ToKyotchi Chapter 33
"Mr. Rowan? Mr. Rowan, are you alright?"
Che blinked and realized he'd zoned out for several minutes. Nurse Taffy stood before him, a look of concern on her face. He glanced around the lobby of Legaros Tower, noticing that people were finally starting to leave.
"Yes, I'm fine," he replied, shaking his head to clear it. That's when he spotted the royal family outside preparing to board a maglev cab. Vista stood before them, and they seemed to be having a heated discussion based on their body language. Che had heard a few parents mention taking their children out of school after the attack, and he wasn't sure what to make of it.
Most of the faculty had remained behind after the incident to help prevent complete chaos. He spotted Professor Lelele floating around the room checking students for injuries, while Coach Naul stood at the main entrance, guarding it like a well-trained mastiff.
Professor Nine's fiery red curls bounced furiously as she directed students and families to the infirmary, and Professor Stufford patiently sat next to a crying student while nodding his great, moss-filled head sympathetically.
Che finally spotted Professor Avis in the conference room he and Lorenzo had been caught in previously. She seemed to be reviewing something on a screen, though he couldn't make out what it could be.
He shifted his focus back to Nurse Taffy, who was watching him expectantly. "Are the others still here, um, with Tyson's family?"
Nurse Taffy nodded. "Tyson's mother finally woke up, and she's stable. The others got banged up a bit, but they should be ready to leave in a few moments. Would you like to see them?"
Che nodded and followed her down the hallway and into the elevator, leaning his back against the wall as a heavy sigh escaped his lips. He wondered how long he'd been holding that in. His entire body had remained stiff since he spotted Yokan flying down toward all of them from wherever he'd appeared from.
He closed his eyes, thinking about what would come next. Would that lunatic keep trying to attack Che and everyone else around him? He pinched the bridge of his nose, desperately trying to relieve his impending headache. Even though the infirmary was on the second floor, it felt like hours until the elevator door opened again.
Che should have expected the rows of curtains and beds to disorient him a little, but his stomach nearly dropped when he spotted Tyson and the others in the furthest corner of the infirmary. He quickly started toward them, though he wanted to keep his distance as it seemed like a delicate moment between the family.
Sharon was sitting up in bed, her green eyes dull and sunken with exhaustion. She leaned into Mart, who stood beside her gently caressing her hand while Tyson sat on the other side her bed. Che imagined he'd probably done that since he was a child and smiled at the scene, a small sense of relief washing over him.
Nikki and the others turned as Che approached, stopping him before he could get too close.
"We should probably leave them alone for a while," Nikki's voice was gentle, though she was clutching her head as if she too was fending off a headache.
"You alright?" Che asked, looking between them.
Nikki nodded, glancing back at the others before turning to him again. "I'm fine. It's this weird headache I've had since that fight with..."
She stopped herself from saying his name, but Che knew she meant Yokan. The others looked at her expectantly before he cut in.
"We all need some rest," Che nodded.
"Besides, we'll probably be on lockdown soon," Nikki added.
Che frowned. "Lockdown? What do you mean?"
"You didn't hear?" Bella asked before leaning in. "Have you even been paying attention for the last hour or so? There's still someone missing!"
A chill ran down Che's spine. "Missing?"
"Yes, you fool," Kim sighed, her usual mocking grin on full display. "Faculty and the guards are still searching."
"Don't call my Rowan a fool!" Lorenzo's voice exploded from beside him, making Che jump. He stood facing the others, his fists clenched and his eyes ablaze, and Che sighed. At least he wasn't sulking anymore, which probably meant he wouldn't poison everyone in the room if he decided to employ his Vicious Mist technique.
"YOUR Rowan?" Kim covered her mouth as she gasped theatrically. "My, when did this happen?"
Che caught a glimpse of Sharon and Mart, who both regarded Lorenzo with nearly-identical cold stares. Tyson's expression was mostly annoyance, but seeing their looks of disapproval made Che's heart sink.
