Phone lights up my nightstand in the black
Come here, you can meet me in the back
Dark jeans and your Nikes, look at you
Oh damn, never seen that color blue
Just think of the fun things we could do
'Cause I like you
This ain't for the best
My reputation's never been worse, so
You must like me for me...
Yeah, I want you
(Tobin - “Delicate” by Taylor Swift)
It's like you're carrying all the weight of your past
I could tell all your bruises, yellow, dark blue, and black
But baby a bruise is, only your body
Tryna keep you intact
And I can tell
When you get nervous
You think being yourself means being unworthy
And it's hard to love with a heart that's hurting
But if you want to go out dancing
I know a place (ooh)
I know a place we can go (yeah)
(Christen - “I Know A Place” by MUNA)
TUESDAY - November 30th
Tobin tossed a gummy bear into the air and caught it in her mouth without lifting her head off the arm of the couch. Her feet were situated on top of a very sleepy Allie. Neither of them was really watching the sitcom that was playing on the TV, but the background noise was nice.
They were in their fourth hour of hard chill, having only gotten off the couch to use the bathroom and get more snacks a couple of times. Their training that morning had been more intense than anyone had expected, and Tobin’s legs were exhausted. Unlike Allie, though, Tobin had been sleeping amazingly and didn’t feel the need to pass out on the couch. She had been largely nightmare-free for a few weeks, and her sleep schedule had gone from four hours to eight, thanks to Rory’s medication and Christen keeping her on a tight sleep schedule.
“‘Sup bitches,” Ashlyn groaned, sinking into the couch. She was a bit tired and sore from this morning’s training as well.
“Harry’s not here right now,” Tobin hummed, poking her feet against Allie’s leg. “I can take a message for her though.”
“Wha-?” Allie sat up with a start, looking around, disoriented. “This isn’t The Virgin Islands...”
Ashlyn snorted and winked at Tobin. “You sure, Allie? You were cuddled up with one just now.”
“You suck,” Tobin grumbled, throwing a gummy bear at Ashlyn. “And, you snore. Poor Bati,” Tobin said, tossing another gummy bear into her own mouth and placing her bare feet back into Allie’s lap.
“Bati loves my snoring,” Allie replied, pushing Tobin’s feet from her lap and getting to her feet. She stretched loudly and obnoxiously, earning her annoyed laughter from her roommates, and then walked to the kitchen. “Whatcha guys want to order for dinner? Pizza or pizza?"
“I just want fries,” Tobin whined, dropping her head back on the couch.
“I want to be in Louisville already, having won the Natty so we can celebrate,” Ashlyn added.
“With fries,” Tobin nodded.
“Way to dream big, Harry,” Allie laughed, hopping over the back of the couch, a new bag of Goldfish in her hands.
“Okay, fine. Fries and kisses,” Tobin mumbled.
“Aww is someone missing their girlfriend who literally lives three doors down?” Ashlyn teased.
“She said she was getting work done, so that she’ll be ahead when we get back,” Tobin sighed.
“What a nerd,” Allie chuckled.
“She’s a cute nerd,” Tobin added, her phone buzzing in her back pocket.
Ashlyn and Allie shared a look of amusement. Ashlyn pretended to crack a whip and Allie snickered.
“Speak of her, and she shall appear,” Tobin smiled, looking down at her phone screen and the text notifications from Christen.
[Chris 💗 4:38PM]
I’ve got a crazy idea
[Chris 💗 4:38PM]
You should come over
[Chris 💗 4:38PM]
I’m lonely. All my roommates ditched me to get dinner 😔
[Chris 💗 4:38PM]
Please? I’ll make the trip worth it...
Tobin’s heart beat faster in her chest. She and Christen hadn’t crossed any more lines or broken any more rules since Halloween. They’d bumped into that line many times, and after a dinner date last week, they almost did break all of their rules. They probably would have if Megan hadn’t come back home early from dinner with her parents.
It had been difficult for Tobin to forget that moment: shirts off and on the floor, wandering hands, pants almost coming off...but then, Megan Rapinoe and her poor timing. If Tobin didn’t know any better, she’d have thought there was some universe-level conspiracy to keep interrupting them.
Soccer and classes had kept them both busy enough to avoid the subject and stick to their original rules, but the thought hadn’t left Tobin’s mind. She wouldn’t say she was dying, but she was having more and more trouble looking at Christen and not thinking about taking her back to her room and...
“She’s frozen,” Ashlyn observed, nudging Allie with her foot. She nodded at where Tobin sat on the couch, her mouth flopped open.
“Did C.P. sext you? Send a nakey pic?” Allie teased, wondering what could have possibly sent Tobin into silent shock.
Tobin shook her head softly, handing her phone to Allie and waiting for advice. “Does this mean the same thing to you as it does to me?”
“This is a booty call, hundo-p,” Allie nodded, handing the phone to Ashlyn.
Ashlyn looked at the texts and smirked, tossing the phone back to Tobin. “You better hurry before those roomies come back.”
Tobin shot up off the couch, taking in her appearance, bare feet, bruised shins, basketball shorts, and a ratty t-shirt that she’d stolen from her brother.
“Oh my GAWD this is so exciting! Our baby’s first sexy times! Did you read that book I got you?” Allie asked with a laugh.
“Fuck the book, how about those Youtube tutorials I sent you?” Ashlyn quipped.
“I’ve been a little busy,” Tobin huffed, pushing her hair back and away from her face.
“So you’re going in blind?” Allie asked, her eyes widening.
“I mean, how hard can it be, right?” Tobin said with a shrug. “It’s supposed to be a natural thing…” Tobin trailed off. “I can watch one of the videos while I change.”
Ashlyn snorted. “Oh you sweet summer child, do me- no, do you and Pressy a favor and google tongue techniques before you go over there.”
Tobin furiously typed in her search browser, tilting her head slightly at the first images she saw. Her cheeks flushed beet red and she quickly locked her phone. She would rather go in blind than keep searching the interwebs for advice.
“Are you ready? Did you shave? Do you need a condom? Breath mints?” Allie asked, following Tobin upstairs to her bedroom, Ashlyn hot on her heels.
“I’ve been shaving every day since Halloween,” Tobin admitted, a soft blush spreading across her cheeks. “I have mints. I don’t think I need a condom...Ash?”
“Depends, do either of you two possess certain...playthings?” Ashlyn asked, her smirk growing at the deer in headlights look on Tobin’s face.
“Nope,” Tobin quickly said, pulling her shirt off and grabbing the nearest clean shirt she could find, a thin white shirt with a small front pocket. “At least...I don’t think she does. Oh my god, what if she does? I should have asked her that. Should I text her and ask?”
“Dude, chill. That’s a bridge to cross in person when you get there,” Ashlyn assured.
“Trust me, don’t text about that shit. You never know who’s looking over their shoulder...Bati’s mom will never look at me that same way,” Allie sighed dramatically.
Tobin traded her shorts for a pair of blue jeans. “Right. Got it. I should tell her I’m coming over, though,” Tobin said, still feeling a little breathless.
[Tobs 💜 4:43 ]
I’ll be over in a few minutes
“I wish I hadn’t eaten gummy bears. I feel all jittery,” Tobin mumbled, pulling on her sneakers and looking at her hair in the small mirror on her dresser.
“You got this, dude,” Ashlyn encouraged, clapping Tobin on the shoulder.
Allie held a hand over her heart, looking at Tobin with pride. “She grew up so fast, Ash. I think I’m gonna cry. Like, today was my last day to cuddle with a Virgin Island and I didn’t even know!”
“Don’t say that yet. I haven’t actually...done it. You might jinx it or something,” Tobin said, her face fully flushing now. “Should I drive to the store and get flowers or something? Is that too formal?”
“Nah, no flowers. I’ve got something better,” Ashlyn grinned. She led Tobin and Allie downstairs to the kitchen. She opened the fridge and pulled out a box with two red velvet cupcakes inside.
“Ali’s flight got canceled, so we’re just meeting up in Louisville. These won’t keep until then, so you take them with you,” Ashlyn said.
“Hey, what if I wanted a cupcake?” Allie replied, mock-offended she wasn’t given the option.
“You’re not swiping your v-card,” Ashlyn replied, handing the box of cupcakes to Tobin.
“You’re the best,” Tobin sighed, holding the cupcakes and making her way to the door. “Any last-minute advice?” Tobin asked, her hand on the doorknob.
“Don’t mix up the holes,” Allie said with a sweet smile on her face despite her raunchy words.
“Oh my god,” Tobin winced.
“Tongue tutorials, trust me,” Ashlyn winked.
“Great, I’ll try to watch that without Christen knowing that’s what I’m doing,” Tobin sighed, rolling her eyes. Her stomach was somersaulting with excitement and anticipation. She pulled the door open and saluted her roommates. “See you on the other side.”
Tobin sped walked to Christen’s house, unable to slow down or keep the smile off her face. The only reason she wasn’t running to Christen’s house was because she didn’t want to mess up the cupcakes in the box. She climbed up the porch steps carefully, pulling her phone out to text Christen that she was at the door.
