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Love Songs Ain't For Us

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Confused at the start 
But it's all making sense 
You're not yet a lover 
But you're more than a friend 
There are some things you know 
But things you can't understand 
Oh, babe won't you kiss me all night 
While the storm is raging outside 

 

I said I don’t want to talk about it.” 

“Kel...” 

“There’s nothing to talk about Linds, I got a red. I got a red and my team lost, okay? I just want to get in my bed.” Kelley hated snapping at Lindsey, she didn’t really mean for it to come out the way it did. But Kelley was angry. She had basically the Triple Crown of bad games. Having her goal called back for some stupid reason, the yellow, and then finally the red. She didn’t know how to not be competitive, how not to give 300% all the time. The first challenge she knew she went in hard, maybe a little too hard, but she’d gotten the ball. Alex had laughed off the second challenge and told Kelley she owed her a drink for it, but there was nothing malicious about any of it. Kelley had gotten plenty of yellows before, maybe not as many Lindsey, but getting a red? She hadn’t done that in a long time. So, yeah, she was angry, but she wasn’t angry at Lindsey. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap.” 

“S’okay.” Lindsey replied softly, almost inaudible over the phone.  

“No, it’s not. I’ve lost games before; I should be able to handle myself better.” 

“You wouldn’t be you if that was true.” Lindsey giggled. 

“Rude.” 

“You can talk to me about it, Kel. It’s kind of what I'm here for.” 

This thing between them was still very new. Whatever it was, Kelley couldn’t quite come up with a name for it. Friends that kiss sometimes? Okay, a lot of times. Lovers? God no, what an awful term. But certainly not girlfriends. Not yet anyways. Besides, they hadn’t really done much to earn any kind of label, not that Kelley believed in labels. All that mattered was that Lindsey brought her comfort in a way she’d never felt before. She’d never been in a relationship where someone wanted to take care of her. Kelley had always been the caretaker, even among her friends, always the one who made sure everyone around her was happy and the one who tended to everyone else’s needs before her own. 

But she didn’t have to do that so much with Lindsey. Lindsey, who was strong, secure in herself, and unwilling to let anyone shoulder her burdens. Lindsey who sent a beautiful bouquet of all Kelley’s favorite flowers last Tuesday, just because. Lindsey who was just as fiery and competitive on the field as Kelley, but much more willing to back down off it to let Kelley get her way (sometimes). 

So, there might not be a word for what they were, for what they had, but that seemed to make it all the more special.  

“You have your own game, why are you on the phone with me right now?” The Thorns should have taken the field by now for their game against the Reign and Kelley wasn’t about to be the reason Lindsey’s head wasn’t in the game. 

“I’m going, told Mark I needed to use the restroom. Had to check in on you because otherwise you’d be stewing about this all night.” 

“I do not stew. And you don’t have to check up on me.” Kelley countered and Lindsey barked out a laugh.  

“Okay, sure. Are you going to watch?” 

“As long as Sonny doesn’t start snoring and the rookies next door don’t get another noise complaint.” 

To Lindsey, who was learning how to read Kelley better and better each day, that was an "of course I’ll be watching” wrapped in so many more words. She knew that Kelley would be glued to the TV, only looking down at her phone to send a string of texts for Lindsey to see after the game. She also knew that sometimes words were hard for Kelley, who so often showed her love with actions, sometimes grand gestures like surprise birthday parties for teammates and staff or flying out to see her family unannounced. But other times, she showed it with small things that not everyone noticed. Like when she offered to massage Lindsey’s foot after their last national team game, where she got stepped on so many times that some blood seeped into her sock. Kelley was always more invested in Lindsey’s recovery than Lindsey was. It must have been because of her own injury concerns mixed with her worries about how often Lindsey threw her body around in games. Or like the last time Lindsey came to Washington, under the guise of helping Sonny move and not long after Kelley had moved in herself, she found a basket on the bathroom counter filled with all the products she used at home. Kelley snuck up behind her that night, wrapping her small arms around Lindsey's waist. “In case you ever forget something.” She’d whispered into the taller woman’s shoulder, unable to reach her neck. So, really, Lindsey never needed to ask the question, the answer was always the same. 

“Alright, well I’ve got to go, okay?” 

“M’kay.” Kelley sighed. “But babe?” Lindsey didn’t think she’d ever get tired of hearing that word fall off Kelley’s lips. She remembered the first time it happened, well the first time there wasn’t a joke behind it. Kelley had changed her flight from the Netherlands after camp to come to Denver, before making her Washington debut, to be with Lindsey while she was still sick. At first, Lindsey had been pissed that she had broken quarantine, but she would never have the willpower to actually make her leave. Kelley cleaned her apartment from top to bottom, going through multiple bottles of bleach while Lindsey watched her from the couch. The last night she was there, Lindsey wanted to kiss her so bad and told the brunette as much. Kelley pressed her lips to the blonde’s hairline before softly saying, “next time, okay babe?” And the next time they saw each other, just before January camp and in the airport bathroom of all places, they shared their first kiss. 

“Yeah?”  

“Score me a golazo.” 

Lindsey could hear Kelley’s smile through the phone. “You got it.” 

When Lindsey did score off that free kick, Kelley nearly screamed. She stopped herself, looking over at Sonnett who was curled up under the blankets and breathing deeply. She could tell that the smaller blonde had been conflicted about watching her old team, still hurt by the way she was pushed aside for a new, shinier toy even though she wanted to support her best friend. That night, she took her melatonin and passed out. She would blame it on not playing a full 90 since She Believes, and Kelley would let her. She grabbed her phone off the nightstand and began typing away. 

In the 17th minute?? You’re crazy 

Crazy good, obviously  

At least one of us gets to keep our free kick goal  

Man, we could’ve been matching  

Speaking of matching  

Kelley sent a photo of herself in the bed, showing off the Thorns hoodie she’d successfully snuck out of Lindsey’s suitcase at camp. It dwarfed her, but it still smelled like Lindsey, like the coconut soap she loved so much.  

You had such a great game babe  

Proud of you  

I miss you so much  

Lindsey read through the messages as she changed. Each one brought a smile to her face for a different reason. She dialed Kelley’s number as she walked to her car in the stadium parking lot. 

“Hi.” Kelley answered, her voice thick with sleep. 

“Shit! I keep forgetting you’re on the east coast now. I’m sorry Kel, go back to bed. I’ll call you in the morning.” 

“No, Linds, stay. Talk to me.” The brunette’s tired, whiny voice struck Lindsey right in the heart. As if she could ever deny Kelley anything, even when they were 3000 miles apart. 

“The goal was pretty nice, huh?” 

“Someone’s a little cocky.” Kelley chuckled. 

“I miss you, Kel.” Lindsey blurted out, veering off the light subject matter. “So much.” 

“I miss you too, baby. More than you know.” 

Because she honestly wasn’t sure it was possible to miss someone as much as Kelley missed Lindsey. For so long, Kelley had wondered if her choices had resigned her to a life of loneliness. Every relationship ended the same way. “You never make time for me” or “The distance is too much” or “If you really loved me, you’d get yourself traded here”. All the awards, all the accolades felt hollow without someone to share them with. Of course, she had her family, and she had friends like Alex and Sonnett, but it wasn’t the same. 

And if she was being honest with herself, which she wasn’t always, missing someone that much scared the hell out of Kelley. She had never been someone who relied on other people. Sure, she liked attention, but she didn’t need it. 

Enter Lindsey Horan. Lindsey Horan who showed up to national team camp at 18 years old and already a more balanced professional than Kelley would ever be. She preened under Lindsey’s attention, finding herself looking for reasons to hang out with the younger girls. It took them a long time, much too long now that Kelley looked back at it, but that time only made their bond stronger. Not that she should really complain, because while unconsciously seeking out Lindsey’s attention, her relationship with Sonnett grew stronger every day and that was something Kelley was so grateful for. 

And Lindsey didn’t have any expectations of Kelley, never demanded anything of her. They both led incredibly busy lives but always found a way to make time for one another. Sometimes they were together, but other times it was over the phone, miles apart.  

“Come to Portland. There’s a week before we go to Houston, and you can’t play in the next game.” Kelley’s nostrils flared a little at the reminder of her suspension. 

“Linds, I can’t...” 

“Why not?” Now Lindsey was being the whiny one. 

“Can we FaceTime?” Kelley slid out from under her covers and closed herself in the hotel bathroom without waiting for Lindsey's response. When the blonde’s face appeared on the screen, wet hair slung over one shoulder and tired, green eyes staring back, Kelley couldn’t help but smile, sitting on the tile and resting against the lip of the bathtub. “Hi.”   

 “Please come?” Lindsey responded before Kelley’s sleepy charm deterred the conversation. 

“Linds... I need to be there with my team. Everyone already thinks I don’t give a shit about club play, and I need to prove to them that’s not true.” There was another reason for Kelley to stick around too but she was sure Lindsey wouldn’t want to hear it. “And... Sonnett needs me here. Or there, I guess, you know what I mean. She thinks that goal was her fault, and you know how she gets. I need to keep her spirits up or she’ll crumble against Midge next week.” 

Lindsey blinked her eyes slowly, processing the words so she wouldn’t snap. She and Sonnett had their own relationship, one which had been strained for a while as Emily dealt with her trade, but they were finally back to the way they were before, now that she was out of Orlando and finally seemed happy.  

Kelley’s relationship with Sonnett was different though. They were so alike it was frightening sometimes. Over the years they’d developed into each other’s support system. Kelley when she got injured, Sonnett when she got traded. They both swore up and down that they’d never hooked up before, that they loved each other like sisters, but Lindsey was still hesitant to believe them. She hated feeling jealous of her best friend, but Sonnett had chosen Washington to be closer to her own girlfriend, so why couldn’t she help keep Sonny's spirits up? Lindsey hated herself sometimes for wondering if the two Georgians had conspired on these trades to be closer to each other. Because now, the two most important people in Lindsey’s life were on the other side of the country, seemingly having the time of their lives without her. 

It was extra hard because people didn’t know. Well, Lindsey was pretty positive Sonny knew by now, they weren’t exactly great at hiding it sometimes, but she didn’t say anything if she did. Either that or she wasn’t as observant as Lindsey gave her credit for. Like last month at camp when she walked into the bathroom at dinner and found Lindsey’s hands in Kelley’s back pockets and Kelley’s face craning up and into Lindsey’s neck. Sonny didn’t say anything, just kind of rolled her eyes as she walked into a stall. 

Rose, on the other hand, definitely knew something. It was obvious by the way she refused to leave the room unless one of them left as well. She made sure to comment on Lindsey’s plate at dinner, which nearly mirrored Kelley’s, piled high with greens and just a few shreds of chicken because the nutrition staff said they had to have a protein. 

“Since when did you start eating like a rabbit too?” She quirked one eye at Lindsey before turning her head to see Kelley, who was walking to her table, with the exact same meal on her plate. 

“I’ve always liked salad.” Lindsey replied defensively as Rose walked away. 

Then there was the time Rose insisted on switching rooms with Lindsey for the evening, leaving her alone with Kelley, and decided to pop in every half hour claiming she forgot something. It was like she was standing outside the door all night, just waiting to catch them. As soon as Kelley cuddled up to Lindsey on the bed, the sound of the key card in the door would cause them to spring apart, landing Kelley on the floor one time. The second Lindsey’s lips ghosted over the back of Kelley's neck while she brushed her teeth, that same sound would cause Kelley to choke on her toothpaste. 

A lot of the time, sneaking around was hot, but sometimes Lindsey thought about how nice it would be to hold Kelley’s hand on the sidewalk or gush and show off the Valentine’s Day gift Kelley had given her (a gold bracelet with diamonds to match Kelley's own). One day they would be there, one day they would make that decision together and hold on to each other no matter what happened next. 

