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WoSo Age Play Oneshots

Chapter Text

Whenever she felt the pressure of hands on her chest, gently shaking her until she woke up, Tobin knew that it was going to be a good day. Normally, it was a war to get Christen out of bed in the mornings, and so on the days that Christen was the one urging Tobin to get up, there was really only one scenario. 

"Mommy," whispered a little voice. "Time ta get up."

Tobin opened her eyes slowly, taking in the mess that was Christen's bedhead, and the adorable little smile on her face. Yawning, Tobin leaned up on her elbows and gave her baby one in return. 

"Good morning, sunshine." 

Christen gave a little giggle at the nickname, and crawled to sit on Tobin's legs, leaning her head against the older woman's chest. 

"Mornin', Mommy." 

Tobin shifted her weight to one elbow so that she could wrap the other arm around Christen, allowing the little one to suck on a piece of her hair.

"How old are you today, sweetheart?" 

Christen had to think about it for a while, her little brain working a mile a minute as she tried to come up with the answer. Finally, she held up two fingers. 

Tobin smiled softly- she'd had a hunch that she had a very little girl on her hands today. Christen hopped off of Tobin's legs and jumped out of the bed, looking back at her wife and gesturing for her to follow. Tobin groaned as she got up, sliding her slippers onto her feet and following Christen towards the kitchen. 

"What do you want for breakfast today, sunshine?" 

"Berries?"

Tobin sighed in relief- normally, her little girl wanted waffles, or donuts. Both of which would require more work for her, and she was still definitely not awake enough for that. But berries, she could do. Pulling the carton of raspberries from the fridge, she rinsed them off as Christen swung her legs, sitting at the table and waiting patiently for her food. Tobin poured some of Christen's favorite cereal into a bowl, then topped it with almond milk and the raspberries. 

Christen's hand was a little shaky as she gripped her spoon, Tobin nursing a cup of coffee beside her. 

"Do you need Mommy's help, angel?" 

Christen shook her head, taking another spoonful of cereal. Only a little bit of milk spilled onto her t-shirt as she crunched her cereal. 

When Christen had finished her breakfast, Tobin picked her up out of her chair and carried her back to the bedroom. Setting her down on the bed, she pulled open the bottom drawer of their dresser, the one which held all of Christen's little clothes. 

"Do you want to pick today?"

Christen shook her head, her thumb drifting absently to her mouth. 

"Mommy pick." 

Tobin grinned, digging through the drawer and finding a pair of flowery leggings and a sky blue shirt with a unicorn on it. Instead of panties, she reached to the back of the drawer and fetched a pull-up. Finally, a pair of colorful socks. 

"Okay, baby girl. Let's get you dressed for the day!"

Christen hopped off the bed, raising her arms up to let Tobin get her t-shirt off. She smiled happily when she saw the unicorn shirt, but bit her lip nervously when she saw the pull-up in Tobin's hand. 

"Don' need a pull up, Mommy."

Tobin raised her eyebrows, sliding Christen's sweatpants off of her legs, followed by her panties. 

"Are you sure, sunshine? Because I think you do. You're pretty little today, and little girls need pull-ups."

Christen gave Tobin a pout, but she didn't argue further with her Mommy, and Tobin slid the pull-up over her thighs and over her crotch. 

"There you go, honey. Thank you for listening so well." 

Once Tobin had gotten Christen into her leggings, the little one's smile had returned, and she gave Tobin a big kiss on the cheek. Tobin pulled her baby into her arms and returned the gesture, then went to get dressed herself. Christen waited for her on the bed, playing absently with a curl of her hair. When Tobin returned, she brushed the mane out and pulled it back into pigtails on each side of Christen's head.

"There's my sweet baby girl," she said, kissing Christen again, this time on the forehead. "You're such a cutie pie!" 

Christen giggled, grabbing Tobin's hand and pulling her out towards their den. 

"Wanna draw pictures, Mommy."

Tobin smiled, going to a drawer and pulling out Christen's coloring book and crayons. So, it was going to be a quiet day. 

She brewed herself a second cup of coffee and pretended to read her book, but really she was watching Christen as she focused on her coloring book. She gripped the brown crayon with her fist, trying to stay inside the lines of the Disney picture but not making a fuss when bits of color escaped from their confines. Her brow was furrowed in concentration as she colored the picture. Tobin could have watched her forever, but her baby was finished in only around twenty minutes, and poking Tobin's leg to get her attention. 

"For you, Mommy."

Tobin looked down at the coloring book, and her smile grew even wider. 

The outline was a picture of Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, but Christen had colored her hair a lighter brown than the actual character's. Her dress was a bizarre mixture of blue, black and bright purple, the last one being Christen's favorite crayon, which she used on every single pictures she drew. Underneath the picture, in a shaky scrawl, were written the just legible words To Mommy love Christen. 

Tobin pulled her baby up onto her lap, giving her a series of kisses all over her face. 

"I love it, baby! Can I put it on the fridge?" 

Christen nodded proudly, and watched attentively as Tobin carefully tore it from the book, then followed her until they reached the kitchen, where Tobin used a butterfly magnet (a purchase of little Christen- God, Tobin had been so happy that Christen wanted that magnet instead of the huge puppy stuffie, because the older woman absolutely would have shed the hundred dollars at the sight of her little princess's big eyes) to pin the picture to the fridge. 

"There we go, sunshine." 

Christen clapped her hands happily at the sight of her picture on the fridge. 

"What else do you want to do today, bug?"

Christen had to think about it for a moment, bringing her thumb back up to her mouth and starting to suck absently. Some of Tobin's teammates had rules about their babies sucking their thumbs- Kling in particular wouldn't let Moe's hands anywhere near her mouth, because they played outside so much- but Tobin didn't have a real problem with it. Especially not when it was so adorable.

Her face lit up with an idea, and she clapped excitedly. 

"Candyland!"

Tobin hesitated- board games could be a little bit complicated for her sunshine when she was this little. But, if it would make Christen happy... 

"Do you remember the rules, sunshine?" 

Christen nodded happily, then ran to get the game. 

Two games of Candyland- and one win for each of them- later, Christen's tummy was grumbling. Her breakfast hadn't been that big, after all. They had some leftover pizza in the fridge, and so Tobin went to heat it up, two pieces for Christen and one for her. 

Fifteen seconds exactly in the microwave- no more, no less- later, and warm pizza was making its way down into Christen's tummy. She smacked her lips happily, taking little sips of her juice box in between bites. A little bit of sauce stained her upper lip, and Tobin reached over with a napkin to wipe it off. 

"Okay," she said after they had finished their meal. "I think it's naptime for little girls." 

Christen pouted.

"Don't need nap, Mommy! Nope."

Tobin laughed lightly at the serious look on her face. 

"Well," she said. "How about if Mommy takes a nap with you?"

"Mommy nap too?"

Christen's eyes lit up, as if she couldn't imagine anything better. Tobin nodded, picking up her baby girl and carrying her towards the bedroom. She herself wasn't very tired, but Christen's eyes had started to droop. The little one snuggled into Tobin's side, and was asleep in moments. Tobin just lay with her, holding her close and petting her hair. Her heart was filled with nothing but love for her little ray of sunshine, and she couldn't imagine any better day than one spent like this. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Fat tears were streaming down her reddened face, and she felt around the bed, looking for Puppy so she had something soft to wipe her tears on, a friend that wasn't going to leave her. She was having a hard time talking, as she always did when she was sad. But sad wasn't quite the word for this.

Terrified.

Broken.

Alone. 

"Mommy!" 

Her cries went unanswered, as they had for the past few days. She was hungry, and wet, and lonely, and so, so afraid. 

"Mommy, come back!" 

Once again, no one came for her. She'd been calling and calling, and the woman who promised she'd always take care of her hadn't answered once. 

"Not again, not again, come back Mommy," she whispered to herself, praying that she would look up and her Mommy would be there.

But Mommy never came back, and Carli was so, so alone. 


Carli woke up with a scream, and tears immediately started falling down her cheeks. She was pretty sure she had been big when she went to bed, but she was definitely a long way from big now. She wanted Puppy, but Puppy was in the drawer. More than that, though, she wanted- no, needed- Mommy. 

"Mommy," she sobbed. "Mommy!" 

Next to her, Hope was stirring, roused from sleep by Carli's desperate wailing. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes, sitting up and looking down at her wife, concerned by the state of the younger woman. 

"Carli? Hon, wh't happen'd?" 

Carli sobbed brokenly again, and Hope pulled the sobbing girl into her lap. 

"Mommy," Carli cried again, and Hope realized that she was not simply dealing with her upset adult wife, but rather with a very little, very sad baby girl. And that was a whole different matter. She felt around in the top drawer of her bedside table until she felt the soft fur of Carli's Puppy beneath her fingers. She pressed the stuffed animal into her baby's arms, and Carli gripped it tightly as she buried her face into Hope's shoulder. 

She wasn't going to be able to get any explanation out her wife while she was sobbing like this, and so Hope picked Carli up and walked around the room with her, petting her hair and rocking her gently until the tears started to taper off.

"Good girl," she soothed. "That's it, there you go."

Carli sniffled as Hope flicked the light on, and rubbed her face against Hope's shoulder again. 

"There's my girl," the older said, sitting back down on the bed with Carli wrapped in her arms. "That's my little princess."

Carli's thumb had moved to her mouth, and even though Hope would normally replace it with her paci, she decided to let it slide this time. The object was all the way back in the drawer, and she wasn't willing to let go of Carli to reach over and dig for it. 

"Can you tell Mommy what happened, sweet Carli?"

The little girl whimpered around her thumb, and Hope petted her hair. So, she was still too upset to talk.

"It's okay, princess," she said. "Take as long as you need. Mommy's here."

Carli snuggled into Hope's chest, pulling Puppy closer and using his fur to rub her eyes. Even though Hope was impatient to hear what had happened to make her baby girl so upset, she forced herself to wait, rocking and bouncing Carli. 

Once the sniffles had stopped, Hope gave her little one a kiss on the top of her head. 

"Did you have a bad dream, baby girl?" 

Carli nodded, and Hope wondered what type of dream would have been bad enough to send her wife so deep down into littlespace. 

"Can you tell me about it, little one?" 

Carli thought about it for a minute, replacing her thumb in her mouth with Puppy's worn ear. Then, she nodded again.

"Was all 'lone," she whispered. "Mommy lef' me."

Hope's heart clenched painfully, and she pulled her baby closer. It made her beyond sad to imagine her poor baby girl, stuck in a dream where she needed Mommy and Mommy wasn't there. Being abandoned was possibly Carli's greatest fear, and not being there for her wife when she needed her was rather high on Hope's list as well. 

"Oh, baby girl," she said, choking back the emotion crowding her throat. "I'm so sorry you had that icky dream."

Carli sucked harder on Puppy's ear, too tired and small to say much. 

"But," Hope continued. "I want you to listen to me really carefully, Carli."

She put a thumb under Carli's chin, gently forcing the younger to meet her eyes. Both pairs were sparkling, but while Carli's were still filled with fear, Hope's were filled with determination, determination to make sure that her baby girl understood. 

"Mommy loves you more than anything in the whole wide world. And, no matter what, Mommy will never ever leave you."

"Pwomise?"

Hope nodded at Carli's innocent, quiet question. 

"I promise. And Puppy heard me promise, so now I definitely need to keep it."

Carli giggled softly, and Hope pressed another kiss to her forehead. 

"Now," said Hope. "I think it's time for my little princess to get back to sleep."

She knew that Carli must still be very tiny when the younger woman didn't protest against the pull-up that Hope slid over her hips. She fell asleep sucking on her paci, holding onto Puppy's damp ear, and snuggled safely against Hope's chest. 

Hope stayed awake until she physically couldn't anymore, guarding her little one against any nightmares that might come to disturb her sleep. She would be tired in the morning, but Carli took priority over everything. Besides, there was always coffee. 

Chapter Text

Tierna walked carefully across the kitchen floor, balancing a pot of water with both hands. She hadn't been quite sure how full it was supposed to be- Mommy always cooked, after all- but it would probably be okay. Besides, she really, really wanted pasta, and she didn't want to bother Mommy for it. 

She slid the pot onto the stove, then looked down at the knobs that turned on the burners. She hesitated- Mommy had told her not to use the stove while she was little. It was dangerous. But, she thought, Mommy would forgive her. After all, she was being a big girl, and doing things all by herself without disturbing Mommy. 

Little by little, she turned the knob, watching the fire get bigger and bigger underneath her pot of water. She pulled up a chair, kicking her feet back and forth as she watched the pot, humming to herself. 

"Baby," came a voice. "What are you doing?"

Alyssa was descending the stairs- she hadn't seen Tierna yet. But, she was about to.

The little girl gasped, jumping out of her chair and causing it to clatter down to the floor. Alyssa's footsteps sped up, and she rounded the corner to see her little one, her loose sleeve hovering far too close to the flame on the burner, and about ready to trip over the chair that she had knocked over.

"Tierna!"

She lunged forward and turned off the stove, then snatched her little one in her arms, pulling her out of the kitchen and into the den. 

"Are you hurt?"

Tierna shook her head, and when she looked up at her Mommy, she knew that she was definitely in trouble. 

"Get on my lap, Tierna," said the older woman, sitting down on the couch and gesturing towards the spot where she wanted her baby. Tierna shook her head, already feeling ashamed tears spring to her eyes. She had known she was going to get punished as soon as Alyssa had caught her, but she hadn't expected this. The only time Mommy had ever spanked her before was when she had been mean to Mal during a playdate. 

"N-No, Mommy. Don' wanna spanking."

"I know, but it's not your choice, baby. On my lap, now."

Tierna considered her options. On one hand, she really really didn't want to get spanked. But, on the other, Mommy was already mad at her, and she wanted to be good now. Really, there was only one choice. 

So, steeling herself, she draped herself across Alyssa's lap. 

The older woman didn't drag it out, landing three light swats to Tierna's bottom. She whimpered, tears springing to her eyes. They fell as Alyssa hardened her swats, giving her five more before letting her go. 

Tierna was quick to cry when she was little, especially when Mommy was angry with her. Fat, hot tears were streaming down her cheeks, and she really, really wanted a hug. 

Alyssa seemed to realize this, pulling the little girl up into her arms. 

"It's okay, baby," she soothed. "It's all over. I've gotcha."

She cuddled closer into Mommy's chest, still sobbing. Alyssa rubbed her back, whispering soothing words, telling Tierna that it was all okay, that she was a good girl, that she was so loved. 

"I'm s-sorry, Mommy," she wailed. "I j-just wanted t-to not bother you!"

Alyssa cooed softly, rocking her baby back and forth gently in her arms. She ran her fingers through her hair, playing with the little butterfly clips and barrettes that held Tierna's hair back from her face. 

"I know, baby. But, do you know why I had to spank you?"

Tierna thought about it for a moment, tears beginning to taper off. 

"'Cause I broke one of Mommy's rules?"

"Yes, sweet girl. But, do you know why Mommy made that rule?"

Tierna shook her head. She had never really thought about why Mommy had the rules that she did and, quite frankly, she wasn't quite big enough to really think about it now.

"Because Mommy loves you, and wants to keep you safe. Using the stove when you're too little isn't safe, baby, and I would be so sad if my little one got hurt." 

Alyssa kissed the top of Tierna's head, and the little one snuggled closer.

"I'd be sad if Mommy got hurt," she whispered. "'M really sorry, Mommy."

"I forgive you, baby girl. But remember, my rules are to keep you happy, healthy and safe, and if you want food, Mommy will make it for you." 

Tierna wrapped her arms around Alyssa's neck, giving her Mommy a wet kiss on the cheek. The older woman laughed, plastering a line of kisses all across her baby girl's face until Tierna giggled, wiggling away from the onslaught. 

"What were you trying to make anyway, munchkin?" 

"Pasta," she responded. "But I think I'm too small to remember how."

Alyssa hopped up from the couch, carrying Tierna with her. 

"Well, lucky for you, Mommies are very good at making pasta."

 

Chapter Text

"I told you, Ali. I'm fine!"

Ashlyn coughed again, reaching for another tissue, and effectively undercutting her statement. She had been sick for two days now, and was getting grumpier and grumpier with every box of kleenex she went through. She had downed cold medicine, and headache medicine, and tums, and was trying to rest. It might take a few more days for the cold to run its course, but eventually it would.

But, Ali had other ideas about how to help her fiancee feel at least a little bit better. 

"Come on, love," said Ali, running a hand through Ashlyn's hair and giving her a kiss on the forehead. Ashlyn bit her lip, and brought up a hand to rub at her eyes. She knew that the gesture made her look small, but that didn't mean she was small. Not at all, nope. 

"It'll make you feel better."

The sippy cup on the table, filled up with orange juice, left Ashlyn in no doubt what Ali meant. But Ashlyn didn't need to be little, no matter how nice it would feel to slip down, to just let Mommy take care of her and make it all better. She was big. Definitely very big.  

So, she shook her head back and forth, blowing into another tissue and tossing it into the garbage can. 

"Okay, honey," said Ali, handing her fiancee yet another piece of kleenex. "Just... Mommy's always here to take care of her sweet baby girl, if you need." 

As Ali left the room to go cook up some soup for her ill fiancee, Ashlyn crossed her arms and pouted. It didn't matter that her nose and tummy were feeling icky, or that Mo- Ali- made the best soup ever. Ashlyn was a big girl, who didn't need her Momm- fiancee- to take care of her. Not one little bit. 

She coughed again, and her head spun. A wave of nausea hit her, and suddenly she was clutching her stomach. She tried to force the wave back down, but it just rose higher and higher. She tossed off her blanket and sprinted for the bathroom, just managing to bend over the toilet bowl before the contents of her stomach made their return. 

She didn't realize that she was crying until a sob sent another wave of vomit into the toilet. 

And suddenly, Ashlyn was definitely not a big girl anymore. 

"M-Mommy!" 

The shout echoed all the way to the kitchen, and Ali was there in only seconds. When she saw the state Ashlyn was in, she went to wrap her arms around the little girl. 

"Oh, sweetie," she sighed. "Did you throw up?"

Ashlyn nodded miserably, reaching out her arms for Ali and letting her Mommy pull her close to her chest and rock her gently. The older woman wet a washcloth with warm water and wiped Ashlyn's face gently. She flushed the toilet, and gave Ashlyn a little cup of mouthwash, mixed with plenty of water because pure mouthwash was far too strong for little girls, especially sick little girls. 

"Mama," whispered Ashlyn after spitting the mouthwash into the sink, where it disappeared in a green swirl. "Don' feel good."

Ali scooped her fiancee up into her arms, and Ashlyn leaned her head against the older woman's shoulder. She made to put her thumb in her mouth, but Ali gently pulled it away. 

"No, Ash. Thumbs aren't for sucking."

Ashlyn's illness, and her earlier fight against going down, must have made her even littler than usual- normally, she never sucked on her thumb. 

Ashlyn whimpered, and Ali deposited her onto the couch, wrapping her up in a fluffy blanket and sitting down beside her. She stroked her hair, running it through her fingers and humming softly. Ashlyn tried to pull her thumb back to her mouth, but Ali took the hand and rubbed each of her fingers. It felt so nice that Ashlyn forgot about trying to suck her thumb and just focused on Mommy. 

Mommy was humming to her, and even though Ashlyn couldn't quite make out the tune, it was still a comforting noise. 

"Do you want some ginger ale, baby girl?" 

That sounded good- ginger ale wouldn't hurt her stomach. Plus, Mommy never ever let her have fizzy drinks, so if she was offering, Ashlyn definitely wasn't going to say no! 

She nodded, and Ali gave her a kiss on the forehead before getting up and heading for the kitchen. She emptied the orange juice out of the sippy on the table, rinsed it out, and replaced the juice with ginger ale. She screwed the cap back on and walked back to the couch, where her sick baby girl was sniffling lightly. 

Where Ashlyn had rejected the sippy cup before, when she had insisted that she was a big girl, now she reached out for it eagerly. 

"T'ank you, Mommy," she said, bringing the cup to her lips and starting to suck on it. It was a mild ginger ale, because little Ashlyn was not a fan of strong things, and it was just right. 

"Slow down, monkey," said Ali, gently guiding the cup away from Ashlyn's lips. "Take little sips."

Ashlyn nodded, and finished the rest of the ginger ale the way Ali had directed. Once it was gone, Ali put the sippy on the coffee table. Ashlyn clambered onto her Mommy's lap, and Ali wrapped her arms tightly around her, reaching for the remote. 

"Do you want to watch a movie, baby girl?" 

Ashlyn nodded with as much energy as she could- not much- and took the offered remote from Ali. She flicked through their movies, looking for the one. She never quite knew what she wanted to watch until she found it, and today it just happened to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The first time she'd made this choice, it had been rather shocking to Ali- while she enjoyed the earlier Disney movies, Big Ashlyn enjoyed them to the extent that she could laugh at them. But, there was something about the simple stories that entranced her little monkey, and Ali was definitely not complaining. 

Ashlyn fell asleep a little way through the movie, but Ali let it finish playing before she hefted her wife up into her arms and carried her towards the bedroom. Ashlyn barely stirred when Ali deposited her on the mattress, draping a comforter over her and tucking her stuffed shark into her arms.

"Have a good nap, bug," she said, giving Ashlyn a kiss on the forehead and tiptoeing from the room, off to cook up some good foods for her baby girl's yucky tummy. 

Chapter Text

"Come on, imp," cajoled Alex. "Bathtime isn't that bad!" 

Kelley firmly disagreed, and she let Alex know it by crossing her arms across her chest and shaking her head back and forth. She was casting her eyes back and forth, looking for the best way to get past her girlfriend and out of the bathroom before the tub finished filling up.

It had been a busy day for Kelley: first, there had been practice, and while Alex had taken a shower, she had found herself rapidly finding her energy again. When her girlfriend had come out of the bathroom with her hair in a towel, clothed in jeans and a t-shirt, it had been to find a hyper little girl, asking for her Mommy to come and play with her. 

They had been playing non-stop since then, and Kelley had only gotten dirtier and sweatier. And, for little girls who were covered in dirt and sweat, there was only one place. 

"No thank you, Mommy. No bath today." 

Alex shook her head, exasperated. 

"Thank you for saying it so nicely, baby, but you still need to get into the bath."

Kelley pouted. She didn't want to take a bath- baths meant bedtime was coming, which meant that the day was over. 

"Don't want to, mommy."

Alex's patience was starting to wear thin- she was tired, she knew that Kelley was tired, and really, she just wanted to read her baby girl a book and snuggle her, but Kelley sure wasn't going to make it easy.

"Kelley, please get in the bathtub."

As if. Kelley glared at the water as if it had stolen her favorite toy, not budging an inch. 

"Kelley Maureen, I need you to get in that bathtub."

Not a chance. Alex stood up and took a deep breath, massaging her temple. She really wasn't looking forward to lifting a squirming little imp up into her arms and depositing her in the bathtub. But, she would if she had to. 

But, she would give it one last shot. 

"Come on, Kelley bear. The water's nice and warm, and I'll put in a whole lot of bubbles, and you can have a cookie before bed. How does that sound?"

Kelley considered. That didn't sound too bad, but she was still unsure. 

"Please, baby. Do it for Mommy?" 

That was what finally got her, and Alex sighed in relief as Kelley lifted her arms above her head so Alex could take her shirt off for her. Really, she was big enough to do it herself, maybe around four, but it was always so much nicer when Mommy did it for her. Alex laughed lightly, tossing her baby's clothes into the hamper. 

Kelley fell into the tub with a splash as Alex poured in the bubbles. The water was still running, nice and warm, and the tub got sudsier and sudsier. In spite of herself, Kelley giggled, scooping up a handful and tossing them at Alex. 

"You little devil," laughed Alex as Kelley splashed her. 

"Oopsie," said Kelley sarcastically, blowing Alex a kiss. "Now Mommy's all wet, too."

Alex reached for the shampoo, squeezing a small drop into her palm and instructing Kelley to tip her head back and get her hair wet. Then, she lathered it onto her baby's hair. All this did not seem to interest Kelley, who was trying to build a tower out of bubbles. 

"Eyes closed, baby," said Alex, and when Kelley obeyed, she poured cups of water over her girlfriend's hair until all the shampoo had gone. Then, it was time to run a bar of soap all across Kelley's formerly sweaty body, scrubbing off all the dirt and grime of the day. Again, this did not interest her baby. 

"There we go, baby," she said once she had finished cleaning Kelley's body (getting her arms incredibly bubbly in the process). "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"Can I stay in a little longer, Mommy?"

Alex laughed. Of course, Kelley hadn't wanted to get into the tub, and now she didn't want to get out. But, her baby girl was too adorable, all covered in bubbles and using more of them to draw on the wall of the tub, for her to say no. 

Kelley giggled lightly for a few more minutes, and Alex checked her phone to see that it was getting late. 

"Okay, imp," she said. "Time to get out." 

Kelley moaned in disappointment, but didn't fight Alex on this one. Instead, she launched herself out of the tub, bubbles and all, and jumped on top of Alex. 

"Ah, baby," groaned Alex, now with a lapful of soaking wet baby girl. Kelley was dripping all over her, and seemed very pleased with herself, demonstrating this by grabbing Alex's face and kissing her on the cheek. 

"Hi, Mommy." 

Alex just shook her head back and forth, reaching for a towel. She swore that Kelley was giving her premature grays. 

She wrangled her slippery baby girl into a towel, drying Kelley off and then wrapping the towel around her hair. She herself was still wet, and so she just stripped out of her jeans and sweatshirt. 


 

Once both she and Kelley were all dried off and wrapped up in their pajamas, and Kelley had eaten her cookie with a glass of milk, Alex slid into bed beside her still, unfortunately, awake little one. She knew that Kelley was tired- there was absolutely no way she wasn't, and she had been hoping that hitting the mattress would knock her baby right out. But Kelley was a stubborn thing, resolutely kicking her leg to show Alex that she was definitely not tired.

Alex was not fooled.

"It's time for tired little girls to calm down and go to sleep," she said, and Kelley groaned.

"But Mommy, I'm not tired."

Alex raised her eyebrows, pulling Kelley against her chest. 

"Okay," she said. "Then I suppose you don't want Mommy to cuddle with you?"

Kelley shrieked, folding herself closer to Alex. 

"No, Mommy! I wanna snuggle."

Alex smiled, running a hand through Kelley's hair. She felt Kelley starting to relax, and her breathing starting to slow. Her head was tucked against Alex's shoulder, and so Alex felt her baby yawn against her skin.

"There's my sleepy baby," she said. "My precious little girl."

Kelley nuzzled weakly against Alex, the heat of the other woman's body combined with her hands in her hair and her soft, sweet words, bringing her closer and closer to sleep. 

"Mommy," whispered Kelley, before she drifted off to sleep. 

Alex stayed awake for a few more minutes, stroking Kelley's hair. Her baby squirrel could be a handful, but Alex wouldn't trade her for anything. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Kristie could tell that her girlfriend was feeling especially bad today. Granted, the mood in the locker room was sour as the team changed back into their sweats and prepared to return to their hotel, and for good reason, but Rachel seemed to be taking the loss especially hard. 

If they wanted any shot at the playoffs, they had needed to win this game. 

And Rachel, as usual, was taking far too much of the loss on her own shoulders. 

"Hey, honey," she said, sliding her hand into her girlfriend's. "How are you doing?"

Rachel just shrugged as they walked out of the locker room and towards the bus, but she was gripping Kristie's hand tightly. The older girl ran a thumb over the back of Rachel's hand, trying to soothe her dejected girlfriend. 

"Rach," she said. "Baby, please talk to me."

"Mummy," the English girl whispered, voice tiny and vulnerable. "'m sorry."

Kristie cooed softly as she guided Rachel into her seat, not letting go of her hand. She should have guessed. Rachel wasn't little very often, but after a bad game was one circumstance where she could almost always be counted on to age down at least a little bit. It was rare, however, that she couldn't wait until they got back to their hotel room. 

"Oh, love, no. You don't need to be sorry."

Rachel whimpered, leaning back into Kristie's chest. As the rest of the team filed past them, Kristie shook her head gently whenever anyone seemed like they were about to check on Rachel. Although the team knew that this sometimes happened, her little one always got slightly embarrassed whenever anyone except Kristie saw her like this. 

"But I l-lost," she whispered. "'M bad."

Kristie pulled Rachel fully onto her lap, rocking her back and forth gently, heart breaking a little bit as she felt her baby's soft tears starting to drip onto her shoulder. 

"No, no, baby girl. You aren't bad, not at all. You played so well tonight, little one. And even if you hadn't played well, you'd still be my good little girl. Do you understand me, Rach?"

Rachel just cried, and so Kristie decided that it was time to play her ace. 

"Would Mummy ever lie to you, baby girl?" 

Rachel slowly shook her head. 

"That's right, love. Mummy will never ever lie to you."

Kristie rocked her little girl back and forth gently as the driver started the bus. Rachel cried softly, just letting her mummy rock her. Her thumb had found her way to her mouth, and while Kristie would normally replace it with her paci, said paci was currently back in their hotel room, in Rachel's diaper bag. And Kristie definitely didn't have the heart to disturb her little one when she was just starting to calm down. 

Rachel had drifted off to sleep against Kristie's chest by the time the bus pulled back into the hotel lot. The older girl had shushed her teammates several times when their conversations got too loud, gesturing towards the sleeping woman in her lap. Her teammates had all given her apologetic looks, and now the bus was nearly silent, allowing little Rachel to sleep.

"Okay, little one," said Kristie, regretfully shaking her baby girl awake. "It's time to get you inside."

Rachel rubbed her eyes, and Kristie had to stop herself from cooing in adoration. Instead, she gestured for Sofia to grab their bags, scooping her girlfriend up into her arms. Rachel's head returned to her shoulder, and Kristie considered every step carefully, making sure that she didn't trip and send her little one falling to the ground as well. 

The inside of the hotel was warm, making Rachel sink down even a little further. A piece of Kristie's hair somehow found its way into Rachel's mouth as Sofia followed them down the hallway towards their room. The woman who was not carrying the sleepy baby girl unlocked the door and deposited their bags just inside. 

"Thanks, Soph," said Kristie, depositing Rachel gently on their bed. "See you in the morning."

Sofia nodded.

"Night, Kris. Goodnight, honey," she cooed at Rachel. "Feel better, little one."

Rachel gave Sofia a tiny wave, and the young woman set off for her own room, leaving her just with her mummy. 

"Hey there, little one," said Kristie, digging through Rachel's diaper bag and pulling out a pull-up and her paci, along with one of the big t-shirts that she used as pajamas when she was little. 

Rachel didn't protest at all as Kristie stripped her out of her sweats, replacing the pants with a pull-up and the sweatshirt with the big shirt. She popped Rachel's paci into her mouth, and the little girl started suckling furiously at it. 

"How are you feeling, baby girl?"

Rachel shrugged, and Kristie lay down beside her, pulling her close to her chest. Rachel accepted the cuddles, still sucking on her pacifier. Mummy's arms were so warm and soft, and it was so comfy there, so safe. 

"'M okay, Mummy," she whispered. "Love you."

Kristie stroked Rachel's hair, pulling the covers over herself and her little one. 

"I love you too, Rachie. So, so much."

Rachel's paci slipped from in between her lips, and Kristie pressed it back in without delay. She definitely had a very, very sleepy baby girl- luckily, there was no need for either of them to move.

"Goodnight, little one," she whispered. "It's all okay."

The last thing that Rachel heard before drifting off to sleep, safe against Mummy's warm chest, was Kristie's soft voice.

"Mummy will be here in the morning."

Chapter Text

Dealing with an injured Sam Kerr was never exactly a pleasant experience. 

Dealing with an injured, little Sam Kerr was at least ten times worse, and Nikki frequently found herself rubbing her temples, trying to come up with creative new ways to keep Sam off her feet while also trying not to go insane with how much she wished that she could just let her little one run around. 

"Baby girl," she said, trying to keep the frustration out of her voice. "Remember what we do when we aren't feeling good?"

Sam groaned, crossing her arms across her chest in an obvious pout. 

"Dunno."

Nikki raised her eyebrows, and even though she was annoyed, she had to fight to keep a smile off her face, because Sam was just too adorable, pouting in a pair of overalls, hair pulled into two pigtails and feet clad in kangaroo patterned socks. 

"Are you sure, Samantha? Because I'm pretty sure that Mama has told you what we do when we aren't feeling well."

Sam pretended to think about it, then shook her head.

"Don't 'member, Mama." 

"Well, honey, when we aren't feeling well, we have to stay calm and not run around." 

Not being able to run around was practically a death sentence to little Sam's four year old brain, and her pout deepened. 

"But Mama," she whined. "There's nothin' to do."

Nikki gestured towards the coffee table, where she had already assembled a large amount of options, everything from puzzles to coloring books. 

"Yes, there is! Look at all of this!"

Sam shook her head, pulling her stuffed koala closer and taking a furious drink from her sippy cup full of apple juice. 

"Don't wanna."

The last word in her punctuated sentence was dragged out, and Nikki pinched the bridge of her nose.

"I can't understand whine, Samantha. What I can understand is that Mama said we aren't running around today, so that's how it's going to be." 

Sam kicked the table leg, then winced in pain as her toe connected with the hard wood. 

"But Mama-"

"We're not arguing about this, little one. I want to have a nice day with my sweet little girl, but it has to be a quiet day." 

Some part of Big Sam must still have been present, because the little girl seemed to be considering her options far more carefully than her small brain normally could: a quiet day with Mama, verses a day stuck on the couch, still unable to run around, but probably in time out instead of having fun. 

Nikki's shoulders relaxed in relief when Sam nuzzled her head against her shoulder, reaching for the crayons. 

"Okay, Mama. 'M sorry." 

"It's okay, little one. I know, it's no fun being hurt, but Mama really just wants to keep her little Sam all healthy." 

Sam planted a sloppy kiss on her Mama's cheek.

"Love you, Mama."

Nikki returned Sam's kiss with a flurry of her own. 

"I love you too, dingo. Now, do you want to color some pictures for Mama?" 

Sam nodded, the idea of coloring suddenly a lot more appealing than it had been a few minutes ago, because she could make something pretty for Mama. 

"Don' look, Mama," she said as she opened the coloring book. "Wan' it to be a 'prise."

Nikki laughed and she hopped up from the couch to go refill Sam's sippy cup with more juice. 

"Okay, love. What do you want for a snack?"

Nikki took more time than was perhaps necessary to prepare Sam's cheese and crackers, cutting up an apple and waiting for the telltale sound that her little one was finished with her drawing. 

"Mama!"

Nikki gathered up the plate, as well as Sam's sippy cup, and returned to the den. The younger woman had put her koala over the coloring book page, hiding it from her Mama's eyes. 

"So," asked Nikki. "Did you color a pretty picture for Mama?"

Sam nodded, moving her koala away and handing the drawing to Nikki. Her hand came up to her mouth, sucking at the very tip of her thumb as she waited for Mama's reaction.

It was a picture from her animals coloring book, a crocodile that Sam had chosen to color yellow, sky blue and magenta. The water surrounding him was a lighter shade of blue, and Sam had scribbled in simple little fish to keep the large animal company. 

"Like it, Mama?"

Nikki smiled widely, tracing her hand around the outline of the crocodile. Leave it to Sam to choose to color in a crocodile instead of a puppy or kitty or pony. And to, somehow, make a crocodile look cute.

"I love it, sweetheart! Do you want to write your name on it for me?" 

Sam nodded, picking out the black crayon. She carefully spelled out her name, then handed the paper back to Nikki. 

"Thank you, baby girl! How about you eat your snack while Mama puts this up on the fridge?"

Sam reached out and took a piece of cheese from the plate, popping it into her mouth. Nikki used a magnet to pin Sam's drawing to the refrigerator, then returned to sit next to her little one, pulling Sam onto her lap. In the moments between being handed the drawing and returning from pinning it to the fridge, it seemed to Nikki that Sam had gotten smaller, based on the way her girlfriend snuggled into her chest, hands shaking a little bit as she struggled to keep the piece of cheese on top of the cracker while bringing it to her lips. 

Nikki cooed, taking the snack from Sam's hand and feeding it to her, with sips of apple juice in between bites. As she fed Sam, Nikki wanted to sob with just how adorable her little Matilda was. Sam smacked her lips, not letting Nikki pull the sippy cup away from her lips. The way she sucked on it almost reminded Nikki of a little baby, drinking from a bottle. 

"Are you my sleepy little girl?"

Sam tried to shake her head, but was interrupted by a yawn. 

"I thought so. It's okay, sweetie. You can take a little nap, right here."

Sam drifted off to sleep on Nikki's lap, and the older woman stayed absolutely still, even when her legs started to fall asleep- there was absolutely no way she was going to risk waking her little dingo. 

Sam may have been the most dominant player on the field, and Nikki felt so blessed to be the one that the Australian could take off that hat around, to be the one that Sam trusted this much. To be Mama.

 

 

Chapter Text

"Not now, no, not now."

Tobin whimpered to herself, rocking back and forth on the bench in the locker room. She could feel herself starting to slip, and she tossed her head around, searching for the one person that could help her, the one person who might be able to calm her down, keep her okay before she ruined everything. 

But Christen was nowhere to be seen, and Tobin was slipping faster and further. It had been a rough game, and Tobin's leg hurt from an earlier foul, and she really just wanted Mommy. 

She flopped down so she was laying on the bench and brought a hand up to rub at her eyes. She wanted to suck her thumb, but there were so many people around, and none of them were Mommy. And Mommy was the only one who loved little Tobin- she was the only one who knew about little Tobin.

Every moment that Christen wasn't in the locker room, Tobin got smaller and smaller, until she could feel tears pricking at her eyes. 

She didn't realize that she was actually crying until Emily's eyes widened at the sight of her.

"Tobs? Tobin, what's wrong?"

Even the simple question was too much for Tobin to handle, and the light tears burst into full-on sobs. 

Every head in the locker room turned to stare at Tobin, and she whipped her head back and forth, searching for a place to hide. There was no place to go except a bathroom stall, and so she raced to it as quickly as she could, trying to pretend that this wasn't happening. Her hands were shaking too much to lock the door, and so it swung back open behind her.

None of her teammates ventured into the stall, but there was a small crowd in front of the door, every one of them wondering what was going on, and what they could do about it. 

"Tobin?"

Allie had taken the forefront position in the crowd, but even the sight of her close friend didn't do anything to comfort Tobin. 

"Wan' Mommy," she whimpered, unfortunately not far down enough not to recognize that the jig was up, that they were all going to find out.  "Need Mommy."

None of her teammates seemed to know what to do, all whispering to each other in confusion and helplessness as Tobin cried harder.

"What's going on? Why's everyone over here?"

Tobin's ears caught the familiar voice, and she whimpered again. 

"Mommy!"

The crowd parted as Christen shoved her way through, heart stopping at the sight of her poor little baby girl, arms wrapped around herself as she cried in the corner of a bathroom stall in the locker room. 

"Oh, sweetie," she said, and then Christen was sinking to the floor and pulling Tobin into her arms. The little one buried her face into her Mommy's shoulder, trying to let herself be comforted by the feeling of Mommy's gentle hand rubbing up and down her back.

"Hey, pumpkin," whispered Christen. "It's okay, shh. Mommy's here, you're safe." 

Christen could hear the others chattering in confusion behind them, but it was all white noise. Nothing mattered except her little one, sobbing into her shoulder.

It took Tobin a while to cry herself out, and while Christen hoped that at least some of the crowd would have abated by now, it hadn't. Every single team member was standing in front of the bathroom stall, watching Tobin and Christen with expressions ranging from pity to confusion. 

"There's my baby girl," said Christen, when Tobin's tears had become sniffles. "It's all okay."

Tobin squirmed uncomfortably, pointing with one finger towards the gathered crowd. Christen swore quietly.

"Could everyone wait over there for a few minutes?"

The team nodded and, talking amongst themselves, went to stand where the forward had indicated. 

"M-Mommy," whimpered Tobin. "Mommy, they all- all-"

Christen stroked Tobin's hair. She wasn't quite sure what to do about this- Tobin had never slipped in public before, and so none of their teammates knew. Well, they hadn't known until now. 

"Shh, pumpkin. It's okay. Now," Christen took on a more serious tone. "I need you to tell me what you want me to do about this. We can tell them all what's going on, or we can go home. But, baby, if we go home then they're all still going to want to know."

Christen's heart ached- she felt horrible, asking her baby girl to make such an adult decision when she was clearly not an adult, but there didn't seem to be any other choice. 

Tobin whimpered, and Christen could tell that she was terrified. But, she nodded.

"We gotta tell 'em, Mommy."

Christen nodded, helping Tobin to her feet.

"How about we have Mommy explain, and if I forget anything, then you can add it, okay?" 

Tobin nodded, hiding behind Christen as they walked towards where the team was gathered, faces filled with concern for Tobin. 

Christen took a seat on the bench, and Tobin climbed back up onto her lap, once again burying her face in her Mommy's shoulder.

"Okay," she said. "I'm sure you all have a lot of questions, but please hold onto them for a few minutes."

There were nods, and Christen continued.

"Tobin is very afraid right now, of how you all are going to react to this. So, please, keep your questions calm, and ask me, not her. She'll cut in and answer if she wants to. So, ask away, I guess."

The first tentative question came from Abby.

"What... What's going on? Is she okay?"

Christen bounced Tobin gently as she answered, rocking her baby girl back and forth.

"Right to the point. Sometimes, Tobin gets into a headspace where she feels and acts like a very young child. She'll be okay, but she's scared right now."

"Why... Why was she calling you Mommy?" 

There was no judgement in Crystal's voice, just concern and confusion, and Christen felt Tobin relax slightly. 

"When Tobin's little, she needs someone to take care of her, and so I act as her Mommy. I feed her, play with her, and most importantly, I comfort her when she needs me." 

"How old is she right now?" 

Christen took in everything that had happened in the last few minutes. She hadn't really gotten the chance to think about it, but it was clear that Tobin was littler today than she usually was, possibly littler than she had ever been before.

"Normally, she's around four or five, but I think she's younger today. If I had to guess, I'd say she's around two." 

A tiny nod against her shoulder confirmed the guess.

"Why does... why does she get little?"

AD looked like she wanted to come closer, but was cautious, afraid of frightening Tobin any further. Christen was about to attempt an answer to that question, but a little voice came from her arms.

"Need break fr'm bein' big," Tobin said. "Too much somet-times. Stre'ful."

Several players nodded, as if they could understand the feeling. 

When the questions seemed to have all been answered, Christen rocked Tobin gently as she fixed the team with an icy stare. 

"All of you," she said. "Listen to me carefully. You don't have to understand this, but this is a part of Tobin. The same Tobin you all know and love, and if any of you treat her any worse because of this, you'd better believe that I'll have words for you." 

Twenty one nods, each slightly unnerved at the vaguely concealed threat in the normally sweet forward's voice. 

"Christen," asked Allie. "Can we- do you think she... she wants to talk to us?"

Before Christen could answer, a little hand waved towards her teammates. 

"Hi, Allie," whispered Tobin, and a round of adoring sounds made their way through the gathered women. Christen nodded at Allie, allowing the other woman to approach. 

"Hey sweetie," she said. "How are you feeling?"

Tobin shrugged, still cuddled against Christen. 

"Okay," she said. "You don' hate me?"

Allie took Tobin's hand, rubbing a thumb over her friend's knuckles.

"Of course not, little one. We could never, ever hate you. We all love Big Tobin, and we love little you just as much."

The last bit of fear melted away from Tobin, and she found herself crying again, this time from relief as each of her teammates echoed the sentiment. 

By the time Christen and Tobin were alone in the locker room, Tobin had received twenty one forehead kisses, and Christen had received at least twelve offers to babysit, if she ever needed someone. The last ones to leave were Kelley and Alex, the defender gripping the forward's hand in a way that made Christen wonder if Tobin was the only little girl on the team. 

"How are you feeling now, pumpkin?"

Tobin smiled as Christen picked up their bags and offered her free hand to lead her baby to the bus. 

"'M lots better, Mommy," she said. "T'ank you." 

As they got settled in their seats, Tobin leaned against Christen's shoulder, thumb drifting to her mouth. 

"Of course, baby girl. Did you know something?"

Christen kissed Tobin's nose, heart filled with love for the little one beside her.

"You're Mommy's brave little girl." 

Chapter Text

 

The bed was all snuggly-warm, especially when Moe was wearing her footie pajamas. She had a sippy cup full of water on her bedside table, and her hair was in two braids to make it easier to brush out in the morning. She had her stuffed unicorn in one arm, and her alpaca in the other- Mommy had asked her why she slept with both of them at the same time, and had laughed when Morgan had responded very matter-of-factly that she didn't want either of them to get jealous. 

Her teeth had been brushed, and she was nice and clean from her bath. It was really the perfect bedtime, except there was only one thing missing.

"Mommy," she called. 

Kling popped her head out of their on-suite, where she was picking Morgan's clothes and towels up from the floor and depositing them in their hamper.

"Yes, jellybean?" 

"Will you please read me a story?" 

Kling dropped off the clothes and made her way to sit on the edge of the bed, beside Morgan. 

"Of course, sweetheart. Thank you for using your pleases. What do you want to hear tonight?"

Morgan didn't even have to think about it before she was wiggling around the bed in excitement, pointing to the book on her bedside table. 

"Madeline, Mommy!" 

Kling laughed. Really, she hadn't even had to ask- she didn't even know why they owned other books, when the adventures of one little French girl seemed to be the only story that ever interested Morgan. 

Climbing into bed beside the younger woman, Kling let Moe rest a head against her shoulder as she opened the book. 

"Don't you have this book memorized by now, jellybean?" 

"Just read it, Mommy," Morgan giggled. "And make sure you do the voices!"

"Alright, little one," she said.

Kling barely needed to look at the book anymore to know what it said. 

"In an old house in Paris, all covered with vines," she began. "Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines." 

By the time she was halfway through, making sure to use her best French accent for Miss Clavel, she could tell that Morgan was getting sleepy. The little one had let go of alpaca to take a drink from her sippy cup, and when she picked the stuffie back up, she rubbed it against her face, in a classic little girl sign of exhaustion. 

By the time Kling read the final sentence, Morgan's eyes had drifted shut, and she hoped against hope that her baby girl had fallen asleep. But, as the older woman went to turn off the light, a small voice interrupted her. 

"Again, p'ease?"

Kling laughed. 

"You'll be asleep before I finish, jellybean."

Morgan shook her head. 

"Nuh uh, Mommy." 

It was a clear lie, but Kling opened the book back to the beginning. 

"Okay, baby. But after this time, it's time to sleep. Deal?"

"Deal," yawned Morgan. 

Kling could tell that her little one was trying very hard to stay awake, but she was just too small and too tired to do so. Moe had fallen asleep by the middle of the book, but Kling kept on reading, just in case some part of the baby was still listening.

"'Goodnight, little girls, thank the Lord you are well. Now go to sleep,' said Miss Clavel. And she turned out the light, and closed the door, and that's all there is. There isn't any more." 

Silently, Kling set the book back on Moe's bedside table, tucked her unicorn back into her arms and gave her little one a light kiss on the forehead. It wasn't enough to wake Morgan up, but she snuffled softly, as if she knew that Kling was there, that her Mommy loved her.

"Goodnight, sweet Morgan," she whispered, tiptoeing back to the bathroom to start getting herself ready for bed. 

Later, when she slid into bed next to her little jellybean, Kling fell asleep stroking her baby's hair.

And, if she had dreams about old houses in Paris, all covered with vines, it was a small price to pay for the sweet little angel she got to call her baby girl. 

Chapter Text

"Please, Kristie," begged Abby. "I know it's weird, but I can't think of anyone else to call!"

Kristie swore quietly, silently asking God why her. Why now, of all times, did the Courage have to be in Houston? Why did Abby have to have a family emergency now? And why, why, why, wasn't she able to get ahold of anyone else. Literally. Anyone else.

But, her little sister was standing in the door quietly behind the friend who served as her caregiver during league play, holding a stuffed lamb that Kristie recognized from when they were children, and Kristie knew that she didn't really have a choice. Abby had to go, and Sam couldn't very well be left alone.

"Fine," she said, taking Sam's bag from Abby. "Is there anything I need to know about her?"

"She's pretty easy," said the relieved defender. "She'll eat anything you give her. Bedtime is the only thing that might be even a little tricky, because she thinks she's too big for pull-ups. She's not, so I put one in here for if she's still little at bedtime. She's got her lamb, and I put some books in her bag. Call me if there's any big problems, and I'll do my best to help. Thank you so much, Kristie. Really." 

Kristie nodded, Abby took Sam's hand and pulled her into the apartment, and suddenly Kristie was left alone with her little sister. Her littler than normal sister. 

"Hey, Sam," said Kristie awkwardly. Sam waved shyly back at her, and then silence fell. Sam walked, slightly unsteadily towards the couch, and plopped down, snuggling up in the corner and clutching her lamb to her chest. Her older sister rifled through the bag, hoping to find a toy for Sam to play with, but there was nothing except books. 

"Shit," she swore quietly. "What the hell am I supposed to do with her?"

A little giggle came from the couch, and Kristie turned around to see that Rachel had plopped down beside Sam, and taken one of her hands in her own. They appeared to be playing some sort of simple hand game, and Kristie watched as Rachel let her little sister win, placing her hand over her heart as if she'd been shot. Sam giggled again.

"Hey Kris," said her girlfriend. "Do we have any markers? Sam wants to draw pictures."

Kristie wracked her brain. 

"Maybe. I'll find something."

It took three drawers before she finally found a pack of colored pencils. She didn't know where they had come from, but she supposed they were good enough. The closest thing she could find to coloring paper was a notebook, but Sam didn't seem to have any complaints when Kristie presented the objects to her. 

"Look, Sammy," said Rachel. "Kristie found you something to draw with!"

"Thank you," whispered Sam, with a little smile. 

Kristie settled herself in the armchair next to the sofa and tried to focus on her book, but she ended up peering over the top, watching Sam concentrate on drawing. Her little sister had such a determined expression on her face as she gripped the yellow colored pencil. A fond smile crept onto her face. Sam really did look rather adorable, tongue sticking partway out of her mouth, her lamb clutched in her left hand while she drew with her right. 

Sam gave a little clap when she finished her picture, and held it up. Kristie caught a brief glimpse of two blonde blobs standing side by side, surrounded by scribbled little flowers. One of them was clearly Sam herself, but the hair of the other was too long for it to be Abby. It became clear who the other was when Sam shyly handed the drawing to Rachel. 

"Do you like it?"

As her girlfriend praised the drawing, Kristie felt a wave of something rising, something that made her chest tighten. It was only when Sam scooted closer to Rachel before starting to scribble another picture that she realized what it was: jealousy.

For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, Sam stuck close to Rachel's side. The Englishwoman seemed thrilled by the little girl, playing whatever little games Sam came up with. Sam even let Rachel watch her lamb when she went to the bathroom, and Kristie couldn't stop herself from clenching her fists as she stirred the pasta. Her sister had never let her hold the stuffed animal, not even when they were kids. 

By the time they sat down to dinner, Kristie was nearly seething. She didn't know what she had expected- it wasn't like she'd been exactly thrilled about babysitting her little sister, and so it was probably best that her girlfriend had taken the reins, saved her from being forced into the awkwardness that was caring for Sam like she was a toddler. 

"Okay," she said, forcing a smile onto her face and scooping three servings of spaghetti into bowls. "Dinner time!"

Rachel led Sam into the room and pulled her chair out for her. 

"Do you want help, Sammy?"

Sam thought for a minute as Kristie took her seat, then nodded shyly, putting her lamb on the seat next to her. She didn't typically need help eating, but if Rachel was offering, she wasn't going to say no.

"T'ank you, Rachel."

Rachel twirled a bite of spaghetti on Sam's fork and brought it up to the little girl's mouth, then took a bite of her own.

Kristie ate in silence. Goddamn it, why did Sam have to be so adorable? And why, why, why, was she getting so upset about the fact that her little sister liked her girlfriend better than her?

It was fine. Completely fine.


 

Kristie was sitting on the armchair, trying to focus on her book once again when a crash came from the kitchen, followed by a yell, and then the very clear sound of a little girl wailing.

"Shh," Kristie heard Rachel cooing. "It's okay, sweetie. It's okay."

Kristie peeked around the corner to see Sam on the floor, holding onto her arm. Rachel was trying to comfort her, but Sam was having none of it, holding onto her lamb with her non-injured hand and whimpering.

"Sweetie, it's okay," whispered Rachel, but Kristie could see that she was starting to freak out, especially when Sam scooted away from her, wailing louder. Then, Kristie heard what she was whimpering.

"Hurts." And "Kristie."

"Rach," she said, taking a step into the room. "Do you want to go look and see if we have any band-aids?" 

Rachel nodded and raced off towards the bathroom, seemingly grateful to be able to hand off the crying little one. Kristie approached Sam slowly at first, but when her little sister reached out her long arms for her, she sank down onto the floor alongside her and pulled her into her arms. 

Sam's face was sticky with tears as she buried it into Kristie's shoulder, but they seemed to be slowing. 

"Hey, Sammy," said the older, rocking her gently back and forth. "Did you get an ouchie?"

Sam nodded, pointing towards her elbow, which seemed to have scraped against the chair when she fell. There was a red mark, not bleeding, and it would definitely not have phased her little sister in the slightest if she was her big self, but for a little one, it was the worst. 

"That's no fun," she said. "But you're okay."

Sam sniffled, lower lip still trembling, and Kristie decided to pull out the secret weapon. It had worked for their mother when they were kids, and so it was definitely worth a shot here. 

"Do you want me to kiss it better?"

Sam's eyes widened. 

"Will 'dat make it better?"

Kristie nodded confidently. 

"Did you know that big sister kisses are magical?" 

She laid a small kiss on Sam's elbow, then took the band-aid from Rachel and pasted it over the red mark. 

"There you go, cupcake. All better!"

Sam let Kristie help her to her feet and back to the den, where she snuggled against her older sister's side, head resting against Kristie's shoulder. The older reached up and ran a hand through her little sister's hair.

"Hey, Rach," she said. "Can you put on Beauty and the Beast? The old one, not the remake."

Sam gasped happily. 

"You 'membered!"

Kristie laughed softly. 

"Of course I did, Sammy. You made me watch it so many times, how could I forget?" 

Sam started to doze off around halfway through the film, and so Kristie gently guided her to the bed in hers and Rachel's room and changed her into her pajamas and pull-up. To her surprise, her little sister didn't protest, just snuggled into the blankets and let Kristie take care of her. She was asleep before her sister could ask if she wanted to finish the movie. So, leaving the door cracked in case Sam woke up, Kristie emerged back into the den and laid her head against Rachel's shoulder. 

"You know," said her girlfriend. "I was worried for a minute, but you're really quite good with her." 

Kristie shrugged. 

"She's always been my little sister, and she always will be. Especially when she's littler than usual." 

Chapter Text

 

Emily blinked awake and took stock of herself. She hadn't been little when she went to sleep- it had been her job to wake Lindsey every few hours, keep track of her possible concussion. But, sometime during all that waking, she had gotten very sleepy, and a sleepy Emily almost inevitably led to a small Emily. 

Still, she had kept on waking her girlfriend, following all the protocols, and now it was starting to lighten outside, and somehow she felt awake now. But, still small. Definitely still small.

She debated shaking Lindsey awake, but it was still in the period where Mama was allowed to sleep. 

But, that didn't meant that Emily just had to lie there. Quite the contrary, in fact. 

So, carefully removing the covers from her side of the bed, Emily toddled down to the kitchen. She wasn't allowed to use the stove, or the coffee machine, or the oven, but that didn't mean she couldn't do anything. 

She pulled open the cupboard, looking for the one thing that she was allowed to make when she was little. Normally, Mama would insist on healthy cereal for Emily, and even when she softened up and let her little girl have sugary cereal, she herself would always stick to her diet. 

But, thought Emily, Mama wasn't feeling well. And Mama always let Emily have treats when she was feeling icky, and so the little one was pretty sure that it was okay for Mama to have some.

Lucky Charms, that was it!

Emily stood up on her tiptoes, reaching for the cabinet where they kept their bowls. They were pottery, so she had to be really careful- Mama wouldn't like being woken up by the sound of Emily breaking something, no matter the intentions. 

Humming to herself, she managed to pull down one of their bowls, then poured the cereal into it. Topping it off with soy milk, she looked at the clock. Still ten minutes before she had to wake Mama up again. 

It took her the better part of those minutes to get back to hers and Lindsey's bedroom, taking every step carefully so as not to jostle the bowl of cereal that she had prepared for Mama. 

She set it on the bedside table, then climbed back into the bed, cuddling back in next to Mama. 

"Mama," she whispered, shaking Lindsey gently. "Mama, it's time to wake up."

Lindsey didn't stir at her first effort, and so Emily poked her in the side. 

"Mama," she said louder, and Lindsey opened her mouth in a yawn. 

"Good mornin', Mama," she said sunnily. 

Lindsey opened her eyes slowly, and Emily was present enough to check over her girlfriend for signs that her possible concussion was worsening. 

All good, so she snuggled in closer. 

"Good morning, Em," yawned Lindsey, maneuvering herself into a sitting position. 

"Is someone little this morning?"

Emily nodded against Lindsey's shoulder, and her Mama wrapped her arm around her, pulling her closer. 

"I've gotta surprise for you," said Emily, after a few blissful moments of letting Lindsey pet her tangled hair. 

"What is it, baby girl?"

"Made you breakfast!"

"Emily Ann, did you-"

"Don' worry, Mama! Just cereal!" 

Lindsey relaxed, and accepted the offered bowl from her little one. She laughed when she was what cereal her baby had decided to feed her, but popped a spoonful into her mouth.

"Thank you, muffin. What do you want to do today?"

Lindsey finished her breakfast, then swung her legs around and made to get out of bed, but was stopped by a little girl plopping down into her lap. 

"Nope. We're gonna be quiet today, Mama!"

"Really?" Lindsey asked incredulously as Emily cuddled against her chest. "You're going to be quiet and calm?" 

Emily nodded matter-of-factly. 

"Mama's sick, so I gotta be."

It wasn't the most interesting day they'd ever passed together, and Lindsey couldn't help but feel guilty that she couldn't play with her little muffin like she usually did.

"'S okay, Mama," whispered Emily, kissing her on the cheek when Lindsey apologized for how boring (her words) she had to be today. "I love you anyway."

"I love you too, muffin," said Lindsey, petting Emily's hair as they cuddled on the couch, watching their second Disney movie of the afternoon. "I promise, we can have fun soon."   

Chapter Text

Her blanket was so soft. Her Mum had bought it for her before she left for Portland, and sewn a patch of fabric onto its fuzzy surface. 

For Ellie: All my love, Mum

She rubbed the surface against her face, and reached under the bed for the box she had hidden from her flatmates. They didn't need to see it- they already thought of her as a little kid. They didn't need to know that she had this. 

"Fuck," she whispered, pulling out the stuffed tiger and pulling it close to her chest. 

Her brain was buzzing with loneliness, and she felt so much smaller than eighteen. She shouldn't be eighteen, she wasn't... she was just a little kid. What the hell was she doing here?

She buried herself underneath the blanket, and she couldn't quite stop herself from crying. It started off as sniffles, but soon turned into full sobs. 

"Ellie?"

She felt the bed dip as another person joined her in the room. She knew instantly who it was, because it was the one voice in the apartment that didn't remind her of home. 

"El, do you want to be alone?"

Ellie shook her head frantically, pulling the blankets off and revealing her tearstained face to Lindsey.

"Oh, Ellie," said the older woman. "Oh, honey, what's wrong?"

All the teen could do was sob, pulling her tiger closer. Lindsey sighed, pulling Ellie into her arms, blanket and all. 

"It's okay," soothed the older woman. "Just let it out."

Ellie whimpered, letting Lindsey cradle her. She really did feel like a small child, being rocked by her mother, and it only made her cry harder, because every moment she got more and more homesick. 

"Shh," Lindsey whispered. "It's gonna be okay."

Eventually, her tears tapered off, but somehow she still felt... small? She used her tiger to wipe her eyes, and Lindsey stroked a hand through her hair. 

"Do you want to tell me what's up, El?"

Somehow, for some reason she couldn't fathom, she found herself talking. 

"I... I just... I'm too young for this. I'm thought I was ready, but I don't... I don't think I am. I just want my mum."

She buried her face in Lindsey's shoulder and let the older woman hold her close. 

"Oh, baby," cooed Lindsey. "I know. I know."

And, if Ellie could pull herself up out of the fog for long enough, she would have realized that Lindsey did know. She knew exactly how Ellie felt- she might have been the only person close by who did.

"I feel... small," Ellie admitted. "I'm just a..."

Lindsey nodded- she knew the feeling all too well. 

"You're not just a kid, Ellie. You're such a badass. But, even total badasses need to chill sometimes. Do you feel... If you need to be a bit... small, I can help."

Inexplicably, Ellie found herself nodding. 

"You sure?"

Lindsey pulled her closer, gently pulling her tiger away from her eyes and tucking it into her arms. 

"I'm sure, little one. Just tell me if anything makes you uncomfortable."

Ellie nodded, and suddenly she was being lifted off the bed by the American, making sure to hold onto her tiger as the blanket fell away. 

"Do you want a snack, sweetie?" 

Ellie nodded, and Lindsey sat her down on the couch, walking to the kitchen and digging in the pantry.

"Do want some strawberries or some blueberries, little one?"

"Both?"

Lindsey laughed, returning moments later with the snack and handing it to Ellie, along with a napkin. The young Australian scooted closer, leaning her head against the American. 

"Thank you," she whispered, popping a strawberry into her mouth and chewing it slowly. 

Lindsey flicked on the TV, quickly changing the channel away from the violent show it had been left on and pulling up Netflix. 

"What do you want to watch, sweetie?"

Ellie thought about it for a minute, before pointing toward Coco. Lindsey smiled, pressing play, then moving her hands to fiddle absently with Ellie's hair. As the film played, she wound little braids into the silky smooth mane, overjoyed to be able to see Ellie relax and lean into the touch. 

As for the young Australian, she was focused on the bright colors and pretty music and cute story of the film, but she was also focused on how nice it felt to have someone playing with her hair. At some point, she had ended up in Lindsey's lap, which was almost as cozy as the blanket, especially with her tiger sitting in her own lap. 

Even when the movie ended, there was no real need for either of them to move- Lindsey was still petting her hair, and Ellie let her eyes drift shut, rubbing her face with a closed fist. 

"Are you tired, baby?"

She nodded, leaning back into Lindsey's shoulder. The older woman wrapped her arms around her bottom, shifting her so she could pick her up. Ellie whimpered as tiger fell to the ground, but Lindsey had already dipped them down to pick up the stuffie and put it back in her arms. 

"There you go, sweetie. I think it's naptime for sleepy kiddos, though."

Ellie didn't protest, just let Lindsey deposit her in her own bed, fetching Ellie's blanket from her room and wrapping it around the teen. 

"Do you want me to stay until you fall asleep?"

Ellie nodded sleepily, grabbing onto Lindsey's arm in the hand not holding her tiger. The American looked down at her fondly, taking a seat on the edge of the bed. It didn't take long before Ellie's grip slackened, and Lindsey knew that her teammate had fallen asleep. 

"Have a nice nap, little one," she whispered, flicking the lights off and tiptoeing out to fire up her laptop. It looked like she had some shopping to do. 

Chapter Text

Lauren had only just woken up, and her first cup of coffee was still warm in her hands as she sat at the kitchen table. She had peeked into the guest room while coming downstairs, and Morgan was still sound asleep, all tangled in her blankets. Her mess of hair was spread out across the pillow like a halo, and her pacifier had fallen out of her mouth sometime during the night. Lauren knew that she would have to find it before naptime- it was probably tangled up in the blankets. 

She had smiled softly at the sight of the sleepy little one- it had been a chore getting Morgan to bed last night, and the minor tantrum that the little one had thrown had exhausted her as well as Lauren. She took another sip of her coffee and reached for her laptop, pulling up the daily New York Times' crossword. 

She had worked through about half the clues by the time she heard a tiny noise from upstairs. Pushing out her chair and setting her mug back down onto the table, she walked upstairs and popped her head into the room which served as Morgan's nursery. 

"Good morning, sweetheart," she said, upon seeing that Morgan's eyes had fluttered open. The little girl rubbed her eyes, yawning, and Lauren didn't bother to suppress an adoring smile at the sight of the baby- her Morgan was such a cute little thing. 

Morgan reached out her arms for Lauren, and the older woman pulled her out of bed. Since she had retired, her motivation for continuing to work out was to be able to lift Morgan like her little girl was the size of one. 

"Good morning, mommy," said Morgan, nuzzling her cheek against Lauren's. Once the older woman had gotten the younger settled in her arms, she gave her a little kiss on the head. 

"How about I get you dressed, little one?"

Morgan nodded, letting Lauren pull the oversized tee she slept in off over her head. Her pull-up was dry, and so Lauren was able to quickly replace them with a pair of panties and pink leggings. A fluffy black sweater and pigtails completed the look. 

"You're so cute," the older woman cooed, taking Morgan's hand and leading her downstairs. When Morgan was little, she was sometimes a little off balance, and so Lauren kept ahold of her hand. Morgan took every step carefully, and when they got to the bottom of the staircase, she pulled out the chair for her little one.

"Do you want some breakfast, pumpkin?" 

Morgan nodded, and so Lauren poured out two bowls of cereal, one for her and one for her little one. Morgan also got a glass of orange juice, while Lauren started another cup of coffee. 

The little one smacked her lips as she ate, and Lauren lost interest in her own food, absorbed by watching the little motions of her baby girl.

"Thank you, Mommy," said Morgan when she finished, taking the last sip of orange juice from her plastic cup. Lauren swooped in to gather the dishes, dropping them in the sink. 

"Do you want to go play for a few minutes while Mommy does some dishes, baby?"

Morgan nodded, skipping off to the den. Lauren heard the distinctive rustling of the toy box being pulled out from inside the closet, followed by happy giggling as she rediscovered all of the toys that she hadn't seen for a long time- since the last time she had been little at Lauren's. 

She was scrubbing Morgan's plastic bowl when she heard the crash, followed by the unmistakable wail of a little girl. 

Dropping the dishes back into the sink, Lauren raced into the den.

"Moe! What happened?"

It became clear exactly what happened when she saw Morgan clutching her foot, her toy castle lying on its side. Her face was red, and she was crying in pain. 

It wasn't a very heavy castle, but it was certainly enough to hurt- especially when it landed right on Morgan's sensitive toes. 

"Oh, babygirl," she cooed. "Did you get hurt?"

Morgan nodded, whimpering and reaching her arms up for Lauren. The older woman bent down and scooped the sniffling girl up into her arms. 

"It's okay, baby," she said, carrying her back to the kitchen and depositing her into the chair. Gently, she took Morgan's foot into her hand and examined the wound. 

Really, there was very little damage to Morgan's toe- just a red mark. Lauren had a theory that the loud noise and the surprise were as much the reason for Morgan's tears as the actual pain. 

"What do you think, baby? Is it gonna fall off?"

Morgan giggled, tears tapering off. 

"You're silly, Mommy!" 

Lauren placed a hand over her heart, pretending to be offended. 

"Me? Silly? How dare you?"

Morgan laughed again, leaning forward to give Lauren a kiss on the cheek. The older woman took full advantage, pulling the little one into her arms and tickling her. Morgan shrieked with laughter, writhing in Lauren's arms and trying to flee from the onslaught. 

"Noooooo, Mommy! No tickle!" 

Lauren relented, stopping her fingers and planting a kiss to the tip of Morgan's nose. 

Lauren was unconvinced by Morgan's claim that her toe still hurt, and that she definitely couldn't walk, but when the little cupcake stuck out her lower lip and widened her eyes, the older woman plucked her up off the ground and carried her back to the kitchen. 

While Lauren finished the dishes, Morgan swung her feet back and forth and colored in a picture of a unicorn, filling the page with all sorts of blues, pinks, and purples. The older woman lost herself in watching the way Morgan concentrated on keeping the crayons inside the lines, and accidentally washed the same cup three times. 

Once she had dried the last dish, Lauren sat back down beside Morgan, peering over her shoulder at the unicorn. 

"That's very pretty, sweetheart." 

Morgan nodded her thanks, barely looking up as she concentrated on perfectly coloring in the mane. 

Lauren got back up to put the dishes away- her little one was occupied at the moment. But, they had all day for her to spoil her cupcake. 

 

Chapter Text

"Shh, shh."

Christen bounced Mal up and down, rubbing her back. The little girl was fussy, whimpering out her displeasure. The older woman didn't know what was wrong- she had tried everything she could think of to comfort the little one.

She had tried changing her diaper, she had tried feeding her, she had tried rubbing her sore legs... nothing had worked. 

"It's okay, sweetie," she cooed. "Shh, don't cry. Mommy's here." 

Mal wailed, burying her face in Christen's hair. The older woman sat down on the couch, rocking Mal back and forth gently. The little girl was still crying, and Christen was nearing the end of her rope. She wished she could just ask the little one what was wrong, but Mal almost never spoke when she was little. This, of course, made it far more difficult to care for her. 

"I've gotcha, baby," whispered Christen. 

Mal continued to wail, and the sound was heartbreaking for the woman trying to comfort her. She knew how to take care of kids- she had babysat little ones before, for extended periods of times. But, she had never cared for someone quite as... small as Mal before. She knew how to do it, but when her baby wouldn't stop crying... 

She held Mal in her lap, rocking her and humming softly. The melody was quiet and soft, and she wasn't even quite sure what tune it was- possibly one from the Disney movie she'd put on for Mal last night. 

But, the humming seemed to be working. Mal's sobs were beginning to quiet, and Christen returned to bouncing her gently as she hummed. The baby sniffled, rubbing her face against Christen's shoulder, creating a damp spot on her shirt. 

"There you go, baby," she hummed. "It's okay. Mommy's gotcha." 

Finally, Mal's tears had tapered off, but Christen continued to rock her, rubbing her back. She reached for the side table, grabbing Mal's pacifier and popping it into her mouth. The baby started to suck at it, eyes fluttering as she cuddled against Christen.

The older woman had to stop herself from sighing in contentment at how adorable her little baby girl was. Instead, she hummed softly again, trying to soothe her little girl into a nap. Of course, this was what Mal had needed- just a nice nap.

Christen had tried to put Mal in her crib earlier, only to have her screaming worsen. She guessed that she just needed to fall asleep in Mommy's arms- not all alone in a crib.

"There you go, little one," she cooed. "That's it, it's naptime for baby girls."

It didn't take Mal much longer to fall asleep, suckling gently on her pacifier and leaning her head against her Mommy's shoulder. Carefully, Christen lifted Mal into her arms, carrying her carefully to the spare room, where she set up the crib every time the baby visited. Mal awoke briefly when Christen put her down, but when the older woman tucked one of her stuffies into her arms, she drifted back to sleep. 

Christen smiled softly, covering her baby girl with a soft fleece blanket. Before she tiptoed out of the room, she switched on the baby monitor. Mal's cries were normally loud enough for Christen to hear without the monitor, but it always made her feel better to have it on. Just in case... 

"Have a good nap, baby girl," she whispered, exiting the room and settling herself into an armchair. She opened her book to the place where she had left off, thumbing through the pages, enjoying the few minutes of quiet. 

She loved caring for Mal, but an afternoon of a sobbing baby was enough to take a little bit of a toll- she was grateful for the chance to recharge. 

She got through a few chapters before little sniffles began to come through on the baby monitor. Putting her bookmark in, she hopped up to collect her little one before the crying started again. 

"Hey, little one. Did you have a nice nap?"

The question didn't really compute in Mal's head, and if it did she didn't have the words to answer. But, she did understand the loving tone coming from Christen's mouth, and so she reached her arms up to be pulled from her crib, keeping a hold on her stuffie. 

She checked the little one's diaper, then carried her over to the yoga mat that she had laid on the floor as a makeshift changing table. Mal, unlike many of the other littles that Christen had babysat as a favor for her teammates, was too small to be embarrassed by it. But, she made quick work of it anyway, replacing her little one's wet diaper with a clean one. 

"Hey, baby," she cooed. "Do you wanna play with your blocks?"

Mal gave her a smile, and so Christen pulled her back up into her arms and carried her back towards the living room. On the way, she grabbed the bag of foam blocks that Mal liked to play with. She put the baby down on the carpet, and the little one immediately slumped down onto her stomach, still holding her stuffed animal to her side. 

Christen knelt down and poured the colorful toys onto the floor. Mal grabbed for the biggest one, using it as a base for her tower. Christen built a mini tower of her own while watching Mal, handing over any block that her little one looked at longingly. Mal pushed herself up onto her knees with some effort, reaching higher to put the smaller blocks on the top of her tower. 

"Oh, look at that, baby! It's so tall!" 

Mal giggled softly as Christen praised her tower, then fell back down onto her stomach and pulled her stuffie closer, her thumb drifting towards her mouth, her paci having been left in her crib. Christen knew that she wasn't tired- she had just taken a nice nap. Probably hungry, then. 

So, Christen deposited Mal at the table and pulled out her leftovers from last night. As Mal cuddled her stuffie, the older woman spooned the food into her mouth. 

"There you go, little one," she said. "Yum!"

Mal opened her mouth like a baby bird, begging for another bite. She smacked her lips adorably, and Christen wanted to pop her bottle into her mouth, see the way Mal's lips relaxed around it, how at peace she was. 

But, bottles put Mal to sleep, and there would be time for that later- meanwhile, Christen was content to spoon food into the baby's mouth. 

"I love you, little one," she said between bites.

Although Mal didn't answer, she leaned forwards and nuzzled her forehead into Christen's free hand, and Christen knew that counted as an I love you, too. 

Chapter Text

Alex Morgan was in a mood. It was abundantly clear to everyone who came into contact with her that day, witnessed her glare and heard her kicking her locker when it wouldn't open. By the end of practice, everyone was walking on eggshells around her, afraid to anger the forward even further. 

Everyone, that is, except Kelley O'Hara. 

The defender watched Alex as she stormed around the locker room, making no motions to leave and instead continuing her rage, roughly shoving everything inside the locker, kicking away Allie's cleats and growling in frustration. Everyone else was in rather a hurry to leave, and soon it was just Kelley, sitting on the bench, wondering how long she should wait before alerting her friend to her presence. 

When Alex pulled back her fist to punch the locker, Kelley stood up.

"Alex! Stop it!" 

The forward turned around, eyes furious. 

"Fuck off, Kelley!" 

Kelley was unfazed. 

"Alex, hon, what's wrong?"

"Why would anything be wrong?"

Kelley raised her eyebrows, sitting back down on the bench and gesturing for her best friend to sit beside her. 

"Oh, let's see... Where should I start?" 

Alex let out a wordless scream, and Kelley could see that her eyes were glittering with tears, along with the rage that filled them.

"Fuck off!"

"Sorry, sweetie. Not happening. Wanna come tell me what's up?"

Alex kicked the bench, and Kelley decided to try her trump card. 

"Do you want me to call your Daddy?" 

Out of the entire team, Kelley was the only one who knew about the other side of Alex's relationship with her husband. Sometimes, Alex needed to be smaller, and Servando took care of her. Kelley had only seen Alex little once or twice, but it seemed like a sweet relationship to her. 

That was why it was such a surprise when Alex's knees gave out, and she collapsed to the floor, tears breaking free and sobs wracking her body. She wrapped her arms around herself, rocking back and forth, and Kelley was at her side in an instant, pulling Alex to her and wondering what on Earth was going on with her best friend. 

"Honey," she whispered. "Honey, it's okay. It's okay, what's wrong?" 

Alex was sobbing too hard to form complete sentences, but Kelley did manage to understand a few choked words. Enough words to make her want to kick her friend's husband straight in his cock. 

"D-Daddy... Da' don' want me anym-m-more! Say 'm t-too much!"

Kelley pulled Alex closer, mind ablaze with conflicting desires: first, the desire to slash Servando's tires for daring to hurt this sweet baby girl, and second, the desire to never ever let Alex go, to comfort her and keep her safe. 

The second won out- though she certainly hadn't ruled out the first- and she whispered softly to Alex, petting her hair and letting the forward bury her face into her shoulder, soaking her shirt with heartbroken tears. 

"Shh, little one. Shh, I'm here. I'm here."

Eventually, Alex's tears tapered off, and she went almost limp in Kelley's arms. The only noises coming from her were little sniffles- sad noises, because she was too tired to cry anymore. 

"Oh, baby girl. Do you want to come and stay in my room tonight?" 

Alex nodded, and Kelley sighed in relief- she would feel so much better with Alex nearby, just in the next bed. 

"K-Kewey," Alex whimpered, and Kelley helped her to her feet, letting the forward lean against her shoulder as they walked back out. 

When they got back to the hotel, Kelley could tell that Alex was, although not sobbing anymore, still feeling very clingy, and very small. Sonnett vacated their room with no argument when she saw the state of the older woman, Kelley pulling Alex's key card out of her bag and handing it to the younger defender. Then, she settled Alex on the edge of her bed. 

"Do you want me to run you a bath, baby girl?"

Kelley wasn't expecting her friend to nod so quickly- Kelley may have been her best friend, but she wasn't Daddy. Yet, Alex nodded, sniffling lightly.

"Shit," whispered Kelley as she filled the tub with warm water. She had never taken care of Alex before, not when she was little. But, it wasn't like she had much of a choice, unless she wanted to turn her best friend over to one of their other teammates- abandon her just like Servando had. 

That thought was absolutely unthinkable, especially when Alex gripped her hand tightly after being deposited in the bathtub. Nobody was going to take care of Alex except for her, not unless Alex asked for someone else. And, honestly, Kelley didn't see that happening, at least not at the moment. 

"There you go, honey. Does that feel a bit better?"

Alex nodded, letting her eyes drift closed and the thumb that wasn't occupied holding Kelley's hand migrate up to her mouth. 


In the morning, Kelley woke up with empty arms. She gasped, sitting up so quickly that she almost got whiplash, because Alex had fallen asleep snuggled against her chest, and she wasn't here now. After a moment of panic, she heard the sound of the toilet flushing in the bathroom. 

So, Alex had woken up big. 

The bathroom door opened slowly, and Alex turned bright red when she saw that Kelley was awake. 

"Fuck," she whispered. "Kell, I..." 

"If you're about to apologize, don't bother," said Kelley, gesturing for Alex to rejoin her on the mattress. "It's okay."

"But," protested Alex. "But I... You... You didn't need to..."

"Yeah," said Kelley. "I did. You're my best friend, and I will always take care of you. And more than that-" 

She put up a finger to stop Alex from speaking, from protesting against what she was about to say. 

"More than that, I don't mind. You're such a sweet baby, and it was my pleasure to take care of you last night. In fact..."

Kelley hadn't even thought about it, but the words were natural. The moment she had heard that Servando had abandoned Alex, this was what was going to happen, even if neither of them had fully realized it. 

"In fact, if you want me to, I'd be honored to take care of you whenever you need me."

Alex's eyes widened in disbelief- she looked at Kelley like she was a unicorn, some fantastic creature that she never would have believed was real, and once again Kelley wanted to kill Servando. How cruel would someone have to be, to abandon such a sweet baby girl like she was nothing.  

"R-Really? You promise?"

Kelley nodded, pulling her friend onto her lap and tucking her head against her shoulder. 

"I promise, sweetheart. I'll take care of you as long as you need me, and I swear that I won't leave you."

Alex was crying again, but this time the tears were happy ones. 

"Can I... Can I call you Mommy?"

Kelley laughed lightly, kissing the top of her new little one's head. 

"Of course you can, baby girl. I'd love that." 

"Thank you, Mommy," whispered Alex, slipping back down, and Kelley smiled at the name, and at the way Alex felt in her arms.

Yes, she could get used to this. 

 

Chapter Text

Rachel giggled happily, pushing her little toy boat across the shallow water in the bathtub. The makeshift ocean formed out of the porcelain basin was swirling around the boat as she prepared to sink it. She let go of the toy and brought both her hands down, palms flat. Instead of sinking the boat, the little splashes of water flew over the edge of the tub and onto Kristie's sweatpants, who was trying to wrangle the shampoo bubbles out of Rachel's hair without interrupting her playtime. 

"Baby," she said. "You know you aren't supposed to splash." 

"Sorry, Mummy," said Rachel absently, already re-evaluating the situation of the toy boat. It had survived one ocean wave, but there was no way it would survive the next one! She was going to sink it!  

Kristie poured another warm cup of water over her head, washing out the rest of the fruity smelling shampoo, shielding Rachel's eyes so none of the soap could get into them. Rachel wriggled away from her, concentrating on propelling the boat to the edge of the tub. 

She rocked back and forth in the tub, causing the water to slosh.

"Tidal wave!"

The water splashed onto the boat, filling it with water and sending it spiraling to the bottom of the tub. Unfortunately, the water also sloshed over the side of the tub, not only soaking Kristie and the bath mat, but a good part of the tiling on the floor as well. 

"Rachel!" 

All the thrill of sinking her toy boat was gone when she heard the tone in Mummy's voice. 

"Okay," she said. "Out of the tub."

As Kristie helped her clamber out of the tub and toweled her off, wrapping a second fluffy towel around her wet hair, the usual warmth of their interactions was diminished. Kristie was glaring down at the floor, growling internally at the thought of the mess that she now had to clean up. 

Her sweatpants were absolutely soaked, and covered with leftover suds. And it would likely take the rest of their clean towels to mop up the mess on the floor, meaning that she would have to start laundry. But, what was bothering her the most was that she had told Rachel not to continue splashing, and her little girl hadn't even waited a minute before either forgetting or flat out ignoring that, and creating an even bigger mess. 

"Mummy-" Rachel said, but Kristie was not yet in the mood to hear the little one's excuses, cutting Rachel off by pulling her rainbow patterned nightgown over her head and tossing the towels into the hamper.

"Rachel," she said, trying not to let the anger into her voice, trying to keep her tone calm. "I need you to go and sit in the time-out chair while I clean up your mess." 

Rachel whimpered, already shuddering at the thought of the time-out chair and beginning to tear up, because it was very clear that Mummy was mad at her. But, something in Mummy's voice told her that now was not a good time to argue about it. So, hanging her head, she left the bathroom and walked towards the backless stool sitting in the corner of their bedroom. It was rarely ever used- Rachel didn't normally act up. In fact, the last time the time out chair had been used was when Kristie had been babysitting Sam, and her little sister decided that it was somehow a good idea to eat each and everyone of the cookies from the top of the fridge. 

Abby had not been thrilled- especially when the little one had gotten a rather nasty stomachache.

As a shamefaced Rachel went to sit in the time out chair, Kristie opened the bottom drawer of the cabinet and dropped their last two towels onto the puddle created by Rachel's antics, soaking up the mess. Then, gathering their hamper, she took off her sweatpants and tossed them in with the rest of the wash and started the cycle. 

Finally, she took a look at herself in the mirror, and counted slowly to ten, calming her breathing. She was angry at Rachel, of course. But, she couldn't lecture her little one properly if she wasn't calm. 

"It's fine," she whispered to herself in the mirror. "You're fine. You can handle your own kid."

Then, opening the door, she emerged out into their bedroom, putting on a new pair of sweats before she turned to look over at Rachel, slumped over in the time out chair, looking absolutely pathetic.

Her heart clenched- the little whimpers coming from the stool told her that Rachel had started crying, staring at the wall. Kristie sat down on the bed and patted the spot next to her. 

"Rachel," she said, fighting to stop herself from calling her little one baby girl or sweetheart. Now was not the time for that. 

"Come here." 

Even though it meant a lecture, Rachel didn't hesitate to jump up from the time-out chair and race over to sit next to Kristie. The elder put a hand on her baby's shoulder, rubbing it gently to give her little one some form of comfort. 

"Rachel," she said. "Do you know why Mummy had to put you in time out?" 

Rachel sniffled, nodding. 

"'Cause I splashed." 

Kristie nodded. 

"Not just because you splashed, Rachel. Because Mummy asked you not to splash, and you did it anyway, and Mummy had to clean a lot of water off the floor." 

Rachel whimpered, still crying. God, how Kristie longed to pull her into her arms and rock her, make all the pain go away. But, there would be time for that once they had finished talking about this. 

"'M sorry, Mummy," wailed Rachel, lower lip shuddering as she teetered on the brink of full on sobs. "'M sorry I'm b-bad!" 

Kristie ran a hand through Rachel's damp hair. 

"Rachel," she said. "You're not bad. You just need to listen to Mummy when she tells you to do something. I hate putting you into time out, baby. I always want to have fun with my sweet girl, but you need to listen when Mummy tells you to do something. Do you understand?" 

Rachel nodded quickly, and finally Kristie allowed herself to pull Rachel onto her lap, hushing her tears. Her shoulders relaxed, and all the anger melted away the second she had her baby girl wrapped in her arms. 

"It's okay, baby girl. It's okay, Mummy loves you so much." 

"L-Love you t-too, Mummy! Promise won't ev-ver be bad 'gain!" 

Kristie smiled softly, kissing her on the forehead. 

"You're really something, my little cupcake. Even if you get in trouble again, Mummy will always love you." 

Rachel snuggled closer to Kristie, letting her eyes drift shut, basking in the bliss of being all forgiven, and so loved. 

Chapter Text

"Okay," said Christen, grabbing her purse and the car keys, making her way towards the front door. 

"You know where her sippy cups are, and maybe feed her in around an hour. She's already had her TV time today, and if she wants to do any crafts, you have to use the scissors for her. If anything goes wrong, please call me. I should only be gone a few hours."

Emily nodded along with everything Christen said, all the while watching Tobin as she followed behind Christen, clinging onto her right arm. 

"Mommy," whined Tobin. "Where you going?"

"I'm just going shopping, pumpkin, and you're going to have lots of fun with Emily!"

Tobin looked unconvinced, clinging to Christen, who laughed. 

"It's okay, love. I'll be back really soon, and then we can have a nice evening together! Meanwhile, you and Emily are going to have a great time, right Em?"

Emily nodded, putting her hand on Tobin's shoulder. 

"That's right," she said. "We're gonna have so much fun, Tobes!" 

Christen gave Tobin a little kiss on the forehead.

"Love you, pumpkin!"

"Love you too, Mommy," said the little one, and then Christen was waving goodbye, and Emily was alone with Tobin. 

"So," said the defender. "What do you want to do, kiddo?"

Tobin shrugged, watching Christen's car pull out of the driveway with a forlorn look. 

"Dunno."

Emily sighed, wracking her brains for something that might excite Tobin. If she was going to babysit the little girl, she was going to be the most fun babysitter she'd ever had- not that that was a high bar. So far, Christen had only trusted the very experienced Becky to babysit Tobin, and afternoons with Becky probably consisted of more vegetables and reading than Tobin would have liked. 

"Well," said Emily. "I think we should start with an obstacle course."

Tobin's eyes lit up in happiness as Emily set down her bag and began to push furniture around, creating a path to allow the little girl to jump around the room. 

"Remember, Tobin," said Emily. "The floor is lava!" 

Tobin giggled, jumping across the couch cushions, leaving little imprints of her feet. 

"Emily," she called. "Watch me do a flip!"

Tobin's flip was more like a roll, but Emily applauded anyway, praising the little bit of acrobatics. The little one continued around the obstacle course several more times before she launched herself off of it and at Emily. The younger woman did her best to break her fall, definitely not prepared enough to bend her knees and catch Tobin. 

"That was fun!" 

"I'm glad you think so, kiddo. Tell me," she whispered conspiratorially. "Am I more fun than Auntie Becky?" 

Tobin didn't hesitate for a second before nodding. 

"Mmmhmm! Auntie Becky would'n lemme do flips, 'cause Mama thinks they're dang'rous. But she also don' want me to have candy 'cause she says it make me crash."

Emily laughed at the ridiculous notion of denying a little one her sweets, and another idea popped into her head. 

"What would you think," she asked. "About making some cookies?" 

Tobin gasped in delight, grabbing Emily's hand and pulling her towards the kitchen. She went straight for the cupboard, digging around for a big bowl to mix ingredients in, while Emily searched around the kitchen for the flour, and for other ingredients. 

Pulling out her cellphone, she Googled a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, then quickly returned the olive oil to the cabinet, realizing that it definitely did not belong in the sweet treat. 

