Lightning was enjoying his nap in the trailer. Three interviews in the row with two photoshoots and a business call from his agent had sucked all of his energy. The needed rest fell short when Mack's sudden voice called for him outside.
"Hey, Lightning! You have a guest!"
Lightning jolted himself awake. Storm was here? But the sun was still up. Lightning rolled his eyes in annoyance. They were supposed to see each other in secret. Either Storm had a bad memory or he couldn't wait till night time. Lightning opened the door and droved out.
"Storm, this is not the time-"
"Hello there, Lightning." It wasn't Storm, it was Strip "The King" Weathers, the former Piston Cup champion. Although he worked as Cal's crew chief, The King always managed to find time to check on Lightning. "Sorry for bothering your break."
"No, no, it's fine! I thought you were someone else," Lightning said politely.
"Jackson Storm, right? Strange since he's the reason why I wanted to talk to you."
Mack glanced at Lightning. "Should I...leave?" He gave a nod to the truck and Mack left them in privacy.
"Let me guess. Storm has been spreading some nonsense behind my back and you came here to inform me about it," Lightning assumed this was the case but The King shook his head.
"No, he hasn't said a bad word about you at all. Why do you think he would do that?"
"Because... It's Storm, it's his thing. Anyways, what about him?"
"That kid really is something. The racing world is not gonna be the same and I'm a bit concerned for Cal. I don't think he'll make it to the final race on this season," The King explained. Lightning had also seen the rookies replacing older racers at a rapid speed. Despite him acting indifferent to the change, hearing about Cal's situation made Lightning feel sorry for both him and The King.
"That's awful... Even I'm getting questions about retirement by the press. At least Dinoco believes in me," Lightning spoke with a hint of confidence. His sponsor kept on supporting him even though Lightning hadn't won a race for a while.
"You do know that Jackson Storm discussed with Tex a few days back?"
"What? No, I haven't been told." The panic was evident on Lightning's face. What if Storm was the one with a master scheme to ensure Dinoco to fire Lightning? He was after the same sponsorship and now he was one step closer to it! Lightning couldn't believe it that he had let the rookie use his charm on him while plotting his doom behind his back.
"It's not what you think it is," The King reassured quickly. "Tex told me Storm had praised you as a racer. Said you deserve to stay 'cause you got what it takes. Tex took his words and that's why he hasn't brought up the topic about retirement."
Storm did what? Lightning let out a nervous laugh because he thought this was a bad joke. The King's collected expression stayed on and that's when Lightning understood that he was serious. Tex had actually considered firing him and Storm had possibly bought him more time. But why? The whole thing made no sense.
"I know it sounds crazy but he does treat you differently. Tell me, Lightning, what is going on between you and Storm?" The King asked with genuine curiosity. If only Lightning knew the answer to that question.
"Honestly, I dunno... I think he has some, uh, feelings for me. Another fan of mine too."
"Oh, well, that's interesting. How have you responded to this?"
"It's flattering," Lightning flashed a cocky smile, "He's so distracted by me. You should have seen us training earlier today."
"Uh-huh," The King hummed and narrowed his eyes to study him. "And you will take advantage of it, won't you?"
"What? Me? No! I wouldn't never," Lightning lied which was no use. The King had already read him like an open book. He shook his head in disappointment.
"Lightning, he might be a threat when it's about racing, but he's young and inexperienced when it's about age. If he truly likes you, let it be. Don't mess with his head."
"Mr The King, I respect your advice, but this is not just a competition, this is my life. Storm is not a literal child and he has proven how nasty he can be to others. Have you heard all the stuff he had blurted on the TV? I'm willing to give him a lesson, that's all," Lightning explained casually.
The King was looking more upset to hear this. He had a suspicion that this wouldn't end well in the future. He was saddened to see Lightning's blindness to his own arrogance, the trait he still possessed after all these years. "I hope you're not going too far with this."
"Yeah, just a little fun, no big deal," Lightning lied again. "Anything else you wanna tell me?"
"No. I wish you luck for tomorrow," The King said bluntly and turned away, not caring to interact anymore. Lightning frowned at himself. Great, now he managed to upset his former idol. Mr The King acted as a father figure sometimes and Lightning appreciated it even though he found the lecturing irritating.
Mack suddenly popped up behind the trailer.
"AAH!" Lightning jumped and faced him. "What?!"
"Sorry, didn't mean to scare ya. Dinoco called."
"Dinoco-? Mack, you should've let me speak to them! Was it important?"
"Nah, they are just worried about the pit crew once again. Tex promised to arrange you new ones before the season ends. By the way, you better get more rest. You look pretty tense."
"I'm no longer tired. I'll go to take a drive around the beach instead."
Mack was baffled. "This is new. You don't usually do that. Did he have bad news to tell?"
"Not really. I'll be back before the sunset. See ya, pal."
Lightning took his leave for the exit. He needed to clear his head before seeing Storm tonight. If what The King had told was the truth, then Lightning owed Storm a favour. He wanted to believe that he was correct and the rookie cared only about Piston Cup, making the whole crush thing false. He would discover Storm's true intentions in a few hours and Lightning knew just the way for it.