Chapter 32:

VOL. 1 Epilogue: Two Sides of the Same Coin

My Cute Kohai is Actually My Archnemesis?!

Reyna dragged her feet as she walked out of the elevator. She felt exhausted, and for good reason. Ever since she had found some new uses for her Power, she had begun getting heavy migraines and randomly heating up out of nowhere. Because of her volatility, she had basically lived in a cold bath for the entire weekend. She already saved quite a bit of money only using cold water, but the fact that she had used so much in two days hurt Reyna to think about. Instead, she turned her attention to the most pressing situation right now, which was facing another human being other than Reiko as a normal person.

“Hey Hikaru,” greeted Hoshi. “You look pretty dead. You alright?”She groaned in response, dropped her handbag and fell into her office chair. Hoshi chuckled at her, and she eyed him wearily with one eye. “That bad, huh? Don’t worry. I had a pretty exhausting weekend too.”

Reyna scoffed. “I doubt it was as tiring as mine. I had to clean up a lot of garbage, worked myself to the bone, and ended up getting a high fever.”

Hoshi clicked his tongue. “That does sound pretty bad. Sorry to hear about that.” He rubbed the back of his head and shook his head. “Yeah…I ran into some trouble and spent most of the weekend just in a state of shock.”

Reyna grinned. “Must’ve been some trouble.”

Hoshi laughed weakly. “Still is trouble. I can’t seem to stop thinking about how I’m supposed to solve it.” He shrugged. “I’m still thinking about whether or not to ask someone else I know to help me.”

“Hrm. It seems like we’re both dealing with tough things right now.” Reyna’s thoughts turned to her current object of ire, the Moon Ravens. She was able to stop a scowl from making it’s way to her face, but it was a hard thing to do. Her thoughts also turned to Check and his own crazy conviction to help her. As she thought this, she found her gaze wandering over to Hoshi, and she watched him also go through a myriad of emotions in the span of a few seconds.

“Maybe we can help each other?” Hoshi asked. “You give me advice on my situation, I give you advice on yours?”

“Uh, no, that sounds like a bad idea,” said Reyna quickly. She definitely didn’t want to accidentally reveal her alternate ego. It was bad enough that she even had the urge to mention her weekend in vague terms in the first place. “You probably can’t help me at all.”

“Hey. Just because we’re still getting to know each other, doesn’t mean we can’t try and help each other.” Hoshi sighed. “Okay, I get that it might be pretty personal—“

“You think?”

“—But I’m sure if we bounce some ideas off each other, we can both shave an easier time.”

Reyna mulled it over. On one hand, she was sure to be teased by Hoshi, and she definitely didn’t like that. He also wasn’t capable at teaching anything to anyone else. On the other, Hoshi was actually quite good at being helpful and saying helpful things. While that seemed contradictory, Reyna knew Hoshi helped more than he hurt. After all, with all of the teasing she had endured in the span of a week, she had been able to withstand Reiko’s own humour and dynamic personality more and more.

“…Fine,” Reyna eventually said. “But you get to start.”

“Alright,” Hoshi said. “That’ll work.”

Reyna nodded. “So…what’s up?”

Hoshi started with a sigh. “An…acquaintance of mine seems dead-set on getting revenge for something out of her control. I’ve really been trying my best to help her out, but it seems every time I try, she just gets mad at me.”

Hearing the situation, Reyna couldn’t help but laugh. “Girl problems, huh? Yeah, that’s a whole can of worms better left unopened.”

“I can’t just leave her alone, though!” Hoshi exclaimed. “I think she’s really hurting inside, and I feel like she’s lashing out only because it’s the only way she knows how to react.”

“This girl sounds really dumb,” Reyna said. “If she’s hurting that much, she should be looking for all the help she can get.”

“That’s the thing. It’s hard to get into contact with her. And every time we meet, it always feels like the air itself is going to catch fire.”

