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If The World Was Ending

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Three loud beeps on the radio shake Christen out of her thoughts.

 

We interrupt your scheduled programming.  This message is broadcasted by the request of the Los Angeles Police Department and the National Weather Service.  A sharp increase in seismic activity has been recorded in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas,” the recorded voice comes through the speakers of her car.  Christen furrows her brows in confusion, turning the volume up slightly.

 

This earthquake has caused damage to some structures.  The danger from the earthquake may not be over.  If you are indoors…” Christen’s mind starts running wild, only picking up bits and pieces of the rest of the broadcast.

 

She realizes she must have been far enough from the epicenter to feel it.  The fact that she was partially zoned out, sitting distracted in the evening bumper to bumper traffic probably didn’t help either.

 

But now she’s distracted for another reason, mind running with worry about her family and friends, wondering if they’re safe.

 

And of course, wondering about her.  It had been a year since the breakup, but not a day passes that she doesn’t cross Christen’s mind.  Not a day goes by that Christen doesn’t wonder how she’s doing and if she’s okay.  Now, in the middle of an emergency, of course her mind wanders to Tobin.

 

Before Christen can let herself get caught up in her thoughts and emotions of her past, she grabs her phone, immediately pulling up her father’s contact and hitting the call button.

 

The ringing on the other line sounds through the speakers of her car only for a few seconds before she hears her dad’s voice.

 

“Hey sweetie, are you okay?” Cody asks immediately.

 

“I’m fine, Dad.  I’m still on my way home, about forty minutes out, so I didn’t even feel it.   Are you guys all okay there?”

 

“We’re all good here.  It shook us up a bit, especially the dogs when things started falling off the shelves in the living room, but nothing we haven’t been through before.  It was a big one though, I’m surprised you didn’t feel it.”

 

“That’s what the radio was saying.  I must be just far enough out and distracted enough to not feel it.  I’m glad you’re okay.  Have you heard from Tyler or Channing yet?”

 

“Not yet, you were the first one to call.  Are you doing okay though, honey?  I know you well enough by now to know that being distracted means you’ve got a lot going on up in that mind of yours.”

 

“I’m alright, Dad.  Still keeping myself busy and taking things day by day, but I’m getting better, I promise.”

 

“I’m always here for you if you need anything, you know that.  You’re a strong woman and you can make it through anything.”

 

Christen pauses with a small smile on her lips, her eyes a little damp.  “Thank you, Dad.”

 

“Of course, honey.  I should probably check on your sisters though, okay?  Take care of yourself and call me if you need me to come fix anything when you get home.”

 

“I will, thank you.  I love you.”

 

“Love you, talk to you soon.”

 

Christen ends the call with her father, still sitting in the same spot in traffic as she was just a minute earlier when she began the call.  She sighs and runs a hand through her hair, knowing that it’ll probably take her even longer to get home now.

 

She continues to listen to the radio broadcast about the earthquake on a low volume and traffic finally starts moving, even if at a snail’s pace.  She hopes that the rest of her family wasn’t too effected.  Hopes that all of her friends are okay.  Hopes that nothing of value in her home has been damaged.  Hopes that Tobin is safe.

 

Tobin.  It always comes back to her.  She hopes more than anything that she’s okay.

 

Christen lets herself wonder what Tobin would have been doing when she felt it, if she even did feel it.  Which leads herself to wonder if she’s even still in town.  They had planted roots together, but that doesn’t mean Tobin stayed.  Last Christen heard from Kelley, she still has a house in town, but Tobin was always one to wander, especially when she didn’t have anything – or anyone – grounding her.

 

Maybe Tobin was at the bar when it happened, still there drinking with friends after the Arsenal game that afternoon.  They tended to do that often when they were still together.  They’d walk to the small sports bar around the corner and stay there for hours, no matter the result of the game, having drinks with friends and just reveling in each other’s presence.

 

---

 

Christen still remembers the first time Tobin took her to that bar to watch a game years ago.  They spent the late morning getting ready, Tobin insisting they wear the red and white jerseys that she had gotten for the both of them.  Christen couldn’t say no to Tobin’s bright smile and the way she practically bounced around their apartment due to excitement. 

 

The excitement only grew after the Gunners won their game, and Tobin convinced Christen that they should stay at the bar for more drinks, inviting some of their teammates to come down and join them in celebration. 

