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Remember the words said

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Hey little girl, look what you've done
You've gone and stole my heart and made it your own
You've stole my heart and made it your own
Hey little girl, black and white and right and wrong
Only live inside a song I will sing to you

You don't ever have to feel lonely
You will never lose any tears
You don't have to feel any sadness
When you look back on the years
How can I look you in the eyes
And tell you such big lies
The best I can do is try to show you
How to love with no fear

(Christen - "My Little Girl" by Jack Johnson)


Oh, hard to believe

It's said and done, hard to believe

It's not dead and gone

I want to believe

All is well that ends well

But I just can't convince myself

Can't touch the stars, or make them shine

Fight the tide, until the day we die

Can't touch the stars, can't make them shine

But you know I'll try

Can't touch the stars, or make them shine

Fight the tide, until the day we die

Can't touch the stars, can't make them shine

But you know I'll try

For you I'll try

(Tobin - "Ghosts" by Banners)


“But do you really have to go? It’s my only day off all week,” Christen reasoned, opening the shower door to lean out and give Tobin a small pout.

Tobin let out a groan, ditching the shirt she was planning to put on and moving into the bathroom. 

“I mean...technically, they told me to come pick up the gallery pieces today. They didn’t specify when,” Tobin hummed. 

“So you have some time,” Christen grinned, leaving the door open and stepping back under the water.

Tobin quickly pushed her boxers down and stepped out of them, stepping into the shower and sinking into the warmth that the water and steam were creating. 

“I had no idea I was so persuasive,” Christen teased, reaching out for her body wash and smiling as she let her eyes appreciatively trail across Tobin.

“Have you seen yourself?” Tobin sighed happily, grabbing the body wash for Christen and putting some in her hands to run over Christen’s skin. 

“You should just get the pieces tomorrow and stay with me all day,” Christen murmured, wrapping her arms around Tobin’s waist.

“You could just come with me,” Tobin suggested as she moved her hands over Christen’s stomach and hips. 

Christen hummed at Tobin’s touch, dropping her forehead to Tobin’s shoulder. “I wish. But Goldfish has puppy camp, and Scottie’s in school. I’m Manhattan-bound today,” Christen replied, ghosting her lips across Tobin’s wet skin.

“I’ll see if I can pick them up tomorrow,” Tobin murmured. “The gallery director’s kind of a stickler, though.”

Christen wrinkled her nose at that, already feeling the small hope she had for a day together, alone, slipping away. 

“Maybe we can try to find some time next week or on my bye weekend to spend some time together,” she suggested, tracing mindless patterns across Tobin’s lower back with her fingertips as she lifted her forehead from Tobin’s shoulder.

“Maybe we can try and plan a weekend away,” Tobin whispered before she caught Christen’s lips in a kiss. 

“Oh a weekend away,” Christen chuckled. “Sounds fancy.”

“Where was it that you originally wanted to propose?” Tobin hummed, remembering Christen mentioning an earlier proposal plan. 

“Some bed and breakfast in the Fingerlakes region. It was quaint and picturesque, but was not conducive to crutches,” Christen replied with a smile. 

“I think moon sounds like a really good idea,” Tobin said, her lips quirking up to match Christen’s smile. 

Christen laughed again and leaned forward to kiss Tobin soundly, pulling their bodies flush together. She was about to back Tobin up against the wall of the shower when Goldfish, who had been napping peacefully on the fuzzy bath mat, suddenly let out a whimper in her sleep. 

Breaking the kiss with a chuckle, Christen wiped away some condensation from the glass door and looked down to make sure Goldfish was okay.
“Dreaming,” Tobin said quietly. 

“And she’s still out, which means,” Christen hummed, moving back to Tobin and gently pushing Tobin against the cool tile of the shower wall. With a smile she leaned back in and kissed Tobin again, sliding her hands up Tobin’s sides, intent on making the most of the time she did have with Tobin today.

“Yeah, I don’t want to work with them again,” Tobin grumbled, hanging up her phone after trying to get the gallery director to let her come by another day. 

“Clam-jamming is definitely a reason to never work with them again,” Christen teased, throwing Goldfish’s small tennis ball across the living room.

“I think that’s a good reason,” Tobin smirked, dropping her phone on the coffee table. 

“What time do you think you’ll be back? Maybe you can come pick Goldfish up with me before we have to get Scottie,” Christen wondered. She laughed when Goldfish tripped running back toward her, the tennis ball in her mouth.

“I’m aiming to literally park my car in front of the gallery, get my stuff, and leave. So hopefully I’ll be back in Manhattan by 2:00,” Tobin said as she pulled open the closet door and grabbed a pair of sneakers. 

Christen wrestled the ball away from the dog and threw it again before looking over at Tobin.

“She’s not done at camp until maybe 3:00, so we’ll have the house to ourselves,” Christen grinned, lifting her brows suggestively. 

Tobin moved back across the room, dropped down onto the floor next to Christen, and kissed Christen’s cheek. “I’ll make sure to be super quick then, and tonight we can start planning a weekend away.”

“Drive safe,” Christen said softly, turning her head to kiss Tobin quickly. “I love you,” she added with a dreamy smile.

“I love you too,” Tobin mumbled, stealing another quick kiss. “And I love you,” she added, scratching Goldfish’s tummy as soon as she rolled over in front of her. “Enjoy puppy camp.”

“She’s going to have the time of her little life. They give blueberry facials at the beginning,” Christen chuckled, joining in on the puppy love and running her hand across Goldfish’s tummy.

“We’re paying for blueberry facials?” Tobin snorted. “I thought this was just about socializing her.”

“Making friends is much easier when you’re properly facial-ed,” Christen replied, knocking her shoulder into Tobin’s. “Get out of here and come back to me.”

“I’m running,” Tobin said, pushing up off the floor and heading to the stairs. She grabbed her wallet and keys as she went, glancing back at Christen one more time before she left. 

