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The Greater Good (Working Title)

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“Man, you guys are lifesavers. I don’t know how I would have gotten through all this paperwork without you. Thanks for all your help.” Reigen said over a stack of papers on his desk. As usual, he’d let all the office work pile up for weeks, meaning a late night for everyone, if not an all-nighter. But if anyone minded, no one said it out loud.

“No problem, Mr. Reigen, sir! I’m always happy to help.” said Serizawa from the couch. He had a stack of paper in front of him too, though not nearly as big as Reigen’s. Mob was seated in front of the filing cabinet, sticking papers in folders and trying not to get paper cuts. It was tedious for sure, and he really wanted to bring up that he had school in the morning, but decided to keep it to himself.

“You’re the one who let it all pile up, so you should be the one doing it, Reigen.” said Dimple snidely.

“Can it! No one asked you! Since you’ve got free time to make smart remarks, why don’t you make yourself useful and help?”

“Hey, wait a minute, turn that up.” Serizawa said, gesturing to the TV.

“Sure.” Reigen aimed the remote. Everyone looked over at the report on the news channel.

“We’re sitting here today with Richard Wright, an American businessman, CEO and founder of Wright Enterprises. So, would you mind telling us what brings you to Japan and a little about what your company does?” said the cheerful reporter.

“Of course! My company aims to create a better world for those who are disadvantaged. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunities in life, and I feel like expanding my business worldwide will definitely help us achieve that goal. I feel that Japan is an excellent place to begin our expansion, due to its successful economy and many possible opportunities.” said Richard. He was a smartly dressed man in a clean blue suit and crisp tie, as if he were fresh out of a high-end men’s dress-wear magazine.

“Ugh, just look at that guy. He reeks of snobbiness. He’s got more money than he knows what to do with.” Reigen said with disgust, folding his arms.

“You’re just jealous because he’s more successful than you.” Dimple smirked. Reigen ignored him.

“He seems like he’s got it all together. The perfect picture of success.” said Serizawa longingly.

“Yeah, well, just because he’s got a fourteen-karat-gold swimming pool in his backyard doesn’t mean he has it all together, trust me.” said Reigen. “Don’t get too caught up in that “perfect picture of success”, Serizawa.”

“Oh! Yes, sir! I’m sorry!” said Serizawa hastily, rustling through his stack of paper.

“I think you’re doing alright, Master Reigen. Money isn’t everything.” said Mob from over by the filing cabinet.

“Thank you, Mob. I think so too.” said Reigen. Dimple rolled his eyes, but no one noticed. And that was probably for the best.

“We also hear that you’re a family man in addition to being a CEO, is that correct?” The reporter asked.

“Absolutely. I have a wonderful young daughter who will be starting her new school as soon as we get settled in. She’s my pride and joy, and part of the reason I do what I do: I want to provide a better life for my family, as well as for those who are in need. She’s your typical teenager, into boys and soccer. I’m sure you know how that is.” Richard chuckled. Reigen scoffed.

“How lovely! You brought a picture of your daughter today, why don’t we show our viewing audience your beautiful family?” The reporter smiled. A picture showed up on the screen. Richard stood to one side, a big smile on his face. To his right stood a young girl with long golden hair that shone in the sun, just like her father’s. She too was beaming. A satiny pink ribbon kept her hair out of her face.

No sooner had the picture appeared on the screen then something flashed briefly before Mob’s eyes: a shadowy image of someone standing in front of him, raising a glowing and gleaming knife. Without any warning whatsoever, a sharp, burning pain shot through his right shoulder. He gasped in pain, dropping all the papers he was holding and gripped his shoulder tightly, though it didn’t ease the pain at all.

“Shigeo, what’s wrong?” Dimple asked, sounding worried. The other two looked over in concern as well. “Does something hurt?”

“Kageyama, are you ok?”

Reigen hurried over to where Mob was sitting.

“Mob, what’s wrong? Did you injure yourself? Are you feeling sick? Where does it hurt?” Reigen said quickly, clearly concerned. Serizawa came over too.

“Ah, it’s my shoulder...I have no idea what caused it, but it really hurts!” said Mob, tightening his grip on it. What was this pain from? Why did it come out of nowhere? Was something wrong with him?

“Take off your uniform jacket. Let me take a look at it. Maybe you cut yourself and didn’t realize it until now, or something.” Reigen said.

“Mr. Reigen, should I get the First Aid kit?” asked Serizawa, but Reigen only answered by putting a finger up. Mob gingerly unbuttoned his jacket, and slid it off, trying not to move his shoulder. Even he was getting worried, though the pain was slowly subsiding. He rolled up the sleeve of his T-shirt so that it was out of the way.

“...huh. That’s weird. There’s nothing there--no cuts, no bruises, nothing. It looks completely normal.” Reigen noted, looking at Mob’s shoulder closely. Serizawa leaned in to look too. Mob stretched out his arm to look for himself, and sure enough, Reigen was right: there was absolutely nothing there. But how could that be? Why did it hurt so badly, and out of the blue like that?

“I don’t understand…” Mob said slowly. “It just hurt suddenly, with no warning. I don’t get it…”

“Hmmm...well, you exercise every day with your club, right? Maybe you pulled a muscle, or strained something and just didn’t notice it until now. Plus you’ve been using it a lot tonight, between the filing and the writing, you probably exacerbated it. Does it still hurt?” asked Reigen.

“Not really. It’s subsiding.” said Mob.

“That’s good, at least. We don’t have much more to do tonight, so why don’t you go home. You can rest it and put some ice or heat on it; it might help. Try a hot bath. If nothing else, I’m sure going to a doctor would help too. I’m not very good with stuff like this, and I doubt Serizawa is either.” Reigen said warmly.

“Ok. I’m sorry about all this, Master Reigen…” said Mob guiltily, putting his jacket back on and buttoning it. He gathered up his schoolbag.

“That’s ok. You’re no good to us injured. Go home and get some rest. Dimple, you go with him too; make sure he gets home safely.” said Reigen.

“Understood.” said Dimple.

“Goodnight, Master.” said Mob, bowing and making his way towards the door.

“Goodnight, Mob. See you tomorrow, if you’re up to it.”

“Goodnight, Kageyama! I hope your shoulder feels better soon!” Serizawa said politely.

When he reached home, Mob went straight to his room and collapsed on his futon. He couldn’t shake off the shock of what he had seen and experienced. What was that vision, and who was the person holding the knife? Their face was too hazy and shadowy for him to clearly tell who it could be. And where did that sudden pain come from, and why did it subside so quickly? These questions and more swirled around in his head until it hurt.

Someone knocked on his bedroom door and opened it. It was Ritsu.

"Shige? Welcome home. Is everything ok? You went straight up here after coming in without saying a word. Is something bothering you?" asked Ritsu. Mob thought for a little, trying to choose his words. He didn't want to worry his brother, but talking about what he'd seen might help.

