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"Oh," Mob says, his voice small and unassuming, his expression a little surprised. "We’re already here?"

Reigen is surprised too, even though he’d been the one to schedule the train - he looks down at the crown of Mob’s head, observing the way his body sort of jolts and rocks to one side as the train lurches to a groaning pause on the tracks - but really, it hadn’t felt like two hours at all.

They had talked most of the way, about a number of things. School and work and the weather. A whole lot of nothing, in Reigen’s opinion, but after all, he's fairly good at talking about nothing. Mob had been pretty receptive too, but now he seems a little delayed, his eyelids heavier, not peeling back all the way as they were before. Reigen watches the way he stretches himself out, raising his arms over his head and flexing his legs out in front of him, thin bones elongating - he's wearing shorts today so it's easy to observe, pale skin and blueish veins, he’s got bony fucking knees.

Reigen averts his gaze, perfectly aware that his expression is bored. A calculated response.

"Guess so," he replies coolly. "I think it’s a bit of a walk to the hotel."

"That’s okay," Mob tells him, sweetly unbothered, the sentence cleaved in two by a yawn. "I don’t mind."

Reigen knows this is the truth, which is more than a little ridiculous. It’s a Saturday night and it’s still very warm even though it’s early spring, and he probably shouldn’t have asked Mob to come on this trip with him, but he did. He hadn’t expected Serizawa to pull out at the last minute, but it couldn’t be helped. It's too late for him to take it back now. He hardly expects that this is what any other fourteen-year-old would like to be spending their spring break doing, the kind that Mob would so desperately like to be similar to, but here Mob is, anyway. It's too late for him to take it back, too.

The job isn't until tomorrow, but the idea of traveling two hours one way and two hours back in the span of twenty-four hours seemed pretty abysmal to Reigen, so they’re here until Monday morning. If he hadn’t prepaid for everything he would have them leave tomorrow after the job, but. But -

Well, that’s just too bad, he supposes. Mob follows him off the train without delay, and together they step unfettered into the night.

"This isn't a city," Mob observes, yes, delayed was the correct word. He clearly hadn't been paying attention when Reigen had told him about the trip but he doesn't suppose that matters now.

It isn't a city, it's a decorated town that seems pretty tourist-heavy, a number of groups bustling along the streets even though it's dragging pretty deep into the night. All the shops will be closing up soon and the inns will be filled to the brim, swelling until they burst again in the morning. He had thought about telling Mob to bring his onsen shower caddy and maybe they could find one just to fill the time, he knows Mob likes them, but that seemed like a poor idea for a number of reasons. Actually, he hadn't told Mob to pack anything in particular, so he isn't sure what he brought - he considers that it's maybe a good thing Mob wasn't listening.

"No," he agrees at length. "Nice to have a change of pace though, isn't it?"

"I guess," Mob answers noncommittally, peering around. "It's still pretty loud."

Reigen claps him on the back, feeling the poke of his shoulder blades, the warmth of his back through the thin t-shirt, blue today. "I suppose it is."

Seeing Mob in casual colors is still something he's getting used to, so different from his inky gakuran. Colors like this make him look like there's actually some color to him, to his skin, his always looks so pale in that uniform of his, like he doesn't ever have nearly enough blood in him to get by. It kind of worries Reigen so he's glad to see him like this, glad to see some red in his ears, glad to see some sweat on the back of his neck from the stale heat in the air. All the better to know he's alive, especially with how much he's been thinning out lately.

This is puberty - for better or worse. Reigen doesn't look back on his own experience fondly, although Mob is finishing it up rather gracefully, in his opinion. Almost four years and he doesn't think he's ever spotted a single blemish on the kid's face, which is pretty unfair. He wonders if that's his powers at work, maybe, remembering how they can heal injuries, grow plants. He wouldn't put that sort of thing past them, really.

He's slipping his hands into his pockets now, glad it's something he typically does. He doesn't want it to look like he's just trying to keep them occupied. He adds, "We won't be out for long. What do you say we grab some dinner first, though?"

Mob doesn't usually need much convincing for this sort of thing and tonight is no different, which is good, because Reigen's starving. They make themselves comfortable at the counter of the first little ramen place they stumble across and Mob puts his elbows on the counter and his feet swing a little, hovering over the floor, heels skidding over the top of his overnight bag. He hasn't done this sort of thing in a couple of years so Reigen's interest is piqued by it.

"You seem fidgety," he mentions.

"Oh. Sorry." Mob stops, hooking his feet over one of the beams on the stool, indenting the flesh of his ankles. Reigen peers up at his face instead and Mob does look pretty apologetic, which makes him frown. "Is it bothering you?"

Reigen waves him off. "Not a bit. I just noticed." He begins to take off his jacket, the heat is already getting to him and he knows the steam of the ramen is just going to make it worse. "Something on your mind?"

"Yeah, I guess," Mob answers vaguely, the heels of his palms pressed into the seat by his hips, shoulders bowing in. "I'm just thinking."

"That's very dangerous," Reigen says sagely.

Mob hums, agreeing where most people would take offense, understanding that it's a joke half-way meant to be serious. Reigen admires this about him, that he misses a lot of societal norms but is able to pick up on all the weirder things that Reigen pelts at him. 

"Are you nervous about school?" he guesses.

"A little," Mob says. 

"Don't be. You'll do fine."

Mob gives him a flat look. "You keep saying that."

"Do I?" Reigen tugs at his tie. "Well, if I do it's only because I know that I'm right."

Ruthless as he's becoming with time, Mob dodges what would likely be a pretty easy rebuttal to this - Reigen would never admit it but he's made some pretty dumb decisions for and around Mob, especially during the last year. But Mob just sighs. "I can't just not be nervous, Shishou."

"I know that, of course," Reigen replies, loosening his tie a bit. "But you have nothing to be nervous about. You've already accomplished the difficult part - you were accepted to the school that you wanted, now all you've got to do is show up."

"And do well," Mob adds glumly. "And make new friends. And find clubs I'd like to join again."

"No exercise club at this high school?"

"I don't know." Mob shrugs. "I guess I don't mind starting my own."

Reigen rakes in the urge to reach across the gap between them and do something - however innocuous - like ruffle his hair, nudge him with an elbow. "See? You're already coming up with solutions."

"It isn't going to be easy."

"No, you're right about that," Reigen allows. "Good thing you're a very hard worker."

Mob is quiet for a long moment. "I think your opinion of me is too high, Shishou."

Reigen thinks there would be absolutely no contest for someone to be more correct than this, though Mob doesn't even know the context of it, the irony in what he's saying, too oblivious to appreciate it. He chooses to be grateful for it, and says nothing, excused of it when their bowls come and they eat. Mob says nothing either, and he is grateful for this, too, that he always seems to know when to let things drop.

He hardly ever smokes in front of Mob besides when he's especially agitated - for a while he'd managed to hide the habit from Mob altogether but once he had caught him doing it on a day Reigen hadn't asked him to come to the office but he had come anyway, and now there's really no point in pretending like he doesn't itch for it. He tries his best to restrict it to outdoor spaces because Mob has voiced that the smell bothers him in the past and that did something irreversible to Reigen's ego that he doesn't like to think about very hard; it's how he does it now, turning carefully away from Mob while he lights up, licking his thumb to put the match out between it and his forefinger.

"Doesn't that hurt?" Mob asks, with minimal alarm. Reigen glances at him on the inhale, mindfully tipping his head away again when he expels the smoke from his nose. 

He shakes his head. "At this point I suppose I'm used to it."

Mob sort of frowns. "Does that mean you do it often?"

"Wouldn't you like to know," Reigen replies smoothly. "No, Mob, it doesn't hurt."

"I ... don't know what it's like to be burned," Mob says after a pause, looking down at his own palms, spreading his fingers. "Fire doesn't hurt me."

That's news to Reigen. "Really?" he asks. "Are you being serious?"

Mob nods as if this is a very simple truth to him, dropping his hands. "When I was younger, the other kids in school thought it was pretty cool, I guess. They'd make me touch flames all the time."

Something slimy curls in Reigen's gut. "I don't want to hear about that."

"It didn't hurt me," Mob reminds him. "But ... I don't know. I kind of wish it did, so I could understand."

"You'd regret saying that as soon as it happened," Reigen assures him. "Plenty of people say it's the worst kind of pain there is. I suppose I don't have much to compare it to, but - well, I used to burn myself often when I first started smoking. It wasn't exactly fun."

"But you kept doing it."

Reigen gives him a sidelong glance. "It's just habit, Mob."

"Or you're addicted."

"If it pleases you," Reigen allows, keeping his voice easy-going, smiling. He doesn't need to let Mob know that it bothers him as it does. "I appreciate the concern."

"I just don't want you to be ill," Mob tells him, his voice and his posture and the look in his eyes as serious as a heart attack, and sure enough it kills Reigen's smile in record time. He blinks in that slow way of his again, he always does it as if it's deliberate, as if he has to remind himself that it's something he is supposed to be doing. "It's bad for you."

"Plenty of things are bad for me," Reigen dismisses. Mob's frown hasn't subsided, he doesn't seem very satisfied with this answer but Reigen doesn't know what he would have wanted him to say. He would do a lot of things for Mob but funnily enough, he doesn't think crushing this habit could be one of them.

Mob's eyes dip to the cigarette in his mouth with prosecution, as if the little roll of paper and nicotine and tar has convinced Reigen all on its own to put it between his teeth, as if he hasn't made the decision on his own. He says, sounding a bit disappointed, "If you say so."

It stings a bit, seeing that sort of feeling reflected in his eyes - that's not a new talent on Mob's part. In all his life Reigen has never seen such eyes as Mob's.

