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A Real (Psychic) Conman

Chapter Text

The human brain is a funny little thing, and emotions even more so; no one knew that better than the 21st century’s greatest psychic- Reigen Arataka.

Hovering outside his door was a very strange presence; two sets of emotions were layered on top of each other- which usually indicated a possession- but neither were exerting emotions synonymous with a possession. He couldn’t feel a ghost either, instead an aura that felt like pure power emenated out of the door, and both presences shared emotions. Currently they were experiencing nervousness and hesitation, and considering they had been hovering outside the door for a solid 30 seconds Reigen could guess what they were nervous about.

Reigen snuffed out his cigarette and called for the people- person?- to come into his office.

“Excuse me, I came here because I saw your sign.”

To Reigen’s surprise a young boy- alone- opened his door. He knew instantly that the boy was psychic, extremely powerful, and that the two entities were both a part of him. The boy gaped at him and a mixture of emotions came over the boy- shock, hope, and excitement- but they were quickly stamped down by him and the second entity greedily ate them up.

One of the brain’s many quirks is that seeing is believing- but as a result if the brain vehemently doesn’t believe something it won’t see it. It was through using this inanity that Reigen was able to hide his aura from psychics and ghosts alike(strangely enough, despite not having physical brains ghosts followed the same rules humans did). If Reigen could just take the muted emotions the boy was feeling about his aura and turn them into a strong enough sense of denial he’d stop being able to see Reigen’s aura entirely.

“How may I help you?” Reigen put on his biggest smile despite the disappointment now emanating from the boy from his missing aura.

He sauntered closer to him so the boy would have to move his head to look up at him.

“Um, I’m an esper.”

Reigen lifted an eyebrow as the kid’s hesitation reached him, mixed in with a little regret.

“There are times where I can’t control my powers very well, and it’s scary.”

Oh. Reigen immediately realized it probably had something to do with the second entity hoovering up his emotions, the source of an esper’s powers- was the boy even aware it existed?

“And you came to me because you heard I was psychic?” He spoke slightly softer than before.

“Yeah. I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about this.” The boy looked away from Reigen and towards the floor. “I thought you might be the same as me…”

Ouch, Reigen momentarily regretted his knee-jerk reaction to hide his aura from people.

“If I tried, I could see spirits, too.”

“Well, come in.” Reigen wasn’t telekinetic like he assumed the boy was but he might be able to help with his emotional problems.

Reigen indicated a chair for him to sit on while he made tea. He ruminated on the boy showing up at his office. Reigen had only met a handful of espers before- and most of them before he started hiding his aura soon after he started his psychic business. They were all telekinetics and they all had powers that were nothing to cough at, if the boy had strong powers that he couldn’t control Reigen couldn’t blame him for being scared. He eventually made two cups of tea for the both of them and sat down across from him, and immediately started bullshitting the kid.

“I was troubled a lot when I was a kid, too.”

Okay that wasn’t an entirely a lie, even if Reigen wasn’t troubled in the same way the boy was. Reigen experienced a kind of detachment from his fellow students as well, and when he started being able to control people’s emotions when he reached high school he’d made the mistake of letting it be known. He was already known as a sweet talker that could con people out of everything they own and the knowledge that he could have been using powers to do so resulted in the people around him avoiding contact. To Reigen’s credit, he hadn’t used his powers, he discovered quickly that any emotion he could feel he could also see as plain as day in the way people move and talk. By the time he mastered control of emotions he’d already learned that words and actions were just as effective as using his powers in most situations and deemed his powers next to useless. In fact, the most they ever did was attract unwanted attention from beings that could sense him.

Reigen had only meant that line to draw some connection between him and the little esper, he didn’t expect him to start brimming with hope from Reigen’s first sentence. He dove further into the kid’s psyche, pushing aside the emotions he was currently experiencing and reached for the underlying emotions that he was feeling about other things on his mind and was touched by a profound loneliness. Reigen felt his heart clench in sympathy.

“Listen. Just because you have psychic powers doesn’t make you any less human.” He needed to make it clear that the kid was being ostracized by his peers for something not very important. He’d seen ghosts and psychics alike drunk on power because they thought being different made them above everyone else. By framing it as if he thought the boy thought less of himself destroyed the mental connection of psychic powers being inherently better than any other ability. “It’s the same as people who are fast, people who are book smart, and people with strong body odor. Psychic powers are just another characteristic.”

The kid nodded and lapped up everything Reigen was giving him earnestly. He almost felt bad, the boy was obviously searching for someone to tell him something exactly like that and Reigen happened to be the first person he ran into and now he clung to Reigen’s words like they were verbal gold. He stood up in an attempt to get the kid’s big, hopeful, eyes off of him for a second; it didn’t work.

“You must embrace that as a part of yourself and continue to live positively. The truth behind one’s charm is kindness.” Reigen put a hand on the kid’s shoulder. “Become a good person. That is all.”

“May I come talk to you again?”

“Yeah, I don’t know about that.” If he wasn’t careful enough the kid would keep coming back and with that cute puppy dog face that Reigen couldn’t resist. “I’m pretty busy, you know. Anyway you should go home for-”

Distracted by his conversation with the young psychic Reigen took a sip from his still hot tea and gasped in pain and horror as he watched it fall towards the boy.

“Hey, don’t get bur-”

The kid’s aura quickly covered the cup and the liquid and it coalesced back into the cup before landing neatly in the kid’s hand. Very suddenly Reigen had an idea.

“Hey… you said you can see ghosts, too, right?”

He nodded.

“Do you know how to exorcise them, too?”

He nodded again.

Good, Reigen couldn’t imagine how he could teach a telekinetic how to exorcise ghosts. He had figured out how to be rid of ghosts using his powers of empathy- it was as easy as forcing a ghost to feel acceptance about the ghostly afterlife and it would vanish- but powers that dealt with the mind and powers that dealt with the physical realm were two entirely different beasts.

“Alright. Come again tomorrow around the same time.”

“What? Really?” At that moment the boy showed more visible emotion than the entire time he’d been there and Reigen belatedly realized he had just signed himself up for something he shouldn't have.

“I’ll show you how to use your powers.” Well, he was already deep in it he might as well keep going.

“Th- thank you, Master.” The boy bowed and Reigen suddenly felt respect come to the forefront of the boy’s mind.

He stepped back in shock. “Whoa, whoa kid- that’s a little much.”

“Oh, I thought that because you were training me…”

“I see, hold the bowing at least.”

“Okay.” The kid’s eyes suddenly grew wide and he jerked back up to meet Reigen’s eyes. “I never introduced myself. My name’s Kageyama Shigeo, but most people call me Mob.”

“Mob, huh?” That wasn’t the friendliest nickname he’d ever heard. “I’m Reigen Arataka.”

He glanced up at the clock on his wall. “Now go on, Mob.”

“Oh- alright.” Mob moved towards the door and glanced at Reigen. “Thank you.”

“It’s- it’s no problem, kid.”

Chapter Text

Almost exactly 24 hours after Mob left the day before Reigen received a polite knock on the office’s door.

“Come in, Mob.” Even without his impeccable timing Reigen could recognize the kid’s strong aura.

Mob shuffled in and Reigen indicated for him to sit down. He immediately moved towards the seat he sat in the day previously and shrugged a backpack off his shoulders.

Reigen suddenly realized how Mob was so punctual. “Did you come from school, just now?”

“Yeah.” The kid started at being addressed. “I came here directly after school. It’s not very far.”

“Are your parents not going to worry?”

“Oh, I told them I was going to come here yesterday.” Mob paused for a moment. “My brother isn’t back in school yet so I don’t need to walk him home.”

An overwhelming sadness took over Mob’s mind and Reigen knew he couldn’t help but pry.

“Your brother isn’t back in school?”

“There was an accident… with my powers.”

Hesitation and regret clouded Mob’s other feelings and Reigen had the suspicion that the second entity was to blame for whatever had happened. But, he needed Mob’s part of the story, maybe he could get it from Mob’s brother as well.

“What’s your brother’s name, Mob?”

“Ritsu.” Mob sat down heavily. “He’s a year younger than me.”

Reigen turned his attention to the second entity before he asked another question. He was going to be talking about an event he suspected it had a hand in and Reigen needed to know if it would react separately from Mob’s own emotions.

“What happened during this… incident?”

Mob hunched his shoulders and turned away from Reigen as best he could and his emotions dulled as if Mob was rejecting them.

Reigen couldn't help but feel a little regret at prying but the kid had wandered into a stranger’s office grasping at straws for someone that could understand him just the day prior.

“Mob.” Reigen waited for Mob to look up at him before moving to sit across from him to imitate the places they were in before. “I think it’d be best if you… talked about it, what happened?”

Mob looked at Reigen and his big eyes seemed to bore into Reigen’s very soul, as if Mob was the empath here. Whatever he found in Reigen’s eyes seemed to be genuine, as comfort replaced Mob’s hesitation and he sighed.

“It was a couple days ago…”

Immediately the second entity perked up and it felt satisfaction for something. Mob’s own emotions didn’t change in response to what was happening in the back of his mind, reinforcing Reigen’s idea that Mob wasn’t even aware of it.

“Ritsu and I were walking home from school and some kids from a few grades above us stopped us.”

Reigen could feel Mob recalling the emotions he felt, mostly fear for himself and his brother, like an underlying feeling next to Mob’s relief at finally telling the full story. No doubt policemen wouldn’t believe a boy as small and timid as him could cause however much damage did happen. The second entity, however, felt a surge of anger and protectiveness.

“They… they wanted something from us, I think it was money- I don’t remember.”

Mob paused and Reigen almost tried to encourage him to continue talking but the kid eventually took a deep breath and continued.

“They took it from my brother and Ritsu tried to get it back. One of them said something… mean and I tried to protect him. Another guy pushed me back and I hit a wall.”

The second entity’s emotions flared up and an intense level of satisfaction came over it, strongly juxtaposed to the fear Mob felt at… himself.

“When I woke up there was blood everywhere, on the ground, on me… and all of them were… hurt, badly.”

Mob took a deep breath. “My brother called out to me and I know… I know I hurt him when I lost control.”

“Mob.” Reigen stopped his story, he’d felt more than enough to figure out what happened. The second entity protected Mob, and although it shared Mob’s emotions, it didn’t seem to put as much weight on them as Mob did, otherwise the brotherly love Mob felt towards Ritsu would have stopped it during its rampage. No, it seemed to simply and blindly protect Mob, but only did so when Mob couldn’t protect himself.

Mob looked up at Reigen and if it wasn’t for Reigen’s abilities he might not have realize how anguished Mob was about the situation. He appeared almost emotionless on the outside, and that itself was indicative of how much Mob suppressed his emotions in an attempt to stop himself from going out of control.

“Have you talked to your brother about what happened?”

“No…” Regret. “We haven’t talked much since the incident. He was at the hospital for a day and a half and only just got back home.”

“Well I think you should talk to your brother about it, smooth it over with him.”

“Uh-”

“Mob, you’re agonizing over this accident… talk to your brother.”

“Oh- okay, Master.”

“No- Mob- take it as a piece of advice, not a command.”

“Okay.”

“Good, now this is a command- do your homework while you’re here! Seems like we’re having a slow day today and I don’t want your parents coming after me because you’re slacking on school work!”

Mob nodded, reinvigorated by a sense of duty and relief at the sudden subject change. Reigen watched as he pulled out a notebook and a massive book adorned with mathematical symbols.

“Oof, Math, that was always my least favorite subject, how about you, Mob?”

“I’m bad at Math too.”

“Sorry, I can’t help you there, kid.”

Mob nodded in understanding while he pulled out some pencils and started on his homework.

They fell into an easy and comfortable silence after that. Reigen noticed that the second entity went back to mirroring Mob’s emotions now that Mob wasn’t thinking about anything interesting to it. Mob was, however, struggling very hard with his homework and Reigen almost felt sorry for him. After an hour Mob put away the Math, though by the amount of frustration Mob was feeling Reigen could tell it hadn’t been completed yet, and pulled out something else. Presumably Japanese homework seeing as it was half covered by characters written in Mob’s handwriting.

No customers came into the office for another hour, with the dry spell finally being broken by a regular returnee that came for a massage every week or two.

The moment the customer walked in she spotted Mob and gasped. “Oh, look at you! What’s your name, sweetheart?”

Mob instantly grew uncomfortable from the attention but he responded anyway. “Shigeo.”

“Oh you’re adorable, are you Reigen’s little helper?”

Reigen cut off Mob before he could respond. “He’s psychic like I am, I’m training him to exorcise spirits.”

Mob nodded in agreement and she smiled at him.

“That’s so cute!”

She turned to Reigen and started on her entire fake ‘Oh help me Mr. Reigen I’m being haunted by a ghost’ spiel, and Reigen responded knowingly and offered a small discount on the massage while lamenting about her horribly bad luck. He cracked a joke about working somewhere that’s less haunted and she’d return with a fake laugh. As the exchange went on Reigen felt Mob growing more and more uncomfortable with what was happening- Mob knew that the customer wasn’t haunted, but he didn’t say a word. Reigen suddenly realized that he should have debriefed Mob on how not every customer that came in was actually haunted but it was far too late. He could talk about it with Mob later. At that moment though he just rushed the customer into the massage room and told her to get prepared. He needed to walk past Mob to get to his extra towels and when he passed the boy he warned him that it would take an hour and to keep working on homework.

When Reigen first started doing massages he couldn’t help but cheat by funneling positive emotions into the customer's mind but starting a month ago he’d realized he’d gotten good enough at massages to make a happy customer without using his powers. That was a relief, especially with a student now it’d be hypocritical to be preaching about watching how one used their power and then to rely on his own like this.

Reigen could feel Mob’s eyes boring into the back of his head as he waved the customer out and the kid’s curiosity burned into the air.

“She wasn’t possessed.” Mob said finally.

“No, she wasn’t.” Reigen agreed. “Many of the people that come into my office don’t deal with actual spiritual problems, just problems they think are spiritual.”

“You pretended she was possessed, though.”

“Yes I did. I’m not going to turn away someone that’s unhappy just because their problem isn’t what they think it is. I’m going to help them and have them leave happy because I know I can.” Reigen turned to look at Mob face to face. “That’s what I do here.”

“Oh, I get it.”

Reigen smiled at him. “Good- when are you expected home?”

“Maybe not for another hour.” Mob shrugged.

“Alright, how about next time you come in we try and hunt down ghosts for ourselves.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Not with me around!” He smiled at Mob and stood up straighter- the very picture of confidence. “I won’t let you get hurt with me around Mob, any spirits I think you can’t handle I’ll take care of!”

“Are you really that strong?” Mob looked at him in awe.

“Of course, Mob, I’m the 21st century’s greatest psychic!”

Mob nodded like Reigen had given him sage wisdom and turned back to his homework.

They sat in silence again for another 45 minutes before Mob suddenly packed up his books and stood up.

“I’m going to be going home.”

Reigen looked up form his computer at him. “Alright, have a safe walk, Mob!”

“Of course, Master, I’ll be back tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

“Leave your backpack here, Mob.” Reigen said as soon as his new student walked into the office.

“Okay.” Mob dropped his bag by the door.

Reigen sighed. “You shouldn’t leave your backpack on the ground, put it on your chair.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Before we go out, Mob, I want to say that while we’re going to haunted locations, I’m not going to force you to deal with ghosts that are stronger than you.” Reigen spoke while he watched Mob throw his backpack down, silently judging his emotions.

He hadn’t realized it when Mob walked in but on closer examination Mob was feeling his emotions more than the two days prior. Not in the way that he had more emotions but those he had, mostly anticipation and a bit of hesitation, were stronger than they would have been. Like Mob wasn’t holding them back as much as he had been before. Reigen didn’t know whether or not to consider it progress.

Mob just nodded and accepted what Reigen said.

“Anyway, if we come across a ghost that I think is too powerful for you to take care of I’ll deal with it, okay, Mob?”

Despite Mob’s lack of response besides another ‘okay’ Reigen felt relief fill Mob and he felt pride swell up in himself. Now he had to work double time so this kid wouldn’t walk out of today’s events with even a scratch on him. Of course, also because of the threat of the being inside Mob’s mind being unleashed and potentially killing everyone immediately surrounding him.

“Let’s get going, if you get hungry while we’re out I’ll treat you to something to eat.”

With that he sauntered out the door and waited for Mob to shuffle out past him before he locked the door and whipped out a sign that he stuck to the door with a tack. When he turned back to leave he noticed Mob reading the sign.

“I left my phone number on the door in case anyone comes in while we’re away. If they do we’ll cut our trip short.”

Mob nodded at his explanation and turned to leave as well.

“Actually, Mob, I should give you my phone number as well.” Reigen dug around in his pockets for his business card before pulling one out and handing it to Mob.

Even if they got separated it’d be extremely unlikely Reigen ever truly lost Mob considering the massive amount of power he exuded at all times; Reigen could sense him from all the way across the city. Mob, however, wouldn’t be able to sense Reigen and being able to easily contact him would put Mob’s emotions at ease if they were ever separated.

“Thanks, Master.”

“No problem, Mob, now let’s get going, I know exactly the perfect place for a beginner like you.”

Reigen had been watching a low level evil spirit hub grow for the past few months, it was a strange thing. Usually evil spirits were more solitary but for some reason they had all converged, more or less peacefully, in a single abandoned building. The boy was constantly letting out power and Reigen couldn’t tell if it was because of the second identity hoovering up power and letting it out, or if Mob was truly so powerful he didn’t need the excess energy. Going there would not only test Mob’s power, but also Mob’s endurance.

They walked in silence through town, completely comfortable just being in each other’s presence while they walked. Though Mob was a bit… fearful, not of the ghosts but of his own power. That was only natural, however, after an incident like the one Mob had just been through.

“Head up, Mob.”

Mob lifted his head to look at Reigen.

He snorted. “Not literally, mentally Mob, there’s nothing to worry about. There’s going to be no living people still in the building.”

“You’ll be there.”

“You won’t be able to hurt me.”

“Okay.” Mob accepted Reigen’s statement without fanfare.

“And we’re here.”

Reigen waved his hand at a building that looked very haunted. Not because of the constant aura bleeding out of the building because of the low level spirits inside, but because it was extremely rundown. It was by far the worst looking building within a few blocks of Reigen’s office and apparently ghosts had an image to keep up by only picking buildings that were abandoned years ago. Walking inside would be dangerous simply because of the state of the building, but Reigen didn’t plan on venturing far inside. Their mere presence at the door would be enough to bring a couple spirits close enough to the entrance to exorcise.

“There’s a lot of spirits in there.” Mob said.

“Yes there is, now let’s take a peek inside to see if we can go any of them to bite- figuratively.”

“Aren’t we just disturbing them?”

“Huh?” Reigen turned back to look at his new student.

“Well they’re not really doing anything wrong, if they’re just hanging out in this building.”

That was surprisingly thoughtful for what Reigen assumed to be an eleven year old boy.

“That’d be true Mob, if they didn’t hurt every living being that tried to go into the building.”

“Oh- so they’re bad spirits?”

“Exactly!” Reigen couldn’t help but do a hand flourish to accentuate his point. “The spirits in this building aren’t just normal spirits- they’re evil spirits, and it’s our job as espers to get rid of them!”

“Okay, I’ve got it.” Mob nodded.

“Good!” He whirled around to face the building again. “Now let’s see who’s home.”

Reigen took a few steps inside the building and was immediately greeted by an intimidating looking spirit. Though it was clearly all bark and no bite, because despite its chiseled abs and strong face its aura was incredibly weak.

“What are you, the ghostly bouncer?” Reigen said before it could open its mouth.

The ghost stared at him, completely shocked by Reigen’s response. It glanced behind Reigen and spotted Mob, that’s when its eyes grew wide.

“Are you two espers?”

“Mob, smoke this guy.”

“Smoke? Mom says fire is dangerous.”

“No- Mob- exorcise him.”

“Oh.”

Mob raised his hand towards the ghost, palm facing it. Reigen suddenly felt a huge amount of power coalesce in Mob then get released out of his palm. It was unlike any exorcism Reigen had ever seen, instead of the ghost simply vanishing it was completely obliterated by the power being thrown at it.

“Wow.”

“Was that okay?”

“That was great Mob! You utterly decimated him!”

“Yeah, he wasn’t that powerful.” Despite Mob’s words Reigen felt pride swelling up in the boy.

“Good! Then you won’t have trouble dealing with a few more, as it seems your exorcism attracted the attention of some of his friends.”

“I can sense them coming too.”

Right after Mob spoke a few of the ugliest things Reigen had ever seen floated down from the upper floor. Reigen glanced at Mob and when he looked back at the ghosts Mob obliterated them.

“Good job, I think at this rate you alone could easily wipe out this entire building’s occupants.”

“Do you want me to?”

“I’ll help you out a bit Mob, my range is larger than yours.”

Reigen closed his eyes and focused on the emotions of the spirits at the top of building and bent them to his will so they would calmly pass on. As he moved down the building more and more ghosts moved down to the front door to confront the two espers and were all promptly destroyed by Mob. It was over in minutes despite the massive number of ghosts.

Right as he was about to congratulate Mob and suggest they leave Reigen’s phone started ringing, it was an unknown number.

“Hold on Mob, I think this is a customer.”

Mob nodded and Reigen flipped his phone open. “Reigen Arataka, the 21st century’s greatest psychic speaking.”

“Hello? I saw the sign and called this number.”

“Ah, so do you have an exorcism that needs to be done?”

“Yeah, I have a cursed vase here.”

Reigen moved his powers’ attention towards his own office and felt a worried soul very close to an object that was definitely cursed.

“We’re heading back to my office right now, we’ll only be a few minutes.”

“We?”

“Yes, my assistant and I, he’s a psychic in training.”

“Uh, Master?”

Reigen pulled the phone away from his face. “One second, Mob.”

He turned his attention back to his phone. “Like I said we’ll be back as soon as possible, we’re finishing an exorcism right now. If you wait I’ll add on a five hundred yen discount.”

“Oh, okay, I’ll wait for a few minutes.”

“Master!” Mob said in the background, worry growing.

“Excellent!” Reigen said just before the caller hung up. “Now, what is it Mo-”

He turned his psychic attention back to Mob and suddenly noticed a very powerful and very angry presence very close to them.

“Mob get behind me!” Reigen jumped between Mob and the evil spirit that was in front of them.

He distantly registered shock coming from Mob, but not fear, though his attention was more focused on the threat.

The ghost, however, didn’t attack immediately, instead it opened its mouth and spoke, almost civilized.

“How did you two, a normal human, and a child, just destroy everything I’ve built up for the past few months?”

“Wait hold on- everything you’ve built up?” Reigen said incredulously. “Are you responsible for this hub?”

“I was- until you exorcised every single one of my snacks.”

Understanding washed over Reigen. “You were gathering a bunch of weak spirits here- probably by promising them safety- just so you’d have a place for a nice big meal when you decided you wanted a power boost, right?”

“Yes, until you and that child there destroyed it all.” A wave of murderous intent hit Reigen and he acted before it could make its next move.

Reigen’s solid gold aura covered the ghost and it shifted and pulsed, giving the illusion that pure gold was melting off the ghost. It lunged and Reigen attacked with his own powers, forcing it to pass on. Pulses of silver, like a heartbeat, emanated from the ghost and it shrunk in on itself before passing on without a trace.

Reigen turned back to Mob. “Were you not afraid?”

The boy shrugged. “It seemed more powerful than the other spirits, but I don’t think it would have been that much of a threat.”

“What?” He was getting the creeping feeling that he had just befriended the most powerful psychic in the area.

“Yeah, I’ve exorcised ghosts stronger than that one.”

“That’s good to know, Mob, we should get back to the office, we have a customer waiting.”

The walk back was equally as silent but quicker than the walk to the building. Reigen felt the cursed object before he spotted the man in front of his door. He smiled at the customer before letting all three of them inside.

Reigen immediately started on prices and exorcism packages for several minutes before eventually getting the customer to agree to a higher priced exorcism.

“Now, tell me, how did this vase become cursed?”

The customer sighed. “It belonged to one of my ancestors a long time ago. It was my great grandmother’s favorite vase until one day she accidentally knocked it over and it broke when it fell on her foot. Eventually the cuts she received got infected and she died from her injury. However, her husband had the vase repaired because she had loved it so much, but because of that her spirit started haunting the vase and it now has the tendency to attempt to fall on anyone who gets near it.”

Reigen nodded and picked up the vase. “Well I can safely tell you that this vase isn’t haunted- but it is cursed.”

“Can you get rid of the curse?”

“Of course!” Reigen turned around to face Mob. “In fact, this will be a great lesson for my pupil here.”

Mob looked up from shuffling around his backpack.

“Yes, I’m talking to you, Mob, have you ever seen a cursed object before?”

“No.” He admitted.

“Because our powers are different I know we see this vase differently, but you should be able to see the spiritual energy coming off of this vase.”

“I do.”

“Good, every time an object is cursed they leave behind a bit of their own power- if they’re psychic- or their own spiritual energy, if they’re a ghost that cursed it.” Of course, it was slightly more complicated than that, beyond the spiritual energy the ghost of the woman that died was a layer of strong negative emotions attached to the object.

Every single time something with strong enough emotions, be it an animal-as animals had emotions, if not very basic ones- or a human, interacted with an object they left a little bit of their emotions with that object. If a single object was interacted with enough it could permanently soak in that emotion and it could even exude it out itself. Like an old stuffed animal or phone, if you kept it long enough it would become able to rebound those emotions back at you, even if you couldn't feel them on a conscious level. Curses left extreme negative emotions on objects, to the point that even non-empaths could feel them, meaning even if a curse was removed it would permanently be scarred by that past experience. In order to truly free an item from a curse Reigen had to wash it free of all the emotions tied to it. Mob, however, couldn’t do that, so Reigen brushed over that topic.

“All you have to do to free the curse from an item is push out the energy the person or spirit left on it.”

Reigen lifted up the vase and demonstrated it. His gold and silver aura appeared in the center of the vase and grew outwards, chasing away all the negative emotions along with the spiritual energy.

“Like that.” He proudly set the vase down on his desk and realized Mob was confused about something.

“Uh, Master, I can’t see your aura.”

Oh, right.

He continued. “I mean, I saw the curse vanish, but I don’t know how you did it.”

“Sorry Mob, I honestly forgot.” He shrugged. “Well, I’ll just show you again next time.”

The customer perked up. “So the curse is gone?”

“Of course!”

“Thank you so much, you have no idea how annoying it is to have a family heirloom attempt to kill you.”

“Yes, yes, now about payment…”

As soon as he rushed the customer out he turned back to Mob. “Sorry about that, Mob, I forgot I hid it.”

He was extremely curious now. “How do you hide it?”

“Well that’s a little bit complicated, but it’s an application of my powers, more of less.”

“Your powers… are you not telekinetic like me?”

“Uh, no Mob, I’m not.” Reigen stopped speaking and so did Mob- the boy was waiting for a better answer. “I’m hiding my aura for a reason, Mob, I can’t tell you what my powers are.”

Despite his disappointment Mob nodded. “Okay. I’m going to do my homework now.”

“You do that, it’s a Thursday so I doubt that there’ll be much more traffic before you have to leave.”

Chapter Text

The next Monday Mob was a little late coming to work but Reigen had anticipated that. Before Mob left the previous day he had shared with Reigen the fact that his brother wanted to come by Spirits and Such. Reigen, being the kind mentor that he was, told Mob that he’d love to meet his brother. Only ten minutes later than he usually was Mob arrived at his office with his brother in tow.

The first thing that Reigen noticed, to his shock, was that Mob’s little brother wasn’t an esper. In contrast to his brother Reigen couldn’t sense a single spark of psychic energy coming from the boy, but Ritsu was brimming with emotions. He was untrusting of Reigen right off the bat and the instant Ritsu walked in Reigen felt the boy’s eyes on him. Unlike Mob’s wide-eyed stare Ritsu’s eyes were boring into Reigen’s soul like he was judging his worth.

“Hello Mob, hello Mob’s little brother!”

“My name’s Ritsu.” Annoyance flickered through him.

“Nice to meet you, Ritsu.” Reigen stood up from his desk and smiled at him. “Want me to make you two tea?”

“I’d like that.” Mob said before moving to his usual seat.

Ritsu followed him inside and glanced at Reigen moving past him to get to the tea before sitting across from Mob. He also set down his backpack and plopped into the chair.

“Mr. Reigen?”

Reigen jumped at Ritsu’s voice, he hadn’t entirely expected him to say anything to him.

“Yes, Ritsu?”

“Can you train me as well?”

Confusion came from Mob and Reigen couldn’t help but be confused as well. Ritsu wasn’t an esper so why would he- it was a test; Reigen was being tested by a ten year old who was watching out for his older sibling.

“Unfortunately Ritsu, I can’t make espers out of non-espers, and I don’t sense a thing coming from you.”

Ritsu’s distrust waned and he nodded. So Reigen passed the brother test, then, that just made the day easier.

“Ritsu is going to get powers, though.” Mob piped up.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I just know it!”

Ritsu nodded seriously next to Mob.

“Of course he is, seems like he’s just a late bloomer to me.”

Suspicion riled up in Ritsu instead of the affirmation Reigen had been hoping for. Well, you win some and you lose some.

Ritsu’s suspicion stayed as Reigen set two cups of tea, a sort of peace offering for Ritsu, in front of them and a customer walked in the door.

Reigen greeted her with a smile and implored about her problem. She claimed to own a haunted pen, which she quickly dug out of her purse and handed to him. It was indeed haunted and Reigen twirled it a few times in his hands before turning to Mob.

Mob was leaning down and whispering with Ritsu and nodded at him. Reigen felt Ritsu’s trust in him build, so that one was a win.

“Oi, Mob.”

His student quickly shot upright. “Yes, Master.”

“Do you want to exorcise this pen?” He held it out for Mob to grab. “To show your brother.”

“Yeah.” He nodded and held his hand out towards the pen.

In an instant Mob’s aura covered the pen and the ghost was banished from the pen before it even realized it was in danger.

While Reigen rang the customer’s total he felt a wave of skepticism from Ritsu. Did the boy think he used Mob to exorcism the pen because he himself couldn’t? He thought that having Mob display his powers would placate him but it seemed Ritsu was determined to find some fault in Reigen.

The next customer arrived less than an hour later and they were very obviously not haunted in any way. This was a massage type situation but Reigen realized his mistake when he saw Mob, out of the corner of his eye, shake his head in response to a question Ritsu asked.

A flurry of negative emotions came from Ritsu and Reigen distantly realized that he had lost the war. Without being able to show off his powers Ritsu was going to think of him as a con(which he was) and there wasn’t much Reigen could do about it.

But it was too late now, he was already ushering the customer towards the massage room and he wasn’t going to back out now. Massages always paid best.

It wasn’t until an hour after the previous customer that Ritsu boldly spoke up.

“I don’t think you’re psychic.”

Reigen looked up from his computer. “Oh?”

“Yeah! You lie to people in order to get money from them!”

“And that makes me not psychic?”

“You trick people into thinking you’re psychic.” Ritsu was extremely confident in his assessment and Reigen couldn’t help but admire him for it- he could suddenly believe Mob’s claims that Ritsu was one of the smartest in the country.

“Even Mob? Who is a psychic?”

