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The worst part of their early Olympic departure is that there are no games, for her team at least, scheduled for two weeks once they get back. Christen’s great after their loss, she lets her mope in her apartment for two days but wakes her for a seven am yoga session on the third and gently nudges her back towards normal life. It starts with the yoga but that day when Christen leaves her sitting on a stool at her island with a kiss on the cheek she mentions something about dinner and beer. The day after that is Friday and Christen finishes early in the afternoon at work so she offers to take Christen to an apple orchard even though it’s still mid-August but she happily agrees, they’re able to lounge around on benches and swings set up around the property and on Saturday Christen takes the weekend off to see how her staff manages to operate without her there on the busiest days of the week so they go to a lake that Christen’s been talking about going to forever.

 

When they get back to her apartment, skin tan from the sun, hair frizzy from the water, and legs cramped from sitting in the car, she spots her bag of training gear and her ball bag sitting in the trunk where Christen had packed their towels and a cooler full of snacks and water for the afternoon. Something sticks with her as they ride the elevator back up to her apartment and when they drop their bags on the floor. She watches as Christen heads to her bedroom, digging through her drawers until she finds one of Tobin’s Nike t-shirts and a pair of leggings that at this point she’s not sure whose they are.

 

Christen turns back to her, her face scrunching softly in confusion as she holds up the clothes in her hand, “I’m going to hop in the shower, you coming?”

 

Tobin smiles at her hopeful look, normally she’d be so down for every moment she gets to spend naked with Christen but there’s something itching in the back of her brain and Christen will still be here in an hour or two, “I’d love to but I think I’m gonna go to the park, take some shots or something. Just for an hour or two.”

 

“Yeah?” Christen perks up a little, dropping the clothes back onto the bed.

 

“Yeah, it’s just,” She taps a little at the door frame, eyeing the drawer where she keeps her soccer shorts, “I haven’t touched a ball in like a week, I just need to go play for a little while.”

 

“Do you want me to come with?” Christen offers at her with a smile.

 

“Do you want to come?” Tobin’s brow quirks up in offering.

 

“Sure,” Christen shrugs, reaching back to the bed to grab the abandoned clothes but also going in for a sports bra.

 

“Okay,” Tobin licks her lips, watching as Christen reaches behind her back to untie the strings of her still damp bikini, briefly wondering why she thought going to the park was a good idea in the first place when she’s got a perfectly beautiful woman undressing in front of her.

 

“So you’ve got three options,” Tobin’s head snaps up from the trail she’d been tracing down Christen’s torso to her face in confusion at the statement, “You can stay there staring at me naked, you can play in your wet bikini and jean shorts, or you can get changed and we can go.”

 

Tobin smirks back at her, lifting her own shirt above her head and snapping it in the direction of Christen’s butt but she jumps out of the way before making contact with her, “Okay smartass.”

 

-

 

Christen helps her with gear, carries her training bag in the dark until they get out of the parking lot and under the lights of the high school field she likes to practice on by herself. It’s artificial turf but it doesn’t matter because it’s not like she’s going to tackle herself or anything, the high school’s mascot emblazoned in the center of the field, with goalposts sitting behind the net. Christen stands back with her hands on her hips while she sets up some cones. She doesn’t want to make Christen run, doesn’t really know what Christen’s expectations for this are, so she starts jogging by herself along the thirty yard line. On her way back from the other side of the field she sees Christen smirking at her, ready to start running on the sideline and she joins her for a second and third pass down the line.

 

She ends no more tired than Tobin is and just stands back, watching as Tobin dumps five balls out of her bag, lining them up along the back line of the penalty box. Tobin knows that she probably shouldn’t just pick up some balls, take some shots, without a little warming up of some sort but decides against it, she just wants to feel the ball hit her foot and see the swoosh of a net. She’s a little ambitious, aims her first shot for the upper right corner using her left foot, it hits the back of the net and she sighs a little bit in relief before moving the next one. She switches, sinking it into the middle of the net this time. The third and fifth also hit the net but the fourth one goes a little awry and flies left of the goal, hitting the fence past the track. Christen jogs over and is holding the ball on the sideline, waiting for Tobin to finish her last shot before Tobin spins around to face her.

 

“You gonna kick it over?” Tobin asks, waiting at her spot, lining the balls back up on the line.

“I don’t know if I can make it from here,” Christen shrugs, rolling the ball beneath her right foot.

 

Tobin smiles back, daringly, “Try.”

 

She watches as Christen hovers and hesitates a little, takes a step back, and stubs the ball with what she probably thinks is the inside of her foot but is just barely the inside of her toe. She tries not to laugh but can’t contain herself, especially after Christen erupts at her own pathetic attempt.

 

“Okay then,” She catches her breath, “Come here.”

 

“No,” Christen shakes her head adamantly, but with a smile on her face.