"Ritsu? Have you ever had--a vision before?" Mob asked, sitting up. Ritsu thought for a moment.

"No, I don't think so. I mean, I've had dreams, but not visions. Why, have you?"

Mob told him about what he'd seen at the office and the pain he'd felt in his shoulder. Ritsu looked puzzled.

"That's interesting. And you couldn't see who it was?" said Ritsu. Mob shook his head. "I wonder what could have caused you to see that, then. Maybe something you saw on TV? We did watch that horror movie last night." Mob said nothing, still trying to piece it together. "Well, I wouldn't worry about it too much. It's probably nothing to worry about. You should get to bed, we have school in the morning. Good night." He shut the door. But Mob still couldn't get the shadowy assailant out of his head. And even though the pain had faded, its effects still lingered.

“I just don’t get it,” Mob said aloud to the ceiling.

“Beats me. Like Reigen said, you probably injured yourself working out and didn’t notice right away. As for the vision, you probably should have told Reigen, but since you couldn't see the attacker, it's probably nothing to be too concerned about. And now that I think about it, Reigen couldn’t have helped much anyway. You should try and get to bed. Staying up all night thinking about it isn’t good for you. You’ve got school in the morning, you know, and I’m not an alarm clock.” said Dimple.

Mob didn’t say anything else; he didn’t want Dimple or anyone else to think he was going crazy; he was odd enough, thank you very much. Instead, he undressed in silence, turned out the light and got into bed. But the hours ticked by long before he was finally able to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

Morning came, a lot faster than Mob wanted. It felt like he had barely shut his eyes and then the next second sunlight was streaming through the window. He dressed in a haze, and did his level best not to fall asleep at the breakfast table. In the end, he wasn’t able to get the vision out of his head; even when he did fall asleep, it had repeated over and over in his dreams like a broken record. It was so ingrained in his head that he could probably draw it all from memory. He was so tired he didn’t realize he was going the wrong way to school.

“Shige? You know you’re going the wrong way, right?” said Ritsu, grabbing his arm to stop him from making a right turn.

“Oh, I am? I didn’t notice. Sorry…”

“Are you ok? Did you not sleep well?”

“No, I slept ok, I--” But he yawned mid-sentence.

“I guess you weren’t able to stop thinking about the vision, huh?” asked Ritsu as they stopped at the intersection and waited for a green light. He grabbed Mob’s arm to stop him from crossing on red.

“No, not at all...I just can’t shake it. I don’t understand…”

“I wish I knew what to tell you. I’ve never had a vision before, and the one you had seemed pretty graphic. Who would want to stab you, anyway? You know someone who has a grudge against you?” Ritsu said.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. It may have been an evil spirit. I wonder if Master would know.” said Mob.

“I wouldn’t bother asking Reigen. He’s probably too busy.” said Ritsu, keeping the disgust in his voice to a bare minimum. “The pain was probably psychosomatic. I learned in class that the relationship between your mind and body is pretty powerful.”

“Maybe…”

 

* * *

“Settle down, good morning.” The teacher called over the noise in the classroom, as everyone put their stuff away and took their seats. “We have a lot to cover today, but first, we have a new transfer student joining our class. Go ahead and introduce yourself.”

Mob’s heart skipped a beat. Standing at the front of the class was the girl he’d seen in the picture on the news report. She looked nearly identical to the photograph, but now she had on her school uniform. Even her smile and pink ribbon were the same. A few whispers were heard.

“I’m Courtney Wright. I came from America with my father’s business. We’ll be staying in Japan for a while. It’s nice to meet you all.” She said in perfect Japanese. She even bowed at the end.

“Thank you very much, Courtney. We’re happy to have you. You can have a seat next to Sakamoto. We’re going to pick up where we left off in our lesson, so take out…”

Mob couldn’t concentrate at all during the lesson. Seeing her here had made the vision even fresher, though he was sure that Courtney and the vision were completely unrelated. She spoke like someone who had traveled a lot and was well-educated in world culture, and it made sense, being the daughter of a CEO. He was so lost in thought that he stared into his rice at lunch for five minutes before he realized she was standing right in front of him. It startled him so much that he dropped his chopsticks, which slid off the desk and landed in his lap. Courtney didn’t seem to notice.

“Mind if I join you?” She said cheerfully. And suddenly he was very nervous.

“M-me?” He hoped she couldn’t see his hands shaking, but he put them in his lap just to make sure.

“Yes! Is that ok?”

“Uh, y-yes! Sure.” He barely got the words out. She pulled up the neighboring desk and took her lunchbox out.

“Thank you! I hope I didn’t bother you. You seemed like you were thinking about something important. You were sitting by yourself, so I thought you could use some company. My father says it’s really important to make friends wherever you go. I’m Courtney, if you didn’t remember.” She said. He had remembered, but his mind went blank as soon as she had walked up to his desk.

“I’m Shigeo…” Mob managed to get the words out without stammering this time, but he could still hear his heart pounding. Hopefully she couldn’t.

“Nice to meet you! I hope we’ll be good friends.”

He wanted to start a conversation with her, but it felt like there was cement in his throat. He spent the rest of his lunch period in silence, even though he had someone to talk to sitting right in front of him. The bell rang, seeming much louder than usual.

“Thanks for letting me sit with you!” said Courtney as she cleaned up her spot and moved the desk back.

“Ah, y-you’re welcome…” But Mob was pretty sure he’d said it too softly for her to hear him.

“Shigeo, you need to start researching how to talk to girls. That was just painful to watch.” Dimple murmured in his ear. And Mob knew he was absolutely right.

 

* * *

“So, you got a transfer student?” Ritsu said to his brother as they walked home. Mob tripped and almost fell.

“Yeah...we did. How did you know about that?” Mob asked once he recovered.

“A couple kids in my class were talking about her. She’s the daughter of that CEO that was on the news last night. I bet her family has a lot of money.” said Ritsu.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” said Mob.

“And then she sat with him at lunch and he hardly said a thing to her.” said Dimple, shaking his head in disappointment.

“She sat with you? Wow! Maybe you’ve got an admirer, Shige.” said Ritsu with a grin. Mob tripped again.

“I-I think she was doing it just to be nice. That’s all…”

“Yeah, and it would have been nice if you had acknowledged her, Shigeo. She probably thinks you don’t like her now.” said Dimple.

“Come on, Dimple, don’t be so rough on him. He probably wasn’t thinking straight from being so tired. You should go to bed early tonight, Shige.” said Ritsu.

“Yeah, I think I will. Thank you for your concern, Ritsu.”

“No problem.”

 

Mob slept better after that and felt almost normal when he woke up. He’d had no dreams or visions about the attacker with the knife since then, and even when his thoughts did stray to it, it wasn’t for long and it didn’t seem quite so scary anymore. The pain in his shoulder hadn’t returned since that night either. Maybe everyone was right, and it really wasn’t anything to worry about. It was only a vision, after all. Like Ritsu had said, who would want to stab him? He went through everyone he knew in his head and couldn’t picture any of them wanting to pull a knife on him, let alone owning one. Even Onigawara hadn’t used a knife in his delinquent days.

