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Been so long since I seen your face

Or felt a part of this human race

I've been living out of this here suitcase for way too long

A [wo]man needs something [s]he can hold onto

Nine-pound hammer or a woman like you

Either one of them things will do

(Tobin - “Jolene” by Ray LaMontagne)

 

When you came to me

With your bad dreams and your fears

It was easy to see you'd been crying

Seems like everywhere you turn

Catastrophe it reigns

I could hold you in my arms

I could hold you forever

And I could hold you in my arms

Oh I could hold you forever

(Christen - “Hold You in My Arms” by Ray LaMontagne)

 

Tobin hadn’t slept that well since camp.

She hadn’t woken up before sunrise with another nightmare. She hadn’t tossed and turned with anxiety or felt the need to pull on her sneakers and go for a run, just to quiet her mind. Instead, Tobin had sunk into the warmth and the softness and crashed into a night of uninterrupted sleep. She probably would have stayed asleep if it hadn’t been for the stream of light coming into the hotel room from the small crack in the window’s curtains.

Christen’s arms were still around her, still gripping tightly to her t-shirt, sending warmth through Tobin’s entire body. Tobin’s cheek was pressed against Christen’s chest, her face inches from Christen’s collarbone. 

“Is she awake?” Tobin wondered to herself, keeping her eyes closed just in case. She didn’t want this to end. She didn’t want the moment to pass, just like every other moment had. She didn’t want Christen to be angry or distant again. Tobin tried to keep her breathing steady and appear like she was still asleep. Her thoughts were running wild in her mind, her brain trying to catch up with everything that had happened the night before. 

She remembered her nightmare and how she couldn’t reach her family. For a second she thought about pulling away from Christen and checking to see if they were all okay, but Christen’s arms were squeezing her tight, and Tobin knew that if anything had happened, Foudy would be searching for her. Tobin remembered how she’d broken down in front of Christen, essentially not giving her a way out of their conversation, and she felt a soft pang of guilt, worried that she’d pushed again. Christen probably felt obligated to help her because Tobin had broken down. Despite the warmth and the perfection of Christen’s arms around her, Tobin suddenly wondered if she shouldn’t have come to Christen’s room at all. Sure, Christen had finally talked to her and heard what she needed to say, but a small voice in Tobin’s mind whispered that Christen had felt trapped, like she had to listen to Tobin. “What if she’s mad when she wakes up,” Tobin worried, unable to stop her body from tensing at the thought. 

Christen’s first thought was that she couldn’t really feel her arms. They were tired and tingling, still tightly wrapped around...someone.

“Tobin. You’re still holding Tobin,” Christen thought, her sleepy brain not really registering the implications of it. She sunk into the familiar weight of Tobin pressed up against her, the warmth and rightness of it all, a smile playing at her lips.

And then everything from last night came flooding back to her.

Tobin coming to her room. The yelling. The harsh words that turned to hurt ones. The kiss. The tears. The truth. And finally, Tobin’s decision to lean on her, to trust her, to need her.

Subconsciously, Christen squeezed Tobin just a bit tighter to her as her thoughts and feelings did lap upon lap around her brain. Overwhelmingly, she felt guilt. She’d been so angry with Tobin, so cruel and callous, all because she thought Tobin had abandoned her for no good reason, that she’d run away and then broken her heart just because she could. But now, now Christen knew that wasn’t the case. An unimaginable, unspeakably horrific accident rocked Tobin and her family to their very foundation, and Christen had spent the entire summer sulking around because Tobin hadn’t texted her back. 

Christen felt like shit. No, she felt lower than shit. She was fifty feet below shit and still descending. Tobin had been put through the wringer, had been beaten down and challenged in the cruelest way possible, and Christen had the audacity to think only of herself. To lose sleep and shed tears over unreturned phone calls. She’d let her friends be mean, she’d been mean herself. It made her stomach roll just thinking about it.

But Christen also was worried, more worried than she ever had been. Tobin had been going through this alone, she’d had to face this alone. How Tobin had made it through all that and still found it in her heart to fight for her, she’d never know for sure. Tobin had been so strong for so long when she hadn’t needed to be. Christen felt wave after wave of concern, of uneasiness, roll through her. She just wanted to take away every bit of pain, every ounce of hurt she’d seen in Tobin’s eyes, in her tears. 

There was still a part of her that clung to anger. That wanted to sink into the jagged edges of her hurt. But she couldn’t. She was exhausted from trying to cling to the vestiges of her rage, the wind all but gone from her sails now. She had no ground left to stand on, no anger left. It was gone, overtaken by her concern for the girl she still held in her arms. 

Christen ran a hand up and down Tobin’s back softly, not wanting to wake Tobin up, but needing to do something, anything, to offer support, to offer care. She’d missed so many chances, so many opportunities, to be there for Tobin, she wasn’t going to waste this one.

“Do you need your arms back?” Tobin asked, her voice gravelly and thick with sleep. “Your hands are colder than usual.”

Christen startled at Tobin’s words, not expecting Tobin to be awake. She forced her heart rate to settle, her hand to continue its soothing motion.

“No, I’m good. I don’t mind,” Christen hummed.

“I- I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” Tobin whispered. “I’m sorry. I probably kept you up, right before the gam-”

“Tobs, stop,” Christen interrupted gently with a small shake of her head. “I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t want you here. The last thing in the world I’m worried about right now is the game.” 

Tobin’s heart thudded harder in her chest, and she was positive that Christen would be able to feel it. Her heart was racing because of Christen’s use of the nickname Tobs, because Christen wanted her here, because a part of her was still waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Christen to come to her senses and become hostile again.

“I’m so sorry you had to go through all that alone,” Christen added, her words soft so as to not break the bubble they found themselves in. “I’m also sorry I’ve been such a shit to you for the past few weeks. If I had known-”

“I kind of did that to myself by not asking for anyone’s help, and you are the least shitty person I know. You let me drool on your shirt,” Tobin sighed, lifting her head up slightly and glancing at Christen’s shirt where her face had been. There was no drool, thankfully. 

Christen huffed out a small laugh, poking Tobin’s side with her finger. “You don’t drool, I don’t share my bed with droolers.”

“I don’t know, I haven’t slept that well in…” Tobin trailed off, lowering her head back down to Christen’s chest with a sigh. 

Another pang of guilt, another wave of shame rolled through Christen. “Hey, if it helped you sleep, I can accept that. But you’re it, my drooler quota’s been met,” Christen replied, releasing one arm from around Tobin to stretch over her head, flexing her fingers to regain feeling in it.

“Oh, sorry,” Tobin mumbled, squirming out of Christen’s arms and rolling over onto the other pillow. She immediately hated how cold it was with a few inches between her and Christen. 

Christen rolled onto her side, fixing Tobin with a confused look. “12 hours without being at each other’s throats, and we’re already back at you over-apologizing again?”

“I don’t think I’ve over-apologized yet,” Tobin defended, her voice completely serious. “I have a lot to apologize for still.” 

With a sigh, Christen pushed herself up into a sitting position, running her hands through her sleep-mussed curls. 

“I think you and I could say sorry for the rest of our lives and still feel like it wasn’t enough,” Christen said quietly, looking over her shoulder at Tobin. “I’m full of sorrys, for so many things.”

“Me too...I should have been a better friend,” Tobin whispered, rubbing her hands over her eyes. “I shouldn’t have cut you out when I was hurting. I owed you more than that.”

Christen nodded, not fighting Tobin on either of those things. “You’re right. I’m not going to lie and say you shouldn’t have done that. But if you want to play the 'shoulda, woulda, coulda game' we could be here all year. And I’d probably talk for most of it.”

“I highly doubt that,” Tobin snorted. “Although, you definitely could have called Kelley off before she wore my shoes without socks.” 

Christen laughed, loud and unexpected. She’d forgotten what that felt like, the lightness that danced around her chest when Tobin said something funny, something intentional to get a chuckle out of her.

“Fun fact, I missed that the most,” Tobin sighed, a huge smile, maybe the biggest since camp, sliding onto her face. 

Christen pivoted on the bed, turning to face Tobin. She felt a small smile tug at her lips, her heart warming at Tobin going back to their game, back to fun facts. It almost felt like everything was back to normal.

“Not my terrible jokes or stellar taste in movies?” Christen replied, sinking into the fact that this was easy. Their conversations were always easy. She’d missed this easiness.

“I missed those too,” Tobin hummed. “I missed everything about you. One night in July I watched The Princess Bride with Jeff. It really isn’t my kinda movie,” Tobin teased, knocking her knee into the side of Christen’s leg. 

“Fun fact, I tried every single kind of plain bagel in Los Angeles County,” Christen blurted, her cheeks burning at the admission.

Tobin lifted herself up in bed, resting on her elbows to get a better look at Christen. “And? The verdict? Wait, I don’t want to know! Do you think we could-” Tobin paused, her eyebrows scrunching up in thought.

She was still teetering on the edge, trying to figure out if she could talk to Christen like they’d always talked or if she needed to be hesitant. She hated the way she wondered what was okay to ask or what needed to be avoided. She hated that she was about to ask if they could try the best plain bagel together, but that she couldn’t actually ask that. Not yet.

Christen’s smile faltered. She knew what Tobin was about to say, and she also knew why Tobin had stopped saying it. 

“I forgot for a second too,” Christen said quietly. Even if she loved how easy this was, the banter and the smiles, it also made her heart ache. The easiness of it all made it so that everything they’d gone through these past few months didn’t seem to exist anymore. The easiness of it all made them both forget what had brought Tobin to her door last night and what made Christen invite her to stay. 

The guilt Christen had been feeling all morning, the guilt she’d been able to ignore for a few moments, started to sit on her chest again, making it harder to breathe. She rubbed at her chest, her nose scrunching up as she tried to breathe through the guilt, through the burn of tears behind her eyes.

“Yeah,” Tobin sighed, sitting up fully in bed, resting her back against the headboard and looking directly at Christen. 

