Chapter 20:

The Hero Phones A Friend

My Cute Kohai is Actually My Archnemesis?!

The TV buzzed quietly as Hoshi watched the clock. While he had told Reiko that he would call her back, he knew it was only a matter of time before she called him. In the meantime, he lounged on his lone comfy chair and flicked his eyes between the news on the TV and updates on his phone. He knew it probably wasn’t healthy being so absorbed in the present, but when one could see the immediate future around them, it was more important than ever to know what was happening in the present. Anywhere in the city, at the same time he sat on his couch, something could be happening. He needed to always be ready.

That’s not to say that he didn’t relax like the next person, but he just had less time to do so. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. Time to think meant time that he could use to recover, or to help others. He honestly didn’t want to think about it at all, because to Hoshi, time was a precious resource, and as far as he knew, time couldn’t be returned. Every moment counted.

Which was why Hoshi was relieved to finally see Reiko’s caller ID pop up. “Hey, hey!” Reiko’s voice greeted. “How’s it going, Hoshi?”

“Not bad, Reiko. Not bad at all.” said Hoshi.

“Hey, you remembered my name this time!”

Hoshi sighed. “I’ve always remembered your name, Reiko. I just didn’t want to repeat our conversation earlier.”

He heard Reiko hum across the line. “Good! Let my persistence be a lesson to you!”

“It’s more of a bane than a boon, but that’s beside the point.” Hoshi leaned further back into his chair and asked, “Is Hikaru still there?”

“She’s passed out in my room right now, actually. Want to go say hi?”

Hoshi immediately shook his head and cried, “No! No. Let her sleep. I’m sure she needs it. Today was pretty stressful for her.”

“Well, I can’t argue there,” Reiko agreed. “She has a lot on her mind, you know. She shared some of it with me, and phew! Gotta say, it’s not easy listening to that kind of stuff again.”

“Again?” Hoshi asked with concern. “What do you mean again?”

“Well, some stuff went down back when I was in high school. Weird stuff.” He heard Reiko sigh. “It isn’t really relevant, but I know what it’s like when times are rough and bad memories are brought back.”

After a moment of silence, Hoshi realized in shock that Reiko was reminiscing. He didn’t really know much about Reiko’s past, but he knew it was a place she viewed with fondness and love. To hear such a melancholic tone from the happy-go-lucky Reiko…

“You alright, Reiko?” asked Hoshi softly. “You were really quiet there. I think the connection died for a minute.”

That seemed to jolt Reiko into saying, “Hm? Oh, yeah, yeah! I’m fine. I was just thinking.” Her voice coughed through the phone and said, “So what can I do for you? Like I said before, I’m usually the one who calls, not the other way around. Oh! Do you need another employee? Sadly, no one else I know is in town, but if you want—“

“No, nothing like that,” said Hoshi quickly, “It’s a lot more personal than that.”

“Oh,” Reiko said simply. “Deja vu.”


“Nothing. Please continue.”

It was now or never. Hoshi had to decide if he wanted to tell Reiko or not about his vigilantism. While Reiko seemed like someone who never shut up, she was actually quite considerate when it came to keeping a secret. He could still remember what happened when he met her the first time—The embarrassment he felt. To this day, it was something that remained firmly between him and Reiko.

It was also why he knew he could trust her. Hoshi just didn’t know if he could trust himself. At the very least, he knew Reiko was capable of keeping herself safe, but could he say the same for her?

“Hello? Is anyone still there? Hoshi?”

“Yeah, I’m still here,” Hoshi sighed. “So yeah. I need your help with something. Something really important, and probably dangerous.”

“Almost the exact same wording too. Sheesh,” Reiko muttered. “And I thought Reyna was joking too.”

“Reiko?” Hoshi asked. Her random comments were really starting to put Hoshi off. They didn’t make any sense at all to him. “Did you say something about Hikaru?”

“No. I was just thinking about how you two sound the same sometimes.”

Hoshi blinked. “How can you even begin to gauge that?”

“I don’t. Now don’t get sidetracked! You were about to tell me something!”

“You’re the one—You know what, never mind.” Hoshi rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Okay, here’s the deal.”

“I’m listening.”

“I need help taking down a gang that’s popped up recently: the Moon Ravens.”

After a moment, Reiko asked, “What makes you think I can do anything to help you?” He could her her sigh. “I’m not a superhero vigilante like those guys on the streets.”

That stung Hoshi, but it only strengthened his resolve. “That’s why I can trust you to be impartial, right?”

“Of course. You’re one of my friends, first and foremost, Hoshi.” Another beat, and Reiko said, “I can probably guess what you’re about to say, but I want you to tell me.”

Hoshi nodded. Of course Reiko could guess. Her intuition was as sharp as the swords she wielded. “I…Well, no use beating around it now. I have Powers, Reiko.”

“And you don’t think they’re enough to take down a gang, hm?” Reiko asked completely unfazed. “Of course I would help you. Why would I say no to a struggling friend? I saw the fires, same as you. I just knew I couldn’t do anything about it. When I heard from Reyna as well that…” Reiko trailed off. “Well, it’s not my place to say.”

“You know, you could at least sound a little more surprised,” Hoshi said in exasperation. “I thought a lot about this.”

“Experience weird things enough and you’ll never be surprised,” Reiko said simply. “I’ve had more than enough big reveals in my lifetime to expect things like this. Though the irony of the situation from both sides is, admittedly, quite funny to see.”

“Huh?” Hoshi quirked an eyebrow. He could almost hear Reiko shake her head.

“Anyways,” said Reiko, “Since you’re probably the number one version as well, but for heroes, I’ll just say tell you what I told her—“

Hoshi listened intently, and Reiko said:

“—Be prepared for anything, and anyone. You never know who you might see.”