Chapter 1: Tickets
“Squad four, squad four. Accident on 5200 South Ellis Avenue.”
Damnit, the perfect hand.
There was three hundred dollars and two club box tickets to the Chicago cubs game in two weeks, no way was she going to let this pot go.
“All in boys.”
Everyone looked defeated while Tobin was calm and collected. Ashlyn looked at Ali who then looked at her brother, “I fold.”
The four other firemen quickly folded their hands with no question and ran to the truck but Tobin and Krieger’s brother locked eyes.
“All in,” He said without breaking eye contact with his lieutenant, putting the rest of his money in the pot and laid out his cards on the table, “Fullhouse babe-eeeeey.”
Tobin smirked and laid down her hand slowly, “Four of a kind.”
“No wa—Damn,” Kyle put his hand on his chest when he saw Tobin lay her cards out with his eyes now focused on the pot, “My heart.“
“Anyone touches this pot...”
“We will scrub toilets we knowww!” Her squad groaned after finishing her sentence, all of them instinctively running towards the truck. She stepped out of her shoes and into her boots and pants. She has done this over a hundred times, not able to quite shake the feeling of adrenaline she gets when she hears the voice on the speaker call for her help.
Yes, it was bad. But, Tobin was addicted to the thrill of running into a burning building with only one thing on her mind, rescuing whoever needs rescuing. Since the fire squad wasn’t called, she knew it had to be a trapped person.
She grabbed her heavy coat that had her last name spread across the back with Chicago Fire Department. Aside from soccer, this was always one of her dreams. To become one of Chicago’s finest; to be known for her desire to save lives instead of her successful collegiate career at UNC.
“Let’s go boys!”
They got in the truck and Kyle tapped Tobin’s shoulder, “Can I atleast have my tickets back?”
“You should have known better than to challenge her. She’s the luckiest firefighter out there.”
Tobin looked back at her candidate through the mirror, “What’s that supposed to mean Ali?”
“I mean let’s be real,” Ali nervously chuckled before continuing, “Your record is spotless. You have been on this truck a hundred and thirty-six times and every time, you have rescued who needs rescuing.”
Tobin knew she didn’t know and she didn’t blame her; everyone knew what happened a year ago but no one dared to say anything about her “clean” record. Saying those words struck home for Tobin, flashing back to the one fire that won in which caused her to lose one of her own. She heard a small ow and it made her smile which then quickly disappeared after she saw absolutely nothing on the street.
“Fucking Prank callers.” She mutters as she stepped out the large firetruck, not bothering to put her hat on or pull up her hair. Though it was a kind of quick drive, nothing irked the lieutenant more than a prank.
She heard a few complaints coming from her squad and once she was about to radio in that it was nothing but a prank, she saw a door fling open in her peripheral vision. Tobin frowned, great.
She sighed and turned around expecting an old lady but it wasn’t. Rather, the person who appeared was a young girl with bright blue scrubs on topped with a Stanford jacket. She was frowning, her arms crossed across her chest. Tobin can see the hands that were balled into fists, knuckles turning white.
She was taken aback at how her heart sped up when there was a moment of brief eye contact. Kind of cute when she is mad, Tobin admitted to herself, trying to quickly push the thought away to remain professional soon after. Tobin began the slow, normal routine walk up the stairs while tying her hair, “How can we help you Ma--“
“Oh-so it takes you thirty minutes to come here but you couldn’t even tie your own hair in the process?”
Tobin frowned and cleared her throat, twenty minutes miss.
“We apologize ma’am, what seems to be the—“
“Oh no, no.” She laughed angrily and put her finger in Tobin’s face, so close that it was touching her nose, who is this chick.
“I don’t want your apology.”
Tobin forced a smile on her face, catching how the nurse’s eyes went down to look at her smile for a moment before clearing her throat, looking back up.
“Then how can I help?”
The next words made her squad laugh. Tobin didn’t know if it were the nonchalant words in which gallantly flowed out her lips or the way Tobin reacted with the facial expression when she heard the simple words. She felt like someone just pushed her into the cold waters of the Chicago River. No, she felt like this was worse than a prank.
A big, fat.
But duty always calls.
The nurse looked so serious and Tobin’s smile quickly disappeared, a dumbfounded expression started taking over. Her shoulders dropped, “You’re meaning that you are this, mean. For a cat?”
“Aren’t you going to ask what’s wrong with it?”
“Uh yeah, to save him from his bipolar owner? Sure thing.”
Her squad clearly held back the laughter with their erratic coughing, acting more unprofessional making their lieutenant even more annoyed with how the nurse’s cheeks turned redder than a Chicago sunset, she was embarrassed. Damn, I’m a jackass.
“Show a little respect to the lady, would ya?” She turned back around to catch a faint smile on the girl’s lips, her eyes magnetically drifting towards it. They moved back up to her eyes, noting how her eyes squint when she does smile, thinking it was one of the most beautiful smiles she’s ever seen.
Why am I even thinking about this?!? You. Are. On. The. Job.
It quickly disappeared following a clearing of the throat by the nurse, prompting Tobin to speak back up. No matter how small that smile was, Tobin wanted to see it again. Like, her mind started shifting gears at that moment just to see the smile again.
“I apologize for being rude.”
Because somehow, that smile made her heart flutter like none other and apologizing would be her best option. She normally never feels her chest pound or her palms suddenly starting to feel sweaty when she wasn’t in a fire. What she normally did was either save lives or take some girl home for the night.
Her guard was up but it came crashing down after seeing this nurse.
“Well if you—“
“Just… show me?”
Christen let out a grunt at the interruption, her cheeks still red, and turned on her heels to open the door for Tobin.
God why did she have to be so cute? Tobin took off her coat and threw it at her candidate, “I’ll be back. No need to come in.” Her squad started to “oooouuuu” and she could’ve sworn Ali handed Ash a crisp, green bill after rolling her eyes and getting back into the truck.
Her home was very colorful, art pieces everywhere with neutral colored furniture. Every piece accented each other, whether it be the grey roses in front of a bright blue abstract art piece to the white, suede couch with light blue lamps. It was very clean, something she expected from a nurse who had a stick so far up her ass, that Tobin wasn’t sure how she could possibly walk.
But what really caught her eye was the four jerseys that were hung up—two on either side of the TV. For someone who made sure that everything worked together, she was surprised at the red, white, and two blue jerseys that were hung up.
Press, Press, Press, Press.
Stanford and… the red stars? Damn.
“It’s right there…”
She led her to the kitchen and looked up. Tobin sighed and saw the cat indeed stuck at the top of the cabinets. She looked at the girl who was clearly concerned and decided not to fight it anymore.
She held her hand out to shake her hand, “Seeming as though you clearly can’t reach the cat…”
“Are you being sarcastic because if that’s it, you are—“ Tobin sighed and brought her hand back at the rejection, jumping onto the counter with ease and sighed, “Lady, you’re driving me crazy. I’m only joking…”
It was funny to Tobin, able to see the girl squirm in her peripheral vision at the sight of Tobin’s arms. Seeing her muscles working together to lift the heavy boots and pants that weighed the firefighter down off the ground with ease made the nurse uneasy, shifting her weight from one leg to another. She could feel her eyes linger on Tobin’s figure as she stretched upwards to reach for the cat and Tobin would be lying if she didn’t admit to herself how nervous she felt at the idea of the nurse checking her out.
The good thing is, she knew she looked good at the time.
“Really, you’re going to call me lady now?” She scoffed, muttering something about respect that Tobin rolled her eyes at, “Well you were too busy biting my head off for waiting twenty minutes to get your name.”
Tobin saw what the issue was. Somehow, a trap for a rat ended up at the top of the cabinet near the wall. The cat purred at her as she pet it, “Hey little guy…”
For some reason, she enjoyed the interaction she had with the girl. Dying to test the girl’s limits once more, Tobin gently carried the cat up simultaneously holding the trap steady with her other hand.
“Her name is Lily.”
Tobin hopped off the counter, seeing the nurse avert her eyes quickly as she ran her hand through her ponytail. She smiled again at the nurse, “And yours?” She reached for her pocket knife and worry struck the nurse’s eyes as she stared at the knife, “Relax, the leg will be saved. No need to take him to an ER, lady.”
The last word was on purpose, pushing the nurse over the edge just like Tobin wanted.
“For your information, it’s Christen. Not, lady.” It was like she gnarled the words at Tobin who was very much so taking the precious time out of her schedule to save a cat.
“Do you have to be so mean?” She freed the cat with one swift move and it immediately jumped into Christen’s arms.
“You can leave now.”
“Are you really mad for taking nineteen minutes to get there? Two tickets to the Cubs games were on stake here lady.”
“Twenty,” She corrected after she let out a sigh of impatience mixed with exasperation, “For the love of god, it’s Chris—Wait, you took that long for TICKETS? My cat could’ve died!” She flared her nostrils out at Tobin who smiled again, admitting to herself at that moment she enjoyed seeing this woman like this.
No longer on the job.
“I’d like to take you to that game if you’d let me?” She licked her lips slowly and leaned against her granite countertop. She watched the nurse’s eyes fall towards her lips again, “Oh my god. You did not just, no. No… Wow, just No.”
“Christen,” Tobin corrected herself smiling and straightened her back as she edged a little closer to the girl who took two steps back with the cat, “Not even a thank you?”
They locked eyes, Tobin tilting her head to the side trying to figure out the color of her eyes. They’re so beautiful, she thought to herself, noticing the hint of grey at the ends of her sea green eyes. She could stare at them all day long, she thought, thinking of how she was utterly captivated by the crazy woman.
There was that silence in the room; that type of silence that makes the two hold their breath. Tobin took the time to note the high cheekbones, freckles across her sun-kissed cheeks and the perfect jawline revealed by her high ponytail.
Their gazes held for longer than Christen had anticipated, unable to ignore how her heart was pounding just by the way the firefighter was looking at her. Like, she was taking mental snapshots of how Christen looks like right now.
Oh, did it make Christen nervous.
“I can’t believe this.”
She dropped her cat and Tobin’s eyebrows shot up in surprise staring at the cat that ran away, “So not only bipolar but an abusive owner too?”
“UGH. I can’t with women who have egos the size of Texas, thinking they can charm their way through anything.” She marched over to the door and tightened her jaw before turning to look at the firefighter who somehow, remained calm during this whole altercation. She shrugged and made her way towards Christen.
She let out an exagerrated sigh of her own and smiled as she turned around to look at the nurse once more, “You should try loosening up a little.”
“Then prove it.” Tobin saw that Christen was about to speak back up again to protest and it was her turn to put the finger up, “Go out with me Christen Press, I’ll wait for you under the sign. Be there, two weeks from this day at 5:30.”
Finally noticing how her finger was on the nurse’s soft lips, Tobin could feel a warmth spread through her chest faster than a wildfire spreading through a forest. Seeing how the nurse was stunned as she held her breath, she smiled at her and walked out the door, turning around again to see Christen still in the same spot.
The words were so easily spoken from the heart, trusting the way she feels towards the hostile nurse, knowing that the whole act the nurse put up must be a façade. She went with her gut feeling, something she has always done the past 5 years as a firefighter. She trusted herself and her gut that kept her alive all these years.
No? Tobin shook her head, smiling at the girl as she took steps back towards her firetruck while keeping eye contact with the nurse, “See you then, Christen Press.”
“HOW can one be so ARROGANT!” Christen huffed out as she naturally did the honors of cleaning, stitching, and dressing up a little boy’s gash just under his knee, “Can you believe it Ben.”
“I mean Christen! She’s a fiiiirefighter.” The boy winced when he felt the alcohol being applied at the wound, his grip tightening against the blue leather bed, “She likes you!”
“I just met her Benny! She was so…”
“YES!” Christen frantically looked up at the twelve year-old beaming at her, “I mean, no OF-course not.” She looked up and closed her eyes, letting herself just indulge the thought that maybe, just maybe…
She has a deeecent smile.
And clearly nice a body.
Christen looked up a little as her thoughts deepened, trying to picture the firefighter one more time.
And strong… I could tell just by her shoulders and arms…
“Okay, a little.” She admitted, going back at his knee laceration and pushed the thoughts away, “When are you ever going to stop hurting yourself kid.”
“Blame it on the sport—OW easy. I’m going to tell mom about your date.”
“Comes with the package. You’ll be just like your godmother one day and I swear if you do tell her-I’m going to kick—“
“Benny, AGAIN!?” Alex rushed into the room and looked at her best friend, “Another bad cut?”
“Mommm, Christen’s going on a date!”
“FINALLY!” Alex high fived her son and Christen sighed, finishing the last stitch before looking up at Alex, “It’s not going to happen.”
She took off her gloves as she shot Benny a glare and threw them away before turning back to look at the disgruntled best friend who was checking out the stitches, “I’ll never understand why you never went to med school.”
“Because I chose soccer after College, you chose med school babe.”
“Mom, why’s she calling you babe?” Ben hopped off the bed, landing on his good leg and picked up his bookbag waiting for an answer.
“Because I’m a babe, duh. Come on kid, let’s get you home,” She walked off yelling, “You need to tell me about the date!”
“It’s not-t-t a date-e-e.” She singsonged the words as she watched her best friend stop at the desk a few steps away from where she stitched up her son, telling him how sad it is that every day he messes one part of his body up.
Son you’ll be deadpool by the time you’re eighteen if you keep this up, she says as she signed the discharge papers.
Mom, who’s deadpool? Christen laughed at the interaction that left little Ben confused and his mom who took no note of it and walked off.
Someone you won’t know about until you hit eighteen.
I have google mom.
Why are you so smart?
Has to be dad.
“TOBIN you need to get out of there right now!”
She felt the heat grow exponentially larger with every second that slipped by. Her gut told her to push forward and disobey her chief, “Negative!”
“We have a ladder, I order you to get the hell—“
“There won’t be enough time!” She screamed through the roaring fires into the radio. It was her and the fire alone, her heart pumping adrenaline through her body. She enjoyed these moments that were so critical, something she fears to admit due to the judgement that may surface.
But damn, did she love fighting the fire. She knew she heard something upstairs and she wasn’t just going to let it go. She marched slowly up the stairs, careful with each step but it didn’t help. The house itself was one of the oldest in Chicago, causing the wooden stairs to collapse from its weak foundation below.
Her heart leapt out of her chest, adrenaline causing her to react by sprinting up the stairs. It was a bold move, hearing the rest of the stairs collapsing behind her. The house was going down and she knew it. No matter how many times she’s been in this situation and inside a house engulfed in flames, she will never understand the fiery blaze’s strategy.
It was always, unpredictable.
The long hallway was surrounded by flames, the now black smoke was making it harder and harder for Tobin to see infront of her. She ducked low as she marched forward, “FIRE Department, call out!”
There was no answer, “FIRE DEPARTMENT, CALL OUT!”
She squinted her eyes and saw the closed door of the apartment at the end of the long hallway.
And her gut again, told her to keep going.
“I’m going to need a ladder chief east side!” The heat at this point became almost unbearable, feeling the heat off the walls fighting to get through her suit and knowing that along with the black smoke caused Tobin to react faster. Because she knew that a wave of fire was about to go through the entire building as one, last blow.
“I know!” She regained her breathing under control and took a deep breath in, turning around once she reached the door, closing her eyes and focusing all her energy towards her right boot. She thought of the moment she lost her best friend by a fire just like this, anger clouding her mind but not her judgement. Of all times, the memories come flooding in, picturing the look of her best friend as she told Tobin to leave her behind.
Don’t leave without checking that door. Her mind stirred at the endless possibilities of which would come after opening that door. She has no exit, trusting her firemen to put that ladder up. That was her only hope because no way in hell, Tobin thought, will I let a fire beat me again. Her grip tightened against the warm steel of her axe and she kicked the door as hard as she could, busting through the hot steel hinges holding the door upright.
Consequences of her actions will meet her in less than ten seconds.
Time froze, her frantic eyes searching around to find a baby crying in the corner with his mom clearly knocked out from the fire. She looked towards the windows to find a ladder placed at one window ready for her to climb down from.
Not enough time.
She took off her mask and firefighting helmet instantly, something she was trained to never do under any circumstance, dropping the mask coughing as she grabbed the baby and without question, stuffing him right into her jacket. There was this panic that swarmed through her entire body as she ran back to the back of the room and ran as fast as she could towards the window.
Tobin closed her eyes and leaped out head first, twisting her body to where she saw the clear skies now clouded by black smoke and the fire that roared through the room’s window she dove out of.
Bracing, for impact.
God, is this real?
She felt a piercing sound pierce through her eardrums. Tobin lifted her arm up slowly but something tugged it back down, hearing a small voice in the background.
Easy tiger, just rest up.
Her vision was blurred as she heard voices in the background, looking around despite the heavy wave of drowsiness that overwhelmed her entire body. She felt weak, tired, and dead. Her lips were so dry, throat itching, hearing a steady beep in the background. Tobin looked down her body, seeing two IVs hooked into her arm and in a bed that was not hers.
“Are you ready for your treatment?”
She felt something heavy, maybe a hand, give her a light squeeze before hearing a chair scrape against the cold floor backwards.
“Can you not call it treatment…”
“Okay fine, we just need to see if you are a match. But, did you hear about what this firefighter did?”
“What’d she do?”
“Jumped out of a two-story window for a baby. We need more firefighters like her.”
Tobin’s state of mind was still disoriented and her vision was no longer a complete blur, able to see the back of a woman in blue scrubs and a red sweatshirt with a man who was clearly a doctor. Her eyes were ready to give in to the sleep that her body craved but she held on, wanting to know who the mysterious woman is.
She turned around, “Yeah. We do.”
And no matter how heavy her lids felt and her slightly blurred vision, nothing could stop her from recognizing that face. And when she felt that familiar warmth that spread through her chest moments before Tobin fell back into a deep sleep…
She knew it was her.
She woke up two days later from her slumber less disoriented, the piercing sound no longer there. Tobin was surrounded by flowers and cards, “What the f…” It suddenly hit her what happened to her, panic rising almost as fast as her heartrate spiked. She heard the monitor go haywire as she pulled at the IVs, feeling another pain coming from her ribs.
She let go of the IVs and grasped at her side, wishing the searing pain would stop.
“Hey, hey, hey-stop. It’s okay,” A nurse came running to her side. Not any nurse, but a nurse with a bright red jacket on with a Christmas tree (what Tobin thought when she first saw it) logo, “Calm down, it’s okay. I got you.”
Tobin rested her head back on the pillow and closed her eyes tightly at the feel of her warm hand back on her forearm, “Only a crazy girl would wear that Christmas tree around here.”
“And only a crazy girl would jump out a two-story building. And it’s a redwood tree.” Tobin looked over at Christen and smiled weakly, “Only trying to impress ya, Christen Press.”
Christen rolled her eyes, “Stop--you’re using up all your energy to come up with these lines.” Tobin let out a raspy laugh, immediately grasping at her side again holding back a stifling scream. She clenched her jaw and looked over at Christen and seeing that worried look on her face, it made Tobin feel so weak.
But Tobin could see through the worry. She was looking at a girl who didn’t glow the way she did nine days ago. She looked tired too, dark circles forming around her eyes to indicate the exhaustion.
“How’d the treatment go?”
Christen’s face fell flat, “What do-- How do you know about that?”
“I heard it.” It felt like it took her all her strength to swallow; Christen grabbing the water by instinct and bringing it up to Tobin’s mouth, “Here, drink.” Tobin felt a gentle hand push up her head towards the water. Tobin reached up slowly to take ahold of the water, her hand wrapping around Christen’s.
She heard Christen breath in deeply at the contact, “I uh, umm…I’m trying to find a match for bone marrow. I-don’t-even know why I’m telling you this…I-I gotta go, my friend erm, Doctor Carrasco, will take care of you.”
It’s one thing that has always had Tobin befuddled. Why do the good ones have such, shitty, luck? Deep in her own thoughts, she didn’t notice that the nurse left without a sound, the Doctor coming in soon after.
“Heyyy… Tobin Heath, I’m Doctor Servando Carrasco but you can call me Serv. I’m the one who patched you up. You suffer from a concussion, three broken ribs, and a lung contusion, and a dislocated shoulder...” She drowned out his voice as he talked about what he did in the surgery room to fix her up. Once she heard nothing, that was when Tobin spoke up.
“Just doing my job.” Tobin tried her best to look tough and cleared her throat, “So uh, what’s her story?”
“Who-OOOOH Christen,” He laughed shaking his head as he marked up her charts, “She’s special, probably our best Pediatrics nurse.”
Great, treats children too.
“And the treatment? What for?”
“Leukemia. But, we caught it just in time I believe. She’s struggling to find a genetic match and hopefully, we can find one soon and start chemo and we can clear up—“
“Test me?” Tobin blurted the words, surprised with herself even.
The doctor’s hand froze on the chart looking up at Tobin with a surprised smile on his face, “I’m sorry but you are in no condition to be tested.”
“Test me.” Her tone was more demanding and the doctor sighed, placing the chart at the end of her bed. She didn’t know much about the girl but she felt like this was something her heart, not her gut, was telling her to do. Tobin knows what it takes to donate bone marrow and if she is a match, it would put her off the job for a month.
Maybe, even more.
Otherwise, she would not let herself do this.
“Okay but, two days more of recovery. I just need you to sign some papers and we can move forward with the test.”
“Just under one condition…”
“And that is?”
“It has to be anonymous.”
Chapter 2: Perfect Match
“Ok-AY-are you KIDDING me!” Christen sprang out of her lawn chair after watching someone shove Benny on the field, disrupting the play but getting no call. She paced back and forth on the sideline drinking one of Benny’s Capri Sun’s out of frustration. Meanwhile, Alex was laid back on the lawn chair with her sun hat on despite being under her tent.
“Cool it, lady!” The ref jabbed his finger at Christen, warning her of her competitive edge. Alex dramatically sighed and watched the game peacefully, “If only you sit down and enjoy the game…”
Christen had her hands on her hips and turned on her heels to look at her best friend, “That boy hit your son!”
“Benny has his mommy’s attributes, don’t worrrrry.”
She does make a valid point.
She flashed back to the time when the firefighter would continue calling her that, smiling at the thought. And then she remembered how easy it was for the firefighter to get under her skin, getting annoyed at how she let herself be reeled in so easily. She was curious though, feeling as though the firefighter put up a high wall to stop people from seeing her true colors.
I mean who dives through a second story window if she wasn’t an actual, selfless, genuine individual.
Why so cocky.
Why does she have to be so cute but SO arrogant!!
She knew one thing though, Tobin Heath has clearly always had her way around girls, able to charm them easily with that smile of hers. Hell, it charmed Christen more than she’d care to admit and IF she was going to even consider Tobin, she’s going to make her work for it.
Every time her mind wanders to her, she tries to push the thought away but it never seemed to work. She doesn’t want the firefighter to think she charmed her in a sense that she has her hooked.
There were days at the hospital where she would find herself in Tobin’s room without realizing that that’s where her mind took her, watching her sleep peacefully and be there when she had her nightmares. That’s when her mind started stirring, wanting to know more of what the name “Allie” meant to Tobin; the same name that came up frequently in her dreams that had her in cold sweats.
But more importantly, what’s the promise that Tobin made?
Sister gone missing?
Scratch the last one, Christen thought and froze with her hand on her chin (pretty much like the thinking emoji), thinking she was being too extra and decided that the first one seemed to fit the best. She did admit to herself that she would make a terrible detective, if she ever went into the profession. Nonetheless, she knew Tobin doesn’t remember the nights of her being at her side when she had her night shifts.
Back in the day when Alex used to play college, she would get fouled left and right. They were actually rivals who ended up as best friends after both of them got called up during their collegiate careers. No matter how bad the hit was, she would get back up and hit her opponents when they would least expect it like a snake prowling in the grass.
Christen experienced it first hand, Alex embarrassing her multiple times in team scrimmages, and she admitted to herself that Alex may or may not have been the better player at that time. Watching Benny reminded her of Alex and how peaceful she was after those hits, getting up quietly refusing to acknowledge the pain despite the bad scrapes on his arms that Christen will most likely dress up.
After all, what are godmothers - who are nurses who are also best friends with the mother- for?
She flashed back to how Alex would always embarrass the other girl with her fancy footwork or beating the opponent in a footrace to score on her. Christen sat back down and focused all her attention on the game and not her addictive need to solve the firefighter’s puzzle, watching Benny get the ball again.
This time when Benny’s rival went up to shove him again, kind of like a bull going for his prey, Benny stepped back instinctively with the ball making the kid miss completely and lose his footing to fall face forward into the green grass. This time, both Christen and Alex jumped out of their bright lawn chairs both screaming, “That’s my BOY!”
At this point, all the mothers were just confused with how the girls reacted, blatantly staring at them instead of the game. Alex laughed as she jumped up and down clapping excitedly cheering on Benny as he took the ball all the way down the sideline, cutting into the field to place the ball at the lower right corner from the opposite end.
Well… for Alex, she called him Benny-bear and Christen was almost certain Ben heard it. Only because, he turned around mid-celebration with his shoulders slumped and with a straight face, he looked in his mother’s direction who mouthed the word, sorry.
“SUCK ON THAT!” Alex covered her mouth soon after she turned around to scream those words at the boy who was still on his knees with his head down, “Oh shit, here we go…” were the next words that she said, hearing the stomping of a familiar nemesis of hers.
“Alex… He’s a kid! Did you really—“
“You have NO RIGHT!”
“You’re right… I’m sorry, he did mess with the wrong kid, you even know that…”
Christen felt her phone vibrate in her pocket, excusing herself from the messy argument between the two parents.
“Hey Serv, what’s up?”
Every word that he said after that shook her body to the core. She felt every word hit home, unable to comprehend the words at normal speed. Alex did a double take at Christen, who had to sit down, and pushed her way past the raging lady, “Chris, are you okay?”
She hung up the phone and turned her head to look at her best friend with a confused smile on her face, saying the words she didn’t think she’d be saying so soon.
“I found a perfect match.”
“I hear something!” The warehouse’s condition worsened as every second ticked by. Many of the firefighters left at the chief’s command, but Tobin and Allie stayed behind.
“Allie, we have to fucking GO!” Tobin for the first time felt fear run through her veins at the sight of the black smoke and steel beams from the top being unstable. She was following Allie who pushed forward, jumping over debris with ease.
If it came down to who was the more ferocious firefighter, it was Allie. She never gave up on anybody or surrendered to any fire, acting both a weakness and a strength at the same time. The fire at this point started attacking the foundations of the warehouse, hearing explosions in the background from the oxygen tanks that were stored in the place.
“I-I can’t when I know there’s someone back there!” Tobin grabbed her best friends hot jacket and pulled her close to her face, her breathing ragged and lost.
“If you go, I go.”
Allie quickly nodded multiple times before telling Tobin to follow her lead. In the end, Allie was correct. There was a group of workers huddled in the corner that the fire didn’t reach, too scared to move through the fires alone.
“Help, we’re stuck!”
Tobin and Allie rounded the corner to see that the workers were indeed, stuck. Tobin and Allie both worked together to push away the large debris that blocked their only way out. Allie lead them out while Tobin followed from behind after they were done.
Once they were all out, Allie turned back around to see Tobin trail feet behind to make sure she didn’t miss anyone. Tobin was doing that as well, looking around slowly peering through the smoke as she moved forward until she heard a loud creaking sound above her head. Her mind told her to move over and over but her body froze in its spot. She tried so hard to move but her legs felt numb, heavy.
Like, she was a deer in front of a set of headlights.
“TOBIN, WATCH OUT!”
Allie sprinted towards her, taking the shortcut by jumping over short flames instead of around and pushed her best friend out of the way. Tobin watched it happen with her eyes wide open, the steel beam falling right on top of Allie who tried to dive out but the beam caught her legs, trapping her lower body.
Tobin scurried off the floor and slid to wear Allie was trapped, her bewildered eyes looking around frantically trying to figure out what she should do, repeating ‘what do I do’ over and over again. She grabbed the nearest crowbar and tried to pry the beam up but it wasn’t budging, only causing Allie to cry out in pain.
“HELP!!” She called out, hoping that maybe someone would come through the radio but all she heard was the flames roaring around them, “Somebody HELP!”
“Tobin, stop. Please…”
“NO!” Tobin was crying at this point, throwing the bar to the side and used all her force to try and push off the beam even though she knew she wasn’t strong enough.
“I won’t leave you behind, I WON’T DO IT.” Tobin screamed as she tried to use her entire body to lift the beam up just enough for Allie to scoot out of. She felt Allie tug at her arm and Tobin stopped to look down at Allie, who smiled weakly at her.
“I need you to go,” Allie took off her mask to make a greater emphasis on her next word, tears brimming her eyes but wouldn’t escape.
She started coughing erratically with her voice breaking, “Please, just go.”
Tobin refused again making Allie scream out “GO” before it was too late. Tobin nodded this time frantically squeezing Allie’s hand tightly, “I’m so sorry. I’m so, sorry Allie. I’m sorry.”
Pieces of the roof started falling around them, breaking Tobin’s heart even more but she still wouldn’t move.
“Promise me that you’ll never blame yourself for this.”
Tobin shot up in her bed, covered in her own sweat as she relived a nightmare once again. She looked at the picture of the two of them laughing at the camera, acting like fools as they held their axes up.
That was their first day together on the job, both candidates working at the same firehouse.
She stripped the sports bra and the Nike compression shorts she was in and went right into the shower, hoping to wash away the pain caused from the memory by the hot steam of the water. It got to the point that Tobin never wanted to sleep, the same memory haunting her every time she closed her eyes. She promised these words but never felt true to them, because she blamed herself every day.
If I had only moved over two steps.
What if I did?
You’d still be alive.
The only thing that she wanted to do was honor Allie’s memory by being the person she was.
The fearless, firefighter who put others before herself in any given situation.
She heard her phone through the shower and so Tobin hopped out quickly, wrapping a white towel around and walked to her bedside table dripping with water, answering the phone before it went to voicemail.
“Hello?...… Oh wow, okay… Mhm, I’ll be right there.”
By the time Tobin got to the hospital, her hair dried up from the cold wind of the Chicago weather with her windows of her freshly polished black ‘67 Mustang Fastback Pit Viper down. The car was her prized possession, passed down from two generations of her family as tradition – the oldest gets the car when they hit twenty-one. She wore an army green long V-neck and washed out skinny jeans with classic superstars. By the time she did get to the hospital, she regained her composure and put up the Tobin everyone knows.
She took off her black-rimmed aviators when she got to the front desk of the emergency room and smiled at the nurse, “Hi.”
The brunette smiled at her and started stuttering, “Um, h-hi. Wow, what can I help you with?”
“So…” She naturally leaned against the higher counter cheesing, “I’m looking for Doctor Carrasco.”
The nurse leaned forward mimicking Tobin’s movements, “For?”
“Ooooh, I can’t tell you…” Tobin looked at her name tag and was about to say her name until someone said it for her.
“Sofia, Stephanie wants you in room 4 to clean up a kid.” Christen signed the papers and spoke up without looking at Tobin, “So, I see you have a thing for brunettes.”
“Nahhhh,” Tobin felt her heart flutter at seeing the jealousy that Christen tried so hard hiding, “Only eyes for one, particular-r-r brunette BUT, she’s really stubborn, so.”
“Oh yeah,” Tobin flashed her smile and sighed shaking her head playing along, “She’s a little too uptight. She’s making it hard for me to impress her, ya know?”
“Uptight, huh?” Christen turned around to put the patient’s file in with the rest of the files in the rack and turned back around, whipping her high ponytail around with her, waiting for an answer.
Wait, that wasn’t rhetorical.
“Well, yeah. So, I asked her out and well…She doesn’t want to take the leap of faith with wanting to meet me in… two days actually.” Christen smiled at her, clearly forced, but Tobin still loved seeing it, “I wonder why.”
“Yeah,” Tobin said coolly as she watched the words fall off Christen’s lips, not bothering to hide the attraction, “I wonder why.”
They stared at each other to see who would establish the dominance between this interaction, who would be the first one to break the eye contact? Tobin bit her lip and tilted her head, watching those eyes drop to her lips again before she cleared her throat and looked away.
“I won.” Tobin smirked after she said the words, Christen shaking her head and fiddled with papers to try and seem like she’s doing something important.
Saved by the bell.
“In the flesh doc, are we ready?”
“Ohhhhhhh,” Tobin heard the voice and whipped around smiling as she leaned her body against the counter, “Highly classified information, lady.” Christen rolled her eyes and walked off muttering something about how annoying Tobin was.
She loooves me.
“SO, this will probably be one of the more painful things you have ever gone through. Basically, we will insert an aspiration n—“
Tobin’s face went sour as she tried to keep up with the fast doctor, “Please, spare me the gory details!” Another doctor stopped in front of the two, “Serv, you really need to stop with the 21 questions with eeevery nannnny we HIRE!”
“Well, I would like to know the background of the nannies we hire.”
“Just, trust me…please?” The other doctor, Alex Morgan, looked at Tobin and smiled, “So you are the famous Tobin I’ve been hearing about. I’m Alex and I actually have to go!”
“Hearing about? Wait,” Tobin smiled knowing what that actually meant, “Who’s talking about me?”
“I think you already know the answer to that,” Alex said with a wink as she walked past the two and called out on Serv, “Steak for dinner?”
“Wife?” Tobin walked faster than normal with the doctor who lead them to the procedural room, “Yep, I’m so lucky to have her. We’re here… This is where you’re going to change into a gown. I’ll have the nurse that checked you in check your vitals and we’ll set the OR up in the meantime. See you there Tobin.” The doctor gave her a small smile before turning around. Right when he was about to open the door, he turned back around and looked at Tobin one more time.
“Thank you. Because of you, one of my closest friends is going to live a very healthy life for a while without worry.” Tobin shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans and looked around the room avoiding any eye contact, “It’s no problem, really. I just want to help.”
He exited the room and Tobin stood there for a solid minute tapping on her legs before it finally registered that she should probably change into the gown. Tobin stripped off her long V-neck that was long enough to cover her butt, exposing a black bra. She started unbuttoning her jeans until the door flung open, Tobin’s innocent eyes looked up, her hands freezing at the zipper, and looked up at who the nurse was.
No, friggin, way.
“I need to…” Christen’s eyes started at the floor when she entered, surprised when she looked up to see Tobin shirtless. Her voice disappeared as her eyes wondered down to her cleavage and towards her abs, swallowing thickly at the sight in front of her despite the big blue-green bruise on her ribs, “I, um, wanted to talk to you.”
Tobin feeling the blush creep up had to just think of something on the spot, “What about the other…”
“Yeahhh, I told Sofia that I’d take care of you.” There was a pained expression on Christen’s face as she walked towards Tobin looking only into Tobin’s doe-like eyes to stop herself from looking at how… Perfect, in Christen’s eyes, Tobin’s body was.
Not even an ounce of love handles.
Tobin never blushes.
But she did and she knew she had to act fast before it became noticeable. Because when Tobin blushes, it doesn’t just show on her cheeks. It shows all the way down to her neck and a little on her chest.
After a short moment of time, it finally hit Tobin of what Christen just said or rather, admitted.
That, she wasn’t comfortable leaving Sofia alone in a room with her.
She didn’t want it.
“Talk about…?” Tobin put her gown on in a hasty manner, trying to tie it from the back but her hands were shaky and slippery, What the hell Tobin, get it together. But, it wasn’t just that in Tobin’s defense. Her shoulder was still hurting so she couldn’t bring it back the way she wanted to, getting frustrated with how helpless she was at that very moment.
“Here, let me help.”
God, she’s trying to kill me, “It’s okay.”
“No. Just, let me help?”
“Uh, sure.” Tobin turned around quietly, closing her eyes when she heard the footsteps edge nearer and nearer.
“Surprised you didn’t come up with some line that’s supposed to work on me.” Her hands hesitated when she saw her bare back, Tobin heard the girl take a deep breath in before her cold hands accidentally grazed her lower back, sending a chill right down Tobin’s spine.
Tobin cleared her throat as she felt the hands work against the gown’s laces. She tightened it slowly and painfully before making the bowtie, Tobin unable to form the words on her lips or even breath at that matter.
“You’re telling me you don’t like them?” She let out a sigh of relief when she felt the hands off her, “Are you going to stop playing hard to get?”
She wanted to turn around to look at the nurse but Christen didn’t let her, pushing her hair to one side. For once, Christen enjoyed an interaction between the two, torturing the person who’s been tormenting her all this time. Christen felt the shudder beneath her fingertips when they grazed her neck and smiled mischievously, not realizing that the words she was thinking left her lips and there were no takebacks.
