And for every song, there's a song we're not singing
For every step, there's a step we're not taking
So let me know if there's something I'm missing
'Cause this is all I need
So say we'll be always, always
Say it will be you and me 'til the old days
Let us be always, always
Through the highs and the lows, we'll be always
We will be always (Always), always (Always)
Say it will be you and me 'til the old days
We will be always (Always), always (Always)
Through the highs and the lows, we'll be always
Through the highs and the lows
We keep together you and me 'til we're old
I am ready for the highs and lows
(Tobin - “Always” by Isak Danielson)
When the rain comes, I'll be your shelter
When the wind blows, love, we'll be together
When the storms they rise
Well, I'll be right there by your side
Well, I'm gonna love you forever, I do
I'm gonna spend all of my days with you
I'll carry your burden and be the wind at your back
I'm gonna spend my forever
Forever like that
(Christen - “Forever Like That” by Ben Rector)
For the first time since Christen had moved back into their bedroom, Tobin woke up first. The sun was shining, casting light onto the hardwood floor and brightening the entire room. Christen’s face was pressed against the back of her neck. She was more than just spooning Tobin, she was koala-ing around her. Their legs intertwined, Christen’s arms were wrapped around her, and their clasped hands rested against Tobin’s stomach.
It was completely the opposite of how they’d fallen asleep. As they drifted off to sleep last night, Tobin had been holding onto Christen, whispering soft words against the top of Christen’s head. The only thing that was the same as last night was that they were still both devoid of clothing, their sweatpants and t-shirts scattered across the floor. Tobin sunk back into Christen’s chest, warmth flooding her entire body, just like it always did when she touched Christen or looked at her or thought about how much she loved her.
Tobin pulled Christen’s hand away from her waist, pressing her lips gently against the inside of Christen’s wrist. She brushed her lips along Christen’s skin as softly as she could, placing kisses on every inch of skin she could reach, starting from her wrist and moving along her hand, kissing her knuckles and her fingers and the palm of her hand.
“Tickles,” Christen grumbled, scooting impossibly closer to Tobin, a small huff escaping her lips.
Tobin smiled against the side of Christen’s thumb, placing one last kiss on the warm skin before she let Christen’s hand fall back to her waist. She wiggled slightly, turning in Christen’s arms to face her. “Good morning, baby,” Tobin mumbled.
Christen scrunched her nose, knowing it was too early to be awake. She couldn’t really find it in herself to be too upset though. Getting woken up by soft kisses and gentle words was the best way to start the day. She blinked her eyes open slightly, looking over at Tobin and feeling a small smile make its way onto her face.
“Mornin’,” Christen mumbled, tracing her fingertips across Tobin’s back as she fought to keep her eyes open.
Tobin wrapped her arms around Christen’s waist, tangling her legs with Christen’s. She kissed the tip of Christen’s nose. “I missed you.”
“Mmm, missed you too,” Christen replied with a small yawn.
“You can go back to sleep,” Tobin chuckled, pulling Christen closer so that Christen could rest against her chest and fall asleep again. “Unless…” Tobin mumbled, running her fingers over Christen’s ribs.
Christen was moments from taking Tobin up on her initial offer, and then she heard the mumbled invitation and felt Tobin’s purposeful touch. She felt any lingering sleep leave her mind, her eyes fully open and alert now. She leaned back, a small grin on her face. She felt her stomach jump at the soft patterns Tobin was tracing against her skin.
“Did I not wear you out last night?” Christen teased.
“Please,” Tobin scoffed. “I’m a D1 athlete.”
Christen giggled and closed the space between them, kissing Tobin deeply. She ran her tongue along Tobin’s lower lip, her thigh slotting between Tobin’s as she rolled closer.
“Now I know how to wake you up,” Tobin sighed against Christen’s lips, her legs clenching around Christen’s thigh and her hands moving up and down her body.
Christen nodded without breaking the kiss. She pushed against Tobin’s shoulder and rolled on top of her, keeping her thigh exactly where Tobin wanted it.
“I was going to go first,” Tobin mumbled, tracing a finger up to the swell of Christen’s breast.
“You went first last night,” Christen replied, grabbing Tobin’s hand that was moving dangerously high and interlocking their fingers together. She pressed their clasped hands into the mattress above Tobin’s head, moving her mouth down Tobin’s jaw and her neck, leaving a blazing trail in her wake with every nip and taste.
Tobin could feel warmth pooling between her legs. Christen was holding her hand above their bodies, just like she had in the kitchen that one time she’d pressed Tobin up against the refrigerator during their junior year. She was taking control, and as much as Tobin wanted to crawl down Christen’s body and taste her, it was impossible not to let Christen have what she wanted.
Christen kissed up toward Tobin’s ear, rocking her thigh into Tobin agonizingly, torturously slow. “How do you want it, baby?” she husked, her lips ghosting across the shell of Tobin’s ear.
Tobin swallowed thickly, feeling just how wet she was against Christen’s leg. “Surprise me,” she choked out, flexing her fingers against Christen’s.
Christen chuckled, the sound deep and hoarse. “That’s a lot of power to give me,” she whispered.
“I trust you implicitly,” Tobin husked, her hips starting to rock slightly against Christen’s leg, just trying to get any kind of relief.
Christen smiled and lifted up so she could look into Tobin’s eyes.
“What?” Tobin whined, her hips meeting nothing now that Christen had moved.
“I want to try something,” Christen hummed, a shy smile on her face.
“Okay…” Tobin said. She cocked her head to the side but let Christen lead her to where she wanted her.
Christen dropped back down onto her side of the bed and pulled Tobin so that Tobin was now on top of her, Tobin’s knees bracketing her hips.
“How’s the view from up there?” Christen teased, running her thumbs across Tobin’s hipbones.
“My first dream was about this view, actually,” Tobin whispered, leaning down to kiss Christen’s neck.
Christen wasn’t going to let herself get distracted by the feeling of Tobin’s lips on her skin, by the wonderful things Tobin could do with her tongue. Instead, she smirked and slipped a hand between Tobin’s legs, running two fingers through the wet heat she found there.
Tobin’s lips stilled against Christen’s throat. Her entire body shivered with Christen’s light touch. She couldn’t stop her hips from jerking down into Christen’s fingers. “Baby,” Tobin groaned, burying her face against Christen’s neck.
“Yeeees?” Christen hummed, keeping her touch featherlight and exploratory, not adding enough pressure to do much more than slowly work Tobin into a frenzy, then slowly drive her crazy.
Tobin couldn’t respond, not when a low whine was leaving her lips, not when Christen’s fingers were moving so slowly and touching so lightly, causing Tobin to jerk down into her. Christen was going to make this torturous. She was going to tease until Tobin begged, and Tobin couldn’t even blame her for it. They regularly teased one another, both of them loving when the other person asked for release. But they’d been on a whole other level since making up after their fight weeks ago. They were more teasing, more loving.
“It feels different, doesn’t it?” Christen whispered. “Being on top?”
Tobin could feel how wet she was, dripping down her inner thighs, probably soaking Christen’s hand. Still, Christen’s fingers were hardly pressing against her.
“Mhm,” Tobin groaned, rolling her hips again, just wanting more friction.
Christen acquiesced, unable to deny what Tobin wanted any longer. She slipped a finger inside, holding back a moan of her own. Her other hand gripped tightly onto Tobin’s hip, her lips pressed against the side of Tobin’s head.
“Damn, baby,” Christen husked, curling her finger just a bit, hearing Tobin’s stuttered moan in response.
“More,” Tobin choked out, her fingers gripping the bedsheets, and her hips grinding down into Christen’s hand. “Please.”
Christen was nothing if not giving. She did as she was asked, slipping another finger inside and setting a measured pace, not too fast and not too slow, wanting to give Tobin time to adjust.
Tobin sat up, pushing herself away from Christen and dropping her weight onto the hand beside Christen’s head. Her eyes screwed tightly shut, and her hips moved faster than they ever had before. She wasn’t in control of her breathing, panting quickly, soft words and Christen’s name raggedly leaving her throat.
Christen was completely mesmerized by the sight of her girlfriend above her. Tobin was completely lost in the throes of pleasure, uninhibited and panting and free. Her chest was heaving, a deep red flush was creeping up her neck, and her hair was down and wild and moving every time she moved. Tobin was beautiful to watch as she crept closer and closer to the edge.
“I need-” Tobin husked, rocking harder against Christen’s hand.
“What do you need?” Christen asked gently, ignoring the slight ache in her wrist.
Tobin couldn’t answer. She couldn’t voice what she needed. She needed Christen. She needed her pressed against her. She needed Christen’s skin against her own. So, Tobin reached out, wrapping both hands behind Christen’s shoulders to pull her up into a seated position.
“You,” Tobin choked out. “I need you.”
Christen didn’t need to be told twice. She quickly sat up, her fingers still buried inside of Tobin. She wrapped her free arm around Tobin’s lower back and dropped her lips to Tobin’s chest. She sucked hard, resuming her pace, quickening it a bit as she continued to curl her fingers in the way that Tobin always enjoyed.
