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Dame with eyes of green
Legs lie soft on the sand beside the sea
With tilted shades, beaming eyes they looked at me

...

But, ooo I love it
When you talk to me like you do
Oh, my lady by the sea
Come and lie next to me
Oh, my lady by the sea
Come and lie next to me
Your voice it blooms the flowers on the beach
With lips that glisten in the moonlight every time you speak

...

But, luckily, luckily she's got her eyes on me

(Tobin - "Lady by the Sea" by Stephen Sanchez)

A great big bang and dinosaurs
Fiery raining meteors
It all ends unfortunately

But you're gonna live forever in me
I'll guarantee, just wait and see

Parts of me were made by you
And planets keep their distance too
The moon's got a grip on the sea

And you're gonna live forever in me
I guarantee, it's your destiny

Life is full of sweet mistakes
And love's an honest one to make
Time leaves no fruit on the tree

But you're gonna live forever in me
I guarantee, it's just meant to be

(Christen - "You're Gonna Live Forever in Me" by John Mayer)

 

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Scottie said, holding up the project she’d been working on for the past month. It was finally the last week of school, and Scottie was incredibly antsy to be finished with fourth grade and starting Development Academy soccer again. 

Her family tree consisted of photographs of each and every Heath family member. She and Tobin had painted a tree on a canvas, and while Tobin was biased, she had to admit that the tree had turned out pretty cool. After it had dried, Scottie had pasted the photographs onto the canvas, placing them on branches, so that her aunts and uncles and cousins were with one another. Above her own picture, she’d put Tobin’s, and just to the right of Tobin’s, she’d put a picture of Christen. She’d finished the entire piece by spraying it with a sealer spray to keep the pictures stuck to the canvas and the paint shiny. 

Christen looked up from her book, her fingers still tracing along Tobin’s palm that resting in her lap. She narrowed her eyes, noticing a picture to the right of Tobin’s.

“Is that me?” Christen asked, closing the book and setting it aside.

“Yep, Mommy almost has as many pictures of you on her camera as she has of me,” Scottie grinned, looking at the picture and then back at Christen and Tobin. 

Christen shot Tobin an amused look and then looked back at Scottie, her heart quickening in her chest at the fact that she’d been included on Scottie’s family tree. It wasn’t something she’d expected in the slightest. But as surprised as she was, she was also incredibly moved.

“I didn’t know you were going to put me on the tree,” Christen murmured softly, her throat getting a little thick with the emotion of the moment.

“It’s a family tree, silly,” Scottie grinned. “You’re family...right?” 

“Right,” Christen replied quickly, not wanting Scottie to doubt that for even a second. “Thank you, sweetheart. And thank you for picking such a nice picture of me,” she added with a laugh, loving that the one Scottie selected was of her and Scottie at the Olympics, smiling for the camera as they sat in a pile of confetti.

“I hope Ms. Hubbard lets us take them back after she grades them. I want to hang it in my room,” Scottie said, leaning the canvas against the wall now that she was finished presenting it. 

“You did a really good job, little bit,” Tobin said, catching Christen’s hand in her own and squeezing it gently. 

“Best looking family tree I’ve ever seen,” Christen agreed. She patted the bed by her side and motioned for Scottie to join them. “What are you doing standing all the way over there?” she asked with a wink.

Scottie took a running start toward the bed and flopped onto it, narrowly missing Christen’s legs. “Gosh, I love a good cuddle puddle,” she mumbled, sinking her face into the pillows next to Christen. 

“Me too, Scottie Heath. Me too,” Christen hummed, reaching down with her free hand to grab her book.

“Me three,” Tobin mumbled, sinking back into the position she’d been in before Scottie asked to present her family tree. She pressed her face against Christen’s arm, breathing in the comforting smells of honeysuckle and jasmine and Christen. She wrapped her arm over Christen’s waist and pressed kisses to Christen’s arm, her eyes fluttering shut. 


“Hey!” Kelley called, jogging down the hall of the stadium to catch up with Christen, the team having finished a grueling training session not too long ago. 

Christen paused and turned around, readjusting her purse on her shoulder as she offered Kelley a tight smile.

“Hey,” she replied.

“You’re trying to leave without your Wednesday apology cookie,” Kelley said, digging through her bag for the cookie she’d picked up for Christen. 

“I’ve told you twenty times not to bring me anything. You don’t need to keep apologizing. It’s fine,” Christen assured, crossing her arms over her chest.

“So...what should I do with the three Frozen on ice tickets I bought?” Kelley mumbled, holding three tickets out to Christen as soon as she grabbed them from her bag. 

Christen cracked a smile and shook her head. “Kel, you don’t need to buy our forgiveness. There's nothing to forgive anymore.”

“Okay, fine. One more, and then I’m done. I’m sorry I lost it after Emily decided not to be with me and put you in a situation that could have been bad for you and Tar Heel and Mini Tar Heel. You can pass that on to Tobin, but I sent her a fruit basket already that should have gotten to her house this morning,” Kelley said with a dorky smile. 

“We survived it, and we’re better for it. All three of us...so please stop feeling bad. I’m always going to be here for you...just maybe next time plan to have a complete breakdown when Tobin’s actually in town? That way Scottie won’t have to go on any more late night field trips to Midtown,” Christen chuckled.

“I can do that,” Kelley laughed. 

“Have you talked to her?” Christen asked, offering Kelley a sympathetic half-smile.

“I mean, after the initial fight about her rejecting Gotham’s offer and choosing to go to Houston instead, she tried to call a few times. I just...I don’t really want to talk to her. I- I’m weak. It’s been two months, and I’m still weak for her, and I know that if she apologized or asked to keep doing some distance thing, I’d give in. But I don’t want to give in. I want what you have...maybe minus the kid because I’m not as mature as you are,” Kelley rambled. 

