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A House, A Home

Chapter Text

Reigen lowered the match from his mouth, snuffing out the flame with a quick shake of his hand. He took a long, deep drag from his cigarette and waited to feel the smoke fill his lungs before tossing the matchbox onto the table.

Man, what was he even doing?

He pulled the cigarette from his mouth and exhaled, his breath forming a cloud of smoke. He leaned back in his chair and watched the cloud dissipate.

At this point, he was nothing more than a glorified masseur. He spent more of his time giving massages and advice to clients than he did actually exorcising evil spirits. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had gotten a job that involved anything even remotely supernatural.

Perhaps , he wondered to himself, I should just give up and find a real job.

But the idea of going back to his old career, sitting in a cubicle for hours on end, answering phone call after phone call, filling out mountains of paperwork…

No . He thought to himself, placing the cigarette back onto his lips. I can’t go back there again .

“Excuse me?”

Reigen had been so lost in thought, he hadn’t heard the footsteps approaching the door. He quickly reached out his arm to the ashtray, smothering his cigarette before the client could see it.

“Ah- yes! How may I help you?” he cried out. His voice faltered at the end of his sentence as his eyes caught ahold of the figure standing at the doorway.

It was a young boy, that couldn’t have been older than five… maybe six? His face peeked out from behind the door frame, his eyes partially obscured by his silky black hair, which had been trimmed into the shape of a bowl-cut. He wore a baby blue shirt, and his hand gripped tightly onto the strap of his little black backpack.

It’s just a kid, he thought to himself

“What do you want boy?” he asked irritably.

“Um, I-I’m an Esper,” the boy muttered.

“What-?” Reigen gasped.

“Y-yeah. And there are times when- when I can’t control my powers. It’s scary.”

You little brat, he thought to himself. This had to be a prank. Perhaps the boy’s older brother put him up to this?

“Did someone tell you to come here and say that?”

“N-no!” he exclaimed, clenching the strap of his backpack even tighter.  “I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about this…”

His eyes trailed down to the floor, his voice growing even smaller.

“I thought you might be the same as me…”

Something didn’t seem right to Reigen. There was no way this kid could be acting, he we much too young for that. A pathological liar perhaps? Or maybe he just had an overactive imagination?

The boy was shaking. His eyes darted back and forth across the room.

Whatever it was, the kid seemed genuinely troubled. Reigen couldn’t just turn him away like this.

“Well alright, come on in.”


 

The boy sat across from Reigen, his tiny hands grasping onto the steaming cup of tea that Reigen gave him. His little legs dangled over the chair. His bright, wide eyes fixated on Reigen.

What’s with this kid?

The more Reigen spoke to him, the more he was certain that this boy genuinely believed he was a psychic.

Reigen thumbed the side of his teacup. He wasn’t sure what to do. He could try and convince him that his powers weren’t real, but he knew that wouldn’t work. Reigen could tell from the kid’s face that to him, these powers were a very, very real thing.

So instead, Reigen did what he did best.

He pulled some advice out of his ass.

“Listen kid. Having psychic powers that doesn’t make you any less human, okay?”

The boy nodded vigorously.

“You see, it’s the same as people who are fast, people who are book smart, and people who have strong body odor. Psychic powers are just another characteristic you can have.”

Reigen rose from his seat and sat himself down on the low-rising table so that he could place his hand onto the boy’s shoulder.

“You must embrace your powers as a part of yourself, and continue to live positively,” he continued. “The truth behind one’s charm is their kindness! What’s important, in the end, is being a good person.”

The boy’s face split with the widest smile. His eyes brimmed with hope and wonder.

“May I come talk to you again?” he asked enthusiastically.

Oh boy , Reigen thought to himself. He had been hoping to get him to finally leave, not entice the kid into continuing to pester him.  

“Yeah, I don’t know about that… I’m a busy man, you know?” Reigen lifted the cup of tea in his hands to his lips. “And anyways, you should probably go home for today-”

Reigen stopped. Talking to the boy, he had been so distracted that he had almost sipped scalding hot tea.

That would have been a dumb mistake , he thought to himself, as he blew onto the hot drink.

