Author's Note: This story is based on a picture I saw of Kanda holding a violin. I really enjoyed the idea, so I decided to write a small piece of fluff about it. This story contains shounen-ai, so if you're not a fan of that you're in the wrong place. I don't own any of these characters or the world they exist in, but I do like to borrow them on occasion.
Vitula is a Latin word meaning "an instrument with strings", and it's from this word that we get the modern term "violin".
A luthier is someone who makes violins.
It was late at night when Allen Walker woke to something odd. He was laying on his back with Kanda wrapped around him, his head tucked beneath the older boy's chin. He typically slept in a sprawl – or as much of one as he could manage – and he had his left arm flung haphazardly above his head. What woke him was the ghostly feel of someone tracing patterns on his skin, something unfamiliar. "Kanda?" he asked, confused.
"Hmm?" the older boy replied drowsily.
Allen smiled faintly. "What're you doing?"
The fingers paused, and the older boy shrugged slightly. "I was half asleep."
"That's not an answer," the white-haired boy replied, his curiosity peaked. "You've never done that to me before… I liked it."
Kanda shifted a bit, then started the patterns again. "Hm," he murmured. "It's been awhile since I've done this."
Allen smiled, used to Kanda's occasional avoidance of questions he considered overly personal. "What is it?" he asked again, full of patience. If Kanda didn't want to tell him, he'd let him know.
The swordsman remained quiet for awhile, going through the motions on Allen's arm in silence. "It's a sonata," he finally said softly.
The smile on Allen's face widened. "You play an instrument," he murmured. "I didn't know that about you."
"Nobody does," Kanda replied shortly. His tone softened a bit when he spoke again. "It's not something I want people to know about."
Allen nodded. "Your secret is safe with me," he promised. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the caresses in silence for a little while, but then his curiosity got the better of him again. "What do you play?"
The older boy snorted. "Idiot," he said, though his voice lacked venom. "Can't you tell?"
"Not really," Allen confessed. "I'm sorry…"
Kanda's soft sigh stirred his hair, causing him to blush faintly. "When I was young, probably two years old, my parents decided I had some sort of aptitude for music. That's when I started playing the violin."
Allen smiled and closed his eyes again, paying closer attention to the patterns Kanda was tracing on his skin. "So, you were talented?"
"So people said," the swordsman replied. "I played because I liked it, not because people thought I was good or otherwise."
"I'd like to hear you play someday," Allen mused.
"Impossible," Kanda said flatly. "My violin is long gone. I haven't touched one since I came here… I'd be horrible."
Allen nodded and wisely changed the subject, though an idea was beginning to form in the back of his mind. "What is it that you're playing on my arm?"
Kanda huffed softly. "You're asking a lot of questions, moyashi."
"I'm curious," the younger boy replied, taking Kanda's right hand with his own and lacing his fingers through it. "I don't know a lot about you."
"Anyone else would have been run through by now," was the terse reply. He remained quiet for a bit, then sighed again. "It's from a sonata written by a man in the seventeen hundreds… Sonata in G Minor for Solo Violin. The man's name was Johann Sebastian Bach. If you want to know more, go to the library."
Allen nodded, a secret smile curving his lips as he considered the idea that was slowly taking root in his mind. "Maybe I will," he said. "I don't know a lot about music."
Kanda shifted and moved his hand away, wrapping Allen in a loose embrace. "You'd do well to learn. Go back to sleep."
"Good night," the younger boy said obediently. I can't wait for morning, he thought, excited. I'll get Lenalee to help me… this is going to be great! He beamed to himself, then curled closer to Kanda and closed his eyes, falling asleep almost immediately.
When morning came, Allen and Kanda split ways as usual before the sun was very high in the sky. Kanda went outside to do his training, and Allen hurried back to his own room to bathe and change his clothes. I just hope he doesn't kill me for telling Lenalee his secret, he worried. She'll promise not to tell if I ask her to, and I know she'll keep her word… after all, she's the one who told me how to confess my feelings to him in the first place, and she hasn't spilled that to anyone.
He hurried through his bath and dressed quickly, pausing for just a moment in front of the mirror to make certain his hair wasn't standing on end. After pulling on his gloves, he was off to the cafeteria, hoping to catch her there before she started her day's duties.
As luck would have it, Lenalee had just sat down in her usual spot – alone. Allen paused to order his breakfast as per his stomach's demands, then rushed over and sat down across from her. "Good morning, Lenalee!"
Lenalee looked up, surprised, then smiled. "Good morning, Allen! And good morning to you too, Timcanpy."
