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The Sound of Support

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Mob really was trying to be on time today, really. He used to be so punctual, but getting more and more submerged in his friend group and social life has jeopardized his sense of timeliness. "Hey," Dimple floats around his head like a star from Looney Tunes. "Not sure if you care or realize, but time is ticking by, Shigeo." He waits for Mob to reply or look at him or something, but the boy is lost in the conversation, an uncharacteristically free smile on his face. It had been funny at first, watching him fumble his way into the conversation, but now it's just boring watching him listen to everyone talk like a love struck snowman.

They had been about to leave the club room when Tsubomi walked in, hair tied up, a thin sheen of sweat on her face, and a tennis racket in hand. It was obvious to Dimple the moment Mob heard her voice, they wouldn't be leaving for a while.

"Shigeo." Dimple repeats, voice grumbly and annoyed. Manifesting one of his arms, he pokes Mob's cheek to try to get his attention off of Tsubomi and the club. "Come on, let's go. Your master said to be there on time or not to bother coming. Doesn't that sound like he's threatening to fire you?" Bringing that up is a bit of a low blow, so Dimple prepares for any response Mob might have to that.

He was expecting him to be on edge- or at the very least his mood to be dampened- at the reminder of their somewhat recent argument. No matter how hard Mob tries to hide it, it's obvious he's been worried about it. Same with Reigen. So it's been entertaining watching them dance around the subject, not wanting to repeat what happened months ago when they went their own ways. Despite Dimple's full preparation for Mob to glare at him or tell him to stop talking, maybe insist that he go away, nothing changes. Oh, he's being ignored. Staring at Mob intensely for a solid minute, even that seems to not bother him as he smiles and nods along to the conversation the club and Tsubomi have kept alight for the good part of 10 minutes. "Really." Dimple mumbles, though he finally backs off a little, floating away so that he's not practically touching Mob's face. "I get you like Tsubomi, but you'd rather stay here and listen to them talk about a social studies test than go and do something productive?"

"It's not every day Tsubomi comes into the club room, though." Mob finally says, glancing briefly up at the spirit. Dimple feels a little bitter since all signs of happiness are wiped clean from Mob's face upon looking at him instead of the object of his affection. (Like, at least don't look like you want to use him as a baseball or something.)

There's a giggle, causing whatever Onigawara was ranting about to fall away from Mob's ears. Eyes widening slightly, he turns his attention back to Tsubomi to see her smiling at him sweetly. The way she holds her own chin as she laughs makes something sparkle and crack somewhere in his chest, a warm ember heating his heart. "I guess you're right, Kageyama, nobody really comes in here too often since it gets somewhat crowded." (Without anyone having to look at them, the Telepathy Club make defensive noises, Kurata glaring at them half heartedly as she tries to continue guzzling the 2 liter of mountain dew cascading into her mouth.) Mob, mouth slightly agape, stares at her for a few moments. Tsubomi's lips twitch a little in amusement and she absentmindedly plays with the tennis racket in her hand, index finger gently gliding across the waffle squares. "Though..." She starts quietly, gaze gliding from her racket up to Mob's face. "I guess I could come by more often, it's easier to leave my gear here than to carry it home."

Heart fluttering a bit, Mob blurts without thinking, "I can carry your tennis bag home! ... For training." He not so subtlely tenses the arms at his sides, making the small muscles of his arms move under his white club shirt.

Tsubomi's giggle is punctuated by a tiny snort and her expression deflates a little in embarassment. "Uh," She twists her hands around the handle of the racket absentmindedly, suddenly seeming a little more distant. "Then I wouldn't have to come to club." She laughs. She stands there, looking slightly awkward. Shouldering off her tennis bag, she kneels down and puts her racket and visor inside. "A-Anyway." Clearing her throat a little, she raises her voice back to the level she'd been using to speak with the whole group. "It's been nice talking to all of you. See you around."

There's a chorus of farewells and Mob's timid goodbye is masked by the rest of the club's boisterous voices. The fitness room suddenly feels more empty at the loss of one person, the air feeling more stagnant. Glancing to the clock, Dimple purses his lips. They're going to be late if they don't hurry up. "You can still be on time if you get your ass in gear." Dimple turns his attention back to him and is startled to find him staring defeatedly at the floor, mouth twitching between his usual relaxed neutral expression and a frown. "Whoa, hey, what's with that look?"

