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The History of Art and Other Things

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For the life of her, Lindsey Horan could not remember why she agreed to this. It was already bad enough that it was 8 o’clock on the first Monday morning of her Junior year and she had practically fallen asleep in this lecture hall chair two seconds after sitting down. 

And then she had to worry through her Russian-sounding professor warning the class that it was going to be a very difficult class, especially for non-art majors. How she had ever allowed her academic advisor to convince her art history would be the perfect way to get her arts credit without actually having to do any art is beyond her. Maybe she would have been better off taking ceramics or something, even though she’s sure her math-brain couldn’t handle that.

On top of all of that, her professor had just introduced the TA specifically for last names H-O, and Lindsey is absolutely sure her math-brain can’t handle her. Her name was Emily Sonnett, and Lindsey is sure that this girl, with her oversized hoodie and Adidas stripe sweatpants, her white-blonde hair tied in a sloppy bun, and the softest, sleepy smile is the hottest girl she’s ever seen. 

She had introduced herself to the class as Sonny, a Junior art major, sociology minor who loved drawing and playing basketball, and had smiled that absolutely adorable smile when she had said that she was excited to help spread understanding and awareness of art.

There’s absolutely no way that Lindsey can last a whole semester in this class she’s absolutely going to need help from the TA in if this girl is going to be the one staring at her as she asks stupid questions.

 

 

Lindsey has never been smooth . She’s not even really sure what that word means. Her whole life, she’s kept to math and soccer and her best friend Mal and it had all led her here. She had an athletic scholarship at a school that also happened to be top-ranked in their computer engineering program, and luckily Mal had been able to follow her here on her own athletic scholarship after graduating high school a year later. 

And you would think that being a bisexual and finding both men and women attractive would give Lindsey more opportunities to date. She has a bigger dating pool, it should be easier to find a significant other but NO. Lindsey has never had a girlfriend, and she has only had one pathetic boyfriend in high school that she didn’t even particularly like. He was the captain of the boy’s soccer team, and she was the captain of the girl’s soccer team, and it was like they were expected to date and so they did.

But Lindsey has never even kissed a girl, and with every day that passes, she’s starting to feel like that bisexual label she’s been proudly wearing for a little over two years now is a joke because she’s never had any experience with girls. She’s a fraud. A fraudulent bisexual.

A fraudulent sexual . Because she’s only ever had sex with her pathetic ex Russell and she’s pretty sure he had no idea what he was doing. And it’s not like she’s ever gotten into a situation that could lead to sex. Good sex, bad sex, straight sex, gay sex, any type of sex. And even if she did get into one such situation, she’s not sure she would actually get sex out of it because she would trip over her own feet or drop her stuff on the floor or forget all the words she’s ever learned until the other person would eventually lose interest.

It’s not like she hasn’t thought about it. Sex. Lindsey has plenty of fantasies. She’s read fan fiction, she’s watched porn, and she’s masturbated (sometimes thinking about men, sometimes thinking about women, sometimes thinking about both. Because Lindsey has plenty of fantasies). But too frequently, Lindsey questions if she’ll ever get to experience any of these fantasies, because she keeps thinking she’ll never get anyone, of any gender, to have sex with her.

Because Lindsey was not smooth .

 

 

Lindsey finds herself staring at the back of Sonny’s head for the rest of the class, drifting off into one of those fantasies (It’s just syllabus day, she can’t be missing much, right?). She imagines what it would be like to pull out the hair tie that so precariously holds those thin blonde strands in a loose bun and watch Sonny’s hair as it falls down her back. She imagines what it would feel like to run her hands through Sonny’s silky-looking hair. 

Her breath catches a little in her throat as she realizes that Sonny has a tattoo on the back of her neck, what looks to Lindsey like a thin, black cross, and she thinks that might absolutely be the hottest thing about Sonny so far. She can’t stop herself from imagining what it would be like to trace that tattoo with her fingers, or to kiss a line down the back of Sonny’s neck, stopping to lick at that bit of inked skin. 

She watches as Sonny leans over to the TA next to her, Lindsey remembers her as being introduced at the beginning of the class as Tori or Toby or Tobin… watches as Sonny tilts her head so she can whisper something in Tori or Toby or Tobin’s ear and Lindsey gets a view of her profile, her jawline and her hooded, squinty eyes and her dimple… watches as Tori or Toby or Tobin whispers something back to her and Sonny tips her head back in laughter, exposing more of her neck and Lindsey… 

Upon further consideration, Lindsey thinks this class might not end up being so boring after all.

 

 

Professor Andonovski, or Vlatko, as he had instructed his students to call him at the beginning of class, ends the lecture by telling everyone to come and introduce themselves to their TA, so the TA’s can start to match names and faces to help facilitate a collaborative environment where the students feel like they can ask for help. All that bullshit professors say on the first day of class.

Lindsey is not smooth . She is sure that if she goes up to the front of the room to introduce herself to Sonny she will make an absolute fool of herself. She will trip over her own feet or drop her stuff on the floor or forget all the words she’s ever learned. But despite her better judgment, Lindsey finds her feet carrying her towards the front of the lecture hall, towards the small crowd of people already introducing themselves to Sonny and Tori or Toby or Tobin and the other TA, some boy maybe named Andrew?

As Lindsey waits at the edge of the crowd, she finds she has plenty of time to think about how this was a bad idea. Getting this close to Sonny, actually trying to talk to her, being in this class in the first place, it was all a bad idea. Terrible really. She can’t do this. But just as she’s about to turn around and walk out—

“Hi I’m Emily Sonnett, but please call me Sonny. And you are…?”

There’s a pale, freckled hand extended in Lindsey’s direction, and Lindsey’s eyes follow the hand up Sonny’s arm and to her slim shoulders that are swimming in her oversized hoodie, to her neck that Lindsey can still remember fantasizing about marking up with her teeth and tongue and lips, and finally to Sonny’s eyes. Lindsey can’t quite make out what color they are, almost blue, almost green, almost grey, they’re the most captivating things Lindsey has ever seen and…

“Not a handshaker?” Sonny’s eyes sparkle as she almost smirks at Lindsey’s silence and starts to lower her hand when…

“Lindsey,” her voice comes out thick and raspy, and her hand acts on auto-pilot as it juts forward to grab Sonny’s retreating hand. Her large hand seems to envelop Sonny’s small one, and Lindsey gets a little lost in the sensation of it, staring dumbly at her TA, oh my God this girl is her TA , until Sonny pulls her hand away from Lindsey’s grasp carefully but a little awkwardly and Lindsey snaps herself out of whatever trance she was in.

“I take it you’re not an art major? I feel like I would remember seeing you around the art building if you were.” Sonny smiles at her, a sort of mischievous smile, her eyes sparkling even in the harsh light of this lecture hall.

  Lindsey swallows before speaking. “Um, yeah, I mean, no, um, not an art major. Computer engineering. I have a math brain. Don’t know much about art. Don’t know anything about art really…” Lindsey shifts her weight between her feet uncomfortably as she realizes that she’s rambling. Good job Linds. Smooth. 

Sonny laughs lightly. Lindsey thinks she could probably get lost in the sound of that laugh. “I take it I might be seeing a lot of you this semester. Here let me give you my number just in case you come across any questions on the first reading.” Sonny holds out her hand palm up and Lindsey finds herself just staring at it again because…

Well there’s no way this is happening. Lindsey is not smooth . She doesn’t just get girls offering her their numbers. Even for school things. This just doesn’t happen to her. 

But she flicks her gaze up from Sonny’s palm to her eyes, and the softness there makes Lindsey reach into the pocket of her sweatpants and pull out her phone and place it in Sonny’s hand. 

“Uh, Lindsey you’ll have to unlock it first,” there’s just a hint of teasing in Sonny’s tone.

“Right, right, sorry,” Lindsey shakes her head a little to clear it and plucks the phone back out of Sonny’s palm, holding it up so the FaceID can recognize her. Way to go, Linds. Good first impression. 

“It’s early, I get it. Takes a while for brains to wake up. Even big, beautiful, math brains.” Sonny smirks a little as she hands the phone back, her contact info still displayed on the screen. “Just text me your name so I know who it is. It’s nice to meet you Lindsey.”

Lindsey doesn’t think her name has ever sounded better coming out of someone else’s mouth.

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey Horan cannot remember why she’s still friends with Mal.

It was bad enough when Lindsey had started complaining to her best friend about the difficulty of her art history reading within five minutes of opening her textbook, and Mal had suggested she just drop the class.

Because then Lindsey had to explain to her why she wasn’t going to drop the class, but why she also couldn’t ask for help. She told Mal about the staring, and the cross tattoo, and the forgetting all the words in the English language, and the handing Sonny a locked phone. And on top of that, Mal’s reactions were maybe just a little too loud for them being in the library, which attracted attention to them, and God, Lindsey Horan hated attention (except on the soccer field, she wanted all eyes on her on the soccer field. But at least there she felt like she deserved that attention).

Which then led Mal into a 20 minute lecture about how Lindsey needs to ‘take some of her fucking confidence from the soccer field and apply it to her dating life’, which then led to—

“No Mal, I don’t think you understand. Like I can’t text her. That’s a gay disaster waiting to happen.” Lindsey whisper-shouts at her best friend, who's sitting across from her at their small library table tucked between the cafe and the chemistry section—just close enough to the cafe that they wouldn’t get yelled out for sipping their cold brews, but just close enough to the chemistry section that it was frowned upon to talk at a normal volume.

“Linds, she literally told you to text her.” Mal whisper-shouts back, waving her arms at Lindsey to express her exasperation. “And you have a perfectly good conversation starter that goes a little like ‘Hey it's Lindsey! So I kind of am already super lost in this class because I stared at the back of your neck for the duration of the class period and fantasized about fucking you—’”

Lindsey flails her arm across the table in an attempt to cover her friend’s mouth, but ends up just smacking Mal in the arm. “I swear to God if you don’t shut the fuck up right now I will kick a ball directly at your face next practice and make it look like the perfect accident.”

Mal is silent for a moment, and Lindsey thinks she’s won until— “It’s not like I’m wrong though Linds,” Mal lets out sarcastically under her breath, almost soft enough that Lindsey can’t hear it, but definitely loud enough that Lindsey can’t ignore it.

“Yeah okay fine I may have a small crush on my TA—” (if Mal mutters something like “if that’s what you want to call it,” Lindsey pretends not to hear) “but I don’t care how hard this class ends up being I’m not asking her for help. I will fuck over my GPA before I will talk to her about my inability to understand art history.”

“Lindsey. Listen to me.” Mal leans her body across the table, grabbing Lindsey’s wrists and pulling her in so their faces end up only inches apart, and she continues in a very commanding tone, “You are going to stay in this class. You are going to pass this class with flying colors because you are going to get tutoring sessions with your hot TA. You are going to text your hot TA and you are going to ask to see her about some questions you have about the reading. You know, the one you got five words into and started complaining about? You are going to talk to her, and get to know her, and become her friend. And then at the end of the semester, when she’s no longer your TA, you’re going to ask her out.”

“But—”

“Linds, I’m serious.”

“Mal, you know I’m not good at, like, actually talking to people. Like cute people. Like people I want to be interested in me.”

“That’s why it’s perfect that she’s your TA because you have stuff to talk to her about! You can talk to her about the class and you won't have to worry about talking to her about your interest in her.”

“But that’s the thing, I don’t understand the class, so how do I talk to her about it? I don’t want her to think I’m stupid.”

“She knows you’re not stupid. She literally said you had a ‘big, beautiful, math-brain,’ I think she knows you’re smart. You just don’t know much about art or history. Just text her.”

And Lindsey has never been smooth . But apparently Lindsey wants Sonny more than she wants her dignity or her good grades or her sanity. So Lindsey huffs out a sigh and agrees to go along with Mal’s plan. (but only if it’s Mal that actually writes and sends the texts. I mean, with approval from Lindsey of course. But Lindsey is WAY too anxious to do it herself.)

 

 

2:28pm

lindsey: hey! It’s Lindsey, we met this morning after class.

sonny: Lindsey! wouldn’t forget you :) what can I do for you?

lindsey: I was kind of wondering if there was any way you could help me understand all these art concepts? I seem to be completely hopeless

sonny: of course! that’s what I’m here for, peach. any time you had in mind?

lindsey: sorry, “peach”?

 

3:04pm

sonny: atlanta born and raised, southern force of habit

is there another nickname you would prefer? 

honey? 

darling? 

babe? 

 

Lindsey is having trouble breathing. Like a lot of trouble. And the worst part is that Sonny’s latest string of responses (yeah, the ones where she had called Lindsey ‘babe’. (Babe!) And ‘darling’. And ‘honey’. Those ones. What is happening to her right now?) came through after Mal had left the library to go work on a group project in the Psych building. So Lindsey had no one to type up and send a response for her.

Well, at least, not here in the library. So Lindsey packs her textbook and her notebook and her assortment of colorful pens back in her backpack and starts the walk back to the soccer house. With every step that she takes, that word echoes through her mind, keeping a steady rhythm in time with her footfalls. babe. babe. babe. babe. babe.

Her house really isn’t that far from the library, only a couple blocks, but tonight it feels like an eternity until she’s finally able to stumble through the front door and barge into her housemate’s room. 

“Kel you have to help me!”

Apparently Lindsey sounds extremely distressed, because Kelley springs out of her lounging position on her bed and runs over to Lindsey to grab her face in an endearing manner.

“Oh my God, Linds is everything alright?”

“No. I mean yes. I mean I DON’T KNOW.” Lindsey pushes past Kelley so she can collapse exasperatedly onto her housemate’s bed, dropping her backpack to the floor in the process, and flinging her hands over her face. Kelley rushes over to come perch on the bed beside her, her knees pulled close to her chest, her weight on the balls of her toes, leaning towards Lindsey, and her hands pinched together and resting on her knees.

“Linds. Look at me.” The blonde slowly retracts her hands from her own face and peels her eyes open, taking in the sight of her housemate looming above her. “Can you tell me what’s going on?”

Instead of answering, Lindsey does what she does best. She deflects. “This is why everyone calls you Squirrel.”

“Not what I asked about.”

“Just saying.”

“Well can you ‘just say’ what the problem is?”

Lindsey groans. Probably too loudly for the proximity to Kelley. But not too loudly in comparison to the feeling in her gut. 

Turning her head so that her voice is muffled by a pillow propped up on Kelley’s bed, Lindsey mumbles, “I’m in love with my TA and she just called me babe.”

“I can’t really hear you but I think I heard you say ‘love’ and ‘babe’. Lindsey Horan, are you in love with me?” Kelley teases.

At that, Lindsey jerks her face out of the pillow it’s buried in to reply incredulously “What!? Kel, no! I said…” Lindsey’s voice drops to almost a whisper, “I’m in love with my TA and she just called me babe.”

“You’re in love with your TA and she just called you babe?” Kelley’s eyebrows raise in skepticism. “Linds, it's the first day of classes. How are you already in love with your TA?”

“You would be too if you saw her! Seriously. I literally couldn’t stop staring at her during our lecture today. Kinda embarrassing to admit but also beside the point. What do I do about her calling me babe?

“What do you mean what do you do? Isn’t it good that she called you babe?”

“Yeah, it might be if I was actually capable of processing that information and responding to her text message. You know. The text message where she called me babe.”

Kelley repositions herself so she’s sitting criss-cross-applesauce on her bed and holds out her hand. “Lemme see the text.”

Dramatically, Lindsey pulls her phone out of her back pocket and slaps it down in Kelley’s hand. “Read it and weep.”

After Kelley types in Lindsey’s password, (Thinking back on it, Lindsey really can’t blame herself for not unlocking her phone for Sonny. All her friends know her password, so she never has to unlock her phone for them.) she glances over the messages that are still on the screen.

“Okay well, I hate to break it to you, but she didn’t exactly call you babe. Seems like she’s mostly joking with you. And as your resident expert on Southern culture, we say cutesy shit like that all the time to friends, family, girls we just met on the street.”

Lindsey fixes her friend with a glare, but at the same time her heart rate does start to slow down a little bit. Was she really that bad at this that she couldn’t even tell actual flirting from just playful joking?

Seeing the slightly dejected look on her friend’s face, Kelley rushes to try to repair the damage she seems to have done. “But, Linds, there’s no harm in using this as an opportunity to flirt with her a little.”

“Hmmm yeah good idea,” Lindsey responds sarcastically through her pout, “except for the fact that I don’t know how to.

Kelley readjusts on the bed so she’s sitting right next to Lindsey and flings an arm around the blonde’s shoulders. “That’s what I’m here for, bud. Would you like me to help you flirt with her?”

“No. Yes. No.” Lindsey pulls her knees into her chest and groans in indecisive frustration. “Ugh, what I mean is, yes, but not so much that I can’t keep some semblance of it up when I see her in person.”

Because Lindsey is not smooth .

 

 

3:52pm

lindsey: ok your weird southern nicknames aside, i’m free from 1:30-4 tomorrow. could I buy you a late lunch or coffee to repay you in advance for the hopeless art history student I’m going to be?

sonny: 1:30 works for me :) campus starbucks okay with you? or are you more of a fancy coffee girl?

lindsey: i’m honored you would think i’m a fancy coffee girl, but i’m starbucks and starbucks only. See you at 1:30 :)

sonny: It’s a date ;)

 

“I stand corrected,” Kelley says, looking over her friend’s shoulder when that final message comes through. “I think she might be flirting with you.”

Lindsey thinks she’s probably going to die before 1:30 comes around if Sonny keeps saying shit like that.

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey Horan cannot remember why she agreed to this.

It was already bad enough that she found Sonny’s Instagram last night and scrolled through every single photo on her account (and also her twin sister’s account, because apparently Sonny has a twin, and also her best friend Rose’s account, and also the college basketball team’s account), and now all she can think about are Sonny’s abs. Because of the one stupid picture of her in a swimsuit floating on an avocado shaped inner tube with the caption avocado and poached abs . Like seriously, who thought of that stupid caption? 

And then, upon barging into Lindsey’s room and finding her staring at Sonny’s Insta, Mal and Kelley had teamed up on her to tease her about her crush. And while Lindsey is sure that none of her texts to Sonny would’ve gotten sent without one of them there to push that little blue button, there is now also a group chat called Soran is endgame that Lindsey definitely did not need in her life. Because 20 minutes before her “date” with Sonny was not the right time for Lindsey to receive a message from Mal that said omg think i just saw ur girlfriend walking towards Starbucks. better get over there quick before she finds another girl to call babe! (Of course, when Mal had come over to the soccer house last night, Kelley rushed to tell her about Lindsey’s freak out over the word ‘babe’, and they had both had a good laugh about it. Lindsey was not as amused.)

And now, on top of all that, Lindsey can’t bring herself to walk inside Starbucks. Despite the pep talk Kelley gave her at the house before she left, she does not feel equipped for this. She can’t act normally around Sonny for 5 seconds, how is she supposed to last a whole hour? (How is she supposed to last a whole hour in front of Sonny without picturing that stupid photo and her stupid abs and then disappearing into her own fantasy land?)

And Lindsey is not smooth . She doesn’t know how to flirt with Sonny. Because it kinda seems a little bit like Sonny is maybe flirting with her. And she wants to flirt back, but she can’t

Just like she can’t open this door.

So instead, there she is, standing awkwardly outside Starbucks, looking like she’s lost and confused and anxious because she is all of those things and then

“Are you planning on going in? Or do you want to do our session out here?”

Lindsey looks up to find she’s staring directly at those sparkly eyes. Those goddamn grey-blue sparkly eyes. Did she mention they fucking sparkle???

“Oh, um… hi, I uh…” Lindsey stutters out, before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath to regroup. She remembers what Kelley said before she left the house— just pretend like it’s me or Mal there that you’re talking to. Say what you would say if it were one of us — which really is much harder said than done, but still Lindsey is able to squeak out, “Um, coffee, I’m going to need coffee. And coffee is in. So…” Lindsey finally reaches for the door and pulls it open for Sonny to walk in first.

“And they say chivalry is dead,” Sonny quips with just the faintest hint of a smirk at Lindsey. (Lindsey feels her heart rate start to pick up a bit because of it.)

 

 

As they wait in the line to order, Sonny makes pleasant conversation, and Lindsey tries her best to also make conversation. Whether or not it is pleasant, she really can’t worry about, because all she can focus on is getting words out.

“So, how’d you end up in an art history class from chemical engineering?”

“Well, um, the art credit, and the not having to do art. I would be even worse at the art than I am at the history, so…”

Apparently Lindsey is being funny, because Sonny chuckles a little bit. “Well that would explain the chemical engineering major. Damn, what got you in that major?”

“Um… well, mostly the fact that I like math. And I’m not great at much else. Besides soccer, but, um, that’s not a major.”

“No I guess it’s not. Do you play soccer for the university then?”

“Yeah, I’m here mostly on an athletic scholarship. My whole life at college is kind of soccer and my school-work so I can keep the scholarship. Which is why I can’t fail this class.”

Sonny reaches out and grabs Lindsey’s arm in a sort of reassuring gesture, and Lindsey feels pricks of heat radiating from that spot and out through her entire body. “Well, I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Sonny drops her hand from contact and Lindsey can finally focus on something that isn’t Sonny or talking to Sonny long enough to realize they have reached the front of the line. Sonny steps forward to order first, but not before turning cheekily over her shoulder to look Lindsey directly in the eye and say, “I’d love to see you play sometime.”

Fuck . Just when Lindsey thought she was doing so well, Sonny goes and pulls something like that on her.

 

 

Two hours later, Lindsey is at least decently proficient in Mesopotamian and Ancient Egyptian Art, (who knew there could be so many nuances in ancient clay pottery and hieroglyphics? And that there are mathematic formulas for Egyptian pyramids? Lindsey actually had a lot of fun with that) and also decently proficient in Emily Sonnett. 

Maybe more than decently proficient, because Lindsey may or may not study Sonny’s mannerisms more than she studies the material. 

She now knows how Sonny flashes a thumbs up any time Lindsey makes a particularly relevant epiphany. She now knows how Sonny dances to fill silence—any time Lindsey stops to take notes for a while she’ll look back up to find her TA doing an adorable little groove in her seat across the table. She now knows that Sonny uses humor and sarcasm as her way of communication, (“Hey Linds, you know why Egypt was the most hype ancient society? Because of their Hypostyle halls!” and Lindsey has to let out a chuckle at that) although Lindsey surprisingly realizes that she learns more from the humorous way of teaching because it makes everything more memorable. 

Two hours later, Lindsey is more in love than ever. 

She has fallen in love with Sonny’s sharp cackle and the way she throws her head back when she laughs. She has fallen in love with Sonny’s deep and slightly raspy voice as she coaches Lindsey through ancient art. She has fallen in love with Sonny’s fingers ( God that’s such a gay thing to say ) as she reaches across the table to point out examples in Lindsey’s textbook. (Lindsey’s mind may wander a little from there, especially as she starts to notice Sonny’s tongue licking some coffee off her fingers after a small spill from her cup, and that… is a thought. )

But most importantly, two hours later, Lindsey has learned that she can do this. 

She’s still not exactly smooth , but she certainly has stopped making a complete fool of herself every time she opens her mouth in front of Sonny. Once they get into talking about the course material and Sonny starts making jokes and Lindsey gets into the mindset of pretending Sonny is Kelley or Mal, everything falls into place. 

Lindsey can ask questions and make conversations about the course material, and Lindsey can engage in Sonny’s banter, and Lindsey can talk to Sonny like she’s just another one of her friends. But she’s still not sure that she knows how to flirt. And she also notices that Sonny doesn’t seem to be flirting now that they’ve actually started the tutoring part.

But, two hours later, when Lindsey leaves Starbucks to go to soccer practice, Sonny gives another one of her sparkly-eyed smirks and says, “Text me when your next game is so I can come see you play, Lindsey.”

God this girl is really going to be the death of her.

 

 

Lindsey only manages to make it three steps into the locker room before Kelley and Mal have descended upon her like fucking vultures.

“How was your first date?” Mal squeaks at the same time Kelley prods, “So when’s the wedding?”

“Oh my God, y’all are the worst I have to get ready for practice. We’re not talking about it until later.” Lindsey pushes her way past them and towards her locker, throwing her backpack and Art History textbook down on the bench and pulling her cleats and practice clothes from her locker. “And it wasn’t a date!” she declares to her two friends who have followed her into the locker room.

“Lindsey, what’s this about a date?” asks Christen, a senior and star forward, from the locker next to hers. 

Mal interjects, saying, “Lindsey has a giant crush on her TA in art history, and she just got out of her first tutoring session. So it’s basically like a date, but smarter.”

Christen laughs, but then goes on to say, “I’ve been talking to this girl that’s an art major, maybe she knows your TA. What’s her name?”

“Emily Sonnett,” Kelley chirps helpfully, (well helpfully for Christen, Lindsey has yet to decide whether this was helpful for her, or whether she wishes just for once she could have something in her life that the whole team doesn’t know about) and Christen grabs her phone out of her locker and starts tapping away.

“There, I just asked Tobin. Maybe I can help you get some inside scoop on your girl, Linds. In the meantime, you two,” Christen eyes Mal and Kelley sternly, “leave her alone so she can get changed for practice.”

Mal and Kelley walk away smugly, and just as Lindsey finally gets just a little bit of peace and quiet to get into the mindset for practice, the realization hits her.

Tobin isn’t just another art major. Tobin is the other TA in her art history class. And Lindsey’s pretty sure having someone that close to Sonny know about her giant crush on Sonny will not be good for her logical math brain. Because logic seems to now point to Sonny figuring out about said crush sooner rather than later. And her math brain definitely can’t handle that.

 

—**—

 

Practice helps distract her. It always does. It’s an hour and a half where Lindsey has to focus on soccer and soccer only. If she lets her mind wander for even a moment, she could make a mistake. And mistakes in practice can lead to fewer starting spots. And Lindsey wants that starting spot.

Lindsey’s experience with starting spots has been rocky in the past. Her freshman year of high school she made an elite club team, and she felt so good about herself and her soccer abilities and her future in the sport. 

And then the comments started.

The comments from her coach about her body. Her body that he deemed to be unfeminine. She wasn’t slim enough. She was broad in the shoulders and boxy through the midsection and wide in the hips.

But she was in shape. She was athletic. She was playing some of the best soccer of her life to that point out on the practice field. And she kept hoping that would be enough to show her coach that she deserved a starting spot.

Their first game came and she didn’t get to play at all, and then her second game came and she didn’t get to play at all, and then her third game came and she didn’t get to play at all. By the fourth game, Lindsey was starting to lose hope that she would ever see the field, much less get a starting spot.

And then her name was called. She started warming up with 20 minutes of regular time left in the fourth game. She knew she wasn’t going to have much time on the field once she got out there, but she was determined to make an impact on the game. Show her coach what he was missing by not having her play in the games.

10 minutes. 1 (really fucking awesome) goal and 1 (really fucking precise) assist. 

Lindsey Horan had been starting ever since.

But she also had a lot of residual body issues from the whole ordeal. It was why her social confidence was so low. Why the only friends she had made at college were on the soccer team. Why she felt so powerless around Sonny, because how could a girl like that like such broad shoulders and a boxy midsection and wide hips?

So Lindsey uses practice to distract herself. To take herself fully out of the self-doubt and self-deprecation and put herself fully into soccer. 

Soccer and math.

Lindsey can do soccer and math.

Lindsey cannot do smooth things to make girls like her. But for some reason, Sonny didn’t seem to care.

 

 

When Lindsey gets back to the locker room, there’s a notification from her. From Emily Sonnett. The girl who she is helplessly attracted to after less than 48 hours of knowing her.

But she doesn’t look at it, wants to live just a little longer in the distraction of soccer, wants to continue to feel good about herself and her capabilities. 

Instead of her complete and utter inability to talk to a pretty girl.

Christen seems to have other ideas.

“Wait Linds, oh my gosh Tobin’s also an art history TA! She says she knows Emily really well!”

Lindsey swears Kelley not only has the innate physical presence of a squirrel, but also all the keen senses (like hearing), because she’s at Christen’s locker before Lindsey even has a chance to fully comprehend what was said.

“What about Emily?” Kelley pries.

“Kel, could you keep your nose in your own business for once? Linds I’ll just text you about it later.”

Lindsey has never loved Christen Press more, even though she knows that as soon as she gets home tonight she’ll tell Kelley all about it. But right now—

“Yeah jeez Kel, this doesn’t need to become the entire locker room’s business. So if you would just go take your shower so Christen and I could talk in private that would be fantastic.”

Kelley scoffs and rolls her eyes, but nevertheless stalks off to shower. And Christen, being the considerate and empathetic human she is, rushes to apologize.

“Linds I’m so sorry I shouldn’t have said anything about it in the locker room. I hope I didn’t overstep any boundaries by texting Tobin, I had no idea she was a TA for that class. I can tell her to forget about it I don’t have to ask—”

“No, do it.” Lindsey hears the words come out of her mouth before her brain fully registers the thought. “Ask her about Sonny.” 

The midfielder shifts her gaze from where it is staring intensely at a spot on the locker room floor between her two discarded cleats to meet Christen’s eyes and gives her a weak smile. “I need all the help I can get.”

Chris breaks out into a full grin. “Lindsey Horan, let’s get your girl.” 

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey cannot bring herself to physically look at the message from Sonny.

It was bad enough when she forced herself to focus on her trigonometry homework for 45 minutes without looking once at her phone, something she’s never been able to do yet in her time at college. 

