Chapter 7: Natural Born Talent

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"Benji I uh..." Robin began to trail off, his eyes wandering around the room insecurely.
Benji and him stood in front of each other in a corner of the vast drama studio, trying to malgamate apologies to each other.
"I'm sorry, Robin." Benji whispered. Robin looked up, staring at him. "Look, I may have accidentally... said something about you. I should've  thought about it first y'know?"
"Yeah." Robin uttered. "Dick move."
"Well maybe next time you should not be an asshole to me and my friends. Just saying."
"Yeah, about that. I'm actually really sorry for doing that. And for doing awful things to your friends in general. I dont know... I feel like may be this whole popularity thing has just... changed me somehow. "
"I-it's okay. I think we've sorted everything!" Benji said, looking over at Mikolas- who was smiling at them. Benji went in for a handshake but was suddenly pulled into a tight hug.
"Too much?" Robin asked as Benji was awkwardly squished in Robin's arms.

"What was that all about?" Nikita asked as they walked back home.
"What do you mean? Robin's awkward hug?" Benji laughed. "I don't know, maybe he felt way too keen to say sorry. How much did you ease him into it Miki?"
"A lot more than I thought I did apparently." He smirked.
"Oh my God, I bet he likes you!" Ari squealed.
"Um no. Even if he did, I couldn't care less about him. I've got this really cute neighbour that I've got my eye on."
Kostya jolted up.
"Wait a second. Felix?!"
"Uh huh." Benji wolf whistled, causing the group to laugh and join in. As they took their separate corners, it left the guys to walk home separately: Ari and Mikolas walking left, Benji waiting at a nearby bus stop, Niki going straight forward and Kostya turning right. That was that for the boys as their day ended pretty swell.

The next day- another dress rehearsal: Just a few more days and the talent show was going live in front of the vast school audience. Tension was in the air as the contestants prepared themselves for the real thing, the whole school's wide eyes tracing their every move as they poured their hearts out in to their natural born talent. Nitika gazed at himself in the dressing room mirror, his soft, brown eyes staring at the reflection as he frowned. Could he do this? The real show seemed oh so close and his confidence and ambition was fading away. He felt sickly, awkward, anxious when he picked up the white button down from the floor. He hastily stared at his bare chest, thin and frail- he gulped. "I can't do this..." He whispered, pressing his head against the mirror.

Knock knock knock. Niki stood up, staring at the door.
"Can I come in?" A familiar voice called from outside. Kostya. Niki gasped.
"Uh I'm just getting-" Kostya burst in regardless, holding up their diy rose back piece.
"I finished the..." He was surprised to see Nikita standing shirtless in the middle of the room, his shirt laying on the floor. Niki flushed deep scarlet. "Should I just-"
"No no, it's fine!" Niki laughed nervously, quickly pulling the shirt over his head. "I was just changing!"
"You've been in here for 15 minutes now. Are you okay?" Kostya asked, clearly concerned- which made Niki even more nervous.
"Yeah yeah, I swear I just got..." Kostya gazed into his eyes caringly. "...side tracked."

Kostya helped him get the gory back piece onto Niki's back, fixing it through the cut out in the back of the shirt. Once it was nicely secured, he spun round in the mirror to check it out. "How do I look?" He smiled, looking over the back of his shoulder and in to the reflection of the tall mirror.
"Like a romantic lover boy gone psycho or something." Giggled Kostya. "But honestly," he reassured him, "You look really awesome."
"Like you?" Niki suddenly burst out. Kostya quickly looked at him, surprised at first but then he started to laugh.
"Awesome huh? Is that what you think of me?" He smirked.
"I guess so..." He shyly responded.

They walked out, meeting Ari- who was decked out in his Hatari-style outfit.
"These boots are killing my ankles!" He complained. "But hell am I tall!"
"Where're the others?" Kostya questioned.
"Well Miki's working with the dancers and Benji's trying to get his pyrotechnics to work. He needs some red and white strobe lights of some sort." Ari said, trying to itch his face without messing up his makeup. "He's not doing too well, he's never been too great at Technology." They looked over at Mikolas, expecting to see him dancing but instead he was walking towards them with Loïc.

"How's it going?" Loïc asked as he approached the guys, an iced coffee in hand.
"Great!" Ari cheerfully responded. "How's the dance?"
"It's going pretty well. Mikolas did insist we added some of his moves though." He lifted his fingers up, gesturing air quotes as he said. "They're called "Fortnite Dances" or something" Immediately, the guys rolled their eyes at him.
"How predictable." Niki sighed, glaring at the giggling czech.
"Honestly," Loïc began, the ice swishing in his coffee as he moved his hands. "I'm so excited for the live shows. I don't know why I didn't think of doing this before. This is hella fun!"
"Hey!" Benji yelled as he ran over to the group, breathlessly. "I got it to work! I'm all set up for the real thing!"

Niki began to quiver- all this talk of the real, upcoming live show made him feel ill. Just the thought of performing in front of the school made his stomach turn. Yeah, he'd performed to the contestants before during rehearsal, but there were hundreds and hundreds of student that were going to see him. Watch him. Judge him. He felt himself beginning to sweat, his mind rushing off to a million and one different possibilities. What if he messed up? What if he fell and everyone laughed and jeered? What if no one liked his voice and he was booed and heckled off of the stage?

His breathing began to quicken, he felt like he was gasping for air, he felt like his mind was twisting, his stomach turning. His vision began to worsen, speckles of black imprearing his sight- faces and objects became blurred. His ears rang, all noises becoming faint and washed out- so much so that he was barely able to comprehend the sound of the boys worriedly calling out to him. In fact the last thing he heard was Kostya calling his name- "Nikita! Nikita! Are you alright?! Look at me Nikita!"- before he felt his eyes roll into the back of his head and his limbs go completely limp.

Hey! Sorry for the long wait, school's a real distraction. I thought I'd do this know rather than the weekend just to be productive and all. I hope you liked it!
- Ellie x

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