“But Sir-”

“I’m sorry kid, I don’t have time for this. Okay?” He blew on his tea again. “I’m sure you’ll do just fine on your own. Just remember everything I told you, and you’ll be okay. Alright?”

The boy nodded, but looked down at his feet in disappointment.

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to need you to leave now, okay? I could have clients coming in here at any moment. You need any help getting home?”

The boy shook his head. “I can walk back by myself.”

“You sure?”

The boy nodded, and set his cup of tea back onto the table. He hadn’t taken a single sip since he had entered Reigen’s office.

“Thank you. For the advice… Sir.”

Reigen could hear the hint of disappointment in his voice.

He tried to ignore the twinge of guilt in his stomach as he waved goodbye to the little boy. It wasn’t his job, after all, to babysit every random kid that came walking into his office.

Reigen watched from the window as the little blue figure of the boy grew smaller and smaller, before finally disappearing into the crowd below.   

 

Chapter Text

“Order six!”

Reigen fidgeted with the lighter in his pocket. His eyes trailed up to the grey skies above him.

Looks like it’s gonna rain, he thought to himself.

He had gone the entire morning without a single customer, and with nothing better to do, he’d decided to walk the extra mile for lunch to go and grab some Takoyaki from one of his favorite stands.

His thumb flicked the lighter open, then closed it again. He was really starting to wish he’d brought some cigarettes with him. Maybe he could get some on his way home?  

Reigen sighed.

It had been almost two years since he’d first thought about closing his spirit consultation business, and he couldn’t help but find himself considering it once again. He spent all of his time nowadays giving massages and therapy sessions, and even that was only on good days when he actually had customers. Most the people he saw had issues that didn't actually require a psychic.

But on the rare occasions that he did get a supernatural job?

Reigen smiled. Those were the moments that kept him from shutting down his business. That, of course, and the fact that he couldn’t bear the thought of admitting to his mother that she had been right about his career choice.

Reigen pulled his coat tighter around him, trying to block out the chilling dampness of the air.

Life now was only marginally more interesting than it had been at his last job. He often spent long hours alone in his office waiting for customers to show. These days, the only thing keeping Reigen on his toes was his financial instability.

Supernatural phenomenons were becoming few and far between. And It certainly didn’t help that there were more and more legitimate spirit businesses opening up around him that stole away so many of his customers. In the end, it was only Reigen’s ridiculously low prices that kept people coming through his doors.

Reigen flicked the lighter shut again.

He was craving… something. He couldn’t put his finger on what exactly it was. Perhaps he should try branching out, finding jobs in other cities? Maybe he needed a co-worker, someone who could fill in the quiet void that so often clung to his office?

Or maybe he just needed another cigarette.

“Order eight!”

Reigen perked up, pulling his hands out of his pockets and pushing himself through the crowd to retrieve his lunch.


 

“Hello? Is this the office of Reigen Arataka?”

Reigen bolted up in his seat, and the pencil he had been trying to balance on his lips fell to the ground with a clatter. He knocked over a pile of papers in a rush to jerk his feet off his desk.

“Oh- Yes yes it is!” Reigen spread out his arms dramatically. “Welcome the Spirits and Such, home to the greatest Psychic of the twenty-first century!”

In the doorway stood an overweight, middle-aged man with square glasses, short trimmed hair, and the beginnings of a mustache growing around his lips. His eyes glanced hesitantly around the small, bare office space.

“Hm… yes… I was wondering if you would be able to help me?” he asked tentatively.

“Of course I can! I guarantee you there’s nothing this psychic can’t do for you. Just come take a seat over here- no NO NO NOT THAT ONE!”

The client leapt at sudden shout from Reigen. "What's wrong with it?" he asked, trembling. "Is-Is it haunted?"

"Nah," Reigen answered, waving a hand idly, "I just pretty sure that’s the chair I had to duct-tape the leg back on to.” He pulled up a second chair, pushed it toward him.  “Here, why don’t you sit in this one?”

The client hesitated, eyeing him for a moment before sitting down.

Satisfied, Reigen spun towards his desk and began tearing papers from the drawer. "Now then!" He smacked the stack of papers onto the desktop, causing the client to jump. "What seems to be the problem, aye? A spirit? A curse?"

