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"I look ridiculous."

 

Tobin looks at herself in the mirror, turns to each side and takes in her appearance. She feels silly, and despite it being for a good reason, she isn't sure how to deal with this feeling.

 

"You don't look ridiculous," Christen says from the bathroom.

 

"Says the girl who's literally dressed as a Disney princess."

 

It's Halloween and Nata wanted the three of them to dress in a group costume. He, of course, decided they should dress up as characters from his favorite movie, Tangled.

 

He insisted on dressing up as Pascal the chameleon and he looks absolutely adorable all decked out in his neon green costume and face paint. He even has a green hat that has the giant eyes and everything. Christen’s mom helped make the costume for him and he was so giddy when he first saw it he tried to convince Christen to let him wear it every day for the last two weeks.

 

Christen is, obviously, Rapunzel. Her hair is wavy, falling down her back in loose curls. Channing came over earlier to help her put in extensions so that it stretches all the way down to her hips. She has on a two tone pink dress and nude ballet flats. She looks every bit the princess she's meant to be.

 

Tobin is dressed as Flynn. Her hair is pulled back in a low bun and she has on an off white, long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up underneath a dark green vest. She borrowed brown pants and brown boots from Christen, and she managed to find a brown belt and satchel combo at a thrift store to complete the look. She looks exactly like the character in the movie she's watched with Nata a hundred times, but she can't help but feel a little insecure dressed in costume.

 

Christen steps out of the bathroom, looking like she's floating across the floor in her long dress. "Yes, but if I'm the Disney Princess, then that means you're my Disney Prince and you look dashing." She wraps her arms around Tobin's neck and kisses her cheek.

 

Tobin laughs, feeling instantly comforted by being in Christen's arms. "Dashing, huh? I'm pretty sure that word has never been used to describe me before."

 

"Yes, dashing. There's no other word for it," Christen says with a nod and a kiss to her lips this time. "What's going on? U
You've seemed antsy all day."

 

"I don't know," Tobin mumbles. She knows that isn't a good enough answer and judging by the way Christen stays silent and gives her a knowing look, she isn't going to accept that. Tobin sighs and tries again. "I've just never really done the whole Halloween thing before so I guess I'm nervous about it."

 

Christen raises an eyebrow and leans back to get a better look at Tobin. "What do you mean you haven't done Halloween before? Didn't you go as a kid? And I thought Amy said you went with them last year."

 

"I did go with them, but I didn't dress up," Tobin says, avoiding the other question completely.

 

Christen isn't going to let her, though. She can sense that something is going on and she wants to figure it out. "What about Halloween when you were a kid?" She asks gently. "You still want to go tonight, don't you? I don't want you to do something you aren't comfortable with."

 

"Of course I want to go, I promise I do," she assures Christen. "I'm psyched he wanted to do this group costume thing, it's cool he wanted to include me. I guess I'm just nervous because I only dressed up and went trick-or-treating once as a kid and it wasn't a great experience so I never went again."

 

"What happened?"

 

"It's embarrassing," Tobin says, eyes dropping to the ground so she doesn't have to look at Christen.

 

"Sweetheart, you don't have to be embarrassed about anything with me, you know that right?" Christen's voice is full of love as she uses a gentle finger to tilt Tobin's chin up, wanting her to look at her.

 

"I know that," Tobin says, because she truly does. She knows Christen would never make her feel bad about anything and she wouldn't make fun of her for something that clearly upsets her. She just feels silly for getting worked up over something like trick-or-treating.

 

"And if you don't want to talk about it, that's okay. But I want you to know you can."

 

Tobin decides she might as well just get it over with. She chews on her lip for a moment and starts. "Okay, so it's kind of ridiculous to still be upset over this at 30 years old, but whatever. When I was six was the first time I'm really able to remember trick-or-treating. I know I went a few times before when my parents took Perry and Katie, but I don't remember it so those don't count. Anyway, I dressed as Batman because I was on this superhero kick at the time and I was so excited, I had a cape and mask, the whole deal. So we go to a couple houses in the neighborhood and I'm getting some of my favorite candy and it's a good time. But then we're heading to the next house and out of nowhere, this group of boys jumps out and they throw a whole carton of eggs at me and then run away. It got everywhere. The costume I loved so much was ruined. Mom had to wash my hair three times just to get all the pieces of shell out. It was awful. I was so upset we went home and I never wanted to go again, no matter how many times my parents tried to talk me into it. Halloween was ruined for me."

 

She huffs out a breath as she finishes her story, eyes dropping to the floor again. She's nervous now that it's out there. It's such a silly thing to be upset about and she's making it into a much bigger deal than it needs to be. "So there's that, but it's whatever. It's fine, I'm over it," she says, trying to be as nonchalant about this as possible.

 

"Oh babe, you poor thing," Christen coos. "That's traumatizing for a kid, of course it's okay to be upset about that. You don't have to go tonight if you don't want."

 

"No, I want to," Tobin insists. "I swear I do. I've just never talked about that before so I guess I wanted to get it off my chest, even if it is dumb."

 

"It's not dumb." Christen takes her hands in hers and kisses each one. "I'm proud of you for talking about it even if it has been a long time. Things like that stick with you when they happen at such an early age. Those guys are lucky I don't know who they are or I would kick their asses even now," Christen teases, trying to get a laugh out of Tobin.

 

She doesn't laugh, but she does crack a smile. "It's okay, really. They were actually in Perry's grade and she recognized them so the next day at school she punched two of them and shoved another two on the ground before a teacher pulled her away." Reliving that moment gets her laughing, remembering the way her classmates talked about how cool her big sister was for beating up the school bullies. "That's the only time any of us kids ever got suspended. Mom and Dad weren't even mad, though. They only grounded her for like two days and that was just so they could say they reprimanded her for it, not because they actually wanted to punish her."