Reigen and Ritsu both looked at Mob to see his contribution. Mob looked back up at them then shrugged.

“Not everyone that comes in has a spiritual problem but Reigen is psychic.” He finally said.

“See?”

Ritsu’s confidence waned but stubbornness now ruled Ritsu’s actions.

“You’re tricking him into believing you’re psychic!” How ironic that Reigen was almost doing the opposite.

“How? With my powers?” Okay maybe he shouldn’t fight with a ten year old child.

“I don’t know!” He admitted. “But I’ll find out!”

“Do your worst, Ritsu.”

“I will!”

So that was probably not the best thing he could have said to the boy, however it was too late for regrets now. He’d just set Ritsu on a warpath against him, but at least Mob was on his side.

Thankfully only one more customer came in and they brought along a non-cursed item claiming it was cursed. Reigen spouted some nonsense and “exorcised it” under the heavy scrutinizing glare of Ritsu. At least he had the sense to not tell the customer that Reigen was scamming them out of their money.

The two boys left 40 minutes after that and as soon as Ritsu ushered Mob out he shot Reigen one last glare and stormed out.

Surprisingly, Mob came back the next day, sans Ritsu, seemingly unperturbed by Ritsu’s accusations of him. Though, Reigen felt he’d have to find a way to reconcile with Ritsu or else they’d end up fighting over Mob’s presence.

Chapter Text

“I, Reigen Arataka, shall accept this job!”

“Really? Thank you so much!” Reigen’s latest client, Hanako, bowed and relief flowed over Reigen. “I was at a complete loss because no one else would take me seriously.”

“I see, I see.” That was truly a shame, any psychic worth their salt would have noticed the ghost’s aura haunting this lady.

But, because they hadn’t, they led this client right into his open arms and he was more than happy about that. Reigen jumped into talking about prices, though they weren’t very important in the long run, if there was a ghost at all Reigen got rid of it completely if it was threatening people’s lives. He was usually able to sucker people into buying the full-priced exorcism anyways.

The client’s boyfriend, a man named Taro, interrupted Reigen’s spiel before he even got to the end of it. He was skeptical of Reigen and almost hostile, and he didn’t need to be an empath to figure that out. Reigen was used to clients like that and it was a simple matter of bullshitting him until Reigen convinced them to bring him to the haunted location.

“Ah, Mr. Reigen, it’s that building over there!”

Now Reigen was faced with the very unfortunate situation in which he was between two buildings both exuding auras from ghosts. He was going to have to very quickly make a guess on which building the person behind him was pointing at and hope he’s right.

Short story shorter he chose wrong.

Taro’s skepticism shot through the roof and even Hanako was starting to doubt him.

“Wait, you just pointed at the wrong building, didn’t you?” Taro rubbed his chin in suspicion.

“Oh- so it’s that one!” Reigen whirled around in order to recover the situation and pointed at the correct building.

He glanced at the other building. “There’s such an intense aura emanating from over there as well- there are way too many evil spirits in this world, ya know?”

“Ah, I see.” Hanako was back on Reigen’s side, even if her boyfriend wasn’t.

“Please. There’s no way there are ghosts everywhere-” Taro began to wave dismissively before Reigen cut him off.

“Oh no!” Reigen diverted his attention to the man that had just closely passed Taro on the sidewalk. “That man who just walked past you, Taro!”

“What?” A spike of fear ran through the man at Reigen’s theatrics.

He wiped his forehead and sighed in relief. “What a close shave. That was an evil spirit, too.”

Both clients gasped and turned to look at the “spirit” that had just passed them. Fear gripped their hearts as they laid their eyes on the pretty normal business man that had passed them.

“Hey hold on- you just said that because he’s ugly!” Taro was back to being a skeptic.

“I didn’t call him ugly!” Reigen defended himself and Hanako stepped in.

“Yeah, you’re the one that called that into being, Taro!”

“He just choose-”

“Now, now, friends.” Reigen turned his head to fully face Hanako. “There are always people like him.”

Taro exuded anger at his statement and Reigen promptly ignored it. “Anyway, should we go?”

He successfully ushered both of them into the building and inquired about the spirit’s origin.

“They say this place is haunted by the ghost of a man that saw a cockroach and jumped so high his head hit the ceiling and he died.”

Reigen shuddered from the combination of the mention of cockroaches and the fact that the fear the woman was emanating was starting to affect Reigen.

“I don’t know how you believe that.” Taro’s denial was a breath of fresh air.

The ghost had noticed them now, but Reigen had worse things to concern himself about, like the massive cockroaches on the floor directly in front of them. He was scared and letting it show in his body language, which only increased the fear in his clients.

He, in a fit of panic, pushed fear into the minds of the insects and they all scattered. Reigen jumped up with a shout, thankfully not high enough to kill him on the ceiling, and leapt back towards the clients. Great, they were both skeptical now, because how could a psychic be scared of something like cockroaches, huh?

The ghost, which he had momentarily forgot about, rose up from the floor behind the clients and whispered into their ears. The fear from before was back and flooding the room so much that all other emotions were scared away from the clients.

“A ghost!” Taro cried.

The ghost pointed at him. “Want me to crash you through the ceiling with my curse?”

“That’s the same guy who keeps headbutting me in my dreams!”

So they had the right spirit, at least- not like there was another one in the building for Reigen to worry about. He turned and faced the ghost and summoned his powers.

In the past three years Reigen’s powers had grown greatly, of course they always progressed and grew stronger as Reigen got older. But they had stopped their exponential growth around when Reigen turned 21 and never picked up steam, that is, until Mob came around. For some reason, perhaps because of Mob himself, or the influx in clients resulting in Reigen using his powers more, they had gotten stronger. Alongside his increased range he could also manipulate emotions much easier. He even became privy to parts of the brain’s thought processes that he didn’t have strong access to before. Where he used to only be able to sense specific intents he could narrow “intent” down to more specific actions. Like, for instance, the ghost in front of him was intending to attack his clients. It was almost like he was digging deeper into people’s minds, with emotions being the outer layer and thoughts being the innermost layer of the mind.

The instant Reigen’s aura settled over the spirit the current extent of Reigen’s progressing powers made itself known.

What does this fake psychic think he’s doing? I’ll kill him next.

The ghost’s thoughts filtered through the air and Reigen dismissed them in favor of forcing the ghost to pass on.

Hanako and Taro gaped in silence as the ghost vanished before their eyes at Reigen’s will.

“Right, well that’s done.”

~~~

“Today’s job is from a local neighborhood council. The location is the Honeido Tunnel along the old highway.” Reigen held the papers towards Mob for him to see. “It’s a famous haunted place. The tunnel’s always had some shady stories, and even though it’s been closed for years, the bad rumors just won’t go away. Also, a number of college students and bloggers have gone there to do a test of courage and gone missing.”

He flipped to the next page. “And this is the ringer.”

“A huge group accident?”

That’s unfortunate, I’m glad we’re here to put their spirits at rest.

Reigen shifted uncomfortably in his seat, when Mob moved closer to Reigen in order to see the papers he entered the very limited range of Reigen’s telepathy. Much like empathy it seemed that when he was in range he couldn’t simply turn off his ability to read minds, just like emotions people’s thoughts floated in the air and made their way to Reigen. But emotions were something Reigen was extremely familiar with, constantly being surrounded by emotions was akin to wearing a shirt; you always know it’s there but you don’t actively think about it. Thoughts though, were like an airhorn to his senses, he couldn’t help but focus on them- to the extent that during massages he had trouble differentiating between a client’s thoughts and their spoken words. It was, all in all, pretty annoying.

“Yeah, it happened thirty years ago.” Reigen spoke again when he stopped trying to get away from Mob. “Apparently, more than 20 people died at once. The hatred of all those people are swirling around this tunnel.”

I can sense them now that we’re closer. It’s good that Master is making the tunnel safe for non-espers.

The bus lurched to a stop and Reigen quickly hopped off, ushering Mob behind him and keeping his distance. There were a lot of angry spirits in the tunnel, and a couple that were extremely strong, but they would probably be no trouble for them.

“Stay on your toes Mob, there’s no telling what might happen.”

“Okay.”

“This is it.” Reigen said as they got closer to the entrance. “Well, let’s take a look.”

He almost kept going on his grandiose persona he put on with clients that he needed to trust him, but he was just with Mob. Mob already knew he was psychic so it seemed wholly unnecessary.

“We’re going to exorcise every last one of them, Mob.” With that Reigen walked into the tunnel, and the waiting hands of all the spirits within.

Well, at least until a few steps in when he realized Mob wasn’t even behind him. He sighed and turned around to see his student kneeling over some ants.

“What are you doing Mob!? You’re coming too!”

Mob’s emotions didn’t even flinch at Reigen’s exasperation and he sighed. “Mob, are you listening to me?”

He poked shock into the boy’s mind and he glanced up at Reigen.

“Come on- you’re supposed to be learning, Mob!”

“Oh, right, but I feel like I don’t have much to learn.”

“Of course you do, Mob! There’s always things you can learn, even someone as strong as I am can learn things from a standard encounter.”

“Okay.”

“Now Mob.” Reigen ushered him towards the tunnel. “What do you sense?”

“A lot of spirits, including at least one very strong one.”

“How far away from the tunnel were you able to sense them?”

“Not until the bus rounded the last corner.”

“Well, that’s something to work on, then.”

“When could you sense them?”

“I noticed them when we were over three miles away.”

“Oh.”

“Mob, you should work on extending your range, but it’s not bad for now.”

By then they had attracted the attention of the spirits in the tunnel and they were rapidly approaching.

“Take care of however many you can, Mob.”

“Yes, Master.”

The spirits in the tunnel didn’t stand half a chance against Mob, who was exorcising them so quickly and so thoroughly Reigen didn’t even have time to manipulate their emotions. All he could do was focus on scrubbing their negative emotions off the walls of the tunnel and the trash on the ground.

While Mob decimated the lower level spirits Reigen walked deeper into the tunnel, chasing the two more powerful spirits inside. He quickly happened upon a very tall bare-chested spirit that had the word “Boss” on it. So, this guy was in charge, even if he wasn’t the most powerful spirit around.

“So, you’re the boss around here?”

The spirit nodded. “When my biker gang and I were going down this tunnel, the guy in front happened to slip on a banana peel, and we all died! And I’m their leader!”

The engine on the spirit’s back revved up. “This tunnel is my turf! I’ll crush every last intruder!”

“Okay.”

I wish he didn’t force me to do this. The ghosts of everyone we’re forced to kill here keep clogging up the place.

Reigen froze when the spirit’s thoughts were made known to him. So he wasn’t the boss, and instead there was someone pulling the strings from the dark. Reigen quickly identified the fear the spirit was feeling, that was making it obey the other spirit, and wiped it away. The Boss stopped its attack before it even began.

“So you’re not even the one in control here, are you?”

“No.” The spirit looked down at him, brimming with curiosity. “How’d you know that?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Reigen replied dismissively.

“You’re right, even I am just the pawn of the spirit that’s further down the tunnel.”

Reigen focused on the other presence in the tunnel and nodded.

“You done over there, Mob? I’m about to wrap up here.”

“I am.” His student walked over to his side and looked curiously at the Boss.

“You can’t be thinking about fighting the other spirit!” He turned pale as he looked at them.

“I can take of him at this range.” Reigen shrugged.

In just a few moments he did just that.

The ghost’s jaw was almost on the floor. “Th- thank you.”

“It’s no problem, now are you going to be able to pass on?”

“Yes!” The spirit nodded profusely.

“Let’s go, Mob.” Reigen turned to leave the tunnel. “I’m thinking ramen, what about you?”

“Ramen is fine.”

Chapter Text

“Master Regen, you’re getting much better at massages.”

“Am I?” Reigen paused before shoving the takoyaki in his mouth.

He didn’t quite expect to have improved so much Mob noticed, especially after his telepathy developed. While he did use his telepathy to make clients’ experiences better… he also spent half his time concentrating on not hearing their thoughts. Apparently his struggles didn’t register as too weird on anyone’s radar. And it seemed like his reading up on types of massages was helping him advance as masseur.

“Yeah.”

“Thanks, Mob.”

Reigen, having forgot how hot the takoyaki still were, shoved one in his mouth and immediately recoiled from the heat. He spat it out on reflex and watched in horror as it sailed towards Mob.

His student caught it with his powers before it touched down and lifted it in the air.

“Master, I’ve been thinking…”

“Well, this is rare. You never try to start a conversation.” Mob’s emotions were so muted Reigen sometimes had a hard time sensing them in their entirety, did he miss something from Mob?

“Well, I can use a little ESP, and I’m different from other people, so I came to discuss that with you and ended up becoming your student. At the time, I didn’t have anyone else to talk to, so I’m grateful, because you teach me various things and pay me.” Mob brought the takoyaki even to his face. “However, is this really okay?”

Mob sent it flying in his direction and Reigen caught it in his mouth, slightly shocked by how much Mob had said at once.

“That’s what I’ve been thinking lately.”

Reigen chewed while he thought about Mob had just said. Did he want to quit? Was it because Reigen barely paid him? Some other reason- was Reigen not teaching him enough? Mob’s emotions were frustratingly neutral. The only thing that stood out to Reigen was the confidence Mob was feeling about bringing up the subject.

“What do you mean?” He finally said.

“How do I put this… Rather than waste my youth working part-time after school, I have a feeling that there may or may not be some other things that I can only experience now…”

“Oh, so that it’s it.” Reigen relaxed and rested his head on one hand. “Such is puberty, Mob. Is there something that you want to do right now? Be in a band? Dance? Hitchhike?”

“No, I don’t have anything particular in mind.”

“Listen, Mob. There’s no need to rush into things, especially if you don’t have any ambitions. In my expert opinion, the going-home club is the absolute best. You’re goofing off during the period you can goof off the most, and that makes you a winner in my book. Keep making money from me, if you don’t really know what you want to do. Got it?”

“Oh, okay.” Mob nodded.

“You have time to figure out what you want to do in life, but make sure you leave room for old Master Reigen.”

“Of course.”

~~~

“Hey, what’s up, Mob?” Reigen didn’t quite expect a call from Mob when the kid was supposed to be walking to work.

“Ah, Master. Is it alright if I’m a little late today? I’m being recruited into a club.”

“That should be over instantly.” How had the kid instantly found a club to join after their conversation?

“No, I have to wait until the student council meeting is over, and then go submit my club admission form.”

Mob's hesitancy was clear over the phone.

“Uh, wait. So if I tell you to come immediately, you’re not going to join?”

“Yes, well… Shouldn’t I keep the promise I made first?”

“So it’s not like you actually want to join?”

“Not really, no.”

“Then hurry on over. Show them how quickly someone in the going-home club can leave school.”

Mob spoke again, clearly speaking to the other people in the room. “He says he needs me right away, so I’ll be going now.”

There was silence on the line for a few seconds before a new voice came through Mob’s side.

“I really need Kageyama to join today, no matter what!” She sounded absolutely frantic.

She must be the club’s leader, but Reigen could only wonder why they’d need Mob so much.

“Mob’s not the type to play any sports. Forcing him into things isn’t good.”

“We’re not a sports club! We’re the Telepathy Club!”

The Telepathy Club? Not only was that an interesting coincidence but Reigen knew for a fact that Mob didn’t have the powers of telepathy. This only got weirder and weirder.

“Huh? What the hell is that?”

“It’s a club where we train to feel telepathic powers.”

Reigen, being curious as he was, couldn’t help but extend the range of his empathy to Mob’s school. Sure, empathy wasn’t telepathy but they worked the same and if there was any actual telepathy searching going on he’d be found out.

To his shock there was another esper with mental powers that resonated with Reigen’s own- but they weren’t in the same room Mob was in. And assuming all the Telepathy Club members were present, the only telepath in the school was avoiding the “Telepathy” Club like the plague.

“Uh, that sounds shady as hell.” He finally said.

“Like you’re one to talk!” The girl on the phone was suddenly shouting at him. “I heard that Kageyama has ESP. Aren’t you using that to get more customers because you’re a phony!”

“Shut your mouth!” Reigen raised his voice to match hers. “Don’t you dare waste my student’s precious time with your nonsense!”

“What?” Her entire inflection changed suddenly. “Are you saying that you don’t care if our club gets abolished? We’ll get kicked out of the room!”

Oh, so that’s why they so incessantly needed Mob, not enough members. There were a few seconds when she didn’t continue speaking and Reigen glanced at his phone to ensure that the call hadn’t dropped.

Mob spoke into the phone again. “Master, she’s about to cry, so I think I’ll join after all…”

“Don’t be fooled! Those are crocodile tears!” Reigen was now leaving back on his chair, sure that Mob wouldn’t join that silly club. “Bonds, memories, friendship... Like any of those things will disappear because a club is abolished. No! They just don’t want to lose their room, their budget, and their pointless after-school time, judging from what their club sounds like. See through it Mob!

“That shady club is going down because it’s meant to go down. If you understand, hurry up and come to work!”

“I understand…”

Mob was speaking to his classmates again. “And so, I’ll be leaving after all.”

He hung up and Reigen flipped his phone closed to wait for Mob to finally arrive. They had an interesting case today, something from a couple high school girls about their school being haunted. In order to get permission to go onto the school grounds with Mob Reigen actually had to use his powers. Speaking of that, he still needed to print off the admittance in, to show security.

~~~

“You turned them down, didn’t you?” Reigen couldn’t help but inquire about the club.

“No. I figured I could take a night to think about it.”

A little bit of guilt hung on the corners of Mob’s mind about his delayed decision.

“You shouldn’t procrastinate, Mob. You need to turn down things you don’t want to do.”

“Yes, Master.” Mob looked at the ground bashfully.

“Oh there it is. Saint Highso Girls’ Academy. It’s a private all-girls high school. We’re meeting the clients on the roof.”

“Okay.”

As soon as they entered the open gate a security guard confronted them. “Stop! What are you doing?”

Reigen whipped out the email he had printed earlier. “I have permission to come in from the vice-principal.”

The guard swiped the paper and read it hastily. Finding no fault in it he grunted and gave it back to Reigen.

“I’ll be watching you.”

“Of course, officer.” Reigen said cheerfully before turning to Mob. “Now, let’s go Mob.”

Once inside the actual school they quickly followed the signs leading up to the roof and immediately saw a group of three girls in front of them. None of them seemed to be anticipating them and were quite shocked at their appearance.

Out of the corner of his eye Reigen saw Mob step forward to say something but he stopped him. “They’re not our clients, in fact I think they may be behind us.”

“Huh?” Mob turned around and peered down the staircase they had just climbed up.

“Look up, Mob.”

“Oh.”

He inclined his head and spotted two more girls standing atop a raised portion of the roof. They motioned for they to come up and Reigen and Mob obliged.

“So you’re our clients, huh?”

“Yeah, I’m Chihiro and this is Mari.” The taller one indicated to herself and her friend. “You must be Reigen.”

“And this is my psychic student, Mob.” Reigen waved a hand in Mob’s direction.

“Hi.”

“Let’s cut to the chase, why do you think your school is being haunted?”

“Students’ belongings have been vanishing under mysterious circumstances, and we’ve been hearing weird noises…” Chihiro explained.

“Like a poltergeist?” Reigen asked and she nodded.

“We heard things have been spotted floating through the air, too.”

“We’re dead sure it has to be something supernatural.” Mari said.

“So we just called the cheapest exorcist in the area and somehow ended up with you.” Chihiro admitted.

“Are we sure we can trust you?” She finally turned on Reigen and cast a critical eye at him.

He scoffed. “Of course you can trust me, I’m very trustworthy.”

Reigen gave off a trustworthy aura, it was why he was able to convince clients with fake ghosts, and it definitely had nothing to do with the fact that he’s an empath. “If you’re not convinced you can follow us around until we exorcise it.”

“Okay.” That seemed to pacify them. “Lead the way, then, Mr. Psychic.”

“Actually, Mob, I want to hand this one to you.” He smiled at his student, it might do the kid some good to perform well around a group of fellow students. “I’ve already located it, and it doesn’t have hostile intent right now, but you need to work on your ghost tracking.”

“Yes, Master. I think we should go back downstairs and look around.”

Reigen nodded and mimed zipping his mouth shut, unless it got hairy, Mob could easily deal with it.

They spent the next half hour watching Mob walk slowly around the school, as the ghost lead them around on a wild goose chase. It even had the audacity to cause a ruckus when they were nearby. Eventually, though, it ended up in the school’s outer gymnasium where Mob quickly trapped it inside. The ghost was getting hostile, however, it’s anger and frustration as clear as day to Reigen. He quickly guided all of them into the gym.

The instant they were inside it revealed itself and cursed Mob. It glanced at Reigen for a moment before Reigen removed its ability to see his aura.

“How dare you trap me? Are you going to try to ruin my paradise?”

“Mob, smoke him.” Reigen spoke for the first time since Mob started hunting it. “Nothing it’s going to say is of interest to us,”

“What? How dare-”

“Yes, Master.” Mob cut off the ghost and stopped the fist it swung at him before destroying its arm.

Shock and awe filled the room from the girls around them but they weren’t able to drown out the ghost’s regret.

After accepting the loss of its arm the ghost turned towards the girls and made a grab for one of them. “I choose you!”

Mob jumped between its would-be victim and the ghost and blew off its other arm with ease. In the next instant Mob completely obliterated the entire ghost.

“It’s over.”

The girls around him erupted into noise, mostly praising him for his good work and amazing powers. Mob could only stand there in shock at the attention he was receiving.

“Damn it.” The ghost, to Reigen’s annoyance, had stayed in existence after its apparent destruction. “How could I be defeated by a loser like you? And here I thought I’d finally found happiness. You seem to be similar to me.”

“Similar?” Mob asked.

“The way you get nervous around girls… You’re playing the loser role in youth just like me, aren’t you? I… I finally started to have fun after I died. I was content, but I guess it’s all over now.”

Finally, thankfully, the ghost passed on, but not before saying one last thing.

“Hey, are you living every day to the fullest?”

Mob’s mood tanked at that line, it must have struck a chord, if their conversation the day before meant anything.

~~~

“So, have you changed your mind about joining that “Telepathy” Club?” Reigen asked as they walked back to the office.

“I don’t know.” Mob said, his mood still low from before. “I need to think more on it.”

“You know, Mob, I think it might be good for you to go out and do something, but that club is not the best way to do that. You’ll find happiness if you do something to better yourself, like what you’re doing with me, not waste it in a group like that.”

“Thanks, Master, I’ll think on what you said.”

“I’m sure you will, Mob, just call me if you decide to suddenly join any club, I need to know if you’re suddenly going to start being late to work.”

“Of course.”

“Now- ramen?”

Chapter Text

The instant Mob walked into Spirits and Such Reigen knew he had something big on his mind. Theories formed in Reigen’s own but he was completely and utterly blindsided by what came out of Mob’s mouth.

“Master, do you know anything about telepathy?”

“What?” Reigen’s voice came out an octave too high and he swore internally.

Did Mob somehow figure out he was a telepath? But- no- his emotions weren’t suspicious, he was asking about it for some reason outside of Reigen but why would he… The Telepathy Club, he was asking because of the damned club. Last he heard of it they were still occupying the previous room so Mob interacted with them a lot, still. So it turns out they were actually looking for telepathy, well, Mob came to the right place. Reigen folded up his newspaper to give more attention to Mob.

“You know, telepathy is-”

“No, Mob, I know what telepathy is.” Reigen shook his head. “I mean, what brought this on?”

“I was just wondering…” Mob trailed off but before he could pick his sentence back up Reigen cut him off.

“So this has nothing to do with that Telepathy Club?”

“Uh…”

“Is there someone whose mind you want to read?”

Mob shifted in his embarrassment and Reigen couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity.

“A girl, huh?”

The kid was now dying from mortification.

“My, my, Mob, you’re so easy to read.”

Reigen paused, partly to let Mob stew in his embarrassment because he couldn’t help but rib the kid. The other part, however, was that he suddenly had the perfect opportunity to tell Mob his abilities. If Reigen impressed onto Mob the fact that Reigen’s actual powers were secret the kid would probably refrain from telling anyone. It’s also been around three years since he met Mob, at this point the kid deserved the benefit of the doubt on this. Partially because of his quiet demeanor you could rely on him to keep a secret.

“Well, you came to the right person.”

Mob looked up at him, more curious than anything else now, but he was hovering at the range of Reigen’s telepathy. Reigen rectified that by getting up and moving closer to him.

“Mob, I’m going to tell you a secret, and you can’t, under any circumstances, tell anyone I’ve told you this.” He met Mob’s eyes when he spoke.

What on Earth could Master be talking about- is this related to our conversation?

“Yes, it is related to our conversation.”

Mob’s eyes grew wide.

Did Master just read my thoughts?

“Did I, Mob, you tell me?”

‘“Is this the secret behind your powers?”

No wonder Master’s exorcisms look so different to mine.

“Well, part of it.” Reigen shrugged noncommittally. “I’m also an empath.”

That’s so cool.

“Wait is this why you didn’t want me joining the Telepathy Club?”

“No, I didn’t want you joining the Telepathy Club because no one in that club was a telepath, I knew that and I’m sure you knew that too, Mob.”

“I did, but the club’s leader seemed actually really determined to find telepaths.”

“Even more reason not to follow her, Mob, if a telepath doesn’t want to be found, they won’t be found.” Reigen shifted on his feet and crossed his arms, they were done with this conversation. “What I said before stands, Mob, it’s extremely important that you don’t tell anyone I’m a telepath or an empath, for both our sakes.”

“If I may ask… why is it so important?”

“Mob, that’s a story for another time, and hopefully you’ll never have to find out.”

Are you still reading my thoughts?

“Yeah, I can stop, my range is pretty short right now.” Reigen turned away from Mob and deeper into the office.

“That’d be nice.”

“Want some tea, Mob?”

“That’d also be nice.”

They fell back into their comfortable silence until Reigen set a cup down in front of Mob.

“How do you hide your aura?”

“It's a little bit complicated, but I use my empathy to do it.”

Mob went silent again for a moment. “Can I see it?”

“Hm, yeah,” Reigen nodded. “I can make it so you alone can see it.”

It took only a moment for Reigen to wipe away the denial surrounding that particular part of Mob's thoughts and the boy reacted instantly by perking up at the sight.

“Sometimes I get the feeling that you're not psychic, and that you've been lying to me this entire time.” He admitted finally.

Reigen gaped. “I wouldn't outright lie to you like that.”

“Oh- I know, Master! It was irrational, I know.”

“Well I'm glad I cleared that up, then.” He laughed nervously.

~~~

Mob visited again that same day and Reigen couldn’t help but notice the massive difference in how he was handling his emotions. Earlier the boy had actually been feeling embarrassment and then amazement, and other emotions below those, but when he walked in Reigen had barely sensed him until he was in the door’s threshold. Now Mob had gone back to smothering them with a vengeance, and what little emotion he did feel was negative, mostly frustration.

Reigen couldn’t help but notice that although it looked like he was thinking very deeply about something he purposefully stayed outside of Reigen’s range, essentially keeping him out. Finally though, he sat down next to Reigen right in the middle of Reigen taking a bite from a burger, and opened his mouth.

“Master, you said you were an empath too, right?”

Reigen chewed hastily before responding, he had to teach Mob good table manners. “Yeah I am, why?”

“Do I… do I feel emotions?”

“What- of course you feel emotions?”

“No, I mean… good emotions.”

“Yes, you’ve been happy before, you spend a lot of your time simply content with life, what’s bothering you now? What happened?”

Mob sighed and Reigen put his burger down while the boy recounted his encounter with the laughing cult. His thoughts filled in blanks in the story his voice left out.

“Well, Mob, I think you spend a lot of your time actively suppressing your emotions, but they’re all there, locked up inside of you.”

But my powers are linked to my emotions. It’s too dangerous for me to feel too much.

“While it’s true that an esper’s powers are somewhat linked to their emotions, that doesn’t make emotions inherently dangerous. You need to learn to hone them so you can use them for good, suppressing them like this won’t help you, Mob.”

But-

“Have you had an incident like that since all those years ago?”

“A couple hours-”

“Mob, from what I heard you were perfectly in control.”

“... No.” Mob amended his statement hesitantly.

“Exactly!” Reigen beamed a smile at his student. “You have to let yourself be happy Mob, negative emotions may be easier to come by but real happiness will help bring you far in life, if you let it.

“Now, let’s eat before this all gets cold.”

~~~

“Master.”

Reigen jumped up from where he was lamenting over his photoshopping mistake and quickly recovered both mentally and actually by hitting ctrl + z.

“Is that you, Mob? I’m a bit busy right now- are you being haunted?”

He stared incredulously at the ugly green thing floating next to Mob. It hadn’t quite registered as a ghost at first, it was bad enough that he was distracted by the “haunted” photo, and even worse that the ghost couldn’t see his aura in the first place. Reigen must have crossed paths with that specific ghost before, maybe they passed each other around town while it was possession someone and Reigen shrugged it off as an esper.

“That’s your Master?” The ghost was incredulous about Reigen’s status as an actual esper.

“Yup. He’s Master Reigen, a psychic.”

Reigen indicated with his head for Mob to get closer and thankfully he understood, stepping within mental reach.

“Uh, you can’t be serious.” It said, a frustrating few inches away from Reigen’s range.

“What do you mean?” Mob asked as he took one more step.

The ghost floated just behind Mob and finally its thoughts were clear to Reigen.

I don’t feel any spiritual power from him at all. That idiot Shigeo is totally getting used. I could let him know- but no, this is fine. I’m going to use him to the fullest, too!

A noise from the printer startled him out of the ghost’s thoughts. “All right, it’s done.”

He waved the “exorcised” photo around and looked at Mob again.

“Master, I’ve had this spirit stuck to me since this morning. What do you think I should do? Should I erase it?”

Reigen studied the ghost, it clearly had hostile intent, but it was also too weak right now to do anything. Mob didn’t trust the spirit obviously, so he’d leave the decision to Mob, who must have had some reason to leave it alive in the first place.

He has no powers but he’s able to see me. This Reigen must have had some close experience with ghosts in the past, letting him see me, but not giving him any actual powers.

“Do whatever you want Mob, it’s clearly too weak to be of any threat right now.”

You asshole!

“Good for you.” Mob looked up at it. “If you don’t cause any harm, I won’t erase you.”

That thing now owed Reigen its afterlife, he could have easily told Mob to get rid of it.

“What’s your name, then, spirit?”

“Dimple.” Its disdain for him was clear.

Reigen looked at Mob, alarmed, that was the same ghost as last night. The one that sent Mob into a very uncharacteristic fit of rage. Did Reigen make the wrong decision there- could he take back his decision to keep it alive?

“Well, Dimple, considering what Mob told me of you last night, I’m going to be keeping a close eye on you.”

“Yeah, yeah.” It waved dismissively.

Just you try, fraud.

Reigen had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. Ghosts couldn’t hide from them no matter how hard they tried. They could make themselves invisible to espers, but they were still there and so were their emotions. Now that he had telepathy he could probably hear Dimple near him anyways.

“Also, are you going to keep hanging around here? Don’t you have other ghostly things to do?”

“Not after Shigeo here destroyed my entire cult.”

“So, what, you’re going to stalk a middle schooler?” A sudden realization came to him. “Mob, was he following you all day at school, too?”

