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iii/iii

 

There was something to be said here about bridges – crossing them when you came to them, not burning them up. Superstition, sometimes: something ghosts could not cross.

(...Or was that water?)

"Do you want to stop now?" Reigen, his firm fingers waiting.

"No," Mob said, closing his eyes. "No."

Reigen nodded – Mob felt it against his leg, the pull and sway of his hair – and pushed inside with one finger. His hands that Mob loved so, those were his other asset, the blessings of career conmen, and god he was so fucking good with them. Mob didn't know how he would talk if he didn't have them, even if his mouth was left intact, because they did as much work as his tongue. He was so persuasive, opening Mob up in a matter of minutes, leaving him quiet and quivering, his body pulsing. Three fingers – Mob didn't even know how he'd done it, couldn't follow it, all he knew was his body being coaxed open, something deep in the pit of his belly simmering, shimmering, his legs trembling. He shouldn't have hustled him earlier. Miracle worker: now he was showing him exactly how it was done.

"Feel okay?"

"Y...yes..."

Mob could hear him fiddling with the tube again. He knew what was coming now, the only logical conclusion, and he wanted it like hell but also wanted to throw up a barrier and knock him into the wall when he tried it. He had no idea why. He didn't feel all that sane right now. He wanted this to last forever and he wanted it to be over. He wanted Reigen deep inside him and he wanted him as far away from him as possible. He wanted to remember every lingering touch and he wanted to forget they'd ever met. He wanted to undo it, redo it, devour it.

At least it was dark. Nothing was concrete, there was no light and glass to hold him in. There was only shape, sound, the secretive rustle of fabric, the jingle of a belt, the edge of Reigen's mouth against his knee. He felt him slide his hands over his hips, groping his way blind, his body moving forward against his own, hardness, heat. He squeezed his fists, he opened his legs wider, felt the muscles pull. His power was simmering under the surface of his skin and he drew it in, held on tight. He barely knew where he was anymore.

"Are you ready?" Reigen whispered. He sounded near, his voice tugging like a cast line. It brought Mob back: the brink of that insatiable greed.

"Yes," he said – and he knew he sounded it. Good. He wanted him to know.

Reigen did know because he knew fucking everything and now he would fuck everything he knew because Mob was the only thing that filled up his head – perfect, really, as he filled up Mob's body. Tit for tat, tongues, transactions. Reigen sighed like the shore as he entered him and Mob arched his back at the incredible hot tight push and his power surged upwards and pulled his shoulders off the bed, too. He gripped the headboard, hanging suspended, Reigen holding him tight. Anchor.

"Mob?" he panted. "Are you...?"

Mob simply gave a strangled sigh, tipping his head back, feeling his hair swing off his face. He knew he was half-floating and there really wasn't much he could do about it and honestly he didn't particularly care. He felt so filled up by Reigen that his power was being pushed out through the gaps in his ribs and the gaping hole in his heart – and god, what better way for it to go–

"You can't stay like that."

Reigen firmly put his hand to Mob's chest and pushed him down, his back sinking against the sheets. Mob knew it wouldn't do much good because he really couldn't seem to get a handle on it, his body straining against his palm. Honestly he only felt half-conscious, his brain slowing, focusing only on Reigen pulsing deep within him–

"Oi." Reigen pressed down on top of him, pinning him, taking his face, and Mob gave a jolt and his power dropped. He settled into the mattress, sighing, and Reigen came with him.

"I know you have better control than that," he said quietly. His mouth found Mob's damp forehead. "Come on now."

"Sorry," Mob breathed, his body trembling beneath him. Reigen still had his shirt on, he could feel it against his tingling skin. "I-I just... it f-feels so..."

Now his cheek. "Does it hurt?"

"No." Mob swallowed, sliding his hands over Reigen's back, up under his shirt, his skin slick. "It... you feel... so amazing, I-I..."

Reigen laughed against his ear, quiet, delighted, surprised. "You're so kind to me." He rubbed at Mob's cheek. “You feel wonderful, too.”

