- - -

He had seen it in his father, with that woman Izayoi.

He had seen it in his brother, with that strange girl in the short kimono.

And now, he stared at his reflection in the still water of the pond, the sound of Rin's laughter echoing in his ears.

He stared as if the change he feared would be a physical one, as if weakness, like a disease, would creep into his skin, marring his face so all could see it.

A splash came from nearby, and his reflection shattered into ripples. He glanced up to see Rin, who had shed her outer kimono and jumped into the pond. She was laughing and splashing at Jaken as he ran along the bank, frantic as always.

He glanced at his broken reflection once more, wavering and changing in the moving water, and turned away.

If this was weakness, he would embrace it.

A smile broke the smooth calm of his face, sending ripples to his heart.

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