She expected the pain. As soon as Jimmy Starr shut them down when she and Austin casually told him they were back together, her heart dropped into her stomach and she knew the pain was coming, and along with it the sleepless nights and the vomiting and the soul-shattering sobs so violent it's like her body is attacking itself. But even with all that, she can handle it.

It's what comes after the pain that shakes her.

The all-encompassing numbness that starts in the pit of her stomach and moves outward like a disease. It starts months after the breakup—during yet another night spent on the bathroom floor, alternating between vomiting into the toilet and curling up into a ball against the door and sobbing until her throat is raw. After a few hours of the painfully familiar routine, it all just…stops. Her sobs die down, and she realizes suddenly that the nausea has vanished. So for the rest of the night she sits there, hugging her knees, staring at the toilet and seeing nothing.

After their conversation with Jimmy, they try to find ways to work around it. Maybe if they keep their relationship a secret, they can stay together and Jimmy won't even have to know. So they go on a practice not-date, but after everything they've been through to be together, they can't seem to remember how not to. Hell, even in the time between their joke of a first try at their relationship and actually getting together, they were still stealing glances and brushing backs of hands and hiding smiles behind coughs.

And now that they've crossed the threshold into the light, where glances are freely given and hands can be held and smiles can be shared in between kisses—they can't go back.

The worst part is that if Jimmy is going to make Austin choose between his music career and her, she knows what he'll say. And it makes her heart burst and break all at once.

And every day after that, it will slowly kill him. Because Austin without Ally may be sad and hurt and heartbroken for a long, long time, but Austin without music isn't Austin at all.

Besides, it's not like they'll be leaving each other's lives for good. They've broken up before and survived it. They'll just have to do it again.

So in the middle of the Worldwide Music Awards—where they were supposed to announce their relationship to the world—she does what she has to do.

She lies right to his face.

She tells him they aren't meant to be together. Lie. She feels it in her bones and her heart and her soul that they are they are they are.

She tells him they'll always be in each other's lives. Lie. That they'll always be friends. Lie. Best friends. Liar, liar, formal gown on fire.

The look in his eyes sucks all the air out of her lungs. The way he hugs her nearly kills her—it feels too final, too much like a goodbye. His words haunt her.

I don't wanna lose you again.

Later that night, he apparently decides to prove it.

She's in her room, wearing one of his sweatshirts and sobbing into Dougie the Dolphin (of whom they had agreed to share joint custody back when they were fifteen and oblivious to their future), when she hears the rapid knocking at the front door.

Thank god her dad sleeps upstairs.

She doesn't have to check to know who it is, and she doesn't even bother trying to look semi-okay because she's fucking miserable.

When she opens the door, he doesn't look much better.

He's wearing a hoodie too, the hood pulled up over his hair and one hand shoved in the pocket while the other hovers in the air, mid-knock. His eyes are red and puffy, and even now he has a few stray tears trailing down his cheeks. He's slouching, like he's trying to shrink and hide within himself—nothing like the tall, confident posture he usually possesses. He looks worse than she's ever seen him—and she once took care of him when he had the flu.

He swallows when he sees her, dropping his hand from the air into his pocket. She watches him as he takes her in—his hoodie swallowing her, her own red, tear-streaked face, the rat's nest of hair that she didn't even bother trying to brush out after the awards.

He looks off to the side, setting his jaw as if to gather the strength to speak. "I can't…" He trails off helplessly. His voice is hoarse. If the new tears already escaping his eyes are any indication, his throat is probably raw from crying.

Wordlessly, she steps aside, and he walks into her house. He looks around as he follows her to her room, like he's seeing it for the first time all over again. In a way, maybe he is.

When they get to her room, she stops him outside the door. Unless her room magically cleaned itself in the time she's taken to answer the front door, it's a disaster of discarded tissues and laundry and crumpled up sheets of love songs from her book and pictures of them.

"I…" Her voice matches his, even the one word making her throat hurt. But he knows her well enough to know what she meant to say, so she just sighs and opens the door. She immediately goes back over to her bed and sits cross-legged on the mattress, holding Dougie the Dolphin in her lap.

He hardly even seems to notice the mess on the floor, but he steps over her dress from tonight where it lay in a heap as he walks to her desk chair. He sits down heavily, and for the next few minutes they sit together in silence, staring at the floor.

"I want Dougie at least every other weekend," he finally mutters, his voice still hoarse and broken and hollow.

