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WoSo Age Play Oneshots

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Whenever she felt the pressure of hands on her chest, gently shaking her until she woke up, Tobin knew that it was going to be a good day. Normally, it was a war to get Christen out of bed in the mornings, and so on the days that Christen was the one urging Tobin to get up, there was really only one scenario. 

"Mommy," whispered a little voice. "Time ta get up."

Tobin opened her eyes slowly, taking in the mess that was Christen's bedhead, and the adorable little smile on her face. Yawning, Tobin leaned up on her elbows and gave her baby one in return. 

"Good morning, sunshine." 

Christen gave a little giggle at the nickname, and crawled to sit on Tobin's legs, leaning her head against the older woman's chest. 

"Mornin', Mommy." 

Tobin shifted her weight to one elbow so that she could wrap the other arm around Christen, allowing the little one to suck on a piece of her hair.

"How old are you today, sweetheart?" 

Christen had to think about it for a while, her little brain working a mile a minute as she tried to come up with the answer. Finally, she held up two fingers. 

Tobin smiled softly- she'd had a hunch that she had a very little girl on her hands today. Christen hopped off of Tobin's legs and jumped out of the bed, looking back at her wife and gesturing for her to follow. Tobin groaned as she got up, sliding her slippers onto her feet and following Christen towards the kitchen. 

"What do you want for breakfast today, sunshine?" 


Tobin sighed in relief- normally, her little girl wanted waffles, or donuts. Both of which would require more work for her, and she was still definitely not awake enough for that. But berries, she could do. Pulling the carton of raspberries from the fridge, she rinsed them off as Christen swung her legs, sitting at the table and waiting patiently for her food. Tobin poured some of Christen's favorite cereal into a bowl, then topped it with almond milk and the raspberries. 

Christen's hand was a little shaky as she gripped her spoon, Tobin nursing a cup of coffee beside her. 

"Do you need Mommy's help, angel?" 

Christen shook her head, taking another spoonful of cereal. Only a little bit of milk spilled onto her t-shirt as she crunched her cereal. 

When Christen had finished her breakfast, Tobin picked her up out of her chair and carried her back to the bedroom. Setting her down on the bed, she pulled open the bottom drawer of their dresser, the one which held all of Christen's little clothes. 

"Do you want to pick today?"

Christen shook her head, her thumb drifting absently to her mouth. 

"Mommy pick." 

Tobin grinned, digging through the drawer and finding a pair of flowery leggings and a sky blue shirt with a unicorn on it. Instead of panties, she reached to the back of the drawer and fetched a pull-up. Finally, a pair of colorful socks. 

"Okay, baby girl. Let's get you dressed for the day!"

Christen hopped off the bed, raising her arms up to let Tobin get her t-shirt off. She smiled happily when she saw the unicorn shirt, but bit her lip nervously when she saw the pull-up in Tobin's hand. 

"Don' need a pull up, Mommy."

Tobin raised her eyebrows, sliding Christen's sweatpants off of her legs, followed by her panties. 

"Are you sure, sunshine? Because I think you do. You're pretty little today, and little girls need pull-ups."

Christen gave Tobin a pout, but she didn't argue further with her Mommy, and Tobin slid the pull-up over her thighs and over her crotch. 

"There you go, honey. Thank you for listening so well." 

Once Tobin had gotten Christen into her leggings, the little one's smile had returned, and she gave Tobin a big kiss on the cheek. Tobin pulled her baby into her arms and returned the gesture, then went to get dressed herself. Christen waited for her on the bed, playing absently with a curl of her hair. When Tobin returned, she brushed the mane out and pulled it back into pigtails on each side of Christen's head.

"There's my sweet baby girl," she said, kissing Christen again, this time on the forehead. "You're such a cutie pie!" 

Christen giggled, grabbing Tobin's hand and pulling her out towards their den. 

"Wanna draw pictures, Mommy."

Tobin smiled, going to a drawer and pulling out Christen's coloring book and crayons. So, it was going to be a quiet day. 

She brewed herself a second cup of coffee and pretended to read her book, but really she was watching Christen as she focused on her coloring book. She gripped the brown crayon with her fist, trying to stay inside the lines of the Disney picture but not making a fuss when bits of color escaped from their confines. Her brow was furrowed in concentration as she colored the picture. Tobin could have watched her forever, but her baby was finished in only around twenty minutes, and poking Tobin's leg to get her attention. 

"For you, Mommy."

Tobin looked down at the coloring book, and her smile grew even wider. 

The outline was a picture of Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, but Christen had colored her hair a lighter brown than the actual character's. Her dress was a bizarre mixture of blue, black and bright purple, the last one being Christen's favorite crayon, which she used on every single pictures she drew. Underneath the picture, in a shaky scrawl, were written the just legible words To Mommy love Christen. 

Tobin pulled her baby up onto her lap, giving her a series of kisses all over her face. 

"I love it, baby! Can I put it on the fridge?" 

Christen nodded proudly, and watched attentively as Tobin carefully tore it from the book, then followed her until they reached the kitchen, where Tobin used a butterfly magnet (a purchase of little Christen- God, Tobin had been so happy that Christen wanted that magnet instead of the huge puppy stuffie, because the older woman absolutely would have shed the hundred dollars at the sight of her little princess's big eyes) to pin the picture to the fridge. 

"There we go, sunshine." 

Christen clapped her hands happily at the sight of her picture on the fridge. 

"What else do you want to do today, bug?"

Christen had to think about it for a moment, bringing her thumb back up to her mouth and starting to suck absently. Some of Tobin's teammates had rules about their babies sucking their thumbs- Kling in particular wouldn't let Moe's hands anywhere near her mouth, because they played outside so much- but Tobin didn't have a real problem with it. Especially not when it was so adorable.

Her face lit up with an idea, and she clapped excitedly. 


Tobin hesitated- board games could be a little bit complicated for her sunshine when she was this little. But, if it would make Christen happy... 

"Do you remember the rules, sunshine?" 

Christen nodded happily, then ran to get the game. 

Two games of Candyland- and one win for each of them- later, Christen's tummy was grumbling. Her breakfast hadn't been that big, after all. They had some leftover pizza in the fridge, and so Tobin went to heat it up, two pieces for Christen and one for her. 

Fifteen seconds exactly in the microwave- no more, no less- later, and warm pizza was making its way down into Christen's tummy. She smacked her lips happily, taking little sips of her juice box in between bites. A little bit of sauce stained her upper lip, and Tobin reached over with a napkin to wipe it off. 

"Okay," she said after they had finished their meal. "I think it's naptime for little girls." 

Christen pouted.

"Don't need nap, Mommy! Nope."

Tobin laughed lightly at the serious look on her face. 

"Well," she said. "How about if Mommy takes a nap with you?"

"Mommy nap too?"

Christen's eyes lit up, as if she couldn't imagine anything better. Tobin nodded, picking up her baby girl and carrying her towards the bedroom. She herself wasn't very tired, but Christen's eyes had started to droop. The little one snuggled into Tobin's side, and was asleep in moments. Tobin just lay with her, holding her close and petting her hair. Her heart was filled with nothing but love for her little ray of sunshine, and she couldn't imagine any better day than one spent like this. 



Chapter Text

Fat tears were streaming down her reddened face, and she felt around the bed, looking for Puppy so she had something soft to wipe her tears on, a friend that wasn't going to leave her. She was having a hard time talking, as she always did when she was sad. But sad wasn't quite the word for this.





Her cries went unanswered, as they had for the past few days. She was hungry, and wet, and lonely, and so, so afraid. 

"Mommy, come back!" 

Once again, no one came for her. She'd been calling and calling, and the woman who promised she'd always take care of her hadn't answered once. 

"Not again, not again, come back Mommy," she whispered to herself, praying that she would look up and her Mommy would be there.

But Mommy never came back, and Carli was so, so alone. 

Carli woke up with a scream, and tears immediately started falling down her cheeks. She was pretty sure she had been big when she went to bed, but she was definitely a long way from big now. She wanted Puppy, but Puppy was in the drawer. More than that, though, she wanted- no, needed- Mommy. 

"Mommy," she sobbed. "Mommy!" 

Next to her, Hope was stirring, roused from sleep by Carli's desperate wailing. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes, sitting up and looking down at her wife, concerned by the state of the younger woman. 

"Carli? Hon, wh't happen'd?" 

Carli sobbed brokenly again, and Hope pulled the sobbing girl into her lap. 

"Mommy," Carli cried again, and Hope realized that she was not simply dealing with her upset adult wife, but rather with a very little, very sad baby girl. And that was a whole different matter. She felt around in the top drawer of her bedside table until she felt the soft fur of Carli's Puppy beneath her fingers. She pressed the stuffed animal into her baby's arms, and Carli gripped it tightly as she buried her face into Hope's shoulder. 

She wasn't going to be able to get any explanation out her wife while she was sobbing like this, and so Hope picked Carli up and walked around the room with her, petting her hair and rocking her gently until the tears started to taper off.

"Good girl," she soothed. "That's it, there you go."

Carli sniffled as Hope flicked the light on, and rubbed her face against Hope's shoulder again. 

"There's my girl," the older said, sitting back down on the bed with Carli wrapped in her arms. "That's my little princess."

Carli's thumb had moved to her mouth, and even though Hope would normally replace it with her paci, she decided to let it slide this time. The object was all the way back in the drawer, and she wasn't willing to let go of Carli to reach over and dig for it. 

"Can you tell Mommy what happened, sweet Carli?"

The little girl whimpered around her thumb, and Hope petted her hair. So, she was still too upset to talk.

"It's okay, princess," she said. "Take as long as you need. Mommy's here."

Carli snuggled into Hope's chest, pulling Puppy closer and using his fur to rub her eyes. Even though Hope was impatient to hear what had happened to make her baby girl so upset, she forced herself to wait, rocking and bouncing Carli. 

Once the sniffles had stopped, Hope gave her little one a kiss on the top of her head. 

"Did you have a bad dream, baby girl?" 

Carli nodded, and Hope wondered what type of dream would have been bad enough to send her wife so deep down into littlespace. 

"Can you tell me about it, little one?" 

Carli thought about it for a minute, replacing her thumb in her mouth with Puppy's worn ear. Then, she nodded again.

"Was all 'lone," she whispered. "Mommy lef' me."

Hope's heart clenched painfully, and she pulled her baby closer. It made her beyond sad to imagine her poor baby girl, stuck in a dream where she needed Mommy and Mommy wasn't there. Being abandoned was possibly Carli's greatest fear, and not being there for her wife when she needed her was rather high on Hope's list as well. 

"Oh, baby girl," she said, choking back the emotion crowding her throat. "I'm so sorry you had that icky dream."

Carli sucked harder on Puppy's ear, too tired and small to say much. 

"But," Hope continued. "I want you to listen to me really carefully, Carli."

She put a thumb under Carli's chin, gently forcing the younger to meet her eyes. Both pairs were sparkling, but while Carli's were still filled with fear, Hope's were filled with determination, determination to make sure that her baby girl understood. 

"Mommy loves you more than anything in the whole wide world. And, no matter what, Mommy will never ever leave you."


Hope nodded at Carli's innocent, quiet question. 

"I promise. And Puppy heard me promise, so now I definitely need to keep it."

Carli giggled softly, and Hope pressed another kiss to her forehead. 

"Now," said Hope. "I think it's time for my little princess to get back to sleep."

She knew that Carli must still be very tiny when the younger woman didn't protest against the pull-up that Hope slid over her hips. She fell asleep sucking on her paci, holding onto Puppy's damp ear, and snuggled safely against Hope's chest. 

Hope stayed awake until she physically couldn't anymore, guarding her little one against any nightmares that might come to disturb her sleep. She would be tired in the morning, but Carli took priority over everything. Besides, there was always coffee. 

Chapter Text

Tierna walked carefully across the kitchen floor, balancing a pot of water with both hands. She hadn't been quite sure how full it was supposed to be- Mommy always cooked, after all- but it would probably be okay. Besides, she really, really wanted pasta, and she didn't want to bother Mommy for it. 

She slid the pot onto the stove, then looked down at the knobs that turned on the burners. She hesitated- Mommy had told her not to use the stove while she was little. It was dangerous. But, she thought, Mommy would forgive her. After all, she was being a big girl, and doing things all by herself without disturbing Mommy. 

Little by little, she turned the knob, watching the fire get bigger and bigger underneath her pot of water. She pulled up a chair, kicking her feet back and forth as she watched the pot, humming to herself. 

"Baby," came a voice. "What are you doing?"

Alyssa was descending the stairs- she hadn't seen Tierna yet. But, she was about to.

The little girl gasped, jumping out of her chair and causing it to clatter down to the floor. Alyssa's footsteps sped up, and she rounded the corner to see her little one, her loose sleeve hovering far too close to the flame on the burner, and about ready to trip over the chair that she had knocked over.


She lunged forward and turned off the stove, then snatched her little one in her arms, pulling her out of the kitchen and into the den. 

"Are you hurt?"

Tierna shook her head, and when she looked up at her Mommy, she knew that she was definitely in trouble. 

"Get on my lap, Tierna," said the older woman, sitting down on the couch and gesturing towards the spot where she wanted her baby. Tierna shook her head, already feeling ashamed tears spring to her eyes. She had known she was going to get punished as soon as Alyssa had caught her, but she hadn't expected this. The only time Mommy had ever spanked her before was when she had been mean to Mal during a playdate. 

"N-No, Mommy. Don' wanna spanking."

"I know, but it's not your choice, baby. On my lap, now."

Tierna considered her options. On one hand, she really really didn't want to get spanked. But, on the other, Mommy was already mad at her, and she wanted to be good now. Really, there was only one choice. 

So, steeling herself, she draped herself across Alyssa's lap. 

The older woman didn't drag it out, landing three light swats to Tierna's bottom. She whimpered, tears springing to her eyes. They fell as Alyssa hardened her swats, giving her five more before letting her go. 

Tierna was quick to cry when she was little, especially when Mommy was angry with her. Fat, hot tears were streaming down her cheeks, and she really, really wanted a hug. 

Alyssa seemed to realize this, pulling the little girl up into her arms. 

"It's okay, baby," she soothed. "It's all over. I've gotcha."

She cuddled closer into Mommy's chest, still sobbing. Alyssa rubbed her back, whispering soothing words, telling Tierna that it was all okay, that she was a good girl, that she was so loved. 

"I'm s-sorry, Mommy," she wailed. "I j-just wanted t-to not bother you!"

Alyssa cooed softly, rocking her baby back and forth gently in her arms. She ran her fingers through her hair, playing with the little butterfly clips and barrettes that held Tierna's hair back from her face. 

"I know, baby. But, do you know why I had to spank you?"

Tierna thought about it for a moment, tears beginning to taper off. 

"'Cause I broke one of Mommy's rules?"

"Yes, sweet girl. But, do you know why Mommy made that rule?"

Tierna shook her head. She had never really thought about why Mommy had the rules that she did and, quite frankly, she wasn't quite big enough to really think about it now.

"Because Mommy loves you, and wants to keep you safe. Using the stove when you're too little isn't safe, baby, and I would be so sad if my little one got hurt." 

Alyssa kissed the top of Tierna's head, and the little one snuggled closer.

"I'd be sad if Mommy got hurt," she whispered. "'M really sorry, Mommy."

"I forgive you, baby girl. But remember, my rules are to keep you happy, healthy and safe, and if you want food, Mommy will make it for you." 

Tierna wrapped her arms around Alyssa's neck, giving her Mommy a wet kiss on the cheek. The older woman laughed, plastering a line of kisses all across her baby girl's face until Tierna giggled, wiggling away from the onslaught. 

"What were you trying to make anyway, munchkin?" 

"Pasta," she responded. "But I think I'm too small to remember how."

Alyssa hopped up from the couch, carrying Tierna with her. 

"Well, lucky for you, Mommies are very good at making pasta."


Chapter Text

"I told you, Ali. I'm fine!"

Ashlyn coughed again, reaching for another tissue, and effectively undercutting her statement. She had been sick for two days now, and was getting grumpier and grumpier with every box of kleenex she went through. She had downed cold medicine, and headache medicine, and tums, and was trying to rest. It might take a few more days for the cold to run its course, but eventually it would.

But, Ali had other ideas about how to help her fiancee feel at least a little bit better. 

"Come on, love," said Ali, running a hand through Ashlyn's hair and giving her a kiss on the forehead. Ashlyn bit her lip, and brought up a hand to rub at her eyes. She knew that the gesture made her look small, but that didn't mean she was small. Not at all, nope. 

"It'll make you feel better."

The sippy cup on the table, filled up with orange juice, left Ashlyn in no doubt what Ali meant. But Ashlyn didn't need to be little, no matter how nice it would feel to slip down, to just let Mommy take care of her and make it all better. She was big. Definitely very big.  

So, she shook her head back and forth, blowing into another tissue and tossing it into the garbage can. 

"Okay, honey," said Ali, handing her fiancee yet another piece of kleenex. "Just... Mommy's always here to take care of her sweet baby girl, if you need." 

As Ali left the room to go cook up some soup for her ill fiancee, Ashlyn crossed her arms and pouted. It didn't matter that her nose and tummy were feeling icky, or that Mo- Ali- made the best soup ever. Ashlyn was a big girl, who didn't need her Momm- fiancee- to take care of her. Not one little bit. 

She coughed again, and her head spun. A wave of nausea hit her, and suddenly she was clutching her stomach. She tried to force the wave back down, but it just rose higher and higher. She tossed off her blanket and sprinted for the bathroom, just managing to bend over the toilet bowl before the contents of her stomach made their return. 

She didn't realize that she was crying until a sob sent another wave of vomit into the toilet. 

And suddenly, Ashlyn was definitely not a big girl anymore. 


The shout echoed all the way to the kitchen, and Ali was there in only seconds. When she saw the state Ashlyn was in, she went to wrap her arms around the little girl. 

"Oh, sweetie," she sighed. "Did you throw up?"

Ashlyn nodded miserably, reaching out her arms for Ali and letting her Mommy pull her close to her chest and rock her gently. The older woman wet a washcloth with warm water and wiped Ashlyn's face gently. She flushed the toilet, and gave Ashlyn a little cup of mouthwash, mixed with plenty of water because pure mouthwash was far too strong for little girls, especially sick little girls. 

"Mama," whispered Ashlyn after spitting the mouthwash into the sink, where it disappeared in a green swirl. "Don' feel good."

Ali scooped her fiancee up into her arms, and Ashlyn leaned her head against the older woman's shoulder. She made to put her thumb in her mouth, but Ali gently pulled it away. 

"No, Ash. Thumbs aren't for sucking."

Ashlyn's illness, and her earlier fight against going down, must have made her even littler than usual- normally, she never sucked on her thumb. 

Ashlyn whimpered, and Ali deposited her onto the couch, wrapping her up in a fluffy blanket and sitting down beside her. She stroked her hair, running it through her fingers and humming softly. Ashlyn tried to pull her thumb back to her mouth, but Ali took the hand and rubbed each of her fingers. It felt so nice that Ashlyn forgot about trying to suck her thumb and just focused on Mommy. 

Mommy was humming to her, and even though Ashlyn couldn't quite make out the tune, it was still a comforting noise. 

"Do you want some ginger ale, baby girl?" 

That sounded good- ginger ale wouldn't hurt her stomach. Plus, Mommy never ever let her have fizzy drinks, so if she was offering, Ashlyn definitely wasn't going to say no! 

She nodded, and Ali gave her a kiss on the forehead before getting up and heading for the kitchen. She emptied the orange juice out of the sippy on the table, rinsed it out, and replaced the juice with ginger ale. She screwed the cap back on and walked back to the couch, where her sick baby girl was sniffling lightly. 

Where Ashlyn had rejected the sippy cup before, when she had insisted that she was a big girl, now she reached out for it eagerly. 

"T'ank you, Mommy," she said, bringing the cup to her lips and starting to suck on it. It was a mild ginger ale, because little Ashlyn was not a fan of strong things, and it was just right. 

"Slow down, monkey," said Ali, gently guiding the cup away from Ashlyn's lips. "Take little sips."

Ashlyn nodded, and finished the rest of the ginger ale the way Ali had directed. Once it was gone, Ali put the sippy on the coffee table. Ashlyn clambered onto her Mommy's lap, and Ali wrapped her arms tightly around her, reaching for the remote. 

"Do you want to watch a movie, baby girl?" 

Ashlyn nodded with as much energy as she could- not much- and took the offered remote from Ali. She flicked through their movies, looking for the one. She never quite knew what she wanted to watch until she found it, and today it just happened to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The first time she'd made this choice, it had been rather shocking to Ali- while she enjoyed the earlier Disney movies, Big Ashlyn enjoyed them to the extent that she could laugh at them. But, there was something about the simple stories that entranced her little monkey, and Ali was definitely not complaining. 

Ashlyn fell asleep a little way through the movie, but Ali let it finish playing before she hefted her wife up into her arms and carried her towards the bedroom. Ashlyn barely stirred when Ali deposited her on the mattress, draping a comforter over her and tucking her stuffed shark into her arms.

"Have a good nap, bug," she said, giving Ashlyn a kiss on the forehead and tiptoeing from the room, off to cook up some good foods for her baby girl's yucky tummy. 

Chapter Text

"Come on, imp," cajoled Alex. "Bathtime isn't that bad!" 

Kelley firmly disagreed, and she let Alex know it by crossing her arms across her chest and shaking her head back and forth. She was casting her eyes back and forth, looking for the best way to get past her girlfriend and out of the bathroom before the tub finished filling up.

It had been a busy day for Kelley: first, there had been practice, and while Alex had taken a shower, she had found herself rapidly finding her energy again. When her girlfriend had come out of the bathroom with her hair in a towel, clothed in jeans and a t-shirt, it had been to find a hyper little girl, asking for her Mommy to come and play with her. 

They had been playing non-stop since then, and Kelley had only gotten dirtier and sweatier. And, for little girls who were covered in dirt and sweat, there was only one place. 

"No thank you, Mommy. No bath today." 

Alex shook her head, exasperated. 

"Thank you for saying it so nicely, baby, but you still need to get into the bath."

Kelley pouted. She didn't want to take a bath- baths meant bedtime was coming, which meant that the day was over. 

"Don't want to, mommy."

Alex's patience was starting to wear thin- she was tired, she knew that Kelley was tired, and really, she just wanted to read her baby girl a book and snuggle her, but Kelley sure wasn't going to make it easy.

"Kelley, please get in the bathtub."

As if. Kelley glared at the water as if it had stolen her favorite toy, not budging an inch. 

"Kelley Maureen, I need you to get in that bathtub."

Not a chance. Alex stood up and took a deep breath, massaging her temple. She really wasn't looking forward to lifting a squirming little imp up into her arms and depositing her in the bathtub. But, she would if she had to. 

But, she would give it one last shot. 

"Come on, Kelley bear. The water's nice and warm, and I'll put in a whole lot of bubbles, and you can have a cookie before bed. How does that sound?"

Kelley considered. That didn't sound too bad, but she was still unsure. 

"Please, baby. Do it for Mommy?" 

That was what finally got her, and Alex sighed in relief as Kelley lifted her arms above her head so Alex could take her shirt off for her. Really, she was big enough to do it herself, maybe around four, but it was always so much nicer when Mommy did it for her. Alex laughed lightly, tossing her baby's clothes into the hamper. 

Kelley fell into the tub with a splash as Alex poured in the bubbles. The water was still running, nice and warm, and the tub got sudsier and sudsier. In spite of herself, Kelley giggled, scooping up a handful and tossing them at Alex. 

"You little devil," laughed Alex as Kelley splashed her. 

"Oopsie," said Kelley sarcastically, blowing Alex a kiss. "Now Mommy's all wet, too."

Alex reached for the shampoo, squeezing a small drop into her palm and instructing Kelley to tip her head back and get her hair wet. Then, she lathered it onto her baby's hair. All this did not seem to interest Kelley, who was trying to build a tower out of bubbles. 

"Eyes closed, baby," said Alex, and when Kelley obeyed, she poured cups of water over her girlfriend's hair until all the shampoo had gone. Then, it was time to run a bar of soap all across Kelley's formerly sweaty body, scrubbing off all the dirt and grime of the day. Again, this did not interest her baby. 

"There we go, baby," she said once she had finished cleaning Kelley's body (getting her arms incredibly bubbly in the process). "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"Can I stay in a little longer, Mommy?"

Alex laughed. Of course, Kelley hadn't wanted to get into the tub, and now she didn't want to get out. But, her baby girl was too adorable, all covered in bubbles and using more of them to draw on the wall of the tub, for her to say no. 

Kelley giggled lightly for a few more minutes, and Alex checked her phone to see that it was getting late. 

"Okay, imp," she said. "Time to get out." 

Kelley moaned in disappointment, but didn't fight Alex on this one. Instead, she launched herself out of the tub, bubbles and all, and jumped on top of Alex. 

"Ah, baby," groaned Alex, now with a lapful of soaking wet baby girl. Kelley was dripping all over her, and seemed very pleased with herself, demonstrating this by grabbing Alex's face and kissing her on the cheek. 

"Hi, Mommy." 

Alex just shook her head back and forth, reaching for a towel. She swore that Kelley was giving her premature grays. 

She wrangled her slippery baby girl into a towel, drying Kelley off and then wrapping the towel around her hair. She herself was still wet, and so she just stripped out of her jeans and sweatshirt. 


Once both she and Kelley were all dried off and wrapped up in their pajamas, and Kelley had eaten her cookie with a glass of milk, Alex slid into bed beside her still, unfortunately, awake little one. She knew that Kelley was tired- there was absolutely no way she wasn't, and she had been hoping that hitting the mattress would knock her baby right out. But Kelley was a stubborn thing, resolutely kicking her leg to show Alex that she was definitely not tired.

Alex was not fooled.

"It's time for tired little girls to calm down and go to sleep," she said, and Kelley groaned.

"But Mommy, I'm not tired."

Alex raised her eyebrows, pulling Kelley against her chest. 

"Okay," she said. "Then I suppose you don't want Mommy to cuddle with you?"

Kelley shrieked, folding herself closer to Alex. 

"No, Mommy! I wanna snuggle."

Alex smiled, running a hand through Kelley's hair. She felt Kelley starting to relax, and her breathing starting to slow. Her head was tucked against Alex's shoulder, and so Alex felt her baby yawn against her skin.

"There's my sleepy baby," she said. "My precious little girl."

Kelley nuzzled weakly against Alex, the heat of the other woman's body combined with her hands in her hair and her soft, sweet words, bringing her closer and closer to sleep. 

"Mommy," whispered Kelley, before she drifted off to sleep. 

Alex stayed awake for a few more minutes, stroking Kelley's hair. Her baby squirrel could be a handful, but Alex wouldn't trade her for anything. 




Chapter Text

Kristie could tell that her girlfriend was feeling especially bad today. Granted, the mood in the locker room was sour as the team changed back into their sweats and prepared to return to their hotel, and for good reason, but Rachel seemed to be taking the loss especially hard. 

If they wanted any shot at the playoffs, they had needed to win this game. 

And Rachel, as usual, was taking far too much of the loss on her own shoulders. 

"Hey, honey," she said, sliding her hand into her girlfriend's. "How are you doing?"

Rachel just shrugged as they walked out of the locker room and towards the bus, but she was gripping Kristie's hand tightly. The older girl ran a thumb over the back of Rachel's hand, trying to soothe her dejected girlfriend. 

"Rach," she said. "Baby, please talk to me."

"Mummy," the English girl whispered, voice tiny and vulnerable. "'m sorry."

Kristie cooed softly as she guided Rachel into her seat, not letting go of her hand. She should have guessed. Rachel wasn't little very often, but after a bad game was one circumstance where she could almost always be counted on to age down at least a little bit. It was rare, however, that she couldn't wait until they got back to their hotel room. 

"Oh, love, no. You don't need to be sorry."

Rachel whimpered, leaning back into Kristie's chest. As the rest of the team filed past them, Kristie shook her head gently whenever anyone seemed like they were about to check on Rachel. Although the team knew that this sometimes happened, her little one always got slightly embarrassed whenever anyone except Kristie saw her like this. 

"But I l-lost," she whispered. "'M bad."

Kristie pulled Rachel fully onto her lap, rocking her back and forth gently, heart breaking a little bit as she felt her baby's soft tears starting to drip onto her shoulder. 

