15.470.Xhephekuda Forever

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 470
“Xhephekuda Forever”

On his way home from school that day, Xhen-Bei was feeling low.
‘Xhephe promised we’d stay friends after he graduated, but it’s been over a month since graduation and we haven’t seen each since. Maybe I’m getting worried about nothing. Maybe he’s busy with a job or a girlfriend or something. Or maybe he was just lying about still wanting to be friends…’
Whatever the explanation, it did nothing to bring up Xhen-Bei’s mood. A part of him wanted to head over to Kaersh-Cogyp’s house to find out for sure what was going on, but the other part of him reminded himself that even if nothing had changed, he probably wouldn’t appreciate the visit.
So Xhen-Bei opted to return home, his tail drooping and his ears folded to his head.
“I miss you, Xhephe…”
“You do?”
Xhen-Bei turned around, and at once his ears and tail perked up. Even wearing sunglasses he could still recognize Kaersh-Cogyp.
“Xhephe?”
“Xhen-Bei?”
“It’s you! What a coincidence! I was just thinking about you! Hey, what’s with the sunglasses? They’re a good look for you, but they seems kinda counter to your personality.”
“Maybe in the past, it would have been. But you haven’t seen me since graduation. A lot of changes have happened to me since then.”
“Is something wrong, Xhephe?”
“No. In fact, this past month I’ve felt better than ever.”
He turned around, a wide grin on his face. “I’ve felt good! I’ve felt cool! You’ve missed a lotta stuff that’s happened to me, Xhen-Bei, but now–” He put one arm around Xhen-Bei’s shoulders. “Now, the two of us, we can be cool buddies. No wait. That ain’t cool enough. Howsabout cool bros?”
“Xhephe!?”
“You ever been to the Modernized Species convention, Xhen-Bei? Best thing that ever happened to me. Wait, they taught me another thing too. Nicknames are far cooler than first names. Shows true closeness, you know? I remember, you were all concerned ’bout our friendship in the past, but ya gave me a nickname, and I think that means something. I owe you one, too.”
“Xhephe, are you out of your mind!?”
“No way, Xhennie!”
“Xhennie!? Please don’t call me that.”
“You’re right. Sounds kinda feminine. Maybe for a lady-friend if I ever get one with a name like yours.”
Xhen-Bei shuddered.
“Howsabout Yuu?”
“No way!”
“Beibei?”
“No!”
“I got it. Bei-Xhen. Man, I am so awesome.”
“NO! I don’t want a nickname from you, Xhephe! I just want you to call me Xhen-Bei like you used to! Or at least Yuuldang! That and I’d like an explanation as to why you changed! What happened to you? You’re nothing like the Xhephe I knew!”
“Yeah, because I’m better!” He said. “Like I told you, the Modernized Species convention. Cool bros they got there, sisses too. Tell you all about how to break tradition and become your true self. And my true self is cool.”
“But–but I liked the Xhephe who was super-serious and, and who grew up around so much of his culture that he barely knew anything about Vaelyn’s!”
“That’s because you didn’t know the true Xhephekuda Kaersh-Cogyp. He’s been hidin’ dormant. You’re a cool guy, Xhenners. You probably sensed the dormant cool waitin’ inside of me, just beggin’ to burst out and get on the scene! He’s been hidin’ away for so long it’s pretty painful finally lettin’ him out!”
“Because you’re not being true to yourself! If these ‘Modernized Species’ people told you cool is the only thing you should be, then they’ve got the wrong idea!” Xhen-Bei grabbed Kaersh-Cogyp’s shoulders. “Please, Xhephe, I’m begging you. There’s got to be some totally valid reason you’re acting this way. I wanted to see the Xhephe who’s my best friend, not this cool-obsessed guy.”
“You wanted to see him ’cause you didn’t know any better!” Kaersh-Cogyp yelled, his tone accusatory. “But you’ll get used to me in due time. What say we go and do something awesome? That’ll make you realize just how mistaken you are. Eventually, you’ll come to your senses and embrace the cool.”
He dragged Xhen-Bei by the arm along the sidewalk. Xhen-Bei tried to break free of his grasp.
“C’mon, Xhephe! What happened to you? Were you just acting the way you did for school?”
“No way. Had I know the inner cool inside of me earlier, I would’ve always been actin’ that way. Maybe I’d have been one of the popular students too. ‘Longside Sanyaow, anyway. Maybe we could’ve been boyfriend and girlfriend.”