“Where would be the fun in that?”
Her hands, resting at the top of Tobin’s neck with the second set of laces, froze momentarily before pulling back fast. Tobin heard nothing but her steady breathing and her own thoughts as she tried to derive up something devious, her wicked smile forming on her lips as she turned around to take advantage of this moment.
Only to see the door softly click shut with no Christen in sight.
After the procedure was done, Tobin didn’t want to stay in the hospital after going through truly, the second most painful thing she has ever gone through. Servando realized that there was no point in fighting it, not prescribing her any more pain meds for the next few days since her supply was good enough. Tobin refused to be given any in the first place, knowing how easy it is to get addicted to these drugs.
Only if she had to was when she would take some.
“LIEUTENANT!” Ali jumped up at the sight of her mentor walking through the garage doors of the firehouse, pulling her in for a warm, welcoming embrace. It made Tobin wince and Ali stiffened while still in the hug, “Too soon?”
“Yeah, too soon.” She croaked out, trying her best not to sound like a person in pain. Ali slowly released Tobin only for Ashlyn and the boys to take turns hugging their Lieutenant.
“I’ve missed you so much!”
“The temporary lieutenant is the biggest ass ever.” Ali said frustrated and her brother agreed as he fixed his perfect hair that didn’t need fixing after the hug, “Ugh, you have no idea!! He messes up my hair on purpose Tobs, on purpose!”
Ali shook her head, “What kind of man does that?”
“Guys,” Tobin cut the gossip off about the acting Lieutenant that replaced her with a simple wave, “I’m not back just yet. He’s going to be here until I get cleared so do me a favor and show him why Firehouse 64 is the best in Chicago, by being…”
“Respectful and humble firefighters, we knowww.” Almost all her firefighters said that but Ashlyn, who was leaning against the firetruck with her hands in her pockets, calm and collected.
“So, when exactly are you coming back?”
“I… That’s up to the chief.”
“But we need—“
“I’m in no condition to act as lieutenant.” Tobin’s voice was stern when she cut off Ashlyn as she looked away from the only people whose stuck through her all the way, through her darkest times, “I’m not ready.”
It pained her to say those three words, not able to look at her family as she walked off towards the chiefs Office quietly. She opened his door and he immediately got up, “Tobin, I didn’t know you’d be coming in. Which is good, I wanted to talk to you about something important…”
“Yes sir I know, same here. I just wanted to come in and tell you that I think I need—“
“Wait, what?” Tobin looked confused at how fast the events turned to not favor her, “I don’t need that. What I wanted is—What I want is a leave of absence. With all due respect Chief-I don’t want or need a shrink.“
The chief walked around his desk and ushered Tobin to sit down, “Tobin…”
Here we go again.
“You haven’t talked about that day to anyone and your actions to push forward against my word just showed me how you aren’t ready to--“
“I don’t… get it. I saved a baby’s life, I--“
“You’re not getting it, you’re right. You went in blind, defying my orders not knowing there was a window or an escape plan. What if there wasn’t a window Tobin? I would’ve lost another lieutenant.”
“I had a gut—“
“Feeling, we know. And that’s what got Allie killed.”
“Don’t… Don’t bring her into this,” The words took her breath away as she looked down forcing back any tears that wanted to escape, “Chief, please don’t do this…”
“I messed up and I’m not going to again. Starting this Monday, you’re going to get counseling, do you understand?”
Tobin shook her head and stood up, “Loud and clear.”
God, what do I even wear.
Tobin wanted to look the best going to this game so she stood at the front of her closet that stretched across a side of her bedroom. She didn’t want to try too hard nor did she want to dress too casual.
The way Christen makes her heart race is the only thing that is on her mind when she is with her, aside from the fact that she makes it a point to hit on Christen because she loved the reactions she got from the girl.
Normally, any girl would flirt right back with Tobin in a playful manner.
She figured out the hard way that Christen Press was not like any other girl.
Any other girl wouldn’t linger in Tobin’s every day thoughts.
Any other girl wouldn’t have her working this hard to impress her.
Tobin decided on a pair of light, ripped up skinny jeans exposing her tan thighs with a white tank under her unbuttoned Cubs' jersey, and a blue Cubs' snapback. She left her hair down naturally and slipped on her loosely laced white chucks.
Here goes nothing.
The drive was long because of traffic but she made it and parked a little farther than she wanted to. Her hip was hurting, it was hot, and the idea of going to see a shrink in two days was something she didn’t want to think about at all.
Thank god for Christen, Tobin thought, only if she comes to take her mind off everything in her life.
It was awkward standing under the big red sign but she kept waiting, hanging onto the last bit of hope in her life. Time ticked closer and closer towards the start of the game and Tobin started to accept the idea that Christen may not show up. She sighed and figured it was maybe for the best.
That maybe, she wasn’t good enough to be with someone who has a pure heart.
Maybe, she didn’t deserve a chance.
She turned around and went in through the gates and metal detector, showing the man her ID and ticket. She was about to turn the corner until she heard her name get called, her body freezing but heart rate spiking yet again at the sound of the voice calling out on her.
The overwhelming worry about ever talking about that night a year ago disappeared once she saw Christen from afar.
That doubt of ever being good enough for someone like Christen went away.
She turned around to see Christen leaning over the green, metal railing with her sunglasses resting at the top of her head waving at her. There was that smile on her that reassured Tobin that everything will be okay; that smile that seemed to have glowed in a way that it has not before.
Maybe it was a smile that only developed due to the relief of Tobin hearing her but she still enjoyed every moment of seeing it, feeling happier and happier as every second ticked by.
And the only thought that took over her mind was…
Get closer to see those beautiful green eyes one, more time.
Chapter 3: Let Me
It was all supposed to be so simple.
Sit next to the girl.
Watch the game.
Or, atleast that’s what Tobin thought.
“Okay here it is, here it is…” Christen watched intently as a Cub’s runner reached second and the batter reached first base safely with two outs in the sixth inning, “Best play here is sacrifice one of our best. With Rizzo on first and Baez on second, force the 3B rook off the base to field the ball but watch he's gonna hit towards first b—Oh god, they’re putting Zobrist up!”
I think I’m in love.
Christen hopped off her seat and rubbed her two hands together in excitement, “Watch, the pitcher knows that he’s one of our best hitters, so he’s going to completely misread the entire situation and throw a sinker to try and force the last out.”
Not only a nurse, but a nurse who knows her baseball.
Definitely in love.
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. We saved Bryant too, he’s coming up after Ben. Just wait on it.”
Tobin watched as Ben Zobrist walked up to the plate, not showing his tactics when prepared against the Cardinal’s best pitcher. Tobin got up too in anticipation to the play, standing closely next to Christen to where their hips would graze with any small movement as she watched the play about to unfold. She felt Christen’s eyes move towards her which made Tobin look to catch her eye but Christen quickly looked away, making Tobin grin from ear to ear.
Once she saw Zobrist shift his position once the pitcher released the ball, she looked at Christen in amazement then looked back to see Christen’s plan unfold. He placed the ball perfectly in between the rookie 3rd baseman and the pitcher, confusing the baseman to sprint towards the ball before realizing that it was a grave mistake.
He was entirely too late running back to the plate causing him to the pitchers fast throw, Baez zooming right by him untouched because of it, Rizzo catching up to make it back to home plate to make it a double play. The entire time, Tobin was watching Christen jump up and down cheering on her team and suddenly, she took Tobin by surprise when she swung around and pulled her in for a hug. It was wildly insane, Christen was too caught up in the moment to realize what she did.
Oh man… did Tobin love the warmth of her body pressed against hers even though it was a moment that ended all too fast. She felt the lightning strike her heart as fast as her arms naturally snaked around Christen’s waist to pull her in closer, making her heart race once she detected the subtle hint of sweet perfume on base of her neck. Her throat went dry when she pulled back just enough to look at Christen with softened eyes.
Christen completely forgot about the game, eyes skipping back and forth between Tobin's eyes and her lips rather than the boys celebrating the 2-0 run, “What?” She nervously laughed moving away from Tobin in hopes that she wouldn't have seen her blush so easily just from the way Tobin looked at her.
“Ahhhh-you’re just…” For once, Tobin felt confident to say the word but she just couldn’t get it out, feeling her throat tighten up, trying to clear her throat as she smiled ahead, “Nothing.”
Tobin laughed shaking her head no and Christen repeated the question again as she joined in on the laughing, “Are you serious, come onnnn!”
“Maybe one day.”
The next inning went by with the Cardinals scoring one up on the Cubs, Christen pointing out where the Chicago team went wrong and what they should have done. It never ceased to amaze Tobin how into the game Christen was, knowing the ins and outs like she played the sport.
“So is this how you were playing soccer?”
Christen turned to look at her while squinting her eyes against the sun as she smiled asking what she meant by that. Tobin had to look away because of the sun was hitting Christen in all the right ways, making her feel even more uneasy than she already is because of the crushing feelings she has for this girl.
“You could practically coach the team. Ya know?”
Christen chuckled and looked back towards the ongoing game, “You don’t know anything about me, Tobin Heath.”
“How about we change that over dinner?”
Why not, right?
Not the reaction I was expecting
“You gotta do better than that.”
“Are you kidding? That was pretty smooth,” Tobin defensively raised her arms up, “Let me get to know you.”
Christen sighed and looked at her, “Do you want me to be honest, Tobin?”
Tobin mimicked her prolonged sigh and rested her head against her hand, “Be honest, Christen.”
“I think, you put up this front to not show people the person you truly are. And until--”
Tobin raised her eyebrows in surprise, “That’s… not true.”
Is it though?
“Let me prove you wrong.”
The next course of events that happened was not expected in any way from Tobin's end.
It was supposed…to be…so… simple.
Sit next to the girl.
Watch the game.
Talk about everything but Tobin’s walls.
The first thought Tobin had was Oh Jesus take the wheel, her eyes widening at the foul ball heading straight for Christen seeming to be in slow motion. She propelled herself forward onto Christen, catching the ball with her right hand and Christen’s hands instinctively caught by the hips of Tobin to stop her from falling into her.
But, her touch wasn’t gentle, causing a pain to shoot right down Tobin’s leg from the surgery. There was still this massive bruise on her sensitive hip that was still healing and Christen caught the way Tobin closed her eyes tightly from the pain. The ball was still in her hand and people around her were clapping, completely unaware of the pain Tobin had just experienced.
All, but one person.
It hit her the way it felt running right into the glass next to the actual glass door of a store, taking a step back from the shock after a small gasp escaped her lips.
The person wanted to remain anonymous, I’ve dealt with enough kids with leukemia to know that the wait for bone marrow takes well over months.
How could you be so blind?!?!
“It… It was you?” Christen whispered, the pounding of her heart slowly becoming unbearable. She felt guilt for treating Tobin the way she has these past few days rush into her like a wave crashing against her favorite place in the world. Tobin took a deep, shuddering breath in, trying to smile as her eyes squinted against the sun. She no longer felt the pain, but she could see the pain through Christen’s eyes.
The look of guilt.
“I mean, yeah… But look,” Tobin was about to take a step forward to get closer to Christen but she backed away at the first movement, so she resorted to awkward hand gestures trying to explain herself.
“It was no big deal, really. I wanted to do it.”
“That’s…” the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me… Christen panicked, “I’m sorry. I-I need to go.”
Tobin frowned and sat back down after Christen disappeared from her sight, is she serious?
You run into burning buildings for a living.
You practically chase fires.
Why in the hell aren’t you chasing after her?
“Ahhh shit.” Tobin took off her snapback and jumped back up minutes later after it hit her that she should probably run after Christen, taking the same path she took. She kept running, weaving through the people going back into the stadium completely ignoring the throbbing pain coming from her hip. Tobin scanned the entire area, look for the girl with poofy hair, she kept repeating in her head as a mantra while running every corner and stopping at each end.
Tobin ran her hand through her hair after giving up searching for Christen, “This woman.”
An old lady sitting down at a near bench looked at her in disapproval shaking her head and Tobin scrunched her nose, “Nottt-you woman. I’m sorry…” She looked away and looked around once more, “Just chasing a girl that keeps running away from me. And I lost her, again.”
“Noooow I may be no expert…” Tobin tilted her head in confusion at the lady who proceeded to talk, “But I’ve lived long enough to know that’s either a scared girl or someone who wants you to chase after her.”
“Scared of what though?” Tobin sat down and sighed rubbing her eyes before looking at her and explaining to a woman she’s never met before what happened, what she did, and how Christen reacted. The old lady shook her head after she was done and laughed; Tobin started getting more frustrated with the lady but trying not to show it.
“Why. Are. You laughing?"
“She’s scared of being loved, you fool.”
Christen walked around aimlessly in the streets of Uptown Chicago before finding herself sitting on the steps of Alex’s home, contemplating whether or not to knock on her door this late at night. She heard the floor fling open and Christen hopped off the porch quickly, “Whoever you are, I have a BAT!”
Christen turned around as she said the words laughing weakly, “It’s me-it’s me, calm down.”
“Jesus Christmas--Chris, I could’ve killed you!”
Christen walked up the steps with her head down, “Yeah, because you’re so strong.”
“Hey, I’m a doctor and her husband is out working late. I know where it hurts,” She says with a wink before realizing there was something wrong with her best friend, “What’s wrong?”
Christen and Alex sat down in the living room while Ben did his homework upstairs. After three glasses of wine, Christen finished explaining to Alex what happened and what she did. Alex looked at her and cleared her throat pursing her lips, looking back down to her drink as she swirled the wine around.
“You remember the last time you told me my girlfriend was cheating on me in college?”
“You did that, same, exact move except with boxed wine. SPILL!”
“What? No.” Alex averted her eyes in attempt to not see Christen’s stern look as she drank the rest of her wine, smacking on her lips once she finished. Christen narrowed her eyes, “You’re a terrible liar.”
“I-Kind-Of-Knew?” Her posture went limp and she smiled apologetically at her best friend who leaned all the way back against the wooden chair, “You couldn’t tell me?”
“Patient confidentiality sista. Serv told me because I got it out of him. I thought he was cheating on me too, he was acting all weird stayin’ late in the labs! I thought he was lying? I’m sorry?”
"It's okay..." Christen closed her eyes with fingers on the bridge of her nose, “I can’t get her out of my head.”
Alex was quiet for a long time before asking the question Christen knew was coming in a hushed tone, “Why’d you run?”
Christen remembered the feeling she got when she found out what Tobin did for her. She has never felt her heart beat so fast when she looked at Tobin. She remembered how she couldn’t breathe with their chests touching and how her lips were so close to hers, that her eyes didn’t hesitate to wander towards them, her mind wanting her lips to do the same thing as well. That intoxicating smell she remembered to breath when Tobin’s face was inches away from hers in which she didn’t want to even try to force it out of her system.
The proximity killed her enough as is, especially when their hips collided.
She looked so different outside a firemen’s uniform, seeing her form in those tight jeans and tank top, it had her shook to the core.
Every, small detail scared the shit out of Christen.
Because deep down, she wants a woman she barely even knows.
“Because she scares the shit out of me.” Alex’s eyes widened and Christen went upright, “Not like that no. I’ve only known this girl for less than a month and I feel myself,” Wanting her so bad. Christen got up and walked away when she thought of the immediate words that came to mind that she couldn’t find herself saying, “And she keeps popping up out of nowhere! I went so many years, so many years Alex… Fixing what that girl broke inside of me, protecting myself from the likes of Tobin and look at what’s happening.”
“Likes of Tobin?”
Christen turned around to look at Alex, “Yes! She’s cocky and-and arrogant and thinks she could charm me with her smile and letsss not even talk about how guarded she is!” Alex was about to speak up and Christen started stuttering, her best friend patiently waiting for her rant to be over.
“A-A true pain in the ass and that is exactly how Barb was!”
“You think… Nevermind.” Alex said laughing as she waved her hand in dismissal of mentioning Barb’s name.
“YOU really think someone out there would do what Tobin did? Stop thinking so hard Chris-- this isn’t rocket science, just let someone in.”
There was a moment of silence before Alex spoke back up again frustrated, “AND Jesus, don’t compare her to barb-arian, please, that’s so insulting to Tobin.”
Days went by with no word of the firefighter and Christen worked every day, curious if she was going to come by and bother her. There was one time where she saw a group of firefighters surrounding one who was on a gurney while she was visiting Alex in the ER, her eyes frantically searching for Tobin but she wasn’t anywhere in sight. She was growing impatient with the waiting, deciding to take it into her own hands after the third day of her afternoon shift being over.
Here we go.
Just apologize, ask her for drinks.
“So, I completely misjudged you—Arrrgh,” Christen hit the steering wheel and looked back in the mirror, “I’m sorry. Can we start over?”
Christen groaned and sat in her car in front of the firestation, figuring out how to say it and what to do. She ran multiple scenarios in her head; get rejected and ultimately, get embarrassed in front of a bunch of men.
Two, Tobin accepts the apology and things get awkward from there.
Three, she apologizes and Tobin goes back to being a pain in the ass.
Or, they act like mature adults.
Mature adults for sure, after what happened.
“Just trust that we are old enough to handle this the mature way.” Scratch that, I know I AM.
Christen got out her blue Civic, a car she’s had since her undergrad of college, something she unable to let go of. No matter how hard her dad tried to bargain with her, Christen refused to let this car be sold to anyone else. Besides, Christen enjoyed living a very simple life. She always believed that every penny is worth something; buying a car worth eighty grand like the new Range Rover her dad wanted for her is illogical.
She wanted to use this Civic until it’s very last, dying breath.
Even if the driver's door sticks.
Well, both doors.
She walked up the slightly inclined path towards the firestation still in her scrubs. Upon entering the place, two firetrucks were parked with an ambulance truck at bay. Full house, great, she thought after scanning the place seeing a short brunette with her hair tied up into a tight bun arguing with someone with gorgeous hair while three others sat around playing cards.
She remembers the girl with the perfect bun as well as a girl with short, blonde hair who stood beside them texting away. But everyone else looked foreign to her, making Christen very nervous because the one thing she knew she wasn’t good at, it was apologies.
Christen swallowed thickly before making her way towards the arguing firemen, “Ex…Excuse me,” They weren’t listening to her and the firemen at the table started chuckling, making her more anxious and decided to raise her voice, “Ex-CUSE me.” Both of them turned to look at her impatiently, oh wow came out much louder than I thought.
It seemed as though the entire station went gravely silent, “Hi. I’m Christen Press and—“ There was a loud sound, a sound clearly created by metal connecting with the ground from somewhere when she said her name, and she looked around slowly before focusing back on the brunette with beautiful skin, “I’m looking for a Tobin Heath. I was wondering if I got this station, right?”
She heard more metal hit the ground then a small yet distinguishable shit made it’s way from behind Christen and the brunette smiled, “Hi, Ali Krieger but you can call me Kriegs, Tobin is probably hi--“
“I’m riiiight here,” Christen turned around to see Tobin leaning against the firetruck, wearing only an oil-stained white tank-top tucked into her department issued cargo pants. Christen started checking out Tobin without even noticing, gazing at her broad shoulders all the way down to her stained, muscular forearms.
Exactly out of a goddamn magazine.
Is there anything she can’t do? A mechanic?
“Well, a mechanic has to be smart and have good hands… I happen to have both.” Tobin smirked when she saw Christen redden after what she just said.
Did I just say that out loud?
She already felt the heat spread through her once she mentioned her hands, a couple of firemen giggling in the back like teenagers. Her mind started racing, wondering what else those good hands can do. The way Tobin even said it, it was as if she purposely wanted Christen to squirm.
"No one else could do it?"
“Well I'm off the job for a lil and figured I'd stop by to fix it since I can. So,” Tobin was quick to change the topic when she saw Christen's questioning look once she said the first few words, “What brings you by?”
“I, uh…” Just say it with your head held high, “I wanted to apologize to you about what happened at the game.”
Tobin smiled, clearly shocked at hearing the words that Christen just said.
Why is everyone always so surprised when I apologize.
Christen’s jaw almost dropped, is she fucking serious? Scenario three, of course.
Turning on her heels, she held her head up high like she wanted to and stormed out the firehouse, hearing Tobin call on her but she ignored it.
“No, no wait-wait come back!” Tobin ran after her and grabbed her hand, managing to get grease on her white, long sleeved shirt she wore under her scrubs. Christen looked at her now dirtied sleeve and Tobin did too, “Okay before you cut my head off…” Christen looked away because Tobin looked way too serious at the moment and well, she was mad.
“I just want to tell you that I will spend my entire day cleaning the shit out of your shirt.”
Christen’s mouth dropped this time and then she flung her hands up, “I can’t-I-I…” Christen took a deep breath in and closed her eyes, releasing her breath slowly while Tobin watched with a sly smile on her face. Hoping, that she could blow out the anger that she felt in the pit of her stomach caused by the firefighter clearly lacking any sense of maturity.
“I need to go.”
She turned around and walked at a faster pace than she had before. She heard Tobin pacing behind her but she didn’t stop, just get to the car.
Just get to the damn car.
Two attempts of trying to open the door that was stuck and three grunts later, she finally opened the door only for it to get slammed back shut again.
Oh, HELL no.
“Lady let-- okay,can you not be like an, angry negative Nancy, all the time and take a joke?”
“Oh-hoh wow okay,” Christen sighed impatiently and tried to lie out of her situation, “I need to get back to work.”
She didn’t release her arm, of course.
Christen didn’t notice how close Tobin was to her when she turned around to tell her to get her arm off her door, surprised to see Tobin maybe a step away from where she was standing. Her left arm was still on the door and Christen unable to form the words she wanted to say who the cold breeze blew Tobin’s smell right smack into Christen’s face.
As if the universe wanted Christen to just fall right into Tobin’s arms.
Even when she was working on an engine, Tobin still managed to smell like a goddess dressed in her tank and cargo pants.
“W-what do you want?” Christen stammered looking away from the girl who captured her own bottom lip and released slowly, toying at Christen’s emotions. She kept praying that someone would get her out of this situation as quick as he could, looking up into the sky as she did so.
“Let me, take you out to dinner. Just let me have one chance. Tomorrow night, I’ll pick you up?”
Christen’s throat felt like it just closed in on her, flashing back to what Alex said a few nights ago. The firefighter clearly had her sights set on her and no matter how much Christen wanted to just say no, she couldn’t bring herself up to doing it.
Just let someone in. Hell, anything to get out of this situation.
“Okay.” She said, releasing her breath as she said the word Tobin was so relieved to hear. Tobin pulled out her cellphone and handed it to Christen so that she could get Christen’s number.
“Now…WAS that so, hard?” Tobin laughed, taking her hand off the door and taking a step back.
“Don’t make me regret doing this, lady.” Christen replied with a serious look on her face after putting her information in giving Tobin the phone before turning around, making Tobin laugh out loud when she said the last word. She pulled at the door twice and it wouldn’t budge, not-now-not-now-not now, pleaseeee.
She closed her eyes and pursed her lips, feeling Tobin’s smile hitting the back of her head over and over again, “Will you please, help me?”
“Why yes I will, thought you’d never ask.”
With one strong pull, the door came undone, Tobin holding the door for her as Christen slid in. Tobin leaned over the door smiling, “Maybe you should get that fixed.”
God, that fucking smile could just give me a heart attack.
“Well…” Christen’s eyes moved back up to Tobin’s curious eyes, “Maybe since you have such, good hands, you could fix it.”
Tobin leaned back slowly, is she flirting, she thought with the smile still plastered on her face, “A lot of things I could do for you lady, and a door…”
Christen waited quietly, noticing how Tobin calling her lady doesn’t even bother her anymore. In fact, it kind of grew on her.
“Is just, not what I have in mind.”
“I’m kiiiidding,” Tobin closed the door laughing before Christen could reply back with a smart response. She backed away slowly watching Christen take off, making sure she was no longer in sight before she turned back around to head into the department.
Not knowing, that Christen was also doing the same, exact thing.
Get her flowers, don’t forget!
“…How are you feeling Tobin?”
Okay, she doesn’t seem like that type to want to flowers like that..
And then the idea hit her, Ohhhh baby, instantly lighting Tobin’s face up with that victorious smile of hers. She looked at her therapist and sighed, “I feel happy.”
“Well, in…” Tobin looked at her black watch and then leaned back against her throne (what Tobin called the huge leather chair). Both hands occupied the handrests, “One hour and thirty two minutes and twelve seconds, I get to go on a date I’ve prepared with a girl I’ve had my eyes on for weeks.”
“You’re deflecting. Tobin, I understand that you may be excited, but the way you…”
What to wear.
Definitely a snapback, Christen digged the shit out of that.
Gingham? The fuck Tobin…
“…Did… Allie Long’s death had anything to do with the way you handled the situation?”
Tobin going through her closet in her mind immediate came to a screeching halt when she heard her best friend’s name fall through the psychologist’s lips. For the first time in the past hour of the session, Tobin’s attention was fully on the blonde psychologist and not Christen Press.
Doctor Sour something?
“I think time’s up.”
“We still have—“
“Noooo ma'am I think we do not.” Tobin grabbed her keys off the coffee table and made her way to the door, turning back around only to walk back to the coffee table and grab a handful of the jelly beans on the table, “See ya tomorrow doc.”
She exited the room in a hasty manner, almost skipping towards her car to excitedly make her way towards her apartment. Once she reached her studio apartment, Tobin took a shower and shaved her legs slowly, applying lotion all over her body afterwards that was supposed to make her smell like Hawaii.
Tobin wanted to make sure every single, little detail was perfect in her. She has her imperfections and admits it but she knew one thing for sure.
Charming, Christen Press was a must.
She stood in front of her closet naked, pulling on lingerie just in case something happens on the first date. She completely doubted that anything would ever happen with how uptight Christen is but playing it safe was the best option.
Look good, play good.
“You got this, Harry.” She said smiling, saying the words Allie would typically say before every date she ever went on since she was her roommate at the time. Tobin looked at her closet once again, finally finding the perfect outfit to wear on her first date with Christen.
She pulled out her phone to check the time and decided on texting Christen.
[5:54 PM] Tobin: Be casual but look cute for me ;)
She received a reply almost instantly, her heart skipping a beat when she heard the standard tone for a notification for an iPhone go off.
Where are we going?
“Ohhh, that is a surprise.”
Christen threw her phone on her bed and turned back around, “I haven’t been on a date in so many years!” She looked at her closet whining to Kelley who was practicing strumming her acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, Christen was throwing every one of her tops out of her closet in disarray.
“Every top you’ve thrown actually looks good, you’re psyching yourself out.”
She took off the white shirt and put on a light pink shirt over her lacy, beige bra. Christen tucked the front of it into her denim jeans that stopped just above her ankles, turning around to look at Kelley who frowned and shook her head, “No cleavage.”
“She said casual!”
“Yea-she didn’t say look like a grandma!” Christen let out a frustrated sigh and ran her hand through her straightened hair, looking back at her torn apart closet. Kelley let out a groan of her own before she put the guitar down and scurried off Christen’s bed, “Move aside, loser.”
Not even a minute later, Kelley turned around beaming, “Take off your grandma jeans.”
“I hate you.” Christen sighed and wiggled out of her jeans, putting on the one’s that her best friend since high school picked out. Whenever she was in any existential crisis and by existential, I mean Christen picking outfits before any first dates, she would always ring up Kelley. Because she always knew what Christen needed to look like and how.
But this time, Christen’s face fell flat when Kelley revealed what the top is with the shoes.
“Kell, I haven’t worn something like that since like, fourth year in college except with... cheaper shoes. Me and her are both 27!”
Kelley rolled her eyes and insisted upon the shirt. Ever since the first date of highschool to the last first date in college, Kelley has never disappointed her.
And she was smart enough to use that as her defense.
“Oka-Ooookay, calm down.” Christen caught the shirt Kelley flung up in the air and pranced back onto the bed next to her guitar, “27 she says…” Kelley smacked on her gum muttering the words under her breath, “…Acting like 27 is the new 60. Hopeless.”
“I can hear you-you know…” Christen put the shirt on and turned to look at the mirror, craning her neck to the side while examining her outfit after she put on the shoes.
“Say it. Say the alllriiiight kells, I’m sorry.” Kelley gloated sticking her tongue out at Christen laughing as she tried her best impersonating her friend.
Breathe, it’ll all be okay.
“God, I can’t remember the last time I went on an actual date.”
Her fingers danced on the driving wheel of her clean Mustang, peeking at her apple watch for the sixth time that read 7:29 P.M. She revved her engine back to life and turned onto the street Christen lived on, initially parking somewhere out of sight to not seem over anxious of the entire date. Truth be told, she’s been waiting for twenty minutes with her own thoughts, wondering how her free-spirited soul was going to mess up the date.
“Just be cool, just be cool.”
Tobin parked her car and felt a smile creep up when she exited to walk up the same steps weeks ago. Missing how her heart skipped a beat from the nerves that had her palms sweating when she knocked on the door, Tobin backed away and turned around quickly stuffing her hands in her jeans, she couldn’t have forgotten?
“Don’t be stupid Tobs.”
Just don’t be—
“Hey--“ Tobin said before turning around immediately at the voice, “Hi, wow…” Tobin felt the breath actually taken away from her when she let her last word flow freely out. Her mind went blank when she saw Christen wearing a white, flowy crop top at which it’s long sleeves fell off her shoulders, revealing the tan, smooth skin that’s been hidden through the scrubs she’s constantly wearing.
She’s never seen Christen with her hair straightened, pulled to one side revealing the jaw that could make her fall to her knees right then and there. Her eyes scanned the girl’s body slowly, feeling her chest grow tighter and tighter seeing her in skinny jeans, lower abs barely showing but enough for Tobin to know what’s behind that crop top. Tobin looked back up blinking slowly after she saw the nude, red bottom heels with her eyebrows raised, say something.
“You look…Amazing.” She said, just above a whisper. She couldn’t see Kelley peeking from the blinds of the window jumping up and down because her eyes were locked onto Christen’s, thinking again how lucky she is to be standing where she is after putting the nurse through hell.
Christen smiled confidently whilst internally praising her best friend for picking out this outfit, “Thank you, you don’t look so bad yourself.”
Tobin winced looking down at her light denim, skinny jeans paired with her white, slip on vans to go with her light blue, button up linen shirt in which she rolled up its sleeves. She wore an outfit appropriate for what she has planned for Christen, not one that she would typically wear at a fancy outing.
“Yeeeeah, I know. I tried very hard to impress ya-Ms. Press.” She proudly replied with a wink tilting her head to her Mustang, “Ready to go?”
She rubbed her hands nervously against her jeans to make sure there was no way in hell Christen could notice how a nervous wreck Tobin is in the inside before reaching her hand out. Christen did not notice her hand, walking right by Tobin with her mouth wide open, “Is that a… ’67?”
Good lord, she knows her cars too.
“Yep, my pride and joy.” She said spinning around to follow Christen out towards the car.
She turned back around with this pleading look in her eyes, “Let me drive?” She looked back at the car mesmerized, sliding her hand along the edge of the car’s width as she walked, “My grandpa used to have one just like this. I would always want to ride with him anywhere… Even if it was to fill up gas.”
In this situation with any girl, Tobin would refuse automatically. This car was her prized possession, something that was so dear to her. The only one she ever let drive it was Allie, and that was after two years knowing her.
“Sure.” With one shrug, she walked down the steps and threw her keys at Christen who caught them with one hand, “Wait seriously? Wow-okay, just… holy shit!” She ran around the car happily bouncing from one foot to the other and got into the car squealing.
God please don’t wreck my car.
“So…” Tobin slid into the car and looked at Christen putting her hand on the clutcj, trying to disregard how beautiful she looked how perfectly the street lamp illuminated the side of her face, “This is a 6—“
“Speed manual transmission, V-8 and guessing by how you haven’t changed a single thing but the seatbelts in the car…” She felt the authenticity of the dashboard before looking at Tobin who appeared to be in shock with a sly smile on her face, “You still have the thunderbird with 320 horsepower?”
“That was so hot,” Tobin didn’t even bother holding it back. Christen felt her heart flutter and the heat instantly rising up her neck. Luckily for Christen, the street light behind her lit her face up but not enough for Tobin to see the impact behind those words.
She plugged the address into the GPS and placed it on the dash, leaning back against her leather seats, “So I’m not going to even ask you if you know how to drive this car despite you having a civic who’s door doesn’t work.”
“Doors.” Christen naturally corrected under her breath as she turned the key in the ignition, laughing excitedly when she heard the power of the engine roar back to life, “Me and gramps worked on the car for years, I remember him teaching me how to drive it on the first day it was running. The engine stalled so much that day I couldn’t get out of the neighborhood…” Her laughed disappeared into a smile remembering the thought, “Dear, it’s simple. Engage the clutch before you try and drive!”
Christen’s hand instinctively switched gears and wasn’t like Allie, who sprung the car forward when she got it in the second try. The engine didn’t stall nor did she have trouble getting the car to drive normally the entire drive there. It was only a ten-minute drive from where Tobin picked Christen up, hearing stories of Christen’s interactions with her grandpa, figuring out on her own that the two clearly shared a special bond.
“Well, if I can get the chance I’d love to meet your grandpa someday to compliment him on your driving skills.” Tobin quickly got out the car and jogged over to the driver’s door, opening it for Christen who looked around seeing no restaurant in sight, “I’ll tell you all about that but until… you tell me where we are?”
Tobin felt the nerves start to kick in again remembering that they’re on a time crunch when she saw the sky change colors, “My favorite place in the whole world. Where I could clear my mind and think of…” Christen got out the car with the help of Tobin’s hand, not noticing the way Tobin’s voice dropped and how she completely changed directions of where she was going with that sentence.
“Just, it’s a surprise. No questions.”
They walked two blocks and before rounding a corner, Tobin stopped in front of Christen, “You gotta close your eyes.”
“Will you just tell me what’s going on?”
“If I tell ya… I’d have to kill ya.” Tobin winked and the joke got to Christen, making her laugh for the first time out of all the attempts of cracking jokes to the other girl. The nurse’s heart skipped a beat when she felt the warm hand close in on hers and let herself be lead on by the firefighter with her eyes closed. It felt like it was forever and feeling the small sprays of random water hit her face, she had to ask again, especially with sound of the waves nearby and distant music in the background.
“Seriously, where are we--“
And Christen opened at Tobin’s command, seeing her next to the water and a sky painted with warm colors, jaw dropping slightly. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the view but Tobin could, unable to not look at Christen with the way everything worked to just make her look a thousand times better. She looked beautiful as she stared out into the lake, Tobin at that very moment thinking that the lake wasn’t even the view that she wanted to forever remember.
To, forever etch into her memories and never let them go.
“You know, whenever I felt not at peace with myself, sad… or angry even,” Christen remembered the feelings she got when her grandpa suddenly passed and how she was so mad at the universe for taking him so soon from her. If it wasn’t for Kelley being her crutch, she would’ve quit Soccer and anything that reminded her of him.
“My best friend Kelley introduced me to the world of the blue, teaching me to surf. After that, I would always go surfing in Cali or walk the beach. Something about being near the water, that makes me at peace with myself and… happy.”
Christen caught Tobin looking but the firefighter didn’t bother to hide the fact that she was looking at her, smiling at her before turning to look at the lake as she leaned against the metal railing, “So how’d you come about finding this spot?”
“I know the couple that own this place…”
“Ohhh so this is the spot Tobin Heath takes all her girls out for dinner?” Christen winked at Tobin who was caught off guard at the question, “Actually noooo, I’ve never taken anyone out here.”
Tobin frowned at herself, “Well. No.”
It was a big, fat lie. This place was discovered by Allie, taking her to a spot that not many people of Chicago knew about. It was their spot where they’d go and dance the night away after a long day of work every weekend.
Their escape from reality.
“Ahhh there it is!” Christen laughed before shoulder checking Tobin, “It’s okay, I get it. It’s a beautiful view. Why not?”
“Why not.” Tobin lied after Christen looking towards the small restaurant by the water, “Let’s go inside?”
They walked inside and there was an old, Spanish lady dressed in white pants with a blue shirt waiting at the front, “Holaaa, To-ben!!” She looked surprised to see Christen so close to Tobin, looking at her with a gentle smile, “And who is this, uh… Hermosa Chica que trajiste?”
“Isabel, por favor, let’s not freak my date out eh?”
Christen smiled back at her, understanding how she called her beautiful, “Gracias, Me llamo Christen. I’m not the beautiful one, I assure you.”