The client barely had time to mumble an "Uh…" before Reigen was spinning around again.

“Ahh, actually, wait right here and let me get you a cup of tea! You prefer green or jasmine?”

The man sat in stunned silence as Reigen flew across the room towards the electric kettle.

“Jasmine… I guess,” the client replied. “I- uh, was wondering if you could exorcise a spirit for me?”

“Yes! Yes of course,” Reigen nodded. “Tell me, what makes you think you’re being haunted by a ghost?”

“Well,” the man began. “You see, I’m the owner of a MobDonalds just a bit north of here…”

“The one off Peppercorn Street?”

“Yes that one. You see, nobody will believe me when I tell them, but I’m certain that there’s a ghost haunting the place!”

The man pulled at a string on his jacket nervously. “Stuff’s been going missing lately. It wasn’t anything too big at first, just the occasional missing order. Some food here and there, burgers, fries, stuff like that. Then it was my spare shirt, a pair of gloves, the flashlight off my keychain, a customer’s jacket… I assumed it was one of my employees stealing or something, you know?”

Reigen nodded in agreement.

“So I decided to question them. But they all had pretty solid alibis. Then I thought it might have been a customer, so I thought to myself, ‘hey, why don’t I just stick around one night and wait to find out who the thief is?’ So that’s what I did!”

Reigen continued to nod throughout the man’s story, as he poured hot water into two teacups.

“So, you spent the night at the restaurant, and then what? Oh careful! That’s hot. I’m afraid I was all out of jasmine, so I hope green’s alright.”

The man mouthed a ‘thank you’ as he took the steaming cup into his hands.

“So you see, I hid myself so that the thief wouldn’t be able to see me. Figured I could catch them in the act of it! Sat and waited for most of the night though. After hours and hours of waiting I began to think to myself, ‘Man, what am I even doing here? I’m wasting my time!’ So I decided to just give up and leave the damn place.”

Reigen nodded, blowing carefully onto his cup of tea. “I see. Then what?”

“I was just getting up to leave when I saw it happen. There was a little creak- heard it coming from across the room. So I peeked my head around the machine to see what it was. Then, that’s when I saw it happen. The refrigerator- I saw it. It opened up all on its own!”

The man threw his arms into the air, spilling some of his tea.  

“Then from the fridge, one of- one of the juice boxes it-it started floating!”

“Floating?”

“Yes, floating! I watched it float all the way around the corner and out of sight. I felt a chill go down my spine, like someone was breathing down my back. I was frozen to the spot, I tell you! Frozen .”

The man curled his arms around himself.

“It must have been a ghost. There’s no other explanation! Otherwise, I would have chased after that damn thing myself and made it pay for everything it’d stolen from me...”

Reigen nodded firmly, “You are a very brave man, I assure you, but chasing after a ghost without any psychic powers would not have ended well for you.”

The man nodded, thumbing the sides of his teacup. “I’m glad I found you Reigen-san. My employees think I’ve lost my mind. I tried calling in another psychic, but they said that they couldn’t read any spiritual energies coming from the place.”

Ah. I see!” Reigen exclaimed. “Then you are very lucky to have found me! After all, you can’t expect every psychic to have the nose for spirits like I do.”

“The nose?”

Reigen tapped the side of his nose with his finger. “Yes, the nose. Now tell me, what time was it when the other psychic came to visit your restaurant?”

The client raised his eyebrows. “The time of day? Gosh, I have no idea. Sometime in the afternoon I think?”

“Ah! A rookie’s mistake. What time of day was it when you first encountered this spirit?”

The man’s eyes lit up.

“I see! So the ghost only appears after dark?”

“Perhaps. But if the spirit really appeared to you at night, then that is when it is most likely to appear again.”

Reigen plopped down his cup of tea onto the table.

“That settles it! I shall accompany you on another stake-out at the MobDonalds tonight. I’ll meet you at ten- no, let’s say eleven-thirty?”

The man bolted up in his seat and bowed deeply before Reigen. “Thank you Reigen-san, thank you! You’re the first person to believe my story, thank you!”