"No, no, baby girl. You aren't bad, not at all. You played so well tonight, little one. And even if you hadn't played well, you'd still be my good little girl. Do you understand me, Rach?"

Rachel just cried, and so Kristie decided that it was time to play her ace. 

"Would Mummy ever lie to you, baby girl?" 

Rachel slowly shook her head. 

"That's right, love. Mummy will never ever lie to you."

Kristie rocked her little girl back and forth gently as the driver started the bus. Rachel cried softly, just letting her mummy rock her. Her thumb had found her way to her mouth, and while Kristie would normally replace it with her paci, said paci was currently back in their hotel room, in Rachel's diaper bag. And Kristie definitely didn't have the heart to disturb her little one when she was just starting to calm down. 

Rachel had drifted off to sleep against Kristie's chest by the time the bus pulled back into the hotel lot. The older girl had shushed her teammates several times when their conversations got too loud, gesturing towards the sleeping woman in her lap. Her teammates had all given her apologetic looks, and now the bus was nearly silent, allowing little Rachel to sleep.

"Okay, little one," said Kristie, regretfully shaking her baby girl awake. "It's time to get you inside."

Rachel rubbed her eyes, and Kristie had to stop herself from cooing in adoration. Instead, she gestured for Sofia to grab their bags, scooping her girlfriend up into her arms. Rachel's head returned to her shoulder, and Kristie considered every step carefully, making sure that she didn't trip and send her little one falling to the ground as well. 

The inside of the hotel was warm, making Rachel sink down even a little further. A piece of Kristie's hair somehow found its way into Rachel's mouth as Sofia followed them down the hallway towards their room. The woman who was not carrying the sleepy baby girl unlocked the door and deposited their bags just inside. 

"Thanks, Soph," said Kristie, depositing Rachel gently on their bed. "See you in the morning."

Sofia nodded.

"Night, Kris. Goodnight, honey," she cooed at Rachel. "Feel better, little one."

Rachel gave Sofia a tiny wave, and the young woman set off for her own room, leaving her just with her mummy. 

"Hey there, little one," said Kristie, digging through Rachel's diaper bag and pulling out a pull-up and her paci, along with one of the big t-shirts that she used as pajamas when she was little. 

Rachel didn't protest at all as Kristie stripped her out of her sweats, replacing the pants with a pull-up and the sweatshirt with the big shirt. She popped Rachel's paci into her mouth, and the little girl started suckling furiously at it. 

"How are you feeling, baby girl?"

Rachel shrugged, and Kristie lay down beside her, pulling her close to her chest. Rachel accepted the cuddles, still sucking on her pacifier. Mummy's arms were so warm and soft, and it was so comfy there, so safe. 

"'M okay, Mummy," she whispered. "Love you."

Kristie stroked Rachel's hair, pulling the covers over herself and her little one. 

"I love you too, Rachie. So, so much."

Rachel's paci slipped from in between her lips, and Kristie pressed it back in without delay. She definitely had a very, very sleepy baby girl- luckily, there was no need for either of them to move.

"Goodnight, little one," she whispered. "It's all okay."

The last thing that Rachel heard before drifting off to sleep, safe against Mummy's warm chest, was Kristie's soft voice.

"Mummy will be here in the morning."

Chapter Text

Dealing with an injured Sam Kerr was never exactly a pleasant experience. 

Dealing with an injured, little Sam Kerr was at least ten times worse, and Nikki frequently found herself rubbing her temples, trying to come up with creative new ways to keep Sam off her feet while also trying not to go insane with how much she wished that she could just let her little one run around. 

"Baby girl," she said, trying to keep the frustration out of her voice. "Remember what we do when we aren't feeling good?"

Sam groaned, crossing her arms across her chest in an obvious pout. 


Nikki raised her eyebrows, and even though she was annoyed, she had to fight to keep a smile off her face, because Sam was just too adorable, pouting in a pair of overalls, hair pulled into two pigtails and feet clad in kangaroo patterned socks. 

"Are you sure, Samantha? Because I'm pretty sure that Mama has told you what we do when we aren't feeling well."

Sam pretended to think about it, then shook her head.

"Don't 'member, Mama." 

"Well, honey, when we aren't feeling well, we have to stay calm and not run around." 

Not being able to run around was practically a death sentence to little Sam's four year old brain, and her pout deepened. 

"But Mama," she whined. "There's nothin' to do."

Nikki gestured towards the coffee table, where she had already assembled a large amount of options, everything from puzzles to coloring books. 

"Yes, there is! Look at all of this!"

Sam shook her head, pulling her stuffed koala closer and taking a furious drink from her sippy cup full of apple juice. 

"Don't wanna."

The last word in her punctuated sentence was dragged out, and Nikki pinched the bridge of her nose.

"I can't understand whine, Samantha. What I can understand is that Mama said we aren't running around today, so that's how it's going to be." 

Sam kicked the table leg, then winced in pain as her toe connected with the hard wood. 

"But Mama-"

"We're not arguing about this, little one. I want to have a nice day with my sweet little girl, but it has to be a quiet day." 

Some part of Big Sam must still have been present, because the little girl seemed to be considering her options far more carefully than her small brain normally could: a quiet day with Mama, verses a day stuck on the couch, still unable to run around, but probably in time out instead of having fun. 

Nikki's shoulders relaxed in relief when Sam nuzzled her head against her shoulder, reaching for the crayons. 

"Okay, Mama. 'M sorry." 

"It's okay, little one. I know, it's no fun being hurt, but Mama really just wants to keep her little Sam all healthy." 

Sam planted a sloppy kiss on her Mama's cheek.

"Love you, Mama."

Nikki returned Sam's kiss with a flurry of her own. 

"I love you too, dingo. Now, do you want to color some pictures for Mama?" 

Sam nodded, the idea of coloring suddenly a lot more appealing than it had been a few minutes ago, because she could make something pretty for Mama. 

"Don' look, Mama," she said as she opened the coloring book. "Wan' it to be a 'prise."

Nikki laughed and she hopped up from the couch to go refill Sam's sippy cup with more juice. 

"Okay, love. What do you want for a snack?"

Nikki took more time than was perhaps necessary to prepare Sam's cheese and crackers, cutting up an apple and waiting for the telltale sound that her little one was finished with her drawing. 


Nikki gathered up the plate, as well as Sam's sippy cup, and returned to the den. The younger woman had put her koala over the coloring book page, hiding it from her Mama's eyes. 

"So," asked Nikki. "Did you color a pretty picture for Mama?"

Sam nodded, moving her koala away and handing the drawing to Nikki. Her hand came up to her mouth, sucking at the very tip of her thumb as she waited for Mama's reaction.

It was a picture from her animals coloring book, a crocodile that Sam had chosen to color yellow, sky blue and magenta. The water surrounding him was a lighter shade of blue, and Sam had scribbled in simple little fish to keep the large animal company. 

"Like it, Mama?"

Nikki smiled widely, tracing her hand around the outline of the crocodile. Leave it to Sam to choose to color in a crocodile instead of a puppy or kitty or pony. And to, somehow, make a crocodile look cute.

"I love it, sweetheart! Do you want to write your name on it for me?" 

Sam nodded, picking out the black crayon. She carefully spelled out her name, then handed the paper back to Nikki. 

"Thank you, baby girl! How about you eat your snack while Mama puts this up on the fridge?"

Sam reached out and took a piece of cheese from the plate, popping it into her mouth. Nikki used a magnet to pin Sam's drawing to the refrigerator, then returned to sit next to her little one, pulling Sam onto her lap. In the moments between being handed the drawing and returning from pinning it to the fridge, it seemed to Nikki that Sam had gotten smaller, based on the way her girlfriend snuggled into her chest, hands shaking a little bit as she struggled to keep the piece of cheese on top of the cracker while bringing it to her lips. 

Nikki cooed, taking the snack from Sam's hand and feeding it to her, with sips of apple juice in between bites. As she fed Sam, Nikki wanted to sob with just how adorable her little Matilda was. Sam smacked her lips, not letting Nikki pull the sippy cup away from her lips. The way she sucked on it almost reminded Nikki of a little baby, drinking from a bottle. 

"Are you my sleepy little girl?"

Sam tried to shake her head, but was interrupted by a yawn. 

"I thought so. It's okay, sweetie. You can take a little nap, right here."

Sam drifted off to sleep on Nikki's lap, and the older woman stayed absolutely still, even when her legs started to fall asleep- there was absolutely no way she was going to risk waking her little dingo. 

Sam may have been the most dominant player on the field, and Nikki felt so blessed to be the one that the Australian could take off that hat around, to be the one that Sam trusted this much. To be Mama.



Chapter Text

"Not now, no, not now."

Tobin whimpered to herself, rocking back and forth on the bench in the locker room. She could feel herself starting to slip, and she tossed her head around, searching for the one person that could help her, the one person who might be able to calm her down, keep her okay before she ruined everything. 

But Christen was nowhere to be seen, and Tobin was slipping faster and further. It had been a rough game, and Tobin's leg hurt from an earlier foul, and she really just wanted Mommy. 

She flopped down so she was laying on the bench and brought a hand up to rub at her eyes. She wanted to suck her thumb, but there were so many people around, and none of them were Mommy. And Mommy was the only one who loved little Tobin- she was the only one who knew about little Tobin.

Every moment that Christen wasn't in the locker room, Tobin got smaller and smaller, until she could feel tears pricking at her eyes. 

She didn't realize that she was actually crying until Emily's eyes widened at the sight of her.

"Tobs? Tobin, what's wrong?"

Even the simple question was too much for Tobin to handle, and the light tears burst into full-on sobs. 

Every head in the locker room turned to stare at Tobin, and she whipped her head back and forth, searching for a place to hide. There was no place to go except a bathroom stall, and so she raced to it as quickly as she could, trying to pretend that this wasn't happening. Her hands were shaking too much to lock the door, and so it swung back open behind her.

None of her teammates ventured into the stall, but there was a small crowd in front of the door, every one of them wondering what was going on, and what they could do about it. 


Allie had taken the forefront position in the crowd, but even the sight of her close friend didn't do anything to comfort Tobin. 

"Wan' Mommy," she whimpered, unfortunately not far down enough not to recognize that the jig was up, that they were all going to find out.  "Need Mommy."

None of her teammates seemed to know what to do, all whispering to each other in confusion and helplessness as Tobin cried harder.

"What's going on? Why's everyone over here?"

Tobin's ears caught the familiar voice, and she whimpered again. 


The crowd parted as Christen shoved her way through, heart stopping at the sight of her poor little baby girl, arms wrapped around herself as she cried in the corner of a bathroom stall in the locker room. 

"Oh, sweetie," she said, and then Christen was sinking to the floor and pulling Tobin into her arms. The little one buried her face into her Mommy's shoulder, trying to let herself be comforted by the feeling of Mommy's gentle hand rubbing up and down her back.

"Hey, pumpkin," whispered Christen. "It's okay, shh. Mommy's here, you're safe." 

Christen could hear the others chattering in confusion behind them, but it was all white noise. Nothing mattered except her little one, sobbing into her shoulder.

It took Tobin a while to cry herself out, and while Christen hoped that at least some of the crowd would have abated by now, it hadn't. Every single team member was standing in front of the bathroom stall, watching Tobin and Christen with expressions ranging from pity to confusion. 

"There's my baby girl," said Christen, when Tobin's tears had become sniffles. "It's all okay."

Tobin squirmed uncomfortably, pointing with one finger towards the gathered crowd. Christen swore quietly.

"Could everyone wait over there for a few minutes?"

The team nodded and, talking amongst themselves, went to stand where the forward had indicated. 

"M-Mommy," whimpered Tobin. "Mommy, they all- all-"

Christen stroked Tobin's hair. She wasn't quite sure what to do about this- Tobin had never slipped in public before, and so none of their teammates knew. Well, they hadn't known until now. 

"Shh, pumpkin. It's okay. Now," Christen took on a more serious tone. "I need you to tell me what you want me to do about this. We can tell them all what's going on, or we can go home. But, baby, if we go home then they're all still going to want to know."

Christen's heart ached- she felt horrible, asking her baby girl to make such an adult decision when she was clearly not an adult, but there didn't seem to be any other choice. 

Tobin whimpered, and Christen could tell that she was terrified. But, she nodded.

"We gotta tell 'em, Mommy."

Christen nodded, helping Tobin to her feet.

"How about we have Mommy explain, and if I forget anything, then you can add it, okay?" 

Tobin nodded, hiding behind Christen as they walked towards where the team was gathered, faces filled with concern for Tobin. 

Christen took a seat on the bench, and Tobin climbed back up onto her lap, once again burying her face in her Mommy's shoulder.

"Okay," she said. "I'm sure you all have a lot of questions, but please hold onto them for a few minutes."

There were nods, and Christen continued.

"Tobin is very afraid right now, of how you all are going to react to this. So, please, keep your questions calm, and ask me, not her. She'll cut in and answer if she wants to. So, ask away, I guess."

The first tentative question came from Abby.

"What... What's going on? Is she okay?"

Christen bounced Tobin gently as she answered, rocking her baby girl back and forth.

"Right to the point. Sometimes, Tobin gets into a headspace where she feels and acts like a very young child. She'll be okay, but she's scared right now."

"Why... Why was she calling you Mommy?" 

There was no judgement in Crystal's voice, just concern and confusion, and Christen felt Tobin relax slightly. 

"When Tobin's little, she needs someone to take care of her, and so I act as her Mommy. I feed her, play with her, and most importantly, I comfort her when she needs me." 

"How old is she right now?" 

Christen took in everything that had happened in the last few minutes. She hadn't really gotten the chance to think about it, but it was clear that Tobin was littler today than she usually was, possibly littler than she had ever been before.

"Normally, she's around four or five, but I think she's younger today. If I had to guess, I'd say she's around two." 

A tiny nod against her shoulder confirmed the guess.

"Why does... why does she get little?"

AD looked like she wanted to come closer, but was cautious, afraid of frightening Tobin any further. Christen was about to attempt an answer to that question, but a little voice came from her arms.

"Need break fr'm bein' big," Tobin said. "Too much somet-times. Stre'ful."

Several players nodded, as if they could understand the feeling. 

When the questions seemed to have all been answered, Christen rocked Tobin gently as she fixed the team with an icy stare. 

"All of you," she said. "Listen to me carefully. You don't have to understand this, but this is a part of Tobin. The same Tobin you all know and love, and if any of you treat her any worse because of this, you'd better believe that I'll have words for you." 

Twenty one nods, each slightly unnerved at the vaguely concealed threat in the normally sweet forward's voice. 

"Christen," asked Allie. "Can we- do you think she... she wants to talk to us?"

Before Christen could answer, a little hand waved towards her teammates. 

"Hi, Allie," whispered Tobin, and a round of adoring sounds made their way through the gathered women. Christen nodded at Allie, allowing the other woman to approach. 

"Hey sweetie," she said. "How are you feeling?"

Tobin shrugged, still cuddled against Christen. 

"Okay," she said. "You don' hate me?"

Allie took Tobin's hand, rubbing a thumb over her friend's knuckles.

"Of course not, little one. We could never, ever hate you. We all love Big Tobin, and we love little you just as much."

The last bit of fear melted away from Tobin, and she found herself crying again, this time from relief as each of her teammates echoed the sentiment. 

By the time Christen and Tobin were alone in the locker room, Tobin had received twenty one forehead kisses, and Christen had received at least twelve offers to babysit, if she ever needed someone. The last ones to leave were Kelley and Alex, the defender gripping the forward's hand in a way that made Christen wonder if Tobin was the only little girl on the team. 

"How are you feeling now, pumpkin?"

Tobin smiled as Christen picked up their bags and offered her free hand to lead her baby to the bus. 

"'M lots better, Mommy," she said. "T'ank you." 

As they got settled in their seats, Tobin leaned against Christen's shoulder, thumb drifting to her mouth. 

"Of course, baby girl. Did you know something?"

Christen kissed Tobin's nose, heart filled with love for the little one beside her.

"You're Mommy's brave little girl." 

Chapter Text


The bed was all snuggly-warm, especially when Moe was wearing her footie pajamas. She had a sippy cup full of water on her bedside table, and her hair was in two braids to make it easier to brush out in the morning. She had her stuffed unicorn in one arm, and her alpaca in the other- Mommy had asked her why she slept with both of them at the same time, and had laughed when Morgan had responded very matter-of-factly that she didn't want either of them to get jealous. 

Her teeth had been brushed, and she was nice and clean from her bath. It was really the perfect bedtime, except there was only one thing missing.

"Mommy," she called. 

Kling popped her head out of their on-suite, where she was picking Morgan's clothes and towels up from the floor and depositing them in their hamper.

"Yes, jellybean?" 

"Will you please read me a story?" 

Kling dropped off the clothes and made her way to sit on the edge of the bed, beside Morgan. 

"Of course, sweetheart. Thank you for using your pleases. What do you want to hear tonight?"

Morgan didn't even have to think about it before she was wiggling around the bed in excitement, pointing to the book on her bedside table. 

"Madeline, Mommy!" 

Kling laughed. Really, she hadn't even had to ask- she didn't even know why they owned other books, when the adventures of one little French girl seemed to be the only story that ever interested Morgan. 

Climbing into bed beside the younger woman, Kling let Moe rest a head against her shoulder as she opened the book. 

"Don't you have this book memorized by now, jellybean?" 

"Just read it, Mommy," Morgan giggled. "And make sure you do the voices!"

"Alright, little one," she said.

Kling barely needed to look at the book anymore to know what it said. 

"In an old house in Paris, all covered with vines," she began. "Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines." 

By the time she was halfway through, making sure to use her best French accent for Miss Clavel, she could tell that Morgan was getting sleepy. The little one had let go of alpaca to take a drink from her sippy cup, and when she picked the stuffie back up, she rubbed it against her face, in a classic little girl sign of exhaustion. 

By the time Kling read the final sentence, Morgan's eyes had drifted shut, and she hoped against hope that her baby girl had fallen asleep. But, as the older woman went to turn off the light, a small voice interrupted her. 

"Again, p'ease?"

Kling laughed. 

"You'll be asleep before I finish, jellybean."

Morgan shook her head. 

"Nuh uh, Mommy." 

It was a clear lie, but Kling opened the book back to the beginning. 

"Okay, baby. But after this time, it's time to sleep. Deal?"

"Deal," yawned Morgan. 

Kling could tell that her little one was trying very hard to stay awake, but she was just too small and too tired to do so. Moe had fallen asleep by the middle of the book, but Kling kept on reading, just in case some part of the baby was still listening.

"'Goodnight, little girls, thank the Lord you are well. Now go to sleep,' said Miss Clavel. And she turned out the light, and closed the door, and that's all there is. There isn't any more." 

Silently, Kling set the book back on Moe's bedside table, tucked her unicorn back into her arms and gave her little one a light kiss on the forehead. It wasn't enough to wake Morgan up, but she snuffled softly, as if she knew that Kling was there, that her Mommy loved her.

"Goodnight, sweet Morgan," she whispered, tiptoeing back to the bathroom to start getting herself ready for bed. 

Later, when she slid into bed next to her little jellybean, Kling fell asleep stroking her baby's hair.

And, if she had dreams about old houses in Paris, all covered with vines, it was a small price to pay for the sweet little angel she got to call her baby girl. 

Chapter Text

"Please, Kristie," begged Abby. "I know it's weird, but I can't think of anyone else to call!"

Kristie swore quietly, silently asking God why her. Why now, of all times, did the Courage have to be in Houston? Why did Abby have to have a family emergency now? And why, why, why, wasn't she able to get ahold of anyone else. Literally. Anyone else.

But, her little sister was standing in the door quietly behind the friend who served as her caregiver during league play, holding a stuffed lamb that Kristie recognized from when they were children, and Kristie knew that she didn't really have a choice. Abby had to go, and Sam couldn't very well be left alone.

"Fine," she said, taking Sam's bag from Abby. "Is there anything I need to know about her?"

"She's pretty easy," said the relieved defender. "She'll eat anything you give her. Bedtime is the only thing that might be even a little tricky, because she thinks she's too big for pull-ups. She's not, so I put one in here for if she's still little at bedtime. She's got her lamb, and I put some books in her bag. Call me if there's any big problems, and I'll do my best to help. Thank you so much, Kristie. Really." 

Kristie nodded, Abby took Sam's hand and pulled her into the apartment, and suddenly Kristie was left alone with her little sister. Her littler than normal sister. 

"Hey, Sam," said Kristie awkwardly. Sam waved shyly back at her, and then silence fell. Sam walked, slightly unsteadily towards the couch, and plopped down, snuggling up in the corner and clutching her lamb to her chest. Her older sister rifled through the bag, hoping to find a toy for Sam to play with, but there was nothing except books. 

"Shit," she swore quietly. "What the hell am I supposed to do with her?"

A little giggle came from the couch, and Kristie turned around to see that Rachel had plopped down beside Sam, and taken one of her hands in her own. They appeared to be playing some sort of simple hand game, and Kristie watched as Rachel let her little sister win, placing her hand over her heart as if she'd been shot. Sam giggled again.

"Hey Kris," said her girlfriend. "Do we have any markers? Sam wants to draw pictures."

Kristie wracked her brain. 

"Maybe. I'll find something."

It took three drawers before she finally found a pack of colored pencils. She didn't know where they had come from, but she supposed they were good enough. The closest thing she could find to coloring paper was a notebook, but Sam didn't seem to have any complaints when Kristie presented the objects to her. 

"Look, Sammy," said Rachel. "Kristie found you something to draw with!"

"Thank you," whispered Sam, with a little smile. 

Kristie settled herself in the armchair next to the sofa and tried to focus on her book, but she ended up peering over the top, watching Sam concentrate on drawing. Her little sister had such a determined expression on her face as she gripped the yellow colored pencil. A fond smile crept onto her face. Sam really did look rather adorable, tongue sticking partway out of her mouth, her lamb clutched in her left hand while she drew with her right. 

Sam gave a little clap when she finished her picture, and held it up. Kristie caught a brief glimpse of two blonde blobs standing side by side, surrounded by scribbled little flowers. One of them was clearly Sam herself, but the hair of the other was too long for it to be Abby. It became clear who the other was when Sam shyly handed the drawing to Rachel. 

"Do you like it?"

As her girlfriend praised the drawing, Kristie felt a wave of something rising, something that made her chest tighten. It was only when Sam scooted closer to Rachel before starting to scribble another picture that she realized what it was: jealousy.

For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, Sam stuck close to Rachel's side. The Englishwoman seemed thrilled by the little girl, playing whatever little games Sam came up with. Sam even let Rachel watch her lamb when she went to the bathroom, and Kristie couldn't stop herself from clenching her fists as she stirred the pasta. Her sister had never let her hold the stuffed animal, not even when they were kids. 

By the time they sat down to dinner, Kristie was nearly seething. She didn't know what she had expected- it wasn't like she'd been exactly thrilled about babysitting her little sister, and so it was probably best that her girlfriend had taken the reins, saved her from being forced into the awkwardness that was caring for Sam like she was a toddler. 

"Okay," she said, forcing a smile onto her face and scooping three servings of spaghetti into bowls. "Dinner time!"

Rachel led Sam into the room and pulled her chair out for her. 

"Do you want help, Sammy?"

Sam thought for a minute as Kristie took her seat, then nodded shyly, putting her lamb on the seat next to her. She didn't typically need help eating, but if Rachel was offering, she wasn't going to say no.

"T'ank you, Rachel."

Rachel twirled a bite of spaghetti on Sam's fork and brought it up to the little girl's mouth, then took a bite of her own.

Kristie ate in silence. Goddamn it, why did Sam have to be so adorable? And why, why, why, was she getting so upset about the fact that her little sister liked her girlfriend better than her?

It was fine. Completely fine.


Kristie was sitting on the armchair, trying to focus on her book once again when a crash came from the kitchen, followed by a yell, and then the very clear sound of a little girl wailing.

"Shh," Kristie heard Rachel cooing. "It's okay, sweetie. It's okay."

Kristie peeked around the corner to see Sam on the floor, holding onto her arm. Rachel was trying to comfort her, but Sam was having none of it, holding onto her lamb with her non-injured hand and whimpering.

"Sweetie, it's okay," whispered Rachel, but Kristie could see that she was starting to freak out, especially when Sam scooted away from her, wailing louder. Then, Kristie heard what she was whimpering.

"Hurts." And "Kristie."

"Rach," she said, taking a step into the room. "Do you want to go look and see if we have any band-aids?" 

Rachel nodded and raced off towards the bathroom, seemingly grateful to be able to hand off the crying little one. Kristie approached Sam slowly at first, but when her little sister reached out her long arms for her, she sank down onto the floor alongside her and pulled her into her arms. 

Sam's face was sticky with tears as she buried it into Kristie's shoulder, but they seemed to be slowing. 

"Hey, Sammy," said the older, rocking her gently back and forth. "Did you get an ouchie?"

Sam nodded, pointing towards her elbow, which seemed to have scraped against the chair when she fell. There was a red mark, not bleeding, and it would definitely not have phased her little sister in the slightest if she was her big self, but for a little one, it was the worst. 

"That's no fun," she said. "But you're okay."

Sam sniffled, lower lip still trembling, and Kristie decided to pull out the secret weapon. It had worked for their mother when they were kids, and so it was definitely worth a shot here. 

"Do you want me to kiss it better?"

Sam's eyes widened. 

"Will 'dat make it better?"

Kristie nodded confidently. 

"Did you know that big sister kisses are magical?" 

She laid a small kiss on Sam's elbow, then took the band-aid from Rachel and pasted it over the red mark. 

"There you go, cupcake. All better!"

Sam let Kristie help her to her feet and back to the den, where she snuggled against her older sister's side, head resting against Kristie's shoulder. The older reached up and ran a hand through her little sister's hair.

"Hey, Rach," she said. "Can you put on Beauty and the Beast? The old one, not the remake."

Sam gasped happily. 

"You 'membered!"

Kristie laughed softly. 

"Of course I did, Sammy. You made me watch it so many times, how could I forget?" 

Sam started to doze off around halfway through the film, and so Kristie gently guided her to the bed in hers and Rachel's room and changed her into her pajamas and pull-up. To her surprise, her little sister didn't protest, just snuggled into the blankets and let Kristie take care of her. She was asleep before her sister could ask if she wanted to finish the movie. So, leaving the door cracked in case Sam woke up, Kristie emerged back into the den and laid her head against Rachel's shoulder. 

"You know," said her girlfriend. "I was worried for a minute, but you're really quite good with her." 

Kristie shrugged. 

"She's always been my little sister, and she always will be. Especially when she's littler than usual." 

Chapter Text


Emily blinked awake and took stock of herself. She hadn't been little when she went to sleep- it had been her job to wake Lindsey every few hours, keep track of her possible concussion. But, sometime during all that waking, she had gotten very sleepy, and a sleepy Emily almost inevitably led to a small Emily. 

Still, she had kept on waking her girlfriend, following all the protocols, and now it was starting to lighten outside, and somehow she felt awake now. But, still small. Definitely still small.

She debated shaking Lindsey awake, but it was still in the period where Mama was allowed to sleep. 

But, that didn't meant that Emily just had to lie there. Quite the contrary, in fact. 

So, carefully removing the covers from her side of the bed, Emily toddled down to the kitchen. She wasn't allowed to use the stove, or the coffee machine, or the oven, but that didn't mean she couldn't do anything. 

She pulled open the cupboard, looking for the one thing that she was allowed to make when she was little. Normally, Mama would insist on healthy cereal for Emily, and even when she softened up and let her little girl have sugary cereal, she herself would always stick to her diet. 

But, thought Emily, Mama wasn't feeling well. And Mama always let Emily have treats when she was feeling icky, and so the little one was pretty sure that it was okay for Mama to have some.

Lucky Charms, that was it!

Emily stood up on her tiptoes, reaching for the cabinet where they kept their bowls. They were pottery, so she had to be really careful- Mama wouldn't like being woken up by the sound of Emily breaking something, no matter the intentions. 

Humming to herself, she managed to pull down one of their bowls, then poured the cereal into it. Topping it off with soy milk, she looked at the clock. Still ten minutes before she had to wake Mama up again. 

It took her the better part of those minutes to get back to hers and Lindsey's bedroom, taking every step carefully so as not to jostle the bowl of cereal that she had prepared for Mama. 

