Christen is married.
That’s something everyone knows.
It’s common knowledge among the fans, the teams and anyone involved with women’s soccer, who knows even a little about Christen.
What the fans don’t know, is who she’s married to.
It’s been years since Christen first joined the starting line up with Heath written on her jersey instead of Press.
Eight years to be precise.
And if that isn’t enough to confirm it, the rings on her left hand definitely are.
The team knows, of course. They were the first people to congratulate her she got engaged and they were also the first people to turn up at her wedding.
It isn’t even that Christen doesn’t want the fans to know, she’s simply a private person, who never displays her relationship on social media platforms.
She much prefers keeping her private life private and being asked questions about it, just wanting to live her life.
That’s where the media comes in.
Christen wants to be known for her soccer career, meaning she only wants to be known for her playing.
She doesn’t need the media to know about her personal life or to spread rumours about her family and publish it for everyone to see. She doesn’t need to be asked about her personal life, just for her words to be twisted and used for some clickbait.
She wants the fans' opinions on her to come from her performance on the pitch and her personal interactions with them, not from whatever the media publishes about her.
This is why she’s extra cautious with her responses every time she meets new journalists. Over the years, she’s known what to expect from certain journalists, but the new ones are always unpredictable.
“Have we got any more questions?” Crystal asks from her place on the post-match press conference table.
They just played England in their second game of the Shebelieves Cup, walking away with a five to nothing victory.
A woman towards the back of the room raises her hand. Once she’s got the microphone, she directs her question.
“How will tonight’s routine look for the team after such a big win? Will you celebrate at all?” She wonders, as Christen and Crystal look over to Becky, silently encouraging her to take this one.
“I think in any tournament, especially ones where the level of competition is so high and the games are only a few days apart, including travel, you don’t focus on celebrating.” Becky explains after a moment. “Of course, we’re super happy to walk away with a win today and I think our play in today’s game was down to the effort and work we've been putting in over the past few months.”
“Our main focus is going to be resting, recovering and preparing for the next game, so we can look at the big picture of aiming to win this tournament. Then we can focus on celebrating.” She finishes talking, looking back at the journalist.
Once the journalist is satisfied with the answer she received, she passes the microphone back to the staff, who then hands it over to a male sitting near the front.
“Christen, I have a question for you.” He announces after introducing himself as Jackson.
Christen nods, acknowledging him and waiting to hear what he has to say.
“I know that obviously there are other players on this team who are also in relationships and marriages, but what’s married life like as a professional soccer player? I have no doubt that the distance and travelling can have quite a toll on relationships, and even make them unhealthy, so is that why you keep yours from the public? To prevent the fans from seeing just how much effort it takes to be with someone and how much work you have to put in to actually avoid arguments when you’re not in the same place?” Christen’s eyebrows shoot up as her eyes go wide at the question.
Is he really asking me that? Out of all of the people in this building, he had to ask me?
She scoffs almost silently, being reminded of exactly why she’s never publicly announced her relationship.
Just because she doesn’t post about it, doesn’t mean her relationship isn’t real.
In fact, her relationship has never been anything but healthy, supportive and loving. Sure, they're miles away from each other a lot of the time, but they’re also their own people.
They’re both focusing on their careers as individuals and cherishing whatever time they get together, before they’re separated again and can only see each other through a phone display screen.
They know that their time will come, a time where they’re together every day of the year and get a chance to make up for lost time, but for now, their relationship is the way it is. They can’t change it without giving up their dreams and what they hope to achieve in their career and one thing they have always focused on is being themselves and accomplishing their goals.
Of course they have goals and dreams that they want to accomplish together, but before that, they want to get their individual ones ticked off. And currently they’re doing just that, while still having the other by their side.
But never once did either of them think about leaving each other or not fully committing to it, despite the highs and lows they’ve faced. They also have their struggles and fights, just like any other couple, but they’re always quick to talk about it and push any unsettled feelings away.
