When Reigen unlocks his office after coming back from stretching his legs, the first thing he sees is an ominous black shape sitting behind his desk and nearly has a goddamn heart attack.
Truthfully, Reigen always suspected this was how he would go; alone in the office at the hands of a malevolent spirit he didn’t have the first clue how to exorcise. It’d be fitting. Probably well-deserved too.
It isn’t a malevolent spirit. The ominous black shape resolves itself into a straight-backed man in a black suit, hands folded neatly on the desk in front of him and glaring at Reigen over the top of his glasses.
“Ah, Sakurai,” Reigen says, clinging to the doorframe with one hand and the front of his shirt with the other. “What a… what a pleasure.”
“Reigen,” Sakurai says, voice thick with something that might be disapproval or maybe the pain of a stomach ache. Reigen has never been able to read Sakurai as well as he’d like, honestly. “Please, come in.”
“It’s my own damn office,” Reigen grouses. “Of course I’ll come in if I want to. Get out of my chair.”
Sakurai obliges, hovering far too near the corner of the desk and Reigen takes his seat back, nonchalantly pretending as if the way Sakurai looms over him doesn’t bother him in the least. “So,” he says, “to what do I owe this surprise visit?”
Sakurai doesn’t even beat around the bush. “It’s about Serizawa.”
Of course it is. Reigen isn’t surprised. He unfolds his hands and examines his shiny, impeccable nails. “Oh?”
“Some of us -.”
“Us who?” Reigen interrupts.
Sakurai shoots him an irritated glare. “Some of us,” he continues, “us being Serizawa’s former colleagues, are worried about your influence on him.”
“Influence?” Reigen repeats blithely. “You’re going to have to be more specific. I don’t quite know what you mean.”
Sakurai looks dearly like he’s itching for a gun Reigen has long since forbidden him from bringing into the office. He has kids in and out of this place all day. True, most of those kids were espers, and more than one of those kids could probably take a bullet and keep on walking, but Reigen takes his responsibility for supervising them seriously.
“I think you know exactly what I mean,” Sakurai says stiffly. “You treat him like a…”
Reigen raises a brow. “Like a fellow adult? That he is?”
“He needs a more delicate hand than that.”
Nonplussed, Reigen says, “You realize he’s older than me, actually?”
“No, not just physically,” Reigen says. “He’s been a shut-in since he was twelve. Of course he’s going to need some time to figure out what that means for him at thirty; but I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean, and that’s that he’s still a child incapable of being responsible for his own choices.”
Reigen sits back proudly. He’s had this speech planned out for weeks now. He might not be psychic, but he’d known it was only a matter of time before one of Serizawa’s ‘friends’ came to pick a fight with him.
They should have known better. Reigen is notorious for winning fights far above his weight class.
“I’m not saying that he’s a child,” Sakurai says defensively. “I’m just saying that there may be some choices Serizawa really isn’t in a place to -.”
The door slams open and they both turn as one to look.
“Sakurai!” Serizawa says cheerfully on the doorstep. “I didn't know you were coming by! Would you like some tea? Reigen and Shigeo have taught me how to prepare it.”
Sakurai casts Reigen a dark look and steps back, brushing off his suit.
“No thank you, Serizawa,” he says politely. “I only stopped by for a minute to talk something over with Reigen. I should get going if I’m going to make my target goals for today.”
“Does anybody really buy anything from you?” Reigen wondered, idly turning to and fro in the chair. “You’re the most intimidating looking salesman I’ve ever seen. They probably think you’re a member of the yakuza.”
“I have the second highest numbers in the region,” Sakurai says, offended.
“That’s amazing, Sakurai!” Serizawa says earnestly, and the genuine warmth effusing from him seems to thaw some of the rigid ice holding Sakurai so tight.
“Thank you,” he says, turning to the door. He pats Serizawa stiffly on the shoulder as he passes him by. “Enjoy the rest of your day, Serizawa. You know how to contact me if you need to.”
