It’s been a little while since Reigen took a job on his own.
He used to do it all the time, he told Serizawa on his way out the door. And he did. It was never a big deal. He was more than capable of taking on jobs by himself, depending on the nature of the work. His sense of being would lead most to think he’s unqualified for it, but honestly, Serizawa has yet to meet a man more capable than him when it comes to dealing with difficult people and insufferable clients.
But something had been off, today. Serizawa can’t read people in the impeccable way that Reigen can, but he’s at least known him long enough to tell that something wasn’t what it should’ve been. Something was out of place. In Reigen’s tone of voice, in the way he shrugged off Serizawa’s help, even in the way he swung his coat around him. There was a nervous something accompanying the movements that wasn’t Reigen. A sour note in a familiar melody.
He let him go, though, because Reigen is capable. Because he’s more than able to do whatever it is he’s set out to do.
Fingers filing through papers, clicking through emails, sorting messages on their website, Serizawa sifts through the paperwork in Reigen’s stead, making sure everything is kept in proper order and sort. Reigen is much faster at this than he is, but only because Serizawa triple-checks every order to make sure everything is as it should be. And he may or may not be intentionally dragging himself through it so he has an excuse to be here when Reigen returns.
On a normal day, he’d be finished with paperwork by around seven in the evening. Tonight, he finishes at nine. The office closes at six. He’d gotten up to flip the sign and make himself a cup of tea (more out of nervous energy than anything), and since then has been seated at the desk.
He sits and fiddles, his prepared but untouched cup of tea placed by the closed laptop. Reigen left at four. The clock ticks onwards until nine becomes ten. It’s been too long. He should’ve been back by now.
Ten thirty. Serizawa texts him, because he’s worried and desperately grasping for reasons why he shouldn’t be. Each time he reaches out, there’s less and less to grasp. Reigen hasn’t responded to the text. He sends another one, and Reigen doesn’t reply to that, either.
He wonders if he should go looking for him. Reigen is capable, yes, but he’s human, too. And he never really seems to realize just how human he is.
He’s still debating, and is just about to cast reason to the wind and go after him, when there’s a sound knock at the office door.
It doesn’t make sense for it to be Reigen, not unless he’d forgotten his keys (and his phone, because Serizawa has been texting him fruitlessly for a good long while now). But he hadn’t forgotten his phone. It isn’t him.
Serizawa swallows hard and tries to ignore it, too worried and frazzled to deal with a customer at the moment, even if all he has to do is politely remind them that they’re closed for the night and they’d have to try again tomorrow. He’s already restless enough as it is, bouncing his leg and wringing his hands together on the desktop. He’s not in the right mindset for it.
But there’s a knock at the door, somewhat more forceful this time, and Serizawa scolds himself for being so unprofessional and gets his legs underneath him. They ache from so much time spent sitting doing nothing, but he ignores that and crosses the room. All he has to do is ask them to come back tomorrow; and then, once they’re gone, he’ll grab his coat and look for Reigen.
He makes his way over to the door. The blinds are shut, and it’s so dark outside that he probably wouldn’t be able to see much of anything anyway, and he takes a moment to mentally prepare his speech before sliding back the locks and pulling it open.
“I-I’m sorry, we’re closed right now, you-you’ll have to come back tomor–”
It isn’t a client.
Reigen smiles wanly at him, an expression tight and drawn enough to snap, and something is wrong. There’s a bruise on the side of his head, dark and splotchy in the porch light over the office door, and he’s holding himself oddly, favoring one leg over the other and keeping his arms tight around his chest. His coat is gone. His hair is a mess.
“Sorry,” he says in a hoarse voice, “but I’m not sure I’ll be able to wait until then.”
Reigen drags in a breath through his teeth. “I swear it’s not as bad as it looks.”
It catches up with him.
“What happened?” Serizawa stammers, heart in his throat. He feels sick. He wants to do something with his hands, but all they manage is hovering by Reigen’s shoulders. Should he touch him? How bad is it? “Should I call someone? Do you need a hospital? What–”
“Katsuya, I know you’re worried, I’ll explain in a sec, but I really need to sit down right now.”
“R–Right.” Right? “R-Right! Here, I’ll–”
He beats down his panic and replaces it with purpose, and he takes Reigen by the shoulders and leads him inside. With a flick of his aura, the door shuts and locks in their wake.
Reigen sighs longly and twirls a finger by his head. “S’mthing like that. They weren’t very good at it, though.”
