Serizawa was lying on his back, looking up into the sky. He shivered with every intake of breath. It was nice up here, on the rooftop of Reigen’s apartment. It felt good to be by himself too, staring up into the night sky, small dots sprinkled all over the black blanket of earth. His mind buzzed as he remembered the events of the past day. They had been out, buying pastry? It was so exhilarating but at the same time exhausting. Smiling, talking, apologizing, hoping. Any interaction with everyone outside was so new.
Even the things he did with; around Reigen and his friends were new. So much interaction, so many laughs and smiles, so much happiness that it all seemed like a distant dream. As if it was not him who lived through his life. As if he wasn’t supposed to be here, supposed to feel happiness. He inhaled shakily. His heart ached with every quivering intake of breath. He clenched his teeth and closed his eyes, tried to control his body.
Serizawa jerked up from his lying position, his eyes wide. Who was that?
His heart was pounding in his ears, his blood rushing so fast that he could barely feel his limbs, he swallowed and then finally his wide eyes could see. It had been so dark. So so dark. His vision returned slowly and he saw Reigen flailing with his arms mid air, trying to turn so that his legs were under him and not above him.
“I-I’m sorry.” Serizawa scrambled up, tried to will his powers down, frantically trying to calm his racing heart.
The more he tried the harder it seemed to be. He clenched his eyes shut. His breath puffed out of him in irregular intervals. He couldn’t focus. Why? His mother flashed in front of him, one of his hands scrambled to hold onto his shirt right over his heart. It was pounding so hard, so heavy, so fast. His ears were buzzing. His head swimming. Past, present and future seemed to fuze together as he tried to just calm down. Why couldn't he calm down? He was pathetic, so pathetic. No different from his self that would just live in his tiny room in between the roaches and garbage. Just where he belonged.
Stop. Serizawa looked up. He was panting. What was Reigen doing? Was he mad? Was he disgusted? Serizawa wanted to look away, to not see what kind of face Reigen was making. But it was like he was frozen. His body locked up he stared.
“There you are. Finally.”
Was that a smile or a frown? He couldn’t tell.
“Breathe. With me. Will you? One.” Intake of breath.
Serizawa could do that. So he inhaled. He stared but he also inhaled just as Reigen did. His lungs filled with air, so cold, so fresh as if his life was starting anew.
“And slowly out through your mouth.”
Serizawa tried, his nostrils flared as the warm air pushed out of his body. Was that his? Was he harboring this heat?
“You’re doing great. Now again. Two.” Intake of breath.
Serizawa did the same, his lungs once again filled with icy cold clear oxygen, building him up from within, calming his aching mind.
“Exhale. But now through your mouth.”
Serizawa opened his mouth, the air slowly leaving him, his tongue dry and heavy as he did.
“Okay great. Again. Three.”
Intake of breath. And then out. In and then out again. Serizawa felt life return to his limbs. In and then out. His mind was shutting up; finally. Breathe in and then out. Serizawa could see clear again. And another breather, just as Reigen did, slowly, surely. The colours around him returned. Once more. The buzzing in his ears slowly faded into nothingness. Take a breath, release it, give a part of yourself to the world. He could finally hear the distant sounds of city and nature.
“Ten. So good. Right?”
Serizawa noded jerkily. It made no sense, his eyes stung.
“H-hey.” Reigen rubbed his own back while he stood up from the ground, came closer, his hands in his pockets, voice soft. “Eleven. See you can do it.”
Serizawa fled Reigen’s eyes, swallowed against the drumming of his heart.
“Now, no stopping breathing. Breathe with me Serizawa.”
And breathing Serizawa did. With Reigen together. His whole world narrowing down and expanding all at the same time. His eyes focused on Reigen, his ears picked up every distant noise. The silent murmurs of trees, the people whispering behind closed doors, the echo of an even bigger world he decided to explore. All thanks to the man right in front of him.
“Ah, there we have it. You’re back.”
The ghost of a smile washed over Serizawa’s face. His mind filled with hope. “Hi.” He finally voiced.
“Did I disrupt you?” Reigen asked, his gaze wandered over his surroundings before he sat down. His actions contradicting his question entirely.
Serizawa shook his head. His hands clasped together as he tried to decide what he should do. Was he supposed to go? Could he stay? He would much rather stay.