The little golem settled on Allen's head as he focused his attention entirely on her. "I need your help," he said earnestly. "Do you have a minute?"
"Of course," she said, concerned. "Is something wrong?"
"No!" Allen said hastily. "Nothing's wrong at all." When she relaxed and smiled at him, he exhaled and picked up a bagel. "Actually, there's something that's been on my mind lately… Kanda's birthday is coming up."
Lenalee smiled knowingly. "Ah, you're right," she said. "So, you need help thinking of something to get him?"
Allen shook his head. "No, I know what I want to get him, I just… well, I don't have any idea where or how to get what I want him to have." He smiled sheepishly. "That's where I was hoping you could help me."
"I can try," Lenalee replied, curious. "What are you thinking of getting?"
The white-haired exorcist looked around to make sure nobody was listening, then leaned closer to her over the table. "A violin," he said softly.
Her eyes widened. "Really?" she asked, then clapped her hands over her mouth as a couple people glanced their way. "Sorry! Allen, how did you find out…?"
"Never mind," Allen replied, blushing faintly. "I just did… and he told me that his is long gone. I thought he might want to play again, but I don't know the first thing about them!"
Lenalee leaned back in her chair and tapped her chin with her fingers. "Well… I'm not sure, but I think I know someone who might be. There are at least a couple Finders who play… I've heard them! We can go visit them after breakfast."
"Thank you!" he said sincerely, now able to focus more on his breakfast and less on worrying over Lenalee's reaction. "Really, thank you… for all you've done."
"I'm glad to help!" she said, smiling happily. "It's good to see you happy, Allen… and Kanda, well, he's Kanda, but I think he's happier too."
Allen nodded shyly. "I think he is too."
After breakfast, Lenalee proved to be as good as her word. She led Allen through the twisting hallways of the Order and finally to a place he'd never been. The sound of music floated through the air, and Allen's eyes widened. "Wow… what is this place?"
"The music hall," Lenalee replied with a smile. "I'm sure I told you about it when you first got here!"
The white-haired exorcist blinked. "Maybe," he agreed. He smiled as various melodies wove themselves together into what a normal person would call random noise, but to him it was the sound of people doing what they loved to do. "Ah, I hear a violin!"
"That's Gio," she said. "I met him a couple of years ago. He's a wonderful violinist… and he's the one who'll be able to help us." She knocked on the door that the music was floating out of, and it stopped for a moment. The door open and an older Finder poked his head out. When he saw Lenalee, his face broke into a smile.
"Lenalee!" he said warmly. "I haven't seen you down here in awhile. Have you come to hear me play?"
"I would love that," Lenalee said, smiling back. "Actually, I came here with a question… and to introduce you to someone. This is Allen Walker… Allen, this is Giovanni, but we all just call him Gio."
Gio held out his hand and clasped Allen's warmly as the younger boy did the same, holding violin and bow in the other. "Good to meet you, Allen. I've heard stories about you from Toma. So, you like music, do you?"
"Yes," Allen replied with a bright smile. "Actually, I was hoping I could ask you about violins…"
"Oh, I could talk about that for hours," the Italian Finder replied. "Come in and have a seat, and I'll tell you everything you want to know!"
Allen and Lenalee walked into the small practice room and sat together on a piano bench while Gio sat in the chair he'd been occupying while practicing. "This is amazing," Allen said, looking around with wide eyes. "I never imagined there was a place like this here!"
Gio smiled. "It's like home away from home for me. I studied music in the university before I came here to work for the Order. So, Allen, you want to learn the violin?"
"Ah, not me," Allen said, blushing faintly and putting a hand behind his head. "I can plink around on the piano, but I'd be miserable at anything else. Actually, a friend of mine plays the violin… and I'd like to get him one, but I don't know anything about them."
"Well, you've come to the right place," Gio said with a nod. "This will be a surprise for your friend?" When Allen nodded, Gio grinned. "Normally I'd say it's important for a musician to choose his own instrument, but some things can't be helped. I'll help you pick the perfect violin for him. Do you know how long he's been playing?"
Allen pondered for a moment, then nodded. "Since he was two, and he's eighteen now. He told me he likes to play music by… um…" He tapped his gloved finger against his lips as he thought. "I can't remember," he finally said sheepishly.
Gio waved his hand. "No matter. That tells me what I need to know." He held out his violin to Allen for the younger boy to inspect and sat back, smiling as he ran his fingers over it in awe. "This is a violin made by a man named Antonio Stradivari. He is a very famous luthier. If you want your friend to have the best, this is what you should look for."
