Chapter 18:

The Hero Walks Home

My Cute Kohai is Actually My Archnemesis?!

Hoshi counted the cracks in the ground as he walked home. It had been a long day after their interview in the morning. He and Reyna had actually gone out one more time just to cool off after working for so long in their desks, and Hoshi explained a few more ins and outs of being a Danger Crew member.

Beside Hoshi walked a jolly Perry. His house was on the way to Hoshi’s home, so they often walked together after work. “So, Hoshi,” began Perry, “How’s the new hire? It feels like I haven’t talked to you in ages!”

Hoshi snorted. “It’s only been a day, Perry. We’ve said hi to each other at the office.”

“That doesn’t count, you know.” Perry kicked a rock and watched it roll off. “We’re barely in the office as it is. It’s why we have the smallest section of any floor in the building to ourselves.”

The rock stopped and Hoshi moved to kick it as well. “You’re not wrong, I guess.” Hoshi then sighed with a wry smile. “Hikaru’s a funny girl, I’ll tell you that much. Like a capable, toned-down Ayakasa.”

Perry choked on air and nearly tripped. “That’s a big compliment coming from you!”

“Right?” Hoshi chuckled. “Seriously. At least Hikaru knows what she’s doing and doesn’t mind jumping the gun a bit. I will admit, she definitely knows how to talk back, but she brings up a lot of valid points.” Hoshi turned his attention to the sky and watched a cloud slowly dissipate. “I’m a pretty bad teacher, huh?”

Perry laughed. “I’ve heard you’re the worst!” He clapped Hoshi on the back. “That doesn’t mean you’re a bad guy, though. Just look at Hikaru. She’s managed to tolerate you for a whole day so far.”

“Don’t say that as if it’s something to be proud of,” groaned Hoshi. “And today has given me something to think of about what it means to be a bad guy…”

Hoshi already knew that not everyone who did bad things was a terrible person. The person they had met today, Rina, was a perfect example of that. In fact, she hadn’t even known what she was doing; Only that she was getting paid. It was much better than what Hoshi could honestly say for himself. If there were people like that, regardless of their position within a gang or group, then Hoshi would need to tread cautiously. He couldn’t go around willy-nilly beating people up. Not like he did that anyway.

“Oh?” Perry asked, curiosity spilling from his eyes. “Was that interview you had this morning really all that interesting? I heard Barry muttering something about it.”

Hoshi nodded. “It was something, alright. Hikaru was a natural. I barely had to say anything. But the person we talked to…” He thought of the tears that Rina spilled and the desperation he had heard in her voice. “She was just a victim. A discarded piece of the puzzle.”

They both came to a slow as Perry stepped up to his apartment complex. “Huh. No wonder you both seemed a little off.” Perry hummed. “Somehow, you always get the interesting stories.”

“All it takes is a little initiative, Perry,” said Hoshi with a grin. “Something you don’t seem to have.”

Perry laughed and fixed him with a mirthful glare. “I’m not out here trying to find ways to die, Hoshi. I just want to move up the ranks and get a spot in the A-Teams.”

They both chuckled for a moment longer before saying their goodbyes. That left Hoshi to walk the rest of the way home in deep thought. Mostly, he wondered about how he would go about investigating the Moon Ravens. Of course, he could learn a lot just by walking the streets at night, and probably even more from the thugs and villains he might encounter…But he would have to tread carefully. There was a lot that could go wrong. There always was. But if the Moon Ravens had no qualms about endangering innocent people…

The grip Hoshi had on his bag tightened. If he was going to do this, he was going to need some help. That meant looking for someone he could trust to keep information under lockdown. Luckily, he already knew someone like that, and she was only a call away. As Hoshi got to his apartment building and made his way up the stairs, he scrolled through his recents and pressed on a name.

The first call went to voicemail, leaving Hoshi to shake his head. Of course she wouldn’t answer right away. Calling her again, she picked up after the second ring, and Hoshi sighed in relief. “Yo!” their chipper voice shouted. “Reiko Miyamura here!”

Hoshi groaned. “Miyamura. Could you please pick up your phone once in a while?”

“I did! I’m talking to you now, aren’t it?”

Hoshi fumbled for his keys and put his phone to his ear. “I mean, when someone calls you the first time, could you please pick up—?“

Reiko interrupted him. “Do I seriously have to remind you every time, too? Just call me Reiko!”

Honestly, the only reason Hoshi still didn’t call her that regularly was out of spite. If anything, he wanted to call Reiko by her first name. He just didn’t want to give her anymore power over him.

It wasn’t like he was afraid of her or anything. Of course not!

The door to Hoshi’s place swung open and he stepped in. “Sorry, sorry! I’ll call you Reiko for now!”

He heard a sigh on the other end before a giggle. “Well, I guess that’ll have to do. What can I do for you, Hoshi? Usually, it’s me who calls. Must be something important. Is it something important? Does it have to do with Reyna? How’s your relationship with her? How is she—?”

“Hey, hey! Give a guy a break!” Hoshi cried. “One question at a time. Sheesh.”

Hoshi then heard Reiko giggle and someone else shout as rustling and yelling filtered through the phone speaker. Frowning in surprise, Hoshi held the phone away and stared at it. “Uh, Reiko?”

“Sorry,” said Reiko breathlessly. Hoshi could practically hear the smugness in her voice. “I have Reyna over. She tried to steal the phone from me. As if that would happen!”

Suddenly, Hoshi felt his face get really hot and he shook his head. “You know what. I’ll just call you later.”

“Sure. Hey, Reyna, say bye to your new boyfriend~!”

Hoshi hung up and threw his phone on the table as he slumped into a chair. “I need a drink,” Hoshi muttered.