Keep holding on
When my brains tickin' like a bomb
Guess the black thoughts have come again to get me
Sweet bitter words
Unlike nothing I have heard
Sing along Mocking bird
You don't affect me
~Korn, Coming Undone
“Good morning, Reigen-san. How are you today?”
The words come from a nurse holding a clipboard, one who is stationed at Reigen’s bedside. She’s the only spot of color in the entire room in her baby blue scrubs—except, that is, for the red scratches lining Reigen’s arms. She looks him over once, twice, taking note of the hands that Reigen has forcibly relaxed at his sides. The cuffs—soft but sturdy—keep them down. Down near the bed, down and useless.
A cockroach crawls leisurely up the sweep of the nurse’s bangs, just above the block of morning sunlight hitting her face. Voices hum in the distance.
Reigen snaps back in time to see the nurse taking note of the way his eyes went unfocused, scribbling a few words on her clipboard. When she looks back up, Arataka flashes his best grin. It’s wide, made mostly of teeth, with an added crinkle in the eye to make it more authentic. “I think I’m ready to get these cuffs off now,” he says.
With a slow, deliberate breath, Reigen blinks heavy eyes into focus on the face hovering in front of him. Ah. Serizawa. What…?
“I was just asking how you are today, Reigen-san. Are you feeling all right?”
It takes a moment for Reigen to orient himself. He’s sitting up, feet on the floor. Right hand, left hand—both free and unrestrained. Slowly, sluggishly, the memory—flashback?—of his time in the hospital fades away, leaving behind a low curl of nausea in the back of his throat.
Ah. He hasn’t had one of those in a while.
No time to dwell on it. “Good morning, Serizawa,” he says, stretching both hands into the air with a fake yawn. The nausea doesn’t quite go away—it just settles into a low hum in the pit of his stomach. “You took me by surprise. Feeling fine, just haven’t had my coffee yet, which, as you know, is a very important building block in a pseudo-psychic’s day. Can’t do anything without it. Really do need that caffeine boost to function, eh?”
Serizawa eyes him doubtfully. Reigen resists the urge to nonchalantly kick his feet up onto his desk. “…You look a little off. Did you sleep well?”
Sleep? Not much, actually. He spent the night in bed, annoyed about the fact that he was still awake but unable to do much about it. Happens more often than he’d like to admit. But that’s neither here nor there, and certainly not what Reigen wants his best employee to be focused on right now.
Reigen flashes a grin, the same grin that he used to flash all the nurses at the hospital, leaning back in his seat in order to spring to his feet. Serizawa steps quickly back, out of his way. “I slept like a baby, Serizawa! Stop fretting about it already; we have an appointment with that wardrobe spirit to attend to. It’s time to go! Chop chop!” Clapping his hands, Reigen starts to move toward the door.
Following a beat behind, Serizawa hums softly. “Are you… are you sure—?”
“Oh, and we can stop for coffee on the way!” Reigen throws over his shoulder. If he just so happens to cut Serizawa’s question off, well, that’s okay. The answer is implied, anyway. He’s sure. Always is. One hundred percent.
Reigen leads the way out of the building and is one hundred percent certain that a little cafe food will cure the nausea still coiling within him.