“Glad to see you’re doing better.” said Ritsu, sticking his head in the doorway. “Hurry up, Mom’s got breakfast ready for you. I have to leave now, I’ve got Student Council this morning. See you at school.”

The walk was also fairly normal, and Mob didn’t make any wrong turns this time. Now things were back to normal. Or at least, what was considered normal for him. He got to school and took off his shoes, ready to put them in his locker. When he opened the door, a piece of folded paper fell out.

“Huh. Wonder what that is. Another fake love letter? You must be a magnet for these; first Onigawara, then Emi, and now this.” Dimple said. Mob didn’t answer, but unfolded the paper instead. It was handwritten with no signature.

 

Meet me behind the school after class. I’ll be waiting.

Chapter Text

“I’m telling you, it’s a fake love letter. Your track record hasn’t been great so far. You can’t tell me you’re gonna go.” Dimple said.

Mob didn’t answer. Not because he was concentrating on his math problems, but because he had other things on his mind, all of which were related to the note. Who sent it? What did they want? Was it really another fake love letter, or something else? That aside, it would also look pretty strange if he started talking to seemingly thin air.

The closer it got to four o’clock, the more fidgety he got. It was harder than usual to focus on his lessons. He kept glancing out the window, trying to see if the mystery person had shown up behind the school yet. Thankfully, none of his teachers noticed him, and his classmates didn’t seem to either. When the last bell finally rang, he rushed to gather up his things as fast as possible and wasn’t being particularly careful about it. His pencil case ended up on the floor, spilling out its contents. He bent down to pick them up, and noticed a pair of knees kneeling down in front of him.

“Here.” It was Courtney. She held out a few of his pencils. “I’m sure these are yours.” Mob nodded, his face warm, and took them from her. “You should be more careful, you know.” She stood up. A group of girls came rushing up to her, completely ignoring him.

“Hey, Courtney! Can you come over to my house later? I need some serious help on my English homework! We’ll have snacks and everything!”

“Sure, no problem! I’ll come by a little later and we can study!” She walked off. Mob threw the rest of his belongings in his bag and hurried down the hall, almost running into two students and a trash can in his haste.

“I don’t know if I can watch this. I’ll be at your house, Shigeo. You can tell me what happened later. I’d rather not witness this.” said Dimple, and he drifted off. Mob exchanged his shoes as quickly as he could, his fingers fumbling over his laces. Who wrote the note? Maybe it was Tsubomi, who had something she wanted to tell him. Or Mezato, who had new updates on the religious group. Or even Tome, who had maybe found a telepath, for real this time.

He rounded the corner, heart pounding. But it wasn’t Tsubomi, or Mezato. It wasn’t even Tome.

It was Courtney, wearing her trademark smile. The sunset made her hair and face glow orange.

“Thanks for meeting me. I didn’t want to tell you this in front of our classmates.” She said. “It wouldn’t be appropriate.”

“W-what did you want?” Mob asked, tripping over his words. Then he realized with horror that that may have sounded rude, and it was too late to take it back. “Ah! I-I didn’t mean it like that, I promise!” To his great relief, Courtney laughed.

“Don’t worry, I know. I’m pretty good at reading people.” Beat. “I’ll get to the point though, because this is important and I feel like I have to tell you this.” She took a breath and looked a little more serious. “I know who you are.”

“What do you mean?” asked Mob, his nervousness completely drowning out any sense of rational thought. She knew who he was? What did that mean?

“I knew who you were the moment I walked into your classroom. You’re an esper, aren’t you?” said Courtney. She asked the question, but the tone in her voice didn’t match. She knew, and just asked as a formality.

“H-how did you know?” Mob exclaimed, completely taken aback. She knew all along? How? He never told her, and he was pretty sure his classmates didn’t know. And Ritsu had never even spoken to her, at least, not that he knew of. How could she have known?

“People with power are drawn to power. That’s what my father says. That being said…” Suddenly, she glowed bright pink, and rocks and pebbles starting lifting up from the ground. They formed a tornado that swirled around Mob as he watched, astonished. She stopped glowing, and they dropped harmlessly to the ground, scattered around him. “I’m one too.”

Courtney was an esper, just like him. Mob tried to process it all. This was a lot all at once. He could feel a headache coming on, and more questions came up. He'd forgotten that espers can sense each other. Yet if she was an esper, why didn’t he sense her, like he could with all other espers? And why was she choosing to show him her power, of all people?

“You have to accept all parts of yourself to be successful. Otherwise, you’ll just hold yourself back, and waste your potential. You have a gift, Shigeo. You shouldn’t stuff it down like unwanted junk. Be proud of who you are. That’s important. If you do that, you’ll go very far in life, and do so much good. And don’t worry; I won’t tell anyone.” She said, gathering up her schoolbag and walking past him. It was a while before Mob moved at all. Still in mild shock, he grabbed his own bag and started for the office.

* * *

“Oh, so you met another esper at your school? And she’s in the same class as you?” said Reigen once he finished typing. Serizawa brought some tea over for everyone.

“Yes. She told me that people with power are drawn to power, and that I shouldn’t hold my power back.” said Mob slowly, recovering from the shock of it all. He took his cup carefully.
“Well, she’s right. You shouldn’t suppress yourself.” said Reigen thoughtfully.

“Yes.” was all Mob could manage to say.

“You should have offered her a job. We need all the help we can get around here. I’m still behind on paperwork.” said Reigen, setting his laptop aside. “That being said, I guess she chose to show you her power because you’re an esper too. I doubt she would have picked just anyone from your class. Especially since she could probably sense you. But I wonder why you couldn’t sense her. That’s a little odd. I thought you could sense other espers too.”

“I can, usually. But this time, I couldn’t for some reason. That’s the first time that’s happened.” Mob noted, talking more to his tea than to Reigen.

“Are you feeling sick, Kageyama? In my experience, my powers are less effective when I’m sick. Maybe that's the case with you too.” Serizawa suggested.

“No, I don’t think so. I feel fine.” said Mob. Truth be told, his head still hurt, but it wasn’t because he was coming down with something. "Maybe...maybe something's wrong with me, or my powers…" It was a grim thought, but it may be true. Maybe his powers were weakening.

"Hmmm...it is possible. I wouldn't jump right to that conclusion though, not without any real proof. Besides, have you used your power lately? Try now."

Mob levitated his cup. It wasn't difficult, nor did it seem any different from any other time he did anything like this.

"Well, they seem to still be working, so I don't think that's it. Maybe you're just overthinking it. You've had a lot on your mind lately." Reigen said, perceptive as usual. "But don't look so down. You're gonna be just fine. We've got a client coming in shortly, so everybody perk up!"

