Notes: Some Seiji/Shizuku. Takes place after movie, in which Shizuku is writing another book (a sequel), and Seiji is staying around for a little while before heading off to Italy for whatever amount of time..


Inspiration

Shizuku finally came to the little antique shop after her long toil up the steep street. She wouldn't admit it to anyone, but she had run the whole way, like she always did. Every time she would stand outside for a little while to catch her breath, just so Seiji wouldn't know she had run all the way there.

The small curtains were still as they obscured the small room and all its crafted wooden contents. Peering under them, she could just make out the Baron stoically surveying the windows in tranquil silence. His eyes flashed green and gold at her in the filtered light of the warm afternoon, greeting her with his magical gaze.

It didn't matter what she had gone through- Shizuku still loved that fairy tale-like quality of the Baron, along with everything else about that shop. Everything, from the old tomes in that far corner, which used to be dusty until she came around, to the workshop downstairs and its handcrafted violins, even if they weren't all made by Seiji.

Ignoring the 'closed' sign hung carelessly at an odd angle from the inside (obviously the work of Seiji closing up shop for his grandfather), Shizuku jiggled the door handle gently. The oaken door swung open slowly with the peaceful tinkling of bells.

No one was there, but having the shop to greet her was enough.

"Hello, Baron!" She giggled cheerfully as she sat down in the chair that was always left in front of him just for her, the hem of her skirt fluttering about as she sat. He didn't say anything in return, but she beamed anyway and leaned forward with her fingers gripping the edge of her chair. "So, I hit some inspiration last night for my story! I wish you could read it once I finish it. I bet you'd like it. Though..."

Her eyes wandered down to his little shoes. Her fingers fidgeted in her lap. "Since it's about you, I suppose you'd be more critical than anyone... What if it's not any good? What if you hated it? What if..."

Suddenly Shizuku was almost on the verge of tears, rubbing at her eyes with shaking fists. "I just don't know. I wish you could tell me. And then, then I get up to a point where I just can't write anymore and I lose it all! I said I hit inspiration, but I lost it..."

She sniffed in sharply and stared at him with pleading eyes. Chuckling weakly a little, then, "I don't suppose you could give me any more inspiration, could you?"

The Baron never said a word; he just gave her what seemed to be a comforting gaze.

"I didn't think so. Thanks for your time, though, Baron." Shizuku stood up and pushed the chair back as she gave a polite little bow. She knew anyone else would have thought her crazy if she told them of her excursions, but she was convinced that if they just met the Baron, they would understand. Never had she met such a charismatic statue- though, on second thought, she hadn't officially 'met' any statues before that.

Something soft snaked along the ground and by her leg, causing her to jump nearly a foot into the air.

"Oh! Muta, you half scared me to death!" The plump cat brushed up against her leg with a look of indifference and yawned lazily. He walked away slowly with his tail sweeping over the floor, disappearing down the stairs.

"Where are you going, Muta?" The dormant sense of adventure bubbling up inside her, she bounded away, not before throwing a quick smile over her shoulder to the Baron. The task of following the cat again at hand, she rounded the corner and flew down the stairs. "Muta!"

The magical workshop finally came into view, along with Muta perching himself on the balcony railing with a complacent and haughty swish of his tail.

"Oh, you're no fun, Mu-" Shizuku blinked when she saw Seiji, his eyes burning into his work in his concentration, sitting at the workshop table. Half-made pieces of the violin he was attempting to carve were scattered all around as he raked his fingers through his hair in frustration. "What is wrong with me? I'll never make it in Italy if my work is like... like this!"

He slammed a fist down so splinters of wood flew into the air.

"Seiji?"

He twisted around in surprise with his mouth open in mid-rant, his cheeks flushed at being caught in his angered state.

"Shizuku? What are you doing here?"

She stood at the base of the stairs, looking a little dejected. Normally Seiji would look surprised and suddenly smile at her every time she came along unexpectedly, and she would crash into his open arms as they laughed. The scene played over in her head. Quietly, she answered, "I always come here after school, when I can. You know that, right? You're not normally here on Tuesdays, though..."

"O-oh, right, sorry. I just, uh..." He scratched his head as she rubbed her arm and looked down at the collar of his shirt. Sighing, he set down the carving knife and what seemed to be the body of a violin and stood up. "Sorry you had to see me so angry. I just feel like I've lost that- that drive, but I know I haven't. My work just hasn't been as up to par lately. I don't get it..."

She slowly made her way over to him. Sliding her arms around him, she rested her head on his shoulder and gave him a gentle squeeze.

"I completely understand. I've been feeling the same way lately. Guess those are the pains of being a writer and a violin maker, huh?"

"Heh, yeah." He held her back, taking the opportunity to place a gentle kiss on her cheek. It always made him laugh when he saw her flustered face.

"You know, they say that doing something different for a change helps the 'creative juices' flow. Ever tried doing something other than carving violins?" Shizuku let her eyes fall on the ones hanging behind his head. "Of course, they're beautiful, but I guess you've got to change things up every once in a while."

