Heh, haven't posted in here for a few years. I think it's a nice change, don't you think? Well, this is a short Whisper of the Heart one-shot. I see this being G-rated unless someone says so. It's a Nishi-centric little ficlet, which I noticed is rather... rare, if it doesn't exist. So might as well give the guy his time in the spotlight.
It's plot-bunny time! This is shorter than what I normally write, but I'm making-do with what I can, since this isn't something I'd normally write, you know?
This sounded better in my head earlier this morning, but I really couldn't write it all down in time before I went to the movies, so some of it got lost over the last few hours. I gathered what I could remember in this little one-shot.
It was slowly becoming cold in the house, warning Shiro Nishi to get up to make a small fire, or to even gather more blankets. He would if he could, he just didn't have the strength to get up from his bed. The elderly man had been needing more and more assistance for the last several years, much to his chagrin. He wasn't particularly stubborn, but he liked to remind everyone he built the shop and home with his own two hands. Since he had daily company with his grandson and granddaughter-in-law, he had no room to complain if he wanted to. It was a quiet sign he was getting older to let the new generation grow.
So it was no surprise to him he was now on his deathbed. He wasn't sick, nor in a brace suffering from broken bones. His age had finally caught up to him. Having known several months prior he was dying, he readily accepted the fact, and polished up his will. He had little to give, but he tried to make sure none of his family and his few close friends were left out. His daughter's inheritance had been left untouched, so it was rightfully hers and her husband's to do as they wished. His old friends wanted nothing from him as much as he insisted, saying their memories were enough. He originally wanted to give them equal rights to the shop, but they refused. The shop and house would be entrusted to his grandson and young wife, they told him, it needed some young blood to look after it.
And so it was.
Nishi knew he was making the right decision. Everything was in good hands now. Once his burden was gone, they will live out the life they've wanted. He imagined Seiji cleaning out an extra room for his future child, and it brought a smile to his face. Knowing them, they would let her—he was very certain he was having a great-granddaughter—sleep in this very room so he could watch over her, to give him a chance to watch her grow up.
“You'll watch over her too, won't you, old friend?” he whispered hoarsely, still staring at the ceiling.
There was a glint at the corner of his eye, and he slowly turned for a look. A few feet away was the Baron, aged but well-kept. The jade eyes had come to life, surveying the scene before them. His posture was more reverent than Nishi remembered it being, almost like he knew the time was nigh. This would be the first, and last time he would see such an expression in the statue.
Then a thought came to mind. “Oh, I never put you in my will. How neglectful of me. If I had the upper-body strength, I'd add you to it now. But you have the ears, so do listen closely.”
The gems glinted like they focused intently. Anyone would have pointed out the autumn sun had just peeked through the window, but the man knew better than that. Sunlight had helped bring out life in him, but it was the time and care that gave it the sentient soul. It was what attracted him in the first place.
A familiar face appeared before him at that moment, the one that he dreamed about every night. There was a wave of happiness, and yet sadness, wafting over his weak body. “Louise... I'm sorry. I couldn't keep my promise...”
The Baron seemed to sulk at the edge of his peripheral, but a refocus of the eyes showed him humble as ever. Nishi let out a soft sigh. “I apologize too, Baron. You looked forward to the reunion as well. I let you both down.” A small cough escaped from his throat, forcing him to loll his head away as his eyes closed. “I have always wondered where she went to, if she married another, or fled deep into Europe out of my reach. I'm sure... she feels the same way, wherever she is.” The pause was painfully slow. “I should be saying 'they', it is not just my beloved who is missing.”
He let out a chuckle, though he could feel the Baron's own quiet, somber laughter. “Oh, well... we did our best anyway. We are so alike, you and I. But there's at least one difference between the two of us, and that is there is still hope for you.” Turning back to the statue, he winked. “You'll get to outlive me. Don't give me that look, you are older than I am, give or take a few years.”
The cat just stared back with an almost unamused countenance. Nishi laughed again, then wearily gazed out into the room, almost in a far-away look. He thought back to the promise he made to Louise at the heartfelt separation upon his return to Japan, Baron in hand. Not a tear was shed when she smiled brightly up at him with her beautiful blue eyes, her hat at her side. Together, they agreed to meet again to reunite the statues, and to join together in union. That kept him hopeful and alive during the many years. Even after the horrific things that he saw around him, the vow planted in his heart set him straight over and over. He knew they will meet again, he looked forward to that fateful day, no matter their age.
A curious thought clicked in his head the more he dwelt on it. They would be reunited when the Baron and his Baroness came back together. Suppose his beloved hadn't been on the earth in a long time. If so, his waiting would have been in vain. But what if in another life they were to come together the very moment the statues came together here? What if there was nothing after this life, but they would come to existence when it happened? Would they remember the promise and its fulfillment?
No matter what went through his mind, Nishi felt calm about it all. He believed the two statues will be whole again as long as their caretakers believed. He had nothing to worry about. Baron was in good hands now, that should be enough to help his soul rest.
Nishi's vision locked with the statue's once more, a feeling of peace in his core. He saw within the oculars the sun was beginning to set. The Baron had been waiting patiently for him to speak again this whole time. He can't let him down now, he had a promise to uphold.
“Baron Humbert von Gikkingen,” he slowly rasped, his chest already constricting. He feared he waited too long to tell hm, there was little time left. Straining to keep his eyes focused on the cat and breathe deeply at once, he resumed, shakily holding out his withered hand. “Baron, my old companion, I leave you in the care of my grandson, Seiji Amasawa, and his wife, Shizuku, whom has helped give you a better life than I have. They are having a little one coming along that needs to be looked after. When she grows up, she shall take care of you.”
He paused to swallow, and gasp for a breath. “There is no telling... what the future brings. However, I entrust you to the young ones, for it shall be them who will return you to the Baroness. You know of Seiji's profession. Chances are he will move his family to a new place, closer to or further away from your beloved. But... at least you shall see many places, and have many tales to tell. May you live to be a thousand-and-one, having lived happy lives.”
Nishi's lip quivered as his hand dropped at last. He laid there in silence for a long, timeless moment, staring blearily at the motionless statue. Before his eyes, he saw the light from the Baron's irises twinkle in understanding, in which there came the slightest hint of a nod. It brought a smile to his face, and he returned the gesture. He sunk back into his pillow, not bothering to fight back the exhaustion that quickly enveloped him.
“Thank you, old friend... thank you.”
The sun slipped past the horizon, leaving the room in complete darkness. The faint presence of his companion helped the man drift to sleep, to escape into the recesses of his dreams of Louise.
At precisely midnight, when the clocks downstairs let out quiet chimes, Shiro Nishi passed on in peace. When all fell silent, the Baron's shining eyes dimmed as his stance fell to a reverent, mournful bow.