Tobin clapped and laughed at Emily as she struggled to find all the ingredients, pulling open the bag of chocolate chips and popping a few into her mouth. 

Everything went smoothly until Emily handed the measuring cup full of flour to Tobin, inviting her to add it to the mixing bowl. Unfortunately, Tobin dropped it all in at once, and it poofed up in a white cloud, into Tobin's face. Emily couldn't stop herself laughing at the sight of the little one, with a bit of flour on her wrinkled nose. She sneezed lightly, sending some of the flour back into the air. 

Emily broke the eggs herself, then handed Tobin the spoon, letting the little one mix the ingredients together. Tobin's tongue was sticking slightly out of her mouth as she concentrated, shoving the spoon through the batter until all the little clumps of flour had disappeared. 

Emily spooned the batter onto the cookie sheet that she had dug out of the cabinet, then set the timer. Tobin sat down in front of the oven, flicking on the oven light so that she could watch the sweets as they began to bake. Emily began to clean up the kitchen, hopping over and around Tobin to put the ingredients back into their proper places. 

The last thing to be put away was the flour, but before Emily could, the timer beeped and she had to pull the cookies from the oven, releasing a blast of warm air. She set them on top of the unlit stove to cool, and reached for the bag of white powder to return it to its proper place. Unfortunately, at the same time, Tobin reached over to touch the cookies, seeing if they were cool enough to eat yet, and the bag of flour fell from her arms and onto the floor.

Luckily, it landed upright, but a large poof of flour came out of the top of the bag, coating Tobin's socks. The little one just looked down at them, and then at the bits of flour that had managed to find their way onto the floor. Then, almost in slow motion, Tobin reached down, and suddenly Emily found herself with a faceful of flour. 

"Gotcha," said Tobin, grinning like a little demon. 

Emily knew that, as a responsible babysitter, she should discourage the throwing of food. But, being Emily Sonnett, she inevitably chose a different path. 

"Oh," she said, reaching down and grabbing her own handful. "It is on, little Miss Tobin." 

It wasn't like Emily had been planning on having a flour fight with her little teammate, but Tobin's giggles were infectious as Emily tossed the powder back at her, and soon both of them were coated in white, laughing like maniacs. So loudly that they didn't hear the front door open. 

"Hey, baby," said Christen, not yet able to see the mess that was her kitchen. "Em, how did everyth- what is going on in here?"

Emily and Tobin froze with identical guilty expressions. All Christen could do was stare. 

"Is that... flour?"

Tobin nodded, walking forwards to hug Christen and spreading some of the white powder on her. 

"Hi, Mommy! We made cookies!" 

"So I see," said Christen, fixing Emily with a look. "But, that's not all you made."

Emily shrugged, bending down to pick up the bag, which was now much less full than it had been before she came over. 

"You," said the striker, wiping her baby's face off with her sleeve. "Bath. And you," she added, turning to Emily. "Clean my kitchen."

Emily nodded, popping a cookie into her mouth. Not bad. 

As the defender prepared for an afternoon of cleaning flour off every surface in Christen's kitchen, Tobin turned to her Mommy.

"Can Emily babysit all the time?"

Christen buried her head in her hands, almost laughing. She had gotten a child to babysit a child.  

 

Chapter Text

Autographs signed. Photos taken. Media addressed. They were finally back in the locker room, and it was become clearer and clearer that something was very wrong with Carli. Anyone who had eyes could see it. 

The oldest player was shaking slightly- not just her hands, her entire body. Her eyes were wide, and her movements disjointed, almost mechanical. 

They could all understand why, of course. Any of them would have reacted the same way, being jumped like that. They guessed that they just never thought anything could crack their captain's firm exterior. It was... unnerving, almost as unnerving as the incident itself. 

The shakes became even more obvious as Carli tried to pull her jersey off over her head. She yanked at the hem, but the garment wouldn't cooperate. With every minute she couldn't free herself, she started shaking harder.

You're fine, she tried to tell herself. She didn't... Nobody... Trapped! Trapped.

Suddenly, with a dull thud, she sank to the floor, still stuck in her jersey. Suddenly, she was not only scared, she was scared and small. 

"Carli?"

She let out a whimper of fear at the sound of a voice behind her, preparing to curl up into a ball. 

"Fuck," said Kelley, dropping down into a squat beside the older woman. "Carli, what's wrong? Are you okay?"

From one glance at Carli's face, it became incredibly obvious that Carli was a long way from okay. Kelley didn't know what to do, and their teammates were beginning to gather around, essentially caging Carli in between themselves and the lockers. 

"S-sc-scary," she whispered. "Comin' to get me."

Kelley cooed, opening her arms and using one of her hands to gesture the team backwards. They didn't seem too eager to go- they were concerned, of course, and they wanted to help. But, too many people were the exact wrong thing. Carli looked at Kelley's open arms apprehensively- Kelley knew that she was just a little girl sometimes, but she still wasn't Mommy. 

"M-Mommy," she whispered. "Wan' Mommy." 

The team hadn't moved backwards, until Ali gave them all a glare, grabbing onto Ashlyn's arm and pulling her fiancee away, causing the rest to follow, leaving Carli with Kelley. There would be explaining to do, of course, but that was not the priority right now. 

"Someone call Hope," said Kelley over her shoulder, and trusted that they would. Meanwhile, Carli relaxed a little bit, allowing Kelley to pull her closer. 

"Shh, little one," whispered the younger woman. "You're safe. No one's going to hurt you, we're all here to protect you." 

Carli whimpered, burying her face into Kelley's shoulder. But, she still felt stiff, and Kelley knew that she had to hear Hope's voice before she would be able to calm down completely. 

Alex handed Kelley the phone. 

"What the fuck happened," growled Hope. "What the fuck happened to my baby?" 

Kelley knew that, if she was going to be able to explain fully to Hope, she would need to hand Carli off to someone else for a moment. She didn't know much about baby Carli- she had only interacted with her once or twice, but she knew that the little girl was easily frightened.

"Just a sec," she said, and she could hear Hope still talking through the earpiece as she held the phone away from her ear. "Can someone come over here and watch Carli while I talk to H-O-P-E?" 

She spelled out the name- if Carli heard Mommy's name, she would need the phone now. And there was no way she would be able to explain it. 

A few women moved forward, reaching out their arms for Carli, but she shook her head and buried it back into Kelley's chest. 

"Hey, love," whispered Kelley. "All your Aunties want to help you. Can you hold onto one of them for a minute, and then you can come right back to me. Okay, baby girl?"

Carli whimpered, refusing. Until another woman stepped forward, offering up her arms.

Suddenly, Carli was on her feet, wrapping herself around Allie like a baby koala. The midfielder whispered softly to her, sinking down to the floor and rubbing Carli's back. 

"Shh, honey," whispered Allie, jumping into the care of the little girl with both feet. "It's okay, you're safe. No one's gonna hurt you, I'm not gonna let them." 

Carli was crying into Allie's shoulder, letting the younger woman comfort her. Kelley sighed in relief, then explained the situation to Hope. After she had talked the older woman down from the worst of her anger- and from screaming the word lawsuit- and reassured her that no one seemed to be judging Carli for slipping down into littlespace, she obeyed Hope's request to hand the phone to her baby. 

Carli was leaning her head against Allie's chest, feeling safer with the younger woman than she would with anyone else at the moment- except for Mommy, of course. After all, Allie was the one who had tried to help her, had tried to keep the crazy fan from getting at her. 

"Can you hold the phone, love?"

Carli nodded, taking the phone from Kelley and whimpering at the sound of her Mommy's voice. 

"Hey, baby girl," said Hope gently. "Did something a little scary happen today?"

Carli nodded, before remembering that Hope couldn't see her. 

"Mmmhmm," she whispered, voice shaking. "Somebody runnin' at me."

Hope cooed sympathetically, heart bleeding inside her chest. She wished that she could just jump through the phone and wrap Carli up in her arms.  

"Oh, baby," she said. "I'm so sorry that happened. Auntie Kelley told me that Allie tried to help you, right?"

"Yep," Carli said, nuzzling her head into Allie's neck, and making the younger woman smile down at the adorable little baby. She was still a little confused as to what was going on, but she did know that Carli was small, and small Carli was absolutely precious.

"Well," Hope continued. "Tell Allie that Mommy says thank you. So, so much."

Carli passed on the message, and Hope bit her lip, trying not to break down into tears at the thought of her sweet little baby, needing her, but only having her teammates- only one of whom had known that she was little before today- to comfort her. 

"I'm going to see you really soon," she said. "And then we can have a whole week where you can just be my tiny little princess, as small as you need for as long as you need, okay?" 

"Okay," whispered Carli. "I love you, Mommy."

"I love you too, baby girl. So, so much."

Carli snuggled closer to Allie as she handed the phone back to Kelley, and the younger midfielder rocked her gently. 

"Thank you, Allie," she whispered, and Allie kissed the top of her head. 

"Of course, sweetheart. We're always here for you." 

Chapter Text

"Are they here yet?" 

Tobin was bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, peering out the window, straining her eyes for the sight of Alex's car. 

"Not yet, sweetie," said Christen, gripping the back of Tobin's overalls, trying to get her to stay still. "Auntie Alex said 3:00, and it's only 2:50." 

Tobin moaned in annoyance, and Christen bit her lip to keep the smile back. Even annoyed and impatient, Tobin was the cutest. 

The little girl spent the next ten minutes pacing back and forth in front of the door, every once in a while poking her head up to peep out the window, looking for a sign that her friend had arrived. 

Just before 3, Christen heard a squeal of excitement.

"Are Kelley and Auntie Alex here, sweetie?"

Her answer came in the form of a doorbell, ringing three times in quick succession before it stopped. Tobin threw the door open as Christen made her way into the foyer.

"Hey, Al," she said as Kelley and Tobin stampeded into the house, towards Tobin's collection of toys. "Tobin has been bouncing off the walls for the past two hours."

Alex laughed, following Christen towards the sounds of little girls beginning a game. 

"Oh, gosh," said the other striker. "Kelley too. She's been so excited." 

The two of them settled on the couch, above where Kelley and Tobin were dividing up Tobin's toy animals. 

"Here," said Tobin, shoving her plastic rabbit towards Kelley, and taking the penguin for herself. "We should make a zoo!"

Kelley squealed in excitement, reaching towards the Lincoln Logs. Christen and Alex didn't bother to suppress their smiles as Kelley pulled the box open and started building enclosures for Tobin's animal figures. 

The two women chatted quietly as Tobin and Kelley built their zoo, Christen getting up and getting them both coffee. Everything was running smoothly, until...

"No!" Kelley squeaked. "That one's for the giraffe!" 

Tobin shook her head.

"But it's too big! The elephant goes there!" 

Kelley reached across and grabbed the elephant out of the little cage, replacing it with the giraffe. 

"No!" 

Where Christen and Alex had hoped that the little ones would work this out themselves, they now looked up apprehensively. Tobin screamed, grabbing the giraffe and throwing it across the room.

"Tobin!" 

Christen jumped up from the couch, and Tobin tossed herself into her arms, burying her face in her chest. Kelley crossed her arms across her chest, pouting as Alex pulled her up into her lap.

"Shh," Christen tried to comfort Tobin. "It's okay, baby girl." 

"Not giraffe," moaned Tobin, and Kelley made a noise making it clear that she absolutely disagreed. "Elephant!"

"Baby," said Alex to Kelley. "Why did that cage have to be the giraffe cage?" 

"Because!" 

Alex rolled her eyes, rubbing Kelley's back as she glared at Tobin, still being comforted by Christen. Once her tears had tapered off, Christen looked more seriously at her. 

"Baby girl," she said. "I understand that you're upset, but we don't throw things. Now, I want you to go get the giraffe."

Tobin did, still sniffling, and Alex took the opportunity to look at Kelley. 

"Sweetheart," she said. "I need you to apologize to Tobin for pulling the elephant out of the Lincoln Logs. That wasn't very nice of you, and I know that that isn't how my sweet girl usually behaves."

Kelley shook her head as Tobin walked back into the room. But then, Tobin's face crumbled again- she had seen the gesture. Suddenly, she was sobbing, and Christen was trying to console her for a second time. Kelley looked over at her friend, sobbing in her Mommy's lap, and suddenly there were two crying little girls in the room. 

"'M sorry," whimpered Kelley, reaching her arms out for Tobin. "It can be the e-elephant c-cage!"

Tobin accepted Kelley's hug, both of them apologizing inconsolably to each other. Christen and Alex relaxed, smiling at their adorable little girls. 

"There we go," said Christen, rubbing Tobin's back one more time as the tears tapered off, and Kelley and Tobin sank back down onto the floor to continue their game, agreeing that the elephant and the giraffe could share the cage. 

Several minutes later, Tobin and Kelley had finished constructing a zoo which spread out across the entire floor. Christen and Alex watched them giggle as they pretended to feed the animals, all argument forgotten. 

"Mommy," said Tobin. "Look at our zoo!"

Christen had been looking, but she let Tobin point out each and every detail of the zoo to her and Alex, with Kelley filling in little details. 

"It's so nice, baby! You and Kelley did such a nice job!" 

"Thank you, Auntie Christen," said Kelley, walking the lion around his cage and giving a little roar.

"Mommy," asked Tobin. "Can me 'n Kelley have a snack?"

"As long as it's okay with Auntie Alex," Christen said, and Alex nodded, rising to help Christen cut some apple slices. 

The two little girls ate their apples, licking the juice off their sticky little fingers, and before anyone knew it, Alex rose from the couch to announce that it was time for her and Kelley to go.

"Nooooo," moaned Kelley, gripping onto Tobin's hand. "Don't wanna leave!"

Alex suppressed a smile at the adorable sight, but stood firm.

"I know, baby girl. But we have to go."

Kelley and Tobin both moaned in disappointment, but gave their hugs.

"Bye, Kelley."

"Bye, Tobs. You and Auntie Christen comin' over to our house soon?"

Christen gave Kelley a hug, reassuring her that they would indeed. Tobin waved through the window as Alex buckled Kelley into her seat, and they drove out.

"Did you have fun, sweetie pie?" 

Tobin nodded, helping Christen pick up the Lincoln Logs, then hopping up onto her lap and yawning.

Normally, naptime happened in a bed, but if her little one was going to fall asleep in her lap, Christen certainly wasn't complaining, especially when Alex sent her a picture of Kelley, napping in her lap. It seemed that naps were contagious. 

Chapter Text

The hacking, pained cough coming from the baby shaped lump under the covers just about broke Lindsey's heart. Emily looked absolutely miserable, eyes glittering with approaching tears at the pain in her throat. The ibuprofen and cough medicine Lindsey was carrying seemed woefully inadequate, but it was all she could do. 

"Oh, muffin," sighed Lindsey. "I'm so sorry that you're feeling so icky." 

Emily whimpered in misery, reaching her arms out for Lindsey, gesturing to be picked up by her Mommy and cradled. However, instead of lifting her baby out of the bed, Lindsey sat down on the edge of it, measuring out the appropriate amount of cough medicine. The little girl shook her head, pressing back further into the pillows. 

"Nuh uh," she moaned. "No med'cine." 

Then, she shut her mouth, burying her face in the comfy blanket. 

"I'm sorry, baby girl," Lindsey said, reaching out a hand to brush a lock of hair out of Emily's face. "I know the medicine is yucky, but it'll make your cough feel so much better." 

The tears gathered in Emily's eyes spilled over, and Lindsey set the medicine on the counter to pull her baby into her arms. 

"Oh, sweetie pie," she cooed. "I'm so sorry."

"No," Emily whispered pitifully. "Don' wanna." 

Lindsey kissed her forehead, rocking her gently and using her sleeve to wipe away the tears. 

"Em, baby," she said. "I know it's icky, but you need to take the medicine. And I think that, since smoothies are good for hurting throats, Mommy might be able to whip one of those up?"

"Wit' strawberries?"

Emily's sniffled question prompted a loving kiss from Lindsey to her cheek, and a sigh of relief that at least there was something she could do to help her baby at least a little bit happier.  

"Of course, baby girl," she said. "With as many strawberries as you want." 

"Lotsa," she said quietly, and Lindsey nodded in agreement. 

Reluctantly, Emily opened her mouth, and Lindsey spooned the medicine into her little girl's mouth. Emily made a face, but didn't spit it out, instead swallowing the purple liquid, chasing it down with the offered ibuprofen and water. 

"Good girl," cooed Lindsey, stroking Emily's hair. 

Lindsey tried to rise from the bed to start Emily's smoothie, but her little girl kept hold of her arm. 

"Mommy," she whispered. "Still hurts." 

Lindsey pulled back the covers and slid into bed beside her little girl, wrapping her into her arms and clutching her against her chest. Emily was still crying softly, and Lindsey felt like crying herself, because there was nothing else she could really do for Emily- the doctor had said that the cough would run its course, and the young woman would be over it soon. While that might have been acceptable for big Emily, Lindsey's baby girl didn't quite understand why exactly the cough medicine wasn't fixing her throat now. 

"I know, baby," Lindsey soothed. "All the medicine is gonna start working soon, I promise."

Emily nuzzled her face into Lindsey's chest, and Lindsey ran her fingers through her tangled hair. The little girl sobbed harder, the pain of her throat overwhelming her tiny brain. 

"I know baby girl, I know. If I could wave a magic wand and make you better, I would." 

The only response she got from Emily was a pained wail, and all she could do was hold her closer, trying to comfort her little baby girl. Before long, Emily had cried herself out into Lindsey's chest, and was dozing softly. Gently, Lindsey disentangled herself from her little girl's grip to go make her a smoothie. 

She shut the door to their bedroom so that the blender wouldn't wake Emily from her much-needed nap. She added all the ingredients, making sure to include extra strawberries, along with a tiny bit of vanilla ice cream, then blended it all together. She wished she could pour it out into one of Emily's sippy cups, but unfortunately it was too thick to fit through the holes. So, instead, she opted to take the lid off of Emily's favorite- an above average sized one with an image of Ariel from The Little Mermaid on the side- and putting in a bendy straw. 

Putting the drink in the fridge, she sneaked back into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, just watching Emily doze. 

Emily's face wasn't twisted up in pain, and the tears had dried on her cheeks. Her mouth was slightly open, and Lindsey opened the drawer on the side table and popped her pacifier into her mouth. Her lips closed around it automatically, suckling gently. She was not only adorable, but she looked completely at peace for the first time since she'd gotten sick, and Lindsey couldn't help but pet her hair, humming softly. 

If she was being completely honest, Lindsey would have been satisfied to sit there all day, just stroking her little girl's hair. But, after around an hour- Lindsey cycling through many different Disney songs- the little girl started to stir, snuffling around the pacifier and sucking harder on it. Her eyes fluttered open.

"Hi, Mommy." 

"Hey there, sweet Em," said Lindsey. "Do you feel any better?" 

Emily nodded, wrapping her arms around Lindsey's neck and using her Mommy to pull herself up to leaning against the pillows. 

"Med'cine workin'" 

Lindsey kissed Emily's forehead, delighted to hear the sparkle returning to her little one's voice. 

"That's so great, muffin!" 

"I still have smoothie?" 

Lindsey gave her a smile, hopping out of the bed and rushing off towards the kitchen to fetch the drink for her baby girl. Emily made grabby hands towards it, and Lindsey happily handed it over. Emily wrapped her lips around the straw and sucked up the beverage.

"Is it good, muffin?"

Emily nodded happily, and when she set it down on the bedside table, Lindsey fell on her with an attack of kisses. Even if she ended up sick, it was worth it to hear Emily's shriek of laughter. 

Chapter Text

Hope met her at the airport, and Carli had never been more relieved to see anyone in her entire life. She had barely exited the tunnel before she caught a glimpse of her wife, and couldn't stop herself from running forwards, dragging her suitcase behind her and tossing herself into Hope's arms. 

The older woman squeezed her tightly, tangling a hand in her hair and pressing a chaste kiss to her lips. 

"Hey, baby," said Hope. "I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you too," whispered Carli as Hope released her, taking her suitcase with one hand and enclosing Carli's own in her other hand. They walked out to the car like that, Carli gripping tightly to Hope's hand and letting the former keeper guide her towards their way home. 

Hope popped the trunk and loaded the baggage, then opened the back door for Carli. The midfielder clambered in, letting Hope buckle her seat belt for her before walking around to the driver's door. 

"Do you want to listen to some music?"

Carli shook her head, already feeling the cloud that she had been holding back ever since the final Victory Tour game begin to overwhelm her. Sure, Kelley and Allie had done their very best, and she had been given all the care they could possibly provide, she couldn't truly let herself go with anyone except Mommy. 

"Jus' wanna go home. " 

"Okay, sweet girl. I'll get us there as quick as I can. Just hang on for a few minutes, okay?"

Hope started the engine and pulled out of the lot, using the mirror to keep an eye on her little one for any sign of trouble. Thankfully, there were none, and before too long they had pulled into their drive, and Hope was helping her baby girl out of the car. She neglected the suitcase in the back of the car, since nothing in it would be of any importance to Carli for at least the rest of the day and, more than likely, into the next several. 

"Has someone missed Mommy?"

Carli nodded into Hope's shoulder as the older woman scooped her up, somehow managing to unlock the door while still holding Carli in her arms. 

"Lots 'n lots." 

"Mommy's missed you too, princess," said Hope, pressing what would be the first of many kisses to the top of her baby's head. "So, so much. It made Mommy so sad, that I couldn't be with you. But I've gotcha now, okay?" 

Another little nod as Hope shut the door behind them, slowly carrying Carli up the stairs towards the room which served as her nursery. 

It was decorated in soft pinks and blues, almost like cotton candy, and contained almost anything a little girl might need, from numerous stuffed animals and toys to an adult sized changing table. The one notable thing missing was a crib- Carli absolutely could not stand to sleep without Hope when she was little. The few times that they had tried, the little girl had woken up screaming, and hadn't been able to get back to sleep until Hope had taken her into her own bed, singing quietly to her while holding her tightly.

"Alright, princess," said Hope, depositing her little girl on the changing table. "I think your clothes are far too big for such a tiny girl- let's get you all cozy" 

Carli nodded in agreement, letting Hope pull her sweatpants and panties off. She quickly slid a diaper over Carli's hips, fastening it tightly and giving her little one a kiss on the forehead. 

"There you go, baby girl," she cooed, watching Carli descend further and further into babyspace. She didn't descend this far down often, but Hope was absolutely unsurprised- her baby girl had been away from her too long, and she had been through quite a lot in the past few days. She slid a new pair of sweatpants onto Carli's legs, and replaced her sweatshirt with a soft pyjama shirt. 

Carli giggled, reaching her arms up for Hope, who happily gathered the baby up against her chest. 

"Do you want your paci, princess?" 

Carli opened her mouth, letting Hope slide the soft pink object between her lips. One of Hope's dogs trotted into the room, coming over and offering Carli an excited series of kisses on her bare feet. She loved the puppy, but his excitement to see her made her whimper, curling further into Hope. It never failed to amaze Hope, how nervous her baby girl could get. 

"Oh, sweetie," cooed Hope. "Zeus is just happy to see his baby Carli." 

Carli seemed to be considering and, as Zeus stopped his enthusiastic licks, she reached a hand down to run through his fur. He was a smart dog, and gave her just a single, gentle kiss across the face before trotting back out, presumably to return to whatever activity had occupied him before. 

"Puppy," whispered Carli around her pacifier, and that reminded Hope of something that was missing. She carried the baby over to the shelf and grabbed Carli's favorite stuffed animal, tucking it into Carli's arms.

Carrying her back downstairs, Hope set Carli and her stuffed dog down on the sofa.

"Are you big enough for some big girl food, princess?"

Carli wasted no time before shaking her head, emphasizing the point with an innocent suck on her paci.

"Oh," the older cooed. "I didn't think you were. You're just Mommy's tiny little baby girl, aren't you?"

Hope smiled at her baby's tiny nod, migrating to the kitchen- always making sure that she remained in Carli's direct line of sight- and going straight for the cupboard which contained all of Carli's sippy cups and bottles. Picking out the rarely used second option, Hope heated up the appropriate amount of milk. If Carli had been any bigger, she would have insisted on drinking one of her protein shakes, but today the milk was sure to suffice. 

Sitting down on the sofa and tucking Carli into the crook of her arm, Hope brought the bottle up to Carli's lips. The little one's eyes drifted shut as she spit out her paci into Hope's hand and began sucking at the teat of the bottle, letting the warm milk flowing into her mouth send her even deeper into the state of absolute peace she could only find while wrapped up in Mommy's arm, letting herself be loved and cared for. 

The bottle was drained quickly, with Hope pulling it from between Carli's lips at regular intervals to prevent her baby from taking more than she could handle at one time. 

"Good girl," cooed Hope. "That's Mommy's sweet baby." 

Normally, Hope would have done her best to deposit her little girl in an actual bed before letting her drift off to sleep, but special circumstances came up once in a while, and this was certainly one of them. When the bottle was gone, Hope popped Carli's paci back into her mouth, unwilling to disturb her little one for even the few minutes it would take to properly put her to bed. Instead, she let Carli drift off in her arms, all the while gazing down adorably at her little baby's peaceful, innocent expression as she sucked at the paci and snuggled her stuffie. 

Carli- every single stage of her- was undoubtedly the most precious thing in Hope's life, especially when she needed her like this. Carli needed to be reminded, sometimes, that no matter how big or tiny she was, Hope would always be there to take care of her. 

And if, in the morning, that meant changing her out of a wet diaper and comforting any tears, or even performing emergency surgery on Puppy like she had to the time Carli had a mishap with the scissors, then Hope was more than okay with that. 

Chapter Text

"Hi," came a whisper from over Caitlin's shoulder. 

The Australian turned around to see her younger teammate, clutching her soft blanket in one hand and her stuffed tiger in the other. Ellie's eyes were wide, and there was a shy little smile on her face. She was still dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and a tight top- a problem that Caitlin was going to fix as soon as possible. 

"Hey, baby," she said, flicking off the TV so that she could focus on Ellie. "Are you feeling small?"

Ellie nodded without hesitation, and Caitlin got up from the sofa so that she could put a hand on Ellie's shoulder and walk her back towards her bedroom. 

"Let's get you changed, okay?" 

Ellie nodded, setting her tiger and blanket carefully on her bed and raising her hands above her head. Caitlin had to pull a little bit on the top to get it off of Ellie. The jeans were next, quickly replaced by a pair of print leggings, and a shirt with a picture of Cinderella completed the look. Caitlin twisted Ellie's hair up into a ponytail, then gave her a kiss on the cheek.

"There's Mommy's little girl!" 

Ellie grinned, reaching for her tiger and blanket, wrapping the latter around her shoulders like a cap. Caitlin followed her back out into the den, and sat beside her in the center of the floor. 

"Do you want to play a game, cupcake?" 

Ellie nodded, sitting her tiger up next to her as she thought about what game she wanted to play. It was only her and Mommy, since her tiger couldn't play, and it was so hard to think of a game that was fun with just two people. 

Connect 4 was frustrating- Mommy seemed to win, no matter how hard Ellie tried. 

Candyland had so much counting, and so many rules. Too many for her little brain. Besides, it always made her want lollipops, and Mommy always said no. 

"How about Snakes and Ladders?"

Ellie thought about Mommy's suggestion- it did sound fun! But, of course, the problem remained. It was never quite as much fun with just two people. 

"I wanna," she said. "But 's not as much fun to play wif' only two." 

"Well," said another voice, coming from the front door. "I guess it's a good thing that I'm home!" 

Ellie jumped to her feet and wrapped her arms around the newcomer's neck, letting her pick her up and spin her around.

"Auntie 'Lee!" 

Hayley set Ellie down with a kiss to her cheek. 

"How about you and Mommy get the game set up, while I go put my things away?"

Ellie nodded in agreement and raced to the closet to get the game, handing it off to Caitlin so that Mommy could set it up. In a few moments, Hayley was back, joining Caitlin and Ellie on the floor and picking out her gamepiece- the green one, since Ellie always had to be blue. 

"Who goes first?"

Caitlin's question was rather ridiculous to Ellie, who grabbed the spinner, watching the little arrow turn around and around until it landed on... four!

Clapping happily, Ellie moved her gamepiece to the spot on the board, sliding up a ladder to space thirteen. Caitlin spun next, followed by Hayley. 

The game was rather uneventful until, at space eighty four, Caitlin spun a three. She moaned in exaggerated disappointment as she moved her piece, letting the snake take her back down to space fifty six. Ellie laughed in delight- she was almost certainly going to win now! 

And, indeed, she did.

"Good job, baby," cooed Caitlin as Hayley applauded Ellie's victory dance- a small shake in place where she picked up her tiger and threw him up into the air. 

"Would you like a snack, pumpkin?" 

Ellie nodded eagerly, letting Caitlin scoop her up off the floor and missing the middle finger from Hayley as Mommy left her to clean up the game. It didn't take long before Caitlin had deposited her at the kitchen table and was pouring some snapea crisps into a brightly colored bowl. They were the black pepper flavored ones, and Ellie shoveled them into her mouth.

"Woah, honey," said Caitlin, sitting down next to her and brushing crumbs off her chin. "Slow down!"

Ellie did her best, but they were just so yummy. Caitlin didn't press the issue, just shook her head fondly and poured a glass of water. 

"How was your day, little one?"

Hayley joined her housemates at the kitchen table, popping open a LaCroix. Ellie licked the last of the snapea dust off her fingers, then made to wipe them on her blankie. 

"Nope," said Caitlin, swooping in. "We use napkins to wipe our fingers, sweetheart." 

Ellie pouted for a brief moment as Caitlin wiped her fingers with a cloth napkin, then answered her Auntie.

"Was 'kay," she said. "Was big Ellie mostly." 

"Well," said Hayley. "You know that Mommy and me are always happy to see little Ellie!" 

Ellie grinned, blushing a little bit. 

"Really?"

Caitlin nodded, brushing a hand through Ellie's silky hair. 

"Absolutely! Mommy is always happy to see her little one." 

"Really truly," agreed Hayley. 

Chapter Text

"Are you sure you don't want one of us to stay with you? Because we can-" 

Mal rolled her eyes, before flopping back down onto the pillow with a cough. She was already frustrated enough at not getting to play- she didn't need Christen or Tobin hovering over her. 

"I'm fine," she said, gesturing towards the door. "Go." 

"Okay," said Christen, brushing a sweaty lock of hair behind Mal's ear. "Try to get some rest."

Mal made a noise that Christen took as agreement, and the older woman walked out the door with a wave, leaving Mal alone in her hotel room. 

"Ugh," she grumbled to herself. "This fucking sucks." 

She had even been scheduled to start today. But no, she had to get sick. 

There was really nothing to do without everyone else here. There was nothing good on TV, and really, the only thing to do was take a nap. 

So, she let herself drift off to sleep, coughing and aching, and unaware that her thumb had started to drift towards her mouth. 


She didn't sleep for very long- just long enough to miss a call from Christen, who assumed (correctly) that she was lost in dreamland- but when she woke, she could tell that something was different. Her brain felt fuzzy, and her thumb had found its way into her mouth. She still felt just as sick as she had before falling asleep, and her lower half was wet. 

She whimpered in horror. She had wet the bed. And Mommy and Mama weren't here. She pulled herself out of the bed, landing in a lump on the floor. 

"C'mon," she whispered to herself. "Got' be big."

All hearing her own tiny voice did was make her smaller, and the tears didn't take long to come. She tried to drape an arm over the bed to pull herself back up, but she was too small. She needed Mommy and Mama.

"M-Mommy," she cried. "Mama!" 

The two women didn't answer- Mal hadn't been expecting them to, 'cause they were playin' in a big game and they couldn't stay wit' little Mal.

The tears turned into full sobs. She was nauseous, and her head hurt, and her pajama bottoms were wet and smelly, even after she managed to pull them off, and it was just too much. 

Pulling a pillow that had fallen from her bed to her chest, she cried herself back to sleep. 


Mal woke up to gentle hands, picking her up off of the floor. Her eyes fluttered open, and she started sobbing again when she saw who was holding her. 

"M-Mama!"

"Shh, baby," cooed Tobin. "Mama's here. I've got you." 

Mal caught a whiff of something, and her sobs redoubled as her face turned red. 

"I... M-Mama, 'm s-s-sor... Wet da bed." 

Tobin stroked her hair, bouncing her gently and carrying her towards the bathroom. 

"No, baby," she whispered. "It's okay. It was just an accident. Oh, my poor sweet baby." 

The bathroom was warm, thanks to the water filling the tub. Christen turned off the tap when she saw Tobin enter with Mal, standing up to give her baby a kiss on the top of her head. 

"Hey, bunny," she said. "Let's get you in the tub." 

Mal nodded, and Tobin lowered her down into the warm water. The little girl couldn't help but sigh- it was so nice! Mommy had even put in bubbles- not that Mal was in any state to play with them. She let her eyes drift shut, head supported by Christen's hand.

"I'll go strip the bed," said Tobin, exiting the room. "Let me know if you need me." 

Christen nodded, reaching for a soft washcloth and wetting it with warm water. Gently, gently, she cleaned Mal's inner thighs until no trace of her accident remained. Meanwhile, Tobin balled up the sheets and tossed them into the laundry bag. They didn't have an extra set, but they did have an air freshener, which masked the worst of the smell. 

Christen pulled Mal out of the bathtub, cooing softly to calm her baby's whimpers at leaving the warm water. She wrapped her in a fluffy towel, then carried her back out to the main room, Mal's damp head leaned against her shoulder. 

"Tobs," she said. "Can you get out a pair of PJs?" 

Tobin went straight for the smallest suitcase in their array- the one which held everything that they might need for a situation like this. She pulled out an adult-sized onesie and a diaper, along with Mal's pacifier and stuffed whale (bought when they visited an aquarium with their little one).

Laying Mal down on the other bed, Christen toweled off her baby's hair while Tobin tucked the stuffie into her arms. Mal brought the toy close to her chest, snuggling it with all her might. 

"Mama," she whispered, reaching out the hand not holding the whale for Tobin, who took it happily. The older woman rubbed the back of Mal's hand with her thumb as Christen slid the diaper on over her hips. It was almost physically painful for Tobin to let go of Mal's hand even for the short second it took Christen to pull the onesie on over her head- Mal's whimper was heartbreaking. 

Once their little girl was all cozy, wrapped in a blanket in a nice dry diaper, Tobin tried to pop her pacifier into her mouth. Surprisingly, Mal shook her head, pushing the object away. Tobin tried again, only to get the same reaction.

"What's wrong, bunny? Don't you want your paci?" 

Mal shook her head again, but made a suckling motion with her lips, the same one she always made when she wanted her pacifier. At the same time, she reached for Christen, who was already cradling her against her chest. 

"What do you need, honey?"

The striker petted her baby's hair while Tobin held her hand, as Mal continued to make the little motion with her lips.

"Do you want a bottle, honey?"

Christen knew she'd gotten it when Mal's whimpers stopped.

"Ba?"

The whispered fragment of a word sent Tobin jumping to her feet, filling Mal's bottle with formula and heating it in the microwave which was, thankfully, provided inside the hotel room. She handed it to Christen, and the striker popped it into Mal's mouth. The baby started suckling immediately, draining the bottle as she let her eyes drift shut, cradled in her Mommy's arms. Mama was petting her gently, and she was all warm and safe. 

Christen pulled the bottle out of her mouth, and this time Mal didn't protest when Tobin replaced it with her paci. 

"Sleep, bunny," whispered Mama. "We love you." 

"So much," added Mommy as Mal slipped into the only peaceful sleep of that day. "So, so much." 

 

 

Chapter Text

Kelley didn't even wait for the end of the game before jumping out of her seat in the stands and racing for the locker room. She had no trouble at all getting in, dashing down the tunnel after Emily. 

Sure, the tackles had been bad, and the two yellows warranted. But Kelley had seen Emily's face when Amy was screaming at her, and the younger defender had looked absolutely terrified. Terrified enough that there was a nonzero chance of her needing Kelley, and needing her quickly. 

It didn't take her long to find Emily- the sound of tears saw to that. 

Emily was curled up in the corner of the locker room, sobbing into her arms.

"Em," she whispered, approaching slowly, carefully. "Sweetie?"

Emily looked up from her arms, revealing her dripping eyes and red cheeks. 

"M-Mom- Kell," she sobbed. Kelley made a soft noise- she knew exactly what Emily had been saying. She knew exactly what Emily needed- it was what she had suspected she might find. 

"Baby girl," she said. "Does someone need Mommy?"

Emily sobbed again, fresh tears dripping down her face and reaching her arms out for Kelley. The team doctors wouldn't be thrilled with her if they found out, since she was still on protocol, but the older woman scooped the younger up into her arms, cradling Emily against her chest. 

"Hey, baby," cooed Kelley. "Mommy's here. Mommy's gotcha." 

Emily buried her face in Kelley's shoulder, soaking it with frustrated, guilty, frightened tears. 

"Let's get you out of those clothes," Kelley said, reluctantly setting her down on the bench and digging in her locker for Emily's clothes- a pair of sweatpants and a tee. 

"Raise your arms for me, bug," said Kelley, and Emily obeyed, letting Kelley change her back into her comfy clothes. Kelley's touch was already calming her down a bit, and the sobs turned into simply tears. 

"There we go," said Kelley. "That's my cozy little bug!" 

Emily giggled through her tears, and Kelley picked her up again. They had to linger for a little while before the defeated Thorns trickled back into the locker room. Nodding at her little one's teammates, Kelley grabbed Emily's hand and pulled her into the Royals' locker room. 

Emily waved to Lindsey, shyly. She would need to call her later- but Lindsey understood what was going on. 

When they entered the other locker room, Emily buried her face back into Kelley's shoulder. 

"Why... Why we here, Mommy?"

"Shh," said Kelley, smoothing Emily's hair. "Don't worry, bug. We just need to get a ride home, 'cause Mommy can't drive right now." 

Emily caught sight of a flash of blonde hair and whimpered, jumping behind Kelley and catching the eye of most of the Royals.

"Oh, honey," soothed Kelley. "It's okay, Mommy's here. Mommy's gotcha. You don't need to be scared."

Amy's eyes flickered over towards Emily, hiding behind Kelley's back, and a guilty expression flickered across her face. She looked like she wanted to approach the little girl, but hung back, letting Christen go forwards instead.

"Hey, Em," said Christen softly, reaching out a hand. "Are you little right now?"

Emily nodded, inching out from behind Kelley. Christen cooed, as Kelley started asking around and seeing who could give her and Emily a ride home. 

"'M sorry," whimpered Emily softly, and the striker opened her arms wide in an invitation for the little girl, who rushed into them. Christen ran a hand through Emily's hair, freeing Kelley to approach Becky, who agreed to give the two a ride home. 

"Oh, no, honey," cooed Christen. "It's okay. Don't cry. Don't cry. I'm not mad."

"R-Really?" 

Emily sounded disbelieving- but she had almost hurt her! How could she not be mad? 

"Really," said Christen. "It's okay, sweetheart."  

Kelley sighed with adoration as she watched the adorable scene unfold, then once Christen appeared to have managed to convince her little girl that she wasn't angry, carefully grabbed Emily's hand, pulling her along to follow Becky out to the car.  

"Emily?"

The voice made Emily jump, and grab onto Kelley's hand more tightly. But Amy's tone was soft, careful, and so the little one peeked over her shoulder.

"I... I'm sorry," said the older woman, looking down at her feet. "I shouldn't have yelled at you like that. That was... inexcusable." 

"'M sorry too," whispered Emily, as Vero patted Amy's back. " Real sorry. Jus' didn'..." 

She trailed off, and Amy gently took her hand, running a thumb across the back of it and giving her a small smile as she trailed out the door after Kelley and Becky. 

The older woman buckled Emily into the backseat of Becky's car, and they were off. It was, thankfully, a short ride back to Kelley's apartment, and Emily waved shyly to Becky as the older blonde drove away. 

"Mommy," asked Emily as Kelley unlocked her door and guided her little one to sit on the couch. "You got little things?" 

"Not many," admitted Kelley. "But I think I have just enough to get us to the morning, and if you're still little then, then Mommy can go shopping!" 

Emily nodded in agreement, accepting the offered glass of water and taking a careful sip. It was a glass glass, and she was really far too little to have it, but there was nothing else for it. 

"Aha!"

Kelley's triumphant gasp came as she found a pull-up, leftover from the last time Emily had been little at her house. She took the glass from her little girl, then carried her to the bedroom to get her ready for bed. 

"Don' need pull-up," protested Emily, but Kelley raised her eyebrows, pulling Emily's sweatpants off her legs. 

"Yes," she said. "You do, bug. You're a tiny little girl, and tiny girls need pull-ups."

Emily stuck out her lower lip, letting Kelley know exactly how she felt about that. But, she didn't protest any further, letting Kelley slide the pull-up over her hips.

"There we go," she said, tapping Emily's nose affectionately. 

"Mommy loves you, you fierce little thing." 

Chapter Text

"Sweetheart," said Kristie, glaring daggers at any patron in the waiting room at the clinic who dared to look strangely at Rachel, who was curled up miserably on her lap. "It's gonna be okay." 

They wouldn't be here if they had any other option. But, after Rachel had collapsed into a sweating, shaking mess after throwing up, Kristie had been worried enough to get into the car and drive her little girl to the emergency room. She had tried contacting the team doctor, to keep Rachel's state out of the public eye, but he had been dealing with a family emergency. 

So, here they were, Rachel curled up in her Mummy's lap, sick and beyond embarrassed. Kristie petted her baby's hair and ran a hand across her clammy forehead. Thankfully, the other people in the waiting room were too concerned with their own injuries and illnesses to pay enough attention to Kristie and Rachel to realize who they were. 

Rachel whimpered, trying to snuggle closer to Kristie.

"Still feelin' icky, Mummy. Don' wanna." 

Kristie clicked her tongue sympathetically, rocking her little one back and forth. 

"I know, baby girl. That's why we're here, we need to get you all better." 

"Wanna go home."

Rachel had repeated this phrase all throughout the car ride here, and when Kristie had been filling out the paperwork, and the entire time that they had been in the waiting room. And her heart was breaking for her baby girl, who so clearly didn't want to be here, but she wasn't willing to take the chance of something being really wrong with Rachel, because she would have no idea what to do. If that made her baby upset with her, so be it. Her health came first. 

"Honey," Kristie cooed. "I know, I know. But we need you feel better." 

Rachel just cried into Kristie's shoulder. 

"Rachel?"

Finally, the nurse called her name, and Kristie helped her little one to her feet to follow her towards the back room. The woman raised her eyebrows at the sight of Kristie accompanying her baby, but didn't comment. 

"Okay," she said. "It says on the sheet that you came in because you're shaking, clammy, and vomiting. Can you tell me when the symptoms started?" 

Rachel clambered back up onto Kristie's lap, still weeping softly, and the slightly older woman answered instead. 

"It started last night, but it was worse this morning. We were about to go to work, but she just... she collapsed on the floor. I took her temperature, and she definitely has a fever, but I have no idea what's wrong with her!" 

The nurse typed Kristie's response onto her laptop, accepting that she wasn't going to get responses out of Rachel, and would have to go through Kristie instead. 

"Well," said the woman. "I'll just get some basic information, and then we'll get a doctor in here as soon as we can." 

The nurse reached for the stethoscope, and Kristie had to guide Rachel to a position where she could slide it under Rachel's shirt and listen to her heart. Rachel whimpered at the cold, but Kristie ran a hand through her hair, humming softly.

Of course, the relative calm couldn't last.

"Okay," said the nurse. "It's time for a finger prick, just to check your iron levels." 

The words "finger prick" sent a surge of energy through the lethargic Rachel, who shook her head violently. 

"No needles!" 

"Shh, honey," soothed Kristie. "We've gotta make sure that everything's okay. Can you give the nice nurse your hand for Mummy?" 

Rachel shook her head, and a new wave of miserable tears poured from her eyes as she pushed the nurse away from her.

"Wan' go home. Wanna go home, Mummy!"

Kristie had to shake her head. 

"We can't go home, sweetie. We need to stay here until we know why you're feeling icky."

Rachel gave her a watery glare, unable to understand why her Mummy wasn't listening to her. She was scared, and sick, and she wanted to go home. 

"You're m-mean! I don' wanna prick!" 

Kristie's heart clenched painfully- she knew exactly why Rachel was angry at her, but that didn't make it any easier to hear. She gave the nurse an apologetic look.  

"Can you... Can you give us a second? Don't leave, I'll get her in a second."

The nurse nodded, sitting back down on the swivel chair, allowing Kristie to set Rachel on the bench in the exam room and squatting down on the floor in front of her. 

"Pumpkin," she said, rubbing a line up and down Rachel's leg. "I need you to listen to the nurse. I know, it's not fun. It's so not fun, and you'd rather be cuddling with Mummy, but-"

Rachel shrieked hysterically. 

"Don't wanna! I h-h-hate you, Mummy!" 

Kristie closed her eyes and bit her lip. She knew that Rachel didn't mean it, but that didn't make it any easier to hear. She had to stay calm, though, and comfort her screaming baby.

"You can be mad at Mummy all you want, love, but you still need to listen to the nurse. Mummy can hold you, or you can sit by yourself if you want, but we aren't leaving until we know why you're not feeling well." 

Rachel cried harder, and her shoulders collapsed. Kristie jumped up and pulled her back into her arms, rocking her back and forth.

"Is gonna hurt!" 

"Oh, sweetie," cooed Kristie. "I know this is scary. But it'll only hurt for a second, and then we'll be closer to going home! Mummy will be here the whole time."

When no immediate scream came from Rachel's mouth, only more miserable sobs, Kristie nodded at the patient nurse, who took the cap off of the finger prick and approached Rachel, who buried her head in Kristie's shoulder. Kristie had a hand wrapped around Rachel's left wrist, holding her still so that the nurse could take the blood. 

It was over before Rachel even had time to fight it, but she cried harder, to the point where Kristie couldn't help but worry that her sweet pumpkin might pass out from the overexertion of it. 

"There we go, baby. It's all over, Mummy's so proud of you."

"Feel better, honey," said the nurse sympathetically as she left the room. "The doctor will be here in a few minutes." 

This was a rare case in a doctor's office where a few minutes actually meant a few minutes, and Rachel's tears had only just started to taper off when the woman came in. The nurse must have warned her that something was up with Rachel, because she didn't even look slightly phased when she walked in to find her cuddled against Kristie's chest, with the elder pulling her thumb gently away from her mouth. 

"So," she said, pulling the chair over to sit in front of Kristie and Rachel. "I heard that you're not feeling so well."

Rachel shook her head miserably.

"That's no fun," said the doctor. "Can you take your head out of Mummy's chest for a minute so I can take a look at you?" 

Rachel turned around slowly, still crying softly. The doctor's hands were warm and gentle as they felt at her neck and forehead. 

"So," she said. "Given the symptoms that your Mommy told me, and just from looking at you, I'm pretty sure we've got one case of the flu." 

Kristie nodded- that made sense, and she was really just relieved that nothing more serious was happening. 

"So," said the doctor, turning to talk to Kristie. "Just make sure that she drinks plenty of water, and gets a whole lot of rest. Sound good?"

Both Kristie and Rachel nodded, and the older lifted her into her arms.

"Sweetheart," she said. "Can we thank the doctor?"

"T'ank you," whispered Rachel, then leaned her head on Kristie's shoulder. 

"You're welcome, honey. Feel better, okay?" 

Kristie carried Rachel back to the car and buckled her in to the back seat, where she could lay down if she needed to. 

"Mummy," she whispered as Kristie pulled onto the highway, leaving the clinic in the rearview mirror. "'M s-sorry."

"Oh, honey," Kristie cooed. "It's okay. Mummy knows that you were just upset and scared. I know that you didn't mean it."

"Don' hate Mummy," whimpered Rachel, before falling asleep in the back of the car, exhausted from the day's ordeal. As for Kristie, she kept an eye on her in the rearview mirror, sighing in relief that nothing worse was going on than the flu. When they got home, she carried Rachel inside and tucked her in, laying a cool cloth on her sweaty forehead. 

"I love you, pumpkin."

Rachel stirred just long enough to return the sentiment, then she was back asleep, letting her body fight off the flu germs. 

 

Chapter Text

Emily was numb.

She and her teammates hadn't been able to look each other in the eyes. Mark had tried to console them, but there hadn't been anything he could say. His heart didn't seem to be in it, though, and no one had said a word to each other on the bus ride back to the hotel. Even Hayley and Caitlin, who could normally be counted on for a joke or a loud conversation, had been silent as the grave. Lindsey sat stonily beside her, curled in on herself and staring blankly out the window at the evening light. 

The two were roomed together for this trip, and Emily didn't know how her friend was going to be. She had been a mess after the 6-0 loss to North Carolina, but this was something on an entirely different level. This was a semi-final, and losing it had cost them their trip to the finals, their chance to pay North Carolina back. 

And Lindsey, being Lindsey... Lindsey's mind was probably reeling, going back over every single move she had made on the field, looking for something that she could have done better, could have done to put a ball in the back of the net. 

The silence continued as the women split off from the bus, each entering their rooms. Emily made for the bathroom as Lindsey flopped down onto her bed, burying her face into one of the pillows. The defender turned the water up almost as hot as it could go, trying to burn the day's events off her skin, and out of her brain. Maybe she would wake up, and it would be the morning, and they could go play the game again. 

Not lose to Chicago for the first time in over five years. 

Eventually, it occurred to her that she'd best leave some hot water for Lindsey- that is, if Lindsey was capable off getting off her bed and into the shower, which might be a long shot at this point. So, wrapping her hair up in a towel, she tossed her pajamas on and emerged from the bathroom, letting out a puff of steam. When she glanced over at Lindsey's bed, though, she saw a radically different sight than the Lindsey that had been there when she went to shower.

Now, her best friend was rocking back and forth, breathing heavily into the pillow, letting out tiny little sobs. Her arms were wrapped around her head, pulling at her hair. And, while she had seen Lindsey in states after a loss, something about this scared Emily. 

She approached her carefully, even though Lindsey couldn't see her. Then, she reached out a hand, but left it hovering above Lindsey. 

"Linds?" 

The only sign Lindsey gave that she heard her was a whimper, and that frightened Emily even further. 

"Lindsey? Can we... do you want to talk about it?"

Lindsey shook her head violently, tugging at her hair so hard that a few strands came out in her fingers.

"Lindsey!"

Impulsively, Emily's hand flashed out and wrapped around Lindsey's wrist. 

"Stop!" 

Normally, Lindsey was far stronger than Emily. If she had wanted to, she could have twisted her arm away from her best friend and continued pulling at her hair. But, for some reason, she let Emily pry her fingers loose. 

If she had started crying, it almost would have been less scary. But, instead, she went limp. 

"Lindsey, you... you're scaring me! Please, can you look at me?" 

Emily rubbed a hand between Lindsey's shoulder blades, gently coaxing her friend to look up at her. When she did, Emily almost burst into tears. 

Lindsey's lower lip was quivering, and her eyes were watering. They were wide and vulnerable, and she looked more miserable than Emily had ever seen her. And, if the defender was being honest, Lindsey looked... small.

"Lindsey," she tried. "Can you tell me that you're okay- that I don't need to be worried about you?"

The other woman didn't respond, but her lip trembled harder, and the tears began to drip down her cheeks.

Her head shook minutely back and forth, and her lips were shuddering. The tip of one finger came up to her mouth, and she sucked on it gently.

Emily climbed onto the bed beside her, pulling the limp woman into her arms. She had a hunch, and she needed to find out if she was right, so she would know what she could do for Lindsey.

"Honey," she whispered softly. "Are you twenty five right now?" 

The question broke Lindsey, who started to sob brokenly while shaking her head desperately back and forth. 

"N-Not!" 

Emily pulled Lindsey's head to her chest, stroking her hair. 

"Oh, oh," she whispered. "It's okay, it's okay. Let it out. Let it out, I'm here."

It was only after Lindsey had spent a few minutes sobbing into Emily's chest that the defender realized she had no idea what she was doing. She had no idea how to handle a little, much less a distraught one such as Lindsey. 

All she could do was rock her back and forth, under her sobs started to abate.

"Lindsey, baby," she cooed. "Can you talk to me?"

The little girl's tears were still dripping down her face, but she nodded cautiously. 

"How old are you right now?"

Lindsey had to think about it, but eventually she held up two fingers. Emily rubbed her back gently.

"Such a tiny girl," cooed Emily. "What can Em do to help you right now?" 

Lindsey sniffled, burying her face further into Emily's chest, and Emily realized that she might not be able to get a coherent answer out of Lindsey. And that, no matter how much she wished she could, she might not be able to care for her on her own, while she was in this state at least. 

So she stretched her arm out as far as it would go, to the bedside table where she had laid her phone. When she had one hand around the object, she pulled up her contacts and typed out a message to someone she hoped might know what to do. 

Emily: i'm so sorry to ask but can you come over

Tobin: what's wrong? other than the obvious ofc

Emily was, frankly, surprised that Tobin answered. In Emily's opinion, other than Lindsey, Tobin was the one most likely to be melting down. Maybe she already had, or was holding it all in. 

She was probably just waiting for Christen to get to her before she did. 

Emily: Linds. She's (oh god please don't judge her) small right now. and i have no idea what to do.

Tobin: i'll be right there

Emily sighed in relief- she needed backup.

"Little one," she whispered to Lindsey. "Tobin's going to come over and help you, okay?"

Lindsey whimpered.

"Mommy no leave!" 

A jolt ran up Emily's spine at the nickname, straight into her heart. Despite being scared, and having no idea what she was doing, her chest filled with warmth and love for Lindsey.

It was sudden, but not unwelcome whatsoever. 

"Don't worry, baby girl," she cooed. "Mama's not going anywhere. Never ever, never ever. I'm here as long as you need me, tiny girl." 

This seemed to be of some comfort to the terrified, heartbroken little thing. But, she was still shuddering, and Emily hoped that Tobin would know what to do.

There was a tap on the door, and Emily called for Tobin to come in, unwilling to let go of Lindsey. 

The older woman's eyes were red- so, she had been crying already. But, Emily had a hunch that she had interrupted Tobin before the second stage of her meltdown, and that the second woman was glad that she had something to do while waiting for Christen to come and comfort her. 

"Hi," said Tobin softly, approaching the lump buried in Emily's chest. "Can you look at me, Linds?" 

Lindsey turned her head to look at Tobin, still crying softly. 

"Are you a little bit small right now?" 

Lindsey nodded as Tobin sat down on the edge of the bed, reaching a hand out towards her younger teammate, which Lindsey took.

"Uh huh," she whimpered. "Wan' Mommy t' make it better."

Tobin used her other hand to hold on to Emily's, seeing the younger's heartbroken expression. Because Emily couldn't make it better- all she could do was care for her.

"I know, hon," said the oldest of the three. "Your Mommy's going to keep holding onto you, and you can be as small and sad as you need to." 

"Mommy," cried Lindsey. "Mommy, 'm sorry! Did'n' play well 'nough!"

Tobin and Emily looked at each other in concern. Here it was- the root of it. Lindsey had to have heard about the commentators saying that she wasn't playing as well as she did the previous year, and that could- and would- get to anyone. Especially someone like Lindsey, who was already so hard on herself. 

Tobin stroked Lindsey's hair while the little one's sobs resumed. Both women did their best to comfort the inconsolable baby, cooing that she'd done her best, that that was all they could ever ask, that they were there for her. 

The sobs tapered off again, and Emily felt wetness on her own cheeks- she hadn't even realized she was crying. Lindsey's thumb came up to her mouth and she sucked on it furiously. 

Tobin's phone buzzed and, by her face, it was obvious that it was Christen.

"It's okay, Tobs," said Emily, still rocking Lindsey. "Go, let her take care of you. I've got it from here. Thank you... so much, for helping me get used to this."

Tobin smiled gratefully, kissing Lindsey's hair and dashing off to have her own breakdown. Then it was just Lindsey and Emily again.

"Little one," said Emily seriously, taking Lindsey's chin in her hand. "I want you to listen to Mommy really carefully, okay?"

Lindsey didn't nod, but her eyes opened wide and met her friend's. She was listening. 

"This wasn't your fault. This was not your fault. Chicago had a better game today, but everyone knows how amazing you are. know that my sweet little girl is so talented, and that next season, we are going all the way. Okay, baby?"

Lindsey nodded, and Emily gave her a bright smile. 

"Atta girl. Now, I think it's bedtime for little girls."

It wasn't even that late, but both Emily and Lindsey were physically and emotionally exhausted. So, Lindsey didn't protest when Emily guided her to a sitting position, stripping her out of her sweatpants and slipping her pajamas onto her achy body. Then, she pulled her into the bathroom so that they could brush their teeth- rather, so Emily could give her own a quick look before telling Lindsey to open her mouth and running a toothbrush across her little one's pearly whites. 

Lindsey flushed red, but held Emily's offered hand in hers, as she used the toilet, and the defender found herself overwhelmed with the amazing trust that her friend was placing in her. Big, strong Lindsey Horan, letting herself go, letting herself be a tiny little girl who needed Mommy to rock her, and comfort her, and brush her teeth and wipe her. 

"There, honey," praised Emily. "Mommy's here." 

They fell asleep with Lindsey cuddled against Emily's chest, her friend wrapped around her to protect her from all the nasty big girl feelings that weren't welcome in a sweet baby's brain. 


Lindsey woke up in Emily's arms. For a moment, she didn't remember why she was there. Then, it all came flooding back to her. They had lost, and she had... oh my God.

Oh God, she had been little, and Emily had taken care of her. 

Somehow, she wasn't as embarrassed as she thought she had been. 

"Good morning," came a voice. "Do I have Big Lindsey?"

Lindsey nodded, leaning against Emily's shoulder.

"Yeah... Thanks, Em. For last night. I think I needed that."

"I could tell," laughed Emily gently. "You went pretty deep, but it was my pleasure to take care of you."

Lindsey felt a light blush rise to her cheeks. 

"I... I'm really never little. I only... The last time I was little, I was... Shit, I think I was eighteen. Yeah, definitely. I was at PSG."

"Do you want... Are you comfortable telling me about it?"

Lindsey almost laughed. 

"God, Em. Do you really think that, after last night, I wouldn't be comfortable?"

Emily shrugged. 

"Just checking." 

Lindsey grinned- God, her friend was so sweet.

"Thanks, Em. Yeah, PSG was a really bad time for me. The coach... he wasn't very nice to me, and one day it just got to be too much, and I was suddenly... small."

"Aww, honey," cooed Emily. "Please tell me... Did you at least have someone to take care of you?"

Lindsey shook her head sadly. When she was first at PSG- before Tobin had signed with them- she hadn't trusted anyone enough yet to let them see her like that. She had been just an eighteen year old kid, alone in a new country, and very sad. So, she had been little by herself, trying to take care of herself but ending up sobbing on the floor.

She hadn't trusted anyone like she trusted Emily.

Her friend petted her hair softly. 

"I'm so sorry that happened, Linds. If you... If you ever need to be little again, Mommy will be happy to take care of her sweet little girl." 

Lindsey smiled softly.

"Thanks, Mommy. Maybe when... maybe when we get home, we can...?"

Emily returned the smile.

"Of course, baby." 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Christen picked Tobin up from her hotel the second she could. Coming to Chicago for the semi-final, she had gotten a room in a nearby hotel, so she and Tobin could be alone, no matter what happened. Close enough that Tobin could get back to the team hotel for any team meetings that Mark might want her for, one way or another. She had hoped that they would be using it for wild sex, with her rewarding Tobin for the Thorns' victory, with her pussy of course. 

That was clearly not what was going to happen tonight.

At least they could be alone, and she could care for her beautiful, sweet wife in whatever way she needed.  

The drive was silent, except for the sound of the rental car's engine. 

Christen knew it wasn't the safest thing ever, but it was only a five minute drive, and so she kept her hand in Tobin's the entire time, feeling her wife tremble with the shock of what had just happened.  

When they pulled into the parking lot, she parked the car and unbuckled Tobin's seat belt for her. She walked around to her wife's side of the car, pulling the nearly comatose girl up to her feet. She wrapped her arm around Tobin and guided her into the building, towards the elevator, then up and into their room. 

Tobin flopped numbly down onto the bed, burying her head in her trembling hands. Christen sat down next to her and ran a gentle hand up and down her back.

"Sweetheart," she said. "What can I do for you?"

Tobin looked up, and her eyes were sparkling with miserable unshed tears. Her lips were trembling, along with most of the rest of her body. Their eyes locked, and they stared at each other, Tobin's eyes full of tears and Christen's full of love, until Tobin broke down. 

"Mommy-" she whimpered, and Christen didn't waste a single fraction of a second before pulling her wife into her arms. Tobin could smell Christen's shampoo, a familiar scent. Mommy rocked her back and forth gently, planting tiny kisses all over her hair.

"Oh, love," she cooed lovingly. "Oh, my sweet baby girl." 

Tobin's tears burst forth from her eyes like a rushing waterfall, and she let Christen pull her trembling form up onto her lap. She was in so much pain, lost in the memory of a terrible ending to what she saw as a truly terrible season. 

Loser loser lost no, no, can't, can't lose. Can't handle, no. 

Lost.

"M-Mommy," she sobbed again, whimpering out the apologies that she thought were necessary. "M-M-Mom-mm-y, I-I-I... 'M so, s-s-s-sorry! 'M b-bad baby!" 

Christen made a sympathetic noise, rubbing Tobin's back gently, trying to soothe her at least a little bit. So, they were going to do this part first- hopefully, she could bring Tobin down from the metaphorical ledge quickly, and then they could have a nice night together, where she could just take care of her little girl.

"No, no, baby," she cooed. "You don't have to apologize to Mommy, little one. Not even a little bit, not to anyone. You're not a bad baby, not at all. You're my good little baby, so talented. So, so, so good. Mommy loves you, so much, and so do all the Portland fans. They all love you, and nobody blames you. Do you understand, baby?" 

Tobin wailed miserably, burying her face back in Christen's neck. 

"Can't- c-can't handle-"

She couldn't even finish the sentence. 

"You can, baby girl. You can. Mommy's here, and Mommy's going to help you. Mommy will always help you, no matter what. You're my strong baby girl, my little fighter. And there's always next season, honey. Okay?"

Tobin whimpered again. She had been sobbing like this for at least ten minutes now, and it was taking a toll on her. Despite the fact that her anguish had barely diminished, she just didn't have the energy to cry that hard for any longer.

So, she nodded weakly into Christen's neck. 

Christen knew that it wasn't okay yet- it probably wouldn't be okay for a little while. But, the season was over for both of them now. So, they could go back to Tobin's- their- house in Portland, and Christen could help her get over it bit by bit. 

"That's my girl," she said, bouncing Tobin gently. "My sweet girl. My sweet, tiny little girl. Will you let Mommy take care of you?" 

This time, there was no delay before the nod. And this was a nod that Christen believed. 

"Okay," she said. "Mommy brought all your things, so let's get you all changed." 

The corners of Tobin's lips turned up for half a second- it wasn't a smile, but it was something, and it made Christen's heart fill with a warmth that really only came when she was taking care of her sweet little Tobin. Christen got up from the bed, going as quickly as she could to the suitcase she had brought with all of Tobin's little things, just in case of a situation like this. 

Tobin made a tiny, upset noise, unhappy at being physically separated from Mommy, even for the few seconds that it took for the striker to get her baby things. Christen hurried back with a striped onesie and a pair of fluffy socks with sunflowers on them clutched in one hand, and a nighttime diaper in the other. Her little one reached her arms out for her, scooting towards the edge of the bed, and Christen gave her a huge smile, the same one that she gave Khaleesi and Morena. When she spoke, the tone of voice was similar as well.

"Hi, baby!" 

Gently, Christen guided Tobin's arms up to pull her shirt off, followed quickly by her bra. Next came her sweatpants and boxers, and she tossed them all into one of the complimentary hotel laundry bags. She blew a gentle raspberry on Tobin's bare stomach, and the little girl let out a tiny giggle, which was absolute music to the striker's ears. She had been worried that it would take Tobin much longer to give her a sign of happiness.

"There's a smile! Such a good smile!" 

She gave her another raspberry, then got her dressed for bedtime. It wasn't that late, but it was absolutely bedtime for little girls. 

Tobin didn't protest against the diaper that Christen slid up her legs and fastened around her hips, which told Christen that she was far smaller than she usually was. Normally, Tobin would have thrown an absolute fit at the thought of a diaper, would have protested that she wasn't a baby, she was a big girl. 

Often, Christen relented in favor of a pull-up- she didn't want to make Tobin uncomfortable, ever. She only ever put Tobin in diapers when she was almost positive that they would be needed. Tonight was certainly one of those nights.

When she had gotten her little one all cozy in her baby girl clothes, Christen gave her a big kiss on each cheek. 

"There's my sweet little baby! Mommy's missed you, monkey!" 

Tobin sniffled again, and Christen scooped her up into her arms, swaying back and forth with her. It never failed to amaze Tobin, how strong Mommy was. 

"Ma," whispered the baby innocently. "Paci?"

"Of course," said Christen, walking towards the suitcase where she kept the baby things. "Mommy's so silly! How could I forget?" 

She handed her the soft blue paci, clipping it to the front of her onesie, and Tobin popped it into her mouth, sucking on it desperately. Her eyes started to flutter, the mental and physical exhaustion of the bad, bad day starting to get the best of her. 

Christen carried Tobin to the bathroom and gently pulled her paci from her mouth, popping it back in as soon as she'd run a toothbrush across her little one's teeth. She deposited Tobin on the king sized bed then changed into her own pajamas.

"Do you want Mommy to read you a story, baby?"

Tobin shrugged unenthusiastically as Christen pulled the covers back, allowing the little one to snuggle down underneath. The striker joined her, then pulled her to her chest.

"Or," she said. "Do you just want to snuggle with Mommy until you fall asleep?"

"Ma," whispered Tobin, already beginning to drift off. Christen smiled softly down at her little girl, still heartbroken for her. 

"Goodnight, angel," she whispered, kissing her on the forehead. "Mommy loves you. So, so much."

Tobin snuffled in her sleep, enveloped in her Mommy's embrace. No matter how many games she lost, no matter how big they were, Mommy would always, always love her.  

Chapter Text

Emily had definitely not been expecting the day to end like this. 

She had been expecting, first of all, to win the game. To probably have celebratory sex with someone (Lindsey), to get slightly tipsy and spend the night with her tongue buried in her friend's pussy before preparing for the final.

And, barring that, she hadn't been expecting to have to deal with the loss all alone. 

Her roommate, Caitlin, had gone to be with Hayley. Tobin had collapsed miserably into Christen's arms the moment she had seen her wife, and the striker had needed to hold her up as they walked away from the crowds. But she had expected that Lindsey, at least, would be here with her. Because Lindsey was always here. 

Until tonight. When the defeated, miserable, broken Thorns had piled out of the bus after the worst ending to a season in club history, Emily had grabbed onto her friend's arm, trying to pull her up to her room so that they could comfort each other in whatever way was needed, be it tearful, gentle sex, or just holding each other. 

But, Lindsey had shaken her hand off, making her way towards the stairs up to her room. 

"I'm... Em, I'm sorry, I have to be alone."

Her voice had broken, and Emily could tell that she was near tears, just trying to hold them back until she was out of the lobby. 

"Linds-" the defender had said, trying to follow after the midfielder. 

"Em, please... I can't be around anyone right now. Just go away." 

Emily had dropped her hand, and somehow managed to make it back into her room before she started crying. Not just over the loss, though that was a huge part of it, but because she had thought that at least she would have her friend there so they could console each other, like they had after so many games before. 

So now, she was buried in blankets, sobbing, because she could feel her brain leaving her. She rocked herself back and forth, because she didn't want to be little right now. Not in the slightest. 

However, it didn't look like she had a choice. She popped her thumb into her mouth, trying to control her violent sobs. 

"N-No," she moaned in misery. "W-Wan'... noooo." 

She only just managed to pull herself out of the tangle of blankets and grab her stuffie from her suitcase, then tossed herself back into the bed. 

"M-M-Momm-mmyy," she sobbed, sinking deeper and deeper down away from being big. 

She needed Lindsey, really, really badly. But Mommy didn't want to be around her, she wanted to be alone, she didn't want baby Emmy. 

Emily wailed, shuddering in fear. She was all alone, all alone, without Mommy. 

To her little brain, Mommy wanting to be alone meant that Mommy didn't love her anymore. And that was more terrifying than losing the semi-final, more terrifying than anything else she had ever experienced.

Her chest was tight, and she rubbed her eyes with her stuffed lion. Really, her only source of comfort at all, since her Mommy wasn't here to hold her. 

It took time before Emily's sobs faded into tears, which eventually dwindled down into sniffles. 

"M-Ma," she whimpered. "Need Mom-m-m-yy." 

That amount of crying, for such a little girl, was just too much. Eventually, Emily fell into a fitful sleep, snuggling with her lion but wishing that she had Mommy's strong arms wrapping around her. Mommy had always told her that little Em made her so happy... why wouldn't Mommy let her this time? 

"Mama," she sighed as she fell asleep, absolutely miserable and broken, without her caretaker.


After a fitful sleep, Emily woke up to gentle hands shaking her. It took her a few minutes to truly wake up, becoming aware of each part of her body separately. First, the shoulder, where someone's gentle hands were on her. Next, her face, where the tears had dried and made her skin sticky. Her arms, wrapped around her lion. Finally, her lower half. 

She was wet. Thankfully, she had been so tangled up in the comforter that it hadn't soaked down into the sheets or mattress, but that didn't make it any better. 

Once she realized that, she burst into horrified tears, and the hands shaking her pulled her from the bed, tucking her head against her shoulder, unbothered by her damp lower half, and rocking her back and forth. 

"Baby," she cooed, voice rough with her own tears. "Baby, it's okay." 

Hearing the tears in Lindsey's voice, Emily cried harder, trying to stutter out an apology. Both women were sobbing by the time Lindsey had stripped Emily's pants off her and replaced them with a pull-up. The midfielder tossed the comforter into a corner, to deal with later, then lay down with Emily on the other bed, holding her close to her chest. 

"M-Mama," cried Emily. It was all she was really capable of saying, as she and Lindsey cried themselves out, holding each other. 

When they had calmed down a bit, Lindsey began petting Emily's tangled hair. 

"Baby," she said, voice still shaky. "Why... Why didn't you call me? Why were you alone?" 

"M-Ma didn' wanna be wit' me," said Emily in a tiny voice. "Tol' me ta go 'way." 

Lindsey gasped in horror- because she had. She hadn't known that Emily was going to regress, she hadn't seen any signs of it. But, really, she hadn't been looking. She had been too absorbed in herself, in her need to process the loss on her own, that she hadn't bothered to worry about how Emily might take it. 

"Em," she said, swallowing around the ashamed, horrified lump in her throat. "There aren't enough words to express how sorry I am. You should be able to count on Mommy for anything, anytime but I... I failed you. God, I... Can you ever forgive me?" 

"M-Mommy still want Em?"

Emily sounded shocked, disbelieving. It was too good to be true- she had spent her night crying, because she didn't think her Mommy wanted her anymore. If Lindsey still did... It would make her happier than even winning the World Cup. 

Lindsey planted a slew of kisses on the top of Emily's head. 

"Of course, baby girl. Mommy will always want you. Even when Mommy isn't being a very good Mommy, Mommy will love you with her entire heart. I always want to be your Mommy, Emily. Always."

Emily gasped in relief, pressing a kiss to Lindsey's cheek. 

Then, she remembered. The end of this season meant that the next few were approaching quickly. And the reminder of one of her biggest fears would have sent her into another fit if she had any tears left to cry. 

"B-B-But... Mommy might haveta leave Em forever!" 

"What are you talking about, baby girl? Why... I just told you that I'll always want-"

"'Spansion," wailed Emily. "Don' wanna get sent 'way!" 

Lindsey's chest tightened at the reminder. Because this had been one of her biggest fears as well. As much as the increased popularity of the NWSL warmed her heart, the thought of an expansion team terrified her beyond belief. Because an expansion team meant one thing: teams would be split apart. The chances were not, could she say, small, that at least one of the Portland Thorns on the national team would be sent off to the new team. And it wouldn't be Tobin, not in anyone's wildest dreams.

That left three. 

Which left a two-thirds chance of it either being her or Emily, and that thought almost paralyzed her. But, Emily was already upset enough.

"No, honey," she cooed. "Nobody's sending either one of us anywhere." 

Emily might've been little, but she wasn't stupid, and she started to sob dryly.

"Th-They don' need Em! Mark gonna keep Mommy, but he won' wan' meeeeee!" 

Lindsey's heart broke, impossibly, further. This wasn't just fear over being separated from Lindsey. This was her little girl, terrified of being sent away because she wasn't good enough, wasn't popular or important enough, for Mark to fight to keep. 

"Shhh, honey," she cooed. "No, no. Mark wants you, baby. And even if he didn't, Mommy wouldn't let anybody take her little princess away. Never, never."

"R-Really?"

Emily looked up at her with such blind trust, such faith, that Lindsey's determination lodged in her heart. She had thought that she was just talking, to make little Emily feel better so they could talk about it later, when she was big, But no. She meant this, with all of her heart. Even if there was nothing she could do to stop Emily from being sent away, she would fight it with all of her might.

"Really, cupcake. Mommy would fight the whole USSF, the whole NWSL, to stay with you. I won't let anybody take you away from me." 

Emily buried her face in Lindsey's chest, using her shirt as a tissue. Lindsey laughed lightly. That was more like her little one.

"Mommy's here now, baby." 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Oh, will you stop tapping your foot?"

Tobin tried, she really did. But, before even a minute had passed, her left foot was at it again, tapping away at the airport floor. 

"Honey," said Christen, putting a hand on Tobin's knee. "Are you okay?"

Tobin shrugged, looking down at her lap.

"I'm just... I'm nervous, I guess. What if she doesn't like me?" 

Christen wrapped an arm around her wife's shoulder. 

"Nonsense. Big Mal loves you, and so will Little Mal. But please, remember, you don't need to be involved if you don't want to. All you need to do is accept that she's there, and that I'm going to be her Mom whenever she needs me." 

"No," said Tobin, shaking her head. "It's not that I don't want to be involved! I..."

She didn't get to finish her sentence, because the loudspeaker announced the arrival of flight 147 from Washington. Christen leaped to her feet and walked towards the gate, scanning the faces of the disembarking passengers for the only one who mattered to her. 

Mal was one of the first people off the flight, and when she saw Christen she ran forward, dropping her bags a foot or so away before leaping into the older forward's arms. 

"Hey, bunny," said Christen, lifting Mal up and giving her a kiss on the forehead. "How was your flight?"

As Mal told Christen all about the airplane ride, the sight of her Mommy, and the thought of the weeks ahead, already beginning to send her down into littlespace. Tobin picked her bags up as Christen set her down, keeping ahold of her hand as they walked out towards the car. Tobin lingered a bit behind them, listening to Mal's mouth move a mile a minute, Christen gently encouraging her with questions about everything she'd been doing since she saw her last.

When they reached the car, Tobin popped the trunk and loaded Mal's bags while Christen buckled her into the backseat. 

"So, Mal," said Tobin awkwardly as they pulled out of the parking lot and began the short drive back home. "How... How are you?"

Mal shrugged.

"Tobin asked you a question, bunny," said Christen. "Can we answer in words?"

"'M okay," said Mal in a tiny voice, a blush rising to her cheeks. "Thanks."

The rest of the drive consisted of Christen telling her little one all about all the fun things they were going to do in Portland, and Mal giving her little giggles and smiles. Tobin just focused on the road, feeling so incredibly out of place. 

"Here we are, baby," said Christen as Tobin parked the car and went around to the trunk to unload Mal's bags. The forward unbuckled the little girl, lifting her up and carrying her towards the door.

"Do you... Do you want to see your room?" 

Mal nodded shyly at Tobin's question, burying her face in Christen's shoulder. Tobin led the way up the stairs to the spare room, which she and Christen had spent hours transforming into a nursery for baby Mal. 

The little girl's eyes popped open when she saw it.

The walls were painted a gentle blue, with a decal of Winnie the Pooh on the wall beside the shelf, big enough to hold all the stuffed animals that Mal had brought with her, as well as the new ones that Christen had insisted on buying for her. A mobile hung above the crib, which was piled with plenty of fluffy blankets. A changing table was against another wall, out of view of the window, and a set of drawers against a third wall. Finally, an old fashioned wooden rocking chair.

"Well," said Christen, somewhat nervously. "Do you like it?"

Mal nodded furiously, kissing Christen on the cheek. 

"Love 't, Mommy!" 

Christen kissed her back on the forehead and deposited her on the changing table as Tobin dropped her bags in the corner. 

"So," she said. "Can Mommy get you changed out of those nasty big girl clothes and into your comfy things?"

Mal nodded, and Christen unzipped her biggest suitcase to pull out a pink onesie. She pulled a diaper out of the top drawer of the set, but as she approached Mal, the little girl shook her head. Her eyes had gone wide, and she was staring directly at Tobin.

Christen got the picture.

"Tobs," she said. "Will you wait downstairs?" 

Tobin left the room, her chest tightening a little bit. She didn't know what she had been expecting, but that didn't make it sting any less. Christen gave her an apologetic look as she closed the door behind her, and Tobin could hear her cooing at the baby all the way downstairs.


Tobin was halfway through her third episode of The Office by the time she heard Christen's feet on the staircase. She muted the show as her wife entered the room, wrapping her arms around her and kissing her neck. 

"Hi, babe."

Tobin hadn't realized how stiff she was until Christen joined her on the couch, and she allowed herself to relax into her wife's arms.

"Where's Mal?"

Christen smiled softly at the thought of the little girl upstairs.

"She had a long flight, so she's taking a nap. Listen, babe, she... are you good?"

Tobin shrugged. 

"Sure. Why shouldn't I be?"

"Honey," said Christen, not buying it. "I know you're... disappointed. I know you were really hoping... Just give her time, babe. She's shy, and it'll probably take her a few days to get used to being around you while she's little. She will, though. I promise, love. Pretty soon, you'll get to see my goofy, sweet baby. Okay?"

Tobin nodded shortly, snuggling closer into Christen's side. 

"Don't worry," said the forward, pressing a line of kisses to Tobin's neck. "I won't forget about you." 


They had just finished when a noise on the baby monitor that Tobin hadn't even realized Christen had brought downstairs with her caught the forward's attention. It wasn't crying, just babbles, but it definitely had the potential to turn into tears if she didn't go and get Mal up. 

"I'm going to go get the baby," said Christen. "Would you mind ordering pizza?"

She made for the stairs, but Tobin stopped her before she could leave earshot.

"What... Does Mal eat...?"

"Just get her a small cheese one. She'll probably be small enough that I'll just give her some fruit and a bottle, but better safe than sorry." 

As Tobin picked up the phone to order, she heard the sounds of Christen greeting her baby through the monitor, and she could just picture the youngest woman reaching her arms up for her wife, and Christen giving her kisses as she prepared to bring her downstairs. 

Christen and Mal both sounded so happy, and Tobin had to fight to keep the emotion from her voice as she placed their order, for delivery in an hour. 

Before long, the sound of footsteps on the stairs alerted her to the fact that Christen was returning, and the slow pace told her that she had a baby in her arms. 

"I'm so glad you had a good nap, bunny," said the forward, rounding the corner and plopping down on the couch with Mal in her lap. "Mommy's missed you so much!" 

Mal nuzzled into Christen's neck, suckling idly on a pacifier. 

"Aww," said the older woman. "That's my tiny girl."

It was such a sweet moment, and Tobin didn't want to interrupt it. So, she retreated to the kitchen to wait for the pizza, while Christen flicked the TV on to Blue's Clues. Mal giggled at the show, snuggled in Christen's lap, until the doorbell rang, and she buried her face once again, this time in Christen's hair.

"Don't worry, bunny," said the older forward. "Tobin's not gonna let anybody in. It's all okay."

Sure enough, Tobin soon entered the den with a large box for her and Christen, setting the smaller box on the table in front of Mal. 

"Do you want pizza or a bottle, baby?"

Mal pondered. The pizza smelled so good, but she also wanted to be cradled in Mommy's arms, sucking on a warm bottle. 

"Bof?"

Christen obliged, feeding a Mal two slices of cheese pizza- wiping her mouth with a cloth napkin in between- and taking bites of her own whenever the little one was chewing. When they had finished, Christen slid Mal off her lap so that she could go and prepare a bottle. The baby whimpered, reaching out and grabbing onto Christen's arm.

"Don't worry, sweetie. Mommy's just going to make you a bottle. I'll be right back."

Mal didn't seem happy about it, but she let go of her Mommy's arm and Christen left the room, leaving Mal on the couch with Tobin. The baby seemed to curl in on herself, angling her body away from Tobin, sucking her thumb until Christen returned.

The forward's eyes filled with a brief sadness, before the smile lit her face again.

"Hey, bunny! Mommy's got your bottle all ready!" 

Mal clambered back into Christen's lap, opening her mouth like a baby bird. Christen slid the nipple of the bottle into her mouth and Mal started to suckle gently. The warm liquid entering her mouth was so relaxing, and it made her feel so tiny. 

"Good girl," cooed Christen. "That's my tiny baby." 

Even though Mal's nap hadn't been all that long ago, the overwhelming relaxation induced by drinking a bottle in her Mommy's arms started to send her back towards sleep. Christen noticed quickly, and lifted her little one up into her arms to return her to her crib. 

Once she had brushed Mal's teeth, checked her diaper, and given her at least five kisses all over her hair, Christen tucked her into her crib and handed her a stuffie. 

"Goodnight, bunny," she said, flicking off the light. "Mommy's so happy to have her baby girl back." 

When Christen and Tobin were snuggled together in their bed, the baby monitor on the table next to Christen's side of the bed, the forward gave her wife a gentle kiss.

"Don't worry, baby," she said. "She'll warm up to you."


 Two weeks later, and Mal still didn't seem to be warming up to Tobin in the way Christen had predicted. 

She had let Tobin pick her up, but had been completely stiff in her arms. She still wouldn't let Tobin be in the room while Christen changed her diaper, and the only time she ever spoke to the midfielder was to whisper her thanks for whatever small things that she allowed Tobin to do for her. 

 Which was why Tobin wasn't exactly thrilled when Christen told her that she was going grocery shopping.

"Don't worry, babe," said the forward. "You've been doing all the shopping. I've got it this time."

"But," said Tobin, looking up towards the stairs, where Mal was napping. "What if..."

"She should stay asleep," reassured Christen. "But if she somehow wakes up and you can't calm her down, call me and I'll come home."

Before Tobin could get in another protest, Christen was out the door, and she was alone in the house with a baby who she was quite convinced hated her. 

When fifteen minutes had gone by without a noise from Mal, Tobin decided to start dinner. She brought the monitor with her into the kitchen, leaving it on the counter as she dug through the refrigerator, searching for the ingredients for a taco salad. 

Then, she froze. 

Had she been imagining that? 

No. Another whimper came through the baby monitor, and Tobin swore to herself. 

The whimpers quickly devolved into sobs, and Tobin raced for the stairs. 

When she threw open the nursery door, Mal was sitting up in her crib, face red and tears pouring from her eyes. Her gaze locked on Tobin, and she started to wail harder.

"Shit," whispered the midfielder to herself as she approached the crib slowly. 

"I know you want Mommy," she said to Mal. "But she's not here right now. What... what can I do for you?"

Mal shook her head back and forth, squeezing her stuffie to her chest. 

"Mo-Mommm-mmm-yyy!" 

"I know," cooed Tobin. "I know, you want Mommy. But will you at least let me get you out of your crib, kiddo?" 

Mal didn't nod, but she didn't shake her head either. Tobin took that as progress, approaching even closer to the crib and reaching her arms out for the baby. Mal let her pick her up, but immediately started kicking her legs, so hard that Tobin had to set her down on the carpet. 

Tobin reached for her cellphone, ready to call Christen. 

But, she realized, if she did that... She might never manage to connect with the baby at all, and that would make for not only an awkward off season, but a very depressing one. Because, she knew, she wanted to be involved in Mal's life while she was here. She didn't just want to watch Christen take care of her, she wanted to help. She wanted to be able to kiss her, cuddle her, give her bottles, put her down for naps, play with her... Everything. 

So, she would give it one more shot. 

If it had worked on Cassius, she might as well try it with Mal. 

"Hey, kiddo," she said. "Look over here."

Mal did, still sobbing. Tobin puffed her cheeks out, making a funny face. It seemed to grab the baby's interest, and her tears slowed slightly. 

Tobin snatched a stuffed panda off of the shelf, holding it up in front of her face.

"Hi Mal," she said in a cartoon-ish voice. "Why so sad?"

Mal didn't answer the panda, but stared in curiosity. She still wasn't done crying, but the sobs had decreased into little hiccups. 

"I love you," Tobin said, as the panda. "Please stop crying." 

Then, the most beautiful sound Tobin had ever heard.

Mal giggled, reaching her arms out for the panda. Tobin tucked it into her arms, and she wiped her eyes on its soft fur. 

"Thank you, God," whispered Tobin, getting up from her place in front of Mal, but squatting down to still be at eye level.

"Can I pick you up, little one?"

Mal nodded without hesitation, reaching her arms out for Tobin, who wasted no time before scooping the baby up into her arms. 

"Hey there," she said, bouncing her gently. "Are you feeling a bit better?"

Mal nodded, leaning her head against Tobin's shoulder. 

"Do you want a bottle?"

Mal nodded again, and Tobin carefully carried her down the stairs, depositing her in a chair as she prepared the formula. Once it was ready, she picked Mal up again and settled her into her arms on the couch. 

Mal suckled at the nipple of the bottle, relaxing into Tobin's arms. The older woman used the hand not holding the bottle to rub her shoulder. 

"Atta girl," she cooed. "Such a good baby."

When Christen returned to the adorable scene, Mal having fallen back asleep on Tobin's lap, she gave her wife a soft smile. She set down her groceries, then kissed both of her girls, Mal on the forehead and Tobin on the lips. 

"There we go," she said. "I knew you two would get along eventually."

"Did you do this on purpose?"

Christen shrugged, going to put away the groceries. 

"I might have forgotten what time she usually wakes up." 

Tobin shook her head, but smiled down at the little girl in her arms, whispering conspiratorially to her.

"Your Mommy is such a trickster," she said to the sleeping girl. 


 

One week later, Tobin cried in happiness as Mal whispered "goodnight, Mama," to her.  

"Goodnight, bunny. I love you." 

Chapter Text

Alex tapped gently at the door, more announcing her presence than anything else. Without waiting for Kelley to answer, she pushed the door open. 

Kelley was curled up in a pile of blankets, face buried in the pillow. Alex couldn't tell if she was little or big, but all that mattered was how she had taken the news. By the looks of it, not well. 

"Kell?" 

The only answer she got was a sob. 

"Honey," she said, sitting on the bed and putting a hand in between Kelley's shoulder blades. "Will you talk to me?"

Kelley raised her head, and Alex wanted to cry herself at the sight of Kelley's tearstained face.

"Are you... Are you s-sure you're p-pregnant?" 

Alex nodded, trying to pull Kelley into her arms. The other woman wrapped her arms around herself instead, retreating to the other side of the bed. 

"The doctor confirmed it. Kell, please. Tell me what's on your mind?" 

Kelley buried her head back in her hands, and Alex put a hand on her knee.

"I'm h-h-happy for you, Alex. Really, I a-am. I j-just..."

Kelley collapsed forward into Alex's open arms, letting the other woman stroke her hair. The striker made soft noises, trying to comfort Kelley, but the defender whimpered out a sentence that Alex had been dreading. 

"I don't w-want you t-to... You're gonna leav-ve me." 

"Shh," said Alex. "Shh, baby girl. Let it out, I'm here."

Kelley did, sobbing into Alex's shoulder, letting her best friend stroke her hair and back.

"That's it, that's it," said Alex as Kelley's sobs began to taper off. The striker took the defender's chin into her hand, gently guiding her to look into her eyes. Despite the fact that she had just cried out some of her emotions, Kelley's eyes contained complete and utter heartbreak and terror. 

"I... Thank you for everything," said Kelley, hiccuping over her words. "I know that you... I know that you won't be able to... to take care of me anymore, when the baby is born. You're... you're a great Mommy, Alex, and this little girl is the luckiest one in the world." 