 

"Hold on, I'm trying to imagine a preteen Perry standing up to a bunch of bullies," Christen laughs, closing her eyes and truly trying to picture it. "Okay yeah, that definitely makes me feel a bit better knowing they got what was coming to them."

 

"Most of those dudes wouldn't make eye contact with Perry until they were in high school, it was great."

 

"Thank you for telling me about this," Christen says, wrapping her arms around Tobin's shoulders again. "I like when you open up to me about stuff like this, even if it's hard."

 

"I like telling you stuff. It's easy." Tobin kisses Christen's forehead and then pulls away, checking over her outfit again in the full length mirror. "Okay, no more about my childhood traumas. Instead tell me again how dashing I look."

 

Christen grins and presses a kiss to Tobin's cheek. "You're the most dashing Disney Prince there ever was." She steps back and spins around, showing off her costume. “Now tell me how pretty I look.”

 

“You’re the prettiest princess in the whole wide world.”

 

“You’re damn right I am,” she says with a devilish smirk. She winks and then steps back into the bathroom to put the finishing touches on her makeup and hair. “If at any point you want to head back to the house tonight, just tell me, okay? I don't want you to feel like you're stuck with us if you start feeling anxious or anything. You can head back to Amy's and we'll meet you there when the boys are done.”

 

“I really think I’ll be okay,” Tobin says, following her into the bathroom. “Just telling you makes me feel better about it, I've never told anyone before. Amy just thought I was sick last year and that's why I was acting weird when I went with them.” She hops up on the counter between the two sinks, legs swinging and feet knocking into the cabinet in a soft rhythm.

 

“Did you do okay last year or was it really rough?”

 

“I just felt sort of on edge the whole time. Like even though it was twenty-plus years later, I was worried the same thing was going to happen again.” She gives Christen a bashful smile. “I know that sounds silly.”

 

Christen puts down her mascara and steps over to where Tobin is sitting on the counter. She steps between her legs and rests her hands on her shoulders. “Babe, I promise you it isn't silly. There's nothing wrong with something traumatic still affecting you, especially if you've never had to face it pretty much since it happened. It's normal.”

 

Tobin sighs and leans forward so her forehead is resting against Christen's. “You always know just what to say to make me feel better.”

 

“Yeah, I'm pretty special like that.” Christen winks and then kisses Tobin's cheek. “Will you go check to make sure Nata’s all ready to go? I'm sure he's itching to get out of here. I'll be down in just a couple minutes.”

 

“Yeah of course,” Tobin nods.

 

Once Christen steps away, Tobin hops off the counter. She lets her hand trail across Christen's back as she walks past on her way downstairs.

 

Now that Nata's leg is all healed up, he's back to sleeping upstairs in his room like before, but he liked being in the room downstairs so much he's made it his playroom. Christen swears it’s temporary, but when that kid grins he can pretty much get anything he wants.

 

When she makes it downstairs, she pokes her head into the room and laughs at what she sees. Nata is standing in front of the mirror posing and making funny faces in his costume, making himself laugh as he quotes lines from the movie.

 

Tobin wishes she hadn’t left her phone upstairs so she could snap a picture or a quick video of the moment. Instead she just enjoys it for a few more seconds and then knocks on the doorframe. “Dude, you ready to go?”

 

Nata whips around, a wild, excited smile on his face. “It’s time for trick or treating?!”

 

He looks so good in his costume, Tobin knows her camera roll is going to be half full of pictures by the end of the night, not even including all the ones she already took two weeks ago when Christen’s mom dropped off the costume and he tried it on.

 

“Yeah, dude. Your mom is just finishing up her makeup and she’ll be ready. We need to head out to meet Ryan and his family soon, so get your shoes on. Do you need help?” Tobin asks, starting to step into the room to help with his shoes.

 

“No, I can do it!” Nata insists. He’s learning how to tie his shoes and now he insists he’s able to do it all on his own even though it takes him a solid two minutes for each shoe and either Christen or Tobin usually has to fix them afterwards. But they let him handle it on his own anyway.

 

He runs over and grabs his shoes, originally white sneakers Tobin was able to find when she was at the thrift store and painted neon green to match his costume. He’d been so excited when Tobin showed them to him, she would’ve thought she was handing him a million dollars. It warms her heart to know he thinks so highly of her something as simple as her painting a pair of shoes gets him so excited.

 

Nata sits down on the floor and focuses intensely on his shoes, tongue sticking out of his mouth as he works. Tobin hangs back by the door, letting him try his hardest, but staying close when he likely asks for help.

 

Once he’s done with both shoes, he looks up at Tobin with a shy smile. “Can you just tighten them a little?” He asks.

 

“Yeah, of course.” Tobin crosses the room and kneels down, maneuvering the laces as best she can so she isn’t actually undoing what Nata did and just tightening them so they stay in place while he runs around with Ryan tonight. She wants to make sure he believes he did this on his own.

 

“You look just like Flynn,” Nata tells her. “Except you’re way cooler.”

 

She smiles, appreciating his confidence in her. “Thanks, Nata. And you look just like Pascal. I almost didn’t recognize you for a second when I walked down here.” Tobin stands back up once she’s done with the laces and holds out a hand to help him up.

 

Nata laughs and pulls himself up. “Nu-uh, Tobin. I’m too big to be the real Pascal. He’s just a little guy and I’m big and strong!” He holds up his arms, trying to flex even though his costume covers his arms enough to actually show anything.