Allen examined the instrument, then handed it back with a smile. "It's beautiful," he said. "Where do we go to get one?"
"Italy," the violinst replied, carefully putting his instrument in its case. "My birthplace. I believe we'll find the perfect violin there."
"Will Komui just let us go?" the white-haired boy asked doubtfully. "I was hoping there might be one closer…"
Lenalee nodded. "Of course he'll let us! I'll be going too, remember?" She winked, and Allen couldn't help but grin.
Gio stood and stretched. "If your friend is half the violinist he should be after playing for so long, he'll know the difference between a good instrument and a cheap one. There's no point in getting one that's beneath his abilities… and if you get one that's above him, he'll grow into it. That's the beauty of music."
Allen beamed, excitement swelling inside him like liquid sunshine. "Thank you so much! I'm not sure how to repay you for your time…"
"No, don't worry about that," the violinst replied, picking up his violin case and leading them out of the room. "If your friend would visit me and play with me occasionally, that will be thanks enough. I don't get to play with truly talented violinists often anymore."
Lenalee smiled. "I'm sure he could be persuaded. So, let me go tell my brother where we're going, and we'll be off! Allen, is your friend going to miss you?"
Allen blinked. "I'm not sure," he said. "I'll find Lavi and have him tell him that I got called away on a sudden mission with you."
"Great! Let's meet up in an hour, then, and we'll go!" She bowed to Gio, then ran off to find Komui.
Allen looked up at the Finder and smiled again. "Thank you, really," he said. "I owe you a huge debt for helping me."
"Nonsense," Gio replied, reaching out and ruffling his hair. "It's my pleasure and honor. Go make your arrangements so we're not delayed! I'm looking forward to this just as much as you are, I think."
The trip to Italy was long, and it was the next morning when they reached their destination. "This village is where I got my violin," Gio explained as they walked down a hill towards a small village. "The store should still be here. They sell only top-quality instruments. I've asked the owner why he won't move to a bigger city, but musicians come from 'round the world to buy instruments here… and he's happy with that."
Allen lifted his hand to shield his eyes from the sun and looked around. "This place is beautiful," he murmured. "What a wonderful view!"
Gio smiled. "All of Italy is beautiful. You should take the time to explore it someday!"
"We definitely will," Lenalee promised. "This place really is beautiful… it's kind of rare that we get to go somewhere for fun."
Allen nodded in agreement. "It's good to get away from the Order for something other than business. A frown came to his face as he pondered what Kanda's reaction would be. "I really hope he likes this…"
Lenalee squeezed his arm. "He will! Stop worrying! He may act like a jerk, but he's really not… there's more to him than that. He'll love it."
"I hope so," Allen murmured.
As Gio had promised, the shop was located in the middle of the town square. The square was bustling with activity, and several musicians had set up shop along the market rows to play for fun or for dinner. All in all, it was a very cheerful atmosphere. Allen perked up almost immediately, once again excited.
The shop smelled of fresh wood and something a bit sharp, and Gio inhaled deeply. "Ah, do you smell that? That's the smell of a good violin, my boy!" He clapped Allen on the shoulder and smiled.
"Is that Giovanni's voice I hear?" a loud voice boomed from the back.
Gio grinned. "None other, you old swindler! Still selling your worthless instruments for half a fortune?"
An older, overweight man with glasses came out of the back room and grinned broadly. "A whole fortune now, you no-talent minstrel! How have you been?"
The two embraced quickly and kissed each other on both cheeks. "Wonderful, and the violin I bought here all those years ago is still in wonderful shape."
"Of course it is! It's a Stradivarius, isn't it? Far better than the ones I make, though I do still sell them and repair them. So, what brings you here?" The luthier turned his gaze to Lenalee and Allen curiously. "Ah! Students, is it?"
Gio shook his head. "No, friends of a man I'm told is quite talented, but who needs a new instrument. They aren't overly familiar with the process of selecting a good violin, so I volunteered to help them."
"Of course, of course! You've come to the right place, my friends. Take your time and look around!" The luthier gestured to the walls, upon which what seemed like hundreds of violins and violas were on display. "Find one you like, and Gio will tell you if it's a good fit for your friend or not. I can help you as well."
Allen looked around, awed. "Thank you, Mr…?"
"Call me Georg, my boy. I come from Germany, but find Italy a far better place to live." The luthier smiled. "I'll be in the back finishing the violin I was working on."
"I don't even know where to start," Allen murmured after he'd disappeared. "There are so many…" He wandered over to one wall and looked up, then looked over at Lenalee. "What do you think? They all look sort of the same, don't they?"