Now Alex was the one crying, at the emotion contained in Kelley's eyes. Because, despite the joy of her pregnancy, this was the one dark spot. She and Servando had talked, and Alex had cried- a lot- and they had agreed that the best thing for their unborn baby was for Kelley to find a new Mommy. So, she had come here to tell Kelley that she couldn't take care of her anymore- as it seemed the defender had figured out. 

But, as she stared into Kelley's eyes, she couldn't do it. 

Even the thought of giving up her sweet little Kelley made it feel like someone had torn her heart out and stomped on it with a pair of cleats.

"Kelley Maureen O'Hara," she said, holding back her tears. "You've taught me so much. If I hadn't had the honor of taking care of you, you can't imagine how terrified I'd be for this baby. But you taught me so much about love, pumpkin, and caring for you has been the joy of my life. My daughter might change our relationship a little bit, but I will never stop loving you. And, if you still want me to, I would... I would like to keep taking care of you, in whatever way and whenever I can." 

Kelley stared at Alex in awe. Because this had to be the most amazing woman on the planet.

"R-Really?"

Alex raised her hand to stroke Kelley's cheek, wiping away the tears. 

"I promise, pumpkin. I might... You might need to spend a little more time with a sitter, but I always want to be your Mommy. Okay?"

Kelley threw herself into Alex's arms, sobbing again, this time in joy. 

"Th-Thank y-you, Mom-mmyyy! P-Promise be good! Won't e-ever b-be trouble!" 

Alex laughed lightly, rocking Kelley back and forth. 

"Thank you, pumpkin. But you don't need to be anything other than who you are: my goofy little baby." 


Servando had been angry at Alex when she came home and told him that she couldn't, wouldn't, give Kelley up. But, when he saw the determination in her eyes, and realized that she was willing to go to bat for her best friend, he had let it go.

As Alex's belly grew, Kelley seemed awed by it. She talked to the baby more than Servando did, and Alex's heart melted every time Kelley sang a sweet little song to her belly, or just spent time cuddling with Alex on the couch when she was too sore to move. 

There had been some changes, of course: Alex was less available, and their teammates had begun taking turns caring for Kelley whenever she was little and Alex couldn't muster the energy. Alex couldn't lift Kelley up anymore, either, and Kelley knew that she had to be a little calmer than she normally was. 

Really, Alex was incredibly proud of how well her little one was handling everything, and she couldn't help herself from smiling smugly at Servando as Kelley napped against her shoulder. 

Kelley was almost as exhausted as Alex- concussion recovery, quickly followed by Olympic training, was sapping all of her energy, making her smaller than usual.

Today, Alex and Kelley were sitting together on the couch watching an episode of Dora the Explorer. Kelley was absolutely tiny today- if Alex had to guess, she would say she was around one and a half, the smallest she ever got. 

"Mama," said Kelley. "Bottle?"

Alex petted Kelley's hair, an idea popping into her head. Kelley wanted a bottle, but Alex thought she could do her one better. Her milk had just started to come in, and there was something about Kelley, lying on her lap so sweet and innocent, that made her want to feed her sweet little girl with nothing but herself.

"Kell, pumpkin," she said, unbuttoning her shirt. "Do you want... Do you want to..."

Kelley looked up, eyes widening in astonishment as she saw Alex was offering. 

"R-Really, Mama?"

Alex nodded.

"Really, pumpkin."

Alex pulled Kelley up into her arms, cradling her head like she was an infant. Her mouth fell open and she latched onto Alex's nipple. It took a few sucks for the milk to come, but when it did, Kelley's eyes closed in bliss at the feeling of being so close to Alex, allowing herself to fully sink down and let herself be cared for. Above all, Alex's milk flowing into her mouth was a reminder that, even though she might be pregnant with a literal baby, Kelley was still her baby, too, and just as loved as the unborn one. 

As for Alex, she was in complete awe of Kelley. The completely asexual suckling, Kelley's eyes shut in an absolute state of innocent relaxation and, overall, the amazing trust that her sweet little girl was placing in her... It was all enough to bring tears to her eyes, ones that she couldn't quite blame on the pregnancy hormones. 

"Oh, baby," she cooed, stroking Kelley's hair as she gently switched her to the other breast. "That's my sweet little girl. My precious, perfect angel." 

"Mama," whispered Kelley. "Love 'ou."

As Kelley drifted off into a peaceful sleep, Alex cooed gently down at her, filled with such a complete love that she could only imagine was similar to what she would feel for her own daughter.

"I love you too, baby girl. No matter what, no matter what, you'll always be my baby. My first little baby."

When Servando came home to find Alex cradling Kelley on the couch, stroking her hair absently, he didn't dare to protest. 

 

Chapter Text

Alex tapped gently at the door, more announcing her presence than anything else. Without waiting for Kelley to answer, she pushed the door open. 

Kelley was curled up in a pile of blankets, face buried in the pillow. Alex couldn't tell if she was little or big, but all that mattered was how she had taken the news. By the looks of it, not well. 

"Kell?" 

The only answer she got was a sob. 

"Honey," she said, sitting on the bed and putting a hand in between Kelley's shoulder blades. "Will you talk to me?"

Kelley raised her head, and Alex wanted to cry herself at the sight of Kelley's tearstained face.

"Are you... Are you s-sure you're p-pregnant?" 

Alex nodded, trying to pull Kelley into her arms. The other woman wrapped her arms around herself instead, retreating to the other side of the bed. 

"The doctor confirmed it. Kell, please. Tell me what's on your mind?" 

Kelley buried her head back in her hands, and Alex put a hand on her knee.

"I'm h-h-happy for you, Alex. Really, I a-am. I j-just..."

Kelley collapsed forward into Alex's open arms, letting the other woman stroke her hair. Alex heart started cracking, because it was so clear that Kelley wasn't stupid. Kelley had figured out what was coming, knew what Alex was here to do. 

"Shh, Kell," hushed Alex. "Baby girl, it's okay, I'm right here." 

This wasn't going to make it any easier. Alex knew that, if she was going to cut the cord, she should do it cleanly. But she couldn't just let Kelley cry like this. For now, at least, the defender was still her little girl. 

"M-M-Momm-mmmyyy," sobbed Kelley, and Alex stroked her hair. 

She could feel heartbroken tears springing to her own eyes as the defender sobbed in her arms, slipping further away from Big Kelley, becoming Little Kelley, Alex's little one. She blinked them away- she had to be the strong one here. 

When Kelley's tears began to taper off, Alex rocked her gently in her arms. 

"Sweetheart," she said. "Are you little right now?"

Kelley nodded, and Alex cooed softly, kissing her on the forehead. One more day, then. Just one more day, where Kelley could be so much more than just her best friend. She couldn't do this to Kelley, not while she was so small, when she needed her so much. 

"Okay, pumpkin," she said. "I'm here. Do you want a snack?"

Kelley shook her head, wrapping her arms around Alex's neck, pulling herself closer to her Mommy. 

"M-Mama," she sniffled. "N-Need..."

Alex made a soft noise, bouncing Kelley gently. Rising from the bed with the little one cradled in her arms, she walked towards the couch and deposited Kelley on the soft cushions. 

"Do you want a bottle instead, baby?"

Kelley nodded, watching Alex leave the room with wide, frightened, soft eyes, as if wondering if her Mommy would even come back.

Alex did come back, holding a warm bottle of chocolate milk. She sat down on the couch beside Kelley and gestured the defender onto her lap, a place which Kelley took eagerly. She let Alex feed her the bottle, but didn't close her eyes like she normally would. Instead, she stared up at her Mommy, as if trying to memorize every detail of her face. Alex did the same, eyes locked in Kelley's wide ones as the defender drank her bottle. 

All too soon, the last sip of chocolate milk had been extracted from the bottle by Kelley's suckling. But Alex kept her cradled in her arms, humming softly to her until Kelley began to drift off, overwhelmed with emotion. 

"Mama," she sighed before she fell asleep to Alex stroking her hair. 

Alex stayed on the couch until her legs were beginning to fall asleep from the weight of Kelley. Then, carefully, making sure not to jostle and wake the little one, she carried her back to the bedroom and tucked her under the covers with a kiss to her forehead. She changed into an extra pair of Kelley's sweatpants, slightly too small for her, then clambered into bed beside the little girl, tucking her head against her shoulder. Holding her close, for what would in all likelihood be the last time. 

"I love you, pumpkin," she whispered to the emotionally exhausted little lump in her arms. "Truly."


Kelley woke up big- Alex could tell because the defender had let her keep sleeping, whereas little Kelley would have shaken her awake right away. The smell of coffee was what really woke Alex, and she opened her eyes to see Kelley sitting beside her, holding two cups. 

"Good morning, Alex," she said, handing her the coffee. 

"Good morning, Kell," said Alex, taking the coffee and sitting up beside her. They drank their coffee in silence, and only once both cups had been placed on the bedside table did they speak. 

"Kell," said Alex. "I... I think you know why I'm here."

Kelley nodded miserably, pulling the pillow to her chest. 

"I guess... I guess I was just hoping I was wrong. But you... you're going to have a baby, Alex. I understand why..."

Her voice broke, and Alex silently took her hand. 

"...why you can't be my Mommy anymore."

Alex's heart clenched.

"Kell," she said. "You're right. I wish I could tell you that you're wrong, but me and Serv talked and we agreed... God, I wish... I wish I could still take care of you. But my own baby has to come first."

Kelley nodded miserably, and Alex saw tears springing to her eyes. She wanted to cry herself, but that would do nothing except make things worse. 

"You... Pumpkin, you taught me so much about love. More than you could ever know. Loving you, being your Mommy... Sweetheart, it's been the joy of my life."

Kelley had begun to cry, and Alex could see her beginning to slip down into littlespace again. Alex swallowed around the lump in her throat- she hadn't wanted to do this while Kelley was little. But she had started this train, and there was no getting off it now. 

"Please," she continued. "Know that I will always love you, Kell. Always. You'll always be my first baby, and I... I promise that I'll find you someone. Someone who'll love you so much, somebody who'll be able to stay with you forever, who won't ever let you go. I promise, Kelley."

When Kelley spoke, all the maturity of Big Kelley had gone, replaced by the utter heartbreak of the situation, which Little Kelley couldn't handle.

"Y-You promised you'd n-never leav-ve me." 

Alex couldn't quite hold back all her tears this time. 

"Kelley, I'm so sorry! This is... the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. No matter how long I live, I won't ever stop loving you."

"I love you, M-Mommy," sobbed Kelley. "Promise I'll b-be good! Won' ever ask f'r anythin', just p-please don't leave me!" 

Alex pulled Kelley into her arms, giving her one last kiss on the forehead.

"I'm so sorry, Kelley." 

As she left Kelley in her room, sobbing herself back to sleep in her bed, Alex leaned against the door frame and clutched her chest, finally allowing the heartbroken, guilty tears to spill from her eyes. When she left the apartment, she left a new stuffie on the counter. It was a woefully inadequate parting gift, but it was all she could do. The fluffy bear stared after with its button eyes, and Alex felt like she had left her heart behind in Kelley's apartment. 

Alex cried all the way home, and when Servando tried to wrap his arms around her, to comfort her, she shoved him away and locked herself in her room. 

"You did the right thing, Al," he whispered through the door. "You'll see." 

Alex ignored him- all she could hear was an echo in her mind of Kelley's desperate sobs, her heartbroken pleas for Alex to stay with her. 

She was, she felt, worse than a monster. Anyone who told a baby that they would never leave them, then did anyway, had to be some sort of demon. 


When Alex could breathe again, she opened up her phone and sent out a mass text to every single one of their national team teammates, as well as many former players who had played with Kelley before. She explained the situation, ignoring all of their questions, and then sent the part which broke her heart impossibly further. 

Alex: She's such a sweet girl, just a beautiful baby. She needs so much love, that I can't... I just can't give her anymore. Please, if any of you can love her the way I do... Please, please tell me. She needs you. She's so scared, so lost right now. She just needs someone to love her, someone who can be there for her. She's my baby, just please take care of her. Remind her how precious she is.

Several teammates texted back, with interest, but some needed to check with their partners, some said that they could watch her sometimes, but couldn't be the steady presence that Kelley needed right now, some saying that they needed to think about it for a few days... So, no definite yeses. 

Swallowing down renewed tears, Alex accepted Heather's offer to go stay with her for a little while, just make sure that she was taken care of, that she wasn't dead in her bed. The older woman texted her updates every few hours, and Alex could barely read them. 

Her poor angel. 


Several days later, and the hole in Alex's chest hadn't even begun to knit back together. 

Heather had needed to return home, with a promise to Big Kelley that she would do her very best to fly back out if she needed her badly. Hope, who Alex had originally hoped would be able to care for Kelley, had texted her regretfully, telling her that she wasn't in a good enough place mentally to care for a little one. Lauren had wanted to, but her husband had put his foot down. Same thing with Allie Long. Sonnett had offered, and Alex was considering.

But really, she told herself. Sonnett was so young. Could she really care for a baby who needed as much love as Kelley? 

Really, Alex had been holding back on responding to Sonnett. She needed to hand Kelley off to someone, someone who could promise her their undivided attention, but she... No matter how much she liked the younger woman, the thought of Sonnett rocking Kelley to sleep, giving her bottles, cajoling her into pull ups, remembering her numerous stuffed animals' names, reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar five times in a single night because Kelley wouldn't go to sleep with her caterpillar stories, spending two hours looking for her favorite pacifier, knowing how to wash her blankie so that all the fluff stayed fluffy, soothing her when she had a sore throat, knowing how to bribe her to let the team doctor take a look at her, enforcing bedtime, making sure that she didn't eat too much sugar... That thought was unthinkable. Because that should be her.

Fuck. 

Alex buried her head in her hands, breathing heavily. 

Kelley needed her, and no matter how hard she tried to tell herself that she could let go, for the sake of her unborn baby, she needed Kelley. 

"Oh my God," she whispered to herself. "Fuck, what have I done?" 

It was going to be difficult. She'd probably have to leave Kelley with a babysitter a lot, especially in the first few months. But goddamn it, she was going to take care of Kelley until the little one didn't want her anymore. 

She threw some clothes in a bag and, without even bothering to wake Servando, ran out the door. 


She still had a key to Kelley's apartment. Even though it was late, the light was still on, and Alex could hear the sounds of the television. She opened the door slowly.

Someone had cleaned the apartment- probably HAO. There were a few pizza boxes stacked on the counter, where the bear she had left had sat. The show on the television sounded like Sofia the First. 

Kelley was wrapped in her fluffy blanket, and she was sucking gently on a pacifier while snuggling the bear that Alex had left for her. The striker took a few steps forward, unsure how to announce her presence.

"Pumpkin," she said softly, and Kelley's head jerked up. When she caught sight of Alex, her mouth fell open, the pacifier landing in her lap. She froze, unbelieving. 

"A-Are... Is this... Mommy?"

Alex stepped forward cautiously. It was physically difficult to hold herself back from throwing herself forward, wrapping Kelley in her arms and kissing her all over her face and hair. But Alex had abandoned her- Kelley had to make the first move.

So, she just sat down carefully on the edge of the couch. 

"Hey, pumpkin," she said. "Do you... Do you have a hug for Mommy?"

Kelley threw herself into Alex's arms, tears immediately springing to her eyes. Alex pulled her closer, rocking her back and forth, crying herself. She hadn't been able to imagine it, how good it would feel to have Kelley back in arms. 

"Hey, sweetie," she cooed, as Kelley sobbed. "I'm here. Mommy's here."

When Kelley had finished crying, she laid her head on Alex's shoulder, using the striker's shirt to wipe her eyes. 

"Kelley," she said, running her hands through the defender's hair. "There are no words to express how sorry I am. Leaving you, thinking that I could ever have a whole heart without my first baby... God, pumpkin, I'm so sorry. There might be a few changes, but... If you'd let me, I'd love to be your Mommy again."

Kelley nodded so quickly that Alex was nervous she would give herself whiplash. 

"Yes," she cried. "I've m-missed you, Mama!" 

"I've missed you too, my angel." 


 

When Alex went back home, a decidedly tiny Kelley in tow, Servando let her put the baby down for a much-needed nap before he called her into the kitchen.

"What the fuck, Alex?"

Ignoring his glare, she went to the fridge to make a snack, for when Kelley woke up.

"You told me that you were going to stop being her fucking Mommy. For our kid, Alex. You can't fucking take care of our baby while you're taking care of your fucking friend like she's a goddamn baby."

Alex slammed the refrigerator.

"It might be hard, Serv. And God, I'll probably be exhausted. But she understands that I'll have to leave her with a sitter a lot, especially in the first few months. Kelley is my first baby, but loving her won't make me love our daughter any less!"

This didn't seem to sway her husband.

"We don't have room for this in our lives, Alex."

She glared at him. 

"will always have room her. She's a sweet baby girl, not a fucking burden! And I'm going to be her Mommy until the day she doesn't want me anymore, not the other way around."

Servando could be angry at her all he wanted, but Alex knew that she would find a way to balance her big baby and her little baby. She had to, because nothing could or would stop her from loving both of them. 

And, as Servando stormed out of the room, Alex couldn't find a single fuck to give. Because Kelley was asleep in the spare bedroom, and she would never leave her alone again.  

 

 

Chapter Text

This was really the best possible note to go out on. Heather felt like she was on cloud nine, wearing her Champions shirt, having closed out her career with serious minutes in a final. She was still pumping her fist in the air, hugging her teammates as they signed autographs and returned to the locker room.

A soft noise in the corner of the tunnel caught her attention. A lone neon green jersey, a silver medal tossed carelessly to the floor. A head, buried in her lap. 

Alyssa, sobbing, all alone. 

"Fuck," she whispered, turning to hear teammates beside her. "Someone go find Becky Sauerbrunn." 

"What?" 

The team hadn't spotted Alyssa yet, at least not most of them, but those who had turned to the ones behind them. 

"She's somewhere in the crowd, someone go get her!" 

Heather was not one to snap, and so the tone of her voice told them that she was serious. Around half of them raced back out of the tunnel- with that many people in the crowd, it would probably take all of them to find Becky, especially if she was hoping to avoid the crowds, who might have converged on her and asked for autographs. 

Heather gestured the rest of the team forwards into the locker room, knowing that it was best to approach the distraught keeper alone. 

"Alyssa?"

The younger woman gave no sign that she had heard her, and the closer Heather got, the louder the sound of her sobs became. 

"Lyssa?"

She squatted down before her, laying a cautious and gentle hand on the keeper's shoulder. Alyssa still didn't react, beyond sniffling wetly. 

"Honey, it's HAO. Can you look at me?"

Quickly, as Alyssa started to lift her head, Heather tucked her medal beneath her shirt. It was probably the last thing that she needed to see right now. When the keeper met Heather's eyes, the orbs were glittering with tears. Her cheeks were red, her lips were trembling, and she looked so incredibly miserable, so incredibly small. 

Yet she still managed a rather impressive glare. 

"G-Go 'way!" 

Heather did rather the opposite, dropping down from her crouch to sit in front of Alyssa on the floor of the tunnel. There was still no sign of any of her teammates returning with Becky, which was becoming more and more troubling as it became clear that Alyssa wasn't quite as old as she usually was. 

"Sorry, sweetheart. I'm not going to leave you here." 

She opened her arms, half expecting Alyssa to shove her away. But suddenly, she found herself with a lapful of sobbing keeper, head buried in her shoulder and tears soaking her Champions shirt. She rocked Alyssa gently, all the while hoping to hear her teammates running back down the tunnel with Becky in tow. 

"Shh, honey," she cooed. "It's okay, you're okay. I've got you."

If Alyssa was trying to speak, her words were unintelligible. Heather didn't think that the younger woman had been trying to say anything in particular, and so she just kept cooing what she hoped were comforting words. 

This wasn't her first time comforting a distraught teammate, or even opponent. Not even her first time doing it for one who was very clearly not exactly big at the moment- she had been around the block a few times, she knew the pressure to perform, and the agony of defeat. 

"Good girl," she praised, as she felt Alyssa's tears begin to slow. "That's it, it's okay." 

"B-Bad," whimpered Alyssa. "D-Didn' do good!"

"No, no."

She squeezed Alyssa tighter, running a hand through her hair. 

"You're so talented, Lyssa. So good."

"W-Wan' Mama!"

"I know, honey. Mama'll be here in just a minute, just hang on, okay?"

Come on, Becky. 

Heather rocked Alyssa back and forth for a few more minutes, shooing away several of the younger players, curious as to why she wasn't joining in the locker room celebration yet. The finally, blessedly, she heard running footsteps behind her and turned to see Becky racing down the tunnel, leaving Sam and Jess in her wake. 

Becky tossed herself to the ground beside Heather and reached out her arms for Alyssa. The little keeper tossed herself into her Mama's arms, sobs renewing as Becky planted a plethora of kisses to her hair. 

"Hi, baby," cooed the defender. "It's okay, Alyssa. It's okay, baby girl. Mommy's here, you're okay. Let it out."

As she petted her baby girl's hair, trying to comfort her, she turned her head to look at Heather, rising to her feet.

"Thank you," she mouthed, and Heather nodded. She gave Alyssa's hand a squeeze, then a light kiss. 

"Of course. She... She was telling me that she doesn't think she did very well, so..."

Becky nodded, bouncing Alyssa gently in her lap. 

"Thank you. Now, go enjoy your celebration. You've certainly earned it." 

Heather smiled, running a finger across the gold medal which was still tucked under her shirt. 

"Thanks, Becks. I'm so proud of you, sweetie," she said to Alyssa. 

The only response she got was a whimper, and she stared sadly back at the keeper as she followed her teammates back into the locker room, where the celebrations were in full swing. It had been a reminder- she got to go out on top, but behind every victory, there was a defeat. 


Becky and Alyssa stayed on the ground until the little one had stopped sobbing, tears turning into little hiccups that the elder would have found adorable if they didn't come from absolute pain and self-blame. 

"There," she cooed. "That's it, baby girl. It's okay, buttercup." 

Alyssa slowly raised her tearstained face up to meet her Mommy's eyes, and Becky bit her lip. 

It was never easy to see her little girl in pain, but it was even worse when there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. There was no way to turn back time, no way to stop Debinha, to stop Jess, or Crystal or Sam. All she could do was try to kiss away the bad thoughts, reassure her keeper that she was talented, that she was loved. That she was enough. 

"There's my sweet girl," she managed. "My amazing little pumpkin." 

Alyssa hiccuped and sniffled again, shaking her head. 

"L-Lost, Mama!"

"I know," Becky said, cradling Alyssa close to her chest. "But it's okay, baby girl. Everybody loses sometimes, and that doesn't make you any less talented. It doesn't make you any less my sweet, amazing, brilliant little girl. It doesn't make Mommy any less proud of you. And remember, baby," she continued. "Mommy isn't the only one who's proud of you, no matter what. Do you want to go back to Mommy's hotel?"

Alyssa nodded, letting Becky help her to her feet. The older woman scooped the silver medal up from the ground. It may not have been the color Alyssa wanted, but it was still something to be proud of. 

And when, a week later, Heather received a card in the mail, written in green crayon with a shaky hand, they all knew that it was so much bigger than winning and losing.

 

 

Chapter Text

"Stop! Sam, stop!" 

Sam didn't listen, kicking violently at the wall of the hotel room. She grabbed the pillows off the bed, throwing them every which way in an unabated fury, not caring where they landed. 

Nikki knocked one away from hitting the lamp, trying to control the damage of her girlfriend's rage. 

"Sam!"

The Australian didn't seem to hear her, letting out a furious yell and slamming her toe into the chest of drawers. 

"Fuck!" 

She screamed in pain, but the sensation did nothing to calm her fury. 

"SAM!" 

The Australian paused, breathing heavily, searching around the room for more things to destroy. Nikki's voice had broken through, at least slightly, to her girlfriend. The American ran forward, grabbed Sam's shoulders before she decided to resume her destruction of the hotel room. 

"Baby," she said, eyes wide and frightened- not of her girlfriend, but for her. For whatever thoughts could be running through her brain, whatever moment in the game she kept reliving.

Nikki and Sam had been together for a long time, and the only other time she had seen her girlfriend like this was when Sam had missed the penalty kick, and Australia had lost to Norway. 

"Sam, what... what the fuck?"

Sam let out a furious noise. 

"Fuck this! God, Nikki, what the fuck? Why the hell did everything have to go wrong?! Why did Tierna have to get fucking hurt, why couldn't Sarah fucking shut down Debinha, why couldn't Savannah just give me one decent cross, why-" 

Her voice broke.

"Why couldn't... Why couldn't I just f-finish?"

The tears that had been brewing in her eyes ever since the final whistle sounded finally spilled over, and she collapsed into Nikki's arms. 

"Ma," she sobbed. "'M s-sorry-y-y!" 

Nikki sat down on the bed and pulled Sam into her lap, cradling the distraught Australian against her chest. 

"Oh, baby girl," she cooed. "It's okay, Mummy's here. Mummy loves you so much, it's okay to cry. I've got you."

Sam wailed in misery, trying to snuggle closer to Nikki's chest. The American stroked her hair, rocking her back and forth gently. 

"M-Mumm-mmmy-yy," cried Sam, choking on her tears, tears of fury and guilt and disappointment, and too many complicated, bad feelings which were too much for a little girl's brain to handle.

Nikki hummed softly to her, waiting for her tears to taper off. Once they faded into sniffles and hiccups, Nikki kissed her gently on the forehead. 

"There you go, dingo. That's a good girl."

She didn't need to ask what was wrong. They didn't really even need to talk about it, not while Sam was little. 

"Mumm-mmy," hiccuped Sam. "Sammy s-sorry."

The comforter on the bed was one of the few things which hadn't faced Sam's rage, and so Nikki pulled it around them, running a gentle hand across her cheek, wiping away the tears that hadn't quite dried. 

"I know, baby girl. Mummy's sorry too, sweetie. I know how badly you wanted to win, and Mummy is so sorry that we didn't. But it wasn't your fault, sweet princess. It's not anybody's fault. Not Tierna's, not Sarah's, not Savannah's, not mine, and definitely not yours." 

Sam whimpered, gripping onto a tendril of Nikki's hair and curling it absently around her finger. The thumb of her other hand drifted to her mouth.

"You're my sweet baby girl," cooed Nikki. "And you are so precious. Not because of the goals you score, but because you're you. You're Mommy's precious one, my goofy, crazy little dingo. I love you so much, Samantha May. So, how about we clean this room up, and then we can have cuddle time." 

Sam nodded as Nikki urged her gently off of her lap. 

"You can pick up the pillows, and Mommy will pick up everything else."

Sam obeyed quickly, and soon the room was back in order, with barely any sign of the striker's tantrum remaining. Nikki changed Sam into her pajamas, helped her make sure that her teeth were all brushed, and then joined her under the covers. 

Sam quickly snuggled into her chest, thumb returning to her mouth and eyes already fluttering. With the frankly incredible amount of energy that Sam had expended today, first on the field, then by nearly trashing the hotel room, and finally by sobbing for at least ten minutes in her Mommy's arms, Nikki was surprised that she wasn't already asleep. 

But Sam was nothing if not stubborn. 

"Mummy sing?" 

The little one's voice was so weak and sleepy that Nikki knew she wouldn't last more than one verse of whatever she sang, but she couldn't really say no to Sam when she asked so sweetly. 

"What do you want to hear, love?" 

"Horsies, Mummy?"

Nikki smiled- she should have guessed. That was always the first song Sam requested. Her little creature of habit... 

"Okay, pumpkin."

Nikki's voice wasn't the best, but if her little one wanted a lullaby, then who was she to say no?

"Hush-a-bye, don't you cry

Go to sleep my little baby

When you wake, you shall see

Coach and six-a-little horses

Blacks and bays, dapples and grays

All the pretty little horses"

Sure enough, Sam was asleep before Nikki even finished singing about the different types of horses. The American stayed awake for a few minutes longer, brushing the hair out of Sam's eyes and kissing her gently on the forehead. 

"Mummy loves you, dingo. No matter what." 

Chapter Text

Sleeping in Ali's childhood bedroom had stopped being weird after the first few times. The bed was small, and so Debbie and Ken had always put an air mattress inside the room for Ashlyn, if she wanted it. 

She never did. 

It was a squeeze, to fit on the bed, but it was worth it, to hold Ali while she slept. Especially today. 

"Mommy," whispered Ali, nuzzling Ashlyn's neck with her forehead. The little girl had only just finished sobbing in Ashlyn's arms, a combination of stress, worry and sadness finally getting the better of her. 

"Hey, angel," said Ashlyn, rubbing Ali's back. "How are you feeling?"

Ali sniffled, and Ashlyn sat up in the bed, pulling the older woman onto her lap. She kept the fluffy blankets wrapped around them, rocking Ali gently. Really, she wasn't surprised that her fiancee had regressed- it was a horrible, stressful situation that they were in, and Ali had needed to be so strong, for the rest of her family. 

"Aww, baby," cooed Ashlyn. "Are you my sweet, worried baby girl?"

Ali nodded shyly.

"Mommy," she asked. "Is Dad g-gonna be okay?"

Ashlyn pressed a kiss to the top of Ali's head, and her little girl wiped the excess tears in her eyes off on Ashlyn's shirt. This was the question that Ashlyn had been hoping to avoid answering. Because, really, there was no way to know. But the keeper was glad that Ali had regressed today, rather than a few days earlier when the question might have had a very different answer.

"It looks like it, angel! He's a strong guy."

Ali nodded apprehensively. 

"He is."

Ashlyn kissed Ali's forehead.

"Just like his daughter. My baby," she sighed adoringly as Ali blushed pink.

"Now, lovey," she continued. "Do you want Mommy to go get you a snack? You can eat it while we watch a movie, or just snuggle a little bit, okay?"

Ali nodded, crawling off her lap to allow Ashlyn to leave her room and go towards the kitchen. The little girl watched her go, pulling one of her stuffed animals into her arms to snuggle until Mommy came back. Ashlyn vowed to hurry, so that she wasn't leaving her little Kriegy alone for any longer than she had to. 

Debbie had told her to help herself to whatever was in the kitchen, as always. So, Ashlyn pulled open the refrigerator and dug through the fruit drawer. She was hoping to find some raspberries or even black raspberries, something sweet and special for her sweet, special little girl. Unfortunately, there were none to be found, and Ashlyn made a mental note to go and buy some- actually, to go buy groceries in general. 

But, for now, she settled for a shiny apple, washing it under the faucet and then beginning to cut it up into slices. 

While her fiancee would eat them happily, her little girl hated apple skins. So, putting them in a bowl, she started to peel the skin off of each individual slice. 

"Hey, Ash," came a voice from behind her, and she turned around to see a thoroughly exhausted looking Kyle. However, he still seemed to have the energy to notice the unusual way that she was preparing the snack. 

"Why... Why are you cutting the skin off your apple?"

Ashlyn wracked her brain, trying to think up an excuse. She wasn't used to having to hide Ali's little side- if a teammate had asked her why she was cutting the skin off her apple, all she would have needed to say was 'Ali's little today,' and they would have understood. 

But that might not be the right approach for her family members, especially in such a stressful time as this. 

"I... I guess I've just been spending too much time with Syd and Dom and the kids," she said quickly. "Cassius hates skin on his apples." 

Kyle nodded, seeming to accept the excuse. Ashlyn added a few slices of cheese, and then made to return to her little girl. 

"God," said Kyle. "I'd love to see how hard Ali laughs at that." 

Then, he went to the refrigerator to make his own snack, and Ashlyn smiled to herself. 

"Hey, bug," she said happily as she shut the door to Ali's room behind her. "I got you some apples and cheese."

"Thank you, Mommy," she said softly, accepting the bowl of apples and cheese from Ashlyn. She tucked the stuffed dog into the crook of her elbow and popped an apple slice into her mouth. 

"You're very welcome, baby girl. Now, do you want to watch a princess movie, or do you want to just snuggle with Mommy and Logan Junior while you eat your snack?" 

"Read book, Mommy?" 

Ashlyn wasn't the biggest fan of reading on her own, but she absolutely adored reading to Ali. She loved seeing her little girl's reactions as she did funny voices, and her claps at happy endings she'd heard time and time again. 

"Okay, bug! What books do we have here?"

Ali directed Ashlyn to a box beneath her bed, containing relics of her childhood. Ashlyn opened pulled them out one by one, and Ali shook her head, popping more apple slices in her mouths. Until a book of Disney fairytales emerged. 

Ali clapped, pointing to it.

"Beauty 'n Bee, Mommy!" 

Ashlyn rejoined Ali on the bed, kissing her on the hair. 

"Okay," she said, pulling Ali into her lap and stealing a piece of cheese. "Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away-"

"France," interrupted Ali. "'S in France."

Ashlyn grinned, giving her another kiss. 

"You're right, baby. It's in France, and you're my smart little girl." 

Ali laughed at her fiancee's ridiculous French accent for Lumiere, and her growl for the Beast, and her deep voice for Gaston. 

As Ali snacked, and Ashlyn read, and Logan Junior rested in Ali's arms like only a stuffed puppy could do, Kyle couldn't help but peek through the crack in the door of his sister's bedroom. 

Ali seemed... at peace, to him. She had been putting on such a brave front, being so strong for everyone else throughout this whole nightmare, and he was glad that she had someone like Ashlyn to take care of her, in any way she needed. 

"And then, Belle came down the staircase..." 

 

Chapter Text

Dinner with the littles was always an... experience, to say the least. From coaxing vegetables into their mouths and confiscating cookies to reminding them that they needed to use their utensils and not their hands, even one little could make a team dinner quite... interesting. 

Tonight, though, something seemed off. 

"Morgan, baby, eat your broccoli."

Morgan shook her head, crossing her arms across her chest and glaring at the offending vegetable.

"No." 

Lauren rubbed her temple, trying to think of other ways to ask her little girl to eat her food, so that they didn't end up sitting at this dinner table all night. 

Unfortunately, Christen took that moment to kiss Mal on the forehead.

"Thank you for eating all of your vegetables, sweetheart."

Mal nuzzled into her Mommy's shoulder, oblivious to the furious glare coming from across the table. 

"Morgan, please," said Lauren. "I need you to eat your broccoli."

Morgan's glare only deepened.

"Dumb," she whispered under her breath as Lauren turned to talk to Ali. "Don' wan' stupid vegetables. Bet stupid baby didn' even eat 'dem." 

"Did," said Mal, lower lip sticking out. Christen had heard the statement, and reached across the table to get Lauren's attention. Morgan's Mommy ended her conversation with Ali just in time to hear Morgan's next comment. 

"Dumb baby don' even know what veggies is. Why do' anyone like dumb, bad babies?" 

"Morgan Paige!" 

The table went silent as Lauren looked at Mal in disbelief. She was beyond shocked- this wasn't like her normally sweet little girl. The shock turned quickly into anger as she processed the comment, especially as Mal sniffled, collapsing into Christen's arms and bursting into tears. 

"Shh, baby," cooed Christen, kissing her little one's head, then looking at Morgan in disappointment. "It's okay, let's go upstairs. We can watch a movie and you can snuggle with me and Mama, okay?"

Without waiting for Mal's response, Christen scooped the younger striker into her arms, rocking her gently as she carried her towards hers and Tobin's room. 

When Lauren spoke again, her voice was deadly calm as she stared at Morgan.

"We are also going upstairs. Now."

Leaving the broccoli on the plate, Lauren turned and walked towards the room, Morgan following in her wake with her eyes downcast. When the door shut behind them, Lauren had to clench her fists in an attempt to quell the boiling anger. 

"Momm-"

Lauren didn't even let her finish the word. 

"Morgan Paige," she growled. "I can't even look at you right now. In what world was what just happened okay?" 

Morgan sniffled, not quite knowing what to do with herself. She had been so mad, but... But now, Mommy was really really mad at her.

Lauren wasn't done.

"If I hadn't promised myself that I would absolutely never lay a hand on you, you would be getting a spanking right now. Just... Just sit on the bed and think about what you said, while I go and talk to Christen and Tobin, and make sure that Mal is okay. When I get back, we'll talk about what your punishment is going to be." 

Then, the door shut behind her, leaving Morgan alone on the bed. 

The little girl whimpered, grabbing her stuffed unicorn and burying her face in its fur as the tears began to fall. 

Before long, she was sobbing. She wanted Mommy. She really, really wanted Mommy, even though Mommy was very very mad at her. Because Mommy was always there when she was sad, always there to let Morgan bury her head in her shoulder. 

But Morgan had been so bad, so, so bad, and now Mommy had to be somewhere else, comforting another little baby who was also crying, all because of Morgan. 

In her rational mind, the mind not clouded with tears, she knew that Mommy had said they would discuss her punishment- and that meant that Mommy had to come back. But she was crying so hard, rocking her unicorn the way she wanted to be rocked and comforted, that it was so so hard to remember. 

"M-Momm-mmm-myyy," she sobbed. But no, she was the bad baby, and Mal was the good baby, and so of course Mommy was with Mal, making sure that the bad baby hadn't hurt the good baby.

She had cried herself almost into a stupor, to the point where the fuzz on her unicorn was soaked, when Lauren finally returned.

The older woman was still absolutely furious at Morgan, beyond a doubt- seeing Mal, sobbing in Tobin's arms while Christen made her a nice, warm bottle, had been hard enough. The fact that it was her little one who had done it, who had made her close friend's baby girl cry, made it infinitely worse. 

"I'm so, so sorry, honey," she said to Mal, stroking the little girl's hair. "And Morgan is sorry too, and I promise that she'll apologize to you. To all three of you," she said, turning to Tobin and Christen. 

The couple smiled at her in forgiveness, before turning back to comforting their little girl. 

Now, she had to deal with her own. 

When she returned to the room, Morgan was still sobbing softly, her unicorn wrapped in her arms. She looked so... so small, so vulnerable. Her Mommy instincts were screaming at her to wrap Morgan up into her arms and comfort her the way Christen and Tobin were comforting Mal. But she couldn't- she had to deal with the situation first, and then she could comfort her baby girl.

"Morgan Paige," she said. "Look at me."

Morgan looked at her with wide, red eyes. Her lip was still trembling, and her grip on the unicorn stuffie was tight- she was keeping the toy close, just in case she needed to snuggle something while her Mommy yelled at her.

"What... What on earth were you thinking? Why in the world would you say something so... so mean to Mal?"

Morgan hiccuped as she tried to answer.

"'M s-s-sorry, Mommy!" 

"I know, baby girl. I just need to know why, because you're normally my sweet, kind, loving little angel. It's just not like you." 

Morgan's shoulders collapsed, and she rubbed the damp stuffed animal against her cheek. 

"J-Just... Jus' didn'... Mommy wants a good baby, who eats b-b-broccoli!"

She broke down into a fresh round of tears, and this time Lauren did rush forward and gather the baby into her arms. Morgan collapsed against her chest, shaking with emotion, letting herself be rocked back and forth. 

"Oh, honey," Lauren comforted her. "Honey, is that what this is about? Mommy loves you, Moe Moe, so much. I don't want any other baby, just you. Just my little Morgan, tummy full of broccoli or not."

Morgan just cried, beyond relieved to be in her Mommy's arms. 

"Atta girl," cooed Lauren, patting Morgan's back through the last of her sobs. 

"Now," she said, once Morgan was relatively calm, leaning against her shoulder and pulling at her unicorn's horn. 

"First things first, I'm going to need you to apologize to Mal and her Mommies. You really, really hurt her feelings, and it made her Mommies sad too."

Morgan nodded.

"Mmkay," she said. "C'n we 'pologize now? 'M real sorry and I don' wan' Mal t'hate me."

Lauren shook her head. 

"Not tonight, bean. I think Mal's asleep right now, but we can apologize in the morning. Okay?"

Morgan nodded. 

"'Kay, Mommy."

Lauren had thought about how she was going to punish Morgan ever since the incident had happened. She had been considering taking away her unicorn, but when she had returned to the room and seen how Morgan was cradling it, as if it were her only comfort in the world... 

Nope. She couldn't do that. 

"Sweetie," she said. "I'm taking away your TV time for the next two weeks, and absolutely no dessert either."

Morgan nodded in cooperation. She was gonna miss her cookies- the few that the trainers allowed them to eat- but if this was what it took to get Mommy to forgive her, it was so, so worth it.

"Good girl," Lauren cooed. "That's my sweet, precious baby girl. Mommy loves you so, so much."

Morgan gave Lauren a wet kiss on the cheek. 

"Love Mommy," she said. "Lots 'n lots."

Lauren smiled, returning the kiss.

"No matter what, Mommy will always love you." 

Chapter Text

It had been a big year for Megan Rapinoe. Most of it had been good, really, and she didn't regret anything.

But, the bad things still sometimes crept into her brain. Like how much some people hated her, and how much they attacked her online, and attacked Sue and her friends for defending her. She didn't know why it was bothering her today- normally, whenever she saw a mean tweet or comment, she would just smile to herself and let it roll right off of her like water down a windshield on a rainy day. 

Something was wrong today, though. She had woken up, and it had all hit her at once, soaking in like a sponge on that same rainy day. 

It was Sue's turn to make the coffee, and so Megan was alone in their bed. She couldn't stop herself from breathing heavily, reaching for one of their extra pillows and pulling it close to her chest. She buried her face into the pillowcase, and was astounded by how... how soft it was. 

She whimpered, rubbing it against her cheek like... like a small child. 

"No," she whispered into the pillow. "Nuh uh."

The sound of her own voice was shocking. Instead of her normal adult voice, the tone that came from her mouth was decidedly whiny, shaky, small. 

Her brain was fuzzy, and she felt tears spring to her eyes. She wanted Sue back in the bed with her now, but at the same time, she didn't want her girlfriend to see her like this. So, keeping the pillow in her arms, she jumped out of the bed and toddled as quickly as she could over to their on-suite bathroom. She shut the door behind her, but her hands were too busy holding onto the fluffy comfort object to lock it. 

"No cry," she tried to tell herself. "No' baby." 

The words were unconvincing, even to herself. If she had heard someone else say those words, in that voice, she would have looked down at them with her eyebrow raised before giving them a big hug, and asking them if they were absolutely sure. 

"No b-babyy," she tried again, once again failing to convince herself. This last effort was too much, and she buried her face back in the pillow as she burst into tears.


When Sue returned to their room, two cups of coffee balanced in her hands, it was to find a surprisingly Megan-less bed. The covers were askew, and one of the pillows was missing. 

"Megan?"

She got no answer, and so she took a sip of coffee and set Megan's mug on the bedside table. She could see that the bathroom door was shut, and so she slid back underneath the covers to wait for her girlfriend. 

Then, five minutes passed, and still no Megan. Her ears perked up at the sound of small whimpers coming from the bathroom, and so she pulled back the covers and made her way towards the side room. She knocked lightly on the door, but got no response, so she tried the handle and found the door unlocked. Pushing it open, it took her a minute to spot her girlfriend.

Megan was curled around a pillow, crying softly to herself. The hand that wasn't holding the pillow was hovering near her mouth. She was sitting beneath the sink, and Sue sank down to her knees, reaching out a hand to her girlfriend and brushing her hair back. 

"Megan? Honey, what's wrong?" 

Megan shook her head, retreating away from Sue. The one cheek that the basketball player could see was flushing red, and Megan cried louder. 

"Babe," Sue said. "You're... you're kind of scaring me. I can go away if you want me to, but... I want to help, okay?" 

Megan pulled her head out from the pillow, and Sue took in the sight of her girlfriend's wide, teary, frightened eyes and red face. 

"I... I 'fink 'm..."

She burst into a fresh round of tears, and Sue tried to wrap her head around how absolutely tiny her girlfriend both looked and sounded. 

"You think you're what, honey?" 

Megan tossed herself forward into Sue's arms, burying her face into the other woman's chest. She just cried as Sue wrapped her arms around her, using one hand to stroke her back, whispering that it was all going to be okay. 

"It's alright, Megan. It's okay, it's okay." 

"Noooooooo," moaned her girlfriend miserably into her shirt. "D-don' wanna!" 

Sue pulled Megan closer, rocking her gently back and forth gently. 

"What don't you wanna do, sweetheart?" 

Megan seemed to be struggling with herself, trying to figure out whether or not she wanted to tell Sue what was really wrong, or just continue sobbing until she couldn't anymore and then go on pretending that everything was normal. 

Her girlfriend made the choice for her, with just a simple sentence. 

"I'm here for you, baby."

"M-M-Mama," wailed Megan, fresh tears soaking Sue's shirt. "Don' wan' b-be smallllll!" 

Sue's back protested as she lifted Megan up into her arms and carried her back to the bed, wrapping them both back up in the covers. She held her girlfriend close while she finished crying, waiting for the flow of tears to trickle off before talking to Megan about what was going on. 

It took a few minutes, Sue stroking her hair the entire time, before Megan looked like she could speak again. 

"Hey, Megan," said Sue, kissing her girlfriend's forehead. "Are you still small?" 

Megan nodded shyly, and Sue squeezed her hand reassuringly. 

"That's okay, honey. Do you want to tell me why you don't want to be small?"

Megan nodded again, speaking quietly. 

"'S 'barrassing. Should be big girl, no little girl." 

Sue had to stop herself from cooing in adoration. It was clear that Megan was nervous about how she was going to react, and she really shouldn't have found that as adorable as she did. 

"Oh, baby," she said. "It's okay. If you need to be little, then you can be little, and I can be your Mommy. If you want me too," she added quickly. 

Megan's eyes widened. 

"R-Really? You wanna be Mama?"

Sue nodded, stroking Megan's cheek softly. 

"I would be so happy if you would let me take care of you, Megan."

The little girl's face lit up in happiness, and she gave Sue a huge, sloppy kiss on the cheek.  Sue returned the gesture, relishing Megan's grin and pulling her close against her side. She took another sip of coffee as her girlfriend snuggled against her shoulder.

She had certainly not been expecting her morning to go like this, but she definitely wasn't complaining. She had seen Ashlyn little before, and had seen Ali taking care of her, and she had secretly wondered what it would be like to be able to care for Megan like that, to be responsible for the safety and happiness of her girlfriend in a moment of vulnerability. She guessed she was going to find out. 

Chapter Text

"I promise," said Lucy. "It'll be fine." 

Kristie gave a heavy sigh on the other side of the phone, and then yawned. 

"Seriously," continued Lucy. "There's a whole bunch of us, we can take care of one little girl." 

"Okay," said the American. "Just... If anything does go wrong, please call me. Seriously. I don't give a fuck if you wake me up, she's more important." 

Lucy nodded, casting her gaze over towards Rachel, who was sitting in Karen's lap and playing idly with a strand of her own hair. She was humming quietly to herself, and Steph, Karen and Kiera were smiling adoringly at her. 

"I will," she said. "Don't worry about it, we've got her." 

Kristie thanked her again, and hung up the phone to go back to sleep. Lucy walked back over to the small group of women sitting on the locker room floor. 

"Okay," she said. "Honey, I just got off the phone with your Mummy. She says that she loves you very much, and she told us a little bit about how to take care of you. So, you get to spend today with your Aunties! Does that sound like fun?"

Rachel nodded shyly, and Steph smiled down at her, picking her up out of Karen's lap and carrying her towards the field, where Phil and the rest of the team was waiting for them. Rachel buried her head into Steph's shoulder as they joined their teammates, all of whom let smiles burst onto their face at the sight of the adorable little girl. 

"Someone's going to have to sit with her," said Lucy to Phil. "We can take turns." 

The coach rubbed his temple, not exactly thrilled to lose not one, but two members of the squad for this practice. But, there was nothing to be done about it, if the determined looks on the women's faces and Rachel's quiet nuzzles into Steph's neck was any indication. 

"Alright," he said. "Everyone except Rachel and Steph, onto the field!"

Lucy, Kiera and Karen waved to little Rachel as Steph sat her down on the sidelines. She went down onto her stomach, running her fingers through the turf, seemingly fascinated by the plastic surface. 

"So," said Steph. "What's your favorite thing to do when you're little?"

Rachel shrugged, twirling a curl of hair around her finger. 

"Dunno. Mummy usually reads me books 'n stuff." 

Steph swore inside her head. She should have thought of this- they had absolutely nothing to do with a baby while practice was going on. So, she joined Rachel on her stomach on the turf, asking the little girl to point out whatever little things that she saw. Rachel obliged, plucking up some of the little blades of artificial grass and asking quietly what they were. Steph didn't really know, but she did her best to explain until Lucy jogged over to take her turn. 

"Hey there, pumpkin," the defender said. Steph hopped up and joined the rest of the team on the field, and Rachel gave her a little wave as she went. 

Lucy had brought a ball with her, and she pulled Rachel to her feet. They kicked it back and forth, Rachel giggling happily as she tried to get it past Lucy. She lost some of her coordination when she was little, but Lucy still gasped in mock horror as she let the little girl roll the object past her. 

Rachel cackled like a little demon as Lucy chased after the ball, then received it perfectly against her foot when the other woman passed it back to her. 

"Good job, kiddo," Lucy praised, picking Rachel up and spinning her around. 

Kiera, Karen and Millie all took turns watching Rachel before Phil called for the team to take a break. Rachel was sucking on her thumb, and had done everything from playing chase with Karen to munching on a cookie that Millie had sneaked into her bag as a snack for herself later- the little one was just too adorable to resist. 

"Okay," said Steph, turning to the members of the team who weren't surrounding the adorable little Rachel. "There's a convenience store just a few minutes drive from here. Does someone want to go and grab some snacks or something for Rachel?" 

Georgia grinned conspiratorially. 

"Actually," she said. "I think I can do you one better. If Phil asks, I ran to the convenience store, but I keep a stash of snacks on the bus, and Rachel is just too cute not to give them to."

She ran off to go get them as Jade, Nikita and Demi clapped at the cute little pigtails that Fran had put into Rachel's hair. 

"Okay, ladies," said Phil, gesturing the team back onto the field. "Time to go!"

Georgia took her turn with Rachel next, and the little one's face lit up with excitement and happiness at the sight of candy. 

"T'ank you, Gigi!" 

As Rachel popped the Snickers bar into her mouth, Georgia cooed in adoration at the nickname she had been granted. She was tempted to brag to her teammates that Rachel must like her the best.

"You're very welcome, cutie pie!" 

Rachel grabbed another piece of candy, popping it into her mouth. Then another. Vaguely, Georgia wondered if she should cut her off, but then her turn was over and Leah was sitting down beside her. She ate another chocolate bar, and her smile was growing wider and wider. Finally, after a few more pieces of candy, she hopped to her feet and chased after Leah, both of them giggling. 

They ran a circle around the field, Rachel giggling like mad as she chased the other woman around. The women on the field couldn't help but smile at them, even Carly, allowing Ellen to bury her shot in the back of the net. When they reached the spot that they had vacated at the beginning of the game of chase, Rachel plopped back down at reached for the bag of candy again.

However, there was someone else there, picking up the bag of candy. 

"Okay," said Beth. "That's enough candy."

"Oh, c'mon," said Jade, jogging over. "Just let the baby eat some candy!" 

Phil rolled his eyes, trying in vain to keep the other team members from following her over. Ignoring practice, playing with the baby instead of drinking water, Georgia trying to sneak back in with fucking candy... He had no idea why he was even trying anymore.

"No," said Beth. "Absolutely not. She's already had plenty of candy."

Rachel's lower lip stuck out and she made grabby hands towards the bag. Beth handed the bag to Phil, the one person who could be counted on not to cave in and let the adorable little girl have more candy, and then took Rachel's hands in her own.

"Little one," she said. "If I was going to guess, I would say that you need a nap."

"Noooooo," whined Rachel. "Not tired!" 

Beth raised her eyebrows. 

"Really? I am not convinced." 

"Oh, come on, Beth," said Millie. "She doesn't look tired to me. Just let the baby have some more candy!" 

Beth shook her head. 

"I don't think so. Unless one of you wants to call Kristie and explain why her baby had a sugar crash. Speaking of sugar crashes," she turned back to Rachel, who had plopped down to a seated position on the turf. "Come on, we're going to put you down for a nap."

Rachel didn't protest this time, letting Beth pick her up and leaning her head on the forward's shoulder with a yawn. 

"Aww," Beth cooed. "I thought you were a tired little girl." 

When Beth came back from putting Rachel down for a nap- in Phil's office, unbeknownst to the coach- the rest of the team was waiting for her. 

"So," said Georgia. "How... What was that? She didn't... She didn't look that tired to me."

As Phil gestured them back onto the field to continue practice, Beth gave a smile and a shrug. 

"It's not my first rodeo. If Daan has too much candy, she goes nuts for a little while, and then if I don't put her down for a nap right away, she'll turn into a cranky little brat." 

The rest of the women shook their heads in exasperation as they passed the ball back and forth. 

Chapter Text

A big, loud noise was what made Mal jerk awake. At first, she thought that it was just a part of her dream, but then the scary booming came again. She shrieked, grabbing for her fluffy blankie and pulling it over her head. She clutched her stuffie to her chest, whimpering in fear. Another big noise shook her crib, and she burst into frightened tears. 

"M-Mamaaaaaa," she sobbed, rocking back and forth in the dark. "M-M-Mommm-mmmyy!" 

Her door swung open and the light flicked on, illuminating Mama, wearing her big T-Shirt with her hair up in a messy bun. Mama raced towards the crib, and Mal reached her arms up for her, and immediately felt herself being lifted up, blankie and all. She snuggled into Mama's shoulder as Tobin carried her back to her and Mommy's room. 

Christen was sitting up in bed, and Tobin deposited her on the blankets, sliding in next to her. Mal snuggled underneath the covers, and buried her teary face in Mommy's side as the loud boom came again.

"Oh, pumpkin," said Christen sleepily, rubbing her eyes. "Did the thunder scare you?"

Mal nodded, and Tobin rubbed her back. 

"It's okay," she said. "It's okay, honey. Thunder's just a loud noise, it's not gonna hurt you." 

"B-B-But-"

She didn't finish her sentence before there was another boom of thunder, and Mama and Mommy were both holding her, rocking her between them. 

"Shh, tiny girl," cooed Mommy. "It's okay, we're right here. We won't let anything happen to you." 

Christen had her hair in two messy braids to sleep, and Mal tugged nervously at one of them, twirling Mommy's hair around her fingers. Mama kissed Mal's forehead, stroking her gently, trying to soothe her back to sleep.

The storm was starting to die down outside, and the big booms of thunder were now only quiet rumbles in the distance- not that scary, especially when Mal was snuggled between Mommy and Mama, both of them whispering soft, sweet words to her as she fell back to sleep. 

"Goodnight, baby girl. Mommy and Mama are here, and we love you so much." 


The next night, after Mommy had changed her diaper for bedtime, gotten her all cozy in a onesie, and was about to lower her down into her crib, Mal whimpered. She wrapped her arms tightly around Mommy's neck, rubbing her face against the older woman's cheek, and Christen turned to give her a kiss.

"Come on, sweetheart," she said. "You've gotta let go, so Mommy can get you nice and cozy in your crib." 

Mal shook her head, staring down at the crib.

"B-But, what 'f booms?"

"Aww," cooed Christen, sitting down in the rocking chair with Mal in her lap. "Pumpkin, don't worry. There isn't going to be a storm tonight." 

Mal was not convinced, snuggling closer to Christen. 

"B-B-B... C'n baby s'eep wit' Mommy 'n Mama?" 

Christen knew she shouldn't say yes. Sleeping in the big bed with Mommy and Mama was something that they only usually let Mal do when she was either sick or had just had a nightmare. They had given her her own room for a reason, but as her little girl stared up at her with pleading doe eyes, she couldn't bring herself to refuse.

"Oh, alright, pumpkin," she said, standing up with Mal wrapped in her arms. "Just for tonight."

Mal kissed Christen on the cheek, whispering her thanks.

When Christen carried Mal into the big bedroom, Tobin looked up from her book, a grin spreading across her face. Mal reached her arms down for her, and Christen handed the baby down to her wife so that she could go get herself ready for bed. 

"Hi baby girl! Are you going to be Mama's cuddle buddy tonight?" 

Mal snuggled into Tobin's chest, letting Mama pull the covers up and over her. She was sucking gently on her pacifier, eyes already beginning to drift shut. Mama was just so cozy, and she was so happy that she got to sleep all sandwiched in between Mommy and Mama. Sure, the bed would be a little cramped, but little baby Mal didn't really take up that much space. 

Mal fell asleep as soon as Christen returned to the room, and the two kissed chastely on the lips above their little girl, nursing on her pacifier in the midst of sweet dreams.


 The next night, Mal swore that there was a monster under her crib. 

Even though Tobin checked, and swore that there was no monster, Mal had absolutely refused to let her Mama put her down.

Tobin had decided not to push it- Mal was absolutely too adorable, and the baby really was very snuggly, even if the bed was a bit crowded.

Christen raised her eyebrows, but didn't protest at the newest resident of the big bed.


When Tobin came into the room the following night, carrying a giggling Mal in her arms, Christen decided to put her foot down.

Standing up, she gestured for her wife to hand her the baby, and looked the little girl in the eyes.

"You need to sleep in your crib tonight, bunny." 

Mal whimpered, shaking her head in protest.

"Nuh!"

"Yes." 

She carried Mal towards the door, heart hurting at the tears streaming from her little girl's eyes, and because she wanted to snuggle with her little girl all the time. But the bed was really not made for three people, and she had been woken up the past two nights by sharp little elbows poking her, and an astonishing lack of blankets. Besides, she and Tobin were still adults, and they wanted to have adult time, which wasn't possible if they had a baby sleeping in between them. 

Mal was fully sobbing by the time Christen deposited her in her crib, and she kicked off the covers in despair. She reached out her arms for Christen, hoping to be picked back up. The older striker gave her a kiss on the forehead, then flicked off the light. 

"Goodnight, sweet baby. Mommy and Mama love you."

She rejoined Tobin in their room, and found that the midfielder was staring intently at the baby monitor instead of her book. Christen kissed her wife's neck, then her cheek.

"Hey, babe."

"She's crying, Chris," said Tobin, and the striker took her wife's hand. 

"I can hear that, Tobs. But she's a baby, and she has to sleep in her crib. She can't sleep with us every night." 

Tobin's lower lip stuck out in a pout, almost like Mal's. 

"Why not?"

Christen rolled her eyes.

"Do you ever want to have sex again?"

Tobin nodded in acknowledgement of Christen's point, and turned off their light. The only sound in the room as the two women tried to fall asleep was the upset screams coming through the baby monitor.

"Don' worry," said Christen into her pillow. "She'll stop soon."


Mal did not stop crying. Her sobs faded into whimpers, but it was obvious that she was still awake and crying.

Somehow, Christen had managed to fall asleep. But, Tobin just couldn't. The sound of her baby girl, so miserable on the other end of the radio, was just too much. Even though she knew that Christen was right, that Mal really did need to sleep without them, she couldn't stop herself from rolling out of bed and tiptoeing down the hallway to her tiny girl.


When Christen woke up, it was to find a surprisingly Tobin-less bed. Her wife never woke up before her. 

There was no noise coming through the baby monitor, and so she assumed that either Mal was still asleep, or that the baby had woken up and started crying for breakfast and a diaper change and Tobin had heard her before Christen did. 

So, stretching, Christen slid on her slippers and went downstairs to make coffee. As she walked down the hallway, she did a double take.

Mal's door was open, and her baby girl was indeed sleeping peacefully in her crib, a line of drool coming from the corner of her mouth, since her paci had come out during the night. One of her hands was dangling out through the bars of the crib, and it was gripping another hand.

Tobin was lying on the floor next to Mal's crib, asleep, clutching onto the baby's hand. The creak of Christen's feet on the floorboards made her stir, and her eyes fluttered open to meet her wife's.

"Pushover," said Christen, rolling her eyes fondly. "I'll make the coffee."

Tobin smiled, rubbing a thumb over the back of Mal's hand. Her little one made a small noise, sleeping peacefully with Mama's hand in hers. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Okay," said Christen, as Lindsey followed after her. "So, make sure she's in bed by 8. If she doesn't want to go to sleep, then you can give her a bottle in the rocking chair, and she'll probably pass right out. Make sure you remember to get her in a diaper, and that she has her pacifier. She's a very sweet baby, and she shouldn't be any trouble. We'll have our cell phones on, so call us if you need anything, and help yourself to anything in the fridge."

Tobin was holding the baby against her chest, and she gave Mal one last cuddle and kiss on the forehead before passing her off to Lindsey. Mal tried to cling on to Tobin, whimpering, but didn't start crying or protesting. Christen kissed her as well, and then they were out the door, on their way to a calm, romantic dinner, leaving their baby girl with her friend.

The second the door shut behind her Mommies, Mal was struggling against Lindsey's chest, kicking her legs to be put down.

"Okay," said Lindsey, putting Mal down gently on the couch. "What do you want for dinner, kiddo?" 

Mal shook her head, eyebrows furrowing down into a glare. She crossed her arms, and Lindsey asked the question again.

"No," she pouted. "Don' wan' dinner." 

Well, at least not any dinner that wasn't made by Mommy and Mama. 

"Sweetie," said Lindsey, sitting down on the couch beside her. "You need to eat dinner. What can I make you?" 

The older woman jumped back as Mal let out a furious scream, tossing one of her stuffies across the room. 

"No!"

Lindsey rubbed her temple. This was off to a fantastic start. 


By 8 pm, Mal had thrown the food that Lindsey tried to give her across the room, after crying that Lindsey had made it all wrong; cried for her Mommies, and interspersed all of this with demands for Lindsey to go away. The older woman was trying not to call Tobin and Christen, even though she was very tempted- because there was really nothing that they could do without leaving one of the only dates they had been able to go on in a long time. 

It was bedtime, and Mal was wiggling around furiously on the couch, trying to avoid Lindsey as the older woman tried to pick her up and take her upstairs. 

"No bed! No, no! Not goin' bed, hate you!" 

Lindsey bit her lip, blinking back frustrated tears.  

"Y-You... You can hate me as much as you want, but your Mommy and Mama told me that you need to go to bed at 8. So, that's where we're going."

Mal stopped wiggling in preparation for a scream, and Lindsey took full advantage of that to scoop her up. She carried the squirming baby upstairs, keeping a firm grip on the railing to keep from falling. All the while, Mal was spewing a litany of verbal abuse at Lindsey- well, the childish version of it anyway. 

"H-Hate you! Go away, lemme 'lone! No bed! H-Hate y-you, wan' Mama!" 

Lindsey put Mal down on the plush carpet, digging through her drawers for a onesie and a diaper.

Mal struggled the entire time as Lindsey hefted her up and onto the changing table, stripping her out of her day clothes and trying to replace her diaper. 

A strong pair of legs kicked out, connecting with Lindsey's outstretched arm. The midfielder gasped in surprised pain, dropping the onesie and diaper onto the floor. Mal burst into tears on the changing table, beating it with her fists as Lindsey cradled her arm. 

"Come on, Mal," said Lindsey. "I need to get you in a diaper, then I can go downstairs and you can wait for Mommy and Mama in your crib."

The word crib did nothing to placate the little girl, who only screeched louder. Fighting through the pain of her arm, Lindsey took advantage of a small pause in the baby's physical tantrum to slide the diaper on. There was absolutely no way that she was going to be able to manage to get anything on over Mal's head, and so she just picked her up and took her to the rocking chair, figuring that she might as well try one more time to get the baby to calm down before putting her in the crib.

"Shh, honey," she tried, rocking back and forth in the chair, and trying to bounce Mal gently. "It's okay, Mommy and Mama will be home soon."

Lindsey had thought that the idea of her Mommies coming home would make Mal feel better. It did not, and suddenly there was now a new bruise forming on Lindsey's shin as Mal recommenced her tantrum.

That was just a bit too much for the older woman, who gently lifted the screaming baby into her crib, where she continued to wail inconsolably. The wordless screams were interspersed with continued assertions of how much she wanted Lindsey to go away.

"Good night, Mal."

Then, Lindsey flicked out the light and collapsed against the wall outside the baby's room and just started to sob with frustration and guilt at not being able to calm her. 


It was around 9:30 when Tobin and Christen returned to the house, and they could immediately tell that something was wrong. First of all, Lindsey was not on the couch. Unless Mal was having an amount of trouble going to sleep that she had never had before, the babysitter should have been done with bedtime by now. Long done, in fact. Second of all, when Tobin went to put their leftovers in the fridge, she spotted mushy apple slices on the floor, and a bowl of pasta tipped over on the table, spaghetti noodles and red sauce spread everywhere. Beside it, there was a full bottle. And Mal never went to bed without drinking her bottle.

Third of all, there was a very distinct sound of screaming and tears upstairs.

Mal had been sobbing in her crib for an hour straight, and Lindsey had her arms wrapped around her knees as she cried softly against the wall. Whenever she tried to go in and check on Mal, the baby would scream at her to go away, but she couldn't bring herself to go downstairs away from the girl, just in case something was really wrong. 

"Shit," said Tobin at the sight of Lindsey, and the sound of Mal. "Chris, get up here!" 

Christen ran up the stairs and into Mal's room, flicking on the light, while Tobin knelt down beside Lindsey, putting a hand on her shoulder. 

"What happened?"

Lindsey pulled herself to her feet and made her way towards the stairs.

"God," she cried. "I'm so sorry, Tobin. I just... I couldn't..."

Tobin's Mama senses tingled, and she clenched her fists worriedly, forcing herself to let Christen begin comforting the baby while she talked to the babysitter. 

What couldn't Lindsey do? What the fuck had happened to her baby? And, if Mal was crying, why the hell was Lindsey sitting outside of her room instead of comforting her? 

"She just... I couldn't do anything right, like, s-she wouldn't even let me f-feed her! All she said was t-that she hates me. God, I'm s-so sorry."

"Oh," said Tobin, pulling Lindsey into her arms. "Linds, no. I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry. She has never, ever acted like this before. Can you get home okay, or do you want me to drive you?"

Lindsey shook her head, using her sleeve to wipe her tears. 

"No, thanks though. Just... I'm sorry."

Tobin gave the younger woman another hug, making Lindsey promise to text her when she got home, and then it was just the little family of three.

Tobin entered Mal's nursery to find her little girl sobbing out the last of her extended bout of tears in Christen's lap on the rocking chair. 

"It's okay, pumpkin," cooed Christen. "Mommy's here, you're okay." 

When Mal was done crying, Christen lifted her up, adjusted the slightly crooked diaper tabs and slid the baby into her onesie. Tobin tapped her wife on the shoulder, pulled some of Christen's attention away from the little girl.

"Babe," she said to her wife. "So, Lindsey told me that Mal... That she..."

She couldn't even finish the sentence, so completely flabbergasted was she at the thought of her little girl acting up. Sure, Mal would throw a few little tantrums for them, but they were always easily solved. She couldn't have imagined that her sweet princess would be so mean to the babysitter, who also happened to be Big Mal's best friend. 

So, she just shook her head. Christen sat her back down on the rocking chair. 

"Baby," she said. "What happened?"

Mal sniffled again, a fresh bout of tears springing to her eyes. 

"I-I-I... D-Didn' wanna stup-pid sitter!" 

Christen got back up from the chair, sitting Mal down in it so that she and Tobin could stand in front of her together. The two women had never thought that they could feel this emotion- never, ever thought that they could be angry with their baby girl. But, it took a lot to make Lindsey Horan cry, and if Mal had managed it, then there was a talk that needed to be had.

"Mallory," said Christen, pulling out the full name. "I'm very disappointed in you. Lindsey came her to hang out with you, to take care of you. I... I didn't even think we had to worry about this." 

Tobin bit her lip, devastated by the heartbroken look in Mal's eyes at the reprimand, but didn't contradict her wife. In fact, she quite agreed. 

"I thought you liked Lindsey," said the midfielder. "What happened?"

A violent sob broke through Mal's lips. 

"D-D... Ma gotta leav-v-v-veee to have f-fun! Don' wanna... J-Jus'... Can' have fun wit' baby! Haveta call s'body to hav-ve funnn!" 

The anger in their chests faded, and both women ran forward to wrap their baby in their arms. They just held her while she cried, cooing comforting words into her hair and ears. 

"Love," said Christen as Mal began to come down from what had been a very long night of fits. "Mommy and Mama love you so much. We have so much fun with our sweet baby girl, but sometimes we need to have grown up time. We don't mind finding someone who can hang out with our princess, not at all. Everyone adores you, and it's so easy to find someone to watch you. So don't you worry about that."

Tobin nodded in agreement. 

"Baby girl," she added. "Mommy and Mama having adult time doesn't mean that we love you any less."

"'M sorry," whimpered Mal. "Was mean ta Lind-d-dseyy!" 

"Oh, honey," cooed Tobin. "She'll forgive you. She loves you so much, not as much as Mommy and Mama love you, but almost! I promise that she won't stay mad at you. Now," she said, picking up her baby and tucking her into the blankets in the crib.

"I think it's bedtime for tired, sweet, loved little girls."

Mal's Mommies each kissed her on the forehead, and the baby accepted the pacifier. Christen flicked off the light, and it didn't take long before Mal was dead asleep.


The next day, Mal drew a picture for Lindsey, full of hearts and two brightly colored stick figures together. 

Lindsey pulled her into her arms, and cried happily when Mal stammered out apologies, and promised she'd be good the next time Lindsey agreed to babysit her.  

 

Chapter Text

Ali was sitting on the floor, playing with her ponies with an episode of Dora the Explorer on in the background, when the twinge in her bladder became prominent. She briefly wondered if she should get up and go to the bathroom, but then she picked up a toy brush from the floor and remembered that Twilight Sparkle really needed her mane braided! This project was enough to distract her from needing to pee, at least for a time. 

But, by the time she had finished braiding Twilight Sparkle's mane and went on to Fluttershy's, she had begun to bounce unconsciously in place. 

Mommy looked up from her magazine, down at Ali.

"Honey," she said. "Do you need to pee?"

Ali shook her head. She was almost done with her braiding, she couldn't stop now! Besides, Dora the Explorer was still on, and she couldn't miss the best parts!

Ashlyn raised her eyebrows.

"Okay, baby. But if you do, please tell Mommy."

Ali agreed, and then returned to her ponies. 

It was another ten minutes before the pressure in her bladder really started to become a problem. She gripped onto Fluttershy, whimpering softly.

"Mommy," she cried, and Ashlyn looked down at her wide eyes and knew exactly what the problem was. 

Unfortunately for Ali, before her Mommy could even get up off the couch to start carrying her to the bathroom, it was too late.

Even though Ali wore pull-ups while she was little, she had never ever used them before. They were more to make her feel tiny than anything else- she hadn't ever planned on using them, all it had ever been was a tiny thought in the back of her mind, quickly dismissed because there was no way Mommy would ever want to deal with that. She would think Ali was so gross!

As her bladder emptied, Ali burst into horrified tears, pulling herself to her feet and trying to flee from her embarrassment. 

"Oh, honey," said Ashlyn, catching onto her before she could get anywhere. "Baby girl, did you use your pull-up?"

Ali sobbed miserably, face turning bright red. Her heart was pounding and she was shivering in horror, because this had to be it. This had to be the end- there was no way that Ashlyn would ever ever want to still be her Mommy now, not when she had just peed in her pull-up! 

But something was wrong. Instead of shoving her away with a look of disgust, Ashlyn was pulling her closer, rocking her back and forth gently. 

"Sweetheart," she asked. "Why didn't you tell Mommy that you needed to go to the bathroom?" 

Ali pointed towards her toys, the brush still stuck in Fluttershy's mane. 

"W-Was playin'! Wanted ta give F-Flutter braids!" 

Ashlyn cooed softly, cradling Ali against her chest. 

"Oh, baby. It's okay, it's okay. Don't cry, I've gotcha." 

"B-But... But I..."

She couldn't even finish her sentence. Saying it outloud, admitting to her shame, would surely make Mommy leave her, or at least be really, really angry. 

"It's okay," said Ashlyn, standing up from the couch with Ali still cradled in her arms. "No harm done, pumpkin. Let's get you out of that wet pull-up, okay?"

Ali leaned her head against Ashlyn's shoulder as her Mommy carried her towards their room. She couldn't believe what was happening. If she had heard right, Mommy had said that she was going to change her out of her wet pull-up, like Ali wasn't the grossest baby ever! Mommy didn't seem to be about to leave her...

"'M s-sorry-yy, Mommy," she cried, and Ashlyn paused to kiss her head. 

"It's okay, baby girl. Mommy promises that it's all okay. You went to the bathroom in your pull-up, it's not a disaster. That's why Mommy's here, to take care of you."

Ali sobbed in relief as Ashlyn laid her down on a yoga mat spread across their floor, which would now double as a changing table. She went to their on-suite and returned with a new pull-up, as well as a packet of wipes leftover from the last time they had watched Cassius and Roux at their house. Kneeling down beside Ali, she gave her baby girl a kiss on the forehead.

"Do you want a stuffie to hold while Mommy changes you?"

Ali nodded, reaching out her arms and accepting Logan Junior from Mommy. She rubbed the puppy against her face, hiding her blush as she lifted her hips, allowing Ashlyn to slide her leggings down. A tiny bit had gotten through, and so Ashlyn tossed the garment into the hamper. Then, she looked down at her little princess.

While she was tempted to just yank the pull-up down and replace it as soon as possible, just so it would be quick for a clearly embarrassed Ali, she decided better of it. She didn't want her little one to think that she was eager to get this over with, that it was just an obligation when, in reality, anything and everything that she could do for Ali was something that she was willing to and loved doing. Including changing her pull-up. 

"Mommy loves you so much, sweet girl," she said, undoing the tabs and pulling the wet pull-up out from underneath Ali's hips like a diaper. She set it aside to put in the garbage, then used one of the baby wipes to clean any remnants of the accident off of her little one's crotch. 

"You're doing so good, angel," she said, Ali's face still buried in her puppy's soft fur. The little one wriggled at the cold of the wipe, then stilled as Ashlyn offered her a hand. 

"Mommy," she whispered. 

Ashlyn slid a new pull up onto her. Technically, that was a part that Ali could do herself, and did typically do herself. But Ashlyn was going to do it for her, make sure that her sweet little girl knew how incredibly loved she was, and how willing Mommy was to do this for her.

"There we go, baby," she said. "All done. We're all done with that. Do you wanna pick out a new pair of leggings?"

Ali didn't answer the question, instead rising up from the yoga mat and wrapping her arms around Ashlyn, who pulled her to her chest. The remnants of her tears were drying on her face, and Ashlyn wiped one away from the tip of her nose. 

"T'anks Mommy," she whispered. "'M sorry 'm gross baby."

"No, no," cooed Ashlyn, kissing Ali on both cheeks. "If my baby girl needs to go potty in her pull-up sometimes, it's okay. It's really, really okay. Mommy doesn't mind, I promise. You're not a gross baby, not at all. You're my sweet, tiny little girl and I love you so much. Okay?" 

Ali nodded, nuzzling her face into Ashlyn's neck. 

"I 'ove you too, Mommy," she muttered.

Chapter Text

Julie had just enough in her to pick up her cellphone, plug in the password, and go straight to her speed dial. Her legs were swinging nervously, and she was tapping at the floor with the hand that wasn't holding the phone. 

She pressed #1, and the phone started ringing right away. It only took her husband a few rings to pick up.

"Hey, Jules," he said. "What's up?"

"Daddy," she whispered, barely able to stop her voice from shivering, 'cause she didn't want to be little all by herself. But Daddy would know what to do! He always did!

Immediately, Zach's tone changed. 

"Hi, baby," he said. "Are you little right now?"

Julie nodded, then remembered that Daddy couldn't see through the phone, and so she repeated the gesture aloud. 

"Daddy come home?"

"Oh, honey," he said, sounding a tiny bit heartbroken. "Daddy can't come home right now, remember? Believe me, Daddy would like nothing more to come right home to his sweet little Jules, but I'm playing ball right now." 

Julie's lower lip started to tremble, because she didn't like being little without Daddy. 'Cause Daddy was just so snuggly, and he could lift her like she didn't weigh a thing, and he always put her drawings up on the fridge... 

He didn't appreciate tantrums, though, so Julie did her best to suck in her complaints, and only sniffled quietly. 

"B-But... Want Daddy." 

"Aw, Jules," he said. "I know. And I wish I could be there with you right now. But, since I can't, do you want me to call Auntie Becky?"

Julie considered. Auntie Becky wasn't Daddy, but she was really really nice, and almost as cuddly. Plus, she made really yummy chocolate milk (Daddy could never get the mix right!), and she could lift her up almost as well as Daddy could... 

Yes, that sounded good. Besides, she really didn't want to be alone.

"Okay, Daddy," she said, and she heard Zach's relieved sigh on the other side of the phone. Julie didn't throw tantrums often, but when she did, they were epic. 

"Alright, princess," he said. "I'll call her, and she'll be there really soon! Okay?" 

"'Kay, Daddy," she said. "Love 'ou!"

"I love you too, baby girl! Have a fun time with Auntie Becky!" 

Julie hung up the phone and sat on the floor, swinging her legs back and forth and wrapping a strand of her hair around her fingers until the doorbell rang. Normally, Julie wasn't allowed to answer the door when she was little, but there was no one else here to answer it! 

Still, she peeked through the curtains to make sure that it was Auntie Becky at the door before she opened it. 

"Hey, Jules!" 

Becky put her bag down just inside the door- it was a duffel, just in case she ended up having to stay the night- and Julie jumped up into her arms. Becky had to bend her knees to catch her, but she did easily, kissing her cheeks in greeting.

"Hi, Auntie Becky! T'anks for comin' over!" 

Becky put her down and took her hand, leading her towards the den. 

"Of course, darling! You know I'd never miss a chance to hang out with my sweet little Jules!"

Julie smiled happily, grin widening as Auntie Becky swung her up onto her lap.

"So," said the older woman. "Do you want to change out of those jeans and into some sweet little girl clothes?" 

Julie nodded. Jeans were really very tight, and she didn't even know why she was wearing them when she hadn't planned to leave the house today! She clutched onto Becky's hand as the older woman led her up the stairs. 

Becky babysat Julie often enough that she knew where everything was, from Julie's coloring books and crayons to the pull-ups that she only needed at night. She pulled open the bottom drawer of Julie's dresser to reveal her collection of little clothes. Julie dug through them and picked out a blue shirt the same color of the wrap she wore during games, and a pair of flower print leggings. 

It had surprised Julie, the first time Becky had changed her out of her big girl clothes, how not-shy she had felt. She hadn't thought she would be okay with anybody except Daddy helping her into a new outfit, but she guessed that she was a bit too small for it to matter. 

Becky pulled her hair out of its messy ponytail, then grabbed the hairbrush and brushed Julie's mane down, nimble fingers twirling it into two braids on either side of her head. 

"There we go," she said. "You're so cute, Jules!" 

Julie giggled, taking Becky's hand and skipping back down the stairs to the kitchen. 

"Do you want something to eat?"

The younger woman nodded, hopping up onto one of the kitchen stools and swinging her legs back and forth. She had grabbed her stuffed elephant before she and Becky had come downstairs, and she set her on the stool beside her. Becky was rummaging in the fridge and, when she emerged, she was armed with a carton of raspberries and a Greek yogurt.

Julie accepted the offered food, dropping her raspberries one by one into her Greek yogurt, stirring them carefully in with her spoon before taking the first bite. Becky smiled adoringly as she watched Julie eat- many littles would scarf their food down without a second thought (in fact, whenever Becky babysat Kelley, she had to watch her carefully to make sure she didn't choke on her food), but Julie took her time to savor every bite, smacking her lips around each raspberry. 

"Does your Daddy still keep chocolate milk powder around here?"

Julie nodded excitedly, pointing towards the cupboard. Becky pulled out the container, and the carton of almond milk in the fridge. She had seen Zach try to make Julie chocolate milk before, and had been beyond confused when the man thought that water was an acceptable substitute for when they were out of milk. 

No wonder Jules liked hers much better. Because she knew how to read instructions, and put in the proper amount of powder with the proper beverage. 

The little girl grabbed the drink out of Becky's hands with a quick "thanks!" and finished her snack.

She offered Becky a raspberry, putting it on her finger like a little hat and holding her hand out to the older woman, who laughed before leaning forward and accepting the food. 

"Thanks, honey!" 

The rest of the day passed just as calmly, the two playing several rounds of CandyLand and Becky foregoing the ease of pizza delivery in favor of cooking up a pot of pasta with pesto. Julie had wanted to help, and so the older woman made sure that she washed her hands before letting her spread butter across the pieces of a pre-sliced baguette. They watched Tangled while eating, and Becky ended up carrying a sleepy Julie upstairs when the movie ended. 

After the little one was changed into her pajamas and pull-up, Becky dialed Zach and handed the phone to Julie.

"Did you have a fun day, baby girl?"

Julie nodded.

"Mmmhmm. Auntie Becky makes yummy food, 'n she's real good at CandyLand."

Zach smiled softly on the other end of the phone at the image in his head of his little one, being cared for. He wished that he could be there with her all the time, but in those cases where football took him somewhere else, he was glad that she had Becky to fall back on. 

After saying good night to Daddy, Julie handed the phone back to Becky. The older woman made sure that she was tucked in nice and snuggly, elephant wrapped in her arms, before flicking off the light.

"I'll be right downstairs if you need me, okay? Goodnight, sweetie." 

Julie barely managed to murmur "G'night, Auntie Beck,'" before she was fast asleep. 

 

Chapter Text

They had talked about it. They had talked about it a lot. They had cried, but eventually Nikki had looked Sam in the eyes, and told her that she needed to do what was best for her, without worrying about Nikki.

But now, Nikki couldn't stop thinking about what was going to happen to them. They weren't breaking up, but, really, how long could they last?

How long could she last, without her Mommy? 

But she was dealing with it. Definitely, definitely dealing with it. 

"Oh, darling," cooed Sam, scooping her sobbing girlfriend up from the couch. "Oh, baby girl."

Nikki wrapped her arms around Sam's neck and sobbed into her shoulder. One of her hands gripped at Sam's hair, pulling on it gently. 

"M-M-Mommmyyy," she wailed. "Don' go!" 

Sam couldn't say anything to comfort her, not really. So, she just kissed her all over her hair, trying not to cry herself. Because, God, if not for the conversation she had had with Big Nikki, she would be cancelling her flights right now, calling Chicago and asking them if she could return. 

"Baby girl," she cooed. "Baby, I'm here."

Sam sat down on the couch, holding Nikki close to her on her lap and rocking her gently. 

All she could really do was hold Nikki while she cried, whispering soft words, reassuring her baby that, for now at least, she was still here. 

Nikki just sobbed, burying her face in her Mommy's shirt, soaking it through with her tears. It felt so good to be held, so good and perfect to be held in Mommy's arms, to have her petting her and rocking her. Sam was staying calm, or as calm as she could, only letting a few tears escape. She had to be here for Nikki right now- she could cry later. If her little bug saw her crying right now, it would break them both. 

It could have been minutes or hours of just the two of them, sitting together on the couch, Sam rocking Nikki, before the older woman's tears tapered off into sniffles and hiccups. 

"Hey, baby girl," said Sam, once Nikki appeared to be done crying. "Mommy's right here."

"Mommy," whispered Nikki. "D'you love me?"

That question truly, truly tested Sam's ability not to cry. 

"Of course," she choked. "I love you so much, Nikki. More than anything in the whole world. I need you to do something for Mommy, princess. Do you think you can do it?"

Nikki nodded eagerly- she would so anything for Mommy! 

Sam took a deep breath, awed by the trust her little one still seemed to have in her, and made her request.

"Princess," she said, still fighting back the tears. "I want us to forget about everything except for this moment, right here. I want to just focus on right here, right now. You're my beautiful baby girl, and Mommy loves you, and it's just you and me. Okay?"

Nikki nodded. She was pretty sure she could do that. Especially if Mommy thought she could. It was going to be icky when she pulled herself up from littlespace, but for now, she would do her best to push it out of her mind and just let Mommy take such good care of her.

"That's my girl," praised Sam. "Now, how does getting you into the bath sound?"

Nikki nodded, wrapping her arms around the back of Sam's neck and letting the younger woman carry her to their bathroom. Nikki sat on the closed toilet seat, swinging her legs back and forth idly as she watched Sam fill the tub with warm water. She tossed in a bath bomb as well, and Nikki giggled softly as she watched the tub fill with pink bubbles. 

Sam stuck her elbow into the water, making sure that it wasn't too hot. Satisfied, Sam gestured for Nikki to raise her arms up above her head. 

The American could feel herself sinking further down into littlespace as her Mommy got her undressed, then held her hand and helped her into the bath. Nikki sighed happily as the warm water embraced her body. She let out a tiny giggle, gathering some water in her hands and watching it drain through the spaces in her fingers.

Sam smiled adoringly at her- God, Nikki was so cute. To distract herself from how much it made her want to cry in guilt at leaving this precious girl, Sam lathered some shampoo in her hands and rubbed it in Nikki's hair. 

"Tilt your head back for me, baby girl," she said, turning the tap back on to fill a cup with warm water and using it to wash the shampoo out of Nikki's hair. 

The process was repeated several times, until all of the suds were gone. 

"There we go, princess," said Sam, squeezing Nikki's slippery hand. She let the American soak in the bath until the water started to get chilly, and her baby looked up at her with wide eyes.

"Okay," said Sam. "You ready?"

Nikki nodded, gripping harder onto Sam's hand and allowing herself to be helped out of the tub. Sam wrapped a fluffy towel around her, and another around her hair, then lifted her up into her arms, walking with her to the bedroom and depositing her on the bed. She changed into her own pajamas first, giving Nikki time to dry off, and then dug out her little one's favorite pair of footies. 

She had bought them almost as a joke the last time she had gone home, and hadn't expected her little one to love them so much. They were adorned with designs of kangaroos and koalas, and had somehow managed to stay fluffy even after the times Nikki had worn them. 

Her little one was normally big enough not to need pull-ups, but all the emotion of tonight seemed to have made Nikki smaller than usual, and so Sam rifled through the drawer until she unearthed the rarely-used box. Kissing Nikki's forehead, she unwrapped the towels and got her changed into the pull-up and pajamas.

"There we go, baby," she said, doing up the last button. "Do you want a bedtime snack?"

Nikki nodded eagerly, and Sam went as quickly as she could to the kitchen to fetch her a cookie and a sippy cup full of milk. Racing back, she almost dropped the former, but managed to hang on. 

Her little one clapped eagerly, accepting the treats from her Mommy. She alternated between taking little sips of milk and little bites of the cookie as Sam slid into bed beside her and pulled the covers over them. 

"Mommy want cookie?"

The Australian looked over and saw Nikki holding out the last bite of her cookie with wide eyes. She wanted to sob- what had she ever done to deserve someone so precious? 

Sam took the piece of the cookie from her baby and broke it in half, making sure to give the bigger half back to Nikki, who gave her a small smile and popped it into her mouth, washing it down with the last of her milk. 

Nikki fell asleep long before Sam did, arms wrapped around the striker's midsection, with the younger woman stroking her hair, soft from the bath. 

Once she was sure that Nikki was fast asleep, hopefully dreaming of happy things, Sam cried as if her heart was breaking.

Because it was. 

Chapter Text

Carli didn't know why she should be panicking. She had scored a brace against Sweden, after all. She had proven herself to Vlatko, bringing her closer to that coveted spot on the Olympic roster. But still, her chest was tight, and she was having trouble taking a full breath, and not just because of the cold. 

Everyone had expected a hat trick from her. She had expected a hat trick from her, and she would have had it if she could have just put away a simple PK. 

So, there she sat, with her head in her hands on the locker room bench, angry at herself not just because she wished she had gotten the damn hat trick, but because she knew she shouldn't even be angry at herself. 

Her teammates were congratulating each other for surviving Sweden's late onslaught, taking Vlatko's criticism and praise. She had done the same, and was now thankfully out of his view. The last thing she needed was for the new coach to see her break down like some rookie. Everyone few minutes, someone would come over and pat her on the back, just adding to the confusing emotions in her head, which were making her lip tremble. She could feel herself regressing, adult brain being replaced by her twitchy, nervous, little one.

God, she wished that Hope was here. She wanted her Momm- wife- to tell her that it was okay, to reassure her. Barring that, she wished that Kelley had been able to stay for the game, even if it was just in the stands. Although the younger woman wasn't as comforting as Mommy, she was still someone that Carli could fall back on to care for her when she wasn't at her... biggest. She would have been here by now, Hope would have told her to keep an eye on Carli, and Kelley would have noticed the telltale signs that the midfielder was regressing.