Christen laughed and pulled Kelley in for a hug, giving one of her oldest and best friends a tight squeeze. 

“You deserve to feel this happy. You’ll find your Tar Heel, I know it,” Christen promised. 

“Hopefully not a real Tar Heel, though. ‘Cause...ew. I was drunker than I’ve ever been that night, but I remember that UNC sweatshirt you were wearing. If the alcohol hadn’t done it, that sweatshirt alone would have made me throw up,” Kelley teased, always in the mood to rib Tobin about her alma mater. 

With another laugh, Christen pulled out of the embrace. “I’ll see you and Brun and Crys for family dinner tomorrow, right? Scottie’s very excited for everyone to try broccoli and ketchup.”

“I’m down for broccoli and ketchup, and I’m excited to see my favorite kid,” Kelley said, walking alongside Christen as they made their way to the parking lot. 

“She’s excited for Academy to start so she can see everyone more often,” Christen replied, falling into step with Kelley,

“She’s getting too good for Academy,” Kelley smirked. 

“I know. Tobin and I have been looking at competitive teams in Manhattan she could play for. But Tobin wants to drive her to and from Jersey so she can play for PDA,” Christen laughed.

“Of course she does. Honestly, I think you should let Tobin win that argument since we both know Scottie’s gonna shatter her heart when she chooses Stanford,” Kelley chuckled. 

“Oh my god! Is that Christen Press!?” Tobin yelled across the parking lot, laughing at the surprised look on Christen’s face. 

“Dude, you’ve got a mega-fan. Gotta watch out for those. Want me to call security?” Kelley teased, pulling her car keys out of her bag.

“I think I can handle her,” Christen teased right back. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Kel.”

“See ya! Bye, Tar Heel!” 

Christen crossed the parking lot as fast as her tired legs would allow, immediately pulling Tobin in for a long hug once she reached her. 

“I have the car. How the hell did you get here?” Christen asked with a laugh, pressing her face against the side of Tobin’s neck.

“It was a kind of pricey Uber, but I really missed you,” Tobin mumbled, wrapping her arms completely around Christen and holding her close. 

“I missed you too, you dork,” Christen replied with a smile. She dropped a lingering kiss on Tobin’s neck and ran her fingers through the soft waves at the back of Tobin’s head. 

“I’m hoping I can get a ride home,” Tobin grinned, pressing a kiss to Christen’s temple. 

With a laugh, Christen pulled away from Tobin’s neck. “I think that could be arranged.”

Tobin feigned wiping non-existent sweat off her forehead, making Christen laugh easily. “We can get home and maybe shower before we pick Scottie up from school.”

“You do know I just showered right?” Christen asked with an amused smile.

“Ooookay, it doesn’t have to be shower sex,” Tobin smirked, opening the passenger door of her car for Christen. 

Christen stepped into Tobin’s space and kissed her softly, holding Tobin’s chin gently.

“I never said I wouldn’t shower again,” Christen winked, kissing Tobin once more before hopping into the car.

“Have I mentioned that I love you yet today?”Tobin asked after she climbed into the driver’s seat and turned the car on. 

Christen beamed and leaned across the center console to kiss Tobin again, just because she could.

“Yes, a few times. Have I mentioned that I love you yet today?” Christen asked, repeating the same question and knowing full well she already had.

“I lost count after the sixth time you said it this morning,” Tobin winked, letting Dad Rock play in the car as she pulled out of the parking lot and started driving toward Manhattan. 

Christen leaned her head against the headrest and gazed over at Tobin, her fingertips tracing circles into the fabric of Tobin’s jeans. 

“You ever think you’ll get tired of hearing me say it?” Christen asked with a soft smile on her face.

“Absolutely not,” Tobin said, glancing over at Christen before focusing on the road. 

“Good. Because I love you,” Christen replied.

“I love you too,” Tobin hummed. 


“Do you need water?” Tobin asked, smirking like she always did when she knew she’d done a good job. 

Christen half-heartedly flipped Tobin off as she caught her breath. “Stop smirking. I can hear it in your voice,” Christen replied, her voice a little breathy.

“I’m not. I just feel really lucky. I’m really happy,” Tobin mumbled, folding her arms across Christen’s chest and resting her chin on her forearm. 

Christen lifted her arm away from her eyes and looked down at Tobin, a smile playing at her lips. She ran her thumb along the smirk Tobin clearly wore.

“Happily smirking,” Christen teased. 

Tobin pressed a soft kiss to Christen’s chest and nodded. “Extremely happy.”

“Me too,” Christen hummed, tracing the smile lines at the corners of Tobin’s mouth. “But I will say...sex after shower sex defeats the purpose of the shower,” she chuckled.

“Not if you’re planning on more shower sex after Scottie goes to bed,” Tobin mumbled. 

“God bless our water bill,” Christen teased.

“Worth it,” Tobin muttered. 

Christen pulled Tobin up and off her chest, reconnecting their lips in a slow, languid kiss. They didn’t have too much time, with it already being almost two. But they had enough to linger for a few more moments, and Christen took advantage of that.

But eventually, they had to get out of bed and put clothes on, gracefully moving around one another in a coordinated, familiar dance as they got dressed to go pick Scottie up from school. 

Christen slipped Tobin’s UNC sweatshirt on over her head, despite it being unseasonably warm outside.

“Have you decided when you want your Scottie day?” Tobin asked softly, moving around Christen to get her own clothes. 

