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Our Secret Moments

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Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine

You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling

And I would still be on my feet

Oh, I would still be on my feet

Oh, I am a lonely painter

I live in a box of paints

I'm frightened by the devil

And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I remember that time you told me

You said, "Love is touching souls"

Surely you touched mine

'Cause part of you pours out of me

In these lines from time to time

(Tobin - “Case of You” by Joni Mitchell)

 

I'll pour my heart out through my mouth

This year's been hard for us, no doubt

Let's raise a glass to a better one

Let all the things that we've overcome

Bring hope to us 'cause

Me and you, we can hold this out

Only you understand how I'm feeling now, yeah

And I know

I can tell you anything

You won't judge

You're just listening, yeah

'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me

'Cause my darling, you and I

Could take over the world

One step at a time

Just you and I (Just you and I)

'Cause you're the only one

Who brings light just like the sun

One step at a time

Just you and I

(Christen - “Just You And I- Acoustic” by Tom Walker)

 

Tobin pulled her sleeves over her hands, getting chillier by the second. She couldn’t bring herself to get up and climb down the stairs just yet, though. She didn't want to run into Allie and pretend that she was fine, that she didn’t miss Christen. She didn’t want Allie to look at her with worry and pity. There would be time for Harry night and time to FaceTime Christen, but right now, all Tobin wanted was Todd and the cool air and the steady rhythm of her heart. 

“Find any walruses or garden gnomes up there?” Christen called out softly, noticing the way Tobin’s eyes were locked on the starry sky overhead. She shut the door to the roof behind her quietly and leaned against it. 

Tobin’s heartbeat suddenly changed its pace, speeding up and thrumming against her ribcage. She turned her head to the side, seeing Christen on her roof. She blinked slowly, convinced that the cold air had officially gotten to her brain and was making her see things. 

Christen hesitantly crossed the roof, getting closer to where Tobin was lying down. She watched the confusion play out across Tobin’s face, the worry wrinkle forming between her brows.

“I, uh- decided that three weeks was a long time to wait to see you again, so…” Christen trailed off, stuffing her hands into the front pocket of the sweatshirt. She paused a few feet away from Tobin, unsure if she should join her on the ground.

“You have a game in two days,” Tobin said, her mind racing to frantically figure out how Christen had managed to come to Portland and how she’d get back in time for a game. 

“It got canceled,” Christen replied with a small shrug. “Best thing that Chicago has ever done for me.”

“Nice shorts,” Tobin mumbled, still not sure what she could say, still not sure if she was actually consciously experiencing this. 

Christen blushed and looked down at her horrible, hodge-podge outfit. “Yeah...I didn’t know I’d be showing up here when I left for brunch with Julie this morning.”

Tobin quickly got up, making blood rush through her head and causing black spots to appear in her vision. She didn’t care though. Not when Christen was standing there, in person, in her ratty old basketball shorts and sweatshirt. Tobin nearly ran over to her, wrapping her arms around Christen as tightly as she could and finally believing that this was really real, that Christen was really here. 

Christen stumbled back a few steps with the force of Tobin’s hug, feeling tears immediately pool in her eyes. A small, choked sob escaped her lips as she clung tightly to Tobin, her hands fisting in Tobin’s sweatshirt. She’d been waiting for this hug. A hug that wasn’t awkward and hesitant before a game. Instead, it was a hug that whispered promises and reassurances, that spoke of love and acceptance and forever. It was coming home, it was peace, it was everything Christen needed it to be.

“I’m sorry,” Tobin mumbled against Christen’s neck. 

“Me too, baby,” Christen whispered, her hot tears hitting Tobin’s sweatshirt as she buried her face in Tobin’s neck. “I’m so so sorry.”

“I didn’t mean to make you feel even more alone,” Tobin murmured, rubbing her hand along Christen’s back as soothingly as she could. She knew that Christen was crying just as much as she was, and she wanted to do anything she could to make the tears disappear.  

Christen shook her head against Tobin’s neck, not wanting to go through the song and dance of letting every apology fall from their lips right now. Right now, she wanted to hold Tobin and just cling to the peace she’d been desperate to find these past ten days. There would be time for apologies later. 

“Not yet,” Christen sighed, sniffling just a bit. “You can say all of that later. I have stuff to say too. But right now I just want to hold you and pretend like everything’s going to be okay.”

“Everything is going to be okay,” Tobin promised, hoping like hell that that was true, that Christen would forgive her, that she’d get to leave Chicago, that everything would fall back into place. 

With the feeling of Tobin’s arms around her, Christen hoped like hell too. She hoped that everything would be okay. She hoped beyond hope.  

“How’d you get here?” Tobin asked, leaning back only just enough to look at Christen’s face but keeping her arms around Christen’s waist. 

Christen blinked a few tears from her eyes and smiled tightly. “There are these cool inventions that are basically flying machines called airplanes . They get you places super quick,” she replied, her voice slightly teasing.

“She’s sassy today, Todd,” Tobin whispered, lifting her hand to Christen’s face and lightly brushing a few tears away with her thumb. 

“You’re cold,” Christen whispered, the feeling of Tobin’s icicle-like thumb on her skin making her shiver.

“Sorry,” Tobin mumbled, pulling her hand away. “I was up here for a little bit.”

Christen unfurled an arm from around Tobin’s shoulder and grabbed Tobin’s hand that had just been touching her. She gently lifted Tobin’s hand and placed it against her cheek, hoping her skin would warm Tobin up a little bit. 

“I can tell. We should probably go down and get you warm since I don’t think you’ve ever been this cold in the four years I've known you. Not even in Tahoe,” Christen replied gently.

“I think that’s a good idea. I can make you some coffee or tea,” Tobin offered, rubbing her thumb along Christen’s cheekbone. 

Christen felt a small smile tug at her lips. “I’d love some coffee.”


Christen settled onto the couch and watched Tobin move around the kitchen, fixing them coffee. She pulled a blanket off the back of the couch and draped it over her lap, situating herself on the couch cushion as she watched Tobin open the fridge, pause, then turn around to look at her.

“I don’t have oat milk. Allie has almond milk, though...I think,” Tobin said, breaking the short silence. The silence that was slightly less awkward than before but still not completely normal silence that had settled over them. 

“That’s fine,” Christen assured, hating the fact that it didn’t feel normal just yet, but knowing it wouldn’t until they both had coffees in hand, sitting on this couch, with a mountain of apologies said between them.

“We can get some tomorrow, if you want…Or- I don’t want to assume...I don’t actually know what your plans are or how long you’re staying, so…” Tobin trailed off. 

“I don’t either. I don’t have a ticket back yet,” Christen replied with a small chuckle, watching Tobin stir the almond milk into her coffee cup with practiced ease.

“That’s pretty uncharacteristic of you,” Tobin mumbled, stirring regular milk into her own coffee and tossing the spoon into the sink once she was finished. 

Christen ran a hand through her travel-mussed curls. “Yeah well, sometimes spontaneity is necessary,” she replied with a teasing lilt in her voice.

“Did you bring clothes?” Tobin asked, carrying the coffee over to Christen and handing it to her. She took a seat at the end of the couch, leaning against the arm of the couch and turning to look at Christen. She left nearly a foot of space between them, conscious that they had things to talk about before this could feel completely normal again and wanting to be respectful of that. 

“Uh...just the ones I’m wearing. But I’m not really worried about any of that right now,” Christen said softly. She let the hot coffee in the ceramic mug warm her hands, wishing that Tobin hadn’t sat so far away but understanding why she had.

“Yeah, some of your clothes are here, so that makes sense,” Tobin nodded, feeling like she was grasping for words to say, for the right words to say. 

Christen took a sip of coffee, letting silence envelop them once more. She’d rehearsed this, she’d run through it a million times over the course of the flight. But now that she was here, that she could see how withdrawn Tobin seemed to be, everything she’d come up with didn’t feel like enough. 

“Have you eaten?” Tobin asked, jumping to the first thing that came to mind. 

Christen laughed, quick and short. Not because the question was funny, but because even now, despite everything, Tobin was finding a way to care. Tobin was able to do it so easily, whereas she was struggling to even find the words to explain why she’d flown all the way here.

“A lot of packages of peanuts on the plane. Oh, and a protein bar the lady sitting behind me offered once she heard my stomach growl for the fourth time,” Christen chuckled.

“I can order something,” Tobin offered, pulling her phone out of her sweatshirt pocket. 

Christen reached out, crossing the small bit of space between them and laying a hand on Tobin’s arm. “Stop, Tobs. I’m okay,” Christen assured gently. 

“Okay,” Tobin nodded, dropping her phone onto the couch. 

Christen let out an audible sigh when she removed her hand from Tobin’s arm, when she tilted her body away from Tobin’s and brought the space back between them. 

“It always seems so easy in the movies, but I guess it’s easy because the words are written for them,” Christen said softly, setting her coffee down on the table. She tucked her legs under her and laid her arm on the back of the couch, fully facing Tobin.

“You lost me,” Tobin whispered with a laugh. She knew she was looking at Christen with heart eyes, but she couldn’t help herself. Christen was incredibly endearing when she tried to broach conversations with metaphors or examples, especially when Tobin didn’t understand them. 

“I’ve made you watch a lot of romcoms, Tobin Heath, so I know you know what I’m talking about,” Christen replied, narrowing her eyes playfully, feeling her heart pound at the soft look Tobin was giving her. “At the end of every single one of those movies, there’s a moment. An epic, big, heartfelt, lay everything on the line kind of moment. And it always looked so easy to me. Someone shows up, bares their heart, and that’s it. Happily ever after,” she continued, letting her fingers fall to Tobin’s shoulder, running them gently across the material of her sweatshirt. “But I’m sitting here in this big moment with you, and it doesn’t feel easy because I don’t have anyone to write the words for me. No words feel like enough. ”

“I feel the same way,” Tobin hummed. “I feel like I could trip over myself and say a thousand words and apologies and it wouldn’t be enough. But I need them to be enough because I don’t want to lose you.”

