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Kintsugi

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Kintsugi

There's a scent thick, sweet-sick, in the air when he awakes. The room is warm and the curtains are drawn, crushed up on the sill to keep out the light. Sometimes it slinks through and slithers silver in slivers and then they can't sleep, sensitive. It took Mob a while to get used to being in a bed, both of them a long time to get used to sharing, sleeping next to somebody. Some bodies fit better together than others.

He rolls over, feels the pull on his arm. It's wrapped so tight he can barely move it, his fingers starting to numb. He runs his free hand over it, feeling the thick bumps, the beginnings of thorns – checks his neck, relieved that he can breathe. He woke up just in time. This hasn't happened in a while but it's worrying. He supposes it's not the sort of disease that simply disappears without a trace but he's so blunt about his own feelings that perhaps there's nothing for his to cling onto all these years later. Reigen is different: he doesn't let go.

Mob turns on the light and sits up. He has no idea what time it is but it feels like some godless floating hour separate from all of time and space. The burnished burn of the cheap bedside lamp goes into the corners of the bedroom, lining it up edge-to-edge in a way so weirdly precise it distorts reality. He sees their suits on the doors of the wardrobe, skins side-by-side hanging on hooks, can't imagine getting up in the morning and putting them on for work. His own is black; Reigen's is navy, it suits him better now that he's older and the gold is starting to go out of his hair. Mob has almost forgotten that pale cool grey, it's been so long but it's all happened so quickly. He's twenty-eight and Reigen was twenty-eight once, too, back when he was fourteen but that doesn't seem real, either. He's forgotten about the flowers, how it feels.

He glances at his arm, sees the thick vine wrapped tightly around it all the way to the elbow. The thorns prickle like the claws of kittens, careless, and there are a few flowers, bright red and bold. He employs his power and unwinds it easily, looking at the welts left behind as it drops to the mattress. There might be some bruising. It's been a while since that, too, something he could live without but then again it's anything but deliberate. He looks down at Reigen and knows he's still unwell, realises he will probably never recover. Both of their bodies are littered with scars, years of pulling them out by the root, but Reigen's are deeper, broader, older because he's been alive longer. He's on his back and the plant is growing out of him just under his collarbone. There's some blood where it broke the skin but it's clotted, congealed, and anyway the scent isn't the from the wound. The flowers are clustered thickly near the root, hot and deep like velvet, and their smell is cloistered, claustrophobic, want want want. It is the drench of desire buried alive, it'll claw its way out one way or another.

Mob bends over him, touches his shoulder, gently shakes him. He runs his hand down to his chest and keeps it there as he stirs. He's holding him down, he admits, just a little bit.

"Mob...?" Reigen blinks blearily up at him. "What time is it...?"

"Early."

"Wh... what are you...?" Reigen turns his head, straining against his palm to read the bedside clock, and the wound disturbs, wells blood. He hisses in pain, sucking it in through his teeth.

"It's okay," Mob says softly. "Don't panic."

He says this as Reigen's eyes dart to the flowers. He sees them widen, watches his lips part as he sharply inhales.

"It's okay," he repeats, low, urgent. "Arataka."

Reigen's eyes come to his. He breathes out, shaky, and nods.

"Shit," he says. "It's... been a while, huh?"

"You must have been dreaming," Mob replies.

Reigen rakes his hair back, not looking as Mob reaches out and takes hold of the stem.

"I guess so," he says, forcibly absent. Mob can feel him tensing. There's no point in telling him not to. He knows it hurts like hell. He keeps his other hand on his chest for leverage as he starts to pull.

"Fucking hell!" Reigen says loudly. He sounds more angry than anything, although Mob sees him clutch at the sheets. He doesn't blame him – there's resistance, the roots clinging, and he can feel it's not going to come out cleanly.

"Stop, stop," Reigen grunts, twisting. He pats him firmly on the arm and Mob stops pulling. He does not let go. There's a lot of blood now and he has nothing to stem it with.

"It needs to come out," he says. "We have to dress it quickly."

Reigen coughs. "I think... the roots are wrapped around my ribs," he pants. "That's how it feels."

"Oh."

Well, that explains it. Mob frowns. This isn't unusual either, really – sometimes the roots grow around organs, they wind themselves around bone. This disease is fatal if left to fester, haemorrhaging, crushing to death from the inside out.

"Maybe we should go to the hospital," Mob says – although he doesn't know if there would be time.

Reigen shakes his head. "It's fine," he says, smiling weakly at him. "I was just giving you a heads up."

Mob takes in a long breath. "...I'll have to use my powers," he says.

"I know," Reigen says. He touches Mob's arm, squeezes at the bruising. "I trust you."