Mod held him. He said nothing. He was calm as long as he was close, more controlled, his power blistering but not bursting, breaking, and his legs were trembling and his heart was thundering and he wanted Reigen to move, move

Reigen did. Omniscient – there were plenty of gods who were liars, tricksters, weighed down with hearts of gold. Maybe if you cut him open he wouldn't be full of ramen and semen but seamen and shipwrecks and salt and swords with jeweled hilts and silver tongues that went black in the night. Mob hung onto him like old rope and Reigen rocked him like the tide and he pressed his teeth to his shoulder and tasted the salt there, too, stagnant on his skin. He wanted the earth to recede, to pull away and move on and leave them be. Parallel universes, yes, shaped like lifeboats, like lights across the water. This was what impermanence felt like. It smelt like broth, it looked like a slightly-crooked sign. Tomorrow the tide would come and wash it away. Mob held him and held him, his fingers numb in his shirt, in his hair, and Reigen was so gentle, so familiar. This didn't feel like the first time. He would drown here happily night after night, felt like he had, felt like he'd never get the chance again. It was worth the wait but he wished he hadn't waited so long.

"I-I want... want to s-see you," he whispered, drenched in the dark, his mouth against his neck.

Reigen didn't answer for a moment. Mob had expected him to be a talker, hoped he'd be a moaner, but he was pretty quiet, all things considered.

"The... the light...?" He said it right in his ear and Mob shuddered.

"Yeah."

"I-I don't..." Reigen paused, then stretched over him. Mob heard him fumble for a moment. "H-hang on..."

There was a dull heavy click and the lamp came on, haloing the room in a low brassy glow. Reigen had struggled with it because it was floating in mid-air. Everything in the room was, in fact, books pulled from shelves, pens lifted from the desk, a watch, a comb, a few coins gleaming like stars, all caught up in mid-air like a lazy wash of flotsam. It was so effortless that Mob couldn't even feel himself doing it. The furniture was still down, at least. Reigen reached out and took hold of the lamp by the cord, pulling it, but it buoyed away again like a balloon as soon as he let go.

"You're... really something else, aren't you?" he said. Breathless, so full of wonder. “How lucky I am, that you would love someone as... as plain and common as me.”

Mob wanted to say something, to correct him, to call him as common as the sun – an everyday occurrence that all life depended upon. The words would not come. He felt so weightless himself, couldn't call gravity back into his command, couldn't concentrate. He looked up at Reigen, ignoring the slothful ballet in his peripheral. His time in the dark, hidden, his head between Mob's legs, just his mouth and his hands and then, oh, the rest of him...

Mob had been afraid that he would suddenly look different but he didn't, he didn't, he looked the same as he should, this ageless thing of water and salt, too old, so young, gold hair, silver tongue. Mob saw him and started to cry.

"Oh, no, no," Reigen pleaded, holding him with trembling hands. "Don't cry. Please don't cry." He kissed at his tears, taking them on his tongue. "A-am I hurting you?"

"N-no," Mob hiccoughed.

"Then..."

Mob gripped him tighter, feeling his thin back bend. "It's... I-I..." He heard Reigen inhale against him. He was still so deep inside him, so weighted on top of him, as close as his own skin.

"I want," Mob said, his hands open, desperate. "I want..."

Reigen nodded. "I know," he said.

He kissed him, his large hands with their long fingers sliding under his shoulders, and Mob let him lift him, content with teeth, with tongue. Reigen rolled them over, settling back, Mob straining after him – and he felt him smile into the kiss. He took his chin and parted their mouths, Mob opening his eyes in confusion.

"Shishou..."

"Mm." Reigen's grin was curled like a cupid's bow, his hair wild against the pillow. "You said you trusted me."

"I do." Mob's mouth felt full.

"Sit back."

Mob didn't really want to, enjoying being flush chest-to-chest with him even though he couldn't feel his skin – but Reigen took his elbows and began to hoist him up anyway so he did it, shaking him off. He felt Reigen shift inside him as he moved, leaning his weight back, seeming to fill him up even more than before – and when he was upright, Reigen reached for his hips and angled him, gave him just a little jostle, and his body seemed to slough downwards, his own weight dragging on him, and oh oh

"Better?" Reigen's voiced seemed like an echo, bouncing off a thousand stars before it reached him.