“Last time I said something like that, a wise woman said to me: ‘I told you I wouldn’t let you go.’ So this is me telling you the same thing,” Christen murmured. 

“I think that wise woman was being an idiot in that moment, even if those words are true,” Tobin sighed, remembering the night she’d asked Christen to take a pause. 

“Do you regret taking a pause?” Christen said, having to force the word pause out, hating the bitter taste it left on her tongue.

“I don’t regret telling you how I was feeling. I regret not being there for you when you were in an impossible situation that I didn’t even fully understand, especially when I said I’d always be there,” Tobin answered, guilt rushing through her body at the memory. 

Christen nodded, realizing that Tobin actually didn’t even know the half of it. She’d only just learned about it herself. 

“I think you were there for me in the way you could be, baby. And yeah, I was in a toxic, strained, stressful environment,” Christen said, her brows furrowing as she sorted through her feelings and thoughts, as she worked them out in real-time with Tobin. “And until ten days ago, you were the rock I needed you to be. But I can’t be upset that you put your feelings first when I started to drop the ball. Especially because I should have been making room for your feelings as well.”

“For someone looking for the right words, you seem to have a lot of them. You definitely didn’t need them written for you, since you’ve always been such a good writer,” Tobin whispered, reaching up and taking Christen’s hand in her own. 

Christen brightened not just at Tobin’s touch, but at Tobin’s comment. She was a better writer than she was a heartfelt declaration giver, even if she’d been doing a decent job. “My letter, did you read it yet? Do you still have it?” Christen asked, her words a bit rushed and full of quiet excitement.

“Was I supposed to have read it?” Tobin asked, her eyes growing a little bit at the question. 

“No, no, not at all! But you’ve got it somewhere?”

“Yeah,” Tobin nodded. “It’s in my bag still. I got home, talked to my parents, and slept for two hours, so I didn’t really have time to unpack.”

“Let me get it,” Christen whispered, squeezing Tobin’s hand and lifting it to her lips to brush a kiss across Tobin’s knuckles. She got up from the couch and padded over to Tobin’s room, grabbing the soccer bag from the floor and walking back into the living room. 

“This one?” she asked, sitting back down on the couch. If anyone asked, she hadn’t been exactly aiming to sit closer to Tobin; it was just a happy accident that their knees now brushed and their shoulders were almost touching. Seeing Tobin’s hopeful smile, Christen knew it was the right call.

“Yeah, front pocket,” Tobin answered. 

Christen quickly retrieved the letter, putting the bag down on the ground. She had written this letter during that eight-day stretch when they’d been on pause. She’d poured her heart out onto these pages in a rambling, stream of consciousness mess. But she’d found the words to apologize, to promise to do better, and now she wanted to share them with Tobin. But first, she needed to say everything that wasn’t in the letter.

Tobin had opened up the apology door, and now she was coming through it as well, just with a little more preparation and a long, rambling letter to boot.

“Before you read this, I need to tell you three things. Will you let me get through them?” Christen asked, her words eerily similar to the ones she’d said to Tobin in the hotel room in San Diego their junior year. The words she’d said when she’d told Tobin how she felt, when she’d told Tobin she wasn’t going to run anymore.

“Sure,” Tobin replied, feeling a little anxious at how serious Christen looked. She rested her hand on Christen’s knee, just wanting a tiny bit of contact to keep both of them grounded in the moment and in reality. 

Taking a deep breath, Christen tried her best to smile, to assuage Tobin’s worries that were hidden in the wrinkle between her brows and the crinkle in her forehead. 

“First, I need to apologize. Again. I’m...I’m so sorry for the way I treated you, for forgetting date nights, and for making you feel unimportant. I’m sorry for making you feel like our love is an afterthought. I’m sorry for hurting you and disappointing you. But mostly, I’m sorry for not being the girlfriend you deserve.”

Tobin felt a familiar lump start to rise in her throat. She could feel the way her eyes ached a little, reminding her of the nights that she sat in bed, waiting for a phone call or a returned text when plans were forgotten or delayed. She swallowed thickly, trying to shove the emotions away, at least until Christen got through her romcom-inspired speech, so that afterward she could get the chance to fully apologize herself. 

Christen tentatively reached out and grabbed ahold of Tobin’s hand that was on her knee, lacing their fingers together. 

“Second, I need to tell you that you were right, about Chicago and Duncan and Nikki. You were right and I should have listened to you. I didn’t know how right you were until this morning when Julie told me everything. From the start, Nikki isolated me, manipulated me, and lied to me. She was the one who told Duncan that I was going out, so she’s the reason I got benched. And today when I confronted her about it...she tried to kiss me,” Christen said, her voice coming out in a whisper with those final words.

Tobin’s eyebrows shot up in surprise before her eyes narrowed and her jaw tightened. She leaned over and put her coffee mug on the coffee table, not wanting to break anything out of frustration. 

Christen gripped tightly onto Tobin’s hand, conveying with her touch and her words that she wasn’t done talking, that there was still more to say.

“We can come back to that part, but the important thing is that I finally got the truth about everything. I- I got played, Tobs. From the very beginning, and I’m sorry I let it affect us and our relationship. If she’d just gone after me, that would have been fine, but she dragged you into it too, and I wasn’t going to sit there and let that-”

“It isn’t fine that she went after you,” Tobin interrupted, unable to stop herself from correcting Christen on that one point. She needed Christen to know that nothing that had happened to her was fine. 

Christen acknowledged that Tobin was right, it wasn’t fine, but it also wasn’t something they had to carry forward with them. They could leave all of that, everything Nikki had done to the both of them, in the past. 

Rubbing her thumb across the back of Tobin’s hand, Christen nodded. “Yeah that kinda sucked...but it won’t be a problem anymore. And I’m not going to let it affect us anymore either.”

Tobin felt like her mind was spinning with so much information. She wanted to ask for clarification. She wanted to know what exactly happened within the last twenty-four hours, what all was revealed. 

“You’ve got your confused look,” Christen murmured, the ghost of a smile on her face. “It’s cute.”

“I wish I’d been more persistent,” Tobin shrugged, still trying to replay what Christen had said and how Nikki had behaved at the game. “I wished I’d been able to help you.”

“You couldn’t have known,” Christen replied softly. “And you did help, you kept me afloat when I’m pretty sure I would have drowned without you.”

“I didn’t- I mean, I never meant to hold you back or make things more difficult than they already were,” Tobin mumbled, finally voicing the insecurity that had been rolling around in her brain since the game. 

“Hey,” Christen softened, scooting just a bit closer to Tobin and pulling their clasped hands into her lap. “You did nothing like that. I was in a horrible place, in a horrible situation, and you were the only thing that got me through it. You did more for me than you’ll ever know.”

“She kissed you?” Tobin asked, making a face at the idea. 

Christen shook her head forcefully. “She tried to. If I wasn’t such a pacifist, I probably would have punched her for even getting that close. But I just shoved her away from me instead. She didn’t kiss me, I promise.”

“That’s good,” Tobin sighed.

With a nod, Christen scooted another inch closer. “I should have listened to you when you tried to warn me about her,” Christen whispered. 

“She felt like your only friend. Of course, you saw the good. Plus, I honestly could have just been acting like a jealous girlfriend,” Tobin shrugged. “I will say...Chrissy really doesn’t fit you. That probably should have been a warning sign.”

Christen wrinkled her nose at the sound of the nickname leaving Tobin’s lips. “Yeah that was such a red flag,” she replied. “Do you have any more questions?”

“I’m sure I will later, but you can continue your speech for now,” Tobin said.

“Did I mention I was sorry?” Christen asked softly, shooting a smile in Tobin’s direction.

“A couple times,” Tobin nodded. 

“Good, I can move to number three then,” Christen replied. She took a few quick breaths, willing her racing heart to settle. 

“The third thing is, I need you to know that I talked to Foudy about getting me to Utah. It’s very up in the air, but she and I got coffee the other week and I told her everything. About Duncan and the team, and...you. So, she’s going to try and get me to the Royals for next season. And before you say anything, I didn’t ask her because I don’t think we can make distance work, because I think we can. I asked her to try to trade for me because you’re more important to me than this game we both play. I’d be 771.9 miles away from you, and it’s not the zero I’m aiming for eventually, but it’s a lot closer than Chicago.”

“You could be playing in Australia, and I’d be happy if you were happy,” Tobin whispered, her words honest and genuine. All she ever wanted was for Christen to be happy. 

“Nothing would make me happier than being closer to you and playing for Foudy again,” Christen said, lifting their clasped hands to her lips. She pressed a kiss to the back of Tobin’s hand and then dropped their hands back to her lap.

“I hope she works her magic, then,” Tobin said, offering Christen a soft smile. 

“I hope so too,” Christen agreed, her heart all but soaring at the sight of the smile on Tobin’s face. 

Christen looked back down at the envelope in her lap and felt an amused huff leave her lips. “And I still suck at math, so I actually have a fourth thing too. But it’s in the letter,” she whispered, looking back up at Tobin, feeling a small flutter of nerves in her stomach.

“Do you want me to read it now?” Tobin asked, rubbing her thumb in soft circles on Christen’s knee. 

“You can read it, or I can read it to you. Either way, baby,” Christen replied, willing her eyes not to flutter shut at Tobin’s gentle touch.

“This is really dorky, but...I took my contacts out,” Tobin admitted, her cheeks flushing a little bit. 

“I love you when you’re dorky. So sit back and relax while I read it to you,” Christen murmured, taking her hand out of Tobin’s so she could open the envelope and pull out the few sheets of paper. She set them down in her lap and then swallowed thickly, her heart starting to beat a little faster in her chest when she remembered everything she’d said in this letter.

“That’s a long letter, baby,” Tobin whispered, her voice soft, almost reverent, and her touch gentle and warm against Christen’s skin. 

“I had some things to say, and more apologies to make,” Christen shrugged, a bit bashful.

“If I’d written mine down, it would probably be that long too,” Tobin hummed, reaching out for Christen’s hand and kissing each of her knuckles. 

Christen smiled at the touch and then cleared her throat, willing her heart not to pound out of her chest as she started to read.