Reigen watches him go, amused. Privately, he thinks it’s rich for Sakurai or any of the other former Claw members to accuse Serizawa of being awkward when none of them seem that well-adjusted themselves.
Serizawa twists to watch him go. “What did he want to talk about?”
“You,” Reigen says honestly, getting to his feet. Serizawa shoots him a baffled look. “Come on. We’ve got some time before Mob gets here, how about we get some lunch, just you and me?”
The thing about Serizawa that most people don’t seem to understand, Reigen has discovered, is that they’re quick to mistake his naivete for innocence.
Serizawa had locked himself away when he was younger than Mob is now, and he’d done it because he understood himself only too well. Serizawa is a good person. Reigen might even venture to say he is a great person - but he isn’t Mob.
At twelve years old, Serizawa had been alone, and he’d been powerful, and he’d made a choice harder than most anyone else was ever likely to face; if he couldn’t trust himself to exist in a world without hurting anybody, he wouldn’t exist in that world at all.
Sure, it mightn’t have been the best choice, but it sure as fuck was the hardest. If there’s one thing Serizawa knows how to do, it’s to take responsibility for himself.
“Hey, Reigen,” Serizawa asks, ramen noodles hanging limply from his mouth. “There’s clients coming today, isn’t there?”
“There is,” Reigen allows, passing him a napkin. “Here, you’ve got broth all over your chin.”
“Ah, thank you!” Serizawa dabs it away gracelessly. His stubble is growing in again, Reigen notices. It adds a good five years to his handsome face. “I was thinking - that is, if you’d allow me - I was wondering whether I could come with you this time?”
“Come with us?” Reigen finishes the last of his ramen and sets aside his chopsticks. “How do you know we’re going anywhere? Could just be somebody wants a good old-fashioned ghost-be-gone massage.”
Serizawa flushes slightly.
Reigen smiles. “Mob told you?”
“I asked him,” Serizawa says, loyal to the end. “I didn’t mean to get him in trouble.”
“Nobody’s in trouble,” Reigen assures him. “You work in the office too, Serizawa. You can ask Mob whatever you like, and he can tell you whatever he wants. I’m your boss, not your dictator.”
Serizawa looks uncomprehending at the mere concept. Reigen has to remind himself that the last ‘boss’ Serizawa had probably wasn’t big on free will. “Look,” Reigen says, pushing aside his empty bowl. “Do you want to come with us? It seems like a genuine exorcism this time. Could be nasty, you never know.”
Serizawa looks away for a moment, fidgeting. Reigen waits patiently. He’s rewarded for it when Serizawa looks up again, less flustered this time.
“Yes,” he says firmly. “I can - I can do it.”
There’s a familiar flutter of pride in Reigen’s icy heart. He gets to his feet, slapping down some money on the countertop. “Glad to hear it,” he says. “Let’s go.”
“What - now?” Serizawa glances down at his half-empty bowl of ramen.
“No time like the present,” Reigen says cheerfully, adjusting the lapels of his cheap suit. “The clients will be at the office soon, and it’s bad business to keep them waiting.”
Reigen ducks out from the stall, and Serizawa scrambles to follow him, but not before giving his stuttering but heartfelt compliments to the chef. Reigen can hear the pounding of his new loafers on the pavement behind as he rushes to catch up.
“Are you sure?” Serizawa asks anxiously.
“That I can come with you.”
Reigen has his hands tucked into his pockets, strolling casually like they have all the time in the world. It won’t do any good to rush back to the office before Serizawa has the time to work out the worst of his bubbling anxieties, and Reigen doesn’t mind the chance for a breath of fresh air.
He can hear the sharp laughing of children and turns to watch as a group of them rush past in the direction of the local park. To Serizawa, he asks, “You said you could do it, didn’t you?”
“I - I did.”
“Then it’s fine.”
Beside him, Serizawa brightens, just a little. His unrolls his hunched back and his shoulders straighten. With incredibly minimal effort, he transforms from the picture of tense worry to a calm man in an ill-fitting suit out for a nice midday walk.