Sometimes, in his more hysterical moments, he has wanted to ask if he'd plucked them right out of some old dead god buried deep under the surface of the earth and just used them to replace whatever ones he was born with - it just seems more likely than the alternative. That depth certainly isn't a psychic quality, no other esper has ever matched it and oh, Reigen would know if they had, he has paid close attention. He wonders what it says on his medical papers, dark brown, or if they would just say black as night, or as forbidden day, as the horrible things about yourself that you have to keep locked away. Reigen knows all about blackness. This is why he is drawn to Mob like a moth to a lamp; he is all about illumination.

He stamps the cigarette out when he's about halfway through it, because they reach the hotel a bit sooner than he'd thought and he doesn't want to make Mob wait for him. Checking in is easy, getting to the room is easier - he has to try the key a couple of times, it's clearly old, but after a couple of firm jostles the door shivers and whines its way open like a broken jaw. Well ... he hadn't promised that the place would be nice.

He is more relieved than he ought to be when they step into the room and he sees two beds. He must have sounded feral on the phone, checking and double-checking, he knows, asking them to make sure that there were two, there would have to be two, maybe they should throw them a futon for good measure, just to be safe. He stalls at this thought, because, speaking of -

"Are you alright in a bed?" he wonders, stepping aside to let Mob in through the door. "I know you’ve said you typically sleep on a futon."

Mob steps in, tipping his head to the side as Reigen shuts the door behind them. "It should be fine," he says quietly. 

"I could go ask for one," Reigen offers, already turning the knob to go back to the desk, but Mob is shaking his head fast.

"Shishou, it’s really fine. The only reason I use a futon at home is - well, I …" he trails off, and it takes Reigen a moment in the dim light to realize that he’s a little flushed. "I, um, used to make things float."

Reigen blinks. "What, you mean - in your sleep?"

"Yeah." Mob shrugs, clearly embarrassed. "But I’m older now, I can control my powers better. I’m used to the futon at home, but it should really be okay."

Reigen can't help but picture an even tinier Mob, found drifting among a collection of hovering furniture in his room as a small child, and feels what is bound to be an overwhelming amount of affection if he lets it sit for too long, so he slams the lid on it best he can and takes a breath. "Well, don't be afraid to say so if you change your mind."

"Okay," Mob says unobtrusively. Reigen resents this a little, his heart aching, sometimes he really wishes Mob would push because more often than not it seems like he's a step away from suffocating, forcing himself to take up as little space in this world as humanly possible. He knows it would hurt Mob to hear him say this, though, for how determined he is at trying to better himself, so he would never reveal that he feels this way, much as it kills him little by little every time. For Mob to not know how wonderful he is - and more than this, that there are others who simply walk by him on the street and in the hallways at school, willfully ignorant to how extraordinary he is - is a bodily painful thing.  

He goes to set his overnight bag on the bed nearest the window, opposite the door, then hesitates. "Uh, preference?"

"This is fine," Mob says with a shrug, climbing on the adjacent bed already, dragging his bag up with him. He crawls up the length of it halfway on his hands and knees, his hair swinging like a curtain off his forehead, then sits up and shuffles forward just on his knees instead, reaching for the lamp on the table perched between their beds. It flickers on, filling the room with a more acceptable amount of light than the dull one that's flickering overhead. He gives an odd couple of rocks of his body and Reigen realizes with muted hilarity that he's bouncing on the bed a little, but with a clinical look to his face as if there's nothing childish to the motion at all, like he's just testing out the function of the springs.

"Comfortable?" Reigen asks, hearing the infatuation in his own voice, hoping it sounds more like amusement to Mob.

"Mhm," Mob hums vaguely, giving him no indication, of course, and settles back to sit on his heels. He drags his bag into his lap and begins to unzip it. 

Reigen asks, "Do you want to shower?"

"Yeah. It's really gross outside." His nose wrinkles a bit as he says it. Then he looks up. "Do you want to go first, Shishou?"

"No, no." Reigen shakes his head. "You go ahead. Just, ah - make sure you've got something to wear on your feet in there. Who knows what kind of people were in here before us."

"Yes, Shishou," Mob answers obediently, gathering up some clothes in his arms and going. At least the bathroom door shuts pretty easily, closing him up in the tiny room with a click. Just one click - he doesn't lock the door. Reigen doesn't know when he started noticing these sorts of things but he desperately wishes he could stop. 

He's halfway through the complimentary channels on the television when Mob emerges, trying to find something worth watching and so far having come up with nothing except a dumb little game show he knows Mob would like but that he personally wouldn't be able to stomach. 

"Anything good?" Mob asks right away, his voice still somewhere over by the door. Reigen's squinting down at the little guide that came with the room, his vision has really been getting a lot worse these days. At twenty-eight he feels like his youth is slipping away faster than ever, though he knows there are plenty of people - his own family included, his sister especially, who just turned thirty-two - who would strangle him for saying so. 

"I am loath to report the opposite," Reigen tells him distractedly. 

Mob's footsteps pad over to the space between their beds. "That's okay, I don't really feel like watching anything."

"Aren't kids all about television these days?"

"I think that's when you were a kid, Shishou."

"Oh, what do you know," Reigen says wryly, tossing the guide back onto the table. He looks over at Mob in time to see him put his folded clothes away in a separate section of his overnight bag and tries very hard not to be weirded out by the fact that Mob apparently feels comfortable enough with him to come out in a t-shirt and underwear and nothing else. Not that - not that he shouldn't be comfortable, but ... well.

It's unexpected, that's all. Reigen would like to say he'd been expecting him to be a pajama-set type of kid but then he'd have to admit he'd been expecting anything at all, so instead he just watches the bend in Mob's knees and elbows and wrists and then, briefly, considers finding a fork to stick in the nearest electrical socket before he gathers himself enough to get his own clothes out.

"I won't be a minute," is what he says as he lets himself into the bathroom, and Mob just gives him a small hum in response as he hits his bed, clearly pretty tired. With any luck, he'll be out before Reigen even gets under the water.

Mercifully his instinct is right, because he finishes up and towels himself dry and gets himself dressed, and the room is dim when he opens the door back up, silent but for the sound of Mob's soft gentle breathing. He's cocooned up in the blankets, his hair fanned out against the pillows, and he has shut off every light in the room but the lamp, clearly being mindful of Reigen in doing so. 

So Reigen sighs, relieved and dreadfully heavy with affection. As he comes between the beds he says, to Mob's sleeping face, "You're not so bad, kid."

Mob's nose has started to wrinkle, a few clumps of half-dried hair poking at it, and Reigen reaches over to brush them back off of his forehead, sticking them to the crown of his head instead. Mob's face relaxes subsequently, and he turns a little deeper into the pillow, sleepy, nuzzling. Reigen thinks that this feeling could rewrite his whole existence, if only he'd allow it to. He could live to feel this way, to chase after it. In a way he thinks he maybe has - he has almost died for Mob a number of times and he knows he would do it all over again in a moment, if Mob needed him in such a way again. Looking at him like this, safe and warm and relaxed enough to sleep, Reigen knows he would do it. God, Mob wouldn't even have to ask.

Then again, he's never asked. Reigen draws his hand back, doing his best to wilt the bloom of devotion. Still, as he tucks himself away in his own bed for the night, exhausted from the travel, exhausted from the race of his mind, the image of it won't leave his mind:

Mob coming to, his hand still clutched in Reigen's, his black eyes finding peace again as they looked into Reigen's. All under the sun of his darkest day, all covered in dust and in debris - and all as he had readied himself to confess to someone else.

 

 

In the morning they eat cheap breakfast out of a 7-11, walking and chewing, talking with their mouths full. It's a bit colder today so Reigen has brought a jacket and Mob a hoodie, the weather the kind of unpredictable that comes this time of year. The job is an easy one, much easier than he would have predicted - he should really learn not to underestimate Mob after everything he's seen him do - and besides this, Mob's been seeming more powerful lately, ever since the day Spice City saw the knot of Mob's nebula ... as if some cap had been popped, as if the event had shaken him up like a bottle of champagne. He honestly is a little surprised, despite Mob's insistence, that he hadn't caught anything floating around in the night.

"I really ought to give you a raise, Mob," he's saying to Mob as they walk, steering him through the town with no real sense of direction, or knowledge of where to go. "Sometimes I really don't know what I'd do without you."

Mob barely looks up at him. "Serizawa-san has been helpful, Shishou," he says, in a tone that almost sounds scolding. "He's really powerful, too."

Reigen thinks of that blast from Suzuki that would have easily been the end of him had Serizawa not chosen exactly the right moment to be of use. He mutters, "You certainly don't have to remind me of that."

"You're welcome to pay me more whenever you want, though."

"Pointless investment at this rate, how do I know you won't just run off with the money?"

Mob gives him a look that he may daresay looks amused. "What do you think I would do with it, if I did?"

"That's a very interesting question," Reigen replies, tipping his head. Mob has never struck him as having any interest in any financial gain, really - he never talks about material things he wishes he had, all of his goals are mostly invisible to the eye. "Maybe you'd buy a lifetime supply of powdered milk."

Mob makes a tired sound. "You always tease me about that."

"It's a compliment. Powdered milk doesn't spoil, you'd be able to store it indefinitely. It would be a smart choice."

"You're still teasing."

Reigen shrugs, he won't deny it. "Cut me some slack, Mob. I've got to keep you humble somehow."

Mob pauses at a rather large crack in the cement, then deftly leaps over it, landing gracefully on both feet. "I guess I just wonder why you don't choose something else to pick on."

"Name it."

Mob looks up at him, and as a rush of wind flutters his fringe Reigen can see the intrigued pulse of his brow. "My hair," he says fittingly.

Not a very good place to start, considering how much Reigen adores this about him, but then again, if there's one thing in this world that Reigen is good at - "Something other than a bowl-cut wouldn't kill you."

Mob purses his lips. "My conversational skills."

