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Home with you

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Oh, and to tell you is too scary

So I'll just say something else

And I wish that you could hear me

When I talk to myself

But this plane might not land safely

So, what the hell do I have to lose

If I just tell you?

I wanna eat pancakes for dinner

I wanna get stuck in your head

I wanna watch a T.V. show together

And when we're under the weather we can watch it in bed

I wanna go out on the weekends

I wanna dress up just to get undressed

I think that I should probably tell you this

In case there is an accident

And I never see you again

So please save all your questions for the end

And maybe I'll be brave enough by then

(Tobin - “Pancakes for Dinner” by Lizzy Alpine)


Cradle me, I'll cradle you

I'll win your heart with a woop-a-woo

Pulling shapes just for your eyes

So with toothpaste kisses and lines

I'll be yours and you'll be...

Lay with me, I'll lay with you

We'll do the things that lovers do

Put the stars in our eyes

And with heart-shaped bruises

And late night kisses, divine

So with toothpaste kisses and lines

Stay with me, I'll stay with you

Doin' things that lovers do

What else to do?

(Christen - “Toothpaste Kisses” by The Maccabees)


“Are you wearing lipstick?” Tobin asked, grinning as she watched Christen get ready in front of the bathroom mirror. 

“This is a gloss,”  Christen countered, capping the lip gloss and putting it back on the counter.

“Are you sure you’re not trying to get a date with Ms. Hubbard?” Tobin teased, wrapping an arm around Christen and grabbing her ring from the dish on the counter. 

“She is totally not my type,” Christen scoffed, grabbing her heartstring necklace from the dish as well and holding it up for Tobin to help her put it on.

“ you’re just trying to look flawless and intimidating? It’s working,” Tobin murmured as she swept Christen's hair to the side and clasped the necklace. 

Christen leaned back into Tobin and met her gaze in the bathroom mirror. “I was told I needed to be convincing, so convincing I shall be,” she hummed with a playful smile on her face.

“Baby, you don’t need to be anything. We’re yours, you’re ours, and anyone can see that,” Tobin breathed out, kissing the back of Christen’s neck. 

Christen softened at the sweet reply, reaching back to pull Tobin’s arms around her waist.

“You really are something else,” Christen replied softly, her green eyes holding an almost awestruck look in them.

“I’m just really in love with you. And I’ll let you in on a secret,” Tobin whispered. “These things are really boring, but it’s a good reason to hire a babysitter, so if we’re quick, we can get dinner somewhere after sitting at Scottie’s desk and listening to how great she is.”

“Maybe we can take dinner back to my apartment,” Christen said with a coy smirk. 

“I miss your place,” Tobin mumbled against Christen’s skin. “And Janice.”

“Janice misses you too,” Christen chuckled. “I don’t think I’ve been back there in...a week and a half? Maybe two?”

“You know, if you miss it we could always figure something out and spend some time there,” Tobin offered. 

Christen turned around in Tobin’s embrace, her arms looping around Tobin’s neck as she tilted her head to the side in thought.

“I don’t miss it as much as I expected to,” Christen answered honestly. “I’m really enjoying spending more time here and slowly invading your dresser and closet space,” she added with a laugh.

Tobin smiled at that, opening her mouth to reply, to voice what she’d been thinking about for the past week. 

“Rebecca’s here!” Scottie called from the living room. “Can I let her in?” 

“Yes!” Tobin called back, giving Christen one last squeeze before she let her arms fall to her sides. “Do you need to grab anything before we go? Pictures from our first date? All the artwork Scottie’s made you?” 

Christen’s eyes crinkled as her smile grew. “Cute. I was going to suggest I give you a very visible hickey, but pictures and art work just fine,” she replied with a wink, breezing by Tobin on her way out of the bathroom.

“Maybe a less visible one later tonight?” Tobin called, following after her. 

“If you’re good,” Christen tossed over her shoulder, leading the way down the stairs. 

“The chairs are tiny. That’s what surprised me most when I took Scottie to kindergarten for the first time,” Tobin grinned, glancing around the classroom that was full of other parents, most of whom were already in their later thirties. 

Christen smiled, feeling that familiar warmth in her chest that spoke volumes of the love she had for the woman seated next to her. 

“Yeah, these are pretty small too,” Christen chuckled, crossing her legs and trying to get comfortable in the small, blue plastic chair. 

“And the coffee is really really shitty. Want to taste?” Tobin asked, handing her cup over. 

Christen wrinkled her nose and pushed the cup back in Tobin’s direction. “After that glowing review, I’ll pass.”

“This is the first one of these I haven’t come to alone. I always take the coffee because it gives me something to do,” Tobin shrugged. 

Christen hesitated for just a moment before steeling herself. She took the cup from Tobin’s hand and sipped the disgusting coffee inside of the cup.

“Now you’re not alone. We’ve done it together,” Christen replied, her nose scrunched up in distaste as she passed the cup back to Tobin.

“That was not me suggesting you try it,” Tobin laughed. “I’ll definitely buy you dinner now.”

“Tobin, you made it,” Ms. Hubbard smiled, making her way over to Scottie’s desk where Tobin and Christen were sitting. 

“And I thought the coffee was bad,” Christen grumbled under her breath, catching sight of Scottie’s teacher and purposefully scooting her chair just a bit closer to Tobin.

“Uh...yeah. I don’t make a habit of missing Scottie’s school events,” Tobin said, offering a small smile to Scottie’s teacher. 

“That’s really great! That’s uh- I don’t think we’ve really met,” Ms. Hubbard said, offering Christen a slightly smaller smile. 