 

Christen remembers the way Tobin’s hand felt on the small of her back as they all stood around the pool table with the other girls.  She remembers the sound of Tobin’s laughter at the ridiculous things Kelley would say, and how that sound only grew throughout the evening after having multiple rounds of beer.  She remembers Tobin’s scent, that is so uniquely her, mixed with a trace of leather from the jacket she wore.  She breathed in the scent every time Tobin would lean in with a wide grin for a chaste kiss, before turning her attention back to their group of friends.  Christen remembers everything about Tobin. 

 

They had eventually made their way back to their apartment some hours later during the night, still tipsy from a full day of drinking.  They were both exhausted, but the good kind, where they’d cuddle on the couch watching a movie until they’d fall asleep tangled up in each other with smiles on their faces.

 

It wasn’t until later that night, after they had woken up on the couch and decided to get ready for bed, that Tobin first uttered those three words.  They were brushing their teeth, making faces at each other in the mirror with toothpaste plastered around their mouths.  Tobin kept bumping Christen with her hip in an attempt to make her laugh out loud, never taking her eyes off of her in the mirror.

 

Tobin finished first and cleaned off the leftover toothpaste with her hand towel, before turning and resting backwards against the countertop.  She waited for Christen to finish and then pulled her between her legs and wrapped her strong arms around Christen’s shoulders.

 

“Thank you for coming today,” Tobin said softly into Christen’s curls, still not letting go of her girlfriend.  “I’ve never had that much fun there before.”

 

Christen pulled back slightly and Tobin’s hands dropped to her waist.

 

“Thank you for taking me, I had a lot of fun.  I’m glad I got to experience that with you.”  She brought her hands to either side of Tobin’s jaw and used her thumbs to stroke her cheeks, before gently leaning in for a soft kiss.

 

When they pulled away, Tobin let a small close-mouthed smile play on her lips.  Christen kept her left hand on Tobin’s jaw, while moving her right to play with the soft baby hairs on the back of her girlfriend’s neck.

 

“I love you, Christen,” Tobin exhaled quietly, her brown eyes holding all of the gentleness in the world within them.

 

It was Christen’s turn to let a small smile spread on her face, leaning forward to rest her forehead against Tobin’s.

 

“And I love you, Tobin,” she whispered, using her hand to pull Tobin forward, gently guiding their lips together once more.

 

---

 

Christen inhales deeply through her nose, then exhales through her mouth, trying to bring herself back to reality.  She doesn’t remember the stop and go of traffic that led her a few miles further down the highway, all she knows is that her eyes are a bit wetter now and her heart a little heavier.

 

She’d be lying if she said she never lets herself go back to those times, but after a year of being alone, it happens less and less.  Sure, she still has her ups and downs, but lately had been more good than bad.  She has her family to thank for that, as well as some of the best friends in the world and a great therapist, too.

 

She’s had time to process what went wrong and why, but it doesn’t make the heartbreak any easier.  She’s just gotten used to carrying it around.

 

She wonders if Tobin still thinks of her, especially the way she herself thinks of Tobin.  She wonders if Tobin still needs her in times like this, when the world rears its head and literally shakes the world from under them.  She wonders if like herself, Tobin would give anything to spend just one more night together, wrapped up in each other.

 

Traffic starts picking up to a normal pace and Christen looks at the clock on her dash.  She ponders what would happen if she made a quick detour through Tobin’s neighborhood, just to see if everything there was okay.  She knows where it is due to Kelley’s big mouth, and she might have even driven by it once or twice a few months after they had broken up.  She had debated internally with herself for days before actually doing it, not wanting to seem like a stalker, but for some reason it brought her peace of mind to know that Tobin was still only a few miles away.

 

She gets anxious at the thought, though, knowing that she hasn’t driven that way in months.

 

Maybe Tobin was home when she felt the earthquake, propped in front of the TV in her grey Nike sweats that she loved to lounge around in, or at least she did when they were together.  Christen had gotten them for her as a gift a few years ago, so it wouldn’t surprise her if Tobin no longer had them.

 

And if Tobin was home, then what?  It’s not like Christen would see her.  She wouldn’t be able to truly tell if she was actually safe.  She wouldn’t know if anything had fallen around her in her house.  She wouldn’t know if she was hurt.  She wouldn’t know if she sliced her hand open after picking up a broken picture frame that had fallen to the ground during the shaking.  All she knows is that if there was a broken picture frame, it wouldn’t be a picture of the two of them.  Not like the one Tobin used to keep on her nightstand when they were together, Christen showing off her golden engagement ring, the sunset making the diamond sparkle even in the stillness of the picture.