“How did this get so messed up?” Christen asked softly, her brows furrowing, already knowing the answer but voicing the question anyway. She knew it had been a perfect storm of shitty timing and shitty things, but it had all been started by her fear. 

“Well, I think usually people have trouble talking when only one of them is texting…” Tobin mumbled, scratching the back of her neck, her nervous tell, the one she’d inherited from her dad, the one Christen always knew how to read. 

Christen ignored the small stab of pain in her gut. Okay, maybe she wasn’t totally 100% over everything that had gone down this summer, despite knowing the cause of it, but she wasn’t going to let that derail this conversation. This was a chance to be honest, to come clean, to stop being scared. She needed to own up to the fact that she was the reason this was so messed up.

“It wasn’t you or your aversion to technology, Tobs.”

“I wouldn’t call it that. I was stubborn and trying to ease the guilt I had about not being there for my family, which only made me feel guiltier about not being there for you,” Tobin said, absolute truth in each of her words. 

“I think we both know it started before that too,” Christen sighed, forcing herself to take another deep breath.

Tobin gulped, knowing that Christen was talking about the feelings she’s shared in Portland, the feelings Christen hadn’t responded to. 

Christen readjusted herself on top of the bed, scooting a bit closer to Tobin. “I...I shouldn’t have let Foudy make me leave. I should have stayed...” Christen trailed off.

“Well, I shouldn’t have pushed you to feel things or say things just because I said them. I should have been more patient,” Tobin replied, playing with the bedsheets in her lap. She couldn't let Christen shoulder all of the blame. She was at fault too. “I don’t blame you for getting scared or needing space, even if it didn’t feel great-”

Christen leaned forward and gently placed her hand over Tobin’s mouth to get her to stop nervous rambling. It was adorable and endearing, but it was going to keep derailing this conversation. 

“How about you let me talk for a second?”

“That seems fair,” Tobin mumbled from behind Christen’s hand, glancing up to look at Christen. 

Christen slowly lowered her hand away from Tobin’s mouth, but stayed close, not wanting to have any more space between them. She looked deep into those brown eyes, the ones she’d seen in her dreams for months this summer. 

“I don’t want to keep doing the ‘should have, shouldn’t have’ thing this morning, especially pre-coffee. We don’t have a year to waste on it anyway,” Christen teased, her light tone a little forced. She took a deep, settling breath and forged on. “But right now, I need to tell you three things. Will you let me get through them before you try and apologize again?”

Tobin nodded softly, reaching out a shaky hand to hold onto Christen’s, feeling an immediate wave of relief when Christen squeezed her hand and brushed her thumb along the side of one of Tobin’s fingers. 

Christen let her guilt surface for a moment, starting off her list with that. 

“One, I’m going to feel crappy for a while about the way I treated you, and the way my friends treated you, these past few weeks. Which means I’ll probably buy you all the plain bagels and Phish Food ice cream and pizza and whatever other food that starts with the letter ‘p’ that you want.” 

Christen could see that Tobin already wanted to push back, to shake off Christen’s offer. So she plowed on ahead, not giving Tobin a chance to interject.

“Two, I don’t want to go back to not talking to you, or where we yell and bicker. I miss you. I’ve been missing you. I’ve missed this,” Christen said, gesturing between them with her free hand, “how easy this is. And even if I still have this little ball of fury inside me somewhere, I don’t want to spend another day not talking to you, especially after learning the truth about what happened this summer.”

Tobin hadn’t stopped looking at her the entire time. She simply held her gaze, a soft look of wonder on her face. Christen could see the gears turning in Tobin’s head, could see her processing every single word. 

“Three, I haven’t completely forgiven you for disappearing on me, and I’m nowhere near forgiving myself. I've got a lot of guilt to wade through, but I’m going to work on it,” Christen said gently. She felt Tobin tense, so she held tightly onto Tobin’s hand, not letting her go. This was something that she had to work on, and there was a long road ahead, but she was willing to do the work. She was willing, especially with Tobin by her side.

Having hit her three things, Christen relaxed, a small smile tugging at her lips. But then a thought ran through her mind. Despite every word she’d said just now, despite everything she’d said last night, she still hadn’t told Tobin how she felt. Even if it wasn’t the right moment for that, things still felt too raw and tenuous for that, she could at least give Tobin something. Something to chase away the last bit of worry, of hesitation she could see hiding in Tobin’s eyes.

“And I’m really bad at math this morning, so I have a fourth one too,” Christen hummed, a nervous flutter in her stomach. “I...I want you to know that I came back to the hotel room. In Portland. I came back because I wasn’t scared anymore.” 

Christen could see the sparkle of hope in Tobin’s eyes, and while it made her heart soar and her smile grow, she held up a hand to tell Tobin she wasn’t done. “And I’m nowhere near ready to get into that right now, but I need you to know that I came back. I might have run at that moment, but I wasn’t going to keep running forever. I’m done running now.”

Tobin couldn’t help the rush of hope that was surging through her body. She tried to keep her facial expression calm and kind. She didn’t want to be over-excited when Christen had admitted that she was still hurt, still angry. So, instead, she watched Christen’s nervous smile and squeezed Christen's hand softly in her own. 

“Do I get to respond to that, or am I still supposed to be silent still?” Tobin asked, a teasing lilt to her voice and a lopsided smile on her face. 

“You can respond now, thank you for your patience,” Christen replied, teasing Tobin right back.

“Okay,” Tobin cleared her throat, sitting up straighter in bed. “One,” she started wiggling her eyebrows, just to see Christen smile. “I’ll take as much Phish Food as you want to supply, as long as you let me buy you coffees and gross oat milk ice cream too because it’s clear that both of us are going to carry this guilt around for a little bit. We might as well be well-fed and spend time together if we both feel crappy.” Tobin watched as Christen smiled, just wanting each and every one of her words to make Christen feel better. 

“Two, I’ve never missed anyone as much as I’ve missed you. And fighting with you?” Tobin sighed, feeling the familiar sense of exhaustion that she’d been feeling since the end of camp and especially since coming to UCLA. “Fighting with you is the second-worst thing I’ve ever done with you.” 

“Wait, the second-worst? What’s the first?” Christen interrupted.

“I’d rather fight with you any day of the week than not see you or be around you. The first worst thing I’ve ever done is ignore you,” Tobin answered as sincerely as possible.

Christen melted, squeezing Tobin’s hand tightly within her own. She fought off the urge to pull Tobin into her arms, to reach forward and cup Tobin’s cheek with her hand, to kiss away all of Tobin’s regrets and worries. If Tobin could wait patiently while she delivered her heartfelt speech, she could be patient with Tobin’s.

“Three,” Tobin hummed, that pang of guilt still in her chest, still tight in her throat. “I haven’t forgiven myself for leaving and not asking you to be there, for putting my feelings above yours. I also don’t know how long I’m going to tease you for giving me the cold shoulder as long as you have at UCLA. I mean, you really really really hold a grudge. I’m gonna tell Foudy to put you on the welcoming committee,” Tobin laughed, hoping that Christen would smile at her stupid teasing. 

“I’d expect nothing less,” Christen replied, her cheeks flaming as her guilt tightened in her chest once more. 

“Four, I wish I’d been there when you came back,” Tobin said, her voice wobbly with nerves. “And I know you won’t believe me for a while, but I’m not going anywhere again, not without telling you and talking to you. I know me leaving and not texting or calling or showing any signs of life probably scared you back to square one, but I’m patient, and I’m here. I don’t want to leave again,” Tobin whispered, her throat tightening with emotions that she hadn’t spoken aloud in nearly three months. 

Their words, their spoken and unspoken feelings hung in the air between them, ushering in a new chapter. They wouldn’t soon forget what had happened, what had gone down and almost destroyed them before they’d even really began, but they were choosing to move forward, together. Even if they still had bagged to unpack and process, they were choosing to turn the page.

“Don’t worry, I’m not back at square one,” Christen whispered with a small smile. Christen squeezed Tobin’s hand then lifted it to her mouth, pressing a soft, lingering kiss to the back of it.

Tobin returned Christen’s smile. “In that case can I ask you a fifth?” Tobin asked, her cheeks flaming immediately. 

“Only if we don’t count any higher than five until after we’ve had some coffee,” Christen replied with a wink. 

“Can I- Would you-” Tobin started and stopped, staring at the ceiling as if there were words up there to help her speak. 

“Would I…?” Christen parroted, waiting with bated breath and nerves in her stomach for Tobin to finish her question.

“Wouldyoumaybeliketogoonadatewithme?” Tobin blurted. 

It took Christen longer than it should have to unpack that statement. Her forehead wrinkled as she tried to piece together the words she’d heard and the ones she could only guess at. But then it all clicked. It all clicked and suddenly it felt like she was flying.

“You want to go on a date? With me?” Christen clarified, a softness in her words and a deep red coloring her cheeks.

“Obviously not here. I don’t have a car here or any idea what’s around this hotel, and it would probably be nicer if our teammates weren’t down the hall. Plus, Foudy wouldn’t let us leave, and I would want to pick you up at your door and do everything perfectly. You’d deserve a really nice date. I’d have to do it justice, and I’d probably pick up flowers or maybe make scones if you even like scones anymore because you haven’t accepted them. Maybe you were just being stubborn. Were you hungry last night? You didn’t eat on the bus and dinner wasn’t until 8:00, which is late for you-”

Christen waited to see how long Tobin would ramble for. She waited with a smile on her face and a lightness in her heart she hadn’t felt since Portland. She waited until she found it physically impossible not to interrupt the adorable, rambling mess that was Tobin Heath.

Christen closed the space between them quickly, pressing a kiss to Tobin’s cheek, wishing she’d been a bit braver and actually kissed her lips. She pulled back and smiled at the slightly awestruck look on Tobin’s face.

“I’d love to go on a date with you when we’re not at this hotel and our teammates aren’t down the hall. So long as you let me take you on a date the next time?” Christen asked, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear nervously. 