“I was thinking after the first Academy training,” Christen admitted with a small blush as she tugged her curls into a messy bun. “Maybe we would go to the park or get some ice cream or something.”

“That’s very poetic,” Tobin hummed, pressing a kiss to the side of Christen’s neck after pulling on a pair of joggers. 

“She told me she first knew I was important to her on the first day of Academy training two years ago. So...me telling her that I’m ready for the whole ‘Momma’ label feels like it should happen on the first day of Academy training too.”

“You’re very sweet,” Tobin said with a smile as she tugged on a t-shirt. 

“I just want it to go well,” Christen admitted, turning around to lean against the dresser, pulling at the hem of Tobin’s t-shirt nervously.

“She’s been waiting for you to have this conversation with her for seven months,” Tobin said, raising an eyebrow at Christen. “I think it will go well.”

“On some level, I’m with you. It’s...it’s Scottie and me. It’ll be great. But I just want her to feel comfortable with this too. Calling me that. I mean, you and I aren’t even married or anything. So I just don’t want to move too fast for her,” Christen rambled, toying with Tobin’s t-shirt. 

“She’ll tell you if she isn’t. And...for the record, I’m intending on doing that,” Tobin whispered. 

Christen’s eyes lifted to meet Tobin’s, her heart fluttering in her chest as her stomach flipped.

“Someday?” Christen asked, the hope she felt in her heart making her voice soft and her eyes shine a brighter green than ever before.

“Someday,” Tobin nodded, loving the woman in front of her even more than she had five minutes ago, her love growing and growing every single moment. 

Christen smiled and leaned forward to kiss Tobin sweetly, pouring every bit of love and hope she had about someday into the kiss.

“Go brush your hair, my love,” Christen murmured, kissing Tobin once more before pushing Tobin towards the bathroom. “I messed it up a little bit when I was on top,” she added with a wink.

Tobin smirked again, coming back to press another kiss to Christen’s lips before she relented and made her way into the bathroom. She’d hardly picked up the hairbrush when her phone started ringing on her bedside table. 

“Baby, will you get that?” Tobin called, running the brush through her tangled hair, the blush still on her cheeks from talking about getting married someday, a someday that felt soon for her, a someday that felt like it had already started. 

Christen padded across the hardwood floor and grabbed Tobin’s phone from the bedside table. 

“It’s the school,” Christen called back. “Do you want it?”

“You can answer. Unless you want me to,” Tobin said, peeking her head out of the bathroom and watching Christen’s facial expressions to see if that was okay. 

With a smile, Christen picked up the call, meeting Tobin’s gaze as she did so. A smile that faltered when she heard the principal’s voice on the other line.


“I know it wasn’t all Scottie, but she is the one who said ‘Go to hell,’” the principal sighed, steepling her hands in front of her as she stared at Tobin, Scottie, and Christen, all seated on the other side of her desk. 

“Did you ask her what the other kids did?” Tobin asked, keeping an arm around the back of Scottie’s chair as she listened to the principal. 

“She did but she didn’t listen to me,” Scottie mumbled, her arms crossed over her chest as she stared out the window.

“I gave the other kids a talking to, but there is no excuse for cursing,” the principal said, her voice firm. 

“They shouldn’t have been mean to me,” Scottie protested, her bottom lip starting to tremble.

Christen ran her hand up and down Scottie’s back soothingly, reaching her other hand into her pocket, pulling out the ‘ Scottie ’ handkerchief, and handing it over to Scottie.

“What did they say to you?” Tobin asked, turning her attention to Scottie and away from the principal. 

“They made fun of my family tree,” Scottie whispered, wiping her eyes with the handkerchief. 

“That sounds like bullying to me,” Tobin said, looking up at the principal with a clenched jaw and fierce eyes. 

The principal met Tobin’s gaze head-on. “Like I said, I already spoke to the other kids and disciplinary actions are being explored. But we have-”

“You didn’t have the other kids’ parents come into school,” Tobin said matter-of-factly. “You haven’t done anything this whole school year, and Scottie’s teacher and I have already talked about the bullying, so I know it was noticeable.”

“Homophobic bullying,” Christen whispered under her breath, taking the handkerchief from Scottie once Scottie was done.

“They made fun of my family, my Mommy, and my Christen,” Scottie murmured, looking up with watery eyes at her principal. 

“For a school that boasts diversity, you’re really not doing a great job of protecting your students who don’t come from heteronormative families, and I’d say that there’s even less of an excuse for this kind of bullying than for cursing,” Tobin said, her heart aching as Scottie sniffled. 

The principal sat back with a long sigh, her hard shell seemingly cracked. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I will speak to Naomi’s and Simon’s parents. I don’t believe they’re a good fit for this school if these are the sorts of things they’re teaching their children. I’m sorry it got this out of hand,” the principal said, her words apologetic. 

“Can I have my tree back?” Scottie asked, slumping in her seat, despite the principal’s change of tune.

“Of course, Scottie,” the principal replied softly. “Do you think you could wait outside so I can speak to your parents for a moment?”

“Are they in trouble?” Scottie asked, staying seated until she knew things were okay. 

The principal laughed and shook her head. “No, I just want to talk to them about some things for next year.”

“We’ll be right out,” Tobin said, ruffling Scottie’s hair gently. 

Christen leaned over and kissed Scottie’s forehead. “Hold onto this for me until we get out there, okay?” Christen asked, handing Scottie the  handkerchief back.

“Okay,” Scottie said, slipping from her chair and leaving the room. 

Once Scottie had shut the door, the principal looked back at Tobin and Christen, an apologetic grimace on her face.

“I truly am sorry for not stepping in sooner.”

