« Oh, hello Arataka! Katsuya is in his room. »
« Hi, Serizawa-san! Thank you! »
Reigen bowed down politely and took his shoes off. Serizawa’s mother, Arisa, stepped out of the way to let the teenager walk inside the appartement. It wasn’t the first time Reigen visited her son; in fact, he came rather frequently. Before she had allowed her son to work at Kageyama’s Paranormal Consultation Office, Arisa had insisted on meeting who her son would be working with; she had been pleased with the encounter, which had taken place at the office. Shigeo Kageyama seemed like someone she could trust, and his appentice Arataka Reigen had been her son’s first friend. Thus, it had been with great plesure and trust that Serizawa’s mother had given her permission for Katsuya to work alongside Arataka. The mother was beyond relief that finally, someone could help her son deal with his strong psychic powers.
It had been a month since Katsuya had signed his contract, and since then, life had gotten progressively easier and merrier for both him and his mother. Serizawa still struggled with his abilities, but Kageyama’s advice and even Reigen’s constant presence at the teen’s side were tremendously helping him. Arataka often hung out at Katsuya’s place on week ends or sometimes after they were done with their work at Shigeo’s office. From what Arisa had understood, Arataka’s parents travelled frequently for their jobs, and she’d rather the blonde be with her son than alone. Plus, it made Katsuya incredibly happy to finally have a true friend, and that happiness was more than Arisa could have ever wished for.
Arataka put on the pair of slippers Serizawa’s mother had prepared for him, and he made his way to his best friend’s room. He knocked three times, their signal; Reigen heard the sound of someone getting up and running, and in an instant, the door opened on a bashfully smiling Katsuya.
« Yo, Kattsun! » Arataka grinned with a playful punch on Serizawa’s shoulder.
« Hi, Reigen-kun. » Katsuya answered. He still wasn’t ready to call his friend by his given name, even though Reigen already used an affectionate nickname for him, but the blonde didn’t mind.
« Can I come in? »
« Sure! »
Serizawa retreated back in his room, allowing his classmate to step inside.
The room was pretty small, but since it was well organized, it didn’t feel too oppressive. The first time Reigen had paid his friend a visit, he had barely been able to step inside; the floor had been covered in books, clothes, and crumpled papers. But since then, the room had been getting progressively cleaner, thanks to Katsuya’s efforts.
A double sided bed took most of the place. A few pillows were scattered on the red comforter, all with characters from Katsuya’s favorite anime. Underneath the window was a small table, which Katsuya used to study or draw- Reigen had been surprised to learn that Serizawa was part of a popular doujin circle, and highly praised for his tragic stories and precise linework. Katsuya’s extensive collection of video games was stored in a small cupboard on top of which stood a television screen and a console with two controllers. Above the bed, a shelf housed Katsuya’s mecha figures. Finally, a wardrobe built within the wall and covered with posters and drawings contained Serizawa’s clothes.
« I brought something for you! » Arataka exclaimed after putting his backpack on the ground, near the table. Reigen triumphantly held up a tote bag, which seemed to contain a big box of sorts.
« Oh, what is it? » Serizawa asked, curious. Reigen looked pretty proud about whatever gift he had come with, so it was either going to be a fun afternoon or end up with them having to call the fire department.
« It’s something I talked about with Kageyama-shishou, and he thought it was a good idea. » the blonde explained as he took the box out of the bag. « We’re going to work on your fear of the dark. »
Katsuya immediately felt his heart drop inside of his stomach. It had been something Shigeo had insisted on: if Serizawa was to get a better grasp on his powers, a good thing was to identify what made him lose control of them. The three of them had spent a while writing it all down, and it turned out all of the reasons were actually fears of Katsuya’s. Which was why his master had insisted Katsuya worked on being able to face them- at his own pace, of course, and not on his own. One of the teen’s fears included the fear of the dark: Katsuya was utterly terrified of what lurked in the shadows, and completely panicked whenever he found himself immerged in total darkness. Serizawa was only able to fall asleep if his bedside lamp was on; he knew it was damaging to his sleep quality, but he couldn’t do otherwise.
« Are… are you sure about it, Reigen-kun? » Serizawa asked, his throat suddenly parched. He could already feel tingles of electricity running down his arms all the way to his fingers.
« Yeah, trust me! » Arataka offered him the warmest smile he could. « Don’t worry, I’m not going to just turn off the light. I have a plan, okay? »
Serizawa took a deep inspiration, using the breathing tricks Shigeo had taught him to calm his nerves and keep his psychic energy in check. Arataka, no matter how cunning (or sometimes, outright manipulative) he could get with customers, was always honest with him and eager to help. Silently, Katsuya nodded, managing to make Arataka’s smile shine even brighter.