“Yeah, but I don’t mind too much when he shuts up.”

Oh they’re both rude, like student, like teacher, I guess.

“Don’t be afraid to exorcise him if he gets too annoying.”

“I won’t, Master.”

Now it’s like I’m not even here!

The ghost was annoying, and Reigen shooed it out of his personal space, back to Mob. Unfortunately however, Mob’s desk was close enough to Reigen’s that if it hovered on the side of Mob’s desk nearest Reigen he could still hear it prattle on inside its head. He’d have to move Mob’s desk.

Actually, though, I could use Shigeo’s dead weight of a master to manipulate him. I’m still strong enough to do a little hypnotism and Reigen looks nothing if not weak willed.

It was Reigen’s turn to get offended.

I can make an excuse to get away from Shigeo and come back to Reigen’s office, if all goes well I can just manipulate him using Reigen.

There was absolutely no chance in hell he was going to let that happen. He’d confront the ghost whenever it came in some way, if he could just survive listening to its annoying voice while Mob was here.

Chapter Text

Just like it said it would the day before the spirit arrived at Spirits and Such right after open. It phased through the door in its invisible mode and promptly put itself in Reigen’s personal space.

I’m nowhere near as powerful as I was before Shigeo blasted me, but I should still be able to hypnotise this weakling.

At least Reigen’s morning wasn’t going to be entirely boring. He completely ignored the spirit in favor of continuing to scroll through his social media feed.

There, he should be under my subtle control now.

Wait- had the spirit done something? Reigen couldn’t feel any pressure on his mind that would suggest someone was trying to control it. He couldn’t help be miffed that the spirit thought that powers as weak as his would effect Reigen at all.

I’ll test it first, how about I have him check his email. See if I can get any blackmail material from him.

Actually, checking his email would be a good idea, and it would be funnier in the long run if he pretended to be under that little fart’s control. So, Reigen swiftly navigated to his email and scrolled down all the new messages, all four of them, which were all spam messages. The ghost was extremely pleased about having controlled Reigen but otherwise disappointed about the apparent lack of blackmail material in his life.

Excellent! I can begin using him to manipulate Shigeo, the kid won’t know what’s coming. How about next time the kid comes in I impart some valuable life lessons on him through Reigen.

Reigen clicked back to Twitter and liked a picture of a puppy. Now if he could just get Dimple to leave him alone, it had finished whatever hypnotic testing it wanted to do. Next time it came around Reigen would be sure to mess it up as much as humanly possible.

Can I make him laugh? I could just rebuild my LOL cult.

Reigen weakly chuckled at a video of a couple dogs playing. Dimple seemed happy about that apparent reaction. Reigen was definitely going to enjoy messing with the poor spirit.

~~~

Mob was late to work the next day and Reigen couldn’t help but be curious why. Would it be a breach of privacy to use his powers to find him? Probably. He could probably contact him with his powers too, but he never tried talking in someone’s mind before so that’d be a fun test to do with Mob.

Reigen’s plans were abruptly and thoroughly cut off the most overwhelming presence he’d ever felt in his life. A sense of dread came over him the moment he recognized it as the entity inside Mob. Something or someone set it loose on the world.

He scrambled for his phone even if there was no possible way Mob could answer. He paused before hitting call and turned to his tv and hit the power button. The local news station he had watched the day before turned on it was reporting on some supernatural phenomena and they were reporting from the same place Reigen could feel the entity’s aura from.

This incident was going to crush Mob, and after going so long without an incident like that, Reigen had just started to ignore the entity like a fool. Of course it was dangerous and of course it would end up striking again; he should have done something about it.

Reigen stilled while he focused on its emotions. Unlike Mob’s its weren’t suppressed at all, so it was very clear to Reigen that it was pissed; but at the same time it had an underlying sense of fear and desperation. The entity only stayed around for a few minutes before gaining satisfaction from something and letting Mob back into control.

The instant the aura disappeared Reigen sighed in relief. Though, suddenly, Mob’s grief swamped the entire area so thoroughly Reigen could hardly feel the other people around him. He didn’t hesitate to hit the call button and it rang all the way through without Mob picking up. A second attempt ended with the same results; but finally, on the third anxious call, Mob picked up.

“Mob are you okay?” Reigen asked instantly.

“Uh, yeah, I’m fine, Master.” Mob responded in his usual monotone voice and Reigen realized he was repressing his emotions again. “The Body Improvement Club and I are going to do more training.”

“Mob. I felt what happened all the way in my office.” He softened his voice a little. “Do you need to talk about it?”

There was a long pause on the other side of the phone.

“Goda says that it’s okay if I go to your office.”

“Good, it’s started raining and you shouldn’t be out training in this weather, anyways.”

“Yes, Master.”

“I’ll have some tea ready for you when you arrive.”

“Okay.”

~~~

Mob was soaking wet when he arrived at Reigen’s office, which Reigen couldn’t help but crack a smile at before remembering the situation.

“Come on in, Mob.” He indicated the tea at the table.

His student wordlessly shuffled into the room and plopped onto the chair.

“Do you mind if I…?” Reigen indicated to his head.

Mob nodded after a moment.

Reigen closed his eyes and dug into Mob’s emotions head first. They were muted to a degree Reigen had never felt before in Mob and he sighed. Remorse bubbled up to the surface of Mob’s thoughts along with a mix of disappointment and fear. The kid was afraid of himself- of his own immense powers.

“Do you want to tell me what happened Mob?” Reigen took a sip of his own tea. “You don’t have to say anything out loud just… think about it.”

His student nodded and began to recount everything that happened not an hour earlier to Reigen. He did not interrupt once during Mob’s story, letting the information wash over him instead.

“Mob…” Reigen said after he had finished.

Mob’s gaze snapped up to him from where he had been gazing at his tea.

“I’m sorry.”

“What- Master?”

“This is my fault-” Reigen cut off a protest from Mob with a hand wave. “When you first came into my office telling me about your first incident I felt that something was off, but I never treated it seriously, if I had you might not be under this stress.”

“You felt something in me…” Mob asked quietly. “Did you feel something evil?”

Reigen swore internally. “No, Mob, what I feel coming from you isn’t evil, not by a long shot- can you feel it?”

Mob shook his head. “Every time I try and sense myself I just feel me.”

“And are you a good person, Mob?”

“I-”

“Do you want to cause harm to people?”

“No- but-”

Reigen ruthlessly cut him off again. “Then you’re not a bad person, if you did it by accident.”

Mob’s phone rang before he could try and dispute Reigen again.

“It’s from Ritsu.”

“He’s probably just wondering where you are.”

Mob took that as permission to answer his phone and held it up to his ear. “Hey, Ritsu.”

Reigen could hear his concerned voice over the phone.

“I’m at Master Reigen’s office, he invited me over.” A pause. “I’m talking with him right now.”

“He can come over if he wants to.” Reigen added.

“Master just invited you too.” Mob turned away from the phone and towards Reigen. “He declined.”

“That’s okay.” He sipped more of his tea.

Mob nodded and turned his attention back to his phone. “I’ll be home in no longer than two hours, I promise, Ritsu.”

“Okay, bye.” Mob said after one final pause.

“Mob, I’m going to try something, if you don’t mind.” Reigen said when the kid put his phone down.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, when I feel you around with my powers, I firstly feel you, but I also feel something that feels like… a second you, and that ‘second you’s’ power is what I felt earlier today.” Reigen explained slowly. “I want to try and communicate with… him.”

“So you’re saying…” Mob paused and the gears in his brain turned. “That it’s not just an uncontrollable use of my power, but it’s a calculated attack that I have no control over?”

“Yes, but I can tell that the second entity just has your best interest in mind, Mob. It must be stressful for him to only be around whenever you’re in danger so he lashes out in self-defense.”

“That makes sense… if that’s all you want to do I’m fine with that.”

“Alright, Mob, tell me if you want me to stop at any point.”

“Okay.”

Reigen took a deep breath and focused on Mob’s mind. His current thoughts made their way to Reigen and he dismissed them in favor of reaching towards where the second entity resided in Mob’s mind, in a place almost like a second layer over Mob’s mind. When he was in control the layers swapped places, giving him control over their shared body. The entity immediately took notice the second Reigen breached its layer.

Hello?

I didn’t know you were strong enough to reach me.

Reigen wouldn’t consider the entity’s opinion of him hostile, but he was certainly displeased that he made contact.

Who… are you?

I’m Shigeo.

Then who’s out there controlling your body?

Mob.

His opinion of Mob wasn’t too high, either, which made Reigen wonder why “Shigeo” didn’t just take control all the time.

Well, good to hear that you guys have names figured out.

What do you want, Reigen?

Yeesh, I came here to ask why you did what you did at the school.

We were in danger. I dealt with it.

Mob doesn’t seem to appreciate it, though.

I don’t care what Mob thinks, we’re still alive.

Have you ever tried… talking with Mob?

No, why would I?

You share a body!

I already know Mob.

Do you actually know how to contact him?

No- I mean- damn I hate telepathy. I don’t want to talk to him regardless.

Hm, I guess I can’t force you to, but you should reconsider, I’m going to talk to Mob now.

Good riddance.

Reigen opened his eyes with a sigh.

“Uh… how did it go?”

“Neutral, I’m assuming you weren’t able to hear either of us.”

“No.”

Reigen downed the rest of his tea. “Well, Mob, I have a sort of out of work assignment for you.”

“Oh?” Mob’s curiosity piqued.

“Go home and do some meditation, look inside of yourself.”

“Is this a dismissal?”

“If you want it to be, but make sure you do all your schoolwork before you meditate!”

“Yes, Master.” Mob picked up his backpack and took one last drink from his teacup and left the office.

Chapter Text

“We will now begin the seance”

Reigen could tell he was going to regret this ‘seance’ before it had even started. He tried his hardest to turn the client, a man named Hitoshi, away, but the man was so determined it would’ve taken Reigen’s powers to turn him away. And, now that Mob could see his aura he couldn’t pick and choose which clients he wanted to turn away, at least not without being a hypocrite in Mob’s eyes.

The man’s thoughts were clear to Reigen, though he was a couple feet away Reigen’s telepathic range had increased to be able to reach him. His first regret was that he didn’t know a lick of English aside from ‘Hello and Goodbye’ and from what he had gathered from Hitoshi’s thoughts, his father only spoke English.

“Uh, before we start,” Reigen interjected. “All languages are going to be translated to Japanese- it’s a spiritual thing.”

“Oh- okay.”

Reigen made a big show of taking a deep breath and relaxing his body a moment before rising from his seat as if he was a puppet.

“I- Is that you, Dad?” Hitoshi asked. “Do you know who I am?”

He focused his eyes on the client from where he’d been staring at the middle-distance. “Oh, Hitoshi, I never thought the day would come when I got so see your face again…”

“Dad…”

Reigen belated realized that his client wanted specific information out of this seance. His bad feeling about this was getting worse by the second.

“Oh, Hitoshi, how have you been?”

“Dad, do you remember?”

Damn it. Reigen knew this was a bad idea, the client wanted information Reigen sure as hell didn’t have.

Hitoshi continued. “Remember how we used to play ball when I was a kid? And we did that one thing that was popular on TV back then?”

How vague.

“Show it to me one more time!”

Hm, he wasn’t going to do as the client asked, that would make this already embarrassing experience even worse.

“Hitoshi.” Reigen said with his ‘old American man’ voice. “Cut to the chase and tell me what you want.”

“Dad… if being cordial won’t work, then screw it!”

The client was angry now, and more than a little exasperated. I seemed that he had chosen the wrong thing to say, though it probably would have always come down to this, considering it was his client’s goal in the first place.

“Yo, you shitty old man!” Hitoshi was yelling now. “Tell me the password to the hidden safe! I know there’s a fortune in there!”

“Um, I think the password was my birthday.”

Reigen needed to get this man out of his office, fast.

“Don’t give me that crap! It’s thirteen letters of the alphabet!”

Hitoshi suddenly closed the distance between him and Reigen felt a spike of fear from Mob.

“With that money, I’ll chill for the rest of my life!”

“Sir I’m going to need you to leave.” Reigen snapped his eyes open to see his own aura covering the man.

“Oh, okay.”

He realized with a start that he was controlling the man and watched as Hitoshi lowered the knife Reigen just noticed in his hands and turned to leave without a word.

Hitoshi’s thoughts were completely silent, like the man wasn’t actively thinking anything at all, though he still put the knife away on his way out.

Mob glanced at Reigen as Hitoshi walked past him and out the door, all angry energy seemingly having been sapped from him. He grimaced at the look on Mob’s face and released his hold on the man’s will.

“Now, ah, Mob, I usually wouldn’t advocate using your powers against someone like that, but it was for… self-defense.”

“Self-defense…”

“Yeah, speaking of self-defense, Mob.” Reigen smoothly guided the conversation away from what he just did. “We should talk more about how you acted during the incident with that Teruki kid.”

“Didn’t we already talk?”

“No, Mob, we talked about what happened after you lost consciousness, but we really need to discuss how to avoid that happening again.” Reigen gestured for Mob to sit at his desk and Reigen sat down at his own. “I guess I should go back to that knife analogy that I told you all those years ago, you remember it, right?”

“Yeah.”

“You said you used your barrier when you were attacked, which is great, but sometimes you need to use your powers against someone in order to defend yourself. Don’t take me wrong here, you should never seek to badly injure someone, and your words will always speak louder than violence, but making sure you don’t get injured like that again is important.” Reigen paused. “Even against non-espers that mean you harm.”

“But-”

“Mob.” Reigen sighed. “You have exemplary control over your powers, at most, in order to defend yourself you need to ensure that the other person stops attacking you. You can hold a fragile cup in mid air as easy as breathing, doing the same for a person is harmless and could stop them from attacking. Otherwise you should deflect any projectiles with your powers.”

“Oh, okay.” Mob frowned and looked down at his desk.

Reigen sighed. “I think you took my analogy too much to heart, Mob, I want you safe and to teach you morals but I don’t want to see you getting hurt. You have a great capacity to do good with your powers, more so than most other espers.”

“You think so, Master?”

“Of course, or else I wouldn’t have chosen you as my student!”

“Thank you.” Mob said.

~~~

Reigen didn’t often accept exorcisms that required him to go out a distance away from his office but they usually ended up a bit for more interesting than ones at the office. Like now when he noticed Mob’s little brother walking in front of him, probably going home after staying at a friend’s house(their school was in a different direction, if Reigen remembered correctly), and he couldn’t help but think that something was a little different about him.

“If it isn’t Ritsu.” Reigen said as soon as the kid noticed him. “I see you’re giving me the cold shoulder as usual.”

“What are you wandering around near my house for?”

Ouch. Reigen could feel Ritsu’s malice, but he stayed far enough from Ritsu in order to not be able to read his mind.

“I got a request to exorcise a creepy ghost that’s been showing up in this area.”

Actually, now that he thought about, he could tell what was different about Ritsu. He had the small wisp of a psychic aura outlining him, his own psychic aura. Reigen couldn’t help but feel happy for Ritsu about that, the kid had always been insanely jealous of Shigeo.

“Want to help me out?”

Being around different auras would most likely help accelerate Ritsu’s awakening to his powers.

“No. Unlike my brother-”

Reigen cut him off. “Something else on your mind?”

Guilt instantly mixed into Ritsu’s anger, though Ritsu didn’t outwardly display that emotion.

“Yeah, the creepy twenty-eight year adult old following me home.”

“No,” Reigen waved dismissively. “No, I mean like with the incident a couple days ago with Mob.”

Ritsu visibly tensed up and Reigen realized belatedly that Ritsu was scared of Mob, or at least of ‘Shigeo’ inside of him.

“Of course you know about it, what are you gonna do, now that you know about that thing inside him- fire him?”

“What? No of course I’m not going to fire him. He came to me for guidance on how to control his powers so I’m going to help him. I’m going to try and prevent that ‘thing’ from coming out again.”

“Oh?” Ritsu stopped walking to turn towards him. “And how are you going to do that?”

“I’ll get back to you on that.” Reigen shrugged.

“Of course.” Ritsu mumbled. “Don’t you have a ghost to attend to?”

“Oh, right, right, my offer to come along still stands, you can see a bit of field work.”

“You mean watch you throw around salt or something, pretending to be psychic?”

“Oi, I am psychic!”

“Stop following me home.” Ritsu turned and continued walking.

So that was the end of that disastrous conversation. Reigen turned down the nearest street and ruminated on his interaction with Ritsu. The kid was obviously awakening to powers, and as a result would be able to see Reigen’s psychic powers. Letting Ritsu see his aura would undoubtedly increase his trust in him, well, until he learned Reigen was a telepath and someone who could control minds, and then Ritsu would immediately go back to distrusting him. On the other hand, if he hid his aura things would continue as usual. On the other- other- hand, sharing his powers with Ritsu would be a massive sign of trust, and Ritsu, as smart as we was, would be able to recognize that. At worst he’d stick around the office for a couple days to ensure that Reigen wasn’t controlling Mob or any of their poor clients. And besides, every organization that had been interested in finding a powerful empath a few years ago had completely lost interest in him, and if Reigen's secret got out and they regained interest, turning them away a second time would be easier now.

While thinking Reigen completely missed the turn he had to make to reach the haunted location and quickly had to backtrack to find his way there.

~~~

The next day was pretty boring, or it was, until he received an absolutely frantic call from Mob. He was sputtering something about breaking something and he needed Reigen over there that second. When he asked for Mob’s location the boy had to ask someone that was with him. He reassured Mob he’d be over as soon as possible and cut the connection before doing just that. Even if the shady building hadn’t been enough of a give away, the ghostly aura surrounding it and Mob’s negative emotions spreading out of it, would have been perfect indications to Reigen that something was very wrong. He would sense two adults in there as well, they were anticipating his arrival.

Reigen sauntered into the building, the exact picture of confidence, and appraised the situation. Mob was gesturing wildly at a broken vase and flanking him were two adults that were looking at Reigen like sharks.

“Are you this boy’s guardian, sir?” The both of them got within Reigen’s personal space and Reigen immediately knew what was happening.

Mob got himself stuck in a con.

“I see.”

Mob, I think I can just reach you from here, I’ve got this.

Thank you, Master.

Mob’s relief was palpable.

“It’s going to cost five million yen to replace this.” The man in the purple suit said.

Yeesh.

“You’re telling me that Mob broke that cheap-looking vase?” Reigen pointed at the offending prop.

“What’d you say?” The man barely hid the hostility on his face. “Looks like you don’t know how the world works. Want me to make sure you never work again?”

Purple suit guy grabbed Reigen’s lapel and he gasped in mock pain.

“Ow, ouch, you totally cracked my clavicle, that’s gonna cost you.”

“Huh?” The man eloquently demanded.

“The hospital bill with reparations is gonna be a million yen.” Reigen held out his hand like he expected it to be given right then and there.

“You can’t be serious, you dumbass!”

“And now that’s psychological damage, which is gonna be another million.”

“Hey!” The man got up in Reigen’s face.

“Your breath stinks. Another million.” And it really did stink.

“The hell?”

“Your voice is loud. And that’s another million.”

The man’s assistant gasped and Reigen felt her realization at his ploy. They were eating their own medicine. He needed another way to get another million from them, though. He looked down at his jacket to assess the damage.

“Ah. You frayed my shirt. That’s another million for damages.”

Okay, that one was ridiculous and all of them were aware of it. The two were gaping at him at a total loss of what to do.

“And now that’s equal to what he owes you for the vase. That’s the kind of business you guys are running.” Reigen gestured for Mob to follow him. “Let’s go, Mob.”

“Like we’d let you leave like this!”

“Give it up! His misfortune was decided when he broke the vase of happiness!” The woman spoke like she believed that he believed that.

Mob wasn’t anywhere near cursed, and if anyone had a curse to worry about it’d probably be them and the ghost they had in this building. In fact, it had been watching this entire scene, perhaps Reigen could strike a deal with it.

“Perhaps some disaster will befall him!” The man picked up where she left off.

“You know there really was a ghost in that vase?” Reigen countered with his own tale. “It was released when the vase broke, but it knows that Mob here isn’t responsible. It blames you for it being released from its comfy home and I think it may be haunting you.”

Reigen paused while he spoke with the spirit; it hesitated to follow along until Reigen threatened it with extermination.

“Have you ever been haunted before? I have. Ghosts are vicious creatures that do whatever they can to ruin your life. Every waking day and night I saw things out of the corner of my eyes, the walls of my apartment bled, and noises kept me up at night. It was unbearable. Are you prepared for that?”

“Huh? A ghost?” The woman asked.

“Doesn’t feel great, does it? That’s exactly what you guys are doing.” At that point Mob had walked to his side, having heard the ghost’s end of the conversation.

The two burst out laughing. “A ghost? What are you, a kid? So scary!”

Go time, ghost.

Reigen couldn’t help but crack a smile as the ghost immediately began to wreak havoc on the small building, breaking the lights and even the vase before shaking the very building itself. He ushered Mob out while the ghost did its thing.

As per usual Reigen treated Mob and himself to something out to eat after that.

“Mob, you shouldn’t follow shady people into buildings.”

“Sorry, Master.” He was clearly sincere and Reigen softened his tone.

“That was an easy con to spot, you should have turned and walked away.”

“She seemed like a nice person though.”

“Of course she did! That’s how they get people!”

“You know, con artists are really terrible people.” The innocence with which Mob said it was staggering.

“Yeah… only the lowest of the low try to take advantage of someone’s weakness.” Time to change the subject.

Chapter Text

“You can drop me off here.” They’d reached the end of the road.

“Th- thank you, that’ll be 8,810 yen.” The poor cab driver didn’t know what to think of Reigen dragging them both out to this forest.

Conspiracies traveled through his head, each more ridiculous than the last and Reigen snorted. He threw a bag of salt on the man’s lap and he gasped in fear.

“S-Sir? What are you going to do out here so late?”

“Don’t worry. I’m not planning to do anything rash.”

“R- Right.”

Reigen began walking away and the driver wheeled away without taking any real payment. He was going to be a story in that man’s life for quite a while. His own mood went sour when he remembered why he was out there in the first place.

Mob missed work completely that day, which was so unheard of Reigen couldn't even remember a time Mob was late to work without giving him a call. He eventually closed the office when he realized Mob wasn’t going to arrive. Curiosity, though, got the better of him and Reigen used his empathy to search for Mob in the town, only to find him absent. It wasn’t until he expanded his range to its limit that he felt his student in the middle of the forest surrounding the city. He wasn’t alone either, Reigen felt a multitude of different people near Mob, most of which were espers. More notably he recognized Ritsu’s aura along with an aura he recognized from ‘Shigeo’s’ rampage a few days prior.

Reigen navigated to Mob’s location on his phone and with a start realized where Mob was: a Claw base. Mob had somehow gotten involved in Claw of all organizations, though it was probably inevitable considering there was a Claw base on the outskirts of town.

With a practiced confidence Reigen approached the group of young espers at the entrance of the base.

One recruit that actually bothered to watch for intruders noticed him and immediately called him out. “Hey! Who the hell are you?”

“What do you want?” Another yelled.

“Is he with the intruders?”

Reigen could barely hear full sentences over the sudden clamor of noise.

“Hey! Get the others!”

“Hey, what are you guys talking about?” Reigen pointed at the building. “What’s going on inside?”

“Don’t move, you suspicious jerk! Tell us who you are!” The grunt that had first noticed him asked.

An excellent idea suddenly formed in Reigen’s mind and outwardly he sighed.

“Listen, you guys. Is something going on inside?” He walked closer to the group and the grunts stepped back in surprise.

“We have nothing to say to some weird outsider!”

“Hmm… That’s strange.” Reigen tapped his chin for added effect. “I’m usually informed when something happens, but I haven’t heard anything.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Could he mean…”

Ah, there it was, the instant the big grunt in the center of the pack spoke it into being the thought spread to the rest.

“So, let’s get straight to the point.” Reigen shoved his hands into his pockets. “Can you all use psychic powers?”

Immediately they began whispering among themselves, but Reigen could easily hear them all.

“H- How does he know about that?”

“He knows about our organization?”

“He’s acting pretty important…”

“Sorry, but I’m getting nowhere with you guys.” Reigen walked towards the group and they split to let him pass into the building.

When he was in the center of the group one doubtful grunt grabbed his shoulder. “Hold it, you damned intruder!”

“S- Stop it! He might be…” Another concerned grunt tried to stop him and another agreed with his sentiment.

“Let go.” Reigen demanded before turning to face the grunt that grabbed him. “I’m only here to talk about work with my subordinate.”

“Subordinate? Could it be…” Regret filled the grunt’s mind, but he was still touching Reigen, letting him into the grunt’s thoughts.

Everyone here is the 7th Division Leader’s subordinate. But Division Leader Ishiguro is a direct subordinate of the boss… Which means…

The grunt retracted his hands faster than Reigen had ever seen anyone move and fell to his knees. Fear gripped the poor guy so fiercely he had a hand to his own heart.

Reigen looked down at him in slight curiosity.

“What? Are you not feeling well?” Reigen looked up at the others watching the scene. “Hey, someone help him in. Surely you have a break room.”

Relief replaced the fear and apprehension of the grunts around him, all of whom Reigen was just starting to realize were young adults. They talked more about him before unanimously recognizing him as their boss.

After that they eagerly ushered him inside and even followed him in like baby chicks. Considering that the building hadn’t been razed to the ground Reigen had a rising suspicion that Mob had been captured. Inquiring about any prisoners led to one grunt informing him of a room that nullified psychic abilities, and that’s where they were being kept. Reigen instructed one of them to lead him there.

At an intersection containing a staircase Reigen noticed a presence staring at him and looked up to see a kid with a ridiculous pompadour peeking around a corner. The instant he saw Reigen looking at him he ducked around it.

“Someone just hid.” Reigen pointed out- no one else had seen him.

“What?! It’s either an intruder or an escapee!” The ‘leader’ grunt pointed at the staircase. “Capture them!”

“Yeah!” The others rushed passed Reigen to get at the kid Reigen had just pointed out.

Reigen pushed through the crowd of grunts to face the escapees they had backed into a corner. It was a group of five kids, all of which were weak espers, and two, to Reigen's surprise, were telepaths.

A green-haired one started advancing on them.

“Hey, don’t be violent to kids.”

“S- Sorry, Boss!” The grunt looked back at him in shame.

“So, you’re their boss.” The pompadour-having escapee said.

“No, I’m not that important.”

Well, if shit hits the fan, at least he never explicitly claimed to be their boss.

Pompadour got a determined looked on his face. “Um, we were suddenly kidnapped and held captive here. Our friend is still in custody. Please help!”

Reigen glanced back as his flock of grunts. “Were you guy really doing that?”

“Huh? But we were just following orders…” One said sheepishly.

“You’re blaming others?”

“I’m very sorry!”

“Not to mention, it’s not right to commit villainy just because you were ordered to. When underlings get too obedient, they’re nothing but trash.”

“B- But… We believed in-”

Reigen ruthlessly cut him off. “You fools!”

The grunts gasped at his sudden outburst, more than slightly confused.

“Even if you’re able to rise to the top like that, all you’ll see when you look down is the filth you left in your wake. I’m not sure what you’re trying to do, but getting to the top only feels good when you do it the right way!”

Reigen accentuated his speech by gesturing to all of them. “Repent and reflect!”

The kids behind him watched in amazement as the grunts mumbled to themselves.

“W-wow, they changed instantly…”

Yeah, people were easy to manipulate even without psychic powers to do exactly that.

“I guess the boss would be in a league of his own.”

“Alright.” Reigen clapped his hands together. “One of you needs to escort these kids out of the base here.”

“What?”

“Just lead them out of here, make sure they go on their way.”

“Oh, y- yes, Boss!”

Some tall grunt stepped past Reigen and gestured for the esper kids to follow her. They cast Reigen curious looks but followed the grunt regardless of whatever doubts they had.

They arrived quickly at the room Mob was in and Reigen, thankfully couldn’t feel any particular distress coming from him or the other two. He commanded for the people guarding the door to open the room and they scrambled to it as soon as his own group told them who he was.

The three kids, Mob, Ritsu, and some kid wearing an absolutely horrible hairdo, stood in the center of the room staring at him. Reigen quickly removed Hairdo’s ability to see his aura.

“And they’re moving in a pack, as always.” Hairdo muttered disdainfully.

Ritsu next to him was frozen in shock at the sight of Reigen’s aura and Reigen couldn’t help but feel a bit of satisfaction about it.

Reigen fully stepped into the room and his entire world was flipped on its head. The thoughts of the people around him cut off suddenly and all of the emotions he was feeling a moment ago ceased to exist. It was like a weight had lifted off of his mind and for the first time in forever he was alone. Completely and utterly alone not just in this room but in the city; for all he could feel, Reigen was suddenly the last person on the planet.

In front of him Mob shifted on his feet and Reigen snapped back into reality.

“Hey, Mob.” Reigen took a power stance. “What the heck are you doing in a place like this? Ritsu’s here too, hey.”

“Wh- Who are you? Do you know the Kageyama brothers?” Hairdo demanded.

“Hey! Don’t talk that way to the boss!” One of the grunts jumped to Reigen’s defense.

“The boss!” He gaped.

“What are you doing here, Master?”

“Master!” Everyone in the room that couldn’t see Reigen’s aura shouted in shock.

Reigen glanced up at Hairdo’s wig. “Who’s he?”

“We’re being held here against our will!” Hairdo exclaimed. “Please let us go!”

“Why do you have them trapped in here?” Reigen asked the nearest grunt.

The man walked over to Reigen and leaned over to whisper in Reigen’s ear. He told Reigen that they’d more or less broken in and were captured.

“Guys, that’s a crime.”

“We’re very sorry!” The grunts cried out in unison, and even bowed.

“You’re amazing, Master.”

“Anyway, let’s get out of here.” Reigen waved for the kids to follow him.

They really had to leave, the longer they stayed the more likely they were to be caught by the people actually in charge. And, Reigen wanted to get the hell out of that room.

“Okay.” Mob promptly followed Reigen out.

The other two were close behind them as Reigen guided them out. The instant he left the room everything flooded back to him. Thoughts and emotions alike shoved their way back to his perception like they’d never left.

“Boss, where are you going?” The green-haired one from before asked.

“I said we’re leaving.”

“You should at least wait for Division Leader Ishiguro.”

Reigen didn’t get to respond before he noticed four extremely powerful psychics blocking his path.

“Who are you?” The esper wearing a black gas mask and some… unique clothing addressed him first.

“You’re not the boss.” The one to his left, holding some cursed ceramic jar, said astutely.

“Introduce yourselves.” Reigen demanded.

“I’m Ishiguro, the 7th Division Leader of the psychic association, Claw. Who might you be?”

“The greatest psychic in modern history, Reigen Arataka!” He moved to a power stance. “Look me up.”

“He’s not our boss?” The grunts behind him gasped.

“Fraud or not, you had the nerve to disregard me and call yourself the boss… That’s a severe offense.”

Mob, I’m gonna need a barrier right about now.

Yes, Master.

Mob lifted his hand in time for his barrier in time to block an attack from Ishiguro.

“Master, your abilities aren’t meant for combat. Stand back.”

“I see.” Ishiguro said. “You’re gathered some efficient pawns. If you gather enough, you might actually be able to oppose Claw.”