Mob knows this but he also knows when he's scared. It's been so long, seventeen years, and he can see through his smile. He nods once, slowly, reassuring. It has to come out – it's a particularly vicious bout, left any longer and the roots will start to grow around his lungs, his heart. Mob straddles his chest to hold him down and he's bigger, heavier, he pins him to the mattress no problem.

"Ugh, warn me," Reigen grumbles, a little breathless. Mob feels him squirming but ignores him, taking the stem with both hands. This is his priority, he has to concentrate. He closes his eyes, breathes in, pulls his power into a slim seam. His control is steady-handed but he could still fuck this up, he knows, hesitating a moment. He feels Reigen's hands come to his thighs, rubbing his thumbs in little circles. He is the one soothing now. He can't seem to shake it off no matter how old they get but Mob will never stop appreciating it. He steels himself, lets this thin thread of energy seep out through his fingertips, makes contact with the plant and pushes down through it, unfurling into the tips of the leaves, the points of the thorns, the hearts of the stinking-sweet blooms. He hasn't got time to waste – he's good at making things grow, after all – and he breaches the wound and goes into Reigen's body, the warm beating cavity of his chest. He can feel him breathing, hear the pounding of his heart, it takes up all the room in his head. He pushes all the way down to the very tips of the roots and yes, there they are, all tangled up around his ribcage like ribbons. This would be hours of delicate surgery – or certain death. He forcibly unwinds them, feeling Reigen's chest hitch beneath him.

"You're right," he murmurs to distract him.

"I'm always right," Reigen hisses, sounding very much like he wishes he wasn't. He twists a little bit, his fingers pushing hard into Mob's thighs.

"Please hold still," Mob says softly. They're coming, slowly but surely, but his wriggling is unhelpful.

"Sorry," Reigen grits out. "It-it hurts."

"I'm almost there." Mob wants to ask what he was dreaming about but the truth is he already knows. To have caused a relapse like this... well, it can only have been only thing. The years that yawn between them, it's not as simple as asking him to forget. He can't expect him to. He is the one who has had to bear the weight.

He gets the last of the roots loose and starts to ease the plant out as gently as possible. He hears Reigen suck in another breath, feels his fingers press in hard, bruising, the burn of his nails – but he doesn't open his eyes, all he cares about is getting this fucking thing out of him, he can apologise later, kiss him better—

"Mob." Reigen's knee hits his back. "Shigeo."

"I'm almost there," Mob pleads. He can feel his grip on his arm, tightening, stinging—

No. Wait. His eyes snap open. The plant is growing afresh around him, winding its way up his forearm, spiralling out in bloodied tendrils across the sheets. The flowers bloom, swell, wither, repeat. He is the one doing this, his power feeding, encouraging, killing.

"J-just rip it out," Reigen pants, looking away. "Do it."

Mob knows he hasn't got much choice. He shifts, puts his knee against Reigen's sternum and yanks. Reigen bucks beneath him and it comes out with a fresh burst of blood, intact. At once it stops growing, Mob holding it aloft with the roots dangling. They glisten and drip, horribly twisted, swaying like the legs of a dead jellyfish. Mob wrenches it off his arm and tosses it to the floor in disgust. It can't do any harm now.

"Sorry," he says, moving his knee. "That... that was me."

"It's okay." Reigen is breathing hard, white-faced. "Y-you got it. Thank you."

Mob grabs a handful of the sheets and presses it to the wound. "Hold that," he says. "I'll get the bandages."

He slides off him and gets off the bed, bending to pick up the plant as he passes. It's starting to shrivel already, dying on dry land. They don't last long beyond bodies. He crushes it into a ball with his powers and tosses it into the bin in the bathroom, pushes it all the way down. The first aid kit is at the back of the cupboard because they haven't used it in a while, haven't needed to. He doesn't remember the last time he got scratched up, even on the job. Their work comes so easily to him and Reigen is less reckless than he used to be. His dreams are a different matter, doesn't matter, anti-matter.

Mob goes back to the bedroom with the first aid box and a hot flannel. Reigen is sitting up against the headboard looking at the ceiling fan, the bunched bloodied sheet held tight to the wound. Mob gets back onto the bed and kneels next to him, pushing away his hand to replace it with the flannel. It stains suddenly, soaking up the blood right to the edges as he washes it away.

"Are you okay?" he asks, not looking up.

"I'll be alright now," Reigen says. He sounds calm again, his usual tone, utterly unruffled. "You got it just in time."

"I made it worse," Mob mumbles.

"You saved me," Reigen says, firmer. "If you hadn't woken up, if you hadn't..."

"I know." This isn't bragging, instead a weary statement of fact. It could have been so much worse. "Lucky, I guess."

Reigen breathes out. "I guess," he echoes.