 

“What?” Tobin stops over the ball she instinctively started rolling in between her feet, “Why?”

 

“Because I can tell by the smirk on your face that you’re going to make a fool out of me,” She stands defensively with her arms crossed, a matching smirk on her lips.

 

“What,” Tobin approaches her, ball following at her feet, “Like this?”

Christen gasps as the ball that she was watching at Tobin’s feet knocks right through her legs, “Tobin!”

 

“Maybe if you’d just let me teach you, that wouldn’t have been necessary,” She jokes as she circles back around to grab the ball before she stands in front of Christen again.

 

“You little shit,” Christen reaches out to grab onto her shirt but she slides away just fast enough that Christen misses her, because maybe in the apartment she may be able to catch her off guard or maybe she tones down her reflexes but on the field, with a ball at her feet, Christen doesn’t stand a chance.

 

“Gonna have to be a little faster than that,” She pulls the ball backward with her, standing a few feet back from Christen, “How about we start with passing?”

 

“No, no,” Christen holds up her hand, waving a little in refusal, “Really, do your thing. I’m just here to watch.”

 

“C’mon Chris,” Tobin taps the ball with just enough pace that she knows will roll softly to Christen’s feet, “It’ll be fun, I promise.”

 

-

 

There’s a game on a Sunday, luckily a home game, that Tobin cherishes. She thinks that she needs the sound of the crowd, cheering for her and not against her. This season has been a little weird, a lot of the rosters have changed, and for the first time in a long time, if ever even, they beat Kansas City easily. Surprisingly, she feels fine in the game. Unlike after losing after the World Cup, her mind isn’t frantic, thinking of all the passes she missed, shots she should have taken, and issues with the refs.

 

Christen is there after, waiting with the other friends and family of her teammates, and Tobin wraps her arms tight around her neck with a smile beaming on her face. She’d just found out in a press conference that her assist tonight put her dangerously close to breaking the league’s assist record and their win means that they’re one game ahead of the Spirit but still up two points, leaving them at the top of the table and that much closer to the playoffs.

 

They go out like usual, Becky joins them with her boyfriend who lives in Portland along with a few other players from the other team that are friends with their teammates. Christen buys their drinks this time and they head back to her apartment afterwards.

 

She practices up until Wednesday, Christen is going to fly out with her to Rhode Island for the world’s quickest trip later that night, coming back on Sunday morning on a five am flight for her game in Portland that night. It’s not the only wedding they’re going to this fall, they’re going to two of Christen’s friends in LA and Allie’s in Florida also.

 

Tobin feels like she was completely over packing for such a short trip but she needs clothes for the few days but also a dress for the rehearsal dinner, Christen has to bring her suitcase over from her apartment to grab some things she’d left at Tobin’s apartment over the months, and maybe grab of few of Tobin’s things as well.

 

Christen is kind of like her shadow throughout the weekend, Tobin herself doesn’t necessarily have that many duties since the wedding had been planned across the country in a really short amount of time. A lot of the people there she doesn’t really know, truth be told she doesn’t even know Perry’s fiance that well since she’d only met him about a year ago, so she has to introduce herself just about as much as she does Christen.

 

It’s fun though, Christen has been talking about coming back ever since they left after the send off a couple months before. She offers to watch Cole so that Katie and her mom don’t have to worry about him while they get their hair and makeup done with the bridal party, they sit with her family and Christen listens to the stories they tell of their childhood along the beach, her dad joining them this time, and even though they need to leave to get a few hours of sleep before leaving for the airport she dances close to Christen as the night wears on. She’s admittedly a bit sad to leave her family after such a short amount of time since she doesn’t get to see them that often but she also catches word that there’s going to be some sort of field naming ceremony that she doesn’t know all the details of but it does mean that she’ll be coming back sooner than she thought she’d be able to.

 

Given the roster of her team she’s not surprised but as each week goes on they manage to remain at the top of the table and they clinch their playoff spot soon after her return from Jersey. Somehow they end up back there maybe two or three weeks later, Christen tows along, and helps her write her ten minute speech that she’s freaking out about even though she was in fact a communications major in college, a couple days later she watches the game in Jersey that she’s playing with her family in the stands.

 

The shield is a big deal for her, because while it’s not a championship she does consider it a token of the hard work she’s dedicated and put into the club this season, a sort of tangible reward for her hard work during the season. She tries to play off her assist record but it gets difficult every time Christen brings it up, insisting they need to keep celebrating.

 

-

 

“So,” Christen states one morning as Tobin is enjoying a cup of coffee that Christen had made for her, since Christen owns a studio and the weekends are her busiest days it’s more frequent that she has days off in the middle of the week, this Wednesday is one of those days.

 

“So what?” Tobin prods as Christen slides into a chair next to her, propping her feet on the rung of the bottom of Tobin’s chair.

