Buzz… buzz… buzz…
Reigen’s half-asleep brain struggles to process the sound. His alarm? It’s still dark out, and he doesn’t set one for Saturday mornings… A phone call, then? He reaches over to the bedside table, grabs his vibrating phone. The bright screen momentarily blinds him.
“You don’t put your phone on silent at night?” Serizawa grumbles next to him, turning over.
Incoming call from… Mob?
Instantly, Reigen feels wide awake. He reasons with his rising panic; Mob wouldn’t call him about something really serious. But it’s nearly 11pm. It can’t be for a chat.
He answers, as he leaves the bedroom. “Hey, Mob, what’s up?”
“It’s Shigeo?” Serizawa asks.
Reigen eases the door to the bedroom shut, goes to lean against the kitchen counter. He doesn’t hear Mob’s voice right away; just some muffled sounds, maybe some breathing. A butt dial?
But then he does hear Mob’s voice, and it’s high-pitched, shaky: “Master, I—I—”
Is Mob crying? Reigen’s heart jumps into his throat. “Mob? Are you okay? What’s happening?”
“I—I’m at… a party and—” he sobs.
“You’re at a party? What happened? Are you okay?”
“I’m sorry, I—I’m fine, but—something—… I—”
“Take a deep breath,” Reigen instructs, and Mob does so. “You’re fine? You sure?”
“Mhmm.” Mob takes another raspy breath.
“Ok. So… what happened?”
“I… I had some drinks… at—at the party.” Mob is still breathing heavily, his voice is still squeaky, but he’s getting words out.
“Alcohol?” Reigen asks. And of course the kid means alcohol, but Reigen can’t picture Mob getting drunk. It dawns on him that he might be talking to drunk Mob right now.
“Yeah,” Mob says with a little sob. “I’m sorry—”
“Hey, Mob, you’re an adult, you’re in college, it’s okay. It’s okay. So, you had some drinks. What happened next?”
In his periphery, Reigen sees Serizawa leaning in the doorframe to the bedroom, amused smile on his face. “Is he drunk-calling you?”
Reigen holds up a hand to him as Mob starts speaking again —
“Is he okay?” Serizawa seems more concerned upon seeing Reigen’s reaction.
“I—I can’t… I couldn’t control my powers.”
Oh. There’s the kicker. It suddenly makes a lot of sense. “What happened?” Reigen asks again, more urgently. Did he hurt someone? He hopes not, mostly for Mob’s sake.
“We… were playing, uh… beer pong. You know? Beer pong?”
Reigen can’t help but laugh. “Yes, Mob, I’m familiar.”
“And I was on a team with a friend from class. And I… I got excited and… knocked over all the cups. And it spilled everywhere.”
Reigen waits for Mob to continue. But Mob’s breathing steadies, and he doesn’t say anything else. “Wait, is that it? That’s what happened?”
“Well, that’s not too bad, Mob. People without psychic powers spill drinks when they’re drunk, too.”
“But, but… Master, I’m… I’m worried that—” Mob voice breaks again.
“Oh…” Reigen understands now, kicking himself for not getting this earlier. “You’re upset because something worse could have happened.”
Mob is fully crying now; he’s quiet, but Reigen can hear the racking sobs. The poor kid—Most people get to be drunk and just worry about saying something stupid or embarrassing. Mob is terrified that he will hurt someone.
“Mob, listen to me. I’m not sure if this fear is ever going to fully go away. I can’t tell you that you’re never going to lose control again, and… you… you might hurt someone.” Reigen has been that someone, so he figures he can’t sugarcoat things. “But—but.”
Reigen waits for Mob’s breathing to steady again.
“I’ve seen you grow so much over the past few years. And you are doing so much better. You haven’t really, um… lost total control for four years, now, right?”
Reigen waits for a, “Mhmm,” from Mob.
