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The sting of blowing a 2-0 lead in the final five minutes of the game and only getting a point in a game they bossed completely begins to eb once she has Christen’s arms around her.

 

And the copious amounts of alcohol certainly don’t hurt either.

 

Christen, Lauren, and Amy drove up from LA to spend a long weekend with Tobin and Heather after their game in San Jose. Following the late afternoon game, they spend the rest of the day and night in San Jose before they head up to San Francisco for the next three days.

 

Nata was bummed he didn’t get to come, but Adam and Jrue are taking him and Ryan camping for the weekend so he was excited enough for that he let Christen leave without too much fuss. Plus, knowing he gets to see Tobin in just four more weeks when she’s home for the off season is enough to appease him. Tobin misses him, but she’s excited for the alone time she’ll get with Christen and their friends. She’s sure they’ll facetime every day until then, so that will have to be enough to tide her over.

 

“If you two don’t stop making out and get out on this dance floor right now, we are no longer friends.”

 

Amy’s words followed by her drunken laugh at her own joke filters into Tobin's ears. She feels Christen smile and then hears her giggle against her lips.

 

They aren't really making out. They're kissing sure. And they're tucked away in a corner booth at the bar. And they're completely ignoring everyone else in the place. And Tobin's hand might have been starting to drift up the inside of Christen's thigh under her dress. But they aren't making out. Not completely, at least.

 

Tobin pouts when Christen pulls away and says, "let's go dance."

 

"No, let's stay right here." Tobin pulls Christen back in for another kiss. She's drunk and happy and all she wants to do right now is be with Christen. Sure, her friends are cool, but she can hang out with them later. Plus, she can't make out with her friends.

 

Okay fine. They're totally making out.

 

"Amy makes empty threats all the time, I'm not afraid of her," Tobin says against Christen's jaw as her lips trace down to her neck.

 

"Speak for yourself," Christen laughs. "She may be tiny, but I don't want to fight her."

 

"Babe," Tobin whines, letting her voice hit an almost obnoxious tone. "Don't leave me here."

 

Christen smiles, totally unswayed. "Then come with me." She pushes herself out of the booth, pulling a grumbling Tobin along with her.

 

Tobin's mood quickly improves once she has Christen's body against hers, swaying to the music. She feels every single point of contact between them and it sends her brain into a frenzy as she tries to process it through a cloud of alcohol. It's been a few weeks without her and she's getting so worked up by even the slightest movement against her.

 

She's only able to process snapshots of what's happening. Her hands on Christen's hips. Christen's fingers tangling in her hair. Christen's ass pressing back against her. It's overwhelming honestly.

 

They only stay in that position for one song before Lauren is pulling Christen away to dance next to her. Tobin's grateful for the chance to breathe and gather herself once again.

 

She focuses on having fun with her friends. It's been too long since she's been able to hang out with Amy and Lauren like this, since even before she left for Jersey. And it's been even longer since she's hung out with Heather like this. Their hangouts now typically consist of playing pick up with kids in Heather’s neighborhood or binge watching whatever Netflix show she's currently obsessed with while Dave cooks them dinner.

 

For the first time in a long time, she doesn't feel lonely at all. She feels happy and whole and so, so loved.

xxx

Later that night, things have started to wind down and they find themselves back in their booth. They're all nursing waters that Amy insisted they finish before they're allowed to leave for the night. Even when drunk, she still manages to be the mom friend. They cut themselves off from alcohol well over an hour ago and that in combination with the waters they're almost finished with, they've all started to sober a bit.

 

They all have the rest of the weekend together, but for some reason none of them want this night to end. They come around so rarely now with their busy schedules and family commitments. They want to soak up every moment of it they can.

 

Things are relatively quiet aside from the music that's still floating through the speakers at a lower volume now that most of the patrons have cleared out. They're winding down before they head back to the hotel tonight, conversation sparse between them now that the exhaustion of the night and day is settling in.

 

Tobin is sitting sideways in the booth, her legs in Christen's lap and her back resting against Lauren's side. Amy has her knees curled up in front of her, chin resting on them with a peaceful smile on her face and her eyes closed. Heather is leaning back in the booth so far, her butt is barely even on the seat and her head is practically level with the table. They're all five minutes away from sleep, when Heather suddenly sits up and breaks the silence between them.