"Yes, Mr. Reigen, sir."

"Ok."

* * *

"No way! She wrote that note and showed you her powers? Maybe I was wrong after all and the third time really is the charm!" said Dimple after Mob filled him in on everything.

"No, it wasn't a confession. I think she showed me her powers because I'm an esper too. She said she knew I was one as soon as she saw me. But I couldn't sense her for some reason." Mob said, drying his hair after his bath.

"You're pretty cynical all the time, aren't you? But that is unusual. Your powers of perception are pretty sharp. You were even able to find espers 20 km away, yet you couldn't sense one in the same classroom? Makes no sense to me." Dimple shrugged.

“I don’t get it either.” Mob said, sitting on his futon.

“So what happened after that?”

“She told me I shouldn’t suppress my power and that I should embrace all parts of myself in order to do good in the world. It sounded a bit like a business pitch, but Master Reigen said she was right. Then she told me she wouldn’t tell anyone about my powers and left.”

“I hate to say this, but Reigen’s right, and so is that girl, whatever her name was. You should brighten your outlook a bit, Shigeo. Don’t be so hard on yourself and live in fear of your power. You can really be somebody then!” said Dimple encouragingly. Mob looked at him like he’d never seen him before.

“I’ve never heard you say something like that in all the time I’ve known you, Dimple.” said Mob, quite surprised.

“Really? Who do you take me for? Geez, have a little more faith in me, why don’t you.” Dimple said.

“Sorry…”

Mob shut off the light and laid in bed, but couldn’t get all the questions he had out of his head. The dull pain in his head pounded. All he really wanted was just to be a normal second-year, and maybe life would be so much easier. He wouldn’t have to deal with espers and all these nagging questions about everything, and visions about shadowy people with bright knives--

And the vision was back in his head. Slightly shaken but also really exhausted, he tried to push it out of his mind for the night. Everyone was right, he was thinking about this way too much, and it wasn’t healthy. He didn’t want to worry everyone else either. He took a deep breath to try and clear his head so he could fall asleep. And eventually he did.

Chapter Text

“I think the world’s gone mad.” Reigen said as he looked through his newspaper. Mob and Serizawa, who were both doing schoolwork on the couch, looked up.

“What makes you say that, Mr. Reigen?” Serizawa asked as Mob checked his math homework.

“I just finished the paper. Fifth missing person in the city this month. No clues, no nothing, they just up and vanished into thin air.” said Reigen, folding and putting the paper aside. “This is crazy. You almost have to be afraid to leave your house.”

“Are you afraid, Master?” Mob asked, looking up from Serizawa’s paper for a moment.

“I bet he’s shaking in his boots, aren’t you, Reigen?” said Dimple snidely.

“Of course not! I’m a grown man! I can certainly handle myself! Plus I used to take martial arts! Evil spirits and hoodlums beware!” Reigen said. But the sweat was obvious.

“Give me a break…”

“Missing people? That sounds awful. I hope they find them soon! You don’t think it could be an evil spirit doing it, do you, Mr. Reigen?” said Serizawa. He looked over Mob’s shoulder as he checked the problems, almost holding his breath.

“Well, I suppose it could be, but I’m not sensing anything unusual right now. Though the weather’s been getting cold lately…” said Reigen hastily. Dimple rolled his eyes.

“It has! I need a new coat! Maybe a red one, or a blue one?”

“Here, Serizawa. Except for number fifteen, you got them all right. Just remember your area formula and you should be able to solve it.” said Mob warmly, handing Serizawa’s paper back to him. This had become the Friday ritual ever since Claw had disbanded and Serizawa had come to work for the Office.

“Thank you so much for your help, Kageyama! I really appreciate it!” said Serizawa gratefully. “I’ve been improving a lot thanks to your help!”

“It’s no problem.”

“What’s the big deal about five missing people, anyway?” Dimple asked. “This is a big city, doesn’t stuff like this happen a lot?”

“I mean, it happens from time to time, but not five in one month. That’s suspicious.” said Reigen thoughtfully. “Even weirder is that there are no leads on any of them. It’s like they just disappeared off the face of the Earth.” He scratched his chin, lost in thought.

“Should we investigate?” Serizawa asked with a shrug, pulling out his English textbook.

“What are you, nuts? We’re not the police! Plus, it’s not like we’re being paid--,” he cleared his throat quickly, “we’re not private detectives, I mean. It’s best to leave this kind of thing to the professionals. They’ll do a better job than we can. Just...make sure you stay in well-lit areas when you go home tonight, both of you. Actually..while don’t we call it a night, that way we can get home early, just to be safe. And Dimple, stay with Mob.”

“I was already planning on doing that, you jerk! Don’t tell me what to do!”

Mob glanced at the front page of the paper. Five pictures of five people were posted. None of them looked familiar to him, and they all looked different. He wondered how five people could disappear in one month with no trace. Maybe it was some supernatural phenomenon after all.

He started for home, making sure to stay on lit streets like Reigen had told him to. Dimple was caught up muttering curses about Reigen. The night was chilly, and he wished he’d worn a coat. He shivered in the breeze that ruffled the trees around him. When he got home, he was going to take a hot bath. Thankfully the house would be warm.

“Welcome home, brother.” said Ritsu from the living room. “Mom left you some omurice in the kitchen.”

“Ok, thanks Ritsu.” Mob put his plate in the microwave. Ritsu joined him at the table.

“You’re home early. Reigen paid you for your time, right?”

“Yes. We just didn’t have any walk-ins tonight, that’s all. Plus he said maybe it was a good idea if we went home earlier, since those people all went missing.” said Mob, starting on his dinner.

“Oh yeah, I heard about that. Pretty odd, since they still haven’t found any clues or anything. I’m glad Reigen thought to send you home early. Plus you had Dimple. I hope they find those people soon and stop whoever’s doing this. It’s kinda scary.”

“Yeah, it is.”

 

* * *

“Did you hear about that guy that went missing?”

“Yeah, I did. They still haven’t found him, or the other ones.”

“That’s so scary!”

The classroom was abuzz with gossip and talk of the missing people. Some swore they were part of a weird cult ritual, while others said claimed it was all a publicity stunt to generate newspaper sales and website hits. This was definitely how all those urban legends Mob and Reigen had debunked had started; Mob understood now. He didn’t join in any of the conversations, instead letting his mind drift. He came back to reality when someone tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey, Shigeo!” said Courtney. Mob dropped his bag and hastily bent to retrieve it.

“Oh, hey, Courtney…” He hoped that his uniform was buttoned correctly and that his hair wasn’t a mess.

“I hope I wasn’t bothering you. You seemed lost in thought again.” She said brightly. She was well-put-together, as usual.

“Oh, no. You weren’t. What’s up?” Mob asked nervously. Why, why, why was talking to girls so difficult? He had very few issues talking to the Body Improvement Club, or to the Telepathy Club, why was this so different?

