Tobin isn’t thinking straight.
Portland just lost their semi-final match to Chicago and she’s losing her mind. Mostly because she knew they weren’t going to win—they had been out of sync for weeks and she knew—especially after they gave up the first goal, that they didn’t have it in them this year.
It wasn’t like she gave up—she didn’t not try just because she didn’t think her team could do it. But she would be lying if she said she had confidence going into the game.
That doesn’t take the sting away.
She hates to lose. Especially in front of the home crowd. Hates feeling like she isn’t good enough to make something happen for her team when they need it—hates feeling like she didn’t play the best she could—hates being a loser .
She’s the first one off the field and she’s showered and packed up before most of her teammates have even made their way off the field. Tobin leaves the stadium with a heavy heart—making her way across the street and entering her empty condo. She finds one of the probably twenty stray balls she has thrown about her space and starts juggling it mindlessly as she paces around her bare apartment. She had the necessities—a couch and a tv, a few chairs surrounder her kitchen island and a bed in her room, but she liked space, she didn’t like be crowded by useless belongings that would get in the way of her doing this. Almost anything else in her condo wasn’t put there by her. There are a few plants in random places that Christen convinced her to buy, there is a yoga mat sitting next to her foam roller that Christen keeps there for whenever she’s in Portland, there is a lot of Christen here.
There’s Christen’s clothes and a bit of makeup, there’s a toothbrush for her and her favourite shampoo and conditioner. Christen picked out the bedspread in Tobin’s room because the first time she stayed the night in Tobin’s place she couldn’t believe that Tobin didn’t have an actual blanket on her bed.
There is an essence of Christen that Tobin loves, she can feel her there—picture the other woman waking up before her and doing yoga in the living room before starting a pot of coffee and egging Tobin out of bed.
She can picture them sitting out on the balcony watching the sunrise or the sunset and leaning into each other, fighting the urge to hold hands.
She can picture the last time Christen stayed with her here;
It was after the last Utah and Portland matchup before the World Cup, Christen was staying the night before the two would fly out to France together with Lindsey, Emily, and AD.
Tobin was making popcorn while Christen picked out a movie from her spot on the couch — decked out in Tobin’s clothes from head to toe, including an old UNC sweatshirt that had “Heath 17” printed across the back in Carolina blue.
Tobin couldn’t stop staring. She couldn’t help it. It was hard enough not to stare when Christen was wearing her everyday clothes — but seeing Christen with her name across her back was a whole other story entirely.
The microwave had beeped but Tobin was oblivious, lost in her own thoughts as she admired the beautiful woman laid out on her couch — appreciating the way her too small shorts left her incredible legs on display.
“Tobs? Where’s my popcorn?” Christen fake pouted and turned in time to catch Tobin’s eyes on her body.
Tobin retracted her gaze immediately — turning away and removing the popcorn to poor it into a bowl for them to share.
She missed the way Christen blushed at the realization of what had been distracting Tobin for so long.
Tobin eventually made her way over to the couch — Christen re-adjusted herself to make room for the older woman who left a little more space between them than usual, still flustered after being caught staring.
Christen wasn’t having any of it though — scrunching her nose up before grabbing Tobin’s arm and pulling her closer, throwing the blanket hanging over the back of the couch overtop of both their bodies.
Tobin melted into the touch and eventually wrapped her arm around Christen shoulder so the younger woman could lean into her.
About fifteen minutes into the movie Christen tilted her head up, batting her eyelashes as Tobin. “Can you get me some water Toby?”
Tobin had rolled her eyes — feigning exasperation but knowing full well that she would do or get anything Christen asked no matter what or where it was.
Tobin poured two glasses of water, grabbing a pre-cut lemon slice out of the fridge and wedging it onto Christen’s cup just how she liked it.
Christen’s eyes lit up at the gesture as Tobin placed the water on the coffee table.
“You’re the best, thanks baby.”
Christen’s whole body froze as soon as the word left her mouth.
She had been so careful. There had been a million times over the past couple years that she’s almost said that word. Every time they would hug goodbye, every time Tobin would console her after a loss or praise her after a goal. But she had been so careful to keep it inside.
Tobin felt the same.
She knew that she battled with herself every day, forcing herself to think before she spoke around Christen sometimes so that she wouldn’t slip up like that. She knew that word had been stuck on the tip of her tongue for the past few years around Christen but she didn’t know the younger woman struggled with it just the same.
“I —” Christen opened her mouth to speak but she couldn’t find the words to say and Tobin could practically feel the anxiety radiating from her.
She didn’t want it to happen like this. They were a week away from starting the World Cup, they couldn’t afford to delve into whatever was going on between them right now no matter how badly either of them wanted to.
So Tobin held out her hand. She offered it to Christen as if she was holding something between her fingers, like a piece of paper that didn’t exist.
