Drown me, you make my heart beat like the rain
Surround me, hold me deep beneath your waves
And every night my mind is running around her
Thunder's getting louder and louder and louder
Baby, you're like lightning in a bottle
I can't let you go now that I got it
And all I need is to be struck
By your electric love (Ohh)
(Tobin - “Electric Love” by BØRNS)
She got the power in her hand
To shock you like you won't believe
Saw her in the amazon
With the voltage running through her skin
Standing there with nothing on
She gonna teach me how to swim
I said, ooh, girl
Shock me like an electric eel
Turn me on with your electric feel
(Christen - “Electric Feel” by MGMT)
“A little softer, Rose!” Tobin called across the field, watching as Rose shoved against Christen, trying to strip her of the ball.
Christen had finally been cleared for contact, for regular training, and for games, and she was bursting with excitement. Tobin, on the other hand, felt like her nerves were controlling all of her movements and impulses. She felt the urge to run across the field and move Rose out of the way. She didn’t like that Crystal had already challenged Christen with a light tackle, and her teeth were on edge any time any of her other teammates approached her girlfriend.
“You’re fine, Rosie,” Christen whispered, patting Rose on the back as she walked to get the ball from the sidelines to throw it in. Tobin had been such a worrywart ever since she’d come back to full contact, and while adorable, it wasn’t going to help her in the long run.
Christen threw the ball in to Kelley and darted away, showing for the ball. She knew Crystal was at her back and she welcomed the contact, the competition. If she was going to get minutes this coming weekend, she didn’t want to come out soft or hesitant. She wanted to be confident, and the only way to get her confidence back was to dive back in full speed.
Christen received the chipped ball from Kelley and flicked it over her shoulder, spinning on a dime and sprinting around Crystal. She took off on a dribble with the ball close to her feet, crossing the field diagonally, inadvertently bringing herself closer to Tobin. With a small smile, she drove straight at her girlfriend, excited to be back on the field and playing against Tobin.
Tobin jogged slowly, racking her brain for a way to avoid Christen, for a way to steer clear of her. She watched Christen come right at her and positioned herself as if she were going to put up a fight.
Christen poked the ball past Tobin and took off, expecting contact. A little elbow bump, a shoulder knock, a light t-shirt grab. But she got nothing and easily blew by Tobin.
With two more moves, Christen beat the final defender and sent a shot into the bottom corner of the goal, past Barney’s outstretched hand. Instead of celebrating, she turned around and jogged back over to Tobin.
“I’m not going to break,” Christen hummed, slowing her pace to walk by Tobin’s side back to half field.
Tobin only managed to shrug, her eyes squinting across the field. “You’re just too fast for me today.”
Christen pulled Tobin to a stop, their intra-squad scrimmage momentarily forgotten. “Bull, you didn’t try to stop me. Going easy on me isn’t going to help,” Christen said quietly.
“You just got back,” Tobin mumbled.
“I’ve been back, full contact, for five days, babe. I’m not going to break,” Christen repeated, trying to catch Tobin’s eye.
“I know, I know,” Tobin sighed. “I’d rather not be the one to do it, though.”
Thankfully, Foudy chose that moment to call practice, giving Christen the opening she needed. After closing out the training with a cheer and the reminder to be back at the locker room to catch the bus to the airport in a few hours, the rest of their teammates walked off the field while Christen held Tobin back.
Christen grabbed a bag of balls and two pop-up goals and walked to the middle of the field.
“Come on,” Christen called over her shoulder, hoping Tobin would follow.
Tobin trudged behind, knowing full well that she was about to be forced to do 1v1s against Christen and that there was no way out of them.
Christen quickly set up the small nets about fifteen yards apart and grabbed a ball from the bag. She dropped it at her feet with a smile.
“First to five gets to go... first,” Christen smirked.
“Sexually?” Tobin clarified, completely caught off guard, since Christen had been in soccer mode a second ago.
“Someone very smart once told me that repetitions and rituals are a good thing. And since we’ve got some really big games coming up, I figured it was time to get back to our good luck ritual,” Christen shrugged, tapping the ball back and forth between her feet.
“How do you plan to accomplish that? We’ve got to pack before we leave and then we aren’t rooming together, I’m sure,” Tobin said.
“Our bus leaves in four hours, it won’t take us that long to throw sweats into a duffel bag. And this weekend you’re rooming with Mal, who loves us enough to go sleep with Crystal in my room,” Christen replied, passing the ball to Tobin. “Any other questions? Or can we play now?”
“Past Tobin who was sexually frustrated at last year’s NCAA Tournament just feels really good right now,” Tobin winked, poking the ball between Christen’s legs and sprinting around her.
Christen huffed and sprinted, shoving Tobin a little harder than necessary as they battled for the ball. When she felt Tobin pull out of the contact, giving her the opportunity to steal the ball away, Christen turned and kicked it into Tobin’s pop-up net. She then spun around and pushed Tobin’s shoulder gently.
“Stop it! Stop doing that!” she said with an exasperated laugh.
“I’m not doing anything,” Tobin said with her hands held up in the air, the picture of innocence.
Christen narrowed her eyes. “Exactly!” she replied, pushing Tobin’s shoulder again. “Come on, fight back.”
“The ball’s in the net,” Tobin diverted, jogging to get the ball.
“ Your net,” Christen corrected, running beside Tobin, keeping pace. She was going to keep poking and prodding until Tobin got physical with her. She needed Tobin to see that she wasn’t going to break. That she was fine. That going easy on her was just going to hurt her come this weekend.
“Yeah. That was a good shot,” Tobin nodded, pulling the ball out of the goal with her foot.
Christen got into a defensive stance as Tobin started to dribble at her. She kept Tobin in front of her and didn’t tear her eyes away from the ball. She kept her hand raised in the air between them, occasionally pushing Tobin’s arm or against her shoulder, trying to get Tobin to go 100%.
As much as Tobin wanted to shove back, as much as she wanted to play the way Christen wanted her to, there was a part of her that couldn’t quite forget the way Christen had crumpled onto the field. There was a part of her mind that could still hear the way Christen and the other players’ heads had sounded when they’d made impact.
Tobin did some fancy footwork to move around Christen’s body without touching her, avoiding contact, the crack of Christen’s head against the USC players’ heads echoing through her mind.
After Tobin had pulled away from any contact for the fourth time, Christen had had enough. She reached out and grabbed a handful of Tobin’s practice shirt, dropping her shoulder and stepping into Tobin, trying to tackle the ball away. She pushed and pushed, waiting for Tobin to match her pace. But when Tobin didn’t, Christen felt a small bit of frustration flare within her.
“Babe, come on!” Christen growled, poking the ball away from Tobin and shoving her, hard.
Normally, Christen’s shove wouldn’t have knocked Tobin off balance, but it had been perfectly timed. Tobin was just starting to turn, her weight mostly on one leg, so when Christen shoved, she couldn’t catch herself. Tobin fell backward onto the field, knocking the wind out of her chest a little and making her gasp for air.
Regret bloomed in Christen’s chest immediately. Instead of taking off after the ball like she’d planned to, she stopped, letting her shoulders drop.
“Are you okay? I’m sorry,” Christen said gently, holding out her hand for Tobin to take.
Tobin narrowed her eyes, pushing herself off the ground and ignoring Christen’s hand. She took off at a sprint, seeing the ball on the field behind Christen.
Christen felt her brow arch at the sudden shift in Tobin, a smile threatening to break out across her face if she’d had the time. But she didn’t, not with Tobin headed for the ball and her open net. So, she quickly ran after Tobin, catching up to her almost immediately and getting to the ball first.
Tobin shoved her elbow into Christen’s side, annoyed and frustrated, her competitive side winning out over her concern. She gave Christen a soft push before moving her foot in front of Christen’s and swiping the ball away, running full speed toward the goal and sinking it into the net.
“Happy?” Tobin asked.
Christen smirked, her hands on her hips. “Very. One apiece,” Christen replied, jogging to her goal to retrieve the ball, but not before tapping Tobin on the ass softly as she ran by her.
They continued to battle, errant elbows and cleats and shoves making the 1v1s far scrappier and more physical than usual. But Christen didn’t care that she was getting a little tired and that she might have a few bruises later. Tobin was finally treating her like a competitor, and was finally playing against her at full speed. Tobin was no longer treating her like she was breakable, like she was made of glass. And Christen was joyous.
“I get to go first,” Tobin sing-songed after sinking the ball into Christen’s goal for the fifth time.
Christen couldn’t even be upset about it. She’d competed hard, defended well, and ended the game with no headache or any return of her other symptoms. She felt like she was flying. Christen threw her arms around Tobin’s shoulders, pulling her in for a tight, sweaty hug. “Thank you,” Christen hummed, dropping a kiss to Tobin’s neck.
“Can we start in the shower?” Tobin mumbled, squeezing Christen back.
“So long as I get to finish it in bed,” Christen replied against Tobin’s skin.
“We have a few hours. We can get a few rounds in,” Tobin smirked, moving out of Christen’s arms and picking up the goals.
Christen felt her eyes flutter shut, her head falling to rest against the wall of the shower. Yeah, she definitely wasn’t upset about losing the 1v1s.
“So, you’re gonna kick Mal out of my room?” Tobin mumbled, lifting one of Christen’s legs and placing it over her shoulder.