She set it on the bedside table, then climbed back into the bed, cuddling back in next to Mama. 

"Mama," she whispered, shaking Lindsey gently. "Mama, it's time to wake up."

Lindsey didn't stir at her first effort, and so Emily poked her in the side. 

"Mama," she said louder, and Lindsey opened her mouth in a yawn. 

"Good mornin', Mama," she said sunnily. 

Lindsey opened her eyes slowly, and Emily was present enough to check over her girlfriend for signs that her possible concussion was worsening. 

All good, so she snuggled in closer. 

"Good morning, Em," yawned Lindsey, maneuvering herself into a sitting position. 

"Is someone little this morning?"

Emily nodded against Lindsey's shoulder, and her Mama wrapped her arm around her, pulling her closer. 

"I've gotta surprise for you," said Emily, after a few blissful moments of letting Lindsey pet her tangled hair. 

"What is it, baby girl?"

"Made you breakfast!"

"Emily Ann, did you-"

"Don' worry, Mama! Just cereal!" 

Lindsey relaxed, and accepted the offered bowl from her little one. She laughed when she was what cereal her baby had decided to feed her, but popped a spoonful into her mouth.

"Thank you, muffin. What do you want to do today?"

Lindsey finished her breakfast, then swung her legs around and made to get out of bed, but was stopped by a little girl plopping down into her lap. 

"Nope. We're gonna be quiet today, Mama!"

"Really?" Lindsey asked incredulously as Emily cuddled against her chest. "You're going to be quiet and calm?" 

Emily nodded matter-of-factly. 

"Mama's sick, so I gotta be."

It wasn't the most interesting day they'd ever passed together, and Lindsey couldn't help but feel guilty that she couldn't play with her little muffin like she usually did.

"'S okay, Mama," whispered Emily, kissing her on the cheek when Lindsey apologized for how boring (her words) she had to be today. "I love you anyway."

"I love you too, muffin," said Lindsey, petting Emily's hair as they cuddled on the couch, watching their second Disney movie of the afternoon. "I promise, we can have fun soon."   

Chapter Text

Her blanket was so soft. Her Mum had bought it for her before she left for Portland, and sewn a patch of fabric onto its fuzzy surface. 

For Ellie: All my love, Mum

She rubbed the surface against her face, and reached under the bed for the box she had hidden from her flatmates. They didn't need to see it- they already thought of her as a little kid. They didn't need to know that she had this. 

"Fuck," she whispered, pulling out the stuffed tiger and pulling it close to her chest. 

Her brain was buzzing with loneliness, and she felt so much smaller than eighteen. She shouldn't be eighteen, she wasn't... she was just a little kid. What the hell was she doing here?

She buried herself underneath the blanket, and she couldn't quite stop herself from crying. It started off as sniffles, but soon turned into full sobs. 


She felt the bed dip as another person joined her in the room. She knew instantly who it was, because it was the one voice in the apartment that didn't remind her of home. 

"El, do you want to be alone?"

Ellie shook her head frantically, pulling the blankets off and revealing her tearstained face to Lindsey.

"Oh, Ellie," said the older woman. "Oh, honey, what's wrong?"

All the teen could do was sob, pulling her tiger closer. Lindsey sighed, pulling Ellie into her arms, blanket and all. 

"It's okay," soothed the older woman. "Just let it out."

Ellie whimpered, letting Lindsey cradle her. She really did feel like a small child, being rocked by her mother, and it only made her cry harder, because every moment she got more and more homesick. 

"Shh," Lindsey whispered. "It's gonna be okay."

Eventually, her tears tapered off, but somehow she still felt... small? She used her tiger to wipe her eyes, and Lindsey stroked a hand through her hair. 

"Do you want to tell me what's up, El?"

Somehow, for some reason she couldn't fathom, she found herself talking. 

"I... I just... I'm too young for this. I'm thought I was ready, but I don't... I don't think I am. I just want my mum."

She buried her face in Lindsey's shoulder and let the older woman hold her close. 

"Oh, baby," cooed Lindsey. "I know. I know."

And, if Ellie could pull herself up out of the fog for long enough, she would have realized that Lindsey did know. She knew exactly how Ellie felt- she might have been the only person close by who did.

"I feel... small," Ellie admitted. "I'm just a..."

Lindsey nodded- she knew the feeling all too well. 

"You're not just a kid, Ellie. You're such a badass. But, even total badasses need to chill sometimes. Do you feel... If you need to be a bit... small, I can help."

Inexplicably, Ellie found herself nodding. 

"You sure?"

Lindsey pulled her closer, gently pulling her tiger away from her eyes and tucking it into her arms. 

"I'm sure, little one. Just tell me if anything makes you uncomfortable."

Ellie nodded, and suddenly she was being lifted off the bed by the American, making sure to hold onto her tiger as the blanket fell away. 

"Do you want a snack, sweetie?" 

Ellie nodded, and Lindsey sat her down on the couch, walking to the kitchen and digging in the pantry.

"Do want some strawberries or some blueberries, little one?"


Lindsey laughed, returning moments later with the snack and handing it to Ellie, along with a napkin. The young Australian scooted closer, leaning her head against the American. 

"Thank you," she whispered, popping a strawberry into her mouth and chewing it slowly. 

Lindsey flicked on the TV, quickly changing the channel away from the violent show it had been left on and pulling up Netflix. 

"What do you want to watch, sweetie?"

Ellie thought about it for a minute, before pointing toward Coco. Lindsey smiled, pressing play, then moving her hands to fiddle absently with Ellie's hair. As the film played, she wound little braids into the silky smooth mane, overjoyed to be able to see Ellie relax and lean into the touch. 

As for the young Australian, she was focused on the bright colors and pretty music and cute story of the film, but she was also focused on how nice it felt to have someone playing with her hair. At some point, she had ended up in Lindsey's lap, which was almost as cozy as the blanket, especially with her tiger sitting in her own lap. 

Even when the movie ended, there was no real need for either of them to move- Lindsey was still petting her hair, and Ellie let her eyes drift shut, rubbing her face with a closed fist. 

"Are you tired, baby?"

She nodded, leaning back into Lindsey's shoulder. The older woman wrapped her arms around her bottom, shifting her so she could pick her up. Ellie whimpered as tiger fell to the ground, but Lindsey had already dipped them down to pick up the stuffie and put it back in her arms. 

"There you go, sweetie. I think it's naptime for sleepy kiddos, though."

Ellie didn't protest, just let Lindsey deposit her in her own bed, fetching Ellie's blanket from her room and wrapping it around the teen. 

"Do you want me to stay until you fall asleep?"

Ellie nodded sleepily, grabbing onto Lindsey's arm in the hand not holding her tiger. The American looked down at her fondly, taking a seat on the edge of the bed. It didn't take long before Ellie's grip slackened, and Lindsey knew that her teammate had fallen asleep. 

"Have a nice nap, little one," she whispered, flicking the lights off and tiptoeing out to fire up her laptop. It looked like she had some shopping to do. 

Chapter Text

Lauren had only just woken up, and her first cup of coffee was still warm in her hands as she sat at the kitchen table. She had peeked into the guest room while coming downstairs, and Morgan was still sound asleep, all tangled in her blankets. Her mess of hair was spread out across the pillow like a halo, and her pacifier had fallen out of her mouth sometime during the night. Lauren knew that she would have to find it before naptime- it was probably tangled up in the blankets. 

She had smiled softly at the sight of the sleepy little one- it had been a chore getting Morgan to bed last night, and the minor tantrum that the little one had thrown had exhausted her as well as Lauren. She took another sip of her coffee and reached for her laptop, pulling up the daily New York Times' crossword. 

She had worked through about half the clues by the time she heard a tiny noise from upstairs. Pushing out her chair and setting her mug back down onto the table, she walked upstairs and popped her head into the room which served as Morgan's nursery. 

"Good morning, sweetheart," she said, upon seeing that Morgan's eyes had fluttered open. The little girl rubbed her eyes, yawning, and Lauren didn't bother to suppress an adoring smile at the sight of the baby- her Morgan was such a cute little thing. 

Morgan reached out her arms for Lauren, and the older woman pulled her out of bed. Since she had retired, her motivation for continuing to work out was to be able to lift Morgan like her little girl was the size of one. 

"Good morning, mommy," said Morgan, nuzzling her cheek against Lauren's. Once the older woman had gotten the younger settled in her arms, she gave her a little kiss on the head. 

"How about I get you dressed, little one?"

Morgan nodded, letting Lauren pull the oversized tee she slept in off over her head. Her pull-up was dry, and so Lauren was able to quickly replace them with a pair of panties and pink leggings. A fluffy black sweater and pigtails completed the look. 

"You're so cute," the older woman cooed, taking Morgan's hand and leading her downstairs. When Morgan was little, she was sometimes a little off balance, and so Lauren kept ahold of her hand. Morgan took every step carefully, and when they got to the bottom of the staircase, she pulled out the chair for her little one.

"Do you want some breakfast, pumpkin?" 

Morgan nodded, and so Lauren poured out two bowls of cereal, one for her and one for her little one. Morgan also got a glass of orange juice, while Lauren started another cup of coffee. 

The little one smacked her lips as she ate, and Lauren lost interest in her own food, absorbed by watching the little motions of her baby girl.

"Thank you, Mommy," said Morgan when she finished, taking the last sip of orange juice from her plastic cup. Lauren swooped in to gather the dishes, dropping them in the sink. 

"Do you want to go play for a few minutes while Mommy does some dishes, baby?"

Morgan nodded, skipping off to the den. Lauren heard the distinctive rustling of the toy box being pulled out from inside the closet, followed by happy giggling as she rediscovered all of the toys that she hadn't seen for a long time- since the last time she had been little at Lauren's. 

She was scrubbing Morgan's plastic bowl when she heard the crash, followed by the unmistakable wail of a little girl. 

Dropping the dishes back into the sink, Lauren raced into the den.

"Moe! What happened?"

It became clear exactly what happened when she saw Morgan clutching her foot, her toy castle lying on its side. Her face was red, and she was crying in pain. 

It wasn't a very heavy castle, but it was certainly enough to hurt- especially when it landed right on Morgan's sensitive toes. 

"Oh, babygirl," she cooed. "Did you get hurt?"

Morgan nodded, whimpering and reaching her arms up for Lauren. The older woman bent down and scooped the sniffling girl up into her arms. 

"It's okay, baby," she said, carrying her back to the kitchen and depositing her into the chair. Gently, she took Morgan's foot into her hand and examined the wound. 

Really, there was very little damage to Morgan's toe- just a red mark. Lauren had a theory that the loud noise and the surprise were as much the reason for Morgan's tears as the actual pain. 

"What do you think, baby? Is it gonna fall off?"

Morgan giggled, tears tapering off. 

"You're silly, Mommy!" 

Lauren placed a hand over her heart, pretending to be offended. 

"Me? Silly? How dare you?"

Morgan laughed again, leaning forward to give Lauren a kiss on the cheek. The older woman took full advantage, pulling the little one into her arms and tickling her. Morgan shrieked with laughter, writhing in Lauren's arms and trying to flee from the onslaught. 

"Noooooo, Mommy! No tickle!" 

Lauren relented, stopping her fingers and planting a kiss to the tip of Morgan's nose. 

Lauren was unconvinced by Morgan's claim that her toe still hurt, and that she definitely couldn't walk, but when the little cupcake stuck out her lower lip and widened her eyes, the older woman plucked her up off the ground and carried her back to the kitchen. 

While Lauren finished the dishes, Morgan swung her feet back and forth and colored in a picture of a unicorn, filling the page with all sorts of blues, pinks, and purples. The older woman lost herself in watching the way Morgan concentrated on keeping the crayons inside the lines, and accidentally washed the same cup three times. 

Once she had dried the last dish, Lauren sat back down beside Morgan, peering over her shoulder at the unicorn. 

"That's very pretty, sweetheart." 

Morgan nodded her thanks, barely looking up as she concentrated on perfectly coloring in the mane. 

Lauren got back up to put the dishes away- her little one was occupied at the moment. But, they had all day for her to spoil her cupcake. 


Chapter Text

"Shh, shh."

Christen bounced Mal up and down, rubbing her back. The little girl was fussy, whimpering out her displeasure. The older woman didn't know what was wrong- she had tried everything she could think of to comfort the little one.

She had tried changing her diaper, she had tried feeding her, she had tried rubbing her sore legs... nothing had worked. 

"It's okay, sweetie," she cooed. "Shh, don't cry. Mommy's here." 

Mal wailed, burying her face in Christen's hair. The older woman sat down on the couch, rocking Mal back and forth gently. The little girl was still crying, and Christen was nearing the end of her rope. She wished she could just ask the little one what was wrong, but Mal almost never spoke when she was little. This, of course, made it far more difficult to care for her. 

"I've gotcha, baby," whispered Christen. 

Mal continued to wail, and the sound was heartbreaking for the woman trying to comfort her. She knew how to take care of kids- she had babysat little ones before, for extended periods of times. But, she had never cared for someone quite as... small as Mal before. She knew how to do it, but when her baby wouldn't stop crying... 

She held Mal in her lap, rocking her and humming softly. The melody was quiet and soft, and she wasn't even quite sure what tune it was- possibly one from the Disney movie she'd put on for Mal last night. 

But, the humming seemed to be working. Mal's sobs were beginning to quiet, and Christen returned to bouncing her gently as she hummed. The baby sniffled, rubbing her face against Christen's shoulder, creating a damp spot on her shirt. 

"There you go, baby," she hummed. "It's okay. Mommy's gotcha." 

Finally, Mal's tears had tapered off, but Christen continued to rock her, rubbing her back. She reached for the side table, grabbing Mal's pacifier and popping it into her mouth. The baby started to suck at it, eyes fluttering as she cuddled against Christen.

The older woman had to stop herself from sighing in contentment at how adorable her little baby girl was. Instead, she hummed softly again, trying to soothe her little girl into a nap. Of course, this was what Mal had needed- just a nice nap.

Christen had tried to put Mal in her crib earlier, only to have her screaming worsen. She guessed that she just needed to fall asleep in Mommy's arms- not all alone in a crib.

"There you go, little one," she cooed. "That's it, it's naptime for baby girls."

It didn't take Mal much longer to fall asleep, suckling gently on her pacifier and leaning her head against her Mommy's shoulder. Carefully, Christen lifted Mal into her arms, carrying her carefully to the spare room, where she set up the crib every time the baby visited. Mal awoke briefly when Christen put her down, but when the older woman tucked one of her stuffies into her arms, she drifted back to sleep. 

Christen smiled softly, covering her baby girl with a soft fleece blanket. Before she tiptoed out of the room, she switched on the baby monitor. Mal's cries were normally loud enough for Christen to hear without the monitor, but it always made her feel better to have it on. Just in case... 

"Have a good nap, baby girl," she whispered, exiting the room and settling herself into an armchair. She opened her book to the place where she had left off, thumbing through the pages, enjoying the few minutes of quiet. 

She loved caring for Mal, but an afternoon of a sobbing baby was enough to take a little bit of a toll- she was grateful for the chance to recharge. 

She got through a few chapters before little sniffles began to come through on the baby monitor. Putting her bookmark in, she hopped up to collect her little one before the crying started again. 

"Hey, little one. Did you have a nice nap?"

The question didn't really compute in Mal's head, and if it did she didn't have the words to answer. But, she did understand the loving tone coming from Christen's mouth, and so she reached her arms up to be pulled from her crib, keeping a hold on her stuffie. 

She checked the little one's diaper, then carried her over to the yoga mat that she had laid on the floor as a makeshift changing table. Mal, unlike many of the other littles that Christen had babysat as a favor for her teammates, was too small to be embarrassed by it. But, she made quick work of it anyway, replacing her little one's wet diaper with a clean one. 

"Hey, baby," she cooed. "Do you wanna play with your blocks?"

Mal gave her a smile, and so Christen pulled her back up into her arms and carried her back towards the living room. On the way, she grabbed the bag of foam blocks that Mal liked to play with. She put the baby down on the carpet, and the little one immediately slumped down onto her stomach, still holding her stuffed animal to her side. 

Christen knelt down and poured the colorful toys onto the floor. Mal grabbed for the biggest one, using it as a base for her tower. Christen built a mini tower of her own while watching Mal, handing over any block that her little one looked at longingly. Mal pushed herself up onto her knees with some effort, reaching higher to put the smaller blocks on the top of her tower. 

"Oh, look at that, baby! It's so tall!" 

Mal giggled softly as Christen praised her tower, then fell back down onto her stomach and pulled her stuffie closer, her thumb drifting towards her mouth, her paci having been left in her crib. Christen knew that she wasn't tired- she had just taken a nice nap. Probably hungry, then. 

So, Christen deposited Mal at the table and pulled out her leftovers from last night. As Mal cuddled her stuffie, the older woman spooned the food into her mouth. 

"There you go, little one," she said. "Yum!"

Mal opened her mouth like a baby bird, begging for another bite. She smacked her lips adorably, and Christen wanted to pop her bottle into her mouth, see the way Mal's lips relaxed around it, how at peace she was. 

But, bottles put Mal to sleep, and there would be time for that later- meanwhile, Christen was content to spoon food into the baby's mouth. 

"I love you, little one," she said between bites.

Although Mal didn't answer, she leaned forwards and nuzzled her forehead into Christen's free hand, and Christen knew that counted as an I love you, too. 

Chapter Text

Alex Morgan was in a mood. It was abundantly clear to everyone who came into contact with her that day, witnessed her glare and heard her kicking her locker when it wouldn't open. By the end of practice, everyone was walking on eggshells around her, afraid to anger the forward even further. 

Everyone, that is, except Kelley O'Hara. 

The defender watched Alex as she stormed around the locker room, making no motions to leave and instead continuing her rage, roughly shoving everything inside the locker, kicking away Allie's cleats and growling in frustration. Everyone else was in rather a hurry to leave, and soon it was just Kelley, sitting on the bench, wondering how long she should wait before alerting her friend to her presence. 

When Alex pulled back her fist to punch the locker, Kelley stood up.

"Alex! Stop it!" 

The forward turned around, eyes furious. 

"Fuck off, Kelley!" 

Kelley was unfazed. 

"Alex, hon, what's wrong?"

"Why would anything be wrong?"

Kelley raised her eyebrows, sitting back down on the bench and gesturing for her best friend to sit beside her. 

"Oh, let's see... Where should I start?" 

Alex let out a wordless scream, and Kelley could see that her eyes were glittering with tears, along with the rage that filled them.

"Fuck off!"

"Sorry, sweetie. Not happening. Wanna come tell me what's up?"

Alex kicked the bench, and Kelley decided to try her trump card. 

"Do you want me to call your Daddy?" 

Out of the entire team, Kelley was the only one who knew about the other side of Alex's relationship with her husband. Sometimes, Alex needed to be smaller, and Servando took care of her. Kelley had only seen Alex little once or twice, but it seemed like a sweet relationship to her. 

That was why it was such a surprise when Alex's knees gave out, and she collapsed to the floor, tears breaking free and sobs wracking her body. She wrapped her arms around herself, rocking back and forth, and Kelley was at her side in an instant, pulling Alex to her and wondering what on Earth was going on with her best friend. 

"Honey," she whispered. "Honey, it's okay. It's okay, what's wrong?" 

Alex was sobbing too hard to form complete sentences, but Kelley did manage to understand a few choked words. Enough words to make her want to kick her friend's husband straight in his cock. 

"D-Daddy... Da' don' want me anym-m-more! Say 'm t-too much!"

Kelley pulled Alex closer, mind ablaze with conflicting desires: first, the desire to slash Servando's tires for daring to hurt this sweet baby girl, and second, the desire to never ever let Alex go, to comfort her and keep her safe. 

The second won out- though she certainly hadn't ruled out the first- and she whispered softly to Alex, petting her hair and letting the forward bury her face into her shoulder, soaking her shirt with heartbroken tears. 

"Shh, little one. Shh, I'm here. I'm here."

Eventually, Alex's tears tapered off, and she went almost limp in Kelley's arms. The only noises coming from her were little sniffles- sad noises, because she was too tired to cry anymore. 

"Oh, baby girl. Do you want to come and stay in my room tonight?" 

Alex nodded, and Kelley sighed in relief- she would feel so much better with Alex nearby, just in the next bed. 

"K-Kewey," Alex whimpered, and Kelley helped her to her feet, letting the forward lean against her shoulder as they walked back out. 

When they got back to the hotel, Kelley could tell that Alex was, although not sobbing anymore, still feeling very clingy, and very small. Sonnett vacated their room with no argument when she saw the state of the older woman, Kelley pulling Alex's key card out of her bag and handing it to the younger defender. Then, she settled Alex on the edge of her bed. 

"Do you want me to run you a bath, baby girl?"

Kelley wasn't expecting her friend to nod so quickly- Kelley may have been her best friend, but she wasn't Daddy. Yet, Alex nodded, sniffling lightly.

"Shit," whispered Kelley as she filled the tub with warm water. She had never taken care of Alex before, not when she was little. But, it wasn't like she had much of a choice, unless she wanted to turn her best friend over to one of their other teammates- abandon her just like Servando had. 

That thought was absolutely unthinkable, especially when Alex gripped her hand tightly after being deposited in the bathtub. Nobody was going to take care of Alex except for her, not unless Alex asked for someone else. And, honestly, Kelley didn't see that happening, at least not at the moment. 

"There you go, honey. Does that feel a bit better?"

Alex nodded, letting her eyes drift closed and the thumb that wasn't occupied holding Kelley's hand migrate up to her mouth. 

In the morning, Kelley woke up with empty arms. She gasped, sitting up so quickly that she almost got whiplash, because Alex had fallen asleep snuggled against her chest, and she wasn't here now. After a moment of panic, she heard the sound of the toilet flushing in the bathroom. 

So, Alex had woken up big. 

The bathroom door opened slowly, and Alex turned bright red when she saw that Kelley was awake. 

"Fuck," she whispered. "Kell, I..." 

"If you're about to apologize, don't bother," said Kelley, gesturing for Alex to rejoin her on the mattress. "It's okay."

"But," protested Alex. "But I... You... You didn't need to..."

"Yeah," said Kelley. "I did. You're my best friend, and I will always take care of you. And more than that-" 

She put up a finger to stop Alex from speaking, from protesting against what she was about to say. 

"More than that, I don't mind. You're such a sweet baby, and it was my pleasure to take care of you last night. In fact..."

Kelley hadn't even thought about it, but the words were natural. The moment she had heard that Servando had abandoned Alex, this was what was going to happen, even if neither of them had fully realized it. 

"In fact, if you want me to, I'd be honored to take care of you whenever you need me."

Alex's eyes widened in disbelief- she looked at Kelley like she was a unicorn, some fantastic creature that she never would have believed was real, and once again Kelley wanted to kill Servando. How cruel would someone have to be, to abandon such a sweet baby girl like she was nothing.  

"R-Really? You promise?"

Kelley nodded, pulling her friend onto her lap and tucking her head against her shoulder. 

"I promise, sweetheart. I'll take care of you as long as you need me, and I swear that I won't leave you."

Alex was crying again, but this time the tears were happy ones. 

"Can I... Can I call you Mommy?"

Kelley laughed lightly, kissing the top of her new little one's head. 

"Of course you can, baby girl. I'd love that." 

"Thank you, Mommy," whispered Alex, slipping back down, and Kelley smiled at the name, and at the way Alex felt in her arms.

Yes, she could get used to this. 


Chapter Text

Rachel giggled happily, pushing her little toy boat across the shallow water in the bathtub. The makeshift ocean formed out of the porcelain basin was swirling around the boat as she prepared to sink it. She let go of the toy and brought both her hands down, palms flat. Instead of sinking the boat, the little splashes of water flew over the edge of the tub and onto Kristie's sweatpants, who was trying to wrangle the shampoo bubbles out of Rachel's hair without interrupting her playtime. 

"Baby," she said. "You know you aren't supposed to splash." 

"Sorry, Mummy," said Rachel absently, already re-evaluating the situation of the toy boat. It had survived one ocean wave, but there was no way it would survive the next one! She was going to sink it!  

Kristie poured another warm cup of water over her head, washing out the rest of the fruity smelling shampoo, shielding Rachel's eyes so none of the soap could get into them. Rachel wriggled away from her, concentrating on propelling the boat to the edge of the tub. 

She rocked back and forth in the tub, causing the water to slosh.

"Tidal wave!"

The water splashed onto the boat, filling it with water and sending it spiraling to the bottom of the tub. Unfortunately, the water also sloshed over the side of the tub, not only soaking Kristie and the bath mat, but a good part of the tiling on the floor as well. 


All the thrill of sinking her toy boat was gone when she heard the tone in Mummy's voice. 

"Okay," she said. "Out of the tub."

As Kristie helped her clamber out of the tub and toweled her off, wrapping a second fluffy towel around her wet hair, the usual warmth of their interactions was diminished. Kristie was glaring down at the floor, growling internally at the thought of the mess that she now had to clean up. 

Her sweatpants were absolutely soaked, and covered with leftover suds. And it would likely take the rest of their clean towels to mop up the mess on the floor, meaning that she would have to start laundry. But, what was bothering her the most was that she had told Rachel not to continue splashing, and her little girl hadn't even waited a minute before either forgetting or flat out ignoring that, and creating an even bigger mess. 

"Mummy-" Rachel said, but Kristie was not yet in the mood to hear the little one's excuses, cutting Rachel off by pulling her rainbow patterned nightgown over her head and tossing the towels into the hamper.

"Rachel," she said, trying not to let the anger into her voice, trying to keep her tone calm. "I need you to go and sit in the time-out chair while I clean up your mess." 

Rachel whimpered, already shuddering at the thought of the time-out chair and beginning to tear up, because it was very clear that Mummy was mad at her. But, something in Mummy's voice told her that now was not a good time to argue about it. So, hanging her head, she left the bathroom and walked towards the backless stool sitting in the corner of their bedroom. It was rarely ever used- Rachel didn't normally act up. In fact, the last time the time out chair had been used was when Kristie had been babysitting Sam, and her little sister decided that it was somehow a good idea to eat each and everyone of the cookies from the top of the fridge. 

Abby had not been thrilled- especially when the little one had gotten a rather nasty stomachache.

As a shamefaced Rachel went to sit in the time out chair, Kristie opened the bottom drawer of the cabinet and dropped their last two towels onto the puddle created by Rachel's antics, soaking up the mess. Then, gathering their hamper, she took off her sweatpants and tossed them in with the rest of the wash and started the cycle. 

Finally, she took a look at herself in the mirror, and counted slowly to ten, calming her breathing. She was angry at Rachel, of course. But, she couldn't lecture her little one properly if she wasn't calm. 

"It's fine," she whispered to herself in the mirror. "You're fine. You can handle your own kid."

Then, opening the door, she emerged out into their bedroom, putting on a new pair of sweats before she turned to look over at Rachel, slumped over in the time out chair, looking absolutely pathetic.

Her heart clenched- the little whimpers coming from the stool told her that Rachel had started crying, staring at the wall. Kristie sat down on the bed and patted the spot next to her. 

"Rachel," she said, fighting to stop herself from calling her little one baby girl or sweetheart. Now was not the time for that. 

"Come here." 

Even though it meant a lecture, Rachel didn't hesitate to jump up from the time-out chair and race over to sit next to Kristie. The elder put a hand on her baby's shoulder, rubbing it gently to give her little one some form of comfort. 

"Rachel," she said. "Do you know why Mummy had to put you in time out?" 

Rachel sniffled, nodding. 

"'Cause I splashed." 

Kristie nodded. 

"Not just because you splashed, Rachel. Because Mummy asked you not to splash, and you did it anyway, and Mummy had to clean a lot of water off the floor." 

Rachel whimpered, still crying. God, how Kristie longed to pull her into her arms and rock her, make all the pain go away. But, there would be time for that once they had finished talking about this. 

"'M sorry, Mummy," wailed Rachel, lower lip shuddering as she teetered on the brink of full on sobs. "'M sorry I'm b-bad!" 

Kristie ran a hand through Rachel's damp hair. 

"Rachel," she said. "You're not bad. You just need to listen to Mummy when she tells you to do something. I hate putting you into time out, baby. I always want to have fun with my sweet girl, but you need to listen when Mummy tells you to do something. Do you understand?" 