 

She raises her water glass in the air and says, "I'd like to make a toast." She waits until everyone is looking at her and Amy has opened her eyes again before she continues. "To Amy and Lauren, despite all the distance and time that's passed between us, you're still two of the best friends I've ever had. Tonight has made me realize how much I miss you, and I promise to be better about keeping in touch with you."

 

"Aww, HAO," Amy coos, looking like she might start crying. She always did have a tendency to be an emotional drunk.

 

Heather sends a wink in her direction and then continues. "Christen, I haven't known you long at all, but you're one of the best people I've ever met. I still can't figure out how Tobin managed to land you-"

 

"Hey!" Tobin says indignantly.

 

"--but I'm so glad she did. You're a wonderful mother and a great friend and we're all better people for knowing you."

 

Christen has a big smile on her face and only Tobin is able to notice the way her bottom lip wobbles just the slightest as she tries to keep her emotions in check.

 

"And lastly, Tobin," Heather says. "You're the little sister I never had and the best friend I never knew I needed. I've learned more from you than I have anyone else in my whole life. There's no one else I'd rather share the field with for my final season and no one better I can think of to pass this team onto next season."

 

It's Tobin's turn to try not to cry now. She has two big sisters, but she's always sort of felt like she has three. Heather understands the side of her that her family was never able to, though she always appreciated their efforts. Heather always likes to say they're cut from the same cloth, and she agrees wholeheartedly. Their friendship is one she's been grateful for her whole life.

 

Tobin opens her mouth to say something back, but Heather cuts her off and finishes her toast.

 

"Anyway, knowing I have less than a month left in my career is just making me super nostalgic, but I wanted to wait until I was a little more sober for it. For real though, I love you guys so much and I'm so happy to have you all in my life. So, cheers." The glass she's holding up is getting a little wobbly now from holding it high so long, but she doesn't drop it yet.

 

One by one, the other four girls at the table raise theirs to hers and once all the glasses have clinked together, they all say, "cheers," and then sip their water happily.

 

Tobin has so much she wants to say back to that, she can tell they all do, but it isn't really about what they have to say right now. This moment is for Heather. She's reflecting back on a career lived out to the fullest and looking forward to what's next. They don't need to say anything back right now. Judging by the nearly weepy looks on all of their faces, Heather knows exactly what they're all feeling.

 

In place of a toast of her own, Tobin just says what everyone around the table is thinking. "I love you too, Heather."

xxx

They sleep in the next morning. They need time to recover from last night and also just to enjoy their vacation with a lazy morning in bed before they get up for late brunch and then head up to San Francisco.

 

Heather is the only one out of bed before 10:00am. She gets up and goes for a five mile run for some ungodly reason. After the game and how late their shenanigans went last night, Tobin can't imagine where she finds the energy. That seemingly limitless stamina is something she's always admired in her friend.

 

Tobin, on the other hand, is literally dragged out of bed by Christen at 10:30. Their late brunch is about to turn into an early lunch and Christen pulls back the covers, insisting Tobin get up.

 

"You're so mean to me," Tobin grumbles. She's more awake than she's pretending to be, but that doesn't mean she can't have fun with this.

 

"I know, I'm the worst girlfriend ever. I can't believe you put up with me. You still have to get up though." Christen is basically a pro at dealing with a pouty seven-year-old. Tobin is no trouble at all.

 

Tobin groans as she swings her legs out of bed and sits up. She dramatically stretches her arms over her head and yawns, appreciating that she manages to get an eye roll out of Christen. She looks around the room and realizes Christen has already packed up their things.

 

"Babe, you didn't have to do all the packing. I would've helped," Tobin says.

 

They only stayed the night here and most of it was spent at the bar so it isn't like they'd ever really unpacked, but she still wishes Christen would've let her help get their stuff together. She didn't mean to leave that all for her.

 

"If I waited for you, I'd still be waiting," Christen teases, leaning over to kiss Tobin's cheek before walking over to their bags. "It's really okay, it wasn't any trouble at all. I wanted you to be able to sleep in."

 

"You're too good to me."

 

"Don't I know it," Christen winks. "I left your toothbrush and stuff in the bathroom if you want to go get ready."

 

"You mean you don't like my morning breath?"

 

Christen wrinkles her nose and says, "absolutely not."

