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Contrary to popular opinion, I actually hate dressing up. Ties are constricting, dress pants are not flexible, and the necessity of tucking in a dress shirt drives me crazy. Joe and Kevin, on the other hand, love to look good. Since we're a trio, we're supposed to be uniform in our sense of style. I can't really walk down the red carpet next to those two girly fashionistas clad in old jeans and a hoodie.

Also, while I'm discussing stuffiness, I might as well mention that award shows are boring. If there weren't after-parties, I don't know if anyone would ever bother showing up. I'd rather just get my trophy mailed to me and spend my Sunday night doing something productive, like reinventing the wheel.

But none of that matters, because on Day Seven, all of it was worth it. I had no idea who she was and why she was given such prime seating, but Mystery Girl was literally an arm's length from me. Only an aisle separated us. We were practically sitting side-by-side.
If that isn't fate... well, fuck me sideways.

Once I realized this and pondered God's mysterious ways, I completely lost track of what was going on around me. Joe told me later that apparently Miley Cyrus accepted an award and claimed to the thousands of people in the audience that she'd like to the thank "the arrogant ex-boyfriend who inspired her song". She said this, according to Joe, while looking right at me.

The kicker is that Joe also mentioned I was staring straight back at her. Honestly, extract my memories with a wand and put it into a Harry Potter-esque pensieve. I have no recollection of this whatsoever.
I was too busy panicking internally. With all my ponderings of God and his workings came a shocking revelation: God had done a lot of exceptional work that night. It was unlikely that he would be able to conjure up any more favours for me. In that case, I was going to have to take it from here, lest my lady-in-waiting escape from my fingertips. This caused the panic to set in - you have to admit, it's a hard burden to bear.

What are the first words that you say to the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with? Most people don't know who they're talking to when they come across this person, but I knew. I knew without a doubt, and there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders.

We won an award at some point for some reason. At that moment in time, if you had asked me to name one of our songs, I probably would have drawn a blank. Joe kicked my foot to nudge me into a standing position and poked my back roughly in the direction of the stage. Thank God for Kevin, who did all of the thanking. I tried to shake myself back to life while I stood on stage looking like a featherbrain, but all I could focus on was locating Mystery Girl in the audience. Wondering if she had clapped for us. For me.

The award made me feel confident in myself. Surely I was desirable. Any girl would be crazy to reject my advances. Mystery Girl didn't stand a chance.

I caught a glimpse of Mystery Girl as we took our seats again. Her friend - the photographer from the other day - was leaning over and whispering in her ear. Both girls giggled quietly, and I fell even more in love with her smile. As soon as I sat down, I anxiously shook my knee for a minute or two before screwing up the courage to peek to my right. And there she was, in all her alluring glory, her honey-coloured hair weaving soft curls around her angelic face. God, I wanted her.

One second, and I was back to staring straight ahead.
My peripherals, however, were focused entirely on Mystery Girl. Instinctively, I leaned over the armrest of my chair, pretending to be interested in the recipient of the Soul Train Award - or whatever it was they were giving out.

That's it! On the periphery, I saw her head turn my way and then turn back. That'd do it. It took a hell of a lot of tooth-gritting in order to restrain myself from looking straight at her and mouthing, "I love you", but somehow I kept myself under control. I had never felt so drawn to someone.

Five minutes passed, and I was getting antsy again. I needed more interaction. As casually as possible, I licked my lips and looked at her. Well, not at her. I pretended to be interested in the people in front of and behind her. It was the only possible solution. It was the closest I could get to meeting her face.

It had been only seven days, but she was more beautiful than I remembered. Her legs were long and lean and smooth - they were effortlessly crossed at the ankle.
She wore an emerald green dress that extended to mid-thigh and probably hugged her curves in all the right places. Her hands were focused on lightly twisting the tiny metallic purse she'd brought with her. That was all I was able to notice without directly looking at her, but by Jove, everything about her was magnificent.
And to top it all off, I was pretty sure that she was older than me. Sixteen-year-old girls are not so shapely and mature - at least not from my experience. I was bored with sixteen-year-olds anyway. The idea of being with an older woman sounded refreshing, and... well, hot.

Oh, God. My throat constricted in a most uncomfortable fashion when I caught her stealing another glance in my direction. At least, I think she looked at me. Not allowing myself to look directly at her face, I couldn't be certain.

Quickly, I whipped my head towards the stage and bounced my knee up and down nervously. Smooth, Nick.
Real smooth.