 

“You’re right, my bad,” Tobin laughs. “Go grab your bag and we’ll get going. Your mom should be down any second.”

 

“Okay!” He runs out of the room and into the living room where he left his bag earlier when he was ‘practicing’ for tonight.

 

Tobin follows after him, ready for this night to get started despite her nerves. Being around Christen and Nata helps calm her down in a way she’ll never be able to explain.

xxx

Christen was right when she told Tobin that Amy’s neighborhood was the best for trick-or-treating.

 

Barely even forty-five minutes in and Adam has already had to run back to their house for extra bags. There’s absolutely no reason Ryan and Nata need even half the candy they have, but they’re having so much fun none of the parents can be bothered to stop them. They’ll never let them eat it all anyway.

 

Tobin starts out nervous, the busy sidewalks and constant noise gives her flashbacks to that night as a kid, but as the night goes on she loosens up. Seeing the absolute glee on Nata and Ryan’s faces certainly helps and Christen’s hand in hers the whole time works wonders. She’s able to let go of that childhood trauma and enjoy herself in a way she hoped, but wasn’t sure she could.

 

Despite not knowing about the situation, Amy does a good job at keeping Tobin laughing and helping her enjoy herself. She’s able to relax and enjoy herself. And it helps how simultaneously great and ridiculous Amy looks in her costume.

 

The Shilling family went with a Mario Brothers theme. Ryan is dressed as Mario and Luke is dressed as a little Luigi. Christen can’t stop commenting on how adorable they both look with their fake mustaches, even though Luke pulled his off after just three houses. Amy is Peach and Adam is Donkey Kong, but the mask he had on earlier made Luke cry so he couldn’t actually wear it any longer than it took to get a few pictures.

 

“Look at that,” Christen tells her as they round another corner, nodding in a direction across the street.

 

Tobin follows her gaze and sees a young girl, probably around ten, in an LAWFC jersey. A #17 jersey. She’s wearing her socks down low and her shin guards are pushed to the sides of her legs. She doesn’t see Tobin, too busy laughing with her friends to pay attention across the street.

 

It makes Tobin so inexplicably happy to see someone choose to dress up as her. It isn’t a new thing. She gets tagged in pictures online every year of kids that wear Heath #17 jerseys and pretend to be her. But to see someone still choosing to wear her LA jersey even after being traded, means the world to her. Maybe it was just the only jersey she had or she didn’t want to bother covering up her name, but it doesn’t matter. It’s the last bit of comfort she needs to fully enjoy this night.

 

She has fun. She stops thinking about what happened to her as a kid completely and she just focuses on what’s happening right now. She smiles at Nata and Ryan skipping from house to house. She laughs at Luke reaching for Adam’s face every couple minutes, checking to make sure it’s still his dad and he hasn’t put the Donkey Kong mask back on. She feels her heart swoop every time she looks over at Christen and sees her literally looking like a radiant Disney princess.

 

She’s happy.

 

She’s really trick-or-treating for the first time since she was six and she’s actually having fun. She isn’t looking over her shoulder every few moments or worried about a wild group of teenage boys jumping from out of nowhere and ambushing her. She isn’t worried about anything.

 

All she cares about is enjoying a nice night with her family (and of course seeing how much candy she can get away with stealing from the boys).

xxx

"Dudes! How did you manage to score so much candy? This is enough to last me all the way until next Halloween."

 

Nata and Ryan look up at her across the kitchen table with fearful expressions, truly worried she's going to steal all their candy.

 

"This isn't for you!" Ryan exclaims, tightening his grip on his bag.

 

"Yeah, this is ours, Tobin. Not yours," Nata adds.

 

Tobin shoots Christen a wink over where she’s standing by the kitchen sink, earning an eye roll in return. "Oh come on, can't I just have some of it? You guys have so much."

 

Nata and Ryan take turns whispering in each other's ears for a minute, deliberating what they should do. Tobin grins as she watches them stress over this evidently very important decision. She knew the boys were going to be super protective over their candy and she knew she just had to tease them about it. Christen already promised her she'd buy her a bunch of the discounted candy tomorrow so she can have her own, but she wants to test her limits and see how much she can get the boys to relent, even though she won't actually take any.

 

Ryan got to come over to their house after trick-or-treating for a sleepover so they’re currently posted at the kitchen table, sorting their candy by type and size. They asked Tobin to keep a log of their haul so they will be able to check on it frequently and ensure she hasn’t tried to steal any. They’re taking the whole process very seriously and Tobin is infinitely amused, but loving every moment of it.

 

"Okay," Ryan says once they've made their decision. "You can have three pieces from each of our bags."

 

"But no Reese’s and no Sour Patch Kids. Those are our favorites," Nata adds.

 

"Oh come on, only three? How about five and one pack of Sour Patch Kids each?"

 

She hears Christen laugh softly from the kitchen where she's cleaning up the dishes from dinner earlier that she stashed in the sink until they got back from trick-or-treating. Tobin's impressed she actually left them, figuring she would rush to clean them beforehand. She's pretty sure she was putting an emphasis on making sure the night went well after Tobin shared her story with her. She appreciates her sacrificing a clean kitchen for a few hours just to make sure Tobin had fun.

 

Ryan and Nata whisper to each other for another moment before Nata speaks up with their final offer. "Four pieces each. Only one Sour Patch Kid from one of us, not two."

 

"Deal?" Ryan asks, holding his hand across the kitchen table for Tobin to shake.

