Actions

Work Header

under pink skies

Chapter Text

Following that night, it’s four straight days of texts that never really end, but only get put on hold during sleeping hours or while Tobin’s at training.

 

It's almost mindless conversations, just getting to know each other and learning each other’s personalities, but every single text she gets from Christen feels immensely more important than that.

 

Tobin learns that Christen’s favorite color is yellow and her favorite flowers are lilies. She tells Christen her favorite color is pink (but only if it’s pink like a sunset, not obnoxious bubble gum pink) and that she doesn't like flowers because the smell reminds her of funerals, but if she had to pick one, it would be tulips because they're her mom’s favorite.

 

Christen shares details about growing up in California and her time at Stanford. (Tobin teases her for being a nerd and Christen doesn't deny it.) Tobin tells her about New Jersey and her years at UNC. She tells her she's loved all the places she's been, but that California is definitely her favorite and not just because of the surfing, though that's a big part of it.

 

Christen teases her for taking the surfer girl role too seriously when Tobin says The Beach Boys are her favorite band and Tobin teases her right back when she says Tracy Chapman is her favorite.

 

Christen talks about Nata a lot, which she apologizes for when she realizes how much he's monopolized their conversations, but Tobin insists she doesn't mind. Even though they're just talking through text, Tobin can tell how much Christen lights up when she talks about her son and Tobin loves it. Tobin loves listening to people talk about their passions and for Christen, hers is her son.

 

They talk about their jobs some, Christen is still trying to learn about soccer and Tobin has no idea what being a magazine editor entails, but they teach each other.

 

They don't make official plans for seeing each other again, but they do talk about it. Tobin can tell Christen is waiting for her to ask her out, but Tobin doesn't want to do it through text or even a phone call, so she just bides her time until she sees Christen again.

 

That day can’t come soon enough.

xxx

“As interesting as I’m sure your phone is, please don’t leave me to deal with the lovebirds on my own. It’s nauseating.”

 

Tobin looks up from her phone, where she’s of course typing out a response to Christen, and sees Allie--her closest friend from UNC aside from Amy and Lauren--glaring at her with icy blue eyes.

 

She has enough shame to blush as she tucks her phone away--not before finishing her text--and then turns her attention back on her friends.

 

As per tradition, Allie, Kelley, Emily and Tobin are all out after their game in Portland. It ended in a 2-2 draw, which would usually be for the best because it means they’re all equally annoyed. Tonight though, Emily was marking Kelley on a corner in the final seconds of second half stoppage time and Kelley managed to slip away and score the equalizer, so Emily is definitely more annoyed than anyone. That means Kelley is trying extra hard to make her not annoyed by being overly gross with her affection, despite being in public.

 

Allie’s right about it being nauseating.

 

“She’s paying just as much attention to her girlfriend as I am,” Kelley mutters, planting another obnoxious, smacking kiss to Emily’s cheek until she starts to, reluctantly, giggle.

 

Tobin kicks out at Kelley’s shin, ignoring the grunt in pain she receives. She can’t believe she actually did that. Well, she can because it’s a total Kelley thing to do, she just really wishes she hadn’t. This isn’t how she wanted Allie to find out.

 

“Whoa, wait. Girlfriend?” Allie asks in shock, wide eyes bouncing back and forth between a glaring Tobin and an oblivious, loved up Kelley. “Since when do you have a girlfriend and why was I not informed about this?”

 

Tobin’s about to answer and deny everything when Kelley steps in instead, managing to pull her lips away from Emily’s face for five seconds. “Since the hot mom she’s been crushing on for the past few weeks texted her. She’s been all googly eyed the past few days. She hasn’t told you because she’s in denial that she’s completely smitten with the girl.”

 

Tobin balls up her napkin and throws it in Kelley’s direction, but the flimsiness of the paper means it lands in Emily’s lap instead, but she barely notices, just as shocked by this information as Allie is.

 

“I have so many questions,” Allie gasps, eyes wide with shock.

 

“I’ll start. ‘Hot mom?’” Emily asks a second later.