Tobin smirked, placing her hand at the small of Christen’s back, “Aww buttering me up, are we?” The small lady frowned at Tobin but Christen was practically used to it by now, “I was talking to you Isabel.”
Isabel thanked her in Spanish, leading the two to a table in the corner and putting them right next to the large glass doors that lead out to the dance floor with Latin music playing in the background. The restaurant had a full on Spanish feel to it, sombreros and pictures of the past everywhere; small but homey and a place Christen has never been to before.
“I’ve lived here for almost seven years and I have never heard of this place. How come?” Tobin knew what she was going to order, not bothering to look at the menu again. She tried practically everything there so all she did was look at the girl at the other end of the table ordering, unable to take her eyes off her.
She couldn’t help but notice the small frown Christen forms when she’s thinking, eyebrows creasing as she bit the edge of her bottom lip reading through the menu.
“See what happens when you go out with me? First time for everything, bella dama.”
She looked up at Tobin with a questioning look of expression on her face, “You do not get to call me that now.” Tobin leaned forward, aware of the small extent to which her cleavage was revealed with buttons she purposely left undone, watching Christen’s eyes struggle to keep contact with the pair of eyes that were full of mischief.
She felt Tobin’s hand creep over hers—neither feeling the want to pull back her hand but the desire to feel some sort of contact with the girl infront of her. And the music wasn’t helping either, songs known to be slow tempo for Bachata.
“You know you like it when I call you that.” She said it in a challenging tone, low with a troublesome smile, pulling back once she said it. Christen felt her heartrate spike when she said it, urging herself to deny it.
“Keep telling yourself that mi amor.”
God, I did not just call her that. Clearly, the Spanish in me is coming out.
She rolled her eyes once she saw Tobin raise her eyebrows up and down, questioning the last two words, taking advantage of the moment.
Ofcourse she’s going to capitalize off of it, “Mi amor, tu me haces…“
“Where are you even going with that…”
“Are you two ready to order or should I give you more time?” Tobin was in the middle of a hand movement ready to say the words she’s learned over the years of coming here, her sly smile turning upside down when both of them interrupted her.
“I’ll order the fish tacos and…”
“Ahhh…” Christen had no time to look at the menu with Tobin teasing her, “I’ll have the same thing and a mojito please.”
She handed the menus to the waitress who looked at Tobin for a moment too long, smiling at her as she took steps back slowly. Tobin was smiling back at her, turning to look at Christen after the encounter who had her head tilted to the side with a closed smile, “Excuse me while I go get the girls number for you?”
“Jealous, are we?”
“Please.” Christen scoffed shaking her head, crossing her arms over her chest, “I’m totally not jealous.”
“It’s okay! Nothing to be ashamed of—you sitting with a girl, I meannn look at me, who gets hit on and you’re clearly attracted to her…” Tobin exaggerated her shrug by holding it at the top with Christen’s lips slightly parted and her eyes narrow.
“I know.” Tobin says with a wink, causing Christen to roll her eyes and try to spark up a conversation that’s not about her jealousy. The food came maybe twenty minutes later, “So when can I meet your grandpa so we can compare rides?”
Christen stirred the thin straw around in her drink slowly staring at it, “Unfortunately you’re eleven years too late. Gramps passed away just…in his sleep. Even though he was healthy. Hell,” Christen laughed taking a sip of her drink before leaning back look at Tobin with a confused smile, “He’d be the one screaming in every one of my games Freshman year… trying to coach the team! I could always hear him despite the other people screaming, and oh god don’t even get me started with how he gets when I get intentionally fouled.”
“Sounds like I’d do just about, the same thing. Seems as though you two were close?”
“Ahhh, he was my best friend. I’ll never understand how he could just, die…” Christen’s smile fell flat and she waved it off, “Enough with that.”
“Sometimes…” Tobin looked away itching just above her eyebrow thinking that saying what she wants to say is going to open her up to a world of questions. But no amount of questions will ever be enough to not want to help Christen.
Like, it was innate.
“Things happen that none of us will ever understand… It’s how we live up and honor their memory, that’s what matters.”
Christen could see the pain that was in her eyes when Tobin looked back towards her; the words were clearly spoken from the heart. This was also the first-time Tobin actually opens up to her or rather, anyone.
But she was able to quickly dodge the incoming swarm of questions from Christen, asking more questions from the girl she was so interested in. Tobin learned more than she had anticipated with Christen being so open, learning that she has two sisters – one living here and the other back in California -- and two dogs with that cat.
One of her sisters was a lawyer while the other one took the same path as Christen, playing at the school where her sister reigned. After Tobin avoiding the talk of family, Christen decided that it was best if she didn’t push any further. It was clear that Tobin was not used to letting people in or rather, disclosing any information aside from the fact that she used to play Soccer too at UNC.
“Wait wait wait… What? Ohhh my god!” Christen threw her hands up, knocking down two of the empty shot glasses that were in front of her once she realized how they crossed paths in the championship, “YOU were the one that flopped that got Kelley’s red card!!!”
Tobin rolled her eyes while eating the last bite of her last fish taco, “I did not flop.”
“Yes, and that’s the only reason why you guys won.”
It got a reaction out of her, choking on the bite she took, drinking water right after with a bewildered look in her eyes, “Are you freaking serious?!”
“Yes, it was also behind the line so you getting that PK was complete bullshit.” They were getting louder, arguing at the last play of the game 8 years ago in the 92nd minute. In the end, Tobin gave up.
“I won fair and square.”
“Yeaaah, whatever. What happened anyways with you and Soccer, you were so good?” A song came on and it made many people get up, including Tobin. She held her hand out and Christen looked at it then back at Tobin, “I got really good with Bachata. So, I quit.”
Christen was silent for a solid five seconds before throwing her head back laughing, pointing her finger at the dance floor as she continued to laugh looking up at Tobin, “Gringa can dance to Bachata?”
“You’d be surprised at what this Gringa could do…” Tobin quipped, taking the last shot knowing that Christen was watching her. She took the last piece of the lime she salted and sucked the juices right out of it, feeling the eyes drift towards her lips. Tobin licked her lips in confidence tasting the remnants of the lime only to elicit that response she has always seen within the girl—but this time, Christen bit her lower lip. Letting go, ever so slowly.
It was Tobin who couldn’t handle it, her mind immediately drifting to the thought of running her expert tongue along the bottom lip of hers, biting it the way Christen was tentatively.
But, it wasn’t to do it on purpose.
Alcohol was flowing through her body but trouble was coursing through her veins and mind. The two didn’t mix well together, heightening how much she desired to just kiss those lips by the end of the night.
She held out her hand, “Quieres bailar conmigo? Or are you scared?”
Never back down from a challenge. Especially, when it’s Odio by Romeo Santos...
Christen was surprised to hear the fluent Spanish flow right out of Tobin’s mouth, finding her ten times sexier than she already has these past few hours. She tried so hard to refuse the offer, knowing the type of way people typically dance to this song…
With Bachata, it was more than dancing. As Kelly would say, it was like having sex on the dance floor. But for Christen, it was not like that. She knew the culture and knew that the intimate dance wasn’t just a dance but a way to show how one felt for the other.
“You have no idea what you got yourself into…”
Christen took her hand, already feeling the jolt of electricity travel right up her arm and to her heart just from the strong yet soft touch of Tobin’s hand. Oh she’s in for a treat, Christen thought, realizing how Tobin’s hand found her hip to pull her in closer whispering close against her ear, “And you have no idea what you do to me Christen Press.”
Yes, Tobin may be drunk. Okay, maybe a little tipsy. But those words struck home for Christen, whether Tobin was drunk or not. Christen however, may or may not… well definitely, have gotten forty times more competitive with what she just said.
But what’s wrong with having a little fun? (insert Purple devil emoji here because that's pretty much Christen at this point)
She pulled away to twirl Christen around only for Christen to take this opportunity of letting go, raising her arms over her head, slowly moving her hips to the song’s tempo as she let her hair slowly fell back down. Tobin watched intently, seeing the toned, tan stomach in action as she danced for Tobin with disregard of who was watching.
But she wanted to also make it hard on Tobin, thinking of anything that would make Tobin squirm. Christen thought of what Kelley would do, the master of making people uncomfortable in any given situation.
How would Kelley dance to this song?
And so, the dance went a complete one hundred and eighty degree unexpected-super-tragic turn, Christen grinning as she started dancing wildly. Tobin was completely shocked and was truly confused, “Aren’t you supposed to make me look good?”
She yelled it over the music with Christen still laughing, realizing that Christen was really trying to test her.
“Ohhhh, am I really?” She yelled back, swaying her arms from side to side with this grin so huge, it could be seen miles away. Tobin put her arms out in disbelief, just as I was getting into it.
“Clearly, that’s the way it works, doesn’t it?” She pointed at whatever Christen was doing with the same shocked face, “That, that whatever you’re doing is not working. No, nope.”
And then that is when Christen smiled disappeared, “Oh it’s not?”
Tobin shook her head left and right while Christen walked towards her smiling, “Embarassed?”
“Just a little.”
“Okay… Let me make you look good.”
Christen took advantage of this moment, turning around once she got to Tobin and grind slowly against Tobin, “So far… so good.”
Christen turned around smirking, wanting to be more than just good, testing her limits by stepping in between Tobin’s to close off the remaining distance between the two, seeing if Tobin falters.
Ofcourse she didn’t, understanding the way one is supposed to dance to this song a lot better than Barb, pushing forward to where their chests were against each other twirling around in the same spot of the almost empty dance floor. Feeling, how Christen’s hand was entangled in her hair at the base of her neck. And at the same time, feeling how Christen swayed her hips with Tobin's leg in between her thighs, pulling off every trick in the book moving with the beat of the song perfectly.
She wanted Tobin to crave whatever she was craving inside to become unbearable. She moved her hips to the song slowly with Tobin following her movements and keeping close while hand in hand, her hot breath trickling on Christen’s neck from how close she was. She felt the heat radiate off Christen’s body, being one with her in every move.
And it killed Tobin in the inside, not realizing that they are now the only one’s dancing to the song in the night. They had one another, forgetting the world that surrounded them and only feeling each other’s rhythm.
Truly, getting to know one another.
How they moved together.
How they felt, against each other.
About each other.
Christen was too into the moment of brief eye contact between the two to feel the hand slide down past her hips and onto her thigh, pulling it closer into her side as Tobin leaned down slowly.
Christen followed her movement because she had no other choice, not breaking the eye contact first as Tobin for the first time, took the lead. She trusted Tobin to not drop her, feeling a confident hand creep down her back and find its place just above her waistline. She closed her eyes when she felt Tobin’s lips ghost against her own, past her chin and down the base of her neck, feeling the desire grow uncontrollably larger as every second ticked when her lips also purposely grazed against her chest.
The song was nearly done but the two were not quite finished with the dance that was in the flames of one another's passion.
Her firm hand that gripped Christen’s thigh was still raised against Tobin’s hip after Tobin brought Christen up from the dip. Her heart was racing, feeling an out of body experience when she danced with Tobin, something she has never experienced before of her times dating women. She could feel the heart of her dancing partner against her chest as she held on tightly, her lips only inches away from Tobin’s, eyes only on the one thing her minds been imploring her to capture all night long.
She could see Tobin hesitate when she looked down, her eyes breaking contact to look down at Christen’s lips with her heart racing but breathing under control.
The next words Tobin whispered didn’t surprise either one of them.
“I really want to kiss you right now.”
“And what’s stopping you?” Christen instantly whispered back, looking into the serene eyes that were right back. Tobin brought her hand up to cradle Christen’s neck with the other resting on her hip, "Good question. Absolutely nothing..." Christen watched the soft lips edge closer and closer, closing her eyes knowing that it was any second now that she would get what she has wanted.
“AMAAAZING!” Both their eyes shot open when she heard the clapping of multiple people around the dance floor, unaware that they were being watched the entire time. Christen felt her stomach take serious tumbles, “I wasn’t--“
“Do you want to go someplace quiet?”
“To-ben! Stay, I’ll bring out dessert!”
And they ended up staying for dessert, all four of them laughing at all the stories they told stories about each other. In the end, they separated to close the restaurant together; while Christen helped with Isabel, Tobin was stacking up the chairs with Isabel’s husband.
“You two were really feeling the song-haaauh?” Isabel laughed as she washed the small glasses they used for Cortados with Christen who dried, suddenly feeling shy at the words.
“It’s okay, young me and Fredrico were better though.”
Christen laughed with the kind, small lady who was able to manage making jokes through her thick accent at the most inopportune times, lightening up the mood. She realized then and there, that maybe she could dig up some dirt on the girl she danced with for what seemed to have been hours but only minutes.
“So how long have you known Tobin?”
“Tres años, I knew her best friend for longer—ah, Allie. Since she was in highschool.”
Her face suddenly dropped at the name, a faint smile growing, now washing the dishes at a slower pace. Christen’s been around long enough to know that a smile like that was a smile of grief. Something, she has seen many parents do with their children who don’t have much time left. She stayed quiet, not wanting to get into Tobin’s business or make the lady remember something that she worked so hard to get past.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Tobin this happy,” Isabel wiped her hands with the dry cloth and looked at Christen, “Ever since Allie… Died, she’s been coming alone for almost a year and a half. I’ve never seen her bring anyone here. It should tell you something seniorita.” She gave Christen’s hand a reassuring squeeze, “Eres una persona muy especial, Christen.”
The words hit home, yet again. She remembered Tobin agreeing with her when she tried to see if this was the place she would bring girls. Christen smiled at the lady who thought she messed up, “Lo siento did, I say something wrong?”
She didn’t know whether to feel angry or sad, or confused. If she was a special person like Isabel said, why would the one girl she lets in for the first time in years hide her true identity from Christen. It was clear to Christen that there was something eating away at Tobin in the past involving Allie’s death. It hit Christen after-the-fact that Tobin never once mentions her past or Allie. That, she’s still a complete mystery to Christen but she was an open book for Tobin. She didn’t know how to help Tobin if she didn’t open up to her.
The self-inclination to help others has always been in her nature from the start.
But what if someone didn’t want her help?
“No, no. It’s okay, I just… I gotta go. It was a pleasure, thank you for having us Isabel.” Christen said, smiling weakly at her after squeezing Isabel's hand to reassure her that she said nothing wrong.
She walked up to Tobin who was laughing with Isabel’s husband, apologizing to him for having to get Tobin so they could leave, blaming it on work. The both of them walked back to the car but not hand in hand, not talking like they were on the way to Isabel’s spot. Both of them got in the car and the drive was shorter with Tobin behind the wheel, but the silence between the two was eating at her soul. One minute, the both are laughing with the owners and then in the next, there’s an awkward silence the whole way back.
Something was up.
And she didn’t want to let Christen leave until she figured out what was up.
Isabel must have said something.
“Tobin, I really did have a great time tonight.” Christen fidgeted with her hands while she said the words, sparking the impatience in Tobin because she wasn’t used to this.
“What’d Isabel tell you?”
Christen looked up at her, “She told me you’ve never brought a girl since… Since Allie died.”
“And what does that have to do with you?” Tobin said coldly, looking away from the eyes that blinked twice after she said the words.
“It has everything to do with me,” Christen replied quietly, making Tobin look back at her with how soft she said it. Christen looked at her and faintly smiled, “You lied Tobin. I don’t want to know the person that your friends know, that you think is who you are…”
Her arm extended out to brush aside the loose strands of hair that fell on Tobin’s face, putting her finger to Tobin’s chest soon after, “I want to know the person that is in there. The real you.”
Tobin looked away.
Christen did too after waiting for a response that was not likely not coming. She sighed as she opened the door and got out, peeking back down at Tobin who looked straight ahead with her hand still at the clutch and her wrist resting on the wheel of her drive.
“You know where I’ll be. Goodnight, Tobin.”
Christen waited for a response but it didn’t come, again. She closed the door and walked up to the front door, wanting to look back at Tobin but forced herself to close her eyes. Praying, that maybe Tobin will say something.
That maybe Tobin will say anything.
She's not, just go inside Chris.
She forced herself to react by digging for the keys inside her clutch and she opened the door, feeling the hope drain out once she stepped into her house. Until, she heard a different door open.
Eeeeek another cliffhanger!!
Hermosa Chica que trajiste - who is this......beautiful girl you brought
Eres una persona muy especial - you are a special person
bella dama - beautiful lady
tu me haces - you make me...
Chapter 5: Barriers
“Okay?” Christen turned around to see Tobin leveraging herself between her car door with one foot on the edge of her car, “As in okay, can’t guarantee you’ll like what you see though.”
Christen rolled her eyes and opened her door while still looking at Tobin, “I find a hard time believing that. Have a good night Tobin.”
Tobin’s heart fluttered at the words, watching Christen’s figure disappear into her home.
“You’re telling me you did ALL that dancing, for nothing?” Emily shoved popcorn in her mouth paying no mind to the show that was playing on Tobin’s TV, “All that built up, sexual tension kinda went to crappola.” Tobin took a sip of her beer and threw her head back looking at her ceiling, remembering how Christen lightly pressed her finger to Tobin’s chest, recalling the words very slowly.
Three nights ago, she finally got to go on a date she never expected herself to be on. The self-deprecation that Tobin riddled herself in was no longer weighing her mind. Her dreams were of being with Christen and not the night that weighed down on Tobin’s sub-conscious.
The feeling of guilt was no longer there.
Is it okay?
“It’s not just about sex, Em.”
“Since when has it been not just about sex with you?” Emily scoffed with her eyes still glued on the TV.
Ever since that damn cat got stuck, Tobin thought but replied with asking her to watch the show. She remembered the feeling she got when she felt Christen’s chest rise and fall against her own. She couldn’t forget that sweet scent even if she tried;
Tobin grabbed a hand “Watch the damn show, will ya?”
“By the way, Chief wants to kill you.” The paramedic said it in a gleeful tone, used to how the chief is with Tobin at this point. Tobin eyebrows knit together in confusion, “What now…”
“… So this kind of behavior will NOT be tolerated in my house! Tobin if you don’t go to the next meeting on time or leaving too early, I will strip you of your rank.” Tobin stood there quietly while her chief finished chewing her head off.
“I had the flu,” Tobin lied smoothly, leaning against the back end of the wall. “You should just let me back on the force, I can go to therapy at the same time-e-e, you have my word chief.”
“You’re not taking this seriously.”
“Am too!” She exclaimed.
Her superior shook his head as he sat down in his chair, scooting himself closer to his mahogany desk with a freshly polished finish. He leaned his weight forward bringing his two hands together and looked up at Tobin who straightened her back, “Give me one good reason why I should do this.”
“My squad…they need me.”
“You need help.”
“And my squad needs me.” Tobin repeated louder this time, raising her head higher after she gritted the words through her teeth.
“IS that really, the case here?” He questioned her, “Or is it you who needs the job?”
Tobin’s body instantly lit up with anger from the accusatory claim, “What-No. I need to be there for my firemen. They need someone they could rely on. Instead, he has Ali scrubbing the floor just because it’s her first year and Ash is cooking when it’s her fourth year on the job? He needs to go.”
“Are you saying he’s sexist because if that’s what you’re implying--“
“I’m saying I know them chief.” Tobin said cutting off her chief, pausing for a moment before continuing, “I know enough to have Ashlyn checking the trucks because of her 3 tours serving as a mechanical engineer if I’m not there, obviously, and Ali on the food because she makes incredible gumbo. I know my squad.”
She was in her uniform to plead her case, hoping that he would let her take on the next shift. Tobin looked up when she heard the voice over the speakers of the firehouse telling them that her truck is needed. She looked back at him with pleading eyes, “Please chief, don’t make me say it...”
Tobin saw him about to reject her again and her heart leapt as fast as the words left her mouth, “Fine, I need this just as much as they need me. If not, more.”
Firefighting is afterall, a part of her. But the reasons why she wanted to get back on the truck were not of that reason. The only way for Tobin to function is to focus on her career and nothing else. To bury the pain and the desperation down by her work.
He breathed out his answer muttering, “I have a bad feeling about this.” He got up again to respond to the call with them, “Go. Right after that call, you’re going to therapy.”
Tobin winked at her chief, pointing at him with both fingers and smiled happily, “You got it.” She felt the life drift back into her body, turning on her heels to walk out the door towards the firetruck. Tobin reached the truck with her jacket in her arms, stepping out of her shoes next to temporary lieutenant who was already in his uniform.
“What are you doing?” He said, a confused smile emerging from his anxious face.
“I can take it from here.”
Everyone started cheering in the truck, clapping excitingly while their lieutenant put her foot down. She stepped around him to open the door to where she always sits, right next to the driver. She pulled herself up and before getting in the truck, she turned back around to look at the man who was still frozen in the same spot.
“You should probably go talk to the chief.”
“Chief, we need to reinforce that slab or it’s going to crush that person in the van!” Tobin rushed around the large concrete that fell down onto the van in which lost control. It ended up hitting an area of a garage that was temporarily supporting the structure of a part of the garage, causing that structure to fold down onto the car. She ran back around and repeated her words again.
“You’re right, I need every hand to work on supporting that concrete now!”
Tobin watched anxiously as her firefighters put thick wooden planks around the van itself. It wasn’t enough, watching the unstable concrete fall again.
This time, deeper into the middle of the van, hearing the metal bend and in the midst of it all, was the screams of the man inside.
Tobin’s mind raced as she ran towards the back of the van, “There’s no time!”
“TOBIN, get back here!”
Ofcourse, she didn’t listen.
Tobin pried open the doors of the van with her crowbar, seeing how the car was almost crushing the man who was now, crying.
“P-Please help, help me out of here!!” He moved again and the slab pushed further down the van, causing Tobin to surge forward.
She doesn’t know how she gets herself in these situations. Adrenaline packing, down to the last breath type of moments. She fucking lived for this, and it did bring pain.
It did bring haunting memories.
But at the end of any type of rescue, it brought joy.
“Stay calm!” She yelled, hearing the pounding of her heart pierce through her eardrums. She grabbed the man’s collars and used all her force to pull him out of the seat, not giving a damn if one foot or the other is stuck as she dragged him out the van.
All she knew was that she was not going to die by a slab of concrete.
Like hell, was she going to let that happen.
There were days that Christen’s job broke her down and days that reminded her of why she chose this job. Christen stood next to the small girl who slept peacefully, recording her vitals on the chart for the doctor.
Today was a good day, Christen thought smiling. She looked over at the mother who laid next to her daughter’s hand, holding it tightly though she was still asleep. The best part to caring for the children that come out from these successful surgeries is being able to witness to joy that comes to the parent when they hear the good news.
Almost always, the bad outweighs the good moments in these situations.
So, moments like these, Christen likes to just soak in the idea that they could beat cancer.
The worst part about it is Christen’s limitations as a registered nurse. She could assist the physician in providing the treatment to the patients but she couldn’t change their outcome. God, how much it pained Christen to see the kid’s health depreciate no matter how much she monitored or took care of them. It’s the problem with chemo. With Chemo, the way to get rid of cancer is through quite literally, putting Chemicals into your body.
Attacking your own body.
To get rid of the thing attacking your body.
It’s a fight to the death.
Who gives out first?
Christen knew she was lucky with Tobin. She remembered how she exposed herself to radiation only to stop the growth of leukemia. She had to break down her own body to destroy the bad bone marrow for the good bone marrow to allow the stem cells to rebuild her from the ground up.
She was lucky.
Why aren’t these kids lucky?
Why do I do this.
She felt the guilt rush back into her when the question popped into her head, urging her to put the chart back at the end of the bed quietly, tip toeing out to walk towards the next room to check the last room before she was done with her shift. She breathed in slowly, knocking on the door gently prior to opening the large door.
“Ms. Christen!” She propped the door with her foot peeking in to see a girl happily smiling at her from the bed. This is why you do it, christen thought, kicking down the small lever to keep the door open.
“Hey, champ!” The girl’s mom was sitting in the chair at her side, staring blankly into space. This girl’s smile was as radiant as ever, despite receiving the news that her cancer spread to the third stage. “How are we doing?”
The girl who has now lost her hair sighed dramatically, “Oh nothing, just waiting.”
“For?” Why ask when you know the answer.
Christen chose not to reply as she finished marking up her charts while checking her vitals, seeing the mother wipe a tear that fell down without her will in her peripheral vision. She put the chart down, sanitizing her arms and hands before sighing the same way the child did, jumping onto the bed next to the girl.
“And what are we gonna do until that day comes, Claire?”
“Ms. Chriiiisten.” The child whined and Christen insisted with a light squeeze on the small girl’s shoulder.
“I promise I will fight and beat this cancer and make you proud by nutmegging you again.”
Christen rolled her eyes, “Please, you didn’t nutmeg me.” She lied, remembering how she was playing in the courtyard of the hospital. She actually did nutmeg her, “Fine. But so long as you don’t mention it to anyone else. You’re going to have to work for it!”
“Pshhh, as if I would need to.”
Christen shoulder checked the girl who chuckled, bumping Christen back with her shoulder. Meanwhile, the both of them did not anticipate an audience at the doorway.
“So, you nutmegged Christen, huh?”
No… It was crazy. How, Christen felt her heartbeat quicken, missing a few beats of its own, at the sound of Tobin’s voice.
“O-o-o-oh I sureee--“ Christen grinned covering Claire’s mouth with her sterile hand over the girl’s giggling mouth finishing the girls sentence for her, “…Did not.”
“Did too!” She said, words coming out muffled against Christen’s hand. She heard Tobin’s soft laugh, quirking her eyebrows up at the girl, silently mouthing the words never mention this again or no icecream.
She released her hand slowly, testing her limits.
And not even five seconds later after turning to look at Tobin with a grin so wide, her eyes squinted, she heard the girl yelp out the words she wished she never said.
“I nutmegged a soccer star!”
“Yep, you got nutmegged by a kid.”
“She’s faster than you think, ya know?” She turned back to Claire but Claire beat her to the words, “THE Tobin?”
Christen felt the blush rise up, mentally forcing it back down with her eyes closed, “You know you’re not whispering right?”
She could feel Tobin’s smirk from where she was sitting next to the girl. Christen felt the urge to kiss her forehead, but she knew she was cutting it too close by sitting next to her or better yet, covering her mouth.
“I’ll see you tomorrow Champ. Ms. Nelson, have a wonderful night. Please let the nurse on call know if you have any questions!” She gave her mother a comforting smile which was not returned by the mother but the child, who replied back, “You too Ms. Christen!”
Tobin watched curiously when Christen and Claire did some type of handshake, blowing up the fist bump at the end while the both of them laughed. The interaction between the two was so sincere, it made Tobin forget about the second accident she handled that involved three cars, two of which were totaled.
Three, in critical care.
While, the two drunk college boys had nothing but a few scratches on them.
“So, you’ve been--“
“Doooo not say it.” Christen singsonged the words knowing that Tobin would eventually question what Claire meant by what she said. She heard Tobin’s infectious laugh from behind her when she kicked up the lever, letting the door close from behind her. Christen smiled and gave a small kiss on Tobin’s cheek, stopping Tobin’s laughter from continuing any further.
“You didn’t jump out of another two story window now, did ya?”
“Not today, I didn’t!” Tobin grinned, feeling Christen’s arm brush against her own as they walked side by side.
“I hope never again, so what brings you by?”
Tobin groaned, “So quick to get rid of me?!”
“Are you kidding?! If I could have you all to myself, I would.” Christen blurted out, quickly running her hand through her hair once she realized there were no take backs. Speaking but never actually thinking before doing so has always been a problem with Christen.
“Oh, really?” Tobin challenged, “In that case, wanna watch a movie tonight at my place? I can whip up something quick for us to eat or if not-go get coffee and if-not--” Christen stopped next to the door and held out a finger, “Hold that thought.”
She stepped into the lockerroom that she reached fairly quickly, thanking god that Stephanie was in there getting dressed to start her night shift. Because if she wasn’t there, Christen would’ve paced back and forth running through every scenario just like she did going into the firehouse to apologize.
“Steph, there’s this beautiful girl out there waiting for me to either go back to her place to watch a movie.”
“Soooo…” Stephanie gave her a puzzling look, “What’s stopping you from doing so?”
Christen yelped and gave her a quick hug, what is stopping me?
Just a movie.
Just stay awake for the entire movie, just this once.
“Always knowing what to say Steph.”
All she needed was one, final push.
“I literally don’t know how that helped…” Christen quickly left the room to find Tobin twirling around at the sound of the door swinging open.
“So? What do you say?”
“My place.” Tobin couldn’t believe that she actually said yes, pointing at herself with her eyebrows raised.
“That’s what I just said.” Christen said, a wink following shortly after.
After a slight debate in which turned to an argument for who would pay while walking the short drive from the hospital to Tobin’s residence, they ordered the takeout on Christen’s behalf. She was surprised to see how neat Tobin’s apartment was when she walked in, finding the kitchen to her left that opened up to the living room.
“That’s fine, thank you.” She said, so much for NO drinking, ignoring the lingering voice in the back of her mind, as she heard the lid pop off moments later, prompting her to look around at the open space, “Beautiful home.”
“Ehhh, it’s alright.” She walked towards Christen with a slight smirk offering her the drink once she reached the nurse, “Surprised you came over.”
Christen rolled her eyes and took the drink out of her hand, fingers grazing momentarily. Tobin Christen carefully and how she started chewing on her lower lip, eyes unable to resist the urge to watch, seeing how even the slightest touch has Christen unraveled.
Only, because it had the same effect on her.
“I’m glad I did.” Christen turned around quickly and walked towards the black leather couch that lined the back wall, “So.”
Make conversation. Do anything, just say something.
That’s all you can say?
Christen’s mind furiously blanked from how her nerves started firing away, making her think unclearly. All she did was sit down and look up at Tobin who was smiling while leaning against the wall, repeating the same word but prolonged, that Christen managed out. Being alone in her apartment, well it’s safe to say that it has Christen shook. She hasn’t been in anyone’s apartment in over years, let alone have a late dinner with someone she couldn’t get her mind to stop thinking about.
There was a small flame waiting to ignite in Christen’s soul, but she was holding back. Holding back on the idea of moving too fast.
It’s. Just. A. Movie.
Her mind kept stirring, stirring, stirring at all the possibilities that could arise out of this stick situation she has herself in. All she needed was one look from Tobin that could make her spontaneously combust.
All she needed was just to get a taste of her lips.
Mind. Out. The. Gutter.
“Hmm?” Christen she replied instantly after taking down a large portion of the beer, not realizing how Tobin sat down right next to her. Not realizing how the warm hand that rested on her thigh, squeezing lightly to get her out of whatever she was in.
She fell into the darkness of her trance and it haunted her.
She looked at the hand like it was burning right through the soft fabric of her scrubs. It’s touch travelled right up her heart like a fire following a trail of gasoline. Christen cleared her throat and drank another large portion of the Corona.
“You just, fell off right there.” Tobin pulled back her hand, letting out a chuckle as she took a swig of her drink. Christen watched the small bob go up and down when Tobin took that gulp down, feeling selfish for the desire to just let go of all her barriers.
Years ago, Christen created a rule. No sex on the first dates. And it was completely justified, knowing how some girls could be, she safeguarded her own heart by locking away the idea of ever having sex on the first dates.
If it weren’t for her talk with the owner’s wife of the restaurant a few nights go, she would’ve broken that rule. If it weren’t for the fact that that talk that clearly wiped away all of the alcohol that was in her system, all the bad intentions, she would’ve invited Tobin in.
Because if they kissed on that dance floor, those barriers would’ve came crashing down.
It’s way too soon for Christen to be feeling the way she does.
She doesn’t know if it was how Tobin volunteered with ease to help her out with beating Leukemia, for now.
Or if it was the mightiest touch of Tobin’s strong hands.
Or if it was the friction between the two that they experienced during that night of dancing.
Or, if it was how Tobin was a puzzle that she couldn’t solve.
That, she needed to solve.
Maybe, all of the above.
“Yeah, I don’t know.” She looked away from those fiery eyes that stared back at her and luckily, heard the buzz of the person who waited downstairs for that takeout. Tobin jumped up, “I’m going to go get that, one second.”
Once she heard that door click shut, she jumped up, rushing towards the door of the bathroom. She opened the wrong door, opening the light to a room with five boxes neatly stacked on top of each other with a bedframe that had no mattress.
Was what was written on the top of the first box.
Christen invaded her privacy and she knew it, acting fast by shutting the door behind her with her eyes closed. She went to the next door, thankfully opening up to a restroom.
“Get it TOGETHER!” She pointed at the mirror with her gameface on. She took down her messy bun and let her hair loose, leaning back to see if the coast was still clear. She ruffled her straightened, now wavy hair around and tended to her scrubs, grunting in disapproval with how unattractive she looked at the moment. Christen washed her face with water and looked back in the mirror, shaking her head laughing at how ridiculous she’s being.
“Overreacting, as always. You’re smart, you’re beautiful, JESUS-did you even shave…” Christen was relieved to feel the soft skin and went back to her talk, “Just don’t--” Drink more than you need to.
She stopped talking to her reflection in the mirror once she heard the door click open and then she made her way out the restroom. She saw Tobin come in with the food stacked up to her chin, holding it in place as she closed the door with her heel.
I could get used to this.
“Yessss!” She rubbed her hands excitedly in anticipation to the food, “I’m so hungry!”
Tobin did a double take when she put the food down on the table, “Ahhh, how could you make it look so easy.”
Christen laughed opening up the plastic container of hot and sour soup, “Make what look so easy?”
“Being so… beautiful.”
Fuck, keep it together. Christen was taken aback, almost dropping the spoon inside the container filled with hot soup, looking at the girl who was too close, holding her stare before looking away at the food.
Just, lean in a little closer.
Christen’s hunger switched from the food towards the firefighter’s lips and so did her eyes, her fingers itching to reach for Tobin’s hand, resisting.
“So, what’d you get?”
And she could’ve sworn she saw a hint of disappoint glimmer off of Tobin’s face.
“What do you want to know?”
“Tell me about Allie.” Christen implored, sliding into the seat next to Tobin’s and grabbing the first, small box in front of her.
“Ahhh…” Tobin leaned back against the high wooden chair sipping on her beer, “It all started back in…”
’09: Chicago Police & Firefighter Training Academy
“23…24…28…42…50.” Allie plummeted to the floor after counting the number of push-ups she did, while Tobin kept going on and on as ordered to. Allie frowned looking at the girl next to her who had a lean build, perfectly performing her push-ups with ease.
“Show off…” She muttered, rolling her eyes watching her awfully rude roommate of hers. They were bunk mates who have been bunk mates for a week now and neither of them spoke to each other. All she got from Tobin was a good morning before walking to the restroom, showering, getting dressed, and a goodbye.
Allie’s shoulders popped up from fear of the masculine voice behind her, “Yes, coach?”
“I am NOT your coach! Get your ass down and do the next 27 push-ups, NOW!”
Allie groaned in disapproval before getting back in formation to do her next push-ups, “24…28…32…50!”
And she plummeted down again and this time, rolling on her to look up at the frowning, young man.
“Okay, that’s it. My office.”
Allie snorted while she laughed at the commanding officer while Tobin watched quietly at how… strange, Allie was acting. She was getting in trouble and was still happy?
“You probably should take this more serious.” Tobin said with a frown, letting her strong attitude about work ethic take over her soul. Allie held her hand out in front of her, “Well it’s so very nice to meet you too, I’m Allie!”
Allie started backing away before Tobin was able to shake her hand, “Tobin Heath.”
She turned around to walk forward, calling out from behind her shoulder to her roommate.
“Do me a favor and…”
“…get that stick out your ass.” Tobin mimicked exactly what Allie said laughing, “As if I did! I just wanted to get done with it as fast as possible!”
Christen laughed hard at how her voice dropped and smile disappeared when she copied her late best friend, “I’m pretty sure she was right.”
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” Tobin’s eyes widened at the appalling statement, “You’re the one to talk!”
“Anywaysss,” Christen threw a chopstick at her and smiled, “What happened after?”
“…Harry.” Allie groaned shutting the door behind her quietly after realizing that she may have woken up Tobin. She didn’t care, quietly tip toeing towards her bunkmate to sit at the end of her bed, nudging her leg twice.
“Who’s Harrrry.” Tobin whined, pulling the blanket over her head.
“Huh? You’re Harry.”
“I’m Harry?” Tobin said, shooting up her bed, looking through her heavy eyes.
Shit, Allie thought, “No, I’m Harry.”