 

Before Christen can fully process what she’s doing, she pulls off of the highway and on to the exit that will lead her towards Tobin’s house.

 

 

---

 

 

 

Tobin has to steady herself with both hands on her kitchen island as the ground shakes violently beneath her.  She knows well enough that she’s supposed to get under something that could cover her, but she’s too shocked to move.

 

She hears some things falling from various rooms of the house, hoping that she won’t have too big of a mess to clean up.  She’s always prided herself in being calm and collected, this moment being no different, and she keeps her breathing even as she tries to focus on her hands planted on the smooth surface in front of her.

 

But her focus is quickly consumed with thoughts of Christen and if she’s okay.  If she’s home and if she’s safe.  Tobin knows earthquakes scare Christen, no matter how big or small.  She always found something unsettling about them – maybe due to the fact that the ground was quite literally unsettling beneath them.  They had only ever experienced one together, but Tobin spent the rest of the day easing her worries.  She reassured her that things would be okay, even after Christen had spent time on the phone with each of her family members, making sure that they were safe.  Christen was a worrier, that’s just who she was, but Tobin was always there to help ease her qualms with her calm demeanor. 

 

It only lasts about ten seconds, but to Tobin it feels like minutes before the ground finally stops shaking.  Her eyes scan the kitchen for any real dangers, relieved when most things seem to be in order.  She grabs the ceramic fruit bowl that was jostled out of place and pulls it back to the middle of the island counter before making her way into the living room.

 

She notices that one of her own art pieces has fallen over, and her PlayStation controller fell off the side of the coffee table in front of the couch.  She puts both things back where they belong and makes her way through the rest of the house, picking up things here and there, but thankful that nothing was damaged.

 

She places her hand on the doorknob to the one room she hasn’t checked yet and sighs before pushing the door open.  She knows immediately this is where most of the crashing sounds came from.

 

The first thing that catches her eye is her Olympic gold medal lying on the ground across the room, the case it normally sits in is lying just beside it.  She walks over and bends down to pick it up, still surprised to this day about how heavy it feels in her hands.  She places it back on the shelf with the case, propping it open like it used to be.  She grabs a few of the other trophies that has been knocked to the ground and puts them back in their original positions, as well.

 

She turns around to look at the wall behind her and notices that the jersey case with a signed Ronaldinho jersey has been knocked to the ground.  She’s grateful that it has an acrylic door and not a glass one that would have broken in the fall.  She hangs it back up on the nails in the wall, making sure it’s even, then turns to make sure nothing else in the room is out of place.

 

She almost exits the room, content that everything is back in order, but her movement causes her to catch a reflection of light under her desk.  She walks over and pulls the chair back, noticing that there are shards of glass littering the floor and she’s glad she’s wearing slides to protect her feet.

 

It takes her a moment to realize what had happened and is hesitant to take care of the mess when it hits her.  Even though the picture frame is face down on the floor, she knows exactly which one it is.

 

It was a frame she had turned around on her desk, not able to look at it anymore, but she couldn’t bear to get rid of it.  She didn’t know why she even unpacked it when she moved into this house, but it felt better than throwing it away or leaving it boxed up somewhere.  It was one of the major reasons why she never came in this room anymore.  That, and the fact that all of the trophies and medals on various shelves in the room reminded her of her lost love.

 

She runs a hand through her hair and contemplates just leaving the frame where it is, walking out, and closing the door behind her.  But she can’t do that.  She’s left too many messes in her wake in the past.  This is one she’s able to clean up.

 

She slowly reaches for the frame and picks it up, closing her eyes for a moment before turning it over.  Her breath still catches in her throat when she sees the picture, even after all this time.  Even after looking at it next to her bed every night for two years when they were still together.

 

The way the ring shines on Christen’s hand, even in the picture, still amazes her.  But what takes her breath away the most is the smile on Christen’s face.  During all of their years together, she can’t remember a time where Christen’s smile had been so big and so genuine.

 

---

 

As much as Tobin was normally calm, cool, and collected, she was nervous as hell that day.  She remembers standing in Kelley’s kitchen, as she and her best friends packed up food and supplies for later that evening.