The moan that left Tobin’s mouth was louder than usual. The angle of Christen’s fingers was perfect. She rocked harder into Christen, her chest pressed against Christen’s mouth.
“Baby, I-” Tobin didn’t need to finish the sentence. A long groan left her mouth, and her back arched against Christen’s arm. She tightened around Christen’s fingers, and her own fingers tangled in Christen’s hair. She crumbled in Christen’s arms, holding tightly to the girl beneath her.
Christen pressed a kiss to the dark red mark she’d left on Tobin’s chest, her hand still between Tobin’s legs. She kissed her way up Tobin’s neck, across her jaw. She ghosted her lips across Tobin’s cheeks and gently removed her fingers.
“Okay?” Christen hummed, running her other hand across Tobin’s lower back.
“I can’t believe you just asked me that,” Tobin huffed, her heart still hammering in her chest.
Christen smiled into Tobin’s skin and shrugged a little. “Always good to check when you try something new.”
“It was perfect, Chris,” Tobin murmured, kissing Christen’s shoulder. “And now it’s my turn.”
“Sure you don’t want some Gatorade or something to recover from such an incredible orgasm?” Christen teased.
“I can rally,” Tobin teased right back. “I’ve been wanting to taste you since I woke up.”
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Christen cheered, walking into the locker room at halftime. She gave everyone high-fives, getting enthusiastic responses from Megan and Kelley, and sweaty hugs from Crystal and Mal. She grabbed herself a Gatorade and then sat down in front of her locker. She wiped sweat and rain from her forehead with the back of her hand, a large smile on her face. They were currently beating Pepperdine 3-0, and both she and Tobin had each scored one of the goals, with Mal getting the other one. It was a great start to the night, after such a...great start to the day.
Tobin flopped down next to Christen, her hair dripping with sweat and rain and her uniform splattered with mud. Despite the rain and mud, Tobin’s smile was huge and toothy, probably because of how things were going with Christen after the slight setback with the Arsenal fiasco, partially because UCLA was playing so well, and largely because starting the day off with sex just made everything better.
“Great goal,” Tobin sighed, taking a sip of Gatorade.
“You too,” Christen replied, knocking her shoulder into Tobin’s.
“So I have a theory,” Tobin hummed.
Christen looked around, noticing everyone else’s attention was on other things. She turned to look over at her girlfriend, her mouth screwed into an amused smirk at the suggestion dripping from Tobin’s words.
“I love a good theory, as you know,” Christen replied softly.
Tobin leaned forward, getting her lips as close to Christen’s ear as she could without being too touchy in the locker room. “I think sex makes us perform better on the field,” Tobin whispered.
Christen gulped, a blush rising to her cheeks as a sharp breath escaped her lips.
“Especially back-to-back orgasms. I think we could do some other studies on that, though. In case you’re unconvinced,” Tobin mumbled before she turned her attention back to her Gatorade.
Christen pulled her lower lip between her teeth, her eyes tracking over Tobin’s profile, across the cocky smirk she wore and the playful glint in her brown eyes.
“How the heck am I supposed to focus on the second half now?” Christen hissed, her words lacking any real bite thanks to the small smile on her face.
“If you score again, I’ll buy you dinner tonight. We can get fries and...see where the night takes us,” Tobin winked, knowing that she’d do exactly that even if Christen didn’t score.
Christen grinned, reaching out to squeeze Tobin’s knee quickly. “You got yourself a deal.”
“Hey,” Tobin mumbled, watching as a few teammates stepped past them. “I really love you.”
“I really love you too,” Christen whispered, scooting just a bit closer to Tobin on the bench and letting her hand fall to Tobin’s lower back. She watched as Couch Foudy walked into the locker room, all smiles now that their dreadful performance against USC was in the rearview. “And Tobs?” she added quietly, knowing she had mere moments before Foudy would start her halftime talk.
“Yes?” Tobin hummed, taking another sip of her Gatorade.
“If you score, I’ll let you be on top again,” Christen replied, her voice no louder than a whisper as she patted Tobin on the back and then turned to face Foudy, her hand dropping into her lap.
Tobin choked on her Gatorade, the blue liquid nearly going up her nose. She let out a few loud coughs, making the rest of her teammates and Coach Foudy turn their attention to her.
“Wrong pipe,” Tobin wheezed, capping the drink and coughing again.
Christen was the picture of innocence as she smiled over at Coach Foudy, pretending like she didn’t know exactly why Tobin had choked on Gatorade.
“She’s fine, Coach. Got any words of wisdom for us?” Christen said.
“Don’t I always?” Foudy replied, stepping up to the whiteboard. She addressed a few of her concerns with their shape and threw in her two cents about where they could improve for the second half. She finished off with a few inspirational words and a few claps before sending the team back out onto the field.
If possible, their second half was better than their first. They finished the game with an impressive score of 7-1, with Christen getting another goal, Tobin getting two assists, and Megan, Crystal, and Sam getting their other three goals of the night.
Christen couldn’t wipe the smile off of her face as she shook hands with the Pepperdine players, her eyes peeled for wherever Tobin had been dragged off to by Mal.
Megan jogged up beside Christen, wrapping her in a tight hug. “Not to alarm you, but Not Tobin is here,” she laughed a little, glancing up at the stands to where Kate was sitting.
Christen cringed slightly and looked over to the stands, holding a hand over her eyes to shield them from the rain that continued to fall. She spotted Kate in the same spot Kate had sat in during that game sophomore year.
“What a blast from the past,” Christen replied, dropping her hand and shrugging at Megan.
“Tobin could totally take her,” Megan teased, elbowing Christen in the stomach and turning to face away from the crowd.
Christen cracked a smile, throwing an arm around Megan’s shoulders and walking her away from the Pepperdine side.
“You want me to point her out to your girlfriend?” Megan asked, a smirk on her lips.
“Hard pass,” Christen replied with a sharp shake of her head. She did not need a girl she’d only dated to get over Tobin, meeting Tobin. That just sounded like a recipe for disaster on all accounts.
“What happened to sharing everything with one another,” Megan scoffed, squeezing Christen even closer.
“Oh we do, I’ll tell her later tonight. When she can’t do anything silly about it,” Christen chuckled.
“Hmm...I guess we’ve never seen a jealous Toby, have we?” Megan snorted.
“I don’t know if she can even get jealous,” Christen shrugged, feeling that emotion was not in Tobin’s wheelhouse. She was too chill, too laidback. “But speaking of my girlfriend...” Christen trailed off, turning to face the field. She squinted, trying to pick Tobin out from the small groups of UCLA players dotting their half of the field.
“Have you seen yourself? She can get jealous,” Megan mumbled.
“I’d have to see it to believe it,” Christen replied, a smile growing on her face as she finally caught sight of Tobin and Mal on the far side of the field, where the most rainwater had collected.
“She looks like a penguin,” Megan laughed, pointing to where Tobin and Mal were sliding on their stomachs across the wet grass.
“God, I love that girl,” Christen hummed happily. “Want to join them?” she asked Megan with a waggle of her eyebrows.
“Sure, I’m not getting any drier,” Megan shrugged.
Christen and Megan jogged across the field to where Tobin and Mal were sliding on their stomachs through huge puddles of water.
“Tobin told me this is the best part about rainy games!” Mal called.
“She’s not wrong,” Christen replied, coming to a stop by Tobin’s elbow. She reached up to brush some grass off of Tobin’s face with a delicate touch.
“Hey, cutie,” Tobin grinned, leaning her face into Christen’s touch.
“You’re teaching the kid to ruin her white jersey by sliding around in rain and mud?” Christen teased.
“We have stain remover,” Tobin shrugged.
“I think we’ll be helping the managers with laundry this week,” Christen replied.
“It’ll be worth it though, won’t it?” Tobin said, knocking a hip into Christen’s.
“Totally worth it,” Christen grinned. “Want to see who can slide further?”
“Winner gets a kiss,” Tobin said, running toward the puddle.
Christen laughed and took off after Tobin, feeling like no matter who slid further, she was going to be a winner all the same.
Christen waited until after they’d showered and gotten all of the mud and grass and rain off of each other, until after Tobin had messily slathered her toothbrush with toothpaste and stuck the toothbrush in her mouth, before saying anything.
“Did you check out the student section tonight? A thumbs up or thumbs down will suffice,” Christen winked, nodding at the toothbrush in Tobin’s mouth.
Tobin’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. She wasn’t really a fan of looking at the stands, especially once the game started. She was too focused on the ball at her feet to notice who was watching the game. She wasn’t entirely sure why Christen was asking, since she knew Christen wasn’t a fan of looking at spectators either. Tobin shot Christen a thumbs down, shaking her head softly.
Christen blew out a long breath and nodded, turning back to the sink to pump some face wash into her hands. She was trying to think of the right words to say, feeling a little ridiculous at the slight nerves that ran through her.