“Don’t-” Christen blew out a long breath, her fingers tightening in Tobin’s wet hair. “Don’t talk about our kid when you’re between my legs. I won’t be able to look her in the eye later.”
Tobin smirked, placing a kiss on the inside Christen’s upper thigh. “I was just curious. I’d love to share a room with you instead,” Tobin sighed, brushing her lips higher up Christen’s leg.
“Good thing I asked for a trade then,” Christen husked, her hips lifting off the wall, a silent plea for Tobin to stop teasing and stop being patient.
“What did you say to get her to move rooms?” Tobin teased, pressing a kiss right between Christen’s legs, right where she wanted her.
Christen let out a strangled gasp, her eyes opening so she could glare down at Tobin. “Does it matter?” Christen replied breathlessly.
“I don’t know,” Tobin shrugged. She ran her tongue lazily along Christen’s inner thighs, moving higher and higher. “I guess I just wondered if you told her why you wanted to room with me. Did you tell her you need sex before games for luck?” Tobin teased.
Christen scrunched her eyes shut, feeling a shiver run through her at the heat hanging on every word that left Tobin’s lips. She pulled roughly on the back of Tobin’s head, trying to bring her mouth higher, right where Christen needed her.
But Tobin just kept her mouth on Christen’s thighs, sucking gently until reddish, purple splotches appeared. She wanted to hear Christen. She wanted her to be loud. She wanted to keep Christen talking as much as she possibly could.
“If I tell you, will it get you to stop fucking around?” Christen growled when Tobin’s tongue moved away from where she wanted her, again.
“I’m definitely not fucking around,” Tobin husked, gripping Christen’s waist tightly and brushing her tongue a little higher.
Christen let out another growl. “You should be! Baby, would you just-”
Tobin interrupted Christen, finally running her tongue slowly between Christen’s legs, just where Christen wanted her. She groaned quietly, loving the taste, no matter how many times she did this. Tobin pushed Christen’s hips back against the shower wall, her tongue lapping a little harder with each of Christen’s moans, with the way that Christen’s fingers were tightening in her hair.
Christen was embarrassingly close. There was just something about the way Tobin was touching her now that had been missing. Even if they’d done this a few times since Thanksgiving, in the shower, in bed, once in the kitchen really late at night, it had been gentle and delicate. Not unlike how Tobin had been treating her on the field. But right now, with purposeful hands and a dedicated tongue, Tobin was bringing her to the edge with a strength that Christen had missed desperately.
“Don’t stop,” Christen husked, her tongue darting out to wet her lips as her chest rose and fell quickly, her breaths coming out in quick pants.
Tobin ran her tongue in small circles, letting Christen’s hand tangled in her hair hold her right where she needed her. She scraped her fingernails along Christen’s waist and down her hips. Her jaw was starting to feel tight, but she pushed her tongue to move even faster, spurred on by Christen’s gasps and the way she begged her to keep going.
Christen felt words of encouragement, of pleasure, slip from her lips and she was unable to stop them. With every swipe of Tobin’s tongue, with the delicate touch of her hands, Christen was sent closer and closer to the edge. When she finally tumbled over it, Tobin’s name and a filthy moan left her lips one after the other.
Tobin licked and tasted even after Christen had started twitching against her hands and jerking up to her mouth. She didn’t want to move, loving being between Christen’s legs. When Christen finally reached down and grabbed Tobin’s jaw in her hands, Tobin rested her forehead against Christen’s stomach and wrapped her arms around Christen’s waist.
“I told her that we’d take her out for ice cream if she switched with me,” Christen panted, her breathing still a little erratic as she came down from her high.
“She probably knows why you wanted to switch,” Tobin mumbled, smiling against Christen’s skin. “But ice cream sounds good to me too.”
“Oh, she knows. I told her,” Christen chuckled, looking down at Tobin, her green eyes twinkling.
“You told our kid that?!” Tobin gasped, looking up at Christen.
Christen shrugged with a smile and ran a hand through her hair, her breathing finally returning to normal. “I couldn’t lie. She asked me point-blank!”
Tobin kissed Christen’s stomach, finally lifting up off the shower floor. “She’s growing up too fast, asking those kinds of questions,” Tobin mumbled before kissing Christen’s cheek.
Christen wrapped an arm around Tobin’s waist, her right hand falling low on Tobin’s stomach. She ran her fingers across the warm skin, her breath ghosting across Tobin’s ear.
“Can we worry about this later?” Christen hummed, her fingertips dipping below Tobin’s waist.
“Anything you want,” Tobin breathed out.
“But what do you want?” Christen replied, her hand stilling.
“You,” Tobin husked, swallowing thickly, her eyes fluttering shut.
Christen smirked and ran two fingers between Tobin’s legs, loving the way Tobin’s hips twitched and her breathing stuttered.
“How many?” Christen whispered, ghosting her lips across Tobin’s jaw, nipping gently.
“Two,” Tobin choked out. “For now.”
Christen was quick to oblige, shouldering most of Tobin’s weight as she slid two fingers inside of Tobin, ready to make her come apart.
“How are you late ?” Crystal hissed, her arms crossed over her chest as she shook her head. She watched Tobin and Christen rush up to the bus, pulling their roller bags behind them. At the matching blushes and grins on their faces, she was glad she didn’t ask why they were late.
“Well, it all started when Chris-” Tobin started, her grin growing bigger.
“We’re sorry, Crystal! We made it on time, though,” Christen replied, elbowing Tobin lightly as they came to a stop outside the bus.
“On time is late, captains,” Foudy called from inside the bus. “Let’s go! We got a plane to catch!”
Tobin tossed their roller bags under the bus and followed Christen to their row at the back of the bus, her hair still a little damp from their shower that ended up lasting hours. They’d barely had time to pack, let alone do their hair. Christen’s was thrown up in a wet bun and hers was definitely not brushed.
Christen dropped into the window seat and started digging around in her bag. Finding what she was looking for, she held it up in Tobin’s direction, a question in her eyes.
“Are you telling me I need to brush my hair because I look like I just had sex?” Tobin laughed quietly.
“I’m offering to do it for you, because I’m the reason we’re late,” Christen replied with a sweet smile.
Tobin turned around in her seat, never one to turn down a moment like this one, a moment where Christen would love her and care for her. Tobin loved when people played with her hair. ARod and Lauren had done it after rough games at Penn State, and Allie Long had done it during every youth camp they’d done together any time Tobin felt homesick. No one was quite as comforting as Christen Press, though.
“Better keep those moans to yourself, people might get the wrong idea about what we’re doing back here,” Christen teased, running the brush through Tobin’s hair gently.
“Mmmhmm,” Tobin mumbled, closing her eyes and leaning back into Christen’s touch.
After a few moments of silence, Christen let out a small sigh. “Foudy said I might get minutes on Friday,” she whispered, untangling a small knot from Tobin’s hair with her hands before resuming her brushing.
“She’d be crazy not to let you play,” Tobin mumbled. “You’re the best goal scorer we have.”
“I don’t know...I just came back. I don’t want to do more harm than good, you know?” Christen replied.
Tobin turned around in her seat, facing Christen and her worried expression. “There is absolutely no way you’ll do any harm. You’re an amazing player, and you’ve been doing a great job at practice, since Alicia cleared you for contact. I want you on the field with me, and it isn’t because you’re my girlfriend,” Tobin said, reaching out for Christen’s hand.
Christen tangled her fingers with Tobin’s, a small smile creeping onto her face. “I’ve really missed being on the field with you,” she said quietly.
“Me too. Don’t tell anyone else, but no one reads my mind like you do on the field. And I’m never as confident passing to them as I am you,” Tobin whispered, aware that Megan was sitting right in front of them.
Conscious that they were in a team space, Christen held back the urge to kiss Tobin. Instead, she tightened her hold on Tobin’s hand and leaned just a little bit closer.
“Your secret’s safe with me,” Christen hummed with a wink.
“I call the bed by the window!” Tobin yelled, running into the hotel room and throwing her backpack on the ground.
Christen chuckled, closing the hotel room door behind her gently and then making her way into the room. She dropped her backpack on the bed closest to the door and parked her roller at the foot of it.
“Why do you need to call it if we’re sharing?” Christen teased.
“Just wanted to make you smile,” Tobin sighed, flopping down onto the bed and lying on her back, travel exhaustion getting to her a little already.
Christen collapsed near Tobin onto the bed on her stomach, propping her head up on her crossed arms so she could look over at her girlfriend.
“Are you excited to be back in New Jersey? I heard Coach talk about getting bagels tomorrow,” Christen said, smiling a bit at the way Tobin’s eyes were shut.
“I’m definitely excited about the bagels,” Tobin mumbled. “My youth coach is coming to the game too, which is kind of adorable.”
“That’s really cool, babe,” Christen replied, lifting her leg slightly so she could wrap her foot around Tobin’s, wanting a bit of contact.
Tobin hummed happily at the feeling of Christen moving closer, of making sure there were multiple points of contact between them. She loved how touchy Christen was, how no matter where they were or what they were doing, Christen would find a small way to touch her. A hand on the back, a brush of fingertips across her arm, a quick squeeze of her knee beneath the table. She loved that Christen wanted to always be closer, to always be near, because she felt the exact same way.