Seiji chuckled as he hugged her tighter, his hands becoming filled with the silky material of her shirt. "Then you've got to try something other than writing for a change."

"But my book...!"

"No 'but's." He pulled away from her with his hands still holding her shoulders, giving her a stern look. His face broke into a smile at the pouty look on her face. The grumpy pout she had adopted transformed into bright epiphany.

"I know! Teach me to carve! That way, you'll be teaching, and I'll be learning, so it's a win-win. I've always wanted to learn, once I saw you do it." She smiled happily and tilted her head to the side.

"I don't know... I'm not very good at teaching anyone anything..."

"Come on, Seiji! You run the workshop!"

"But it's different with you, because now, it's gotta be perfect."

Shizuku blushed, her cheeks a tint of light pink, but continued to push him on, settling for the oldest form of encouragement. "Please, Seiji? Please?"

The biggest, most effective puppy dog eyes that Seiji had ever seen, that history had ever seen as far as he was concerned, probed his firm frown with all their might. Torture, it was.

"Ok, ok, I'll teach you," he laughed, a grin splitting his face again. "Come over here."

Slipping his hand over hers, he pulled her to the table littered with wood carvings. Another stool was pushed under the desk, covered in wood dust. He dragged it out and offered it to her with a flourish of his hand and tipping of his imaginary hat.

"So..." Seiji settled into the stool beside hers, scooting it as close as he could get to her. He handed her a small knife and closed her fingers around the dark handle. "Just start carving like this, little by little."

"What are we making?"

"I don't know, since you're making it. It's whatever you want it to be. Don't worry; it'll come to you. Your hand will guide the wood into whatever it is you want."

Shizuku couldn't help but admire the way he spoke about his passions so openly. She snuck a glance at his face to see his eyes trained steadily on the slowly transforming wood. So focused, so calm. Every time she would write, she felt she just scrawled things all over in haste before they slipped away. Maybe there was a lesson to be learned in patience as well.

"I still don't know what I want, but if you say it'll come to me, then I believe you." She nicked away at the wood piece by piece as Seiji watched her. Her level of determination... Did he have such a thing? Could he compare? If someone lacked drive, it was him. Maybe she was the one teaching him something instead.

They shaped it together, Seiji guiding her as she guided the wood.

xxx

It had been hours. The sun had already fallen below the horizon, leaving in its wake warm colors to peer in on the two.

"Finished..."

Shizuku gazed upon the product of two uninspired people and a few hours.

"She's beautiful." Seiji, who had his arms around her the entire time as he helped her along, hugged her waist. "Maybe you should be a violin maker too."

"Eyes- she needs eyes, though." Two empty slits stared back at them hollowly. "Wait, that's perfect!"

Fumbling in the purse she had set next to her seat, she silently cheered as she found what she desired.

"The geode- I polished the pieces." A little velvet bag was in the middle of her palm, and she poured its tiny contents into her cupped hand. Carefully choosing two after a quick inspection of their sizes, she fitted each into the holes in the statue.

"They may not be perfect gems, but they're diamonds in the rough. Just like the Baron's eyes, don't you think?"

Seiji gingerly took the figurine in his rough hands, calloused between his thumb and index finger where the knife usually rested. He turned it back and forth so emerald and gold and other unknown, vivid colors danced over his face in flecks of light. The little figurine seemed to have finally come to life, as if it had just been born in his hands yet a moment ago. They were just like the Baron's. "Yeah."

"What should we do with her?"

"I don't know, you made her."

"Not without your help, but... hm." She trailed a finger absentmindedly over the long tail coming out of the back of the figurine's elegant dress. It wasn't completely smooth, but... she just needed to be polished.

xxx

"I wanted to give her to the Baron, but..." She leaned forward toward Nishi and whispered softly, "I thought it might make him even sadder than he already is, you know?"

Nishi chuckled and rocked back in his chair. "I suppose you might be right. Though, I think he would be grateful too."

"How so?"

"Well, while it wouldn't be Louise, you would be paying homage of sorts to her. I'm sure he would respect that."

Shizuku gazed at the wooden statuette as he turned it over to watch the eyes flash.

"I guess you're right," she mused, allowing Nishi to drop the figurine in her hands. She walked over to the Baron's table and set her down beside him. Nishi rocked back and forth in his chair, watching her with an amused look.

"Seiji and I made her for you. I know she's not the real one, but... I... I promise, one day, when Seiji and I get older, we're going to travel the world! Then, we'll find your Louise- both Louises!"

She gave a small bow, grabbed her bag, and flew out the door with another quick goodbye to Nishi, only the tinkling of the bells left to tell she had been there.

xxx

Two cat figurines stood side by side in the window that night.


People probably don't read this fandom much anymore, but I just watched the movie a little while ago and randomly wrote this. It was a cute movie. c: What intrigued me the most though, not just because of The Cat Returns, is Baron. Poor guy.

I apologize for any mistakes; I'm not very familiar with all the characters/places/etc. I've only watched it once.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed. It was more of a long drabble-ish thing. Your support is always much appreciated.

/flies back over to Kingdom Hearts fandom