Oh, what the hell - if she had half a brain, she already knew I was interested in her. What was the point in trying to hide it? Joe leaned over to tell me something, but I held up my hand to silence him and gradually turned my head once more towards Mystery Girl. To my surprise, she had the same idea. She was looking straight at me.

Holy shit. If it were anyone else, I would have looked away and pretended to not have noticed. But it was Her, the Girl of My Dreams, and there was no way that I would be the one to end our staring contest. There were the brown eyes that I remembered. Her cheeks were all shimmery - they sparkled a little. And her pink lips gave me the slightest hint of a smirk
.
If I wasn't in love with her before, I was head over heels by now. She was magical. How were we still staring at each other? I could stare at her forever, but the fact that it hadn't been broken yet was puzzling to me. I don't think I'd even blinked. We weren't even smiling. What was going on? I hadn't spoken a word to her, but somehow, what we were exchanging was just... wow.

This was most mind-boggling to me of all. I can easily read people. Most times, they are rather predictable. Having never experienced a nonverbal exchange like this one before, however, made me question her and want to know more. What kind of person besides myself would stare at a complete stranger for - I'm just guessing here - over a minute? She was an enigma to me. An entrancing, drop-dead-gorgeous enigma.

All too soon, our wonderful moment was broken by my idiot brother, who would definitely be receiving the silent treatment from me for the next week.

"Get... up!" Joe hissed into my ear as his foot stomped mercilessly on mine.

"Ah!" I exclaimed, biting my lip in pain and glaring at him. "What!" I whispered angrily.

"It's time, fucknut!" he retorted, clearly just as pissed off with me as I was with him.

It took a second or two to figure out that what he meant was, ‘it's time for us to go backstage and prepare for our performance'. (That's all he had to say, really). Anyway - shit. I'd totally forgotten about that. With another persistent shove from Joe, I hopped to a standing position and took one last glance in Mystery Girl's direction - she was no longer staring at me, goddammit - and followed my brothers up the aisle.

"What's wrong with you? You're out of it again, aren't you?" Joe demanded once we'd changed into stage clothes.

"I'm fine," I replied calmly, rolling up the sleeves of my shirt.

"Don't stare off into space again, okay, Nick? Remember, there are thousands of people out there this time who will not let us forget it," Kevin muttered.

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah. Thanks."

"Jonas! Two minutes!"

I picked up my guitar and slung the strap over my shoulder.

"Yeah. Especially after Miley's little speech tonight.
Everyone'll say you got all flustered because you're still not over her," Joe added. "So try not to let yourself pine for Miley too much, and stay focused."
Joe is seriously lucky that I didn't crack him over the head with my guitar.

________________________________________

Thankfully, our performance was flawless. And by ‘flawless' I mean that I didn't get all googly-eyed again, mainly because the bright lights were blazing and I realized that there was no way I would be able to find Mystery Girl in the audience, so instead I concentrated on impressing her with a variety of my musical talents. (I think it worked. Everyone cheered.
I had to assume that she was cheering, too).

Afterwards, Joe had a near-death experience as he tried to take over my aisle seat. "My legs need to stretch out," he whined.

"Move the fuck over," I told him under my breath, careful to keep a neutral expression so as not to attract attention.

"Come on, you got it for the first half," he begged.

I sighed in exasperation and hissed frantically, "Can't you suck it up for twenty more minutes!?"

Joe shook his head adamantly, moving his legs aside so that I could slide past him and into Seat #2. Not good enough.

Since I was still standing in the aisle, my back turned to Mystery Girl, I leaned down so that I was eye-level with Joe and mouthed, "I will kill you." I meant it, too.

"Come on-" he tried again, but was silenced by my eyes piercing his skull. Groaning, he overdramatically lifted himself from the chair and plopped down into Seat #2. "Fine," he grumbled, adding under his breath, "No problem, Princess Nick."

Frankly, this did not concern me for the time being. Joe could call me whatever he wanted as long as I got to stare at Mystery Girl. But now I had bigger problems. We'd already had that really intense staring contest - was it okay to look her way again, asking for another one? I wasn't sure. I had no knowledge of staring etiquette.

I spent the remainder of the show trying to decide. It was a fantastic waste of time, especially when Mystery Girl was within my reach and I was slowly letting her slip out of my grasp. And then, before I knew it, everyone was standing and applauding and whistling, and the show was over.