 

“Harry, you’ve got to get it together, child,” Allie said as she planted her hands on Tobin’s shoulders, shaking her a bit.  “If you don’t, Chris is going to know something is up.”

 

“I can’t help it,” Tobin whined, but she knew her best friend was right.  Her girlfriend had gotten to know her so well after spending so many years together that she would immediately sense if something was off.

 

“We’ve been through this a hundred times, you’re going to be fine,” Allie confirmed and rubbed Tobin’s shoulder soothingly before going back to packing the cooler.

 

“You know she’s going to say ‘yes’ anyway,” Alex rolled her eyes.  “You guys are practically married already.  You two would do anything for each other.”

 

“Seriously, it’s kind of gross, dude,” Kelley piped in, which led to a smack on the arm from Alex.

 

“But what if she doesn’t like the ring?  What if she doesn’t like the way I do it?  What if I don’t remember what I was going to say?” Tobin worried.

 

“First of all, she’ll love the ring,” Alex reassured her.  “Second of all, she’ll love the way you’re doing it.  And third of all, even if you forget what you wrote, just speak from the heart.  You don’t have to have a dramatic speech for her to know that you love her.  You show her that every day.  This ring is just a promise that you’ll continue to do that until you guys are old and grey.”

 

“And then dead,” Kelley quipped in again, earning yet another smack from Alex.  “It’s true!  True love doesn’t stop just when you get old.  You’re promising until death do you part.”

 

“We’re not getting married quite yet, Kel,” Tobin informed her.

 

“Yeah, but this is a promise that you will be,” Kelley raised an eyebrow in challenge, but Tobin just sighed and ran a hand through her hair.

 

Even after four years of dating, Tobin still worried that something would go wrong that evening and she’d lose the love of her life.  That if everything isn’t perfect, Christen would say ‘no.’

 

She told herself not to be so dumb, though, knowing that Christen had stuck with her through thick and thin for all of those years.  That no matter what, Christen would always love her.

 

“Alright guys, let’s get this show on the road!” Allie called to the rest of the group as she wheeled the cooler towards the front door.  The rest of the girls followed, bags and assorted other items in hand.

 

Tobin had to swing back by their house to pick up Christen before they made their way to the beach.  It was late in the day and the meet-up was under the pretense of a beach cookout and bonfire with their closest group of friends.  Which technically was going to happen, but Christen was unaware that their families and more friends would also be showing up later, after the sun set.

 

Tobin and Christen met the other three girls at the beach, who had already gotten most things set up.  They were waiting on the rest of the group to trickle in, and needed to wait on Ashlyn and Ali to show up so Ashlyn could man the grill.

 

It took a bit of planning, but Tobin had convinced most of their friends and teammates to come into town a bit earlier than normal before their National Team Camp.  Christen hadn’t thought much of it, figuring everyone just wanted a few extra days to settle in or that they had work to attend to.

 

Tobin had calmed herself enough that Christen didn’t pick up on any nervous energy, but Tobin could feel her heart race in her chest every time she played with the ring that was secure in her pocket.

 

Once Ashlyn and Ali had arrived and the food was cooked and quickly devoured, they all spent a few hours laying in the sand and playing in the water.

 

Tobin got more nervous as the day went on, but tried to keep her cool in front of Christen.  Once everyone was back in dry clothes and setting up the wood for the bonfire, Tobin asked Christen if she wanted to take a stroll down the beach to watch the sunset.

 

“Are you okay, babe?” Christen questioned with concern in her eyes, lacing her fingers with Tobin’s as they walked close to the water, away from their group of friends.  “You’ve been a little quiet today.”

 

“Yeah, I’m okay,” Tobin gave her best reassuring smile.  “Just taking it all in.  I’m glad everyone is here.  I’m excited for training to start again.”

 

“Me too,” Christen smiles and leans in to give Tobin a quick kiss as they continue down the beach.

 

They walked until Tobin felt they had given themselves enough distance between them and the group, but still close enough that they could see the girls and faintly hear when they got loud, probably at Kelley’s attempt to get them to all shotgun another beer.

 

Tobin tugged at Christen’s hand as she nodded her head to a spot in the sand where they could sit.  She sat first and pulled Christen in next to her, wrapping her right arm around her girlfriend’s waist.  They were close enough to not have to say a word, just enjoy their surroundings.

 

“It’s so beautiful,” Christen spoke softly, breaking the silence after a few minutes.  Her eyes were still fixated in front of them, watching as the sky started turning magnificent shades of orange.