Mob puts the bloodied flannel aside and opens up the kit, finding some antiseptic wipes and a bandage. The wounds of this disease are fast-healing, the tear is beginning to close already, but they bleed a lot and leave behind deep marks. The bandage won't do much to help but at least Reigen won't have to see it.

"So practical," Reigen says, soft, half-teasing as Mob opens up one of the wipes. "You take good care of me, don't you, Mob?"

"Don't make fun of me," Mob says blandly. He starts to dab at the shredded flesh, hearing him hiss. "Shishou."

"Heh, now who's making fun?" Reigen's shoulder tenses – it must sting like hell. "I-ow-I only meant that you're so grown up."

"I'm twenty-eight," Mob says, his eyes flickering to him. "I hope so."

"Hmm." Reigen smiles at him, wistful. "I forget sometimes."

This is a blatant lie. Mob always knows, sees right through him the moment he opens his mouth. He doesn't forget – wishes he could, perhaps, but that's not the same thing at all.

"What were you dreaming about?" Mob asks, scrunching up the wipe.

"I don't remember," Reigen says. This is not a lie but he looks at the wall anyway, his shoulders sloping.

"Oh," Mob says. He takes up the bandage. "Okay."

"I suppose it doesn't matter anyway," Reigen goes on. He lifts his arm and Mob holds the cotton pad in place with his powers as he starts to wrap the gauze around his shoulder and across his chest. "I can guess."

"Mm." Mob concentrates very hard on his task. "Do you still think about that?"

"Not consciously." A pause. "Not a lot, anyway." He's pretty deadpan but Mob can tell he's rattled. He's shaken himself so he doesn't blame him. Truly, truly, had he not woken...

"But if that's the case then there's not much I can do about it," Reigen goes on. He sounds a little cheerier, forcibly injected. "You'll just have to keep an eye on me, okay?"

"Of course I will," Mob says. He gets to the end of the bandage, tucks it under and pins it in place. "Is that okay?"

Reigen rolls his shoulder. "Yeah, feels fine. Thank you."

Mob says nothing, watching him run his fingers over it. There's a nervous twitch in them, the tiniest of nuances that he recognises, rationalises. He knows he's nervous about going back to sleep.

"Another one for my vast collection," he sighs. He looks at Mob, grins weakly. "There's not going to be much of me left."

Mob doesn't want him to say things like that but he doesn't know what else he should say instead. It's true that his body is very scarred, ruined by roots. Mob has his fair share but Reigen's are so much worse, his skin mottled, years of guilt and self-loathing and unrequited love. Except.

"I love you," Mob says.

Reigen leans his head back against the headboard. He smiles at him and it's deep and sincere and adoring but he looks so tired, too, all of a sudden. He's forty-two but he's aged well, Mob thinks he looks better than ever but then he knows he's also the type to be blinded by love, he's pretty gullible in that regard. He sees it now, that he has a crease in his brow that no longer irons out when he smiles, that he still thinks about this, dreams of it, dies over it.

"I know," Reigen says – which, again, is hardly bragging. He'd be dead by now if Mob didn't, torn in two, eaten alive by flowers. His answer is acceptance.

"Well, I don't care about the scars," Mob tries again, shifting closer. "...Do you care about mine?"

Reigen snorts, reaches out, runs his thumb over a silvery line near Mob's neck. "You've barely got any," he says. "Young skin – it heals so much better."

Mob can't stand hearing him talk like that, so aware, like he cares, like he knows it isn't fair. At Mob's age he seemed to think himself indestructible.

"I won't be young forever," Mob says.

"I realise that," Reigen says irritably like he's an expert – which he is, in a way.

"And anyway," Mob goes on, ignoring him, "they're my fault, every last one of them."

Reigen blinks. "Th-that's not–"

"True? It is, though." Mob points to the scars on his own body, picking them out like stars. "And these are your fault, all of them, so we're well-matched."

"Yes," Reigen concedes absently, following his fingers. He seems like he'd rather talk about something else. "We are."

Sometimes, out of the blue, Reigen will ask him if he's happy and he doesn't want him to do it now, he never wants him to ask that ever again. His scars are fewer, faded, but they are not fake. He puts his hands on his shoulders and gets into his lap, settling. He's in his boxers and the sheets separate them but he can feel him warm beneath him, solid, breathing. Reigen appraises him a little dubiously but he reaches out and puts his hands on his slender waist, cool and gentle.

"How can you talk about a few little scars, anyway?" he sighs. "Look how lovely you are. Who'd have thought such an awkward kid would turn out like this?"