“You really like me,” Tobin whispered, opening her eyes and turning her head to look at Christen.
“Do I detect a tone of surprise?” Christen asked, her eyebrows furrowing.
“I’m not surprised, but sometimes it’s overwhelming. In a good way,” Tobin mumbled, reaching out and pulling Christen even closer, nearly on top of her.
“In that case, yes I do really like you,” Christen whispered, leaning over to kiss Tobin’s forehead. “And I love you. So, best of both worlds!”
“I feel like a kid before Christmas,” Tobin admitted, a blush rising up her neck. “I’m dying to play and win this tournament, but I also don’t want it to start because then it’ll end.”
Christen nodded, feeling the exact same way, feeling like the magic of the moment was upon them. She simultaneously wanted it to be here and for it to never come.
“We might not ever play together again after this weekend,” Christen said quietly.
“That’s not true,” Tobin frowned, her eyebrows scrunching together. “We miiiight get drafted to the same place. We’ll definitely have the national team. You’ll force me to play 1v1s forever, and-” Tobin cut herself off, looking up to the ceiling.
Christen lifted up slightly, looking down at Tobin. She tilted her head to the side, her eyes narrowed in curiosity.
“Nothing,” Tobin shook her head.
“No, tell me!” Christen chuckled.
“I forgot,” Tobin shrugged.
“Baby,” Christen hummed, scooting impossibly closer. “Please?”
“I mean…” Tobin sighed, rubbing her hand over her face. “You know I’ll probably need help teaching Cole or something like that,” Tobin deflected, hoping that Christen would let it go. “So we’ll play together when we play with him.”
Based on Tobin’s words and that slightly embarrassed look on her face, Christen was suddenly brought back to last year, to the movie theater they’d gone to between the semifinals and the finals. She remembered how Tobin had said to save the nickname, Lieutenant Trouble, for...a kid. Tobin had tried to deflect and say she was talking about Mal, but Christen knew Tobin wasn’t. Tobin was talking about a different kid, maybe even their kid. Last year, Christen didn’t have the gall to ask, still feeling like things were so new between them. But now they felt solid, sure and safe. It felt like she could ask this.
“What is it about coming to the Final Four that has your mind jumping to kids?” Christen wondered, uncrossing her arms so she could reach out and push some baby hairs away from Tobin’s forehead.
“Um, Cole’s a cool kid. It doesn’t have to be the Final Four for me to know that,” Tobin defended, her cheeks impossibly flushed now. She hadn’t meant to jump to the future, especially not that far. She never actually meant to say things like that, knowing it was way too soon, but it had slipped out. She loved kids, and she loved Christen, and she knew that she’d love a future in which she and Christen shared that part of life. At twenty-two, though, Tobin didn’t need to be talking about it.
“Are you sure we’re talking about Cole?” Christen hummed, gently nudging Tobin to be honest.
“We can if you want to be,” Tobin said, her jaw clenching a little bit.
“What if I don’t want to be?” Christen asked softly, gently pulling on Tobin’s cheek so that Tobin would turn to look at her.
“Then...I’d be honest and say that maybe I wasn’t talking about Cole, although he should also learn about the greatest sport on Earth,” Tobin admitted, her mouth twitching up into a slight smile.
“Sounds like our someday is going to be a little crowded. Like it won’t be just you and me,” Christen replied with a sweet, hopeful smile.
Christen couldn’t deny that the thought sent butterflies fluttering through her stomach. The thought of one day having a family with Tobin Heath was enough to make her thankful she was already horizontal. If she had been standing up, she would have gone weak at the knees.
“It’ll be just you and me for a long time,” Tobin mumbled, feeling embarrassed, knowing that she was blushing a deep, dark shade of red again.
Christen laughed, leaning over to kiss Tobin’s blushing cheeks. “A long, long while. But you don’t have to be shy about this, Tobs,” Christen whispered, leaning back to smile down at Tobin.
“Okay, cool,” Tobin groaned, pulling a pillow to cover her face.
“Oh my goodness,” Christen chuckled, grabbing the pillow and throwing it back toward the headboard. “Why are you so embarrassed?”
Tobin shrugged, burrowing into Christen as much as she could. “Because that’s a serious thing to say, and I’m a twenty-two-year-old child.”
“You’re a twenty-two-year-old woman,” Christen corrected, wrapping an arm around Tobin’s back. “And serious is kind of our brand now, babe. I plan on loving you forever, and forever to me includes more than just us. It includes a family living in a cute little house with a big enough backyard for a goal, and a huge kitchen inside that we never use because we order take out all the time.”
“We’ll use the kitchen,” Tobin argued, a huge smirk sliding onto her face. “We used our current one three nights ago.”
Christen grinned, pressing her lips to Tobin’s forehead. “We’ll definitely get the most out of it.”
“I’m gonna learn to cook,” Tobin said, a determined look on her face.
“I’m going to attempt to learn, probably fail, and then support your successful path to chef-dom,” Christen teased, her eyes crinkling.
“When I’m no longer at UCLA or at home with my parents, I’ll be forced to feed myself,” Tobin grumbled. “And through that adversity, I’ll grow.”
“God, you’re cute,” Christen sighed happily, a small smile making its way onto her face. “And I’m happy the thought of adding more cuteness to the mix doesn’t make you want to bolt or something.”
“Did you think I’d bolt over kids?” Tobin asked, raising her eyebrows at Christen. “You have seen me as Auntie Toto, haven’t you?”
“Loving kids and wanting kids are two very different things,” Christen reasoned with a shrug.
“And you want them,” Tobin said, not really needing to ask the question, but just making sure.
Christen felt a dopey smile tug at her lips as she looked down at Tobin, as images of a future with kids flashed through her mind. It was years away, maybe more than a decade away, but it still warmed her heart to think of someday.
“I do,” Christen nodded. “I want a lot of kids.”
“You’re not about to say like a Cheaper by the Dozen amount, right? Because I also think it would be cool to have an entire soccer team, but that seems really expensive,” Tobin teased.
Christen chuckled and shook her head. “I draw the line at five,” she replied.
“Really, the maximum is four plus Mal,” Tobin grinned.
Christen leaned down and pressed her lips against Tobin’s. “Sounds great to me, baby,” she hummed into the kiss, letting her hands wander as she rolled more fully on top of Tobin.
“Wow, the shower didn’t tire you out,” Tobin mumbled, pulling Christen flush against her own body.
“Not a chance,” Christen husked.
“Good thing we have an hour until dinner,” Tobin whispered, rolling over so that she was on top of Christen.
Christen dropped her head into her hands as she watched the second goal hit the back of the net, Alyssa unable to do anything about the expert finish from the UNC forward. But instead of letting herself get too down about it, Christen ran her hands across her hair and then jumped to her feet.
“That’s all right, Blue! Keep your heads up! Hard next five!” Christen yelled from the sidelines, clapping her hands at her teammates on the field, trying to keep morale up. But it was hard to do when they were already down 2-0 against UNC with only five minutes left in the first half.
Christen stayed on her feet, bundled up in her puffy coat and game sweats, anxiously watching as Sam walked the ball up to the halfway line for kick-off. She looked across the field at Tobin, noting the way her shoulders were slightly slumped.
“Tobs!” she called out, knowing that the younger players were looking to Tobin and the last thing they needed to see was Tobin beating herself up over anything or being down about the current score.
Tobin jerked her head up, finding Christen on the sidelines. She offered a tight smile to her girlfriend, knowing that she wasn’t playing her best. The entire team felt off. Rose’s passes to Tobin had either been too soft, or Tobin wasn’t running fast enough to connect. Her shots on goal hadn’t been driven enough, and UNC’s defense was on top of their game, constantly cutting her off or stripping her of the ball. It was infuriating and a little embarrassing, and Tobin knew that her frustration was affecting other people on her team.
Christen read the tension in Tobin’s frame and the glint of exasperation in her brown eyes. So, she held the sign language sign for ‘I love you’ up in the air and smiled at Tobin softly. She held it up long enough for Tobin to see it, but hopefully not long enough to be caught on camera. She then clapped her hands and winked, trying to get Tobin to relax, to play her game, to have fun.
Tobin couldn’t stop the air that slipped from her lips, leaving puffs of cloudy, cold water vapor in the air around her head. She hadn’t even realized that she was tensing up and holding her breath. She hadn’t realized that she needed to let herself relax. She shot Christen a bigger smile and jogged toward the halfway line for kick-off.
Giving Tobin one last smile, Christen looked to Megan and Crystal, to Kelley and Mal. “Here we go Bruins!” Christen cheered again, watching as Sam kicked the ball off.
Tobin watched as Kelley trapped the ball and passed it to Rose, moving along the field to better place herself for any possible passes. Rose dodged and weaved, moving through UNC’s players as gracefully as she always did. She chipped the ball over a player, sending it to Mal, and Tobin sprinted to keep up with Mal’s movement up the field. Tobin was almost certain that Mal was going to try to take a shot on goal, but a UNC defender came up on her right, and Mal passed the ball to Tobin.
Tobin could see three UNC players coming toward her. She knew that she had a very limited amount of time to take a shot on goal. She was about 12 yards away from goal, and she didn’t want to waste any time, not this close to halftime. Tobin sent a bending, rocket of a shot into the top of the goal with one touch. The UNC goalkeeper couldn’t get off her feet fast enough to stop it.