Tobin reached out, placing her hand on Christen’s back to comfort her or calm whatever nerves she seemed to be feeling. She wished that she didn’t have toothpaste in her mouth, but it also seemed like Christen had purposefully waited for Tobin to start brushing her teeth before beginning this conversation. So, she relied on touch, just hoping she could anchor Christen in this moment with her.
“Um, I didn’t see until Pinoe pointed her out, but apparently Kate came to the game tonight,” Christen said quietly, rubbing face wash onto her face to keep herself distracted and busy.
Tobin’s eyes narrowed, not because she was upset but because she was genuinely searching her mind for the name Kate and a person Christen knew by that name. She couldn’t decide if Kate was an old friend or something more. Tobin felt like she was searching every single corner of her mind for that name, trying to sift through the few Kates she knew from her own childhood or from youth camps, trying to find one who went to UCLA.
Christen rinsed her face off and patted it dry, still waiting for any sort of response from Tobin, for something more than the silence that enveloped them. She regretted waiting for Tobin to brush her teeth, realizing that she would rather know what Tobin was feeling and thinking, than left wondering.
Tobin leaned over the sink spitting out her toothpaste and rinsing her toothbrush. She was still deep in thought, lost somewhere between a Kate she’d shared a snack with in kindergarten and a Kate she met in a religion class at Penn State.
“I didn’t know she was going to be there, Tobs, I promise,” Christen sighed, crossing her arms over her chest as she rested a hip against the bathroom counter. She desperately hoped that Tobin wouldn’t be upset about this, that Tobin’s silence wasn’t her growing jealous or hurt.
“Don’t be annoyed, but...I have no idea who you’re talking about,” Tobin said, a lopsided smile growing on her face.
Christen barked out a laugh, shaking her head in disbelief. “Wait, really?” she asked, a matching, relieved smile making its way onto her face.
“Yeah, who are we talking about?” Tobin asked, putting her toothbrush on the counter and stepping closer to Christen.
“My not ex-girlfriend from sophomore year,” Christen admitted quietly. “The one I dated to try and forget about how much I had fallen for you and wanted to be with you.”
Realization washed over Tobin. “That Kate,” Tobin thought, shaking her head softly.
“I must have blocked that Kate out of my mind,” Tobin teased, wrapping an arm around Christen’s waist. “So, your not ex-girlfriend was at the game,” Tobin hummed.
Christen nodded, still struggling through a bit of confusion herself on the matter. She hadn’t seen Kate in almost two years at this point, so it was a bit random to have her suddenly at the game.
“That makes sense,” Tobin nodded. She pulled the bathroom door open and stepped into their bedroom.
“Makes sense? How does that make sense?” Christen wondered, following Tobin into the bedroom.
Tobin pulled the covers back on the bed, looking over her shoulder at Christen with a look of disbelief on her face.
“Here, let me explain,” Tobin said. She walked toward Christen, turning her around so that Christen’s back was pressed against her front. She stepped across the room, holding onto Christen’s hips until they were in front of the floor-length mirror they’d picked out together from IKEA. “I’d come to watch her play,” Tobin mumbled, gesturing at Christen’s reflection in the mirror.
Christen melted and sank back into Tobin’s arms, shaking her head slightly. She met Tobin’s eyes in the mirror.
“I don’t think that’s why she came to the game, baby,” Christen said.
“Oh? Who else did she come to see? Honestly, I can’t blame her. She’s got great taste,” Tobin smirked, kissing Christen’s shoulder.
Christen grinned, feeling butterflies fluttering around in her chest, just like they always did whenever Tobin proved to be impossibly sweet and thoughtful.
“I told Pinoe you wouldn’t be jealous,” Christen mumbled, threading her fingers in between Tobin’s against her hip. “I don’t think you’re all that capable of it, not in a serious way. Sure you got a little green at camp when I told you about my first girlfriend Regina, but that wasn’t serious. You’re too...chill I think,” Christen shrugged.
Tobin lifted an eyebrow in surprise. She wasn’t sure why Christen assumed that she wouldn’t be jealous. Other people looking at Christen didn’t upset her, but she couldn’t deny that thinking about Kate, thinking about how many times Christen kissed Kate made her stomach tighten. It made her throat taste bitter. She was definitely capable of feeling jealous.
“Sure,” Tobin scoffed, pulling Christen toward the bed, wanting her brain to forget Kate’s name again. “Now, I think I owe you something because of that second goal, and I’m looking forward to letting you cash in on it,” Tobin husked.
Christen giggled as she felt Tobin tug her toward the bed, any and all thoughts of literally anybody else leaving her mind as soon as Tobin’s hands fell to the hem of her sleep shirt.
Tobin nearly dropped the plate of pancakes, since it was balanced on top of her coffee mug. She held a bottle of syrup and Christen’s coffee in the other hand and a fork in her mouth.
“Need a hand?” Kelley chuckled, stepping out of her bedroom and pulling her hair into a bun.
Tobin nodded, praying that Kelley wouldn’t do anything to make her trip. She couldn’t see a mischievous glint in her eyes, so she figured she was safe.
Kelley pushed open Christen and Tobin’s bedroom door. “Happy anniversary, you two. Enjoy your off day,” she hummed, skipping toward the stairs and whistling a happy tune as she walked downstairs.
“Weird,” Tobin thought to herself, watching Kelley, in the best mood she’d ever seen her. She didn’t remain distracted for long, though. She stepped into the bedroom and quietly closed the door with her foot. She placed Christen’s coffee, the plate of pancakes, and the syrup on the bedside table, finally taking a sip of her own coffee.
“Careful, I might start to get used to being woken up like this,” Christen hummed, a sleepy smile on her face. She rolled over in bed to face Tobin, putting her arms above her head to stretch, and then let out a small sigh.
“Don’t say that before you try them,” Tobin warned, her heart melting at Christen’s adorable morning stretch. “Who knows how they turned out.”
“Come here,” Christen said, crooking her finger at Tobin, not thinking about coffee or pancakes or anything else just yet.
Tobin put her coffee down next to Christen’s and climbed into bed, sinking into Christen’s arms.
“Happy anniversary,” Christen murmured, pressing her lips against Tobin’s in a sweet kiss.
“Happy anniversary, Chris,” Tobin sighed against Christen’s lips.
“You’ve put up with me for a whole year, congrats,” Christen teased, running her nose along Tobin’s.
“I wouldn’t put it like that,” Tobin scoffed. “I’ve had the best year of my life.”
Christen beamed. “Me too, I can’t wait to see what year two brings.”
“And three and four and five and six-” Tobin whispered.
With a laugh, Christen tilted her head up to kiss Tobin once more, interrupting her count, but knowing she wasn’t far off the mark at all. They had many, many years ahead of them and Christen couldn’t wait to count them all.
“Want to know a fun fact?” Christen whispered after disconnecting their lips. She ran her hands up and down Tobin’s back, a smile tugging at her lips at Tobin’s sleepy blinking.
“That seems fitting,” Tobin yawned, burying her face in Christen’s neck and kissing the skin there.
Christen’s smile grew at the lazy kisses Tobin left against her neck. “I was supposed to be rooming with Crystal on the San Diego trip, but I volunteered to sleep alone.”
“Is it a fun fact if I already know it,” Tobin teased, poking Christen’s side with her finger.
“But did you know that I chose to sleep alone because I kind of wanted you to show up? That I asked for the single because I hoped you’d come to my door?” Christen replied softly, feeling her heart rate pick up just a bit with the admission.
Tobin lifted up off of Christen, holding her upper body up with one arm. “No way,” Tobin whispered. There was absolutely no way that Christen had chosen to room alone because of her. There was no way that Christen, as angry as she was a year ago, had wanted Tobin to come to her room.
“Even then, even when I was at my angriest, I still wanted you there,” Christen smiled shyly, reaching up to cup Tobin’s cheek.
“I’m really, really glad you wanted me there,” Tobin breathed out, her eyes fluttering closed at Christen’s touch. “Fun fact, I almost kissed you on my birthday,” Tobin mumbled, sinking back down onto Christen.
“Which birthday?” Christen wondered, running her fingers through Tobin’s hair soothingly, relishing in this walk down memory lane.
“My twenty-first,” Tobin mumbled, sinking into Christen’s soft touches. “At camp.”
“When?” Christen asked with a smile, scratching lightly against Tobin’s scalp.
Tobin buried her face in Christen’s neck, suddenly feeling a little embarrassed about the morning of her birthday, when she’d woken up with her hand under Christen’s shirt and a huge urge to press her lips against Christen’s. “Just on the day,” she murmured, feeling her cheeks start to burn a little.
“Will you tell me if I tell you about the first time I wanted to kiss you?” Christen replied, hearing the slight hesitation in Tobin’s voice.
“This was definitely not the first time I wanted to kiss you,” Tobin laughed. “It was just one of the many.”
“Offer still stands,” Christen hummed.
“Fine...I woke up before you on my birthday, and my hands had clearly wandered in my sleep,” Tobin admitted, her cheeks blushing a little more, even though she’d touched Christen thousands of times since then.