She was breathing heavily, rocking her head in her hands, trying to convince herself that a brace was good enough, when a hand came to rest on her shoulder. 

"Carli," said Heather. "Come on, hon." 

Carli let the younger woman pull her up off the bench, walking her into a side room and wrapping her in a hug. Carli melted into the contact, her former teammate running a hand through her hair. HAO's hand was cold, from sitting out in the freezing temperatures, but it was still soothing. It wasn't Mommy's hand, or even Auntie Kelley's, but it was something, and Carli gave a tiny whimper.

"Car," said Heather. "Are you little right now?"

Carli nodded. HAO pulled out of the embrace, dropping down to sit on the floor and pulling Carli with her. The midfielder obeyed the gesture, crossing her legs and bringing her fist up to rub furiously at her eyes, keeping away frustrated tears. She felt so small all of a sudden, especially sitting in front of Heather. Despite the fact that the woman was three years younger than her, something about her made her seem so much older. Maybe it was the retirement... 

"Honey," said Heather. "Can you tell me what's wrong?"

Carli shook her head quickly, pulling her knees to her chest and rocking back and forth as the panic rose even higher in her chest.

"Hey," said the other, running her hands up and down Carli's arms, gently but firmly stopping her from rocking. "Little one, I need you to breathe for me. Can you do that?"

Carli didn't know. Breathing sounded hard, and so she chewed on her lip as she tried to obey. She tried to rock back and forth again, but Heather's hands on her arms stopped her.

"Okay," sighed the younger woman. "Sweetheart, if you need to cry, then you can, okay? You're allowed to feel exactly how you feel. I can leave, or I can hold you, but I need you to know that whatever you're feeling right now is okay.

All Carli needed was permission, and then her confused and frustrated tears came pouring out of her eyes. She fell forward into Heather's arms, and the younger woman caught her, rocking her. It wasn't the panicked rocking that she had stopped Carli from doing earlier, but instead a gentle, calm motion. Somewhere, deep in her little brain, Carli had the presence of mind to be so glad that Heather was at this game. Someone who hadn't been in the game, who had a relatively objective point of view. Someone who had known her for a long time, and who would be able to comfort her with years of accumulated knowledge about the older woman. 

"There we are," said HAO, stroking Carli's hair. "Atta girl. Let it out."

Her hands were warmer now, and they felt so good. Still not as good as Mommy's, but maybe just as good as Auntie Kelley's. 

Carli let her tears out onto the shoulder of Heather's jacket as the younger woman patiently held her, cooing comforting words into her ear. Heather gently undid Carli's bun, giving her hands full access to her long hair. She stroked it, wrapping it around her fingers into tiny curls before letting them fall again. 

"It's okay, sweetheart," cooed Heather. "I'm here, however you feel is okay." 

It was a few minutes before the older woman's tears tapered off, leaving a significant wet spot on HAO's jacket. She just rested in her arms for another minute, enjoying the feeling of being comforted  by someone, even if she was still confused and sad and a little bit mad. Heather wasn't telling her that she had played perfectly, she was just letting her feel how she felt. 

"T'anks, Heat'r," she whispered. "'M sorry." 

HAO kept playing with her hair.

"You don't need to be sorry, little one. You're allowed to feel however you feel, remember?"

Carli snuggled closer, until she was fully on Heather's lap. 

"Carli," said the younger woman. "Are you okay to have a little talk with me?" 

Carli nodded apprehensively, and Heather took her chin in her hand gently, stroking her cheek. 

"Don't worry, sweetie," she said, noticing the reaction the baby had to the question. "You don't need to be scared, okay? You don't need to worry." 

Carli nodded again, lower lip jutting out. She was still nervous, but she trusted Heather. The younger woman kept Carli's chin in her hand, making sure the little girl was meeting her eyes. 

"Carli," she said. "Can you tell me what you're feeling right now? It's okay if you can't."

Crying had helped Carli get a little bit of a better grip on her brain. She was still little, but the panic had faded into a dull ache of worry, rather than a wave of fear. 

"I... I t'ink 'm j-jus'... f-f-frus..."

"I know," cooed Heather. "That's a big word. Thank you for telling me, honey. I understand why you're frustrated, but I want you to know a few things, okay? I'm going to tell you all of this again when you're big, but I want you to hear it now as well." 

Carli nodded, and HAO rubbed her back gently, letting go of her chin to allow her to curl her head against her shoulder. 

"First of all, you're an amazing player. One of the best I ever played with. You just keep getting better and better, and scoring a brace is so, so amazing. But, honey, you can't get everything perfect, and you're hurting yourself trying. You don't need to be perfect, okay? Can you say that for me?"

Carli sniffled, but she thought she could at least... try? 

"I... I d-d-don' need ta b-b-be..."

"Come on, sweetie. You can do it."

"...perfect."

HAO rocked her gently.

"Such a good girl," she cooed. "I'm so proud of you." 

Carli gave a tiny little smile- it felt good to have someone say that they were proud of her. Only Mommy said that, usually. 

"Missing a penalty kick isn't the end of the world, Carli. And it made me so sad to see you be so upset with yourself. You can't let yourself get to yourself. Does that sound okay, little one?"

Carli nodded shyly, and Heather kissed her forehead. 

"That's enough adult stuff, honey. We don't need to think about that anymore. Do you want to stay with me tonight, sweetheart?"

Carli's eyes widened. Because she did, she didn't want to have to be big again, not yet. She just wanted to be put to bed like the tiny girl she was- she needed someone there, since she didn't have her puppy, or her pull-ups, or her paci, or her Mommy. 

In short, she definitely wasn't big enough to be alone. 

And so, she wrapped her arms around Heather's neck and nodded happily. 

"T'ank you, Auntie H-Heat'r."

Heather smiled at the title, kissing Carli on the forehead again, already happily anticipating baby snuggles. 

Chapter Text

"Can you tell me what's on your mind, bunny?"

Mal shrugged, chewing on her lip. She was upset with herself, because she had wanted so badly to score, to make a perfect first impression on the new coach. But instead, she had been on the field when Sweden had almost come back, and she was sure that Mommy and Mama must be disappointed in her. But, she was still teetering on the edge between big and little, and Big Mal sometimes had a little bit of trouble saying what she was feeling.

"Nothin'," she said. 

Christen was sitting in the seat next to her, and she was unconvinced. 

"Are you sure, princess?"

Mal shrugged, and from the seat behind her, Tobin rubbed the top of her head. Mama's hands felt really nice in Mal's hair, but she still wasn't quite... 

Christen took her hand. 

"Tell Mommy what's wrong, bunny."

And there it was. 

It was amazing how suddenly Mal could go from twenty one years old to a tiny baby. Tobin left her own seat and pulled Mal into her lap. Immediately, the little girl burrowed into Tobin's chest. Christen squeezed Mal's hand.

"Sweetie," she said. "You know you can tell Mommy and Mama anything, right?" 

Mal sniffled into Tobin's shirt. 'Cause this was one thing that baby Mal knew that big Mal had trouble with sometimes: she could tell Mommy and Mama absolutely anything, any time. With words when she wasn't quite a baby yet- like right now- or with little noises and tears when she was too small to do too much talking.

"I... did'n' score, M-Mama."

"Oh," cooed Tobin, kissing Mal's hair. "Is that what you're worried about, angel? You don't need to worry about that. Mama didn't score either, and neither did a whole bunch of other people!"

Mal knew that, but... but, she had really, really wanted to! She had wanted to show Coach that she was really good! 

"Baby girl," added Christen. "You don't need to score every game. Do you understand?"

Mal nodded into Mama's chest. If Mommy said something, it was probably definitely true, because Mommy would never ever lie to her. But there was still something that was bothering her a little bit. 

"Mommy," she whispered. "Do you 'n Mama think that Coach like me?"

Tobin and Christen locked eyes, sighing with adoration for their sweet, sensitive little baby girl, getting smaller and smaller by the moment. 

"Of course," Tobin assured her. "Bunny, he put you in his very first game for a reason, because he's excited to see you play!"

Christen nodded in agreement. 

"Mama's right, love. Everybody loves you a whole bunch! Almost as much as we love our sweet, tiny girl."

Mal gave them a tiny smile, and Christen's heart filled with relief. Her little bug had looked so sad in the postgame huddle, and getting a smile out of her was a bigger achievement than scoring her 50th international goal earlier. 

The bus pulled in, and Christen grabbed their bags while Tobin scooped Mal up into her arms, carrying her up to their room. Before the little girl knew it, she was all snuggly in a long-sleeved onesie, panties replaced by a diaper, stuffed whale in her arms while Mommy heated up a bottle for her. 

"Do you want to watch a movie, bug?"

Mal nodded at Tobin's question, and Mama pulled Netflix up on the TV. She flicked through options, until Mal settled on one of the Land Before Time movies. A later one- they had tried to watch the first one with Mal, but then Littlefoot's mother had died, and the baby had burst into tears, refusing to let go of Tobin and Christen for the rest of the night. As the movie started, Tobin transferred Mal to Christen's lap, allowing the older striker to pop the bottle past her lips. 

Mal drank it slowly, taking a few sips at a time, allowing her eyes to drift shut in a state of bliss, before opening them back up again to watch the movie. Then, she repeated the process until the bottle had been emptied, and her tired eyelids were fluttering as her head rested in the crook of Mommy's elbow. Mama rubbed her sore ankles as the movie faded to background noise, Mommy cooing down at her while Mal reached up a hand to grab onto a tendril of the older woman's hair. Her other hand went to her mouth, but Mama grabbed her wrist gently.

"I'll get you your paci instead, little one." 

Mal nodded automatically, lost in the haze of relaxation, and let Tobin replace her thumb with her bright pink pacifier. She could barely remember why she had been upset earlier, so enveloped was she in the wonderful, simple, blissful little baby feelings. She didn't need to worry about a thing- Mommy and Mama would take care of everything she needed. She didn't need to be a young striker trying to earn a spot on the Olympic roster by performing for a new coach.

She could just be Mommy and Mama's little baby bunny, all safe and snuggly and warm.

 

Chapter Text

This was definitely a good idea. 

Emily was tucked in the corner of Kelley and Alex's closet, waiting for the other defender to return to her room. When Kelley walked in, she would definitely still have her headphones on, and that would give Emily time to slide the door open and jump out, hopefully frightening the older woman out of her wits. She would have her phone on, capturing Kelley's reaction, and everyone would love it! 

The only problem: she had no idea when Kelley was going to be back. And therefore, by default, no idea how long she would be waiting in the dark closet. 

Something in the corner of the closet caught her eye, and she squeaked, before realizing that it was just the ironing board. 

"Okay," she whispered to herself. "Calm down, Emily. She'll be back soon." 

She played on her phone for a few minutes, alone in the dark except for the few articles of clothing that the older women had decided to store in the closet. Then, the ironing board in the corner made her jump again, because it looked just like a monster! 

Emily whimpered, but only pressed herself further into the side of the closet away from the monster, not ready to abandon her mission yet. Momm- Kelley- would be so surprised! 

Fifteen minutes later, the complimentary hangers caught her eye. Except, they weren't hangers! They were spiders, huge spiders, and they were going to eat her! 

That was enough for her. Emily reached for the door, but her little mind was too panicked to properly open it, and she was stuck. 

"Go 'way," she whimpered, tears springing to her eyes. "Don' eat me! Mommy!"

She hoped that Kelley would appear, like a superhero, despite the fact that there was no way the older woman would be able to hear her. But she didn't, and Emily sank back to the floor, kicking at the door in hopes of freeing herself. It didn't open, and so she buried her head in her hands, all thoughts of a prank forgotten as she sobbed in fear. 

She was so busy crying that she didn't hear the door of the hotel room opening. She didn't realize that she was no longer alone in the room until the closet door slid open, letting in the light and revealing Alex Morgan. The striker was holding her shoe like a weapon, ready to hit the intruder in her closet, but dropped it when she looked down at the floor and saw Emily, whimpering and sobbing. 

"Em," she said, sinking down onto her knees and pulling the younger woman out of the closet. "What's wrong? Why are you in the closet?" 

Emily buried her face in Alex's chest. 

"S-Scaaaaareeed," she moaned. "M-Monster gonna g-get me! Wan' Mommy!" 

Alex turned around to someone in the entry behind her, realizing with the first word that Emily was little. 

"Allie," she said, to a midfielder who was looking down at Emily with wide eyes, knowing what was going on but not knowing what she could do to help. "Go find Kelley."

The blonde nodded, dashing back down the hallway to search for the defender. 

"No, honey," cooed Alex. "There aren't any monsters! Why were you in the closet?"

Emily vaguely remembered, but she definitely wasn't in enough control of her voice to properly answer the question. So, she just let Alex pet her hair, shutting the closet door with her other hand so that the imaginary monsters would have no way to get at Emily. 

"Sweetie," she cooed. "Allie's going to get your Mommy. She's just downstairs getting some food, she'll be here in just a minute. We're not going to let anything get you, okay?"

Emily did feel a bit safer with Auntie Alex there, because she could be scary when she wanted to! She could probably scare away the big monster spiders! But she still really wanted Mommy, because Mommy would beat the big monster in the corner over the head if she had to. After all, that was what she had almost done when a reporter got a little too aggressive with her little Emily. 

Two pairs of footsteps sounded down the hallway, and then Emily was being pulled out of Alex's arms and into Mommy's. 

Kelley scooped her baby up into her arms and carried her over to her bed, sitting down with the little one on her lap. She rocked her back and forth, hands picking up where Alex's left off in her hair. In the back of her mind, Emily heard Alex and Mommy talking, but it didn't really matter what they were saying, because she was further away from the monster closet, and Mommy was holding her and protecting her while she sobbed. 

"Baby girl," cooed Kelley. "It's okay. It's okay, Mommy's here. Mommy's here, sugarplum. You're okay." 

Emily was still shaking a little bit as her tears began to taper off. She pointed towards the closet.

"B-But... monster!"

"I know," said Kelley, gently taking Emily's pointing hand into her own. "But there weren't any monsters, Em. Not at all. And even if there had been, let me tell you something about monsters."

Emily sniffled, rubbing her cheek against Kelley's shirt. It made sense that Mommy would know all about monsters- Mommy knew everything! 

"There's this thing about closet monsters," continued Kelley. "They disappear when mommies come into the room. Because closet monsters don't like love, and so they went poof! when Mommy came into the room, because Mommy loves you so much!" 

This got a smile from Emily, who snuggled closer into Kelley's chest. The older woman played gently with her baby's hair, twisting it into little curls and then letting them go. 

"'ove you too, Mommy," whispered Emily, and Kelley kissed her forehead. 

"I just have one question, baby," said the older defender. "Why were you in Mommy and Auntie Alex's closet?" 

Now that she had stopped sobbing in fear, Emily remembered why she had been in the bad monster closet in the first place. She blushed softly.

"W-Want'd ta scare Mommy," she whispered, burying her face in Kelley's chest. "Was g-gonna be f-funny."

Kelley couldn't hold back a laugh, because goodness, that was just so Emily. It was just like her baby girl to hide in a closet for an extended period of time just to scare her, and while Kelley felt terrible that her baby had gotten scared and little while she was in there, she couldn't help but find it a little hilarious. 

"Oh, sugarplum," she laughed. "I'm sure it would have been really funny. Because you're my funny little baby, and Mommy will never ever let anything get you, okay?"

Emily nodded, reaching up to kiss Mommy on the cheek. 

"T'ank you, Mommy. C'n I wear my comfy clothes?"

Kelley nodded, sliding Emily off her lap so that she could pull out everything Emily would need for a cozy little night, free of all closet monsters. 

 

Chapter Text

It was all over. A great ending to a great year, albeit an exhausting year. 

Tobin had been, it seemed to Christen, so eager to get off the field, just pass off the captain's armband to JJ and collapse bonelessly into her seat. Sure, she probably could have kept going. But, to the striker, her wife just seemed exhausted. 

Tobin collapsed into the chair beside Christen, leaning against her wife, laying her head on her shoulder. The striker ran a hand through Tobin's silky ponytail, twirling it around her fingers absently. When she tried to pull her hand away, just to rub at an itch, Tobin whimpered quietly. 

"Don' stop," she pleaded, and so Christen used her non-dominant hand to satisfy the itch, returning her other one to Tobin's hair. Her wife sighed happily, eyes drifting shut. 

"Feels good, Mommy," she whispered, moving from leaning against Christen's side and slumping down. She ended up with her legs curled up on her own seat, but her head in Christen's lap as the slightly younger woman pulled her ponytail gently out, smiling down at her baby girl and continuing to play with her hair. She massaged her sweaty scalp, scratching her head lightly. The physical contact was so soothing to Tobin, lulling her even further down into littlespace. 

Tobin might have fallen asleep briefly because, before she knew it, the game was over and Mommy was steering her gently back to the bus, keeping her away from the media as best as she could. Tobin managed a few autographs and photos, smiling at her fans but never letting go of Christen's hand. 

By the time they got back to the bus, Christen was supporting at least half of Tobin's weight as her baby girl dragged her feet up the stairs. Foregoing her own seat, Tobin crawled right into Christen's lap and leaned her head against her shoulder. Christen reached down and unlaced her shoes.

"Are you very tired, my sweet little pumpkin?"

Tobin nodded into Christen's neck, dozing off again as the bus returned them to their hotel. When it arrived, Christen hesitated to wake Tobin- her baby girl looked so peaceful and cozy, asleep in her lap. But, she still shook her gently. 

"Sweetheart," she whispered. "We're back. Time to get you upstairs for bed, okay?" 

Tobin whimpered softly, but scooted off of Christen's lap, taking her Mommy's hand as the striker used her other arm to carry both of their bags. She was basically sleepwalking by the time Christen let go of her hand to open the door, dropping their bags and then scooping her baby girl up into her arms. She took a few steps into the room, then laid Tobin gently on the bed.

"Hey, pumpkin," she said, brushing a lock of hair out of her princess's face. "My exhausted little girl. It's been a pretty big year, hasn't it?"

Tobin gave her a minuscule nod, and Christen smiled adoringly down at her. She took her baby girl's hands in her own and raised her arms above her head- Tobin seemed almost too tired to do it herself- to strip her out of her shirt and sports bra. They were replaced by a tee shirt, and her leggings by a pull-up and sweatpants. A pair of fuzzy socks completed the cozy factor, and Christen had Tobin sit up against the pillows as she brushed her teeth for her. 

The little girl was so tired that she could barely hold her own head up, and so Christen pulled her into her lap, supporting her against her chest as she moved the toothbrush carefully. The sink was too far away for such an exhausted little girl, and so Christen reached for a tissue and had her spit the excess toothpaste into it. 

She got herself ready for bed as quickly as she could, eager to snuggle up next to her tiny little girl, maybe get some good cuddle time in before they both fell asleep. She slid underneath the covers beside Tobin, already almost comatose with exhaustion.

She pulled her baby girl into her arms, and was rewarded with a weak nuzzle into her shoulder. It was such a babyish motion, Christen felt her heart filling impossibly further with love for her sweet Tobin. 

"Mommy," sighed Tobin, and the striker could hear her little one's pull-up crinkle softly as she inched closer. 

"I'm here, love," she cooed. "Go to sleep, pumpkin." 

She kissed her hair, petting her back and holding her against her chest as Tobin fell asleep.

Once Tobin had passed out, snuffling gently in her sleep, Christen realized just how exhausted she was. Her little one had been so tired, and she had needed to take care of Tobin first, before she could even start thinking about her own needs or feelings. But now, with her baby girl slumbering peacefully in her arms, she could allow herself to sink into the bed and fall asleep. 

In the morning, she would change Tobin out of her damp pull-up and into different comfortable clothes, making sure that she was all comfy and ready for the plane ride back home. Christen would make her promise that she would tell her if she needed to go to the bathroom, as they flew back to Portland to start their break. 

Chapter Text

Seeing her baby girl cry was never easy for Kristie. Even when it came from something as simple as a stubbed toe, or a wet pull up- something that she could fix easily with some kisses, or a change- it never failed to pull at her heart, make her want to pull her darling into her arms and never let her go again. 

But when it was because of a slow, brutal decay of all her confidence, it was infinitely worse. 

Rachel had collapsed onto the field, head in her hands, and Kristie could tell that she was regressing right there on the field. She was sitting in the front row, and so it took little effort for her to tap one of the security guards on the shoulder. When she gestured towards Rachel, wrapped around herself on the field with some of her teammates trying to help her to her feet, and showed him her ID, the man nodded her down.

Kristie dashed across the field as fast as she could, falling to her knees beside Rachel. She gave nods to the rest of the dejected England squad, then wrapped her arms around her girlfriend.

"Hey, sweetie," she cooed, glaring at the cameras that still swirled around, capturing the reactions of the two teams. "Let's go. Let's get you off the field, okay?"

Rachel whimpered, burying her face into Kristie's chest.

"M-Mummy," she whimpered. Kristie draped her body over Rachel's, shielding her girlfriend from the cameras. 

"I know, baby," said Kristie, trying to pull her crying lump of a girlfriend to her feet. "But, sweetness... We've got to get you into the locker room, then Mummy can take care of you. Sound good?"

Rachel didn't answer. Kristie took a deep breath, then used all her strength to pull Rachel to her feet. Her girlfriend dragged her feet, and Kristie had to practically carry her down the tunnel, cooing what she hoped was comfort into her baby girl's ear.

Phil tried to gesture Rachel onto a bench for a post-game talk, but the little girl sobbed at the thought of being yelled at, or being told that she could have done something better. Kristie shook her head violently back and forth- she didn't give a fuck if Phil wanted Rachel for the postgame talk. Her munchkin was in absolutely no state for it. 

"Leave it," said Ellen, when the manager seemed to be about to protest. "I'll catch her up. Just let her go."

It was probably because it was Ellen, the goal scorer, backing her up that Kristie was able to guide Rachel into a cab, giving the man directions to her hotel. She slid up the partition, and then she was able to finally focus on her sweet girl.

"Shh," she cooed, pulling Rachel's head against her shoulder. "Mummy's here, honey. We're almost back, and Mummy has all your little things back at the hotel."

Rachel's crying was a type that Kristie rarely heard. It was panicked, gasping. 

"Shh," Kristie repeated. "We're almost there, love."

The cabbie pulled up, and Kristie tossed a fifty at him, not bothering to wait for change. It was too small of a space for her to carry Rachel, and she instead had to pull her little one out by the hand, wrapping her arms around Rachel's waist and walking her baby inside.

She unlocked the door and collapsed with her baby onto the queen bed. 

Rachel's cries hadn't quieted, and she was breathing sharply in between sobs. She was kicking her legs slightly, and Kristie would be lying if she said that she wasn't terrified. But, she had to control her own emotions, for the sake of her little girl.

"B-Baby," she said, then took a deep breath. "Baby girl, I need you to focus on Mummy's voice, okay?" 

Rachel gave no outward sign that she had absorbed Kristie's words, but Kristie continued anyway. It wasn't the time for the big message- how talented she was, even if she didn't win- but she needed to get her little one off the precipice. 

"You are safe, and you are loved, and you are okay. You are safe, and you are loved, and you are okay. You are safe, and you are loved, and you are okay."

She didn't know how many times she repeated the phrase. But finally, finally, the words seemed to be getting through to Rachel. She was still sobbing, but the sharp, terrified gasps had faded.

"Good girl," cooed Kristie. "That's my girl."

She rubbed Rachel's back until the tears finally faded into sniffles. Rachel snuggled closer against Kristie's chest, letting her Mummy rock her back and forth gently. The panic was over, and both Kristie and Rachel could breathe again. It was time for her to make sure her sweet girl knew how amazing she was.

"Little one," she said. "I know that you're upset right now. I know you might be feeling scared, and sad. Winning games is nice. I know it is, and I know that your team hasn't been winning a lot. But, do you want to know something?"

Rachel nodded shyly- just a tiny movement against her shoulder. 

"Winning isn't the most important thing in the world, my love. It might feel like it, but you are so much more than just a player. You're a very good player, munchkin, but you're also the sweetest, most beautiful, most loving little princess in the whole world. Do you understand?"

Rachel sniffled, wrapping her arms around Kristie's neck. 

"I-I-I... Mummy! L-Love M-M-Mummyyyyy bunches!"

"Mummy loves you too, baby girl." 

They sat together for a few more minutes, until Rachel started to wriggle around on Kristie's lap. The older girl laughed gently- she knew exactly what that meant.

"Let's get you into a pull-up, okay?"

Rachel nodded in agreement. She was so relieved, to be able to sink down as far as she needed into little space, and just forget about every scary thing that had happened, forget about losing. She needed to be taken care of by Mummy, and she was so lucky to have someone like Kristie to be with her. 

Chapter Text

"Are y-you sure?" 

Mal was biting nervously at her right thumbnail as she watched Emily. The older little had uncapped all of the markers that they were using to color, and was sitting by the white painted wall. Their Mommies had left them alone in the den for a few minutes while they made snacks, and the pad that they had been drawing on had run out of paper before Emily and Mal could draw their trees. So, of course, the only logical conclusion for Emily was to pick a corner of the wall to complete their masterpiece.

"Yeah!" 

The older little seemed so sure of herself, so confident that it would all be okay. Their Mommies wouldn't even notice! 

"C'mon, Mal! 'S fun!" 

Mal thought about it- or, tried to think about it. Thinking was hard when she was just a baby, especially when someone older said that it was gonna be okay, that they weren't gonna get in any trouble. Still, there was a nagging voice in her the back of her head, telling her that Mommy and Mama wouldn't be very happy with her if she went with Emily on this one.

But Emily looked like she was having fun, drawing with markers on Mommy and Mama's nice wall. And Mal wanted to have fun, too! Especially with Emmy, because she was so cool, and she knew so much more than tiny baby Mal! 

"O... Ok-kay." 

Emily grinned and tossed her a marker, and Mal plopped down next to her, diaper crinkling as she hit the ground. Her coordination wasn't quite good enough to catch it, but she picked it up from the floor and joined her friend in drawing. She was halfway through sketching a nice big tree when a startled gasp came from behind her.

"Mallory Diane, what are you doing?" 

Mal gasped, dropping the marker. It landed on its head, leaving a bright green spot on the floor. Mommy was holding a bowl of goldfish crackers, clearly meant for her baby girl's consumption, and her mouth was open wide as she stared at her in shock. 

Tobin and Lindsey followed Christen into the room, speeding up when they heard the striker's gasp. 

"Emily!" 

Lindsey set her own bowl of goldfish on the arm of the couch and ran forwards, snatching the markers out of Emily's startled hands. The three Mommies stared down at their little girls. Emily's expression wasn't quite guilty, but there was a certain amount of chagrin there. But, her expression melted further and further into one of nervousness and worry as Lindsey stared her down. 

Mal, on the other hand, already had a trembling lower lip. 'Cause Mommy and Mama didn't look very happy with her. Mommy's arms were crossed across her chest, and she was staring down at Mal with a disappointed expression. Mama was rubbing her temple, and crouched down in front of her and Emily's mini masterpiece.

She picked up a still uncapped marker and sniffed it, then ran it across the tip of her finger.

"Good news, Chris," she said. "Doesn't look like it's permanent."

Emily confirmed the statement with a small nod as she was being pulled to her feet by Lindsey and moved to the couch.

"Emily," she said. "What on earth were you doing?"

Emily shrugged, and Lindsey pinched the bridge of her nose. Picking her little up, she carried her into another room to deal with her separately from Mal. The youngest baby could hear her saying "you're in big trouble, young lady." 

Then, it was just Mal and her Mommies. And she was in just as much trouble. 

"For God's sake," said Christen, still staring at the mess on their wall. "Why did you draw on the wall, Mallory?" 

Mommy's disappointed tone and the use of her full name, as well as pained squeaks from Emily as Lindsey gave her a spanking, was what made her burst into tears. 

"I-I-I-I... Emmy said would b-be fine!" 

Tobin scooped her up into her arms, holding her on her lap while she cried. 

"I should have known," she said to Christen, shaking her head, almost amused. "Shh, baby." 

She bounced Mal gently until she stopped crying. Lindsey was keeping Emily in the other room, holding and comforting her after her spanking, waiting until Christen and Tobin had dealt with their own little girl before returning to the room. 

"Mallory," said Christen, tone softening but still using her baby girl's first name. "I think you know better than that, don't you? You're my smart little cookie, and you know better than to draw on walls." 

Mal nodded, wiping her eyes on Tobin's shirt. 

"'M s-s-sorry-yyy, Mommy!" 

Christen sat down on the couch beside her and Tobin, taking Mal's hand in hers. 

"I know, love. This is a good lesson for you, though, okay? Just because Emily's older than you doesn't mean that all of her ideas are good. If that little voice inside tells you not to do something, I want you to listen to it. Do you understand?"

Mal nodded quickly, snuggling further into Tobin. Her Mama petted her, and she felt herself getting even tinier. 

"Mmmhmm!"

"That's my girl," said Christen. "But, you're still not getting any dessert tonight, and you're going to help Mommy and Mama clean that wall before we watch any movies or read any books."

Mal nodded again. 'Cause, even though she didn't want to clean up the wall, she wanted Mommy and Mama to not be mad with her anymore. Christen knew that that was enough- a lecture was more than enough for Mal when she was this little. She was such a sensitive little girl...

Sensing that Tobin and Christen were done lecturing their baby, Lindsey led Emily back into the room. The little girl was looking at the ground, shuffling her feet nervously and squeezing Lindsey's hand. 

"Emily," said Lindsey. "What do you want to say to Auntie Tobin and Auntie Christen?" 

"'M sorry," whispered Emily, flushing in shame. "Shouldn'ta drew on your wall." 

Christen hopped up from the couch and gave Emily a quick hug, patting the little girl on the head.

"We forgive you, honey. Just, next time, ask us if you want more paper, okay?"

Emily nodded quickly, and after Christen and Tobin waved off Lindsey's offer to help clean the wall, she and Lindsey said their goodbyes. Mal and her Mommies spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the mess, Tobin and Christen praising her for a job well done and a lesson well learned. 

Chapter Text

Rachel couldn't help but be a little... worried about her girlfriend. Kristie had held herself together until they were back in their hotel room, but now she was pacing back and forth, scuffing her feet along the carpet and picking at the hair tie around her wrist. 

"Honey," said Rachel, reaching out her hand and catching Kristie's elbow on her next pass past the bed. "Sit down with me." 

Kristie shook her head, tearing her elbow out of Rachel's grip and continuing her walk. She kicked the wall with her bare feet, then squealed in pain as her toes connected with the wall. She collapsed to the floor, pulling her foot into her hand. Rachel knew that the worst it could be was a stubbed toe, and that was why she was so surprised when Kristie burst into tears. 

She hopped up from the bed and sank down to the floor next to her girlfriend. 

"Kris," she said, pulling the American into her arms. "What's wrong?" 

Kristie sniffled, leaning her head against Rachel's shoulder. 

"I... I... I dunno!"

Rachel startled at Kristie's tone. Her girlfriend's voice sounded smaller than usual. It almost reminded her of... of Sam's voice, when they babysat her. If she was ever present enough in her own mind when she was little, she would have recognized that it also sounded like her own. But no, that wasn't possible. Kristie had never been little before- she was the one who took care of little girls, she wasn't little herself! 

But Kristie was still holding her foot, and her sniffles were turning into sobs. She was definitely too upset for this to be normal. 

"Kristie," she said, taking her girlfriend's hand in her own. "Honey, do you think... are you little?" 

The American sobbed, shaking her head back and forth, but curling further into her girlfriend's chest. 

"Noooooo," she cried. "C-Can' be little! Don' g-get- not!" 

The mumbling, the almost incoherent words, were enough for Rachel to realize that this was definitely not a fluke. Kristie was little, and she had no idea what to do about it. 

"Okay," she said, rocking Kristie back and forth and hoping for her girlfriend to calm down while she thought about what she could do. What did Kristie do, when she was little? 

"Sweetheart," she cooed. "What... What can I do to help you right now?" 

Kristie sobbed, letting go of her foot and using that hand to wrap herself around Rachel. The Englishwoman kept rocking her, wondering vaguely if she should get up and move them to the bed. 

"D-Dunnooooo," Kristie moaned. "W-Wanna g-go hoooooommmmmee!" 

Rachel prayed that her girlfriend wouldn't start kicking as she picked her up. Rather the opposite happened, in fact. Kristie went practically limp against Rachel's shoulder, letting the Englishwoman carry her over to the bed and pull the covers over them. 

"I know," Rachel cooed. "I know, sweetie. You just want to be back home in our apartment. But don't worry, we're going home tomorrow. We'll be home so soon."

Kristie tried to nod into Rachel's chest, but it turned into a nuzzle instead, soaking her girlfriend's shirt with her tears. Rachel stroked her hair, still unsure what to do except for try her best to comfort her. 

"Sweetie," she asked again. "Do you think you might be a little girl right now?"

Kristie didn't nod, but nor did she deny it this time. Rachel continued.

"Honey," she reassured her. "You know it's okay if you are, right? You always tell me that it's okay to be small, and I just want to make sure you know that it's just as okay for you to be little if you need to."

Kristie whimpered, sobs slowing down. 

"B-But," she sniffled. "I sup-p-p-posed ta be the big one! 'M 'posed ta t-take care'a you!"  

And there it was, the reason why Kristie was fighting this. Rachel rubbed her back, holding her close to try and comfort her. 

"Oh, Kristie," she said. "You take such good care of me all the time. I'm so grateful that you're my Mummy. But, I need you to know that I'm here for you as well- I can take care of you if you need me to. And I think you might need me to right now. So, what do you say, little one? Will you let me take care of you like you take care of me?" 

Kristie thought about it for a minute, and then she nodded into Rachel's chest. Rachel sighed in relief, kissing Kristie on the forehead and reassuring her that she would be right back as she slid out from under the covers. She ran across the room to their smallest suitcase, the one that held her own little things, that they brought everywhere just in case they needed it. 

She handed Kristie one of her own stuffed animals to snuggle while she ran to the bathroom to wash off one of her pacifiers. The little girl accepted the stuffed toy eagerly, rubbing it across her face and holding it tightly. Rachel was back within seconds, popping the pacifier into Kristie's mouth before pulling her back into her arms. 

"There we go," she cooed. She had worried that seeing Kristie snuggling her own stuffies and sucking on a pacifier might make her little, but thankfully her buried maternal instincts had kicked in- she needed to stay big, to make sure that her sweet girlfriend had someone to take care of her.

"Is that nice, baby?" 

She smiled when Kristie nodded, rubbing gently at her eyes. Rachel knew exactly how cozy and small she felt when she was in littlespace, and she was glad that Kristie was getting some of the same warmth from it. The day had certainly been taxing, and so Rachel was unsurprised when she felt Kristie beginning to drift off to sleep in her arms, like she herself had done so many times. The older woman just had time to whisper "T'ank you, Mama," before the gentle suckling on the pacifier and the warmth of Rachel's arms lulled her to sleep. 

"I've got you, baby girl," whispered the Englishwoman, hoping that her sweet Kristie heard it before sleep claimed her entirely.

Rachel stayed awake for a little longer, just thinking. She had often wondered why Kristie bothered to take care of her while she was little, but now she knew. There was nothing like this feeling, nothing like having the love of her life trust her like this, trust her to take care of her and love her with everything. 

If Kristie ever needed to be little again, Rachel was so ready for her, so ready to discover all the things that made her baby girl unique, so ready to find out what a happy baby Kristie would look like. So ready to try her hand at being Mama. 

Chapter Text

"Breathe," she whispered to herself. "J-Just breathe." 

Calming herself down before it got bad was the only way to get herself out of this. And taking deep breaths was the only way to do that. So, she tried to suck in air through her nose, but was interrupted by the tears springing to her eyes. 

Emily was alone in the hotel room- Kelley was her roommate, but the older woman had gone down the hallway to watch a movie with Alex. Lindsey and Mal were out, and Sam and Rose were having a Harry Potter marathon, if Emily wasn't mistaken. 

"B-Breathe," she tried to tell herself. "'S okay." 

But it really wasn't okay. Because Emily's chest was tight, and there was a black hole in the pit of her stomach, and she wanted to be with someone else, not all by herself in a hotel room. Then again, maybe being with somebody else wasn't the best idea right now, because if anyone else walked in, there was no way they'd want to be her friend anymore. 

She tried to stop herself from bringing her thumb up to her mouth, but the urge was too strong. 'Cause she was just a tiny girl, and she needed to suck on her thumb. 

Giving up on preventing her descent into littlespace, Emily dragged the covers over herself. If she was going to be small, she was going to sleep it off, and hopefully wake up normal. 

The covers were heavy, and she wished that she had someone to tuck her into bed, to give her a kiss and tell her that she'd be there when she woke up. But, she told her little self, as she had so many times before, she wasn't even anybody's best friend. Why would anybody want her to be their baby girl? 

The stuffed animal she kept under her bed in her apartment in Portland was still there, and so she snuggled the extra pillow as she tried to get to sleep. It was a poor substitute, really. Mister Rex was the cuddliest T-Rex ever, all fluffy with his sewn on eyes and a tail that was so nice to chew on, 'cause she was too scared to order a pacifier from online. But most of all, he loved her so much, and she knew because she asked him every night when she was feeling scared and lonely. Which was most nights when she was little, if she were being honest. 

He was the bestest stuffie ever, but he wasn't here. And, even if he were, he couldn't take the place of what she was sure a Mommy would be like. Her eyes watered just thinking about it, 'cause she wanted to be loved by a real life person, not just a fluffy stuffed dinosaur. 

And then she was really crying, head buried in the pillow as she sucked on her thumb. God, she wanted it so bad. Wanted to be kissed and hugged, snuggled and fed. Wanted to be tucked into bed and held while she fell asleep, with Mommy stroking her hair.

The face she pictured when she thought about Mommy changed all the time, but was usually Kelley or Lindsey, sometimes even Sam or Alex. She could see any one of their faces, eyes crinkled in a smile, staring down at her with love. And she would be so good, she told herself. If, by some miracle, any of them ever wanted to be her Mommy, didn't go running away in horror at how gross she was, she would be so good. She would be the best baby ever, even if she wanted to misbehave. She would never cry like she was now, she would always eat her food, she wouldn't beg for attention when Mommy was busy... She would be someone's perfect, precious angel, if they were even willing to kiss her goodnight. 

Emily wailed, kicking her legs. She rocked back and forth, and if she weren't in littlespace, she would recognize that she was throwing a tantrum. And she also would have heard the hotel room door opening. 

"Emily?"

Kelley's voice, though. That, she did hear. 

She gasped, a new wave of tears springing to her eyes. She threw herself off the bed, blanket and all, and huddled against the wall. 'Cause this couldn't be happenin', nope! Kelley wasn't here, this was just a bad nightmare. She squeezed her eyes shut as Kelley approached her, hand extended cautiously. 

"Em? Why... Why are you crying?" 

Emily just kept sobbing, rocking herself, wailing in embarrassment and fear and loneliness. 

Kelley squatted down in front of her, brushing a lock of hair out of her eyes. If Emily had been able to see through her tears, she would have realized that Kelley's eyes contained no judgement, even though she had definitely seen Emily sucking her thumb. Only concern. 

Emily couldn't answer Kelley's question, and when the older defender pulled her gently into her arms, the younger went practically limp, slumping against Kelley's shoulder and letting herself be held. She was still so humiliated, and just waiting for Kelley to tell her that their friendship was over, but that didn't mean she was going to reject the comfort that she had been needing for so long. 

Kelley let the younger woman cry herself out, stroking her messy hair gently. When Emily's sobs had faded to sniffles, she used her other hand to rub her back, encouraging her to take deep breaths, chase the last of the tears away. 

"What's wrong, Emily?"

Emily knew she was beet red, and that she should be bolting for the bathroom to hide. But Kelley's arms just felt too good to leave- no one had ever held her while she was little, and the older woman's touch made her long even more for a Mommy to hold her forever. 

"N-Nothin'," she managed, voice shaking.

"I don't believe that," replied Kelley. "Not even a little bit, Emily Ann Sonnett. What's wrong, why were you crying?" 

It was so tempting, to just open her mouth and tell Kelley everything. Maybe something miraculous was happening, maybe she would come out of this with someone to love her forever and tuck her in and give her snuggles and-

"I-I-I c-caaaan'ttt," she wailed. "G-Gon' hate meeee!" 

"No," said Kelley. "No, no! I could never hate you, Emily. Never in a million years. Whatever it is, you can tell me. I promise that I won't judge you, no matter what it is." 

That was it for Emily. She had been trying to hold it in, ever since Kelley wrapped her up all warm and safe in her arms. Even though she couldn't shake the nagging fear that Kelley was gonna hate her forever once she opened her big fat mouth, she really wanted Kelley to be happy with her. And telling her what she wanted to know- maybe that would make her happy enough to stay at least for a few minutes, before leaving her alone again to go finish her movie. 

"'M j-just... Jus' a baby," she whispered. "An' I n-n-need Mommy."

Kelley startled, but quickly composed herself when she saw Emily's lip trembling. She thought she might know what was going on, and if it was what she thought it was, then there was probably one specific person she needed to find, and fast.

"Okay, love," she said, going with her instincts and rocking the self-proclaimed baby back and forth, unaware at the weight that fell off of Emily's shoulders when Kelley called her 'love,' and didn't call her icky or gross or bad. "Who's Mommy?"

"D-Don' gotta Mommy," cried Emily. "N-Nobody l-love me! Just my stuffie, 'n he's not heeeerrrrreeee!" 

Kelley's heart clenched, and she wanted to just hold Emily forever. 

"Oh, sweets," she said. "No, that's not true. There's so many people who love you."

Emily shook her head again, disbelieving. Kelley might not be leaving her all alone, but that wasn't because she loved her! That just wasn't possible.

"Yes," said Kelley, grabbing onto Emily's chin and forcing her to stop shaking her head. "Everyone loves you, sunshine. A-And, if you need somebody to take care of you, I'd be... I'd be glad to help."

The sentence stopped Emily in her tracks. There was no way that this was real- Kelley hadn't just offered to take care of her! Had she? 

"M-Mommy?" 

Kelley smiled at the hesitant word. She hadn't expected the warmth it would fill her with, to hear Emily Sonnett, who had just been sobbing about how no one loved her, whisper the title of the person that she needed to badly, directed at her.

"That's right, sunshine," she cooed, lifting Emily and putting her back up on the bed, then lying beside her. The little girl snuggled into her chest when she opened her arms, melting into the love. 

"Mommy's here." 

Chapter Text

Ashlyn hadn't been expecting to regress today. She didn't normally regress during camps- she tried to save it for when she was at home, all alone with Ali and Logan. Neither of them would ever judge her for being just a tiny little girl sometimes.

But, really, it wasn't a big deal, that she was little right now. Practice was over, and the team was getting ready to get back on the bus to their hotel. Plus, everyone always switched rooms when they needed to, and so whoever was rooming with Mommy would definitely switch with her, and she could be all cozy tonight! And most of her teammates knew about her little side anyway, and they wouldn't ever judge her. So, it was totally fine!

Mommy had told her to wait for her on the bench in the middle of the locker room, and so she was swinging her legs and humming to herself, waiting while Ali got changed out of her practice clothes and into sweatpants. Her teammates were smiling at her as they moved through the locker room, and occasionally ruffling her hair affectionately. Her thumb drifted up to her mouth, and she twirled her other hand in her hair. Really, everything was perfect. 

Except for one little thing. One person. 

"What the fuck is wrong with you?"

The voice came from behind her, and Ashlyn gasped lightly. She thought she might have been imagining it, because nobody on the team would say that to her! None of them thought that anything was wrong with her! They all loved her a whole bunch, that's what they all told her whenever they saw her little! 

Except...

Hinkle was staring down at her with an expression that Ashlyn could only describe as disgusted. Her lips were curled, nose scrunched up as if she had smelled something foul. The defender was glaring at her, brow furrowed. It was clear that she knew exactly what was going on, and that Ashlyn was nothing more than the filthy turf on the bottom of her boots. 

Normally, Ashlyn would never be afraid of Hinkle. Not even a little bit- Hinkle should be afraid of her. The woman wasn't even worth her time, when she was big. But when she was little, Hinkle was a big person, who hated her and wanted her to be sad. 

Her eyes widened, and her lower lip started trembling involuntarily. But, she had to stand up for herself, had to make Mommy proud of her. Had to make Big Ash proud of her. 

"N-Nothin'," she whimpered, voice sounding weak even to herself. "Nothin' wrong wif me." 

Hinkle gave a short, disbelieving laugh.

"Oh, honey," she said, voice saccharine and poisonous. "You don't really think that, do you?" 

Ashlyn tried to stay strong, and gave a weak nod, trying to convince both herself and the big person glaring at her. Because Mommy always told her that there was nothing wrong with being little, that Ash was her sweet little monkey, and Mommy couldn't be lying to her!

But... But Hinkle was looking down at her with such venom and imagined superiority that she couldn't possibly remember that. 

She tried to keep the tears out of her eyes- she didn't want to give the defender the satisfaction. 

"Abomination."

And that was too much.

Ashlyn started to cry, humiliated and terrified tears pouring from her eyes. If she had been looking up, she would have seen a satisfied look in the defender's eyes. She collapsed in on herself, rubbing her eyes and whimpering.

Then, another voice came from nearby.

"Hey! What the actual fuck?" 

Ashlyn was almost surprised when it was Abby who strode forward, placing herself between the keeper and her fellow defender. Gentle hands came to wipe Ashlyn's tears- she didn't even know whose. 

"Leave her alone!" 

Hinkle scoffed, giving Abby a brief glare before returning her attention to Ashlyn. Her mouth was opening to say something else, but she never got a chance.

"What's going on?"

Ashlyn, still trying to control her tears, gasped in happiness. Because that was Mommy's voice! Mommy made everything better! 

"M-Mommy," she whimpered, reaching out her arms for Ali, who had realized by now that something was very wrong. Ali pushed past the teammates who had started comforting her baby girl and wrapped Ashlyn up into her arms, immediately pressing kisses all over her hair.

"Oh, sweetie," she cooed, pulling Ashlyn's head to her chest. "What happened? What happened, angel? Don't cry, Mommy's here, it's okay." 

Ashlyn tried to calm her breathing, tears still dripping from her eyes onto her Mommy's clean shirt. She managed to raise her hand, and point past Abby to where Hinkle stood, still glaring at her. Ali's face immediately changed from a calming expression to one of pure rage, as she realized what must have happened. 

"Mommy will be right back, baby girl," said Ali, kissing Ashlyn on the head and standing up, clenching her fists. Ashlyn whimpered miserably as Mommy's warmth went away, but Megan immediately took her place, holding Ashlyn tightly while Ali squared off with the woman who had made her little one cry. Ashlyn kind of wanted to listen, but she didn't fight against Auntie Megan when she held her hands gently over her ears. 

None of what was coming was something that baby Ash should hear. 

"What the fuck did you do to my baby?"

"She's not your baby. She's... I don't even have the words for how disgusting she is."

The team was looking back and forth between Hinkle and Ali, wondering how the older defender was going to react. No one expected what happened.

Ali lunged forward, fists clenched to the point where her knuckles were right, throwing herself at Hinkle in complete fury. The startled younger woman jumped backwards, just barely avoiding Ali's fists. 

"Ali!"

Before Ali could swing again, Abby managed to wrap an arm around her waist. She was quickly joined by Alyssa, and then AD when it became clear that Ali was not going to be restrained by just two people. 

"Fucking bitch," screamed Ali. "Just you fucking say that again!" 

Ashlyn couldn't really hear Mommy's yelling, because Auntie Megan was rocking her back and forth gently, holding her hands over her ears while Becky wiped the tears from under her eyes. But, she knew that Mommy wasn't going to let the mean lady get away with it.

"You psycho!"

Hinkle was glaring back at Ali, who was still fighting against Abby, Alyssa and AD to get at her. 

"I'll get you fucking fired for this," she said. "You crazy bitch."

A scoff came from the gathered crowd, and Kelley stepped forward. 

"Are you serious? It'll be all of us against you, and everyone knows how you feel about Ali and Ash. No one would possibly believe you over all of us." 

Hinkle had nothing to say to that- she turned red, sputtered, and then was gone. 

Cautiously, the three women holding Ali released her, and she ran straight back to Ashlyn's side, taking Megan's place. Ashlyn curled right back into her Mommy's arms, inhaling her familiar scent, wiping the rest of her tears off on Mommy's shirt. 

"Hey, baby," cooed Ali. Her tone had gone from one of fury to one of pure love, anger not quite abated, but calmed by having her little girl in her arms. "How are you feeling?"

Ashlyn whimpered. Even though watching Mommy go after Hinkle had made her feel a little bit better, the woman's comments were still implanted in her brain. She wasn't disgusting... was she? No one had ever told her that before, but... but, maybe they were all too nice to tell her what they really thought. 

When Ashlyn didn't immediately answer, Ali hummed, gesturing the rest of their team away. 

"Did she say some mean things to you, princess?"

Ashlyn nodded, cuddling closer into Ali's lap. 

"T-Tol' me 'm... Said a b-big word, 'n... B-Bom'nation, I think?" 

She didn't see the way Ali's eyes hardened, but she did feel how Mommy pulled her closer. 

"Oh, oh," she cooed. "That's not true, baby girl. You're not an abomination, Ashlyn. Never, never. You're my sweet little girl, and you are so, so loved. She's just a mean person, and we don't listen to mean people, do we?"

Ashlyn shook her head. Mommy was right- Mommy was always right! But, there was one more thing bothering her. 

"I... 'M sorry, Mommy. Didn't... S-Sorry, let her..."

She didn't need to say anything more for Ali to understand. 

"Hey, princess," she said. "You don't need to be strong all the time. That's why Mommy and all your Aunties are here. When you're Mommy's little girl, Mommy can defend you. Okay, pumpkin?"

Ashlyn nodded.

"Mmkay, Mommy."

"Are you ready to go back to the hotel room, sweetheart? We can get you all cozy in a pull-up, and Mommy brought your stuffie and paci, and some sippy cups! Does that sound good?"

Ashlyn nodded again, already relaxing at the idea of a nice little night. She didn't need to be scared of anyone, because Mommy would protect her. 

Chapter Text

Hey, y'all! As the title would suggest, this is not a chapter. Just letting you guys know that I made a tumblr (literally 10 minutes ago, so there's nothing on it yet lol), so if you want to go interact with me over there, feel free!!!! Send me requests! 

 

I'll use it to update y'all on this fic, and my others (and by that, I mean explain myself when I don't post), and maybe post little extras, like aesthetics and inspirational playlists

 

https://summer-princessfanfics.tumblr.com/

 

xoxoxo

Chapter Text

These were stressful times for the women's national team. With the change in coaching staff, and especially the recent departure of Dawn, it was a nice bright spot when Vlatko introduced them to the newest- and certainly cutest- member of his staff.

The poor golden retriever seemed almost overwhelmed at the sudden onslaught of twenty plus women, squealing in happiness as she was led in. But, being a dog, Bailey had been generous with her kisses, and each member of the team had been overjoyed at the sight of their new emotional support dog.

However, no one- not even Christen- was as excited as Rose Lavelle- little Rose Lavelle, to be specific. She had squealed louder than anyone, pushing her way past her teammates to the front of the group and wrapping her arms around Bailey's neck. None of the rest of the girls had seemed to mind, especially when they heard Rose's elated gasps of "puppy! Mama, look! Puppy!"

When Bailey was led away from the women to eat her dinner, and get a break from the over-stimulation that came from more than twenty grown women all throwing themselves at her, Rose's lip had started to tremble, and Sam had swept her up in her arms, kissed her hair, and reassured her that it was all okay, that she'd see the puppy again tomorrow, and so many days after that!

All Rose had been able to talk about that night during dinner was Bailey. Bailey this, and Bailey that, and how excited she was about Bailey. The other women had just smiled and gently encouraged her excitement, but Sam had needed to pick her up and put her to bed early when she burst into tears at Ashlyn's joking suggestion that Wilma might get jealous. 

"It's okay, sugarplum. You don't need to cry," said Sam as she kissed the little one on the forehead, pulling the covers up over Rose's body. "You can love more than one puppy at the same time. Wilma understands. She loves you, and she's okay with it if you need to pet other puppies sometimes." 

Rose snuggled her stuffed bulldog, affectionately dubbed Wilma Two, against her chest. 

"You sure, Mama?" 

Sam laughed lightly, flicking off the light next to Rose's bed and brushing her hair back. Her little one was just too adorable. 

"I'm sure, darling."

Rose fell asleep with visions of puppies dancing and licking and panting and jumping through her head, happily anticipating all the fun she was going to be able to have with her new puppy friend. She couldn't wait! 

The next morning, Rose was teetering somewhere on the edge of littlespace during the entire practice. She was big enough to follow Vlatko's instructions, but Sam could see the signs that her best friend was close to dropping down and becoming Baby Rose- from the way her eyes widened softly whenever the ball came near her, and the way she needed Sam's help to open her water bottle during a break. But, most of all, Sam could tell that Rose was almost little by the way that Rose kept looking longingly over at the sidelines, thumb hovering near her mouth, to where Bailey was playing fetch with one of the medical staff. 

"Puppy," she mouthed, pointing towards the golden retriever. "Puppy cute."

"I know, bug," said Sam, grabbing onto Rose's arm and turning her back towards the training exercises. "Bailey's super cute, but we're practicing right now. You can play with the puppy later." 

Sam hated to have to ask her little one to focus on practice, a big girl thing, especially when Rose pouted adorably. But, the little girl didn't put up a fuss, and Sam saw no more signs of distraction for the rest of the first part of practice. When Vlatko blew the whistle for a break, and the team streamed back into the locker room, Sam lost sight of her little one.

She tossed her head back and forth, ponytail swinging, searching for Rose. There was no sign of the little girl in the locker room, and her bag sat abandoned. 

Sam asked at least half the team before someone had even a vague idea where Rose was. Pinoe pointed out of the tunnel, and Sam dashed back down to look for her sugarplum. Really, she knew that nothing would be wrong with Rose- there were so many people all around, and there was no way that her little girl had wandered off anywhere where she could get hurt. But Sam, being Sam, always forgot that little Rose would be okay, even if she didn't have eyes on her all the time. 

"Rosie, baby?" 

Sam called out for her little one as she dashed down the tunnel, emerging back out into the light of the field. 

"Baby girl?"

She looked around, and her eyes caught on a sight that made her heart melt. She should have known...

Rose's eyes were shut, and her mouth was open, tongue sticking out just a tiny bit. So, she was napping. But, as adorable as the sight of Rose napping was, there was something that made it even more adorable. 

Bailey was curled up next to Rose, the little girl's arm cast over the puppy. The human's head was resting beside the dog's, and Rose was using her other hand to grip onto her fur. Bailey was wide awake, but not moving whatsoever. Occasionally, her tongue would flick out and she would give Rose a tiny kiss. Sam met the dog's eyes, shoulders relaxing at the sight of her baby all snuggled up with a puppy, safe and clearly in absolute bliss. 

She wasn't playing with the puppy, but Sam knew that this was absolutely just as good.

Sam grabbed her phone out of her pocket, snapping a quick picture of sweet baby Rose, cuddling a puppy. Then, she sat down on the bench, smiling at the scene until practice resumed. 

Chapter Text

Carli clenched her fists, taking another deep breath and counting to ten in her head, which was starting to hurt a bit from the God-awful noise that was coming from the next room. Normally, Hope was a very sweet little girl, very clingy and liable to tell Carli how much she loved her several times in the same sentence. She didn't throw tantrums often, but when she did, they were absolutely epic. 

"Sweetheart," she said, clenching her teeth as she returned from her quick break. "I know you're upset, but it's time for bed." 

"No, " screamed Hope. "Don' wanna!

When she looked down at her little one, it was like something out of a cartoon. Hope was lying on the ground, kicking her legs, rolling around, beating the floor with her fists and wailing miserably. Carli just wanted to pick her up, carry her off to bed, but you only made that mistake with flailing limbs once. 

"I know," said Carli. "But it's bedtime, and it would be so nice if you could listen to Mommy. Mommy's tired, and you're tired, and we are going to bed." 

"NO!"

Carli sighed to herself, rubbing the bridge of her nose and trying her best to keep her cool. She sank down onto the floor, resolved to sit beside Hope until her tantrum faded, and she could get her to bed. She wanted to reach out and stroke her baby girl's hair, but she knew that it was best to just let these things play out and comfort Hope afterwards.

Hope spent at least five more minutes thrashing around on the floor, screeching and crying before she started to tire herself. Her face was beet red, and her hair was sticking to her damp cheeks. Overall, she was the very picture of misery, and Carli just wanted to rock her back and forth and never let her go again.

"It's okay, love," said Carli, taking advantage of the quieting to get her words in. "You're okay."

Hope wailed one more time, sniffing, and then her tantrum was over. Now, Carli reached out and ran a gentle hand through Hope's hair. Her little girl had gone limp, and Carli pulled her gently into her arms, rocking her gently. 

"Hey, baby girl," she cooed. "Do you feel a bit better now?"

Hope nodded, nuzzling into Carli's chest, face buried in her soft shirt.  

"S'eepy, Mommy."

Carli smiled to herself- this was what always happened after Hope's tantrums. It was lucky for her that it was before bedtime this time, rather than in the middle of the day.  

"Okay, baby girl. You want to come to bed with Mommy?" 

Hope nodded again, giving a big yawn, and Carli helped her to her feet. The baby leaned against her shoulder, dragging her feet behind her, exhausted from her tantrum. Carli stripped her out of her day clothes and slid an old tee shirt over her head, and then came battle number two.

"Can you lie down on the bed for me, love?"

Hope shirked backwards, shaking her head back and forth. She knew what was in Carli's hands along with her pajama pants. And she was absolutely not going to have it! She might be small, but she definitely wasn't that small, no matter what Mommy said? 

It didn't matter that Mommy was always right- little Hope was absolutely right this time.

"No pull-up," she whined, still shaking her head. Carli took another deep breath, bracing herself for another argument, hopefully not as bad as the last one. 

"Honey," she said, trying to preempt another tantrum. "I don't want to have this argument. You're Mommy's tiny baby girl, and you need to wear a pull-up for bedtime."

Hope shook her head again, whimpering. No matter how adorable Hope was, Carli wasn't going to back down. Her sweet baby needed to wear pull-ups at night: they had learned that lesson when Hope had wet the bed one night, and been unable to look Carli in the eyes for days in embarrassment.  

"Don' wanna," she whispered, lip trembling even though she had cried herself out. "Not t-teeny."

Carli smiled, stroking Hope's cheek. She didn't buy it for a second- Hope was a little baby girl, and all she needed was to reminded that she was loved, no matter what. 

"Baby," she said, punctuating her sentence with kisses to various parts of Hope's face. "It's okay if you are. I love you, no matter what. Mommy will take care of you, no matter how small you are. So, what do you say? Can Mommy get you into a pull-up? We can snuggle afterwards, until you fall asleep." 

Hope seemed to be struggling with herself, but her little side won the second that Carli kissed her on the forehead once again. 

She melted.

"Mmkay," she whispered, and Carli sighed in relief at being able to avoid a fight. Hope lay back, squirming in discomfort as Carli changed her out of her big girl panties and into a little girl pull-up. 

"There we go," she said, kissing Hope proudly on the cheek again. "That's Mommy's good girl." 

The praise got a smile out of Hope, who let Carli lift her up into the bed and tucked her in, sliding under the covers beside her and pulling her close. Hope snuggled into Carli's side, playing absently with a lock of the younger woman's hair and sucking on her thumb absently.

"Mommy," she whispered, popping her thumb out her mouth and taking the pacifier that Carli offered her. "D'you... 'M s-sorry 'm a b-bad girl."

Carli cooed, pulling Hope closer. They had this conversation after every one of Hope's tantrums, and it broke Carli's heart every single time- the little girl seemed constantly terrified that every tantrum she threw would be one too many for Carli, that her Mommy would walk out the door and leave her all alone and scared and tiny.

"You're not a bad girl," Carli soothed. "I promise, angel. You're not a bad girl, not at all. Mommy loves you, no matter how many tantrums you have. You could have a tantrum every night, and I would still be here. You're loved, Hope. You're so loved, and I will tell you every day, as many times as you need. Do you understand me?" 

Hope wished that she could cry, because she wanted to- this time with relief. She had never felt as loved as she did when she was held against Carli's chest, in a pull-up (even if she really kind of hated them, because Mommy was right and she needed them), just letting herself be a little girl. 

"Love you too, Mommy," she whispered. 

Carli kissed her forehead, and she let herself drift off to sleep. 

Chapter Text

Emily jerked awake. It took her a minute to realize why she was so warm- there was another body pressed against hers. She was being held. 

At first, she wasn't quite sure that she was awake, because this was almost certainly a dream. She had never woken up in someone's arms before, not when she had-

Not when she had gone to sleep little. 

Her heart stopped, and she immediately felt tears pooling in her eyes. God, what was wrong with her? She had been little in front of Kelley, she had told her that she was just a baby! What Kelley must think of her now!

No, no, no.

Emily didn't realize she was squirming, trying to get out of the bed, until a hand stroked her hair. 

"Hey, Em," said Kelley sleepily. "You okay?"

Emily shook her head violently, still trying to untangle herself from the blankets so she could go and hide in the bathroom, far away from the person she had just humiliated herself in front of. 

"Emily," said Kelley, sitting up and wrapping an arm around Emily. "Em, what's wrong?"

All Emily could do was whimper, fighting to get away from Kelley's (warm, comfy) grip. 

"Baby girl," said Kelley. "Tell Mommy what's wrong."

The tears in her eyes burst free and she went limp, sobbing. Kelley cooed sympathetically, flipping Emily around so that the little girl's face was buried in her chest. She stroked her back, making what she hoped were comforting noises. 

"It's okay, love," she soothed. "It's alright, Mommy's here. It's okay, Em."

"'M s-s-sorryyy," Emily choked. "Y-You sh-shouldn' haveta b-be here!" 

Kelley swallowed around the lump in her throat. 

"Hon," she said. "You don't need to talk yet, it's okay. Just let it out."

Emily was almost happy to hear that- she didn't think she had the words to explain how embarrassed she was, and she was glad just to be able to hide her red face in Kelley's warm chest while she tried to figure out how deep the hole she was going to dig to hide herself in forever would be. 

She had gotten to around 30 feet deep by the time she cried herself out, now even more humiliated, and praying for the bed to split in half, and for her half to fall through the ground. 

"Em, hon," said Kelley, still stroking her hair as she had been for Emily's entire bout of tears. "Do you want to tell me what's up?"

Emily didn't. But there was another part of her that really did. Kelley had been so sweet to her last night, she had called herself Mommy. 

"'M... Sh-Shouldn'ta been little. 'S 'barrassing."

Kelley made a sympathetic noise. 

"Oh, honey. Are you... Are you embarrassed that you were small? You don't need to be, Emily. You don't need to be embarrassed for needing a Mommy sometimes. It's okay, whatever you need. I'll be here, Emily. That is, if you want me?"

Kelley seemed nervous when she finished speaking, as if she thought that Emily would shake her head and send her away, that Emily wouldn't want her as a Mommy. 

Mommy's simple reassurance, that it was okay, that she didn't need to be embarrassed, was enough to satisfy Emily's little brain. 

"I d-do," she whimpered. "I w-want you to be my Mommy! Please, be my Mommy!"

Kelley smiled softly, brushing the drying tears off of Emily's cheeks.

"Okay," she said. "I will, baby girl. I'll be here."

Now, Emily wanted to cry again. This time from a whole mess of complicated emotions, all tangled together in her little brain. 

"T-Thank you," she choked. "Mommy, I... I've... I've n-needed you for t-too long!"

Kelley kissed her forehead, rocking her back and forth gently.

"Oh, baby," she whispered. "I'm so sorry I wasn't here before now. I wish I'd known, Em. I'd've been here for you, the whole time." 

"I've been so...so..." 

Now was the time, to tell Mommy everything. Tell her all the secrets that she only told her stuffie in the dead of night, when she was sobbing into his fuzz and wishing she had someone to hold her like Kelley had last night.

"I've b-been s-so lonely," she whimpered. "So sc-scared! N-Needed s'mbody! Needed Mommy ta love me!" 

Kelley seemed like she was on the verge of tears when Emily looked up at her, and the little girl put a warm hand on the older defender's cheek. 

"S-Sorry," she whispered, an edge of panic in her voice. "Did'n mean ta make Mommy sad! Don' leave!"

Kelley took Emily's hand, squeezing it tightly in reassurance. 

"Oh, honey," she said. "No, no. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just sad that my sweet little girl has been so lonely for so long. I wish... I wish I'd been here the whole time. But you never have to be lonely when you're little again, Em. Mommy's gotcha."

They went down to breakfast with Emily clutching onto Kelley's hand. She let the older defender make her a plate, full of a combination of healthy things and a sweet muffin as a treat. She helped Emily hold her fork, and surprisingly, she wasn't embarrassed when their teammates came in. Mommy would explain everything, she would protect her. 

She wasn't alone anymore. 

 

Chapter Text

Emily's eyes flew open the second it started.

"No," she whispered, sounding small even to herself. "No, no, no." 

She had gone to bed teetering on the edge of littlespace, but she hadn't thought she was going to regress. She knew that if Mommy had been at this camp, not still out with her concussion, she would have insisted that Emily wear a pull-up to bed. But that was hard today, given who her roommate was.

Someone had to room with Hinkle. Emily just wished that it wasn't her. 

Speaking of Hinkle, the woman seemed to be stirring- Emily's whimpers must have been louder than she thought they were. The little girl was frantically trying to pull herself out of both bed and littlespace, so that she could strip the bed of her accident before Hinkle woke up and found this out that not only was she little, but she had wet her bed. 

"Emily?"

Hinkle's voice was sleepy, but she was definitely awake. Emily's only hope was to pretend that she was asleep, and lie in her own mess until she was pretty sure the other defender had fallen back to sleep. 

Unfortunately, luck did not seem to be on Emily's side tonight, because she heard a rustling. Hinkle was sitting up in bed, and Emily could feel her eyes on her. 

"What's that... what the fuck is that smell?" 

Emily really tried to keep her sob inside, but she just couldn't. She was so scared- she wished that Mommy was at this camp, 'cause then she would have shared Mommy's room with whoever her roommate was, and Hinkle could have been all on her own. Mommy would have made sure she wore a pull-up, and none of her Aunties would have judged her if she accidentally wet the bed. 

So, now Hinkle definitely knew that she was awake. Emily heard her sniffing, and cried quietly, 'cause it was only a matter of time until her roommate realized what had happened. 

"Are... Is that... Did you wet your fucking bed?"

Emily's sobbing told Hinkle without a doubt what the answer was. 

The little one pulled her stuffie closer, burying her face into the T-Rex's surprisingly soft fur. She tried to block out the other defender's vicious words, but she couldn't hold her ears and her stuffie at the same time! 

"You did,"  spat Hinkle, now standing up. She flicked on the lights and glared down at Emily. "You... What is wrong with you? You disgusting..."

Hinkle took a deep breath, composing herself- which was almost scarier. 

"Why am I even bothering with you?"

Emily sobbed louder- she wished that she had a genie's lamp, because she would rub it right now and then Mommy would be here to take care of her. Or Hinkle would vanish in a poof of smoke. Or maybe the earth would open up and swallow her whole. 

She didn't know where Hinkle was anymore- she knew that she was still in the room, because the door hadn't opened. But, she did know that her entire bottom half was wet and gross, and it was getting cold and she needed to get out of this. But she was getting smaller and smaller by the second, and she didn't think she could do it herself. She didn't know who was in the next room. All she knew that there would be someone who wasn't Hinkle- somebody who would at least be able to wipe her tears away, or maybe give her a hug. 

So, she tapped on the wall. Then, she knocked on the wall. Hinkle glared at her- Emily could feel it boring into the back of her skull. But she was past caring at this point, and she was finally banging on the wall, as loudly as she could, without care about who she woke. 

Hopefully, somebody would come. 

Indeed, someone did. There was a tapping on her door in only a few seconds. Hinkle gave Emily a disgusted look, refusing to go and open it. That left Emily to pull herself out of the bed, bottom half starting to itch because it was all over her, and wrinkling her nose as she cried to stop the smell permeating her nostrils. Maybe Hinkle was right- she was such a gross baby! 

When Emily pulled the door open, it was to find a rather agitated looking Lindsey Horan. But, when Emily's friend saw the state of her, all the annoyance she might have felt at being woken by the older girl's banging disappeared. With no regard for the fact that Emily didn't smell so nice, she pulled her friend into her arms and started petting her hair. 

Emily cried into Lindsey's shoulder, and Hinkle sighed in annoyance at the new interruption to her sleep. Lindsey paid her no mind, maneuvering Emily into the bathroom and guiding her to sit on the toilet lid while she went to strip the bed.

"It's okay, Em," cooed Lindsey from the main room. "Don't you worry, I've gotcha. It's all gonna be okay."

Lindsey balled up the sheets, but left them on the bed. Hinkle glared, and Lindsey glared right back, just daring the woman to say anything to her. She knew that Hinkle had a lot to do with why Emily was sobbing- if she had wet the bed in front of anybody else, there would have been no real need to be scared. 

Going to Emily's drawers, Lindsey removed a pull-up (better late than never, after all- especially for someone who was so clearly going to be in littlespace for a while) and a new pair of pajama pants. Finally, she grabbed Emily's T-Rex off of the bed and took Emily's hand. 

"Come on, sweetheart," she said. "We're going back to my room."

Emily nodded, clutching tightly to Lindsey and following her out of the room, away from the judging eyes. 

Lindsey's roommate for this camp was Crystal, and the North Carolina player gave Emily a nice smile.

"Emily," said Lindsey. "Can Crystal hold your T-Rex while we take a little bath?"

Emily thought about it for a second- she didn't usually like to let other people hold Mr. Rex, but he couldn't come in the tub with her! Besides, she trusted Crystal. So, she nodded, and Crystal tucked the stuffed toy under her arm while Lindsey led Emily to the bathroom.

"We're just gonna take a quick bath, okay?"

Emily nodded, and then finally the icky pajama bottoms were coming off, and it felt so nice! It felt even better when Lindsey pulled the rest of her clothes off and helped her into the warm water. 

Mommy had had Lindsey babysit her before, so Emily didn't resist when the younger woman gently washed her thighs and ass with soap. She would have been really shy about it once, but now it was okay, because she was safe with Auntie Lindsey.

"Good girl," cooed Lindsey. "Does that feel better, sweetheart?"

Emily nodded, nuzzling into Lindsey's arm. The midfielder let her soak for a few more moments, before offering her a hand to help her out of the tub. 

A few minutes later, Emily was all dry, pull-up fastened around her hips and stuffie back in her arms, cuddling against Lindsey, trying to forget the complete humiliation of her night.

Crystal had fallen back asleep, and Lindsey was stroking her back gently. But still, Emily was bothered. 

"Honey," said Lindsey, feeling the tension in Emily's shoulders. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Emily shrugged- she knew what Mommy would say. She would say that Em would feel so much better if she talked about her feelings, because keeping everything in was bad for her.

"Okay," she whispered, trying not to wake Crystal.

"Tell Auntie Lindsey about it, okay?" 

She nodded. 

"I w-wet the b-bed. 'N front a her." 

"I know," soothed Lindsey. "But it's okay, Emily. It's really, really, okay." 

Emily shook her head, starting to sniffle a little bit. 

"B-But... 'M icky! Shoulda wore pull-up!"

Lindsey shushed her softly. 

"Maybe you didn't make a good choice in not wearing your pull-up, but you're not icky. Did she tell you that?"

Emily nodded into Lindsey's soft pajamas, and the younger woman kissed her forehead.

"She's wrong, honey. You're not icky at all. Your Mommy loves you, and I love you. All of us love you, baby girl. She's not very nice, is she?"

Emily shook her head.

"And do we listen to mean people, honey?"

Emily shook her head again, and Lindsey petted her hair. 

"Good girl," she said. "Such a brave girl."

Chapter Text

"Fuck," moaned Christen, head tossed back in pleasure as her wife went to work between her thighs. "Fuck, Tobin! Don't stop!"

She wrapped her hand in her wife's hair, guiding Tobin's mouth as she ground into her face. The striker was trying to be quiet- they weren't alone in the house, after all. But, Mal was fast asleep in her nursery, and so she let a whine of pleasure escape her lips.

"Tobin," she cried again. "More!"

Tobin laughed into her pussy, pulling her mouth away from Christen's pussy and licking her wife's juice off her lips.

"As my queen comm- wait, did you hear that?"

Christen hadn't heard anything- her brain was buzzing. She was silent for a moment, though, listening for whatever sound that Tobin thought she heard. 

"I didn't hear any- is that... the baby monitor?"

Sure enough, another whimper came from the machine on Christen's side table. The two women stayed frozen for another minute, hoping that Mal was just snuffling in her sleep, and would soon return to being quiet. But, quite the opposite happened.

Tiny whimpers turned into obvious cries, and Christen moaned again, for a very different reason. 

"Fuck," she growled, as Tobin removed her head from between her legs. "Babe, will you go get her while I get my pajamas back on?"

Tobin needed no encouragement to hop up, making sure to wipe all traces of Christen's juices off of her lips, and race down the hallway to scoop up their sweet little princess. Meanwhile, Christen dashed to their on-suite, quickly cleaning up so she could be back in bed by the time her wife returned with the baby. 

It barely took thirty seconds before Tobin re-entered their bedroom, a whimpering baby Mal clasped in her arms. The little girl's hands were around her Mama's neck, and she was crying quietly into Tobin's neck: her tears had started to fade the second Mama had scooped her up out of her lonely crib and started carrying her to the big bedroom where Mama and Mommy slept. 

"Hey," said Christen, pulling back the covers so that Tobin could slide back underneath with Mal wrapped in her arms. "There's my baby girl."

Still snuggled against Tobin's chest, Mal reached out one of her hands for Christen. The striker scooted closer to her girls, wrapping her arms around Mal.

"Mommy," whispered Mal, tears slowing even more now that she was wrapped between her Mommies, 'cause they would protect her. As nice as it had been to be plucked out of her crib by Tobin, nothing could compare with the warmth and safety that came from being bookended by Mommy and Mama. 

"Hi, love," cooed Christen. "What's up with my sweet girl?"

Mal sniffled. Sometimes- often, in fact- when she was little, she became very nonverbal, only saying "Mommy" or "Mama" and crying for anything else, from a diaper change to a bottle. It appeared that tonight was going to be one of those nights, leaving the older women to guess at what was wrong with their little princess.

"Hmm," said Tobin as Christen kissed Mal on the cheek, smelling the sweet shampoo that they had put in her hair when they gave her a bath a few hours ago. "Will you nod if Mommy or Mama guesses right?"

Mal nodded, twirling a piece of Christen's hair around her fingers. 

"Okay," said Tobin. "Well, Mama already checked your diaper, so I know it's not that. You've got your stuffie right here, and your paci, so it can't be any of that..."

Christen, smiling adoringly at Mal as the little girl played with her hair while sucking gently on her paci, decided to hazard a guess.

"Did you get cold?"

Mal shook her head, even though it was definitely true that her crib wasn't quite as warm as being cuddled in between Mommy and Mama in their big bed. 

"Did something make a loud noise?"

Tobin had her fingers crossed that that wasn't it. The last thing she needed was to have to explain to her little girl what the noises coming from Mommy and Mama's room had been. Thankfully, Mal shook her head again. 

"Did my sweet little baby girl have an icky dream?"

Mal sniffled, nodding, and Tobin and Christen both cooed sympathetically. They hated the idea, so much, of their angel suffering at all. They couldn't stop her from having nightmares, but if either of them could have, they would in an instant. 

"Oh," sighed Christen. "Poor baby." 

Mal suckled harder on her paci as Tobin gave her a snuggle, planting kisses all over her sweet-smelling hair. 

"But," continued Christen. "You don't need to be scared, precious girl. Mommy and Mama are here. We're here always, and we're gonna protect you from anything. Nothing can hurt you with us here, okay?"

Mal seemed to be dozing off again, and Tobin carefully removed the girl from her lap, pulling the covers up over her as she snuggled into the mattress between Christen and Tobin. Her eyes drifted shut, then popped back open, innocent and scared.

Christen cooed as Tobin stroked their baby's hair. 

"Go to sleep, bunny. We're here, Mommy and Mama are right here. We'll never let anything bad happen to our princess. So, you can sleep. Sleep, my angel."

Even as Christen finished her litany of comforts, Mal's eyes were drifting shut again, and soon enough her breathing had evened out and she was snuffling softly. 

Once they were sure that their baby girl was asleep, Tobin and Christen smiled softly down at her, and then at each other over her head. 

"Sorry you didn't get to cum," whispered Tobin, leaning over to kiss Christen gently. The striker returned the kiss just as softly, shaking her head. 

"It's okay, baby. The little one is more important." 

They fell asleep on either side of their slumbering princess, hands clasped the entire time. Or, at least until Mal needed a diaper change. 

Chapter Text

It was going to be another bad night. She could tell. 

She could feel her brain slipping away from her. She had prepared for this- she always prepared for this, but it never really worked. Maybe it would this time. 

Quickly, quickly, before she got too small to do it, Emily raced around, preparing for one of her little nights. She heated up a bottle of milk- chocolate milk, because she was pretty sure she needed the chocolate- and put it on her bedside table. Next, she pulled Mr. Rex out from under her bed and set him on the pillow, pulling back her covers so that she could slide underneath them real quick. Finally, she dug through her bedside table drawer and pulled out the tiny notebook she kept. 

It was full of things she wrote while she was big. A whole bunch of things, that she wished someone else would say to her, but she had to say to herself. 

Then, she changed into her pajamas and pulled her hair up into pigtails with some scrunchies she had ordered online. She gave her own reflection a tiny smile in the mirror- she looked really cute, if she did say so herself. She loved it when she looked cute, but her heart always sank when she remembered that she was the only one who would ever see how cute she was. 

"Okay," she whispered to herself. "'S okay, Em."

She nodded at her reflection, and then toddled back to her bed, slipping under the covers and pulling Mr. Rex into her arms. Using her free hand, she grabbed the bottle of chocolate milk and took a suckle. Her eyes drifted shut as the warm liquid trickled down her throat. 

She nuzzled her cheek against Mr. Rex's soft fur, smiling softly. Maybe tonight would be better than usual!

Then, her hand shook a little bit. It was hard to hold a bottle- so hard. She was too small to hold a bottle and her stuffie. She really wanted... She wanted Mommy. 

There was only one problem: Mommy only existed in her mind. Her face changed all the time, cycling between her friends, mostly Kelley and Lindsey. Tonight, she latched onto Kelley's face, holding tight to it, wishing that Kelley was here holding the bottle to her lips, cradling her as she suckled. 

It wasn't going to be a better night. It never was. 

She held Mr. Rex tighter, putting the bottle down and already feeling the beginnings of tears pricking at the corner of her eyes. 

At least he was always there. He listened. 

"Mr. Rex," she whispered, voice sounding small to her own ears. "D'you love me?"

She held the stuffed dinosaur's head in her hand, making it nod up and down, switching her voice to match what she hoped he sounded like. Somewhat like whatever she pictured Mommy looking like that night. 

Even though Mr. Rex was a boy dino, he sounded a whole lot like Mommy. 

"Uh huh," she said as the dinosaur. "I love 'ou so m-much, Emmy. You' such a good girl." 

Her voice had started to tremble. 

"T'anks," she whispered. "'ove 'ou too." 

She had started rocking back and forth a little bit, without even knowing it. The tears pricking at her eyes had started to spill gently down her cheeks, just like they did every time she was little. 

"Mommy," she cried, burying her face in Mr. Rex's fur to wipe her tears. "I need you! I p-promise, be s-so good! P'ease! Jus' need you to b-be with me!" 

She reached over to her bedside table and tried to take another suckle of the milk, but she was crying too hard, and she coughed it up and watched it land on her fluffy blankie. This, of course, only made her cry harder, 'cause she didn't wanna clean it! She was too small, too scared. 

In a last, desperate attempt, she reached for the notebook and opened to the very first page. Written there, in Big Emily's handwriting, in pretty purple letters to catch her little brain easily, were the words she had written for herself.

You're a beautiful, sweet baby, and someday somebody will love you so much. Just hang on, and be a brave girl. 

She sniffled, trying to stop crying, trying to cling onto the words.

Maybe, she thought to herself. If you hope hard enough, someone will come. Someone has to. That's how it works in the movies! 

She gave a tiny sob, and then the floodgates opened back up, and she was wailing in misery. Disney movies, the only ones she ever watched while she was a sweet tiny girl, always had happy endings. She had tried wishing on stars, like in Pinocchio or Princess and the Frog. But it hadn't worked yet, and it probably never would. 

"P-Please," she cried, Kelley's face flickering in and out of her imagination, occasionally morphing into Lindsey's, or even into a sweet and kind face that she had never seen before but that she knew loved her so much, and would rock her back and forth and sing her songs and tell her that she was loved. "Please, M-Mommy! 'M tryin' ta hold onnnn, b-but I c-can't be b-b-braaaaveee anym-more! 'M s-sorry, wanna be good! W-Wanna be b-brave, but I c-caaaaan't. P-Please t-tell me 'm your brave g-girl!"

She sobbed in misery, pulling Mr. Rex even closer to her chest and rocking him back and forth. His soft fur was trying to wipe her tears, but there were just too many. 

"I'm s-s-sc-caaaredd, Mommy! N-Need you here wif' meeee! H-Hurt s-so m-m-much! So m-much ouch!" 

Then, she couldn't speak anymore. Mr. Rex wasn't enough to comfort her this time, even though he was the only one who loved sweet baby Emmy. 'Cause she was such a good girl- she'd made such an effort to be a good girl, even though she didn't have a Mommy to give her rules. She ate good food, she went to bed at a reasonable hour, she always made sure to wear her pull-up... 

She tried to talk aloud- she was pretty sure that her imaginary Mommy could hear her better when she talked out loud. But maybe it would be okay this time, because she would choke on her own tears if she tried to talk. 

So, instead, Emily talked in her head. 

Nothing has ever hurt this much, Mommy! Nothing has ever hurt like this... this loneliness. Please, just love me! Call me your sweet little baby girl, tell me that it's gonna be okay. Just help me, please! This is too, too much! This is too hard.

"P'ease," she moaned in pain. She just wanted to fall asleep, and wake up big, and then it would be okay. Or at least better, because she had friends when she was big, but she was all alone when she was little. 

And she would probably always be alone, because no one would ever ever love her. Even though she was sure she could be such a good baby, if anyone ever found out they would hate her. 

She had tried. She had- she had gone online, tried to find a Mommy that way. Not even they had wanted her. 

So, she fell asleep snuggling Mr. Rex, and praying that tomorrow would be better. If she closed her eyes and thought hard enough, she could almost feel Mommy's imaginary hand stroking her hair. 

Chapter Text

"Fuck," whispered Sam, as she ran a hand across the soft fabric of the blanket on her bed. It looked so... so comfy, and she just wanted to climb underneath it, rub it against her cheek and maybe suck on her pacifier while snuggling one of her childhood stuffed animals.

But, of course, she couldn't. Because she was at home- her parents were right downstairs, what if they came up? They could catch her. Besides, Mommy wasn't here. She couldn't be little without Mommy-at least not happy and little!

Reluctantly pulling her hand away from the fluffy blankie, she grabbed her phone and pulled up the text thread between her and Abby. 

Sam: Mommy think im little

Abby responded only seconds later- she must have just been fucking around on her phone. 

Abby: aww, baby girl. do you have your things with you?

Sam: some of it. just want you tho

Abby: oh, pumpkin :( i wish i could be with you. but can you do smth for me? i need you to pull out your little stuff, and get yourself all cozy

Sam: but family here! can't!

Abby swore under her breath. She'd forgotten that Sam was at home with her family. But, family did mean that her little girl would at least have someone to take care of her.

Abby: okay, precious. i know it's scary, but i want you to go and get kristie. she knows you're little, and she'll make sure you take care of yourself.

Sam: k mommy love you

Abby: i love you too, baby. call me later.

Sam texted back her agreement, and then took a deep breath. She knew that her older sister loved her, and was okay with her little self- she had babysat her before, after all. But still, it sometimes made her a little bit nervous to be small away from Mommy. And she was still in her parents' house... 

But Mommy had told her to do something, and so she was gonna do it. After all, Mommy knew best, and she knew that Kristie would take care of her. 

As luck would have it, her sister's room was right across the hall from hers, and so she could just run right across and tap on the older's door. 

"Come in," came a voice, and Sam cautiously pushed the door open. One of her hands was twirling a strand of her hair, and she could tell that her eyes had gone soft. 

"Hey, Sam," said Kristie, looking up from a book. "What's up?"

"Little," she whispered. "Need..."

Kristie hopped up from her bed, understanding immediately. 

"Okay," she said, taking her little sister's hand in her own. "Let's take care of you, kiddo."

Sam gripped onto Kristie's hand for the short walk back across the hall and into her room, letting the elder lead her. She pointed towards the little bag in the corner, the bag that Mommy made sure she took everywhere with her. Kristie guided her to sit on the bed, and Sam grabbed the blanket in her fist. The elder sister grabbed the entire bag, pulling out Sam's pacifier as she walked back towards the bed. 

"Alright," she said, handing the paci over to the younger. "Can you lie back for me, Sammy?"

Sam popped the pacifier into her mouth and started sucking on it, and the familiar motion calmed her. She obeyed Kristie, snuggling back into her pillows.

"Okay," said Kristie. "We're going to get you changed into a pull-up now. I know it's a bit scary," she said, seeing Sam's lip start to tremble. Pull-ups were one thing that Mommy made sure she wore, because whenever little Sam didn't wear her pull-ups, bad things sometimes happened. Kristie knew this- she had put Sam in pull-ups before, and it always hurt her heart to see how nervous her sister got.

"I know it's scary," she repeated. "But, your big sister is gonna take really good care of you, okay?"

Sam nodded shyly as Kristie unbuttoned her jeans, sliding them down her legs along with her panties. She grabbed a pillow from beside her head, using it to cover her reddening face. Kristie quickly grabbed a pull-up and fastened it around Sam's hips, followed by a pair of sweatpants. 

"There we go," she said softly. "All done, baby girl. I'm so proud of you." 

Sam slowly pulled the pillow away from her face and met Kristie's eyes. Her big sister was smiling down at her, eyes filled with absolute love. Sam returned the smile, a tiny and shy smile. She had forgotten how safe Kristie made her feel. It wasn't quite as good as being cuddled up with Mommy, but it was almost as good. 

"T'anks," she whispered, and Kristie dipped down and kissed her on the forehead. Sam reached her hand out and stroked it softly across her sister's cheek, and Kristie's smile grew bigger. 

"You're such a sweetie, Sam," she said. "Are you hungry?"

Sam nodded, but then a huge weight crashed down into her stomach. 

"B-But... Ma and Da..."

"Ah," said Kristie. "Okay. I'll go and get you some food, kiddo. Do you want a bottle?"

Sam struggled with herself- she really wanted a bottle, but what if Mom and Dad caught Kristie making her one? They would have so many questions, and she didn't know how her sister would be able to explain it without revealing her secret.

"It's okay, Sam," she said. "I won't let Mom and Dad see me. Don't you worry."

Sam nodded- she trusted Kristie. Her sister was gonna make sure that she had a nice bottle and some food, and she wasn't gonna get caught.

It was always hard to be alone when she was little, even for a few minutes. Even back home with Abby, whenever her Mommy left the room or wasn't in Sam's direct line of sight, she could feel her heart start beating a little bit faster, and she couldn't calm down fully until she had a big person back in the room, there to take care of her. 

She dug through the bag that Kristie had left on the bed and pulled out her bunny, then grabbed another one of her childhood stuffed animals from the corner of her bed. It was a teddy bear, a big one who she could snuggle super close along with bunny. 

She buried her face in the teddy's fur, breathing quickly until she heard her older sister's feet on the stairs. 

"Hey, Sammy," Kristie said brightly, coming back into the room and making her way straight to the bed. She hopped back up onto it and sat beside her little sister. Sam immediately leaned against her shoulder, pulling her head out from the bear's soft fur. 

