George Ryan Ross and Cassady Drina Waldorf. ♥

"George," I repeated, determined not to give into those gorgeous brown eyes.

"Ryan," He argued.

I shook my head. "It's George. G-E-O-R-G-E!"

"No, Cassady," He emphasized my full first name, "It's Ryan. R-Y-A-N!"

"That's not the same!" I complained. "Shortening your first name is a lot better than replacing it!" Honestly, I didn't care that he was now using his middle name as his first. I was just worried that I was losing my best friend to his band. I thought about the days the band would practice in one of the boys' garages. I smiled to myself, remembering how I would always watch them and tease them about how they would never make it. Now here I was, saying goodbye to the boy I've secretly loved since pre-school as he and Panic! at the Disco left for L.A. to pursue their dreams.
"Cassady!" Ryan--yes, I caved--yelled, waving his hands in my face.

I returned to reality, curious as to how long I had been lost in thought. "Wha--Oh, sorry...George," I added with a smirk.

"Stop it!" He whined.

"No, you stop it!"

"You stop!"

"You st--" My words were cut off by Ryan's sweet lips crushing mine. I didn't kiss back, for I was too shocked to even move a muscle.

Ryan pulled away after one too-short minute. "I--I'm sory. I couldn't help myself. You're just so...so..."

Now it was my turn to interrupt. "Please don't leave me, Georgie," I whispered as I hugged him. Tears began to form in my eyes.

"Sorry, Addy," He pulled away so he could look me in the eyes, "But I have to."

"Dee.." I grumbled and started to lose my focus. My eyes wandered to the TV. My favorite Rugrats episode was on...

He took my face in his hands. "Not unless you call me Ryan."

"Anything for you...Ryan," I smiled, letting a few tears escape.

"Don't forget me, Dee"

"How could I?" I asked, making him smile.

He kissed me one last time and started to walk back to his house. "Wait!" I called, ran to my room, grabbed my favorite stuffed animal, and hurried back to the front door. I handed the worn-out cat to him.

"You're giving me Mittens?"

I nodded and wiped away my tears. "Good luck."

"Remember, I'll be back as soon as I can!" He shouted, disappearing into the darkness.

*********

He did not come back as soon as he could've.

Ryan and I stayed in touch for the first few months. He gushed about new songs he wrote, "amazingly awesome" performances at clubs, and all the fun he was having.

Then the band finally caught on.

Ryan stopped returning my phone calls, and I was convinced that he was just too busy to spend every moment of every day talking with me. Yet, somewhere deep inside of me, I couldn't help but think he no longer cared.

Eventually I just withdrew from reality, always listening to Ryan's songs (ones that he had written for me or because of something we did together) and pretending that he was right there singing them to me.

My parents became very worried. At first they thought I had some kind of mental illness because sometimes I would imagine that Ryan and I were having a conversation, when I was really just talking to myself. They made me get some tests done, and it turns out that I have nothing more than an extreme feeling of incompletion.

A little over two years after Ryan left, it was my eighteenth birthday. But what's the point of living if I no longer have someone to live for?

My parents took me out to dinner, and when we finished eating, they handed me a plain white envelope. Inside was a Panic! at the Disco concert ticket and backstage pass. You gotta love rich parents.

I was utterly speechless. "I...I...Thanks," I said and gave my mom and dad a smile that was about as real as I was completely over Ryan.

"The concert's tonight," My mom explained. "That's why we came here so early; so I could take you shopping before the show."

"But..But..." I tried to come up with an excuse to not go to the concert. Seeing Ryan now would only make me more upset. "Okay." Afterall, I don't want to hurt my mom's feelings.

We went to the mall, where I bought a short black dress, a grey sweater to go over it, silver ballet flats, and a small black clutch purse. Personally, I think my outfit's a little over the top--for a concert, at least.

Later we drove home so I could change and get ready, By the time we were in the parking lot near the stadium, I was so nervous that my hands were sweaty and shaky, and I swear you could see my heart pounding through my dress.

My mom dropped me off, and I asked a nearby security guard how to get backstage. He showed me the way, then left. I hesistated, then knocked on the black door.

A really big man opened the door, and I showed him my pass. He nodded and led me to where the guys were. The man walked away, and I coughed once so they knew I was there.