All these years later, Mob still isn't great at telling when Reigen is complimenting him and when he's being mean and this is one of those times, back-handed at best, so he doesn't satisfy him with an answer. He leans in and kisses him, wraps his arms around him, holds him tight. Reigen seems grateful for the distraction, if anything, pulling him close and Mob can feel his heart up against his own, thick beneath three layers, skin bone bandage. He puts his hands in his hair, tangles his fingers right down to the roots. He's not going grey, exactly, but the gold isn't as deep as it used to be, especially at the temples. When Mob is in a playful mood he'll say it's from overthinking, which is maybe a compliment and maybe not. Reigen doesn't seem to take much offence either way. He likes Mob's jokes even when they're bad, maybe because his own aren't much better.

Mob breaks away, leaving him panting, and presses a kiss to his temple before pulling his mouth downwards, trailing over his cheek and his jaw and onto his throat. He has a scar here, dangerous, could have cost him his voice, his breath. Mob kisses it, feels Reigen put his hand on his head, takes this as encouragement. He seeps downwards in search of the others scattered over his trembling skin, careful not to disturb the newest. There are so many in the gaps of his ribcage, in the well of his abdomen, and he knows there are plenty more on his back, too, sprouting out of his shoulderblades, his spine. He hears him sigh, feels the lift of his chest against his lips.

"You'll be there all night," Reigen says softly. Mob doesn't know if this is an observation or inside-out way of imploring him to stop. He raises his head.

"Are you tired?" he asks. "Do you want to go back to sleep?" And then, when Reigen says nothing, he presses: "I'll stay awake and watch over you."

Reigen inhales, soft but audible, and his eyes widen a little. He gazes at Mob for a long moment and his face softens, he looks like he's about to cry, which isn't like him at all. He puts out his arms and Mob rises, goes into them, and he pulls him up close again and buries his face in his shoulder. Mob nuzzles against him, letting him cling, and he doesn't ask, doesn't push. Reigen can talk for Japan but when he's overwhelmed he goes quiet, he completely short-circuits. Mob feels him give another shivery sigh against him, hot against his neck. After a moment he gives a weak little laugh.

"I really lucked out, didn't I?" he says quietly. "With you, I mean."

Mob rubs his thumb over a particularly deep mangled scar on his back, the tissue raised in welts, traumatised. "Did you?" he asks. He knows he can feel him.

"I'm not talking about that damn disease," Reigen says. He leans back, takes Mob's face. "I'm talking about you. You're the kindest, gentlest, most selfless person I've ever met."

Mob doesn't blink. "Because of you," he says.

Reigen presses his forehead to his. "You can't teach stuff like that," he says. "I can't take the credit. It's just the way you are."

"Oh," Mob says. "You're complimenting me."

"Yeah." Reigen grins, squeezes his cheeks. "You idiot."

Mob shakes his head free and kisses him again, crushing him up against the headboard. Reigen has energy enough to tease him, at least, which could really be spent elsewhere. He seems a bit more spirited now, kissing back with teeth, and Mob holds him as tight as he can. He's taller and heavier but Reigen is still pretty good at getting the better of him so he doesn't let him. He presses their palms together, locks their fingers, keeps him pinned. Reigen pulls his mouth away and turns his face aside, his mouth curled with a smug sort of glee.

"I'm barely recovered and you're going to ravage me," he says, meeting his gaze sidelong. "Have you no shame, Kageyama-san?"

"About the same as you." Mob knows he wants a teasing 'Reigen-san' but he's not going to get it. "Shishou." He drawls it, drags his teeth over it, and Reigen's dark eyes narrow.

"You're getting too good," he mutters. "That's something I've taught you too well."

"A shame," Mob says flatly, kissing at his neck, making him arch.

"It is." Reigen takes in a breath as Mob suckles on a sweet spot. "I'll-mmm-have to... to kill you."

Mob gives a creaky little laugh, rolling it over bone. "Can it wait?"

"I guess," Reigen huffs. "Un-until morning, at least."

"Okay. I'm sure you can handle tomorrow's job fine by yourself."

The job tomorrow is an abandoned warehouse full of pissed-off poltergeists who aren't keen on the demolition work happening on their turf. Reigen will be as much use as a chocolate coal shovel and he knows it.

"Fine, then. I'll kill you Friday."

"Okay," Mob says again. He reaches behind him and grabs the sheets, throws them off. Now he can get between Reigen's legs and he does, slides downwards, grasps him by the thighs and yanks. Reigen hits the pillow, wide-eyed and startled like an upturned beetle, and he's rigid for a long moment before he composes himself and starts to fuss.

"Jeez, you have to be gentler with me, Mob," he grouses. "I'm practically a pensioner."

Mob rolls his eyes. Reigen's idea of a pension is payment in cup noodles, something he tried to fob Mob off with many years ago, and he's not interested in discussing the minutiae of why Reigen considers forty-two to be on the cusp of receiving such a bounty. Maybe it's because Reigen thinks about noodles almost all the time. They lead a very exciting life, the two of them. He'll just have to give him something else to think about.

