Chapter 7:

The Villain Saves The Day (Part 1)

My Cute Kohai is Actually My Archnemesis?!

The door to a small apartment opened and closed with a noisy creak. A tired figure sighed as she took her flats off and hobbled into her living room. The bean bag in the corner called Reyna’s name, and she gratefully collapsed into its sinking mass with a sigh. “What a day,” she muttered. “Was it even worth it…?”

Reyna glanced at the duffel bag in the corner. She had left it behind on her way to the Globe, and now it seemed to taunt her with its presence. The fact it was even out of its hiding place was cause for her to groan and feel every bruise she had sustained since the morning. “Definitely not worth it,” she whined. Being sore all over was its own kind of torture, and her morning vendetta to get some money now seemed petty compared to the rest of her day.

Reyna rolled over and splayed out. Staring at the ceiling, she kept running the day over and over again, grimacing every time she thought of her rough morning. Of becoming her “villainous” self again. She smiled as she thought of her new job, and resolved to treat Reiko out when she had the time and money to spend. First, she had to focus on her new job and the fact that it wasn’t dangerous at all for someone like her, but Hoshi wouldn’t know that.

Speaking of, Reyna’s thoughts turned to his conflicting character. At times, he was rude and sarcastic, and at others he was timid and jumpy. And then there was him protecting her… Reyna hadn’t seen him as the type that would put others before himself, but she had quickly been proven wrong. Twice, Hoshi had pulled Reyna out of harm’s way, and twice, her only thoughts were to lash out at him. Reyna’s heart sunk as she thought of how she not only nearly exposed her powers in public, but of how she almost hurt Hoshi, who was just trying to help.

Even now, she could feel his surprisingly firm chest…

Face suddenly red hot and steam rising from her head, Reyna squealed and shook her head. “No, no, no! I did not just think that!” she yelled, and grabbed her remote. Aimed aggressively at the TV, Reyna turned it on and dialed the volume as high as it could go before running into her room to change. After those embarrassing thoughts, the only thing on her mind was a nice cool bath and sleep.

As she hurriedly stripped, however, she heard something from the TV that chilled her to the bone. Rushing out half-naked into the living room, she balked at the scene playing on the TV. “Here we are at the orphanage on 6th and 16th, and we heard an explosion coming from within! As of right now, a few children and caretakers have made it out but a majority are now trapped by the flames that are pouring from the shattered windows. First responders have already been…”

The sound of a zipper breaking and the rustling clothes preceded the loud bang of a door opening and closing shut. Reyna had reflexively thrown her costume on and, before she knew it, she was blazing through the twilight sky towards the tower of smoke that now marred the city skyline. And she couldn’t have cared less if people saw her now.

There was only one thing on Reyna’s mind, and that was saving as many of her little friends as she could. Vaguely, Reyna could hear someone screaming names that she recognized, and only later would she realize that it had been her calling for them. She then flew straight into the building and came to a stop in the center of the main hallway. The flames that now licked up its walls and ate the floor around her barely tickled, and she barged into nearest playroom first. “Hello?!” she screamed. “Is anyone in here?!”

Not risking anything, Reyna ran to the wardrobe in the room and threw it open. Immediately, she crouched down and tried to cover the coughing child that hid within. Gritting her teeth in frustration, she wondered how she would be able to get her out. “H-hey,” Reyna exclaimed over the crackling and crumbling room, “Are you okay?”

The child uncurled for just a moment and nodded, before their eyes widened. Reyna choked back a gasp as she recognized her: Linna, a child who would always be the first to come greet her when she visited. Suddenly, her resolved steeled and she grabbed Linna. “I-I’m going to get you out of here, okay?” Reyna said, reaching her hands out. “You have to trust me, alright?”

Linna whined and shook her head, trying to crawl into the corner of the wardrobe. “N-nuh uh! Y-you’re F-Flare, you’re evil!”

Those words stung Reyna more than she realized, and she nodded. “Y-yeah, I’m Flare! But right now, I’m a hero, because I’m trying to help you. Um—“ Glass shattered behind Reyna and Linna screamed. “Hey! It’s okay! Just look at me. What’s your name? Can you tell me your name?”

For just a moment, Linna seemed to recoil, before she whispered, “L-Linna. I’m Linna.”

Now assured that she could use Linna’s name, Reyna quickly said, “Okay, Linna. Let’s get you out of here. It’s dangerous, see? There’s fire everywhere. But I can get you out!”

“Y-you’re on fire too, F-Flare,” Linna said.

Flare smiled weakly. This was her first time trying to use her power like this, and she didn’t know if it would work, but she had to try. Still emitting her flames, she threw her mind into hell as she focused on making her flames harmless and let herself blaze brighter than the fire around her. “Yeah, but my flames are safe! See?” She pressed her palm on the wall and prayed that what she had been trying recently would work. Almost miraculously, the wall extinguished itself, bursting into blue before leaving a lone scorched spot now devoid of red and yellow fire.

In that moment, Reyna nearly cried. But it was just for a moment, and Reyna knew she would need every iota of mental energy she could muster to keep up the alternative use of her power.

“Woah,” Linna muttered in amazement. As if curious, Linna reached her hand out to Reyna and gasped when the flames danced across her skin—and didn’t do anything. Reyna sighed in immense relief when Linna succumbed to her grasp, and she held her close. The blue of Reyna’s fire encircled them both, and Reyna herself wondered at how it was all working, but it was a question for another time.

“Th-thank you, Miss Flare…”

“Thank me when all your friends are safe, Linna,” Reyna said, and she threw herself into overdrive. “Let’s get you out of here.”