It’s amazing, Reigen thinks, how very little encouragement Serizawa actually needs to believe in himself. In a way, he’s almost easier to cheer up than Mob, who rarely falls into a funk but is unshakable when he does.
Serizawa is a man battling the weight of a hundred miniscule slights, and all he needs is to be reminded that each one is only as heavy as he considers them to be.
As the office comes back into view, so does a young couple loitering just outside it, hands twisting together and expressions intensely unhappy in a way Reigen is very familiar with.
“Would you be the Yamamotos?” Reigen asks as he approaches, hands sliding from his pockets and professional, sympathetic smile sliding onto his face.
“Yes, would you be Reigen? From Spirits and Such?” Mariko Yamamoto can’t be older than her early twenties, but stress lines are so deeply etched into her face Reigen wouldn’t be surprised to find gray sprouting in her hair.
“That’s me, yes.” Reigen politely shakes hands with her and her husband Toshi, who looks no better than his wife. Then turning to Serizawa he says, “This is my associate, Serizawa. I hope you don’t mind, but he’ll be working with us today.”
Serizawa is very obviously flustered at being introduced but he rallies admirably, bowing stiffly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you!”
Toshi and Mariko exchange glances with each other, but Reigen smoothly says, “How about we head inside and we can discuss your concerns?”
All things considered, the meeting is short and runs exactly as expected. Afterwards, Reigen shows the Yamamotos to the door and promises they’ll be by their house as soon as his other employee arrives, and to take care in the meantime.
“Sounds like a pretty routine case of a poltergeist,” Reigen says as he shuts the door with one hand and texts Mob with the other. “Still, they can be pretty nasty so we should wait for Mob first.”
Serizawa still has the tray he’d served the tea on clasped in his hands. “An exorcism?”
Reigen scratches idly at his hair as he glances up at the clock. “Seems like it.”
“I’ve never actually done an exorcism before,” Serizawa admits. He’s spinning the tray absently, but Reigen has long since become accustomed to Serizawa’s unshakable need to be doing something with his hands at all times.
“Mob can show you,” Reigen says. “He’s done enough for both of you.”
Serizawa hesitates for a second. “Is it - does it harm the spirits?”
Reigen pauses for a moment, collecting his thoughts. He really should have anticipated such a question. Eventually, he settles on, “Only the spirits that deserve it.”
Serizawa doesn’t look completely satisfied, but he doesn’t push. Before Reigen can think of anything else to say, there’s the click of the doorknob and he turns to see Mob on the threshold, backpack over his shoulders and fresh from school.
He doesn’t look irritated, but he does seem slightly put out. “I had plans with friends.”
“Ah, sorry about that.” Reigen jerks his thumb towards Serizawa who startles at the attention and drops his tray, scrambling to pick it up. “Do you think you’d be able to teach Serizawa how to do an exorcism?”
Mob’s gaze ticks over to him, and he tilts his head contemplatively. Serizawa bears the weight of Mob’s constantly indecipherable expression with grace. “I think so,” Mob says after a moment. “Serizawa should definitely be able to do it with his power.”
“That’s a relief,” Reigen says. “If you could show him how to do it this one time, it’d take the load off your back.”
Mob perks up, clearly quietly pleased with the idea. Reigen can’t blame him. These days, he thinks the both of them have managed to strike a decent balance between Mob’s work with him and Mob’s budding social life, but Mob is still the only one doing the heavy lifting at the office, and a second set of hands would ease the pressure on them all.
“Alright,” Reigen says, plucking his coat off the back of his chair. It’s usually warm enough in the office that he rarely wears it these days. He slides it on and ushers them all towards the door. “Time for a ghost hunt.”
They take a taxi to the client’s house, Reigen wedged in the middle, Mob dozing off against the window to the left, and Serizawa fidgeting uncomfortably to his right.
Reigen puts up with it for an admirably long while he thinks, but after the third time Serizawa accidently jams his elbow into Reigen’s gut he reaches out to still Serizawa’s fumbling fingers. “Serizawa,” he says seriously. “We’re nearly there.”