Crystal leans over, whispering in her ear when she gets over the shock of the question. “You don’t have to answer that, Chris. It’s none of his business and he shouldn't be asking you about your personal life anyway.”
Becky places her hand on Christen’s thigh, giving it a reassuring squeeze when she notices that Christen won’t be answering that question.
“I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but we aren’t here to discuss our personal lives. Each and every one of us are living a completely different life and we prefer to keep them private. This is a press conference about the game we just played, not about how we choose to live our lives.” Becky speaks up, answering for Christen. “Since you’re so concerned, you can be glad to hear that I can assure you that the distance and travelling involved in our job is not an issue in any of our relationships.”
“Which should really be common sense, because we wouldn’t get into relationships and marriages where the distance would be an issue. Now if you’d please excuse us, I think we’re done here.” She stands up from her chair, waiting for Crystal and Becky to do the same.
When they walk out of the door and into the hallway, Christen’s back hits the wall. She takes a deep breath, trying not to get annoyed or angry at the fact that this single question just ruined her day.
Crystal places both hands on her shoulder, squeezing them, before pulling Christen into a hug. “He had no right to ask you that, Chris. He’s just one of those idiots.”
“I miss her so much.” She lets out through a deep sigh.
Crystal and Becky just nod. “I know you do. She might be miles away, but she’s still with you and supporting you.”
“Let’s get showered and head back to the hotel, so you can call her, okay?” Becky encourages, tugging Christen towards the locker room.
They patiently wait for Christen to get ready, so they can navigate their way towards the bus, which is now waiting for them.
Christen clearly can’t get the question out of her mind anymore.
This is one of the main reasons why Christen doesn’t talk about her relationship.
She doesn’t want everyone to know the small details about her relationship. Those are the moments and memories she cherishes the most, which are also private and no one’s business.
The other reason why she doesn’t tell anyone is because Tobin is in the military.
Speaking to Tobin through her phone screen or texting her is their only way of communication when she’s deployed, apart from the letters they love to send to each other.
Tobin being deployed seems to be more often than she’s home, especially over the past three years.
She’s currently on an eighteen month deployment, still having another six months before she’s able to come home.
Last Christen had been the first time in their eight year marriage and ten year relationship that Tobin wasn’t with her for the holiday season.
It was incredibly difficult on Christen, especially when she’s so aware that every single day, there’s a chance it could be Tobin’s last.
She was on FaceTime with Tobin for as long as possible on Christmas Day, still having both the Heath and Press families together at her parents’ home in Southern California.
It’s a tradition for them, mainly due to the limited time they all get to spend with Tobin, and she knows that her wife was just as upset about being away. The older woman had tried to get a short leave, even if it would have only been for a few days, but she was denied it when eight other soldiers of their troop would already be missing.
They’re hopeful that they can spend next Christmas together again though, also knowing that it’ll be an opportunity for them to have an early celebration for their tenth wedding anniversary.
When Christen and Tobin first met, they were in College.
They met at one of Christen’s college games, after they got introduced by one of Christen’s teammates, who was also Tobin’s friend. At the time, Christen was in her sophomore year and Tobin in her junior year. Less than a year later, Tobin asked Christen on their first date.
Crystal was one of the first people to know, being Christen’s roommate at the time.
Since that day, Crystal has not only been best friends with Christen, but also built a close relationship with Tobin.
They may not be in contact much when Tobin is deployed, apart from the odd Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas text messages, but they always have a great time together and tend to pick off right from where they left off, whenever they see each other.
When Tobin proposed to Christen, it was at the beach in Palos Verdes on an early morning walk with the dogs. Tobin knew that this would mean more to Christen than a fancy restaurant proposal or a big set up, but she also couldn’t help herself in the moment.
She couldn’t wait any longer.
At the time, it had been six months since Tobin graduated and they were spending a week out of Christen’s senior year in the Press household.
Their wedding was also a small set up, on a private beach in California. The only people that attended their wedding were their families, Christen’s teammates, and their closest friends.