Christen chuckled. “They still do, it’s adorable.”
“I’m not sure you would have thought that back then if you’d woken up to my hand under your shirt,” Tobin teased.
“I can guarantee I would have. I don’t plan birthday surprises like that for just anyone,” Christen replied easily.
Tobin kissed Christen’s collarbone before lifting up to look at her. “I woke up and immediately moved since I’m a gentlewoman and don’t touch without consent,” Tobin grinned. “But I couldn’t stop looking at you. You were just so peaceful and beautiful, and I wanted to kiss you so badly. I had to get up and shower, in order to not actually roll over and kiss you awake.”
Christen felt a slight blush heat her cheeks. She reached up to run her thumb across Tobin’s bottom lip.
“I’m sorry you couldn’t then. But I’ll let you give me a kiss every birthday morning from here on out,” Christen hummed with a small smile.
“Thank you,” Tobin smirked, leaning down and pressing a kiss on Christen’s lips. “So, what was this ‘first time wanting to kiss me’ deal we made?”
“You want to know?” Christen asked softly.
“Is that actually a question?” Tobin teased, her eyes crinkling.
Christen started to trace patterns across Tobin’s back again, her eyes dancing between Tobin’s as she thought back a few years. It was such an innocuous moment, and it was a bit random since it hadn’t even happened in person. That was the tough part about building so much of their initial rapport and relationship over text and Facetime, a lot of those first moments happened over the phone.
“The morning after winning the Natty my freshman year, when I horribly hungover and I woke up to messages from you and you were worried about me and checking on me...it just made me realize that I’d stumbled upon someone really great. I was so embarrassed about my drunk texts from the night before and you told me that I didn’t need to apologize, that I didn’t ruin anything,” Christen hummed quietly, her eyes falling shut at the memory. She smiled a bit, recalling the exact message Tobin had sent her. “You told me that you wake up every single day and you’re glad to know me.”
Christen let her eyes flutter open and her smile grow. “And it hit me that I wanted nothing more than to kiss you. And kissing you stayed pretty high on my list for a long time. It still is.”
Tobin couldn’t really remember even sending that message, but she was so glad Christen did. She loved learning about this, learning about the first time Christen had thought about kissing her. But she was curious now, desperate to know if there was a moment like that didn't happen over text.
“What about in person? Because I definitely have an in-person one,” Tobin grinned.
Christen nodded, her hands trailing up and down Tobin’s sides delicately before settling low on her hips. “Yeah, at Allie’s Christmas Party. You were wearing that Rudolph sweater and you smelled like Christmas Cosmos and we were looking out at the ocean…” she trailed off, getting a far off look in her eye as she remembered how close she and Tobin had been sitting on the porch, about how it would have only taken a slight tilt of either one of their faces to bring their lips together. “If Allie hadn’t come out, I might have.”
“I would have kissed you back,” Tobin admitted, her heart melting at Christen’s words. “But damn, even in the Rudolph sweater? Wow…” Tobin sighed, her smile growing even more.
“Especially in the Rudolph sweater,” Christen hummed.
“Our friendship or whatever we were, was so tense during that party, and even still, you were the one person at Allie’s house that made me feel comfortable and safe and like myself,” Tobin whispered.
“You’ve always been my safe place, too, Tobs,” Christen whispered back, feeling like she had to whisper. They found themselves in this quiet moment that would shatter if they raised their voices any louder.
“I almost kissed you on New Year’s Eve, too,” Tobin smirked, remembering how great Christen had looked in that dress.
“We’ve had a lot of almost-kisses, haven’t we?” Christen grinned, thinking back on how she’d also wanted to kiss Tobin on New Year’s, and during Spring Break, and at National Camp.
“And now I get to all the time,” Tobin sighed.
Christen hummed in agreement and lifted up to press a kiss to Tobin’s lips softly.
“Do you want lukewarm pancakes and some coffee?” Tobin asked, resting her forehead against Christen’s.
“That sounds fantastic,” Christen replied quietly, a small smile gracing her lips.
“Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!”
Christen looked between her hand held out in a “rock” and Tobin’s held out in “paper” and grumbled.
“Do you not trust my expert drink choices?” Tobin teased, cranking up the truck’s engine and pulling away from the house.
“I’m worried it’ll be something sugary like a Slurpee,” Christen wrinkled her nose, tucking a leg beneath her on the bench seat and looking over at Tobin.
“I mean...that’s oddly similar to what I’ve chosen,” Tobin laughed. “But you can order whatever you want once we get there, and I won’t complain.”
Christen smiled and reached out to lay a hand on Tobin’s thigh. She poked her thumb into the ripped hole in Tobin’s jeans and traced the warm skin she found there, her eyes trained out the window on the passing scenery.
“You look beautiful, by the way,” Christen murmured casually, still looking out the window, not needing to look back over at Tobin to know she was correct in her assessment. Tobin had donned those killer black ripped jeans, a plain t-shirt that was white with orange sleeves, and the 23 snapback Christen had given her for Christmas. Yeah, her girl looked beautiful and sexy and so very hot.
“So do you,” Tobin hummed. “I wish I were looking at you instead of the road.” She’d taken in Christen as much as she could when she’d jokingly knocked on their bedroom door to pick her up for their date. She’d let her eyes trail over Christen’s bare legs, her jean shorts not covering much. She’d admired the silky black tank top that Christen was wearing and the natural curls in her hair. Still, Tobin had a desire to pull the car over and look a little bit more.
“You can when we get to our first stop,” Christen murmured, feeling her stomach flutter at Tobin’s compliment.
“We’re getting close,” Tobin grinned, preparing herself to take the next exit off the highway.
Christen sat up a bit straighter and looked around curiously, not recognizing where they were.
“Can’t start the anniversary off without being near the beach, right?” Tobin smiled, pulling into a busy parking lot overlooking the beach.
Christen was inclined to agree. The beach was such an important place for the two of them, not just together, but separately as well. Of course, Tobin would take them here first.
“I’d expect nothing less,” Christen replied with a smile, taking her hand off Tobin’s leg once Tobin put the car in park.
Tobin jogged around the front of the car to open Christen’s door, helping Christen out and then leading them away from the truck. They weaved through the parking lot full of cars, walking away from the beach and toward a gravel path.
“So I stumbled upon this last week,” Tobin said, wrapping her arm around Christen’s waist as they made their way down the path. The dunes were high enough on one side, and the trees and shrubs were high enough on the other, that Tobin knew Christen couldn’t see exactly where they were going.
“And this is…” Christen wondered, leaning into Tobin’s side, her eyes taking in everything she could see around them, trying to figure out where Tobin had brought them.
When they got to the end of the path and turned a corner, there was a large, paved clearing. More than a dozen food trucks were parked in the lot. Market lights were strung over each of the trucks, and people were milling around the trucks and sitting at picnic tables.
“Wow, this is so cool! But I definitely thought you were taking me to a Starbucks,” Christen laughed, pressing a kiss to Tobin’s cheek.
“Oh dang, that would have been romantic,” Tobin mused, remembering how she’d taken Christen to a Starbucks parking lot before their first date, just so she could park the car and wash away any and all insecurities that Christen was feeling.
“If you were going for romantic, you nailed it, baby,” Christen replied, taking in the clearing full of food trucks. “This place is incredible.”
“There’s a margarita truck,” Tobin practically beamed with excitement.
“No way,” Christen said, turning to look at Tobin, her eyes lighting up at the prospect.
“So, it is kind of like a slushie…” Tobin teased.
Christen laced her fingers with Tobin’s and nodded at the food trucks to her right. “Lead the way, I could definitely kill a margarita right now.”
Tobin led Christen through the trucks, finding the same margarita truck she’d seen the week before. The lime green, Mae’s Margarita’s sign was blinking on the side of the truck, and a list of special flavors was posted on a chalkboard next to the truck window.
“How am I supposed to choose just one? I want to try them all!” Christen laughed, reading the interesting flavor combinations.
“Pick your favorite two, and we can share?” Tobin suggested.
“What about your favorite?” Christen replied, her eyes still on the chalkboard.
“You’re my favorite,” Tobin hummed, knowing that her words were just going to get cheesier as the night went on, especially after drinking a little alcohol.
Christen squeezed Tobin’s hand, feeling her heart flutter in her chest. “How about we go with a classic lime and then try...the raspberry?” Christen said, turning to see if Tobin approved of her choices.
“Sounds perfect,” Tobin whispered before she stepped up to the window to order for the two of them. She got the drinks in the to-go cups, intent on enjoying them on the beach with her toes in the sand.
“I was thinking a beach walk would be nice unless you’d rather stay here?” Tobin said, turning to Christen with both margaritas in her hands.
Christen smiled, kicking off her flip-flops. She picked them up then grabbed the raspberry margarita out of Tobin’s hand. “Come on,” she replied, tilting her head in the direction of the beach.