“Shigeo, calm down. She isn’t going to bite you.” Dimple whispered in his ear. Mob wished he wouldn’t; he wasn’t exactly helping things.

-11%-

“I was wondering if you’d like to walk home together today. Or do you have somewhere you need to be?” Courtney asked.

“Well, I have work a little later tonight, but I think I have some time…”

“That’s great! I’ll wait for you by the front gate!” She got called over by one of her friends.

“I’m telling you, Shigeo, she likes you! She’s probably gonna ask you out soon! What are you gonna say?” Dimple pressed. Mob was too nervous to answer him. Was she really going to ask him out, or was Dimple just joking? Even if she did ask him, what was he supposed to say? He liked Tsubomi, so he’d have to turn her down. He was still having difficulty wrapping his head around the possibility that a girl liked him anyway...there wasn’t anything particularly special or interesting about him...Mob felt his shoulders grow heavy. He wasn’t special…

And for some reason, that thought suddenly depressed him.

-18%-

Chapter Text

“Before we head home, there’s one place I want to go, if that’s ok. I have something to ask you.” said Courtney when Mob met her at the front gate. Mob’s face flushed and he got really nervous. What did she want to ask him? She took him by the hand and led him down the street. The sun was setting fast.

“Shigeo, maybe she’s gonna ask you out now! She seems pretty serious!” Dimple whispered in his ear so Courtney wouldn’t hear. The thought had crossed Mob’s mind, no denying that. But would she really? She was a likable girl and seemed to get along with everyone. What could she possibly see in him?

They walked for a long time, leaving the main street and heading down a narrow side one. The main houses started to disappear in the dark. Mob’s feet were starting to hurt before Courtney stopped walking. They were near the park he used to play in with Ritsu as a kid. She turned to face him, and it felt as if his breath had caught in his throat.

“Sorry to drag you all the way out here. I passed this park the other day and it reminded me of the ones I used to play in when I was little. I’m a little sentimental, I guess. And the stars are much clearer out here.” She was right; they glimmered like a thousand diamonds in the dark sky. The sun was barely visible on the horizon now. “Anyway, I had something I wanted to ask you. I just didn’t want anyone to hear us.”

“What is it?” Mob asked, thankful that it was dark out. He wasn’t sure if his face was red or not.

“I’m sure you remember about my father running a company, right? He came here trying to expand his business, and I’m really grateful for that, because I got to meet you. When I was a kid, I felt like an outsider. People thought I was weird because of my power. There weren’t any other espers I could play with, and parents told their children to avoid me. I was pretty lonely as a kid.” Her voice sounded a little sad.

“I know how that is. I didn’t have many friends when I was younger either.” said Mob.

“We have a lot in common, I guess.” Courtney smiled. “That’s why I wanted to ask for your help.”

“My help?” Mob asked, puzzled. “What did you need my help with?”

“My father is trying to change the world with what he does. He helps out the poor and disadvantaged people, but that’s not all he does. For a long time, he’s been figuring out how to “level the playing field,'' so to speak.” Courtney answered. But nothing she said was making any sense to Mob. What part did he play in that? Did she want him to come work for her father? He already had a job, and had no time to do volunteer work outside of school.

“I remember hearing that on TV a few weeks ago. But what do you mean by “leveling the playing field”?” Mob asked. He felt a little bad that he wasn’t understanding anything she was telling him, but it didn’t seem to affect her at all.

-21%-

“Don’t you think it’s unfair that some people are born with tremendous power and others aren’t? And some of those people abuse the power they were given. Look at that man that tried to take over the world a month ago. He didn’t deserve the power he was blessed with; that could have been given to someone who would use it for good, to change the world for the better. That’s what my father wants to do: he wants to gift normal people psychic powers, in order to create a more equal world. That way, young children with powers won’t have to be shunned because they’re different. When everyone is special, no one will be. If someone abuses their power, they can be easily stopped.” said Courtney. But Mob was getting a bad feeling about all of this now. None of this made sense, or sounded good at all.

“I...I’m not sure how could I help with all of that.” Mob said slowly. He wasn’t liking the bad feeling he was getting at all.

“Shigeo...I don’t like the sound of this at all. This sounds dangerous, and not something you should be a part of.” Dimple said cautiously.

“Sorry, I got a bit caught up in everything. My father figured out a way to do it: he needs the blood of Natural espers, like us, to make a serum that can grant someone psychic powers. It isn’t always a guaranteed success, there are some adverse side effects sometimes, but for the ones that are successful, the result is amazing! Unfortunately, there aren’t too many Natural espers whose abilities are strong enough to work, so we’re having a bit of a hard time completing our trials.

“At the moment, my father’s only been able to use me to help. But you’re much stronger than I am! I sensed it when I first met you, even though I haven’t seen your powers at all. Your energy level is incredible, one of the strongest I’ve ever encountered. Think of all the good you’d being the disadvantaged people who were born without powers! You’d be helping them so much, Shigeo! We really need your help.” said Courtney.

Mob stood in silence, trying to process all of this. It sounded like nothing more than Claw, only reversed. The bad feeling still hadn’t gone away; if anything, it was getting worse. It felt like she was making an offer that he wasn’t going to be able to refuse. This was getting dangerous.

-37%-

“I don’t understand, though.” said Mob, after a long silence.

“What do you mean?” asked Courtney, looking genuinely puzzled.

“You’re giving people something that they may not want. Even I don’t want my powers some days, and wish I didn’t have them at times. You’re forcing something on people and not giving them the freedom to say no. And not only that, it seems like your father is just using you for his experiments. This whole idea doesn’t make any sense. I’m sorry, Courtney. I just don’t think any of this is a good idea. I don’t think I can be a part of it. It seems like your father is the one who wants psychic powers, not normal people.” said Mob truthfully. He did genuinely feel bad for her, as she didn’t seem to have any idea about the plot she was involved in.

“What are you talking about? Why wouldn’t anyone want this? They’re given a chance to be something more than what they already are, and a chance to catch up to people who were born miles ahead of them! I’m a crucial part to making that happen. Even if my father hadn’t asked me, I still would have offered what I could to help. And you can too. Don’t you want to be a part of something greater, to really make a difference?” said Courtney earnestly.

“I do want to change the world, but not like this. What your father is doing is wrong. You shouldn’t be involved in this at all. He’s using you for the project, and he’s manipulated you into thinking you’re doing something good for people. Family doesn’t treat each other like that.” said Mob.

“My father would never do something like that to me! What an awful thing to say!” said Courtney, starting to get angry.

-42%-

“I’m not trying to offend you, I’m just trying to tell you the truth. From where I’m standing, it sounds like he wants psychic powers and is willing to sacrifice you to get them. No father I know would do that to his daughter. You must know that.” said Mob, almost pleading at this point.