[Chris 💗 4:44PM]
Door’s unlocked. Come on up when you get here, baby!
“Ooookay,” Tobin sighed, not completely sure why Christen didn’t want to come to the door like she always did. “Oh my god, what if she’s naked?” Tobin thought, closing the door behind her and locking it, just in case. She climbed up the stairs and pushed Christen’s bedroom door open. She couldn’t stop the way her eyebrows scrunched together in confusion when she saw Christen.
Christen was burrowed beneath her weighted blanket, with an aloe vera and lavender face mask on, the complete opposite of naked.
“Hey there,” Tobin said, still standing at the door, completely unsure of what was going on.
Christen looked up from her computer that was on her lap and grinned at Tobin. “Baby!” she replied happily, closing her computer and setting it aside. She didn’t get up from the bed, since she was a bit trapped under the weighted blanket. She gestured for Tobin to come in and smiled warmly.
Christen had been missing the brunette, and even if she still had a bit more work to do, she’d much rather spend time with Tobin. Her plan for the night was to chill, to get them in a great headspace for their upcoming trip. They were headed to Louisville for the NCAA Final Four and since she was feeling a bit nervous about the games, she’d decided a night of self-care was needed, and she wanted Tobin to be there with her. She’d gotten Tobin a face mask too, and she even bought a Christmas Tree-scented candle, just for Tobin.
Tobin stepped into the room, more confused than excited now, although she couldn’t deny that Christen did look ridiculously adorable in her face mask.
“You’ve got something on your face,” Tobin hummed as she dropped her wallet and keys on Christen’s bedside table and sat down on the edge of the bed.
Christen chuckled. “You will too. I got you a charcoal face mask that’s meant to soothe and rejuvenate.”
“That sounds so fun,” Tobi replied, nodding her head slowly at Christen’s words. “You totally read those texts wrong,” Tobin thought, trying to replay the moment she’d gotten them and Allie and Ashlyn’s reactions to them too.
“Should I have gotten the eucalyptus one? I wasn’t sure which you’d prefer. I should have just gotten both,” Christen sighed, a bit thrown off by the clear disappointment on Tobin’s face.
“Oh, charcoal’s great!” Tobin said, putting more enthusiasm behind her words.
“Tell that to your face. You look insanely bummed, Tobs,” Christen replied, tilting her head to the side.
“I won’t have to tell my face. Once the mask is on I’ll know it’s great! I, uh, I brought cupcakes,” Tobin added. If there was one thing she’d learned from life it was that food could make people forgive and forget. It could distract people and change people’s moods from hangry to ecstatic. She just hoped the cupcakes would distract Christen enough to avoid embarrassment.
Christen grinned, pushing the weighted blanket off of her lap. “Aw, that’s so sweet. You didn’t have to bring anything over, it’s just a self-care night!”
“A self-care night...why couldn’t she have mentioned that in her texts?” Tobin thought to herself, feeling the makings of a pout coming on.
She scratched the back of her neck and chuckled weakly. “Ash gave them to me. I really didn’t do anything more than carry them over,” Tobin said, opening the box and looking at the cupcakes.
Christen wanted to kiss Tobin, to show her that she did do something, something so very special and sweet. But she couldn’t, she’d get her face mask on Tobin if she did. So instead, Christen rubbed her thumb along Tobin’s forearm, trying to catch her attention.
“You did more than that- wait, why are you in jeans? You left the LR in sweats.”
“Jeans are nice,” Tobin shrugged, running her finger in one of the cupcake’s icing and sticking her finger in her mouth. “I like jeans,” she mumbled.
Christen narrowed her eyes at Tobin, picking up on the evasiveness of her tone, the shifting of her eyes. Something else was going on here and she was going to figure it out.
“Hold that thought, I need to de-face mask,” Christen replied, hopping off the bed, but not before snagging a bit of icing off of the other cupcake first. She walked to the bathroom and felt her phone buzz in her sweats’ pocket. After rinsing her face off, she patted it dry and looked at her phone.
[Allie Long 4:50]
Christen’s brow furrowed as she walked back into her bedroom. “Uh, Tobs?”
“Yes?” Tobin said, more icing on her index finger now.
“Why is Allie Long sending me eggplant emojis?” Christen asked, dropping onto the bed next to Tobin and fixing her with a curious look.
Tobin let out a nervous laugh before shoving her finger, and the icing on it, into her mouth. “Honestly, I don’t know why Allie does half the things she does.”
Christen’s eyes widened and she held up a finger, poking the tip of Tobin’s nose with it. “You just called her Allie! What the heck is going on with you?”
“That’s her name!” Tobin sighed, knowing she’d been caught.
“Nope, there’s more to it than that. Come on, girlfriend of mine, spill,” Christen replied, eyes holding Tobin’s as she played with the ripped part of Tobin’s jeans.
“I may have read into something…” Tobin said so quietly that she knew Christen probably hadn’t heard.
“Little louder, baby,” Christen hummed.
Tobin lifted a hand to her face to cover her eyes. “I read into something, and I clearly read wrong.”
Christen felt her brow furrow. “What did Tobin read into?” And then Christen realized. She put everything together and felt her cheeks flame. The fact it took her this long post-eggplant emojis was embarrassing.
“Oh baby,” Christen sighed, smiling a bit at Tobin’s embarrassed flush.
“To be fair to me, Allie and Ash read it wrong too, so I’ll blame them for the crappy advice and for encouraging that,” Tobin sighed, lowering her hand and looking down at the cupcakes.
Christen reached up to push some of Tobin’s hair away from her face. She tugged on Tobin’s chin to get Tobin to look at her. When their eyes met, Christen smiled softly.
“I didn’t mean to make it seem like I was booty calling you,” Christen said, trying to keep the slight amusement out of her voice.
Tobin held up a weak thumbs-up, feeling more embarrassed by the second.
“I wouldn’t want our first time to come on the heels of a text message invitation,” Christen added, rubbing her thumb across Tobin’s chin.
“So, face masks sound fun,” Tobin said.
Christen laughed, leaning forward to kiss the slight pout off of Tobin’s face. “I really am sorry, baby. But it’s tournament time, so we wouldn’t have done anything anyway.”
“What does that mean?” Tobin asked, her head cocking slightly at the mention of the tournament.
“You don’t mess with the mojo. We’ve never played better and I won’t tempt fate and change things up now,” Christen replied, her hand falling to Tobin’s arm. She ran her fingers up and down Tobin’s forearm gently.
“Wait…” Tobin said, a smile slipping onto her face. “You’re telling me that because of a superstition, you won’t have sex with me before the tournament is over?”
Christen nodded. “We take our superstitions very seriously here in this house. Pinoe isn’t washing her sports bra, Kelley hasn’t washed her socks since the first round, and Crystal has had the same pre-game meal for a month.”
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Tobin laughed, her embarrassment forgotten. “Also super gross! Who are you people?”
Christen playfully pushed Tobin’s shoulder. “It’s not dumb, it’s working , clearly. We’re in the Final Four.”
“I’m sorry, soooo let me get this straight,” Tobin started again.
Christen rolled her eyes, already knowing Tobin was going to tease her mercilessly, but not really finding it in herself to care.
“You would rather win a tournament than have me go down on you right now?” Tobin said, lifting an eyebrow in question.
As heat flooded through her, Christen realized this was one of those moments in life. A moment where her temerity and strength would be tested. She really thought she had been prepared...but she never expected her dedication to her superstitions to be challenged and tested by her gorgeous, sexy girlfriend.
It wasn’t fair, the way Tobin was looking at her, with the sultry look in her eyes and the playful smirk on her lips. It wasn’t fair the way Tobin’s look and her words sent fire down Christen’s spine.
“‘Cause I came over completely ready to do that,” Tobin smirked.
Christen swallowed thickly, feeling suddenly very warm in her sweats. She pulled at the neck of her sweatshirt, averting her eyes away from the way Tobin’s tongue was wetting her lower lip.
“Uh- nope. I mean yup. I- don’t do this to me,” Christen whined.
“Why?” Tobin husked, leaning forward to kiss Christen’s cheek.
“Because I’m weak and you’re sexy, but I also want to win the Natty,” Christen complained, involuntarily leaning into Tobin.
“Baby, we’re going to win,” Tobin said, her words oozing with confidence. “Whether we have sex now or not.”
Maybe it was the mention of winning, but somehow, Christen managed to find some semblance of strength. She jumped up from the bed, putting space between her and Tobin.
“Nope, no, nuh-uh. No sex until we win,” Christen said with more conviction than she felt, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Wow, every girl likes to hear that many no’s when she’s asking to sleep with her girlfriend,” Tobin huffed, leaning back on Christen’s bed, unable to keep the smile off of her face. The whole situation was ridiculous. “Also, way to put pressure on me to score as many goals as possible.”
“As if you weren’t going to score already,” Christen replied with a smile.
“So I have to score and then I get to...score?” Tobin smirked, a goofy grin on her face.