“A next time? What if I’m terrible at planning dates? You just put all your eggs in one basket,” Tobin said with a laugh. She released a sigh as soon as she realized that Christen wanted to go out with her. Not only that, she wanted to go out with her more than once. 

Christen shrugged, smiling as she looked into Tobin’s eyes. “I think I’ve found a really great basket, so I’m not too worried about it.”

“Well, this basket is in need of caffeine. Day one of buying you coffee to apologize nonverbally?” Tobin asked, cocking her head to the side. 

“So long as it includes a nonverbal apology bagel from me,” Christen replied, her poor attempt at a wink earning her a small chuckle from Tobin.

“Oh shoot,” Tobin groaned, looking down at her t-shirt and shorts and bare feet. 

Christen’s heart stopped for a second. “What is it?”

“Harry’s going to interrogate the crap out of me,” Tobin sighed, knowing she’d be walking back to her room to change clothes and find shoes for breakfast. 

Christen’s eyes widened, her mouth forming a little “o” shape. She’d almost forgotten a whole world existed outside this hotel room, outside this little moment of peace and perfection they’d found themselves in. Outside this room, there were teammates and friends, all of whom would want answers and explanations. It was enough to make Christen groan and fall back onto the bed, her hands covering her face.

“So will Pinoe and Crystal and Kelley and all of those freshmen, too,” Christen said from behind her hands.

“I won’t tell Harry if you don’t want her to know that we talked,” Tobin said, crossing her arms over her chest, worried for a second about Christen feeling embarrassed about telling people they were giving things a shot. 

“No, no, that’s not what I mean,” Christen said, her hands falling away from her face so she could fix Tobin with a soft look. “I would really like to tell the entire world that you asked me on a date, including our nosy teammates. But I also don’t want to have to share this with anyone else right now. With anybody else’s expectations or judgements or opinions. It was hard enough to get here with just ours in the mix,” Christen added, reaching out to lay a hand on Tobin’s ankle, running her thumb along the warm skin she found there. She wished she could grab Tobin’s hand, but she was too far away.

“I know exactly what you mean,” Tobin sighed. “Plus, I have the perfect date planned, and I don’t need anyone else’s input.” She couldn’t help but smile at Christen, loving the way Christen was touching her without even thinking about it. She’d missed the absentminded touches, the gravitational pull that just seemed to pull them back toward one another. 

Christen shared Tobin’s smile, glad they could be on the same page about this, glad they’d found their way back into the rhythm they’d once shared. 

“Will it top our trip to the ice rink? That was pretty perfect.”

“I’m hoping it comes close. Nothing will top that,” Tobin sighed, reaching out to rest her fingers against Christen’s calf. “Best birthday everrrr.”

Christen’s skin tingled beneath Tobin’s touch. “It’ll be great, Tobs, because you thought of it and we’ll be together,” Christen replied, a little breathless at Tobin’s touch and her sweet words and her thoughtfulness. “What more could a girl ask for?”


“HAAARRRY!” Allie yelled across the breakfast room. 

Tobin cringed. She thought she was in the clear when she slipped back into her empty room, leaving her free to change into a new set of clothes, wash her face, brush her teeth, and respond to all of her family members’ worried texts about Tobin’s late-night phone calling marathon. She had completely forgotten about team breakfast and the fact that an empty hotel room meant Allie was downstairs.

“Hey, Harry,” Tobin said, trying to play it cool, despite the smile that threatened to slide onto her face every single second. 

“Where the hell were you last night? I almost put out an APD or an APC or whatever that shit is called,” Allie huffed, jumping up from her seat and crossing the room to where Tobin was grabbing a banana and some coffee. 

Christen choked on her orange juice at Allie’s question. She waved off worried looks from Crystal and Kelley, feeling Megan slap her back. She forced a smile at everyone and tried not to make it too obvious she was hanging on to every word of the conversation happening a few feet behind her. 

She’d met her friends down in the breakfast lounge after walking Tobin back to her room, with a promise to text her after breakfast. They knew they’d be navigating some murky waters, trying to keep this complete 180 in their relationship on the down-low. But a few days of careful navigation seemed worth it since both of them wanted their first date to be special and perfect and theirs. They’d text and meet up when they could and keep up the illusion that nothing had changed for their teammates.

“I went for a walk,” Tobin replied, mixing some milk into her coffee and taking a sip. 

“Oh, a twelve-hour walk? Really, Harry? That’s what you want to go with?” Allie scoffed, linking arms with Tobin and dragging her closer to her table, which was coincidentally next to Christen’s table. 

“Obviously I didn’t walk all night,” Tobin sighed, sitting down in the chair that Allie directed her to. “Morning, Lys,” Tobin said, nodding across the table at Alyssa. “I went back to bed, but you were already asleep.”

“Your right eyebrow twitched, you’re LYING!!” Allie shot back, dropping into her own chair and glaring at Tobin, the hardness in her eyes masking her worry.

“Fine, I met up with some people that I know here and spent the night at their place,” Tobin huffed. 

“Oh my fucking god, you were with a girl!” Allie scoffed, smacking the table and pointing a finger at Tobin accusingly.

Christen choked again, this time on a bite of avocado toast. She just needed to stop eating and drinking when Allie was interrogating Tobin about where she’d been last night. Christen kept her eyes on her plate, knowing that Crystal, Megan, and Kelley were all looking at her with concern. She couldn’t look up, knowing the blush in her cheeks would give her away, knowing her blush would tell everyone that she was the girl Tobin had been with.

“I said a friend who lives in San Diego, Harry,” Tobin corrected, willing herself not to turn around and look at Christen, despite having heard her. “Friends can be male or female or non-binary. Get with the times, dude.” 

Allie groaned, realizing she wasn’t going to get anywhere with Tobin right now. “This stinks of bullshit. Like, so rank. I don’t know why you’re lying, but if you keep it up, I’m going to make you sleep in Ash and Barney’s room with their gross smelly goalie gloves.”

“On behalf of all keepers, I think that was a little rude,” Alyssa sighed, taking another bite of her scrambled eggs. 

“Yeah, jeez Harry! You offended Lys!” Tobin added. 

Megan turned away from where she’d been staring at Allie and Tobin’s table and looked around. 

“Something weird is going on,” Megan whispered, hooking a thumb over her shoulder in Tobin’s direction. She looked at Crystal and Kelley, trying to meet Christen’s eye, but Christen was still focused on her plate of food. “Just me?”

“Nope, total weirdness up in here,” Kelley agreed. “Tobito looks...happy?”

“Maybe it is a girl?” Megan wondered, cringing at the implications of that.

Crystal laid a hand on Christen’s back, rubbing it gently. “You okay, Christen?”

Christen swallowed her smile, her blush, and her excitement, and forced a neutral expression on her face. She looked up and shrugged at her friends, hoping that the one summer of improv classes she took with Channing was about to pay off.

“Yeah, she can do whatever she wants,” Christen shrugged. “What do I care?”

The words felt foreign on her tongue, all wrong and untrue. But everyone else seemed to buy them, even if their concern never waned. 

As everyone stood up to clear their plates, Christen held back. She quickly pulled out her phone and shot off a quick text. 

 

[Christen Press 11:13AM]

Did I get an Oscar for that performance or what? P.S. I do care. But you already know that. 

 

“Who’s that?” Allie asked, trying to lean over Tobin to get a look at her phone as Alyssa walked off to get more coffee.

“It’s Perry,” Tobin sighed, moving her chair further away from Allie. “What is wrong with you today? You’re all up in my business.”

“It’s called being worried about you,” Allie retorted, crossing her arms over her chest.

“It’s called being a helicopter mom,” Tobin argued. 

Allie sighed and shook her head in Tobin’s direction. “I just want to make sure you’re okay. You’ve been through some shit and you don’t ever ask for help when you need it. So I’m sorry if I’m being a hyper-vigilant Harry, fucking sue me.”

“I’m sorry,” Tobin said, putting her phone down and reaching across the table to hold one of Allie’s hands. When she’d agreed with Christen to keep their conversation and upcoming date a secret, Tobin hadn’t thought about how hard it was to lie to Allie. Allie was her best friend and the one person besides her family and Christen who could read her so easily. She was the only friend who had forced herself into Tobin’s house and life when Tobin wanted to shove everyone out. She was her lifeline, and Tobin would never be able to express how grateful she was for her. “I promise that I’ll ask you for help when I need it. I appreciate you worrying about me, but I’m trying to move past things, and sometimes the hovering makes it hard.”

Allie rolled her eyes but clung tightly to Tobin’s hand. “Fine, fine, I’ll try to stop hovering. Can’t promise success though.”

Tobin looked back at her phone, trying not to smile at Christen’s message. 

 

[Tobin Heath 11:17AM]

You definitely get an Oscar. Had me worried for a minute. Fun fact, I miss you, and I’m less than five feet away from you 😩

[Christen Press 11:17AM]

Fun fact, I miss you too. Now it’s five feet...six...seven...ten...and I ditched the gang at the elevators. I’m by myself at the coffee station in the lobby. Want another cup? 

 

“You have to talk to Foudy this morning, Harry?” Tobin asked, slipping her phone into her pocket and gathering her shitty breakfast coffee, banana, and room key. 

“Nope, but I do need to go Normatech for a bit, why?”

“I just thought captains usually met with their coaches the day of. I’m gonna go ask the front desk about getting an extra pillow upstairs. The ones on my bed are really thin,” Tobin said, trying to come up with an excuse before Christen got her coffee and left or someone joined her in line. 

“Whatever, weirdo,” Allie replied, going back to her breakfast. “Don’t disappear again, we have our pre-game meeting at 3:30 and the pre-game meal at 4.”

“I won’t miss it,” Tobin said. “I’m just going to hang out around the hotel, maybe call Jeff or my parents to check-in.” She was already standing, already dying to run to the lobby and talk to Christen. 