 

“So,” Christen exhales a little, sighing and sliding her cup of coffee on the table before dropping her hands on Tobin’s knees, “I need to make some decisions soon, at work.”

 

“What kind of decisions?” Tobin tries to rack her brain for possible expansions that Christen might have mentioned and washed over her brain but comes up dry.

 

“Well, you know how when I came to visit in February and I said that I would be moving up here for a year or so,” Christen works at maintaining eye contact with her but she feels a little nauseous as she puts her mug back on the table before Christen clarifies, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said it like that. I mean, I’m going to stay here, I want to stay here.”

 

Tobin lets a breath of air out she didn’t know that she was holding, “Okay, good. Wow, sorry, I just wasn’t expecting that and I thought you were going to say you were going back to LA, which I mean if that’s what you want then you should-”

 

“Tobin, stop rambling, listen for a second,” She lifts her hand up to Tobin’s head, brushes some hair behind her ears, “I miss LA and you know that but I want to be here, with you, that’s what I want. It’s just that we haven’t talked much about the offseason and I wanted to know if you were going to be here, in Portland, during the offseason.”

 

“I mean, for the most part, I was planning on it,” Tobin grabs her hand before it drops to her lap, “Maybe not for like Christmas, and I’ve got that camp in November and one for two weeks in January, but if you’re going to be here, I want to be here.”

 

“Okay,” Christen nods, “I just wanted to check in, we haven’t talked much about what’s going on after the season ends and Allie’s wedding. And you said you usually bounce around between friends and family offseason.”

 

“I don’t have any plans,” She shrugs, she hasn’t even started to think that far in advance.

 

“There’s two things then, that I want to talk about a little. So my dad has this big charity thing, it’s in London in December, and my parents thought it’d be fun if we all went out for an early Christmas present. Normally I wouldn’t ask but I know you have like a million miles and-”

 

“Christen,” She hushes a little, “You know I’d love to come. Just keep me in the loop with plans, we’ll figure it out.”

 

“Great,,” Christen breathes a little and Tobin’s not sure why should would have been nervous but figures it’s just apart of her nature that Tobin’s picked up on over the months.

 

“Now what else?”

 

“Um, I want to move, out of this apartment that is,” Tobin falters a little at her words since she’d only been living here in this apartment for half a year, her lease isn’t even near being up.

 

“Why?”

 

“It’s a great apartment and all, really nice but,” She looks around, shrugging her shoulders, “If I’m going to be out here longer than just this year I want to bring my dogs up, which this complex doesn’t allow, so when my lease is up I think I’m gonna find a new one.”

 

“Okay well,” Tobin leans back in her chair, relieving the hunch of her shoulders, “Let me know how I can help, alright? I can come look with you or help you move, whatever you need.”

 

Christen squeezes their clasped hands, “Thanks.”

 

“Love you,” Tobin puckers her lips, waiting for Christen’s response.

 

“I love you too,” Instead of just Christen’s lips flushing against hers, she feels her sit down on her lap, wrap her arms around her neck, and finally press a kiss to her lips.

 

-

 

Tobin is excited the morning of the playoff game, she wakes up well rested, relaxed, and confident. Christen is next to her, a hand playing with her hair in the way that makes her want to stay up late at night listening to the rain hit her window while she laughs in bed with Christen, a bottle of beer on her nightstand and a glass of red wine on Christen’s. She knows that can wait for later that night.

 

The game is mid afternoon and the locker room is ‘lit’ as Emily described it when she entered, probably a few minutes later than most of the team as usual. The pep talks are great, she can hear the roar of the stadium in the locker room after warm up and before walking out, and she’s more than ready to get out there, win, and book tickets for her family and Christen to go to Houston.

 

There’s not a single person on the team whose head isn’t in the game, isn’t more than one hundred percent dedicated to this game. Her national team teammates are looking for redemption after their disappointing Olympics exit, Sinc is looking to redeem herself from Canada’s semi-final Olympic loss for the second time in a row, Amandine who’s never lost a club championship but has never won an international competition even though her team probably is consistently one of the best in the world, Nadia and Dagny who will probably never be able to compete in the Olympics but deserve to, and all the women who aren’t on a national team but were the backbone of the league while they were all gone.

 

The 2-0 lead doesn’t reflect their team in the way that it should but Sinc’s quick return goal and Emily’s wonder goal off of her own free kick show that they don’t give up, just like Lindsey’s goal in their second extra time half after they’d gone down by two yet again. It doesn’t work though.

 

She sits on the ground, accepts her roses for her assist, and tries to keep from sobbing on the field, because really there’s no other emotion that she can feel but the overwhelming heartbreak.

 

There isn’t really a time where she could say her personal life fixed her soccer life, normally it’s vice versa. She could always just turn back around and dig herself into soccer and everything would always be okay. Now though, with no major tournament in sight, she’s glad that she’s got something, or rather someone, to catch her when she falls.