And then, on top of that, she had to spend some time getting ahead on her Organic Chemistry readings for the week because it was only the first day of school and so far she didn’t have any other work to keep her occupied. 

And now, she’s scrolled through Instagram three times, Twitter twice, and all of her sports news related apps at least once, and still hasn’t been able to look at the notification in her messages app. 

“Have you looked at that message yet?” Mal questions from the kitchen as she watches Lindsey stare intently at the phone. 

Lindsey is sure that the exasperated look on her face gives her away, but she shakes her head defeatedly anyways. 

In lieu of a response to Lindsey, Mal stomps over to the couch and grabs the phone out of her best friend’s hands.

“Mal, no, what are you doing, stop, please—” Lindsey protests as she wrestles Mal down to the couch and makes grabby motions for her phone. 

Her efforts are all for nothing though, because Mal gets the message open and read before any of Lindsey’s attempts to get her phone back succeed. 

“KELLEY GET OUT HERE DUTY CALLS.” Mal screams before turning back to the protesting blonde, “No Lindsey, it’s good, it’s so good, you have nothing to worry about, look at it.”

4:12pm

sonny: horan I mean it, you better tell me when your first game of the season is

 

 

With the help of Kelley and Mal, Lindsey is actually able to send Sonny some coherent text messages. She thinks she might even be getting the hang of the whole flirting thing. 

Even though every time a new text comes in, Kelley dreams up some response that borders on creepily sexual (or at least according to Lindsey, but then again, Kelley somehow got a girlfriend so…) and Mal has to help Lindsey find a toned down version of the comment that she can actually bring herself to send.

8:47pm

lindsey: I’ll tell you only if you promise to give me another tutoring session

I’m so lost on all the Ancient Greek terms for this first project

sonny: I would tutor you even without the promise of information :) it is kind of my job

are you free at 1:30 again this Tuesday?

lindsey: Yeah Tuesday is good :)

Friday, September 6, 7pm, first home game

sonny: how do you feel about parties?

lindsey: what?

sonny: well, that Friday also happens to be one of my teammate’s birthday parties, and since I was obviously hoping to see you after the game I was wondering if you would want to come with me?

And, well, Lindsey doesn’t go to parties. She knows that part of the point of college is supposed to be partying, and having a good time, and letting loose before you have to get a job and work the rest of your life. But Lindsey doesn’t go to parties. Lindsey goes to class and soccer practice, and that’s about it. 

It’s not that she’s never been invited to a party. She’s been invited to multiple soccer parties, a couple parties thrown by the engineering fraternity Theta Tau, and Mal has tried many times to get her to come out to the big house parties on Greek Row, but she’s never actually gone to any of these parties. Usually, instead she just sits at home watching old soccer games to study tactics or documentaries about science and technology, or about sports and athletes. Sometimes, if she’s feeling really exciting she’ll branch out and watch classic rom-coms like 27 Dresses or Imagine Me and You or Bend it Like Beckham (which should have been a gay film and Lindsey will not hear any arguments otherwise).

So to say that going to a college party for the first time with a girl she doesn’t really know but really likes would be out of her comfort zone would be an understatement.

“No, I absolutely cannot go to a party with her.” Lindsey is adamant.

“Yes, you absolutely can.” So is Kelley.

“No, I can’t. Because then, my absolute inability to function in a social setting will be on full display and I won’t have anyone I know there to interact with so it will be all strangers and I’ll have so much more to prove. And, last time I checked, parties have alcohol at them. And I feel like having a couple drinks and then being around the hottest person I’ve ever met probably wouldn’t fare well for me. Everything about this screams ‘bad idea’!”

Mal looks at her sympathetically. “Lindsey, I totally support you in whatever decision you make, but I just wanna say that maybe it isn’t such a bad idea?”

Now, there are many things that Lindsey loves about living in such a large house with so many of her teammates, but not having a shred of privacy isn’t one of them. And the universe decides to choose this exact moment to remind her of that. “What isn’t such a bad idea?” Another of their housemates, Alex, has just walked into the living room.

“Lindsey going to a party with a hot girl,” Kelly informs her.

The blonde lets out a yelp of protest at her secrets being shared so freely again.

“Lindsey?!? Going to a party ?!?!” Alex gasps.

“No! I’m not going to the party! And I’m especially not going if you all keep pestering me about it!” Collecting her phone and her emotional support water bottle from the coffee table, Lindsey stands up from the couch to attempt to make a dramatic exit, but Alex grabs her arm to stop her.

“Hey, wait, I know I’m not fully briefed on what’s going on here, but I do know that any person who wants to date you, Horan, should be totally respectful of your preferences. So if you don’t want to go to the party, they shouldn’t pressure you into going to the party. If you want to set some ground rules before you go to the party, like ‘only 2 drinks for the night because I’m in season and not super comfortable with getting drunk’, then they should help make sure you stick to your limit. Or if you want to be able to bring another friend so you feel a bit more settled in the new environment, then they should be able to get you a plus one.”

Lindsey has to admit, getting stared in the eyes by the lead scorer for your school’s soccer program while she’s telling you affirmative words can really do a lot to quell the anger that had risen up in her just moments before. So she sighs in defeat and slumps back down on the couch. “Okay.”

“Okay… what?” inquires Mal gently.

“Okay I’ll go to the party,” (she hears Kelly let out an excited “yes!” under her breath) “ but , in accordance with Al’s advice, only if one of you goes with me.”

“Of course Linds, I’ll go with you!” offers Mal. Mal’s always the one Lindsey knows she can count on to be right next to her, whenever she needs something. Knowing that she’ll be there on the night of the party as well, makes Lindsey feel like nothing could go wrong.

If Lindsey only knew how wrong she would turn out to be.

 

-

 

9:22pm

lindsey: would it be okay if I brought a friend, too? 

I just want you to feel like you can go off and be with your teammates and not have to worry about me and the fact that I don’t know anyone

sonny: i mean i wouldn’t mind staying with you at all, but sure you can bring a friend

not a whole bunch of friends tho, it’s at kind of a small house 

lindsey: understood :) 

just like the throughline of representational imagery and pattern symbolism in ancient art you taught me about 

today

sonny: i’m so proud of you!

speaking of art tho, i do have a still life sketch i gotta finish up tonite, so i’m gonna have to go

but i’ll see you tomorrow morning, bright and early, yeah? :)

lindsey: yeah

sonny: goodnight lindsey

 

-

 

After an Art History class Wednesday morning that is more of the same—Lindsey hiding in the back of the lecture hall in order to avoid the wrath of Vlatko’s call-out style quiz questions while she stares at the back of Sonny’s head (whatever she doesn’t catch now in class she can have Sonny teach her in tutoring on Tuesday, right?)—multiple math and science classes, long nights of readings and proofs and graphs, and a few soccer practices, Lindsey has made it to Friday evening. And this week, that means a long bus ride to their first game of the season: an away game tomorrow early afternoon.

Lindsey knows she’s not supposed to think like this, but it’s not a hard team they’re playing against tomorrow. Sure, there are some great individual players, but the general consensus seems to be that tomorrow is kind of a warm up game, just a way for them to get moving as a team, make sure all their tactics and formations are working before the much bigger, much more difficult game next week. The one Sonny might be coming to. Sonny might be coming to a game to watch Lindsey play soccer. Which means it’ll be extra disappointing for Lindsey if they lose. How’s she supposed to go to a party afterwards if they lose? 

So lost in thought, Lindsey startles when Christen sits down in the empty seat next to her. She pulls an AirPod out and looks at her new seatmate expectantly. 

“Hey,” Chris says gently, placing one of her hands on Lindsey’s knee nearest to her, “first game of the season. How are you feeling?”

Leave it to Christen Press to check in with all her teammates so thoughtfully, even before such a low-stakes game. “I’m good. Excited to finally get to play in a real game, and not just, like, scrimmages against you guys. Ready to score some goals.” Lindsey smirks just a little.

“You and me both, girl. I’m ready to see one of those volley’s you’ve been working on in practice in real life.” Chris’s tone is filled with genuine excitement. “But also, I didn’t just come here to talk soccer,” her voice drops to a whisper.

“Hmm?” ( “What else is there to talk about?” says Lindsey’s inner monologue.)

“Um, so I heard back from Tobin. I promise I didn’t give her any real details on why I wanted to know about her.” Chris is met with a wide eyed stare from the blonde next to her. “About Emily? Or Sonny, as she kept calling her?”

Lindsey bites her bottom lip nervously. “And?”

“Well, she did admit that she really only knows Sonny in the context of their art major. But they’ve been in a bunch of the same classes. Apparently she’s really good at drawing, as opposed to painting or sculpture or any other medium. And she likes to draw nature stuff, animals mostly, really detailed work. Tobin talked about it admiringly. Ya know, because Tobin’s more into like, abstract art, and line work, and geometric stuff, Sonny’s helped her out a lot when it comes to more detailed assignments. Said she’s a really good teacher. But it sounds like maybe you already know that? If you’ve been tutoring with her?”

Lindsey raises her eyebrows, as if she’s considering this (she doesn’t want to seem too eager around someone as cool and collected as Chris). “Yeah, Sonny’s a really good teacher. She’s really good at, um,” Lindsey makes a noise in her throat, halfway between clearing it and coughing, “explaining things.”

Christen smiles. “She’s apparently really good at basketball, too. Tobin’s been to a couple of her games. And, like, Tobin likes sports and follows sports and used to play a bunch of sports, so she probably knows what she’s talking about. You two could be, like, a sports power couple! The next Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird!”

“Woah, Chris, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Lindsey chuckles dryly. “I barely even know how to talk to the girl let alone actually date her. 

“Oh! About that, Tobin says she really likes music, a lot of upbeat stuff, rap and pop and dance music. Seems kinda like your preferred genres as well? Maybe you could start a conversation about that?”

Lindsey knows that this is good information. Knows she should be able to use this. But will she use it? Will she ever have enough confidence to just, like, start a random conversation with Sonny? Jury’s still out on that one. But she doesn’t want to tell Christen this because she’s just sitting here being so supportive and kind and Lindsey doesn’t want to let her down. So instead she says, “thanks Chris. That’s really good to know. I’ll keep that in mind.”

(While it’s not important to the story, the game ended 4-1, with Alex, Christen, Mal, and Lindsey scoring goals. Although she wishes it was a volley, Lindsey’s goal was a header in the six. But, a goal is a goal, right?)

 

-

At least this time Lindsey’s able to walk in to the Starbucks. Which is good because Sonny’s already in there, sitting at a table in the back, headphones on, with a sketchbook in front of her and colored pencils scattered around on the table. Lindsey wonders what kind of music she's listening to, if she could maybe ask her about it. She also notices that the tip of her tongue is poking out of the side of her mouth in concentration. Lindsey thinks that’s the cutest thing she’s ever seen. 

She orders her coffee at the front and then hesitantly approaches Sonny’s table, placing her hand on the back of the empty chair across from the deep-in-focus blonde, and rocking her weight forward on her toes apprehensively. Still not being noticed but not wanting to scare her, Lindsey gently places her other hand on the table and slides it towards Sonny until it comes close enough to her pencils that it’s now in her frame of vision. Sonny pushes the headphones off her ear with her non-drawing hand and snaps her vision up to Lindsey. Her face breaks out into a smile, accentuating the ever-present sparkle in her eyes that Lindsey likes so much.

“Hey Linds! Sorry about the mess, sit down, let me just finish this one little thing and then I’ll be all yours.”

Yeah, I wish, thinks Lindsey, as she slides her backpack onto the ground and then sits down in her chair. From this spot, Lindsey can see the tip of Sonny’s tongue poking out of her mouth so much more clearly. It’s a very nice distraction from Lindsey doing anything actually productive, like getting her textbook out or her notes or even just checking the syllabus on her phone, so she just kind of sits there staring. 

Sonny’s eyes glance up from her sketchbook, and shit , Lindsey’s caught. “Can I help you?” There’s a hint of a smirk in Sonny’s voice as she raises her eyebrows questioningly.

Lindsey finally diverts her eyes away from the girl across from her. “Uh… you… um—”

Thankfully, Lindsey is saved from complete embarrassment by the barista calling her name and drink order from the counter, and she bolts out of her chair to go collect her coffee. So much for asking what music she was listening to. Is she ever going to actually get better at this 'talking' thing?

When she gets back to the table, Sonny is packing her colored pencils neatly back into their tin. “You ready, Horan?”

Lindsey nods and finally starts pulling her textbook and notes from her backpack. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

“That’s the spirit! Okay, Ancient Greece? All about drama…”

And Emily Sonnett is really good at explaining things. Art things. History things. But what Lindsey really needs explained to her is how she could ever get the chance to date the cute TA across from her. The girl with the oversized hoodie and Adidas stripe sweatpants, her white-blonde hair tied in a sloppy bun, and the softest, sleepy smile. And that damn neck tattoo.

 

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey Horan cannot figure out what one would wear to the birthday party of her hot TA’s teammate. What sort of outfit says “I’m interested” but not “I’m desperate”, says “I’m a good student” without saying “I only care about school”, “Says I like to let loose and party” without clueing people into the fact that she has never actually been to a party…

It was bad enough when she had spent two hours tearing her closet apart, trying to find something that she wanted Sonny to see her in, turning her room into a disaster zone, but somehow, she still hadn't been able to pull together an outfit, even after all that trouble.

And then, on top of that, she had ended up being late to the film session to prepare for the game tomorrow night because she couldn’t find her other tennis shoe buried under her discarded outfits, so she had to deal with the embarrassment of walking into the meeting when it had already started (she was only a minute or two late, and there weren’t even any consequences because she hadn’t missed anything, but still! Lindsey had never been late to anything before).

And now, she’s standing in front of her full-length door mirror again, trying to figure out which pair of pants looks the best on her boxy midsection and wide hips, having already given up on finding the right top for her broad shoulders, and she’s just more frustrated than ever. Frustrated with the fact that she’s never been to a party, frustrated with the fact that she still hasn’t figured out how to dress her body in anything but athletic wear, frustrated that her experience with dating is so nonexistent that she can’t even pretend to know what she's doing most of the time. 

So Lindsey finally decides to give in and, against her better judgement, ask for help.

 

7:47pm

Soran is endgame

The Great Horan: so what exactly do I wear to this party that Sonny invited me to

Squirrel: BIRTHDAY SUIT

Meow: Kelley stop

Not helpful

Linds u have those black jeans with the ripped knees that look really good on u

Squirrel: I mean if you don’t want to take my outfit suggestion

I would say those jeans are your next best bet

The Great Horan: cool, that’s half an outfit

gonna need more than that, guys

Meow: Linds it’s not about what you wear but rather the confidence with which you wear it

Squirrel: I don’t think now is the right time to get philosophical Mal

Linds needs to look hot

um that red crop top i forced you to buy for the Xmas party you never actually went to

The Great Horan: wow for once I agree with Kelley

Meow: or the black v-neck camisole thing u have

I think u wore it 2 my birthday dinner last yr

The Great Horan: nevermind I agree with Mal

Kel that top was too bold for me then and it’s too bold for me now

Squirrel: we will circle back to the top eventually

but you can’t say no to the chain

I won’t allow it

Meow: THE CHAIN

Linds u have 2 wear it

how else will she know ur gay?

The Great Horan: ok we’re done here

 

Well, at least Lindsey has something to wear now. So she extracts those pieces of clothing from the piles strewn about her room and folds them carefully into her gameday bag, along with her favorite white Adidas Forums, finishes her chemistry reading for her one class tomorrow, and then tucks herself into bed, knowing that when she opens her eyes next, it’ll be gameday.

 

 

7:23am

sonny: happy gameday! excited to see you ‘kick’ some ass tonite!!

get it? kick? ha!

 

Well that’s certainly a new way to start a game day . But Lindsey’s groggy math brain can’t deal with that right now, and especially not without a cup of coffee, so she flips her phone back over on her night stand and makes her way down to the kitchen. Kelley, Alex, and Allie are all already crowded around Kelley’s fancy coffee maker, also needing their morning caffeine fix.

“Morning, guys,” Lindsey yawns.

Kelley turns around sharply at the sound of Lindsey’s sleepy voice. “Wake up, Horan! It’s GAMEDAY! WHOOHOO!! Get excited!

Okay, maybe not everyone needs the caffeine.

“Kel, leave her alone, not everyone can get up as early as you do and be functional at this hour.” Once again, it’s Alex to the rescue.

Allie, still standing at the coffee maker, turns around with two cups full, handing one to Alex. “Linds, the bean juice machine is all yours.”

“Perfect. Thanks Al.”

Coffee time. Game day coffee time. Her morning caffeine buzz to get her ready for tonight's footy buzz. And footy buzz is Lindsey's absolute favorite feeling.

 

-

 

The locker room is buzzing already when Lindsey walks in that afternoon. Drake is blasting from the speakers, which means Mal must have claimed the Bluetooth link today. 

Jumpman, Jumpman, I don't need no introduction…

Lindsey fits easily into her spot in the locker room. She greets Christen with a smile and high fives Alex at the locker across from her. 

Jumpman, Jumpman, Metro Boomin on production, wow!…

Setting her bag down at her locker, she carefully pulls out the clothes that she packed yesterday—the clothes for the party, her first party, the one she’s going to with Sonny—and places them on the top shelf of her locker, so they don’t accidentally get mixed with sweaty practice clothes or crumpled as Lindsey’s digging around for her pre-wrap.

Hundred cousins out in Memphis, they so country, wow!...

Lindsey grabs the brush she keeps in her locker and uses it to pull her hair back into a ponytail, securing it with the elastic on her wrist. The brush goes back in the locker, the pre-wrap headband gets tied, and the ponytail gets pulled as tight to her head as possible. She likes to feel almost on the verge of a headache with how tight her ponytail is, so at least she knows it won’t fall out. 

Tell her stay the night, valet your car, come fuck me now

Mal appears beside her, clapping her on the back and jumping around, trying to get Lindsey to let loose, get into the music, the excitement of their first home game.

Jumpman, Jumpman, live on TNT, I'm flexin', woo!

Lindsey gives in to her best friend, and laughs a little as she joins in, doing a silly dance move where she swings one arm above her head, and then laughs a lot as Mal begins to strut down the aisle between the lockers, pulling out all the stops and just looking more and more ridiculous. Lindsey stops dancing because she’s laughing so hard.

Jumpman, Jumpman, they gave me my own collection, woo!

Kelley and Allie join in, jokingly grinding up on Mal as she does her ridiculous dance. Never one to be left out of a dance party, Crystal finds her way over to join in. She grabs Lindsey’s hands and pulls her in towards the group and spins her around a couple times, just making Lindsey laugh harder, because she feels a little silly and a lot like she can’t dance, but loves her teammates enough to indulge them in the fun of it this time.

Jump when I say jump, girl, can you take direction? Woo!

Mal has found her way up onto a bench and she’s yelling the lyrics at the top of her lungs, while Lindsey gets dizzy from how many times Crystal’s spun her around and she ends up collapsing on the floor in a fit of giggles, crying now because she’s been laughing so hard. Kelley and Allie make fun of her as she lays on the locker room floor, but help her up in the end. 

Mutombo with the bitches, you keep gettin' rejected, woo!

Their little dance party is broken up by their team captain, Becky,  telling them to get focused, get ready for the game, get their practice gear on. Kelley holds her hands up in an innocent “it wasn’t me” gesture (even though it was very obviously her) as she’s walking back to her locker, and Mal claps Lindsey on the back one more time before she hops off the bench and salutes to Becky as she retreats to the other aisle of lockers as well. 

Heard they came through Magic City on a Monday

Lindsey wipes under her eyes to dry the tears-of-laughter that are still threatening to spill, then finally pulls her shirt over her head so she can put on her warm up kit, toes off her sneakers and then changes out of her sweatpants into the matching warm up shorts. The university logo near the hem reminds her who she’s playing for and how proud she is to be here, and that thought sobers her and emboldens her at the same time.

Heard they had the club wild, it was star-studded

She pulls out her shin-guards, socks, and cleats and starts assembling them all on her legs. The socks don’t get pulled up very high—she feels too restricted when they go all the way up her calf—and then the shin-guards get tucked into the socks, and then the cleats get tied. Three knots on each foot, as is her ritual.

A bunch of girls goin' wild when your chain flooded

She takes a moment to collect her thoughts, trying very hard to push the most obvious, nagging one to the back of her mind (the one with grey-blue eyes and a messy blonde bun), and instead focus on all the tactics they’ve discussed in practice this week, all the game footage she’s gone over, all the pointers coach has given her recently.

And I had 'em like wow, cup dirty

A couple deep breaths—in, out, in, out— and she’s ready to go. It’s about to be game time. And Lindsey’s ready.

 

-

 

A little over an hour later, they’re back in the exact same locker room, but no one’s excited anymore. The first half had been tough. They had gone down a goal in the first 20 minutes of the game, and had been trying everything in their power to tie it up since then. But their forwards hadn’t found any ways to break down the other team’s defense, no matter how many different ways they tried. Up the right flank, up the left flank, straight down the middle, a ball in over the top, a cross in from the side, a slip ball behind a defender. Nothing was working today. 

And Lindsey's feeling especially bad about it because Sonny's in the stands. Lindsey hadn’t found it in her to search the stands for her during the first 45, afraid if she even started to look, she would lose focus on the game. But she ended up thinking about how she couldn’t look up into the stands so often, having to actively stop herself from doing it, that she knows she lost her focus anyways. 

Their coach comes into the locker room to express her disappointment, but also talk about some tactics to try, how to shore up the defense so there won’t be any more goals, how to catch the other team off guard on their attacks and their set pieces, what changes are going to be made at the start of the second half. Then, Becky gives a more encouraging, more rousing speech—less pure tactics and constructive criticisms—all about how their team has been functioning so perfectly in practice, how they know each other and their movements on the field, how they should trust their instincts and their teammates more in this second half. And then…

And then Lindsey sits down at her locker and pulls out her AirPods and her phone, wanting to spend the last few minutes they have in the locker room listening to her favorite pump-up songs. She takes her phone out of the side pocket of her bag, and there’s a notification.

 

7:48pm

sonny: you might not even see this during half time but figured i’d take my chances

that center back you keep coming up against when you’re faced up on goal favors clearance with her left leg so heavily

i’m wondering how she might react if you cut towards goal on her right side

i know that cuts down your shooting angle but I think you could probably still make it ;)

 

Lindsey’s first thought is that she has no idea how Sonny knows this much about soccer. Her second thought is that she can’t believe she hadn’t noticed that during the game (it’s probably because of how unfocused she was). Her third thought is that, well, Sonny’s not only here at the game but is paying close enough attention to her and how she’s playing that she’s been able to find a little piece of advice that could actually help her in this second half. And that’s the thought that boosts Lindsey’s confidence the most as she walks back out of the locker room for the second half.

 

-

 

When the team comes back out onto the field, Lindsey decides she’s going to try a different tactic to address her Sonnny’s-in-the-stands debacle. Her eyes scan the supporter section—up, down, side, side, up again, side again— and then, she sees her. With her white-blonde bun tucked under a ball cap in their school colors and her eyes focused on Lindsey. Their gazes meet and Sonny smiles, soft and sweet and just a little bit electric, and Lindsey finds herself grinning back. She nods at Sonny, trying to somehow tell her that she got her message, that she’s actually really thankful for it, and Sonny sends her a thumbs up back, before bringing her hands up around her mouth and yelling very loudly and very clearly, “LET’S GO, LINDSEY!”

Lindsey feels a blush crawl up her neck and then across her cheeks, getting redder as Mal and Kelley and Alex and Christen and so many of her other teammates turn their focus towards where the sound came from. And then, of course, they proceed to smirk at Lindsey and whisper things like “oh my god is that her?” and “ Linds, look how supportive your girlfriend is!”

But they all re-focus quickly enough as they set up in their formation for the second half—Mal now leading the front line after being subbed in for Lynn who played the first half, Cat coming off the bench for Allie to try to get some more scoring power in the midfield, and Casey replacing Kelley, who had gotten a small knock to her ankle in the first half and didn’t want to risk getting hurt any more than necessary, on the back line —and then the whistle blows. 

Mal kicks the ball back to Julie who takes a few strides forward, and then passes the ball up to Casey who’s making a run up the right flank with Cat making the run with her. There’s a quick and well executed give-and-go between the two runners, something straight from the training ground, and then Casey has the ball on the outside of the box, a defender closely guarding her. With a fake to the right and a little bit of fancy footwork, she’s able to get the cross off, and Mal’s making the run to meet the ball, and it really looks like she’s gonna make it, but…

The center back on the other team is right there, heading the ball away from their net and towards the center mid at the top of the box, who settles the ball and starts the counter attack going the other way. 

After some hard work by Becky, Abby, and Crystal to shut down the forwards advancing toward goal, the ball is back with their team. Crystal comes away with the ball and sends it to Christen who starts pushing up the center towards the box. Alex is making the run in front of her, and Lindsey is out on the left flank in case Christen needs an outlet for her pass and Mal is up ahead of her towards the left side of the box. Christen sees a space and sends a slip ball through to Alex who connects with the ball and sends it towards goal, despite the two defenders who are running at her heels, but the goalie easily grabs the ball out of the air and their effort is again for nothing. 

It’s as Lindsey’s running backwards to prepare for the goal kick that she looks back up into the stands, searching again for those sparkling grey-blue eyes. She finds them just as focused on her as they were before, and a surge of energy and confidence runs through her. 

The ball sails off the goalie’s foot towards mid field, where a player on the other team heads it down vaguely in Lindsey’s direction and she chases after it, in a foot race with a midfielder from the other team. The other player gets there first, but Lindsey’s not far behind, and she runs alongside her until she finds her chance to slip her foot in behind the ball and steal it away. She masterfully turns to change direction and then finds Christen open on the left flank to pass up to. Chris’s speed takes her down the left flank quickly, and Lindsey runs with her, approaching the box and the left-footed defender that Sonny warned her about. She calls for the ball as Christen goes one-on-one with the outside back along the goal line, and then she taps the ball with the outside of her foot on a no-look pass with the perfect weight for it to find Lindsey. And, this is the moment. Lindsey dribbles forward a little to advance on her defender, angling a little towards the defender’s left side, allowing her to think she'll get an easy clearance. Right as the defender prepares to clear, swinging her left foot back behind her, Lindsey uses the outside of her left foot to bring the ball to the defender’s right side, missing the foot of the other player entirely. Lindsey can feel other defenders closing in, and knows she has to take the shot soon, so she chips the ball with her left foot so it sails over the goalie’s head and into the upper right corner of the goal.

And they’re tied. Tied with over 30 minutes to score another goal. 

And Lindsey feels her teammates rushing to surround her, Christen’s already throwing her arms around her and Alex is coming in on her other side, and Mal’s hands are on her shoulders, using them as leverage to jump over her, and Julie’s running in, and Cat’s there too now, and Crystal’s found her way over, and… all Lindsey can think to do is look up in the bleachers. 

Once her friends have detached themselves from her, Lindsey lets the boldness she’s gained from the goal raise her arm until she’s pointing towards the crowd in the stands. Pointing right at the blonde with the sparkling eyes and the messy bun pulled back under a ball cap.

 

-

 

Needless to say, the second half goes much better for the team. Everyone’s putting in their shifts of defense, but the back line is really putting in those double-shifts to get the job done and keep the score tied. Alyssa makes an incredible save to stop a rifle from coming in just below the crossbar. The front line is creating great chances, spurred on by the excitement of Lindsey’s goal, but they’re not able to put anything in the back of the net until…

86’: Christen sets up for a corner kick that was earned by Crystal pushing all the way up the flank and trying to send a cross into the box, which is deflected out in the end. Chris’s ball comes in perfectly to the area, and Lindsey’s able to shake her defender just enough to make contact with the ball, redirecting it towards the right corner, where Alex finds the perfect opening to poke it just across the line, the goalie losing sight of the ball in the scramble until it’s too late.

And they’ve done it. They’re ahead. With just a little over five minutes to go (if you’re counting stoppage time, which Lindsey always does. She learned very early in her college career that stoppage time goals are very real, and very devastating when they’re scored against your team). 

 

-

 

When the final whistle blows, the entire team seems to want to scream and jump for joy and fall down in exhaustion at the same time. Especially those who played all 90 minutes. Kelley, significantly rested after sitting on the bench for the last 45, runs up to Lindsey screaming, at first just general congratulations for the goal, but then it devolves into—

“You should go talk to your girlfriend . I bet she wants to congratulate you too. Look, she's standing at the railing! Linds, go talk to her!”

And Lindsey wants to say no. Well, she doesn’t , but she does. She wants to say no because she’s all sweaty and gross and still has no idea how to flirt with anyone, especially not someone as attractive as Sonny. 

But soccer is one of the things she can do. And right now, she just finished playing an incredible half, and with whatever confidence she has leftover from that goal and that assist, she’s at least going to go tell Sonny thanks, both for coming and for giving her the tip that led to her goal.

So she gives Kelley one last high five, and then jogs over to the railing where Sonny’s waiting, hands tucked into the pockets of her Adidas sweatpants, grinning as she watches Lindsey approach her. 

“Hey,” Sonny says, “really, really great game. That goal was…” she kisses her fingers in that silly Italian way that makes it look like she’s a chef talking about a perfect pizza, “perfection.”

Lindsey’s eyes crinkle up at the sides as she smiles, and she finds it easy enough to just tell Sonny the truth. “It literally wouldn’t have happened without your little hint. Seriously. But also like, that’s only something someone with a trained soccer eye would see. So, how do you know so much about soccer?” Wow, Lindsey thinks to herself proudly, that’s the most words I’ve ever strung together coherently in front of her!