"Dee? Is that you?" Brendon asked, setting down his plastic guitar. I smiled and he came over to give me a hug. He playfully linked arms with me and brought me to the couch. "You guys remember Dee., right?"

Jon and Spencer--who had both cut their hair--never took their eyes off their game and spoke in unison. "Yup."

The smile never left my face. "So is this how you guys prep for a concert?"

Spencer nodded. "We play Guitar Hero, and Ryan does voice warm-ups. Each are equally painful to the ear."

"Boys will be boys..." I said, becoming happier each second I spent with my old friends. Other than the haircuts, they haven't changed a bit. Knowing that, I only got more impatient to see Ryan. The Ryan who wouldn't change his ways, even if they were illegal. The Ryan who broke my heart several times, yet I still love him. The Ryan I can hardly live without. My Ryan.



*********


I looked up to see all the guys staring at me. Their eyes practically popped out of their sockets. I blushed. "I'm a little over-dressed, aren't I?"

"No, you look great," Brendon said.

"Yeah, totally hot," Jon agreed.

"Well..."Spencer began. He's always the honest one. "Maybe your outfit is a bit too much..."

I sighed. "My mom wants my birthday to be as special as possible...I suppose she was just trying to be nice...But do you have anything else I can wear?"

The guys looked at each other. "Ryan," They said together.

The very name sent chills down my spine. "Wh--What?"

"Well, you guys are, like, the same size, so just borrow an outfit from him," Jon said.

"But he's--" I don't want to wear guy clothes...

"Trust me, he'll have something." Brendon gently grabbed my wrist and led me down the hall. My heart beat faster and faster with each step closer to Ryan.

The second Brendon opened the door, I chickened-out. "No, Brendon, please don't make me--" I begged as he dragged me into the room.

He just ignored me. "Look who came to visit!" He announced to the boy sitting on the couch who looks nothing like I expected. There's no way he's my Ryan.

His hair was cropped short, straight in the front, sides, and back, and spiky on top, and it's no longer black. Instead, it's chocolate brown, just like his eyes. Just below his eye is some random design done with yellow eye shadow and black eye liner. The other eye's mostly covered by his hair. He has a red vest on over a white dress shirt, and he's wearing black fingerless gloves. A white electric guitar is resting on his legs, which are covered with black skinny jeans. Next to him is a strangely familiar--and extremely old--stuffed cat.

"Georgie?" I asked in a small voice. He half-smiled. "Is it really you?"

"Yup. It's me Cassady, "He said, his smile becoming full.

"What happened to you?" His grin disappeared. "No! I mean, you look...Different...But I think I like it."

Brendon interrupted our conversation. "Dee needs something to wear. Her mom picked her outfit..."

Ryan immediately understood. He knows how my mom gets whenever she has the chance to dress me up. He walked over to a rack filled with clothes and tossed me white skinny jeans, a purple shirt, and his grey Converse.
"Bathroom's down the hall," He said.

Then I suddenly remembered where the cat's from. "You still have Mittens," I said absently. Ryan smiled again.

"Yeah, he talks to it, too," Brendon explained, and Ryan looked down.

"Oh. Well, I'm going to go, um, change," I said, not believing that I'm awake. It's just a dream, I thought, And I'm just going to wake up screaming again.
Ryan's not even excited to see me. Some dream this is


*********


I sat down in my front row seat and waited for the show to start. When it did, I didn't recognize a single one of the songs. Looks like Ryan's changed a lot more than just his appearance. Now he's writing songs about lap dances, and wedding mishaps. He probably changed the way he feels about me, too. Well, that's just great...

About halfway through "Time to Dance"--that's what the person next to me said it's called--my phone began to vibrate, and I decided to answer it, even though I didn't recognize the number.

I stepped away so I could hear whoever I would be talking to. I pressed the green send button and answered. "Hello?"

Because I had horrible reception, all I caught was, "Sorry to inform...Terrible accident...Parents dead."

As soon as I heard the last two words, my phone slipped out of my hand and hit the cement, making the battery fall out...Not that I cared.

"Okay everyone, we'll be taking a ten-minute break," Brendon announced, "Be right back."

Then a few seconds later, Ryan appeared next to me. "What's wrong, Addy Bear?" He asked, calling me by my old nickname.

"Everything," I replied, surprised by how calm my voice sounded. It must've been because I was so numb. I couldn't make sense of anything that had just happened.