Hearing the door to the garage close, Christen let out a breath and then looked down at the puppy on the floor in front of her. 

“And then there were two, soon to be one since you have a blueberry facial and some new best friends waiting for you,” Christen cooed.

Goldfish cocked her head to the side as Christen talked, reaching her paw out to rest it on Christen’s forearm. 

“Well aren’t you just so smart,” Christen chuckled, scratching under Goldfish’s chin. “Can you get your ball? Can you go get your ball?” she asked.

Getting a bark in response, Goldfish darted away in search of the tennis ball Christen had thrown earlier. 

Christen took a picture of Goldfish running around in the play area with the other puppies, laughing quietly to herself at how cute she was and how much she’d grown in the month they’d had her. She sent the picture off to Tobin before heading out. 

She started walking back to the house, thinking about asking Kelley to grab some lunch with her, when her phone started ringing.

Thinking it was Tobin, Christen picked up without looking, a smile on her face.

“Hi there,”  Christen greeted.

“Hi, this is Susan. I’m the school nurse at P.S. 130. Is this Christen Press?” Susan asked, her voice soft and even.  

Christen immediately stopped walking, causing a few pedestrians to bump into her and grumble under their breaths. She moved to the edge of the sidewalk, her brow knit in confusion.

“Yes, is everything all right?” Christen asked in a rushed voice, her heart tightening in her chest. 

“Well, Scottie fell during recess and banged up her wrist. It seems like a break to me, but it would obviously be best if a parent could take her to get x-rays done,” Susan informed her, her voice still calm. 

“I’ll be there in ten minutes,” Christen said quickly, hanging up the phone before letting Susan reply. She quickly whistled for a cab and threw up her arm, sighing in relief when there was one coming down the block that saw her. 

As she got into the cab and told the driver where to go, she put the phone back up to her ear, already having pulled up Tobin’s contact.

“Miss me now that the puppy’s at camp?” Tobin teased as she got out of the car in front of the gallery. 

“Did the school call you?” Christen rushed out, rummaging around in her purse to see if she still had the copy of Scottie’s insurance card in there.

“No, why?” Tobin asked, freezing on the sidewalk in front of the gallery door. 

“The nurse said Scottie might have broken her wrist at recess. I’m headed there now and- oh thank goodness, I’ve got her insurance card and everything,” Christen said, sighing in relief when she found it in one of the side pockets.

“I’ll be there in forty minutes,” Tobin said, accepting the look from the gallery director that she was getting through the glass door. 

“We’ll meet you at the hospital. I’ll text you which one we go to,” Christen replied, anxiously tapping her foot as she willed the cabbie to drive faster.

“Okay, um… you have all her doctor’s info too, right?” Tobin asked, ignoring the gallery director when he moved past her with a few of her paintings and carried them to the car for her. 

“I have it all. My ‘in case of emergency’ Scottie copies are coming in handy,”  Christen said, trying to sound calm to hopefully help take the panic out of Tobin’s voice. 

“I love you. I’ll meet you there in forty minutes, maybe sooner. Let me know when you get there, though, and give her a kiss,” Tobin rushed out, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth as she grabbed a few more paintings from right inside the gallery and carried them to her car. 

“I will. I love you too,” Christen hummed. “And baby, she’s going to be fine. We’ve handled casts in this house before.”

“Hopefully they have purple,” Tobin sighed. 

“If it’s not awesome purple, I’ll put in a special request,” Christen assured, a tight smile on her face.

“Thank you. Getting in the car now,” Tobin said. 

“And I just got to the school. Drive safe,” Christen replied, hanging up the phone and paying the cab driver quickly before getting out and hurrying up the front steps of the school.

“Christen?” the school nurse asked, poking her head out of her office. 

“That’s me,” Christen nodded, getting up from the chair she’d been directed to sit in.

“Momma,” Scottie mumbled from the tiny bed in the nurse’s office, her wrist propped up on a pillow and covered with an ice pack. 

“Oh sweetheart,” Christen sighed, moving past the nurse and into the office. She sat down next to Scottie and reached out to brush some of the wild curls away from her forehead. “Are you okay?”

“It hurts,” Scottie murmured, her bottom lip wobbling slightly now that one of her moms was here and not just the school nurse. 

“I know, I know it does. Why don’t we go get a doctor to check that out?” Christen said, keeping her voice soft.

“Okay,” Scottie nodded. “Did you tell Mommy too?” 

“She’s on her way from New Jersey. She’ll meet us there,” Christen replied, getting up and helping Scottie slide off the bed, trying not to jostle her wrist too much.

“Did she get her paintings?” Scottie asked, wincing as she moved out of the nurse’s office and toward the front of the school. 

“You know, I’m not sure. But we can ask her when she gets there,” Christen replied, waving at the secretary at the front desk and leading Scottie to the front door with a hand on her back.

“Momma, did your leg feel like this?” Scottie asked with a deep breath. 

“It definitely hurt and felt kind of funny, like I knew I should be able to use it, but I couldn’t,” Christen replied, her heart aching at the pain in Scottie’s voice. 

“Can you...still play soccer with something broken in your arm?” Scottie asked, her eyes widening with worry. 

Christen pulled them to a stop at the bottom of the stairs, crouching down to meet Scottie’s eyes.

“If you broke your wrist, you’re going to have to be in a cast. But...I’m pretty sure after resting for a few days, we can bubble wrap your cast and maybe you can play. We can ask the doctor though, just to be sure,” Christen replied, reaching up to wipe away some of the tear stains on Scottie’s cheeks. “Probably easier to play with a cast on your wrist than one on your leg,” she added with a small smile.

“I’m glad you came to get me,” Scottie said, clutching her hurt wrist to her chest and reaching her good hand out for Christen’s.