“I played through my Sophomore year of high school. Obviously I wasn’t as good as you, and in the end I chose to focus on basketball because I wanted to be different from my sister, it was a whole thing. But I’ve always loved the game—I follow the USWNT and the NWSL just as closely as I follow the WNBA. Anyways, I’m glad I was able to be of service.” 

“Wow, I had no idea you were such a soccer superstar,” Lindsey jokes ( wait, I can make jokes now, without any help from Kelley or Mal! Progress! ).

Sonny laughs brightly. “You know it. Hillcrest High School’s 2016 player of the year, baby,” she makes finger guns at Lindsey.

And… Lindsey finds herself frozen, unable to form any words. Oh no, fuck, it’s the babe debacle all over again. Ugh! Pull it together, Lindsey!

Lindsey clears her throat, preparing herself to say actual words, but then just ends up letting out a nervous giggle.

Luckily, Sonny takes control of the conversation again. “Hey, I’m sure you wanna shower and get dressed in non-sweaty clothes, and I’ve gotta change as well. So, can I meet you at the field entrance in, say, thirty minutes?”

By some miracle, Lindsey has recovered enough to nod and squeak out, “Yeah, yeah. That sounds good.”

“Okay. See you in a bit, Lindsey.”

Lindsey gives her a little wave before she turns and walks toward the locker rooms.

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey Horan cannot respond properly to a compliment. She had showered in the locker room and then changed, put on some mascara and then just a little bit of her favorite perfume—she didn’t want to overwhelm anyone (and in this case, ‘anyone’ just means ‘Sonny’)—and quickly straightened her hair with the flat iron Alex kept in her locker. When Mal saw her, she squealed and told Lindsey how good she looked, but the blonde just shrugged and said, “I mean you chose the outfit.” 

It was bad enough when, because of that response, Lindsey had to listen to Mal scolding her for the entirety of their walk to the field entrance. Lindsey had always learned to deflect compliments about her appearance, not only because she didn’t think she deserved them, but also because they seemed to take away from what she felt was important about herself, which is, of course, soccer. And her intellectual capabilities, but mostly soccer. But Mal wanted to know, ‘what if Sonny compliments you?’ ( She won’t, Lindsey couldn’t help but think), and Mal insisted that deflecting was not an appropriate response in that situation. ( ‘At least say thank you. Or compliment her back! Or both, both is the best answer.’) Lindsey was pretty sure that figuring out which one thing to compliment Sonny on would actually overload her brain and render her useless. 

But then, on top of that, Sonny had complimented her. Had said ‘wow, you look really… wow,’ after letting her eyes drift over Lindsey’s body, and of course Lindsey froze. She looked down shyly, finding it to be too much to actually look at Sonny right now, and tried to make words come out, something like what Mal told her to say earlier, but she simply could not. 

So now, she’s standing here, silent, making a complete fool out of herself. Mal elbows her in an attempt to get her to speak, and finally, Lindsey’s able to stutter out, “Thanks, yeah, uh, you too. You…you also look really… um, good.”

And she does. Sonny’s in these kind of loose-fitting blue jeans with one of the knees completely ripped out, the legs cuffed, and a shoelace strung through the loops as a belt; a cropped black tank top that leaves just enough skin at her waist showing that Lindsey can tell that she has abs, even if she can’t actually see them; and white and blue high-top Adidas sneakers. Her hair is actually down, just slightly curled at the front, and Lindsey realizes this is the very first time she’s seen Sonny without her signature bun (She can’t decide which she likes more—the bun makes her look softer and a little more boyish but like in a really hot way, with her hair down she looks just a little more mature and just incredibly beautiful). 

Mal seems to sense that getting anything else out of Lindsey is absolutely useless, so with one final glare at her best friend, she extends her hand out to Sonny. “Hi, I’m Mal. Lindsey’s friend and plus one for the night, obviously.”

It almost seems like Sonny’s just realizing Mal is even there, having been so focused on Lindsey up until now, but she fixes Mal with a smile and shakes her hand. “Sonny. Nice to meet you. Good game tonight, really a fun match to watch.” 

“Thanks, we obviously wouldn’t have won without this one,” Mal responds, jabbing her thumb in Lindsey’s direction. 

Lindsey laughs nervously, “Oh, stop. The whole team really turned it around in the second half.”

Mal cups her hand around her mouth and fake-whispers to Sonny, “She doesn’t know how to take a compliment.” (Lindsey blushes.)

“I’ve noticed,” Sonny mirrors the gesture and fake-whispers back, then both of them are chuckling together and Lindsey feels very attacked so she finds her voice in order to change the subject. 

“Okay, should we head out?” Lindsey can’t help but to let her slight annoyance come through in her tone. 

Sonny clears her throat a little to stop her laughter and Mal stifles hers by clapping her hand over her mouth. “Yeah, yeah. Follow me,” Sonny says as starts walking back towards campus. 

 

-

 

The house Sonny takes them to is relatively small for a college house—it looks like probably only three or four people could live there, but it’s packed full with people. The music is loud and can be heard from down the block, and the whole place is lit by either strands of Christmas lights or colorful LED strips tacked up to the ceiling. The kitchen counter is filled with bottles of alcohol and mixers, as well as some bowls of suspiciously bright red liquid that makes Lindsey shudder thinking about how many different alcohols are probably mixed in there. The living room just past the kitchen is host to a table filled with junk food snacks, and the inevitable few people milling about the table eating and sipping on their drinks. The living room spills out into a large backyard where the speakers are set up—the back door of the house pulled open so the noise can be heard from inside—and that seems to be where most of the people are, talking and dancing and drinking. On the side of the living room opposite the outside door, there’s another door with stairs leading downwards to the basement, and the sounds that filter up from there are those of drinking games: celebrations over beer pong victories and cheers for flip-cup teammates. 

When they walk in, Sonny is immediately greeted by multiple people, her name seems to be yelled from all corners of the house and the yard, and a very tall, lanky girl with wavy strawberry-blonde hair—who Lindsey recognizes from the basketball team’s instagram—runs up to her seemingly panicked. 

“Son, thank God you’re here, Rose isn’t listening to me when I tell her it’s a bad idea to go over to Connor’s house after this. I think she’s already too drunk. And I haven’t been able to vet him properly so I don’t know if his intentions are good. I need you to talk some sense into her.”

Sonny looks a little overwhelmed at the immediate onslaught. “Hello, to you too, Sammy. This is a party, please stop worrying so much and have some fun. I’ll go talk to Rose in a little bit though, just to make you feel better. Can I, like, get a drink and settle in first? Maybe go wish T a happy birthday?”

The tall girl nods, seemingly a little calmer now because of her teammate’s reassurance, and Sonny continues, “Now that you’re not going all Panic Petunia on me, can I introduce you to my guests?” Sonny grabs her upper arm and pulls her over to where Lindsey and Mal are still standing by the front door. “Sam, this is Lindsey and Mal. Lindsey and Mal, this is Sam, Sammy, Samantha, Sammy Bananas, or Panic Petunia. She will answer to any of the above.” There’s an adorable sparkle in her eyes as she teases her friend. 

Sam knits her eyebrows together skeptically at the introduction and then transitions her face into a smile directed at Lindsey and Mal. “Just call me Sam, really. Come on in guys, please, any friend of Sonny’s is a friend of mine.”

They follow Sam into the kitchen, Lindsey’s eyes darting everywhere to take in all the sights of her first party—the stereotypical red Solo cups in everyone’s hands, the group of drunk girls giggling as they scream about needing to find the bathroom, the couple making out on the sofa tucked into the corner of the living room—when suddenly she feels the light pressure of fingertips pressing against her inner wrist. Her head snaps in the direction of the pressure, and she finds herself mere inches away from Sonny’s face.

“Can I get you anything to drink?” her tone is hushed, like this is a very private conversation between her and Lindsey (and Lindsey realizes it kind of is , because Mal has already made her way into the kitchen with Sam and is fixing herself a drink), and she feels heat rise up into her cheeks at the same time heat pools low in her belly, the former from the embarrassment of not knowing how to answer Sonny’s question, and the latter from, well... from that hushed and kind of scratchy tone of voice, from the proximity of her body to Sonny’s, from the gently expectant look in her eyes as she gazes just slightly up at Lindsey.

Lindsey swallows and looks down, trying to compose herself. “Yeah, um, I’ll have… just get me another one of whatever you’re having.” Sonny smiles and wanders over to the kitchen, and the spot she just vacated is quickly taken by Mal. 

“Um, so I think everything on your end is going great, so I’m just going to keep an eye on you, but from a distance.”

Lindsey’s eyes go wide and she shakes her head minutely at Mal. “No, you can’t leave me, I don’t know what I’m doing!”

“Linds, she’s, like, so obviously into you.” (Well it’s not very obvious to me, thinks Lindsey) “And I don’t want to end up accidentally becoming whatever the female version of a cock-block is by hanging on your side all of tonight.”

Lindsey looks down at her shoes. “You really think she’s into me?” she asks, doubtful.

“Oh my God, Lindsey, yes!” Mal enthuses. “Look, I’ve literally been around you two for, what? only 20 minutes? And the whole time she’s just been staring at you like the fucking sun shines out of your ass.” 

Lindsey blushes and bites at her bottom lip. “She has?”

“Are you blind? Yes! Now I’m going to get out of here so she can bring you your drink and the two of you can…” Mal makes a lewd gesture with her fingers, “get on with it!”

 

 

After Sonny has tracked down Rose to keep her word to Sam, only briefly scolding her for trying to hook up with her new boy tonight (she didn’t seem to actually care as much as Sam did), and then tracking down her teammate Tierna to wish her a happy birthday, Lindsey and Sonny end up in the basement around the beer pong table. A bunch of Sonny’s basketball teammates are down there, and she takes Lindsey around the basement introducing her to everyone to make sure Lindsey feels welcome and included at a party where she hardly knows anyone. They station themselves next to a fold-up table on the perimeter of the room with Kristie, another one of Sonny’s teammates and apparently Sam’s sister, so they can rest their drinks on the table as they watch the beer pong game going down. Lindsey is nursing the drink Sonny made her—some sort of alcohol mixed with lemonade, Sonny had told her what it was when she brought it to her (also telling her that she made it light on alcohol because she didn’t know how much Lindsey usually drank, and Lindsey was very thankful for that)—and trying her very best to look like she belongs here.

“Linds,” Sonny’s touching her arm again, and that’s a lot , especially with her brain just a little foggy now from the alcohol (she’s definitely an inexperienced drinker. Does this mean I’m a lightweight? she wonders), “you wanna play next game with me?”

The good thing about being just a little tipsy though, is that Lindsey finds she can speak without agonizing over every word she’s about to say. “Not sure how I’ll do aiming with my hands. Is there any way I can play with my feet?”

Sonny laughs, and Lindsey feels her heart rate quicken at the sound of it. “I’m sure you’ll be just fine with your hands.” 

Lindsey cocks her head to the side, because it kinda sounds like that was supposed to be an innuendo, and Sonny’s smirking a little now, so Lindsey’s pretty sure it was, but even the tipsy-ness of her brain right now can’t help her come up with a quick response, so all she says is, “okay, I’ll play next game with you.”

 

-

 

About halfway through the game, Lindsey realizes that she’s actually having a lot of fun (it might be partially because the alcohol has somewhat loosened her up. She’s apparently a very giggly drunk). She had to have Sonny explain the rules of the game to her, and then Sonny decided that she needed to teach Lindsey how to properly throw the ping pong ball ( “it’s all in the wrist!” ) by wrapping her arms around Lindsey from behind, using her hands to prop up the taller girl’s arm in the correct position for her to aim and flick it into the cups racked across the table from them (It’s a lot of contact, and Lindsey swears her heart is beating so hard that Sonny can feel it from behind her, but she does learn how to throw the ball and she also gets to enjoy the feeling of Sonny’s arms around her). Then, they set up to play the winners of the game before, Sonny’s teammates Jane and Andi, and after a couple of rounds, Lindsey has gotten the hang of the game and is really doing pretty well. 

Lindsey watches as Sonny aims her next shot, squinting a little in focus, and then she hisses out a “yes!” when her teammate flicks her wrist expertly and sinks the shot. Jane pulls the ball out of the cup and quickly downs the beer in the bottom, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, and then Lindsey steps up to take her shot. Sonny only takes a small step back, ending up very close to Lindsey after she moves to the center of the table. She feels one of Sonny’s hands drift up to her lower back and her brain short-circuits for a second, but she’s pulled out of it relatively quickly by Sonny’s voice tickling at her ear, “You got this, just like last time. Don’t overthink it.”

Luckily, the alcohol is making it slightly easier to actually follow that advice, so she nods and then flicks her wrist just like Sonny taught her. The ball hits the rim of one cup and then skitters across the top of the next cup and then falls harmlessly off the table. She drops her head back in defeat, letting out a little groan, and Sonny’s so close behind her that her head basically ends up on the shorter girl’s shoulder. She doesn’t move it for a second, reveling a little bit in the closeness of their bodies. 

Sonny starts moving her hand up and down on her back in a comforting gesture, and chuckles a little at Lindsey’s frustration, saying “Linds, that was a good shot, so close, you’ll get it next time.”

Lindsey brings her head back upright and angles her body just a little towards Sonny ( wow, the alcohol is really doing so much for her confidence ), smiling at her as if to say yeah, I will , and stays like that for a moment, until she hears the plunk of a ping pong ball into one of the cups in front of them, and Jane saying, “Drink up, bitches.”

Sonny clears her throat, as if just remembering they’re in the middle of a game, “It's my turn to drink.” In grabbing the cup she drops her hand from Lindsey’s back and immediately, she misses the warmth there. Without the hand holding her there, Lindsey feels like she needs to take a step away to avoid any awkwardness, avoid standing so close to Sonny without a tangible reason. 

But the slight distance away from Sonny allows her to watch as she tips her head back to down the beer, showing off the line of her jaw and how it continues down her throat. Lindsey finds herself thinking again about kissing a line down her neck, maybe sucking a little at that soft-looking skin right below her ear (there’s a smattering of light freckles there), leaving a mark there, something to prove that Lindsey was able to put her mouth there…

(Lindsey has lots of fantasies...)

And then the red Solo cup gets slammed down on the table, and Sonny points across the table at their opponents, in a sort of “game on” type action. “Okay Andi, let’s see what you got.”

Andi flicks her ball with the practiced precision expected from a basketball player, and it plunks into a cup as well. Lindsey submits herself to drinking this cup (she’s not sure if she likes beer—she has very limited experience with it and it has not given her a good first impression), and downs it as quickly as possible to get it over with.

 

-

 

They actually end up winning their game, their relative soberness from being late to the party proving to be their secret weapon, as Jane and Andi start missing more and more shots as they consume more and more alcohol.

Their next opponents end up being Sam and Rose, who had found their way down to the basement some time in the last half an hour, while Lindsey and Sonny had been very focused on their game. Rose seems to be there against her will, Sam having forced her to be there so she and Sonny could keep an eye on her and make sure she didn’t make any bad decisions. 

So the cups are refilled with cheap beer and re-racked in their pyramids at the ends of the table, and the teams take their places on either end, Lindsey downing the rest of her mixed drink from earlier to keep herself loose (she likes how it feels when she can lose a few of her inhibitions around Sonny, it’s like butterflies in her stomach but warmer… fireflies in her stomach?). And then it’s game on.

 

-

 

After their game against Sam and Rose, Lindsey steps back from playing, not sure that she can keep putting up with drinking the cups of piss-tasting beer, but assures Sonny that she can keep playing if she would like to, that Lindsey’s perfectly fine to just stand and watch and cheer her on, so Kristie joins her team and Lindsey backs up to the perimeter of the basement. 

With Lindsey out of the game and able to focus on other things, she realizes then that she has no idea where Mal is, and also that there’s nothing left in the cup that Sonny had made for her earlier. So, she figures she can kill two birds with one stone by making a quick round upstairs, grabbing another drink and seeing if she can track down Mal. She wants to tell Sonny where she’s going, but she doesn’t want to interrupt the game, so she resolves to make it quick and just attempt to be back down in the basement before Sonny even notices she’s gone. 

When she gets to the kitchen, she finds Jane planning some sort of mischievous prank, pulling multiple Smirnoff Ices out of the fridge with another brunette that Lindsey doesn’t know and doesn’t recognize from the basketball team’s Instagram.

“Hey, Lindsey, right?” Jane greets her as she walks into the kitchen, her words a little slurred—she’s definitely past tipsy drunk by now, maybe into a bit of a sloppy drunk. Lindsey nods in response, then Jane continues. “This is Allison, the birthday girl’s girlfriend.” She points to the brunette who’s still holding the door to the fridge open even though all the Ices seem to have been taken out. “AJ, this is Lindsey, Sonny’s girl of the month .” She says those last words playfully, like there’s some joke that Lindsey’s not in on.

And, really, there must be, because what the fuck does that mean?

Allison (or AJ?) seems to be in on the joke too though, whatever it is, because she lets out a gravelly “oh ho ho” over a little chuckle. “Nice to meet you, Lindsey,” is all she says though, so Lindsey gets no more of an explanation to what’s going on here.

She’s a little dumbfounded, but she still kind of automatically says, “yeah, nice to meet you too,” and then, just to have something to do, she starts to dazedly pour random alcohols and juices into her empty cup. The two girls behind her have turned their attention back to whatever Ice-themed activity they were doing before, the clinking of glass indicating that they’re collecting them all off the counter, and as they’re starting to walk out of the kitchen with the Ices in hand, Lindsey— even over the din of the party—can hear a loud and drunk Jane say,  “Wanna take bets on how long that one’s gonna last? More than or less than than Son’s average two weeks?” and the sharpness of AJ’s cackle feels like it’s stabbing Lindsey in the gut. Because it’s becoming more and more clear what’s going on.

Sonny isn’t actually interested in Lindsey. She’s just interested in girls in general. A lot of girls. Different girls. She doesn’t keep them around for long, apparently.

Suddenly all the noise around her seems to go fuzzy, like she’s been sucked up into a vacuum. A vacuum of all-consuming thoughts and feelings, one prominent among them being I need to be alone right now.

So she leaves her just-filled cup of alcohol on the counter and starts to push her way through the crowds of people, trying to find the bathroom or an empty room or just a corner that’s not inhabited by people. Everything feels overwhelming as she wanders around the house, feeling closer and closer to tears the more she comes up empty in her search. She finally does find somewhere though, after climbing some stairs she’s pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to climb, a little nook right in front of the closed door to someone’s bedroom.

Once she’s hidden behind the wall, she finally collapses in tears, sliding down the wall until she’s seated on the floor. Well my first party is going great. Ugh, so is my first attempt at dating a woman! Lindsey thinks to herself sarcastically, and even though she’s trying to be funny, it ends up just making her cry harder.

 

-

 

It takes another twenty minutes for Lindsey to compose herself enough to feel like she can leave her little hiding spot, knowing that she needs to find Mal and get out of here as quickly as possible.

 

12:10am

The Great Horan: where r u?

Meow: backyard

 

Lindsey pushes herself to standing using the wall behind her, takes a couple of final deep breaths, and then makes her way back down the stairs, across the living room, and out the door, as quickly and efficiently as possible, not making eye contact with anyone in order to hide the red, watery eyes she’s sure she’s sporting. Once she’s finally made her way outside, the slightly chilly night air is such a respite to what she hadn’t even realized was sweaty, sticky indoor air.

Her eyes start scanning the mass of people for the familiar dark hair of her friend, but before she can find her, Lindsey’s eyes land on a very differently familiar head of white-blonde hair. The kind of familiar you get after staring dreamily at the back of it for almost six hours by now. But it’s not alone. It’s pushed up very close to another head of blonde hair—the kind of close that Lindsey was just under half an hour ago—that Lindsey thinks she recognizes as Kristie.

It feels like a soccer ball to the gut at the end of a grueling game her team is losing badly, so she forces herself to tear her eyes away from the pair of dancing blondes, looking again for Mal. She finally spots her sitting on some lawn chairs at the far edge of the yard with a couple other people, looking very comfortable socializing with these strangers she must have just met (Lindsey could never dream of doing such a thing). 

Lindsey makes a quick beeline over to the seating area and places her hands on Mal’s shoulders, causing her to startle a little, “Wha… oh hi Lin—”

“We need to go. Now.”

“Why? What’s wrong?” Mal’s voice is laced with concern.

“I can’t… I don’t… sorry, I… we just need to go,” Lindsey stutters out.

“Okay, okay,” Mal concedes, “let’s get you home.”

Chapter Text

Sonny - A Story

 

Emily Sonnett has been in love once before. 

It was Sophomore year of high school, with one of her soccer teammates. This girl named Katie transferred into her high school from North Carolina at the beginning of that year, and for some reason, Sonny just felt absolutely drawn to her. She was just a little taller than Sonny, with broad shoulders and light brown hair and a single dimple in her left cheek. And the clearest blue-green eyes.

Sonny made it her goal to get close to Katie. Really, she couldn’t explain it, but it felt like something she needed to do. So she offered to take Katie around the school, show her where her classes were; offered to train extra with her, show her what the team had been working on in the past year; offered to take her around the city, show her all the best places to eat and go to the movies and shop. 

Katie became her best friend. They became inseparable. And Sonny loved how that felt. Loved how she knew that Katie would always be around. Loved how she could be close to Katie, both physically and emotionally. Loved how Katie's eyes sparkled after Sonny told a really good joke. She couldn’t get enough of her.

Katie became a main-stay in the Sonnett household, coming over after school and soccer practice (or after Sonny’s basketball practice) and sitting at the kitchen island doing homework with both of the Sonnett sisters, and then she would stay for dinner, and then sometimes they could talk Sonny’s parents into letting her stay and watch a movie on the couch, as long as all of their homework was done (Sonny loved watching movies with Katie—they would snuggle up together under a blanket with a bowl of popcorn, and sometimes Katie’s hand would end up resting on Sonny’s thigh and that made her feel very warm and fuzzy inside). 

And she loved playing soccer with Katie. Sonny loved being on the team with her because she felt like they could read each other’s minds. Her own twin would be on the field, the mirror image of herself and her mind and her capabilities, and Sonny would pass to Katie because she could always count on her being there. Katie would not only be there, but would see the game the same way Sonny would, and would pick up on the plays the blonde was trying to set in motion.

Don’t even get Sonny started on how good it felt to have Katie notice when she did something well. She started upping her game, playing even harder than usual, becoming even more creative in her plays, simply because she wanted to impress Katie. Wanted Katie to tell her how well she played, or how crisp her passing was, or how clean her tackles were. She loved when Katie was the first one to run and hug her when she just scored a goal, and she loved being the first one to Katie when the goal came from the brunette. 

And she loved it even more when Katie came to her basketball games, because then there were no distractions for Katie. She could focus fully on Sonny and how she was playing, and not have to worry about how she herself was playing. Mmm, Sonny just absolutely loved when all Katie’s attention was on her. That same warm and fuzzy feeling she got when Katie placed her hand on Sonny’s knee arose when Katie placed all her focus on Sonny.

Sonny began to do anything it took to get Katie to focus on her. She started watching Katie’s favorite TV shows so the brunette would start conversations with her about new episodes. She started reading Sci-Fi books because she knew that was Katie’s favorite genre. She started getting up earlier because she knew Katie liked to work out in the mornings, so they would go on runs together before school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

She spent every waking moment (and almost every moment of her dreams) thinking about Katie, and she never thought anything more of it. Katie was her best friend. These were the thoughts everyone had about their best friend, right?

 

-

 

It was Emma, her twin sister, who brought it to her attention.

How it wasn’t quite normal how close she was becoming with Katie. How Emma had lots of close girl friends, but she had never spent so much time with any one of them alone. She’d never snuggled up with any of them on the couch to watch a movie. She had never tailored her interests and her schedule to better relate to one of her friends.

And then she said those words. The words that absolutely turned Sonny’s world upside down.

“Do you—do you think that, maybe… you might, you know, like her?”

“Well yeah, duh,” Sonny said to her sister, “she’s my best friend. Of course I like her.”

“No, Em, like, as more than just a best friend?”

Sonny sat silently for a minute, her mouth hung open a little in shock, lost in thought about the implications of what her sister was saying. 

“Look,” Emma said comfortingly, placing a hand lightly on Sonny’s shoulder, “as your twin, I just kind of instinctively know what’s going on in your head. So I can just see how often you’re thinking about her, how often you're looking at her. And, Em, I totally support you. No matter what, I still love you.”

Sonny was still collecting her thoughts, still coming to some sort of revelation in her own mind, but she’s finally able to stammer out, “I’m not… I’m not, like, a le— lesbian or anything.”

Her twin looks at her sympathetically. “Em, I’m not saying you are. But I see how you look at her. Like she hung the stars or something. You… you really like her.”

And eventually, after a lot of thought, Sonny had to concede. Emma was right.

 

-

 

The details aren’t important to this telling of the story, but Sonny and Katie ended up dating secretly. Well, it wasn’t exactly dating in the strictest sense of the word. But it was a lot of “pretending to do homework while actually secretly kissing on Sonny’s bed”, Sonny’s hands tangling in Katie’s soft, light-brown hair, Katie’s hands lightly trailing up Sonny’s back, their bodies pressed close together, their heavy breathing perfectly in sync.

And as Sonny had more and more time to think about it (and more and more time to make out with her best friend) she came to the realization that she was indeed more into girls than she was into boys. In fact, she might not be into boys at all. Because when she thought about making out with a boy, it just didn’t seem as appealing as continuing to make out with Katie…

But they never really talked about it. Never really talked about what exactly they were doing. Were they just kissing? Were there feelings involved? (Well Sonny knows that feelings are involved on her end, but she has no idea how Katie’s feeling.) Was Katie also wondering if she was gay?

 

-

 

The answer was no. Katie did not think she was gay. 

In fact, at the end of Sonny’s Sophomore year, before Katie was about to go on a month-long mission trip with her family and her church, Katie told Sonny that she “wasn’t like that.” As soon as Sonny had gotten up the nerve to tell Katie how she felt, how much she was going to miss Katie while she was gone, how much she really liked her, Katie let her know how “unnatural” her feelings were. How God didn’t make people gay. That all this had just been a bit of fun for her. She had been practicing for when she would be kissing boys. How they should probably stop this whole thing and maybe also stop being friends. Because she wasn’t sure she could be friends with someone “like that” .

 

-

 

That summer, Sonny was in a dark place. Emma was constantly trying to get her twin to have some fun, to play soccer or basketball and enjoy herself, to just get up and out of bed and do anything (Sonny never told Emma what happened exactly, but she had a feeling her twin knew more or less what happened anyways). But Sonny couldn’t find joy in anything. She was thinking too much about how she was a freak, and how no one was ever going to fall in love with her back, how other girls just weren’t like that .

She felt so alone. She thought she had found someone who was like her, who understood her, who could love Sonny as much as Sonny loved her. But she hadn’t. She hadn’t found anyone. She had spent nine months of her life dedicated to someone who ended up hating her.

And Sonny decided she would never let that happen again. She would never dedicate herself to anyone again. 

 

-

 

Instead, Sonny finished up her last two years of high school dedicating herself to basketball, instead of a person. She dropped off the soccer team completely to avoid Katie—telling everyone it was because she wanted to be different than Emma and she liked basketball better anyways—and started hanging out with the girls on the basketball team more. She dedicated herself to training, and only to training, so she didn't get sidetracked with another pretty girl (but also so she didn’t have to think about the fact that she was attracted only to pretty girls ). She dedicated herself to getting a basketball scholarship, so that she could get out of her hometown, get out of her state, get out of this absolute hellscape of a place where she was and always would be viewed as unnatural. Where the memories of everything she and Katie did—and everything Katie had said to her—haunted her constantly. 

She needed a fresh start.

 

-

 

Which brings us to college.  

Sonny realized when she met her new basketball teammates, that there were other gay people out there. Her freshman year, the senior basketball captain, Ashlyn, had been dating another one of their teammates, Ali; and Jane, one of her first friends, talked constantly about her girlfriend back home in Texas.

So Sonny shifted her mindset a little. It was okay that she only liked girls. That she was only attracted to girls, that she only wanted to kiss girls, that she only wanted to have sex with girls. (Sonny’s first time having sex with a girl was after a party in her freshman year. The girl was a couple years older than her, and was very understanding of Sonny's inexperience, even if she made it very clear it was just a one night stand—nothing serious. And man, having sex with a girl was really something .) But she still didn’t want to date girls. Because she still wasn’t ready to get her heart broken again. Still wasn’t ready to open herself up to the possibility of having some other pretty girl tell her it was unnatural .

Instead, she went for girls she knew she couldn’t fall in love with. Girls who were too short, too lanky, too dark haired, too femme (maybe even straight…), too confident (maybe bordering on cocky), the list goes on. It wasn’t exactly conscious, but every girl she started to go after was the exact opposite of what had hurt her before.

Every other week, she would go to a party and find some girl there, usually some girl that seemed fed up with attention from guys (that was the hint they were either gay, or straight but if offered the option of not having to be hit on by another man they would take it), and keep her around for a week or two. Sonny wasn’t great with one night stands—it really was in her nature to get just a little attached, even if she didn’t want to—so she tried to turn most of them into at least a week to two-week long stand. 