 

“You’re a dick and I hate you,” Tobin groans at Kelley, rolling her eyes and leaning back against the booth with a huff. She resists the urge to cross her arms, not wanting to start pouting completely, but she comes close.

 

“I’ll repeat Emily’s question, ‘hot mom?’” Allie asks, not letting this go no matter how obvious Tobin is making it that she wishes she would.

 

“It’s not a big deal,” Tobin says before Kelley can jump in and drop another bomb that’s totally going to result in Tobin lacing all of Kelley’s shoes upside down while Kelley is at Emily’s tonight. “She’s a friend of Amy’s I met when I picked up Ryan from her house one day. Her son is friends with Ryan, so they came to a game a few weeks ago. That’s all it is.”

 

Kelley has an amused smirk on her face at Tobin’s lame explanation, but she doesn’t say anything more. She just reaches forward to pick at the remaining cheese fries they ordered as an appetizer (it’s not as bad of a cheat if they split it four ways) and let's Tobin work herself out of the mess she put her in.

 

Neither Emily or Allie appear to believe Tobin, but Emily holds back on her own questions, deciding that since Allie knows her better, she’s going to let her take the lead and then she’ll follow up after.

 

Allie narrows her eyes, trying to size Tobin up, as she asks, “if that’s all it is, then why have you spent the last hour texting her?”

 

“Last four days,” Kelley corrects, trying to lamely pass it off as a cough.

 

“Four days? You’ve been texting this girl for four days and you’re trying to pass it off as nothing?” Allie asks incredulously. “You never text any girl you’re pursuing for more than a day or two and then you get bored.”

 

“I’m not pursuing her,” Tobin insists, though she’s not convincing anyone, not even herself.

 

While she may be doing it slowly, she’s most definitely pursuing Christen. She’s taking her time and making each moment count, but there’s really no way she can deny that she’s actively trying to seek something out with Christen. She wants her and has wanted her for a few weeks now. She knows she can’t keep pretending she doesn’t, but that isn’t going to stop her from trying.

 

“I know I’ve only known you for a little over two years, but I have never seen you blush over a girl, so this one must be something special,” Emily observes, earning her yet another kiss on the cheek from Kelley, who’s proud her girlfriend is joining in on teasing her best friend.

 

Tobin starts to open her mouth and deny that she’s doing any such thing, but she can feel the heat in her cheeks, so she knows it’s useless. Instead, she decides to just admit as much as she’s willing, enough to satisfy her nosy as hell friends and get them off her back, but little enough that she isn’t revealing her most poorly kept secret.

 

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Tobin clarifies, though she doesn’t think any of them actually believe it. “But I may or may not have feelings for her.” Allie literally squeals at this information, but she manages to keep her questions in until Tobin continues. “She’s cute and she’s smart and yeah, we’ve been texting for the last few days, but we’re still just getting to know each other, okay? There’s really nothing else to tell.”

 

“Cute is a fucking understatement,” Kelley finally chimes in, ignoring the glare from Emily. “She’s ridiculously hot. Show them that picture you’ve been drooling over when you think I’m not looking.” She groans in complaint when Emily elbows her ribs. “You’re obviously way hotter, sweetheart,” she says as sweetly as possible.

 

“Watch it,” Emily warns smoothly, narrowing her eyes in Kelley’s direction one more time before turning towards Tobin again.

 

“You have a picture?” Allie asks. “This I’ve definitely got to see. Show me the girl who’s turning Tobin Powell Heath into a blushing fool.”

 

Tobin groans, but knows she isn’t going to get out of this one until she just shows them the picture (that she has, in fact, spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at since Christen sent it the other night.) She takes out her phone, reluctantly ignoring the text from Christen for the time being, and pulls up the picture in question, taking yet another moment to appreciate it before she shows Allie.

 

“Holy shit!” Allie exclaims, wrenching the phone out of Tobin’s hand for a better look. “Hot mom is right, no wonder you’re blushing, this girl is so out of your league,” she teases. “I love my husband, but if she asked me to make out, I wouldn’t even hesitate.”