"What do you mean?" Ryan picked up the pieces of my phone and put it back together.

"My parents," My voice was just a whisper now; awareness was beginning to seep through me, trickling like acid through my veins, "They're gone." Then my knees gave out, and Ryan caught me as i started to fall and held me tight. At least his hugs haven't changed, I thought to myself.

"Come on, let's bring you back here again," He said, guiding me as we walked to behind the stage. He let go of me when we were inside, too soon, as usual. "I'll get you something to drink," Ryan said, and I collapsed on the couch.

"Best birthday ever," I grumbled.

"Why is that?" Brendon sat on my legs.

"Get off me, fatass," I said, not caring if his feelings were hurt or not.

"And if I don't?

"You get a bottle of ice-cold water on your head," Ryan threatened.

"Fine then," Brendon muttered. "What are you doing here anyway?"

Ryan handed me a water, and I sat up, then he sat down next to me. I put my head on his shoulder, completely ignoring Brendon's question. Instead, I closed my eyes and sank deep into unconsciousness.


*********


"That's terrible," I heard Brendon say. I kept my eyes closed and acted like I was still asleep so I could hear the part of the guys' conversation I hadn't already missed.
"And on her birthday," Spencer added.
"Well, what are we going to do with her?" Jon asked.
"I'm not sure," Ryan replied. "I just feel so bad for her..."
I sat up, pretended to yawn, and rubbed my eyes. Brendon immediately came over to hug me. "They're really gone, aren't they?" My voice was blank with disbelief.
They all nodded, and I tried to breathe normally. I needed to concentrate, to find a way out of this nightmare. So I layed back down on Brendon's lap and squeezed my eyes shut. A few minutes passed, and I opened one eye to see four guys staring at me like I was insane.
I quickly jumped up and tried to walk, then started to fall again because I didn't even realize how dizzy I was, but I was caught by three pairs of arms that gently brought me back to the couch.
"Do you need a ride home?" Ryan asked kindly.
I shook my head to answer his question and to try to clear my thoughts. "It's probably not very safe for me to be alone...But if you want to get rid of me that badly, I'll just walk and try my best not to get killed on the way home." Actually, getting hit by a bus didn't sound so bad right now.
"Who said I wanted to get rid of you?"
"You didn't have to say anything..." I mumbled, and Ryan frowned.
"Well, we can take you to your house, you can get your stuff, and you can stay in the hotel with us," Brendon offered, and Ryan nodded in agreement.
"I don't want to be a burden..."

"I'm fine with it," Jon spoke up.
"Me, too," Spencer agreed.
"I'd love for you to come with us," Said Brendon.

"Yay! I love sleepovers!" Ryan exclaimed before I could even look at him.

I attempted a smile and, now that my head had stopped spinning, stood up. "Don't forget your dress," Brendon reminded me. Guilt pooled in my stomach as I nodded and walked robotically to the room where I had left the outfit my mom had been so excited to buy for me...And I hardly even appreciated it. I knowI wasn'tthe best daughter, but did my parents have to die on my birthday? They were the last people that really cared about me, now they're gone. Ryan, Jon, Spencer, Brendon...They would be gone soon, too.
Love, life, meaning....It's all over.