“Yes yes of course!” he said, waving the man back down into his seat. “Now then, let’s pick a course for tonight’s exorcism shall we? For a limited time, you can get twenty percent off on one-”

“Wait- a course?”

Chapter Text

Reigen stood at the front of the restaurant, staring into the dark abyss behind the doors of the closed building. Rain rolled off his umbrella and pattered against the concrete below.

He glanced back down at the clock on his phone again. It was almost midnight.

“Ah! Reigen-san, I’m sorry I’m late!”

Reigen looked over his shoulder to see the client running through the rain, hood pulled tight over his head.

“Ah, Matsumoto-san!” Reigen said, stuffing his phone into his pocket. “I was beginning to worry you had forgotten.”

The man muttered a hasty apology as he scrambled to pull the keys out from his pocket.

“I had trouble finding a taxi that was willing to drive me so late at night. Here- come in! Come in!”

Reigen closed his umbrella as he entered into the restaurant. Matsumoto flipped the light switch, bathing the room in an unnaturally white neon light. Most of the chairs had been placed upside down on the tables, the floor still glimmering from when it was washed. The whole room smelled an odd mixture of cleaner and grease.

Matsumoto led Reigen to the kitchens at the back of the restaurant. Rows and rows of industrial grey machines crowded the room, each illuminated by the neon lamps above them.

“Here,” Matsumoto said, pointing to the refrigerator standing nearby. “This is where I saw it happen.”

Reigen knelt down, placing his hand under his chin as he inspected the contents of the fridge through its clear, glass door. There were rows of boxed milks, teas, and juices, but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary.

“I see. And to which direction did the drink float?”

Matsumoto pointed towards the back of the kitchen.

Reigen nodded, and continued his search in that direction. He’d never really seen the kitchen of a fast food restaurant before, so he wasn’t really quite sure what it was he was looking for. He didn’t see any ectoplasm or bloodstains, which he figured was a good sign. There were, however, quite a number of grease stains.

It’s quite possible there aren’t any spirits involved, Reigen thought to himself.

For all he knew, the whole thing could simply be caused by a very skilled kleptomaniac and a customer with a hyperactive imagination.

Reigen was surprised to find himself hoping otherwise. Non-supernatural cases were certainly easier to deal with, and they paid well enough...

But they were also boring.

“Alright!” Reigen yelled, clapping his hands together. “It looks like we’re just going to have to wait around until the spirit comes. You got anything to eat? I’m starving.”

Matsumoto blinked at Reigen in confusion

“I’m, I’m afraid all of our food is packed away right now. Can- How about I get you an oolong instead?”

 


 

Reigen sat in the dark with his knees pressed uncomfortably tight against his chest. His body was stuck in the fetal position, crunched between a washing machine and the side of an industrial sink. A plastic trash bin had been placed so as to block his hiding spot from view. The chill from the cold metal sink behind him was beginning to seep into his back.

Matsumoto sat across the way from him, placed much more comfortably between the milkshake machine and an oven. His round face was dimly lit by the smartphone he held in his hands.

Reigen, who did not have the same luxury of a smartphone to play with, tried to relieve his boredom by sipping from the straw of his empty tea carton. His flip-phone was stuck underneath him in the back pocket of his pants, so he wasn’t able to tell what time it was, or how long he’d been there.

He was beginning to thoroughly regret taking this job.

Reigen peaked his head around the corner of the trashcan. “Got any more tea?” he whispered to Matsumoto

SHHHH,” Matsumoto whispered harshly, pointing over to the fridge.

Don’t talk, or you’ll scare away the spirit, was implied in his gesture.

Reigen sighed, and bit down on straw in his mouth. His brain, sensing something cigarette-shaped between his teeth, pleaded with him for the sweet rush of nicotine.

Reigen silently banged his head against the sink behind him. He’d heard in a documentary somewhere that it was possible for a person to get brain damage from under-stimulation. Perhaps that could happen to him?

He bit down on his straw again.

What had he been thinking, taking this job? It was probably just the work of an ordinary human, and he was squeezed in this cramped space for nothing.

Then a creak came from behind.