 

Tobin laughs and heads towards the bathroom. "Give me ten minutes and we can head down to meet the others."

 

"Sounds good."

 

A couple minutes later, Tobin is brushing her hair up into a ponytail when she hears Christen groan in pain.

 

"Shit, shit, shit," Christen mutters.

 

Tobin rushes back into the room in a flash, "what's wrong? What happened?" She kneels by Christen, where she's seated on the bed, and puts her hands cautiously on her shoulders.

 

"I'm okay, it's nothing serious," Christen waves her hand. "I just tripped over your backpack and stubbed my toe. What do you have in there, bricks?" Christen forces out a tight laugh, still in pain but trying to fight through it.

 

Tobin lets out a nervous chuckle. She's happy Christen is okay, but she wasn't expecting to have to talk about this yet. "Uhm…kind of?"

 

Christen narrows her eyes, trying to gauge if Tobin is being serious or not. "What are you talking about?"

 

"Well, it's not literal bricks. Just brick-like."

 

She hopes that's enough of an explanation, but obviously it isn't. Of course it isn’t. It just leaves her with even more questions. Christen gives her the most confused look, asking for a follow up answer without even using her words. She just raises her eyebrows and waits for Tobin to explain.

 

Tobin knew the risk she was running when she brought her backpack with her, but she needed something to keep her entertained on the plane here and back. She should've been better at hiding this if she didn't want Christen to find out, but there's nothing she can do about it now.

 

Tobin sighs and rocks back so she can reach for her bag. "Okay, so this was supposed to be a surprise. I need you to promise me you won't say anything to Nata, okay?"

 

Christen nods, eyes a little cautious as her curiosity grows.

 

"Okay, so you know how Estelle told me I should try to find a hobby to help fill up my alone time?" It's a rhetorical question, so she doesn't wait for an answer before she's unzipping her bag and reaching inside. "I thought I might try learning Spanish so I could talk to Nata in his native language."

 

She pulls out an obnoxiously large Spanish textbook and flips it around so Christen can see the cover. "I signed up for this class online. I could've done just the basic level class and gotten a way lighter book, but I really wanted to commit to this. It's cool because I can work through it totally at my own pace. I've only made it through the first chapter so I still have a long ways to go, but I'm really enjoying it so far."

 

She looks up from the cover of the textbook, a picturesque landscape somewhere in Spain that's so beautiful it almost looks fake, and sees that Christen looks like she's about to start crying.

 

"Oh no, I didn't meant to upset you," Tobin rushes out. She sets the book to the side and apologizes. "I'm sorry, I should've asked if it was okay I did this first. I know Spanish is your guys' thing. I shouldn't have tried to cut in on--"

 

She's cut off by Christen pulling her into a searing kiss, hands on either side of her face. She kisses her hard and deep, parting her lips with practiced ease. She's wrapping an arm behind Tobin's shoulders and trying to pull her in even closer when Tobin manages to pull herself back.

 

"Wait, you aren't mad?" She's breathless already, but tries to breathe deeply to oxygenate her brain so she can catch up to what's going on.

 

"Of course I'm not mad." Christen laughs like she can't believe Tobin would ever this that. "I love you so much for doing this, Tobin. You have no idea how much this means to me and how much it will mean to him."

 

Tobin's shoulders relax once she understands the real reason for Christen's near tears. "It's no big deal," Tobin shrugs, suddenly shy.

 

Christen brings her hands to Tobin's face again and tilts her head up until she looks Christen right in the eyes. "Tobin, this is a huge deal, okay? This is a huge deal to me. You could've done literally anything for your hobby and you chose to do this for our family. This is really incredible. No one in my family has done this. They all already knew enough spanish to get by with the basics, but no one has gone out of their way to try and learn it more in depth. Once he became more comfortable speaking English they just didn't really think about it. You're amazing and I love you so much for this."

 

She's actually shedding a few tears now. Tobin reaches up to quickly wipe them away, knowing she'll start crying too if she sees Christen weepy.

 

"I just wanted to do something that would be meaningful, you know? I didn't want to just check the box with some basic hobby to make Estelle happy," Tobin explains. "I've thought about doing this for awhile now, I finally decided to stop thinking about it and actually do it."

 

"You're amazing," Christen tells her again. She traces her fingertips over Tobin's jaw, across her lips, down her nose. She touches her so softly it's like she's made of glass. She's holding her like the treasure she believes her to be and has somehow managed to convince Tobin she is too.

