I had written this a while back and had completely forgotten about untill now (: hope you enjoy it.

DISCLAIMER: DON'T OWN. NEVER WILL.

"Our Miss United States is… Rhode Island! Cheryl!"

At those words, I felt myself float out of my body. The entire stadium erupted into cheers and claps. I covered my mouth in shock. I turned to Gracie; she immediately wrapped me up into a tight hug. I could see her mouth moving quickly.

"I can't hear you!" I called out through my smiles. I felt the banner slide over my head. My smile grew.

Gracie looked panicked. I could tell she was calling louder now, but one of the guards pulled away. I stared out into the crowd, grinning with pride. Over the cheers and claps, I could hear the Miss United States song playing loudly.

When I felt the crown being placed on top of my head, I could feel the tears slowly rising. I ignored Gracie's waving gestures as I turned and beamed at the cameras.

I did it!

I walked slowly up the stage and blew kisses. I was deliriously happy… but before I could even take another step, I could feel someone crash behind me and pull at my hair.

I screamed and grabbed onto my crown protectively.

When I turned to see who had attacked me, to my shock I saw the one girl I trusted most at the pageant.

Gracie?

I swatted at her with the bouquet that someone had placed in my arms. I could see the petals soaring off the stems with each hit. Gracie didn't falter. She was determined to ruin my night.

"GET AWAY!" I screeched, hitting her some more.

I could feel the tears slipping down my face. I didn't know if they were because I was angry, or if they were because I felt betrayed. Nevertheless, I kept hitting her.

Some of the other contestants pulled her away, much to my relief. I tried to fix my crown and smile reassuringly, but I think it came out as a painful smirk. I continued to walk up the stage, with as much poise as I could possibly manage at this moment, but once again, Gracie's hands found her way to my head.

Gracie ripped the crown off my head, and I couldn't hold it in anymore.

I immediately wailed big baby sobs.

My night was ruined.

I could see out of the corners of my eyes that Gracie and Mary Jo were fighting over my crown. I could hear Mary Jo screaming, and she was desperately trying to pull the crown out of Gracie's hands. Miss Texas didn't have a chance compared to Gracie. With one swift punch to the face, Mary Jo was down.

Through my cries, I stared at Gracie.

Why?

I trusted her. She was my friend. She was the one who drank my hot chocolate, she was the one who gave me pizza, she was the one who I confessed my secrets to, she was the one who gave me the flaming batons.

It turns out; she was just like the others. She hadn't wanted a friend… she had wanted the crown. That hurt me more than losing my crown ever could.

I could see her run her hands all over my prized item. I turned away, not wanting to watch anymore.

Almost as soon as I turned around, I could hear the screams around me grow louder. Then, before I knew it, a loud explosion boomed.

I turned on my heels, and behind me, Lady Liberty had exploded.

I became instantly dizzy, and then everything went black.

When I woke up, I could feel someone frantically slapping at my cheeks. "Cheryl?"

I blinked, and everything soon came into focus. Staring down at me was Leslie, Miss California.

"What happened?" I managed to sputter out.

"Your crown was a bomb." Leslie explained slowly, as if she didn't quite understand it herself. "Gracie saved you. She threw it onto the statue, and it exploded within seconds."

I slowly sat up and stared around. The entire audience was being evacuated and everywhere I looked, security guards were running around, gathering up all the pageant contestants.

"…Gracie?" I asked out, still dazed. "How long was I…"

"Just a couple minutes." Miss California explained.

I stood up fully and saw Gracie screaming. "Eric? ERIC? ARE YOU OKAY?"

She looked panicked and was looking around desperately. I stared upwards to see who she was screaming at, when I saw as face, covered with soot, pop out.

"Oh thank God!" Gracie cried out, placing a hand on her heart.

"You okay, Hart?" The man called out.

Hart?

"I'm fine. Throw down my stuff, will you?"

I watched as the man threw down a black gun, a pair of handcuffs and a black badge.

"Gracie!" I called out, still as confused as ever. She turned around and saw me. "What's happening?" I asked.

"Hold on one sec!"

Gracie leaped towards Miss Morningside and pinned her down on the ground.

"GRACIE! What are you doing?" I could hear Miss Hawaii screech.