“I thought your name is... Allie.”
“I lied.” Allie quickly responded.
“I really don’t have time for this.”
Allie grinned, “I need a cuddling sesh.”
Tobin’s back straightened up, “No.”
“Move over, please?” She forced Tobin to the side of the small bed that you would typically find at a dorm.
“No, but she didn’t listen. We ended up talking about her brother, who by the way was the commanding officer, and how he forced her to clean up the entire training facility. This entire time… I thought she was sleeping with him.” Tobin shook her head remembering how that conversation went down, now drinking wine that she pulled out while telling the story.
“God… I miss her.” She quietly whispered out, looking at the glass of wine. Her voice dropped, eyes filling up with this sadness that Christen hasn’t seen before. She reached out and provided some sort of comfort for Tobin, squeezing her hand lightly as Tobin once did with her thigh.
“It’s okay to miss her.”
“I just,” Tobin thought long and hard with what she wanted to say. Whether or not she could brush this aside and continue talking about that memory for a laugh.
Or, let someone in.
Letting someone in, meant talking. Finally, talking to someone who could understand her. Who didn’t look at her like she was some basket case. She remembered what Christen said to her in the car that night they went dancing and knew that, maybe.
Talking out her feelings to the one girl who actually asked, of all therapists that were assigned to her and her family, who Allie was.
“I just, have her things. You know? I have her things, but I can’t bring myself to put them in a storage. I can’t…” Tobin paused, drinking the wine before looking at the painting, avoiding Christen’s sincere eyes.
“I…I don’t know how.” She looked down, feeling that stone come back pressing against her chest, feeling like she couldn’t breathe.
And then Christen said softly, “Let me help you.”
Tobin looked up, seeing a smile following the words. A smile that lit up her entire world with hope.
“But first, I want to know more about Harry.”
Tobin smiled, feeling that stone lift off her chest as fast as it appeared.
They ended up not watching a movie, forgetting the idea by talking through the night about the many memories between Allie and Tobin. Before they knew it, it was around two AM with the both of them wide awake, going through almost a full bottle of wine. Tobin changed into a pair of shorts and an oversized, fire department tshirt and offered a change of clothes for Christen to be comfortable in. Of all things she could have picked out, Tobin purposely picked out a UNC pullover that had “NCAA Champions ‘09”, snickering as she handed her the pullover and a pair of old soccer shorts.
“Yeah, yeah, very funny.” Christen rolled her eyes, placing her third glass of wine on the dark wood of Tobin’s dresser. Tobin hesitated, turning around on her heels and leaned against her doorframe with her arms crossed.
“Aww, chivalry still lives.” Tobin heard, along with the pieces of clothing fall on the floor, smacking her lips after a sip of wine, refusing to let her mind wonder of how that body looks behind her.
Right, near her bed.
“Ah well…” Tobin turned around to see Christen in her clothes, say it say it say it.
“If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have given you the honor of wearing those beautiful colors and be a champion, for once.” She gave the now choking Christen a wink before turning back to walk towards the living room casually.
“Excuse me… while I go vomit and burn this pullover.”
Tobin laughed when she heard Christen’s response, hearing Christen’s footsteps quicken to feel Christen give her a shove from behind.
“Hey!” Tobin spun around to see Christen giggling behind her glass of wine that had maybe a sip left, “Excuse you, indeed. Don’t do it again!”
Tobin shook her head dramatically after staring down the girl who narrowed her eyes in response to Tobin’s “angry” look. She huffed and puffed after she turned around to resume her path towards the couch to watch something about whales. In her defense, she didn’t pick the channel to have going on in the background of their dinner and small talk.
She walked around the couch hearing Christen’s childlike hum grow nearer, predicting what Christen was going to do next. She turned around quickly laughing, “I told you, don’t do it again!” Christen yelped, laughing when Tobin instinctively caught her from the waist to stop her from falling since she put all her tipsy weight into the push.
It was Tobin’s turn now to push the other person, who couldn’t stop laughing, against the armrest of the couch to where the back of her legs hit the back of the armrest. It was what she intended, scooting into the small space between Christen’s legs while Christen still had her head cocked back, laughing away.
Feeling, Christen’s hands settle into the back pockets of her pants, feeling the small hairs of her neck rise against her touch. What she didn’t predict was going to happen was Christen feeling inclined to fall back on the leather couch, making a Waaa-ooops sound like a child right before doing so.
“No no-n-n-no!!” Tobin’s eyes widened as she felt herself get pulled right down, “Christen!” She yelled, joining in on the infectious laughter with the girl who rolled them off the couch and onto the floor, Christen landing right ontop of Tobin.
“Ahhhhha!” Christen playfully sneered. She shifted her position to where she straddled Tobin at her hips, sweeping her long hair over to just one shoulder, seconds later resting both her hands on Tobin’s slightly exposed stomach.
She moved her left arm next to Tobin’s face, leaning her weight onto the forearm to allow her in leaning in close enough to where Tobin could see the grey that rimmed Christen’s alluring eyes.
“Look who needs rescuing now.”
At this moment, Tobin’s senses were overloaded. Her hands felt like they were burning at a higher temperature than all those buildings she ran into combined while against Christen’s bare skin beneath her own sweatshirt.
Her heart itself felt like it was on overdrive.
All she could smell was a mixture of the remnants of Christen’s perfume on her neck and the red wine in her breath.
All she could hear was the breathing of her own and Christen’s rapturous laugh replaying in her head.
All she could see was these, perfectly moist lips that hovered against her own waiting for any sign of approval. These eyes that she could stare into for forever and beyond, that could take her for laps around the universe, were staring back at hers.
All she could feel was the touch of that that was burning a hole right through her stomach.
All she wanted was to taste those drunken lips.
“Every firefighter needs to run into a fire with a plan.” Tobin whispered, her eyes switching from the lips and her eyes, “What’s yours?”
Christen sunk her hips into Tobin’s, who couldn’t handle the friction, feeling the pressure grow with just that one move.
“That’s funny coming from the girl who jumped out of a burning window.” She husked out, inching closer without any hesitation. Inches, that seemed to be so small, yet so trivial. How, it could cause the worlds within Tobin to shatter so easily when the space dissipated down to centimeters.
“Improvising always works.” Tobin croaked, forgetting how to breath, heart thumping loudly against her chest.
Christen smiled, their lips barely grazing each other before she whispered the words softly against Tobin's lips.
“Let’s go with improvising…”
Christen looked into Tobin’s eyes, seeing no reason to turn back now. And that is when their lips connected and every barrier that Christen ever built up came crashing down as expected. Seconds later, parting, only going back in to get a better taste of what she has been missing.
All, weeks long.
Chapter 6: Moving on
It was like. One of those types of moments where you wish it would never end. Where, even though letting the alcohol take over the decision making might not be the best idea, it was still… perfect.
So... fucking… perfect.
This kiss was the type of kiss where that same alcohol gets wiped clean from your system the moment your lips touches the other, making everything feel just… about right. Where you feel the last shred of resistance you fought so hard to keep intact throughout the night let go.
Where you feel like that kiss took you way way back to your first kiss ever where you were gasping for air once you saw her lean in closer… and closer. Where you didn’t know you could feel so many different types of emotions exploding out your chest.
That moment when you finally let your heart take over your mind.
And your body.
Tobin’s lips were hungry but patient, lingering after they kissed once. Realizing where they were that very moment, her eyes shot back up to see Christen’s face maybe an inch away from hers, smiling.
“So?” Christen murmered.
“Shhh,” Tobin lifted herself up off the ground with ease, her hands resting on Christen’s bare, warm thighs, “No talking.”
Tobin leaned in to kiss her once more, not settling for just a “kiss” this time. With one slow and tormenting swipe of Tobin’s tongue against her slightly parted lips, Christen gave into it. She moaned at the marvelous feeling of Tobin’s expert tongue tentatively exploring the new found land.
She tasted the wine off Tobin’s tongue that tasted far better than the wine from the bottle. She felt the rather calloused hands drift higher under the thick sweatshirt that Tobin gave her, feeling them graze up then down the lengths of her sides, leaving goosebumps at their wake.
Christen broke away from the kiss when she felt her own hips rock against Tobin’s without ordering them to, hearing a moan that oh god, she wanted to hear again so badly. So badly, that she wanted to do whatever it took to make it louder.
Oh god, she thought when it finally registered what she had just thought eagerly.
“I think we should…”
Tobin ignored her voice and pulled her back in from the neck for more, capturing Christen’s lower lip, sucking softly pulling away only a little. Enough, to give her room to change the angle of the kiss in that one second of separation. While her hands rested on Christen’s hips, she intensified the next kiss by one strong, languid motion of her tongue. She felt the vibrations of Christen’s moan of approval travel through her mouth, exciting the spark that fried her own circuit.
The interval between each breath slowly shrunk as their tongues clashed on for control. Tobin used her strength to bring Christen down gently to where her back met with the dark hardwood. Their chests were pressed against each other as Tobin’s hands roamed further up Christen’s pullover, stopping at once with the feel of the lacy material underneath.
Her lips left Christen’s to pepper hot kisses along Christen’s jaw that seemed to have been perfectly sculpted from the man above. Christen’s eyes rolled back when she felt her tongue move across her pulsepoint slowly,her lower back arching into Tobin's without her command. Her hand found itself in Tobin’s tussled hair, urging Tobin for more by tilting her head to the side in attempt to giving better access to the girl ontop of her.
She hummed in response, Christen groaning at the feel of the thrumming against her heated skin, “We shoul-ohhh…” Tobin bit down and sucked hard, smiling against Christen’s skin when she heard the next moan and the feel of the girl’s hips pushing up against hers. Tobin improvised when she felt Christen's body react that way, shifting to where one leg was in between Christen’s, grinding up into Christen slowly to further accentuate the pleasure she felt from before.
“Fuck,” Christen panted out in surprise to the action that shook her core, feeling Tobin's grip on her leg tighten as she pulled it in closer to her body. Her heartbeat was kicking out her chest by the feeling of Tobin's hot breath against her neck. She wanted to surrender to her touch, give in to the ever growing pressure between her legs, surrender to the tempting thoughts that clouded her mind and the heat that was building up.
But, not when they were drunk.
“I think we-we, should take things slow.”
She pulled Tobin’s face back into hers after she finished her sentence and kissed her roughly, needing to taste Tobin one more time. The other girl broke away from the kiss grinning, “Yeah, I think we should too.”
Tobin pushed herself off the floor and helped Christen up, who wobbled towards the bedroom thinking Tobin was behind her, but wasn’t.
“Aren’t you coming?”
Tobin waved her off smiling, “Yeah, I’ll catch up. Go to sleep, dork.”
Before she knew it, she heard the unfamiliar sound of someone crashing on her bed. For the first time in so many years, there was someone actually sleeping over at her apartment.
In her bed.
What a change.
Christen jolted up in bed, her hair pointing in four different directions. Shit, shit shit she thought, looking over to her side to see that side of the grey toned bed untouched. Christen was late; she knew she was with the bright, awful lights gleaming through the large window that made her head’s pounding worsen.
“Ugh,” Christen groaned as she fell back on the unbelievably comfy pillow, “So much for morning shifts.”
But, did she really just sleep on the couch of her own apartment? Christen smiled at the thought with her fingers ghosting over her own lips, noting the chivalry the girl displayed even when she was drunk.
“Shit, I’m late.” She remembered, looking around frantically for the scrubs she took off from last night and she found them.
Except, not where she left them.
She tried hard to trace back her steps only to see if she actually folded them or not the night before but she could have sworn that she did not leave them folded on the nightstand. Christen peeked out the room to make sure the coast was clear, finding Tobin in the kitchen near the stove. She smelled the scrubs before she put them on her, and she washed them… stop smiling, god why is she so perfect.
The idea of keeping something from being worn just so that she could keep that smell of Tobin was a first. She decided to grab the pullover that she ripped off in a hurry and hooked it over her arm as she walked towards the kitchen.
Stop smiling, but she couldn’t stop smiling no matter how hard she tried to display some sort of strong front, “Hi!”
Andddd it came out as a squeak.
Well, more like a loud squeak.
Tobin looked over her shoulder after she slid a pancake onto the plate. She was tired of waiting for her to wake up, Christen’s face fell flat when she saw the small stack of pancakes on the counter, “Listen…” Tobin smiled as she started walking towards Christen but the nurse urged herself to keep going with an apologetic expression on her face, “I have to skip out on breakfast. I’m sorry, rain--“
Tobin took two large strides, sliding her hands through Christen’s curly hair, shutting her up with a strong kiss. She closed her eyes and rested her forehead on Christen’s, “Hi, you.”
Christen smiled with her eyes closed, not wanting to let go of this picture perfect moment. Her hands settled just above Tobin's butt, locking them together to keep Tobin in place.
“What was that for?”
“I missed you.” She said with the faintest smile on her lips.
Christen giggled at the very unexpected response that took her by surprise, “I was asleep, silly.”
Tobin let out an exaggerated sigh, “I knowww… I just wish we never had that kiss yesterday.”
“Wait what why not—was it bad, oh god I haven’t done this in a long, long time and—“ Christen felt her own cheeks flush and her neck started feeling like fire but she was cut off abruptly by another kiss.
“You were amazing,” She whispered against her lips, making Christen grin from relief.
“It’s just going to make it a thousand times harder letting you go to work.”
Say something, Chris.
Two seconds that seemed like forty passed by.
God, just say anything at this point.
Tobin backed away slowly with a smirk on her face after seeing that lump in her throat bob up and down but no words came out from her mouth.
“Ready to go?”
Christen’s lips parted slightly, losing her breath while trying to say come back. Fuck it, she thought as she extended her reach for Tobin’s hip, pulling her back in for one more kiss. Except it was longer than just another one of those quick kisses; this one more delicate and soft. One hand on her hip and the other tangled in Tobin’s hair, Christen locked Tobin in place while she explored with her tongue. She didn’t forget about work no, she just had to make sure she left her imprint on the other girl as well.
And it did.
After she heard Tobin’s small hum of approval, “That was nice.” Christen gave her a quick peck on the lips before pulling away with a smirk of her own.
“Now I’m ready.” She walked past the frozen Tobin in a hurry in hopes that she wouldn’t realize the red that seemed to be forever etched onto her skin when she’s around this girl.
Tobin drove her to the hospital and put her car in park, quickly getting out to open the door for Christen. She leaned against the door as Christen got out the Mustang, “Thank you for the ride.”
Tobin grinned like a child, “You sure you don’t want to skip work and just spend the day with me?”
“If I’m not mistaken Lieutenant, you have a job saving people.”
God, save me from this fire with you.
“You’re right.” She sighed, closing the passenger door and leaned against it with her arms crossed, “Am I not going to get a goodbye kiss?”
Christen rolled her eyes, “We aren’t sixteen Tobin.”
Except you make me feel like one around you.
“I mean I did drive ya.” Tobin wasn’t budging, especially when she used her transportation as the bargaining chip.
Sixteen stuck in a twenty seven yearold’s body.
“Fine.” Christen scanned the perimeter to make sure Alex was not in sight because she knew she had the afternoon shift, wooh. Christen leaned over the door and gave Tobin a quick kiss. It was literally, a quick kiss.
And before she even realized, she saw Alex’s white BMW roll right by with Alex’s mouth wide open and her grandma sunglasses halfway down her nose looking at the both of them.
She knew that look.
“I hate you.”
Tobin closed the door and skipped like a true freshman skipping to her first day of class but to her driver’s side, “Have a good day at work, Sweetheart!”
Christen groaned when she saw Alex who parked just further up the street from Tobin’s car grinning from ear to ear as she walked quickly towards the both of them. She knew Alex heard Tobin call her sweetheart on purpose because she practically yelled it out. She heard the familiar engine rage loudly as it was revved on. As Tobin drove off, Alex caught up to Christen who was walking into the hospital at a fast pace.
But, not fast enough.
She felt Alex punch her a moment later, jesus Sonic the hedgehog.
“Ow!” Christen frowned as she kept walking while rubbing the back of her arm, “What was that for.”
Alex smiled, “Dropping you off at work, huuuuuh? And a sweater?”
“God please don’t make it a bigger deal than it is Al.”
“One minute you’re mad at her and then the next minute you’re--“ Christen stopped dead in her tracks with her eyebrows raised, “Alex.”
“It’s Doctor, Alex.” She corrected.
“Oh-my-god.” Christen rolled her eyes and walked to the front desk, signing herself in after greeting Sofia at the desk, “We had drinks. It was late, so I slept over at her apartment, no big deal.”
“And uh…” She felt Alex’s finger on her neck and Christen jerked away quickly, no no nononono, “That was given, uhhh-sleeping?”
Sofia bursted into laughter, “Buuuuuusted!”
She gave me a HICKEY?
“I’m-I-I,” Christen stammered out of panic and frustration mixed together, “We made out in the living room-what’s the big deal!”
Sofia leaned forward wiggling her eyebrows up and down, “So-how was it?”
“None of your business!”
“Ugh,” Sofia rolled her eyes muttering, “You’re no fun.”
“Right? And to think she’s my best friend.” Alex said shaking her head at Sofia.
“Right?” Christen repeated sarcastically at her, “And to think I haven’t jumped into the river yet. Shocking, right?”
Alex shrugged, “Maybe a little. But you love me soooo…”
“I gotta get to work.”
“Don’t think we’re through with this conversation because we are not.”
“Ohhh-hohoho we’re through…and over-and-done with it.” She called out over her shoulder as she grabbed the chart Sofia gave her by rolling towards the direction Christen was walking towards.
“Not by a looong shooooot sweetheart.”
I’m going to kill her.
Tobin walked into the fire department grinning at her phone when she saw Christen’s name pop up on her lock screen. Her shift didn’t begin until twelve and it was only eleven, leaving her with nothing to do but paperwork she didn’t complete the night before.
Christen [1:56 P.M]: A HICKEY?
She tapped away at her keyboard to the girl who took up her time of that night, I take it you found my surprise ;). She made it to her locker and put the phone in it, taking out the radio and strapped it over her shoulder. Tobin looked at the picture of her and Allie taped on the door of the locker, would you like her?
“I don’t like her.”
“What nowwww Harry.” Tobin whined, swiping right to see the next picture, “Hm, she’s cute.”
“What’s the point of dating apps if you’re not going to like any girl that shows up.” Tobin sighed and threw her phone to the end of the couch, “24 and single. I’m going to be single forever.” Both of them just sat in the living room with boxes around them, drinking cheap beer after a long day of moving everything in since their last lease ended. It was a way bigger upgrade than the one they moved in together just starting their career at the CFD.
Now three years later, the both of them have a promising future at becoming the next lieutenants for both fire and rescue squad living in the better parts of Chicago.
Allie played with the girl’s hair that was all over her lap quietly, speaking up a minute later.
“You’ll find someone and when you do, you’ll know it’s right. Don’t force it with these…” Allie held her breath as she tried to hold back but couldn’t resist, “...with these stupid… dating apps. Love will hit you when you least expect it alright--and, and you’ll know when it’s the right person. And I’ll like her then, okay?”
Tobin kissed her fingers and put her hand over the picture of them two grinning on graduation day, remembering how Allie described to her how she knew Bati was the one all along. The guilt crept in on her at the thought of his name. She knew she should have been in contact with him, help him through her loss.
How could she help him when she wasn’t over it herself?
She was living through a nightmare, drinking her pain away. It was the only way to get that night out of her head. At the same time, pushing everyone away who cared for her.
Including her own family.
“Dr. Sauerbrunn, I think it’s time we had that talk.”
The blonde, skinny psychiatrist looked up from the computer in surprise from the voice she’d least expect to drop by out of the blue.
“You aren’t scheduled for right now, Lieutenant.”
The firefighter sat down with her eyes glued to her legs, not knowing how she found herself to be in her office. Remembering the words that Allie once told her mixed in with the foreign emotions that she has been experiencing as she has gotten to know Christen Press better.
That unfamiliar twist of her stomach when she sees Christen for the first time of the day.
How her heart feels like it’s skipping multiple beats when she hears that laugh. That oh man, she found herself itching to crack a joke just to hear that sound that was better than a harmony once more.
Especially with the possibility of her days starting with Christen in her own home to how her day ends with Christen on her mind.
The thought of Christen drives her over the edge, crazy.
Being in her presence put Tobin in a dream she never wanted to wake up from.
Is this the “right” one that Allie spoke of?
“I know. I just,” Tobin hesitated looking up as she quickly twisted the ring on her middle finger with her own thumb, “Have no one else to… talk to, about this.” She looked around the room, anywhere but the squinted eyes that were staring right at her.
Her psychiatrist pushed her chair back, walking around the desk to sit on her chair. She didn’t bring the worn down black leather book she writes in with her or was she wearing the glasses that made her look much older than she was.
Tobin furrowed her eyebrows and looked down again, “I met this girl. And, I think…” She inhaled a shaky breath before letting her answer go, “I have this feeling that she’s good for me.”
“For the first time last night, I talked about Allie. To her. And, and I felt…”
She lost her voice.
“Yes.” She said, quietly as she let her own guilt-ridden conscious get the best of her.
The doctor must’ve worked really hard to not show a surprised look on her face, switching from the left leg crossing over the other to the other way around.
“And something is telling me you feel guilty for moving on?”
“I haven’t.” Tobin said dismissively.
“Why does the thought of moving on scare you, Tobin?” The firefighter got up in a hurry, a flash of anger went right through her in the process.
“I came here to talk to you about who Christen was and how great last night was. And you end up playing this card?”
“You could have went to Emily.” She said calmly, “But you came to me. Because you’re seeking some type of forgiveness for moving on. That you owe it to Allie to be unhappy?”
“No, you’re wrong.” Tobin said, her voice breaking. Her heart broke along with it, because she was right. The grieving was out of her system and now it’s Christen that was in her system. She was who governed her every day thought.
“It’s okay Tobin, it’s okay to move on. To be happy. Christen… she’s your safe haven. Tell me when was the last time you had that dream you always have?”
Tobin sighed and collapsed onto the chair, head in her hands. She didn’t want to answer the question because she knew exactly what her shrink was getting at.
“I haven’t had it.”
“Since I met Christen.” She shook her head and got back up, walking towards the door that Tobin opened slowly. She stopped right before she left, looking over her shoulder with her peripheral, saying the words ever so softly.
A week passed with the both of them working around their schedules, seeing each other every chance they got. It became a habit to hear her voice right before they slept, often falling asleep with each other on the phone.
It became a habit to see her every day.
And it was finally time for their next step.
“Please Alex, don’t make this weird.” Christen tossed the salad with the vinaigrette that Alex made while her best friend was stirring her famous Risotto with one hand holding a glass of wine, “Who the hell puts blueberries, strawberries—and what is that, walnuts? In a Salad.”
“Healthy people do. Who know the nutritional…”
“Please no with the health talk. Need I remind you what you’re holding in your hand?”
Alex rolled her eyes, “A glass of wine a day keeps the doctors away.”
“Or three.” Christen scoffed, putting the salad on the dinner table. She looked at her straightened hair and the white sundress that fell off her shoulders in the mirror, not bad. Her wedges highlighted her tan, long legs, hoping that alone wasn’t her trying too hard.
The doorbell rang, “Please be normal.”
“Pshh, I. Am. A. G.”
“WHAAAAT’S uppp Tobin!” Christen pinched the bridge of her nose and shut her eyes tightly, Already going bad. She heard Tobin awkwardly introduce herself as she was being lead into the house. Serv was still getting ready in the room since he came back late from the hospital and so it was just her, Alex, and Tobin.
Suddenly there was an awkward silence that prompted Christen to look up, seeing Tobin standing there, looking straight at her.
(Alex was grinning the entire time when Christen made eye contact with Tobin, sipping on her wine quietly as she watched the two’s interaction.)
It took Tobin back to the first time she saw Christen out of her scrubs. But this time, it was different. Something about all of this felt lighter on Tobin’s soul, like she was jumping up and down cheering herself on about the idea of Christen Press being her girl.
But really, she was frozen in place after seeing her in that white dress that complimented her flawless skin.
“You look... God, you look amazing.” Tobin whispers, unable to hold back what her mind thinks when she sees Christen.
Alex stifled a giggle, quickly walking away to pull the risotto out the oven to let the two have their moment. Christen walked towards the girl dressed in a light blue button up linen shirt with and light skinny jeans on with Birkenstocks.
“Well hello to you too.” Christen walked over and gave Tobin a kiss that ended too soon, “So… I hope you like Fruit salads.”
“It’s not a fruit salad!” She heard Alex yell from the kitchen as she put dressed each plate.
“And mushy rice.” Christen whispered loudly in Tobin’s ear. The firefighter just laughed at how Christen found every way to insult her best friend’s cooking.
“It’s not mushy!”
After Alex pretty much sharing every embarrassing story that she could possibly muster up from her days in College with Christen on the dinner table, the three of them went out on the porch. Servando excused himself to sleep early only because he had surgery the next morning, leaving the girls to mingle.
“Okay Alex, you’re overexagerrating. It was only a kiss.” Alex’s laugh was muffled as she brought the beer bottle up to her mouth, “Make out session.”
Alex corrected her and all of them laughed; Christen hid behind her hand and looked over at Tobin while still in hiding, who had this surprised look on her face.
“It was a bet!”
“I really didn’t know you were this exciting.” Tobin challenged after hearing the story of Christen drunk at a party.
Alex cackled, “As if. You have nooo—“
“Oooookay it’s getting late," She turned to look at Tobin who was sitting next to her, "Let me walk you to your car. Goodnight Alex!” Tobin was about to say no but the look on Christen’s face stopped her. Instead, she looked at the drunken bestfriend who made sure to tell the both of them she was off the next day.
“It was a pleasure Dr. Morgan, thank you and Serv for having me.”
“Seeee even your girlfriend could call me Doctor. I approve. Goodnight Lieutenant!” Christen groaned out loud halfway through Alex’s sentence, “Allllllex she doesn’t need your approval.”
Her hand reached for Tobin’s, pulling her along towards her car parked out front.
“Easy on the hand woman, it’s important.” Tobin joked. She let herself be lead by the girl who was one step ahead of her. Christen pushed Tobin against her own car gently, wasting no time to close off the distance between the two.
But, the firefighter stopped her.
“Wait…” She whispered, pushing the loose strands out of Christen's face and over her shoulder.
“I have been, all dinner long.” Christen said with a child-like smile, “What’s up?”
Tobin put a serious face on before speaking up, “I have a question to ask you.”
“And you can’t laugh.”
“Tobin.” Christen warned.
Say it. Say it, quick!
“Will-you-be mine?” Tobin winced, face distorting after not hearing an immediate response.
Christen nodded once slowly with a confident smile, “Yes. I will be yours.”
Tobin’s heart leapt, “Well-Like, officially officially, a girlfriend?”
Christen tried to stifle a laugh but couldn’t, feeling like she was back in highschool where the first boy asked her to be his girlfriend, before she knew that she liked girls. She inched just a little closer to Tobin’s face, “Yes Tobin, I would love to be your girlfriend.”
“Forreal? Because when Alex said it-you seemed--“ Christen reached up and stroked Tobin’s soft cheek with her thumb.
“Tobin, stop.” She said with the softest hint at a smile.
Long before she even asked her to officially be hers, Christen felt like they were already an item. It was cute, Christen thought, that Tobin cared for those labels but she did. Christen knew that there was more to the label that meets the eye for Tobin, as it did for her.
But for Tobin, it meant much, much more.
A step in the right direction.
The first step in moving on.
“Just kiss me.”
Chapter 7: Lights
Two months passed into September’s frigid weather with the two trying to see each other with any spare moment they were able to have. Usually, those moments consisted of late night sleep overs and take outs. They tried to work through their busy schedules that they have to the best of their abilities.
“Atleast tell me one thing...” Emily said with the biggest smile on her face as she checked the inventory.
Tobin swung her feet back and forth in the back of the paramedic’s truck, texting her girlfriend while on one of her small breaks she usually has in between gigs. This was one of her busiest days, yet the Nurse was still on her mind much like the day that she had first met her. Ever since the day she officially asked Christen Press to be hers, the two saw each other only once. They wasted no time taking advantage of the little time they were able to have with each other, talking the night away before wanting to end it with a “movie”.
That was almost a week ago.
Since then, it had left a serious imprint on Tobin’s soul. They were watching a movie together before Christen made the first move. All it took for Christen was to slide her hand up just a little higher on her thigh and give Tobin a small kiss on the base of her neck. Tobin remembered the moment like it was yesterday, fighting the urge to turn and capture the lips that were continuing to leave their mark on her neck.
She wanted to keep feeling the immense pleasure she was receiving so she kept her eyes trained on the movie, feeling the smile creep up against her neck after Christen’s sensational tongue elicited a small, distinct moan from her partner. That was one of the first times where she let another girl take the lead, only because Christen knew damn well how to make a girl feel good.
Because her fingers resting just inside her thigh knew how to apply just the right amount of pressure on her leg.
Or how that expert tongue knew how to move against her own slowly before throwing one leg slowly over Tobin’s lap.
Or, how she could swiftly slide her hand underneath her tshirt while grinding down slowly deepening the kiss further and further with tenderness and no rush, Tobin thanking her lucky stars she wasn’t wearing a bra that night. They reached a slightly higher point than the point she had reached the day with Christen the night she invited the nurse over to dinner, except both shirts were gone.
Well, not the nurse. Christen never really found reason to wear shorts when she wore one of Tobin’s big shirts after late night shifts.
Which pretty much tore through any ounce of control Tobin has left when around Christen Press.
She wanted to say fuck it and let her eager hands do more than just lightly scratch down to the small of Christen’s back or cup her breasts with the palm of her hand. Tobin wanted to let her cravings be cured by her tongue.
Somehow, Tobin held back again, not wanting to rush anything that will be a defining moment in their relationship.
Call it being nervous or chivalrous, Tobin was definitely both and this was something that did not go unnoticed from the nurse's keen eye.
After replaying every second of the moment, her mind came back to present day to text the girl that had her daydreaming in the middle of work. Talking to Christen was the best distraction from one, very significant day that Tobin knew was coming up shortly. Typically, she had Emily stay this upcoming night just to keep her company and distract her mind from this day.
This time, she had hoped it would be Christen.
Christen responded with a short, I’m working. Tobin was grinning and replied back, I like you, a lot a lot a lot.
I would sure hope so;)
Tobin whined with another, Baaaaabbyyy…
I miss you.
Tobin wanted to avoid saying I can’t stop thinking about you because she has no idea how Christen would react since she’s Ms.Serious at work. She could picture Christen’s face lighten up at the text she sent, until she felt a pack of god knows what hit the back of her head.
“What the hell?” Tobin grimaced, rubbing the back of her head as she twisted her full body to look at Emily, “What was that for?”
“Oh-because I felt like it,” Emily responded with sarcasm, “No you bafoon, I asked you a question.”
“Is the sex good?”
Tobin’s face reddened. She looked down at her texts, staring at them yet unable to read them, continuing to act like she was busy doing something on her phone to hide the blush.
“I-We… We didn’t really do anything?” She answered hesitantly, feeling Emily’s jaw drop at her response.
“What do yo-“
“Listen-it’s more than that and I don’t even know-why-I-answered-you.” Tobin hopped off the back of the truck and looked back at her friend, “She’s more than that.”
“You’ve known each other for how long?” Emily rolled her eyes and put up a plastic box into the shelf, checking off something on her clipboard, “Is she atleast a good kisser?”
God, with the way she kisses… Can’t even imagine the way she would feel going lower and lower past my stomach—fuck, “Damn you, Emily. Damn. You.”
“What’d I do?!!” The paramedic shouted innocently with her arms stretched wide in the back of her ambo.
“EVERYTHING!” Tobin grunted out, throwing the packet back at the girl that was filling the truck up with her bellowing laughs. She rolled her eyes and slammed the doors shut to stop herself from stuffing anything in Emily's mouth to shut her up. Typically, it’d be popcorn.
Now? She was just out of luck.
She stormed off wanting to push the sexual thoughts out of her brain that was flowing into her mind like waves crashing a shore. She couldn’t stop thinking of her big smile, adorable laugh, and those eyes she thought to be out of this world captivating. How, her heart skips a beat when she hears that laugh. She missed it and above all else… she missed her kisses. It’s been a week of misery without feeling the way Christen was able to move her tongue against Tobin’s with confidence.
The way Christen kisses her with passion and fire that lights up Tobin’s world and brings her into a state of serenity.
This was way way, way worse than any fire she has ever fought.
But, the best fight she could ever ask for.
“So, you’re looking good…” Christen zoned out the typical talk of her temperature, weight, and the blood draw from her Doctor and looked down at her phone that buzzed.
Yes, should I bring the beer? Christen typed out smiling at the invite from Tobin before looking up at her Doctor who stopped talking after signing off her chart, “Are we good doc?”
And I miss you more my crazy firefighter.
“Everything looks good, it’s just…” A look of worry spread across Christen’s face when she heard the unmistakable shutter in his voice, “Your white blood cell count is looking a little more than the norm.”
Her mind whirred of the endless possibilities that could result from this circumstance.
Possibly an infection?
I don't feel sick. My temperature is fine.
Or could it be…
God, please no.
“I wouldn’t worry though. Remember Chris,” Serv reassured her through a slight squeeze of her knee, “Your WBC is still in the normal range, fluctuations can occur periodically after such a surgery.”
“And my neutrophil count?”
He took a deep breath in and released into his answer, “1.4.”
Christen let out a small noticeable gasp under her breath, feeling like her heart stopped beating. Now, the mind that was once clear now felt numb and in a haze. She’s been down this road once and that’s all Christen needed to feel her anxiety shoot through the roof, pinching the bridge of her nose out of frustration.
The nurse pushed herself off the cold, blue bed and headed out in the direction towards the emergency room. She felt angry at the world, angry and betrayed. She knew the sciences behind Leukemia and knows that he speaks the truth; there is always that chance of fluctuating patterns.
However, there was always that what if.
What if the neutrophil count gets lower.
What if the white blood cell count gets higher.
What if I don’t stand a chance?
It’s those what if’s that killed her.
“Sofia, check on the patient in room six in about half an hour,” Alex ordered, turning to Christen, “Can you do me a favor and…”
Alex’s face stilled once she heard the sirens in the background, “Come with me.”
They rushed through the sliding doors. They opened the back to a young, blonde paramedic who immediately started yelling out to the both of them.
“GSW to the chest and abdominal region, two exit wounds but four entry wounds, and the victim suffered a collapsed lung on scene,” The tall paramedic sped through her statement as she performed chest compressions on the male while straddling him as they wheeled him into the nearest available room, “Thoracotomy was done on scene, with no time, he lost a lot of blood. He became tachycardic and crashed as we got here but we were able to revive him.”
“Thank you!” Christen and the other nurses with the doctor on call crowded around the patient, “We’ll take it from here.”
“Steph, I’m going to need three liters of O neg,” The doctor said while checking his airways, unhappy with the results.
“I could still hear some fluids, he’s having trouble breathing. Chris, you know what to do.”
That was the problem.
Christen always knew what to do. She was always there for Alex’s patients. Her life was confined to the hospital and that is when it hit her.
She was way too fucking good at her job.
She needed change.
“Ofcourse.” Christen quickly grabbed an intubator with the intern looking at her with a confused look on his face, “Shouldn’t I be doing that?”
Christen glared at the kid that could pass for a boy who just graduated college, “Okay champ, you do it.”
She shoved the intubator into his chest and just as she was about to take off her gloves, something in her mind told her to not do it. She could very well just walk out or watch the kid choke as he couldn’t find his airway through the blood.
“Chris you know I don’t let babies near the table this early,” Alex warned needing Christen to take the reins pointing at the two entry wounds, “We need to remove these bullets before we move.
Christen rolled her eyes and looked at the struggling intern, “I-I can’t find an--“ Christen uncrossed her arms from her chest and took the intubator and tube from his shaking hands, “Next time you want to pull rank, remember who’s been here before you even graduated Med school kid.”
The experienced nurse put the intubator into the bleeding man’s mouth and swiftly inserted the tube into the man’s throat even with an obstructed view. It was practically muscle memory, connecting the large pump into the other end of the tube as the finish.
Once Christen started controlling his air intake, she could see the high levels begin to drop, giving Alex a window to take the bullet out. However, something felt wrong…
The man’s awake.
“The--“ Alex digged the for bullet and the man gasped loudly, seeing his eyes roll back and ignored the loud monitors that started going haywire. It didn’t stop Alex from digging deeper with her own hand to get the bullet that was pressing into his liver.