“First off, Sanyaow is way out of your league. Second off–” Xhen-Bei broke free of his grasp. “Is this really the real you? The Xhephe you really are, deep down inside in your soul? This…”cool” guy?”
“Don’t say cool like that, man,” Kaersh-Cogyp said, sounding offended. “I’m more than 100% bonafied cool. Don’t act like it’s just an act, dude.”
“But it is, isn’t it?”
“No way. That Modernized Species convention taught me all I needed to know. And now that I know it, you know the true personality of your best friend. So take it or leave it, I don’t care. I don’t have time for losers anyway, so unless you wisen up, I’m ditchin’ you before you can ditch me, buster.”
“I was just…” Xhen-Bei’s ears folded to his head. “I’ve got nothing wrong with you if you wanna be cool and awesome and stuff like that. Heck, I want to be cool and awesome too sometimes. I just think you’re overdoing it, you know? Not everything in life is gonna be cool and awesome. If you try to make everything like that, you’ll just end up annoying and alienating people. And you’ll end up hiding every emotion you don’t think is cool.”
Kaersh-Cogyp lowered his sunglasses. “You know though, while we’re being honest, I do prefer the original Xhephe! You, the way you used to be, is who I like. I wanted to be friends with you not because I thought you had the potential to change into someone cool, but because I liked who you were back then! And, I mean, I don’t mind cool people, but I think you’re taking it too far. You shouldn’t be trying so hard to be cool. I still want to be your friend, Xhephe. But if this is who you really are, I am going to miss who I thought you were.”
“…is that so.”
“Uh-huh.”
“Well, color me surprised.” Kaersh-Cogyp took off his sunglasses.
“Why should you be surprised? We’ve been friends for a while now. If I didn’t like you the way you used to be, why would I have bothered for so long?”
“I don’t know. But if that’s the case, Xhen-Bei, then I’m glad to hear it.”
“So it was just an act?”
“A little.”
“Mind explaining?”
“After my graduation, my family went on vacation to this place called Sirennia. This place used to be a Siren society, but they’ve recently started integrating. They really did have a convention called ‘Modernized Species’. At that convention, there was a lot of talk about how Sirens have had to adjust their behavior for the changing times. Apparently, back in the olden days when Sirens hunted other people, it was the best way to keep a consistent meal.”
“I guess that makes sense…in a gross way.”
“My family didn’t like it, but while I was there, I wondered if that was the way to move on in society. I’m proud of my family, my heritage, my culture and past. But I wondered if I needed to change. Would that help me usher in helping to change the future? So I decided to make a change to myself. I found out all about modern personalities and how they were considered by people around my age. And I found out about that cool persona.”
“You must be a little behind. And looking at the wrong place in the world.”
“I’ll admit, there were some things I liked about being cool. But a lot of the time, I just felt ridiculous.”
“Well, I’m glad you realized that,” he said. “And you can still be cool without doing a complete 180. Cool people who try too hard to be cool are just annoying.”
“Well, cool is not what I want to be. To me, what’s more important is helping the world progress. If I can make things better for the people of the world somehow, more convenient, or just take extra steps in helping to prevent World War V from ever happening, I’ll do it. That is what I truly want to do. If only I could figure out how.”
“Well, Groundisers live long lives, don’t they? You have plenty of time to figure it out. And I’ll be there with you, helping to give you ideas!”
Xhen-Bei smiled. “It’s good to see you again, Xhephe.”
“You too, Xhen-Bei.”

—–
“Giving up your ‘cool’ persona, Kaersh-Cogyp?”
“Yes, Grandmother. Someone close to me helped me figure out just how stupid it was to assume that persona in the first place.”
“Well, good. You’d been insufferable ever since the vacation.”
“My apologies.”
“No need. I would have loved you either way, but I’m glad to see you back to normal.”
“I’m glad to be back to normal, Grandmother. You know, best friends sure are great to have. Sometimes they’re just there to be a person you like to hang out with, but other times they can give you the helpful advice you truly need to make it to that next point in your life.”

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