Lenalee nodded. "Gio… what's the difference? They really do look the same…"
Gio smiled. "There are a lot of differences, but only a trained eye would be able to see them. Let me see here… well, Allen, what do you think of the look of this one?" He lifted a dark-colored instrument off of its pegs and handed it to the white haired boy, who took it gingerly.
"It's beautiful," he murmured. He ran gloved fingertips over the wood, then up to the strings. He delicately plucked one, and the note it played rang through the room like a bell. "It sounds as good as it looks… is this the one I want?"
Gio nodded. "It could be. Give me a moment with it." He selected a bow from a nearby case and lifted it to his chin, and what happened next had both exorcists staring at him in wide-eyed awe. Music flowed from the violin like water, and Allen was certain he'd never heard something so beautiful in his entire life.
"It's perfect!" the young exorcist declared, smiling broadly. "It's so beautiful… that's definitely the one!"
"I agree! He's going to love it!" Lenalee clapped her hands in delight as she admired the violin.
Allen nodded. "I hope so. This is the one, then, for sure!"
Gio smiled and handed it to him. "Here you go, then. I'll go haggle out a fair price for you… wait here."
"Thank you," Allen said gratefully. Gio disappeared into the back, and Allen turned his attention to Lenalee. "I really hope I'm doing the right thing…"
Lenalee smiled reassuringly. "Don't be so nervous! If he's really played since he was two years old, I'm sure he misses it… and since he actually told you about it, that's proof that he enjoyed doing it while it lasted. He'll love it, Allen."
Allen nodded, his smile slowly returning. "I'm sure you're right… I'm worrying over nothing."
Despite his words, Allen continued to worry through the entire train ride back to the Order. He clutched the violin case to his chest the whole time and mostly stayed quiet, though politely spoke when spoken to. Kanda and I have gotten closer, haven't we? He asked himself. Surely this is the right thing to do… he'll love this gift… won't he?
It was another long day before they returned to the Order, and after thanking both Gio and Lenalee several times again Allen excused himself to his room. It was late at night, and he wasn't sure if Kanda was awake or not… but it would be worth a try. He stashed the violin carefully in his closet, then left for Kanda's room. His heart was racing as he strode down the hallway, chin up as he tried to hide his nerves. Please let this work, please please please let this work!
It took all his willpower to knock on the swordsman's door, and he locked his knees to keep them from shaking as he waited. A moment later the door opened, and Kanda almost snapped at him before he saw who was there. He stepped back and gestured for Allen to come in, and then shut the door after him.
"So, you're back from your mission," the older exorcist observed. He yawned a bit and pushed his long hair over his shoulder, shaking it out as he did so. "You could have waited for morning to see me, you know."
Allen smiled up at him, his nerves easing a bit. Kanda was adorably rumpled from sleeping, and while he looked annoyed he still looked pleased to see him. "Sorry… I just wanted to let you know I'm home."
Kanda snorted. "You thought I was worried about you?"
"Not exactly," the younger boy replied. He walked forward and tilted his head up for a kiss, and the swordsman grudgingly obliged him.
"You're cold!" Kanda exclaimed, stepping back and glaring at him. "Did you walk the whole way back?"
Allen chuckled. "No, it's just a little cold out, I guess. Um, listen, could you come to my room for a few minutes?"
"Why?" Kanda asked, crossing his arms. "I want to go back to bed, moyashi. It's late, and some of us keep normal hours."
"Please?" Allen asked, turning on his best puppy-dog eyes. "There's something I want you to look at."
Kanda glared at him for a moment, then sighed and rolled his eyes. "Let me get dressed. This better be worth it."
Allen smiled faintly. "I hope it will be," he murmured. He'd managed to make it back in time for Kanda's birthday, and wasn't about to let the older boy's grumpiness spoil his surprise.
The two walked silently back to Allen's room, and once inside Allen bit his lip. "Go sit over there," he said, pointing to the bed. "Close your eyes." Kanda raised an eyebrow at him, but did so with no remark… and Allen reached into his closet, his heart threatening to pound right out of his chest.
He knelt and carefully lifted the case into his arms, then stood for a moment and turned back. "Um… well…" He hesitated, hugging the case tightly to stop himself from shaking. "I…" He finally gave up on talking and walked forward. "Hold out your hands," he said, his mouth dry.
"What's gotten into you?" Kanda wondered, holding out his hands and frowning, though not opening his eyes. "You're acting strange. Did you get hit in the head on your mission?"
