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Paper Rings

Chapter Text

Life, while not lived in moments, is remembered just as such. Memories holding the fleeting details of moments throughout our lives.  Somehow holding on to the finer lines, the hues and the shadows,and the emotions of great and epic moments but not forgetting the heavy ones, the hard ones. Those moments longed to be forgotten. It’s the inbetween, that fills our lives. The mundane and monotonous, that we forget to remember. Those are often the ones that are meant to be cherished the most. The ones worth the finer lines. 

Tobin placed the frame she was holding on back on its hook staring at the photograph beneath the glass. It was one of those moments, the mundane ones. An unplanned photo that took far too long to coordinate, and just a moment to move on from. Taking a step back she looked at the wall full of frames with photos. Some of them grand and great, others just fleeting moments in life. Each one reminding her of how precious time can be. How important it has become to cherish each and every moment. 


Glancing at the wedding photo,at the center of them all made her smile, a day full of moments. Even tough ones. 

“You know it’s like bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony right?” Kelley insisted on trying to assure Tobin things were under control. “Kell I am also technically a bride, and neither of us care about tradition or superstitions, if she needs me now, i'm going”


Tobin made her way into the room where Christen was supposed to be getting dressed. She knocked lightly before cracking the door a little announcing herself. When she finally slipped in closing the door and locking it behind her she turned to see Christen sitting in a chair, wearing her simple yet beautiful dress, eyes red and cheeks tear stained. 


“Not getting cold feet are you” as she crossed the room kneeling down in front of the chair, trying to keep some humor in her voice. 


“You know that's not it”


“Ah, good. I didn’t think so but figured I’d check” Tobin paused for a moment meeting sad green eyes looking down at her. No words had to be spoken here. They both knew why the air was heavy, why no matter how wonderful the day turned out to be, there would still be someone missing. This was them making space for what needed to be felt. 


“Do you want to dance with me?” 


The question elicited a chuckle from Christen, which made Tobin smile. She stood offering her hand but Christen just looked at it. “Baby, we are supposed to dance later, you know, after we are actually married. Plus, there isn’t any music”


“I don't think that’s ever stopped us from dancing before?”


With a deep sigh she took her hand standing to face Tobin who pulled her in gently swaying back and forth. Neither could say how much time had passed before Tobin finally spoke up her voice just above a whisper passed her ear. 


“You know as much as I would love to stay here with you forever, there are a lot of people waiting for us, and I’d really like to go out there and say some vows so I can finally call you my wife”


All it took was the help of a few bridesmaids to remove any traces of tears. They checked one another over before deciding to head out together when one of the bridesmaids, an old college friend of Christen's, insisted on snapping a quick photo. They obliged even though they’d have hundreds if not thousands from the wedding photographer. It was a sweet and simple photo of them, gentle smiles, their eyes fixed on each other. 


Out of all the professional photos they sorted through after the wedding. It was that one they felt belonged hanging on the wall of their home. 

She traced a finger only barely over the frame of that photo remembering all the grand moments from their wedding day. She would still mentally recite her vows every once in a while, never wanting to forget a single word, always remembering the promises she made and kept every single day. Even if she was given the occasional reminders. Tobin took a deep breath with the ghost of a smile still on her face from the flood of memories from her wedding day. Taking a few steps over  as her eyes land on another favorite. A moment so deeply representative of how insane and unpredictable life can be. 


As the whistle blew, the world suddenly slowed down, everything went quiet and her breath caught in her chest. Tobin watched her teammates running to hug and tackle each other, the stadium louder than life. But the seconds stretched into what felt like hours as the world stopped reminding her of what this meant. Standing in a place she wasn't sure she was going to ever be again. Just over a year ago, before life took her by storm throwing every plan she had out the window, reshaping life as she knew it. Changing every idea of the future she ever had and simultaneously creating new ones. 


Eighteen Months Ago:


Christen was trying to finish up dishes from the early breakfast she and Tobin had made together before driving down to spend time with her family for the day. Tobin’s phone had already rung through an entire call once, only a few seconds had passed before it started up again. She knew Tobin was showering upstairs and the vibrating against the hard granite countertops was really testing her nerves. 