*********


After picking up some things from my house, we went to the hotel, checked in, and went to the top floor. Our suite was gigantic, but I hardly noticed.
"Let's check out the pool!" Brendon suggested excitedly.
"Did you bring a swimsuit?" Ryan asked me.
I nodded. "Just in case."
"Do you wanna come with us?"
"Sure. Why not."
We changed our clothes, and we walked to the jacuzzi. "We should play Truth or Dare," Jon's voice interrupted the silence that was probably very awkward, I was just too dazed to realize it. Everyone nodded. "Okay, I'll go first. Dee, truth or dare?"
I looked up when I heard my name. "Dare."
"I dare you to jump in the pool."
"Okay." I was already numb, so it didn't really matter what he wanted me to do.
"Dee, that water's freezing cold.
I shrugged, stood up, ran, and dove into the pool. Jon was right; the water was as cold as ice. But I swam until I was at the other end of the pool, then went back to the jacuzzi.
"How was it?" Ryan asked.
"R-r-really c-c-cold." I went under the surface of the hot water and sat next to Ryan. "Truth or dare?" I asked him.
"Truth."
I had so many questions for him, so I picked one of the top three. "Am I the only girl you've ever kissed?"
"Yes," He said, staring into my eyes. I stared back and smiled while everyone else burst out laughing.
A couple minutes later, Spencer, Jon, Brendon and Ryan all yawned. "Tired?" I wondered dully.
"Talk about an understatement," Brendon said and got out of the jacuzzi. "Let's go back to the room."
We all grabbed our towels and went upstairs. Everyone put their pajamas on and went to sleep. Ryan's bed was next to mine, and he was snoring softly. I stared at the TV screen for hours and wasn't even sure what was on. Then my eyes drooped shut, although I was still sitting, Indian-style, on my bed. I don't think I really fell asleep; I was just lost in a state of thoughtlessnes, holding with all my strength to the numbness that kept me from realizing what I didn't want to know.
Sometime later, I heard someone groan and climb out of bed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bathroom light turn on and the door shut.
Just a minute after, the door opened, and the light was shut off. "You're still awake?" A guy--which had to be either Jon, Ryan, Spencer, or Brendon--asked.
I turned my head and saw Ryan standing there, scratching his head and wearing a t-shirt and boxers. I looked back at the TV and nodded.
Ryan walked over to my bed and sat down next to me. "Can't sleep?" I shook my head, and he put his arms around me. I leaned on his shoulder. "I'm sorry," He said.
"Thanks," I whispered before dozing off.


*********


I woke up the following morning--although it had been morning when I fell alseep--laying on my bed with Ryan, whose arms were still wrapped around me. I lifted my head to look at the clock, and Ryan muttered something in gibberish, then squeezed me even tighter. After seeing that it was almost noon, I put my head back down on his chest.
"So I'm guessing you two slept really well," Brendon said.
"Actually, I didn't fall asleep until four in the morning."
"Ryan must be really good then."
"Stop that, you perv! Ryan and I didn't sleep together. Well, only in the literal sense of the word."
"Mm-hmm. Sure. Nice make up, by the way."
I looked at Ryan's face and saw that the design under his eye was smeared. Then I felt my cheek and, sure enough, some of the yellow eyeshadow had rubbed off on me.
"Ugh. Is it time to wake up already?" Ryan asked with his eyes still shut.
Then Brendon put his finger over his lips to tell me to be quiet and carefully slipped under the blankets with us. He wrapped his arms around Ryan's waist...
"Woah, woah, woah!" Ryan jumped up, almost knocking me off the bed. "Please tell me you guys didn't get me drunk again!"
Brendon smiled, twirling Ryan's hair. "Why am I not surprised you can't remember?"
I was trying really hard to hold in my laughter. Ryan noticed. "Not funny, you guys."
"Wait," I said, still giggling, "What happened last time?"
"I don't want to talk about it," He grumbled, then added, "Let's just say, I'm very cuddly when I'm drunk, okay?"
"You gotta love Europe and their drinking age, which is three years lower than ours," Brendon said.
"I still don't forgive you for that."
"You were the one flirting with that guy!"
"You were the one who made me drink!"
"So..."
By now I had a stomach ache and was crying from laughing so hard.
"I need a shower," Brendon got up and went into the bathroom.
"A guy?" I asked.
"Shut up."
"Really?"
"Yes, alright?!?" He shouted.
"Wow, Ryan. Just wow."


*********


"You sure are feeling better," Ryan said rudely.
Then I suddenly remembered. My parents were dead, and they were never coming back.
"Dee, I'm sorry," He quickly apologized.
I shook my head. "It's my fault. I shouldn't have let myself get so carried away..." My voice trailed off.
"Dee, I--" Ryan began, but I cut him off.
"I'm gonna get in the shower." Ryan nodded, and I stood, then thought about it for a moment. "Wait. Brendon's in there." I sat back down.
"I'm gonna go order breakfast," He said and almost ran out of the room.
"Spencer?" I called.
"Hm?" He asked, walking into the room.
"Help me lift the suitcase on my bed?"
"Sure," He said and struggled to lift the black bag full of my stuff, most of which was unessessary. "Oh my God, where's Ryan? This thing weighs as much as he does."
I half-smiled and helped him pick up my suitcase. "Thanks."
"No problem." He walked away.
"Shower's open!" Brendon announced.
I grabbed my clothes and hurried to claim it before anyone else could.