Once she had identified her girl-of-choice for the night, she would approach her and start with some fun flirty banter—usually something about how its horrible that men are so relentless even if it’s obvious the women are obviously not into it; then she would get into some light touches—to the inner-wrist, the upper arm, the lower back—to test the girl’s comfortability with taking the next step; and then eventually, she would make some suggestive remark that would let the girl know she was here for more. Sonny would usually then state her objectives: that she’s not looking for anything serious, that she’s totally okay if the girl wants to just experiment with her, that everything is super low pressure, but if there were any desire to do this again, she would be open to it.

Usually that up-front and understanding approach worked pretty well for her.

There was Ashley, the fiery red-haired biochemistry major who was obsessed with corgis.

There was Bethany, the short brunette who was a little too into her film degree for Sonny’s liking (she didn’t last long).

There was Marie, the figure skater with her long and curly black hair, who loved her cat Momo and her pennyboard.

There was Britta, the gangly blonde working towards an architecture degree, who was very experimental in bed (and was honestly one of Sonny’s favorite to-date).

There was Delaney, the sorority girl with a Starbucks obsession and obviously just used Sonny to feel edgy and different.

The list goes on. If Sonny actually thought about it too long, she would realize how exhausted she was from doing this all the time. 

But she never really thought about it.

 

-

 

It was Emma again who brought it to her attention. 

“You know that this isn’t sustainable, right Em?”

They were sitting on the floor in Sonny’s childhood bedroom, home for the summer after their Sophomore years of college, and it was all strangely reminiscent of the first time they had talked about Sonny’s sexuality, almost five years before.

“Hmm?”

“Constantly moving from girl to girl.” Sonny opened her mouth to offer her rebuttal, but her sister didn’t let her get a word in yet. “And don’t think I haven’t noticed that none of them look anything like Katie. I know I might not be in the same state as you most of the time anymore, but I still know more about you than anyone, and I can still feel everything that’s going on in your mind, like, through twin telepathy or whatever. You can’t keep ignoring what happened to you in high school.”

“Mmmm, I’m pretty sure I can.” Sonny had been ignoring it for four years now. She had gotten very used to ignoring it.

“But Em, don’t you want to, like, fall in love again one day, build a life with someone? You can’t do that if you never address what happened to you the first time you fell in love.”

And then Sonny ended up letting slip for the first time what actually happened to her. “Why would anyone fall in love with me? I’m unnatural . It would be unnatural .” Sonny twisted her fingers together in her lap nervously.

“Is that what she said to you!?” Emma was incredulous. “Emmy, you know that’s not true right?”

Those words from her sister once again absolutely turned Sonny’s world upside down.

Her twin got her into a few therapy sessions while she was home, and helped her set up a plan for continuing therapy when she went back to school. She also helped Sonny redefine her relationship with faith—because, of course, as it often happens with young queer people, God was used to tell her why she was so unnatural—and Sonny got the cross tattooed on her neck to remind her what Emma helped teach her: that God created her perfectly, and He absolutely didn’t create her unnaturally .

So Sonny came back to college for her Junior year open to love, and ready to find a girl she could see for more than a week or two.

Boy, she didn’t expect it to happen so soon though.

 

-

 

The first thing Sonny noticed about this girl was her broad shoulders. Shit . And then there were the eyes—blue as the fucking sky. With the most stunning eyelashes. And oh fuck she also had a dimple. And…

She was just standing there in all of her every-lesbian’s-wet-dream glory, looking completely freaked out at Sonny’s introduction.

“Not a handshaker?” Sonny didn’t want to make this girl uncomfortable. She couldn’t help but feel a little bad—this girl was so obviously feeling out of place probably because she wasn’t an art major— but she also couldn’t believe how incredibly lucky she had gotten. This girl was going to need her help in art history this year. And Sonny wanted to be there to answer every single question she could possibly have. 

“Lindsey.”

Lindsey. Suddenly the taller girl’s hand was wrapped around hers in a handshake and boy was that a flashback to the warm feeling brought on by hands under blankets on the couch. 

And, well, Sonny can’t help it. She’s been doing this for two years. It’s going to be a hard habit to break, even if she knew that for this girl, she would absolutely shred the habit to pieces. But right now, her first instinct was to start to flirt.

“I take it you’re not an art major? I feel like I would remember seeing you around the art building if you were.”

 

-

 

Aug. 27, 5:12pm

tobs: any idea why christen is asking me why I know you?

son: who’s christen?

tobs: the girl I started talking to end of last year

I swear I told you about her

comms major

soccer player

son: soccer player?

tobs: that is what I said, yes

son: so you’ve been talking to this christen girl for a while?

do you really like her?

tobs: you’re just going to ignore my question?

son: I’m answering it in a roundabout way

go with me here for a sec

tobs: ok…

yeah I really like her

I think I’ll ask her to be my girlfriend now that we’re back at school 

son: so like hypothetically 

if I thought maybe I liked a girl, like enough to date her

but had never dated anyone before really

how exactly would I do that?

tobs: Emily Sonnett are you asking me to be your gay Yoda?

son: god you’re such a nerd

but yes, I guess I am

tobs: I feel like you knew what you were getting into when you became friends with me

but you still kind of haven’t answered my original question

son: so there’s a girl on the soccer team

who also just so happens to be in my section of art history

tobs: oh no not one of your students

son: not a student bc I’m not a teacher

but I am really feeling vibes

and I would like to potentially have the ability to date her one day

tob: ah yes, that's what relationships are built on

~vibes~

son: that's what you’re here for, right?

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey Horan can’t figure out how it went so wrong.

It was bad enough when she hadn’t been able to get out of bed all of Saturday morning. Lindsey’s always able to get out of bed. She prides herself on waking up with one alarm only and then being ready to start a day of hard work, improvement, and problem solving (after coffee, of course). But on Saturday she never got out of bed. She just laid there and sifted through all the moments she’d shared with Sonny up through beer pong last night, trying to pinpoint what she read incorrectly. True, she didn’t know much about flirting, but there were cute compliments, and witty banter, and touching. And Mal had seen it! Mal, who knew significantly more about flirting than Lindsey did. But apparently, that wasn’t really what it was. It wasn’t anything real, anything Sonny wanted to take seriously. So Lindsey had relegated herself to lying here in bed and moping. 

But then, on top of that, Kelley came up to her room being all weird and sympathetic—bringing her a cup of freshly brewed coffee in her favorite mug—and Lindsey didn’t like that at all , both because she didn’t want to have contact with anyone right now, she just wanted to sit and stew in her misery; and because that was so unlike Kelley that it freaked her out more than it comforted her. (Plus the coffee left a bitter taste in her mouth. Lindsey’s pretty sure Kelley didn’t make it incorrectly, she has her fancy coffee maker after all, but the bitter taste of her life seemed to seep into the coffee. It didn’t bring her joy and happiness like usual.) Mal must’ve told Kelley what happened—or whatever stunted version of what happened that she picked up from Lindsey on the walk home last night. Between Lindsey’s unwillingness to talk about it at all and her inability to get a string of words out without wanting to cry again, there probably wasn’t actually much for Mal to go off of. So suffice it to say, Kelley did not know enough information to actually comfort Lindsey at all. 

So now, Lindsey is laying in bed alone, cuddled up with her stuffed animal Ferguson that she’s had since childhood, crying for the third time that day. Because she really can’t figure out why this whole situation got so turned around.

Her phone vibrates on her bedside table, and she’s surprised to see it’s from Sonny.

 

2:21pm

sonny: hey, didn’t see you leave last night

couldn’t find you in the basement after the game ended, and Kris wanted to dance so we went out to the backyard

I assumed you had already left, so I hope you didn’t come try to find us down there!

I was looking for you towards the end of the party but I was pretty drunk and don’t actually think I was very coherent

I think Sam basically had to carry me home 😂

 

Kris wanted to dance.

Those four words hit Lindsey like a ton of bricks. Sonny wasn’t supposed to do whatever Kristie wanted, she was supposed to frantically search the whole party to find the person she had asked to come to the party with her. At least that’s what all the rom coms Lindsey had ever watched told her Sonny was supposed to do. Not that Lindsey would have actually enjoyed Sonny finding her in her state of disarray last night—bloodshot eyes, puffy face, snot dripping down onto her upper lip. But she still wishes the thought was there. 

But once she looks past the jealousy of Sonny ending the night with Kristie instead of with her, so many other questions flood Lindsey’s mind. When did Sonny get so drunk? She was perfectly fine when Lindsey left her. Why did she only start looking for Lindsey when she was drunk?  Did she just want to take her home? Surely if she was just Sonny’s girl of the month, Sonny would be trying to sleep with her soon. And she probably expected Lindsey to know what she’s doing. And Lindsey doesn’t know what she’s doing. What did Sam think of her best friend dancing with her sister? Was Kristie just another of Sonny’s phases? Surely Sam wouldn’t let that happen, if she reacted so poorly to Rose trying to sleep with a guy she had just met. Does that mean Sonny was actually serious about Kristie? (And why wouldn’t she be? Kristie was the type of pretty Lindsey can only dream about being. She was confident, and beautiful, and had a perfect, feminie body...)

Lindsey isn’t sure that she’ll ever want to date anyone if these are the kind of questions she constantly has to ask herself. She can’t deal with this.

She clears the messages off her homescreen and flings her phone behind her on the bed, then tucks Ferguson under her chin as she burrows back into her pillow. She feels tears pooling at the corners of her eyes again. She tries not to cry again. She doesn’t want to cry again. She’s literally only known this girl for two weeks! And they never actually started dating! She’s never kissed Sonny, or even really hugged her, or held her hand (other than shaking it when they first met). There’s no reason she should be this upset by being used by this girl. This ‘unquestionably the most attractive girl she’s ever met’.  

But then again, that’s probably why she’s so upset. She thought she had a shot with this girl, this girl that was so out of her league, and she’d let that seep into her confidence a little. But she didn’t have a shot with Sonny—Kristie’s the one who has a shot with Sonny—and so her confidence is lower now than it even was before.

 

-

 

Mal comes up into her room later that afternoon carrying a plate of some cut up veggies with hummus and a peanut butter sandwich.

“Kelley said she didn’t think you’d eaten anything today.”

Lindsey drags herself into a sitting position, pulling her comforter with her in order to accept the plate Mal’s handing her. “Thanks.”

Mal sits down on the bed next to her. “Do you...want to talk about it?”

Lindsey shakes her head as she shoves the first bite of the sandwich into her mouth.

“Well,” her best friend says sympathetically, “can I just say something then?” Mal doesn’t wait for Lindsey to give her permission, she just charges on. “If she can’t see how incredible you are then that’s on her. You deserve so much Linds. Like so much. And also, if you need me to beat her up, I will.”

Linsdey shakes her head, mid-bite of a carrot stick dipped in hummus. 

“Is that a ‘no, I don’t think I deserve so much’ or ‘no, I don’t need you to beat her up’ ?”

The blonde finishes chewing. “No, I don’t need you to beat her up.”

Mal looks at her skeptically. “Are you sure? I know when her basketball practices are. Sam told me when we were hanging out at the party last night. I’m sure the whole soccer team would back me. We could take them. You know, West Side Story style.” She throws a few fake punches with her fists.

Lindsey does let out a bit of a chuckle at that, her mouth full of peanut butter and sticking together—which makes the laugh dry up pretty quickly.

Her friend’s hand drops gently onto her knee, rubbing her thumb there soothingly. “Hey, if you do ever want to talk about it, I’m here.”

Lindsey nods again, as she finishes up the last bell pepper slice on her plate. “I know. I just…” she sniffs back another round of oncoming tears, “...can’t talk about it yet.”

“Okay, love. You want me to take the plate downstairs with me?”

Lindsey hands the plate over wordlessly, and then pulls the comforter back over her body as she collapses back onto her bed.

 

-

 

Lindsey does manage to drag herself out of bed for soccer practice the next afternoon. Barely, but she does it.

She may as well not have gotten out of bed though, for how badly she’s doing at practice right now. 

She can’t connect a pass to save her life, can’t complete a header even if it were to smack her in the face, and can’t find the back of the net no matter how hard she tries. She feels like she’s never touched a soccer ball in all her 21 years on this planet. 

And she knows that everyone is noticing her deficiencies on the field today. Her teammates keep looking at her with pitying and sympathetic eyes, their eyebrows creased downwards and their mouths obviously holding back whatever thoughts they have about Lindsey’s play today. Most of them seem to be aware that something’s happening with her that has nothing to do with soccer, simply because she lives with so many of her teammates and because Kelly doesn’t know the definition of privacy. 

But of course, Coach doesn’t know what’s up with her.

Lindsey gets pulled to the side halfway through practice. Coach Sinclair asks her why she’s so off, and Lindsey has no response. Coach Sinclair asks if she needs to sit out the rest of practice, and Lindsey says no, she wants to practice. Coach Sinclair asks if Lindsey will still be playing off at the time of the next game, and Lindsey says she’ll be fine, she’s just having a bad day. 

And of course Lindsey knows what that question really is. It’s, “Do I need to give your starting spot to someone else for this game?” But Lindsey has worked hard for that starting spot, and she doesn’t want the worry over some silly crush to ruin that. So she resolves to focus better the rest of practice, work harder, pay attention to her instincts on the ball. 

She wants the girl, but she needs the starting spot. For her own confidence. If Sonny can’t give that to her, soccer would have to. 

 

-

 

She did not get better. Trying to focus harder just made her overthink. And overthinking made her second guess herself, which meant she wasn’t listening to her instincts. Which meant she still looked like she had never even seen a soccer ball by the end of practice. 

So Lindsey finds herself laying in bed again, now feeling defeated by two things instead of just one: soccer and Sonny. 

Speaking of Sonny, Lindsey realizes that she’s supposed to see her in class tomorrow morning. Lindsey doesn’t know if she can do it. If she can stare at that tattoo on the back of Sonny’s neck for another hour and a half, trying not to think about how she’ll probably never get to put her mouth on it (but Kristie will); doesn’t know if she can watch Sonny’s blonde hair tied into a bun bop up and down adorably as she nods along to what Vlatko is saying, now knowing she’ll never get to run her fingers through it (but Kristie will); doesn’t know if she can take the risk of catching Sonny’s sparkly blue-grey eyes if she were to turn her head around to look at the class behind her, afraid she’ll see an answer in the affirmative of Lindsey’s biggest question: am I just a ‘girl of the month’ to you? (and Kristie isn’t?)

 

-

 

Lindsey skips class the next morning. 

She’s never skipped class before. 

But she can’t bring herself to go. She’d gotten up and gotten ready, trying to convince herself not to break her streak of perfect attendance, but when she got outside the soccer house, her feet didn’t carry her to the art building, but instead to the practice fields on the west side of campus. 

All of her soccer stuff is in the locker rooms by the main field where the team usually practices (which is currently probably reserved for a JV team or a rec team—they always get stuck with the less-than-ideal practice times, either early, early morning or late at night if they want the big field), so she finds a cruddy soccer ball in the under-stocked supply closet and submits herself to kicking the ball around in her tennis shoes. 

It feels strangely nostalgic, like she’s back in elementary school, kicking a ball around at recess with other girls on her youth soccer team. It ends up being strangely comforting, to feel like she’s returning to her soccer roots, how her love for the sport started. She begins with just dribbling the ball up and down the field, throwing some footwork into the mix every so often, and then she moves on to some juggling, just feeling how the ball connects to her foot. So far, even with her under-performing footwear, she’s feeling better than she did all of practice yesterday. She’s not sure why—maybe because her body knows she’s avoided an undesirable alternative by being on the field at this time, maybe it’s because she’s having to focus harder to not slip or take an unbalanced step without her cleats on. So she decides to move on to taking some shots on goal. It hurts a little now that she’s kicking the ball a bit harder, but the rest of her life also hurts, so what’s a little more pain? She also only has one ball, so she’s having to run to retrieve it after every shot, which means she’s way more tired than she usually would be after taking eight shots on goal.

She’s setting up for her ninth shot when she hears footsteps behind her.

“Can I join you, Linds?” Lindsey turns around to see Christen standing there with her shoe bag in one hand and a mesh drawstring bag full of soccer balls in the other (she obviously came prepared). 

Lindsey doesn't quite know how to answer that. On one hand, Christen Press would probably be the best person to be with right now, if she had to choose someone to be with. Plus, she has supplies, so Lindsey can stop shagging her own ball every 10 seconds. On the other hand, Christen clearly came to actually practice, and Lindsey didn’t know she was going to end up practicing—doesn’t even have her cleats, and that would probably hinder her if she stayed to practice with Chris. Plus, Lindsey doesn’t really want to be with anyone right now, even if it is Christen.

“Oh, no, I’ll let you have the pitch. I just kind of ended up here unexpectedly.” 

Christen raises her eyebrows at the blonde. “Are you doing okay?” Her tone is gentle and reassuring (it almost makes Lindsey want to tell her everything), “It’s kinda rare for anyone to just end up here at 8:30 on a Monday morning.”

Lindsey looks down guiltily and plays with the soccer ball between her feet. 

After a beat of silence between them, Christen continues. “Isn’t… Isn’t art history happening right now?”

Lindsey’s head snaps up, a wide-eyed look of distress painting her face, feeling like she’s been caught in the act of skipping class. “How did… how did you…?”

“Tobin was complaining about having to get up early this morning when we were texting last night.”

Lindsey nods in understanding. “Yeah, I was planning on going there... but I came here instead,” she explains weakly.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Christen drops the ball bag and her cleats on the ground in front of her, seemingly settling in for a longer conversation.

If it weren’t for Chris’s soothing voice and genuine sounding concern, Lindsey probably would’ve clammed up again like she’s been doing the past couple of days with everyone else. But instead, this morning, she tells Christen sadly, “I don’t think I’m cut out for dating.”

“Is this about that girl I asked Tobin about? Emily?”

“Yeah. I don’t think she actually likes me.”

Chris reaches her hand out to touch Lindsey’s shoulder. “What makes you think that?”

Lindsey shrugs and then looks up at the sky, blinking back tears that are threatening to fall again. “I...I don’t think she likes, well, anyone. It… seems like…” she was having trouble getting the words out, “it seems like… she’s a, well, a player. And I’m… just a phase f-...for her.” Tears had started running down her cheeks halfway through that confession.

“Is that something she said?”

The blonde dabbed at her eyes with the sleeve of her t-shirt, then she shook her head.

“Then isn’t that a bit of an assumption?” Of course, Chris would be the one to bring reason to this situation.

Lindsey shook her head again.

“Why is it not an assumption?”

“Because I…” Lindsey sniffed as more tears started to come out, “because I saw her d-...dancing with ano-...another girl. Like...like, dancing, d-...dancing.”

Christen touched a hand to Lindsey’s cheek to wipe away one of her tears. “Have you talked to her about it?”

Once again, Lindsey shook her head, this time defeatedly. She knew talking to her would probably be the smart thing to do, but she didn’t want to because that was hard. Like emotionally hard. And her math brain didn’t do emotionally hard. Only mentally hard.

“Then I don’t think you can actually know what’s going on in her head, Linds,” Christen says sympathetically.

“But what if what’s going on in her head is something that I don’t want to hear?”

“Well, that’s just a risk you’re going to have to take.”

Lindsey doesn’t like taking risks. She knows what works for her. She knows her friends, and she knows her talents, and she sticks to them. What is it that High School Musical says? “Stick to the status quo?” Lindsey does that. And Lindsey likes doing that. 

 

—**—

 

Lindsey wants to talk to Sonny. She wants to ask her about what Jane said, wants to ask her about dancing with Kristie, wants to ask her about how she really feels about Lindsey. 

And so she’s typed up about seventeen drafts asking Sonny one question or another, but she can’t bring herself to send any of them. 

Instead she finds herself on Kristie’s Instagram profile, scrolling through post after post of modelesque poses and impeccably fashionable outfits. There are mostly photos of just Kristie, but there are also a few photos of her on the basketball court and a couple of photos of her posing with different friends (there’s one from when school started of her and Sonny and Sam out at a bar or something with the caption Snacks back at school and Sonny seems to be smiling at Kristie the way she smiled at Lindsey and that’s not something Lindsey wants to see).  

And then Lindsey looks up and finds herself in the reflection of her door mirror and doubts what she sees. All she can focus on are the broad shoulders and boxy midsection and wide hips. And right now, she might as well add messy hair and bloodshot eyes to her list of insecurities. And everything she keeps seeing, she keeps not liking, and convincing herself that there’s no way someone else could like them either. No way someone could find that attractive. Especially when the alternative is someone as attractive as Kristie.

So she stops trying to draft text messages. 

She just goes to lift, eats dinner, does her homework, and gets ready for bed. 

She conveniently forgets that she’s supposed to have a tutoring session with Sonny tomorrow afternoon.

 

-

 

8:56pm

sonny: still on for tutoring tomorrow?

 

Lindsey opens the message as soon as it comes through. When the full conversation pulls up, she’s reminded of the last thing Sonny sent her, about how she went off to dance with Kristie. She squeezes her eyes shut in frustration.

When she opens them, the three dots have appeared under the first text, and soon another string of texts come through.

 

sonny: you weren’t in class today

I can go over with you the notes that you missed this morning

are you ok? 

like are you sick? If you have a doctor’s note I can get the absence from this morning excused

 

Lindsey doesn’t know how to reply. This sympathy feels like an act, and she wants to respond simply so Sonny leaves her alone. She can’t keep getting messages from her if she wants to have any hope of ever making it through a day without crying again. So she says the simplest thing possible to get it all over with.

 

lindsey: no

sonny: no… what?

lindsey: no we’re not on for tutoring tomorrow

no i wasn’t in class today

no i don’t want to go over the notes

no i’m not okay

no i’m not sick

sonny: did something happen?

lindsey: yes

sonny: … are you going to elaborate?

 

Lindsey just feels frustrated now. Why is Sonny acting like she wasn’t dancing with Kristie? Like she doesn’t know that Lindsey was just temporary for her? Like she wasn’t going to move on as soon as the opportunity presented itself (as it obviously did)?

 

lindsey: please don’t play dumb right now

I can’t do this right now

please leave me alone

 

Her phone is quiet for a while, no new notifications coming through. Lindsey returns to her trigonometry equations, focusing on solving for x, y, and z instead of focusing on solving her life problems. It’s easier for her that way. But then…

 

sonny: I’m still confused

but okay

whatever you want, Linds

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey still cannot figure out how she ended up on the ground. She had been playing so much better in practice—thanks to her impromptu session with the ball yesterday morning, and also to ridding herself of the uncertainty surrounding Sonny by cutting off contact—but then suddenly, her feet were out from under her and she was rolling on the ground holding her ankle in pain. 

It was bad enough when Lindsey had to limp off the field with the trainers supporting her and miss the end of practice. She was just finally hitting a stride where she had stopped constantly thinking about Sonny, and instead gotten back to thinking about soccer, and her teammates, and how she could use this session (and the next session, and the next…) to get better. But, once she was lying on the medical table with the trainer prodding at her ankle, she no longer had soccer to keep her mind occupied. So she’d gone back to thinking about how Sonny had chosen someone else over her. 

But then, it was declared a minor sprain, but not minor enough that she would be able to play in the away game this weekend. She would definitely have to sit on the bench so nothing got worse. And that means Lindsey’s not going to have soccer as a distraction for the rest of the week. Which means she also won’t have the thing that makes her feel confident for the rest of the week. Just a broken heart, a broken ankle (okay it’s not broken, but Lindsey is feeling very dramatic), and broken confidence.

So now, she’s sitting in the living room of the soccer house with a brace and an ice pack on her right ankle, which is propped up on the coffee table, with a hovering Alex above her. 

“Linds, you should get an appointment with that physical therapist that works in the health center. I worked with him after I hurt my knee sophomore year and he really helped me out.”

While Lindsey truly appreciates the thought, she really just wants to be left alone right now. “Yeah, sure, Al, I’ll see if I can get an appointment with him.”

“I mean I know we also have our trainers for the team, but I just think, since it’s just a sprain, that getting it as much movement and strength as possible would help you get back on the field quicker. You’ve never hurt your ankle before, right?”

“Nope, this is the first time,” the blonde responds exasperatedly. Lindsey really just wants this conversation to be over. 

“Okay I’ll text you his information. You should call soon, he’s usually pretty busy and I want you to start as soon as possible.” Alex pulls out her phone to find the PT’s email and phone number, and soon after, Lindsey’s phone dings on the table. “There. Promise you’ll call him?”

“Yeah. Sure.” Lindsey’s voice is flat and unconvincing, but Alex leaves the topic be, luckily.

After a moment of silence while Alex is still focused on her phone, she touches Lindsey’s head gently. “Hey, I think I’m gonna pick up Allie from the library and go grab some Panera for dinner. Can I bring you back something?”

As irritated as she is with Alex right now, she is hungry. “Can I get one of those Mediterranean grain bowls? With chicken?”

Alex is gathering her car keys from the little bowl they keep by the door. “Yeah sure. You want an apple as your side?”

Lindsey thinks for a second. “No, the bread. Can I also get a cup of the broccoli cheddar soup?”

“Anything else?” The brunette is halfway out the front door as she asks the question.

“M&M cookie!” She exclaims as her friend is disappearing. “To make me feel better!”

 

-

 

Originally, Lindsey really wasn’t planning on calling this Physical Therapist that Alex had referred her to. His name was Dr. Bonecutter, and that didn’t seem like a promising name for someone who was supposed to be helping her heal. 

But then, she remembered what Sonny said—about being able to get out of class with a medical note. 

So now, she’s on the phone with the health center, volunteering herself for the first PT appointment tomorrow morning.

And she gets it. Tomorrow morning at 8:00am. Her perfect excuse for not seeing Sonny for at least a little while longer.

Knowing she has that—plus the cookie Alex brings her back from Panera—really does make her shitty day a lot better.

 

-

 

9:52am

From: lmhoran@portland.edu

To: vandonovski@portland.edu

CC: easonnett@portland.edu

Professor,

I sustained an injury at soccer practice yesterday afternoon, and the only appointment the Physical Therapist had available in the near future was this morning at 8:00am. The medical note for your review is attached. I have the syllabus and am keeping up with the readings for this class.

Thank you,

Lindsey Horan

 

-

 

By the time the game rolls around on Saturday, she feels silly for worrying so much about keeping her starting spot at the beginning of the week, now that she knows she has to be on the bench for the whole game with her ankle in a brace. 

She knows she probably doesn’t need the brace to handle the pain anymore, but Dr. Bonecutter had told her to wear it anyway for extra stability. After her PT session on Wednesday, she had gone back on Friday morning, and had another session scheduled for Sunday when they got back to campus. She wants to get back on the field as soon as possible so that she doesn’t have to keep sitting on the bench. Sitting on the bench gives her mind so much time to think about other things.

Today, she finds that her mind drifts to her first and only relationship she’s ever had. She’s not sure exactly why that’s where her mind wants to take her, but that is where she ends up. Maybe this is her mind’s way of reminding her that her first relationship wasn’t all that great, and she’s been so much happier single than she was in her relationship. So it obviously shouldn’t be a problem for her to stay single for a little while longer.

Her brain seems to highlight one memory in particular. She remembers this one time, about two months into their relationship, when Russel took her on a date to this Hawaiian-themed luau event. It was thrown on the lake every year by their school’s Teen Teaching program. 

At their high school, Teen Teaching had been less of a ‘Future Teachers of America” type program, and more of a “Future Greek Life Participants of America” type program. The whole thing just felt like one giant clique that Lindsey would never be cool enough for, no matter how hard she tried. Teen Teaching supposedly started as a program that would prepare a group of high school students to lead an end-of-the-year retreat for middle schoolers in their school district under the guise of getting them ready for high school. Lindsey remembers going to that retreat in eighth grade and leaving still completely unprepared for high school, so she’s not sure that the program was really very successful. Probably because all the Teen Teachers spent more time playing Icebreaker games that actually turned into gossiping sessions and planning the Luau for other high schoolers than they did trying to learn how to teach teenagers about high school. At the time, Lindsey always felt like she was missing something crucial to the teenage experience by not being a Teen Teacher, but looking back on it she realizes that it was a pretty toxic environment for high schoolers to be in.

All of this is a detour from the route her train-of-thought was originally on (and she’s surprised when she looks up at the game clock and realizes 15 minutes of the first half have already passed), so she refocuses. She needs to remember why being in a relationship is bad.

So Russel took her to this Luau on the Lake . And everything started out well. He picked her up at her house in his car that his parents had bought him for his sixteenth birthday, he gave her a lei to wear instead of the typical bouquet of flowers, he let her pick the music from the passenger seat, and he put his hand on her knee as they drove out to the lake. 

But then they got to the party, where all his Teen Teaching friends were, and it’s like she became a priceless exhibitionist piece and a forgotten-about piece of junk at the same time. He would introduce her to his friends, list off all her accomplishments—her captaincy of the girl’s team, her call-ups to the junior national teams, her standing as an honor student, her scouting by so many top schools across the country—and then proceed to ignore her as he talked with all her friends. Oftentimes about her while standing right in front of her. And it’s not like she could just leave and go find her own friends to hang out with, because her friends weren’t there. Sure, there were a couple people she knew there, but she would probably feel just as awkward standing there hoping to be included in their conversation as she did standing here with Russel. So she stood there and allowed herself to continue feeling worthless because of the way he was treating her. 

Eventually, he asked if they could take some pictures together by the lake, and she said sure, and so they walked down there with one of Russel’s friends who he recruited to take the photos. And Russel pulled her in awkwardly closely, wrapped his arms around her in a way that didn’t seem comforting but rather possessive, a way that tracked with how he had been acting the entire time they had been at the Luau. He posted the pictures later with some caption about how much fun he had with her today, and how much he liked her and how cool she was. All she could think about was how none of that was true for her. 