Christen shook her head with a smile. She would never get over Tobin’s unmatched ability to be both extremely sexy and insanely dorky all at the same time.
“That’s one way to put it,” Christen chuckled.
“I can work with that. Now, since I’m here to just cuddle and relax and do a face mask, can I borrow some sweats?” Tobin asked, lifting her head up to look at Christen.
“Borrow whatever you want,” Christen hummed, pulling her sweatshirt over her head and dropping it onto the ground, leaving her in a tank-top.
Tobin stood up from the bed and pulled a pair of sweatpants out of the top drawer. She turned away from Christen and slipped her jeans down, leaving her in just a pair of boyshorts.
Christen caught sight of long tan legs and small, tight-fitting black boyshorts and she almost lost her composure. She almost gave in. Almost.
“You don’t play fair,” Christen pouted, flopping face down onto her bed.
“I just want to give you extra incentive to win the tournament,” Tobin grinned, pulling the sweatpants up her legs and turning around to join Christen in bed.
“I didn’t need it,” Christen groaned into the comforter.
“It’s good to have as much motivation as possible before a big game,” Tobin said, slipping under the covers and leaning back against the pillow that had become hers.
Christen rolled over to look up at Tobin. “Motivation and cupcakes?”
“Mhm, and kisses that won’t lead anywhere,” Tobin added.
“That’s like the definition of self-care,” Christen replied with a smile.
“Can I stay here until we fly to Kentucky?” Tobin asked, rolling into Christen and putting her arm over her waist.
“I was going to say something cheesy like, ‘Stay forever,’ but that’s not practical, we have a flight tomorrow afternoon,” Christen teased, kissing Tobin’s forehead.
“I don’t want to go back to my house again,” Tobin mumbled.
“Aw, baby, you’re going to have to face them eventually,” Christen said with a small chuckle.
“You can come with me. They’ll be nicer if you’re there,” Tobin laughed.
“Deal. Now, I think I heard something about kisses…” Christen trailed off, running her hand across Tobin’s side.
“Yes, ma’am,” Tobin hummed with a smile, lifting her head away from Christen’s neck and kissing her softly.
“The party can officially start! We in this bitch!” Allie yelled, when the plane’s wheels touched down on the Tarmac. “Good afternoon, Louisville!”
“Want to drive back to California after we win?” Tobin asked, squeezing Christen’s hand. “After that turbulence, you’re going to have to sedate me to get me back on another plane.”
Christen ran her thumb along the back of Tobin’s hand, wishing she could kiss the fear away, but she couldn’t. They were in the middle of the charter plane and Coach Foudy was right behind them.
“I’ll tell better stories next time, Tobs. Make sure I keep you really distracted,” Christen replied gently.
Tobin raised her eyebrows slightly, wanting to hear more but fully aware that Foudy was yelling at Allie behind them. “What kind of stories?” Tobin asked, letting her smile change into a smirk.
Christen chuckled. “Not those kinds of stories.”
“I know, I know. Not until we win,” Tobin sighed.
“Those kinds of stories are best told not in the presence of our teammates,” Christen said quietly with an adorable attempt at a wink. “So you’ll have to be patient.”
“That’s okay. I don’t need those stories anyway,” Tobin said, a calm smile on her face.
“Oh you don’t, do you?” Christen teased.
“I’m super focused right now. I’ve completely switched off any other needs besides sleeping and eating and soccer. I’m looking at you right now, and...nothing. All I’m thinking is teammate,” Tobin said, her smile growing as she teased.
Christen smirked and shook her head lightly. “Must be some gift to be able to do that...I’m trying not to think about how I want to celebrate winning the Natty with my girlfriend, who just so happens to be my teammate.”
Tobin’s smile fell immediately. Christen had outsmarted her teasing, and now Tobin could feel herself starting to feel uncomfortable in her seat, a little too hot in her sweatpants.
Christen chuckled at the dumbstruck look on Tobin’s face, feeling a little bad for teasing her so hard. It was her superstitions keeping them apart right now, the least she could do was make it as painless as possible.
“You’re not playing fair,” Tobin mumbled, unbuckling her seatbelt as teammates further up started to file out of the plane.
“I’ll make it worth your while,” Christen replied with a smile, unbuckling her seatbelt and grabbing her backpack. She turned back to Tobin and adjusted Tobin’s snapback for her. “I’m...I’m really happy to be here with you,” she admitted quietly, conscious of others around them.
“Me too,” Tobin grinned, following behind Christen as they walked down the aisle. “Now I don’t have to play against you and get knocked out of the semis.”
“Baby, you did that to yourself. I seem to recall a dirty tackle or two?” Christen threw over her shoulder, walking down the steps of the charter plane.
“We were just energized,” Tobin defended, grabbing onto the back of Christen’s backpack to keep up.
“Energized, sexually frustrated, one and the same these days,” Christen hummed softly in Tobin’s ear as they walked toward the terminal, her hand falling to the small of Tobin’s back.
“I feel bad for our opponents this time,” Tobin laughed. “If I thought I was sexually frustrated then…”
Christen laughed as well, her ears tinged pink and a flush creeping up her neck. “You and me both, Tobs.”
“This mojo or magical juju better work,” Tobin hummed. “I just feel bad for little Mal, having to share a room with Pinoe and her magical sports bra.”
“Poor kid,” Christen sighed. “She’s going to be so scarred.”
“TOBIN!” Mal called from behind them. “I heard you say my name! What’s up?”
Christen chuckled as Mal ran up to join them. She let her hand fall away from Tobin’s back, wanting to keep some semblance of professionalism between them.
“Chris was just talking about how good she thinks you are,” Tobin shrugged. “She’s predicting that you’ll score a goal in the semis.”
Mal turned, wide-eyed, to look at Christen. “I think you’re so cool and that you’ll totally score. I’d love to score. I haven’t found the net all year…”
Christen squeezed Tobin’s elbow gently, silently thanking her for being sweet to Mal. “Hey, I have a good feeling about the semis. My superstitions haven’t failed us yet,” she said with a smile.
Tobin snorted beside Christen, only half-listening to what she was saying to Mal. Instead, she was looking around the airport, slightly anxious to catch a glimpse of her old team.
“They’re flying in later,” Christen whispered, squeezing Tobin’s elbow again before sticking her hand back in her pocket.
“You’re too observant for your own good,” Tobin hummed, smiling at Christen with every ounce of love and admiration she felt in her heart.
“I want what you two have,” Mal sighed, looking at the lovestruck smiles Christen and Tobin sent each other.
“Now’s your chance,” Tobin laughed. “Slide tackle someone in the semifinals, and you’re on your way.”
Mal shrugged. “Beats Tinder,” she said, turning on her heel to look for Rose and Sam. “Bye, Moms!” she added, skipping off.
“Did she just…” Christen asked Tobin, trying and failing not to smile.
“When were you planning on telling me that you have a daughter?” Tobin teased, leading the way to baggage claim.
“Apparently she’s ours, babe,” Christen replied teasingly.
“That’s some serious commitment. We haven’t even had sex,” Tobin whispered, unable to stop the loud laugh that escaped her lips.
Christen flushed and looked around, making sure no one heard them. “You’re getting very comfortable with the subject, Tobs. You’ll talk about it anywhere, these days, even in front of our fake kid.”
“I hear that’s an important first step, but I’ll reign it in,” Tobin said, making her face more serious.
“As long as you keep it off the field, no need to reign in anything,” Christen winked.
Christen felt the ball come off her cleat perfectly, sailing past Barney’s outstretched hand. She smiled as she hustled away from the goal and to the back of the line.
“You’re en fuego, Pressy!” Megan cheered, patting her on the back.
Christen accepted the compliment with a nod. She looked up and watched Tobin take a shot on goal, the ball bending into the far post. She felt a small bit of pride swell within her as she watched Tobin receive a cross and finish that as well.
They might just be doing a little bit of shooting practice to end their light training session tonight, but she’d never get over how incredibly talented Tobin was. Everything about the way she dribbled and shot and scored was effortless. It shouldn’t work, the things she did with the ball, but it did. This quality of hers was the very first thing Christen had noticed about her. It was also one of the first things that had made Christen fall for Tobin. Her love for the game was just infectious.
“Nice one, Tobs!” she called from the back of the line, smiling at her girlfriend as Tobin jogged over.
“Thanks, you too!” Tobin said, pushing hair back from her face. She made sure to keep a good distance from Christen, wanting to be professional, just like they’d agreed upon. Instead of calling Christen by a pet name or giving her a quick hug, Tobin jogged to the end of the line, keeping Megan between the two of them.
Megan looked between Christen and Tobin and pouted. “I wish I got to play with my girlfriend, you two are so luckyyyy!”
“Yeah, we are pretty lucky,” Tobin sighed, grinning over Megan’s shoulder at Christen.
Christen beamed and turned back to the goal, as she was next up in line. She received a pass from Coach Foudy, did a quick step-over move, and sent a rocket of a shot into the upper ninety. As she jogged back to the line, she ran by Tobin and gave her a small pat on the ass.