Christen eyes knotted in confusion, “What’s that?” She asked in a small voice.
“It’s a get out of jail free card…” Tobin offered with a small smile that got a sad chuckle out of the other woman. She often preferred to be on the receiving end of talks like this — never having been good at vocalizing her feelings, but right know she knew Christen needed her to say something. “We should talk about this, I know we both know that. But right now… the world cup starts in a week and I know we both need to be focused. You can give this back whenever you want, whenever you’re ready and we’ll talk, but for right now I just want us to be here together and enjoy these last few days of peace and quiet before France. And then when we’re back if you want to, you can give this back and we can talk about this… about us. I care about you so much and I don’t want you to feel forced into this talk because of something you said mindlessly. And I need you to know that it’s not a bad thing, and it’s not weird to me that it happened because honestly I’ve had to stop myself from calling you names like that more times than I can count. So I want you to take this and hold onto it, and whenever you want — if you want, you can give it back and we’ll talk about it.”
Christen had tears in her eyes as she reached out slowly and plucked the imaginary card from Tobin hands, setting it on the coffee table before reaching out again and falling into Tobin\s awaiting embrace.
“Tobin… I — thank you…”
“You don’t have to thank me Chris…
Everything around her feels like Christen.
The only thing missing from this feeling is Christen actually being there.
Tobin continues to bounce the ball between her feet as she pulls out her phone—there are a dozen messages from people, attempting to console her
Mom: I love you darling, you were the best as always, we all can’t wait to see you soon<3
Cheney: Good show tonight T, love and miss you… hope we can get together this offseason:)
But only one matters to her right now—
CP: Good game T...at least we can be losers together this off-season?;) Don’t be too hard on yourself, you played amazing.
Tobing doesn’t know what makes her do it—well,
that’s a lie.
She knows exactly why she does it.
She does it because she’s in love with Christen.
Does it because there is only one person she wants to see right now.
So she pulls out her computer and books a single ticket flight from LA to Portland for that night.
It’s crazy—she knows it is, know’s Christen will think it is. It’s nearing 9 o’clock and it’s just— it’s crazy.
But she thinks—she thinks that Christen will come anyway.
She would fly to Christen, but she’s staying with her sister and she doesn’t want to show up unannounced—she also wants Christen alone, because maybe—maybe it’s time to let herself have what she’s wanted for years now. Maybe it’s time to stop pretending like Christen isn’t the only person she’ll ever want.
She presses the little green phone next to Christen’s contact—her photo is one of the two of them on the field together in France before the semi-final and the memory makes Tobin forget about how upset she is over the loss.
The phone only rings once before Christen’s voice is clear on the other end.
“Hey T—I was hoping you’d call.” Her voice is sweet and caring and it’s everything that Tobin needs—it sounds like home.
“What are you doing right now?” Tobin asked—biting her lip in anticipation.
“I was just going to run a bath—how come?”
“What if I said I booked you a flight to come visit me…”
“I won’t be offended if you’re not on it—but I miss you and you’re kind of the only person I want to see right now. I know that we have camp soon but I don’t want to wait, you could come to stay for a while and then we can fly to wherever the game is, together…” Tobin rambles and she’s starting to regret her decision because if Christen says no—even though she’ll understand, it will hurt.
“You’re crazy Tobs…” Christen’s voice sounded like it was battling with itself over what to do.
“Please?” Tobin’s voice was small and nervous. She actually can’t remember the last time she was this nervous about something. She knows that Christen hasn’t been avoiding bringing up there conversation before the World Cup—it’s just that time since June has all blended together and there really hadn’t been a good moment for the two of them to sit down and talk.
There was a brief silence over the phone and Tobin held her breath as she waited for Christen’s response. She could practically see the small crease formed between Christen’s eyes that always made an appearance when she was deep in thought. She could see her bottom lip pulled between her as she contemplated her decision—can see her looking at Tobin with her big green eyes...
They had stayed with each other before, used each other's apartments instead of team hotels when they were in Portland or Utah. For the past two years whenever they had the opportunity to pick roommates during camps they would stay together. So it wasn’t the fact that Christen would be staying with Tobin. It was that they were currently in different states and Tobin was asking her to fly to Portland in the middle of the night to see her because “she missed her”. And that meant something.
It meant that they really had to stop pretending that they were only friends.
“What time is my flight?” Christen whispered, pulling a hoodie over her head and throwing whatever clothes were laying around into a bag—knowing that she would just wear Tobin’s clothes—like she always did.
“Eleven-thirty.” Tobin smiled wider than she thinks she ever had. She knew that Christen saying yes meant something—she knew that her best friend getting on a plane in the middle of the night to come and see her meant that things were about to change.