“She’s a big girl, Kel. What if we’d lost and I needed my spirits lifted?” 

It was another question Lindsey didn’t actually need the answer to, but she wanted to make Kelley feel a little guilty for a moment. If she really needed her, Kelley would be at Lindsey's side in minutes without question. 

“Linds… don’t be like that.” 

“Meet me in Houston then, after your game.” 

“What about the championship? Then I can stay at your place for a couple days and we can celebrate.” Kelley countered and Lindsey’s eyes lit up just a bit. 

“Like celebrate... or celebrate?” The blonde waggled her eyebrows suggestively. 

The hadn’t had sex yet. This thing between them, whatever you want to call it, had resulted in quite a few heavy make-out sessions, but at night, Lindsey would pull Kelley in until her front met Kelley’s back, sliding one hand under the tee shirt Kelley borrowed and rested it against her abs, and that was it. That was all they needed. The closeness helped settle Kelley’s mind, quelling her fears, and it gave Lindsey an opportunity to be the protector, the one that could shield them from the bad stuff.  

Kelley had had a lot of sex in her life, in high school, in college and after, not really thinking much of it, but Lindsey had only been with one person her whole adult life. So, as much as Kelley hated him and wanted Lindsey to be able to experience the things that he never gave her, she also wanted to respect her boundaries while she worked through the (multiple) break ups and again when Lindsey began to come to terms with having feelings for a woman. So, like the true southern gentleman she was, Kelley tried her best to woo Lindsey without falling into bed together. Lindsey would have to be the one to initiate that, and Kelley had made it clear that she was more than willing to wait, something she had never done in a relationship before this one. It seemed like that day might be on the horizon for them, and Kelley couldn’t wait to give Lindsey everything she’d missed out on in all those years with him.   

“Worry about winning the game first, doofus! Besides, you still have Houston.”  

“Yeah, but we’re already through.” Kelley quirked an eyebrow at Lindsey’s flippancy. As much as Lindsey would play it off like their game against Houston wasn’t important, Kelley knew that she wouldn’t give anything less than 100% for 90+ minutes. They were cut from the same cloth in that way. Lindsey’s giddiness at the potential of seeing Kelley so soon had overtaken her uber competitive mindset for a moment. 

“I doubt Kristie or Rachel will care about that.” 

“What do I get if I score?” 

Kelley exaggerated a yawn before answering. “You’ll just have to wait to find out.” 

“Boo... you’re no fun.” Lindsey pouted. 

“How dare you lie like that; I am the most fun! Sounds like grumpypants needs to get herself to bed.” 

Kelley was still resting against the lip of the bathtub in the hotel room while Lindsey climbed in her bed, the FaceTime screen jostling for a moment, only for Lindsey’s dimples to appear again, tucked into her navy-blue bedding. 

“Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?” Kelley asked, in awe of this woman looking back through the screen. Her Lindsey.  

Not today.” Lindsey giggled softly. 

“Well, you should hear it every day. The most beautiful woman in the whole, wide world.” 

Lindsey’s cheeks were tinged with pink as she sunk lower into her blankets. “’Night, Keppy.” 

“’Night, Lindy. Sweet dreams.” Kelley said, ending the call before the words she wanted to say spilled out. I love you.  

She quietly snuck back into her hotel bed, making sure not to wake Sonnett. But suddenly, her raspy voice was coming from under the covers. “You guys are gross, be quieter next time.” 

Chapter Text

Caught in the moment 
Midnight in the room 
My breath and heart 
Got taken by you 

Lindsey didn’t call after the Houston game, though Kelley didn’t really expect her to. She knew that in Lindsey’s mind, a draw was just as bad as a loss. She also knew that Lindsey was in her hotel room re-watching every second of the game film, making notes of the things she’d done wrong. Any foot out of place or mistimed pass would be documented and replayed over and over again in the blonde’s brain until she got back on the field to fix it.  

One of Lindsey’s faults was her pension for fixating on things, becoming a bit obsessive, if you will. Sometimes, it would work out in Kelley’s favor, like when she was fixated on finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe to bring to her mother’s annual cookie exchange, naming Kelley her official taste tester. Kelley didn’t have the heart to remind Lindsey of her slight veganism, eating cookie after cookie, even when they were burnt to a crisp or missing important ingredients like sugar or one time, without chocolate chips. No one had ever accused Lindsey of being a good chef, but no one could ever say she didn’t try.  

Other times, it became somewhat detrimental to their relationship. Like when Lindsey was fixated on Kelley’s friendship with Sonny. She knew Lindsey wasn’t a naturally jealous person, but the clear annoyance she displayed whenever Kelley couldn’t commit to plans because of doing something with Sonny, or whenever Kelley invited Sonny along on what was supposed to be a moment for alone time, hung over them like a dark cloud sometimes. She accused Kelley on more than one occasion of being more into Emily than into Lindsey, of getting traded to Washington so that she and Sonny could be together. And of course, within 10 minutes, she’d apologize profusely and beg Kelley to forgive her, which she always would. Kelley knew that Lindsey was sometimes insecure about the relationships in her life and didn’t always know how to express her feelings, which could lead to her lashing out if she sensed any kind of danger. Lindsey would rather break up with Kelley before Kelley had the chance to break up with her, as if that might save her from being hurt. Not that there was anything to break up. Because they weren’t girlfriends. Not yet anyways. 

“It’s only you, Linds. Only you, I promise.” Kelley would reminder her, cupping the blonde’s chin in her small hands, forcing Lindsey to make eye contact before wiping away angry tears and planting a sweet kiss on her lips. 

So, when Lindsey didn’t call or respond to the string of texts Kelley sent, she wasn’t worried. But that didn’t stop her from continuing to pester Lindsey in hopes of getting her to give in. Maybe she just wanted attention, so sue her. 

I know you’re there

And I know you saw all my texts

Baby you played so well, you were everywhere

It only took about twenty minutes before Lindsey gave in. When Kelley saw the contact picture come up on her phone, she couldn’t help but smile as she plopped down onto the couch. It was from January camp this year, one of the last nights, when they sprawled out on the golf course with Alex and baby Charlie. Lindsey had snapped a quick selfie of the two of them, laid on their backs, mid-laugh because Alex said something inappropriate around the baby, who was starting to babble, and Charlie had repeated it back to her. 

“What do you want, Kel?” Lindsey’s voice was tired and a bit depressive, which shot right through Kelley’s heart. 

“I want you to be proud of yourself.” 

“Why? It’s not like I got on the scoresheet.” 

Kelley sighed. Lindsey had been playing the best soccer of her life before everything shut down in 2020. She was free of Jill and, for the first time in a really long time, she had a coach that she was excited to play for. And then everything closed down and nothing would ever be the same after that. 

Kelley also knew she wouldn’t ever admit to anyone (other than Sonnett maybe), but the World Cup was rough for Lindsey. Not rough in the same way that Carli described as the “worst time of her life”, but it had clearly been hard to wrap her brain around losing her starting spot for most of the tournament. And Kelley hated to think about it, but she knew that if she hadn’t gotten hit in the head, Lindsey probably would’ve been that last sub in the final. Lindsey must have known it too but showed Kelley enough grace not to talk about it.  

So, when Lindsey was down on herself for not getting on the scoresheet, that wasn’t just about her competitive drive to score goals. It was about proving to herself and her coaches that she could be counted on, that she was the person they should want in a difficult situation. 

“And you know that’s not the only measure of success in a game. Linds, you probably ran more than anyone else on that field, I want to see the stats later. That game would have looked totally different if you weren’t there and locked in.” 

“But... “ 

“Nope. The only butt we’re talking about is yours, and how good it looks in those white shorts.” Lindsey snorted on the other end of the line, which was Kelley’s real intent, to get her smiling.  

“Are you still coming before the championship? I need my cheering section.” 

This time Kelley snorted. “Um, I think you’ll have about a thousand people in your cheering section, don’t worry.” 

“But they’re not all there just for me. I want to look up in the stands and see you, maybe even wearing my number.” Lindsey hinted. 

“If people see me in the stands with your number on my back, they might think we’re together or something.” 

“Would that really be so bad, Kel? If they knew you were there for me?” 

“Maybe I’ll snag a Becky jersey just to throw them of the scent.” Kelley giggled, purposefully avoiding Lindsey's question. 

Because maybe she was worried about the reaction if she showed to Providence Park wearing the number 10 on her back. If she was waiting in the tunnel to wrap Lindsey in the tightest hug possible, win or lose. If she kissed her where everyone could see.  

Because Kelley had done that before, declared her love on the biggest stage. And it backfired spectacularly. In the weeks and months following the World Cup, Kelley’s ex was bombarded with attention, both good and bad, and in the end, she couldn’t handle it. Or didn’t want to handle it. She said she thought she knew what she was getting into, but that she couldn’t deal with what it had become, especially since Kelley was gone half the time and couldn’t weather it with her. 

So, they went their separate ways. Though, Kelley didn’t tell anyone for the longest time, still holding out hope that things might turn out differently. Finally, Sonnett cornered her while they were out together for brunch back in Atlanta after Christmas, and she let it all out. How Kelley wished she could have protected her better, how she should have been around more, how she had started talking to her agent about a trade because she couldn’t keep living in the same city for fear of accidentally running into her. Kelley’s problems kind of got put on the back burner for a while though while everyone dealt with the aftermath of Sonnett’s trade. During that time, Kelley found herself playing caretaker to her two favorite blondes, best friends who never thought they’d be separated. 

Looking back to when she finally told Lindsey, at camp for She Believes 2020, the way she pulled Kelley close and pressed a kiss into her hairline was probably the first moment they shared that was less than strictly platonic. No words were needed, just the comforting embrace. When Lindsey scored that goal against Japan, Kelley realized just how much she wanted to always be the first person to celebrate her, always be the first person to hug her. And then she had to go months without that embrace, settling for daily FaceTime calls in between each of their calls with Sonnett. Sometimes, they be on the phone for upwards of six hours, just pretending that they were physically together. Kelley would set her phone or her laptop on the counter while she tried out a new recipe, listening to Lindsey babble about this, that, and the other. They would watch Netflix shows together a lot, and once Lindsey finally gave in to the Harry Potter books, they would read to one another at night. Kelley even had the box set of books shipped to Lindsey's apartment.

If they hadn’t been so hyper-focused on each other, they might have noticed their feelings a lot sooner. But that was okay, at least in Kelley’s mind. Looking back, they may have moved at an agonizingly slow pace, but it brought them closer than she ever imagined possible. 

Then the Challenge Cup came, and Lindsey was in her city, just out of arm’s reach for so long. Kelley watched all the games the Thorns played from the stands, even when it was sweltering hot and when she should've been gearing up for her own games. Her heart got lodged in her throat when Lindsey went down during the North Carolina game, only subsiding when she was pulled off the field. But then she was escorted back to the training room, not the bench, and Kelley’s stomach was in her feet. Lindsey gave her a weak thumbs up when she came back out, limping just a little which, to the untrained eye, could have been mistaken for the typical, on-the-field swagger in her step. 

They didn’t even get a real goodbye. After Kelley’s team was eliminated, they weren’t allowed back inside the training facility until the tournament was over and the other teams had left. She watched the Thorns last game from her couch at home, but only to catch those glimpses of Lindsey, sometimes smiling and cheering, but other times, with her brows furrowed as she studied the game from the stands. Lindsey FaceTimed her from the airport, wanting to talk to Kelley more than she wanted to sit with her teammates. 

