page 8

"So you have to at least pretend that you can dance." he continued, his eyes back to their usual sharpness.

I sighed internally, but I managed to regain my composure by focusing on just how much his stuck-up attitude bothered me. 

"Fine." I replied, my jaw set, "Let's do it again."

That time I let my determination to succeed control me. I'd come too far to let something like being shown up stop me.

My steps were clean, my footing sure and my turns precise. When I reached the end of what I had been taught Raphael gave me a small applause.

"Much better." he said, "There's just one thing."

I groaned.

"What?"

"Have some fun with it." he said, "Don't just make it technical; make it natural."

Oh, so now he was telling me to be natural. The sandwich ninja with a ferrari and a candlestick was telling me to be natural.

"Whatever you say, sunshine." I muttered, finding my water bottle and taking a swig.

"One more time." he clapped, looking at me expectantly.

My foot started throbbing right on cue. 

"Come on," I whined, "We went over it a hundred times." 

"A hundred and one makes all the difference." he assured, "Now, quickly!"

I walked over, scowling and started to go through the steps again. It was mid-spin that I had to stop, wincing as my foot sent pain rippling up my leg.

"Shit!" I hissed, turning and hopping towards my bag.

Sutton could say nothing to convince me to stay a second longer. If I sprained something my life was over.

"Wait, Abromovich, let me get a look at that foot!"

I paused in my escape, long enough to get myself herded onto a bench along the wall.

Raphael knelt down, taking my foot in his hands and inspecting it. I felt strangely self-conscious, wondering if the deep purple nailpolish really had been too daring.

After a couple moments he put pressure on a point somewhere in the middle of my sole, giving me a sudden sharp pain.

I cursed but soon afterwards I felt a warm relief spread in my leg.

Sutton let me test my foot and I found it to be good as new.

"How'd you do that?" I asked, wondering why I hadn't learned the technique.

"It's a secret." he said seriously, standing, "Handed down to me by a long line of Tibetan monks."

"Very funny." I replied, narrowing my eyes.

He offered me a hand and I took it, pulling myself to my feet.

"Think about it," he explained, "If I told you everything I knew you wouldn't need me at all. It would only be a matter of time before I was out of a job."

I realized awkwardly that my hand was still in his and pulled away, clearing my throat.

"You could probably retire now, couldn't you?" I asked, doing my best to hide my mortification.

"I could." he shrugged, "But I don't want to. How many people can get a sandwich thrown at them every day?"

"Hey! That was once!" I insisted, getting just a sliver of a smile out of him.

"It feels like it was just yesterday," he said in mock nostalgia, "Oh wait, that's because it was!"

"I'll throw soup at you next." I replied, laughing and getting my things, "You have any preferences?"

"Just be here on time." he called, getting me to roll my eyes.

What a bother. 

The End

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