“Division Leader!” A grunt cried out. “At that angle, we’ll die too!”

“Like I care. That guy’s your boss, isn’t he?”

“All of you hide in some rooms! If you wanna make it big, you can’t die here! This is your chance to be freed from the shackles of this black organization. Hurry up. Leave this to me and go!”

“Th- Thank you!” The grunts shouted before all of them turned and scattered.

Reigen, too, began to back up behind the kids when the ceiling suddenly caved in behind him.

“You’re not getting away.” Ishiguro stated simply.

“I’m no match for that power…” Ritsu had his arms up like he was a boxer.

“Actually, they’re pretty difficult for me, too. Which means, Kageyama! It’s up to you.” Teruki, Reigen had learned his name from the other two’s thoughts, said.

Reigen watched as Mob, wordlessly, walked closer to their enemies.

“Yes. He’s strong. I’ll take care of him. I’m pretty sure he’s never met anyone stronger than him yet.” Ishiguro attacked immediately after that. “Sadly, you won’t get anywhere close to me…”

Ishiguro’s aura covered Mob’s own and Mob bunched his shoulders up and his hair acted like it was being pushed down by an invisible force.

“You’ll be squished.”

Mob gasped as the force on him suddenly increased and he was forced to his knees.

“Brother!”

“Gravity control!?” Teruki gaped at Ishiguro’s power.

Reigen felt useless staring at Mob struggling to even stay kneeling under the esper’s strong power. He should be more useful, all things considering, an esper’s powers were fueled by their emotions and he was an empath. Well, it wasn’t exactly like he’d ever tried to control an esper’s powers-

His thoughts were cut off by Ishiguro speaking again.

“You’re not bad, being able to resist my powers.” Ishiguro lifted a hand up. “Why don’t we increase the gravity a bit.”

Reigen didn’t have reality bending psychic powers, but he did have his own fists and feet, and while Ishiguro was focused on Mob, Reigen passed Mob, jumped, and drop kicked the man.

“Master…” Mob got up from the ground.

“Mob.” Reigen sighed. “Are you planning on fighting these guys with your psychic powers?

“Y- Yes, Master.”

“I won’t allow it.”

“What?” Ritsu and Teruki demanded.

“Every time someone attacks you, you have the choice to not fight. Running away is always an option.”

“There isn’t any running away from this!” Ritsu shouted.

Reigen looked up at him. “Then I’ll deal with them. All three of you are just children, you shouldn’t have to fend for your own lives for any reason. I’m the adult here and as your temporary guardian, I’ll protect you.”

“So, you’re going to fight, then?” The tallest of the enemy espers said before walking forward.

“Guys, let me tell you something. You’re not supposed to harm others.”

But dropkicks are okay?

Ritsu’s thoughts mirrored Teruki’s but Reigen mentally dismissed them.

He continued. “But if you’re not going to listen, I’ll fight you. First, I’ll see what you’ve got.”

“I’ll show you my hypnosis!” Reigen pulled out a five yen coin on a string- don’t ask him why he had one on a string- and dangled it from his hand. “Look at this five yen coin.”

“How foolish.” The tall one muttered.

The last esper, someone in glasses and a black suit, however, sensed that something was going to happen.

Reigen walked slowly closer to the tall esper. “While you’re watching this…”

All of Muraki’s attention was focused on Reigen’s right hand so he socked the man with his left. It’d be disadvantageous to use his powers at that moment; It was possible that they’d not only figure him out but could report to HQ after this all was done. Reigen had been approached by Claw recruiters years ago and he didn’t want them hounding him again.

“He just hit him!” Ritsu exclaimed.

“You guys…” Reigen started.

“Quit messing around!” Sakurai, the sword user, started moving to attack Reigen swiftly.

Teruki’s yellow aura covered Reigen and he felt himself being yanked away from Sakurai’s strike.

“What’s up with that sword?” Reigen couldn’t help but ask, it was very obviously cursed, it practically bled Sakurai’s power. “That’s a really sharp katana.”

“Jugan. This is actually a toy sword, made out of plastic, but after wearing it and cursing it over the years, it actually became powerful.” Sakurai answered.

“Uh, hold on. Listen-”

“Come out, my little ones.” Matsuo cut Reigen off. “Do you think you can handle my little evil spirits that I’ve nurtured?”

“No, really, listen-”

Again, Reigen was cut off, this time by Muraki.

“Ethereal Bodies Technique. I can freely exit my physical body, and I can even clone my ethereal form.”

“Come on, you’re dealing with children.”

This were starting to go poorly, his enemies were preparing to attack.

“Maybe I’ll get a little angry.” It was Ishiguro’s turn to get back up. “Black Orbs. Let the varying gravity from them rip you apart.”

Shit was officially hitting the fan. His plan had been to talk to them while they were reeling over his audacity to just punch one of them. But, instead, he’d just managed to piss them off. That was his own mistake, really, he should have realized he wasn’t dealing with rational adults.

“Mob, we’re getting outta here!” Reigen turned and sprinted back to the safety of Mob.

“Die.” Ishiguro commanded and released a gravity orb, it immediately began sucking in everything close to it.

Reigen dropped to the ground and grabbed the nearest raised surface. “I’m being pulled in!”

“Crap! Pull him back!” Teruki shouted.

He gasped the moment he felt his hands slip and felt his body fly towards the black orb.

“Master!” Mob called out.

Mob’s aura surrounded him and Mob stopped his ascent towards an unfortunate death by pulling at him.

“While I don’t like the idea of being sucked into a black hole, don’t rip my body apart by pulling too hard!”

Pieces of the wall began tearing away and flying towards the black orb, one just narrowly missed Reigen.

“Maybe I went too far.” Ishiguro lifted a hand and the room exploded.

Directly before everything exploded though, the black orb stopped pulling Reigen in, which resulted in him flying towards Mob and landing on the floor next to him.

“Come on, now…” Reigen almost couldn’t believe his eyes- that one attack had obliterated a good section of the entire building.

Before Reigen could get another word in the battle started. Muraki sent clones against Mob and Ritsu and Sakurai attacked Teruki with his sword. Mob stayed by Reigen’s side and quickly dealt with the clones while the other two defended themselves.

That left them there staring at Matsuo and his ghosts. Reigen exorcised them without fanfare.

“Huh?” After taking a moment to understand the banishment of his small army Matsuo recovered. “Come out, my ultimate creation… Candy! You can wreak as much havoc as you’d like today!”

“We’re getting out of here, don’t bother with them, Mob!” Reigen retreated a few steps.

“Kageyama, use all of your powers!” Teruki shouted from across the destroyed battlefield. “Just blow these guys away!”

“Stop! Don’t fight back! I’m an adult, so I’ll deal with them! Mob, there’s no need for you to stoop to their level!”

Mob stood still, almost as if he wasn’t paying attention to what was happening around him, but Reigen could feel his inner turmoil as clear as day.

“Brother’s the only one that stands a chance anymore!” Ritsu yelled under the strain of holding his barrier.

“Ritsu… You’re right. I have to defeat them…” Mob said quietly.

“No! Don’t! Don’t fight back, Mob!”

Ritsu’s hurt.

“We have to fight power with power!” Teruki reasoned. “At this rate, we’re all going to die!”

“Master, surely, this is a time where I need to defend us.”

“We just need to run away! You don’t have to fight every battle!” Reigen countered.

“There’s no way for us to run while dealing with their fierce attacks! Come on! Use the powers you used back then!” Teruki demanded.

“Calm down! Don’t go head-on with someone who has murderous intent, Mob!”

“All four of you are going to hell.” Ishiguro reached out a hand and the sinking feeling in Reigen’s mind kept getting worse.

Ritsu… Teruki… Master Reigen… I can’t let them all die. I have no choice but to fight with all I’ve got. If I can protect them, I don’t care what happens to my opponents!

Mob’s emotions were running havoc in Mob’s mind, worse than Reigen had ever felt them before. Worst of all was the ugly murderous intent on Mob’s mind, poisoning the rest of his emotions and ideals. Reigen knelt to Mob’s level and slapped his hands on the side of the kid’s face, effectively snapping him out of his thoughts.

“Don’t do it, Mob. You’re the one who’s going to suffer in the end.”

I’ve got this, Mob, I’ll take care of it.

“When things go south, it’s okay to run away!”

Leave it to me.

Okay.

The murderous intent in Mob’s mind was fully replaced by gratitude and two things happened at almost the same time. The first is that Reigen’s entire body seized and he felt Mob’s emotions transferring to him along with, it seemed, Mob’s powers themselves. The second thing is that quickly after the transfer started Mob looked at something behind him and fear clouded his thoughts instantly.

“Master!”

Reigen had been so focused on Mob he didn’t notice that Sakurai, exuding murderous intent, had snuck up behind him. He didn’t have time to think, never mind move, before pain erupted from his back, starting at his right shoulder blade and dragging a line across his body to his spine where it suddenly ended- everything below that was completely numb. Reigen, still reeling from Mob transferring his power, and from the pain, wordlessly fell to the ground.

Chapter Text

I’m fine!

If there was anything that Reigen wanted to communicate to Mob, while Reigen laid prone on the ground, it was that. It wasn’t necessarily a lie, as Mob’s power flowed through Reigen it chased the numb nothingness away in his lower body, as if it was healing him. Now that Reigen thought about it, it was likely that Mob’s powers had a self-healing effect; Mob had recovered instantly from his encounter with Teruki.

Master?

Mob’s relief was plain as day to Reigen in every way.

I’m just a little shocked- I don’t think I was built for telekinesis.

He didn’t get to hear Mob’s response because as soon as the boy’s powers finished healing him the inner thoughts of the people in the room exploded into his consciousness- louder than ever before.

Are you- believe this is- brother. Something’s- it- Sakurai- Holy shit.

Wait- back it up- that last thought was from a voice he didn’t recognize, but it was close. Reigen zeroed in on that last person’s thoughts, effectively blocking out the others. The source of the thoughts was a floor up, on the other side of the ruined battlefield.

I can still see his aura- so how in the hell did that guy survive?

It was too late to block his aura from that kid’s(the owner of the voice sounded much too young to be an adult) sight, which was a shame, Reigen should have noticed him somewhere earlier.

Please get up.

Oh, right, Reigen felt fine now. He heaved himself up to the shock of everyone else in the room.

“I- Impossible!” Sakurai gasped.

Reigen stretched nonchalantly. “Wow, thanks, you really helped scratch an itch on my back.”

How are you standing, Reigen?

“Guess I’m lucky you decided to bring a toy along.” He shrugged nonchalantly.

Hey, what’s going on?

Is this Reigen’s power?

“Then… I’ll just chop off your head next!” Sakurai lunged forwards and took a swing for Reigen’s neck.

“Ow!” Reigen flinched when the sword bounced harmlessly off his neck.

“Listen…” Reigen grabbed the blade with his hand, the seemingly sharp edges pressed against his skin exactly as if it were a dull plastic toy. “Real adults don’t have time to play with toy swords!”

He took a hold of it with his other hand and snapped it like brittle metal over his knee. At the same time Reigen removed the cursed properties from the blade, rendering it nothing more than a toy. Sakurai’s fear was palpable.

That’s Kageyama’s Master for you, I suppose.

No, that’s brother’s aura- not the gold one from before.

Master Reigen is so cool.

The peanut gallery certainly had a lot to say on everything that was happening.

“Sakurai, move!” Matsuo shouted as the massive spirit from before bounded past him. “It’s Candy!”

Candy immediately zeroed in on Reigen and threw a punch without even a glance for Sakurai. Reigen exorcised it with a casual snap of his fingers.

Did this guy borrow that kid’s powers?

Mystery kid was closest to getting what happened and now that Reigen had the opportunity he looked up at where he sensed him to be. There was nothing there when Reigen looked but he could sense the kid’s surprise.

What- can he see me? That shouldn’t be possible!

Ah, so the kid was invisible, but Reigen was interrupted by Muraki before he could pretend to ignore him.

“Don’t get cocky.” Over half a dozen clones appeared around Reigen in an instant.

“Crap! He’s surrounded!” Teruki jumped down down a floor to land next to Mob and Ritsu.

With yet another casual motion Reigen easily dismissed the clones with Mob’s powers, to the amazement of the other espers.

“Wow, those were even weaker than ghosts.”

Muraki’s fear grew along with Sakurai’s and Reigen couldn’t help but smile. He was starting to understand how strong espers could become so full of themselves, having this much power was intoxicating.

He nullified all of them? Is this man some kind of monster?

“How can this be? Are you telling me someone this skilled still exists in the world?” Ishiguro spoke up again. “He must be eliminated. We can’t have him getting in the way of our world domination.”

“World domination?” Reigen scoffed. “What a terrible idea. Leave this to the adult.”

Ishiguro responded by summoning a dozen orbs in an instant. Reigen barely looked at the ones that zoomed towards him and batted them out of the way.

“These are about as deadly as soap bubbles.” He commented, ignoring the moment a few minutes prior when Reigen had almost been killed by one.

Ishiguro looked on in shock at the easy destruction of his powers.

My Black Orbs swallow up and destroy anything they touch… and this man is touching them with his bare hands…. Why? What happened to the man that was trying to run away just a moment ago?

“Looks like I’ll have to put my body on the line, too.” Ishiguro tensed and his red aura flared up. “Five Hundred Kilogram Tackle!”

Ishiguro suddenly flew at Reigen, hitting him, and sending him clear through a wall. Before he could orientate himself Ishiguro grabbed his arm and shouted something again. Reigen went soaring through the air from the force of a punch, but he felt no pain from any of Ishiguro’s attacks.

“Two Ton Guillotine!”

Despite all the shouting and impressive attack names the next hit from Ishiguro felt like a teddy bear pushing up against him- hitting the ground at high speeds shocked Reigen more than the esper. But now Ishiguro was sitting on top of him, projecting his thoughts into Reigen’s mind.

Well, at least he started speaking over his own inner dialogue.

“Hey, you still conscious? No matter how powerful an esper you are, I can’t call you an excellent esper. Because you have no desire for domination. The reason you’re so powerful and yet so unknown, is because you’re living while hiding your powers, right? But I am different! I am filled with ambition and I want to go higher and higher, and hold this world in-”

Alright, Reigen had heard enough. “Get off me. Stop talking while you’re on top of me.”

Ishiguro gasped. “What a dense energy barrier. I see, the reason my Black Orbs burst earlier was because the energy they were trying to take in was way over their limit! Inconceivable, who are y-”

“Also,” Reigen grabbed Ishiguro by his face, "when you’re speaking to someone, take off your mask!”

What Reigen had meant to do was rip the mask off of Ishiguro’s face. He did successfully get the mask off, but at the same time he conjured up some impressive strength from Mob’s powers and sent the man flying back at impossible speeds. Ishiguro went through several walls before finally coming to a stop and going limp. He quickly checked with his powers to make sure the man was still alive- he was.

“Oh, whoops.”

Reigen looked down the hole Ishiguro had left in the walls. His attention was stolen by a strange sound on his right, and when he looked he was greeted with the sight of Sakurai uselessly attacking Reigen’s barrier with the other half of his sword. So the half that Sakurai held wasn’t decursed, only the part Reigen broke off.

“Seriously, someone your age needs to quit messing around.”

“Wh-” Sakurai dropped his sword in shocked and grabbed Reigen by his suit lapel. “What could you possibly know! To hell with society! Don’t try and lecture me when you’ve only seen its good side!

“As soon as I was born, I was abandoned by my parents. I was all alone. One happy family? Mother’s cooking? I got to experience none of that as a boy. I was terribly bullied at an orphanage, and I cursed the world! If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have survived! And then I awakened to my powers… I was able to survive because of these powers! Anyone who rejects my way of living can- What? What’s with that look?”

Sakurai jumped back a step from Reigen. “Don’t look at me like that!”

“I totally understand how you feel.”

Reigen did understand the man, at least partially, but he wasn’t going to share his life’s story with someone promising to take over the world. No, Reigen was going to eviscerate this man’s entire worldview- along with the others.

H- He’s the same as me?

“When I was in grade school, maybe it was around fourth grade… I forgot to tell my parents that it was sports day at school that day, so I was the only one with nothing to eat.” Reigen spoke about his experience solemnly.

“That’s actually your fault… what are you even talking about?”

“A story about when I felt lonely as a boy.”

“Don’t compare that stupid story to mine!” Sakurai raged, and then pulled out a gun that was just as cursed as the sword. “Jugan Air Gun! It’s the ultimate weapon of destruction. Die!”

Sakurai fired and Reigen easily deflected the bullet, leaving Sakurai staring awkwardly at him for a moment before he threw the gun down. “If all else fails, I’ll put you to sleep with this cursed cologne!”

The man reached into his pockets with both his hands and pulled out a cursed bottle of cologne and quickly sprayed a curse at Reigen. Reigen’s barrier dispelled it before it could even hope to affect him.

“Are curses really the only thing you can do?” Reigen swiped the bottle from Sakurai’s shocked hands. “I’ll take that.”

A disturbance hit Reigen’s shield and he turned to see Muraki’s arm extended towards him, expect every part of the man’s arm that went past Reigen’s barrier had vanished.

“Are you still doing that crap? You use the psychic powers you’ve been blessed with for the stupidest things.” Reigen turned to fully look at him.

“What?” Muraki asked.

“You’re like a little kid with a knife. I can’t bear to watch.”

“Who do you think you are?” Muraki walked closer to Reigen, and the height difference between them was made obvious.

Not to be cowed, however, Reigen pointed out what he assumed to be a mole surrounded by some fancy paint in the center of Muraki’s forehead. “What’s that thing on your forehead?”

He was made instantly uncomfortable. “Th- that’s… it has nothing to do with you.”

Muraki broke eye contact with Reigen.

“Then what’s with these things that look like shoulder pads?” Reigen poked one.

“Those are to guard my shoulders…”

“Which means they’re just accessories and serve no purpose, right?”

Muraki’s stress levels were so high he didn’t respond to Reigen’s question, instead opting to look anywhere be where Reigen was.

“Don’t get the wrong idea. No matter what kind of special powers they may be blessed with, people are still only human. Nothing more, and nothing less. You guys haven’t realized that yet! You’re so addicted to your powers, you’ve developed tunnel vision. You’re plotting world domination when you haven’t even seen the world? Don’t make me laugh! No one’s going to follow you like that!

"First, get rid of those childish shoulder pads and grow up! You, too!” Reigen directed his words at Sakurai. “You just want to escape from society, right? If you want to make it big, you have to live in reality! That’s where you start!”

“You’re telling us to return to being commoner?” Muraki asked and Reigen sighed.

“What? No way! Don’t look at this lightly!” Reigen spoke louder, almost shouting at them. “You still don’t get it, do you? Who the hell do you think you are? You’re nothing more than a commoner! You’re just part of the masses!”

“B- But Claw is a noble-” Reigen ruthlessly cut Muraki off.

“I’m a commoner! I’m much more powerful than you, and I’m still just a commoner! So what does that make you?”

Grief over his own world shattering in front of him, along with the added stress and shock from Reigen’s speech, sent Muraki to his knees. Sakurai stood silently next to them.

He dragged them out of their illusions and into reality by force… by shattering their dreams…

“Your master’s amazing!” Reigen heard Teruki exclaim behind him.

“Yeah.” Mob responded.

Damn, I wish I had been able to see how that guy had won over all the small fries.

Mystery boy had moved again and Reigen looked up at his new vantage point.

He’s looking at me again!

“No!” Ishiguro once again cut Reigen off and he snapped his eyes to his maskless face.

“The division leader’s face… he’s that old?” Sakurai said.

“I thought that maybe he was a girl, but…” Muraki added.

“I reject your claims! ‘People are only human. Nothing more, nothing less.’ That is what you said, isn’t it?” Ishiguro demanded.

“Yeah.” He could feel murderous intent building up in Ishiguro and realized Mob’s power had left his body.

“That is incorrect. That’s far too cruel. We are special! We are superior lifeforms to the rest of humanity!”

“I’m sure you have to believe that to even go on. But sadly, society has no interest in you.”

“Society this, society, that! No group made according to your stupid yardstick is big enough for me!”

“Quit relying on those around you, old man. You’re making me sad here.”

Ishiguro started on a speech about how amazing he was or something- Reigen had stopped listening in favor of trying to quell the growing blood thirst in the man. Using his own powers to stop Ishiguro seemed like it was becoming a necessity, especially if Ishiguro got out an attack first, Reigen just needed to figure out how to make it look like it wasn’t him.

Ishiguro’s getting pissed. I might need to stop him myself if no one else does.

Ah, the kid, he was standing almost next to Ishiguro, unnoticed by everyone else in the room.

Why does he keep looking at me? Is he gonna call me out or not?

Reigen took his attention off the kid and back to Ishiguro. He dug into the man’s thoughts and emotions- pushing past his feelings about this situation, past his underlying thoughts about the people around him, past the niggling doubts in his mind stemming from what Reigen said, past repressed emotions and memories, and into the center(for lack of a better word) of Ishiguro’s mind. There sat something wholly unique to beings with supernatural power- the source of their abilities.

An esper’s abilities were powered by their emotions, it was why empaths were considered so dangerous, because one powerful enough could do something as simple as disconnect the attachment between an esper’s emotions and an esper’s powers- effectively stopping them from being able to use them.

And that is what Reigen did, rendering the power-crazed man completely useless without him even knowing.

“No, having psychic powers doesn’t make you popular at all.” Mob’s voice was the first thing Reigen heard when he came back to his senses.

“And that’s all there is to it. You’ll never be popular. Give it up.” That seemed like good backup for whatever Mob was responding to.

“I’m going to erase you all….” Ishiguro’s murderous intent reached its peak. “Erase this whole building and start over!”

Ishiguro threw his arms out like he was going to summon orbs but Reigen’s aura smothered him an instant before.

“What?” Ishiguro screeched as he tried once again to summon his orbs. “My powers!”

“Performance problems, maybe?” Reigen asked.

Is this Reigen’s power!?

Oh- I remember where I know this guy from!

Reigen poked the mystery kid’s consciousness.

You were gearing up to attack Ishiguro five seconds ago- are you gonna leave us hanging?

“I’ll- just-” Ishiguro faced Reigen like he was going to physically attack him.

The kid appeared and punched Ishiguro in the face immediately. “You just don’t know when to give up.”

“That’s-” Ritsu started.

Name’s Sho, I didn’t know you were a telepath as well.

How do you know me?

Claw headhunted you a few years back- tell me if any of this sounds unfamiliar. Five guys were sent for you. Despite the fact that recruiters are trained to not take no for an answer the first two came back with veritable ‘No’s from you. Then the third and fourth ones came back claiming you weren’t even an esper at all, the fourth guy said he didn’t even need to talk to you to know you didn’t have a scrap of psychic power. The fifth guy was one of the best guys we had and he came back terrified of you, he wouldn’t tell us what happened, but he begged Pops to stop sending recruiters after you lest we angered you.

Oh yeah, I remember him, I just made him a bit scared of me, anything else his mind filled in for him. But, ‘Pops’, are you a son of a higher up?

You could say that.

You don’t hold him in very high regard.

You could also say that.

I feel like I don’t have to tell you this, I can sense you have some sort of plan, but I will- don’t tell your father about me.

I wouldn’t dare, you’re much too powerful of an enemy for Pops to have for me to send him against you prematurely.

Master, are you doing that?

A direct thought from Mob distracted him from his conversation from the Sho kid.

Yeah, pretty cool right? Just learned how to do it.

Yeah.

“Old man…” Sho attacked Ishiguro with a single punch, rendering him unconscious.. “You’re no longer needed.”

“And as for you…” Sho pointed at Mob. “I’m disappointed in you. You coward.”

Not wanting to fight isn’t cowardice.

“The Seventh Division will be dissolved.” He continued as if Reigen hadn’t addressed him. “I was to inspect the place and take back anyone who seemed useful back to HQ…”

Reigen scoffed and Sho shot him a glare.

“What are you talking about, weren’t you just a trainee?” One of the Scars asked.

“Sadly, there wasn’t anyone worth my time. At least on the inside.” His eyes glanced past Reigen and the others before landing on Ritsu. “Well, see cya!”

Sho vanished and yet Reigen followed him with his eyes.

“Reigen-” Ritsu immediately started to say something before stopping at the sound of laughter.

It was Matsuo, staring down at his jar. “The evil spirits have been whittled down to one… The poison jar had been completed!”

“Matsuo, there’s nothing left for us to do.” Muraki stated.

“Come out, my ultimate spirit! Marshmallow!”

The jar broke violently and smoke plumed from it dramatically. From that smoke Dimple appeared, who knocked the man unconscious with a single hit.

“Dimple!” Mob exclaimed.

“Dimple.” Reigen stated less enthusiastically.

When he couldn’t see hide nor tail of Dimple he’d sort of hoped the manipulative little spirit had been exorcised but alas, Reigen can’t win everything.

“I was finally able to get out.” Dimple burped.

“All right!” He zoomed in front of them. “Now that I’ve regained some of my strength, I can help out a hundredfold!”

“It’s already done.” Mob informed him.

“Huh? You mean the climax happened without me?” He sounded disappointed.

“Yeah.”

“Oh…”

“Maybe next time, Dimple.” Reigen added.

Teruki scoffed. “Mr. Reigen, you wouldn’t need any of us in a ‘next time’.”

“That might be true.” Reigen shrugged noncommittally. “But let’s get out of here.”

Reigen waved at every esper near them to follow him as he started walking out. Ritsu’s eyes tracked him sharply when he passed.

Ritsu, I know you have questions, but not in front of the others.

Ritsu visibly jumped at Reigen’s voice and openly gaped at him.

“What do you mean- Reigen isn’t-” Dimple started.

“Oh, you missed the show, Dimple.” Reigen said slyly.

“Show? Did Mob not wipe the floor with everyone?”

“No! It was Mr. Reigen that did that- he’s extremely powerful- or was, I can’t seem to see his aura anymore.” Teruki responded.

“Anymore!?” Dimple asked.

“Yeah, Teruki, didn’t you know, I can hide my aura.”

“Bullshit!” Dimple swore.

“Watch your language!” Reigen demanded.

Why let me see your aura?

I trust you- you’re Mob’s little brother, after all.

Chapter Text

Reigen was very displeased to find Dimple in his office the next afternoon instead of Mob. He was in a visible mode so Reigen leered at him from above his newspaper.

“So, what brings you here?”

“I’m only here because Shigeo asked me to come. He passed out from anemia and can’t help with exorcising spirits.”

So that was a lie- Mob knew well enough that Reigen was perfectly capable of handling spirits himself.

Dimple pointed at Reigen almost accusingly. “Actually, do you even need Shigeo anymore? You awakened to psychic powers, didn’t you?”

So, that’s what he wanted.

“Don’t be stupid.” Reigen scoffed. “Those were Mob’s powers, and no matter how you try to deny it- I’ve been psychic the entire time. Nothing’s changed.”

Well, something had changed, and it was that Reigen’s range had increased substantially, his telepathy now naturally had a range of half a block, and Reigen could extend it to three blocks. His empathy’s maximum range had extended to the point that if Reigen stood on the south side of Seasoning City he could feel someone twenty-five miles north of the north side. Reigen learned pretty quickly how to force the range of his telepathy down to something mangeable. He assumed that it was a side effect of Mob transferring his powers.

“So, you’re just a plain ol’ con artist again.”

“You’re quite a rude spirit.” An idea came to Reigen’s mind.

“All right. Then you help me out.” He pointed his rolled up newspaper at the spirit.

“Huh?” Dimple moved away from the business end of Reigen’s newspaper. “Why do I have to help you?”

“That’s why he had you come over, isn’t it?” Reigen played along with Dimple’s earlier reasoning for being present. “If he was just calling in, a phone call would have sufficed.”

“Seriously? Who do you guys think I am?”

“What? Aren’t you Mob’s errand boy?”

“I’m a high-level evil spirit!” Dimple exclaimed.

“Yeah, yeah.” Reigen waved dismissively.

Just then a familiar presence walked into the office. “Oi, Ritsu!”

“Hey Reigen- and Dimple?”

“Yo.” Dimple waved at Ritsu.

“Hey, Dimple was just leaving, he came to tell me that Mob wasn’t coming to work today.”

Hey, asshole, that’s not what was gonna happen five seconds ago.

“Oh yeah, that’s what I was going to mention as well.” Ritsu hovered uncomfortably at his place in front of the door.

“If you have something else you want to say come on in.” Reigen motioned for him to come in with one hand and waved another in Dimple’s face.

“What the hell are you doing?” He demanded.

“I said that you were just leaving, right?” Reigen plastered on a purposefully fake-looking smile aimed at Dimple. “Besides, Ritsu is here so you have no lame excuse for staying. Go see if Mob is alright, or whatever.”

Ritsu chimed in. “You can also tell Mob that I came here.”

Dimple glanced between them and then sighed. “Fine.”

Both of them watched Dimple fly through the wall and then turned to look at each other.

“Okay.” Ritsu dropped his bag on the chair close to him. “Spill.”

Reigen, slightly taken aback by the sudden mood change. Despite being shorter than Reigen by a few inches Ritsu was practically staring down at him. His stern face and confident posture, arms crossed and head up, gave Reigen the impression he was in an interview. It was slightly reminiscent of the first time he met Ritsu; and it seemed he was being tested by Ritsu again. This time, three years later, Ritsu’s intelligence and limited life experience had grown, he also had experience with more espers.

“Where do you want me to start?” Reigen asked simply.

Ritsu didn’t hesitate to respond. “What did you do to Ishiguro at the end there?”

“I stopped him from being able to use his powers.”

“How did you do it and why didn’t you do it before directly after you punched them?”

“I have to admit- that was the first time I had ever done, I didn’t even know it was truly possible before that.”

“And you did it with your telepathy?”

Reigen shook his head. “No, I’m also an empath- I only developed true telepathy over a week ago.”

“Can you read my thoughts right now?”

“Well, yes, but my range is so massive right now, any thoughts you don’t ‘aim’ at me for lack of a better word are getting lost in the clamour of the thoughts of every person in this building and the one next to it.”

“Okay.” Ritsu untensed almost imperceptibly. “You just said you’re an empath?”

“Yeah, I’ve been an empath for as long as I can remember- it’s also how I hide my aura.”

“How do you do it?”

“Well,” Reigen shrugged, “the human mind is a funny thing, Ritsu, have you heard the phrase ‘Seeing is believing’?”

“I have.” He confirmed.

“Well, turns out it if you believe something isn’t real intensely enough, you won’t see it all. I just use that quirk of the brain.”

“But Dimple can’t see your aura either? He’s a spirit.”

“Yeah, I think that’s strange as well, but it seems a spirit’s mind works the same way as a human’s.”

Ritsu paused for a moment while he thought of his next question. “Does my brother know you can read his thoughts?”

“Yes, of course, I think he’s gotten used to communicating with me through them as well.”

“Are- are his thoughts the only ones you hear?”

Reigen perked up and leaned forward from his relaxed position on his chair. “You’re talking about the incident three years ago that sent Mob to my office?”

“Yeah- so there is something in brother that did that! I knew he wouldn’t do something like what happened!”

“Now- Ritsu.” Reigen levelled the boy with an stern look. “I don’t want to share much of this without Mob’s permission- but Mob is the only person inside his own head. There may be more than one ‘Mob’, but both of them are equally him.”