When the ball hit the net, Tobin pumped her fists at her sides right as Mal threw herself on top of Tobin, screaming in her ear.
“YES, BABE!” Christen yelled, jumping up and down on the sidelines. She wrapped her arms around her fellow teammates who had also stood up to celebrate the goal.
Tobin dropped Mal to the ground, bypassing all of her other teammates on her way to the sidelines. She wrapped her arms around Christen, lifting her off the ground for a second. “Thank you,” she mumbled quietly.
“Always,” Christen replied, squeezing Tobin tightly.
“Back in the game, Heath,” Foudy, grinned, clapping her hands for her players on the field. “Nicely done, Mal!”
Christen winked at Tobin as her girlfriend headed back to the field, her confidence and swagger back. With a smile, Christen dropped back down onto the bench, feeling confident about the way this game was going to go now.
Tobin and her teammates pushed their way up the field toward UNC’s goal a few more times, UNC’s defenders pushing them right back each time. By halftime, Tobin was dripping with sweat, her lungs were sore from the cold air, and her frustration levels were rising a bit more. It only got worse when the second half started, and it seemed like UNC had gotten a second wind during their halftime.
Tobin shoved against UNC players, stripping them of the ball and losing it the next minute. Mal was exhausted, not having played this long or this serious a competitor in her entire college career. Tobin felt like her words of support were only going so far. In the 55th minute, Tobin let out a sigh of relief, seeing Christen start to warm up on the sidelines. She kept UNC from scoring, stealing the ball every chance she could, her energy renewing at the possibility of playing with Christen again. She wanted to give Christen the best possible chance at scoring in her first game back with the team, and she wanted to get UCLA to the finals.
Christen ran through a few, final stretches, bouncing on her toes on the sideline next to the fourth official. She could feel a slight flutter of nerves in her stomach, so she leaned her head back and closed her eyes for a moment. She thought about how hard she’d worked to get back here, the extra sessions, and the early morning fitness. She thought about how much she’d wanted to get back on the field right after getting hurt, and now her chance was here. The final thing she thought about was how grateful she was to get the chance to play again, to play with Tobin again.
When she heard the referee’s whistle blow, Christen opened her eyes and looked out at the field.
“Mal!” she called out, gesturing with her gloved hand for Mal to sub out.
“Thank god!” Mal gasped, high-fiving Christen and grinning softly.
“Great work, kid,” Christen smiled. “Proud of you.”
“Thanks, Mom! Have fun!” Mal teased.
Christen laughed and sprinted out onto the field, pushing Megan into the center forward spot so she could stay on the right. She looked across the field at Tobin and winked, rubbing her hands together to keep warm in the chilly New Jersey evening air.
“Welcome back,” Megan smirked.
“Let’s kick some Tar Heel ass,” Christen replied. She watched as Alyssa sent a goal kick far up the field, Tobin challenging for the header. She watched as Tobin managed to flick it to Megan, who brought it down and played it back to Rose.
Christen pulled away from her defender, curling her run and holding her arm out, signaling for the ball.
“Rosie!” Christen yelled, gesturing at the acres of space behind the Tar Heel defense.
Rose looked up, saw what Christen wanted, and sent a long ball over the top of the UNC backline. Christen took off, her legs moving faster than she ever remembered them moving. It was as if she’d found a new level, after spending time away. She quickly caught up with the ball near the edge of the eighteen-yard box and drove at the goal. She knew the angle wasn’t the best, but she needed the confidence this shot would bring her.
Christen struck the ball well, sending a cracking shot to the near post. The goalkeeper managed to scramble and make the save, sending the ball out for a corner kick. Christen smiled as she turned around, holding a thumbs up for Rose for sending such a great ball in behind.
For the next twenty minutes, Christen continued to make dangerous runs in behind. She also tracked back into the midfield to collect passes and distribute balls to Tobin and Megan. When needed, she helped out on defense, her energy never dropping for a single second. It felt too good to be back on the field to worry about the fact that she was growing a little tired.
And then in the 83rd minute, Christen received a ball at half field from Crystal. She sent a no-look pass to Tobin and then spun around, taking off up the field.
Tobin had been watching Christen closely, not just because she seemed to always have the ball but also because she was still feeling a teeny tiny bit protective. She knew Christen wanted a goal. She could see the determination in Christen’s eyes, the intense way she was sprinting after the ball.
Tobin dribbled toward UNC’s goal, dodging UNC’s players, even megging one of them who had been annoying her all night. She sent a perfect cross to Christen and watched as her girlfriend sent a deadly shot toward the goal.
Christen volleyed Tobin’s perfect cross into the upper ninety, watching the ball hit the back of the net with a large smile on her face. She threw her arms out to her sides and spun around, headed right for Tobin.
“GOOOOOAAAAALLLL!!!” Tobin couldn’t help but scream, racing to Christen and wrapping her arms around her waist. “That was beautiful!”
Christen laughed and pulled Tobin close. “I really freaking love you,” Christen mumbled, overcome with so many emotions all at once, but the forefront in her mind was everything she felt for Tobin.
“I really freaking love you,” Tobin replied, pressing her lips as inconspicuously as she could against Christen’s neck. Tobin spun her around in a circle until Megan’s arms wrapped around them both, followed closely by Sam and Rose.
Thanks to their tying goal, the game went into sudden-death overtime. It was a pretty even contest through the first ten minutes, with good opportunities and heroic defending from both teams. But in the second overtime, with just three minutes to play, UCLA got a free kick in the attacking third of the field. Crystal lined up to take it, sending Sam, Rose, Tobin, Megan, and Christen into the box.
Christen stood on the far edge of the eighteen-yard box, knowing exactly where Crystal was going to hit it. They had practiced this in training this week, and she was ready to play her part. She shared a quick look with Tobin before Crystal struck the ball, infusing her smile and nod with as much confidence as she could.
Crystal sent a driven ball toward the back post, right where Christen was lined up. Christen tracked the ball, shoving down any worries or fears, and launched herself into the air. She headed the ball back across the face of goal, hoping Tobin was where she needed to be.
Tobin pushed away any thoughts she’d immediately had about the USC game. She watched Christen closely, her heart beating rapidly as Christen jumped up for the header, and without thought, she followed the ball with her eyes and jumped up from the ground, sending the ball into the back of the net with a header of her own.
Christen felt her heart soar when the ball hit the net. She immediately crossed the few yards separating her from Tobin and jumped into her arms, sending them crashing down to the grass.
“TOBS! YES! YOU DID IT!” Christen yelled, holding Tobin’s face between her hands.
“YOU DID IT TOO! HEADER AND ALL!” Tobin grinned, holding herself back from kissing Christen in front of everyone and their mother on the field and in the stands.
The rest of their team quickly joined the dogpile, but all Tobin and Christen could do was smile at each other, relishing in the victory and in the moment.
“Now that is the right way to celebrate a semi-final win,” Christen gasped, pushing her hair away from her face as she sucked air back into her lungs.
“Mhm,” Tobin groaned. She took her two fingers into her mouth and tasted Christen on them, her eyes fluttering closed.
“Way better than sneaking around in pool areas,” Christen grinned, her eyes darkening at the way Tobin was licking her fingers clean.
“That was a pretty special pool, though,” Tobin mumbled, running her nose against Christen’s.
Christen blushed at the memory. She trailed her fingertips up Tobin’s bare sides, her mind thinking back on the events of a year ago. “I can’t believe I blurted it out in that stupid pool area, how unromantic,” she giggled, scrunching her nose up at the thought.
“It was pretty romantic to me,” Tobin whispered. “I’d been dreaming about you saying those words for months.”
Christen melted, leaning up to kiss Tobin soundly. “I love you,” she mumbled, her hands moving higher and higher up Tobin’s sides, her fingertips ghosting up toward the swell of Tobin’s breasts.
“See, they still make my heart beat crazy fast,” Tobin hummed, pulling one of Christen’s hands further up her chest to feel her heartbeat.
“I was aiming for you boob, but this is a nice consolation prize,” Christen winked, loving the way she could feel Tobin’s heart racing beneath her warm skin.
Tobin let out a loud laugh, flopping down next to Christen in bed and throwing a leg over Christen’s hips. “You were really amazing out there today,” Tobin sighed.
Christen shrugged off Tobin’s compliment, her hand tracing mindless patterns along Tobin’s leg that was thrown over her hips.
“I’m just happy I could make a difference. There are plenty of things I wished I’d done differently, but I’m happy with the result,” Christen hummed, turning her head to look over at Tobin.
“Do you ever stop criticizing yourself?” Tobin asked, lifting up on one hand. “You played a great fucking game. You equalized a game that I was certain we were gonna lose at halftime.”
Christen’s eyes danced between Tobin’s. “I just think I’m always chasing a better performance. But I’m getting better at making peace with my mistakes and focusing on trying my hardest instead of dwelling on achieving the perfect game,” she replied quietly.
“You have fun, though, right?” Tobin asked, leaning down to kiss Christen’s collarbone.
“I do now. I do with you. I had so much fun tonight,” Christen grinned, remembering how it felt to be on the field, how it felt with the ball at her feet, how it felt to score and then to assist Tobin’s goal. Sure, she’d made some poor passes and had bad touches, but all of that paled in comparison to how it felt to play with Tobin again.