 

The moment she sees Christen is the moment she knows that she can’t hold it together anymore, that she doesn’t need to hold it together anymore.

 

“Oh my God,” She crashes into Christen, changed, damp from the shower, and a little numb from their coaches recap, “Tobin, sweetheart, I love you, so much.”

 

Tears stream down onto Christen’s jacket but she can’t make words form because of the burning sensation in her throat so she just nods, hoping that Christen understands her response.

 

As Christen brings her hands up to tangle in her hair, she thinks about her thoughts from the morning, thinking that she’ll definitely be needing that beer or a glass of wine tonight.

 

Tobin is the type of person who finds comfort in physical touch, not in the way that she thinks that sex will help her get over the emotions that she feels but in the way that when she’s sad or happy the thing that will elevate her mood is a hug, a hand on her knee, or someone playing with her hair. She thinks that this is the reason why she always wants to be the big spoon or that she is always the first person to offer a hug when someone else is crying, so for some reason she thinks that Christen might be the same way as her because she does the same thing that she did after the Olympics, curls up behind her, wraps an arm around her waist, and presses soft kisses against her shoulder every once in awhile.

 

“Tobs,” Christen’s voice breaks the silence that had filled the room since they had climbed into bed after dinner, “You know, I’m really proud of you. This year hasn’t been easy on you but you’ve handled it really well.”

 

Tobin feels like she’s almost choked on the snot that’s collected in her nose from her day of crying when she laughs at the end of Christen’s statement, “No I haven’t.”

 

“Oh Tobin,” Christen sighs and she can feel her moving to rest her head on her elbow, leaning halfway over Tobin to kiss her on the cheek, “You have, when we first met, I don’t even know how to explain it. It was like you just needed somebody to escape to, it’s hard to explain, it’s like you just needed somebody who didn’t know anything about you so that you could get away. Like you were running. I was really worried after the Olympics, but look how you turned everything around. I know this is just one more kick in the butt from 2016 but you’ll be fine, it’ll be okay.”

 

Tobin traces the fingers resting on her stomach for a few moments, “The common denominator is you Chris.”

 

“Tobin,” Christen kisses the back of her neck softly, Tobin’s hair getting stuck in her lips so she blows softly so that she doesn’t have to move either of her arms from Tobin’s body, “That doesn’t make any sense.”

 

She lifts Christen’s hand to her lips, kissing the back of her hand softly, “You’re there, you’re always just there to pick things up, put me together. It’s like you know just what to say to make me feel better. I don’t know how, or why, you do it. But you do, and it’s crazy.”

 

“You don’t give yourself enough credit,” Christen’s voice gets quieter, turns to a whisper, “It’s all you, anything extra that I can do to help, it’s cause I love you.”

 

“I’m glad that you’re staying here next year Chris,” Tobin matches her pitch, her words coming out in a soft whisper, “I can’t believe it’s only been a few months because I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

 

“Ya know,” Christen smiles into her shoulder as she presses another kiss down, “I have this strange feeling that as long as you’re here, I’ll be here.”

 

-

 

The next morning Christen gets up for work like usual, snoozes her alarm the moment it rings so that she can let Tobin sleep in, slides out of bed and runs to turn the shower on in hopes that the water will by hot by the time she finishes brushing her teeth, which she knows isn’t very Portland of her but she can’t help it if the impending fall is getting colder by the day and her brittle California skin can’t tolerate the changing temperatures.

 

Tobin smiles at the frown she shoots over when she exits the bathroom, curly hair tied tight in a bun on top of her head and Tobin’s oversized shirt probably not grazing past the bottom of her butt, in search of a clean sports bra and some athleisure wear for the few hours she’s planning on spending in her office today.

 

“You’re up,” Christen states as if she’s a bit disappointed, probably because she thinks that Tobin is exhausted and should be sleeping later than 6:30 after her restlessness the night before.

 

“Yeah,” Tobin nods, her journal propped up on her knees, back resting on a stack of pillows behind her neck, “I’m hungry, breakfast and coffee?”

 

“Of course you are,” Christen shakes her head slightly as she pulls a Nike crewneck from one of Tobin’s dresser drawers, “Sure, I just need to get to the studio by 7:30, first class is at 8.”

 

“Perfect,” She stretches her arms above her head, clasping her hands together and leaning sideways before stepping out of bed, cringing as her feet touch the cold hardwood floors, “I’ll brush my teeth and we’ll go.”

 

“And change!” Christen hollers at her as she starts running the water in the sink.

 

“Waddya saw?” She sticks her head out the bathroom door, toothbrush hanging in her mouth.

 

“I said,” Christen states forcefully, “And you need to change. You can’t just keep leaving the apartment in what you slept in.”