"Look what I got," she said, holding up a nice bowl of fruit- blueberries and raspberries- and a full bottle.

Sam smiled, reaching for the bottle. Kristie handed her the bowl of fruit instead. 

"Let's eat some food first," she said. "Then I'll give you your bottle."

Sam nodded and grabbed a handful of the fruit, popping it into her mouth and chewing it. The different flavors of the berries mingled together in her mouth, and Kristie smiled at the sight of her. Her big sister lifted up her hand and used the sleeve of her sweatshirt to wipe off the juice around Sam's lips. 

"You're so cute," said Kristie, kissing Sam on the cheek. After Sam had eaten her berries, Kristie set the bowl on her bedside table and grabbed the bottle. Sam's little heart was pounding in excitement- having a bottle always made her feel so little, so safe and cozy. 

Instead of handing the bottle to Sam to feed herself, Kristie gently pulled her little sister down to lean against her shoulder. Taking it one step further, Sam scooted over into Kristie's lap, slumping down so that her sister's arm was behind her head, holding her up. 

"Aww," said Kristie. "What a sweet girl." 

Sam opened her mouth like a baby bird, and Kristie popped the bottle in between her lips. The younger sister started suckling at it immediately, the warmed liquid sliding down her throat and the coziness and safety of being wrapped up in her older sister's arms sent her further down into littlespace. 

"There you go," cooed Kristie. "Such a good baby."

Sam's eyes had drifted shut in bliss, but once the milk was gone, they flew back open.

"Oh, oh," said Kristie. "What's wrong, Sammy? You can go to sleep if you want."

"Gotta call Mommy 'fore bed," she whimpered, and Kristie laughed lightly.

"Oh, honey," she said. "It's not bedtime yet- it's just naptime. We can call Abby before you go to bed."

Sam let her sister's hands stroking through her hair calm her, 'cause Kristie was right. It wasn't even quite dark yet! There was plenty of time."

She cuddled closer into Kristie's warm body, drifting off to sleep in her sister's arms. 

"There you go," whispered the elder, kissing her sweet little sister's forehead as Sam fell asleep. "I love you, Sammy." 

Chapter Text

If anyone were to ask, Christie Pearce wouldn't miss a beat before launching into a discussion of everything she loved about being a professional soccer player. It was a dream, really, but she would have taken a deep breath after extoling the positives, and then talked about the one thing that wasn't as great. 

"Bye, loves," she said into her phone, smiling when Rylie and Reece chorused their own goodbyes. Her smile lingered for a few moments at the memory of her girls' voices, before fading into a twinge of sadness. She missed her daughters, missed them so much. She flopped back onto her pillow, tapping her foot absently. 

Then, she heard a strange noise from the bed beside her. At first, she wasn't quite sure what it was. It almost sounded like one of her girls, when they had just woken up from a nightmare. But her roommate was Kelley, a grown woman. A grown woman who was certainly not having nightmares at seven in the evening. 

She stilled her foot, looking over at the Kelley-shaped lump in the bed. Yes, she was definitely whimpering miserably. The question was, why?

Christie could never stop her motherly instincts from coming out to play, especially when it came to some of the younger women on the team. She was sure that they sometimes got sick of it, but she really couldn't help herself. If she couldn't mother her own daughters while she was at a camp or a tournament, she was sure as hell going to mother the heck out of any younger teammate who might need it. 

"Kelley?"

The younger woman gave no sign that she had heard her, and so Christie rose from the mattress and took the several steps required to reach her teammate. She wasn't quite sure where the different parts of Kelley's body were underneath the covers, and so she sat down on the edge of the bed and wound her fingers through those on the other hand while she talked.

"Kelley, is something wrong?" 

The young defender didn't answer her in words, but the drawn-out whimper of misery was answer enough. 

"Okay," said Christie. "Do you want to talk about it?" 

The only response she got was another whimper- this one sounded slightly tearier than the first. 

"Kell," she said, "I'm going to pull back the covers. You don't have to talk to me, but I just need to make sure that you're alright."

Kelley made a weak attempt to stop her older teammate from pulling the covers away from her, but she was no match for a Christie who was intent on mothering her- or at least making sure that she wasn't dying. 

Kelley's head was on the pillow, but she was curled up in a lump, shaking slightly. Her knees were up by her chest, and she had one arm wrapped around them. Her other hand, however, was what gave her slight pause. 

The young defender's fist was curled, and she seemed to be struggling to pull her thumb out of her mouth. Her face had gone completely red, and she looked like the tears dripping down her cheeks were about to worsen. She was trying, so hard, to stop sucking on her thumb, but she didn't seem to be able to.

"Oh, Kelley," said Christie, reaching out a tentative hand. She wanted to run it through Kelley's hair, but she wasn't sure if the young defender would want her to do that. "Honey, it's okay." 

Kelley whimpered around her thumb, trying to roll over and bury her face in the pillow. She shook her head.

"D-Didn' mean ta... S-S-Sorryyyy," she cried. Now, the older woman did stroke a hand through Kelley's hair, trying to calm her down like she would Rylie or Reece when they were crying. The fact that Kelley was sucking on her thumb made her think even more of her daughters. 

"You don't need to be sorry, Kelley. Can I hold you?" 

Kelley didn't nod, but nor did she shake her head. Christie just kept petting her hair, gently holding the hand that was in her mouth to keep her from pulling her thumb out- it was clearly bringing her some form of comfort. 

"Shh, Kelley," she said. "You're gonna be okay." 

When Kelley looked up at her with big eyes, tears dripping from the corners and down her round cheeks, Christie felt her motherly instincts kick into full gear. Her teammate looked so small, so innocent and sad, and so Christie continued to stroke her hair while whispering comforting words in an attempt to calm her. 

It took a few minutes for Kelley to stop crying, but Christie was patient.

"Shh," she cooed. "It's okay, Kelley. I'm right here, you're alright." 

"S-Sorry," repeated Kelley shakily. "'M... 'M... D-Didn' mean ta c-c-cry."

Kelley's voice still sounded small, even though the worst of the tears had stopped, and Christie briefly wondered what was going on. The defender was still sucking on her thumb, almost certainly becoming wrinkled by now, and her eyes were still wide, innocent, and... afraid. 

"No, no," she said. "You don't need to be sorry, sweetheart. You never need to apologize for crying. I'm here for you, if you want to talk about anything." 

Kelley seemed to be having a debate with herself, sucking harder on her thumb. 

"Gotta... You g-gotta prom'se not ta be m-mad with me!" 

This statement did set off alarm bells in Christie's head- Kelley sounded like Rylie, whenever she had done something she wasn't supposed to do. But, this was her teammate. She hadn't spilled juice on the couch, she hadn't broken a picture frame by running in the house when she wasn't supposed to... In all likelihood, Kelley had done absolutely nothing wrong, and was about to tell Christie something that was very difficult for her to talk about. 

"I promise, Kelley. I won't be angry with you, and I won't judge you. You can tell me." 

Kelley shuddered once more, and then her thumb burst out of her mouth, as well as a stream of words, so fast and jumbled that Christie almost had trouble deciphering them. 

"I... 'M... F-Feel sm-smallllll," she wailed. "Hasn't... Don't r-r-reallyyy h-happen real oft-ten, j-jus'... jus' dunno whyyy!"

Christie had thought that nothing could surprise her anymore. But Kelley's confession did give her momentary pause, the cogs in her brain turning as she tried to understand what Kelley was telling her. But, she shook off any surprise that she felt- she had to be here for Kelley. And really, she couldn't help but be happy that she was being given the opportunity to take care of someone, to help them and comfort them.

"That's okay," she said. "It's okay, sweetheart. If you feel small, you can be small. Do you want me to stay with you?"

Kelley's eyes went impossibly wider.

"R-Really?"

Christie nodded, bringing her hand down and rubbing Kelley's shoulder. 

"Of course, baby."

The term of endearment just slipped out, and it made Kelley smile, and put her thumb back into her mouth. The little girl scooted closer to Christie, and the older woman just pulled her into her arms, cradling her in her lap. Kelley leaned against her shoulder, wiping her tears off on the shoulder of her shirt.

"Hi, honey," she said softly to Kelley, and the little one's smile widened. "Should we head for bed?"

Kelley gave her a tiny pout, and Christie had to stop herself from laughing at how completely adorable it was. But, she nodded. 

"Mmkay, Christie," she said. "You... You help m-me?"

Christie nodded, scooping Kelley up and carrying her to the bathroom. The older woman helped her brush her teeth and wash her face, holding Kelley's hand in her own and guiding her movements. Kelley flushed crimson when Christie helped her sit down on the toilet and go to the bathroom, but when she was done she leaned into the older woman's side happily.

Christie tried to deposit her younger teammate into her own bed, but the little one clung to her like a koala. 

"Aww," said the older woman. "Do you want to sleep in my bed, darling?" 

Kelley nodded shyly, and Christie tucked her beneath the covers before climbing in herself. Immediately, the little girl snuggled into her chest. Automatically, Christie stroked her hair, soothing her towards sleep. 

"Goodnight, honey," she said as Kelley began to snore lightly. "Thank you for trusting me."

She wasn't quite sure what happened to put Kelley into a little headspace, but she was grateful for it. She missed her daughters, but caring for Kelley helped fill the ache in her chest a bit. 

Chapter Text

"No!"

Kelley screeched, trying to crawl underneath the couch to avoid Hope, and the pull-up in her hands. She had almost made it all the way behind it, to the point where Hope would actually have to move the couch to get her. 

Of course, she could if she had to. But it was far preferable to be able to get a hold on Kelley's ankle and yank her out from underneath. 

"Come on, Kelley," said the older woman. "We need to get you ready for bed."

"No," screamed Kelley, flailing her limbs and trying to get away from Hope's grasp. Hope tried to hold her little girl down, keep her safe from hitting any furniture or accidentally injuring herself. But then, one of Kelley's legs broke free and collided with Hope's side. 

The older woman gasped in pain- Kelley's legs were incredibly strong, and it was a good thing that she wasn't wearing any shoes.

At Hope's cry of pain, Kelley stopped flailing long enough for Hope to wrap her arms around her and get her screaming baby under control.

"Kelley Maureen O'Hara," she growled, trying not to let the full extent of her anger seep into her voice. Kelley only behaved like this when she was very tired, and yet trying to avoid her bedtime routine. Yet, she had never gone so far as to kick Hope before, and Hope knew that she absolutely could not let this slide.

"Kelley," she said again, taking a deep breath to calm herself. "That was absolutely unacceptable." 

Kelley tried to say something, but Hope didn't give her the chance, instead flipping her little girl over her lap. Kelley struggled at first, but once she realized the position she was in, she collapsed and started to whimper.

"Mommy," she whispered. "Mommy, I-"

"Kelley," said Hope, heart hurting already at the sound of the tears welling in Kelley's eyes, but knowing that she had to stay strong and not allow herself to break down and not punish Kelley when she absolutely deserved to be punished. 

"Baby girl," said Hope. "You're getting a spanking, and then we're going to talk about this. I want you to count."

Kelley whimpered again.

"H-How many, Mommy?" 

"It depends on how you behave, Kelley. If you're a good girl and don't fight Mommy, then only ten. If not... well, I'll have to double it, sweetheart."

She couldn't help but let the term of endearment fall from her lips. She couldn't leave Kelley without a little comfort before her spanking.

"Do you understand me, Kelley?"

Kelley nodded tearfully, and then Hope began to spank her. She started gently, lightly.

"One," whispered Kelley, and then followed it up with two and three. 

As soon as Hope landed blows number four, five and six, Kelley's voice grew shakier and shakier. By the time she counted the last four swats, she was sobbing and her words were nearly incomprehensible. 

Hope let it go. 

"Shh, honey," she whispered, pulling Kelley up into her arms and rocking her gently. "It's all over, baby girl. You took your spanking so well."

Kelley was still crying, snuggling into Hope's shoulder and whimpering out her apologies. 

"Shh," soothed Hope. "Mommy's here. It's all over. It's all forgiven." 

Kelley was sobbing into her shoulder, the little girl's snot spreading across her nightshirt. Hope didn't care, just rocking Kelley until the little girl's sobs faded into sniffles. 

"There, honey," cooed Hope. "You're okay. Now, Mommy does need to talk to you about how you just behaved." 

She could feel Kelley's blush through her shirt, and no matter how she hated to, she lifted Kelley's chin and forced the little girl to look into her eyes. 

All the anger was gone from them, the only emotions were love, and a desire to teach her baby girl that what she had done wasn't okay. 

"Kelley, baby girl," she said. "I know that you don't want to go to bed, but you can't fight Mommy like that. I hate spanking you, Kelley, but I need you to remember that, when you're little, Mommy is in charge. Do you understand that?"

Kelley nodded, blush deepening- she was ashamed. 

"Yes, Mommy."

"My smart girl," cooed Hope. "So, that means that you need to listen when Mommy tells you to go to bed, you need to let Mommy get you into your pull-up, and you are never ever allowed to physically hurt Mommy, yourself, or anybody else. Okay, princess?" 

Kelley nodded again, and Hope gave her a kiss on the forehead, then scooped her up to bring her to the nursery to get ready for bed. 

 

Chapter Text

The women of the USWNT were... something else.

It had only taken Vlatko one day with them to figure that one out, when Emily and Rose had decided to officially welcome him with a fully choreographed dance- all he had been able to do was blink at them, watching their big finish and jazz hands. He was pretty sure that his face was a better reward for them than any applause would have been. 

That had been followed by walking in on Christen sitting on Tobin's lap, kissing her neck in what they had thought was an empty locker room, and Tobin Known-For-Being-Chill Heath had given him such a furious look that he had actually been a little bit afraid while Christen blushed furiously and couldn't look him in the eye for the rest of the day.

So yes, they were crazy, and he was getting used to it. But he had no idea what the fuck was going on here. 

"Come here, pumpkin," said Lindsey Horan, fighting to keep her voice steady as she was reaching underneath a bench and attempting to coax out a clearly distressed Emily Sonnett, who was flinching away from her. "It's okay, baby girl, you're not in any trouble." 

Vlatko seriously tried to ignore them- this was team business, and if he had been told one thing by all the old staff, it was to let the team handle team business. They didn't generally take kindly to coaches trying to intervene in their affairs, and he would rather not be hated by any of these women- some of them could be seriously scary, when they wanted to. But, as he walked past the scene, he found it impossible not to hear the soft little words Emily was whimpering.

"No, Mommy," she cried, on the verge of sobbing uncontrollably. "You gonna be maaaaaaddd!"

Lindsey shook her head, still trying to grab hold of Emily to pull her out and into her arms to comfort her.

"No, baby girl," she soothed as Vlatko tried to wrap his head around what he was hearing and seeing. "It was an accident! Mommy doesn't get mad when you have accidents, I won't ever be mad at you for having an accident. Come on, Em, baby-"

Vlatko must have made a small noise, a sigh of disbelief or a squeak of his shoe on the floor, because Lindsey whipped her head around and caught sight of him, trying not to look at the scene in front of him. 

"Coach," she said, at first looking like a deer caught in the headlights but quickly replacing that expression with one of determination, a kind he had only ever seen when he saw mothers protecting their children. "I-"

"It's okay, Linds," said another voice, accompanied by a pair of footsteps. "I've got this. You take care of Em, I'll explain everything. Don't worry." 

"Thank you," said Lindsey, relieved to be able to return her full attention to Emily, who had begun sobbing loudly as wave after wave of emotions flooded over her- it had been quite a big day, for such a little girl. 

Becky stopped in front of the mirror to retie her braid, and Vlatko followed her dumbly from the room as Lindsey continued to attempt to pull Emily out from underneath a bench and reassure her that having accidents was okay for little baby girls, even when they were at practice. Mommy wasn't mad, and she would love it if Emily would just come out so that she could get her all cleaned up and comfy again. 

"Sorry," said Becky, sitting down beside the coach on the bench as the other women finished their lunch break. Alyssa made to come over, but Becky gave a tiny shake of her head and returned her attention to explaining the situation to her incredibly confused coach. "Emily had a long night last night, so Lindsey warned us that she might be a little bit emotional today. Normally she wouldn't be crying or hiding like that."

Vlatko just blinked.

"A... Huh? What was going on with them, Becky? Is Emily okay?" 

Becky nodded, holding back a laugh at the expression on Vlatko's face- he seemed so startled, and completely unaware as to what on earth was happening, or what to do. 

"Emily's fine," she said. "She's just little right now. Normally it doesn't happen during practice, but, like I said, Lindsey texted the group chat that Emily couldn't fall asleep last night and so she'd probably slip today." 

Vlatko had about a million questions, but the first one was the simplest, and he was completely sure that it made him sound like a complete idiot.

"What?"

By the time Becky was finished explaining everything, Vlatko's mind was racing. Becky had refused to tell him who the littles on the team were, saying that it wasn't her place to tell, but hinting that he'd probably end up finding out anyway, and that he absolutely should not look at them any differently, and especially not weirdly, because not only would the little ones get incredibly upset, but he'd have an army of angry mamas to deal with, for making their little ones cry. 

He tried to avert his eyes from Emily and Lindsey when he walked back through the locker room, but a tiny movement caught his eye. 

Emily, now sitting curled up on Lindsey's lap and wearing a new pair of shorts as her Mommy stroked her hair and read her a book which had appeared out of nowhere, waved shyly at him. 

He smiled, and waved back, and his heart beat a little faster at the sight of the brilliant smile which lit up Emily's face. When he wrapped up practice, he saw Alyssa tucked underneath Becky's arm, the older woman stroking her back lightly and whispering something into her ear. Whatever the words were, they made Alyssa's face turn from a grumpy, sad- almost pouting- expression, to one of relaxation, and she snuggled closer into the defender's side.

He didn't ask, but he thought he might have figured out another little.

As he was driving back, he pinched the bridge of his nose and considered how he was going to phrase his text to Jill.

It would have been nice, he thought, to have a little warning. 

What on earth had he gotten himself into?

Chapter Text

She still couldn't quite process it. Her mind was reeling, and if she thought about it too hard, she could feel tears start to well in her eyes. She had known in the back of her mind that this was a possibility- likely, even- but that didn't make it better.

She had cycled through everything in her head, multiple times, but she kept returning to two indisputable facts.

One: she wasn't important enough to keep. Portland had so many quality players already, why would they need Emily? 

But that wasn't even what was bothering her the most. She knew, intellectually, that everyone in Orlando was lovely, and she was even a little bit excited to see what it had to offer, and what she could bring to their struggling defense. But all of that was secondary, unimportant, when compared to the fact that, once she left Portland, she'd be leaving Lindsey behind.

"Come here, precious," said the taller woman, scooping Emily up into her arms. It was only when Lindsey used the pad of her thumb to wipe away a tear that Emily realized she was sniffling softly, moisture running down her cheeks. Emily leaned her head against Lindsey's shoulder, being rocked back and forth in her Mommy's arms sending her down into littlespace right away. Of course, this only made the tears come faster.

She heard the sound of a door opening, and felt something soft beneath her back. Mommy stroked a hand through her hair before promising Em that she'd be right back, that she was just going to get a pull-up for her precious little baby and then she would be right back to give her beautiful girl some snuggles.

Emily tried to call out for her, but the tears were caught in her throat. Besides, she couldn't think about how to say the two simple syllables, all she could think about was how, in almost no time at all, she wouldn't have Mommy anymore. She would be a long long long way from Mommy, and Mommy would probably forget all about her, and she would be tiny and alone in Orlando. 

Lindsey gently pulled Emily's clothes off of her. The little girl was almost completely limp, other than the shaking from her sobs, and so absolutely no help to her Mommy at all. 

"I've gotcha, princess," said Mommy, raising Emily's arms above her head for her and sliding a comfy-cozy sweatshirt onto her top half. The sweatshirt smelled like Mommy, and it made Emily cry harder, because she wasn't gonna be able to smell Mommy anymore. 

"Shh, shh," Mommy tried to comfort her. "Mommy's here, baby girl." 

Lindsey kept one hand on Emily's thigh while she tossed her jeans and panties onto the floor, to be picked up later. The little girl could feel her brain getting smaller and smaller as Mommy slid the pull-up over her hips. She was so small, just a tiny little baby who needed Mommy, who couldn't be far away from Mommy, no, no, nononononononononoNO!

She let out a wail, full of heartbreak and terror, so loud that she didn't hear Lindsey choke back a sob. She was so small that she didn't realize that Lindsey had wrapped her up in a diaper, rather than a pull-up. She didn't know anything, except how scared she was and how much she needed to be held right now. 

Lindsey joined her on the bed without bothering to put sweatpants or leggings or anything except the diaper on her bottom half. The taller woman pulled the covers up over them, cradling Emily against her chest and rocking them both back and forth. 

"Shh," she cooed, trying desperately to hold back her own tears. "Mommy's here, Em. You're safe, you're safe, and you're so loved." 

Emily was still shaking with sobs, face pressed into Mommy's chest and tears soaking her shirt. The diaper crinkled as she pressed even closer. 

"M-M-M-" 

She couldn't even get the simple word out- she was too small, crying too much. 

She didn't know how long Lindsey held her- it was long enough for the taller woman to cry softly through her own heartbreak, tears falling into Emily's silky hair and chest feeling like it was being caved in. It was long enough for Emily to begin hiccuping through her sobs, long enough for her bladder to twinge and flood the diaper. She was still crying, but the tears were beginning to slow. A little girl could only cry for so long before she ran out of them, after all. 

"Okay," whispered Lindsey, swallowing around the lump in her throat at the pain of having to let go of Emily, even for the minute it would take to change her. 

"Okay," repeated the taller woman. "Let's get you into a new diaper, my sweet princess." 

Emily didn't protest the change- her sobs had turned into gasps and hiccups by this point, and she simply lay there while Lindsey used one of her strong Mommy arms to lift Emily's legs and slide the new diaper underneath her. 

She made quick work of the tabs, then picked Emily up out of the bed, bouncing her gently while she carried her around the room, humming softly to her. 

"Mommy's here," she whispered. "Mommy loves you so much, Emily."

The sobs had taken quite a toll on the baby, and her limpness was slowly but surely turning into the limpness of sleep. She was beginning to doze off against Lindsey's shoulder, and so the younger woman returned to the bed, using her knees to move several pillows to the headboard. She leaned against them with Emily in her, the little girl with her cheek resting against one of Lindsey's soft breasts. 

Lindsey continued talking to her, savoring the beauty of having her little one in her arms, maybe for one of the last times. Before she knew it, Emily was sound asleep against her chest, hopefully dreaming happy little girl dreams.

Lindsey kept one arm wrapped around Emily, making sure the little girl was still steady and sleeping against her chest. Using her other arm, she pulled open a drawer and fished around until her fingers found Emily's pacifier. 

She popped it into the baby's mouth and smiled adoringly at the way, without even stirring, Emily accepted it and began suckling. 

Then, she grabbed her phone. 

Emily had thoroughly cried herself out- she was not going to wake up, even if Lindsey talked quietly on the phone. Unless she yelled, or shook the baby, Emily wasn't going to wake up until she wanted to. 

She scrolled through her contacts- it wasn't very long until she came upon one that she knew would be her best bet. She pressed the call button.

Ali answered on the second ring, and Lindsey could hear the sounds of dogs running and playing in the background, accompanied by Ashlyn's voice squealing adoringly at them. 

"Hey, Linds," said Ali quietly. "How are you doing?"

Lindsey swallowed around a lump in her throat, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. 

"I... It's pretty rough," she whispered. "But, I... What I'm feeling doesn't matter right now. I have to make sure she's going to be okay."

Ali made a sympathetic noise, and Lindsey could hear that one of the dogs had hopped up onto her lap. The young midfielder continued.

"Ali," she said. "When... When she comes down there... I... I'm sorry to ask this of you-"

Ali cut her off, and Lindsey could hear the determination filling her voice.

"You don't need to apologize," said Ali. "When she comes down here, we've got her. You'll always be her Mommy, but Ash and I... We'll make sure that she knows she's not alone, that she can come to us anytime, big or little. We'll take care of her."

Lindsey choked out her thanks while absently stroking Emily's hair. 

"She... I'll send you an email with everything you need to know about her. She's such a sweet, fun little girl- just like big Emily, really. We all know that Sonnett's just a... just a big kid anyway." 

Lindsey couldn't hold back a sob. She bit her lip to stop the noise from coming out- she didn't want to accidentally wake Emily, especially not with the sound of her breaking down. 

"It's gonna be okay, Lindsey," said Ali quietly. "I know it seems like the end of the world now, and I'm not gonna lie to you. That hole in your heart is always going to be there, until you can be with her every day again. But you'll always be her Mommy, and she'll always be your baby girl. Auntie Ali and Auntie Ash will make sure she remembers how loved she is." 

Lindsey thanked Ali, and hung up the phone. The screen flashed a text notification, and she opened her phone to see that it was a message from Alex. 

Another promise to keep an eye on Emily, to make sure that she knew she could always come to Alex if she was feeling little, or even if she just needed anything.

It was going to be hard, it was going to be horrible. But, hopefully, with the help of their Orlando friends, they were going to be okay. 

 

Chapter Text

Tobin tapped on Lindsey's door, listening for any sounds to indicate the presence of the younger woman. She heard nothing- no music, no Vampire Diaries, no anything. But, the lights were on. Lindsey was definitely in there.

"Lindsey," she said, tapping again. "Linds, I know you're in there. Come on, open up. I brought popcorn!" 

Normally, the thought of sneaking unhealthy food while binge watching a teen show would send Lindsey running to the door, throwing it wide and pulling Tobin in, Netflix already queued up on her laptop. 

But, nothing.

And, when Tobin pressed her ear to the door, she could've sworn she heard the soft sound of tears. 

"Lindsey Horan, I am coming in," she said, before pushing the door open and looking around the room. Lindsey wasn't on her bed, and she wasn't in her comfy chair. But, the sound of sniffling grew louder- someone was definitely crying. 

"Sweetie," she said, putting the bag of popcorn down on the counter. "It's Tobin, where are you?"

A slight movement beside Lindsey's bed was her clue. Just a twitch. 

A twitch that looked suspiciously like a foot, tapping anxiously as the owner tried to stifle her crying. 

She raced over and pulled back the covers to reveal, just as she had suspected, Lindsey Horan. 

But, this Lindsey seemed... off. She was curled up in a little ball, holding a stuffed animal to her chest, and her other hand was rubbing furiously at her eyes with a clenched fist. 

"Lindsey," said Tobin, tossing the blanket aside and kneeling down next to her younger teammate. "Linds, what's wrong?" 

Lindsey seemed like she was trying to speak, but at the same time she was wriggling away from Tobin's hands, further towards the bed. Before she could flee under it, Tobin grabbed her ankle and tried to pull her back. Lindsey was, however, still wiggling and trying to escape her, so Tobin used her other hand and all of her strength to pull the younger woman back out.

She felt a bit bad about it when she heard how Lindsey wailed, but there was no way she could figure out what was going on with her unless she had her out from beneath the bed. Normally, Tobin would wait for Lindsey to come to her on her own and tell her what was wrong, but this seemed different. 

"Come on, Linds," she said, pulling her younger teammate into her arms and rocking her gently. "Honey, what's wrong?" 

Lindsey was still sobbing, stiff in Tobin's arms, squeezing onto her stuffed panda bear with one hand. 

"Shh, sweetie," said Tobin, rocking her back and forth, still trying to calm her. "It's okay, Lindsey, it's okay. It's gonna be okay."

Lindsey went limp, dead weight in Tobin's arms, still crying inconsolably and letting her panda bear fall to the floor. 

It took the younger woman a while to stop crying, and when her sobs had faded into sniffles, Tobin decided that it was time to try and move them back to the bed. Lindsey wasn't much help, but Tobin hadn't done weight training for years for nothing.

"Come on, honey," said Tobin after she had gotten herself and Lindsey onto Lindsey's bed. "Talk to me." 

Lindsey didn't say anything, but she made a small noise and pointed towards the floor, where her panda bear rested limply. 

"Do you want your bear, honey?"

Tobin didn't quite notice how her voice slipped down into an octave that she normally only used with her siblings' kids- and the occasional dog- but she did notice how Lindsey reacted. 

The younger woman snuggled closer into Tobin's side as she reached down beside the bed and grabbed the leg of her stuffed animal. She pressed it into Lindsey's arms, and the younger woman immediately rubbed it against her face.

"Lindsey?"

"'M sorry," whispered Lindsey, and Tobin shushed her gently, noting that her voice sounded... smaller. Not quite like the voice which she thought would be talking at the TV right now. 

"Why are you sorry, Linds?"

Lindsey sniffled, holding her bear tighter and burying her face in Tobin's side. The older woman could just barely make out her response.

"Not 'posed ta... ta... b-be... 'M so s-s-small."

Tobin stroked Lindsey's hair, pulling the covers over them. 

"It's okay, Lindsey," she said, trying to think of what she could say to comfort the distraught girl. "It's okay to be homesick, or... or upset, or small, or whatever you are right now. I just want you to know that I'm here for you, okay?"

Lindsey raised her head, leaving behind a wet spot on Tobin's shirt. Her tearstained eyes met Tobin's, and the older woman was reminded just how young Lindsey really was when she saw the innocent, wide eyed look on her face. 

"R-Really?"

Her mouth was slightly open, and she was staring up at Tobin with such trust, such faith that the older woman would make it all okay. Tobin pressed a kiss to Lindsey's hair and ran a hand across her cheek. 

"Really, honey," she said. "Whatever you need, I'm right here. Now, do you wanna tell me what you meant by small?"

Lindsey's face fell, and her lip began to tremble slightly.

"Y-You- gonna hate m-me! C-Can't lose-"

"Shh, shh," cooed Tobin, pulling her closer. "I could never hate you, Lindsey. Not at all. You're not gonna lose me, sweetie. Please, I just want to help you. Tell me what you meant, lovely."

Lindsey looked like she was about to start crying again, and Tobin felt panic rising in her chest. She absolutely couldn't stand to see her friend crying again, especially not the way she'd been crying a few minutes earlier. 

"P-Promise not gonna hate me?"

Tobin nodded, squeezing Lindsey tighter. 

"I promise, Lindsey." 

Holding her bear to her chest for comfort, Lindsey took a deep breath and told Tobin. 

"I-I... 'M not eighteen right n-now."

Tobin's mind reeled, thinking about what Lindsey had just said. She might have taken too long thinking, because she heard the younger woman start to whimper in terror, that Tobin was breaking her promise and really hated her so much and was about to leave and tell everyone that Lindsey was a freak, and then everything would be over and Lindsey could never show her face again and-

"That's okay," said Tobin. "How old are you?"

Lindsey collapsed in relief against the older woman, and Tobin pulled her onto her lap, giving her the snuggles that she'd been craving all day, since the rough practice yesterday. In answer to Tobin's question, Lindsey shrugged. She didn't really know. All she knew was that she was safe with Tobin, and that the older woman could chase away the scary thoughts and feelings and make it all better for at least a little while. 

Tobin stayed with her that night, feeding her dinner, making sure she brushed her teeth, and then tucking her into bed with her panda at her side and reading her a story. Lindsey fell asleep feeling less homesick than she had in a long, long time. 

Chapter Text

Emily still couldn't quite believe that this had happened to her. 

She had known, of course, that this was a possibility, even a likelihood, but she had always thought that somehow everything would work out, that God or Mark or something would intervene to keep her with Portland, and especially Mommy. 

But no, here she was in Orlando, in a lonely new apartment, without Mommy. 

She had called Lindsey every day, usually several times a day, and while it was nice to hear her Mommy's voice, it wasn't quite the same as being with her, wrapped up all snuggly tight in a blankie and leaning against her chest, watching a princess movie with Mr. Rex tucked in the crook of her arm. 

Unconsciously, she rubbed the dino against her face, thumb drifting to her mouth. She could feel herself regressing, and so, using the hand not currently in her mouth, she reached for her cell phone and called Lindsey.

"Hey, Em," said the other woman, sounding just as pleased to hear Emily's voice as she had a few hours ago. 

"Hi," whispered Emily, and immediately Lindsey's tone changed octaves, slipping into the voice she always used whenever Emily was small. 

"Hi, pumpkin," she said, and Emily felt a soft smile drift onto her face. She snuggled deeper into the bed, imagining Mommy's hand stroking through her hair.

"Mommy," she whispered. "Want you."

"I know, bug," said Lindsey. "And believe me, Mommy wishes she was there with you, too. God, Em, I would give anything to have you wrapped up in my arms right now. You'd be all snuggly and warm, cuddled up against Mommy."

Emily gave a light giggle, but her happiness at hearing Mommy's voice had begun to wane, just because she wanted it so badly, and didn't want to think about how she would have to fall asleep all alone tonight. 

"Are you okay, baby girl?"

Emily gave a tiny whimper, smacking her lips as if she was sucking on a pacifier, when really all she was sucking in was the unfamiliar air of her new apartment. And possibly some dust. 

"Aww," said Lindsey. "I think someone might be feeling a little smaller than usual. Am I right, pumpkin?"

Now that Mommy mentioned it, Emily was pretty sure that she did feel a bit smaller than she usually did, and even the thought of getting out of bed without help to go to the bathroom or brush her teeth seemed like an impossible task. 

"Uh-huh," she whispered, and Lindsey cooed adoringly.

"Aww, baby girl. Mommy has an idea, if you want to try it. It's gonna be a big thing, but I think that it'll help you, okay?"

Emily's brain rocked back and forth. She wasn't quite sure how she felt about new things, but also... Mommy knew best, and so if Mommy said it was gonna help, it probably would!

"Mmkay," she whimpered, rubbing her stuffie across her face again. She could hear Lindsey's sigh of relief on the other side of the phone.

"Alright, baby," said Lindsey. "Mommy's gonna call Auntie Ali and Auntie Ash, and they're gonna come and get you, okay? They're gonna get all your stuff- your pull-ups, your stuffies, your blankets, your paci, everything- and they're gonna bring you and Bagel over to their house. You'll get to hang out with them until you're feeling big again, and I'll bet you'll get to cuddle with Storm and Logan!" 

Emily perked up a bit at the last part. She still wasn't quite sure about anyone except Mommy taking care of her, but she supposed that she could be persuaded with puppies. Especially if it meant she wouldn't have to be a big girl and take Bagel out before she went to sleep. 

So, she whispered okay into the phone, and fought the urge to cry as Lindsey hung up to call Ali and Ash and ask them to go over and pick up her baby.

Lindsey called her back afterwards, and stayed on the phone with her until a knock sounded on her apartment door. 

"They here, Mommy," she whispered.

"Can you get up and go let them in, sweetie?"

Bagel yipped at the door as Emily dragged herself out of the bed, still clutching Mr. Rex in one hand, and opened the door to reveal Ashlyn and Ali. She whispered out directions as to where they could find her little stuff. Ashlyn gathered all of it up in a bag and put Bagel's leash on, leading the dog downstairs while Ali scooped Emily up into her arms, T-Rex and all, and locked the door behind them. She followed Ashlyn down to their car.

The younger woman put all of Emily's little things in the front seat while Ali opened the back door and buckled Emily in. She slid in next to her, accepting Bagel from Ashlyn and pulling Emily against her shoulder. The dog immediately crawled across over to Emily's lap, and the little girl giggled quietly, petting her puppy as she leaned against Ali. 

Ashlyn started the car, and they were on their way. 

"Here we are, Em," said Ali softly a few minutes later. Emily yawned as Ashlyn parked the car, going around to the trunk and grabbing all of Emily's little things. She grabbed Bagel's leash again and led the puppy towards their front door, and Ali unbuckled Emily's seatbelt for her, picking her up again and carrying her to the door. 

Emily giggled as Bagel greeted Storm and Logan, the other dogs sniffing her cautiously before they all three bounded off to play in the house, Ashlyn quickly unclipping Bagel's leash before the puppy could drag it after her. 

"Puppy," whispered Emily, and Ashlyn laughed. 

"You're right, sweetie. There's a whole bunch of puppies! We can snuggle them when they calm down a little bit, but for now, I think Auntie Ali and I should get you all ready for bed!" 

Emily gave a small pout- she might have been tired, but she didn't wanna go to bed! Nope, nope!

"Aww," cooed Ali. "You're just too adorable, sweetie. Don't worry, we aren't going to bed quite yet. Auntie Ash and I were just thinking that you might like to be all cozy while we watch a movie. Does that sound good?" 

Emily perked up, nodding happily and already imagining what movie she was gonna watch later. Ali carried her over into the next room, which held a comfy looking couch. Ashlyn put a towel down, and Ali laid her down gently.

Emily was looking up at the ceiling as Ashlyn tucked a pillow underneath her head. She was pretty sure she knew what was about to happen- Mommy told her that she had emailed Ash and Ali everything they would need to know about taking care of her- and she wanted no part of it! 

No one except for Mommy had ever changed her into a pull-up before, and she sure didn't want them to start now!

"Nuh uh," she whimpered, lower lip sticking out in a pout. "No diaper!"

Ali ran a hand over her forehead, trying to soothe her, but Emily just shook her head, pulling her dinosaur closer and whimpering, on the verge of tears.

"Oh, honey," cooed Ashlyn, tilting her head to signal Ali to rifle through Emily's bag and find her onesie. 

"I know, it's a bit scary, isn't it?"

Emily nodded, a few tears slipping out of the corner of her eyes. She wanted Mommy, she didn't wanna be here, she wanted to be back in Portland with Mommy.

"Sweetie," said Ashlyn, accepting Emily's clothes from Ali. "I know you're a bit scared right now, but can I tell you a secret?"

Emily nodded- she liked secrets! They made her feel important!

Ali sat on the couch beside Emily's head, playing gently with her hair.

"Auntie Ali and I love you a whole bunch, little one," said Ashlyn. "We know you miss Portland, and especially your Mommy, but we're so glad we get to have you here with us. We're gonna take really good care of you, promise."

Emily nodded, leaning her head into Auntie Ali's hand. 

"It's okay to be scared," said the older woman. "But we've gotta put you in a diaper, honey. Your Mommy said that you need to sleep in diapers when you're little, so you need to sleep in diapers. We're gonna make it really quick, and then you can have some chocolate milk afterwards, okay?"

Ali and Ashlyn didn't push, they let Emily think about it for a minute, praying that she would cooperate and not throw a tantrum, because they were really not looking forward to what might happen if Emily fell asleep without a diaper on. Not that they couldn't handle whatever mess was thrown their way- they did babysit Sydney's children after all- but they didn't want Emily to feel embarrassed or ashamed if she wet the bed. 

"Promise not j-j-judge?"

Relieved smiles broke out across the older women's faces, and they nodded vigorously.

"We promise, Em," said Ali. "We're never ever gonna judge you." 

Emily used one hand to hold her dinosaur over her face, the other clutching onto Ali's, as Ashlyn stripped her out of her big girl clothes and quickly fastened a diaper around her hips, followed by her onesie. 

"There you go," said the keeper. "All done!"

Emily smiled, crawling over to sit in Ashlyn's lap as Ali went off to make her a bottle full of chocolate milk. 

"So," said Ashlyn as Storm and Bagel hopped up onto the couch beside them, Bagel immediately jumping into Emily's lap, while Logan lay down at Ashlyn's feet. "Do you want to watch a movie?"

Emily nodded, accepting her bottle from Ali. Ashlyn gently plucked it from her hands and inserted the nipple into her mouth. 

Ali queued up Disney's Zootopia as Ashlyn fed Emily her bottle. The little girl suckled gently as the movie began, and (despite her claims of not being tired) was soon drifting off to sleep. 

"Okay," whispered Ashlyn, lifting Emily up and carrying her upstairs to their spare room, making sure that her T-Rex wasn't forgotten. "I think it's bedtime for sleepy little girls." 

Ali nodded in agreement, following her wife upstairs and helping her tuck Emily into bed, underneath the covers. 

"Goodnight, sweetie," said the couple. "We're so glad you're here with us."

Ashlyn went downstairs to let the dogs out, and Ali sat on the end of Emily's bed until the little one had finally drifted off to sleep. 

Ali and Ashlyn's room was right next to the spare room, and the couple couldn't help but be happy about that- they were going to be able to hear any noises that Emily might make, especially if the little girl wet her diaper, or had any bad dreams.

"Ali," whispered Ashlyn as they climbed into bed, kissing her wife on the neck. "We need to have kids."

Ali laughed quietly, returning Ashlyn's kiss and turning out the lights. 

"Well," she said. "It does look like we have a practice child."

Chapter Text

It was all happening so quickly. 

Sonnett and Caitlin, taken from her all at once. Caitlin, off to who knew where. And even though Lindsey knew where Sonnett was off to, the distance between them somehow seemed like it would be a thousand times further. 

And now Hayley, a move to Everton all but confirmed. Really, with the way things were going, she half expected news to come in at any second that Ellie would be staying in Australia, and never coming back. 

Suddenly, Lindsey was all alone. 

She had come to the training field all alone, just planning to take out her feelings on some poor, helpless soccer balls before running until she couldn't run anymore, but instead she was just... sitting in the locker room, holding her knees and trying desperately not to cry. 

What's the point, she was thinking to herself miserably, in making friends if everyone is just going to leave me?

The first helpless, heartbroken tear slid out of the corner of her eye and down her right cheek, and before she knew it she couldn't stop them from bursting forth, soaking her face and reddening her eyes. She hadn't expected to be crying on the floor of a locker room today, but... there was nothing to be done. Just as there was no way to turn back time and somehow manage to convince Mark that Emily was valuable and talented, and deserved to stay instead of being traded for a draft pick.

Suddenly, Lindsey startled at a noise behind her, trying to quiet her cries just in case there was a person here who shouldn't be. But then she heard a pair of familiar footsteps sounding on the floor, and a pair of familiar shoes trod into view. 

Tobin gave a gasp, nearly dropping her coffee when she saw the unexpected sight of Lindsey, curled in fetal position on the floor with tears dripping down her cheeks and shaking like a leaf.

"Linds," said Tobin, setting her coffee on the bench that Lindsey was leaning against and squatting down to wrap her arms around her younger teammate. "Honey, what are you doing here?" 

Lindsey tried to answer, she really did. But when she opened her mouth, all that came out was a pained whimper and a renewed round of sobs. All she could think about was her friends- Caitlin, Hayley, and especially Sonnett- all leaving her! They were leaving her, all alone!

Tobin didn't ask her again, just pulled Lindsey closer and started to pet her hair, stroking her (soft, safe) hands through it in an attempt to comfort her. 

"Do you want to go home, Linds? Do you want me to take you home?"

Lindsey's chest clenched in terror at the thought of returning to that empty apartment, and shook her head violently. Some of her hair whipped Tobin in the face, but the older midfielder just brushed it aside. 

"Do you want me to take you back to my house?" 

Lindsey nodded at this question, and then Tobin was helping her to her feet, leaving her coffee behind and walking straight back out to her car. Her heart sank a little bit when Lindsey toddled to the back door of the car, rubbing her hand across her face. She loved taking care of her little teammates, but she didn't like that something had upset Lindsey this much, to send her down into littlespace when she didn't normally regress. 

Tobin opened the door and watched Lindsey carefully as she clambered into the backseat. Lindsey reached for the seat belt, but Tobin gently grabbed hold of her hand and held it while her other hand buckled Lindsey in herself. 

Lindsey was still crying quietly as Tobin pulled out of the lot, turning towards her house.

"It's okay, honey," cooed Tobin as she drove through traffic, keeping one eye on the road and the other eye locked on the rearview mirror, making sure that Lindsey remained within her sight. 

"It's gonna be okay, we're gonna hang out at my house. We don't have to talk about it if you don't want, just let me take care of you, okay?" 

Lindsey sniffled and nodded, using her sleeve to wipe her runny nose as Tobin pulled in and parked the car, coming around to the little one's door and unbuckling her seat belt. Lindsey clutched her older teammate's hand desperately, lagging a little bit behind as she struggled to pick up her feet. 

"Come on, Linds," said Tobin, unlocking her door and shutting it behind them. She guided her down onto the bench in her entryway and knelt in front of her, unlacing her shoes before leading her upstairs.

"Do you wanna put on some different clothes, precious?"

Lindsey nodded weakly, still sniffling horribly, and raised her arms up to let Tobin strip her out of her big girl clothes. Luckily for Lindsey, Tobin slept in big tees, and her sweatpants were always at least a size too big, so the older woman managed to dig out a tee shirt and sweatpants for her to wear.

"Are you small enough for a pull-up?"

Lindsey blushed, but nodded at Tobin's question. She wouldn't usually be small enough for pull-ups, but the thought of being completely alone, having to play without one of her very bestest friends, had made her a little bit smaller than usual. 

Tobin brushed a hand through her hair in comfort as she went to the closet and dug out the box of pull-ups, leftover from the last time she had watched a little at her house. She guided Lindsey gently to lay back on the bed, then stripped her out of her underwear and got her all safe and protected and small in a pull-up. 

"There you go," cooed Tobin, pulling the sweatpants onto Lindsey's legs before hopping up on the bed beside her.

Lindsey scrambled to snuggle in beside Tobin, who opened her arms for her and tucked her against her chest. The little girl was no longer crying, but she was still whimpering softly, heartbroken by something. Tobin was fairly certain she knew what, she just didn't know if Lindsey was up for talking about it.

So, she didn't press, just turned on the television. She almost put on Clifford the Big Red Dog, but then remembered just in time that one of the main characters was named Emily. So, at the last second, she changed her mind and put on Dora the Explorer. 

Lindsey cuddled into her side, idly sucking her thumb as she watched the program. At one point, Tobin got up to get her a snack- apple slices with peanut butter, and a sippy cup full of chocolate milk- and then subsequently change her pull-up when the little girl tugged at her sleeve and blushed, signalling to Tobin that she had wet it. 

They ordered pizza for dinner, and Tobin had to watch Lindsey carefully to make sure that none of the sauce ended up all over. Then, as Tobin was about to tuck Lindsey into the bed that they would be sharing and go back downstairs to wash the dishes, she heard a desperate whimper coming from beneath the blankets. 

"What's wrong, sweetie?"

Lindsey whimpered again and so Tobin walked back over to the bed and sat on the end of it, looking at the little one with concern. Lindsey tried to sit up, but Tobin shushed her gently and offered her hand for the little girl to hold, which Lindsey accepted eagerly, absorbing herself in playing with Tobin's fingers until the older midfielder repeated the question. 

"Honey," asked Tobin. "Do you wanna tell me what's up with you?"

Lindsey whispered something, but that hand that wasn't clutching desperately onto Tobin's was in her mouth, and so the other woman couldn't understand a word of what she was trying to say. 

"Can you say that again, baby girl? I didn't hear you." 

Lindsey- seemingly reluctantly- pulled her thumb from out of her mouth and whispered a plea that made Tobin's entire soul hurt, and a pit of anger open up for what she knew, she knew, had caused this.

"Don' lea'e meee." 

Tobin clutched Lindsey's hand tighter, trying to reassure her that she was right there.

"I'm not leaving, baby," she cooed. "I'm just going down to do some dishes, then I'll be right back and we can-"

"No!"

Lindsey's cry startled Tobin, and when she looked at the little girl closely, it was clear that her lip was trembling and that she was on the verge of breaking down into another fit of tears. And, for all her badass-ery on the pitch, Tobin Heath was nothing if not a softie for tears, especially when they came from a sweet little one who had already been through more than enough lately. 

"Okay," she said. "I can leave the dishes for the morning. I gotta get my jammies on, though, and brush my teeth. So, how about you wait right here and think about what you want for breakfast tomorrow, and I'll be back before you know it. In the morning you can tell me what it is, and we can go and get it!"

Lindsey nodded cautiously, allowing Tobin to separate their hands and race to get ready for bed. She was done in what would have been record time, if she were keeping track, flipping off the lights and clambering into the bed beside Lindsey. 

The younger midfielder was immediately pressed into her side, face buried in Tobin's shoulder in a way that Tobin knew would end up making her arm numb before long. But, if it helped Lindsey go to sleep knowing that she was right there, that she wasn't going anywhere, then it would be worth it.

"See, sweetie pie," said Tobin. "I'm right here, I'm not leaving you. You're not alone, Lindsey. You're never, never alone."

Lindsey sniffled into the fabric of Tobin's shirt, drifting closer and closer to sleep. 

Her heart was still broken into jagged little pieces, and she had no idea what the coming season held, or how she was going to cope without Caitlin, or Hayley, or especially Sonnett, playing by her side. But, she did know one thing: she wasn't alone. Because Tobin was right here holding her, just like she had for so many years. 

Chapter Text

It was Christen who found Mal first, after around fifteen minutes of searching.

The younger woman was sitting alone, slumped in a corner, thin arms wrapped around her knees, and face fallen. Her lower lip was trembling, and her eyes were wide and watering. When Christen looked closer, she could see that Mal's whole body was shaking like a leaf in an autumn breeze, not just her lip. 

She was the perfect picture of horrible misery, and Christen was just frozen in place at the sight. She wanted so badly to rush forwards and pull Mal into her arms, but her beautiful little girl looked so... broken, that Christen wasn't entirely sure that this was something even Mommy could fix. 

She had never thought that this could ever happen, not to her talented and beautiful little one.

Involuntarily, Christen let a sharp, pained gasp fall from her lips. Mal heard the sound, and looked up at her. They just stared at each other for a moment, two pairs of wide eyes, and then Mal's face crumbled even further, and the tears that were welling at the surface of her eyes spilled out and down her cheeks. The horrible wail which came from her shuddering lips was what finally unfroze Christen, and she dashed forwards as fast as she could and scooped the little girl up into her arms. She rocked her back and forth gently as she dashed with her back up towards where she could comfort her.

She didn't even bother to ask if Mal was little, knowing that she would be momentarily if she wasn't yet, and carried her back to where Tobin waited, pacing anxiously in their room. 

The two older women hadn't seen Mal since yesterday, and they had figured that she was just out cooling her head- possibly fucking around or watching movies with Lindsey and Sonnett- after the news of the trade hit. They had been worried, sure, incredibly worried, but they knew that someone would get their little girl to them if she needed them. However, when the latest news came out, they had been unable to wait any longer for Mal to come back to them. Tobin and Christen knew their little girl as well as or better than they knew each other, and they knew that if one harsh blow wasn't enough to send her down into littlespace- which, normally, it comfortably would be, then two major shocks to her system in the same amount of days would do that and more. 

"You found her," said Tobin, sighing in relief as Christen came back into her room, armful of sobbing young striker. "Thank God. Mal, baby, we're right here. Baby girl, we're right here." 

Mal screamed in pain as Christen handed her to Tobin, burying her damp face in her Mama's shoulder, soaking it through with tears almost immediately. Tobin cooed, rocking the baby back and forth as Christen raced around the room as fast as she could, looking for Mal's little things. 

"Shh, bunny," whispered Tobin, patting Mal's back. "Mama's here, Mama's gotcha. It's okay, it's all gonna be okay."

Mal was far too upset, far too small, for big-girl words, even broken and shaky ones, but she made her opinion on that statement quite clear with a violent shake of her head and another heartbroken scream. With every wail which came from Mal's lips, Tobin and Christen could feel their hearts breaking a little bit further.

In Mal's mind, nothing was going to be okay ever again. Not only had she- a player who had several years of experience under her belt- been traded away from an already young inexperienced squad for college draft picks, she had had to find out from a statement that Richie Burke had made that it was because she- in his eyes at least- wasn't good enough. Hadn't lived up to what he wanted, wasn't what he wanted. 

Not good enough, her mind screamed at her as she thrashed wildly in Mama's arms, inconsolable to the point where Tobin had to sit down with her on the bed to stop herself from accidentally dropping her. Not good enough, bad, bad, bad, failure! 

Maybe, just maybe, she would have been able to get over that one. In her little mind, it was impossible, but Big Mal maybe could have done it, with a little help. 

She might've been okay, somehow, if it wasn't for today. 

Honestly, she didn't know which blow was worse. Both felt like poison arrows through the chest, stabbing at her poor heart and tearing her, ripping her apart into tiny little pieces that she wasn't sure even Mommy and Mama could tape back together.

She was worthless. Nothing. 

"Shh," said Christen softly, coming back over to where Mal sobbed and screamed in Tobin's arms, armful of various objects that Mal needed when she was little. "Shh, bunny. Mommy's here, we're right here, we love you. Baby, can you please let us take care of you?"

Mal wailed again, and the noises made both Christen and Tobin's chests tighten in pain and guilt. They had made the qualifying roster, they were safe at their club teams, and their sweet little girl was being thrown this way and that, being torn into pieces in front of them because she had neither. 

She was clearly too small to be able to convince to stop moving, so Tobin restrained her flailing legs gently while Christen avoided the involuntary kicks and stripped her out of her leggings and replaced them as quickly as she could with a soft diaper. They repeated the process on her arms, the passing of fabric over her face doing nothing to muffle her cries as Christen stripped her shirt off of her and replaced it with one of Tobin's big tees. Hopefully, being wrapped up in Mama's clothes would help her to calm down at least a little bit. 

Mal always loved when she could wear Mommy and Mama's clothes.

The warm bottle was placed on the nightstand for later, and Christen knew better than to even attempt to give Mal her paci right now. The little girl needed to be allowed to cry, to give herself that release, and not feel like Mommy and Mama wanted her to be quiet. And, as for everyone else, whose precious quiet time might be being interrupted, if any of them even dared to complain, they would be met with a level of anger that they wouldn't have thought possible from sweet Christen Press and notoriously chill Tobin Heath. 

Christen joined her two loves on the bed as quickly as she could, and helped Tobin gently move Mal to a position where the two of them were seated against the headboard with their little girl in between them. They sighed in relief as Mal accepted her stuffed bunny from Christen, wrapping it in her arms and wailing miserably into its fur. 

"Baby," cooed Christen as steadily as she could. "Mommy's here. We're right here, let it out, baby girl."

Neither Tobin nor Christen tried to talk to her beyond reassurances that they were there for her, that they loved her and weren't going anywhere, that she could be as sad and as small as she needed to be and that Mommy and Mama would be right there to hold her for as long as she needed. 

The older women couldn't tell for how long their Mal cried, sobbing as if her precious little heart had been torn right out of her chest and stomped on in front of her with a pair of cleats.

When Christen cast her gaze over to look at Tobin, she could see glittering tears welling in her wife's eyes, helpless and heartbroken at the pain that Mal must have been going through. With the hand not stroking Mal's hair, Christen patted Tobin's shoulder gently. 

They sat there together for as long as it took for Mal's tiny, shaking body to finally run out of tears, sobs fading into little hiccups, eyes red and cheeks damp. 

"Bunny," said Tobin softly. "Can you talk right now?"

Mal shook her head slowly, one final sob escaping her lips as she used her bunny to wipe her runny nose. Normally, her mommies would have gently reminded her that we use tissues to blow our nosies, but they couldn't even imagine scolding her right now. It would be the final straw, one that they would never load onto her back. 

"Okay," said Christen, reaching for the cooling bottle full of milk and balancing it in one hand. "Can Mommy and Mama talk to you while we give you your bottle?"

Mal nodded weakly, mouth hanging halfway open as she hiccuped and reached one tiny hand out towards the bottle. Christen made sure to leave Mal's feet resting in Tobin's lap as she pulled her baby to her chest, leaning her backward and gently guiding the nipple of the bottle past her lips.

"Did all that crying make my baby girl hungry?"

Tobin feebly attempted a joke which would normally have made Mal give a tiny giggle, or at least shake her head either way in response, but was met with nothing from the exhausted baby but a gentle suckle on the nipple of the bottle. Tobin took Mal's cold feet in her hands, rubbing them gently, reminding her tiny girl that she was still right there, that even though Mommy might be feeding her, Mama wasn't going to go anywhere, since there was nowhere else she could imagine being but right here, trying to comfort her little angel.

"Mal," said Christen softly, catching the baby's attention by using her name, rather than calling her precious, or angel, or sweetheart or bunny or one of the million other nicknames that she heard regularly from her mommies' adoring mouths. 

"I know you're really little, but Mama and I need you to listen, okay? We're gonna tell you all of this again later, but we need you to know it now too."

Tobin nodded as she rolled Mal's right ankle gently in her hand, trying to get out any tension that might have been lingering from a long, hard day. 

"Baby," she said. "It doesn't matter what happened. You're phenomenal, Mal, and you are the future of women's soccer. We know that this must hurt really bad, but we need you to know that you're worth so much, you're so amazing, and that Mommy and Mama love you no matter what. Always and forever, fiercely."

Christen nodded in agreement, swallowing around a rising lump in her throat as she gazed down at Mal's face, still red and splotchy as she took another drink of milk, eyes fluttering open and shut with exhaustion. 

"We love you so much," she whispered. "Unconditionally." 

Mal had expended so much of her energy crying out all her tears that it was hard to even keep her awake long enough to burp her and change her out of her wet diaper into a brand new one. She was so small that she barely noticed Christen undoing the old one, wiping her gently and fastening a new, clean diaper around her hips. Her head was lolling against Tobin's shoulder, clinging weakly to her bunny and accepting her paci, and still looking so sad. 

She drifted off to sleep on the bed in between Tobin and Christen, who looked down at her to ensure that she was resting peacefully- or at least as peacefully as one could rest, after the two days that Mal had just experienced. Then, Christen gazed over at Tobin to find her wife with her head bowed, eyes closed.

She had reluctantly stopped stroking Mal's hair to clasp her hands in front of her, and her mouth was moving in a silent prayer. Further tears welled in Christen's eyes as she looked back and forth between her two girls, waiting for Tobin to stop praying before asking her.

"What... What did you say to Him?" 

Tobin swallowed around the lump in her own throat, tears leaking steadily out of the corners of her glimmering eyes. 

"I asked," she whispered roughly. "I asked Him to please, please, help her. We can only do so much, Chris. We can be here for her, but this... God, I just hope that she'll be okay. I need her to be okay." 

Christen nodded, eyes dripping with tears as Tobin continued. 

"If I could take this from her, I would. I'd give anything to make sure that she knows how precious and talented and valuable she is."

Christen reached over and squeezed Tobin's hand with the one that wasn't running over Mal's shoulders. 

"I would too," she said. "In an instant."

Both of them looked down at their heartbroken baby girl, sleeping with her bunny clutched in her hand and the remnants of tears still drying on her face. They loved her, God, they loved her so much. And their hearts were sore at the thought of her pain. 

"I wish they could see what we see," whispered Christen. "She's so perfect, Tobin. And I don't care how long it takes, we're going to make sure she remembers it. And God help anyone who tries to take that away from her ever again."

Mal snuffled in her sleep, head nuzzling into Christen's thigh. The older striker looked down at her in adoration, and she and Tobin sank down beneath the covers beside their sleeping baby, making sure that she was safely wrapped up in their arms.

"Ma," came a whisper, and Tobin shushed Mal softly. 

"We're sorry to wake you," she whispered. "Go back to sleep, angel. We're right here. We'll always be right here. " 

Mal drifted back to sleep, drooling a little bit on Christen's arm before the older woman popped her paci back in her mouth, and Christen and Tobin followed her slowly. 

They loved their baby more than anything, and they didn't care how long it took, or how many idiots they had to yell at, but they were going to make damn sure that Mallory Diane Pugh, their sweet angel, remembered how important she was, not just to them, but to everyone. 

Chapter Text

The sound of soft little cries were what woke Tobin. 

She yawned, blinking the sleep out of her eyes before looking down to see Mal crying quietly- not the heartbroken cries of the previous night, but the normal cries she heard from her baby in the morning, when Mal was signalling to her Mommies that she was ready for her bottle and needed a diaper change. 

Christen was stirring softly, but still asleep, and so Tobin gently removed her wife's arm from its position wrapped around their baby girl, then pulled Mal into her own arms. 

"Good morning, baby girl," she said, deciding to let Christen sleep- last night had been hard on all three of them. "Does my little one want her bottle?"

Mal nodded, tears fading now that she had been noticed and was being cared for. She whimpered as Tobin let go of her, putting her on the other bed while she prepared a warm bottle full of milk, with some protein powder added in just to make sure her sweet little one stayed all healthy!

Tobin set the bottle on one of the nightstands and grabbed a new diaper and some baby powder. 

Mal smiled up at her as Tobin stripped her out of her wet diaper from the previous night, then sprinkled some baby powder and slid the new diaper onto her. She tried to pull Mal into her arms and give her her bottle on the second bed, but the little girl whimpered and pointed back towards the other bed, where Christen was still dozing. 

"You wanna go over there and eat your bottle next to Mommy?" 

Mal nodded, rubbing her face against Tobin's neck and giving her paci a tiny suckle. 

"Okay, baby," said Tobin, carrying Mal back over to the requested place and pulling the covers back over them. The baby reached out her little hand and patted Christen's hair, wanting her Mommy to be awake so that she could be there while Mama gave her her bottle.

"Shh, honey," said Tobin gently. "Let's let Mommy sleep, pumpkin." 

"Nah," came a sleepy voice, yawning around her words. "'S okay. I'd rather see my beautiful little girl than sleep."

Mal giggled happily as Christen sat up, kissing her on the forehead. 

"Good morning, precious," said Christen, accepting Mal's return kiss, a sloppy one on her cheek. 

"Okay," said Tobin, also leaning over and giving Christen a chaste kiss. "Now that Mommy's awake, does our little baby bunny want her bottle?"

Mal nodded, leaning back in Tobin's arms and popping her mouth open. The older woman pressed the bottle past her lips, looking adoringly down at Mal as she suckled her milk. Christen ran her hands through Mal's hair, and the three of them sat quietly, peacefully, while the baby drank until there was nothing left in the bottle. 

"Good girl," cooed Tobin, lifting Mal up against her shoulder and patting her back gently until she let out a tiny burp. "That's my baby."

Mal smiled, burying her face in her Mama's neck again. Christen smiled adoringly at her girls. Mal was feeling better, and it was a calm morning, and nothing could ruin this moment.

Well, nothing except for the knock that sounded on the door. 

"Ugh," growled Christen, physically stopping herself from swearing aloud in front of the baby. Everyone on the team knew that Mal sometimes regressed, and most of them had seen it before, so they weren't scared of their baby getting judged, more annoyed at having to take time out of their morning with their baby girl to deal with whoever was knocking. 

When Christen opened the door, she nearly slammed it again when she saw who was standing there, shuffling his feet awkwardly. 

"What do you want?"

Vlatko took an involuntary step backwards, surprised at the tone of Christen's voice- he had never seen her even approach truly angry before, but now she was glaring daggers at him, purposefully blocking his entrance into the room while Tobin bounced Mal gently in her arms, trying to prevent a new onslaught of tears, which her Mommy could tell were coming based on the little whimpers escaping her lips. 

When the coach didn't immediately say anything, Christen huffed and went to close the door- if he didn't have anything to say, then he could go right back to where he came from and leave them alone to start fixing what he had helped to break. 

"Wait," he said, sticking his foot in the door before she could shut it all the way. "I... They told me that Mal would be here. I just want to talk to her for a second."

Christen stopped actively trying to shut the door, but continued looking at Vlatko suspiciously. 

"Why? What could you have to say to her?" 

Tobin was rapidly losing her battle against the return of Mal's tears, but she was still trying her best, turning the baby so that she was facing out of the window rather than looking straight at the door. 

"I just need to tell her something," said Vlatko, and Christen looked over at Tobin, trying to silently communicate with her so that they could make the decision that would help Mal the most. Tobin shrugged, kissing Mal on the forehead. 

"Make it quick. She had a long day yesterday, and honestly, I'm not sure if she can handle any more crying."

A look of guilt flashed across Vlatko's face as Christen- somewhat reluctantly- opened the door and let him inside of their room. He stood next to the bed as Tobin sank back down onto it, cradling Mal in her arms and making sure she had her bunny to snuggle, should she need it. Christen joined them, stroking her baby's arm as Mal looked up, eyes wet, to look at the coach. 

"Hey, Mal," said Vlatko quietly, trying not to be intimidated by Christen's barely concealed glare. He may have been the coach, but if there was one thing he had learned, it was that his players could be truly terrifying if they wanted to, especially when they were protecting their little ones. "Is it okay if I talk to you for a minute?"

The baby seemed unsure, snuggling closer into Tobin's chest, looking warily at him. 

"I promise I'll make it quick," he said. "Then you can get back to hanging out with your Mommy and Mama. Okay?"

Mal gave a tiny nod, already sniffling, preparing to cry. Tobin shushed her quietly, pressing her paci past her lips, trying to buy the coach a little time to say whatever he wanted to say before the little one started screaming like she had the previous night. 

"I want you to know," he said. "That taking you off the roster was a really hard decision. Because you're a phenomenal player, Mal. Absolutely amazing. I just... I need a little more consistency from you. Once you get that down, you're going to be unstoppable."

Mal's eyebrows perked up as she suckled on her paci in Tobin's arms, trying to understand what the coach was saying. It didn't sound completely bad, but it didn't fix the fact that Mommy and Mama were gonna be gone playin' ball, and that little baby Mal wasn't good enough to go with them, and she was gonna be all alone while they were gone. 

Christen rubbed her knee gently as the coach continued. Mommy's hands were soft and kind, and Mal didn't know how she was gonna be okay without them while Mommy was gone. 

"Which is why," said Vlatko. "If it's okay with you, I'd like to ask you if you would like to come to camp and train with us anyway, even if you won't be playing."

Mal looked up at her Mama. 'Cause she must've misheard. It sounded like coach had said that she could come with Mommy and Mama and practice a whole bunch, so that she could get better! That she wasn't gonna be left all alone, that he still saw something in her. 

Mama's smile told Mal that she wasn't dreaming. 

"So," said Mommy, looking at Mal as she processed it. "What do you say, baby girl? Do you wanna come to camp with Mommy and Mama? We'll help you practice all the time, and before you know it you're gonna be an even better striker than Mommy!" 

Mal nodded vigorously, sitting up in Tobin's arms and spitting out her paci. 

"Weal'y??"

Vlatko smiled happily at this reaction, nodding. 

"Really, Mal."

It surprised him for a second when she wrapped her arms around his neck in a quick hug, before falling back into her Mama's arms excitedly. He let himself out, happy that he had been able to help at least one of the players he'd had to cut feel better. 

Christen and Tobin spent the rest of the day watching over a far happier little girl than they had had the previous night. It wasn't a perfect resolution, and there was still a long way to go to get her confidence back up to where it had been before this horrible week, but it was a start. 

Chapter Text

Instead of watching the trainwreck which the game had become, Lisa had been watching Vivianne as her girlfriend was running back and forth down the pitch. 

Her little striker was trying her best, but it was clear to her girlfriend that something was off- she wasn't at her best, and it was not only clear to Lisa, but clear to everyone watching. Chelsea had put four goals past Manuela, and Vivianne couldn't manage to put anything into the back of the net. She could barely get the ball, and when she did Ann-Katrin was always there to stop her from breaking her dry streak.

Her girlfriend could see her sweet face falling further and further, and tears beginning to pool in the corners of her eyes, and by the time Lisa came onto the pitch with Beth, Vivianne was almost crying. All she could manage to do for the taller woman was put a soft hand on her arm, giving her the only comfort she could while the clock was still ticking down towards the end of the match.

It was almost a relief when the final whistle sounded- at least they could get off the pitch, away from the sellout crowd, all watching them lose to their rivals. Vivianne didn't speak as they were driving home- she didn't talk much anyway, but normally she could be counted on to at least say something to Lisa on their drive. Instead, all she did today was sit silently in the front seat of the car, arms wrapped around her knees, staring out the window at the other cars passing by. 

Lisa knew that she should be focusing on the road, but she couldn't help but catch a glimpse of Vivianne's sparkling eyes reflecting off the window glass, taking one hand off the wheel to squeeze her girlfriend's thigh gently, trying to comfort her as best she could.

Neither of them talked on the ride home, and even when they were back in their apartment, Vivianne was still silent, withdrawn into herself.

"Vivi," said Lisa, finally speaking as her girlfriend stood silently in the kitchen while she herself was digging through the fridge for something good to eat, to help distract them from the horrible game. "Honey, are you okay?"

The first words that she had really heard since the game ended penetrated deep into Vivianne's pained brain, and her lower lip started trembling like a leaf, the moisture in her eyes on the verge of dripping out and falling down her cheeks to soak her tee shirt. 

"Baby?" 

Lisa put a gentle hand on her girlfriend, reaching up to hold Vivianne's shoulder, and the Dutch woman lost it. She began to sniffle softly, then louder and louder, and her shuddering knees gave out from under her. She slid down onto the tile floor of their kitchen in a heap, and before Lisa even had time to react, her girlfriend was sobbing in heartbreak and sadness. 

"Mamaaaa," she cried out. "Ik ben-" 

Vivianne's face crumbled even further as she had to think about how to speak English, because Mama couldn't understand Dutch very well, and she needed Mama to understand her or else Mama wouldn't know that she was really really sorry, and maybe Mama would leave her all alone to be little because Mama wouldn't love her if she thought that she wasn't sorry and-

"Oh, Vivi," cooed Lisa, sinking down to her knees beside her girlfriend on the floor and wrapping her arms around the Dutch woman's shaking shoulders. "Take your time, baby girl. Take all the time you need. Mama's here, you don't need to be scared. Everything's going to be okay." 

"Mama," Vivianne cried, burying her face in Lisa's strong shoulder and crying even harder, 'cause Mama was being so nice to her and she didn't deserve it 'cause she didn't do her job and she was bad and it was never gonna-

"It's okay, liefje," cooed Lisa, and the sound of Mama doing her best to speak a little bit of Dutch to her made Vivianne feel even softer and smaller. "Let it out, Mama's here for you. You can cry, Vivi. Mama's got you." 

Vivianne completely melted into the safety of her Mama's strong arms, just letting Lisa stroke her hair and pat her back gently, cooing gentle words to her, mostly in English but occasionally throwing in a Dutch term of endearment. The little one buried her face even further into Mama's shoulder, so tiny and sad and scared but trying her very very best to let Mama's arms and words comfort her.

Finally, her guilty, tiny tears began to taper off. Her Mama's shoulder was completely soaked, but that didn't matter to Lisa. Vivianne could have blown her nose on her best shirt and it wouldn't have mattered a whit, because Vivianne was more important than any piece of clothing.

"Do you want to tell Mama what's wrong, mijn lieverd?

Vivianne again had to think for a moment about how to speak English, but Mama didn't seem to be impatient. So, she took a shuddering breath and let herself be rocked back and forth, trying to translate what she wanted to say in Dutch into English words that Mama could understand.

"I... 'M bad," she whispered into Lisa's shoulder. "Not g-good girl." 

Lisa shushed her quickly, still rocking her with a hand on the back of her neck. 

"Oh, honey," said Lisa, holding her little girl closer. "You are. You're Mama's good girl, Vivi. You're Mama's talented baby girl, and I just want you to feel okay."

Vivianne sniffled, trying to fit her entire body onto her smaller girlfriend's lap. She was all arms and legs, and so it was hard to completely fit, but Lisa did her best to envelop her baby girl in her warm embrace. The little one shook her head, just a tiny shake, but it didn't go unnoticed by her Mama, 'cause Mama knew everything. She was so much smarter and better than little Vivi. 

"Vivianne," said her Mama, gently forcing her baby girl to look at her by holding her chin, heart hurting at the remnants of a torrent of tears on her sweet face. "Mama needs you to listen, okay? Do you think you can listen to Mama?"

Vivianne wasn't sure, but she... she thought she probably could, if Mama needed her to. She could be a good girl. So, she nodded cautiously.

"Good," said Lisa, kissing her on the cheek, ignoring the salty flavor of her still-damp tears. "That's my baby girl. Vivi," she continued. 

"You are my good little girl. It doesn't matter if we win or lose, it doesn't matter if you score one goal, or six goals, or no goals at all. Win or lose, you will always be Mama's good baby. Can you nod if you understand?"

Vivianne nodded slowly, the last few tears dripping out of her eyes. 

"Good girl," cooed Lisa. "Now, can Mama take care of her sweet baby girl?"

This nod was far quicker and far more enthusiastic, and Lisa carefully helped Vivianne up off of her lap, her little one's arms wrapped around her shoulders. She helped the baby to their room, sat her on the bed, and dropped down to search under the bed for their rarely used box of little supplies. 

"Do you want your paci, baby girl?" 

"Ja," whispered Vivianne shyly, pulling one of their blankets into her arms and wrapping it carefully around herself as Mama handed up the piece of plastic, followed by her stuffed bear. The little girl rubbed the soft fur against her face, and gave a tiny smile. Her paci was still clutched in her hand, waiting for Mama to put it in her mouth for her, 'cause lifting it up and managing to find her mouth with it seemed really hard.

"Do you need a pull-up, mijn lieverd?"

Vivianne whimpered shyly, because it was such a big decision to have to make! She was too small to have to choose whether or not she needed one of those! Luckily, Lisa realized this quickly, and it answered the question for her.

"I think you do," said the Scottish woman. "Can you lay back for Mama? Let Mama put your diaper on?" 

Vivianne nodded, letting the blanket fall off of her and shoving it to the side as she lay back, clutching her paci in one hand and snuggling her bear with the other. Lisa noticed the piece of plastic still in her hands and smiled softly, setting the pull-up on their nightstand. 

"Darling," she said. "Do you want to suck on your paci, or just hold it?" 

Vivianne gave a little suck around the air, and Lisa laughed, taking her paci out of her hand and guiding it past her lips. Her eyes drifted peacefully shut as Lisa got her bottoms off and replaced them with a pull-up. It crinkled as she sat back up, Mama joining her on the bed and opening her arms for her little girl. Vivianne leaned into her, smiling softly as she cuddled Mama. 

"Hi, baby," whispered the Scottish woman. "There's my beautiful girl." 

Lisa pulled the blankets up over them, smiling down at her baby girl as she started to fall asleep, exhausted from both the game and her tears.

"You can sleep," she cooed. "Mama's got you, liefde. You're such a good, talented little girl, Vivi, and it's all okay."

The game had been hard, but her bear was soft, and the blankets were soft, the bed was soft, and Mama was the softest. 

Mama was singing her a quiet lullaby as she fell into a peaceful sleep.  

Chapter Text

At least Beth could feel good about herself. At least she had been able to get a ball in the net, and save them from an even more humiliating 4-0 defeat. Not that 4-1 was all that much better, but at least it was something. 

As for Danielle, she was having trouble finding anything to feel good about. And, unfortunately, her frustration at the game, which had nearly resulted in tears on the pitch, had morphed into frustration at any and everything, as she tried to fight back the icky feelings filling her brain- anger at Chelsea, anger at her teammates, and anger at herself. 

"Babe," said Beth. "What do you want for dinner?"

Danielle shrugged. She had no fucking clue what she wanted for dinner- what she wanted was to kick the wall, or to burrow underneath her covers and never come out again. 

"I don't care," she grouched. "Pick whatever the fuck you want."

The bad word sounded strange on her tongue- she knew that she wasn't supposed to be saying it. It wasn't like Ma- Beth- had anything against swearing in particular, but Danielle couldn't shake the feeling that she was doing something wrong. Again. 

Something in her tone made Beth raise an eyebrow, but she tried to ignore the fact that her girlfriend was bordering on rudeness. It had been a rough day for all of them, and she supposed that Danielle was still just feeling the aftermath of their poor game, as all of their teammates probably were. 

"Okay," she said. "How does pizza sound?"

A pit opened up in Danielle's stomach, filled with boiling anger and frustration, because couldn't Mam- Beth- tell that she didn't care, and that being asked stupid questions about what she wanted for dinner was dumb and pointless and-

And she didn't mean to shout. But then it was too late, and she heard her voice as if it was coming from someone else. 

"I said I don't fucking care!"

There was a moment of silence as Beth put down the takeaway menu, letting it fall to the floor. The Englishwoman's eyes went soft and sad, and it looked like her lip was trembling a little bit. As for Danielle, she regretted the words the second they came out, and all the boiling anger flew out of her, replaced with sadness and self-disgust 'cause she had made Mama upset, and all Mama had been tryin' to do was ask her what she wanted to eat! 

Her knees gave out from under her and she collapsed to the couch, tears immediately springing to her eyes and sniffling with regret. 

Beth took a beat to process the sudden change in Danielle's demeanor, and then she was at her girlfriend's side, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her close. 

"Daan," she said. "Daan, honey, what's wrong?" 

Danielle cried, wrapping her arms around Beth, trying to make sure that Mama wasn't gonna get up off the couch and remember that she didn't deserve her comfort, 'cause she had been a bad girl and she hadn't scored and they hadn't won and then she had made everything worse because she had shouted at Mama and-

"Honey," said Beth, patting her sobbing girlfriend's back. "Talk to me, why are you crying?" 

"Maaaammmmaaa," wailed Danielle, and immediately Beth pulled the smaller woman onto her lap, rocking her back and forth gently and pressing kisses to her hair as the Dutch woman cried into her shoulder. 

"It's okay, baby," she cooed. "Mama's right here. Mama's gotcha, let it all out. Everything's gonna be okay, Mama's here, kleintje.

Hearing her Mama call her 'little one' sent Danielle further down into littlespace, and she tried to press even closer to Mama, to soak up every bit of the other woman's warmth and comfort, just in case Mama suddenly remembered that Daan was a bad little girl and decided to leave her. 

When Danielle's tears didn't taper off within a few minutes, Beth lifted the sobbing baby into her arms and carried her girlfriend to their bedroom. Her movement was somewhat limited by the fact that Danielle stayed wrapped around her like a koala and refused to let go as she searched for her little stuff, but eventually she managed to find Danielle's stuffed turtle, her pacifier, and a pull-up. She tucked the turtle into her little one's arms, but left the pull-up and the pacifier for later, when Danielle had stopped crying enough to accept them. 

The feeling of the turtle in her arms, along with still being pressed up against Mama who, it was beginning to seem, wasn't going to leave her all alone, started to calm little Danielle. Beth just held her, stroking her hair until the guilty sobs faded into guilty sniffles. Some of her little one's snot ended up on her sleeve, but Beth wasn't going to complain- Danielle had stopped crying and, even though she was pretty sure she knew what was wrong, she was going to be able to find out for sure now. 

But first... 

"Hi, love," she said, kissing Danielle's splotchy cheeks. "Mama's gonna get your pull-up on, and then we can talk. Okay?"

Danielle nodded quietly, wiping her nose on her turtle, a gesture which made Beth shake her head in amusement and adoration. She let Beth get her into the pull-up without much wiggling at all, which told the English woman that she must be very, very tired or very, very little. Or possibly some combination of both. 

Once the diaper was safely secured around her hips, Mama re-joined Danielle on the bed and opened her arms. The little girl took the invitation, scrambling as quickly as her tired little brain would let her and folding herself into Mommy's arms, sitting right on her lap, cheek pressed against her breasts. 

Mama was cozy. 

"Daan," said Mama softly, and Danielle had to hold back a tiny whimper as she remembered that Mama had said they were gonna talk. In Danielle's experience, that usually meant talk about something she had done that she wasn't supposed to do. 

Case in point: last time Mama had needed to talk to little Daan, it was because she had eaten all of the chocolate chips out of the cookies and returned the dough to the cookie jar. The time before that, she had spilled her sippy full of juice on the carpet during a playdate, then lied to Mama and told her that Vivi had done it, making the other little burst into tears, 'cause she didn't wanna get Daan in trouble but she also hadn't done it! 

"Don't worry," said Mama, interrupting Danielle's jumbled thoughts and fears. "Mama's not mad at you, princess. Mama just wants to know how she can help you feel better."

Danielle looked up at Mama with wide, confused eyes. She had yelled at Mama! Why wasn't Mama angry with her? 

"Mama," she said. "'M sorry."

Beth made a soft noise and pulled Danielle closer. 

"It's okay, angel," she cooed. "Mama knows that you were just upset. It's okay, Mama forgives you."

Those three simple words made Danielle's heart fill with warmth, before ice filled her veins again, 'cause she had almost forgotten that she was still bad. Mama had tried to make sure that they winned the game, but Daan hadn't been able to help her and so they had lost and-

"Breathe, baby," said Beth, petting Danielle's back. "It's okay. There's nothing to worry about, Mama's gotcha, I'm gonna protect you." 

Daan tried really hard to calm down, and after a moment she was clutching onto her turtle's fin, trying to find her big girl words to express how sorry she was. 

"I... Game..." was all that came out of her mouth. 

"Oh, baby," cooed Beth. "Are you upset about the game earlier?"

A tiny nod from her little one confirmed Beth's suspicions, and she pulled the blankets up over her and Danielle with one hand while keeping the other securely wrapped around her little one. 

"Everyone loses games sometimes," she said, voice full of sureity. "And it's okay. We didn't play our best game today, but that's no one person's fault, Danielle. Mama knows that you're probably angry at yourself, but it was everyone equally, okay? We can have bad games, and it doesn't make us any less of good players. Understand, dierbaar?"

Danielle nodded cautiously- Mama was really smart, and she knew so much more than little baby Daan, and so if Mama was telling her that it was okay, then that meant it was probably okay.

"Good girl," said Mama, kissing Danielle on both cheeks and then on the tip of her still slightly runny nose, making the little one giggle softly. 

"Now," continued Mama, pulling up Netflix on their TV. "How about my little baby picks out something to watch while Mama goes and orders us some pizza?"

Danielle nodded, flicking through the options and happily anticipating a night eating pizza in bed with the bestest Mama ever!

Chapter Text

"No!" 

Morgan threw her sippy cup across the room, and the lid broke loose, spreading its contents all over the wall. The juice dripped down the white paint of the wall, an orange river. Lauren, who had about to feed her little girl a forkful of broccoli, dropped the implement and stared at Morgan in disbelief. 

Had that just happened? 

A loud scream from Morgan as she wiggled around in her chair confirmed that it absolutely had, and Lauren set the fork down on the table and raced across the room to wipe up the juice before the pigment could stain her walls. She tossed a look back at her baby, a combination of furious and disbelieving.

"Stay right there," she said, wetting a washcloth and running it up and down the wall, leaving only a wet mark behind. She picked up Morgan's sippy cup, realizing that the lid had cracked- it was completely ruined. A brief sadness filled her- it was Morgan's favorite one, and she was absolutely going to be upset about it later. She dropped it in the sink to dispose of later, just so that Morgan wouldn't have to see her throw it out. 

When she turned back to her little girl, she found Morgan with a red face, rocking back and forth in her chair and screeching like a little banshee. 

"Morgan," said Lauren angrily. "Why did you throw that?" 

All the little girl did was scream some more, refusing to answer her Mommy. The front legs of her chair were lifted from the floor with the force of her stationary tantrum, but thankfully they landed back down, saving Morgan from hitting her head on the hard floor. 

So, it didn't look like Lauren was going to get answer. 

She took a deep breath and lifted her little one out of the chair. Morgan only struggled a little bit, thankfully, but it was enough for her feet to ram into Lauren's leg. The older woman carried her over towards the stool in the corner, and Morgan shrieked again, wailing in despair as she realized exactly where she was about to end up.

"No, Mommy!"

Her voice was right in Lauren's ear, and the older woman flinched at the loud noise. 

"No time out!" 

Lauren deposited Morgan on the stool, then knelt down in front of her with her hands on the little girl's knees. Morgan was still screaming in protest, but Lauren did her best to keep her voice calm.

"Morgan," she said. "You're going to sit in time out for ten minutes, and then you and Mommy are going to have a talk." 

Lauren set the kitchen timer and sat on the couch, pretending to read her book while really keeping an eye on Morgan. For the first three minutes, she was kicking her legs back and forth, stamping her feet on the ground in front of the stool. Her screams weren't as loud as they had been, and they had mostly faded by the time six minutes had passed. Her lower lip was sticking out, and frustrated, angry whimpers came out of her mouth every few seconds. 

Morgan knew she wasn't allowed to talk while she was in time out, unless it was an emergency- like if she needed to go potty or if something hurt- and so the only noise that came past the eight minute mark was the sound of the timer beeping, signalling to Morgan that her time out was over. The little girl waited until her Mommy had gotten up to turn off the timer and then walked over to pick her up, out of the chair. 

Morgan's arms wrapped around Lauren's neck, completely limp as her Mommy carried her over to the couch. Lauren made sure Morgan was settled on her lap, leaning against her shoulder, before she started to talk.

"Morgan," she said. "Do you want to tell Mommy why you were throwing a tantrum?"

Morgan shook her head against Lauren's shoulder, burying her head. 

"Are you sure? Something must be bothering you, bean, and Mommy wants to know so that I can help you."

Gently, Lauren held Morgan's chin and raised her head so that she was looking into her little girl's wide eyes. They stared at each other for a moment before Morgan suddenly burst into tears, wailing in sadness rather than frustration.

"Baby girl," said Lauren, letting go of Morgan's chin and pulling her back against her shoulder, rocking her back and forth. "Baby girl, it's okay. Mommy's here, mommy's here. It's all gonna be okay, Mommy's gotcha."

Morgan's tears were soaking Lauren's shoulder as her Mommy rocked her, cooing comfortingly in her ear. She was whimpering something, but she was crying too hard for Lauren to understand what she was saying. 

"Shh," said Lauren, kissing Morgan's head. "Let it out, baby bean."

Morgan was still wailing, but she lifted her head just enough to cry into Lauren's ear.

"Don' wanna... Wan' be in T-T-Texassss!"

Lauren's heart sank. She had been considering bringing this up with Morgan, but had thought better of it. If her little girl wanted to talk about it, she figured, she would come to her. But now she was regretting that decision- maybe she should have asked Morgan if she was okay. It might have backfired, and landed them in this situation anyway, but maybe it would have made it better. She had hoped that Morgan wasn't upset about this, but who wouldn't be?

"Oh," she said, clasping Morgan closer to her and hearing her pull-up crinkle as the little girl shifted position. "Oh, baby girl, Mommy's here. Mommy loves you, Moe-Moe. Mommy knows that you want to be in Texas right now, but sweetie..."

Lauren didn't know what to say. There was nothing that she really could say to make her feel better- all she could do was rock her baby, petting her hair and waiting for Morgan to stop sobbing so that they could talk about this a little more. 

By the time Morgan's tears tapered off, Lauren's sweatshirt shoulder was soaked, and the little girl was snuffling in exhaustion. 

"Honey," said Lauren. "Mommy loves you so much. Do you have enough words to tell Mommy how you're feeling?"

Morgan sniffled again, and Lauren gave her another kiss on the top of her head. 

"I- I- I wanna... t-tell..."

"Moe-Moe," said Lauren, squeezing her little one tighter. "Mommy promises that I'll listen to whatever you wanna say, and Mommy will never ever judge you. You're so safe with me, you're so loved, and you're so valued."

Morgan snuggled impossibly closer, playing with a lock of Lauren's hair. 

"Mmkay," she whimpered. "I... I jus' wanna... Wan' be good 'nuff. Not good 'nuff." 

Lauren had been expecting something like this, but it still broke her heart to hear. Her poor little baby, feeling so sad about herself because she wasn't in Texas with the team. She was glad that Morgan had chosen to come be with her while the CONCACAF team was playing, but she knew that her darling would rather be with her team. 

All she could do was comfort her, really.

"Baby girl," she cooed. "Mommy loves you so much. My sweet little girl, you are more than good enough. You are amazing, love. Just because you missed out on this one time, it doesn't mean that you're not good enough. Mommy promises, baby." 

Morgan whimpered, wiping her nose on her sleeve and wrapping her arms around Lauren. 

"Real'y, Mommy?" 

"Really," she said, kissing her little one again and squeezing her tightly. "You're my angel, any Mommy is so glad that you're here with me, that you're letting me take care of you. Now," she continued.

"How about we go read a book? You don't need to think of anything else, let's just have a nice week, just you and Mommy."

Morgan nodded, kissing Lauren on the cheek. Lauren let out a relieved breath and scooped her little one into her arms, carrying her off towards her room. 

Chapter Text

Hope hadn't even thought about this. She had been so overjoyed to be pregnant again, after what had happened. She couldn't wait to have her babies, her little boy and girl, that she hadn't quite thought everything through. There was a detail that she forgot. 

She wanted to slap herself, calling Carli a detail. Her best friend wasn't a detail, she was someone who needed her. Who... who really, really needed her. 

"Shh," she said, petting the younger woman's hair. She could feel Carli's eyes boring into her stomach, glaring through her tears. "It's okay, love." 