(Lindsey tries really hard not to think about how different Sonny’s arms felt, just over a week ago now, when she had wrapped herself around the taller blonde during their game of beer pong. Inevitably, her mind betrays her, and she ends up getting side-tracked for about five minutes comparing Russel’s arms and Sonny’s arms. Sonny’s strong, comforting, perfect arms… Oh my god, Lindsey, get your brain-train back on its track, she thinks to herself.)

Moral of the story is, Lindsey doesn’t need a relationship, because she doesn’t need someone else there to make her feel uncomfortable in her own skin—right now she would say she’s doing a pretty good job of that herself. 

The next time Lindsey looks up, they’ve gone into stoppage time for the first half and the board reads 1-0, and Lindsey has no idea who scored the goal for their team.

(Lindsey learns later that it was Mal, and of course Mal is perplexed as to what Lindsey could’ve been so zoned out thinking about that she missed the entirety of a goal her best friend scored.)

 

-

 

The bus pulls back into campus early afternoon on Sunday after a two hour drive back. In a break from her usual routine, Lindsey sat with Christen on the bus instead of Mal, or Kelley, or even Alex. She wanted Chris’s calming presence and positive outlook around her, instead of the chaos the others might bring. Lindsey is happy to sit silently on the bus next to her and listen to music in their own separate headphones, as she knows Christen is inclined to do.

Everyone files off the bus and idles on the sidewalk as they wait for their overnight bags and soccer gear to be unloaded from the bottom storage compartments. However, when Lindsey steps off the bus, she does not join the rest of her teammates in the quest to obtain their luggage. Instead, she stops dead in her tracks when her eyes catch on a sloppy blonde bun—almost like she’s magnetically drawn to it, she wasn’t looking for it but she found it anyways—sitting at a table outside the cafe across the street with a much neater, blonde bun sitting next to her. 

Kristie. 

“That’s her,” she’s saying to Chris before her mind actually even computes if that’s something she wants to say out loud. 

“Hmm?” Chris asks, clearly confused about what the blonde is trying to say. 

Lindsey points across the street. “Sonny. And the girl she was dancing with.”

Christen’s gaze follows the direction of Lindsey’s finger to the table with the two blondes sitting at it. “I feel like I know what you’re thinking Linds, and I just want to say, they could just be out grabbing lunch as friends. They are teammates. You grab lunch with a teammate or two all the time.”

The blonde shrugs. “I mean yeah, but also what if it’s more than that?”

“Linds, you should really just ask her. If you get the answer you want, then that’s fantastic! But even if you don’t get the answer you want, it’ll be so much less agonizing to just know and stop having to guess and always drafting up the worst possible explanations in your mind.”

Lindsey watches as Sonny animatedly says something and then Kristie laughs and her hand brushes the shoulder of the other girl next to her. ( That was supposed to be me is all Lindsey can think). She diverts her eyes from the giggle-fest across the street and luckily, the rush to collect belongings has started. “I gotta get my bag,” Lindsey says as a way to exit the conversation and avoid dealing with Chris’s very grown-up suggestion. 

(If Lindsey hadn’t walked away so quickly, she would’ve heard Chris mutter, “Well I guess I’ll have to talk to her for you then.”)

 

-

 

This time, Lindsey doesn’t even attempt going to class. She doesn’t wake up early, get dressed, grab her backpack, and head out the door only to end up at the soccer fields. No, this time, she doesn’t set an alarm, doesn’t get out of bed, doesn’t make an effort to leave the house. Because she can’t see her. Not after what she saw yesterday.

Turns out that might have been a little bit of a mistake.

 

10:43am

From: easonnett@portland.edu

To: lmhoran@portland.edu  

CC: vandonovski@portland.edu

Good Morning Lindsey,

It is my job as a TA to inform you that, after your second unexcused absence this morning from lecture, you will be dropped from the class if you are to miss another without a valid excuse. I am available to go over the notes you’ve missed in the lectures, and I’m sure the other TA’s would be available as well, if that might work better for you. 

I am very sorry to learn of your injury and I hope that you get better soon.

Best,

Emily Sonnett

 

Shit. Even in exile from Lindsey’s life she still finds ways to pop up and be considerate and caring and thoughtful in just the littlest things. Now, Lindsey wishes she had gone to class and put up with the whole having to stare at the back of her neck thing just so she didn’t have to receive this email.

And then, she startles a bit because she realizes that being dropped from a class might put her athletic scholarship in danger—and she hates that this wasn’t her first thought after receiving this email, and instead her second or third. 

She hates this version of herself—this sad, unmotivated, lovesick version of herself that no longer even attempts to care about school—and resolves that she’s going to be better now. She’s going to kick her academic drive into high gear and become her old self again. Just focused on soccer and getting all the grades she needs to maintain the soccer. No more of this silly heartbreak shit.

 

-

 

Speaking of soccer, Lindsey lifts with the team that afternoon and, based on her low pain level, she’s cleared for most of the activities at practice tomorrow. She’ll probably have to sit out if there’s any sort of scrimmages, or anything where contact with another teammate might re-injure her, but other than that, the athletic trainer had told her she was looking good, thanks to the Physical Therapy sessions.

(Lindsey really should start giving Alex more credit for how much she’s helped improve her life, especially recently.) 

Knowing that she gets to participate in practice tomorrow significantly boosts her mood, and she’s even able to hang out with Mal and Kelley after practice, which brings back a sense of normalcy that she’s been missing over the past couple weeks.

They go to their favorite coffee shop just off campus and order drinks and acai bowls and sit at a table by the window, just like they always do. And just like always, their conversation starts with their thoughts on the team’s last soccer game.

“Linds, I really can’t believe you just missed my goal on Saturday.” Mal is pretending to be upset, but Lindsey can tell that there’s a giggle hiding just beneath her even tone of voice.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry, okay? You’ll just have to score another one for me this weekend.”

“What were you even so distracted by?” Kelly asks as she goes about constructing the perfect bite of acai bowl—just the right ratio of toppings to frozen berry goodness.

Lindsey grimaces. “I mean I can tell you, but you have to promise me that you won’t make fun of me for it…”

The two girls across the table from her nod in agreement.

“Fine,” Lindsey continues, “I was thinking about Russel.”

Mal looks shocked and affronted. “You mean that horrible wannabe-man you dated in high school?”

Kelley, even though she’s never met Russel like Mal has, looks just as perplexed. “You mean the Russel you still loudly complain about at least once a week? The one you still blame for like half of your life’s problems?”

Lindsey raises her hands in a sort of I plead the fifth gesture. “In my defense, I was only thinking about him because I wanted to remember that being in a relationship wasn’t actually all that special so I could stop feeling so sad about not currently being in a relationship.”

“Lindsey!” Mal does not look comforted at all by this information.”While I am so proud of your determination to be independent, Russel is not the default setting for a relationship.”

Kelley nods in agreement. “Yeah when you find someone you really like, you won’t have to constantly complain about them because you’ll be constantly raving about them.”

“And ravishing them…” Mal says under her breath. “Raving and ravishing…”

A look of deep distress passes over Lindsey’s face. For as much time as she does spend fantasizing about things of a sexual nature, she spends almost no time talking about it. It’s uncomfortable for her.

Mal seems to sense her distress, but no-sense-of-boundaries Kelley does not. “Obviously. When you find someone you like, you should also really like having sex with them.”

Lindsey drops her head to the table in front of her in embarrassment. “Oh. My god, Kelley, your voice is so loud. I am never coming out into public with you two ever again,” she mutters into the table.

“Linds, really, we need to find a way to get you more comfortable with all the aspects of a relationship.” Mal reaches out a hand to stroke the top of her head lightly. “The more confident you are, the easier it’ll be to move on when something doesn’t work out.”

“Right,” Kelley agrees, “plus, you have to know that there would be literally so many people on this campus that would be so beyond lucky to date you.”

Lindsey shakes her head against the table, and her two friends share a look of exasperation at her continued self-doubt. 

Mal decides to try one more time. “Lindsey, I know you think that all you can do is soccer and math, but really you’re so much more than that. You’re funny, and kind, and a leader, and literally the best friend a girl could ask for.”

“Plus, you do make really good eye-candy in the locker room,” Kelley adds, smirking a little bit. Mal smacks her in playful indignation, and Kelley responds, “What? We’re trying to boost her confidence here, aren’t we?”

Lindsey’s had enough of this, so she finally lifts her head from the table. “Ugh, okay, I get it. I need to be more confident. But can I do that while focusing on school and soccer? Because right now I’m about to fail out of Art History because I’ve missed three classes and no longer have a TA to help me study.”

Mal and Kelley both shoot her looks of sympathy before conceding, then volunteering to move this hang-out session to the library so Lindsey can spend some time studying. 

At the end of the day, Lindsey really does love her friends. 

 

-

 

“Hey, Linds,” whispers Christen from the locker next to her after practice finishes up the next day, “can I talk to you about something, just outside, please?” 

Lindsey’s eyebrows knit in confusion, “yeah sure, but why can’t we just talk in here?”

“Um, because it’s about that thing you’ve talked to me about before, and unless I’ve misunderstood, I don’t think anyone else in this locker room knows about what happened fully, and… well locker rooms aren’t great for privacy, as we know.”

Lindsey nods, and then follows Chris out of the locker room. The dark haired girl holds the door open for her to walk out, and suddenly…

Lindsey finds herself just a few feet away from blue-grey eyes and a messy blonde bun and hands tucked nervously into Adidas sweatpants. She’s in shock, to the point where the sound of the door closing behind her is muffled and far away, and she almost doesn’t notice that Christen hasn’t actually followed her outside—she’s still on the other side of the now-closed door. 

The shorter blonde shifts awkwardly in the beat of silence that follows Lindsey’s confusion, but then she’s speaking, a little quietly, a little timidly. “Lindsey, I think there’s been a big misunderstanding. I know you said you didn’t want to talk to me, but will you just let me explain?”

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey cannot remember the last time she felt so utterly stupid.

It was bad enough when she realized, from the very first few words that Sonny said, that she was not in fact dating Kristie or involved with her in any way. Kristie actually had a girlfriend who went to a different school—a school in Chicago. 

But then, she further realized that Sonny had been flirting with her (very obnoxiously flirting with her, actually, according to Sonny), and that it was not some big misunderstanding where Lindsey was reading the signs incorrectly due to inexperience.

So now, Lindsey’s look of shock and confusion and mild annoyance has morphed into a look of shock and confusion and mild hope, but she is nonetheless standing stock-still in front of this very attractive woman ( she’s cute when she’s worried, Lindsey notices) trying to process all this new information she’s learned. There’s still one thing that’s not making sense to her, though, and it’s…

“What about this whole ‘girl of the month’ thing?” It comes out unexpectedly, because even though Lindsey does want to know, she didn’t want to ask it aloud. But she did it anyway, apparently.

“What?” A look of deep perplexity passes across Sonny’s face, her eyebrows knitting together and her mouth turning downwards in a frown.

Lindsey at least has the grace to look a little bit embarrassed by what she just asked, and more importantly how she just asked it—in a slightly accusatory tone. So she tries again.

“Well, you see, when I was at the party, it was just this thing someone said to me. They called me your ‘girl of the month’ and then took bets on how…” emotion wells up in Lindsey’s voice and it starts to become much more difficult to get the words out, “well, how long I—I would last… how long I would last with—with you.”

Sonny’s eyes widen in surprise. “Fuck. Who said that?” but then she shakes her head and quickly backtracks, “no you know what, that’s not the important thing right now.” Her voice is a little frantic. “Oh my God, no wonder you were so upset. I’m so sorry. Wow, I—I have a lot more explaining to do than I thought. Shit.

There’s another beat of silence, as Sonny rubs her forehead with her fingers in a distressed thinking motion. “Lindsey, I need you to know that that’s not true. It may have been in the past, like even within the past year, but it’s no longer true. Like at all. And you deserve a way deeper explanation than that, but Christen told me I probably only had about ten minutes before people start coming out of the locker room and we are absolutely about to hit that time-limit and this specific explanation will probably take at least ten minutes by itself. So, can you believe me for now and then, if it’s okay with you, we meet up later and talk about that?”

Lindsey’s not going to lie, she’s a little bit unsatisfied with that as an answer, but she also knows she should be putting a lot more of the blame on herself for not just talking to Sonny and letting her explain so much sooner and probably in a more private place. So she nods and says, “Yeah, we can do that.”

Sonny smiles softly, seeming to relax at Lindsey’s agreement. “Okay, I’ll text you about a time tonight then. Will I see you in class tomorrow?”

Lindsey finds herself reflecting the shorter blonde’s expression back to her—just a small smile sprouting from her lips. “Yeah, I’ll be there.” She lets out a dry chuckle, “Getting an incomplete in one of my classes would probably be pretty bad for my scholarship.”

Sonny actually smiles now, the little crinkles appearing at the corners of her eyes, and Lindsey can’t help but think about how cute that is, especially now that she’s a little more confident this thing might work out. 

She doesn’t have the chance to think about it for long though, because there’s a commotion behind her as the door flings open, and Becky, Chrystal, and Alyssa pour out of the locker room (luckily, it’s none of the people who would be extremely interested in the fact that Lindsey is currently talking to Sonny).

“Well, I better head out, I guess,” Sonny says, tucking her hands back into her sweatpants pockets.

“Okay, yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Lindsey opens the door to the locker room and gives the other girl a half wave as she walks back inside. 

 

-

 

6:38pm

sonny: Wednesdays are a pretty busy day for me

Could we schedule something Thursday?

I have class until 2 and then practice from 3-5, but maybe something that evening

lindsey: we have a practice until 6 on Thursday

sonny: would dinner time be okay? Maybe around 7?

We can meet at a restaurant or I can cook or just a dining hall would be fine too

 

Lindsey could tell that Sonny’s trying her very hardest to make sure that whatever they were doing was something Lindsey felt comfortable with, and her heart swelled a little at the thought. She likes the thought of having dinner at a restaurant with Sonny, and is even more drawn to the thought of having Sonny cook dinner for her, but for this conversation? She just wants to be somewhere she feels comfortable.

 

lindsey: I think just somewhere on campus would be okay. I’ll probably head to the library when we’re done.

Maybe that sandwich place in Providence Student Center?

sonny: sounds good to me, Lindsey :)

Hey, really, thank you so much for letting me explain

lindsey: yeah of course

I didn’t really do my part by telling you what was wrong

So it’s really the least I can do

 

-

 

Lindsey does know that, at some point, she probably needs to tell Mal about the fact that she’s talking to Sonny again, so she finds herself outside her best friend’s dorm room pretty late that Tuesday night. When Mal opens the door, she definitely looks a little surprised to see the blonde, but she quickly welcomes her into her room and gestures for her to take the bed while she sits on her own desk chair. 

“I’m not going to beat around the bush here,” Lindsey says as she gets herself settled on Mal’s bed. “I’m talking to Sonny again.”

Mal glares at her in disbelief. “I’m sorry, what? Lindsey I’ve never seen you so sad ever. And I was there after your family’s dog died.”

Lindsey rolls her eyes. “Okay, Tucker dying was a completely different kind of sadness because he was, like, old and sick and I was old enough to know he was about to die. But everything that happened at the party I was completely blindsided by.”

Mal gets up from her desk chair and comes over to join Lindsey on the bed. “Linds, what exactly did happen at the party? You never really told me—I mostly just guessed.”

Lindsey spends the next fifteen minutes or so recounting the entirety of the party to Mal, from the ‘Sonny wrapped her arms around me to teach me how to throw a ping pong ball’, to the ‘Sonny’s drunk friend told me I was her girl-of-the-month and didn’t actually mean anything to her’, to the ‘I ugly cried upstairs for like at least twenty minutes’, to the ‘I saw some other girl grinding on her on the dance floor’.  

“But anyways, she showed up outside the locker room today and told me that it was all a big misunderstanding and she wanted the chance to explain. So, we’re meeting for dinner on Thursday.”

“Wait, she just, like, showed up? How come I didn’t see her?”

Lindsey shrugged. “Christen had something to do with it. I’ve been talking to her about all this stuff, and she’s been saying I should just talk to Sonny, and she’s the one that told me to go outside the locker room and then there Sonny was.”

“Wait, how does Christen know Sonny?” Mal asks, puzzled.

Lindsey frowns, considering that for a moment. “She doesn’t…”

“Then how did she get Sonny to show up at the locker rooms today?”

Lindsey has to take another moment to think about that question, but then a look of realization passes over her face. “Ohh, Chris is low-key dating another one of the Art History TA’s! She must have talked to Sonny through Tobin somehow.”

Mal nods in understanding, but then pauses as another question comes to her, “okay, how did I not know Christen was dating someone?”

Lindsey balks at the absurdity of that question, “Mal are you blind? And deaf? I know she hasn’t, like, exactly said she’s dating Tobin but she talks about her all the time. And she’s always giggling when she’s looking at her phone? And she just, like, overall looks like she’s in love.”

“You look like you’re in love,” Mal mutters. 

“Oh really?” Lindsey’s tone is incredulous. “I told you just, like, five minutes ago that I’m talking to this girl again and that it might have the possibility of working out and now I’m in love?”

Mal shrugs. “You should’ve seen the heart eyes you got when you were talking about Sonny at the party, pre-misunderstanding. If it is a misunderstanding. Linds, I really don’t think you should go into this conversation with, like, sky-high expectations though.”

“Why not? That’s the best Disney Channel Original Movie!” Lindsey is met by a blank expression from Mal, so she feels the need to clarify, “ Sky High ?”

“No I got it, I just think you’re wrong. The best DCOM is obviously Lemonade Mouth.

Lindsey laughs. “Honestly I’m surprised that’s your favorite, Mal. It’s so obviously a gay movie.”

Mal’s face goes through about a million different emotions in a second as she tries to reconcile what Lindsey’s just said and also probably figure out how she completely missed that Lemonade Mouth is apparently gay. She doesn’t seem to figure it out. “Whatever, Linds. I just really liked that song She’s So Gone. ” (If Lindsey says something like “ah, my gay awakening” under her breath, Mal ignores it and continues.) “But back to the important part of this conversation, try to manage your expectations for dinner with Sonny. What if her explanation isn’t good enough?”

Lindsey nods in contemplation. “Okay, yeah I can do that, I think. I just have to come in cautiously... and make sure I get all my questions answered... and practice some restraint in fantasizing about her in class tomorrow, just in case it doesn’t work out,” she resolves.

(Lindsey does not do a great job practicing restraint in the fantasizing department. That tattoo is still on such prominent display at the front of the lecture hall, and she can’t help that it leads her to look at Sonny’s muscular shoulders—on display in a tank top—and then continue her gaze down the TA’s arms that had been, just over a week ago, wrapped around Lindsey’s waist.)

 

-

 

She doesn’t do the best job managing her expectations Thursday at dinner either. 

It starts when Sonny shows up and she’s dressed in real clothes, for some reason, instead of her usual athleisure wear. She’s got on a white, cropped t-shirt and black high-waisted jeans and her hair’s in a ponytail instead of a bun, and immediately upon seeing her, Lindsey wants this to go well so badly, because she wants this woman that’s standing in front of her to continue being in her life. 

Luckily, she doesn’t have to wait too long to figure out if it’s going to go well.

Lindsey realizes, after talking to Sonny for a while, that their feelings about relationships have been the same but they’ve dealt with it in almost completely opposite ways—Sonny decided that the best way to deal with a previous bad relationship was to not commit to anyone but sleep with everyone, and Lindsey decided the best way to deal with a previous bad relationship was to not try unless she finds a person she wants to commit to. And now, after hearing Sonny’s story, Lindsey’s really relieved to know that she has a lot of insecurities too. So far, it’s seemed like the spunky blonde has her shit together, and her life figured out, and Lindsey was the only one fumbling when it came to wanting a relationship. Knowing that Sonny’s also not really sure what she’s doing makes Lindsey feel more comfortable around her, finally settling into a place where she feels like she can talk to her without stumbling over every word, and ask her questions as she goes through her story.

“So what made you stop? You know, sleeping with so many different people?”

“My sister,” then Sonny laughs, “and therapy. Lots of it.”

“What’d your sister say?” Lindsey asks. 

“That I would never have a real relationship if I was too scared of trying. If I didn’t think I deserved a relationship because of who I loved, I was never going to find anyone who wanted a relationship with me.”

Lindsey hums in thought. “I think, maybe, I might actually have some of the same feelings. I just, I don’t feel like I’ll be good at a— a relationship, so I never want to try.”

Sonny bites her lip in a sort of half smile. “I’ve noticed that about you. You like to do what you’re good at. What you know you’re good at. And you don’t really like doing things you’re not good at, like art, or history,” Sonny’s eyes crinkle into a full smile. “But honestly, from what I’ve seen, you’re really getting the hang of it—art history. All the concepts and themes and through-lines. You might even be getting pretty good at it.”

Lindsey purses her lips thoughtfully, “Well I do have a very helpful TA… although she might be disappointed to know that I was very lost in class yesterday after missing three lectures in a row…”

“Nah,” the shorter blonde waves that sentiment away with her hand, “it just sounds like you might need a few extra tutoring sessions.”

“I mean I’m not going to say no to them...” Lindsey muses playfully.

There’s a moment where they just sit there staring across the table at each other, grinning obnoxiously, and then Sonny clears her throat and tentatively speaks up again. “Hey, Linds. I really don’t want to overstep here, but, what would be your thoughts on trying therapy? I just, if we do want to try something, like going on a date, or something, possibly, I want you to feel confident in what you’re doing. And I just know how much it’s helped me, and I just—“

Lindsey reaches out and places a hand on Sonny’s shoulder to stop her nervous ramblings (she registers that this is the first time she’s really initiated contact with Sonny rather than the other way around—apparently something about Sonny seeming nervous really gets to her…) and speaks reassuringly, “hey, I’ll think about it, okay? The therapy thing. And also the dating thing. But, maybe we can just start with tutoring, and like friendship?”

Sonny’s eyes sparkle as she smirks, “okay, but maybe I could tutor you over dinner?”

 

-

 

Saturday night finds Lindsey once again entering the locker room to some pump up music playing loudly—it seems like Crystal has the aux today, because it’s Beyoncé blasting from the speakers. 

Lindsey knows she’s not going to be starting because her ankle is still a bit iffy, but she’s hopeful she’ll get ten or fifteen minutes at the end of the game—just something to get her out on the field and really moving again. 

Knowing that she might eventually come into the game means that she’s actually paying attention this time, and she notices how their opponent sets up in a low block and really holds their defensive shape, and it’s making it difficult for Alex to make any sort of runs in the box—she just keeps getting cut off by the omnipresent center backs. 

When a girl on the other team goes down (Kelley gets called for a foul, but the girl on the other team was really trying to sell it for a card and Kelley was not having that), everyone comes over to the sideline to get a drink of water. Lindsey holds Mal’s bottle out for her to grab easily, and when Mal makes her way over to her, she’s smirking a little bit. 

“What?” Lindsey asks her friend. 

“Have you checked the crowd tonight?”

As a matter of fact, Lindsey had not checked the crowd tonight, because she had no reason to. As far as she knew, no one important to her was coming to this game. So she shook her head no and took the water bottle Mal was handing back to her. 

“You might want to,” her best friend says as she backs away from the sidelines and onto the field. 

Of course, Lindsey’s curiosity gets the better of her, and before she sits back down on the bench, she scans the bleachers behind them. She knows who she wants to find, but surely it’s not—

Oh. No, it is. 

Lindsey can’t help the dopey grin that spreads across her face as she makes eye contact with Sonny. She looks like she has some sort of notebook open in her lap, and Lindsey briefly wonders what that’s about, but her mind is quickly occupied by the little wave that Sonny sends her, and so Lindsey sends one right back to her. 

When the whistle blows for the other team’s free kick, she finally remembers where she is, and that she will eventually need to sit down on this bench and not just stand in front of it looking at Sonny for the rest of the half, so sit down she does. 

 

-

 

Coach Sinclair calls her to start warming up around the 65th minute, and honestly Lindsey’s surprised that she’s going in so early. They’re tied 1-1 right now (thanks to a golazo from Christen, who obviously got so tired of the tight defense she just started shooting from way outside the box, and that strategy seemed to work out pretty well for her), and she kind of only expected to go in if they were winning, just because she’s really only played all-out once in the past two weeks, and it was yesterday at practice.

But Coach tells her she’s going in for Allie, and that Lindsey’s going on the field to score a goal, and that she needs to trust her instincts and just go out there and “play like nobody’s watching.” Ironically, those are coach Sinclair’s actual words, because arguably the most important person in Lindsey’s life currently is going to be watching her very intently while she’s on the field. 

In fact, she’s watching Lindsey very intently right now, as she does her warm-up drills on the side of the pitch. Lindsey can just feel the grey-blue intensity boring into the back of her head. In the burst of confidence that comes along with being put into the game to score a goal, she whips her head around with the explicit purpose of catching Sonny out on her staring. It works, and they lock eyes, and Sonny doesn’t try to divert her eyes but does transform her face into a bit of a guilty expression, and Lindsey feels the corner of her mouth tug up into a smirk. 

The last thing she sees before the fourth official is holding her number up on the sideline is Sonny shooting her a big smile and an encouraging thumbs up. 

 

-

 

“Linds, there’s no way you were injured last week—I swear that goal was absolutely insane! ” Kelley rushes to hug her as soon as the final whistle blows. 

Alex and Mal are right behind her, piling themselves onto Lindsey as well. “SHE’S A HALF. VOLLEY. GIRL!” Mal squeals from where she’s wrapped around Lindsey from behind. 

“THE GREAT HORAN STRIKES AGAIN!” Alex’s tone is similarly excited and directly in Lindsey’s ear. 

“Okay, ow, Al, that would be my eardrum you just blew out,” Lindsey grumbles from where she’s crushed between her teammates, but they ignore her and keep yelling.

“And in front of your girlfriend?” Mal asks excitedly.

Kelley and Alex exchange looks of confusion from where they’re still standing in the little huddle-hug. “Wait, I thought we were mad at her?” Kelley asks.

“Oh, whoops, you hadn’t told them yet?” Mal grimaces apologetically.

Lindsey sighs, and then explains, “Not mad at her anymore. There was a big misunderstanding and I jumped to some conclusions. We’re good now. There was a long conversation the other night and I feel much better now.”

The three girls still huddled around her all make congratulatory and animated remarks about this new development, and Lindsey’s still sweaty and squished in between all of them, but beaming like a maniac anyways. 

Eventually, the three of them let go, and then Linsey’s left to hug all her other teammates in excitement and shake hands with their opponents. Somewhere in the midst of her after-game activities, she notices that Sonny’s no longer in the stands. It dampens her mood a little bit, but really, Lindsey didn’t even tell her there was a game happening and she still showed up, so she can’t be too upset. 

 

-

 

8:32pm

sonny: INCREDIBLE

HOW ARE YOU HUMAN?

Literally such a good goal

 

8:39pm

sonny: wow I’m still not over it

sooooo good

 

8:49pm

sonny: I’m so sorry I had to leave during stoppage time

Sam was in a crisis and I had to go rescue her

Anyways, I’m going to tell you again how incredible you are

 

Lindsey finds all of Sonny’s messages waiting for her when she gets back into the locker room and she can’t help but smile. She tries to hide it at least a little bit, but Christen definitely notices. 

“So I take it you two have worked things out?” Christen asks knowingly, but still quietly, so as not to involve the whole locker room. 

Lindsey bites her lip in an attempt to stop smiling and nods as she starts packing her dirty game clothes back into her bag. “Yeah we got dinner on Thursday and talked for a while.”

“That’s so good, Linds! See I told you that talking to her could solve all your problems!” 

Lindsey chuckles a little at that. “Yeah, I know, I know. You told me so.” The blonde reaches out and puts a hand on her locker-neighbor’s arm. “Chris, I really can’t thank you enough for intervening. I was literally being so stupid and dramatic, and I see that now.”

Now it’s Christen’s turn to laugh. “Yeah, you really were. But you’re welcome. I want to see you happy Linds.” Her face hardens a little, “but if she ever hurts you, like actually, I will end her.”

Lindsey doesn’t doubt it. “I’m sure you will. I think a couple others in this locker room might join you as well.” Then, after Lindsey’s finished putting her last few things in her bag, she turns to Christen again. “Hey, can I ask your advice about something else?”

The dark-haired girl turns to face her. “Sure, Linds.”

“What would you think about me starting therapy?”

 

-

 

9:07pm

lindsey: really, thank you for coming :)

I hope Sam’s doing okay

On a completely different subject

Can you send me the contact info for the therapist you go to?

 

-

 

Lindsey wakes up Sunday morning not to her alarm, but instead to Kelley screaming. 

“LINDSEY! LINDSEY HORAN! Are you awake!?!?? Wake up!!”

Lindsey rubs the sleep out of her eyes and finds a very sweaty Kelley in her running clothes kneeling on the edge of her bed, looming over her eagerly. 

“Ew, Kelley, you’re sweaty, please don’t get that on my clean sheets,” the blonde says groggily. “And no, I wasn’t awake, but now I am. So what do you want?”

Kelley stands upright so she’s no longer touching Lindsey’s bed, “Linds, I don’t want anything. But do you know what I found when I came home from my run?”

Lindsey looks exasperated, “No, Kel I don’t. And if you don’t tell me soon, I’m going to have to demand you make me coffee before we have any longer of a conversation.”

“We can do it all in one trip downstairs!” Kelley starts bee-lining it to the door of the blonde’s bedroom. “I can make coffee, and you can look at what I found!” When Lindsey doesn’t get out of bed, Kelley groans in frustration. “C’mon, Linds, really. Let’s go, chop chop. This is really something you’re going to want to see.”