“I’ll always come when you need me,” Christen assured, holding tightly to Scottie’s good hand. 

Even though Scottie was bigger now, and definitely due for another growth spurt, Christen held her in her lap. She let Scottie cuddle against her as they sat in the Emergency Room waiting area, a clipboard on the seat next to Christen. She alternated between jotting down Scottie’s information and quietly checking on Scottie, wanting to get the paperwork filled out as quickly as possible.

Once it was, she helped Scottie up from her lap and the two of them walked to the front desk.

“You came in at a good time,” the nurse working the front of the E.R. said as she took the clipboard from Christen and glanced over the paperwork. 

“It does feel pretty empty in here,” Christen agreed, offering the nurse a smile as she ran her hand over Scottie’s hair, keeping Scottie pressed against her side.

“You’ve got a hurt wrist?” the nurse asked, looking at Scottie with a sweet smile. 

“Nurse Susan said it’s probably broken,” Scottie mumbled, leaning more heavily against Christen.

“Well, let’s hope not, but if it is, we’ll take good care of it,” the nurse hummed. 

“Thank you,” Scottie said quietly.

“I know this is an outdated question, but your last names are different. Are you her legal guardian?” the nurse asked, her pen poised over the paperwork. 

Christen hesitated. “Umm, I’m her mother’s fiancée and we’re- I mean she’s my daughter,” she replied, trying to ignore the way the question made her stomach roll.

“Right,” the nurse nodded, her lips turning down slightly at the questions she was having to ask. “But...paperwork-wise, you don’t have legal guardianship?” 

“Momma,” Scottie mumbled, pressing her face into Christen’s side. 

“I- I’m sorry, one second,” Christen said to the nurse, looking down at Scottie. “Are you okay, sweetheart? Do you want to go sit down?”

“Yeah, it hurts,” Scottie whispered. 

“I know it does. I’m sorry. Go sit right there, and I’ll be there in a minute,” Christen replied softly, bending down to kiss Scottie’s head. She watched Scottie slowly walk over to the plastic chair close by, close enough for her to keep an eye on Scottie, and then turned back to the nurse. 

Leaning against the counter, Christen pushed her hair away from her face in a slightly exasperated manner.

“I’m her mom. I don’t quite understand what-” she tried to say.

“I know it seems really inconvenient and unnecessary. You wouldn’t believe the kinds of cases we see with kids, though. So, by law, if it isn’t an immediate emergency or a life and death situation, we have to wait for a legal guardian to sign consent forms for her,” the nurse sighed, offering Christen an apologetic smile. 

“But she’s in pain and definitely needs to see a doctor. That feels pretty immediate to me,” Christen protested, hating the way ‘ legal guardian ’ and ‘ consent forms ’ made her feel like even if she was Scottie’s mom in every way that counted, she wasn’t really her parent in the way Scottie needed her to be right now.

“Is your fiancée coming to meet you both?” the nurse asked. 

“Yes she’s on her way, but I still don’t understand how I’m not allowed to sign these papers for you so she can stop being in pain,” Christen managed to reply, her eyes starting to burn.

“She’s...I can see that she’s your daughter. I can obviously see that you love her. But on paper, I could get in serious trouble if I let kids see a doctor without getting parental consent from a legal guardian. I can’t bend the rules for any one person,” the nurse apologized. 

“A legal guardian,” Christen sighed, running a hand over her face. “Thanks for your help.”

“As soon as your fiancée gets here, we’ll bring her back,” the nurse tried to assure. 

“Once her parent is here. Got it,” Christen said, offering the nurse a tight half-smile and moving away from the front desk. 

She took a few deep breaths, trying to will away the tears and feelings of frustration as she made her way over to Scottie. Letting out a shaky breath, she sat down in the chair next to Scottie.

“Momma,” Scottie whined, the ice in her ice pack mostly melted and her wrist starting to throb. 

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. We- we have to wait for Tobin to get here for them to take you back,” Christen explained, forcing the words past the lump in her throat as she looked down at Scottie.

“That’s silly. Mommy could just come back,” Scottie sighed as she rested her head on Christen’s shoulder. 

“They need her here to give them permission to take a look at your wrist,” Christen replied softly, reaching over and taking a hold of Scottie’s good hand.

“And you can’t?” Scottie asked quietly. 

Christen clenched her jaw and blinked away the tears pricking the corners of her eyes. 

“I- I can’t. I’m sorry,” Christen said softly.

“Is it because the gotcha papers weren’t officially official?” Scottie asked, her voice becoming thick.

Christen squeezed Scottie’s hand and then helped Scottie move back into her lap, wanting to hold Scottie close. Even if she couldn’t sign paperwork to make sure Scottie got taken care of, even if she couldn’t be the parent Scottie needed her to be right now, she could at least hold Scottie until Tobin got there.

“Those gotcha papers are super important. They’re framed and hanging up downstairs. And even if the hospital doesn’t recognize them, that doesn’t mean we don’t,” Christen replied, pressing a shaky kiss to the top of Scottie’s head.

“I love you, Momma,” Scottie whispered.

“I love you too, sweetheart,” Christen choked out, her eyes locked on the sliding doors, willing Tobin to walk through them so she could put Scottie out of her misery.

Tobin was uncertain if she’d parked legally or not. She was very aware that thousands of dollars worth of paintings were in the trunk of her car. None of that mattered though. 

She jogged into the E.R., ignoring the nurse at the front desk and immediately finding Scottie and Christen in the waiting room. 

“Hey, little bit,” Tobin breathed out, squatting down in front of the chair that Christen and Scottie were sharing. She put a hand on Christen’s knee and a hand on Scottie’s, squeezing them gently. 

“Mommy, we have a 9-1-1 emergency,” Scottie said quietly, offering Tobin a wobbly smile.

“I know. You banged up your wrist,” Tobin said with a soft look in her eyes. 