Then there was that damn podcast earlier this year. The one that filled Kelley with so much rage that she was surprised she hadn’t blacked out and driven to Seattle, baseball bat in hand. She had known Lindsey was going on Cari’s show, that after being asked about 12 times, she finally accepted. But Kelley hadn’t known the extent of the interview beforehand. To discover that he had approached her that summer, expected Lindsey to apologize? Kelley could’ve strangled him, would’ve strangled him. The sound of Lindsey’s voice breaking with tears was something she would never, ever forget as long as she lived. Kelley had nearly bucked team protocols, ready to fly out to Portland that very minute, but Lindsey talked her down. 

“I’m okay.” She said, speaking softly to try and calm Kelley. “I promise, Kel. You don’t have to worry about me.” 

“I always worry about you. You almost burned my place down last time trying to make pasta. Pasta, Linds.” 

“Whatever. Gas stoves are way harder.” Lindsey rolled her eyes and smiled through the video screen. 

So, when Lindsey off handedly asked her if being public would be a big deal, Kelley felt like her heart was being squeezed in her chest. Because she couldn’t lose Lindsey, losing Lindsey might destroy her. 

“Kel?” Lindsey’s deep voice drew her out of her head. “Where’d you go?” 

Unwilling to bring Lindsey back down with the weight of her fears, Kelley tried to ease the tension the best way she knew how, she bantered. “Just thinking about Becky’s face if I did that.” 

“Oh.” Was all Lindsey said, quiet and somewhat weak, which Kelley hated because Lindsey Horan was anything but weak.  

“Would you want that? Me wearing your jersey, I mean.” 

She swore she could hear Lindsey’s smile and her soft blush from more than 1000 miles away. “Yeah, I would. I would love that.” 

“Well, you better find me one then, okay?” Kelley replied sweetly. “I can’t wait to see you, Linds. Now put the game film away and get some rest.” 

“How did you...?” 

“You’re getting predictable, Horan.” Kelley snickered before hanging up the phone. 

*** 

Lindsey was so exhausted that by the time she got back to her apartment, she was ready to collapse. It had been raining, because what else does the weather do in Portland, and at this hour, she’d had to park on the street and get soaked while running to her building. She slumped against the wall of the elevator, waiting for the little ding that alerted her that it had reached her floor. Her eyelids were heavy, and her feet dragged on the carpet in the hallway. As much as she missed him, she was very happy Ferguson was staying with the dog sitter until the morning. She put the key in the door, dumping her bags as soon as she made it over the threshold, ready to flop down face first on her bed and pass out. 

At first, the lights being on startled her. She could have sworn she remembered to cut them off when she left for the airport a few days ago, but maybe not. It wouldn’t be the first time. But then, as she actually stepped into the apartment, she was knocked back by the smell of something warm and absolutely heavenly. Someone was in her kitchen. 

“Hello?” She called out cautiously. What kind of robber sticks around to cook dinner? 

She turned the corner and was once again stopped dead in her tracks. There, standing at the stove and stirring a pot of something, was Kelley. Hair piled on top of her head, showing off Lindsey’s last name across the shoulders of the hoodie she was wearing. It was so big on her that the athletic shorts she was wearing were barely visible. She wore thick socks on her small feet and was swaying to a beat in her head. Lindsey couldn’t think of a time she’d seen Kelley look more peaceful, more comfortable, more at home, than she did right now, floating around Lindsey's apartment like it was her own. It took her breath away. 

“Well don’t just stand there. You know it’s rude to stare.” Kelley spoke, a wide smile written on her face, apparently aware of Lindsey watching her. “Come help me!” 

Lindsey took three big steps, and, in an instant, she pulled Kelley away from the burner, wrapping the smaller woman in her arms. She wasted no time, their lips meeting for the first time in a long time.  

“Hi.” Kelley breathed, that smile somehow even wider as she pulled away from the kiss, her arms wrapped around Lindsey’s neck. 

“What are you doing here? I thought you were getting in tomorrow. I was supposed to pick you up!” Sometimes Lindsey forgot just how small Kelley was, but now, she was stretching on her tippy toes. Lindsey lifted her onto the counter and bracketed Kelley’s thighs with her arms, going back in for another kiss before she could answer. “Wait, how did you get in here?” 

“A magician never reveals her secrets.” A mischievous grin played across Kelley’s face.

“Well, should I be worried that my place is susceptible to break-ins?” 

“Only if they have a key.” Kelley giggled, confusing Lindsey. It must have been clear in her expression because Kelley plowed on. “Sonny still had her key to this place, she said you gave it to her for emergencies.” Lindsey nodded. “I wanted to surprise you.” 

“Mission accomplished, Miss Kelley.” Lindsey laughed as the brunette swatted her shoulder. 

“I hate that nickname.” 

“So, burglar, what’s for dinner?”  

Kelley hopped off the counter and went back to the pot on the stove. “Stuffed pepper soup with some chicken. But don’t worry, I didn’t use too many hot peppers since you’re a baby about spicy food.” She teased. 

Lindsey didn’t respond, choosing instead to rest her hands on Kelley’s hips, still swaying to a beat only she could hear, and tucking her chin in the spot where Kelley’s neck met her collarbone, leaving featherlight kisses while the brunette continued to stir. 

Cradling the bowl, Lindsey laid out on the couch, resting her feet in Kelley’s lap, the only person who didn’t mind it. In fact, once she’d finished her own meal, Kelley took Lindsey’s feet in her hands and massaged them gently. The plane ride hadn’t been the best for her sore muscles, so when Kelley worked her way to Lindsey’s calves, she couldn’t help but let a little moan escape her lips, her head falling back onto the armrest.  

And, well, how was Kelley supposed to let that go? The small brunette shifted on the couch until she was all but straddling Lindsey. Kelley took the bowl of soup away and placed it on the coffee table next to her own. From there she leaned down, capturing Lindsey’s mouth with her own. It had been too long since they’d been able to do this, and she didn’t want to go another second without feeling Lindsey’s body on hers.  

Lindsey’s hands came around Kelley’s back, fingertips sliding up under the hoodie she was wearing, Lindsey’s hoodie, feeling Kelley’s warm skin under her touch and hearing the noises she made as Lindsey’s hands moved all around. They only broke apart to breathe and from there, Kelley began an assault on the blonde’s neck, careful not to leave a mark. Not yet. She thought to herself. She was still on top of Lindsey when she wedged a small but muscular thigh between the younger woman’s legs, flexing against her. Lindsey’s breath caught at the feeling of Kelley rocking into her a little and she couldn’t help but push back with her own hips. Kelley nipped at Lindsey’s earlobe, whispering her ear, running her fingers through thick, blonde hair. 

“I missed you so much, baby. Your lips, your thighs, your neck, I missed all of it.” 

Lindsey nearly choked after hearing those words. She pulled Kelley back and slammed their lips together. Kelley’s hands moved lower, skimming along the hem of Lindsey's leggings. Suddenly, Lindsey felt like she couldn’t breathe, and not in a good way. 

“Kel...” Lindsey gasped, but it spurred Kelley on, her fingers slipping under Lindsey’s waistband. “Kelley...” She tried again, reaching for her small hand, and Kelley pulled back abruptly. 

“Shit! Shit, Linds, I'm sorry, I got carried away. Are you okay?” Kelley’s eyes were wide with fear, fear that she’d fucked it up for good this time. 

Lindsey cupped Kelley’s face in her hand, rubbing her thumb across her cheek, trying to reassure the older woman that she hadn’t done anything wrong. “Fine, just a little caught off guard, that’s all.” She pulled Kelley back in for a sweet kiss. 

She knew Kelley had said she’d wait, but this thing they were doing had been going on for quite a while now. Lindsey wasn’t sure what her hold-up was, to be quite honest. Even though she said she would wait, Lindsey couldn’t imagine Kelley being okay with this much longer. Why would you want to stay with someone you couldn’t be with physically? Kelley could have any woman in the world, so why would she stay when Lindsey’s head was so clearly messed up? 

Her therapist said that she was associating sex with him, who basically treated her like a blow-up doll for years, a warm body, there to serve his needs. That after a while, she basically checked out anytime he put his hands on her. And with Kelley, Lindsey was so acutely aware of what was going on and how her body was reacting, that she got overwhelmed and backed out.  

“Let’s just go to bed, okay?” Kelley said softly, sitting up and leading them back to the bedroom. Lindsey got a little thrill knowing that the older girl knew the path on her own now. Their fingers intertwined and Lindsey pulled Kelley back to her in the hallway, kissing her again. Lindsey lowered her hands until they were cupping Kelley's perfect ass, lifting her. Kelley wrapped her legs around Lindsey’s waist and her arms around the tall blonde’s neck. The new angle allowed Kelley to deepen the kiss, her fingers playing with the baby hairs at the base of Lindsey’s scalp. Pulling away, Kelley laughed softly, resting her forehead against Lindsey's. “What was that for?” 

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t...” Lindsey couldn’t quite get the words out, but she was sure Kelley understood. 

“Shhh.” The brunette cooed, dropping a kiss to the tip of Lindsey’s nose. “I don’t care. It’ll happen, and when it does, we’ll make up for all the lost time, okay? I promise.” Kelley winked. 

In the bed, Kelley tucked herself into Lindsey’s side, slipping her hand just barely under her shirt to feel Lindsey’s warm skin and tangled their legs together. Lindsey buried her nose in Kelley's hair, taking her in before leaving a kiss on her hairline. She wondered what might happen if she said it out loud, if she gave in to the thoughts in her head. I love you.

*** 

Kelley couldn’t breathe. Watching the championship game from the suite was ten times more stressful than it would have been if she was watching from the field or the bench. When Lindsey’s free kick slammed into the post, she nearly had a heart attack. She wasn’t made for sitting still, it wasn’t in her nature, so she paced in front of the window, much to the annoyance of the few other spectators in the room. At the halftime whistle, she managed to make eye contact with Lindsey, who gave her a small smile before disappearing into the tunnel.  

If she’d thought the first half was nerve wracking, the second half nearly drove Kelley insane. Midge was playing so well and when Carli buried that header, Kelley wished she could run out onto the field and join the attack. 

Penalty kicks. Her heart couldn’t take it anymore. She hurtled down the steps until she reached the ground floor, stepping out onto the sidelines of the pitch. She made sure to tuck herself into a corner, pulling the brim of her baseball cap low, hiding from any prying eyes that might wonder why she was there or how she got onto the field.  

As the first players stepped up, Kelley began to worry the hem of her top, the #10, white Thorns jersey Lindsey had given her. First it was Sinc, who made hers, naturally. Then Kling’s shot rocketed off the crossbar and rattled Kelley’s insides. And then it was Lindsey. Lindsey who almost never took PKs. Kelley didn’t think she could handle it if Lindsey missed, she’d have to leave. Maybe wait in the car or walk back to the apartment or something. 

But, of course, Lindsey buried her shot and Kelley felt like she could breathe a little easier. Then came Rocky, Crystal, and Becky, who all stepped up and made their shots. When AD made that monster save, Kelley knew the game was won. She knew it even before little Morgan Weaver walked to the spot. When the ball rolled into the net, the energy was palpable, the crowd was going absolutely bonkers, and the team had all ran onto the field to celebrate. 

She watched Lindsey tackle her teammate to the ground, the sheer joy written across her face could have melted Kelley into a puddle right then and there. She stayed in her little hiding place for a while, just watching, until the team was finally being ushered off the pitch. Lindsey locked eyes with her and sprinted toward the tunnel, toward Kelley. She swept the brunette up and off her feet and spun them around. Kelley’s legs were wrapped around Lindsey's torso as she buried her face in the blonde’s sweaty neck. 

“You did it, baby!” 