Lindsey finally gives in and begrudgingly pushes herself out of bed to follow Kelley downstairs. When they get down to the kitchen, Kelley extends her arms in a ta-da motion towards the counter, and Lindsey finally sees it. 

A large bouquet of colorful flowers and a manila envelope with Lindsey’s name written on it. 

“Kelley, what’s this?” Lindsey asks, confused as to why this is on their counter, and who sent it. 

“Lindsey, how am I to know?” The brunette replies sarcastically. “I just got home from my run and it was on the porch. So I brought it inside, and now it’s on the kitchen counter.”

Lindsey walks over to the bouquet and picks up the envelope, opening it carefully. Kelley looks on over her shoulder as she pulls out the papers, there are about three or four of them in there, and the top one happens to be a handwritten letter. 

Kelley gasps, “Omg it’s from your girlfriend, ” she says pointing to the signature at the bottom of the page. 

Lindsey, now realizing that this letter might say something she doesn’t want Kelley to see, flips over the papers on the counter and pushes Kelley’s arm away. “Kelley, weren’t you going to make me coffee? That was part of our deal for me getting out of bed.”

Pouting, Kelley turns away from Lindsey and towards the coffee machine, and Lindsey’s then able to flip the paper back over and start reading. 

 

Lindsey,

If I didn’t make it clear enough in my texts last night, I just wanna say it again—what an incredible goal! And what an incredible win! An incredible game overall! These flowers are just a little something to say congrats to you for tearing it up on the field. I didn’t know what your favorite flowers were, so I kind of got you a mix of a lot of different things. 

Also, I wanted to use this letter to reiterate that I want you to feel comfortable communicating with me. If you have questions or doubts ever again, I want you to come to me and I want to talk about them. I think that’s important in all types of relationships, even just friendships. 

However, I am also using this letter as my formal declaration of trying to date you. And it obviously doesn’t have to be right now, it can be whenever you’re ready. But I do want you to know that I’m not currently interested in any other girls (and especially not Kristie).

You might have noticed that there are some other papers in this envelope. About those—I actually ended up at your soccer game because I had an assignment about speed drawing subjects in motion. Of course I could’ve gone to any sporting event, and there was definitely no specific reason I chose your soccer game :) Anyway, I finished the required number of drawings before you went on the field, but I drew a few more after you went on the field. So that’s what else is in this envelope. The drawings obviously aren’t as pretty as the real thing, but I hope you like them. 

Yours truly,

Sonny

 

Lindsey puts the letter aside and behind it she sees a sketch—obviously done very quickly, with messy lines and imperfect shapes, but it’s still very clearly Lindsey mid-strike of the ball. She flips to the second paper, and it’s a sketch of her in the box, trying to head the ball towards goal. Once again, everything is roughly drawn, but it’s somehow very easy to tell it’s her, as if Sonny has picked up on all of the smallest details that make Lindsey, Lindsey . From her sock height, to her thick ponytail, to her muscular legs and broad shoulders. And the last paper is a sketch of her and her teammates just after she scored her goal. The winning goal. Her mouth is open, mid-scream, and there’s a figure that looks like Mal rushing to hug her and another that looks like Alex also running to join in. Lindsey just keeps staring at the drawing, at how incredibly happy she looks, and how well Sonny captured the moment, and she’s hard-pressed to think of another gift she’s been given that means so much to her. 

“Okay princess, here’s your coffee,” Kelley returns to Lindsey’s side with a mug of steaming hot liquid in her hands. “Ooh, what’s that?!” The brunette asks teasingly as she catches a glimpse of the sketch that’s currently on the top of the pile. 

Lindsey flips them over again, but she does a horrible job at hiding the smile that’s spilling across her face. “Nothing,” she says, unconvincingly. 

Kelley raises her eyebrows, “are you sure about that?”

Chapter Text

In the front left corner of the lecture hall, there’s a dark cove hidden behind a wall—which usually stores extra technical equipment and a few textbooks. But today, Lindsey finds herself backing Sonny up against that wall, her large hands on Sonny’s slight shoulders, her eyes dark and hungry as she gazes down on the shorter blonde. Lindsey’s heartbeat is pounding out of her body and feels like it’s reverberating through Sonny, mixing with her quick and uneven breaths. Lindsey watches closely as Sonny bites at her bottom lip, and then Lindsey can’t help herself, and she’s surging forward to catch that bottom lip between her own, pushing herself up against Sonny and pinning her even tighter to the wall. Lindsey opens her mouth experimentally, and she feels a thrill travel up her spine as Sonny’s tongue presses up against her own. It feels like Sonny can read her mind, because her small hands trace that same line of the tingle up her spine, ending up tangling in Lindsey’s hair at the nape of her neck. That touch reminds her of what she’s wanted to do for so long, so she’s telling Sonny to ‘turn around’, pressing her front into the shorter woman’s back, swiping Sonny’s wispies off the back of her neck and leaning in, ready to finally get her mouth on that damn tattoo…

For the life of her, Lindsey Horan cannot recall a single word Vlatko said in lecture yesterday morning. 

It was bad enough when she had to admit to Sonny at her tutoring session that Lindsey had been a little distracted in class, and therefore might be a bit of a mess when it came to knowing the material. 

But then, inevitably, Sonny asked the one question Lindsey did not want her to ask—some innocent sounding inquiry about why Lindsey had been so distracted, after realizing there hadn’t been any exaggeration and Lindsey actually didn’t pick up anything from the lecture—and a deep red flush spread across Lindsey’s face and down her neck. Because, of course, the answer was that she was vividly imagining what it would be like to finally get her hands on Sonny, to press her up against the wall so she could feel every curve of Sonny’s body against hers, to taste her lips as she pulls her in for a heated kiss...

So now, Lindsey is at a loss for words, sitting next to Sonny in Starbucks, blushing uncontrollably, and trying to come up with an answer that won’t make her even more embarrassed. Unsurprisingly, nothing is coming to her, so she just sits there and makes guilty side-eye contact with Sonny, until she seems to get it. 

Sonny’s hand presses against her chest in a classic who me? type gesture, and when Lindsey gives a barely-there half-nod, Sonny looks away smugly. Lindsey goes back to taking notes just so she can try to focus on something that’s not her complete and utter discomfort in this specific situation. 

“Linds, you know, if you ever want to share any of those thoughts with me, I—“ Sonny cuts her sentence short when she sees the withering death glare the taller girl is sending her way. “Okay, fine you don’t have to share,” and then under her breath she adds, “yet.”

Lindsey has a hard time believing that those are thoughts she would ever share with Sonny.

 

-

 

Later that afternoon, Lindsey arrives at the locker room somewhat mentally exhausted, after an hour long tutoring session and another hour long therapy session—her first ever appointment with her new therapist. It turns out a math-kinda-girl having to talk extensively about her feelings, while ultimately helpful, is very draining. And all of that after a tutoring session for her hardest class that came with an extra side of embarrassment? Sheesh. Lindsey had really gone through a lot today, and training hadn’t even started yet. 

Coincidentally, Mal is walking into the locker room just behind Lindsey and calls her over to talk for a bit. “Hey, how was the counseling session?”

Lindsey purses her lips as she nods, contemplating her answer, “It was a lot, but it was really good. I feel like we had really just started tackling some of the confidence issues and then time was up. But my therapist had to dig really deep for a while to figure out what it was all rooted in, so that really took up most of the hour.” 

Mal hums, “But it sounds like it was good though! I know that’s something you’ve been struggling with more recently too. When’s your next appointment?”

“Next Monday. Yeah, hopefully we can kind of pick up where we left off today.”

“Hey,” Mal touches the side of Lindsey’s arm gently, “I’m really proud of you for doing this.” She smiles reassuringly at Lindsey. “I hope it really helps you. Like, personally, and also like, romantically.”

Lindsey rolls her eyes. “Please, not this again. Can we just have one normal conversation where you don’t bring up the current state of my love-life?”

Mal looks at her like that is the most absurd request she has ever heard. “Noooottt going to happen, because I don’t want you to think I forgot you also had tutoring today! How is your friend Sonny?” There’s a mirthful glimmer in her eye as she emphasizes the word ‘friend’.

The blonde scoffs. “She’s fine, thank you very much. And we are friends.”

“Yeah, right. Friends who both really want to bang each other…” Mal sneers.

Lindsey cuts her off. “Okay, yeah, I have to go get ready for practice,” Lindsey shoots up (the classic bisexual) peace sign satirically as she backs away from Mal and back to her locker.

 

-

 

There is a certain place in hell for whoever dreamt up ladder sprints. That’s all Lindsey finds herself thinking during practice just a short while later. Not to mention the person who dreamt up the repetition of ladder sprints. Who thought it would be a good idea to make anyone do all this running once, let alone ten times?!?! Especially after all her emotional turmoil today, and now she’s having to go through physical turmoil. She didn’t ask for this. She was hoping practice today would be something fun and soccer-y, just to boost her emotional capacity back up, but nooo. Today had to be the day Coach Sinclair decided to do endurance conditioning.

When it’s all finally over, Lindsey collapses on the side of the field, sprawling out on her back and throwing her arm over her eyes to block the sun. 

“Horan, I really thought you were in better shape than that,” a voice above her says teasingly. She squints one eye out from under her arm to find Kelley standing next to her. Ugh, of course Kelley’s perfectly fine right now. 

“Oh, fuck off, Kel. Not everyone is the human version of the Energizer Bunny.” Lindsey’s actively trying to sound mean, but she’s too tired for it to actually come off right.

Kelley lets out a loud cackle and then plops herself down on the field next to Lindsey. “Hey, I was absolutely not born with all this energy. But let me tell you something,” she leans in towards Lindsey and cups her hand around her mouth to whisper in the blonde’s ear, “a good 40 percent of it came when I started dating women.”

Lindsey’s face crinkles into the same expression she wears when she’s trying to solve a math problem in her head, and when it doesn’t look like she’s going to land on the correct answer, Kelley interrupts her thought process by explaining (probably too loudly for the setting), “ sex, Lindsey. I’m talking about lesbian sex.”

Lindsey’s eyes widen almost comically. “Kelley! Lower your voice! Please!” she begs, as the brunette rolls back onto the ground, shaking with laughter. 

The next time Kelley speaks, she is not any quieter. “Linds, you’re dating a girl now! This is how you get your stamina up!”

“We’re not dating,” Lindsey says flatly.

“Okay, but you wish y’all were,” Kelley counters.

Lindsey goes quiet for a moment as she stares out across the soccer field. “I mean, yeah, I don’t think that’s really the question. But we’re friends right now. That’s what we’ve agreed on.”

Kelley sits back up so she can look Lindsey better in the eye, “okay but, like you actually want her to be a friend, right? Not just the girl who’s tutoring you?”

The blonde pulls a few blades of grass out from the ground underneath her and starts shredding them between her fingers as she contemplates that statement. “I think we are friends.”

“No you don’t,” Kelley shakes her head as she snorts out a soft laugh, “friends would like, get lunch together, or like, go to a concert together, or like,” she gasps like she’s had a revelation, “support each other at their respective sporting events! Linds, we should go to one of her basketball games!”

“What about a basketball game?” Alex has suddenly appeared standing above Kelley as she squirts water into her mouth out of her Gatorade bottle. 

Kelley whips her head up to look at the new arrival to their conversation, squinting into the sun. “I’m trying to talk Linds into going to one of her girlfriend’s basketball games.”

(Lindsey is getting tired of having to mutter, “Not my girlfriend,” but she manages to get it out one more time.)

“Ooh! Yes, we should go! I’ll go too! We can get a group together Linds so you don’t have to go alone! When’s her next game?”

And, of course Lindsey knows the answer to that. She finds herself navigating to the basketball Instagram at least once a day. And they always have updates on their next games and how practices are going and very often there are pictures or videos that involve Sonny and every single time Lindsey sees one she thinks Sonny’s cuter than the last time she saw her in one of the pictures or videos. But Lindsey doesn’t want to seem like she’s too eager, doesn’t want to blurt the information out too quickly, so she takes a moment to duck her head into her shoulder in order to wipe some of the sweat off her upper lip with her sleeve before she speaks.

“Friday. At 7.”

“Oh perfect! Right after our video session ends!” Alex seems much too excited for the situation. She’s not the one who has a massive crush on Sonny. And she continues her much too excited reaction as she whips her head around the field to find Allie, Mal, Christen, Abby, and Lynn, inviting them all to the game as well.

All this while Lindsey just sits on the field, mortified at this new development of basically the whole team getting involved in her love-life. She was having enough trouble getting involved in her own love-life, she doesn’t need all these other people there, at the game, watching as Lindsey fawns over Sonny in what will most certainly end up being the most embarrassing manner ever. She doesn’t want that. She just wants to simp in peace and privacy.

Is that too much to ask?

 

-

 

Lindsey’s pretty proud of herself for the restraint she practices in class the next morning, actually managing to pay attention to most of the lecture (not all of it, because it’s absolutely impossible to just ignore Sonny when she looks like that , but at least she’s wearing a hoodie today that hides her shoulders and about half of her tattoo), so she feels pretty good as she sits down in the library to start filling out the study guide for their first art history test of the semester.

Discuss ways in which Ancient Egyptian art was influenced by religion.

Check, Lindsey can do that. That’s something Sonny went over in their first tutoring session.

Compare and contrast Roman and Greek styles of art and architecture.

Yup, she can do that. Of course it’s because Sonny went over it with her in their second tutoring session, but still, she can do it.

Analyze the importance of the mosaics in Rome’s Santa Costanza to Early Medieval art.

Oof. Yeah that was definitely something that was covered when Lindsey skipped class. 



7:15pm

lindsey: hey when this study guide mentions “Rome’s Santa Costanza” in relation to Early Medieval art, what exactly would that be?

sonny: hey I was just thinking about you

see that’s how you share thoughts 🙃

In case you needed a demonstration

 

Lindsey gets a quick and uncomfortable flashback to their tutoring session yesterday, when she all but admitted that she does not spend her time in class listening to the lecture, but rather staring at Sonny. But really, isn’t that the same thing Sonny just did? Yeah, she flat out admitted she was thinking about Lindsey, but she didn’t share any of her thoughts, just like Lindsey didn’t share any of hers.

 

lindsey: you’re not going to answer my very serious question about class?

also, you didn’t actually share what your thoughts were about

so that’s no different than what I did

sonny: fine, here are the specifics

I was thinking about how pretty your eyes are

also about your really adorable dimple

but probably mostly about your really attractive shoulders…

 

Lindsey feels heat pool low in her belly at Sonny’s compliments, and one of her hands almost automatically finds the opposite shoulder, her arm crossing over her chest so she can now feel how noticeably her heart is beating. She’s never thought of her shoulders as attractive before, only as broad and un-feminine, but here Sonny is, saying that they’re attractive enough for her to be thinking about them. Damn, doing this friends think with Sonny is going to be nearly impossible if she keeps saying shit like that. 

It’s almost as if Sonny can read her mind, because not even a second after she’s had that thought, another message comes in.

 

sonny: okay really sorry I feel like I might’ve just stepped over a line there

if we’re currently just doing a ‘friends’ thing

 

Lindsey takes a deep breath. She thinks about what her therapist said—about how many of her confidence issues come from her assuming that people aren’t going to find her attractive, because of what her old coach said to her and how Russel treated her, among other things—and about what Kelley said—how they aren’t really even friends even though they both want to be more than friends . She already knows Sonny finds her attractive, so no assumptions need to be made. She already knows Sonny wants to date her, so really, why did Lindsey insist on just friendship? 

She resolves to go for it, because she really likes the feeling she gets when Sonny compliments her, and she wants to feel it again (and again, and again…).

 

lindsey: nope, no lines crossed

I actually went to my first therapy session after tutoring yesterday

And I learned how to share as well

I stare at the back of your neck during class

Like a lot

And it’s your tattoo that just really distracts me

 

Lindsey feels her heartbeat jump up into her throat in the most exhilarating way possible as she types out and sends each one of those responses, her vision going foggy around the edges with how overwhelming the sensation is. It’s almost like a completely different version of herself has taken over her body and is sending these messages. Once she’s pressed send on the last message—the one about the tattoo—her field of vision clears a bit and she realizes with a start that she’s still in the library. All of this has just been happening to her in the university’s library!

 

sonny: okay wow dammit

so that’s why you don’t know anything? 

Because of my tattoo?

lindsey: among other things…

sonny: do I get to know any of those things?

lindsey: not unless you answer my original question

sonny: fine

But first can I just say that it’s very had to be just friends with you when we talk like this

 

Lindsey lets her head fall back against the hard, wood back of the library chair. She could not agree with a statement more than she does with that one. And she knows she should tell Sonny that, especially because her lack of communication is what caused such big problems between them in the very recent past.

 

lindsey: can we, like, do something together

That has nothing to do with class or sports

As kind of a test run for ‘more-than-friends’?

Because I would like to get there sooner rather than later 😊

sonny: absolutely, yes

What are you doing this weekend?

Do you have an away game?

lindsey: nope

Another home game on Saturday

Nothing planned for Sunday

Oh but I do have your basketball game planned for Friday!

sonny: oh really?!

A real-life soccer star will be coming to one of my basketball games?

How did I get so lucky?!

Also, how does Sunday work? Can I plan some activities for the day for us?

 

(If Lindsey wasn't so preoccupied with just getting her texts sent, she would find it really endearing how excited Sonny is to plan something for them to do. A whole day of things to do apparently. But she is preoccupied, so that thought doesn't cross her mind until much later.)

 

lindsey: basically the entire team will be there 😂

I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex tries to make it a required team event

And Sunday sounds great. I’m down for just about anything with you

sonny: okay, it’s a date then 😊

Or a pre-date?

Whatever you’d like to call it

 

Lindsey’s smile is uncontrollable right now. She’s going on a date (or a pre-date?). With Emily Sonnett. 

(She realizes too late that she never actually got her question about Medieval art answered, but right now, she couldn’t care less.)

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey Horan cannot remember why she thought it would be a good idea to bring her friends out into public like this. She should be well aware of this—any time a big group of the soccer girls goes anywhere there’s always dancing, and shouting, and just general shenanigans. But for some reason she thought tonight might be different, maybe out of respect for Lindsey and this girl that she had the potential to date—maybe they would try to make her look cool and like she could be a great girlfriend, but if anything, she swears they’re making her look worse. 

It was bad enough when all of her friends decided to spend their time before the game started coming up with a custom cheer for Sonny (they decided on the tune of the Harry Potter theme song while saying “Son” over and over again), and then decided to chant it over and over again during the first quarter. Sonny kept looking up in the stands whenever Lindsey’s teammates would finish their cheer and make eye contact with Lindsey, and Lindsey would have to give an apologetic shrug accompanied by a wry smile to let Sonny know that she was still happy to be there, getting to watch the basketball player in her element. 

But then, when Sonny was leaving the court at halftime with all her teammates, Kelley decided it would be a great time to yell, “Sonny, look! Lindsey’s here!!” much louder than was necessary. This did cause Sonny to look up in the bleachers with an amused smirk on her face, as a deep blush bloomed across Lindsey’s cheeks and down her neck. She did return the shorter blonde’s wave though, which caused Kelley to beam with pride and clap Lindsey on the shoulder. 

So now, Lindsey is using the halftime break to plead with her friends to take it down at least three notches and, unsurprisingly, most of them seem rather unreceptive to her message. 

“Linds, I’m just trying to let your girl know that we approve of her and that she should absolutely start dating you,” Kelley explains. 

Lindsey rolls her eyes, “Okay, well if I had to guess, I don’t think that’s how she’s reading it.”

“If I had to guess,” Mal decides to add her two cents, “I would say she’s at least not reading our support as a bad thing.”

“Yeah, Linds,” Alex has joined the conversation now, “if the number of times she’s looked up at you is any indication, she’s at least amused by our cheering and probably thinks it’s adorable that you brought us along.”

“Okay, well, I think it’s embarrassing to me,” Lindsey emphasizes, “so if you guys are actually my friends, you’ll take it down at least two notches, even if you can’t agree to the requested three.”

Luckily, Lindsey can get them to agree to that. 

 

-

 

7:41pm

lindsey: sorry for my friends

they don’t know how to behave in public

sonny: no worries, really

it’s motivating me

to know that I’m not only playing for you but also for them

Plus you’re cute when you’re flustered

lindsey: Ugh well i don’t feel cute

i feel embarrassed 

sonny: hey, really, it’s not a problem

We get rowdy people at our games all the time

It’s a nice change that they’re cheering for me this time 😊

 

-

 

The second half goes much better for Lindsey. It’s a combination of her friends heeding her word and (mostly) scrapping the Harry Potter chant in favor of just general cheers when Sonny does something good (which is often, Lindsey can’t help but notice. She doesn’t know much about basketball, but she does know the ball is supposed to go in the basket, and Sonny seems to make that happen on just about every shot she takes), and the reassurance from Sonny that this situation isn’t actually as embarrassing as she thinks it is. 

So she joins in cheering with her friends—and is even talked into doing their chant once after the third quarter, when there’s a slight break in the action—and ends up having a lot more fun. 

Kelley helps Lindsey understand a bit more about what’s going on, the 3-point shots versus the 2-point shots, the importance of blocking shots, how a team gets to take free throws, and by the fourth quarter, Lindsey can actually discern more than just Sonny looks good in her basketball uniform from what’s happening on the court. 

The game ends with Sonny’s team winning by about 5 points, which Kelley says is actually a pretty close score and that the game was a real nail-biter all the way to the end, and Lindsey’s awkwardness returns. She isn't sure if she should go down to the railing or if Sonny has some after-game thing she does with her teammates that Lindsey would just get in the way of by making herself so visible. 

But the decision is made for her when Sonny stations herself at the railing, her usually sloppy bun even sloppier after playing a full game, with sweaty tendrils curling around her temples chaotically, grinning up at an approaching Lindsey. 

“Good game, I think.”

“You think?!?” Sonny questions teasingly. 

Lindsey giggles, “Well I can’t pretend to know much about basketball, but I did see you score a lot. So I’m pretty sure that constitutes a good game.”

The shorter blonde smirks, “Yeah I would say my aim was on target today. Definitely all because of things I did, and not at all because there was a pretty girl in the bleachers that I wanted to impress.” 

Lindsey tinges pink at that comment and wants to make a cute quip back at Sonny (she thinks of one too! She wants to look around teasingly and ask “who? Is Margot Robbie here?” as if she doesn’t know who the basketball player is talking about, so that Sonny will eventually have to tell Lindsey that she was actually talking about her, and, hopefully in the process, compliment her again), but before she can say anything, Kelley has joined her at the railing.

“Hello!” She greets enthusiastically, “you must be Sonny, I mean I know you’re Sonny, but I’m Kelley, and we haven’t met before, and I want to approve of you before this one ,” she knocks at Lindsey’s rib cage with her elbow, “gets in too deep.”

Sonny looks a little stunned by the interruption, but she softens as Kelley’s about halfway through her spiel, offering her hand out for Kelley to shake. “Nice to meet you Kelley, thanks for coming out tonight.”

“Why would I ever want to miss this? I got to watch Lindsey get all embarrassed and blush-y while a cool basketball game was going on. It was great!”

“What was great?” Mal has joined them at the railing now. 

“Nothing,” Lindsey says forcefully at the same time Kelly says, “Lindsey’s embarrassment.”

Mal chuckles, “Oh yeah, that was pretty great.” She then shifts her focus to Sonny, “Also, hi Sonny, good to see you again. Great game.”

“Hey Mal, thanks! And thanks for coming, too.” Then she makes eye contact with Lindsey, and seemingly detects the high probability for awkwardness with the four of them in the same vicinity. “Hey, guys I would really love to stay and talk, but coach asked to speak with me about the game next week and I don’t want to keep her waiting.” Then she places her hand over Lindsey’s tightly gripped hand on the railing and directs her next words to the taller blonde, “Would you be able to stick around? I just wanna talk about what we’re doing Sunday.” Sonny smiles softly up at her. 

Lindsey visibly relaxes at the offer to get to talk with Sonny alone, without her nosy friends hovering, and she nods, “Yeah, absolutely, I can stay.”

“Great,” Sonny’s smile grows even bigger, then she points to the left of the bleachers, “Those doors over there lead into the hallway with the locker rooms in it. Meet me there in twenty minutes?”

Lindsey nods again, and then Sonny’s letting go of her hand and backing away, heading towards the doors she just pointed out to Lindsey. 

“Oh so is this how it’s going to be now?” Kelley asks with sarcastic hurt in her tone, “you’re just going to constantly ditch us for your super hot, athletic, baller girlfriend?”

Lindsey laughs, “Once again, I’m not actually dating her, but it kind of seems like you want to be.”

Kelley looks affronted, “Horan, I will remind you that I have a girlfriend and don’t need to steal girls from you.” 

Somehow, once again, Alex saves her from having to figure out anything else to say to a very stubborn Kelley. “Hey! Kel! Are y’all coming? The Alex-mobile will be leaving shortly!” She’s standing on the far side of the bleachers by the exit looking rather impatient.

Kelley and Mal both give their well-wishes to Lindsey and then plod over to Alex muttering “Yes, mom,” under their breath, while Lindsey stays right where she is and waves to the tall brunette.

“I’m staying here, I’ll figure out my own way home. Gotta talk to…” She doesn’t actually finish the sentence, just points in the general direction of the locker rooms with a slightly guilty but still very satisfied look on her face.

Alex sends her a thumbs up and pulls her carpool group out the door while Kelley yells over her shoulder, “Use protection!” and then, finally, Lindsey is alone.

 

-

 

Lindsey’s waiting in the designated hallway when Sonny comes out of the locker room, freshly showered and looking very soft and very attractive, with her wet hair falling down peicily onto her shoulders and a clean set of warm-ups on. Lindsey finds herself biting at her bottom lip longingly as she watches Sonny walk up to her.

“Hey,” says the shorter blonde as she drops the gym bag she’s carrying on her shoulder right by Lindsey’s feet. She’s standing very close to Lindsey—maybe only about a foot away—and has this stupidly attractive and confident smirk on her face that makes Lindsey want to grab the sides of her face and haul her in for a kiss just to throw Sonny off balance. (She doesn’t.)

“Hey, yourself,” Lindsey says instead, daring herself to look directly into Sonny’s eyes for a moment before diverting her gaze to her feet, and then flicking her eyes back up to gaze at the girl across from her under her lashes.

Sonny’s hand reaches across the empty space between them and finds the inside of Lindsey’s wrist, her fingernails skimming over the sensitive skin there lightly, “Again, I’m really happy you came.”

Lindsey closes her eyes and swallows, willing herself to maintain control. She’s not sure how such a small touch in such an innocent spot can set all her nerves on fire like this. “Again, I’m sorry the girls were so obnoxious, but I’m glad I came too.”

Sonny smiles up at her, fingers still grazing her wrist, “Hey, so I thought this Sunday we could go for a hike? There's this trail I’ve really been wanting to check out, but I’m not going to tell you what it is, I really want that to be a surprise.” Her eyes sparkle excitedly as she tells Lindsey about the plans she’s made. “I’ll pack us a picnic and we can eat when we get up to the top.”

“Sounds great,” says Lindsey, biting at her lower lip again to keep herself from saying what she really wants to say, which is something more along the lines of, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have sex in the woods. ” ( Ugh! We haven’t even kissed yet! Way to jump the gun there, Linds, she thinks to herself.)

There’s a beat of silence, where Lindsey’s not sure who’s going to talk next and what they’re going to say, but then it surprisingly ends up being her. “Can I just say, that, getting to see you in a basketball uniform was just really something else. A good something else. You looked… you looked very good.” By the time she finishes talking, her cheeks have colored a bright pink, and Sonny’s eyes have widened as if she’s just a little overwhelmed. 

“That’s absolutely something you can say,” Sonny’s voice comes out a little breathy, “and thank you.” Then she lets out a little laugh that lets Lindsey know she’s not being all that serious when she says, “I was beginning to worry the only thing you liked about me was that I had tattoos!”

Lindsey quirks up an eyebrow. “You have multiple?”

The confident smirk has returned to Sonny’s face now. “Yeah, but I won’t tell you where they are. I think I’ll let you find them for yourself.” 

Lindsey draws in a long inhale through her nose as her gaze drifts up to the ceiling, trying to center herself. With her exhale, she also breathes out the word “wow,” and then she sharply lets her head drop back down so she’s again looking Sonny in her blue-grey eyes. “Yeah, okay, I’m up for that challenge.” She nods a couple times, biting her lips together to try not to smile, but she can’t help it—this is all so absurd! This is happening! To her! Right now! Some girl is insinuating very close, personal contact, if not just straight up sex with her. With her! —she breaks out into a fit of giggles.

“What?” Sonny asks through a little smile. 

“I just—,” Lindsey looks down and her hands wring together nervously, trying to figure out what they should be doing. It just seems like she’s so close to Sonny, it would be a waste not to reach out and touch her. She finally decides on a course of action, and she reaches out to take the ends of the zipper on Sonny’s warm-up jacket. “This is so ridiculous, like, being here with you,” she rubs at the fabric of the shorter blonde’s jacket, “doesn’t seem real.”

Sonny moves her own hand down to Lindsey’s and strokes her thumb along her wrist. “Well, it is real.” She gives the taller girl a contented half-smile. “Honestly, all of this is new for me too, so I’m having some trouble believing it myself.”