 

“She isn’t going to ask you to make out,” Tobin complains, yanking her phone away and handing it over to a patiently waiting Emily.

 

Shit,” she observes. “She is ridiculously hot.” She manages to pull her eyes away from the picture for the five seconds it takes to kiss Kelley and apologize for jabbing her in the ribs, understanding now that Kelley’s reaction was only appropriate given how gorgeous Christen actually is. “I’m assuming this is her son?” Emily asks, handing Tobin her phone back, which she promptly tucks safely away under her thigh.

 

“Yeah, that’s Natanael,” Tobin says, unable to contain her grin as she thinks about the way he lit up when she gave his the game ball.

 

“Look at you,” Allie says in awe. “You’re totally smitten.”

 

“I hate that word,” she grumbles, but she doesn’t even try to deny it, knows she can’t, but she does try to change the subject. “Can we just--can we talk about something else? At least until there’s actually something to talk about between us? Please?”

 

Her friends take mercy on her and move the conversation to the upcoming national team camp. Allie, Kelley and Emily will all be attending, but Tobin won’t be. The thought doesn’t make her bitter like it used to, instead she just accepts it. She knows if she wanted on that roster, all she has to do is make a call, but she doesn’t. She’s made her peace with that part of her life and she’s moved on from it. She doesn’t have any intention of opening that door again.

 

The rest of dinner goes smoothly, no one mentions Christen even once. When they part ways afterwards--Kelley going home with Emily for the night and Allie taking Tobin back to the hotel on her way home--Tobin watches Kelley and Emily walk towards Emily’s car with their arms around each other and wonders what it might be like to have that with someone, with Christen.

 

She thinks it might be nice.

 

In the car, Allie rambles on about her husband and the dog they’re fostering, anything to avoid the topic she really wants to talk about. When she puts the car in park outside of Tobin’s hotel, though, she can’t hold herself back anymore.

 

“You know I love you, right?” She asks, with a hint of shakiness in her voice that let’s Tobin know this conversation is probably about to get a little deeper than she wants it to.

 

“Of course I know that, Al. You’re one of my best friends, I’ve never doubted that you love me,” Tobin assures her. “What’s this about?”

 

“I just want you to be happy,” Allie tells her. “I’ve watched you bounce around between countless girls for the last several years, since college basically, and I’ve never said anything because you always seemed content, like you were doing exactly what you wanted to, but I’ve always wanted more for you. I look at what I have with Bati and I look at what Kelley has with Emily, and I want that for you, babe. I know you’re happy doing what you’re doing, but I want you to be happy like we are and I know that you can be. I just don’t want you to miss an opportunity because you think it might not be something you’d be good at.”

 

Like all of Tobin’s closest friends, Allie knows her far too well. Tobin didn’t even need to voice her fears about not being good at being in a relationship for Allie to know that it’s something that’s been bothering her. Tobin wonders if she’s that transparent or if she’s just surrounded herself with great friends who care about her enough to pick up on her subtle tells.

 

“I don’t know how to actually be in a relationship,” Tobin admits, staring at her hands as she twists her ring around her middle finger, avoiding Allie’s careful gaze. “I like her, you know? And I don’t want to mess this up because I’m not mature enough to handle it or whatever.” She hates how small her voice sounds, but she can’t help it.

 

“Babe, just because you’ve never been in a relationship before doesn’t mean you’re going to be bad at it, it just means you’re going to have a lot to learn and that’s okay. I’ve been with Bati for over five years, married to him for over six months and I’m still learning new things about our relationship all the time. It’s a constant learning process and something tells me that you care enough about this that you’ll be willing to learn. You wouldn’t be as worried about this as you are if you weren’t willing.”

 

“She’s got a son, though. It makes everything more complicated than it would be if it was just the two of us,” Tobin says, still looking for some reason why she shouldn’t go after this, still trying to talk herself out of this because it seems easier.