After my shower I put on my bra, underwear, and shirt and realized I had forgotten to grab pants. I opened the bathroom door and peeked out.
"Ryan?"
"Huh?" He asked.
"Don't look."
"Uh, okay."
"Are your eyes closed?"
"Completely."
"You sure?"
"Yup."
I ran to my bed, just in case Ryan hadn't been honest.
"Woah," He was surprised, and I blushed, hiding behind my overly-full suitcase on top of my king-sized bed. "Nice frilly underwear, Dee"
"They're ruffles," I mumbled. I should've known he would look...
"And also really sexy," Brendon added, suddenly apearing behind me.
"Stop looking at my underwear!" I grabbed a pillow to cover myself. Why must all boys be so immature?
"Too bad you didn't forget a shirt," Brendon said.
"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you?" I asked in a seductive yet teasing tone.
"Very much so." He put his arm around my waist and pulled me closer.
I put my hand on his neck and whispered in his ear, "Too bad you're not Ryan."


*********


"Hey, we should go ice skating," Ryan suggested.
"Ice skating?" I asked.
"Yeah," He said and pointed to a sign advertising that the skating rink was open for the season.
"Okay, let's go."
He smiled, held my hand, and led me to the booth to get out tickets and skates. Ryan and I stood in line, and I looked down at out still interlaced fingers. He let go of me and blushed.
"Sorry," He mumbled.
"No," I took his hand, "I don't mind."
Ryan grinned at me, then got us our stickers and ice skates.
We sat down to put our skates on, then when I finished tying my laces, Ryan stood and held out his hand. I took it, and we went out onto the ice.
"You have really soft hands," Ryan blurted out, then bit his lip.
"So do you," I laughed.
A couple minutes of slience passed.
"Ry?" I asked, and he looked up. "I'm so glad to have you back."

"I'm glad to be back, Addy Bear," He smiled.
We were both too busy staring into each other's eyes to pay attention to where we were going, so before we knew it, we had slipped and fallen, and landed right on the freezing ice. But despite the fact that Ryan and I were now very cold, and people were staring at us like we were crazy, we just sat there and laughed.


"What now?" Ryan asked when we were back at the hotel, and he sat down on my bed with me.
"I'm tired. Can we just watch TV?"
He smiled. "Sure."
I kicked off my shoes, crawled to the middle of the bed, and layed down. Ryan followed me on the bed, and I put my head on his chest. "What should we watch?"

"Whatever you want." He handed me the remote.
"Hmmm..." I thought about it for a moment, and then put the TV on channel 54. "Ooohh. I love this show," I said after seeing that Say Yes To The Dress was on.
"You're such a girl, Dee," Ryan joked.
"Guys don't fantasize about their wedding?" I asked teasingly.
"Well, I do...sometimes," He admitted.
"Really?" I smiled to myself. "What's your dream wedding like?"
"All the guys have purple tuxes; the girls have ivory dresses with purple ribbon. Purple rose petals for the flower girl...And a simple yet elegant cake to match its surroundings."
The image of Ryan standing at the altar in a purple tuxedo and me walking down the isle wearing an ivory gown played over and over in my mind as he talked.
"You look great in purple."
"And you look great in ivory," He whispered before continuing. "My bride has a soft, smooth--but not silk--ivory dress. Her hair is in an up-do, and her veil is long--but not too long. Other than a pair of purple diamond earrings, she's not wearing any jewelry, yet she still looks amazing. The guest list is fairly short, and the party is pretty mellow, but that just makes it all the more perfect. Then we honeymoon in Paris and live happily ever after. The end."
"Wow," I said and quickly wiped away a silly little tear that had escaped my eye.
"Are you crying?" He pulled me away so he could look at me.
"That was beautiful, Ry." I buried my face in his shirt.
He hugged me and chuckled. "Which, once again, brings me to the point that you are a total girly girl."

I laughed with him, although my eyes felt heavier by the second. "I really am."
"So what's your perfect wedding?"
"You know, I think I may just have to steal yours."
"Or you could marry me." He words were teasing, but only on the surface.
"Even better. Besides, I don't think I'll find another guy who would wear a purple tux...and look good in it."

"Why, thank you."

"Anything for you," I whispered, before falling asleep in Ryan's warm, loving arms.





-- THEN: George Ryan Ross and Cassady Drina Waldorf.

-- NOW: George Ryan Ross and Cassady Drina Waldorf-Ross

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