“Don’t wanna hang with me, I get it. Talk to the hand, Harry, byeeee,” Allie said, holding up her hand.

“Drink your coffee, dude. You’re getting sassy,” Tobin grinned, walking away from the table, ditching her coffee and banana peel in a trashcan, and making a beeline toward the coffee station. 

She slid in line behind Christen, stopping herself from standing too close or reaching out to touch her. Instead, she cleared her throat softly, focusing her eyes on the types of creamers at the station and acting as nonchalant as possible. 

Christen felt Tobin’s presence, not having to turn around to know it was her. “Wow, what a small world,” Christen said, reigning in her smile and pretending like she was surprised that Tobin was now in line behind her. There were about six or seven people in front of her, all business professionals or tired parents on vacation, so the line was moving pretty slowly, not that Christen minded.

“It’s almost like I’m everywhere? Isn’t that what you say?” Tobin asked, trying and failing to hold back a smirk. 

“Ha ha, very cute,” Christen hummed, stepping forward as the line grew shorter. 

“You think I’m cute?” Tobin asked, glancing over at Christen to see if her cheeks would flush. She couldn’t help the butterflies that fluttered in her chest as soon as she got a good look at Christen. If possible, she was even more beautiful than she had been this morning, her hair still curly and loose, swept to the side over one shoulder. 

Christen’s eyes widened and she quickly looked around, making sure none of their teammates were nearby. 

“So much for covert, double-oh-heart eyes,” Christen whispered, arching a brow and failing to fight off a small smile.

“Apparently I’m not as subtle as you. Then again, I didn’t choke on my breakfast,” Tobin laughed, loving the way Christen’s mouth immediately fell open at the teasing. 

Christen’s cheeks flamed. “I- you- ugh,” Christen stammered, turning back toward the front of the line. “I’m so subtle, like the subtlest, orange juice and avocado toast fiasco aside.”

“It’s okay. You’re cute when you’re flustered,” Tobin grinned. “This doesn’t count, by the way, I’ll get you better coffee tomorrow that isn’t free and hasn’t been sitting in a hotel lobby for a few hours,” Tobin said nodding toward the cart again, as if she were in deep deliberations about which creamer or sweetener to put in her coffee.

“Deal. And you might have won the fluster fight, but I will win the fluster war,” Christen muttered, her cheeks still tinged pink and her skin prickling from how close Tobin was standing next to her. The scent of pine was intoxicating, making her head spin and her heart hammer. 

“Dork,” Tobin snorted, wishing she could reach a hand out but keeping them by her sides instead. 

Right as they got to the front of the line, Christen grabbed two cups and handed one to Tobin. “So...I have to tell you something,” Christen said quietly, hiding her smile.

“That’s not ominous at all,” Tobin hummed, hoping that the nervous rolling of her stomach would dissipate as soon as Christen spoke. 

“I did lie about something last night,” Christen continued, filling her cup with a nice dark roast, doing her best not to look at Tobin or else this faux-seriousness she was putting on would fail.

“Oookay?” Tobin husked, her voice breaking with worry for a second. 

“We totally are bus buddies now. I only said we weren’t because I was riding that angry train,” Christen quipped, shooting a small smile at Tobin as she reached in front of Tobin to grab the oat milk.

“Jesus, Chris!” Tobin whispered. “You scared me.”

“The fluster war is won on many fronts,” Christen replied, adding oat milk to her coffee and then putting the container back, making sure to lean into Tobin’s space while she did so.

“You’re vicious,” Tobin sighed, pouring herself a cup and adding some milk. She knocked her hip against Christen’s slightly, having missed being in close proximity with her over the last few months. 

“You’re stuck with me, viscous or not,” Christen replied with a wink, slipping a top on her cup and then stepping away from the coffee station. “Take the stairs, knock twice. I’ll see you soon?” she asked, catching Tobin’s eye quickly, sending her a smile.

Tobin’s breath caught in her throat, her brain late to the party and still processing that her conversation with Christen this morning had happened. It was hard to believe that Christen wanted to spend time with her, especially after their months of separation. Looking at Christen’s soft eyes and gentle smile, though, Tobin wondered why she’d ever doubted that Christen would eventually forgive her. She’d been angry, she’d held a grudge, but Christen had never been heartless. She’d never been cruel. She was wonderful.

“Yes, ma’am,” Tobin said, moving quickly toward the stairs, not even caring if Christen saw her eagerness. 


There it was, the two knocks. Christen skipped to the door and flung it open, not even having to check who was behind it.

“Hey...do you have any Aspirin? I have a really bad headache,” Tobin grinned, leaning against the doorframe with a goofy grin. “I’ve been really stressed about this girl and not sleeping super well, so my head’s just-”

Christen rolled her eyes, a smirk playing at her lips as she reached forward, grabbed the front of Tobin’s t-shirt, and tugged her inside. She gave a quick look down either side of the hallway to make sure no one had seen, and then closed the door.

“I think you slept just fine last night,” Christen replied, moving around Tobin so she could skip over and hop onto the bed. She sat crisscross applesauce in the middle of the bed, turning to face Tobin.

“I can’t help it that you got the comfier hotel bed,” Tobin said, lifting her arms up in surrender. 

“You got it in Portland, so we’re even now,” Christen said, nodding her head at Tobin and then down at the bed next to her. 

Tobin bounced softly onto the corner of the bed, slipping her shoes off, pulling her legs onto the bed, and turning around on the mattress to face Christen. 

“That’s true. At least we’re good at sharing. That way we always get the comfy bed,” Tobin hummed. 

“Is that what you’ll tell Allie when she asks you where you’re sleeping tonight?”  Christen wondered, not really thinking through the fact that she’d just assumed that Tobin would stay here again.

“Nope, my San Diego friend invited me over again,” Tobin winked, leaning back on her hands. 

Christen played along, loving the way Tobin seemed to scoot closer to her on the bed without even realizing it. 

“Must be some friend. Two nights in a row?” Christen asked with a smile.

“She must like me or something…” Tobin sighed, her eyes never leaving Christen’s. 

“Or something,” Christen winked. 

“You’re really inviting me to sleep here again?” Tobin asked, raising her eyebrows. 

Despite the desire to duck her head and hide her blush, Christen didn’t. She didn’t have to do that anymore. It didn’t matter if Tobin saw her blush or heard her fumble her words. It didn’t matter because Tobin asked her on a date and had said she wasn’t going to leave again. 

“If you want?” came Christen’s soft reply, her words barely audible.

“I always want,” Tobin nodded, too eagerly. “I mean- Uh- Yep- That’s cool,” Tobin stuttered. 

Christen smirked, watching Tobin herself now fumble for the right words. “It feels good to be winning the fluster war.”

“Yeah yeah yeah,” Tobin sighed. 

“Oh, someone’s going to be a sore loser I think,” Christen teased, her eyes dancing as she inched a little closer to Tobin. It was undeniable, the draw to be closer to Tobin now that she could be again. She was helpless to resist the pull.

“I don’t think I’ve lost,” Tobin whispered, wishing she could reach out and touch Christen. It dawned on her for the first time, maybe ever, that she could. So, she moved her hand and brushed her fingers against the top of Christen’s hand that was sitting near hers on the bed. 

Christen’s breath stuttered at the featherlight touch. She looked down at where Tobin’s fingers continued to trace mindless patterns across the back of her hand, feeling fire in the wake of every touch. 

“Is that playing fair?” she asked, her voice no louder than a whisper.

“Do you want me to stop?” Tobin asked, loving the way Christen seemed so affected by the smallest touch. 

Christen’s eyes jumped up to meet Tobin’s. It was deliciously intoxicating to know that this line they were teetering on was one they’d already crossed, one they could cross again. She didn’t have to restrict herself, her desires, or her wants. She could show Tobin how much she wanted her, how much she cared, maybe more so than she ever could before. Even if there were millions of things still to say, hundreds of apologies to declare, dozens of feelings to profess, and numerous promises to keep, she could act on her feelings uninhibited for the first time ever.

Christen loved the way Tobin’s eyes sparkled, the way they were dancing with playfulness and desire. It made it impossible not to lean even closer to Tobin, to bring their bodies within inches of each other on the bed.

“No,” Christen hummed, uncrossing her legs. She reached out to tuck a wayward strand of hair behind Tobin’s ear, watching as it immediately fell again but not finding it in her to care. 

Tobin couldn’t help but watch Christen’s lips. Christen was wetting her lips subconsciously, her tongue poking out just slightly as she brushed Tobin’s hair away from her face. Tobin knew that there were things to talk about, but she also knew that they had all the time in the world to talk about them. Her stomach tightened, desire filling her whole body, the urge to lean forward and capture Christen’s lips in her own overwhelming.

“Do you want me to stop?” Christen asked, her hand falling to her lap, the feeling of Tobin’s fingers on the back of her other hand sending jolts of electricity shooting up her arm.

“No,” Tobin shook her head. “I-” Tobin gulped. “I want to kiss you.”

Christen remembered back to last night, how she’d been all angry, sharp edges and desperation, how Tobin had been gentle and soft and hopeful. That kiss shouldn’t have happened the way it did, but she could make up for it now. 

Christen tilted her head to the side, leaning in dangerously close to Tobin, her eyes never leaving Tobin’s as she did.

“I know you do,” she husked, poking the tip of her nose against Tobin’s lightly before leaning just a bit back so she wouldn’t go cross-eyed trying to look into Tobin’s eyes.

“So cocky,” Tobin mumbled, leaning forward and moving her free hand to the back of Christen’s neck. 

Christen knew Tobin was about to pull her in, just like Portland. But Christen still felt a small sliver of guilt about last night’s kiss, which cut through the haze of her want. So instead of letting Tobin pull her in, she reached up and pulled Tobin’s hand away from her neck.