She looks up at him, and he looks up at her, and this whole thing is so fucking ridiculous that even as tears continue steadily rolling down her cheeks, she laughs. And that makes him smile—it's an empty, sad smile, but a smile nonetheless—and then he starts laughing, and despite how not okay things are, for this one split second she feels like one day she might feel okay again.

But then their laughter dies down and they're left just staring at each other, until he groans and leans his elbows on his knees, burying his face in his hands.

"Ally," he says, and even though his voice is muffled that one word sounds so pained it brings more tears to her eyes. When he leans back in the chair and looks at her again, there are more tears on his cheeks, and he looks completely helpless. "What are we gonna do?" he asks her. "I mean…" He trails off and shakes his head, absently wiping at his tears with the back of his hand. "Do you remember last time?"

"We got some of Trish and Dez's alien goo and blew stuff up the way we blew up our entire week-long relationship," she says. The memory almost makes her smile.

He nods, then meets her eyes. "I don't know how to get through us breaking up without you. And I feel like I'm gonna have to."

She sniffles, grabbing another tissue from the box on her nightstand and then tossing the box to him. He grabs a couple for himself and sets them on her desk before tossing the box back. Then he leans forward again, covering his face with his hands.

"I just got you back, and now…"

"I had to do it," she tells him.

"I know," he mutters, sitting up but still looking down. "Doesn't mean I have to like it." He pauses. "I would've done it," he says. "A million times over, and I would've done it every single time. Wouldn't even have to think about it."

She knows what it is—choosing her. Giving up his music, giving up himself, to be with her.

"You know that's why I had to do it. I'm not just gonna sit here and let you throw away everything you've worked for—everything we've worked for. I'm not gonna let you sacrifice your career and your dreams and yourself for me."

He doesn't say anything for a while, swiveling back and forth in the chair as he stares at the floor. When he does speak, his voice is quiet. "I don't want any of that if this is the price I have to pay. None of it means shit if you're not there with me." He looks at her again. "What about everything else we've worked for?" he asks, his voice at its normal volume. "This. Us. We've been working for this just as long and just as hard as we've been working for our careers."

She sighs, more tears spilling down her cheeks. "Austin," she says shakily.

He presses his lips together in a tight line and nods, understanding her meaning: please no arguing.

He moves from the chair to sitting cross-legged next to her on the edge of her bed, and he reaches over and gently wipes the tears off her cheeks with his thumb before clasping his hands and staring at them in his lap. She closes her eyes and hugs his arm, resting her head on his shoulder. He kisses her hair and then leans his cheek against her head, looking down again.

"This is gonna suck ass," he mutters, and despite the fact that he does it pretty often, she can't help but be a little endeared every time Austin curses. It's like when a toddler tries to act intimidating—it doesn't quite get its intended effect, but it's cute.

"Mmhm," she agrees. "Maybe in ten years when your contract's up, we can give it another go. Third time's the charm, right?"

"Don't tempt me," he says, "or I'll wait for you. You know I will."

She tries not to, but she smiles a little in spite of herself.

She sees him reach off to his side and pick something up before bringing it back in front of him to look at it. It's a picture of them hugging—if she remembers correctly, it ended up on a magazine cover. And she remembers it pretty well, because that was the night he serenaded her with the love song she wrote about him.

He runs his fingertips over the part of the photo she's in, and she doesn't have to look at him to know what he's feeling, because she feels it too. All she wants is to jump back into the moment in the picture, where they were happy and giddy and everything was perfect.

She exhales and gently takes the picture out of his hands, setting it aside and sitting up. He watches her as she scoots over and turns until she can lay down on her pillow. Then she opens her arms.

"If we're gonna do this whole 'one last goodbye' thing, then we're damn well gonna do it right."

He immediately moves over and practically collapses next to her, wrapping his arms around her. She turns on her side to face him, and they just stare at each other for a while.

"What?" she asks when she notices the small smile on his face. Then, half teasing, "We're supposed to be drowning in depression and teen angst."

He shrugs. "I'm just…trying to memorize this. Because this—" he tightens his grip around her, "—makes me happy. Even if the circumstances are super depressing."

She rests a hand on his cheek, trying to memorize this, too. Despite said depressing circumstances, a little of the light has returned to his eyes. He nuzzles his nose against hers and then sits up to turn off the light on her nightstand, even though she's pretty sure neither of them plans on wasting a single minute of this night sleeping.

When he settles back down next to her, he pulls her closer than before, their noses and foreheads touching. They both know this is getting dangerous; it's much easier to get away with things in the dark.