He bends over his body, kissing the last few scars he didn't get to, the ones on his belly that threatened to take all of his organs with them. He works at the elastic of his boxers as he does so, pulling it down, exposing more of them in the space between his narrow hips. Maybe forty-two for pension age isn't such a joke after all. He's lucky to have reached it. He's small, there's not a whole lot of space in his body to begin with and he used to fill up with flowers so frequently. It's incredible he's still intact. Mob kisses them each in turn, apologetic, appeasing. He's never asked but he wonders if Reigen had resigned himself to death back then. To think he had been so oblivious, that they had both been so blind.

He slips off his boxers, over first one foot and then the other, realises they're his own as he tosses them aside. He sees Reigen shrug in a half-assed apology and knows that he knew, probably took them on purpose. Again. There must be something amusing about being able to fit into your former student's clothes. Whether this is more or less amusing than your former student being able to fit into your body, Mob couldn't possibly say. He must make a list one day, sit him down and get some answers. Reigen is kind of eccentric and between cup noodles and stolen boxers his explanations are probably pretty interesting but there's only one explanation for why Mob is so interested in being between his legs. The scarring stops here, so far he hasn't been quite that unlucky, but Mob kisses along the inside of his thigh anyway, feeling the muscle go taut under his mouth. He hears his breath catch as he gets closer and can't help but smile a little because nobody else on this earth can get Reigen undone like he does, he shreds like simmered meat for him, always has. He lowers his head, takes him in, goes all the way down until his forehead is against his belly and he can feel him tense, the muscles quivering. Reigen exhales deeply, it sounds like all the air is being crushed out of him, and Mob is all teeth and tongue and really fucking good, Reigen has taught him plenty of things over the years with varying degrees of uselessness. As life skills go, this is fairly weak compared to how to do taxes but they both make Reigen moan and this hits the ear so much better even if he does hiss things like 'Forget Friday, I'm going to kill you right now'. Hard to believe, really, when he has his hands thrust deep into his hair and his back bowed so beautifully and shortly after he says this all he can say is Mob and fuck and a few other things that don't sound like real words. The usual, then: Mob's name and stuff he's made up, he'll be bullshitting on his deathbed and that's fine, perfect, as long as he's old and exhausted and not turning into a forest of wildflowers. And this bed, god, it tries so hard but Mob won't let it take him, he's too young and he belongs to him, he loves him, he's got the scars to prove it and he'll rumple the bedding to prove it, too, bend the headboard, break the mattress. He holds up his hips, wraps his tongue around him, swallows hard. He likes him loud so he knows he's alive but this is only to his ear, well-trained, because he cries and kicks like he's being killed. His over-drama isn't always an act.

"...Mob." Reigen sounds like he can only just get it out. He tugs at his hair and Mob lifts his head, just high enough, meeting his eyes.

"Yeah?"

Reigen breathes out through his nose, looks pointedly away. His bandaged chest is still heaving.

"God, don't look at me like that," he grumbles. He seems kind of annoyed for some reason, the corners of his mouth pulled downwards, almost a pout.

Mob pauses, nonplussed. He has no idea what his problem is. He starts to lower his head again and Reigen tightens his fist, pulling on his hair hard enough to hurt.

"What?" Now Mob is irritated. He's got plenty of amazing abilities but reading minds isn't one of them, especially not Reigen, who has a brain like a fucking grasshopper.

"Just... just stop a second."

Mob blinks. "Don't you like it?" He wants to add 'Sounds like you do' but he doesn't go that far.

"I do," Reigen says, still holding him.

"Then..."

"I do like it, Mob. You're very good, as usual. Excellent, even." Hilariously wooden, deliberately understated, when he's still hard and pulsing inches from Mob's mouth. "That's the thing, you see."

"I don't understand," Mob says bluntly.

Reigen gives a deep huffy sigh like a teenager. "Well, basically, to be honest... I'm, ah, not going to last much longer if you keep doing it."

Mob is quiet for a moment. Has he missed something – that's the point, right? His eyes narrow. "So...?"

"So?" Reigen repeats incredulously. "Mob. Seriously."

"It's fine," Mob says, confused. "It's okay if you come."

Reigen groans, drags his hand down his face. "You are so damned dense sometimes."

"Well, I don't understand," Mob says again. He pulls his head free, his scalp smarting.

"Yes, I see that."

"So explain." Mob doesn't get this, either: Reigen enjoys giving lengthy explanations, it's not like him to be so cryptic.

"God, you're really going to make me say it, aren't you?" Reigen's eyes slide towards him again at long last. "You're very cruel to me, you know."

Mob resists the urge to roll his eyes. He forgets how whiny he can be sometimes. He's three seconds away from lowering his head again and Reigen must realise this because he abruptly sits up.

"Now look," he says briskly, "it's alright for you, you're still young and spritely, but I don't... I mean, I'm not as you know anymore."