Mob breathed out shakily through his nose and nodded, his whole body clenching, quivering. He put his hands on Reigen's stomach, holding himself upright, and he knew his hair was standing on end, he could feel it swaying like a sunburst, a supernova. He knew exactly what he looked like.

"D-don't... don't be afraid of me," he pleaded, his voice low and rasping. "I... I'm not..."

"Why would I be afraid of you?" Reigen, so calm, so sensible (or not), even now. Mob opened his eyes and looked down. Reigen was smiling at him as he always did, lit all the way to his eyes. Here was glass, here was understanding. That light could not get out.

"You act like I haven't seen this a hundred thousand times." Reigen flapped his hand at him, his wrist twisting, all cord and blue vein. "Look at you, falling star." He reached out towards him. His smile did not waver. "Come back down to earth. I'm waiting."

(And he, Rising Star, self-proclaimed, the only one who could meet Mob halfway. His arms were wide open.)

Mob's hair dropped and so did everything that had been floating, a balm of banal items bouncing off the floor. Reigen's hands slid up over his thighs and settled at his waist – and Mob felt like he'd broken the surface, everything bright and raw and shimmering. He wanted, he wanted. He held Reigen's wrists, felt the cool thrum of blood beneath his fingers, wanted to hang on forever, know it behind his eyes and under his tongue. He didn't want to go.

They were moving. Reigen held him and rocked his hips home to the hilt and Mob swayed with him, ebbing and flowing, breathless, riding, watching the rise of his ribcage beneath drenched cotton, the way his neck arched, the press of teeth on his bottom lip. He was lovely when he dropped the act and Mob was so glad that it was him. He held his powers close to him like a cape, hanging heavily on his shoulders, and he was so glad that it was him. Reigen was looking up at him like he was the most beautiful thing on this earth. Mob met his eyes and was relieved he was so quiet. He didn't need him to speak. He knew even though he'd never seen Reigen like this before, never seen him so open, so undone, sweating off the glue that held him together. He moved his hips like he'd practiced all his life for this, molten and deep, made to fit perfectly, and Mob felt like he'd taken root and was flowering his way up inside him, seizing his organs, wrapping around his heart and squeezing until he saw stars. He couldn't think straight. He thought he could feel the bed trembling a bit but it didn't matter to him. Reigen was hitting something deep in the core of him that made everything numb and bright, his whole body shuddering – his bones coming apart at the joints, sinew stretching, the meat peeling off and floating away, completely wild and feverish as he held Reigen's wrists, kept his eyes on his face. Dimly, on another plane of existence, he wondered if Reigen thought he was weird for staring at him, completely fixated. He couldn't help himself. He couldn't look away.

Maybe Reigen didn't realize. He had his eyes shut now, his bottom lip white under the pressure of his teeth, his shoulders pushed back into the pillow. Mob watched the buck and drag of the muscles in his stomach, how taut he was pulled, how deep his breathing. It was hard to imagine him in that suit and tie again now he'd seen this. Mob thought he was the most beautiful thing on this earth, too.

Reigen came with a low whine of his name, his back arching off the bed. Mob rose with him, feeling the spill of him inside his body, watching the wave of pleasure roll through him, how he writhed, how he opened his mouth. The cry of his name echoed in his ears, captive, capering, and he felt Reigen's hands grasping hard at him, frantic, pulling over every bit of flesh he could find–

It was enough. He came for a second time, emptying himself over Reigen's belly – and the bed banged against the wall and the ceiling definitely shook and the lamp surged, flickering madly. Mob barely noticed, the drench of pleasure swelling up into every corner of him, rinsing out everything of him until he was a clear empty shore that sighed Arataka. It came to his tongue unbidden, the only word in his head, four syllables he knew but never used. So intimate.

Reigen sank back against the mattress, panting, his face flushed. Mob felt his powers settle like sediment in him as he rode his high down, sagging on Reigen's body, gasping. The lamp had calmed, bathing them in that soft brassy glow, but the light overhead was still swinging.