Almost as if to test that theory, Austin tilts his head up and kisses her nose before returning to his previous position as if nothing happened. She doesn't say anything for a while.

"I'm scared," she admits quietly.

"Fuck Jimmy Starr. Our relationship would've made my career better, and we all know it. He's just bitter that I dumped Kira to be with you the first time." Then, in a whisper, he adds, "I'm scared, too."

"What I said before…about us still being best friends…" She swallows. "I don't know if—"

"I know," he says gently, moving a hand up into her hair. Her eyelids flutter closed. "You said what we both needed to hear to be able to get through that conversation. But…"

"Yeah." She can't manage more than a whisper.

She feels how tense he is as he holds her, feels his jaw working under her hand, and she knows there's so much he wants to say to try to fight for their relationship. But he doesn't, and she's grateful for it, because she's worried that one more word about it will make her give in and let him throw everything away for her.

His lips brush against hers, and at first she thinks it's an accident as he tries to pull her closer. But then he kisses her again, and it's still hesitant and light, but it lasts just a second or two too long to be an accident.

It's too easy to get away with it. They're in the dark, and they're alone, and this is all happening in those wee hours of the morning where nothing feels real. And when it's this easy to get away with something she needs this much, it's pretty much a no-brainer.

She moves her hand into his hair and kisses him gently, and she hears the sigh that escapes his nose as he responds without hesitation. His arms tighten around her as he turns and pulls her with him until she's half on top of him.

"I love you," he whispers in between kisses, and of course the first time they say it has to be under these circumstances.

"I love you, too."

She doesn't know when they fall asleep, but when she wakes up in the morning, he's gone. The only proof he was even here is a note on her nightstand, with the picture they were staring at last night deliberately placed on top of it.

I'm sorry. I just couldn't say goodbye in person.

I love you. Every moment, every day of my life.


The numbness comes after she gets back from tour. After she goes back to school and finds out that Austin left for his own tour right before school started.

But when she wakes up the morning after she felt it for the first time and realizes that it hasn't gone away, she realizes what it means: it's really, truly over.

If the sobbing and the nausea and the pain are all gone, that means he must be out of her system. But she'd take the sobbing and the nausea and the pain times a million over this, because she doesn't want him out of her system. If he's out of her system and it's really over, that means she's really lost him.

She doesn't talk much when the numbness spreads. She's already lost ten pounds she can't afford to lose, but she can't bring herself to eat all that much either. And she knows deep down that this is probably stupid—she's seventeen and she has her whole life ahead of her to fall in love a million more times if she wants to, but for right now she simply feels nothing. Before, she was frustrated that everything felt too normal for the kind of misery she was feeling: chocolate was too sweet, colors too bright, the sun too warm and welcoming. But now, food tastes like cardboard. Colors are dull and muted. The sun itself seems to have dimmed.

Her parents are worried about her—she's seen a therapist a few times to appease her dad, and she's tried to sound a little better than she feels when she talks to her mom. They know she's trying, and she knows that all they want is for her to stop feeling like this, but none of it works.

Everything reminds her of him. When she tries to write music, his ghost sits next to her at the piano. When she tries to sleep, she feels his arms around her like they were the last time they were together. When she looks in the mirror, she sees where the light he shared with her is missing in her eyes.

He made her who she is today. And without him, she feels like a shell of that person.

A month into the school year, she realizes it. The real reason why nothing she or her parents or her friends try is working: she doesn't want to go back to normal without him. Because without him, things can never be normal.

She may be numb to the world now, but she doesn't want to force light and feeling back into her world unless it's his light and her feelings for him.

Another two months go by in a gray blur. She's gotten the hang of going about business as usual even if her heart isn't in anything, and her parents seem to accept that for now. But she knows Trish and Dez are still worried about her.

And from the conversation she hears the two of them having as she stands outside the practice room with her hand on the door handle, they're worried about Austin, too.

"—know what you want me to do. I've tried everything to get Austin to at least fake it better. Maybe his manager should talk to Jimmy Starr about the situation," Dez says.

"Don't you think I've tried that?" Trish snaps. "Jimmy called me and started yelling at me about how sales are going down because Austin isn't acting like himself and his fans don't like it."

"Did you tell him it's his fault?"

"I tried to. Even told him it's gonna get worse, but that made him madder."

"What do you mean?" Dez asks.

