Chapter 22:

The Villain’s Best Friend

My Cute Kohai is Actually My Archnemesis?!

“You know…” Reiko looked Reyna up and down with a thoughtful expression. “You look really good in tights.”

The rush of heat Reyna felt definitely wasn’t her Power activating. With an indignant huff, Reyna pulled her mask on. “Keep your thoughts to yourself, Reiko,” muttered Reyna. “Saying that stuff out loud is embarrassing. And it isn’t form-fitting at all!” However, she suddenly felt very self-conscious and looked herself up and down.

Reiko could only giggle at Reyna’s reaction. “Well, it looks good regardless. It’s nice to know that your work clothes and your jogging pants aren’t the extent of your wardrobe.”

Reyna pouted. Hard. “It’s not my fault that I’m dirt poor! I’m trying to make ends meet here, you know.” She then sighed as she slumped over. “And I still haven’t thanked you for getting me the Globe job.” Straightening herself up, Reyna did a proper bow. “Thank you.”

It was Reiko’s turn to grow bashful. “H-hey, you don’t need to bow. I was just doing a friend a favour. Seriously!” Reiko folded her arms. “Now, stop bowing before I bonk you on the head!”

Reyna immediately backpedaled and shook her hands in front of her. “Nope! No need for that!”

“And I’ve offered to let you stay here many times,” Reiko said with a click of her tongue. “You never replied whenever I did. That hurts, you know!”

Reyna opened her mouth to refute it outright, but she realized there was no way she could defend herself without explaining why. “Reiko…” she whispered. “I…”

“You don’t have to say anything.” Reiko smiled softly. “I’ll still be your friend at the end of the day.”

“It’s not that.” Reyna stared down at her one gloved hand and felt the phantom pain that plagued it. She shook her head clenched her hand into a fist. “There’s just some things I’m scared of bringing with me.”

Reiko seemed to notice her hesitation and frowned. “Reyna. You really don’t have to say anything. I’m your friend. Your best friend. And I’m here for you. But that doesn’t mean you have to tell me everything.”

Reyna looked at Reiko and smiled sadly. “Thanks, Reiko. Maybe…Maybe I’ll tell you another time. But not now. Now isn’t the time for what we’re about to do.”

“Got it.” Reiko nodded. “Well, you’re not wrong there, I suppose. I’m literally about to be your girl-in-the-chair. And you’re Public Enemy Number One right now. If I slip up, we’re both in trouble.”

“At least we’ll go down together, right?”

“Contrary to what you might think, Reyna: I do have a life outside of you.”

Reyna scratched the back of her head sheepishly. “Yeah, sorry. Thanks for looking out for me. And helping look for these Moon Raven guys. I definitely couldn’t do it on my own.”

Reiko snorted at that. “You don’t even have internet right now. I really am your only hope, eh?”

Reyna nodded. “You really are the best friend someone could ask for, you know? I was really afraid of how you would react when I told you.”

“Yes!” Reiko exclaimed with smug satisfaction. “Praise me more!”

“Of course, Lady Reiko. Your greatness exceeds my own infamy.”

“Infamous. You really are, aren’t you?” Reiko suddenly took on a wistful smile. “I remember when I was an outcast for a bit. It was pretty fun.”

Reyna deadpanned. “I think you and I have very different viewpoints of what having fun means.”

“Anyways!” Reiko ran up to Reyna and grabbed her hands. Reyna flinched and tried to jerk her gloved arm away, but Reiko’s grip was iron. “Do you think Hoshi would like seeing you like this?”

Reyna’s brain stopped working. After it rebooted, she widened her eyes and her head burst into flames. Reiko bent over in laughter as Reyna yelled, “WHAT!? Why would you ask that!? Do you have any idea what he might say!?”

Reiko heaved for air in between laughs. “H-he might say you look sexy instead of saying you look cute!”

Reyna’s red face complemented her raging blue inferno of hair. “THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT, REIKO!”

Reiko crumbled in the face of Reyna’s anger and collapsed onto the ground in laughing pains. “Y-your face! I-I’m so sorry! Haha! If you only knew, haha! Sheesh!”

“If Michiaki saw me, he would call the police! That’s it!”

Reiko, to her credit, recovered quickly as she sat up and wiped some tears away. “Oh god, you really are a treasure, aren’t you, Reyna?”

“What do you even mean by that?” Reyna huffed. “I’m just someone who’s trying to do right by me.”

“There’s a lot of people like that, me included. You don’t think I’m your friend just because, right?” Reiko got to her feet and prodded Reyna, causing her to flinch. “Your reactions are hilarious!”

“I will break off being friends with you.”

“You won’t have anymore friends after that. Are you really okay with that?”

Reyna’s flames sputtered. “W-wait, Reiko—“

“Well, I guess we’re not friends anymore.”

They died a little more. “Reiko, please—“

“And I wanted to help you too. Finding any trace of the Moon Ravens must be really hard when you don’t have a friend.” Reiko hummed and placed a finger on her chin. “Who are you again?”

“I’m sorry! Please forgive me! Stay my friend! My best friend!”


Reyna almost collapsed from relief, and the flames on her head extinguished completely. “Thank you, Reiko. Thank you. I need you.”

“I’m not your only friend, you know. That’s why I wasn’t too worried about you even if we weren’t friends.”

“H-huh?” Reyna asked. “What are you talking about?”

“Hoshi Michiaki, of course!” Reiko said. “You know, your coworker? You have his number right? He’s a friend now, isn’t he?”

“No! We’re just partners out of necessity, that’s all.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Yes. He clearly doesn’t see me as anything more than a nuisance.”

Reiko quirked an eyebrow. “I don’t know about that one. He considers anyone he knows as a friend, which by default makes you his friend, you know?”

“Michiaki? Really?” Reyna scoffed, before looking down quietly. “I mean, have you seen how we treat each other? Why would he ever want to be friends with me…”

“So far, he’s the only one I’ve seen you be your true self around,” Reiko said. Reyna sent a questioning glance her way, and Reiko corrected herself. “A more true version of yourself, at least.”

After a moment, Reyna scowled. “I still don’t like him.”

Reiko giggled. “I guess you don’t have to.” She stretched and plopped down across from her desktop. “Well, fire girl? What are you waiting for? Your patrol isn’t going happen in my living room.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll get moving. And it’s ‘Flare’!”

“Flare, shmare. You’re Reyna to me, so I’ll call you that.”

“No! Call me Flare while I’m like this! I might get caught!”

“Yeah, that’s a real possibility alright—”