"S-sorry," Mob mumbled, barely able to get the word out.

Reigen simply grinned lazily at him. He looked like he didn't give a fuck about anything right now. He took a hand from Mob's hip and pushed his blonde hair back off his face.

"Oh, I never give... that old bat downstairs any trouble," he sighed. "I'm sure she... can put up with a bit of... of banging."

"I-I meant... the walls." Mob knew he had probably been shaking the entire building right down to the foundations.

Reigen shrugged carelessly. "Tiny earthquake."

Mob gave a breathless nod. His body felt oversensitive, hyper-aware of Reigen still inside him, and now he was trembly and exhausted and wanted to lie down. He shifted forward and felt Reigen slip his hand under his backside and help him off. It was wet and sore but he didn't care right now. He crawled over Reigen and sank on top of him, pressing his cheek against the hard curve of his shoulder. He felt Reigen put his jaw against his hair, felt the muscles pulse as he swallowed. He hoped he wouldn't speak. He didn't want to talk anymore.

Reigen didn't. He put his arms around his back and cuddled him close and Mob heard him sigh. It was distant, full of promise, encased in glass – a message in a bottle, thrown out to sea.

 


 

 

Mob woke some hours later and had absolutely no idea where he was. He felt stiff and dry and achey, his mouth sour, his eyes gritty. This wasn't his room. He was too high up, to begin with, his gaze drawn to the scattering of bric-a-brac below. It was early, he knew, the sun only just beginning to rise, spilling over the room like the innards of a split fruit, pulpy oranges and pinks. It was cool gray at the edges, the night receding into the corners where it belonged, brushed under. He felt movement at his back, realized he had an arm slung over him, heavy and warm. He inhaled and got the sudden faint kick of that aftershave, lingering still, and remembered. He had crossed the water, waded after what he wanted, that light always burning. Now the boat was waiting, waiting.

He stretched out his arm and called his phone over from the desk, catching it in his palm. He could feel Reigen breathing against the back of his neck as he fiddled with it, turning it on. He didn't want to wake him, stifling the volume as the phone came back to life.

Twelve missed calls from Ritsu. Four voicemails. Sixteen texts. Mob didn't want to look at them, didn't want to listen. He deleted the lot and typed a fresh message:

I'm fine. Sorry I worried you. I'm coming home now.

Barely ten seconds passed before he saw the three little dots. Ritsu must have had his phone next to him all night. Mob looked guiltily at the time. It was 4:36am.

Ritsu seemed to type for a very long time but, when his reply finally came, all it said was Okay, see you soon. He must have rewritten it three or four times, too many questions, not enough answers. Ritsu wasn't stupid. He knew.

That was that, then. He had to go. He couldn't make it last any longer. He employed his powers to lift Reigen up, slightly, gently, so as not to wake him, settling him against the pillow once he was free. He didn't let his gaze linger on him for too long, turning away.

The room looked like it had been hit by a bomb, pieces of broken mirror glinting between the pens and books and scattered clothing. Mob quickly put everything back, no doubt nowhere near where he'd pulled it from, hoping Reigen would never be in a hurry to find any of this stuff. He located his underwear near the desk and pulled them on, gathering up his other clothes from the floor next to the bed. The jeans were still a bit damp and he stood holding them in a bundle, going very still. He didn't want to put them on. He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, listening to Reigen sleep, the gentle to-and-fro of his breathing. He wanted to get back in with him and press up close and pull the covers over his head, go under and never resurface, forget. He wanted–

His eyes fell on the clothes Reigen had held out for him last night. He put his own on the desk and went to get them, lifting them carefully. A pale green button-down shirt, worn soft with washing, and a pair of grayish-blue slacks. Mob didn't know if they would fit him – Reigen did seem very small compared to him all of a sudden – but he wanted to put them on.

The sun was coming in brighter through the balcony window as he dressed and he turned towards it as he fumbled with the buttons. They fit but only just, Mob had a broader frame and longer limbs, the pale white of his wrists flashing over the cuffs. He remembered looking up at Reigen the first time they had met, seeing him towering over him in his suit, how tall and old and imposing he had seemed. Now Mob stole a glance at him sleeping and his heart ached. His hair was so brilliant in the sunrise.