Tobin’s first deployment followed soon after the wedding.
Now, after over seven and a half years of Tobin being in the military, people tend to expect Christen to be more than used to Tobin being deployed and not at home.
She scoffs every time someone mentions this to her, questioning how you could ever get used to potentially losing the love of your life every day.
But since Christmas, this year seems to be hitting her harder than ever and she constantly finds herself missing Tobin’s presence - more so than usual. She’s usually good at keeping herself distracted throughout the day, but no matter how many times she meditates and goes through her yoga routine, it never seems enough.
Even if she’s been on the phone to Tobin five minutes prior to a conversation about the woman, she would feel the need to call her again and reassure herself that her wife is still alive and healthy.
Crystal quickly picked up on this a few months ago and always ensures that Christen calls Tobin when she’s upset. If Tobin can’t talk at that time, then she supports her friends and helps her take her mind off her worries, as much as possible.
Everyone on the team loves Tobin and just wants her to be safe.
The third and final match of the Shebelieves Cup creeps up on them in the blink of an eye.
Christen wakes up that morning with an unsettled feeling in her stomach.
She follows her usual morning routine, but something feels off when she opens her phone at midday and there’s still no sign of Tobin.
No phone call.
No FaceTime call.
It’s a routine for them on game day.
Tobin will call Christen to check on her, settling her nerves for the game and offering words of encouragement, before finding a dodgy website to watch a live stream of the game.
“Crys?” Christen fidgets with her phone, sitting on her unmade bed.
Her roommate hums, looking up at her.
“Do you think Tobin is okay?” Her effort in trying to cover up the falter in the voice fails.
Crystal’s eyebrows furrow. “Why wouldn’t she be?”
Christen gives her a nervous shrug. “She hasn’t contacted me today, like at all. She always does on gameday.”
“Chris.” Crystal moves onto Christen’s bed, asking her to look up from the duvet and trying to get her attention. “You spoke to her yesterday and she was fine, wasn’t she?”
She continues once Christen nods. “She might be busy with training right now and even you said how tired she looked last night, so maybe she’s asleep. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”
The answer seems good enough for Christen right now, but it still doesn’t settle the feeling in her stomach.
When they make it through to the afternoon and she still hasn’t heard anything, she finds what she thinks is a quiet corner, letting her tears spill.
This situation reminds her way too much of what happened five years ago now, and that thought terrifies her.
Five years ago :
It’s been three days since Christen didn’t hear from Tobin on game day - a first.
Which means that it’s also been three days since Christen got subbed off the pitch at the fifty mark, being told that someone is here to talk to her.
That someone were two officers, informing her that Tobin had been shot and just got transferred to a hospital in Los Angeles.
Christen was showered and dressed within a second, hopping on the first flight and just praying that the conditions of her wife aren’t too critical.
Her prayers didn't seem to be heard though, because all she was when she walked into the room were wires, wires and more wires.
There was also a large wound, which showed that she clearly had surgery, but it was almost unnoticeable with the amount of wires hanging around her.
Christen broke down as she held Tobin’s hand, those multiplying by ten when the doctors tell her that Tobin’s conditions are uncertain and critical as of now, and they’re unsure as to how long she’ll be in a coma for.
That’s if she awakes from the coma.
Christen sat by the side of Tobin’s bed every minute of every day, only leaving when the visitor hours were over, before making her return again.
She didn’t quite understand how someone could have limited visitor hours, especially when they’re unconscious, but she didn’t have it in her to argue.
Two weeks away from her team and training.
Two weeks of just spending every single day by Tobin’s side, talking to her wife and praying for some sort of miracle.
She’d never been religious, but Tobin is, so she figured she’d give it a try.
Christen would sit there, begging Tobin to fight and just hoping that the woman can hear her.
And her miracle did come, because Tobin woke up.
Tobin opened her eyes again and smiled weakly when she saw her wife.
Christen spent hours after that crying in Tobin’s arms, repeating for the hundredth time that she thought she lost Tobin and that she can’t ever live without her.