 

“Tobin, look at me,” Allie says, poking her knee when she doesn’t listen right away. She waits until Tobin reluctantly turns towards her before she continues. “The way you smiled at that picture of the two of them tonight tells me that you’re willing to figure out the extra complications if it means you get to be with her. Just take your time and figure everything out together, all right? Don’t let you being afraid make you miss out on a really great thing.”

 

“How do you know it would be a great thing?” Tobin asks, regretting it almost immediately when she sees the way Allie smirks at her.

 

“She’s fine as hell, Tobin. Everything about her is great.”

 

They talk for a couple minutes more before Tobin yawns and Allie tells her to head inside so she can get some sleep. They part ways after a tight hug and Allie reminding her once again to take things slow with Christen and figure everything out as they go. Tobin makes sure to really think about what Allie told her, knowing she’s right and trusting her to lead her in the right direction.

 

Once she’s finally tucked into bed--after changing, brushing her teeth and deciding she’s too tired to fuck with Kelley’s shoes right now--she plugs her phone into the charger and finally answers Christen’s text from earlier.

[Tobin Heath: 10:12 PM]
Sorry I got caught up at dinner,
are you still up?

She’s worried Christen will already be asleep and she won’t get to talk to her anymore tonight, but a few minutes later, just as she’s finishing catching up on her instagram feed and liking the picture Emily posted of the four of them tonight, a text from Christen vibrates through.

[Christen Press: 10:19 PM]
Barely, but I’d rather talk to you
than sleep :)

Tobin grins, knowing that she feels the exact same way. She’s exhausted after the game and could easily pass out right now, but she’s rather spend time talking to Christen instead. She can always sleep on the plane back to LA tomorrow.

[Tobin Heath: 10:20 PM]
:)

[Tobin Heath: 10:20 PM]
How was your night? Did Nata
finally go to sleep?

[Christen Press: 10:22 PM]
Only after I read to him for nearly
an hour.. That’s what I get for
letting Channing take him out for
ice cream after we watched your
game.. He’s always wired after he
has any amount of sugar..

[Christen Press: 10:23 PM]
He asked about you..

Tobin’s stomach twists at that, nervous about what it was exactly Nata was asking about. She doesn’t think he knows about anything going on between her and his mom, doesn’t know how he would unless Christen said something to him, which she highly doubts she did. But if that’s the case, then what was he asking about? Tobin doesn’t need to ask before Christen’s answering, though.

[Christen Press: 10:25 PM]
He wants to know when he gets to
see you again..

[Christen Press: 10:25 PM]
Or come to another game I mean..

She smirks at the slight slip up, knowing Nata was definitely more concerned about going to another game than he was about seeing Tobin. She could let it slide, but she decides she doesn’t want to.

[Tobin Heath: 10:26 PM]
He wants to know when he gets to
see me again or you want to know?

Tobin watches with a stomach full of nerves as the three little dots appear on her screen as Christen types her response. They stay there far too long and Tobin’s starting to get worried she pushed things just a little too far when Christen’s response finally comes through.

[Christen Press: 10:30 PM]
Definitely me.. I want to see you :)

Yeah, Allie was right.

She’s completely smitten.

xxx

They end up seeing each other sooner than they were expecting, and they didn’t even realize it would happen.

 

“Are you going to teach me some of your karate moves after lessons?” Tobin asks Ryan with an exaggerated karate chop that she saw in a lame movie. Since she hasn’t seen him in a couple weeks, she offered to take him to his class on the Tuesday after they get back in town from Portland. She’s missed him dearly and wanted to spend as much time with him as she could after being gone for so long.

 

“Sensei Wyatt said we aren’t allowed to use our karate skills for fun. They’re only supposed to be used in class and for self defense,” Ryan tells her as she holds the door open for him, effectively shutting down her plan.

 

“Sensei Wyatt?” Tobin asks. “That doesn’t sound like a very cool ninja name.”

 

“Toby, he’s not a ninja. He’s a karate master,” he says with an exasperated sigh, already having explained this to Tobin at least five times before.

 

“Aren’t those the same thing?” She knows she’s egging him on, but it’s cute when he gets worked up.

 

No,” he huffs out with an eye roll.