“Christen Press,” Christen replied smoothly, laying her arm along the back of Tobin’s chair, her hand rising to the back of Tobin’s head.

“Right, the soccer player,” Ms. Hubbard nodded. “Scottie brought your stuff for show and tell.”

Christen nodded and began to twirl a few strands of Tobin’s hair between her fingers, her focus on Ms. Hubbard.

Tobin had to force the tiny smile from her face. She had to make herself focus on the actual conversation and not Christen’s slightly possessive touch. 

“She’s so sweet and supportive. I don’t think I would have managed to score the penalty at the Sydney Olympics to win Gold without Tobin and Scottie there, cheering me on,” Christen hummed.

“Are you related? Scottie didn’t really tell the class how she knows you,” Ms. Hubbard said, focusing on Tobin despite speaking to Christen. 

“She’s my Scottie, and I’m her Christen,” Christen replied with a smile. She finally tore her gaze away from Ms. Hubbard and looked at Tobin. “We love our girl, don’t we?” she asked, her tone sweet but her green eyes dancing with a dangerously playful glint.

“She’s the best,” Tobin agreed, trying not to laugh at the way Ms. Hubbard’s smile was slowly slipping off her face. 

“Oh, babe, sorry,” Christen said quickly, running her thumb along the corner of Tobin’s mouth and wiping away some non-existent lip gloss. “I didn’t realize I left some behind. This dang lip gloss is so hard to get off.”

“There are a lot of parents that I still have to say hello to,” Ms. Hubbard said, clearing her throat quietly. 

“Really? What a shame. Well, it was so lovely to meet you,” Christen said, an overly friendly smile on her face as she turned back around and looked at Scottie’s teacher.

“It was nice to meet you too. Scottie’s a really sweet kid. I’m sure- uh- I’m sure you’re both really proud. Maybe you’ll both make it to the parent-teacher conference at the end of the year.”

“We wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Christen grinned, her hand falling away from Tobin’s hair and to the back of the chair again.

“It was nice to see you,” Tobin said softly, trying to avoid eye contact with Christen since she knew it would make her completely lose whatever control she had. 

Once Ms. Hubbard walked off, Christen finally let out the delighted huff of victory she’d been keeping in. “Think that was convincing enough?” Christen asked with a smirk.

“You’re evil,” Tobin snorted, already scooting her chair back. 

Christen shrugged innocently. “Maybe just a little. But it was worth it to see her face when she put everything together,” she chuckled.

“I need to get you out of here before you figure out which parents are Naomi’s and Simon’s,” Tobin hummed. 

“Front row, second and third seats from the left. I already glared,” Christen huffed, glaring again at the two sets of parents. 

“Okay, I need to get you out of here and show you just how much protective you turns me on,” Tobin whispered, tangling her fingers with Christen’s. 

Christen arched her brow and felt the corner of her mouth twitch up. She gently squeezed Tobin’s hand and leaned in close so no one else could hear.

“I bet Ms. Hubbard wouldn’t bat an eye if we snuck out of here in five minutes,” Christen murmured.

“I tried the coffee. That’s all I came to do,” Tobin grinned, pressing a kiss to the back of Christen’s hand. 

“And I did all the convincing I needed to,” Christen replied, nodding her head in agreement that they had both done what they’d come here to do.

“You did more than you needed,” Tobin laughed, pulling Christen up to her feet and heading out of the classroom as a new wave of parents entered, not even waiting five minutes to make their escape. 

Scottie paced back and forth staring at each canvas as critically as she could. She tapped her nose with her index finger as she paced, staying quiet the entire time. Suddenly, Tobin wondered if she should have asked Christen for help first, since Scottie was putting her slightly on edge. But Scottie had expressed feeling bored, and Christen was on the way home from practice, so she’d decided to let Scottie give her opinion first. 

There were seven new pieces, two unfinished pieces on easels, and a few older pieces set up around her studio. She’d been painting up a storm, putting off commissioned pieces in favor of making a new collection. And now, she had to narrow the collection down and decide what to send with her application for a juried art exhibition in Pennsylvania later in the year. 

“This one for sure,” Scottie said finally, pointing to a rectangular canvas, the smallest of the seven new pieces. It had every shade of green imaginable and a stenciled silhouette in the middle. “It’s perfect green.”

“Really? It isn’t too simple?” Tobin asked, leaning against the table and tilting her head at the painting. 

“I love it because it’s simple,” Scottie replied thoughtfully. 

“I hope the judges think so,” Tobin hummed, glancing around the room at the other paintings. A couple were more realistic and slightly less abstract. A few had warmer colors. 

“I love it, Mommy, and they will too. It makes me feel warm in here,” Scottie said, tapping her chest. “Like Central Park and the soccer field and my Christen.”

“Yeah, me too,” Tobin said, smiling at Scottie. Most of the paintings that she’d made had to do with Christen or at least stemmed from some emotion she had when she was with Christen. She hadn’t been able to help it. Christen had completely overwhelmed her in the best way possible, and every painting had been inspired by her or by her and Scottie. 

With her job done, Scottie skipped across the room and flung her arms around Tobin’s waist, looking up at her with a smile.

“Can Gemma come over for a sleepover on Saturday? Maybe she can come to the game with us and stay the night after?” Scottie asked in her sweetest voice.

“If Gemma’s dad is okay with that, it’s cool with me,” Tobin said, leaning down and pressing a kiss to Scottie’s forehead. “You have to ask Christen about seats at the game, though.”