Serizawa flushes but doesn’t draw his hands away. Beneath Reigen’s fingertips, he can pick up on twitchy trembling. “Sorry,” Serizawa says. “I don’t mean to be a burden.”
“You’re not a burden,” Reigen says bluntly. “You’re just nervous, which is understandable, I guess. It doesn’t do anybody any good to work yourself up over it though.”
On his other side, Mob lets out a soft snore and turns over in his sleep, his forehead hitting Reigen’s shoulder.
Reigen thinks he should feel claustrophobic, trapped in the back with Mob sleepily listing into him on one side and Serizawa twitchy and a little bit clingy on the other. Instead he feels nothing but a sudden flicker of fondness.
He’s a simple man, really, and he’s not above admitting that being the source of comfort for two people like this, unconscious or not, warms the barren wasteland he might generously call a heart.
The taxi shudders to a stop and Mob lists back the other way, grunting quietly as his forehead hits the window with a soft thump.
Up front the driver announces, “We’re here.”
Serizawa and Mob wait on the sidewalk while Reigen pays. When he comes back, tucking his wallet into his suit pocket, he sees the both of them frowning at a fairly innocuous house sitting neatly back from the curb. “This is it, huh?”
“There’s something here,” Mob says. He doesn’t like too bothered though, which Reigen takes for a good sign.
Serizawa says, “It feels like it’s been here a while.”
Reigen glances at the cheerful painted weatherboard walls. Beneath the windows he notices a dead flower bed. There’s a pile of wilted lilies reduced to skeletal, weeping twigs. The fresh water sparkling atop them speaks to somebody’s valiant effort to revive them, but Reigen’s learnt to recognize something long dead when he sees it.
He grimaces. “How nasty does it seem?”
Before they can answer the house door is thrown open and Mariko Yamamoto is standing on the threshold, hand curled around the doorframe and looking at them with relief. Instantly, Reigen slips on a smile, crossing the last of the pavement and climbing the steps to meet her.
“Sorry we’re late,” he says, even though they’re not that late at all. “The taxi ride was longer than expected.”
“I’m just glad you’re here,” Mariko says, one hand fisting in the front of her dress. It’s only been an hour at most since Reigen saw her last, but the bags beneath her eyes seems more prominent in this light. She does not seem soothed in the least to be on home turf.
“Has it gotten worse since you came to visit?”
Mariko hesitates, glancing over her shoulder. “I don’t know,” she says. “It feels it. But I might - might just be being silly.”
“I’m sure you’re not,” Reigen says soothingly. “Where’s your husband?”
“He’s taken the kids to the park,” she says. “We didn’t want them in here a second longer.”
Before Reigen can say anything else, Serizawa steps forward. “Maybe you should go and join him. We can contact you when we’re done here.”
Reigen is more than a little surprised at Serizawa’s initiative, but he doesn’t contradict him. It would be easier with the homeowners gone, truthfully. Mariko herself looks so incredibly relieved at the offer. “I’ll just grab my purse and get out of your way.”
She takes barely a moment to gather her things, and Reigen accompanies her through the house as she does so, even though she hadn’t specifically asked him to. He can tell she’s grateful though, because she pauses to squeeze his hands for a second as she passes him the house keys. “Thank you,” she says. “Thank you so much.”
Serizawa and Mob step aside as she leaves the house, and Serizawa offers her an awkward but endearing half bow.
“Alright,” Reigen says, tossing the keys in the air. “Let’s see what we’re dealing with.”
Reigen had been right. It’s a poltergeist and it’s not happy in the slightest to be exorcised.
Mob walks Serizawa through how to exorcise a spirit with more hand gestures than words, but Serizawa seems to understand him just fine. The both of them are a thing to behold, really, alight with intensity and focus, standing in front of Reigen like an unyielding wall.
Reigen is used to the sight of Mob’s tiny back protecting him from harm, but Serizawa’s is a new one. Reigen leans against the countertop, head tilted to the side and guiltlessly traces out the breadth of Serizawa’s shoulders with his eyes.