Lindsey softens at that. And, God, so wants to kiss Sonny so badly. So badly. And she thinks about doing it, she really does, as she stands there with their hands interlocked, staring into that grey-blue intensity—waiting for Sonny to give her a sign, or lean in, or something—but she ends up taking too long. 

The visitors' locker room door busts open and the whole team starts filing out towards their bus, ready to go back to their hotel. 

So instead she just squeezes Sonny’s hand and says something along the lines of, “see you on Sunday,” before she’s out of the hallway and back towards the soccer house. 

 

-

 

9:49pm

The Great Horan: I need you to come over

like now

Meow: okay? I just got dinner delivered

The Great Horan: you can bring it

I need to talk to you about something and it needs to be in person

 

-

 

10:02pm

sonny: hey I realized I didn’t give a solid plan for Sunday

Maybe meet at my place around 7 and I’ll drive us out there

I’m at 145 S Oak Street

lindsey: like 7am? 

That’s so early

sonny: hey, it’s a bit of a drive and I want as much time to hike as possible

I can take you out to breakfast first

If that would make up for it 😊

 

Before Lindsey can think up a cute response to Sonny, the front door is opening and Mal is bursting into the living room, a bag of Chinese takeout in her hand and a worried expression on her face. 

“Linds, what’s up? Did something happen?”

“No! That’s the problem!”

Mal gives her a funny look. “Okay, I know Russel was horrible relationship precedent, but I didn’t think you were out here, like, expecting bad things to happen—”

Lindsey holds a hand up to stop Mal from continuing, “No, no, that’s not what I meant. I meant, I thought she was gonna kiss me. Or I was going to kiss her. I’m honestly not quite sure which. And so I was standing there waiting for it to happen, but then it just, like, didn’t happen.”

“But you wanted it to happen?” Mal points a finger at Lindsey questioningly. 

The blonde’s eyebrows knit together, “Well, yeah,”she says as if it’s obvious, “But then the entire visiting team came out of their locker room right behind us and that really kind of ruined the moment.”

Mal thinks for a second, and then her eyes go bright with an idea, “You should create another moment then!”

“...Like right now?” Lindsey looks at her friend like she’s a bit absurd. 

“I mean, I wasn’t thinking right now, but you seem to be thinking right now. Would you want it to happen right now?”

The blonde looks a little like a deer caught in the headlights as she weighs her options for a while, before she shrugs and then bites at her lip, muttering nervously, “Kinda, yeah, I would really like it to happen right now…”

“Okay, great,” Mal says stirringly, “let's text her, ask her to meet up or something, and maybe, grab, I don’t know, ice cream or something.”

“Ice cream? What does that have to do with anything?”

Mal shrugs, “Ugh, I don’t know, I’m just trying to think of things you could do on short notice that could create a romantic moment.” She pauses as she takes Lindsey’s hands in her own, becoming serious, “But whatever you do, Linds, you’re going to have to make the first move. It really seems like Sonny’s trying to go at your pace here.”

Lindsey considers that for a moment, “You think I should make the first move?”

“Oh my gosh Lindsey, yes.” The shorter girl drops Lindsey’s hands in favor of gesturing all over the place passionately. 

Lindsey purses her lips thoughtfully, “Okay... No ice cream, though. I have a better idea.”

 

-

 

Lindsey can’t believe she’s doing this. More specifically, she can’t believe that she, Lindsey Michelle Horan, is doing this. 

It’s getting very late and it’s dark and chilly outside, and Lindsey is making a pretty big assumption that Sonny is even still awake right now. But she’s still doing this. And she’s not going to chicken out. 

She finally finds the house she’s been looking for, the address Sonny texted her a little over an hour ago, and she takes a deep, steadying breath before walking up the steps on the front porch and knocking on the door. 

Sam answers. “Oh!” She looks puzzled as to why Lindsey is standing at the door, even going so far as to check her watch to see if it’s actually an acceptable hour for someone to be knocking on their front door. Lindsey’s not sure what answer she comes up with, but Sam at least ends up greeting her, “Lindsey, right? What’s up?”

“I need to talk to Sonny.” It’s not a question. Lindsey’s not chickening out. 

Sam’s eyebrows raise just slightly, but she ends up turning towards the inside of the house, shouting up the stairs, “Son, can you come down here? There’s someone here to see you.”

Lindsey hears a door open and footsteps making their way down stairs, and then that very familiar voice is just a few feet away, not yet around the corner enough to know it’s Lindsey standing at the door. “What’s up, Sammy?”

Sam, still holding the door open with one hand, uses her other hand to gesture outside to Lindsey, and finally, Sonny appears in the doorway, her face quickly morphing from confused to surprised to happy when she sees the blonde standing out on the porch. “Thanks, Sam, I’ve got it from here.” Sam leaves her post at the door and disappears up the staircase as Sonny takes over the job of holding the door open. 

“Hey, Linds,” all her facial features soften as she greets the taller girl, “is everything alright? You wanna come in?”

( She’s doing this! She’s not chickening out.)

She doesn’t answer Sonny. Instead, she’s grabbing a fist-full of Sonny’s hoodie in each hand and pulling her out into the chilly night air, letting the door slam closed as Lindsey backs her against the outside wall of the house. Sonny looks shocked at this new turn of events, her breathing turning heavy as Lindsey’s hands settle on her hips, pressing her thumbs in just above the hip bone to keep her up against the wall. 

“If you don’t want me to kiss you, right now would be the time to say it,” Lindsey’s voice is thick as it comes out, her tone barely above a whisper ( she can’t believe she’s actually doing this) .

Sonny swallows. “I have no objections,” she rasps.

That’s all Lindsey needs. She closes the two inches or so left between their bodies and firmly presses her lips to Sonny’s. She’s instantly flooded with emotion—an overwhelming feeling of bliss, like the last piece of a 1000 piece puzzle finally clicking into place.

Lindsey pulls away shyly after just one, relatively short kiss. Sonny takes a moment to open her eyes, but when she does, Lindsey finds that they’re dark and hungry, seemingly ready for more. There’s a moment where they just look at each other, Sonny biting at her lower lip and Lindsey massaging her thumbs against Sonny’s hip bones. 

But then that moment is over, and they’re kissing again. 

This time, it’s Sonny who leans in for the kiss, wrapping her arms around Lindsey’s neck and pulling the taller girl’s body flush to hers. The second time is even better than the first, as Sonny takes more control of the kiss, pushing the tempo just a little bit and then lightly biting at Lindsey’s bottom lip. Lindsey decides that that’s enough to make her want to open her mouth into the kiss, so she does, and soon Sonny’s tongue is licking up into her mouth, deepening the kiss and slowing it down so Lindsey has more time to enjoy it. It all feels better than she could’ve imagined. 

While they’re still kissing, Sonny’s hands trail down Lindsey’s neck and eventually find their way to rest on her shoulders. “You know, I really wasn’t kidding when I told you how much I like your shoulders,” Sonny whispers against her lips as her hands skate across Lindsey’s broad shoulders and then down her arms, until they find Lindsey’s hands to interlace their fingers together. 

Lindsey squeezes Sonny’s hands and then leans forward to press one more chaste kiss into her lips, which Sonny turns into two, three, four kisses, and then she pulls away, smiling. 

“So you really walked all the way over here, this late at night, just to do that?” Sonny’s tone is light and teasing.

Lindsey’s face splits into an amused grin, “No, I actually came over to tell Sam she played really well in the game tonight.”

Sonny smacks her arm playfully, “Rude!” she feigns offense, “Don’t lie to me.”

So Lindsey doesn’t. “Yeah. I really came all the way over here just to do that.”

The shorter blonde looks very satisfied with that answer, settling against the wall with a smug look on her face. “Kiss me again.”

And really, who is Lindsey to deny her?

Chapter Text

Sonny -  A Painting

 

Blue

It’s still a little dark outside when Sonny wakes up, the sky still a murky shade of midnight and the morning light coming through the windows isn’t yet yellow but rather a glowing grey-blue. She heads into the kitchen and sees the remnants of Rose and Sam’s late night shenanigans on the island, empty bottles of Blue Moon and a deck of cards as evidence of what happened after Sonny went to bed last night. 

She did most of the prep work yesterday afternoon, but there are still a few things left to do in order to get the picnic ready for lunch. The tomato and mozzarella skewers are already ready, as are the sliced veggies with hummus, and the fresh blueberries she got at the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning. The sandwiches are still left to make.

She puts the pieces of bread in the oven to toast and slices the avocado and the tomato while she waits. When the toast is ready, she layers one piece of bread with slices of turkey, swiss cheese, and the avocado; the other she layers with slices of ham, cheese, and tomato. She decides against putting mayo or mayonnaise directly on the sandwiches, and instead just packs them with a knife so they can be added later. She doesn’t know what Lindsey likes.

The sandwiches are then cut in half (in triangles, of course) and placed in another tupperware. Sonny has to dig in the cabinet for a lid, but she finally finds the light blue piece of plastic that fits over the container. 

Everything is placed in her hiking backpack with a couple napkins and some silverware, her water bottle is filled up with the Brita in the fridge, and then everything is transported out to the trunk of her Ford. 

She checks her watch, where the electronic numbers 6:47 are glowing back at her, and she has just enough time to wash her face, brush her teeth, and change into hiking clothes before Lindsey shows up. She decides on the leggings she knows make her butt look the best, a navy blue tank top, and a grey zip-up hoodie, because it’s a little chilly now but she can easily take it off when she inevitably gets warm towards midday. 

A soft knock on the front door lets her know that Lindsey’a here, and she opens it to find her looking soft and still sleepy, wrapped in an old USA Soccer sweatshirt as she stands on Sonny’s front porch, clutching her own backpack and water bottle against her chest like a safety blanket. 

Sonny remarks that her arrival was perfect timing, as she had just finished getting ready, and then starts to pull Lindsey by the arm out towards her car, but Lindsey doesn’t follow and instead tugs Sonny back in towards her, pressing a soft kiss to her lips, and then muttering a good morning as the shorter blonde stares dazedly up at her. 

On their way to breakfast, Sonny reaches across the console to place her hand on Lindsey’s knee as she drives to a little cafe downtown that opens early to feed its customers breakfast sandwiches and coffee in pretty turquoise to-go cups.


Sonny notices that Lindsey’s watching her from over the lid of her coffee cup as she drives, and her grey-blue eyes have to fight to stay fixed on the road ahead as they head out of Portland on Highway 26.

They spend the time in the car talking about their families, their childhoods, their friends, their shared love of spending summer days on the lake. They sing along to music and Lindsey makes fun of Sonny for how much country music she has on her playlists, but then Sonny plays her a specific song about a girl with green eyes and blonde hair and she’s acting shy as she side-eyes Lindsey from the driver’s seat and Lindsey thinks maybe country music isn’t so bad after all. 

 

-

 

Green

 

An hour and a half later, Sonny finally pulls into a parking area surrounded by trees, shooting up towards the sky like leafy rockets. The air outside is crisp and pine-y, Sonny notices as she pulls her backpack out of the trunk. 

Lindsey chuckles a little when Sonny tells her they’re hiking Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain and tries to make some joke about not knowing that was something Sonny liked, but Sonny kisses her before she can finish the joke and then pulls away asking, you were saying? And Lindsey can’t do much more than chase after her lips and steal another kiss before they embark on the hiking path.

They’re not walking very long before they come to a bridge over a greeny-blue creek, and it’s a well built bridge, but Sonny grabs Lindsey’s hand as if it’s support needed to cross. She doesn’t let go when they make it to the other side.

Sonny tells stories about how much she loved to climb trees when she was growing up, usually with the boys in the neighborhood rather than the girls, and how there was the perfect climbing tree down by an old junkyard that a bunch of them frequented and called “Dragon’s Lair.”

Lindsey tells stories about how she once climbed a tree because her older brother dared her to, and she was perfectly fine until she got to the top and had to think about coming back down. Only then did she realize how far up she was and how scared she was of falling, and they had to call in the fire department in the end to help get her down. 

They get to an area where the woods start to densify, and Sonny tugs at Lindsey’s hand to get her attention, and then she points upwards. She explains to Lindsey her admiration for the view up above in the forest, how perfectly the light filters through the tree branches to create a piece of abstract art out in the wild. (Lindsey spends about fifteen seconds looking up with Sonny and then the rest of the time looking at Sonny, watching the gleam in her eyes as she spins around slowly with her head tilted back, looking at the interplay of the branches and the light from all angles.)

Sonny knows there’s still about two and a half more hours until the top, so she entertains Lindsey by asking the most random Would You Rather? questions, and then eventually talks her into playing Two Truths and a Lie. Among other things, these reveal that Lindsey once got her shoelace stuck in an escalator on her family’s vacation to Paris, has watched the entirety of The Office three times, and absolutely hates cats. They reveal that Sonny loves few things in this world more than Waffle House, hates talking to strangers on the phone, and has a plant named Isabella that she’s using as a stand-in for the dog she can’t have until after college. 

The overhead branches thin out as they get closer to the top, and Sonny starts to catch glimpses of the view they’ll eventually be able to see in full—the expansive view of the mountains unravelling before them piece by piece with every step they take. Sonny pulls Lindsey off the path and pushes a few branches out of the way for a peek at the landscape, but stays off the path for a kiss, and then another, and then she’s tangling her fingers in the hair at the nape of Linsdey’s neck, absolutely wrecking her ponytail, as Lindsey’s fingers spread out across her lower back and then settle at Sonny’s waist to pull the shorter girl into her even closer. Sonny doesn’t think she’ll ever get used to how much space on her body Lindsey’s hands take up—she could get lost in the sensation of those hands on her body. And she’s almost completely gone, lost in this moment with Lindsey’s lips pressed against hers, when the voices of another pack of hikers floats over them and they break apart giggling, trying to arrange their bodies in some sort of position that doesn’t make it look like they were just making out as the group passes on the path beside them.

When the other group is far enough ahead, they get back on the path and eventually come to a very narrow and steep portion of the trail, the last climb before they finally reach the summit, and Sonny knows she wore these leggings for a reason as she positions herself in front of Lindsey to start the uphill trek. She’s pretty sure she isn’t imagining the sensation of Lindsey’s green eyes tracing the outline of her body from behind her. (And she’s not—behind her, Lindsey is wondering why she didn’t let her hands wander down from Sonny’s waist to her ass, why she didn’t seize the moment when it presented itself just a short while ago.)

 

-

 

Yellow

 

Once they finally reach the top of the hike, the tree-covered Mt. Hood greets them, rising into the horizon from across Silver Lake, now sparkling with sunlight below them. Sonny watches as Lindsey takes in the view before them, her eyes glinting with wonder and her jaw dropping just a little. Sonny knows that every Lindsey is beautiful, but this particular Lindsey is especially beautiful, so filled with a childlike joy of seeing and experiencing something she never has before.

She can’t help but pull out her phone to take a couple pictures of the view, especially because the way the light is casting across Mt. Hood would make a great study in highlights and shading, if she ever wanted to draw it. Then she suggests to Lindsey some photos of both of them with the view in the background, which she happily agrees to, and Sonny holds her arm out in front of her for a selfie. 

Once the view has been sufficiently documented through photography, Sonny begins to search for the perfect spot to set up their picnic, and finds it on top of a large, flat rock. She begins to pull out everything she packed and prepared earlier that morning—the caprese skewers, the veggies and hummus, the fruit, the sandwiches—and lays out one of the mustard yellow napkins to arrange the food on. 

When Lindsey joins her on the rock, she acts surprised, like she didn’t think Sonny was actually going to pack a picnic, and compliments her on how nice everything looks. Sonny chuckles as she thanks Lindsey for the compliment and then tells her to dig in, grabbing a couple sandwich triangles and a skewer for herself.

Their picnic is doused in a comfortable silence, because they’ve already been talking so much today, and right now there’s food and a view to enjoy, so for the moment, their conversation takes a bit of a backseat. Their hands perform a sort of choreographed dance as they reach across the blanket for food, sometimes crossing paths with a light brush, sometimes traveling in completely opposite directions. Sonny can’t help but notice where she is in relation to Lindsey at all times, how even the smallest pieces of them are interacting always, not just physically but emotionally. How even the smallest crevices in her mind are now filled with the color of Lindsey’s eyes and the sound of Lindsey’s laugh and the brightness of Lindsey’s smile. She’s choreographed her life around Lindsey now.

There’s a beam of light that’s coming through the branches of the trees above them that’s hitting Lindsey’s face just perfectly, making her hair glow almost golden and her eyes shine even as they squint a little into the light. Sonny finds herself entranced by this, as if it were a particularly well-executed painting in a museum. 

She loves Impressionist art, how it works with light and the different ways to portray it, and how the colors blend into each other even though they’re made from distinct strokes. She thinks this moment right now would make the perfect painting, drawing inspiration from the pointillism of Seurat and the delicate light depiction of Monet and the exceptional color work of Renoir.


She also thinks that this moment could never be perfectly captured by a painting, and that Lindsey in real life is so much better than any artwork, anyways. 

They finish their picnic and pack up the leftovers, and Sonny pulls Lindsey up off the ground by the hands and then keeps pulling her until they’re only a couple inches apart and she can just tilt her head up to steal a quick kiss from the taller girl before they start their hike back down.

 

-

 

Orange

 

By the time they reach the car, the sun is starting to paint the sky in streaks of orange and pink as it sinks down below the horizon. Sonny stops at the edge of the trail and takes a couple pictures of the view  and a video of Lindsey enjoying the sunset, and it’s almost a cinematic moment when Lindsey turns around towards her while she’s filming with the most content little smile on her face. It morphs into bewilderment when Sonny declares that the sunset’s almost as pretty as Lindsey. It seems as though Lindsey still has not learned how to accept compliments. 

Sonny knows the sunset’s not going to last much longer, so instead of getting in the car to leave, she places her backpack in the trunk and then swings herself up onto the hood of her car. She motions for Lindsey to come and join her up there, and leans her head on the taller girl’s shoulder when she does. The intimacy of the moment warms like glowing embers in Sonny’s chest, only increasing in size as Lindsey rests her own head against Sonny’s.

They watch as the sky paints itself dusty blue and the light behind the clouds darkens into a deep ochre, Lindsey’s thumb soothing the inside of her knee. Sonny likes the feeling of comfortable casualty they seemed to have garnered throughout the day, all the time they’ve spent together manifesting in this moment. 

She’s aware that when Lindsey first met her, she was nervous, and Sonny’s sure it had something to do with Lindsey’s timid personality and possibly a little something to do with having a crush—she’s not oblivious. But today has felt so far removed from that first handshake at the front of the art history classroom. 

It’s also so far removed from what she’s been doing for the last few years, and the newness is enough to suck the air out of her lungs on occasion. Like right now, as Lindsey’s fingers trace the inside seam of her leggings and her head turns to kiss Sonny’s temple by her hairline, and the quiet intimacy of the moment stops her breathing for a second. It’s a new feeling for her, but not one she dislikes—in fact, she quite likes how much it floors her that a relationship with Lindsey is something that’s possible for her. A relationship with a girl—a girl she’s attracted to—is possible for her, and something she’s comfortable with having. 

She’s pulled out of her thoughts when she feels Lindsey yawn against her head, and she realizes then that the sun has mostly sunk below the horizon now—only a few strokes of orange left painting the sky. Interlacing her fingers with Lindsey’s hand still on her knee, Sonny pulls away from Lindsey’s shoulder and asks her if she’s ready to go home. 

Then, Sonny hops off the hood of the car and climbs back into the driver’s seat as Lindsey mirrors her on the passenger side. She hands Lindsey the aux and tells her to DJ—and that she better make it good— and Lindsey salutes to her in a sarcastic gesture of understanding, and then proceeds to start their drive with Jojo Siwa’s Boomerang, and, while Jojo is now a gay icon, Sonny will not stand for that noise in her car. At her shrieks of indiscretion, Lindsey laughs and changes over to her favorite chill rap playlist and smiles genuinely when Sonny tells her how much better it is. 

 

-

 

Red

 

Another hour and a half later, they’re pulling back up to campus, and Sonny realizes that she has no idea what’s happening next. She wants to keep hanging out with Lindsey, honestly, but she’s probably supposed to drop Lindsey off at her house and kiss her goodnight on the front porch and refuse to be invited in. She’s overall still very unsure of how regular-people dating works. 

She decides the grown up thing to do would just be to ask, even if that feels awkward at this moment—disrupting the comfortable quiet as Lindsey munches on the Five Guys fries they picked up to-go on the way home and Sonny periodically reaches blindly across the console to steal a few. 

Sonny clears her throat and then asks the question, and Lindsey’s answer isn’t quite what she wants but exactly what she expected, so ten minutes later, she’s pulling up to the soccer house and then walking beside Lindsey up to the dark-red front door. 

Upon reaching the door, Sonny turns to the taller blonde and tells her what a lovely time she had today, and then Lindsey leans in and kisses her softly before vocalizing her agreement. They stand there smiling at each other for a second—Sonny swears her heart eyes for the woman in front of her have to be so visible in that moment, have to be radiating out of her pupils like they do in cartoons—before they’re saying goodnight and Sonny’s leaning up to place a gentle kiss on Lindsey’s cheek. 

It feels a little like an emptiness has opened up inside of her as she walks back to her car without Lindsey, and she drives home without turning any music on, something she’s pretty sure she’s never done before. For some reason, it just feels wrong to try to distract herself from missing Lindsey already, she just wants to sit in this hollowness for a little bit, knowing it’s only there because she’s actually letting herself fall for someone again. 

It doesn’t last for long, because the moment she walks into her own house, Rose is sitting at the kitchen table with her hands folded and her knees crossed and her eyes expectant, waiting for Sonny to come home and divulge the details of the day. Sonny rolls her eyes when Rose demands to know everything, but she does want to tell Rose what happened, even though she’s very aware that Rose will make fun of her for how mushy she is about Lindsey. 

So she grabs a beer from the fridge and sits down across from her housemate, detailing everything that happened from the breakfast run in the morning to the off-trail kiss on the way up to the picnic at the top to watching the sunset on the car  to dropping Lindsey off at her place just a moment ago. Rose listens—surprising with very little interrupting—and then, when Sonny’s wrapped up the story, she says,

“So when are you going to tell Lindsey you’re in love with her?”

Sonny balks at that and stammers out some sort of defense about we’re not even dating yet, and Rose just looks at her like she’s being ridiculous until Sonny admits defeat because it’s very true that she’s falling dangerously closer to love with every day that passes. 

 

-

 

Purple

 

Later, when Sonny’s showered and gotten ready for bed, she cozies up underneath her lilac bedspread and lets the day play out in her head like a movie. 

There are a lot of things that Sonny enjoyed about today.

She really enjoyed talking to Lindsey for almost twelve hours about anything and everything, illustrating their childhoods, their families, their likes and dislikes to each other with vivid stories that they’ve never had time to tell before. With every new thing she learned about Lindsey, she continued falling for her. Even if she disagreed on some things, such as if pineapple belongs on pizza (it does) or if TacoBell is the ultimate late-night place to eat (it’s definitely Waffle House, but she can’t fault Lindsey for having never been), those aren’t the things that really matter to her in a relationship.

She really enjoyed being alone with Lindsey, having ample opportunities to tell her how beautiful she is without anyone there to interrupt or overhear. Not that she would mind someone overhearing—she would love to tell everyone how beautiful Lindsey is—but she thinks that right now, in this delicate situation they’re in of not fully knowing each other yet and how they’ll function in a relationship together, she wants that to just be between the two of them. And being alone with her also allowed Sonny to pull her in for a hug, or a kiss, or a cuddle whenever she wanted, and there was no shortage of that on their hike today. 

She really enjoyed holding Lindsey’s hand for most of the hike, because Lindsey’s hand fit perfectly around hers as if they were always meant to thread their fingers together to create the first stitches in the fabric of their time together. Sonny never wanted to let go, even when their palms got a little sweaty in the heat of the day and their fingers started to slip apart from each other. 

She really enjoys that now she has photos of the two of them together, a few selfies and a couple they took on self timer (and that one video of Lindsey in front of the sunset that she watches back with a reverence for the beauty of nature and also the beauty of women). As Sonny settles back into her bed she flips through the photos—the series they took right when they reached the top, with the view in the background, and then the two of them doing silly poses as if this was an album cover, and another series Sonny took on their walk back down, right before she ran out of good lighting: one of both of them smiling at the camera, one where Sonny’s leaned in to kiss Lindsey’s cheek, and the perfect moment after where Lindsey’s head turns just slightly towards Sonny as if she’s leaning in to the kiss, with her eyes squinting adorably as her mouth opens in laughter. 

She wants to live in that moment forever. She remembers how, even though Lindsey was a little sweaty, she still smelled of lavender shampoo. She remembers how Lindsey’s laugh sounded bright in the quiet dampness of the forest. She remembers how right after that last photo was taken, Lindsey had wrapped her arms around Sonny’s waist and kissed her for real, rendering the arm that had just a moment ago been holding her phone in the perfect position to take the photo now useless by her side. 

Most of all, she remembers how completely content she was in that moment. More content than she’d been for a while. More content than she ever was with any girl in her revolving door of hookups from the past two years, more content than she had been in the secret moments stolen with Katie, with the unspoken understanding that they wouldn’t share their relationship with anyone else.

But this? This she could share. And after asking Lindsey which of the three selfies was her favorite so she could put it on her Instagram story (she picks the third one, which is good because that’s Sonny’s favorite too), she clicks on that purply-pink icon on her home page and adds it to her story with the location tagged, Lindsey tagged, and a cute GIF of a dancing tree (she thinks about adding a heart emoji, but she thinks that might be too much too soon. She doesn’t want to scare Lindsey away before they’ve actually even started anything).

(She definitely feels the heart though, and she curses Rose for bringing that thought to the forefront of her mind.)

Chapter Text

9:21am

@russel_finche so what are you, like a lesbian now?

That’s a good one, Linds

After things were so good between us? It’ll never be the same with a woman ha

 

For the life of her, Lindsey cannot believe that she’s actually seeing this on her screen right now.

It was bad enough when she had woken up that morning, still basking in the warmth and happiness yesterday had brought her, and the first thing she had seen when she unlocked her phone was Russel’s snide response to her Instagram story—a repost of Sonny’s story with a little comment at the bottom where Lindsey added Hiking with you is fun :) . He seriously had the nerve to pop up in her DM’s after two years of silence and pretend that he was the best thing that happened in Lindsey’s life?

But then, she had gone to her Art History lecture, and as she stared at the back of Sonny’s neck again, she couldn’t help but think a little harder about it. And what got to her wasn’t what he said exactly, but rather what he had implied, which she had almost forgotten about, because she had simply been caught up in feeling happy. Which is that eventually, sex was going to be part of her relationship with Sonny, and Lindsey didn’t know the first thing about actually having sex with girls. And Sonny very obviously did.

So now, Lindsey’s sitting petrified in her auditorium chair with about 20 minutes left in class and a countless number of questions circling on a loop in her brain: What if I can’t do it right? What if I’m not good enough for her? What if I can’t actually make her come? What if she gets bored with me because I’m too vanilla? She’s definitely not vanilla. She has a fucking neck tattoo for Christ’s sake! What if I can’t live up to her expectations? 

She’s snapped out of it when she hears the commotion of all her classmates packing up and standing to leave, and so she belatedly starts to do the same thing. This, unfortunately for her, means that she’s one of the last people out of the lecture hall, which means that Sonny has plenty of time to find her in the commotion and place herself directly in Lindsey’s exit path.

“Hi,” Sonny greets her with a giddy smile, and it’s awfully cute, but Lindsey’s a little stuck in this minor sex-crisis right now and doesn’t really have space in her brain to think about that. 

She swallows and wills her voice to come out in some rendition of normal, “Hey.” She thinks she’s decently successful.

“Tutoring tomorrow?” Lindsey watches the smile lines deepen on the sides of Sonny’s mouth as she asks that question.

“Um, yeah, um...” It suddenly feels like all the jitters from her first day meeting Sonny are back with a vengeance. Now that she’s thought about being bad at sex, she absolutely cannot stop thinking about it. And right now, with the very attractive girl that she could actually have sex with standing in front of her and looking up at her expectantly, the nerves that are fluttering in her stomach are coming dangerously close to making Lindsey want to flee this situation and never look back, never talk to Sonny again. But that’s not what she actually wants, so she swallows and focuses very hard on the words coming out of her mouth, “Tutoring tomorrow is good. 1:30?”

Sonny takes a small step closer. “Yeah, 1:30.” Then she lowers her voice to a whisper, “What are you doing tonight?”

Lindsey needs to get out of here. She needs to get away from that husky whisper and those sparkling eyes and that sloppy bun and flee far enough away that she does not have to spend any alone-time that might lead to sex-time with the girl that has all of these things. “I have a big project due tomorrow!” she blurts (she doesn’t), “and a team lift that goes kinda late tonight. And,” she looks at her watch tactically, “I have a class in ten minutes I need to get to.”

She watches Sonny’s face fall a little bit as she says, “Okay. I’ll just see you tomorrow then.”

And then Lindsey’s booking it out of there, even though what she really wants to do is bend down and kiss that frown off Sonny’s face.

 

-

 

When she gets home two hours later, Lindsey isn’t feeling much better. Her trigonometry class had distracted her for a little bit, but then the professor had started going over something she mostly already knew, so she no longer felt the need to stay fully tuned in. 

Needless to say, math was not what she found herself thinking about. 

She finds Kelley making a smoothie in the kitchen, standing at the kitchen island in nothing but a sports bra, her hair still damp from a shower.

“Kel, I’m having a crisis!” Lindsey has to yell to be heard over the sound of the blender. 