“Pick me up at the airport?”
“Do you think I would let you uber in the middle of the night?”
“Just making sure.” Christen teased as she made her way to Channing’s room, hoping that her sister would take her to the airport.”
“I’ll see you soon Tobin—I’m just gonna ask Chan to drive me.”
“You don’t have to thank me T… I miss you too.” Christen admits and Tobin feels a weight be lifted from her shoulders as the words sink in.
She’s really coming.
“Christen?” Channing stumbled out of her bedroom, rubbing her eyes as she took in her sister’s appearance and bag—clearly having been woken from a deep sleep.
“Hey Chan I’m uh—I’m going to Portland…will you drive me to the airport?”
Channing’s eyes went wide and she didn’t need any more information.
“You’re going to see Tobin?”
“When did you make those arrangements?”
“When she booked me a flight just now and then asked me to get on it…”
“She booked you a flight without telling you… and you’re getting on it at… sometime after ten pm… no questions asked?”
“I guess so…” Christen’s voice was shaking and realization of what was happening started to set in.
“That’s not what friends do.”
“Are you going to tell her that?”
“You look like you’re going to cry.”
“That’s because I am.” Christen’s voice cracked and she broke down, falling into her sister’s embrace.
“Chris—I know that you’re scared, I know that you don’t want to lose Tobin and that is why this is so nerve-wracking. But Christen, I have seen the way that girl looks at you—seriously, it’s like you hung the moon and the stars and the whole god-damned solar system just for her. She is crazy about you C… and I know that you two have been bestfriends for a while and that this change might seem like it will ruin things but honestly with you two I don’t think that’s possible.”
Christen knew it was time—she knew that they had used excuse after excuse to not delve into their true feelings for one another. She also knew that she would go crazy if they didn’t confront it soon because she had never wanted anybody like this—never lost her mind thinking about someone—never felt so at home with another person like she did when she was with Tobin.
“I’ve gotta get going—will you… will you drive me?.” Christen whispered, wiping away her tears and taking a deep breath as Channing put her hands on either side of Christen’s face.
“Look at me. You are going to get on that plane and fly to Tobin and you are going to tell her how you feel and I guarantee you it will lead to something amazing. You two love each other and nothing bad is going to come from admitting that—she’s a great person C, we all love her, you know mom loved her, you know she’s the only person you want.”
Two and a half hours later and Tobin was smiling wide as she watched Christen enter through her gate.
She looked beautiful—she was wearing sweatpants and a black balenciaga hoodie that definitely belonged to Tobin. She also had on her big clear framed glasses that Tobin absolutely loved—especially the way they looked paired with her wild curls framing her face.
“Hey.” Tobin whispered into Christen’s neck as she pulled her into a tight hug—not really caring about being in public as the airport was all but abandoned at this hour.
She smelled like roses and a hint of coffee—she smelled like home.
“Hey you.” Christen melted into the embrace as she always did when Tobin hugged her. She gave the best hugs. One of Christen’s favourite things was being one of the few people who got to see Tobin behind her laid back and tough exterior that most people saw. She loved getting to see the emotional side of Tobin that was reserved for family and her closest friends.
She loved Tobin.
It was nearly two-o’clock in the morning but both women were wide awake—no doubt their minds were swimming with similar thoughts of what this meant for them.
They also knew they weren’t going to have this talk in the Portland airport—so Tobin took Christen’s carry on bag and carried it to where she had parked, opening the passenger side door for her when they arrived.
They drove mostly in silence, just enjoying the fact that they were together and soaking up the tranquility that always washed over them when they were breathing the same air.
“Where are we going?” Christen questioned when she realized they weren’t heading in the direction of Tobin’s downtown apartment.
“Cannon beach—to watch the sunrise in a few hours… Is that okay?” I brought blankets and pillows so we can put our seats back and sleep for a bit.”
It was kind of their thing—if there was a sunset or a sunrise to be seen from a beach they found themselves there, sitting in silence and fighting back the urge to hold each others hands. It didn’t matter that it was October and that it would be freezing at the beach—didn’t matter that is was two in the morning and that Tobin’s Audi wasn’t exactly built for sleepovers—none of that mattered.
“That sounds perfect T…did you bring—”
“The weighted blanket?” Tobin finished before Christen could say it and she was biting her lip, smiling gleefully that Tobin knew her so well.
“It’s right behind your seat if you want to try and sleep for a bit, it’ll be about an hour forty before we get there and then we’ll have about three and a half hours till sunrise. I also brought a hydro flask of coffee for us to share.”
“I’ll sleep once we get there.” Christen mused calmly, smiling and admiring the way Tobin’s soft brown eyes were being illuminated by the midnight light of the moon.