Reyna frowned. This girl Hoshi was talking about sounded awfully familiar, but she couldn’t quite place the thought. Hoshi also amused Reyna, because he genuinely looked distraught and confused, and it made her feel bad for him. “Sounds like a real piece of work,” she said. “I think you should just speak honestly. Tell her what she needs to hear. If she gets mad, that’s on her. Then, do everything you can to help her out.” Reyna shrugged. “Be a friend to her, I guess?”

Hoshi seemed to take Reyna’s words in thought for a moment before smiling brightly. “I tried something like that before, but I guess I’ll try again. Thanks, Hikaru!”

“So bright,” Reyna muttered as she shielded her face.

“Anyways, enough about me. What about you?” Hoshi adjusted his position on his seat and gazed intently at Hoshi. “What kind of help do you need?”

“You sure you won’t laugh?”

“I promise.”

Reyna eyed him dubiously before sighing. “Alright. I…well, it kinda feels like I’m being stalked.”

“What?!” Hoshi immediately yelled. “Hikaru, you should’ve said something earlier! If you’re being stalked, I’ll walk you home. I can’t let someone I know be in danger like that.”

“H-hey!” Reyna cried, suddenly feeling her face get hot. “Wait! It’s nice that you want to help me, but I’m not done, it’s not like that! I said kinda!” Reyna huffed, rubbing her cheeks and turning away. “I can take care of myself too, you know!” When she didn’t hear a response from Hoshi, she turned back to look at him, only to see him staring intently at her.

“I’m sure you can, Hikaru, but I can’t let this slide.” Hoshi frowned. “If you’re in danger: As your fellow co-worker and as your friend, I want to make sure you’re safe. I’m sure you can handle yourself, but I would feel better knowing I was there to help you if you did get into trouble.”

A warm burn erupted in Reyna’s chest. Suddenly, a different brand of heat spread throughout Reyna’s body and she felt a rush of something she couldn’t identify, something that made her heart ache and made her look at Hoshi with a wobbly smile. Then, realizing something was wrong with her, Reyna snapped out of it and quipped the first thing that came to mind. “Michiaki…that’s kinda weird.”

“I don’t care if it’s weird,” Hoshi replied. “As long as you’re alright, nothing else matters.”

The feeling immediately returned, and Reyna puffed her cheeks. “Don’t say things like that out loud! Sheesh!” She then folded her arms and swivelled on her chair a little. After a moment of recollecting her thoughts and calming down, Reyna shook her head and sighed.

“Alright, let me explain a bit more,” Reyna said. “By stalked, I meant that wherever I went, he seemed to just appear. But it was always because he was worried about me. I got really mad at him and basically wrote him off, but…” Reyna shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve been having a rough go of it, and he was only trying to lighten the load…?”

“This guy definitely sounds like a stalker,” Hoshi agreed, “But he does sound earnest. If you know him and his character, and you’re alright with it, then I suppose that’s fine as well. But you should definitely talk to this guy.” Hoshi nodded and leaned back in his chair. “If he’s trying to help, try asking why. And if you’re really feeling sorry, try making amends. Help him understand.” Hoshi then grinned and raised a fist. “And if he doesn’t want to listen, just give me a call. I’m sure I can rough him up a bit for you.”

Reyna thought of Check’s athleticism and reflexes, and considered Hoshi’s terrible tact and laid-back aura. No, Reyna was pretty confident in her observations. “I’m sure he’ll listen…but I don’t think you would be able to take him on.”

“I’m a lot more capable than you think, you know.”

“Sure, sure.”

“Hey! You haven’t seen anything I can do yet!”

“Exactly. You’re a terrible teacher and you’ve barely done anything for me.”

“I…Okay, that’s fair. But I’m trying here, okay?”

“I know you are. That’s what’s so cute about you.”

“Don’t call me—!” Hoshi blinked. “Wait, what?”

Reyna blinked as well. “What?”

“Did you just—“

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” was Reyna’s immediate reply, though she knew she wasn’t fooling anyone with her red cheeks.

Hoshi, to his credit, sighed. “You know what, let’s stop here. Just get back to work, alright?”

“Already, there, senpai.”

“Why do I even bother.”