 

“Not as beautiful as you,” Tobin turned her head to look at her girlfriend and rocked her body sideways slightly to nudge her.

 

“You know, years ago I never would have guessed you’d be the cheesy one in this relationship,” Christen chuckled as she turned her head to face Tobin.

 

“Hey now, I’ve always been cheesy when it comes to you,” Tobin smiled, showing her laugh lines around her eyes.  “That’s why you love me.”

 

“That is one thing I love about you, you’re right,” Christen smiled back and leaned in to give Tobin a peck on the lips.

 

“Just one?  You mean you love more things about me?” Tobin asked in pretend shock with her eyebrows raised.  “Like what?”

 

Christen giggled and rolled her eyes, knowing she set herself up for that one.

 

“Well, I love the way you take care of me, no matter what.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a good day or bad day, you’re always attentive to me and my needs.  I love how absolutely selfless you are.  I love how extremely talented you are and always do everything to the best of your abilities.  I love that you’re an amazing daughter, sister, aunt, and role model.  I love that…” Christen got cut off by a kiss before she could continue and she let her eyes flutter closed.

 

Tobin placed a hand on Christen’s cheek and stroked gently with her thumb as she kissed her.  She didn’t know how she got lucky enough for Christen to love her, but she knew it was the one thing she never wanted to lose.

 

“You want to know what I love about you?”  Tobin asked, a bit breathlessly, after pulling back from the kiss.

 

“Of course,” Christen smiled and leaned her head against Tobin’s shoulder, looking back out to watch the sky continue to change colors over the water.  She felt Tobin place a soft kiss to the top of her head before she started.

 

“I love how you are so stunningly beautiful, on the inside and out.  I love how you make me want to be a better person, day in and day out.  Your passion for life is infectious and it makes me want to be the best me that I can be.  I love how kind you are, even to people who don’t deserve it sometimes.  I love that you strive to make the world a better place each and every day.  You’ve taught me so much about compassion and giving back and we’ve created so many experiences and memories that I never would have had the chance to do if it wasn’t for you.”

 

Tobin tried to slide her hand into her pocket without moving Christen too much, who was still perched on her shoulder.  But in the sitting position, Tobin had a hard time finding the ring with her fingertips and Christen lifted her head.

 

Tobin took the moment to rise up to her knees, giving her better access to her pocket as she shuffled closer in front of Christen.  Christen just looked at her in confusion.

 

“I love the way that you never give up on me, no matter how difficult I can be,” Tobin started again as she pulled the ring out of her pocket.  As soon as she did, Christen’s eyes caught what she has pinched between two fingers and her eyes wildly moved between the ring and Tobin’s eyes.

 

Tobin raised a foot and planted it in the sand, keeping one knee down, so she was in the traditional proposal position.  Christen’s mouth opened in shock and she quickly brought a hand up to cover it, tears welling in her eyes.

 

“I love the love that we share together and I never want to have to live another day of my life without it,” Tobin’s voice started to crack as she became emotional.  “You are the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.  So Christen, would you do me the honor of allowing me to be your wife?  Will you marry me?”

 

It took a few moments for the shock to wear off before Christen launched herself forward and wrapped her arms around Tobin’s neck.

 

“Yes!  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes,” she cried and felt Tobin’s arms wrap around her back.

 

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Tobin chuckled, releasing her girlfriend – now fiancé – from her arms and holding the ring up higher.

 

Christen held out her left hand and wiped a tear away with her right as Tobin slipped the diamond ring on her finger.

 

“It’s so beautiful, Tobin,” she said as she held her hand closer to her face to study the ring.

 

“Hey now, what did I say before about you being the beauty here?”

 

Christen could only laugh and shake her head before pulling Tobin in for another kiss.

 

The pair spent another few minutes to themselves, their kisses conveying every ounce of love that they shared together.

 

Tobin finally convinced Christen to head back to the group, telling her that the girls would want to see the ring while they still had a little bit of light left.

 

The group all screamed in excitement as they saw Tobin and Christen walking back hand in hand, knowing that the proposal had gone well, unlike all of the different scenarios Tobin kept throwing around for a week previous.