Lindsey didn’t think about what she was going to before she did it, capturing Kelley’s lips with her own. They weren’t out in the middle of everything, but they weren’t exactly hiding either, plenty of people could've seen if they knew where to look. Sophia and Kelli wolf whistled as they ran by, causing Lindsey to break the kiss and Kelley to show them her middle finger. If they weren’t so wrapped up in one another, the two women might have noticed how no one was surprised to see them together. 

“Should I have done that?” Lindsey asked, knowing that it didn’t really matter, because the deed had been done. She set Kelley back on the ground, trying not to look into those hazel eyes, knowing that her own were wide with panic. 

“Hey.” Kelley said softly, reaching up to cup Lindsey’s cheeks, forcing the eye contact. “Everything’s okay. I like that you just can’t control yourself around me!” The brunette giggled, bringing a tentative smile to Lindsey’s face. “Go celebrate with your team! I’ll wait for you.” Kelley pushed her toward the locker rooms, smacking her on the butt for good measure. 

Becky followed behind Lindsey and muttered something under her breath that made Kelley laugh. 

“About damn time.” 

*** 

Lindsey emerged from the locker room, half stumbling, and spotted Kelley leaned back against the car. She looked so effortlessly cool, running a hand through her hair as she scrolled through something on her phone. 

“Hey, pretty lady! How you doin’?” Lindsey tried to come off slick, but her words were a little slurred.  

Kelley laughed as she took Lindsey into her arms. “Are you drunk?” 

“Um... no!” The blonde said, stepping back and feigning shock. “I would never. Plus, I only had like four seltzers. Or six. Or maybe—” 

“Seltzer?!” Kelley asked, incredulous. “Lindsey Michelle Horan, are you telling me you just won a tournament, sponsored by a beer company, and chose to drink seltzer?” Lindsey nodded sheepishly and Kelley rolled her eyes. “Well, let me see the hardware!” She gestured to the medal around Lindsey’s neck, hooking her index finger around the ribbon and pulling Lindsey flush against her again. 

“Thank you for coming.” Lindsey said softly, almost too softly for Kelley to hear. “For being here.” Being here for me.

Kelley tilted her head up and kissed her. “I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.” She whispered against Lindsey’s lips. 

“Can we... Kel, can we do this for real?” Lindsey asked, covering her mouth with her hand as though the words slipped out without her permission. 

The brunette pulled Lindsey’s hand away and kissed her again. “Are you asking me to be your girlfriend?” Lindsey nodded, a little shy, and Kelley flung her arms around her neck, kissing her deeply.  

“So that’s a yes, then?” 

 

@kelleyohara: look at my little champion!

     @lindseyhoran10: so nice to meet a fan

     @emilysonnett: jersey chasin’ miss kelley 

     @lavellerose: I KNEW IT 

 

Chapter Text

You know love songs ain't for us
Nothing could explain 'bout the way it hurts so much
But at the same time it's
Perfect nights, it's open doors
It's feeling safe, it's being sure

Maybe coming out to the world wasn’t the best idea. They had both been public with previous relationships, so they thought they knew the extent of the craziness that could come from being so open. They were wrong. Fans clogged their social media accounts with both positive and negative comments. News outlets were calling them every day, asking for comments and interviews. Not to mention the relentless teasing from their teammates, though that one should have been expected.  

Lindsey had spent a lot of time and energy not being public with him, much to his dislike. She should have known then how it would end. He was never invited out with her friends, even when they would show up with their significant others. Her teammates never asked about him and changed the subject if he ever came up. Sonny was the only person she ever felt safe enough to talk about him with. She knew Sonny didn’t like him, but she did a better job than most at pretending she did. Well, until that game in Utah.  

Sonny never yelled; she was much too gentle for that. But that night, after they got back to the hotel, Sonny unleashed this tidal wave of anger and hurt. She yelled, she cried, and she threw her phone at Lindsey’s head. When she saw the things he had said about her best friend, Lindsey wanted to throw up. She broke up with him (again) and told him never to come back. But that didn’t stop the onslaught of attention she and Sonny got after that game. She never wanted to go through something like that ever again.  

Kelley had been around the spotlight a lot longer than Lindsey; she knew the coping strategies and how to block out the noise. She knew that this pressure would only last until the next story dropped. She joked with Lindsey about “accidentally” letting it slip that Tobin and Christen were actually married. 

“They would forget about us completely.” Kelley laughed. 

“Yeah.” Lindsey smiled weakly. 

“Hey.” Kelley wished she could reach through the screen and give her girlfriend a hug. “It’s going to be okay; I promise.” 

Lindsey sighed. “I just wish you were here.” 

“I know, baby. Just a few more days. Then you’re stuck with me for quite a while.”  

“If I make the roster. I’ve been playing like shit.” 

“Okay, enough of that. Lindsey, you’ve been asked to play out of position, and you’ve been doing amazing. It’s only temporary.” 

“Is that what they told you in 2016?” 

Now that was a low blow. Sure, it had been years now, but Kelley still felt a little angry that she had been pushed out of the front line, and then out of the midfield, relegated all the way to the defense. She embraced the change because that was the kind of competitor she was, but that didn’t mean it didn’t sting when she saw how many goals her teammates scored. She knew she was a good defender, but that didn’t stop her from wondering if she could have been a great forward. Lindsey knew she had those feelings, expressed them under the cover of night and tucked into the taller woman’s side. Lindsey had been there, had watched Kelley struggle, even though they weren’t close back then, she knew. 

“That’s not fair.” 

“Why not? How do you know that my days playing forward aren’t over just like yours?” 

“Because he would be an idiot to stick you back there forever.” 

“That’s not a real answer!” Lindsey raised her voice, turning away from the screen.  

Lindsey had been on edge about being tasked with taking on Julie’s spot for a while now, and Kelley knew it had nothing to do with her actual skill. Lindsey had been in a tough place mentally when she lost her starting job to Sam during the World Cup. She figured with a new coach that might change, but it didn’t, and she was still fighting every day for minutes. With the Olympics looming, Kelley knew that Lindsey was having an internal crisis about her position on the team. That compounded with the anxiety she felt about the public nature of their young relationship was on its way to driving her insane. 

“Linds, I can’t predict the future. God knows, I wish I could, but I do know that you are an amazing player, maybe even the best player, and that you are going to have one hell of an Olympic tournament, okay?” 

“You don’t know that.” 

Kelley wished more than anything that she could go back in time and rescue Lindsey from Paris, from that place that left her struggling for years. Kelley prayed every night, asking Him to take away Lindsey’s pain, to help her see how special she is, to give her peace. Because Lindsey deserved peace. After a lifetime of being told she wasn’t good enough simply because she didn’t fit someone else’s conventional idea of beauty, being told that her strength was a hinderance rather than her greatest asset, she deserved at least that much. Sure, it had been years since she played for that man, but the mindset he drilled into her still flared up every once in a while. Lindsey did a good job of masking her worries and insecurities most of the time, but now, while she was home alone on a rainy night, thousands of miles away from all her people, Lindsey couldn’t hide.  

“Yes, I do. Whether it’s as the six or at center forward or wherever he puts you, you’re going to be great. There’s not a position you can’t handle.” Kelley hadn’t intended for it to sound dirty, but she smiled wryly, waiting for Lindsey to turn around and look at her. If nothing else, Kelley’s jokes would bring her back. 

“You’re not funny.” Lindsey deadpanned. 

“Excuse you? I’m very funny. Probably the funniest person you know.” 

“That’s Sonny but good try!” The blonde giggled softly and it warmed Kelley’s heart. 

*** 

When Lindsey smacked that volley against Mexico, Kelley used every bit of strength in her body not to kiss her girlfriend in the middle of the field. The goal she had been waiting to hit, the one she practiced over and over again, every day at practice, the one she was so proud of. Her uninhibited joy was enough for Kelley, seeing Lindsey so happy would always be enough. 

That night, she begged Rose to spend the night with Alex. Once they got to Tokyo, they had to be completely locked in, which meant no time for girlfriends. These were their last moments of peace before one of the most stressful times in their lives. It took some groveling and the promise to plant a pair of Skechers in Lindsey’s bag, but Rose agreed, and Kelley skipped off to Lindsey’s room. 

The blonde was sprawled out on her bed and dropped her phone on her face when Kelley swung open the door, backpack slung over her shoulder. The older woman had to choke back her surprise at seeing Lindsey lounging in just her sports bra and a pair of too short shorts. 

“Hot damn, baby!” 

“Curfew is in, like, ten minutes.” Lindsey rolled her eyes.

“I know.” 

“Shouldn’t you be in your room?” 

“I am.” Kelley grinned, dropping her bag and launching herself onto the bed. “Want to have a sleepover?” 

Lindsey didn’t say anything, she just grabbed the back of Kelley’s neck and pulled her in for a kiss. Kelley lowered herself so that she was lying on top of her girlfriend, their bodies as close as possible. Lindsey threaded her fingers into Kelley’s hair as the brunette kissed her harder into the mattress, hands running up and down her side. Hearing Lindsey moan softly caused Kelley to pull back, eliciting a whine. 

“Are you okay?”  

“More than okay.” Lindsey chuckled; eyes still closed. “I’m ready, Kel.” 

“You sure?” Kelley was trying her hardest not to let her body get the better of her, trying not to jump Lindsey’s bones unless that was what she really wanted.  

“So sure, baby.” Lindsey replied dreamily as her hands ran up under Kelley’s shirt, tugging at it until the brunette lifted it off. “Mhmm... so beautiful, Kel. Love your freckles.” Lindsey pulled them back together, lips on Kelley’s neck.  

She wasn’t expecting Lindsey to be this bold, to take charge a little, and it turned her on. Wedging a thigh between Lindsey’s insanely muscular legs, she flexed to give her girlfriend something to work against. Kelley ran her fingertips over Lindsey’s shoulders while she kissed and touched every place she could reach. Her lips and teeth nipped at the skin covering Lindsey's ribcage, making the taller girl hum with pleasure beneath her.   

Kelley reached behind herself and unclasped her own bra, letting the straps fall down her shoulders. Lindsey took the cue and pulled it off, her hands covering Kelley’s breasts as she kissed her neck again. Kelley hooked her fingers on Lindsey’s bra, gliding it up and over, her heaving chest left bare. Kelley pulled away to toss the bra across the room, where it landed on the desk chair. 

“Touch me, please baby.” Lindsey whimpered after the third or fourth time Kelley’s hands went just slightly beneath the waistband of her underwear. Her hand finally slid down, dipping all the way inside her. The pressure from Kelley’s palm against her was enough to make Lindsey moan, it had been so long since someone has touched her like that. “Fuck, Kel.”  

Kelley tried her best to draw out Lindsey’s pleasure, she deserved to be taken care of, but the sounds the blonde was making any time Kelley did anything, was making it hard to concentrate. 

“Oh... oh fuck, Kel! Oh my god!” Lindsey bit at her own hand, not wanting to endure teasing from all their teammates in the morning. Sam was next door and would probably die of secondhand embarrassment if she heard them. But then, Kelley’s tongue was on her and there was no chance of being quiet. “Shit! Oh... yes, baby! Fuck... fuck yes!” Lindsey had never come like that in her life, not even close. With Kelley’s mouth on her and her fingers inside, Lindsey would have collapsed if she wasn’t already on the bed.  

“How are you feeling?” Kelley kissed her way back up to Lindsey’s lips, letting the younger woman taste herself.  

“You really have to ask?” Lindsey giggled breathlessly. “Can’t believe I’ve been missing out on doing that with you for so long!” She kissed Kelley again, deeper, flipping them over. 

“Linds... you don’t have to...” Kelley breathed, her body betraying her as Lindsey kissed down between her breasts, one of her hands dipping underneath Kelley’s underwear. 