“I thought I’d keep Scottie here until high school, but if next year is like this year, I can’t do that,” Tobin said honestly. 

“I understand. I will do everything in my power to ensure next year is different. And speaking of next year, if you choose to stay, I need to update the paperwork. Might as well do it while I have you both here,” the principal replied, pulling some files from her drawer.

“What do you mean?” Christen asked, looking over at Tobin for the answer.

“They want you as an emergency contact,” Tobin said softly, her heart fluttering a little more. 

“You’ll be listed on the paperwork as someone who can call her in sick, take her out of school for appointments, someone we’ll call if she needs a parent. You’ll also be added to the school text chain for inclement weather information,” the principal added. 

Christen was a little stunned, blinking rapidly as she tried to wrap her head around this.

“If that’s okay...Tobin mentioned it when she dropped Scottie off a couple days ago,” the principal said, holding out a clipboard of paperwork for Christen. 

“Sorry, I meant for next year. I didn’t think you’d get ambushed today. You don’t have to,” Tobin said under her breath. 

Christen softened and shook her head, reaching out to grab ahold of Tobin’s hand. “I know I don't have to. But I want to,” she said softly. Christen gave Tobin’s hand a quick squeeze and then she reached out for the clipboard to start filling out the paperwork, her hand shaking slightly with excitement and wonder as she did.

Tobin slid into Scottie’s abandoned seat and put her arm around the back of Christen’s chair, knowing the magnitude of this moment for Christen and wanting to be close if she needed. 

“And I just...sign at the bottom?” Christen asked in a slightly trembling voice, the shaking pen held above the signature line.

“Yep, just sign, and we’ll put it into our computers here,” the principal nodded. 

Christen had signed her name thousands of times. On jerseys, on posters, on someone’s bra once. She’d signed her names for thousands of reasons. But no signature before now had ever held the weight this one would. Signing her name on this piece of paper made every other signature she’d ever done pale in comparison. 

As she completed the loop of the ‘P’ in her last name, she felt Tobin’s hand squeeze her hip, a silent reminder that she wasn’t alone.

“Here you go,” Christen murmured, handing the clipboard back to the principal, hoping the handful of tears in her eyes weren’t noticeable. 

“Fantastic,” the principal said, taking the clipboard and setting it down on her desk. “Again, I am sorry about calling you in and about Scottie’s experiences this past year. She’s incredibly bright and creative, and our school would miss out if we didn’t have her.”

Tobin tried not to roll her eyes at the slight groveling. Instead, she tried to take it as a genuine statement. Scottie was bright and creative and kind and talented. She was spectacular, and Tobin didn’t need someone else to tell her that, even if it was sometimes nice to hear. 

“She’s the best, and I really hope you guys start to see that,” Christen replied, speaking up for the first time in response to something the principal said.

“Of course,” the principal hurried to say, picking up the canvas that she had behind her desk and handing Scottie’s family tree to Christen. 

Christen hesitated, unsure why the canvas was being offered to her. But after a brief second, she took the canvas with a tight smile.

“Will you be keeping us updated on the conversations with the other parents?” Christen asked, unafraid to use her voice now that she’d found it.

“I will,” the principal nodded. “Why don’t I call you both next Friday?” 

“We’ll look forward to hearing from you,” Tobin said, ready to leave the office and get to Scottie. 

“If we don’t hear from you, you’ll hear from us,” Christen added, standing up and taking Tobin’s hand, walking them and Scottie’s canvas to the door.

“Protective you is spicy,” Tobin whispered, as soon as the door closed. 

“I had so much more I wanted to say,” Christen gritted out. “But it didn’t feel like my place.”

“It’s your place,” Tobin mumbled, “and if we don’t hear from her on Friday, you’re welcome to say anything you want when we call.”

“The gloves will come off next time,” Christen whispered with a teasing smile.

“You got my tree,” Scottie said, a tiny smile spreading across her face. 

Christen handed Scottie the canvas and smoothed her hand over Scottie’s hair. “Nobody can take this away from you, sweetheart,” Christen replied softly, her words holding conviction. 

“Can we go home?” Scottie asked quietly, clutching the canvas close. 

Christen looked to Tobin, smiling softly as she waited for Tobin to answer for the two of them. 

“Sure, little bit. I think we should go home and order some Gio’s tonight,” Tobin suggested, wanting Scottie’s eyes to be bright again. 

“We can even get extra garlic bread,” Christen added.

“Cool,” Scottie said, offering a tiny smile but not much else before leading the way out of school. 

“You know what else I think we need, Scottie Heath?” Christen asked, holding tightly to Scottie’s hand.

“What’s that?” Scottie asked, scuffing her sneakers as she walked. 

“A pillow castle and Frozen II ,” Christen replied with a smile.

“Or a Frozen marathon,” Tobin suggested, shooting a smile over to Christen. 

“We can do that,” Scottie said, focusing on the sidewalk in front of them and not on the two adults walking beside her. 

Thinking back on the tickets Kelley offered her, Christen decided to throw them in the mix as well, just wanting Scottie to feel better. 

“Or, after we watch all the Frozen ’s, we could go see Frozen on Ice,” Christen offered, sending Tobin a small apologetic look about not having mentioned this earlier. “And we can wear our matching Frozen Mickey ears when we go.”

“Where they ice skate?” Scottie asked, her eyebrows crinkling together. 

“Yeah, exactly,” Christen confirmed with a nod.

“That sounds like fun,” Tobin said, squeezing Scottie’s shoulder. 

“Only if you want to, sweetheart. We don’t have to go anywhere tonight if you want to stay home,” Christen offered, letting out a small sigh of relief at Tobin’s smile of gratitude that she sent her direction.