Ever since then, Tobin has made double the effort to constantly message Christen, whenever she gets the opportunity to.
Christen is terrified that a situation she thought was behind her, is about to repeat itself.
Her knees are tucked up to her chest, head looking down and resting on her arms.
She’s barely calmed her breathing, when she feels a hand on her back.
“Christen?” She looks up at hearing the voice of her coach. “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?”
Jill knows about their relationship and has always welcomed Tobin to team meals and the team hotel with open arms, whenever Tobin was home and Christen had away games.
Christen knows that she can trust Jill with this.
“I’m just worried about Tobin.” Christen turns her head to her left, looking her coach in the eyes. “She always calls or texts me on game day. We have this little routine thing- it’s stupid. I just haven’t heard from her since yesterday, so I’m scared.”
She shrugs, as if trying to downplay the fear in her body.
Jill wraps an arm around her, pulling her into a side hug.
“Hey, that’s not stupid.” She shakes her head. “I’m sure Tobin is perfectly fine though and if it’s any help, I can get the team to contact someone and get that confirmed for you?”
Christen nods gratefully.
She might not be able to speak to Tobin directly, but she knows that hearing Tobin is doing fine will help her, at least to an extent. It will definitely do her better than sitting in a corner and crying.
The rest of the day passes by quickly and before she knows it, it’s time to leave the hotel for the stadium. They’re playing their final game in Orlando, at the Exploria Stadium.
Christen tries her best to focus during the warm up, feeling grateful that she’s starting today and gets to distract herself.
The game starts strong.
Spain is a skilled team with a strong press, as well as being excellent at keeping possession of the ball.
By the fortieth minute of the game, Horan snatches the ball and dribbles it along the right wing, crossing it to Christen, who heads it into the back of the net. Spain start to lose their motivation after the third goal of the game, giving the States a chance to score a fourth goal, when Christen finds the back of the net once again.
As the final whistle blows, Christen beams.
They’ve done it.
They’ve won the Shebelieves Cup once again.
For a second, Christen manages to block it all out.
Her only focus is on celebrating this moment with the team, even if she wants nothing more than to celebrate it with Tobin.
The teams are asked to make their rounds of the stands before the awards ceremony, Christen splitting up from the group and starting on the far left of the stadium.
She makes her way along the stands, singing posters and photographs, taking selfies and receiving small gifts.
When she makes it to the middle, she notices Alice coming up behind her.
Alice is their social media content manager, someone who everyone on the team loves.
“Does it have to be me?” Christen laughs as Alice follows her around the stands, filming her closely. “I feel pressured.”
Alice has to laugh now too.
She knows that Christen hates being on camera and having video content of herself posted on their social media accounts.
“We all just want some content from the GOAT.” She gives winks at Christen with a smile.
Christen raises an eyebrow at her. “Oh, really? So now I’m the GOAT? I’m not sure if I can agree with that, but I’ll take the compliment.”
Alice smiles at Christen as the fans cheer for her. “Totally. Always have been the GOAT and always will be.”
Christen simply laughs again, shaking her head.
She is so wrapped up in the conversation as she signs a flag, that she grabs the mobile phone being held out in front of her, without looking up at the fan.
She turns the phone on and is about to swipe to the camera, when she notices the lockscreen on it.
Her face falls and she frowns with a mixture of confusion and panic.
How would they-
She’s seen all sorts before.
She’s seen pictures of herself in someone’s camera roll or as the lock screen, but never has she seen this.
The lock screen on the phone is a picture of Tobin and her.
It’s one that her dad took of them when Tobin returned home from her deployment - the first deployment after she got shot.
It’s one of Tobin’s favorite pictures of them.
Christen is in Tobin’s arms, hugging her tightly. Her legs are wrapped around Tobin’s waist and her face is buried in Tobin’s neck.
It was taken in the middle of the airport, both of them just holding each other, with huge smiles across their faces and tear stains on their cheeks.