“That was for you,” Christen whispered with a smile.
Tobin couldn’t keep the huge smile off of her face, grinning like an idiot as she sent her own shot into the back of the net.
“Water break!” Foudy called out, sending the players over to the sidelines, wanting to make sure she didn’t tire anyone out too much tonight. “Press, come here for a sec.”
Christen shrugged at Tobin, Megan, and Crystal, and ran over to where Coach Foudy stood in the middle of the field.
“I don’t want to think too far ahead, since we haven’t played Florida State yet, but...we’ve got a great team this year, and I think we’ll be playing in the finals. That means that there’s a chance we’ll play Penn State,” Foudy finished, her eyebrow raised slightly.
Christen nodded, already having considered this herself. Tobin didn’t seem too fazed by it, they’d talked about the possibility, and even if Tobin was a little nervous to line up against her teammates and friends, she seemed confident she could put that all aside and perform. Christen had only noticed a slight flicker of nerves in Tobin today at the airport, at the prospect of running into her old teammates.
“I guess, what I’m asking is…” Foudy scanned the rest of the team on the sidelines. “I know Tobin liked being on that team. I know she was close with her teammates. Do you think she’ll be able to play against them or do you think I should keep her on the bench and take my chances with a freshman? Mal’s looking good.”
Christen felt her eyes widen. Coach was asking for her opinion on this? This felt like too much pressure, like too big of a decision.
“Coach, I don’t know if I’m the person to tell you that…”
“She’s closest with you. I just figured that you’d know how she’s dealing with all of this. I won’t tell her I talked to you if you think it’s best to sideline her,” Coach Foudy assured.
Christen nodded and looked to the sidelines. She watched Tobin poke a soccer ball between Kelley’s open legs, earning her a punch to the arm from Kelley and laughter from the rest of the team. Tobin looked at home here, on this field, with UCLA across her shirt.
“Tobin is the craftiest, most talented, most dedicated player I’ve ever met,” Christen replied with a small smile. She looked back to Coach Foudy. “It’d be a mistake to keep her out of the game. And I’m not just saying that because we’re close. I believe it.”
“All right,” Foudy said, nodding her head.
“We’re going to win this thing, Coach, and Tobin’s gonna help us do it,” Christen assured.
“You don’t need to sell me on it,” Foudy laughed. “Go get some water.”
Christen shrugged with a smile, “Just wanted to make sure you knew where my heart and my head were at. Thanks, Coach.”
Christen ran over to the sidelines, grabbing a ball as she went. She dribbled over and megged an unsuspecting Kelley, earning her a huge groan.
“You too, Pressy?” Kelley griped, collapsing to the grass in a dramatic heap.
Tobin high-fived Christen, loving that the two of them could gang up on Kelley. “Everything okay?” Tobin asked, handing Christen a water bottle.
Christen nodded, smiling as she took the water bottle. “Everything’s great.”
“Good,” Tobin hummed, not needing any further explanation. “I’m starving.”
“You’re always starving,” Christen replied with an affectionate eye roll.
“It’s an endearing quality, so I’ve heard,” Tobin shrugged, pulling a ball toward her with one foot and starting to juggle.
“I’m hungry too, do you find that endearing, Pressy?” Kelley yelled from the ground, interrupting whatever sweet reply Christen was planning to say.
“I can juggle really well, is that also endearing?” Megan chimed in, starting to juggle in an effort to copy Tobin and tease Christen.
Tobin popped the ball up into the air and caught it between her shoulder blades, looking at Megan with a bit of a competitive, cocky smirk.
“Can you do that?” Christen asked, gesturing at Tobin and grinning at Megan.
Megan grumbled and kicked the ball lightly in Tobin’s direction. “No…”
Tobin pulled Megan’s soccer ball toward her with her left foot, starting to juggle with her feet and balance the other ball on her back at the same time.
“Now you’re just showing off!” Megan complained, helping Kelley up from the ground.
“I have to keep her interested,” Tobin shrugged, letting the ball on her back fall to the ground.
“I doubt that,” Crystal called out, smiling at Christen and the heart eyes she currently had for Tobin. “She’s in deep!”
“That’s what she saaaaaid!'' Kelley yelled, running back toward the field.
“YAAAS K.O.!” Megan replied, dancing back out onto the field, accompanied by some highly amused freshman.
Christen chuckled a bit and then looked over at Tobin. “I don’t know how I’d survive being on this team without you.”
“You did a good job for two years,” Tobin shrugged, kicking the ball toward the field and picking up her own water bottle to take one last sip.
“I prefer it when you’re here,” Christen grinned, walking alongside Tobin back onto the field.
“Good thing I’ll be right here for the next year and a half,” Tobin said, smiling softly, wishing she could take Christen’s hand in her own but very aware of Foudy watching her.
Christen’s smile grew at Tobin’s words. She couldn’t wait for Friday’s game, and then for the finals, and for every moment after that. With Tobin by her side, on and off the field, everything seemed possible.
“This is impossible,” Christen grumbled. She was trying to find a way to get the Oreo from her forehead, down into her mouth, without using her hands, and she was failing.
Coach Foudy had insisted on a fun team bonding evening to keep spirits up for tomorrow’s game against Florida State. Her idea of fun was ‘minute-to-win-it' games, just a bunch of silly and ridiculous games meant to be entertaining and embarrassing. She had split the team down the middle and made them compete against each other for the grand prize - choice of Gatorade flavor for the game tomorrow.
On team ‘Party People’, Allie and Tobin were the leaders, keeping Mal and Kelley from screwing up the games too badly. They were joined by Alyssa and a few other sophomores. So far they’d done a decent job, managing to win the dance-off and the Traffic Yam, where Kelley had pushed a sweet potato all the way across the room with her nose, beating a giggling Sam Mewis in the race.
They were competing against team ‘In It To Win It’. Christen and Crystal were trying their best to keep Megan, Sam, and Rose in line, with varying degrees of success. They were joined by Barney and Ashlyn, and a few others. They’d managed to win the round where Rose had juggled three oranges in the air, embarrassing a severely uncoordinated Mal, and then the Shamrock Shake, where Crystal was able to shake ping pong balls out of an empty Kleenex box that was strapped to her waist, using only her hips and exceptional dance skills.
“Dude, scrunch your cheeks and let gravity do the work!” Crystal coached, looking over at Allie who had already moved the Oreo from her forehead, down over her eye. “Allie’s almost got it!”
“Harry, think about how good it’ll taste!” Tobin motivated. She knew her best friend had an Oreo obsession. She was known for eating entire sleeves on her own in one sitting.
Christen groaned, desperately trying to move this stupid Oreo down to her mouth. She didn’t want to cost her team this game, especially knowing that if they lost, the two teams would be tied going into the final ‘minute-to-win-it' game.
“Don’t listen to her, Chris!” Tobin yelled. “You’re doing great, just keep that cookie on your forehead!”
“Shut up, Tobs!” Christen grumbled, managing to wiggle the Oreo down the bridge of her nose, a wave of competitive spirit rushing through her.
“Harry, hurry up! I made her mad,” Tobin warned.
“Twenty seconds left!” Coach Foudy called, eyes on her stopwatch.
Allie let out a garbled yell when the Oreo landed in her mouth. “I GOOOT IT!”
“Don’t choke, dude,” Tobin laughed.
Christen suppressed the desire to groan again. She grabbed the Oreo off her face and turned to look at Tobin and Allie.
“It’s okay, Chris. Some people just aren’t as food motivated as others,” Tobin shrugged, a huge smirk on her face.
Christen smiled sweetly, stepping over to Tobin. “You know, you’re right, Tobs...” Christen replied, pulling apart the Oreo cookie, and sticking the cream-covered half against Tobin’s cheek. “But I feel so much better now.”
“Thank you so much,” Tobin feigned gratitude, reaching up and taking the cookie off her face. She slipped it in her mouth and chewed slowly, closing her eyes to exaggerate how good the cookie tasted.
Christen rolled her eyes and popped the other cookie in her mouth, spinning on her heel to go back to her team.
“She’s gonna break up with you before this game’s over,” Allie warned.
“I don’t think she’ll be mad for too long,” Tobin shrugged. “I’ll just assist her goals tomorrow, and she’ll forgive me.”
“Dream on,” Christen winked, grinning at Tobin and earning herself a few laughs from her teammates.
“Okay teams,” Coach Foudy announced, stepping back into the meeting room. “It’s tie-breaker time! This one’s called Wrap it Up. Two members of your team get to play this time. One of you has to stand still while the other wraps you up in toilet paper. The team that wraps their partner up fastest wins!” Coach Foudy said with a smile, holding two rolls of toilet paper up. “Who’s it gonna be?”
Christen turned back to her team and looked around. “Any takers?”
“You gotta redeem yourself,” Ashlyn joked, nodding at Christen.
Christen grimaced. “Okay, I’ll go. Who’s going with me?”
“Oh me, pick me!” Sam replied, jumping up and down excitedly.