 

Tobin taps a finger to her chin and pretends to think about it for a few moments before she reaches her hand across the table. "Deal," she says. She shakes both of their hands and gives them each a nod. "Pleasure doing business with you boys."

 

"Time to get to bed guys," Christen says from the kitchen. She lays the freshly folded dish towel by the sink and then walks around the island. "You can finish counting your candy in the morning."

 

Both boys sigh, not wanting to be done yet, but they're clearly tired enough they aren't going to put up a fight. They put all their candy back in their bags, refusing to let it out of their possession even when they go to sleep.

 

"Run upstairs, get changed and brush your teeth. I'll be upstairs to say goodnight in a few minutes," Christen says. She kisses the top of each of their heads as they stand up from the table.

 

"You know, you guys can leave your candy with me tonight. I'll keep it safe," Tobin says, wanting to tease them one last time.

 

"No way!" Nata says, clutching the bag to his chest.

 

Ryan hides his bag behind his back and starts backing away towards the stairs. "Yeah no way. You'll totally steal it all, Toby."

 

"Oh come on, don't you guys trust me?"

 

"No," they both say in unison.

 

Tobin cracks up, loving how seriously they're taking all this. "Okay, okay. Fair enough. You better make sure to hide it. I might get hungry in the middle of the night."

 

They both look at her in horror before turning and running up the stairs at lightning speed, determined to hide it all somewhere Tobin will never find. She'd bet the nine pieces of candy they allowed her that they hide it under Nata's bed.

 

"You're so bad," Christen laughs as she walks closer to Tobin. She sits down in her lap, arms wrapped around her shoulders.

 

"Mmm, you have no idea how bad I can be," Tobin whispers, puckering her lips for a kiss.

 

Christen smirks and then leans in, kissing her back and deepening it within moments. "How about you show me later?" She asks against her lips.

 

"You can count on it," Tobin promises.

 

They kiss for a couple minutes before Christen pulls away with a sigh. "We should go tuck them in. I'm sure they're ready to pass out."

 

"They might already be, honestly."

 

"Good point." She gets up from the chair and takes Tobin's hand to lead her upstairs.

 

She's still wearing her Rapunzel dress, but she's taken the extensions out and her hair is now tied back in a loose ponytail. She looks so effortlessly sexy, Tobin can't help but pull her to a stop midway up the stairs and kiss her again. She presses her up against the railing and holds her face in both hands. She kisses her slowly and soundly, taking her time and enjoying every moment of it. She doesn’t pull back until she’s nearly breathless and needs a moment to compose herself again.

 

"Definitely not complaining, but what was that for?" Christen asks once Tobin pulls back.

 

Tobin keeps holding Christen's face, feeling under her palms the way her cheeks pull up into a smile. "You're just really pretty and I really love you." She kisses her again, once, twice. "Thank you for making sure I had a good time tonight even though I wasn't the one trick-or-treating."

 

Christen reaches up to hold onto each of Tobin's wrists with her hands, thumbs rubbing circles over the thin skin. "I love you too, sweetheart. And don't tell the boys, but I already swiped some of their candy and hid it in my bedside table. There are extra Sour Patch Kids for you."

 

"You're the greatest woman I've ever met in my life," Tobin gushes. She's being dramatic, but she also means it. "How the hell did I get so lucky?"

 

"I'm not sure," Christen shrugs. "I've been asking myself the same thing about you since the day we met. If you ever figure it out, let me know."

 

Christen winks and then kisses her again before slipping away so she can head the rest of the way upstairs to check on the boys. Tobin hangs back, taking a moment to temper the goofy grin she has on her face right now.

 

She's so unbelievably in love, she doesn't even know how to process it sometimes.

 

Later that night when they're both naked and breathless in Christen's bed, she pulls out a pack of Sour Patch Kids from her secret stash. Tobin purposely gives Christen all the red ones, hoping that helps convey just how much she loves her.

 

Judging by the smile on Christen's face as she chews on the small handful of red candies, she understands completely.

xxx

When Tobin asked Christen if she wanted to join her indoor soccer team for the off season, she was partially joking. Christen has always been willing to play around with one of the mini nets in the backyard with her and Nata, and multiple times she’s helped Tobin run through drills, but she’s never been too good at playing herself. She’s never been good with the ball at her feet and she struggles to score goals.

 

So when she told Tobin she wanted to join the team, Tobin was completely caught off guard. Of course she’d love to have her join the team, but she never imagined she would actually agree to it so she didn’t get her hopes up.

 

But Christen was completely on board. She got so excited about the idea and once she convinced Tobin she was serious, they signed her up online and made it official. They went out that evening and Tobin helped her pick out turf shoes and even her own ball she could use for practicing at the house.

 

Tobin’s been playing in the league for the last five off seasons. There are mostly youth teams and a few adults teams, but Tobin never joined one because she didn’t think it would be fair to be a professional player going up against amateur teams. Instead, she put the word out among her circle of friends and they put it out among their circle of friends and started their own league. There are a total of six teams, all made up of professional soccer players, semi-professional soccer players, fits all players, college soccer players and even a few baseball players and retired athletes from other sports that wanted a way to stay active. Each team has at least a couple non-athletes too.

 

Tobin loves it. She has so much fun every season. The game is so fast paced and she gets to be more creative than she does during regular soccer. Being able to play the ball off the walls allows her to dance around opponents and try out trick moves to improve her own game. In the past five years, she’s felt her reaction times get so much quicker and she knows it’s made her a better player.

 

The first practice they have, Tobin tells Christen not to worry about her skill level and to just have fun with it. Sure, they’re mostly all athletes so they’re competitive as hell and want to win, but they really are just there to have fun. It’s a fun game to watch and even more fun to play, and everyone enjoys themselves.