It was the third day in a row she had felt on edge for no good reason. Snapping a few times at Tobin in moments completely uncalled for and then bursting into tears immediately after apologizing. So she shut the water off and picked up the phone answering the unknown number.




“Uhh Christen?”


“Yeah” she snapped 


“Oh I was trying to get ahold of Tobin but I guess I really needed to speak with both of you”


The voice registered in her head as the man on the other end of the call spoke.


“I’m sorry Daniel, I'm just a bit tired. I didn't mean to be snappy, How are you?”


“I am doing well but I will get right to it unless you would like to wait for Tobin? It’s probably something you both want to hear together”


Daniel was the lawyer who had been working with them through an adoption agency. Most of the time his phone calls were about paperwork. She figured Tobin had forgotten to sign something or send a document over. But before she could think about being anxious over his tone of voice Tobin stepped off the last step of the stairs, using a towel to dry her hair. 


“Who is that?” Tobin mouthed 


“Uhh actually Daniel Tobin is right here” She said, raising her eyebrows at Tobin. Tobin dropped the towel on the counter and raced around the kitchen island as Christen put the phone on speaker.


“Hi Daniel” Tobin spoke, making him aware she was also there.


“So I know we have only been working together for a month and from the beginning we set the expectation that this process could take a long time. I know that you guys have played the waiting game with trying to conceive through IVF and IUI. It’s been a long process for you and so this morning when I was contacted by the agency I wanted to call right away”


Tobin and Christen looked at each other, sharing looks of anticipation and shock.


“You’ve been matched with an expecting mom, there are some medical complications she is dealing with and there is no other family, and…. she is due in a week. But before you get too excited, I want to inform you that she has having twins”


“Twins” Tobin said just above a whisper, feeling the ground under her spinning hoping that the weight of her leaning against the counter would keep her from passing out. 


Daniel waited quietly for one of them to say something before proceeding. 


Christen just stared at her wife, who had gone pale. They had been waiting for this, trying to have a kid for almost a year before they finally decided on trying to adopt. Christen had taken every measure possible to make their efforts successful. Quitting her job, mediating more, easing every amount of stress, and eating every kind of food recommended. Nothing had taken though. They gave it one last go over a month ago but when the time had come the test said negative. It was then they made the decision to look into adopting. Daniel had told them that this could be a long process and they expected it to be. 


Before she could register what was happening she bent over the nearby sink throwing up her recently consumed breakfast. 


“I’m okay” she croaked out looking at Tobin who was still standing there like a deer caught in headlights


“I can give you time to think about it if you need, it's obviously more than expected, but I will say for this particular case we would need an answer soon. There is a foster family lined up already should this not work out”


Tobin suddenly checked back into reality looking at her wife, tears now falling down her cheeks. Without saying a word she just started nodding. 


“Yeah?” Christen let out her voice scratching. “Are you sure, should we talk about it?”


“Do you want to talk about it? I mean we’ve been trying to get here for almost a year. It’s not what we expected but I’m in. Undoubtedly, I’m in”


“Okay, okay, okay” Christen said as if the information was still rolling over in her head. She grabbed her wife’s hand and turned to look back at the phone on the counter realizing Daniel was probably sitting there listening to their reaction. 


“So, I am hearing that we want to proceed?”


“Yeah, we do,” Tobin said confidently, a smile matching Christens as they both tried to hold back any more tears. 


Two weeks later Tobin found herself on the edge of passing out on the couch. The clock on the wall reading somewhere between 4 and 5 am. She was in the same clothes she had put on two days before, clutching the baby monitor in one hand and a pillow in the other. She was on full time duty at the moment. They had only had the babies home for two days before Christen got sick. Obviously worried about passing a bug on to newborns with no immune systems, she had isolated herself downstairs in the guest bedroom. Just as Tobin’s eyes began to close though she could hear Christen throwing up in the bathroom. 


She let out a deep sigh and turned the volume up on the monitor before setting it down on the coffee table and knocking on the bathroom door asking if her wife needed anything. But there was no answer. 