“They were good enough.” Serizawa ties off the bandage at Reigen’s wrist, and when Reigen lets it down to his side, Serizawa takes his opposite arm and studies it carefully. It isn’t broken, but there are bruises, and a cut of concerning length stretches from the back of his hand to his shoulder in a messy, twisted fashion.
Reigen catches him staring and laughs hoarsely. It sounds like it hurts. “One of them had a knife.”
Serizawa clenches his teeth and swallows back the acid in his throat. He takes a fresh cotton swab from the first aid kit, douses it generously in disinfectant, and drags it along the length of the gash. Reigen stays quiet, but his face is a shade paler than it should be, and his jaw is set tight.
Blood turns the cotton swab red, and the gnawing pit in Serizawa’s stomach grows. “I should’ve been there,” he says quietly, hardly able to get the words out.
Reigen hears him, though, and shakes his head. “No, you shouldn’t have been. There was a reason why I didn’t let you go.”
“I would have been able to protect you, they could have killed you–”
“They weren’t murderers,” Reigen says. Serizawa can’t pin down exactly why his voice wavers. “I didn’t let you go because it wasn’t worth it.”
Serizawa tosses the swab off to the side and grabs a roll of gauze instead. “What wasn’t worth it?”
“I know you don’t like using your psychic powers against actual people,” Reigen answers shortly. “I didn’t want to put you through that again.”
That… makes sense. It makes sense, but still–
“You at least wouldn’t have been alone,” Serizawa says finally, and hopes it’s the right thing to say. “I know you’re my boss, but you can rely on me, too. You don’t have to put yourself in danger like that, or at least not when you’re on your own. We would’ve figured something out.”
Reigen turns and stares into the back of the couch, just to avoid meeting his gaze. He sighs. “You’re right, you’re right. Sorry. I’ll… work on that.”
He’s brushing it off, they both kind of are, but only because there are more pressing things to deal with right now. They’ll talk about it later, and Serizawa will make sure there is a “later,” but first things first.
“You should see a doctor,” Serizawa says once he’s done bandaging Reigen’s arm. He lets it down at his side, and Reigen doesn’t move. “I don’t know how serious any of this actually is.”
“I don’t feel up to it right now.”
“Then I’ll take you.”
“Take me tomorrow,” he says, still without looking at him–only now, it’s because he’s closed his eyes. “Waiting a few hours isn’t going to kill me, and it’s not like I have a concussion.”
Serizawa wants to push it, but the fact he’s admitting to needing a hospital anyway is huge. It’s enough to worry him. But he does trust Reigen’s judgment in this.
“First thing tomorrow, then,” Serizawa says, grabbing one final roll of gauze from the medical kit. “And no getting out of it.”
“No getting out of it,” Reigen repeats, nodding to himself, and Serizawa takes a breath, holds it for a second, before he goes on;
“I’m just gonna put something around your ankle to keep it stable until then,” he murmurs, already dreading it. His ankle doesn’t particularly look broken, but he hadn’t put weight on it earlier, and he’d bit his lip and clutched the edge of the couch while Serizawa pulled off his shoe and sock. Those weren’t great signs.
Reigen doesn’t look very happy with it, either, but he nods and lets Serizawa pull his leg onto the couch between them. It’s definitely bruised and swollen, he can see that now. He’s afraid to touch it, but it’s just to keep it stabilized until tomorrow.
“Alright,” Serizawa holds his breath a moment, “alright, hold still…”
Reigen does hold still. Perfectly still, actually, while Serizawa wraps it. He keeps it loose, unsure of how tight it should be, and tells himself that it’s alright, they’ll get it looked at tomorrow, this is fine.
He makes quick work of it, and as soon as he’s tied it off, he lifts his head. Reigen has an arm draped over his eyes, teeth clenched behind closed lips, skin even paler than before. He doesn’t move.
Serizawa’s heart skips a beat. “Arataka?”
“M’fine, sorry,” he says, and Serizawa releases a sigh of relief. “Just–g-gimme a second.”
“Yeah, right, of course.” Serizawa uses one of the couch pillows to elevate his ankle, not missing the slight hitch of Reigen’s breath when he’s jostled again. Serizawa apologizes quietly, Reigen waves him off with a flop of his hand.
It takes a while for Reigen to catch his breath after that, but he does indeed catch it, and Serizawa dumps his cold cup of tea in favor of making two fresh one. It’s well past midnight now, but neither of them care and sit together on the couch as best they can with Reigen’s leg elevated.
They sleep in the office that night on the couch, without really intending to, and don’t realize they’d done so until the sunrise of the following day.