Like I said, I'm not very good."
Matt shrugs. "I've always been fond of the violin. Sounds good, easier to listen to than some instruments. Can't stand piccolos, it's like being stabbed in the ears. Never was very good at music myself though. Learned a little organ at the orphanage, but nothing more than that."
"I played the trumpet in elementary school," Foggy chimes in from the doorway, the wood groaning as he leans against the frame. Karen jumps slightly but Matt had heard him coming so he merely tips his head in that direction, his lips quirking in amusement. "Between the three of us, we could start a band."
"With a violin, organ, and trumpet?" Karen asks and her scepticism is thick and dripping, but she's getting better at humouring their odd jokes and Foggy's ridiculous flights of fancy. Settling into their rhythm and banter. "Odd mix. What would we call our band?"
"Avocados at Law?" Matt suggests, unable to stop the grin that splits his face. The other two break out in laughter; Foggy loud and booming at the old joke and Karen fluttery and bright as she just enjoys the easiness of it all. Matt joins in and lets himself revel in the comfort, the freedom of this moment.
Karen is the first to settle herself, standing up and smoothing down her skirt. "Alright, Avocados, we really need to get back to work if we're going to have this ready for the hearing."
And a few nights later, when Karen has been particularly strung-out and edgy at work, Matt slips by her new apartment in the middle of the night. He crouches on the gravel roof and extends his senses, searching out a particular noise amongst all of the voices and sleepy breaths and electronics humming away with purpose. There, on the third floor, he picks it out. Violin music, slow and sad and mournful, but somehow it unwinds something inside of him that he didn't realise was twisted too tight. He sits and listens to the way that her heart rate shifts, acting as a natural metronome for the music, and the floorboards whine beneath her feet as she sways back and forth with the power of the song. He can feel the way she pours all of her stress and sadness and fear into the music until it makes his heart clench painfully.
The sound of gunfire from four blocks over grabs his attention and Matt rushes away into the darkness to do his job, but every few weeks, when he can tell that the stress and anxiety is getting to her, Matt heads over to Karen's and listens to her play it all away and when she's done, he feels a little better himself.