Without taking her eyes off of Tobin, without letting herself trip over her words to chase away the momentary confusion she could see on Tobin’s face, Christen lifted Tobin’s palm to her lips and placed a gentle kiss on it.

She kissed each of Tobin’s fingertips, her palm once more, then the inside of her wrist, all without looking away from Tobin’s eyes. She bit back a smile at the way Tobin’s eyes fluttered closed, then opened again, like Tobin didn't want to miss a single second of this. She loved the way Tobin’s cheeks blushed a light shade of pink, and her tongue wet her bottom lip. Tobin was the picture of desire, of want, and Christen couldn’t get enough of it. 

Tobin’s stomach was somersaulting softly, butterflies swarming her chest. Tobin knew Christen well. She knew Christen was kind and gentle and beautiful, but she’d never experienced this Christen before, not like this. Christen had never held her and kissed her and looked at her with such softness, and Tobin was completely overwhelmed by it. She couldn’t take her eyes off of Christen, hypnotized by the way she meticulously kissed every inch of her hand, by the way her lips pressed so softly against her skin. 

Christen gently lowered Tobin’s hand to the bed and then closed the space between them again. She used both of her hands to cradle Tobin’s face, her touch as soft as ever. She then kissed Tobin’s cheeks, her jaw, her closed eyelids, her forehead, the corner of her mouth. With every kiss, she apologized, with every kiss she tried to be soft, with every kiss, she was intentional. The last kiss she placed was on Tobin’s lips, letting herself linger there for a second longer than anywhere else before she leaned back. Her hands fell to the bed, her cheeks flushed. She was filled to the brim with love and nerves and hope and peace all at the same time and just hoped that Tobin could feel it too.

“You’re going to kill me,” Tobin husked, her heart racing in her chest. 

“That should have been our first kiss after everything that happened,” Christen replied softly.

“You can have as many first kisses as you want,” Tobin sighed, her eyes fluttering open, wanting desperately to pull Christen back for more. 

“Promise?”

“Always,” Tobin nodded, wanting her voice and her eyes to speak more than just that one word. She wanted Christen to believe her, to trust that she would never leave her again. She wanted Christen to have faith that Tobin would stick around and be the kind of person she deserved. 

Christen considered herself a strong woman. But when Tobin was looking at her like that, so vulnerable and open, yet so full of desire, her strength to not kiss Tobin left her. So, she gave in. 

Christen surged forward to kiss Tobin, softening at the last moment as to not completely knock Tobin backward and send them off the bed. She cradled Tobin’s face between her palms again, holding Tobin gently, kissing her even more so. She stayed as soft and intentional as she had been before, trying to erase every angry, bitter, jagged memory of last night’s kiss.

Christen didn’t let herself deepen the kiss like she wanted to. She didn’t let herself bury a hand in Tobin’s hair and scratch at her scalp. She didn’t let herself bite Tobin’s lip or soothe it with her tongue. She pushed it a little bit past chaste but no further, her kiss sweet and honest. The way they were sitting on the bed made it a little awkward, but Christen wouldn’t trade this moment for anything. It finally felt right again. After months and months of mistakes and broken promises and regrets, it was right. Everything was right with the world when she was kissing Tobin Heath.

Tobin held onto Christen’s waist, brushing her thumbs softly against Christen’s side. Her mind was numb and foggy and delirious with happiness and desire. She’d never felt lips as soft as Christen’s, but this kiss was even softer than she could have ever imagined. Christen was gentle and slow, her hands pressed against her face and sending warmth through her cheeks. And while Tobin could never regret Portland or even the night before, since those kisses had led to this moment, she was easily going to consider this their first real kiss. This kiss signified a change in their relationship. It was genuine and vulnerable, and neither of them was running on pure hormones. Tobin wasn’t about to get her hopes up, but the way Christen pressed her lips against her own felt a lot like love. 

But then a series of knocks sounded at Christen’s door.

Christen immediately pulled back, her hands staying on Tobin’s face but her lips no longer pressing sweet, gentle kisses to Tobin’s.

“Why does this always happen?” Tobin almost growled, her pupils dilated and her lips red from kissing Christen. 

Christen giggled and shook her head a bit. “I don’t know, but I could always pretend I’m not here…” 

Christen leaned back in with a smile, having just placed her lips back on Tobin’s when a voice joined the chorus of knocks.

“We know you’re in there, Pressy!” Megan called through the door.

Christen was the one to growl this time as she pulled back. “We’re investing in multiple locks when we get back to school,” Christen said, running her thumbs across Tobin’s cheeks, trying to convey with her eyes how sorry she was for the interruption.

“I don’t trust your roommates. You can come over to mine. We’ll kick Harry out,” Tobin mumbled, still foggy and distracted from Christen’s kisses. 

Trying not to smile too big, Christen pecked Tobin’s lips quickly and then hurried off the bed. “Come on, you’re hiding,” Christen whispered, tugging at the sheets and fixing her slightly disheveled appearance. 

“I’m not going in that closet,” Tobin huffed. “Been there, done that.” 

“You’re really adorable right now, but move quicker, please. Bathroom?” Christen said, gesturing her hands at Tobin to get her moving.

Tobin slid off the bed at Christen’s request and slipped into the bathroom. 

“Be quiet,” Christen whispered, hand on the door.

“Aren’t I always?” Tobin basically mouthed. 

“No, you’re really not,” Christen smirked, leaning forward to kiss Tobin one more time before pulling the bathroom door closed behind her. 

Tobin rolled her eyes as the door closed, unable to stop the huge grin on her face that she immediately saw in the bathroom mirror. She ran a hand through her hair and smiled even wider, loving how tingly her lips felt, how warm her body felt, how relaxed her brain felt. 

Christen did one final once over of her appearance. She forced herself to take a few deep breaths and try to contain the smile that seemed to always threaten to pop up on her face. Especially now that she’d just kissed Tobin again, except she’d done it the way she wanted to this time. 

“Pressy, what’s the hold-up?” Kelley called out.

“Yeah, Christen, we wanted to check on you,” Crystal called. 

Christen schooled her features, relaxed her shoulders, and pulled the door open hesitantly, looking between Kelley, Crystal, and Megan who stood on the other side of it.

“I’m fine you guys, really,” Christen said quietly.

“Yeah, but the whole Tobin thing…” Crystal started, stepping into the room, brushing right by Christen. 

Christen’s stomach clenched at the mention of Tobin’s name and that damn smile wanted to make its way across her face. Christen rubbed at her nose to try and cover it up, pivoting a bit in hopes that she could block Megan and Kelley from entering too.

“Again, I’m fine,” Christen shrugged. “So thanks for stopping by-”

“We really thought she was still trying to apologize to you. We had no idea she had a girl or whatever in San Diego,” Megan sighed, following Crystal and pulling Kelley into the room behind her, pushing Christen out of the way.  

“We wouldn’t have let her stay over and eat pizza if we’d known,” Kelley huffed. 

Christen realized getting rid of her friends wasn’t going to be easy. They’d already walked into the room and gotten comfortable on her bed, so she was going to have to try a different tactic.

“I already told you guys it’s okay to forgive her, I don’t want you feeling bad about it,” Christen replied, following her friends into the room, her ears straining for any possible noise Tobin could make from the bathroom.

“Yeah, but we were your friends first,” Kelley argued. “The pizza was just so good. She knew my weakness.”

“Really, it’s-” Christen tried to say, only to be cut off by Megan.

“Jeez Pressy, aren’t you usually a ‘leave the hotel bed partially made' type?” Megan asked, pulling the comforter down on the left side. 

“Riiiight,” Christen said, alarm making her heart pound. She could feel her palms getting clammy. This was too stressful, the questions and the lying. She really needed to get everyone out of here now.

“Did you not sleep well last night?” Crystal asked, concern in her voice. “I know this trip is probably hard after everything…”

“That’s exactly it, yeah. I slept so bad. So so bad,” Christen replied, mentally thanking Crystal for supplying an answer her freaked out brain couldn’t.

“Well, I had way too much coffee this morning,” Kelley groaned. “Gotta pee! Don’t say anything cool without me.”

“Wait!” Christen said, reaching out to stop Kelley.

Tobin could hear everything in the next room, she stood up from the side of the tub quickly scanning the small bathroom for any place to hide. She stepped into the tub, slowly pulling the shower curtain fully closed so that the metal rings wouldn’t make too much noise against the curtain rod. She held her breath, hoping that Christen could convince Kelley to go somewhere else but knowing Kelley wouldn’t listen. 

Christen looked between Kelley and Megan’s confused expressions and Crystal’s suspicious one. She grinned weakly.

“Why are you so jittery?” Megan asked, lifting up off of Christen’s bed and staring at her friend. 

“I’m not. I just wanted to...make sure you don’t forget to wash your hands again. That was so gross, Kel,” Christen said quickly, letting go of Kelley’s arm. “If you forget again, there will be nowhere to hide from me,” she added in a weak attempt at a joke, throwing emphasis on the word hide and hoping Tobin would hear her.

Tobin had to hold back a laugh, loving how nervous Christen sounded in the other room. She couldn’t help but imagine a day in the future when they would look back on this moment and laugh when she’d look back on this moment and make fun of Kelley. 

Tobin squatted down in the shower, trying to make herself even smaller, just in case her shadow could be seen through the curtain. She closed her eyes and held her breath, hating that Kelley was about to come in. 

Christen swallowed her nerves and sat down in the desk chair, praying to whoever would listen not to let Kelley O’Hara be the one to discover her and Tobin’s secret.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Crystal wondered, still eyeing Christen with suspicion. 

Christen mustered up a smile despite her nerves and nodded. “Yeah, I am. I have to be, we have a game to win tonight,” Christen replied.  

“For what it’s worth, I don’t think Tobin’s seeing someone around here,” Megan said, a wrinkle in between her eyebrows. 

“She’s allowed to do whatever she wants,” Christen shrugged, feeling a small thrill run through her at the thought that she was the one Tobin was seeing, not anybody else.