“My love, our secret moments used to be my favorite things. Before we were together, before we’d gotten brave, I lived for them. The texts we’d send during group Facetime calls, holding hands under the table simply because we couldn’t stay apart, falling asleep together at camp and not telling a soul about it, learning each other’s favorite flowers and foods, lingering in hugs we had no business lingering in. I loved those secret moments because I got to love you without you knowing,” Christen began, breathing through the onset of tears. She blinked them away and refocused on the page in front of her. 

“I loved those moments too,” Tobin mumbled, her voice feeling wobbly already. 

Christen smiled, the nostalgia of it all making her stomach flutter. She continued reading, willing her voice not to shake with the building emotions within her.

“But then we got brave, and I’m grateful every single day that we did because I didn’t have to love you without you knowing anymore. I got to love you out loud, I got to love you in a big, scary, extraordinary way. Our secret moments turned into our forever moments, and I have enjoyed every single one of them with you,” Christen whispered, turning the page.

Tobin couldn’t help the way her heart pounded, the way her body felt warm and safe and at home with Christen holding her hand and speaking softly across from her. She couldn't stop herself from remembering each and every sweet moment they’d shared since they met freshman year. She couldn’t help but look at the woman in front of her and know that she was everything she ever wanted. 

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about you, about us, about our story. Sometimes I can’t believe that the beautiful, gifted, effortless girl I spotted across the field on August 10th, four years ago, deemed me worthy to love. Sometimes I can’t wrap my head around how inevitable it all feels, how I know with a strange kind of certainty that I was meant to love you. In every lifetime, in every version of our world and ourselves, we’re meant to be together. I don’t mean to wax poetic about it, but it’s something I know with every fiber of my being, with every part of me. I was put on this earth to love you, Tobin Heath. And I know I always say this, but our love story is my favorite love story. Which is a big statement, because Nora Ephron didn’t write it and you know how much I love her,” Christen said with a small laugh, using the sleeve of the sweatshirt to wipe at the few tears that snuck out and started to fall down her cheeks.

Tobin reached up to wipe Christen’s tears away, not daring to speak when she knew her voice was going to come out sounding hoarse and thin. 

Christen let a wobbly breath leave her lips at the feeling of Tobin’s fingertips capturing her tears and brushing them away. She didn’t dare look up from the page, not when she knew there was still so much left, still so many big things to say.

“You, and us, and our story, it’s not done. I don’t want this to end because I lost my way for a second, because I let my priorities shift out of whack. I messed up and I will spend the rest of my life trying to make up for that. And if I lose my nerve when we finally get to talk, I just wanted to write one final thing here in this letter. I wanted to put it in writing so that whenever you read this, wherever you are, you’ll know. You’ll know that no matter what speed bumps lie ahead, no matter what the road looks like, no matter what life throws our way, I want to face it with you by my side. I want the epic highs and the epic lows, I want the smiles and the tears, I want everything with you. But more than that…” Christen trailed off, chancing a quick look up at Tobin and pausing at the slightly amused look on her face.

“What?” Christen asked with a small chuckle, sniffling just a bit.

“You know...the first couple paragraphs you just read really sounded like a breakup. It would be pretty ballsy to fly to Portland without a return flight to break up with someone,” Tobin choked out with a tiny, teasing smile. Tobin let out a long breath and wiped at the first tears that were slipping from the corners of her eyes, officially breaking the dam. She knew she was going to cry. She’d known it as soon as she saw Christen on the roof and realized she was really there. She just hadn’t known what kind of tears they were going to be. 

Christen paused, thinking back on all of her words, and then immediately flushed when she realized Tobin was kind of right. Somewhere in her long-winded, long handwritten note, she’d crafted not just some romantic messages, but she’d maybe made it sound like their forever moments were coming to an end as well. 

Christen squeezed her eyes shut and cringed. “I didn’t- I’m sorry. I wasn’t going for that obviously ,” Christen croaked, reaching up to catch some of Tobin’s tears, to erase their tracks and the reasons behind them.

“No, no more sorrys,” Tobin shook her head, reaching forward and pulling Christen a little closer on the couch, so that Christen was almost in her lap. 

“No more for now, but I’ll probably sneak some in later. Definitely, some tomorrow,” Christen chuckled weakly, snagging Tobin’s hand with her own, tangling their fingers loosely together again. Christen felt just a bit better being so close to Tobin, but the nerves in her stomach were back and aflutter, knowing there was another half a page left in her letter, and this was the big part.

“You can splurge and eat a burger and fries with me, and then we can move past sorrys,” Tobin hummed, leaning into the couch cushion. 

“I have a little more left in this letter before we get to that, if that’s okay?” Christen asked quietly, her throat bobbing as she forced herself to swallow her nerves.

“I’ll stop interrupting, then,” Tobin grinned, pulling Christen’s hand up to her lips and kissing the back of it softly again. 

“Never stop interrupting me,” Christen sighed, her lips quirking up into a smile. She had to force herself to look back down at the letter in her lap, to look away from where Tobin was ghosting her lips across the back of her hand.

“So, um...right. I want the epic highs and the epic lows, I want the smiles and the tears, I want everything with you. But more than that…I want to marry you, Tobin Powell Heath,” Christen stuttered out, almost tripping over the words and the seriousness behind them. “Before you panic, I don’t mean today, certainly not tomorrow, but someday. Someday I’m going to not get down on one knee, because that feels a little silly and formal and so very not us. So, someday I’m going to sit on a beach or in a forest or in bed with you and ask you to be mine. Someday I’m going to ask you to spend your forever with me, to entangle and entwine our lives together even more so than we already have,” Christen continued, finally voicing that fourth thing she needed to tell Tobin tonight. She’d made her apology, she’d explained Chicago, she’d affirmed her desire to move teams, and now she was promising forever in the most concrete way she could. 

“I know that’s big and serious, and I know things aren’t the best between us right now. But no matter what happens when we talk, no matter what comes of it, everything I just wrote isn’t going to change. I plan to spend the rest of my life with you. I’m signing up for a lifetime of dancing around the bathroom while we brush our teeth together, of trying to find wall space to hang up all of your paintings, of getting up way too early to watch soccer, of sunrises and sunsets and cups of coffee and World Cup wins and Olympic medals and dreams and happily ever afters. I plan to love you the way you deserve, the way you’ve deserved out of me these past few months, for forever. For as long as you want me. I’ll see you soon, my love. I love you to Todd and back,” Christen finished, sitting back and hesitantly meeting Tobin’s eyes, slightly unsure exactly what she would find there.

“That’s a pretty great letter,” Tobin breathed out, her vision blurry, all hope of stopping the tears lost.

“Took me eight days to perfect it,” Christen said, a small smile playing at her lips and identical tears running down her cheeks as well.

“I’m really sorry about those eight days. I didn’t mean to make them harder than they already were,” Tobin said, again voicing the apology that had been sitting on her lips since she’d told Christen to forget about planning any dates for a bit. 

“If I’m not allowed any more sorrys, then neither are you,” Christen replied softly. “You asked for space and time, which you deserved to ask for. Please don’t carry around any guilt about that.”

Tobin wasn’t as ready to forgive herself the way Christen seemed to be. She wasn’t ready to forgo apologies just yet, not when she knew she’d been a part of Christen’s hurt. 

“Do I get to respond?” Tobin asked, continuing the tradition of what they’d done in San Diego. 

Christen nodded softly, not entirely trusting her voice, almost overcome with emotion because the last time they’d done this, trading three or four confessions back and forth, they’d been kids. They’d stumbled into love and were figuring it out in college. But now they were all grown up and they were choosing love, they were choosing each other. 

“First,” Tobin started, clearing her throat and sniffling a little, “I appreciate and accept your apology, but I also don’t want you to feel guilty about it. You are the person I love most, and I constantly wonder how I deserve you. You don’t need to feel like you failed, just because you were in the worst possible situation, trying to keep yourself afloat. I had a long time to think about that...eight days exactly, and I want to be a part of your life in any capacity. I decided before the game in Chicago that I would accept anything you could give me, even if that meant stepping back for a little bit, just being friends.” Tobin watched Christen’s face scrunch up in worry before she blurted out, “Not that I want that! I don’t. I just never want this to feel like it’s too much or like it doesn’t feel natural.”

“I don’t want that either. I want...I want to take everything we can learn from this and move on. I want to stop feeling yucky and I want to stop wondering if it’s even okay to touch you. Being with you is never too much. It’s the most natural thing in the world,” Christen replied, saying her piece on that and waiting for Tobin to continue. She was feeling infinitely lighter, lighter than she had since she got on that plane in Chicago, lighter than she had since Tobin had asked for a pause.

“Right? I think we’re pretty great!” Tobin agreed, grinning at Christen before she moved on to her next point. “Second, I-” Tobin let out a long breath of air, her jaw clenching at the thought of everything that had happened. “I’m sorry and I will continue to be sorry for making your situation and your experience in Chicago even worse. I had no idea how bad it was. I was doing well in Portland. I had friends and a nice coach. The only thing I was missing was you, which while it sucked more than I thought missing someone ever could, I didn’t realize just how horrible things were in Chicago and just how great in comparison Portland was. I just wish I could have been there for you. I wish that I could have done something to change Chicago. I know that I hurt you by asking to step back, but I hope you can forgive me for that,” Tobin said, trying to keep her voice steady and her eyes trained on Christen. 

Christen blew out a shaky breath, pulling their clasped hands up to her face and resting her cheek against them. 

“It’s already forgiven,” Christen whispered, feeling another tear escape from the corner of her eye.

Tobin leaned forward and kissed the wayward tear off of Christen’s cheek before continuing. 

“I also need to apologize for Allie. Not for her obviously; she can and should do that all on her own, and if she doesn’t I’ll be really pissed. But, she didn’t have the right to send you away and to be so cruel, and I should have told her that as soon as she lashed out on the field. I also just...Can I- I mean...” Tobin paused, imagining what it had looked like for Nikki to try to kiss Christen and for Christen to push her away. “I don’t want her to be the last person who tried to kiss you,” Tobin grumbled. 