“See? Four years! You might have a few slip-ups from time to time, but it’s all part of your progress. And, Mob, everyone is capable of losing control and hurting people. You spend more time and effort preventing that from happening than probably anyone else.” Reigen pauses for a second. “And, well, losing control is especially likely when a person is drunk.”
“Should I not drink anymore?”
“I don’t know. Like anyone else, you’ll have to see how it impacts you and you’ll have to learn your own limits and use caution. There are a lot of people who shouldn’t drink, so if you decide that you’re one of them, that’s okay. But if you find you’re able to manage it, then I don’t see any reason not to.”
“Ok. Thank you, Master.”
Mob’s upset and not sober, so Reigen decides not to broach the topic of Mob still calling him ‘master.’
“Anytime. And, uh, Mob, where are you? Are you still at the party?”
Mob lets out a breath of laughter. “Yeah, I, uh… locked myself in the bathroom.”
“Are you gonna be okay? Are you gonna stay or… or leave…?” Reigen maybe shouldn’t be asking his former student’s plans on this Friday night.
“I think I’m gonna leave, but… I dunno.”
“Do you have a safe way to get home, Mob?”
There's a long pause on the other end of the line. “Master, could you—? No…”
Reigen says, without hesitation: “I’ll come pick you up.”
“No… It’s over an hour by train…”
“I’ll take Serizawa’s car, I’ll be there in half an hour.”
Whoops. Mob does not know about that particular development. But he doesn’t press it.
“If you want me to come pick you up, I will. I have no problem with it.”
Mob pauses, but then says, “Yes. Thank you. I’m sorry.”
“It’s my pleasure. Text me the address. Hang tight.”
Reigen rushes back into the bedroom, pulling a coat on over his pajama shirt. “Katsuya?” he whispers.
“I’m going to get Mob.”
Serizawa sits up. “You’re going to his school? Now? Is he okay?”
“Yeah, he’s fine. He just got drunk at a party, and he had a little scare with his powers and he… wants me to come pick him up. I think it’ll be nice to see him, so…”
Serizawa teases him, “You’re a great dad.”
“I’m taking your car, by the way.”
There’s no traffic at this time of night, so he makes great time. He pulls up outside of the apartment building, thirty-five minutes after he hung up with Mob. He shoots him a text, and Mob walks out the front door within a minute. He’s not crying anymore, doesn’t even look like he has been crying. He looks a little embarrassed, and gives a fleeting glance to Reigen as he slides into the passenger seat.
“Thanks for coming. I know it’s stupid, but—”
“It’s not stupid at all. Besides, I haven’t seen you in a while. Do you want to go back to your dorm right away, or… Maybe some late night noodles?”
“You always want to eat,” Mob says with a laugh. “I know a place nearby, I’ll direct you.”
“So, do your friends know you’re an esper?” Reigen asks. He’s not sure if Mob still wants to talk about it, but he seems comfortable enough now.
“Yeah. Well, some of them do. It’s a left here.”
Reigen turns left. “There wasn’t mass hysteria at the party? No witch hunt?”
Mob laughs. “No, honestly, I don’t think most people thought anything of it. It was kind of… a wild atmosphere.”
Reigen can’t picture Mob letting loose at a college party, throwing back drinks, playing beer pong. Maybe one day when Mob’s older, and it feels more appropriate, the two of them can go for some drinks.
“You said this is Serizawa’s car?” Mob asks.
Reigen’s grip tightens on the steering wheel. “What—? Oh, yeah…”
“How did you get his car this late?”
Reigen runs a few lies through his head: I was borrowing it anyway, just a coincidence; Serizawa’s apartment is being bug-bombed so he’s crashing with me for a few days; We were working late at the office tonight; I bought his car, it’s actually mine, I just referred to it as his—
He stops himself. Didn’t he promise not to lie to Mob anymore?
“Um, well. We’re actually… dating. Serizawa and I. So, he was… at my apartment. When you called.”