“Want to.” The blonde replied, nipping at Kelley’s perfect abs. “You’ll tell me if I’m not doing right though, won’t you?” 

“Doubt that’ll happen, don’t worry.”  

Kelley whined when Lindsey sat up. “Promise me, Kel.” Lindsey tried to mask her fear with a somewhat authoritarian tone. Kelley saw through it, though she pretended not to. 

“I promise, baby.”   

Lindsey pulled her hand back and licked the finger she had dipped into Kelley before pulling down her underwear and running her fingers down Kelley’s thighs. “Gorgeous.” 

Kelley turned pink while Lindsey looks her up and down, memorizing her naked form. “Can you just—” 

“I’m appreciating,” Lindsey said, playful smile across her face. 

“Trust me, you’ll get to appreciate this for a while,” Kelley said. “Right now, I just need to—” 

She doesn’t get the chance to finish her sentence because she let out a moan when Lindsey entered her with two fingers suddenly. “What was that?”  

God, where did that confidence come from? Kelley thought. Sexy as hell.  

“Nothing,” Kelley gasped. “Keep… keep going.”  

It doesn’t take long for Kelley to shake and tighten around Lindsey’s fingers, her eyes squeezed shut. As she was coming back down, Kelley pulled Lindsey up to kiss her. “Holy shit, Linds. Don't take this the wrong way, but I wasn’t expecting your first time doing that to go so well.” 

“Yeah?” Lindsey asked, pride in her voice.  

“Hell yeah, baby!” Kelley cuddled in next to her, pulling up the comforter and tangling their legs together.  

*** 

Lindsey fiddled with the straps of her bag while they waited to board the plane. She didn’t hate flying, but she sure didn’t love it. She knew it was dumb, she’d been flying on planes her whole life, but she still felt nervous every time. Maybe it was because of the length of the flight, maybe the longest she’d ever been on, or maybe it was the fact that no matter how many times she got on one, her brain automatically supplied the irrational fear that a giant metal object shouldn’t be able to hurtle through the air effortlessly, but she was nervous. She forced herself to drop the straps, only to start spinning the bracelet Kelley had made her instead. The it was made of beads in all Lindsey’s favorite colors and included letter beads that spelled out THG (The Great Horan). 

“I wanted to make it ‘LH heart KO’ but too many cameras will be on us, and you know how crazy some of these fans can get.” She had told Lindsey when she slipped it onto her wrist.  

Lindsey looked up at the sound of footsteps approaching in the airport and couldn’t help but giggle. Kelley was striding toward her with a cup of coffee in each hand. Along with her mask, she was sporting a pilot’s hat and sunglasses, completely obscuring her face.  

“Excuse me, sir? I was wondering if you’d seen my friend? Her name is Kelley. She’s about yay-high and bears some resemblance to a squirrel.” 

“It’s me, silly!” Kelley played along. “Here, something to hold so you can stop fidgeting.” She handed the blonde one of the cups. 

“I don’t know if coffee is the best for me before getting on—” 

“It’s decaf, don’t worry. And sickly sweet, just the way you like it.” Even with her face mostly covered, Lindsey could see the way Kelley’s nose wrinkled.  

They boarded the plane and Lindsey settled down into the, thankfully, comfortable seat. Kelley and Sonny were splitting custody of her for the flight, and Kelley had won the first half. She pulled a blanket out of her bag and curled up next to Lindsey, pressing a soft kiss to her lips. Having Kelley’s arm tucked securely around her waist helped Lindsey settle, feel safe. She squeezed her eyes shut on the take-off, gripping Kelley’s hand tight.  

“You’re okay, Linds. Promise.” Kelley cooed, rubbing circles with her thumb under Lindsey’s atrocious, yellow, team-issued shirt. 

Once they were in the sky, Kelley let Lindsey subject her to hours of Grey’s Anatomy until she fell asleep with Kelley tucked into her side.  

When the plane touched down, Kelley linked their fingers, pressing a kiss to the back of her hand.  

“Alright, let’s go get my baby a gold medal!”  
 

Chapter Text

And it's almost perfect tonight
As the storm is raging outside
One kiss and I open my eyes

 

USA v Sweden  

They didn’t speak to each other after the game. Kelley was too angry and Lindsey was too upset. They’d lost. Not only did they lose, but they got kicked in the face by the one team where they felt they had something to prove. Instead, they proved that Sweden, once again, was their Achilles heel.

Kelley stewed in her room, quietly though because Alex would murder her for ruining her beauty sleep. She thought back to every poor pass, every giveaway, every mistake, and went over them again and again. Kelley had always been one-track minded. It was what had gotten her to this level in soccer. It was what got her into the engineering program at Stanford. It was what made her the uber competitive individual she was. But while she was thinking about the game, she wasn’t just thinking about her own issues, she spent a lot of time going over what Lindsey went through. Lindsey had been thrust into a new position, which she was already unsure about, and had been lured into a false sense of security by playing only against teams of lesser caliber, therefore allowing her to get completely neutralized and run over by the Swedes. Kelley stared up at the ceiling and thought of all the moments throughout the game where she should've been there to help Lindsey figure it out. She felt like a failure, she felt like she had hung her girlfriend out to dry.

It wasn’t until after midnight when there was a soft rapping at Kelley’s hotel room door. She climbed out of bed, nearly tripping over the heavy comforter that she kicked off, feeling like it was suffocating her, and slowly opened the door, trying to stay as quiet as possible. On the other side, wearing the stupid pajama pants printed with French bulldogs that Kelley had given her for her birthday, was Lindsey. Her eyes were red-rimmed from crying and she was clutching that tie dye hoodie she loved so much. Without speaking, Kelley let her into the room and pulled her girlfriend into a deep, bone crushing hug. She could feel Lindsey’s hot tears on her neck as she walked them back to the bed.  

“Shhh. It’s okay, everything is okay, baby.” Kelley stroked Lindsey’s hair. 

But it wasn’t okay. Not really. Realistically, Kelley knew that losing a game would happen sometime, it always does. But to lose the game that badly? She hasn’t been prepared for that. And if she was being honest, she had hoped that the eventual loss wouldn’t come until she was gone. 

Kelley had never been the one people turned to for comfort. She was always too abrasive and blunt. She hated when people sugarcoated things for her, why would she do it for anyone else? Well, maybe not anyone. If she didn’t think Lindsey would see right through it, Kelley would lie if it took away even the smallest bit of her pain.  

They didn’t speak for a long time. Kelley laid them down, cradling Lindsey in her arms and hugged her close, tucking the blonde’s head into the crook of her neck. If Alex heard the sobs from the next bed, she didn’t make it known and Kelley was grateful to her best friend for it. She stroked Lindsey’s hair methodically, trying to calm her breathing and lull her to sleep.

“It’s all my fault.” Lindsey said, the first words that came out coherently enough for Kelley to understand.

“No, no it’s not.” Kelley tried to reassure her, kissing her hairline.

“Then why did he have to bring on Julie at the half? I was sucking so bad that he would rather have someone with only one good knee out there instead of me.”

“Linds, you did what they told you to do and it didn’t work. This is on them. They wanted to waste your talent back there and they chose not to bring Andi or someone else who plays like JJ. You did your best, okay?”

Lindsey didn’t say anything back and Kelley didn’t push. She just kept a soothing hand on the taller woman’s back as her breathing finally evened out and she fell into a restless sleep.

 

USA v New Zealand

Kelley waited by the door of the conference room that served as their dining room while in Tokyo. She heard Lindsey’s dolphin-like giggle as she and Abby came down the hall. As they walked in the door, Kelley shrieked and jumped onto Lindsey, whose reflexes caught her in her arms. 

“100 caps, baby!” Kelley yelled, kissing the top of Lindsey’s head.

She remembered Lindsey’s first cap, the 2013 Algarve Cup. Kelley didn’t play in that game and didn’t remember too much about that tournament, but she remembered those 15 minutes or so that she watched Lindsey play. She was still playing as a forward then, the goal scoring machine from PSG, and subbed in near the end of the match. Kelley had heard of her before, everyone had because of the whole skipping college thing, but Kelley had never seen her play before. She didn’t have much to do, the US was already up by 4, but she was going to be a star, there was no doubt about that.

She did play in the game where Lindsey scored her first goal, but had already been subbed off. She remembered jumping up and down so much that she nearly rolled her ankle. Lindsey had been so excited and the more Kelley thought back to that moment, maybe she had been a little bit in love with the tall blonde (then brunette) all along.

She wasn’t playing in the game against New Zealand, which was probably for the best, Kelley still felt like she’d been run over by a truck after the Sweden game. But if it couldn’t be her, she was so happy that Sonny was on the field with Lindsey that night. 

Kelley was in the stands, watching intensely while trying to also follow the conversation Kristie and Lynn were having when the goal came. She could see it coming before it happened. As soon as JJ redirected the ball, she knew Lindsey would get on the end of it. With no fans in the stands, the satisfying sound of the ball hitting the net was magnified, as was Kelley’s guttural scream when it happened. People watching on tv might have thought a murder was being committed.

Afterward, Kelley convinced Abby to go stay with Alex for the night so that she and Lindsey could have the place to themselves. Lindsey walked into the room just before curfew and nearly let the door smack her in the face. Kelley was laying on the bed, clad in only a navy blue lingerie set.

“Hi, baby!”

“What are you…?” Lindsey’s brain was going haywire.

“You scored. In your 100th cap. At the Olympics.” Kelley sat up a little, gesturing for Lindsey to move toward the bed. “That needs to be celebrated.” She got up until she was on her knees, able to meet Lindsey at eye level. Kelley slid her hands under her girlfriend’s shirt, nails raking along Lindsey’s taut stomach. 

“Kel…” Lindsey panted as Kelley slid her leggings down, almost falling over as she tried to kick them off, which made Kelley laugh. 

Soon enough, Kelley had pulled Lindsey down onto the bed, flipping them until she was straddling the tall blonde.

“You did so good today, baby.” Kelley whispered against the shell of Lindsey’s ear. “So good. I wish I could’ve been out there with you.”

Lindsey tilted her head up and captured Kelley’s lips with her own, reaching around behind the brunette and unclasping her bra. ”Next time.” She ran her hands up and down Kelley’s sides as Kelley began to grind against her, breathing heavily. 

After pulling off Lindsey’s shirt, Kelley kissed her way down her girlfriend’s chest and abdomen, stopping just short of her final destination. She looked back up at Lindsey, who had one arm thrown across her face, which made Kelley frown. Lindsey was horrible at accepting compliments, praise, or attention. She kissed her way back up and gently pulled Lindsey’s hand away. 

“I want to see you. You’re so beautiful, Linds. So beautiful, don’t hide from me.” Kelley said. “Come on, show me that smile.” She reached around for the spot on Lindsey’s ribcage where she was ticklish.

“Stop!” Lindsey laughed, trying to squirm out from under Kelley’s touch.

“There she is!” Kelley cooed, pulling them together for a kiss. 

“Can you please get back to what you were doing before?” Lindsey whimpered slightly.

“Hmm… I think I forgot. What was I doing?” Lindsey tried to slug her but Kelley evaded her, squealing.

Later, after Kelley made her come more times than she thought possible, Lindsey pulled the smaller woman to her chest. 

“Thanks, Kel.”

“For what?” Kelley twisted until they were face to face. “You don’t have to thank me after each time…”

“Shut up!” Lindsey saw the smirk on her girlfriend’s face and shoved her playfully. “I was going to say thank you for always believing in me. I wish you had been down there today.”

Kelley pressed her lips softly against Lindsey’s. “We’ll just have to celebrate again for your 101th cap.”

