The next day, Josh and Kent both had matches and spent most of the day sparring and practicing. Josh and Kent had gotten pretty close since Cal introduced them. Apparently Kent even offered to teach Josh what he could about martial arts, so now they even spend more time together. Josh had started out thinking that Kent would be a fun fight, but quickly learned that Kent really knew what he was doing. He quickly started to learn as much as he could. Cal tried to tag along when he could, but for now he wanted to let them focus on their own matches.
While they were practicing, Cal and Sarah decided to go for a hike. Well, Sarah decided to go for a hike and wouldn't take no for an answer when Cal said that he wanted to spar instead. The weather was good for a hike, Cal supposed. The sky was clear, a soft breeze blowing through the trees. They were quiet for a while, listening to the birds and the crackling of dead leaves and twigs as they walked.
After a short walk, they reached an overlook. The trees opened up to reveal a bench and a fence. Past that was an amazing view looking out over a small river that Cal hadn't known was there. The water had carved out beautiful cliff faces and made a gorge that the trail would now follow.
Sarah sat down and then patted the seat next to her. "Cal, I noticed that later your temper has been a bit short. Obviously yesterday is a good example, but even before that." Her eyes widened a bit at the expression on Cal's face, which must have been one of sincere worry. "I don't mean that you should be worried. Even when you lose your temper, you are very restrained. I mean, look at what happened with Vera. If you can even call that losing your temper, that is." She explained.
Cal nodded. "Yeah. I know. I'm sorry if I have been grumpy with you or anything, I hadn't noticed."
She shook her head. "No, you haven't been grumpy with me or anything. I just know that there is a reason for your shortened temper. Something is stressing you out, especially since you mentioned meeting Kent sometime between when we separated to go to sleep and when we met for breakfast. Have you been sleeping? It doesn't take a detective to guess that the cause might be the tournament."
He leaned back on the bench, looking out over the gorge. "I hadn't slept much that night. Normally it isn't that bad," He lied. "Thank you for thinking about me, but you don't have to worry about me. I'll be okay."
She turned to him, angry. "Don't pull that nonsense with me. Everybody gets stressed, and you are in a crazy situation. You need help, don't push me away."
He closed his mouth, which had been wide in shock, and then swallowed. "Sorry." He took a deep breath. "I just don't quite know the exact reason that I am so stressed. I don't want to worry people if it turns out that I just have stage fright and I am scared to go to the arena."
She laughed. "Yeah, Mister 'You don't want me to lose my temper' has stage fright. Good one." Cal had to admit that it was a good impression of him. He laughed too.
"You know what I mean. I'm stressed. Of course I'm stressed, but I don't want to go asking for help when I don't even really know what the problem is." He told her.
"That's part of the help, stupid." She punched his arm lightly. "I'm not here to solve all your problems, but at least I can help you figure out what they are and throw out some ideas for how to fix them."
He nodded. "Okay, fair point. I think you are already helping. Just taking a proper break is something that I should have done a while ago." He closed his eyes, leaned back, and felt the sun on his face.
He heard a movement, probably Sarah nodding and forgetting he couldn't see her, and then Sarah spoke up again.
"Good then. Make sure you talk to me about everything, okay? Don't just let the stress tear you up." She stood up and dusted off her pants. "Ready?"
They wanted to continue along the trail and see more of the gorge, but they had to head back to catch Josh's match. Kent's was a little later in the day. When they got back to the arena and took their seats, Kent had a concerned look on his face.
"Cal! Good, I am glad you didn't decide to stay out in the woods." He took a breath and tried to calm down a bit. "I heard from some people that the kids who were supposedly killed for being attuned to life and death weren't really killed. Some members of the UE kept it under wraps and kept them as an agent. You need to be really careful. They could use them to try to become leader. If they think that you're a threat, they will try to kill you." He spoke quickly.
"Where did you hear this?! How is no one else outraged about this?" Cal whispered back.
"My parents mentioned that I should be careful about it if I start doing very well at the tournament." He said.
Cal shrugged. "Well then I am very glad that I kept quiet about my abilities." He shook his head in disbelief. "How would they even..."
"I know. It's crazy to even think about it. We're lucky that they can't just compete in the tournament, since just killing the contestants would get them disqualified anyway." Kent told him.
Cal was finally snapped out of his paranoid thoughts by the horn that sounded the beginning of Josh's match.