“Dude, you’re a fucking giant. We’d lose,” Ashlyn retorted.
“I’m cute and short,” Crystal grinned, standing up from her chair. “We got this, Christen!”
Christen grinned and high-fived Crystal back. They made their way up to Foudy, taking a roll of toilet paper and looking over to team ‘Party People’, waiting on them to decide who they were going to send.
“Tobin, use those fingers for something since you haven’t gotten to use them for anything else,” Allie burst out laughing.
“I hate you,” Tobin deadpanned.
“Wrap me!” Mal volunteered, not getting the subtext of Allie’s comment at all.
Tobin dragged Mal forward, grumbling about Allie’s words all the way to the front of the room.
“We’d wish you guys good luck, but we’d rather just win,” Christen teased, her eyes playfully holding Tobin’s.
“Why is mom being mean?” Mal asked, sending Tobin into a fit of laughter.
“Mom?” Crystal laughed, looking between Christen, Tobin, and Mal.
“I don’t even want to know,” Coach Foudy shook her head, handing the other roll of toilet paper to Tobin. “All right, stay away from each other. No sabotaging!”
Christen and Crystal got set up, with Crystal standing straight with her arms at her sides. Christen was bent down, the toilet paper roll in her hands, ready to start at Crystal’s ankles and work her way up. She looked over at Tobin, grinning a bit at the look of concentration on Tobin’s face.
Tobin handed Mal the toilet paper roll, deciding that Mal needed to hold onto the end piece so that Tobin could focus solely on moving the roll. She stood next to Mal, trying to ignore Christen and her entire team. She couldn’t help that she was feeling flustered with competitiveness. She couldn’t help that she wanted to beat Christen. She couldn’t help that she wanted to win; it was in her nature to want to compete.
“You got this Pressy!!!” Megan cheered. “You’re going down, Tobito!”
“Mal, just go into a zen place,” Tobin said, trying to calm herself down and not feel rushed. If she rushed, she’d rip the toilet paper, and that would slow them down.
“Don’t listen to her, Mal. You don’t wanna disappoint ‘Mom’!” Crystal teased, winking down at Christen.
“I’ll go to my happy place,” Mal nodded.
“Great, go to your happy place,” Tobin said.
“Is now a bad time to tell you I’m claustrophobic?” Mal admitted quietly.
Christen and Crystal laughed, feeling like they already had this thing won.
“Are you kidding me?” Tobin asked, trying to keep her voice low.
“Don’t let your fear of Santa Claus ruin this, Mal!” Kelley yelled.
“That’s not what claustrophobic means, Kel,” Allie sighed, shaking her head.
“I’ll buy you a pizza after the semis tomorrow if you hold it together,” Tobin promised.
“You will not,” Foudy warned, getting her stopwatch ready. “You have a minute, but whoever finishes first, wins. Starting...now,” Foudy called, pushing the start button on her stopwatch.
Christen tucked the first piece of toilet paper into Crystal’s sock and started unrolling the paper around Crystal’s ankles, her work methodical and precise. She was setting an aggressive pace, but she wanted to win and she wanted to be able to see the look on Tobin’s face when they did.
Tobin grabbed the roll, making sure that Mal had a good grip on the toilet paper before moving her arms around her, passing the toilet paper roll from one hand to the other to move quickly, up her legs and around her waist. She wasn’t methodical, but she was fast. She wanted to win, and she also wanted to get Mal out of the situation as quickly as possible.
Christen had just passed Crystal’s waist when Megan interrupted. “Hurry up, Pressy, Tobito’s almost done!”
“Shit,” Christen muttered under her breath, speeding up her wrap job, running around Crystal as fast as possible. She only managed to get Crystal’s shoulders wrapped before Tobin was calling out the victory.
“All done!” Tobin called, using her fingers to poke out two eye holes for Mal. “You okay, buddy?” Tobin asked, leaning down to see if Mal was still breathing or if she was hyperventilating.
“Can I get out of this now?” Mal wheezed.
“We won, right?” Tobin verified, looking toward Foudy.
Coach Foudy nodded with a laugh. “Team ‘Party People’ wins the first-ever ‘minute-to-win-it’ UCLA games! Good night ladies!” Foudy walked out of the conference room, leaving her team to clean up and get themselves to bed.
Tobin ripped the toilet paper, helping Mal out of her wrapped state, shooting smirks at Christen as she worked.
Christen let her head hang, hating the sharp bitterness the taste of losing left on her tongue. To make matters, worse, she lost to her adorable girlfriend who was absolutely buzzing with the victory.
“At least it was Tobin? Like, if it was Kelley, we’d have to kick her out of the house,” Crystal joked, ripping the toilet paper off herself and balling it up.
Christen nodded in agreement. She felt her eyes narrow when Tobin shot her a smile for the fifth time. She grabbed the used toilet paper from Crystal, walking up behind an unsuspecting Tobin, and dumped it over her head.
“Congrats, baby,” Christen said sweetly, her action anything but sweet.
“Thanks!” Tobin called over her shoulder. “I’m feeling really good about starting my winning streak. I think it’s good for the tournament juju!”
Christen rolled her eyes and collapsed down into a chair, trying her best not to pout at having lost such a silly little team bonding event.
“All right, ladies, bedtime. We’ve got breakfast at 9:30 and a team meeting at 10. Sleep tight and dream about winning!” Allie called out.
“Want to stay up and chill for a little bit?” Tobin asked once she walked across the room and reached Christen.
Christen kept her pout on her face and looked up at Tobin. “I don’t like losing,” Christen sighed, letting Tobin pull her to her feet.
“I’m going to make it up to you,” Tobin whispered.
Christen felt a slight blush warm her cheeks. She felt Tobin tug her toward the gym and indoor pool, the rest of their teammates headed for the elevators, and she found herself hoping that wherever Tobin was taking her, was very, very empty.
Tobin tugged gently on Christen’s bottom lip with her teeth, her hands resting on Christen’s hips.
She’d quickly bypassed the gym in favor of leaning Christen against the wall of the indoor pool’s room. The room was glowing with a blue light, the pool was empty, and the filter system was humming softly.
Christen buried her hands in Tobin’s hair, her fingers tightening in her gentle waves. She loved the feeling of Tobin pushing her against the wall, of the want she could feel simmering beneath the surface of her touches and her kisses. She would gladly lose as many minute-to-win-it games as possible if this was how Tobin was going to make it up to her.
“I missed you,” Tobin mumbled between kisses. They’d been on their best behavior all day, only flirting slightly and hardly touching. She’d missed feeling this close to Christen, feeling completely in sync.
Christen nodded in agreement. She might have been doing her best to stick to the superstitions, but there was nothing keeping her from kissing Tobin like this now. She let her hands sneak beneath the hem of Tobin’s t-shirt, running her fingertips across the clenching muscles of Tobin’s stomach. She ghosted her fingers beneath the hem of Tobin’s sports bra and then let her hands settle low on Tobin’s back.
Tobin couldn’t help the soft whine that left her lips. She felt like she’d been turned on since Halloween, maybe before that, maybe since Spring Break, maybe for the entire two years, she’d known Christen existed.
“I wish we were roommates,” Tobin sighed, gripping Christen’s hips tighter and pushing herself into Christen even more than she already was.
Christen smiled into Tobin’s next kiss, finding herself simultaneously wishing for the same thing, and thankful that they weren’t. She could feel her resolve slipping with every deft touch of Tobin’s hands on her hips, with every smoldering kiss Tobin pressed against her lips.
“It’s probably-” Christen sighed as Tobin snaked a hand under her shirt and gripped her side. “-probably a good thing we aren’t.”
“So practical…” Tobin whispered. “Probably right, though.” Tobin ran her tongue against Christen’s bottom lip, waiting for her to open her mouth slightly.
Christen was nothing if not accommodating, so she parted her lips, feeling heat coil within her stomach at the way Tobin’s tongue was dancing with her own.
Tobin slowly slid her hand up Christen’s side, letting her thumb brush along the swell of Christen’s breast.
With a moan, Christen reached down, her hands falling to Tobin’s ass so she could pull Tobin flush against her. She wrapped a leg around the back of Tobin’s thigh, kissing Tobin deeply as she pressed further back against the wall and pulled Tobin along with her.
Tobin’s hand pressed more deliberately into Christen’s chest, her thumb brushing softly and her palm kneading every inch of skin she could touch.
“Fuck-” Christen groaned, momentarily considering throwing every superstition and caution to the wind and taking Tobin upstairs just so she could finally do something about the tightly coiled desire she had within her, the desire she’d had since Halloween.
But then the door to the gym opened and slammed shut.
Although Tobin couldn’t see into the gym from where she was standing and no one could see them from the gym, she pulled her hand out from under Christen’s shirt. As soon as she heard the familiar whistling, she took a giant step back from Christen. She’d never been more grateful for the door separating the gym and the indoor pool.
Christen had also clocked the familiar whistling and felt her already flushed face burn hotter. “What are the odds?” she hissed, adjusting her shirt and running a hand through her hair.