Mob tore his eyes away and looked steadfastly towards the balcony again as he finished dressing. He couldn't help but notice that the potted plants on the concrete outside looked quite a lot more... overgrown than they had last night. He let out a breath. At least the building was still standing. A miracle, perhaps.

He put his phone in the pocket of the slacks – a bit tight, Reigen had very narrow hips – went to the bed. He sat on the edge of it, putting a hand to Reigen's shoulder and gently shaking him. He was still wearing his shirt, the cotton creased and crisp.

Reigen blinked awake, gazing sleepily up at Mob. His forehead folded into a frown.

"Mob...?"

"Yeah." Mob swallowed. It occurred to him that Reigen might have been drunker than he'd thought last night. "Remember...?"

"Oh. Yes." Reigen smiled at him. "Yes, I remember."

"Good," Mob breathed. It came out without him really meaning it to. He swallowed again. "I... I have to go home."

"Mm. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have kept you out all night." Reigen propped himself up on one elbow, studying him. "You're going this morning, aren't you?"

"In a few hours, yes."

"Do your parents know you didn't come back?"

"I don't think so. Ritsu's awake, he'll let me in." Mob met his gaze. "...They don't have to know."

Reigen said nothing to that, only sighed deeply. He didn't seem to have the argument in him this morning – not that it mattered anymore. He really didn't have much to argue about.

"You're wearing my clothes," is what he said instead.

"Yes. My jeans are still wet."

"Leave them here, I'll wash them for you. I'll even remember to take the change out of the pockets."

"There is no change in the pockets. You didn't pay me."

Reigen blinked at him. "Didn't I?"

"No." Mob shook his head. "But it's okay. I don't want it anyway."

It would seem weird now, he thought, and Reigen seemed to think much the same because he gave a grave nod and looked at the sheets. He picked at a loose thread distractedly. Mob felt the need to say something else, to assure him, alleviate him, Shishou, Arataka, I don't regret it, I don't, I promise–

“I...” He saw Reigen's shoulders slope. "I really... do have to go home."

"Of course you do. A new adventure awaits you." Reigen looked up at him again. "Give me a minute and I'll come with you."

"O-oh." Mob shook his head. "No, that's okay, you don't have to–"

"I feel like the walk. I'm never usually up this early." Reigen looked towards the balcony and Mob saw his eyes rove quickly over the lush errant plants. "...Look how beautiful it is."

Mob pressed his lips together. He felt like he'd been caught doing something naughty and got up. "I'll wait in the living room," he said faintly.

"Okay. I'll be quick."

Mob nodded, shuffling to the door. He paused at the threshold, however, and looked back. He wanted... to see him one last time like this, preserve it, remember it tomorrow morning and the morning after that and...

Reigen had an arm thrown over his face. He was on his back, perfectly still, and Mob knew he wasn't meant to see.

He went into the living room and sat on the sofa and waited, his hands tight on his knees, trying not to think too much or too hard about last night. It was blistering in his brain despite his efforts, becoming clearer with every passing moment, the sight of those wretched plants cementing it. He had enjoyed every moment of it but oh god, the sounds he had made, the desperation he had felt, the way he hadn't been able to control his powers... He looked around the room and saw that the pot plants in here too were hugely overgrown, bursting green over the edges of their confines, spilling across the shelves. Reigen was going to see them. Mob put his face in his hands. He could run, maybe. He had a head start and Reigen didn't have much stamina. He could probably get away.

"What's wrong, Mob?"

Mob bolted upright, dropping his hands. "Nothing."

"Got a headache?"

"No." This was true. He ached in plenty of other places but his head wasn't one of them.

"Do you want some water? Something to eat? I could make you some coffee."

"I'm fine," Mob said. He made himself look at him.

Reigen was wearing his hoodie. It was huge, swamping him, and made him look like a teenager. He saw Mob staring and shrugged.

"It was the first thing to hand," he said easily. "I'm going to wash it for you anyway."