Scottie nodded. “And we had to wait for you to get here so the doctor can look at it,” she added.

“Excuse me?” Tobin asked, raising her eyebrows and looking up at Christen. “Why?” 

Christen just pressed a kiss to Scottie’s head and helped Scottie get out of her lap. Once Scottie was on her feet, Christen reached into her purse and pulled all of Scottie’s insurance cards and information out, handing it to Tobin.

“They need a legal guardian to sign off,” Christen said, her voice tight.

“Baby,” Tobin said softly, reaching out to tangle her fingers with Christen’s. 

“Just get them to take her back. She’s in a lot of pain,” Christen replied, squeezing Tobin’s hand quickly before taking her hand out of Tobin’s.

“I want you both with me,” Scottie said. 

“We can ask if they’ll let me back there, but I don’t know, sweetheart,” Christen murmured, offering Scottie as reassuring a smile as she could muster.

“Just wait a second. I’ll go talk to her,” Tobin said, her jaw already tight and her heart aching. She walked up to the counter and tried to remind herself not to shoot the messenger. 

“Hi, I’m Scottie Heath’s mom,” Tobin said, leaning against the counter and glancing at her family still standing near the chair she’d found them in. 

“Oh good, I’m glad you got here,” the nurse replied, grabbing the paperwork that just needed a signature from nearby.

“You wouldn’t let my fiancée take her back to see the doctor?” Tobin asked, quickly signing the paper and handing it back. 

“Look, I don’t make the rules. I’m really sorry, but we have to wait for a legal guardian to sign off on non-emergency care.”

“Can we both go back with her?” Tobin asked, clenching her jaw even tighter. 

The nurse hesitated, almost like she was going to turn Tobin down, and then relented.

“Technically you’re the only one who should, but I’m about to go take my lunch break. So if she walks back there with you two...I wouldn't notice,” the nurse replied, giving Tobin a knowing look.

“Awesome,” Tobin grumbled, feeling more frustrated than she had been in the traffic to the hospital. 

“Triage is through that door and to the right. Doctor Marcie will take care of you,” the nurse said with a nod, promptly turning away from the waiting room. 

Tobin moved back to Scottie and Christen, handing Christen the paperwork back. 

“Let’s go. All three of us,” Tobin said, pointing to the door the nurse had motioned toward. 

“Oh good,” Scottie said with a small smile. She winced when she went to grab both of their hands, having forgotten for a second about her hurt wrist. “Popsicles,” she sighed.

“I’ll get the door, buddy. Chris can hold your good hand,” Tobin said, her body still feeling hot with frustration. 

Scottie slid her good hand into Christen’s and the three of them walked back to get Scottie’s wrist looked at.

“Who are you with today?” the doctor asked as she started putting the cast on Scottie’s arm. 

“I’m with my Mommy and my Momma,” Scottie chirped, feeling much better now that she was getting an awesome purple cast and had a lollipop. 

“You’re a lucky kiddo that both your parents could get here and help you be brave,” the doctor said with a cheerful smile. 

“I am really lucky, Doctor Marcie,” Scottie agreed. “My Mommy was only in New Jersey so she wasn’t far, and my Momma had the day off from Gotham so she could come get me from school.”

“Are you gonna get your moms to sign your cast?” Marcie continued to ask, keeping Scottie distracted. 

“Mommy will probably doodle on it since she’s the best artist in the universe. And Momma can't really draw, no offense,” Scottie said, shooting a toothy grin over at Christen. “But she will sign her name, probably. She’s good at that. She signs lots of things because she’s a World Champion and a Gold Medalist and Gotham’s captain.”

“Oh really?” Marcie chuckled. 

Christen just managed a tight smile and a small nod, her arms crossed over her chest and her focus on Scottie. Tobin slipped her arm around Christen’s waist and squeezed her hip gently. 

“Will she be able to play soccer with that on? She asked me and I didn’t know,” Christen said, her voice thin.

“I don’t see why not. Give her a few days to rest and then see how it feels when she runs around,” Marcie said, turning around on her swiveling stool to shoot Christen a soft smile. “I’m sure she’ll have to bubble wrap it or something for the other players.”

“We thought so,” Christen replied.

“She’ll be passing the ball with you again in no time,” Marcie added with a reassuring smile before turning back to look at Scottie. “Kids are very resilient.” 

Christen offered Marcie another tight half-smile, her stomach still rolling and her heart still aching in her chest.

“Do you have names for the colors?” Scottie wondered, checking out her purple cast.

“Not that I know of,” Marcie chuckled. “Do you have a suggestion?” 

“Well, this is awesome purple to me. So maybe you can name it that,” Scottie offered with a smile.

“I’ll spread the word and tell other people that awesome purple is the coolest color to get,” Marcie hummed. 

“Well hopefully nobody else needs to get it. This stinks,” Scottie replied, making Marcie chuckle again.

“Just wait until it starts itching,” Marcie said, wrinkling her nose at that. 

“Oh, I know all about that. Momma broke her leg last year and she-” Scottie started to explain.

“Momma is you, right?” Marcie asked, pointing at Christen. 

Christen nodded, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.

“Got it,” Marcie smiled, turning her attention back to Scottie. 

“Anyways, she had an awesome purple cast and she said it got really itchy. So she used a ruler and a hanger, and one time she tried to use a straw but it broke and we had to hold her leg upside down to get it out,” Scottie said, giggling just a bit at the memory.

“Just don’t use a pencil,” Marcie grinned, finally finished with the cast. “You don’t want anything to get stuck in the cast.” She turned around and looked at Christen. “I’m glad you’ve got some cast experience. I’m gonna give you a list of instructions and whatnot, but I’m sure you already know what’s what with a cast and keeping it dry,” she said, reaching over to the small desk in the room and pulling out a few pages of instructions. She held them out to Christen and Tobin, unsure of who was going to take them.