"I've had better day-to-day discussions with toddlers, to be sure," Reigen muses. "And acorns."

Mob huffs. "My grades."

"Can't you be more like your brother?"

Mob actually laughs at this, breaking into a rare smile that gets Reigen smiling, too, their elbows knocking together as Mob sways closer with the force of his mirth. When it subsides he looks down upon himself, swinging a leg out a little further than natural before he plants it to keep moving forward. "My body," he offers.

Reigen takes a breath. "Oh dear," he says gently, thinking of Mob's great determination, that race he had worked so hard for. He cannot help but follow Mob's gaze to today's pair of shorts, loose around his pale legs, the caps of his knees sort of red from the wind. "I certainly can't tease you about that."

Mob seems very interested in this. It sets off a few alarms in the very back of Reigen's mind, slamming his heart sideways into his ribs - this hyper-awareness is going to make him go mad if he isn't careful, or worse if he is too careful. These days it's all about rock, Arataka, hard place. "Why not?"

"Ah," Reigen says, shooting a hand out of its pocket to palm the side of Mob's head, giving him just enough of a shove to make him stumble. "I'd hate to make you cry, that's all."

"You're the one who's always crying, Shishou," Mob points out heartlessly.

"Sheesh!" Reigen exclaims, choking a bit, having to cough a few times to keep his voice clear of shock. "You're getting more and more ruthless every day, Mob. I'm kind of impressed."

"Well ... I'm a slow learner," Mob says too casually, coming to stop at an intersection, rocking forward a bit on the balls of his feet, like there's something inside that he can't quite figure out how to contain. "But I learn."

Reigen hums, a bit uncomfortable, tugging at his collar. "You must have a good teacher."

"I do."

The wind has stopped. No wonder he feels very hot under all these layers, all of a sudden. He clears his throat, willing himself to calm. "Well, that aside. What would you like to do with the rest of the day, Mob?"

Mob's answer is a bit delayed. "... Me?"

"Yes, you," Reigen replies easily, adjusting the strap on his watch, aware of Mob's eyes following every move he makes. He hopes beyond hope that he isn't catching onto anything and vows to just not look at Mob for as long as he can naturally get away with it. "You did all the work, as usual. We could do whatever you like."

"Oh," Mob says quietly, as the streetlight allows them to cross and they do so, his footsteps faster than Reigen's, more of them to compensate for having shorter legs. "Um ... what would you want to do?"

Reigen laughs. "That might be a new record, Mob."

"W-well," Mob stammers, "I - I just ... I want to make sure we do something you'll enjoy, too."

"I'm fine with anything. You know I'm not picky."

"No, but ... but, if I said I wanted to sit and watch ants all day, or if I wanted to jump into a pond with all our clothes on, you wouldn't like that."

Reigen considers both of these ideas with a great amount of distaste. "Okay, you've got me there. But you wouldn't suggest those things."

Mob makes a noise that sounds kind of put out. "No, I wouldn't."

Reigen heaves a sigh, clenching his hands in his pockets. "You've got an idea, haven't you?" he asks, knowing it's true just from how the air stills beside him, as though Mob has evaporated from it entirely. "Spit it out, Mob. It's not that I don't care - it's that I trust you to choose something we'll both enjoy, okay?"

"Okay," Mob says. "Well, um ... there is, I have, something. Yes. An idea." He sounds very nervous, which in turn fills Reigen with something nervy too, and he resents this, how infectious Mob tends to be. "I think, maybe, it'd be nice to ... walk through some of the gardens here."

Out of all the things Reigen might have guessed that he would say, that wouldn't have been one of them. Now he does look at Mob, before he can think better of it, and sees that he has tucked his hands into the folds of his hood, bunching it up around his neck to his chin. He looks sheepish, a little splotchy - it's that time of year for allergies, Reigen reasons. He stops walking, pulling over to the side to let others by, and Mob stumbles a little at the suddenness of it, but does the same.

"Is that really what you want?" Mob nods - sort of stiffly, but it's a nod all the same. Reigen gives a nod of his own in reply. "Then that's what we'll do."

Mob looks up at him, his face still relatively impassive although his eyes are a touch wider than they generally are. "Really?"

"It's the season for it," Reigen allows him. "Why not?"

He regrets the words as soon as they're out - not for Mob's reaction, because there isn't much of one beyond an unbothered blink and a shrug, but because it echoes in his head enough times that he barely catches himself from saying it out loud a second time.

Why not. Why not. He could think of many reasons. For fuck's sake, why shouldn't they do something as casual as walking through the park while all the cherry blossoms are in full bloom? It is a perfectly normal thing to do. For pairs of people, no less. For couples. And for a moment he hesitates after all, about to retract, to tell Mob that he's actually pretty tired, diving face-first into a pond might be just the thing he needs to wake him up, but -

But now Mob gives another one of his rare smiles, smaller this time, wholly genuine. His eyes kind of squint as he speaks: "Thank you."

Reigen stalls. The fight drains out of him. Stubborn as he is against most other threats to his life, the hold that Mob has on him will always be the underbelly that he cannot shield. Weaknesses and where to find them. Achilles and his heel. Reigen and his heart, and who it belongs to.

But what he says is, "Yeah, yeah," and for good measure he starts walking away swiftly, without so much as another glance in Mob's direction. Because regardless of recommended volume, Reigen Arataka does not make a living by pouring his heart out. 

The parks are long and wide and deftly connected with slick grey paths, cool tones against the purples and pinks of the trees, and the deeper variety of the flowers below. They don't make it very far into the gardens before Mob finds his first distraction - an old-looking tire swing on the edge of an oddly-placed playground - which is fine by Reigen, who appreciates the excuse to stop and take some photos. 

"These would look nice if I printed them for the office, don't you think?" he asks Mob, despite the fact that he doesn't seem to be paying much attention - he's pretty spacey today, really.

Even now he blinks like he's snapping himself out of a daydream and looks down at the screen of the camera Reigen shoves into his face. "Oh. Those look great."

"Might be good for business, too, if we can show that we'll travel for a job," Reigen muses, exiting out of the gallery, positioning himself to take another photo. "Don't you think?"

"I don't know," Mob answers. "Maybe."

Reigen tosses him a look, then turns to the ground, where he toes at an acorn until it scatters noisily over the path. "What do you think?" he asks it.

"You're annoying," Mob says flatly, looking very unamused.

Reigen shrugs. "I've been called worse."

Mob swings his legs out, swaying on the swing. "I just don't have a lot of things to say, Shishou."

"Probably a good thing," Reigen tells him, snapping a couple of photos of the treeline, admiring where the green of oak melts into cherry blossom-pink. "Can you imagine what it would be like, if you were as talkative as me? We'd be insufferable."

"Yeah," Mob agrees, still sounding very distracted. His hands kind of slip down the ropes of the tire swing - there's a third one behind him keeping the tire flat, kind of pressing into his neck, and Reigen wonders absently if it feels cold against his skin - and he leans forward a bit to peer at Reigen a little more easily. "Would you take a picture of me?"

Reigen blinks. He wasn't expecting that. "Do you want me to?"

Mob lifts just one shoulder, pursing his lips a little. "I guess so. Do you think I look okay?"

Reigen feels something warm and unnamed - he tells himself it's unnamed - settle in his stomach, and he fights to keep his expression blank. "Of course. You look just fine." 

"Then will you?"

"If you're twisting my arm," Reigen mutters, circling around him, not missing Mob's pointed look. "I'm joking, Mob."

"Your jokes are mean."

"You're the one who asked for it earlier," he reminds him, lifting the camera and catching Mob's tired sigh through the lens. "Smile."

Mob does, gently so, pulling his legs up and shuffling to fold them over the front lip of the tire. The gradient of color behind him and the beam of sun cutting through the scatter of leaves do make for a nice photo, making him glow around the edges, luminescent. Reigen takes a few pictures at varying distances, trying to find where the light hits him best, but of course there isn't much of a way to ruin a picture of Mob. In the end he takes about five of them before lowering the camera again, and Mob leans forward in interest. 

"How did they come out?"

"Very nice," Reigen says honestly, carefully, scrolling through them now in the gallery. Without thinking he adds: "You look very handsome."

Mob makes a short noise - Reigen is already clawing inwardly for an idea on how to backtrack without insulting him. "Is that what you think?"

Reigen scrambles for a moment longer before he realizes that floundering in silence will only make this look much worse, so he drops the camera into his pocket and blurts, "Sure, you'll do." 

Mob's brow jumps. Moron, Reigen thinks. You absolute fucking moron. "I'll -"

"We're burning daylight, Mob," Reigen interrupts, waving a hand. "Come on, we've still got plenty to see."

"Wait," Mob says, a bit urgent, and then he gasps and his voice jumps. "Shi - shou!"

Reigen had already shuffled by him but now he stumbles in his haste to turn back, his heart giving a small jump at the gravity of Mob's tone - and then he stops when he sees what's happened, a surprised noise escaping him. Mob's body has sunk down through the middle of the tire, bending him in half, his shoulders and knees stuck over the top. He's huffing already, trying to push himself up with his elbows - he must have slipped in a clumsy attempt to climb quickly off of the swing. 

"Shishou," he's saying, with the faintest level of alarm slicing through his typical monotone. "Shishou, help."

Reigen wants to, though it isn’t an easy task while bent in half himself, with an absolutely lethal wave of laughter. It bubbles up before he can stop it, and suddenly he's staring at the ground, tears in his eyes.

"Don't laugh!" Mob cries.

"I’m - oh god, Mob -" Reigen manages through it, his voice jumping with burst after burst of relentless gasps for air. "Okay, I'm - hold on -" He takes Mob by his hands and tries to hoist him up - but the motion brings his torso closer into his knees and his body just slips further down into the middle, his feet and hands and the crown of his head now stuck straight up through the center of the tire and Reigen loses it again, letting go of his hands to clutch helplessly at his own face as he giggles.