“Yeah, but the last we heard, she’s still crazy about-”

Crystal elbowed Megan softly. “She doesn’t want to hear about her, Pinoe.”

Christen ducked her head and begged her blush to go away. 

“Woah! Pressy!” Kelley called from the bathroom. 

Christen nearly fell out of the desk chair she shot to her feet so fast. She ran over to the bathroom, eyeing the closed door and starting to pray again. 

“What? What is it?” Christen said loudly, her arms crossed in front of her chest.

Kelley pulled open the door and held out the basket of hotel conditioners and shampoos. 

“They gave you, like, double what they gave Sam and me,” Kelley exclaimed.

Christen let out a long sigh of relief and managed to smile at Kelley. “Take it, I brought my own from school.” Christen had to try incredibly hard not to look past Kelley into the bathroom, trying to figure out where the heck Tobin had found a place to hide.

“Sweet! I need to wash my hands though,” Kelley said, whistling slightly as she turned to the sink and pulled the bar soap toward her. 

Christen was about to turn back to Megan and Crystal when both she and Kelley heard a small thud from the shower. 

“What the hell was that?” Kelley asked, turning around, her hands still wet and soapy. 

Eyes wide and wild, Christen realized Tobin Heath was hiding in her shower and was moments from being discovered. She could hear Megan and Crystal running across the room to come to the bathroom and she had to act fast. She dove in front of Kelley and peeked around the closed curtain. 

Tobin was still squatting in the bathtub, her eyes closed and a grimace on her face. She was holding one of Christen’s shampoo bottles in her hand, one she’d accidentally knocked off the shelf. She squinted her eyes open, shooting an apologetic smile at Christen. 

If looks could kill, Christen’s look definitely would have killed Tobin. Tobin had one job, and she couldn’t even do it.

“What happened?” Crystal asked from the doorway. 

Tobin handed Christen the shampoo bottle, hoping that Christen was a better liar than she had been with Allie. 

With a small shake of her head and an adorable scrunch of her nose, Christen turned around and tugged the curtain back into place. She held up the shampoo bottle with a forced smile.

“Bottle fell,” Christen shrugged, putting the container onto the counter by the sink and staying firmly planted between her three friends and where Tobin was crouched in the bathtub of the shower behind her.

“On its own?” Megan asked, lifting an eyebrow. 

“They must have given me the haunted room,” Christen joked weakly.

“OOOOOOOHHHHH,” Kelley started moaning like in a cheesy ghost movie. She turned and flicked water droplets onto Megan and Crystal, earning her annoyed huffs and laughter. Kelley chased Megan out of the bathroom, leaving Crystal and Christen alone-ish.  

“You want to go to do some homework in the lobby before the game?” Crystal asked, directing her attention at Christen again, her brows still knit with worry. 

Christen shook her head at the offer, hoping her smile could convince Crystal to stop worrying. 

“I’m okay, I think I’m just going to chill and get in the zone. You know how it is,” Christen replied. “But...I promise to talk to you about things soon. I just need time to process it all. But for now, I really am fine,” Christen assured with a nod. “More than fine. I’m fan-freaking-tastic and I can’t wait to tell you everything,” Christen thought to herself.

“Okay, we’re here if you need us. Just shoot us a text,” Crystal assured Christen, stepping out of the bathroom and calling Megan and Kelley to the door. “Let’s go, hooligans, time to study!”

Christen couldn’t get them out of the room fast enough. She hoped it wasn’t obvious that she wanted them gone, what with the way she basically threw them out, then slammed the door and locked it behind them. Once she heard their voices retreat down the hallway, Christen let out a long sigh and dropped her forehead to the door. That had been a close call, a lot of close calls actually.

“I can’t believe you gave away all that conditioner,” Tobin groaned from inside the shower. “Do you want me to have to borrow Allie’s again?”

“I can’t believe you couldn’t stay quiet for like five minutes!” Christen replied with a relieved chuckle, lifting her forehead off the door and stepping back to look into the bathroom. She watched Tobin open the shower curtain and step out, a crooked grin on her face.

“Your shampoo bottle is literally three times too big for the shelf you put it on,” Tobin laughed. 

Christen narrowed her eyes playfully. “Careful, say that about my conditioner and I won’t let you use it. I don’t want to be sneezing the whole weekend if you use Allie’s.”

“You surprise me, Christen Press,” Tobin said with a huge smirk on her face, walking over to where Christen was standing. 

“How’s that?” Christen said, watching Tobin approach her with sure steps, feeling her heart start to beat a little faster in her chest.

“You’re a class A liar,” Tobin said, reaching out to take a hold of Christen’s hands. 

“I’m really not, I was freaking out that entire time,” Christen replied, swinging their hands between them as she leaned back against the wall, almost in the exact same place Tobin had stood the night before.

“Kelley peed in front of me,” Tobin sulked. 

“I am so sorry you had to go through that,” Christen laughed, not sounding sorry in the slightest.

Tobin snorted, leaning closer to Christen. “Really? You sound very pleased.”

“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but it is kind of funny,” Christen whispered, her heart rate increasing tenfold when Tobin leaned in close.

Tobin pressed a kiss to Christen’s forehead, loving the way Christen’s eyelids closed when she moved closer. She kissed Christen’s cheeks, one at a time, before kissing Christen’s lips softly, leaning back before Christen could really kiss her back. 

Christen sighed and chased Tobin’s lips, not satisfied with the very brief peck she’d just been given. Thankfully, Tobin indulged her, letting Christen bring their lips back together. It felt so natural, to kiss Tobin and be kissed by Tobin. It felt like they’d been doing it all along. 

After a few moments, they were both smiling too much to continue kissing. Instead, Tobin kissed Christen’s forehead again before resting her forehead against Christen’s. 

“You’re a good liar and great kisser, did you know that?” Tobin mumbled, completely relaxed and blissed out. 

“Actually, I didn’t,” Christen confessed, loving the feeling of Tobin in her space, all but forgetting the time when she’d hated the way Tobin had invaded every inch of her life. Now, Tobin was everywhere and she wouldn’t want it any other way. “I was told I wasn’t very good at it,” Christen added quietly, trying to lighten her tone and joke about it, but it didn’t work.

“You kissed idiots then because that’s absolutely ridiculous,” Tobin scoffed, leaning back to look directly at Christen. She reached up to brush her thumb along Christen’s jaw, wanting Christen to toss aside any insecurities and take Tobin’s words to heart. 

Christen shrugged, leaning into Tobin’s touch a little. “As long as you don't think I suck, I’ll take it as a win.”

“You’re the best kisser I’ve ever kissed,” Tobin said with a huge smile. 

“You’re biased,” Christen grinned back.

“I’m completely objective here actually.” Tobin pushed Christen’s hair away from her face, unable to stop touching her now that she was allowed to. 

“That look in your eye says different,” Christen murmured, reaching out to fiddle with the hem of Tobin’s t-shirt. 

“Hey, I can’t help it that you’re amazing,” Tobin shrugged. “Best kisser, best goal scorer, best ABBA singer, best cookie baker, best birthday surprise planner…I’m still compiling my list.”

Christen could feel the blush in her cheeks at Tobin’s words. It still knocked the wind out of her a bit when Tobin talked about her like that. She couldn’t believe that that was how Tobin saw her. 

“You say the sweetest things,” Christen said softly, stepping into Tobin’s space and wrapping her arms around Tobin’s middle. She buried her face in the crook of Tobin’s neck and held on. “I’m going to get a big ego.” 

“I’m just honest,” Tobin sighed against Christen’s hair, sinking into the comforting smell of Christen’s shampoo. 

“Tobs?” Christen asked, the words mumbled against Tobin’s skin.

“Mhm?”

“Not to totally pop this adorable bubble we’re in, but can we do some pregame meditation now? It’s almost one and I have a lot more to thank the universe for than I did last weekend.”

“Of course,” Tobin nodded. “I’ve been worried since coming to UCLA. I haven’t seen you plant since preseason started.”

“I haven’t been able to do it without you,” Christen admitted, her arms tightening around Tobin.

“I’m not allowed to say sorry am I?” Tobin asked, wishing she could rewind time and take away Christen’s hurt. 

Christen shook her head against Tobin’s neck, a small smile on her face because finally, after two years, Tobin was learning not to apologize for everything.

“I miss planting,” Tobin hummed, walking them back toward the bed to sit down and meditate. 

“Me too. I can’t wait for when you get to play with me,” Christen said, crawling onto the bed so she could get into her meditation position.

“Oh, are you going to pass the ball to me?” Tobin teased, poking Christen’s calf as she moved onto the bed. 

Christen arched a brow in Tobin’s direction. “Depends on how many kisses I get before that game,” Christen quipped, crossing her legs and dropping her hands to her knees as she sat straight up.

“I think I can manage to get in a few,” Tobin said, dropping down onto the bed, lying on her back next to Christen, and closing her eyes. 

Christen was only able to try for a few seconds before she found herself breaking the silence. “Is it weird how not weird this is?” she asked quietly, her eyes still closed, her hands on her knees, but her mind on the girl lying next to her.

“It feels like the most natural thing I’ve ever done,” Tobin exhaled. “Were you expecting this to be awkward?”

Christen felt her chest warm with Tobin’s heartfelt response. “I don’t know, but I’m really happy it’s not. You’re right, it feels really natural. Like, we’ve kind of always been doing this,” Christen admitted. 

“Well just because we weren’t kissing a year ago doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about it,” Tobin whispered, glad that both of their eyes were closed and unable to see each other’s blushing cheeks and dorky smiles. 

Christen’s smile was so big it was starting to hurt her cheeks. She knew they’d get moments like this moving forward, where they could be honest about everything that had been building up to where they were now. She was excited to hear about all the times Tobin had thought about kissing her, even more excited to tell Tobin about all the times she had thought about it too. But then she really thought about how many moments like that there were, how it had taken two years to get here, how they could have been doing this the whole time if she hadn’t been so scared.