His heart leapt into his throat. Reigen snapped his head around, but he couldn’t see anything with the washing stations obscuring his vision. He carefully placed his tea carton onto the ground, and reached for the bag of salt he had placed by his side. Trying his best to stay quiet, he repositioned himself so that he was crouched on his knees.

Matsumoto, from across the walk path, was frozen like a statue. His hands gripped his phone so tightly that his knuckles were white.

Reigen leaned his head forward, peering out into the walkway.

He glanced left, towards the back of the store where the noise had come from. Nothing in particular seemed out of the ordinary. Then again, it was pretty hard to see anything in this darkness.

He glanced right, and his heart stopped.

The refrigerator was opening. Slowly. Silently. Reigen could only watch in horror as one of the milk cartons gently lifted itself out of its row, and began floating its way down the kitchen aisle.

That’s it-That’s it! THAT’S IT REIGEN-SAN!” Matsumoto mouthed, his pointed finger trembling.

Yeah no kidding!

Reigen shoved aside the trash bin, and it hit the floor with a clatter. He leap out into the aisle, tore open the salt bag, and flung a fist-full of the stuff at the floating milk carton.

The white grains scattered all over the floor. The carton of milk bobbed up and down in the air, and fell to the ground with a thud.

Reigen stood over the fallen milk carton, which had burst on impact. Matsumoto gingerly rose from his hiding place, and began to inspect the growing puddle of milk.

Reigen thrust his thumb into his chest. “See! There’s no spirit too powerful for the great Reigen Arataka!”

Reigen spoke with as much confidence as he could muster, but if he was being honest with himself, he hadn’t been expecting the exorcism to be that easy.

“W-w-wow you really did it!” Matsumoto exclaimed.

Suddenly, another clattering noise came from behind.

Reigen spun around, just in time to see the flash of a figure disappearing.

Chapter Text

Before Reigen could react, the figure disappeared around the corner at the back of the store.

“What-” It suddenly clicked in his brain what had happened.

HEY! ” he shouted, “Get back here!

Reigen surged forward, almost slipping on the salted floor.

I SAID GET BACK HERE!

Reigen flung himself around the corner, toppling a stack of boxes as he went. He made it just in time to watch the back door to the restaurant slam shut.

He barreled down the hall. His shoulder collided with the door as he slid to a stop in front of it. It took a few moments of scrambling with the handle to get it open.

Staggering outside, he found himself standing before a dark, rainy street. He frantically surveyed the scene around him for any sign of the figure.

It was almost impossible to see anything in the dark, but by the dim light of a streetlamp, Reigen spotted a flash of movement dashing down the street.

Hey !” Reigen called again.

He sprinted down the rainy streets after the figure. His heart was racing in his chest. His feet pounded against the pavement. Water splashed under his shoes, soaking into the cuffs of his pants. He watched as the figure’s movement vanished around an alleyway.

You really thought that would get rid of me?  He laughed to himself.

He raced forward, and rounded the corner into the alleyway. Reigen came to a sudden halt, finding himself facing a dead-end.

“Stay right there! Don’t move.”

Reigen whipped his phone out from his back pocket, flipping it open so that the light from its screen illuminated the alleyway in front of him.

To his surprise, it wasn’t an adult, or even a ghost, that stood in front of him.

It was a kid.

The small child held his hands up, trying to protect his eyes from the light of Reigen’s screen. His face was partially obscured by the hood he had pulled over his head. His body was practically swimming in the oversized green jacket that he was dressed in. He wore a pair of gloves that were much too big for his hands, and his feet were completely bare, submerged in a puddle of rainwater.

“What-” It took a moment for Reigen to catch his breath and overcome his surprise. “What are you doing out here kid?”

The boy said nothing, but his eyes darted back and forth, as if scoping out a means of escape.

Reigen bent down, so that he was at eye-level with the boy. Two wide, terrified brown eyes stared back at him.

“You-you okay kiddo? What are you doing by yourself out at night? Do you need me to call your parents?”

The boy shook his head vigorously.

“Then what were you doing in that MobDonald’s? If you need a phone I got one right here.”

The boy shook his head again.