"Shishou," Mob says with a bit more urgency, his voice muffled. His cheeks are kind of squished between his knees.

"I’m sorry, I’m so sorry," Reigen wheezes. "I don’t - I don’t know how to help -"

Mob’s hands kind of wave around as he scrambles for purchase on anything at all. "Just - just push? Shishou!"

"Okay, okay," Reigen heaves. He takes Mob by the soles of his sneakers, palms flat against rubber, and gives him a downward shove. 

It was a good instinct. All at once Mob tumbles out of his tire swing, the backs of his shoulders hitting the ground hard, followed by his head and the rest of his spine. It’s quite a sickening thud and he winces when it happens, and Reigen does his best to ask are you okay but mostly just a series of gasps is what he ends up forming. He’s on the ground now too, right next to him, laughing so hard he has to support himself on his knees and an elbow while he clutches at his stomach. 

"You’re so mean," Mob whines at him, his feet still hooked over the tire swing, lifting his lower back off the ground a bit. His hair is swept back off his face, he’s probably going to have bright green stains all over his back. Reigen does his best to take deep breaths, nearly heaving, and Mob takes a handful of grass, yanking it out of the ground and throwing it right in his direction. "Stop it."

"I’m sorry," Reigen says again, with more clarity this time around. Tears have started slipping over his face and he wipes them away now, his breathing slowly evening out. "Mob. Mob. That was the best thing I’ve ever seen." 

"Maybe I’ll use my powers to shove you in the swing," Mob threatens, looking at him pointedly. "We’ll see if you’re laughing then."

"Scary. We both know you aren’t petty enough for that," Reigen says, calm enough at last to get through the sentence without falter. He sits back on his knees, looking down upon Mob’s flushed face, his narrowed black eyes. Like this he can see the furrow of his brow and his heart takes a mighty swoop. Now Mob scoots his feet out of the tire swing too, his ass hitting the ground with a dull noise and his thin knees bending and spreading and his heart does something worse - dirtier - and he forces himself to turn away, staring at the treeline beside him. "Sorry, Mob."

Mob kind of grunts, rubbing a hand over a red cheek, then reaching back to grab at the nape of his neck. He winces. "Ow."

Reigen remembers the thunk of his head and feels worse than ever, sobered up. "Are you okay?"

"No," Mob says, but it's in a very particular way that Reigen knows is meant to sound teasing. He frowns. "I think I hurt my neck."

"Bad?" Reigen asks, a little more alarmed now, leaning over him. "Let me see."

Mob cranes his head up and Reigen pulls the neck of his sweatshirt down a bit, trying to survey for any bruising or unnatural lumps where bone is supposed to lay flat. "I don't think it's bad."

"Turn so I can look," Reigen tells him anyway, tapping his chin on one side. Mob does it, letting Reigen feel around the back of his neck, arching it up to let his fingers slide underneath with less effort. "Does that hurt?"

"A little," Mob answers. Reigen pushes his fingers in a bit more and is relieved to see he doesn't wince - instead though he sighs, sinking back against Reigen's touch. "I really think it's okay."

Reigen makes a noncommittal noise, finding it very difficult to listen, suddenly. Mob is staring up at him from under his eyelashes, his arms kind of splayed beside his face, his neck tilted up by Reigen's palm. His bare knee is nudging against Reigen's calf on the ground - and then Reigen realizes how odd they must look in this position to passers-by and withdraws himself, flustered.

"Can you sit up?" he manages after a moment, swallowing hard, and Mob nods, pushing himself up to do it. "We'll just take it easy for the rest of the day. No more swings."

"Okay," Mob agrees easily, a little sheepish. Reigen stands, offers Mob a hand, and helps him stand, too. "I never got to see the pictures."

"Ah," Reigen manages, patting himself down until he feels the lump of it in his pocket and remembers he put it there. He pulls it out and hands it without ceremony to Mob, who takes it automatically and then frowns like he regrets doing it immediately. "Why don't you take some for a while?"

"What?" Mob seems a little startled. "But - I don't think they'll come out very good -"

"Mob, it's taking photos of trees, not a fashion shoot," Reigen says blandly. "You'll be fine. Just take some of whatever you think looks nice."

Mob still doesn't look very convinced, but Reigen is already walking away and he moves quickly to follow. Eventually he whispers, in a voice that sounds almost thoughtful: "Whatever I think looks nice?"

"Sure. I trust your instinct."

It's supposed to be an innocent allowance - it should be innocent, nothing there to make it anything otherwise, but before they even make it to the canopies of pink Reigen hears the snap of the camera, and when he turns to question Mob's sudden eagerness he finds himself staring right into the lens. 

Mob's hands are shaky when he lowers the camera. And Reigen ... he realizes with some delay that he has stopped walking, a bit slack-jawed. Mob's face is as pink as the treeline, he could take a couple of steps back and blend right in. Reigen shuts his mouth with a click but cannot shake this feeling, the squirmy kind-of-dirty one, like he's caught Mob in the act of doing something very indecent. He waits for Mob to stutter, to splutter, to give some kind of aborted explanation as to why he would have just done such a thing, but no such thing comes.

Fuck it all, though, this silence is deafening. Reigen unsticks just one foot from the ground, shuffling himself just enough to face Mob a little better. He manages with some difficulty, "... Mob?"

Mob opens his mouth, then shuts it. Then he blurts: "You said -"

"I know what I said," Reigen interrupts.

Mob is staring at him like he can't figure out how to look away. Of course, of course - this is Mob. He could never do something so bold, undaunted, so ... forward. Not without any regret to follow it up, anyway. A strangled sound escapes him and then he says, "I'm sorry."

Reigen inhales, feeling a bit jilted. On the exhale he turns away, forcing a bit of a smile. "You should know by now I'm not very easily flattered, Mob."

"Yes. I know," Mob whispers.

But something is between them now, suspended as gracefully as an anvil on floss, weighing Reigen down by the throat. It makes it painful to swallow but he does it anyway. One day, Mob really is going to be the death of him, and it will be humiliating not because he won't see it coming but because he will walk forward willingly into the foot of that grave and fall in face-first. This feeling is not pleasant, it isn't relieved. Any time thoughts of this have snuck up on him, of Mob reciprocating whatever this delusional infatuation is, he has always felt a deep sense of dread and grief and it isn't any different now. Fire is no match for this kind of pain. He'd burn alive any day, comparatively. 

"I'm sorry," Mob says again, and this time he knows he isn't talking about the photograph.

Reigen shakes his head. "You've done nothing wrong."

"Are you upset with me?"

"Never," Reigen answers gravely. "Never. It's just ... there are better things to set your sights on."

Mob's voice is quieter than ever. "I don't think that's true."

Reigen chews on his lip, uncharacteristic, he has no such habit. "I understand. But ..."

Mob is shuffling closer, slowly but surely, and he knows beyond knowing that he has to shut this down. He doesn't want to have to think of what to say next, or how to navigate this kind of conversation, how to confront the fact that he wishes he could entertain this but cannot. The sky is so open today, the sun is strong, but the cold clings to them anyway. It is what they deserve. But they do not deserve this - Reigen for one reason, Mob for another. He feels wretched. He knows what he is supposed to be.

"But?" prods Mob; patience is not one of his talents.

"Well, look," Reigen replies quietly, gazing over the wide field they've entered, cherry blossoms scattered, wisteria trees dripping like purple-pink paint into the green of the grass. "Go on, Mob. It's so beautiful."

He hears Mob exhale beside him, close to his shoulder. "Yeah," he says. 

He is coming closer anyway, his shoulder coming to press flush against Reigen's side. At first Reigen tries to convince himself that he's maybe trying to get by so he starts to shuffle forward, but then he feels Mob's hand sliding into his pocket, slow and deliberate, alongside his own. Then, intrepidly, five fingers curl around his palm.

Reigen snaps his head down to look at him, startled, but Mob isn't looking back at him. His eyes are fixed on the ground, his ears are very red. Reigen's throat begins to tighten, his mouth running dry - signs of a snake bite, of venom closing in.

"Shishou," Mob whispers. His fingers sort of flex, then slide around, pressing into the spaces between Reigen's fingers. "Please."

Reigen isn't sure what on earth he could be asking for but he already wants to give it to him, no questions asked. He turns away to look up at the sky and flexes his fingers back. Concession. "... Alright."

Mob's body is turned perpendicular to his own, covering where they're connected, he's being smart about this. Which means that it can't be explained away by anything other than what Reigen is sure that it is, and all at once he feels that dreadful-guilty feeling, but elated, too, and somewhat devastated. Mob is intelligent in the most dangerous of ways. He is wise. He should have known that he had no chance of remaining opaque.

"Am I ..." Mob begins shakily, and he must be very nervous because Reigen can feel the staticky crackle of his powers against his palm, even though he can't see it yet in his hair or his eyes, places others would see it too. "Are you freaked out?"

Reigen narrowly avoids laughing right in his face. Okay, so maybe he hadn't been transparent, after all. That's fine - it is so much more like Mob to have unknowingly tricked him into confirming something so grave. He raises an eyebrow in a sympathetic way, and calmly answers, "No."

Mob is surely holding onto that shred of wisdom, though, because as a larger group of people approach, circling around them in passing and laughing and looking, Reigen pulls pointedly away from him, and he does not try to follow. He simply slips his hand away from Reigen's and clutches the camera with both hands again, his mouth twitching. 

Reigen claps his hands together, desperate to dissolve the atmosphere, and Mob actually jumps a little. "Okay. Come on, Mob. We've still got plenty to see. Only a few hours until dark."