 

Tobin just turns back into the bathroom after she hears Christen’s statement. It’s a recurring ‘topic of discussion’ they’d had a few times. Tobin thinks that she’s especially susceptible to cold, particularly at night, so when she goes to bed she always layers in some combination of sweatshirt, long sleeve, sweatpants, leggings, anything that covers her from neck to ankle really isn’t off limits. That’s the first part of the issue, Christen, despite refusing to wear anything more than a tank top or t-shirt and a pair of panties, always complains that Tobin’s koala bear like cuddling tendencies warm her to unbearable temperatures in the night, causing her to shrug the comforter off, thus unbalancing Tobin’s internal thermostat and causing her great distress. The other part is that Christen hates when Tobin simply rolls out of bed, brushes her teeth, and leaves in the exact same clothes she’d worn to bed when she’s got practically the whole Nike factory in her dresser. Tobin thinks it’s the reasonable thing to do, especially if she doesn’t smell and is going to have to change into team issued apparel an hour after they usually grab coffee. Christen always retaliates by saying that she doesn’t seem to have any issues with being cold when sleeping isn’t the only bedroom activity on their itinerary for the night. That usually shuts Tobin up.

 

“Only for you,” Tobin winks as she shrugs out of a long sleeve shirt she’d gotten at a tourist shop somewhere with her brother.

 

She tugs Christen out the door, down the hall, and through the parking garage, deciding to drive rather than walk in this mess of rain. Also maybe a little bit to maximize her time with Christen so she doesn’t have to leave early to walk the opposite direction of her apartment to get to the studio in time.

 

Christen holds the door to Case Study open for her as she knocks her hood off her head once they’re relieved by the warm welcome of the shop’s busiest time of day. She also states that it’s on her this morning so Tobin brings her hand up to the base of Christen’s neck and bends around her head to kiss her cheek in thanks as she stands closely behind her in line.

 

When Tobin arrives to the table that Christen nabbed, she’s flicking through the front pages of the newspaper that someone had probably left at the table before them. The coffee is hot, burning her tongue when she’s overeager but warms her hands.

 

-

 

Tobin plops down on a sofa and tries to avoid the glare that Christen is sending her while she chats with the landlord of the third apartment they’ve seen today. That doesn’t include the other six she’s seen over the past two weeks. Each one seemed to have some horrible attribute to it that ruled it out, too small, no pets allowed, ugly wall colors, the list goes on. Christen’s picky and she wasn’t going to seemingly settle for an apartment.

 

There’d only really been one serious contender so far, but Christen had decided to rule that one out too since it was a twenty minute drive from work (and Tobin) which was out of the picture since her current apartment was a ten minute walk to the studio and a quick bike ride to Tobin’s apartment when it wasn’t raining. So here they are again, back at square one.

 

Christen chats politely with the landlord as she glances around the other people mingling about and looking at the apartment. Everyone looks happy, it’s a great apartment really, and talking excitedly. However there’s this look on Christen’s face, like she’s forcing herself to smile as she nods while listening to something about HOA fees or something. When she looks around the apartment herself, she’s not sure exactly why. There’s hardwood floors, granite countertops, neutral white walls, a large living room, a patio, which covers most of Christen’s wish list.

 

She approaches Tobin, holding a hand out to pull her up from the couch, “What’s wrong?”

 

Christen shrugs in response, squeezing Tobin’s hand gently and sighing, “I don’t know, I really thought I’d like this one.”

 

“Me too,” Tobin releases her hand, only to wrap an arm around her back a moment later, “It has everything you want.”

 

“I know,” Christen takes one last glance over her shoulder, waving at the real estate agent showing the apartment as they walk out the door. When they step out into the hallway and are waiting for the elevator she glances up at Tobin again before nudging her head down onto Tobin’s shoulder, “It just doesn’t feel like I could make it home, you know?”

 

“Mmhmm,” Tobin mumbles in agreement, even though she honestly thought Christen could have made it work.

 

-

 

Allie’s wedding is about a week after their last unsuccessful apartment endeavor. Christen boards a plane with Tobin to Florida, she’s exhausted because they’d stayed up late the night before packing and she’d still gotten up to make her eight am cycling class before they left for the airport. Tobin smiles down at her as she lifts up the seat divider and presses her head into her, nodding off before they even take off. The rule is that Tobin can have the window seat if Christen can lay on her.

 

The flight is certainly longer than Tobin cares for but they make decent timing, landing early enough that they can get to Tobin’s mom’s place for the night before they drive their rental to the hotel for Allie’s rehearsal dinner the next day.

 

It’s strikingly different without her siblings there, just her and Christen with her mom and her boyfriend for dinner. It’s quiet, no babies screaming and nobody teasing her or egging her on to probably do something that would turn out to be dumb or embarrassing. Her mom focuses more on learning about Christen, rather than just talking to her or letting her sisters and brother do all the work.