Allen chuckled softly, but when it sounded slightly hysterical he bit it off. "Um, no, nothing like that, I just… I just remembered… um…" he trailed off, then drew a deep breath and set the case in Kanda's arms. "Happy birthday," he whispered.
Kanda's eyes flew open as he felt the familiar weight of an instrument he hadn't held in years. He looked down at it, stunned, then back up at Allen. "What… what is this, moyashi?" he finally asked, trying to snap and failing miserably.
"Open it," Allen replied, his voice shaking slightly.
The swordsman stared at the case again, then set it in his lap and unlatched the case with hands that he told himself firmly were not shaking. He lifted the lid and carefully moved the velvet cover aside, then sucked in his breath when he beheld the violin carefully settled inside. He ran his fingers over it, then set the case on the bed and lifted the violin out.
Allen watched him, eyes shining and smiling tremulously. "You… do you… like it?"
Kanda tore his eyes away from the violin and looked up at Allen, at a total loss for words. He looked back down at the instrument, then back up at the young boy gazing expectantly at him. "I can't believe it," he finally managed to say. He carefully put his new violin back in its case, then stood and swiftly pulled Allen into his arms. He could think of no better way to hide the tears that suddenly tightened his throat and threatened to spill over.
The younger boy held him tightly and pressed his face into his neck, feeling him trembling with suppressed emotion. "I was so afraid you wouldn't like it," he blurted, suddenly feeling foolish. "I thought you would laugh, or tell me it was stupid, or… or…"
"Idiot," Kanda whispered, holding him tighter and turning his face into the boy's soft white hair. "How did you ever manage…?"
"I had a little help, but I didn't tell him it was for you," Allen admitted. "There's a Finder who studied violin at a university in Italy, he's really good, and he – "
"That's not what I meant!" the older boy interrupted, his voice harsh. "Nobody's ever… you can't even begin to understand…" He bit the words off, shaking his head and holding Allen tighter until the smaller boy squeaked a bit. "Stupid moyashi," he breathed. "You've managed to do something I've tried so hard to keep myself from doing… from feeling."
Allen bit his lip hard, knowing that this was most likely the closest Kanda would ever come to telling him he cared for him. He tightened his grip and smiled, his heart feeling as though it had wings. "I just wanted to see you happy," he whispered.
Kanda drew a shaky breath and let it out slowly. "I am," he said faintly.
They stood that way for a long time, then Allen pulled back slightly and looked up at him, smiling shyly. "So… will you play for me?"
Kanda made a sound that could have been a startled laugh had it been anyone else and glanced at the violin on the bed. "I can try," he finally said. He let go of Allen and picked up the bow, tightening it carefully. He fiddled with the strings of the violin for a moment, adjusting the pegs until he was satisfied, then lifted it to his chin.
Allen sat cross-legged on the bed next to him, watching as he drew the bow across the strings for the first time. He closed his eyes and smiled as the older exorcist began to play, nothing as complicated as Gio had when testing the instrument, but to Allen's ears its beauty surpassed the earlier performance by far. The melody was simple, and the notes were crystal clear in the stillness of his room. One song became another, then another, until Allen completely lost track of everything except the music.
When Kanda stopped playing, Allen opened his eyes in confusion. The swordsman swiftly loosened the bow and put it back in the case, then covered the violin and replaced it as well. He flexed the fingers of his left hand a few times, and when he noticed Allen looking at him curiously he lifted his hand and showed him. "I told you it's been a long time," he said softly.
Allen's eyes widened when he saw the marks and angry red color of the other boy's fingertips. "I'm sorry," he managed. He swiftly took Kanda's hand and brought it to his mouth, carefully kissing the damaged skin and lightly running his tongue over it one finger at a time.
Kanda gazed at him, his eyes half closed and cheeks slightly flushed. "Don't be sorry," he whispered. "It felt good to play again."
"I'm glad," Allen replied, shifting to settle in Kanda's arms. The older boy closed the violin case and set it on the floor, then shifted so they could stretch out and relax.
Kanda gazed quietly at the ceiling for a bit, then closed his eyes and rolled onto his side, pulling Allen close. "You've kept me up far too late," he grumbled. "I'm going back to sleep now."
Allen laughed softly and nodded, pulling the blankets up over them. "Good night, then," he murmured. He closed his eyes, finding that the relief from the anxiety he'd felt since Italy leaving him had made him very sleepy.
He couldn't be sure, but he could have almost sworn he heard Kanda whisper something as he drifted off to sleep…
"I love you."