“Tobin,” Christen said, nudging Tobin so she would take the instructions from the doctor.

Tobin took the instructions, her hand still tight on Christen’s hip. “Thanks,” she mumbled, her entire body concerned for the woman next to her and their newly-casted daughter sitting nearby. 

“You two look like this is your first hospital visit with your daughter,” Marcie said softly, noticing the tense way both women were standing. “You’re doing great. She’s doing great. Nothing to panic about. I can discharge you and send all this information to Scottie’s pediatrician.”

“Great, thanks,” Tobin forced out. 

“Thank you,” Christen echoed quietly.

“Maybe you should give them lollipops,” Scottie whispered to Marcie, seeing how her moms were noticeably down.

Marcie laughed and handed Scottie the jar of lollipops to hold while she left the room to get discharge papers. 

“They have blue raspberry, cherry, lime, or orange,” Scottie said, looking between Tobin and Christen. “And they make you feel a lot better. So you two need one.”

Tobin silently turned her head and placed a kiss on Christen’s temple before she looked back at Scottie. “Blue raspberry sounds good.”

“Yeah, blue raspberry’s fine,” Christen added with a small nod.

“I think we need a cuddle puddle, movie night,” Scottie chirped, handing two lollipops to her moms. 

“We can do that, buddy,” Tobin replied gently. 

Christen nodded, smiling softly at Scottie. “Whatever will make you feel better, sweetheart.”

“Cuddle puddles and a Frozen marathon,” Scottie said with a smile. “But first we get to pick up Goldfish!” 

Tobin glanced over at the couch from where she was in the kitchen. Scottie was admiring the cartoons Tobin had already doodled on her cast, and Goldfish was on her back and completely fast asleep next to Scottie. The blanket that Christen had been curled up under was on the back of the couch, no Christen in sight. 

Tobin pushed the salmon that she’d just pulled out of the oven to the back of the stove and moved back toward the living room, her eyebrows furrowed with worry. Christen hadn’t been talkative at all since the hospital. Even when they’d picked Goldfish up at the puppy daycare, she’d only smiled a few times, and all of the smiles had been muted, clouded by what had happened at the E.R. 

“Did you see where your Momma went, little bit?” Tobin asked as she reached over the couch and brushed Scottie’s hair out of her face. 

“She said she was going upstairs,” Scottie replied, grinning up at Tobin.

“I’m gonna go check on her. Do you need anything?” Tobin asked. 

“It’s almost dinner, so I guess no Snickers?” Scottie replied.

“Nope, but you can totally have one after dinner,” Tobin said with a goofy smile. 

“Yes!” Scottie cheered, throwing her good arm in the air in celebration.

“Sit tight. We’ll be back in time for Frozen II ,” Tobin promised, already heading to the stairs. 

“You better. Momma loves that movie,” Scottie called out, humming under her breath as a new song started.

Tobin climbed up the stairs. She peeked into their bedroom first, then the office turned meditation room, then Scottie’s room, all of them empty. Her worry only increased when she realized that Christen was on the roof, which likely meant that Christen had desperately wanted privacy. 

She climbed up the stairs and pushed open the door to the roof, immediately finding Christen on a lounge chair, her shoulders shaking and her arms wrapped tightly around her body.

“Baby,” Tobin cooed, moving across the roof and perching on the very end of the lounge chair that Christen was in.

“I’m sorry, I- I just needed- I needed a second,” Christen managed, trying to stop the tears, wiping at her eyes with the sleeves of Tobin’s UNC sweatshirt.

“You don’t need to be sorry,” Tobin whispered. “And you don’t need to cover this up. You get to be upset about today.”

Christen pushed the heels of her hands against her eyes, feeling a fresh wave of tears threaten to overtake her. Tears of frustration and pain and agony. The agony of not being able to be there for Scottie when Scottie needed her to be. 

Tobin scooted forward and wrapped her arms around Christen, the angle slightly awkward in the chair. She let Christen press her face against her neck and silently ran her hands up and down Christen’s back. 

After a few more minutes of sobs wracking her frame and shaking them both, Christen felt all cried out. She felt empty and hollow, something she wasn’t used to feeling anymore. She kept her face tucked into the crook of Tobin’s neck, her hands clutching the back of Tobin’s shirt in a tight grip, as she tried to get her breathing to return to normal.

“I’m sorry,” Tobin murmured, running a hand up to the back of Christen’s neck and scratching softly. 

“Don’t say that,” Christen said quickly, her voice slightly strangled. “It’s not your fault.”

“Maybe not directly. I’m sorry it’s so unfair,” Tobin replied. 

“I’m an idiot,” Christen sighed, letting out a shaky breath.

“Excuse me?” Tobin scoffed. “You are anything but an idiot.”

“I…I thought it was enough. I looked you in the eye and said it was enough for Scottie to be mine in my heart and in yours and in Scottie’s. And I was an idiot for believing that meant something out in the world,” Christen said quietly.

Tobin sat in silence, feeling the worry and tightness in her chest start to build up, that same worry she’d felt for months while trying to call Roni. She kept her hands moving along Christen’s back while her mind spun and new plans formed, while she thought of something that she could do to make things better. 

“I couldn’t take care of her. I couldn’t- I couldn’t give parental consent because I’m not-” Christen faltered, squeezing her eyes tightly shut. “I’m not her parent when I need to be.”

“I’ll go to Atlanta,” Tobin said quietly, swallowing down the anxiety she could already feel at that idea. “I’ll go to Atlanta and ask Roni to give up her custody. She can’t hang up on me in person.”

Christen pulled away from Tobin’s neck and fixed her with a look. Christen knew there was no other way for this to happen. After trying to exist without paperwork and finally having that bite them in the ass, they were out of options. Christen needed to be more than just Scottie’s Momma on the gotcha papers. They had to go to Roni, and Christen hated that they did.