 

Kelley and Emily play, but they’re on a team with a bunch of LAFC boys and some NWSL players from east coast teams that stay in LA during the offseason. They’re the biggest rivals Tobin’s team has and those games always result in ridiculous scorelines.

 

Tobin’s team has Christen, Mal, Allie, Bati, a bunch of Bati’s futsal teammates and a group of UCLA women’s soccer players that Amy helped them connect with. They’re the youngest team and have the highest number of non-professional athletes out of all the teams in the league, but they’re scrappy and creative and they know how to grind out wins.

 

Plus, with their new star forward, even if they give up too many goals, they learn early they can easily score more than they let in.

 

Christen ends up being a goal machine. Tobin still remembers the first time they played together and Christen needed a dozen chances to actually get the ball in the net. And now practically every shot off her foot either results in a close save or a goal.

 

“You’ve been holding out on me this whole time, haven’t you?” Tobin asks her at their first practice after Christen has scored enough goals she knows they aren’t just fluke shots. “You’ve actually been a baller this whole time, you just didn’t want me to know.”

 

“Babe, I honestly have no idea how I’m so good at this,” Christen laughs just before she lines up another shot and, of course, scores again.

 

“Yes, Christen! That’s my girl,” Tobin beams, her proud cheer ringing off the plexiglass walls around them.

 

Christen shoots her a wink and then jogs over to grab another ball.

 

Four games into the season and Christen is the top goal scorer in the league with 19 goals and Tobin couldn’t be more proud. She’s playing the least selfish she’s ever played, usually electing to send the ball in Christen’s direction hoping to set up a goal for her instead of trying to score herself. Nothing will ever beat the way Christen’s entire face lights up and her arms stretch out like an airplane when she scores. Tobin’s never seen something so sexy, honestly.

 

Before their fifth game of the season, Tobin gets to the arena before Christen. She had lunch with Mal so they just made their way right to the game afterwards and Christen just decides to meet them there.

 

Some of their teammates and most of the other team are already there warming up when Tobin and Mal arrive. Mal sees a friend on the other team she hasn’t seen in awhile so she runs over to socialize with her right away. Tobin heads to the bench to put her shoes on and wait for Christen to arrive.

 

She’s finishing lacing up when she hears a vaguely familiar voice call her name. “Yo Tobin, long time no see.”

 

Tobin looks up and sees a smiling face she hasn’t seen since her rookie season in LA.

 

“Servando? What the hell dude?” She laughs at the surprise of seeing him and rises from her seat. She claps his hand and pulls him into a half hug. "How have you been? I haven't seen you in years."

 

"I'm doing really well," Servando says with a happy smile. "Ready to kick your team's ass at indoor."

 

"Yeah, there's no chance that'll be happening," Tobin laughs. “What are you doing here? I thought you were up with the Sounders as their athletic trainer.”

 

She hasn’t seen Servando in seven years. Her rookie season he interned with LAFC’s men’s athletic trainer. Since he was working with the men’s team she didn’t have a ton of interaction with him, but he traveled with the women’s team a couple games so they were able to get to know each other a bit. He wasn’t on social media though, so once he got a job in Seattle, they lost touch. Not that they were great friends to begin with so it wasn’t a huge loss, but he was a good guy and she always enjoyed getting to hang out with him.

 

“Yeah, I got a job with the Galaxy. My wife’s pregnant and her family is from here so we wanted to move back and settle down,” he explains.

 

“Dude, you got married? Who the hell did you manage to convince to marry you?” She laughs, falling right back into the rhythm of giving each other a hard time.

 

“Just the greatest girl to ever exist,” he brags. “As far as how I managed to convince her, I have absolutely no idea. I’ll never deserve her.”

 

“I might have to fight you on that one. I’m pretty sure my girl is the greatest to ever exist,” she teases. “I’m happy for you though, that’s amazing. And you guys are having a baby? That’s so cool, dude.”

 

“Thank you, we’re really excited. I’m nervous as hell, but I can’t wait.” He scratches nervously at his chin, just thinking about the idea of becoming a dad. “What about you? I heard about everything that went down with LA, that’s such a shame. Totally their loss.”

 

“I appreciate that, but I’m all right now. It sucked for sure, but things are really great now, so I’m happy.” She looks up then and happens to see Christen walking in the door right at that moment. “Actually, here’s my girlfriend now. I have to introduce you.” She waves her over and smiles when she catches Christen’s eye and sees her face light up.

 

Servando turns and sees Christen and his jaw drops a little. “Wait, that’s your girlfriend?”

 

“I know, she’s ridiculously hot right?” Tobin asks, nudging him in the ribs with her elbow. "Chris, this is--"

 

"Servando, hi," Christen says before Tobin can actually introduce her. "What are you doing here?"

 

There's an awkward moment where they start to go for a hug, then hesitate. Then Servando halfway goes for a handshake that turns into an uncomfortable wave when he decides against it. Finally, Christen just laughs and leans in the give him a loose hug that's over almost before it starts.

 

"We just moved back," he says, still a little in shock. "Wait, so you're dating Tobin?"

 

"You guys know each other?" Tobin doesn't even know why she asks when it's already obvious they do. But it doesn't make sense. She watched the whole interaction in utter confusion over how these two people from different times in her life are already familiar with each other.

 

"Yeah, uhm…" Servando tries to answer, but he looks at a complete loss for words. He turns to Christen, eyes pleading for her to help him out.