"Right." Mob stood up. He wanted to tell Reigen to keep it, he kind of wanted him to have it, but honestly it didn't really suit him. He didn't look like himself.

"Hang on." Reigen passed him, picking up the half-finished glass of water from last night. He crossed to his plants – straining in their tiny pots – and distributed what was left between each of them. Mob clenched his fists at his sides. They felt hot. He hoped Reigen wouldn't say anything.

"This is my favorite," Reigen said absently of the last one. "It was so tiny when I got it but now..."

Mob exhaled. It was shaky. Reigen looked at him.

"Well," he said quietly, "I'm very proud of it." He put the empty glass down and clapped his hand on Mob's shoulder. "Come on, let's go."

They laced up their shoes in silence and Mob took in a last breath of that sweet citrus in the hall as Reigen found the keys and then they stepped outside onto the walkway. Mob pressed his hands to the wooden rail and looked up as Reigen locked the apartment door. He could see the light overhead, dormant, filled up with dead moths. There were more scattered on the floor, too, their chalky white bellies turned upwards towards the sun, legs twisted like spoons. Reigen stepped over them, beckoning, and Mob followed. Their footsteps echoed on the wood, the only sound in the bright glimmering quiet of the dawn. Mob could see the back of Reigen's neck as he descended the stairs ahead of him, his hair sticking up oddly at the nape of it, and wished he'd left some kind of mark on him, something above his shirt collar that he couldn't button up and hide, just to prove it had really happened. He ran his teeth over his bottom lip, falling in alongside him on the last step.

"I won't come all the way with you," Reigen said. "I know you don't want me to. I just thought I'd keep you company some of the way."

"Yeah," Mob said. "Thank you."

They fell silent again but it wasn't uncomfortable. Mob wasn't much of a talker anyway so this was nothing new. He didn't feel strained to think of something to say when he was with Reigen, something else that he loved deeply about him. Instead he walked along next to him, enjoying it for the last time, trying not to think too hard about it ending, closer and closer with every step they took. He hoped he wouldn't cry again. His jaw felt heavy and sore. He distracted himself by reaching down and taking hold of Reigen's hand, seizing it quite suddenly, a very bold move for him. He held it tight so he couldn't pull away.

Reigen didn't. He simply looked down briefly, acknowledging it, and then gave him a squeeze back. He said nothing. He knew as well as Mob did what those hands had done last night, sensuous and clever – but for all that, the memory of it branded across his brain, Mob suddenly felt stupid for thinking such things as leaving marks on him. This was all he had wanted, wasn't it? Walking home holding hands with the person he liked.

"I don't want to go," he said.

"Yes, you do," Reigen replied calmly. "Of course you do."

"I don't. I'm only going because I don't know what else to do."

"That's okay. That's what I did, too."

"Then you started your agency." Mob held his hand tighter. "So... I should just stay here with you–"

"Mob, don't be silly."

Mob stopped. He knew he was being silly – but still, there was some truth in it. He did want to go but he didn't. He didn't want to go but he did. Really he knew he had only worked so hard to get in because everyone else was going and it was expected of him and he didn't know what he would do if he didn't go and...

"You can't live your life with me at the center of it," Reigen said. "You are–"

"The protagonist of my own life," Mob finished flatly. "I was so impressionable when you said that to me."

"You still remember it." Reigen sounded pleased.

"Not all your bullshit goes in one ear and out the other.” Quiet, truthful.

"I'm sorry to tell you this but that one's a fact. But... I'm glad you listened, either way. Listen to this, too."

Mob looked at him. He didn't really want to hear it.

"I'll still be here when you come back," Reigen went on. "I'll be waiting, okay?"

Mob took in a breath. He could feel his pulse in his palm. He nodded.

"Okay," he said. "And... and you'll come and visit?"

"I will. Whenever you want."

"Okay."

"And you can call me whenever you want, too."

"Okay." Mob was still nodding. "I'd... I'd like that."

"So would I." Reigen's dark eyes slid towards him. "But don't forget that I helped you study for the entrance exams. I know how hard you worked for this. I won't let you throw it away."

Mob dropped his gaze, looking at the ground as he walked. Their feet were perfectly in time.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly.

