It’s 2020 and they’ve done it. The Olympics are over and there is a gold medal hanging from each player’s neck. The United States Women’s National Team has regained their title. They stand on the podium with pride; their bruised ego a distant memory. While the anthem plays, they look to the flag with hope; hope that they can keep pushing their country in a better direction and keep inspiring women around the world to do more.
The flight home from Tokyo is full of champagne and music. Christen laughs as she watches on. Kelly and Pinoe are in their own drunken worlds as usual. Thank god Kelly didn’t have a concussion this time, she thinks. She turns her head to Tobin who is sat next to her. She seems unnaturally quiet, considering the circumstances.
Christen’s smile falters slightly and she reaches out her hand to grasp Tobin’s.
“What’s going on, babe?” she leans in and whispers softly, to ensure none of their teammates are listening in.
Tobin looks into concerned, green eyes and puts on a small smile.
“I’m just thinking,” she says.
Christen holds back an eye roll, but her smile only widens.
“Well, yes, I can see that, Tobs. But that’s what I’m worried about,” she continues with a giggle, “Tell me what’s going on in that head of yours,” she says, placing her pointer finger lightly against Tobin’s temple.
Tobin pulls away with a laugh.
“Nothing, babe, really. Just happy to be here with you.”
Tobin flashes her million dollar smile and squeezes Christen’s hands to let her know she means it.
“Let’s go join the kids,” Tobin says as she gets up and drags Christen with her, wrapping her arm around her waist.
Christen lifts an eyebrow in curiosity, not sure she’s buying that Tobin’s head isn’t completely elsewhere, but she’ll take it for now. She’s too happy for her team and her girl and her country to really think too much into it.
This time the parade is in the nation’s capital. The president wasn’t invited, but the mayor of DC is present.
The floats have more detail. The streets are crazy. There are cameras everywhere.
When they get to the stage, they’re happy to see the ceremony is open to more people this time around. There’s a huge audience waiting. And the team takes a seat, looking into a massive group of people, the Washington Monument sitting in the background. It’s a picture perfect mural. It’s unreal.
Pinoe takes the mic again, but this time she’s not slurring, thankfully. She thanks everyone for the journey. And continues to inspire the crowd. They erupt in applause. The capital is a very open-minded place to be, after all, apart from the one jerk in the White House (he doesn’t come from here, many fans had reminded them throughout the parade).
“We have another player that would like to speak, and we are so happy to hear from her. We know you guys are going to be really excited for this one.”
Christen’s eyebrows furrow as she hears the announcement from the mayor. Is Alex speaking? She thought Alex said she wanted to keep on the down low this time around, with the baby and everything.
“Tobin Heath, come on up here.”
The crowd loses it. Tobin never speaks. Christen knows this. But she’s finding herself increasingly anxious, because Tobin didn’t even tell her?
She whips her head down to the other side of the row, Tobin always insistent on not sitting together for these things, to focus on the team, but Tobin doesn’t look back at her as she stands up and makes her way to the microphone.
“What the fuck?” she breathes out, not even meaning to curse, or even really speak at all, but it just comes out.
Mal is next to her and places a hand on her knee, and squeezes.
“It’s okay,” she says with a smile and a nod.
Now, Christen’s not just confused, she’s a little bit pissed off. Did everyone know??
“Hey everybody,” Tobin starts, with a small, awkward wave,”I-uh-I don’t normally do this, so bare with me please, as I’m not the best with words. That’s what Pinoe is here for, I guess.”
The crowd laughs and Pinoe shouts “Thanks, Heath. Glad that’s all I’m worth to you.”
“No that’s not what I meant, I mean-ugh whatever, shut up Pinoe,” Tobin says as she waves her off.
The crowd continues to laugh, as Tobin scratches the back of her neck and smiles. The crowd pushes her on with loud shouts and claps of approval.
Dear god, what is happening? It’s all Christen is thinking. She knows Tobin hates speaking in public. She just wants to get up there and save her. Her knee is shaking, but Mal keeps her in place. What could she possibly be doing?
“So, first of all, I just want to say thank you to everyone. Thanks to our fans for supporting us and loving us. This has been an incredible experience and looking out on you all, I am just so proud to be standing here in front of you.”