 

Alex made Tobin and Christen pose for a few pictures.  Tobin’s favorite was the two of them with the sunset in the background, Tobin standing behind Christen with her arms wrapped around her waist, and Christen holding up her left hand with the ring reflecting the orange and purple hues of the sky.  Both of their faces wearing the biggest smiles possible, showing how incredibly happy and in love they were.

 

Shortly after, the rest of the invited crew showed up, which included both Tobin’s and Christen’s families, as well as some of their other teammates.

 

To Tobin, the night seemed to both fly by and stand still.  She had never been happier than she was in that moment.

 

That night, after being dropped off at their home by a sober teammate, and their car by another, they didn’t even make it past the kitchen.  They were so full of love and passion (and quite a few drinks) that they let their touches convey all of their emotions that their inebriated minds couldn’t.

 

---

 

Tobin doesn’t even realize she’s crying until she’s pulled out of her thoughts by the sound of her doorbell.

 

She doesn’t move, figuring it’s just a neighbor stopping by to check that everything is okay after the quake.

 

She wipes the tears from her face and rubs her eyes with the heels of her hands.  She had been doing better lately, hadn’t had a breakdown like this in a while.  She still thinks about Christen every day, but she didn’t want to rip her heart out anymore like she once had, not being able to deal with the agonizing pain of heartbreak.

 

The doorbell rings once again and she sighs, figuring the person wouldn’t go away until she came to the door.  Her car was out front and all of her lights were on, so anyone would be able to tell that she was home.

 

She gets to her feet and once again wipes her eyes, making sure to get rid of the remaining moisture with the cuff of her sleeve.  She’s sure her red and puffy eyes would give her away anyway, though.

 

She shuffles down the hallway towards the front door and flips the switch to the porch light.  She can see a small figure standing there through the frosted glass.

 

When unlocks and opens the door, her breath catches in her lungs.  She just stands in shock, wondering if her memory from just moments before has her eyes betraying her.

 

“Hi,” Christen breathes out softly, her eyes showing her own surprise.  She was half expecting to not get an answer.  She had already turned around to leave after she rang the doorbell a second time.  She only stopped when the porch light flickered on.

 

“Wha- what are you doing here?” Tobin’s voice sounds strained.

 

“I – I don’t know.  I’m sorry, this is stupid.  I shouldn’t have come,” she turns to leave, her nerves telling her to flee.

 

“No, wait.”

 

Christen turns back around and the two women just stare at each other for a few moments.  Christen takes in Tobin’s appearance, noticing the grey sweats and she dies a little inside.  Then she notices how red and puffy her eyes are.

 

“Are you okay?” Christen asks gently.

 

“I’m- yeah, I’m okay,” Tobin responds, knowing that her eyes are betraying her words.

 

“I just- with the earthquake, you know how I get.  I guess I just got worried and wanted to make sure you were okay.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Tobin…” Christen sighs out and looks at the ground.  She wrings her hands, not knowing what to say.  She couldn’t tell her the truth.

 

“Do you want to come in?”

 

“Oh, no, I just wanted to make sure everything was okay.  I don’t know why I even got out of the car,” Christen shakes her head and closes her eyes, struggling to maintain her composure.

 

“Christen, it’s okay.  Are you sure you don’t want to come in?”  Tobin steps to the side and holds her arm out weakly, gesturing into her home.

 

“I- I guess I could come in for a second.”

 

The two make their way into the house and Tobin motions for Christen to sit, so she takes a spot on one end of the couch, but Tobin doesn’t follow suit.

 

“Would you like anything to drink?”

 

“No, I’m okay,” Christen responds, nervously picking at a thread on her jeans before looking up at Tobin who is still standing beside the couch.

 

“I’ll get you a water,” Tobin says knowingly.  She heads to the kitchen and grabs two bottles out of the refrigerator.  She takes a deep breath to try to steady her nerves, wondering how this happened.  How the love of her life was sitting on her couch after a year of being apart.

 

She walks back into the living room and hands Christen a bottle of water, before sitting on the opposite end of the couch, leaving plenty of room between them.

 

“So,” Tobin lets out a deep breath, “how do you know where I live?”

 

“Kelley isn’t really known for her skills in the secret keeping department,” Christen lets out a small chuckle, trying to ease some of the tension in the room.  Tension that she created by showing up randomly to her ex-fiancé’s house.  Her eyes leave Tobin’s to inspect the water bottle in her right hand.

 

“You could say that,” Tobin responds with her own nervous laugh.  Silence falls around them and for the first time she can remember, it’s awkward.  “I’ll admit she’s been keeping me updated, you know, on how you are and stuff.”