 

The drive to the rehearsal dinner is just about as long as the flight took them but Tobin is enjoying this time with Christen, it’s the first time they’ve ever been on anything resembling a road trip and she tucks that idea in the back of her brain for the rest of the offseason.

 

They run into Allie in the hotel lobby, she’s heading out to Alex’s to go stuff favors and lets them know they’re free to come over and watch if they want. Tobin laughs and promises she’ll come over and help after they check in, unpack, and steam their dresses for the rehearsal dinner tonight.

 

Christen ties her hair up when she pulls out her travel steamer, letting Tobin get to work on the rest of the unpacking. There isn’t much but Tobin hangs Christen’s dress up in the closet and flops on the bed after sliding their toiletry bags on the bathroom counter.

 

Tobin grabs the remote to flip the television on but instead of finding her eyes on HGTV they drift over to Christen’s backside as she squats down to hit the bottom of one of the black dresses. She can see the way that Christen’s back flexes slightly as she moves her arms up and down through the low cut on the back of her pink sweater. She reaches up to rest the steamer on the table, flipping the switch off, and glances back at Tobin.

 

She chuckles softly at the look Tobin is giving her, “What?”

 

“Nothing,” Tobin holds her hands up in innocence as Christen slides onto the bed next to her, reaching out and resting a hand on Tobin’s upper thigh, “You’re pretty hot when you’re all sweaty.”

 

Christen pinches her leg before removing her hand and standing up, “I am not sweaty.”

 

“Just a little,” Tobin holds her fingers really close together as Christen walks to the mirror to check her reflection, sure enough the heat of the steam had done wonders to her forehead and it glistens a little in the poor lighting. She digs through her makeup bag, pulling out some powder to touch up her T-zone.

 

“We going to Alex’s?” She adds as she touches up her eyeliner too.

 

“If you want,” Tobin shrugs, glancing at her phone for time. It’s nearing one since they’d gotten an early start and Alex would probably have some sort of food for them if they wanted lunch, “I can ask if she’s made anything for lunch?”

 

“Okay,” Christen kneels back onto the edge of the bed resting her hand on Tobin’s shin and squeezing at the muscles gently, “I wanna see how nice Alex’s house is.”

Tobin smirks up at her cheekily from where she’s texting on her phone, “It is pretty nice.”

 

The drive to Alex’s is short, through a gated community not that dissimilar from her mother’s. Alex has promised them a chicken salad and chips with guac which is enough to appeal to both her and Christen’s senses. Alex greets them politely at the door, a little too politely for best friends but then she realizes that unlike Allie, Alex has barely met Christen and this is the first time welcoming her to their house. She greets both of them with short hugs, Christen’s just a little shorter than her own and welcomes them in, apologizing for the maze that is Allie’s wedding favors.

 

“Tobin, Christen, you came!” Allie stands up from the back of Alex’s living room, putting down some boxes she was folding on the ground before tiptoeing around everything to smother them in hugs.

 

“Of course,” Christen laughs as Allie squeezes her tightly before releasing her for Tobin.

 

“What kind of maid of honor would I be if I didn’t help with something?” Tobin confirms, glancing over her shoulder to offer a wave back to Servando and Bati in the corner, “Chris have you met Serv yet?”

 

“No, actually,” Christen accepts the hand that she offers out for her so she doesn’t fall around the boxes to go greet the guys and grab some salad, “I haven’t.”

 

Tobin takes her time to introduce the two before she seats herself on the ground with some chips and guac, Christen asks how she can help and even though Alex and Allie refuse she’s a bit stubborn and winds up helping with stuffing some of the boxes after Tobin unfolds them.

 

-

 

Tobin’s not sure if she’s ever been watched so intently as she is the night of Allie’s wedding. Every time she looks up, when she’s holding her bouquet near the altar, taking pictures with her teammates, giving her speech, dancing, wherever she is when she looks up, Christen is there and sending a wink in her direction.

 

“You okay?” Tobin whispers into Christen’s ear during a slow dance, she’s got one arm wrapped around her waist, Christen’s hand on her shoulder, and her other hand clasped with Christen’s.

 

Christen laughs slightly in her ear, pushes some curled hair off her shoulder, and squeezes her hand a little tighter, “Yeah, just can’t keep my eyes off you.”

 

-

 

Christen is pushing Tobin against the door of their hotel room while she’s looking for her room key. Her lips are eager as Tobin fumbles through the clutch she’d thrown some of her stuff in for Christen to hold during the wedding. It’s probably a bit of Tobin’s own fault that Christen is so worked up, she’d not done much else on the taxi ride back to the hotel but play with the edges of the slit in Christen’s dress and steal a few kisses off the side of her neck where her hair was brushed away.

 

When Tobin gets the key out and hands it to Christen to open the door behind her, she nearly falls through at the loss of gravity from behind her back, Christen’s got her arm wrapped around her back though and it keeps her steady enough. Both pairs of their shoes hit the ground quickly but Christen is eager and pushes her back to the bed quickly, her hands roaming up the lace covering Tobin’s torso.