When Tobin noticed Christen’s gaze trained on her she pulled her lip between her teeth, momentarily contemplated her next move. Before she could stop, she found herself reaching across the centre console of her car and taking Christen’s hand into her own.
It feels dramatic but Tobin doesn’t think she’s ever felt such a spark from something as simple as holding hands. Christen’s hands are soft and her long fingers fit perfectly with her own and it just feels so right.
“I brought something too…” Christen bit her bottom lip between her teeth and reached into her pocket, pulling out nothing—well, not nothing. She held it out in the palm of her hand and Tobin knew immediately what it was.
“I was hoping you’d bring that.” She whispered shyly, squeezing Christen’s hand.
They arrived at Cannon beach around 3:45 in the morning, both still very awake for this hour.
“Wanna go down to the water?” Christen asked after they had parked the car.
Tobin agreed and the two women layered up their clothing before descending down the beach towards the water. Tobin wasted no time in taking Christen’s hand again, allowing their arms to swing loosely between them as they walked.
“Can I talk first?” Tobin asked quietly as they stood at the edge of the beach where the sand met the water, looking out on the dimly lit horizon. “It’s just that I’ve been preparing what I want to say to you since I booked your flight and I just want to make sure I get it all out…”
Christen nodded slowly, wrapping both her arms around Tobin’s right one and leaning into her side.
“I’m done pretending around you…” Tobin starts suddenly. “I can’t pretend that I don’t think of you every waking minute. Can’t pretend like you’re not the person I want to tell everything to—who I want to go to when I’m sad or excited or scared... I can’t keep living my life thinking about how much better my days would be with you as a part of them. I can’t keep waking up disappointed because you’re not there next to me. I can’t keep going to bed at night praying to god that you won’t meet someone else because I’m too afraid to admit that I’m in love with you and have been for years. I can’t pretend anymore that I don’t know that I’ve met the woman I’m going to marry ...”
She hadn’t planned that part. Tobin’s heartbeat accelerated as she and Christen both registered her words.
“Chris I—“ Tobin was going to backtrack, but before she could get the words out Christen arms were around her neck and her lips were on hers.
Soft but needy, and better than anything Tobin ever could have— has, imagined. She never wants to kiss anyone else ever again. She knows that it could never possibly be better than this. Tobin’s arms circle around Christen’s waist and she’s running her hands up and down, overtop of the multiple thick layers. It’s cold outside but she’s running hot through her whole body and she feels on top of the world with Christen’s lips on hers—with her tongue running along her bottom lip and pushing inside her mouth expertly.
Tobin’s been waiting for this for so long that she almost can’t believe that it’s really happening. That Christen’s hands are cupping her face and her blunt nails are dragging lightly over your sharp jaw. You’re intoxicated by the taste of her lips—the airport coffee and the sweet taste of chapstick. You keep holding her tighter and tighter because you’re terrified that if you lose your grip for even a moment she’ll slip away. But then Christen lets out a small moan when you graze your teeth over her lip and you think that maybe she’s as drunk on the feeling of you as you are of her.
She pulls away and her eyes are bloodshot and a darker shade of green than usual and she’s looking at you like something has just washed over her and— “God I love you— I fucking love you Tobin.”
“Yeah?” Tobin asks in the smallest voice and Christen’s eyes soften like she’s just seen the cutest puppy in the world because Tobin’s tongue may have just been down her throat but now she’s looking at her with these big brown eyes and she looks so small.
“Yes. Tobin Powell Heath I have been in love with you for so long. You amaze me, you—you are everything I’ve ever wanted. You’re kind and compassionate and so carefree—something that you bring out in me that I love. Tobin I love you… and I’m done pretending too, there is nobody else that I want—I want to be the person you wake up to and I want to be there for the highs and the lows and everything in between. And I really fucking want to be the one you kiss like that everyday because fuck…” They both laugh and their foreheads are pressed together and nothing has ever felt so right.
“Did you… did you mean that last thing you said… about marrying me?”
Tobin sucks in a shaky breath— there’s no point in lying now. She thinks before leaning in and kissing Christen softly again.
“Yes… You’re it for me Chris… and I know that might be crazy considering that we just admitted our feelings about five seconds ago but—I’m in love with you and I know in my heart that there is no one else for me… it’s just you. I want to be the person who gets to love you forever Christen Annemarie Press. If you’ll have me.”
“I’d have to be crazy not to want that with you Tobin…”
They didn’t stay for the sunrise —
After a few minutes of making out in Tobin’s car they mutually decided with a single look that it was time to go back to Tobin’s apartment.
And that’s where they woke up—with Christen laying naked and half-hazardly on top of Tobin’s body with the big white comforter that she had picked out pulled up to her waist.
They woke up happy and in love and feeling more free than either knew possible.
They were in love—and they didn’t have to pretend anymore.