As if on cue, the garage door opened and Christen shuffled in, her purse on her shoulder and a tired half-smile on her face.

“Thank goodness, you’re home!” Scottie grinned, letting go of Tobin and running over to wrap her arms around Christen’s waist. 

“Hey, sweetheart,” Christen greeted, hugging Scottie tightly.

“You look sleepy,” Scottie said, leaning back to get a good look at Christen. “Did Amanda make you run a lot?” 

Christen nodded and brushed some hair away from Scottie’s forehead. “Yeah but I beat Kelley in a sprinting challenge, so I’m feeling pretty good.”

“Of course you did,” Tobin grinned, pushing away from the table and walking over to Christen. 

Christen looked up and met Tobin’s gaze, her expression softening. “Hi, you,” she grinned.

“Hi back,” Tobin hummed, pressing a kiss to Christen’s cheek. 

“Mommy already put dinner in the oven, so it’ll be ready soon, and then you can relax,” Scottie grinned, bouncing from foot to foot in excitement. 

“Let me’s Wednesday, so we’re having mac n’ cheese?” Christen guessed, looking back down at Scottie.

“Nope,” Scottie shook her head, a smile playing on her lips. 

“Lasagna?” Christen asked, mirroring Scottie’s smile.

“Guess again,” Scottie giggled. 

“I don’t think I should. I’m always terrible at it,” Christen chuckled.

“Well she made some veggies, and I have to eat those, but she tried a new recipe because Grandma said she was getting predictable,” Scottie grinned. 

“Savage,” Tobin murmured under her breath. 

Christen laughed, squeezing Scottie close and rocking her back and forth. 

Scottie waited until her plate of food was sitting in front of her, the mountain of vegetables daunting and making her feel slightly grossed out, to broach the subject of the game with Christen. 

“The chicken enchiladas are really good, Mommy,” Scottie said, trying to be on her best behavior so that she’d get a yes from Christen, not just Tobin. 

“Thanks, buddy,” Tobin laughed, knowing exactly what Scottie was doing, even though Christen was still unaware. 

“Um...So, Christen, you had a good day?” Scottie asked. 

Christen shared an amused look with Tobin and then met Scottie’s gaze. She was curious about the slight apprehension she could see in Scottie’s gray eyes.

“I did…” Christen replied, setting her fork down and giving Scottie her full attention.

“Cool, cool,” Scottie nodded, taking a sip of water. 

“What is it, sweetheart?” Christen asked, finally reading between the lines and realizing that Scottie wanted to ask her something. And it wasn’t a small thing either, because Scottie’s fingers were tapping along the table.

“Well, you know how Gemma and I are friends, right?” Scottie said. 

Christen nodded and waited for Scottie to continue.

“I think it’s kind of crazy that she and I are really good friends but she’s never seen the house. So, I invited her to sleep over this weekend, and Mommy said that was fine,” Scottie continued. 

“That sounds like it will be super-duper fun,” Christen replied, still waiting for Scottie to land the plane and get to the part that she could help with.

“Yeah, except I might have also said something about her maybe coming to the game on Saturday and sleeping over after the game. And Mommy said that I had to ask you about that because you always get us seats, and it’s kind of last-minute and also our thing,” Scottie rushed out, hardly taking a breath between sentences. 

“Would you be okay with it if she came? Since it is our thing?” Christen wondered, already knowing her answer to Scottie’s question.

“I think so,” Scottie nodded. “She likes the games, and she’s cool. It’s not like she’d come to every game.”

“If you’re okay with it, so am I. Want me to see if she can be a ball girl with you?” Christen asked with a smile.

“Sure, but I still wanna walk you out. She can have Kelley or someone else,” Scottie said, a tiny, lopsided smile slipping onto her face. 

“You’re stuck with me, Scottie Heath,” Christen winked, reaching out to poke her finger in the dimple in Scottie’s cheek. “I think Crystal needs someone to walk her out next game, so maybe Gemma can go with her.”

“Have I told you that I love you?” Scottie grinned, sliding from her seat and racing around the table to hug Christen. 

Christen returned the hug with a small, surprised chuckle. “You have, and I love you too. I’ll even throw in a Gotham scarf for her. How’s that sound?”

“She’ll probably love that. She and her dad are fans,” Scottie murmured. 

“I’ll get one for him too then,” Christen promised, dropping a kiss to the top of Scottie’s head.

“Thank you,” Scottie beamed. “Now, Mommy…”

“What?” Tobin laughed, watching Scottie walk back to her seat and fold her hands in front of her. 

“This is a mountain,” Scottie whined, pointing at the pile of vegetables. “I helped you with your paintings, and you gave me a mountain.”

Christen snorted and looked between Scottie’s adorable pout and Tobin’s faux-stern ‘mom’ look, beyond amused and beyond loving that this was her life.

“Five big bites and maybe we can strike a deal,” Tobin suggested, popping a piece of cauliflower into her mouth. 

“Four big bites and you get to pick the car music to the game on Saturday,” Scottie replied, holding out her fist for a fist bump.

“Five big bites and you and Gemma can pick the movie you watch after the game,” Tobin countered, raising an eyebrow at Scottie. 

Scottie groaned dramatically and then shook her fist. “You got yourself a deal,” Scottie mumbled, waiting for Tobin to fist-bump her.

Tobin bumped her fist with Scottie’s and kept count as Scottie worked on her vegetables, all the while enjoying the way Christen softly ran her thumb along her knee. 

Tobin was continuously surprised by how quickly the three of them had developed a routine. She was overwhelmed by how right it felt to watch Christen help Scottie pick her outfit out for school tomorrow before the two of them tucked Scottie in and said goodnight. 