“What?” Ritsu’s face dropped from the enthusiasm he had a second ago.

“The version of Shigeo that hurt you didn’t do so out of malice- it must have been a stressful situation for him- pushed into the forefront of Mob’s mind in a distressing ordeal. He lashed out on accident, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.”

“So you’re saying you’re not going to get rid of it?”

“What?” Reigen exclaimed. “No! They need to learn how to coexist- trying to push one or the other out may end in catastrophe- they’re equal parts Mob and if he was suddenly missing either of them he’d never be the same!”

He sighed. “Ritsu, have you ever talked with your brother about what happened that day?”

“No.” Ritsu looked down at Reigen’s desk.

“But?” Reigen implored.

“Okay- I may have mentioned it to him before I was captured by Claw, I said some unfortunate things.”

“You finally admitted that you had been scared of him.” Reigen did not leave any room for debate.

“I thought you said you couldn’t hear my thoughts!” Ritsu exclaimed.

“I can’t.” He grinned. “My empathy isn’t as easy to turn off- I can feel all this conflict coming off of you, Ritsu, it’s hard to ignore.”

Ritsu crossed his arms, annoyed.

“Can you tell me what led you to being kidnapped? You only started developing powers a couple days ago, there’s no way Claw recruiters could have known you were an esper.”

“Oh, uh, yeah.” Ritsu moved his backpack off the chair and sat down in it.

He immediately started going through the events that led up to Reigen finding him, Mob, and Teruki captured by Claw, starting, interestingly enough, when Ritsu got home the day Reigen ran into him. As the story went on Reigen tried not to react outwardly to what Ritsu was saying- lest he accidentally manipulate what Ritsu said, and only nodded in order to encourage him to continue.

“Wow.” Reigen leaned back in his chair while he absorbed Ritsu’s story.

“Actually, Reigen, if you don’t mind me asking, why do you hide your aura?”

“Well… I’ve been doing it since before I even met Mob. Now that you know of Claw I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you that there’s other organizations of espers out there. When I started my business I didn’t hide the fact that I was an empath, unfortunately, what I didn’t know then is that empathy is a very rare and very powerful ability. A few organizations, Claw included, kept attempting to recruit me, and in one case, tried to kill me, so I figured out how to hide my aura for that reason. They all left me alone after that, but one in particular is still trying to find me- and that’s why it’s vital that you don’t mention my powers to anyone. Got it?”

“Of course.” Ritsu nodded. “Though, I might know of an ‘organization’ interested in you?”

“What?” Reigen demanded.

“Have you heard of the ‘Telepathy Club’?” He had an absolute shit-eating grin on his face.

Reigen groaned. “I have. If you tell the club leader there that I’m a telepath I’ll never forgive you.”

Ritsu cracked a genuine smile at that. “I’ll… have to keep that in mind.”

“Was that a pun!?” He laughed. “I knew you could crack some jokes.”

“Yeah, Reigen, I think I trust you.”

“Oh, thank goodness.” Reigen wiped away a bead of sweat on his forehead. “Now, I have a question for you- where is the ‘Awakening Lab’ that you mentioned before?”

~~~

Kenji Mitsuura was definitely an eccentric man, that much would have been clear to Reigen even if the man hadn’t set up a research center made specifically to learn more about ESP. At least, he seemed to actually care for the esper kids he was ‘teaching’, it took a hell of a lot of convincing for Reigen to make his way into the building.

Mitsuura eventually led him to the floor the kids trained at and was about to announce Reigen’s presence when Teruki looked up and noticed them and promptly exclaimed.

“Mr. Reigen!”

That prompted the other esper kids, all of whom were at the Claw base, to look up and see him and a chorus of ‘hello’s followed. Reigen waved back at them.

“Ah, so you are already acquainted.” Mitsuura walked them out of the elevator and into the main room.

“Just like I said.” Reigen beamed. “I actually came here to talk with Teruki over there.”

“Oh, me?” He stood up from the couch and approached them.

“Yes, privately, though, I was impressed by your skills at the Claw base and had some questions for you.”

“Of course, there’s some rooms on this level we can talk in.” Teruki indicated a room to their right surrounded by glass walls.

“Do you mind, Mitsuura?” Reigen asked. “I can properly introduce myself to the other espers later.”

“Sure, if you need me I’ll be on the second floor.” Mitsuura turned to leave the room.

Teruki lead Reigen into the small glass-walled conference room and took a seat. Reigen sat across from him and immediately cleared his throat.

“Why did you decide to train the other espers here?”

“I saw a drive in them all to improve- and the potential. I think I can learn from them as well, though.”

“Okay.” Reigen nodded in approval. “However, the real reason I came here, is to ask you how you got involved in that entire Claw debacle.”

“Oh?”

“I’ve gotten Mob’s and Ritsu’s sides of the story, and I’d like yours.”

“I’ll tell you, but I’d also like to know your side of the story, if you tell me.”

“Maybe.” Reigen shrugged noncommittally. “So, go ahead, how’d you get into Claw?”

Like when he listening to Ritsu’s side Reigen didn’t add any additional comments or question, and instead listened to everything Teruki said. He even learned a little bit more about him, like how Claw had went after him years before, and about how he lived alone. However, he couldn’t help but notice that he started his story at meeting Ritsu, and merely said that he had ‘run into Kageyama before’. That was the first thing he mentioned once Teruki finished his story.

“So you mentioned that you had met Mob before the entire Claw ordeal, how did you two meet?”

Teruki looked into Reigen’s eyes, searching for something and finding it. “Something tells me you already know.”

Reigen met his eyes and Teruki cast his own downwards at the table. He could feel the kid’s regret and shame.

“I do, but I want to hear your perspective.”

As Teruki spoke about his encounter with Mob Reigen could feel the kid’s fear mounting, mostly at fear of retribution from Reigen. He assumed that Reigen was there for some sort of revenge for the treatment of his student. Teruki couldn’t be further from the truth. When the kid started talking about ‘Shigeo’ his fear moved to focus on him instead of Reigen.

Teruki finished his retelling with a lengthy spiel about how he’s changed, and Reigen could tell it was true. Mob had managed to completely change this boy who had hurt him so badly.

“Thank you, Teruki, for being honest, but I have some questions for you.”

“Yes, Mr. Reigen?” He looked up from where his eyes had stayed on the table.

“When Mob attacked you after falling unconscious, did you sense any kind of murderous intent from him?”

“No!” The very emotional response startled Reigen. “Sorry- no, I didn’t sense anything like that, it really felt like self-defense. After he, uh, ripped all my clothes off he moved me as far away from him as possible. Like he still didn’t want to fight but the massive well of power in him had to be used before he could let it go.”

“Alright, that’s all I needed from you about that, but I have to ask one more thing.

“Go ahead.”

“What was with the wig?”

“Oh no.” Teruki blushed furiously in embarrassment. “I was overcompensating for the shame I felt after losing to Kageyama.”

“It was an… interesting fashion choice, I’m glad Sakurai cut it down.”

“Speaking of Sakurai… do you mind if I ask you something?”

“Depends on what it is.”

“Well, a few things, I want to know how you survived Sakurai’s attack, and also how you hide your aura- that could be extremely useful.”

“I survived the attack because I was able to put a barrier right as he attacked me, it’s why my clothes were ripped but I was unharmed.”

“Oh, I guess that makes a lot of sense. And- your aura?”

“That’s a personal technique.” Reigen waved the air as if to wave away the question. “It’s an application of one of my powers, I won’t be able to teach you it.”

“Ah, I see.” Teruki’s shoulders dropped a little. “One last thing.”

“Yes?”

“How did you convince all the Claw grunts that you were the boss of Claw?”

“Well, I’ve been gifted with a silver tongue, Teruki, and they did half of it themselves. If you walk around confidently enough and say the right things, people will hang onto your every word. I never even said I was their boss, they assumed it themselves, because, well, sometimes the less that’s said the more people’s imaginations can run wild.” Reigen shrugged casually.

“Wow, that’s amazing!”

“Enough of this, though, why don’t I fully meet the other espers here for the first time!”

“Yeah, we can do that, they told me all about how you got them out at Claw.” Teruki stood up and opened the door behind him.

“I bet they did.” Reigen smiled as he stood up and followed the kid out.

Every pair of eyes in the room shot to Reigen and Teruki when they left the room.

“Alright, Mr. Reigen, these are the Awakening Lab espers! May I present to you: Go Asahi, Takeshi Hoshino, Rei Kurosaki, and Daichi and Kaito Shiratori.” Teruki pointed at all of them in turn.

“Nice to formally meet all of you!” Reigen waved at them. “What are you guys’ powers?”

“My brother and I are telepaths, we can talk to each other in our minds.” Daichi said.

“Interesting.” Reigen nodded and glanced between the two.

Their auras were extremely similar and while Reigen was studying them he noticed their auras connecting a line between them, signalling their communication.

“I’m telekinetic.” Takeshi said. “But, I’m nowhere near as powerful as you and Hanazawa.”

“Of course, power comes with time and practice.” Reigen reassured the boy with a smile.

“I can summon fire from my fingertips!” Go exclaimed. “Ignite!”

He watched curiously as Go held a finger out to demonstrate and nothing happen for a few moments before a flame appeared at stayed for a good ten seconds.

“Hey! Good job Go, your endurance is increasing.” Teruki congratulated him.

“Thanks Hanazawa!”

“I guess I’m next- I’m Rei, and I’m clairvoyant.”

“I’ve never meant a clairvoyant esper before!” Reigen exclaimed.

“Yeah, apparently it’s pretty rare.”

“I’m sure once you practice more you can become quite formidable.”

“Thank you, Mr. Reigen!”

“Well,” Reigen turned towards Teruki. “This is an interesting group of espers Mitsuura has rounded up, huh?”

“It sure is.” He agreed.

“Teruki, I have to get back to my office now, but,” Reigen produced a business card and handed it to him. “If you ever need my help with something psychic or want to stop by to visit Mob or something, don’t hesitate.”

“I won’t, thank you Mr. Reigen!”

“It was my pleasure, Teruki.”

Chapter Text

“There’s no doubt about it. What I saw was not of this world.” The client looked up at Reigen from his tea. “I knew there was something wrong with this property, since I bought it dirt cheap. I’ve never been the type to worry about stuff like that. But fields are at their most vulnerable in the days leading up to a harvest. So I got worried one night, went to check on things, and that’s when I saw it. Something was wiggling back and forth, dancing on my fields! The next morning, I found all of my crops withered away. I only started farming to kill time, but this has been going on for three years. It’s starting to creep me out now. My next harvest is coming up, so that’s why I gave you a call. I figured I needed the help of someone with psychic powers.”

“A wise decision, sir.” Reigen gave the man a reassuring smile.

“But, you see…” He awkwardly scratched the back of his head. “Next year, my idiot son will be starting high school, so- as for your fees…”

“You don’t think you can pay?”

“It would depend on how much, but…”

“Well, I am running a business here,” There was something clearly wrong with the man’s fields- some spirit had been there frequently and recently- and Reigen wasn’t one to shy away from someone in need. “So I’m going to need some form of compensation.”

“Right…” The client sighed.

“Let’s see. If I’m able to exorcise whatever spirit is haunting your fields…” Well, the man said farming was only a hobby, right? “I’ll take 30 percent of your upcoming harvest!”

He’s okay with veggies as payment?

Reigen jumped slightly at the sound of the man’s thoughts- he was the only one in range of Reigen’s telepathy out in the farm land. His empathy reached out to the edges of the nearest towns, but the client’s emotions- relief, mostly- out shined every other human and animal in the vicinity.

It was nice being out here in the middle of nowhere where everything was quiet. Maybe he could retire eventually and become a farmer. On the other hand, there wasn’t internet out here and Reigen didn’t know if he could survive without it.

He shook his own thoughts out of the way and began wandering into the field. A spirit was haunting these fields, there was no doubt about; it wasn’t currently present but it had left a psychic imprint on the area. The spirit would probably be back by nightfall, in order to destroy the man’s harvest.

For now, though, Reigen dedicated himself to searching for why the spirit could be possessing this specific field. As most spirits are want to do, it was probably possessing this place because whoever the spirit used to be had died or been buried in this field. Reigen hoped that wasn’t entirely the case because it would be rough to have to explain to the client that he had a corpse in his field.

No matter what the reason was, he’d have to wait until the spirit returned.

~~~

Several hours later dusk finally arrived, and with it came the spirit. As per usual Reigen didn’t let it sense that he was an esper, but it seemed to catalog him as some sort of threat anyways. The spirit took possession of a nearby scarecrow and Reigen confronted it after talking with the client and telling him to stay inside.

“Hello Mr. Spirit- why are you destroying this man’s harvest?”

“Why do you think- dumbass?” Its voice came from the scarecrow.

“No-” Reigen had gathered what it wanted from its thoughts. “Why this field specifically?”

“Huh?”

The spirit’s next thoughts weren’t exactly words, but a series of memories in the form of images and sounds. Reigen very quickly learned that the spirit was a farmer from many, many of years ago that was killed by his eldest son and buried secretly on this farm. The man became an evil spirit that feeds off plants from this field, ruining his eldest son’s harvests for the rest of his life. However, the spirit stayed after his son moved on to other things, gathering its strength from crops poor farmers tried to raise.

“I think it’s time to move on.” Reigen shrugged.

The plants in the field around him shifted under the power of the spirit and Reigen forced it to pass on before anything serious happened.

Job well done, Reigen sauntered back into the client’s house. He assured the man that the spirit was gone and that his harvest would be fine that year. Though, while he was waiting for the spirit to appear he had an idea, and made an addendum to his agreement with the client. Instead of 30% of the man’s harvest, Reigen said he’d take just 25% along with a sample of seeds of every plant the man planted.

~~~

Mob walked into work the next day while Reigen was planting some cherry tomato seeds.

“Master, what are you doing?” He immediately asked.

“Planting!” Reigen exclaimed. “You missed all the fun yesterday- I visited a client who was having trouble with his farm’s harvest. He paid with a bunch of vegetables and seeds so I decided to start doing a bit of farming on my own!”

“Oh.”

“Actually, Mob, I don’t really like broccoli so you can have some of the broccoli seeds.” Reigen reached into his new box of gardening supplies and tossed what was left of his broccoli seeds at Mob.

The seeds hit Mob in the chest and fell into his hands.

“Think of it as a little raise.”

“Thank you, Master!” Mob quickly put them in his uniform’s breast pocket.

~~~

Mob was very happy when he came into work a few days later. Okay, that in and of itself was not unusual, but he was happy in a way that Reigen could see it. Usually Mob’s emotions were locked up within his mind, shoveled away for ‘Shigeo’ to muffle and no outward indication of emotion was made on Mob’s part. But, during this exorcism he was smiling to himself- and even blushing. Shigeo, for the first time since Reigen met Mob, was feeling conflicting emotions, he wasn’t quite as cheerful and seemed even resentful.

“Hey, Mob. You seem more cheerful than usual today.” If only he could get Mob to open up without reading his mind.

“A- am I? I can’t really tell myself.”

“Did you get a girlfriend?”

It was meant to be a harmless jab at Mob, but the boy reacted instantly; shock and embarrassment surged through him. He quickly finished exorcising the spirit.

“I- I’m done with the exorcism, so I’m going home now.” Mob scurried past Reigen and in his hurry projected his thoughts into Reigen’s

Don’t let him read your mind.

“Wait- did you-” Reigen turned to watch Mob pass him in time to see Mob run into the door frame.

He quickly recovered and almost sprinted out. “Bye.”

“Huh?” Was all Reigen could say as he felt Mob’s presence quickly beat it.

~~~

When Mob walked into the office two days later he was back to his usual level of visible emotions. His blank face stared back at Reigen while he took his seat.

“Uh, Mob.” Reigen started and Mob’s head shot up to meet Reigen’s eyes. “About what happened during the exorcism a couple days ago- that was just meant to be a joke.”

“Oh, uh, it’s fine, Master, she broke up with me anyways.”

“What?”

“Yeah, turned out she only asked me out as a prank.”

“Oh, Mob, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, I think we’re friends now. I even showed her my powers.”

“You did!” Reigen exclaimed.

Mob had always been so constipated over his powers after that incident with Tsubomi years ago- it seemed almost like a miracle that the kid had opened up again. Reigen couldn’t help but be happy that Mob had done something like that for someone he barely knew.

“Yeah.”

“Good, I’m glad you’re making progress like that, I actually want to go inside your mind again, and talk to the other you.”

Dimple wasn't around for once so he had the perfect chance to talk.

“Why?” Mob asked curiously.

“I want to know what he thinks of this progress.” Reigen felt kinda bad about lying to Mob via a lie of omission, but it might be necessary here.

“That’s… fine. I’ll tell you if anyone comes in.”

“Thanks Mob.”

Without further fanfare Reigen closed his eyes and leaned back into his chair. He quickly dived into the depths of Mob’s mind and greeted Shigeo.

Hey.

So, you didn’t approve of Mob’s temporary girlfriend?

No.

That’s why your emotions were separate from Mob’s for once, right?

Yes, it doesn’t happen… often.

Why is Mob getting a girlfriend one of those rare situations?

She wasn’t Tsubomi.

Your original crush?

My only crush.

Were you angry at Mob for dating someone else?

Sort of…

Can you explain?

I… like Tsubomi, but Mob doesn’t naturally, I suppose. I need to get him to like Tsubomi as well, if he’s dating someone else he’s not focusing on Tsubomi.

Oh, so you guys have some separation then, you like Tsubomi, but Mob doesn’t, why is that?

I’m… not sure why that is, actually, it’s always been this way.

Did you try and sabotage Mob’s relationship with this girl at all?

No! Who do you take me for?

I just needed to ask, if Mob was unhappy you’d be unhappy as well and that’d be unhealthy for the both of you. You need to work alongside Mob-

He won’t work with me- though. He’s scared of me.

I can speak with him, Shigeo, I’m starting to understand how you came to be.

Do you?

Yeah-

Master.

Reigen opened his eyes to see a new client walk into the room.

We can continue this conversation later.

Noted.

Reigen resisted the urge to roll his eyes at Shigeo, it seemed that the manifestation of Mob’s psychic powers was also Mob’s rebellious teenager side.

He quickly pushed aside his conversation with Shigeo and greeted the client with a smooth smile.

~~~

The last client of the day arrived half an hour before close- long after Mob left- and she immediately set off alarms in Reigen’s brain. The woman exuded an uncomfortable air- not an aura, she wasn’t psychic- she just had something about herself that seemed off.

Reigen pretended to not notice her come in over his laptop’s screen. She took advantage of that by giving him a sharp studying look. She slightly adjusted the fashion scarf around her neck before clearing her throat.

Reigen looked up in feigned shock. “Oh- hello- I didn’t see you there.”

The woman smiled back at him and he entire body language had changed from before. Whereas before she stood up with perfect posture she now slouched over slightly and her smile seemed tight.

“How may I help you?”

“Are you the psychic? Arataka Reigen?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

The woman was pleased about that answer and Reigen had the sinking feeling he shouldn’t have confirmed that.

“I was recommended by a friend- she said you had a student?”

This was getting worse by the second but he kept his salesman’s smile. “There is a kid that stops by sometimes, he wasn’t around today.”

Her eye twitched almost imperceptibly and Reigen made the choice to focus on her thoughts.

Why would he lie to me about that?

With a start Reigen realized that this woman had to be from some organization- he was being scouted again for the first time in years.

Oh well, it doesn’t really matter, the camera should have gotten everything it needed.

Following that thought she shifted her scarf around again.

“But never mind the kid, I can sense the spirit weighing down your shoulders.”

Ah, so he’s just a conman, looking to make a buck from troubled people, it seems the camera won’t pick up anything anyways. I guess I’ll play along.

“Oh, thank you, you can see it. I’ve gone to other psychics but none have been able to alleviate my problems.” The woman played the part of a mildly distressed client well.

A plan hatched in Reigen’s mind and he immediately started talking about his massage plans with the woman. She eventually agreed to a quick spirit removing massage and within twenty minutes she was on the table.

So, it was beyond unprofessional and also illegal to go through a client’s clothing, but Reigen had to get to that camera. After she settled in he made a beeline for her scarf and ran his hands through it. He quickly felt something unusual and held it up to see; it was the camera she had been thinking about. Reigen held it up so it could see him and mouthed three words.

‘Leave me alone.’

And then Reigen crushed it between his fingers and threw away its remains before putting the woman’s scarf down and starting the massage.

Afterwards she threw back on her scarf, unaware of the missing camera and of the fact that she had been caught.

Reigen closed immediately afterwards with a sour taste in his mouth. With any luck that camera hadn’t been connected to any live feed at all, and his message along with video proof of his aura- he couldn’t imagine what else that camera could have been capturing- had been destroyed.

Chapter Text

Business was always slow in the middle of the week. This was a new low, however, the weather was good and spirits were high and real spirits were inactive, apparently. Mob had spent the last couple hours reading manga, so the kid’s thoughts were spoiling the entire thing for Reigen- not that he read manga anyway. Refreshing twitter every five seconds could only provide so much stimulation for his brain and he eventually cracked underneath the weight of his boredom when he discovered a website about urban legends.

“This is so boring, Mob.” He finally groaned out.

“Doesn’t that just mean no one’s being bothered by spirits?”

“I hate this.” He ignored Mob’s insightful comment.

“It’s really peaceful.”

“But we need food on our tables!” Reigen exclaimed. “We have to make a move.”

He stood up from his desk and began ushering Mob out.

~~~

“Urban legends?” Mob broke the silence between them on the train out of town.

“Yeah, surely you’ve discussed some with friends at some point.”

“I haven’t, actually.”

“Really? They were super popular when I was a kid. Like Hanako in the bathroom or the human-faced dog… Or, if you want something newer, the Dragger. We’ll look up sighting reports online and follow these urban legends.”

“So it’s like when we went to find the tsuchinoko?” Mob leaned forward in his seat, finally interested in Reigen’s ideas.

“Not quite. The Dragger is completely made up. She doesn’t exist.”

“Then, why…” His innocent confusion made Dimple trying to float invisibly behind him snort in disbelief.

“Places where urban legends are popular tend to have a lot of people who easily believe in the supernatural. Meaning they’re gold mines for exorcism jobs.”

“You’re so excited about this Schadenfreude search.” Mob said it as a statement Reigen had no good reply for it so he quickly deflected.

“The key to successful walk-in sales is a smile!”

“You useless fraud.” Dimple muttered.

~~~

“That table is really low.”

Reigen really didn’t need Mob’s commentary on that fact. It was pretty humiliating how low the table was; in fact, he definitely should have thought about that before he brought it with. Future excursions out into the wild would have to be planned better in the future.

“I didn’t think this through.” It’d be useless to not admit it to Mob(and Dimple, who had a bemused look on his face).

He was more focused on the harsh glances unperturbed passersby were giving them.

“Those are some cold stares…” Reigen muttered.

“Uh, we might be bothering the pedestrians.”

Thanks, Mob.

“Hey, you two.”

Reigen turned his head to see someone- a psychic, in fact- make their way towards them.

“Who said you could conduct business here?” The man demanded. “You dare set up shop here knowing that I, Shinra Banshomaru, the greatest psychic of this century, hold jurisdiction here?”

He’s the “greatest of this century,” too?

No of course not, he’s just saying that, Mob.

“What do you mean jurisdiction?” Reigen countered.

“You’re not a member of the Rising Sun Spiritual Union?” Shinra asked.

“I’m a freelancer. The name’s Reigen Arataka.”

He had never heard of this ‘union’ before; however it was presumably a union of psychics with businesses. Reigen sure as hell picked the wrong town- or the right one, if this meant business was good here.

“If you’re also running a spirit business, could you introduce me to some clients? I haven’t had too many lately.”

Shinra crossed his arms. “I’m not about to help a business rival. Begone at once!”

He emphasized his point by pointing vigorously down the road.

“I respectfully decline.” Reigen pointed an accusatory finger at him. “What authority do you have?”

“This is clearly a traffic violation.”

He’s right, Master.

“You guys have no right to bring up the law.”

“What do you mean by that?” Shinra demanded.

“Um… are you psychics?”

Both of them turned to look at the woman that interrupted them.

“Yes?” They responded in unison.

“I’d like to discuss something with you.”

Reigen stood up from his sitting position and Shinra quickly followed him. “But of course! Happy to help you out, ma’am!”

Reigen and his competitor more of less spoke at the same time, and eventually settled on meeting her together.

~~~

“So, what did you want to discuss?” Shinra started after they were served a big helping of fries.

“I’ve always been susceptible to spirits. I often attract ghosts and other strange phenomena near me. Even as we speak, there’s something next to me…”

Reigen glanced at the spirit above the woman’s shoulder. It didn’t have any malicious intent, or much intent at all, Reigen had noticed it before but didn’t make the connection that it was following her specifically.

“Ah, I see it.”

“There definitely is. I see it as well.” Shinra backed Reigen up.

“It’s the spirit of a middle-aged man.”

The woman relaxed at Mob’s comment. “Thank goodness. You’re actual psychics. When I first asked on the internet all I got was irresponsible advice.”

An idea sparked in Reigen’s mind and he whipped out a notepad and pencil before frantically writing it down.

“What are you writing?” Shinra asked.

“I can’t believe I never thought about a website. I’ll make one as soon as I’m home.”

“And lately, I’ve been feeling a really bad aura. I’ve only been able to get by thanks to having a plate of salt in my apartment.” The client continued.

“I see.” The other psychic pulled out a little manual of all things. “Textbooks confirm the effectiveness of piles of salt.”

“Indeed. Even as we speak, the sodium from this pile of french fries is mitigating the negative effects.” That one was a little white lie- the salt had to be purified- but sometimes he needed to say those to hook a client.

These fries are really good.

Reigen watched as Mob grabbed one and he suddenly noticed how much smaller the pile of fries suddenly was.

“Mob, don’t eat too many of those.”

“But then I realized that the reason this eerie feeling has gotten worse lately is because of the sudden spread of urban legends around this city. Human-Faced Dog, Dash Granny, the Red Raincoat, and of course… the Dragger. Please, eliminate all of these urban legends.”

“Come on… Who would take such an impossible request?” Shinra asked in disbelief.

“Please, leave it to me, Reigen Arataka! I’ll make sure they’re wiped off the face of this earth!”

Reigen pulled out his course list and slid it across the table to her. “So, which course would you like to go with?”

“Course?”

“I recommend this weekend combo deal…”

I can get more fries while he’s distracted.

~~~

“I must say, I was surprised you accepted a request like that. And 20,000 yen if the request works out?” Shinra asked after they left the diner.

“You’d ask for about that much, wouldn’t you?” Reigen replied.

“I generally start at 200,000. If I actually took on this request it’d be more than 500,000-”

“Well,” Reigen cut him off. “You’ll still be helping me with this.”

I’m sorry, what did he just say?

“Let’s get going. If we keep wasting time the sun’s gonna go down.” Reigen gestured with his hand for Shinra to catch up. “Um… Shinrin Martuo, was it?”

“It’s Shinra Banshomaru, and I’m not going to help you!”

“You heard her out with me, so don’t you dare run away.”

“That makes no sense.” Shinra protested.

“I’ll make sure you get your cut.” Reigen handed the man his business card. “Let’s split up and do some investigating. Let’s remember the three Cs: contact, communicate, and consult.”

He took the card with a sigh. “Oh, fine. I’ll consider this charity work and help you out.”

“Yeah, I’m counting on you.” He waved around the other man’s business card.

This was probably the only exciting thing that was going to happen in the man’s entire day.

“Hey, Dimple.” Reigen turned to look the spirit directly in the eyes.

“What?” The spirit was more than a little shocked at being addressed.

“Tail that chubster using that stealth mode of yours.”

That ‘stealth mode’ that I thought I was just in.

“Why should I?” The spirit asked. “If he runs off, just let him go.”

“Nah, he’s a super serious moron that does everything by the book. Meaning, if something were to happen to him, it’d be my fault for making him do this.”

So you’re just saving your own hide, huh?

“Please, Dimple.” Mob said. “It’d be better to avoid any accidents.”

Dimple’s hostility ceased at Mob’s words. “Oh, fine. This is give and take. You’re going to have to listen to one of my demands sometime soon, Shigeo!”

The spirit zoomed past Reigen and towards Shinra.

I can’t believe Reigen- who does he think I am!

“What’s the matter, Mob?”

“Well, it’s like what the client said. Something’s weird about this town- there might actually be something here. Can you feel it, Master?”

“Hm- there’s a lot of spirits in this town, more than you’d expect of a place this size, so there’s definitely a handful of powerful ones. They’re probably our targets right now and they’re nothing we can’t handle. Shinra is another case altogether.”

~~~

“Why did we come to an internet cafe?” Mob asked as he peered at Reigen’s screen.

“If I go around questioning kids, people might think I’m someone suspicious.” He responded as he clicked around a forum. “Wow. It’s all just a bunch of complaints. There must be something useful within the barrage of complaints…”

A thread caught his eyes. “Oh, look- a sighting report!”

~~~

“This is the human-faced dog.” Reigen looked down at a poor little Shiba with marker all over its face.

“That looks like marker. I guess the sighting report was fake.” His student sounded almost disappointed.

“No, this is definitely the human-faced dog.”

“What do you mean?” Mob asked.

“This is usually how rumors go.” He sensed no hostility from the dog so Reigen approached it. “To grade and middle school kids, this is the real deal.”

The dog began wagging its tail when Reigen reached over to pet it. Dogs were excellent, simple creatures, that were full of happiness. His moment with the dog was interrupted by some kids approaching them from behind.

“Hey, someone’s at our human-faced dog’s house.” One kid said.

“We should charge admission.” Another followed up.

“Whose dog is this?” Mob asked the kids.

“The old guy who lives here.”

“His eyes are bad, so he hasn’t noticed we scribbled on its face.”

“A- Are you his grand kids?” Mob was taken aback by their attitude.

“Huh, what gave you that idea?” The leader of this tiny pack asked incredulously.

“Hey, you little shits!” Reigen’s voice was perhaps louder than he meant it to be, in defense of this kind dog. “I’ll kick your asses the next time you try to draw on this dog’s face!”

With the help of just a bit of psychic pressure the boys turned and went scurrying away around the corner.

Mob’s judgement bored into Reigen’s mind but he dismissed the boy’s thoughts with a wave. “All in defense of this dog, let’s go inside and talk to its owner.”

~~~

After a short discussion the old man that owned the dog, named Terror, allowed them to wash his dog. Reigen, having already brought all the necessary dog-washing supplies quickly set to work.

“Here, Terror.” Reigen waved around a rawhide bone for him to chew on.

Terror quickly took it from Reigen and laid down to chew on it. He couldn’t help but smile at the feeling of the dog’s pure happiness.

“Look at him happily wag his tail with his ominous-sounding name.” He cooed. “Now then, we’ll need before and after pictures of our progress report.”

I wonder if he just likes dogs.

“Did you know it was just a prank to begin with?” Mob asked before Reigen could respond to his thoughts.

“Of course I did.” He looked away from Terror, who Reigen was currently lathering with dog shampoo. “Were you actually looking for a dog with a person’s face?”

“Nevermind, let’s see if we can get some hot water for him.”

Mob, thankful he didn’t have to respond, nodded and stood up to look for a hose.