Christen let out a short, surprised huff at the protective edge in Tobin’s last statement. But she was in complete agreement, she hated that Nikki had gotten so close, had invaded an intimacy that she and Tobin had perfected.

After a beat of silence, Christen scooted just that much closer to Tobin, tilting her head to catch Tobin’s eye. “I don’t want that either,” she whispered, her stomach fluttering and her heart racing and her eyes alight with such raw hope that it made the green shine just a bit brighter.

Tobin lifted her hand and pushed a strand of Christen’s hair behind her ear. With practiced ease, Tobin leaned forward and pressed her lips against Christen’s for the first time since August. It felt like coming home, safe and warm and perfect. She moved her lips gently against Christen’s, wanting her first kiss with Christen after so long to be the complete opposite of the aggressive way Nikki had likely tried to steal a kiss.

Christen knew she whimpered into the kiss but there was nothing she could do about it. There was nothing to do but let the sweetness of the kiss heal every fractured, jagged, broken bit inside of her. She brought a hand up to grip onto the side of Tobin’s neck, never deepening the kiss or changing the meaning behind it. It was a simple, gentle promise, one Christen had wanted to make for a long time, one they were making together now.

Tobin didn’t want to stop the kiss, but she needed to if she was going to get through the rest of her thoughts and order Christen a proper dinner. Christen sighed when Tobin pulled back, fighting off the instinct to chase Tobin’s lips. Instead, she rested her forehead against Tobin’s for a moment, breathing in the familiarity and the love in the air around them. 

“Have I ever told you how good you are at that?” Christen asked, a little breathlessly. She finally blinked her eyes opened and leaned back just slightly, keeping her hand on the side of Tobin’s neck as a luminous smile broke out across her face.

Tobin shook her head softly, a smirk forming on her lips. “It’s all about kissing the right person,” Tobin mumbled. It took everything in her not to reconnect her lips with Christen’s. “So, um, third...I want you to play for a coach who doesn’t seem to fundamentally hate the game. I want you to achieve absolutely everything you can, no matter where that is. Distance sucks, but despite this rocky start, I still think we can do it. I want you to go where you want to go, and if it’s close, then great. If it’s far, I’m gonna get one of those credit cards that wracks up mileage on an airline,” Tobin teased. “I love you and that includes your talent and your ambition and your competitiveness.” 

“I really hope I get to Utah,” Christen said quietly, knowing that Tobin was right on some level. They would be fine and survive distance if she wasn’t able to find a team near the West Coast. They’d survive if she went to Sweden or England or Spain. But she didn’t want to just survive. She wanted to live as close as she could to Tobin, to be able to jet off to see her on her off days, to play for a coach who she knew she loved playing for. “And I love you too, obviously,” she added with a beaming smile, the expression lighting up her face.

“Obviously,” Tobin winked. “And I’m gonna try to make you feel better about sucking at math and give you a fourth thing too,” she added with a soft smile, leaning back into the arm of the couch. “ Obviously , I want to marry you someday. That’s part of forever with you. I kind of figured when we talked about kids our senior year that marriage was part of that.” 

“I know...I just, I just wanted to say it- or, write it. I wanted you to know that just because I lost my way for a second and seriously dropped the ball, that didn’t mean I’d changed my mind about forever,” Christen replied, her cheeks holding a pretty pink blush.

“I’m glad you said it,” Tobin whispered. “But you can’t steal my thunder.”

Christen felt her brow arch as her blush deepened. “ Your thunder?”

“Who says you get to propose when someday comes?” Tobin asked, crossing her arms over her chest. 

“Maybe we should do rock-paper-scissors for it?” Christen teased, trying not to laugh at the almost childlike pout on Tobin’s face.

“No way! I already have a plan,” Tobin argued. 

Christen’s heart fluttered in her chest, a small exhale leaving her parted lips. She blinked a few times, her mind rushing to catch up and process the meaning behind Tobin’s words. 

“You do?” she whispered, her tone soft and a little awestruck.

“Of course,” Tobin nodded. “I’m in love with you, and I said forever. I wasn’t playing around.”

Christen couldn’t sit there any longer, just looking at that lopsided grin and the light in her favorite pair of brown eyes. She surged forward and caught Tobin’s bottom lip between her own, kissing her with every ounce of love and happiness and peace that she felt. They kissed and kissed and kissed against the arm of the couch, getting reacquainted with one another, making silent promises and healing hidden wounds. They kissed until they were both smiling too much to continue. 

“Now, can I buy you dinner?” Tobin asked, catching her breath. She kept her arms wrapped around Christen’s waist, keeping her as close as she possibly could. 

“As long as that dinner includes fries and I get to shower with you after it gets here, I’m all in,” Christen whispered, nuzzling her nose along Tobin’s.


After the best burger and fries Christen had ever had, she let Tobin lead them to the bathroom. Christen stood with her back against the bathroom door, watching as Tobin turned the shower on and got it to the temperature she was looking for. The sound of Tobin humming under her breath had Christen smiling just a bit. The smile didn’t drop as Tobin returned to her side, a mischievous glint in her warm eyes.

“May I?” Tobin asked, tugging at the hem of Christen’s sweatshirt with her left hand. 

“Yes,” Christen breathed, lifting her arms up.

Tobin pulled the sweatshirt off slowly, making sure to move it gently over Christen’s head. She dropped it to the floor before moving her hands to the waistband of Christen’s shorts... her shorts technically. 

Christen nodded again at the silent question on Tobin’s face, her heart melting at the softness in Tobin’s touch, at the care with which Tobin was treating her. 

“You played really well at the game. I meant to tell you that,” Tobin grinned, helping Christen step out of the shorts and tossing them on top of the sweatshirt she’d just discarded. 

“So did you,” Christen replied, reaching out to take the sweatshirt off of Tobin and leaving it in the pile of clothing they were slowly building. She made quick work of the t-shirt as well, dropping it to the floor and then letting her hands settle against Tobin’s ribs. 

With a quick nod from Christen, Tobin delicately pulled off her underwear and sports bra, letting her eyes trail over the woman she’d been missing for months. She kept her hands on Christen’s hips, holding her gently, like she just needed to make sure she was real and actually there. 

Christen didn’t let the scales stay uneven for long. She helped Tobin out of her sports bra and then turned her attention to the sweats. But after dropping them onto the floor, Christen’s eyes fell to Tobin’s legs and let out a small gasp. Her gorgeous girlfriend was littered with bruises all along her shins and ankles and knees.

“What- what happened?” Christen wondered, her voice a little strained as she stepped close to Tobin, as her eyes danced between Tobin’s.

“Oh,” Tobin hummed, glancing down at her legs. The bruises were darker than they had been that morning, a nice reminder that the game hadn’t really turned out like she’d planned. “Uhh...soccer.”

“She did that, didn’t she?” Christen asked quietly, her jaw tightening.

“I have no idea who you’re talking about,” Tobin mumbled, pulling Christen closer. 

“Baby, I-” Christen tried to say.

“No ma’am,” Tobin shook her head. “I don’t need a sorry. It isn’t like you kicked me for 90 minutes straight. They’re only bruises, and they’ll heal.” 

Christen still had a small crinkle between her brows, but she nodded anyway. “They’ll heal,” she repeated softly.

“They will,” Tobin nodded, leaning forward and kissing the worry line between Christen’s eyebrows. “Come on, let’s shower.”

Christen smiled and laced her fingers with Tobin’s, pulling them toward the shower. She took her time settling Tobin beneath the warm spray, pressing gentle kisses to her lips and her cheeks and her forehead. She grabbed the pine-scented body wash from the lip of the shower and gathered some in her hands, running her soapy palms across Tobin’s shoulders, down her arms, over her chest. She continued to press kisses against Tobin’s skin, to her jaw and temple and closed eyelids, as she whispered words of love and washed Tobin languidly. When she was done, she held Tobin under the warm water, hopefully washing away more than just the soap, but the bad memories of the past few days as well. 

“I assume you didn’t bring your shower stuff either,” Tobin grinned, switching their positions and putting Christen under the showerhead. 

“I barely remembered my wallet,” Christen laughed, her cheeks slightly flushed in embarrassment.

“Better to smell like me than sneeze with Allie’s strawberry stuff,” Tobin hummed, squeezing some of her own body wash into her hands and following Christen’s lead. She touched Christen with every ounce of love she felt in her heart. Tobin left a soapy trail up Christen’s legs, along her arms, and across her back. She finished with Christen’s chest, letting her thumbs graze over Christen’s nipples before she innocently washed the soap off her hands. 

Christen narrowed her eyes playfully in Tobin’s direction as she stepped back into the water, rinsing the soap off of her.  “I managed to wash your whole body and not...wander,” Christen teased.

“I guess you don’t find me quite as irresistible as I find you,” Tobin smirked. 

Christen’s eyes darkened, her tongue darting out to wet her lips at the sight of that smirk. She stepped into Tobin’s space, sending Tobin back a step and against the tile wall. She let her eyes trail slowly up and down Tobin’s body, her lower lip pulled between her teeth, her mind cooking up wonderful and sinful images of what their night could hold. She took her time, drawing the moment out, making Tobin start to breathe just a little harder. When she finally looked back into Tobin’s eyes, she was pleasantly surprised to see her pupils blown.

“You know that’s not true,” Christen husked, running her fingertips across Tobin’s stomach, dipping down to trace her hip bones. “You are the most beautiful woman in the world and it’s nearly impossible not to touch you like this all the time.”

Tobin reached out for Christen’s waist, pulling her flush against her body. “Fun fact, I missed you,” she whispered, leaning forward and pressing her lips against Christen’s neck. 

Christen softened, her eyes falling closed and her head lolling to the side to give Tobin more room to work. “Fun fact, I missed you too,” Christen hummed, her arms rising to wrap around Tobin’s shoulders. 

Tobin focused on Christen’s neck, pressing her lips against Christen’s throat, first softly and then with a little more pressure. She trailed her lips down to the base of her neck, nearing Christen’s collarbone, and sucked gently. With each kiss she left, she felt her heart thrum faster in her chest. She wrapped her arms tighter around Christen’s waist, pressing her fingers against Christen’s lower back. 

