Chapter 19:

The Villain At Rest

My Cute Kohai is Actually My Archnemesis?!

Reyna growled at Reiko and as she giggled incessantly. Pouting hard, Reyna flopped onto Reiko’s couch and turned her head away. “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”Bookmark here

Reiko’s giggle turned into full blown laughter. “Honestly, Reyna. You sound like a kid who didn’t get their cookie.”Bookmark here

“I came here to relax, Reiko,” said Reyna. She stretched out on the couch, grabbed one of its throw pillows and hugged it. “I just want to take my mind off of my new job for a bit, coworker and all. Can’t you give me that?”Bookmark here

Reyna watched as Reiko sat on the other end of the couch and shrugged. “It’s not my fault Hoshi called me. It seemed like he needed something. I’ll probably call him back later.”Bookmark here

Reyna had noticed it before, but Reiko called Hoshi by his name. Quirking an eyebrow, Reyna asked, “Okay, hold on. Why do you call Michiaki by his given name?”Bookmark here

“He and I are friends, aren’t we?” asked Reiko. “Of course I would call Hoshi by his name. It’s that simple.”Bookmark here

“I mean, that’s true…” Reyna shook her head. “But by that logic, I should be calling Michiaki by his first name too.”Bookmark here

The look on Reiko’s face grew sharkish. “So…why don’t you?”Bookmark here

Reyna blinked at Reiko. “Huh?”Bookmark here

“Why don’t you call Hoshi, Hoshi?” Reiko wiggled her eyebrows. “I know you think he’s cute—mmph!” Her voice was suddenly muffled by the sound of a pillow hitting her face. Reyna’s face had turned red and she tried to grab the pillow to throw it again. Sadly, her efforts were wasted when a grinning Reiko pulled it from her grasp. “Sorry, Reyna, but you lose here. I’m just teasing you, you know.”Bookmark here

Reyna groaned and shoved her face into the couch cushion. “I know! Ugh!” Reyna’s voice was muffled as she began to whine. It’s still frustrating though. And Michiaki is infuriating! He’s the worst teacher ever!”Bookmark here

While Reyna complained, Reiko had begun combing Reyna’s hair with her hand. The effect was visible, as Reyna quickly calmed down. She then turned and shifted so that her head was against Reiko’s side as she looked up at the ceiling. “I can’t stand him, Reiko.”Bookmark here

Reiko hummed. “I’m sensing a ‘but’ here.”Bookmark here

“But he gets things done.” Reyna nodded. “He knows what he’s doing. I learned more watching him than listening to him.”Bookmark here

“Yeah. Hoshi’s like that.” Reiko smiled. “I had another friend just like him, you know. She knew a lot. The smartest of us three, I would say. But she didn’t really know how to express that. Heck, I was there for most of it and even I can’t really explain it.” Reiko frowned at that. “Actually, that doesn’t really work. What was I trying to say, again?”Bookmark here

Reyna stared at Reiko for a moment as the latter puzzled her way through her thoughts and began to giggle. That giggle quickly turned into a good long laugh. “Thanks, Reiko,” said Reyna as she sat up. “That was helpful. I feel better, now.”Bookmark here

“Hrm?” Reiko looked at her with slight confusion. “Oh, you’re thanking me? What for?”Bookmark here

Smiling wryly at that, Reyna shook her head. “Nothing, Reiko. It’s nothing. I was just thinking as well about how I don’t hang out enough with you.”Bookmark here

Reiko’s eyes sparkled determinedly at Reyna’s statement. “You really don’t! As if we could actually call each other best friends with this attitude. You better hang out with me at least every other day, Reyna!”Bookmark here

“Okay, okay!” Reyna acquiesced to Reiko’s demand with a nod and hands raised. “I’ll find more time!”Bookmark here

“Good!” exclaimed Reiko. “This also means we get to talk about boys and stuff too, so be prepared!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah, alright—Wait, no!”Bookmark here

The friendly bantering between them continued, and Reyna was all the more grateful for it. After the morning she had and the long day afterwards, Reyna needed everything she could get to take her mind off of it all. Her first thought after that conclusion was to drop by Reiko’s place, because she knew she could find refuge there, and she was right.Bookmark here

Disregarding all the teasing and the jokes at her expense (Reyna honestly didn’t expect anything less from Reiko), she was the only friend Reyna really trusted; Or, in other words, Reiko was the only real friend Reyna had. And she would never give it up for anything. Especially not when she had so little to her name in the first place.Bookmark here

The night wore on, and Reyna watched in fascination as Reiko prepared dinner for two. In liquid-like movement, Reiko wielded her knife with precision and agility that was unmatched. It almost looked like it didn’t even move at all before the ingredients Reiko used were sliced into pieces. When she brought the meal out, Reyna could only gawk at how fast it had all happened, and silently wondered if Reiko had Power for cooking.”Bookmark here

“If you’re wondering if I have some cooking power, you’re wrong,” said Reiko after a bite. “I’ve just had a lot of practice. It comes with using blades for a living!”Bookmark here

Could she read minds too?! Reyna thought incredulously.Bookmark here

Another bite, and Reiko giggled. “No, I can’t read your mind. It’s written all over your face, Reyna.”Bookmark here

Reyna puffed her reddening cheeks full with food and looked away. “Hmph.”Bookmark here

She heard Reiko snorting with laughter and couldn’t help but join her. “You’re really cute when you do that, you know,” Reiko said. “Don’t do that in front of Hoshi, eh? If you’re not careful, he’ll think you’re cute too!”Bookmark here

“He already says I’m cute,” grumbled Reyna. “Out loud. In public.” Reyna stabbed with her chopsticks and took an aggressive bite. “It’s humiliating!”Bookmark here

“I guess,” Reiko said, “But you have to admit: Hoshi doesn’t mind telling the truth. Honesty is his greatest virtue, and his greatest weakness.”Bookmark here

Reyna thought about that for a moment. It was true, of course. He said whatever came to mind almost without thought of the consequences doing so might have. But, if anything, Reyna appreciated it. For so long, the people around her always wore masks. Always approached her with something or other until their true colours were revealed. Having someone like Reiko as a friend was the first time she really knew what an honest person was, and Hoshi was the second.Bookmark here

Was Rina being honest too? Was she really just a victim in all this, just a piece in a larger puzzle? And did Reyna have any right to complain about honesty, when the person who sat across from Reiko was a mask herself? When, at times, Flare was more real than Reyna?Bookmark here

Reyna barely registered her finished plate being taken as she continued to think. She needed to be careful. She knew that one misstep could hurt her, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And if she didn’t do it right, she would misplace the trust Check had placed in her: The first person to see Flare as something more than a villain. Reyna frowned.Bookmark here

“I need help…” Reyna realized. “I need someone who I can trust…”Bookmark here

Reyna’s gaze turned to the humming Reiko putting dishes away, and stared at her. “But do I trust her…?”Bookmark here

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