“I’ll go with you,” she whispered, her voice wobbly.

“You do not need to see her,” Tobin shook her head, remembering the pain she’d already caused Christen. 

“You shouldn’t have to either,” Christen replied. “Not alone.”

“I got myself into this mess,” Tobin shrugged, a sad smile on her lips. 

“And as the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with, your mess is my mess,” Christen whispered, sniffling a bit and using the sleeve of the UNC sweatshirt to wipe at her eyes.

“We’re going to fix this. I won’t put you through something like today again,” Tobin promised, her heart aching with sadness and regret and guilt. 

“That epically sucked,” Christen agreed, trying to smile at Tobin. “A solid, shitty six.”

“I’m so sorry,” Tobin murmured, running her thumb along Christen’s cheek to wipe away the tear tracks. “You are her parent. I know to them, today, you weren’t. But to me and to Scottie you are, to the important people you are. And I’ll make it official. If I have to take her to court, I’ll do that.”

Christen offered a tight nod and then leaned her forehead against Tobin’s, the emptiness inside of her filling with just a spark of hope.

“Thank you,” Christen whispered, clinging tightly to Tobin.

“I love you,” Tobin whispered back, holding just as tightly to Christen. 

Christen buried her face in Tobin’s neck again, finally letting out the breath she felt like she’d been holding since the emergency room. 

“I love you too,” she mumbled against Tobin’s neck. 

“And I love our family,” Tobin added quietly. “You and Scottie are my whole world. And Goldfish.”

“I was gonna be upset if you forgot the dog,” Christen joked weakly. “I love our family too. You two are everything to me. And I just-” she faltered, her grip on Tobin’s shirt getting impossibly tighter.

“Baby, I want you on every piece of paper. I want you on every document,” Tobin said, her arms tightening around Christen as she felt Christen’s hands pull her shirt even more. 

Christen nodded against Tobin’s neck, letting Tobin’s words calm the last bits of worry in her body. 

“I want that too. I do,” Christen promised. “And I know that’s going to take a lot for us to get, so can you just- can we just sit here for a second?” she asked, her voice no louder than a whisper.

“As long as you need,” Tobin whispered back. 

“I might need more than eight seconds after today,” Christen replied.

“That’s okay, Scottie’s barely halfway through Frozen and only requested our presence for Frozen II ,” Tobin mumbled, pressing her lips to Christen’s cheek. 

Christen chuckled just a bit and let Tobin hold her, the two of them sitting on the roof for far longer than eight seconds. 

“Goldfish! No! Bad puppy!” Scottie said, trying to keep her voice stern. “Mommy’s going to be so mad!”

Christen and Tobin shared a slightly alarmed look and hurried down the stairs to the second floor after spending far too long on the roof. 

Tobin let out a choked gasp as soon as the dog was in sight, her sneaker in Goldfish’s mouth. 

Christen immediately covered Tobin’s eyes and met Scottie’s alarmed gaze. “Get the shoe, sweetheart,” Christen called out, wrestling against Tobin to make sure she couldn’t see how Goldfish had a firm grip on the Jordans.

“It’s not really chewed. It’s just slobbery,” Scottie announced, maneuvering the shoelaces out of Goldfish’s mouth. “Maybe we can get new laces.”

Christen snorted and tried not to laugh, finally letting Tobin pry her hands away from her eyes.

“Those are my Nigel Sylvester’s,” Tobin whined. 

“I’m sure Nigel will help you get new laces,” Christen replied, covering her mouth with her hand, hiding her laughter.

Tobin raised an eyebrow at Christen. “Nigel is busy riding his bike.”

“Mhm,” Christen hummed, her green eyes dancing with amusement, the sadness all but gone from them. “And when he’s done with that he’ll get you new laces.”

“Babe,” Tobin groaned, as she took the sneaker from Scottie’s hands. 

Christen wrapped her arms around Tobin, squishing the shoe between them. “It’s okay, my love. It’s okay,” she cooed, sharing a silent laugh with Scottie over Tobin’s shoulder.

“Maybe Abby and Glennon want a dog,” Tobin grumbled. 

Twin gasps escaped Scottie and Christen at the same time, and Christen immediately stepped away from Tobin, moving to Scottie’s side.

“Don’t even,” Tobin argued. “The dog didn’t try to eat your chunky shoes in the corner.”

“Oh no, she tried. She couldn’t pick them up,” Scottie announced, grinning up at Christen innocently. 

Christen nodded and smoothed down Scottie’s wild hair before looking over at Tobin, her eyes narrowed slightly. 

“Not today, Tobin. Please, not after today,” Christen said softly, keeping Scottie pressed against her side.

That made Tobin deflate immediately. Her shoulders sagged as she nodded her head. She walked across the room, ignoring the way Goldfish was nipping at her heels, picked up her other shoe, and tossed her sneakers in the closet. 

“You’re incorrigible,” Tobin mumbled as Goldfish danced around her feet while she served plates with the dinner she’d made before going upstairs. 

“We gotta watch your Mommy’s shoes, okay? We love Goldfish, and we want her to stay,” Christen murmured, looking down at Scottie.

“I’ll watch them like a goat,” Scottie promised, narrowing her eyes. 

“Like a what?” Christen asked with a surprised half-smile.

“Mr. Hayes told us that goats have great eyesight today at school,” Scottie shrugged. “So, I’ll watch the sneakers like a goat.”

“Well then definitely watch her shoes like a goat. How’s your- how’s your arm feeling?” Christen asked gently, her chest still tight from earlier, her heart still hurting from the way she couldn’t take Scottie’s hurt away.

“It’s achy, but at least it’s purple,” Scottie hummed. 

“Do you want to know the best cure for achy?” Christen wondered with a smile.

“What’s that?” Scottie asked, cocking her head to the side. 