“I hate the- the disagreements and the fights and the misunderstandings, but baby...is it bad if I kind of love the make-up sex?” Christen whispered, letting out a small groan as she buried a hand in Tobin’s hair.

“It’s the best part,” Tobin husked, lowering one hand to Christen’s ass.

“Can we move this to the bedroom?” Christen grinned, rolling her hips gently into Tobin’s.

Tobin kept Christen close, her right arm staying wrapped around Christen’s waist as she turned the water off. She pulled her towel off of the hook on the back of the door and took her time drying Christen off, letting Christen do the same for her. She then tossed the towel over the shower curtain rod and scooped Christen up off of the floor. 

Christen giggled and wrapped her legs around Tobin’s waist, locking her ankles and resting them against Tobin’s lower back. She kept her arms looped around Tobin’s neck, leaning down to kiss Tobin gently as Tobin walked them away from the shower.

Tobin fumbled with her door, too distracted by Christen’s lips to get it open on the first try. She didn’t bother with the light switch, stumbling into her room and kicking her longboard out of the way as she made her way to the bed. 

Chuckling against Tobin’s lips, Christen pulled out of the kiss, wanting to give Tobin the best chance of getting them safely to bed.

“We’re good,” Tobin laughed, laying Christen down on her bed. 

“Yes, we are,” Christen beamed, watching as Tobin crawled onto the bed and settled on top of her. 

“You’re beautiful,” Tobin whispered, leaning down to kiss Christen’s collarbones. 

Christen tilted her head back against the comforter, sinking into the feeling of Tobin’s lips on her skin. She fisted a hand in the sheets and threaded the other into the hair at the back of Tobin’s head.  She felt like she was on fire, after just a few kisses and touches. She felt like she was burning up from the inside out. She felt like she had to have Tobin touch her now, or she’d die. She was overwhelmed and overstimulated and over everything in the very best way.

“Baby,” Christen whined, pressing her hips up against Tobin’s, begging for relief.

“Mhm,” Tobin mumbled, pressing a kiss to the back of Christen’s jaw before she trailed her lips up to Christen’s ear. 

“Don’t tease,” Christen husked, trying again to gain some friction by pushing her hips up off of the bed.

“You’re impatient,” Tobin whispered, kissing the shell of Christen’s ear softly. 

“I’ve wanted you for six weeks, I’m the opposite of patient right now,” Christen replied, her breathing picking up at the barely-there touches Tobin was leaving with her lips, with her fingertips.

Tobin moved so that her thigh was situated between Christen’s legs before she focused on the other side of Christen’s neck, placing soft kisses and light marks along her skin. She didn’t try to stop Christen from bucking her hips up and into her leg. She didn’t hold her hips down, in order to stop Christen from seeking friction. The noises that left Christen’s lips were too intoxicating to stop her. Instead, Tobin kept her leg still, rooted to the mattress, just where Christen needed it, and lowered her head to place kisses along Christen’s chest. 

“Fuck,” Christen rasped, her hips moving with a mind of their own as she got lost in the feeling of Tobin’s teeth and tongue traversing across her skin.

“What?” Tobin mumbled before she took one nipple in her mouth and swirled her tongue around it. 

“You’re just- You’re-” Christen stammered, trying to work through the fog of pleasure to formulate a response. “-fuck, baby you’re so good at this, and I’m not going to last much longer.”

Tobin pulled her leg away immediately, only keeping her mouth on Christen. She moved one of her hands down to Christen's hips and held her down to the mattress, stopping her from moving. 

Christen let out an exasperated huff, forcing her eyes to open and looking down at Tobin. “Baby, what- why-” she panted.

“One or two?” Tobin asked, moving her mouth up to Christen’s neck again and squeezing Christen’s hip with her hand. 

Christen groaned and dropped her head back to the mattress, heat pooling low in her stomach. The inferno continued to rage inside of her, all but consuming her after hearing those words leave Tobin’s lips.

“Two,” Christen choked out, her chest rising and falling rapidly as she waited for Tobin’s touch to send her hurtling over the edge.

Tobin didn’t hesitate or tease. She didn’t stop to make Christen whine. She moved her hand away from Christen’s hip, down her body until her hand was between Christen’s legs, and she could feel how warm and wet Christen was. She lifted her head, keeping her body hovering above Christen’s, and watched Christen’s face when her two fingers slid easily inside, curling her fingers just slightly, something that Christen always seemed to like. 

Christen loosened her hand from the sheets and grabbed onto the side of Tobin’s face, her hand curling around her jaw. She pressed her forehead against Tobin’s as Tobin worked magic between her legs with deft touches. She forcefully exhaled air into the space between them, unable to catch her breath.

“Kiss me,” Christen choked out, her eyes flying open so she could meet Tobin’s. She was close, dangerously close, and she wanted to be pushed over the edge with Tobin’s lips on hers. “Kiss me, please .”

Tobin would never deny Christen the request. She lowered her body just slightly and pressed her lips to Christen’s, letting her tongue graze across Christen’s lower lip. Christen’s lips moved quickly and forcefully and a little sloppily, but Tobin didn’t mind one bit. She met Christen’s pace with each kiss. She could feel Christen’s body arching up off the bed. She could feel how warm Christen’s skin was getting underneath her own, and she knew that Christen was seconds away from release. 

With a deep, guttural moan that was quickly swallowed by Tobin’s lips, Christen toppled over the edge. She rode the waves of pleasure, over and over again, as Tobin coaxed her through them. Tobin brought her down with gentle kisses and soft whispers full of love, removing her fingers once Christen’s hips had finally settled on the bed.

“Wow,” Christen husked, still trying to figure out which way was up after such a toe-curling, mind-blowing, earth-shattering orgasm.

Tobin sat back on her knees and sucked both of her fingers clean, her eyes never leaving Christen’s face. This was one of her favorite views, and she would never get tired of it. She wanted to memorize every detail: the way Christen’s chest was still heaving with deep breaths, the way her hair was spread across Tobin’s pillows, the way her lips were a darker pink than usual, the way her legs were still twitching with aftershocks, the way her fingers were gripped in the bedsheets. 

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Christen teased, her voice still a little breathless, one eye cracked open to look up at Tobin.

“Really?” Tobin asked, raising her eyebrows. 

Christen flushed and shook her head. She pushed herself up into a sitting position and fixed Tobin with an amused look. “Maybe after I have my turn,” she whispered, wrapping an arm around Tobin’s back and rolling them over so that Tobin was now spread out on the bed beneath her.

Christen hovered over Tobin, a dozen different scenarios running through her mind for how she could make this last, how she could make it pleasurable, how she could make Tobin enjoy it. 

But then she remembered the bruises, and any thoughts of fast or hard or passionate flew out the window. Blinking through the haze that had settled in her mind, Christen stayed hovering over Tobin, her green eyes clearing just a bit.

“What?” Tobin asked, seeing the change in Christen’s eyes. 

“I, uh- I know you’re not broken, just bruised. But I- I want to love you until the bruises don’t hurt anymore. I want to take that pain away if I can,” Christen whispered, her eyes dancing between Tobin’s. 

“Honestly, with you on top of me right now, I forgot they existed,” Tobin said, smiling her soft, lopsided smile. 

“I didn’t,” Christen replied with a sad smile. “I’d like to take my time, to love you and heal you, if that’s okay?”

Tobin nodded, hoping that letting Christen take her time would take away the apology that was likely sitting, unnecessarily, on her lips or the guilt that was just barely present in her eyes still. 

Christen pressed the gentlest kiss to Tobin’s lips before kissing down the hard line of her jaw, down the slope of her neck. She forged a path across Tobin’s collarbones, keeping the brush of her lips soft and delicate, and then moved down her chest. She left barely-there kisses on Tobin’s breasts, on the tensed muscles of her abdomen, on her hip bones. She kissed down the strong muscles of her thighs and paused once she’d reached the first bruise, right above Tobin’s left knee. 

Kneeling on the bed, Christen lowered her mouth to the bruise she’d stumbled upon, trying to heal it with just her lips. She tried to erase it, to erase the pain behind it. She then found the next bruise on Tobin’s right knee cap and gave it the same treatment. She continued her downward path, pressing a gentle kiss to every single bruise she came across. Once she’d reached the last one, she looked up at Tobin through her lashes and lingered with her lips on the bruise. 

“I love you,” Christen whispered, ghosting her lips across Tobin’s left ankle, on the nasty big bruise that had been left there. With that final kiss, with those words, Christen prayed that she’d done everything she could to make up for the mistakes, for the miscommunications, for the missed date nights. She prayed that she’d done enough to earn Tobin’s forgiveness, and her own forgiveness as well. She prayed that she’d helped to close the book on their tumultuous, long-distance challenge and ushered in a new era of love. 

Not giving Tobin a chance to respond, Christen started her slow ascent upward, kissing each bruise again. She made her way back up Tobin’s legs, across her twitching thighs, and settled in between Tobin’s thighs. She slid her arms beneath Tobin’s legs and looked up at her girlfriend, at the undone mess she’d reduced her to.  Christen gently dragged her tongue through the molten heat between Tobin’s legs once, then twice, loving the way Tobin’s hips jolted off the bed, the way broken, choked gasps left Tobin’s lips. 

“Please, Chris,” Tobin whined. She’d been quiet, letting Christen make her way up and down her legs, letting her leave sweet, soft kisses. But now Tobin was dripping and dying for some relief. 

Christen continued her slow ministrations, following her promise to heal Tobin with her touch, to be gentle and loving. She remained unhurried and languid, never applying the kind of pressure Tobin’s twitching hips and strangled gasps begged her to. She never let Tobin’s desperate whines or persistent tugs at the back of her head stray her from the course she’d set out on. Christen was determined to make Tobin come apart with light, tender loving and she wasn’t going to be convinced otherwise. 

“Baby,” Tobin groaned, her voice breaking and wobbly and completely full of desire. 

“Baby,” Christen parroted, running her tongue slowly through Tobin, teasing and torturous.