Rachel nodded quickly, and finally Kristie allowed herself to pull Rachel onto her lap, hushing her tears. Her shoulders relaxed, and all the anger melted away the second she had her baby girl wrapped in her arms. 

"It's okay, baby girl. It's okay, Mummy loves you so much." 

"L-Love you t-too, Mummy! Promise won't ev-ver be bad 'gain!" 

Kristie smiled softly, kissing her on the forehead. 

"You're really something, my little cupcake. Even if you get in trouble again, Mummy will always love you." 

Rachel snuggled closer to Kristie, letting her eyes drift shut, basking in the bliss of being all forgiven, and so loved. 

Chapter Text

"Okay," said Christen, grabbing her purse and the car keys, making her way towards the front door. 

"You know where her sippy cups are, and maybe feed her in around an hour. She's already had her TV time today, and if she wants to do any crafts, you have to use the scissors for her. If anything goes wrong, please call me. I should only be gone a few hours."

Emily nodded along with everything Christen said, all the while watching Tobin as she followed behind Christen, clinging onto her right arm. 

"Mommy," whined Tobin. "Where you going?"

"I'm just going shopping, pumpkin, and you're going to have lots of fun with Emily!"

Tobin looked unconvinced, clinging to Christen, who laughed. 

"It's okay, love. I'll be back really soon, and then we can have a nice evening together! Meanwhile, you and Emily are going to have a great time, right Em?"

Emily nodded, putting her hand on Tobin's shoulder. 

"That's right," she said. "We're gonna have so much fun, Tobes!" 

Christen gave Tobin a little kiss on the forehead.

"Love you, pumpkin!"

"Love you too, Mommy," said the little one, and then Christen was waving goodbye, and Emily was alone with Tobin. 

"So," said the defender. "What do you want to do, kiddo?"

Tobin shrugged, watching Christen's car pull out of the driveway with a forlorn look. 


Emily sighed, wracking her brains for something that might excite Tobin. If she was going to babysit the little girl, she was going to be the most fun babysitter she'd ever had- not that that was a high bar. So far, Christen had only trusted the very experienced Becky to babysit Tobin, and afternoons with Becky probably consisted of more vegetables and reading than Tobin would have liked. 

"Well," said Emily. "I think we should start with an obstacle course."

Tobin's eyes lit up in happiness as Emily set down her bag and began to push furniture around, creating a path to allow the little girl to jump around the room. 

"Remember, Tobin," said Emily. "The floor is lava!" 

Tobin giggled, jumping across the couch cushions, leaving little imprints of her feet. 

"Emily," she called. "Watch me do a flip!"

Tobin's flip was more like a roll, but Emily applauded anyway, praising the little bit of acrobatics. The little one continued around the obstacle course several more times before she launched herself off of it and at Emily. The younger woman did her best to break her fall, definitely not prepared enough to bend her knees and catch Tobin. 

"That was fun!" 

"I'm glad you think so, kiddo. Tell me," she whispered conspiratorially. "Am I more fun than Auntie Becky?" 

Tobin didn't hesitate for a second before nodding. 

"Mmmhmm! Auntie Becky would'n lemme do flips, 'cause Mama thinks they're dang'rous. But she also don' want me to have candy 'cause she says it make me crash."

Emily laughed at the ridiculous notion of denying a little one her sweets, and another idea popped into her head. 

"What would you think," she asked. "About making some cookies?" 

Tobin gasped in delight, grabbing Emily's hand and pulling her towards the kitchen. She went straight for the cupboard, digging around for a big bowl to mix ingredients in, while Emily searched around the kitchen for the flour, and for other ingredients. 

Pulling out her cellphone, she Googled a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, then quickly returned the olive oil to the cabinet, realizing that it definitely did not belong in the sweet treat. 

Tobin clapped and laughed at Emily as she struggled to find all the ingredients, pulling open the bag of chocolate chips and popping a few into her mouth. 

Everything went smoothly until Emily handed the measuring cup full of flour to Tobin, inviting her to add it to the mixing bowl. Unfortunately, Tobin dropped it all in at once, and it poofed up in a white cloud, into Tobin's face. Emily couldn't stop herself laughing at the sight of the little one, with a bit of flour on her wrinkled nose. She sneezed lightly, sending some of the flour back into the air. 

Emily broke the eggs herself, then handed Tobin the spoon, letting the little one mix the ingredients together. Tobin's tongue was sticking slightly out of her mouth as she concentrated, shoving the spoon through the batter until all the little clumps of flour had disappeared. 

Emily spooned the batter onto the cookie sheet that she had dug out of the cabinet, then set the timer. Tobin sat down in front of the oven, flicking on the oven light so that she could watch the sweets as they began to bake. Emily began to clean up the kitchen, hopping over and around Tobin to put the ingredients back into their proper places. 

The last thing to be put away was the flour, but before Emily could, the timer beeped and she had to pull the cookies from the oven, releasing a blast of warm air. She set them on top of the unlit stove to cool, and reached for the bag of white powder to return it to its proper place. Unfortunately, at the same time, Tobin reached over to touch the cookies, seeing if they were cool enough to eat yet, and the bag of flour fell from her arms and onto the floor.

Luckily, it landed upright, but a large poof of flour came out of the top of the bag, coating Tobin's socks. The little one just looked down at them, and then at the bits of flour that had managed to find their way onto the floor. Then, almost in slow motion, Tobin reached down, and suddenly Emily found herself with a faceful of flour. 

"Gotcha," said Tobin, grinning like a little demon. 

Emily knew that, as a responsible babysitter, she should discourage the throwing of food. But, being Emily Sonnett, she inevitably chose a different path. 

"Oh," she said, reaching down and grabbing her own handful. "It is on, little Miss Tobin." 

It wasn't like Emily had been planning on having a flour fight with her little teammate, but Tobin's giggles were infectious as Emily tossed the powder back at her, and soon both of them were coated in white, laughing like maniacs. So loudly that they didn't hear the front door open. 

"Hey, baby," said Christen, not yet able to see the mess that was her kitchen. "Em, how did everyth- what is going on in here?"

Emily and Tobin froze with identical guilty expressions. All Christen could do was stare. 

"Is that... flour?"

Tobin nodded, walking forwards to hug Christen and spreading some of the white powder on her. 

"Hi, Mommy! We made cookies!" 

"So I see," said Christen, fixing Emily with a look. "But, that's not all you made."

Emily shrugged, bending down to pick up the bag, which was now much less full than it had been before she came over. 

"You," said the striker, wiping her baby's face off with her sleeve. "Bath. And you," she added, turning to Emily. "Clean my kitchen."

Emily nodded, popping a cookie into her mouth. Not bad. 

As the defender prepared for an afternoon of cleaning flour off every surface in Christen's kitchen, Tobin turned to her Mommy.

"Can Emily babysit all the time?"

Christen buried her head in her hands, almost laughing. She had gotten a child to babysit a child.  


Chapter Text

Autographs signed. Photos taken. Media addressed. They were finally back in the locker room, and it was become clearer and clearer that something was very wrong with Carli. Anyone who had eyes could see it. 

The oldest player was shaking slightly- not just her hands, her entire body. Her eyes were wide, and her movements disjointed, almost mechanical. 

They could all understand why, of course. Any of them would have reacted the same way, being jumped like that. They guessed that they just never thought anything could crack their captain's firm exterior. It was... unnerving, almost as unnerving as the incident itself. 

The shakes became even more obvious as Carli tried to pull her jersey off over her head. She yanked at the hem, but the garment wouldn't cooperate. With every minute she couldn't free herself, she started shaking harder.

You're fine, she tried to tell herself. She didn't... Nobody... Trapped! Trapped.

Suddenly, with a dull thud, she sank to the floor, still stuck in her jersey. Suddenly, she was not only scared, she was scared and small. 


She let out a whimper of fear at the sound of a voice behind her, preparing to curl up into a ball. 

"Fuck," said Kelley, dropping down into a squat beside the older woman. "Carli, what's wrong? Are you okay?"

From one glance at Carli's face, it became incredibly obvious that Carli was a long way from okay. Kelley didn't know what to do, and their teammates were beginning to gather around, essentially caging Carli in between themselves and the lockers. 

"S-sc-scary," she whispered. "Comin' to get me."

Kelley cooed, opening her arms and using one of her hands to gesture the team backwards. They didn't seem too eager to go- they were concerned, of course, and they wanted to help. But, too many people were the exact wrong thing. Carli looked at Kelley's open arms apprehensively- Kelley knew that she was just a little girl sometimes, but she still wasn't Mommy. 

"M-Mommy," she whispered. "Wan' Mommy." 

The team hadn't moved backwards, until Ali gave them all a glare, grabbing onto Ashlyn's arm and pulling her fiancee away, causing the rest to follow, leaving Carli with Kelley. There would be explaining to do, of course, but that was not the priority right now. 

"Someone call Hope," said Kelley over her shoulder, and trusted that they would. Meanwhile, Carli relaxed a little bit, allowing Kelley to pull her closer. 

"Shh, little one," whispered the younger woman. "You're safe. No one's going to hurt you, we're all here to protect you." 

Carli whimpered, burying her face into Kelley's shoulder. But, she still felt stiff, and Kelley knew that she had to hear Hope's voice before she would be able to calm down completely. 

Alex handed Kelley the phone. 

"What the fuck happened," growled Hope. "What the fuck happened to my baby?" 

Kelley knew that, if she was going to be able to explain fully to Hope, she would need to hand Carli off to someone else for a moment. She didn't know much about baby Carli- she had only interacted with her once or twice, but she knew that the little girl was easily frightened.

"Just a sec," she said, and she could hear Hope still talking through the earpiece as she held the phone away from her ear. "Can someone come over here and watch Carli while I talk to H-O-P-E?" 

She spelled out the name- if Carli heard Mommy's name, she would need the phone now. And there was no way she would be able to explain it. 

A few women moved forward, reaching out their arms for Carli, but she shook her head and buried it back into Kelley's chest. 

"Hey, love," whispered Kelley. "All your Aunties want to help you. Can you hold onto one of them for a minute, and then you can come right back to me. Okay, baby girl?"

Carli whimpered, refusing. Until another woman stepped forward, offering up her arms.

Suddenly, Carli was on her feet, wrapping herself around Allie like a baby koala. The midfielder whispered softly to her, sinking down to the floor and rubbing Carli's back. 

"Shh, honey," whispered Allie, jumping into the care of the little girl with both feet. "It's okay, you're safe. No one's gonna hurt you, I'm not gonna let them." 

Carli was crying into Allie's shoulder, letting the younger woman comfort her. Kelley sighed in relief, then explained the situation to Hope. After she had talked the older woman down from the worst of her anger- and from screaming the word lawsuit- and reassured her that no one seemed to be judging Carli for slipping down into littlespace, she obeyed Hope's request to hand the phone to her baby. 

Carli was leaning her head against Allie's chest, feeling safer with the younger woman than she would with anyone else at the moment- except for Mommy, of course. After all, Allie was the one who had tried to help her, had tried to keep the crazy fan from getting at her. 

"Can you hold the phone, love?"

Carli nodded, taking the phone from Kelley and whimpering at the sound of her Mommy's voice. 

"Hey, baby girl," said Hope gently. "Did something a little scary happen today?"

Carli nodded, before remembering that Hope couldn't see her. 

"Mmmhmm," she whispered, voice shaking. "Somebody runnin' at me."

Hope cooed sympathetically, heart bleeding inside her chest. She wished that she could just jump through the phone and wrap Carli up in her arms.  

"Oh, baby," she said. "I'm so sorry that happened. Auntie Kelley told me that Allie tried to help you, right?"

"Yep," Carli said, nuzzling her head into Allie's neck, and making the younger woman smile down at the adorable little baby. She was still a little confused as to what was going on, but she did know that Carli was small, and small Carli was absolutely precious.

"Well," Hope continued. "Tell Allie that Mommy says thank you. So, so much."

Carli passed on the message, and Hope bit her lip, trying not to break down into tears at the thought of her sweet little baby, needing her, but only having her teammates- only one of whom had known that she was little before today- to comfort her. 

"I'm going to see you really soon," she said. "And then we can have a whole week where you can just be my tiny little princess, as small as you need for as long as you need, okay?" 

"Okay," whispered Carli. "I love you, Mommy."

"I love you too, baby girl. So, so much."

Carli snuggled closer to Allie as she handed the phone back to Kelley, and the younger midfielder rocked her gently. 

"Thank you, Allie," she whispered, and Allie kissed the top of her head. 

"Of course, sweetheart. We're always here for you." 

Chapter Text

"Are they here yet?" 

Tobin was bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, peering out the window, straining her eyes for the sight of Alex's car. 

"Not yet, sweetie," said Christen, gripping the back of Tobin's overalls, trying to get her to stay still. "Auntie Alex said 3:00, and it's only 2:50." 

Tobin moaned in annoyance, and Christen bit her lip to keep the smile back. Even annoyed and impatient, Tobin was the cutest. 

The little girl spent the next ten minutes pacing back and forth in front of the door, every once in a while poking her head up to peep out the window, looking for a sign that her friend had arrived. 

Just before 3, Christen heard a squeal of excitement.

"Are Kelley and Auntie Alex here, sweetie?"

Her answer came in the form of a doorbell, ringing three times in quick succession before it stopped. Tobin threw the door open as Christen made her way into the foyer.

"Hey, Al," she said as Kelley and Tobin stampeded into the house, towards Tobin's collection of toys. "Tobin has been bouncing off the walls for the past two hours."

Alex laughed, following Christen towards the sounds of little girls beginning a game. 

"Oh, gosh," said the other striker. "Kelley too. She's been so excited." 

The two of them settled on the couch, above where Kelley and Tobin were dividing up Tobin's toy animals. 

"Here," said Tobin, shoving her plastic rabbit towards Kelley, and taking the penguin for herself. "We should make a zoo!"

Kelley squealed in excitement, reaching towards the Lincoln Logs. Christen and Alex didn't bother to suppress their smiles as Kelley pulled the box open and started building enclosures for Tobin's animal figures. 

The two women chatted quietly as Tobin and Kelley built their zoo, Christen getting up and getting them both coffee. Everything was running smoothly, until...

"No!" Kelley squeaked. "That one's for the giraffe!" 

Tobin shook her head.

"But it's too big! The elephant goes there!" 

Kelley reached across and grabbed the elephant out of the little cage, replacing it with the giraffe. 


Where Christen and Alex had hoped that the little ones would work this out themselves, they now looked up apprehensively. Tobin screamed, grabbing the giraffe and throwing it across the room.


Christen jumped up from the couch, and Tobin tossed herself into her arms, burying her face in her chest. Kelley crossed her arms across her chest, pouting as Alex pulled her up into her lap.

"Shh," Christen tried to comfort Tobin. "It's okay, baby girl." 

"Not giraffe," moaned Tobin, and Kelley made a noise making it clear that she absolutely disagreed. "Elephant!"

"Baby," said Alex to Kelley. "Why did that cage have to be the giraffe cage?" 


Alex rolled her eyes, rubbing Kelley's back as she glared at Tobin, still being comforted by Christen. Once her tears had tapered off, Christen looked more seriously at her. 

"Baby girl," she said. "I understand that you're upset, but we don't throw things. Now, I want you to go get the giraffe."

Tobin did, still sniffling, and Alex took the opportunity to look at Kelley. 

"Sweetheart," she said. "I need you to apologize to Tobin for pulling the elephant out of the Lincoln Logs. That wasn't very nice of you, and I know that that isn't how my sweet girl usually behaves."

Kelley shook her head as Tobin walked back into the room. But then, Tobin's face crumbled again- she had seen the gesture. Suddenly, she was sobbing, and Christen was trying to console her for a second time. Kelley looked over at her friend, sobbing in her Mommy's lap, and suddenly there were two crying little girls in the room. 

"'M sorry," whimpered Kelley, reaching her arms out for Tobin. "It can be the e-elephant c-cage!"

Tobin accepted Kelley's hug, both of them apologizing inconsolably to each other. Christen and Alex relaxed, smiling at their adorable little girls. 

"There we go," said Christen, rubbing Tobin's back one more time as the tears tapered off, and Kelley and Tobin sank back down onto the floor to continue their game, agreeing that the elephant and the giraffe could share the cage. 

Several minutes later, Tobin and Kelley had finished constructing a zoo which spread out across the entire floor. Christen and Alex watched them giggle as they pretended to feed the animals, all argument forgotten. 

"Mommy," said Tobin. "Look at our zoo!"

Christen had been looking, but she let Tobin point out each and every detail of the zoo to her and Alex, with Kelley filling in little details. 

"It's so nice, baby! You and Kelley did such a nice job!" 

"Thank you, Auntie Christen," said Kelley, walking the lion around his cage and giving a little roar.

"Mommy," asked Tobin. "Can me 'n Kelley have a snack?"

"As long as it's okay with Auntie Alex," Christen said, and Alex nodded, rising to help Christen cut some apple slices. 

The two little girls ate their apples, licking the juice off their sticky little fingers, and before anyone knew it, Alex rose from the couch to announce that it was time for her and Kelley to go.

"Nooooo," moaned Kelley, gripping onto Tobin's hand. "Don't wanna leave!"

Alex suppressed a smile at the adorable sight, but stood firm.

"I know, baby girl. But we have to go."

Kelley and Tobin both moaned in disappointment, but gave their hugs.

"Bye, Kelley."

"Bye, Tobs. You and Auntie Christen comin' over to our house soon?"

Christen gave Kelley a hug, reassuring her that they would indeed. Tobin waved through the window as Alex buckled Kelley into her seat, and they drove out.

"Did you have fun, sweetie pie?" 

Tobin nodded, helping Christen pick up the Lincoln Logs, then hopping up onto her lap and yawning.

Normally, naptime happened in a bed, but if her little one was going to fall asleep in her lap, Christen certainly wasn't complaining, especially when Alex sent her a picture of Kelley, napping in her lap. It seemed that naps were contagious. 

Chapter Text

The hacking, pained cough coming from the baby shaped lump under the covers just about broke Lindsey's heart. Emily looked absolutely miserable, eyes glittering with approaching tears at the pain in her throat. The ibuprofen and cough medicine Lindsey was carrying seemed woefully inadequate, but it was all she could do. 

"Oh, muffin," sighed Lindsey. "I'm so sorry that you're feeling so icky." 

Emily whimpered in misery, reaching her arms out for Lindsey, gesturing to be picked up by her Mommy and cradled. However, instead of lifting her baby out of the bed, Lindsey sat down on the edge of it, measuring out the appropriate amount of cough medicine. The little girl shook her head, pressing back further into the pillows. 

"Nuh uh," she moaned. "No med'cine." 

Then, she shut her mouth, burying her face in the comfy blanket. 

"I'm sorry, baby girl," Lindsey said, reaching out a hand to brush a lock of hair out of Emily's face. "I know the medicine is yucky, but it'll make your cough feel so much better." 

The tears gathered in Emily's eyes spilled over, and Lindsey set the medicine on the counter to pull her baby into her arms. 

"Oh, sweetie pie," she cooed. "I'm so sorry."

"No," Emily whispered pitifully. "Don' wanna." 

Lindsey kissed her forehead, rocking her gently and using her sleeve to wipe away the tears. 

"Em, baby," she said. "I know it's icky, but you need to take the medicine. And I think that, since smoothies are good for hurting throats, Mommy might be able to whip one of those up?"

"Wit' strawberries?"

Emily's sniffled question prompted a loving kiss from Lindsey to her cheek, and a sigh of relief that at least there was something she could do to help her baby at least a little bit happier.  

"Of course, baby girl," she said. "With as many strawberries as you want." 

"Lotsa," she said quietly, and Lindsey nodded in agreement. 

Reluctantly, Emily opened her mouth, and Lindsey spooned the medicine into her little girl's mouth. Emily made a face, but didn't spit it out, instead swallowing the purple liquid, chasing it down with the offered ibuprofen and water. 

"Good girl," cooed Lindsey, stroking Emily's hair. 

Lindsey tried to rise from the bed to start Emily's smoothie, but her little girl kept hold of her arm. 

"Mommy," she whispered. "Still hurts." 

Lindsey pulled back the covers and slid into bed beside her little girl, wrapping her into her arms and clutching her against her chest. Emily was still crying softly, and Lindsey felt like crying herself, because there was nothing else she could really do for Emily- the doctor had said that the cough would run its course, and the young woman would be over it soon. While that might have been acceptable for big Emily, Lindsey's baby girl didn't quite understand why exactly the cough medicine wasn't fixing her throat now. 

"I know, baby," Lindsey soothed. "All the medicine is gonna start working soon, I promise."

Emily nuzzled her face into Lindsey's chest, and Lindsey ran her fingers through her tangled hair. The little girl sobbed harder, the pain of her throat overwhelming her tiny brain. 

"I know baby girl, I know. If I could wave a magic wand and make you better, I would." 

The only response she got from Emily was a pained wail, and all she could do was hold her closer, trying to comfort her little baby girl. Before long, Emily had cried herself out into Lindsey's chest, and was dozing softly. Gently, Lindsey disentangled herself from her little girl's grip to go make her a smoothie. 

She shut the door to their bedroom so that the blender wouldn't wake Emily from her much-needed nap. She added all the ingredients, making sure to include extra strawberries, along with a tiny bit of vanilla ice cream, then blended it all together. She wished she could pour it out into one of Emily's sippy cups, but unfortunately it was too thick to fit through the holes. So, instead, she opted to take the lid off of Emily's favorite- an above average sized one with an image of Ariel from The Little Mermaid on the side- and putting in a bendy straw. 

Putting the drink in the fridge, she sneaked back into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, just watching Emily doze. 

Emily's face wasn't twisted up in pain, and the tears had dried on her cheeks. Her mouth was slightly open, and Lindsey opened the drawer on the side table and popped her pacifier into her mouth. Her lips closed around it automatically, suckling gently. She was not only adorable, but she looked completely at peace for the first time since she'd gotten sick, and Lindsey couldn't help but pet her hair, humming softly. 

If she was being completely honest, Lindsey would have been satisfied to sit there all day, just stroking her little girl's hair. But, after around an hour- Lindsey cycling through many different Disney songs- the little girl started to stir, snuffling around the pacifier and sucking harder on it. Her eyes fluttered open.

"Hi, Mommy." 

"Hey there, sweet Em," said Lindsey. "Do you feel any better?" 

Emily nodded, wrapping her arms around Lindsey's neck and using her Mommy to pull herself up to leaning against the pillows. 

"Med'cine workin'" 

Lindsey kissed Emily's forehead, delighted to hear the sparkle returning to her little one's voice. 

"That's so great, muffin!" 

"I still have smoothie?" 

Lindsey gave her a smile, hopping out of the bed and rushing off towards the kitchen to fetch the drink for her baby girl. Emily made grabby hands towards it, and Lindsey happily handed it over. Emily wrapped her lips around the straw and sucked up the beverage.

"Is it good, muffin?"

Emily nodded happily, and when she set it down on the bedside table, Lindsey fell on her with an attack of kisses. Even if she ended up sick, it was worth it to hear Emily's shriek of laughter. 

Chapter Text

Hope met her at the airport, and Carli had never been more relieved to see anyone in her entire life. She had barely exited the tunnel before she caught a glimpse of her wife, and couldn't stop herself from running forwards, dragging her suitcase behind her and tossing herself into Hope's arms. 

The older woman squeezed her tightly, tangling a hand in her hair and pressing a chaste kiss to her lips. 

"Hey, baby," said Hope. "I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you too," whispered Carli as Hope released her, taking her suitcase with one hand and enclosing Carli's own in her other hand. They walked out to the car like that, Carli gripping tightly to Hope's hand and letting the former keeper guide her towards their way home. 

Hope popped the trunk and loaded the baggage, then opened the back door for Carli. The midfielder clambered in, letting Hope buckle her seat belt for her before walking around to the driver's door. 

"Do you want to listen to some music?"

Carli shook her head, already feeling the cloud that she had been holding back ever since the final Victory Tour game begin to overwhelm her. Sure, Kelley and Allie had done their very best, and she had been given all the care they could possibly provide, she couldn't truly let herself go with anyone except Mommy. 

"Jus' wanna go home. " 

"Okay, sweet girl. I'll get us there as quick as I can. Just hang on for a few minutes, okay?"

Hope started the engine and pulled out of the lot, using the mirror to keep an eye on her little one for any sign of trouble. Thankfully, there were none, and before too long they had pulled into their drive, and Hope was helping her baby girl out of the car. She neglected the suitcase in the back of the car, since nothing in it would be of any importance to Carli for at least the rest of the day and, more than likely, into the next several. 

"Has someone missed Mommy?"

Carli nodded into Hope's shoulder as the older woman scooped her up, somehow managing to unlock the door while still holding Carli in her arms. 

"Lots 'n lots." 

"Mommy's missed you too, princess," said Hope, pressing what would be the first of many kisses to the top of her baby's head. "So, so much. It made Mommy so sad, that I couldn't be with you. But I've gotcha now, okay?" 

Another little nod as Hope shut the door behind them, slowly carrying Carli up the stairs towards the room which served as her nursery. 

It was decorated in soft pinks and blues, almost like cotton candy, and contained almost anything a little girl might need, from numerous stuffed animals and toys to an adult sized changing table. The one notable thing missing was a crib- Carli absolutely could not stand to sleep without Hope when she was little. The few times that they had tried, the little girl had woken up screaming, and hadn't been able to get back to sleep until Hope had taken her into her own bed, singing quietly to her while holding her tightly.

"Alright, princess," said Hope, depositing her little girl on the changing table. "I think your clothes are far too big for such a tiny girl- let's get you all cozy" 

Carli nodded in agreement, letting Hope pull her sweatpants and panties off. She quickly slid a diaper over Carli's hips, fastening it tightly and giving her little one a kiss on the forehead. 

"There you go, baby girl," she cooed, watching Carli descend further and further into babyspace. She didn't descend this far down often, but Hope was absolutely unsurprised- her baby girl had been away from her too long, and she had been through quite a lot in the past few days. She slid a new pair of sweatpants onto Carli's legs, and replaced her sweatshirt with a soft pyjama shirt. 

Carli giggled, reaching her arms up for Hope, who happily gathered the baby up against her chest. 

"Do you want your paci, princess?" 

Carli opened her mouth, letting Hope slide the soft pink object between her lips. One of Hope's dogs trotted into the room, coming over and offering Carli an excited series of kisses on her bare feet. She loved the puppy, but his excitement to see her made her whimper, curling further into Hope. It never failed to amaze Hope, how nervous her baby girl could get. 

"Oh, sweetie," cooed Hope. "Zeus is just happy to see his baby Carli." 

Carli seemed to be considering and, as Zeus stopped his enthusiastic licks, she reached a hand down to run through his fur. He was a smart dog, and gave her just a single, gentle kiss across the face before trotting back out, presumably to return to whatever activity had occupied him before. 

"Puppy," whispered Carli around her pacifier, and that reminded Hope of something that was missing. She carried the baby over to the shelf and grabbed Carli's favorite stuffed animal, tucking it into Carli's arms.

Carrying her back downstairs, Hope set Carli and her stuffed dog down on the sofa.

"Are you big enough for some big girl food, princess?"

Carli wasted no time before shaking her head, emphasizing the point with an innocent suck on her paci.

"Oh," the older cooed. "I didn't think you were. You're just Mommy's tiny little baby girl, aren't you?"

Hope smiled at her baby's tiny nod, migrating to the kitchen- always making sure that she remained in Carli's direct line of sight- and going straight for the cupboard which contained all of Carli's sippy cups and bottles. Picking out the rarely used second option, Hope heated up the appropriate amount of milk. If Carli had been any bigger, she would have insisted on drinking one of her protein shakes, but today the milk was sure to suffice. 

Sitting down on the sofa and tucking Carli into the crook of her arm, Hope brought the bottle up to Carli's lips. The little one's eyes drifted shut as she spit out her paci into Hope's hand and began sucking at the teat of the bottle, letting the warm milk flowing into her mouth send her even deeper into the state of absolute peace she could only find while wrapped up in Mommy's arm, letting herself be loved and cared for. 

The bottle was drained quickly, with Hope pulling it from between Carli's lips at regular intervals to prevent her baby from taking more than she could handle at one time. 