“Did we waste too much time?” Christen voiced the worry that ran through her mind quickly, keeping her eyes tightly shut.

Tobin opened her eyes at that question, a worry wrinkle forming between her eyebrows. “No time I’ve spent with you has been wasted,” Tobin said. “Maybe I wasted some time this summer without you, but I’ll just have to make up for it as much as I can.”

Christen felt a long breath escape her, one she hadn’t realized she’d been storing up alongside that worry. Tobin was right, no time they spent together, building the foundations of their friendship, could ever have been a waste. 

“I’ve got some ideas on how you could do that, you know,” Christen smirked, shooting a quick look at Tobin out of the corner of her eye.

“Want to tell me now? Or...should I let you meditate first?” Tobin grinned. 

Christen opened her eyes fully now, looking down at Tobin. With a smirk, she uncrossed her legs and threw one over Tobin’s hips. She hovered above Tobin, their lips inches apart, loving the way Tobin’s eyes lit up. 

“I can always meditate on the bus.”


“Shit,” Tobin groaned, kicking the ground with her sneaker. 

San Diego State’s team screamed, all of the players throwing themselves onto number 3 after she scored a goal in the last seconds of the first half. The small, but rowdy, crowd in the stands cheered, and Tobin watched as her teammates’ shoulders dropped. Christen looked tired. She looked frustrated and exhausted, and Tobin couldn’t help but wonder if she’d messed up by having Christen hold her all night, by keeping Christen up before a game. 

“I don’t know what you said to make Press angry enough to score four goals last game, but I need you to do it again,” Coach Foudy said, knocking her shoulder into Tobin’s. 

“I don’t think that’ll work,” Tobin mumbled, trying to keep the smile off her face, especially when her team was down 1-0 to a team that they really shouldn’t have let score anyway. 

Coach Foudy eyed Tobin strangely, having caught the pep back in her step and the smiles she wore when she thought nobody else was watching. “Well, then we’ve got to strategize, Heath, because whatever we’re doing right now isn’t working. Half time needs to be here-”

Just then, the referee blew the whistle and Coach Foudy let out a relieved sigh.

“Coach, can Chris and I stay on the field for a second?” Tobin asked, looking at Coach Foudy and hoping she’d agree. 

“Sure thing, Heath,” Coach Foudy replied, walking out of the bench area toward the Away Locker Room.

Christen tried not to hang her head. She wanted to walk off the field with her head held high, despite the scoreboard. But she couldn’t. She was off, even if everything in her life was back on track. Her legs were tired and she always seemed just half a step off, on her passes and on her runs. She’d been in denial about how off she truly was until her fifth shot of the night hit the goal post. At this point, she was ready to be subbed and just throw in the towel. 

Christen was the last one walking off the field, everyone else in small groups or on their own in front of her, with her head bowed and her eyes on the grass in front of her cleats.

Tobin followed Coach Foudy out of the bench area, turning left instead of right and walking toward the field, reaching a hand out as subtly as possible to grab onto the corner of Christen’s jersey. 

“Come on,” Tobin said, softly, walking toward the edge of the field and hoping Christen would follow. 

Christen’s brow furrowed, but she followed Tobin anyway, pushing aside her confusion.

“I don’t know about you, but the sun feels perfect today,” Tobin sighed, turning around to face Christen. 

“The sun set ten minutes ago,” Christen replied, her voice tired. She wiped away the sweat on her forehead and refocused on Tobin standing a foot away from her.

“I don’t know, Chris. Maybe I’m just feeling the warmth of the stadium lights, but I have this sudden urge to plant,” Tobin whispered, sending a small smile to Christen. 

Christen breathed out a laugh and shook her head. They hadn’t planted before the game because of the watchful eyes of their too-curious-for-their-own-good teammates around them. But now, the teams had cleared the field, the spectators weren’t paying attention, and it was just the two of them.

“I don’t think planting’s going to solve my problems. I can’t buy a goal tonight,” Christen replied, her smile mirroring Tobin’s even if her words sounded defeated.

“I don’t know…” Tobin hummed, lifting her arms at her sides and getting into the planting position. “I already feel better. You wouldn’t want to ruin the juju and not at least try, right?”

Christen narrowed her eyes a bit, hearing the slight challenge in Tobin’s voice. With a sigh, Christen walked over to Tobin, stood close by, and stuck her arms out to her sides. She grabbed onto Tobin’s hand loosely, wanting the contact.

“I’ll at least try,” Christen replied, tilting her head back and letting her eyes fall shut.

“Good,” Tobin said. She let the silence surround them for a few minutes, enjoying Christen’s hand in hers and the sound of their breathing. It wasn’t until Tobin heard spectators talking behind them that she opened her mouth to speak again. 

“So, how many kisses do you want in exchange for a goal?” Tobin asked, a smirk on her face. 

Christen barked out a laugh, not breaking plant position but squeezing Tobin’s hand in her own. She was already feeling lighter than she had a few minutes ago.

“Dealer’s choice,” Christen replied.

“That’s dangerous,” Tobin laughed. “Two goals and I’ll give you a bunch of kisses and order you room service too.”

“Three goals and you have to lose your shirt before the room service gets there,” Christen shot back, her smile growing.

Tobin’s stomach dropped. She could feel her entire face blushing, and she was suddenly glad that Christen couldn’t see her and laugh about making her flustered. 

“I think you should go for three,” Tobin husked, not even trying to mask the desire in her voice. 

“I was already planning on it, Tobs,” Christen hummed, squeezing Tobin’s hand a final time before releasing it and opening her eyes. She turned to face Tobin, gratitude written across her face. “Thanks, I needed this.”

“Me too,” Tobin sighed. “I haven’t meditated since June.” 

Christen’s eyes grew a bit sad at the admission and suddenly she wished they were anywhere but at this game. She wished she could take Tobin in her arms and kiss away the worry wrinkle that had returned between Tobin’s eyebrows.

“We can meditate anytime you want,” Christen said gently.

“Not tonight,” Tobin grinned. “I’m eating room service shirtless with you.” She turned around, walking toward the locker room at a slow pace so that Christen could catch up. 

Christen felt her face flush and she struggled to breathe, hurrying after Tobin and praying that her heart rate returned to normal before she got back into the locker room. As she sat down between Crystal and Megan, pretending to tune into Coach Foudy’s rousing speech, her eyes drifted across the room to Tobin. Tobin was leaning against the wall, looking effortless and beautiful and perfect. Tobin seemed to feel her eyes and looked over, shooting her a quick wink before focusing back in on Coach Foudy. 

God, Tobin Heath was definitely going to be the death of her, and Christen wouldn’t have it any other way.


“Three goals? Really, Pressy, you couldn’t have shared the good fortune?” Megan groaned, dropping into her seat in front of Tobin. 

“Don’t complain. She literally saved our asses from embarrassment,” Crystal laughed. 

“Everyone did great tonight,” Christen shook her head, trying to deflect. 

“Not everyone scored three goals. That’s pretty im-press-ive,” Tobin whispered, looking down at her book and stifling her grin. 

“Was that a compliment? Guys, did you hear that? I just got a compliment,” Christen said, leaning over the back of the seat to look down at Megan and Crystal.

“Tobin literally compliments you all the time,” Megan snorted. “You just hate it when she does.”

“Well, I’m too happy to hate it right now. We just beat San Diego State! God, what a comeback! Total team effort,” Christen grinned, dropping back down into her seat beside Tobin, her energy infectious.

“Work fast, Tobito! Now’s your chance!” Megan teased, sending Kelley into a fit of laughter from where she stood further down the aisle. 

“Even if she does hate you again in five minutes, you’re stuck sitting together now,” Kelley replied with a smirk. “These bus buddy pairings are for life!”

Tobin couldn’t help the grin that slipped onto her face. She opted to stay quiet, not trusting herself to say anything that wouldn’t be incriminating. 

“It’s true, this is a winning combination now,” Christen replied, trying to keep the happiness from her voice. “We’re stuck.”

“Damn, who put happiness sprinkles on your avocado toast this morning?” Megan asked, turning around in her seat. 

“Is that what made you choke on it?” Crystal teased, turning in her seat as well, looking between Christen and Tobin, her eyes still holding onto their suspicion. 

Christen knew if anyone was going to figure this thing out, it was going to be Crystal. Crystal was too smart and observant, there was no way they were going to fool her for long. Christen rolled her eyes at Megan and Crystal, making a conscious effort to put space between her and Tobin.

Tobin cleared her throat and pulled her eyes away from her book, glancing at Christen’s face before looking at Megan and Crystal. 

“You guys played really well today too,” Tobin said, trying to pull focus away from Christen. 

“Calm your tits. We already forgave you. Just focus on her,” Megan scoffed, dropping back down into her seat. 

“And me! I want a compliment too!” Kelley yelled from her spot a few rows in front of them.

“You did a great job, Kel!” Tobin called, unable to look at her and not remember that Kelley had peed in front of her that morning. 

Christen snorted and turned to look out the window, also having thought of the bathroom incident this morning. Christen felt her phone vibrate against her leg and she looked down at it, feeling a smile tug at her lips.

 

[Tobin Heath 9:25PM]

Dream room service order?

[Christen Press 9:25PM]

French fries. All the french fries.

[Tobin Heath 9:25PM]

A healthy choice, one of the things I admire most about you.

[Christen Press 9:25PM]

I think I earned fries tonight. And ice cream.

[Tobin Heath 9:26PM]

You earned whatever you want... 

[Christen Press 9:26PM]

I thought I made what I wanted quite clear at halftime.

 

Tobin couldn’t keep the blush off of her cheeks. She knew that if anyone turned around they would accuse her of flirting with someone on her phone, which would be true. 

 

[Tobin Heath 9:27PM]

Thank God we’re in the back row...