Cheers explode and Christen’s heartbeat slows down slightly as she sighs. Okay, she can do this.
“After the World Cup last year, everything was kind of a blur. You go through this wild ride, these huge stadiums, millions of people following you, and when you win it all, gosh it’s so crazy, guys,” She says with a small laugh. The crowd joins her and continues cheering.
“So we got home and we went right to New York. And the party continued. But then all the sudden, it crashes. It’s over and people go on with their lives and we go on with ours.”
Christen has no idea where Tobin’s going with this, but she definitely has her attention, as Christen watches on from her seat.
“But, the thing is, last time, while the crash was big for all of us, it was especially big for someone who is very important to me.”
No. She is not doing this right now.
“This person, she went through a lot last year and the energy of the World Cup helped her to put all the bad stuff on hold for a bit. But it...”
Tobin pauses and she takes a breath. Christen is in utter shock right now and Mal only tightens her grip on her leg.
“It broke my heart to see the light fade out when it all came crashing down. I realized we couldn’t live in this dream forever. And this time around, I wanted to make sure to remind her of all the other dreams we have to look forward to. So, Christen, can you-uh, can you come up here for a minute, please?”
The crowd is screaming.
It’s safe to say Christen’s heart is back to full on racing. She’s frozen in place.
“Get your ass up there, Press!” Ashlyn shouts from behind her, giving her shoulder a friendly shove.
“I-“ Christen looks around aimlessly.
“Go on, Christen. It’s just Tobin.” Mal says with a smile.
With that she stands up abruptly and walks towards the front of the stage, where Tobin stands. She’s not really sure what to do, so she waves at the crowd and then holds her hands together in front of her, looking to Tobin, silently begging for guidance.
“Christen,” Tobin begins, speaking into the mic, but eyes locked on green, “We have won two World Cups together. We each have Olympic gold medals. We have accomplished our dreams. But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking...”
Tobin pauses and the crowd roars.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and when this is over, there are other dreams that I really want to fulfill. Now, I know I’m very quiet and very personal and I know that that has been hard for you at times.”
Christen’s eyes widen. What. Is. Happening.
“But even though I’m super private, I’m pretty sure the world already knows I’m in love with you.”
The crowd goes bonkers. Christen’s face is turning bright red and she’s having trouble functioning because she can’t believe Tobin just came out of the fucking closet in front of everyone. She shifts her feet slightly, really unsure of what to do. She’s nervous and excited all at once.
“And right now, the world can know. Because outside of this dream we are living in, we have a whole other life. And I have many more dreams for that life. Those dreams involve starting a family and building a company, and changing the world, with you by my side. But I can’t do any of that, if I don’t start by asking you a single question.”
No. This isn’t happening.
“I know that last time, when this ended, it was hard for you. But I want you to have one hell of a memory to hold onto this time around.”
Tobin walks around the microphone and moves right in front of Christen.
She pulls something out of her pocket and drops to one knee. The crowd loses it.
Tobin lightly takes Christen’s left hand in her own. Christen covers her mouth with her right hand and tears start to form at the corner of her eyes. She’s in disbelief.
Tobin looks up at Christen, flashes the biggest grin, and asks her the question Christen’s been waiting for.
“Christen Press, will you marry me?”
Christen bursts into tears but nods.
“Yes, yes of course,” she says as she continues nodding.
Tobin slides the ring on before standing and pulling Christen into her arms. She lifts her and twirls her, then places the largest, most public smooch right on her lips.
The team is whooping and hollering behind them and there is a crowd of thousands squealing in the background, but they only see each other right now.
Tobin lets Christen down gently, Christen’s arms wrapped around her neck. They smile at each other and Christen just shakes her head, the tips of their noses touching.
“You are very sneaky.”
Tobin smiles. “I’m sorry. I just felt like my future wife deserved a grand gesture.”
“Say it again.”
“My future wife.”
“I love you so much. I can’t wait until you’re my wife. You’re going to give me like six kids right?” Tobin asks.
Christen’s eyes go wide.
“Yeah, I want so many little you’s running around,” Tobin responds making a little hand gesture with her fingers to emphasize a mini Christen running around, “they’d be so fast though- we’d never be able to catch them.”
Christen laughs, “Umm maybe two, three tops?”
“Well, as long as I have one you.”