"Good girl," cooed Hope. "That's Mommy's sweet baby." 

Normally, Hope would have done her best to deposit her little girl in an actual bed before letting her drift off to sleep, but special circumstances came up once in a while, and this was certainly one of them. When the bottle was gone, Hope popped Carli's paci back into her mouth, unwilling to disturb her little one for even the few minutes it would take to properly put her to bed. Instead, she let Carli drift off in her arms, all the while gazing down adorably at her little baby's peaceful, innocent expression as she sucked at the paci and snuggled her stuffie. 

Carli- every single stage of her- was undoubtedly the most precious thing in Hope's life, especially when she needed her like this. Carli needed to be reminded, sometimes, that no matter how big or tiny she was, Hope would always be there to take care of her. 

And if, in the morning, that meant changing her out of a wet diaper and comforting any tears, or even performing emergency surgery on Puppy like she had to the time Carli had a mishap with the scissors, then Hope was more than okay with that. 

Chapter Text

"Hi," came a whisper from over Caitlin's shoulder. 

The Australian turned around to see her younger teammate, clutching her soft blanket in one hand and her stuffed tiger in the other. Ellie's eyes were wide, and there was a shy little smile on her face. She was still dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and a tight top- a problem that Caitlin was going to fix as soon as possible. 

"Hey, baby," she said, flicking off the TV so that she could focus on Ellie. "Are you feeling small?"

Ellie nodded without hesitation, and Caitlin got up from the sofa so that she could put a hand on Ellie's shoulder and walk her back towards her bedroom. 

"Let's get you changed, okay?" 

Ellie nodded, setting her tiger and blanket carefully on her bed and raising her hands above her head. Caitlin had to pull a little bit on the top to get it off of Ellie. The jeans were next, quickly replaced by a pair of print leggings, and a shirt with a picture of Cinderella completed the look. Caitlin twisted Ellie's hair up into a ponytail, then gave her a kiss on the cheek.

"There's Mommy's little girl!" 

Ellie grinned, reaching for her tiger and blanket, wrapping the latter around her shoulders like a cap. Caitlin followed her back out into the den, and sat beside her in the center of the floor. 

"Do you want to play a game, cupcake?" 

Ellie nodded, sitting her tiger up next to her as she thought about what game she wanted to play. It was only her and Mommy, since her tiger couldn't play, and it was so hard to think of a game that was fun with just two people. 

Connect 4 was frustrating- Mommy seemed to win, no matter how hard Ellie tried. 

Candyland had so much counting, and so many rules. Too many for her little brain. Besides, it always made her want lollipops, and Mommy always said no. 

"How about Snakes and Ladders?"

Ellie thought about Mommy's suggestion- it did sound fun! But, of course, the problem remained. It was never quite as much fun with just two people. 

"I wanna," she said. "But 's not as much fun to play wif' only two." 

"Well," said another voice, coming from the front door. "I guess it's a good thing that I'm home!" 

Ellie jumped to her feet and wrapped her arms around the newcomer's neck, letting her pick her up and spin her around.

"Auntie 'Lee!" 

Hayley set Ellie down with a kiss to her cheek. 

"How about you and Mommy get the game set up, while I go put my things away?"

Ellie nodded in agreement and raced to the closet to get the game, handing it off to Caitlin so that Mommy could set it up. In a few moments, Hayley was back, joining Caitlin and Ellie on the floor and picking out her gamepiece- the green one, since Ellie always had to be blue. 

"Who goes first?"

Caitlin's question was rather ridiculous to Ellie, who grabbed the spinner, watching the little arrow turn around and around until it landed on... four!

Clapping happily, Ellie moved her gamepiece to the spot on the board, sliding up a ladder to space thirteen. Caitlin spun next, followed by Hayley. 

The game was rather uneventful until, at space eighty four, Caitlin spun a three. She moaned in exaggerated disappointment as she moved her piece, letting the snake take her back down to space fifty six. Ellie laughed in delight- she was almost certainly going to win now! 

And, indeed, she did.

"Good job, baby," cooed Caitlin as Hayley applauded Ellie's victory dance- a small shake in place where she picked up her tiger and threw him up into the air. 

"Would you like a snack, pumpkin?" 

Ellie nodded eagerly, letting Caitlin scoop her up off the floor and missing the middle finger from Hayley as Mommy left her to clean up the game. It didn't take long before Caitlin had deposited her at the kitchen table and was pouring some snapea crisps into a brightly colored bowl. They were the black pepper flavored ones, and Ellie shoveled them into her mouth.

"Woah, honey," said Caitlin, sitting down next to her and brushing crumbs off her chin. "Slow down!"

Ellie did her best, but they were just so yummy. Caitlin didn't press the issue, just shook her head fondly and poured a glass of water. 

"How was your day, little one?"

Hayley joined her housemates at the kitchen table, popping open a LaCroix. Ellie licked the last of the snapea dust off her fingers, then made to wipe them on her blankie. 

"Nope," said Caitlin, swooping in. "We use napkins to wipe our fingers, sweetheart." 

Ellie pouted for a brief moment as Caitlin wiped her fingers with a cloth napkin, then answered her Auntie.

"Was 'kay," she said. "Was big Ellie mostly." 

"Well," said Hayley. "You know that Mommy and me are always happy to see little Ellie!" 

Ellie grinned, blushing a little bit. 


Caitlin nodded, brushing a hand through Ellie's silky hair. 

"Absolutely! Mommy is always happy to see her little one." 

"Really truly," agreed Hayley. 

Chapter Text

"Are you sure you don't want one of us to stay with you? Because we can-" 

Mal rolled her eyes, before flopping back down onto the pillow with a cough. She was already frustrated enough at not getting to play- she didn't need Christen or Tobin hovering over her. 

"I'm fine," she said, gesturing towards the door. "Go." 

"Okay," said Christen, brushing a sweaty lock of hair behind Mal's ear. "Try to get some rest."

Mal made a noise that Christen took as agreement, and the older woman walked out the door with a wave, leaving Mal alone in her hotel room. 

"Ugh," she grumbled to herself. "This fucking sucks." 

She had even been scheduled to start today. But no, she had to get sick. 

There was really nothing to do without everyone else here. There was nothing good on TV, and really, the only thing to do was take a nap. 

So, she let herself drift off to sleep, coughing and aching, and unaware that her thumb had started to drift towards her mouth. 

She didn't sleep for very long- just long enough to miss a call from Christen, who assumed (correctly) that she was lost in dreamland- but when she woke, she could tell that something was different. Her brain felt fuzzy, and her thumb had found its way into her mouth. She still felt just as sick as she had before falling asleep, and her lower half was wet. 

She whimpered in horror. She had wet the bed. And Mommy and Mama weren't here. She pulled herself out of the bed, landing in a lump on the floor. 

"C'mon," she whispered to herself. "Got' be big."

All hearing her own tiny voice did was make her smaller, and the tears didn't take long to come. She tried to drape an arm over the bed to pull herself back up, but she was too small. She needed Mommy and Mama.

"M-Mommy," she cried. "Mama!" 

The two women didn't answer- Mal hadn't been expecting them to, 'cause they were playin' in a big game and they couldn't stay wit' little Mal.

The tears turned into full sobs. She was nauseous, and her head hurt, and her pajama bottoms were wet and smelly, even after she managed to pull them off, and it was just too much. 

Pulling a pillow that had fallen from her bed to her chest, she cried herself back to sleep. 

Mal woke up to gentle hands, picking her up off of the floor. Her eyes fluttered open, and she started sobbing again when she saw who was holding her. 


"Shh, baby," cooed Tobin. "Mama's here. I've got you." 

Mal caught a whiff of something, and her sobs redoubled as her face turned red. 

"I... M-Mama, 'm s-s-sor... Wet da bed." 

Tobin stroked her hair, bouncing her gently and carrying her towards the bathroom. 

"No, baby," she whispered. "It's okay. It was just an accident. Oh, my poor sweet baby." 

The bathroom was warm, thanks to the water filling the tub. Christen turned off the tap when she saw Tobin enter with Mal, standing up to give her baby a kiss on the top of her head. 

"Hey, bunny," she said. "Let's get you in the tub." 

Mal nodded, and Tobin lowered her down into the warm water. The little girl couldn't help but sigh- it was so nice! Mommy had even put in bubbles- not that Mal was in any state to play with them. She let her eyes drift shut, head supported by Christen's hand.

"I'll go strip the bed," said Tobin, exiting the room. "Let me know if you need me." 

Christen nodded, reaching for a soft washcloth and wetting it with warm water. Gently, gently, she cleaned Mal's inner thighs until no trace of her accident remained. Meanwhile, Tobin balled up the sheets and tossed them into the laundry bag. They didn't have an extra set, but they did have an air freshener, which masked the worst of the smell. 

Christen pulled Mal out of the bathtub, cooing softly to calm her baby's whimpers at leaving the warm water. She wrapped her in a fluffy towel, then carried her back out to the main room, Mal's damp head leaned against her shoulder. 

"Tobs," she said. "Can you get out a pair of PJs?" 

Tobin went straight for the smallest suitcase in their array- the one which held everything that they might need for a situation like this. She pulled out an adult-sized onesie and a diaper, along with Mal's pacifier and stuffed whale (bought when they visited an aquarium with their little one).

Laying Mal down on the other bed, Christen toweled off her baby's hair while Tobin tucked the stuffie into her arms. Mal brought the toy close to her chest, snuggling it with all her might. 

"Mama," she whispered, reaching out the hand not holding the whale for Tobin, who took it happily. The older woman rubbed the back of Mal's hand with her thumb as Christen slid the diaper on over her hips. It was almost physically painful for Tobin to let go of Mal's hand even for the short second it took Christen to pull the onesie on over her head- Mal's whimper was heartbreaking. 

Once their little girl was all cozy, wrapped in a blanket in a nice dry diaper, Tobin tried to pop her pacifier into her mouth. Surprisingly, Mal shook her head, pushing the object away. Tobin tried again, only to get the same reaction.

"What's wrong, bunny? Don't you want your paci?" 

Mal shook her head again, but made a suckling motion with her lips, the same one she always made when she wanted her pacifier. At the same time, she reached for Christen, who was already cradling her against her chest. 

"What do you need, honey?"

The striker petted her baby's hair while Tobin held her hand, as Mal continued to make the little motion with her lips.

"Do you want a bottle, honey?"

Christen knew she'd gotten it when Mal's whimpers stopped.


The whispered fragment of a word sent Tobin jumping to her feet, filling Mal's bottle with formula and heating it in the microwave which was, thankfully, provided inside the hotel room. She handed it to Christen, and the striker popped it into Mal's mouth. The baby started suckling immediately, draining the bottle as she let her eyes drift shut, cradled in her Mommy's arms. Mama was petting her gently, and she was all warm and safe. 

Christen pulled the bottle out of her mouth, and this time Mal didn't protest when Tobin replaced it with her paci. 

"Sleep, bunny," whispered Mama. "We love you." 

"So much," added Mommy as Mal slipped into the only peaceful sleep of that day. "So, so much." 



Chapter Text

Kelley didn't even wait for the end of the game before jumping out of her seat in the stands and racing for the locker room. She had no trouble at all getting in, dashing down the tunnel after Emily. 

Sure, the tackles had been bad, and the two yellows warranted. But Kelley had seen Emily's face when Amy was screaming at her, and the younger defender had looked absolutely terrified. Terrified enough that there was a nonzero chance of her needing Kelley, and needing her quickly. 

It didn't take her long to find Emily- the sound of tears saw to that. 

Emily was curled up in the corner of the locker room, sobbing into her arms.

"Em," she whispered, approaching slowly, carefully. "Sweetie?"

Emily looked up from her arms, revealing her dripping eyes and red cheeks. 

"M-Mom- Kell," she sobbed. Kelley made a soft noise- she knew exactly what Emily had been saying. She knew exactly what Emily needed- it was what she had suspected she might find. 

"Baby girl," she said. "Does someone need Mommy?"

Emily sobbed again, fresh tears dripping down her face and reaching her arms out for Kelley. The team doctors wouldn't be thrilled with her if they found out, since she was still on protocol, but the older woman scooped the younger up into her arms, cradling Emily against her chest. 

"Hey, baby," cooed Kelley. "Mommy's here. Mommy's gotcha." 

Emily buried her face in Kelley's shoulder, soaking it with frustrated, guilty, frightened tears. 

"Let's get you out of those clothes," Kelley said, reluctantly setting her down on the bench and digging in her locker for Emily's clothes- a pair of sweatpants and a tee. 

"Raise your arms for me, bug," said Kelley, and Emily obeyed, letting Kelley change her back into her comfy clothes. Kelley's touch was already calming her down a bit, and the sobs turned into simply tears. 

"There we go," said Kelley. "That's my cozy little bug!" 

Emily giggled through her tears, and Kelley picked her up again. They had to linger for a little while before the defeated Thorns trickled back into the locker room. Nodding at her little one's teammates, Kelley grabbed Emily's hand and pulled her into the Royals' locker room. 

Emily waved to Lindsey, shyly. She would need to call her later- but Lindsey understood what was going on. 

When they entered the other locker room, Emily buried her face back into Kelley's shoulder. 

"Why... Why we here, Mommy?"

"Shh," said Kelley, smoothing Emily's hair. "Don't worry, bug. We just need to get a ride home, 'cause Mommy can't drive right now." 

Emily caught sight of a flash of blonde hair and whimpered, jumping behind Kelley and catching the eye of most of the Royals.

"Oh, honey," soothed Kelley. "It's okay, Mommy's here. Mommy's gotcha. You don't need to be scared."

Amy's eyes flickered over towards Emily, hiding behind Kelley's back, and a guilty expression flickered across her face. She looked like she wanted to approach the little girl, but hung back, letting Christen go forwards instead.

"Hey, Em," said Christen softly, reaching out a hand. "Are you little right now?"

Emily nodded, inching out from behind Kelley. Christen cooed, as Kelley started asking around and seeing who could give her and Emily a ride home. 

"'M sorry," whimpered Emily softly, and the striker opened her arms wide in an invitation for the little girl, who rushed into them. Christen ran a hand through Emily's hair, freeing Kelley to approach Becky, who agreed to give the two a ride home. 

"Oh, no, honey," cooed Christen. "It's okay. Don't cry. Don't cry. I'm not mad."


Emily sounded disbelieving- but she had almost hurt her! How could she not be mad? 

"Really," said Christen. "It's okay, sweetheart."  

Kelley sighed with adoration as she watched the adorable scene unfold, then once Christen appeared to have managed to convince her little girl that she wasn't angry, carefully grabbed Emily's hand, pulling her along to follow Becky out to the car.  


The voice made Emily jump, and grab onto Kelley's hand more tightly. But Amy's tone was soft, careful, and so the little one peeked over her shoulder.

"I... I'm sorry," said the older woman, looking down at her feet. "I shouldn't have yelled at you like that. That was... inexcusable." 

"'M sorry too," whispered Emily, as Vero patted Amy's back. " Real sorry. Jus' didn'..." 

She trailed off, and Amy gently took her hand, running a thumb across the back of it and giving her a small smile as she trailed out the door after Kelley and Becky. 

The older woman buckled Emily into the backseat of Becky's car, and they were off. It was, thankfully, a short ride back to Kelley's apartment, and Emily waved shyly to Becky as the older blonde drove away. 

"Mommy," asked Emily as Kelley unlocked her door and guided her little one to sit on the couch. "You got little things?" 

"Not many," admitted Kelley. "But I think I have just enough to get us to the morning, and if you're still little then, then Mommy can go shopping!" 

Emily nodded in agreement, accepting the offered glass of water and taking a careful sip. It was a glass glass, and she was really far too little to have it, but there was nothing else for it. 


Kelley's triumphant gasp came as she found a pull-up, leftover from the last time Emily had been little at her house. She took the glass from her little girl, then carried her to the bedroom to get her ready for bed. 

"Don' need pull-up," protested Emily, but Kelley raised her eyebrows, pulling Emily's sweatpants off her legs. 

"Yes," she said. "You do, bug. You're a tiny little girl, and tiny girls need pull-ups."

Emily stuck out her lower lip, letting Kelley know exactly how she felt about that. But, she didn't protest any further, letting Kelley slide the pull-up over her hips.

"There we go," she said, tapping Emily's nose affectionately. 

"Mommy loves you, you fierce little thing." 

Chapter Text

"Sweetheart," said Kristie, glaring daggers at any patron in the waiting room at the clinic who dared to look strangely at Rachel, who was curled up miserably on her lap. "It's gonna be okay." 

They wouldn't be here if they had any other option. But, after Rachel had collapsed into a sweating, shaking mess after throwing up, Kristie had been worried enough to get into the car and drive her little girl to the emergency room. She had tried contacting the team doctor, to keep Rachel's state out of the public eye, but he had been dealing with a family emergency. 

So, here they were, Rachel curled up in her Mummy's lap, sick and beyond embarrassed. Kristie petted her baby's hair and ran a hand across her clammy forehead. Thankfully, the other people in the waiting room were too concerned with their own injuries and illnesses to pay enough attention to Kristie and Rachel to realize who they were. 

Rachel whimpered, trying to snuggle closer to Kristie.

"Still feelin' icky, Mummy. Don' wanna." 

Kristie clicked her tongue sympathetically, rocking her little one back and forth. 

"I know, baby girl. That's why we're here, we need to get you all better." 

"Wanna go home."

Rachel had repeated this phrase all throughout the car ride here, and when Kristie had been filling out the paperwork, and the entire time that they had been in the waiting room. And her heart was breaking for her baby girl, who so clearly didn't want to be here, but she wasn't willing to take the chance of something being really wrong with Rachel, because she would have no idea what to do. If that made her baby upset with her, so be it. Her health came first. 

"Honey," Kristie cooed. "I know, I know. But we need you feel better." 

Rachel just cried into Kristie's shoulder. 


Finally, the nurse called her name, and Kristie helped her little one to her feet to follow her towards the back room. The woman raised her eyebrows at the sight of Kristie accompanying her baby, but didn't comment. 

"Okay," she said. "It says on the sheet that you came in because you're shaking, clammy, and vomiting. Can you tell me when the symptoms started?" 

Rachel clambered back up onto Kristie's lap, still weeping softly, and the slightly older woman answered instead. 

"It started last night, but it was worse this morning. We were about to go to work, but she just... she collapsed on the floor. I took her temperature, and she definitely has a fever, but I have no idea what's wrong with her!" 

The nurse typed Kristie's response onto her laptop, accepting that she wasn't going to get responses out of Rachel, and would have to go through Kristie instead. 

"Well," said the woman. "I'll just get some basic information, and then we'll get a doctor in here as soon as we can." 

The nurse reached for the stethoscope, and Kristie had to guide Rachel to a position where she could slide it under Rachel's shirt and listen to her heart. Rachel whimpered at the cold, but Kristie ran a hand through her hair, humming softly.

Of course, the relative calm couldn't last.

"Okay," said the nurse. "It's time for a finger prick, just to check your iron levels." 

The words "finger prick" sent a surge of energy through the lethargic Rachel, who shook her head violently. 

"No needles!" 

"Shh, honey," soothed Kristie. "We've gotta make sure that everything's okay. Can you give the nice nurse your hand for Mummy?" 

Rachel shook her head, and a new wave of miserable tears poured from her eyes as she pushed the nurse away from her.

"Wan' go home. Wanna go home, Mummy!"

Kristie had to shake her head. 

"We can't go home, sweetie. We need to stay here until we know why you're feeling icky."

Rachel gave her a watery glare, unable to understand why her Mummy wasn't listening to her. She was scared, and sick, and she wanted to go home. 

"You're m-mean! I don' wanna prick!" 

Kristie's heart clenched painfully- she knew exactly why Rachel was angry at her, but that didn't make it any easier to hear. She gave the nurse an apologetic look.  

"Can you... Can you give us a second? Don't leave, I'll get her in a second."

The nurse nodded, sitting back down on the swivel chair, allowing Kristie to set Rachel on the bench in the exam room and squatting down on the floor in front of her. 

"Pumpkin," she said, rubbing a line up and down Rachel's leg. "I need you to listen to the nurse. I know, it's not fun. It's so not fun, and you'd rather be cuddling with Mummy, but-"

Rachel shrieked hysterically. 

"Don't wanna! I h-h-hate you, Mummy!" 

Kristie closed her eyes and bit her lip. She knew that Rachel didn't mean it, but that didn't make it any easier to hear. She had to stay calm, though, and comfort her screaming baby.

"You can be mad at Mummy all you want, love, but you still need to listen to the nurse. Mummy can hold you, or you can sit by yourself if you want, but we aren't leaving until we know why you're not feeling well." 

Rachel cried harder, and her shoulders collapsed. Kristie jumped up and pulled her back into her arms, rocking her back and forth.

"Is gonna hurt!" 

"Oh, sweetie," cooed Kristie. "I know this is scary. But it'll only hurt for a second, and then we'll be closer to going home! Mummy will be here the whole time."

When no immediate scream came from Rachel's mouth, only more miserable sobs, Kristie nodded at the patient nurse, who took the cap off of the finger prick and approached Rachel, who buried her head in Kristie's shoulder. Kristie had a hand wrapped around Rachel's left wrist, holding her still so that the nurse could take the blood. 

It was over before Rachel even had time to fight it, but she cried harder, to the point where Kristie couldn't help but worry that her sweet pumpkin might pass out from the overexertion of it. 

"There we go, baby. It's all over, Mummy's so proud of you."

"Feel better, honey," said the nurse sympathetically as she left the room. "The doctor will be here in a few minutes." 

This was a rare case in a doctor's office where a few minutes actually meant a few minutes, and Rachel's tears had only just started to taper off when the woman came in. The nurse must have warned her that something was up with Rachel, because she didn't even look slightly phased when she walked in to find her cuddled against Kristie's chest, with the elder pulling her thumb gently away from her mouth. 

"So," she said, pulling the chair over to sit in front of Kristie and Rachel. "I heard that you're not feeling so well."

Rachel shook her head miserably.

"That's no fun," said the doctor. "Can you take your head out of Mummy's chest for a minute so I can take a look at you?" 

Rachel turned around slowly, still crying softly. The doctor's hands were warm and gentle as they felt at her neck and forehead. 

"So," she said. "Given the symptoms that your Mommy told me, and just from looking at you, I'm pretty sure we've got one case of the flu." 

Kristie nodded- that made sense, and she was really just relieved that nothing more serious was happening. 

"So," said the doctor, turning to talk to Kristie. "Just make sure that she drinks plenty of water, and gets a whole lot of rest. Sound good?"

Both Kristie and Rachel nodded, and the older lifted her into her arms.

"Sweetheart," she said. "Can we thank the doctor?"

"T'ank you," whispered Rachel, then leaned her head on Kristie's shoulder. 

"You're welcome, honey. Feel better, okay?" 

Kristie carried Rachel back to the car and buckled her in to the back seat, where she could lay down if she needed to. 

"Mummy," she whispered as Kristie pulled onto the highway, leaving the clinic in the rearview mirror. "'M s-sorry."

"Oh, honey," Kristie cooed. "It's okay. Mummy knows that you were just upset and scared. I know that you didn't mean it."

"Don' hate Mummy," whimpered Rachel, before falling asleep in the back of the car, exhausted from the day's ordeal. As for Kristie, she kept an eye on her in the rearview mirror, sighing in relief that nothing worse was going on than the flu. When they got home, she carried Rachel inside and tucked her in, laying a cool cloth on her sweaty forehead. 

"I love you, pumpkin."

Rachel stirred just long enough to return the sentiment, then she was back asleep, letting her body fight off the flu germs. 


Chapter Text

Emily was numb.

She and her teammates hadn't been able to look each other in the eyes. Mark had tried to console them, but there hadn't been anything he could say. His heart didn't seem to be in it, though, and no one had said a word to each other on the bus ride back to the hotel. Even Hayley and Caitlin, who could normally be counted on for a joke or a loud conversation, had been silent as the grave. Lindsey sat stonily beside her, curled in on herself and staring blankly out the window at the evening light. 

The two were roomed together for this trip, and Emily didn't know how her friend was going to be. She had been a mess after the 6-0 loss to North Carolina, but this was something on an entirely different level. This was a semi-final, and losing it had cost them their trip to the finals, their chance to pay North Carolina back. 

And Lindsey, being Lindsey... Lindsey's mind was probably reeling, going back over every single move she had made on the field, looking for something that she could have done better, could have done to put a ball in the back of the net. 

The silence continued as the women split off from the bus, each entering their rooms. Emily made for the bathroom as Lindsey flopped down onto her bed, burying her face into one of the pillows. The defender turned the water up almost as hot as it could go, trying to burn the day's events off her skin, and out of her brain. Maybe she would wake up, and it would be the morning, and they could go play the game again. 

Not lose to Chicago for the first time in over five years. 

Eventually, it occurred to her that she'd best leave some hot water for Lindsey- that is, if Lindsey was capable off getting off her bed and into the shower, which might be a long shot at this point. So, wrapping her hair up in a towel, she tossed her pajamas on and emerged from the bathroom, letting out a puff of steam. When she glanced over at Lindsey's bed, though, she saw a radically different sight than the Lindsey that had been there when she went to shower.

Now, her best friend was rocking back and forth, breathing heavily into the pillow, letting out tiny little sobs. Her arms were wrapped around her head, pulling at her hair. And, while she had seen Lindsey in states after a loss, something about this scared Emily. 

She approached her carefully, even though Lindsey couldn't see her. Then, she reached out a hand, but left it hovering above Lindsey. 


The only sign Lindsey gave that she heard her was a whimper, and that frightened Emily even further. 

"Lindsey? Can we... do you want to talk about it?"

Lindsey shook her head violently, tugging at her hair so hard that a few strands came out in her fingers.


Impulsively, Emily's hand flashed out and wrapped around Lindsey's wrist. 


Normally, Lindsey was far stronger than Emily. If she had wanted to, she could have twisted her arm away from her best friend and continued pulling at her hair. But, for some reason, she let Emily pry her fingers loose. 

If she had started crying, it almost would have been less scary. But, instead, she went limp. 

"Lindsey, you... you're scaring me! Please, can you look at me?" 

Emily rubbed a hand between Lindsey's shoulder blades, gently coaxing her friend to look up at her. When she did, Emily almost burst into tears. 

Lindsey's lower lip was quivering, and her eyes were watering. They were wide and vulnerable, and she looked more miserable than Emily had ever seen her. And, if the defender was being honest, Lindsey looked... small.

"Lindsey," she tried. "Can you tell me that you're okay- that I don't need to be worried about you?"

The other woman didn't respond, but her lip trembled harder, and the tears began to drip down her cheeks.

Her head shook minutely back and forth, and her lips were shuddering. The tip of one finger came up to her mouth, and she sucked on it gently.

Emily climbed onto the bed beside her, pulling the limp woman into her arms. She had a hunch, and she needed to find out if she was right, so she would know what she could do for Lindsey.

"Honey," she whispered softly. "Are you twenty five right now?" 

The question broke Lindsey, who started to sob brokenly while shaking her head desperately back and forth. 


Emily pulled Lindsey's head to her chest, stroking her hair. 

"Oh, oh," she whispered. "It's okay, it's okay. Let it out. Let it out, I'm here."

It was only after Lindsey had spent a few minutes sobbing into Emily's chest that the defender realized she had no idea what she was doing. She had no idea how to handle a little, much less a distraught one such as Lindsey. 

All she could do was rock her back and forth, under her sobs started to abate.

"Lindsey, baby," she cooed. "Can you talk to me?"

The little girl's tears were still dripping down her face, but she nodded cautiously. 

"How old are you right now?"

Lindsey had to think about it, but eventually she held up two fingers. Emily rubbed her back gently.

"Such a tiny girl," cooed Emily. "What can Em do to help you right now?" 

Lindsey sniffled, burying her face further into Emily's chest, and Emily realized that she might not be able to get a coherent answer out of Lindsey. And that, no matter how much she wished she could, she might not be able to care for her on her own, while she was in this state at least. 

So she stretched her arm out as far as it would go, to the bedside table where she had laid her phone. When she had one hand around the object, she pulled up her contacts and typed out a message to someone she hoped might know what to do. 

