His long fingers brushed the strings. Even that light touch caused the guitar to vibrate with sound. He closed his eyes, giving himself over to the sweet, rumbling melody. The tight strings dug into his finger pads, but that had long since ceased to cause him pain. He moved his hand effortlessly across the neck. The melody was familiar, comforting, and the pounding in his head began to ease. He missed playing with his band, but it was for the best.
Over the soft, tinkling sound of his guitar, prosecutor Klavier Gavin became aware of a quiet munching sound from behind him. The noise was slow and deliberate, each crunch drawn out into several seconds, as though the person was distracted. He ran a finger over the strings once more, letting the final chord ring.
"Hello, Fraulein," he said, not turning around. The munching abruptly stopped. A small smile tugged on the man's mouth as he contemplated his next words, anticipating the reaction he would get. "If you're here for an autograph, you should know that I've stopped giving them."
The Snackoo hit him lightly on the back of the head. The detective had good aim, he'd give her that. He reached back and brushed his pale golden hair with one hand, making sure that it was free of crumbs.
"I was just thinking about you, Fraulein Detective," Klavier continued, still grinning. He gestured towards the papers on his desk – he'd been reading them until about ten minutes ago, when his headache had become unbearable. He could feel the irritation rolling off of her in waves, but curiosity won her over. Her shoes tapped against the parquet floor as she approached the place where he sat. Standing behind his chair, the edge of her lab coat brushed his shoulder.
"The SL-9 files? Joe Darke?" He heard the surprise in her voice, the tiny squeak that escaped when she said the killer's name. And no wonder – although it had happened eleven years ago, that case still held a lot of pain for the girl, and he said so. She didn't react, so he continued.
"What about now, Fraulein Skye? What do you think of him now, so many years later?"
"What can I think of him?" Her voice was hard, yet distant. The shock of having Klavier looking into her past had let fall the veil that had covered her memories. Sitting beside her, Klavier could imagine her reliving that day in her head – waiting for her sister, who was investigating the serial killer, to come pick her up; the murderous Darke, half-crazed with fear, advancing toward her; brave Neil Marshall, coming to her rescue in that moonlit room; her, unconscious, alone with the corpses of Neil and Darke. Then, two years later, the murder of an innocent detective; the trial of a powerful man who had tried to pin everything connected to Darke on the Skye sisters. "He is a heartless murderer, as he always was."
"He killed out of fear," Klavier mused. "Someone witnessed him accidentally hitting a pedestrian in his car, and he killed them, afraid of what they had seen. Someone saw him commit that murder, and he killed them as well, and so on…he killed not out of hatred, or greed, as most people do, but out of fear. A petty reason to take a life, but a reason nonetheless.
"What reason did your brother have?" She asked quietly, then inhaled sharply, as though wishing she'd kept silent. Truly, what reason had the defense attorney Kristoph Gavin had to kill those men? Pride? Klavier didn't want to dwell on it, and he pushed it to the back of his mind. He turned to look at the detective for the first time.
"Do not talk about my brother," he said sharply. Her chocolate-brown eyes widened as she took in his appearance. Klavier realized how he must look, with his mouth hard, his bones sharp, his eyes dark and sleepless.
"You look horrible," she informed him, frowning. Klavier let out a deep breathe. He ran his fingers through his hair and glanced at her from the corner of his eye, smiling slightly. He looked almost as he'd used to, at that moment. Almost.
"You needn't worry about me, Fraulein," he said, ignoring her squeak of indignation. Turning away from her then, he brought his hand back down to the strings.
"You came here for something?" He asked, not pausing his playing.
"Ah, yes," she said, then fell silent. She was barely breathing, seemingly listening to him play.
"Yes?" Klavier looked up at her, a teasing smile on his lips again. Her brow furrowed, and she flushed. She produced from her bag a thick folder and handed it to him. He took it and, standing up, pulled the guitar strap over his head. He placed the instrument delicately on an end table. He began to pace as he read the case file – another murder. Why was he not surprised?
The detective didn't seem to know what do to with herself. She wandered around the room, touching this and that object, looking for something to occupy herself with until he finished reading. Klavier could see her moving in his peripheral vision. Her fingers made soft tapping sounds as she ran them over the spines of his books. Walking over to the table, she brushed one of the strings of the guitar – the B string – with a finger, then scurried away when he glanced at her.
"I wonder," Klavier said aloud, facing the huge window that covered one wall of his office. "How is it that the defense always comes up with the most useful forensic evidence that is never mentioned in the reports that I am given?" He didn't turn to look at her, but her reflection in the glass guitar case blushed furiously at his jibe.