 

She was hoping he’d get a little more frustrated, but she grins and lets him off the hook. “All right dude, well you go have fun with Not a Ninja Sensei Wyatt and I’ll be over with the other parents when you’re done, okay?”

 

“Okay, bye Toby.” He gives her a quick hug, which is really just an arm around her thighs for a second, before he runs off onto the mat, the ends of his white belt around his white robe that’s a little too big for him flopping as he goes.

 

Tobin stands by the door for a minute and watches him run off with a smile. She loves road trips, but she loves Ryan more and she hates being away from him for so long. It makes it easy to understand why Amy gave up soccer when she got pregnant in exchange for a job that meant she could stay at home all the time instead of jetting off around the country.

 

She doesn’t think she’d make the same decision Amy did, she’d want to have both a family and a soccer career for as long as she could before she gave the game up, but she understands it.

 

She watches as Ryan plops down next to another little boy and starts stretching. She’s so busy smiling at the way Ryan is laughing at something the boy next to him just said that she doesn’t even realize right away that the boy looks just like--

 

“I didn’t know you’d be here,” someone says as they walk up beside Tobin and bump hips with her softly.

 

Tobin would recognize that voice anywhere. She’s only heard it a handful of times, but it’s burned in her brain. She looks over and sees Christen grinning at her, eyes bright despite the harsh fluorescent lights in the studio. She’s dressed casually, yoga pants and a gray Nike zip up, but she’s just as beautiful as Tobin remembers.

 

“H-hey,” Tobin stammers, trying and failing to make it seem like she isn’t taken completely by surprise and suddenly being face to face with Christen after a week of only texting. “Yeah, I offered to take Ryan since I haven’t seen him in a while. I didn’t know Nata did karate.”

 

“He insisted after Ryan told him how excited he was when Amy signed him up. I swear those two boys can’t do anything on their own. They’re basically a package deal.” She takes a step closer to Tobin so she can step out of the way of a group of parents walking by and even though it results in them barely touching, Tobin gets a hit of Christen’s perfume or shampoo, something that smells like honey and makes her head spin.

 

She’s got it so bad.

 

“Please tell me you’ll sit next to me,” Christen whispers. “All these parents have like their own little cliques and they all secretly judge me when I sit on my own. I of course like to think I’m above caring what they think, but they’re so damn persistent.”

 

“Of course I’ll sit with you, how could I turn down an offer to sit with the prettiest girl in the room?”

 

She completely cringes at the fact she actually just said that aloud. She’s 100% sure it’s the lamest, most juvenile line she’s ever used on a girl and she’s about to run away and hide in her car until the class is over, but then Christen’s gripping her bicep and offering her a shy smile.

 

“You’ve already got my attention, you don’t need to flirt to try and get it,” Christen teases. She nods her head towards the section where the parents are supposed to sit and leads Tobin with a gentle hand on her elbow.

 

“But what if I like flirting with you?” It’s a somewhat better line, but it still makes her curse herself for being so lame. She blames it on the two fingers Christen has curled around her bare elbow, rendering her completely useless.

 

Christen leans over to whisper in Tobin’s ear, and Tobin knows it isn’t just so no one around them hears. She’s doing it purely in hopes of getting a reaction out of Tobin.

 

“Then you’re in luck, because I like flirting with you too.”

 

If it weren’t for the railing just a few inches from Tobin’s hand that she’s somehow coherent enough to remember to grab, she would fallen flat on her face going up the four stairs to the raised platform where the other parents are. She prays no one noticed, but she can’t bring herself to actually look up and see. Christen noticed and that’s embarrassing enough as it is.

 

“Easy there, I can’t have you injuring yourself every time I use a line on you,” Christen says softly, sitting down in one of the open chairs against the wall and patting the empty seat beside her. “What’s going to happen when I use my A game on you?”

 

Tobin swallows hard before she sits down, choking down her pride and trying to play into the love struck fool since that seems to be what Christen reduces her to these days. “I can honestly say I probably won’t survive that,” she says, trying to pretend her voice doesn’t crack at the end. She hates how ridiculous she’s being, but she can’t seem to remember how she used to ever be confident around girls.

