35 - There

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"Mm . . . not there."

"Yes, here."

"No, d-don't—"

"I have to, otherwise it won't feel better."

"Wait wait wait, Rokim, your fingers—"

"My fingers are where they're supposed to be."

"But, ah—it hurts!"

"Bear with it for a while!"

"Rokim!" I groaned, jerking away from him. "My god, do you not know how to give a massage?"

He rolled his eyes. "You're such a baby."

I scowled and rubbed my shoulders. "Your hands are literally half the size of me. You don't need to press so hard." 

"If I don't, then the knots won't come out."

"Ugh." I moved away from him, putting my hands in the air defensively. "I literally just wanted to get rid of my tension. It hasn't even been five minutes since we won the fricking ecomp, Kimmy. Remember that? Remember when we won?"

He grinned and mussed my hair, a move which I couldn't manage to evade. "I remember." His grin broadened, and my eyes went wide as he wrapped his arms around me in a bear hug, lifting me clean off the ground.

"Rokim! Put me down!" I half-laughed as he spun me. I caught Prof and Adrian's whirling faces as they emerged from the Evaluation Room, Rian and Lisa in tow.

Rokim set me back on my feet, still grinning from ear to ear. He slung an arm around my shoulder, and I couldn't keep a laugh from bubbling out of me. His smile was infectious. Prof and Adrian surveyed the two of us amusedly as Lisa skipped over and enveloped me in a hug.

"You guys did so good!" she squealed, turning to face Rian too. I looked up at him distractedly, drugged on my own happiness, only to see him scowling darkly. I sucked in breath.

Devil.

Lisa frowned when she saw his face. "Come on, lighten up, Rian!" she teased, nudging his side. "You just made history! Celebrate!" Her eyes lit up with mischief. "Celebrate the look on Vanessa's smug face!"

He simply crossed his arms, taking no note of her words. My eyes immediately went to his forefinger, which began to tap on his bicep. "It was less my doing and more Hanna's, really." His words were kind, but his voice was ice.

"But still," Adrian interjected, his eyes fixed on Rian's tapping just like mine were. He looked worried. "Didn't you guys say one of those judges threatened to give you a zero?" He frowned and exchanged glances with Prof, who also furrowed his brow in confusion. "How'd you get him to back off?"

I frowned too, glancing at Rian perplexedly. "You were talking to him earlier, weren't you?" I asked, ignoring the way his eyes roved over Rokim's arm on my shoulders. "What did you say?"

He slid a hand in his pocket, withdrawing something dark. I realized it was what he'd had in his hand while speaking to Waddles up on the panel: his phone.

We all watched as he scrolled through a few screens and finally stopped to press a button. I nearly jolted as I heard Waddles' nasally voice pour out of the speaker. "I'm glad to see you're as disrespectful as ever, Ms. Jordan. That way, it will seem much less surprising when I give you a score of zero during your evaluation."

Rian pressed the button again to stop it, glancing over all our stunned faces dispassionately. "When I saw him coming, I figured he had nothing good to say. So I recorded him," he divulged, shrugging. "I said if he was anything but impartial I'd release his threat and get him kicked off the board."

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