“Maybe,” Scottie hummed. “Maybe napping will help. Mommy naps when she’s sad.” 

“Why don’t we all get comfy on the couch and talk about your day and how you’re feeling,” Tobin suggested quietly. 

“I guess,” Scottie mumbled.

Tobin shot a look at Christen, one of worry and slight sadness for the mood that Scottie was in, for the way Scottie’s shoulder slumped. She quickly unlocked the door to the house and let them all in. 

“I’m making a super secret drink. Do you guys want one,” Tobin asked, watching Scottie intently. 

Before Christen could answer, Scottie was setting the canvas aside, throwing her backpack down, and sighing. 

“I’m okay, thanks though,” Scottie replied, walking over to the couch and collapsing, face-first, onto it.

“What did they say?” Tobin asked point-blank, following closely behind Scottie. 

Scottie shrugged and kept her face pushed against the couch cushion.

“You know what they said. You’re my daughter, which means those words are spinning around in your head on repeat right now,” Tobin continued. 

Christen sat down next to Tobin on the couch and wrapped an arm around Tobin’s waist, hoping her touch could help keep Tobin calm as they waited for Scottie to speak up. 

“I can’t say it,” Scottie mumbled.

“Why not?” Tobin asked. 

“Because I have to be patient,” Scottie replied, finally lifting her head up from the couch and looking at where Tobin and Christen sat nearby. She flicked her eyes over at Christen and then looked back at Tobin, hoping her mom got the message.

“You want to whisper it to me so that it’s out of your head?” Tobin asked gently. 

Reading the looks between Tobin and Scottie, Christen got up from the couch. 

“Why don’t I go make us the super secret drinks? I’ll be right back,” Christen offered, giving Scottie a reassuring smile and Tobin’s shoulder a squeeze before walking into the kitchen, out of earshot.

“So, they said something about Christen,” Tobin murmured, scooting closer to Scottie. 

“They said she couldn’t be on my tree because she wasn’t my mom. But then I tried to explain to them that she was my Momma even if we haven’t used that word yet. And then they told me she couldn’t be because you’re not married. I tried to tell them, but they wouldn’t listen. And they were just so loud and mean and laughing at me so I- I said a bad word,” Scottie rushed out quietly, her eyes filling with tears as she buried her face back in the couch cushion.

“You don’t need to feel bad about the bad word. I probably would have said it too,” Tobin whispered. 

“I thought of, like, four worse words but I didn’t say them,” Scottie admitted, her voice muffled by the couch.

“You know that a piece of paper isn’t needed for your feelings to be real. Adoption papers and marriage papers are just paper. But the love you feel and have is what makes a family, and you love your entire family tree. That’s pretty special,” Tobin hummed. 

Scottie looked up at Tobin again, her chin propped up on the cushion as tears glistened in her eyes. 

“I just wish they believed my heart, not some stupid papers,” Scottie sighed.

“I know that’s frustrating and hurtful, little bit. And maybe someday they’ll believe; maybe they won’t. But the people who matter the most believe. Christen knows that we’re her family. We’d be on her tree,” Tobin said under her breath, glancing at Christen in the kitchen. 

“Is it bad if I want it to be officially official? Not just in my heart or yours or Christen’s?” Scottie wondered, sitting up on the couch a little bit.

“That’s not bad,” Tobin sighed. “It makes things a little easier when it’s officially official, doesn’t it?”

“Mhm. But that sounds like a someday thing to me. Right, Mommy?” Scottie asked, cocking her head to the side thoughtfully.

“Making things official sometimes takes a little bit of time, but it’s definitely something I’d like to do someday,” Tobin whispered. 

Scottie crawled across the couch toward Tobin. She crooked her finger so Tobin would lean closer to her.

“I’d like that too, Mommy,” Scottie whispered with her first genuine smile of the day.

“Good, then I think we should start thinking about super secret plans,” Tobin grinned, pressing a kiss to Scottie’s forehead. 

“I’m so good at keeping secrets like this. Just ask Mikel,” Scottie giggled, wrapping her arms around Tobin.

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” Tobin teased, holding Scottie tightly against herself. 

Scottie leaned around Tobin, looking at where Christen was moving around the kitchen making super secret drinks and humming to herself. 

“I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement,” Scottie grinned, her arms looped around Tobin’s neck.

“About?” Tobin laughed, craning her neck to look at Christen. 

“Someday,” Scottie whispered.


“I can see them,” Scottie squealed, squeezing Tobin’s and Christen’s hands. 

Christen saw them too. Tyler, Channing, Lindsey, and Mikel were waiting for them in baggage claim. 

It wasn’t exactly a spur-of-the-moment trip. She had a game against ACFC in three days, so she'd been coming to Los Angeles anyway. A day earlier than her team to get some family time. 

But then Tobin had surprised her, just like she always did. 

Christen had been sitting in the window seat of the plane, resigning herself to missing her girls when she was on her first away trip of the spring season, when she had felt someone sit next to her.

She’d looked to the side and seen Scottie and Tobin in their PRESS Gotham FC jerseys and 23 hats, matching smiles on their faces as they sat in the same row as her.

And now here they were, descending an escalator in LAX all together.

“Did she freak out?!” Channing asked, opening her arms for Scottie to run into them. 

“She was so surprised when we sat down next to her,” Scottie giggled, leaving Tobin and Christen’s sides and racing to wrap her arms around Channing.  

“She has the best surprised face,” Tyler chuckled, stealing Scottie away from Channing for a big hug. “Her mouth just hangs open for days .”

Scottie threw her head back laughing before mimicking Christen’s surprised face for Channing and Tyler, sending all three of them into a fit of giggles. 

