Cal woke up to his phone buzzing on his bedside table, the light from the screen illuminating the interior of his dorm room. He rolled over and checked it.
Cal was scheduled for the first match of the day today. He groaned in frustration. They normally gave you a day or two of notice. He got dressed quickly and ran out the door, sending a text to his friends so that they could see the match if they were already awake.
He ran through the courtyard, frustrated not only that he had such short notice, but also that he was missing this time of day. Looking around he could see the sun rising, the light shining off the morning dew. The soft pink of the sky overhead as he entered the arena.
He didn't have time to check if any of his friends got his message before he had to go down to the arena. He was lucky that the notification woke him up. Would he be disqualified if he slept through a match?
If Cal had been worried about that thought, it was forgotten as soon as he saw who his opponent was.
"Morning." Kent said to him across the field.
"No. You've got to be kidding me." Cal said in shock. Kent just shrugged.
Cal focused. He needed to be faster than Kent, shut him down quick, and end it before anyone got hurt. He could feel the sound of the horn going through the air far before it reached either of their ears, but Kent must have felt it too since he was an air elemental. Cal was going to use the head start to his advantage, but why hadn't Kent? Was Kent going easy on him?
"Sorry." Cal mouthed to Kent grimly. He sunk Kent's feet into the ground below them and locked him in, moments later covering it up by making it look like he froze his feet to the ground with ice.
Kent started blasting away the ice with his air, but Cal needed to get him out of the ring anyway. He didn't want to win by hurting Kent. As soon as Kent was free, Cal froze his hands together and then ran full-speed towards Kent.
Kent easily dodged, now that his feet were free, and sped around to behind Cal. What he hadn't seen however, was that Cal had only sprinted towards him to get Kent to do this exact thing. Now that Kent was speeding around behind him, he found that the entire ground was covered in a layer of polished ice and slid very quickly towards the edge. He lifted himself up with wind, but now Cal had the upper hand and was able to push him out of the circle.
The horn sounded and most of the crowd cheered, since Kent was seen as the strongest ever since he beat Curtis. Some of the crowd was quieter though. Mainly Vera's friends, who didn't want to see Cal win, and Cal's friends, who didn't want to see Kent lose. Cal helped Kent up and shook his hand.
"Sorry about all of that. Good match. Well actually," He interrupted himself. "Did you go easy on me?"
Kent shrugged. "Not really. I went easier on Curtis even. I did try to make it more even, if you were really just an ice elemental, so that you weren't forced to beat your friend and also reveal your powers and maybe get killed."
Cal grabbed him in a strong hug. There was a pain in his throat that he didn't know the source of. "Thank you. This means a lot to me. You really saved me from a few things by doing that."
They made their way back to their seats.
"I can't believe you guys got matched. And first thing in the morning!" Josh argued with the world.
"Didn't you get my text?" Sarah asked Cal.
He shook his head and pulled out his phone. "I had just woken up when I sent out that I had a match. I went straight here, I didn't have time." Sarah had tried to warn him, apparently Kent had gotten up much earlier to train and saw the matching, but didn't realize until I sent out a text saying that I had the same time.
Sarah hugged him, then hugged Kent. He could have sworn that he heard her whisper a thank you to Kent, but he couldn't be sure.
Josh looked at Kent. "I can't believe you lost to Cal! I hope you didn't go easy on him or something, I trained with you and I know you should have kicked his ass."
Cal laughed. Kent started to deny it, but Cal spoke up. "He did go easy on me. I noticed it when the buzzer went off. I could feel that it had gone off through the air, but hadn't reached us yet. I was going to use the head start to my advantage, but I realized that Kent should have felt it too. He hadn't moved yet." Cal explained the rest and Kent's reasoning for it and Sarah and Josh thanked him again and we headed out to celebrate, since technically we both had won.
As they approached the restaurant, Kent hung back a bit. Sarah and Josh hurried in to get some food, but Cal stayed back with Kent.
"What's wrong?" Cal asked.
"Nothing. You can just go on inside, I will be in in a bit." Kent replied, not looking at Cal.
Cal followed his eyes and saw a large dark luxury car that had been parked across the street slowly drive up and park a few feet away from them. Two large men got out of the front doors, but then a well dress couple climbed out of the back.
They walked up to Kent. "I can not believe you. First, that sad display, and now you are hanging out with the one who beat you?" The man spoke. "Get in the car."
Kent made to walk in the car, but Cal put his hand to Kent's chest and stopped him. He walked up to the man, guessing that these were Kent's parents.
"I think it's time you learned something." Cal spoke. "Your son is already a better man than you will ever be. He is under my protection now. If you want to speak with him, you can do it through me. If you want to go to your expensive lawyers and have them rip me apart, remember that your son is an adult and can make his own decisions. He isn't trapped with you anymore."
The two looked aghast. They clearly hadn't expected Cal to even listen to their conversation, much less but in and make statements like that.
"Do you understand?" Cal spoke with fury.
"Do you know who I am?!" The man said with bewilderment.
"I know exactly who you are," Cal stepped closer, invading the man's personal space. "You are a worthless monster with no respect for others. Now go along and continue living in your deluded fantasy." Cal fought not to shout at them now.
The man looked furious. "Show him what I mean." The man spoke with a vicious tone. Nothing happened. He turned around to his two elemental bodyguards who had their hands, arms, legs, and feet frozen together while Cal was talking, and a small wind had turned them to be facing the other way so that had no line of sight.
Cal smiled a terrible smile. "Now you understand." He put a finger on the man's chest, but now looked at Kent's mother as he spoke. "Now run along. Don't ever come back, and if you have something to say to Kent, I will be waiting. If I ever find out that you have done anything I don't approve of, and I will find out, you will find yourself in a very unfortunate situation."
Cal thought about so many ways he could scare them further. He could nudge the father with his finger and have him fall backwards, slipping on ice. He could catch him inches away from falling on a large spike made of ice head first. Really show him that Cal is the only thing between him and death. It's how they should feel after what they have done to Kent. He had heard more stories since the night he learned the truth. He learned about how the father treated people, how he punished people, how he...
Cal stopped himself. He took a deep breath as the two ran to the car. Cal almost forgot to release the two bodyguards. As they drove away, Cal fought to stop his hands from shaking. He had let himself go too far. Even if it was only in his thoughts. This was wrong.
Kent seemed as conflicted as Cal, but definitely wanted to wrap Cal in a hard hug. After seeing Cal's face, and clearly putting the pieces together about things that even Cal didn't understand yet, Kent settled for thanking Cal.
They headed inside and ate with the others. Conversation was slow at first, both Kent and Cal a bit shaken, but eventually Josh got a laugh out of them and the conversation turned much lighter. All in all, it was one of the best dinners that Cal had during the first tournament.