Emily: i'm so sorry to ask but can you come over

Tobin: what's wrong? other than the obvious ofc

Emily was, frankly, surprised that Tobin answered. In Emily's opinion, other than Lindsey, Tobin was the one most likely to be melting down. Maybe she already had, or was holding it all in. 

She was probably just waiting for Christen to get to her before she did. 

Emily: Linds. She's (oh god please don't judge her) small right now. and i have no idea what to do.

Tobin: i'll be right there

Emily sighed in relief- she needed backup.

"Little one," she whispered to Lindsey. "Tobin's going to come over and help you, okay?"

Lindsey whimpered.

"Mommy no leave!" 

A jolt ran up Emily's spine at the nickname, straight into her heart. Despite being scared, and having no idea what she was doing, her chest filled with warmth and love for Lindsey.

It was sudden, but not unwelcome whatsoever. 

"Don't worry, baby girl," she cooed. "Mama's not going anywhere. Never ever, never ever. I'm here as long as you need me, tiny girl." 

This seemed to be of some comfort to the terrified, heartbroken little thing. But, she was still shuddering, and Emily hoped that Tobin would know what to do.

There was a tap on the door, and Emily called for Tobin to come in, unwilling to let go of Lindsey. 

The older woman's eyes were red- so, she had been crying already. But, Emily had a hunch that she had interrupted Tobin before the second stage of her meltdown, and that the second woman was glad that she had something to do while waiting for Christen to come and comfort her. 

"Hi," said Tobin softly, approaching the lump buried in Emily's chest. "Can you look at me, Linds?" 

Lindsey turned her head to look at Tobin, still crying softly. 

"Are you a little bit small right now?" 

Lindsey nodded as Tobin sat down on the edge of the bed, reaching a hand out towards her younger teammate, which Lindsey took.

"Uh huh," she whimpered. "Wan' Mommy t' make it better."

Tobin used her other hand to hold on to Emily's, seeing the younger's heartbroken expression. Because Emily couldn't make it better- all she could do was care for her.

"I know, hon," said the oldest of the three. "Your Mommy's going to keep holding onto you, and you can be as small and sad as you need to." 

"Mommy," cried Lindsey. "Mommy, 'm sorry! Did'n' play well 'nough!"

Tobin and Emily looked at each other in concern. Here it was- the root of it. Lindsey had to have heard about the commentators saying that she wasn't playing as well as she did the previous year, and that could- and would- get to anyone. Especially someone like Lindsey, who was already so hard on herself. 

Tobin stroked Lindsey's hair while the little one's sobs resumed. Both women did their best to comfort the inconsolable baby, cooing that she'd done her best, that that was all they could ever ask, that they were there for her. 

The sobs tapered off again, and Emily felt wetness on her own cheeks- she hadn't even realized she was crying. Lindsey's thumb came up to her mouth and she sucked on it furiously. 

Tobin's phone buzzed and, by her face, it was obvious that it was Christen.

"It's okay, Tobs," said Emily, still rocking Lindsey. "Go, let her take care of you. I've got it from here. Thank you... so much, for helping me get used to this."

Tobin smiled gratefully, kissing Lindsey's hair and dashing off to have her own breakdown. Then it was just Lindsey and Emily again.

"Little one," said Emily seriously, taking Lindsey's chin in her hand. "I want you to listen to Mommy really carefully, okay?"

Lindsey didn't nod, but her eyes opened wide and met her friend's. She was listening. 

"This wasn't your fault. This was not your fault. Chicago had a better game today, but everyone knows how amazing you are. know that my sweet little girl is so talented, and that next season, we are going all the way. Okay, baby?"

Lindsey nodded, and Emily gave her a bright smile. 

"Atta girl. Now, I think it's bedtime for little girls."

It wasn't even that late, but both Emily and Lindsey were physically and emotionally exhausted. So, Lindsey didn't protest when Emily guided her to a sitting position, stripping her out of her sweatpants and slipping her pajamas onto her achy body. Then, she pulled her into the bathroom so that they could brush their teeth- rather, so Emily could give her own a quick look before telling Lindsey to open her mouth and running a toothbrush across her little one's pearly whites. 

Lindsey flushed red, but held Emily's offered hand in hers, as she used the toilet, and the defender found herself overwhelmed with the amazing trust that her friend was placing in her. Big, strong Lindsey Horan, letting herself go, letting herself be a tiny little girl who needed Mommy to rock her, and comfort her, and brush her teeth and wipe her. 

"There, honey," praised Emily. "Mommy's here." 

They fell asleep with Lindsey cuddled against Emily's chest, her friend wrapped around her to protect her from all the nasty big girl feelings that weren't welcome in a sweet baby's brain. 

Lindsey woke up in Emily's arms. For a moment, she didn't remember why she was there. Then, it all came flooding back to her. They had lost, and she had... oh my God.

Oh God, she had been little, and Emily had taken care of her. 

Somehow, she wasn't as embarrassed as she thought she had been. 

"Good morning," came a voice. "Do I have Big Lindsey?"

Lindsey nodded, leaning against Emily's shoulder.

"Yeah... Thanks, Em. For last night. I think I needed that."

"I could tell," laughed Emily gently. "You went pretty deep, but it was my pleasure to take care of you."

Lindsey felt a light blush rise to her cheeks. 

"I... I'm really never little. I only... The last time I was little, I was... Shit, I think I was eighteen. Yeah, definitely. I was at PSG."

"Do you want... Are you comfortable telling me about it?"

Lindsey almost laughed. 

"God, Em. Do you really think that, after last night, I wouldn't be comfortable?"

Emily shrugged. 

"Just checking." 

Lindsey grinned- God, her friend was so sweet.

"Thanks, Em. Yeah, PSG was a really bad time for me. The coach... he wasn't very nice to me, and one day it just got to be too much, and I was suddenly... small."

"Aww, honey," cooed Emily. "Please tell me... Did you at least have someone to take care of you?"

Lindsey shook her head sadly. When she was first at PSG- before Tobin had signed with them- she hadn't trusted anyone enough yet to let them see her like that. She had been just an eighteen year old kid, alone in a new country, and very sad. So, she had been little by herself, trying to take care of herself but ending up sobbing on the floor.

She hadn't trusted anyone like she trusted Emily.

Her friend petted her hair softly. 

"I'm so sorry that happened, Linds. If you... If you ever need to be little again, Mommy will be happy to take care of her sweet little girl." 

Lindsey smiled softly.

"Thanks, Mommy. Maybe when... maybe when we get home, we can...?"

Emily returned the smile.

"Of course, baby." 



Chapter Text


Christen picked Tobin up from her hotel the second she could. Coming to Chicago for the semi-final, she had gotten a room in a nearby hotel, so she and Tobin could be alone, no matter what happened. Close enough that Tobin could get back to the team hotel for any team meetings that Mark might want her for, one way or another. She had hoped that they would be using it for wild sex, with her rewarding Tobin for the Thorns' victory, with her pussy of course. 

That was clearly not what was going to happen tonight.

At least they could be alone, and she could care for her beautiful, sweet wife in whatever way she needed.  

The drive was silent, except for the sound of the rental car's engine. 

Christen knew it wasn't the safest thing ever, but it was only a five minute drive, and so she kept her hand in Tobin's the entire time, feeling her wife tremble with the shock of what had just happened.  

When they pulled into the parking lot, she parked the car and unbuckled Tobin's seat belt for her. She walked around to her wife's side of the car, pulling the nearly comatose girl up to her feet. She wrapped her arm around Tobin and guided her into the building, towards the elevator, then up and into their room. 

Tobin flopped numbly down onto the bed, burying her head in her trembling hands. Christen sat down next to her and ran a gentle hand up and down her back.

"Sweetheart," she said. "What can I do for you?"

Tobin looked up, and her eyes were sparkling with miserable unshed tears. Her lips were trembling, along with most of the rest of her body. Their eyes locked, and they stared at each other, Tobin's eyes full of tears and Christen's full of love, until Tobin broke down. 

"Mommy-" she whimpered, and Christen didn't waste a single fraction of a second before pulling her wife into her arms. Tobin could smell Christen's shampoo, a familiar scent. Mommy rocked her back and forth gently, planting tiny kisses all over her hair.

"Oh, love," she cooed lovingly. "Oh, my sweet baby girl." 

Tobin's tears burst forth from her eyes like a rushing waterfall, and she let Christen pull her trembling form up onto her lap. She was in so much pain, lost in the memory of a terrible ending to what she saw as a truly terrible season. 

Loser loser lost no, no, can't, can't lose. Can't handle, no. 


"M-Mommy," she sobbed again, whimpering out the apologies that she thought were necessary. "M-M-Mom-mm-y, I-I-I... 'M so, s-s-s-sorry! 'M b-bad baby!" 

Christen made a sympathetic noise, rubbing Tobin's back gently, trying to soothe her at least a little bit. So, they were going to do this part first- hopefully, she could bring Tobin down from the metaphorical ledge quickly, and then they could have a nice night together, where she could just take care of her little girl.

"No, no, baby," she cooed. "You don't have to apologize to Mommy, little one. Not even a little bit, not to anyone. You're not a bad baby, not at all. You're my good little baby, so talented. So, so, so good. Mommy loves you, so much, and so do all the Portland fans. They all love you, and nobody blames you. Do you understand, baby?" 

Tobin wailed miserably, burying her face back in Christen's neck. 

"Can't- c-can't handle-"

She couldn't even finish the sentence. 

"You can, baby girl. You can. Mommy's here, and Mommy's going to help you. Mommy will always help you, no matter what. You're my strong baby girl, my little fighter. And there's always next season, honey. Okay?"

Tobin whimpered again. She had been sobbing like this for at least ten minutes now, and it was taking a toll on her. Despite the fact that her anguish had barely diminished, she just didn't have the energy to cry that hard for any longer.

So, she nodded weakly into Christen's neck. 

Christen knew that it wasn't okay yet- it probably wouldn't be okay for a little while. But, the season was over for both of them now. So, they could go back to Tobin's- their- house in Portland, and Christen could help her get over it bit by bit. 

"That's my girl," she said, bouncing Tobin gently. "My sweet girl. My sweet, tiny little girl. Will you let Mommy take care of you?" 

This time, there was no delay before the nod. And this was a nod that Christen believed. 

"Okay," she said. "Mommy brought all your things, so let's get you all changed." 

The corners of Tobin's lips turned up for half a second- it wasn't a smile, but it was something, and it made Christen's heart fill with a warmth that really only came when she was taking care of her sweet little Tobin. Christen got up from the bed, going as quickly as she could to the suitcase she had brought with all of Tobin's little things, just in case of a situation like this. 

Tobin made a tiny, upset noise, unhappy at being physically separated from Mommy, even for the few seconds that it took for the striker to get her baby things. Christen hurried back with a striped onesie and a pair of fluffy socks with sunflowers on them clutched in one hand, and a nighttime diaper in the other. Her little one reached her arms out for her, scooting towards the edge of the bed, and Christen gave her a huge smile, the same one that she gave Khaleesi and Morena. When she spoke, the tone of voice was similar as well.

"Hi, baby!" 

Gently, Christen guided Tobin's arms up to pull her shirt off, followed quickly by her bra. Next came her sweatpants and boxers, and she tossed them all into one of the complimentary hotel laundry bags. She blew a gentle raspberry on Tobin's bare stomach, and the little girl let out a tiny giggle, which was absolute music to the striker's ears. She had been worried that it would take Tobin much longer to give her a sign of happiness.

"There's a smile! Such a good smile!" 

She gave her another raspberry, then got her dressed for bedtime. It wasn't that late, but it was absolutely bedtime for little girls. 

Tobin didn't protest against the diaper that Christen slid up her legs and fastened around her hips, which told Christen that she was far smaller than she usually was. Normally, Tobin would have thrown an absolute fit at the thought of a diaper, would have protested that she wasn't a baby, she was a big girl. 

Often, Christen relented in favor of a pull-up- she didn't want to make Tobin uncomfortable, ever. She only ever put Tobin in diapers when she was almost positive that they would be needed. Tonight was certainly one of those nights.

When she had gotten her little one all cozy in her baby girl clothes, Christen gave her a big kiss on each cheek. 

"There's my sweet little baby! Mommy's missed you, monkey!" 

Tobin sniffled again, and Christen scooped her up into her arms, swaying back and forth with her. It never failed to amaze Tobin, how strong Mommy was. 

"Ma," whispered the baby innocently. "Paci?"

"Of course," said Christen, walking towards the suitcase where she kept the baby things. "Mommy's so silly! How could I forget?" 

She handed her the soft blue paci, clipping it to the front of her onesie, and Tobin popped it into her mouth, sucking on it desperately. Her eyes started to flutter, the mental and physical exhaustion of the bad, bad day starting to get the best of her. 

Christen carried Tobin to the bathroom and gently pulled her paci from her mouth, popping it back in as soon as she'd run a toothbrush across her little one's teeth. She deposited Tobin on the king sized bed then changed into her own pajamas.

"Do you want Mommy to read you a story, baby?"

Tobin shrugged unenthusiastically as Christen pulled the covers back, allowing the little one to snuggle down underneath. The striker joined her, then pulled her to her chest.

"Or," she said. "Do you just want to snuggle with Mommy until you fall asleep?"

"Ma," whispered Tobin, already beginning to drift off. Christen smiled softly down at her little girl, still heartbroken for her. 

"Goodnight, angel," she whispered, kissing her on the forehead. "Mommy loves you. So, so much."

Tobin snuffled in her sleep, enveloped in her Mommy's embrace. No matter how many games she lost, no matter how big they were, Mommy would always, always love her.  

Chapter Text

Emily had definitely not been expecting the day to end like this. 

She had been expecting, first of all, to win the game. To probably have celebratory sex with someone (Lindsey), to get slightly tipsy and spend the night with her tongue buried in her friend's pussy before preparing for the final.

And, barring that, she hadn't been expecting to have to deal with the loss all alone. 

Her roommate, Caitlin, had gone to be with Hayley. Tobin had collapsed miserably into Christen's arms the moment she had seen her wife, and the striker had needed to hold her up as they walked away from the crowds. But she had expected that Lindsey, at least, would be here with her. Because Lindsey was always here. 

Until tonight. When the defeated, miserable, broken Thorns had piled out of the bus after the worst ending to a season in club history, Emily had grabbed onto her friend's arm, trying to pull her up to her room so that they could comfort each other in whatever way was needed, be it tearful, gentle sex, or just holding each other. 

But, Lindsey had shaken her hand off, making her way towards the stairs up to her room. 

"I'm... Em, I'm sorry, I have to be alone."

Her voice had broken, and Emily could tell that she was near tears, just trying to hold them back until she was out of the lobby. 

"Linds-" the defender had said, trying to follow after the midfielder. 

"Em, please... I can't be around anyone right now. Just go away." 

Emily had dropped her hand, and somehow managed to make it back into her room before she started crying. Not just over the loss, though that was a huge part of it, but because she had thought that at least she would have her friend there so they could console each other, like they had after so many games before. 

So now, she was buried in blankets, sobbing, because she could feel her brain leaving her. She rocked herself back and forth, because she didn't want to be little right now. Not in the slightest. 

However, it didn't look like she had a choice. She popped her thumb into her mouth, trying to control her violent sobs. 

"N-No," she moaned in misery. "W-Wan'... noooo." 

She only just managed to pull herself out of the tangle of blankets and grab her stuffie from her suitcase, then tossed herself back into the bed. 

"M-M-Momm-mmyy," she sobbed, sinking deeper and deeper down away from being big. 

She needed Lindsey, really, really badly. But Mommy didn't want to be around her, she wanted to be alone, she didn't want baby Emmy. 

Emily wailed, shuddering in fear. She was all alone, all alone, without Mommy. 

To her little brain, Mommy wanting to be alone meant that Mommy didn't love her anymore. And that was more terrifying than losing the semi-final, more terrifying than anything else she had ever experienced.

Her chest was tight, and she rubbed her eyes with her stuffed lion. Really, her only source of comfort at all, since her Mommy wasn't here to hold her. 

It took time before Emily's sobs faded into tears, which eventually dwindled down into sniffles. 

"M-Ma," she whimpered. "Need Mom-m-m-yy." 

That amount of crying, for such a little girl, was just too much. Eventually, Emily fell into a fitful sleep, snuggling with her lion but wishing that she had Mommy's strong arms wrapping around her. Mommy had always told her that little Em made her so happy... why wouldn't Mommy let her this time? 

"Mama," she sighed as she fell asleep, absolutely miserable and broken, without her caretaker.

After a fitful sleep, Emily woke up to gentle hands shaking her. It took her a few minutes to truly wake up, becoming aware of each part of her body separately. First, the shoulder, where someone's gentle hands were on her. Next, her face, where the tears had dried and made her skin sticky. Her arms, wrapped around her lion. Finally, her lower half. 

She was wet. Thankfully, she had been so tangled up in the comforter that it hadn't soaked down into the sheets or mattress, but that didn't make it any better. 

Once she realized that, she burst into horrified tears, and the hands shaking her pulled her from the bed, tucking her head against her shoulder, unbothered by her damp lower half, and rocking her back and forth. 

"Baby," she cooed, voice rough with her own tears. "Baby, it's okay." 

Hearing the tears in Lindsey's voice, Emily cried harder, trying to stutter out an apology. Both women were sobbing by the time Lindsey had stripped Emily's pants off her and replaced them with a pull-up. The midfielder tossed the comforter into a corner, to deal with later, then lay down with Emily on the other bed, holding her close to her chest. 

"M-Mama," cried Emily. It was all she was really capable of saying, as she and Lindsey cried themselves out, holding each other. 

When they had calmed down a bit, Lindsey began petting Emily's tangled hair. 

"Baby," she said, voice still shaky. "Why... Why didn't you call me? Why were you alone?" 

"M-Ma didn' wanna be wit' me," said Emily in a tiny voice. "Tol' me ta go 'way." 

Lindsey gasped in horror- because she had. She hadn't known that Emily was going to regress, she hadn't seen any signs of it. But, really, she hadn't been looking. She had been too absorbed in herself, in her need to process the loss on her own, that she hadn't bothered to worry about how Emily might take it. 

"Em," she said, swallowing around the ashamed, horrified lump in her throat. "There aren't enough words to express how sorry I am. You should be able to count on Mommy for anything, anytime but I... I failed you. God, I... Can you ever forgive me?" 

"M-Mommy still want Em?"

Emily sounded shocked, disbelieving. It was too good to be true- she had spent her night crying, because she didn't think her Mommy wanted her anymore. If Lindsey still did... It would make her happier than even winning the World Cup. 

Lindsey planted a slew of kisses on the top of Emily's head. 

"Of course, baby girl. Mommy will always want you. Even when Mommy isn't being a very good Mommy, Mommy will love you with her entire heart. I always want to be your Mommy, Emily. Always."

Emily gasped in relief, pressing a kiss to Lindsey's cheek. 

Then, she remembered. The end of this season meant that the next few were approaching quickly. And the reminder of one of her biggest fears would have sent her into another fit if she had any tears left to cry. 

"B-B-But... Mommy might haveta leave Em forever!" 

"What are you talking about, baby girl? Why... I just told you that I'll always want-"

"'Spansion," wailed Emily. "Don' wanna get sent 'way!" 

Lindsey's chest tightened at the reminder. Because this had been one of her biggest fears as well. As much as the increased popularity of the NWSL warmed her heart, the thought of an expansion team terrified her beyond belief. Because an expansion team meant one thing: teams would be split apart. The chances were not, could she say, small, that at least one of the Portland Thorns on the national team would be sent off to the new team. And it wouldn't be Tobin, not in anyone's wildest dreams.

That left three. 

Which left a two-thirds chance of it either being her or Emily, and that thought almost paralyzed her. But, Emily was already upset enough.

"No, honey," she cooed. "Nobody's sending either one of us anywhere." 

Emily might've been little, but she wasn't stupid, and she started to sob dryly.

"Th-They don' need Em! Mark gonna keep Mommy, but he won' wan' meeeeee!" 

Lindsey's heart broke, impossibly, further. This wasn't just fear over being separated from Lindsey. This was her little girl, terrified of being sent away because she wasn't good enough, wasn't popular or important enough, for Mark to fight to keep. 

"Shhh, honey," she cooed. "No, no. Mark wants you, baby. And even if he didn't, Mommy wouldn't let anybody take her little princess away. Never, never."


Emily looked up at her with such blind trust, such faith, that Lindsey's determination lodged in her heart. She had thought that she was just talking, to make little Emily feel better so they could talk about it later, when she was big, But no. She meant this, with all of her heart. Even if there was nothing she could do to stop Emily from being sent away, she would fight it with all of her might.

"Really, cupcake. Mommy would fight the whole USSF, the whole NWSL, to stay with you. I won't let anybody take you away from me." 

Emily buried her face in Lindsey's chest, using her shirt as a tissue. Lindsey laughed lightly. That was more like her little one.

"Mommy's here now, baby." 



Chapter Text

"Oh, will you stop tapping your foot?"

Tobin tried, she really did. But, before even a minute had passed, her left foot was at it again, tapping away at the airport floor. 

"Honey," said Christen, putting a hand on Tobin's knee. "Are you okay?"

Tobin shrugged, looking down at her lap.

"I'm just... I'm nervous, I guess. What if she doesn't like me?" 

Christen wrapped an arm around her wife's shoulder. 

"Nonsense. Big Mal loves you, and so will Little Mal. But please, remember, you don't need to be involved if you don't want to. All you need to do is accept that she's there, and that I'm going to be her Mom whenever she needs me." 

"No," said Tobin, shaking her head. "It's not that I don't want to be involved! I..."

She didn't get to finish her sentence, because the loudspeaker announced the arrival of flight 147 from Washington. Christen leaped to her feet and walked towards the gate, scanning the faces of the disembarking passengers for the only one who mattered to her. 

Mal was one of the first people off the flight, and when she saw Christen she ran forward, dropping her bags a foot or so away before leaping into the older forward's arms. 

"Hey, bunny," said Christen, lifting Mal up and giving her a kiss on the forehead. "How was your flight?"

As Mal told Christen all about the airplane ride, the sight of her Mommy, and the thought of the weeks ahead, already beginning to send her down into littlespace. Tobin picked her bags up as Christen set her down, keeping ahold of her hand as they walked out towards the car. Tobin lingered a bit behind them, listening to Mal's mouth move a mile a minute, Christen gently encouraging her with questions about everything she'd been doing since she saw her last.

When they reached the car, Tobin popped the trunk and loaded Mal's bags while Christen buckled her into the backseat. 

"So, Mal," said Tobin awkwardly as they pulled out of the parking lot and began the short drive back home. "How... How are you?"

Mal shrugged.

"Tobin asked you a question, bunny," said Christen. "Can we answer in words?"

"'M okay," said Mal in a tiny voice, a blush rising to her cheeks. "Thanks."

The rest of the drive consisted of Christen telling her little one all about all the fun things they were going to do in Portland, and Mal giving her little giggles and smiles. Tobin just focused on the road, feeling so incredibly out of place. 

"Here we are, baby," said Christen as Tobin parked the car and went around to the trunk to unload Mal's bags. The forward unbuckled the little girl, lifting her up and carrying her towards the door.

"Do you... Do you want to see your room?" 

Mal nodded shyly at Tobin's question, burying her face in Christen's shoulder. Tobin led the way up the stairs to the spare room, which she and Christen had spent hours transforming into a nursery for baby Mal. 

The little girl's eyes popped open when she saw it.

The walls were painted a gentle blue, with a decal of Winnie the Pooh on the wall beside the shelf, big enough to hold all the stuffed animals that Mal had brought with her, as well as the new ones that Christen had insisted on buying for her. A mobile hung above the crib, which was piled with plenty of fluffy blankets. A changing table was against another wall, out of view of the window, and a set of drawers against a third wall. Finally, an old fashioned wooden rocking chair.

"Well," said Christen, somewhat nervously. "Do you like it?"

Mal nodded furiously, kissing Christen on the cheek. 

"Love 't, Mommy!" 

Christen kissed her back on the forehead and deposited her on the changing table as Tobin dropped her bags in the corner. 

"So," she said. "Can Mommy get you changed out of those nasty big girl clothes and into your comfy things?"

Mal nodded, and Christen unzipped her biggest suitcase to pull out a pink onesie. She pulled a diaper out of the top drawer of the set, but as she approached Mal, the little girl shook her head. Her eyes had gone wide, and she was staring directly at Tobin.

Christen got the picture.

"Tobs," she said. "Will you wait downstairs?" 

Tobin left the room, her chest tightening a little bit. She didn't know what she had been expecting, but that didn't make it sting any less. Christen gave her an apologetic look as she closed the door behind her, and Tobin could hear her cooing at the baby all the way downstairs.

Tobin was halfway through her third episode of The Office by the time she heard Christen's feet on the staircase. She muted the show as her wife entered the room, wrapping her arms around her and kissing her neck. 

"Hi, babe."

Tobin hadn't realized how stiff she was until Christen joined her on the couch, and she allowed herself to relax into her wife's arms.

"Where's Mal?"

Christen smiled softly at the thought of the little girl upstairs.

"She had a long flight, so she's taking a nap. Listen, babe, she... are you good?"

Tobin shrugged. 

"Sure. Why shouldn't I be?"

"Honey," said Christen, not buying it. "I know you're... disappointed. I know you were really hoping... Just give her time, babe. She's shy, and it'll probably take her a few days to get used to being around you while she's little. She will, though. I promise, love. Pretty soon, you'll get to see my goofy, sweet baby. Okay?"

Tobin nodded shortly, snuggling closer into Christen's side. 

"Don't worry," said the forward, pressing a line of kisses to Tobin's neck. "I won't forget about you." 

They had just finished when a noise on the baby monitor that Tobin hadn't even realized Christen had brought downstairs with her caught the forward's attention. It wasn't crying, just babbles, but it definitely had the potential to turn into tears if she didn't go and get Mal up. 

"I'm going to go get the baby," said Christen. "Would you mind ordering pizza?"

She made for the stairs, but Tobin stopped her before she could leave earshot.

"What... Does Mal eat...?"

"Just get her a small cheese one. She'll probably be small enough that I'll just give her some fruit and a bottle, but better safe than sorry." 

As Tobin picked up the phone to order, she heard the sounds of Christen greeting her baby through the monitor, and she could just picture the youngest woman reaching her arms up for her wife, and Christen giving her kisses as she prepared to bring her downstairs. 

Christen and Mal both sounded so happy, and Tobin had to fight to keep the emotion from her voice as she placed their order, for delivery in an hour. 

Before long, the sound of footsteps on the stairs alerted her to the fact that Christen was returning, and the slow pace told her that she had a baby in her arms. 

"I'm so glad you had a good nap, bunny," said the forward, rounding the corner and plopping down on the couch with Mal in her lap. "Mommy's missed you so much!" 

Mal nuzzled into Christen's neck, suckling idly on a pacifier. 

"Aww," said the older woman. "That's my tiny girl."

It was such a sweet moment, and Tobin didn't want to interrupt it. So, she retreated to the kitchen to wait for the pizza, while Christen flicked the TV on to Blue's Clues. Mal giggled at the show, snuggled in Christen's lap, until the doorbell rang, and she buried her face once again, this time in Christen's hair.

"Don't worry, bunny," said the older forward. "Tobin's not gonna let anybody in. It's all okay."

Sure enough, Tobin soon entered the den with a large box for her and Christen, setting the smaller box on the table in front of Mal. 

"Do you want pizza or a bottle, baby?"

Mal pondered. The pizza smelled so good, but she also wanted to be cradled in Mommy's arms, sucking on a warm bottle. 


Christen obliged, feeding a Mal two slices of cheese pizza- wiping her mouth with a cloth napkin in between- and taking bites of her own whenever the little one was chewing. When they had finished, Christen slid Mal off her lap so that she could go and prepare a bottle. The baby whimpered, reaching out and grabbing onto Christen's arm.

"Don't worry, sweetie. Mommy's just going to make you a bottle. I'll be right back."

Mal didn't seem happy about it, but she let go of her Mommy's arm and Christen left the room, leaving Mal on the couch with Tobin. The baby seemed to curl in on herself, angling her body away from Tobin, sucking her thumb until Christen returned.

The forward's eyes filled with a brief sadness, before the smile lit her face again.

"Hey, bunny! Mommy's got your bottle all ready!" 