"Haven't you seen social media? Austin's fans are trying to figure out what's gotten into him. You know they were already speculating that he and Ally were together before the WMAs. They pretty much know now that they were together and then broke up. And now that none of us are even on tour with him, but Jimmy Starr is, they're starting to put the pieces together that maybe Jimmy had something to do with all this. Especially now that Austin's plugging pretty much wherever he can that he's single and he'd date a fan, because everyone except apparently Jimmy knows that isn't like him. So now Austin's fans wanna boycott Starr Records until Jimmy releases him from his contract or Austin goes back to normal."

Ally didn't know any of that. She doesn't even know how to react, except to find a little comfort in the fact that she's not alone in her suffering. Trish and Dez are silent for a while, and she closes her eyes.

I love you. Every moment, every day of my life.

"Jimmy's gonna blame Austin," Dez says. "What if he makes Austin quit music anyway to punish him?"

Trish is quiet for another few seconds. "Maybe that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world," she says. "Then nothing would be stopping him and Ally from being together." Ally hears her sigh. "But there could still be hope. A lot of fans keep saying that they thought it was cute imagining Austin and Ally write love songs together about each other. Some people say that's why they listen to Austin's music."


"One person said it's like the hearing a fairytale love story through music. Very gross and sappy for my tastes, but the point is that a lot of Austin's fans are rooting for Austin and Ally's relationship. Maybe somehow Jimmy will swallow his pride and realize that their relationship really would make Austin's career better."

"It really is a fairytale love story." Dez sighs dreamily.

"Of course that's what you focus on," Trish says. "Anyway, I have a meeting with Jimmy on Friday before Austin's concert where I'm gonna try to show him everything I just told you. As disgustingly cute as they are, we gotta get those two back together, Dez."

"I know," Dez says.

Ally swallows and walks back downstairs. For once the numbness might be a good thing, because she finds that she can't even muster a sliver of hope that maybe this meeting Trish has with Jimmy will be successful. She can't imagine what it would do to her if she got her hopes up only for them to come crashing back down.

She texts Trish Friday morning asking if there's an extra ticket to Austin's concert. Trish tries to convince her to just come watch the concert from backstage with her and Dez, but she can't handle that. Even just being in the same room with him and hearing his voice for the first time since the night of the WMAs will be a lot. So Trish sends her a regular ticket and reminds her that she loves her.

Ally doesn't bother wondering why she wants to torture herself by going to his show. The truth is that she's sick of being numb. She may not want the world to be right without him, but she wants to feel something again. And if that something has to be the gut-wrenching pain she suffered through all summer, then so be it.

That night, as she sits in the massive crowd and waits for the concert to start, the girls sitting next to her seem to recognize her.

They're both around her age. The one right next to Ally is brunette with highlights like her, and the girl sitting next to her has black hair. Both of them are wearing t-shirts from Austin's last tour.

She knows they recognize her because they keep trying to glance at her subtly and then fiercely type on their phones, like they're having a conversation with each other that they don't want her to hear.

Finally, she can't take it anymore, and she clears her throat and looks over at them. As soon as she turns her head, the two of them look at her like deer in headlights.

"Hi," she says with a forced smile. "Um—"

"Are you Ally Dawson?" the brunette girl asks, then immediately covers her mouth. "I'm so sorry. I totally just interrupted you."

"It's okay," Ally says. "Um, yeah, that's me."

"Oh my god, it's so nice to meet you," she says in a rush, using quick hand gestures. "I'm Addy, and this is Lola. We're both huge fans. We saw you when you played here in Miami on your tour over the summer. You were amazing."

Ally gives them another smile. "Thank you," she says. "It's nice to meet you, too." She really doesn't wanna talk about Austin, but this is his concert, and she actually wants to make conversation with these girls. "I take it you guys saw Austin on the Full Moon Tour too?" she asks, nodding at their shirts.

The two of them look at each other, and then back at her.

"Yeah," Lola says, leaning forward to see Ally better. "We love him. But, um, just wondering…don't you normally watch his concerts from backstage?"

Ally purses her lips. "Uh, yeah. But…"

"Oh my god, it's all true, isn't it?" Addy asks, still talking lightning fast. "You guys were together and then you broke up. That's why none of you went on tour with him."

"Well, we all still go to school—"

"Is it true that Jimmy Starr forced you guys to break up?" Addy continues. "Because that's so fucking stupid. I'll fight him. I swear to god I'll do it. If I ever see him in person, it's on sight."

"Oh, um…"

In all the months since they broke up, no one has actually asked her about it. Mostly because no one was supposed to know they were together in the first place.

"I'm sorry," Lola says. "Addy has no filter." She glares at her friend. "That's none of our business. We'll leave you alone."