Mob doesn't know. He has no fucking idea what he's talking about. "Forty-two isn't exactly ancient," he says.

"Right, fair enough, but I'm still not as young as you. If I... well, basically I can't... be, ah, ready again as quickly." He looks at him very intently. "Do you get what I'm saying, Mob?"

Finally, yes, Mob does. "Why didn't you just say so?"

"Because it's embarrassing," Reigen says. He sounds exasperated. "I forget how oblivious you are."

Mob shrugs. "I don't mind," he says again. "Do you think I would be disappointed or something?"

The indignance goes out of Reigen, his shoulders sloping inward. "I don't know," he mutters. "It... just doesn't seem very fair on you, that's all. You're still so young."

Mob understands now. He straightens, reaches out, runs his thumb over the edge of the cotton pad pressed to the wound. He feels him flinch.

"I don't care," he says. "About any of it but especially not about that. You are my choice."

Reigen doesn't say anything. His eyes flicker downwards, watching him trace the edges of the evidence. His teeth pull over his bottom lip, he needs to shave and some of his stubble is grey, only just.

"Do you think I only accepted you because I didn't want you to die?" Mob says. "Arataka. Is that what you think?"

Reigen's chest hitches. He won't look at him. "...That's a bit heavy, don't you think?" he mutters.

For right now, maybe. Mob is still between his legs, after all, but these things don't always have the good grace to wait. Maybe Reigen looks at the scars on both of their bodies and thinks Mob didn't have a choice, not really.

"I love you," Mob says again. He leans in, takes his face. He'll say it as many times as he needs to, until his throat is raw. He is tireless.

"I know," Reigen replies. He sighs it, pressing their foreheads together. He reaches up and takes Mob's wrists, his fingers still long enough to get all the way around them.

Mob kisses him, sinks his weight against him, pushing him back against the pillow. He goes down without complaint, settling, his legs tangled around Mob's back as he pins him down. Mob knows he quietly quite likes being gently manhandled by him, he's the only one he'll let his guard down for. Mob isn't rough, he would never dream of hurting him but holding him down beneath him is definitely not beneath him. He breaks the kiss, talks against his mouth.

"Do you want to?"

Reigen pulls at his face. "What do you think I was saving myself for, dummy?"

"Twice in one night is a lot," Mob says, deadpan. "Will you be able to walk tomorrow?"

"Guess you can carry me if not." Reigen lets go of his cheeks, pats them instead. "It's about time you did some work."

Mob feels like making sure he can't walk for that. Maybe he'll leave him to the poltergeists long enough to give him a bit of a scare – but Reigen kisses him again as he's considering this and it melts and he thinks he'll never let him out of his arms again. He knows he's teasing, besides; Reigen is pretty upfront about being a slacker, particularly when Mob catches him Googling pictures of dogs. Probably he'll use his sore ass as an excuse to do just that all day tomorrow but Mob has already made up his mind. He pulls the lube off the nightstand and into his outstretched hand without breaking the kiss. Truth be told, he could do the whole thing without using his hands but Reigen draws lines, some things are too weird even for him. Sometimes Mob wonders, not too hard, about Ritsu and Shou since they're both espers and they both love using their powers. Maybe it's no coincidence they've moved apartment three times in the past eighteen months. Mob is glad Reigen is normal. He wouldn't want him any other way.

He feels Reigen's hands slide over the dip of his back, lingering over a few scant scars, and his thumbs go into the waistband of his boxers. He lifts himself a little, arching off his body, and Reigen eases them down over the swell of his backside, gets them to about his knees and can't reach any further.

"I've got them," Mob says, shimmying them the rest of the way off with his powers.

"Cute. What would you do without them, I wonder?"

"Still pound you into the mattress, Shishou."

Reigen opens his mouth but no sound comes out. He doesn't know what to do with himself. Mob wants to laugh but it's funnier not to and he's a master at holding it in. He makes a deliberate show of uncapping the lube and pouring it out onto his palm.

"So," he says, "what do you think of that?"

"I'm thinking about how I can make your untimely death look like an accident," Reigen huffs, looking pointedly away.

"Insurance fraud, too, Arataka?" Mob reaches down, starts to slick himself. He's not really in a hurry. "What next?"

"I don't know," Reigen snaps. "I can't think straight at the moment."