Never had I been more depressed to see the end of an award show in my life. It was possible that she would stick around for a few minutes after the show; that was my silver lining. My saving grace. I had to make those few minutes - and those few words that I planned for us to exchange - count.

"I'm hungry!" Joe announced loudly as everyone began to vacate their seats. People turned to stare and laugh. I groaned and turned my back to him, keeping my eye on Mystery Girl.

When you're in the spotlight, people like to label you. I suppose that's fine because anyone can ignore a label, but it gets annoying when that label is perpetuated by morons. Joe is labelled ‘The Funny One'. For that reason, according to the labellers, everything he says must be funny. Even if it's not. Especially if it's not, I've found. I don't think I've ever heard anything less funny than "I'm hungry".

"You know what I feel like?" Kevin began to ramble as we made our way out of the theatre. "Like a... a baked potato. Or fries. Or a... like, a soft ice cream... in a cup... or... hey, we should go to Wendy's!" Then he spotted someone else to converse with as we exited.

Mystery Girl was exactly five people away from me. I continuously craned my neck to see over the crowd in front of me in order to keep track of her position.

"We should go to Wendy's," Joe agreed, talking to me as if I cared. "When was the last time we went to Wendy's? You wanna go?"

"No," I told him in irritation.

"How about Mickey D's? I think I want McNuggets."

"Shut up for a second," I instructed. I needed to concentrate. I heard Joe pout and I could almost see his dejected expression flash before my eyes, but I had bigger and better things to worry about. He'd get over it.

When we finally burst through the confines of the auditorium, I broke away from my brothers without even knowing it. I couldn't lose her, and all the paparazzi and security guards and blinding flashes and vehicles weren't making it easy for me. All I really wanted was her name and some reassurance that I'd see her again. That's all I needed.

I heard a couple of people call my name. They probably wanted to congratulate me on my award which, at the time, I had completely forgotten about. I ignored everyone and kept my quick pace, ducking under and around those in my way. The stupid curls on my head were bouncing around - I took a moment to imagine Pep's face as she laughed with glee at their springiness.

My eyes were constantly on the emerald green of her dress. I was following her outright now, and if anyone was watching, I'd look like the biggest stalker in the whole world. Never did I make any moves to approach her, though I easily could have. She was with that girl still, and they were holding hands. (Side-note: Were they holding hands to avoid getting separated, or was there something more serious going on that I needed to know about before I proclaimed my love to her?) Now that I was within poking distance, I couldn't figure out what to say.

"Nick," a familiar voice sliced into my thoughts as a warm hand clasped my wrist. I tore my eyes from Mystery Girl only for a moment to confirm my suspicions: Miley.
Good God. Fuck my life.

"I just want to apologize for what I said up there," she said, and I had to take an extra second to look at her because her hair was brilliantly long and wavy, and I liked it. Yeah, we broke up. But I'd still tap that. (Not that I did any sort of tapping while we dated). "I know you like to keep things private, and... well, I'm sorry if I hurt you. I didn't know you were still upset about us."

It was hard to distinguish exactly how far-removed my ex-girlfriend was from reality, but I didn't have time. I did not have time. This was so unimportant.

"Heartbroken," I replied in a rush. "No hard feelings though, kay? Alright."

I tried to make a run for it, but her fucking hand had my wrist in a stranglehold. "Please don't be mad," she continued. "We can talk about it, if you want."
Gritting my teeth, I pried her fingers from my wrist one-by-one for dramatic effect. Christ. I should have known that an ex would become an obstacle to my relationship with my potential wife.

"Fine," I agreed, if only to humour her. "Call me."

As I bolted in the direction of Mystery Girl, I heard her call, "But you changed your number!"

Hell yes I did, crazy bitch.

Mystery Girl had finally come to a halt with her friend only forty yards away. At this point, I was speed-walking towards them to find a better position, where I would mull over my proceeding course of action. I was also starting to feel a bit queasy, but it was hard to say why. On one hand, I had been dodging paparazzi and ex-girlfriends for the past couple of minutes. On the other hand, I was beginning to wonder if Mystery Girl's friend was actually more than a friend, in which case I was totally fucked. I couldn't compete if the love of my life was a lesbian.

"There you are!" Kevin stuck his arm straight out in front of his body, and I was walking by, I crashed right into it.