Mob makes another soft noise, assenting. Where he had seemed distracted before he seems almost laser-focused now, his eyes on Reigen's hands and face and shoulders, rinsing over all of him. His determination really is something to behold once he's gotten going, once he's been given an inch. 

"I should have said something," he says at length, as they begin to move forward.

Reigen is shaking his head before he's even halfway through the sentence. "Enough," he says lowly. "Another time, Mob."

Mob says nothing to this. Instead they descend into the gardens, and somewhere between here and there, between touching and talking, between photographs and dinner, they manage to find peace in the silence.

 

 

When night comes and they return to the hotel, full again from ramen and walking on sore legs, Reigen repeats last night's ritual and finds Mob asleep when he exits the shower. He finds himself leaning against the wall by the door of the bathroom, wrought with something other than exhaustion. Their train is at nine in the morning. This trip was a mistake but it's almost over, Mob is already asleep. Soon he will be too, and then they'll be too busy getting ready to meet the train to talk about anything. He hopes. He hopes.

Falling asleep is easy. Waking up - and not when he had intended to, not with the earlier morning light, and not with the promise of check-out and a mad dash for the station - is much more difficult.

It's as dark in the room as it was when he'd first laid down, so it's a struggle to keep his eyes open when there's no real difference between doing that and keeping them closed. For a moment he's ready to roll over and pass right out again, unaware of where he even is, that it's anywhere different from his own apartment and his own bed; the sound of muted shuffling a few feet to his left is what reminds him. 

He's on his stomach so it takes a bit of work to lift his head from the pillow, worse when he has to blink about a hundred times to try and make out the shape of him through the dark. He asks, his voice hoarse with disuse, "Mob?"

He's expecting a quiet reply, an assurance that he's just getting up to use the bathroom, or that he's too hot to sleep under all the covers and is shifting around to try and get more comfortable, but none of this comes. Instead the shuffling grows considerably louder, and a little more frantic - and then he hears a ragged gurgle, close to a whimper. Crying. Mob is crying.

A foreign genre of terror squeezes his heart. He sits up more urgently, dragging himself out from under the sheets. "Hey, Mob?!"

He reaches for the lamp, the light drenching the room in yellow. He has to squint in it just a bit and he climbs fully off the bed ... but Mob is asleep. Crying, yes, but still asleep. He is tangled up loosely in his sheets, his hands clenching and unclenching, his chest heaving and his face red and streaked with fresh tears. 

A nightmare? Reigen wonders, and is careful upon his approach, reaching out to touch Mob very gently on the shoulder. When Mob doesn't react he gives him a gentle shake. 

Mob doesn't jolt out of it - it's slower than that, a transition of sorts, a few shuddering breaths through his open wet mouth and the bob of his throat, his knees pulsing up against his chest. Though his body relaxes, Reigen feels it; one by one his muscles loosen up a bit from where they've locked into place, his hands flexing and opening, his eyelashes clumped together with tears as he opens his eyes, blinking in the light. He rolls over onto his back quite suddenly, looking up at the ceiling with a furrowed brow, looking very confused ... and then his head lolls over and he looks right at Reigen.

Mob's mouth forms the word a couple of times before any sound actually escapes him: "What ..."

Reigen withdraws his hand, sitting carefully on the edge of the bed. "Bad dream?" he asks.

"I - I, uh ..." Mob wets his lips, reaching up to wipe at his face - when he pulls his hands away he stares at them like he's shocked to see that they're wet. He whispers, "I don't ... remember."

Reigen nods. "Maybe that's for the best," he reasons. "It seemed sort of brutal."

Mob takes a final shuddering breath, then looks at him again, opening his eyes wide in a way that looks forced. Or scared. "Did I wake you up?"

"No, no," Reigen lies easily, shaking his head. "I've been up. I was reading."

If Mob knows this is a lie he doesn't show any sign of knowing it. "I'm sorry," he says gently, looking like he means it. "I didn't mean to make you worry."

"I'm physically incapable of not worrying about you, Mob." Reigen reaches over and plucks something invisible out of Mob's hair, then hesitates before he ruffles it for good measure. "You're a magnet for trouble, you know that?"

Mob doesn't reply to this right away. He nudges his forehead into Reigen's palm, slipping his left eye shut when Reigen's thumb falls over its adjacent eyebrow. "I think ... I think it might have been a dream about you," he confides.

Reigen tries to take the information at face value, careful not to react very much. "Forgot to pay you after a job again, did I?"

Mob sighs, then slowly he pulls his arms to his sides and props himself up to sit, drawing his bare legs to his chest, bony knees protruding under his chin. "You forgot to pay me today, Shishou."

Reigen wonders exactly how much force it would take to successfully put his own head through the wall. "Right."

"You know I don't mind," Mob points out, wrapping his arms around himself. "I don't come with you for the money."

If Dimple were here he'd say what money? and for once Reigen doesn't think he'd mind, not even a little bit. He knows Mob wanted him to take the bait on this one, he can see it in the way he is peering expectantly at him, but he won't do it. 

What he says is: "You're too kind, Mob. You can't just give these sorts of things away for nothing."

"It's not for nothing," Mob tells him evenly. "... You never give anything away at all."

Reigen quite understands his meaning. He's starting to regret that he woke Mob up - and thinking this just makes him feel worse, absolutely wretched. "I'm too tired to argue with you, Mob. If that's what you're trying to get out of this."

"I'm not arguing," Mob tells him. He wipes at his face again, sniffing a bit, and Reigen's heart gives a long, terrible ache.

"You should get back to sleep," he tells Mob, reaching for the lamp before he can change his mind. The room goes dark again and he tries to shift off of the mattress, but Mob catches him around the wrist.

"Shishou," he says with some urgency.

Reigen tries very hard to keep the irritation out of his voice. "Yes?"

Mob's voice comes much slower than his hand had, low and deliberate. "Please don't go."

He can feel Mob's fingers trembling against him, can feel his heartbeat, slow and steady. "I'm ... not going anywhere, Mob."

"You barely even look at me anymore."

Reigen jolts at this, a cold feeling soaring through him. "That isn't true."

Mob ignores him. "I'm afraid that you're afraid of me," he says suddenly, all in a rush. "Ever since ... ever since that day, it feels like you're scared of me. And I don't - I don't know what to do."

"I don't feel that way at all!" Reigen denies hurriedly, feeling wrong-footed, off-script, woozy. "Mob!"

"I don't know what to do," Mob admits again, with an audible crackle to his voice and Reigen reaches through the dark for him, unable to bear it. He drags him in by a shoulder, feeling his small body collapse into his side, folding him up under an arm.

"I am not afraid of you," Reigen says firmly, pressing his mouth to the crown of Mob's head, right into the nest of his hair. "Do you understand?"

Slowly, Mob's knees come down, pressing flush against his hip. Reigen slides his open hand down Mob's back, stuttering in its path as one of Mob's hands comes to rest on top of his thigh. He breathes, "I understand."

"I don't care about what I saw that day," Reigen continues, stroking up the flat of his back now, feeling the warm fabric catch and bunch up a little under the rough skin of his palm. "Or any other day, for that matter. You're still Mob. You're Mob." 

"I'm Mob," Mob echoes, his hand flexing a bit. Reigen does his best not to twitch away from it - because all he really would like to do is twitch into it. "And you're Reigen."

"Yes," he agrees. "Who else would we be?"

Mob pushes his face deeper into his shoulder. "Sometimes I wish we were different people."

Reigen already knows he isn't going to like where this is going. He brushes the very tips of his fingers over the nape of Mob's neck, fluttering through downy hair, then ghosts them back down, pushing over vertebrae. "What do you mean?"

"I don't know," Mob answers, and Reigen can feel his mouth forming the words against his chest, tapping at Mob's spine in what he hopes is a comforting motion. "I feel like everything would be easier. I ... I hate feeling like this."

He whispers that last part with such ferocity that Reigen wants to wrap both arms around him and pull him in, closer than close, wants to pry open his bones and fit him safely inside where nothing could ever touch him again. Fourteen, he's fourteen and he lives in twice the world than the rest of them do, he has seen as much as gods have, likely, except that he's got none of the ego, none of the decisiveness. God. He's just a fucking kid.

Reigen, for once, is completely unsure of what to do or say - usually he can come up with one if not the other, but right now, nothing seems good enough. He flattens his palm a little bit more against Mob's back, curling his fingers in to scratch just lightly with his nails, something his mother used to do when he couldn't relax as a child. But what used to help him still all motion in his youth seems to do the opposite for Mob, who now begins to squirm, knees poking, palm flexing. His small hand is so heated, even though the fabric of Reigen's sweats. 

He asks, voice embarrassingly rough, god, he hopes Mob doesn’t notice, "Does that tickle?"

Mob is quiet for a long moment, still just shifting around a bit, knees knocking against Reigen’s pelvis. At last he exhales, a little shaky, and squeaks, "I … I don’t know."

That seems to be his choice answer of the day. But Reigen doesn’t know either, how to proceed from here or what else to do but continue his ministrations. Mob’s face has lifted and is pressed into his neck, tacky still with dried tears. He chest gives a dull throb and he squeezes the nape of Mob's neck just gently, an attempt to be soothing, mentor-like, it’s okay, I’m here. Mob’s body sinks a bit further into him and he swallows, the knot of his throat dipping against the swell of Mob’s cheek and Mob shifts, maybe made uncomfortable by the motion of it. Reigen's face begins to burn as he feels the unmistakable brush of Mob’s mouth below his jaw, and then he ultimately feels very guilty about it, stuffing down his every urge to turn his face to meet him. Mob likely doesn’t even know how intimate that sort of thing is, how the gentle trail of his lips leaves fire in its wake.

But now Reigen’s hand slips down to the small of his back, fingers pressing into the dips on either side of his spine. And Mob ... the cold tip of his nose is pressed tightly under the lobe of Reigen’s ear, and his mouth is wide open. He moans.