Carli wailed, shaking her head.

"No," she screeched. "You not gonna love me anymore!

The statement made Hope bite her lip to keep the emotion down. It hurt to hear, but she was glad they were dealing with this now, rather than waiting for the babies to be born, when Hope wouldn't have the energy for this type of conversation. 

"No, honey," she cooed, drawing Carli closer to her, the younger's head buried in her shoulder, tears soaking the fabric of her old tee shirt. "I'm always gonna love you."

Carli shook her head wildly, shoving away from Hope and dashing across to the bathroom. It took Hope a second before she dragged herself to her feet to follow her best friend. Before she got there, the lock clicked.

Carli had locked her out. 

Hope swallowed around the lump in her throat, and then tapped on the door. 

"Baby," she said. "Baby girl, please let me in. Mommy wants to talk to you."

She could hear Carli sobbing, and she wished that she could just break down the door, and wrap her sweetheart in her arms. 

"No," she heard. "Mommy doesn't wan' me."

Hope tapped on the door again.

"Yes," she said. "Love, I do. I love you, Carli, and I will always want you."

No response, except for a pained sob. 

"Carli," said Hope, banging on the door harder and harder, getting more and more worried the longer her baby girl was separated from her by a locked door. "Carli, please! Please, let me in! Please, let Mommy hold you!" 

"Mommy," whimpered Carli, but she still didn't open the door. Hope took a deep breath and knocked again on the door, more gently this time. 

"Baby? Baby girl, please let Mommy in. Mommy wants to hold you, angel." 

She swore, if Carli didn't let her in, she was going to kick down the door, pregnant or not. Then, blessedly, she heard a click, and the door swung open to reveal her baby girl, eyes red and tears still dripping down her cheeks at a steady rate. She only opened the door a crack, but it was enough for Hope to stick a foot in it, just in case Carli tried to shut it again, and work her way in, pulling Carli into her arms.

"Come on, baby," she said, stroking her crying baby's back. "Let's go sit on the couch, angel. Mommy wants to talk to you, okay?"

Carli wailed a little bit, sniffling, and let Hope lead her to the couch. The older woman sat down first, settling herself before pulling Carli down to sit beside her. The little girl, still crying, immediately snuggled into her side, burying her teary face in her shoulder and wiping her nose a little bit. 

"Mommy," she whimpered again. "Gon' leave me."

Hope bit her lip, blinking back tears. All she wanted to do was protest vehemently, shake Carli and say it over and over again until her baby girl finally believed her. 

"No," she cooed. "No, no, baby girl. Mommy's not leaving you. Mommy loves you, you're my baby."

Carli shook her head into Hope's shoulder. 

"Nuh uh," she cried. "Mommy's gon' h-h-have t-two babiesss! Not gonna need baby C-Carli anymor-re! Not gon' love b-baby girl!" 

Hope let a few tears escape from the corner of her eyes. Her heart had sunk all the way into her stomach, and she pulled Carli closer and planted kisses on her hair, running her fingers through her baby girl's ponytail. 

"No," protested Hope. "I will always love you! Even if Mommy had a hundred babies, I will always, always love my baby Carli." 

Carli sobbed again, shifting a little bit to try and get somehow closer. Hope, taking a risk, lifted her baby girl's chin and met her eyes. She was whimpering, and tears hit Hope's hand. 

"Shh," Hope cooed. "Everything's gonna be okay. Mommy loves you more than anything. Mommy always wants to be here for her sweet baby Carli." 

Carli looked at her with such sad eyes, such heartbreak and fear, and Hope pulled the baby back to sit on her lap, curled around her tummy, and just let her cry herself out. She kissed every part of her baby's face that she could reach, waiting for Carli's tears to finish. 

"Does that feel better, angel?"

Hope had expected her baby to nod- a good cry usually made Carli feel better. But this time, Carli just shrugged. 

"Oh, love," cooed Hope. "Why not? Do you want to tell Mommy what's bothering you?"

"M-Mommy not gon' love C-Carli anym-more. Not n-need, have real babies. M-Mommy only one who... who l-love..."

Carli's voice was shuddering as if she was preparing to start crying again, and Hope wasn't far from joining her. She knew now, what Carli was thinking. 

"Oh, love," she cooed, swallowing around a sizable, rough lump in her throat. "No, no. Mommy loves you so much, but Mommy isn't the only one who loves you. Not at all. Mommy promises."

Carli looked up at her with wide eyes, showing such blind faith, such trust in her beautiful Mommy, finally beginning to be reassured by the soft words and the soft touch. Taking advantage of the end of her little one's sobs, Hope jumped on the opportunity to continue cooing soft reassurances. Carli took a shuddering breath. 

"Mommy pwomise? N-Not gon' leave li'l baby?"

Hope nodded, rocking Carli back and forth and stroking her hair. 

"Mommy promises, my sweet baby Carli. Mommy will always be there for her sweet little girl. You're my first baby girl, Carli. I love you, I love you, I love you."

Hope didn't even realize that soft tears were dripping down her cheeks until a soft little hand came up to pat her cheek, wiping at the wetness. 

"Mommy no cry," whispered Carli, using her other hand to tug gently on a strand of Hope's hair. "Baby sowwy." 

Hope smiled through her tears, bending down and planting a kiss to Carli's forehead. 

"It's okay, love," said the older woman. "Everything's gonna be okay. We'll always have each other, my precious one." 

Chapter Text

Hope decided that she would let Carli take her nap before they talked any more. 

She always put her little girl down for naps in their bed, and even though she herself wouldn't be sleeping, she always stayed until Carli drifted off into dreamland. The older woman would stay with Carli, holding her hand or snuggling her until she felt the baby fall asleep, and then she would usually tiptoe out and get some chores done before making sure she was back by the time Carli woke up. Today, though, she decided to stay in the bedroom with her little one. 

Hope was trying to read her book, but really she was glancing down at it in between gazes at Carli, rather than the other way around. The baby still had one of her hands held in Hope's own, and she was sucking innocently on her pacifier, cuddling her stuffed dog with the other hand. Occasionally, she would snuffle or shift, and Hope would run her thumb over the back of Carli's hand to soothe her back to a peaceful sleep. 

Her mind kept fluttering back to the conversation they'd had before the baby had started rubbing her eyes, signalling to Mommy that she was tired. She knew that Carli didn't have to worry about her Mommy leaving her- Carli had stuck by her through everything, and Hope was sure as hell going to do the same- but the line that kept eating at her brain was one that hurt her heart.

Carli hadn't quite finished her sentence, but Hope had known what she was going to say. That Hope was the only one who loved her. 

Hope put her book down- she definitely wasn't going to read it, not until later at least, when she had gotten to the bottom of the reason why Carli felt that way. And that would have to wait until her precious one had finished napping. The former keeper stroked Carli's forehead, brushing back strands of hair that had fallen into her eyes. The baby's eyelashes fluttered, but she didn't wake, just gave her pacifier another suckle.

Hope sat at Carli's bedside, holding her hand and stroking her cheeks, until the baby yawned and started to wake. Carli's paci fell from her mouth and she rubbed her eyes. Hope couldn't stop herself from cooing in adoration at her little baby girl- Carli was cute all the time, but sleepy Carli was especially adorable. 

"Hey, bug," said Hope, picking up Carli's paci and putting it on the bedside table. "Did you have a nice nap?"

Carli yawned again, nodding and sitting up, reaching her arms up for Hope. The older woman hefted her little one up into her arms, but it was very difficult to lift her with her pregnant belly, so she just helped her out of bed and held her hand. Carli whimpered a little bit, but grudgingly accepted the fact that Mommy couldn't lift her for a little while, unless it was really really necessary. She trailed behind Hope, letting her Mommy lead her by the hand to the nursery which was beside their room. 

Their house was big enough that, when the babies were born, Carli wouldn't lose her nursery, a fact that had made her little girl smile happily and give her Mommy a big kiss on the cheek. Hope helped Carli up onto their adult-sized changing table, as she always did following the little girl's naps, and kissed her forehead before undoing her wet diaper. Carli made nonsensical noises as Hope smiled down at her, kissing her forehead before changing her into a brand new diaper. 

"There we go," said Hope, kissing both of Carli's cheeks and causing the little girl to giggle softly, patting her Mommy's own cheek. 

"Soft," she whispered, still holding onto her stuffed puppy. Hope lifted Carli down off the changing table, then led her back out to the couch. Hope sat down first and patted her lap, and Carli took the seat eagerly, leaning against her Mommy's shoulder. Hope took a deep breath- Carli was in such a good mood, and she didn't want to accidentally ruin it by talking about her earlier comment, but it was... worrying, to say the least. Even if it made Carli upset, Hope had to talk about it. 

"Princess," she said, brushing a lock of Carli's hair behind her ear. "Mommy wants to talk to you for a minute, okay?"

Carli nodded, wrapping a strand of Hope's hair around her fingers. 

"Mommy," she said, nuzzling her face against Hope. The older woman kissed her hair, steeling herself.

"Princess," Hope repeated. "Mommy needs to hear a little bit more about something you said earlier, okay?"

Carli nodded again, chewing on Hope's hair. Normally, the older woman would stop her and give her her pacifier, but it was too far away, and Carli was just too precious. 

"Sweetie pie," she said. "When you and Mommy were talking earlier, you... you said that Mommy is the only one who loves you. I'm gonna ask Big Carli about this too, but Mommy needs to hear why her sweet little girl feels that way."

Carli shifted on Hope's lap, making a displeased noise. She just wanted to snuggle and play with Mommy, she didn't wanna have to talk about the things that made her sad! Hope cooed comfortingly, rocking her gently and letting her continue to suck on her hair. 

"Love," said the former keeper. "Mommy loves you bunches, and Mommy promises that you're safe. Mommy won't ever judge you- never ever. Everything you say stays between you and Mommy, and Mommy just wants to help you feel better. Okay?" 

Carli nodded cautiously. 

"'Kay, Mommy," she whispered. "I... j-just..."

Carli was having trouble with her words, as she often did when she was upset and little. Hope was always patient with her, and today was no exception.

"Take your time, princess," she said. "Mommy's here."

"J-Jus'... Is always real' lonely wifout Mommy. Don' got Mommy wif me all time, and ev'ybody else already gots their frens. 'M sorry Mommy." 

Hope pulled Carli closer to her, planting kisses all over her hair, wishing more than ever that she hadn't given US soccer exactly what they needed to fire her, that she could still be with Carli all the time. But, all she could do was hold her little girl, convince her that her teammates weren't meaning to ignore her, even though she couldn't help but want to yell at every single one of them for accidentally making her baby girl feel like this. 

"Oh," said Hope. "Does my baby girl feel lonely without Mommy?"

Carli nodded, flushing red and trying not to let Mommy hear that she was holding back whimpers. Hope shifted Carli so that the baby was no longer sitting in her lap, but rather cradled in her arms. 

"Honey," she said, looking down at her little girl. "I'm so sorry you feel that way. But Mommy isn't the only one who loves you. Not even a little bit. Mommy loves you so much, but everybody else loves you too! The whole team loves you very, very much." 

Carli sniffled, trying to believe the older woman. Mommy was usually right, after all- she was Mommy, and Carli was just a tiny baby. She wracked through her brains, trying to think of people other than Mommy who loved her. 

Auntie Kelley, she guessed. Ali and Ashlyn. Sonnett loved everybody. She was sure there were others, but she was too tiny to think of them right now.

"Do you believe Mommy?"

Carli nodded, sitting up a little bit and burying her face in Hope's chest. The older woman smiled in relief, stroking her baby's hair again. 

"Mommy's so proud of you," she said, and she felt Carli's smile. "You're Mommy's beautiful, perfect princess." 

Carli's smile widened, and Hope heard her whisper "'ove Mommy," into her chest. 

"I love you too," said Hope. "Now, how about you pick out a movie while Mommy starts some spaghetti? After we eat dinner, Mommy'll get you your bottle, okay?" 

Carli nodded, nuzzling Hope's breasts and watching her Mommy as she extricated herself from beneath her baby girl and went off to the kitchen to start their dinner. Her diaper crinkled as she shifted, turning on the TV and starting to look through Disney movies. 

Hope smiled at her baby from the next room. She had no idea how she'd gotten so lucky. 

Chapter Text

There was nothing better after a long game, according to Ali Krieger, than spending time with her wife. She and Ashlyn weren't rooming together, but given the fact that they had just won a game and wouldn't be playing again until Friday, their roommates agreed to switch, meaning that Ali and Ashlyn were currently cuddled together on the bed, with the defender stroking the goalkeeper's hair. 

"Mommy," whispered the goalkeeper, scooting a little bit closer to her wife. "Can we... Can we watch movie?" 

Ali smiled, kissing Ashlyn's forehead.

"Sure we can, baby girl! But, how about we get ready for bed first, so that my baby can fall asleep whenever she wants to?"

Ali posed it as a question, but she knew that they were going to be getting ready for bed, whether Ashlyn liked it or not. Thankfully, her little girl nodded cooperatively- not that Ali had expected anything else. They were both tired, and her sweetheart was always very good at listening anyway. 

"Okay, Mommy!" 

Ashlyn gave a yawn, and Ali gave her another kiss before hopping up from the bed and digging through her suitcase for the bag where she kept Ashlyn's little stuff. The little girl bounced lightly on the bed, playing absently with her fingers while she waited for her Mommy to have all of her little stuff ready.

"All right," said Ali, popping back up with Ashlyn's pajamas and pull-up, as well as her little girl's stuffed shark. 

"Time to get you all changed, pumpkin!" 

Ashlyn smiled happily and made grabby hands for her shark, snuggling it against her face when Ali handed it over right away. The older woman couldn't help but smile at her little girl, taking out her cellphone and snapping a quick picture of Ashlyn with her stuffed toy. 

"Mommmmmyyyyy," groaned Ashlyn in annoyance.

"Sorry, baby," laughed Ali. "My baby girl is just too cute! Can I send this to Auntie Megan?" 

Ashlyn nodded absently, making her shark swim across the bedsheets, and Ali sent the picture to Megan with several heart emojis. Then, putting her phone down on the bedside table, she patted the edge of the bed. The younger woman crawled over obediently, raising her arms above her head. Ali ruffled her hair before pulling her shirt off over her head, followed quickly by her bra, and replaced them with one of Ashlyn's tank tops. 

"Okay, baby," said Ali, gently guiding Ashlyn to lie back down on her back. "Time to get you in your pull-up!"

Ashlyn nodded, playing with her shark while Ali pulled her sweats and underwear off of her. The little girl wasn't the least bit embarrassed about it- she just lay there cooperatively while Ali guided her to lift her hips, sliding a pull-up underneath them and fastening it firmly. Ashlyn had never really been embarrassed by pull-ups- not because she was extra small, more because it was Mommy. Mommy never judged her, Mommy was safe and gentle. 

"Thank you for being so good, baby," praised Ali. "Now, do you want your cozy bottoms?"

Ashlyn nodded happily, bouncing her hips up and down in excitement and giggling softly at the way her pull-up crinkled as she moved. She was too absorbed in snuggling her shark to notice Ali smiling adoringly at her. Mommy lifted Ashlyn's legs up a little bit and slid her fuzzy pajama bottoms on over the pull-up. They had little sharks on them, and had been a birthday gift from Auntie Megan on the girl's last birthday. 

"Good baby," said Ali, as Ashlyn clambered back up to sit on her butt, then planted her feet onto the floor. She toddled after Ali to the bathroom and let her Mommy brush her teeth. She swung her feet absently, sitting on the toilet, while Mommy did her own teeth, and then followed the older woman back to the bed. 

"Okay," said Ali, opening her arms and letting Ashlyn fall into them, snuggling against Mommy's chest. "What movie does my baby shark want to watch?" 

Ashlyn giggled softly at the nickname- even though Mommy thought the song was annoying, she loved hearing the older woman call her that. 

"Hmmm," she said, trying to think. "I... Umm..."

It was Ali's turn to laugh, kissing Ashlyn on the forehead. 

"Are you having a little bit of trouble,pumpkin?" 

Ashlyn nodded, furrowing her eyebrows as she thought about what movie she wanted to watch. There were so many, and she really wanted to watch so many of them, but she could only watch one, and it was so hard to pick! 

"Do you want Mommy to choose, precious?" 

Ashlyn wrapped her arms around Mommy's neck and gave her a kiss on the cheek- Mommy always seemed to know what little baby Ash needed!

Ali flicked through their Disney+ account, stroking her baby's hair with the hand not clicking the remote. Ashlyn didn't really care what Mommy picked for them to watch, because the older woman's hands felt so super good in her hair, scritching softly. She yawned, popping the tail of her shark into her mouth and sucking on it lightly. 

"How about Finding Nemo?"

Ashlyn nodded absently at Mommy's suggestion, letting her eyes drift shut as the older woman pressed Play. The opening credits had barely ended before Ashlyn's tired little eyes could barely hold themselves open. The little girl hadn't thought that she was going to get this tired- but there was just something about being all cozy, snuggling with her shark, snuggling with Mommy, with soft music playing, that made her want to just go to sleep.

"Aww," cooed Ali. "My sleepy little baby. It's okay, Ash, you can fall asleep. You've had a big day, baby. Mommy's right here, Mommy's gotcha. Sleep, Ash."

Ashlyn did, all safe and snuggly in her Mommy's arms. 

 

Chapter Text

It was Tobin Heath's firm opinion that her Mommy was absolutely the most amazing person in the entire universe. Like, even more than anybody ever! Before she had entered the game, she had been sitting on the sidelines, entranced as she watched her Mommy play, kick the ball forward and send it flying into the goal, out of reach of the keeper to put the United States up. 

The rest of the team, sitting on the bench with her, was cheering for Christen's goals as well, celebrating on the sidelines as each minute brought them closer and closer to winning the group and hopefully having an easier matchup in the all-important semifinal, but no one was anywhere near as excited as Tobin. 

Tobin was hovering on the edge of littlespace as she watched her Mommy play, shaking her legs in excitement and clapping her hands whenever Mommy touched the ball. 

"Go, Mommy," she whispered on the sidelines, still big enough to realize that the cameras and microphones were gonna hear her if she yelled as loudly as she wanted to. 

But, she was pretty sure Mommy knew that she was cheering for her, if the little wave Christen gave her as she ran by was any indication. The small gesture made Tobin bounce a little bit, waving back and letting a big big smile spread across her face. 

Mommy was so cool!!!! 

Tobin had to pull herself back away from the edge of littlespace when Vlatko subbed her in, but as soon as the final whistle sounded, she allowed her shoulders to relax and the feeling to return. 

"Mommy!"

She squealed and dashed into Christen's arms, and the striker bent her knees to catch Tobin and pick her up, spinning her around in a little circle. Tobin wrapped her legs around Mommy's waist, arms around her neck, the way she had wanted to run out onto the field and climb on her when Mommy had scored her first goal of the night. 

"Hi, monkey!"

Christen bounced Tobin in her arms, and the little girl took one of her hands and pulled at Mommy's bun, pulling little bits of hair out and giggling when Christen kissed her on the cheek. 

"Are you playing with Mommy's hair, pumpkin?" 

Tobin nodded absently- Mommy's hair was fun and all, but there was something even more important to talk about than how soft Christen's bun was in her hands.

The rest of the team was smiling at them- they were all impressed with Christen's performance, but they all knew that no one else was getting anywhere near her to congratulate her as long as Tobin had her attention. 

Which, it seemed, was going to be for the foreseeable future. 

"Mommy scored goals!"

Christen laughed at the little one's undeniable statement as she carried Tobin back to the bus, kissing her little one's cheek again. Ever humble, she didn't acknowledge her own stellar performance, and instead continued to carry Tobin, blushing redder and redder as her little girl talked all about how many goals Mommy had scored, and how Mommy was so so so good, and that she was the bestest Mommy ever! 

They took their normal seats, except with Tobin snuggled up on Christen's lap instead of seated beside her, leaning against her chest and bouncing, slower now. The exertion of the game- which normally would barely have fazed big Tobin- was starting to get to little Tobin. 

But that didn't stop her from wanting to brag about her amazing Mommy. 

And so, she reached over and tapped Ali's shoulder. The defender turned around, picking her head up against Ashlyn's shoulder and rubbing the sleep away from her eyes. 

"Auntie Ali!"

Tobin tapped the older woman again, worried that the defender somehow hadn't taken notice of her. 

"Yeah, honey?"

Satisfied that Ali was paying attention to her, Tobin poked Christen's face, drawing Ali's gaze to her blushing Mommy. 

"Didja see Mommy? She was scorin' goals!" 

Ali smiled, heart melting at Tobin's antics, and she reached behind the seats to ruffle the little one's hair. 

"I did see, sweetie. She was scoring really good goals!" 

Tobin nodded proudly as Christen buried her reddening face in her baby's hair. The little girl could feel her smile on her skin, and turned back around to nuzzle closer.

"I bet she was super glad to have her little monkey cheering for her," continued Ali, and now it was Tobin's turn to blush a little bit. 

"Really?"

Christen nodded, adjusting Tobin on her lap and kissing her hair. The little girl snuggled closer, thumb drifting to her mouth, allowing herself to get sleepy now that she had done her job and bragged about her Mommy. 

"Really," said the striker as Tobin's thumb pushed past her lips, beginning to lull her towards sleep. "Mommy scores her best goals when I've got my little pumpkin there with me." 

As Ali turned back around to lean against a lightly snoring Ashlyn, Christen petted Tobin's hair, watching her little girl's eyes drift shut and send her off to dream about all the goals her Mommy would score in the semifinal. 

Chapter Text

There was a commotion in the room next to hers- Kelley could hear it through the walls. 

Normally, of course, she would be the one causing the commotion. And, if she wasn't, she wouldn't be worried about it. After all, the team was full of crazy fuckers who had no qualms about making a large amount of noise. But, the room next to hers just happened to be Emily's. And Emily had just happened to seem extraordinary grumpy earlier today.

A panicked voice was audible through the thin hotel walls- Emily's roommate, one of the only people who had no clue what was going on, and no way of knowing that Kelley was the person who needed to be found, preferably quickly. 

"Emily," came the voice. "Emily, what's happening?"

Emily was in no position to answer, and Kelley sprang up from her bed and dashed out the door, not even bothering with shoes. She didn't knock, just flung the neighboring door open and shoved past Emily's roommate to find her little one, rocking back and forth, breathing heavily in between sobs. 

"Emily, Em, baby," she said, kneeling next to her little one in the space between the window and the bed. "Em, c'mere. Mommy's here, don't cry. Come to Mommy."

Emily threw herself forwards into Kelley's arms, sobbing into her shoulder. Kelley stroked a hand through her hair, rocking Emily gently while whispering soft nothings into her ears.

"Mommy's here," she cooed. "Mommy loves you, what's wrong muffin?" 

Emily snuggled closer to Kelley, balling up the bottom of the older defender's shirt in her fist and wiping the still rapidly flowing tears on Kelley's shoulder. She didn't answer the question.

"What... What can I... Kelley, what's going on?"

Sophia Smith sounded like she was on the verge of tears, so utterly confused by what was happening in front of her. 

"What can I do to help?"

Kelley felt a flash of pity for the confused teenager. Well, until Emily took that moment to answer Kelley's question, and pointed across the room with the hand not holding onto Kelley's shirt. Straight at Sophia. 

"Caaaan'tttt," she wailed. "No wanna!"

Even though she knew that it wasn't Sophia's fault at all, that it had been the young woman's mere presence that had set Emily off, not anything she had directly done, Kelley couldn't contain a glare. 

"C-Can I help?"

Sophia asked the question again, and this time Kelley had an answer. She jerked her head towards the door.

"You can leave," she said. "Until Emily feels better." 

Sophia nodded, utterly confused as she backed out of the room, watching Kelley return her complete attention to Emily, helping her up onto the bed and wrapping her arms tightly around her. She lingered in the hallway outside her room, not sure what she had done to make the older player so upset. Or, really, what to do with herself while she waited.

She brushed furiously at her eyes- how had she already messed up? 

Luckily for the teenager, the commotion in her and Emily's room had been heard by people other than Kelley. Specifically, she was rescued by one Tobin Heath, who put an arm around her shoulder and led her to the lobby, where there were plenty of comfortable couches. Sophia followed, not saying a word. Tobin patted the couch next to her, and the teen sat gingerly on the edge of it, trying to hide her face so that her future teammate wouldn't see that she was on the verge of tears. 

"What happened?"

Tobin's voice was so calming that Sophia found herself blurting out the entire story, every detail from how Emily had taken one look at who her roommate was going to be and burst into tears, to how Emily had called Kelley Mommy, and finally how both of them seemed to blame Sophia for the entire thing. 

"Ah," said Tobin, rubbing her back gently and handing her a tissue. "That... sucks. Vlatko really should have thought more carefully about who he roomed together." 

"What... What was that?"

Tobin's explanation only answered some of Sophia's questions. She found out that Emily was what one might call a little, that she was younger sometimes and that Kelley took care of her. Tobin smiled as she talked about how the entire team knew about it, but had thought it was best that they wait to tell their new arrival. Tobin herself, along with Christen took care of a little, Sophia found out, although she wouldn't say who it was. That still didn't explain, however, what had set Emily off. 

"Sophia," said Tobin, looking seriously at her. "I need you to do something for all of us, okay?"

Sophia nodded quickly- she would do basically anything to avoid having her teammates angry at her, especially this early in the camp. 

"I need you to give Emily some time," said the older woman. "She's going through a lot right now, and having to see you certainly isn't helping her." 

"B-But," stuttered the teen. "What did I even do?"

Tobin handed her another tissue.

"Emily is in a lot of pain," she continued. "Basically, Portland is all she's ever known in her professional career, and Mark traded her away from all of her friends so that he could have you. It's not your fault," she said quickly, as Sophia opened her mouth. 

"It's just... Give her time. Right now, she's still hurting a lot. But she'll warm up to you, I promise. She is Emily Sonnett after all. I don't think there's a vengeful bone in that girl's body." 

Sophia nodded- she was glad that she hadn't managed to offend her teammate directly, but her chest still hurt a little bit when she thought about why Emily had been crying. And how, no matter what Tobin said, it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for her. 

"Hey," said the older woman. "Don't worry about, Sophia. It's gonna be okay. I promise." 

Tobin gave her a pat on the shoulder and got up, returning a few minutes later with two slices of (definitely not diet approved) pizza- enough to tide Sophia over until she was no longer an exile from her own room.

"By the way," said Tobin as she shoved a slice into her own mouth. "Emily's probably going to be staying in Kelley's room tonight."

The teenager's shoulders relaxed and a wave of relief swept over her- she was glad that she wouldn't have to look at Emily's tearstained face, and feel even worse than she already did. 

Give her time.

Tobin's voice echoed in her head as they took the pitch the following day. Kelley gave her an apologetic nod, and Emily just a hint of the start of a smile. 

They weren't friends yet, but it was a start. 

Chapter Text

It was dark underneath her bed, especially with the blankets pulled over her head, and a stuffie covering her eyes. 

It was like a fort- a nice, cozy warm fort. Mommy and Auntie used to build forts with her, out of chairs and blankies and pillows. She would spend hours in those forts, playing with her stuffies and coloring and flipping through picture books. Sometimes Mommy or Auntie would join her, or they would pass her yummy snacks like goldfishies or juice boxes!

But, even though she was under some blankets, snuggling her stuffies, this wasn't a fort, and neither Mommy or Auntie were gonna hand her any snacks. 'Cause Mommy and Auntie had just... just left her. Ellie was all alone in the apartment, so little and all alone.

She knew that they were glad they hadn't had to look at her when she found out. They wouldn't have been able to stand seeing the look in Ellie's eyes when she realized that she was going to be all alone next season. 


When she had seen them for the first time, at Matildas camp, she had seen the guilt in their eyes. Auntie Hayley had tried to give her a hug, but Ellie had stiffened, turning away and trying not to regress when she heard her auntie swallowing around her tears. It had been harder to resist when Mommy tried.

Caitlin had opened her arms, silently beckoning for Ellie to fall into her arms. She waited while her little girl warred with herself. God, she had wanted to fall forwards into Mommy's comfy arms, wanted to be comforted and rocked back and forth, but she was also... 

She was... 

She was so angry. 

Cause Mommy was leaving her! And Auntie Hayley was leaving her, and she was going to be all alone! There would be nobody to take care of her, and it wasn't fair! 

So, she had collapsed into Alanna's arms instead, letting the older woman stroke her hair gently, rock her back and forth and whisper comforts into her ear. At least Alanna was still gonna be in the country! Even if she was all the way in Florida, she was still in America, and she would be playing against Ellie at some points, and so maybe she could take care of her a little bit. 

"Shh, honey," cooed the older woman. "I've gotcha." 

As Ellie sobbed in the older Australian's arms, she covered her ears and pretended she didn't hear Mommy crying too. 

The rest of camp was almost unbearably awkward. When Ellie had to be near Mommy or Auntie Hayley, she would shut down, or cling to anyone who was nearby, particularly Alanna and Lydia. Mommy and Auntie Hayley kept trying to come near her, to say something or just to hold her, but Ellie wouldn't let them. No matter how much she wanted to. 

One day, near the end of camp, Ellie had been sitting on her bed, playing on her phone, when she heard footsteps in her room. Normally, she would have just assumed it was her roommate, but there were two pairs of footsteps. She looked up at the sound of the door shutting, and her lip immediately began to tremble when she saw exactly who was standing there. 

Mommy and Auntie Hayley were standing in her room, and both of them were looking at her with pleading eyes. 

"Ellie," whispered Mommy. "Baby, please let us talk to you." 

Ellie shook her head, beginning to pull the covers over her head, trying to escape. But Auntie Hayley sprang forwards and gently grabbed her wrist. 

"Honey," she said. "Please. Your Mommy and I really need to talk to you."

Then Mommy was sitting on the other side of her, gently and tentatively putting a hand on her shoulder, and she was collapsing into her arms, and crying, crying so hard. 

Mommy was immediately stroking her back, rocking her back and forth and trying to comfort her. Auntie Hayley wrapped her arms around both of them, surrounding Ellie with her familiar scent. Ellie couldn't speak, she was sobbing so hard into her Mommy's shoulder and letting Auntie Hayley rub her head, playing with her hair. 

Both Caitlin and Hayley were crying too, quietly, so that Ellie couldn't hear them. 

They let her cry, rocking her and just cherishing the feeling of having her in their arms again. 

"Little Joey," whispered Caitlin, making Ellie sob even more at the sound of the nickname. "Mommy's gotcha, Mommy's here. We're both right here." 

Ellie finally stopped crying, hiccuping as her sobs faded into sniffles. Caitlin and Hayley wiped their eyes, then Caitlin used her sleeve to wipe her little girl's eyes. 

"Ellie, baby," cooed Hayley. "We love you so much."

Ellie shook her head, whimpering in misery.

"Nuh," she cried. "Don' love me!"

Caitlin's heart broke a little bit more as she held Ellie close. 

"Honey," she whispered. "We love you so much. So much. Even though we... even though we're leaving for England, we still love our sweet little one. And we're so sorry, Ellie. We never... We just..."

Caitlin trailed off, burying her face in Ellie's silky hair and letting a few more tears fall. 

"Why," whispered Ellie. "Why Mommy 'n Auntie leavin' Ellie?"

Neither of the women had an answer for her- all they could do was hold her close, stroking her hair and back and letting her drift off to sleep in their arms. The last thing that the youngest Australian heard before drifting off into an exhausted sleep was Mommy whispering that she loved her so much. 

As they watched Ellie sleep, Caitlin and Hayley had no idea what to do. When each of them had made the decision to go overseas, it had been under the assumption that the other would still be in Portland, that there would still be someone there to take care of the baby. But now, all they could do was hope and pray.

Pray that someone in Portland would be able to step up and care for Ellie during the regular season. And that the time would fly, pass so quickly that they would have their little girl back in their arms. 


Ellie knew that Mommy and Auntie loved her- they texted that to her every day, many times. But, wrapped in her blanket under her bed, snuggling her stuffie close, she still couldn't help but be lonely. 

Chapter Text

Ali and Ashlyn owed him for this. Big time. 

When his sister-in-law had called him and asked him to babysit, he thought they'd had a bad connection at first. But, if not, he had assumed that he'd be watching Storm and Logan. Dogs. Not... this. 

Ashlyn had only been able to offer a brief explanation before she had needed to turn to the problem at hand, but even that brief explanation only made Kyle more confused. This was not helped by the fact that the problem at hand was his little sister, screaming and crying and clinging tightly to her wife's leg as Ashlyn tried to extricate herself from her grasp without accidentally hurting either of them. 

"Ali, baby," cooed Ashlyn. "Mommy has to take Storm to the vet, and I can't bring you with me. So, honey, you've gotta let go." 

Ashlyn's words did not seem to comfort Ali, who just clung on tighter. Ashlyn bent down to run a hand through her hair, still wiggling her leg to try and free herself, and return to the sick puppy waiting in the car for her. 

"Love," continued the younger woman. "Mommy'll be back really soon, I promise. But baby girl, Mommy needs you to stay here with Kyle so I can go make sure that Stormy is all okay." 

As Ali wound up to scream again, Ashlyn took the opportunity to pull her leg free from Ali's grasp, handing Kyle a bag of... things? He wasn't sure what was in them, but to be fair, his focus was largely on his sister, throwing a tantrum as her... Mommy? Ashlyn kissed her forehead before dashing out the door, preventing Ali from getting a good grip on her leg again. 

That left Kyle alone with his baby sister, who was apparently quite a bit more like a baby than she usually was. And she was screaming, and he had no idea what to do with her. Already, he prayed for Ashlyn to hurry up and get back, to save him from this awkwardness. 

"Ali," he said, trying to keep the panic out of his voice. "Ali, are you okay?" 

Ali looked up at him, and even through her tears the little one managed to give him an impressive glare. Obviously, she was saying without words, she was really not okay!!!!!!! 

He sat down on the couch, hoping that his baby sister would just stop crying, and join him. Maybe it would be a little less awkward. But, as she continued to wail on the floor, sitting by the door and waiting for her- God, he was still having trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that his little sister was calling her wife Mommy- Mommy to come back and take her away from her babysitter. 

Kyle opened the bag that Ashlyn had left him with, looking through to see what he had to work with. 

A few picture books- some of them he even recognized from when they were actual kids- accompanied by a fluffy stuffed dog. Those were the easiest items for him to look at. Next, he pulled out a bottle, and a packet of formula. A pacifier. And finally, two... he almost had to cover his eyes when he saw the two diapers. 

When he looked back at his little sister, he could see a pronounced bulge beneath her leggings, and he had to rub his temple. All he could do was pray that his sister wouldn't... because he was really not looking forward to that. 

Ali was still crying, but her wails were fading. Someone could only cry for so long before they ran out of tears. So, he rose from the couch and approached her, armed with her pacifier and stuffed dog. 

"Ali..."

She looked up at the sound of his voice, and he flinched when she shirked backwards, back pressed against the door. He didn't exactly want to do this, but he didn't want his little sister, face red and tears streaming down her cheeks, to be... afraid of him, or what he would think. 

Ali sniffled, looking up at her brother. He held out her stuffed dog as a peace offering, and she cautiously reached up and snatched it from his hands, using its soft fur to wipe her tears. She held it close, her shoulders not quite relaxing. 

"Sis," he whispered, squatting down in front of her and holding out her pacifier. "It's okay. I... I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm going to do my best to take care of you until your... your Mommy gets back." 

Ali took the pacifier more eagerly than she had the puppy- she had scooted forwards a bit, a little closer to him. She popped the piece of plastic into her mouth, suckling gently on it and allowing it to begin calming her down. 

"Kyle," she whispered around it, and he couldn't help but look into her wide eyes. They were still teary, although she had stopped sobbing, and he saw an innocence there, that he hadn't seen in years. 

"Honey," he said, reaching out his arms for her. "It's gonna be okay, little one."

Ali snuggled her puppy closer, still not quite ready to let him pick her up- his heart hurt a little bit at the thought that she didn't quite trust him yet. He returned to the couch, looking at her, keeping all the judgement out of his eyes. He didn't fully understand what was going on, but this was his baby sister. 

"Do you... Do you wanna read a book?"

Ali was still sitting beside the door, but she started to scoot across the floor towards him. He could hear the crinkling of her diaper as she moved towards him, still suckling on her pacifier. She reached the bottom of the couch, staring up at him.

"Up?"

He bent down and scooped his sister up, one hand on the small of her back and the other behind her knees. He settled her on his lap, and held her gently while the last of her sniffles faded. 

"There you go," he whispered. "It's okay, Ali. Big brother's here." 

He reached for one of the books that Ashlyn had left him, but Ali shook her head softly. 

"Don't you want to read a book?"

She shook her head again, snuggling her puppy closer. 

"Want Mommy."

Kyle's protective instincts had fully kicked in by now, and he rocked his little sister gently. 

"I know, honey," he whispered. "I know you want your Mommy, but she'll be back really soon. But for now, I'm here. I'm right here, and I'm going to take care of you until she gets back. Your big brother loves you, no matter what. It's okay."

He tried to read her a book several times, but Ali just kept shaking her head. She wasn't in the mood for anything, except possibly snuggle until she could either fall asleep or be back in her Mommy's arms. Even though his legs were starting to fall asleep, he kept rocking her back and forth, keeping her on his lap. Her head was buried in his shoulder, and he couldn't stop himself from stroking her hair. 

She was his little sister- his baby sister, and every instinct he'd ever had to protect her had come back in full force. 

Then, he felt dampness soaking his neck- she was crying again, and he bounced her gently, hoping that it would calm her down before she started to sob. 

"Al," he whispered. "What's wrong? Everything was okay a minute ago, you were so calm. It's okay, I'm here." 

Instead of comforting her, his words seemed to make her cry harder. She shifted, and he could feel her squeezing her puppy in her hands. Her face was flushing, and the tears were coming faster again.

"Ali," he said, eyes widening, afraid that there was something really wrong, that he had messed something up really badly and that Ali would start screaming for Ashlyn again. "Ali, sweetie, what's up?"

"Mommy," she whimpered. "Need Mommy!" 

"Mommy's not here right now," he said, trying not to panic. "But I'm right here, you're gonna be okay."

She shook her head violently.

"Nooooo," she wailed. "You gonna hate me!" 

Rocking her back and forth, he tried to comfort his little sister. 

"No, no," he cooed. "I could never hate you! Never ever, kid. Not possible, not possible. What's wrong, sweetheart?" 

She shifted again, uncomfortable, and his heart sank. He had really hoped that he'd get to avoid this. 

"Ali," he said, trying his best to leave any emotion save pure love and comfort out of his voice. "Do you... Do you need a diaper change?" 

Her horrible sob answered his question, and he hoisted her up into his arms. She kept one hand wrapped around her puppy's tail, letting him carry her to his bed. He laid her down gently, then went to the closet to get a towel- just in case. He helped her scoot so her bottom was poised over it, and then pulled out the wipes and extra diaper that Ashlyn had left with him.

As for Ali, her face was buried in the fluff of her puppy as she cried, trying to pretend that this wasn't happening. She wasn't here, it wasn't Kyle changing her diaper. She was back home safe with Mommy, and everything was okay.

"Ali," said Kyle, breaking through her denial. "It's okay. I know that you're... afraid, right now. I know that you want your Mommy, and that you'd rather not have me be changing your diaper. But baby sis, unless you can be big, you've gotta let me take care of you. I promise that everything is going to be alright, that I'll never judge you. This isn't going to change my opinion of you, Al. Not at all."

Ali still kept her puppy over her face, blushing horribly, but she stopped wriggling around, letting Kyle pull her leggings off.

The older sibling looked down at his little sister, so vulnerable and scared, and knew he had to take the plunge. 

It was awkward- undeniably awkward. But Ali kept still, blushing and crying softly as Kyle changed her diaper. She only looked at him once, to correct him softly when he did the tabs wrong. 

"Can I pick you up?"

Rocking her puppy back and forth the same way she wished that Mommy was rocking her, Ali nodded and let herself be scooped up into her brother's arms. 

"I'm so proud of you," he whispered. "So proud of you, my brave little sister."

Ali wiped her tears on her brother's cheek, and Kyle absolutely melted. Okay. This was awkward, and he wished that he hadn't had to change her diaper, but Ali... Ali was just so precious, his beautiful baby sister. He loved her so much, and whenever she needed him, he would be happy to hold her. 

She let him read her a book- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie- and giggled softly as he did voices for the characters. They were halfway through the sequel- If You Give a Pig a Pancake- when there was a tap on the door. Ali was off his lap like a shot, throwing the door open and tossing herself into Ashlyn's arms.

The younger woman stroked her baby's back, pressing kisses to her hair. 

"Mommy's here, love," she cooed. "Mommy's back, it's all okay." 

Kyle smiled at the reunion, putting the books back in the bag, along with Ali's pacifier. Ashlyn whispered something in Ali's ear, and the baby turned back around and waved shyly at her brother.

"T'ank you, Kyle," she mumbled. "I 'ove you."

Kyle's smile widened, and he ruffled his little sister's hair, handing the bag to Ashlyn. She took it in the hand that wasn't holding Ali's, and repeated her little one's sentiment. 

"I love you too, Ali," he said. "You're my brave baby sister."

Ali smiled and threw her arms around him in a quick hug before following her Mommy down to the car. It was okay, her brother still loved her, even though she was just a baby sometimes. 

Chapter Text

They were gathered down at dinner, the whole team, after a long day at practice.

Mommy was over making Mal a plate fully of healthy foods, and Mama was talking to Auntie Alex and Auntie Kelley, and so that left baby Mal sitting alone at a table, diaper crinkling as she scooted onto her knees to better reach the surface, where rested her coloring book. Her crayon was clutched in her fist as she tried to stay in the lines, thinking real hard about what color Mommy and Mama would want her to color the grass. She smiled brightly as she remembered that neither of them would care- their baby Mal could color the grass any color she wanted, and they would love it anyway! It would definitely end up on the fridge, or maybe the wall, 'cause the fridge was gettin' pretty crowded with all of baby Mal's drawings. 

She was humming absently to herself as she colored, and barely looked up when she felt someone else sit down near her at the table. She just assumed that it was one of her aunties, because just about every person in the room was her auntie! It was so nice to have so many of them!

But something was weird. Normally, her aunties would be looking over her shoulder right away, and praising her drawing. Whoever was there next to her at the table wasn't doing that, and Mal was confused. She'd thought it was a good drawing, and she wasn't sure why she wasn't being told that she was doing a good job! And, even if she wasn't, she was pretty sure that any of her aunties would at least talk to her!

When she looked up, it was extremely clear why something was wrong- the new person at the table was definitely not one of her aunties. 

Hinkle was glancing at Mal with an unidentifiable, dangerous expression, and the baby was immediately on guard. She kept coloring, slower now, hoping for Mommy and Mama to hurry back and sit on either side of her, protect her from someone who was definitely not a safe person. Although Hinkle's expression as she took in Mal's appearance- sucking softly on her pacifier as she colored, diaper crinkling whenever she shifted- wasn't exactly malicious, there was no mistaking it when she looked across the room, where Mommy had walked over to Mama and was now holding her hand with the one not bearing Mal's plate of yummy healthy food. Mama was kissing Mommy on the cheek, then the lips, and the sight made Mal smile, 'cause she was so lucky to have a Mommy and Mama who loved each other so much! 

"You know," said Hinkle almost absently. "I guess it's a good thing they have you." 

Mal was confused as she put down her crayon. Hinkle had to be talking to her- there was nobody else at the table, although Mommy had noticed that her baby was alone with her and was pulling on Mama's sleeve. But, she had no idea what the older woman was talking about?

"Since they have you," Hinkle continued. "They won't get the chance to corrupt an actual child. Even though you're... well, that. They'll just keep their... disgusting corruption, to themselves. And you. But it's probably too late for you anyways."

Mal's lower lip had started to tremble, and tears were filling her eyes rapidly, but she knew that she had to be a brave girl, since Mama and Mommy were still walking towards her and weren't quite there yet. 

"M-Mama 'n Mommy n-not-"

Hinkle didn't even let her finish before she scoffed, rolling her eyes and glaring condescendingly at the approaching couple, who had heard nearly the whole thing. 

"Your Mommy  is going straight to hell," spat Hinkle. "Unless she realizes that-"

Now it was Hinkle who didn't get to finish her sentence, because Mal had burst into horrified, terrified tears. Mommy dropped her plate of food on the table as other women approached, ready to watch the showdown, and intercede if they had to. Bits of fruit jumped off the plate as it collided with the table, but nobody really cared. They were all too interested in the drama that was about to unfold, and most of their chests were filling with anger at what they had heard. 

Auntie Ash looked like she wanted to say something, but Auntie Ali held her arm. Auntie Megan also thought better of it, because Mommy was striding forwards, eyes fixed furiously on the person who had hurt her little one.

Mama came around the table to pull Mal into her arms, the baby sobbing, because the mean person was... she was talkin' mean about Mommy and Mama and tiny baby Mal! But Mama's arms were cozy and safe, and the older woman was rocking her softly back and forth, kissing her hair. Mama was gonna protect her.

"It's okay, Mal," Mama whispered. "Mama's here, you're okay. Mama's gotcha."

Mal had her head buried in Mama's chest, crying into her shirt, but she couldn't help but listen a little bit to what was going down between Mommy and Hinkle.

Christen wasn't the tallest player on the team by any means, but the three inches she had on Hinkle seemed like three feet to the gathered women, from the way her furious form towered over the younger woman. When she spoke, she was deadly, deceptively calm, which was almost scarier than a yell.

"Let's get one thing straight," said Christen, glaring down at Hinkle, who had begun to back up involuntarily, towards the wall. "I don't give a shit what you say about me and Tobin. I stopped caring about that a long time ago. We've made our peace with the fact that your mind is so closed that you will never accept us for who we are, and that you still use your religion to justify your hatred. So, that's why I ignore you when I hear the garbage coming from your mouth."

Hinkle's eyes were flickering to the gathered crowd, but none of them were too eager to help her. In fact, most of them were secretly happy, to see her get put back into her place by a furious Christen Press.

"But you've crossed the line," continued Christen. "And do you know where you crossed the line?"

Hinkle didn't answer, eyes wide and apprehensive as the older woman stared at her, furious. 

"You crossed the line," said Christen, glancing over at where her wife sat, cradling their crying baby. "When you made my little one cry. If you so much as mildly inconvenience my baby, I will be less than pleased. So, making her cry, especially like that... That's when I get angry. So, here's what's going to happen. You're going to apologize to Mal, and then you're going to leave. Or don't, I don't care. But you're never going to talk to her again. Or us, for that matter."

Christen crossed her arms and glared at Hinkle as she approached Mal. Hinkle seemed to be struggling with herself as she looked disdainfully at the baby in Tobin's lap, but eventually she hissed out a quiet apology. Christen was about to walk back towards her, make her apologize better, but Tobin shook her head gently. 

The older woman's eyes were fixed on Hinkle, but instead of the anger that had been in Christen's, in Tobin's eyes there was just pure sadness, and disappointment. Tobin rubbed Mal's back as the little one continued to cry, overwhelmed with what Hinkle had said to her, and about her Mommies. 'Cause they were the bestest ever, and she didn't want them goin' to Hell! 

Tobin didn't even need to say anything to Hinkle to make the younger woman shake a little bit in her boots. Blushing furiously, she stormed from the room, and the gathered women broke into chatter, talking about what had just happened. But Christen and Tobin's attention was completely focused on their baby, still sobbing in sadness and fear. 

"Come on," said Christen quietly. "Let's go upstairs."

Mommy grabbed the plate she had made for Mal and brought it with them, while Mama cradled the baby against her chest, carrying her upstairs. 


Mal's Mommy fed her her dinner forkful by forkful, making the funny little airplane noises that made the baby giggle softly around the remains of her tears. Mama cradled her in her lap, rocking her and giving her her warm bottle. Mal suckled on it, eyes still a bit red, trying to stop the mean thoughts racing through her brain. 

Mommy was humming softly, petting her baby's hair while she drank. When Mal finished her bottle, Mama burped her, then kissed her forehead and laid her down to get her ready for bed. 

"Mama loves you," cooed Tobin, pulling off the baby's wet diaper and wiping her gently as Mal sunk further and further down into little space. Mommy held her hand while Mama powdered her and strapped a new diaper around her hips.

"There's my tiny girl," cooed Mommy. "My sweet little baby. Do you wanna sleep with Mommy and Mama tonight?" 

Mal nodded eagerly, suckling on her paci and making nonsensical, contented noises. 

Mommy and Mama each got ready for bed separately- one of them sat on the edge of the bed with Mal, while the other brushed her teeth and changed into her pajamas, and finally she was snuggled in bed, covers over her as Mama and Mommy got ready to slide into their own bed beside hers.

It was quiet. And Mal's thoughts kept returning back to the horrible evening, and the mean lady who had said that bad things were gonna happen to Mommy and Mama, just 'cause they loved each other! 

A tiny voice from beneath the blankies got Christen and Tobin's attention, and both of their hearts plummeted to their stomachs at what they heard.

"Mama," whispered Mal. "Does G-God hate us?"

Christen gave a sharp gasp, and Mal immediately felt a wave of guilt when she heard Mommy start to cry, choking back her sobs, trying but failing to hide them. The sound brought tears to her eyes as well, and she felt something pass between Mommy and Mama. Tobin squeezed Christen's hand, and whispered something that Mal couldn't hear.

"Mommy's going to the bathroom," Christen choked, and shut the door behind her so that her little girl wouldn't hear her crying. 

Mama stroked Mal's forehead, then pulled back the covers and clambered into the bed beside her little girl. She opened her arms and Mal immediately crawled into them, burying her face in Mama's chest. 

Tobin stroked her back gently, waiting until she was sure that Mal wasn't going to start crying before answering her little one's question.

"Baby girl," she said soothingly. "You know that Mama's Christian too, right?"

Mal nodded into Tobin's chest- anyone who knew anything about her Mama knew that! Tobin kissed her hair before continuing.

"Well, baby," she said. "What she said today wasn't very Christian. Do you remember when you came to church with Mama?"

Mal nodded again, focusing on the memory that Mama was asking her to think about. That had been a fun day! She had needed to hide the fact that she was tiny, but it had been nice to see where Mama went every Sunday without Mommy! Besides, Mama had taken her out for lunch afterwards, just the two of them.

"Well, remember what Mama told you that Christianity is all about?"

Mal did remember, and so she told her Mama.

"Love, Mama," she whispered, and she felt Tobin nod. 

"You're right, baby girl. Exactly right, my smart cookie! Being Christian means trying our very best to love everybody. Just like Jesus. 'Cause he loved everybody, even people that nobody else loved. We're gonna try and do the same, okay?"

Mal snuggled closer to her Mama, drooling a little bit on her shirt. Tobin rocked her gently, and the familiar scent of Mama, the way it felt to be wrapped up in her safe arms, calmed Mal down a little bit more. 

"Even... Even people who don' like us? Like her?"

"Even them, angel. I know it's hard sometimes, and it was very hard for Mama today, because Mama gets very angry when anyone makes you cry. But we're gonna do our best, baby girl. 'Cause God and Jesus love me, and they love Mommy, and they love you so much. So much, baby."

The bathroom door opened and Mommy emerged back into the room, wiping her eyes. She had heard most of what Tobin had said, and Mal reached out to take her hand as she joined her and Mama in the bed. 

"And Mommy and Mama love you too, baby girl. We love our sweet angel, no matter what." 

Mal smiled into Tobin's chest.

"'ove too," she whispered, and both Tobin and Christen cooed in adoration. "Lots."

Mommy kissed Mal's hair, wrapping her arms around both Mama and baby Mal. 

"Sleep, baby," she whispered, and Mal allowed the comfort to wash over her, sending her further and further down into littlespace. Mama gently pressed her paci into her mouth and she suckled gently on it.

Mama and Mommy loved her, and they loved each other, and mean Hinkle was wrong.

Her Mommies kissed gently, and Mommy followed her quickly into sleep, making sure that she was holding on tight. 

Tobin smiled softly at her girls, sleeping peacefully. It was a happy smile, one of peace and contentment. 

She looked up at the ceiling, thanking God for Christen and for Mal. For her entire world, wrapped up safely in her arms. 

Chapter Text

Abby didn't regret her decision to retire. 

It was time, she knew. Time to hang up her boots, move on to what was next, finally start focusing on herself again, after years and years of giving everything she had to the US Women's National Team. In fact, despite the crushing weight of uncertainty hanging over her shoulders, she couldn't help but feel a little prick of excitement to find out what her future held. 

But, that didn't mean that all of her teammates were exactly thrilled with the decision. Her closest friends would miss her, of course, but there was one small forward who was taking it particularly hard. 

"But whyyyyy?"

Alex's question was halfway between a whine and a sob, and Abby rubbed her temple. She had been asked, and answered, this question multiple times in the past few days, and her answer had never changed. 

"Honey," she said, trying to keep any trace of annoyance or impatience out of her voice when she turned around to gaze at the little forward, snuggling her stuffed bear to her chest, pacifier clutched in one of her little fists. 

"I already told you. It's time. I'm getting... well, I'm not getting any younger, Alex." 

Alex, like usual, didn't seem pleased with this answer, if the whimper she gave was any indication. 

"B-But," she stuttered, and Abby looked at her in alarm. Alex had asked her the question while she was both big and little, but the query would normally be followed by a request for clarification, in the same whiny tone that she had just heard. Never before had Alex sounded like she was about to cry at the thought of Abby retiring. 

"B-But," Alex repeated. "I... I don' wan' you ta r-r-retire!" 

The younger forward wiped her eyes furiously with her bear, popping her pacifier back into her mouth and trying desperately to pretend that she wasn't crying. When Abby didn't immediately placate her, Alex gave her a teary glare, turning her back and doing her best to pull the covers over herself with one hand. Abby stared at Alex for a second, listening in horror as the younger woman's sniffles turned deeper- Alex was fully crying now, the sound muffled by her stuffed bear's fur and her pacifier failing to comfort her. 

The older forward sprang into action, reaching out a hand to stroke the back of Alex's head. The little girl didn't stop crying or turn around, but her efforts to pretend that Abby wasn't there were stopped in their tracks when she gave a small hiccup, and her pacifier fell to the floor. 

She started crying harder, and Abby was on the verge of calling for Kelley, interrupting the defender as she took one of her notoriously long showers- surely, this was something better suited for the little girl's Mommy to handle. But then Alex gave a little sob, and the older woman couldn't bring herself to leave the room, even to find Kelley. So instead, ignoring the little girl's feeble protests, she picked Alex up out of her bed and pulled her close to her chest, bouncing her softly.

The baby went from protesting to melting into her in the blink of an eye, wrapping her legs around Abby's middle like a koala and letting the older woman walk little circles around the room with her, rocking gently back and forth, and up and down, hoping the motion would calm Alex. 

"Shh," whispered Abby. "It's okay, little one. I've got you."

This did nothing to stop Alex's tears, which Abby could feel soaking into her shoulder, through her shirt.

"Alex," she cooed, rubbing the little girl's shaking back and trying to push down the waves of guilt coursing through her. Retiring was the right decision for her, and her mind wasn't going to be changed, no matter how much Alex cried. That didn't mean she didn't feel horrible that the baby was crying because of it, though. 

"Alex, love, I'm right here. I'm here, I'm still here, don't you cry. Please," she added in a slightly panicked voice. "Please, don't cry." 

Alex couldn't stop her tears right away, of course, and so Abby shushed her when she tried to speak. The last thing they needed was for Alex to choke on her own tears. But, finally, the younger forward seemed to be calming down a bit, comforted by the steady motion of Abby rocking her and bouncing her. 

"There, there," whispered Abby, still rubbing Alex's back. "It's okay, you're okay."

Alex gave a minute shake of her head, tightening her fist around the bear still dangling from her grasp. Abby sighed, sitting down on Alex's bed with the baby clutched to her chest. 

"Honey," she asked. "Can you tell me why you're so upset about me retiring?" 

Alex whimpered- it sounded like it was gonna be hard, to form big enough words to tell Auntie Abby why she was so sad. But then again, Auntie Abby should already know! Didn't little baby Alex give her enough cuddles for her to know how much the younger forward loved having her around? 

But, thought Alex, thinking of something that Mommy had needed to say to her before when she had gotten grumpy and pouted when the older woman hadn't changed her diaper the absolute second she wet it, because Alex hadn't told her, people aren't mind readers. And if Mommy can't read minds, then Auntie Abby definitely can't. 

So, she guessed that she would have to use big girl words. 

"Y-You no gon' be here," she whimpered, tightening the hand not holding onto her stuffed bear in Abby's short hair. Kelley didn't allow hair pulling, but Abby secretly thought that it was adorable, and so she made no attempt to pry the baby's hand loose. Besides, she was too busy swallowing around the lump in her throat at Alex's words.

The baby continued. 

"J-Jus' wan' Auntie alw-w-wayyys, " she wailed, tears threatening to make their triumphant return. "Gon' miss!"

Abby's heart filled with love for the little one, and the guilty lump in her throat lodged itself further. It really was as simple as that- a baby who was going to miss seeing her Auntie all the time. 

"Oh," she cooed, gently disentangling Alex's legs from around her waist and maneuvering the baby so that she was cradled in her arms, the way she was whenever Abby got the chance to give her a bottle. She was missing her pacifier, on the hotel carpet, and so she pressed her thumb past her lips, sucking on it softly.

Abby used the softest part of her sleeve to wipe some of the tears from Alex's face, leaving the dried ones. That was a job for a warm washcloth, not her shirt. Alex's head was tucked in the crook of her arm, and the older forward couldn't help herself- she bent down and pressed a little kiss to Alex's forehead. 

"Oh, baby," she continued. "Are you gonna miss Auntie?"

Alex nodded, confirming the statement while looking up at Abby with her big blue eyes. The elder used the arm not supporting Alex's head to stroke one of her soft cheeks, then her temple, just trying to soothe the baby. 

"Well," she said. "Auntie's gonna miss you too, Alex. So much! So, so much!"

Alex whimpered, letting go of her bear and using that hand to grab onto Abby's. The older woman held it tightly, letting Alex feel her presence. 

"Th-Th-Then why?"

The question was whispered this time, full of so much confusion. Big Alex knew why Abby was retiring, but it was a complete mystery to her little self- all she could see was that Auntie wasn't gonna be there to play with her, or babysit her, or give her pointers to become an even better striker. 

It was the second time the question had been asked that night, but the repeat didn't annoy Abby at all this time- rather, she gave Alex's forehead another gentle kiss, another reminder that she was right there, still, that she wasn't gone yet.

"Alex," she said seriously, but softly. "Auntie has been playing for a long time. It's time for Auntie to let you play. You, and all of your friends."

Alex looked up at her, still teary, and Abby continued.

"But sweetie," she said. "Just because I'm retiring doesn't mean you aren't gonna see me! I can still be your Auntie, baby girl. I'll always be here for you, to help you and love you. And I'll always, always, be rooting for you. Do you understand, Alex?" 

The baby gulped, sniffled and nodded, squeezing Abby's hand tighter. She still didn't want Auntie to go, but at least she had confirmation that Auntie Abby would still be there when she needed her.

When Kelley finally returned from her shower, she found her little girl dozing softly, cradled in Abby's arms. Her mouth was dangling open, a line of drool passing out of the corner of her mouth because of the lack of pacifier, and her little hand was still clutching her Auntie's weakly. The defender smiled at the scene, at the way the older woman was staring down at her baby with love. 

"You know," said Kelley, sitting down on the bed beside the pair. "We're all going to miss you, but I think she's gonna miss you the most." 

Abby nodded, not taking her eyes off Alex's sleeping form, cradled in her arms. 

"Yeah," she said. "I'm gonna miss you guys too. Especially this little brat."

She gave Alex another fond kiss before sliding her gently onto the bed. The little one stirred, but didn't wake, as Abby pressed her stuffed bear back into her arms and returned to her own room, sad, but also excited to see what Alex Morgan was going to do when she finally got the chance to take center stage. 

Chapter Text

It had been weeks now, and Morgan was still despondent. She drifted in and out of littlespace, dragging herself around like a zombie when she was big and clinging to Lauren tightly whenever she was little. More than once, the older woman had heard Big Morgan crying at night, muffled sobs into a pillow as her new reality washed over her. 

Big Morgan was harder for Lauren to deal with than Little Morgan- with Little Morgan, she could just scoop her up into her arms and remind her that Mommy loved her, and that she was special and safe before laying her down in the big bed to take a nap while Lauren sat there and read her book. Big Morgan, though... She still wasn't quite sure what to do.

Right now, she was standing silently at the doorway, debating with herself whether or not she should enter her little one's nursery. She was sure if Morgan was big or little, though the way the younger woman was staring at her stuffed animals made Lauren think that, if Morgan wasn't little already, she was well on her way. She watched her, clenching her teeth and blinking rapidly to try and repel the tears that were threatening to flow. 

That became a far harder task when Morgan navigated out of her criss-cross position and knelt on the fluffy carpet which adorned her nursery's floor. Lauren couldn't hear what she was saying, not without being right beside her, her voice was so quiet. But it was clear by her little girl's clumsily clasped hands and bowed head that Morgan was praying. 

The sight broke Lauren's heart impossibly further- her little girl, kneeling on the floor of her nursery, praying for... for something, with tears dripping down her cheeks and creating little damp shots on her shirt. 

"P-Please," Morgan whimpered, a little louder than everything else she had been saying. "J-Jus' make it better. N-Need it t-ta stop hurt-ting."

Lauren couldn't clasp her hand over her mouth quickly enough to muffle her sob, and Morgan turned around, startled at being interrupted mid-prayer by the noise at her door. 

The sight of her Mommy, trying and failing to stop her own tears from flowing, sent Morgan the rest of the way down into littlespace, and her shuddering voice devolved into sniffles and sobs. 

"M-Mommy," she wailed, reaching her arms out for Lauren, begging silently to be picked up. Lauren raced forwards, scooping Morgan up into her arms and cradling her against her chest. She bounced her gently as she carried her towards the big bed, which had become Morgan's refuge in the past few weeks. 

"It... It's ok-k-kay," sniffled Lauren, rubbing Morgan's back as she pulled the covers over the two of them, clutching her little girl to her chest. "It's okay, b-baby. Mommy's h-here." 

Morgan's tears were soaking Lauren's chest, and the older woman was running her hand through the little one's waves of hair as she tried desperately to calm herself down. She knew that she needed to be calm if she was going to be able to calm her sweet baby girl down. But still, she couldn't stop hearing Morgan's broken little plea, to the God she believed in with all her heart, for everything to stop hurting. 

Both Lauren and Morgan cried, the older rocking the younger and the younger sobbing in despair, until Lauren finally managed to swallow around her tears, forcing them back and calming her voice so that she could soothe Morgan, and not make her more upset at the thought of her Mommy being upset. 

"Moe Moe," she cooed, as Morgan continued to bury her tears in her shirt. "Mommy's here, baby girl. Mommy's right here, right here. It's okay, it's okay, Mommy's gotcha, Mommy loves you. Mommy's here, Mommy's here." 

Morgan sobbed for a long time, and Lauren had no idea how such a little girl had any more tears to cry, after the past few weeks. The older woman continued stroking her hair and back, whispering comforting and nonsensical words, until Morgan's tears finally began to taper off. She reached a hand up, face still buried in her Mommy's chest, and tangled it in Lauren's curls. She tugged on them gently, letting the softness and familiarity of her Mommy's hair start comforting her a little bit. 

"Shh," cooed Lauren. "That's it, baby girl. That's it, Mommy's here. Talk to Mommy, Moe Moe. Talk to Mommy if you can, 'cause Mommy needs to help you." 

Morgan whimpered something into Lauren's chest that the older woman couldn't understand, and Lauren gave her a squeeze before she gently guided Morgan to look at her. 

"Baby girl," cooed Lauren, looking into Morgan's dripping eyes. "You can bury your face again in just a moment if you want to, but Mommy really needs you to try and tell me what's wrong."

Lauren knew what was wrong. She knew exactly what was wrong, but she needed Morgan to tell her (again), hear it from her own lips so she could figure out something to help her. Morgan's desperate words from a few minutes ago were echoing in her head, her prayer begging for the pain to stop stabbing Lauren in the chest again. 

Morgan was, surprisingly, able to be understood when she talked to her Mommy in her sweet, shaky little voice. 

"Dunno what I d-did," she sniffled. "Dunno what I did t-to make him h-hate me s' much!" 

Lauren's entire heart filled with a rage that she had forgotten she was capable of feeling. How dare he, this new coach? How fucking dare he break her little girl's heart like this? 

But, she had to keep a cool head, and comfort her little girl. 

"You didn't do anything wrong, my baby," she whispered, rubbing the back of Morgan's neck. "Nothing at all, baby bean. He's just not... I don't know why he can't recognize how talented and loving and sweet and perfect my baby girl is, but you are not hated. No one with a heart could ever, ever, hate you."

Morgan wiped the last of her tears on Lauren's shoulder, eagerly accepting the older woman's gentle kiss to her forehead, and the top of her head. This was the fourth time in the last few weeks that Morgan had collapsed into little space, sobbing and full of self-doubt, and so Lauren had developed a routine by now. 

She would always keep Morgan clutched against her while she slept, never moving her to her crib unless it was bedtime. If she ever needed to move, she would wait until Morgan had entered a deep slumber before extricating herself from her little girl's arms and doing whatever she needed to do before returning to her bed and giving Morgan a few more snuggles. 

Since Morgan was now drooling lightly on Lauren's shoulder, she figured that now would be a good time to go and check the mail, see if the package she had been waiting for had arrived yet. She gently moved Morgan's head so that it was resting on one of the fluffy pillows, inserted the little girl's paci into her mouth and tiptoed downstairs to the mailbox. 

The package wasn't there yet, but there was something unusual. A big envelope addressed, not to her, but to Morgan. Lauren raised her eyebrows in confusion- no one had ever sent Morgan anything at her house before, everything always went to the little one's house. And there were very few people who even knew that she spent copious amounts of time at Lauren's house. But, Lauren's surprise faded when she spotted the envelope's return address.

Orlando. 

A smile lit up her face, and she couldn't help from opening it up, just to see what the other women had sent her little one. 

It was a true treasure trove, filled with letters (all of which told Morgan how much they missed her, and knew that she would be coming back to them soon), little drawings (signed in crayon, largely from Mal and Emily, though there was one from Cassius Dwyer that must have been slipped in by Ash and Ali), and a big card signed by everyone on the roster, even those who didn't know Morgan very well. Tobin had decorated it with little doodles, and it made Lauren's smile deepen.

She would let Morgan sleep, and wake up to the reminder that, even if she never made the national team again, all her teammates still loved her, almost as much as Lauren did. 

Chapter Text

Erin loved hearing her Mama's voice, singing absently as she walked around, picking up dishes and stuffies and sippy cups, and all the other remnants of their day. She had already deposited Erin in her toddler bed, complete with dark purple rails that were just high enough to prevent her from rolling out of the bed, but just low enough so that she could climb over them if she really needed to. 

Erin's teeth were already brushed, and her pull-up was fastened around her hips, and she was waiting for her Mama to be done cleaning up to come read her a story. She wiggled her toes, smiling as she watched them move, listening to Mama's light singing. Mama was always shy about her voice, and whenever they were both big, she always claimed that her voice was nowhere near as good as Erin's, but both Big Erin and Little Erin would give her kisses on the cheek, telling her that she loved listening to her sing. 

Mama was singing in Icelandic- a folk song, Erin thought, but one that she didn't recognize. She ignored the sounds of the dishes hitting the sink, and focused instead on Mama's voice. Which was getting closer and closer, and finally stopped once she reached Erin's door. 

The light was still on, and so Erin could see Mama in the doorway, hair up in a bun and wearing a large shirt and sweatpants, ready to head for bed in her own adjoining room. 

"Hi, lovely," said Gunnhildur when she saw that Erin was undoubtedly still awake. She hadn't been expecting anything else- her little one never fell asleep without a goodnight kiss (or several) from Mama. 

"Hi," whispered Erin as Mama brushed a hand (slightly wrinkly from doing the dishes) over her forehead, before pulling the covers up over to guard her little one from the cold. Gunnhildur then returned to stroking Erin's hair, obsessed with the feeling of the strands beneath her fingers, and the adorable sight that was her sweet little girl, all ready for bed. 

She had to admit that, when she had tucked Erin into bed for the first time only around twenty minutes before, she had left the light on on purpose. Little Erin never fell asleep without Mama there- if she thought that Mama had gone to bed before she had fallen asleep, there would be tantrums on another level, which could only be abated when the Icelandic woman came back into the room and hopped into the Canadian's toddler bed with her, pulling her close and reassuring her that she hadn't been abandoned, that Mama was still there and wasn't going to leave her. 

So, she had known that she would be coming back into the room and, along with giving Erin just a bit more reassurance that Mama was coming back before sleepytime, it allowed her a few more precious minutes to look at her little one. 

Erin was looking up at her with wide eyes, lips wrapped around her pacifier and favorite stuffed animal under one arm. Her other hand was reaching out, inviting her Mama to hold it tightly. Gunnhildur took Erin's hand in her own, stroking her thumb across Erin's knuckles, taking in her little girl's innocent, peaceful face.

"Are you tired, my little one?"

Erin shrugged, but her fluttering eyelashes gave her away. She had been nearly wide awake when her Mama had entered the room, but now she was falling rapidly back down towards dreamland. 

"Mama?"

Erin's voice was tiny, and her eyebrows were raised. She was so cute that Gunnhildur couldn't stop herself from bending over and kissing both of her chubby cheeks, then her nose. 

"Yes, elskan?

Erin giggled softly at the Icelandic term of endearment, then made her request.

"Mama sing t' me?"

Gunnhildur cleared her throat, nodding. She didn't know why Erin liked her voice so much, but she was glad that the little one did- it was something she could do to comfort her little girl, whenever Erin was sad or afraid, or simply when she needed to be sent to sleep. 

"Of course, ástin mín. What do you want to hear?" 

Erin thought about it for a moment, but she couldn't come up with anything off the top of her head, especially since her eyelashes were fluttering faster now. Gunnhildur smiled softly at little Erin- she supposed that was her cue to choose for herself what she wanted to sing. 

"Okay," she whispered. "Just let Mama turn off the light, then I'll sing to you until you fall asleep." 

Erin nodded, her eyes following her Mama across the room and watching her hands as she flicked the light switch, sending the room into darkness. Gunnhildur raced back across the room to Erin, taking the little girl's hand in her own again. 

"Mama's here," she cooed. "Mama's here for her little baby Erin." 

Erin sighed happily, suckling on her pacifier and rubbing her stuffed animal against her face. Mama took a deep breath, then started to sing, the language that Erin was trying to learn filling her ears.

Gæt þú, mildingur, mín,

 

mest þurfum þín,

 

helzt hverja stund

 

á hölda grund.

 

Send þú, meyjar mögur,

 

málsefnin fögur,

 

öll er hjálp af þér,

 

í hjarta mér.

 

Erin's breathing had evened out by the time Gunnhildur finished singing, trying to keep any cracks out of her voice. Her little one was sleeping softly, still clutching onto her Mama's hand, stuffie held in the other. The blonde leaned over and kissed Erin's forehead before gently pulling their hands apart, switching on Erin's monitor, and making her way to her room next door. 

 

The little girl had taken her completely by surprise, she had to admit. She had never expected that she would end up in this situation. But she wouldn't trade it for the world. 

Chapter Text

Ali knew that Ashlyn was disappointed that she wasn't getting any playing time. This tournament didn't technically count for anything- they had already qualified for the Olympics, and the SheBelieves tournament was more like a cool down, something to tide them over. So, she didn't quite understand why Vlatko wasn't giving her any minutes. It wasn't like she was bad! 

As the game ended, Ashlyn was visibly upset, and visibly little. Ali had her hand on her wife's arm, stroking it up and down gently, trying to soothe her until they could get back to their hotel room and she could take care of her properly.

"Wait for Mama, okay?"

Ashlyn didn't nod at Ali's request, but she crossed her arms and paced by the bench, back and forth, before plopping down onto it and glaring at the floor. Her teammates steered clear of her- they all loved her dearly, but it was clear that she was upset, and in no mood to be comforted by anyone but her Mommy. As they walked around her, getting back into their own sweats and pulling their hair up into buns and looser ponytails. 

Christen had Mal on her back, carrying her giggling baby through the locker room and towards the bus as Tobin carried their bags. Crystal and Julie had their arms wrapped around each others' shoulders, chattering happily. There was a whole bunch of noise, and it all made Ashlyn tap her foot harder, faster, wondering why Mommy wasn't back yet. There was noise, and it was makin' her chest tighten and her lip tremble, in a combination of not only anxiety and other big girl feelings that were too much for a little girl to understand, but with a healthy dose of anger thrown in as well. 

The anger boiled over as Alyssa walked by, all alone, and dared to give little Ashlyn a small smile. 

Big Ashlyn knew that Vlatko not giving her playing time wasn't Alyssa's fault. She loved the younger goalkeeper, saw her as a little sister of sorts, and was so so very proud of how well she had taken the mantle of goalkeeper after Hope's exit.

But little Ashlyn... 

To little Ashlyn, Alyssa was the reason why she wasn't getting any playing time. Alyssa was the reason why she was sitting on this bench without having even broken a sweat, and she was the reason why she was so sad and angry and so little. 

So, instead of returning Alyssa's smile, Ashlyn did something that Big her would definitely regret.

Her foot kicked out, connecting with her teammate's leg, as she let out a long screech of fury and sadness, sliding down to the floor with a thump. She kicked out again- one of her feet hit the lockers, but the other one hit Alyssa again- the younger keeper was staring at her in shock, immobile, with tears springing to her eyes. Ashlyn's frustrated tears burst forth as she began to roll around on the floor, beating her fists. 

"Ashlyn!" 

Through her tears, Ashlyn could see that several of their teammates had surrounded Alyssa, with Pinoe looking sadly at her distraught best friend as she took a look at the damage which had been done to Alyssa's shin. Becky was rubbing Alyssa's shoulders as the younger woman tried to hold back her own tears. But, as the waves of guilt began to crash over her, she was mainly focused on one figure, staring down at her tantrum-throwing baby. 

Ali was as close to glaring as she'd ever seen her, sending a quick glance over at Alyssa to make sure that no real damage had been done. Pinoe gave her a slight nod, confirming that Alyssa's shin was going to be fine, and that left Ali free to turn her attention straight to her little girl.

"Ashlyn," Ali growled, sitting down on the bench. She took a deep breath, in and out, unclenching her fists to make sure she wasn't too angry when she dealt with her baby girl. 

"Ashlyn" she repeated again, softer but no less scary, to Ashlyn at least. Her little mind was working a mile a minute, trying to figure out a way out of the deep trouble she had just landed herself in. She was still sobbing, half out of anger at not getting any playing time, and half out of horrible guilt at what she had done to her friend. She had hurted her- why had she hurted her? 

"M-M-Mommmmmyyyyy," she wailed as Ali stared down at her, arms crossed and a less-than-thrilled expression on her face. 

"I s-s-sorry! D-Didn' mean ta!"

She had, of course, but as long as she said sorry it was okay, right?

Mommy still didn't look happy, and she wasn't hugging Ashlyn yet, and so the little girl knew that she definitely needed to be more convincing- she would apologize to Lyssa later, but... but... b-but she didn't really wanna get punished! And she knew that Mommy was prolly gonna take away her TV time, or her desert!

"M-Mean ta k-k-kick locker!"

The last vestiges of anger had faded from Ali's face, replaced by disappointment. Ashlyn's heart fell further- she could tell, just by looking at Ali's face, that Mommy hadn't bought the lie. 

"Ashlyn," she said. "Over my lap." 

Ashlyn's tears sped up, and she started to shake a little bit, still writhing on the floor. Alyssa, Becky and Pinoe were the only three still in the room, and all of them were watching the scene unfold. The baby shook her head.

"N-No, Mommy!! Please, no spank!"

Ali looked like she was about to cry. She swallowed around the lump in her throat, then sank to the floor beside her baby. Ashlyn tried to wriggle away from her, one final desperate attempt to avoid her punishment, but when Ali's arms closed around her middle, all of her resistance faded. She went completely limp, and let Mommy pull her over her lap. 

"I'm very disappointed in you, Ashlyn," said Ali, and then it began. 

Ashlyn shrieked miserably as Mommy landed the blows on her ass. She whimpered, watching her tears drip down onto the floor by her teammates' feet. She couldn't see it, but Ali was crying silently as she spanked her little girl- she knew that Ashlyn hadn't meant to do it, not really. Her anger and frustration had just gotten the best of her, and she had ended up taking it out on her friend. Ali couldn't stop herself from running a hand through her baby girl's hair while she spanked her.

Ali hated spanking Ashlyn- so much, in fact, that this was only the third time she had ever resorted to it. She only spanked Ashlyn when she had really misbehaved- and kicking Alyssa, and then lying about it, definitely qualified. 

Ashlyn wasn't struggling anymore- all she could do was wait for her spanking to be over. She was blushing furiously, the heat of her cheeks mixing with the heat of her tears, as she looked at the three pairs of feet that were still in the room, her best friend and Becky and the younger keeper who she had hurt watching her get a spanking for being a mean, bad little girl. The thought of them looking down at her, seeing how bad she had been, sent her even further down into a humiliated little space. 

It suddenly occurred to her that, although she was still sobbing in humiliation, the blows had stopped. Instead of a rough, punishing hand coming down on her ass, there was a soft, gentle one rubbing across her back, and she was being pulled up into Mommy's arms and burying her face in Mommy's shoulder. 

"M-M-Mommmmyyyyy," she cried pitifully, and Ali cooed softly. 

"Shh," she whispered. "Mommy's here, Ash. Mommy's here, baby girl. Mommy's gotcha, it's all gonna be okay. Mommy loves you, my sweet baby girl. You took it so well, my angel, my good little baby girl."

It took a few minutes before Ashlyn stopped crying, soaking the shoulder of Ali's sweatshirt as her Mommy held her close, petting her and whispering words of comfort and love. When the tears had finally run their course, Ashlyn looked, shame-faced, up at Alyssa. 

The younger keeper had stopped crying- she was okay, even if her shin was a little bit sore.

"'M sorry," whispered Ashlyn, lip trembling a little bit, out of fear that the younger keeper wasn't gonna forgive her, and that she would've lost a really good friend all 'cause little Ash couldn't control her temper. She wasn't sure she could handle that, even if Mommy was holding her close and kissing her hair. 

"It's okay," said Alyssa quietly. "Really, I promise. I know you're upset, Ash. I forgive you, sweetie."

It was as if a massive weight had lifted off of Ashlyn's shoulders- suddenly, it didn't matter as much that she wasn't getting playing time. It still stung a little bit, but at least she had Mommy! She had Mommy, who was gonna take care of her an' hold her, and still loved her even though she had been bad. 

And she still had her friend. 

After Ali had tucked her into bed a few hours later, all shiny clean from her fun bubble bath and snuggling her stuffed shark, there was a tap on the door. 

Mommy answered it, and smiled softly as she gestured the visitor inside. Well, two visitors.

"We just wanted to say goodnight," said Pinoe as she and Alyssa came into Ashlyn's view. Both were wearing their pajamas, clearly about to head for bed themselves. 

Ashlyn nuzzled into her pillow, looking apprehensively at her friends. But, the nice and sweet looks on their faces made the nerves fade a little bit, and she reached her arms out, hoping for a hug.

Pinoe came forwards first, wrapping her little best friend in her arms and giving her a little kiss on the forehead. Ashlyn snuggled into her chest and Ali gave them a smile, wrapping an arm around Alyssa in a quick hug as she watched her little girl say night night to her best friend. 

Pinoe squeezed Ashlyn tightly, telling her without words that it was all okay, that she didn't think any differently of her and still loved her, even after seeing her get her spanking. When Pinoe had left the room, it was Alyssa's turn to come forwards.

The younger keeper sat on the side of the bed, taking Ashlyn's hand gently in hers and rubbing her knuckles. 

"You know I love you, right, Ash?"

Ashlyn blushed a little bit, not in embarrassment this time, but in happiness. She gave her friend a smile, lifting up her stuffed shark and rubbing it against Alyssa's face. The younger woman laughed gently as Ashlyn nodded in response to the question. 

"I loves you too," she whispered, and happily returned Alyssa's kiss to her forehead with one to the younger keeper's cheek. Alyssa gave her another soft smile, and then headed for her own room. 

Ali slid into bed next to her baby girl, and Ashlyn immediately scooted over into her arms, getting sleepier and sleepier by the second. Mommy was petting her, and the lights were out, and she was all forgiven and she was loved and she was s-s-sleeeeeppppp...

As Ashlyn drifted off, Ali gave her a final kiss, hoping that this would be the last time she ever had to spank her baby. 

Chapter Text

Christen was glad that she and Tobin came off around the same time, given the state of her wife. 

She could tell that something was off with Tobin, by the way that she was walking. Her shoulders were hunched, and she shrugged off all offers of high fives from her teammates. Vlatko patted her on the shoulder, but Tobin didn't even acknowledge him, throwing her jersey straight to the ground and stomping towards Christen. 

The striker looked at her wife, eyebrows raised in concern. Concern which only deepened when she saw that Tobin's eyebrows were furrowed, and that the beautiful orbs that Christen loved were filled with tears. Christen opened her arms, beckoning Tobin forwards, hoping that her wife would come to her, fall into her arms and tell her what was wrong. But Tobin breezed past her, and Christen had to hold back a little gasp when she realized that her wife hadn't been going to her after all.

Ali and Ashlyn looked apologetically at Christen as Tobin fell into their arms, crying angry tears and burying her face in Ali's shoulder. Ashlyn patted her back, and Christen sat frozen. She didn't quite know what to do- every cell in her body longed to snatch Tobin out of Ali's arms and pull her onto her lap, to comfort her tears herself. But, she had offered up her arms for her wife to fall into, and Tobin had rejected them. 

Suddenly, Christen found herself holding back tears of her own, heart hurting as she wondered why her little girl- and it was very clear, by this point, that Tobin had regressed- didn't want her comfort. Tobin wailed as Ashlyn patted her back, and Christen had to grip tightly onto the fabric of her sweats to stop herself from jumping up and going to her baby. 

She managed it for around thirty seconds.

Then, Tobin let out a wail, and Christen couldn't stand it any longer. She hopped out of her seat and made her way over to where Tobin was crying in Ali's arms, sitting down beside the defender and praying that Tobin would let her comfort her. 

"Baby," she whispered, trying to keep all traces of tears out of her voice. "Baby, what's wrong? Come to Mama?"

She had been worried that Tobin would retreat even further into Ali, completely ignore her and leave her wondering as to what she had done to make her baby not want her comfort. But, thankfully, she was proven wrong.

The second Tobin heard her Mommy's voice, she leaned towards the sound of it, sniffling and letting out another cry. Ali handed the baby over right away, passing her from her lap over to Christen's, and Tobin immediately melted into her Mommy, soaking Christen's shoulder with her tears.

Christen, relieved, stood up from the seat and started bouncing Tobin gently, carrying her down the tunnel to the locker room. It was better, she thought, to do this where there was no chance of cameras catching them. That would be the last thing that Tobin needed, in this state. 

The locker room was quiet, and there wasn't really anywhere comfortable to sit. Depositing Tobin on the bench momentarily, Christen dug through cabinets until she found some extra (clean) towels. They wouldn't be much help, but they would do until the game and ceremonies were over, and she could get Tobin home. The towels ended up being more for her to sit on, because once she was back in her arms, Tobin refused to let go, wrapping her arms around her Mommy's neck and curling up in Christen's lap. 

"Baby," cooed Christen, wishing desperately that she had managed to find something a little better to comfort Tobin, like a blanket that she could wrap around her little girl's shoulders. But, there was nothing else to be found, and she settled for just holding Tobin close, letting her cry and wail, and trying to dampen the instinct which told her to ask Tobin to tell her what was wrong before she was ready. 

"Baby girl," Christen repeated, making soothing noises and stroking her little's back. "Mommy's here. Mommy's here and Mommy loves you."

Tobin cuddled closer into Christen, melting into her Mommy and pulling a sweaty piece of hair out of Christen's bun. She pulled the hair into her mouth, suckling on it in place of the pacifier that Christen desperately wished she had to give to her. Tobin's cries were slowing, eased by being in her Mommy's arms, and that made Christen even more curious as to why the little girl had rejected them in the first place in favor of Auntie Ali and Auntie Ash. 

She'd be able to ask her soon enough.

"Mommy," whimpered Tobin. Her cries had turned into sniffles, but her voice still sounded dejected and miserable. The sound broke Christen's heart a little further, and she thought of Tobin only a few minutes ago, tossing her jersey to the ground and rejecting the offers for high fives and hugs. There was something big going on here, and the striker needed to find out what it was, so she could comfort her little midfielder properly. 

"I'm right here, love," Christen cooed. "Mommy's here. You're safe, pumpkin." 

Tobin grabbed another strand of Christen's hair, winding it through her fingers and keeping her face hidden in her Mommy's shoulder. Christen longed to look at Tobin's face, but she knew that rushing her would do neither of them any good. So, she let Tobin bury herself, just rocking her gently. 

"Do you wanna tell Mommy what's wrong?" 

Tobin whimpered quietly, gripping Christen's hair a little bit harder. It hurt a little bit, but Christen didn't stop her- if the midfielder was pulling on her hair, she must really need something to hold onto. The younger woman could tell that Tobin wanted to tell her- just like adult Tobin, little Tobin had some trouble with her words sometimes. She would get there eventually- Christen just had to wait. 

"Mommy," whispered Tobin again, after a few more minutes of being rocked gently in her Mommy's loving arms. Christen nodded encouragingly at her as she lifted her head up to reveal red eyes and tearstained little cheeks. 

"Hi, love," cooed Christen. "Mommy's right here. Do you wanna tell Mommy what's up with you?"

Tobin gave a minute nod, but then shuddered, lip trembling again.

"I- I- I- I wanna," she whimpered, trying to stutter out the explanation, or at least give her Mommy something to go on. "B-B-But... B-But Mommy gotta pwomise not be angry!" 

Christen gave Tobin a kiss on the forehead, ignoring the fact that Tobin's weight on her legs was starting to make them tingle a bit. 

"Mommy promises, Tobin," she said apprehensively, wondering what Tobin was about to confess to. The last time Tobin had made her promise not to be angry, it was because she was about to confess to accidentally kicking a soccer ball through the window. 

Christen's promise seemed to console Tobin a little bit, and she gave another nod, this one a little more pronounced, less minute. 

"M-M-Mommy," whimpered Tobin, face reddening again as she prepared to confess to some transgression. "I- I- I is sorry. Was b-bad."

Christen's apprehension was growing bigger by the second, and she said a quick prayer for the safety of all her remaining windows and valuables. But then, if it was something like that, why would it be upsetting Tobin right now? Normally, her little midfielder was over the moon after a game, especially one that they were either winning or about to win. 

"How were you bad, my love?"

"N-No play good," Tobin whispered, burying her head back in Christen's shoulder and gripping onto a piece of the fabric which covered her Mommy's shoulders. The striker's heart hurt at Tobin's statement although, now that she thought a bit about it, it didn't altogether surprise her. Tobin was always so hard on herself, and was almost guaranteed to go into a meltdown or tantrum whenever she felt like she hadn't had the impact that she wanted. 

"Oh," cooed Christen, rocking Tobin gently. "No, baby girl! That's not true at all- you played so well, my baby girl."

Tobin shook her head violently, and Christen had to hold back a yelp of pain as the rest of her body shook as well- a few strands of the striker's dark hair had come loose in the baby's fist. Thankfully, Tobin didn't seem to notice what she'd accidentally done- Christen could grow more hair, but she wasn't looking forwards to what would happen if the baby thought that she'd hurt her Mommy in any way. 

"Noooooo," wailed Tobin, distraught. "Been playin' b-bad lately! Mommy better 'n me! Mommy gon' t-take-" 

She trailed off, unwilling to be comforted by Christen's increasingly panicked reassurances that she was playing fine- if Tobin thought she hadn't been playing well, the only thing that could really comfort the baby was constant reassurance, spread out. While she tried to rock her little girl, remind her that everyone had bad days, Christen's heart was sinking even further as she realized why Tobin had automatically went for Ali and Ash, instead of her. 