"...Tsubomi...laughed at me." He mumbles dejectedly. Before Dimple can step in and try (and fail) to comfort him, Gouda claps a big warm hand on Mob's back, shaking him out of his trance.

"Hey, that's not a bad thing, Kageyama." There's a light to his gaze that says that he might realize Mob's feelings for the girl. "Don't worry about it. Tsubomi isn't the cruel type at all, so if she was laughing it probably wasn't at you." Mob is still looking slightly dejected, though there's an obvious change in his demeanor, his back straight as opposed to the hunched sadness from only a moment before.

Butting in, Onigawara rubs his neck with a towel, misting his face with a squeeze bottle as he speaks. "Yeah, it seemed like she was laughing with you."

...

"Tsubomi...and me? She was laughing with me...?" He murmurs softly to himself and Gouda chuckles, patting his head gently before excusing himself.

"See ya tomorrow, Kageyama." At Gouda's dismissal, the rest of the club bid their own goodbyes and start gathering their things to head home. Not bothering to change into his uniform, Mob shoulders his bag and jogs for the exit. Dimple isn't sure if he's running because he realized the time, or if he's just trying to get out the excess energy that's spilling out of him through his giddy, wobbly smile. Either way, Dimple doesn't complain as he floats along after him.

---

Hands in his pockets, Serizawa taps his foot erratically, watching the clock tick slowly. The two of them have been passing time in their own ways, Reigen's method of occupying himself being much more productive. The shuffle of papers and the scribble of a ballpoint pen fills the air, the only other sounds punctuating the room being the quiet steady click of the clock on the wall and the erratic tapping of Serizawa's hard soled shoe against the linoleum. Just like how Reigen has gotten lost in his work, Serizawa is lost in a trance as he compares how many foot taps echo for every one tick on the clock. He doesn't realize just how zoned out he is until Reigen clears his throat loudly. Eyes flicking suddenly from the wall to his boss, he watches the blonde shuffle some papers around and shut down his computer. "The taxi should be here soon, I think. Let's head out." There's only a touch of a frown on his face, but Serizawa catches it. Reigen speaks again, voice mumbling, and Serizawa wonders if he meant to say it out loud or not. "If Mob is a no show, it's fine, you're more than capable of our job."

He's caught a bit off guard by the praise, flushing slightly and stuttering a thank you as he follows Reigen towards the door. "Should you text him and let him know we won't be here?"

"Oh-" Reigen opens the door, stooping down a bit to fish his phone out of his pocket. "Good idea." Hand in his pocket, Reigen saunters toward the staircase, punching in half of Mob's phone number. Before he has the chance to finish, the devil himself comes up the staircase, Dimple floating idly around him. Masking the relief and spark of giddiness at having his disciple join them after all, Reigen flicks his wrist and dramatically closes his cellphone. "You're here, Mob." His face is straight and his voice feigns annoyance.

Looking away from watching Dimple, Mob jumps a bit. There’s a flush on his face and seeing as it’s accompanied by his labored breathing and sweat, he figures he jogged the whole way. “I...Sorry, master. Something...came up.”

Whatever resolve Reigen had to joke about his annoyance or disappointment melts away immediately. Lips quirking into a small smirk, he pat-pats his student’s shoulder. Motioning with his hand, he skirts around Mob and pauses at the top of the stairs. “It’s okay, Mob, just hurry up and throw your school stuff in the office and follow along.” Walking down the staircase, the stair well makes his words echo. “Quickly!” He bellows dramatically and Serizawa is sure that he only felt the need to add that because of the echo.

Mob hurries over as Serizawa is unlocking the door that he had just locked. “Sorry I’m late.” Mob adds- even though he’s probably less than half of Serizawa’s age, the way the inexperienced man looks up to him as a ‘senpai’ makes his lateness sting even more in his mind.

Of course, Serizawa doesn’t actually seem to mind and he waves it off as he opens the door, keys jingling in his hand. “No, it’s fine. Reigen seems glad you showed up.”

Mob doesn’t say anything, shouldering his backpack off and setting it on the couch. Wordlessly, Serizawa relocks the door and the two of them hurry downstairs, Mob trailing behind as his mind wanders back to Tsubomi involuntarily. There’s a small series of honks just as they step outside, a taxi sitting idle next to the sidewalk with Reigen half inside of it. His face lights up a little in relief to see that they won’t have to keep their taxi driver waiting long after all. In no time, they’re all seated in the back, Reigen opting to sit in the middle so that they don’t squish Mob. (Dimple thinks that maybe Reigen doesn’t mind being squished by Serizawa but for once he decides to tilkeep his mouth shut.)