Mob is completely silent for a few seconds. Reigen is sweating.
“Oh, wow. When did that start?” Mob’s response doesn’t go far beyond mild surprise.
“It was actually… uh. It was around the same time that you left for university. So, it’s been… two months, two and a half.”
“So, I leave you two alone, and…” Mob trails off, laughing. Then— “Hey, it’s on the right up here. Yeah, red sign.”
Reigen has to slam on the brakes a little to not go flying past the restaurant. He parks the car, and gets out. Maybe it’s good he’s telling Mob about him and Serizawa while Mob’s still a little drunk. Mob’s chattier, a little more forthcoming with his emotions than usual. Reigen wanted to get some kind of response out of Mob besides his typical monotone “ok.”
They grab a table by the window. Reigen slips out of his coat and sits down.
“Are you… wearing pajamas?” Mob asks, a little bewildered.
“Well, yeah, Mob. Your phone call woke me up, and I was kind of in a hurry to come rescue you. Sue me.” His tone is playful, but he does feel self-conscious wearing a wrinkled cotton t-shirt and sweatpants in public.
“I woke you up? I didn’t think it was that late.”
“I know, I know, I’m an old man. I’m in bed by ten.”
Two bowls of noodles are placed in front of them, and they eagerly dig in.
“How’s business?” Mob asks through a full mouth.
It stings a little to hear Mob casually inquire about the business that he used to be an integral part of. “It’s good, yeah. It’s going really well. A couple weeks ago, Serizawa and I spent some time in Tokyo… for business,” he adds, but Mob barely reacts. “We were receiving a lot of inquires from clients in Tokyo so we decided to take a little work-cation. We had fifteen clients in a week. It was nice. We’ve been doing more traveling, in general.”
“Yeah, you don’t have to work around my school schedule anymore.” Mob’s comment is pretty neutral, but Reigen feels guilty anyway.
“Mob, I know I’ve said it before but you are welcome back any time. On breaks or… if you drop out or whatever.”
“Drop out? My parents were right, you are a bad influence.”
“Your parents think I’m a bad influence?”
“Oh, not until the whole… thing on TV.” Mob is kind enough to leave this reference vague, but of course Reigen knows exactly what he’s talking about.
“Right. Well, my offer still stands, Mob. Fifty-fifty partners, whenever you want it.”
“What about Serizawa?”
“He’s happy with the 300 yen an hour.” After a beat, they both laugh. “How’s school, anyway?”
“Oh, I don’t know, I’m thinking of dropping out.”
Reigen freezes mid-bite, noodles dangling from his chopsticks.
“I’m kidding! It’s going well.” Mob tells him about his classes, his new friends. After ten, fifteen minutes, he gets quieter, poking at his remaining food.
It’s well past midnight. “You sleepy?”
Reigen gets the bill and to-go boxes, and drives Mob back to his dorm. The kid nods off barely five minutes into the drive, so Reigen puts the address into his phone’s GPS. He turns down the volume on the voice commands, lets Mob sleep for a few minutes at least.
When he pulls up outside the dorm, he taps Mob’s shoulder. “Mob, we’re here.”
Mob blinks awake, looks out the window. “Oh, I fell asleep. Sorry. I was supposed to give you directions—”
“I found the way,” Reigen says, holding up his phone.
“Well. Thanks again. It was really nice to see you.” Haltingly, Mob leans over the center console and gives Reigen a hug. It’s kind of a hug—his head nestled to Reigen’s shoulder, and one hand resting on the other. Reigen brings a hand up to Mob’s back, but at that moment Mob pulls away, says, “Goodnight!” and hops out of the car.
“Goodnight!” Reigen matches his cheerful tone. “Don’t forget your take-out, and… have mine, too. Please.” Mob grins and grabs the two boxes. Reigen watches as he walks away, waits until he gets inside the building. Waits a minute or two after that, just to be safe. Then he puts the car back into drive and heads back home.