“I have fun with you too,” Tobin yawned, positioning her head in the crook of Christen’s neck. “You think you’re going to have fun playing against me next year?”
Christen sighed, turning to press a kiss against the top of Tobin’s head. “I don’t want to think about not being with you. At least for the night. I wish we could stay like this forever,” Christen whispered.
“Baby, I’m going to take you out after games and then take you home for... this, even if we’re on different teams,” Tobin assured her. “But we don’t have to talk about that tonight, you’re right.”
“I think I’d just like to pretend for a little while that I’ll never have to say goodbye to you again.”
“It’ll never be a goodbye,” Tobin mumbled, kissing Christen’s neck. “Maybe, a see you later. I’ll call you tonight. Phone sex at 7:00? Vacation in L.A. soon?”
Christen chuckled and pulled Tobin closer. “You always make me feel like no matter what happens, no matter what could come our way, we’re going to be fine.”
“That’s because I firmly believe we will. I’m not letting you go,” Tobin whispered.
“Same. We’re stuck together, Tobs. Like glue or really strong velcro,” Christen murmured, rolling over just a bit so that Tobin was now on her back. Christen hovered above Tobin now, ready to unpause the activities they’d been engaged in a few minutes ago.
“Cement?” Tobin offered, her eyes darkening with Christen’s new position above her.
“You’re so cute,” Christen grinned, leaning down to connect their lips in a searing kiss. She let her hand wander between Tobin’s legs, her touch light and teasing. “Want to know the best part about scoring two goals?” Christen mumbled against Tobin’s lips, her fingertips ghosting along Tobin’s inner thighs. She leaned back for a moment, looking down at Tobin as she waited for an answer.
“What’s that?” Tobin husked, swallowing thickly and training her eyes on Christen’s.
“You get to come twice in a row,” Christen smirked.
“I hope I can walk tomorrow,” Tobin mumbled, kissing Christen quickly, her hand tangling in soft curls at the base of Christen’s neck.
“I’ll be gentle,” Christen winked, her fingertips dipping between Tobin’s legs as she reconnected their lips.
“I could’ve sworn I heard someone having the best sex of their lives last night,” Kelley said, shoving a bagel in her mouth and smirking at Christen and Tobin from across the table.
“LALALALALALALALALALA,” Mal started to sing, covering her ears.
Christen silently flipped Kelley off, taking a long sip of her coffee, feeling the heaviness behind her eyes from the minimal amount of sleep they’d gotten last night receding with the caffeine.
“It’s a good thing today’s a recovery day,” Crystal hummed, glancing at Christen. “You look exhausted.”
“You two are going to need lots of recovery,” Kelley teased. “Especially from that hickey, you got on your neck, Tobito!”
“Crystal, Pinoe, have Chris and I ever told you about that time we came home early from that party at Tom’s, no Tony’s, or whatever the hell his name is, and found-” Tobin grinned.
“Heath,” Kelley growled.
“Stop bugging us, Kel, or it all comes out,” Christen said with a small smile, taking another large sip of coffee. She looked over at Tobin, noting the purple-ish mark on her collarbone. “You probably shouldn’t have worn a tank-top to breakfast, babe,” she added.
“I didn’t want to be late for bagels. It was the first shirt I grabbed,” Tobin shrugged. “As long as Foudy doesn’t see it, it’s fine.”
“Goooood morning, team!” Coach Foudy greeted, walking into the breakfast room.
“Shit. Fuck,” Tobin grumbled, pulling her hair out of its ponytail and letting it cover her shoulders. Christen chuckled and laid her hand on Tobin’s thigh beneath the breakfast table.
“I have some exciting news to share. After our walk-through in preparation for our game against Florida State tomorrow, we’re going...mini-golfing!” Foudy announced.
“YES!” Kelley yelled, standing up from the table. “THIS IS MY TIME TO SHINE!”
Christen bit back a groan. She was not good at any kind of golfing, mini or otherwise. She tried to hide her displeasure in another sip of coffee, but her tablemates had already caught her reaction.
“Oh come on, Pressy,” Kelley winked, lowering her voice and leaning across the table. “You can get it in the right hole, Tobito here can vouch for that.”
“That’s it, I’m moving tables,” Tobin groaned, picking up her bagel and coffee and finding Alyssa across the room.
“You’re leaving me with her?!” Christen hissed, reaching out to grab onto the bottom of Tobin’s shorts.
“You can come. Alyssa doesn’t bite,” Tobin said.
“Wear your puffys, it’s chilly out there. Bus leaves in an hour for the walk-through!” Foudy announced before turning on her heel and leaving the breakfast room.
Christen waited until Foudy left before leveling Kelley with a glare. “Kel had her girl over for some panty-less roleplay during the party at Tony’s.”
“Did you walk in on it?” Megan gasped, scooting her chair away from Kelley.
“We interrupted it,” Tobin smirked. “Kelley has sex in boxers that have flamingos all over them.”
“Flamingos? Really K.O.? Even I know that’s lame,” Mal teased.
“I actually hate all of you, and I’m leaving,” Kelley announced, grabbing her bagel and getting up from the table.
“Can we meet her sometime?” Crystal called after Kelley.
“Absolutely not!” Kelley yelled back, earning her laughter from her friends and roommates.
“Ooooh, we’ve got the pink putters!” Mal cheered, passing one to Christen.
“Lucky us!” Christen grinned, taking the putter from Mal and then grabbing a scorecard and one of those unnecessarily small pencils to keep score.
“Do you have longer putters?” Sam asked, leaning over the desk to talk to the employee at Mason’s Mini-Golfing Maze.
“Big & Tall putters are by request only,” the employee said. “And they’re all out today.”
“Sucks to suck, Sammylicious,” Kelley laughed. “You all are going down! I grew up in a golf community.”
“Yeah, and how often did you golf?” Tobin asked, rolling her eyes and picking up two green putters.
“Riding around in a golf cart doesn’t count!” Megan jeered, throwing her arm around Kelley and dragging her toward the third hole where they would be starting.
“Tobin and Sam, you’re gonna play alongside us, right?” Mal asked, holding her putter over her shoulder.
“Don’t you mean to ask them if they’re ready to lose to us?” Christen teased, bumping her hip against Mal’s.
“Oh right! You’re going down!” Mal said, glaring at both of them.
Christen winked at Tobin and stuck out her tongue a little before turning on her heel and walking Mal over to the first hole.
“Samantha, I would like to win,” Tobin said, following behind Christen.
“Tobin, I would like to admit to the fact that I’ve never done this before,” Sam grimaced.
“Well, shit,” Tobin sighed. “Let’s do our best.”
“Your best ain’t shit!” Mal yelled, cackling a bit as she grinned at Tobin.
“Really?” Tobin asked, raising her eyebrows. “I expected that from Chris, but not you Mallory.”
“I’ve taught her well,” Christen replied with a smile. “Go show ‘em, Mal.”
Mal strutted up to the tee. She put her bright pink ball down on the marker, lined up, and hit the ball firmly. It rolled across the fake turf, avoiding the pinwheels that would spin it around. It bounced off the wall and rolled right toward the hole. The sound of the ball sinking into the hole had Mal jumping up and down excitedly.
“I DID IT!” Mal yelled.
Christen laughed and high-fived Mal. “Proud of you, kid!”
“I hate it here,” Sam groaned, gripping her putter against her chest.
“You’ve got it, buddy. You’re my favorite sophomore,” Tobin said, patting Sam on the back.
“WAIT, WHAT?!” Mal protested, her lower lip jutting out in a pout.
“You were mean to me,” Tobin shrugged.
Christen put her arm around Mal’s shoulders comfortingly. “She’s just competitive. Which while very hot, isn’t very nice. Sorry, Mal.”
Sam walked up and put the green ball down, ready to do exactly what Mal had done. She swung the putter softly, watching the golf ball roll down the green turf. It hit the pinwheel, bounced off, and rolled back toward Sam, stopping only a foot away from where she’d started.
“Lovely,” Tobin nodded. “That’s okay. Try again.”
Sam stepped forward and tried again. It took her seven taps with the putter to get the ball past the pinwheel. It took four more to get it in the hole, and by that time, Tobin was sitting on the ground, feeling her jaw tighten at how smug Christen and Mal looked.
“Mal, sweetie, now look at how her jaw is clenched and her mouth is pressed into that thin little line. Tobs is getting frustrated,” Christen whispered, not quietly enough for Tobin not to hear. She couldn’t help but tease her girlfriend, knowing that the reward later would be deliciously worth it.
“Great job, Sam!” Tobin yelled when Sam’s golf ball finally went into the hole.
“Thank god that’s over!” Sam said, lifting her putter up in the air.
“There are eleven more!” Mal laughed.
Christen felt herself deflate just a little, her teasing put on hold now that it was her turn to put. “Mal you gotta carry us. I really suck at this,” she admitted quietly, walking beside Mal to the second hole.
“Ooooh look a little pond, Chris. That’ll be fun!” Tobin teased, smiling a lot bigger now that it was her turn.
“Are you kidding me?” Christen grumbled. “What happened to the kid-level hole we were just at?!”
“The pond is tiny, Christen. You can do it!” Mal cheered.
Christen gulped and toyed with her putter, walking her and Mal’s bright pink ball up to the starting point.