“We’re lucky, I guess,” Tobin said sarcastically, offering a tense smile. “Want to cool off for a second?”
“I’m going to need more than a second,” Christen husked. She leaned forward to peek through the window of the door and caught sight of Coach Foudy running on the treadmill.
Tobin reached out and took Christen’s hand in her own, leading her away from the gym door and toward the pool. She slipped off her slides and sat down, dropping her legs into the cool water.
Christen slipped out of her socks and running shoes and sat next to Tobin, dropping her bare feet and legs into the pool. After a moment, she started to laugh at the absurdity of the situation they’d just found themselves in.
“Foudy almost caught you copping a feel,” Christen snorted, nudging her shoulder against Tobin’s.
“She would have caught you with your leg around me and your hands on my ass,” Tobin reminded, squeezing Christen’s hand softly in her own.
Christen’s blush deepened, but at least the wildfire raging beneath her skin was subsiding.
“I have no idea how we would have explained that,” Christen giggled.
“We’re really, really close teammates,” Tobin whispered.
“Gal pals doing gal pal things,” Christen hummed teasingly. She lifted their clasped hands to her lips and kissed the back of Tobin’s, dropping their hands to her lap. She then unclasped them and started to play with Tobin’s hand, her fingers tracing across her palm.
“Yeah! We were working on that...what does she call it? Our magic connection?” Tobin laughed.
“There was definitely some magic going on,” Christen hummed, drawing hearts all over Tobin’s palm.
“There’s always magic with you,” Tobin said, lifting her eyebrows suggestively, but her words were sweet. She knocked her shoulder into Christen’s, beyond happy to just be sitting with her.
“I love you, I love you, I love you,” ran through Christen’s mind as she looked over at Tobin. She felt a matching smile grow on her face, as her finger started to write those three little words in cursive along Tobin’s palm.
“You doodling?” Tobin asked, her eyes on Christen’s finger.
“Something like that,” Christen replied softly, knowing with everything inside of her that she was going to tell Tobin Heath that she loved her soon. Very soon. Maybe even tomorrow soon. She just couldn’t keep it in any longer.
“This is getting sad,” Tobin mumbled into Christen’s neck, celebrating UCLA’s fourth goal by hugging Christen tightly.
Christen rocked Tobin back and forth, her eyes drifting to the scoreboard. It read 4-1, with twenty minutes left to play. She chuckled a bit as she stepped back from Tobin, wiping the sweat from her forehead with the sleeve of her jersey.
“What’s sad is that you haven’t scored yet,” Christen replied.
Megan threw her arms around Tobin’s and Christen’s necks, bringing them in for a hug. “She’s our playmaker tonight, nothing sad about that!”
“You’re such a selfless little shit, Harry,” Allie grinned, running her hand across Tobin’s head, messing up her hair.
“Let’s not be rude. I’ve still got time. I’ve been too busy making sure all of you get your moment in the sun,” Tobin defended.
From the moment the whistle blew, Tobin had been doing just that. She’d been making plays, assisting goals, and working harder than she ever had before. Of course, she wanted to watch Christen score, especially the two goals that she and Allie had assisted, but she also wanted to see her other teammates succeed. She wanted everyone to walk off the field feeling like they’d done their best, feeling completely confident for their final.
“You’re scoring tonight,” Christen affirmed, patting Tobin on the lower back and keeping her voice low.
“I don’t know about that, but I can wait for the final,” Tobin said, nodding to the sideline where Foudy was warming up two freshmen to likely take her and Christen’s spots on the field.
“I don’t think you heard me, baby, you’re scoring tonight. I’ll just have to work fast,” Christen winked, knowing that they were going to be subbed soon so she would really have to kick it into overdrive if she wanted to get Tobin a goal tonight. She just wanted her girlfriend to have every bit of confidence going into Sunday’s game, whoever they faced, and she knew a goal would only help.
Tobin couldn’t stop the huge grin that grew on her face. Christen’s confidence was infectious and incredibly sexy, and Tobin just wanted to sit in the moment. Instead, she jogged across the field, readying herself for whatever moves Christen was about to make.
Christen worked quicker than even she expected. Right after Florida State kicked off, she sprinted after the ball, using whatever energy she had left to track the ball down. Thankfully, Megan clued in to what she was doing and joined her in a high press. Megan was able to force a turnover, about thirty-five yards from goal. She then sent a diagonal ball behind the backline for Christen to run onto.
“Tobs, head!” Christen called, just like that one training before U.S. Camp. She sent a driven cross into the eighteen-yard box, right at where she knew Tobin would be making her run. She didn’t even have to look up; she knew Tobin was sprinting toward the back post, and that she would shake off her defender.
Tobin grinned as the ball soared right into her path. She elbowed by her defender and jumped into the air, redirecting the ball toward the far post. The goalkeeper could only freeze and watch the ball sail into the goal.
Tobin’s smile fell off her face a bit when she felt the Florida State defender jump into her back, a late challenge on a header that Tobin had already won. The next thing she knew, she was flying toward the goal post and that this was probably going to hurt like a bitch.
Everyone else was cheering, celebrating the fifth goal of the night, but Christen was laser-focused on the fact that the defender had shoved Tobin out of the air. She could only watch in horror as Tobin was sent crashing into the goal post. She could hear the clang from where she stood thirty yards away, and she wasn’t entirely sure if it was Tobin’s shoulder or her head that had hit the post. Christen’s feet were moving before she even registered it.
Tobin gasped for air, the wind completely knocked out of her chest. She couldn’t keep the smile off of her face though, relief filling her entire body, since she’d been able to reach her hand out and push her face away from the goal post right before hitting it. She could feel the Florida State player behind her, putting her hand on her shoulder, but she couldn’t get enough air to tell her she was fine.
“Babe, you good?” Christen rushed out, hurrying to Tobin’s side and looking down at her, confused as to why Tobin looked like she was smiling. She completely ignored the chuckle from the Florida State defender as she walked away, her sole attention on Tobin.
Tobin lifted up her left hand, shooting a thumbs up at Christen. She rolled onto her back, finally getting a decent breath of air into her lungs.
Christen’s heart rate settled at the relaxed air about her girlfriend. She couldn’t help but smile in relief as she held a hand out.
“Told you I’d get you a goal,” Christen grinned.
Tobin let Christen help her to her feet, still trying to suck in more air and respond. She nodded, sending another smile toward Christen.
“Yeah, that was impressive,” Tobin whispered.
“I put the press in impressive,” Christen joked, reigning in her desire to brush the grass from the side of Tobin’s face.
The referee blew her whistle to signal substitutions, and Christen knew they’d both be going off now. But at least she’d gotten Tobin her goal.
“That’s our cue, Tobs,” Christen said. With a lingering touch to Tobin’s back, Christen clapped at her teammates and then at the stands, where more than a dozen UCLA fans and their parents were sitting.
Tobin followed Christen’s lead, high-fiving Megan and Kelley as she passed her teammates.
“Go get ‘em,” Tobin whispered to Mal as she high-fived her and stepped off of the field.
“Make some memories,” Christen added with a wink, hugging Mal quickly and then Rose before stepping off the field as well.
“Just go out there and have fun!” Tobin teased, just like her parents had said when she was a little kid.
Christen slung her arm around Tobin’s shoulder and led her to the bench. She high-fived Foudy and the rest of their teammates and then pulled Tobin down with her on the far side of the bench. Her smile hadn’t dropped the entire time.
“We’re going to the Championships,” Christen whispered, a little awestruck and a lot excited.
“It’s deja vu for you, isn’t it?” Tobin teased, pushing a shoulder into Christen. She bent down and grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat and grass off of her face.
“Not really, this time I get to play with you. It’s better than it was two years ago,” Christen replied, her eyes on the field as the referee blew her whistle for the Florida State kick-off.
“You were cute when you won last time,” Tobin hummed, pulling on a light pull-over.
Christen blushed and tugged on a puffy jacket, already feeling the chill in the air. She turned her attention to the field.
“Mal, shift right! Yes, great!” Christen coached, watching as Mal followed her instructions and forced the Florida State midfielder to send a poor pass across the field. Rose picked off the pass and took off at a dribble, beating a midfielder and then a center back with some quick moves.
“She dances around the ball like you do,” Christen whispered, knocking her knee into Tobin’s with a smile, her eyes never leaving the field.
“I gotta watch my spot,” Tobin smirked, enjoying watching Rose weave through Florida State’s players.
“MAL! Diagonal run, split the defense!” Christen yelled, jumping to her feet, already knowing exactly what was coming.
“You’re totally going to be that soccer mom,” Tobin snorted, taking a sip of her water.
Christen didn’t register the comment, watching as Mal made the run in behind the defense and received the ball from Rose. She took off at a sprint, 1v1 with the Florida State goalkeeper.
“Slot it,” Christen whispered. She pumped her fist at her side when she saw Mal do exactly that, sending the ball into the bottom corner of the goal. Mal spun around with her arms at her sides and sprinted toward the sideline.