“Chris, are you ok?” Tobin began to panic just before the bathroom door opened. 


Christen stood there looking surprisingly okay for someone who had been throwing up just moments before. 


“Tobin” She said as if she was about to say something terrifying. 


“What’s wrong?’ 


“I think I’m pregnant”


Before she could process the news though cries came from the monitor in the living room. Cries from the two newborn twins they had adopted just days ago. The ones who never slept and ate all day long, and never wanted to be put down. 


“Pregnant?” Tobin whispered to herself as she ascended the stairs to take care of the crying babies. Too tired to react with anything but complete disbelief. 

There on the field, after the whistle blew signifying the end of her fifth World Cup final, her fourth win. And as the world began to speed back up she looked into the stands where her family was. By time she had made it to the field gates a staff member had already ushered her wife and kids down to the field. Immediately scooping up the twins, one with each arm she leaned over the baby strapped to Christens chest to kiss her wife. 


When the doctor had confirmed their last shot at IVF had taken, the test was a false negative, and Christen was in fact pregnant, her first thought was that it was time to hang up her boots. There was no way they could have three kids under two with her traveling so much. Especially not when two years ago they thought having one kid was going to upend their careers. But they did it. They managed it because Christen knew Tobin had so much more to give to the game and if anyone could make it work it was them. 


They made it work, standing on that podium with her family she knew every sleepless night, and travelling with way too many suitcases, finding a nanny who could be there to aid Christen during training and game days, the tears, the stress, and exhaustion. Every bit of it was worth it, every bit of it was for them. 

That picture would be a favorite of hers, no matter how many more she took in life, standing there knowing what it took to get there, making that photo, that grand moment that was an accumulation of  the mundane and monotonous, of sad and hard moments. Every one of them worth it. 

The sound of the laundry room door closing down the hallway broke her of her reverie. Walking back over to straighten out the photo she had just hung on the wall before taking a mental trip down memory lane. The chaos behind that photo making her chuckle. “I can’t believe we managed to even get that photo,” Christen said walking up beside her holding an empty laundry basket. “All the laundry is done, and I am going to bask in that achievement for the whole eight hours it's going to last” she said before leaning over pressing a chaste kiss to her wife’s cheek. 

“Chris, can you please grab your son?” Tobin yelled holding her 3 and 4 year old daughters back from running off again. “Why is he only my son when he is being mischievous?” Christen deadpanned as she carried her son over to where her wife and daughters were waiting for Tobin’s mom to snap a quick family photo. 


They knew wrangling all three kids at the same time at a family bar-b-que was going to be arduous at best. 


“Because when him and his twin sister are mischievous together, they're suddenly MY children”

 Tobin replied kneeling down with her three year old trying to wiggle out her arms. Christen kneeled beside her pulling both the twins into her arms before they could off again. “Okay guys just smile for five seconds and you can go run with your cousins to your heart's desire” Tobin said before smiling at the camera. 


As soon as the photo was snapped all three children took off in different directions. 


Tobin stood and grabbed her wife by the waist pulling her in. “They can all be your crazy kids at bedtime” She said before leaning her to kiss her. “Kidding, they can always just be OUR kids, mischief and all, maybe we should have another? Mix things up” 


Christen’s face dropped before trying to pull out of the embrace. “I’m kidding?” Tobin defended pulling her back in. 


“We have been out number since day one there is no way we would survive a fourth” Christen said breathless as if the thought itself had exhausted her. She leaned her head against Tobin’s chest watching their kids run around the backyard with their cousins. 

“You ready for bed?” Tobin asked, taking her wife’s empty hand. 


“Baby, I am always ready for bed” Tobin kissed the top of her head before turning to turn the hallway light off, leading them upstairs, stopping at each bedroom door to check in on their sleeping children before finally making it to bed themselves. 


“I love you” Tobin whispered into the dark, like it was some best kept secret. 


“I love you, too” she replied wrapped up in her wife’s arms, the thought of her kids sleep down the hall leaving a smile on her face as she fell asleep.