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ToKyotchi Chapter 27

What Do You Want?

Che stretched out the stiff muscles in his back, his body aching from sitting all day. Still, it was a much better contrast to his throbbing headache from earlier.

His Sparring class uniform had been washed from what he could tell, and he could feel the soft fabric brushing against his skin. He tried to stifle a yawn, but it escaped anyway. Tyson noticed and gave him a smirk.

“Tired already?” he raised an eyebrow in amusement.

Che shrugged in response, not wanting to admit he was exhausted. Sure, he’d been getting plenty of sleep since he arrived in Eden, but he didn’t think any amount of rest would make a difference. He still felt like he was walking around in a fog, mentally and emotionally drained. It didn’t help that the sun was already setting, the sky a mix of orange and pink.

Nikki met up with them outside of the locker rooms, seeming a bit more upbeat than before.

“I think you and Tyson should partner up today,” she suggested. “Let’s take a break from any near-death experiences maybe?”

Now it was Che’s turn to roll his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Tyson, you ready?”

Tyson pumped his fist in the air. “Always ready!”

Nikki giggled into her hand as the three set off toward the practice rings. Che looked around at the other students, trying to locate Lorenzo. He didn’t plan on tussling with the mercurial teen today, but Lorenzo had been acting stranger than usual since health class.

Before he could get completely lost in thought, though, a low, hollow voice stopped them all in their tracks.

“What did you do to Bella?”

Che barely had time to react as the sharp flower stem whizzed by his face. Kim stood before the three of them, her right hand stretched out as her left prepared to launch another attack.

“Hey, what are you doing?” Tyson instinctively brought his arms up to shield his face, while Nikki stepped in between Kim and Che. Kim scowled as she lowered her right hand.

“What did you do to Bella?” she repeated. “Something happened in choir class, and she won’t tell me. But I know it was you!”

“Kim, he didn’t do anything!” Nikki stepped forward, her expression firm. “He told me what happened in choir class earlier. You know it wasn’t his fault!”

“Shut up!” Kim snapped at Nikki before returning her attention to Che. “I want to hear it from him!”

Che gazed at Kim, trying to gauge her reaction. Why would she think he had done something to her? Was there something he had missed? He opened his mouth to speak but stopped himself, unsure of what he should say.

He thought of all of his encounters with Bella and Kim, where they usually involved the duo making fun of him in some way. They also didn’t seem to get along with Nikki, though the latter hinted earlier that they all used to be much closer. Nikki seemed just as concerned as Kim was at lunch earlier.

Was this why Kim was missing from class earlier? Had she been with Bella all this time? Sure, Bella was probably still upset about what happened in choir, but Kim’s reaction seemed a bit over the top. What was she so worried about?

Che took a deep breath, summoning what strength he had left after a long day of classes. “Bella…she started to sing in class today, but she stopped midway through and ran out. She probably didn’t want to tell you because she was embarrassed.”

“Lies!” Kim shouted, her eyes ablaze. “She tells me everything, and now she won’t talk to me! Someone said they saw you chase after her. I don’t know what you said or did, but she’s been upset ever since!”

Che could see the disbelief on her face and knew things weren’t going to end well if he didn’t diffuse the situation.

“I didn’t do anything,” he said, his voice softening.

Kim scoffed, shifting into a battle stance. “If you won’t tell me the truth, you leave me no choice!”

“Kim, stop it!” Nikki shouted. “Don’t do this!”

Kim ignored her and lunged at Che, only to be stopped by Tyson, his grip on her shoulder strong and unyielding.

“Sorry…” Tyson muttered, releasing her. “Had to do something.”

“What’s the problem over there?” the four of them turned in unison to see Coach Naul lumbering toward them, the smoke donuts from his pipe barely having time to float away in the breeze before he was upon them.

Che could feel his heart sink as Kim’s expression shifted from rage to panic. She put her hands behind her back as her gaze fell to the ground as if trying to make herself as small as possible. Che watched as her brow furrowed as she tried to come up with an explanation in her head, and that was when he understood what was happening.

She was afraid, and she needed help. He’d seen that look before.

Before anyone could utter a single word, Che met Kim’s eyes and gestured toward a nearby practice ring.

“Nothing, Coach. We’re just figuring out who we’re going to partner with,” Che explained, hoping his voice sounded as steady and convincing as he wanted it to be. “Kim and I will spar with each other today.”

Coach Naul eyed the group for a moment before shrugging. “All right, then. I’ll be watching.”

With that, Coach Naul turned and headed back toward another group of students, his pipe smoke lingering in the air. Che sighed. That was a little too easy given how his previous sparring match went yesterday. He made a mental note that Coach Naul was a bit too lenient.

He then turned to Kim, who had been staring at him the entire time. She looked as if she was about to say something but decided against it. She nodded in acknowledgment before walking off toward the practice ring.

“What are you doing?” Nikki asked when she was far enough away. “You’re not really going to fight her, are you?”

Che shook his head. “I don’t want to. Hopefully, I can get her to understand. I just didn’t want any of us to get in trouble.”

“You sure, bro?” Tyson folded his arms, watching as Kim prepared for their match. “She looks pretty mad still.”

Che sighed and gave his friend a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. Why don’t you and Nikki partner up today?”

As if on cue, Tyson’s face turned a deep shade of red. He quickly recovered and grinned, his eyes twinkling with mischief. As usual, Nikki either didn’t notice or didn’t care. She nodded, seemingly content with the suggestion.