“That looks pretty wet, babe,” Tobin teased, leaning against her putter like it was a cane and nodding at the pond that Christen was going to have to avoid.
“Not in front of the kids, babe,” Christen threw over her shoulder, getting lined up.
“Oh, wasn’t it you who told Mal we were going to have sex in the hotel room?” Tobin shot back with a smirk.
“No no no no no,” Sam said, stepping away from Tobin and Christen and covering her ears. “I didn’t need the confirmation or the visual!”
Christen paused with her putter right next to the ball. She looked over at Tobin and narrowed her eyes.
“Really?” Christen asked, delicious irritation swirling around within her at the cocky smirk on Tobin’s face.
“She’s distracting you, Christen. Eyes on the ball!” Mal coached.
“You didn’t tell her how many times we would be doing that, did you?” Tobin continued, watching Christen’s expression change and knowing she could get her to mess up the put if she just kept talking.
“Ew, no,” Mal groaned. “Focus up, Christen!”
Christen shook her head, her mouth turned up in an attempt at an annoyed grimace but looked more like an aroused smirk. She looked away from Tobin and tried to focus on the ball.
With a pretty heavy swing, Christen sent the ball into the air. It bounced across the green carpet, hitting against the walls, before plopping directly into the pond. She hung her head in defeat and reached into her pocket for the extra ball the employee had given them.
“Cuuuute,” Tobin teased. “Your positioning could use some work, though.”
“If you go over there and show her how it’s done, I’m leaving!” Sam announced still fully facing away from Tobin, Christen, and Mal.
“They’re kind of adorable, though, right?” Mal hummed.
“Obviously,” Sam acknowledged. “But I don’t need my innocent eyes and ears getting the inside scoop on their sex lives.”
After lining up and taking a few practice swings, Christen was interrupted again.
“Hey, Christen?” Mal asked, swinging her putter softly in her hands.
“Mal?” Christen replied, looking over at her mini-golf partner.
“What’s your favorite thing about Tobin?” Mal asked.
Tobin smirked, “Yeah, Chris, what’s your favorite thing about me?”
Christen pretended to think on it, deciding to get her swing over with before answering. This time, she took a much lighter swing and sent the ball across the fake grass. It avoided divots and the pond, rolling to a stop six feet away from the hole.
With a satisfied smile, Christen turned around and looked at Tobin. Her smile turned sweet and soft and a little dopey.
“I love how safe she makes me feel,” Christen hummed, backing away from the starting point so Tobin could hit her ball now.
“That’s some cute shit right there!!” Mal cheered, leaning her head against Christen’s shoulder.
Tobin sent a soft smile toward Christen, her heart mushy now. She set her golf ball down and angled herself properly to take a swing. She wanted to make Christen laugh, so she exaggerated getting in position, licked one finger, and felt for any wind that might affect her aim.
Christen snorted and shook her head at Tobin, completely enamored by the show her girlfriend was putting on just for her.
Tobin took a soft swing, watching as her golf ball rolled down the turf, around the pond, and directly toward the hole. It spun for a second before sinking into the hole, and Tobin pumped her fist a bit at her side.
“I also love how modest and humble she is,” Christen joked.
“Ooooh, what do you dislike about her?” Mal asked, getting excited.
“Does she not have to answer about me first?” Christen replied, gesturing with her putter at Tobin.
“That’d be fair!” Sam said with a grin, clapping her hands on Tobin’s shoulders in response to her hole-in-one.
“You’re right. Tobin, what is your favorite thing about Christen?” Mal asked.
Tobin closed her eyes in thought, a few dirty thoughts going through her mind because of the mood she was in.
“I love that she loves me for me. That she makes me feel accepted and loved, no matter what,” Tobin shrugged. “Your turn.”
The four of them moved to Christen’s ball. Christen stood near her ball, her putter resting against her hip. She tapped her nose in thought as she racked her brain for something she disliked about Tobin.
“Hmmm...can’t I just list another thing I love about her?” Christen said to Mal, having trouble coming up with something.
“Nope. You have to name something you don’t like,” Mal challenged.
Christen tapped the tip of her nose again, her eyes narrowed in Tobin’s direction. “Hmm...oh!” she said, her eyes widening in surprise as she thought of something.
“Oh god,” Tobin sighed, grinning a lopsided smile at Christen.
Christen’s grin matched Tobin’s, even if hers was a bit softer. “I don’t love that she feels like she has to fight all of her battles on her own, that she puts the weight of the world on her shoulders and doesn’t let others help her. Mostly. She’s getting better at it, though.”
Tobin nodded. That was a fair thing to not like. It was something she knew Christen wished would change. Most of the time, it was something Tobin desperately wished she could change too. She didn’t like carrying everything on her own.
“Tobin’s turn!” Sam squealed. “This is fun. Forget the golf.”
Christen kept her eyes on Tobin, hopefully communicating with her look and her expression that even if she didn’t totally love that part of Tobin, there were millions of things she did love about her.
“Hmm...I got nothing,” Tobin shrugged.
“Hey! No fair!” Christen protested with a small, huff of a laugh.
Tobin smirked, knowing she’d get that response. “Hit the ball, then I’ll answer.”
Christen rolled her eyes affectionately and then positioned herself behind the ball. She looked between the obnoxiously pink ball and the hole that was a few feet away. She gently struck the ball with the putter, watching as it rolled right past the hole.
“Dang it,” Christen grumbled. She walked over to the ball and tapped it into the hole. She then turned to Tobin and arched a brow, waiting for the answer she’d now earned.
“I don’t love that you hold yourself accountable for everything. You blame yourself when the team doesn’t play well, and you blame yourself when other people are upset. I think it’s too much pressure,” Tobin said.
Christen nodded, knowing without a doubt that she did do that and that Tobin never liked it when she did. But she’d been getting better with it, with the help of Tobin.
“This got really sweet but also kinda sad, Mal. Nice going,” Sam whispered.
“I’ll tell you my favorite physical feature of hers if you wanna lighten the mood,” Christen teased, winking at Tobin.
“Is it G-rated?” Sam snorted.
“Who has fun with G-rated stuff?” Mal replied, shoving Sam’s shoulder lightly.
“You call them your moms. Don’t be weird,” Sam said, shoving Mal.
“Fine. Keep it together, Moms. Don’t make me want to bleach my brain!” Mal shuddered, looking between Christen and Tobin.
Tobin walked toward the hole and picked up Christen’s and her golf balls.
“Just to clarify, I can’t say her boobs?” Christen called over to Mal and Sam. She smirked at their horrified looks, turning to watch Tobin straighten back up after picking up the balls and walk over to her.
Tobin handed Christen the bright pink ball, her smile growing at Christen’s teasing.
“I had to,” Christen whispered. “They teed it up for me. Get it? Teed? Because we’re playing mini-golf?”
“I love you so much,” Tobin sighed.
“Feeling’s mutual, baby,” Christen winked. She reached out to squeeze Tobin’s arm as she passed, conscious that their teammates and coaches were milling about the mini-golf place.
Christen led the way over to the third hole. Before Sam could line up to take her first shot, Christen decided to give them the answer she’d promised.
“It’s her smile. That’s my favorite feature,” Christen announced, her eyes locked on Tobin, waiting to see her favorite feature make an appearance.
“Mine’s your eyes,” Tobin said, a large smile on her face, making her cheeks hurt. She reached out to lace her fingers with Christen’s, watching Sam set herself up to take a swing. “And your butt,” she whispered.
“I was serious about the boobs, too,” Christen whispered back.
“I’m obsessed with you guys,” Mal hummed dreamily. “Would you change anything about the other person?”
“I would,” Tobin nodded, answering quickly.
“Me too,” Christen replied without hesitation.
“OOOOOH drama!” Mal yelled, slapping Sam excitedly on the shoulder, their mini-golf game now completely forgotten. They both watched as Tobin and Christen swung their clasped hands between them, only having eyes for each other as they explained.
“I’d make Christen way more confident about her killer soccer skills,” Tobin said. “For some reason, she doesn’t believe that she’ll be playing professionally and on the National Team after we graduate. I don’t know who told her she wasn’t good, but they were wrong, and if I could give her a shot of confidence, I would.”
Christen swallowed the tears that threatened to fall at Tobin’s words, at the sweetness, the certainty behind them. She squeezed Tobin’s hand tighter in her own.
“I’d take away all of your insecurities. You get so worried and hung up about things you don’t need to. I’d take away everything that holds you back from being your extraordinary self. I’d take it all away in a heartbeat,” Christen said softly.
“Awwwww,” Mal and Sam cooed in unison. Sam turned to line up her shot while Mal smiled over at Tobin and Christen.
“You want to ditch golf?” Tobin whispered, wrapping her arm around Christen’s waist and pulling Christen a little closer. “We could watch a movie and cuddle.”
Christen nodded and turned to look at Mal and Sam. “You guys think you could finish this on your own?”
“Tobin, no!” Sam yelled, watching her golf ball bounce over the short wall that separated each lane.
“Runaway ball!” Megan yelled from the next lane over.
Christen chuckled and pulled Tobin away from the third hole and back toward the front. She caught sight of their equipment manager, Louis, lounging outside at a picnic table on his phone.
“Hey when’s the first van back to the hotel leaving?” Christen asked dropping Tobin’s hand to keep some semblance of professionalism in a team space.