Sometimes it felt too good to be true, like she was dreaming and would wake up eventually. But seeing Christen press a kiss to Scottie’s forehead and turn on her night light was too real, too perfect to be a dream. 

“You got a funny look in your eyes,” Christen hummed, closing the door to Scottie’s room and then winding her arms around Tobin’s waist. 

“What kind of funny?” Tobin murmured, slowly moving down the hall with Christen in her arms. 

“Like you’re thinking really hard about something that makes you happy,” Christen replied softly. 

“I am,” Tobin grinned, taking Christen’s hand in her own and leading her down the stairs to wash dinner dishes and make sure Scottie had packed a decent lunch for school. 

“Care to share?” Christen teased, moving to the sink after dropping a kiss to Tobin’s temple. 

“I just really love you, and I really love how natural all of this feels. Nothing new,” Tobin shrugged, pulling Scottie’s lunchbox out of the fridge and peeking at the contents with a laugh.  

Christen felt a dreamy smile tug at her lips as she started on the dishes. She felt the exact same way, and even if it was nothing new, it still made her heart race and her stomach flutter.

“I love you too,” Christen whispered, her dreamy smile softening. 

“I might have to keep packing her lunches,” Tobin mumbled, putting the open lunchbox on the counter and revealing the four Oreos and the bag of Goldfish Scottie had packed. 

Christen chuckled and shook her head. “Did she sneak any Snickers in there?”

“Not this time,” Tobin grinned, taking two Oreos out and putting them back in the box. She set about making Scottie a turkey sandwich while Christen loaded dishes into the dishwasher. 

“Our girl,” Christen hummed under her breath, chuckling a bit at Scottie’s lunch choices and the fact that Tobin let Scottie keep two Oreos.

“Can I ask you a favor?” Tobin hummed, zipping up Scottie’s lunchbox now that it had a sandwich and some carrots added to it. 

“Of course,” Christen replied, finishing up the dishes and wiping her hands on a towel. She turned around to face Tobin, leaning against the counter. 

“I need your opinion, actually. I got Scottie’s this afternoon, but it’d be nice to get a second one,” Tobin said, taking Christen’s hand in her own. 

Christen nodded and discarded the towel on the counter, following Tobin downstairs to the studio. 

“I’m trying to get into a juried art exhibit, and they need some pieces to judge, but I never really know what people are looking for or what people will like,” Tobin added as they reached the studio. 

“I don’t know if I can be objective. I love everything you do,” Christen replied. “I sang your praises for an hour about the doodle you left in my purse the other day.”

Tobin let out a soft laugh and wrapped her arms around Christen’s waist, letting her hands settle on Christen’s stomach. She pressed a kiss to the back of Christen’s neck and steered her to the center of the studio, so she could get a look at all the pieces she’d been thinking about. 

“I don’t think submitting the doodle would get me into the exhibit, but I’m glad you liked it,” Tobin hummed. 

“Of course I did. So…this is what you do when I’m out on the field,” Christen teased, her eyes moving across the collection of canvases in front of her. “Tobin, these are incredible.”

“Thank you,” Tobin murmured, keeping her lips pressed against Christen’s shoulder. 

Christen let her eyes track across all of the paintings, across the varied colors and textures. They were all wonderful, each in their own way. They were effortlessly simple and beautifully complex, all at the same time. But there was one, tucked into the corner of the room at the far end of the group of paintings that drew Christen’s attention. 

“What’s that one?” Christen asked softly, nodding at the canvas. “It’s…it’s got something and I can’t put my finger on it.”

“You can look closer,” Tobin chuckled, loosening her arms from around Christen’s waist. 

Christen drifted over, an arm slung around her waist, a hand beneath her chin. It was similar to how she looked in MoMa, eyeing the painting she eventually chose to hang in her apartment. 

“Is that me and Scottie?” Christen asked softly, her eyes following the stenciled pattern hidden inside of the swirls of green.

“Yeah,” Tobin murmured, watching Christen with a tiny amount of nerves. 

Christen half-turned and looked back at Tobin, a soft look in her eyes, one that was a mix between surprise and wonder. 

“You put me in a painting?” Christen whispered. 

“You’re in all my new pieces,” Tobin admitted, looking at the seven canvases. Some had the same kind of stenciled design with just Christen. Others were simply inspired by a moment they’d shared. 

Christen looked back to the canvases, almost seeing them with new eyes. She felt that familiar rush of emotions, that familiar beating of her heart and fluttering in her stomach, as she looked at the paintings. 

But she felt something else as well. Something she had never felt before. It went beyond love and wonder, beyond tenderness and awe.

It was something she didn’t even have a word for. She wasn’t sure a word existed to describe the emotions swirling around within her heart. 

The closest she could think of was home. Standing here, recognizing herself and her love with Tobin in these paintings, felt like coming home. 

“You are extraordinary,” Christen murmured, shaking her head softly as she looked away from the paintings and back to Tobin. She felt tears pool in her eyes and her throat get thick. “The way you love me is so extraordinary and I- I don’t even have the words, Tobin.” 

“I’m just trying to keep up with you,” Tobin said softly, making her way to Christen’s side. 

Christen didn’t paint her feelings for Tobin on a canvas, but she showed Tobin every single day. Her love was in the way she cared for both Scottie and Tobin. It was in the way she made sure that Tobin felt safe and secure, the way that they both listened and looked after one another. 

“How am I supposed to remain objective now ?” Christen asked, a little breathlessly. 