Tobin wasn't only angry at herself, she was afraid. 

Afraid that Vlatko giving Christen the minutes she needed to prove that she was a superstar would have horrible consequences for her, especially when she was already angry at herself for not playing as well as she knew she could, and yelling at herself as her own toughest critic. She was afraid, thought Christen, holding back tears as she rocked Tobin back and forth in her lap, that Christen was going to take her place. 

"Listen to me, baby," said the striker, unwilling to wait until Tobin's tears had stopped again before comforting her. By that time, the game would likely be over, and Christen knew that it was likely better if they dealt with this themselves, just the two of them, without embarrassing Tobin by having any of her other teammates see her in this state, even if none of them would think any lesser of the little girl after seeing her cry. 

"Mommy is so proud of you, Tobin. So proud."

Tobin sniffled, raising her head a little bit, teary eyes meeting Christen's. She was searching for any deception in her Mommy's gaze, but found none. Once Tobin had satisfied herself that Mommy was telling the truth, the green-eyed striker continued. 

"Mommy will love you no matter how you play, Tobin. So, you don't need to worry about that. And you don't need to worry about Mommy taking anything from you Tobin. It's gonna be you and me, my sweet girl. We're gonna be here together, until we retire. You and me, and I'm not going to go anywhere without you. You deserve to be here just as much as Mommy does. You deserve it Tobin. Don't argue with Mommy, please," she said as Tobin opened her mouth. "Mommy promises."

The older woman collapsed back into Christen, letting her dry her eyes and help her to her feet to watch what remained of the game. They made it back out of the tunnel just in time to see Lindsey find the back of the net, assisted by Mal. 

Chapter Text

Mal was nearly wiggling with excitement in her high chair, trying to smile around her open mouth as Mommy fed her her breakfast. Christen was looking adoringly down at her as she spooned the strawberries into her mouth- there was nothing she loved more than her happy baby, and the moments they spent together. But Christen had no idea why Mal was so excited- she didn't feel like questioning it, honestly. She would always enjoy smiles from her happy girl, no matter the cause.

Mal chewed around her smile and a little piece of strawberry fell out of her mouth, onto her bib. Mommy wiped it away, shaking her head softly.

Tobin was sitting at the kitchen table with her second cup of coffee, smiling almost as big as her baby was. She had been the one to get the little one out of her crib around an hour ago, and while she was bending over the changing table and getting Mal into a fresh diaper, she had whispered a secret into the little girl's ear.

"Bunny," she had whispered. "Do you remember a little while ago, when Mama asked you if you could help her with something?"

Mal nodded eagerly- she remembered it well, the pretty thing that Mama had shown her and let her hold, telling her that it was gonna be their secret, that Mal couldn't tell Mommy yet. Mal had been so excited, bouncing in place and handing the pretty thing back to Mama. 

"Well," Mama had said as she sprinkled the baby powder. "Today's the day, baby!"

Mal hadn't been able to stop smiling ever since then- she couldn't wait until it was time, until she could help Mama with something really really important.

Mommy got her out of her pajamas, wiping the berry juice off her face and picking out a pair of blue leggings and a flowery onesie for the little girl and kissing both her cheeks. 

"Are you my happy little girl?"

Mal cooed at the question, rolling around on the fluffy carpet and playing with Mommy's fingers. 

Christen scooped her up and brought her back downstairs, handing her off into Tobin's care while she got herself dressed. Mal wrapped her arms around Mama's neck, and barely managed to wait until Mommy was just out of earshot to whisper into the older woman's ear.

"It time yet, Mama?"

Tobin gave a light laugh, kissing Mal's forehead. 

"Not quite, pumpkin. But soon."

There was an edge to Tobin's laugh, a nervous one, and so Mal did what she always did to comfort her Mommies. Gave Tobin a big kiss on the cheek and nuzzled into her neck. This time, the laugh was calm. 

A single day had never felt so long to Mal. She'd eaten lunch, played with her blocks, watched an episode of Sesame Street, gotten her diaper changed twice and taken a nap, but it still wasn't time to help Mama with the Big Surprise. She was still wiggling around with excitement, but now it had an air of impatience. The day was almost over- was Mama too nervous? Was she gonna have to wait even longer? She liked being helpful, and knowing things, but she didn't really like keeping secrets from Mommy. 

Finally, when Christen was off starting a load of laundry, Tobin knelt down beside Mal, who was counting her toes on the living room carpet, and handed her the pretty, shiny thing. 

"Okay," she whispered. "Mommy should be back in a few minutes, and then we're gonna do it, okay bunny?"

Mal nodded eagerly, holding tightly to the very important thing that Mama was trusting her with.

"Do you remember the plan, baby?"

Mal nodded again, reaching out and giving her Mama a kiss of encouragement on the lower jaw. 

"Okay, baby," said Tobin, voice shaking a little bit. "Mama's gonna go get your jewelry box, okay?"

Tobin raced for the cabinet where she had stashed the box which held all of the plastic jewelry that Mal loved to play with, and the baby deposited the pretty thing in among her Mardi Gras beads, plastic rings and toy tiara. 

"Hello, my beautiful girls," said Christen, re-emerging from upstairs with her hair in a messy bun. She gave Tobin a kiss, then bent down to give Mal one as well, noticing the smile on Mal's face had returned, doubly bright. 

"Mommy," said the little girl. "Look!"

"Aww," said Christen, sitting down on the couch. "Does my baby girl have her jewelry box?" 

Mal nodded, and then it was Tobin's turn to deliver her lines. Mal hoped that her voice wouldn't shake- she had kept the secret, and she hoped that Mama could too, just for another minute! Luckily, Tobin had gotten herself under control. 

"Do you wanna show me and Mommy what you have, bunny?"

Mal nodded again, heart beating faster and faster. It took every bit of restraint left in her little girl brain not to reach right for the one piece of actual jewelry in the box, and she started with her red necklace, holding it up for her Mommy and Mama to see and then thinking hard, every movement careful, to get it over her head. It looked so pretty against the fabric of her onesie, but not as pretty as the pretty thing would look on Mommy! 

They went through one plastic ring and the tiara before Tobin gave Mal a nod, signalling that it was time. Mal dug through the box until she felt metal underneath her fingers, closing her hand around it and holding it up for Mommy to see.

"Is that one new?"

Christen hadn't registered what it was, or even that it was real yet- it wasn't unlike Tobin to randomly buy a new toy for Mal which would just appear in the house. But, as Tobin got up off the couch and went to take the ring from Mal, her hand flew to her mouth. She gasped as Tobin squeezed Mal's hand, then dropped to one knee in front of the couch.

"Christen," she said, as Mal looked on eagerly, still bouncing in excitement. "When I first met you, I... I had no idea that it would lead to this. But now, here we are. I don't know much, but the one thing that I do know is that I love you. So much, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want everything- early mornings, late nights, baby tantrums-" Mal sniffed indignantly at that, 'cause she didn't throw tantrums (well, unless she really had to)- "adventures, and so much more. I want to grow old with you, and be with you for the rest of my life. So, Christen Annemarie Press, will you marry me?"

Mommy was crying, and Mal was smiling so big as she watched that a few tears might have popped into her eyes at the question, and at Mommy's response. 

Christen nodded, allowing Tobin's shaking hand to slide it onto her finger before tossing herself to the floor beside Tobin and kissing her right on the lips. 

"Yes," she whispered. "I'd... I'd be honored, Tobin."

Mal gave them a moment- it seemed like a grown-up thing. But, pretty soon, she had to remind them that she was there with a tiny little clap, still grinning. Both of them grinned back, and swept her up into their arms, plastering kisses all over her face.

"Thank you, bunny," whispered Mama as Mal snuggled contentedly into her Mommies' laps. 

Chapter Text

As soon as Kelley entered the room and spotted Alex, she could tell that the other woman had regressed. 

She had been gently encouraging Alex into little space for several days now, knowing that it had been a long time since she had allowed herself to sink down into that sweet, small space where she was Kelley's baby girl. And, really, they were running out of days for it, because once Alex gave birth, she would have to be firmly big for at least a month or two. 

Guided by Alex's soft sniffles, Kelley walked to the couch and sat down beside the forward, who immediately inched over and snuggled into her side, popping her thumb into her mouth. 

"Hey, baby," said Kelley, wrapping her arm around Alex's shoulders and petting her hair gently. 

"Are you my little girl?"

Alex nodded and briefly removed her thumb from her mouth, looking over at Kelley with wide, teary eyes.

"Feet hurt, Mommy," she whimpered, looking down sadly at the offending body parts. Kelley smiled softly, removing her arm from around Alex's shoulder and pulling her feet into her lap. They were swollen, as they had been so often lately, and Kelley wrapped her hands around them and started to massage them. Alex leaned back on a pillow, eyes drifting shut as she let herself enjoy her Mommy's soothing touch. 

Kelley rubbed her arches, her toes and her ankles while Alex sucked her thumb, holding a corner of the pillow with the other. Kelley wished that she had gotten Alex's paci and blankie before sitting down on the couch with her, but it was too late now- no way was she willing to get up and put a stop to the relieved noises coming from her little girl as she enjoyed Mommy's foot rub. 

"Does that feel a bit better, angel?"

Alex nodded, sitting back up and retreating back to her former position, snuggled into Kelley's side. Her face was buried into the defender's shoulder, and Kelley could feel that the tears which had heralded Alex's arrival into littlespace were still falling steadily, wet and hot against her. 

"Baby," she questioned, hoping that there was nothing seriously wrong with Alex. "Do you need Mommy to rub anything else? Or would you just like to watch some Dora and cuddle with Mommy?"

Alex sniffled, picking her face up so that she could answer the question. 

"Mommy rub back?"

Kelley nodded, reaching for the remote to put on some Dora the Explorer for while she eased Alex's aches. She gestured for Alex to lean against the back of the couch while she hopped on top of it. It was uncomfortable, and required a bit of a balancing act, but she would rather this than have Alex end up sitting on the floor with Kelley on the couch. 

Her baby girl's shoulders were tense, and Kelley was sure that the tension was only worsened by the extra weight on Alex's front, pulling the other woman forwards and making it more difficult to stand up straight. As she worked at the knots, listening to the melodious sound of the Dora the Explorer theme song (she thanked her lucky stars that Alex had never been accidentally exposed to Caillou, like Emily had- that had been a miserable time for Lindsey), she noticed that Alex's tears still hadn't stopped.

Rather the opposite, in fact. They seemed to have sped up, gained a more panicked edge. Kelley turned Dora down a few notches- it was still loud enough so that Alex could easily hear it, but gave her just enough room to listen a little more carefully to Alex's crying. 

She muted the television.

"Alex, baby," she said, working at a particularly vicious knot in her little girl's shoulder. "Is there something wrong?" 

Alex sniffled at the question, and then burst into full-on terrified sobs. Immediately, Kelley slid down back onto the couch and pulled Alex into her arms, rocking her gently. Alex's big belly made the cuddles a little more awkward, but she still managed to cradle Alex, stroking her hair. Alex was whimpering, sobbing, trying to answer her Mommy's question. 

"Little one," said Kelley, as Alex made a noise that sounded like she was choking on her own tears. "Take your time. Mommy's here. Mommy's right here." 

"I..." whimpered Alex, wrapping a strand of Kelley's hair in her baby fist. "S-S-Sc-c-cared!"

Kelley held Alex closer, kissing her forehead as her stomach sank. 

"Why, sweetie? What's scaring my beautiful little Lex?" 

Alex wailed, and Kelley decided that it would be best to just let her cry it out, comfort her as best she could while she was crying and then find out what was wrong afterwards. She wished that she had more hands, so that she could stroke Alex's hair and back while also holding her head in the crook of her arm and holding her hand. One of Alex's hands was still gripping Kelley's hair, and the other was fisted in her shirt, clinging to it so tightly that her knuckles were pale. 

"Shh," cooed Kelley, holding her baby as close as she possibly could. "Mommy's gotcha."

It took a while for Alex to stop crying- there was clearly something very, very wrong. Normally, Alex never cried for more than five minutes at a time. Kelley ignored the ache in her arm which resulted from supporting Alex's head in the crook of her elbow, whispering comforting words to the scared little girl. 

"Alex, angel," cooed Kelley, leaning down to kiss her little girl on the forehead. "Can you tell Mommy what's scaring you?"

Kelley didn't exactly know what she was expecting to have been frightening her little girl- ideally, it would be something that she could kick in the shins and beat with a stick- but it certainly wasn't this. Alex, a red blush rising to her cheeks and hiding her face in shame, pointed to her round tummy. 

"Baby," she whispered.

Swallowing back her shock, Kelley continued stroking Alex's hair, which had somehow managed to remain silky throughout months of pregnancy.

"Honey," she said. "What do you mean, baby? Why is the baby scaring my precious little one?" 

Alex's lip was still trembling, and her voice was shaky, but what she said was still clear enough for Kelley to have to bite her lip and close her eyes, because this was completely uncharted territory for her. 

"G-Gon' hurt! Gonna hurt real b-b-bad!" 

Kelley swallowed around the lump in her throat, because the thought of her little girl in that much pain was already hard to take- she was still in the process of steeling herself on the occasion that Alex let her be in the room with her. But, the thought of Alex being so afraid of the pain that it sent her into a fit of crying... it was just heartbreaking. 

"Shh, Alex," Kelley cooed, taking Alex's hand in hers and squeezing it gently, trying to buy time for herself to think of something to say. She had no idea what to say, what she could possibly say, to comfort Alex without lying to her. Kelley had never had a baby herself, but she couldn't imagine that the literally hundreds of thousands of women who talked about how incredibly painful it was could possibly be wrong. 

"Mommy," whimpered Alex, and her voice made it sound like the tears were on the verge of starting back up again. Kelley just continued to hold her, kissing her hair. 

"Angel," shushed Kelley. "I can't promise you that it isn't going to hurt. If Mommy could do it for you, I would. Because Mommy would rather hurt than see her sweet baby girl in any pain at all. What Mommy can promise you is that I'll be there for you the whole time. Mommy will be right there, baby, holding your hand the entire time."

Alex's wide eyes found Kelley's, squeezing her Mommy's hand harder. 

"R-Really, Mommy?" 

Kelley nodded, kissing Alex's nose. 

"Really, angel," she said. "You can squeeze Mommy's hand as hard as you need to, and Mommy promises that I'll be there the entire time. I'll never let you go, Alex. You're not gonna be alone, and you're gonna get through it."

Alex allowed a tiny smile to rise on her face, even though her eyes still held the hint of fear which would likely linger until the baby came. 

"Mommy gon' b-be a Grandma."

Kelley couldn't help but throw her head back, laughing and planting a litany of kisses all over her sassy baby's face. 

Chapter Text

Christen was just coming back inside when she heard the sounds of her wife's labored footsteps on the stairs. Quickly, she pulled off her boots and put them on the rack next to the door, returning the reusable shopping bag she had used to carry her treasures to its proper place. Tobin was clearly carrying their baby girl downstairs, and Christen wanted to be waiting on the couch to greet the loves of her life. 

"Mommy!"

Mal's excited morning greetings never failed to bring a smile to Christen's face, especially when her little girl reached out her arms for her, and Tobin deposited her into her wife's lap. 

"Baby girl!"

Christen greeted Mal with just as much excitement, giving the little girl a kiss on each cheek as Tobin headed to the kitchen to prepare their baby's bottle. Mal leaned against Christen's shoulder, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She hadn't remembered what day it was, but she would soon- probably as soon as she got a bottle in her tummy. Tobin returned within moments, armed with a nice, warm bottle, all ready to be fed to their baby girl. 

"Mama," giggled Mal, just as happy to see Tobin after the minute they had been apart as she had been when Mama picked her up out of her crib this morning, kissed her hair, and changed her out of her wet diaper into a nice fresh, clean one. Christen smiled down at Mal, the little girl's enthusiasm warming her heart. She handed the baby back to Tobin as her wife sat down next to her, watching Mal open her mouth like a baby bird, waiting to be given her breakfast. Tobin fed her the bottle slowly, alternating it with little bites of fruit. 

"Good morning, little princess," said Christen, after Tobin had finished feeding Mal her bottle and burped her against her shoulder. "Mommy missed you!"

Mal giggled, kissing Christen's ear. Leaning in close, she whispered like she was telling a secret, but still loudly enough for Tobin to hear her. 

"Happy Easter, Mommy!" 

"Aww," said Christen, ruffling her baby girl's hair. "You too, baby girl!"

Still with a huge grin on her little face, Mal leaned over to whisper the same thing in Tobin's ear, and was met with a flurry of excited kisses from her Mama. Normally, Tobin would be on her way to church by now- Easter Sunday was kind of a big deal for Christians, after all- but she and Christen had talked, and Tobin had agreed to attend a later service. They both wanted to be home, after all, to watch Mal charge off into the yard on her egg hunt! 

Besides, one of them needed to hold her hand while the other took pictures! 

"Princess," whispered Tobin, turning Mal ever so slightly so that the little girl was facing out of the big window separating their living room from their backyard. "I wonder if the Easter Bunny came?"

They were close enough to the yard for Mal to have been able to spot the brightly colored plastic eggs that Christen had hidden- if she had been looking. Instead, she was looking at Mama's face, because she was pretty sure Mama knew if the Easter Bunny had come or not, but just wasn't tellin' her for some reason. 

"Mama think so?"

Tobin shrugged, a huge grin on her face. 

"I don't know, pumpkin," she said. "The Easter Bunny only comes for good little girls. Have you been good lately, baby?"

Mal was briefly alarmed, wracking her brains for any time she had been bad since Christmas- but, her alarm faded as soon as she saw that her Mommies were wearing matching happy smiles. 

"You've been the bestest baby ever," said Mommy, leaning forwards to plaster Mal's face with kisses, making the little girl giggle happily. "Let's go look outside- I'm sure that the Easter Bunny left you a whole bunch of eggs to find!" 

Christen opened their back door for Tobin, Mal and Mal's stuffie, and the little girl's eyes lit up in excitement as she surveyed the backyard, spotting all the pretty colored eggs that had been laid out for her to "find." 

Her Mommy hadn't made it challenging- Mal was really too little to have much patience for searching, after all. Besides, such a tiny girl couldn't walk for that long, even holding Mama or Mommy's hand. The little girl was shaking in excitement, ready to rush outside and pick up the eggs. But, she still needed to get dressed- although Tobin had changed her diaper, she was still in her pajamas.

Tobin brought her back upstairs with Christen on her heels, and the two of them cooed at Mal while they changed her out of her pajamas and into a cute pair of leggings and a onesie with little bunnies on it. They had gotten it for her because she was their bunny, but it was especially appropriate for today! 

The morning chill still lingered in the air, and so Christen wrapped Mal up in a sweater and helped her put gloves on her little hands, then she carried her little one back downstairs. Mal's backyard shoes sat beside Christen and Tobin's, and Christen held Mal on her lap while Tobin slid them onto her socked feet. 

"Okay," said Christen, scooping a bouncy Mal back up into her arms and reaching for the door handle. "I think it's time for my baby girl to find some eggs!" 

Christen carried Mal, while Tobin carried the basket and her phone, to be used as a camera for taking pictures of her adorable baby girl on an Easter Egg hunt! As soon as they got outside, the baby was squirming to be let down, eyes examining every place where she saw the bright colors that meant there was a surprise waiting for her. 

"Okay," said Christen. "I think the Easter Bunny hid about twenty eggs. You ready to go find them, little one?"

Mal nodded in excitement, grabbing onto Christen's hand and beginning to toddle out into the yard, using her Mommy as support so she didn't fall down. Christen let Mal take the lead, following the pressure of her baby girl's hand towards the first of the eggs, a pink one that she had set right on top of the picnic table. The basket was in her other hand, and she held it out so that Mal could drop the egg gently down, hearing the satisfying clatter that meant there were goodies inside!

Tobin stood by the door, smiling at her girls. Her camera clicked away, capturing as many of the precious moments as she could as Mal toddled around, squealing in delight every time she found an egg. Sometimes she would hold them up to her ear and shake them, giggling in excitement whenever she heard the jellybeans and candies rattling inside. Other eggs she would clench triumphantly in her little fist, raising them high and showing them to Tobin.

"Mama," she chirped happily. "I finded 'nother one!" 

"Good job, baby," Tobin called back, making sure to zoom in on her camera so that she could capture Mal's adorable smile. 

Once she reached eighteen eggs, Christen could tell that Mal was starting to get a little bit tired of walking- she was really very little, after all- and so she helped the little girl climb up onto her back and point the way she wanted her Mommy to walk, clever little eyes spotting the last two eggs easily and kissing Mommy's cheek when they joined the others in the basket. 

"Good job," Tobin praised Mal again as she slid off of Christen's back and into her arms. "You found them all, my smart little princess!" 

Mal grinned, taking her basket from Christen and keeping a tight hold on it with her little fist. 

"I eat them?"

Christen pretended to think about it for a minute, but Tobin didn't hesitate before giving Mal permission to eat one egg, with a promise that she could have another after she ate her lunch. She waited until they were back inside to pick out the egg, shaking each one to try and judge which one had the most candy in it. She settled on a sparkly purple once which had been "hidden" in the crook of a tree, and cracked it open to reveal two mini chocolates and eight jelly beans. 

Tobin helped her unwrap her first chocolate bar, silently trying to apologize to Christen with her eyes- her wife would be the one to deal with their baby's sugar high, most likely, while she was at church. Christen shook her head with a smile as Mal popped the candy into her mouth and chewed on it happily.

"Mama wan' some?"

Tobin nodded when she saw the green jellybean in Mal's hand, being held towards her by a little hand with big eyes. She opened her mouth, and Mal giggled as she fed her Mama, popping the jellybean in and happily watching Tobin chew and swallow. She repeated the process with Mommy, offering Christen a pink one. 

"Jellybean kisses!"

Christen grinned and kissed Mal's right cheek, while Tobin kissed her left one. The baby giggled, squirming in their laps but making absolutely no attempt to stop her Mommies from plastering kisses all over her face. 

Tobin headed out for church just as the sugar was starting to kick in for Mal, and Christen rolled her eyes fondly and kissed her goodbye.

"Have a good time, love," she said. "Don't bring back any more candy, please."

Tobin laughed in agreement, kissing Christen's cheek before closing the door behind her, hating to leave the sound of her baby's giggles. As she drove to church, she knew she had a lot to be thankful for. 

Chapter Text

"Good morning, sweetheart," came the voice at the door. "Are you ready for some breakfast?"

Carli yawned, her paci falling from her mouth as she stretched, clutching her puppy in her fist. Normally, she'd've popped right up and reached out, ready to be picked out. But then again, normally, she wouldn't be in a crib. 

Normally, she wouldn't be sleeping in anyone else's house. 

She gave a tiny nod, letting Christie pick her up out of baby jail and carry her over to the makeshift changing table. She had told herself that she wasn't gonna cry this morning, and she had gotten further than she typically did, but she still couldn't help it when the babysitter stripped her out of her bottoms to get her in a clean diaper. 

"It's okay, sweetheart," said Christie, as Carli shielded her face with her puppy. "You're okay." 

Christie had been so patient with her, over the past few days. She had even stayed up with her all night the first day, holding her in the rocking chair and petting her hair, feeding her warm bottles, and bouncing her until she had finally drifted off into a fitful sleep. It had only taken half the night the next day, and she had finally been able to sleep through the night last night. 

"Mommy," she whispered. "I wan' Mommy."

Christie cooed sympathetically, lifting Carli back up into her arms and rubbing her back gently. 

"I know, little one," she whispered. "But, Mommy's going to be back in a few days to come and pick up her little one. Until then, I'm going to keep taking care of you. Now, let's go get you some breakfast. Does that sound good to you, little princess?"

Carli nodded, rubbing her puppy against her eyes to try and stop her tears from falling. 

Christie bounced her gently as she walked her out towards the kitchen, where the aroma of waffles met their noses. Reece and Rylie had loaded their plates with the treats, covered in syrup and strawberries, and they had gotten out two extra plates- one for their mom, and one for their guest. 

Carli shied away from the waffles, looking up at Christie and trying to tell her without words what she wanted. The older woman gave her an understanding smile, ruffling her hair.

"I know, honey," she said. "I'll get you your fruit."

Rylie rolled her eyes- Carli was definitely making her and Reece look bad in terms of healthy eating. Even when she was little, the woman couldn't let go of her food preferences. 

It had been strange for the girls, especially at first, to have Carli here. But they couldn't help but feel bad for her, especially when their mother had sat them down and told them why she was coming. It had been difficult for Hope, dealing with both her twins and her little. She had been trying it for a week before she started to get worn out, and she had decided that she needed a week to get back on her feet, get into the rhythm of taking care of her newborns before she added Carli back into the mix. 

So, heart twisted with guilt, she had sent Carli off to spend the week with Christie. She called her whenever he could, needing her to remember that Mommy hadn't abandoned her, that Mommy loved her so much, and that she would see her soon! Carli loved the phone calls, and would always give a big smile and giggle happily, smacking her lips in a mock kiss for her Mommy before hanging up the phone. 

It always hurt everyone's heart to hear her cry after, though, snuggling her puppy and refusing to be comforted.

After breakfast was over, Reece and Rylie would head to school, leaving Carli home alone with Christie. The older woman would always sit with her on the couch, reading her books and watching shows with her and watching her play listlessly with the toys she had brought with her. It was a routine, and little Carli loved routines. Which is why, when she didn't see Rylie and Reece changing out of their pajamas and head out the door, her eyes widened and her lip began to quiver a little bit. 

Christie, who was putting the dishes into the dishwasher, noticed Carli's distress immediately. She raced over, running a hand up and down Carli's back. 

"What's wrong, sweetie?" 

If she was being honest, Carli didn't even know. Her eyes had begun to well with tears, even this slight disruption to what had become "normal" over the past few days enough to set her off. She just wanted to go home! 

Big Carli understood why Hope needed some time with just her twins, but little Carli had no idea how to handle this major disruption to her life. She didn't think she liked those babies very much, and she just couldn't understand why Mommy needed them when she already had her! Hadn't she been a good baby? Did Mommy not like her anymore, was Mommy gonna leave her here with Auntie Christie and Rylie and Reece forever?? 

By the time Christie had picked her up and carried her back to the makeshift nursery, which was really the guest room, Carli was fully sobbing. The older woman rocked her, handing her stuffed puppy and keeping her paci on standby, just making soft noises to try and calm her down a little bit. 

Carli couldn't tell how long she cried for- all she knew was that her eyes were bloodshot, her face stained, and her throat sore by the time she was done. Christie's shirt was soaked with her tears, and it felt damp and gross beneath Carli's cheek. 

"There," whispered the older woman, soothing her as best as she could. "Atta girl, sweetie. You're okay, I've gotcha. Would you like a bottle?" 

Even though she had just eaten breakfast, a warm bottle did sound really nice right now... When she was drinking from a bottle, she could close her eyes and pretend that it was Mommy, cradling her in her arms, holding her so close. 

So, she nodded. 

"Okay, sweetheart," said the older woman. "Just let me go change my shirt, and I'll be right back with your bottle. Does that sound good?" 

Carli gave a tentative nod, watching Christie with wide eyes and clutching her puppy as she left the room, with another promise that she'd be right back. Carli rocked back and forth while she waited- she was pretty sure she could be okay for the time it took for Christie to get back with a new shirt and a bottle. As long as it didn't take more than a minute and a half. 

However, it hadn't been even thirty seconds before the nursery door opened again. Carli looked up, expecting to see Christie returning with a bottle, but her eyes widened in confusion and she shrank backward when she saw Rylie at the door. 

Between Christie's daughters, Rylie was the one who had interacted the least with Carli during the few days that she'd been there. Whereas Reece would wave hello, or hand Carli something that she'd dropped, Rylie had mostly avoided the awkwardness of having her around and stayed in her room. Really, Rylie did still look a little bit awkward, standing in the door, looking at her. 

"Um," said the teenager. "Hi."

Carli buried her face in her stuffed puppy as Rylie came further into the room, swinging her arms and looking at the floor. 

"Do you mind," said Rylie, as Carli still refused to look at her. "If I talk to you for a minute?" 

Carli didn't react, snuggling her puppy closer. Rylie took the non-rejection as a confirmation of sorts and sat on the carpet across from Carli. It was a carpet that had previously lain on the floor of her room, and she ran her fingers through the fabric, feeling it under her hands and picking lightly at it. 

"So," said Rylie. "I know that you don't really want to be here. And I've heard you crying at night."

Carli whimpered- she had no idea where this was going, and she wasn't sure she liked it. Was Rylie about to yell at her?? 

The teenager noticed this, and reached out a tentative hand, placing it on Carli's shoulder, squeezing and rubbing it gently, trying to soothe the baby before she started crying. 

"Hey," she said. "It's okay."

They sat for a minute, and Carli had to admit that Rylie's hand felt really nice on her shoulder. 

"You know," said Rylie after a minute. "I didn't like Reece when she was first born."

Carli cocked her head, vaguely interested. From what she'd seen, Rylie and Reece were practically best friends- the older was always taking care of her little sister, especially when their mother was busy comforting Carli. But, from what Rylie was telling her, that hadn't always been true. 

"I thought Mom didn't love me anymore," she said. "She spent all her time with Reece, and I hated it. I just wanted my mom, and I couldn't have her." 

Rylie took a deep breath, listening for Carli's reaction. 

"B-But," the baby whimpered. "Sh-She l-loves you!"

Rylie smiled, scooting closer to Carli. The baby leaned against her shoulder, and the teenager cooed, petting Carli's back. 

"I know," she said. "Just like your Mommy still loves you. She's just a little bit distracted, but I promise she still loves you. And the twins are going to love you too."

Carli looked up at her with wide eyes. She had no idea how, but Rylie sounded so certain... 

"It's all gonna be okay," said Rylie, standing up as her mother returned with Carli's bottle. Carli waved a shy goodbye to the teenager as she left, and then nuzzled closer into Christie's chest. 

She still wasn't happy about the twins, but she had to admit that they were pretty cute... And, as long as Mommy still loved her, she supposed that it would probably be okay. 

Chapter Text

Ali was, as was so often the case, the last one in the locker room. She was a senior now- it had become almost her responsibility by default to stay after, to make sure that everything was as it should be before practice the next day. Everything looked good- no food left out, no dirty towels, nothing immediately wrong. She nodded to herself, slinging her bag up over her shoulder and making her way to the door. She was about to push it open and head back to her place when she heard a strange sound, almost like... like something whimpering. 

Leaving her bag by the door, Ali decided that she would take another look around the locker room- the only place where she hadn't looked for any messes was the bathroom stalls, which was where the noise seemed to be coming from. 

"Is anyone here?"

There was no answer to the question, other than a sudden quieting of the sounds- there was clearly someone else here, and they clearly didn't want Ali to find them. 

But, it sounded like whoever it was was crying, and Ali knew she would regret it if she left the locker room while one of her teammates was crying all alone in a bathroom stall. She didn't bother to muffle her footsteps as she walked over to the door, beneath which she could see a pair of shoes and a bag, as well as hear the sound of tears being stifled in a shirt sleeve.

"Hey," she said, tapping on the stall door. "Are you okay in there?" 

Whoever was in there didn't answer her, just muffled another sob in her elbow. Ali tapped at the door again.

"Can I come in?"

"N-Nuh!"

The voice sounded small, weighed down with tears. There was a sniffle, and then another sob- this one not muffled. Ali was growing more and more concerned every second and, forgetting about the homework that she really should start, sank down to sit on the floor beside the stall. She tapped again.

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

The person in the stall whimpered, and Ali could see just from her feet that she was shaking, rocking herself back and forth. 

"B-But," she sniffled. "Not want you to hate me!"

"Honey," said Ali, not even realizing it when the term of endearment slipped from between her lips. If she closed her eyes and forgot she was in the Penn State locker room, she may have mistaken the voice (or at least the tone) for a small child who had done something wrong and was hiding from their parents. 

"I won't hate you! Please, I promise I'll go away if you really want me to, but please open the door so I can make sure you're okay." 

The shaking intensified, and Ali could hear that the person inside was breathing a little heavier, sounding terrified, at war with herself. 

Then, the unmistakable sound of a lock sliding open. Ali carefully pushed the door open, and looked down to see who it was who had been crying in the bathroom all alone. 

It was one of the rookies- Alyssa. She had her arms wrapped around her knees, and tears were dripping down her splotched cheeks. She was still shaking a little bit, looking up at Ali with wide eyes and a still-quivering lip. 

"Hey," said Ali, crouching in front of the rookie keeper. "Hey, Alyssa, what's wrong?" 

"I- I- I-"

The younger woman couldn't speak, and one of her hands was lingering near her mouth. It seemed to be taking all of her willpower to hold it there, and Ali wasn't sure where she wanted it to go, or didn't want it to go. 

"It's okay," said the older player. "Let's at least get you out of this bathroom, okay?"

Alyssa shook her head violently, tears redoubling as she shrank backward. Ali raised a confused eyebrow, and then she noticed. Alyssa shifting had revealed the damp spot where she had just been sitting, which seemed to have come from the seat of her pants. Alyssa saw her looking, and started to wail, giving up and letting her thumb fly into her mouth, sucking furiously on it in an attempt to comfort herself. 

"P'ease," Ali managed to make out through the copious tears and the thumb. "N-No tell!" 

The younger girl looked so terrified that all instinct which would have told Ali to stay far away from what was clearly a puddle of urine was overridden by a desire to wrap Alyssa up in her arms, comfort her and take care of her. 

"Shh," she said, crouching down again and running a tentative hand through Alyssa's hair. "Shh, Alyssa. It's okay, I promise I won't tell anyone. Now c'mon, sweetie, let's get you out of this icky stall and clean you up." 

Alyssa allowed Ali to help her to her feet, all but carrying her over to one of the benches and telling her to wait for just a second while she ran back to the stall to grab the younger girl's soccer bag. Thankfully, there was a towel inside which Ali spread out over the bench before helping Alyssa sit down on it. The keeper was still shaking, and Ali did her best to ignore the now very obvious scent of Alyssa's accident permeating the air. 

"S-S-S-Sowwy," whimpered Alyssa, mumbling around her thumb and her tears. "I- I is b-bad."

"Shh," cooed Ali again. "Honey, let's get you cleaned up, and then we'll talk about it, okay?"

Alyssa, still crying, gave a tiny nod but made no move to help Ali- the older player looked at her for a minute, then dug through the girl's soccer bag to find any extra clothes that might be there. 

"Alyssa," said Ali. "Are you able to help me right now?" 

Alyssa suckled harder on her thumb, trying to comfort herself as she shook her head. 

"I- I is too small," she whimpered, then hid her face in her hands, blushing furiously and looking like she wished the ground would open up and swallow her. Anything to take her out of this horror story- alone in the locker room of her college except for one of the senior players, who happened to have just come across her sitting in a puddle of her own pee because she had regressed and couldn't make it to the potty on time. 

"What do you mean?"

Ali sounded genuinely concerned, curious- not judgemental as Alyssa had expected. Plus, the defender's hand on her shoulder, stroking her and trying to calm her, felt so good, so comforting and safe. 

"I..." Alyssa took a deep breath, steeling herself to reveal one of her biggest secrets, the one that she had been hoping no one would ever find out- especially while she was here at college, just a freshman without a defined place on the team yet. 

"I'm little," she whispered. 

"Ohh," cooed Ali, sitting down beside her and wrapping her arms around her. "That's okay, I've got you sweetheart. You're safe with me, little one. I'm gonna take care of you. If that's okay," she added quickly, looking nervously at Alyssa for her reaction. The little girl's eyes were wide, still teary but amazed, as if she couldn't believe that this was true! She had been expecting Ali to run away from her, to break her promise not to tell, and for the whole team to know by the morning that Alyssa Naeher was nothing but a little baby who had pissed her pants in the locker room and shouldn't be allowed on the team. 

She nodded. 

"If you wants to," she whispered, and Ali smiled, giving her a big hug and stroking her back. 

"I do, baby. Now," she continued, pulling out a pair of Alyssa's spare shorts. "Can Auntie Ali get you out of those wet pants and into some nice dry ones?"

Alyssa nodded, flushing a dark red but staying still like a good baby while her teammate gently stripped her bottom half, using a dampened piece of toilet paper to wipe her, and then sliding her new pair of shorts onto her. 

"There you go," Ali praised her, balling up the shorts inside the towel and magically producing a plastic bag to put them both in until she could wash them. Alyssa was still sucking on her thumb, watching Ali's movements, waiting for her to come back. 

"Do you want to come back to my place?"

Alyssa nodded, giving Ali a small smile at the question. She had been dreading going back to her dorm, especially when she still smelled vaguely like pee and had very clearly been crying. But, she hadn't wanted to ask- Ali was already helping her so much, she didn't want to be annoying and ask for anything more- and so she was so relieved to hear the offer. 

"Good," said Ali, washing her hands before taking Alyssa's in her own, slinging both of their bags over her shoulder. "If you want, I'll give you a bath and we can watch a movie. Does that sound good, little one?" 

Alyssa nodded, squeezing Ali's hand tightly and following her back out into the evening air. 

"Thanks you," she whispered as they walked, Ali's hand in hers making her feel all fuzzy and small and safe. 

"No problem, love," said Ali with a smile. "Auntie Ali's gotcha."

 

Chapter Text

"Hmmm," said Sue, looking dramatically around the kitchen. "Where could she be?" 

She pretended that she didn't hear the giggle coming from under the table, or see the little girl crouched beneath it, under the impression that if she couldn't see Mommy, Mommy couldn't see her! She was wrong, of course, but far be it from Sue to shatter Megan's happiness by finding her too quickly. 

She opened the cupboards and pretended to look around for her little girl. She had already checked the bathroom, and she knew she would have to "find" Megan soon, before the baby got too bored and decided to run out and pout that Mommy hadn't been looking hard enough. 

"Megan," Sue called. "Where are you?"

The stifled giggle came again, and Sue saw out of the corner of her eye that Megan's face was buried in her stuffie, bouncing with excitement. Sue shut the cupboard door quietly and started tiptoeing towards the adorable girl concealed beneath their kitchen table. 

"I gotcha!"

She leapt forward and wrapped her arms around Megan, pulling her into her arms. The little girl squealed with surprise, falling backwards against Mommy and almost hitting her head on the underside of the table. For a moment, Sue was afraid that she had really frightened her little girl, but that fear fled quickly when Megan shrieked with laughter, crawling out from under the table and raising her arms to be picked up, still giggling. 

Sue shook her head adoringly, bending down to scoop her little one up into her arms. She should have known that Megan wasn't really scared- she couldn't think of a time when she had scared her little girl, rather remembered the dozens of times Megan had snuck up behind her and jumped on her, making her jolt. 

"Hey, baby! Mommy found you!" 

Megan kept giggling, wrapping her arms around Sue's neck and giving her a big kiss on the cheek. 

"Uh-huh! We play 'gain?" 

Sue gave Megan a kiss in return, setting her and her stuffie down on the couch. 

"Okay, baby," she said. "One more round, and then Mommy will check your diaper and put you down for nappies. Sound good?" 

Megan looked like she was about to pout in protest- she didn't need a nap! She was wide awake!- but decided better of it, opting instead to give Sue a devilish grin and cover her eyes. 

"One," she started counting. "Two, 'free, four..." 

Sue took a second to admire how adorable Megan looked, then took off to find a hiding place- not too easy, but also easy enough so as to not frustrate her baby girl. She tiptoed through the living room and to the bathroom, burying herself in a pile of laundry but making sure to leave one of her feet sticking out. 

"Twenty!" 

Megan's voice was muffled by the pile of clothes, but still audible from her hiding place as she finished counting. The baby popped up, holding her stuffie in one hand, and went in search of her Mommy. Sue could hear her little girl toddling around the house, looking in all the obvious places- first in the living room, then in the closet and the kitchen, and finally made her way to the bathroom. First, she looked inside the washing machine. Sue could hear the door to the appliance opening, and tensed, preparing to hop out and grab Megan around the waist to prevent her from messing around with it- Little Megan had been banned from touching the washing machine following an incident where she had thought her tiny mind correlated to a tiny body, and had gotten stuck trying to climb inside. 

Thankfully, Sue heard Megan's little socked feet moving on from the danger machine and checking the hamper. Nope. 

Megan kept searching, walking closer and closer to where Sue hid, in the pile of unfolded clean laundry. The basketball player jumped when she felt an unexpected little hand close around her foot, sending several socks, as well as Megan's second favourite onesie, flying. Megan giggled maniacally- it was so funny when she managed to scare Mommy! 

"Aww," said Sue, popping out of the laundry pile and scooping Megan up again. "You found Mommy!" 

Megan nodded proudly, patting on Sue's head first with her hand and then with her stuffie's paw. 

"Uh-huh," she said smugly. "I finded Mommy quicker than Mommy finded me!" 

Sue rolled her eyes fondly, at the same time discretely checking her little girl's pull-up. It was damp, and so she would have to change it before she put the baby down for her nap. 

"Okay, pumpkin," she said. "It's time for Mommy to change you, and then we'll take a nap!"

Megan pouted, sticking her tongue out. 

"No wanna nap," she grouched. "Not s'eepy." 

Sue shook her head right as Megan gave a very revealing yawn. 

"Okay," she said, laying the baby down on their changing table. "Then how about you cuddle with Mommy?"

Megan nodded eagerly, falling easily into Sue's trap, as Mommy unbuttoned her onesie to change her diaper. Sue quickly fastened her baby girl into a new diaper, complete with rash cream, then re-buttoned the garment. After washing her hands, she plucked Megan off the table and carried her to the bed.

Megan leaned happily back against the pillows, letting Sue pull the blankets over her, then snuggled into Mommy's side when she joined her. Another big yawn came from her mouth, and it was immediately clear that her eyes were heavy, and the soft mattress, cozy blankies and cuddly Mommy were enough to send her towards the nap she had refused to take. 

"Aww," cooed Sue. "C'mere, angel. Snuggle with Mommy. Mommy's gotcha, Megan." 

Megan yawned again, sliding even further down into the mattress. Sue stroked her hair until she felt her baby's breathing even out, and then let out a yawn of her own. She fell asleep with her arms wrapped around her little girl, protecting her from anything that might occur.  

Chapter Text

Auntie Allie's hand was warm in hers, and the steady presence was the only thing keeping Kelley from shaking apart. She was so nervous- she wasn't sure she had ever been this nervous in her life. Not even during the big games she had played, or when she first told Alex that she was little. Because, just behind that wooden door, was her beautiful and perfect Mommy, and her new little baby sister! 

She hadn't seen Mommy in a few days- she had needed time to recover from the birth, and to spend quality time with her newborn and husband. So, Kelley had been shipped off to Auntie Allie's house with her paci, pull-ups, and stuffie, and as much as she loved Allie and Bati, she had really missed her Mommy! 

Her dry pull-up crinkled as she followed Auntie Allie into the room, holding tightly to the other woman's strong hand with one of her little ones and to her stuffed bear with the other. 

"Kelley," came a soft and gentle voice, the exact voice that the little girl had been missing desperately for days and days. Her ears perked up, and she raised her head to look at the familiar bed, where she slept sometimes when she had icky nightmares. Mommy was sitting up, cradling a little bundle all wrapped up in pink and green blankets, and she was beckoning Kelley forwards.

"Gentle," whispered Auntie Allie as she held Kelley back from running forwards and jumping onto the bed, instead scooping the little one up to deposit her beside Alex. 

"Thank you so much, Al," said Alex gratefully to her friend, squeezing Allie's hand before the third woman went downstairs to give the little family some time to themselves. She would be staying a few more days to help Alex out with Kelley- having an adult-sized toddler and a newborn baby, plus dogs, wasn't going to be easy. 

Mommy opened her right arm and Kelley cuddled into her side, leaning against her strong shoulder and snuggling her fluffy teddy. She had almost forgotten how nice Mommy smelled, like pretty flowers and the baby powder she used whenever she changed baby Kelley's diaper. She grabbed onto Mommy's soft shirt in her other hand, nuzzling into her and letting the relief of being reunited with the most important person in her life overwhelm her.

"Hi, baby," said Alex softly, smiling down at Kelley adoringly. "I missed you so much!"

"Missed you too," whispered Kelley, emotion beginning to overwhelm her as the bundle in Mommy's arms shifted. 

"Aww," cooed Alex, leaning over to kiss Kelley's head. "Did you have a good time with Auntie Allie and Uncle Bati?"

Kelley nodded into Alex's side, chewing on the fabric of her shirt a little bit, making Alex laugh lightly.

"Uh huh," she said. "But I was w-worried 'bout Mommy."

Alex stroked a hand through her hair- her baby smelled a little bit different, like Allie's shampoo. God, she couldn't wait to take a bath with her little girl, hold her close and wash her hair, then rinse it out with a cup of water.

"Mommy's okay," she said. "I promise. And snuggles with my sweet little Kelly make me perfect!"

The bundle in Mommy's arms which had, until now, played second fiddle to the fact that she was finally back with Mommy, made a little noise, yawning. Kelley's eyes widened, and she looked at the blankets, lip trembling. 

"Mommy," she whimpered. 

"Shh, love," cooed Alex. "Would you like to meet your baby sister?"

Kelley nodded, frightened but excited at the same time. Something was shaking, and she realized it was her as Mommy stroked her arms, calming her.

"It's okay, pumpkin," she said. "You're okay."

Then, she shifted the bundle in her arms so that Kelley had a perfect view of the baby's face. 

Despite having just woken up, Charlie's brown eyes were wide as she looked up at the new person in her world. The hairs on her head were tiny, and her mouth was open a little bit, revealing a tiny pink tongue. Kelley looked down at her, damp eyes even wider than Charlie's, and lip trembling even more. 

She wanted to cry. This was just so overwhelming, 'cause Charlie was just so tiny, and she looked so soft, and Mommy was holding her so gently and carefully, head in the crook of her arm. She buried her head back into Mommy's other side, letting a few tears escape and hit Alex's skin. 

"Baby girl," cooed Mommy, somehow managing to rock Charlie and comfort Kelley at the same time. "Baby girl, it's okay. Mommy's here, Mommy's gotcha. It's okay to cry, Mommy's here, and Mommy will always love you so much." 

"M-M-Mommmyyy," cried Kelley, whimpers still buried in Alex's skin. "I-I-I... S-She..."

Alex didn't ask her anything, just let her cry. Charlie, remarkably, didn't let Kelley's crying set off her own. She rested calmly in her Mommy's arms while Alex comforted her toddler. 

Finally, Kelley stopped crying, letting Alex's reassuring touch comfort her. Charlie was gurgling contentedly, eyes flickering around as she observed the big new world around her, including her big sister. 

"There," said Alex. "Good baby. Mommy loves you so much, and so does Charlie. She can't wait to get to know you, sweetie."

"R-Really?"

Kelley's eyes were red as she looked back at Charlie, and she used her bear to wipe up the rest of her tears. 

"Really," said Alex. "Would you like to have Mommy help you hold her?"

Kelley's mouth was slightly open as she nodded. Alex smiled adoringly at her girls, resting Charlie's tiny body against Kelley's arms while still holding the baby herself. Kelley swallowed around a new lump in her throat, 'cause Charlie was so soft! So, so soft, and so... so...

"Good job," cooed Alex. "You're holding your baby sister, Kelley! I'm so proud of you." 

Kelley smiled down at Charlie and then glanced back up at Alex, curious.

"Mommy," she whispered, making sure to be quiet because she was pretty sure that babies liked it when it was quiet. "Can I touch her face?"

Alex's smile grew as she nodded, watching Kelley carefully. 

"You can, sweetie," she said. "Just be really gentle, okay? She's a little bit fragile right now. But she trusts you. Isn't that right, Charlie?"

The question had been thrown out absently, just as another comfort for Kelley, but Charlie gurgled and cooed, almost as if confirming Alex's statement. Kelley giggled, bringing a single finger down and stroking Charlie's cheek softly. It felt like silk beneath her fingertip, and she stroked it again and again, fascinated. Charlie was softer than even her blankie! 

"Hi," she whispered. "Hi Charlie. I is your big sister. And I gonna take real good care of you." 

Charlie yawned contentedly, little eyes fluttering shut again. Alex smiled down at her daughter, then over at her little girl, pulling Kelley back against her and kissing both of her cheeks. 

"My girls," she cooed happily as Kelley drifted off too, leaning against her Mommy's shoulder, entire body filled with relief, 'cause Mommy still loved her, and Charlie was real cute and soft, and she loved her a whole bunch! 

Alex let her girls nap, knowing that she would never get enough of this.

Chapter Text

Quarantine sucked. That was just a fact. But, if there was one positive to it, it was that Morgan at least got to spend it with one of her favorite people in the whole world!

"Mommy," she said happily, looking up from her drawing to where Danielle sat on the couch, reading a book with one eye and watching her with the other. "I finisheded!" 

Danielle marked her place with a colorful bookmark that had been decorated for her a few days ago by Morgan, walking over to the card table she had set up for her little one to draw on. Morgan swung her feet impatiently as Mommy approached, wishing that the other woman would just walk a little bit faster, 'cause she'd done a really really good job on this one, and she was so excited for Danielle to see it, maybe put it up on the fridge! 

Danielle adjusted the pink bow which held up Morgan's ponytail, looking over her baby's shoulder to admire her latest creation. 

It was a crayon sketch of a big tree (which resembled a head of broccoli, if Danny were being honest) surrounded by a field of purple, orange, red, blue, and pink flowers. The grass was two different shades of green, blended together, the yellow sun had a smiley face drawn on with the black crayon, and Danny could see where Morgan had originally tried to draw the clouds in white, but then realized that that didn't show up very well on white paper. So, she had switched to a light gray, making sure that she drew them extra puffy so that Mommy could tell they were happy clouds and not the ones that made the thunder! 

"I love it, baby!"

Danny gave Morgan a kiss on the top of her head as she admired the latest masterpiece. The little girl blushed and smiled, putting her crayons back into their box. 

"Do you want to come with Mommy to put it up on the fridge?"

Morgan nodded, letting Danny help her down from her chair and holding her Mommy's hand in her own as she followed her to the kitchen. The women's fridge was practically an art gallery by now, doors and sides full of Morgan's numerous quarantine masterpieces. Finding an empty spot beneath the icemaker, Danny let Morgan pick out a magnet before pinning up the happy scene with the girl's choice, one with an image of a truffula tree from The Lorax. 

"We're gonna have to start hanging some of your drawings on the wall," said Danny, noticing only one or two further open spaces on the crowded fridge. Morgan nodded in agreement, starting to stick her thumb in her mouth.

"Nuh uh," said Danny, gently grabbing Morgan's wrist in her hand pulling the little girl's thumb out of her mouth. "You have crayon on your hands, little one! What do we do when we have something on our hands?"

Morgan stuck out her lower lip in a halfhearted pout before answering her Mommy.

"Wash 'em, Mommy," she said, and her smile returned as soon as Danny gave her a kiss on her cute little nose. 

"That's right! Come with Mommy, princess, we'll get your hands all clean and then we'll get you some lunch, okay?"

Morgan nodded again, grabbing hold of Danny's hand again and following her Mommy down the hallway. First, to their bathroom- if they were going to be washing their hands anyway, Danny reasoned, it made sense to change Morgan's diaper first. The little girl let her Mommy lift her up onto the changing table without any fuss- unless she was smack in the middle of a tantrum, Morgan was always a very good girl during diaper changes, never wiggly or fussy to the point where it proved any trouble for Danny. Then, fresh diaper fastened securely, it was off to the big girl bathroom to wash hands!

Danny did her own first then guided Morgan to put her own beneath the warm water. She gave the little girl a squirt of foamy pink soap, helping Morgan rub her hands together to make sure that she was getting all clean! Morgan thought about protesting when Mommy pulled out the nail brush- Mommy had painted her nails just yesterday while they watched Frozen II! They were so pretty, and she didn't want them to get ruined! But, before she could raise any objections, Danny had already used the tool to get any icky or dirty thing out from under her fingernails, and her nail polish appeared to have survived intact. 

Morgan was glad- although she had enjoyed the process of nail painting, especially while singing along to the movie, she wanted to keep this sparkly polish on for a little while more before getting her nails painted again. Even though she missed being able to go out, she had to admit that she liked it more when Mommy painted her nails than when they got them done in a salon. (Danny, on the other hand, had ended up with a streak of purple across the skin part of her fingers when Morgan had gotten distracted by "Into the Unknown"). 

"There we go," said Danny, switching the water off and helping Morgan dry her hands on her favorite Elsa towel. "All clean, baby girl! Now, how about Mommy gets you some Mac 'n Cheese for lunch?"

Morgan nodded eagerly, bouncing a little bit with excitement, and Danny rolled her eyes fondly. Was it just her little baby, or did all kids love that Kraft stuff? 

The little girl swung her feet excitedly at the kitchen table, playing with her hairbow as she watched Mommy cook the pasta, then add the cheese, then wait for it to cool down enough so that it wouldn't hurt her little girl's sensitive tongue, then pour her a glass of water in her plastic sippy cup, then set it down in front of her. Morgan dug in with gusto, devouring forkfuls of the stuff and staining her mouth the exact color of the food. Silently, Danny cursed herself for not making Morgan wear a bib while eating the gloppy orange mess. 

Although she had to admit, as she stole a piece from Morgan's bowl to the melody of indignant cries from her baby, the orange glop wasn't half bad. 

Maybe her baby was onto something... 

Chapter Text

"And, obviously, you know my number. If anything goes wrong, don't hesitate to call me. I fed her right before we came, so you shouldn't need to, but you can give her a healthy snack if she gets hungry-"

On this trajectory, it seemed like Christen was about to repeat everything she had just told Allie. The striker had already discussed Tobin's schedule and rules in extensive detail and, although Allie could understand the other woman's protectiveness, her memory wasn't so bad as to need it repeated again right away. 

"Chris," she said, doing her best to ignore the toddler clinging to her arm and attempting to drag her somewhere to play. "It's okay. I'll call you if I need anything. I promise." 

Christen took a deep breath, then picked up her purse. 

"I know," she said. "Again, thanks so much, Allie."

The blonde nodded as Tobin let go of her arm to run and hug her Mommy. Christen swooped the little girl up into her arms and gave her a kiss on the forehead, then one on her nose. 

"Bye, Mommy," said Tobin, nuzzling Christen's cheek with her forehead. "Have good time."

"I'm just going to get groceries, my love," said Christen with a laugh. "But I will. You have a good time with Auntie Allie, okay?"

Tobin nodded, wriggling out of her Mommy's arms and grabbing onto her babysitter. The two of them waved as Christen left the house and got into the car, leaving Tobin and Allie alone. Immediately, Tobin had grabbed back onto Allie's arm and was dragging her babysitter towards the stairs. Her steps were occasionally a little bit shaky, but she was still very strong, even as a little. Allie made the toddler hold her hand while going up the stairs- the last thing she needed was for her friend to trip and fall only minutes after her Mommy left- that was one way to make sure that she never got to babysit again, dooming Tobin to a lifetime of veggies and books about cats with Auntie Becky, the "responsible" babysitter. 

"This my room," said Tobin, pulling Allie into the spare room right off of the one she and Christen normally shared, which held her toddler bed, stuffies, picture books, and art table. Big wooden letters on the wall above the railed bed spelled out T-O-B-I-N. 

"I love it!" Allie said excitedly, admiring the nursery. Tobin smiled proudly, clearly pleased with her space.

"Did you decorate this all yourself?"

Allie asked the question in the voice adults use when trying to praise a young child, and the question and tone made Tobin's eyes light up even more. 

"Uh-huh," she said, bouncing on her little socked toes (shark patterned- clearly an Auntie Ash gift). "Well, Mommy helped, 'cause I'm not 'lowed to use the power tools when I's little."

Allie spent several minutes following Tobin around the room, trying to remember the names of the stuffed animals she pointed out (because, apparently, Muffin sitting in Tobin's bed was different from Mr. Muffins, on the big stuffie shelf), and determining if this room would be a good location for the activity she'd brought. 

After a minute examining Tobin's already paint and crayon stained art table, she knew it would be. 

"Hey, sweetie," she said, as Tobin began to wind down her tour. "I brought something fun- do you want to come and get it with me?"

Tobin nodded immediately, grabbing Allie's hand and following the other woman back down the stairs to where she had left her bag. 

"What's in it?"

"That's a surprise," said Allie as she held the bag in one hand and steadied Tobin with the other. "But it's gonna be really fun! Do you have some art clothes that you can change into?"

Tobin showed Allie where Mommy got the clothes she dressed little Tobin in- a blue dresser with stars painted on it- and Allie dug around until she found a pair of appropriately grungy overalls, clearly stained many times over with various art supplies, and an equally stained shirt. 

"Okay, baby," she said. "Can you let Auntie Allie help you into your art clothes?"

Tobin nodded curiously, raising her arms up and letting her friend change her out of her romper and into clothes more appropriate for the activity that Allie had planned. 

"What we doing, Auntie Allie?"

"Well," said the blonde woman, buttoning Tobin's overalls. "I was thinking we were gonna do a project!"

She plopped the bag on the table and pulled out the contents- two blank tee shirts, stencils, cardboard, and some fabric markers. Tobin's eyes widened in excitement, and her shark feet started bouncing again. 

"We gonna make shirts?"

Allie nodded, pulling her hair up into a ponytail and doing the same for Tobin's. True, it was unlikely that the girl was going to get any fabric marker on her hair, but Allie had discovered after an unpleasant incident involving little Kelley and a bottle of shaving cream that anything was possible. 

"Okay," said Allie, helping Tobin up into her chair. "What do you want our shirts to say?"

Tobin screwed up her face in concentration, swinging her feet back and forth and humming as she thought. It seemed like an arduous task, especially for a little girl, to decide what she wanted her shirt to say, and Allie was just about to help her out with some suggestions when Tobin's face lit up.

"Big Hawwy," she said, pointing to the blank shirt in front of Allie. "An' little Hawwy!" 

Allie's heart melted in her chest, and she couldn't resist reaching across the table to give her friend a hug. 

"That's perfect, sweetheart," she said. "Now, do you want Auntie to trace the letters, or do you want to try?" 

Tobin let Allie trace the letters, but she colored them in with a variety of fabric markers, making what was essentially a rainbow on both their shirts. Her face fell a little bit when she accidentally colored outside the line of the "A" on Allie's shirt, but her babysitter was quick to reassure her that it was okay, that she loved colors and didn't mind if there was a little bit of color outside the line! Besides, she added, they were going to doodle on them anyway!

By the time Tobin decided she was finished, her shirt had so many doodles that it could've been a bored middle schooler's notebook. Allie was more restrained when decorating her own, but seeing Tobin's joy at the project did inspire her to add a few extra doodles. When they heard Christen's car out front, Tobin grinned with excitement and eagerness to show Mommy what she had done! Christen barely had enough time to put the cold foods into the refrigerator when she felt a toddler hand grabbing hers, pulling her upstairs to the nursery.

"Did you have fun, baby girl?"

Christen didn't even bother trying to conceal her adoring laughter- Tobin was so excited about something, and it was so cute! She just hoped that it was a good something, not like the "flour incident" when she had foolishly thought that Sonnett would make an appropriate babysitter. As soon as she entered the nursery, Tobin's hand in hers, she couldn't stop herself from saying "awww," aloud.

The matching tee-shirts were just so precious- she could tell that Tobin had poured her toddler heart into making them, and she scooped her baby girl up for a flurry of kisses all over her cheeks and nose. 

"I love them! Did you and Auntie Allie make these, pumpkin?"

Tobin nodded, grabbing her shirt and sticking it in her Mommy's face, so close that Christen got a strong whiff of fabric markers.

"Oh my gosh," said Christen. "That's amazing! Allie, thank you so much for babysitting! Seriously, you made her entire week."

Allie smiled, blushing a little bit as she accepted little Tobin's kiss to her cheek, accomplished by stretching herself over from Mommy's arms. 

"It was no problem," she said, grabbing her own tee and putting it in her bag to take home with her. "She's a joy."

"Are you sure I can't pay you?"

Allie held up her hand, shaking her head. 

"Not a chance, Press. I'll see you soon, okay sweetie pie?"

Tobin nodded, hopping out of Christen's arms and giving her auntie a hug. 

"Otay," she said happily. "I loves you, Hawwy!"

Allie grinned as Christen led Tobin to the rocking chair and took her into her lap, beginning the long process of calming the toddler down for naptime. 

"I love you too, Harry." 

Chapter Text

Christen whimpered softly, cuddling further into the blankets as Tobin ran a cool cloth over her sweaty forehead. Her stuffie was in her arms, and her paci was in her mouth, and she was completely naked except for her pull-up, because she felt terrible. 

It was a very rare thing, for Christen to be little. Normally, it only happened when she was in extremely stressful situations, or, like now, when she was feeling very, very icky. 

"Mommy," she whimpered, using the arm not cuddling her stuffed dog to reach up towards Tobin. The older woman, who had only left her little girl's bedside to run fresh water over the cloth and to get Christen a re-fill of her ginger ale and crackers, took the sweaty hand in her own and stroked the baby's knuckles comfortingly. 

"Shh," she cooed. "Mommy's here, Christen. Mommy's gotcha."

Tobin had already brought Christen to the team doctor- she had absolutely no desire to take her little girl out into public, where they would almost certainly be recognized, which would embarrass Christen to no end. The team doctor had determined that her baby wasn't suffering from anything serious, just a nasty cold, combined with an upset tummy and exacerbated by the fact that Christen had been working her ass off for weeks on end, barely taking a minute to breathe.

Really, Tobin had been expecting a drop any day now, she just wished that it didn't have to be accompanied by sickness. 

"Feel icky, Mommy," whimpered the little one around her paci, tossing and turning and trying to get comfy. Tobin was sitting on the edge of the bed, not wanting to crowd Christen but also wishing that she could pull her little girl into her chest and rock her, maybe absorb the sickness into herself and save her little girl the misery. 

"Shh," she cooed again. "Mommy knows, Christen. But it's gonna be okay, sunshine. It's gonna be all okay, the doctor says that you're gonna feel all better in a few days. Do you want Mommy to carry you to the couch so that we can watch some cartoons?" m.

Christen nodded feebly, keeping her stuffed puppy in her arms and letting Tobin scoop her up, carrying her carefully to the sofa and switching on the television. Big Christen practically never watched TV, but Little Christen adored Dora the Explorer. Before Tobin could even get the first episode started up, though, Christen was whimpering again, sniffling and crying. 

Tobin dropped the remote and dashed back over to her baby girl's side. Christen was sobbing softly, squirming uncomfortably, little wisps of hair sticking to her sweaty forehead. 

"What is it, my baby?"

Tobin went to pull Christen onto her lap and realized immediately what it was. 

The baby always tried to make it to the potty when she had to go, but she was simply too sick and too small today to let Tobin know properly when she had to pee. Tobin's heart hurt as her little one flushed red, the humiliation of wetting her diaper almost too much for her sick little body to handle. The older woman cooed, leaving the blanket behind but making sure that Christen had her stuffie as she carried her back to their room, and the makeshift changing table. 

"It's okay, baby girl," she soothed as they walked, Christen's head buried in her neck. "Mommy knew you might need to use your diapers today. It's okay, I promise. That's why we have them, angel. In case you have to go potty."

Christen's tears coated Tobin's neck, and the older woman felt horrible when she had to set the baby down, handing her her puppy to hold onto for while she endured her diaper change. 

"Mommy loves you," cooed Tobin, trying to comfort Christen while at the same time undoing the tabs on her diaper and tossing it into the garbage can. She was glad that she hadn't needed to put Christen into any other clothes today- all they would have done was keep Christen on the changing pad longer, which wouldn't be much help to her sweet little sunshine. 

Christen whimpered miserably, crying into her puppy's soft fur and tugging on its ears, while Tobin wiped her front to back, spread some baby powder on her and then fastened the new diaper, tight enough that it wouldn't slip off but not so tight that it would cut into Christen's skin and make her even more uncomfortable. 

"There you go," said Tobin, moving Christen over to the bed and washing her hands in the on-suite. "It's all done, baby girl! Such a good little girl for Mommy, letting me get you all changed into a brand new diaper! Mommy's so proud of you, angel!" 

She ignored the snot and tears which stuck to her shoulder as she carried Christen back to the couch, grabbing the remote along the way. The little girl leaned against her Mommy, letting Tobin's closeness begin to comfort her. The older woman stroked her sticky hairline as the cartoon's theme song began playing, reaching for the abandoned wet rag and using it to wipe away the sweat. 

"There there, sweet girl," she cooed, and laughed lightly when Christen lifted one hand to poke her in the side, gripping onto her loose shirt and tugging it. 

"Shh, Mommy," she whispered, transfixed by the bright colors and simple storylines of Dora the Explorer. "Dora's on."

Tobin shook her head fondly, turning her head to give her baby a kiss on the top of her hair. 

As the day went on, Tobin could see Christen getting a little bit better. Her tummy still felt icky and upset, but she opened her mouth like a baby bird and allowed Tobin to feed her a few saltine crackers along with her next glass of ginger ale. A few little crumbs fell onto her lap, but Tobin brushed them quickly away- she would vacuum them up later, when Christen was feeling a bit better. The second diaper change went easier than the first- far fewer tears, though the baby still turned crimson when her Mommy realized she had peed in her diaper again. 

She fell asleep in Tobin's lap, dozing off to the soundtrack of The Little Mermaid, well on her way to recovery. 

Chapter Text

The kitchen floor was actually pretty comfy!

It was surprising, given that it was tile, but it didn't really hurt at all to sit on! Her diaper was probably helping with that- soft and puffy, keeping her all safe and protected. She was sitting right next to Mommy's legs, leaning against the kitchen island and sucking on her pacifier as she made her pony run across the floor, up and over the mountains (Mommy's feet!) and rejoin the herd. Every minute or two, Mommy looked down at her, just checking to make sure that she was okay, that she hadn't shoved anything in her mouth that wasn't supposed to be there, hadn't wet her diaper, hadn't somehow hurt herself without her noticing. 

"I'm almost done cutting up your fruit, baby," said Becky, peeling the skin off the kiwi and adding the slices to the bowl, which already contained clementine wedges and pear slices. "Then we can eat lunch and read a book or two before naptime!" 

Alyssa nodded, leaning against Becky's legs and nuzzling them with her cheek. Mommy was so soft... 

"Okay, baby," said Becky, putting down her knife. "Can you come and sit at the table with Mommy?"

Alyssa gripped onto the island and used it to help her rise to her feet. By the time she managed to carefully toddle over to the kitchen table, still clutching her favorite pony in her fist, Mommy had made all the trips necessary to transport their lunch from island to table. Becky grabbed her baby's hand and helped her climb into her chair. Alyssa spit out her paci into Mommy's hand obediently, watching where the older woman put it so that they could find it easily again when she was done eating lunch nums! 

Becky fastened a bib around Alyssa's neck, partially to protect her clothes from lunch debris and partially because it was just so adorable, especially when combined with the little girl's pigtails! 

"Okay," she said. "You can help yourself to as much fruit as you want, baby, just make sure you use your toothpick to get it! And Mommy will feed you your Mac 'n Cheese."

Alyssa opened her mouth for the first spoonful, making sure to get every little bit she could off the plastic spoon that Becky used to feed her. She popped her lips around the spoon as Becky removed it, reaching forwards and grabbing a toothpick, sticking it into a pear slice and chewing it slowly, savoring the taste. 

"Aww," cooed Becky. "Do you like your fruit, baby girl?"

Alyssa nodded, reaching for a slice of clementine this time. Some of the juice squirted onto her bib and her lip jutted out anxiously. Before she could apologize for getting it messy, making more work for Mommy to do later, the older woman was already patting her cheek and tapping her lower lip playfully. 

"It's okay, baby," she said, relieved at Alyssa's giggle as she pushed the lip back into place. "That's why we have bibs! So that little baby girls don't get food on their clothes!" 

The baby kicked her legs in appreciation of the statement, then opened her mouth for another spoonful of Mac 'n Cheese. While she fed Alyssa, Becky ate her own lunch (a salad, plus whatever fruit the baby left in the bowl), so they finished at the same time. Becky gathered the dishes first, putting them by the sink to wash later, then returned to where her little girl was wiggling to get down out of her chair. Getting up was no problem, but the drop back down to the ground looked like feet instead of inches to the baby. 

"Mommy," whispered Alyssa, raising her arms to be picked up and wrapping her legs around the older woman. Becky unbuttoned her bib and tossed it into the hamper, then carried Alyssa into her nursery to get her ready for naptime! 

Unlike many littles, Alyssa didn't actually mind naptime. She liked it when things were calm and quiet, and she got to snuggle up on the couch with her Mommy and listen to a story before taking a quick snooze and waking ready to continue the day! After a quick check to make sure that her diaper was clean and dry, Becky deposited her on the loveseat on the far wall of the nursery, tossing her her stuffed horse and then kneeling by the bookshelf, running her hands across the spines of the various picture books as she tried to find one that they hadn't read in the previous week for her little girl's nappytime. 

Alyssa raised her eyebrows in concern when she saw Becky only take one book off the shelf, trying her best not to sniffle or cry. Had she done something? She must have- normally, Mommy read her one less book before nappies or bedtime if she had misbehaved. But she couldn't remember what she had done! 

Becky turned around, and she hurried back to the loveseat to sit beside Alyssa when she noticed that the baby girl was holding back tears. 

"Shh," she cooed. "Baby girl, you didn't do anything wrong! You've been such a good girl for Mommy today- you're not getting punished. Mommy just has a really special book to read you once we finish this one. Does that sound good, baby girl?" 

Alyssa snuggled into Mommy's side, rubbing her stuffie against her cheek and letting the older woman's hand rubbing her head comfort her. She nodded curiously, wondering what the really special book was going to be. 'Cause she had read her all the picture books on her shelves before- she loved them all, but she wasn't sure that any of them qualified as "really special."

She listened attentively to Lily's Purple Plastic Purse, looking at the pictures and giggling at how funny Lily was! But, all the while, she was wondering what the really special book was gonna be! 

"Okay, Lissy baby," said Becky, kissing her baby on the head. "Mommy will be right back! I'm going to go grab your paci, and the special book." 

Alyssa nodded, petting her stuffie while she waited for Mommy to come back. It was only about thirty seconds before Becky returned, handing Alyssa her sunshine yellow pacifier and then pulling a thin binder with sheet protectors from behind her back. The baby popped the paci into her mouth and started suckling on it, eyes widening when she saw the sheet of paper slid into the front of the binder. 

It was a colored pencil drawing of two figures, holding hands. One of them had a pacifier in her mouth, and was leaning against the other figure. Becky had clearly drawn it herself, painstakingly attempting to make it perfect for her little girl. 

"So," said Becky, looking somewhat self-conscious as she examined her own drawings. "I made this for you, baby girl. Do you like it?"

Alyssa nodded, grinning and wrapping her arms around Becky, kissing her Mommy on the cheek and snuggling into her. She wiggled in excitement, reading the title.

The Adventures of Mommy and Her Sweet Little Lissy. 

Alyssa climbed onto Becky's lap, giggling and clapping as she looked at the pictures and listened to her amazing Mommy read to her. In this book, she and Mommy played with blocks and built a big castle, big enough for them to go inside! They rode ponies, climbed trees, made flower crowns and wore them, ate a yummy picnic on the grass, and went to bed happy and snuggly!

When the book was over, Alyssa wrapped her arms around Mommy and kissed her on both her cheeks again, patting her face. 

"T'ank you, Mommy," she cooed, snuggling closer into her. Her paci fell out of her mouth as she yawned, and Mommy laughed lightly, picking it up and putting it back into her baby girl's mouth. 

"You're welcome, sweetheart," she said. "I'm so glad you liked it."

She stood up with her baby in her arms, stroking Alyssa's hair as she carried her sleepy little girl over to her crib. She gently lowered her down, making sure that her baby girl was all cuddled up in her blankets and that the crib rails were secure so that her tiny girl couldn't accidentally roll out in her sleep. 

"Have a good nap, my angel," she said. "Mommy loves you so much."

Alyssa snuffled and cooed, reaching out her hand and squeezing her Mommy's. Becky squeezed back, flipping the baby monitor on so that she'd be able to hear when Alyssa woke up. She stole a final glance at her sweet baby before returning to the kitchen to get started on the dishes.

Chapter Text

Mal was sobbing, and Tierna was whimpering with the beginnings of guilty tears streaming down her cheeks, and it was just an entire mess. The toy which had been the subject of the argument lay forgotten on the floor, and the youngest player seemed less satisfied with her prize now that Mal had started crying, surprised and grumpy and frustrated and a little scared at the toy having been just snatched from her hands, and not given back.

The three women sitting on the couch had been watching the argument unfold, trying to give their babies time to work it out themselves before intervening. Now, they realized, looking at the chaos of two crying babies, that that might have been a mistake.

Mal was immediately scooped up into her Mama's arms, with Mommy petting her back and trying to calm her down, reassuring her that it was okay, that it was just a toy, that she didn't need to cry. Tierna remained on the carpet for a little longer, withering under her Mommy's displeased gaze. Alyssa wasn't quite glaring at her, but her face definitely didn't look happy, and the little girl knew that she was definitely in trouble, even though none a this woulda happened if Mal had just given her the stupid toy! 

As Tobin and Christen rocked Mal, her tears rapidly fading and being absorbed by Mama's shirt as she got over the initial shock of having one of her toys yanked violently out of her hands, things were about to get worse for the other little.

Tierna knew what was coming when Alyssa lifted her off the ground and set her over her lap. She tried to wriggle away, in futile hopes of avoiding her punishment, but was rewarded with a sharp, warning smack to her bottom. She whimpered, tears only worsening.   

"You're getting a spanking," said her Mommy calmly. "For taking Mal's toy away from her without asking. You know that wasn't nice, baby."

Tierna flushed red- she was so embarrassed, but she really knew that she deserved it, for stealing Mal's toy and making her friend cry! She hoped that Auntie Christen and Auntie Tobin and Mal weren't watching her, 'cause she didn't want them to see her getting a spanking. 

Alyssa brought her hand down on her baby's bottom, thankfully allowing her to keep her pants up. Tierna couldn't stop herself from wriggling, trying unconsciously to escape the swats. 

On the other side of the couch, another drama was playing out as Tierna suffered through her spanking.

Mal gasped at the sound of Tierna's tears, covering her ears at the sound of the spanks hitting her friend's butt. She buried her face back into Mama's shirt, and her tears returned, speeding up to match Tierna's as Alyssa brought her palm down for the last time, concluding the punishment. The keeper pulled her baby into her arms, rocking her back and forth, kissing her hair and giving her the comfort she needed after her spanking.

"Shh, honey," cooed Alyssa. "It's okay. It's okay, it's all over."

Tierna cried into Alyssa's neck while Mal looked, wide eyed, at them, shaking slightly while her Mommies looked at each other with concern.

"Mal? Mal, baby?"

Mal didn't respond, eyes still fixed on Tierna's tearstained, red, ashamed face. 

"Tierna," said Alyssa. "Do you have something that you want to say to Mal?"

Tierna nodded, clutching onto her Mommy's hand for support while she looked at a spot somewhere near Tobin's feet. 

"'M s-s-sorry," she whispered, hoping that her friend would forgive her. "Dat I stole your t-toyyy."

Mal, still shaking a little bit, eyes still wide at the thought of where Tierna had been just moments ago, reached her hand out and gently patted her friend's cheek, a sign of forgiveness. 

The playdate had been effectively brought to a close, and so Alyssa scooped up her still whimpering baby and bid goodbye to the couple and their little one. Tobin and Christen looked at each other in concern as they heard the door shut behind Alyssa and Tierna. Tobin held Mal tighter, trying to stop her shakes.

"Baby," said Christen, stroking Mal's cheek. "Baby girl, what's wrong?" 

Mal gave a whimper, just shaking her head back and forth, crying but trying to stop crying 'cause what if Mommy and Mama getted annoyed wif all her crying an' decided that they was gonna smack her too, an' it looked like it hurt and-

"Shh," cooed Tobin, petting Mal's hair as Christen ran to get her stuffed bunny and her paci. Her Mommies sat with her while she calmed down, patiently stroking her hair and giving her little kisses and reassuring her with their words and their mere presence that everything was going to be okay, that they had her and that she was safe with them. 

"Good baby," said Christen with a kiss to Mal's forehead. "It's okay, bunny."

Mal reached for Mommy, and soon she was spread out between her Mommies' laps, Tobin rubbing her fuzzy-socked feet while Christen cradled her against her chest, waiting for her to calm down just a little bit more before they asked too many questions about what had triggered this. 

"There we go," cooed Mommy and Mama, Christen leaning down to give Mal another forehead kiss. "That's my sweet baby girl. So good, calming down for me. Now, do you think you can tell Mommy and Mama what got you so upset? Was it Tierna stealing your toy?"

Mal shook her head- that certainly hadn't been fun, but it hadn't bothered her as much as what had come afterward. 

"You can tell Mommy and Mama anything," Tobin reminded her. "Anything at all, and we will always love you, and we will never judge you." 

Mal thought about it for a moment, but it didn't take much effort to decide that she was gonna tell Mommy and Mama- if they hadn't smacked her butt for throwing a tantrum before bed a few weeks ago that had resulted in pee all over the floor and a nearly-broken chair leg, they probably weren't gonna do it now. 

"H-How come Auntie Lyssa hitted T-Ti'na?" 

"Oh, oh," said Christen, holding Mal tighter to her chest and giving the little girl her fingers to play with. "Did that scare my precious angel a little bit?"

Mal nodded, giving a little sniffle. 

"That was a spanking, sweetheart," said Christen. "Auntie Lyssa didn't want to hurt Tierna, she was just punishing her so that she knows it isn't okay to take things from other people." 

"Do you remember," added Tobin, as Mal continued to whine anxiously. "When you pulled a little too hard on Khaleesi's tail after Mommy asked you not to? How we put you in the time-out chair for a few minutes?"

Mal nodded, blushing. That hadn't been a very good day, although the bottle of chocolate milk that Mommy had given her afterwards had made her feel a little bit better. 

"Well," continued Tobin. "Everyone has different ways of punishing their littles when they're naughty. And Auntie Lyssa spanks Tierna sometimes, when she thinks it will help her learn that what she did wasn't nice. She still loves her very much. Do you understand, sweetheart?"

Mal nodded, but one question was still eating at the back of her brain, making her lip tremble a little bit. 

"M-Mommy 'n Mama n-n-no..."

She didn't even finish the question before Christen had jumped on it, hurrying to reassure her little girl as she held her hand tightly. 

"No, sweetheart," she said. "Mommy and Mama are never gonna spank you. Never ever, we promise." 

"That's right," said Tobin. "Some Mommies spank, but we think that time out is a better punishment for our little bunny. Besides, you are far too little for spankings."

Mal wriggled in her Mommy's arms, kissing both Christen and Tobin on the cheek before pulling on Mommy's sleeve, signalling to her that she had wet her diaper. As Christen carried Mal upstairs to change her, Tobin pulled out her phone and opened the "Mommies" group chat.

Tobs: Hey, everyone! So, Mal had a bit of a fright today, and so in the future me and Chris woulld super appreciate it if you're gonna spank your little, if you'd do it away from Mal. She got a l'il scared

The responses came into the group chat, and Tobin assured all of their friends that Mal was gonna be just fine, that she was completely okay. Alyssa messaged her privately, tearfully apologizing, and after reassuring the other woman that it wasn't her fault, that there was no way she could have known, Tobin turned off her phone and went upstairs to join her girls for a nap. 

Chapter Text

"Don't worry, precious," said Ashlyn soothingly, running a hand through Emily's hair as the little girl tugged on her brand new purple jersey. Emily had ridden to practice with Ashlyn and Ali, who had picked her up from her apartment a little early so that they could stop at Dunkin' Donuts and grab something sweet for the baby. It definitely wasn't sanctioned by the trainers, but they figured that one donut wouldn't hurt the pumpkin, especially not on her first day practicing with her new club.

"Don't worry," repeated Ashlyn, helping Emily unbuckle her seatbelt and handing her her water bottle. "You're gonna be with us the whole time. It's just gonna be welcome back stuff for the first half, and then when we all split up into our positions, you'll still be with Auntie Ali."

Ali nodded, helping Emily out of the car and letting the little girl hold her hand as they walked in, Ashlyn following behind with their gear. It was clear that Emily wanted to be carried, but Ali knew that if she gave in, then it would most likely end with a whiny little one who would refuse to get out of her arms and, no matter how absolutely adorable that was, they did need to have Emily paying attention during practice. Especially on the first day. 

They joined the rest of the team in the locker room, and Emily whined when Ashlyn had to leave to go and talk to Mark- she was the captain, after all, and had to help with the welcome-backs and talk about their goals for the season. The older woman laughed gently, kissing her charge on the forehead and reassuring her that she would see her later. Ali and Emily proceeded to sit in the middle of the group, with the younger woman scrambling to sit on her Auntie's lap. She buried her head in Ali's shoulder as people continued to trickle in, suddenly shy around all the new faces. 

There was only one group that looked, if possible, more nervous than Emily. They were all clustered together, not too far away from where Ali was gently bouncing Emily, reminding her that it was all okay, that everyone was really nice, that she didn't need to be afraid. She couldn't help but wish that Alex was here- it would be nice to have someone else that Emily really trusted. 

Ali's friends approached her in twos and threes, not failing to notice the little purple blob using the defender's shoulder to hide from them. 

"And who's this?"

Ali grinned when she saw who it was- two of the Pride's new recruits, Ali Riley and Erin McLeod, had approached their friend together and were crouching down beside her. 

"Hey guys," said Ali. "This is Emily. Em, sweetie, can you say hi?" 

Emily raised her head and mumbled hello, then immediately went back to hiding in her Auntie's shoulder. Ali laughed, stroking the baby's back.

"She's feeling a little small today," she said. "Em, this is Ali and Erin. They're really nice, I promise!" 

"Don't you worry, honey," said Erin to Emily. "Everyone feels shy sometimes. I can't wait to get to know you when you're ready."

Emily picked her head up again, giving Erin and Ali a small smile and a nod, and the older women planted themselves next to the pair. Ali glanced over at a different group, all clustered and chittering quietly among themselves- the only ones as nervous as Emily. The rookies. 

Ali knew that, as one of the senior players, she should really go and introduce herself. But, just as she was bracing herself to ask Emily if she would be okay on her own for a few minutes, Mark and Ashlyn were beginning the practice by welcoming everyone back and talking about how thrilled they were to have all of the new players, both the trades and the draftees. 

Emily waved at Ashlyn, who blew the little girl a kiss, but by the time the meeting was over and it was time to head out to the field, Emily was still in littlespace. 

"Em," said Ashlyn, racing to catch up with her wife and the little girl. "Baby girl, I didn't know that this was gonna happen, but Mark wants to get to know the new players. I'm so sorry, pumpkin, I thought you'd get to stay with Auntie Ali or me the whole time. Do you think you can be a brave girl for us? I promise, one of us will come over if you really need us."

Emily nodded, trying to stop her lip from trembling- she didn't like it, not at all! She didn't know any of these people very well at all, and she didn't wanna leave Auntie Ali or Auntie Ash! She sniffled, and immediately found herself wrapped up in her Aunties' arms, each one planting kisses on her cheeks and trying their best to soothe her. 

"Baby girl," said Auntie Ali. "It's gonna be okay, we promise. You're gonna be okay, no one's gonna be mean to you. You're our friendly little Emily, and they're all gonna love you so much! Okay?"

Emily swallowed around the lump in her throat, trying to summon the courage to go over there, away from her Aunties. Ali and Ashlyn braced themselves- they weren't looking forward to having to carry Emily over there themselves, because this wasn't optional. Thankfully, their saving grace came in the form of a Canadian keeper, who patted Ashlyn on the shoulder in greeting before turning her gaze to the baby who she had only briefly met. 

"Hey, Emily," she said. "I'm heading over there too, me and Riley. Do you want to come with us?"

Emily hesitated- she didn't really wanna go anywhere, except back to her Aunties' house! That was where all her little things were, and it was so much comfier than being here, with a whole buncha people that she didn't know! But, she took a look at Ali and Ashlyn's reassuring faces, and figured that they would prob'ly be real proud of her if she was a brave girl like they askeded her to be. So. to her Aunties' relief, she nodded, reaching out and taking Erin's offered hand. 

"There you go, pumpkin," said Auntie Ashlyn reassuringly. "That's a good girl. Go with Erin and Riley, they're gonna take real good care of you."

She and Ali fixed their friends with a stare that promised death if anything happened to Emily, and then headed off to get started on drills with the rest of their teammates. 


Mark talked to the newbies, both rookies and experienced players, for quite a while. Ali tried to keep an eye on Emily but, upon seeing her sitting comfortably in between Erin and Riley, she tried to calm her brain and focus on the soccer, rather than worrying about the little girl. 

By the time the women were ready to eat their lunch, Ali and Ashlyn were both ready to have the little one back in their arms- Lindsey had trusted them to take care of her, and they were taking that job very seriously. Besides, she was just such a snuggly little thing, perfect for giving her Aunties plenty of cuddles! And, Ali thought to herself, God, Emily probably needed to use the bathroom, because she couldn't bring her pull-ups to practice, and she would need one of them to put the straw in her juice box for her, and she had to make sure that she ate all of her food because there was nothing that made Emily grumpier than not having enough to eat-

"Auntie Ali! Auntie Ash!"

Emily was racing towards them at full speed, and Ali barely had time to react before the baby slammed into her, nearly knocking her to the ground in excitement. The married couple could see Riley and Erin shaking their heads fondly, and Emily gave them an enthusiastic wave as they headed off.

"Hey, pumpkin," said Ashlyn with a laugh, accepting her own hug from the little girl. "Did you have a nice time with Erin and Riley?"

Emily nodded, grabbing onto her Aunties' hands and pulling them through the groups of women opening up their lunches. 

"C'mon," she said eagerly. "Hurry!"

Ali and Ashlyn smiled and shrugged, then dashed after Emily, letting the now-perky little girl lead them where she wanted. 

"Auntie Ali," she said, as they stopped in front of the very group that the older women had been meaning to get to all morning. "Auntie Ash, these is my new friends!" 

Emily wrapped her arms around Ashlyn's waist as she and Ali introduced themselves to the rookies, smiling at each other as if to say of course, Emily would make friends with the rookies right away. 

The presence of the veteran player in their ranks, even if said veteran player was a bouncy little girl who had been near tears earlier, seemed to make them feel more at ease. Carrie, Taylor, Courtney, Cheyenne, Abi, Phoebe, and Chelsee blushed as Ali and Ashlyn sat down with them, just a little bit starstruck. Konya, with her international experience, shook her head at her new friends and got right to eating.

By the time practice was over, and the three women were headed back to their car, Ali and Ashlyn were each holding on to one of Emily's hands, watching over a far happier little girl in the afternoon than they had been in the morning. She couldn't stop talking about how much she liked her new friends, and her Aunties sighed in relief that they would likely have someone- either one of the rookies or more likely Riley and Erin- to be able to babysit Emily if they ever needed to be somewhere while she was little. 

They knew that Emily missed her old club, her old friends, and especially her Mommy. But it seemed, they thought to themselves as they changed Emily back into a pull-up and got dinner started, that it wasn't going to be too difficult for her to carve out a place for herself here in Orlando. 

Chapter Text

"Ashlyn Michelle, you better be careful with that!" 

Ali pinched the bridge of her nose and took another long sip of her lemon iced tea as she watched her little girl wave the stick/sword around, stabbing an imaginary enemy. Nominally, she and Sue were supposed to be having a nice conversation on the Krieger-Harris deck, sipping their drinks like classy ladies of leisure while their little ones played together, but one of their heads was always up, keeping an eye on the potentially destructive combination that was Megan and Ashlyn plus imaginary weapons. 

"You too, Megan Anna," called Sue. "No one had better be going to the emergency room today!"

Neither little girl seemed to be paying much attention to their Mommies' warnings. There were monsters to be slain, after all! And they couldn't do that without their swords!  

They had wanted to wear their knight helmets, but both Ali and Sue had denied this request, knowing that their little girls would definitely overheat. They had also protested the sunscreen- it was sticky!- but even knights needed to be protected from the UV rays streaming down from the sky. 