“You’re killing me,” Tobin choked out, her hips jerking again without her permission. “I’m gonna-”

When Christen spied the flush coloring Tobin’s chest, when the strangled gasps turned into keening whines and broken words, Christen knew Tobin was close. Only then did she apply just the slightest bit more pressure with her tongue. She caressed Tobin over the edge, feeling a thrill run down her spine at the way Tobin gasped out her name. 

Once Tobin’s hips had stopped quivering, Christen kissed her way up Tobin’s stomach and chest, finding her way back to Tobin’s lips. She kissed Tobin softly, so softly, and settled down against Tobin’s chest. 

“I’m very ready to do that for the rest of our lives too,” Christen mumbled against Tobin’s lips, a smile threatening to break out across her face.

Tobin let out a shuddery breath, both from the orgasm and from suddenly having Christen in her arms again. She’d started the day thinking that she might not get that. She’d started the day trying to remember what her last kiss with Christen had been like, unsure if she’d get to kiss her again. 

“Me too,” Tobin huffed, her eyes stinging a little at how perfect and natural and safe it felt to have Christen pressed against her, all of their mistakes and miscommunications in the past. 

“Hey, baby?” Christen whispered, leaning down to drop a kiss on the corner of Tobin’s mouth.

“Yeah?”

“Can we order some more fries?” Christen asked with a sweet smile.


“I’m coming in...my eyes are covered...put some clothes on!” Allie yelled, walking into the apartment with her hand held over her eyes. 

Christen snorted and finished pouring coffee into Tobin’s Arsenal mug. There was no need for the warning. Tobin wasn’t even up yet, so there was no need for the yelling either. 

“You’re safe, Al. I’m dressed and Tobs is asleep,” Christen whispered, stirring milk into Tobin’s coffee, making sure she got it just right.

“You didn’t kiss and makeup and tear Harry’s clothes off?” Allie asked, dropping her hand from her eyes and closing the front door. 

“Why do you think I need the coffee?” Christen teased, arching a brow.

“Good,” Allie huffed out, dropping her backpack onto the floor and sliding into one of the seats at the kitchen island. “She missed you.”

Christen felt a small smile tug at her lips. “I missed her too,” she admitted quietly, grabbing two mugs, one for herself and the other for Allie. “Coffee?”

“Please,” Allie groaned. “Lindsey was out. The heathen thought black tea was a good substitute.”

Christen wrinkled her nose and fake gagged. “That’s a crime ,” she replied, sliding Allie the coffee.

“Hey,” Allie sighed, rubbing her fingers against her temple. 

Christen paused with the almond milk raised over her freshly-poured cup of coffee. “Um, hi?”

“I’m sorry I was a bitch,” Allie breathed out. 

Christen focused on pouring the almond milk for a second. She had taken a lot of time to think about this too, how Allie had treated her. She was still upset, still mad. And even though Allie had apologized a bit last night, it didn’t erase everything she had and hadn’t done.

“I was being protective over Tobin because I live with her and I see her hurt every day. She’s my best friend, but in all my protective best friend behavior...I forgot that you’re my friend too. I should have called you and talked to you firsthand. I should have checked in with you, and I definitely shouldn’t have told you off in the hotel lobby,” Allie said, looking at Christen with sincere eyes. 

“I hear you and I appreciate you saying that. I’m glad you were trying to be there for Tobin, even if you didn’t do it in the right way, but next time...give us the space to mess up and fix it ourselves. I’d really like to not have a repeat of getting booted out of the lobby by hotel staff,” Christen chuckled, taking a sip of her coffee.

“Yeah, not my finest moment. Tobin hit me with a pillow to wake me up and yell at me for not letting you up,” Allie sighed. 

“I knew I loved that girl,” Christen winked, picking up Tobin’s mug. “I’m going to go wake her up, but I appreciated this. I missed you too, ya know?”

Allie stood up from her seat and nearly sloshed coffee out of the two cups Christen was holding with the force of her hug. “I missed you too, C.P., and I love you, I’m sorry I didn’t show it.”

Christen just nodded, unable to really hug Allie back because of the coffee cups, but doing her best anyway. She then stepped out of the hug, offered Allie one final smile, and padded back over to Tobin’s room. 

She gently crossed the hardwood floor, setting both of their mugs down on Tobin’s bedside table. She then dropped onto the edge of the bed, grinning at the sight before her. 

Tobin was fast asleep, face-down on the bed. The sheets were pooled low around her hips, leaving her bare back and shoulders exposed. Her messy waves were carelessly flung across a pillow, and deep breaths escaped her parted lips. Christen always loved how Tobin looked so peaceful when she was asleep, how the worry lines on her forehead were relaxed and any and all tension was gone. She always wanted Tobin to feel this peaceful, this safe, especially when she was awake.

Christen leaned down and pressed a series of kisses up Tobin’s spine, keeping them gentle and unhurried, wanting to wake Tobin up slowly. She kissed across her shoulders and her neck, then moved down to ghost her lips across Tobin’s back once more. 

“Mmmm,” Tobin mumbled, just barely slipping out of the dream she’d been having. For a second, Tobin had forgotten about Christen flying to Portland. She didn’t feel Christen’s body beside hers, and she wondered if it had all been a dream, but the soft kisses that were placed on her back helped her crash more quickly back into reality. 

“Good morning, baby,” Christen whispered into Tobin’s skin, crawling onto the bed and settling gently on top of Tobin, her front on Tobin's back, propping her chin up on Tobin’s shoulder.

“This is my favorite way to wake up,” Tobin whispered, her voice low and hoarse. “Except this part,” Tobin mumbled, reaching back to tug at the t-shirt and boxers Christen had put on. 

“You don’t exactly live alone, and I wanted to bring you coffee in bed, so,” Christen hummed, pressing a kiss to Tobin’s shoulder and then moving off of Tobin’s back. 

“Noooo, come back,” Tobin pouted. “Harry isn’t here.”

Christen chuckled, getting off the bed. She grabbed the mugs and walked around to the other side of the bed, settling down cross-legged on the mattress and fixing Tobin with a sweet look.

“She’s out there, and definitely didn’t need to see my boobs again while I made you your coffee,” Christen replied, holding out the coffee cup for Tobin.

“No one else needs to see those,” Tobin murmured, rolling onto her side to look at Christen. “Thank you for the coffee.”

“Just you baby. And I’ll always make you coffee,” Christen grinned, sipping her coffee slowly as she all but drank in the vision that was Tobin Heath, topless in bed, hair mussed, with love swirling around in her brown eyes.

“Can I take you on an in-person date today?” Tobin asked, squirming closer to Christen in bed and laying her arm across Christen’s hips. 

“Do you have training or anything? I guess I didn’t really think about your schedule when I jumped on a plane,” Christen grimaced slightly, reaching out to run her fingertips across Tobin’s shoulder.

“Recovery training,” Tobin hummed. “Wanna come?” 

“I don’t think a Red Star is allowed to train with the Thorns, baby,” Christen teased.

“You can watch,” Tobin shrugged. “If you want.”

“Hmmm...getting to watch you run around on the field, with the ball at your feet, knowing I’m the reason your legs are a little shaky after having my way with you this morning? How could I possibly say no?” Christen replied with a coy smile.

“You’re gonna have to take the boxers and shirt off if you plan on having your way with me,” Tobin husked, running her fingers along the waistband of the boxers. 

“And you’re going to have to finish your coffee,” Christen quipped, the muscles in her stomach tightening at the feeling of Tobin’s touch.


“You guys can stop hiding behind the wall, I know you’re there,” Christen called out, stifling a laugh as she saw Sonnett, Lindsey, and A.D. scramble back behind the wall. She was waiting near the entrance to the Thorns training facility, at one end of a long tunnel. From where she was standing, it was just too easy to see the three players who weren’t hiding that well behind the wall.

“Shit, Lindsey!” Sonnett whined when Lindsey shoved her out from behind the wall first. 

“Sorry, Christen! We’re not spying, we swear,” A.D. said with a bashful smile, pulling Lindsey and Sonnett down the tunnel toward where Christen was standing. 

“Hey, Pressy!” Lindsey said, stepping forward to put an arm around Christen’s shoulders. 

“I thought we were mad at her,” Sonnett whispered. 

“I’m sorry, did you not see Tobin today?” Lindsey snorted. “She was shitting rainbows.”

Christen blushed, smiling at Tobin’s friends and wrapping her arm around Lindsey as well. “It’s good to see you guys again. Sorry about the way the game went the other day,” she added with a sigh, wrinkling her nose a bit.

“Yeah, your teammate was kind of a bit-” Sonnett said, getting interrupted by A.D.’s elbow in her ribs. 

“A total bitch,” Christen agreed with a laugh, surprising even herself at the lack of bitterness in her words. 

“We’re glad you’re here,” A.D. said, offering a smile. “We’d make you a Thorn right now if we could.”

“I’m glad I’m here too. Thanks for taking good care of her when I couldn’t be here. I’m glad she has all of you,” Christen grinned. “And don’t tempt me, I can rock a black and red jersey!”

“Toby’s kind of a handful, so it’s nice to get a break for the weekend,” Sonnett teased. 

“A what?” Tobin asked, stepping out of the locker room and into the tunnel. 

“Sonny thinks you're a handful. I consider you a nuisance at best, and A.D. thinks you’re pretty cool,” Lindsey replied with a wink.

“A.D. is my only friend,” Tobin sighed, moving past her friends and straight to Christen. 

“Well I think you’re the best, do I win?” Christen replied, wrapping an arm around Tobin’s waist.

“You always win,” Tobin nodded. 

Sonnett gagged, getting another jab from A.D.’s elbow. Lindsey just shook her head with a smile.

“You want to head out?” Tobin asked, rubbing her hand along Christen’s lower back. 

“Maybe we can all go out for breakfast tomorrow before I leave?” Christen said, turning to look at A.D., Sonnett, and Lindsey. 

“Hell, yes!” Allie called from down the tunnel. 

Christen gave Allie a small nod and then tugged Tobin toward the entrance. “You looked great out there today,” Christen hummed. 