“All right, you three,” Christen rolled her eyes, smiling as she stepped forward to greet everyone with hugs. “You’re trouble together,” she added, looking between Channing, Tyler, and Scottie.

“Cute trouble,” Scottie grinned, holding tightly to Channing and Tyler’s hands. 

“It’s good to see you guys,” Tobin said, offering everyone a hug. 

“You pack lighter this time?” Mikel teased. 

“It isn’t Christmas,” Tobin answered with a smile. 

Scottie got a mischievous smile on her face and leaned into Tyler, whispering in her ear. Tyler chuckled and nodded, standing back up. 

“What is it, cute trouble?” Christen asked, arching a brow in Scottie’s direction. 

Tyler shared a look with Scottie and then looked back at Christen, her mischievous smile matching Scottie’s.


“And look Scottie, she wore these shoes forever ,” Tyler said, pointing down at the picture in the scrapbook. “They had glitter soles and lit up when she stomped them on the ground.”

“Those are cute,” Scottie said, unable to hide her laughter at seeing little Christen in all the family photos. 

Christen just shook her head, a blush heating her cheeks. She opened up a bag of Goldfish and handed it to Scottie, who took it with a quiet ‘ thank you ,’ her attention still on the scrapbook. 

They were all sitting around the large dinner table, piles of scrapbooks spread out on top of it. Channing, Mikel, and Lindsey were showing Tobin scrapbooks from Christen’s high school years, despite her protestations. And Tyler was showing Scottie the ones from her younger years, while she just sat in the middle of it all feeling both very embarrassed and very loved. 

“That was Christen’s first girlfriend,” Channing said, pointing at a teenage Christen heading to the prom. 

“What was her name again?” Tyler asked, scrunching up her face in thought.

Both sisters tried to think, jumping through mental hoops as Christen hid her flaming cheeks behind her hands. And then they both remembered at the same time.

“Addie!” 

“Honestly, she and Tobin have a similar smile,” Channing said, looking closely at the photograph. 

“And those brown eyes,” Mikel pointed out with a chuckle.

“Christen has a type,” Lindsay teased. 

“What does she mean a type?” Scottie asked, craning her neck to see the picture Tobin was looking at. 

Christen narrowed her eyes in Lindsey’s direction. “Nothing, sweetheart,” Christen replied quickly.

“How many girlfriends did you have before Mommy?” Scottie asked, looking at Christen instead of the photo albums. 

“Oh boy,” Tobin mumbled, looking closely at the next page in the photo album that showed Christen playing soccer in high school. 

“None of them mattered as much to me as she does,” Christen replied, hoping her half-answer would be enough to quell Scottie’s interest.

“But how many?” Scottie asked, cocking her head to the side. 

“Hey, Scottie,” Tobin said, an amused lilt in her voice. “You remember how Grandma taught you not to ask adults how old they are? That’s kind of a similar question that you don’t really ask.” 

“Christen’s thirty,” Scottie said, scrunching her eyebrows together in confusion. 

Tyler snorted and hid it behind her hand after getting a warning look from Lindsey. Channing and Mikel looked similarly amused. 

Christen sighed and looked over at Scottie with a tight smile. “I had four. But again, none of them were Tobin, okay? That’s what matters.”

“Woooow,” Scottie hummed, her mouth flopping open a little. “So five counting Mommy?” 

“Yep,” Christen grimaced, silently cursing her sisters.

“How?” Scottie gasped. “I’ve had one, and Yates was exhausting!” 

Everyone around the table laughed at Scottie’s response. Christen was more amused by the situation now, especially since Tobin had dropped her hand to her knee and was rubbing soothing circles into her skin. 

“The wrong ones are always exhausting,” Christen replied, smiling at Scottie. 

“Mommy’s had five. Six including you, so you don’t need to blush,” Scottie grinned, tossing Tobin under the bus immediately. 

“Ooookay, I wouldn’t call all five of those women ex-girlfriends,” Tobin spluttered. 

“What would you call them? Flings? I learned that word from Auntie Pinoe,” Scottie replied, her teasing smile aimed in Tobin’s direction now.

Tobin swallowed thickly, feeling the blush spread across her cheeks. 

“Megan isn’t allowed to spend time with you anymore,” Tobin huffed. 

“I love it when you guys visit,” Channing declared, looking around the table at the smiles on everyone’s faces.

“And we love visiting,” Scottie beamed. “Especially because you guys have a beach and dogs and a pool. And we love you.”

“We love you too,” Tyler replied, ruffling Scottie’s hair. 


“Chan, will you grab the wine? I’ll grab Ty,” Christen called out, slipping on Tobin’s UNC sweatshirt since it was going to get chilly once the sun went down.

“Already on it,” Channing said, pulling on her own sweater as she jogged down the stairs. 

Christen left Tobin and Scottie in the guest room, reading the next chapter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and headed down the hall to Tyler and Lindsey’s room.

“Hey,” Christen said, knocking on the door and poking her head in.

“Hey, I’m almost ready!” Tyler called from her closet where she was grabbing a pair of sneakers. 

“Sunset won’t wait for ya,” Christen teased, heading back down the hall and down the stairs to the backyard. 

She joined Channing on the grassy hill overlooking the ocean that sat on the edge of their property, getting comfortable on a blanket Channing had set out.

“I’m so curious about this family meeting,” Channing grinned, already sipping from her metal wine cup. 

Christen took the bottle and poured herself some wine, feeling nerves and excitement swirl around in her stomach.

Once Tyler joined them and had a glass of wine herself, Christen took a deep breath, looking away from the summer sky and over at her sisters.

