Disclaimer: Characters are not mine - I'm just having some fun with them until the creators come and break down my door. (At which point I'll ask for their autographs on my manga volumes. :D)

Warning: Non-explicit shounen-ai content towards the end there...

Notes: A little interlude taking place during episode 8 - after Mozart grabs the violin, and they consider the job more or less a failure. Since Ginji is neither inside Mugenjou or in Raitei mode, I'm assuming he hasn't entirely recovered from being strangled half to death the night before, despite the quick healing.
Once again, since they had an apartment for at least a little while in the manga, and I'm not sure precisely when, I'm writing as if they had one at this point. However, Ka sold me on the idea of them still being too poor to afford a bed, so they take turns sleeping on the couch. Hee.


Talent

They'd have to do laundry soon, Ban noted as he grabbed the last clean towel off the rack in the bathroom. He and Ginji would have to share, and that wasn't the best situation to be in - at least not for Ginji, Ban thought to himself with a smirk as he loosened the high collar of his dress shirt and removed it to rub his head and shoulders dry. Ginji should have been faster if he wanted to get to the last clean towel first.

He tossed the towel to Ginji, who had collapsed sprawling on the couch as soon as they'd entered their apartment, and it landed on his head. "Next time dry yourself off first, okay? Now you'll have to dry the furniture too."

Ginji made no move to remove the towel from over his face. "Oh, Ban-chan... I'm not wet, just damp." Uncomfortably so, from the way he squirmed slightly.

"If the couch starts smelling like mildew, you can sleep on it every night," Ban called from the next room, where he grabbed one of his own shirts to put on instead before they headed back to talk more business with Madoka. Ginji was probably right, to be honest - the rain had stopped before daybreak, and they'd had the drive home to dry off as well, so they weren't soaked. Still, the slick material of the dress shirts they'd worn clung to the skin when even the slightest bit damp, and that just wasn't pleasant. Unlike the torn and filthy mess that Ginji wore, now missing several buttons and most of one sleeve, his shirt was still in pretty good shape - maybe he'd keep it around.

Ginji probably wouldn't let him keep the other things they'd borrowed from the quintet, however - he was too nice. Kind of a shame, he thought as he returned to the living room and on a whim, opened the violin case that had been left in the corner. It was a good instrument, if no Stradivarius, and could probably have been sold for a decent amount of money. Even if Madoka had agreed to pay the repossession fees despite their failure, you never knew when another stretch of unemployment might come along.

Of course, Ban thought as he lifted the violin from its case to his shoulder, maybe he wouldn't have sold it even if it had been his to sell. It felt good in his hands, and the smell of rosin and polished wood made him think of days gone by, when he hadn't been living hand to mouth.

"Ban-chan?"

His reverie was interrupted by Ginji's curiosity, and he looked up to see blond hair sticking out every which way as Ginji paused in rubbing his head. "How come you never told me you could play the violin?"

"I don't know... it never came up," Ban told him, lowering the instrument. "You never asked me if I could play a violin, did you?"

"No..." Ginji dropped the towel next to him on the couch, looking at Ban thoughtfully. "I wonder, Ban-chan - what else do you know how to do that you haven't told me about?"

Ban shrugged. "I know lots of things. If you're interested in something, just ask."

"I can't think of anything at the moment," Ginji confessed, leaning against the back of the couch and stretching. "I'm tired... We were out all night on this job, Ban-chan."

Ban's eyes narrowed. "You're not going to say we should give up, are you? We're the Get Backers - we have a one hundred percent rate of success. Even if we'd get paid anyway, I'm not going to mess that up."

"No way - of course I'm not going to give up!" Ginji exclaimed, seemingly shocked that Ban had even considered the idea that he might think such a thing. "But... can we just sit down for a little while before we go back to meet with Madoka-chan again?"

"We don't have much time before her concert..."

"Just for a little while?"

"Well... okay, just for a little while," Ban agreed. He was worn out too, but business was business, and the thought of their first failure irked him badly.

With a sigh, Ginji fell back against the couch again, spreading out his arms across the back. Taking a cue from him, Ban sat down against the wall, still fingering the violin. Old habits sent the fingers of his left hand dancing along the fingerboard, in practice patterns and scales that were the backbone of lessons past.

The quiet click of strings against the fingerboard was interrupted as Ginji spoke up again. "Will you play me a song, Ban-chan?"

"What?"

"I want to hear you play again," Ginji replied, raising his head enough to look at Ban. "Before, I just thought you were using your jagan, so I didn't really pay any attention... especially because it sounded so good. You're as good as Madoka-chan!" Ginji told him, suddenly inspired.

Ban shook his head. "Maybe I was using my jagan after all. If you thought I was as good as Madoka, you'd have to be dreaming."