“Five minutes. Rose and Barney want to study for their finals,” Louis replied, looking up from his phone. “You two want to study as well?”
“Do we want to go study?” Christen asked, looking over her shoulder at Tobin with a small smile on her face.
“I have a huge Art History final, so that’s probably smart,” Tobin nodded.
Christen turned back to Louis. “Yeah, we’ll go back with you guys and get some studying done.”
“This is sooooo educational,” Christen teased.
“It’s a great movie! It really teaches you about...honestly, I haven’t really been watching it. I dozed,” Tobin admitted, wrapping her arms tighter around Christen’s back and holding her to her chest.
Christen chuckled and reached out to grab the remote, shutting the TV off. She then snuggled into Tobin’s embrace, a happy sigh leaving her lips as her eyes fell shut.
“Mini golf made me all mushy today,” Tobin whispered.
“You’re always mushy, baby,” Christen replied softly.
“Mushier than usual,” Tobin sighed, rolling her eyes.
“I love it when you are,” Christen hummed, fisting her hands in the material of Tobin’s t-shirt.
“I wanted to run something by you. You can say no, though,” Tobin mumbled, pressing a kiss to the top of Christen’s head.
“Run away. I’m so relaxed right now I’d probably say yes to anything,” Christen sighed, her breathing deepening as she sank further into Tobin’s arms.
“I know you like spending your birthday at home and walking at your beach, but Allie called me the other day about New Year’s at her family’s house in Tahoe,” Tobin said, brushing Christen’s hair away from her forehead.
Christen must be a little more sleepy than she realized because she wasn’t exactly sure what those two things had to do with one another. She scrunched her nose and tilted her head to look up at Tobin, her eyes blinking open slowly.
“Okay…?” Christen mumbled, waiting for Tobin to make it make sense.
“Allie called to invite us. Sorry, that wasn’t clear,” Tobin smiled, squeezing Christen’s shoulder.
“She did? That’s so sweet of her. I miss her,” Christen replied, mirroring Tobin’s smile.
“But we can stay in L.A. for your birthday and not go or meet up with them later,” Tobin said.
“Is there a beach up there?” Christen wondered, leaning up a bit to prop her head up on her hand.
“There’s a beach along Lake Tahoe, so not the same kind of beach but a beach nonetheless.”
“And it snows there too right?” Christen asked, her excitement growing with every answer Tobin was giving her.
“Yes, lots of snow. Allie’s definitely planning on skiing, so if you want we can do that or snowboard or whatever,” Tobin added.
“We’re one step closer to a white Christmas together,” Christen grinned. “I’d love to go, baby. I totally want to snowboard!”
“Really?” Tobin asked, not having expected a yes that quickly. “Oh and Allie told me that she invited us, Crystal and Pierre, Megan and Sue, and maybe she’ll convince Kelley to bring Mia.”
“This is going to be so much fun! I’m sure my parents will let me go, they’re ditching me for Europe over the holidays anyway,” Christen replied with a shrug.
“Seriously?” Tobin asked, raising her eyebrows. “When did they decide that?”
“Few days ago. They got some deal and it was too good to pass up. Channing is going to stay with my grandparents, and Tyler’s going home with Nigel, blegh,” Christen wrinkled her nose.
“Oh Nigel,” Tobin sighed, winking at Christen. “And what are you planning to do instead of a Press family holiday?” Tobin asked, cocking her head.
Christen shrugged again. “I don’t know. Maybe go with Channing to my grandparent's house, I guess. I hadn’t really thought about it.”
“That would be a shame,” Tobin whispered.
“Why’s that?” Christen hummed, running her fingers through Tobin’s hair.
“Because I finally managed to convince my sister’s to come to California for Christmas, instead of making us fly to Florida.”
“Cole is coming to California?!” Christen asked, her mouth flopping open in surprise.
“He’s the only one you care about, right?” Tobin laughed.
“Not true…” Christen blushed, remembering how much Tobin’s sisters had teased her. She couldn’t help it if she was excited to officially meet Tobin’s nephew, especially since he wouldn’t subject her to sibling torture.
“I don’t blame you. Katie and Perry weren’t very welcoming, were they?”
“They were perfectly wonderful, they just were looking out for their sister. Making sure I wasn’t some heartbreaker,” Christen grinned, leaning down to kiss the corner of Tobin’s mouth.
“You’re welcome to join, if you want,” Tobin whispered.
“I wouldn’t want to intrude, baby,” Christen murmured.
“Chris,” Tobin said, looking up at her. “I want you there, and my family loves you.”
“Would that really be okay, though? I’d be crashing a pretty important holiday,” Christen asked, her brow furrowed with uncertainty.
“Cindy gave me the green light to ask you, so you actually wouldn’t be crashing. You’ve officially been invited.”
Despite her hesitations about intruding on such a big family holiday, Christen gave herself a moment to imagine Christmas with Tobin. Decorating a tree with her, wearing matching Christmas sweaters, waking up with her on Christmas morning. It was too good to pass up.
“Christmas with you sounds perfect,” Christen whispered, smiling softly down at Tobin.
Tobin leaned up and captured Christen’s lips in her own, gently kissing her and putting every ounce of love she felt behind her lips.
“I can’t wait to wake up with you on Christmas morning,” she whispered.
“You and me both, Tobs,” Christen mumbled against Tobin’s lips, smiling into the kiss.
“Wake up, wake up, wake up!!” Christen hissed, shaking Tobin’s shoulder excitedly.
“No thank you,” Tobin mumbled, pushing her face into the pillow.
“Baby, I’m starting!” Christen cheered, shoving Tobin over onto her back and straddling her waist.
“Your period?” Tobin groaned, her brain completely fuzzy in her half-asleep state. “That sucks. I’ll get you an Ibuprofen and some water.”
Christen rolled her eyes and leaned down, pressing a kiss to Tobin’s lips. “The game, dork. Foudy is starting me today!”
Tobin opened her eyes finally, a smile stretching across her face. “Of course she is.”
“I just met Coach for coffee and she told me that I’d have to be taken out at halftime, maybe in the fifty-fifth minute, but she’s starting me! In the finals! Oh my actual god, I’m so excited!” Christen said, kissing all over Tobin’s face, unable to contain her elation.
“She’d be insane not to,” Tobin hummed, running her hands up Christen’s sides under her t-shirt.
Christen leaned back, a small, shy smile playing at her lips. “Tobs?” she asked quietly.
“Yes, baby?” Tobin sighed, blinking slowly now that her sleep was officially interrupted. She wouldn’t be going back to bed, not when Christen was this excited and the sun was finally streaming into the room.
“Since it’s our last game together, maybe for a long time…will you do my hair for me?” Christen wondered, letting her hands settle on Tobin’s sides, her thumbs grazing across Tobin’s sleep shirt.
“Of course,” Tobin nodded. “I can’t do anything fancy, though. What do you want?”
“Will you straighten it?” Christen asked, her smile growing. She hadn’t straightened her hair in a while, not since her concussion. But something about it being the NCAA Finals, with it being their maybe last game together ever, had her wanting the intimacy this would bring them.
“You want me to get rid of the curls?” Tobin asked, pushing her bottom lip out in a little pout.
Christen’s nose scrunched up adorably as she shook her head at the pouty expression on Tobin’s face.
“I want to take our time this morning, getting ready for the game. It might be our last for a while, and I’d really like you to help me do my hair,” Christen replied softly.
“If you want me to make the curls disappear, I can do that,” Tobin grumbled, pulling Christen closer to her on the bed. “You know they’re beautiful, though. Super sexy.”
“I know, and even if I didn’t, you make me feel like they are,” Christen hummed, burying her face in Tobin’s neck. “You can help me get them back tonight, baby,” she added, dropping a kiss to Tobin’s pulse point.
“Shower sex,” Tobin smirked. “I’m sold. Let’s get the straightener.”
Christen sat in front of Tobin, her eyes shut and her legs criss-cross applesauce on the bed as Tobin ran the straightener over her hair. A smile played at her lips at the delicate way Tobin was treating her hair, at the softness behind her touches. Gentle music was playing from Tobin’s phone, adding to the quiet serenity of the morning.
Tobin had sectioned Christen’s hair into four sections, working slowly to straighten each strand. She had already finished one section, Christen’s hair shiny and straight over her right shoulder.
“Goodbye curls,” Tobin whispered, running the straightener through another strand.
Christen’s lips quirked up into an amused smile at the whispered words.
“I’m sorry Chris doesn’t want you for the game today," Tobin continued dramatically, "I promise I’ll bring you back tonight."
Letting out a light snort, Christen reached back and placed a hand on Tobin’s knee. “Don’t you think that’s a bit dramatic, my love?” Christen asked gently.
“Dramatic is my middle name. You should know that. You’ve put up with me for more than a year, longer if you think about how long you’ve humored my antics before getting anything out of it,” Tobin hummed.
“I always got something out of it,” Christen replied, a dreamy smile making its way onto her face.
“I’m glad you think that now,” Tobin laughed, kissing the back of Christen’s neck. “A few more years with me, and you might not.”
“Not possible,” Christen replied softly. “You’ll always be the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“What a coincidence,” Tobin teased, sectioning off more hair and running the straightener through it. “You know, I obviously love the curls, but you look really sexy with straight hair too,” Tobin whispered.