“Okay, it’s surprisingly good,” Tobin said, taking a second sip of Christen’s raspberry margarita.
“Here, have some more,” Christen laughed, switching cups with Tobin. They ambled slowly down the beach, right near the water, their footprints marking their path in the wet sand behind them.
“I’ve always loved the beach. Doesn’t matter which coast,” Tobin sighed, looking up at the sky and the sun low in the sky.
“Feels like nothing bad can touch us out here, doesn’t it?” Christen hummed in reply. “Or maybe that’s just the tequila talking,” she added with a small laugh. The two of them grew quiet for a bit, letting the sounds of the ocean surround them as their shoulders brushed.
“I never thought someone would mean as much to me as you do,” Tobin said, breaking the silence. Her eyes were narrowed in thought, as if she’d been mulling this over for a while. “But you’ve become a part of every piece of my life. Even the ocean reminds me of you now,” Tobin murmured.
Christen felt a flush creep up her neck, not from the alcohol, but from the sweetness in Tobin’s words and the love in her voice. It took her breath away a little bit every time Tobin said stuff like that.
“Do you ever wish we’d met differently? Like, under different circumstances,” Christen wondered, not really sure where that question had come from but finding herself curious about the answer now that she’d asked it.
“What do you mean?” Tobin asked, trying to understand what kind of scenario Christen was imagining.
“I don’t know...like if we’d grown up as next-door neighbors, or gone to the same high school, or just casually ran into each other in a bookstore when we both reached for the same copy of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur,” Christen replied, looking over at Tobin, pushing some hair that the wind had blown into her face behind her ear.
“That’s oddly specific,” Tobin laughed. “You would have liked those better than meeting as competitors and taking our sweet time to sort out our feelings?”
“No, not at all. I love our story. It’s my favorite and I wouldn’t change a thing about it,” Christen hummed. “I was just curious.”
“Sometimes I think about what it would have been like if I’d had you in my life sooner. I think I would have saved myself a lot of hurt from other people since I would have been hopelessly in love with you and no one else,” Tobin smirked.
Christen smiled at that, knocking her shoulder into Tobin’s. She felt the exact same way, wishing that Tobin had always been in her life too. She had a feeling her life would have been infinitely better if that had been the case. But at least she got to have Tobin by her side now.
“But then I think about the person I am now. I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t met the people I knew in high school. I wouldn’t be the person I am now if Augie Lowenstein hadn’t been my neighbor growing up. He used to kick my ass at every sport, and it infuriated the hell out of me. It made me try harder. If I hadn’t known those people, if my first crushes hadn’t hurt so much, I wouldn’t be the person you love now,” Tobin shrugged.
“I love who you are now,” Christen replied, pulling Tobin to a stop with her hand that held her flip-flops. She dropped her shoes to the sand, wanting a free hand so she could hold Tobin’s cheek, so she could run her thumb along her cheekbone gently. “I really love how sappy you get on special occasions. I love how effusive you are one minute, and then goofy the next. I love you more today than I did yesterday, more now than I did this morning. I just really love you, Tobin Heath, and I wouldn’t change a thing about you or this or us.”
“I really love you too,” Tobin whispered, her voice and words failing her when Christen was looking at her with so much intensity. So, instead of trying to speak, she leaned forward and gently caught Christen’s bottom lip between her own.
They’d walked off the lingering buzz from their margaritas before heading back to the truck, where they engaged in a second round of “rock, paper, scissors.” Despite going for paper instead of rock this time, Christen lost again. Tobin had scissored Christen’s paper, thus, she got to choose the spot for their appetizer.
“You’ll love this, don’t worry,” Tobin grinned, opening Christen’s door for her.
“Hope it’s a quick stop, we gotta be at Sunshine Records by three,” Christen replied, leaning in for a quick kiss.
“It’s super fast,” Tobin promised before she shut the car door and jogged around to her seat.
Tobin quickly pulled away from the beach parking lot and drove down the street, humming to herself. She put her arm over the back of the bench seat and twirled one of Christen’s curls around her index finger, earning her a dopey smile from Christen and a few happy sighs.
It didn’t take long for them to reach their next destination, mainly because there were dozens of locations in Southern California.
“See, we don’t even have to get out of the car,” Tobin grinned, pulling into the drive-thru line.
“Baby,” Christen pouted, scooting closer to Tobin. “I’m going to turn into a french fry, I eat so many of them.”
“You told me that you could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” Tobin defended.
“I totally could! But would you still love me if I were a french fry?” Christen teased.
“Of course, you’d be the sexiest french fry! Guac was my second idea, though. I can abandon ship here. We have time,” Tobin said, pointing at the car ahead of them, starting to order.
Christen’s stomach growled, making the decision for them. “Can we get them animal style?” Christen asked excitedly.
“There she is,” Tobin grinned, pulling up to the speaker to place their order. “I promise that if you win the next round, you can take us out for salads or something else obscenely healthy,” Tobin smirked.
“Don’t tempt me with a good time,” Christen joked.
After ordering and paying, Tobin took the fries from the employee and placed them on the middle of the bench seat. She drove away from In-N-Out, making quick time to their next destination.
“This was a true test of patience,” Christen hummed, her hands clasped tightly in her lap so she wouldn’t reach out and start eating the fries.
“Baby, I told you that you could eat them on the way,” Tobin laughed, pulling the car toward the back of the lot, just where they always parked whenever they came here. There wasn’t a movie playing today, so the lot was open.
“I was not going to eat them without you, dork,” Christen replied, smiling at their surroundings and at the memories it brought up. “Great location choice,” she added, winking over at Tobin.
“I got pretty lucky here, so it’s one of my favorite places to visit,” Tobin smirked.
Christen unbuckled her seat belt and picked up the two baskets of fries. She set them on the dashboard and slid over until she was pressed against Tobin’s side.
“Wow, choosing me over fries,” Tobin hummed.
Christen rolled her eyes and grabbed the fries off the dashboard. “I can multitask,” she said with a smile, handing one basket to Tobin.
“See, this is why I love you,” Tobin nodded, putting a few fries in her mouth and sinking back into her seat.
Christen hesitated, her fries forgotten in her lap for a moment. She looked over at Tobin, watching the happy smile on her face grow as she ate some fries. She suddenly thought about what her mom had said to her the other week, about the happy moments she got to have with Tobin every day. She thought about how she’d almost lost the chance to have more of them and how in a few months, maybe she would lose the chance again.
“What if we get drafted to different teams?” Christen blurted, her cheeks filling with an embarrassed flush at the way she practically shouted the words at Tobin who was right next to her.
Tobin choked on the fry she’d just put in her mouth.
“Shit, sorry,” Christen said, putting her basket onto the dashboard and rubbing Tobin’s back gently. “Bad timing. Forget I asked.”
Tobin waved her hand in front of her face to signal that it was fine. After recovering and finally swallowing the fry, Tobin reached up to put her basket of fries on the dashboard next to Christen’s.
“I’m not going to forget you asked,” Tobin said calmly, picking up a napkin and wiping her hands before she put one hand on Christen’s leg. “Obviously, we need to talk about that, since it will most likely happen,” Tobin nodded, keeping her voice calm. She’d had a lot of time to think about this since the Arsenal call.
“Well, you’ll definitely get drafted somewhere. So we probably should, yeah,” Christen hummed, placing her hand on top of Tobin’s.
“I think we both will,” Tobin clarified, wrapping her hand a little more securely around Christen's inner thigh.
Christen shrugged, feeling her insecurities and worries bubble up. Her insecurities and worries about not getting drafted, about not getting the chance to continue to play after college, and then not getting called up to the full women’s team someday were rushing through her and making a pit grow in her stomach.
“Here’s the thing, I’ve thought about every possible scenario,” Tobin said, her eyes focused only on Christen’s. “The rarest option is that we both get drafted somewhere, together. That would be amazing. We could get a place together, maybe a dog. I’d learn how to cook a little more, maybe...no promises. More likely, we’ll be drafted to different teams. Another good scenario is that we’re drafted to teams near each other and can share a home base, maybe travel to watch each other play when we’re free.”
“But-” Christen tried to interject, but Tobin was on a roll.
“Worst-case and very possible scenario, we end up on teams far away from one another,” Tobin mumbled. “I know it’ll probably suck a lot, and we’ll have to go back to FaceTime calls every night and texts and short visits, but I can do that…And then, there’s always the last option or scenario,” Tobin swallowed thickly.
Christen blinked the tears away from her eyes, wondering what was possibly saved for last.
“We could- I- Well, professional teams will be way harder than what we’re doing now. If you wanted to- I mean, if we decided that it was the best thing, we could go into our professional careers without a relationship to tie us to one another,” Tobin mumbled.
Christen felt her lower lip tremble, so she pulled it between her teeth, her eyes falling to Tobin’s ring on her finger. She spun it in slow circles, her mind running over every scenario Tobin presented.
“Don’t let me go, please,” Christen whispered. “Because I don’t want to let you go. We’ll figure the rest out when draft day comes.”