It’s right beside him, of course, so it would have been impossible to miss even with a voice as quiet as Mob’s is. He stiffens on instinct and feels Mob firm up too, and now ... now Reigen is noticing a great number of things, things he had missed before; how the heat of Mob’s palm high up on his thigh that is sweatier than the gentle warmth of this room would account for, how his thighs have been shifting together not in a move to make himself comfortable but in one indicative of abortive arousal. Even now he is squirming, his knees opening around Reigen's hip, and Reigen is trying steadfast to stuff this knowledge down, to convince himself that he is surely misunderstanding. Mob is a klutz and a terrible communicator but he isn’t manipulative. He wouldn't do this sort of thing on purpose.

Mob. His voice is jagged, sharpened to a point. "Um ..."

"That’s okay," Reigen says quickly, his hand sort of floating in the air behind Mob’s back now - he had retracted it with great startled force as soon as that sound had escaped Mob’s throat. Fuck, that sound. It’s going to take a hell of a lot of effort to wipe that from his memory. "Sorry, Mob."

"I - I don’t," Mob stammers, still wriggling up against Reigen’s side a bit. His face feels blisteringly hot, damp against Reigen’s neck for a different reason now. He isn’t sure which of them is sweating, or maybe they both are. That should really be a revolting thought but instead Reigen wishes to be the childish one so that he could get away with drawing his knees up to his chest, with all of what it does to him. "Shishou …"

"It’s okay," Reigen says again. "You’re, uh. You know, you’re young, your body’s still growing -" god fuck shit fuck god shit as if he needed the reminder - "It’s normal for you to react in that sort of way. Perfectly normal. It’s not a problem."

"But," Mob says, his hand trembling on Reigen’s thigh. "What, um … what if - if, that wasn’t why?"

Reigen stares at the ceiling for a very long, grounded moment. "Mob," he says lowly. "This isn't funny."

"I'm not joking."

"You need to be," Reigen tells him. "We ... we can’t have this sort of conversation," he adds softly.

Mob is blinking slowly at him, his eyes searching all over his face as if to find a real chink in his proverbial armor, except that Reigen hasn’t ever felt more naked than he does now in the dark on this fucking bed in this fucking hotel in this godforsaken fucking town, he really never should have taken Mob here but it’s too little too late, too late and too little, god, Mob is so little.

His voice is even littler, barely above a whisper. "... Even if I want to?"

"You don’t want to," Reigen asserts, trying his damnedest to sound firm. "It's late, Mob. You need to go to bed."

"I’m not tired," Mob tells him easily, either having gotten very, very good at deflection over a very short period of time or just actually not understanding Reigen's intentions to end this conversation right now while he still has his good sense about him. "I think ... I think I do want to."

Reigen croaks, "You think?"

Mob seems to consider this pretty seriously, letting his eyes drift off to some corner of the room. He rubs a hand over his face after a moment, sweeping his fringe, eyes fluttering. He decides, "I do."

"Well," Reigen manages, "I'm vetoing."

"I don't think you get to do that."

"Of course I do. I'm the adult."

Mob frowns. "Do you see me as a child?"

That hits Reigen like a bat to the middle, nearly enough to make him wheeze. "You're fourteen."

"I'll be fifteen next month."

"Are you hearing yourself?" Reigen asks, a bit harsher than he means to - luckily Mob doesn't look very offended but he still peels his voice best as best he can. "Mob ..."

Mob inhales, exhales, his mouth open, his eyes boring into him. His shirt slips off of one shoulder. He dips his head. "You don't ... want me?"

"Don't say that," Reigen hushes, before he can develop the sense to stop himself - his hands are already reaching for Mob's face tilting him back up. Mob's eyes are wide as they come to him again, his lips are parted. "Please, don't ever say that."

Mob nods, a gentle motion. Reigen swallows.

"Mob, I ..." He strokes his thumbs over Mob's cheeks. "I just don't want you to think I would ever take advantage of you."

Mob quietly says, "You aren't taking advantage of me."

"I would be," Reigen tells him. "If - if I ... were to ..."

Mob reaches up, laying his hands over Reigen's. He wonders, his face coloring gently, "... Touch me?"

Reigen can barely draw a breath. "Among other things."

"I want you to touch me," Mob admits, his face very red now, his ears glowing in the dark. Reigen hears it but doesn't hear it, feeling his heart swell up into his throat and his own face start to heat up, and god he knows he wants to. He wants to lay Mob back and gently rid him of his clothes and put his hands on those bony fucking knees and spread them open and draw his voice out of him over and over and over. "Um. Please."

Reigen clenches his jaw; Mob asking him politely is really too much for him to handle. "You can't ask me for that."

"I think I can," Mob says, turning his face into one of Reigen's palms. "I think ... I just did."

Reigen watches with a morbidly erotic fascination and Mob mouths up his palm to kiss at the webbing between his fingers. His lips are barely parted, but there is something so unarguably sexual about the motion that Mob might as well have shoved his open hand between Reigen's legs. 

"I am asking you very nicely," Reigen whispers, "not to do this."

"I'm not stupid," Mob says.

Reigen startles. "I know that you're not."

"I know what I'm asking for," Mob continues, hands shaking. "Shishou," he adds brokenly, "you don't know what it's like."

"Then talk to me," Reigen encourages, shaking his head. "But don't do this. Mob, this ... this is ..."

Mob kisses him. It's very sudden and very dry, and Reigen doesn't even have time to close his eyes for it before Mob is leaning back again, dipping his head, self-conscious. 

Reigen takes a ragged breath. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because I want to," Mob says evenly. "I'm fourteen."

"I know," Reigen says desperately. "I know you're fourteen."

"I know about sex. I - I know what people do when they care for each other, when they need to feel good -"

"What adults do," Reigen corrects. "Not ... not fourteen-year-olds, I -"

"You're not just any adult," Mob argues weakly, putting his hands on Reigen's chest. Reigen cannot fathom where this is coming from, how Mob of all people is getting the better of him in an argument. He has never felt so tongue-tied before in his life, and his mouth still burns from the shape of Mob's. "Do you see me as just any teenager?"

"Of course I don't," Reigen says immediately, bending a bit, as if Mob is yanking the words out of him by force. "That's not the point."

"I don't think you have a point, Shishou," Mob says gravely, leaning close again. "I think you are afraid."

"Not of you," Reigen assures him. "Never of you."

"Then ... what?"

Reigen manages a helpless sort of laugh, not smiling. "When the hell did you get so good at this, huh?"

Mob doesn't reply. He leans up on his knees, and like this he towers over Reigen, making him crane his neck to meet his gaze. Then he takes his jaw in both hands, bending his swan-thin neck to level his face with Reigen's, and kisses him firmly. 

Shove him off, Reigen thinks, as Mob thumbs at the corners of his mouth. Tell him no, Reigen tells himself, as Mob pushes his mouth open. Make him think you don't want this, Reigen pleads with himself, as Mob's tongue touches his own. All of it reasonable, all of it for naught as Mob slowly scoots a leg over to the opposite side of Reigen's thighs to straddle him, and Reigen's hands unthinkingly come to the small of his back. Small - that's the terrible word of the evening. Reigen is so sure he could wrap his hands around his waist and maybe cover him entirely, that he could flip them over and cover Mob's entire body with his own, pin him to the sheets and press all the air out of him until he's the one begging Reigen to stop, until he's taking every word of it back. He could make Mob regret this and hate him, could make him walk away again, and he knows that Mob would be far better off. But he's selfish, so he cannot do it. Bravery can only come from Reigen when Mob so desires it. 

They're still kissing. Mob is panting hard, his hands all over Reigen's face and hair. His hips are pressed against Reigen's belly, and when Reigen spreads his fingers over his back he gives a little jolt that clears up exactly how aroused he is, the shape of him hard against the space below Reigen's sternum and he pulls his face away, down, blinking dazedly into Mob's chest. His mind is just swimming now in an overflow of nervy lust, misplaced enthusiasm crackling at the edges of his hair and shirt - or maybe that's just Mob's power. He had seen his hair swaying in the dim moonlight, he knows they're acting up.

"This isn't good," Reigen manages, but Mob's hands are still on his face and he lets them push him up again, and now he's staring right into those immeasurable eyes again, losing all the air in his lungs.

Mob comes close, his expression very shy despite the unmitigated desire that is deeply inherent there. He wonders, "I'm ... am I bad at it?"

Reigen chokes on some hysterical noise, his fingers slipping beneath Mob's shirt. He's never touched Mob here before, not against his bare skin, and he's so soft and warm, pliant under his palms. "No," he says. Skill notwithstanding, Mob's small dry mouth pushing against his is the most erotic thing he has ever experienced. "God, Mob. You don't have to worry about that."

"Am I too heavy?"

"Mob," Reigen grunts. "I don't mean you."

"I know what you mean," Mob says in reply, his fingers pushing at Reigen's temple, spreading through his hair. "It's okay, Shishou."

"I do want you," Reigen tells him, answering what he was too cowardly to earlier, and even now he feels afraid but he desperately wants to be honest. Mob smiles and he is so beautiful, better than any landscape, prettier than any portrait, why the fuck does anyone even bother with oils or pastels or fucking watercolors at this rate - he moves his hands, pushing his arms around Reigen's shoulders instead, hooking them there, hands hanging limp behind him. "I want you more than anything in the world."

"That's okay, too," Mob tells him, nuzzling his nose against Reigen's cheek, his mouth brushing against his skin. "I ... I want you, too."

Reigen presses his hands up Mob's back a bit more, feeling along the divots in his spine, then strokes them back down, and Mob's eyes flutter and shut. "Since when?"