"I'm not part of the forensics team," she told him. "The things I find are not liable to be put into a report. As for the attorney – well, he's curious, so who am I to deny him the power of science?"
"So join the forensics team," he said, stating the obvious. "Then the prosecution will be able to implement 'the power of science.'" She turned away from him, rubbing a strand of hair between her thumb and forefinger.
"I…didn't pass the test," she admitted, pursing her lips together.
"Didn't you?" He'd known that – he had just wanted to hear her say it. It didn't matter, though. "Hm. Well, that can be easily remedied." He grinned, a cocky half smile, enjoying watching the emotions flit across her face.
"I-what?" She cocked her head to one side, not quite believing what she was hearing. Her frown melted, her lips parted, and she looked almost like the young girl in the SL-9 report. Her eyes lit up for a split second; then he couldn't see them anymore, because her face was buried in the front of his black button-down shirt. The bag of Snackoos, clutched in her hand, smacked against his back, and her pink glasses bumped his chin.
"Thankyouthankyouthankyou…" She seemed to have abandoned her pride completely, so caught up she was in the moment. She clutched his waist, like that of a father or older brother. Out of habit, he wrapped an arm around her, feeling soft hair under his hand. She smelled, not of formaldehyde and alcohol, as he'd expected, but of lilies. He swallowed, ignoring the thought.
"I always knew you had a soft heart inside, Fraulein Skye." Klavier laughed, not at her, teasingly, but with her, because she was happy. She pushed away from him and folded her arms over her chest, eyes narrowed.
"My name is Ema," she said, for lack of a better response.
"Of course it is," he answered still grinning.
"Hey," she said, jabbing a finger into his chest and glaring up – several inches up – at him. "Hey, you're not trying to trick me, are you? 'I will make you a forensic scientist, and you will be my slave for life,' that kind of thing?" Klavier laughed again.
"Of course not, Frau-…ah, Ema. You do me an injustice – would I do something so sly as that? Although, now that you mention it, I would very much like a cup of coffee." He grinned as she smacked his shoulder, nowhere near hard enough to cause pain. Then his smile faded, and he looked at her – really looked at her, so that she would pay attention. He might as well say this now, while she was listening. "Must you always put on this façade whenever I say something to you? I make a comment – you pout, and fume, and insult me."
"So what do you want me to do? Fawn over you?" She flushed, realizing that she had had her arms wrapped around him until only a moment ago.
"And there we go again," Klavier said, throwing his arms up dramatically. "No, Fraulein, not fawn, just…chill." She glared at him, then dropped her gaze.
"Fine, whatever you say, boss," she said. Klavier hoped that she meant it.
"Good. Now," he said, opening the file again. "I have no doubt that you will be in forensics soon, but for now you are a detective, and I shall require your testimony."
"As long as I get the full story this time. No more crucial facts I know nothing about," she said, eyeballing him, and Klavier knew that she still held a grudge. He hadn't told her everything she had needed to know on one case, and she had ended up embarrassing herself on the witness stand. He had made up excuses, and it had been funny to see her blushing and stuttering, but now he felt a little bad for the detective.
"I will tell you everything," he promised, and meant it. Still, she glared at him mistrustfully. He took a step, closing the two feet between them, and lean down so that they were eye-to-eye. The silver wave pendant, in the shape of a G, dangled from his neck, swinging back and forth like a pendulum. She dropped his gaze, his proximity unnerving her, but did not step back.
"I will never put you in a situation like that again," he said, his voice low and serious.
"I…" She lifted her huge, warm eyes to him again. Unexpectedly, she smiled – albeit slightly nervously – and touched the glasses on her forehead with a finger. "Well, well, looks like rocker-boy is growing up."
Klavier straightened and pulled a pen from his jacket pocked. Having signed in all the necessary places, he gave the document back to her.
"I would greatly appreciate if you would abstain from such unbecoming comments about me, Fraulein," he said, as she took the folder from him. "Ema," he said quickly, correcting himself before she could argue. For a moment, she looked as though she was going to argue anyway, then changed her mind.
"Well, then, please accept my humble apologies…Herr Fop." She grinned and started to walk away. Then, at the doorway to his office, she paused. Reaching into her plastic bag, she chucked one final Snackoo at him, before disappearing down the corridor. Klavier dodged the little chocolate missile, and it landed on his desk. Cautiously, he slipped it into his mouth and bit down.
It really was quite good.