“Shigeo, there’s no reasoning with her. She’s so delusional that she can’t see the truth. You need to get out of here, now!” Dimple said, not bothering to be quiet about it anymore.

“Your spirit needs to stay out of this.” said Courtney. She could apparently see and hear him the entire time. Her trademark smile was gone from her face; she looked absolutely furious now. It was as if Mob was seeing who she was for the first time. “I was really hoping you’d be with me on this. But you not only insulted my cause, you insulted my family as well. I’m not going to let this go.” She armed herself with glowing spikes. “Fight me!”

“No! I’m not going to fight you. I know you’re not a bad person at all! But you’re being used! And you can’t give people something without their consent! You’re forcing them! Giving ordinary people psychic powers that their bodies can’t handle would destroy them anyway! ” Mob exclaimed. “Courtney, please! You have to believe me!”

“I’m done listening to you! This is going to end now!” She tossed the spikes she had created straight at him, but they shattered against his barrier. “Tough guy, huh? That’s fine! You’re going to submit whether you like it or not!” Courtney focused all her energy into one massive, sharp spike. “Good luck blocking this!” And she drove it straight into Mob. His barrier absorbed most of the blow, but it split into hundreds of tiny shards that penetrated it, slicing his face and hands and tearing his uniform. Fresh cuts burning, he lowered his battered hands to look at her. She stood there in both anger and disbelief, fixing him with a piercing stare.

-55%, 56%, 57%, 58%-

“I see. You’re not easy to bring down, are you? You’re really dangerous; you haven’t even attacked me once, and I can see you really do have tremendous power. You might be able to oppose us if you’re not extinguished here and now. And yet...you’re useful too.” said Courtney slowly, calculating, choosing her next move very carefully.

“Shigeo, are you alright?” Dimple asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. They’re just minor cuts…” said Mob, wiping some blood from his face and breathing hard. Even just defending himself was tiring. This wasn’t good at all. He couldn’t see a way out of this. She’d chase him if he ran, and she was deaf to his words. What else could he possibly do?

“Since you’re going to resist, we’ll change the game a little. If you don’t want to help me willingly, I guess we’ll just do it by force. Shame, I was starting to like you a little. You’re dangerous to us, but you’re still really valuable.” Courtney raised her hand, and now she really looked menacing, surrounded by her deep pink aura.

Rusted and dusty rebar shot out of the concrete beneath their feet like a menacing spiderweb. With her direction, it twisted itself around Mob’s throat.

-65%-

Mob pulled at it hopelessly as it cut off his oxygen, but all he did was scratch his fingertips open. He tried to use his power to free himself, but he was losing air quickly. Courtney walked towards him slowly, watching him struggle like a beetle on its back. This was it...she was really going to kill him...fear flooded every square inch of him and his heart was beating so fast he thought it was going to break his ribs. He was starting to feel lightheaded... he was going to die!

-74%, 75%, 76%, 77%, 78%-

“Shigeo! If you don’t do something quick, you’re gonna die!” Dimple yelled. Courtney shot a spike at him, sending him back a few feet.

“You stay out of it.” said Courtney coldly. Feeling his blood pressure starting to drop, Mob looked at her as best as he could with his blurring vision.

“Courtney, please listen...you’re...you’re being used…” Mob choked, trying to reach her with his words.

“Sorry, I’m done listening. The time for that is over.” She said. She was standing in front of him now.

-80%, 90%-

“Like I said, you’re dangerous but useful. I need your blood, but I also need you out of commission, or you’re just gonna get in the way. I can’t have that happen.” A sharp, glowing pink shard appeared in her hand, resonating with energy. And suddenly Mob knew: this was his vision. She was the assailant. And then--

She raised it up and plunged it into his shoulder. A wound tore open, exposing his flesh to the night air, burning with a sharp and agonizing pain. It was as if someone had set fire to his blood and poured acid onto the flame. Never in his life had he ever experienced such a horrible pain. Mob screamed out in agony--

-100%, Pain-

Mob’s power welled up within him and swept out in a giant wave around him on all sides, like a giant tsunami. The sheer force of it sent Courtney flying onto the asphalt and sliced through the rebar around his neck. Air rushed into his body, making him feel sick and dizzy, coupled with the horrible pain in his shoulder. He could feel his blood flowing freely down his arm and over his fingers, soaking his torn uniform jacket. He dropped to his knees, breathing hard as oxygen flooded his head. Power was overflowing around him, but it was flickering. He was hurting so badly, every nerve was on fire...

“Shigeo! Shigeo, are you all right?!” Dimple cried. But his voice sounded muffled. The ground below him seemed to shift in and out of focus. Breathing took an enormous effort. Mob didn’t have the strength or the air to answer him. His blood was starting to stain the asphalt around his hand. Seeing it made him feel sick and dizzy.

A pair of scuffed shoes appeared in his limited vision. He followed them slowly with his eyes. Courtney was standing over him, her hand dotted with drops of his blood. Her hair was no longer silken; it looked like it had been caught in a tornado. Her elbow was bleeding, and so was her nose. She was breathing hard, presumably because she’d been driven into the ground by the force of Mob’s power at 100%. She wiped the blood from her nose with her clean hand.

“I was right. You were blessed with tremendous power, even though it took a while for it to be drawn out. But now...you’re too injured to even sustain your power level. Pathetic.” Courtney reached into her skirt pocket and pulled out a capped vial. Even with his blurry vision, Mob could still see what was in it, and knew it was his. “Your blood is going to do so much good for normal people. I can’t imagine their reactions when they’re gifted powers as amazing as yours. But I got what I needed. I no longer care what happens to you. You can die now for all I care.” Her footsteps faded away, leaving him bleeding and alone in the destroyed park.

Chapter Text

“Shigeo! Shigeo, we have to stop the bleeding, quickly!” Dimple cried out, frantically looking around for something to use, but there was nothing but rubble all around them, and there was no one anywhere near them. Mob squeezed his bleeding shoulder tightly, trying to apply pressure to the gaping wound, but it wasn’t working. The pain was white-hot and throbbing, and blood was still flowing. This wasn’t good at all…

 

“Come on, Shigeo! You have to try to stand up! You need to go to the hospital! You’re bleeding everywhere!” Dimple urged him. Mob tried to stand up, but it was no good, his legs wouldn’t support his weight, and he fell back on his knees. He'd let his power explode, and now he'd used up too much of it. His head was swimming. He winced as a particularly sharp pain shot through his shoulder. “Here, take off your jacket! We can try to tie it around your shoulder and make a tourniquet!” 

