Emilia, being her usual sporty self, had challenged Angel to a bout at one time or another.
She knew Angel had been practicing some skills of his own, kickboxing classes on weekends or any free afternoons (though there weren't many). He figured self defense was practical, would help him some on his feet, but he never meant for it to lead to any actual fights. Especially not against someone as seasoned as Emilia.
He still agreed, however, albeit needing a little push from the brunette ("C'mon, just a little sparring between friends, nothin' serious!") and now he felt up to his ears in conflict. Angel never believed in hitting girls, and his mother had always drilled the idea into his head to be sure. The only time that it was deemed acceptable was in life or death situations, where it was fair to defend yourself. Otherwise it was his place to protect. He didn't tell Emilia as much, already foreseeing her response. Angel knew how she was, Angel knew who she was. Emilia could take a punch like nobody's business and would likely be laughing his old fashioned moral quandaries out of the room.
As such, Angel kept his qualms to himself. It wasn't like he could speak to Emilia in the days leading up to their "match" anyway. They only seemed more and more tense by the hour. Angel would see Emilia in the halls or dancing for a group, and whenever their eyes met she would only smirk. Never a single word. Was this her way of intimidating him? Did she not allow herself to talk to him until the match? If there was some regulation as to what you could or couldn't do before a bout, Angel was clueless of it. But he followed Emilia's lead, staying silent and only acknowledging her when he had to.
It was a warm Saturday evening when Angel stepped into the ring to face his friend.
Emilia leaned against the corner of the ring, almost too comfortable, eyes closed and smiling like the match was already done. She'd somehow managed to bring Aubrey in as an unenthusiastic referee, and she leaned against the outside of the ring with her arms across her chest, clearly displeased.
Emilia opened her eyes, still smiling at Angel as he spoke.
"What are the rules?"
Emilia leaned over to catch Aubrey's eye.
Aubrey rolled her eyes at Emilia's sing-song tone, but turned to face the ring regardless.
"3 round limit, 3 minutes each. Kicking is allowed, no grappling, keep it clean."
She eyed Emilia with her last words. The brunette was too busy smirking at Angel to notice. The rules were fair enough, Angel figured that even if he couldn't win he could endure a few rounds with Emilia. Maybe he could even turn up a draw and get away with his pride unscathed. At least in that case he could leave the ring with Emilia's respect and hopefully not have to go through another week like this one.
But, of course, those kinds of expectations were unrealistic.
"Sounds fair. But I was thinking we could mix it up a little."
Emilia finally moved her weight from the ropes. She stood, stretching her arm across her chest.
"'Mix it up'?"
"Yeah. I noticed you looked a little un-involved in all this. Fighting for nothing is fun and all, but a few stakes makes it a little more interesting."
Once she was done stretching, Emilia stood akimbo. Her face read like she had the best kept secret in the universe and was finally allowed to share it with the world.
"I've decided that we aren't just fighting for the sake of fighting. Instead, we're going to fight over her."
She pointed in Aubrey's direction. Angel looked over, almost disbelieving, but the ginger only rolled her eyes at Emilia's words. No objections came up. If Aubrey was agreeing with this then the stakes were suddenly higher than Angel simply attempting to preserve his pride.
"That's the kinda face I like to see before a fight."
Emilia drew Angel's attention back to her.
"I'm glad you're finally taking this as seriously as you should. Hopefully you weren't planning on holding back, I'd hate for our princess to feel insulted."
Angel found himself speechless. Things had taken a turn so quickly that he was caught up in the tide, confused about how serious exactly he should be about her words. They were fighting for Aubrey. What did that mean? Was the redhead finally going to acknowledge him seriously if he won? Angel liked the thrill of the chase as much as anyone, but seeing as the end of the year was quickly approaching and the ever growing threat of prom was on the horizon things didn't have much time left to get serious.
"So, you ready?"
Emilia pulled her gloves on. She was serious from the beginning.
Angel was forced to face her, forced to focus on what was in front of him. Whether he was clear on what his winnings would be or not, now was not the time for apprehension. After they came forward to be just out of range of one another, the bell rang. The last thing Angel saw was the ceiling, or maybe it was stars, because Emilia's uppercut had to have knocked him into outer space.
Angel went to the prom with just friends that year.
"Finally decided to redeem yourself?"
It was a few years later, but much the same position. Emilia prepared herself at one corner of the ring while Angel stood at the other. Aubrey stood at the edge, outside of the ring, preoccupied with her phone next to the newest spectator. Bodie had been fully updated on the situation and was completely behind his friends being able to settle their long-time dispute.
"Kind of. Figured I'd even the playing field this time, too."
"'Even the playing field'?"
She raised an eyebrow.
"That's right. Guess who we're fighting for this time."
There was something magical about seeing that familiar look cross Emilia's face.