"I don't know," Mob says, predictable, mouth somewhere over by his ear. Like this Reigen is staring right at the pale stretch of his neck, and all of this must be doing something close to intoxicating him because he doesn't hesitate to brush his mouth along it, starting at the exposed skin of his shoulder. Mob gasps audibly, arms snapping backward so he can clutch Reigen by the shoulders, but he doesn't stop him, doesn't pull away. Reigen presses a gentle dry kiss tentatively to the base of his neck, then another, higher up, and another just below his ear, and Mob does this full-body shake before he tips his head up, sinks his shoulders, and says in a crackly voice, "That feels really good."

Reigen shivers, dropping his head onto Mob's shoulder. "God help me," he says ungracefully.

Mob's knees shuffle a bit and then spread, his hips lowering, seating himself right on Reigen's thighs. Reigen has to bend over him a bit to keep his head where it is but he can't bear to look at Mob's face right now, not like this. Mob's mouth presses against his ear. "Please don't stop."

"This really isn't good," Reigen laments.

"It's okay," Mob says again, reaching behind himself, drawing one of Reigen's hands out from under his shirt and holding it. His fingers feel so small, curled up in Reigen's palm. "Shishou, I'm ... I'm not going to tell anyone. Not about this."

"That's a hell of a thing to promise, Mob," Reigen tells him, lifting his head at last, staring at the wall past Mob's shoulder. "I can't - I can't ask you to do that."

"You're not asking," Mob points out, his eyelashes tickling Reigen's cheek. "I'm telling you." His hands squeeze at Reigen, at his hand and his shoulder, and then he moves Reigen's hand to his stomach, pressing it in just above where his cock is causing a mound in the fabric of t-shirt and underwear. Right in Reigen's ear he whispers, "Please touch me."

Without a word, Reigen lowers his hand a bit, just a bit, just enough to skim his palm over where the tip of Mob's cock is resting and Mob makes a tiny, whining sound of encouragement that hits Reigen like an ice cube to the back of the neck. His hips rock forward as Reigen's fingers peel his shirt up, and then he settles them right over where the fabric of his boxers is going damp and Mob huffs noisily against his cheek, his hands trembling.

He's pretty sensitive, it's easy to find, as Reigen ghosts his fingers over the length of him and his responses come jagged and wheezy already. His shirt is slipping down further, baring his pale, gleaming collarbones - his rubs his cheek against Reigen's, almost nuzzling, sort of weird, exactly the kind of thing Mob would do at this type of moment. Reigen holds him a little more firmly, pressing down with his palm, and Mob squeaks, knees jumping.

Reigen feels like his whole body is on fire, frankly, scorching him down to the root. "Mob," he says. "If you need to stop -"

Mob shakes his head quickly. "I don't," he gasps, and his arms hook around Reigen's neck again as he strokes him more purposefully, more firmly, through his underwear. He makes a sound very close to a sob and it's better than anything Reigen could have imagined, if he'd ever imagined, which of course he hasn't, he hasn't, he -

He doesn't even know who he's trying to convince anymore. He removes his hand, and he's pretty sure he hears Mob's voice jump to protest but it dies with a whine when Reigen cups his ass instead, gripping all of one side with his hand, squeezing.

"Like this," he huffs, and pulls his both hands to push Mob's pelvis flush against Reigen's belly, encouraging him to grind against him.

"Oh," Mob breathes, catching on very quick - slow learner or not, he picks up on this right away. He scoots in a bit, his body shifting - Reigen realizes he's pulling his knees up and hooking his legs around Reigen's waist, and before he can decide what that makes him feel Mob is using the newfound leverage to grind his clothed cock right up against Reigen's belly and he's throwing his head back over his shoulders with a gasp and Reigen can't fathom much of anything except the sight of that, of Mob's pretty pink blush and his open mouth and his swaying ink-black hair, the way his hips jolt against Reigen with absolute desperation. "Oh."

Reigen feels Mob's hands clutching at him wherever they can find purchase and feels delirious with affection and thick arousal, slipping his hands down just enough to push up under the legs of Mob's underwear. He grips Mob's bare ass in two handfuls, hearing him choke on a moan in response, and starts kneading and pushing, helping him set the right rhythm to get himself off. Mob is breathing very heavy now, doing his damnedest to keep up, the heels of his feet scrambling at the small of Reigen's back, and he's whimpering over and over, like he's trying to say something but can't get the words out.

Reigen puts his mouth right next to Mob's ear. "Do you like that?"

Mob opens his mouth but it just hangs like that for a moment before he snaps it shut again, and then his eyes, squeezing them tight. He gives a rough nod, his throat pulsing. 

"Tell me to stop, if -"

"Do-on't," Mob croaks, his chest heaving, Reigen can tell he must be close. The distant, vague understanding that he is helping Mob build himself up to an orgasm slams fully into his chest now and he barely manages to stifle a moan of his own, his whole body hot and prickly, his fingers digging hard into the meat of Mob's ass. He is hit with the inescapable urge to do something with his mouth lest he saying something stupid like you're beautiful or i've wanted this for so long or i love you, so he presses his mouth to Mob's throat, kissing him, dragging his lips up to the hard line of his jaw. Mob releases an aborted moan of a sound as he does it, clipped in the middle where his voice cracks and jumps high. "Sh-shi - shou -" he gasps, hands all over Reigen's hair, mussing it. "Please - please -"

"What," Reigen whispers ungracefully against his skin, swallowing hard. "What do you need?"

"Any - anything, more, I - I don't -" He squirms but he's stopped grinding, jerking backward against Reigen's hands instead, and when one of his fingers accidentally brushes over his hole he releases a choked-off sob and Reigen's mind goes uncharacteristically blank. He registers that Mob is wiping at his own eyes now, gasping, "I want - I want -

And so Reigen is jump-started, rebooting, nodding, thinking of nothing but guiding Mob to where he so desperately wants to go, of making him feel alright. "Okay," he says quickly, his voice hushed, and he eases Mob gently off of him, getting a hand on one of his knees - those knees - to try and untangle himself from between them. "Okay, Mob. Shh. I've got you."

Mob is nodding at him, not speaking, his eyes wide and willing, his expression open as if he trusts Reigen more than anyone or anything else in this life. Reigen doesn't know how to feel about that, he can't decide right now, not as he guides Mob onto his back on the bed, and certainly not as Mob parts his knees to welcome him between them.

Reigen swipes a hand over his forehead, steeling himself, not unpleasantly, fuck. He reaches for Mob's underwear, saying, "I'm going to take these off, okay?"

Mob nods, his fine hair fanned out against the pillow, and lifts his hips to help Reigen do it. And Reigen - he's seen Mob naked, of course, that isn't new territory. But seeing Mob naked when he's hot and hard and leaking all over his belly is, and he finds himself clearing his throat in a way that isn't subtle at all and he feels just a little guilty when he sees Mob blush bright red in response.

"Um," Mob squeaks.

Reigen stops, bracing himself with a hand on Mob's knee - fuck, fuck - and stroking him softly there. "Still okay?" 

"Yes," Mob says, nodding quickly. His legs are wide open. "It's still okay."

Reigen bends over him, and Mob's hands fly to his face, cupping his jaw. He reaches for Mob's face in reply, stroking his knuckles over his cheek, and Mob's eyes shine with so much affection he can feel it squeeze his chest in like he might concave, fragile, his always feels hollow-boned around Mob. Birds are built that way so they are light enough to fly.

"I would die for you," he admits, the earnest adoration creeping up over the back of his spine.

Mob shivers. "I don't want that," he whispers, pulling him down. "I just want this."

Reigen tries to be a bit more welcoming when they kiss now, pushing his tongue gently into Mob's open mouth, cupping his neck to tilt him up off the pillow. Mob kisses him back, gentle and adoring, and Reigen understands now more than ever that Mob cares about this, and wants it like hell, and couldn't give a fuck about what's locked out there where no one else could understand. No one has ever understood Mob, not once in his life. No one sees, no one gets it, nobody knows - you don't know what it's like.

He breaks the kiss. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," Mob tells him, completely convicted, his hands wide open. "Yes."

No written characters could match the sobriety of that tone, the utter weight of it. Reigen doesn't get to respond because Mob pitches up to kiss him again, sealing it. Reigen pries himself away like a stamp from a pool of wax and dips to meet his mouth to Mob's chest, kissing him wetly over the fabric, hearing his breath hitch, feeling his back bend up to press against him.

He says, "Put your arms over your head."

Mob does it, making room on either side of his body, and Reigen reaches down, getting his hands under the backs of Mob's knees and pushing, pushing - until Mob is subsequently bent in half, his knees against the mattress on either side of his ribs, his breath coming in wheezy gasps. 

The small of his back is lifted off the mattress a bit and Reigen can see the beginning of some bruising under his shirt, no doubt from the swing earlier in the day and he is hit with an absurd bolt of hilarity, so he presses his mouth to Mob's stomach before he can laugh and let hysteria take over. Mob makes a short breathy noise, one that elongates when Reigen drags his mouth down over his hip and onto his thigh.

Mob squirms, his knees a little sweaty where they're bent around Reigen's hands. "Shishou," he huffs.

"I know," Reigen admits. He doesn't know why he keeps putting it off himself, not when they've gotten this far - so he relents and accepts his fate and pushes his face between Mob's legs not a second later, mouthing wetly at his perineum. Mob moans again, his thighs jumping, and Reigen murmurs something that's incoherent even to himself before his slides his mouth up and kisses the head of his quivering cock.

Mob yelps, but it's muffled halfway through - when Reigen looks Mob has covered his mouth with both hands, his brow raised and his eyes wide open, watching his every move. Reigen can't stand looking at him like that for very long, hyper-aware of his own arousal pressed against the bedsheets, and so he ducks and takes Mob fully into his mouth, feeling the gentle slide of his foreskin as he sucks him down. Mob splutters and moans into his palms, both knees jerking like he wants to kick his legs out. Reigen holds him firmer, not letting him move too much, and he can hear Mob taking heavy breaths through his nose, can feel the gentle pulse of his hips as he tries to figure out how to thrust.