“Yeah, I guess that’s kind of an unfair request,” Tobin chuckled, lacing their fingers together. 

Christen shook her head and chuckled as well. “I love that green one down there. A lot. But I like them all, babe. I just- I can’t believe you included me.” 

“Why wouldn’t I? I don’t just pick colors that I like. Everything I make is based on something or someone, and you’re one of the two biggest parts of my life. You and Scottie are everything,” Tobin whispered. 

Christen pulled their clasped hands to her chest and rested them over her racing heart, her eyes holding Tobin’s. 

“Still not used to it,” Christen hummed, referring to the way Tobin’s words and actions and love made her feel. “I don’t know if I ever will be.”

“Me either,” Tobin agreed, stepping closer and wrapping an arm around Christen’s waist. “Scottie chose the green one too, so that probably settles it.” 

“Perfect green, right?” Christen chuckled, leaning in and nuzzling her nose along Tobin’s. 

“Mhm like your eyes,” Tobin whispered back, running her thumbs over Christen’s hip bones. 

Christen placed a lingering kiss on Tobin’s lips, feeling that sense of home again as she stood in Tobin’s arms. 

“Ready?” Christen asked, almost vibrating with excitement as she held her hands over Tobin’s eyes. 

“I’m not sure what exactly I should be preparing myself for, but yes,” Tobin laughed, loving how excited Christen was about the secret work she’d been doing on the roof, essentially banning Tobin from going up there all summer. 

Christen dropped her hands away from Tobin’s eyes and took a small step back, waiting for Tobin to take in the changes she’d made to the roof space. 

“Holy,” Tobin breathed out, her eyes tracking over the section of the roof that Christen had turned into a garden. 

She took in the new lounge area that Christen had set up with an outdoor rug, the lounge chairs they already had, and a new outdoor couch. There was even a small, purple hammock that Scottie had clearly asked for and a few strings of market lights that illuminated the space and would only get brighter when the sun fully set. 

“Baby, how did you do this?” Tobin asked, her mouth hanging open as she took everything in. 

“I had help,” Christen explained, not wanting to take all the credit. “Crystal’s got quite the green thumb, and Becky helped me pick out the furniture.”

“How did you get this upstairs?” Tobin asked, turning around to look at Christen. 

Christen winked and flexed her arms. “These definitely helped…plus the rookies we had come over and do most of the heavy lifting,” Christen chuckled. 

“Where was I?” Tobin asked with awe in her voice and wide eyes. “I knew you were gardening. I didn’t know you were decorating.” 

Christen slung her arms around Tobin’s waist and pressed a kiss to the corner of her mouth. “Remember when I sent you to like three different bodegas in search of a very specific brand of sugar-free chocolate almonds?” 

“You’re very sneaky,” Tobin grinned. “And very sweet. Thank you. Am I allowed to pay for this furniture?” 

Christen shook her head. “Nope. But you are on cooking duty tonight, so chop chop.”

“I need to buy a grill or something,” Tobin grinned, taking one last look around the space. 

“It’s on backorder, baby,” Christen replied with a wink. 

“Can I pay for half?” Tobin asked, sticking out her bottom lip slightly. 

“You got yourself a deal,” Christen hummed, kissing the pout on Tobin’s lips. 

“Thank you,” Tobin repeated. “This is really amazing. You’re really amazing.” 

Christen shrugged and felt her smile grow. “I’m just trying to keep up with you.”

“Do you want to know who I talked to yesterday?” Tobin asked, taking Christen’s hands in her own and stepping back toward the door that led to the stairs. 

“Who?” Christen wondered. 

“Tyler,” Tobin hummed, smirking at Christen’s confusion. 

“Umm, why?” Christen laughed. Ever since last December, they’d all kept in pretty close contact, over the phone and with plenty of visits. It wasn’t unheard of for Tobin to talk to one or both of her sisters on her own, but it definitely wasn’t normal. 

“Well…I couldn’t figure out what to make for dinner with my parents, and I wanted to make sure that you’d really like it,” Tobin said. “Plus I knew you were showing me the roof surprise, so I wanted you to have a great dinner.” 

“But Tyler burns everything in the kitchen,” Christen laughed, still not really understanding why Tobin had called her sister, despite the sweet intention behind it. 

“Maybe…but Tyler knows what your favorite food from home was,” Tobin said quietly. “And she has the cookbooks that have those recipes.” 

Christen’s feet stopped moving, bringing them to a halt halfway down the stairs. 

“Unless that’s overstepping and you want me to make mac and cheese and chicken and veggies or something super normal and Scottie approved,” Tobin said, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. 

“No it’s-“ Christen faltered, huffing out a surprised breath. “Thank you.”

“I mean, I might mess it up, so maybe don’t thank me yet,” Tobin replied, running her hand through her hair. 

“You could undercook it or overcook it, and it wouldn’t matter to me,” Christen hummed softly. “You doing this means a lot to me, Tobin. It feels like…another part of us and ours.”

“I’m now really hoping Tyler actually remembered your favorite food correctly,” Tobin whispered, holding Christen a little closer as they moved down the stairs. 

“It’s unfair that you can cook like this. You’re not allowed to be this talented at so many things,” Christen groaned, setting her fork down next to her very empty plate. 

“It took lots of trial and error,” Tobin said, remembering the first two years she first had Scottie and ended up burning or poorly seasoning most of the food she tried to make. 

“She had very little ability when she was younger,” Cindy teased, refilling everyone’s wine glasses around the table. 

“Tobs took cooking classes because she wanted to be able to cook for Scottie,” Jeff added. 