“You need this after all that yelling,” Tobin hummed, putting her hand on Christen’s back and handing her the water bottle.
Christen shrugged Tobin’s teasing off, squeezing the water bottle in Tobin’s face and sending a mist of water at her.
“Our kid’s on the way for a hug, come on,” Christen waggled her brows excitedly and stepped up to the sideline to join the rest of their teammates from the bench.
Tobin followed, sighing at the adorable way that Christen cared about and coached the younger players. It made her that much more attractive and lovable and sweet.
Mal took a flying leap and landed in Christen’s open arms.
“I SCORED!” Mal yelled, the rest of the UCLA players huddling around and cheering.
“Hell yeah, you did!” Christen replied with a laugh, hugging Mal tight.
“Sweet goal,” Tobin said, poking Mal in the side and giving her a huge grin. “You really deserve a pizza now!”
“‘ZA FOR EVERYONE!” Allie yelled, earning loud cheers from the huddled UCLA players.
“After the final! We haven’t finished this game yet,” Foudy warned, pointing at the other players and referee on the field.
At the reminder, the players who were on the field ran back to their spots and the players who weren’t on the field drifted back to the bench.
Christen dropped onto the bench, her eyes crinkling as she grinned at Tobin. Tobin had grabbed a spare ball from the sidelines and was juggling it on her way back to the bench, a little smile on her face.
“I love you, I love you, I love you,” Christen thought, feeling her heart swell in her chest. The time was coming for those three little words and she knew it. It was almost time.
“Hey, Chris?” Tobin asked, stopping the ball and dropping down onto the bench.
Christen looked to her right, making sure the rest of their teammates were focused on the action on the field in the dying minutes of the game.
“Yeah?” Christen replied in a hushed whisper.
“Are we going to go to Olive Garden again after the final?” Tobin asked, a serious expression on her face.
Christen snorted, reaching out to squeeze Tobin’s knee. “Depends on what you tell my mom. You tell her Olive Garden, we might end up at a Mexican restaurant.”
“Breadsticks sound good,” Tobin hummed.
“Tell her you want chips and guac then,” Christen replied.
“I think she likes me more now, though. Plus, I got hurt,” Tobin whimpered, lifting up the hand that she’d smacked into the goal post to avoid hitting her face.
Christen inspected the hand and saw nothing, not even a bruise. “I think you hurt that post more than it hurt you, Tobs.”
“I think I broke something,” Tobin pouted.
Christen mirrored Tobin’s pretend pout. “Aw, you did?”
“I think I need kisses,” Tobin continued with a soft nod.
Christen’s eyes lit up. “That can be arranged.”
“You want to visit the pool tonight?” Tobin teased.
Christen’s cheeks filled with a light blush. “That does sound nice...but I was thinking we could politely ask Alyssa to go be busy for an hour or two. Really celebrate this semifinal win the right way.”
“I could let her take my Xbox to Harry’s room…” Tobin hummed.
Christen grinned, “Perfect.”
“AYYY AYYY AYYYYY!” Megan yelled as she jumped around the locker room. “ALL WE DO IS WIN, WIN, WIN, NO MATTER WHAT!”
Allie pulled Tobin’s shirt off of her, swinging it in the air along with her own and Kelley’s that she’d also commandeered.
“Ooookay,” Tobin laughed, leaning back into her locker and watching Allie celebrate as if they’d already won the final.
It had quickly become a celebratory dance party in the middle of the locker room. After Coach Foudy had congratulated everyone and told them they had thirty minutes to get changed and on the bus, Allie had connected her phone to the speakers and started blasting “All I Do is Win” by DJ Khaled.
The freshman had initially started the dancing off but quickly roped Kelley and Megan into the shenanigans as well. They were celebratorily stripping, throwing their jerseys around, as well as their socks and shin guards, leaving them in sports bras and shorts as they danced to the music.
Mal pulled Tobin away from her locker, yanking on her arms to get Tobin to dance with her. Tobin couldn’t help but indulge her, laughing at the goofy way Mal moved her hips, at the extreme excitement that seemed to be taking over every single member of her team.
Christen and Crystal looked on from the spots in the corner of the locker room. Christen was grinning at the way Mal was getting Tobin to dance. Tobin was laughing, her messy bun flopping around as she was pulled every which way by an incredibly enthusiastic Mal.
“Oh, someone call the heart eyes police, we’ve got a sighting,” Crystal whispered, nudging Christen’s shoulder.
All Christen could do was shake her head, unable to look away from the utter joy on Tobin’s face. She felt herself fall just a little more in love.
“Yo, freshie’s trying to take your girl,” Kelley joked, reaching her hands out and trying to tickle Christen.
Christen swatted Kelley’s hands away. “I’m too tired to dance, I’ll let Mal have her fun.”
“I don’t know…” Allie joined in the teasing, sliding up next to Kelley. “You haven’t even sealed the deal with Harry…”
Christen’s head whipped around, her eyes narrowing in Allie’s direction.
“How do you-” Christen tried to ask, only to be interrupted by Kelley.
“YOU HAVEN’T HAD SEX WITH HER?” Kelley whisper-shouted, having the wherewithal to keep her voice low enough that it couldn’t be heard over the music.
Christen’s cheeks flamed. She knew there was no escape, not with the way Allie, Kelley, and Crystal were huddled around her. She sighed, hiding her face in her hands.
“Chris, you want to dance?” Tobin called from across the room. Mal was bouncing from foot to foot, one arm over Tobin’s shoulder and her other waving in Christen’s direction.
“Yes, please,” Christen yelled back, jumping to her feet. “Sorry, gotta go, byeeee!” She elbowed her way by Allie, Kelley, and Crystal and practically sprinted across the locker room to join the dance party.
“We’re roommates, you can’t escape me!” Kelley screamed at Christen’s retreating form. She turned back, sharing a quick look with Allie, and then the two of them looked at Crystal.
“Nope, I’m not dancing or stripping, go play with someone else,” Crystal replied with a chuckle.
“You okay?” Tobin whispered, putting her hand on Christen’s back for a second after she reached them.
“I am now,” Christen replied, her eyes falling to Tobin’s bare stomach before rising to meet her gaze again. “Mind if I steal your dancing partner?” she asked Mal with a small smile.
Mal’s face scrunched up in the most adorable smile either of them had seen. She nodded emphatically. “Of course. Steal her away. Get your girl!” Mal said, shipping them as hard as ever.
Christen grabbed ahold of Tobin’s hands and quickly pulled her into the middle of their huddled teammates. She let go of Tobin’s hands and then started to jump around to the beat, her moves not all that coordinated but filled with uninhibited fun.
Tobin couldn’t stop her huge smile, knowing she looked completely in love with the girl in front of her. She watched as Christen moved her hands into the air, letting loose and moving her hips to the song. Allie kept moving around the group and squeezing Tobin’s shoulders as she passed, but Tobin couldn’t take her eyes off of Christen. She just watched her, loving how carefree and happy she looked.
Christen’s moves got sillier as the impromptu dance party continued. She pulled out some classics like ‘The Sprinkler’ and ‘The Disco’, then some lesser-known ones like ‘The Shopping Cart’ and a really shitty attempt at ‘The Carlton’. She couldn’t stop pulling out new moves, despite the fact she wasn’t moving to the beat, loving the way Tobin would double over with laughter every single time she did a new one.
Tobin had to stop herself from going to her locker and pulling out her phone to record her girlfriend. She had to remind herself to just take in the moment, knowing she’d get to see more of this in the future. Her cheeks hurt from smiling, and her stomach ached from laughing. She had the urge to wrap Christen up in a huge hug, but she didn’t dare move forward, not wanting to stop the cute dancing.
When the first few notes of “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies Christen froze, her eyes widening in surprise and her smile growing.
“JUST FOR YOU C.P.!” Allie yelled.
“I love this song!” Christen cheered, bobbing her head to the beat. “WAIT! Start it over!”
Tobin was surprised. This was a fun fact that she’d never learned about Christen. They’d delved into favorite songs, guilty pleasures, and silly quirks, but Christen had never mentioned this song. She’d never mentioned the Canadian band that Tobin had also enjoyed listening to in high school with her little brother. Suddenly, though, Tobin decided that “One Week” was her favorite song. If it could make Christen this excited, it would always be her favorite.
Christen waggled her brows in Tobin’s direction and then stepped up onto the locker room bench, grabbing a water bottle on her way.
“Hit it, Al!” Christen instructed, readying herself to wow not just her teammates, but her girlfriend as well. She’d spent an entire winter break in high school learning every single word to this song and now was her time to shine.
“I love you,” Tobin thought, her eyes growing at the sight of Christen being a complete dork on the locker room bench.
“It’s been one week since you looked at me,” Christen sang, walking along the locker room bench, yelling the words at her teammates who were now congregated in front of her. “Cocked your head to the side and said, ‘I’m angry’. Five days since you laughed at me saying ‘Get that together, come back and see me’. Three days since the living room, I realized it's all my fault, but couldn't tell you. Yesterday, you'd forgiven me, but it'll still be two days 'til I say I'm sorry!”