 

Tobin smiles at her, leaning forward until their foreheads gently knock together. "Don't tell Nata though, please?" She asks again. "I want to wait until I'm actually kinda decent at it and can hold at least a simple conversation. I want to surprise him."

 

"Of course I won't say anything." She tilts her head up so she can lay a string of kisses across Tobin's forehead. "If you ever want to practice, just let me know. It's going to be so sexy listening to you speak Spanish."

 

Tobin grins and says, "como estas? El carro es azul. Donde estas?"

 

Christen's eyes light up as she remembers Tobin saying the exact same thing to her on the soccer field when Tobin brought her home for the first time. She smiles, remembering what a great night that was.

 

"Te amo," Christen says back.

 

"Te amo mucho, amor de mi vida."

 

"Okay yeah, you're definitely going to let me help you practice. This is such a turn on for me."

 

She pulls Tobin back into a kiss, wasting no time before she's leaning back onto the bed and pulling at Tobin's shoulders so she can get up and follow her. Tobin's only just stood up when there's a loud banging at the door.

 

"Love Birds 1 and 2!" Lauren says loudly to be heard through the door. "You have five minutes to meet us downstairs at my car or else we're leaving you here."

 

"Then leave us here!" Tobin shouts back. She leans in the kiss Christen again, but she's pushed back.

 

"We'll be right down, Lo!" Christen says, totally contradicting Tobin. She laughs at Tobin's pout, remains unswayed. "We will have plenty of time for this later. I'm taking you out to dinner tonight, just the two of us."

 

Tobin's interest is piqued at that. She didn't know they were getting a date night this weekend. Not that she doesn't love her friends, but she's excited by the prospect of a night alone with her girlfriend.

 

"Then I'll make sure to speak more Spanish to you later." Tobin gives her one more quick kiss and then rises from the bed.

 

She tucks her spanish book back into her backpack and then hurries to finish getting ready.

 

While she may not be worried by Amy's threats, she is most certainly worried by Lauren's and knows for a fact she really will leave them. As much as she wants alone time with Christen, she would never live it down if she let that happen.

xxx

They take their time getting to San Francisco. Tobin insists they stop off in Palo Alto so she can see where Christen went to college. They don't do more than take a slow loop through campus while Christen points out everything they're able to actually see from the road, but Tobin loves it.

 

She imagines a younger version of Christen everywhere she looks and wonders what it would've been like if they met in college. Younger Tobin never would've imagined she stood a shot with Christen so she probably wouldn't have even tried to get with her. Christen always has and always will be so far out of her league. Tobin might have been cocky back in college, but it was all just surface level. She didn't have the confidence in herself like she does now. A girl like Christen would've rendered her totally useless back in college.

 

Once they get to San Francisco, they have lunch at a place Christen recommends before heading to the hotel to get checked in. The rest of the afternoon is spent lounging by the pool and enjoying the last bit of summer while it's here. They live in California so the sun never really goes away completely, but it just feels different during the actual summertime.

 

Tobin will never turn down the opportunity to see Christen in a bathing suit. After a few weeks away she already has such a hard time keeping her eyes and hands off her, so when so much more skin is showing it's nearly impossible.

 

Christen indulges her, to an extent. She's told Tobin before she loves how wanted Tobin makes her feel so she can't help but let her hands linger and her lips steal kisses every chance they can. She does make sure to keep things somewhat suitable for public. There aren't a ton of people by the pool and those that are out aren't sitting anywhere near them, so they only really have their friends to worry about. They know how tough the trade has been on the two of them, so they almost ignore them, keeping themselves entertained by catching Heather up on their lives while she does the same.

 

They press their chaise lounge chairs up against each other so it's practically one. Tobin's fingers dance tantalizingly across Christen's stomach, the tops of her thighs, her collarbones. Christen grins at the light touches, nearly groans and pushes her hand away when she gets a little too close to the inside of her thigh.

 

Christen insists they need to cool down after that. She drags Tobin up from her chair and leads her towards the pool. When they get in the water, Tobin leans back against the wall and Christen leans back into her. They converse with their friends, well, Christen does at least. Tobin only chimes in when necessary. Instead she rests her chin on Christen's shoulder and just enjoys the soft sound of her voice. It nearly lulls her to sleep.