Reigen keeps glancing to Mob as if he’s expecting him to say something. When it’s obvious that Mob is focused on staring out the window and not focused on potential conversation, Reigen nudges his arm with his elbow. “You’re not going to ask where we’re going?”

Humming, Mob tears his gaze away from the passing streets and cars, looking to his mentor blankly. “No.”

“...Oh.” Reigen deflates a little, seeing Mob turn his gaze back toward the window. Frowning softly, he stares down at his shoes, tilting his shoes and watching the light refract off the newly polished surface. Maybe Mob is still upset about the argument they got into last week. Well, it would make sense, he keeps calling in to say he’ll be late or he won’t show up at all, so...maybe he’s slowly drifting away for good. Thoughts like these pool slowly into the front of his mind and Reigen chews the sore spot on his lip as he thinks.

After a small bout of silence, Mob adds, “I wasn’t going to ask because it’s usually the same routine.” His sudden contribution to the silent car ride just about makes him jump, drawing him out of thoughts like a hook tearing a fish from the water. Smile slightly wobbly as he realizes he had been slowly losing his composure, Reigen meets Mob’s gaze. “Is there something different about this one?”

“Well!” Reigen bellows dramatically, stretching his arms out and hooking both of his employees by the neck, pulling them into a small huddle. “We’re going to the Soy Stadium. Our client called kind of last minute so it’s up to us to help save the day.”

“Last minute?”

Reigen nods, pointing with a thumb out the window at the bus next to them waiting for the light to turn green. On the side it sports a large advertisement for a music festival. “Perfect timing.” Serizawa comments, eyes slightly wide.

“The organizers said that one of the band members was confronted by a ghost. It could put people in danger if they just let hundreds of people waltz into a place with an active and malicious spirit, so I guess it’s better late than never.”

Mob rolls the information around in his head for the rest of the short ride. Staring out the window, his mind lingers back and forth between the case ahead of them and the way Tsubomi looked at him earlier. He’s the only one in the back seat who doesn’t notice the small smile flickering onto his face. It lingers even as they get out of the car, taking the form of a distracted glint in his eye instead as he follows the lead of the adults, barely hearing any of what they say to the clients. When he finally tunes back into what’s happening, Reigen is looking at him with pursed lips, looking slightly annoyed. “Oh. Did I miss something?” He shakes away the thoughts of Tsubomi again.

Reigen looks like he’s about to snap at him, mouth twitching open. Maybe he remembers previous times when he’s said the wrong thing in the heat of the moment, because he closes his mouth again and shakes his head, offering a weak and obviously forced smile. “Nothing important, it’s fine. Just pay attention from now on, Mob.” He swivels on his foot and they head down the hallway, passing through a door labeled ‘staff only’.

Mentally kicking himself, Mob tries his hardest to keep himself present and in the moment. With wide and focused eyes, he watches where they go and with wide and focused ears he listens for what his friends say. “That girl reaaally threw you off, huh?” Dimple teases, settling on his shoulder like Humpty Dumpty.

Jumping a bit in surprise, Mob looks at him blankly. “Be careful that you don’t get thrown off.” Dimple floats off just before Mob shrugs his shoulders, grinning cheekily at the boy before he disappears in front of Reigen, seeming to want to bother him instead. That fart cloud.

Suddenly the teasing chattering of Dimple and the annoyed and uninterested remarks from Reigen in turn are interrupted. “Wait.” Serizawa stops suddenly and Mob bumps into his back. (When did he space off again?) He looks up at his coworker to see him surveying the area. The hallway they’re in splits off into different sections, one way leading to the wing with the performers’ changing room, another leading to the storage room, and another leading to the preparation area backstage. “Kageyama-senpai,” He looks down at Mob with almost the same expression Mob looks up to Reigen with. “Do you feel anything? Something weird?”

Blinking away all of the thoughts that might preoccupy him, Mob feels the atmosphere around them. “Oh-” He understands what’s got Serizawa all confused. “It’s like there’s one presence spread out over this entire section of the building.” He can’t recall ever seeing something quite like this, but then again they don’t encounter too many poltergeists. “Dimple, what do you think?”