 

“I’ll try…” said Mob. But his uninjured hand was slippery with blood and he fumbled with the buttons. His injured arm hurt too badly to try and move. So, this was it...he met who he thought was a nice esper girl, just like him...and then she turned out to be part of a shady organization, stole his blood and then left him here. “I can’t do it, Dimple. Not with one hand…”

 

“Here!” Dimple helped him undo the buttons and carefully slid it off of him. It stuck to the wound and hurt terribly to take it off. Mob covered his mouth so he wouldn’t cry out too loud. Not that there was anyone nearby. “I know it hurts, but you have to hang in there, Shigeo!” Mob’s white shirt was battered and bloodstained, and blood continued to flow down his arm. Dimple tried to tie Mob’s jacket around his shoulder, but the fabric was too worn to stay put. “This is deep, Shigeo! We need to get you medical attention, quickly! You have to try and stand up! Force yourself!”

 

But it was no good. Mob couldn’t gather enough strength to stay standing. He collapsed back onto his knees.

 

“I don’t have enough strength left, Dimple...I can’t move…” Mob breathed, keeping pressure on the wound, not that it was doing much good. Now the situation was getting really desperate.

 

“You have to! You can't stay here!” Dimple protested.

 

“I know...Dimple, I need a favor. Can you possess my body and take me to Master Reigen? I don’t think I can make it on my own…” Mob asked.  

 

“What?! Reigen?! Why the hell do you want to go to him? You need to go to the hospital, not to him!”

 

“The hospital’s too far to walk to; I’m not going to make it there on my own. And there’s no cell phone service out here. Master Reigen is closer. He’ll know what to do. Please, Dimple…” Mob pleaded. Dimple sighed. But he was still very worried.

 

“Alright, fine, if that’s what you really want. But if you die because of something that idiot Reigen does, don’t come crying to me.” Dimple slid into Mob’s beaten body effortlessly. “You owe me one, Shigeo. I hope you know that.” 

 

“I know…”

 

*   *       *

 

“Damn it, Mob. You were supposed to be here two hours ago…” said Reigen, checking his watch. “What is that kid doing?”

 

“Maybe he lost track of time, or got caught up in his schoolwork?” said Serizawa, eating his noodles. “You should eat your ramen before it gets cold, Mr. Reigen.”

 

“Well, regardless, the least he could have done was call me and let me know.” said Reigen. But he couldn’t help being a little worried. Mob was never late for work, ever. And there were only three times he hadn’t shown up at all in the three years he’d worked there. Mob had a knack for attracting trouble...could something have happened to him? Reigen pulled out his phone and dialed Mob’s number. It went straight to voicemail. “Damn it. I can’t reach him.”

 

“I’m sure he’s ok. Maybe he’s in an area with no signal.” said Serizawa. “I’m sure he’ll call you back when he can.”

 

“I have no idea how you stay so positive, Serizawa.” said Reigen. “It blows my mind sometimes.”

 

“Sorry, Mr. Reigen, sir…”

 

“I’ll tell you what, though...if he doesn’t show up in the next ten minutes, all he’s getting are pickled beets.” said Reigen sternly. Serizawa cringed.  

 

The door to the office opened and both of them looked over. In stumbled a battered and heavily bloodstained Mob. He looked like something out of a horror movie. Reigen and Serizawa leapt up from their chairs.

 

“Oh my God, Mob! What the hell happened to you? You’re bleeding everywhere!” Reigen cried as they both rushed over to him. Dimple emerged from his body.

 

“He got in a fight. That esper girl stabbed him. Shigeo insisted on coming here. Reigen, you need to do something!” Dimple said.

 

“Serizawa, get me the First Aid kit!”

 

“I’m on it, Mr. Reigen!”

 

“Hang in there, kiddo, ok? We’re going to patch you up, so just hang on!” Reigen wrapped an arm around the very unsteady Mob, took off his suit jacket, draped it around Mob’s shoulders and led him to a chair. “Serizawa, I need bandages. ” He wrapped his hand in a handkerchief and dug the palm of his hand into the wound.

 

"What can I do, Reigen?" Dimple asked.

 

"Go get me some towels, this is soaked." Serizawa emerged with the First Aid Kit. 

 

"Here, Mr. Reigen! I think there's some bandages in here!"

 

"Hand them to me, and get some disinfectant out too." Dimple came back and Reigen swapped out the cloth, discarding the bloody one on the floor. 

 

"It really hurts, Master Reigen…" said Mob in a pained voice.

 

"I know it does. But you gotta bear with it for a bit while we take care of it, ok?" Reigen swabbed the wound with disinfectant that burned and stung. "I'm gonna take off your shirt so I can bandage you up." Mob nodded wordlessly. He was feeling lightheaded and his mind was torn between throbbing pain and numb disbelief from everything that had just happened. He had no energy left and his legs felt like water. Reigen finished bandaging him up, his own hands bloody.

 

"I feel sleepy, Master…" Mob said in a low voice. Reigen caught him as fell forward.

 

"Shigeo!"

 

"Mr. Reigen, is he ok?!"

 

"Yeah. He will be. He's probably tired and in shock. Let him rest for a while, he needs it." Reigen carried Mob to the couch and laid him on it. He draped his jacket over him carefully and watched to make sure he was still breathing. “We’ll keep an eye on him. If he gets any worse, we’ll call an ambulance. In the meantime,” Reigen turned to the other two, “we’re gonna need backup. Get Ritsu on the phone and tell him to bring a change of clothes.”

 

“I can do that.” Serizawa said, going to the phone quickly.

 

"Dimple, start explaining. What the hell happened? How did it come to this?" Reigen asked. 

 

"That esper girl--the one in his class--dragged him out to a park and tried to pitch her "cause" to him--"

 

"Cause? What cause?" asked Reigen sharply. 

 

"Don't interrupt me, I was getting there! Apparently her father wants to give normal people psychic power using the blood of natural espers; she said he was "leveling the playing field". His daughter's been donating blood to him to make it. Shigeo tried to tell her that she was wrong and she got angry. She said he was dangerous but useful, and then she stabbed him, took his blood and left him there! I have no idea where she went!" said Dimple. 

 

"You're right about that: none of that makes any sense at all. 'Leveling the playing field'? What's that mean?" said Reigen thoughtfully. 

 

"I have no idea. It's full of holes, though. She's been brainwashed into thinking it could actually work. Even Shigeo couldn't get through to her."  

 

"That says something if even Mob couldn't talk some sense into her. And look what happened." Reigen approached Mob and studied him closely. He was still fast asleep. Reigen gingerly moved his injured arm so he wouldn't lay on it and pushed back his hair to feel his forehead. "Serizawa, do me a favor and get a blanket and a cold cloth; he feels a little warm."

 

"Ok, sir. Ritsu said he was on his way, and that he was bringing reinforcements." Serizawa handed over the blanket and the cloth. Reigen covered him with the blanket and laid the cloth on his forehead. 

 

"You sure he's gonna be ok? It probably would have been better if we had taken him to the hospital, you know, in case you screwed up." said Dimple. Reigen ignored him.

 

The door to the office banged open for the second time that night. Ritsu flew in, Sho and Teru following after him. 