"Kathy Morningside, you're under arrest." Gracie barked, grabbing her handcuffs and swiftly attaching them to her wrists. I could hear her start to protest and try to struggle away from Gracie's grip, but with no luck.

Suddenly, I felt someone grab my arms, and I tried to fight them off.

"It's okay, Miss Frasier…" the man explained, "I'm from the FBI. I'm taking you and the rest of the ladies into a safe room."

I nodded, still dazed.

The man took pulled me lightly backstage, but I kept trying to steal glances at Gracie. The man from the statue had somehow managed to come down, and he had Miss Morningside's assistant, Frank, in handcuffs. Gracie stood up, roughly picking up a cuffed Miss Morningside beside her, and the pair was dragged outside.

When I was placed in the safe room, I could hear a billion voices shout out at the same time. I started screaming too… we were all so confused.

"QUIET!" A loud booming voice yelled.

The entire room shut up.

"Good. Now, first come first… I'm Agent Johnson, from the Texan FBI agency. I want ya'll to know that you're all safe now."

I interrupted him, "Why did my crown explode!"

My comment automatically started another round of hysterical screaming from the rest of the ladies.

"GIRLS!" Agent Johnson yelled, "LISTEN TO ME."

We quieted down again.

"I would try explaining this all now, but I think you all would be much more comfortable having everything told by someone you recognize. So I'm gonna need you to sit still for a bit, Agent Hart and Agent Matthews also know more about this than I do. I sent out another agent to go grab them, and it shouldn't be long."

I grumbled and slumped down in my chair, fingering the material of my sash. It was oddly comforting.

We sat there, talking between ourselves when a voice suddenly buzzed in through Agent Carter's walkie-talkie. "Agent Hart and Matthews are outside, sir."

"Send them in."

At those words, the thick door to the safe room swung open to reveal...

"GRACIE!" I shrieked as I leapt out of my chair.

"Cheryl!" Gracie smiled and ran over and hugged me, "Are you okay? Are you hurt?"

"No… I'm fine!" I managed to smile, "Just shook up, is all."

"I'm sorry for taking out your crown. If it wasn't a bomb..."

I nodded, wincing slightly at the word. The man beside her must have noticed this, because he took Gracie by the hand and pulled her to the front of the room.

"Hello ladies. I'm agent Eric Matthews, from the New York FBI department." He introduced himself.

"Gracie, you know an FBI agent?" Miss Ohio grinned suggestively.

Gracie bit her lip. "Yes…"

"That's the guy who came into our room that night!" Miss Texas cried out, placing her hand gently on her newly bandaged nose.

A dozen voices broke out at once, but Agent Matthews interrupted them. "Girls, I think you should let her explain."

I couldn't tear my eyes away. I had never seen Gracie Lou look nervous before. She was oddly calm all throughout the pageant. As I was waiting for her response, I noted that the pair in front of us hadn't let go of each other's hands.

Cute.

"Girls, don't talk until I'm finished, okay?" Gracie sighed before continuing.

"My name is Grace Hart. I'm an FBI field agent in New York."

I could hear myself, along with the other ladies in the room gasp out. She continued on before anyone could speak.

"The New York department has been working on solving a case, and we had gotten a clue that the next target was going to be here, at the Miss United States pageant. I had to enter to get full access to all areas at all times." Gracie explained, "The short story is, Kathy Morningside and her son, Frank imitated a letter of one of the most wanted people on the planet so that they could frame a bombing on him."

"That's why my crown exploded!" I cried out.

Eric nodded "The bomb was placed in the crown. Luckily, we got it away it time. Hart and I just got back from sending Miss Morningside and Frank away."

"Jail?" Miss Utah whispered.

Gracie lifted up the skirt of her dress, which revealed a black strap wrapped around her leg. She pulled out her gun and her badge, which she promptly flashed towards us, resulting in another round of shocked gasps.

She spun the gun around on her finger before swiftly sliding it back onto the holder. She looked up again and stared at us with sincerity in her eyes "Listen, I'm sorry I lied to you. All I wanted was to protect all of you… and now, you're safe. So I'm good."

I could feel my eyes fill up with tears again, but for a different reason.

I hadn't been betrayed, I had been protected.

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xo queen of all things living or inanimate.