Dimple looks only slightly uneasy, his arms popping out just so he can cross them. “Ehhhhng...I don’t know, there’s lots of kinds of poltergeists. It’s hard to tell just based on the presence its leaving what kind it is.”

Reigen slips one of his hands out of his pocket to wave a confused finger at Dimple. “Different kinds of poltergeists? What does that matter, we’re asking where you think it’s hiding.”

Pointing a rigid finger back at Reigen, Dimple waves the other one wildly. “Hey I’m trying to help! The point is that it’s hard to categorize spirits. If this is a poltergeist it doesn’t mean there’s a cut and dry way of finding it because they’re especially slippery!”

Taking his other hand out of his pocket, Reigen throws his arms up dramatically. “You shoulda just said you didn’t know!” Sinking back into his normal work demeanor, he motions for them to follow and drops his hands again. “Let’s just start looking then. Splitting up would be a bad idea, I’ve seen Scooby Doo. Let’s just scan all the rooms really quick.”

Sighing, Dimple lets his arms disappear into his body again. Looking around, he tries to strategize, maybe he can help point them in a better direction rather than subject them all to mindless searching for a spirit that very easily conceals its location. “If it doesn’t want to be found then it won’t do any good to just wander around.” He grumbles. Eyes lighting up with the traces of an idea, Dimple turns toward Reigen to ask him something...but thinks better of it and turns to Serizawa (earning from Reigen a confused and offended noise). “Serizawa!”

“Y-Yes?!” The man jolts a little, not expecting the serious tone.

“Did the client’s report about the spirit say anything about triggers? Like, any certain noise, item, or anything?”

Face lighting up in understanding, Serizawa nods. “Apparently the person who gets attacked the most is the director’s apprentice.”

All of them fall quiet. With a few moments of silence and glances toward Mob, the boy blinks and asks, “Wouldn’t using the apprentice as bait be a little morally gray?” ...The three of them glance at each other, and suddenly Mob has a feeling he misunderstood where this was going.

 

Okay, it’s fine. This is fine. Despite Reigen’s best attempts at not splitting the group up (because Scooby Doo, he kept reasoning), they ended up parting ways anyway. Pretending to not be affiliated with Mob when the spirit has most likely been watching them interact...probably won’t help at all. But he doesn’t mind splitting up so he just does as commanded, walking up and down the hallways for any sign of the spirit or anything out of place. Walking past a certain door, energy licks at his arm as he passes it by and it stops him in his tracks. Stepping back to look at the door, he reads the placard to the side. Storage room. Glancing around, he doesn’t see the others but somewhere a few rooms down he feels Serizawa’s energy. Ah well, he can handle it himself. The sooner they get done, the sooner he can go do something else.

He’s not one to have many fears really, so walking into a dark and dingy storage room doesn’t really phase him. If anything, the only thing that gets to him is that something smells vaguely of mold and decay. It feels out of place in such a nice stadium, but then again he doesn’t really see this building get put to good use for most of the year, so it’d be understandable if cleanliness is a little lacking in a room not open to the public. The door creaks as he opens it the rest of the way and he takes in the sight of the room with light from the hallway filtering in. It looks a bit ominous, but the feeling it gave him is muted, like a child in a game of hide and seek trying desperately to muffle their giggles with their hands clasped tightly over their mouth. Stepping into the room, he reaches up to pull the string on the ceiling light (but he has to use his powers because it’s just out of reach). It seems like it’s all for naught though, as the light flickers and turns off immediately. Okay.

Pulling out his cellphone, he flicks it open to use for light...but he notices he has a text from a number he doesn’t have saved. Forgetting momentarily where he is and what he’s doing, he opens the message and...holy shit. Holy shit.

‘Hey, Kageyama! My tennis friend Takenaka gave me your number, I hope you don’t mind. I wanted to thank you for offering to carry my bag. (。◕‿◕。)’

It takes him a solid minute for his mind to put together two and two and realize that this is Tsubomi. Cheeks flaring up in red hot crimson, he stares at the message with his mouth agape. Through his stunned haze, he notices the top of a few letters just above the cut off of the screen. There’s more to the message…! Fully distracted, he doesn’t catch onto the noises of something clattering around quietly behind him. He scrolls the message to read the rest.

