My Cute Kohai is Actually My Archnemesis?!
The wind was deafening as Hoshi ran and jumped across rooftops. His vision was filled with imposed images of his own future jumps and he dutifully followed what he could so he could make it in time. Down below, red and blue lights flashed frenetically. Hoshi was barely outpacing them only because he had a straight path to the burning orphanage.
Making it to the last rooftop, Hoshi rolled to bleed off his momentum and skidded to the edge of the roof. What he saw as he peered over the edge was mind-boggling and filled him with relief. While the crowd gathered and dispersed on their interest in the disaster, Hoshi could see DC Two dutifully filming the scene, with an actual reporter van just turning the corner.
Hoshi made his way down as fast as he could. The crowd began to part as they realized who he was, but he paid them no mind. His only goal was making it to DC Two. “Hey!” Hoshi called out, startling the crew. The camera turned on him, but he ignored it. “How long has it been since this happened?”
“T-twenty minutes!” one of them stammered. “Flare flew in ten minutes ago and she got this kid out!“ Hoshi looked to where they pointed and saw the child Flare had been cradling on TV. She seemed to be faring much better than Hoshi thought she would, and he crouched down.
“Hey there,” he said. “Is Flare still in there?”
The kid hummed tearily. “S-she saved me,” she whispered. “Please don’t hurt her.”
Hoshi couldn’t help but smile at her earnestness. “I’ll try not to, little one. She’s a hero right now.”
The child widened her eyes and nodded. “Th-that’s right! She’s a hero—!”
Just then, the fire billowing out of the burning hallway roared blue. Hoshi instinctively moved to cover the kid, but didn’t feel any heat. “Sh-she covered me in blue like that!” she cried. “They’re safe!”
“Safe, huh,” muttered Hoshi. “Be good, okay?” He patted her head before running towards the building. The now-blue flames continued to lick out, and he made to defend himself from the heat, but it was as the kid said. The flames seemed safe. Suddenly, he heard shuffling from within and squinted his eyes to see a group of kids that were covered in soot, and filled with looks of wonder. They spotted Hoshi and ran towards him.
“I-it’s the hero, Check!”
Hoshi crouched down and hugged them back as they crashed into him. “Hey, kiddos,” said Hoshi as he pulled away, “Are you alright?”
They nodded dutifully. One of them then piped up, saying, “Miss Flare stopped the fire from hurting. Look!”
Hoshi could clearly see those same flames that now curled around them reaching at his own being and watched as they wisped away harmlessly. “So it would seem,” he said. Behind him, he heard sirens cut off and doors open. He looked each of the kids in the eye. “Alright, kids! There’s people in blue behind me who will help you. You’ll be safe with them, alright?”
“You’ll help Miss Flare, right, Check?”
“She helped us! Please save her too!”
“Stop the bad guys with her!”
Patting their heads, Hoshi nodded. “I will. Now, go!” Hoshi watched as they scattered around him and ran towards the police and firemen. They were now rushing around, setting up to put the fire out, and Hoshi frowned. “I need to warn her,” he whispered. Hoshi then turned back to the building and rushed in.
“Flare!” he yelled. “Flare! Kids! Anyone!”
Faintly, he could hear some shouting at the end of the hall. As Hoshi made his way to the noise, people, older and younger rushed past him. They barely spared him a glance, though some of their gazes lingered on his recognizable form. He moved closer and saw a kid saying something earnestly before an adult herded them out and nodded at someone in the room. They then turned only to face Hoshi.
“What’s going on?” asked Hoshi gently. “Is Flare in there?”
“Y-yeah,” the man said. “She knocked out those guys with guns. They had protective suits and everything, too.”
“Okay, thank you,” Hoshi said gratefully. “Please get out safely.” The man nodded and followed the last kid out.