 

Christen lays a comforting hand on the small of Tobin's back, eyes nervous as she says, "honey, this is Alex's husband."

 

Tobin's confused for a moment. Does she know an Alex? She doesn't think she does. But then she sees the shy smile on Christen's face and the way her eyes nervously flick to Servando and it hits her. No, she doesn't know an Alex.

 

But Christen does.

 

She almost married her.

 

"Wait, seriously?" She looks back and forth between Christen and Servando, who both just give her awkward nods, fully aware of how strange this situation is. "He's married to your ex?" She asks bluntly. They're already familiar with each other, no reason to beat around the bush.

 

"Yes, seriously," Christen tells her. "How do you two know each other?"

 

Tobin catches herself sizing Servando up now that she knows about the connection. It doesn't even matter, but she can't help drawing comparisons between him and Christen. Dark skin, nice eyes, great hair, insanely kind and genuine people. Yeah, Alex definitely has a type. Tobin bites her tongue when she looks at Servando and the word 'downgrade' crosses her mind. They're all adults here and she doesn't need to be petty, but honestly when comparing literally anyone to Christen, they'll always be a downgrade. She's as great as they come.

 

Judging by the way Servando looks almost intimidated by Christen, he feels the same way.

 

"He worked with LA's athletic trainer my rookie season," Tobin tells her. "This is so weird, right?"

 

They all let out a relieved laugh, grateful they're all feeling a little tension. It melts away after the laugh and they're able to give each other more relaxed smiles, all feeling a little more comfortable.

 

"Yeah, it's a little weird," Servando agrees with an easy smile. Then he looks towards the door and sighs, "and it's about to get even weirder."

 

"Christen?" Someone asks from the direction Servando's looking.

 

Tobin looks over and sure enough, there's the girl she's only ever seen in pictures and heard about in stories, standing in front of her in the flesh. She's even more beautiful than the pictures could ever show. The just noticeable pregnant belly and giant rock on her left hand catch Tobin's attention right away.

 

"Alex, oh my god, hi," Christen laughs in surprise.

 

Alex holds her arms open and takes a step forward. Christen squeezes Tobin's hip softly and then pulls her arm away and moves towards Alex. The hug is quick, but the way Alex holds her with such familiarity sends a flare of jealousy through Tobin's chest. It isn't a feeling she's used to, but she recognizes it right away.

 

She knows she has nothing to be worried about. Alex is very obviously taken, and so is Christen of course, so there's no reason to be feeling this way. But she can't help it. Alex is gorgeous and there's so much history there. They've both moved on, but it will always be there. They'll always be a part of each other's story. Knowing this woman has touched Christen in ways only she does now is unnerving. She doesn't want to think about anyone else knowing Christen so intimately.

 

"This is so crazy, what are you doing here?" Alex asks as she pulls back and moves by Servando's side. "Are you here to watch the game?”

 

Before Tobin’s even able to actually think about it, she’s opening her mouth and speaking. “She’s playing, actually,” Tobin says. She reaches an arm out and puts it around Christen’s waist. “She’s the league leading goal scorer.”

 

Christen shoots her a smirk, knowing exactly what she’s doing. She relaxes against Tobin’s side, but not enough that it’s excessive considering they are in public after all. But it is obvious what she’s trying to show by the slight shift. She’s with Tobin. Tobin is with her.

 

“Alex, this is my girlfriend, Tobin,” Christen says. “Tobin, this is Alex.”

 

Alex’s look of confusion at Tobin’s abrupt comment melts into a kind smile once she realizes who she is. “Oh! Hi!” She holds out a hand for Tobin to shake. “It’s so nice to actually meet you. I've seen you all over Christen's insta.”

 

Tobin can’t quite interpret the smile on Alex’s face. She thinks it’s a genuine one, but her jealousy might be making her a little bit paranoid right now. What if she’s being fake nice? Tobin isn’t going to be rude though, so she reaches out and shakes Alex’s hand.

 

She smiles back at her and says, “it’s nice to meet you too.”

 

“So how did you manage to get this one to join your team?” Alex asks, nodding in Christen’s direction. “She’s like the least athletically talented person I’ve ever met,” she teases.

 

“Nah, she’s a natural born striker. She just needed to find the right fit,” Tobin says, shooting a wink in Christen’s direction.

 

Alex’s smirk tell Tobin she knows exactly what that dig meant. She doesn’t seem bothered by it, though. She understands how Tobin is feeling and she isn’t going to call her out on it or fight back. “Well, I’m glad she found it,” Alex says.

 

“Me too,” Christen says. She smiles and kisses Tobin’s cheek. “So how far along are you? I had no idea you were even pregnant. Congratulations!”

 

“Thank you!” Alex’s hand instinctively falls to her stomach. “I’m 18 weeks. I’m due at the end of April, we can’t wait. All our family and friends know, but we wanted to wait until we settled in after the move and got control of our lives again before we publicly announced it and completely gave up control to the baby.”

 

“Kids will rule everything, so I definitely understand wanting to savor your alone time as much as possible," Christen says. "This is really great, I'm so excited for you both. You’ll be amazing parents.”

 

“Thank you, Chris. That means so much to me, coming from you.” Alex smiles and then focuses on Tobin. “What is it you do, Tobin?”

 

“I play soccer professionally. I was in LA for eight years, now I’m in New Jersey.”

 

“Al, I actually worked with Tobin a bit when I interned with LAFC,” Servando chimes in.

 

The way he smiles at his wife is sweet, he's evidently enamored by her. Alex's eyes light up when she looks over and sees the way he's looking at her. It does a little to help with Tobin's jealousy, knowing they're so in love.