He still won't look, deliberate, unintentionally hilarious. Mob lets him sulk, preparing himself, his breathing already slowing, deepening. He takes up the lube again when he's done, pours some more out over his fingers. They've done this already tonight, it shouldn't take much but he just wants to make sure because it would be so easy to hurt him, to break him in half. He puts his hand on Reigen's knee and eases his fingers into him, one then two then three, and Reigen sighs through his nose and tenses ever so slightly but not much. He even has his arms folded now, like he's got more important places to be, and Mob resolves to have him clutching at the headboard instead. He ensures he's well slicked up inside because he's a good student, he retains everything Reigen has ever taught him, even how to cheat on pachinko machines, something he's never needed but appreciates that he expended the effort. This is why he takes such care, this is why he loves him. He has a scar on his shoulder from the first time they met, the first place Reigen ever touched him. He still remembers the way he smiled at him. That was when he knew.

He takes hold of his thighs, the long bones of them hard against his inner arms, and pulls him, positions him. Reigen is pretty limp, he lets him do it, at last unfolding his arms as Mob presses up against his entrance. He calms all the way down when they're together, all that nervous energy sighs out of him and he's fluid and cool like a river. Mob shifts forward, oozing easily into his body, they bend and twist together, tangle up like twine. Reigen pulls him down close, mouths against his hair, and Mob buries his face against his neck, feels a scar against his tongue, everything is against, crushed up tight, no room to breathe. He fills him up so completely, his power simmering at his corners, itching for an invitation to flood a body they've been in before. They would smother him, drown him from the inside-out, burst him open. Mob is good at making things grow. That Reigen trusts him so deeply is a miracle – but then miracles are what he deals in. He's forty-two and he shouldn't have got here. People die of so much less.

Mob nips along his jaw, finds his mouth, kisses him. It scratches a bit, he'll nag him to shave in the morning, but at 3am he can forgive him. Reigen kisses back languidly, just about keeping pace with him. He can be very lazy sometimes, Mob often forgets, he'll just lie there having a good time if he can get away with it. Still, his touch is so tender, his fingers map Mob's body with a gentle ease so familiar, it feels like the footsteps on a well-worn path, a favourite place. He thinks of their sign in the night, sherbet-neon, a lighthouse for lost souls. This is the shape that strangeness takes: spirit vision, what a sight for sore eyes. Mob melts against him, into him, he's slick and smells of sweat and antiseptic and the scent of incense, intense, sensual, sensory. It's hard to say where the hardness of him starts, where Mob's own edges end. All his meaning is in his mouth, all his reason leaning south. He keeps kissing him as he pushes himself to his knees and skims his hands down over the trembling lines of him, takes him under his thighs. He makes a pretence of lifting him bodily, he's got the strength but he's cheating, he's not taking his weight at all as he pushes him up against the headboard – but maybe he's a bit rough because Reigen grunts and pulls his head away.

"Mob, I swear, if I had a hundred yen for every time you've thrown me around with your powers...!" He's breathless, panting, completely indignant, crushed up between Mob and the headboard.

"Hmm?" Mob nuzzles against his neck, not breaking stride. He's holding his thighs but not really, pinning him with his power. "Did I hurt you?"

Reigen backtracks, of course, predictable. "Of course you didn't hurt me, I-I know you would never..."

Mob smiles against his skin. "So you're just making a fuss."

Reigen inhales. His legs are trembling under Mob's touch but somehow he's still got it in him to be argumentative. "Y-you never used to be this subversive," he hisses. "A-anyway, I was... was just being nice, you did hurt me. I-I'm suing."

"I haven't got very much money," Mob says. "My wage is very low. I h-haven't had a raise since... since I was fourteen, you see."

Reigen gives strange amused sound. "What a bastard your boss must be," he mutters close to his ear. "Y-you should rough him up a bit, maybe... maybe throw him against the headboa—ah!"

Mob sinks his teeth into him, not enough to break the skin because there's been blood already but enough to burn, to bruise. Reigen slams his head back against the wood with a thud and it sounds like it hurts, maybe he really will have grounds to sue after all. Mob sort of regrets it, just a little bit, and he suckles at it, soothing. Reigen arches his neck, exposing the flat curve of it, the thin scarred skin, the deep blue vein pulsing under his jaw. He offers himself wholly to Mob in a way that he does for no-one else, his body language becomes completely different and he doesn't over-exaggerate, he does nothing to defend himself at all. Mob thinks you've seen what I've done, you know what I can do but then that is about the sum of it, their skins silvered with scars. One more mark won't make much difference, mine mine mine. He was worth the wait, the weight.

"Mmm..." Reigen's hand comes to his skull, fingers sticky through his hair. Mob feels him swallow hard against his tongue. "Y-you're... going to knock... what l-little sense I've got left... right out of me..."

He's completely breathless, his words laboured, strung thin like glass beads, and Mob knows he's getting close. He's nearing the brink himself, his body brims like broken ice, shivering, shattering. They are both tiring quickly because this is unorthodox, ostentatious, ornate beyond all occasion. It's been a long time since they last saw this hour, let alone lived it. He always seems to be looking at Reigen whenever he thinks of wasted youth. He promises him things he hasn't got.

