Just whistle while you work, do de do do do do dooo, and cheerfully together we can tidy up the place…
She would never confess to watching Disney movies at the, presumably, adult age of twenty four. And she'd never, ever admit to owning the entire collection, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to Ratatouille, all not-so-proudly tucked away in her DVD folder in her apartment. But that couldn't stop Karen from whistling the tune as she put the offices small kitchen back into order. She had no idea who the last secretary/paralegal/maid of the office had been, but they'd obviously had no talent for keeping things organized and…was that milk really from last year? She paused her whistling and took a moment to squint at the carton and no, no, thank goodness, the expiration date was only smudged. It had another good week to go. It was placed onto the counter with a relived sigh and Karen resumed her tune as she returned to the task of emptying out the fridge to give the shelves their first good scrubbing in, what looked like, a good long while.
Playing maid wasn't exactly in her job description, per say, but she had run out of busy work at the front desk to fill up the time with. Official office hours had ended positively ages ago, but Mr. Murdock was still here. Foggy, who had insisted she called him Foggy even if she had only been here a week and who just may have a small crush on her, had left at six, nagging Mr. Murdock (or Matt, as he called him. Matthew Murdock. What a name.) to do the same for nearly ten minutes before giving up and heading home. He'd rolled his eyes at her as he shrugged on his coat in a conspiratorial way, including her in the secret, private frustration of dealing with Matt when he was in a mood, which had made her smile and shake her head from her seat at the reception desk. He'd wished her a good night and reminded her that even the young needed their beauty sleep, and, honestly, she'd had every intention of taking that advice but, well…
Mr. Murdock was still here. With the boyfriend of the month already met, dated, and dumped, she didn't have anything waiting for her at home (except for a Disney collection which did not exist), so why not stay? She never knew when he might need something and she was curious, really, just how late he would be in his office, pouring over a case that even a lowly paralegal knew they were doomed to lose. There was just too much evidence, too many coincidences to let the man off, but despite those facts Mr. Murdock was certain he was innocent. Like god in his heaven, the man seemed to know what was right and wrong, and was going to do anything, everything, to prove it. It was very…admirable. Yes. Admirable. Reminded her of her father, in a way, before Dr. Page had been forced into retirement.
So here she was, putting the insides of a freshly scrubbed out fridge back together to a Disney tune she may know, but certainly not from having watched it last night, and, oh, while she was here and he was here she may as well bring him some of the coffee she'd made, right? That part really was in her job description. Karen slipped her heels back on with a practiced ease as she poured a second cup of coffee for her employer. No cream, no sugar, only a generous dose of honey. It was the strangest way she'd ever seen coffee taken, but it suited, in a way. If the blind pro-bono lawyer of Hell's Kitchen took his coffee the same way the corporate bigwigs she'd used to work for did, she may have been just a bit disappointed.
She picked up the cup with a bright smile and exited into the hall, only to pause a little over halfway along it when she heard the faint echo of a hum emitting from Mr. Murdock's office. It didn't seem possible that he could have heard her, the kitchen door had been closed to keep the smell of bleach from wafting into the offices, but it was simply impossibly that Matthew Murdock had just happened to have the same, surprisingly addictive, Snow White melody stuck in his head. She bit her lip lightly as she mentally sang along with the tune floating down the halls, her mission, and how on earth he had heard her, momentarily forgotten as he finished up the song.
When hearts are high the time will fly, so whistle while you work.
She shook herself lightly as his humming trailed off into a more random pattern of notes and rhythm, the merry advice of a pale skinned princess set aside for the moment. Maybe he had walked by the kitchen earlier without her noticing and heard her, and, lord, she hoped he hadn't seen her with her hair bunched up, on her hands and knees…But of course he hadn't, she reminded herself guiltily. Matthew Murdock was blind. The cuts and bruises all along his arms and face from bumping and falling all over New York were testament enough to that.
The office door was open, leaving her to knock two knuckles lightly on the inside of the wooden frame to announce her entrance, and Mr. Murdock flinched, actually flinched, when she entered the room. Karen stopped on the other side of the desk from him, swaying slightly in uncertainty. They hadn't spoken too terribly much since she'd gotten the job. Foggy had been the one to train her, show her the ropes, even bring her dinner once when they had to stay late. Mr. Murdock had been somewhat of an enigma for the whole week she'd been working for him, breezing in and out and seeming to exist on the coffee she pressed into his hand on his way by and a devotion to justice alone. Karen couldn't think of a time she'd seen actually him eat. He'd been busy, yes, but he was a lawyer, that was to be expected. A particularly attractive lawyer with, from the messages she took each morning, a string of girlfriends, and of course he didn't feel the need to fuss over little blond secretaries and, oh god, why hadn't the thought that he may not actually like her crossed her mind until now? Silly little Karen Page, the well do to daughter playing at working class in the office of a man who'd pulled himself from the gutter of Hell's Kitchen. Oh lord.
Mr. Murdock had covered the lower half of his face with one hand, the bottom frame of his red sunglasses pressing into the top of his index figure and his other hand had stopped moving across the Braille document before him and he was expecting her to say something, wasn't he? She cleared her throat nervously, shifting her weight from foot to foot, and placed the coffee mug meekly on the desk He must have noticed her anxiety somehow, for a man unable to read body language he certainly always seemed to know what everyone was feeling, because he lowered his hand from his face and cocked his head towards her. He turning his ear in her direction reminded her so very much of her cat that she couldn't help but smile slightly even in her nervous state, and then it was his turn to fill the suddenly unbearable awkward silence with the clearing of his throat.