“He’s crashing. I need one round of epi now!” Alex pulled out the bullet while Christen did as she asked, keeping an eye at his heartrate that was not going up.
“But--“ Christen tried to argue that that would be his third round and it added more fuel to the fire with Alex now yelling over her voice, “Damnit Christen when I say do something, do something!”
She rushed over to the side and grabbing the syringe. She filled it up with epinephrine and took a deep breath in as she stared at the one spot she knew she had to nail into the man’s chest. Christen stayed quiet as she watched Alex jab the needle straight into his heart, seeing the man’s body react instantly.
“Move him into an OR room now!”
Alex took off her gloves and stared angrily at Christen who had her arms crossed again, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Christen stayed quiet while her best friend chewed her out in front of the other nurses, “First you embarrass the kid and disobey direct orders?”
Christen shifted her weight on the other leg with her eyes glued to the bloodied floor, an awkward silence looming over the both of them. Alex scoffed and rolled her eyes as she backed away slowly, “Maybe you should just stick to Oncology. You’re not cut out for this.”
No, it hurt.
Her words were like daggers to Christen’s heart. Maybe she wasn’t cut out for this. She let out the sucked in breath she had been holding since Alex condemned her for her actions. She got a few pats in the back before Christen walked off in a hurry to the nurse’s locker-room.
She felt the tears well up and the salty tears roll down her face as she leaned her head against the wall but no sounds came out, just sniffles. She felt anger amongst the tears sliding down her skin, confused with how everything could go wrong within the span of minutes.
“Can you believe the cubs lost.” Emily rolled her eyes as she stuffed more popcorn into her mouth. Tobin watched quietly as Emily dropped loose crumbs around her, but not on.
All going in between the cushions, Jesus...
“Do you ever stop eating?” She said as she picked up the popcorn, throwing it back into the big bowl sitting on her friend’s lap.
“No, actually. I do not. So are you going to that?”
Emily’s eyes went towards the letter invitation from Tobin’s family to attend the Heath annual reunion in the Kiawah islands. She hasn’t been to one of those since Allie’s death, why go now?
I haven't even spoken to them in years.
Tobin was about to say something until she heard a light rap on her door, huh?
“Expectiiing someone?” Emily said, wiggling her eyebrows up and down. Tobin grabbed the pillow behind her and stuffed it right into Emily’s face, “Child.”
Tobin trudged towards the door. She itched her head as she reached for the door, opening it to see Christen through her squinted eyes.
Christen did nothing to Tobin's surprise, expecting more than just Christen silently walking into her arms.
“Hey, you…” Tobin whispered, giving Christen a kiss on the side of her head, feeling Christen’s arms tighten around her waist at the kiss. She didn’t know how long they were standing there quietly in each other’s embrace.
“Well, I should probably go…” She heard Emily say from behind her, edging her way past the two’s embrace. Luckily, Tobin’s friend was able to get the memo that being the jokester she was wasn’t the best approach to the situation.
“I hope we could meet under better circumstances Chris, I’ve heard a lot of good things.”
Christen laughed softly despite the unrelenting sadness that loomed over her entire body. Somehow, she managed to be nice enough to say likewise before Emily left. Meanwhile, Tobin was confused of Emily’s actions.
Emily has always been the one to try and make a joke in the most inopportune times. It was like a complete switch up.
Tobin mouthed the words thank you before closing the door to her apartment. She pulled away just enough to lean down and press her lips against those lips she's missed, “Hi, babe.”
Christen smiled into Tobin’s lips, “Found myself here and somehow, with the shit day I’ve had, your hug, that smile…” Tobin found herself smiling even larger as her girlfriend continued on a moment later after looking down.
“You’re the best part of my day.”
“Lady, do you not know who I am?” Tobin winked as she took steps back pointing at herself with Christen beginning to follow her as she rolled her eyes, “Don’t start with me calling me—“
“Tobin, freaking Heath…”
“…oh, and hereee-we-go…”
“Aside from being an excellent kisser--“ She continued gloating and after Christen’s attempt to cut her girlfriend once didn’t work, Christen rolled her eyes and took one step closer into Tobin faster than the firefighter could anticipate. She pulled Tobin in from the waist, needing to get her fix in.
She could hear Tobin’s protest slowly die out with an approving moan taking over as Christen took it to herself to control the way the kiss went, further. She took it on her own to push Tobin until she reached the kitchen counter and hoisting her up.
Luckily, Tobin assisted her on it and she couldn’t help thinking that it’s weird that she was the one on the counter. It was always the other way around with the girls she was with before Allie’s death.
Damn she’s good, Tobin’s eyes rolled back when she felt Christen’s lips plant a wet, slow kiss right below her ear. She felt herself urging Christen on by craning her neck more to the side, steadying herself on the counter as she felt the warm tongue leave a trail of embers down her neck.
Christen wanted to do anything to get the news of her bloodwork off her mind, as well as the incident that occurred in the ER. She ignored all the texts of Alex apologizing for her actions as she walked towards Tobin’s apartment late after work.
She knew Alex was apologizing because Serv told her but still, she wanted to be with the one thing that is constantly good in her life. Everything was once black and white-- go to work and resort to Alex or Kelly for company. Now, with this firefighter in her life, the world she once saw is no longer bland. Rather, filled with endless possibilities and vibrant colors.
All because of her cat getting stuck.
Now, those vibrant colors were no longer vibrant, but faded.
Her hand stopped at the buttons of Tobin’s white, ripped skinny jeans. Time lapsed without her realizing it and the kisses that were once slow with passion became rushed, meaningless kisses that only served to be a distraction to her troubled mind.
Christen rested her forehead against Tobin’s and closed her eyes while steadying her ragged breaths, feeling guilty that she kissed Tobin before telling her the news of her bloodwork, “I…I can’t.”
Tobin itched her neck and unlocked her legs that were twined together behind Christen. She forgot how Christen said she had a bad day after their lips connected, “I’m sorry if I--“
“Please don’t, it’s not you, it’s me.”
“Wait are we bre--“ Tobin was immediately interrupted by Christen’s bellowing no after her eyes widened, “I would never!”
Tobin smirked, “Oooh really?”
Christen giggled and punched Tobin’s shoulder, “Shuttup.”
There was a moment of silence that Christen took to herself to get rid of with her head down, “I need to tell you something important.”
Tobin squirmed her way around Christen after looking at the time and walked towards the kitchen first, grabbing a six pack of beer. Then she walked around the other entrance near the door to grab her coat, scarf, and keys, “Not before I take you somewhere.”
“This can’t wait Tobin...”
“Lady.” The firefighter warned as she opened the door and turned around to look at Christen standing there, motioning to the door with a questioning look of concern on her face.
"Well, come on?"
Christen rolled her eyes and walked towards the door, “Fine.”
“Uh you know we can’t get in here right?”
“Lady…” Tobin paused to look at her phone after she received a text, not seeing the way Christen looked up at the sky as if she was talking to god.
“Lord help me stay calm if she calls me lady one more time.”
Tobin laughed and jogged towards her trunk, pulling out an old game ball from the rear and tossing it towards Christen who instinctively caught it.
“You carry a ball in your trunk? Knew you still love the sport…”
“Not any ball…” She flashed the light on it, allowing Christen to see the old model and the date and a note written to her by the coach.
Championship Game 2009: MVP, you’re going to be a star.
“This is you gloating.”
“Ohhhh-come on! This is the only ball I kept after all these…” She heard the large gate open and turned back to look at Christen’s face in awe, “That’s us!”
“How’d you manage to get us in?”
“Holly.” The firefighter said with an affirming tone.
“Tobin!!” The security guard went into Tobin’s arms, oh god… Tobin heard Christen clear her throat and she swiftly pulled away from the hug. She looked at Christen who crossed her arms and shifted her weight on one hip, I know that look.
“It’s been two years since I’ve seen you, how’ve you been?”
Tobin looked at Christen nervously before following the security guard through the stadium’s halls. Christen rolled her eyes again when she heard the voice, couldn’t it be some fat, old white man.
“Oh nothin’, just working.” Tobin tried her best to minimize the small talk between the two while awkwardly smiling at Christen. They reached the stadium and she unlocked the last door, turning around to look at the two.
“Alright, you know the drill Tobs.”
Tobin smiled and nodded, saying the same thing and bidding her farewell before walking through the tunnel. She was a little sad while more excited, remembering the many times her and Allie did this on her birthday.
Once they made it to the middle of the field kicking the ball back and forth to each other, Tobin looked at her watch again, three more minutes.
"Believe it or not, Allie slept with her."
Tobin laughed and put her hands up, "Not me."
“So," Christen said as she put her hand below the large black jacket and into Tobin's back pocket, "Are you going to tell me what we are doing here, in one of the colder nights of Chicago in late september?”
Tobin took a beer out of the container she was holding and handed one to Christen, “Every year, on Allie’s birthday, we had this tradition to come here. I never found a reason to come back again.”
Shit, she’s opening up.
“I knew you missed Soccer.”
“Nooo,” Tobin whispered, “I miss the lights.”
Tobin kept looking at her watch. Once it turned twelve, one stadium light after another turned on after another. When the lights came on, Christen’s heart practically jumped out her chest as she followed each light, the memories of playing under these lights came flooding back into her while the bad ones went right back out. She remembers the loyal fans screaming when she scored a goal, as well as the happiness that she felt playing under these very lights.
“Tobin…” Christen’s smile was the widest it’s been that whole night, “This is amazing. I forgot what it felt like being in this field.”
Tobin just smiled popping the cap off the beer and took a large swig of it while looking at that smile, raising her beer in the air, “Happy 29th birthday Allie! I know you hear me ya old, tall elf.”
Christen laughed at how Tobin yelled and raised hers up as well, screaming at the top of her lungs.
“HAAAPPY BIRTHDAY-Y-Y TO YOUUU!” Tobin laughed when she heard her sing and started playing with the ball, drinking to her best friend while Christen tried to take the ball. They were both now on their third beer, enjoying the many memories Tobin recounted with pride. They laughed and played around with the soccer ball until things got a little more competitive. Tobin rotated her body and leaned back against Christen who pushed forward, “Allie never played a day in her life and managed to take the ball from me, after three years… let’s see if you can.”
“Oh, it’s on!” Christen hasn’t played in years but she knew how to take a ball from someone who hasn’t played in seven years. Their last beers were spilling everywhere and they didn't think anything of it. They were both laughing and not caring about a damn thing, forgetting the real reason why Christen wasn’t herself tonight.
The former professional soccer player reached with her left foot around the firefighter's leg to get the ball that Tobin had intentionally placed while keeping her foot on the ball. Even when she was drinking, she was able to roll the ball back with quick speed and kick the ball through Christen’s legs with the opposite heel, laughing even louder as she twisted around Christen who had a delayed reaction of running after her.
“Guess that little girl isn’t the only one who has now nutmegged ya!”
“How are you so fast!” Christen yelled out as she reached the girl, taking another gulp while pretending to be a goal keeper. Both of her arms were out with her body swaying left and right intentionally as Tobin played with the ball again in front of her, giggling at how Christen was defensively playing while tipsy.
“Oh, so that’s your plan of taking this from me?”
“Uh…” Christen hesitated for a second before taking action, “No, it’s this way!”
Right when the last word left her lips, she charged at Tobin and took her by surprise. Tobin yelped and reacted too late, but able to run away with the scarf falling right from her neck. However, Christen managed to get a handful of Tobin’s jacket, a second later wrapping her arms around her and used her body weight to take her down.
Beer spilled on the both of them with neither one of them noticing until a moment later with Christen right next to Tobin. Her face was buried in the Tobin’s shoulder and her body pressed against Tobin’s side, laughing hysterically before leaning on one elbow to look down at Tobin, “You got… beer all over you. Sorry?”
She started giggling again and Tobin frowned, “Apology not accepted.”
Christen exaggerated a gasp and climbed ontop of Tobin, looking down at her with a frown of her own with her hands on each of Tobin's shoulders.
“Take. That. Back! Accept it.”
Tobin saw the flushed cheeks and the cutest frown, not wanting it to disappear.
“Nope, it’s all over my chesttt and my neck and-and my FAVORITE v-neck!” Christen rolled her eyes and Tobin forced herself to look away at the beauty, “Ofcourse you have not a single drop on you, I wond—ooooh go-wow…” She felt Christen’s tongue graze her skin with mischief from the middle of collarbone all the way up to the base of her neck, kissing just below her ear again.
“Tastes way…way better off of you.” She whispered, hot breath against her skin made Tobin shiver with the sudden desire to want more.
Tobin cleared her throat and tried to speak through her nerves, “You didn’t get all of it.”
“Really?” Christen bit her lower lip and released it slowly with Tobin watching closely, “Where?”
Tobin gulped and put her finger at the small inkling beer between her breasts, “There.” Christen smiled and shifted her body a little lower to be able to lean down slowly, moving her hair slowly to her left side. Tobin’s heartbeats were pounding through her ears, anticipating the feeling of the very lips that has her dazed on the area that was revealed by her grey v-neck long sleeve, loose casual t-shirt.
She felt the lips whisper against the exact area she pointed at and the same hot breath trickling against her breast. It was almost thirty degrees outside in Chicago but damn, did it feel like a hundred for Tobin.
The firefighter could barely control the alluring temptations she got last time from when Christen was ontop of her and now…
Now she felt like she could spontaneously combust.
“Naaah…” Tobin’s eyes opened wide at the now repulsing sound of rejection and Christen laughed as she quickly hopped off of her. Tobin gasped once she realized how badly she got played hearing Christen scream out, “It took me a DAY!”
“Oh no it did-ennnnnn’t!” Tobin scurried off the ground and chased after her girlfriend who was too ahead of her, sprinting towards the goal as if her life depended on it. Christen focused long and hard on the kick, delivering it to the opposite corner of the goal.
“ANNNND She SCORES the game winner!” Her arms went up as she screamed the words out.
"Nope, I scored with you!"
“Oh you cornball," She said turning around to see Tobin running towards her, "Nononono don’t you dar—AH!”
Her finger pointing and warning didn’t stop Tobin’s charge at her, wrapping her arms around her back to lift Christen up and spin her around. Her laugh resonated through Tobin’s whole body, never wanting this feeling to end.
The feeling was euphoric, energizing too. Her mind was racing with her heart, never feeling so happy on such a day that brought nothing but sadness in her life. Her eyes were on Christen's own when the words spilled out of her mouth without any hesitation.
She always found reason to not be in love. Maybe it was the thought of loving or caring for someone too much that scared her. Or that, she was scared that they would suddenly leave her like Allie did. For the longest, the only thing Tobin knew how to do was blame herself for the death of her bestfriend and honor Allie by being the best firefighter in Chicago.
But something hit her unexpectedly. Two years, Tobin too felt like she was in the dark and Christen Press made her feel alive since the incident with her cat, making her feel like she was finally deserving of love.
And now there’s something else she knows for certain. Something, that has erased the pain that she has felt for the past two years and reminded her of what happiness felt like.
The uncontrollable inclination to just smile when around the proximity of the nurse wasn't because Tobin loved smiling.
That the warm, fuzzy feelings that were of merit in her chest when she steals glance at Christen as she's watching a movie with her, weren't random.
How the nightmares she once had disappeared when she fell asleep at the sound of Christen's soft breathing when she slept didn't just disappear out of the blue. It could definitely pass for snoring but the sound itself still music to her ears, allowing her to no longer drown in the silence of her own home that was once alive.
She felt secure with Christen's embrace.
Safe from her own demons that attacked her late at night.
“God, I'm in love you.” It took Tobin a minute to realize what she said, smiling to Christen when it really hit her, feeling the hands tighten around her neck at the words.
“Christen, I love you.”
Don’t mess this up.
Chapter 8: Fires
“I love you.”
Christen’s heart pumped faster as the words took her breath away. God I love you, I love you I love you!!
Instead, “You shouldn’t…” Were the words that came out barely above a whisper from her mouth, a somber look hidden by the bow of her own head.
“Listen, I need to tell you something.”
Tobin laughed nervously, “I love you.”
“I. Love. You. Look-whatever it is,” Tobin took a breath in and brushed the loose strands out Christen’s face before pushing her chin up with the side of her hand, “It doesn’t matter… it doesn’t because...”
Tobin closed her eyes and chuckled before looking deep into Christen’s eyes that were filled with noticeable fear, “Because nothing…nothing will ever change the way I feel about you.”
The nurse believed her. It was the idea of committing to someone with the risk of Leukemia coming back. Christen felt selfish, knowing that falling in love let alone, letting someone fall in love with her comes with risk. Could she let someone in, knowing that her health could deteriorate?
That, she could leave Tobin alone in the world…?
The thought of leaving Tobin alone in this world, let alone allowing her to watch Leukemia attack her body without being able to do a damn thing… It haunted Christen. Better to cut the cords now than to grow a larger attachment, right? Or so, that was what Christen thought.
The nurse swallowed thickly before looking back down, “I got results from a recent bloodwork back.”
Tobin was unfazed, “And?”
“And… The leukemia might come back.”
“It’s still a possibility.” Christen quickly countered after Tobin instantly emphasizing that one word. She took steps back with her hands up, “I’m a ticking time bomb. I’m…high risk.” Tobin stopped following Christen’s footsteps and held her shrug at the top with her hands up, “Did that stop you from being with me?”
The question lingered in the drizzling rain that came all of the sudden along with slight winds. The words came so carelessly out her mouth, taking Christen’s own in a heartbeat. Every time Christen would try to open her own mouth, no words would come out. She pushed aside her now damp hair and crossed her arms, frowning in defeat.
“Why. Are. You mad, lady?”
“Seriously, lady?” Christen mocked with a contorted facial expression, “I’m not, I-”
Tobin grinned, taking one step closer, “Stop.”
“Stop what, you stop. I’m not doi—”
“Quit telling me to stop!”
One step closer.
“Tell me you love me.”
Christen rolled her eyes and looked away blushing, “Not…” Tobin stepped into her space and her hand made its way up to Christen’s neck, “…When you’re annoying...” She said with a gulp at the end, her face falling into her touch despite her need to be stubborn. Tobin smiled softly before placing the other on the opposite side and looked into her eyes.
“Tell me you love me.”
The need to kiss Tobin increased with the way Tobin looked down at her lips. She waited for the words that came forth only seconds after repeating what she said again.
“I love you.”
Christen was the one to lean in to place a long, lingering kiss on Tobin’s lips, taking the breath away from the other. After regaining what was lost, Tobin took note of her surroundings and looked up at the sky, “I should take you home.”
“No,” Christen said with her chin up smiling despite the chill the cold weather brought her, “Take me to your place.”
Her words acted like a buzzkill but with the happiest outcome for the firefighter. Kind of like a… wakeup WAKEUP WAKEUP!!! Call to wipe away any remnants of the beers she drank from before. Tobin smiled and took the nurse by the hand and flicked the ball up, catching it and twisting her hips to look back at her, “Let’s go home.”
They made it to the apartment laughing at the crazy circumstances and Tobin’s attempt at a lousy jokes, caught in the now heavy rain like teenagers. Tobin helped Christen out the car, unable to resist the urge to push Christen up against the passenger door. She closed in on Christen’s lips again, this time with more intimacy as she left behind traces of passion from her tongue.
Her hand ventured beneath the cold, wet shirt that Christen was wearing, scratching down lightly after feeling the wet material of the nurse’s bra. It was enough for Christen to groan at the feeling, her leg hitching up against Tobin’s side. The firefighter’s hand instinctively found it and tightened her grip against the wet material as she made out with the nurse in the pouring rain.
“Inside.” She husked out against Tobin’s lips, barely able to catch her breath after breaking away from the kiss. Tobin quickly nodded in agreement, having to force herself off of Christen’s body, “Right.”
Tobin grabbed her hand again, leading them into the apartment, anxiously turning around to do the same thing she did to Christen once she got her out the car. Except, Christen shut the door with her own leg and walked quickly into Tobin’s chest, her fingers finding themselves tangled in Tobin’s wet hair to pull Tobin back in.
Their heavy breaths were in sync; the pressure from the inside of their chests intensified while their chests were pressed against each other. Christen paced Tobin backwards, stealing kisses every chance she had as if every moment from here on out was their last. Christen shivered despite the burning sensation in her chest that came with every one of Tobin’s kisses.
“You’re cold.” Tobin said, kissing her again but stopping after feeling the bumps rise against her own hands. She kissed Christen’s shoulder then on her neck after saying the words, “Go shower.”
“I don’t want you sick.”
Christen sighed when she felt Tobin back away, running her hand through her wet hair that lost its curls in the rain as the other rubbed the opposite shoulder. She knew there was no point in arguing as she turned on her heels towards the bathroom.
“Fine.” She huffed out with an attitude.
“Fiiine.” Tobin mimicked, laughing at how Christen stomped off.
Oh, okay. Little did Tobin know, the nurse had it in herself to be cunning, stripping off her scrub top as she felt the eyes linger behind her.
Don’t do it, says the angel inside Christen. Nope, she thought as she reached back to unhook her wet bra as well. She heard Tobin take a deep breath in when she swept her hair to the side, smiling as she unlaced her pants.
“Now that’s cold.”
Christen bit her lip smiling once she stopped to slowly shimmy out of her pants too, revealing panties that were see through due to the wetness.
“Get me a shirt and shorts ready for me, please?” She gleefully said, turning around once she was able to use the restroom door as a shield from Tobin’s eyes to see too much. She kept her head peaked out the doorway, masking the unrelenting smile with the edge of the door because of how much her girlfriend struggled to maintain composure.
She challenged Tobin by raising an eyebrow that got Tobin moving in a flash, “Right-uhhh, right…” She ran her hand through her hair, looking left and right in her own apartment as if it was strange to her, before it finally registering where the bedroom was. Tobin came back quickly by extending an arm out with a neatly folded towel, that being the clothes stacked on top of them.
“Thank you!” Christen quirked, flashing one of her glorious, winning smiles of hers.
“Yep, yep-uhhh-enjoy,” Tobin squeaked out, “See ya later!”
See ya later?
SEE YOU LATER?
“Okay…” And the door closed.
Tobin cursed herself in her head when the door shut for being such a loser, or so Tobin thought of in her head. It was as if she had never seen a naked woman before or dealt with teasing. She closed her eyes, pictures of how good Christen looked from behind shuttering into her mind soon after… her imagination stirring as she could envision her back arching into her by just a single touch…
Tobin quickly opened her eyes and groaned, “I hate me.” She shook her head and plopped down on her long couch, face first on the first pillow she could find.
And the wait continues.
Christen got out the shower humming along to her favorite song, that’s what makes you beautiful by that boy band that fell off. Tobin frowned, “Only took you an hour.”
“You could’ve joined me but ya didn’t sooo…”
HOW could I have missed the signs?!!
“Chivalry, is what I call it.” Tobin said, trying to play it off by a sip of her best wine. She watched Christen reach up in the cabinet in attempt to get a wine glass herself, shirt hiking up with the movement. How dare she not wear the shorts… wait, did I give her my favorite boxer panties?
Damn, my girlfriend’s beautiful.
“Like your panties by the way, that baby blue looks good on you.”
Christen gasped and turned around, “Excuse me ma'am, are you checking out my ass?”
“I mean,” Tobin got up and proceeded to talk as she walked towards the kitchen, “You did strip down to practically nothing-soooo I believe… we’re wayyy past that don’t look phase.”
“Oh?” Christen croaked, turning back around to hide the nervous look that suddenly appeared out of nowhere despite her confidence that grew at an exponential rate throughout the night. She knew where this night was going and was anticipating it. She knew that her heart raced for much more than just her eyes on her.
“You did that on purpose.” Tobin whispered behind Christen who stared at the wine glass on the counter, unable to poor the liquid inside the glass itself.
“Did what on purpose?” She said, in an innocent way. She knew deep down that she did not wear shorts simply because she wanted Tobin to see her. She wanted to lure Tobin into her, believing that she was prepared for what might come next.
"Not wearing those shorts I gave you."
Tobin’s hand went past her hip and down to her soft thigh, scratching up slowly as she pressed herself into Christen’s back. Tobin felt the way Christen tensed up from the touch and the nurse spoke up soon after, turning into Tobin who still pressed her body into Christen’s own.
She asked the question that could spark up the rest of this night with bright lights and fireworks.
”…And what phase are we at?”
She said it needing for Tobin to say it as well and fuel that fire that raged inside of her. That fire, that was waiting inside ever since she felt the electrifying rush of Tobin’s hands underneath her shirt that one night she drank too much… was ready to be released.
She could feel Tobin’s hand at her hip, willing her to turn around.
That’s when Tobin smiled, leaning in to what seemed like Christen’s lips, or so that’s what the nurse thought. Instead, she went for Christen’s neck, inhaling the scent of her own body wash that smelled better off Christen before kissing her neck slowly.
“The phase where I get to do more than just look.”
Fuck, Christen thought, how could someone talking turn her on like this.
The nurse felt like she was growing dizzy from how Tobin’s words ghosted across her neck. While, feeling the surprise left behind the tip of Tobin’s fingers grazing up and down her thigh before finding their way underneath Christen’s shirt. The entire time, Christen struggled breathing when she was giving Tobin everything she wanted, enjoying the way Tobin was touching her body and taking her in slowly with each kiss willed by her own tongue.
Figuring out exactly, where Christen likes to be touched.
Christen was too into the moment to realize she was backed up against the counter with Tobin’s leg right in between hers, her eyes opening to a beautiful girl with golden brown hair in full control.
Tobin’s hand gently rested on the base of Christen’s throat with her eyes trained on the irresistible, soft lips that were near her own. She could feel Christen’s pulse beat rapidly against her fingers, which excited her knowing that Christen was also just as nervous as she was.
But, once Christen bit her lower lip subconsciously, Tobin could not hold back. She leaned forward once she saw the slow release of her bottom lip and the way Christen was looking at her reeled her in like a siren does with her muse.
The kiss was slow and intricate, Tobin taking it all in one step at a time as if she was trying to unlock a mystery through the kiss. She was trying to map out every, tiny detail that made Christen tick faster. Before either one of them knew it, the kiss became more intense. Time slowed down while the both of them sped up. However, Christen was needing more.
She was the one to grind her hips down into the leg that was in between her own, craving friction.
She was the one to unconsciously lead Tobin back into her own bedroom, desire seeping through her veins.
She was the one to sit down on the edge of Tobin’s bed, taking off her shirt quietly as the firefighter watched her silently, not quite able to shake off this trance she was in.
Christen felt like she was the only girl in the world with the way Tobin’s eyes moved across her body. The way, she inhaled deeply again, without realizing that she was holding it in when she watched Christen reveal what Christen eagerly wanted to keep from her earlier.
It made her feel… special.
More importantly, it made her feel beautiful.
And damn, has she never felt a feeling like this before.
Not even after their first kiss.
“I’ve loved you from the very moment I saw you, Christen Press.” Tobin said looking down at the floor, smiling as she looked back up into her eyes, nothing else.
“You saved me.”
The words made Christen’s heart pound harder against her own chest, feeling the redness find its way towards her cheeks.
“Well, your cat.”
“C’mere.” Christen rolled her eyes before saying that single word with a big smile of her own, heart still racing fast.
“Me?” Tobin grinned, pointing at herself with her two thumbs.
“Lady, if you don’t--" Christen cut herself off after realizing there was no point in fighting the child-like tendencies of her girlfriend and pulled her in by the hand.
“Cmere.” Christen repeated, smiling at Tobin as she scooted herself back towards the middle of the bed, intentionally spreading her legs apart just enough, hoping that Tobin would read in between the lines.
And she did, following immediately after.
Christen woke up, stretching her arms out wide with a loud yawn as she squeezed her eyes shut. Ohhhh, nothing feels better than a stretch after a busy night in bed—
“Oh, god.” She said out loud while looking up at the ceiling.
Christen’s upper half shot up in bed, hair shooting just about in every direction.
She looked at where Tobin slept beside her, seeing a small index card with cursive handwriting.
Ofcourse she also has beautiful handwriting.
“Out to get us breakfast, be back soon. Love, Tobin.” Christen said out loud as she smiled at the note and then it hit her, breakfast.
“No,no-nonono!” Christen whispered to her disgruntled self after looking for her clothes.
And there they were, resting neatly on the dresser that was infront of the bed. Damn, Christen thought smiling, “I have the best girlfriend ever.”
Shit, you’re still late!
“Awww, I’m flattered.” Tobin said with two cups of coffee from a local shop near her place and a bag of something that sure smelled good from where Christen was standing.
“Baby, last night was amazing.” Christen said ignoring the comment Tobin made as she put on her last piece of clothing in a hurry, “But I gotta go to work. I’ll stop by and get takeout on the way here tonight.”
Wait, tonight? Tobin thought smiling to herself like a moron, Round…God, how many rounds was it last night?
She gave Tobin a quick kiss on the cheek and grabbed the coffee in Tobin’s right hand as well as the bag.
“Wait, that coffee is mine! I got you the girly drink…” The firefighters voice faded and Christen turned back around smiling after opening the door to Tobin’s apartment, “What’s yours is mine baby.”
Tobin rolled her eyes but Christen continued with a wink, “And damn girl do you look good in a uniform.”
Tobin looked down at her plain, navy polo and cargo pants with black shoes, the most unflattering look she could think of. Typically in any given case, it’s Tobin making these types of comments.
With the roles reversed, she had nothing to say but…
Christen laughed before shaking her head, closing the door right behind her. Tobin’s head dropped, “Dummy. I swear,” She said to herself, “It’s like she’s taken me back to when I had no game.”
Tobin walked towards the door shaking her own head, “I still have game.”
Opening a door that wasn’t closed all the way, without it hitting her that there may still be a reason that it’s not closed.
Such as… Christen maybe standing right there?
“Yeah, I still have game, yeah no definitely...” She said to herself to convince herself that she is still someone who is good with her words.
Christen was standing right there, tilting her head with a gleaming smile.
“Hey baby, I kind of need a ride.”
“Babe, you still have game.” Christen pursed her lips as she looked out the window during which Tobin frantically tried to come up with something bizarre.
“I mean, yeah.” Tobin corrected herself, “No, yeah… It’s not what it looks like. To clarify,” She said with a pause to clear her throat as she waved her free hand out in front of her, “I was only talking about how you make me lose my gaa—” She looked down in defeat after trying to avoid saying game, “…my, my…game.”
“Ability to talk.” Tobin corrected herself, as if she was arguing with herself.
And then she defended herself.
“Like, I freeze.”
This time, there was no silence.
“BAAABE-UH,” Tobin looked at the passenger seat to see Christen looking at her with wide eyes, “Shut. Up. Please? You still have game.”
I still have game.
Tobin quickly looked away and pressed the gas to get to the hospital as fast as she can, “Yes ma’am.”
They got to the hospital and Christen leaned halfway towards Tobin for the firefighter to meet her with a kiss. Christen gave her a slow, steady kiss that makes a girl’s insides flutter like butterflies, “I love you, crazy girl.”
Tobin smiled and gave her a peck, “And I love you.”
Christen laughed and opened the door, stepping out of it in a hurry. She walked quickly towards the hospital doors knowing Tobin was about to do something embarrassing.
“DAMN GIRL, DO YOU LOOK GOOD IN THAT UNIFORM!”
Tobin could feel the frown from the back of Christen’s head as she saw the girl stop dead in her tracks to turn around slowly. Tobin was standing on the edge of her cardoor, “In case no one KNOWS!”
Tobin! Christen mouthed the words with people moving all around her.
“That is MY GIRL! And I LOVE HER!”
Oh my god. Christen quickly turned around and continued her walk but at a faster pace.
“CHRISTEN PRESS, I LOVE YOU!”
She heard a couple of aww’s from girls that walked towards the hospital as well. Then she saw an old lady just scowling at her as she walked slowly with her walker with a Nurse who looked miserable.
Tobin nodded at her and the old lady looked away, muttering something about nuisance. Tobin laughed and got into her car shaking her head, seeing Christen at the doorway just smiling at her.
Tobin smiled right back, god I love this girl.
She got into her car once Christen disappeared out of view, driving off thinking that she was expecting a typical day in the office. Knowing, that when faced with one fire, there’s usually another one that follows.
But this fire that followed?
She was never prepared for it.
Chapter 9: Broken Promises
“Little bro, you’re growing up on me too fast!” Tobin springs forward to get her brother in a headlock, “Stop growing up!”
“Toby, you’re embarrassing me!” He laughed as he said it, squirming to get out of her strong hold.
“Gotta remind you that I’ll kick-ye-ass, aight?” She let go of him and he fixed his gown, grabbing the cap off the floor with attitude. It was all a rush of happiness, seeing her little brother speak as the valedictorian at his high school graduation, taking after the steps of his older sister at her old stomping grounds.
Or so, that was always what he said.
“Is this your way of coming to terms with the fact that I’m a better version of you?”
“NOWWW-now-let’s not get ahead of ourselves youngin,” Tobin pulled up her dress from both sides thinking how much she hated wearing these things. She never saw the point of them when she looked much better in skinny jeans and a tee with a snapback.
“Please, you went to UNC.”
Tobin rolled her eyes, “And won 2 championships? About to be the first pick in the NWSL draft?” Tobin pushed her brothers shoulder and laughed, “Get outta here.” He had his panties twisted in a wad, or so that was what Tobin thought, since he was getting a full ride to MIT.
The crazy thing is that at every one of Tobin’s sisters’ graduations, it stormed. They thought it was the heath curse, since at her very own graduation, it rained too. Now, it was pouring rain for Jeffrey Heath’s graduation.
They ran through the rain, deciding to split up from the family who drove in the same van that was thriving for many years ever since in Tobin’s own high school graduation.
“Listen, we need to change out of these clothes then I got to take you somewhere. You know, introduce you to the liiiife.”
“But we gotta go to dinner first with the fam.” He said in a hurry, drenching the seats of Tobin’s mustang wet from the rain.
“Dude.” Tobin frowned upon him in disdain, “I was going to put plastic for you.”
He looked at her with the same facial expression, mocking her and her need to keep her car free from any type of foreign molecule.
“Dude.” He imitated, “It’s leather.”
“You’re lucky it’s your high school graduation kid. But, I promise to show you around Jeffy and take good care of you.”
“Yea yea yea, whatever… Just drive.”
Tobin got out her car quickly, putting the leather jacket over her head as the rain poured and thunder roared. Despite the still-growing storm, she was humming the song that was playing on the radio. It was a great day, actually far better than what Tobin could have ever wished for. Waking up and wanting to stay in bed with what looks to be in Tobin's eyes, the most beautiful Angel on earth, wasn't something that Tobin was used to desiring.
She smiled to herself, kind of like a smirk, remembering the sounds that she had Christen making as she went lower and lower down her body. Kissing away the sweet, thin layer of sweat that formed after her third orgasm.
She missed the way her body would react to just a single touch, how her tongue was a weapon to Christen’s demise. Her body ached for more, ached to be in between Christen’s legs for longer. Every ounce of Tobin’s body willed itself to push forward into that fire department and not back to the hospital, so she could have made her sounds echo through new walls once more.
“Hiya champ!” Tobin jumped out of her trance in fear by the high-pitched sound of her best friend.
“How many times have I told you not to do that, Emily.”
Emily nudged Tobin’s shoulder and clicked her tongue, “Soooooo!!!”
Tobin walked faster towards the locker room in the back and replied looking to the right, “What.”
“Did you get your lovin’ on mista mista?” Emily jokingly said, laughing at what seems to be herself. Tobin rolled her eyes and took a right around the truck, “I don’t know what you’re ta…” Tobin froze in her steps but Emily kept walking, “You have this different vibe to ya… like you’ve finally had sex. It’s been awhile, yeah?”
Emily turned around to look back at Tobin who was staring right ahead, face growing paler by the second, frozen in her place. She followed Tobin’s eyes to one older lady, a younger woman, and a young man in a wheelchair.
“Hey, Toby.” Said the boy while holding his breath. Tension filled the entire space as Tobin could practically feel the tick of every second pass by ten times slower than normal. Tobin tried to speak as she could feel the tears well up in her eyes, remembering one of the pivotal moments that defined her life and led her to Chicago, Illinois.
“Hey… Jeffy.” She said, releasing her breath. He looked down in his lap and closed his eyes once he heard the nickname he thought he wouldn't ever hear again.