Tobin pulled Christen’s face closer to hers, her hands resting on either side of Christen’s face. “I won’t, baby,” Tobin murmured. “I don’t ever want to let go either.”
Christen blew out a long breath. “Sorry that was a bit heavy for an anniversary, I just wanted to...check, I guess. After the whole Arsenal thing, I wanted to make sure we were on the same page,” Christen replied quietly, leaning into Tobin’s touch.
“I’m all in with you,” Tobin murmured, tucking a strand of Christen’s hair behind her ear.
“Even if I don’t get drafted? Even if I go out and do something outside the world of soccer?”
“You know, I fell in love with you because of who you are, not because of the way you kick a soccer ball around on a field,” Tobin sighed, brushing her thumbs across Christen’s cheeks.
Christen melted, turning her face to press a kiss to Tobin’s palm.
“I firmly believe that you’re going to play soccer professionally if that’s what you want to do. But, Chris, I would love you if you chose to juggle in the circus for a living. I just want you to be happy and feel passionate about what you do,” Tobin promised.
Christen chuckled, feeling the heaviness and her tears recede. She gazed over at her girlfriend, a smile tugging at her lips.
“Same goes, baby,” Christen murmured.
“I can’t juggle anything besides a soccer ball, but that’s nice to know,” Tobin teased, lightening the mood a little bit. “I’m going to knock on wood right now, since you believe in juju or luck or whatever, but I’m going to say it anyway…” Tobin said, searching for anything that could be made out of wood and settling for a piece of paper from her driver’s side door. “In this career, who knows how long either of us will get to play. Who knows whether I’ll play for a year and then get an injury that knocks me out of the professional realm of soccer. Who knows where you’ll get to play or what your career will look like. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing except this,” Tobin said, gesturing between the two of them.
Christen nodded, erasing the space between them to kiss Tobin soundly, putting every bit of gratitude and love into the kiss. If nothing else, they would always have each other, and Christen had never felt more confident about that than she did now.
“This is going to be awesome!” Tobin cheered, sticking her tongue out at Christen and putting a pair of large headphones on her head.
Christen shook her head affectionately. “These aren’t soundproof!” she replied with a smile, looking around at the other patrons in Sunshine Records and feeling a bit bad that they could be disturbing their shopping. Christen looked back at Tobin and put her own set of headphones over her ears.
“You look really sexy with those headphones on!” Tobin yelled, her smile growing even more. She didn’t care if the other patrons knew that Christen was hot.
Christen blushed and ducked her head, looking down at the collection of records in front of her. She would rather look at the records than at Tobin’s cocky smirk or anybody else in this store.
She and Tobin were set up in two glass booths, sadly not the soundproof kind, at the rear of the record shop. They were each given an hour to scour the music library of the record shop and come up with a list of ten songs the shop would burn onto personalized records for them.
Christen had found out about this place, and this incredible product they offered, through Crystal. Crystal was a bit of a music junkie and had told Christen all about this indie record shop near the beach that lets you customize a record. Naturally, Christen had jumped at the chance to do that, knowing how important music and songs were to her and Tobin. What better way to celebrate an anniversary than to make customized records for the other person?
Tobin had absolutely loved the idea when she’d told her about it a few days ago. She’d caught Tobin scribbling on scraps of paper or typing in the Notes app on her phone, writing down song ideas for the record she was going to make Christen. And now that she was here, Christen wished she’d prepared in the same way Tobin had.
Christen grabbed a record from a shelf nearby and put it onto the record player, hoping for some inspiration as she thought about how to capture everything Tobin was, everything Tobin meant to her, everything she felt for Tobin in just ten songs.
Tobin felt like she’d been preparing for this moment her entire life. She’d made a few friends CD mixtapes. She’d even burned a mixtape onto a CD for one of her crushes in high school, but this felt infinitely more important. First of all, this was vinyl, so it was way cooler. But this was also Christen.
She’d been thinking about which songs she wanted Christen to hear on her mixtape. They ranged from fast and fun to slow and intimate. Tobin wanted the mixtape to be something that she and Christen could slow dance to, something that they’d enjoy listening to while burning dinner or getting ready for a date night. Or other fun activities.
First on the list was, of course, “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies. Christen had been so dorky and sexy and heart-stoppingly beautiful when she’d sung all the words to the song, and Tobin had fallen even deeper in love at the sight. She wanted to make Christen laugh with that song, and she wanted to hear Christen get as excited, or at least close to as excited, as Christen had been at the concert on Valentine’s Day.
The other songs were more serious. The lyrics were meaningful. Two of the songs were about stars and reminded Tobin about their star, Todd, that Christen had given her for Christmas. They reminded Tobin of their first date under the stars.
One song was about perfection, something that Christen had been insecure about, something that Tobin tried to be sensitive to every single day. A few were about loving someone, regardless of time and distance. She knew, even before Christen spoke the words, that Christen was just as nervous as she was about moving away and having to try long-distance again if they got drafted to separate teams. She wanted at least one or two of her songs to make Christen feel better about being far away. Tobin wanted Christen to know that she’d love her, no matter how many miles were between them.
The songs felt limiting. Tobin wanted to add another ten, another twenty. She wanted to give Christen every song that reminded her of their relationship. She wanted each song to make Christen feel loved and safe. After swapping out a few songs, changing the order of the songs, and reminding herself that she could make another mixtape for the next anniversary or birthday, Tobin finally felt satisfied with the mixtape.
She looked up and saw Christen still working, her brow furrowed in concentration and her tongue poked out of the corner of her mouth. Tobin sighed happily and just decided to watch Christen work for a few moments, relishing in the love swirling around within her.
Christen scanned her list, feeling like no matter how much time she spent tinkering with it, it wasn’t going to get any better. It was almost impossible to capture Tobin and their love story in just ten songs, but she’d done her best.
Her first choice was “Paper Rings” by Taylor Swift, a callback to the song Tobin had sung in the shower when they were getting ready for their scavenger hunt date last year. She loved the way Tobin sang in the shower, so casual and free, and this song would always make her think of the feeling she’d had when she heard Tobin sing for the first time.
She of course had to choose “Brown Eyed Girl”, because Tobin was her brown-eyed girl. The record shop didn’t have the original recording, so she’d settled on a cover that was upbeat but still sweet. She’d added in a song about magic, the lyrics hopefully able to remind Tobin how every little thing she did was magic. That everything about Tobin was magic.
A few of the songs were slow and heartfelt, full of lyrics and words that brought back memories. Memories of being there for each other through tough times, of helping each other out of rough patches, of finding poetry and love in each other.
There were some happier and faster songs, too. Christen had picked those based on the way they made her feel when she closed her eyes. Some made her heart race and her stomach fill with butterflies, reminiscent of those early days of love. Some made her feel safe and grounded, reminding her of how love wasn’t all big things, it was quiet moments and normal moments too.
The last song she’d chosen for the record was just so happy, Christen had to include it. It reminded her of Tobin’s goofy smile, of the love ever-present in her warm brown eyes, of the promise of forever in her touch. It made her think of the moments that could await them. Moments like marriage, like having a family, like growing old together.
With a somewhat satisfied nod, Christen looked up from her list of songs and found Tobin already looking at her. Christen felt a beaming smile make its way onto her face. She held a thumbs up in the air, silently telling Tobin that she was all done.
Tobin pulled the headphones off of her head and slid out of her booth, already dying to wrap her arms around Christen.
“That was super fun!” Tobin beamed, joining Christen in her booth. She pulled Christen to her feet and squeezed Christen’s hands in her own.
“I’m, like, sweating! That was so much pressure,” Christen laughed, leaning into Tobin and burying her face in Tobin’s neck.
“No need to stress. I’m sure yours is perfect, and I can’t wait to listen to it...and have sex to it,” Tobin whispered.
Christen chuckled against Tobin’s neck. “I was unaware I was making a sexy mixtape,” she hummed.
“I made a making love playlist,” Tobin winked.
“Mine is so hodge-podge,” Christen admitted with a blush, leaning back to look into Tobin’s eyes.
“I mean, mine is too,” Tobin agreed. “But, I’d probably have sex to any music, as long as it’s with you.” She grinned a lopsided smile and squeezed Christen’s hips.
“Funny, I feel the same way,” Christen replied, any worries about her mixtape melting away thanks to the sight of her favorite smile on Tobin’s face.
“YES!” Christen cheered, pumping her fists excitedly in the air. “Finally!”
“Fourth time’s a charm,” Tobin laughed, leaning back in her chair at the dinner table. They’d shared a few sushi rolls, clearing almost all of the plates in front of them on the table, and Tobin was starting to wonder if it would be possible to eat dessert after everything else they’d had. She wasn’t about to say that to Christen though, since she’d been frustrated every time Tobin had won each round of “rock paper scissors.”
Christen beamed, toying with her chopsticks as she pondered where she wanted to take Tobin for dessert. It wasn’t that she couldn’t think of anywhere, she just had too many ideas and couldn’t settle on just one...and then she figured it out.
