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Dad rolls his eyes and calls it "separation anxiety" and when Mommy isn't looking Ichigo sticks his tongue out at him. He doesn't know what separation anxiety means and Dad looks like he's going to start crying out of sheer frustration every time he does that, but Ichigo knows when he's been mocked.

No, Ichigo doesn't like to be away from his mother, not for any length of time. It's noticed, commented on, and ignored. After all, is it really so odd that a small boy doesn't want to be away from his mother? No, it really isn't.

It's not odd, but Isshin's right when he calls it "separation anxiety". Ichigo's visibly nervous when Masaki sees him off to school; once he's home he's practically walking on her heels. When Masaki has to go into the next room Ichigo immediately runs after her.

Isshin nods as he watches his kid follow Masaki around. Definitely separation anxiety.

Ah, heck. He'll grow out of it, Isshin's sure.

-0-

After all's said and done, Ichigo does overcome his separation anxiety. He no longer needs Masaki with him everywhere he goes.

Isshin just wishes Ichigo hadn't had to get over it the way he did. He still can't get the look on his son's face out of his head, finding him down at the docks.

He doesn't have separation anxiety anymore, but he'll never get the chance to outgrow it.