Breathe Again

Summary: The air in CeCe's perfect world vanishes after she overhears a conversation between Günther and Tinka. Will she ever be able to breathe again? Number 10 of the 100 Theme Challenge.

Disclaimer: I do not own Shake It Up!, its characters, Yale College, Yale University, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, IMG Models, the Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago, nor the Juilliard School. I only own this story.

CeCe Jones, now eighteen years old, merrily skipped down the hallways of John Hughes High School one June morning. Graduation was the following night and, like the other senior students at the school, the redhead was looking forward to the end of what she considered "serving time in a hell hole." She was excited to finally receive her diploma, then spend the summer with her friends and family, before departing to New York to attend the Juilliard School, on a full scholarship, to study dance.

As CeCe entered the science wing of the school, she found Rocky scrambling around the floor, collecting dozens of cue cards.

"Hey, Rocky," the redhead said, approaching her best friend. "Need a hand?"

"No, thanks, I'm good," Rocky replied, frantically grabbing the few cards that remained on the ground.

"Okay, if you're sure," CeCe said.

"Yeah, don't worry," Rocky answered, standing back up and proceeding to stack the cards correctly.

"Geez, Rocky, is that your valedictorian speech?" CeCe questioned, bewildered, gesturing to the large stack of cards. "How many cards are there exactly?"

"Not much, maybe around one hundred," Rocky replied, with a shrug. "And that's not including the ending."

"You better shorten that speech because if you don't, I'll end up wheeling you down the aisle during your wedding, instead of you walking down it by yourself," CeCe warned her.

Rocky laughed and said, "Well, I guess I can take out a few things, then put in the ending."

"A few?" CeCe scoffed. "You're kidding, right? Ninety percent of that stack needs shredding. Then, you can add the ending."

"I guess you're right," Rocky said, with a sigh. "Fine, I will do it, but it's not going to be easy."

"Well, graduation is tomorrow," CeCe pointed out. "You better speed things up. No pressure."

"Thanks, you certainly made me feel much better," Rocky replied, sarcastically. "Don't you have a boyfriend to make out with before school starts."

CeCe laughed and said, "Yeah, have you seen Günther?"

"At his locker, maybe," Rocky responded. "If not, try the fashion classroom."

"Obviously," CeCe replied, before running up a nearby flight of steps. "Thanks!"

CeCe was approaching the arts wing of the school, where Günther and Tinka's lockers were located, when she heard voices with familiar accents. Only two people at the school had those accents.

"Are you serious?" the girl, asked, bewildered.

"Yes, this is not a joke," the boy replied.

CeCe nodded to herself, obviously knowing that the voices belonged to Günther, her boyfriend of three years, and his twin sister, Tinka.

"I am certainly surprised," Tinka admitted. "I never thought you would do this to her."

"Well, we have been together for three years," Günther explained. "Things have drastically changed between her and I."

CeCe considered approaching the Hessenheffer duo, but stopped in her tracks, after overhearing their conversation. Curiosity got the better of her, considering the topic being discussed was about her, and she was interested to find out what Günther was up to.

"This is big, Günther," Tinka pointed out. "How will CeCe take it?"

"I am sure that she will not react badly," Günther answered. "I cannot guaranteed that she will not cry. She may cry, but I would not blame her for doing so."

CeCe raised an eyebrow upon hearing Günther response. What did he have to say to her? Why was she most likely to cry upon hearing what he says? It must be something sad for her to cry about. The redhead instantly dreaded the worst, as she continued to eavesdrop on the conversation around the corner.

"I sure hope you know what you are doing," Tinka said, sounding concerned.

"I am positive that I know what I am doing," Günther reassured her. "It is obvious that I cannot be her boyfriend anymore and it is about time that I tell her that."

CeCe gasped, but muffled it with her hands. She could feel her heart drop into her stomach and the air around her magically disappear. She felt like she lost the ability to breathe, but that was the least of her worries at the moment.

"When will she find out?" Tinka asked.

"During the graduation ceremony tomorrow night," Günther replied. "I have it all planned out."

A tear slid down CeCe's cheek, as she bit her bottom lip to prevent herself from sobbing uncontrollably. Graduation is bittersweet for many students and, from what she overheard, it was going to be the same for her as well, not happy like she always pictured it.

"Well, I wish you the best of luck, Günther," Tinka said. "You will need it."

"Thank you, Tinka," Günther answered, gratefully. "Come, we should get to fashion class and finish betwinkling our gowns and hats for graduation."

The sound of a locker slamming shut, followed by footsteps dying down, indicated that Günther and Tinka had left. They had made their way down the hallway, in the direction that CeCe was heading.

Just then, Deuce approached CeCe from out of nowhere and opened his jacket, revealing rolled up sheets of paper inside.

"Hey, CeCe, did you pass math?" he asked. "If not, buy a fake high school diploma. Trick your mom into believing you graduated, rather than telling her you're going to summer school to upgrade your crappy math mark."

CeCe said nothing. Instead, she burst into tears and slid down the wall she was leaning against, all the way to the floor.

"Was it something I said?" Deuce questioned, to no one in particular.

The following night, a local banquet hall in Chicago was filled with hundreds of people, who all gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class of John Hughes High School. The principal and vice principal, along with several school board members, were seated on the stage. The graduating class, while waiting to be called up to receive their diplomas, sat directly in front of the stage, in an area surrounded by velvet ropes. Family and friends of the graduates sat in seats around the graduates' reserved area.

One by one, students were called up to receive their diplomas, as well as any medals or awards that they had won. Parents of the graduates called would dart to the front of the stage to take pictures of their children, before retreating back to their seats.