“I heard my name!” Scottie yelled, jumping off the purple hammock and racing over to the table situated under the market lights on the roof. 

“We’re teasing your mom about how bad at cooking she used to be, peanut,” Jeff clarified, picking up the last bite of salmon with his fork. 

“Oh, yeah. Mommy ordered lots of pizza,” Scottie grinned. 

Christen chuckled and ran her thumb soothingly over the inside of Tobin’s knee under the table. 

“Christen, you did a really amazing job. I feel like I’ve been trying to convince Tobin to do something with this space since she moved here. And you just made it absolutely beautiful,” Cindy gushed, looking around at the potted plants and the lights. 

“Thank you, Cindy,” Christen blushed. “It just needed a little TLC.”

“It’s fantastic,” Jeff agreed. 

Tobin’s arm was resting along the back of Christen’s chair, and as her parents spoke, she ran her hand up and down Christen's arm, unable not to sink into Christen beside her. 

“What’s really fantastic are the paintings Tobin’s sending into a juried art festival,” Christen replied, moving the attention off of herself. “There’s no way she won’t be picked.”

“Oh, can we see them after we finish up here?” Jeff asked, shooting Tobin a smile. 

“Sure,” Tobin nodded, knowing that she’d already gotten all the praise she needed from Christen and Scottie. 

“I do have a question that I’ve been kind of sitting on…” Cindy said softly. 

At the shift in tone and conversation, Christen shared a curious look with Tobin and then turned her attention back to Cindy. 

“For me?” Christen clarified.

“Yes,” Cindy nodded before quickly thinking better of her question. “I was just…well it’s really not my business. Never mind.”  

Christen squeezed Tobin’s knee gently and offered Cindy a reassuring smile.  “That’s okay. Fire away,” Christen replied. 

“I heard that you’re possibly thinking about not signing with Gotham next season,” Cindy murmured. “And I guess I was just wondering where you’re planning on playing.”

Christen went still, completely floored by the information and the question. She was easily in one of the best stretches of her career. Post-Olympics, she had been named Gotham’s captain alongside Becky and had been involved in all of the goals scored so far this season. She was happy at Gotham. She was thriving. So this question came completely out of left field. 

“Wait, what?” Scottie asked, her eyebrows furrowing in thought. 

“Mom, where did you hear that?” Tobin asked, stilling her hand on Christen’s shoulder. 

“Yeah, where?” Christen asked, her voice tight. 

“I think it’s called a disco,” Jeff said. “It’s a disco, right?” 

“It’s a discord,” Cindy corrected. “You two are just so busy, and I don’t want to bother you with too many questions. And I was looking at a Tweet about an interview you did, and there was a link to this discord where people talk about the NWSL pretty much all the time, so it keeps me up to date without bothering you personally,” she rambled, smiling sheepishly as Tobin’s mouth dropped open in slight shock. 

“Are you serious?” Tobin asked, her eyes widening at her mom. 

The slamming of the roof door broke through the confusion and shock between the four adults. 

Realizing it was Scottie, Christen moved the napkin from her lap and put a hand on Tobin’s shoulder. 

“Let me. She needs to hear it from me that I’m not going anywhere,” Christen murmured. 

“Of course,” Tobin nodded, reaching up to squeeze Christen’s hand. 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Christen affirmed, leaning down to kiss Tobin’s forehead gently before moving across the roof to the door. 

“Maybe text me next time and stay off the discord,” Tobin grumbled, taking a sip of her wine as she watched Christen disappear down the stairs. 

“They have an entire channel dedicated to Christen’s biceps,” Cindy hummed. “Discord is a wild ride.”

Christen hesitantly made her way down the hall towards Scottie’s room, cringing at the pile of Gotham jerseys and memorabilia sitting in front of Scottie’s closed bedroom door.  She knocked gently on the door and let out a long breath. 

“Sweetheart?” Christen called out softly. 

“Go away,” Scottie muttered from behind the closed door as she paced across her room. “Play somewhere else.”

“Can I come in so we can talk about this?”

“Mommy won’t let me have a lock on my door yet, so you can do whatever you want,” Scottie sighed, sinking onto the edge of her bed. 

Christen dropped her forehead to the wood of the door. “I’m not coming in unless you say I can. But I’d really like to so I can explain.”

Scottie spun the bracelet around her wrist, the one she hadn’t taken off since getting it on Christmas morning. It had become a habit to touch it or spin it around her wrist when she was nervous or just felt like she needed a little extra luck or love. “Okay,” she mumbled quietly. 

Christen gently pushed open the door and joined Scottie on the bed. “I’m not leaving Gotham,” Christen said softly, putting her hand between them for Scottie to take.

“Why would Grandma say that, then?” Scottie asked, already threading her fingers with Christen’s and holding on tightly. 

“There are always transfer rumors, especially around this time of year. But I’m not going to another team, okay?” Christen replied.

“You’re staying here?” Scottie asked, looking up at Christen with wide, pleading eyes. 

Christen nodded, a reassuring smile making its way onto her face. “I am,” Christen said with gentle conviction.

“That’s good ‘cause I-” Scottie worried her bottom lip between her teeth the same way Tobin did, thinking of the best way to say the things she’d been feeling for a while. “I don’t just want you around for a little bit.”

“What do you mean, sweetheart?” Christen asked, running her thumb along the back of Scottie’s hand.

“I don’t think only a year or two is enough,” Scottie whispered, swallowing the lump that had slowly been rising in her throat since Tobin’s mom had mentioned the rumor about Christen not playing for Gotham. “I don’t want you to only be here for a little bit and then leave.”