"No, no, you were really good!" Ginji assured him, sitting upright again to look at Ban earnestly. "...Weren't you? Or were you using the jagan after all? I'm all tired out, and I can't remember how many times..."

Ban waved a hand at him, and reached for the bow that still lay in the violin case. "Hey, pipe down - I'll play you something," he agreed, getting to his feet.

One didn't even need the jagan with Ginji, to be honest. To most people, Ginji came off as random, flighty, not making any sense - but if you knew him, if you knew how to push his buttons, he was easy enough to manipulate.

And Ban, of course, did know.

It wasn't any otherworldly power this time that he called forth to send Ginji into a dream; it was only the movement of his fingers on the strings, the push and pull of the bow. Besides that short demonstration the night before at Akutsu's place, he hadn't touched a violin for a few years, and he was somewhat surprised that it still felt as natural as it did.

He was no prodigy like Madoka - his fingering was not so impeccable as hers, especially after so long without practice, and he never seemed to put his soul into the music as she did - but one thing Ban did have was an analytical mind, able to remember tunes he'd not played or heard for a long time. The mathematical nature of music theory broke music down into a science, which he was more comfortable with than the genuine emotion that true virtuosos drew upon. But he knew which key would evoke what sound, which step would complement the last. He could harmonize, even improvise, and come up with something that sounded listenable. His playing had always been called dispassionate, however, and some would say that was to be expected. Even those who didn't know him as the "snake" often thought him cold.

Ban closed his eyes against the light of the room and Ginji sitting before him, watching with interest. Though most would call him cold, Ginji never seemed to believe it, and Ban didn't want to let him down now.

His cheek pressed against the violin as if it were his pillow instead of hard wood, he let the motions of his bow become long and bold strokes. The melody had started out as a familiar classical piece, one of those that had been drilled into his head over years, but now he let his fingers move as they wished, changing something soft and mournful into something harder, more determined, in a major key rather than minor. The tune spun off into something that was wholly his own, rather than simply a reiteration of the familiar. It was not as polished, or as artistically majestic, as what he'd been playing before, but it was real, and it was something he alone could give Ginji. Not even Madoka, with all her talent, could give Ginji this particular song.

The strokes of his bow grew slower, and the notes softer, as Ban brought his song to a close, swaying as he drew out the final notes. After a moment's pause, he opened his eyes again and looked up to Ginji. Ginji had frozen and was staring at him, leaning forward with his mouth half-open in wonder. "Ban-chan..." he began, after a moment's silence. "That was just... beautiful."

Ban just smirked, setting the violin back in its case. Ginji apparently hadn't noticed his fingers slipping a little from time to time. "Glad you liked it."

"Oh, I did, I did," Ginji assured him, his eyes still wide as he rose to come face to face with Ban. "That song... it was like you..." His voice and his gaze grew a little softer. "...And me."

The smirk softened in response, and Ban reached up to cup Ginji's cheek in his hand. "You noticed."

He noticed something too, and turned Ginji's head aside to get a closer look at the marks on his throat and collarbone. "Damn, Ginji - why didn't you tell me that guy hurt you?"

"You were there, Ban-chan." Ginji winced as Ban's fingers traced the dark bruises across his collarbone. "It's all right - don't worry. I've been hurt worse, and it'll go away."

"Yeah, I know. Even so..."

Ban's fingers moved down to the buttons of the shirt that still remained intact, and Ginji protested only a little before just letting Ban unbutton them for him. "I can undress myself..."

"You've let me undress you before." Albeit not often, Ban thought with a grin as he pulled Ginji's shirt off him, damp but warm. Ginji usually undressed himself pretty fast - the guy was always in a rush when he was excited about something.

This time, though, Ginji was content to let Ban do the work, though once his arms were free, he raised his hands to Ban's waist, where the crumpled white shirt hung loose. "Ban-chan?" he asked, undoing the buttons of Ban's shirt from bottom to top with an uncharacteristic slowness that wasn't entirely due to his injuries. "Someday, when Get Backers is rich and famous, do you think we can buy a violin? No - two violins," he corrected himself quickly.

"Huh...?" His fingers tracing along Ginji's jaw tenderly, Ban barely blinked at the odd suggestion. "Why two?"

"One so you can play for me every day." Still under the spell of Ban's song, Ginji gently slipped his arms around Ban's waist, resting his head against Ban's chest as he shrugged out of his shirt. "The other so you can teach me."

Ordinarily Ban would have laughed at the idea, but as the two of them sank down together on the couch, he could do nothing but agree. Ginji's cheek rested upon his bare shoulder, his right hand made broad, bold strokes down Ban's spine, and the fingers of his left hand ran through Ban's hair quickly and purposefully; he might have some talent. And musical talent or not, Ginji had a way of putting Ban under the same sort of spell the violin had cast.