Wait. How did he get there? As I brushed myself off and examined my surroundings, I realized that Mystery Girl and her lesbian friend had taken a meaningless detour, ending all of us up exactly where we started.
All of that for nothing.

"Where've you been?" he asked. "P.S. I might go to an after-party with Jesse, and Joe wants you to go with him to McDonald's."

It was then that I realized that Jesse McCartney, our future tour-buddy, was standing next to Kevin with a grin on his face.

"Nick," he said with a nod, holding out his hand to shake.

I couldn't be rude, so I returned the gesture. Besides, I like Jesse (in a very platonic and manly way). I understand that guy. Plus, he's great to have around if people poke fun at my band's Disney-esque-ness. Two words: Dream Street. Look ‘em up, listen to their songs, and forever worship the Jonas Brothers as grade-A badasses in comparison.

I can't explain how much I didn't care about Joe's cravings for a Happy Meal. So while he prattled on about drive thru vs. in-restaurant service, I took the opportunity to glimpse my beloved future wife once more. She was thirty feet away. I could so easily stroll towards her and strike up an intellectual conversation. God, she was beautiful. Her perfect teeth shone when she laughed. Her eyes were aglow with excitement. And - not that I've ever noticed this before on anyone - her posture was pretty impressive.
Her shoulders were all... in line. I tried to stand like that. It took effort.

I was so close to putting one foot in front of the other. I was going to make my move. Joe's stupid voice was pushing me towards her.

"So what do you think? ... Nick?" Joe punched me in the arm.

Generally I get along with my brothers. Occasionally we have our small and trivial spats. On that night, however, Joe was seriously one wrong move away from getting chainsawed to death while he slept.

"What?" I asked, fighting to keep my composure.

"Should I get a Happy Meal, or just plain old McNuggets? Jeez!" Joe exclaimed in annoyance. "Weren't you listening?"

"No," I told him plainly. "I wasn't. But I swear to God, if you don't shut up-"

I paused mid-sentence. Where was Jesse? Wasn't he standing with us just a moment before? I don't know how I knew, but somehow I was able to sense that something was wrong. I turned my attention to Mystery Girl.

And there was Jesse, chatting her up. Apparently he had just told a hilarious story - which I highly doubt (as much as I like Jesse, his jokes fall flat) - because Mystery Girl burst into laughter. It was the first time I heard her make a sound. The first time I heard her voice over the crowd, and it was because some other piece of crap celebrity had gotten there before me.

I rubbed the back of my neck in defeat as I turned towards my brothers.

"I think Princess Nick needs a nap," Joe teased.

Kevin laughed. "Princess Nick!" he repeated in delight.
Ugh. Someone kill me. I would not be referred to as Princess Nick. There is nothing less manly.

"Kev!" Jesse cried, rushing towards us with a sly grin. "Let's roll, buddy. I got us dates. See you kids later."

Well, fuck everyone born in 1987 or beforehand. If I was twenty-one, I could go. If I had a fake ID, I could go. But when everyone knows who you are, you can't fake your identity or your age. My status in society was finally screwing me over.

I watched as Kevin and Jesse climbed into a limo with Mystery Girl and Lesbian Friend. The best I could hope for was that she would be repulsed by Kevin's inability to shut up, and someone would present to her Jesse's Dream Street songs. Then I still had a chance.

At the very least, Kevin would eventually find out her name. My only shred of hope to cling on to.

Joe wanted to stay and socialize. I followed him around with a sulky expression, and when he patted me on the shoulder and said he was ready to go to McDonald's, he used that godforsaken nickname again. It was then that I realized how much he enjoyed it, and for that reason, ‘Princess Nick' was not going anywhere any time soon
Chapter End Notes:
Because I have nothing to say for once except thank-you, I decided to mention that two songs inspired this story: ‘Woe' by Say Anything primarily, and as you can tell it partially inspired the title. I like this guy's voice, it's like... I can't explain it, and I just love Say Anything, it's not often you hear actual humour in a song. But! Don't look for this song on youtube, because I can't find the version that I have on my iTunes. I didn't realize that I don't have the album version, and in my opinion mine is so much better - so don't listen to it or it will be ruined! I'll keep searching for my own satisfaction.

The other influential song I can't give to you right now because it would give something away, but I'll tell you within the next couple chapters. Let me just say that there is a completely stupid reason why Jesse McCartney is in this story, but it amuses me so much that it will not change.

Oh, also, the ‘fuck me sideways' comment... Shoot ‘Em Up, anyone?
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