“Go sit at the table. I’ll be there in forty-three seconds,” Christen winked, gently pushing Scottie in the direction of the table.

Scottie hurried to the table, a giggle bubbling up from her lips as she settled into her chair. 

Christen ran downstairs to Tobin’s studio, grabbed the necessities, and then hurried back upstairs. She dropped the dish of non-toxic white paint and the paintbrush onto the table near Scottie and then moved into the kitchen. After pressing a kiss to Tobin’s cheek, she grabbed Goldfish off the floor and then walked back to the table, hugging the puppy to her chest. 

“Signatures on your cast are the best cure for achy. And I know this sweet girl right here would love to be the first signature,” Christen grinned, sitting next to Scottie at the table.

“You want to sign my cast?” Scottie cooed, leaning forward and letting Goldfish lick her nose. 

“Yes please!” Christen replied for Goldfish, bouncing the puppy just a little bit and making Scottie giggle harder as Goldfish licked her face.

Tobin set their plates on the table, unable to take her eyes off Christen, Scottie, and Goldfish. She brushed hair away from Scottie’s forehead, leaning down to kiss her head as Christen painted a very squirmy puppy’s paw. 

It was moments like this, tiny, fleeting moments with her family that made all the anxiety about talking to Roni and fighting for custody completely worth it. She knew that she was flying to Atlanta for moments like this, for her girls, for their family, for their home, for peace of mind. And she’d do anything for her family. She’d do absolutely anything to tie them all together, to keep them all safe in each other’s arms. 

“Babe?” Christen called out, leaning against the wall of the studio at the base of the stairs. 

“Yeah?” Tobin answered, reaching out and pausing the music that was playing on her phone and through a Bluetooth speaker. 

“Amanda approved my time off next weekend,” Christen said, her face getting a little tight at the implications of her words.

“Great,” Tobin mumbled, sending a tight smile back to Christen. “Let’s hope it only takes a weekend.”

Christen moved off the wall and across the room, stopping when she was standing behind Tobin. She wrapped her arms around Tobin’s shoulders from behind and bent down to press a kiss to her cheek. 

“We can do this,” Christen said with far more confidence than she felt.

“I know we can,” Tobin hummed. “With or without her.”

“I- I’m only gonna say this one time, and I won’t ever say it again based on your response,” Christen murmured, keeping her forehead pressed against Tobin’s temple, her lips ghosting across Tobin’s cheek.

“What’s that?” Tobin asked softly as she put her paintbrush down and grabbed a rag to wipe her hands. 

Christen took a deep breath and let her eyes fall shut. “I would- I mean, I would understand if this is too big of an ask. I have gotcha papers, and I’m her Momma. I am in every way that counts, and we can make sure you’re around for hospital visits or-”

“Baby,” Tobin said softly, turning around slowly, her eyes prickling slightly. “I don’t want to be morbid, but if anything ever happened to me, do you know who they’d call to come get Scottie right now?” 

“Your parents?” Christen replied, dropping down onto the bench and straddling it so she could keep her arms around Tobin’s shoulders.

Tobin shook her head silently. “I can’t even write in my will that my parents get her. Roni would be called as her next of kin to come get her.”

Christen’s jaw tightened, her forehead dropping to Tobin’s shoulder. “That is morbid to think about,” she replied thickly.

“And that’s why it isn’t just you asking. It’s not just for you. It’s for Scottie, and it’s for me. It’s our family, and I’d really like the peace of mind that my family is secure and will stay together,” Tobin murmured. 

“Okay. I won’t say it again. I won’t think that I’m asking too much of you, even though I might worry I am sometimes,” Christen whispered, lifting her head off Tobin’s shoulder to meet her eyes. “I want us to stay together too.”

“You never ask too much of me,” Tobin whispered back as she ran her thumb across Christen’s cheekbone. 

“What color paint did you just get on me?” Christen asked with a small smile.

“No paint,” Tobin lied, having thought she’d cleaned her hands fully with the rag. 

Christen narrowed her eyes in disbelief. “Is it a good color at least?”

“Pretty in pink,” Tobin hummed with a sheepish smile. 

Christen chuckled and leaned forward to kiss Tobin softly. “I came down here feeling really heavy and you made it all better,” she murmured against Tobin’s lips.

“You always make me feel light,” Tobin agreed, pecking Christen’s lips again. 

“Can I watch you work before getting Goldfish from puppy camp?” Christen asked, nuzzling her nose along Tobin’s.

“You can pick the music,” Tobin offered, reaching out for her phone and handing it to Christen. 

Christen grinned and after giving Tobin one final kiss, she leaned back and started scrolling through Tobin’s Spotify.

Tobin stayed seated, opting to paint one-handed and keep her other hand on Christen, her fingers brushing along her leg and over her hip. 

With a soft smile, Christen selected a song from a band she knew her fiancée was going to love.

“Good choice,” Tobin hummed as the opening notes to Hootie and the Blowfish’s ‘Only Wanna Be With You’ started playing. 

“That'll definitely be in the wedding,” Christen replied, setting Tobin’s phone aside.

“Scottie’s already put it in the playlist she’s making,” Tobin chuckled. 

“I convinced her to cut three Frozen songs on our walk home from school the other day,” Christen said with a laugh. 

“She has plans for you at the wedding,” Tobin added with a smirk. 

Christen’s brow furrowed as a surprised smile made its way onto her face. “That so?” she mused, sliding her arm around Tobin’s back and settling her hand on Tobin’s hip, keeping her close.

“Mhm, she’s got lots of plans,” Tobin grinned as she continued to paint. 

“So you’ll be happy to know she’s got plans for you too then,” Christen chuckled.

“I’d be offended if she didn’t,” Tobin teased. 

With a laugh, Christen reached out and dipped her finger in orange paint on Tobin’s palette. She drew a heart on Tobin’s cheek, just like she had so many years ago in this very studio. 