“I wanted to talk to you guys about something,” Christen began, fiddling with the cup in her hand.

“Are you proposing?” Channing asked softly, reaching out a hand and squeezing Christen’s knee. 

Christen flushed and shook her head quickly. “Not yet,” she chuckled, ducking her head as she ran a hand through her hair. “Someday I will.”

“We approve, just so you know…for someday,” Tyler murmured. 

Christen offered her sisters grateful smiles and then came back to the reason she’d asked Channing and Tyler to join her for a Press sisters sunset. 

“Thanks, guys. But um- I wanted to talk to you about Scottie.”

“Is everything okay?” Tyler asked, her protective tendencies bristling as she worried that maybe something was wrong with Scottie. 

Christen felt her heart soar at how quickly her sisters had grown attached to Scottie. In truth, it made this conversation a whole lot easier. 

“Everything’s great, actually. Really great. So great in fact that...well, a few months ago she accidentally called me- um, she called me Momma when she was sick. And I wasn’t ready for that at the time. But I’m...I’m ready now. I’m talking to her about it when we’re back home. And I wanted to tell you guys that we’re taking this step as a family because you’re my family too,” Christen said softly, her misty eyes moving between Channing and Tyler as she spoke. “I wanted to share this with you two. And Mom. I’m going down to tell her tomorrow. But I wanted to tell you both first.” 

“Mo,” Tyler choked out, her eyes immediately tearing up. 

“That’s- Christen, that’s amazing,” Channing whispered, her voice wobbly and hoarse. 

Christen felt a few tears slip out as she released a shaky breath. “It’s everything I didn’t know I wanted. I’m gonna be her-” Christen faltered, almost overcome with the weight of it all. “I’m gonna be her mom .”

“Mom would be so proud of you. She’d be- She’d be overjoyed,” Tyler murmured. 

“You really think so?” Christen asked in a quiet voice.

“I know so. You’re- The way you are with Scottie is infused with Mom. You’re- It’s like she’s here when I see you with Scottie. I don’t know if that makes sense or if that’s crazy,” Tyler sniffled, wiping at her cheeks. 

“It’s not crazy. Mom and Dad are in all of us, and I see Mom in Christen every time she’s with Scottie,” Channing added, scooting closer to Christen on the blanket. 

Christen wrapped an arm around each of her sisters, her tears falling freely now. All of theirs were.

“I feel her too. And Dad. I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to them than I do now, with Scottie,” Christen admitted shakily.

“Hey,” Channing whispered, lifting her head up to look at Tyler over Christen’s head. “We get to have a niece.” 

“You get to be aunts,” Christen agreed with a wet chuckle, sniffling just a bit.

“Mo Mo,” Tyler mumbled, squeezing Christen tightly. 

“Yeah, Ty?” Christen replied softly, looking over at her older sister.

“She’s won the lottery getting you as a mom,” Tyler said quietly, leaning closer to press a kiss to Christen’s head. 

The tears started again and Christen let them fall. She let her sisters hold her as she cried tears of joy and relief and excitement and peace.


“Scottie?” Channing said, a serious expression on her face, far too serious for the beach. 

“Channing Press?” Scottie asked with a grin.

Channing glanced down at the shining ring on her finger, the one that had been placed there a month ago, the one Scottie had known about all along. 

“I have a very important question for you,” she answered, sitting down on the beach and motioning for Scottie to join her. 

“I have a very important answer,” Scottie giggled, jumping down next to Channing and leaning into her side.

“I’m getting married to Mikel, and that’s gonna be a super fun day for family.”

“I know. I knew before everyone else,” Scottie nodded.

“I know you did, shortstack,” Channing laughed. “You kept the secret really well. Did you know that Christen and Tyler are going to be my bridesmaids, so they’ll walk with me and stand up there while I say ‘I do’?” 

Scottie hummed, bobbing her head. “I’ve seen The Little Mermaid a few times. So I know all about weddings. I had my own on the playground last year if you need help planning. I would say no to mud pies, though. Not yummy.”

“I do need your help,” Channing laughed, “but not for planning.” 

“What can I help you with, Channing Press?” Scottie asked with a lopsided grin.

“You see, sometimes there’s a flower girl who walks in front of the bride and throws flower petals so that the path is all covered in flower petals. And there’s also a ring bearer who holds the really important rings for Mikel and me to give each other,” Channing described. 

Scottie’s eyes lit up as Channing described everything. “That sounds super-duper,” she whispered.

“Well, you’re my favorite kid, and I was hoping that you might do both of those jobs. You can wear a flower crown and whatever dress or suit you want. I just want you to be a part of it,” Channing said, wrapping an arm around Scottie as they sat in the sand. 

Scottie’s mouth flopped open, just like Christen’s did when she was surprised. She shook her head a few times, almost like she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“You want...me? Out of all the kids?” Scottie asked, flabbergasted.

“You’re family. I want my family to be a part of my wedding,” Channing hummed, kissing the top of Scottie’s head. 

Scottie threw her arms around Channing, tucking her head against Channing’s shoulder. 

“I’ll do it,” Scottie mumbled. “Thank you for asking me.”

“Thank you for helping me,” Channing smiled. “And because you said yes, here,” she added, handing Scottie a small box. 

Scottie took the box and carefully opened it, her brows shooting up at what she saw inside.

“It’s a flower ring because you’re my flower girl and ring bearer,” Channing hummed. 

“Oh gosh, this is so cool,” Scottie whispered, slipping the ring on her index finger. “Thank you, Auntie Channy. I love it, and I love you, and I can’t wait to be your flower ring girl.”