 

USA v. Australia

(literally nothing happened here so we’re moving on)

 

USA v. Netherlands

Kelley knew as soon as she hit the ground. She wasn’t sure exactly what had happened, but she did know that a player from the other team was under her on the ground. She knew before the whistle was blown. A penalty. She had given away a penalty to the other team in a knockout game of the Olympics. 

Well, that’s it. She thought to herself. I’m toast.

She didn’t argue, she knew what she’d done, or what she caused, at least. She trusted Alyssa, probably trusted her more than just about anyone on the team. She had known Alyssa for what felt like her entire life, they were like sisters. Which also meant the messy pit of guilt in Kelley’s stomach bubbled more and more because she knew it was her fault Alyssa was in this situation.

As they all lined up for the kick, she felt Lindsey give her shoulder a squeeze. A silent reminder, I’m here, no matter what.

When she saved it, Kelley could have cried. But instead, she played the remainder of that game like she was a tiger mom. She wasn’t letting anything past her. If Miedema got the ball, it wasn’t going to be because of Kelley’s mistake. 

Extra time was brutal. She couldn’t remember the last time she played 120+ minutes, but her adrenaline was pumping. When it came to penalties, she held her breath. She knew there was a chance she could be called upon to take a kick if they got that far, but she had faith in her teammates. 

Lindsey took a deep breath as she watched Pinoe step up to take her kick. If the older player missed, it would be up to Lindsey to win it for her team and she needed to be ready. Though, of course, Pinoe rocketed the shot into the top corner and suddenly, they were playing for a medal. An Olympic medal. 2016 was officially in the rearview, they were going to get that medal if Lindsey had to drag her team to the finish single handedly. 

She watched as her team celebrated, especially watching Kelley. Lindsey knew that Kelley had been terrified that she had blown it. She saw it in Kelley’s eyes, the fear that her entire career could boil down to this one mistake if it was what cost the team a medal. She was wrapped around Alyssa, surely crying as she heaped praise on their keeper. Lindsey let them have their moment and hung back with Sonnett and Rose for a bit. 

Later on, she discovered Kelley had separated herself from the group and Lindsey found her off near the goalpost, sobbing. Lindsey raced to her side, hugging her tight. For a while, Kelley couldn’t speak. She couldn’t explain the overwhelming relief she was feeling, like the weight of the anvil on her chest had been lifted, even if just momentarily, and she couldn’t stop crying. But Lindsey understood, she always did. She sat there, next to Kelley, and held her hand until the brunette was able to calm down. Once her breathing was back to normal, Lindsey pulled Kelley to her feet and wrapped her in a tight hug. 

“Guess we’re going to have some more fun at Table 3, huh?” She chuckled as Kelley buried her face in Lindsey’s neck.

“The best table.” Kelley sniffled, pulling back to smile at her girlfriend.

“I’m so proud of you, baby.” Lindsey smiled and Kelley knew she really meant it. She dropped her head again to Lindsey’s shoulder and pressed her nose into her neck, savoring this memory. This moment neither of them would ever forget. 

By this point in the tournament, Abby and Alex had basically accepted that they would be rooming together so that Kelley and Lindsey could share a room. Kelley appeared from the bathroom wearing just one of Lindsey’s tee shirts, which dwarfed her and made her look somehow smaller as she climbed into the bed and curled around Lindsey, nestling against her chest. Lindsey stroked Kelley’s back, fingernails lightly scratching between her shoulder blades.

“I’m so fucking proud of you, Kel.” Lindsey said, her lips in Kelley’s hair.

“You told me already.” Kelley buried her face further into Lindsey’s soft shirt, not wanting to relive the moments from earlier in the evening. 

“Well, you deserve to hear it again. And again. Most people wouldn’t have been able to stay locked in after a penalty call like that. I know I wouldn’t.”

“You would have been fine.” Kelley tucked a hand under Lindsey’s shirt, flattening her palm against Lindsey’s warm skin.

“Let me say nice things about you, please?”

Kelley sighed. “Okay, baby.”

“You may not want to believe it, but you’re a rock for us, Kel. You’re one of the most important pieces here and I hate the fact no one tells you that enough.” Lindsey huffed, frustrated by the thought. “You are such an integral part of this team, baby, and I couldn’t do this without you. I just want you to know that.”

I also want you to know that I love you. Lindsey thought to herself. But now’s not the time.

“Integral, huh?” She could feel Kelley smile against her chest. “That’s a big word for someone that didn’t even go to college.”

 

USA v. Canada

They lost. 

There would be no gold medal.

When the whistle blew, Lindsey collapsed on the field near the sideline. Her legs just gave out, from exhaustion or heartbreak she wasn’t quite sure, and she laid there on the ground, staring up at a dark sky. 

A penalty kick. A fucking penalty kick. A bad call on Tierna had given Canada the lead and then they parked the bus. In the coming days, maybe she would give Canada the kudos they probably deserved, but in the moment, Lindsey was too upset to care much about how well their opponent played. 

She couldn’t speak. She laid there in silence for several minutes, unable to process. She felt Sonnett’s familiar presence nearby, so she turned her head to see her best friend hovering protectively over her, like she had so many times before. Sonnett had never been someone who was great with words and Lindsey loved her for knowing that nothing she said would make Lindsey feel any better anyways.

Eventually, she sat up and watched her friends and teammates mill around aimlessly. She saw Tobin and Christen comforting one another, she saw Pinoe reach down to say something to Carli, who was bent over with her head in her hands, and Tierna, who was holding it together way better than Lindsey, was attempting to smile at something Casey said. 

But Lindsey was frozen.

Kelley watched her from a little ways away for a while. She knew that telling Lindsey everything was going to be okay would go in one ear and out the other in that moment. She knew that Lindsey had it in her brain that she was somehow the reason this game ended the way it did. The tall blonde had a habit of trying to take the blame for any and every loss. If she couldn’t help the team to a win, she would try to carry the full weight of the loss. Kelley could already see Lindsey breaking down from across the field and made her way over toward her girlfriend.

She knew Lindsey wouldn’t want to talk, not that Kelley had anything to say that she thought could help, so she tried something else. Kelley stood behind Lindsey, giving her shoulder a squeeze to make sure the blonde knew she was there. Then she took Lindsey’s hair in her hands, her heavy, thick hair, and gently pulled the ponytail holder out. Lindsey made a soft noise as Kelley raked her fingernails through her scalp one time before pulling the hair off Lindsey’s neck into a bun. 

Stepping in front of her, Kelley crouched down until she and Lindsey were face to face. The pain on her girlfriend’s face nearly broke Kelley, who was doing everything in her power to hold back her tears already. She wrapped her palm around Lindsey’s cheek, gently tilting it until those watery, green-grey eyes were staring back at her. 

I love you. Kelley thought, hoping she would suddenly be blessed with telekinetic powers. She leaned further into Lindsey’s space, resting their foreheads together, and squeezed her cheek softly. She hoped the contact would be enough, it was the best way Kelley knew how to express herself. 

She watched Lindsey like a hawk the whole time they stayed on the field. The taller woman was pulled to her feet by SInc and Tobin hugged her tighter than was maybe comfortable. The ride back to the hotel was silent, with most of the players staring straight ahead while listening to their earbuds. But Kelley turned back to check on Lindsey just about every two minutes. She knew that Sonnett was probably suffering in silence with Lindsey squeezing her hand so tight it could break. 

Lindsey seemed to be just going through the motions as she got ready for bed and Kelley was officially worried about her. She was almost catatonic, acting solely on muscle memory as she moved around the room, and Kelley couldn’t take it anymore. She gripped Lindsey’s hands and pulled her onto the bed. 

“Linds… talk to me, please.” Kelley pleaded, brushing hair out of Lindsey’s face, revealing those piercing eyes, though now dulled with hurt. Lindsey didn’t speak, but she buried her face in Kelley’s shirt and the floodgates opened again. “Oh, baby, it’s okay, everything is going to be okay.” Kelley hugged her girlfriend tight as she cried.

It took time before Lindsey finally calmed enough to lay down, wrapping herself around Kelley under the blankets. 

“I’m sorry, Kel.”

“For what?” Kelley was genuinely confused.

“That I couldn’t get you that gold medal. I know you wanted another one really bad.” Lindsey sniffled, tucking her face away from view.

Kelley’s heart broke. Of course she wanted another gold medal, everyone did. She wanted something to wash the taste of 2016 out of her mouth. And she wanted one for Lindsey, who had left France because she was told she wouldn’t make rosters unless she was in the US, who had unimaginable expectations placed upon her shoulders since she was 17 years old, and who had continued to defy those expectations every day. 

“Lindsey… this is not your fault. You cannot take this on yourself.” Kelley said, pressing her lips into that blonde hair, taking in the florals of her shampoo. “Baby, you would strap every single one of us on your back and find some way to cross the finish line if they let you, but you shouldn’t have to.”

“But—”

“Let me finish!” Kelley smacked Lindsey’s butt playfully. “We have to put today in the rearview, we don’t have enough time to dwell. We are going to kick ass against Australia and come home with a medal. It may not be the one we want, but it’s an Olympic medal. And then we’re going to rent a house in Manhattan Beach for two weeks, turn our phones off, and I’m going to teach you how to surf, okay?”

Lindsey tilted her head to give Kelley a sleepy, half-smile. “Okay, Keppy.”

 

USA v. Australia II (Plus a Birthday)

They were finishing their dinners and listening to an interactive re-telling of how Sam and Abby got stuck in the elevator earlier and how Sam decided to try and climb through the ceiling when Lindsey left the table to go to the bathroom. Or, at least that’s what she told Kelley. Lindsey took the cake from their team chef. She had snuck a pack of soccer ball birthday candles that she found and wanted to use them to make Kelley’s cake extra special. Then she got to bring the cake into the room, singing at the top of her lungs. 

Somehow even after three other birthdays at camp, Kelley was surprised by the celebration. Her wide smile melted Lindsey’s heart. If she had to choose her favorite Kelley smile, the pure, child-like joy would always win, but her early morning sleepy smile was a close second. Kelley wiggled in her chair, waiting to blow out the candles. The beaded bracelets Lindsey had made (using Kelley’s supplies) and given to her that morning, were jingling as she danced. There were three, each with a different message on them. Keppy Paws. Peach. LH <3 KO.  

“Yay, Keppy!” 

Lindsey couldn’t help but look around the room and notice just how much their teammates loved Kelley. The excitement, the way Alex was yelling at her to blow the candles out, seeing Pinoe and Crystal dancing in the far corner, and of course Sonnett and Rose standing on their chairs, it all seemed so inexplicably Kelley. And as much as Lindsey was ready for this tournament to be over, she was not ready to be separated from this group.

Later that evening, the two women laid in bed together while searching AirBnB for a place on the beach. Kelley had set them a bedtime because of the game the next day, but Lindsey was really good at getting her to forget about rules.

“Oh look!” Kelley pulled up one house to show her. “Right on the beach, huge deck, hot tub, and that view from the bedroom!”

“Looks perfect, baby.” Lindsey mumbled against Kelley’s neck, leaving kisses.

“You didn’t even look.” Kelley feigned exasperation, arching just slightly into her girlfriend’s touch.

“I found something better to look at.” And then Lindsey captured Kelley’s lips with her own.

“Oh yeah?” Kelley asked between kisses.

“And it happens to still be her birthday.” Lindsey rolled them until she was on top of her girlfriend. “So… what did you wish for?”

“I can’t tell you or it won’t come true!” Kelley whined playfully, running her hands along Lindsey’s thighs.

“Was it dirty? I bet it was dirty!” Lindsey giggled, leaning back down. 