 

It's the perfect afternoon and by the time Christen tells her they need to get ready so they can make their dinner reservation Tobin almost wants to ask if they can just go nap instead and order room service later. Then Christen pulls out the black dress she's planning on wearing to dinner tonight and Tobin wants to stay in for another reason entirely.

 

Christeen won't let that happen, though. She insists on date night happening, wanting them to have some alone time. Tobin argues she wants alone time too, just a different kind. Christen just playfully rolls her eyes and continues getting ready.

xxx

"I don't think I can eat another bite," Christen groans as she sets down her fork and leans back in her chair. She lets her shoulders slump like just eating that meal exhausted her.

 

"You're the one who ate half my dessert after insisting you didn't want anything because you were too full," Tobin teases. "You did this to yourself."

 

"Rude." Christen narrows her eyes before she dissolves into a smile. "It was really really good, though."

 

"I wouldn't know because you ate it all." She gets in one last jab before smiling softly and reaching across the table for Christen's hand. "Thank you for this. Tonight has been great and I really needed it."

 

"You're welcome, babe.

 

“As much as I’ve missed Lauren and Amy, I’m glad I didn’t have to share you completely this weekend.”

 

The soft smile that shows all the way up on Christen’s eyes warms Tobin’s heart. She squeezes her hand gently.

 

“Amy actually suggested we do this. I didn’t tell her that was already part of the plan, though.”

 

“She already believes she’s the mastermind behind our whole relationship. Let her have any more credit and she’s going to think she’s entitled to marrying us one day.” She means it as a joke, but she actually lets herself consider it for a moment. “On second thought, she might not be so bad at that. She’s an English professor after all, she’d be able to write us a good ceremony. She’d totally make everyone cry.”

 

“You want everyone crying at our wedding?” Christen asks with a kinked eyebrow.

 

“Hell yeah I do,” Tobin laughs. “I want it to be so beautiful every single person in the whole place is crying. Don’t you know weddings are rated based on how many people cry?”

 

Christen’s shoulders shake at that as she laughs. “Nope, I can’t say I was aware of that. What if not everyone cries? Does that mean our wedding would be a failure?”

 

“Our wedding could never be a failure.”

 

Tobin pauses after that, realizing the conversation they’re having. She’s thought about it before, of course. And she’s brought up to Christen that she would like to marry her one day. But they’ve really only talked about it that one time. They’ve never spoken about it so casually, so assuredly. Like there’s no chance it won’t happen one day.

 

It’s easy, though. It’s the easiest thing in the world to imagine a future with Christen.

 

Christen’s smile tell Tobin she knows this conversation caught her off guard. So instead of pushing it forward, she simply reaches for her wine glass and says, “cheers to that.”

 

Tobin clinks her glass against Christen’s and then sips slowly. “You want to get out of here?”

 

Christen shoots Tobin a wink, “I thought you’d never ask.”

xxx

Their hotel is only a few blocks away so they decide to walk back, enjoying the warm, late September evening. They hold hands and walk slowly. While they’re excited to get back to the hotel and really get some alone time together, Christen can’t pass up spending some extra time walking around one of her favorite cities with her favorite person.

 

“How’s your mom doing?” Christen asks as they wait to cross a street.

 

Tobin shoots her a look out of the corner of her eye, knowing she isn’t just asking about her mom. She’s asking about both her parents. They haven’t talked about this much after Tobin initially divulging everything to Christen after her lunch with her mom. It’s not for lack of trying on Christen’s part, Tobin just hasn’t wanted to discuss it because she still isn’t sure how she feels about it, honestly.

 

She also hasn’t brought it up at all in therapy because she isn’t ready to face it yet, which she knows is the whole point of therapy, but she just isn’t there. She needs to think about it more on her own before she’s ready to talk it through with someone else.

 

“She’s okay,” Tobin replies. Hoping that will be enough to satisfy Christen, but of course it isn’t. She stays silent as they cross the street and Tobin knows that means she isn’t going to say anything until Tobin offers up something more.

Tobin sighs, knowing she needs to open up. “Mom hasn’t really said much more to me about it. I think she knows I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I know they’re still seeing each other, but not any more beyond that. They’re probably still trying to figure things out too.”

 

“Are you okay with them being together?”