“You’re going to have my heart forever,” Christen said softly, knowing it was cheesy but saying it anyway.

“You have mine, and you’ll have it forever,” Tobin replied, looking over at Christen. “Do you want me to paint it too?” she asked, dipping a finger in yellow paint. 

Christen just turned her cheek towards Tobin, silently inviting her to do so, a smile playing at her lips and a lightness settling in her heart.

“I love you. Thank you for taking next weekend off,” Tobin said softly, drawing a heart on Christen’s cheek. 

“I love you too,” Christen whispered back. “And you never have to walk through anything alone. Ever,” she added, lifting up her left hand and wiggling her ring finger for Tobin to see.

“Neither do you,” Tobin said, reaching out to take Christen’s hand and kissing the ring on her hand. 

“I think there’s room over on this side,” Scottie said, flipping her arm over to show the underside of the cast. “If Coach Kelley hadn’t written her name so big,” she added with a grin, wrinkling her nose in Kelley’s direction. 

“Oh Kelley,” Crystal sighed, signing her name with a heart on Scottie’s cast.

“Mommy and Momma signed it right at the top,” Scottie beamed, pointing out where Tobin and Christen had written ‘ Mommy and Momma ,’ not their actual signatures. “And Goldfish was first. She’s at the bottom.”

“And those doodles are way too good for Christen to have done them,” Crystal teased, winking across the locker room where Christen was sitting in front of her locker.

“Mommy drew them. It’s me, Momma, Goldfish, and Mommy playing soccer. And that’s us cuddling in a pillow castle. And that’s Momma doing my space buns. And that’s Goldfish eating pizza crusts,” Scottie said with a huge smile as she showed off her cast to Crystal. 

“Sweetheart, sunscreen,” Christen called out, beckoning Scottie over.

Scottie hurried over to Christen’s side. “I’m glad Amanda’s letting me sit on the bench. I guess ballgirls kinda need both arms,” she mumbled as Christen put sunscreen on her face. 

“Assistant coaches sit on the bench with the team, and you’re one of those. Not everybody gets a polo shirt,” Christen pointed out, chuckling a little when Scottie made funny faces at her as she rubbed the rest of the sunscreen in.

“Momma,” Scottie hummed. 

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” Christen teased, winking at Scottie as she sat back in her chair.

“My heart feels ginormous,” Scottie said with a lopsided smile. 

“Why’s that?” Christen asked, unable not to smile back at Scottie when she looked this happy.

“I just feel loved all over,” Scottie shrugged, holding up her cast and looking at all the signatures, some from classmates, most from Gotham players, and a few from people at Gio’s. 

“You are loved all over. That’s the best part of the cast. You won’t be able to forget it,” Christen replied, tapping the purple cast lightly.

“Do you need me to do your tape?” Scottie asked, moving closer to lean against Christen’s knee. 

Christen wrapped the tape around her wrist and then held it up for Scottie to tear it.

“Oh…” Scottie mumbled, looking down at her bad arm that really couldn’t tear it. 

“Together,” Christen replied softly, holding onto one side of the tape and nodding at Scottie’s good hand.

Scottie reached out and tore the tape, making sure that the torn end of the tape could stick down on Christen’s wrist. 

“Thank you,” Christen murmured, setting the roll of tape back in her locker and grabbing the Sharpie.

“I like Grandma and Grandpa’s, but I’m gonna miss you and Mommy next weekend,” Scottie sighed. 

“We won’t be gone too long,” Christen promised, finishing up the writing on her wrist. 

“Do you guys need alone adult time? Gemma’s dad needs that sometimes,” Scottie said as Christen put some tape around her own wrist. 

Christen nodded, trying not to let her smile fall at the thought of being in Atlanta at this time next weekend.

“We do. But do you remember what we talked about last night when your Mommy was asleep with Goldfish on the couch?” Christen asked.

“Yes,” Scottie nodded excitedly. “Our family post-World Cup trip.”

“Mhm, that’s right,” Christen grinned, kissing the tape around Scottie’s wrist and then sitting back in her chair. “How should we tell Tobin? Any ideas? Her birthday is in a month and I think we should definitely do it then.”

“Ummm...we could get her a jar of sand,” Scottie laughed. 

“And put a tub of Greek yogurt in the sand,” Christen chuckled, playing along.

“We could just leave a bunch of clues around the house. Like Greek salad, olives, sand, yogurt…Oh! Those spinach things.”

“Spanakopita?” Christen asked with a smile.

“Mommy likes those,” Scottie nodded with a grin. 

“I think we’re going to blow her away with this surprise, birthday, pre-wedding trip,” Christen replied, knocking her fist against Scottie’s.

“Can we go swimming in the ocean?” Scottie asked as she laced her fingers with Christen’s and practically hopped from foot to foot with excitement. 

Christen gestured at the cast around Scottie’s wrist. “So long as you’ve got that off and have taken really good care of yourself, then we can definitely go swimming.”

“The cast stopped being cool as soon as I realized I couldn’t swim and everything started itching,” Scottie groaned. 

“I know, sweetheart. Here,” Christen hummed, reaching out for Scottie’s cast. She pulled Scottie’s cast up to her mouth and blew cool air into the gap between Scottie’s skin and the cast, and then tapped gently on it, making Scottie giggle. “How’s that?”

“Better,” Scottie sighed, finally feeling slight relief. “You and Mommy are magic.”

“You are too,” Christen replied softly. “Ready to go kick some...butt?”

“I’m ready to watch my Momma kick butt,” Scottie beamed. “And then we can get dinner with Auntie Dunny.”

“And we can even bring Coach Becky too,” Christen hummed, poking her finger into the dimple in Scottie’s cheek that was getting more prominent as she got older.

“Cool beans!” Scottie cheered, holding onto one of Christen’s hands as they headed out of the locker room to line up in the tunnel.