“No! But I’m having some dirty thoughts right now.” Kelley's hands snaked under Lindsey’s tee shirt and slid it up and over her head, leaving the blonde in just her underwear. Lindsey moaned softly with Kelley’s lips on her nipple, grinding down into the brunette’s lap. She gave in for a moment before sitting back, making Kelley groan. “Come back here!”

“Are you sure? Because I was thinking about whether or not I could spell ‘Happy Birthday’ with my tongue but if you don’t want that…” Lindsey grinned, slowly sliding down until her mouth was hovering above Kelley’s center.

“I want that… Please, I want it.” Kelley was panting now. “Linds… fuck!” And then Lindsey’s mouth was on her. Kelley’s hands automatically found their way to Lindsey’s scalp, keeping her in place as she licked through Kelley. “Oh god…” She bit down on her lower lip to try and stop herself from screaming. Lindsey laid a steady hand on Kelley’s stomach, trying to hold back Kelley’s hips as they bucked wildly. “Yes, yes, yes! Fuck yes, baby! I’m…” 

Lindsey gently kissed her inner thighs as Kelley came down, slowly making her way back up to her lips. She stroked Kelley’s hair and pulled her in until she was curled around Lindsey’s side. She kissed Kelley’s hairline and whispered in her ear as those hazel eyes fluttered shut.

“Happy birthday, baby.”  

***

They won the bronze medal.

They won and Kelley, Lindsey, and Sonnett all got to be on the field together when it happened. 

Kelley sprinted from the other side of the field and launched herself into Lindsey’s arms, not unlike the way she had jumped into Alex’s arms after the game against France.

“We did it!” Kelley screamed as Lindsey spun her around. “We did it, baby!”

Lindsey put her down, but didn’t let go of her waist. It took everything in both of them to not start making out right in the middle of the field. She briefly wondered if anyone would notice if they did now that so many eyes were on Kristie comforting Sam Kerr. 

“This is what I wished for, Linds!” Kelley buried her face in Lindsey’s neck, her favorite spot, which had been clearly sculpted with her in mind, and let herself breathe, soaking it all in. Lindsey rubbed her back for a moment before speaking.

“Hey Kel?” The brunette just hummed dreamily. “Kelley… I— I love you.” It all rushed out of her before she could stop it. And now she’d said it.

Kelley pulled back to look Lindsey in the eyes, this time they were tinged with fear, a fear that she had just bared her soul and would be turned down. 

“I love you too, Linds.” Kelley smiled, wrapping her arms around the taller woman’s arms. “I love you so fucking much, baby.”

Because of protocols, the players would be giving their teammates their medals rather than someone in charge. The other teams all lined up in number order, but of course the Americans had to be different. Kristie and Sam had to be together, of course Tobin and Christen stuck together at the end of the line, and Kelley gripped Lindsey’s hand tight. There was no way she was letting JJ or Carli give Lindsey her medal, not a chance. 

Lindsey bent down a little so that Kelley could drape the ribbon around her neck and the gigantic smile across her face was not something Kelley would ever forget. As they linked hands with the rest of their teammates, the two women turned to each other and mouthed I love you.

Chapter Text

It's a deep cut, crazy rush
To feel like us

 

Lindsey wasn’t a good surfer. In fact, she was pretty terrible. She tried and tried, listening to Kelley try and teach her, but she hadn’t even come close to riding a wave, she could only stand up on the board once out of ten tries so far. It wasn’t like Kelley was some expert teacher though, she knew enough to explain what it should look like but didn’t have many solutions when what she said didn’t work.

“C’mon Linds, it's like doing a pushup or a burpee.”

“I hate burpees.” Lindsey muttered, climbing back onto the board.

Kelley chuckled a little, standing in the waist-deep water  and Lindsey splashed water at her, making her squeal. “You look really hot when you do them though, just so you know. You have some nice muscles, babe.” Lindsey rolled her eyes and began heading back out. 

She waited until there was a swell that didn’t seem too big and started paddling in. She could hear Kelley yelling out instructions, but the roar of the water and the wind drowned out the actual words. Lindsey tried to wait for the perfect time to catch the wave, pushing up and using her core to try and pull her feet up under her. She popped up on the board but the moment she stood up, ready to raise her arms in triumph, she became unbalanced and the board flipped out from underneath her, sending Lindsey into the water. 

It took her a moment to figure out which way was up as the waves rolled on above her. Her leash tugged somewhat painfully at her ankle as her board was tossed around. Suddenly, she felt hands under her arms pulling her to the surface and pushing her into the board to hold onto it.

“Shit, Linds, baby, are you okay?” Kelley’s voice was frantic. She pushed Lindsey’s wet hair out of her face and seemed to check her up and down for signs of injury.

Lindsey sputtered a little before she spoke. “Fine, just got turned around and swallowed a lot of water. These things are stupid though.” She lifted her ankle above the water and pointed at the leash, which had left a red ring around Lindsey’s ankle and made Kelley smile.

“Yeah but that thing is how I knew where you were.” She reached under the water and undid the velcro, attaching it to her own ankle. “I think that’s enough surfing for today, hop on.”

Lindsey climbed fully onto the board and let Kelley tow her into shore. She laid down on her towel in the sand, sighing overdramatically. 

“You promise you’re okay?” Kelley asked for the eighth time.

“Kel, I’m fine.” Lindsey waved her off. “Go back out there and have fun.”

“But…”

“Baby, we came here for us both to relax. Being out there relaxes you better than anything I’ve seen or tried. I like watching you like that, okay?” Lindsey craned her neck to look up at Kelley and smiled. “Show me some tricks!” Kelley smirked and before she ran back out into the water, she dropped down to kiss her girlfriend. It was probably a little dirty for a public beach, but Kelley didn’t care anymore. 

Lindsey maneuvered her towel so that she could face the water and watch Kelley. The brunette was definitely showing off as she cut in and out of waves, riding one after the other while Lindsey watched her. She wasn’t lying when she said being out on the water was the most relaxed Kelley ever seemed. Well, that and directly after sex but Lindsey liked that she was the only person that got to see that. 

Eventually Kelley came back to shore and flopped down next to Lindsey on a towel, but not before shaking all the water out of her hair and directly onto her girlfriend, causing Lindsey to shriek, rolling over to try and avoid the spray.

“Ah! I was almost totally dry!”

“Not anymore!” Kelley giggled, dropping down and laying her head on Lindsey’s taut stomach. 

Lindsey huffed but threaded her fingers through her girlfriend’s wet hair, attempting to detangle it gently. Kelley let out a contented sigh. Lindsey closed her eyes, just listening to the waves crashing on the shore and Kelley's soft breathing.

Kelley had meant what she said about the two of them spending two weeks together uninterrupted. She took Lindsey’s phone when they got to the beach house and locked it and hers in a pocket of her suitcase. There was a number to the house in case of emergencies that she gave to Sonnett and Alex, but otherwise, they were completely isolated and it was amazing. She wanted to soak up her time with Lindsey before they had to separate. She contemplated asking Erin if Lindsey could come to the bachelorette weekend, but then decided Lindsey would have felt awkward even if Kelley’s sister let her come. Though after the surfing lessons, Kelley was dying to see how bad she would do on a paddle board. 

They spent the rest of the day on the beach just being, enjoying each other’s company.

“What are you most looking forward to in Tahoe?” Lindsey asked.

“Is it cheesy to say I’m just excited to see Erin? I haven’t seen her in so long.”

“Not cheesy at all, Kel. I did think you were going to say ‘being able to drink a shit ton of beer’ but that’s a much better answer.” Kelley swatted her girlfriend’s stomach playfully. “I think getting to see your sister is important. I’m happy I’ll get to see Mike.”

They only had one more night before they split off for about a month, Kelley and Sonnett would be coming to Portland for a game soon enough. Lindsey had played against Kelley plenty, she had never played against Sonny so that will take some getting used to. 

Kelley took them to an old hole-in-the-wall seafood spot and ordered takeout so they could sit on the beach while the sun began to set. With a mouthful of fish taco, she leaned into Lindsey, resting against her strong shoulders. 

“I think I want to live out here one day.” She mused. “I’ve always dreamed of living on the beach. Or maybe Hawaii for a little while, that would be awesome.”

“But you have to keep playing.” Lindsey replied softly. 

Kelley knew she was on borrowed time when it came to playing soccer. Not only because of her stupid ankles, but also for the simple fact that there were others working their butts off to replace her. Others like Sonnett, whom Kelley would be more than okay with taking her spot. When she did stop playing, she had no idea how she would handle that, but she did know that it had one upside.

“If I’m not playing, I can come to Portland and you can be my sugar daddy for a while.” The brunette laughed but Lindsey didn’t. “Linds, what’s wrong?”

“What if we’re not the same?” Kelley coked her head to the side, not understanding. “Won’t you be sad if you’re not playing? If you came to live with me it would get rubbed in your face all the time and I don’t want that.”

Of course Lindsey was nervous. She knew how much soccer meant to Kelley and she wouldn’t want to be a daily reminder of what she left behind. Lindsey had always been worried that the people closest to her would slip away. Like Tobin, Sonny, and literally all her friends leaving or being pushed out of Portland. Like her brother when he left for college and almost never came home to visit. She hated not being in control and Kelley could sense she was on the verge of a spiral.

“Hey,” Kelley set her food down so she could climb into Lindsey’s lap, forcing the younger woman to make eye contact. “I’m not retired yet. Once I win the league championship I might be open to it.” Lindsey scoffed at her goodnaturedly as if to say in your dreams. “But I’m not going anywhere, baby. If you want me to come to Portland, I will be the most obnoxious fan in that stadium cheering for you. If you don’t want me there, I will cheer from afar.”

“Course I want you there!” Lindsey gripped Kelley’s hips tighter. “I just don’t want to look at me and see soccer, see the thing you won’t get to do anymore.”

“I won’t get to do you anymore if I retire?” Kelley joked, pressing a kiss to the side of Lindsey’s mouth.

“You know that’s not what I meant.”

“Lindsey, watching you play soccer is one of my favorite things in life, did you know that?” The tall blonde shook her head. “Well, it is. You are so good, baby, I don’t think you realize how important you are to this team, to this sport. You’re strong, you’re smart, no one in the world can place a ball the way you can. But do you want to know my favorite thing about watching you?” Lindsey nodded. “You’re happy, all the time. Even when you’re bulldozing people out of the way, you’re so happy to be out there. And seeing you happy is my favorite thing in the whole, wide world, okay? So, I will watch you play every minute I can to see you happy.”

The blonde woman tucked her head into Kelley’s neck, mumbling something that sounded like I love you and Kelley let her stay there for a moment. Neither of them were the best with words, especially when their body language did most of the talking anyways. The smaller brunette turned around in Lindsey’s lap so they could both watch the sun as it set over the ocean. Lindsey wrapped her arms tight around her and hooked her chin on Kelley’s shoulder, leaving a soft kiss where it met her neck.

***

“You sure you don’t want to come over for a little while at least?”

“And watch you two suck face all night? No thanks, I’ll be ordering room service under your name at the hotel instead.”

The Spirit players had just landed in Portland and Kelley was heading straight to Lindsey’s apartment from the airport. She knew Sonnett was feeling a little odd being back for the first time, so Kelley wanted to make sure she wasn’t left to her own devices too long.

“You know my card number?”

“I have your card.” Sonnett barked, pulling Kelley’s credit card from her back pocket. “You need to be better at protecting your shit on planes.”

“Just save me some.”