Christen has never sent this picture to anyone - she knows that for a fact.
She knows how it goes sometimes, family members posting a picture that a fan then sees, but this is different.
This is a picture that she would never release to anyone, because it’s way too raw and full of emotions. It’s the same picture that Tobin keeps on her bedside table in Utah.
It’s a picture that they want to keep to themselves, forever.
The shock and slight panic that rushes through Christen’s body as she sees the picture is evident, her face going pale.
She shoots Alice a concerned look, but is simply met with a small smirk.
Christen knows that she can’t exactly call a fan out, but in her eyes, there’s a clear line between supporting someone and invading a player’s personal life.
This is definitely crossing that line.
“How did- How did you- How did you get this picture?” She wonders, not even sure if the fan can hear her.
Christen’s hands are shaking ever so slightly as she presses the home button to look at the picture again.
The fan answers her before she has a chance to look up.
“I’d guess that Cody took it, but I wasn’t too concerned about the photographer, so I can’t quite remember.” She hears an all too familiar voice respond.
Christen’s head shoots up and looking directly at her, are her favorite hazel-colored eyes.
Her hands come up to cover her mouth, as her knees give in from the shock, causing her to crouch down and let out a sob.
The people around them are looking at her with confusion, but Christen doesn’t take any notice.
She doesn’t have eyes for anyone else right now.
She regains her balance and stands up, quickly climbing over the barrier and launching herself into Tobin’s arms, tightly wrapping her own around her wife’s neck.
Tobin closes her eyes, holding Christen close.
“Oh my god.” Christen’s voice is broken through her sobs. “What are you doing here?”
Tobin lets out a teary laugh. “I thought I’d come and watch Crystal play. I’ve always been a big fan of hers.”
Christen giggles in response, as Tobin continues. “Do you think you can get me an autograph?”
Christen gives her a light slap on the arm for the joke, still not loosening her grip.
She takes a deep inhale of Tobn’s familiar scent, before pulling back. Her arms are still wrapped around Tobin’s neck as she leans back to look her in the eyes. It only takes a short moment, before Christen is pulling Tobin back into a hug.
“You’re okay? You’re not injured are you?” Christen asks with worry, knowing that Tobin would have told her by now if it was something serious, but she is only a year into her deployment so that’s the only logical explanation in Christen’s head.
Tobin runs her hand up and down Christen’s back, talking quietly to her. “No, just the usual cuts and bruises, but nothing worse than normally.We had a rough few days, but I’ll tell you about that later.”
“I can’t believe you're here. I thought I wouldn’t get to see you again for another six months.” Christen lets out through another sob, thinking that this situation is way better than what she was fearing.
“I love you so much.” She whispers, only for Tobin to hear.
Tobin smiles at that. “I love you too.”
They both pull back a little, locking eyes, before Christen leans in to kiss Tobin.
Looking at her wife in front of her is making her heart so full, that she can’t wait another minute to kiss the older woman again.
The rush of the moment blurs out the cheers from someone around them.
It’s an innocent kiss and a short one, but they both feel the emotions of it.
“Get a room!” Crystal shouts with a wolf whistle from behind them, approaching the pair with Jill on her side.
Christen pulls a face in Crystal’s direction and pulls Tobin in for another quick kiss.
“Too much PDA, Chris. Too much PDA.” She teases the two.
Tobin chuckles as she pulls back from the kiss. “Hey, Crys.”
“We haven’t seen each other in a year, okay? I think you'll survive.” Christen narrows her eyes at Crystal, leaning into Tobin’s body.
Jill’s eyes grow wide. “A year? I thought you requested to come home for Christmas?”
“Yeah, I did, but they didn’t give me it. We had a few guys from the troop go home, so they needed me to stay.” Tobin explains through a nod.
“It was hard, but we’ve been really lucky in the past, so it was bound to happen.” Christen adds onto Tobin’s sentence. “I mean, we’ve spent nine out of ten Christmas’ together, so it could have been a lot worse.”