"D-did I... hurt you...?" Mob whispers again, shy against his shoulder, serious; and Reigen holds him closer, tighter, he hangs on for all he's worth.

"No," he murmurs. "...Never."

(And oh, Mob thinks, he's such a liar, even now when there's nothing to hide. He coughs up seeds when he cries.)

He can feel himself coming apart. He has such a good rein on his power now, it lies damp at his utmost corners unless he calls, but when he's close it capers under his skin like a coming storm. It tingles in the tips of his fingers as they go into Reigen's flesh, take whole handfuls of him, teeter on tearing him open. He'll have marks in the morning – lately he always looks like he's been shoved through a shredder. Mob gathers up every last scrap of him and ties him in a knot. Reigen clutches at him, comes against his heaving belly with a low whine and the knot unfurls, the tension seeps out of him, threads pulled loose at the joints. He sags between Mob and the headboard, breathless and shivery, and Mob lets go of his thighs, his powers still pinning them, and takes him under his back instead. He tilts him and he is obliging, his spine bends, his satellite skin stretches across the gaps in his ribs, the arch of his abdomen, worn thin like a taiko drum. His scars shine like rivers.

Mob shudders, lets himself go inside him, feels his hair lift, sway, drop as he rides it out into his body. Reigen's hand is on the back of his head, harmony. Mob clumsily finds his mouth, feels him grin against his own, exhausted, exhilarated. They kiss on the comedown, floating silver-grey, soft as ash – and Mob lets his legs drop at last and they sink together, solid weight, spent. Mob breaks the kiss first, nuzzles against him. He loves the sound of him afterwards, the smell and the taste. It sings of summer, of being seventeen, the fragrance of finding out, flagrant. Seventeen. It feels like a century.

"Mm." Reigen nudges at him. "Mob. Don't fall asleep like this."

"I'm not." Mob stifles a yawn out of spite, straightens. He slides himself out of Reigen's body, rolls off him and onto his side. His belly is cold and sticky so he pulls up the sheets and wipes it off on them.

"Mob." Reigen scrunches his nose in half-hearted disgust.

"What?" Mob asks blandly, settling the sheets over them. "Are you going to get a towel?"

"You could have got a towel with your powers."

"You can't rely on psychic powers for everything, Shishou," Mob says sagely. "Sometimes the sheets have to just get dirty."

"I just washed them," Reigen grumbles; but he's more subdued, his eyes cast downwards.

"Yeah," Mob agrees softly. He knows he's looking at the bloom of old blood between them, rust-coloured, rose-shaped. It congeals quickly, it never washes all the way out. His own eyes drop to the bandage, searching for the first splotches coming through the gauze, but it remains undisturbed. Soon the wound will close over, keep what's left of him in.

until

"Are you tired?" Mob says softly. He finds his hand, presses his own into it, palm-to-palm, pulse. Reigen's is underneath, wrist up, the delicate skin long ruined. He has old punctures all the way to the elbow.

"Mmm." Reigen sighs it through his nose, his mouth quirking. "You wear me out. Imagine waking me at 3am for that sort of thing."

"Sorry," Mob says, although it's pretty heartless, honestly.

Reigen grins, squeezes his hand. "No you're not."

"I'm not really tired, either," Mob says. "You sleep. I'll stay awake."

"You can't not sleep, Mob. I'll be fine."

"It's just for tonight." Mob pauses. "...Just to make sure."

Reigen meets his eyes again and his expression is pretty much unchanged but there's something deeper there, subtle, absolutely grateful. Mob still isn't good at reading people, really, but it's been seventeen years and he understands.

"Alright," Reigen says. "It's past your bedtime but I suppose I'll let you."

"Thank you," Mob replies. He reaches out, brushes a damp spike of hair away from Reigen's face, watches the little crease at the corners as he smiles.

"Things change," Reigen says, closing his eyes, "but not you."

"Yeah?" Mob supposes this is a compliment but he's not sure.

"Mm." Reigen squeezes his hand again, settling. "I... I know it's selfish but... I was always scared you would, that one day... you wouldn't need me anymore."

Mob has no answer for this. Reigen seems half-asleep anyway, not expecting a reply, and he watches the rise and slope of his body as he breathes. He doesn't know what to say to that, not when he's the one who feels selfish and stupid. He knows Reigen had no symptoms of the illness before he spilled into his office that day, only eleven, who would have thought. He knows he is the one who took root in his heart. This is the cost of such love, the least he can do. He will stay awake forever, watching, if he needs to. He props himself up on one elbow, his eyes burning, and hopes his dreams will take kinder shapes, that they will be without thorns, that they won't fill up every inch of him until there is nowhere to go. i love yous are flimsy at best, they bloom and then wither, they cannot hold on.

I will never grow out of you.