It’s a good view, he thinks appreciatively.
By the end, there’s three different holes in the beautiful blue wallpaper and the kitchen looks like a bomb (or a particularly angry ghost) exploded inside of it. There are knives wedged in the floorboards, and the refrigerator door is swinging uselessly open and closed on a broken hinge. He thinks, although he can’t be sure, that egg yolk seems to be dripping from the ceiling.
All in all, Reigen can say he’s pleased.
“You did good,” Reigen says as Serizawa turns to look hopefully up at him. “Can’t believe you’ve never done it before. You’re a natural.”
Serizawa preens and even Mob offers him a small smile.
“Master’s right, I think you could definitely do it on your own next time,” Mob says encouragingly.
“You really think so?” Serizawa asks nervously.
Reigen pushes himself off the countertop. “Absolutely.” He pauses to slap Serizawa’s shoulder companionably. “You’ve got to give yourself more credit. You did great.”
Serizawa’s cheeks are slightly flushed with the compliments and his eyes skitter away from Reigen’s face to the mess that was once a perfectly nice kitchen. “Should we - should we clean this up?”
“Nah,” Reigen says. “That’s not what they paid us for.”
Mob’s silent, crouched down and inspecting one of the steak knives wobbling in the floor. If he has an opinion, he doesn’t share it, but Serizawa doesn’t hide his uncertainty.
“But…” He glances around.
Objectively, Reigen can recognize the ghost had made a bit of a mess, but mostly he thinks Mariko will be ecstatic to have her house back. It wouldn’t be the first time he and Mob fled the crime scene before they could possibly be asked for compensation, and Reigen has too many worries in his life as it is to afford to feel guilty about something that’s a minor inconvenience at best.
Mob prods the knife. It wobbles but stalwartly does not fall. Serizawa is wringing his hands and looking at the egg yolk puddling on the floor.
Reigen sighs. He didn’t used to be this weak.
“Alright,” he says, rolling up his sleeves. Mob and Serizawa look up at him. “Let’s make this quick.”
Reigen cannot say the experience of plucking shards of porcelain from the sodden kitchen rug is one he wants to repeat, but it’s worth it to see the small, delicate smile Serizawa nurses as he wipes milk off the walls.
In the end, it’s not nearly as quick as Reigen had hoped. It takes a good two hours to get the kitchen back into a shape even approaching functional, and he sends Mob off after hour one.
The kid’s done enough for the day. He hadn’t signed up for playing maid until late into the evening and even Reigen isn’t so cruel as to keep him past dinner. Besides, Mob might be the mildest teenager he’s even met, but Reigen can’t say the same for his brother.
Reigen sighs loudly as he dumps the last of a shattered champagne flute in the bin. “I think that’s about the best we’re going to get.”
Serizawa looks up from where he’s crouched in the doorway giving the family’s cat a chin scratch. If the look on the cat’s face is anything to go by, she’s at least half as pleased with the arrangement as Serizawa is.
Reigen unrolls his sleeves and wryly says, “If you don’t give that cat some space it’ll probably follow us right out the door.”
Serizawa stands up, glancing out the window. “Oh - I hadn’t realized it’d gotten dark.”
Reigen glances at his watch. “It’s past eight now.”
Serizawa’s brow wrinkles. “We’ve left the clients at the park a long while.”
Reigen’s limited well of goodwill is long dried up. “I’m sure once they see what we’ve done for them, they’ll more than understand.”
Serizawa doesn’t look like he entirely agrees but he follows Reigen back towards the front door. The cat trails after him, meowing pathetically, and when Reigen pauses to shoot Mariko a quick message Serizawa bends down for one last sneaky cuddle.
“Aright,” Reigen says, snapping his phone closed. Serizawa lurches back to his feet, hands folded guiltily behind his back. “The clients will be back soon and I think it’s best if we scram before then.”