Crystal steps forward, leaning up to hug Tobin. “Well, I’m so glad you made it to my game, Tobito. I know you’re my number one fan and have always wanted a picture. It really means a lot to me.”
Christen rolls her eyes with a smile from where she’s standing.
“That’s what I told Chris too.” She jokes, squeezing Christen’s hand. “I couldn’t find your jersey this morning though, so I had to improvise with number twenty-three.”
Jill laughs at the two of them. “Honestly, it’s been two minutes and you two are already causing trouble.”
She steps forward, also leaning in for a hug. “Hi, Tobin. It’s so good to finally see you home.”
Christen places her hand on Tobin and Jill’s forearms, her mouth hanging open at the realisation.
“Wait, you knew about this?” She looks at Jill with a glare.
Jill nods with a smile. “Yeah, Tobin told us about this before she left for deployment. She was always going to meet us here.”
“You didn’t think to tell me that when I was crying next to you earlier?” Christen asks with wide eyes.
Crystal shrugs. “It would have ruined the surprise.”
“You knew about this too?” Her eyes grow wider at the shock of finding that out.
The group laughs at the look on her face, as Tobin pulls Christen into a hug from the side and kisses her head.
Christen turns to look at Tobin, who wipes the remaining tears from Christen’s cheeks.
“I was so confused when I turned on your phone.” She chuckles quietly. “I was getting ready to fully interrogate someone on how they got that picture of us.”
Tobin and Crystal laugh, high-fiving since their plan clearly worked out.
“I was just going to surprise you back at the hotel, but Crystal and Alice both said that I should ask you for a picture instead. It would have probably helped if you look up before taking someone’s phone.” Tobin explasins, teasing Christen a little.
Christen shakes her head as she shoots Alice and Crystal a grateful smile.
“Why don’t you finish your round along the stands and then I’ll see you after the awards ceremony?” Tobin asks when she sees the fans on her left growing impatient.
Christen nods, leaving a quick peck on Tobin’s lips, before climbing back down onto the field and continuing her round.
Jill’s eyes stay on Christen until she’s too far away to hear them. “Does she know or is this a surprise too>”
“Unless one of you has told her, she doesn’t.” Tobin tells them and they both shake their heads.
Crystal looks at both of them with wide eyes. “Don’t ever make me do that again, please. She was so worried when you didn’t text or call her this morning and it broke my heart, because she thought it would end up being the same way it did a few years ago. I didn’t even know what to tell her to convince her that you’re alive, without saying you’re on a plane.”
Jill nods in agreement. “She was crying before the game, but I told her that we’d get someone to call in and check on you, so we could give her an update.”
Tobin feels a pang of guilt, until they both reassure her that the reaction was worth it and that the team managed to calm Christen down in the end.
“Okay, go and get changed, so I can tell them that we’re ready to start the awards ceremony.” Jill pats Tobin on the back. “I’ll meet you in the locker room.”
Crystal catches up with Christen, dragging her towards the rest of the team, as she wraps one arm around her and rests it on her shoulder.
“See, just like I promised you, Tobin is okay. She’ll always come home to you, Chris.”
Christen still has teary eyes, but a beaming smile is plastered on her face.
“I hate you for not telling me about this, but thank you.” She rests her head on Crystal’s shoulder, walking over to Mal.
The players all get lined up, ready for the awards ceremony.
U.S Soccer had requested that each of the teams’ head coaches present an award.
When it comes to the final award before the team medals, Jill is asked to present it. She opens the small envelope with a beaming smile, one that tells all of the player’s that she already knew the winner before opening it.
“I’ve actually got a little speech prepared for this one, so I’m going to need some help presenting the award. I’m sure you’ll all know who the winner will be once we bring this person out, but nevertheless, I’d like you to give a warm welcome to First Lieutenant, Tobin Heath.”
Tobin comes out of the tunnel dressed in her fatigues.
The team all turn around and look at Christen with a big smile, who’s watching as her wife makes her way onto the stage.