 

“How do I get this off?” She husks into Tobin’s ear as her thumbs rub circles on the skin exposed between the top of her skirt and the bottom of her lace top.

 

“Buttons,” Tobin mumbles as Christen’s lips descend on hers for a moment, she leans up a little so that Christen can have better access to her back but breaking the kiss moments later, “On the back.”

 

Tobin’s resting on her elbows but the angle is difficult for Christen so she moves to sit up for better access. Christen relishes in the shift, humming against her lips now that she’s able to multi task. The top is pulled off quickly, leaving her in her long skirt and nude bra. Christen pauses for a minute, pulling back from the kiss that Tobin had been desperate for and leaves her whimpering in the dust. Christen taps her hip and nods her head, asking for Tobin to move further back on the bed and as she settles, finds the zipper on the side of Tobin’s skirt and pulls it off, tugging her thong with in the process.

 

She slides back up, straddles Tobin before she moves back down to kiss her from her lips and downwards from there on out.

 

-

 

The next morning Tobin wakes cold, stuffy, and disoriented in their hotel room. Their bed is small, definitely not the true size of a queen bed, so Christen is lying on her stomach with her hip pressed into Tobin’s waist and their legs aligned down the rest of their bodies. Normally Christen was the first to wake but the late night and time change is probably kicking in and keeping her asleep, so Tobin decides to slide out of bed and take care of her physical state.

 

The hotel that Allie had set them up to stay at was nice enough that they had robes so Tobin slipped one on before heading to the bathroom to check out her state of being. Her eye makeup is smeared, a swirl of eyeliner, mascara, and eyeshadow matted everywhere above and below her eye sockets, her hair is a disaster, curls matted and rogue bobby pins are hanging in strands around her face. She cringes at the state of her leftover hair as she finishes pulling the bobby pins out and reaches for Christen’s makeup remover. The water of the shower feels hot on her skin and she concludes that once she gets her coffee in her that she’ll feel like a new person.

 

When she emerges, letting the steam out of the bathroom on her way, Christen is sitting up in bed with sheets tucked under her arms and the local news station on. “Morning,” She states and puckers her lips in Tobin’s direction until she comes over to peck her lips, “Wanna go grab coffee and breakfast after I shower?”

 

“Yes,” Tobin agrees with her towel wrapped around her body still as she retreats to find some clothes, “Please.”

 

Tobin sneaks a peak over her shoulder and laughs as Christen tip-toe runs into the bathroom as the cold hits her skin, grabbing a towel and hastily wrapping it around her body before slipping into the bathroom. When she returns, she also looks like a new person, her skin clean and hair falling in wet curls on her neck. After she changes and puts a coat of mascara on, she dabs some product in her fingers and scrunches her hair a little, not even attempting to fight the Florida humidity. Tobin’s blow dried her hair halfway, enough so she wouldn’t get water stains on her t-shirt.

 

They agree to just go find a Starbucks, their lack of morning energy discouraging them from taking the time to google somewhere else to go. It’s near their hotel which is satisfying and Tobin doesn’t think she realized exactly how hungry she was until she’s got half a bagel in her mouth. Christen’s up putting creamer in her coffee but had given Tobin her phone and wallet to take back with her, her phone buzzes loudly against the table with a notification. Tobin sighs when she sees that it’s an email notification from some apartment hunting website that Christen had signed up for to let her know when new listings got put up.

 

Tobin slides the phone across the table to Christen when she sits down, “New apartment listing.”

 

“Did you look at it?” Christen asks eagerly, sliding it open, “Does it look nice?” Tobin shrugs because she has no clue and watches as Christen sighs and quickly shuts her phone off again, explaining, “Wrong location, doesn’t allow dogs. I ranked those as my top two requirements so I don’t understand why I keep getting emails for places like that.”

 

“You know,” Tobin states as she spreads some cream cheese over the other half of her bagel, “They allow dogs in my apartment complex.”

 

Christen laughs for a minute before she looks contemplative when Tobin glances up at her response, “Are you saying I should move into your apartment complex?”

 

Likewise, Tobin laughs at Christen’s response, “No Chris, I mean technically yeah, but have you ever thought of just moving into my apartment?”

 

“I-” Christen stammers a little over her words, “It’s not that I wouldn’t want to, obviously, it’s just that isn’t that a little fast? We haven’t even really known each other a year yet.”

 

Tobin shrugs because the response is not that shocking to her, Christen obviously hadn’t thought of it before which doesn’t surprise her considering how many apartments they’d seen yet she hasn’t given up on searching, “I know, it’s just the other day when we were out looking at that apartment that was, like, perfect on paper but you didn’t love, I was thinking that I could probably count on two hands the amount of nights we haven’t spent together while we were both in Portland. It might be fast and that’s fine if you want to keep looking but I just thought I’d put the offer out there.”