He groaned and shook his head as he returned his attention to the others. "Please don't encourage him. I don't need any more excitement today."
"Fine, fine," Kim giggled. "We wouldn't want to overwhelm poor Rowan. After all, you make it so easy."
"Kim, enough!" Nikki rolled her eyes.
"What about the student?" Che asked, trying to steer the conversation back to the original topic. "Do we know who it is?"
"Fran," Nikki continued to rub her temples. "She's in our first-period class, remember?"
Che shrugged. Besides Tyson, Lorenzo, and Nikki, he'd never really interacted with anyone else in first period. "Are her parents still here?"
Nikki shook her head. "I don't know."
"Well..." Che scratched the back of his head. "What about all of you? You staying or heading back home?"
Lorenzo quickly shook his head. "And abandon my Rowan? Oh, I could never do such a thing! I told you before what would I'd do if something happened to you! I'd die!"
"Okay, okay..." Che shook his head. "That's enough of that!"
Lorenzo giggled, but Che was happy to see he wasn't sulking anymore since his confrontation with his parents earlier. Che wondered if they'd decide to come back once they heard the news.
"Of course, we're staying!" Bella gestured toward Kim and Nikki, who nodded in agreement. "You should know that already!"
Che looked over at Tyson and his family, his heart squeezing in his chest. He didn't know what to say to Tyson after what had just happened. He knew what Yokan was capable of, but he'd hoped they'd keep their beef between the two of them.
He walked past the others over to Tyson, gently placing a hand on his shoulder. Tyson looked up, and Che saw the pain and anger in his eyes.
"I'm sorry for all this," Che said quietly.
Tyson shook his head. "You don't have anything to apologize for. That crazy man is to blame. He hurt my family."
Che did everything in his power to hide the growing guilt in his chest. Tyson deserved a true explanation of who had attacked them and why. He deserved to know this was all Che's fault.
Instead, he simply nodded. "Everyone else said they're staying. Do you know what you wanna do?"
Tyson paused, taking a deep breath before turning back to his mother, who was now regarding him with tired eyes.
"You have to make your own decision, Ty," she whispered. She turned to look at Mart, who had been quietly observing the conversation from the corner of the bed.
"Son, you were raised to know how to face anything," Mart added, his tone gentle.
Tyson paused a moment before nodding. "I'm staying too."
Che smiled at Tyson and the others before looking back at Nurse Taffy.
"I guess that's settled," he affirmed.
"Perfect!" Nurse Taffy said with a smile. "But you know, Rowan, I never quite got a chance to examine you. As a nurse, it's my job to make sure you're not sick or injured. Besides, you might have been-"
"I was not poisoned, and I'm fine," Che cut her off firmly.
Nurse Taffy sighed heavily. "Fine, if you say so."
Before turning to leave the room, Che turned to face Tyson and his family once more.
"You should know..." Che said quietly. "We all tried to protect you, even though we weren't strong enough."
Sharon nodded, her wide, kindly smile returning. "It's alright. You kids were very brave, and I can see why Tyson considers you a dear friend of his, Rowan."
"Including Lorenzo," Che added. "He was the first one to state that he refused to leave your side. Without his Star Wall technique, it would have been much worse."
Sharon's expression softened, though she seemed a bit flustered as she nervously rubbed her arms. Mart cleared his throat, giving Lorenzo a curt nod of approval, while Tyson's arms were folded in front of him as his eyes bore into Lorenzo.
He sighed before finally acknowledging him. "Thanks, man."
Lorenzo smiled in response before turning to leave with the others. Che watched as Nikki, Bella, and Kim strolled out of the room, though Lorenzo stayed behind. He and Che locked eyes for a moment, both understanding what had been said without a single word.
"We better get going," Che motioned towards the door.
He and Lorenzo finally left the infirmary, leaving Tyson to spend a few more moments with his family. As they walked away, Che heard Sharon finally mumble her appreciation of Lorenzo's actions, but he was certain Lorenzo didn't hear it.