‘It was really sweet of you to offer. To be honest, I--’

The rest of the message is left a mystery. Interrupting his dreamlike state is the sound of two large marching band-sized cymbals crashing against his skull. Cold metal slapping his ears, the world starts ringing, spinning, and falling, falling fast and he hits the concrete floor of the storage room with a hefty thud. Lashing out blindly, he throws his hand out to try to melt the spirit, but with his eyes shut tightly involuntarily, he misses entirely. The missed wave of panicked energy throws one of the shelves over, sending dozens of boxes of who knows what cascading down onto the floor.

Prying his eyes open, Mob is having trouble seeing in the dark- everything looks darker than it was before, too, for whatever reason. His ears are still ringing like a neglected alarm clock and when he lifts his hand to try to aim an attack at the spirit, he misses again, accidentally launching a table full stacked with plastic water bottles. The plastic bottles tumble to the floor and roll around, some rolling out of the room like they’re calling for help from any passersby.

A few rooms away, Reigen and Dimple are peeking inside of an unused changing room, poking their heads in and looking for any sign of a ghost. “Heeere ghosty ghosty ghostyyy.” Reigen taunts and Dimple puts some distance between them in case something goes flying at the man.

“You really think you should be teasing it?”

Reigen- hand still cupped around his mouth- side eyes Dimple. “Who says I was teasing it?”

“M-Master Reigen!” Serizawa’s voice draws their attention as he hurries over to them. “The energy is gatheri--” A crash echoes through the hallway, followed quickly by another one that sends a stream of bottled water rolling out of the storage room down the way.

Something settles weirdly in Reigen’s chest. Usually there aren’t any real struggles when fighting a spirit, so to hear two giant crashes in quick succession sets his feet in motion. They’re at the threshold of the storage room in a heartbeat, Serizawa skidding in front of him and Dimple. His short hair is waving gently like tall grass in a breeze, his psychic energy filling the room. In a flash, the room lights up with energy and the ghost screeches and whines as it fizzles down to nothing. The tension in Reigen’s body melts away with the ghost and he breathes a sigh. “I guess we were worried for nothing.” Grinning a little, he pats the taller man on the back in praise. “Good job as always.” He misses the starstruck look in his employee’s eyes at the praise, instead his gaze trains on Mob. “Hey, you okay? Seemed like you were having some trouble.”

The middle schooler staggers to his feet, looking a little dazed. Mob blinks blearily, standing up straight and rubbing the side of his head gingerly. “Thank you, sorry you needed to help.”

Reigen nods, smiling gently before twirling on his foot. “Alright, if you don’t mind doing a quick sweep to make sure no other spirits are left behind, we can go get paid.” He glances around the room, looking for the light switch- but among the water bottles on the ground are a few pieces of shattered glass. Ah, no light. Oh well, that’ll give Serizawa something to do while Mob scans for any hiders.

Occupying themselves with their respective tasks, Dimple notices Mob is still dazed. Fluttering over to him, he mumbles, “Eh, Shige, do you feel anything?” Dimple can tell that there aren’t any more spirits in the area- not any strong enough to feel, anyway- but he poses the question simply to draw Mob out of whatever he’s focused on. The preoccupied look on his face is different than the one from earlier. Waiting for a response, Mob ends up ignoring him, kneeling down to pick up his phone instead, closing it without looking at it. Frowning, Dimple grumbles and leaves him be. “Reigen, there’s nothing else, let’s get outta here.”

“Ah-” Closing his own phone, Reigen smiles and breathes a sigh of relief. “Good. Let’s go, Mob.” They watch as the teen’s gaze drifts around the room, at all the chaos that his powers had caused. “Hey, don’t worry. I’m sure they won’t mind that we made a mess. Serizawa cleaned up the worst of it, so--”

“Let’s go.” Mob interjects, turning his attention back on the group. The blunt way he interrupts him mid sentence rubs him the wrong way and Reigen has to fight off the nervous thoughts that cropped up on the ride here.

“A...Ah. Yeah, let’s go.” They walk out of the room, closing the door (and Serizawa puts one of the ‘caution: wet floor’ signs on the floor even though the water bottles are still unopened. Heading toward the front of the building, Reigen starts to get giddy. This was a good paying job and it seems like the price wasn’t an attempt to overcompensate for an intense workload. Actually, it seems like it was about the same as always, but with double or maybe even triple the payout. “Hey!” He grins, a slight bounce slipping into his stride. “How about we all go out for food after the concert? My treat.”