“Want to know the best part about this dessert place I’m gonna take you to?” Christen said quietly, leaning her elbows on the table and getting just a bit closer to Tobin.
“What’s that?” Tobin asked, narrowing her eyes in thought and leaning forward on her elbows.
“We can get it to-go,” Christen smirked.
“And eat it in bed?” Tobin asked.
“I have some other plans for the bed, but we can do that too,” Christen hummed, wetting her lips subconsciously as she sat back in her chair.
“We don’t even need to stop for dessert,” Tobin husked, moving her legs out in front of her and knocking her foot against Christen’s under the table.
“Nope, I won fair and square so we’re stopping. Trust me, it’ll be worth it,” Christen winked.
“All right, all right,” Tobin sighed, catching their waiter’s eye, in order to ask for the check.
Christen tapped her feet against the floor of the truck as they made their way to their dessert destination.
“Take a right up here and then park anywhere, we have to walk inside,” Christen grinned, looking over excitedly at Tobin.
“Ooookay,” Tobin chuckled, following Christen’s directions. She loved how happy and excited Christen seemed to be, how infectious her joy was.
Once Tobin had parked, Christen led her girlfriend over to the bustling shop on the corner. It was painted a bright teal blue, making it stick out against the other shops on the street.
“Ta-da! SaltCraft has the best ice cream sandwiches in the entire country, and you can make your own!” Christen explained, pulling Tobin into the line that was out the door.
“SaltCraft?” Tobin asked skeptically. “Shouldn’t it be SugarCraft or CreamCraft or CavityCraft?” Tobin hummed.
“They should have hired you as Creative Director,” Christen teased.
“Ooooh, do you want to start an ice cream company with me when we retire?” Tobin asked. She stood behind Christen, wrapping her arms around Christen’s waist and resting her chin on Christen’s shoulder. She let herself daydream with her girl in her arms, not just because she was in a sappy mood, but because like every dream she had felt possible with Christen by her side.
“You want to start a company with me? How serious and adult,” Christen hummed, sinking into Tobin’s arms and keeping them moving forward in line when needed.
“I’d get to eat ice cream all day and come up with new flavors,” Tobin grinned.
“I have no clue how I would provide anything helpful to this company, besides trying all the flavors your beautiful brain thinks up,” Christen replied.
“You’re great at customer service, and running a tight ship. You’ll take care of all the details. Plus, you’re really good at telling me what to do,” Tobin teased.
“Oh, so I could be your boss?” Christen hummed, turning her head to press a kiss to Tobin’s cheek.
“Umm...I don’t think I’d be allowed to date my boss, so maybe partner would be better?” Tobin smirked, squeezing Christen even closer to her body.
“Partners it is,” Christen replied with a smile. “What would you like to name our ice cream company that doesn’t exist but is really cute to think about?”
“Christen’s Creamery, Incorporated feat. Tobin,” Tobin snorted, pressing a kiss to the side of Christen’s neck.
“That’s a pretty long name, baby. That might not be the right branding we’re going for,” Christen replied, moving them closer to the front. They only had four or so people between them and the counter now.
“See, this is why you’re part of the company and my partner,” Tobin sighed.
“What about...T&C’s Tasty Treats?” Christen giggled, scrunching up her nose at her own suggestion.
“Or...Popsicle,” Tobin sighed. “Popsicles are good.”
“I like Popsicle, but where’d the ice cream go? Did you abandon it so soon?” Christen teased, loving the way it felt to dream big and not worry about anything else. The likelihood that this would actually happen was slim, but it was nice to dream without limits for a little while. Especially when that dream included Tobin and ice creams.
“It’s there, but just calling a store Ice Cream doesn’t sound catchy,” Tobin shrugged. “But we have a long time to come up with a name.”
“We do, and right now you should figure out what to order. You get to pick your cookie flavor and your ice cream flavor and all the toppings,” Christen replied, bringing them to the front of the line, so they were next up to order.
Tobin could feel her heart speed up at all the options in front of her. She had officially found heaven, and it was right here, in this ice cream store with Christen Press.
“I’m going to get the double chocolate cookie with cookies ‘n cream ice cream and Sour Patch Kids.”
Christen laughed, having expected nothing less from her sweet-tooth girlfriend. “When Foudy asks why we’re running so slow tomorrow, I’ll tell her it was the Sour Patch Kids.”
“It was definitely the fries from In-N-Out,” Tobin laughed. “Sour Patch Kids are good for speed.”
Christen grinned and then stepped out of Tobin’s arms and up to the counter. She reached behind her and tangled her fingers with Tobin’s, just to keep them connected. She quickly ordered Tobin’s chocolate monstrosity and her more refined chocolate chip cookies, vanilla oat milk ice cream, and caramel drizzle.
Once they got their ice cream sandwiches, all boxed up and safe inside of a bag, Christen tugged Tobin up to the register. She finally got the chance to pay for something tonight, which made her happy. She was also happy that they were going to get the chance to enjoy these at home, knowing their house wasn’t too far away.
“Thank you, have a wonderful night,” Christen smiled at the employee, taking her credit card back and sliding it into her wallet.
“Thank you,” Tobin mumbled to Christen once they were exiting the ice cream store.
“For what?” Christen smiled, swinging their clasped hands between them as they made their back to Tobin’s truck.
“Ice cream,” Tobin grinned. “And for being you. And for loving me,” Tobin shrugged.
“You’re welcome,” Christen replied, squeezing Tobin’s hand in her own. “But you don’t have to thank me for loving you. It’s the easiest thing in the world.”
Tobin pulled the records out of the bag, willing herself not to look at the back of Christen’s. She wasn’t going to spoil the songs by reading the titles before she listened. She wanted it to be a surprise. Tobin placed them both on the foot of their bed, moving over to Christen’s record player and taking off Taylor Swift’s Lover and putting it back in its sleeve.
“Babe?” Tobin called out, hearing Christen on the stairs.
“Yes, I put the ice cream sandwiches in the freezer. No, I didn’t sneak a bite,” Christen replied, stepping into the bedroom and shutting the door behind her. She leaned back against it and looked across the room at where Tobin stood next to her record player with a lopsided grin on her face.
“You want to start with yours or mine?” Tobin asked, pointing at the records on the bed.
“Yours, of course,” Christen hummed, tilting her head to the side as a smile made its way onto her face.
“You’re gonna love the first song,” Tobin grinned, practically skipping over to the bed to get the record she’d made for Christen.
Christen felt her heart start to beat a little faster in her chest as she watched Tobin get the record set up. Everything about today had been perfect, every single moment. And now she got to finish the day off by listening to the songs Tobin had picked out for her. She wished for a moment that she could press pause, that she could stretch this night out for as long as possible. She never wanted it to end, this brief bit of magic they’d managed to capture.
“I love you,” Christen whispered, feeling her stomach tighten a bit with the words. Even if she’d said them hundreds of times now, sleepily in the mornings and quietly at nights, and softly or happily or loudly in all of the other moments, she felt like saying it now was a bit bigger than the rest. It had been a whole year of getting to wake up with Tobin in her arms, of getting to make Tobin snort when she laughed too hard, of getting to love her and cherish her. 365 days of the best moments, of the toughest moments, of the easiest ones too. It brought tears to her eyes and made her blow out a wobbly breath just thinking about how they had one year down, and forever to go.
“I love you too,” Tobin beamed, setting the needle down on the record and turning around to look at Christen.
The beginning of “One Week” blared out of the record player, and Tobin watched as a smile broke out across Christen’s face.
Christen wiped quickly at her eyes, brushing the handful of tears away as she pushed off the door. “You’re right, this is the best first song,” Christen hummed, dropping her arms on Tobin's shoulders.
“Are you okay?” Tobin asked. “You’re misty-eyed.”
“Yeah, I’m just feeling really...grateful to have you and to have a love like this to celebrate,” Christen whispered. “Will you dance with me?” she added, tapping her fingers to the beat across Tobin’s shoulders.
Tobin pulled Christen closer, swaying her hips to the song and turning the two of them around in a small circle as the music played. She smiled bigger every time Christen whispered the lyrics against her cheek.
“Chickity China, the Chinese chicken. You have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin’,” Christen hummed, pressing a kiss to Tobin’s cheek quickly.
Tobin couldn’t keep the laugh in her chest. She chuckled softly as Christen got louder and more into the song, just like she had at the concert.
“This is probably your sexiest quality,” Tobin mumbled, squeezing Christen’s hips.
“That I have the ability to bust rhymes?” Christen giggled, pausing her sing-along to reply to Tobin.
Tobin laughed even harder, nodding her head to the beat of the song. “Yes, cutie.”
“Good to know. Yours is the way you dance around in the bathroom when you’re brushing your teeth,” Christen replied, threading her fingers into the soft waves at the nape of Tobin’s neck, pressing her smile into the side of Tobin’s head.
“That’s just dorky,” Tobin rolled her eyes.
“Sexy,” Christen corrected.
