This drabble was written for a challenge in November 2004 that needed to use ballet shoes as a focal point and had to be 500 words or less. It's 499 words, right up there next to the limit, so it seems very cut-off at the end. I suppose I could add on to it (was intending to mention Rue's and Duck's shoes before I ran up against the word limit) but, eh. This is mostly for record's sake. (I can even spot a slight chronology discrepancy here; can you spot it? :P )

The approximate time that this takes place is sometime after the first few episodes but before the last few episodes of Chapter of Egg. Not really any major spoilers; anyone that's seen the first several episodes will know everything there is to know.

Oh, and since I thought I might as well try it out, I used the official names that ADV will use in the licensed version to see how it'll work. Ahiru = Duck, Neko-sensei = Mr. Cat etc.

Invisible Shoeprints

Duck was waddling along the windowsill of the dancing room building, watching the other dancers in class stretch along the barre. From her small point of view, it was hard for her to see the faces of the boys and girls, and the only thing she could see readily at eye level were their shoes. Still, she was fascinated as she toddled along, examining the ballet slippers pointing and flexing.

It's interesting how much a dancer's ballet shoes show about a person. She glanced at one stretching dancer and noted that the shoes were loosely fit. Their color was faded, and the toes and the padding on the bottom were worn, even though the girl dancing was quite young and didn't look like she was much better than Duck herself. Yet, the shoes were clean and well cared for. Maybe she got those shoes from her older sister, and even though she could only get old shoes, she admires her so much that she treasures the shoes that her sister once wore.

She took a few more steps and observed the next dancer. Her shoes are brand new. They're spotlessly clean, and they're well fit; they must have been made just for her. Plus, the way she dances with them, meticulously straight legs, sharply pointed toes – she must be a very proud girl.

She waddled along some more, flying across the spaces where the windowsills stopped, and happened upon the distinctive paws of Mr. Cat. Those shoes look just like the ones that he showed us from Mr. Stravinsky. He still admires him, and Mr. Stravinsky probably still inspires much of his style. But, he still dances with a possession that makes me sure his dancing is only his. And, he really is a knowledgeable teacher.

After flying around the building to the other windows, she saw Mytho and Fakir limbering up. Hoping not to be noticed, she landed discreetly on the windowsill closest to them and gazed at them thoughtfully.

Mytho…I remember glancing at your shoes on that day that you caught me when I fell…they were strangely neglected, as if you didn't really care about them one way or the other…I suppose I know why, now…

Duck looked at them closer. It's good to know that your shoes are starting to get more attention. Their whiteness is brighter, now.

Duck at this point couldn't help but notice the state of Fakir's shoes. His shoes seem in the worst state that I've seen so far. They are well tended and polished, so it's not from neglect. But there's a stretch on them that's too strained to have just come from much use. It's almost stressed, or restless. The way he dances, too…he seems to be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he's quivering from the struggle.

Suddenly, Fakir glanced her direction. Duck flapped hurriedly away in alarm.

How come I get the feeling that he always knows exactly what I'm doing!?