"It's okay," Ally says. "Austin and I just…haven't seen each other in a while." Not a lie. "You know, I went on tour, and then he went on tour right after, so…it's hard, I guess. Even for best friends."

Neither of them buy it, and she didn't expect them to, but the whole point of the half-truth is to let them know that this isn't something she's gonna talk about. The girls nod in understanding.

"Well…I know we totally just, like, invaded your personal life, but is there any way we could still get a picture?" Addy asks.

Ally smiles. "Of course."

They take pictures together, and almost immediately afterwards, the lights go down and the crowd goes crazy. Everyone stands up, so Ally pushes herself out of her chair too.

His first song is 'Who U R,' and her heart aches as soon as she hears the first few chords. This may be worse than she thought.

He descends from above the stage on a platform with a giant full moon attached to it behind him, and the crowd goes even crazier. She's in one of the floor seats, not too close but not terribly far away either, and she has to distract herself by clapping and cheering.

As the show goes on, she can tell why his fans suspected something was off about him. When he's performing, he has the same energy as always, but in between songs he seems to collapse in on himself even as he asks the audience how they're feeling.

She notices that he avoids singing any obvious love songs. At least so far. But most of his most recent album is obvious love songs, and he's returned to old songs like 'A Billion Hits' before touching the new love songs.

But then he has his acoustic and he starts strumming and oh god not this song. They wrote 'Stuck On You' when he got his own case of stage fright and she helped him through it like he helped her. She remembers being able to feel how close they both were to putting their feelings on the table when they wrote this song.

The pain comes on full force now, and she has to rush out of the arena and into the bathroom to calm herself down. She pushes past the line with her head down and stares at herself in the mirror above an empty sink.

She pulls out her phone and texts Trish, I think I'm gonna go home.

Before she can even put her phone away, she gets a response: You better not.

Ally frowns.

This is too painful.

Come spend the rest of the show with me and Dez. You can leave before he even knows you're here.

Ally thinks about it. Even though she'd be much closer to Austin, she'd also be with Trish and Dez, who are the only people possibly capable of comforting her right now. She takes a deep breath and texts Trish back to accept the offer.

By the time she and Trish find each other and go back to where Dez is still watching the concert from the wings, another few songs have passed. Ally leans her head heavily on Trish's shoulder, and Dez rubs Ally's back a couple times to show his support.

She wants to ask Trish how the meeting with Jimmy went, but now really isn't the right time. Plus, if there was good news, Trish probably would've told her already.

In between the last song and Austin's encore, when the lights are still out and the crowd is still buzzing, it's inevitable that they'll chant his name and "Encore!" once or twice. But then another chant breaks out, and it's weak, but they still hear it.

The chant is "Fuck Jimmy Starr!" over and over and over again.

She takes a moment to wonder how the parents in the crowd must feel, hearing Austin's older fans chant such a thing where the kids can easily hear it. But then she realizes how bad this probably is.

"That's not good," Dez says, echoing her thoughts.

"No it is not," a voice says behind them, and they all jump and turn to find Jimmy Starr himself standing there.

"None of this is his fault," Trish says immediately.

"Ally," Jimmy says, inclining his head in greeting.

"Or hers," Trish adds.

"Hi, Jimmy," Ally says, wishing she could turn invisible.

"Walk with me," he says, and immediately turns and walks away, leaving her to scramble after him.

"I just came to see the concert," she says quickly, stumbling over her words. "I wasn't even planning on talking to him."

Jimmy is silent for a while. In the background, the crowd cheers as Austin's encore starts.

"I'm not sure if you're aware, but Austin has been…very out of character lately. And this is because of your breakup."

"I mean, I heard a thing or two, but…"

"And if Austin isn't himself for too long, his fans will stop being fans."

"Well, I don't think—"

"No matter how often he insists he's fine, they're relentless. And they blame me," Jimmy says, finally stopping and turning to face her.

She really has nothing to lose, so she just speaks her mind. "You chose money over his happiness and made us break up. That kinda does make it your fault. And now, from what I've heard, you're losing money anyway."

Jimmy raises an eyebrow. "I run a business. And businesses run on money, not kids' feelings." He pauses, and then he grits his teeth, as if it's hard for him to get his next words out. "But you're right. Album, ticket, and merchandise sales have all gone down since you two broke up and he started throwing this tantrum."


"He's angry with me, so he's trying to spite me. Yes, a tantrum."