Christen hummed in realization. This went further than what team she played for, beyond whatever she did between the lines on the soccer field. This was about them and the family they’d created between them. It was about their little bubble of happiness that they lived in, together.

“And I know you say you won’t leave, but I just thought you should know that. Because I don’t know how long you want to be around, but I’d like it to be a long time,” Scottie added softly, her voice somewhat wobbly. 

Christen took a deep breath, preparing herself to answer. Just like it always was, whatever she chose to say to Scottie would hold an enormous amount of weight. Whatever promises she made, Scottie would remember them and hold them close to her heart. 

“I’ve made you a lot of promises, Scottie Heath,” Christen began, making sure her words stayed soft yet strong. “I promised to always come back. I promised to never leave-”

“You promised to always share the last piece of garlic bread with me,” Scottie reminded her with a tiny smile. 

Christen chuckled and reached up to poke the tip of Scottie’s nose, making her scrunch her face up adorably.

“See? I’ve promised you a lot of very important things. And right now I’m going to promise you one more.”

“What’s that?” Scottie asked, looking up at Christen with the softest expression Christen had ever seen. 

“I promise that I want to stay. That I want to be here longer than a year or two. I want to be here for a really, really long time because I love you and I love your mom and I love the life we have together, the three of us,” Christen replied, her voice growing thick with emotion as a familiar sting started in the corners of her eyes.

“I really love our life too,” Scottie admitted, scooting closer on the bed. “And you’re really important. I’m sorry I got dramatic,” she added sheepishly. 

Christen laughed softly. “It’s okay. Do you feel better? Do you have any more questions?”

“I have other important things to say, but Mommy told me to make sure I was really ready to say them, so I can wait,” Scottie said quietly. 

“Whenever you’re ready, sweetheart, I’ll be here,” Christen hummed, leaning forward to kiss the crown of Scottie’s head.

“Why do people lie on the internet?” Scottie asked, scrunching her eyebrows and wrapping her arms around Christen’s waist. 

Christen laughed again, pulling Scottie in close. “That’s one of the world’s greatest mysteries. I honestly have no idea.”

“You’ll tell us if you ever have to go somewhere else?” Scottie asked. 

Christen tightened her arms around Scottie and put her chin on the top of Scottie’s head. 

“If something like that with my career ever comes up, I won’t just tell you about it. The three of us will talk and decide what’s best for all of us, not just me.”

“Because I can go to school anywhere,” Scottie whispered, leaning her head into Christen’s shoulder.  

Realizing Scottie meant that she and Tobin would move with her if she ever got traded, Christen let out a shaky breath. 

“Let’s not worry about that until we have to, okay? But thank you,” Christen murmured.

“We can go back upstairs. Grandma brought dessert, and maybe we should get the disco off her phone,” Scottie said, pressing a kiss to Christen’s cheek. 

“I bet you Tobin already deleted it,” Christen chuckled, getting up from the bed and holding a hand out for Scottie to take. “Dessert sounds like a great idea, though.”

“Oh, let me put my jerseys away before Mommy says it’s messy,” Scottie added, racing to the door and grabbing the Gotham gear to put back into her dresser. 

“Okay, I’m not calling offsides, but I’m offsides,” Christen whispered, tugging Tobin out of the living room and toward the stairs.

“What’s up?” Tobin asked, keeping her voice down so that the two nine-year-old girls, still dressed in their Gotham gear and talking about the game, wouldn’t hear. 

“What am I doing wrong?” Christen wondered, leaning to look around Tobin, her eyes landing on Gemma and Scottie.

“What do you mean? You’re perfect. You’re always great with Scottie. This is no different,” Tobin said, her eyebrows scrunching together. 

“Every time I try to talk to Gemma or ask her a question or come within five feet of her, she clams right up or runs away,” Christen sighed, running her hands over her head in frustration. “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

A huge smile spread across Tobin’s face at Christen’s unnecessary worrying. She reached out and took Christen’s hands in her own, unable to stop the chuckle that slightly slipped from her lips. 

“She’s starstruck,” Tobin said simply. 

“By whom?” Christen asked, her forehead furrowing. “It’s been hours since she’s seen Crystal.”

“By you,” Tobin laughed. 

Christen balked at the suggestion. “Me?”

“Baby, her dad asked for your autograph when he dropped her off this afternoon. You should have seen his face when I told him you were already at the stadium. They’re mega fans, and she’s completely starstruck by you,” Tobin hummed, looking over her shoulder at the couch where Scottie was giving Gemma some movie options. 

“But I’m just- I’m me ,” Christen stuttered, shaking her head slightly. 

“I know that, and Scottie knows that, but she doesn’t live with you and see how sleepy you are in the morning or hear you try to sing,” Tobin smirked. 

Christen rolled her eyes and looked back at Tobin. “Hey, my rendition of Waterfalls by TLC isn’t half bad,” Christen chuckled, feeling a little bit better now. 

“Maybe she’ll be less starstruck if you sing it for her,” Tobin laughed. 

“You think you’re so cute,” Christen said, her eyes narrowing playfully at the teasing tone in Tobin’s voice.

“Baby, she’ll get used to it. She and Scottie seem close already, which means she’ll come over again. The more she sees you, the less weird she’ll be,” Tobin said softly. 

Christen leaned to look around Tobin again and let out a small sigh. “If it doesn’t get better in an hour, we’re doing karaoke.”