~~~

“There, all clean.” Reigen looked up from Terror and at his student to see the kid practically soaked. “Mob, how did you get that wet?”

I shouldn’t have helped.

Ah, Mob, don’t be like that.

Reigen’s phone started ringing and he looked at it to see it was Shinra’s number. “Hey, did you get any info…”

“Reigen, it’s Dimple.” Reigen’s blood ran cold. “Long story short- the Dragger showed up and I need Shigeo here now.”

Dimple hung up and Reigen lowered the phone from his head.

“Let’s go.” Reigen said in the wake of Mob’s confusion. “The Dragger showed up.”

~~~

They arrived just in time to see Shinra almost take a nail through the eye before Mob shoved the Dragger back with his powers.

“Thanks, Dimple.”

Shinra, or rather Dimple, turned to look back at Mob in slack-jawed shock.

“Wow, so that’s the Dragger?” Reigen boldly approached her slumped over form. “Is that actually her? I need to get a photo for proof.”

He flipped open his phone to take a picture, and to his dismay realized that she wasn’t visible. “She’s not showing up on my screen.”

The evil spirit jerked upwards and raced off in a different direction in the blink of an eye.

“She ran!” Reigen exclaimed.

Dimple left Shinra’s body and floated over to where Mob was. “That’s a monster born from rumors. You can’t classify her as real or fake.”

“What do you mean?” He asked.

“The imagination of the masses, and their fear and curiosity is what gave birth to her. Her looks and her strength was all decided by humans!” Dimple sounded almost scared as he explained.

“So you’re saying their imagination became reality?”

“Th- that’s right.” Shinra had regained consciousness. “And since we know about the Dragger, we won’t be able to exorcise her.”

“Huh? Why?” Reigen asked, alarmed.

“Wasn’t there a time as a kid when you were frightened by rumors about her?”

“True… The Dragger would appear before kids heading home from school, snatching them up and dragging them into the bog… I didn’t believe in Santa Claus, but thinking about her on rainy days as I passed street corners, would give me goosebumps, too.

“That fear is still burned into our brains. We’re even trembling as we speak.”

Shinra was right, fear had settled itself within not only Reigen, but Shinra and Dimple as well. Reigen briefly focused his empathic attention on the Dragger and to his surprise she had a similar ability. She detected fear in people around her, and it seemed like she converted it to power, so the act of being present alone was powering her.

“So, I’m breaking out in a cold sweat because I’m scared deep down?” Reigen responded.

“Powers used in fear only empower its source. My spiritual powers did nothing. She grows by absorbing the powers of those who fear her, attacking her is futile.”

Reigen couldn’t help but respect how astute Shinra is to have noticed that. However, it didn’t change the fact that they were in deep water now, as it was likely Reigen couldn’t do anything either.

“Then we have no choice but to run.” Reigen looked back at Moib. “Mob, temporary retreat…”

He tried to follow through with his statement to see his foot thoroughly stuck in some mud and looked down to see they were literally in deep water, or water that was deeper than the middle of a forest had any right to be.

“Wh- What is this!?”

“I’m stuck!” Shinra exclaimed.

“This must be her doing.” Dimple rose higher and away from them.

Reigen watched in horror as the mud and water in front of them shifted and grew into a giant monster. The Dragger’s face grew from it and Reigen shouted in fear as she started swinging a scythe around.

“She’s huge!” The other psychic yelled.

The Dragger hit the ground in front of them and Reigen shut his eyes and mouth the instant before a wave of mud knocked him over. He looked up to see Mob attacking her with his powers.

“Didn’t you hear him, Mob? Your powers will be absorbed, too!”

“Wait, hang on a sec…” Dimple moved closer to get a look. “It’s actually working!”

“I see… Shigeo…” The spirit continued. “He’s detached from urban legends, fads, and other hot topics among people. He’s completely out of the loop! So he has no idea what makes the Dragger so scary!”

It only took a few more seconds for Mob to completely disintegrate what remained of the Dragger’s massive form.

“It’s a ghost that appears on rainy days, right?” Mob turned to look at them. “It’s not exactly not scary.”

“You don’t get it!” Reigen trudged over to Mob, who was notably not covered in mud like he was. “The Dragger has a grip strength of 500 kilograms! Once she grabs you, you can’t escape! And she can swim 100 meters in 20 seconds!”

“Oh,” Mob’s mood improved just lightly. “So that’s the kind of character she is.”

“What, you think she’s some kind of OC or something? Mob she was just right there in front of you!”

“Yeah and I exorcised her easily.”

Reigen paused as he took that in- Mob had just defeated a ghost that had haunted his dreams as a middle schooler. He couldn’t help but be impressed by the kid, and the fact that isolating himself from his peers had actually worked in his favor.

“Let’s just get going Mob, my suit is filthy.”

~~~

“I was injured while I was unconscious?” Shinra wondered out loud. “Anyway, thanks. That was a valuable experience. I’m going to the police now to talk to them about the flasher. Guess this is goodbye. Ow!”

“Yeah, take care.” Reigen smiled back at him.

He turned to Mob as Shinra limped away. “Well, I guess we should check out Dash Granny before we leave.”

~~~

“Looks like we got here at the perfect time.”They stood at the entrance of a long tunnel on the outskirts of town. “I feel a couple presences in there, not all ghosts, let’s check it out.”

“Okay.”

Mob and Dimple followed Reigen into the tunnel and they were over a few yards in when Reigen realized that the presence was getting closer very quickly.

“Uh, Mob, she’s coming right for us.”

“Got it.” Mob raised his hand and his aura flared around him.

Reigen pulled up his phone and got ready to take a picture as she got closer.

“Huh? One more time…”

“Yeah, Mob, I don’t think she’s a ghost.”

The boy’s aura flared once more. “Huh?”

“A ghost’s aura is much different from a human’s presence- can you not tell the difference?”

“But I swear there’s a spirit in here.”

Reigen snapped a picture from his phone and looked at it.

“Master, she’s getting closer.”

“Mob, that’s just an old lady going for a run.”

“I don’t-”

“See?” Reigen held up his phone for Mob to see and the boy leaned forward to see it.

In the next moment the granny zoomed past them and clipped Mob, who had been too absorbed in the picture, as she passed. His student fell dramatically to the ground and Reigen jerked back in shock.

“Mob, are you alright?”

The boy was giving off a confusing set of emotions for the situation, a mixture of outright despair and shame. With a start Reigen realized he was crying.

“Mob?” He asked tentatively.

“She was… so fast.” He sniffed and moved into a sitting position. “I run every day and there’s no way I could outrun her.”

“It’s not a competition, man.” Dimple offered.

“Some people are at different levels naturally, Mob, but I did get her picture. So, I guess our work here’s done.” Reigen looked down at Mob who was curiously poking at his slightly bleeding nose. “How about after we deal with that we stop and get something to eat.”

“You say that like it’s a special occasion, when you too always get food after outings.” Dimple said with an eye roll.

Reigen shot him a glare.

~~~

“It’s finally done!”

Reigen, after days of blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of confusing coding tutorials, was ready to unveil his new website to Mob, and Dimple by proxy. “Now we’ll get even more jobs!”

He spun his laptop around for Mob to see his website. He and Dimple kneeled down to see the wonderful progress he had made.

“What is this?” Dimple’s disgust was clear. “It’s shady as hell!”

“It has character!” Reigen argued.

“I like it.” Mob interjected.

“See! Mob likes it!”

“Are you really trusting the opinion of a thirteen year old here?”

“Mob is a very trustworthy and dependable thirteen year old, Dimple.”

Dimple snorted. “I could make something better and I’ve been dead longer than the internet has been around!”

Reigen turned his laptop back towards himself. “I wasn’t asking for your opinion anyways.”

Chapter Text

“Again… No matter how many times you ask. I’m not going to curse anyone for you. Please leave.” Reigen tried to keep his voice a steady indifference in front of the client.

“But you’re a psychic, right? Come on, don’t be a spoilsport. I’m begging you, curse this guy for me.” The man gestured to the photo he had laid down on Reigen’s desk.

“I’m afraid I can’t.”

“You can’t be serious!” He erupted out of his chair, knocking it backwards.

In the corner of Reigen’s eye he saw Mob jump slightly.

“I traveled really far to come see you!”

“Nobody asked you to.” Reigen countered.

“What? Is that how you talk to a customer?!” He was shouting now.

Are they going to fight?

Reigen sighed at Mob’s thoughts.

“Sir, I’m going to need you to leave.”

He felt the man’s intent before Reigen saw him start moving around the desk. Mob’s surprise and his own hesitancy at letting someone beat him up in his own office spurred Reigen to use his powers. His golden aura flowed off the man before he made it around desk.

“I implore you to stop what you’re doing.”

A small wave of silver broke up the usual golden colors of Reigen’s aura and the man stopped moving immediately.

Master?

“In fact, I think you should leave.”

The man nodded at Reigen’s words.

“Just think- are the consequences of hitting me really worth it? I mean, if I can curse people why wouldn’t I curse you after that?”

Fear spiked in the former client but he didn’t let it show, instead turning towards the door. “Sorry to bother you, sir.”

“Oh it’s no problem.” Reigen shot him a fake smile. “I won’t even call the police or anything, as long as you don’t come back here.”

“It won’t be a problem, have a good day.” With that the man left Spirits and Such, Reigen’s aura clinging to him the entire way out.

Reigen sighed in relief the instant the door closed behind him. “Man, I wish it wouldn’t come to that sometimes. I mean, I can understand hating someone so much you want to curse them…”

He turned back to Mob and the boy was staring at the door contemplatively. Before Reigen could ask him what he was thinking about, or parse through the thoughts of everyone around them to finds Mob’s, he spoke.

“Was it really okay to do that?”

Reigen blinked. “I would call that justifiable self-defense, Mob. It was that or get punched.”

“Couldn’t you have… pretended to curse that person? You lie to clients all the time.”

He winced. “No sugarcoating there, huh, Mob? Tell me, did you want me to do what he said?”

Mob paused. “Well… no.”

“And why not? I lie to make my clients happy, so what about this situation is different?”

“Oh, his happiness would have come at the expense of someone else, even if we don’t know them we’d be affecting their lives. And, if you pretended to curse them that man’s happiness would be based on the perceived misfortune of someone else. If he was satisfied he would continue to curse people and spread more evil himself. We’d be responsible for more people’s unhappiness.”

“Exactly, Mob-”

“But does that justify taking away someone’s will?”

“I thought we agreed that his will was to create harm- I mean, he still wants that person to be cursed, but he not longer wills me to be harmed. Is me temporarily forcing him to leave by changing his mind any different than if you used your powers to stop him? By physically stopping him you’d also be dispersing his will to harm me. I just, influenced him to change his ways as peacefully as I could.

“Here, Mob, as psychics we both hold a massive responsibility to not misuse our powers. That means not only when we shouldn’t, but when he should. If the leader of your Body Improvement Club stopped someone from robbing him by restraining him with his muscles, would you consider that abusing his power?”

“No, but anyone can gain muscles, psychic powers are…”

“Different? What have I said before about psychic powers?”

“They’re… not.” Mob looked down at the floor.

“Exactly, Mob, I could have been able to convince him without my powers- but there are situations where the best thing to do is defend yourself. I’d be mortified if I got into a fistfight in my own office in front of you.”

“... Admittedly that would have been cool to watch.”

“What?! Mob-” The sound of his phone ringing cut him off.

Reigen sighed in annoyance as he reached for his phone. Mob voicing an opinion like that was very unusual, though it seemed like he had had something on his mind the entire day; and that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. He’d have to talk about it more with Mob later.

“Hello, this is Spirits and Such Consultation Office.”

~~~

An hour and a half later Reigen and Mob found themselves inside the apartment of brand new client.

“At first I thought it was a stalker,” She explained while pouring tea. “So I talked to the police.”

The client set a cup down in front of Mob. “But it just didn’t seem human… It was staring at me through the window the other day!”

“The window?”

Reigen turned to look at the woman’s closed green blinds. He thrust them open to see that they were completely covered up in cardboard.

“Do you mind?” He glanced back at her and gestured to the windows.

She shook her head and Reigen set to tearing it off the windowsill. He opened the window and looked out of it and around it.

“We’re on the fifth floor, and there’s no balcony… I see.” Reigen turned back into the room and looked exactly where Dimple was hovering. “Dimple.”

How does he keep doing that!?

“What the hell do you want?” The spirit demanded as he became visible.

“Could you check things out around this window? See if there’s a rope or something dangling from the roof.”

“And why do I have to do this?” Dimple asked even as he floated out the window.

“Feel free to eat any evil spirits you see.” He looked back at his student. “Mob, do you sense anything?”

Reigen didn’t sense any spirits in the woman’s apartment, or any sign indicating that there’d been one recently. There was, however, someone with minimal psychic powers nearby.

“Yes, but it’s faint.”

Dimple returning to the window stopped Reigen from inquiring what Mob sensed. “Hey! Why the hell did you close the window, you jerk!”

Reigen ignored him. “But there definitely seems to be a stalker… What kind of interest would a ghost have in a living woman?”

“Beats me. It’s pretty rare for spirits to have any sexual desires left. It’s not like they can reproduce anymore.”

“But does love always have to come with sexual desire?” Reigen suddenly realized he was talking to a spirit that didn’t even have the mind to phase through the window Reigen had locked. “Actually, I don’t want to discuss this with you.”

“Right back at you, jerk.”

The moment after Dimple spoke the apartment started shaking violently. A cup of tea fell over and the client gasped. The lights flickered off around them.

“What do I do? It must be mad I called you here.”

Moments later the rumbling stopped and Reigen glanced around the room. “Did it settle down?”

The client looked past Reigen and her face went white. She screamed and scrambled backwards until her back hit the half wall separating her kitchen and living room.

“Outside the window!” She pointed at it. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

Reigen whipped around to see something that definitely wasn’t a ghost hovering outside the window. It felt like some sort of psychic power.

“Mob?” He asked.

“That’s… a living person.”

“So it is a stalker!” Reigen ran towards the window, hoping to spot a source. “Dammit it! He disappeared!”

Though, he had a good bet on who the stalker was, Reigen turned back to Mob to see he had noticed anything in particular. It seemed the kid had learned from last time about differentiating spirits from humans.

“He’s in the next apartment.”

“Good, Mob.” Reigen quickly walked past both of them and into the apartment he sensed the psychic in.

He hit the person’s doorbell no less than 10 times. The stalker was shocked to have been found out so easily, but nonetheless went to answer the door. He mumbled something to himself before addressing the client.

“I mean, yeah, I’m sorry I used an out of body experience to spy on you. But I seriously fell for you at first sight! I’ve never felt like this before… I didn’t know what to do. Y- Yeah… I’m serious about this. I’m going to go out with her!”

The stalker summoned his aura- bright pink and filled with 2D hearts. “Don’t get in my way! I’ll murder you!”

Reigen could only stare in shock at this obviously delusional man.

“Why, you-” The man tackled Reigen, doing nothing but pushing him back a couple feet.

“You pervy peeping tom!”

Reigen immediately got the man on the ground and twisted his arm behind him. He immediately started whining.

“Say no to violence! Let me go! I’ll call the cops, you bastard!”

“What are you talking about?” Reigen's grip loosened for a moment and the slippery man skittered out from underneath him.

“I’m sorry! I was in the wrong! I’ll never do it again! Please forgive me! My feelings for you are genuine, though! So, please… p- p- p- p-”

“You’re seriously…” Her disgust was obvious even without empathy, she was practically leaning away from him. “You’re seriously, insanely creepy!

The man gasped as if he had expected any other response, and then slumped flat to the ground like a puppet whose strings had been cut.

“Do you want to call the police?” Reigen asked.

~~~

The client watched alongside Reigen and Mob was the police handcuffed the stalker and shoved him into a police car.

“I can’t believe I was scared of that.”

“So he tried to hide his stalking tendencies behind a supernatural phenomena.” Reigen commented.

“Don’t try that at home, Shigeo.” Dimple added.

“Why?” Mob said, and it took Reigen a heart-stopping second to realize he wasn’t responding to Dimple. “Why does she feel so differently after finding out it was a human and not an evil spirit? I don’t understand.”

Reigen looked at his student thoughtly. “Non-espers view spirits very different from espers, to them a spirit is an untouchable entity that could cause them harm. Humans though, are just human, she could fight back against him and so she held no fear about him. It’s not as obvious to us as espers because we view spirits and humans to be very similar. But enough about that, let’s head back and grab some soba on the way.”

“Okay…” Mob responded.

~~~

To Reigen’s shock there was a small group of teenagers in front of his office when they returned.

“Oh, there he is!” One of the kids, wearing yellow, noticed them first.

“We were waiting for you!” Another followed up.

“Hey, you sure got him working a long part-time shift today.” Dimple commented.

“Three jobs in one day? Reigen marveled. “That website is paying off. Do you mind staying, Mob?”

“Not really.”

“Good, then, come on inside!” Reigen said while he unlocked the office.

Eventually he got the teenagers to sit down and explain why they were there.

“We want to make some memories before we graduate.” The one wearing a yellow hoodie said. “So, like, we want to go to some popular haunted place and take a spirit photo. But it’d suck if we actually ran into an evil spirit.”

Well, this wasn’t an ideal job, but Reigen wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

“When and where?”

“Right now, my dude! We’ve got a car waiting just outside!”

A single glance into the kid’s mind told Reigen that there was going to be no negotiating that. He sighed, already feeling regret about this.”

~~~

The drive took much longer than the teen had suggested, and the entire ride Reigen had half a mind to tell them to turn around. He held out though, and they finally made it to the haunted house half an hour after sunset. His feelings of regret were only getting worse.

The teens parked the car and raced out to explore the location they dragged him to. It was a lone house that was badly dilapidated, and it was certainly haunted. The sorrowful emotions of three ghosts made themselves clear to Reigen; they weren’t hostile, though, and were wary of the teenagers entering the home.

“Hey, Mob, why don’t we talk to the spirits in the house.”

“Okay…”

“Oi Reigen, what if they’re evil spirits?”

Reigen scoffed at Dimple. “They’re not and you know it- I bet they’re more scared of us than we are of them. In fact, they might be the… family that lived here, we might be able to help them pass on.”

“Not all spirits want to pass on, though, I mean look at me.”

“No thanks.”

“Hey- asshole!” Dimple floated past Mob and moved in front of Reigen. “How are you gonna talk to them, anyways? They don’t want to be seen.”

“One day, Dimple, you’re going to accept the fact that I have powers.” He gestured for Mob to follow him. “This’ll prove the place is haunted for the clients as well.”

Reigen approached the door and one of the spirits moved to the threshold.

“Hello!” He waved cheerily at the spirit.

The spirit, in its curiosity, became visible in front of him. It looked like the vague outline of a human, and very obviously not evil.

“Please leave.” The spirit, with a masculine voice, croaked.

“Oh, we’re not staying for long, sorry to bother you here; the teenagers just wanted to take a picture.”

“A picture? Here?”

“Yeah, because of you and the other two spirits this place has become known as a haunted location- they’re just sightseeing for lack of a better word.”

“And why are you here?”

“My student and I are psychics that were asked to supervise, in case any evil spirits came by.”

At that point the teenagers had finished their first round around the house and caught sight of the ghost in the doorway.

Reigen sighed at the sound of their exclamations.

“Say hello to the not evil ghost that lives here.”

“What- dude!?” Yellow Hoodie gaped at him.

“What?” Reigen responded.

“You’re an exorcist aren’t you- exorcise it!”

He scoffed. “I only exorcise evil ghosts- this one’s so friendly he might even pose for the camera!”

“Pose…” The kid’s hostile attitude deflated.

The ghost winced and Reigen mentally reassured him that he’d be fine.

“Yeah, yeah, come around! Let’s get this done quickly before he gets annoyed!”

At that the teens hurried close to him and gathered around the door frame.

“Here, I’ll take a picture.” Reigen took the cheap disposable camera from the third student and stepped a few feet back.

He barely waited for them to pose with the poor disgruntled ghost before he heeded a warning to turn the flash on and snapped the photo.

“Alright, let’s go, my student’s in middle school so he needs to get back home.”

“Oh, alright, thanks!”

“Now, about payment…” Reigen's shoulders sagged now that he was done more or less performing for the clients.

~~~

After they got their payment and Mob went back home that day Dimple stayed around. He wasn’t visible while he hovered around Reigen’s office and watched him clean up before he closed.

Eventually, the verbal silence got to Reigen and he shot Dimple a glance. The spirit became visible instantly.

“How the hell do you do that?”

“Do what?” Reigen asked innocently.

“You shouldn’t be able to see me or sense my aura when I’m like that.” Dimple said it almost as an accusation.

“I can’t.” He shrugged.

“Then how did you know I was there? A- what- seventh sense for ghosts? You did it with the ghosts at the house earlier today.”

“It’s one of my powers, I can always tell when a ghost is there.”

“You don’t…” Dimple trailed off as he looked at Reigen.

“Hm?” Reigen shot him another glance.

“You can’t have powers without an aura- and no esper ever has hidden their aura. I don’t believe it.”

“Whatever, do you show up on camera?”

“What!?”

“I want to know if I should be recording you when you finally accept that I have powers.”

“No- most ghosts don’t show up.”

“That’s a shame.” Reigen shook his head and turned away from Dimple to grab his laptop.

“You’ve got something on your back.” The spirit said completely serious.

“Hm?” Reigen tried to turn his head around to look at his back.

“Yeah, someone definitely cursed you.”

“Oh, that must have been from the first client from today. He left very displeased, I’m just shocked that he got someone to curse me so quickly.”

“Do you want me to take care of it, or can you do that with your psychic powers?”

Reigen was about to deal with it himself when he paused at looked at the spirit. “Can you remove it, Dimple? I’d owe you one.”

The spirit thought on it for a second before shrugging. “Yeah, turn around.”

~~~

The very first customer of the next day was a familiar and unexpected face: Teruki Hanazawa.

“Hello, Mr. Reigen.” Teruki looked around the office curiously as he entered.

“Hey, Teruki.” Reigen glanced at the clock on his laptop. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“Well- yes- but something happened.”

“Oh?” He gestured for the kid to come in. “Here, sit down.”

“I’m not really here for a consultation, I have a couple questions for you.” Teru eyed him as Reigen moved around the other side of the desk to sit with him.

“Okay, shoot.” He sat down to face him.

“Has anyone come in recently that’s been… strange?”

“Strange?” Reigen inquired. “A lot of unusual people come through here.”

“Uh, it’d be recently- since the incident at Claw.”

“Oh, are you looking for a woman, about yea high,” Reigen indicated with his arm. “Wearing a fancy dark blue scarf?”

Teruki gaped at him. “Yeah- that’s exactly who I was asking about. If you already know about her, you probably know who she’s working for, right?”

“No.” Reigen shook his head. “I knew she had to be working for someone monitoring me, but I didn’t want to look further into it in case I created enemies with whoever they are.”

“Oh, well, I did some searching and she works for the Japanese government.”

“That’s… what I was afraid of.” Reigen sighed. “I’m going to make some tea, want any?”

“Yes I would, thank you Mr. Reigen.” Teruki nodded politely. “Have you had run ins with the Japanese government before?”

“As soon as they recognized me as an esper four years ago I was asked to join some sort of secret esper group, but I said no.” Reigen sighed. “Thought they had left me to my own devices after that.”

“I should have, uh,” the kid cleared his throat awkwardly, “mentioned this before, but have you looked around for cameras?”

Reigen’s heart stopped for a moment. “The woman had a camera on her, but other than that, no.”

“Ah.”

He immediately thought back to his previous encounter with the woman. The only time she could have planted cameras anywhere without Reigen looking would have been when he was preparing for the massage. It wouldn’t have been time to plant more than a couple, but even one was disastrous. That would mean they had heard all his conversations yesterday- they would have proof of him controlling that aggressive client, and the knowledge that he could hide his aura from his chat with Dimple. Reigen swore internally while he stared at the brewing tea.

“I found one.”

Reigen turned around to see Teru holding a small device up with his powers.

“Kid, that was definitely not what I wanted to hear.” He shook his head. “Is that the only one?”

“I think so- what do you want me to do with it?”

“Destroy it, I’ll deal with the consequences later.”

The device instantly crumpled under Teru’s powers and the kid neatly dumped the remains into the trash.

“Sorry kid, looks like I’ve created some problems for the both of us.”

“No it’s okay, Mr. Reigen, they would have known I was a psychic before I came here, I just wanted to warn you.”

“Well, thanks, the tea’s done, too.” Reigen brought the two cups over to the small table and set one in front of Teru.

He tentatively took a sip of Reigen’s tea, and judging from his face it was deemed acceptable.

“Are they the group you’re hiding your aura from?”

Reigen looked up at Teru, slightly impressed that he had made the connection. “No, I, uh, made quite an impact in the esper community before I met Mob, and quite a few people were trying to recruit me- Claw included- but neither of these groups are the reasons I’m hiding it.”

Teruki looked up at him in silence and Reigen quickly realized the kid was trying to lead him on to saying more.

“And that’s all I’m going to say- they won’t be interested in an esper like you so you don’t need to know about any other group.”

“I don’t know how to say this without being weird- but can I give you my cellphone number? I’m asking so we I can update you if I see anyone from the government again.”

“That’s… probably a good idea, I have a feeling the government’s becoming more active again because of the incident at the Seventh Division base.” Reigen took out his own phone. “But after this, shouldn’t you be headed to school?”

“Uh- yes sir.”

He rolled his eyes. “Finish your tea first, though.”

Chapter Text

“This job we got is huge!” Reigen waved around the envelope- with an honest to god wax seal on it- that delivered said job. “I still don’t know the details, but the client is a famously wealthy fellow. We’re talking super rich. He’ll even pay for our taxi.”

“And yet we’re taking the train?” Mob pointed out as they sat down.

“Ah, we don’t want to take advantage of our client’s generosity, do we?”

“I guess not?”

“Trust me, Mob, we’ll look better if we take the train.”

“Okay.”

The rest of the train trip went by in silence, and it wasn’t until they started getting close that Reigen realized that something was very, very wrong with their destination. There wasn’t a prominent psychic aura coming from anywhere besides Mob- instead there was a massive well of emotions centered in a single location. Rage roiled at its center, barely controlled by a single spirit that felt nothing aside from impatience. Considering neither Mob nor Dimple felt anything yet it was highly probable the spirit was possessing someone, and that was the reason for this job. Reigen continued to think on it until the train stopped and Mob lightly elbowed him to alert him. He cast the kid a grateful glance and ushered them both off the train.

“So is this rich person a president of a company or something?” Mob asked as they got closer.

“He is.”

At that moment Reigen and Mob reached the top of the stairs leading up to the client’s house and were greeted with a massive mansion. Reigen gaped at it.

“How can one person own a house like this?”

The man had guards outside his house, who let Reigen and Mob in when Reigen showed them his invitation.

Reigen pushed open the massive front door and saw that he and Mob were almost late to the party- dozens of psychics, real and fake, already filled the room.

“Get a load of these shady-looking people.” He said to Mob. “They’re probably from the same field.”

“Hey, you two.” A familiar voice caught his attention.

“Mr. Shinra.” Mob greeted him.

“What the heck are you doing here?” Reigen asked.

“Right back at you.”

“Shinra.” The oldest man Reigen had ever seen approached the three of them.

“Mr. Jodo!” Shinra almost jumped out of his skin.

“Who is that man?”

“He helped me with getting rid of an evil spirit once.” He indicated to Reigen. “This is Arataka Reigen, a freelance psychic.”

“Ah, so this is the man.” Reigen felt Jodo’s dislike of him. “The one who’s been lying about getting rid of the Dragger?”

“Pleased to meet ya.” Reigen gave the man a transparently fake smile.

Instantly the room buzzed with whispers and gossip about Jodo, who, from what Reigen gathered, was a respected man in the psychic community. It seemed as if he was a real psychic as well, unlike more than half the people in the room. Though, all the attention in the room was stolen as soon as the client walked in. He was wearing a pinstripe suit and- if Reigen’s eyes didn’t deceive him- a gold necklace, making him easily distinguishable from everyone else in the room.

“I thank all of you professionals for gathering here today.” He addressed them all confidently. “I have no doubts that you are all true psychics. But whether any of you can save my daughter is a different matter entirely. I ask that you keep what you’re about to see a secret.”

The wall behind him began rising as Asagiri spoke.

“This is my daughter, Asagiri Minori, she’s fourteen years old. She is behind a one-way mirror, so she cannot see us."

The wall finished rising to reveal a girl chained down to a simple bed by her wrists and ankles.

“She’s the same age as Mob.”

Reigen’s statement was lost in the quiet sea of noise that raised up as others muttered their own comments about the situation.

“At first I didn’t believe in spirits, either.” Asagiri continued. “But no matter how many counselors or mental health professionals we saw, there was no improvement. She’s been possessed by an evil spirit- I’d like for you all to rid her of it.”

“What do you think?” Reigen quietly asked Mob.

There was no doubt about it to Reigen- the girl was possessed, and the massive well of emotions Reigen felt was centered on her.

“Right now, I’m not sensing anything.” He responded.

Reigen frowned and realized that there wasn’t any psychic power coming off of her, the ghost must be hiding itself from espers.

“She’s possessed without a doubt.”

Shinra piped up. “I also sense a faint sinister presence, and extremely nearby.”

Reigen glanced at him and saw Dimple hovering close to him, who was presumably what Shinra was sensing.

“No price is too high! I will have a special reward for whoever saves my daughter!”

That caught Reigen’s attention.

“Very well!” He pushed through the crowd to get closer to Asagiri. “Guess we’ll take care of this in a jiffy once again. What do you say, Mob? I’ll be sure to give you a bonus.”

“A bonus… that’s a first.” Mob smiled at the thought.

“You’ve been underpaid this whole time.” Dimple pointed out.

“Hold it! You’re not going to steal the march on us!” Shinra shouted.

The other espers loudly agreed with him- all arguing that they should go first.

“Everyone, please, calm down!” Asagiri pleaded. “How about we do rock-paper-scissors to decide?”

That somehow managed to placate them and Reigen smiled- that was the perfect solution.