Quiet as he could be, Hoshi snuck to the doorway and waited as he heard Flare screaming at whoever had attacked the orphanage. He could make out words about stealing from the orphanage, and Flare’s outrage. He strained his ears to hear Flare ask them about who sent them, and he peeked in. Hoshi could then hear Flare muttering something when his vision flashed with images of her crashing through a wall.
There wasn’t anything he could do now. He braced himself and heard the gush of pressurized water slam into Flare and punch her through the wall. Hoshi winced as the torrent moved from her and flooded the room itself, dousing the blue flames. The water started reaching him, but his only focus was on the prone form of Flare.
Hoshi splashed his way over to her as he avoided the rushing water. “Flare!” he yelled, “Are you alright, Flare?”
This was the first time Hoshi had gotten a good look at Flare. Without the flames and the ever-present snarl, she actually looked like a nice person. Pursing his lips, he dropped onto his knees and held Flare’s head. “Hey,” Hoshi said, patting her face gently. “Flare. Flare!”
Her eyes shot open and Hoshi recoiled as he saw her swipe at him. He avoided the strike, but he couldn’t avoid the blade of blue fire that burned him. “Ouch!” he cried. “Flare! Relax!”
Flare looked rabid. Her eyes were darting around crazily as she tensed and untensed. Frowning, Hoshi saw her focusing on him before she snarled in recognition. “Check,” she hissed. She made to get up but collapsed under her own weight, and groaned in pain. “What—“
“You were hit by a stream of water,” Hoshi explained. “The firemen are putting out the building right now.”
He watched as she touched her side and whimpered. “W-well?” she gasped. “What are you waiting for, heh, hero? Arrest me.”
“Sure,” Hoshi said, making his way towards her. He grabbed her arm. “But only after you make your escape.” Hoshi then threw her arm around himself and Flare turned to him in confusion.
He grinned at her. “I can’t very well turn in a fellow hero, right?” He looked towards the gaping entrance, and then turned to the farther fire escape in the back. Hoshi made his decision and began to hobble with Flare. She could only look at him incredulously, before looking at the burn she had given him.
“Oh, uh…” She frowned. “Sorry about that, then.”
Hoshi chuckled. “If anything, I should be honoured since this is the first burn I got from you, and it wasn’t because we were fighting.”
Flare seemed to tense before sagging under her own weight. “I, uh, generally don’t let people get close to me. Or touch me.”
Hoshi nodded. “Yeah. I understand.” Behind him, he could hear authorities yelling, and he pushed the fire escape. “But hey, if anyone asks, I gave you the beatdown of a lifetime, eh?”
Flare snorted tiredly. “I would give you a run for your money, hero.”
“Are you talking to yourself?” Hoshi asked. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s two heroes here right now.”
“I’m no hero,” Flare whispered. “Everyone knows that.”
Hoshi walked her to the other side of the dumpster and set her down against the wall. “You saved those kids, those people. That’s pretty heroic.”
She shook her head and sighed, wincing as she adjusted herself. “Those kids’ first reaction was to look at me in terror. No hero can boast something like that.”
“I guess not, huh,” Hoshi whispered. “You were pretty scary for a second there.”
“You saw that, then.” Flare’s features hardened. For a moment, it seemed like she would tell him what they had been talking about, but she just stared at nothing with growing rage. “So?” she finally asked, flicking her eyes at him. “Are we going to fight, now?”
“Now why would I do that?” Hoshi asked. He turned and hid his smile as he saw her astonished look. “When I rushed into the building, I saw no trace of the villain, Flare. In fact, it seemed as if she’d vanished into thin air. That’s strange, isn’t it?”
“What are you…”
“Well, stay safe, random citizen.” He began walking away and waved. “Take care of those injuries so that next time, we meet as equals, eh?”
Hoshi knew he might come to regret it later, but he trusted his own instincts. After all, with such a heroic feat, Hoshi figured everyone might begin to see what he saw in Flare. And if he found himself up against her, then he would take her down.
Turning the corner, he faced the crowds and put on a tired smile.