Tobin pulled Christen closer, resting her hands on Christen’s back as the second song, “Better Half of Me” by Tom Walker started playing. The first line rang out of the speaker, “You’ll always be my number one, a whole lot more than good enough…”
“I like this one,” Christen whispered, feeling Tobin slow their dance down. They now swayed back and forth leisurely.
“I got a little sappy in the booth,” Tobin mumbled, tracing her fingers under the hem of Christen’s shirt, just to feel her warm skin under her fingertips.
“You? Sappy? Never…” Christen teased, leaning back to look into Tobin’s eyes.
“I know. I look really cool and tough; you’d never expect that I’m a mushy mess on the inside,” Tobin winked.
Christen felt her eyes crinkle as her smile grew. “It’s been one of my favorite things to learn about you,” she replied, hearing the next song begin.
“Oh, these next two songs are space-themed,” Tobin hummed. “An ode to Todd.”
Christen giggled and placed her forehead against Tobin’s, letting her eyes fall shut as she let the sweet melodies and the sweeter words fill the space around them.
They continued to slow dance around the room, song after song coming over the speaker, each one selected for reasons that Tobin would whisper into her ear. And then they got to a song Christen recognized, a song that had tears pricking the corners of her eyes.
“How did I know you were going to pick this one?” Christen mumbled, hearing the first few chords of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” come through the speakers.
“Because you don’t like the word perfect, and I’m annoying and wanted to put a song called Perfect on the record,” Tobin whispered against Christen’s temple.
“You’re not annoying,” Christen corrected quickly. “You’re wonderful and thoughtful.”
“And you’re perfect to me,” Tobin hummed, kissing Christen’s temple and cheek softly.
Christen turned and caught Tobin’s lips with her own, kissing Tobin with every bit of love she had inside of her. She still might not love the word perfect, but Tobin made her feel perfect enough. Tobin made her feel like they could be perfectly imperfect together.
And then the kiss changed as “Dandelions” by Ruth B. came over the speakers. The kiss moved away from sweet and a little shy, becoming bolder and more brazen. Tobin nipped gently at Christen’s lower lip and suddenly the slow dancing was abandoned. With a smirk, Christen walked them backward toward the bed.
Tobin wiped her mouth on the back of her hand and looked down at her naked girlfriend. Christen’s eyes were still closed, her chest was still heaving, and Tobin forced herself to stay kneeling between Christen’s legs, not to crawl up her chest and kiss her. She wanted to save this image in her memory. She wanted to remember how Christen’s hair looked spread across their pillows, how small reddish-purple marks dotted Christen’s skin where Tobin had trailed down her body, how Christen’s fingers were still twisted in the bedsheets, how Christen looked perfectly at peace, her lips quirked up in a soft smile. Tobin didn’t want to forget a single thing. She wanted to commit every single moment with Christen to memory.
“I am so glad everyone gave us the house tonight,” Christen panted, pushing a hand through her hair as she tried to regain her breath and her composure.
“I’m sure they are too,” Tobin hummed, tracing her fingers along Christen’s legs.
Christen finally cracked an eye open and looked up at Tobin, her smile growing at the love shining in her favorite pair of brown eyes. She uncurled her fingers from the bedsheets and reached out to grab onto one of Tobin’s wrists.
“Did you plan on doing that when you picked those last few songs?” Christen asked, still a little breathless.
“I planned on doing that when I picked out every song,” Tobin smirked. “They’re all good for slow dancing, but they’re also good for other...pastimes.”
Christen huffed out a laugh and tugged Tobin’s wrist, a silent request for her to come closer.
Tobin crawled up the bed, resting her hands on either side of Christen’s head and holding herself above her. “Your turn,” Tobin hummed, kissing Christen’s forehead.
“I’m gonna need one more minute, I still feel nothing below the waist,” Christen teased.
Tobin let out a soft laugh, her eyes crinkling and her cheeks aching. “No, it's your turn to play your record,” Tobin whispered.
“Oh boy,” Christen replied, silently praying that Tobin would like all of her choices, the way she loved every single one of Tobin’s. “Do you think you could-”
“Put a t-shirt on? Go down on you again?” Tobin prompted.
“Put the record on, definitely not a shirt, and we can come back to that last question shortly,” Christen grinned.
“Of course,” Tobin said, pressing a kiss to Christen’s lips before sliding off the bed. She padded over to the record player, finally stopping the whirring noise that had been coming from the record player since the last song had ended. She replaced her record for the one Christen had made, excitement filling her chest as soon as she placed the needle onto the record. It only grew when the first notes of Taylor Swift’s “Paper Rings” started to play.
“Funny, we both picked songs we like to sing along to for the firsts on our records,” Christen grinned, leaning up on her elbows to look at Tobin.
Tobin grinned, her cheeks flushing a little. “It’s a good song,” she shrugged, heading back toward the bed, her hips swaying a little bit, unable not to dance to the music.
Christen pulled her lower lip between her teeth, watching Tobin dance as she bounced back to the bed. “I like it better when you sing it to me,” Christen hummed.
Tobin flopped down next to Christen, humming the words softly and throwing an arm over Christen’s waist.
Hearing Tobin’s soft crooning, Christen grinned and pulled Tobin down onto her chest, her arms wrapping around Tobin’s shoulders. She bobbed a bit to the upbeat tempo of the song, shaking the two of them and making Tobin chuckle. As that song ended and the next one began, Christen felt her heart swell in her chest.
Tobin scrunched her eyebrows when the first few notes came out of the speaker. She couldn’t place the song at first, since it was a slower cover than the original, but when the singer sang the first line, she couldn’t stop the dopey smile that spread across her lips.
“I can feel your smile,” Christen murmured, tracing her fingertips up and down Tobin’s back.
Tobin hadn’t heard the song since she was a little kid and her dad had taken Perry, Katie, and her to father/daughter dances. At that age, she’d felt awkward and out of place. She’d been a gawky, skinned-kneed tomboy, and she’d never imagined that anyone, besides her family, would think of her the way the singer thought of his brown-eyed girl. Tobin had never let herself imagine someone who would want her the way Christen did.
“You just make me feel more loved than I’ve ever felt before,” Tobin whispered.
“It’s what you deserve,” Christen replied, her voice quiet and reverential.
Tobin traced her fingers along Christen’s side, doodling shapes and words on her skin. “I didn’t think I’d get this,” she admitted quietly, burrowing closer into Christen.
“You deserve the world, Tobin Heath,” Christen observed, shrugging a bit as she turned to ghost her lips across the crown of Tobin’s head. “I’m just trying my best to give it to you.”
“You succeed,” Tobin mumbled into Christen’s skin. She kissed Christen’s collarbones softly, glancing up every few seconds to look at the green eyes that had completely captured her attention three years ago.
Tobin hummed softly to the songs, enjoying Christen’s taste in music. She was pleased that she really didn’t know many of the songs on Christen’s record. They were new to Tobin, and Christen had chosen them just for her. When an upbeat song came from the speakers, Tobin couldn’t help but move her hips against Christen, smiling a lopsided smile and glancing up at Christen’s face.
“I undid all your plans?” Tobin teased, listening intently to the lyrics.
Christen let her eyes fall shut, enjoying the sounds of Jake Scott’s “Whole Lives” as she thought about her answer. She knew Tobin was teasing a bit, but she did choose this song for a reason.
“When I was twelve, I sat my parents down and showed them my ten-year plan. I had written it on bright pink paper in purple marker. It included lots of trips to the beach, going to play soccer at Stanford, and learning how to crack an egg with one hand-”
“An honorable skill,” Tobin interrupted, smirking at Christen’s dorky twelve-year-old self.
“Shush, I’m telling a story,” Christen replied, a smile growing on her face even as she kept her eyes shut. “I made another ten-year plan when I turned eighteen. I was going to win a National Championship at UCLA, graduate with honors, get an Olympic gold medal, and still learn how to crack an egg with one hand.”
“Have you done that yet?” Tobin asked, genuinely curious about Christen’s egg-cracking goal.
“I’m...working on the egg thing,” Christen chuckled. “But in every plan I ever made, I didn’t plan on this. I didn’t plan on you. I wished for love, of course. Who doesn’t? But...no, Tobs. You didn’t undo my plans or anything. You just swooped in with your crafty soccer skills and goofy grin and became the plan I never made.”
Tobin sighed, wrapping an arm around Christen’s back and pulling their bodies even closer.
“What’s the ten-year plan now?” Tobin whispered. “Olympics and the egg thing still, I assume.”
“Of course. Throw in a World Cup title, getting drafted, and then spending every single year of the next ten with you,” Christen replied softly.
“That’s a really good plan,” Tobin hummed.
“Yeah, but the song is called ‘Whole Lives,’ so I’m not just settling for ten,” Christen murmured, blinking her eyes open so she could look at Tobin.
“That’s cool with me,” Tobin said, bobbing her head up and down.
“Super-duper cool,” Christen giggled, pressing a kiss to Tobin’s forehead.