“Are you recording?” Tobin mumbled, glancing at Megan and the iPhone in her hands.
“Hell yeah!” Megan laughed. “I’ll send you a copy.”
Tobin stared at Christen, those three words sitting on her tongue, ready to fall from her lips. Yeah, “One Week” was definitely her new favorite song.
Christen’s fingers drummed across Tobin’s thigh as she refreshed the Google search page. They were sitting in their back row of the bus, her eyes glued to her phone while Tobin stared out the window.
“You know staring won’t make the game end any quicker,” Tobin hummed, her eyes still focused on the Kentucky landscape they were passing on the way to the hotel.
“It’s ridiculous they’re not even streaming it. I have to look it up online and just wait for someone to tweet or post about the score. They went into PK’s six minutes ago and still no update,” Christen grumbled.
“I’m sure we’ll hear soon,” Tobin yawned, reaching out for Christen’s hand on her thigh and squeezing it softly. She cared about the score too. Of course, she did. She was actually probably more anxious about it than Christen. She wanted her friends to do well, but she also didn’t want to have to play against them in the final. Either outcome would suck, but not knowing who they were going to play in the final was anxiety-inducing. Tobin was just hoping that her nonchalance seemed believable enough. She was hoping that pretending like she didn’t care would become more real, like maybe she’d actually stop caring about anything other than winning.
Christen laced their fingers together. She could hear the forced calmness in Tobin’s voice, feel the tension in her grasp. She abandoned her phone and turned to look at Tobin.
“Either way, we’re going to win. Doesn’t matter who lines up against us.”
Tobin nodded, a small smile gracing her face. “That’s true. Doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy beating them if it’s Penn State...” Tobin trailed off.
“All right team!” Foudy called out, silencing the conversations and chatter on the bus. She stood in the aisle and addressed the team. “Just got a text from my buddy who went to the other game tonight. Penn State beat UNC in penalty kicks, 4-3. We’re facing Penn State on Sunday.”
“OW OW!” Allie called from the front of the bus. “BUCKLE UP, PENN STATE!”
Christen’s grip tightened on Tobin’s hand. “You okay?” Christen asked quietly.
“Yeah,” Tobin nodded. She had to be. She’d played against friends before. She’d played against best friends when she was a kid and played club soccer. She knew eventually she’d play professionally and likely play against her college friends, probably even Christen. Still, she couldn’t stop imagining how ARod and Lauren were going to look when they lost their final chance at an NCAA Championship. She took a deep breath, squeezing Christen’s hand softly. There was still no way she wasn’t going to do everything she could for her new team, even if it meant hurting people she cared about.
Because of the late time of their game, their catered dinner didn’t get to the hotel until almost 10PM. Coach Foudy had instructed everyone to get their dinner from the lobby and take it to their rooms to eat. They needed to get their sleep and rest up for Sunday’s game.
Christen, Kelley, Crystal, Megan, and Tobin waltzed into the lobby, heading for the couches where some of their teammates were already sitting, waiting for Allie to pass out the dinners.
Christen and Tobin led the pack, their pinkies interlocked as they walked. Kelley, Megan, and Crystal hung back, getting distracted by the television streaming a basketball game.
Christen kept shooting worried glances over at Tobin, wondering if her girlfriend really was as fine as she was pretending to be. And then she heard the tail-end of a conversation between the freshman and a rather mouthy sophomore she had never cared for and her worry grew.
“But she’s really good,” Mal whispered, her eyebrows furrowed.
“It’s her old team. She’s completely going to choke. Coach should bench her,” Maddie, one of the sophomore midfielders scoffed.
Christen felt her blood run cold and part of her prayed that Tobin hadn’t heard anything. She prayed that Tobin had been paying attention to something else, anything else, that she hadn’t heard the cruel, judgemental words of this sophomore.
It was clearly a conversation neither of them was meant to have overheard, but Christen had heard it, and so had Tobin.
“You want to get some water?” Tobin asked, pointing to a corner of the lobby where stacks of water bottles were waiting for them to take.
“Uh-” Christen hesitated, wanting to go over to the couches and confront Maddie for what she said. That girl had no right to talk about Tobin like that, and Christen wanted to tell her as much.
“Harry’ll probably take forever with the dinners. I think she’s giving them out on a first come first served basis, so we’ll be last,” Tobin hummed, practically dragging Christen to the waters.
Tobin had heard the sophomore’s words. She’d heard them loud and clear, not that they weren’t thoughts she’d had about herself already. She just hadn’t needed to hear them from someone else. She definitely didn’t need Christen to march over there and make a scene. She just wanted to eat dinner and get a good night’s sleep. She wanted to play extremely well and prove everyone wrong, including herself.
Christen let Tobin pull her away, but she continued to shoot annoyed and angry looks at Maddie over her shoulder all the way across the lobby.
“Baby, you can’t telepathically yell at her,” Tobin teased, grabbing a few water bottles for Christen and the rest of their friends.
“Oh I’m doing it, she’s really getting the full force of my anger right now,” Christen retorted, her eyes narrowed in Maddie’s direction.
“She’s just trying to impress the freshmen by being a jerk,” Tobin shrugged.
“She’s talking shit about my girlfriend, and that’s not okay with me,” Christen replied with a huff.
“You’re very cute when you’re protective,” Tobin whispered, wishing she could pull Christen in for a hug or a quick kiss. “But I’m fine. Trash talking can be a good incentive to play well.”
Christen finally looked away from Maddie and over at Tobin. She softened her gaze when it fell upon the adorable messy bun Tobin had pulled her hair and the large glasses sitting on the bridge of her nose.
“Are you really fine?” Christen wondered, reaching out to brush some of Tobin’s baby hairs away from her face.
“If I have learned anything in the past few months it’s that I can’t keep things from you without you quickly finding out. Not only that, but keeping things from you usually makes me miserable,” Tobin said, leaning into Christen’s touch.
Christen laughed breathily, tilting her head to the side as she let herself linger, trailing her fingertips across Tobin’s cheek.
“I promise that I’m fine. I’m a little nervous. I don’t want to choke, but I’m fine. I get to play in the final with you,” Tobin whispered.
“I believe you. And you’re not going to choke, you’re Tobin Heath,” Christen replied softly, her words full of confidence.
Those three words nearly left Tobin’s mouth right then and there. The moment just felt so right and so perfect. She was seconds away from spilling her feelings to Christen, from saying what she’d wanted to say again for so long.
“Pasta time, bitches!” Allie said, holding out two boxes for Tobin and Christen. “Sorry it took so long, yours were the last two in the bag.”
“Great,” Tobin sighed, feeling her stomach roll with nerves. She’d been thinking about telling Christen that she loved her for a while. The only thing stopping her was a bit of pesky insecurity, and insecurity she felt when she remembered what happened the last time she said something. She knew Christen wouldn’t run this time. Logically, she knew Christen was here to stay, that Christen loved her too, but she couldn’t always stop herself from remembering how Christen had backed away when Tobin had told her she was falling in love with her in Portland. So even if she was ready to say it again, she was somewhat thankful for Allie’s interruption.
Christen took the boxes from Allie with a distracted smile. As she and Tobin started to head for the elevators, her heart rate still hadn’t returned to normal. She’d heard it in Tobin’s words, she’d seen it in her eyes. Tobin had almost said it. She’d almost said ‘I love you’. That thought filled her with nervous energy, with butterflies and excitement and anticipation. It filled her with warmth and peace and happiness. It was somewhat calming too, knowing Tobin had almost said it. It made the fact that Christen was planning on telling Tobin that she loved her soon, that much better. When she finally told Tobin, she’d be able to hear Tobin say it back.
“Want to eat in my room? I can send Kelley to Pinoe’s room,” Christen offered, holding the elevator for Tobin to step in, before following her inside.
“Sure,” Tobin said. She swallowed down the nerves she’d just felt, intent on actually enjoying dinner and her time with Christen.
Christen could feel Tobin freaking out. She could feel the anxious waves rolling off of her, the tension descending upon them in the elevator. She didn’t want to call her on it, already knowing she didn’t want to say those three words now, over shitty pasta and with grass stains still on her knees from the game since she hadn’t showered. She’d waited this long, she could wait a little longer. So instead, she balanced the boxes of pasta in one hand and reached out to interlock her fingers with Tobin’s.
“Hey,” Christen whispered, trying to catch Tobin’s eye.
“Hey, cutie,” Tobin hummed.
“Will you get over here and kiss me already?” Christen asked, keeping her voice light. She knew words weren’t enough right now, so she just hoped she could soothe Tobin’s nerves and worries with a kiss.
Tobin smiled, her heart thrumming in her chest. “I’ve been wanting to all day,” she mumbled, stepping into Christen’s space and kissing her gently.
Christen kept the kiss sweet, imbuing every brush of her lips against Tobin’s with those three little words she was going to say soon, as soon as the moment was right, as soon as it was perfect enough to encapsulate everything she felt for Tobin.