Che made his way to the practice ring where Kim was waiting. He could feel her eyes searing into him as he stepped inside the ring, yet she said nothing. They stood completely still for a few moments, neither one of them uttering a single word to the other.

Finally, Che broke the silence. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I just tried to help her.”

“Leech Flower!” Che barely had time to react before the flower stem had embedded itself into his right shoulder. He looked down to see a daisy coming into full bloom and immediately began to feel his energy being drained from him.

“I knew you wouldn’t be fast enough to dodge it,” Kim’s voice was ice cold as she advanced towards him. “You couldn’t beat those Legaros soldiers, you couldn’t beat Lorenzo yesterday, and I know you can’t beat me.”

“I’m not actually going to fight you,” Che’s voice was steady despite the pain.

Kim stopped in her tracks and stared at him for a moment before bursting into laughter. The sound was different from how she usually giggled at everything. It was full of forced mockery to make Che feel stupid. “You think you can talk your way out of this?”

Che nodded. “I just don’t think fighting is the answer here.”

Kim shook her head, her laughter subsiding. “Maybe you’re right. After all, within a few moments, you’ll be reduced to nothing. You’re weak! Pathetic! Completely helpless and-“

“What do you want out of life, Kim?”

Kim stopped mid-sentence, her eyes widening in surprise. “What?”

“I asked what you want out of life,” Che repeated. “Forget about sparring. I want to know what you’re dreaming of, what your goals and ambitions are.”

Kim’s face softened as she stepped back. “What do you care?”

“I think deep down you know,” Che replied, his voice gentle, “this has nothing to do with Bella.”

It was faint, but Che knew he saw Kim’s eyes fill up with tears before she looked away. When she turned to face him again, they were gone, but he knew they weren’t as far away as she wanted him to believe.

“What are you talking about?” Kim tried to sound tough, but it was obvious she was struggling.

Che slowly removed the flower from his shoulder, wincing in pain as he did so. “It’s not your fault.”

Kim drew herself up, her eyes narrowing. “What did you say?”

“I don’t know what happened in the past for you…” Che began before Kim cut him off.

“Exactly!” she shouted. “You don’t know! You don’t know anything! Anything at all! Bella is hurting and in pain, and I can’t do anything about it!”

“That’s because she doesn’t need you right now,” Che measured his words and volume carefully, knowing any wrong move would only further provoke her. Still, he didn’t dodge the next flower stem that embedded itself in his left arm.

“Shut up!” Kim yelled, taking a step forward. “You don’t know anything!”

Che kept his gaze steady on Kim’s. He could see the pain and anger in her eyes, but he also saw the fear beneath them. There was no mistaking it; she was terrified.

“I know that you’re scared,” Che said quietly. “It’s not your fault.”

Another flower stem lodged itself into Che’s leg. He refused to flinch, determined to keep his gaze locked on Kim’s, though the draining sensation doubled.

“Shut up!” Kim screamed. “Just shut up! You don’t know anything about me!”

Che never moved, and he never blinked. “We can feel powerless when we can’t help those we care about-“

“I told you to shut up!” Kim screeched, and Che could finally see it clearly. The tears. The fear. The anger. He could see it all, and his heart ached for her.

“It can make you feel worthless,” Che’s voice remained gentle. He would not fight her, no matter how much she provoked him. Kim was clenching her fists, her body shaking as she struggled to maintain her composure.

“Please…” her voice was barely a whisper. “You don’t know anything…”

“But you’re not worthless.”

Che watched as Kim’s resolve faltered as she slowly sank to the ground. Che could see the pain in her eyes, but he didn’t back away. Instead, he slowly removed the flower stems and crouched down, making himself eye level with her. Within seconds, she began to cry.

“Of course I’m worthless…” she said, her voice barely audible over the sound of her quiet sobs. “I can’t even cheer Bella up. I can’t make her talk. I can’t do anything!”

“You can’t cheer her up,” Che explained, “because it’s not your place to do that right now. This is something Bella has to figure out. Alone.”

Kim looked up at Che, her eyes wide in disbelief. “But what if she can’t?”

“She’ll figure it out eventually,” Che nodded. “This stuff happens sometimes. You encounter something that shakes you to your core and demands that you figure out what you want to do with your life moving forward. This is one of those moments for Bella. In the meantime, all you can do is be there for her when she needs it.”

Kim nodded slowly, and the tears started to fade.

“But I want you to remember something,” Che continued. “No matter what happens, you’re still capable of being your own person. You’re just as worthy on your own as you are with your friends. You have to figure out what you want in life too, just like she does.”

Kim looked away, her eyes downcast. “I don’t know if I can do this on my own.”

Che smiled. “Maybe not at first, but that’s okay. And you know what?”


Che shrugged. “If it helps you feel better, you can make fun of me as much as you like. As long as you promise me to figure out what it is you want out of life.”

Kim looked up at Che, and he saw her eyes twinkle in understanding. She nodded, a small smile forming on her lips.

“Okay,” she whispered. “I promise.”

Che smiled and offered his hand. Kim took it, and together they stood up.

“Still wanna beat me up some more? There’s still time,” Che said, and this time Kim’s laugh was genuine.

“No,” she shook her head. “I think I’ll take a break. I concede.”

She stepped out of the ring, and Che nearly jumped at the sight of the status screen appearing before him. He was now at level 8.