 

Christen’s eyes shoot up at that statement, searching Tobin’s for some type of reasoning.  When she doesn’t find any, she asks.

 

“Why?”

 

“Probably the same reason you just showed up on my doorstep,” Tobin responds, still not taking her eyes off of Christen, although her hands fidgeting with the label on her water bottle give away her nerves.

 

Christen doesn’t know what to say to that and it only builds the tension in the air.

 

“I really should get going,” she finally breaks the silence.  She sets the water bottle on the coffee table and stands.  “I was on my way home and knew I’d pass by close to here, I just wanted to make sure everything looked okay, but then I found myself stopping when I saw your car and-,” she cuts herself off, making a beeline for the door.

 

She only stops when she feels a grip on her wrist, pulling her back.

 

“Don’t run away, Chris.”

 

Before either of them know what hit them, their arms are wrapping around each other’s bodies.  Tobin’s arms are still strong and comforting and Christen grips the back of her shirt, letting her tears finally fall.

 

“Shhh, it’s okay,” Tobin soothes her, running a hand up and down her back, trying not to let her own tears fall once again.  After a year of absence, having Christen in her arms still feels so familiar.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Christen chokes out, hands gripping tighter to the back of Tobin’s shirt.  “I’m so sorry, Tobin.”

 

“I’m sorry, too, Chris,” Tobin returns, tears silently staining her cheeks.  “For everything.  But we don’t have to talk about that now, okay?”

 

Christen just nods her head into Tobin’s shoulder.

 

They stand like that for a handful of minutes, Tobin gently rubbing Christen’s back, even going as far as placing a gentle kiss in her curls on the side of her head.  When the tears have slowed and Christen’s grip has loosened, Tobin pulls back to really look at her.

 

Christen’s green-grey eyes are the same as when she fell in love with them, albeit now bloodshot from the crying.  But it makes Tobin wonder how she ever thought that she could live without them.

 

She just didn’t know where to go from here.

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Christen asks cautiously.  “When I got here, you know, you uh, you didn’t really look okay.”

 

Tobin sighs and drops her hands from where they were still placed on Christen’s hips so that she could run a hand through her hair.

 

“You want the honest answer?”

 

Christen just nods gently.

 

“I’ve been doing better lately,” Tobin admits, “but the earthquake knocked some stuff around and I found the picture of us on the beach.”

 

Tobin doesn’t have to say any more, Christen knows exactly what picture she’s talking about.  She saw it sat on Tobin’s nightstand for two years.

 

“You still have it,” Christen states, but Tobin understands it’s more of a question.

 

“It was in my office.  It wasn’t an easy thing to let go of.  You weren’t an easy thing to let go of.”

 

Christen’s eyes meet the floor, tears threatening to fall again.

 

“I know we both had our reasons for ending things,” Tobin continues, “but I still think about you every day.  I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if we didn’t run from our problems.  And I know we can’t just take it all back now, but, I just – I’m still in love with you, Chris.”

 

Christen’s eyes glance back up at Tobin’s, shocked at the words she just heard.  Tobin can only hold contact for a few seconds before tears start welling in hers again.  Her lower lip wobbles and she bites it between her teeth to stop it as she looks down.

 

“Tobin…”

 

“I know.  I know it’s stupid to say that now after everything, but it’s just the truth,” she says shakily and shrugs, eyes coming to meet Christen’s gaze again.  “And by some miracle you’re standing here in front of me when I though I’d never see you again.  So while we’re being honest here, I guess I thought you should know.”

 

“Tobin…” Christen says again, her eyes focused on the ones in front of her.  Only she can’t express the words she needs to say.

 

So instead, she takes a small step forward and cups Tobin’s jaw in her right hand.  Tobin sighs and closes her eyes, leaning into the touch.  It helps boost Christen’s confidence that she didn’t pull away, so she rests her forehead gently against Tobin’s, closing her own eyes for a moment.

 

Until she finally gets the nerve to move her right hand to pull Tobin’s head up slightly, just enough that she’s able to lean in and press her lips gently against hers.

 

The kiss only lasts a few seconds, but is so soft and gentle and forgiving.

 

“I’m still in love with you, too, Tobin.”

 

“Stay with me tonight?”

 

All Christen can do is nod her head.  They’ll figure the rest out tomorrow.