« Cool, you won’t regret it! Just go sit on the bed, alright? And don’t look over there! »
« Okay… »
Katsuya complied, taking his slippers off and climbing on his bed. He turned away from his friend, and grabbed his phone to try and ignore the way his intestines turned and twisted on themselves. The teen logged on the Twitter account he used to post his work and scrolled down his feed, replying to some questions and retweeting some artwork he enjoyed. He had almost managed to distract himself from the impending stressful experience, when Arataka’s voice dragged Katsuya back to reality:
« All done! Don’t move, okay? »
His heart thumping loudly in his chest, Katsuya nodded. He jumped a little when he felt the bed creak under Reigen’s weight; apparently, his friend had decided to join him. The more it went on, the more confused Katsuya was; nonetheless, he stole a glance to Arataka, who answered with a wink.
« Just close your eyes and lie down. I promise I won’t leave you in the dark. » Reigen said, his voice smooth as always when he tried to calm his friend down. « If you don’t feel alright, just say so, okay? »
Serizawa complied, lying down and letting his eyelids shut close. His breathing started to get a bit out of control, and he could feel the psychic energy begin to grow warmer inside his chest; but Katsuya held on to the trust he had in Arataka, and managed to keep the worst of his anxiety at bay. He knew Reigen wouldn’t simply turn the lights off and hope for the best- usually, his plans were a bit more elaborate, even if he had to admit sometimes they were that basic.
Katsuya’s heart missed a beat when he heard Arataka turn the light off, and he felt panicked tears run down his cheeks, even though his eyes were tightly closed. The teenager clenched his fists and contracted them as much as he could, a gesture which helped him controlled the intensity of the powerful energy building up inside of him.
« Kattsun. » Arataka’s soft voice seemed so eerily distant, yet so close. « Open your eyes. »
Katsuya did so immediately, and his breath was cut short when he took in the sight in front of him.
His room would have been pitch dark, if not for the thousands of small dots of light all over the ceiling. Serizawa recognized their pattern: it was as if the Milky Way had gotten minuscule and slid its way inside his bedroom, sticking itself to the ceiling. The illusion was perfect: the teen truly felt as if he was watching the stars on a summer night, except it was the middle of a June afternoon and he was on the seventh floor of a residential building.
« Arataka-kun… » Katsuya whispered, so entranced by the sight that he slipped and used Reigen’s given name. « It’s… amazing! How did you…? »
It was Reigen’s turn to have his breath cut short. It was the first time he had ever heard Katsuya saying his first name, and it had happened so unexpectedly; the blonde loved the way « Arataka » sounded in the brunette’s mouth. He didn’t say anything, though, for fear it would completely disturb Serizawa, which was the exact opposite of what that afternoon was supposed to be about. Instead, Arataka regained his usual coy composure, and gave Katsuya the explanation he was waiting for:
« Well, my dad had this old planetarium lamp lying around, and I figured he wouldn’t miss it! And on top of helping you get over your fear of the dark, it looks pretty cool, right? »
Katsuya nodded, his bright eyes still glued to the starry ceiling, oblivious to the fact Reigen had lied. His father had never owned such an item: Arataka had bought it himself with the money he had earned with his part-time job. He didn’t want to admit it to Katsuya, because he knew his friend would get terribly embarassed and refuse to use the planetarium, and Arataka didn’t want that to happen. Besides, he helped Katsuya for the sake of his friend, and not to get praised.
Reigen turned his head towards Katsuya. He couldn’t see much, since the fake stars didn’t emit much light; but he could make most of Serizawa’s features out, and seeing his gleeful smile and wide eyes filled with wonder was enough.
The two friends lied quietly for a while, next to each other, Katsuya staring at the make believe sky and Arataka staring at Katsuya, until Serizawa broke the silence:
« You know, it’s strange but… sometimes, when I look at the stars or at the clouds for too long, I… I feel like I’m going to fall into the sky. It’s weird, right? Because I know I can’t actually- »
Katsuya’s rambling was cut short by Reigen sliding his hand on top of Serizawa’s. The gesture was gentle but unexpected, and the psychic was rather stratled; but when his eyes left the ceiling to look, confused, at the blonde lying next to him, Arataka’s smile shone as bright as the countless celestial bodies above them.
« Don’t worry, if you fall I’ll catch you. » Arataka promised, his clammy fingers intertwining with Katsuya’s and squeezing them tight, with all the nervousness he tried to hide and the confidence he tried to display.
And Katsuya knew Arataka meant it.