 

She asked the same question the night Tobin told her. She’d told her she didn’t know yet. She still isn’t sure if she knows now, but she does know she’s going to have to give a little more than that.

 

“I’m okay with it enough to trust my mom to do what she thinks is best for her. I want her to be happy. My dad and I are still working through our issues, but I want him to be happy too.” She chews on her bottom lip as they turn the corner and then adds, “to be absolutely honest I’m not sure if I’ll ever trust him completely again, at least not with my mom. I’m trying my best, but right now I just don’t know if that will ever be possible. I believe my mom when she says she knows what she’s doing. So I’m trying to focus on that.”

 

“I’m sure your mom appreciates your faith in her. She wouldn’t have come to you about this if she didn’t have faith in you too.”

 

Tobin lets out a surprised laugh. “You know, I’ve told myself that same thing about a dozen times since she told me and it didn’t really make sense to me enough to accept until you just said it.”

 

“That’s because I’m a genius. I’m glad you’re finally realizing that.” Christen laughs and leans her head over onto Tobin’s shoulder. She drops her hand and wraps her arm around Tobin’s waist, hugging her close. “I know you’re hesitant about this, but I’m proud of you for hearing your mom out and being on her side for this. I know it isn’t easy.”

 

"You're right, it's not," Tobin agrees. "But I love her enough to try."

 

"I know she loves you for that. And so do I."

 

Tobin stops I'm her tracks and turns to face Christen. "Wait, you love me? Why have you never told me this before?" She can barely keep the grin off her face as she teases, but she manages.

 

It's worth it for the way Christen rolls her eyes and gives Tobin an impossibly amused smile. She plays right along.

 

"You know, I was just waiting for the right moment. I didn't want to scare you off, but I've loved you for a long time."

 

"I can't believe you've never told me. This is so rude. I think I deserve to know how you feel about me." She's smiling fully now, unable to hide how much she's enjoying this.

 

Christen steps into her and kisses her, far from gently. "Take me back to our room and I'll show you just how much."

 

She has to physically stop Tobin from running back to the hotel.

xxx

“I just don’t understand why we can’t leave yet,” Tobin complains, plopping down on the couch in Lauren’s room.

 

“Amy is still getting ready,” Lauren says, brushing Tobin’s concerns aside with a wave of her hand.

 

“Amy’s been ready for fifteen minutes. I’m starving!” Tobin groans, flopping dramatically over into Christen’s lap where she sits next to her on the couch. “I think I might wither away and die if we don’t get dinner right now.”

 

“Normally I’d say you’re being dramatic, but pretty sure I might do the same if I don’t get some food soon,” Heather says from where she’s perched on the edge of Lauren’s bed. “I’m with Tobin on this one, what’s the hold up?”

 

“Just give her a few more minutes,” Christen tries to reason with an amused laugh. “I’m sure she’ll be ready soon.”

 

“She better be or I’m reconsidering our whole friendship!” Tobin calls loudly enough to make sure Amy hears it from the bathroom.

 

A gentle laugh is all she receives in return until a couple minutes later Amy’s phone dings from the bathroom. Suddenly, she’s ready to go and steps out of the bathroom like she hasn’t just held them up for the past twenty minutes.

 

“Let’s go, guys,” Amy says nonchalantly.

 

Tobin pops up from the couch. “Seriously? ‘Let’s go guys’? You took forever!”

 

“And now I’m done. So…let’s go guys.”

 

She exchanges a look Tobin can’t decipher with Christen and then Lauren. There’s something mischievous about it that makes Tobin wary, but she doesn’t get to ask about it because then Amy grabs her purse from Lauren’s dresser and casually walks out the door.

 

“Okay, is it just me or is she totally acting weird?” Heather asks once she’s gone.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. She seems totally fine to me,” Lauren says. She reaches for her purse and then follows Amy out the door. “Come on girlies,” she says in a sing song voice.

 

Tobin turns to Christen with a curious look, eyebrows raised in question. “Okay seriously, what the hell is going on? Heather’s right, they’re acting so weird. And so are you.”

 

Christen smiles softly, but she clearly isn’t going to give anything away. “Just trust me, okay? Let’s just go downstairs. Everything’s okay, I promise.”

 

Tobin looks at Heather next with a quirked eyebrow and Heather just shrugs.