“Come sit.” Reigen patted the ground just beside him. “The night’s beautiful today.” He added after his face returned to look up.
Serizawa hesitate. He didn’t know why exactly, but he did. Before he exhaled and made up his mind. He walked over next to Reigen and sat beside him. His movements felt mechanical, weird. Was this body even his? His face twitched at the thought, eyes stinging even more. It was a waste to have given such a powerful body to-
“You know.” Serizawa’s head snapped to Reigen, he watched as the moon illuminated his face. Turning Reigen’s already pale face into porcelain. Painting his surroundings surreal. Serizawa swallowed. “When I was a kid I did this often.” Reigen suddenly lay down onto his back. Serizawa eyed him curiously. “Tried to see shapes in clouds.” When he heard the word cloud Serizawa looked up. “It was day of course and I didn’t lie on concrete.” Reigen paused shortly. “It was always so nice.” He sighed, Serizawa’s gaze returned to him. His blonde hair was sprawled all over the concrete, turning the bleak grey ground into a painting full of life.
“Hey.” Serizawa focused on Reigen’s eyes when he heard him talk again. “Lie down, too.” Then a grin flashed over Reigen’s features. Serizawa though needed some time before his mind processed the meaning of Reigen’s words. He nodded slowly and did as he was instructed.
“Look.” Reigen pointed up. Serizawa tried to follow Reigen’s finger to whatever he was pointing at. “A dog.”
Serizawa squinted. “I don’t see it.”
A laugh was to here. “Right there.”
“That doesn’t look like a dog.”
Reigen gasped. “Of course it does!”
Serizawa turned his head to the side, looked at Reigen’s face again. The moon was doing things. Beautiful things. Reigen was bright like the moon itself.
Reigen grumbled something under his breath, a pout visible on his face, before he lit up again. “Okay, this one’s obvious. Look there.” Serizawa once again followed Reigen’s pointer finger. “Ice cone.”
Serizawa huffed a small laugh. “Yes.” He then said, the smile nearly splitting his face. “The one beside it looks like candy.” The words flew out of his mouth before he could stop himself. He pointed up hesitantly and added one last word. “Look.”
There was no sound from Reigen. Serizawa froze. Swallowed. His heart was picking up pace. It took all the courage in his body to turn his head. And when he did his lungs just stopped working. His eyes widened. Reigen was smiling at him. The rims of his eyes were crinkled. His face a map to happiness. Every wrinkle meant that the smile came from deep within. Serizawa’s eyes jumped over Reigen’s face as if he was searching his way in a labyrinth, followed the creases to true happiness. His eyes stopped just over Reigen’s eyes. He swallowed nervously.
Suddenly Reigen puffed a laugh. The spell broke. Serizawa fled Reigen’s gaze.
“What are we doing?” Reigen said, his voice was hoarse as he pushed his hair back and looked back up to the sky. “They formed a heart together.” In his face was a distant nostalgic look.
It was a short glance Serizawa threw Reigen’s way before he just followed the other’s example. He looked up into the sky. Watched the way the ice cone candy heart slowly drifted closer to the moon until it covered it. Enveloped in a white halo it slowly lost shape until it was only a cloud again. Nothing special.
A small smile settled on Serizawa’s face. He wasn’t sure how his life would proceed. Everything was so new and he could barely get accustomed to it. Yet as he lay there on his back just beside Reigen. He understood that he found something he could have never found with Suzuki. This something flourished in his chest with each intake of air. The nutritions of the icy air gave all the different flowers blooming in his chest a chance to live and grow.
Serizawa exhaled through his nose. Then dragged in some more cold air. Filled his lungs to the brim, held it there just a bit and then exhaled again.
Since he lived with Reigen breathing was so much easier, seeing without his umbrella was so much better, and living without the fear of losing himself was the bandaid that held him together.
Serizawa was not lost anymore. Actually he never had been. The only thing that he had been, was, afraid. Afraid to see that he had the power to do and understand anything he wanted. It was long tedious work, hard and with a lot of fall backs. But the hard work paid off it gave him the realization that he was the hero of his own life.
The smile on Serizawa’s lips dissolved and morphed into a short heartfelt laugh. Reigen startled beside him but funny enough in that moment Serizawa couldn’t bring himself to apologize. His heart was melting in his chest as he smiled wide without restraint.
He was happy to have finally found the courage to live.