Christen chuckled, feeling a slight blush rise in her cheeks. “Thanks, baby. I’m glad you think so.”
“I’d love you without hair,” Tobin continued, her voice lilting and silly and unstressed.
Christen’s laughter grew, and she tried her best to quiet it, not wanting to move her head or her shoulders while Tobin was holding a hot iron in her hair.
“Mhm, you’re my baby, and nothing changes that,” Tobin nodded.
Right now, with hours left before the NCAA Finals, with months left in their senior year, with stars in their eyes about the opportunities to come, it did feel like nothing could change that. Like nothing could change them.
The rest of the morning went a lot like that. Quiet moments, words of love spoken at whispers, small teasing jokes, and lingering touches. Tobin finished straightening Christen’s hair, doing a rather excellent job of it in the end. They meditated and listened to music, adhering to Tobin’s hard chill game day routine. By the time they needed to head down for the pre-game meal, both Tobin and Christen felt centered and ready for whatever the day held.
Tobin pulled her sleeves over her hands, cursing herself for forgetting her gloves in the hotel room. She jumped up and down on the field, trying to keep herself warm and focused on the game ahead. She shared one final smile with Christen across the field, one final moment before the craziness would start.
And then Sam took the kickoff, passing the ball back to Crystal, and the NCAA Championship game had begun.
It took less than eight minutes for UCLA to get on the board. Christen tracked back into the midfield to receive a long ball from Alyssa. She spun her defender and drove up the middle of the field at a dribble. She had Megan on her right and Tobin on her left, with Rose keeping pace with her somewhere behind her. She sent a long ball to Tobin and continued her run toward goal.
Megan streaked toward the front post, while Christen held her run for the far post ball. Tobin sent a beautiful pass to Megan, who easily redirected the ball toward goal, her shot going right between Florida State’s goalkeeper’s legs.
By the twenty-third minute, Christen felt a little bad. Megan had added a second goal to her tally, and she’d scored one as well. She hadn’t expected them to be up 3-0 this early in the game, but damn it felt good. It felt even better now that she finally got to be near Tobin again.
“How do you want to play this?” Christen asked quietly, standing over the ball. They had been awarded a free-kick about twenty yards from goal, and she and Tobin had come to take the kick.
“If you take it and score, I’ll let you do whatever you want tonight,” Tobin shrugged, poorly attempting to hide her smirk.
“I’m more of a giver. I want you to score it,” Christen hummed, holding her hand over her mouth so people couldn’t see what she was saying as she leaned closer to Tobin. To anyone else, they looked like they were conferring over game tactics and trick plays.
“I know you are, baby. I was going to say that if you take it and score, I’ll let you do whatever you want to me tonight,” Tobin corrected.
Christen tapped her nose, thinking about everything she wanted to do, every way she wanted to celebrate their imminent victory. With a smile, she leaned over, closer to Tobin. “I want you, sitting on my face, begging me to let you come,” Christen husked.
She quickly left Tobin’s side and approached the ball. She moved it around, finding the perfect spot on the grass. She might be taking just a bit longer than necessary, sure that Tobin’s eyes were glued to her ass and loving it.
“Jesus Christ,” Tobin huffed out, stepping back and enjoying the view and the new image of what she and Christen would be doing after the game.
Christen put them up 4-0 with a beautiful bending free-kick into the top corner of the goal. After scoring, she turned around and winked at Tobin before throwing her arms around her girlfriend in celebration.
“I can’t wait to hear you beg,” Christen whispered, squeezing Tobin tightly to her before releasing her.
“Chris,” Tobin choked out, not expecting her girlfriend to say that on the field, especially not during a televised game.
“Just making this last game count,” Christen hummed, stepping out of Tobin’s arms.
“Now I have extra incentive to score and hurry this game along,” Tobin mumbled.
It didn’t take long for Tobin to add a fifth. There were less than four minutes left in the first half and Tobin stripped the ball away from a Florida State defender.
“Yourself, Tobs!” Christen called out, encouraging Tobin to do what she did best: make defenders look like fools.
Tobin nutmegged the center back standing between her and the goal and dribbled at the goalkeeper in a 1v1. Opening her hips, Tobin slotted the ball on the ground into the bottom corner of the goal, putting the final nail in Florida State’s coffin.
Christen felt tears prick the corners of her eyes, thinking for a moment that this might be the last goal she gets to celebrate with Tobin. She was coming off at halftime and there might not be any more goals left in these dying minutes. So she quickly ran over and threw her arms around Tobin and let herself take in the moment. The roaring crowd, the good kind of heaviness in her limbs, the lightness in her heart.
“That goal was for you,” Tobin whispered, burying her face in Christen’s neck.
Christen smiled and pressed a quick kiss to the side of Tobin’s head. “Thank you,” Christen whispered. She was expressing gratitude for more than just the goal. She was thanking Tobin for everything over these last few years. For being there for her, for loving her, for working through the tough times and enjoying the hell out of the best times.
“They’re already crying,” Megan huffed, wrapping her arms around Christen and Tobin.
“Good, I hate these guys,” Kelley grumbled, jumping into the embrace as well.
“Best way to end our careers here,” Crystal beamed, throwing her arms around everyone.
“Please don’t leave us to do this next year,” Sam groaned, wrapping her arms around Megan.
“Never leave us!” Rose added with a pout.
Christen leaned back and looked around at her friends and her teammates with a teary smile.
“You guys will be more than fine,” Christen said, her voice catching just a bit.
Tobin looked right at Christen, knowing that this was going to be an emotional last game. She hadn’t quite wrapped her own head around how emotional it would be. She hadn’t yet fully thought about what it meant to be finishing at the NCAA Finals with Christen and UCLA, but seeing the way Christen’s eyes were watering made her finally feel that pang of emotion.
“Shit guys we can’t start crying too!” Megan joked, wiping at her suspiciously wet eyes. Everyone laughed and dispersed for kick-off, Christen and Tobin sharing one last sweet, teary look.
They kept the score at 5-0 for the last few minutes before halftime. As promised, Foudy took Christen out of the game for the second half, putting Mal in her place. Tobin tried not to pout about not finishing the game with her girlfriend, especially since, at this rate, they’d already finished the game within the first half and were really just defending and enjoying their sport for the second.
“Mal?” Tobin asked, knocking her hip into Mal’s before the second half started.
“Sup, Tobin?” Mal asked, jumping around to stay warm.
“You want to score a goal today?” Tobin asked.
“Let’s make it 6-0, and then we can relax for the rest of the half. 7-0 if we’re feeling fancy,” Tobin grinned.
Mal laughed and nodded, taking off like a light when the referee’s whistle sounded, signaling the start of the second half.
It was easier than Christen thought it would be, to watch the minutes count down and watch her team continue to dominate. Of course, she still wished she could be out there. But she’d given everything she had to this program, to this team. She felt nothing but peace knowing that her career with UCLA was ending here, with her on the sidelines after scoring two goals in a resounding 7-0 win against Florida State.
When the final whistle blew, when confetti rained down and littered the field, Christen immediately ran onto the field, with one person in mind.
Tobin scooped Christen up into her arms, holding her as close as she could. She could feel her eyes watering and knew it would be mere seconds before actual tears slid from her eyes. “Hey, Chris?” Tobin asked, pressing her forehead against Christen’s shoulder.
Christen held Tobin close, running her hands across the back of her jersey, her fingers tracing across the 17.
“You smell that?” Tobin whispered.
“Excuse me?” Christen chuckled, the question not something she was expecting Tobin to ask her right now.
“It’s gonna snow,” Tobin hummed, turning her head up to the gray, New Jersey sky that she’d grown up under.
“Really?” Christen asked excitedly, looking up to the sky as well.
“Mhm,” Tobin nodded. “I’m surprised it spared the game.”
As if on cue, a few snowflakes fell out of the sky, one landing right on Christen’s forehead. With a giggle, she reached up and wiped it away. She looked down at Tobin, her smile growing.
“I love you,” Christen whispered, ignoring the falling snow and their celebrating teammates and the pandemonium around them. She just took a moment to focus on Tobin.
“I love you so much,” Tobin sighed, running her hands along Christen’s back.
Christen stepped out of Tobin’s arms with a smile that looked somewhere between sweet and sultry. “Let’s go celebrate with our team, then we’ll go celebrate on our own.”
“I’m gonna need my jacket first,” Tobin laughed, her teeth already starting to chatter since her sweat was freezing.
Christen quickly shed her puffy coat and pulled it up Tobin’s arms and around her shoulders. She still had her game sweats on, which was more than the long-sleeved jersey and shorts Tobin was in.
“Here,” Christen murmured, tugging the sides of the jacket together and zipping it up for Tobin.
“Woooow,” Tobin teased. “You really love me.”
“Never forget it,” Christen teased back. She grabbed ahold of Tobin’s hand and tugged her toward the rest of their team.
“Three Championships!” Kelley yelled, lifting Christen up off the field and spinning her around.
“WE DESERVE IT!” Megan yelled from where she was embracing Mal nearby.
“This one might be the best,” Christen laughed, squirming out of Kelley’s arms and landing back on her feet. As she looked over at where Tobin was hugging and laughing with Sam and Rose, Christen felt the truth behind her words settle in her chest. This year, this championship, was the best yet.