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Broken Pieces

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“Ah - Haruka?”

He couldn’t look up. The edges of the bowl shone in the late afternoon sunlight - shattered, but shining in a way that he’d barely remembered the ancient pottery was able. He imagined that the fragments caught the light in a way they couldn’t have when they were one whole, perfect curve.

“Is that...?”

“It fell.” He lifted his hand to the breast of his jacket and the half-imagined hollow where his bowl usually nested. “When I veered to catch the demon.”

“Oh. Haruka, I’m sorry, I know it was important to you...” Kantarou trailed off, apparently realizing that he was out of his depth. What words could the human have to fill this void? His short lifespan knew no greater bond than the sum of his short own years.

“Everything breaks.” He lifted his head and met Kantarou’s eyes. They caught the sun, too. He sat back on his heels and wished the human would say something more. Pale hair, pale skin, and bright, marble-like eyes reminded him too much of his bowl and other things that could too-easily turn to shards and fragments in the sun.

“We’ll get you a new one.”

A... new bowl?

“I don’t want a new bowl!”

Kantarou made an impatient noise. “So you’ll eat with your fingers straight out of the rice-pot, now? You have to have something. Youko won’t like all the mess you’ll make if you don’t.”

He tilted his head and peered at the thin pieces scattered before him. Perhaps Youko could put them back together somehow...? She was clever with things like that. “I don’t want a new bowl,” he repeated. “I like this one.”

Kantarou crouched down, his bells chiming dimly as he bounced on his heels. “But this one’s broken, Haruka.”

“I know that.” He reached out and gathered the pieces, one by one, and removed a handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped each shard, one fold for each partial horizon. “But it is my bowl.”

“lt was your bowl.” Kantarou corrected. He already sounded annoyed. Impatient human.

“It is. Even when it’s broken.” He tucked the wrapped bits of pottery delicately in the inner pocket of his jacket and stood.

“Haruka...”

“Let’s go.”

They stood quietly, looking at each other for a moment, and then a crow called out overhead. Haruka lifted his head to watch it pass. “Humans have short lives,” he said finally, and then stalked back toward the house. Kantarou watched him go, the long legs and elegant stride quickly multiplying the space between them.