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Employing an actual esper meant more babysitting than Reigen had initially anticipated. Though it probably shouldn’t have, given that the esper was a ten year old, and not even technically employed by him, given his age.

If Mob weren’t currently nestled in his arms, passed out after performing an actual exorcism, he might have even considered the idea of asking the Kageyama’s to pay him for watching their kid all the time. As it were, Mob’s head was planted firmly against Reigen’s collarbone, small huffs of breath occasionally disturbing the older man’s hair, and Reigen gently shifted the kid to take some of the pressure off of his arms. He was not in shape to carry a ten year old for any amount of time, let alone the half hour walk back to the kid’s house.

Mob squirmed a little bit, and Reigen tensed up for moment, wondering if he’d woken the kid up by moving, but then he sighed and mumbled something, and went still once more.

Reigen felt uncomfortably paternal.

Feeling uncomfortably paternal could easily lead to him feeling uncomfortably guilty because, if he was being honest with himself, he was just using the kid for his powers. But. The kid, and his powers, meant that Reigen could take on bigger and bigger cases. Which meant more money, which meant more taiyaki, and maybe a new suit every so often.

And he could always start paying the kid, if he stuck around long enough.

They were nearing the Kageyama house.

“Hey,” he whispered. “Mob? We’re here.”

Mob, contrary to Reigen’s expectations, instead tightened his hold, further wrapping his legs around Reigen’s torso.

“Okay,” Reigen muttered, “Mob? You’re home. C’mon kiddo, don’t you want to rest in an actual bed?”

He gently shook Mob as an accompaniment to his words. Thankfully, the ten year old murmured, “Okay,” and wriggled out of his arms.

Mob landed solidly on his feet, not unlike a cat. He stood on the sidewalk outside his house for a moment, yawning and then rubbing his eye. It was adorable. Just objectively, it wasn’t that Reigen in particular was struck with the sudden impression that he would personally fight anyone or anything that tried to bring harm to Mob, it was just that anyone would feel that way, given how objectively adorable the kid was.

“You all set?” He asked.

Mob nodded, drowsily.

“Alright.” Reigen said, hesitating for a moment. “Bye, then.”

“Bye, Dad,” Mob replied, hiding another yawn behind the back of his hand. He turned and walked up the pathway to his door, seemingly unaware of his error.

Reigen took a minute to process that, momentarily stunned.

Okay. Okay. So it was an accident, clearly. Kids probably said stuff like that all the time. That guilt twisting in his gut was completely misguided. Mob definitely did not see him as a father figure. It was just a mistake he’d made, and he was only barely awake when he said it. There was definitely no need for Reigen to be planning on how he could save money for the kid to go to college and make sure he was eating healthy, because should a ten year old be that small? And there was certainly no need to be thinking about buying Mob prep books to get into a good high school, he wasn’t even in middle school yet – but also his mother had always said it was never too early to start thinking of the future, Arataka, so are you sure you just want to move to this random city? How will you meet women? How are you going to get a job? Did you even plan this out at all?

Reigen shook his head, trying to dislodge the trail of thought. Business! Yes, because a healthy esper meant better exorcisms probably. So of course it would make sense for him to be worried about Mob having a healthy diet and maintaining solid grades.

For purely practical reasons.

Still he lingered for a moment more.

“Bye, kiddo.”