 

“Well then I guess I’ll just have to go easy on you.”

 

“I would appreciate that,” Tobin laughs, happy that Christen doesn’t seem intent on continuing her embarrassment.

 

It’s easier to talk to her when the conversation turns away from flirting and instead about the article she’s editing on the best surf spots in Costa Rica, something Tobin is definitely interested in. It’s even easier to talk to her through text when Christen can’t see the way she blushes and can’t hear the way the stutters, but the bright smiles she gets out of Christen make all her blubbering worth it.

 

“So what do you usually do when it’s just you at these classes?” Tobin asks once she’s managed to go three sentences in a row without stuttering. “Do you find other women to flirt with?”

 

“Only the really cute ones,” Christen teases. “No, most of the time I’ll talk to Amy for a while, but then Luke usually gets fussy and she’ll take him outside. I’ll tell you what I do after that, but you aren’t allowed to laugh at me or call me a grandma or anything,” she warns.

 

Tobin’s eyebrow shoots up in intrigue, wondering what Christen could possibly do to occupy her time. She promises she won’t tease her and then watches as Christen reaches into her bag and pulls out a ball of soft, dark pink yarn and a little metal rod with a blunt hook on the end.

 

“You know how to knit?” Tobin asks, more impressed than anything. She’d never want to tease Christen over having a skill like that, something Tobin knows she’d never have the patience for.

 

Crochet,” Christen corrects. “Knitting has two needles.”

 

Tobin raises her hands palm up in defense and says, “my bad, my bad. So how did you learn how to do this?”

 

“Well, when I was writing for the magazine, there were a lot of long plane rides to and from different countries and there were only so many books I could read, so I wanted to learn something else I could do to pass the time. I bought a couple skeins of yarn, a crochet hook and one of those instructional books from the craft store and taught myself on a twenty hour flight from DC to Botswana. By the time we landed, I’d made a very hideous hat and a sad excuse for a scarf. I’ve just been working at it ever since.” Christen looks at the yarn in her hands and then back up at Tobin. “Why are you smiling at me like that?”

 

“You just keep surprising me, that’s all. Bad ass mom, bad ass editor, bad ass...crochet-ist?” Tobin asks with a grin. “It’s a pretty cool talent, I’m impressed. I don’t think I know a single other person that can do that.”

 

“Want me to teach you?” Christen asks.

 

“I don’t know, I’d probably be terrible at it.”

 

“Nonsense, here.” She hands over the yarn and crochet hook. “I know it’ll be kinda weird at first because you’re left handed and I only know how to do this right handed, but let’s see how it goes.”

 

It goes just about as badly as Tobin predicted.

 

Her tension is terrible, one stitch is so tight the needle can barely fit through it while the next is so loose she can fit two fingers through. Using her non-dominant hand means that she slips every other second and drops so many stitches that she has to start over multiple times. She has no idea what she’s doing and no matter how patient Christen is being with her, she can’t help but get increasingly frustrated.

 

Christen’s easy laughs keep her from getting too angry, though. That and the impossibly soft hands that keep closing over the backs of hers to lead her through the motions, have her forgetting how to breathe. Christen touches her so casually, like she doesn’t know how much such a simple touch is working Tobin up, but the grin Tobin sees out of the corner of her eye tells her Christen knows exactly what she’s doing. Tobin welcomes her touch despite how flustered it makes her. It helps calm her down and makes her keep trying until eventually, she concedes that she’s never going to figure this out and it’s best if she just leaves the crocheting to Christen.

 

“Well, maybe you’ll be able to figure it out next time,” Christen laughs, taking the yarn back and tucking it into her bag.

 

That makes Tobin smile, Christen thinking about the idea of there being a next time for them. It makes her realize maybe she isn’t the only one thinking there’s something here between them.

 

“Next time,” Tobin says softly.

 

Parents around them start rising to their feet as the class is over and Tobin tries to ignore the way her heart sinks as she realizes she’s going to have to part ways with Christen soon. All she wants is to be around her.