“Why don’t we bake cookies? That’s a sure way to make her think of you as a pa- Scottie’s Christen,” Tobin suggested, her heart racing and her eyes widening a little bit when she realized she almost said the word parent on accident. 

Christen’s stomach tightened just a bit as Tobin stumbled over her words. She fixed a smile on her face and pressed a kiss to Tobin’s cheek, hopefully assuaging the slight panic she could see on Tobin’s face. 

“Let’s do it,” Christen replied. “Once she realizes I can’t bake, I’ll fall from grace quickly.”

“You’re good at setting timers,” Tobin offered with a smile. 

“Gemma and I are gonna make a pillow castle,” Scottie said, sneaking a cookie from the plate on the counter. “So, you guys don’t have to watch the movie with us.”

“Okay, I guess we’ll take the cookies upstairs, then,” Tobin teased, picking up the plate. 

“No!” Scottie giggled.

“I guess we can share,” Tobin winked, grabbing a plate and putting a few cookies on it for her and Christen to take upstairs. 

“Thank you for baking us cookies,” Gemma said quietly, offering Tobin a smile.

“I just supervised. Chris baked these cookies,” Tobin said. 

Gemma’s eyes grew wide and she turned to look at Christen, a surprised look on her face. 

“Oh- um- thank you,” Gemma stammered, blushing profusely.

Christen offered Gemma a warm smile. “You’re welcome, Gemma. I hope you like them. I added extra chocolate chips,” she added with a wink.

Scottie tugged at Gemma’s shirt, pulling her toward the couch. 

“Why are you being weird? It’s just Christen,” Scottie murmured, ready to start the movie. 

“She knows my name ,” Gemma whispered back, an awestruck look on her face. “Christen Press knows my name.”

“It’s literally just Christen,” Scottie repeated with an eye roll. 

Christen hid her laugh behind her hand, leaning into Tobin’s side. “Scottie’s good for my ego,” she whispered.

“She’ll always keep you grounded. We’ve been relegated to the third floor too. Sleepovers bruise parent egos,” Tobin mumbled, picking up their plate of cookies and heading to the stairs. 

“Does it always feel a little like a rejection? Like are we not cool enough to watch a movie with?” Christen chuckled, following Tobin to the third floor.

“Every single time,” Tobin nodded. “Just wait until she’s a teenager and it’s daily.”

“How are we ever going to survive?” Christen sighed, a teasing lilt in her voice.

Tobin led them into her bedroom, shutting the door behind Christen and locking it. She then crossed the room and put the plate of cookies on Christen’s bedside table. 

“On the bright side, when she has a friend over, we can watch whatever we want without worrying about giving her nightmares. We can just worry about giving me nightmares,” Tobin grinned. 

“Or...and this is just me spitballing here,” Christen replied, moving to Tobin’s side and looping her arms around Tobin’s neck with a smile. “I get you out of these clothes…”

“ much as I love that idea, there are two children downstairs with little respect for boundaries,” Tobin laughed. 

Christen laughed as well, shaking her head just a bit as her smile grew. “I was going to offer you a massage.”

“I didn’t play ninety minutes today,” Tobin said. 

“Doesn’t mean you don’t deserve one,” Christen hummed, toying with the baby hairs at the base of Tobin’s neck.

“Have I told you that you’re amazing?” Tobin asked, running her hands up and down Christen’s sides. 

Christen nodded and leaned in, capturing Tobin’s lips in a soft kiss, intent on getting this massage started. 

“We need to talk about something really serious first, though,” Tobin said, leaning back to look at Christen. 

Christen felt her brows furrow, all thoughts of the massage and getting Tobin undressed put on hold. 

“That’s gotta go,” Tobin said, pointing at the suitcase that had been sitting in the corner of the room, opened and piled with Christen’s clothes. 

“Oh, sorry. I can shove it in the closet if you don’t want the clutter,” Christen said with a small grimace.

“No,” Tobin said softly. “Clutter isn’t the issue at all.”

“It’s not? Umm, okay I don’t get it,” Christen huffed out a laugh. “What’s the issue then?”

“I like that you use one of my drawers now and that you’ve invaded the closet a little, but I just don’t see how this, living out of a suitcase, is comfortable for you,” Tobin replied, trying not to get antsy or nervous as she spoke. “You’re here more than at your place, and I like it that way, but I don’t want you to have the roof and nothing else as your space.”

“Are you asking me what I think you’re asking me? Or are we just talking about another drawer or two?” Christen clarified, a small, shy smile on her face, her stomach aflutter with nerves and excitement.

“I was thinking a dresser. We can get one that matches or just a bigger one for us, if you want,” Tobin shrugged. “I just don’t want you to come home from trips to a place that doesn’t feel like it’s your space too...if that makes sense. I’m not saying get rid of your place at all. It’s too early for that. I’m-”

Christen interrupted the adorable rambling, pulling Tobin in for a long, slow kiss. She put everything she was feeling, every bit of nervousness and excitement into the kiss.

“Okay,” Christen whispered against Tobin’s lips. “A dresser sounds perfect.”

“Okay,” Tobin mumbled back, letting out the breath that she’d been holding. 

“This always feels like home though, with you and Scottie here,” Christen added softly.

“Good. I want it to because we want you here all the time. I just want you to know that you can bring whatever you want, whatever makes home even homier,” Tobin hummed, running her thumb over Christen’s cheekbone. 

“Well...home is definitely wherever you are,” Christen replied with a smile. “And wherever there are clothes on the floor,” she whispered, her hands falling to the hem of Tobin’s t-shirt and tugging it up and off, throwing it onto the floor behind her.