[Christen Press 9:27PM]

Thank God I volunteered to room alone 😉

[Tobin Heath 9:27PM]

One of your best decisions

[Tobin Heath 9:27PM]

I can’t wait to be alone with you

[Christen Press 9:27PM]

You read my mind! I was thinking the same thing!

[Tobin Heath 9:27PM]

Watching you play, Chris…

 

Christen gulped, wetting her lips and doing everything in her power not to look over at Tobin right now. She forced herself to keep looking out the window, the cool glass doing little to calm the fire burning beneath her skin. 

 

[Christen Press 9:28PM]

Yeah?

[Tobin Heath 9:28PM]

I enjoy it. That’s all 😏

[Tobin Heath 9:28PM]

You’re beautiful 

[Christen Press 9:28PM]

So are you. I meant to tell you that earlier today and I didn’t because I’m a dork, but I’m telling you now 😊

[Tobin Heath 9:28PM]

Do you hear that?

 

Christen looked over at Tobin quickly, a bit confused at the sudden change of topic. But Tobin’s face wasn’t giving anything away.

 

[Christen Press 9:29PM]

Hear what? 

[Tobin Heath 9:29PM]

I just didn’t know if you could hear my heart all the way over there. It’s beating really fast 💓

 

Christen lifted her hand to her mouth, hiding her smile behind it. How was Tobin this smooth, yet dorky and cheesy all at the same time? 

“I love you,” Christen thought, her stomach tightening when she realized exactly what words had floated through her mind. She hesitated, expecting fear to overtake her. She waited for it and waited for it, then waited some more. But it never came. All she felt was warmth and peace and acceptance, and a small flutter of nerves too. But no fear. It made her want to cry and cheer and smile and laugh, all at the same time. 

She loved Tobin Heath. She was in love with Tobin Heath. She’d known it for a while now, had been trying her best not to think about it or even admit it to herself. But while she sat there, next to Tobin, on a bus ride that would take them back to a hotel where they would get to fall asleep in each other’s arms and be open and honest with each other like they’d always wanted to, Christen admitted it to herself. She admitted it and embraced it and let it make her heart soar.

 

[Tobin Heath 9:30PM]

Are you okay? 

[Christen Press 9:30PM]

Sorry got lost in my own head there for a second! I’m great, I promise. 

 

Tobin studied Christen’s face, looking for something in her eyes or in the way she was holding her mouth. She looked for fear or worry, but she didn’t find any. She fought the urge to reach over and hold Christen’s hand, reminding herself that she’d be able to hold all of Christen in her arms as soon as they got to the hotel and she evaded Allie. 

 

[Christen Press 9:30PM]

Stop worrying, I’m great, Tobs. Really.

[Tobin Heath 9:31PM]

Okay. Can we get cake?

 

Christen chuckled out loud, hoping Megan and Crystal were too lost in their own conversation to hear her. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” the words repeated like a mantra through her head, wanting to burst out of her. But she held them in. She wasn’t going to text them, or whisper them in the back of the bus. She would wait and find the perfect moment. They deserved perfect.

 

[Christen Press 9:31PM]

Duh! Cake, fries, ice cream, and...anything else?

[Tobin Heath 9:31PM]

...kisses, cuddles, no shirts as you suggested 

[Christen Press 9:31PM]

My shirt was never part of the bargain 😏

 

Tobin looked over to Christen with a serious pout on her face. She waited until Christen finally looked over at her, making her eyes big and sad and pushing her bottom lip out just slightly. 

“What?” Christen whispered, conscious to keep her voice extremely low. She was trying to stay strong in the face of the pout.  

 

[Tobin Heath 9:32PM]

I want to admire a shirtless you too, though. And give you kisses and whatever else you want

 

Christen read the text and then looked back up. “You can do all of that when I’m in-” Christen whispered, stopping to tug at the t-shirt she’d thrown on after the game.

 

[Tobin Heath 9:32PM]

Is this the sting of rejection?

 

Christen wanted to kiss that stupid smirk right off of Tobin’s face. In all honesty, she almost did. Instead, she rolled her eyes and sent off a reply.

 

[Christen Press 9:33PM]

You’re so dramatic and you have a very good pout and I am very very weak, so maybe no shirts for the two of us

[Tobin Heath 9:33PM]

You’re so merciful 

 

“Merciful?” Christen thought to herself. That was no way to win the fluster war. She locked her phone and put it down in her lap. She gave a quick look around the bus, noticing everyone facing forward, or focused on their phones. Even Megan and Crystal were too busy talking in the row in front of them to be paying them much mind. 

With a smirk of her own, Christen reached out and placed her hand on Tobin’s upper thigh, letting her thumb move across the fabric of Tobin’s sweatpants as her fingers flexed and gripped Tobin’s inner thigh. 

Tobin nearly jerked out of her seat, not expecting Christen to be as brazen as she was. Warmth pooled in her stomach, and she had to bite back the sighs that threatened to slip from her lips. She felt her heart beat against her ribcage and her pulse pound in her ears. Tobin gripped the armrest of her seat, forcing herself not to call attention to what Christen was doing. “She’s literally just touching your leg. Relax.” But she couldn’t relax, not when Christen’s fingers were brushing her leg softly and gripping with more force. 

Christen, after making sure nobody was looking back at them still, leaned over slowly, ghosting her lips across the shell of Tobin’s ear when she got close enough. 

“Whatever else I want?” Christen husked, her voice so low only Tobin could hear it.

Tobin bit her bottom lip, not wanting to moan like she had that one time in the club. She nodded quickly, knowing that Christen Press had officially won any and all competition they could ever have to fluster one another. 

“I want…” Christen trailed off, her lips centimeters from Tobin’s ear, her hot breath making Tobin shiver.

“What?” Tobin husked. 

Christen lowered her head and dropped a quick kiss to the side of Tobin’s neck. “I definitely want some lemonade,” she whispered before leaning back and retracting her hand from Tobin’s leg, a shit-eating grin on her face.

Tobin slouched in her seat, grumbling under her breath and opening her book again. “I’m sure you can get that in one of the vending machines.” 

Christen didn’t stop smiling the entire bus ride back, the elevator ride upstairs, not even after she’d taken a quick shower and changed into the nicest thing she’d brought - a pair of sweats without holes in them and Tobin’s sweatshirt.

The two knocks came at 10:27. She quickly let Tobin in, who was weighed down by their room service order, after having met the guy down the hall and offered to take it the rest of the way.

“I wondered what happened to that thing,” Tobin grinned, nodding her head toward her sweatshirt and walking into the room. “So much for borrowing it for a week.”

Christen flushed, feeling a little bad about keeping the sweatshirt hostage for so long. “I didn’t want to leave it, and then I didn’t have the heart to give it back. It was all I had left for a while,” Christen shrugged, not meaning to have gone so serious so quickly.

Tobin placed the food on top of the dresser and turned around to look at Christen, trying to swallow down the guilt she felt at Christen’s words. “It looks better on you. I’m really glad you kept it.” 

Christen smiled and stepped forward, wrapping an arm around Tobin’s waist and bringing them closer together. 

“Me too,” Christen hummed, eyes crinkling as she looked at the guilt receding in Tobin’s brown eyes, replaced with something resembling peace.

“Wait, you brought that with you?” Tobin asked. 

Christen nodded.

“Even though you hated me before this trip?”

“I told you I never hated you, remember? Twenty-four hours ago, near this spot, ring any bells?” Christen asked.

“I don’t know if I do...sometimes I need reminders,” Tobin whispered, pulling Christen’s hips closer to her own. 

“So smooth,” Christen replied, closing the last bit of space between them and kissing Tobin like she’d been wanting to since halftime, since before halftime, since whenever their last kiss had been. 

“I opposite of hate you,” Christen whispered against Tobin’s lips, not wanting to come out and admit love just yet, but wanting to give Tobin something more to hold on to.

“I opposite of hate you too, but you already know that,” Tobin smiled, running her nose along Christen’s. 

“Wanna know what else that I know?” Christen replied, fingers tightening in the material of Tobin’s shirt.

“What’s that?” 

“French fries are best warm and you look best without your shirt on,” Christen grinned, backing away, feeling her cheeks warm at the suggestiveness dripping from her tone. She’d been so bold, so brazen in the bus, but now that the moment was here, she wasn’t sure she could handle Tobin shirtless. To be face to face with those abs and those hip bones and every beautiful, sexy, gorgeous part of her.

“A promise is a promise,” Tobin mumbled, pulling her shirt off in one fluid motion, leaving her in just a sports bra. She dropped her shirt to the floor and reached out to take the cover off of the plate of the fries. 

Tobin watched as Christen stared at her, unable to stop herself from smirking at the want in Christen’s eyes. 

“Everything okay?” Tobin asked, holding out the fries to Christen. 

Christen cleared her throat, pulling at the top of the sweatshirt as a flush crept up her neck.

“Super,” Christen nodded, willing her eyes not to drop away from Tobin’s face. She couldn’t look down. She wasn’t strong enough to handle Tobin's abs right now.

“Super-duper,” Tobin nearly chirped, walking over to the bed, setting the fries down on the bedside table, and flopping onto the mattress. “Want to watch a movie or something?”

Christen shook herself out of her daze and swallowed thickly. “How does Mamma Mia 2 sound?” she asked with a small smile, taking the sweatshirt off quickly, knowing she’d get too hot if she kept it on, leaving her in a simple white t-shirt. 

“You did say I needed to rewatch it, but I’m not sure I’ll focus much better this time,” Tobin hummed, taking one of the fries from the plate and lifting it toward her mouth. 

“Focus gets rewarded,” Christen shot back, hopping onto the bed, but not before stealing the fry from Tobin’s hand and eating it quickly.

“I will be on my best behavior, then,” Tobin whispered, grabbing another fry for herself. 

The two settled in for the night, their legs tangled together, Christen’s computer resting on their laps. They traded fries and kisses and whispered sweet-nothings for hours, both never wanting this night to end, both not paying attention to Mamma Mia 2 for the second time.