The firefighter felt her limbs grow numb while her mind began to process things very slowly. Things such as his hair, look of somber, of pain… He looked much older than when she last saw him. She could see the same age lines she has around his own eyes. The hair that once was ruffled now tamed to the side. He grew his beard the same way their father has over the years, looking much like him and less like the young boy she once knew.
Luckily, the announcer over the PA filled the silence in the air with an address her fire truck needed to go to. Like clockwork, she ran towards her fire truck, stepping out of her shoes and into her gear. All of her firemen came rushing by her side mirroring what she was doing. She threw on her jacket and didn’t button it closed, turning around to see her brother silently staring at her.
Tobin can see the abhorring look she received from her mother, typical, and the girl behind him stunned. But her brother in the wheelchair... she couldn’t read his ominous expression. Whether it was anger, disappointment, or something he figured his older sister would do.
The painful part for Tobin was knowing that third option was even an option.
All Tobin could give him was an apologetic look before she opened the door and signed the truck to go before jumping in.
The truck was silent the whole way to the famous DuSable bridge over the Chicago river. There was a mass of people gathered around a high pitched sound. Tobin stepped out of the moving vehicle and ran towards the scene, smelling burnt rubber the closer and closer she got to the scene.
She could hear a vehicle revving loudly and saw people filming the whole thing, “Out of the way people!”
She shoved her way to see what was going on, “Sweet Christmas…” The words were said effortlessly when she saw the sedan hanging halfway off the bridge tilted a little downwards. The only thing keeping it from falling off into the cold river was an old pickup truck that was barely hanging on. Somehow, the cars were latched together and the only thing that was keeping the smaller car from falling, was an old pickup truck and it’s rusted engine.
Usually within seconds, Tobin could tell how an accident happened. But this one particular accident involved four cars; there was no way she could tell what exactly happened. Her primary focus was getting the family out the car.
“Harris, Krieger, get the chains now!” She barked the orders hearing her two firemen sprint towards the truck. They grabbed the thick chains and hooked them onto the firetruck, running back towards the two cars.
“Hey buddy, I need you to hang tight and look at me, everything is going to be okay!!” She knocked on the window, looking at the frantic girl who was no more than 25. She had tears streaming down her eyes and a deathly grip on the steering wheel. She was in total shock, not able to look at Tobin but able to shake her head profusely as she stared straight ahead.
“Boss tell her to roll down the window,” Ali said without thinking clearly. Kyle and Ashlyn locked the chains on the car hanging off the bridge and ran back to reinforce the chains to the firetruck.
“She can’t, she can barely control her car…” Tobin said quickly looked at the tires tread, “There’s barely any left. She’s not going to last any longer. We need to get the family out. If she loses her tread, If that car drops—”
“Her car falls off right with the other.”
“I HAVE NO GAS!” The girl screamed through the glass, Tobin clearly hearing her through the sobs.
“THERE’S A FAMILY in there!” A bystander screamed at the firefighters to make them think quicker. For the first time, Tobin felt fear. This was beyond her control, “Captain, I need another truck. I need more men.”
“Negative, truck is handling a fire on the other side of the city.”
“Get another from a different firestation!”
“20 minutes out.”
Fuck. Twenty minutes and both cars are going down into the cold river.
“I need to get down there. Get me a rope.”
“But that’s dangerous, you can’t do—”
“Ashlyn, with me, I want EVERYONE on those chains.”
She was trying to ignore the fact that the second firetruck was occupied with a house fire, that they need more men. She needed to act on the spot, “I need that Ford to be locked down.”
Ali knew exactly what to do, running back to the truck until she heard a large scream from the crowd.
Ali reacted instinctively, dropping the rope and diving towards the chain to lock it down with her halligan, catching it just in the nick of time.
The Ford was pulled all the way back to the edge to the point that the back wheels were hanging halfway off the bridge. By the older car’s change in weight, the sedan began angling more downward towards the river.
Tobin was ready with the rope as well as Ashlyn, waiting and praying the situation doesn’t get worst. She was down to the candidate and Ashlyn, three holding down the loose chain while the other two locking fixed the undone chain.
“Ashlyn, I need to go down there!” She yelled over the rain and wind but Ashlyn refused the thought immediately.
“But Lieutenant, you can’t do this alone!”
Tobin gave her a stern look and jabbed her finger at the car that was near the brink of falling off, “If I don’t go down there, that family will die within minutes in the river.”
“Go.” Ashlyn said without hesitation after a few seconds. Part of the job was to think faster and put the other lives ahead of their own. Ashlyn grabbed the rope and triple tied it around her waist, wrapping it three times around her hand. Tobin hooked herself onto it and gave Ashlyn a trusting nod.
The rain made it hard for Tobin to see the lower she got towards the front of the sedan. She could see a wife and a husband frozen in fear with a baby in the back. She knocked on the drivers side of the vehicle, “Sir, look away!”
He nodded quickly and looked to his wife, shielding his face with his arm. Once the window was smashed, they screamed at Tobin to get the child first. But Tobin knew that with the weight of the car and the two people inside at the front of the car, getting the parents were the better odds.
“I need you to get into my arms right now, carefully. I will get your beautiful daughter!” She ordered and looked into the father’s eyes, “I swear by it.”
He nodded quickly and let go of the steering wheel, “I love you baby.”
He did a great job, swiftly getting out the window of the car. She could have chosen to open the door, but it was a risk with the wind hitting the door and possibly causing a change in momentum for the vehicle.
She chose the safer option, which was letting him through the window.
He hugged Tobin tightly as he maneuvered his lower body out the car, wrapping his legs around her as if she was a tree. She latched him onto the rope and screamed for Ashlyn to let her up. By now, she had the utmost trust in her crew to have secured the car and have more men at the rope. She was right, feeling her body get pulled up smoothly.
They were able to grab the man and pull him off of Tobin. She could see from behind that they hammered the thick bolts into the ground and hooked them onto the truck. The truck was now secure and the girl was huddled in the back of the paramedics truck, her eyes glued in the firefighter’s direction.
Tobin let herself be down again but quicker, seeing that the baby was still in the back. The mother looked at the firefighter, “I have to get her.”
“NO!” Tobin yelled through the rain, knowing that her movements can cause serious problems with her plan to save them all.
“I have to!” The mother yelled back as she took off her seatbelt.
“I got her!! Come to me, don't do it!”
The mother ignored Tobin and shifted her weight around to face the baby. The moment she used her feet on the dash to push herself off and into the back of the car, the whole car shifted down. It yanked her back hard and she caught herself by grabbing onto the two seats on either side of her.
“Tobin!” She heard Ali scream, signaling to Tobin that the truck was no longer latched to the sedan.
“Fucking COME TO ME NOW!” Tobin now opened the door, risking it all to get into the car itself. She grabbed her but the mother resisted, “Get my baby! Please!” She kept screaming at the firefighter over and over, hitting her even, but Tobin ignored her and her firefighters. After Tobin got the arms around her neck and hooked her onto the rope, she heard the car creak so loud, that it even scared her.
The chains weren’t strong enough to hold the car from shifting all it’s weight towards the river. She looked to her side as she slowly moved her body out the car, seeing the river as clear as it could get.
It was only a matter of time before the bolts that were drilled into the back of the car become completely undone because of the change in weight.
“LET ME UP!” Her firefighters let her up quicker this time. She looked at the bolts and her prediction was right. She felt the body be taken off of her as she watched in horror the bolts wiggle slowly out the car’s metal.
“Oh no…” She whispered while on the ledge of the bridge. Her breathing became more rapid, her mind blanking. She couldn’t think of anything but that baby, who wouldn’t make it a minute in the cold river.
And just before her eyes, she saw the car in freefall, headlights first heading right for the river.
Without a thought or any hesitation, she untied the knot that held her secure to the rope, took off her helmet, and stripped away her heavy lieutenant jacket. She grabbed her axe that laid on the ground, feeling her heart thrum against her ears.
“LIEUTENANT I ORDER YOU TO NOT JUMP IN!”
“BOSS DON’T DO IT!”
And with the adrenaline spiking, she dove right in, drowning out the sounds of her team and captain.
Not realizing, she could very well drown herself.
Her team leapt in action, sprinting towards the end of the bridge where the stairs to the famous walkways beside the river. Even though it was a river, the waves were strong because of the storm’s high winds and the water level that rose a few feet.
Tobin predicted that the water would be cold, but not this cold. Her body grew as numb as it did the moment she saw her brother. She was swimming with the car that went deeper into the river, trying to pull the door handle with both legs on either side of the door. But the pressure of the water disallowed any chances of that ever occurring.
She could feel her body begin to shut down and the small trickles of water fill her lungs. Her body was failing quickly but her mind willed her forward. There was too much in the world to lose, too much at stake.
The window, she then remembered.
But was it too late?
Please god, don't let it be too late, no no no no…
That was the one thing she kept repeating in her mind, swimming around to the opposite door of where the baby was. She wasn’t going to let the baby die like this.
Not like this.
She wasn’t going to break another promise.
Tobin swam as hard as she could around the car that has now reached the bottom of the river because of the glass she broke earlier.
But she wasn’t fast enough.
Tobin gasped for air, water flooding into her lungs as she weakly swam into the car.
Her breathing became shallow and her vision became distorted. It wasn’t blurry enough to see the baby trapped in her own carseat.
Her eyes were closed.
Her body was still.
And Tobin froze as she reached out for that tiny, innocent hand... Frozen, in the car as she stared at the sight she had wished she had never seen. Darkness began to close in on her vision, despite her widened eyes that were filled with despair as she stared and could no longer control her own gasps.
That was the last thing she saw before she lost consciousness, no longer able to feel the pain that surged through her entire body.
“…bin, stay with me, stay with me... We need more blankets, this isn’t working!” Emily screamed to her partner, “Fucking go!”
God no. I haven’t ever heard Emily this serious. This is bad.
And then she remembered what happened.
That was when the tears began rolling down the sides of her face, without Tobin’s authorization. Her eyes were closed, eyes that she could not open to the world. She didn’t want to face the world, not wanting to wake up. She shivered in pain, but unable to move. Her body was still so cold, but her mind was there. She could hear her surroundings, but not move her body.
It was as if she was trapped in a void, a void between reality, the nightmare, and the other side. Her memory of that baby girl haunted her already, thinking of every possibility that could have stopped everything from going wrong.
What if I had grabbed the baby first?
What if I had just let her mother get the baby too?
Was I too arrogant, naïve to think that I could save every soul out there?
Was this a momentary lapse of judgement to avoid losing two lives, because she lost Ali?
That, she didn’t want to take a risk and think that she could be fast enough to give the woman to her crew and get to the baby before the situation worsened?
It’s my fault…
It’s all my fault…
Just let me die.
I deserve it.
And she lost consciousness once again.
“GET HER out of here!”
“God Tobin, don’t leave me. Fight for me, please!”
“I got her, I swear Chris, I won’t let her go.”
Tobin attempted once again to open her eyes. This time, she was in a hospital bed. By her side, was Christen sound asleep, her head laid next to the hand she held on so tightly to. Tobin gulped thickly, “Chris?”
Christen jumped up at the sound of Tobin’s voice, “Baby oh my god, I love you so much.” She gave her a strong kiss and rested her forehead on Tobins, “I… I was so scared you wouldn’t wake up.”
Tobin felt the pain that she had felt before she had lost consciousness, tears streaming down her face again.
“I lost her.”
“I know baby, I know…” For once, Christen didn’t know what to say.
“I lost her. I thought I…I thought…”
“You did the best you could.”
“I should’ve gotten her, I…I…” Tobin broke down into sobs, holding onto Christen as if she was the last thread of life that was left in her. She clung onto her tightly for hope, hope that she could feel better.
Christen shifted and laid down into the bed with her, hugging her closely as she let her girlfriend cry into her chest.
“Just make it stop… First Ali? Now this…” She pleaded, not to Christen, but to god.
Suddenly, she felt that doubt if he was out there listening to her, wanting to listen to her.
Never, has Tobin questioned her faith. Faith, in god.
But this one time… this one time, where she needed him most.
He wasn't there.
She cried as she drifted into sleep yet again, still praying to god to just take the pain away.
She woke up to Emily in Christen’s chair.
“You’re awake! Guys, get in here!” Emily jumped out her seat whilst calling for the others to come in. They all came rushing in, “Boss man!”
Tobin wasn’t going to lie, their presence made her feel happy again.
“Hey guys…” She smiled weakly, “Holding down the fort for me?”
“OfCOOOOURSE!” Ali exclaimed, “The new lieutenant is awesome.” Kyle shoulder bumped his sister’s arm aggressively and gave her a daunting look.
“New Lieutenant? How long have I… been out?”
It was Ashlyn’s turn to answer, “A week and a half.”
She remembered her brother and her mom. She remembered that they were here but she never got to speak with them. Tobin was never able to speak with her brother.
Are they still here?
Do they know?
Tobin gulped, “Did anyone strange stop by and ask about me?”
Ali picked at her nails while she answered, “Well, yeah… A couple of times I checked on you, there was an older lady in your room. I was told that I couldn’t enter the room but, I think she spoke with the crazy cat lady.”
“And crazy cat lady, where is she? Emily?” She looked at Emily for an answer who clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes, “I guess I’ll go get her.”
“I’m just glad you’re awake Boss.”
“Me too.” Tobin lied.
The captain walked into the room, “Can I get a moment with your lieutenant.”
The firemen nodded and all hugged Tobin or patted her leg before leaving the room. Silence overwhelmed the air, neither of them speaking. Tobin had a feeling what this was going to be about.
“Tobin, I’m glad you’re awake…” He pulled up the chair and sat next to her. Clasping his hands shut, the captain tried to speak but didn’t know where to begin.
“You’re an amazing--“
Tobin sighed and closed her eyes letting her head fall on the pillow, “Don’t… Please.”
“You are. This was one--“
“Life I just couldn’t save, that was out of my control… Except that it was. But respectfully captain, spare me the intellect.” The captain could sense the anger that coursed through her veins, the rage of fury behind the words she had just spoken.
He understood her pain because he himself, has lost a dozen more in his thirty years as a firefighter.
“You need to learn how to forgive yourself or this job will consume your life Tobin...” He looked down while he said it while rubbing his knuckles, “It’ll take you down a dark road—”
“Why are you here?” Tobin interrupted, glaring at him through her fiery eyes, “Is there something you need to tell me? If not, I’m tired and would like to rest.”
He looked back up at her, “Yes. As a matter of fact, I do.”
Tobin rolled her eyes and looked away, “What is it?”
“You’re under pending review, Tobin.” The lieutenant whipped her head back to her captain, “Now before you say anything, I know. I’m fighting it, I really am.”
“I tried the best I could.”
“I know… It’s the family. There’s a case being built against you.”
“ME? I, I… I have a perfect record. This is the first one since…” Her voice faltered and disappeared before she finished the sentence. She closed her eyes and rubbing the palms of her hands on her forehead, “What do I have to do?”
“Until this is all over,” He got up and put his jacket on continuing to tell her his words of advice, “Don’t say a word. Do not, and I mean, do NOT Tobin, go see the parents.”
“I tried, I really tried the best I could, Captain.” Tobin whispered, “I tried.”
“I know Tobin, hell you dove into a river after her. That alone, says something. Sometimes, the best of us fall.”
She closed her eyes tightly to avoid the tears that started forming around the brim of her eyes, hearing his strong voice once more.
“It’s up to us how we rise back up. Whether we let the darkness consume us, or find our light again.”
Tobin didn’t say anything. He waited for a moment, hoping that Tobin would say something, but she didn’t. So, he took the silence as his queue to leave. She peered out the window, seeing that it was raining again. She looked away shutting her eyes tightly but still heard the flurry of rain patter softly against the window; the sound alone made the painful memories rush back in once again. However, she opened her eyes when she heard a small knock on the open door and there she was...
Christen, standing at the doorway in her scrubs and her hair tied back.
Tobin smiled softly at the sight that still took her breath away, “Hey, beautiful.”
It was insane that even in this time of despair, somehow Christen’s presence made her feel safe. As if, she had nothing to worry about in this world.
Yet, she had everything to worry about.
Especially, with Christen’s lack of an affectionate response.
“What’s wrong?” Tobin whispered, knitting her eyebrows together in response to Christen’s silence.
Not you too…
Christen sat down in the seat looking down into her lap. Somehow, the look in Christen’s eyes made Tobin feel like after everything the captain told her, that should be the least of her concerns.
And then she remembered Ali saying something about Christen speaking with a strange, older lady.
That older lady, happened to be her mom.
“I was going to tell you.” Tobin said silently breaking the complete absence of sound within the room.
Christen stared at her begging for a better answer, “That you haven’t spoken to your family in nearly six years?”
Suddenly, Tobin felt anger and defensive out of nowhere. Anger, that she thought she could never feel with someone like Christen.
Before she knew it, her guard was up.
Against, the one girl who someone could actually pass for an angel sent from above.
“How is that any of your business, huh?”
The sharp yet bitter response took Christen aback, along with her breath. The words stunned her, making her incapable of saying anything back.
That was when Tobin knew she messed up.
“I’m your girlfriend. These things… are and should be my business.”
“I know, I’m sorry...”
Christen got up and itched above her eyebrow, “Were you ever going to tell me?”
Tobin hesitated, trying to say the words, yes ofcourse… but, nothing came out.
Chapter 10: Promises to Hold onto Forever
“My little brother is MIT BOUND BITCHESSS!” Tobin yelled out to the crowd at the house party on campus holding up two bottles of crown. They all cheered him on as he stood next to Tobin awkwardly laughing as he avoided eye contact with everyone in the crowd.
He itched behind his ear and leaned in close to Tobin, “I don’t feel right being here.”
“WHAT!” Tobin screamed over the music, covering the other ear with her finger.
“I don’t feel RIGHT BEING HERE!” Jeffrey screamed above the music near her ear. Tobin laughed and handed him a drink, “Time to get you right then little brother!”
Jeffrey looked at the bottle with confusion, taking a large swig from his first drink ever. He coughed after forcing the gulp down, bracing himself as the liquid burned down his throat.
“It’s disgusting.” He said shaking his head, turning to look at the college students dancing away in the summer house party. His eyes met with a particular blonde who danced like there was no care in the world and suddenly, he turned to his sister feeling his neck on fire.
He took another gulp of the drink without really understanding why as he looked back and saw her approaching him, “Tobs she’s coming, she’s coming.” He was hitting his sister to look where he was looking, “Help.”
“Oh- you are on your own little brother. Be yourself, and you’ll land any girl in this room.”
Tobin walked away towards one girl she’s been eyeing in the crowd for awhile. She turned back around, seeing the sun-kissed girl in a white sundress introduce herself to her little brother. He put the drink on the table next to him and held his hand out. She smiled at the interaction, thinking to herself how lucky she is to be his older sister.
“I’m Jeff...Jeffrey, well Jeff. Oh god...” She took his hand and shook it slowly as she smiled warmly at him, “Rebecca.”
He felt his heartbeat quicken like a teenager in love once he felt her hand in his, “So uh… what are you in school for? Well, what year?”
“Well I’m about to start my first year, I’m just here with my sister. Computer science, what about you?”
“Double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics.”
“Wow, so I’m talking to the next Bill Gates?”
“Nah, just Jeffrey Heath.” He smiled to himself, looking up to see the girl looking at his smile.
“Alright Jeffrey Heath, trick question, what’s 0.0 divided by 0.0 in a CPU?”
The answer made her smile and at that very moment, Jeffrey saw a future with this girl. He didn’t know how, but he felt it deep in his very heart. It was the most beautiful smile he’s ever seen, paired with the most beautiful green eyes with the slightest squint.
He stared at her smile and laughed looking away, thinking to himself, I’m going to marry this girl.
8:28 A.M. One hour and thirty two more minutes.
Tobin stared at the wall that stared back at her with a blank expression, like the mirror reflection of Tobin’s unfaltering expression. Her mind recounted the moments of a summer night, the moments before her brother ended up paralyzed. She absentmindedly watched the little hand of the clock mounted on the wall move little by little as time passed by with that along with the air conditioning in her dark apartment being the only sound Tobin hears.
It’s been three weeks since she’s seen Christen.
Three of the most dreadful weeks of her life.
She hid in the darkness of her own home, captured and imprisoned by the ongoing war battled inside her own mind. She pulled out her phone and sifted through the conversation between her and Christen days after her encounter at the hospital.
Fri, Oct 12, 7:34 P.M
Tobin : Babe…
Tobin : Please answer my phone calls, I’m so sorry for everything.
Tobin : You deserve the full truth. It’s just hard…
Friday, 11:34 PM
Tobin : Chris I need you. Please come over.
Saturday, 4:00 AM
Chris : Good morning, I need more time…
Today, 1:13 PM
Tobin : Okay, hope your early shift isn’t too hard on you.
Tue, Oct 16 1:32 P.M
Tobin : I don’t know how to do this anymore. Talk my feelings out.
Tobin : Just give me a chance baby.
Chris : I need time, just stop please.
Tobin : Let me just explain.
Chris : I’ll text you when I’m ready.
Tobin drummed the side of her phone biting her lip. It’s been exactly sixteen days since Christen last texted her. She contemplated whether or not to send a text or if she was even a part of Christen’s life anymore.
If she was getting another chance.
However, she knew she would not be able to get through the most important day of her career if she wasn’t in the room with her.
“Oh-what the hell…” She sighed out drinking the rest of her coffee and put the empty mug down on the table in front of her.
Today, 8:40 A.M
Tobin : I know you said you’ll text me, but I just wanted to let you know that today is the last day of the trial. I just want to hear your voice, know you’re okay. Seeing you there will help me get through this.
Tobin : I’ll tell you everything.
Tobin : Please, I need you there.
She kept looking at her phone, shaking her leg profusely as her lawyers went through the entire case and Tobin’s closing statement. Truth be told, she didn’t listen to a damn word because she just wanted to see and hear from one person only.
Christen was the only one in this world that could stop her from losing herself and to the battle that raged in her mind. She sat in the office and waited as the time ticked closer and closer to the time where the final day of the trial will begin.
It felt like she was on a murder trial, a crucial and pivotal week of her life that dictates whether or not she can continue being the firefighter the is.
“…be sympathetic, speak to the parents showing regret and…Tobin are you even with us?”
“Sure. Regret, got it. Are we done here?”
She already knew what to say.
And it was definitely not displaying any sort of regret towards the decision she made.
“As everyone knows, Ms. Heath has caused irreparable pain to a family that will always be a part of them, carried inside of them. Why, one may ask. Why does this person...” He turned to Tobin who had her jaws clenched shut at the closing statement to stop herself from interrupting, “Deserve to wear that badge again when she let her arrogance cloud her own judgement. Not to mention that same arrogance that caused her own brother to never walk again?”
Son of a bitch.
The crowd gasped, and she started hearing the murmurs begin at the sound of the new information that emerged in his closing statement.
Stay calm, stay calm. The firefighter repeated the mantra in her head until she saw that vicious smirk that the lawyer gave her before he turned back to look at the judge.
She bit her top lip and started nodded slowly as she backed her chair up slowly, fuck this. Tobin was about to get up and lunge over the table to shut him up for good until she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned with her eyes filled with anger and a venomous look to see her mom leaning forward, smiling softly at her.
“It’s okay baby.”
Tobin’s chest tightened, and tears brimmed her eyes with her voice breaking, “Mom.”
“He’s just trying to break you.” She whispered, “Your heart, let it speak.”
She gulped and licked her lips nervously nodding in agreement. She was about to turn until she saw the familiar curly hair in the back row. Her heart skipped multiple beats, seeing the grey eyes focused only on her.
Tobin smiled softly at her, mouthing the words thank you. Christen gave her a reassuring smile, you got this.
She felt the life slowly seep back into her, that voice that was once antagonizing her is now incoherent. Her chest that was now tight no longer felt like the weight of the world was on it.
Tobin wasn’t going to back down.
Or let him break her.
Or mess with her image.
The family’s lawyer walked in front of the audience and turned back to the judge, “She doesn’t deserve to wear that badge again when she let her arrogance cloud her judgement,” He sneered looking back at her and pointed at the family too, “Tell me how many others should suffer at the hands of this firefighter? We need to put an end to this. Thank you.”
This is it.
All in or nothing.
She looked back at her mom and smiled softly, “Thank you for being here.”
Truth be told, she needed her mom there too.
She got up and buttoned up her uniform's jacket, fixing the large number of medals with different colors signifying different achievements as a firefighter.
Her heart pounded through her ears despite how calm she feels with Christen and her mother being there. Tobin walked around and looked directly at the parents.
They were frozen in time and for Tobin, it was as if it were just the three of them inside that courtroom.
Here we go.
“Mr. and Mrs. Cooper,” She gave them a warm, soft smile, “I want to tell you a little about myself.”
“We don’t want to hear it.” The mother said.
“Just give me a chance.” Tobin pleaded, “Please.”
The grieving mother looked to the side, staring at her husband but he gave her a reassuring look, telling his wife that it’s okay.
Just let her speak, he whispered, turning to look at Tobin to give her a small nod of approval. And so, Tobin began.
“I’ve lost my best friend to a fire. And… although it happened a while ago, it feels like yesterday every day. I carry that weight with me every day when I put on the uniform. Every day, when I put on her helmet.”
She looked down and bit her lip shaking her head, “Every day I ask myself what could I have done differently? What if she never pushed me out the way of the beam that fell on her instead of me?”
The mom started sobbing with her body shaking and Tobin inched forward, extending her hand out to the mother and she pulled away just a little.
“Please just, just bear with me...” Tears started to stream down her face but Tobin’s voice remained strong, “I remember every day when those questions rise, I would remind myself of the promise she made me vow to her... that I would never blame myself. And I made a promise to myself that day that I would never lose someone again, not on my watch.”
The mother now let herself be touched by the firefighter that couldn’t save her kid’s life, and the firefighter felt the shakes beneath her hand.
So, Tobin held up the front and remained strong under pressure as she dedicated this statement to them, “It doesn’t go away. The pain stays, we learn to live with it. The anger towards the world, you have no choice but to tame it… You never stop missing the memories and it'll break you, but over time you learn to cherish them to heal you. The what if’s come along, you start wishing it was you instead of her.”
“Wh… Why are you telling me this?” Ms. Cooper whispered weakly with a beseeching look in her eyes.
“Because I know what you feel… I’ve lost too. But to move forward, I asked myself is that what she would want? I had to learn to live with the pain of losing the one person that helped build me back up, d-dedicate my life to her cause-and-live in her memory and up to her expectations," The firefighter looked down and whispered, "Since then, I have never lost anyone to any type of fire or accident.”
The mom pulled away, “What, do you want some type of reward?”
“No, far from it…” She looked back up immediately at the response, feeling the pain rush in as she recounted the moments inside the cold river, “I-I dove… into that water believing-you know-believing… in myself and-and the promise I made as a firefighter-as-a friend-and…to, myself,” She crouched in front of the long, slender table and looked into the eyes of the father, “That I would save each and every one of you.”
Her voice began to break as she willed herself to continue, “Even, even at the cost of my own life. And… And I have to live with losing her too. I’m sorry, I truly am. I don’t care about this trial or this badge or the closing statement or speaking to anyone else but you two… so long as you two know that…”
Tobin wiped away the tears and sniffled, “I tried my hardest. And I…I wish it was me too. I’m so sorry. I really am.”
“Fuck I wish it was me.” She cried out, pulling away to look at the judge with a pained expression, “Thank you, Judge.”
She found a spot in the corner away from the public’s eye while waiting for the verdict to come around with her mom.
After a long embrace, Tobin pulled back and looked around scanning the hall, “Where’s Jeff?”
“He went back home…” She smiled weakly, “He had to go back for his company. But, he should be here soon.”
“Company? Wow… I guess I missed out on a lot.” She winced at her own comment and itched the back of her head, “I’m sorry…”
“No sweetie…” She gave her arm a reassuring squeeze, “Six years, but there’s still a lifetime ahead of us to catch up.”
Tobin grimaced, “Did I let him down?”
“No-no you didn’t… you know little Jeff, he’s understanding.”
“I don’t know… how to face him.” Tobin looked down, “I saw him and, I didn’t… I ran.”
In firefighting, she was trained to run into the fight, never back down from one. But when it came to family, Tobin Heath couldn’t face this specific fire.
“One step at a time.”
“Yeah, baby steps… Where's dad?” Tobin said with high hopes. However, the sudden change in mood with her mom gave her a good enough answer to turn away.
"Baby, he's not here, he--"
"Ma I should've known," Tobin interrupted her with a small wave of her hand, "It's cool."
I should've known.
"Can we please talk about it?"
Talk about what exactly?
How he's never been a part of my personal life to begin with?
Tobin turned to watch the early snow fall onto the city’s sidewalk with her mom through the tall window when she felt a tap at her shoulder. She turned around to see Christen in front of her, immediately bowing her head down to look at the floor, “Chris I’m…”
“Christen! What are you doing here?” Ms. Heath interrupted with a bright smile, “Waaait…. don’t tell me this is your girlfriend?”
Tobin looked at Christen, letting her answer because she was not sure anymore if they were an item after what was said.
“Yes ma’am, I’m the lucky one to have her.”
Oh no… I am.
“I knew it!" She cheered on happily, "Well I am so happy that my daughter isn’t alone in this big city.”
“What,” She said rolling her eyes, “I’m just saying, you’re my--”
Tobin cut her off before she finished that sentence, “I’m grown ma…”
“You’ll always be my little Tobinho.” Her mom finished.
Christen looked at Tobin quizzically at the nickname and Tobin wanted to jump out the window.
“Well I’ll let you two lovebirds catch up. It was a pleasure seeing you, Christen.”
“Pleasure’s all mine ma’am, I hope we can have dinner some time.”
“Well, I’ll be in the city for one more week. We’ll do something then.” Ms. Heath gave Tobin a hug and Christen an even bigger one.
"Tobinho?" Christen smiled but Tobin looked down defeated, unable to look at the beautiful girl in front of her.
“Yeah Tobin plus Ronaldinho," Tobin whispered, "I’m so sorry…”
"Not now..." Christen shushed her and picked her chin up, looking into the innocent caramel eyes that she fell in love with, “Just… kiss me.”
Tobin shook her head now avoiding eye contact, “No, I-I don’t deserve—”
“Stop,” Christen smiled weakly and pulled Tobin in closer, giving her a small, yet meaningful kiss filled with hope. She rested her forehead on Tobin’s and spoke up, “What you said up there…that took courage.”
“I don’t know…”
Both of Christen’s hands were now on Tobin’s neck and smiled at her, “Tobin it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I’m… so sorry.”
“For what?” Tobin frowned, “I, I-hurt you, if anything I’m the one that’s sorry…”
“I left you alone in the time where you needed me most. I promise you that I will never do that again, Lieutenant.”
Tobin’s hands went up and down Christen’s back before settling at her waist, “Call me Lieutenant one more time but in bed after all this is over?”
“Oh my god Tobin.” Christen tried to wiggle out but Tobin held on, “Tobin! Not funny! Way to spoil the moment...”
“Too soon?” Tobin’s head lulled back as she laughed hard, “You know, in all seriousness…” Tobin’s smiled never faded as she pushed the loose strands of Christen’s hair behind her ear, “Despite all of this, seeing you again… it made me realize you’re the only thing in my life that I want to be forever.”
She leaned forward to kiss her girlfriend, "I never want to lose you."
Christen smiled and locked her hands behind Tobin’s neck, “You’re such a sap, Lieutenant.”
“In bed, remember?” Tobin said with a wink.
“Oh my god, I hate you.” She managed to break loose and hit Tobin’s shoulder, who pretended it actually hurt.
“Babe, that was my hurt shoulder…” She rubbed the spot and lowered her gaze, hearing Christen immediately apologize whilst checking on the shoulder she hit, “Nah I’m just playin’.”
“Asshole.” Christen hit it again but this time, it was more of a shove.
“Ow… Crazy lady.”
“Call me crazy one more time.” Christen warned with eyebrows raised and a finger pointed in Tobin’s face.
“Crazy.” Tobin stopped on purpose when she saw Christen's head tilt to the right as a warning sign with furrowed eyebrows.
My little wolf.
Tobin giggled stealing a kiss as she finished her phrase, “In.”
"Love," She whispered when she cupped the nurse’s cheek with her eyes shifting from Christen’s lips and back up to those grey-blue eyes, “With you.”
Tobin smiled as she leaned just a little close but right before her lips met with Christen’s, she made her a promise she was never intending to break.
A promise she will hold onto forever.
“I promise I will never hold back anything from you again and tell you everything, crazy lady.”
Christen was staring at her lips when she said the words, “Kiss me.”
Tobin obliged, licking her lips slowly before giving her an intimate kiss, breathing deeply in reaction to the warmth that spread through her entire body in shockwaves when she felt Christen’s tongue challenge for a deeper kiss. She felt Christen’s hips press forward in reaction to the sweetness of Tobin’s tongue skillfully moving against her own, craving the friction. Tobin broke away from the kiss when she heard the PA echo over the halls, “Court will be proceed in five minutes.”
Christen saw the color drain from Tobin’s face, “Baby, everything will be alright.”
“How do you know that?” Tobin felt the tears well up again, rebelling against her strong fight to keep them at bay.
“I just know.”
Christen smiled, “I promise.”
Tobin sat back down in the chair she resented since the first day, keeping her head down. She felt the eyes of the mother piercing through the side of her head. The firefighter felt fear to meet the mother’s gaze because of the unknown.
Maybe it was a mixture of guilt, shame, and fear.
It wasn’t fear that she would lose a job, no. Rather, lose the only job that she could remember Allie by day by day.
It wasn’t the type of shame that comes with not doing enough. Tobin now knew she did her best. It was shame that she let someone, more specifically these parents, experience the feelings she felt when she lost Allie. She vowed to herself that no one will ever die on her watch so that no one will ever feel the rippling pain of losing someone.
Guilty, for not saving that baby’s life.
It was an image that will be forever imprinted in her mind.
The judge walked in and everyone got up.
He sat back down and hit his gavel on the block, signaling that court is now in session.
“Tobin Heath, after a long trial…” He sighed, signed something and went quiet.
Tobin held her breath.
The whole court was quiet.
She looked at her firemen that were now standing on their feet, holding hands. Tobin smiled at them and saw Christen biting her nail with a look of worry on her face with Tobin’s mother next to her.
I love you, Tobin mouthed those words forgetting the world that seemed as though it's on the verge of crashing down. But Tobin knew deep down, that with Christen by her side, everything will be okay.
Christen smiled as she wiped a tear that escaped off her cheek, I love you more.
I’m going to marry this girl one day.
She turned back to look at the judge.
Here we go.
“The parents decided to drop all charges. Court, is now adjourned.”
He hit the gavel once more and the whole court erupted in cheers. Tobin finally released that breath as she was also taken aback, feeling her legs go weak underneath her and the ground shake.
Tobin sat down and now looked at the mother, no longer feeling that fear.
Thank you, was what the grieving mother said.
“No, thank you.” Tobin let out with an exasperated sigh, watching the parents leave the courtroom. Once they left, Tobin turned to her firefighter family who gave her a hug one by one.
“I knew you weren’t leaving us!” Ali said giving her lieutenant another tight hug.
“Yeah yeah… go do your jobs yeah?” Tobin gave her first order back and the firemen rolled their eyes.
“Yes ma’am…” They mumbled walking off one by one. Tobin turned to look at Christen and her mom.
“I told you.” Christen’s radiant smile appeared and gave her girlfriend a strong hug, “You have a visitor.”
Tobin looked at her mom who moved to the side, baby steps.
There he was, in the same wheelchair with the same woman behind him.
Same hair tamed to the side. Same beard, that was well kept and soft like her father's own.
However, the look on his face told a different story than the last time she saw him.
Tobin froze again, unable to say the first words.
“Hey Toby.” He quietly said, with that same awkward smile that Tobin remembered from years back.
This time, she didn’t run.
This time, she didn’t look away.
Chapter 11: Judgement Call
They went to a coffee shop five blocks up of Chinatown, on the corner of west and sixteenth street. Hours passed of the both of them catching up on the small things. It was a lot easier than I expected, Tobin thought to herself as she looked out the window of the café quietly, realizing it was getting dark and snowing harder.
“So… Rebecca huh?” Tobin cleared her throat when she glanced over in his wife’s direction, seeing her worried eyes loom over Tobin’s interaction with her husband. Jeff laughed and looked at her, sending a warm smile her way, “Yeah… She stuck by my side since day one.”