 

“Whatever’s going on with them, as long as I get food soon I’m okay with it. You heard Amy, let’s go!” Heather jumps off the bed and leaves the room.

 

“So something is totally up, right?” Tobin asks Christen.

 

“Just trust me,” Christen smirks, clearly holding something back. She kisses Tobin’s cheek to buy her a second so she can school her features. “Now, come on.” She reaches for Tobin’s hand and leads her after their friends.

 

The elevator ride down to the lobby is awkwardly silent. Christen, Amy and Lauren are obviously trying to hold something in so they don’t say anything. Tobin and Heather have a silent conversation, asking each other if they have any idea what the hell is going on, but neither does.

 

When the doors to the elevator open, Amy sweeps an arm towards it and smiles way too brightly at Tobin. “After you, Tobs.”

 

“You’re freaking me out,” Tobin says, staying right in place.

 

“Yeah, Amy. You’re being weird, chill out,” Lauren says. She nudges Tobin in the back, “let’s all go. Come on.”

 

Tobin shakes her head, still having no idea what’s going on, but she steps out into the lobby and walks towards the exit. Because whatever’s going on, she’s still starving and she doesn’t want to wait any longer to get to the restaurant. If that means going along with whatever this is, then she’ll deal with it.

 

She’s just about to walk through the sliding doors of the hotel when she hears someone call her name. She turns around and when she spots who it is, the smile that stretches across her face is so big it makes her squint.

 

Kelley.

 

“What the hell are you--” She doesn’t even get to finish her question before Kelley is barreling into her.

 

Kelley jumps up and wraps her legs around Tobin’s waist, latching onto her completely. Her momentum nearly knocks Tobin over, but she manages to stay on her feet and hugs her back.

 

“Holy shit, I’ve missed you so much,” Tobin tells her, laughing as her brain finally catches up and realizes why her friends have been acting so weird. They must have helped orchestrate this.

 

Her heart feels so full, she actually starts to tear up. She can’t believe this is actually happening. She hasn’t seen Kelley since her trade and she didn’t think she would see her until next month when Sky Blue finishes up their season in LA. They already have plans for a surf trip to Costa Rica in the offseason, wanting to fully capitalize on the time they’ll get to spend with each other once they reunite.

 

Tobin looks behind Kelley and sees her friends watching them with the biggest smiles on their faces. Aside from Heather, they were all in on this. Emily is standing next to Christen and claps her on the shoulder, giving her a conspiratorial grin.

 

“I’ve missed you too, buddy!” Kelley squeezes her tightly once more and kisses the side of her head. Then she drops back to her feet, arms staying on Tobin’s shoulders.

 

“I can’t believe you’re here right now. How are you hear right now? Didn’t you just have a game a couple hours ago?”

 

“I kind of have no idea,” Kelley laughs. “I didn’t even know this was happening until after the game. We get in the car afterwards and I think Emily is driving us home, but then she takes us to the airport instead. She planned this whole thing with Christen.”

 

Christen shoots Tobin a wink, happy her plan paid off. Damn, Tobin loves her so much.

 

“She wouldn’t stop whining about how jealous she was you all got to hang out this weekend. I just did this so she’ll stop being annoying,” Emily says. Tobin knows her well enough to know she’s just deflecting, trying to hide that softer side of her she doesn’t like to put on display.

 

Kelley isn’t even fazed by the teasing. She’s just too excited to be here, the nose crinkling grin evidence enough for that.

 

Tobin hugs her again, trying to convey into the gesture just how much she’s missed her and how full her heart is in this moment.

xxx

They laugh so much at dinner, Tobin’s stomach still aches even two hours later.

 

She’s out on her hotel room balcony with Kelley, passing a bottle of wine back and forth. The rest of their friends are still hanging out in her room, watching some trashy reality TV show and cracking up the whole time as they make fun of it. As fun as that is, Tobin and Kelley escaped out here for some quiet time to catch up.

 

“How are things going with the team?” Kelley asks.

 

“Not so great,” she sighs. “I mean off the field, I have no complaints. My teammates have become friends and I’m really enjoying getting to know them.”

 

“I’ll kick anyone’s ass who tries to replace me,” Kelley says, a tipsy laugh bubbling from her throat.

 

“Don’t worry, your place in my life is still intact,” Tobin laughs. “For now at least.”