For once, Serizawa doesn’t disagree. Reigen locks the door behind them and takes care to drop the keys in the mailbox where Mariko said to leave them. She seemed like a rational woman, but many people do before they see the destruction Reigen is capable of leaving on their home.
“Come on,” Reigen says. “It’s nice out and I don’t think I can spring for another cab. Let’s walk to the station.”
Serizawa visibly cringes at the idea but he does a passable job of pretending not to. “If that’s what you want.”
“It’ll be good,” Reigen assures him. “Practice for being around lots of people.”
Serizawa grimaces, wringing his sweaty hands together. “I don’t know if I can - can do that. What if… what if I get upset?”
Reigen rolls his eyes and pats Serizawa heavily on the shoulder. “That’s what I’m right there for,” he says.
He wasn’t entirely sure if it’d be enough to soothe the demons from the edge of Serizawa’s mind, but amazingly the tense line of his shoulders relaxes, just ever so slightly, and the creases in his brow unravel. “Yeah,” he says, seemingly more to himself than Reigen. “Yeah, you’ll be there.”
Reigen stares. Seeing the way the mere offer of his company seems to reassure Serizawa is a heady thing to watch. He hadn’t even needed to make any promises, con his way into Serizawa’s good graces - Serizawa had done it all himself.
Reigen’s throat feels strangely tight.
They both jump, turning to spot the Yamamotos heading down the sidewalk towards them with cheerful smiles on their faces, none the wiser to the ruin of their home, and the no-money-back-guarantee clause hidden in the fine print of Reigen’s contracts.
Reigen waves back politely and then spins easily on his heel, grabbing Serizawa’s wrist. “Come on,” he says. “Time to make a break for it.”
In a plot twist that surprises all of them, Serizawa actually manages to fall asleep on the train.
It’s late enough that they’re not in want of seating, and he sits with his forehead pressed against the window, drooling and swaying with every twist and turn on the rails. Reigen stands beside him, one hand holding tight to the overhead handle and the other resting on Serizawa’s seatback, a solid wall between Serizawa and the carriage.
Serizawa doesn’t snore. Reigen’s not sure why he thought he would, to be honest. He finds himself reluctantly glad, because Reigen has and always will be a light sleeper.
It’s a good thing to know. Just in case.
The trains pulls into the station just shy of nine pm, and Reigen very gently shakes Serizawa awake. “We’re here,” he says.
Serizawa blinks at him for a second and then stumbles to his feet, following Reigen to the doors like a lost puppy. It’s not until they’re out on the platform that he finally seems to shake the fog of sleep from his mind.
“Sorry,” he says. “I didn’t mean to drift off like that.”
“It’s fine,” Reigen says. “You seemed like you needed it.”
The walk back to the office is mostly silent other than the sharp tap of their shoes on the pavement. Serizawa carries Reigen’s jacket for him, draped delicately over his arm and held well clear of the ground, and Reigen light up his first cigarette of the day as they go.
“You can head up if you want,” Reigen says when they reach the office. He taps ash off into the dry gutter. “I’ll only be a moment.”
“I can wait,” Serizawa insists.
Reigen hides his smile behind his cigarette. “If that’s what you want.”
Serizawa waits with him while Reigen finishes smoking. Above them, the street lights flicker on. “Come on,” Reigen says eventually, grinding out the butt of his cigarette beneath his heel. “Let’s head up.”
The office is just how he left it, empty and yet somehow strangely warm. It always seems warm these days, and somehow Reigen thinks it has less to do with the heating bill he refuses to pay and more to do with something else entirely.
Reigen flicks the ceiling lights on, and Serizawa gently drapes Reigen’s coat over the back of chair, smoothing the crinkles out with his fingertips. The care he takes borders almost on reverence. Reigen’s never seen him that careful with his own jacket.
Reigen watches him as he loosens his tie now that they’re quite done with clients for the day. It seems strange to think that the conversation with Sakurai had only been earlier today.
Sensing Reigen’s gaze, Serizawa looks up. If he’s at all bothered by Reigen’s staring it doesn’t show. “Would you like some tea?”