"You smell like bleach," he offered after a long moment, and all Karen could do was nod slowly, then blush when it took her far too long to remember he couldn't see the gesture.
"Yeah. It…I wasn't expecting it. You normally…" he suddenly seemed to notice that she'd left a coffee with honey on his desk and he reached for it quickly, covering up his unfinished sentence with a long swallow of the hot liquid. "It's vanilla and caramel, right? The lotion you wear. I was expecting that, and got caught by surprise."
Half his mouth curved up in slightly self deprecating smile that seemed to say 'Yeah, I know, it's a little creepy, but it's late and I'm sorry and I'm trying and please, please just forget the whole thing ever happened' and Karen felt an answering one spread across her own face.
"Yes," she replied, standing far more at ease in front of him now. "It's my favorite."
"It suits you." He seemed to pick up on how very far from a professional conversation they'd veered, shaking his head slightly and taking another long sip of the coffee.
"Was there something you needed, Karen? Thank you. For the coffee, that is, by the way." He added as an after thought, and Karen could practically read the thought 'this is not my night' going across his mind as he frowned into the cup. She wondered how he managed to be such an excellent lawyer with such an expressive face. Maybe he really was always honest in court. Now wouldn't that be a trick?
"No, I just thought justice could use a little pick me up," she smiled. "It's past midnight, you know."
"Is it?" He sounded genuinely surprised at the news, lifting his hand from the paperwork on the desk to gently trace the hands of watch. Karen followed the movement of those finger tips slightly more closely than she knew was appropriate for an employee to do. She'd never really just stood and looked at him for so long before though, and, damn, if he wasn't gorgeous and, she argued somewhat guiltily to herself, it wasn't like he would know, right?
His head cocked slightly towards her again, a small grin playing on his lips, and suddenly Karen wasn't so terribly sure of that anymore. She swallowed and looked down at his desk, scanning the papers she couldn't for the most part read and making the mental note that a few of her hand written sticky notes on the case were strewn across his desk. She'd given them to Foggy, he'd been the one to ask her to do it and it wasn't like Mr. Murdock could read them, yet here they were, aligned along the Braille paper work as if he could read them just as easily. Strange.
"What are you still doing here?"
Ah, the inevitable question. 'Kinda stalking you' really didn't seem like the best answer, especially as far as her career was concerned, so Karen only shrugged lightly.
"Catching up on some work I can't do when clients are around."
"Explaining the bleach." He sounded amused. That was good, right? People concerned that their new secretary was lingering after hours in a slightly stalker-like fashion to monitor their sleeping habits (or apparent lack there of) wouldn't sound amused, she was pretty sure.
"Explaining the bleach," she echoed, the same entertained undertone to her voice.
"It's a dangerous neighborhood for a girl to be walking home alone after midnight, no matter how good of a cup of coffee she makes." It was bordering on being scolding, but there was still that amused tilt to his words that made her believe he actually didn't mind her staying late with him.
"Maybe I'm a girl who likes to live dangerously." She teased back, and his answering laugh was enough to banish any form of lingering awkwardness from the room. Karen grinned, laughing along with him for a moment.
"Foggy was right," he smiled as he tucked the files away into a folder, then reached back to slip his suit jacket back on. "I need to watch my back around you."
"He said that?"
Karen wasn't certain at what point in the conversation they'd decided he would be walking her out to a cab, but she offered no resistance as came around the desk and took her elbow. Because he was blind, of course. Because he was blind and carrying too many files and his cane was leaning against the wall near the door instead of his desk. Right.
"Yeah. He thinks you're a girl with a talent for wrapping men around her finger. That may just be because you've already got him tied and secured."
He'd gotten his cane and they were well on their way down the hall and he still didn't let go of her elbow until they reached the reception area, where holding up her coat for her to slip on required he release her. Karen was very consciously not thinking about it, not reading into the motions, and she knew she'd be watching Sleeping Beauty as she fell asleep on the couch tonight, changing the handsome Prince Phillip into a slightly taller man with dark red hair and matching glasses.
"But not you?"
Her heart practically skipped a beat as her mind caught up with her mouth and, lord, she knew better than to almost-kinda-not-really-okay-maybe-yes flirt with her boss. It was fine with Foggy because he flirted with her, and she was ninety nine percent certain he knew nothing would ever come of their banter. Mr. Murdock though…this was the first time he'd said more than one sentence at a time to her, the first time he'd said anything not directly related to work or coffee and she was acting like a school girl with a crush. She wondered briefly if sexual harassment lawsuits could work down the chain as well. She really should have paid more attention in class.
"You're getting there."
Of all the things he could have said to break that terrible, too long silence, for some reason Karen had expected that the least, and, of course, it was too late to act on it. The cab was already pulling up and Mr. Murdock, blind Mr. Murdock, had somehow already opened the door for her and there was nothing left to say. Maybe that's the only reason why he had been able to say it in the first place. So instead of gathering up the nerve to plunge in and find out just how close she was to getting there, Karen only watched his hand fall from her elbow before she looked back up at his face with a wide smile that she knew he couldn't see but somehow suspected he could feel.
"Goodnight, Mr. Murdock. I promise to smell better in the morning."
"Goodnight, Ms. Page. I would appreciate that."