"It's okay. I understand, you know."

"I wish you could come with me."

"Drunk uncle?" Reigen actually sounded a bit hopeful.

"Not like that. I mean..."

Reigen smiled at him. It was wistful. "Sometimes I think you forget we're fourteen years apart."

"Yeah," Mob sighed. Now he looked up at the sky, beginning to bruise purple and deep brilliant blue between the buildings as they neared the city outskirts. "I guess I do."

Silence again. They came into the city, beach-combers, voyagers, survivors of a shipwreck. There was no-one around, the dawn pulling up over the sleeping buildings, gold over concrete and brown brick, gleaming on shuttered windows and burned-out neon signs. It made him think of the dead heat of summer, the gristle of grayish half-melted snow, familiar, tiresome. This was the side of town Reigen's office was on – not the good one. Mob didn't want to leave him here to go into the gutters. His mouth tasted sweet and thick: he thought of the milk ice lolly, the sake, the broth. He wondered what Reigen would do this afternoon, who he would have dinner with, who–

"I'm going to leave you here." Reigen stopped. "This is about halfway."

"O-oh." Mob looked at him, surprised. "I... I guess it is."

"I think it's for the best." Reigen thumbed at a shuttered shop window, pointing out their reflections.

Mob started. He hadn't realised his hair was doing... well, that thing it did. He'd been so deep in thought he hadn't even felt it lapping at his face and neck.

"Come here." Reigen pulled his hand free, reaching up with both of them, smoothing his fine hair back into shape. Mob calmed at his touch, the energy crackling out of him as Reigen brought his hands to his face.

"That's better," Reigen said softly. He rubbed his thumbs over Mob's cheeks. "Now hurry home before you get caught. You're going to owe Ritsu for this, you know."

"I know." Mob didn't move. He wanted to stay like this forever, his pulse thrumming under Reigen's touch.

"Mob." Reigen slowly took his hands away. Mob thought about grabbing them but didn't. It wouldn't help. It wouldn't make it last.

His chest hitched. He was completely rooted to the spot. He wished Reigen would just walk away, make it easier on him, but he didn't seem to be able to move either, standing there with his gorgeous hands open, speechless.

"Can... can I kiss you?" Mob mumbled, dropping his gaze. "...Please? Just... just once more."

Reigen would say no, they were out on the street, he was almost thirty-two and too old and last night had been stupid of him, that arm over his face–

"Okay."

Reigen closed in again, taking Mob's chin, leaning up, tilting his head. He kissed him open-mouthed, just a little bit of teeth, of tongue. He didn't taste as Mob remembered. Mint. Morning was a different color, another language. He held Reigen's shoulders, hands in his own hoodie, and wished his Japanese would flood out of him again. Sayonara, four syllables, a word he didn't want.

Reigen pulled back. "Go," he said quietly, close, Mob could feel his mouth forming the words. "Text me when you get there. Send me a picture of your new room. Call me, tell me everything."

"I will." Mob was nodding, frantic, hanging onto every word. "I will, I promise."

"Good." Reigen moved in that way of his, almost impossible to follow, and then he was free, stepping back. He put his hands in the pockets of the hoodie, resting his weight on one hip. He could so easily pass for eighteen. "See you later, Mob."

Mob was still nodding, his lips tight, his hands clenched. He wanted to say yes, he wanted to say thank you for understanding me, he wanted to say Arataka but none of it would come, his throat full of sand. Reigen was smiling at him kindly. He knew.

Mob turned away and started walking. He looked straight ahead, he wouldn't let himself think or stop or...

He did stop. He got to the end of the street and paused on the corner. He couldn't help himself, so be it if he became a pillar of salt–

He turned back but Reigen was gone. The street was quiet and empty, the sigh of the sun spilling like a skinned peach over every stone, light filling up the world so that those across the water could no longer be seen. He took a step forward and it echoed, bouncing off the glass. It seemed so loud, so lonely, but Reigen did not wash up. He wasn't the sort of thing that would, frozen and solid, a sinker of ships.

Mob started to walk. He wiped at his face, licked it off the back of his hand. Water and salt.