“Tobin!” Vlatko calls, strolling over to where half the team sits on the bench while tomorrow’s starters finish running through a few last minute drills on the field.
“Yeah, coach?” she answers, sitting a little straighter.
“How do you feel about doing press tonight?”
Tobin’s stunned a minute, then coughs, clearing her throat again to buy herself a minute and attempt to mask the shock she’s sure is apparent on her face. “I’m sorry?”
“You up to doing press?” he repeats, thankfully distracted by some brief yelling coming from the field and not noticing Tobin’s awkward reply.
“Um, I mean, tonight?”
“Well, yeah,” Vlatko answers. “Gotta get everybody pumped up for the game tomorrow, right?”
“Sure…” Tobin hedges. “I mean, that’s not usually...we tend to just chill the night before a game, conserve energy, you know?”
“Yeah, sure, I get that,” Vlatko studies her a minute, furrowing his brows. “That’s why I asked you? I didn’t want one of our starters to have to take care of it herself.”
Tobin coughs again, averting her eyes and rubbing at the back of her neck. She knows she’s turning red, and she feels like this conversation is very quickly becoming something she’ll need to report and she hates that because she likes Vlatko and his coaching has been so good for the team, but…
“Tobin? Did you hear me?”
“Yeah, yeah. I mean, of course. I, um, wouldn’t want her to have to, uh...you know. Not when we’re here together anyway.” She laughs nervously. “It’s not like when I’m in Portland and she-”
“She?” Vlatko interrupts.
“What about her?”
Now Tobin’s even more confused. “She’s, uh, she’s in the starting lineup?”
“Right,” Vlatko agrees. “But not just her. I was hoping you could do them all a favor?”
Tobin blinks, once, twice, three times. “I’m sorry, what? Me?”
“You’re a leader on this team, Tobin. A talented, popular, veteran player. And your muscle tweak means you’ll be seeing minimal minutes, if any, so I’m not as worried about you resting tonight. You seem like a logical choice.”
She stands straighter. “Sir, I’m not exactly sure what you’re implying, but-”
“Tobin,” he interrupts again. “It’s fine if you don’t want to do it. I can ask somebody else. Pinoe!” he calls, motioning her over from the other end of the bench. “I would have asked her initially,” he continues. “But that tongue of hers, you know? Could get us all in trouble.”
“I’ll do it!”
“Do what?” Megan asks, joining them.
“Press,” Tobin clarifies. “I can’t promise anything beyond that.”
“That’s all I’m asking,” Vlatko shrugs. “Thank you.”
Megan turns to her, surprised. “You hate reporters.”
Tobin stops, eyes wide, and feels all the blood drain from her face as she replays the conversation back in her head. “Media,” she whispers. “Jill always called it media.”
Vlatko frowns. “What did you think I- oh. Oh, no no no. Tobin, I’m sorry. I don’t want you to do Press!” He rubs a hand over his face. “I mean, I don’t care! You two do whatever you want on your own time.” His face screws up. “I’m going to stop talking now.”
“Oh, this is gold,” Megan smirks, looking back and forth between them.
“Can we never speak of this again?” Tobin asks.
“Never,” Vlatko agrees.
“Not a chance,” Megan chimes in.
Christen is surprised when Vlatko informs them that Tobin will be joining up with them later at the hotel since she’s staying back to do media, but she definitely still notices how hard he blushes.
It’s nothing compared to the shades of red she turns on the bus ride back when Megan shares the story with anyone who will listen.