10.434.Saying Farewell

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 434
“Saying Farewell”

“Yo, Xhephe!” Xhen-Bei called out. Kaersh-Cogyp turned to see him.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hey!”
“Did you have something you wanted to talk about?”
“Not really, no. Just greeting. Hi!”
Kaersh-Cogyp rolled his eyes. “Whatever…”
“You seem tired, Xhephe. Stay up all night?”
“No, I’m just thinking about tomorrow. There’s graduation and then my family’s likely to throw some sort of celebration. I just want to relax, but I can’t stop thinking about everything that’s about to happen.”
Xhen-Bei stopped in place. “Graduation? Oh yeah, that’s tomorrow, isn’t it?”
“Along with the moving-up ceremony.”
“Oh yeah. I guess I’m gonna be in Grade 11 starting tomorrow. Seems kind of weird. And you’re going to be in grade…”
Kaersh-Cogyp’s expression fell. Xhen-Bei’s ears folded to his head and his tail drooped.
“…I have graduation tomorrow,” he said.
“Oh…”
“I thought you remembered. When I came to Malicerie my time here was fairly limited.”
“I, uh…sometimes get people’s grades mixed up,” he chuckled. “I always remember Kerushao and Reusung are in Grade 12 but for some reason I really thought you were in Grade 11…”
“Well, I’m not. So I’m graduating tomorrow.” Kaersh-Cogyp narrowed his eyes and gave Xhen-Bei a rough pat on the back of his head.
“Don’t look so crestfallen. You know where I live and I know where you do. It’s not like we’re going to fall out of contact because I’m graduating, is it?”
“Y-yeah, I know…”
“Aren’t you the one who said our friendship was more important than just a school ordeal? Maybe we’ll see each other less often, but that doesn’t mean anything. So don’t worry about it.”
As Kaersh-Cogyp walked on ahead, Xhen-Bei sighed, “It’s not the same…”

***

On the first break time, Xhen-Bei rested his head on his desk and sighed.
“Upset about the graduation, Yuuldang?” Xhen-Bei glanced up. Gen-Reiya stood at his desk. “You’re making what Mali-Ana calls the “graduation blues” face.”
“Um, maybe,” he said. “Why are you asking? You don’t have to think about people graduating! You graduate tomorrow! Meanwhile I have to think about how my best friend is gonna be preparing for adult life soon.”
“You act like I don’t understand,” he said. “Look, Yuuldang, I’ve been through the “graduation blues” before. Hey, just last year my best friend, a close friend and my girlfriend all graduated that day. I think I understand what it’s like to be upset that people you like are graduating.”
Xhen-Bei gave him an uncertain glance.
“But guess what? We still see each other lots. Maybe not as much as before, but, such is the nature of adult life,” he said. “I’ve gotten to go on several dates with my girlfriend even though we don’t go to school together anymore.”
“Yeah, rub it in that you get to keep in touch with these people and that you have a girlfriend,” Xhen-Bei grumbled. “My best friend’s part of a proud family. For all I know he’s probably going to go to college and then get married and have kids and never have time for me again!”
“Um, I can understand that too,” he said. “One of my friends is part of a prestigious family. …sort of. Imagine what I thought when she started talking about starting a family before graduation. Well, not right away, but you know…”
“But she hasn’t, has she?” He said.
“Ah, heh heh, um…” Gen-Reiya glanced away from him. “Anyway, it’s not healthy to obsess over it so much. I mean, he’s one friend. You have other things in life you like besides friends, right?”
“Yeah, of course I do. Kerushao, I don’t think you understand why I’m upset even if you understand a lot. Sure, we can keep in touch. Maybe it won’t even be a big deal. I can make other friends! Maybe I’ll even get a girlfriend next year and he’ll get a girlfriend and we won’t have as much time for each other!”
He whimpered. “I’ve just…I feel like it’s a genuine friendship, but what if he stops caring about it once we’re not going to school together anymore?”
Gen-Reiya sighed. “You’re overthinking this.”
“Easy for you to say! You’ve been there, done that, got a nice girlfriend, probably–”
“Stop bringing her up,” Gen-Reiya said.
“Well, she’s a big part of your life now, so of course she’s going to come up a lot or something. Anyway, you’ve already been through this and now you’re going to graduate. But I’m right here, right now. I have to think about it in the present.”
Gen-Reiya groaned. “Maybe you should talk to someone else about this. Remember, you’re not the only one who has an important friend in your life. I think everyone in Class D does. Heck, even San-Kyung the notorious loner has a best friend who hangs all over him!”
“Yeah, I know, it’s creepy,” he said.
“It’s not as bad as it seems. Go ahead and be upset, but don’t let it make your fur grey, all right? Er, well…you get my drift?”
Xhen-Bei narrowed his eyes. Gen-Reiya shook his head. “There’s just no getting through to him. I should ask someone else to talk to him.”