“So, before I get into my speech, I’m going to pass this to Tobin, so she can present the award.” Jill announces.
Tobin gives Jill a big smile, accepting the microphone and taking it into her own hands.
“Thanks, Jill. We have a few words that we want to say, but we need the MVP of the tournament on the stage for that, so without further ado - it’s an absolute honor and pleasure for me to present this year’s MVP award to the one and only, Christen Heath.” Tobin looks over at her wife, feeling so proud.
Christen has a blinding smile on her face as she accepts the trophy.
She hugs Tobin once she gets onto the stage, whispering to her. “Well, aren’t you full of surprises today?”
Tobin laughs, knowing what’s about to come. “This is only the start. Just wait until you’ve heard the speech.”
Christen raises an eyebrow at Tobin. “Should I be worried?”
Tobin shrugs and winks at her wife, leaving her nervous and confused.
Christen gets some individual pictures taken, before also having one with Jill and Tobin.
Tobin passes the microphone back to Jill when one of the staff members takes Christen’s award in preparation of the team presentation.
“Right, I know that you’re all here for the team presentation, but we have an important announcement to make first. As you’re aware from when she came up here and joined me on the stage, Tobin is a First Lieutenant in the military. She’s been serving our country for nearly eight years now and let me tell you, she’s an amazing human inside and out.” Jill begins her speech. “As we like to call her, she’s the honorary member of our team.”
“I don’t want to go into too much detail about Christen and Tobin’s relationship here, because that’s private and not for me to discuss, but I remember so well, the first time Christen introduced me to Tobin. They got married over eight years ago now and I met Tobin after her first deployment, which was just over a year long.” She recalls. “Over those years, I’ve seen them both grow so much as people, as a couple and as their roles in their jobs. As great as that is, I’ve also seen the hard side.”
“I’ve seen Tobin when she came back from difficult warzones, I’ve seen her when she was injured and I’ve seen her when she was struggling to adjust back to everyday life. Just like with Tobin, I’ve seen Christen worried sick when Tobin was away, I’ve made sure she could get flights out of camp to see Tobin at the hospital, we made sure she could take some time away from the sport when Tobin was in a coma and I’ve seen Christen in tears on hard days.”
“I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this, but today was a prime example of one of those days. A situation happened and it brought her right back to something that happened years ago, causing her to worry about those same things all over again.” Jill frowns as she looks over at Christen. “Being in the military and serving your country isn’t an easy job. It’s not easy on their friends, on their family, on Christen and it’s certainly not easy on Tobin. I know that I’d never be able to do her job, which is just another reason why I have so much respect for her.”
“Throughout those eight years, Tobin’s both seen and felt the rewarding and terrifying sides of the job. I couldn’t imagine a better person serving our country, but just like anything else in life, every good thing has to come to an end. We’ve decided to hold a mini-ceremony tonight, prior to the official U.S military one, so we’ll save the celebrations until later, when we’re together with the team and all their families at the hotel, but Crystal and I decided that this would be the perfect way to announce it.”
Jill looks over at Tobin and then nods. “As of yesterday, First Lieutenant Tobin Heath has officially retired from active duty. After close to eight years of service, she’s decided to end her career and move on so she can make up lost time with her family. It’s an absolute honor for me to be presenting your achievements over the years and I’ll forever be proud of you. Since you’re like family to us, we’ve prepared a little video from the team, so enjoy this video and thank you once again.”
Christen looks at Tobin with disbelief. “You’re retiring?” Christen whispers.
“Mhm.” Tobin nods. “I’ve spent over seven years, a lot of which I’ve been at base for or deployed and away from you. I’ve achieved everything I wanted to achieve, so all I want to do now is spend the rest of my life with you.”
Christen wraps an arm around Tobin’s waist, turning to watch the video.
It’s only a short video, just under four minutes, but it makes everyone cry. The staff, the team, Tobin, and Christen all have tears in their eyes by the end of it.
