“Are you alright?” Serizawa calls as he half-jogs over to Reigen. “She hit you pretty hard.”
They were trying to get rid of a powerful spirit, this ghost of a jilted lover that was keeping people up at night with her screaming. She was proving to be pretty tough to handle, though. Serizawa was worried she was gonna knock the building down. When Reigen was going to grab his phone to call Mob as a last resort, she threw something at him, and knocked him into a wall. And then, to make matters worse, she just kind of… disappeared.
Reigen is sitting up now, which is a good sign. He rubs at his throat, his voice rougher than usual when he says, “Yeah, she got me pretty good. Nothing broken, though.”
“Well, that’s good,” Serizawa says. He reaches out a hand to help Reigen up. Reigen looks from Serizawa to his hand and back, before letting go of his throat to allow himself to be helped up. Which is when Serizawa sees the curse.
Physical manifestations of curses are difficult to describe, because you’re not really supposed to see them. Serizawa thinks there’s a kind of reason for that, like ghosts or psychics don’t put thought into the form of their curses, so you’re trying to see something that doesn’t really exist. Like trying to see something just out of your range of vision. Or something. The point is, Serizawa “sees” the curse, but he couldn’t explain what that means. It’s pretty cool, if you think about it. Reigen has stopped asking because he “doesn’t like that metaphysical stuff”.
“I think the ghost put a curse on you,” Serizawa says, simply, tapping his own throat.
Reigen frowns, annoyed. “That makes sense. Can you take care of it?”
“Oh, sure. Excuse me,” Serizawa says, closing some of the distance between them. Serizawa prefers physical contact with exorcisms, even if it makes it more awkward when working with actual people. Like right now. Serizawa places his hand around Reigen’s throat, careful not to apply much physical pressure. Reigen is a little too warm, and his pulse is rabbit-quick - which are both normal, in Serizawa’s experience. Serizawa furrows his brow, focusing on reaching out.
When he does, he finds nothing.
“That’s strange,” Serizawa says, “I can’t seem to get a hold on it.”
Reigen hmm s, and Serizawa can feel the noise in his throat. He really should stop touching him. Reigen says, “Man, you have really big hands.”
Serizawa raises his eyebrows. “Thank you?”
Reigen is sweating now, laughing nervously, wringing his hands. “That, hm. I didn’t mean to say that! I think, you know, the curse is doing something to me.”
“Making you say things,” Serizawa offers, taking his hand off Reigen’s throat and letting it fall to his side. He makes a point of not wiping his hand on his pants.
“Mm, yeah, that’ll happen.” Dimple says, as he lazily floats down from the ceiling. Serizawa thinks he hears Reigen say oh thank god , “Curses do all kinds of weird shit.”
“Dimple!” Reigen says, clapping his hands in front of him, “You can take care of this, right?”
“No can do,” Dimple says. “Curses can be pretty sticky, depending on the spirit. That one won’t go away without an exorcism."
Reigen’s face is pretty red. He’s not really saying anything coherent , so Serizawa says, “Well, can you tell us what it does, at least?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Dimple says, grinning. “It makes you tell the truth.”
Reigen is a very private person. Serizawa isn’t sure if Reigen realizes how little of himself he shows to people, if he’s so used to the performance he barely registers the distance he creates.
So Serizawa understands why this would bother him. Serizawa is still trying to figure out how he feels about this, himself. Or if he should feel anything about it - if it has anything to do with him.
Reigen is pacing in front of his desk, something Serizawa has never seen him do. Like he’s so flustered he has to use his whole body to show it. Serizawa kind of feels like Reigen’s sucking up all the energy in the room to fuel his freak out, and thinks he should probably say something at some point. Whether this involves him or not.
“Reigen,” Serizawa says gently, the way you’d talk to a cornered animal, “Aren’t you overreacting, a little?”
“I can’t do this job without being able to lie,” Reigen says. He runs a hand through his hair. “God, that’s horrible. I haven’t learned anything, have I?”
Serizawa wants to ask about that. Very badly, actually. There’s obviously something there - a promise made, or some kind of new resolve. You don’t take a job like this if you have some kind of complex about lying. (Right?) Something about knowing Reigen won’t be choosing to tell him feels awful, though, especially in the face of whatever storm is brewing inside him. Instead of prying, Serizawa says, “I don’t believe that. But I can handle things here tomorrow, if that would help. That spirit’s not the type to lie low - that was the problem, wasn’t it? So I’m sure this won’t be permanent.”
“Tomorrow?” Reigen says, and checks his watch, face falling as he does. Serizawa wasn’t sure it could fall more, but there you go. “You should be in class.”
Serizawa shrugs. “I’ll get the notes from someone. I didn’t want to just… Leave you to deal with this.”
Reigen purses his lips, thinking. Slowly, like he’s feeling out the words, he says, “You’re a really good person, Serizawa.”
“Oh,” Serizawa says. “Thank you?”
“Yeah,” Reigen says, turning away. He clears his throat, straightens his tie. His hair sticks up a bit in places, but Serizawa doesn’t know if he should comment on it. The urge to fix Reigen’s hair himself is definitely inappropriate, Serizawa knows.
In the end, they close up early, Reigen leaving an extra note on the closed sign in his neat, bubbly handwriting. They didn’t have any more clients lined up for the evening anyway, just walk-ins. Any sudden stiff shoulders or cursed items can wait until tomorrow.
“See you tomorrow, Reigen.” Serizawa says, trying to keep his tone light. “Try to get some rest. I’m sure the curse will be sorted out soon.”
“That would be nice,” Reigen says as he locks the door, sounding tired. He frowns, seemingly fighting against his new ghost-induced impulse. “Sorry. I mean... I appreciate the thought.”
Serizawa is getting used to comforting people. Not just customers, but friends from school, Tome, Shigeo . Not Reigen, though, even if they are becoming what one may call friends. Doing so feels strange, tentative. It’s like Reigen doesn’t like it, almost. Doesn’t know what to do with it. Serizawa isn’t sure how else to help.
After parting ways at the office (Reigen went in the opposite direction from the station, “to buy smokes”, but Serizawa thinks he just wanted to be alone), Serizawa just goes home. He knows himself well enough these days to know he’s not worried about the ghost hurting anyone, doesn’t even feel bad about that. He can’t stop thinking about Reigen’s face - panicked, almost helpless.
Serizawa takes a deep breath as he sits on his bed, looking around his apartment. Reigen had helped Serizawa apartment hunt, initially. He couldn’t stay in the place Claw provided for him, after all, and he couldn’t go home.
(He remembers Reigen saying that, when he offered Serizawa the job. You can’t just go home. He’d been so sure of it even Serizawa had believed him.)
At the time, Reigen had scrawled his address and phone number on the back of a business card “for emergencies.” Serizawa hadn’t known what kind of emergency would necessitate going to Reigen’s house . (Drinks, usually, or that one time Reigen had tried to get him to watch the original Godzilla and fell asleep halfway through.)
Serizawa does believe Reigen that helps people. Not in the ways he claims, sure, but his heart usually leads him to the right place. So why doesn’t he let anyone help him in return?