He looked down, remembering what happened so many years ago that altered his life in a permanent way. Tobin knows that look and tried her best to avert the elephant in the room, “So a company!? Little brother I knew you had it in you to be great!”
“Yeah-yeah I turned out alright. I had you to look up to.”
Tobin didn’t know whether or not to take that as a joke but she felt the guilt rush in regardless with all the years that passed with no call from her end.
“Wait no! I didn’t…” Jeff sighed, “I didn’t mean it like that. I’ve been keeping an eye on you.”
Tobin relaxed and laughed, “Stalker.”
“Seriously Tobs,” He laughed and looked at her with earnest eyes, “You saving all those lives, doing what you do… it inspired me to do the same.”
Jeffrey explained to her what his algorithm that landed him millions does. He dropped out of MIT to pursue his idea of innovation.
“Jeffy, you don’t have a degree?” Tobin looked up at the ceiling, “God, who knew I would be better than this nerd in something?”
“Oh-stop being dramatic.”
“I have a degree and my genius brother doesn’t……” She pondered, making Jeff laugh hard again.
“You don’t need a degree to be great.”
Then she remembered he has millions, and she doesn’t.
“Yeah-I’ll stop.” Tobin sighed dramatically and joined the laughter, “No but seriously, what exactly does your app do? Just not in nerd language like the last explanation you told me.”
He rolled his eyes, “It’s for people with disabilities. It originally was for people who have Amblyopia.”
“Long story short it’s decreased vision, more times it leads to blindness in one eye.”
“Okay genius, continue.” Tobin had no idea what he was saying but talking to him again like they used to… it made her feel ten times lighter.
“My app, it uses a predictive machine that learns other algorithms to increase the effectiveness of treatment. My goal was to make the treatment process more efficient and effective for doctors. It started with that disease, something that requires ongoing, consistent treatment.”
She could see the passion in his eyes as he spoke more in depth of how it all started disappearing when he emphasized consistency in treatment.
“Why?” Tobin said in a serene voice.
“Well… I know how it feels to lose after fighting so long to get better. A lot of the people with this disease, they give up and live with it. I wanted faster progress for ‘em.”
Her little brother, not so little.
Instead of helping himself, he helped others.
Tobin realized that was exactly the way she’s lived since…
Him and Allie.
They were more alike than she could think.
There was a silence between them.
He broke the silence, looking at her with the same guilt that Tobin has carried around for years.
Tobin played dumb taking a sip of her now cold coffee, “Why what?”
“Why’d you do it?”
She tried her best to avoid the elephant in the room all day.
“It was my fault.”
“No, I was the one that was driving.”
Tobin sprinted through the doors to exit onto the porch of the house by the lake, seeing her car cranked up.
“JEFF!” She screamed out, “Get out of the car RIGHT NOW!”
Jeff was in the drivers seat, with a frantic Rebeca right next to him trying to calm him down. He revved the loud engine twice, “So this is why dad likes you so much?”
“Huh-Jeff stop, it’s not what you think.” Tobin cried out, edging closer and closer to her car with her arm out, “Just turn it off, yeah?”
“I’m the nerd…” He slurred, “And you’re the rockstar-r-r… toBIN HEATH! Life of the Party, future Hermann trophy winner. Future star… I’m the nerd.”
He points at himself and stares into the distance. Tobin mouthed the words get out of the car to Rebecca. She nodded in fear; fear that the boy she just met may hurt himself.
“That’s not true, I’m jealous of you!”
“Ohhhh-don’t, don’t give me that bullshit!” He screamed out.
“It’s TRUE!” Tobin cried out, distracting him as Rebecca got out the car. Her heart was thumping against her chest, hearing her brother’s agony all for what?
The drinking, partying… all of it was a way for her to escape.
“This, all of this,” She held out her arms laughing as she cried out the truth, forgetting all about the audience, “It’s a way for me to escape him, he made me hate the one thing that I felt like I was born to do.”
Soccer became a routine for her, no longer a passion.
All because of her father.
She was the person her father decided to abuse.
All the times he would emotionally break her… she never wanted that for her brother. She envied the life her little brother lived, happy that he didn’t go down this track and followed his dreams.
Tobin was happy her father chose her and not him.
Even if it meant hating soccer.
He got quiet, both hands gripping the steering wheel hard. Tobin saw this as an opportunity to sprint the rest of the distance to the car. He saw her do it and she could see the fury in his eyes spark back up. Tobin slid across the hood of her car and quickly opened the door.
Her brother took off as she was getting in, “ARE YOU CRAZY!”
“I knew you were lying!” Jeff screamed at her as he pushed up to 60 in seconds. Tobin put her seatbelt on, “PULL THE FUCK OVER NOW!”
“All my life I worked for his approval. And-and, MIT… he laughed.” He started crying as he pushed up to 70, “Said why can’t you just be like your sister and not this… nerd.”
Tobin held on to the dashboard car, “Slow down-slow down, Jeffrey…” She saw the winding road ahead, ground still wet from the Carolina rain.
“Fuck you.” He turned to look at her, Tobin’s eyes widened in horror, “JEFF SLOW DOWN!”
He looked back and squinted his eyes, unable to see clearly.
When he saw the bend in the road, it was too late.
It all happened in a matter of seconds.
Her heartbeat pounded through her ears, drowning out the sounds of her brother’s anguished fears and the car’s loud engine.
He broke hard, turning the wheel as far right as he could. Even though he slammed on his breaks, the car was skidding out of control in the slippery, rocky ground underneath. The ground was still wet and Jeff lost control of the wheel.
Upon increasing levels of threats, animals activate different defensive modes, freezing and active fight or flight reactions. Freezing; a state of parasympathetic dominance.
Freezing, also known to increase Heart-rate pressure, cardiac output, increased muscle tone, and pain suppression.
Freezing… also, known as Paralysis.
She saw the large, slanted rock that they were approaching fast. Tobin tried to avoid it once she saw it, turning the steering wheel to the left as fast as she could.
But, the right tire didn’t make it.
She could feel her side lift up and the car was now sideways.
She looked at him, unable to move her body, and saw him reach for his seatbelt.
But, it was too late.
It was all too late.
He looked at her one last time silently.
And that was a look of fear that Tobin would never forget.
A painful, piercing sound was all she could hear when she woke up at the crash site. Her vision was distorted from the blood that ran down her face from a large gash on her forehead.
Her body slowly gave her warning signals, pain starting to radiate in her shoulder and her chest.
“Fuck…” She tried to hit her door with her shoulder hoping to pry it open but the pain heightened on a much larger magnitude in just her shoulder, making her scream out in pain.
“FUCK!” She looked at the driver’s seat but couldn’t see clearly from the blood and blurred vision, “Jeff, talk to me.”
It hurt for her to talk but she needed to get her brother out of the car. She wiped her eyes with her short sleeved tshirt that was already soaked with blood from another injury near elbow. She could see her bone with how deep the cut was, “Oh god…” Her heart began to beat harder, adrenaline kicking through her system as she sees the state she is in. She looked again at the driver’s seat, “Jeff, we gotta…” She squeezed her eyes shut, please don’t be true, and opened them again, “Jeff?”
He wasn’t in the car.
“Oh my god, JEFF!” She screamed out. It hit her that she was upside down.
The car was flipped over.
And my brother is missing.
“JEFF!” She kept yelling out as she released the seatbeat, dropping her to the ground immediately.
She felt the impact, but didn’t feel any pain.
Fight or flight; a state of Sympathetic dominance. Also, known as a survival mechanism.
A hyper-aroused state where chemicals are secreted in response to trauma, causes pain to be experienced with far less intensity.
The adrenaline kicked into Tobin fast, itching to find and take care of her brother.
Tobin looked at the windshield and saw the gaping hole on Jeff’s side. Tears rolled down her face, my brother’s not dead.
She kept repeating it over and over as she kept kicking the windshield with all her might.
With one final kick, the windshield came apart at the top. It gave her enough power to launch one more kick to have one side completely torn from the car.
This was enough for Tobin to maneuver her little body out of the car that was smoking. The heat of the engine touched her skin, giving her notice of how recent the accident just happened.
It hasn’t been hours.
The rain started to pour down again, clearing the sticky, dried up blood off her face. She called out for Jeff, running around the crash site, trying to find her little brother.
“Jeff! Please say something!” Tobin started crying and the lightning lit up the sky. It was as though God wanted to help her.
He wanted her to find her little brother.
And she did.
Thunder roared through the sky, drowning her shrill scream when she saw her brother’s body lying there, still.
“JEFF!” She sprinted towards him and slid next his body, “God please, please… Jeff, wake up. Wake up!”
He opened his eyes slowly, “Tobs…I…I’m sorry.”
“No-No-No d-don’t apologize, just get through this. I need you to help me though okay?”
He nodded weakly and she continued, “I need you to help me by getting up with me and walking to the edge of the road, ok? I’ll help you.”
“Ok…Ok.” He lied on his back and Tobin helped his upper body up, hooking his arm over her hurt shoulder, “Okay, on my go. You can do this Jeffy… Just get through this.”
He nodded and she continued again, “Go.”
She tried to get up but pain seared through her shoulder, the weight of her brother pulled her weak body down.
“I said go-what’s going on?” Tobin looked at her brother who was clearly crying, “Jeff…?”
“I-I…I can’t feel my legs.” The shock hit him like a freight train, “I can’t feel my legs.”
Helpless and powerless, Tobin held onto him in the pouring rain wishing she could take his pain away.
But, she couldn't.
Two weeks passed with endless hospital visits to see her younger brother.
Tobin watched her brother sleep in his room. As the doctor explained to her a week ago after the surgery, the nerves were too damaged and unrepairable. They had to put him in an induced coma for his body to heal after so much stress.
The chances of him walking again were less than 5 percent.
Those were the words that the doctor told her that day of the surgery.
She avoided her parents as much as she could, not wanting to give details of what happened.
“No matter what, you just always have to disappoint.” Her dad huffed out, the smell of alcohol on his breath strong and potent hit the back of her neck.
“Not now dad.”
He patted her messed up shoulder on purpose and grabbed onto it, Tobin wincing in pain.
“You did this didn’t you?” He got closer to her ear, “You are such a disgrace to this family.”
Tobin felt the tears roll down her face and pushed away from him, taking the blow.
“How do you know it was me?”
“Jeff isn’t stupid.”
“We make mistakes. I made a mistake.” She lied ignoring how he insulted her, knowing her father would never support him if he knew that he was the one driving.
“It never changes. You are worthless. Doing this to your own brother?” She looked at where he pointed, “A damn shame. Say goodbye to your career superstar.”
“…My career?” She whispered, keeping her eyes glued onto her little brother in the bed to avoid looking at her father but she still felt the anger coursing through her veins.
She couldn’t stop the outburst.
“MY CAREER?!” She screamed out turning around, surprising her own father with a hard right hook to the face, “That’s… That’s what you’re thinking right now? You’re a fucking asshole.”
Tobin ignored the pain in her left shoulder with the sudden motion and the searing pain in her wrist from connecting her face to her fathers face.
He was a much larger, athletically built man. It did nothing to him but anger him more.
She put her snapback on and walked away from him, hearing his footsteps behind her. Suddenly, she felt him grab the hood of her sweatshirt and yank her back, bringing her to the ground.
Something, she’s quite used to practicing on the pitch with him.
“Don’t you ever, call me that when YOU ruined his life.”
Tobin regretted ever giving him that drink.
“You… Tobin, are a waste of space and my time.” He got close to her face and spoke through his teeth, “You are no longer my daughter.”
“Even better.” She scurried off the floor and hurried out the room, forcing back her tears.
He yelled after her, “It should’ve been you and not him.”
The comment cut deep, deeper than anything he’s ever said to her before.
She froze at the doorway, Is he right?
Her mother walked up with food in her hands, “Baby what’s wrong?”
“Bye mom… I love you. Take care of him, okay?” Tobin's voice broke and couldn’t look her Mother in the eye from the shame she felt.
Tobin looked behind her to get one last, good look at her baby-faced, now pale, brother before walking down the corridor to the nearest elevator.
The soccer player made her way out the hospital and stopped dead in her tracks, looking out into the perilous night that was illuminated by the bright stars and full moon in the clear sky.
Where am I going to go?
She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her letterman jacket, looking right to see a billboard of a fireman.
“When others rushed out, he rushed in. ”She read out loud what it said and scoffed out, “Why does it have to be a he?”
She turned her back and walked left, opposite of the billboards direction.
Tobin had six grand saved up, no home, no car.
And then it hit her.
The hazel eyed girl froze, backtracking each step and turned around.
She failed her brother, but she’s not going to fail others.
“Jeffy, can you just drop it?” She sighed and ran her hand through her hair, “I don’t want to do this now.” She relived the moment again in her head, remembering everything that he said that night.
“Why’d you tell them you were the one driving?” He paused waiting for a response but didn’t receive one, “Tell me!” He raised his voice, alarming his wife and his mom.
“I gave you that drink, ok?” Tobin quickly stated, “You got drunk because of me. It’s MY fault I took you there.”
“No, I got drunk because of me. I got in the car, because of me, my own reasons!” He said as he jabbed at his own chest, “You should’ve told the truth.”
“I didn’t want him to resent you the way he resents me, ok?” She sighed and leaned forward on the table looking at her furious brother, “You had MIT, a whole life ahead of you… a DUI wouldn’t fly in a school like that. I made a judgement call.”
“It ended your soccer career. They thought you were…” A flight risk.
“It was a career I never wanted!” Tobin countered cutting him off before he finished what they said on national broadcast years ago, “He would hurt me Jeff… To be the best, you gotta beat the best. He would have me play against college guys twice my size while I was in highschool. And those defenders would beat me around like I was… nothing. Why would you want his approval?”
He stayed quiet, “I didn’t know…”
“All those nights I would come home late? Not because I was with friends. He would make me run miles back home. If you don’t score in a game, you don’t get a ride for a week.”
He became visibly upset at the extremes his father took under everyone’s nose, “Why didn’t you just quit?”
“To prove to him I could be the best,” Tobin looked away and sighed, “I ended up hating the one thing I loved most in the process.”
He shook his head and continued, “I heard everything… those things he said to you.”
“Ah Jeffery… He may have been the world’s worst dad,” She explained, “But what he did lead me to something good here. It all worked out.”
Christen walked in and kissed her cheek from behind, “Hey beautiful, ready to go?”
Tobin smiled at her and got up to put on her leather jacket, “Ofcourse.”
She gave her little brother a tight hug, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there all these years.”
“You’re here now Tobs.”
All these years that passed and her brother didn’t feel an ounce of hatred towards her.
After all these years, her family was still… her family after all.
They never left.
“See ya later, kid.”
Christen said her farewell before they both began their exit out the café before hearing her little brother call out her name.
Tobin turned around, “What’s up?”
“I know it’s too soon but… It’s worth a shot,” He wheeled himself closer to where she stood, “Mom and I would really like if it you came this time… to our thanksgiving feast."
Tobin's face fell, "Ah... It's too late kid... I need at least a month to request time off."
He quickly countered, "Okay, Christmas it is. We'll start a new tradition, Christmas feast in the Isle of palms. My beach house will do.”
Tobin didn’t think twice to answer this question and she started to walk away laughing, “Count me in.”
When her world felt like it was crashing down, it was quite the opposite.
Everything is falling into place.
“How’d you get the car again?” He called out with a curious mind.
“A secret I’ll never tell!” She yelled out from behind her, hooking her arm around Christen’s shoulders and pulling her in closer to give her a kiss near her ear.
Christen hummed, too tired to reply with words.
“I love you.”
Christen hummed again, holding onto Tobin a little tighter when the cold air hit her face as they walked out into the streets of Chicago.
“Move in with me.”
Christen found her voice again, pulling out of Tobin’s hold.
“What?” She said in a low whisper, not believing what Tobin actually said.
“Move in with me.” She said again.
Tobin looked up and smiled before getting closer again to Christen, “All this time alone made me realize I don’t want to spend another morning not waking up to you by my side.”
Christen stayed quiet, prompting Tobin to speak up again, this time inching closer to her lips.
“I want to be that person that gets you coffee every morning.”
Christen rested her forehead against Tobin’s and hummed again, “Do I get to design the place?”
Tobin backed away, “Hold up what’s wrong with my—”
Christen launched forward and laughed as she closed the distance off with a kiss, “Just a few pictures of my dogs in Cali and lily on the wall and we’ll be good.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Christen frowned and backed away, “No besitos for you.”
“No-no-no Dogs and cat will be on the wall-DOGS ON THE WALL!” Tobin said quickly, locking her hands behind Christen’s lower back and pouted, “Besitos please?”
Christen smiled and gave her a warm kiss to see that bright, white smile reappear.
“Let’s go home.” She said.
Tobin couldn't believe she was going to wake up to all of Christen.
That squint in her eyes, the smile.
Falling, into place.
Chapter 12: The One
Slight warning: a little R rated scene is in there. Woopsies.
“How did you.. know?”
“Know what?” Allie said, polishing up the last door for her of the newly repaired Mustang. Tobin walked around the car after she finished installing the backlights to the front of the car to start on the headlights, “Well, that Bati was the one? Like... the one you want to spend the rest of your life with?”
“When you know, you know. Ya know? I told you this before if I can recall correctly...” Allie sighed and took a few steps back to analyze the car, “Why’re you asking anyways?”
“Ah... I don’t know…” Tobin wondered, crouching down next to the right side of the car parked in the garage of Allie’s house, “I guess-a part of me always wondered what it feels like?”
“Everything just falls into place. It’s like…” Allie pauses, walking around to observe Tobin struggling with screwing in the headlight bowl part she bought, thinking to herself, “A puzzle piece. That has been missing piece all your life has finally been found… and everything feels… just right, like... Safe. Secure.”
“Makes sense,” Tobin finished putting the headlight together swiftly once the screws were in, wiping her hands off observing her work, “I’ve never really felt… that before. Love. The one?”
“Just wait Tobin,” Her friend patted her shoulder while inspecting the car with her, “Love is going to hit you in a mysterious way. And when it does, you hold onto it and never let go.”
Tobin remained silent and Allie took it upon herself to speak up again, “Besides, I wanna be your… maid of honor? Or is it… best man?”
“Shuttup, Allie.” Tobin laughed and rolled her eyes, "I honestly don't know if it's maid of honor... or best man?"
“Soooo is that a yes?” Allie replied, joining in on the laughter.
”Yes, you will be my maid of honor... and best man.”
She found out a lot of things over time while living together.
One being, Christen was an amazing cook.
Two, Christen likes books.
Like, a lot of books.
Another thing is that Christen is a real charmer in the mornings after her yoga session which by the way, is sarcasm.
You bother her, you wage war.
Tobin loves waging war.
Two weeks in, she ended up getting another juicer because hers broke.
Totally not Tobin's fault by the way according to the culprit. According to Tobin, someone like Christen, the juicing expert, should have informed her of not using a knife as a way to push the vegetable further in. How would have Tobin known that a knife could potentially snap off? More importantly, why didn't Christen put the pusher in plain sight.
Don't worry, Tobin bought it.
And she was never allowed to touch a juicer again.
Nonetheless, not only did she find out a lot of things about Christen, something else changed... her regular routine became different.
No more coffee and a muffin.
Rather, Tobin has to drink a green drink that tasted amazing despite its unappealing color and the breakfast that follows soon after that her girlfriend cooks up.
And every morning, was a different pickup line.
Tobin watched whiled Christen pop more into veggies or… fruits, into the juicer in front of her while she seated at the breakfast bar. She checked her out innocently, wandering what to say to make her girlfriend cringe.
Then, she saw the lucky charms on the top of the fridge behind Christen.
“Girlfriend-d-d.” Tobin singsonged as she skipped around the breakfast bar and into the kitchen, pecking Christen on the cheeks with a subtle kiss as she wrapped her arms around her waist and hugged her from behind. Something about these moments where Tobin can pause time and hold onto it forever.
“No-o-o Tobin please, not this morning. You kept me up too late last night.” Christen said grumpily.
"Not my fault you wanted more," Tobin giggled, kissing her neck briefly before resting her chin on Christen's shoulder.
"Not my fault you have such a huge appetite." Christen shot back.
"Babe, I'm not sure if that's such a bad thing for you," Tobin contemplated in her head before speaking up again, “Did you have lucky charms for breakfast?”
“I’m not going to answer this.”
“But Baaaaa-beeeee-yyyyyy!” Tobin whined while Christen ignored, “Babe!”
Two seconds later.
Who would’ve ever thought… that Christen, was the grumpy one in the mornings?
"Babe?" Tobin said, smiling into Christen's shoulder.
Truth is, Christen brings out the lighthearted humor in Tobin that was lost in the accident years ago.
She brings out the kid in Tobin that everyone adored back at home.
And then she heard a sigh.
God, I love her.
“No, deee-A-R,” She slowly emphasized as she continued to put more and more ingredients into the juicer, “I did not have lucky charms in the morning.”
Tobin grinned, “What a surprise, you’re looking magically delicious this morning baby!”
Christen turned around in Tobin's arms and stared at the firefighter, “Seriously?”
Tobin could tell she was holding back the smile at the ridiculous pickup line so all Tobin decided to proceed forth with was just the silent wiggle of her eyebrows going up and down.
“I hate you, IT WORKS EVERY TIME!” Christen laughed and rolled her eyes, “You’re so bad at these. But I love you for them.”
She reached back, grabbing the tall drink and handed it to Tobin quickly took a sip, looking down at her with a serious, concentrated stare.
Christen stared right back, narrowing her eyes.
“Oh my god… I made sure to put it in FIRST before you came out!”
Tobin’s in love with this routine.
“I’m just a pro baby.” She said, pecking her girlfriend's lips with a kiss while her glimmering smile was at its fullest state before she walked away to sit back at the breakfast bar.
Christen just stared at her with a smile as she drank her smoothie slowly, making Tobin blush when she saw the way Christen looked at her.
“What?” Tobin giggled as she sipped more on her own smoothie.
Christen’s smile faded for a moment while her mind was in what seemed to be a deep thought. However, it soon reappeared after that small trance she fell into along with that small squint in her eyes that Tobin fell in love with the first moment she saw it. She shook her head downing the rest of her drink in one go, “Nothing-nothing…” Tobin did the same thing and put the cup in the counter, grabbing Christen by the waist and bringing her closer.
“Babe,” Tobin whispered, brushing away the loose strands on the nurse’s face like she usually does before leaning in for a longer kiss, “Now-what is it?”
“It’s just...” Christen paused, closing her eyes to force back the tear that wants to escape.
“Nooo don’t cry baby... stop...” Tobin pleaded softly, wiping the tear that escaped down christens side with her thumb.
”Mornings like this…” Christen sniffled laughing softly, “You make me the best version of myself. Smiling, not grumpy in the mornings per usual… I want this to be forever. I love you so much Tobin.”
Tobin relished the words and took them in slowly. She closed her eyes and leaned in, finding Christen’s lips shortly after. The kiss was slow, filled with meaning.
Filled with reassurance.
“Don’t jump out of windows and into rivers please.” Christen whispered breaking the silence, “Remember only a crazy girl would jump...”
"...out a two-story building, was just tryin’ to impress ya… and only a crazy girl would wear...”
"...that Christmas tree I am STILL-TIL this day wearing!" Christen held back the laugh, "...That I adore, by the way."
Both of them laughed out loud together at the moment they both flashed back to when they saw each other for another time.
“It’s a redwood tree…” Christen laughed, remembering how much she couldn’t stand the firefighter at first.
Til. she realized she really was the type to jump into a freezing river for you.
The type to die for you.
“Promise me this is forever.” She whispered, closing her eyes as she pulled Tobin into a hug. Her embrace with Tobin was warm and secure.
“I promise, Christen Press.” She said kissing Christen’s neck before burrowing her face in the crook of her shoulder as she squeezed her tighter in the hug, “You are…my Forever.”
Days passed by with more and more pickup lines.
No more, the grumpy Christen in the mornings.
But rather, cheerful, coming up with her own comeback pickup lines, making it a game on who can come up with the better line.
It was officially their normal routine.
More and more drinks in the morning passed with slight differences made that Tobin could tell in the drink.
It would surprise Christen when she could actually guess the ingredient added every time.
They hosted their first dinner party together two weeks before Christmas, inviting Alex and her husband over to dinner, with little Benny who grew very fond of Tobin in less than an hour. Their interaction together was special, especially to Christen, seeing that interaction let her mind wonder how it could be later on in the years.
Let's just say that by the end of the night, Christen was extremely ready for her best friend to disappear so that she could stop telling Tobin the embarrassing stories of Christen's younger years, and more ready to take Tobin's clothes off. All the times Tobin gripped her thigh during dinner underneath the table, slightly sliding it up to her favorite spot, did not go unnoticed.
That night, they never made it to the bedroom.
More and more time passed with more of Christen’s things finding their way around their home. A huge Christmas tree appeared in the corner of Tobin's apartment near the TV, something that hasn't happened since Allie's passing. This was the first time Tobin has actually felt happy around Christmas time; where, she actually felt the liveliness that had once existed inside this apartment with Allie's presence.
Its grand reappearance made Tobin actually feel more excited to come back home from work than to be at work, which was a huge surprise to Tobin herself.
Another thing that was discovered about Christen by the firefighter was the love for the dogs.
Man, the dogs.
She has two dogs in California.
How come she never brought that up? God knows.
The dogs, that were such an important part of Christen’s life, that she HAS to see.
Through a picture.
A picture in which, Tobin hated. She sat there on her leather couch waiting for Christen to get back home from her long shift in her shorts and long, tarheel blue tank top.
Why is it looking at me like that? Tobin furrows her eyebrows and tilts her head to the side, matching the way the dogs are looking at her, Is it seriously autographed? Khaleesi, Morena.
She liked the way her wall looked from before, when there weren’t two dogs was staring right into her soul and judging her from the start. Tobin can’t sit at the couch, getting up to move closer at the dog.
It had a smile on its face, something new again for Tobin to find out. Dogs smile. But this smile, was a devious one…
“You ain’t ever gunna be enough for my owner, you’ll be out in no time.” Tobin mimicked out loud, letting that be her official interpretation of the dogs smile.
“God, what is wrong with me.” Tobin said out loud, realizing what she was saying, shaking her head her head laughing to herself, “It’s just a dog. It’s-official, I’m going insane.”
She heard a laugh behind her and felt the arms of her lover snake around her waist. Her head tiredly rested on Tobin’s back, making Tobin smile at the feel of Christen’s smile that had just formed too.
“It’s been a whole month and a half. And I feel like I’m getting your dogs’ disapproval without even meetin’ em... How am I going to be in front of your parents?”
Tobin frowned when a laugh broke out from behind her, prompting her to turn around to face Christen. Her hands were now beneath Tobin’s tank, thumbs grazing her skin softly near each hip.
Tobin stared intensely at her girlfriend who was now blushing, “Good god...”
Christed blushed even more with a tired smile creeping up on her face, “What?”
”You’re just so... beautiful. How are you mine?”
”Oh stop it...” Christen giggled, letting her hand slowly roam up and down Tobin’s strong back once, “You’re forgetting I just worked my long shift.”
Tobin couldn’t speak up with the feeling of Christens hands on her.
Instead, she kissed her.
Tobin Heath still couldn’t handle it, even the slightest scratch from Christen’s nails when they went back down her back. She still couldn’t handle the burning sensation from the trail of ember that is left at the wake of Christen's slightest touch. This exhilarating feeling that her touch brings, still ‘til this day, exists.
By now, it should feel like a routine. Her touch should feel like it's a normal thing to feel.
But it doesn't. Rather, her touch seems foreign to her body, that ‘til this day, lets the goosebumps rise.
It’s still a powerful drug to Tobin’s system.
That takes her by surprise, every…
”The dogs.” Tobin said, breaking away from the kiss, "They're watching in disapproval."
“Baby, we’ve been through this.” Christen was still laughing when she heard Tobin mention the dogs.
“Its. Just. A. Picture!” She said, kissing each of Tobin’s cheeks, her nose, and finally forehead between every word.
“Fine.” Tobin frowned.
Christen waited for the punchline, quirking one eyebrow up, really?
“Just… just-LOOK at them!” Tobin pouted looking up, left, down, right… anywhere to avoid looking at the tired, yet beautiful and striking eyes because it would make her forget about a very serious topic.
“You know they’re looking at me too, right?” Christen giggled, Tobin frowned again and looked at her this time.
“You know, I…” She stopped talking when she saw the smile and the gorgeous eyes, making her forget what her next words were. She literally, took her breath away again despite Christen clearly having spent a tiring twelve-hour shift at work.
“I forgot, you’re so beautiful, you kinda took the words right out mah mouth, ya-know-erm-saying?”
“You’re such a dork,” Christen giggled, “Come on, I look terrible… I smell like a hospital, I look like I went through hell and back and…”
Tobin rolled her eyes and shut her up with a kiss. A long, convincing kiss to silence her lover up, “Pictures are going baby.”
“Pictures are staying.”
“Goiiing.” She countered singsonging the word.
Christen shot her a warning glare, “Tobin.”
”Christen.” Tobin warned back playfully to challenge the nurse.
After no success, Tobin backed down five seconds later, rolling her eyes as she began to speak under her breath, “Monogamy. Sharing a space. What a-”
Christen’s face went serious, “What about it?”
Tobin knew it would get her riled up. Hence, why she said it.
“AMAZING, thrilling time baby-lets go to bed-it’s getting late?” Tobin checked her watch, tapped it multiple times before faking a dramatic sigh, “Wooh! 7 AM, yeah bedtime. We got a long day tomorrow.”
“Nuh-uh, I’m going to shower.”
Tobin grinned with her eyebrows raised, “May I join?”
“No, you may not.” Christen huffed out as she walked away, "I would like my space in the huge shower you have."
She took off her shirt and turned around, taking off her bra as well with one swift motion.
"Jesus Christ." Tobin began to walk after her, reaching out for Christen after seeing her bare chest, but Christen put her arm up.
"Enjoy my hot..." She turned around and stepped out of her pants to continue her walk towards the bathroom, "...And steamy shower."
"But babe..." Tobin began to protest with her jaw practically hanging, before she one hand went up as she walked.
Christen turned around again, stripping her panties this time, "Monogamy, sharing a space, awful, right?"
"I was kidding..." Tobin whispered, unable to let her eyes wander, which was exactly what Christen wanted.
Truth be told, it turned Christen on.
But, she was willing to put all of it aside to tease her girlfriend even more. So, all Christen did was smile, turn on her heels to open the closet door next to the bathroom, grabbing the towel on the highest rack for Tobin to see what she's missing out on, then head right into the bathroom.
The apartment was so silent that she heard the lock of the door click. She looked away from the door, still shocked, to look towards the picture of the dogs with a straight face, “Yep, hard no. Had to give it some try boys.”
When Christen walked into the room to grab her things and head towards the restroom, Tobin went and grabbed a mug, pouring in the hot tea she just brewed inside of it. She too began her walk towards the bedroom. Out of habit, she kicked off her socks and shorts on the way there, scurrying into bed quickly. Even if it was twelve degrees outside, Tobin can’t feel comfort unless her pants were off in bed.
She put on her oversized black, framed glasses and pulled out mind platter, to begin the read she’s been telling herself to read the past few months. Twenty pages in, she heard the shower stop.
The door to the door opened.
Keep your eyes on the page.
Am I even reading right now?
Christen pushed the door to the bedroom open.
Yep, not reading, Tobin thought, gulping nervously.
The creaking sound of the hardwood made its noise when Christen stepped into the room, barefoot.
The silence was deafening, so silent that she could practically hear the water drip from her hair onto the floor.
“Uhem, Uhem.” Was the noise that Christen made from her throat.
“Mmhm…” Was Tobin’s reply.
Two are going TO PLAY THIS GAME.
Why is she being so stubborn, Christen thought, slowly edging closer to the bed.
God am I even going to last, Tobin thought as well, she's so wet.
So, so so... wet.
Tobin kept her eyes trained on the page without reading the words, bringing the tea to her lips. Her glasses slid slightly lower as she brought the cup up blindly to keep her eyes trained on the page.
W-W-Which was a mistake.
The tea missed her mouth and went right onto her chest and down her cleavage.
“Ah!” Tobin yelped, “Shit! B-u-uurns it burns!”
She put the tea down and closed her eyes, atleast I tried.
Tobin opened her eyes and looked up at Christen who was just smiling down at her. Tobin bit her bottom lip, “IS there something you would like to share that is of…”
Christen’s towel dropped.
Tobin gulped, blinking slowly, losing her words yet again.
“Uh…” Her throat went dry while her eyes took their time roaming what’s all hers.
Christen laughed and pulled the covers that were on Tobin off, slowly climbing on top of Tobin’s lap.
“You know… I give you an A+ for effort.”
Tobin cleared her throat as she moved her hands slowly up the smooth, tan thighs that trapped her in her place, “I tried. I really did.”
Christen giggled and slid her hands beneath Tobin’s shirt, leaning in close to kiss her jaw.
“You know, you should probably take that off.”
Tobin took a deep breath in and something inside of her switched, flipping Christen around quickly, pinning Christen’s arms above her head.
“Nah… I think I’ll have you just like this.” Tobin smiled, biting her lip seeing the way Christen squirmed to break hold of her grip.
Finally, she accepted defeat with a smile.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” She whispered, spreading her legs wider apart for Tobin to settle perfectly in between her legs.
Tobin kissed the base of her neck slowly, going up to bite just below the ear, Christen's weakest point, which Christen couldn't handle given the moan that was released at the contact. She bit down again, licking torturously back down to the base of her throat, making the girl beneath her squirm, needing to clench her thighs against Tobin's sides.
However, Tobin didn't allow it.
"Please." Christen begged softly, her eyes rolling back when she felt Tobin's hand collapse on one of her breasts.
"No..." She whispered against Christen's chest, pushing one of her thighs back towards its original spot, licking down between her cleavage, leaving sweet kisses behind. Her left hand ghosted back up to Christen's breast before going to her throat, as the other made its way between her thighs, testing the waters, on both ends.
"Please, I need you ins-Ohhh, fuck Tobin.."
The reaction was immediate when Tobin went inside so slowly and delicately, feeling her walls fall down but the inner ones tighten, which resulted in Christen moaning out Tobin's name, asking for more. All Tobin wanted to do was watch as she unraveled her girlfriend, seeing the way her body reacts to her touch.
She enjoyed seeing the way Christen reacts right as she increases the pace, masterfully hitting the right place perfectly with every move.
She could never get tired of seeing the way Christen starts to clench the pillows behind her head, holding her breath as she took in the feeling that Tobin would bring to her body, trying to resist the urges that her body would plead to her.
Tobin loved all the signs that Christen's body would throw at her, especially how when she's so close to becoming undone, she loses all control of her hips.
The part she loved most was the way Christen would let herself go, along with all her breath, when her body couldn't handle the pressure built up.
Releasing, all at once.
Tobin smiled as she positioned herself lower, placing wet kisses on her stomach in the process, then each hip...
Then, the inside of her thighs, hooking her arms under each leg before looking up seeing Christen laugh softly exasperated, "Baby, you're going to kill me."
Tobin bit her lip as she kissed closer towards that delicate, sensitive spot, feeling Christen's body quake just by getting closer and closer. She licked up slowly, letting her trained tongue do the talking, repeating the motion one more time but faster.
"Faster Tobin." Christen panted out, "Faster..." She said again with one hand finding its way inside Tobin's hair, urging her to continue.
She looked up at Christen who was struggling yet again to keep her eyes open, tilting her head to the side, "Did you really think you were going to get away with all that teasing?"
"Baby, please stop talking."
"Hmm? I didn't hear you." Tobin said, soon smiling when she saw her girlfriend's eyebrows knit together from the sexual frustration she was making her feel.
"Tobin..." Christen warned.
“I knew we should’ve slept…” Christen yawned, pulling her hair up into a messy bun. She sported a light pair of ripped up girlfriend jeans with a white tank and a comfortable, beige oversized cardigan and white slip on vans.
“It’s been so long since I’ve been home.” Tobin laughed nervously, “This is going to be great.”
“Babe, you’ll be fine.”
Tobin anxiously waited for her sisters to show up, eyes scanning the road for “arrivals” at Charlotte’s Douglas international airport. Meanwhile, Christen was half asleep in her upright position right next to Tobin.
Tobin checked her watch for the sixth time in ten minutes. Christen just stares at her, “Baby. Relax.”
The firefighter looked like a lost puppy, scared.