Kelley clicks at a button on the base and the blender turns off. “You’re having a what?”

“A crisis.”

Kelley frowns. “Care to elaborate?” 

“I don’t know how to have sex with Sonny.” Lindsey sighs with exasperation and taps her fingernails on the kitchen counter anxiously. 

“Oh, is that, like, happening?” Kelley seems to have decided that this conversation is going to take a while and she won’t be able to continue blending her smoothie, so she’s carefully inspecting the consistency to see if she can just drink it now. 

“No…” Lindsey watches as Kelley stops her inspection to look up at Lindsey with raised, questioning eyebrows. “Well, not yet. But I would like it to.”

Kelley nods—Lindsey’s not sure if it’s at her or at her smoothie—and then says, “So, are y’all dating now? Is that why you’re thinking about this?” She grabs a glass from the cabinet and starts pouring her smoothie into it. 

“No…” Lindsey groans, “I’m thinking about this because Russel DM’d me something about ‘being a lesbian now’ and how straight sex is better than lesbian sex or something like that and now I’m thinking about lesbian sex and the fact that I’ve never done it and therefore, I don’t know how to do it.”

There’s a pitying look on Kelley’s face as she says, “You don’t believe that, right? About straight sex?”

“What? That it’s better than lesbian sex?” Lindsey’s expression knits into incredulity, “No! But I still don’t know how to do it even though I want to.”

Kelley clunks the smoothie glass down on the counter after taking a sip, “Linds, hon, you didn’t know how to have straight sex the first time either. And,” she walks around the counter so she’s right next to Lindsey, looking up at her comfortingly, “I really don’t think it’s going to be as big of a deal as you’re making it out to be.”

“But—“

Kelley holds her hand out in a halting position to stop Lindsey’s thought in its tracks, “Ah, you wanna know a secret?” Lindsey nods slowly. “The only thing that will make you bad at sex is if you don’t communicate with her during sex. Ask her what she likes, how she’s feeling, what she wants, what you can do to make it better for her.”

Lindsey blinks, “But isn’t that awkward? Shouldn’t I just, like, know that stuff?”

“Oh, my god, Lindsey,” Kelley huffs out a laugh, “Not at all! It can actually be really sexy in and of itself—asking her how she feels. Here,” Kelley turns to face Lindsey, “let’s practice.”

“Huh? Kel, what? No!” Lindsey raises her hands in contention.

The brunette pulls at Lindsey’s arm to get her turned inward, and then lowers her voice to a bit of a sultry whisper, “Tell me what you like, babe, wanna make you feel good.” Her voice returns to her normal tone then as she says, “Now you try.”

Lindsey flushes a deep red as her eyes go wide, shaking her head desperately to get out of this situation. “No, absolutely not. I am not doing this with you.”

“Does this feel good?” Kelley’s voice has returned to that low tone as she leans into Lindsey’s space, clearly undeterred by Lindsey’s protests, “How can I make you come?”

The blonde can feel the blush traveling down her neck at an alarming speed as Kelley continues, “Kel!” Lindsey shrieks “Oh, my god!” 

“What, Linds? Look,” Kelley leaves Lindsey’s side as she walks back to get her smoothie and take a sip, “if you’re down for sex, and she’s down for sex, and you communicate about sex as it’s happening, there really shouldn’t be any issues. And—” Kelley takes another sip, “it’ll help that she’s head over heels for you. She probably can’t wait to get her hands on you and won’t even care if the first time is a little awkward. Plenty of first times are. Hell, she might even be nervous too. I would be, if I were having sex with the Lindsey Horan.”

“You think she’s head over heels for me?” Lindsey’s brain feels stuck on those words. She knows there’s mutual attraction, she’s figured that much out by now, but Sonny still seems very calm, cool, and collected—not exactly what Lindsey thinks of as ‘head over heels’.

But then again, Lindsey’s pretty sure she’s head over heels for Sonny and she managed to not make a complete fool of herself yesterday. So she guesses maybe Kelley has a point. 

Kelley’s looking with disbelief at Lindsey as she thinks, “Linds, the girl literally asked you on the longest date activity possible. You spent more than twelve hours with her yesterday! She absolutely wouldn’t have done that if she didn’t want to spend time with you.”

The blonde’s still very lost in thought, her eyes almost glazed over in a pensive trance, and suddenly a new question comes to her mind— “Should I ask her to be my girlfriend?”

Kelley takes another sip of the smoothie before answering, “Is that what you want?”

“Yeah,” the answer is clear and simple in Lindsey’s head, and it comes out without her ever really having to think about it. 

Kelley clucks her tongue once. “Okay, well then there’s your answer.” She then downs the rest of her smoothie and puts the glass in the dishwasher, “and, that’ll probably make you less nervous about the sex. Just because then you know you’re in it together. And you’ll probably trust her just a little bit more.”

Lindsey nods her head in concession. “Yeah. Okay, yeah,” she resolves.

“Linds, everything’s going to be fine. And if you do want to practice your dirty talk, I’m always here.” Kelley smirks as she leaves the kitchen, and Lindsey sighs in annoyance as she walks away. 

 

-

 

Despite Lindsey’s feelings in the moment, talking with Kelley actually helps calm some of her nerves. She will not be taking Kelley up on her dirty talk offer, but she will be following her advice about communication. 

And probably also her advice about asking Sonny to be her girlfriend. 

She’s thinking about how she should ask the question as she walks to therapy later that afternoon. It’s honestly a really good thing that Lindsey scheduled her therapy appointment for Monday afternoon rather than Tuesday afternoon like last week. At the time she scheduled it, she was just thinking about how hard it had been to go straight from tutoring into therapy, and then into soccer practice, but now, she’s glad she has an hour to air out her grievances to a professional.

And while Dr. Cheney’s advice is much more centered around how her past trauma in relationships is affecting her, it ends up just being a much more scholarly-sounding version of Kelley’s advice—communicate with her. 

(Although Dr. Cheney does not try to practice dirty talk with her. Which Lindsey is very grateful for.)

 

-

 

When she gets out of therapy, there’s a text from Sonny waiting for her.

 

1:40pm

sonny: hey, is everything okay? You seemed a little jumpy this morning

lindsey: yeah, I’m really sorry about that…

I was really going through something this morning

Which I would like to discuss with you, maybe tonight because I lied about when that project was due?

sonny: okay…

Is there anything I should be worried about, coming into this discussion?

lindsey: not at all

This has very little to do with you, and a lot more to do with me and what Dr. Cheney calls “my trauma”

Does 9pm at my place work?

sonny: sure

hey Linds?

I’m really glad you feel safe enough to share that with me :)

 

-

 

Sonny knocks on her door that night wearing the softest looking groutfit that Lindsey has ever seen, and it makes her want to cuddle into the shorter girl’s side and never leave. Which, actually, she can kind of do now, so she opens her arms wide and then pulls Sonny in for a hug, tucking her head just a little so she can bury her face into the side of Sonny’s neck. Lindsey holds her close for a good thirty seconds—definitely longer than a normal, friendship hug—and then pulls away, leaving a light kiss on Sonny’s temple. 

“Come on in. Can I get you water or anything to drink? I just poured myself a glass of wine, if you want one as well?” Lindsey says a little timidly as she ushers Sonny into her house for the first time.

“Um, yeah, if you’re having wine I’ll have a glass too. And maybe some water?”

Lindsey nods and then leads her to the kitchen where she pulls together Sonny’s beverage requests, hands them over to her, and then grabs her own wine glass (and her emotional support water bottle!) off the coffee table in the living room before nervously leading Sonny upstairs to her room.

“Wow, I literally can’t believe I’m currently in the room where the Lindsey Horan sleeps every night, dreaming big dreams of winning World Cups and Olympic med—”

“Shut up,” Lindsey shoves her lightly, but she can’t hold back her giggle, which turns into a cackle when Sonny says, “Make me,” like she’s trying to be sexy, but it turns out just being a little silly, and soon both of them are doubled over in laughter.

“Okay, I know that was bad,” Sonny holds up her hands in front of her as she pleads her case, “But, to be fair, you seem more like your happy, giggly self again, and that makes me happy.”

Lindsey flops down onto her bed and then gestures for the other blonde to join her, “Yeah, I was definitely not in the right headspace this morning.” Sonny perches on the edge of the bed, tucking one knee under her and leaving the other dangling off the side. Lindsey feels the mattress shift under the new weight and reaches out to touch Sonny’s knee before continuing. “I, um, got a DM from my ex-boyfriend, um, as a reaction to my repost of your story, and…” Sonny places her hand over Lindsey’s in a gesture of encouragement to keep speaking, “...well, it doesn’t really matter what he said, he’s a dick, but…” Lindsey takes a deep breath and grounds herself in the comfort of Sonny’s thumb stroking over her knuckles, “...it just got me thinking that, um, he’s the only person I’ve—I’ve ever been with, and he’s obviously a guy which means I’ve never been with a girl and I know you have and I just don’t, like—I know it’s something I want but—”

“Hey, Lindsey,” Sonny cuts her off before she rambles herself into incoherence, “First of all, I don’t want to think I expect sex, now or at any time in the future,” her lips are pulled into a sincere smile as she reassures Lindsey. “And secondly, I couldn’t care less if you’ve been with 500 girls or zero girls. Whenever, or if ever, it happens for us, I just care that it’s someone I really like that I’m doing it with. In that way, it’ll be my first time too—my first time with someone that I actually want to be with.”

“Holy fuck you’re incredible,” it’s out of Lindsey’s mouth before she’s fully thought the words through, but they’re exactly the words she means in this moment. 

Sonny smiles and chuckles a little bit at that. “Thank you, but honestly everything I said is pretty much the baseline for a relationship. If you ever have a partner who doesn’t do those things for you, they are not it.”  

It’s Lindsey’s turn to laugh. “Wow, I wish I had that advice when I was dating that dickwad of a man in high school.” She rolls her eyes at the thought of her younger self and her naivety. But her eyes finish their circle and focus in on Sonny, sitting across from her on the bed with an endearing smile and her gaze already focused on Lindsey.

She reaches across the bed to intertwine her fingers with Sonny’s and gently tugs to get the smaller girl to move towards her. “C’mere,” Lindsey says. Sonny shuffles forward on her knees and settles next to Lindsey leaning against the pillows. She looks a little hesitant as she does it, almost like she's worried about getting too close to Lindsey after their conversation. But the taller blonde wraps an arm around Sonny’s shoulders and pulls her into a hug, then traces her jawline with her index finger and coaxes her up into a kiss. 

“Hey, can I ask you something?” Lindsey breathes out as she touches their foreheads together. 

“Of course,” Sonny rubs her thumb lightly where it’s placed lightly on Lindsey’s clavicle. 

Lindsey takes a deep, steadying breath. “Can we— um, can we try this for real?” She swallows and pulls her head back a little so she can look Sonny in the eyes, “Like, will you, uh, will you be my girlfriend?”

Sonny’s mouth parts a little in surprise at the question, but it soon morphs into a genuine smile, her grey-blue eyes going a little squinty with joy. “Fuck yeah I will. Duh! Is that even a question?”

Lindsey giggles. Like really, truly, giggles. “I mean, yeah, I still wanted to ask the question even if I kind of knew what the answer was going to be.”

“Oh, you knew, huh?” Sonny teases. “What, is it, like, obvious that I have a massive, ginormous, big ol’ crush on you?”

“To be fair, I was pretty dense for a while.”

“Oh, absolutely.” Sonny leans forward to peck Lindsey lightly. “So dense,” she huffs out before kissing her again.

 

-

 

11:38pm

sonny: tutoring tomorrow at 1:30?

lindsey: can we not call it tutoring?

feels a little weird now…

sonny: I mean, what else would you call it?

lindsey: idk, like study dates?

sonny: ok fine.

study date tomorrow at 1:30?

lindsey: yes plz

I’m not ready for this test

sonny: don’t worry, babe, we’ll get it all figured out

 

Lindsey’s heart starts beating wildly fast at the name (again), but this time she really lets herself enjoy it for a moment. She lets the butterflies in her stomach flutter around for a second because now she can. Because now her girlfriend just called her babe and she wants to revel in it, for goodness sakes!

 

lindsey: I have no doubts that you will teach me well 

Goodnight, girlfriend :)

sonny: goodnight Linds

Chapter Text

For the life of her, Lindsey Horan cannot believe she has a girlfriend. Like, she knows she does—she was obviously there when it happened—but it still doesn’t feel real. It feels too good to be true.

For the first time in a while, Lindsey doesn’t feel like she’s stuck in some sort of horrible situation that just keeps getting worse the more she looks at it. She’s just happy.  

 

-

 

8:07am

lindsey 🥰: good morning :)

sonny 💛: good morning, beautiful

How did you sleep?

lindsey 🥰: honestly, I had a hard time going to sleep bc I was so excited

sonny 💛: excited about what?

lindsey 🥰: about you, silly

 

-

 

Lindsey knows she needs to tell people, Mal mostly, but Kelley and Alex would both probably kill her if they didn’t find out soon. Maybe she should tell Chris too—after all, they’re really only together now because of her. She resolves to tell Kelley and Alex now, because she can already hear them downstairs arguing about who makes better vegan food (again), and then Mal when they meet for coffee before their respective 9:30 classes, and then Chris will have to wait until practice this afternoon. That is, if Kelley and Alex don’t just tell everyone within five seconds of finding out, first. 

Oh and eventually she should tell her parents. That would probably be a good idea. 

In all honesty, she doesn’t have any idea how her parents will feel about her dating a girl. She assumes they’ll be fine with it—she’s told them about being bisexual and they were fine with it— but obviously she’s never actually told them about dating a girl, so she feels justified in being nervous about it. 

But that’s not a problem for right now Lindsey, that’s a problem for future Lindsey. 

She makes her way downstairs, practically prancing into the kitchen, and just stands there smiling dopily until Kelley and Alex notice her.

It takes a few moments (vegan food debates are very serious).

Alex notices her first. “Looks like you’re having a good morning, Linds.”

“Yeah, what’s got you smiling so much so early in the morning? You’re usually preparing to bite my head off at this time,” Kelley chuckles. 

Lindsey rocks up on to her toes excitedly, “I just had a good night last night.” She smiles wryly. 

Kelley raises her eyebrows, “Oh? Are you going to expand on that thought?”

“Well…” the blonde pauses for dramatic effect, “ I have a girlfriend now.”

Kelley and Alex gasp in unison, before Kelley squeals and runs over to engulf Lindsey in a crushing hug, while Alex starts jumping up and down yelling, “Oh, my God! Congratulations!! Ahhh! This is so exciting!” 

She does her best to hug Kelley back, but she’s gripping Lindsey so tightly that she can barely move her arms, so it ends up being more of a light pat to Kelley’s side. 

“Thanks guys. I’m very happy about it!” Lindsey’s face splits into a giant grin. 

“Yeah, I can tell,” Kelley finally lets her iron grip around Lindsey drop as she takes a step back. “This is the happiest I’ve seen you in a while Linds. Like genuine happiness. Not just, like, because you scored a goal or something.”

“Yeah, Linds, you’re practically glowing,” Alex agrees. 

Lindsey would have to agree as well. 

 

-

 

Telling Mal goes about the same. Lindsey can’t hide her happiness so Mal asks her about it almost instantly, then Lindsey tells her about Sonny and Mal screams (and so many people in the dining hall look at them weirdly), and then there’s a lot of hugging and excitement before they have to go to class. 

(Lindsey hopes there’s nothing too important going on in her Computer Programming class today, as she’s not exactly in the mood to think about anything other than the little crinkles Sonny gets at the corner of her eyes when she smiles and how deep they were last night when Lindsey asked to be her girlfriend.)

 

-

 

Sonny’s already waiting for her outside Starbucks when Lindsey gets there that afternoon. 

“Hi,” Lindsey greets her girlfriend brightly. 

Sonny intertwines their fingers together and then uses that as leverage to pull Lindsey into her, kissing her affectionately. “Hi,” she parrots back to Lindsey when they separate. 

Once they’re settled inside, with their coffees and their Art History study materials spread out around them, Sonny scoots her chair in close to Lindsey’s, wrapping one hand around the back of her chair and placing her other hand lightly on Lindsey’s knee. It feels a little possessive, and Lindsey’s absolutely obsessed with how that makes her stomach flutter and her heart pound. The feeling’s intoxicating. 

“Okay, so,” Sonny nods toward the study guide on the table, “what do you want to go over first?”

Lindsey hums, “Well I don’t know anything about Early Medieval or Romanesque, because those are the classes I skipped.”

“Oops,” Sonny giggles. 

“Yeah, oops,” Lindsey smiles back at her. “So I guess we start there.”

Sonny launches into her explanation on Medieval art, how it revolves around religion and specializes in angular and imperfect shapes, and Lindsey absorbs most of it, luckily. But when Sonny leans in even closer to her to look at the next question on the study guide, and Lindsey can smell the lightly spicy fragrance Sonny’s wearing and her voice comes out a little low and close to Lindsey’s ear and then every thought that’s not “oh my god I have a girlfriend now” leaves her head immediately. 

Then, she notices that Sonny’s looking at her expectantly and realizes she must have missed something. “What?” Lindsey asks dumbly, and Sonny breathes out a laugh. Lindsey looks down guiltily, “Sorry, it’s hard to focus when you’re, like, this close to me.”

“Oh? And why would that be?” Sonny questions cheekily.

Lindsey leans in just slightly so she can peck her girlfriend’s lips. “Because you’re kinda pretty. And you smell kinda nice. And I kinda like you.”

“Only kinda?”

“Well I mean, we did just start dating yesterday. Kinda soon to be admitting everything I feel about you.” Lindsey watches as Sonny’s blue-grey eyes light up with every word she says. 

“Everything, huh?” 

Lindsey nods, and Sonny leans in again for a quick kiss.

“Yeah well, call me a lesbian stereotype but I already feel a whole lotta things for you as well,” Sonny says genuinely. “Now, I really hate to break up this feelings sesh, babe, but I was trying to ask you about characteristics of Romanesque cathedrals.”

Lindsey laughs. “Yeah, I have absolutely no clue, babe.” It feels good to call Sonny that. Sonny, her girlfriend. 

 

-

 

Lindsey was wrong about one thing, and it’s that Kelley and Alex did not tell everyone before practice. However, they did make it their mission to tell everyone during practice, starting by loudly greeting her in the locker room as Lindsey with a girlfriend — and then making sure everyone already there knew they weren’t joking and she actually had a girlfriend—and continuing by asking anyone in their vicinity during warmups if they were aware that Lindsey has a girlfriend now— including Coach Sinclair and all the assistant coaches. 

Which means Lindsey doesn’t really have a chance to tell Christen herself, but she catches her after practice. 

“Linds! Hey I’m so glad everything worked out between you and Sonny.”

Lindsey grins. “Me too. And thanks, again, for that.”

“Well, Tobin spoke so highly of her, I just really didn’t want you to miss out on an opportunity to get to know her better.” Christen reaches out to rub the blonde’s upper arm comfortingly. 

“Hey, uh, speaking of Tobin, are y’all dating yet?”

Christen blushes. “Not officially, no.”

“What’s taking so long?” Lindsey asks teasingly. 

“Well, Tobin’s just kinda shy. I don’t know, I just don’t want to scare her off or anything.”

Lindsey hums understandingly. “Yeah, I get that. She kinda has to come to you. But when she does, I want to be the first to know!”

“Of course, Linds,” Christen laughs. “Even though I obviously wasn’t the first person you told!”

“I can’t help that Kelley and Alex live with me! They were the most convenient!” Lindsey’s laughing too.

When the giggling calms down, Christen looks at her sincerely. “I’m really happy for you. You look happy.”

“I am happy.”

 

-

 

Lindsey’s never meddled in anything ever before. Lindsey keeps to her business. Lindsey likes soccer, and math, and now Sonny. Lindsey doesn’t like doing things behind people’s backs. 

But…

If it weren’t for Christen’s meddling, Lindsey would probably still be very sad and pathetic and also most likely failing Art History. So it only feels right for Lindsey to fire off a quick message to Sonny when she gets back to the soccer house after practice. 

 

6:47pm

lindsey 🥰: how would you feel about suggesting to Tobin that she ask Christen to be her girlfriend? 

Chris is worried about asking before Tobin’s ready

 

She just wants Christen to be as happy as she is. Wants her to have someone in the same way she has Sonny. She wants to have a couple they can go on cute double dates with.

 

sonny 💛: hmm, what do I get out of this deal? 😉

lindsey 🥰: my eternal gratitude…

Maybe a few kisses

sonny 💛: only a few?

imho, this type of favor requires many kisses

lindsey 🥰: ugh you’re impossible

I’ll give you as many kisses as you want

Just please ask Tobin about it

sonny 💛: your offer has been accepted

As many kisses as I want in exchange for me pestering Tobin

Can I have a kiss now?

lindsey 🥰: only if you come here

I don’t feel like moving

 

-

 

Between soccer, studying for the art history test, hanging out with Sonny, and all Lindsey’s other class work, it’s not until Saturday night that she gets some time to call her parents. 

She’s tucked into her bed with the chicken and veggie rice bowl that she persuaded Kelley to make for the both of them—she said she would help as a compromise, but she really just ended up sitting at the kitchen counter and stirring the rice a few times—when she hits call on her mom’s phone number. 

“Hey, Linds,” her mom greets her, “let me go grab Dad, he’s just right outside doing some yard work.”

Lindsey listens to the faint sound of the door opening and her mom calling out to her dad, and then the returning pair of footsteps. 

“Lindsey!” Her dad’s booming voice comes through her phone speaker. 

“Hey dad, hey mom. How’s everything going at home?”

She listens as her parents wax poetic about the new garden her dad’s planting in their backyard and the dinner they had last night with her brother and his fiancé, stuffing her mouth with her dinner and managing muffled noises of acknowledgement in between bites. 

And then the conversation turns to her.

“And how are you, Linds?” Her dad asks, clearly with a little bit of urgency to get her mom to stop talking about them and actually check in with her daughter. 

“Oh, I’m doing good. We have a bye this weekend for games and then two games next week, so I’m just trying to relax because I know next week‘ll be crazy. And I have a big Art History test on Monday so I’ll be studying a bunch for that this weekend.”

“How’s the studying going? I know you found that class pretty difficult at the beginning of the semester,” her mom prods. 

Lindsey takes a deep breath—she knows this is her segue to get to talking about Sonny. “Yeah, it’s actually been going well. Do you remember how I told you I have a TA for that class?” Her parents make noises of confirmation before she continues. “Well, she’s been helping me out a lot with tutoring and making sure I know the material. I’ll probably ask her to do another session with me this weekend before the test.”

“Oh that’s great, Linds! You’ll have to let us know how the test goes,” her dad exclaims. 

“Yeah, I will, but—” Lindsey can hear her heartbeat in her ears, “um, there’s something else I should tell you. About her—uh, my TA.”

“What’s up, hon?” Her mom’s voice is gentler than normal, seeming to sense her hesitation. 

“Well, um, we’ve actually gotten really close outside of class, too. Like, not just at tutoring, and um, well—” Lindsey swallows, “we’re actually dating. Like, um, she’s my girlfriend.”

She’s met by silence on the other end of the line until her mom says, “Oh.” And then there’s more silence. Lindsey can only imagine the looks her parents are giving each other, trying to silently have a conversation about how they’re supposed to react. Meanwhile, the longer she waits for a response, the closer she’s getting to tears, just wanting her parents' approval. 

“Well I think that’s great, Linds,” her dad says. 

Her mom however, let’s out a frustrated humph. “This isn’t really that serious though, is it?”

Lindsey’s stunned by that reaction, and her dad seems to be too, if the way he warns “Linda,” under his breath is any indication. “Mom, I—yeah, I really like her.”

“But you’re not going to, like, marry her,” her mom’s tone has changed drastically since before Lindsey said anything about Sonny, becoming harsher, more like an accusation. 

Lindsey can feel hot tears pricking at the corners of her eyes, but she wipes them with her sleeve and tries to keep her voice even as she responds, “I don’t know, Mom, we just started dating.”

“Linds—” comes her dad’s voice, but he’s cut off by her mom. 

“I don’t understand though. You’re supposed to be able to still date men, Linds. You can still be normal, honey, right?”

Lindsey’s at a complete loss for words. “…What?”

“Well, bisexuals also like boys, right? So I just don’t understand why you want to put yourself through this whole gay thing if you can just date men. That’s all.”

“Linda,” her dad warns again, “let’s not—”

But it’s Lindsey who interrupts him this time. “You say that like being gay is a bad thing. Is that what you think? Is that the only reason you were okay with me when I came out to you because you thought it meant I wouldn’t actually want to date women?” There are tears trailing down her cheeks by now, and she sniffles before she wipes them away again with her sleeve. 

“Well, I—”

Lindsey doesn’t really want to hear any more. “No, Mom, I’m gonna go. I really don’t want to hear this right now.” She hangs up the phone without saying anything else and falls back against her pillows, racking with sobs. 

 

-

 

7:18pm

Dad: Linds I’m so sorry

I’ll talk to her

I love you

 

It’s a small consolation. Lindsey likes all of his messages, but doesn’t respond. 

Instead, she calls Sonny. 

 

-

 

Sonny shows up at her house a half hour later with a pint of cookie dough ice cream. 

She listens attentively as Lindsey explains what her mom said, stammering through the aftermath of her tearful breakdown. She pulls Lindsey in to her and traces comforting patterns on the taller girl’s arm, kissing her forehead and cheeks and hand gently. She hands Lindsey a spoon and the ice cream and tells her to eat, it’ll make you feel better

Sonny doesn’t try to brush away Lindsey’s hurt (she can’t help but thinking that Russel absolutely would have), just holds her and soothes words against her hairline like I’m so sorry, babe and We’ll figure this out together and I hate you had to go through that. 

Lindsey falls asleep to the rhythm of Sonny’s breathing and the melody of her voice. She falls asleep because she feels safe, and warm, and comfortable here with Sonny’s body pressed up against hers, Sonny’s thumb stroking across her hip, Sonny’s legs tangled between hers. 

She falls asleep knowing that, no matter what her mom wants, this is going to be a serious thing. 

 

-

 

She blinks awake only about an hour later—her body has a weird thing about not being able to go to sleep unless she’s actually ready for bed—and Sonny’s still pressed up against her, making very cute, quiet snoring noises. Lindsey smiles to herself as she just allows herself a moment to trace all of her girlfriend’s features with her eyes, taking in the faint indents of her smile lines and the freckles that are scattered across her face. There’s one just below her eye at the crease of her nose that’s a little darker than all the rest, and Lindsey leans forward to gently kiss it.

Sonny twitches a little bit at the sensation, but seems to stay asleep, so Lindsey decides to just continue laying there, thinking, for a little longer before she wakes her up. 

She thinks she’s most hurt by the fact that her mom’s support was so conditional. They could have figured this issue out a long time ago if Lindsey had known, had been able to tell her mom that she saw herself dating girls in the future, maybe even marrying a girl. Then she wouldn’t have to be dealing with it now, with the girl staring her right in the face. It feels more like a rejection because there’s a real human attached to the hurt, instead of just an imaginary concept that Lindsey can argue with her mom about all day long.

Her thoughts are interrupted when she feels Sonny moving beside her, slowly waking up as well, as if she can sense that Lindsey’s thinking about her. She yawns and clumsily reaches for Lindsey’s hand, still half-asleep.

“How’re you feeling, babe?” She asks groggily.

Lindsey hums, “Still pretty bad, but I think at least I’m all cried out.”

Sonny scootches in even closer so she can bury her head in Lindsey’s shoulder and throw an arm around her waist. “Are you going home for fall break?” It comes out muffled against Lindsey’s skin.

Fuck. She hadn’t even thought about that. She has a ticket back to Denver for next Thursday, and now she doesn’t know if she wants to go home so soon. Lindsey sighs, “I’m supposed to be. Don’t really think I want to now though.” She toys nervously with the fabric of Sonny’s shirt.

“Do you, um, I—I was just planning on staying here, so…” Sonny tilts her head up so she’s looking at Lindsey’s face, “If you want, um, you’re welcome to stay here with me.”

Lindsey softens at Sonny’s apparent nervousness and tilts her head down so she can kiss her girlfriend. “I would actually really like that.” She settles back so Sonny’s head is resting against her neck again and thinks for a moment. “Although, I was kind of looking forward to leaving campus.”

Sonny nods, her hair tickling a little bit at Lindsey’s neck. “Mmm. We could go somewhere. Not like a big somewhere, just like a little somewhere.”

“Ooh, I like that idea. You know, I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle. And it’s so close to us, but I’ve still never made it up there.”

“I can make that happen,” Sonny shifts against her again so she can look into Lindsey’s eyes. “Let’s do it, babe.”

Lindsey can’t help the giddy grin that spreads across her face. She brought up something she’s always wanted to do, and at the drop of a hat, Sonny wants to make it happen for her. “Really? I don’t need to, like, sell you on it, or something?”

“Nope, I want to make this happen for you.”

“Well, can I, like, help plan at all?”

Sonny kisses at Lindsey’s jaw a couple times before speaking. “Nope, you’ve got an art history test and two soccer games to think about. Just let me do this for you.”

It’s so many emotions all at once for Lindsey. Gratitude. Affection. Relief. She can’t even begin to speak words that could convey how much this means to her. It feels like the only way to properly thank her girlfriend is to tilt her chin up and kiss her deeply, passionately, lovingly until Sonny understands the gravity of Lindsey’s emotions.

And so that’s what she does.