“Who’d like to go up against me first?” He held up a fist for whoever challenged him.

~~~

“Did you cheat?” Mob whispered after Reigen slaughtered his last competitor.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Reigen smiled at his student.

“How do you cheat at rock-paper-scissors?” Dimple inquired.

He shared a sly glance with Mob, much to the spirit’s frustration. Reigen waved everyone who lost goodbye and approached the door.

“Please save my daughter.” Asagiri pleaded.

“I’ve got it.” Reigen reassured him.

He walked in and the spirit’s eyes snapped to him and Reigen immediately blocked his aura from it. So, she was without a doubt possessed by some spirit not only doing nothing but ruining her and her father’s life, but also a spirit letting loose more emotions than any one being should have. In fact, it was like an entire small town was locked inside it.

Reigen smoothly approached the spirit and sat down on the bed next to her, acting as if he didn’t believe Minori was possessed. The spirit bought it, and it was none the wiser that Reigen was a psychic.

“Do you know why you’re locked in here?” Reigen asked.

“I don’t…”

So the spirit was still pretending to be Minori. However, being this close to the spirit Reigen had no choice but to hear its thoughts- and a horrifying realization came to light. Underneath the spirit’s thoughts hundreds of murmurs from other spirits could be heard- and when Reigen focused on the well of emotions he realized it was hundreds of angry spirits with their own thoughts blending together under the power of the spirit he was talking to.

This might have be a spirit he had Mob take care of.

“There’s something wrong with Papa lately.” The spirit continued.

“With your father?” He implored.

This idiot has no idea what he’s messing with.

“Lately, he’s locked me up in here, strapped me down onto this bed, started glaring at me, and even hit me sometimes.”

Asagiri got very panicked outside.

They’re all lapping this up like the fools they are.

“He’s even brought around a bunch of adults, and had them touch all over me with their filthy, filthy hands. You can’t believe a word Dad says.”

Okay that was wrong, the spirit made a mistake in its cover story- it had said ‘Papa’ before, now it had switched it up.

“He’s been acting so darn crazy lately, like he’s possessed.”

“How so?”

“He started saying that I’ve been cursed, or that my body’s been taken over by a demon.” The spirit looked down at the floor. “I mean, I guess I was acting a little rebellious, but this is going way too far.”

This one doesn’t seem to buy it- but the others do.

“Am I gonna be trapped in here forever?” The spirit mimicked distress by covering its face. “Say, Mr. Psychic… could you undo these for me? They hurt so bad!”

“Hey, Minori.” Reigen spoke softly as if he was talking to the fourteen year old girl in front of him, and not an evil spirit. “First, do you mind if I try something?”

“Is it gonna hurt?”

Someone as powerless as you isn’t going to be able to exorcise me.

“No, of course not, you won’t feel a thing.”

“O- Okay.”

Reigen hummed and closed his eyes right before mentally poking the spirit. Minori was still in her body- just deeply repressed by the spirit and unaware of what was happening. In a normal possession scenario Reigen would simply sever the connection between the spirit and the human that was being possessed, which would kick the spirit out, but seeing as that could potentially release hundreds of spirits- if Reigen accidentally severed the connection the main spirit and the weaker ones- it was out of the question. Forcing the spirit to pass on would conjure the same effect- there was no way Reigen could exorcise that many spirits before he was killed in this tiny room- and again that left Reigen next to useless. Mob was the only person in this room capable of defeating the spirit in control along with the other ones. He opened his eyes again.

What was that I just felt- is this man a telepath?

“You know what, I’ll ask your dad.” Reigen stood up and beat a hasty retreat out the door.

If the spirit could sense Reigen’s powers that made it extremely likely that the spirit also had mental powers, which only made this entire situation worse.

Shinra greeted him as soon as he exited. “How’d it go?”

“This is an open-and-shut case.” Jodo said. “She is perfectly normal.”

“You think so too, Mr. Jodo?” One of the man’s bodyguards asked.

“What?” Asagiri demanded. “What do you mean?”

“We’re saying that there’s zero possibility that she’s possessed.” Another bodyguard said.

“No, that can’t be true!” He protested.

“It’s my turn next.” Jodo’s third bodyguard passed Asagiri and approached the door. “But I’m rather certain that Mr. Jodo is correct.”

“But- wait-”

“Are you sure you’re not the problem here?” One of the faces in the crowd had the gall to speak up. “You don’t like the change in your relationship and refuse to accept it. Instead, you’re blaming spirits and demons.”

“N- No.” Asagiri was legitimately afraid now.

Reigen decided he’d defend the man. “Is that really how you guys talk to a client? That’s a nasty one, definitely something wrong there. It didn’t feel like I was talking to a child.”

“So you believe me?” The client looked at Reigen like he was his savior.

“You just want the reward money all to yourself, don’t you?” One of the other psychics pointed at him in accusation.

“Everyone who actually fell for what she said should leave now. She’s just going to make a fool of you. The way she talked was too inconsistent, and she switched from ‘Papa’ to ‘Dad’. Also, I never introduced myself, but she called me a psychic. Meaning she heard our conversation out h-”

A loud sound like glass shattering came from behind him, followed quickly by a massive gust of wind. On instinct Reigen turned around and gaped as glass flew past him, with one shard grazing his cheek as it went past. He quickly turned back and stumbled towards the crowd. Reigen spotted Mob’s tiny form and, as the glass stopped flying, slipped into the crowd.

“Master!” Mob looked up at him and the cut on his cheek.

“I’m fine.” He insisted as he wiped a bit of blood away. “More importantly, the spirit sure showed its true colors pretty fast.”

“I guess there’s no point in continuing this charade.” Its dark red aura suddenly flared around itself and its voice changed from Minori’s. “Go ahead and try and force me out of this girl!”

Beside him Dimple’s fear spiked an incredible amount.

“I beg of you! Somebody please save my daughter! I will pay you anything if you can rid my daughter of that demon!” Asagiri begged, on his hands and knees. “Two hundred million! Five hundred million!”

The next hour was a very interesting display of a variety of non-espers and people who were barely espers trying to exorcise a very powerful spirit.

“Why didn’t you deal with the spirit, Master?” Mob asked eventually.

“I, uh, wanted to see if you could do it, Mob, this spirit is a very interesting case. You haven’t run into anything like this before so I want to see you handle it.”

Dimple scoffed loudly and was completely ignored by them both.

“Okay.”

Dimple moved in front of them, and his fear was obvious. Reigen couldn’t help but bite.

“What’s wrong, Dimple? You’re shaking like crazy.”

“Are you a chihuahua?” Mob asked him.

“There’s still time… drop this job!”

“Huh?”

“I’m sure you’ve at least heard of the name before… Mogami Keiji.”

“Nope.” Mob deadpanned.

“Mogami…” Reigen did recognize the name. “He’s one of the people I referenced when I first started in this biz. He’s been dead for ages, though.”

“We’re talking about forty years ago.”

Instantly Reigen realized what Dimple was getting at, and listened to Dimple’s tale. His blood ran cold when Dimple revealed that Mogami had been absorbing spirits- it explained what was going on inside his mind.

“You’re saying that’s Mogami?” Reigen said after Dimple finished.

“Yes! Or, what’s become of him.”

Mogami’s voice attracted Reigen’s attention and the three of them looked up to see him launch someone into a pillar. Mob’s powers gripped the poor man and stopped him before he made contact. Reigen turned his eyes back to Mogami while Mob lowered the shocked man to the ground.

“As I figured, this is all you’re worth. You’re all so weak, I have no reason to let you live! How sad.” Mogami broke the chains around his limbs and stood up and off the bed.

“Apparently, it’s my time to shine.” Jodo stood up to his full height. “It’s a shame that I’m so bad at rock-paper-scissors.”

“Are you supposed to be a famous psychic? I don’t recognize you.”

“Begone, foul spirit!” Jodo shouted before releasing an impressive amount of spiritual power at Mogami.

“I didn’t expect that from the old man.” Reigen admitted.

Suddenly Jodo stopped releasing his power and Reigen with a start realized Mogami had moved to possessing him. Even the others in the room could tell something had gone terribly wrong.

“That’s it?” Jodo turned to the crowd and Mogami’s aura surrounded him. “Hey, explain something to me: What makes this guy such a big shot?”

Jodo lifted off the ground and fear flooded across the room. Suddenly Mogami dove into the center of the crowd- right where Reigen and Mob were.

“Here he comes.” Mob said.

“Run, Shigeo!” Dimple flew out of the way.

Mogami was suddenly on top of them and Reigen reacted on instinct and kneed Jodo. The man fell unconscious immediately from Reigen’s kick and from the sheer velocity Mogami had sent his body at Reigen. Mogami exited Jodo’s body immediately.

“Sorry!”

Reigen addressed Mogami. “Hey, evil spirit. If my intuition is correct you’re actually Mogami Kei-”

Mogami’s presence materialized next to Reigen and the next thing he knew a hand was around his neck and his head was slammed against a wall.

“You know who I am?” The spirit more demanded than asked.

Reigen couldn’t respond before a wave of a single emotion hit him: anger. Through contact with Mogami the emotions of the spirits Mogami contained spilled into Reigen and something happened that he hadn’t experienced in years: His own emotions were affected by the spirits. Reigen’s lip curled in disgust even while he struggled to breathe and he saw red for a moment.

“Why the hell are you possessing that girl?” Reigen growled.

Mogami’s grip on his throat tightened and murderous intent welled up in the spirit. Reigen couldn’t feel panic underneath the pure rage pulsing through his veins, and almost resorted to using his powers on himself before he witnessed Asagiri hug Mogami from behind and say something.

“Get away.”

Asagiri was an idiot- approaching an evil spirit like that-

The subject of Mogami’s murderous intent changed suddenly and Reigen fell to the ground. He looked up just in time to see Asagiri fall to the ground and for Mogami to drop a bloody shard of glass on the ground. The rage he felt dissipated immediately and Reigen focused on getting air into his lungs.

“Fucking hell.”

The shock that hung over the room quickly devolved into fear at Reigen’s voice and chaos erupted in the room.

Mogami, having lost interest in Reigen, attacked the group of espers as they tried to escape.

Mob, Dimple, and Shinra quickly made their way over to Reigen.

“Master, are you okay?”

“Yeah, don’t worry about me- but this has gone to shit.” He struggled to his feet. “Mob, can you take care of this?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Let me go first.” Shinra asked.

Mob glanced at Reigen, who shrugged.

“Okay, Mr. Shinra.”

Shinra launched himself into battle and threw his necklace at Mogami. “Spirit Hold!”

For an impressive second Mogami was entangled by the beads that emitted Shinra’s aura before he shattered them and escaped their hold. Mogami instantly turned and leapt at Shinra with his arm out, and almost made it to the man. Mob’s power trapped Mogami into that position.

“Oh?” Mogami said aloud. “I don’t know who it is, but someone’s got some decent telekinetic powers. It’s true that humans can’t move their joints past a certain point. But what about a doll’s joints?”

A horrible cracking sound came from Minori and as Reigen watched on in horror as her fingers and body cracked and twisted in impossible ways.

“Oh, look, I can move.”

Mob released his hold on Mogami and the spirit immediately leapt at Shinra and threw him around.

“Nothing you do to this body with affect me. It’s not a solution.” The spirit sounded gleeful.

“What are you laughing about?” Mob demanded. “There is a solution. I’ll make you disappear.”

Mob unleashed a massive wave of psychic power at Minori.

“Now we’re talking!” Dimple shouted.

Once hit Mogami was partially forced out of Mogami, and his ghostly presence was so huge he loomed over the entire room. The other psychics gaped in amazement at Mob’s display of power.

“Get out of Minori- now!”

He attacked again but before the wave of power hit Mogami retreated back into Minori and instantly realized that shit had just gone to hell. Seeing Minori’s face after the smoke cleared only confirmed his suspicions- Mogami was starting to fuse with Minori’s mind.

I messed up.

“Master, the situation’s gotten worse.” Mob bowed his head.

“You’re telling me he’s stronger than you, Mob?”

“Yes.”

“Alright.” Reigen sighed. “I’ll try and take care of this.”

“You and what powers!” Dimple exclaimed.

“You done, kid?” Mogami asked, inspiring the onlookers to begin attacking again.

“Okay- Dimple- it’s time to take the wool off your eyes.” Reigen looked up at the spirit.

“What?”

“Uh, Master, are you really going to do this?”

“Yes- now Dimple, look me in the eyes.”

He was beyond confused about the situation but complied to Reigen’s demand.

“I’m psychic.” Reigen lifted a hand and snapped his fingers for the dramatics, and restored Dimple’s ability to see his aura.

The look on Dimple’s face was something Reigen was going to treasure for the rest of his life. His eyes were wide in shock and his mouth dropped open, but that only lasted for a second before his features changed to a look of betrayal and then to anger. Throughout all this the spirit sputtered incoherently.

Reigen laughed at the spirit’s plight and even Mob felt amused behind him.

“This is… unbelievable. Have you been playing me this entire time!” Dimple demanded.

“Yup!”

“Mob were you in on this!”

“I knew that Master Reigen was psychic, yes.”

“Unbelievable!” Dimple repeated. “Then what are your powers- I refuse to believe you’re telekinetic.”

“You’re right on that front- I’m an empath and a telepath.”

“A tele-” Dimple’s face fell into one of despair. “You’ve heard all my thoughts.”

“Yup!”

“Reigen- that’s the worst news I’ve gotten all year- but how are you going to fight Mogami?”

“I’m going to get into Mogami’s mind and separate him from Minori- Mob.” Reigen glanced at the student to make sure he was paying attention.

“Yes?”

“After I get him out of Minori he’s going to immediately try and find another host, I can slow him down a bit but I need you ready to exorcise him that instant.”

“Got it.”

“I’m gonna sit down for this, Mob, don’t let Mogami get to me.”

“Of course.”

Reigen, just as he said, sat down and leaned against the nearby pillar. He poked at the spirit’s mind again, but this time he wasn’t noticed by the spirit who was too occupied with beating the shit out of the other people in the room.Now that Mogami had started fusing with Minori his connection with her mind was a lot stronger. His spirit was harder to locate as well, now hiding behind the massive well of spirits he had collected while he was alive.

Ah, I knew that I had sensed a telepath earlier. You’re quite crafty if you’re able to hide your aura.

Shit.

I could use an esper with your ability.

You can’t possess me.

And why not? After everything you’ve seen me do, do you really think I’m not powerful enough to possess an esper?

No, the instant you disconnect yourself from Minori I’m going to exorcise you, and my student will clean up the spirits you leave behind.

Oh, you’re right, leaving the safety of Minori’s body would be too dangerous.

Reigen got a sinking feeling in his stomach.

But I don’t need to leave Minori’s body to defeat you.

Mogami’s power suddenly seeped deep into the recesses of Reigen’s mind and his entire body seized. He threw his eyes open in shock.

Foolish telepath- did you not notice that I possessed the old man simply from him using his powers to attack me? Did you think you were immune?

“Master?”

Reigen looked up from his own lap- which was covered by the glow of Mogami’s aura, and at Mob, who was looking at him with some concern. Behind him Mogami had stilled completely, but Reigen’s aura still surrounded him.

“Mob- change of plans, get everyone out of this building somehow, call an ambulance or something and then leave.”

“Master?” Mob asked again, alarmed.

How noble.

And then everything went black.

~~~

Reigen opened his eyes again to find himself looking directly at Mogami as he looked when he was alive. Surrounding them was a space completely and spotlessly covered in white. Though, most notably, he felt nothing else around him except for Mogami’s emotions, his thoughts were silent to Reigen.

“Welcome.” Mogami said.

Reigen exorcised him, which he was shocked to discover he could still do. However, nothing changed, Mogami was gone but his white surroundings stayed and a cursory glance at himself revealed that he was in his business suit.

“You know who I am, but I’m afraid that I’ve never heard of you.” Mogami’s voice come from every direction.

“Why would I tell you that?” Reigen countered.

“I don’t think you realize what’s happening right now. You’re within my mind- you’re powerless here.”

Mogami’s emotions vanished and suddenly Reigen felt very alone.

“Ironic, don’t you think, that I’ve trapped a telepath?”

“I don’t quite see what’s so funny- what’s the point of this?”

“Stop me if you’ve heard this before- an esper’s powers come from their emotions…” Mogami trailed off and Reigen didn’t pick the conversation back up.

“Come on, I know you’re an empath as well, you’re extremely powerful and you’ve collected many enemies simply by existing. So many that you were forced to hide your aura from everyone lest your secret got out. Espers and ghosts alike are afraid of your power, because you can control what they hold most dear to their hearts: their abilities. The biggest distinguishing feature of humans is how rich and varied their emotions are. These emotions are the reason they thrive and the reason they fight. You have a great capacity for evil.”

Reigen scoffed. “Everyone has the capacity for evil.”

“But is it true that a normal human could spread as much unhappiness as you could? As easily as you could?”

“What’s your point here?”

“I was wondering earlier, why you took on a telekinetic as a student, but I see your reasoning now. He experiences a lot of emotional turmoil because of his powers, and you can act as a conduit to aim those powers somewhere. He’s a useful tool.”

“That’s not how I perceive Mob! I don’t manipulate him with my powers!”

“No of course not, you don’t need to, but you do use your powers against clients. You turn away people you don’t like and entice people with particularly fat wallets when your precious student isn’t around. It’s a good thing he’s too young to question how you stay afloat despite your low prices. That boy is your moral compass, and you’re his.

“Reigen, what would you do if you couldn’t rely on him as much as he relies on you? Negative emotions are powerful, you must know this, they push people past limits they didn’t even know they had. You’ve been happy since you met that kid, you could forget all your hardships and look towards a new future. Do you know who you’d be without him?”

“What’s with all the damn hypotheticals, get to the point!”

“I want to show you how easily you would stoop to new lows. I want to shatter this facade of a good person you’ve built around yourself.”

Everything went black again.

~~~

In this world nothing has changed, except Shigeo Kageyama doesn’t exist, and you get a chance to see how much change you can really make in the world. Maybe you even get to be somebody.

Chapter Text

“Mob- change of plans, get everyone out of this building somehow, call an ambulance or something and then leave.”

That was the last thing Master Reigen said before Mogami’s aura flared around him and he went limp. His shoulders untensed and his head fell forwards, eyes closed, the pillar behind him kept him from falling backwards. The wonderful gold aura that had surrounded Master Reigen vanished along with Mogami’s blood red aura.

“Master?” Mob asked quietly.

“Shit.” Dimple responded.

Mob glanced up at him to see that the ghost wasn’t even paying attention to Master Reigen, and followed his gaze towards Mogami.

Mogami stood still in the center of the room, his eyes were closed but his aura still hung threateningly around him. For a moment no one in the room moved, waiting for the evil spirit’s next move.

And move he did, but only to suddenly fall to the ground, and stay as still as Master Reigen. The tension in the room broke and mutters reached Mob’s ears as the people in the room started speaking again.

Mob turned and quickly approached his teacher’s body. As he got closer a horrible thought passed through Mob’s mind:

Is he dead?


| 97% |

Mob dropped to his knees next to Master Reigen and held a hand up to his mouth. A profound relief hit him when he felt breath touch his hand.

“Shigeo.”

He looked up at Dimple’s voice to see the spirit hovering close to his face.

“You heard what he said, right?” Dimple had a look of not only concern but also pity on his face.

“I’m not leaving Master behind.” Mob gaped at Dimple, aghast at the thought.

“Shigeo,” Dimple repeated. “There’s nothing you can do.”


| 99% |

“Yes there is.” He frantically glanced between Master Reigen’s body and Dimple. “Do you know what happened- why is Master’s aura gone?”

“Hm, to me it seems like Reigen’s soul is no longer in his body.” Dimple admitted.

“What- do you mean…” Mob turned to look at Minori’s prone form.

“Yeah.” Dimple replied glumly.

“That’s… good, isn’t it? Master is fighting Mogami in his mind.”

“Well… not really, kid. If Reigen loses he’s done for, and not only will Mogami wake up and wipe the floor with the rest of us, but Reigen’s body here is free for the taking. Mogami could easily possess his empty body, and if he had access to Reigen’s powers… I don’t even want to entertain that idea.” Dimple looked away from Mob and at Master. “In fact, to ensure that doesn’t happen I could keep his body safe…”

Dimple swooped close to Master Reigen and Mob put up a barrier between them. “No, not without Master’s permission.”

“Aw, come on, Shigeo.”

“I don’t want to see you with access to Master Reigen’s powers either.” Mob responded.

“Ouch.”

“Shigeo?”

Mob looked up at Shinra’s familiar voice. He was covered in minor cuts and bruises but otherwise looked unharmed. Shinra tried to give him a reassuring smile before his eyes panned over to Master Reigen’s limp form.

“Is he-”


| 100% Resolution |

In hindsight Shinra was probably going to say ‘Is he okay?’ and not ‘Is he alive?’ but Mob, in his building despair, immediately assumed the worst. When Mob reached his emotional cap his powers exploded violently out of him. Shinra and Dimple were pushed back by the sudden wave that emanated from Mob and were forced to shield their eyes from the light. Mob’s powers passed through people and dispersed harmlessly against the walls where they hit in every area except for the door. The door and Mogami’s power keeping it closed were obliterated by Mob’s power in an instant.

The room filled with chatter from the other psychics in the room as they rushed out the door, some limping, and some carried others that were injured by Mogami out the door. Few spared a glance back at Shinra and Mob.

“Master will be fine.”

“What… happened?” Shinra asked tentatively.

Dimple responded. “Basically Mogami stole Reigen’s soul right out of his body, and now whatever conflict is transpiring is happening inside Mogami’s mind.”

Shinra jumped at what Mob assumed was the sudden appearance of Dimple.

“Dimple said that things could become dangerous again if Master loses, so you should leave, Mister Shinra.”

“I’m not going to leave you here alone, Shigeo, you’re a child.”

“I have Dimple with me, he’s an adult.” Mob reasoned.

“Actually, Shigeo, we should leave as well. I mean, if Reigen loses that would mean it was practically his dying wish that we leave.”

“I’m not leaving- and Master isn’t going to lose.” Instead of waiting for an answer Mob turned back to Master Reigen and used his powers to move him into a lying position.

Mob sat down next to him, cross legged and looked up defiantly at them. “Besides, on the off chance that Master does lose, someone should be here to fight Mogami, otherwise we’d just be leaving him to cause as much chaos as he pleased. We’d be leaving Minori here too, and who’s to say he wouldn’t hunt us down after this anyway?”

“But, Shigeo, we’ve already established that Mogami is more powerful than you- you can’t lose as well.” Dimple argued.

“I have to try.” Mob responded.

Dimple sighed and floated down to Mob’s eyes level. “I can’t believe this. We’re all going to be killed.”

The edges of Mob’s mouth raised slightly. “But you’re staying?”

“Yeah, yeah.” The spirit rolled his eyes. “I still have plans for you.”

“Mister Shinra you might want to leave, though, Mogami is very powerful.”

Shinra frowned and glanced between the two of them. After a bit of thought he sighed. “As the fight from before showed, I’d just be a hindrance if things go poorly, but please call me and let me know how things go.”

“Of course Mister Shinra.” Mob nodded in agreement.

Eventually all the psychics filtered out of the room, leaving Mob and Dimple alone with two unconscious people and a couple of Asagiri’s security guards.

They sat there for a few minutes before Dimple said anything.

“So, Reigen’s an empath, huh?”

“Yeah?” Mob responded, confused by the sudden question.

“How long has he been running an exorcism business?”

“I don’t know exactly… I’ve been working for him for three years, and I know he had Spirits and Such open for at least a year before that so around four years.”

“Four years.” Dimple shook his head.

“Is that… important?” Mob asked.

“Yeah, a little bit. I’d bet my ass he’s the reason that the Consumer came to Seasoning City.”

“The Consumer?”

“Has Reigen not- never mind of course he hasn't- don’t worry about him kid, the guy’s a ghost. He wouldn't stand a chance against you.”

“Oh, okay.” Mob replied.

They fell into an uneasy silence after that, waiting for Reigen to wake again.

“I don’t like that this has taken this long.” Dimple said finally.

“What do you mean?” Mob glanced at him.

“It’s been, what, fifteen minutes? Time is fluid within the mind but the winner should have been decided in a few seconds.”

“Are you saying that you think something is happening?”

“Yeah, but we won’t know what until one of them wakes up.”

“Or… I could go in, and… provide back up.”

“What?!” Dimple sputtered. “How could a human like you enter another human?”

“With an out of body experience.”

“Oh.” Dimple rubbed his chin. “But if you do that you’re going to be as defenseless as Reigen.”

“You could possess my body and keep us safe.”

“What- I mean, I could.”

“I’m trusting you, Dimple.”

“I’m not gonna run off with your body- I swear!”

“I know.” Mob took a deep breath. “I just need to lose consciousness.”

He closed his eyes and just like that he felt his spirit leave his body. Mob, suddenly finding himself several feet above the ground, stared down at his body and Dimple. The spirit gestured towards Mogami and Mob nodded and raced towards him.

Getting into Mogami’s mind was tough, there was a seemingly impenetrable force field around his mind, but with enough pressure Mob broke through and into Mogami’s mindspace.

For a second Seasoning City was sprawled out in front of him and he even felt Master Reigen’s aura somewhere below him in it.

The next second everything went black.

~~~

In the second after that he was Shigeo Kageyama and it had been over six months since he first lost control over his power and hurt his brother. He was walking to work on a day like any other when a strange man caught his attention.

The man had blond hair and was wearing a simple gray business suit with a pink tie, but had no briefcase with him, like all business men should. That wasn’t what caught Shigeo’s eye, however, what did was the fact that the man was glowing gold.

Shigeo blinked and the gold disappeared but the man still stood there, waiting for a light to change so he could cross the street. He seemed to not have noticed Shigeo staring at him at all. Some stranger passed between Shigeo and the businessman and he suddenly realized how rude he was being and turned to continue walking to work. As Shigeo did so, from the corner of his eye, he saw the man turn to look at him.

The rest of the walk to work was as normal as it could be, and by the time Shigeo reached his destination his mind had already moved on from the glowing man.

Shigeo politely knocked on the door of ‘Ghosts and Things Consultation Office’ before letting himself in.

“Ah, hello, Shigeo.” Master Mogami greeted him warmly.

“Hi, Master.” Shigeo responded politely.

He put his backpack down and sat at his small reception desk.

“Did anything interesting happen at school today?”

For a second Shigeo thought back to the glowing man then shrugged. “Not really, no.”

~~~

A week passed before Shigeo saw the businessman again, and it was at the most unexpected place- on the steps of his workplace. Shigeo had been about to enter the building when the man burst out of the building with a disgruntled face. They made eye contact and the businessman’s eyes widened.

“Oh, hello.” He said.

“Hi.” Shigeo responded lamely.

“You must be Shigeo, I’m Arataka Reigen, a prominent psychic.” Reigen dug through his breast pocket and produced a business card that he handed to Shigeo. “If you ever decide to stop working here in favor of a more powerful psychic don’t be afraid to contact me.”

“O- okay.” He said as the man made a quick exit.

Shigeo looked at the card placed in his hand. It was very colorful and in bold words had an address, a phone number, and said ‘Spirits and Such Consultation Office’. He slipped the card into his pocket and finally entered the building.

Master Mogami looked up and for a brief moment he had a very troubled look on his face. But before Shigeo could think too hard about it his teacher’s face transformed into a smile.

“Hello, Shigeo!” He glanced down at Shigeo’s hand. “Oh, what’s that?”

“The man that just left gave me a… business card?”

“Oh, throw that away, you don’t want to get involved with the likes of him.”

“Okay…” Shigeo gave the business card one last glance before throwing it into a nearby trash can. “Why was he here?”

“Oh, he was just some local competition scoping me out, I guess.”

“But… I don’t think he’s psychic.” Shigeo thought back for a second to the gold he saw around the man before, but then dismissed it as a trick of the light.

“Exactly, Shigeo, there are some people out there called con artists that try and trick non-psychics into thinking they’re psychic so they can take their money from them. They’re bad people and you shouldn’t associate with them.”

“Alright, Master.”

“So, how was school today, Shigeo?”

~~~

“Alright Shigeo, our last appointment for today is an out of office possession.” Master Mogami stood up and out of his seat.

“A possession?” Shigeo asked.

“Yeah, I know you haven’t dealt with one of those before so leave it to me, I’m an expert in these types of things.”

“Okay, Master.”

The client’s house was only a few blocks away from the office so the walk was short. Master Mogami talked about possessions while Shigeo quietly listened and nodded at all of the right times. On the way he learned that the client’s cat had apparently been possessed by some sort of evil spirit.

They both spent a good half an hour trying to capture the cat that had been hiding around the house, before Shigeo just picked it up with his powers and let Master exorcise it.

“Well, that was an experience.” Master laughed lightly after taking payment from the client.

“Yeah.” Shigeo agreed.

“Perhaps we should have thought about you using your powers first.”

“That… would probably have helped.” He admitted with a shrug.

“Either way, I think we deserve some takoyaki on our way back, don’t you, Shigeo?”

“Absolutely.” Shigeo nodded.

~~~

Over the next few weeks Shigeo continued to see Reigen around town and close to the office. If they were made eye contact the man would wave at Shigeo, who would sometimes wave back.

Shigeo wasn’t very good at reading the atmosphere but even he was starting to tell that life at the office was starting to become strained for Master Mogami. Ever since Reigen first appeared customers had started getting more and more sparse, and Master was getting more and more desperate to keep what few people did walk into the office. Even clients that called in to set up appointments were slowing down. Master had also stopped inviting Shigeo out for takoyaki.

It all culminated, eventually, in Master Mogami talking to him one day before closing time.

“Shigeo, you know I’ve loved having you here as a student, right?”

“Yes?”

“Good, these last few months were really good for our little business here, but it’s been getting rough.” He took a deep breath. “Shigeo, I’m going to have to let you go as an employee.”

| 60% |

“What?” Shigeo gaped.

“You’ve grown so much since you first walked into my office, you have very good control over your powers now. And, I’m going to be closing the office in the next few months.”

“O- oh.” He broke eye contact with his teacher and looked towards the ground. “Is this because business has been slowing down?”

“It’s- yeah, it is. I won’t be able to stay open. That’s just how it is sometimes.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, Shigeo, there’s no reason for you to apologize!” Master assured. “Do you want to go out for takoyaki one last time?”

“Yeah,” Shigeo looked back up at him. “I’d like that.”

“Alright, let’s go, then.”

~~~

The takoyaki was good, and it almost distracted Shigeo from the fact that it was the end of his last day of work.

“Okay, Shigeo, I think you left your backpack at the office, right?” Master Mogami said as soon as they left the takoyaki place.

“Yeah, I did.” Shigeo indicated to the lack of backpack on his back.

Master huffed in indignation. “Alright, I think we’ll take a shortcut-”

“Stop right there.” A stranger’s shaky voice cut off Master Mogami.

Shigeo turned to look at them and froze at the sight of a gun. The gun shook violently in the mugger’s hands.

Master’s hands shot up. “Woah, woah, don’t do anything you’d regret, now.”

| 72% |

“Gimme your money.” The mugger’s face was sweaty and his voice was unsteady.

“In front of the kid, here?” Master shot Shigeo a fearful glance.

“Just- just give me your money and nothing will happen in front of the kid.”

“Shigeo?”

“Yes, Master?”

“Can- can you…?”

Master Mogami trailed off and in shock Shigeo realized what Master expected him to do. In the months that Shigeo had trained under Master Mogami he had always told him to never use his powers against people. Could he do it now? Was it selfish to break this rule just to protect himse-

“Why aren’t you taking out your wallet!” The mugger demanded and pointed the gun more solidly on Master Mogami’s chest.

“Don’t-” Shigeo tried to speak up.

The mugger snapped his eyes to Shigeo and the gun followed.

“Shigeo!”

Master Mogami moved between him and the mugger and a sudden bright light filled the area followed quickly by the sound of a gun being fired. Shigeo looked up at his teacher and to his horror saw a growing spot of blood on his back. Master fell to his knees without making a sound, and then fell to the ground. Shigeo could only look down at Master Mogami in shock.

| 88% |

“What the hell is happening?” A familiar voice that Shigeo vaguely recognized as Reigen’s filtered into Shigeo’s ears.

“Huh!?” The mugger responded.

A series of scuffles followed and it ended quickly. Shigeo didn’t look up from the growing puddle of blood on the ground until he heard footsteps getting close to him. Reigen’s worried face greeted him.