 

“Rude.” Kelley rolls her eyes and takes another sip from the wine bottle before passing it to Tobin.

 

“How are things in LA?”

 

She groans and repeats Tobin’s words, “not so great.”

 

“What’s wrong? You guys just won your third in a row. You have a good shot at contending for a playoff position.”

 

“I mean on the field, sure things are good. But off it, tensions are pretty high. Everyone is upset about the way things went down with your trade. They don’t really trust Julie anymore. We’re still doing well because we’re in it for each other, but it’s not because we have much faith in her anymore. I think she’s feeling pressure from the board because this whole trade was her idea and it’s pissed the fans off so much. They want her gone. She needs us to do well to prove she made the right call so she gets short with us if we’re even the slightest bit off in practice. It’s just tough all around.”

 

She reaches for the wine bottle before Tobin can even take a drink. She takes a long gulp and then hands it back. “Things really suck without you, dude.”

 

“Not surprising, I am pretty amazing.”

 

Kelley laughs and shoves at Tobin’s shoulder. “Shut up, dude. Good to see slumming it at the bottom of the table hasn’t done anything to damper your confidence.”

 

“You’re such a dick,” Tobin cracks up though, appreciating being able to find humor in her team’s poor form. “Good luck actually making playoffs without me.”

 

“We’ll make playoffs just to prove we don’t need you,” Kelley teases, but then she stops laughing quickly. The mood turns almost somber and she sighs. “Seriously though, we really do all miss you. We still have a good time together, but it’s different. You were the glue that held us all together.”

 

“I wasn’t that special,” Tobin dismisses.

 

There’s a knot forming in her stomach though. She’s remembering just how much she misses her teammates in LA. She enjoys her new teammates and she’s making a life for herself in Jersey, but it’s different than LA. The bond she shares with her teammates is different. She hasn’t cultivated it over years and let it thrive until they were family. They’re all very accepting, but she’s still the new kid and feels like the odd one out sometimes.

 

She knows it’s just something to grow into and she’ll be okay.

 

She misses her LA teammates, though. So damn much.

 

“We both know that’s not true,” Kelley says, refusing to let Tobin count herself out. “You were that spark that kept us all together. When there were issues, you were the one everyone turned to for help. When we wanted to celebrate on the field, you were the first one everyone ran towards. We all trusted you as captain in a way I don’t know if they’ll ever trust me.”

 

“Kell, come on.” She turns her seat so she’s facing Kelley. “Maybe I was the first one they turned to, but you were always the very next one they looked towards. They all love and trust you so much. You’re a hell of a captain and those girls are lucky to have you. Seriously Kelley, don’t ever doubt yourself when it comes to being their captain. You’re the best thing for that team and they need you.”

 

Kelley sniffles and blinks hard, trying to rid herself of tears. She clears her throat and shakes her head. “All right, enough of this sappy bullshit. I didn’t come here to cry the rest of the weekend. I came to have fun with my best friend.”

 

Tobin grins and lifts the wine bottle to her lips. “Cheers to that,” she says and then takes a drink. She lowers the bottle and sloshes around what little is left, handing it back to Kelley to finish. “Lets get back in there and enjoy the rest of our night. Heather and I fly back tomorrow afternoon.”

 

“Don’t remind me!” Kelley complains. She finishes the wine and then rises from her seat. She reaches a hand out and pulls Tobin to her feet, then she wraps her in a hug. “I know I said no sappy shit, but one more thing. I really love you and it’s been hell not having you with me everyday, but I’m so proud of you for making the most of this situation. I’m happy you’re happy, even if I am jealous of as hell of your new teammates.”

 

Tobin hugs Kelley tightly. She feels tears pricking at her eyes and this time she lets a couple fall, wanting to let herself feel this instead of shutting it out like she always used to. “I love you too, Kell. You’re my best friend and no matter how funny my new teammates may be, they’ll never replace you. I miss you too much for that.”

 

They hug another moment longer and then Kelley pulls back, wiping at her eyes. “Okay, for real this time. No more sappy shit. I want to go finish getting drunk and laugh with our friends, then go back to my room and show my girlfriend just how much I love her for setting this whole thing up.”

 

Tobin laughs and throws an arm around Kelley’s shoulder, leading her to the sliding glass door.

 

This weekend was exactly what she needed to get her through the rest of this season.