“Sure,” Reigen says. “Why not?”
Serizawa disappears into the tiny kitchen and Reigen takes his seat. He can feel the warmth from Serizawa’s hands lingering in the jacket behind his back and he leans into it with a yawn as he busies himself pretending to sort through the paperwork from the Yamamotos visit earlier.
He’s got a tiny cut at the base of his thumb where he’d caught himself on the shattered champagne glass and he rubs at it idly.
“Is everything okay?”
Reigen glances up as Serizawa sets down a fresh mug of tea with a soft clink. He’d made two, one for each of them, and Reigen is quietly proud of him for the initiative.
“Yeah,” Reigen says. “Everything’s fine.”
Serizawa drags over the chair from Mob’s little cashier stand and sits down across from him. His big hands curve around his own cup, easily spanning the cheap porcelain. “You’ve seemed…”
“Distracted,” Serizawa says. “You’ve seemed distracted today.”
Reigen thinks about that for a second, one hand nursing his tea and the other tapping the end of a pen lightly atop his desk. “Really? I didn’t notice.”
“I did,” Serizawa says, and something about the shy confidence of it sparks against the delicate flint of Reigen’s heart.
He tucks his smile behind a mouthful of tea, and Serizawa joins him. He doesn’t push, and they spend a few long, unspooling minutes drinking in companionable silence. It’s a lot like how things are with Mob, but also not anything alike at all.
Reigen thinks quietly, occasionally scrawling some cramped notes along his papers. Serizawa stares peacefully out the window. Reigen has long learnt that if left alone Serizawa is quite happy to observe the endless sprawl of the sky forever.
He supposes that’s what happens when you don’t see it for a dozen years. You need more than just one look to reassure yourself it’s still there.
Eventually Reigen sets down his pen. Serizawa glances back at him.
Reigen says, “Do I put too much pressure on you?”
Whatever Serizawa had expected him to say, it plainly hadn’t been that. The blank surprise on his face is almost funny. “Pressure me? You’ve never been anything but kind to me.”
“That’s not quite what I meant,” Reigen says. He thinks for a moment longer, tapping his nails, and then says, “Would it be better if I treated you… more like Mob and less like me?”
Serizawa’s brow raises and, in a remarkable show of perception, he says, “Less like an adult?”
Reigen holds up his hands. “Your words, not mine.”
Serizawa looks down and away. Reigen can see the way his fingers tighten around his mug and then instantly loosen, as if he’d immediately realized what he was doing. There’s a second there where all the furniture in the room seems to tremble, but it doesn’t move an inch.
Slowly, without looking up, Serizawa says, “I’d really like it if you didn’t… didn’t change the way you treated me.”
Reigen lets out a breath. “I didn’t plan to,” he says. “Like I told Sakurai - you’re an adult, and you can make your own choices about what you can and can’t take.”
Serizawa looks up, first only glancing at Reigen from the corner of his eyes, but then, with apparent effort, manages to look up fully. “Reigen, I -.”
Serizawa’s knee hits the underside of the table, and their cups leap into the air. They both jump forward at the same time to try and catch them, and at the very last second before they topple Serizawa seems to remember his powers and they lurch to a stop, suspended lazily turning in the air.
Reigen lets out a breath. His hands are pressed against the desktop, Serizawa’s fingers splayed an inch away, and he offers him a wry smile. “If you didn’t like the topic, you didn’t need to throw boiling water at me to get me to change it.”
Serizawa stares at him for a second, red in the tips of his ears from embarrassment and short of breath from panic. The table beneath their hands trembles again, and the cups floating in the air shiver. For a second Reigen thinks that Serizawa might snap, that he’s too worked up to keep control of himself, but a second later Serizawa’s long fingers encircle Reigen’s wrists, and then he’s leaning over the desk to clumsily kiss him.
It’s his first, that much is abundantly clear. Even if Reigen hadn’t been aware of Serizawa’s past, it’s a giveaway in the uncertain way his fingertips press gently into Reigen’s skin, the panicked way his mouth freezes for a second before he remembers to move it.