 

Christen reaches her hand out across the table and squeezes her right hand before she starts to play with her ring, “I’ll think about it, I just hadn’t considered it, but you’re right we do spend every night together anyways.”

 

“Don’t think too hard,” Tobin smiles reassuringly at her, “If now’s not the right time, that’s fine and I completely understand.”

 

“Okay,” Christen smiles back at her, “Love you.”

 

“Love you too.”

 

-

 

Tobin is pretty restless between Thanksgiving and leaving for Europe. Christen is back home from visiting her family in North Carolina and she’s done with soccer for the rest of the year so without any games in sight her time is mostly free for a change. There’s a whole big game plan for Europe, London for a week with Christen’s family, Spain so that Christen can show Tobin around where she studied in college and Tobin can coincidentally go to El Classico, and a final stop in Sweden for kicks and giggles.

 

When Tobin wakes up in their hotel room in London after their first night she feels refreshed. She’d stayed up the rest of the day after they’d landed and gotten a full night's sleep to try and combat jet lag. Christen seemed like she’d been just as tired as her when she fell asleep so she assumes that the curly haired woman next to her had gotten a similar amount of sleep. The whole family had turned in after coming home from dinner and drinks which had just about set everyone over the edge.

 

The first half of their day is spent walking around mostly, they grab some Oyster cards and take the tube as necessary. Mostly they just take the time to look at different tourist attractions near the Thames. It’s actually nice to take some time to enjoy the city since she’d been quite a few times between the Olympics and playing in the champion’s league but she’d mostly been focused on soccer and squeezing in a limited amount of tourist attractions.

 

Just after lunchtime, Christen’s parents split off from them to get to a mic rehearsal for Cody’s event and subsequently the siblings decide to split up after some people state their desires for a nap. Tobin agrees to staying out with Christen so they bid everyone else farewell at the tube stop.

 

Christen holds her close as they explore, keeping their bodies close to share body heat.

 

-

 

When they’re back home and enjoying some relative peace in between workouts and Christmas shopping, Tobin finds herself decorating her apartment with new additions of Christmas decor just about every time she steps out for some shopping.

 

It’d started with a small and modest fake Christmas tree for the corner of her living room, then it was stockings, which snowballed into some Christmas lights for the mantle of her fireplace and from then on it all just went downhill. Christen had caught the Christmas fever as well and would occasionally bring home little decorations like the JOY sign sitting in the middle of her counter and the matching Christmas pajamas they now had in her dresser drawers.

 

Tobin is sitting on the floor of her apartment, wrapping paper and ribbon surrounding her while Christen gets some work done on her laptop. She’s been pretty quiet for the late afternoon, probably sending off emails to people or something that’s over Tobin’s head when it comes to businesses.

 

She’s so in the zone that she misses what Christen’s voice says when it cuts through the Christmas music in the background.

 

“Huh?” Tobin bites her lip as she presses some tape onto a book that she’s wrapping for her sister, “Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

 

When she looks up Christen is hunched over her laptop still, scrolling through something, “I was just asking if you’ve ever seen one of the two bedrooms here?”

 

“No, why?” Tobin asks confused, Christen’s apartment search hadn’t found its endpoint yet but it wasn’t really concerning Tobin that much since her lease didn’t end until March anyway.

 

“I just think,” She pauses again, like she does when she’s trying to concentrate on something but Tobin is distracting or pestering her, “If I’m going to move in here with my dogs that we might need some more room.”

 

“Really?” Tobin asks, trying to keep her excitement at bay. There’d been a little touch and go about the moving situation but nothing concrete since they’d originally talked in Orlando, “You think you want to move in here, with me?”

 

“Well I’m not going to move into one of the two bedrooms by myself,” Christen smiles at her, she looks excited, “But we should go look at one first. I was thinking it might be nice to have the dogs sleep in a second bedroom, we can always have them sleep out here if anyone ever comes to visit us.”

 

“You’re sure,” Tobin pushes herself up off the floor and walks to the couch, Christen’s got the apartment complex’s website pulled up on her laptop and was looking at the floorplan of one of the larger apartments. Gently, Tobin pushes Christen’s laptop closed and puts it on the coffee table, “You’re not just doing this because you can’t find exactly the apartment you want or because I want you to?”

 

“Tobs,” Christen reaches up to grab her hand, tugging at it so she falls on the couch next to her, “Of course not, you know me, you know I wouldn’t be saying this if I hadn’t thought about it or if I didn’t really want it.”

 

“Okay so,” Tobin loops one hand through Christen’s before resting the other on top of it, “I’ll call the leasing office? We can try and go walk through a two bedroom?”


“Sounds great,” Christen agrees, leaning over to give Tobin a kiss.