Serizawa’s face lights up in surprise. “After the concert? Why are we staying that long?”

Shrugging, Reigen pulls out three tickets-- well, not tickets, Serizawa realizes, as they don’t have seat numbers or anything. They’re more like personalized backstage passes, q-cards that have the signatures of the three main organizers with a note that they’re allowed to sit backstage during the concert if they wish. “They gave this to us, said if we couldn’t get rid of the ghost before the concert they’d like us to stick around and make sure nothing bad happens to any of the concert goers. Buuut~” He fans his face with them dramatically. “Since we finished the job, we can go get paid and then sit back stage and revel in the glory of the bands.” He holds the fan of tickets out to Serizawa and the taller man takes one with an awkward but appreciative thank you. “Anddd one for you, my student.” Reigen says dramatically, putting his free hand on Mob’s shoulder as he offers him a ticket.

“...What? What’s this?”

Reigen blinks, whatever he was about to say for dramatic effect falling short. “...What? What do you mean, I just explai--”

“Oh. Thanks, I guess.” Mob doesn’t look up at him, simply takes one of the two tickets and reads it over silently.

Feeling...weirdly dejected, Reigen takes his hand off of Mob’s shoulder, his dramatic demeanor growing colder as he reverts back into his normal business self. Probably for the best, since he’s going to go talk to their clients, so...whatever. There’s an awkward silence before Reigen breaks away from the group. “Take him and head backstage, I’ll meet up with you guys in a while.”

As suggested, they break off from the blonde and follow the directions to the stage, flashing their special permission to some of the people there (though they aren’t security and don’t really seem to care since they’re just sitting quietly and listening to the music. There are a few chairs sitting around, so the adult esper takes a seat in one of them. Mob seems to consider sitting in a chair but decides to sit on the floor, tucking his legs to his chest. Sometimes Serizawa forgets that he’s still a kid, but the way he sits puts a small smile on his face at how starkly contrasted it is with his adult-like view of Mob and his abilities.

Now that they’re so close to the concert hall, the sound of the music is almost deafening. If the speakers were facing them rather than facing away, Serizawa feels as though they’d blow them away. “This band seems pretty good.” He comments, hands awkwardly folded in his lap. He waits, and waits, but he realizes he might not have heard him- he has a habit of talking quietly, and it’s pretty loud here, so that doesn’t help.

Reigen comes back with Dimple trailing behind him. He looks content, a thick envelope of money in his hand that he lifts victoriously to show Serizawa. The way Serizawa glances between him and the younger esper makes his expression falter and he frowns, taking in the sight of Mob sitting with his head tucked against his knees. He looks really tired. “Oi, Mob.” When there’s no response, he raises his voice a little, trying to be loud enough to be heard over the music. “Mob.” There’s no response again, so he kneels down on one knee and grips his shoulder. Looking as if it’s a struggle, Mob lifts his head and looks up at him blearily. “You don’t look like you’re doing so well.” Reigen comments. No response, still. He doesn’t know whether he should be worried or annoyed. This wouldn’t be the first time Mob has given him the cold shoulder, but...he’s usually not this persistent. And he can’t remember doing anything that would warrant it, at least not today...Maybe when he was alone he reflected on their previous argument, or...

“M...Master-” Mob flinches a little, the lights from the stage peeking through the backstage curtains hurting his eyes. “Can I- I go home?”

Brows quirking up a little, Reigen smiles weakly and nods. “Yeah, let’s go.” Holding a hand out for Mob, he glances up to Serizawa. “You can st…” Before he can even get it out, Serizawa is already standing and folding up the chair that he had borrowed. He smiles to himself, remembering the other man’s reassurance that he thinks of him as a friend and not just his co-worker. The smile slips a little though when he realizes there’s an absence of Mob’s hand in his and he looks down to see that the boy hasn’t made any move to stand up. “Uh, hey, Mob?” He prompts, prodding his side with the toe of his shoe. The boy jumps a bit, letting out an ‘oh’ and stands up, not accepting the blonde’s hand. Observing him, it looks like he just didn’t notice-- his eyes are still closed tightly-- but the dumb part of Reigen’s subconscious takes it to heart anyway. Clearing his throat, he retracts his hand and instead puts it on Mob’s shoulder blades, leading him gently.

After a few steps, Mob seems to catch on that Reigen is going to keep his hand there for support. “I’m fine, my head just hurts.”