“What’s your name?” Reigen asked, slower this time.

The boy said nothing.

“Alright listen, I can’t really help you if you don’t tell me what you need. Okay?”

Still nothing.

“Seriously, I need you to help me if you want me to help you. Are you lost? Where are your shoes?”

The boy stayed as silent as ever.

Reigen sighed.

“How about you come with me? We can go back to the MobDonalds. It’s much drier in there.”

Reigen waited, but there was still no response from the boy.

Perhaps he needed to take a different approach?

“What if we got you something to eat, huh?”

The boy’s eyes lit up.

Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere.

“Oh yeah! I’m sure Matsumoto-San would be more than happy to get you some food. You like chicken nuggets? Maybe we can get you a milk too, okay?”

The boy gasped, his eyes growing wider.

“Milk?”

Aha ! So you can talk!” Reigen teased. “If you come with me buddy, you can have all the milk you want, alright?”

The boy nodded vigorously.

Reigen breathed a sigh of relief. He still didn’t know anything new about the kid, but at least he was able to coax him into getting some shelter from the rain.

“Perfect! Now then, take my hand. ‘kay? Let’s get you something to eat.”

Reigen took the boy’s gloved hand into his own. He couldn’t help but marvel at just how tiny it was.  

Rain continued to patter on the streets, soaking into Reigen’s skin as he led the boy back to the warmth and safety of the building ahead.

 


 

Reigen and Matsumoto peered over the counter at the young boy.

He was seated at one of the booths, swinging his dangling legs. His wet jacket and gloves had been placed aside. Matsumoto’s stolen t-shirt, with the large logo of a metal band displayed on its front, was so massive in comparison to the boy that it looked like a dress on him.

Reigen could see that he had already devoured a half of his nuggets, as well as most of his sweet corn. In one of his hands he held a little blue Hot Wheel car that Matsumoto had pulled from the bin of Happy Meal toys. In his other hand he held his third carton of milk, which he was sipping quite joyfully.

“And he wouldn’t give you his name?” Matsumoto asked.

“I tried,” Reigen answered. “Three times. He refused to tell me,”

The boy began stacking some of his nuggets on top of each other, forming a tower.

“I don’t understand. What is he even doing out here all by himself?”

“I have no idea,” Reigen said, “I’ve already told you, I can’t get anything out of the kid.”

“I imagine his parents are worried sick. I lost that shirt three days ago, which means he’s been on his own since then. Do you think we should take him to the police?”

“Of course we should take him to the police!” Reigen hissed. “The problem is that he doesn’t seem to want to be found. Remember how he freaked out when I tried to call them?”

“I know I know,” Matsumoto whispered, “I just don’t know what else to do.”

Reigen sighed. He turned his head to watch the boy again, who was now running his toy car along the table, pushing it so that it knocked over the tower of nuggets he had made.

“Let me try and talk to him again. I don’t want to scare him, but somehow or another we need to get him to the police.”

Reigen straightened up, and went around the counter towards the boy.

“Hey there kiddo! You doing okay?”

The boy smiled. Reigen noticed that there was some corn still stuck to his face.

“Good! Is it alright if I sit here?”

The boy said nothing, which Reigen took as a ‘yes’.

Reigen slid into the seat across from him, and folded his arms on the table.

“Now that you’ve eaten, I think it’s time that we talked. Can you start by telling me your name?”

The boy shook his head.

“No? Why not?”

The boy reached for another nugget.

Reigen grabbed the edge of the napkin from under the nuggets and pulled them away.

“Nah-ah-a! You can have these back after we’ve talked.”

Reigen definitely did not like the look the kid gave him.

“Just for a second, I promise! I need you to answer some questions, okay?”

The boy tried to reach across the table to snatch one of the nuggets, but Reigen was able to block his hand from reaching them.

“Sorry! You can’t have these back until you’ve told me your name.”

“No!”

“No why?”

“NO!”

The boy pounded his fists onto the table, smashing some of his corn in the process.

“Look kid, I can’t help you unless you help me. Alright? You need to give me something here. Anything .”

The boy crossed his arms and stuck his bottom lip out.