 

Alex's eyebrows raise as she looks from Servando to Tobin. "Wow, what a small world." Her eyes go a little distant as she thinks about it.

 

Tobin does the math in her head and realizes that when Servando was at LAFC with her, Christen and Alex were still in the early stages of their relationship. It's incredible to her how far all four of them have come since then, how they started so differently than where they've ended up now.

 

Tobin's always said she believes in fate. She can't help but recognize its influence here at least in some capacity. Honestly, what are the chances?

 

Thankfully the realization they all have in that moment doesn't last too long.

 

"All right, well I'm going to let you guys go warm up," Alex kisses Servando's cheek. "Good luck, babe," she grins, scrunching her nose up at him. She turns to Christen and Tobin and says with a laugh, "try not to give my guy too hard of a time out there okay?"

 

"No promises," Christen teases.

 

"Tobin, it was really nice to meet you," Alex says, giving her a soft smile. "And Chris, it was so good to see you. We'll have to catch up some time now that we're back in LA. I want to hear all about Nata and your family."

 

"It was nice to see you too, Alex. We'll keep in touch," she promises with a nod.

 

Alex gives them all one last smile and a wave, then she's heading towards the bleachers on the other side of the field and leaving the three of them behind. Servando watches her walk away with a big smile on his face. When he turns back to them it isn't quite as bright now that he isn't looking at the love of his life, but it's still kind and charming.

 

"I'm going to go join my teammates, but I definitely agree about catching up sometime," he tells them. "Also, if you guys are as good as you say you are, please go more than a little easy on me. I'm old, I can't keep up," he jokes.

 

Tobin and Christen both laugh, any potential awkwardness diffused before it can even develop. This is all so much easier than Tobin expected it to be.

 

"Not a chance, dude," Tobin says.

 

"Yeah I was afraid you'd say that," he sighs. "All right, well have a good game you two. I'll see you around." He gives them a wave and then turns to enter the field through the open gap in the plexiglass walls and starts warming up with his team.

 

"You okay?" Christen asks, rubbing a circle against Tobin's back. "I really had no idea they'd be here. I didn't know she was even back in the state. She doesn't post a lot on her socials."

 

Tobin has to think about it for a moment. Her default response is to say that no, she isn't okay. She feels jealous and meeting Christen ex near-fiance is unsettling.

 

But when she really thinks about it, yeah she's totally okay. There might be a little bit of jealousy, but she knows it's just surface level. She has nothing at all to worry about. Christen only has eyes for her, even when standing right in front of her gorgeous, literally glowing ex. She knows she's the only one on Christen's mind and has been since they met. There's no reason for her to be worried, not even the slightest.

 

"Yeah, I'm okay," she tells Christen honestly. "I was a little caught off guard because I wasn't expecting this, but I'm good. She seems really nice and I'm glad Servando found someone like her. They're both good people, they deserve that happiness."

 

"Wow, that might be the most mature thing I think you've ever said," Christen says.

 

"Because you think I'm immature the rest of the time?" Tobin challenges.

 

"Oh stop it, you know that's not what I meant." Christen rolls her eyes and then pulls Tobin in with a hand on her hip. "I'm just really proud of how much you've grown in the time I've known you. You've always been so special, but you've really put in the work and elevated yourself the past few months. I love you so much for it."

 

Tobin grins, nearly blushing at the comment. She drops eye contact, suddenly shy, and instead rests her forehead against Christen's shoulder. "I love you too," she mumbles, placing a kiss on Christen's shoulder right where her shirt stops.

 

Christen kisses the side of her head and then tilts her chin up with a finger. "Let's go kick some ass out there. No way in hell am I letting us lose this game and drop below Kelley's team in the standings."

 

She starts jogging towards the field and Tobin falls a beat behind, struck still by that promise. She catches up to her quickly enough and leans in the whisper, "it's so incredibly sexy hearing you be so competitive."

 

Christen shoots her a wink as they join up with their team and start warmups. Tobin feels her heart flutter at the sight.

xxx

Christen wasn't kidding when she said she refused to let Kelley's team jump them into first place. She has five goals before she pulls herself for the last few minutes of the first half for a well deserved rest. Every time she scores, Tobin makes sure she's the first one to her.

 

After the first goal, she hugs her tightly and spins her around, "that's my girl!" She cheers, putting on a little more of a show than she usually does for goal celebrations.

 

"Say that a little louder, why don't you? I'm not sure Alex heard you," she teases quietly for only her to hear, knowing exactly what Tobin is doing.

 

"I have no idea what you're talking about," she laughs and goes to lineup at midfield.

 

After the second, third and fourth goals, Tobin playfully smacks her ass each time, even if it means she has to cross half the field to do so. Christen rolls her eyes and laughs, waiting until it happens the third time to actually say anything.

 

"If you go out of your way to smack my ass one more time, I'm going to smack you back," she laughs.

 

She isn't really annoyed about it, moreso just amused at Tobin trying to assert her dominance in a situation they both know she doesn't need to. They're both having a little fun with it though.

 

"You say that like I wouldn't enjoy it," Tobin shrugs, jogging backwards to lineup for the restart.

 

"Oh my god, you're impossible."

 

"You love it," she winks.

 

Christen just hums, "maybe," and then let's her game face settle in again as the whistle blows.

 

After the fifth, she presses her luck and actually gives Christen a quick kiss after she high fives the rest of the team.

 

Tobin never would have done it under normal circumstances, but the best thing about this league is they're all friends or friends of friends so no one is really bothered by their affection or teasing. They're just happy to be winning, so they pretty much ignore them and keep their heads in the game.