 

"Shige! Shige, are you ok?!" Ritsu cried, taking Mob's uninjured hand. Mob didn't respond. 

 

"He's gonna be ok. We patched him up. He's just sleeping at the moment." said Reigen. Ritsu still looked worried, taking in his brother's scratches and bruises, and the bandages around his shoulder and arm. 

 

"I was the one who told him not to worry about the vision he had. I told him it was probably nothing…" said Ritsu guiltily. "If I'd known this was gonna happen…"

 

"Don't blame yourself. You didn't know." said Serizawa. 

 

"Thank you...for looking after my brother…" Ritsu mumbled to the floor, avoiding Reigen's eyes. But Reigen was taken aback: Ritsu had never thanked him and sounded sincere about it. 

 

"You're welcome." was all he could answer.

 

"How did this all happen, anyway? All Ritsu told us was that we needed to hurry and it was urgent." Teru said. 

 

Dimple recounted the night's events again.

 

"Giving normal people psychic powers? Huh. That's pretty out there. My dad wanted to create an army so he could take over the world, but this sounds even more ridiculous than that." said Sho. 

 

"I agree. Most normal people couldn't handle receiving psychic powers; it wouldn't work well. Plus they're artificial; they use their powers until they run out, like a battery. Their reserves wouldn't be able to recharge because they don't have any. That's what separates Naturals versus what this madman is trying to do. But he's got his daughter strung along and blindly following him, and she sounds like a Natural,  like us." Teru said. 

 

"And he uses the blood of Naturals to somehow do all this? I didn't think it was possible for someone to do that." said Ritsu. 

 

"My dad gifted normal people powers, so I guess it is possible in some cases." Sho shrugged. "At any rate, it sounds like he's more comfortable risking other people's lives than his own for his so-called "noble cause". This guy's a joke."

 

"That girl must be powerful if she was able to injure Kageyama." said Teru. "We're definitely dealing with someone strong, and that's a problem."

 

"She's strong, yeah, but not that strong. She only managed to do that because Shigeo wouldn't fight back against her. He only really used his powers on her after she stabbed him, and it looked like he couldn't control it." said Dimple. 

 

At that moment, Mob stirred and slowly opened his eyes.

 

"Brother! Are you ok?!" Ritsu asked, visibly worried. Mob turned to him.

 

"Ritsu...? What are you doing here? And Sho and Hanazawa? When did you get here? How long was I asleep?" Mob asked. 

 

"Probably about an hour or so. How do you feel, Mob?" Reigen said. Mob tried to sit up, but his shoulder twinged sharply and he gasped in pain. The wound felt white-hot.

 

"Take it easy, Shige! You're hurt! Don't try to move yet!" said Ritsu. "Just stay still for a while!" 

 

"I-it's ok. I'm ok…" Mob slowly propped himself up into a seated position. He looked over at his master and Serizawa. "Thank you, Master Reigen. I'm sorry for all the trouble…"

 

"Don't apologize; you're never any trouble." said Reigen.

 

"I brought you a change of clothes, Serizawa said I should bring them." Ritsu dug them out of the bag he'd brought with him. 

 

"I gotta say, Kageyama, you've got a special talent for attracting trouble." said Teru. "It's unreal."

 

"What do you mean?" Mob asked, puzzled. 

 

"Well, like Claw. And evil spirits, and thugs, and…" Teru was ticking them off on his fingers, but stopped when he saw the lost look on Mob's face. "Y'know what, nevermind. Glad to see you're doing ok."

 

"Dimple told us everything: all about that crazy businessman, his daughter, their shady global business model, and the fight you got into." said Sho. "And I thought my family was crazy, this guy takes the cake. And his daughter's just as wacko as he is."

 

"It's not like that…" said Mob thoughtfully. "She's a good person, I know she is. She's a pawn in her father's game, that's all. He's just using her."

 

"A good person? She stabbed you for not agreeing with her, took your blood and left you there! You call that being a good person?" said Sho incredulously. But Mob made no sign. He sighed. "You're an interesting person, Older Brother. You know that?"

 

"I feel that...if she wanted to kill me, she could have. She had me completely restrained. I couldn't even use my power. If she'd wanted to kill me, she would have stabbed me in the heart. But she didn't…" said Mob slowly. 

 

"I mean, I guess you're right." Sho shrugged. "But we have bigger things to worry about now. Like what the hell we're all gonna do about this."

 

"Is this really our responsibility? This sounds like something better left to the police or the government to deal with." said Reigen quickly. "Think about it. Claw wasn't our responsibility either, and look what happened."

 

"Yeah, we saved the world and a giant vegetable sprang out of the ground." said Ritsu matter-of-factly. "What's your point?"

 

"Hey, no need to get short! I'm just being honest! All we know are their goals and the two frontrunners. We have no idea how many reinforcements they have, or how powerful they are. Hell, we don't even know where their headquarters are. We have nothing to go on. Plus, Mob is injured and definitely shouldn't be charging off into a battle, you know?" said Reigen.  

 

"For once, I agree with you, Reigen." said Dimple. "We just don't have enough information."

 

"Hmmm...I might know of a way to fix that." said Sho. Everyone looked at him.

 

"You do?"

 

"Yeah. I kept in contact with some former Claw members after my dad got taken in. I wonder if they'd be willing to help us investigate this. They do owe us one anyway. Should I call them up?" said Sho. They all exchanged looks. 

 

"I guess it couldn't hurt to try. But who are you going to ask?" asked Ritsu. Sho didn't answer him right away, too absorbed in texting whoever to reply immediately. When he finished (it took several minutes), he looked back up. 

 

"I sent word out to Koyama, Sakurai and Shimazaki. I briefly told them what happened to you, Older Brother, and all about this plot. I asked them if they could pick out a high concentration of psychic energy in this area. If they can pick that out, then we may be able to find where they're hiding out. That is, assuming they don't mind doing us a favor." Sho said. It didn't take very long before Sho's phone went off multiple times in rapid succession. 

 

"Wow! That was fast!" Teru remarked.

 

"Holy crap! 12 messages!" Sho said, shocked. "I didn't think they'd be able to find something this fast!" He scrolled through and laughed. "This is pretty funny...I got messages from all three of them. They all asked me if you were ok, Older Brother!" Mob turned pink. "Hang on...here's something. Shimazaki says he picked up a higher-than-normal concentration of psychic energy about three miles from here. He said he wasn't sure what exactly it was, but he did send me the coordinates. It's worth looking into." 

 

"So, I guess we are taking responsibility for this?" Reigen said, looking around. 

 

"After what happened to Shige, this needs to be stopped. Permanently. Plus, the world doesn't need another Claw. And if we don't stop them, who will?" said Ritsu. Reigen looked like he wanted to say something, but Ritsu shot him a dirty look. 

 

"That's settled then, I guess. Dangerous espers, a madman, an ignorant pawn...what are we waiting for?" said Teru, a glint in his eyes.