“Hey, kid- Shigeo- are you alright?”

Shigeo shook his head and Reigen sighed.

“Come on, get up.” He held out a hand of Shigeo to take.

Shigeo reached up and took it and a sense of calm fell over his mind.

| 40% |

Reigen heaved him up onto his feet. “I’ve called the police- do you still have my business card?”

He shook his head again.

“That’s fine, here’s another one, I can talk to the police and if you call me back I’ll update you.” Reigen handed him a new business card. “I could even continue teaching you to control your powers, okay?”

Something about the man made Shigeo want to trust him so he nodded and took the card.

“Alright, let’s get you home.”

| 10% |

~~~

Somehow, the next day, Shigeo ended up walking into the Spirits and Such Consultation Office after a phone call with Reigen. He talked with Reigen during the day and watched as clients came in- Spirits and Such was much busier than he imagined it would be- and were helped while he did homework. Reigen had said that doing here what he did at Master Mogami’s office would help him work through the grief. It seemed to work, he was less sad when he left than when he entered the office earlier that day. So, he returned the day after that, and then after that, and continued until he was there as frequently as he was at his former teacher’s office.

Eventually Shigeo was, to his surprise, invited to go out on a job with Reigen. The man claimed to have felt bad about leaving him alone in the office whenever he left on jobs. And, privately, Shigeo was thankful to get away from the oppressive smell of cigarette smoke that hung about the office.

It was a standard haunting that Reigen took care of himself, and they quickly started walking back to the office. When they arrived Reigen didn’t return to his desk like he usually did and instead turned to Shigeo and motioned for him to sit down.

“You know, Shigeo, I…” Reigen trailed off and Shigeo looked up at him curiously. “I probably should have mentioned this before, I lied to you by omission by not saying this before.”

“What are you talking about?” Shigeo asked even while a sense of foreboding came over him.

Reigen sighed. “You old master’s mugging wasn’t just a random misfortune.”

| 61% |

“What!”

“The police said that it was set up by an unknown group that had something against psychics.”

Shigeo looked in open mouthed shock at Reigen.

“However, I’m a bit familiar with this group myself.”

“You are?”

“Yeah, they’re a group named Claw. I’ve had to deal with them in the past, they target psychics and if psychics don’t agree with them they’re… dealt with.”

“Oh…”

“I won’t let that happen to either of us, though, Shigeo.”

“Thank you… are you… going to call the police on them?”

“What?” Reigen cast him a curious look. “No, Claw themselves are a group of psychics, they’re much too powerful for the police to take care of.”

“Then… what do we do?”

Reigen smiled. “We might be able to take care of them ourselves.”

“Take care… but Master Mogami said that we shouldn’t point our powers at other people. We should handle them like knives.”

“That’s situational, kid, like, if someone points a knife at you should you let them stab you?”

Shigeo shrunk in his chair as Master Mogami’s murder filtered through his mind again.

| 79% |

“No.”

“Exactly, and what if someone is pointing a knife at someone else.”

“Then I should defend them?”

“You learn quickly.” Reigen praised him. “We have these powers so we can go out in the world and do good, it’s our responsibility as espers. If we don’t we’re just wasting these excellent gifts.”

Again, something about the man was extremely compelling, Shigeo hung off every word as if he was a preacher.

“Now, these Claw people are pointing their knives at a lot of innocent people, like your late teacher. We, as people with bigger knives, should make it our duty to protect them, right?”

“Yes.” Shigeo agreed. “If I had… if I had done something Master Mogami would still be here today.”

A client walking in cut off whatever Reigen was going to say in response. The man swept up the client in his speeches and very quickly they were headed to the massage room.

While Reigen was gone something curious happened: the coffeemaker sitting close to Shigeo started shaking and suddenly a green blob fell out of it and floated into the air.

He looked on in shock at what he suddenly realized was a ghost in front of him.

“Shigeo?” It floated closer to him. “You’re not too far gone, thankfully, I think I got here just in time. I knew I shouldn’t have let you in here.”

“Wh- how do you know my name?” Shigeo asked.

The spirit moved directly towards his face. “Don’t you remember me? It wasn’t even that long.”

Something clicked in Mob’s brain. “Dimple?”

“Yes!” Dimple’s face lit up. “Me, your best friend, come on let’s go we’re getting out of here.”

“You’re not my best friend.”

“Ouch, you didn’t have to say it like that, Shigeo.” He pretended to look dejected. “But we don’t have a lot of time, let’s go.”

“Wait- wait, I came here to do something- I came here to save Reigen.” Mob glared at Dimple. “Were you just going to leave him behind?”

“Shigeo-” Dimple sighed. “There’s nothing left of Reigen anymore- he’s been here way too long, Mogami’s definitely destroyed who Reigen used to be. I heard everything that he just said- would Reigen ever believe anything like that? Seriously? He was just a skip, hop, and a jump away from believing everything those Claw loons believed in!”

“But I believed in what he said, and if I can break whatever Mogami has done to my mind so can he.”

Dimple scoffed. “You didn’t believe shit- Reigen was using his power of empathy on you, you were still on the inside you. I can tell that Reigen’s been changed beyond the point of recovery.”

“We’re not leaving him behind.”

“We have to-”

The door to the massage room opened.

Chapter Text

If you were to ask Arataka Reigen how long he’d been psychic, or ponder aloud if he had been psychic his entire life Reigen would answer that he ‘Has been psychic for as long as he could remember’. While it is not entirely untrue it is not the entire story, and the asker would walk away under the assumption that Arataka Reigen had simply been born psychic. This would be true, of course, but Reigen himself could not say it as if it were fact, because he didn’t truly know when he gained his powers.

A baby with telekinetic or pyrokinetic powers is incredibly easy to spot, considering things don’t usually float in the air or spontaneously combust. A baby, or even a child with a more passive power such as empathy, in Reigen’s case, is incredibly more difficult to recognize. In fact, it was usually up to the esper to finally voice the fact that anything is unusual for them at all.

And it is up to the esper to recognize that anything is wrong at all, or let slip a comment about their abilities.

Arataka Reigen had always been praised as perceptive and for the longest time assumed that he happened to be more in-tune with the emotions floating in the air than everyone else. Reigen was simply adept at quite literally ‘reading the atmosphere’, as far as he knew. He had no reason to believe that anything was strange with him at all, and even when he saw people it seemed no one else could he simply shrugged it off. Ghosts had a sense of indifference for him and other humans so he never bothered to interact with them. This was compounded on the fact that every tale of ghosts he had heard from his peers were of visible ones- so he made the assumption that everyone could see ghosts and simply ignored them. It was, Reigen would think as he looked back onto his early childhood, a comedy of errors and assumptions.

That is why it took Reigen and his family ten years to even realize that he was an esper at all.

Reigen felt his mother’s sadness the instant she returned home from work that day, and to his grief it stayed for the rest of the afternoon, clinging to her. Finally, after he had finished his homework he dutifully marched downstairs and confronted his mom.

She, having evidently, heard Reigen come downstairs and enter the dining room gave him a soft smile and then turned her attention back to her phone.

“Mom.”

“Arataka?” His mom responded hesitantly.

“Why are you sad?”

She seemed startled by this question. Visibly the only indication of her surprise was her eyebrows raising but Reigen could feel her emotions as clear as day.

“Oh, I’m not sad, honey, why would you think that?” A twinge of guilt filled the air.

“I can feel it.” He couldn’t help but be confused by her denial- did his mother think she hid her emotions? No one he had ever met had been able to hide their true feelings.

“In the air.” Reigen explained when he realized his mom’s confusion was only worsening.

“You… felt my sadness, Taka?”

“Yeah, I, uh, read the atmosphere, I think.” Reigen shrugged.

“What do you think that means?”

“Um.” Reigen uncomfortably shifted on his feet. “Everyone gives off the emotions that they’re feeling- it’s easier to feel emotions if they’re stronger and reading the atmosphere is feeling those. Not everyone can feel as well as others though, I guess, because some people are bad at reading the atmosphere.”

“Can you explain further?” His mom’s sadness faded and in its place confusion and shock ruled the air.

“There’s not really… much to it, if I get closer to someone it’s stronger- oh, and animals have them too! Dogs are usually happy all the time… I like dogs. Animals are really simple, they don’t usually have more than one emotions at once, but people older than me are complicated. Like, you’re really confused for some reason, and a bit surprised I guess, but the bird on the roof is only focused on its hunger.”

Finally a sense of understanding emanated from his mom and she nodded. “Arataka, do you want to sit down with me?”

“Yeah!” Reigen quickly pulled out the chair next his mom and sat down.

“Well, Arataka, I would say that reading the atmosphere is something a little different from what you’re describing. It’s kind of complicated, actually, but you’ll learn it naturally as you get older.”

“Then what am I doing?” Reigen asked.

“Taka, I think you’re a little bit unique… most people aren’t able to do things like sense a bird is nearby without seeing it or hearing it, nor can they sense emotions like what you were saying.”

“They can’t!?” Reigen’s eyes went wide in surprise. “Does that mean most people can’t see ghosts either?”

“You can see ghosts?” Her calm facade dropped for a second in response to her growing alarm.

“Yeah, oh no, this means I’ve been so rude to them- though they were mostly ignoring me too.”

“Why did you think normal people could see ghosts?”

“I don’t know!” Reigen exclaimed. “All the ghost stories my friends told me about involved visible ghosts so I thought ignoring ghosts was just what people did!”

His mom laughed lightly. “Oh no, Taka, most people can’t see ghosts, but this means you’re something some people call an esper.”

“An esper?” He echoed.

“Yeah, but some people also call you psychics.”

“You mean- people that can lift things with their minds?” Reigen asked in wonderment and then looked down at his own hands. “Can I lift things with my mind?”

“No- some espers have different powers so you can feel emotions, but others might be able to read thoughts or summon fire.”

“Oh, those powers are cool.” Reigen pouted. “Why couldn’t I get a cool power?”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘cool’, Taka, all that matters is that it’s you.” His mom smiled reassuringly. “Empathy is cool, and it suits you.”

“Empathy? Is that what it’s called?”

“Yeah, it’s similar to telepathy, but with emotions instead of thoughts.”

“I still think it’s kinda lame.” He dropped his hands into his lap.

“Nonsense.” She dismissed the thought easily. “As you get older you’ll realize how useful your ability is.”

~~~

By the time Reigen turned fourteen he began to highly doubt his mom’s claims that empathy was a useful ability. The most it did for him was make him unwittingly knowledgeable about quite a bit of drama going on between students in his school. Even that wasn’t something he couldn’t have figured out on his own. As soon as he realized that empathy wasn’t the status quo he started watching his classmates more closely.

Reigen quickly began to recognize body language and how it connected to emotions and what they were trying to keep hidden. He also learned how to manipulate those emotions using just his words, and Reigen swiftly became extremely charismatic.

Popularity followed him, but not too much popularity, he wasn’t the star of the school but enough people knew him that he was always comfortably surrounded by friends.

After that his powers started growing along with him- by the time he entered high school he’d become proficient at manipulating people’s emotions. And, this entire time, he kept the secret of his powers close to his heart. His parents, knew of course, but other than that he didn’t share it with his peers.

Until, one day, he shared his secret with a close friend. It was a decision that Reigen debated over with himself for months, he’d known him for years and finally decided to reveal himself.

It was obvious that he’d made a fatal mistake the next day he came into school. Word had traveled like wildfire among the school’s inhabitants. When he walked into class the next day every pair of eyes in the room snapped to him. Unease stifled the room so powerfully that Reigen felt it creep up in himself and he almost walked right back out. That would have been to suspicious, though, so he continued to his seat as if his classmate’s gazes weren’t seering into him.

Lunch with his friends was just as stressful as the previous classes had been, but this time he would be forced to talk, unless... Reigen quickly started shoving food in his mouth to avoid the rough air surrounding the table. By the time he got halfway through his plate they started getting sick of watching him eat and Reigen sighed.

“How much did he tell you?”

~~~

After that, his entire school life changed. People that used to be attracted to his magnetizing charisma stopped meeting his eye in the hallway. Distrust permeated the air whenever he walked by and in some extreme cases his former friends started avoiding him completely.

At that point in his life Reigen realized that the most his powers were doing for him was ostracizing him from everyone around him. His friends, his teachers, and even his parents interacted with him differently than people that weren't empathic. They all believed he manipulated them, and as such pushed them away.

Overnight he lost a majority of his friends in high school; he’d gone from someone everyone knew because they liked him, to the subject of rumors and ridicule. Only a few loyal friends stayed with him- not cowed by the whispers of their peers.

They were with him when he declared that he was going to get a degree in business and financing in college. One even suggested the craziest thing:

“If you’re gonna do that, why don’t you open a psychic business?”

“A… psychic business? Like Mogami?” Reigen froze and looked at his friend like he’d grown a third eye.

“Yeah, come on- that’d be cool! I know you idolized him when we were kids. You can even help people- unlike all those fakes that cropped up since his death.”

“You know that’s… not actually a bad idea.”

Chapter Text

Reigen collapsed onto his office chair with a deep sigh, and immediately winced as he jostled the ice pack pushing against his eye. His last client had not been happy with his ‘service’ and got physical before Reigen retaliated and scared the man out of the office. He eyed the empty pack of cigarettes on his desk in front of him- he’d finished it before the client came in- and groaned.

Quickly the urge to smoke won over Reigen’s embarrassment over his injury and his hesitation to leave the office. Rent was due in a week, and Reigen was quickly running out of goodwill with his landlord. The way the month had been going Reigen was going to be very short for rent, nevermind all his other bills during the month. He needed any client that would come in, but at this point anyone would be turned away by his black eye and irritable attitude.

So, with a bit of regret and a sore face Reigen closed Spirits and Such and attached a quickly made sign saying that he’d be back soon to the door.

The plan was to quickly walk down the street to buy another pack and go back to the office, but nothing is ever that easy, is it?

Reigen was heading back to the office with a cig in his mouth when he was approached. He glanced up at the man in ratty clothing for a second before looking down and attempting to pass him.

“Hey.” The man growled and shoved Reigen’s shoulder as he tried to pass.

Reigen sighed and pulled the cig out of his mouth. “What do you want?”

He’d neglected to notice it before, soured by his own annoyance, but the man in front of him had hostile intent and anger mixed with anticipation bled out of him. Before Reigen could even begin to backtrack, verbally or physically, the man pulled out a pocket knife.

“Gimme your wallet.”

Instinctually Reigen glanced around him, only to see that the street was empty this late in the day.

“Hold on now, you don’t want to do anything you’ll regret.” He raised his arms in surrender.

“I’m not fucking around!”

“Okay, okay.” Reigen placated the man.

His mind raced as he slowly lowered his hands and reached into his pocket. He couldn’t afford to get mugged, and he could even less afford to get stabbed. Without a second thought Reigen touched the man’s mind with his powers while he pretended to fumble with his wallet.

“You don’t want to do this.” Reigen said one more time while he pushed hesitancy and fear into his mind.

Immediately the man’s stance faltered and Reigen was sure that if he looked close enough he would see sweat forming on his forehead.

“I- I need the money, man.” The knife shook in his hand.

“There’s better ways to get it than this.” Reigen insisted as he ramped up the emotions in the man’s mind. “I’m not the person you want to mug.”

That finally got through to Reigen’s would-be mugger. He lowered the knife as fear took over his mind.

“Wh- whatever.”

“Let me go and I won’t even call the cops.” He bargained.

The man thought it over for a second and then nodded. “Yeah- yeah, that’ll work.”

Reigen sighed in relief. “Thank you.”

Keeping his empathic attention on the man, in case he changed his mind, Reigen quickly walked past him and raced to Spirits and Such. Upon arrival he tore down the sign he made down and began walking home. No amount of money could save the shit day he was having.

~~~

Rent was due. In fact, two months of rent were due, as Reigen’s landlord helpfully reminded him.

“Reigen, you have one week to get me rent or I’m kicking you out.”

That was impossible, Reigen knew it and so did his landlord. It essentially translated to 'one week to find somewhere to live' but, aside from moving back in with his parents Reigen couldn't afford to move. There were a lot of things Reigen couldn't afford these days.

"Just… give me one more month." Reigen begged.

Frustration bled off his landlord in waves and with hardly any effort at all Reigen wiped away the frustration.

He needed just… one more month.

Just as easily Reigen replaced frustration with understanding and his landlord’s expression softened.

“I can’t just let you live here for free, Reigen.”

“I know, I’ll come up with the money and then some next month.”

He just needed some time, and a few buckets full of luck. Reigen was bound to make his big break eventually.

"Fine, fine, one more month, but that's all I'll give you, Reigen."

Reigen sighed in relief and released his hold on his landlord's mind. "Thank you!"

"Alright now beat it, you can't make money if you're standing here talking to me."

"Yes sir!"

~~~

Reigen started the next day energized enough that he went to Spirits and Such early so he could start paying for rent. He flipped the sign on his way in, turned the key in the lock, and realized that the lock was broken.

Someone had broken in overnight- that much was obvious to Reigen. Very quickly his mood tanked and his grip on the handle tightened. After a long moment of hesitation Reigen turned the handle and swung the door open and stepped inside.

It wasn't a disaster, per se, the thief hadn't thrown his plants around or knocked his incense over, or even stolen anything out of his cupboards. Reigen didn't have much that could be resold or reused, but the one thing that was missing was the thing that hurt the most: his laptop. The only damn thing that kept Reigen busy while he waited for clients, and the only thing worth stealing that Reigen had. He wouldn't be able to buy a decent new one for a while, especially on top of paying back three months of rent.

Reigen closed the door behind him and collapsed into his chair. He needed another cigarette.

~~~

If there was one thing Reigen didn't expect it was that he would be mugged twice in as many weeks, and especially not on the same day his office had been robbed. This guy, though, had a gun, and exuded determination.

Without any hesitation this time Reigen took control of his assailant.

“Put the gun away.”

The man immediately holstered the gun away and gazed at Reigen with a blank look. An idea rooted itself in Reigen’s mind and there he hesitated as he ruminated over it. Quickly, as he didn’t have much time, Reigen went through with his plan.

“Hey, actually, as an apology, why don’t you give me your wallet?” Reigen asked the man.

“Yeah, yeah, sure.” The man reached into his pocket, grabbed his wallet, and handed it to him.

“Thanks!” Reigen responded cheerfully.

He quickly took the man’s cash- which was more than what Reigen had on hand- and handed him his wallet back. Reigen pocketed the cash and continued on his way; once he walked far enough away he released his hold on the man’s mind.

Reigen couldn’t pay rent with what cash he found in the man’s wallet, he thought as he added it to his own wallet, but it would definitely make a dent in it.

~~~

Reigen wasn’t about to start mugging people off the streets, but he couldn’t help but get an idea from his previous encounter. Overnight he raised his prices for every service he offered, competing with the prices of every other psychic in Seasoning City.

A client came in the next day after his robbing and mugging, and after a little convincing from Reigen, paid for Reigen’s complete massage package. After a quick wave goodbye and the compulsion to share Reigen’s services he sat back in his chair and counted his funds. He’d be able to afford rent for one month now.

Like a snowball effect that Reigen had been waiting for since he opened Spirits and Such he very quickly found himself with clients every day. The woman from before had talked about him and her friends came in, and then they talked, and before long Reigen was able to present his landlord with three months’ worth of rent right alongside buying a brand new laptop for himself.

Maybe, just maybe, Reigen pondered one night as he closed, he had been wasting his powers.

Another few months passed by in a blur and massive changes took place in the Spirits and Such office. Reigen hired a part-time secretary to handle appointments and clients when he was out of the office who was just psychic enough to impress clients and to protect himself.

That was when he crossed paths with a very curious little boy while he was walking to work from an exorcism. The boy’s aura was astounding, the scope of his power blocking out the energies of any other ghost or esper in the general vicinity. Somehow, Reigen had never sensed him before, but he didn’t dwell on that as he blocked his aura from the little esper’s sight. Quickly the boy started walking away and Reigen took the opportunity to dive into his mind.

So, his name was Shigeo Kageyama and he too was walking to work, but for a competitor of Reigen’s. He’d never heard of the place before, and mentally followed the boy to work, and took note of the place he stopped at. Reigen was going to need to do a little bit of research.

Shigeo wasn’t mentioned on the ‘Ghosts and Things Consultation Office’(Reigen would sue for copyright infringement if he actually had a copyright) website, but it did mention the owner’s name(Reigen couldn’t help but feel like it was familiar) and address. The next opening Reigen had in his schedule he was going to drop by for a visit.

~~~

Mogami's office was empty except for him when Reigen dropped by. The man was definitely psychic, but a weak one, especially in relation to Shigeo and Reigen himself.

"Welcome." Mogami greeted him instantly. "Do you have an appointment?"

Reigen shook his head. "No, but I did run into your student about a week ago."

"Oh," Mogami frowned. "He didn't cause you any trouble, did he? Shigeo is usually a very good kid."

"He was polite enough, but let me introduce myself. Name's Reigen Arataka and I'm a competitor of yours, on the other side of town."

"Oh?"

"And," Reigen continued. "I couldn't help but notice that Shigeo is a very powerful esper, and I came to visit to see who could have employed him."

"I see…" Mogami responded tentatively.

It was immediately very tempting to use his powers to convince Mogami to give up Shigeo, but then he'd need to control Shigeo, and whoever else attempted to poke their nose where it didn't belong. Shigeo also wasn't immediately necessary, and Reigen could wait.

"You're not a very powerful psychic, Mogami, and Shigeo could be dangerous if poorly trained, I could take him under my wing if you stop being able to control him."

"Shigeo isn't dangerous!" Mogami protested immediately. "If you're going to insult me and my student I strongly suggest that you leave my office!"

"Fine." Reigen shrugged, already accepting of this loss. "I'd watch out, Mogami, I'm not kind to my competition."

At that Reigen turned and left and to his surprise, ran into Shigeo right outside the door.

"Oh, hello." Reigen smiled at him.

"Hi." The boy said meekly.

“You must be Shigeo, I’m Arataka Reigen, a prominent psychic.” Reigen dug through his breast pocket and produced a business card that he handed to Shigeo. “If you ever decide to stop working here in favor of a more powerful psychic don’t be afraid to contact me.”

"O- Okay."

Shigeo took the card from him, and satisfied with that specific encounter Reigen made his way back to his office.

~~~

Both Mogami and Shigeo would need to willingly agree to Shigeo joining Spirits and Such. The most subtle and most gratifying way would be to starve Mogami of clients. Essentially snuffing him out as a competitor while also forcing him to sack Shigeo so Reigen could snatch him up.

It didn't take long, Mogami's business was slow even without Reigen's interference. But with it, clients barely trickled in and Mogami's mood tanked in front of Reigen's eyes. He was going to sack Shigeo, but Reigen had one more gift for Mogami just for wasting so much of Reigen's time.

Reigen followed them from afar after Mogami let Shigeo go, and very quickly they were on their way back to Mogami's office. While they talked Reigen narrowed his senses down to a desperate young man that was passing them, and then pressured him into attacking the two of them.

Letting the mugger's own actions take him from there Reigen made his way closer to Mogami and Shigeo. By the time he reached the alleyway Mogami was dead and Reigen reacted accordingly: by knocking the mugger out with a right hook.

“Hey, kid- Shigeo- are you alright?”

Shigeo shook his head and Reigen sighed.

“Come on, get up.” He held out a hand of Shigeo to take.

The instant Shigeo's hand touched Reigen's he chased away Shigeo's fear and replaced it with a sense of calm.

Reigen heaved him up onto his feet. “I’ve called the police- do you still have my business card?”

The kid shook his head again.

“That’s fine, here’s another one, I can talk to the police and if you call me back I’ll update you.” Reigen handed him a new business card. “I could even continue teaching you to control your powers, okay?”

After some slight hesitation Shigeo nodded.

“Alright, let’s get you home.”

Now that that was set in motion, all Reigen had to do was clean up the aftermath.

~~~

After some mental prodding from Reigen Shigeo arrived at Spirits and Such the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, until Shigeo was dropping by the office every day he could.

Now that Shigeo liked him Reigen needed to be able to start using Shigeo as a weapon. Mogami had instilled some useless morals into the kid long before Reigen even ran into him, and he'd need to get Shigeo to shed them. He had the wisp of an idea on how to do that, and it involved a small but consistent thorn in his side: Claw.

“You know, Shigeo, I…” Reigen trailed off and Shigeo looked up at him from his seat in the office, having replaced Reigen's old secretary, curiously. “I probably should have mentioned this before, I lied to you by omission by not saying this before.”

“What are you talking about?” Shigeo asked, and curiosity bubbled to the surface of his mind.

Reigen sighed. “Your old master’s mugging wasn’t just a random misfortune.”

“What!”

“The police said that it was set up by an unknown group that had something against psychics.” He smoothly lied to the kid.

Shigeo looked in open mouthed shock at Reigen.

“However, I’m a bit familiar with this group myself.”

“You are?”

“Yeah, they’re a group named Claw. I’ve had to deal with them in the past, they target psychics and if psychics don’t agree with them they’re… dealt with.”

“Oh…”

“I won’t let that happen to either of us, though, Shigeo.”

“Thank you… are you… going to call the police on them?”

“What?” Reigen in hindsight should have expected that response. “No, Claw themselves are a group of psychics, they’re much too powerful for the police to take care of.”

“Then… what do we do?”

Reigen smiled. “We might be able to take care of them ourselves.”

“Take care… but Master Mogami said that we shouldn’t point our powers at other people. We should handle them like knives.”

“That’s situational, kid, like, if someone points a knife at you should you let them stab you?” While he spoke Reigen wiped away most of Shigeo's hesitation.

Shigeo shrunk in his chair and Reigen saw Mogami's murder through the kid's mind's eye.

“No.”

“Exactly, and what if someone is pointing a knife at someone else?”

“Then I should defend them?” Shigeo was starting to understood, much to his satisfaction.

“You learn quickly.” Reigen praised him. “We have these powers so we can go out in the world and do good, it’s our responsibility as espers. If we don’t we’re just wasting these excellent gifts.”

For the sake of this conversation Reigen worked off the morals Mogami had already given Shigeo in order to manipulate him.

“Now, these Claw people are pointing their knives at a lot of innocent people, like your late teacher. We, as people with bigger knives, should make it our duty to protect them, right?”

“Yes.” Shigeo agreed. “If I had… if I had done something Master Mogami would still be here today.”

Right at the most important part of this conversation a client walked im, and Reigen would be damned if he didn't accept them. After deciding that the conversation could continue later Reigen greeted the client and quickly brought them into the massage room for an 'exorcism'.

When Reigen returned to the main room after helping a client he certainly didn't expect to see a spirit that looked like a drop of snot floating in his office. Both the spirit and Shigeo were alarmed by his entrance and Reigen's emotions mirrored their own.

"What?" He assessed the spirit. "Shigeo, what's this and why haven't you ecorcised it yet?"

"Uh, this is Dimple." Shigeo held out a hand to indicate to the ghost. "Don't you remember him?"

"Remember? Have I met this spirit before?"

"I really wished you hadn't." Dimple grumbled.

Reigen scoffed. "What the hell does that mean?"

"Nothing, he's just grumpy." Shigeo insisted.

"I'm going to regret this." The spirit said, directly before racing toward Reigen before he could react.

"Dimple!" Shigeo exclaimed.

The spirit's form and mind pressed against Reigen and he was suddenly bombarded by memories. They were of him and Shigeo from the spirit's perspective, on assignments from clients Reigen had never seen before. He called Shigeo 'Mob' in one and suddenly there were memories from Reigen's own perspective, and everything clicked.

"Oh."

Dimple immediately flew away from Reigen and grunted. "You owe me for that."

"Master?" Mob asked tentatively.

"Yeah, Mob?" Reigen responded.

Immediately the tension in Mob's shoulders loosened. "What do we do now?"

Reigen looked around the office. "I'm gonna say, bust out of here and get back to our office."

"You'll be doing no such thing." Mogami's voice came from behind him and all three of them jumped.

Upon turning around Reigen found himself face to face with the spirit and reacted instantly. He reached out with his powers and touched Mogami's mind.

Immediately the thoughts and emotions of thousands of spirits reacted to his presence and screamed. White covered Reigen's vision and he fell back under the sheer weight of their combined minds.

You cannot win. I still need you.

"Master?" Mob asked, alarmed.

Reigen desperately tried to latch onto Mob's or Dimple's minds in order to anchor himself under the sheer deluge of spirits, but it was useless, even the air itself thrummed with Mogami's power.

"Mob." Reigen finally gasped out. "He's too strong, I need you, here."

He hated forcing Mob to fight a serious, life-threatening battle alone, but it was do or die.

"Yes, Master." Mob responded immediately.

Reigen felt Mob's power flow over the surrounding area as he started exorcising the spirits around him. Dimple provided rather unhelpful commentary while they both moved away from Reigen's location, drawing the spirits closer.

As Mob exorcised spirits and drew them away Reigen felt the pressure on his mind abate until he was able to assist in the exorcisms. Individually the spirits were weak, and Reigen and Mob tore through them.

After a few moments something happened, what exactly Reigen didn't know, but he felt Mob's emotions explode violently through the mindscape. Actually, it was one emotion in particular(which Reigen didn't think was too healthy for Mob's emotional state): Courage.

Now that they've lost me, their vessel, all the spirits I've taken in and controlled will all be freed at once. Not even I can stop them anymore.

Oh, great.

There were too many spirits in between him and Mob and Dimple for him to hear their conversation but after a few moments, to Reigen's relief, Dimple vanished from the mindscape.

Now that Mogami was no longer controlling the spirits a few wayward souls wandered their way over to where they sensed Reigen, which was just his luck. Immediately he exorcised the ones closest to him, which just brought the attention of more spirits, and very quickly Reigen found himself surrounded. Spirits phased through the walls of the office and threw themselves at Reigen while he desperately tried to exorcise them.

Reigen gasped in shock as one crafty spirit grabbed his leg from below the floor and began scrambling up his body. He barely had time to exorcise it before another one threw itself at him, knocking him over. Two more followed it and Reigen could only hold back his shouts as they began to tear at his body and mind-

A very familiar wave of psychic energy blasted through Reigen, obliterating the spirits on top of him, around him, and everywhere in Mogami's mindscape, in fact.

Reigen.

That was definitely Shigeo who Reigen sensed.

Shigeo… good job.

Thank you, Reigen, let's get out of here.

I see. Your vessel has been shattered, and that's what is inside?

Reigen filed away Mogami's comment for the future but otherwise ignored him.

Yeah, I've had enough of Mogami for an entire lifetime.

~~~

"Master, why aren't you going to claim your reward?" Mob asked while they ate a victory MobDonalds.

"Look how many people got hurt." Reigen replied through his cheeseburger. "I wouldn't exactly call that a success. You should never accept money you feel you haven't earned. If you do you'll start to take the easy way out."

Or take it from others, Reigen mentally added.

"You just don't want to be held responsible." Dimple accused.

"That's not it, you moron!" Reigen rolled his eyes in defiance. "Anyway, no good ever comes out of drowning in wealth or power. Mogami let his own powers swallow him up, too."

Thank goodness that entire thing was over, though. Hopefully he'd never have to see Mogami again, not after Matsuo captured him.