"Raquel Blue will be studying biology at Yale College, the undergraduate school of Yale University, in New Haven. She is on the distinguished honour roll and will receive an academic medal."

"Dina Garcia will be studying economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She is on the honour roll and will receive an academic medal."

"Günther Hessenheffer has been signed with IMG Models in New York City."

CeCe was the only student of the entire graduating class that did not applaud when Günther went up to accept his diploma. She was obviously very angry with him, since she did not return any of his calls the previous night. She considered returning one of his calls to break up with him first, but decided to do so after graduation when he pulled her aside to break the news to her.

"Tinka Hessenheffer will be pursuing a degree in fashion design at the Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago."

"Cecelia Jones will be studying dance at the Julliard School in New York City."

CeCe plastered a smile on her face as she went up to accept her diploma. She turned to the graduating class and spotted Rocky giving her a thumbs up and Deuce applauding her. However, she refused to look and see if Günther was clapping for her. Instead, the redhead continued to smile, as Georgia snapped pictures of her.

"Martin Martinez will be pursuing a degree in business administration at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business."

After all the graduates received their diplomas and, in some cases, awards and medals, the principal called Rocky to the stage to recite her valedictorian speech. The entire graduating class cheered and applauded as Rocky took the stage, smiling happily.

Rocky approached the microphone on the podium and said, "Well, first of all, I must say that it is a honour to be the valedictorian of my high school's graduating class. Speaking of the graduating class, how about a round of applause for all of the graduates for working so hard to get to where they are tonight?"

The entire room erupted in loud cheers and applause, as the graduating class was praised for their hard work, dedication, and determination over the past four years.

"Now, on to my speech," Rocky continued, glancing at her hands. When she discovered that they were empty, she cried, "Shoot, where is my speech? Where are my cards?"

At that moment, CeCe reached for her purse and rummaged through it to find Rocky's finalized speech, which the goody-two-shoes gave to her best friend to hold, for safe keeping.

Rocky, whose eyes darted to CeCe, asked, "CeCe, I gave you my speech, so I wouldn't lose it. May I have it please?"

CeCe nodded, stood up, and walked down the aisle between the two groups of graduates. She went on stage and handed Rocky her shortened stack of cards.

"Thank you, CeCe," Rocky said, gratefully. "Now, I can start reciting my speech, which I have..."

"Hold your goats!" a familiar male voice yelled.

Everyone's eyes landed on Günther, who was approaching the stage in a hurry. CeCe frowned, wondering why her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend was interrupting her best friend's finest moment. She looked towards Rocky, who, strangely, did not seem bothered by Günther's outburst.

"If you do not mind, I have a speech of my own to make," Günther said, joining Rocky and CeCe on the stage.

"Get lost!" CeCe hissed. "This is Rocky's moment!"

Günther ignored her, approached the podium, and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please?"

CeCe groaned, folding her arms in front of her. Out of all the times that night to break up with her, why did he have to do it during the ceremony, in front of hundreds of people? She frowned at him, unaware that Rocky, who was smirking, stepped back.

"Graduation day has finally come," Günther announced. "We are all leaving and going into a world, where we do not know what to expect. Tonight, let us cherish the memories that we have made these past four years. Treasure our last night together, since we may not see each other again. Make promises to stay in touch with your closest friends. And..." he turned to face CeCe, "...if you love someone, tonight may be your last chance to tell them, so do not hesitate to do it."

CeCe's frown quickly changed to a look of confusion. Something was definitely up, and it certainly was not the ceiling. Günther still loved her?

"CeCe, these last three years with you have been the best years of my life," Günther stated, his eyes on the redhead. "Things have changed between us. We learned more about each other and had gotten closer to each other in a way that I did not think was possible. You have certainly made me a better person, CeCe. Because of you, I no longer judge others based on their plain clothes, I think about other people's feelings, and I give others the respect that I want in return."

CeCe cracked a small smile but, at the same time, raised an eyebrow at Günther. Was he drunk or something?

"Our years in high school may be coming to an end, but the way I feel about you is not," Günther continued, taking a step towards CeCe. "CeCe, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to be the first face you see when you wake up in the morning and the last you see before you go to bed at night. I want to be able to bicker with you about whether or not we should betwinkle every room in our brand new apartment in New York."

Everyone in the hall chuckled a bit at Günther's last statement. Even CeCe, whose eyes were brimming with tears, giggled.

"But, I cannot do all of those things as your boyfriend," Günther added.

Cheers slowly erupted once more from everyone in the hall, as Günther got down on one knee, while revealing a small, blue, velvet box that he had been concealing inside one of his sparkly, baggy sleeves of his graduation robe. CeCe's hands flew to her mouth, as tears of happiness spilled down her cheeks. She finally realized that she misunderstood the conversation between Günther and Tinka the other day.

"I love you with all of my heart, CeCe Jones," Günther stated, holding the princess-cut, diamond engagement ring, in the box, out to her. "Will you marry me?"

"Yes!" CeCe cried, without hesitation. "I will marry you, you goat butt!"

Cheers and applause rang out, once more, from everyone in the hall, as Günther removed the ring from its box and slid it onto CeCe's ring finger. CeCe, her tears still flowing freely, took a look at the beautiful ring, before throwing her arms around Günther's neck. Günther wrapped his arms around CeCe and pulled her closer to him, while lifting her into the air slightly.

"Were you surprised?" Günther asked, holding her tightly.

"Absolutely," CeCe replied, smiling at the realization that she was finally able to breathe again.

Fourteen down, eighty-six to go! Questions? Comments?

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