In the little girls' minds, the tree in the backyard wasn't a tree- it was a big orange ogre, and it needed to be eliminated before they could reach the ultimate goal of their quest! 

Ali cringed at the sound of the sticks whacking against the tree- she wasn't so much worried about the well-being of the plant, but rather about one of the "swords" breaking, and a piece of wood hitting her little girl in the head. 

She heard a clicking sound from the lounge chair beside her and found Sue capturing photo after photo of their little girls, racing around joyfully in the backyard. They had been so cooped up lately, it was a breath of fresh air both literally and metaphorically to be able to allow them to play together in the backyard. Both Mommies knew that they were probably going to have very tired little ones later. 

"Die, foul beast!"

Ashlyn stabbed her sword into the tree, and the ogre screeched as it collapsed, overwhelmed by the two brave knights. The warriors gave each other high fives, linking arms and conferring about what their next steps were going to be. 

"God," said Ali, voicing what both she and Sue had been thinking. "I'm so glad they can entertain each other for a little while. I was running out of games to play that wouldn't bore her to tears."

"And out of energy," said Sue, nodding in agreement. "They both have so much of it, and I swear I was going to collapse if Megan asked me to race her one more time." 

Ashlyn and Megan surveyed the backyard, keeping an eye out for any more enemies. They didn't see any yet, but they were sure that they were coming! What they did see, however, was two horses, playing tug of war with a rope bone. 

"C'mon," said Ashlyn, taking Megan's hand in the one not holding her sword and pulling her along towards where Storm and Logan were chasing each other around. So, these were going to be wild horses, were they? They had to catch them, so they could ride them into battle! 

"I swear," said Sue. "We need to get these two together with Cash. He's the only child I've ever met who has as much energy as the two of them."

Ali nodded in agreement, silently hoping that that playdate wouldn't happen at her house. She didn't really feel like replacing half of her belongings due to the destruction that would occur if Megan and Ashlyn played with Cassius while they were little. 

"Stormy, drop!" 

The Mommies looked up, and Ali put her forehead in her hands. Ashlyn's sword had been snatched out of her hands by the younger dog, who was wagging her tail happily as she bounced around, playing a game of keep-away. Megan was laughing hysterically as her fellow knight tried to get her sword back, her pull-up making it a little bit harder for her to race after the puppy.

"Drop!"

Storm stopped on the opposite side of the yard for just long enough to let Ashlyn catch up to her and snatch the stick back. It was covered in dog drool, and the little girl wrinkled her nose and wiped it on the grass, sticking her tongue out at the puppy. 

"Ash, baby," called Ali. "Leave the dogs alone!" 

"But Mommy," called Ashlyn, sticking out her lower lip in an adorable pout that almost made Ali want to give in. "Knights need ponies!" 

"Well," said Ali as Logan raced over, seeking refuge on the porch beside her before the littles could come after her. "You two are knights who walk!"

Ashlyn looked like she was about to argue, but then Megan whispered something into her ear and she grinned, nodding. Ali took another sip of her iced tea, sighing contentedly. It was such a gorgeous day, and her little girl had her best friend back, and-

"Yaaaaahhhhhhh!" 

Two little pairs of feet trampled up onto the deck, waving their swords. She set down her tea just in time to avoid spilling it as the two little knights jumped onto her, whacking at her with their sticks.

"It's the evil dragon!!"

Ali would have laughed- now she knew what Megan had whispered into Ashlyn's ear to make her cheer up so quickly after being told that she was not allowed to use the dogs as ponies- but she was too busy covering her head, guarding against the girls' attack while Sue broke out into peals of laughter, scooting her chair away from Ali's to avoid accidentally being hit. 

So, she was the dragon, was she?

"Roar!"

She managed to stand up and catch Ashlyn, pulling the squealing little girl into her arms and pressing kisses to her cheeks and hair. Ashlyn flailed, trying to escape the dragon's mushy clutches- she was a brave knight, and brave knights didn't let dragons kiss them! 

"I'll save you!"

Megan (thankfully) abandoned her stick and chose to jump onto Ali's back instead, but didn't seem to have much of a plan beyond that to rescue Ashlyn. Ali used the arm not holding Ashlyn to tickle Megan's side, causing the little girl to giggle wildly and drop back down onto the porch. Rethinking her strategy, she raced around and grabbed Ali's hands, managing to force her to let go of her friend. All the while, Ali could hear Sue snapping picture after picture, and knew that she was going to be the hit of the Mommies group chat later today. 

With Megan's help, Ashlyn finally managed to wriggle free, and then Ali had both little girls coming after her, giggling wildly. 

"Kill the dragon!"

Theatrically, Ali clasped her hand to her chest and fell backwards onto the floor, making choking noises as she "died." Logan looked vaguely concerned, and Storm gave her a kiss across the face- yes, the puppy seemed to be thinking. Get her while she's vulnerable!

Ashlyn poked Ali gently with her stick, making sure the dragon was defeated. Meanwhile, Megan was toddling over to where Sue sat, still laughing, and kissed her hand.

"We saved the princess!"

Sue grinned, pulling her little knight into her lap and planting kisses all over her hair. 

"Thank you, good knight, for rescuing me from Auntie Ali, the fearsome dragon!" 

Ali shifted, beginning to sit up, and felt her own little girl climb into her lap, nuzzling her face with her nose. 

"So," she said, scratching Storm behind the ear with one arm and wrapping the other around Ashlyn. "Is Megan gonna marry the princess?"

Ashlyn nodded knowingly.

"Uh-huh! And I is gonna cuddle the dragon!"

Ali grinned, picking her baby up and moving them back to the lounge chair which thankfully had gone undamaged during the great battle. Ashlyn cuddled into her chest, sweaty and sticky but so cute. 

"Really? I thought dragons were knights' worst enemies!"

Ashlyn rolled her eyes, sharing a look with Megan that seemed to say "don't Mommies know anything?"

"Not anymore," she said. "We defeated you, so know Mommy is a good dragon!"

"Oh, how silly of Mommy," laughed Ali, holding Ashlyn closer and reaching for the little girl's juice box, feeling so grateful for her little family. 

Chapter Text

Mal's wails split the air as she clutched her nose in both hands, feeling the blood coat her fingers. Sam had come toddling over to Mal as quickly as she could, and was now sitting down beside her, frantically patting her head in an effort to get her to stop crying before... before...

"What's going on?!" 

Christen and Tobin, who had just turned away for a minute to talk to the front desk about getting a third key for their room- Mal needed one of her own, just in case!- raced over to the scene. Tobin scooped her baby up into her arms, giving a sharp gasp at the sight of the little bit of blood seeping through Mal's fingers, which still covered her nose as she cried out in pain. Hearing the crying coming from the hotel lobby, the other caregivers weren't far behind. Abby, Lindsey, and Alex went to stand beside Sam, Emily and Kelley, quickly checking to make sure that none of them were hurt at all as Christen and Tobin tended to their little one.

"Mal, baby girl," said Christen gently, using one of her hands to start trying to force her baby's off of her nose. "I need you to move your hands so Mama and I can take a look at your nose." 

Lindsey wrapped her hand around Emily's wrist to stop her own little from sneaking backwards out of the room- judging by the guilty expression on her face, she assumed that this had something to do with her, and they weren't going anywhere until they found out what had caused Mal to be wailing on the floor with a bloody nose. The other Mommies followed suit, noticing as well that their littles looked a bit... squirmy. 

"Shh, bunny," cooed Christen, as Mal sniffled painfully. "It's okay, it's gonna be okay." 

She touched Mal's nose gently and breathed a sigh of relief when the little girl didn't immediately wail out in pain. 

"See, angel? It's not broken! It's just a bit bloody."

She pulled off her own sweatshirt and handed it to Tobin, having her hold it gently to Mal's nose to catch the blood while their little girl continued whimpering. Then, she turned around to survey the three guilty faces in front of her, all of whom were looking noticeably more uncomfortable now that she was looking at them. 

"What happened?"

Christen still had one hand on Baby Mal's foot, rubbing it gently, but if she could have crossed her arms, she absolutely would have. Her eyebrows were raised, and the three suspects withered under her displeased gaze. 

None of them said a word, all looking back and forth between each other and their own Mommies, who were all wearing similar (if less intense) looks of disapproval to Christen. 

"Okay," said Lindsey, looking down at Emily. "Honey, we know that you guys saw what happened. Tell Auntie Christen what happened."

Abby and Alex nodded in agreement, and Christen looked back and forth from face to face while Tobin continued to rock Mal gently, cooing comforting words to her. 

Sam was the first to crack. 

"S-She hitted the door," the little girl whispered, clutching her Mommy's hand tighter. "She was runnin' at it an' hit it."

Looking over at the automatic doors, Christen could just see a spot of blood, which must've been where Mal's nose made contact. She didn't understand, though, why Mal had been running right at the door. Her little girl barely ever ran, much less in the reckless manner which must have led to her crashing face-first into it.

"Do any of you," she continued. "Know why she was running right at the door?"

She looked at Sam first again, but the tall girl had started to cry, burying her face in Abby's chest. Eyebrows still raised, Christen turned to Kelley and Emily. 

"Well?"

"Sh-She," whimpered Kelley, sniffling as her friend gave her a piercing look. "W-We-"

And then Kelley was crying too, sliding down to the floor to clutch onto Alex's legs as she screeched, entering what the Mommy group chat had dubbed "full meltdown mode." 

That left one. 

"Emily?" 

The blonde little tried to hide behind her Mommy, but Lindsey still had a hold on her wrist, preventing her from escaping. 

"Um," she whispered, and then said something into her Mommy's ear that caused Lindsey to rub her temples and give her baby a look that promised that they would be talking more about this later.

"Emily says," she said. "That they told Mal that, no matter how fast you run at an automatic door, it'll always open fast enough for you to run through it."

"Wonderful," said Christen, accepting the baby into her arms from Tobin, who kept a hold on Mal's bloody hand. 

"And, did any of you three happen to know that that wasn't true?" 

Christen got two nods (Kelley was now throwing a complete tantrum on the floor, still clutching Alex's legs while lying on her back and kicking at a lobby chair), and she shook her head.

"God," she said. "Tobs, let's take Mal upstairs and get some ice on that nose. As for you three, I hope you think about this a little bit."

"Oh," said Lindsey, looking down at her shamefaced little. "We're going to be having a very extensive talk about how we treat our friends, Emily Ann."

Emily whimpered at the use of her full name as Abby nodded in agreement. 

"You too, Samantha," she said. "That was not okay, and you will be apologizing to Mal as soon as she's feeling a bit better." 

Alex finally managed to detach Kelley from her leg and scooped the wailing girl up into her arms. 

"I'm so sorry, guys," she said to Christen, Tobin, and Mal as they made their way back up to their room to tend to their baby girl. 


One ice pack and a warm bottle later, Christen and Tobin had their little Mal feeling a lot better than she had been twenty minutes ago. She was all cozy under a blanket, tucked in between Mommy and Mama, with a fresh new diaper and her stuffie. 

"Pumpkin," said Tobin, once they'd gotten her all settled. "Can we have a little talk with you?"

Mal immediately tensed up, whimpering. She was pretty sure that Kelley, Emily and Sam were all having "talks" with their Mommies right about now, and she didn't want any part of that, thank you!

"Oh, no," soothed Mama. "Not that kind of talk, baby bunny. You're not in trouble, Mal, Mama promises."

That made Mal feel a little better- Mama had never ever ever lied to her, especially not after she said the word 'promise.' So, letting herself relax back into Mommy's arms, she listened for what Mama and Mommy had to say, suckling on her paci. 

"Princess," said Christen, petting Mal's hair. "Your Mama and I want to talk about when we should and shouldn't trust people, okay? We know that you're a very sweet and kind little girl-" Mal giggled happily at that, using her stuffie to pat Mama's cheek. "-but sometimes you believe people when they tell you things that aren't true. Like today."

Mal's nose twinged, reminding her of how true that statement was. 

"Exactly," Mama continued. "Baby girl, did you get an icky feeling in your tummy or chest when Sammy, Em and Kelley told you that the door would open and encouraged you to run at it?"

Mal wracked her brains, chewing thoughtfully on her paci. Now that Mama mentioned it, she had! She had mistaken the knot in her tummy for the feeling she sometimes got when she needed to potty, but maybe it hadn't quite been that. 

"Okay," said Mama, kissing her on the hair. "Do you wanna know what Mommy and I think?"

Mal nodded- she always wanted to know what Mommy and Mama thought! They knew everything, at least everything that a little baby like her could ever possibly ask about!

"We think," said Mommy. "That that was you telling yourself that maybe your friends weren't telling the truth. Mommy and Mama will never lie to our precious baby Mal, but that doesn't mean that other people won't sometimes. Do you understand?"

Mal nodded slowly- she was pretty sure she did. It made her sniffle a little bit, though, that there were people who lied. She didn't like lying! 

"That's my smart little bunny," cooed Christen. "Such a smart baby girl! Now, do you think that you can try and do something for Mama and me?" 

Mal nodded again, quickly this time. She didn't even need to think about it- she'd do anything for Mommy and Mama! 

"Next time you get that little tummy knot," she said. "I want you to listen to it, okay? If someone is telling you something that you think might not be true, or might be dangerous, I want you to come and find me or Mama, or one of your aunties, and ask us about it. Does that sound good?"

Mal nodded- that sounded really good!! She was pretty sure she could definitely do that!

"Good baby," said Christen, snuggling Mal up and making sure she was still all cuddled in between her and Mama. "That's our precious angel."


That evening, there was a tap on the door. Christen opened it to reveal three shamefaced and thoroughly chastised littles, one of whom had a sore butt, one who had lost all dessert privileges for the next week, and a third who not be hearing any bedtime stories for quite a few days. One by one, they whispered their apologies to their friend, who toddled over and pulled them all in for a big hug, making sure to keep her nose out of the way!

Chapter Text

"Awww," said Christen, doing up the last button on Kelley's onesie and tapping the little girl on her nose. "Look at my little Kelley! You look so cute!"

Kelley giggled, wiggling around on the floor and listening to her diaper crinkle. She reached her hands up towards her friend, sticking out her tongue and smacking her lips. 

"Uppies?"

Christen nodded, scooping Kelley up into her arms and carrying her towards her room. Earlier, she had set up the baby's crib, by attaching portable rails to her regular bed, making sure that she would be all protected during the night! The younger woman bounced the baby as she walked with her towards the bed, depositing her on the pillows and taking a second to watch her roll around, legs kicking in the air as the grabbed one of her stuffies. She pulled her teddy's ear into her mouth, and Christen shook her head fondly and hurried back to the kitchen to get Kelley's nighttime bottle.

College was stressful, and even more so for student-athletes trying to maintain their grades while also playing top-level sports. There was so much pressure from all sides, and so Kelley had turned to Christen to make it a little bit easier for her. 

Christen popped the nipple onto the bottle, fondly examining the finger paintings hanging up on the fridge from one of Kelley's "little days." Most of them were signed in a messy little scrawl- "To Chrissy love Kelley!"

The younger woman loved being Kelley's "Chrissy"- the way that the little girl trusted her to care for her always made her heart melt. It was exhausting sometimes, but it was all worth it for moments like this. Christen made sure that the bottle was warm- not too hot!- and made her way back to Kelley's room. The little girl was playing with her teddy, still chewing on the fluffy ear, and Christen knew that she would have to get her paci for her after she'd had her bottle.

"Can Chrissy join you?"

Kelley babbled and nodded at Christen's question, scooting over to make a spot for her caretaker to climb over the rails and plop down next to her. She opened her arms, and Kelley crawled happily into them, leaning against her shoulder. She opened her mouth like a little guppy, smacking her lips as she awaited her warm bottle. Christen popped it gently into her mouth, cradling Kelley and letting the baby drink at her own pace. At one point, Kelley drank a little bit too fast, and some milk dripped out of her mouth and down her chin. Christen wiped it away with the burp cloth.

"Slow down, baby," she said. "Chrissy has to do laundry, so there's no more clean jammies."

She wasn't sure if Kelley really understood, but she did notice that the little girl started drinking a bit slower after that. 

When the bottle was gone, Christen held Kelley against her shoulder and patted her back gently until she let out a little burp, immediately flushing red and hiding her face in her friend's neck while Christen ruffled her hair adoringly. 

"So, Miss Kelley," said the younger woman as the baby wriggled around on the bed, getting comfy. "Do you want to read a bedtime story?"

Kelley nodded quickly, pointing towards the level of her bookshelf which contained all her little books. Christen got up and grabbed one at random, then pulled Kelley close to her side, handing the baby her paci so that she could start reading "Are You My Mother?"

Kelley laughed along with the book as the baby bird went around, trying to find his mother. She giggled as Christen did different voices for all the characters, and clapped when the little bird finally found his Mommy! 

Christen looked adoringly at her friend, kissing her soft hair (100 strokes after bathtime!) and quickly checking her diaper. The milk had made its way through Kelley's system, it appeared, and so Christen lifted the sleepy baby out of her crib and carried her over to their changing table. 

"Shh, baby," she cooed as Kelley whined, annoyed at being pulled away from her snuggly blankies for something as silly as a diaper change. Christen handed her her stuffie to hold while she changed her, and gave Kelley a kiss on the forehead before grabbing a new diaper and getting to work. 

Kelley was clearly getting very sleepy, and would probably be out like a light in a few minutes, judging by the way she was rubbing the soft fur of her stuffie against groggy eyes. She gave a big yawn as Christen undid the tabs on the old diaper, quickly replacing it with a new one and sprinkling some powder to keep it nice and comfy, to make sure that no nasty rash ever managed to get a foothold.

She used the straps to make sure Kelley stayed on the table while she raced to wash her hands in the bathroom sink. Kelley whined sleepily- she hated the straps, because they meant that she couldn't wiggle (even though she was much too sleepy to be doing any sort of wiggling right now). Christen always hated leaving Kelley alone in a room while the girl was little, but she also didn't want to pick up the little girl with icky hands! 

"I'm back, sweetheart," she cooed, unbuckling the straps and scooping Kelley up into her arms. The little girl snuffled happily, burrowing into her shoulder. 

"Let's get you into bed, Kelley bear," she said, carrying the girl over and depositing her back in the crib. She almost missed the whispers which came from the baby's mouth as she drifted off to sleep, almost immediately after her head hit the pillow.

"Nigh' Mommy."

Christen froze in the doorway. Had she really just heard that? Kelley had never called her Mommy before- she had always been 'Chrissy.' She had never even really imagined the baby calling her that before, and she was almost tempted to turn the light back on and ask Kelley if she had really just heard that. But then she heard light little snuffles, muffled by the paci in the little girl's mouth, and went to get herself ready for bed instead.

As she lay in her own bed, baby monitor turned up so that she'd be able to hear Kelley if anything woke the baby in the middle of the night, Christen strung the word through her mind again and again. 

Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. 

She was fairly certain now that that was what Kelley said, and she couldn't deny that it gave her a fuzzy, warm feeling in her chest, a kind that being called "Chrissy" just didn't quite give her. She drifted off to sleep still thinking about it, wondering if she should bring it up with Kelley in the morning. 

Thankfully, she didn't have to decide. 

Kelley woke up big. Christen could tell because the older woman let her sleep in, rather than waking her with babbling and, if she didn't get there quick enough, crying via the baby monitor. When the striker dragged herself out of bed, she found her teammate making coffee in the kitchen. Kelley shuffled her feet awkwardly when Christen came in, and the younger woman sat silently down at the table until Kelley plopped a mug down in front of her. 

"Um," said the older woman nervously, after she had taken a sip of her coffee. "Did- last night, did... did I..." 

She trailed off, blushing furiously. Christen was fairly certain that she knew what Kelley was talking about, and so she just answered the question, saving her teammate from the awkwardness of having to say it out loud if she didn't want to. 

"Yeah," she said. "You did."

Kelley blushed furiously, immediately beginning to stammer out an apology.

"I... Oh, fuck, Chris, I'm so sorry, I was so groggy and I didn't even realize-"

Christen held up a hand, snapping her fingers once to get Kelley's attention. The older girl stopped right in the middle of her sentence, looking nervously at her teammate. 

"Kell, baby," said Christen with a smile. "It's okay, I promise. I promise, I'm not upset at all. In fact, I... I liked it a lot," she said, her own blush beginning to form as she admitted it. 

"Really?"

Kelley's eyes were wide with shock- she had thought Christen would be upset, she had never ever called her Mommy before, they hadn't even talked about it, and to just spring it on her like that, even if it was an accident 'cause Kelley had been imagining it for a long time...

"Really," said Christen. "You can call me Mommy from now on. If that's something you want," she added hurriedly. 

Kelley nodded frantically, leaving her coffee and racing around the table to throw herself into Christen's arms. 

"Yes p'ease, Mommy!"

Christen laughed, kissing Kelley on the top of her head. 

"Okay then, sweetheart. Mommy it is."

Chapter Text

"I's gonna go change my diaper, Mommy," whispered Megan as she got up from the floor, momentarily abandoning the puzzle that she and Sue had been working on. Sue sighed- she had been trying for weeks to get Megan to let her change her diapers, but to no avail. 

Still, one more attempt couldn't hurt.

"Megan, baby," she cooed. "Are you sure you don't want to let Mommy change you?" 

Megan shook her head emphatically- ever since she and Sue had decided that she needed to wear diapers while she was little, she had absolutely refused to let the other woman change them, insisting on doing it herself. Sue hadn't pushed the issue- she had objected at first, but that had led to several extreme tantrums from Megan and, frankly, she wasn't sure her baby could handle crying that much every time she needed a diaper change. 

"Okay, love," she said. "Just remember, call for Mommy if you need me."

Megan nodded as she toddled down the hallway, Sue staring worriedly after her. She still didn't like this very much- Megan was her responsibility, and she felt that she really should be the one doing this, especially since her girlfriend was so little. But, ultimately, her job was to keep Megan safe and happy, and as long as changing her own diapers made her feel comfortable and wasn't hazardous to her health, there was little that Sue really had to complain about. 

But, were her eyes just tired from the puzzle pieces, or was Megan walking a little bit more bowlegged than usual? She was pretty sure she was- every step was taken gingerly, and the baby let out a little gasp after one step. Megan looked back at Sue, then toddled faster towards their room, shutting the door firmly behind her. 

Sue sat on the carpet, running the puzzle pieces absently through her hands and wondering how the same puzzle could be so fascinating to her little girl day after day, until she heard the undeniable sound of muffled tears from behind the closed bedroom door. She hopped to her feet and dashed down the hallway, hoping that Megan had neglected, in her little state, to lock the door behind her.

Thankfully, she had, and so Sue threw it open and raced inside, scanning the room for her distressed baby girl. Quickly, she spotted a head of hair sticking out from behind the dresser where they kept most of Megan's little things, and when she hurried over she saw her little girl, hiding and crying into her stuffie. The new diaper she had tried to put onto herself had slipped down, revealing a nasty red rash which looked incredibly uncomfortable and was no doubt the source of Megan's tears. 

The baby wailed pitifully when she noticed that her Mommy had found her hiding spot and tried to disappear into the wall, hoping that if she didn't look at Mommy, she would just go away and wait until Megan came back with a fresh diaper, no matter how long that ended up being. Unfortunately for her, this attempt at camouflage was unsuccessful, and Sue knelt down next to her, tentatively reaching out a gentle hand to try and coax Megan out from behind the furniture and into her arms so that she could figure out what had happened here. 

"Baby girl," she cooed. "Come on, come to Mommy. That looks like it hurts, angel, come here and let Mommy hold you." 

Megan shook her head emphatically, whimpering in pain and embarrassment at the situation she found herself in. Ever since they'd realized that she got little enough to need diapers (around a month ago), she'd been changing them herself, but this time it had really hurt and she didn't know why!! She knew it was 'cause of the redness that she could only kinda see when she turned around, but she had no idea why it had appeared! Part of her really wanted Mommy to fix it, to be able to crawl into Sue's arms and just let Mommy figure out what was wrong and how to make it feel better, but the other part was screaming at her to stay put! It would be too embarrassing to have Mommy change her! She could do it herself! 

While she was debating with herself, Sue took advantage of her distraction and managed to wrap her strong arms around Megan's middle and began to pull her out from behind the furniture. When she realized what was happening, Megan wailed louder and began to struggle, but that battle was short-lived as Mommy dragged her and her stuffie out, not looking forward to what was coming next. Sue had interacted with babies before- she knew diaper rash when she saw it, and she wanted to kick herself. She had known, in the deepest pit of her stomach, that it was a mistake to let Megan change her own diapers. It had just been so hard- the one time she had done it, Megan had fought her like a little demon, screaming the entire time. It had hurt Sue's body, and her heart. 

But that was no excuse- letting Megan change her own diapers when she was clearly far too little to do it properly was going to end, and it was going to end now. 

"Megan," cooed Sue, getting the little one settled in her arms as comfortably as possible. "Baby girl, shh. It's gonna be okay, it's all okay, Mommy's gotcha. Come here, lay down on Mommy's chest."

She held Megan close to her, making sure that the little girl's rash wasn't rubbing against anything that might irritate it further. She stroked the baby's hair as she wailed, just rocking her back and forth and letting her cry out all the ouchies and embarrassment. 

"Shh, baby," she soothed. "Mommy's here, you're safe with Mommy."

It took a few minutes for Megan to cry herself out on Sue's chest, soaking both her Mommy and her stuffie with her tears. Once the sobs had been reduced to little hiccups and pained whimpers, Sue decided that it was safe to gently lower Megan down to the carpet, making sure she stayed lying on her tummy, and race over to the top drawer of the dresser. In one of the sections, she had stored the supplies that she knew Megan would need to keep herself comfy if she was using diapers- namely, the baby powder and the rash cream. 

Grabbing the latter, she came back over to where her baby was sniffling and pulled her back into her lap. 

"Megan," she said. "Mommy's gonna put some cream on you to help that icky rash go away. It might be a little cold, but I need you to bear with me, okay?"

"Otay," sniffled Megan, clutching onto one of the very few remaining dry spots on her stuffie. 

Even though the cream was cold, the baby couldn't deny that it felt very very good against her rash, and she sighed in relief as her Mommy rubbed in a nice even layer. Sue went and washed her hands, then came back to the bedroom, dreading the next part of the conversation that she knew they needed to have. 

"Megan, pumpkin," she said, looking her little girl in the eye after giving her a kiss on the forehead. "I need you to listen to Mommy for a minute, okay?"

Megan nodded- she was all done cryin', so she was pretty sure she could put her listening ears on! But, the way that Mommy was looking at her made her think that she might not like this conversation very much...

Her suspicions were proven correct when Sue began talking, and Megan was pretty sure she wanted to melt through the floor and live in the floorboards and be the lava floor that people didn't wanna step on, just so she could avoid this. 

"Baby girl," she said, calmly and seriously but still lovingly. "Today made it pretty clear to Mommy that we need to switch our routine a little bit. I know that you think you're big enough to change your own diapers-"

Megan nodded proudly at that- she was definitely big enough to change herself! Even if she messed the tabs up sometimes, and had no idea what that white powder in the top drawer was for. 

"-but, baby girl, I'm not sure you are."

"B-But," whined Megan, ready to burst into another crying fit. "I-I gotta be! I is big 'nuff!"

"No, baby," said Sue. "I know you're stubborn, and independent, and you can still be independent, but not on this. You're my tiny baby girl. And Mommy is going to change your diapers from now on."

"N-Nooooooo," wailed Megan, squirming in Sue's lap, trying to break free of the loving arms cradling her close, trying to bring her some comfort during this unpleasant situation. As she did, her rash brushed against the rough denim of her Mommy's jeans and she whimpered in pain.

"See what I mean, baby girl? I know you don't like it, but this isn't a discussion. You are too small to change your own diapers, and so Mommy is going to do it." 

Megan shook her head back and forth so quickly that Sue was afraid she'd give herself whiplash.

"N-Nooo," she whined again. "Mommy no change! 'S icky!"

Sue held her tighter, stroking her hair and shushing her softly.

"Oh, my darling," she cooed. "Is that what you're worried about? That Mommy will think you're gross?"

Megan nodded, ashamed, burying her face in Sue's shoulder. 

"Oh, baby," cooed Sue, pit in her stomach widening at the idea that Megan thought she would judge her for this, even a little bit. "No, no! Not at all, baby girl! Never, never! Mommy will never think that you're gross, Megan! You're my sweet, precious, amazing little girl! Mommy will be happy to change your diapers, angel. Mommy will make sure that you're all clean and powdered up so that we don't get any more yucky rashes!" 

"R-Really?"

Megan looked up at Sue with watery eyes, mouth hanging slightly open. She was awed- she had never even considered that this was a possibility. She had been developing the rash for a couple of days now, but today it had just gotten too painful to hide. It hurted, all because she was too little to change her own stupid diapers properly! But now, Mommy was saying that she was willing to help her?! She hadn't thought that that was something Mommy would be willing to do...

"Really, pumpkin," cooed Mommy, rocking her in her arms and wafting cool air over the cream, soothing the rash even further.

Megan looked up at Sue like she hung the moon. She reached up and patted her Mommy's face, still embarrassed but willing to give it a try. 

And, mostly, glad that she'd never have to try and work those stupid tabs ever again!

Chapter Text

Hello, my lovelies! I'm headed off to camp until the afternoon of June 30! If you guys have any requests before then, especially about the first few days of the challenge cup, please leave them in the comments!!!! Do the same with the smut shots!!!

~summer

Chapter Text

If Mal had to pick how she was feeling about her injury, it would be an extremely close call between disappointed and relieved. 

The reasons for disappointment were obvious- she wasn't gonna be able to play! She was gonna have to wait and recover, and by then the whole tournament would be over, and she wouldn't get to be part of any of it! And that really stunk (as Auntie Ashlyn had said during a Zoom after Mommy had glared at her for using another 's' word around the baby).

Mal was also relieved, though, because now she didn't have to go near a whole bunch of people. Because people might be sick and, while she had been looking forward to getting back out onto the pitch, the pitch did also mean that she would need to be way closer to a whole lot of them than she had been to anybody except Mommy and Mama for a long time. She had been nervous about it, and Mommy and Mama had been really nervous about it, and so there was a not-so-small part of her that was happy that she didn't have to go to Utah, that she could stay in Portland with her Mommies and let them look after her while she got all better!

The sound of the door opening made Mal look up from her spot on the couch, where she was curled up next to Mama while the older woman read her a story about a caterpillar who ate way more than his tummy could fit. She felt bad for the caterpillar, 'cause she figured that he must not have a Mommy and Mama to tell him when to stop eating so that he didn't get a bellyache.   

"Hello, my bunny!" 

Mommy breezed through the door with her reusable grocery bags, taking care to wash her hands for the full time, and to stow her face mask properly before racing over and scooping her little girl up into her strong arms. Mal giggled happily, cuddling close to Mommy's chest and patting her cheek gently. Christen's eyes went cartoonishly wide as she grinned, planting kisses all over her baby's face.

Mal's giggles continued, so amused was she by the way Mommy's eyes seemed to be bugging out of her head as she gave her all the kisses! 

"Were you a good baby girl for Mama?"

Mal nodded matter-of-factly, suckling on her paci and wiggling in excitement about having her whole family together again, even if Mommy had only been gone for less than two hours. She made contented cooing noises that must have made sense to her, but that Christen and Tobin could only vaguely understand, estimating that (unless Mal was crying or sounded distressed) were just meant to convey her general happiness.

"Yay, baby! What did you and Mama do while I was out getting us foods?"

Mal giggled excitedly- she couldn't wait to show Mommy what she and Mama had made!!

She was too little to really talk, but she threw her arm out and pointed towards the wall near the window, where a shapeless blob of color on an 8x11 sheet of paper hung up beside several others like it, as well as Tobin's latest art project, on which she seemed to have made a little bit of progress. Just a bit, though. Most of her time had been spent keeping a very close eye on her little baby Mal, making sure that no paint got where paint shouldn't be.

Christen picked Mal up and walked over with her to go admire them, giving Tobin a quick, chaste kiss. 

"Did somebody paint with Mama?"

Mal's happy response was to point a finger towards the very blobbiest of the masses of color, showing Christen which painting was hers! The older woman carried her closer to it, examining the splotches and drips of color. It seemed like Tobin had let Mal borrow some of her paints, probably just because the little girl had wanted to do what Mama was doing, but there were traces of Mal's own non-toxic watercolors mixed in.  

"We had a good time, didn't we, baby girl?"

Mal nodded again, reaching over towards an approaching Tobin with one arm while keeping the other wrapped around Christen. 

"I already put her clothes in the laundry," said Tobin, as Christen covertly examined the room for any obvious paint stains while also praising Mal's paintings. The younger woman nodded and thanked her girlfriend, then returned her attention to the baby in their arms, who was babbling nonsensically, a little bit of drool coming out of the corner of her mouth as she sucked on her paci. 

"Hey, Tobs," said Christen, pulling the baby firmly back against her so that she didn't fall out of their arms when they moved. "Would you mind helping me put away the groceries? I've got frozens."

Tobin nodded in agreement, giving Mal a light tap on her little nose and making the baby giggle. 

"Just let me grab her playpen first."

Christen carried the happy little baby to the spacious kitchen while Tobin rushed to grab the playpen from the den. She picked it up, making sure not to forget a comfy mat so that Mal wouldn't have to lie on the cold kitchen floor, before hauling it, quickly but carefully, to the room where her girlfriend stood with their little, waiting for her. 

"Okay, pumpkin," said Christen, lowering Mal gently down onto the mat. "You can play in here while Mama and I put away the food, and then it'll be time for nappies!" 

Mal stuck out her lower lip- Mommy had just gotten back from shopping, she had barely seen her in the past two hours! Surely it couldn't be naptime yet! 

Dismissing the pout with a fond head shake, Christen and Tobin got to work emptying the grocery bags into the fridge and cupboards, making doubly sure that all of Mal's formula and baby foods had made it inside. The baby girl's food went into a special drawer, so that they never had to look for it and could get their little pumpkin everything she needed as soon as they could. Meanwhile, Mal occupied herself with the playpen.

It had been a joint gift from Rose, Emily, Sam and Lindsey for the baby's last birthday, and it was pretty much the Ferrari of playpens, enough to make any other little extremely jealous. Rather than just being a 'holding cell' for the baby until her Mommies were done with their task, this playpen had gadgets which could keep Mal entertained for hours. There were plastic balls with beads inside them built into one of the walls, which made a swishy noise when the baby batted at them, spinning them and giggling as she watched the different colors flash by. There was a mobile hanging from one of the sides, arched over like a fishing pole so that Mal could watch it spin around if she chose to lie down on her back. Various fabrics of different textures coated the sides, and there were different shaped buttons that made funny noises. Three sides had the fun things on them, but one side was still bars, so that Mommy and Mama could keep an eye on their baby girl while putting away groceries. 

Mal immediately went down onto her back, looking up at the soft, cute mobile. It traveled around in its orbit, stuffed stars and moons and rainbows flying above the baby's head when the button was pressed, and she reached up to run her fingers across the soft fabric as they went by, gurgling happily while her other hand went down to play with her own toes. They had shiny nail polish on them, and it was very fascinating! 

It took Christen and Tobin double the amount of time it normally would have to put away the groceries, because they kept pausing to smile down at their precious baby girl, watching her mobile go round and round. Finally, the last item was shut in the cupboard, and it was high time to put their tiny baby girl down for her nap. 

They decided to leave the playpen be- they would need it if they didn't manage to get dinner cooked while Mal was napping- and Tobin scooped the baby out of her pen, stroking her hair gently as she carried her upstairs, ignoring the drool that was beginning to coat her shoulder.

The older woman deposited a slightly less wiggly Mal onto her changing table and started stripping her out of her old diaper while Christen took the spit rag and wiped the drool off her baby's face, smiling lovingly down at her. 

"Hi, baby," she cooed. "You're Mommy's sweet little princess!"

Mal babbled wordlessly in agreement, letting Mama lift her legs up and slide a new diaper underneath her. The two women always counted their lucky stars that Mal was such an easy baby, so cooperative, knowing that her Mommies knew best, that they would take care of everything she could ever need. She was their sweet, tiny baby girl, and they were so so glad that she could be with them instead of in Utah, possibly exposing herself to some nasty germs that would make it very hard for Mommy or Mama to take care of her like this. 

Not that they wouldn't risk absolutely anything for their baby girl. 

With Mal all changed, it was time for her nap. She whimpered a little bit, protesting at being sent off to sleep when Mommy had only just gotten home, but all it took to soothe her was a promise from Christen that she'd still be there when Mal woke up, that it was all gonna be okay, that she was so very loved. 

"Shh, pumpkin," cooed Christen, lowering Mal into her soft, comfy crib as Tobin dimmed the lights. "Mommy loves you, so very much. You're Mommy and Mama's precious baby girl, and we love you more than anything in the whole wide world."

Two kisses, one on each cheek, from each of her Mommies, making four total, and Mal's baby monitor was switched on, officially beginning her naptime. 

In their house, there was no Challenge Cup to worry about. No injuries, no stupid virus. Just Mommy and Mama, and their little baby Mal. 

And, of course, lots of love.

Chapter Text

Lynn had known that this was a possibility, but that didn't mean that she was prepared for it. It was kind of scary, to be honest, especially since she had never done this on her own before. She'd been around when Sam was little, but Abby had always been there to take care of her baby, with Lynn just serving as the fun aunt who read Sam stories and gave her extra pieces of candy even when Mommy said 'no.'

But now, Abby was- according to her most recent text message- trapped in the mother of all socially-distanced food lines, leaving Lynn alone with a rapidly regressing Sammy.

The taller player was tapping her feet anxiously, sucking on the air in place of a pacifier, eyes wide and head still hurting a little bit from where she banged it against Lindsey's. Tears were pricking at the corner of her eyes and she was sniffling, clearly in need of care. 

Lynn took a deep breath, fixing her gaze on her little roommate and walking over to where Sam sat, whimpering so quietly that she wouldn't have heard it if she wasn't right next to her. 

"Hey, Sam," she said, trying to relax, trying not to overthink this. They were roommates, very close friends. They loved each other, and Sam needed her. She could do this. 

She pretty much had to do this. 

Sam didn't say hello back- all she did was give her friend a small nod, lip trembling as she brought her hands up to cover her face, trying to hide her tears from Lynn. 

"Sammy," she said again, tentatively sitting down beside her on the bed, reaching out a hand and placing it gently on Sam's shaking shoulder. 

"Honey," she continued. "Can you tell Auntie Lynn what's wrong?"

Sam shook her head, grabbing one of the hotel pillows and pulling it into her arms, burying her face in it. Lynn could hear the sound of the sniffles speeding up, tears soaking into the pillow. Lynn took another deep breath to steady herself, because Sam definitely needed her, and she could do this. 

"Sammy," she said again, rubbing the little girl's slumped back. "Can Auntie Lynn get you your paci and your stuffie?"

She was praying that the items were in their room, not Abby's, because maybe that would help the baby be able to calm down and tell her what was wrong. Thankfully, Sam pointed towards a makeup bag on the nightstand, and shifted to reveal a stuffed lamb beneath the sheets. Lynn quickly pulled Sam's pacifier out of the makeup bag, gently wrapping her hands around Sam's own and helping her to release the pillow.

Sammy's face wasn't completely tearstained yet, just red and slightly damp from crying into the pillow. The liquid was still dripping out of the corners of her eyes, and Lynn's heart hurt to see her so sad, especially when she didn't know what was wrong yet. 

"Baby girl," she cooed, still rubbing Sam's back. "Here, do you want your paci? You can suck on it, it'll make you feel nice and little! We can have a cuddle!"

Sam opened her mouth and allowed Lynn to slide the pacifier past her lips. She started suckling on it immediately, letting the repeating motion begin to calm her. The oversized paci looked so adorable in her mouth, and the picture was only sweetened when Sam rubbed her lamby against her face. The only way the whole thing could have been cuter, in Lynn's opinion, was if the baby wasn't still crying. 

Lynn sat back against the remaining pillows and opened her arms for Sam. The baby fell into them, and Lynn suddenly found herself with a lapful of crying roommate, suckling on her paci as she whined and whimpered. 

"Baby," cooed Lynn, stroking Sam's ponytail and rocking her gently. "Baby, what's wrong?"

Sam's sniffled reply was barely audible as her face was buried in Lynn's chest. 

"I huwted Windsey."

Lynn knew immediately what Sam was referring to- her collision with the Thorns player, which had resulted in the other midfielder having to be checked for a concussion, and would certainly lead to a nasty headache, worse than the one pounding Sam's skull at this very moment. 

"Oh," cooed Lynn. "Oh, Sammy, shh, it's okay! It's all gonna be okay, Lindsey's going to be fine." 

Sammy shook her head against Lynn's chest, and the striker could feel her friend's tears being absorbed by the oversized tee she wore to bed. 

"Noooooo," she cried. "I huwted her!" 

Lynn made soft noises, continuing to rock Sam and stroke her hair while the emotion consumed her little friend.

"Sammy," she said, when the baby's tears seemed to be slowing a little bit. "I need you to listen to Auntie Lynn, okay?" 

Sam nodded feebly, and let Lynn continue to pet her as she spoke, gently but firmly.

"I know you feel bad," she began. "And that's 'cause you're such a sweet little girl! But, Sam, it's not your fault. You were playing the game, and you didn't mean to hurt Lindsey."

Sam seemed to be listening, so the striker decided that it was safe to keep going. 

"Besides," she continued. "Lindsey is a strong girl! She's gonna be okay- it's gonna take more than a head bonk to really hurt her. Do you understand?" 

Sam nodded tentatively, snuggling closer to Lynn. 

"Otay," she whispered, and Lynn let out a sigh of relief. She was worried that she was going to have to call Lindsey and have the (probably sleeping or eating) woman reassure Sam that everything was okay. And, while she knew that Lindsey wouldn't mind, she still wasn't looking forward to Sam feeling possibly even more guilty about inconveniencing the other woman. 

"Good baby," she soothed, giving the girl a kiss on the top of her head. "Now, can Auntie Lynn change you into your baby clothes, or do you want to wait for Mommy?"

Sam considered- on one hand, she didn't really like anyone except Mommy (or sometimes Kristie, 'cause she trusted her sister just as much as she trusted Abby) changing her into her little things, especially her pull-ups. On the other, she was very very tiny, and she would rather have Auntie change her into her soft, comfy little things and her pull-up rather than end up having to clean up an accident. 

"You," she whispered, and Lynn's eyes widened briefly in shock. She hadn't really been expecting that answer- little Sam was notoriously shy- but she was pleasantly surprised, and flattered that Sam trusted her enough to let her get her changed. 

"Alright, baby," she said, gently scooting Sam off her lap so she could get up and dig through the other woman's extra bag until she found what she was looking for- a soft, snuggly onesie and the little girl's nighttime pull-ups. Sam snuggled her lamby and suckled her paci as Lynn gently (trying not to show how nervous she was that she would mess up and make the baby cry and never let her take care of her again) stripped the taller woman out of her bottoms, replacing her big-girl panties with a pull-up, far more appropriate for such a little girl. 

"There we go," she found herself cooing. "Such a good baby for Auntie Lynn! You let me get your pull-up on, such a good baby girl." 

Sam gave her a little smile around her paci, and Lynn's heart melted in her chest. God, how adorable could her roommate be?

The onesie was next, and by the time Lynn was finished, Sam was cooing contentedly around her paci, nuzzling her stuffed animal. The striker sank back down beside her on the bed and Sam immediately reclaimed her place against her roommate's shoulder, leaning against Lynn and letting herself relax, 'cause Auntie Lynn was very comfy!

They sat there cuddling while Lynn stroked Sam's hair, soothing her onward towards sleep, because it was very obvious that it was past little girls' bedtimes! Sam dozed off first, as was to be expected, with her paci in her mouth and heavy little eyes. Lynn's eyes fluttered as well, and she ended up falling asleep on Sam's bed, her roommate tucked against her chest.

When Abby came back to say goodnight to her little girlfriend, she smiled and shut the door quietly behind her. It would appear that Sam was fully taken care of. 

Chapter Text

In a way, Becky was glad that she was out for the rest of the tournament. It sucked, of course, especially since it was her first season with Portland. But it was also a sort of blessing, because this tournament wasn't shaping up to be easy for anyone. And there was one person in particular who Becky was especially worried about. 

"Mommy," whined Alyssa, reaching her arms out to be picked up. Making sure to be careful of her hip, the older woman bent down and scooped up her baby girl, letting Alyssa wrap her arms around her neck and lean against her shoulder.

The little girl had been moody for the past few days, only really emerging out of her little headspace for practice and games. She had been upset and anxious, and had been pretty much glued to Becky's side. It worried the older woman- being clingy wasn't out of Alyssa's normal realm of behavior, nor was being weepy, but this level of weepiness was a bit abnormal. 

"Shh, pumpkin," cooed Becky, bouncing her baby girl as she carried her around the room. Alyssa wrapped a hand around a tendril of Becky's hair, pulling gently at it as she sucked on her pacifier. 

"Mommy," she sighed again, the word garbled around the paci in her mouth. It almost fell out, but she managed to close her mouth just in time to keep it in. Becky thanked the powers that be in her head- the smallest things had been setting Alyssa off lately, and she knew that her baby girl didn't need another crying fit. The last one had been only hours ago, when she accidentally bumped Becky's arm and made the older woman drop her bottle. Nothing had been broken, no milk had spilled, but the noise and the sudden absence of the nipple in her mouth had been enough to make the baby cry.

"Mommy's here," soothed Becky. "Mommy's here. Mommy has you, it's all okay."

Alyssa made a soft noise, nuzzling further into Becky's neck as if trying to disappear in the warmth of Mommy's skin against her own. Becky stroked her hair, humming tunelessly like she often did when trying to get the girl to sleep on a difficult night. She wished that there was something more that she could do- Alyssa was so stressed and anxious, and it hurt her heart to watch. If she had a magic wand, the first thing she would do would be to take everything and anything that ever made Alyssa upset and banish it to the darkest realm of the underworld. 

"Baby girl," she cooed. "Mommy's gotcha. I have an idea, do you wanna hear it?"

Alyssa nodded against her neck. She always liked to hear Mommy's ideas, 'cause Mommy was smart and she knew so much better than tiny baby Lyssa. She leaned into Becky's hand as the older woman petted her hair and upper back in long strokes.

"Can Mommy give you a nice warm bath?"

Alyssa nodded right away, still hiding in Mommy's neck. A bath sounded really nice- all cozy and warm and Mommy would wash her with a soft cloth and there might even be some bubbles, and she would be so tiny and cared for! 

"Okay, baby girl," said Becky, continuing to walk with her little in her arms. Alyssa whimpered when she realized that they were heading towards the hotel room door, rather than the bathroom door, but Becky soothed her right away with soft strokes and soft words.

"No worries, pumpkin," she promised. "You don't have to worry about a thing. We're gonna take your bath, but Mommy just wants to borrow some of TiTi's new lavender shampoo, because it smells really good and will help you relax even more, and I don't wanna leave my Lyssa alone while I get it. We're gonna be right back, honey, and then we'll get you into the bath!"

Thankfully, Tierna's door was only a few doors down from Alyssa's, and the young defender answered immediately when Becky knocked. One look at the pair and she could tell that Alyssa was firmly little.

"Hey," she said. "What can I do for you guys?" 

"Sorry to bother you," said Becky. "But I was wondering if I could borrow some of that lavender shampoo of yours? Lyssa likes the way it smells, and lavender is supposed to be calming..."

She trailed off, feeling a bit out of her depth. She had no idea what the youths were doing with their hair products nowadays, but it was definitely true that whatever Tierna put in her hair smelled fantastic.

"Of course," said Tierna, dashing off to her bathroom and returning with the bottle. "Take as much as you need!"

Becky thanked her and prompted Alyssa to do the same, but the baby must have been feeling especially shy, because all she did was bury her head deeper in Becky's neck and give TiTi (so dubbed because she sometimes had trouble with longer words when she was little), one of her favorite people on the Red Stars (and occasional babysitter) a tiny wave. Tierna waved back and then they were on their way back down the hallway, lavender shampoo in tow. 

Becky deposited the shampoo in the bathroom before carrying Alyssa to their makeshift changing table. She set the baby down, keeping one eye on her to make sure she didn't roll off as she played with her own toes, waiting for Mommy to be back. Becky didn't grab a fresh diaper- Alyssa was going straight into the bath, after all- but she did snatch the wipes before unbuttoning the baby's onesie and stripping her out of her clothes and her wet diaper. 

Alyssa wasn't squirmy during changes, and so it only took a matter of moments before the baby, sans clothes, was sitting on her Mommy's lap in the bathroom while Becky filled the tub with warm water. 

"Almost full, baby," cooed the defender, pouring a splash of bubbles into the warm water and smiling when Alyssa gave a contented babble at the sight of them frothing up. She deposited her little girl carefully into the tub, watching Alyssa for any signs of discomfort and finding none.

Rather the contrary, in fact. Alyssa let out a little sigh, one that Becky knew for a fact to be a happy noise, and let her eyes drift shut as she sank down into the water, Mommy supporting her head so she didn't go completely under as she was engulfed by the warmth and safety that bathtime provided. 

"Is that comfy for my baby girl?"

Alyssa nodded, scooping up a handful of bubbles and putting them on her cheek, eyes still closed. She gave a tiny giggle, which made Becky's smile widen. It was such a relief to see her little baby so relaxed, just letting herself slip further down within the safety of the warm bath and letting Mommy take care of her every need. 

"Mommy's girl," cooed Becky, stroking Alyssa's bubbly cheek with the hand that wasn't supporting the little one's head. Alyssa reached a hand back out and opened her eyes a crack, just long enough to poke Mommy's face, leaving a few stray bubbles behind. 

"Aww, I'm glad somebody likes her bubbles! It's okay, Lyssa, you can be as tiny as you want."

She let the little one soak for a few minutes, just letting all the tension and anxiety melt off her skin and into the bathwater, soon to go down the drain. Then she grabbed a soft washcloth and got it damp, rubbing hypoallergenic, skin-safe soap on it.

"Can Mommy wash you?"

Alyssa nodded, and Becky began getting her all clean, starting with her arms and sides, gently scrubbing away the sweat and tears that had built up since she showered after last practice. Next her chest, then quickly and innocently between her legs. Alyssa couldn't help but let out a giggle at the tickly feeling which came when Becky washed the bottoms of her feet, and the soft, sweet sound of her laugh was music to the defender's ears. 

"Okay, pumpkin," she said, once she had finished with Alyssa's body. "It's time for your hair now. Let Mommy rub in the shampoo. It smells like TiTi, doesn't it?"

Alyssa gave a small nod- it did smell like TiTi! The scent of lavender filled her nostrils, and she thought that it was a good smell, a nice smell. It made her feel a little bit calmer, maybe a bit less anxious as Becky massaged it into her scalp. 

"There we go, baby," said the older woman once she was done. "It's all rubbed in!"

She filled the rinsing cup with fresh water and covered Alyssa's eyes as she poured it over her head. The water was warm, but not too hot, and the little girl sighed in relief as she let Mommy care for her, feeling so tiny and loved.

When the water had gone tepid, Becky scooped her angel out of the tub and wrapped her in a nice, warm towel. Another went around her hair, and she cuddled up on Mommy's lap to dry, feeling far calmer than she had a few minutes ago, all thanks to Mommy!

Chapter Text

"Up?"

Kristie looked behind her as she changed out of her kits and back into shorts and a tee for the ride back to the hotel and, not seeing anyone directly there, she looked around again. Down on the floor, she found the source of the noise.

"Up?" 

Rachel repeated the question with a trembling lower lip, staring up at her girlfriend with big eyes, arms reaching up towards Kristie. 

The American wasn't surprised that her girlfriend had regressed- the general mood in the locker room was sour. After having started off the tournament so well, things had gone completely off the rails in their game against Sky Blue, and then they weren't able to rally to beat (or at least tie) Washington. So that left their seeing totally dependent on the other teams' results, filling the room with a sense of helplessness and anxiety that no one liked, and Rachel least of all.

"Of course, peanut," said Kristie, bending down and scooping Rachel up into her arms. The little girl, still clad in her kits, rested her head against Kristie's shoulder and began to move her thumb towards her mouth.

"Uh uh," said Kristie, wrapping her hand gently around Rachel's. "Mommy will get you your paci when we get back, but we can't suck our thumbs right now."

Rachel whined, and Kristie bounced her gently. Jane grabbed both of their bags, following behind them as Kristie carried Rachel towards the bus. 

"Thanks," said Kristie to the keeper. Jane nodded, ruffled Rachel's hair, and went to take her seat. 

Rachel curled up against Kristie's chest, really really wanting to suck her thumb but also not wanting Mommy to get upset with her. Her brain was fuzzily buzzing with guilty thoughts, 'cause she couldn't get it done, couldn't manage to put a goal away, and so it was all her fault, everything was all her fault, she was such a bad captain-

"What's going on in that sweet little head of yours?"

Mommy was stroking her hair, cooing softly. Rachel whined again, not quite sure if she was able to talk. Especially not in front of all these people that were prob'ly mad with her! She wasn't even aware that she was crying until Mommy used her tee-shirt to wipe away some tears under her eyes. 

"Shh," she cooed. "Mommy's here, Mommy's here. We're almost back, peanut, and then Mommy can change you into your diapers and get your hands all washed, and then your paci! Does that sound good, my baby?"

Rachel nodded, sniffling and blowing her nose on Kristie's shirt. The sound, along with Rachel's general state, caused Shea to look over the back of her seat in concern. Kristie shook her head minutely, and the other woman gave the couple a soft, concerned look before putting her earbuds back in. 

"Look," said Kristie, rocking her baby and getting her settled in her arms, ready to stand up and carry her off the bus. "We're pulling into the parking lot right now, baby girl! Mommy'll carry you, and then we can have naptime!"

The bus pulled to a stop and then Jane was back, slinging their bags over her shoulder and following behind them, into the hotel and the elevator, up to their room where she deposited the bags on the floor by the door as Kristie carried her sniffly baby girl against her chest. 

"Shh," Kristie soothed, nodding her thanks to the Houston keeper. "Shh, we're already back! We're in our room, Rachie baby! Mommy's gonna get you into your diaper! Okay?"

Rachel nodded weakly against Kristie's chest, whimpering when Mommy carried her to the bathroom to wash their hands before doing anything else! Kristie helped Rachel do her hands first, then her own, before picking the baby back up and carrying her to the bed. Rachel flopped backwards, pulling one of the pillows to her chest and cradling it like it was her stuffie. Kristie cooed adoringly, stroking her baby's cheek before unlacing her shoes and pulling them off. She tossed them to the side, rubbing Rachel's feet quickly. 

"Okay," she said, as Rachel snuggled the pillow. "Mommy's gonna be right back, baby girl! Mommy's gotta go and grab your diaper and your paci! Does that sound good?"

Rachel nodded, using the corner of the pillow to wipe her eyes clear so that she could watch her Mommy as she walked across the room, grabbing Rachel's diaper bag and hurrying back to her weepy little baby. 

"Hi, peanut," cooed the American. "Mommy's right here, sweetie pie! Who's Mommy's sweet baby girl?"

Rachel managed a little giggle, smiling slightly.

"Is it you? I think it is!"

Another giggle made Kristie smile as she pulled off the baby's shorts and panties. She hurried to get it fastened around her baby's hips- she had been kicking herself for not bringing the diaper bag to the game, and hoping and praying that they would make it back to the hotel before her baby had an accident. None of their teammates would judge her for that, but she knew that Rachel would be embarrassed beyond belief if she wet her pants in front of everyone! 

"There we go," she said, kissing Rachel's cheek. "You're all set, all safe in your diaper! Now, do you want your paci? Does Mommy's sweet peanut want her paci?"

Rachel nodded, opening her mouth and letting her Mommy pop the paci in. She started suckling immediately, and her eyes drifted closed. She was still clutching the pillow to her chest, and Kristie washed her hands again and climbed into the bed beside her baby girl. Rachel abandoned the pillow in favor of snuggling into her Mommy's chest, burying her face back into her shoulder. 

"Shh," cooed Kristie. "Mommy's here. I've gotcha! Nobody's angry at you! Nobody's angry at you at all, peanut. You tried your very very best, sweetheart, and Mommy is so proud of you!"

Rachel sniffled again, trying to believe her Mommy's words as Kristie stroked her hair, threading it through her fingers and planting kisses onto it. 

"Mummy," whined Rachel, snuggling closer. 

"I know, I know," cooed Kristie. "I've gotcha! It's all gonna be okay, we're gonna be fine. We're gonna come back strong in the quarterfinals, and my baby girl is gonna be the bestest captain ever!" 

Rachel gave her paci another little suckle, the exhaustion from the game beginning to set in. Kristie rocked her, toeing off her own shoes so that she could pull her feet up onto the bed and wrap them around Rachel's. The baby gave another little giggle, nuzzling Kristie's cheek with her own. 

"Aww," cooed Kristie, giving her another kiss on her forehead. "My sweet, snuggly baby girl! Are we gonna take a nap? Is it nappytime for Mommy's peanut?"

"Uh-huh," mumbled Rachel around her paci, giving a tiny yawn. "Mummy cuddle?"

"Of course," said Kristie. "Always! Mommy would love to snuggle with you while we take a nap!"

Rachel wrapped a lock of Kristie's hair in her hand and sighed happily at the feeling of Mommy's hand stroking her back, humming softly. 

"Night night, peanut," said Kristie softly as Rachel fell asleep in her arms. 

Chapter Text

So, this was potentially a problem. 

Well, not potentially. It was definitely a problem, but it had the ability to become an even bigger problem if it wasn't solved now. This was obvious to the search parties as they assembled in the hotel's dining room, looking around to ensure that it wasn't in here, and that they actually had to spend their day off doing this. 

This search party was supposed to be volunteer only, but given the way Kelley had glared when she asked for help, most of the team was fairly sure that they would find themselves on the wrong side of the defender if they opted out of volunteering. 

Of course, the fact that she had twenty-plus aunties searching wasn't exactly helping Emily at the moment. She was sitting on the floor wailing, and Kelley was trying to comfort her with one hand while holding up her cellphone with the other. 

"Okay," she said. "Does everyone remember what he looks like?"

The 'volunteers' nodded- they had seen Emily carrying him around often enough. Plus, he was a stuffed tyrannosaurus. There probably weren't many of those in the hotel or surrounding areas. 

"Shh, Em," cooed Kelley. "See, we're all gonna go and look for your dino!"

Emily sobbed, beating her fists against one of the chair cushions. 

"Nooooo," she wailed. "He is losted forever!"

"No, no," cooed Kelley, giving her volunteers a look that said that they had better start fucking searching. "He's not lost forever, sunshine! We're gonna find him! Here, you and I can search the dining room while your aunties start everywhere else!" 

Emily took Kelley's offered hand and toddled behind the older woman, looking back and forth and hoping to spot Mr. Rex in a simple, obvious place. 


"Yo, has anyone checked the pool?"

Tobin called out to the other volunteers in her little group (Lindsey and Alex- Christen had been the only one excused from volunteer duties because someone had to stay behind and look after Mal. And the striker had won the coin toss), getting two head shakes back. So, feeling slightly proud of herself, Tobin led on.

There had been a group that had gone to the hotel pool yesterday evening, but the women couldn't remember if Emily had been among them. If she had, there was a definite chance that she had accidentally left her T-Rex there, and he had (hopefully, she thought, crossing her fingers) remained on dry land. Wet stuffies were not fun, as Tobin had discovered when Mal had brought one of her stuffed puppies into the tub with her and, before Christen or herself could utter a word, promptly dropped it in the water and started crying when it had to go into the dryer. 

A quick scan of the pool deck revealed nothing, and even when the women searched underneath the lounge chairs and umbrella poles, there was nothing to be. 

Alex checked the pool itself, and the hot tub, neither of which contained any trace of tyrannosaur, and then the trio filed out to start on a new room. 


Sam, Rose and Tierna had decided to head for the lobby. After all, that was a point of transition, and things frequently got lost at points of transition. There were quite a few places in the lobby, they soon realized, where a stuffie could plausibly be hiding. 

"Oh is that- no, wait, that's just a pillow," said Sam, getting excited for a second as she spotted something on a plush loveseat across the room from them. 

"Poor Em," said Rose as she peeked behind a potted plant. "I don't know what I'd do if I lost Wilma Two."

Sam shuddered in agreement, thinking of her lamby, tucked safely in her bag upstairs. She would really rather not find out what she would do if she lost her. 

Tierna asked the front desk if they had a lost and found, but as soon as she peeked into the bin it was clear that there was no stuffed dino. She cursed internally- the lost and found had been her best bet. There were several single shoes, pairs of sunglasses, and what looked like Allie Long's extra purse, but nothing that would placate a tantrum-throwing Emily. 

Sam and Rose had checked underneath every couch cushion by the time the group decided to move on to the next room. 


Meanwhile, Emily and Kelley had given up on searching the dining room (it was clear that there was no Mr. Rex to be found, and that Kelley was just having Emily search to give her something to do while they hoped that the other women had better luck), and the younger defender was cradled in the elder's lap, rejecting Kelley's attempts to feed her. 

"Come on, Emmy," cajoled the older woman. "It's lunchtime, and I know that my little baby girl is hungry!"

Emily shook her head, sticking out her tongue at the strawberry yogurt in Kelley's hands. She didn't want yogurt, she wanted her stuffie, and she wanted him now! 

"Please, sunshine," begged Kelley. "Come on, it's yummy! And it's dairy, just like your milk!" 

The thought of her bottle was supposed to be calming for Emily, but the younger defender just slid off Kelley's lap and back onto the (not exactly clean- another bath tonight it would be) floor. 

"No!" 

Kelley took a deep breath, setting down the yogurt and getting down to Emily's level on the floor. The younger girl was crying again, and Kelley wrapped her arms around her and flipped her off her back and onto her Mommy's lap before she could start throwing another tantrum. 

"Emmy," she cooed, rocking her baby gently. "It's gonna be okay, sunshine. Your aunties are all hard at work, looking for your stuffie, and they're gonna find him! Mommy promises!"

Of course, that wasn't exactly a promise that she could make, but she swore to herself that she would overnight ship a brand new T-Rex exactly like Mr. Rex to their hotel if nobody managed to find the original. She would slip him into Emily's arms while the baby was asleep and voila, all her problems would be solved! 

"B-But," whimpered Emily. "What 'f he cold? 'N lonely?"

Kelley planted a gentle kiss on her sweet baby girl's forehead, hushing her softly. 

"Stuffies can't really get cold, sunshine," she said. "They have so much fur! Also it's summer, honey, and I'm pretty sure he's not gonna get cold!" 

Emily thought about that for a moment before deciding that logic made sense. Kelley continued on with her reassurances.

"And I'm sure he's missing his Em, but he's gonna be okay! He's gonna be so happy when he sees you! Now, can Mommy please feed you?"

Emily nodded slowly, opening her mouth like a baby bird for the yogurt.


"Where Mama?"

Christen and Mal were sitting on one of the beds in the hotel room, the one that didn't have the rails set up to act as Mal's crib, and the younger striker was cuddled into her Mommy's side, sucking idly on her paci as they rested. It was supposed to be naptime, an activity which Mal would usually complete in her crib, but the baby had just been too soft today for Christen to put down.

"I told you, bunny," said Christen, with a kiss to Mal's hair. "Mama's out helping look for Mal's stuffed dino! She'll be back real soon!"

Mal nodded absently against Christen's chest, cuddling closer. She wished that Emmy hadn't loseded her dino, 'cause then Mama would be back here, an' they could go get ice cream like they had planned! 

"Hmmm," said Christen, giving up momentarily on naptime (Mal wasn't going to sleep until Tobin was back, clearly) and wracking her brains for where the toy could possibly be. Surely the women had searched nearly every inch of the hotel by now! 

"If I was Emily, where would I have left my stuffie?"

Mal shrugged at her Mommy's out-loud question, which hadn't really been directed at her, more towards the general universe. But then, as she gave her paci another suck, it came to her.

"Fwower?"

Christen sat bolt upright. Flowers! She knew exactly where Mal was talking about- the little garden out back! Mal and Emily had played there yesterday evening, and she distinctly remembered the little defender having had her dinosaur with her. Whether that dinosaur had made it back inside, however... That was another matter! 

"Good idea, baby girl!"

She popped up out of bed, slid on her shoes and picked Mal up, planting kisses to her baby's face. They raced downstairs, Mal giggling the entire way, and then outside to the little garden.

Sure enough, there he was. A little stuffed tyrannosaur, sitting alone on a wooden bench.

Christen bent down to let Mal pick it up, then gave her little one another kiss.

"You found it, pumpkin! Mommy is so proud of you!" 


"Mr. Rex!"

Emily was overjoyed to see that the bundle in Mal's arms was no hallucination but was, in fact, her missing fuzzy friend. Christen let the baby hand it back to the other little, smiling fondly as Emily kissed Mal's chin and hopped joyously into Kelley's arms.

"Look, Mommy! Look! Mal finded him!"

Kelley, with an armful of squirmy, happy baby, shook her head in disbelief.

"Where was he? The girls have been texting me that they're looking everywhere, and that they couldn't find him.

"The back garden," replied Christen. "Where the babies were playing last night."

The older woman let out a laugh- how could she have forgotten? Anyway, what mattered was that Emily had her dinosaur back, and the search party was free to return to their rooms for naps or television or whatever the heck they did on off days. 

Which, in the case of the hero of the day and her Mommies, was go for ice cream!

Chapter Text

If y'all know what miracle except not a miracle because ofc they fucking did they the thorns (sorry nc fans lol) I am referring to please leave requests for apos and ss I'll delete this later but holy fucking fuck

Chapter Text

If there was one thing that Ashlyn and Ali were grateful for, not being able to play in the Challenge Cup, it was that Emily had decided to hunker down with them during this nightmare. Having their charge a twenty-minute drive away would have just been impossible for the two Aunties, especially with how little Emily sometimes got with exactly zero warning. Yes, they liked having the baby where they could keep an eye on her, spoil her and distract her from thinking too much about all her friends (except Mal, who was in Portland with her Mommies rather than Utah with Sky Blue) having fun without her. 

They had done pretty well so far, and the nightly phone calls with Mommy had made things even better! Overall, they were doing pretty well- or had been. 

"Come on, sunshine," said Ali, crouched down and reaching underneath the chair to where Emily lay, curled up and sobbing. "I know it can't be comfy under there! Come on out and tell your Aunties what's wrong!"

Ashlyn was in the kitchen, frantically trying to dig something sweet out of the cupboards as a bribe, and both women were wracking their brains to try and think of what could have possibly gone wrong in the last ten minutes to make Emily so little and so sad so suddenly.

"Come on, honey," came Ashlyn's voice. "I have some chocolate for you if you come out!" 

When even this didn't sway Emily, who just curled further into herself and sucked furiously on her thumb while tears streamed out of her eyes, the older women knew that more drastic measures would have to be taken.

"Okay," said Ashlyn, pulling Ali to her feet. "Let's move the chair a bit to the side and then pick her up before she can get back under it."

Emily wailed as her Aunties lifted her cave up and away, setting it down quickly so that Ali could bend back down and scoop the baby into her arms before she could make her way back beneath it. 

It was clear that something was very, very wrong as the older defender carried the baby towards her nursery, Ashlyn following behind. Not only was Emily sobbing straight out of nowhere when she had seemed perfectly happy ten minutes ago, but it was also clear that she had wet her pants, and was shaking like a leaf in Ali's arms.

The two older women worked seamlessly together to get Emily out of her big girl clothes and into her comfy little clothes, wipe her and get a diaper on, and take turns washing their hands, all while Emily sobbed. They ignored the rocker in favor of sinking together down to the floor so that they could hold Emily in between them, surrounding her with warmth and love while she wailed miserably, scared or saddened by some unknown force. 

"Shh," cooed Ali, stroking Emily's back. "We're right here, baby girl, and we love you so much!"

It took Emily at least fifteen minutes to stop crying- whenever she seemed about to stop, she would think of whatever it was again and burst into a fresh round of tears in her helpless caregivers' arms. 

"Baby, baby," Ashlyn comforted. "It's gonna be okay, baby girl!"

"N-No," whined Emily, burying her face in the keeper's shoulder. "No okay!"

Coherent words. That was a good start. Ali rocked Emily while Ashlyn got a blanket from her crib to wrap around the little girl, enveloping her in the scent of baby detergent and sleep. 

"There, there," praised Ali as Emily's sobs slowly started to fade into hiccups. "That's a good baby. Such a sweet, precious little baby! You're so loved, Em, so loved!"

"Shh," soothed Ashlyn. "That's a good baby."

When Emily had finally stopped crying, she laid back against Ashlyn's chest, a look of complete and utter misery still gracing her face. This was odd- normally, a good cry made Emily feel better about whatever had been upsetting her, but that didn't seem to be the case this time. She looked just as heartbroken as she had when they had first heard her crying beneath the chair. 

"Can you tell us what's wrong, sunshine?"

Emily accepted her paci from Ali, sucking it furiously and wiping at her eyes, trying to soothe herself. Ali and Ashlyn continued stroking her gently, waiting for her to be ready to talk.

"What made our sunshine baby cry?"

The words that came out of Emily's mouth next were some of the most terrified, defeated words that her Aunties had ever heard from the normally smiley and happy little girl. 

"Mommy no love me anymore," she whispered. 

"What? Emily, why would you say that?"

Ali sounded shocked- a world where Lindsey stopped loving Emily was unimaginable! They had just gotten off the phone with the Portland player a few hours ago, and nothing had been wrong then! Emily had been her usual self- happy to talk to her Mommy, even when she was a big girl. Surely, if whatever set Emily off had happened during the call, she would have regressed a few hours ago.

"Why do you think that?"

Ashlyn's question was a little bit calmer, the keeper having taken a deep breath before asking it so that none of her sadness at whatever was going on would come out in her voice.

In answer, Emily pointed to her phone, which must have been in the pocket of her big-girl clothes because it now lay abandoned on the floor next to the changing table. Ali and Ashlyn knew Emily's password (B-A-G-E-L), and as soon as Ashlyn retrieved the phone and plugged in the code, the first thing to pop up was Instagram. Specifically, the Instagram story of one Lindsey Horan.

As soon as Ashlyn saw the video, she knew immediately what had thrown Emily into this state. There was Lindsey, her Mommy, the one who had said she would miss her so much and couldn't stand to be separated from her, doing a secret handshake with the player who had replaced her, under bright text reading "my gurrrrrl." 

To a friend, it would be a slap in the face. To a little, it was unbearable, absolute betrayal. 

"Oh," cooed Ashlyn, stroking Emily's hair as the little sniffled around her paci, threatening another round of tears. "Oh, Em, baby, shh. We have you, we have you, you're safe and loved, sunshine!" 

Emily let Ali and Ashlyn hold her between them, whispering comforts into her ears. She was almost numb, except for little stabs of pain that punctured her lungs and made it hard to breathe, especially while trying to be a good baby and not cry on her Aunties anymore than she already had- the last thing she needed was for them to decide that they didn't want her anymore either!

"We have you, sunshine, we aren't going to let anything happen to you."

She didn't know which of her Aunties was talking and, frankly, she didn't really care. All she could think about was that stupid handshake, and stupid Mark, and stupid Sophia, and most of all Mommy, who clearly didn't need a little baby like Emmy anymore! She wouldn't be surprised, she thought to herself, if Sophia was Mommy's new baby, and that Mommy just hadn't wanted to tell her because she didn't wanna deal with Emmy crying because nobody loved her and nobody would ever love her and she had thought Mommy had loved her but she didn't!

"We love you, Emily, it's gonna be okay."

Auntie Ali and Auntie Ash were trying their best to soothe her, but Emily was closing in on herself, suckling furiously at her paci and cursing the world for being so unfair! 

Suddenly, she couldn't hold it back anymore.

"No okay!"

Her outburst certainly got her Aunties' attention- both of them stopped mid-sentence to look down at the baby in their arms. 

"I hate Mommy," she whispered, and immediately she wanted to cry again. 

Ashlyn waved to get Ali's attention, pointing at the phone and holding her thumb and finger up to her ear. Ali gently extricated herself from underneath Emily and her wife, giving the little girl a stroke on the forehead to reassure her that she would be right back. Ashlyn rocked Emily gently, distracting her while Ali grabbed the phone and slipped out of the room, speed-dialing Lindsey. The younger woman had some serious damage to repair, and Ali only hoped that she could repair it.

"No," said Ashlyn, a mixture of soft and stern. "We don't say we hate people in this house, Emily. I know you're mad at your Mommy, and that's okay, but you don't hate her. I know you don't."

Emily whined, ashamed at being told off, even gently. Ashlyn soothed her softly, petting her hair as she continued to talk.

"It's okay to be mad and sad and upset," said Ashlyn. "But your Mommy loves you. I know she does."

As Emily sniffled, Ali was right outside in the hallway, hissing into the phone.

"What the fuck were you thinking, Horan? What possessed you to post that while she was already vulnerable?"

It took a second for Lindsey to realize what the problem was- post what? What had she posted that...

"Fuck," she whispered, as it suddenly came to her. She and Sophia had just been having fun, hanging out and celebrating the fact that Portland was going to the semis after all, but she hadn't considered how that would look to Emily, especially to baby Emmy. 

"Can... Can I talk to her? Fuck, Ali, let me to talk to her!"

Ali worried at her lower lip with her teeth. On one hand, it was probably best that they get this over with right away. On the other, she wasn't quite sure that Emily wanted to talk to Lindsey. 

"Please," whispered Lindsey, pleading. "I need to hear her voice. Need to make sure that she... she..."

"Fine," said Ali, unable to handle the sad voice on the other end of the phone. "Just know that... That she's not happy."

Once Lindsey had accepted the warning, Ali walked quietly back into the nursery and handed the phone to Ashlyn, who put it on speaker so that Emily didn't need to be big and do something hard like hold a phone while she was so vulnerable and sad. 

"Someone wants to talk to you, Em," said Ali.

"Emily," said Lindsey with a whisper, worry and sadness thick in her voice. The little girl whimpered with emotion at the sound of her Mommy's voice, because she wanted so badly to be able to reach out and hug her, to let Mommy fold her in her arms and keep her safe, but she was also so hurt and confused. 

"Em, baby," said Lindsey again. "Can you listen to Mommy for a minute?"

Emily whined and gripped onto Ashlyn's shirt collar for support. She couldn't quite get the word 'yes' to come out of her mouth, but she shook her head yes and Ali relayed the message verbally while petting Emily's back.

"Baby," said Lindsey, voice cracking as she tried to hold back her own tears. "First of all, I want to tell you that I love you, so much! You're my baby girl, my sweet little ray of sunshine, and I miss you every day!"

"Miss Mommy," whispered Emily around her paci.

"And I'm so sorry," continued Lindsey. "That I made you feel like I don't love you anymore. Because I love you and I always will, sweetheart." 

Emily sniffled, feeling a little bit better at the reassurance but still hurt at the fact that Mommy was bein' all friendly wif' Sophia, when she was the reason they weren't together anymore!

"Now, here's the part," said Lindsey seriously. "Where I need you to listen to Mommy very carefully. Can you do that for me, my brave girl?"

"Uh huh," said the baby, wondering what was coming next- she didn't know if it was gonna make her feel any better, or if it was gonna make her cry again. 

"I'm not going to stop being friends with Sophia. Let me finish," said Lindsey before Emily could whine or protest. 

"She's very young, Emily, and she needs to feel like she's wanted. I'm friends with her, and I'm her Auntie sometimes, but you are always first in my heart, my little sunshine!" 

Emily whimpered again- she wasn't sure she liked that! She cuddled closer into her Aunties as Lindsey kept talking.

"I'm your Mommy," she said. "No one else's. You're my only baby girl, and you're my best friend, my sweet little baby! Mommy loves you more than anything, Em. Do you understand?"

Emily supposed she did- she still didn't like Sophia very much at all, but Lindsey was using her best Mommy voice, the one that left no room for argument while still managing to convey all the love in the world, even through the phone.

"Otay," she whispered. "J-Just... No let her call you Mommy!"

Lindsey gave a light laugh, relief flooding through her that Emily seemed like she was going to be okay, and still kicking herself a little bit for putting up that post. 

"I promise, baby girl," she said, and was so happy to hear Emily's smile through the phone as she sucked her paci. 

"Can Mommy have a kiss?"

Emily giggled as she smacked her lips together, giving Lindsey a kiss through the phone and getting a flurry of them back, combined with physical kisses from her relieved Aunties. 

"Now," said Lindsey. "Mommy has to go to a team meeting, but I'll call you before bed! And our secret handshake is still the best, my sunshine! I love you!"

"Love Mommy," said Emily contentedly as they hung up the phone. 

She still had a lot of things about this trade to make her peace with but, with a bit of help from Mommy and her Aunties (one of whom had run to fetch the earlier promised chocolate) she knew she could do it!

Chapter Text

"Okay, woah, woah! Slow down there, Morgan! Auntie and Soph aren't running quite as fast as you!" 

Morgan was pulling Lindsey along, towards the playground that her little side had been longing to play on ever since they first got here! Lindsey was trying her best to keep up, but Sophia was in a far less hyper state right now, and so she was walking where Morgan was running. In each of the older player's hands, she clutched a smaller hand, one pulling and one dragging until they finally made it to the playground of legend. 

"Okay, kiddo," she said, letting go of Morgan's hand and breathing a sigh of relief at not being dragged anymore. "Have fun! You've earned it!"

Giggling, still riding high on her first professional goal, which could not have come at a more important time, Morgan dashed off to play on the brightly colored structure, joining Sinc and Kling, the former of whom was keeping a close eye on the latter to make sure that she didn't fall or trip or twist anything, or even get a scrape. Nothing that could possibly take her out of commission for the next match(es), where she would be sorely needed. The Canadian nodded over at Lindsey as the other woman sat down at the tiny picnic table, her other charge still gripping her hand tightly.

Sophia was looking over at where Morgan was grinning like a maniac, sliding down the slide again and again, and her lower lip was stuck out in a little pout.

"Don't you want to play with sissy, Sophia? Or just go down the slide?"

The little girl whined, shaking her head as she clambered up into Lindsey's lap and lay her head against the older woman's shoulder. She had been whiny all day, barely letting go of Lindsey's hand from the minute the older player had come off the field until now. But, she seemed to have gotten significantly whinier since the game ended.

"No," she pouted, wrapping her little arms around Lindsey's neck to make sure that her Auntie didn't go anywhere without her. "Wanna sit wif you."

"Okay," said Lindsey, rocking the girl gently. "That's okay, Sophia. You don't have to play if you don't want to, but we have to stay here with sissy while she plays, okay?"

Morgan waved from the top of the slide, making sure Lindsey was watching before she went down it. The older woman clapped for her when she reached the bottom and Morgan giggled happily, then ran off to join Kling in a game of tag, both of them re-energized after their numerous minutes by the knowledge that Portland was going to the semifinals! 

"Otay," whispered Sophia into Lindsey's neck. The little girl nuzzled against her Auntie, and Lindsey patted her hair. 

"Honey," said Lindsey, concerned at Sophia's slightly abnormal behavior. "Are you okay?"

Sophia didn't answer, just buried her face further into Lindsey's shoulder. She wasn't, but sissy was happy, and she didn't wanna ruin her big day by being a crybaby! 

When the little girl didn't nod in confirmation, Lindsey stroked her back gently and, knowing that Sinc had at least one eye on Morgan, stood up with Sophia in her arms and bounced the little forward gently.

"Shh, honey," she cooed. "Tell Auntie Lindsey what's wrong."

If there had been one thing that was hard for Lindsey about caring for these two, it was coming to terms with the fact that not all littles were as open as Emily. Her little girl never hesitated to tell Mommy about anything, and Morgan was also usually ready to spill the beans to Auntie Lindsey, but the midfielder had found out that Sophia was a bit more private, taking some coaxing to talk about what was wrong, big or little.

"'S stupid," whined Sophia. Lindsey pulled her face out of her shoulder and looked the girl in the eye, eyebrows raised. She didn't want it to sound like she was angry at Sophia, but she also didn't want to hear the little girl think about her problems that way. 

"Sophia," she said sternly. "That's not a word we use. The things you think about aren't stupid, honey, and I don't want to hear you call them that. Do you understand me?"

The little whimpered, trying to hide her face again, ashamed at being scolded, even as gently as Lindsey had done it. Lindsey held on, though, refusing to let the weepy girl retreat into herself and not talk about whatever it was that she needed to talk about to feel better.

"It's okay, baby girl," said Lindsey softly, stroking a lone tear away from her charge's eye. "You can tell Auntie anything, no judgment. I won't tell sissy, or Mark, or anybody! It'll stay between you and me, okay?"

"Promise?"

Lindsey nodded, sitting back down at the picnic table with Sophia on her lap, hoping that she could get the girl to open up while they still had this relative privacy. Once they got back to the hotel, Lindsey would probably have to be in full-time Auntie mode, putting Morgan and Sophia down for their naps and making sure Morgan was following proper postgame protocol, and that Sophia got to her appointment with the trainers to check on her injury, and any number of other things. Basically, once they left this playground, the chances she would have to get the truth out of Sophia would be relatively limited.

"I promise, kiddo! Now, tell Auntie Linds what's going on in that cute little brain of yours!"

Sophia thought for a minute. She needed to find the right words to say this, which would have been hard even when she was big, but in littlespace was like asking her to do a backflip off the stands and land on her feet. Finally, she decided that she just needed to say it, 'cause otherwise she'd prob'ly cry again, and that wasn't fun for anybody! 

"I sad," she started, and Lindsey cooed and rocked her softly.

"I'm sorry, baby," she said. "Is there anything in particular that's making you sad?" 

Sophia gave a little nod- there was, but she couldn't say it without sounding horrible and mean and like the biggest baby in the whole wide world! 

But as she looked up at the concerned face of the woman who had been so good to her these past few months, not mean to her like she had worried might happen 'cause she was the reason Auntie Lindsey and her baby Emmy couldn't be in the same place anymore, she couldn't keep it a secret.

"I's supposed ta be the best," she whimpered. "I was n-n-number one!"

Immediately, she felt like the worst, most selfishest human in the entire world. No, the entire galaxy! She was bein' stupid, and Auntie Lindsey was gonna yell at her and call her a bad baby and then she wouldn't have any friends 'cause-

Lindsey stroked her back gently, almost able to hear the runaway train in Sophia's mind. She shushed her gently, holding the little girl's hand tight as she tried to soothe her before she could start crying.

"Oh, kiddo," cooed Lindsey. "Are you upset that you couldn't play?"

Sophia nodded- that was only part of the reason, but it was definitely something that was making her sad! She wanted to play, and she didn't like being on the sidelines just watching, especially when she was s'posed ta be the one who came in to bring new life to the team! But that position, it seemed to her (and therein lay her true reason for weeping on Auntie Lindsey's lap instead of playing on the playground) had been filled. 

Auntie Lindsey, despite having not gone to college, had no trouble figuring that out.

"Baby," she said. "Tell me the truth, okay? Are you feeling a little bit jealous of sissy?"

With a sob, Sophia nodded into Lindsey's shoulder, refusing to look at anyone or anything except for the inside of her eyelids, which couldn't glare at her or yell at her. She was so bad! She was so selfish, 'cause she was the number one draft pick and she was jealous that Morgan had scored a goal before she did! And in such an important game that she hadn't even gotten to play in! Lindsey rocked her gently, glad that Kling and Sinc had distracted Morgan for the moment, as she cooed comforting words into her ears.

"That's okay, baby. It's okay to be jealous, Soph. Really, it is. I understand, believe me. But honey, there's something I know that you know, but I think I want to tell you anyway. So, can you look at me for a moment?"

Sophia steeled herself as she pulled her face out of Lindsey's shoulder, expecting to see anger but instead finding only concern (and relief, that Sophia's mood wasn't based on her being injured).

"Kiddo," said Lindsey. "I know you're jealous. But we're a team, and we play for each other, okay? I know what it feels like to want a goal for yourself but, let me ask you: would you have been happier if sissy didn't score?"

Immediately, Sophia shook her head. That was ridiculous! If sissy hadn't scored, then they might not be going to the next round, and she would have no more chances to play at all, and all her teammates would be sad that they had to go home! 

"Exactly, baby," said Lindsey. "That's because you're a good teammate, and you want the team to succeed! I know that jealousy is an icky feeling, but let me tell you a secret- when you score your first goal, everyone's going to be so happy too! And me and sissy will be cheering for you the loudest out of anyone! Does that sound good?"

Sophia nodded, allowing a little smile to creep onto her face- Morgan had looked so happy when she scored, and she couldn't wait to feel that herself, couldn't wait to help the team win games! 

"Uh huh," she said, just as Sinc approached, carrying a very tired Kling in her arms and holding Morgan's hand. The younger girl seemed to be drooping as well, and Lindsey knew that it was definitely time for two little someones to take their naps before they all watched the game together tonight! 

"Can you hold onto my back like a little monkey while I carry sissy?"

Sophia nodded, getting herself settled on Lindsey's back so that the older woman could pick up Morgan and carry her back towards the hotel. She smiled as she saw Sophia's hand reach out and pat Morgan's hair, because she knew that everything would all be okay with her two little rookies. 

Chapter Text

"Why won't she talk to me?"

Rachel could tell that Sam was practically on the brink of a panic attack, but she didn't know what to tell the pacing woman. If Kristie didn't want to talk, then she wasn't going to be talking, and no one could make her. The last the Englishwoman had seen of her girlfriend, the elder Mewis had been screaming for everyone to leave her alone (scaring Dexi a bit), and Rachel had heard several slamming doors as Kristie had rushed upstairs, trying to get away from everyone else before she burst into tears, because she didn't like this. She couldn't handle this!  

"I don't know," Rachel said to Sam, handing her a mineral water from the fridge. "I wish she'd just get over herself right now, to be honest. This is a great opportunity for you, and... I don't know what to say, honestly. If you want, I can go try and talk to her."

Sam shrugged, sitting gingerly on the couch and scratching Dexi behind the ears as the dog jumped up onto her. (At least someone was excited to see her, thought Sam bitterly). She wanted to talk to her sister, but it didn't look like that was going to be happening anytime soon. If there was one thing she remembered from their childhood, it was that Kristie had the ability to stay angry for quite some time. She figured that she might as well let Rachel try, though. It wasn't like she had anywhere to be for a while.

Rachel climbed the stairs, listening for any sounds that might indicate where Kristie was. She's heard at least two doors, slamming in quick succession, so her girlfriend was probably in a closet somewhere. She rolled her eyes as she thought about that- Kristie was behaving like such a fucking child, and it was honestly starting to piss Rachel off. Sam had been so excited about this, and now that excitement was being dampened by Kristie throwing some sort of juvenile temper tantrum. 

"Kristie? Honey, come out." 

She hoped that the sound of her voice would draw her girlfriend out of her hiding place, but it didn't. Stopping moving for a second, she listened more carefully to the rooms around her, and her ears picked up the faint sounds of whimpering from behind the closed bathroom door. Opening it, the sounds grew louder. Kristie was in the linen closet and, by the sound of it, she was crying. 

"Kristie, for fuck's sake," said Rachel. Normally she would have been more sympathetic when her girlfriend was clearly upset, but she didn't even know what the problem was here. Sam was just going to England. That was all. It wasn't like it was the end of the universe. Her brother certainly hadn't reacted like this when she came to the States.

She pulled open the closet door, preparing to let her girlfriend know that she had better get her ass downstairs and congratulate her sister, when she noticed that some things were... a bit off. 

First of all, Kristie, when not in the mood to talk, would normally have told her so, maybe with expletives if Rachel had asked multiple times. Instead, not even acknowledging that her girlfriend had found her, she just kept crying, tears dripping down her face and onto the second thing which raised an alarm bell.

Kristie was also clutching her teddy to her chest, sobbing into his soft fur. She was holding tightly to the bear as if he was her lifeline, her only comfort in the world, and she looked to be about one false word away from breaking into a complete tantrum, featuring failing limbs and the probable destruction of at least one towel or washcloth, as well as the wall or closet door.

"Honey," said Rachel, softening her voice when she addressed to her clearly little girlfriend. "Can you come out?"

Kristie shook her head with a sob, trying to retreat further into the cozy nest of towels and sheets that she had created f