 

Tobin’s never had a person like that in her life, someone she thinks about being with all the time, someone she dreads being away from. She loves hanging out with Ryan and hates when road games take her away, but she knows she can still talk to him on the phone and it makes things better.

 

Her phone isn’t enough of a solution for Christen, though. As much as she loves her text conversations with Christen, she wants more. She just doesn’t know how to go about getting it.

 

Ryan and Nata find them while Christen is packing up her bag, Ryan launching himself at Tobin, who just manages to catch him at the last moment, as she always does.

 

“My man, you are getting way too big for this,” Tobin complains with a laugh.

 

Ryan lands a smacking kiss on Tobin’s cheek and then wriggles his way back to the ground. “Sensei Wyatt said I did really good today, did you see me?” He asks with a beaming smile.

 

Tobin feels a little bit guilty when she realizes that she didn’t really see him. She was watching at first and sporadically a few times after that, but most of the time she was focused on Christen. She enjoyed too much, watching Christen’s hands as she tried to teach her to crochet, willing herself not to think about what else those hands might be capable of.

 

“I did, buddy,” she says as a little white lie. “You looked great out there, I’m proud of you.” She runs a hand through his sweaty blonde hair and then looks over at Nata. “You looked good too, dude. I definitely wouldn’t want to have to fight you.”

 

He blushes slightly, still a little starstruck by her, and quietly says his thanks before tugging on Christen’s hand until she leans down and he can whisper something in her ear. She stands back up with a grin and aims it right at Tobin. “We were going to get dinner after this, would you two like to come with us?” She asks with a shy smile. This was clearly Nata’s idea, but the way Christen won’t hold Tobin’s gaze for more than a couple seconds at a time almost has her thinking this was all part of Christen’s plan.

 

Tobin looks down at Ryan and sees he’s totally avoiding eye contact with her, suddenly very interested by a nonexistent loose thread on his white belt. She knows immediately that this was something he and Nata cooked up and she hates that she isn’t going to be able to let it happen.

 

“We’d love to, but Ryan’s dad was finally able to get home from work at a decent hour tonight and he’s making dinner. It’ll be ready as soon as we get back,” she tells Christen, her stomach tight as she has to reject the one thing she’s been wanting more than anything, more time with Christen. “I’m sorry,” she says with a shrug, wondering if Amy would be annoyed if she dropped Ryan back at the house and then ditched dinner to go with Christen instead even though she already promised she’d be there.

 

As much as she wants to, she knows she can’t do that.

 

“It’s okay,” Christen says with a sad smile, nothing but understanding in her eyes. “We’ve both rejected each other’s dinner proposals now, so I guess we’re even,” she laughs, trying to get rid of the slight frown on Tobin’s face.

 

“I guess we’ll just have to keep trying until it finally works out.”

 

“I guess so.” Christen gives her a wink (or at least her best attempt at one considering her other eye almost closes too, making it almost look like a blink. It’s the most adorable thing Tobin’s ever seen in her entire life and all she wants is to see it again.)

 

“Sorry dudes,” she says to Nata and Ryan, finally managing to tear her eyes away and thankful that the boys aren’t able to pick up on the not so subtle flirting that’s happening between them. “We’ll make plans to get dinner some other time though, yeah?”

 

“Okay,” they say in unison, pouting equally.

 

Ryan perks up first as they all make their way outside to the parking lot. “I’ll race you to the car, Toby,” he says, taking off before the words have even left his mouth, knowing the unfair head start is the only way he’ll ever beat her.

 

Tobin’s first several steps are taken backwards, accepting defeat before she even really starts. She smiles at Christen as they start going their separate ways and says, “I’ll see you soon, yeah?”

 

Christen grins. “You better. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

 

‘I wouldn’t dare dream of it,’ Tobin thinks.

 

She waves goodbye and turns around to run towards the car for real, even though Ryan is only a couple yards away at this point. She shoots a wink over her shoulder, a proper one compared to Christen’s, and she swears she’ll never forget the way Christen giggles softly, eyes glued on her as she goes.