Reigen’s not bothered by it though. It’s been some time since Reigen has kissed somebody either, and he can’t think of anybody else he’d rather revisit this with than Serizawa.
What Serizawa lacks in experience he makes up for in enthusiasm, and Reigen cannot remember the last time somebody was this enthusiastic to kiss him. His lips tremble slightly, as does the desk pressing into Reigen’s stomach, but Serizawa’s control does not slip.
Eventually, Serizawa pulls back. His hands do not leave their position caught around Reigen’s wrists. “Was that - did I get that right?”
He looks indescribably anxious, as if Reigen could possibly have left anything at all open to interpretation at this point. It makes Reigen feel so fond that he might just drown in it.
Gently, Reigen pulls his hands back and Serizawa lets him. He rounds the desk, plucking the spinning cups from the air and placing them out of the way. Then Reigen sits on the corner of the desk, near enough that his knees brush Serizawa’s, and reaches for him again.
Reigen’s no psychic, not really, but he does his best to telegraph his every move as clear as he can. His fingers catch on the lapels of Serizawa’s suit jacket and he gives a sharp tug, thumbs smoothing along Serizawa’s crinkled shirt.
“You did,” Reigen says. “You should try it again, too.”
The look of relief on Serizawa’s face is only eclipsed by the broken, desperate adoration. It’s more emotion than Reigen is comfortable talking about right now, so he gives Serizawa’s jacket another pull and he obediently leans down again.
The second kiss lasts longer. Serizawa’s hands land on his waist this time, and when he shyly shuffles forward to stand between Reigen’s legs, Reigen opens them wider to make room.
In the quiet corners of his mind, Reigen cannot help but be unbearably smug. He thinks of Sakurai’s disapproving expression, and the too-careful way he’d said goodbye to Serizawa at the door. He can just imagine how the other former Claw members are going to react when they find out.
Serves you all right, Reigen thinks, fingers tangled in the knot of Serizawa’s tie. None of you seem to really understand him at all.
Eventually Serizawa pulls back. He’s breathing heavily and his red from the tip of his nose to the tips of his ears. It’s an incredibly endearing look on him, and for a moment Reigen considers reeling him back in but decides against it.
He’s too old to be making out on a desk like this. Serizawa’s too tall and the angle is far too awkward, and Reigen just knows his back’s going to be killing him tomorrow. It seems like a relatively small price to pay.
“Alright,” Reigen sighs, slipping off the desk. Serizawa immediately shuffles back to make room for him, hands darting out to keep Reigen steady. “Time to be responsible adults and not defile our workplace.”
“De - defile?”
Reigen offers him a wolfish smile as he digs the keys from his pocket, spinning them around his finger. “Well, maybe when we don’t have kids coming in and out of this office all damn day we could think about it again.” Then, before Serizawa can work himself up thinking about that sentence, he says, “How do you feel about sushi?”
“For dinner,” Reigen clarifies. “Normally I’d say ramen, but I don’t think it’s healthy to have that much salt in one day.”
Serizawa blinks and finally seems to rally. With a small smile, he says, “I don’t think sushi’s much better.”
Reigen collects his jacket from the back of his chair, but before he can put it on Serizawa pulls it gently from his hands. He holds it open for him, and Reigen only stares for a moment before he turns, allowing Serizawa to help him into it.
He clears his throat, unaccountably thrown by the small gesture. “Well, if not sushi then what?”
Serizawa’s hands smooth along his collar, thumbs brushing the warm skin of Reigen’s throat. “Sushi sounds good,” he says softly. “Thank you.”
Serizawa waits for Reigen downstairs as he finishes locking up the for the night, latching the windows and tucking away the money tin. He pauses at the door for a moment, savoring the soft warmth that radiates through the room like a gentle caress.
It feels a lot like how Serizawa’s fingers feel on his skin.
Reigen locks the office carefully, lingering for a moment with his palm pressed against the door, and then heads back downstairs to seek out the source of the beautiful, unending warmth.