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“Jane!” August shouts, even though Jane can’t hear her. All she must see is the cartoonish shape of August’s mouth miming her name, but it’s enough. It’s enough for her to jump out of her seat, and August can see Jane call her name back. It might be the best thing she’s ever seen.

She watches Jane lunge sideways—the emergency exit—and she reaches for hers. It comes open easily, and there’s the tiny platform she remembers so well, and Jane’s on the next one, close enough to touch, beaming out the back of a speeding train, and August was wrong—this is the best thing she’s ever seen.

There aren’t perfect moments in life, not really, not when shit has gotten as weird as it can get and you’re broke in a mean city and the things that hurt feel so big. But there’s the wind flying and the weight of months and a girl hanging out an emergency exit, train roaring all around, tunnel lights flashing, and it feels perfect. It feels insane and impossible and perfect. Jane reels her in by the side of her neck, right there between the subway cars, and kisses her like it’s the end of the world.

She lets August go as they exit the tunnel into blazing sunlight.

“I’m sorry!” Jane shouts.

“I’m sorry!” August shouts back.

“It’s okay!”

“Do you fuckin’ mind?” a guy yells from behind her.

Oh fuck. Right. Other people exist, somehow.

“You better get over here before someone pushes me off!”

Jane laughs and jumps over, grabbing August’s shoulders on the way, the momentum carrying them through the door. August catches Jane right before she staggers into the pissed-off guy in a Yankees hat.

“You done?” he says. “It’s the fuckin’ subway, not the fuckin’ Notebook. Wanna get us all fuckin’ stuck here for an hour while they scrape a couple of lesbians off the fuckin’ tracks—”

“You’re right!” Jane says through a slightly hysterical laugh, snatching August’s hand up and tugging her away. “Don’t know what we were thinking!”

“I’m actually bisexual!” August adds faintly over her shoulder.

They make their way to the other side of the car, past strollers and umbrellas, past khaki-covered knees and bags of groceries, to a pocket of space near the last pole, and Jane whips around to face her.

“I was—”

“You were—”

“I didn’t mean to—”

“I should have—”

Jane stops, holding in a mouthful of laughter. August has never been so happy to see her, not even those early days when she was a fever of an idea. She’s not an idea anymore—she’s Jane, hardheaded Jane, runaway Jane, smart-mouthed Jane, bruise-knuckled, soft-hearted agitator Jane. The girl stuck on the line with August’s heart in the pocket of her ratty jeans.

“You go first,” she says.

August leans her shoulder against the pole, edging closer. “You were—not totally wrong. I was doing this for you, or at least I think I was, but you’re right. I didn’t want you to go back.” Her instincts say to shift her eyes anywhere but to Jane, but she doesn’t. She looks Jane straight in the eyes and says, “I wanted—I want you to stay here, with me. And that’s fucked up, and I’m sorry.”

There’s a second of quiet, Jane looking at her, and then she shrugs her backpack off and hands August something from the side pocket.

“You’re not the only one who has notebooks,” Jane says quietly.

It’s a tiny, battered Moleskine folded open to a page covered in Jane’s messy handwriting: Overwatch. Frank Ocean. Easy Mac. Apple vs. PC. Postmates. Barack Obama. The Golden Girls. Instagram. Jurassic Park. Gogurt. Jolly Ranchers. Star Wars. What is a prequel?

“What is this?”

“It’s a list,” Jane says. “Of things and people you’ve mentioned, or Niko or Myla or Wes, or people I’ve overheard on the train. There’s a lot I have to catch up on.”

August pulls her eyes up to search Jane’s face. She looks … nervous.

“How long have you been making this?” August asks.

She rubs a hand over the short hairs at the back of her neck. “A few months.”

“You—you want to know all this stuff? You never asked. I thought you didn’t want to know.”

“I didn’t, at first,” Jane admits. “I wanted to go back, and I was so determined to get there that I didn’t care about anything else. I didn’t want to know anything that might make it harder. But then there was you, and I wanted to know what made you you, and I—I don’t know.” She kicks the toe of her sneaker against the floor. “At some point I guess I decided … it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I had to stay. It could be okay.”

August clutches the Moleskine to her chest. “I—I know I said—but I didn’t think you’d actually want to stay. You really mean that?”

“Part of me, yeah. You were right. There’s a lot more to it than going back to where I started. I mean, I ride this train every day, and I see gay people just holding hands in public, in front of everyone, and most of the time, nobody fucks with them, and that’s … I don’t know if you realize how crazy that is to me. I know things aren’t perfect, but at least if I stayed, it’d be different.” She’s been studying her cuticles, but she looks up. “And I could be with you.”

August’s mouth falls open.

“With me.”

“Yeah, I—I know what it would cost me, but … I don’t know. All this—this whole mess—it scares the shit out of me.” She swallows, sets her jaw. “But the thought of staying with you doesn’t scare me at all.”

“I didn’t—I thought this was just a good time to you.”

That earns her a short, quiet laugh.

“I wanted it to be, but it’s not. It hasn’t ever been.” Her eyes have this way of swallowing up the grimy fluorescent light of the train and transforming it into something new. Right now, when she looks at August: stars. The goddamn Milky Way. “What is it to you?”

“It’s—you’re—God, Jane, it’s … I want you,” August says. It’s not eloquent or cool, but it’s true, finally. “Whatever it means, however you want me, as long as you’re here, that’s what it is to me, and maybe that sounds desperate, but I—”

She never gets to finish, because Jane’s yanking her in and kissing her, drinking down the rest of her sentence.

August touches her face and opens her eyes, breaking off to demand, “What does that mean?”

“It means I—you—” Jane attempts. She leans down for another kiss, but August holds her stubbornly in place. “Okay—yeah, I want that. I want what you want.”

“Okay,” August says. She licks her lips. They taste like a clean room and a full house and a 4.5 GPA. Like her own specific heaven. “So, we’re—we’re together until we’re not, if that’s what it comes down to.”

“Yeah,” Jane says.

It’s as simple as that, one syllable dropping off Jane’s tongue, two pairs of sneakers tucked between each other, this long career of wanting but not having and having but not knowing folded up into a word.