Reigen lifts off for a moment, swallowing, the taste already bitter on the back of his tongue. He doesn't look up at Mob when he speaks. "Mob. Stop muffling yourself."

A pause. "B-but, hm ... it's - ah -" Mob gasps as Reigen drags his tongue up the underside of his cock, one of his hands shooting down to grip his hair. "It-it's - embarrassing -"

"There's nothing for you to be embarrassed about," Reigen assures him, dipping his head to kiss at the seam of Mob's balls, hearing him squeak. "It's okay, Mob. I need to be able to hear you, if -"

"I'm not going to ask you to stop," Mob blurts, already ahead of him. He hand clenches a bit, tugging just gently at Reigen's hair. "Please. I - I'm ... please."

"You don't have to keep asking," Reigen assures him, although Mob pleading for him is like something out of a dream. He sinks back down on his cock and Mob groans unhindered, the end of it escalating into a whine when Reigen sucks at him. He pushes at the foreskin a bit with his tongue, enough to fully get at the head of his cock, and Mob babbles something unintelligible but encouraging, his knuckles trembling against Reigen's skull. And Reigen - he has never denied that he is a selfish person, although he thinks maybe he would, if someone else accused him of it - he pulls off, not so eager to finish him off as Mob clearly is to come already, and instead moves his mouth down to flutter over Mob's hole, flicking with his tongue. 

Mob exhales loudly, a shocked noise, sharp like glass. Then he says, "Oh my god."

Something about the utter annunciation of it does something irrevocable to Reigen, who moans against Mob's skin, feeling him weakly shake in reply. His feet swing a little overhead, trembling, bowing in somewhere close enough to Reigen's neck to brush against the nape of it and Reigen rolls his tongue against him, circling gently against his twitching skin. Mob can't seem to keep himself still at all, his spine bending both ways, his thighs flexing, the knot of his throat bobbing over and over. He has an arm thrown over his eyes and his face is beet-red like he is too embarrassed to look at what's happening and Reigen understands, squeezing the backs of his knees in a way he hopes is comforting. Mob makes a sound that sounds almost like a laugh, his legs jolting, his feet finding purchase on Reigen's shoulders.

"D-don't -" he manages, panting, "don't tickle -"

Reigen kisses his thigh apologetically. "I didn't mean to," he says gently, and then kisses Mob again, directly over his entrance, long and slow and wet, and Mob groans in a similar manner. "Fuck."

Mob makes a coughing sound, his ass pushing back against Reigen's face. "That feels so strange," he admits breathily.

"Is it good?" At Mob's jerky little nod, he adds: "Are you close?"

"Mhm," Mob manages, biting at his lips, feet flexing, toes curling. Then he sighs, deep and relaxed, when Reigen descends on him again, pulsing hotly against him with the tip of his tongue. He manages to push it inside a bit, just enough to feel how tight Mob could be around him, and suddenly he is overcome with the dizzying desire to fuck him roughly on his tongue, to slide his fingers in too until they're pulsing wet within him, until Mob's voice is hoarse from shouting his name, from forming his teeth around shishou and more and please. He is grateful for his practiced restraint - Mob is overwhelmed already, just from this, he can see it in the way his body is bending.

He releases one of Mob's knees and it immediately comes to hook over Reigen's shoulder instead, and Mob is whining and grunting and twisting like a hooked fish, and when Reigen skates the tips of his fingers over the underside of his cock he releases a strangled sob.

"Shishou," he rasps, his toes curling at Reigen's spine, his shoulders bowing back, his head tipping. "Shi - you're, it's - I'm!"

Reigen doesn't relent, kissing him all over, tapping just hard enough with his fingers and tongue to watch Mob's body shake with full tremors. The pads of his fingers at just at the tip now, tracing circles, his thumb gliding down the length of him as he swipes his tongue past his perineum, over his balls, drawn tight up against him, and Mob rocks his hips arrhythmically, his foot on Reigen's shoulder the only leverage he has. He's fully bawling now, babbling into the empty air, and Reigen turns, kissing his thigh, then the curve of his ass, the slick skin of his entrance - and he wraps his hand fully around Mob, only able to give him one good stroke before Mob is coming with a shout.

He spills in waves, ones that pulse through his body like a single contracting muscle, his stomach tensing hard with every dribble over Reigen's hand, or his own chest. He whines all the way through it and Reigen keeps stroking him, keeping him just on the edge of over-stimulated. When Mob plants his feet more firmly on Reigen's shoulders and gives him a real push he releases him, untangles himself from beneath him.

"Reigen-shishou," is the first thing he says in his recovery, his shirt all stained, still halfway up his torso. His face is red and gorgeous, his mouth is wide open. He reaches out with a trembling hand. "Come here."

Reigen can't do much else but oblige, crawling over him, letting Mob pull him down with an arm around his shoulders. Of course it isn't this simple - he catches Mob's wrist, the one of the opposite arm, where it attempts to snake down between them. "Don't," he says firmly.

Mob sighs unhappily, bangs stuck with sweat to his forehead. "Why not?"

"I ... it's ..." Reigen doesn't know. He isn't sure why it should matter know, why it still bothers him so damn much, why he can't let Mob just do the things he has shamefully thought of on the nights he's been loneliest, in the moments he's loved him more than anything. No less, he is sure this is one of them; Mob's damp pink face the most bewitching thing he has ever beheld. 

Mob's thigh inches up between his own, and he does not flinch away.

"It's okay," Mob says, an echo of before, and Reigen shudders with the knowledge that there is now an after. He lowers himself, burying his face in Mob's neck, praying that the prick in his eyes subsides before he'll have to rise. "It's okay, Shishou, it's okay."

Reigen grinds down against him, rolling his hips against Mob's thigh. He is leaking more than tears now, wetting all kinds of fabric, but Mob doesn't shy away from any of it, taking him in stride, kissing his temple as he sobs.

Mob keeps whispering that mantra in his ear, guiding him through it, keeping him right where he is. Reigen is sure that among all this he must say what it is, what's wrong, what isn't okay - though he doesn't hear it on his voice, deafened by the sound of Mob's and by his own heavy pulse, blood thick in his ears and thick in his cock, pulsing into Mob's thin body like he'll die if he stops - because when he comes with a cry, feeling very much like it is a form of death, Mob has but two things to say in response.

The first is: "Oh," is soft awed voice, brim-topped with sweltering affection. He seems pleasantly surprised to see Reigen so easily undone, to watch his body rock jerkily without any understanding of rhythm, almost as if ... as if he's thought about this too, and it isn't at all what he imagined.

The second is this, among a breathy sigh and a collapse into half-consciousness: "I know. I love you, too."

 

 

On the train, Mob sits close to his hip.

"I like this one best," Reigen is saying, tipping the camera to minimize the glare so Mob can see which picture he means. Reluctance aside, Mob did quite the bang-up job taking some nice ones, and now he's determined to get them printed for the office after all.

"Did I take that one?" Mob asks.

"You don't remember?"

Mob shrugs, his expression pretty uninterested. "Not really."

"Jeez, Mob," Reigen mutters. "You were the one who wanted to go in the first place."

"If you didn't want to go, why did you bring a camera?"

"Ah, the affliction of adulthood," Reigen says sagely, crossing one leg over the other. "Over-preparing for anything and everything."

"You sound like a commercial, Shishou."

"Not too bad of one, I hope," Reigen replies calmly, leaning back. Mob reaches for the camera and Reigen lets him take it, sliding his hands into his pockets instead. He has a lot of energy today, and no idea what to do with it all. He has no idea what to do at all as a rule today, really - except not look at Mob, which is proving to be a difficult thing to accomplish. Every sidelong glance brings him back to the night before. He cannot say he regrets it. He cannot say he is glad that it happened. He doesn't know which is worse.

"Um," Mob says suddenly, and already Reigen is breaking his rule - he looks at Mob as sees the quizzical furrow of his brow, tries not to think of it shining with sweat. "Could you print this one for me, do you think?"

Reigen already has an idea of which one it's going to be, but he forces himself to look anyway, steeling himself for the confirmation. He studies the image of himself rather critically, surveying his slightly bothered expression, his definite stare off into the treeline, the line of his shoulders. He thinks Mob could have done with some better angling, but he is a beginner. Reigen will have to take the opportunity to teach him better.

"Where would you keep it?"

"... I guess that's a good question," Mob admits in lieu of an answer. Then, perhaps as a last-ditch effort: "I wasn't going to show it to anyone."

"You might not always have the choice," Reigen is quick to remind him. He watches Mob dip his head and he sighs. "Mob. I'm not scolding you."

"I know," Mob says quietly, his feet firm on the ground, planted near his bag. His shirt from last night isn't in there - it's in Reigen's, waiting to be washed with the rest of their soiled clothing. "I'm grateful for that."

At last Reigen relaxes, a bit of the weight rolling off of him. "I bet you are."

"Will you walk me home?"

"If you want me to."

"I don't want to be a burden."

Reigen makes a thoughtful sound - Mob is pressing him more than ever these days, and not just for this. "I'll walk you home."

Mob's answer is a sigh, like he wishes he were disappointed but can't help feeling the opposite. "Okay."

"Okay," Reigen says too, mouth twitching. He touches Mob's hair, swiping a thumb over his ear ... then ruffles his hair, a touch rougher than usual. "I still expect you at work after school starts back up. Don't think you'll get out of it so easy."

As usual, Mob can't let him get away without teaching him a lesson of his own - his smile in reply, though small, is blinding. "Shishou," he murmurs. "What else could I do?"

And, as usual, Reigen burns.