“Thank you,” Tobin said, a light blush slipping onto her cheeks. 

“Little wobbly on your legs though,” Christen smirked, leaning into Tobin’s side a bit more and pressing a kiss to her temple.

The blush darkened into a red, but Tobin didn’t care. She loved that she could feel the effects of a long night and morning with Christen. She opened the passenger’s side door of the truck for Christen and held her hand out for her to get in. 

Christen’s heart fluttered at the gesture. They’d done this a million times at UCLA, but they hadn’t been able to do it recently. So it felt like the sweetest combination of nostalgic and new, making butterflies erupt in Christen’s stomach. 

“We haven’t done this in a while,” Christen hummed, hopping into the passenger’s seat with the help of Tobin.

“I know,” Tobin grinned, leaning into the cab of the truck to press a kiss to Christen’s lips. “Frank missed you.”

“I’m sure. I don’t think he’s totally forgiven me for that blown tire incident,” Christen laughed, wiping a bit of Chapstick off of Tobin’s mouth.

“Are you kidding me? He totally did that on purpose to give us a few more minutes together,” Tobin winked, shutting the door and jogging around to her side of the car. 

“So, where to?” Christen asked, pivoting in the bench seat to face Tobin, her hand falling to Tobin’s thigh.

“Somewhere fun,” Tobin winked, keeping her lips tightly sealed. 

“Are you taking me on an adventure, Tobin Heath?” Christen asked, her eyes narrowed playfully.

“I guess…” Tobin hummed. “It’ll be a familiar adventure.”

“As long as it’s with you,” Christen grinned.

“Always,” Tobin nodded, while she backed out of the parking spot and reached down to place her hand on Christen’s. 


“Can I look now ?” Christen grumbled, keeping her hand over her eyes. Her tone might have sounded a little annoyed, but she was anything but. She was enjoying the giddiness she could hear in Tobin’s voice as they got closer to their destination. She was happy, impossibly happy, and she had a feeling wherever they ended up, would just make her even more so.

“No,” Tobin grinned. She pulled the keys out of the ignition and slipped out of the truck. 

“Are you leaving me?” Christen laughed, itching to drop her hand and peek.

Tobin pulled open the passenger door and immediately pressed a kiss to Christen’s jaw. “You can look, I guess. It isn’t very original.”

Christen dropped her hand and immediately melted. “The ice rink?” she asked breathlessly, turning to look at Tobin with a small smile on her face.

“When in Portland, right?” Tobin said, scratching at the back of her neck. 

“I knew you wore the Mighty Ducks snapback for a reason today,” Christen giggled, sliding out of the truck. She wrapped her arms around Tobin’s waist and pressed a kiss to the side of her throat.

“I don’t need a reason to wear this,” Tobin defended, pointing up at the hat. “This is peak fashion.”

“It’s...something,” Christen chuckled, keeping her face pressed into the crook of Tobin’s neck.

“Well, I didn’t have a ton of time to plan a date, so we don’t have the rink to ourselves. It’s a free skate day,” Tobin said.

Christen leaned back, an amused glint in her green eyes. “So multiple people are going to witness you falling on your perfect ass?”

Tobin’s mouth flopped open for a second before she could respond. “I should have thought about that. I guess we’ll go somewhere else,” she teased. 

“Nope. I won’t let you fall,” Christen whispered, nuzzling her nose along Tobin’s gently. “I promise.”

“And I won’t let you freeze,” Tobin said, reaching into the back of the truck for the extra sweatshirts she’d brought for them to wear inside. “You want a beanie?” 

Christen stubbornly wanted to say no...but she knew it was going to be cold in there. So she nodded, not moving her arms from around Tobin’s waist, forcing Tobin to put it on for her. Tobin placed her orange beanie onto Christen’s head, kissing the tip of her nose when it was situated. “Camp Woodchuck or Penn State?” Tobin smirked, grabbing the two sweatshirts she kept in her truck. 

“Those my only two choices?” Christen teased.

Tobin rolled her eyes. “I brought a UCLA one too if you want.”

“No need, I’ll take the Penn State one. I’ve already worn the sweatpants...might as well make it a matching set,” Christen winked, unwinding her arms from around Tobin to grab the faded, worn navy blue Penn State sweatshirt and pull it on.

“I wore that one all the time when I was a freshman, messaging you on Instagram because you hadn’t given me your number yet,” Tobin winked. 

Christen burrowed into the sweatshirt with a smile. “You’re adorable,” she hummed, leaning forward to kiss Tobin quickly. “And I love you.”

“I love you,” Tobin mumbled while pulling the Camp Woodchuck sweatshirt on over her head. 


“I can get you one of those helper things,” Christen giggled, feeling Tobin slip on the ice again and fighting to keep them both upright. 

“I thought you were my helper?” Tobin huffed, struggling to move her skates forward on the ice. 

“I might be good, but I’m no miracle worker,” Christen teased, stifling a laugh when a bunch of little 10-year-olds zoomed by them, looking far more comfortable on the ice than Tobin did.

“Looking good!” one of the 10-year-olds laughed as he passed. 

Christen buried her face in Tobin’s shoulder, praying her laughter was muffled by the Camp Woodchuck sweatshirt.

“Baby, I can feel you laughing,” Tobin snorted. 

“I’m sorry!” Christen grinned. “It’s just...you’re so good at so many things. It’s a little refreshing to have finally found that one thing you’re only above-average at.”

“This isn’t above average,” Tobin grumbled, watching as her legs wobbled underneath her. “I suck at skating, but you’re really good at it, and you look happy when you’re skating, even if it’s only over a millimeter of ice at a time and holding me up.”

“Together we make it above-average. We balance each other out,” Christen replied. “Now do you want to try going backward?” Christen asked, waggling her eyebrows as she moved around to face Tobin, skating backward herself as she kept a firm grip on Tobin’s forearms.

Tobin burst out laughing and held tighter to Christen’s waist. “No, thank you.”

“It’s really fun...and it would seal the deal on your above-average status,” Christen reasoned, trying to stoke the flames of Tobin’s competitiveness. 

“I don’t have an extra pair of jeans in the car,” Tobin warned. 

“You don’t need them,” Christen said innocently.

“I will when I wipe out and completely cover myself in ice,” Tobin argued. 

“No baby, you won’t need them because they won’t be on you much longer,” Christen smirked.

Tobin’s grin fell, her jaw dropping a little bit. 

“I can’t believe I can still do that,” Christen laughed, shaking her head slightly as she continued to skate backward and pull them slowly around the ice rink.

“Have you met yourself? I’d turn into freaking Apollo Ohno if it meant getting off this ice and getting you alone,” Tobin smirked. 

“That’s who you went with? What about Michelle Kwan or Tessa Virtue?” Christen teased, loosening her grip just a bit as she felt Tobin start to get a little stronger on her skates. Only, Tobin hadn’t realized it yet, because they were so engrossed in the teasing.

“Whoever you want, baby,” Tobin grinned. “This isn’t our date, though.”

Christen arched a brow, loosening her grip a little bit more. She was barely holding onto Tobin now, and Tobin still hadn’t noticed. 

“Where are we going?” Christen asked with a surprised smile.

“Secret,” Tobin whispered. “It’s a little bit of a drive, if that’s okay?”

“I love driving with you,” Christen nodded. “And I have a secret too…”

“What’s that?” Tobin asked. 

Christen lifted her hands the last bit of the way off of Tobin’s arms. “You’re skating by yourself baby, you have been for the last half lap!”

It took all of five seconds and one glance down at her own feet for Tobin to completely lose her balance and start to topple on her skates. She lunged forward and wrapped her arms around Christen’s waist. 

Christen squealed and slipped on the ice, sending them both tumbling down to the frozen surface with a chorus of laughter.

“Sorry,” Tobin cringed, moving her hand along Christen’s arms and back and head to make sure she was okay. 

Christen simply leaned forward and kissed Tobin gently. “None of those are allowed today,” she mumbled against Tobin’s lips. After kissing her once more, she pulled them back to their feet, Tobin a little more unsteady than she was.

“Have I told you that you skating backward is really sexy?” Tobin asked. 

“No...but you did mention something about me in one of those figure skating outfits last time we were here,” Christen teased, brushing the ice off of Tobin’s sweatshirt.

“Oh my god,” Tobin groaned. “What a horny kid.”

“Still are,” Christen winked, pulling them across the ice. “Now let’s get you off the ice. Wouldn’t want those jeans to get any worse,” she added with a smile and a teasing lilt to her voice.


Tobin parked the truck and unbuckled her seatbelt, turning to face Christen with a grin. She stuck their leftover takeout box of dessert on the dashboard and reached over to unbuckle Christen’s seatbelt too. She was way too excited to sit still, and she knew Christen could see it. 

“Last stop,” Tobin hummed, feeling full and happy. 

“Right in time for the sunset,” Christen replied with a beaming smile. Tobin’s excitement was just infectious.

“Of course,” Tobin nodded. “We missed the sunrise this morning, so I knew we had to catch one.”

“I mean, did we? I thought we were pretty awake at that time,” Christen winked.

“I wasn’t looking at it, though. I was a little busy if you remember,” Tobin smirked. 

“As if I could forget,” Christen replied softly, tucking a strand of Tobin’s hair behind her ear and trailing her fingertip down Tobin’s jaw.

“You want to go on a walk?” Tobin asked, reaching out for one of Christen’s hands. 

Christen laced her fingers with Tobin’s and let Tobin pull her out of the car, down toward the beach. They both toed off their shoes and socks and carried them, walking into the sand, both of them letting out twin sighs at the feeling.

The sun was just starting to dip below the horizon, painting the sky with swirls of purple, pink, and burnt orange. The golden rays played off the crashing waves, making the ocean shine.

“I’ve wanted to visit Cannon Beach since I moved here,” Tobin hummed. 

“It’s beautiful,” Christen replied, leaning into Tobin’s side, moving her hand out of Tobin's and up to the crook of her elbow. 

“I thought you might like to say hello to the Pacific Ocean while you’re here. A little piece of home,” Tobin said, knocking her hip into Christen’s. 