“I mean, are you sure?” He grimaces slightly. None of this is sitting right with him. After a few moments of no response, Reigen’s shoulders sag a little and he steps away to give him some space, walking with his hands in his pockets. No use in pressing the matter and making him uncomfortable, though it’d be a lie to say he isn’t feeling a bit bitter that Mob keeps ignoring him.

None of them can remember a car ride this awkward. The driver probably thinks there was some sort of fight right before they got into the car. Poor Serizawa is more nervous than he would be, because somehow he ended up in the middle seat. With a quietly brooding Reigen pressed against one of his sides and a deathly quiet Mob against his other, he’s trapped emotionally and physically. Once or twice, he tries to make small talk with either of them, but Mob doesn’t even acknowledge him. Reigen tries to humor him but the conversation dies after a few short words, so he finally gives up.

Getting out of the car, Reigen gives the driver a tip (because he kept glancing at the mirror and noticing the anxious, sweaty face of their poor innocent driver). The walk up to the office is much like the car ride, except Serizawa has the freedom to walk behind them both and not feel like a wall separating them. The teen walks between them, his steps slow as a testament to his weariness. Their boss is farthest ahead, seeming to be bursting with energy from the fight or flight situation that was the car ride. Clearing his throat, Reigen pulls a key to the office from his pocket, fumbling with it briefly before pushing it open. “Alright, we’re here.” He announces. He isn’t expecting a response, but Serizawa gives one to him anyway, letting out a quiet ‘woo’ to humor him. Despite himself, Reigen smiles, shoulders sagging in defeat. That’s fine, okay. Serizawa cares at least.

Yeah, it’s okay if Mob is mad at him.

Maybe it’s better if he stays away?

After all, he’s not a very good...person…

Tensing, he snaps back to reality. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he takes a few careful step towards the desk, suddenly looking methodical. “Uh, hey...Shigeo.” He starts. “I...I’m sorry, about everything that happened last week.” Pausing, he takes his silence as a sign to go on. “You know...I don’t think I ever fully apologized for what I said to you a few months ago, either. Maybe if I had just, I don’t know... ignored my ego for a second, maybe we could have patched up our differences long t--” He turns to give Mob a weak smile but realizes he’s not listening. “--ime...ago…”

Glancing to Serizawa and Dimple, it’s clear by their awkward expressions, Mob hadn’t been listening to him at all. “Dammit…” He hisses quietly, a pain in his chest as he realizes he might be even more upset at him than he anticipated. Throwing caution to the wind, he walks over to the boy. He’s occupied with organizing some of the stuff in his backpack when Reigen grips his shoulder a bit rougher than he means to. “Shigeo! Really? Are you that mad at me?”

Mob jolts under his hand, a small noise of surprise escaping him. Eyes wide, he looks up to Reigen in shock. “O-Oh…! Master, sorry, what were you saying?”

They stare at each other levelly and the blonde doesn’t miss the small touch of anxiety in Mob’s eyes. Calming down his annoyance, Reigen’s hand loosens and his face softens a little. “I...Did you not hear me pouring my heart out over here?” He practically shouts in his desperation and he flushes, feeling instantly bad for raising his voice at Mob.

At first, he thinks that maybe Mob is going to purposefully ignore him, shrug his hand off, maybe tell him to go away or something irrational like that. But after a long pause, Mob’s eyes squint slightly, his head tilting just a touch. “M...Master? Why are you talking so quietly?”

“...What?” Reigen’s voice drops to a whisper, the uncomfortable pain in his heart spreading outward, tendrils of anxiety settling in him. “I’m…” Raising his voice to a normal level, he grips both of Mob’s shoulders to convey how serious he is. “I’m not talking any quieter than usual.”

Mob slowly moves his gaze to Serizawa, a bad feeling settling in the air. “Why...is Master being so quiet?”

Stumbling on his words, the man’s eyes dart between them. “He’s...He’s talking normally.” Serizawa assures him, raising his own voice louder than Reigen’s.

Mob stares at him before bringing his hands up to his ears, cupping them and uncupping them slowly. There’s no change. Behind him, Reigen does his own test, snapping his fingers on either side of Mob’s head to no reaction whatsoever. “Oh.” Mob breathes. He must not be able to hear his tone, or else he would have hid his nervousness better. “I...I can’t hear.”