Xhen-Bei was still dejected during the next break time. He barely noticed Mali-Ana and Kim-Koou walk in front of his desk.
“What do you want?” He snapped.
“To talk? Peacefully? Geez, he’s in a worse mood than I thought,” Mali-Ana said. “Gen-Reiya was talking about how you’re getting all upset because your friend’s graduating.”
“I went over this with him,” he said. “I get it, my feelings are irrational.”
“Hey, my friend is graduating tomorrow too,” Kim-Koou said. “And I don’t think we’re as close as you and Xhephekuda.”
“How can you say his name so perfectly?” Xhen-Bei said, sitting up in his chair.
“Just practice.”
“You’ve gotta get over yourself,” Mali-Ana said. “There’s a lot worse that could be happening right now aside from him graduating. Count yourself lucky. I mean, you’ve never had a crush graduate before.”
“Have you?”
“I–!” Mali-Ana blushed. “Don’t just ask those questions out of the blue!”
“Don’t bother asking her that, Yuuldang,” Kim-Koou said. “She’s just gonna get flustered.”
“Hmph!”
“Anyway, cheer up, okay?” Kim-Koou said. “Could be worse, he could be a girl you liked or someone you couldn’t get in contact with again. So–”
Xhen-Bei growled. Kim-Koou walked off with Mali-Ana.

“Do I have to?”
“I think you might be able to get through to him, really! Please, just this once. I’ll owe you!”
“Mm…alright, but only because I don’t have anything better to do.”
Xhen-Bei continued to mope into the next break time. He put his ears down when he noticed someone walk in front of his desk.
“Another lackey sent by Kerushao? Don’t bother, I already know.”
“He may have given me the idea, but I came here of my own volition. Besides, I figured we’re in the same grade, so maybe that might help.”
Xhen-Bei stared up wide-eyed at Dosa-Mina, who stood in front of his desk wearing the smile he normally did.
“You’re pretty tall for a Normal,” he said.
“I get that lots. Bet you’re taller.”
“Five-ten.”
Dosa-Mina blinked. “Oops, guess I was wrong.”
“Just how tall are you!?”
“Five-eleven. Hey, San-Kyung’s over six, so there’s taller out there.”
“Well, our heights don’t matter. Leave me alone.”
“I will, just give me time to talk first.”
“That’s not leaving me alone.”
“Maybe not, but I want to talk.”
“Why? Your best friend’s in the same grade as you. You two will graduate on the same day.”
“I know. But I was just thinking about some things because I happened to overhear your conversations with the other students.”
“Stalker.”
“Don’t put me on that level. Anyway, I was trying to put myself in your shoes, you know, if San-Kyung was graduating tomorrow.”
“Aaaaand lemme guess, you realized that even though you’d be sad you’d realize it was pointless to be so upset because you’ll just get to see him outside of school.”
“No, actually I was thinking about how lonely I’d be at school without him and how I’d be wondering how he’s doing at home, thinking about his future. Honestly, I’d argue I’d be in a worse spot than you are just because of how my and San-Kyung’s personalities are. But that’s not my point. Another thing I happened to overhear in those conversations is how you’re worried about whether Xhephekuda considers your friendship genuine or not. And I have to wonder, if you’re so concerned about whether the two of you will stay friends or not after graduation, can you really call those feelings of friendship?”
“What?”
Dosa-Mina’s smile dropped slightly. “I know if I was in your place, I would be sad and lonely for San-Kyung, but I wouldn’t be doubting our friendship. If you are, maybe it wasn’t much of a friendship to begin with.”
Dosa-Mina walked off after that statement, leaving Xhen-Bei confused.

***

Xhen-Bei’s talk with Dosa-Mina was on his mind all throughout class. After the last class had ended, and the students began to prepare to leave–some talking to their graduating friends before they left–Xhen-Bei walked ahead, head bowed, and joined Kaersh-Cogyp on his way out of school.
Both were silent until Kaersh-Cogyp pat him on the shoulder.
“Xhen-Bei, don’t let it get under your skin so much. We are friends.”
“I know we are.”
“We will be friends even after I graduate tomorrow. Even if that changed someday, it does not change how things stand now. Know that.”
“I know.”
“Really, Xhen-Bei. Perhaps it seems like you’re the only one who values our friendship to you because of how hard on you I can be. And I admit, there are times I find you annoying. I’m naturally hard on people, I suppose, but…our friendship has given me a lot of chances to find out about things I didn’t know before. I know a lot more about the culture of Vaelyn thanks to you telling me all about it. And I have a bit of an appreciation for their cuisine as well.”
“Our cuisine,” Xhen-Bei said. “Remember, even coming from a Grougyptian family, you are still Vaelis, Xhephe.”
“I know. And we are still friends. And you being my friend, I don’t like seeing you acting depressed, so stop it.”
“You can’t tell me just to stop it. I can’t stop being sad instantaneously.”
“I would’ve believed otherwise.” Kaersh-Cogyp brought a hand to his chin. “Maybe this will make you feel better. If you want, I don’t mind if you call me Kaersh-Cogyp now.”
Xhen-Bei looked up at him wide-eyed. “Really?”
“Really.”
“Okay then!” He said cheerfully. “Kaersh-Cogyp!”
Kaersh-Cogyp smiled, though it quickly dropped when Xhen-Bei’s expression soured. “That sounds funny to me. Mind if I just keep calling you Xhephe, Kaersh-Cogyp?”
“If you want. But you’re the one who wanted to call me Kaersh-Cogyp in the first place. You’re still welcome to, so long as I can call you Xhenny.”
“Now that just sounds stupid!”
Kaersh-Cogyp started to laugh. Xhen-Bei soon joined in.

—–
As Sharai left the school, he glanced over his shoulder back at the building.
“Tomorrow is another graduation,” he said. “Another year of students leaving for greener pastures…”

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