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ToKyotchi Chapter 38

Time to Say Goodbye?

Che could have melted into a puddle of pure exhaustion as he slung his towel over his shoulder, allowing himself to air out before he changed out of his Sparring uniform. He’d successfully beaten Lorenzo once again today, though the teen had managed to learn a new technique called Sorcery.

Still, it wasn’t an offensive move and only enhanced his attack, mystical attack, and speed stats. Che wondered how someone like Lorenzo could ever win a fight, but he had to admit it was a useful opportunity to gain quite a few levels.

Besides, it was obvious Lorenzo was gaining experience outside of Sparring class, though Che didn’t know how. Still, each time he faced Lorenzo in the ring, he noticed the teen had gained a level just as he had. The two were now at level 15.

And tomorrow would be the day Lorenzo infiltrated the Marbot Research Facility.

“Dude, you’ve been relentless this week!” Tyson clapped Che on the back, breaking him from his thoughts. “You’re definitely gonna pass the final exams if you keep this up!”

Che nodded absently before perking up as Tyson’s words sunk in. “By the way, how exactly do the final exams work here anyway? Just written tests?”

Tyson shook his head. “Nah, man. Everyone’s got to face one of the professors and show off their prowess. If you lose, you fail.”

Che swallowed hard. “I should have known it would be something like that.”

Tyson sighed. “Yeah, it’s a bummer. I feel sorry for whoever has to go up against Coach Naul. That’s for sure!”

Che nodded in agreement, though truthfully any of their professors could pose as a formidable opponent given the right circumstances. Still, even at his current level, he was only half as powerful as Yokan and hadn’t learned any new techniques from fighting Lorenzo. He closed his eyes and slowly exhaled, trying to alleviate the dread in his stomach.

“Hey, cheer up!” Tyson elbowed him. “You’re one of the smartest people I know! You’ll do fine!”

Che chuckled, though he knew that intelligence alone wouldn’t get him very far in the end. Yokan was clearly looking for a fight and for Che to reveal himself to the student body. If Che didn’t manage to get into the Marbot Research Facility tomorrow, if he couldn’t find a way to stop Yokan…

“I haven’t seen Nikki around much this week,” Tyson muttered as he began changing out of his Sparring uniform. “Have you?”

Che shrugged. “I mean, I haven’t seen her at all actually.”

Tyson raised his eyebrows. “That’s not like you two. You’ve been inseparable since you got here. You remind me of siblings almost.”

Che sighed, feeling a strange combination of sadness and guilt. “She’s probably busy doing her own thing. I’ll catch up with her soon.”

“So, like…I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Tyson’s cheeks flushed bright red, “but I think she’s really pretty. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to talk to her for weeks, but I just…I don’t know. Do you think she’d like someone like me?”

Che forced himself to smile. He hadn’t expected this turn of conversation, but Tyson’s admiration for Nikki had been obvious from the start.

It was Che’s turn to clap Tyson on the back. “I think you should just tell her how you feel. You never know what will happen unless you try!”

Tyson smiled, though it was clear he was still nervous. “Yeah, you’re right! I’m gonna try! Besides, I should probably do it before…well…anyway.”

Che watched Tyson walk away with a fond smile on his face. He knew what Tyson wanted to say at the end. Che had all but dragged the teen away when they spotted Nikki and Lorenzo standing in the hallway having a private conversation.

While he was certainly getting tired of being involved in teen drama, Che didn’t think Tyson was a bad kid. He could be a little goofy at times, but maybe Nikki would warm up to him. After all, he wondered sometimes if she felt lonely.

Bella and Kim certainly weren’t the most supportive pair to travel around with. If things were different, he’d help her find her own group of friends. He clenched his fists. No. Tomorrow night was it. He had to find a way into the Marbot Research Facility and put an end to this whole thing. There was no use even thinking about anything else.

Che finally began changing out of his Sparring uniform and placed it back in the locker. Tyson had already left by the time he finished, and the locker room had all but cleared out for the evening.

He was just about to start off himself when he spotted Lorenzo entering the room, a strange look on his face. Che frowned and stopped in his tracks, wondering what was wrong. Lorenzo spotted him and quickly closed the distance between them.

“Oh, Rowan, what are you still doing here?” Lorenzo smiled as he slid into a nearby bench. “I thought everyone had left for the day!”

Che raised his eyebrows. “What’s going on? Why are you being so stealthy?”

Lorenzo hesitated before finally meeting Che’s gaze. “Well, if you must know, I like to wait till everyone clears out first. It makes having to change in front of them less…awkward.”

Che’s eyes widened in realization. “Oh, right. I didn’t even think about that.”

Lorenzo shrugged before glancing at a wall clock. “It’s already so late! Oh, Rowan, where has the day gone? Pretty soon it’ll be time for first period again!”

Che nodded, feeling a sudden wave of exhaustion. “Well, if memory serves, you’ve got a busy weekend starting tomorrow.”

Lorenzo shot Che a knowing look before taking off his shoes. “Yes, of course, and my initial assessment still stands. As much as I would love to take my favorite sparring partner, you’re not ready, Rowan.”

Che scoffed. “What do you mean? I’ve been keeping up with you all week! If anyone isn’t ready, it’s you!”

Lorenzo simply shook his head, a faint smile playing on his lips. “Rowan, I would like to think that if you could see the bigger picture, you’d understand why I’m saying this to you. All of this has been a test. You still have much to learn if you’re going to survive what’s coming.”

Che blinked, taken aback by the sudden soberness of Lorenzo’s words. He wondered what he meant, but at the same time, he couldn’t deny it made sense.

Of course, Lorenzo had been testing him. He’d probably been doing that since the day they first met. This week had just been another way to prepare him for whatever came next. All he could do was take a deep breath and focus on the goal ahead: find a way into the Marbot Research Facility.

He tried to open his mouth and respond but found that he was at a loss for words.

Lorenzo merely chuckled, pausing to place his shoes on the ground before meeting Che’s gaze. “But if you manage to spot me again at night, I won’t stop you from following me. However, I would advise against it.”

Che blinked. He wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not, but the glint in Lorenzo’s eyes told him that he was serious. “I’ll be sure to remember that.”

“Once you get inside…” Lorenzo’s voice trailed off as if he were lost in thought. He then shook his head and smiled. “That’ll be it then, won’t it?”

Che’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”

Lorenzo paused for a moment before chuckling once more. “Nothing. Forget I said anything.”

“Lorenzo, I don’t think I’ll ever understand you,” Che said, the corner of his mouth twitching.

“It’s for the best,” Lorenzo gave Che a small wave, clearly signaling the conversation was over. “Take care, Rowan.”

Che returned Lorenzo’s wave with a nod before slowly making his way out of the locker room. He had a lot to think about before tomorrow, but Lorenzo’s words echoed in his mind. He paused just before he reached the maglev cab, looking up at the fuschia-tinged sky and wondering where Nikki could be. Would he see her at all tomorrow?

Would he even get a chance to say goodbye?