Channing’s heart immediately melted at the new name Scottie was calling her. She tightened her arms even more, soaking up the alone time with her niece. 

“I love you, shortstack.” 

“Can I tell you something now?” Scottie asked, looking up at Channing.

“Of course,” Channing replied. 

“I really hope this isn’t the last wedding I get to go to for our family,” Scottie grinned, looking out at the ocean where she could see Tobin and Christen chasing each other around in the ankle-deep water near the beach, kicking the water up at each other and laughing.

“It won’t be,” Channing promised. “I’m so excited for when Christen and your mom get married.” 

“Me too,” Scottie agreed. “I just haven’t decided if I want to wear a dress or a suit or jeans. I have time to think on it, though.”

“I’ll have to think about what I’ll wear too,” Channing chuckled. 

“Thanks for being my family, Auntie Channy,” Scottie sighed happily, leaning her head against Channing’s shoulder.

“Thanks for being mine. I didn’t realize how much I needed you,” Channing hummed. “Now, do you want to go splash your mom and Christen?” 

“Duh!” Scottie giggled, jumping to her feet.


Christen took a detour on her way back to Palos Verdes from their pre-game training. She parked near her house but decided to take the long way down to where her parents were, walking the winding path along the cliffs.

When she came to the pile of rocks, she felt that familiar ache in her chest and that prickle behind her eyes. For a moment, she wished she hadn’t come alone. She wished she’d brought Tobin or her sisters. But then she realized this was something she had to do alone. 

She cleared her throat as she sat down in front of the pile of rocks, pulling two pennies from her pocket.

“Sorry, Dad. No sunglasses this time,” she chuckled weakly, setting the two pennies on the rocks.

She took a few deep breaths, centering herself and getting a handle on her emotions. Once she felt somewhat ready, she removed the ‘ Scottie ’ handkerchief from her pocket and held it in a slightly trembling hand.

“You guys have missed a pretty big six months,” Christen began, her eyes falling shut, a sad smile tugging at her lips. “Everyone’s doing good though. Chan is radiant, and Mikel can’t stop smiling. Those two make such a beautiful couple, and their wedding is going to be gorgeous. Tyler and Lindsey bicker like they’ve been married for a lifetime. They bicker like you guys used to, with love behind their words. Tobin, uh,” Christen paused, a smile tugging at her lips. “Tobin’s art is selling like crazy and she’s getting more and more opportunities. And Scottie had a tough school year, but she never lets it get her down.”

Christen gulped, forcing out a long breath.

“I don’t know why I’m nervous,” Christen admitted with a laugh, blinking her eyes open, her gaze falling to the two pennies. “The truth is, I’m happy. I’m happier than I was last time I visited you. Maybe than I ever have been. And it’s because that second somebody who means everything to me. My Scottie? I get to…well, I think I get to be her mom,” Christen whispered, her voice cracking as her eyes filled with tears. 

With the handkerchief, Christen wiped at her eyes, knowing more tears would come no matter how many she wiped away.

“You two were the best parents a girl could have, and I’m going to try every single day to be half as great as you were for that little girl. She deserves great, and I hope I can be,” Christen said softly. “I- I want to ask you both something and I know it might be asking a lot, but I’m going to ask anyway.”

Christen put her hand over her heart and let her eyes fall shut, grounding herself with her heartbeat. “Will you help me? I- Help me be everything she needs me to be. Help me be as great as you both were. Please.”

Christen knew no answer would come. She was whispering her words to the ocean and the sky and the wind. She was whispering them to people who could no longer answer her. 

But that didn’t keep her from asking. That didn’t keep her from feeling like her parents were there. Like they could hear her quiet pleas for help. 

“Mom, Dad, please help me be the kind of mom Scottie deserves,” Christen whispered, opening her eyes once more, the vision of the pennies and rocks blurry from the tears in her eyes. 

Christen wasn’t sure how long she sat there. Her tears had long dried and the sun had long set. But she couldn’t quite bring herself to leave just yet. She had asked her parents for help and she felt like if she left now, she’d be leaving without it. Without an answer, without a sign. So she sat and she waited. 

“Christen!” Scottie called. 

Christen whipped her head around, squinting her eyes as she watched two flashlight beams break up the darkness.

“It’s really dark out here,” Scottie said, skipping through the grass in search of Christen. 

Christen quickly got to her feet, stuffing the handkerchief in her pocket. She turned back and offered her parents an understanding smile before walking to where she could see and hear Scottie and Tobin nearby.

She’d asked for help. She’d asked for some kind of sign that her parents had heard her. 

And then Scottie and Tobin had shown up looking for her, and Christen got her answer. Scottie and Tobin were the answer.

“Scottie Heath,” Christen called out, stuffing her hands in her pockets as she walked up the trail.

“Christen!” Scottie yelled, picking up her pace and racing to Christen, her arms wrapping around her immediately. “Mommy told me to wait, but we got a little worried about you in the dark,” she murmured, burying her face against Christen’s sweatshirt. 

“I was just talking to- well, I was just out here looking for a little guidance. I’m glad you two came to find me,” Christen replied, holding Scottie close and bending down to kiss the top of her head. “Sorry I was out so late.”

“You needed guidance?” Scottie asked, looking up at Christen. 

“I thought I did. But it turns out I have everything I need right here,” Christen said, tapping her heart and then tapping Scottie’s as well.

“My heart is happy,” Scottie sighed, burying her face into the front of Christen’s sweatshirt. 

“Mine too,” Christen murmured, looking up at Tobin and smiling to assuage the slight worry she could see in her favorite pair of brown eyes. 

“Mine three,” Tobin added, reaching Christen and Scottie’s sides and wrapping her arms around them both.