Chapter 9: The Real Deal Part 2

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The music blared from the stage, Niki waited patiently in an empty room backstage, his body quivering in fear. As each performance came to an end, he knew his act was inching closer and closer- his eyes glued to the clock. He was so lost in thought that he didnt hear the door open and suddenly he felt a hand caress his shoulder.
"Niki? Are you alright?" Kostya said softly. He'd noticed him shaking uncontrollably as he sat in a chair, his eyes wandering off as well as his mind.
"Y-yeah!" Nikita responded, quickly plastering on a smile. Kostya stared at him, unconvinced.
"Nikita... you need to stop... lying to yourself." Niki looked up, it caught him off guard for a second. "Like seriously, Nikita, I know. You really dont want to do this do you?" Kostya whispered. He looked at the floor, ashamed he'd let Kostya see what he'd been concealing all week.

"Y-you did this...why, Nikita?" Kostya said, his voice trembling. "Because you didn't want to disappoint us. You were just too scared to spoil our fun." A single tear fell from Niki's eye as he hung his head down, hiding his emotions. "What have you gotten yourself into?"
"I don't know!" Niki yelled, his voice cracking through his emotions. Kostya almost jolted back. "Kostyantyn, I-I can't do this. I'm gonna fuck up, I'm gonna faint, I-I'm gonna vomit- probably all three. I'm a fucking mess, Kostyantyn, I can't get it together, I can't go on that stage, I can't- I can't-" Kostya swung down onto his knees, grabbed a hold of Nikita's cheeks and stared into his eyes- angrily but so desperately, he almost sounded like he was going to cry.
"Pull yourself together Nikita!"

That phrase seemed to echo in his mind as everything else fell silent. He'd remembered. He'd remembered the day that he was being held back by Benji and Ari, the way he wanted to lunge at Robin so badly, the way Nikita stopped him- how he calmed him down. His eyes stayed wide as they locked together. He didn't know how to react, they just remained silent as Nikita struggled to grasp any form of words, he just choked on his tears as they began to burst out uncontrollably. Kostya gasped, pulling him into a tight hug.
"Y-you're gonna be alright." He stammered. "They're g-gonna love you out there, they'll love you to pieces." Niki smiled widely through his rushing tears, never wanting to let go of Kostya.

Slam! The boys looked up.
"Was I uh... intruding on something?" It was Eduard. His performance had just come to an end, his body laced in sweat as he ripped off his leather jacket and sunglasses. "I'm fucking EXHAUSTED!" He groaned, pretending to not have noticed their situation. They stood up, Niki wiping any stray tears from his face and letting out a sniffle. Some other contestants entered the room, some fixing their hair for their upcoming acts while others cooled off after their's had just finished.
"Hey Kostya!" Saara called, popping her head around the door. Her speratic makeup caught the attention of the whole room. "You're up after Claudia and Isaura, and they're on now, I'd say you start getting ready."

He sighed, smiling, "Thanks Saara." As he got up, he patted Niki on the shoulder and flashed a reassuring glance. "They'll love you." He whispered before walking out of the room. Nikita stood up too, rushing out. He looked at the stage, peeking through the grand, red curtains: The girls' song came to an end before the audience applauded them and they leaned in for a romantic kiss. The main curtains closed and the couple walked off of the stage. He saw Kostya walk out with Tom and Fred- helping with carrying out the piano while Alex set up the fire stunt.
"So I'll light the gasoline when you get to the end chorus, but keep a bucket of water next to you, we don't want you coming out with third degree burns."
Kostya laughed and carefully set down the piano. Alex peeked her head around the curtains discreetly and nodded to Donny- sat in the booth opposite the stage. The curtains drew and a bright spotlight hit Kostya.

He started singing, his hands slowly gliding across the keys of the piano. Nikita- as well as the audience- watched, wide-eyed as the masterpiece cascaded from his lips. Then, it intensified, transitioning into a catchy chorus that seemed to spark up the whole room. It was his confidence, his voice, his aesthetic, his whole appearance seemed to attract the audiences attention. It was so... different.
Niki was entranced as he reached the build up to the end chorus- it seemed like the whole room went quiet while he sang. He caught glance with Niki, and for a second, he could've sworn he smiled before he averted his attention quickly back the audience.

That's when Alex lit the gasoline. The stage set alight in a thin streak of flames. The fire travelled across the line of gasoline before it hit the piano- the top setting completely in heavy flames. Kostya didn't even seem phased, concentrating on the tune projecting from the keys. Before he knew it, the song was over. The audience whistled and cheered as the curtains closed once again and Kostya quickly grabbed the bucket to douse the fire. He walked over to Niki, seeing him obviously observing his entire performance.
"How was it?" Niki asked quietly.
"Amazing!" Kostya cheered. "The adrenaline, the feeling, it makes you feel alive!"

They sat down, Niki pouring him a drink from the unoccupied drink stand.
"I think HatAri are up in a few minutes." He mentioned, carefully handing him the drink.
"I think you're up in a few minutes." Kostya replied, looking up at the small clock. "15 minutes give or take." Niki gulped sat this, biting his lip.
"I can do this." He whispered.
"That's the spirit!" He patted him on the back and went to change. He met up with the rest of the boys, Mikolas and Benji's performances already being over and done with and Ari getting ready to face the stage.
"I'm sweating through this makeup like crazy!" Ari sighed, gelling his hair back and tightening the straps on his boots; just in case. Matti and the gang called Ari over to get on the stage, he waved before he left the backstage.

It never really seemed like Ari's type of music but holy hell did it work. As they strutted across the stage under the neon lights, Ari seemed to be in the zone- a zone he'd never explored before, but it suddenly seemed perfect for him. The audience seemed to have very mixed opinions about them- some were sat, their jaws hanging in shock or simply confusion while the other half were up on their feet, dancing like there's no tomorow.

"Hatrid mun sigra!"

Ari dropped the mic dramatically as Einar ripped off his mask.
"Thank you, Euro High!" He screamed. Those were probably the first and possibly the last that most people would ever hear from Einar's lips. Ari walked up to the guys, shaking with adrenaline.
"Wow wee!" He yelled. "That...that was amazing!"
"We knew you'd like it." Klemens smiled.
"We just have to thank Tom for pairing us together." Matti added, wiping stray sweat from his forehead.
"Yeah, we totally shou-"
Klemens was cut off as he was barged by a tall student, decked out in a shiny navy tuxedo.
"Whoops, sorry." Robin smirked sarcastically. He waltzed on to the stage, the whole theatre going wild as he did. How they loved him out there, he was so popular, it was inevitable- especially since he was Swedish! The whole room was up and dancing in what felt like the first ten seconds of the song commensing. He was adored out there, and it wasn't all unfair since Robin seriously was talented; the boys themselves really enjoyed his stage presence but as he stepped off the real panic set in for them- Nikita was next.

The curtains closed as Alex and Tom rushed around, clearing the stage up for Niki. He slowly walked up, hearing Robin mutter as he did: "Break a leg." He felt like his every step echoed in his mind, his breathing too- heavy and shaky. He gulped, standing in the very centre of the stage, he suddenly felt like all that practice had slipped right out of his mind. What if he fucked up now? What if this was the day he humiliated himself so much that everyone would make fun of him 'til the last day of senior year? What if- what if? A bright light hit his face, taking him aback, he squinted- dazed and confused but then stone-cold shocked as he saw a sea of faces staring at him. He cleared his throat, closed his eyes and silently prayed for his life. This was it. There was no going back.

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