Christen felt her heart stutter in her chest, clenching at the sweet, thoughtful gesture. She wondered fleetingly if Tobin doing things like this would always make her feel so overcome with love it nearly made her collapse. She had a feeling she’d be weak at the knees thanks to thoughtful moments like this for the rest of her life. 

“I- I hadn’t even thought about it, but...yeah. I’d love to,” Christen managed to say, her voice thick with emotion as tears pricked the corners of her eyes.

“I mean...we can say hello from here. It’s probably really cold,” Tobin laughed. 

Christen shook her head and redirected them down to the shore. “I’ve had enough distance,” Christen replied with a small smile, not talking about the Pacific Ocean in the slightest.

Tobin’s laugh only grew when Christen practically squealed at the freezing water. She wrapped her arms around Christen and held her, keeping everything but their numb feet warm. 

“It’ll be nice to go to a warmer beach in November,” Tobin said through slightly chattering teeth. 

“Are you finally taking me to Hawaii?” Christen teased, shivering in Tobin’s arms. 

“You know...we could,” Tobin shrugged. “Maybe for Christmas or your birthday or Valentine’s Day?” 

Christen walked them backward out of the water, having had enough of the freezing feeling the Pacific Ocean was giving her. 

“We could,” Christen agreed, her smile growing at the thought of an uninterrupted vacation with Tobin, spent on a beach in very little clothing.

“I love you,” Tobin sighed, stopping Christen from walking further with a tug on her hand. 

Christen scrunched her brows slightly at the way Tobin pulled them to a stop. “I love you too,” she replied, the words leaving her lips like they were the easiest words to say in the world...because they were. 

“Can I kiss you?” Tobin asked, a smile growing on her lips. 

Softening, Christen nodded and stepped closer. Tobin reached out for Christen’s waist, guiding her even closer. Each kiss with Christen felt different and special. Some were heated and fast, others slow and passionate. As soon as Tobin’s lips met Christen’s, this one felt healing. It felt like a promise. It felt like coming home. The kiss started with gentle, intentional brushes of lips and tongues. Just one brush of Christen’s tongue into Tobin’s mouth made it a little more intense. They were alone on their stretch of beach, wrapped up in each other’s arms and completely oblivious to the rest of the world. Time didn’t exist. Chicago and Portland didn’t exist. Soccer didn’t even exist in that tiny moment. It was just them, and nothing else mattered. 

Christen was so lost in the feeling of Tobin’s lips on her own, so caught up in the way the kiss tasted of promise and forever and today, not someday, she barely noticed her phone buzzing in the front sweatshirt pocket.

“Baby?” Tobin mumbled. 

“Nope,” Christen husked, leaning back into the kiss. She buried a hand in the hair at the back of Tobin’s head, the other sliding across Tobin’s jaw. She wasn’t ready for the kiss to be done yet, she wasn’t even close to ready.

Tobin smiled against Christen’s lips, loving how much Christen loved her and feeling that love in each and every kiss and touch. It wasn’t until the phone buzzed again that Tobin started to wonder if it was an important call. If something were going wrong, if there were an emergency, Christen would want to answer it. 

“Chris, it might be important,” Tobin whispered. “It could be your mom.”

With a sigh, Christen pulled back and looked into Tobin’s eyes, her breath coming out a little faster than normal. “If it’s my mom, I’m sending her to voicemail.”

“It could be my mom,” Tobin added. 

Christen’s eyes widened and all but wrenched her phone out of her pocket, whatever slight irritation that had been running through her at the fact that her phone chose to buzz right now melting away. But when she looked down at the phone screen, it wasn’t Cindy Heath calling. It was Coach Foudy. 

Christen felt her brow furrow and her stomach tighten with anticipation. She looked between the phone and Tobin, almost too scared to pick up the call, too scared to know what Foudy was going to say.

Tobin leaned over Christen’s phone to get a good look at the screen. “See it’s important,” Tobin said, keeping her voice calm since she could see Christen’s nerves building. 

Christen blew out a short, nervous breath and reached down with her free hand to grip tightly onto Tobin’s. 

“What if she says she couldn’t do it?” Christen whispered, the phone still buzzing in her hand.

“Then, we’ll find somewhere else for you to go,” Tobin promised. 

Christen nodded, the phone shaking in her outstretched hand. 

“You want to sit?” Tobin asked. “I’ll hold you.”

“Please,” Christen breathed out.

Tobin sat down on the dry sand and spread her legs so that Christen could sit in front of her and lean back into her chest. She helped Christen down to the ground, all the while whispering supportive words. 

Only once Tobin’s arms had wrapped around her middle and Tobin had given her a kiss on the back of her neck, did Christen answer the phone, putting it on speaker.

“Hey Coach,” Christen greeted, hating that her voice sounded so tight and high-pitched.

“I thought I might miss you,” Foudy said. 

“We’re at the beach and I wasn’t looking at my phone, but you’ve got me now,” Christen replied, her free hand finding one of Tobin’s and clinging to it.

“Well, I read your email,” Foudy started. “I’m glad you found some time to visit Tobin and take a quick break from Chicago.”

“I’m glad too,” Christen hummed, Foudy’s drawn-out sentences doing little to quell the raging storm of nerves within her.

“How’s she doing?” Foudy asked. 

“Ask her yourself, she’s sitting right here,” Christen laughed, holding up the phone and angling it a bit so Tobin could be heard clearly as well.

“Hey, Heath!” Foudy called from the phone. “How’s it going?” 

“Uh...it’s going great,” Tobin said, almost laughing at how awkward it was talking on the phone with Foudy when Christen was having a nervous breakdown in her arms. “How about you? What’s got you calling on a Saturday evening?” 

“See, Heath gets straight to the point, doesn’t she?” Foudy laughed. 

“That she does,” Christen chuckled weakly, hoping Tobin’s bluntness would pay off right now and get Foudy talking.

“Well, I read your email right after I got off the phone with the staff here at Utah. Funnily enough, I was going to email you, but after reading your email, I decided calling with the good news might be better,” Foudy said.  

“Good news?” Christen clarified, her entire body tensing as a stubborn burst of hope shot through her chest.

“Well, you and Tobin have to swear to secrecy right now, since this won’t be public knowledge for a few months,” Foudy warned. 

“The only person I would tell is her,” Christen replied, her breath picking up just a bit.

“My lips are sealed,” Tobin laughed, burying her face into Christen’s neck. 

“Heath?” Foudy asked. “I’m no dummy, so I know you and Press were dating the entire time I coached you.”

“...okay,” Tobin said, tightening her grip on Christen. 

Christen blushed furiously, wondering what the hell that had anything to do with whether she would be going to play for Utah next season.

“I guess I was just wondering how you think she’ll look in yellow?” Foudy asked, clearly smiling on the other line. 

“Seriously?” Christen blurted, that stubborn burst of hope inside of her exploding and filling her up completely.

“We traded Chicago our first-round draft pick and one of our older players for you,” Foudy said. “You’ll be moving to Salt Lake City for preseason in the spring.”

Christen removed her hand from Tobin’s and covered her mouth with it, holding in the choked, grateful sob that threatened to leave her lips. She couldn’t even respond, too overwhelmed with the turn of events of the last 24 hours. She was getting out of Chicago. She wouldn't have to play for Duncan anymore. She’d get to play for Foudy again. She’d be 772.1 miles from Portland. She was going to be closer to Tobin. A few tears escaped from behind her tightly shut eyes, falling down her cheeks.

“She seems excited,” Tobin said, her voice a little wobbly. She pressed her lips to the top of Christen’s head. 

“Well, we’ve traded for another player, and I was thinking about suggesting you two room together if you’re in need of one to split rent with,” Foudy continued. 

“Who?” Tobin asked, her voice immediately changing. 

Christen tensed at the sound of Tobin’s voice, leaning back into her slightly as her tears continued to silently fall.

“She’s a little loud and sometimes a little obnoxious, but you’ll never be bored,” Foudy laughed. 

“Kelley?” Christen managed, sniffling a bit.

“The obnoxious gave it away didn’t it?” Foudy asked. “Yeah, we traded for her as well. Gotta keep up our good defensive line too. I thought you two might be able to help each other out as new players on the team." 

A fresh sob almost left Christen’s lips. She wasn’t just going to a new team, she was going to a new team with one of her best friends by her side. It felt like too much and she wasn’t sure how much longer she was going to be able to keep it somewhat together.

“Thank you,” Christen choked out, the tears clear in her voice to everyone listening.

“Thank you, ” Foudy said. “I need you and O’Hara. I’m aiming to beat Portland in the Challenge Cup.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Tobin mumbled, keeping her lips pressed against Christen’s shoulder. 

“I’m still gonna email you and your agent some information. Chicago already knows, obviously,” Foudy said. “But I’ll let you two enjoy the beach.”

“Thank you,” Tobin said, realizing that Christen couldn’t answer right now. She said goodbye to Foudy for the both of them and hung up the phone.

“You okay, baby?” Tobin chuckled, her heart feeling a million times lighter, knowing that Christen was about to be in a healthier environment with an amazing coach and a best friend. 

Christen nodded, completely surrendering herself to Tobin’s arms and letting the tears fall.  “I’m more than okay,” Christen replied, her voice thick. “I’m so much more than okay.”

“Hey, you know how long the flight is gonna be to you?” Tobin mumbled. 

With a shake of her head, Christen used the sleeve of the sweatshirt to wipe her eyes.

“Less than two hours,” Tobin whispered, pressing a kiss to Christen’s temple. 

Blowing out a wobbly breath, Christen tilted her head and pressed her lips to the underside of Tobin’s jaw. “Oh thank god,” she breathed.

“That’s like a regular daily commute in L.A.,” Tobin teased. 

Christen let out a wet chuckle, her lips still ghosting across Tobin’s throat and jaw. “As long as you’re waiting for me, it’ll be worth it,” Christen replied, turning her attention back out to the water. 

Together, with their hands clasped and their eyes full of tears, they watched the sun continue to set, the kaleidoscope of colors in the sky carrying with it the promise of forever.