“Don’t give me that pouty look now!” he cried, waggling his finger at the kid. “I got you milk, so now you gotta give me your name.”

Reigen wasn’t quite sure what happened, but in the blink of an eye, one of the nuggets from the pile had suddenly made it into the boy’s hands.

“Wait- how …”

The nugget disappeared into the boy’s mouth.

“Oh- Oh okay okay alright you can have these back,” he pushed the napkin back over to the boy, “but I need you to give me something. If you won’t tell me your name, is there something else I can call you?”

The boy began to shove another nugget into his face.

“You sure do like those,” Reigen mused. He looked over at the milk carton the boy held in his hand, the big yellow “M” on its front still visible between his fingers.

“How ‘bout I call you Mob. Is that alright?”

The boy nodded, putting another one of his nuggets into his mouth.

“Okay Mob, how about you start by telling me where your shoes went.”

“Trash man.”

“Trash man?”

Mob nodded, taking a sip from his milk.

“The trash man. So he took your shoes?”

Mob nodded again.

“Why did he do that?”

“I left them by the big bin. He thought they were trash.”

“And why, may I ask, did you leave your shoes by the garbage bins?”

“I was sleeping there.”

Reigen felt a pit forming in his stomach.

“Why were you sleeping by the trash bins?”

Mob slurped loudly through his empty straw. He shook it a few times, and then held it out to Reigen.

“Empty.”

“Yes, yes it is. Now can you please tell me why you were sleeping outside in a dark alleyway, all on your own, in the middle of the rain?”

Mob thrusted the carton at Reigen again.

“Milk.”

“For goodness sake, I’ll get you some milk after! I need to kn- please don’t do the pouty thing again Mob, It’s not going to work this time. I need you to tell me what you were doing sleeping alone outside.”

Mob crossed his arms.

Great. This conversation wasn’t getting him anywhere.

“Alright then, I’ll get you some more milk. But then I’m going to have to call the cops and see if they can help us find your-”

Mob whole body froze.

No .”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t just let you go out into the streets again. Hey, how about we get you ano-”

Before Reigen could finish his sentence, Mob had bolted out of his seat and began to sprint towards the front door.

“W- Wait !”

Reigen tried to jump from his seat, but stumbled over the table’s leg.

“MOB!”

But Mob had already flung open the door and was disappearing into the darkness outside.

WAIT!

Reigen made it to his feet, tore across the room, and caught the glass door before it shut.

“Mob come back!”

He ran out into the rain, the figure of the boy was already halfway across the parking lot.

“WAIT! I promise I won’t call the cops!”

Mob’s silhouette stopped.

“You won’t?” he called back.

“I won’t call them. I promise. Ok kiddo?” he yelled “Just-just come back inside please, I’ve already had enough of this rain.”

Mob took a step towards him.

“You promise?”

“Sure. Whatever. Just come back inside, please .”

Mob walked forward, so that Reigen could see him by the faint light of the store.

“Pinky promise.”

His voice was firm. He held out his right hand, with his toy car still clutched in it, pinky finger extended.

Reigen sighed.

“Alright kid, you win.”

He stepped forward, reached out his hand, and shook Mob’s pinky finger with his own.

“Pinky promise.”

Mob nodded.

“Ok then. No cops. Let’s see… what to do now…”

Reigen looked down at Mob, the boy’s bright eyes looked up at him expectantly. Reigen couldn’t think of what to do next. If he tried to call the police, Mob would try and run away again. But he certainly couldn’t leave the kid here by himself.

An idea started to form in his head, and Reigen was fairly certain he was going to regret it.

“How about this kid, why don’t you come and spend the night at my place? That way, you won’t have to sleep outside by the garbage bins again.”

Mob looked at Reigen with his big brown eyes. The hope he saw in them made the pit in his stomach twist again.   

“I can stay with you?”

“Of course!”

A smile spread across the young boy’s face.

Great. What have I gotten myself into?

“Ok, now that that’s settled, let’s go inside and explain everything to Matsumoto-San, alright? Then I’ll see if I can find us both a taxi.”

Mob nodded, reached out his hand, and allowed Reigen to lead him back into the restaurant.