Mal clambered back into Christen's lap, opening her mouth like a baby bird. Christen slid the nipple of the bottle into her mouth and Mal started to suckle gently. The warm liquid entering her mouth was so relaxing, and it made her feel so tiny. 

"Good girl," cooed Christen. "That's my tiny baby." 

Even though Mal's nap hadn't been all that long ago, the overwhelming relaxation induced by drinking a bottle in her Mommy's arms started to send her back towards sleep. Christen noticed quickly, and lifted her little one up into her arms to return her to her crib. 

Once she had brushed Mal's teeth, checked her diaper, and given her at least five kisses all over her hair, Christen tucked her into her crib and handed her a stuffie. 

"Goodnight, bunny," she said, flicking off the light. "Mommy's so happy to have her baby girl back." 

When Christen and Tobin were snuggled together in their bed, the baby monitor on the table next to Christen's side of the bed, the forward gave her wife a gentle kiss.

"Don't worry, baby," she said. "She'll warm up to you."

 Two weeks later, and Mal still didn't seem to be warming up to Tobin in the way Christen had predicted. 

She had let Tobin pick her up, but had been completely stiff in her arms. She still wouldn't let Tobin be in the room while Christen changed her diaper, and the only time she ever spoke to the midfielder was to whisper her thanks for whatever small things that she allowed Tobin to do for her. 

 Which was why Tobin wasn't exactly thrilled when Christen told her that she was going grocery shopping.

"Don't worry, babe," said the forward. "You've been doing all the shopping. I've got it this time."

"But," said Tobin, looking up towards the stairs, where Mal was napping. "What if..."

"She should stay asleep," reassured Christen. "But if she somehow wakes up and you can't calm her down, call me and I'll come home."

Before Tobin could get in another protest, Christen was out the door, and she was alone in the house with a baby who she was quite convinced hated her. 

When fifteen minutes had gone by without a noise from Mal, Tobin decided to start dinner. She brought the monitor with her into the kitchen, leaving it on the counter as she dug through the refrigerator, searching for the ingredients for a taco salad. 

Then, she froze. 

Had she been imagining that? 

No. Another whimper came through the baby monitor, and Tobin swore to herself. 

The whimpers quickly devolved into sobs, and Tobin raced for the stairs. 

When she threw open the nursery door, Mal was sitting up in her crib, face red and tears pouring from her eyes. Her gaze locked on Tobin, and she started to wail harder.

"Shit," whispered the midfielder to herself as she approached the crib slowly. 

"I know you want Mommy," she said to Mal. "But she's not here right now. What... what can I do for you?"

Mal shook her head back and forth, squeezing her stuffie to her chest. 


"I know," cooed Tobin. "I know, you want Mommy. But will you at least let me get you out of your crib, kiddo?" 

Mal didn't nod, but she didn't shake her head either. Tobin took that as progress, approaching even closer to the crib and reaching her arms out for the baby. Mal let her pick her up, but immediately started kicking her legs, so hard that Tobin had to set her down on the carpet. 

Tobin reached for her cellphone, ready to call Christen. 

But, she realized, if she did that... She might never manage to connect with the baby at all, and that would make for not only an awkward off season, but a very depressing one. Because, she knew, she wanted to be involved in Mal's life while she was here. She didn't just want to watch Christen take care of her, she wanted to help. She wanted to be able to kiss her, cuddle her, give her bottles, put her down for naps, play with her... Everything. 

So, she would give it one more shot. 

If it had worked on Cassius, she might as well try it with Mal. 

"Hey, kiddo," she said. "Look over here."

Mal did, still sobbing. Tobin puffed her cheeks out, making a funny face. It seemed to grab the baby's interest, and her tears slowed slightly. 

Tobin snatched a stuffed panda off of the shelf, holding it up in front of her face.

"Hi Mal," she said in a cartoon-ish voice. "Why so sad?"

Mal didn't answer the panda, but stared in curiosity. She still wasn't done crying, but the sobs had decreased into little hiccups. 

"I love you," Tobin said, as the panda. "Please stop crying." 

Then, the most beautiful sound Tobin had ever heard.

Mal giggled, reaching her arms out for the panda. Tobin tucked it into her arms, and she wiped her eyes on its soft fur. 

"Thank you, God," whispered Tobin, getting up from her place in front of Mal, but squatting down to still be at eye level.

"Can I pick you up, little one?"

Mal nodded without hesitation, reaching her arms out for Tobin, who wasted no time before scooping the baby up into her arms. 

"Hey there," she said, bouncing her gently. "Are you feeling a bit better?"

Mal nodded, leaning her head against Tobin's shoulder. 

"Do you want a bottle?"

Mal nodded again, and Tobin carefully carried her down the stairs, depositing her in a chair as she prepared the formula. Once it was ready, she picked Mal up again and settled her into her arms on the couch. 

Mal suckled at the nipple of the bottle, relaxing into Tobin's arms. The older woman used the hand not holding the bottle to rub her shoulder. 

"Atta girl," she cooed. "Such a good baby."

When Christen returned to the adorable scene, Mal having fallen back asleep on Tobin's lap, she gave her wife a soft smile. She set down her groceries, then kissed both of her girls, Mal on the forehead and Tobin on the lips. 

"There we go," she said. "I knew you two would get along eventually."

"Did you do this on purpose?"

Christen shrugged, going to put away the groceries. 

"I might have forgotten what time she usually wakes up." 

Tobin shook her head, but smiled down at the little girl in her arms, whispering conspiratorially to her.

"Your Mommy is such a trickster," she said to the sleeping girl. 


One week later, Tobin cried in happiness as Mal whispered "goodnight, Mama," to her.  

"Goodnight, bunny. I love you." 

Chapter Text

Alex tapped gently at the door, more announcing her presence than anything else. Without waiting for Kelley to answer, she pushed the door open. 

Kelley was curled up in a pile of blankets, face buried in the pillow. Alex couldn't tell if she was little or big, but all that mattered was how she had taken the news. By the looks of it, not well. 


The only answer she got was a sob. 

"Honey," she said, sitting on the bed and putting a hand in between Kelley's shoulder blades. "Will you talk to me?"

Kelley raised her head, and Alex wanted to cry herself at the sight of Kelley's tearstained face.

"Are you... Are you s-sure you're p-pregnant?" 

Alex nodded, trying to pull Kelley into her arms. The other woman wrapped her arms around herself instead, retreating to the other side of the bed. 

"The doctor confirmed it. Kell, please. Tell me what's on your mind?" 

Kelley buried her head back in her hands, and Alex put a hand on her knee.

"I'm h-h-happy for you, Alex. Really, I a-am. I j-just..."

Kelley collapsed forward into Alex's open arms, letting the other woman stroke her hair. The striker made soft noises, trying to comfort Kelley, but the defender whimpered out a sentence that Alex had been dreading. 

"I don't w-want you t-to... You're gonna leav-ve me." 

"Shh," said Alex. "Shh, baby girl. Let it out, I'm here."

Kelley did, sobbing into Alex's shoulder, letting her best friend stroke her hair and back.

"That's it, that's it," said Alex as Kelley's sobs began to taper off. The striker took the defender's chin into her hand, gently guiding her to look into her eyes. Despite the fact that she had just cried out some of her emotions, Kelley's eyes contained complete and utter heartbreak and terror. 

"I... Thank you for everything," said Kelley, hiccuping over her words. "I know that you... I know that you won't be able to... to take care of me anymore, when the baby is born. You're... you're a great Mommy, Alex, and this little girl is the luckiest one in the world." 

Now Alex was the one crying, at the emotion contained in Kelley's eyes. Because, despite the joy of her pregnancy, this was the one dark spot. She and Servando had talked, and Alex had cried- a lot- and they had agreed that the best thing for their unborn baby was for Kelley to find a new Mommy. So, she had come here to tell Kelley that she couldn't take care of her anymore- as it seemed the defender had figured out. 

But, as she stared into Kelley's eyes, she couldn't do it. 

Even the thought of giving up her sweet little Kelley made it feel like someone had torn her heart out and stomped on it with a pair of cleats.

"Kelley Maureen O'Hara," she said, holding back her tears. "You've taught me so much. If I hadn't had the honor of taking care of you, you can't imagine how terrified I'd be for this baby. But you taught me so much about love, pumpkin, and caring for you has been the joy of my life. My daughter might change our relationship a little bit, but I will never stop loving you. And, if you still want me to, I would... I would like to keep taking care of you, in whatever way and whenever I can." 

Kelley stared at Alex in awe. Because this had to be the most amazing woman on the planet.


Alex raised her hand to stroke Kelley's cheek, wiping away the tears. 

"I promise, pumpkin. I might... You might need to spend a little more time with a sitter, but I always want to be your Mommy. Okay?"

Kelley threw herself into Alex's arms, sobbing again, this time in joy. 

"Th-Thank y-you, Mom-mmyyy! P-Promise be good! Won't e-ever b-be trouble!" 

Alex laughed lightly, rocking Kelley back and forth. 

"Thank you, pumpkin. But you don't need to be anything other than who you are: my goofy little baby." 

Servando had been angry at Alex when she came home and told him that she couldn't, wouldn't, give Kelley up. But, when he saw the determination in her eyes, and realized that she was willing to go to bat for her best friend, he had let it go.

As Alex's belly grew, Kelley seemed awed by it. She talked to the baby more than Servando did, and Alex's heart melted every time Kelley sang a sweet little song to her belly, or just spent time cuddling with Alex on the couch when she was too sore to move. 

There had been some changes, of course: Alex was less available, and their teammates had begun taking turns caring for Kelley whenever she was little and Alex couldn't muster the energy. Alex couldn't lift Kelley up anymore, either, and Kelley knew that she had to be a little calmer than she normally was. 

Really, Alex was incredibly proud of how well her little one was handling everything, and she couldn't help herself from smiling smugly at Servando as Kelley napped against her shoulder. 

Kelley was almost as exhausted as Alex- concussion recovery, quickly followed by Olympic training, was sapping all of her energy, making her smaller than usual.

Today, Alex and Kelley were sitting together on the couch watching an episode of Dora the Explorer. Kelley was absolutely tiny today- if Alex had to guess, she would say she was around one and a half, the smallest she ever got. 

"Mama," said Kelley. "Bottle?"

Alex petted Kelley's hair, an idea popping into her head. Kelley wanted a bottle, but Alex thought she could do her one better. Her milk had just started to come in, and there was something about Kelley, lying on her lap so sweet and innocent, that made her want to feed her sweet little girl with nothing but herself.

"Kell, pumpkin," she said, unbuttoning her shirt. "Do you want... Do you want to..."

Kelley looked up, eyes widening in astonishment as she saw Alex was offering. 

"R-Really, Mama?"

Alex nodded.

"Really, pumpkin."

Alex pulled Kelley up into her arms, cradling her head like she was an infant. Her mouth fell open and she latched onto Alex's nipple. It took a few sucks for the milk to come, but when it did, Kelley's eyes closed in bliss at the feeling of being so close to Alex, allowing herself to fully sink down and let herself be cared for. Above all, Alex's milk flowing into her mouth was a reminder that, even though she might be pregnant with a literal baby, Kelley was still her baby, too, and just as loved as the unborn one. 

As for Alex, she was in complete awe of Kelley. The completely asexual suckling, Kelley's eyes shut in an absolute state of innocent relaxation and, overall, the amazing trust that her sweet little girl was placing in her... It was all enough to bring tears to her eyes, ones that she couldn't quite blame on the pregnancy hormones. 

"Oh, baby," she cooed, stroking Kelley's hair as she gently switched her to the other breast. "That's my sweet little girl. My precious, perfect angel." 

"Mama," whispered Kelley. "Love 'ou."

As Kelley drifted off into a peaceful sleep, Alex cooed gently down at her, filled with such a complete love that she could only imagine was similar to what she would feel for her own daughter.

"I love you too, baby girl. No matter what, no matter what, you'll always be my baby. My first little baby."

When Servando came home to find Alex cradling Kelley on the couch, stroking her hair absently, he didn't dare to protest. 


Chapter Text

Alex tapped gently at the door, more announcing her presence than anything else. Without waiting for Kelley to answer, she pushed the door open. 

Kelley was curled up in a pile of blankets, face buried in the pillow. Alex couldn't tell if she was little or big, but all that mattered was how she had taken the news. By the looks of it, not well. 


The only answer she got was a sob. 

"Honey," she said, sitting on the bed and putting a hand in between Kelley's shoulder blades. "Will you talk to me?"

Kelley raised her head, and Alex wanted to cry herself at the sight of Kelley's tearstained face.

"Are you... Are you s-sure you're p-pregnant?" 

Alex nodded, trying to pull Kelley into her arms. The other woman wrapped her arms around herself instead, retreating to the other side of the bed. 

"The doctor confirmed it. Kell, please. Tell me what's on your mind?" 

Kelley buried her head back in her hands, and Alex put a hand on her knee.

"I'm h-h-happy for you, Alex. Really, I a-am. I j-just..."

Kelley collapsed forward into Alex's open arms, letting the other woman stroke her hair. Alex heart started cracking, because it was so clear that Kelley wasn't stupid. Kelley had figured out what was coming, knew what Alex was here to do. 

"Shh, Kell," hushed Alex. "Baby girl, it's okay, I'm right here." 

This wasn't going to make it any easier. Alex knew that, if she was going to cut the cord, she should do it cleanly. But she couldn't just let Kelley cry like this. For now, at least, the defender was still her little girl. 

"M-M-Momm-mmmyyy," sobbed Kelley, and Alex stroked her hair. 

She could feel heartbroken tears springing to her own eyes as the defender sobbed in her arms, slipping further away from Big Kelley, becoming Little Kelley, Alex's little one. She blinked them away- she had to be the strong one here. 

When Kelley's tears began to taper off, Alex rocked her gently in her arms. 

"Sweetheart," she said. "Are you little right now?"

Kelley nodded, and Alex cooed softly, kissing her on the forehead. One more day, then. Just one more day, where Kelley could be so much more than just her best friend. She couldn't do this to Kelley, not while she was so small, when she needed her so much. 

"Okay, pumpkin," she said. "I'm here. Do you want a snack?"

Kelley shook her head, wrapping her arms around Alex's neck, pulling herself closer to her Mommy. 

"M-Mama," she sniffled. "N-Need..."

Alex made a soft noise, bouncing Kelley gently. Rising from the bed with the little one cradled in her arms, she walked towards the couch and deposited Kelley on the soft cushions. 

"Do you want a bottle instead, baby?"

Kelley nodded, watching Alex leave the room with wide, frightened, soft eyes, as if wondering if her Mommy would even come back.

Alex did come back, holding a warm bottle of chocolate milk. She sat down on the couch beside Kelley and gestured the defender onto her lap, a place which Kelley took eagerly. She let Alex feed her the bottle, but didn't close her eyes like she normally would. Instead, she stared up at her Mommy, as if trying to memorize every detail of her face. Alex did the same, eyes locked in Kelley's wide ones as the defender drank her bottle. 

All too soon, the last sip of chocolate milk had been extracted from the bottle by Kelley's suckling. But Alex kept her cradled in her arms, humming softly to her until Kelley began to drift off, overwhelmed with emotion. 

"Mama," she sighed before she fell asleep to Alex stroking her hair. 

Alex stayed on the couch until her legs were beginning to fall asleep from the weight of Kelley. Then, carefully, making sure not to jostle and wake the little one, she carried her back to the bedroom and tucked her under the covers with a kiss to her forehead. She changed into an extra pair of Kelley's sweatpants, slightly too small for her, then clambered into bed beside the little girl, tucking her head against her shoulder. Holding her close, for what would in all likelihood be the last time. 

"I love you, pumpkin," she whispered to the emotionally exhausted little lump in her arms. "Truly."

Kelley woke up big- Alex could tell because the defender had let her keep sleeping, whereas little Kelley would have shaken her awake right away. The smell of coffee was what really woke Alex, and she opened her eyes to see Kelley sitting beside her, holding two cups. 

"Good morning, Alex," she said, handing her the coffee. 

"Good morning, Kell," said Alex, taking the coffee and sitting up beside her. They drank their coffee in silence, and only once both cups had been placed on the bedside table did they speak. 

"Kell," said Alex. "I... I think you know why I'm here."

Kelley nodded miserably, pulling the pillow to her chest. 

"I guess... I guess I was just hoping I was wrong. But you... you're going to have a baby, Alex. I understand why..."

Her voice broke, and Alex silently took her hand. 

"...why you can't be my Mommy anymore."

Alex's heart clenched.

"Kell," she said. "You're right. I wish I could tell you that you're wrong, but me and Serv talked and we agreed... God, I wish... I wish I could still take care of you. But my own baby has to come first."

Kelley nodded miserably, and Alex saw tears springing to her eyes. She wanted to cry herself, but that would do nothing except make things worse. 

"You... Pumpkin, you taught me so much about love. More than you could ever know. Loving you, being your Mommy... Sweetheart, it's been the joy of my life."

Kelley had begun to cry, and Alex could see her beginning to slip down into littlespace again. Alex swallowed around the lump in her throat- she hadn't wanted to do this while Kelley was little. But she had started this train, and there was no getting off it now. 

"Please," she continued. "Know that I will always love you, Kell. Always. You'll always be my first baby, and I... I promise that I'll find you someone. Someone who'll love you so much, somebody who'll be able to stay with you forever, who won't ever let you go. I promise, Kelley."

When Kelley spoke, all the maturity of Big Kelley had gone, replaced by the utter heartbreak of the situation, which Little Kelley couldn't handle.

"Y-You promised you'd n-never leav-ve me." 

Alex couldn't quite hold back all her tears this time. 

"Kelley, I'm so sorry! This is... the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. No matter how long I live, I won't ever stop loving you."

"I love you, M-Mommy," sobbed Kelley. "Promise I'll b-be good! Won' ever ask f'r anythin', just p-please don't leave me!" 

Alex pulled Kelley into her arms, giving her one last kiss on the forehead.

"I'm so sorry, Kelley." 

As she left Kelley in her room, sobbing herself back to sleep in her bed, Alex leaned against the door frame and clutched her chest, finally allowing the heartbroken, guilty tears to spill from her eyes. When she left the apartment, she left a new stuffie on the counter. It was a woefully inadequate parting gift, but it was all she could do. The fluffy bear stared after with its button eyes, and Alex felt like she had left her heart behind in Kelley's apartment. 

Alex cried all the way home, and when Servando tried to wrap his arms around her, to comfort her, she shoved him away and locked herself in her room. 

"You did the right thing, Al," he whispered through the door. "You'll see." 

Alex ignored him- all she could hear was an echo in her mind of Kelley's desperate sobs, her heartbroken pleas for Alex to stay with her. 

She was, she felt, worse than a monster. Anyone who told a baby that they would never leave them, then did anyway, had to be some sort of demon. 

When Alex could breathe again, she opened up her phone and sent out a mass text to every single one of their national team teammates, as well as many former players who had played with Kelley before. She explained the situation, ignoring all of their questions, and then sent the part which broke her heart impossibly further. 

Alex: She's such a sweet girl, just a beautiful baby. She needs so much love, that I can't... I just can't give her anymore. Please, if any of you can love her the way I do... Please, please tell me. She needs you. She's so scared, so lost right now. She just needs someone to love her, someone who can be there for her. She's my baby, just please take care of her. Remind her how precious she is.

Several teammates texted back, with interest, but some needed to check with their partners, some said that they could watch her sometimes, but couldn't be the steady presence that Kelley needed right now, some saying that they needed to think about it for a few days... So, no definite yeses. 

Swallowing down renewed tears, Alex accepted Heather's offer to go stay with her for a little while, just make sure that she was taken care of, that she wasn't dead in her bed. The older woman texted her updates every few hours, and Alex could barely read them. 

Her poor angel. 

Several days later, and the hole in Alex's chest hadn't even begun to knit back together. 

Heather had needed to return home, with a promise to Big Kelley that she would do her very best to fly back out if she needed her badly. Hope, who Alex had originally hoped would be able to care for Kelley, had texted her regretfully, telling her that she wasn't in a good enough place mentally to care for a little one. Lauren had wanted to, but her husband had put his foot down. Same thing with Allie Long. Sonnett had offered, and Alex was considering.

But really, she told herself. Sonnett was so young. Could she really care for a baby who needed as much love as Kelley? 

Really, Alex had been holding back on responding to Sonnett. She needed to hand Kelley off to someone, someone who could promise her their undivided attention, but she... No matter how much she liked the younger woman, the thought of Sonnett rocking Kelley to sleep, giving her bottles, cajoling her into pull ups, remembering her numerous stuffed animals' names, reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar five times in a single night because Kelley wouldn't go to sleep with her caterpillar stories, spending two hours looking for her favorite pacifier, knowing how to wash her blankie so that all the fluff stayed fluffy, soothing her when she had a sore throat, knowing how to bribe her to let the team doctor take a look at her, enforcing bedtime, making sure that she didn't eat too much sugar... That thought was unthinkable. Because that should be her.


Alex buried her head in her hands, breathing heavily. 

Kelley needed her, and no matter how hard she tried to tell herself that she could let go, for the sake of her unborn baby, she needed Kelley. 

"Oh my God," she whispered to herself. "Fuck, what have I done?" 

It was going to be difficult. She'd probably have to leave Kelley with a babysitter a lot, especially in the first few months. But goddamn it, she was going to take care of Kelley until the little one didn't want her anymore. 

She threw some clothes in a bag and, without even bothering to wake Servando, ran out the door. 

She still had a key to Kelley's apartment. Even though it was late, the light was still on, and Alex could hear the sounds of the television. She opened the door slowly.

Someone had cleaned the apartment- probably HAO. There were a few pizza boxes stacked on the counter, where the bear she had left had sat. The show on the television sounded like Sofia the First. 

Kelley was wrapped in her fluffy blanket, and she was sucking gently on a pacifier while snuggling the bear that Alex had left for her. The striker took a few steps forward, unsure how to announce her presence.

"Pumpkin," she said softly, and Kelley's head jerked up. When she caught sight of Alex, her mouth fell open, the pacifier landing in her lap. She froze, unbelieving. 

"A-Are... Is this... Mommy?"

Alex stepped forward cautiously. It was physically difficult to hold herself back from throwing herself forward, wrapping Kelley in her arms and kissing her all over her face and hair. But Alex had abandoned her- Kelley had to make the first move.

So, she just sat down carefully on the edge of the couch. 

"Hey, pumpkin," she said. "Do you... Do you have a hug for Mommy?"

Kelley threw herself into Alex's arms, tears immediately springing to her eyes. Alex pulled her closer, rocking her back and forth, crying herself. She hadn't been able to imagine it, how good it would feel to have Kelley back in arms. 

"Hey, sweetie," she cooed, as Kelley sobbed. "I'm here. Mommy's here."

When Kelley had finished crying, she laid her head on Alex's shoulder, using the striker's shirt to wipe her eyes. 

"Kelley," she said, running her hands through the defender's hair. "There are no words to express how sorry I am. Leaving you, thinking that I could ever have a whole heart without my first baby... God, pumpkin, I'm so sorry. There might be a few changes, but... If you'd let me, I'd love to be your Mommy again."

Kelley nodded so quickly that Alex was nervous she would give herself whiplash. 

"Yes," she cried. "I've m-missed you, Mama!" 

"I've missed you too, my angel." 


When Alex went back home, a decidedly tiny Kelley in tow, Servando let her put the baby down for a much-needed nap before he called her into the kitchen.

"What the fuck, Alex?"

Ignoring his glare, she went to the fridge to make a snack, for when Kelley woke up.

"You told me that you were going to stop being her fucking Mommy. For our kid, Alex. You can't fucking take care of our baby while you're taking care of your fucking friend like she's a goddamn baby."

Alex slammed the refrigerator.

"It might be hard, Serv. And God, I'll probably be exhausted. But she understands that I'll have to leave her with a sitter a lot, especially in the first few months. Kelley is my first baby, but loving her won't make me love our daughter any less!"

This didn't seem to sway her husband.

"We don't have room for this in our lives, Alex."

She glared at him. 

"will always have room her. She's a sweet baby girl, not a fucking burden! And I'm going to be her Mommy until the day she doesn't want me anymore, not the other way around."

Servando could be angry at her all he wanted, but Alex knew that she would find a way to balance her big baby and her little baby. She had to, because nothing could or would stop her from loving both of them. 

And, as Servando stormed out of the room, Alex couldn't find a single fuck to give. Because Kelley was asleep in the spare bedroom, and she would never leave her alone again.  



Chapter Text

This was really the best possible note to go out on. Heather felt like she was on cloud nine, wearing her Champions shirt, having closed out her career with serious minutes in a final. She was still pumping her fist in the air, hugging her teammates as they signed autographs and returned to the locker room.

A soft noise in the corner of the tunnel caught her attention. A lone neon green jersey, a silver medal tossed carelessly to the floor. A head, buried in her lap. 

Alyssa, sobbing, all alone. 

"Fuck," she whispered, turning to hear teammates beside her. "Someone go find Becky Sauerbrunn." 


The team hadn't spotted Alyssa yet, at least not most of them, but those who had turned to the ones behind them. 

"She's somewhere in the crowd, someone go get her!" 

Heather was not one to snap, and so the tone of her voice told them that she was serious. Around half of them raced back out of the tunnel- with that many people in the crowd, it would probably take all of them to find Becky, especially if she was hoping to avoid the crowds, who might have converged on her and asked for autographs. 

Heather gestured the rest of the team forwards into the locker room, knowing that it was best to approach the distraught keeper alone. 


The younger woman gave no sign that she had heard her, and the closer Heather got, the louder the sound of her sobs became. 


She squatted down before her, laying a cautious and gentle hand on the keeper's shoulder. Alyssa still didn't react, beyond sniffling wetly. 

"Honey, it's HAO. Can you look at me?"

Quickly, as Alyssa started to lift her head, Heather tucked her medal beneath her shirt. It was probably the last thing that she needed to see right now. When the keeper met Heather's eyes, the orbs were glittering with tears. Her cheeks were red, her lips were trembling, and she looked so incredibly miserable, so incredibly small. 

Yet she still managed a rather impressive glare. 

"G-Go 'way!" 

Heather did rather the opposite, dropping down from her crouch to sit in front of Alyssa on the floor of the tunnel. There was still no sign of any of her teammates returning with Becky, which was becoming more and more troubling as it became clear that Alyssa wasn't quite as old as she usually was. 

"Sorry, sweetheart. I'm not going to leave you here." 

She opened her arms, half expecting Alyssa to shove her away. But suddenly, she found herself with a lapful of sobbing keeper, head buried in her shoulder and tears soaking her Champions shirt. She rocked Alyssa gently, all the while hoping to hear her teammates running back down the tunnel with Becky in tow. 

"Shh, honey," she cooed. "It's okay, you're okay. I've got you."

If Alyssa was trying to speak, her words were unintelligible. Heather didn't think that the younger woman had been trying to say anything in particular, and so she just kept cooing what she hoped were comforting words. 

This wasn't her first time comforting a distraught teammate, or even opponent. Not even her first time doing it for one who was very clearly not exactly big at the moment- she had been around the block a few times, she knew the pressure to perform, and the agony of defeat. 

"Good girl," she praised, as she felt Alyssa's tears begin to slow. "That's it, it's okay." 

"B-Bad," whimpered Alyssa. "D-Didn' do good!"

"No, no."

She squeezed Alyssa tighter, running a hand through her hair. 

"You're so talented, Lyssa. So good."

"W-Wan' Mama!"

"I know, honey. Mama'll be here in just a minute, just hang on, okay?"

Come on, Becky. 

Heather rocked Alyssa back and forth for a few more minutes, shooing away several of the younger players, curious as to why she wasn't joining in the locker room celebration yet. The finally, blessedly, she heard running footsteps behind her and turned to see Becky racing down the tunnel, leaving Sam and Jess in her wake. 

Becky tossed herself to the ground beside Heather and reached out her arms for Alyssa. The little keeper tossed herself into her Mama's arms, sobs renewing as Becky planted a plethora of kisses to her hair. 

"Hi, baby," cooed the defender. "It's okay, Alyssa. It's okay, baby girl. Mommy's here, you're okay. Let it out."

As she petted her baby girl's hair, trying to comfort her, she turned her head to look at Heather, rising to her feet.