"All due respect, Jimmy, but I think he's just hurting. I know exactly how he's feeling, remember? And I haven't been myself since we broke up, either." She takes a deep breath. "But if you were to let us be together, I know he'd go back to his old self again. Then your sales would go back up, he'd be happy, and we'd probably write a great new album that would make you even more money."

Jimmy rubs his mouth, eyeing her warily as he thinks over her words. "Trish said the same thing."

"Maybe because it's true. And from that chant earlier, I think his fans are gonna make sure you lose even more money until Austin is happy again."

Jimmy hesitates. "It would only be a trial." What an asshole. "If sales really do go back up, maybe we can talk about lifting the rule."

She doesn't let herself smile, tries not to have hope, but her heart is hammering in her chest. "So we can get back together? You won't make Austin quit music?"

"For now," Jimmy says. Then he just walks away.

Ally walks back over to Trish and Dez in a daze, just as Austin finishes his last song. The crowd goes wild and he thanks them for being so great.

"What was that about?" Trish asks her.

She can't take her eyes off Austin, who seems to be trying so hard to look excited. "Jimmy said we can get back together," she says.

"What?!" Dez shrieks.

Ally nods, watching as Austin and his dancers do one last dance break. "For a trial, whatever the fuck that means, until sales go back up, and then he'll officially lift the rule if it works. But he said we can get back together."

"Holy shit, Ally, that's great!" Trish exclaims.

The lights on stage go out, and the crowd cheers, and then Austin is walking towards them, shaking out his sweaty hair and drinking out of a water bottle. She's pretty sure his eyes are closed or he's not focusing on anything, because he doesn't seem to notice she's here and he doesn't pay any of them any attention. He shoulders past Dez and walks away before Dez can even pat him on the back.

"Good job," Dez calls after him halfheartedly.

"What the hell?" Ally asks.

Trish and Dez shrug helplessly.

"He was quiet before the show, too," she says. "Nothing like how he usually is."

"He told me before the show that performing is exhausting now," Dez says. "He said he's glad the tour's over."

Trish looks at Ally. "But it doesn't matter anymore, right? You can just go in there and tell him what Jimmy said and everything will be okay."

"I—I guess," Ally says. "But maybe now is a bad time…? He really looked like he wanted to be alone."

"You've always been an exception," Trish says.

Ally swallows. "We haven't spoken in over six months."

"You're not seriously nervous, are you?" Trish asks her. "What's he gonna do, say no?"

"I don't know!" Ally says. "Maybe he doesn't wan—"

"Stop it," Trish says. "Ally, he loves you. Always has, always will. The reason he's so miserable is because you guys haven't spoken in over six months. He still has a picture of the two of you as his lock screen, for fuck's sake! Just go talk to him."

Ally takes a deep breath and nods, then walks off to find his dressing room.

But before she can get very far, she hears someone yell, "Ally!" from somewhere she can't see. She freezes, and then all of a sudden he turns a corner and appears a few feet away from her, now shirtless, his hair still matted to his forehead with sweat, but with an awestruck grin on his face and the unmistakable light in his eyes that she's missed so much.

He runs over to her, and the force of his hug almost knock her over, but he picks her up and spins her around just like he used to. Normally she'd yell at him for hugging her after a show when he's not wearing a shirt and he smells like sweat and he still hasn't even caught his breath, but this time she hugs him back just as tightly.

He sets her down and pulls away, gripping her arms and searching her eyes, still breathless and awestruck. "Jimmy—he came to my dressing room and—you talked to him—something about a trial, whatever the fuck that is—but he said…"

She nods, grinning so wide she feels like her face is ripping apart. And just seeing him again, hearing his voice and looking in his eyes, is all so overwhelming that tears prick her eyes. She grabs his face and kisses him, and as he kisses her back he wraps an arm around her waist and gets his other hand tangled in her hair.

But then he pulls away from the kiss and just hugs her against him—and wow he needs a shower—but she doesn't even care because they can be together again.

"Can I be your boyfriend again?" he murmurs into her hair.

She nods, pulling away from their hug just enough to look up at him. His eyes are shining, and she can pick out every beautiful, bright color in his hazel irises as her world returns to how it's supposed to be.

"I love you," she tells him.

He presses another kiss to her lips. She tries to memorize this feeling, like finally starting to dream after a nightmare she never thought she'd wake up from.

"I love you, too."

He doesn't say it, but she can see him add the promise just for them in the way he looks at her: Every moment, every day of my life.

sometimes i realize that i'm a dramatic ass bitch and then shit like this is born. anyway thanks for reading and i hope you liked it!