The rest of the team headed in the direction of the bus while Kelley made her way to the car pickup. Lindsey was posted up against her car, a bouquet of flowers resting in her hands. She hadn’t spotted Kelley yet, so the older woman took the opportunity to soak her in. Her hair was extra shiny in the sometimes rare Portland sunshine and she was tapping her fingers impatiently against her shorts. She was chewing on the inside of her cheek, her nervous tell, while her eyes darted around. Kelley watched her meet a little girl and her mom, Lindsey signing her shirt and crouching down to take a picture. Kelley waited until the family had moved on to their car before fully stepping outside where Lindsey could see her. 

The tall blonde smiled wide and pushed herself up from her car. She held her arms out and Kelley rushed to her, dropping her bag at Lindsey’s feet and burrowed into her chest. 

“Hi.” Lindsey said, unbalanced slightly by the force of Kelley’s hug. “Missed you too.”

They waited until they were in the care to share their first kiss in a month, away from prying eyes. It was just a soft peck, but Lindsey had missed her so much she had to restrain herself from wanting more in that moment. Instead, she gripped Kelley’s hand tightly over the center console, bringing it to her lips for a beat before driving them home.

When they got to Lindsey’s apartment, Kelley flopped down onto the bed face first. 

“Do you want me to make us some dinner before you fall asleep?” Lindsey leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed softly over her chest. Kelley turned her head to look at the tall blonde.

You’re going to make me dinner?” She asked quizzically.

“Shut up, I can follow a recipe!” 

Kelley sat at the bar top while Lindsey stirred the pasta she insisted on making, pushing Kelley out of the kitchen. Watching her move around the room made it hard for Kelley to stifle a laugh. Lindsey was clearly out of her element, dirtying every pot and pan she owned, which, to her credit, wasn’t very many. She was trying to stir while also chopping vegetables and watching the countdown on the over timer.

“Son of a bitch!” Lindsey yelped and Kelley was at her side in an instant. The blonde woman had cut her finger with the knife and it was bleeding profusely. Kelley took her hand and ran it under cold water. Luckily the actual cut wasn’t deep and Kelley wrapped it in a paper towel.

“Where’s your first aid kit?”

“Who has a first aid kit?”

Kelley rolled her eyes. “Bandaids? Gauze? Do you have those?” Lindsey pointed her to the bathroom. “Keep that elevated.” She returned with her arms full of medical supplies. She wrapped Lindsey’s finger tightly. “Trying to injure yourself so you don’t have to play against me?” Kelley joked.

“I play against you all the time.”

“Against Sonnett, then?” 

“It's just been building for so long and I don’t know how it’s going to go. We’ve never played on opposite teams.” Lindsey said sadly. “Maybe it would be better if I didn’t play.”

Kelley’s heart broke looking at Lindsey’s dejected face. “Baby, it will be okay, I promise. No matter who wins, but it will be the Spirit, you have to get this over with. For both your sakes.”

She was right, Lindsey knew it, but that didn’t make it easier. “Dinner is ruined now.”

“Um, did you forget you’re dating a master chef?” Kelley winked. “I think we can salvage this.”

A little while later, the two of them were spread out across the couch, their empty plates on the coffee table. Kelley was resting on top of Lindsey, her face nuzzling into the crook of the blonde’s neck while Lindsey stroked her hair and a rerun of some sitcom was playing in the background. This at-home feeling was one Kelley had been chasing for a long time. She had had it for a while with someone else, but with Lindsey it felt like nothing else she had ever experienced. She could lay there in Lindsey’s arms forever, feeling her chest rise and fall with her soft breathing. 

“Are you ready for bed?” Lindsey asked, her hands rubbing Kelley’s back.

“Mhmm… can’t we just stay right here?”

“So I wake up sore with my neck like this and some big rock sleeping on top of me? I sense your evil plan, Keppy.” Lindsey snorted.

“Who are you calling a rock, you giant?” Kelley buried her face deeper into Lindsey’s neck.

“C’mon, Kel.” 

Lindsey pushed herself up from the couch as Kelley clung tighter to her, wrapping her legs around the taller woman’s waist. There were moments sometimes where Kelley was caught off guard by just how strong her girlfriend was. Sure, she already knew that Lindsey was strong, they didn’t call her a bulldozer for nothing, but sometimes she just surprised Kelley with it quietly. Lindsey carried her to the bedroom, dropping her down onto the mattress, which made Kelley laugh. The taller woman tossed her a tee shirt, even though she knew Kelley had pajamas with her. She had never really vocalized it, but seeing Kelley in her clothes or with her name on Kelley’s back did something to her. Sure, it sometimes got her a little hot and bothered, but more than that, it made Lindsey feel warm inside at the reminder that this woman was hers, that Kelley was here with her and not someone else. So when she emerged from the bathroom, toothbrush still in her mouth and searching for her face wash, Lindsey just stared at her.

“What?” It came out muffled with her mouth full of toothpaste. “DId I get some on your shirt?” Kelley looked down at the shirt she was wearing. 

But Lindsey just shook her head. “Nothing, I just love you so much.”

Kelley looked at her with one of the softest expressions she had ever used. “Man, you are such a sap when you’re tired!”

Lindsey threw a pillow at her.

***

The Thorns won, though Kelley had harbored no thoughts of the Spirit taking points off the number one team in the league. She may be competitive, but she wasn’t blind. She hadn’t decided yet though how she felt about Lindsey being the one to score the only goal. At least it was off a free kick, not because she had gotten through either Kelley or Sonnett. She could tell Lindsey also felt a little odd about it too, which is exactly what Kelley didn’t want.

After the game, she climbed into Lindsey’s car, anxious to spend their last few hours together before being separated for a few weeks again. Lindsey drove them home, her hand resting softly against Kelley’s thigh, her thumb rubbing little circles. Normally, the motion would relax Kelley, get her to take deep breaths, but now it was having the opposite effect. She couldn’t tell if it was because she was still keyed up from a close game or because she knew it would be a while before she and Lindsey were alone together again, but Lindsey’s touch was only riling her up.

By the time they entered the apartment, Kelley couldn’t keep her hands to herself. Once inside the door, she dropped her bags and her hands found their way under Lindsey’s shirt, pulling her into a searing kiss. Lindsey was caught a little off guard, the brunette was usually so exhausted after games to do much of anything, but once she caught up, she was pulling Kelley’s shirt over her head. Kelley had gone braless after the game and Lindsey’s hands immediately found her breasts, causing the smaller woman to release a soft moan. She hooked her index finger around the waistband of Kelley’s sweatpants and pulled her back to the bedroom, their bags left by the door.

“You did so good tonight, baby.” Kelley whispered in Lindsey’s ear as she began undoing the drawstring of her pants. “You were so strong out there, it was sexy as hell.” She kissed Lindsey's neck, pulling away for a beat to pull off the blonde’s shirt. Kelley slipped one hand under her sports bra and the other into her pants  As she rubbed soft circles against Lindsey’s center over her underwear, she could feel the way the younger woman’s breathing was getting shallow as she gripped the sheets.

“Fuck, Kel…” Was all she could get out at the moment, scooting slightly down the bed so that she could take one of Kelley’s breasts in her mouth, tongue working against one of her nipples and then the other, causing the small brunette to arch into the touch, the rhythm of her fingers faltering slightly.

“Yes, baby, yeah just like that!” Kelley was already grinding herself against Lindsey’s still-clothed leg, the stimulation she was getting and giving were driving her a little wild. She pulled away and tried to focus her energy on getting her girlfriend’s pants off. She giggled a little when Lindsey attempted to kick them off, trying to move them along. “What do you want, baby?” Kelley asked, her hands trailing all over Lindsey’s naked body.

“Inside. Please, Kel, inside…” Lindsey panted, her eyes hooded as she looked down her body to see Kelley straddling one of her thighs. 

As she began to work Lindsey up, Kelley leaned forward to kiss her. “You’re so fucking hot, Linds. Scoring that goal? So hot, baby.” Kelley found herself grinding against Lindsey’s muscular thigh again as she spoke. She knew she could get off like this, getting Lindsey off wihile on top. She pushed two fingers inside, making Lindsey groan.

“Shit, shit, yes right there…” Lindsey squirmed against Kelley’s touch, her voice raw and a little higher than normal. Lindsey could feel Kelley working against her leg and moved her hands to rake over the smaller woman’s body, tweaking a nipple and digging her fingers into Kelley’s hips. Watching her move like that pushed Lindsey right to the edge. “Oh god, yes, yes, Kel… I’m…” Kelley picked up her pace and worked Lindsey until her head slammed back against the pillow and her thighs clamped around Kelley’s fingers. 

Watching Lindsey come undone was more than enough to make Kelley come, but then Lindsey flexed her thigh underneath and suddenly, her small body was contorting with pleasure. Kelley didn’t normally get too loud when she orgasmed, but she couldn’t help the way she moaned.

Before Kelley even really knew what was happening, Lindsey was sliding farther down the bed, sliding down until her face was directly in between Kelley’s legs. Just the thought of what was about to happen could’ve brought Kelley right back to the edge. She gripped the headboard of Lindsey’s bed as the blonde pulled her down to her mouth. One lick all the way through and Kelley had to bite down on her arm so as not to scream. 

“Oh fuck…” She shuddered, moving her body and riding Lindsey’s mouth. “Yes, baby… shit, Linds, yes, yes, oh god…” She was coming again before she knew it, Lindsey reaching up to cup her breasts again, and with that, her arms went slack and her body sagged. Lindsey slid out from underneath and pulled Kelley to her chest, pressing a kiss into her hair.

“I love you.” The blonde whispered.

Kelley pulled the comforter over the both of them before laying down next to Lindsey, fitting herself perfectly against her girlfriend’s body. “Love you more.”

***

There are too many damn people in this bridal party. That was all Kelley could think while she sat in her little folding chair. She sat there, happy to soak up some California sun, while she watched person after person walk down the aisle in different blue dresses. Finally, close to the end because she was maid of honor, came Lindsey. Her hair was pulled back into a fancy updo at the base of her neck, small tendrils framing her face. She looked gorgeous, Kelley thought, with her big smile and crinkles around her eyes. The blonde woman winked at her as she passed by and Kelley couldn’t help but giggle a little. 

The wedding was beautiful, but Kelley couldn’t take her eyes off Lindsey. In her opinion, she was the prettiest thing up there at the altar. She watched Lindsey fidget slightly with her bouquet, watched her try her best not to tear up at the vows, and watched her smile so broadly as she saw her friends walk away together as a married couple.

Kelley sipped on her drink during cocktail hour, waiting for the bridal party to finish taking photos. She didn’t know anyone at this wedding but she never had a problem meeting new people. She chatted with some nice women that knew Lindsey from childhood, trying to pry some embarrassing stories out of them. 

She was very grateful that their coaches had let the two of them leave camp early. Really, she was happy that Lindsey had been able to travel at all. Her knee wasn’t too banged up, but there was no need to put her under stress for a friendly, even though it went against everything in Lindsey’s person to sit on the bench. She was so proud of the fact that she had played in every game this year up until now. Kelley, on the other hand, was okay with missing the second game, Sonnett would do just fine in her place.

Finally, the wedding party made their grand entrance and Lindsey found her way to her girlfriend. The whole group had ditched their heels for fun sneakers, which meant that for once, Kelley was almost as tall as Lindsey in her three inch heels as she looped her arms around the taller woman’s neck.

“Hey, pretty lady!” Kelley cooed before leaning in to kiss her. “You look incredible, Linds.” 

The DJ was calling for everyone’s attention as the two brides found their way to the dance floor. Kelley turned around to face the couple as they shared their first dance. She felt Lindsey wrap her up from behind and they slowly swayed to the music. 

“How come we don’t have a song?” Lindsey asked, pressing her nose into Kelley’s shoulder.

“Do we need one?” Kelley smiled, turning her head and meeting Lindsey for a kiss. 

“No, I suppose we don’t.”