The video includes small clips of each player telling the camera their favorite thing about Tobin and what they appreciate the most, apart from the new players who have yet to meet the woman.
Everyone starts laughing when Becky is on the screen, talking about how she can’t wait to constantly annoy Tobin, now that she’ll be living in Utah full-time and no longer staying on base.
As the video comes to an end and the whole stadium starts clapping, it all hits Christen.
Tobin is retiring.
No more fears, no more danger, no more deployments, no more years apart.
It’s just the two of them from now on.
She turns to Tobin and as they lock eyes, she can’t keep her emotions in anymore.
Christen’s head drops to Tobin’s chest, crying quietly, when Tobin wraps an arm around Christen.
Once she’s able to take a breath and form words again, she looks up at Tobin with red and teary eyes. “I’m so, so, so in love with you.”
“I’m so in love with you too, Chris. I love you forever.” Tobin whispers quietly.
Tobin stays on the stage as the team gets their medals, presenting them to each player and receiving a tight hug from all of them. Once they take their group pictures, Sam drags Tobin into it too, making her be the one to hold up the trophy.
They take a few more pictures, celebrating with the fans and the team, before then making their way back towards the locker rooms. The team showers and gets dressed, knowing that they’ll drop their bags off at the hotel and then head to a local bar to celebrate both their win and Tobin’s retirement.
After a long night of celebrations, Tobin and Christen are more than happy to fall into bed together and do their own share of celebrating.
As they settle under the covers in Tobin’s hotel room later that night, Christen remembers Tobin’s words from earlier.
“Babe, what did you mean when you said you've had a rough few days?” She wonders, wanting to know the specifics.
Tobin lets out a deep breath, before figuring out how to phrase her sentence. “I always knew my deployment would be up after twelve months, but I told you eighteen because I knew from the start that I wanted this to be a surprise and you would have worried even more if you knew it was my last time.”
Christen nods, agreeing with Tobin and encouraging her to continue.
Tobin is right, if Christen knew she was about to retire and come home, she’d worry even more, because they’d be so close to spending their lives together, that she’d be terrified something bad is going to happen.
“Right from the start of me handing in the paperwork, I knew that what I was doing was best for me. But I love this job and I love serving our country, so there were always little doubts in my mind on whether I should be staying for another year.” Tobin says quietly, her retirement having been something that she spent a lot of time thinking about, because she knows that once it’s done, it’s done and she won’t have the chance to change her mind.
Not that she would, because she loves the idea of getting to come home to Christen every day, just like they’ve always planned for it to be one day.
“A couple of weeks ago, one of our bases got attacked. It was actually the one I was at and a few members on my troop died from bullet wounds. I can remember it so clearly. As soon as I saw them coming, I started looking for shelter. I knew that I should probably be standing up to them and defeating them, but I was so close to coming home and risking my life wasn’t worth the loss of one base. Not if it would mean that I couldn’t live my life with you.” Tobin takes a short moment to gather her thoughts, so Christen pulls Tobin even closer to her.
“I nearly got shot again that day.” Christen’s heart stops at those words.
“They found me and I was only just able to escape the gunshots that were aimed at me. Knowing that I could have lost it all, pushed away any doubts I ever had. I was fortunate enough to make it out alive and not wounded, but many people in my troop weren’t.” She recalls as she thinks about how they all felt when they found out that they’d lost some members of their troop. “I don’t want to live life missing you anymore, Chris. I want to be with you all of the time and I want us to start a family at some point. I don’t want to be living in danger, when I’ve done my part and now have the opportunity to retire, so I can be safe in your arms every night.”
Christen pulls Tobin on top of her and kisses her softly. “I want that too, baby. So much. I love you and I’m so happy you’re home and healthy.”
“Here’s to no more deployment, us living together full time, me needing to look for a job after I take a few months off, and us getting to spend our wedding anniversary together for the first time.” Tobin mentions as she kisses Christen again. “Most of all though, here’s to spending the rest of our lives together."