Tobin looked at her girlfriend with her shocked, wide eyes, “Yea?”
“You’re right-you’re right-you're right this is just a visit.” She closed her eyes and couldn't help herself again, “It’s-just my sisters ya-know? They’re crazy.”
She saw the large black SUV round the corner and she took a deep breath in, here we go. Tobin turned to look at Christen and give her a quick kiss, “Whatever they say, do not believe any of it.”
The SUV pulled up at a high speed and broke hard to stop right infront of the couple, one girl popping out the passenger seat.
“PERRY I’m DRIVING. God, you are slower than Nana.”
“No, you are not. I'm sorry but I'm NOT going to drive faster just to get there ten minutes earlier.” She heard the other one yell out, turning off the engine as she got out.
“TOBYYYY-BEAR! It's been so long! Oh my, is that a wrinkle?” Perry said, practically jabbing into Tobin's eye as she checked out the wrinkles.
"It's what happens when ya age Perry."
"Oh shut up!" Perry took her unenthused young sister into a deep, tight hug, "How I missed ya lil sis."
"Missed you too-can't breath, can't breath..." Tobin during the hug looked over at Christen who was now awake, stifling a laugh, “Don’t...even...say-it.”
“What! I didn’t say anything… yet.” Christen replied with a wink of her own.
Tobin rolled her eyes and stepped away from the hug, “Guys, meet Christen. Christen, my terrible sisters, Perry and Katie.”
Perry rolled her eyes and took Christen’s bags and put them in the trunk, walking back to defend her honor.
“We’re not all that bad.”
“Our mom has talked so much about you Chris!” Her other sister chimed in.
“All good words I hope?” Christen nervously smiled, hopping into the back seat of the car, her sister following in soon after.
“Oh ofcourse, pretty sure she loves you more than us.”
Christen laughed, “No way, not true.”
“She wants you to be her new daughter, so yah. Replacement. But it’s-kay. Ugh, I have so many stories to tell you!”
Tobin froze, new daughter.
She was filling up the luggage from the trunk, overhearing what Katie was saying to the person she met just ten months ago. And then all of the sudden, a memory in Allie’s garage surged through her mind.
“When you know, you know.”
Perry looked at her sister worried, “Did you forget something important?”
Christen Press was the missing puzzle piece in Tobin’s life. The piece, that made everything harmonious.
Everything felt safe.
Everything felt secure.
Her future, with Christen, felt permanent.
Promise me this is forever.
Perry cranked her neck to the side with a look of confusion spreading across her face, “Yeaaa-now you lost me.”
Even though it hasn’t even hit a year since meeting Christen, her heart knew that this was the one that Allie was talking about. Her heart pumped harder and faster when it hit her what she wants to do. So, Tobin turned to look at her older sister who she hasn’t seen in years and said the words no-one would have thought of in a thousand years to be said from Tobin Heath.
Almost ten months ago, Tobin was a lost soul.
Now, she feels whole again.
With, Christen by her side.
“I think I’m going to ask her to marry me.”
It’s a story that never ends.
Like fireworks, it lights up the darkness with ease and shows you an explosion of colors that fills us with joy. It's able to change a world that could appear so black and white to you and transform it into these vivid... bright colors that are so beautiful, it almost feels dreamlike.
It hits you in the most unexpected way.
It usually starts with a signal, where you feel the spreading of warmth strike your chest without warrant or warning when you first lay your eyes on this stranger.
Then, the tingling sensation of curiosity. Who is this person to make me feel this way? I gotta know more about this person.
The curiosity transforms when it then gets mixed with a wrecking force of desire, to see this person again. To make them smile, absentmindedly making it a goal to hear their laughter just because it hits you that that’s a sound that bring your mind at peace.
It’s the most hypnotic sound you wish to hear over and over again. A sound, you can never get tired of hearing.
Then, you end up catching yourself smiling randomly at a moment.
Why am I still smiling? Is one of the questions you’ll eventually ask yourself when they are no longer near you but you’re still thinking of the moment.
It’s the calming peace that you feel, mixed with the feeling the surge of electricity coursing through your veins when you’re alone with the person and feel their lips move against yours in perfect rhythm for the very first time.
Then you feel the nerves kick in, when that moment escalates into more than just a kiss. You lose all your capabilities of thinking straight and lose yourself in their touch.
Then comes the endless tests and at the end of each test, that person is still by your side. You push them away, but they come back to you.
You feel yourself changing for the better, becoming better because you want the person to have everything good in the world, nothing bad.
Then it’s the realization that this is a fire between you two will never burn out, that it will last forever.
That, no test or fight will ever make that person run away… your bond ends up growing stronger with each adversary.
The electric touch never grew old and accustomed to your body. It still feels new.
The warmth through your body never faded away, always present with every kiss shared between you two.
The desires to see the person never ends, rather it becomes stronger. Where, you want this person to be the one you wake up to because that’s exactly what you need.
You want to wake up in their arms because you feel safe.
You feel complete.
If you’re lost, you’re no longer lost. For that, being by their side is where you feel most secure.
Where, it feels just right.
And if you are ever feeling lost, it's always in a moment, or within each other.
And if you’re feeling hopeless, you’re surprised with the feeling of hope, whilst finding the best version of yourself.
All while, longing for a future together.
For Tobin, it was just that.
They settled into the ginormous beach house that her brother owns. Christen was shocked to see that her and Tobin’s room had windows stretched from one wall to the other with a balcony overlooking the Atlantic.
After moving everything in, everyone slept through the first night very early. Tobin, was the first to wake up, watching Christen as she sleeps peacefully. However, she didn’t want her to miss a sight she’s missed out on all these years.
“Good morning babe…” Christen yawned, feeling a familiar finger go up and down the spine of her back slowly. She forced her eyes open to see Tobin smiling down at her, “What?”
“Get up, you have to see this.”
Christen groaned and looked to the left, seeing the sun rising and it’s beautiful, bright orange and pink colors reflecting off the water.
“Almost as beautiful as you.” Christen laughed seeing Tobin grimace at the attempt to flirt at 6:30 AM in the morning.
It still worked.
Morning breath and all.
“I love you.” She whispered softly, “You have no idea how much I love you.” With the sun rising and hitting her face perfectly, she was practically glowing.
“God, you’re so beautiful. How did I ever get so lucky?”
Christen hid her face in the pillow and giggled to herself, before propping herself up with her elbow, “Why the sudden sentiment?”
“I was thinking how lost I was before I met you,” Tobin shook her head slowly pushing aside Christen’s hair and smiled weakly, “I gave up on myself… but you never gave up on me. I don’t know… Where I’d be if you didn’t show up in my life.”
Tobin began to tear up and looked up to force back the tears, laughing at herself, “I’m sorry…”
Tobin pulled away and sat at the edge of the bed. She had to look away, not used to this sudden feel of opening up. They were both quiet for what seemed to be a long moment, with Tobin fidgeting around, picking at her fingers in her lap. She felt Christen’s arms wrap around her stomach, her bare chest against her back, legs on both sides of Tobin.
Christen moved aside Tobin’s wavy hair and kissed just below her ear before resting her chin in the crook of Tobin’s shoulder, sighing softly.
“There was this girl in college. I never really had a… crush before. It was always strictly soccer and school… I never knew what love was. She was my first.”
Tobin turned her to look at her, “What happened?”
Christen scooted backwards so that Tobin can get back in bed, which she did.
“Well,” Christen looked away, “Year four into the relationship, all of it felt normal. Routine, almost? You could say it was routine. Sex, dinner dates, arguments. We’d sometimes go days without talking. But we always made up. It was just… a pattern. But I never knew that love was supposed to be or feel different. Until I met you..”
She got quiet, “We got into another fight. And… she, uh…disappeared?” Christen’s voice broke, “Wow after all this time it still feels… painful.”
“Babe,” Tobin hugged her tightly, “You don’t have to tell--“
“No, let me just say it. She,” Christen smiled sadly, “…Cheated on me. With my teammate. And, I walked in on them… Tobin ever since that happened, I closed off. I got drafted, went to Chicago and never looked back.”
“I’m going to kill her,” Tobin got angry for Christen ever hurting, “I swear if I ever-“
“It’s okay…” Christen laughed and sniffled, “See, I had this idea of what love was. That pattern, I thought it was okay. Until I met you. You’re the first one that has opened my eyes into what love really felt like.”
Tobin smiled and gave her a long kiss, “You’re welcome.”
“Oh shuttup,” Christen laughed and lightly pushed Tobin from the shoulder, “In all seriousness baby, I-was… lost… too.”
Tobin scooted closer and extended her arm out from behind Christen’s head, prompting the other girl to scoot into Tobin’s side and cuddle.
Christen drew an infinity sign on Tobin’s stomach over and over as she continued, “You taught me what it feels to be loved. And to love… And it feels amazing. When I look back at everything, all the hurt, pain… It hurts, yes, but I’m happy it all happened.”
“Why would you ever be happy for that babe?” Tobin said quietly, running her hand through her lover’s hair.
“Because… if it never happened, I would’ve stuck by her side, because I didn’t know what else to do. I thought that was it,” Christen propped herself up on her shoulder and looked at Tobin with that same smile, “If it wasn’t for that, I would’ve never met you. I would’ve never known what love really feels like.”
She gave Tobin a long, deep kiss, before continuing again, “You are my end game.”
Tobin settled her hand at the base of Christen’s throat, looking deep into Christen’s grey blue eyes, pushing her down softly with that same hand and leaning down to kiss her. This time, it felt different.
She moved on top of Christen, looking once more into her lover’s eyes, “I love you. I love you so much Christen Press.”
Christen smiled biting her lower lip, brushing Tobin’s cheek with the back of her hand as she looked up at the beautiful brunette on top of her.
She pulled her in closer, leaning up to whisper into her ear softly, “Show me how much you love me.”
In that moment, Tobin’s feelings intensified, feeling herself dive into an ocean of despair. Longing, to be by her lover’s side forever.
She knew, that the night was coming.
The night, she was going to ask Christen to be hers.
She just needed to prepare.
A week passed.
They ran through all the errands that Tobin set out for them to do fairly quickly.
Their last stop was to check out the engagement rings.
“Someone has that sex glow on her! Has anyone else noticed?” Katie butt checked her sister as she looked curiously at all the rings in front of her.
Tobin’s cheeks flushed and her eyes widened tilting her head in her younger brother’s direction, “Dude?”
Her brother grinned next to her, “Tobin, I’m not that 18 yearold kid you once knew. I got game better than you.”
Tobin laughed out loud, “Boy please, in your wildest dreams.”
His wife joined in on the laughter, “You never know what a man in a wheelchair is capable of- -“
“NOOOOOO!” Tobin and her sister both said out loud covering their ears.
Never had sex in a chair before with christen… guess that’s on the bucket list of things to do.
Tobin pushed the thought away, “Can we focus on the rings in front of us please?”
“But we don’t know what she likes… What about that one?” Katie pointed at a cushion cut ring with a lot of diamonds around the band.
“She’s a simple girl… I don’t think she would li—“ Tobin’s eye caught onto one that took her words right out of her, that one’s it. She looked at the price behind the beautiful ring, shit. Almost 3 Carats cushion cut with a plain band... $23,000.
Her brother looked at her and followed her eyes to that same ring, “Excuse me sir?”
“Yes Mr. Heath?”
“That one please.”
“Right away.” He immediately listened to her younger brother, reminding her of how much of a prodigy he is.
“That’s too… I can’t afford that… I can’t let you do this Jeff.”
“Tobin, I want to.”
“Atleast let me go half.”
“Will you not bother me if I let you do that?”
“It’s my girl’s engagement ring…” Tobin huffed out.
“I don’t want you to settle for less. Besides, I like Christen.” Tobin rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.
“You only just met her…”
Her little brother continued right after she finished her last word, “… And I got my sister back. Because of her. Tobs, I want to do this.”
Tobin felt the brotherly love she’s missed out on all these years. Long ago, she used to take care of him. And now, it’s the other way around.
“Thank you.” She leaned down and gave him a tight hug, “I’ve missed you kid.”
“There’s no need to thank me,” He said as he hugged her back, “I’m just happy you’re here and I get to do this with you.”
The jeweler came back, “Any chance you know what her ring size is?”
Tobin pulled out a ring that she stole from Christen’s jewelry collection, “Any chance this will work?”
“Perfect, this should take no more than ten minutes to resize. I will be back shortly.”
The jeweler left and Tobin looked at her brother, “There’s one more thing we need to do. Do you mind taking me somewhere?”
“Ofcourse, where to?”
She stood in front of the small vacation home that they’ve owned all these years. The very front yard that she stood in front of was the yard her father would make her train viciously even on the vacations. Tobin never knew how much she hated those days up until the moment she left for Chicago. All those vacations spent training on the beach or in the front yard rather than being with family and enjoying the moment.
What a shame.
She was scared to face him.
Til this day, she still felt fear inside of her.
“You don’t have to do this.” Her little brother stared at the house from inside the truck, “You don’t owe him anything, Tobs…”
“I have to.” She whispered.
“To move on,” She turned around to look at her brother inside the truck, “I have to put these things behind me, officially. I want him to know who I am now without him.”
Her brother sighed, “We’ll wait out here for you.”
“No, I’ll take a lyft. Go with your sisters and set up our plan. Have mom distract Chris as we planned.”
“Alright, I’ll meet you there.”
She started walking towards the house slowly, reaching the front door. Before she could even knock, the door flung open. The man infront of her isn’t the man she could remember. He looked haphazard, hair no longer swept to the side the way he taught his son to do. He had a long, grey beard and age lines. He was no longer built strong, but rather leaner.
He lost a lot of weight.
So many things changed, but her heartrate increased like old times from the nerves.
However, one thing remained. The glass of whisky, made neat, was in his left hand.
Atleast they had one thing in common.
It was Tobin’s favorite drink.
“Hey.” She whispered. He looked like he was in shock, seeing the same figure that he never thought that he would never see again after that day in the hospital. He stood still, “Tobin.”
They both stayed quiet and Tobin broke the silence with a hint of anger in her voice.
“Are you not going to let me in?”
“Uh—yeah, yes… Ofcourse, come in.”
She let herself in, scooting past him, into the old home. Everything still remained, all her trophies and all the family pictures still remained on the foyer’s walls’ and its shelves. Tobin looked at all the photos of her and her family, walking slowly seeing all the trophies as well.
What she didn’t expect was the Chicago tribune paper. And the article that was written about her being the youngest, female firefighter on the force. And the next article, about all the fires she’s fought and never lost.
The article of Allie Long and Tobin Heath.
There was a section dedicated to Tobin’s achievements after soccer.
“I’m proud of you, of who you’ve become.”
Tobin laughed hysterically walking in the direction of the bottle of whiskey, “You don’t get to say that.”
She grabbed the cup sitting next to it, pouring herself a whiskey, neat, no ice, just like her father. They were both quiet, standing at opposite ends of the living room that was surprisingly clean.
“Why are you here Tobin, for what?” He sighed breaking the silence first, “Do you want me to say sorry? I’m sorry.”
“You blamed me for everything that…” Tobin clinched her jaws and laughed out loud, feeling her anger rise up, “You know what, this is a mistake.”
She started walking towards the front door until he stopped her, “Tobin, please wait. Don’t go.”
She stopped, hesitated in opening the door. Tobin felt herself fight back the tears and closed her eyes. Her fingers gripped the doorknob to the point that they were white, “You hurt me.”
“I know, Tobin…”
“Everything that fucking happened,” She turned back around and walked towards him and jabbed a finger into his chest, “YOU BLAMED ME.”
He couldn’t look her in the eye. Instead, he looked away, cowardice. Something, Tobin, was not used to.
“I hated myself. For years, I HATED MYSELF! Because… because, of you. The least you can do is—is mean it!”
“You don’t think I feel the same way?” He sputtered out almost instantly, drinking all of the whiskey in one go, looking her in the eye now like the man he used to be, “I hated myself too!”
“YES!” He screamed back at her, shocking Tobin enough to take a few steps back but he matched those steps forward, “I LOST MY DAUGHTER. And then my FAMILY. Because of ME. And This.”
Her father looked at the cup in his hand, chuckled as he shook his head, and threw it across the room.
The glass shattering against the walls and it’s loud sound didn’t even phase the two of them. They both stood there, staring at each other.
Tobin remained strong and tall, but her dad didn’t. For the first time in her life, she saw him cry. The man that she was so afraid of, where his presence alone can scare her into scoring a goal.
And somehow, she felt guilty. Despite everything, she felt sorry for him.
“I lost everything… I lost you Tobin. I was trying to make you into something you weren’t. I’m sorry for… everything.” He sat down and stayed quiet to gather his thoughts, “I wasn’t the best father to you or your brother. Your sisters got lucky. When I blew out my knee years ago, I started drinking away my pain. My future, Tobin, was gone.”
“Dad…” Tobin sat down next to him. He smiled for a moment when he heard that word years later.
“I... I have to say this.” He looked at her for the first time and spoke up, “I wanted my son to be what I couldn’t be. But I didn’t realize he was gifted with the brains. It took me years to realize that that’s okay… It was years too late.”
Tobin stayed quiet and looked at her hands as he spoke, feeling the tears fall down her face.
“I couldn’t get him to play soccer… so I-I… I put it all on you. I’ll never forgive myself for taking the love you had for the sport out of you.”
“It’s okay. It’s okay, I know now. That’s all that matters.” She said quietly, feeling sorry for him. Slowly but surely, all the anger she had felt towards her father started to disappear.
Not just the anger, but also the power she thought he had over her… All of it slowly disappeared with every word.
“No, Toby.” He looked at her with the saddest, most tired eyes, “I’ll never forgive myself for blaming what happened to him on you. It was my fault. He told me everything… everything he said to you before he got into that car, it-it... it was all my fault. I could’ve stopped it if I was a better man. If, I was just a… better father to you!”
He got up and Tobin quickly grabbed his hand, the first, real physical contact she has had with him in years. She got up quickly and gave him a hug, feeling the tears break away once again, “Dad, it’s okay.”
At first, her father didn’t know what to do. He hesitantly kept his arms away from touching her. Until, she felt him put his arms around her back, and gave in, resting his head in the crook of her shoulder. He cried silently in her arms, “I’m so sorry, babygirl. I don’t deserve this from you. I don’t know how you could forgive me. I understand if you don’t.”
By meeting Christen, she learned how to forgive herself with Allie. That allowed her to be able to do something she never thought that she could ever do.
And that, is forgiving her own father.
For all the emotional torment he put her through.
She had learned to forgive him.
A year ago, she would never be able to do this. To be in front of him, or even to cry in front of him.
But now, she can.
She sniffled feeling the tears run down her own cheeks, “I just wanted my dad.”
“I know…” He looked at his daughter and nervously spoke back up, “I wish I can fix things between us. I understand if it’s too late… Just know, that I have been watching what you’ve been doing in Chicago” He sighed once he finished saying the last word looked at her with a weak but proud smile, “And… And I couldn’t be prouder of the woman you’ve become today. I’m so proud of my girl.”
He hugged her tighter, a hug filled with, what felt like real, fatherly love to Tobin. Something, she hasn’t felt with her father in a long, long time. Hearing him say those words after all these years, impacted her in ways she never thought it would.
All these years growing up playing soccer, she searched for those words. After everything that happened, she never let herself care for hearing those words again. Truth is, being accepted by her father was something she always looked for, even after she left.
She wanted him to make him proud.
However, she buried those feelings deep inside and chose to ignore them.
She chose the easy way out.
What a thing forgiveness does for someone. How, it can heal one’s pain and… give clarity.
Something, she looked for, for so many years.
“We can start now.” She said, feeling relief spread across her chest, “But dad?”
“I want you to meet someone. We-kinda have to go, like now.”
“Who’s the lucky guy?”
She looked at him confused, “Oh wait. I never told you, I kind of kept it secret… I’m gay.”
He laughed nervously, “Oh, I guess that’s uh, something I missed out on apparently.”
Tobin pulled out a black, satin box from the pocket of her skinny jeans, and opened it, “She’s really special to me dad.”
Her father smiled down at the ring and looked back up at her, “I can’t wait to meet the lucky girl.”
She smiled back, “I can’t wait for her to meet you too.”
Christen looked nervously around the market, anywhere but Tobin’s mother’s eyes. She chuckled as she fixed her burnt orange tank and tucked it slightly into the front of her light jean shorts, “Ha-uh…Yeah, Tobin.”
“How’d you two meet?”
Christen noticed that Cindy, Tobin’s mother, checked her watch for the sixth time this evening. She would consistently look at her watch every five minutes and then her phone. Something felt a little fishy to Christen, like Cindy was stalling.
Nonsense Chris, stop speculating.
“Uh, my cat.” Christen cleared her throat when she saw Cindy raise a questioning eyebrow, “Yeah so cat got stuck, on-on the top of the counter-no-no, cabinet, obviously. I meant…” Why am I so nervous! She raised her hand up high and gulped, mimicking the raised eyebrows of Tobin’s mom before catching herself and relaxed, “Cabinet. I-uh called 911 and Tobin rescued my cat... That’s when I first met her.”
Cindy stood there with the pomegranate in her hand, “Huh.” And turned around slowly, walking towards the greens section, checking her watch again.
Huh? That’s it. Just, ‘Huh’.
Christen stood there for a second, before walking double the pace to catch up to the mom.
“Yeah-so, Tobin jumped out a second story window!” Christen said, trying to create some type of conversation. Her mother turned around quickly, “She did WHAT!”
Christen replied quickly to do some damage control, “For-a-baby! For, a baby. She had no-where to go and the building was going to explode. So, um… she jumped.”
“Anddd-I’m a nurse, and I took care of her. I was um… I had,” Christen paused for a moment as she pointed at herself proudly, smiling when she remembered how Tobin was her anonymous donor, “I had leukemia… And Tobin found out so, in that same hospital bed, with ribs jacked up and a shoulder, concussion and all… she asked to be my anonymous donor when I wasn’t there after finding out we’re a match.”
Cindy smiled, “That’s my girl. How’d. you find out it was her?”
She saw Tobin’s mother so proud of her, proud of how selfless her daughter is.
“Yeah… We were at a baseball game and I hit her ribs,” Christen paused for a moment smiling to herself again, looking up to catch the worrysome look that spread across Tobin’s mother’s face.
“You hit her…”
Do better Chris.
“…To catch a ball, promise it wasn’t on purpose!” Christen replied quickly again to do more damage control. Luckily, Ms. Heath’s face relaxed and she felt like she was safe to continue to speak.
“So yeah, that is how our story began. She saved my life too, Ms. Heath.”
“I’m so sorry about the leukemia honey, I can only imagine how terrible it is to go through it.” Tobin’s mother said, with a reassuring squeeze of Christen’s arm, “I can see so much light in you, Tobin is so lucky to have you.”
Christen held her breath and let it all go with a laugh, “Gosh-okay see you had me scared for a second there. I thought you were having second thoughts about me!”
“Oh no! I absolutely adore ya,” She looked at her watch again, frowning.
“Is everything okay? You keep… looking at the watch.” Christen looked at the watch with narrow eyes and Cindy smiling nervously.
I mean a five-year-old could tell.
“Well, we kind of have somewhere to be.”
Why is she acting so strange…?
Cindy put the only item she picked up in the store back where it belonged and started walking at a much quicker rate than before.
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
They reached the car and began their drive back home.
“Promise me that you’ll always take care of my little girl.” Cindy whispered five minutes into the drive, gripping the wheel a little tighter, “She’s the type to blame herself for anything that goes wrong in her life. Very easy for her to… self-destruct. My daughter, she… she has a gentle heart. Behind all that attitude and flare.”
They reached a red light and she looked at Christen with a soft smile, “Promise me. That you’ll never leave her side. Look after her.”
Without hesitation or a single thought, Christen reached out and in return, took Cindy’s hand into her own, squeezing it lightly.
They reached the house and Tobin’s mom looked up at the sky, seeing the pink skies overwhelm them, with the night almost beginning.
“Right on time!”
Christen looked confused as she looked up at the sky too, “For what?”
“The sunset just began! Come on!” Tobin’s mother took Christen’s hand into her own and lead her around the house and past the pool. Christen became nervous, “What’s going on Ms. Heath?”
“Gosh you really ought to stop callin’ me that, you’re remindin’ me of my age, lady.”
“Lady…?” Christen narrowed her eyes, “So that’s where Tobs gets it from…”
“Yes ma’am! That would be my fault. I used to always call her young lady when she would be annoying…” Cindy giggled to herself and it hit Christen that Tobin definitely thought she was annoying in their first time meeting each other.
“So, I’m going to get up those stairs of that boardwalk that leads to the beach. You follow me in five minutes. Okay?”
Cindy started walking up the stairs and Christen laughed, about to follow her as well.
“Nonsense, why? I can come with ya.”
Cindy turned around and stopped Christen from going up those stairs, “Stay put! Five minutes.”
“Gosh-okay okay!” Christen frowned with her hands defensively shooting up and stood there, watching Tobin’s mom disappear shortly after she warned her from going up the stairs.
“This is weird.” Christen said to herself, walking back and forth slowly, trying to process what’s going on right now.
She looked at her watch about five times before it ticked to the time she could go up those stairs. She looked up at the stairs and breathed in deeply.
“Here we go.” She exhaled slowly.
Going up the steps, she sees small candles lit on either side of the boardwalk or rather, passage towards the beach.
“Oh Tobin… Such a romantic.” She laughed softly, getting closer towards the beach. She took the steps down, seeing more candles lighting up a pathway. This time, there were rose pedals everywhere in that pathway.
Her eyes followed the candles and the roses, that were miraculously staying put despite the slight breeze of the ocean. She looked up slowly when she edged near the wet sand, seeing Tobin standing there in a white, linen shirt with her sleeves rolled up paired with her favorite white, pair of shorts that showed off her long, tan legs.
She looked beautiful, in the most natural way.
Christen laughed, what a girl.
“Babyyy! What is all this?” She looked around and they were alone, “Where’s your mom?”
Tobin laughed to herself as she looked down like she usually does when she is nervous.
“Babe, why are you so nervous?”
“Christen,” Tobin took both of Christen’s hands into her own before speaking up again a moment later when she gathered herself, “Before I met you, I was in a place that… felt so, cold. And lonely… Somehow, I thought it was what I deserved. I hated myself, for the things that you helped me realize was way out of my control. And…”
Wait, is this… Christen gulped, trying to say the words but nothing came out.
“…Then I met you. My life changed the moment I laid my eyes on you. I’ve never, ever… felt this way towards anyone before. I-I’ve never felt so inspired to find the best version of myself… I was fighting a losing battle with myself before I met you.”
“Just let me finish,” Tobin said laughing with her voice breaking and tears started to fill the rim of her eyes, “With you, I learned how to forgive myself. And it… it changed my life.”
The tears broke away and she sniffled, keeping her eyes trained on the girl who looked like an angel brought down from heaven.
“You taught me what love is and you helped me find myself again. I never knew what happiness felt like until I was with you… I never thought I could feel so alive… And this feeling I get when I’m with you… Chris-it’s like I’m in a constant feeling of free fall. I guess what I’m trying to say is…” She reached behind her back pocket and pulled out a small, black box.
Oh my god.
Oh my god.
Oh my shit!!!
She’s going to propose!
How could I not figure this out!!
“I don’t want this feeling to ever end… I want us to be forever.”
“I’m crazy, I have mood swings.” Christen yelled out backing away, feeling tears of her own run down her cheeks.
“I love your crazy and all those mood swings Chris.” She said, smiling as she matched her steps.
“I’m a mess in the mornings.” She whispered, her heart beating faster than it ever has before.
“You’re my mess… a mess I absolutely adore it,” Tobin got down on one knee, “I want us to be forever.”
She opened the box, to reveal this beautiful ring.
Christen gasped, trying not to bring her hands up but she deemed it necessary to hide her jaw dropping at the sight of the large diamond.
She started crying, “Baby…”
“Baby,” Tobin repeated slowly after her as she choked back on her own tears laughing at the same time.
“Will you marry me?”
“OFCOURSE you idiot! You’re such an idiot, how could you do this!”
Tobin laughed louder than she has ever before, her heart thumping louder in her ears, trying to put the ring on Christen’s finger but Christen was doing the…
“Baby, are you doing your pee pee dance right now?”
“SHUT UP! I don’t know what else to do!” Christen laughed out loud, watching the ring be put on her finger and then it really hit home. Tobin’s family started appearing from the shadows, cheering the two of them on.
“C’mere, I wanna kiss ya…” Tobin leaned forward and gave Christen the softest kiss, “Fiancée, has a nice ring, doesn’t it?”
Christen laughed out loud, hearing her sister’s yell combined with Alex, and the rest of her family joining in to cheer them on.
They all came in turns, hugging each girl before they all disappeared one by one into the house to give the two of them some privacy while the sunset was still there. Tobin and Christen sat side by side on the damp sand, watching how the night grew darker by the minute.
At this point, it was just them, the clear skies lit by the moon ahead, and the slight breeze from the ocean waves hitting the shore.
“How did you even get them here?” Christen said, resting her head on Tobin’s shoulder.
“Well, I had to ask your dad for your hand in a very unorthodox way… safe to say it was scary. But apparently he knew all about the firefighter that drives you ‘off the walls’. And, they came three days later.”
“He said yes, just like that?” Christen questioned out of curiosity.
“No clearly he said no Chris, why else would be here.” Tobin said sarcastically and immediately regretted it when she felt Christen raise her head from her shoulder, “I’m kidding. I love you.”
“I love you toooo baby!” Christen was too much in a state of happiness to be annoyed at her girlfri-scratch that… Fiancée. So, she rested her head back on her lover’s shoulder, “Your dad seemed cool. I didn’t know he was going to be here.”
“Yeah… me neither, but we um… talked,” Tobin put her arm around Christen’s back and hugged her closer, “It was… good. I feel happy. Everything feels just right now, especially now that I’m by your side.”
“You realize there’s no turning back, right?” Christen said quietly, intertwining her fingers with Tobin’s free hand.
Tobin smiled and looked ahead at the small waves that would crash against the low tide’s shoreline, “Yes, yes I do.”
“You’re stuck with me, forever. You realize that?”
"Get ready for a world of hurt."
"Baby, why are you acting like I'm going to war."
"Mmm, just gotta warn ya."
"Mmm, I'm good. Besides, you're the one that's stuck with me forever, lady."
"OOOOKAY don't start with me," She shoulder checked Tobin, "We're barely even engaged for two minutes and you're already calling me that…"
Tobin checked her back, "Don't annoy me and we'll be good."
"Wait a minute... so it's true?" Christen questioned.
“Your mom says that word when you would annoy her…” Christen said out loud as she got up putting two and two together, "And I annoy you! That's when you call me lady!"
She stomped away quickly, Tobin scurried up and started walking at a faster pace after her.
"BABE! Are you seriously mad right now…? I say it to annoy you!" She called out on Christen, who started walking through the deep sand, but not really getting far, "Baby..."
Tobin started laughing out loud when she saw Christen swing her arms swinging back and forth dramatically with anger and then she turned around.
“Seriously, you’re laughing?” Christen rolled her eyes and proceeded to walk her walk of anger.
She sprinted after her laughing as she called out on her.
"No!" Christen started to pick up the pace but it was too late. Tobin somehow already reached her and wrapped her strong arms around Christen's waist, halting the two to a stop.
"Stop, love me again."
"No!" Christen rebelled, trying to escape but she wasn't getting anywhere.
“Love me again?”
Tobin turned Christen around and Christen knew exactly what she was going to do. The firefighter raised her eyebrows to challenge her, at the same time asking her through her eyes is she going to stop or not.
But, Christen frowned again and looked away.
"Okay, have it your way."
That made Christen look back at Tobin nervously, “No.”
Tobin shrugged. Truth be told, she didn’t care.
"Don't you-dare-AH!" Christen's warning turned into a yelp once Tobin picked her up and put her over her shoulder, turning around and started her walk towards the ocean.
"Put me down!" Christen yelled out as she was moving around in Tobin’s strong arms like she was a fish out of water hitting her fiancée’s back, "I swear Tobin! No sex for a month! You hear me?!"
“NO SEX!” She yelled out, again.
“You’re not making your case any better babe,” Tobin said calmy as she was laughing, reaching the water, "Besides, I have been wanting to do this all... week... long."
"Baby-please no I'm sorry-sex for a month--sex for a month! Sex every day!"
"Too laaaate!" Tobin singsonged out loud and threw Christen into the water once the water was up to just at the middle of her thigh. Christen reappeared from beneath the water moments later with her mouth wide open, "I. Am. Going to KILL YOU!"
Tobin laughed out loud, "Not if you can’t catch me!" She turned as fast as she could and started to run, very, very... slowly, through the water.
Until, she heard Christen dive forward and yank Tobin back hard, into the water, laughing hysterically as she kept her under the water.
Tobin positioned herself between Christen's legs beneath and jumped up with all her force, "No-no-no! I surrender! I surrender!" Christen begged as she was laughing, feeling herself go backwards into the water.
"You surrender!?!" Tobin yelled out, practically brought to tears from the laughter after hearing Christen's shrill, girly scream she's never heard before. Christen reappeared from the water coughing and wiping away the water from her eyes.
"Yes damnit! I said that already!" Christen frowned, coughing, trying to take out the water in her ears.
"God, I love that frown."
"I love you."
Christen crossed her arms and looked away, pouting. Or, trying to hold a frown.
While, in the water.
"I love youuu?" Tobin said, testing the waters, tilting her head to the side as she inched closer, any minute now.
A minute passed and Tobin couldn't handle it. She was really pouting.
"You win. I surrender. Now tell me you love me because I miss you and it's been too long since I heard those words."
“You’ll be hearing those words for a very long time, you’ll be okay…” Christen looked at her seeing that Tobin was still waiting and laughed out loud.
“Fineee… you big, sexy dork.”
“Your. Big, sexy dork.” Tobin said, pausing between every word, correcting Christen for her poor choice in words. Christen giggled, wrapping her arms around Tobin’s neck while in the water that wasn’t so cold anymore.
“My.” Christen smiled and kissed Tobin’s right cheek, “Big…”
And she kissed the other cheek.
And then she kissed her nose laughing out loud, “Sexy.”
Tobin’s radiant smile appeared and Christen couldn’t help but do the same as she leaned in closer to her lover, stopping right before her lips.
“Dork,” She brushed her lips against Tobin’s and kissed her wet lips, breaking away shortly after, “I can’t wait until I spend forever with you.”
Tobin pulled her back in to give her a kiss, that could say a thousand words. Their chests were pressed against each other, both lost in the moment.
It was a kiss of security, a kiss of passion…
A kiss filled with reassurance. Where in that moment, both worlds collided and became one.
“Me too.” She whispered out, catching her breath while closing her eyes and pressed her forehead against Christen’s, “Forever with you is the only thing I need in my life.”
“You’re such a sap.”
“Shut up and kiss me.”
Christen laughed at the command and began to inch closer smiling, “Can we kiss forever?”
“Not sure…” Tobin said, acting like she was thinking hard for a moment.
“But it sounds like a good idea,” She continued, placing subtle yet sweet kisses traced along Christen’s salty jawline and stopped at her ear, “Let’s try it.”
“Yeah?” Christen muttered, shuddering at the feeling of Tobin’s hot breath near her ear as the beating of her heart went haywire. Her heart, that switched between two elements rapidly: one, excitement; the other, adrenaline. Her heart, which flooded with emotions so strong and passion so resilient; together, creating a feeling of free fall for the both of them.
There was nowhere in the world that she wanted to be but right here, stuck in this moment.
With the girl who taught her what love truly feels like.
She looked for Tobin’s lips and found them, kissing her one time and Tobin happily nodded in agreement after breaking away.
“I love you.”
This is it. I must say, it's been a ride. It took me a really long time to get myself to write this chapter. Maybe a part of me didn't want to let this go so I wouldn't write it. Rather, avoid writing it... To avoid letting this be the end. To write this chapter, it meant that I need to close a chapter of my own. A chapter that I clung onto dearly. And this story, often defined my feelings at times. Feelings I felt, that I never thought I would ever feel. I'm sure many of you feel the same. I enjoyed writing this chapter so much though, because this chapter really captures some of the realest emotions I have felt these past few years. Everything I wrote, every lesson Tobin learned. I learned it in a different way. Every experience, every emotion. Anyways... I hope I gave you guys what you've been waiting for. More importantly, that I gave you guys the ending that you all deserve.