 

"Was that really needed?" Christen laughs afterwards, but she certainly wasn't pushing her away.

 

"You just look so damn hot when you score," she reasons. "I don't know what you expect me to do when you're out here scoring bangers like that."

 

"It was a tap in on an empty net," Christen deadpans, calling Tobin out on her weak argument.

 

"I don't know, babe. Looked like a banger to me. Wasn't that a banger, Mal?"

 

Mal just laughs and pretends to be annoyed by their teasing. "Sure, it was a banger. Now stop flirting with your girlfriend and get back to the game," she says as if they aren't already up by six.

 

Christen laughs at the scowl Tobin shoots in Mal's direction and then jogs off to the sideline, getting some well earned time off as a player from Bati's futsal team runs on in her place.

 

They end up winning the game 27-25. Servando's team went on a seven goal, unanswered scoring streak in the final few minutes to push for over time, but Christen knocked in two goals in the final minute to be sure that wouldn't happen. She doubles her single game scoring record with eight goals with Tobin, Mal and Allie all contributing hat tricks as well.

 

By the end of the game, they're both exhausted from the effort they put in, but happy with the results. They can't wait to get home and hopefully get in a nap before Nata gets back from his day of fishing with Nima.

 

Mal picked Tobin up for lunch and drove her to the game, so Tobin packs up her stuff and turns around to find Christen so she can head home with her. It takes her a moment, but she finds her over near the bleachers talking with Alex.

 

Tobin is surprised when her initial reaction isn't to flare up with jealousy. Now that she's had a little time to settle with it, she notices that while, sure, they're familiar with each other, it's more in a friendly way now. They're standing a reasonable distance apart. Christen's eyes are bright as she smiles, but not overly so. When Alex reaches to squeeze Christen's shoulder as they part ways, it's safely near the top in a platonic zone. Nothing about it could really give any hint that they were ever in a relationship if Tobin didn't already know better.

 

Tobin hangs back and lets them talk. Once they hug and part ways, she walks up to Christen, throwing a wave in Alex and Servando's direction as they catch her eye while heading out the door.

 

"You okay?"

 

Tobin is the one to ask the question this time. As weird as the earlier interaction may have been for her, this is one of the first times Christen has really seen Alex since their breakup. As amicable and unavoidable as their breakup was, there was still a time when they were the most important person in each other's life. While that burns at Tobin just a little bit, she also wants to make sure Christen is all right too.

 

"Yeah of course, I'm good," Christen says without hesitation, throwing an arm around Tobin's waist. "I'm happy she's so happy, and the feeling is mutual." She kisses Tobin's cheek and steers them towards the exit, more than ready to get home and chill. "Thank you for asking though, I appreciate that."

 

"Of course, I know how deeply you feel everything so I'm sure that was a lot for you to see her again." Tobin actually surprises herself a little bit at how above this all she's being. She knows this wise, mature person is someone she's always had inside of her, she just never really let it show too often.

 

"I love you for that," Christen smiles, pulling her closer as they walk towards her car. "To be honest, I'm totally okay though. There's no part of me at all that's still hanging on to her, so I'm really just happy to see her thriving. If I'd ran into her at the beginning of this year, yeah I probably would've been pretty unsettled by it for a little while, but I'm really okay now." She unlocks her car and then leans back against the side, letting her hand drift around Tobin until she's linking their hands together. "I really hope this doesn't like a line because I mean it genuinely. But since I've met you, you've been it for me. None of my past relationships even matter anymore because you're all I can see. So yeah, I'm okay after seeing Alex because seeing her again just reconfirmed everything I already knew about you being the one I'm meant to be with."

 

Tobin wishes more than anything they weren't in a crowded parking lot right now. All she wants it to kiss Christen fiercely and then pull her into the backseat and have her way with her right here because she loves her so much she can't wait until they get home.

 

She doesn't do that though, knows this isn't the time or place. Instead, she squeezes her hand tightly and brings it to her mouth to press a line of kisses across the back of it. "I love you so much, it doesn't even make sense to me half the time."

 

Christen sighs, eyes dreamy and full of ideas Tobin is definitely going to ask her about later. For now though, she let's it lie because again, not the time or place.

 

She just leans in and kisses her, briefly but sure, before she pulls away and opens the door so they can throw their bags in the backseat. She opens Christen's door for her and then jogs around to the passenger side. Once they're both buckled in and Christen's pulling out of the spot, Tobin remembers the question she meant to ask in the first place.

 

"So what did she say to you? She seemed super smiley."

 

"I thought you weren't jealous," Christen smirks.

 

"I'm not! Just curious, is all."

 

Christen shoots her a sly look like she isn't totally convinced, but she let's it go. "She just told me she was really happy for me because she can tell how good we are for each other. I think we're finally in the place I always hoped we could be after our breakup. We'll always be important to each other on some level, but we're both totally moved on and in better places than we were before."

 

"That's really good, Chris," she tells her genuinely. "I know everything that went down was difficult for you."

 

"It was, but I'm good now. I promise." She reaches over to squeeze Tobin's knee and adds, "she did say she was serious about the four of us getting together for lunch sometime. She wants to get to know you and she wants to make sure Servando has friends here. She knows he'll miss Seattle for awhile and wants him to be able to settle here."

 

Tobin might be okay with the quick interactions, but she doesn't know if she's ready for a whole meal together just yet. "Can we hold off on that until we crush his team again in a few weeks? I think I'll be totally good then."

 

Christen rolls her eyes, "you're such a dork."

 

She agrees though, so clearly she doesn't mind too much.