"Thank you," she mouthed, and Heather nodded. She gave Alyssa's hand a squeeze, then a light kiss. 

"Of course. She... She was telling me that she doesn't think she did very well, so..."

Becky nodded, bouncing Alyssa gently in her lap. 

"Thank you. Now, go enjoy your celebration. You've certainly earned it." 

Heather smiled, running a finger across the gold medal which was still tucked under her shirt. 

"Thanks, Becks. I'm so proud of you, sweetie," she said to Alyssa. 

The only response she got was a whimper, and she stared sadly back at the keeper as she followed her teammates back into the locker room, where the celebrations were in full swing. It had been a reminder- she got to go out on top, but behind every victory, there was a defeat. 

Becky and Alyssa stayed on the ground until the little one had stopped sobbing, tears turning into little hiccups that the elder would have found adorable if they didn't come from absolute pain and self-blame. 

"There," she cooed. "That's it, baby girl. It's okay, buttercup." 

Alyssa slowly raised her tearstained face up to meet her Mommy's eyes, and Becky bit her lip. 

It was never easy to see her little girl in pain, but it was even worse when there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. There was no way to turn back time, no way to stop Debinha, to stop Jess, or Crystal or Sam. All she could do was try to kiss away the bad thoughts, reassure her keeper that she was talented, that she was loved. That she was enough. 

"There's my sweet girl," she managed. "My amazing little pumpkin." 

Alyssa hiccuped and sniffled again, shaking her head. 

"L-Lost, Mama!"

"I know," Becky said, cradling Alyssa close to her chest. "But it's okay, baby girl. Everybody loses sometimes, and that doesn't make you any less talented. It doesn't make you any less my sweet, amazing, brilliant little girl. It doesn't make Mommy any less proud of you. And remember, baby," she continued. "Mommy isn't the only one who's proud of you, no matter what. Do you want to go back to Mommy's hotel?"

Alyssa nodded, letting Becky help her to her feet. The older woman scooped the silver medal up from the ground. It may not have been the color Alyssa wanted, but it was still something to be proud of. 

And when, a week later, Heather received a card in the mail, written in green crayon with a shaky hand, they all knew that it was so much bigger than winning and losing.



Chapter Text

"Stop! Sam, stop!" 

Sam didn't listen, kicking violently at the wall of the hotel room. She grabbed the pillows off the bed, throwing them every which way in an unabated fury, not caring where they landed. 

Nikki knocked one away from hitting the lamp, trying to control the damage of her girlfriend's rage. 


The Australian didn't seem to hear her, letting out a furious yell and slamming her toe into the chest of drawers. 


She screamed in pain, but the sensation did nothing to calm her fury. 


The Australian paused, breathing heavily, searching around the room for more things to destroy. Nikki's voice had broken through, at least slightly, to her girlfriend. The American ran forward, grabbed Sam's shoulders before she decided to resume her destruction of the hotel room. 

"Baby," she said, eyes wide and frightened- not of her girlfriend, but for her. For whatever thoughts could be running through her brain, whatever moment in the game she kept reliving.

Nikki and Sam had been together for a long time, and the only other time she had seen her girlfriend like this was when Sam had missed the penalty kick, and Australia had lost to Norway. 

"Sam, what... what the fuck?"

Sam let out a furious noise. 

"Fuck this! God, Nikki, what the fuck? Why the hell did everything have to go wrong?! Why did Tierna have to get fucking hurt, why couldn't Sarah fucking shut down Debinha, why couldn't Savannah just give me one decent cross, why-" 

Her voice broke.

"Why couldn't... Why couldn't I just f-finish?"

The tears that had been brewing in her eyes ever since the final whistle sounded finally spilled over, and she collapsed into Nikki's arms. 

"Ma," she sobbed. "'M s-sorry-y-y!" 

Nikki sat down on the bed and pulled Sam into her lap, cradling the distraught Australian against her chest. 

"Oh, baby girl," she cooed. "It's okay, Mummy's here. Mummy loves you so much, it's okay to cry. I've got you."

Sam wailed in misery, trying to snuggle closer to Nikki's chest. The American stroked her hair, rocking her back and forth gently. 

"M-Mumm-mmmy-yy," cried Sam, choking on her tears, tears of fury and guilt and disappointment, and too many complicated, bad feelings which were too much for a little girl's brain to handle.

Nikki hummed softly to her, waiting for her tears to taper off. Once they faded into sniffles and hiccups, Nikki kissed her gently on the forehead. 

"There you go, dingo. That's a good girl."

She didn't need to ask what was wrong. They didn't really even need to talk about it, not while Sam was little. 

"Mumm-mmy," hiccuped Sam. "Sammy s-sorry."

The comforter on the bed was one of the few things which hadn't faced Sam's rage, and so Nikki pulled it around them, running a gentle hand across her cheek, wiping away the tears that hadn't quite dried. 

"I know, baby girl. Mummy's sorry too, sweetie. I know how badly you wanted to win, and Mummy is so sorry that we didn't. But it wasn't your fault, sweet princess. It's not anybody's fault. Not Tierna's, not Sarah's, not Savannah's, not mine, and definitely not yours." 

Sam whimpered, gripping onto a tendril of Nikki's hair and curling it absently around her finger. The thumb of her other hand drifted to her mouth.

"You're my sweet baby girl," cooed Nikki. "And you are so precious. Not because of the goals you score, but because you're you. You're Mommy's precious one, my goofy, crazy little dingo. I love you so much, Samantha May. So, how about we clean this room up, and then we can have cuddle time." 

Sam nodded as Nikki urged her gently off of her lap. 

"You can pick up the pillows, and Mommy will pick up everything else."

Sam obeyed quickly, and soon the room was back in order, with barely any sign of the striker's tantrum remaining. Nikki changed Sam into her pajamas, helped her make sure that her teeth were all brushed, and then joined her under the covers. 

Sam quickly snuggled into her chest, thumb returning to her mouth and eyes already fluttering. With the frankly incredible amount of energy that Sam had expended today, first on the field, then by nearly trashing the hotel room, and finally by sobbing for at least ten minutes in her Mommy's arms, Nikki was surprised that she wasn't already asleep. 

But Sam was nothing if not stubborn. 

"Mummy sing?" 

The little one's voice was so weak and sleepy that Nikki knew she wouldn't last more than one verse of whatever she sang, but she couldn't really say no to Sam when she asked so sweetly. 

"What do you want to hear, love?" 

"Horsies, Mummy?"

Nikki smiled- she should have guessed. That was always the first song Sam requested. Her little creature of habit... 

"Okay, pumpkin."

Nikki's voice wasn't the best, but if her little one wanted a lullaby, then who was she to say no?

"Hush-a-bye, don't you cry

Go to sleep my little baby

When you wake, you shall see

Coach and six-a-little horses

Blacks and bays, dapples and grays

All the pretty little horses"

Sure enough, Sam was asleep before Nikki even finished singing about the different types of horses. The American stayed awake for a few minutes longer, brushing the hair out of Sam's eyes and kissing her gently on the forehead. 

"Mummy loves you, dingo. No matter what." 

Chapter Text

Sleeping in Ali's childhood bedroom had stopped being weird after the first few times. The bed was small, and so Debbie and Ken had always put an air mattress inside the room for Ashlyn, if she wanted it. 

She never did. 

It was a squeeze, to fit on the bed, but it was worth it, to hold Ali while she slept. Especially today. 

"Mommy," whispered Ali, nuzzling Ashlyn's neck with her forehead. The little girl had only just finished sobbing in Ashlyn's arms, a combination of stress, worry and sadness finally getting the better of her. 

"Hey, angel," said Ashlyn, rubbing Ali's back. "How are you feeling?"

Ali sniffled, and Ashlyn sat up in the bed, pulling the older woman onto her lap. She kept the fluffy blankets wrapped around them, rocking Ali gently. Really, she wasn't surprised that her fiancee had regressed- it was a horrible, stressful situation that they were in, and Ali had needed to be so strong, for the rest of her family. 

"Aww, baby," cooed Ashlyn. "Are you my sweet, worried baby girl?"

Ali nodded shyly.

"Mommy," she asked. "Is Dad g-gonna be okay?"

Ashlyn pressed a kiss to the top of Ali's head, and her little girl wiped the excess tears in her eyes off on Ashlyn's shirt. This was the question that Ashlyn had been hoping to avoid answering. Because, really, there was no way to know. But the keeper was glad that Ali had regressed today, rather than a few days earlier when the question might have had a very different answer.

"It looks like it, angel! He's a strong guy."

Ali nodded apprehensively. 

"He is."

Ashlyn kissed Ali's forehead.

"Just like his daughter. My baby," she sighed adoringly as Ali blushed pink.

"Now, lovey," she continued. "Do you want Mommy to go get you a snack? You can eat it while we watch a movie, or just snuggle a little bit, okay?"

Ali nodded, crawling off her lap to allow Ashlyn to leave her room and go towards the kitchen. The little girl watched her go, pulling one of her stuffed animals into her arms to snuggle until Mommy came back. Ashlyn vowed to hurry, so that she wasn't leaving her little Kriegy alone for any longer than she had to. 

Debbie had told her to help herself to whatever was in the kitchen, as always. So, Ashlyn pulled open the refrigerator and dug through the fruit drawer. She was hoping to find some raspberries or even black raspberries, something sweet and special for her sweet, special little girl. Unfortunately, there were none to be found, and Ashlyn made a mental note to go and buy some- actually, to go buy groceries in general. 

But, for now, she settled for a shiny apple, washing it under the faucet and then beginning to cut it up into slices. 

While her fiancee would eat them happily, her little girl hated apple skins. So, putting them in a bowl, she started to peel the skin off of each individual slice. 

"Hey, Ash," came a voice from behind her, and she turned around to see a thoroughly exhausted looking Kyle. However, he still seemed to have the energy to notice the unusual way that she was preparing the snack. 

"Why... Why are you cutting the skin off your apple?"

Ashlyn wracked her brain, trying to think up an excuse. She wasn't used to having to hide Ali's little side- if a teammate had asked her why she was cutting the skin off her apple, all she would have needed to say was 'Ali's little today,' and they would have understood. 

But that might not be the right approach for her family members, especially in such a stressful time as this. 

"I... I guess I've just been spending too much time with Syd and Dom and the kids," she said quickly. "Cassius hates skin on his apples." 

Kyle nodded, seeming to accept the excuse. Ashlyn added a few slices of cheese, and then made to return to her little girl. 

"God," said Kyle. "I'd love to see how hard Ali laughs at that." 

Then, he went to the refrigerator to make his own snack, and Ashlyn smiled to herself. 

"Hey, bug," she said happily as she shut the door to Ali's room behind her. "I got you some apples and cheese."

"Thank you, Mommy," she said softly, accepting the bowl of apples and cheese from Ashlyn. She tucked the stuffed dog into the crook of her elbow and popped an apple slice into her mouth. 

"You're very welcome, baby girl. Now, do you want to watch a princess movie, or do you want to just snuggle with Mommy and Logan Junior while you eat your snack?" 

"Read book, Mommy?" 

Ashlyn wasn't the biggest fan of reading on her own, but she absolutely adored reading to Ali. She loved seeing her little girl's reactions as she did funny voices, and her claps at happy endings she'd heard time and time again. 

"Okay, bug! What books do we have here?"

Ali directed Ashlyn to a box beneath her bed, containing relics of her childhood. Ashlyn opened pulled them out one by one, and Ali shook her head, popping more apple slices in her mouths. Until a book of Disney fairytales emerged. 

Ali clapped, pointing to it.

"Beauty 'n Bee, Mommy!" 

Ashlyn rejoined Ali on the bed, kissing her on the hair. 

"Okay," she said, pulling Ali into her lap and stealing a piece of cheese. "Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away-"

"France," interrupted Ali. "'S in France."

Ashlyn grinned, giving her another kiss. 

"You're right, baby. It's in France, and you're my smart little girl." 

Ali laughed at her fiancee's ridiculous French accent for Lumiere, and her growl for the Beast, and her deep voice for Gaston. 

As Ali snacked, and Ashlyn read, and Logan Junior rested in Ali's arms like only a stuffed puppy could do, Kyle couldn't help but peek through the crack in the door of his sister's bedroom. 

Ali seemed... at peace, to him. She had been putting on such a brave front, being so strong for everyone else throughout this whole nightmare, and he was glad that she had someone like Ashlyn to take care of her, in any way she needed. 

"And then, Belle came down the staircase..." 


Chapter Text

Dinner with the littles was always an... experience, to say the least. From coaxing vegetables into their mouths and confiscating cookies to reminding them that they needed to use their utensils and not their hands, even one little could make a team dinner quite... interesting. 

Tonight, though, something seemed off. 

"Morgan, baby, eat your broccoli."

Morgan shook her head, crossing her arms across her chest and glaring at the offending vegetable.


Lauren rubbed her temple, trying to think of other ways to ask her little girl to eat her food, so that they didn't end up sitting at this dinner table all night. 

Unfortunately, Christen took that moment to kiss Mal on the forehead.

"Thank you for eating all of your vegetables, sweetheart."

Mal nuzzled into her Mommy's shoulder, oblivious to the furious glare coming from across the table. 

"Morgan, please," said Lauren. "I need you to eat your broccoli."

Morgan's glare only deepened.

"Dumb," she whispered under her breath as Lauren turned to talk to Ali. "Don' wan' stupid vegetables. Bet stupid baby didn' even eat 'dem." 

"Did," said Mal, lower lip sticking out. Christen had heard the statement, and reached across the table to get Lauren's attention. Morgan's Mommy ended her conversation with Ali just in time to hear Morgan's next comment. 

"Dumb baby don' even know what veggies is. Why do' anyone like dumb, bad babies?" 

"Morgan Paige!" 

The table went silent as Lauren looked at Mal in disbelief. She was beyond shocked- this wasn't like her normally sweet little girl. The shock turned quickly into anger as she processed the comment, especially as Mal sniffled, collapsing into Christen's arms and bursting into tears. 

"Shh, baby," cooed Christen, kissing her little one's head, then looking at Morgan in disappointment. "It's okay, let's go upstairs. We can watch a movie and you can snuggle with me and Mama, okay?"

Without waiting for Mal's response, Christen scooped the younger striker into her arms, rocking her gently as she carried her towards hers and Tobin's room. 

When Lauren spoke again, her voice was deadly calm as she stared at Morgan.

"We are also going upstairs. Now."

Leaving the broccoli on the plate, Lauren turned and walked towards the room, Morgan following in her wake with her eyes downcast. When the door shut behind them, Lauren had to clench her fists in an attempt to quell the boiling anger. 


Lauren didn't even let her finish the word. 

"Morgan Paige," she growled. "I can't even look at you right now. In what world was what just happened okay?" 

Morgan sniffled, not quite knowing what to do with herself. She had been so mad, but... But now, Mommy was really really mad at her.

Lauren wasn't done.

"If I hadn't promised myself that I would absolutely never lay a hand on you, you would be getting a spanking right now. Just... Just sit on the bed and think about what you said, while I go and talk to Christen and Tobin, and make sure that Mal is okay. When I get back, we'll talk about what your punishment is going to be." 

Then, the door shut behind her, leaving Morgan alone on the bed. 

The little girl whimpered, grabbing her stuffed unicorn and burying her face in its fur as the tears began to fall. 

Before long, she was sobbing. She wanted Mommy. She really, really wanted Mommy, even though Mommy was very very mad at her. Because Mommy was always there when she was sad, always there to let Morgan bury her head in her shoulder. 

But Morgan had been so bad, so, so bad, and now Mommy had to be somewhere else, comforting another little baby who was also crying, all because of Morgan. 

In her rational mind, the mind not clouded with tears, she knew that Mommy had said they would discuss her punishment- and that meant that Mommy had to come back. But she was crying so hard, rocking her unicorn the way she wanted to be rocked and comforted, that it was so so hard to remember. 

"M-Momm-mmm-myyy," she sobbed. But no, she was the bad baby, and Mal was the good baby, and so of course Mommy was with Mal, making sure that the bad baby hadn't hurt the good baby.

She had cried herself almost into a stupor, to the point where the fuzz on her unicorn was soaked, when Lauren finally returned.

The older woman was still absolutely furious at Morgan, beyond a doubt- seeing Mal, sobbing in Tobin's arms while Christen made her a nice, warm bottle, had been hard enough. The fact that it was her little one who had done it, who had made her close friend's baby girl cry, made it infinitely worse. 

"I'm so, so sorry, honey," she said to Mal, stroking the little girl's hair. "And Morgan is sorry too, and I promise that she'll apologize to you. To all three of you," she said, turning to Tobin and Christen. 

The couple smiled at her in forgiveness, before turning back to comforting their little girl. 

Now, she had to deal with her own. 

When she returned to the room, Morgan was still sobbing softly, her unicorn wrapped in her arms. She looked so... so small, so vulnerable. Her Mommy instincts were screaming at her to wrap Morgan up into her arms and comfort her the way Christen and Tobin were comforting Mal. But she couldn't- she had to deal with the situation first, and then she could comfort her baby girl.

"Morgan Paige," she said. "Look at me."

Morgan looked at her with wide, red eyes. Her lip was still trembling, and her grip on the unicorn stuffie was tight- she was keeping the toy close, just in case she needed to snuggle something while her Mommy yelled at her.

"What... What on earth were you thinking? Why in the world would you say something so... so mean to Mal?"

Morgan hiccuped as she tried to answer.

"'M s-s-sorry, Mommy!" 

"I know, baby girl. I just need to know why, because you're normally my sweet, kind, loving little angel. It's just not like you." 

Morgan's shoulders collapsed, and she rubbed the damp stuffed animal against her cheek. 

"J-Just... Jus' didn'... Mommy wants a good baby, who eats b-b-broccoli!"

She broke down into a fresh round of tears, and this time Lauren did rush forward and gather the baby into her arms. Morgan collapsed against her chest, shaking with emotion, letting herself be rocked back and forth. 

"Oh, honey," Lauren comforted her. "Honey, is that what this is about? Mommy loves you, Moe Moe, so much. I don't want any other baby, just you. Just my little Morgan, tummy full of broccoli or not."

Morgan just cried, beyond relieved to be in her Mommy's arms. 

"Atta girl," cooed Lauren, patting Morgan's back through the last of her sobs. 

"Now," she said, once Morgan was relatively calm, leaning against her shoulder and pulling at her unicorn's horn. 

"First things first, I'm going to need you to apologize to Mal and her Mommies. You really, really hurt her feelings, and it made her Mommies sad too."

Morgan nodded.

"Mmkay," she said. "C'n we 'pologize now? 'M real sorry and I don' wan' Mal t'hate me."

Lauren shook her head. 

"Not tonight, bean. I think Mal's asleep right now, but we can apologize in the morning. Okay?"

Morgan nodded. 

"'Kay, Mommy."

Lauren had thought about how she was going to punish Morgan ever since the incident had happened. She had been considering taking away her unicorn, but when she had returned to the room and seen how Morgan was cradling it, as if it were her only comfort in the world... 

Nope. She couldn't do that. 

"Sweetie," she said. "I'm taking away your TV time for the next two weeks, and absolutely no dessert either."

Morgan nodded in cooperation. She was gonna miss her cookies- the few that the trainers allowed them to eat- but if this was what it took to get Mommy to forgive her, it was so, so worth it.

"Good girl," Lauren cooed. "That's my sweet, precious baby girl. Mommy loves you so, so much."

Morgan gave Lauren a wet kiss on the cheek. 

"Love Mommy," she said. "Lots 'n lots."

Lauren smiled, returning the kiss.

"No matter what, Mommy will always love you." 

Chapter Text

It had been a big year for Megan Rapinoe. Most of it had been good, really, and she didn't regret anything.

But, the bad things still sometimes crept into her brain. Like how much some people hated her, and how much they attacked her online, and attacked Sue and her friends for defending her. She didn't know why it was bothering her today- normally, whenever she saw a mean tweet or comment, she would just smile to herself and let it roll right off of her like water down a windshield on a rainy day. 

Something was wrong today, though. She had woken up, and it had all hit her at once, soaking in like a sponge on that same rainy day. 

It was Sue's turn to make the coffee, and so Megan was alone in their bed. She couldn't stop herself from breathing heavily, reaching for one of their extra pillows and pulling it close to her chest. She buried her face into the pillowcase, and was astounded by how... how soft it was. 

She whimpered, rubbing it against her cheek like... like a small child. 

"No," she whispered into the pillow. "Nuh uh."

The sound of her own voice was shocking. Instead of her normal adult voice, the tone that came from her mouth was decidedly whiny, shaky, small. 

Her brain was fuzzy, and she felt tears spring to her eyes. She wanted Sue back in the bed with her now, but at the same time, she didn't want her girlfriend to see her like this. So, keeping the pillow in her arms, she jumped out of the bed and toddled as quickly as she could over to their on-suite bathroom. She shut the door behind her, but her hands were too busy holding onto the fluffy comfort object to lock it. 

"No cry," she tried to tell herself. "No' baby." 

The words were unconvincing, even to herself. If she had heard someone else say those words, in that voice, she would have looked down at them with her eyebrow raised before giving them a big hug, and asking them if they were absolutely sure. 

"No b-babyy," she tried again, once again failing to convince herself. This last effort was too much, and she buried her face back in the pillow as she burst into tears.

When Sue returned to their room, two cups of coffee balanced in her hands, it was to find a surprisingly Megan-less bed. The covers were askew, and one of the pillows was missing. 


She got no answer, and so she took a sip of coffee and set Megan's mug on the bedside table. She could see that the bathroom door was shut, and so she slid back underneath the covers to wait for her girlfriend. 

Then, five minutes passed, and still no Megan. Her ears perked up at the sound of small whimpers coming from the bathroom, and so she pulled back the covers and made her way towards the side room. She knocked lightly on the door, but got no response, so she tried the handle and found the door unlocked. Pushing it open, it took her a minute to spot her girlfriend.

Megan was curled around a pillow, crying softly to herself. The hand that wasn't holding the pillow was hovering near her mouth. She was sitting beneath the sink, and Sue sank down to her knees, reaching out a hand to her girlfriend and brushing her hair back. 

"Megan? Honey, what's wrong?" 

Megan shook her head, retreating away from Sue. The one cheek that the basketball player could see was flushing red, and Megan cried louder. 

"Babe," Sue said. "You're... you're kind of scaring me. I can go away if you want me to, but... I want to help, okay?" 

Megan pulled her head out from the pillow, and Sue took in the sight of her girlfriend's wide, teary, frightened eyes and red face. 

"I... I 'fink 'm..."

She burst into a fresh round of tears, and Sue tried to wrap her head around how absolutely tiny her girlfriend both looked and sounded. 

"You think you're what, honey?" 

Megan tossed herself forward into Sue's arms, burying her face into the other woman's chest. She just cried as Sue wrapped her arms around her, using one hand to stroke her back, whispering that it was all going to be okay. 

"It's alright, Megan. It's okay, it's okay." 

"Noooooooo," moaned her girlfriend miserably into her shirt. "D-don' wanna!" 

Sue pulled Megan closer, rocking her gently back and forth gently. 

"What don't you wanna do, sweetheart?" 

Megan seemed to be struggling with herself, trying to figure out whether or not she wanted to tell Sue what was really wrong, or just continue sobbing until she couldn't anymore and then go on pretending that everything was normal. 

Her girlfriend made the choice for her, with just a simple sentence. 

"I'm here for you, baby."

"M-M-Mama," wailed Megan, fresh tears soaking Sue's shirt. "Don' wan' b-be smallllll!" 

Sue's back protested as she lifted Megan up into her arms and carried her back to the bed, wrapping them both back up in the covers. She held her girlfriend close while she finished crying, waiting for the flow of tears to trickle off before talking to Megan about what was going on. 

It took a few minutes, Sue stroking her hair the entire time, before Megan looked like she could speak again. 

"Hey, Megan," said Sue, kissing her girlfriend's forehead. "Are you still small?" 

Megan nodded shyly, and Sue squeezed her hand reassuringly. 

"That's okay, honey. Do you want to tell me why you don't want to be small?"

Megan nodded again, speaking quietly. 

"'S 'barrassing. Should be big girl, no little girl." 

Sue had to stop herself from cooing in adoration. It was clear that Megan was nervous about how she was going to react, and she really shouldn't have found that as adorable as she did. 

"Oh, baby," she said. "It's okay. If you need to be little, then you can be little, and I can be your Mommy. If you want me too," she added quickly. 

Megan's eyes widened. 

"R-Really? You wanna be Mama?"

Sue nodded, stroking Megan's cheek softly. 

"I would be so happy if you would let me take care of you, Megan."

The little girl's face lit up in happiness, and she gave Sue a huge, sloppy kiss on the cheek.  Sue returned the gesture, relishing Megan's grin and pulling her close against her side. She took another sip of coffee as her girlfriend snuggled against her shoulder.

She had certainly not been expecting her morning to go like this, but she definitely wasn't complaining. She had seen Ashlyn little before, and had seen Ali taking care of her, and she had secretly wondered what it would be like to be able to care for Megan like that, to be responsible for the safety and happiness of her girlfriend in a moment of vulnerability. She guessed she was going to find out. 

Chapter Text

"I promise," said Lucy. "It'll be fine." 

Kristie gave a heavy sigh on the other side of the phone, and then yawned. 

"Seriously," continued Lucy. "There's a whole bunch of us, we can take care of one little girl." 

"Okay," said the American. "Just... If anything does go wrong, please call me. Seriously. I don't give a fuck if you wake me up, she's more important." 

Lucy nodded, casting her gaze over towards Rachel, who was sitting in Karen's lap and playing idly with a strand of her own hair. She was humming quietly to herself, and Steph, Karen and Kiera were smiling adoringly at her. 

"I will," she said. "Don't worry about it, we've got her." 

Kristie thanked her again, and hung up the phone to go back to sleep. Lucy walked back over to the small group of women sitting on the locker room floor. 

"Okay," she said. "Honey, I just got off the phone with your Mummy. She says that she loves you very much, and she told us a little bit about how to take care of you. So, you get to spend today with your Aunties! Does that sound like fun?"

Rachel nodded shyly, and Steph smiled down at her, picking her up out of Karen's lap and carrying her towards the field, where Phil and the rest of the team was waiting for them. Rachel buried her head into Steph's shoulder as they joined their teammates, all of whom let smiles burst onto their face at the sight of the adorable little girl. 

"Someone's going to have to sit with her," said Lucy to Phil. "We can take turns." 

The coach rubbed his temple, not exactly thrilled to lose not one, but two members of the squad for this practice. But, there was nothing to be done about it, if the determined looks on the women's faces and Rachel's quiet nuzzles into Steph's neck was any indication. 

"Alright," he said. "Everyone except Rachel and Steph, onto the field!"

Lucy, Kiera and Karen waved to little Rachel as Steph sat her down on the sidelines. She went down onto her stomach, running her fingers through the turf, seemingly fascinated by the plastic surface. 

"So," said Steph. "What's your favorite thing to do when you're little?"

Rachel shrugged, twirling a curl of hair around her finger. 

"Dunno. Mummy usually reads me books 'n stuff." 

Steph swore inside her head. She should have thought of this- they had absolutely nothing to do with a baby while practice was going on. So, she joined Rachel on her stomach on the turf, asking the little girl to point out whatever little things that she saw. Rachel obliged, plucking up some of the little blades of artificial grass and asking quietly what they were. Steph didn't really know, but she did her best to explain until Lucy jogged over to take her turn. 

"Hey there, pumpkin," the defender said. Steph hopped up and joined the rest of the team on the field, and Rachel gave her a little wave as she went. 

Lucy had brought a ball with her, and she pulled Rachel to her feet. They kicked it back and forth, Rachel giggling happily as she tried to get it past Lucy. She lost some of her coordination when she was little, but Lucy still gasped in mock horror as she let the little girl roll the object past her. 

Rachel cackled like a little demon as Lucy chased after the ball, then received it perfectly against her foot when the other woman passed it back to her. 

"Good job, kiddo," Lucy praised, picking Rachel up and spinning her around. 

Kiera, Karen and Millie all took turns watching Rachel before Phil called for the team to take a break. Rachel was sucking on her thumb, and had done everything from playing chase with Karen to munching on a cookie that Millie had sneaked into her bag as a snack for herself later- the little one was just too adorable to resist. 

"Okay," said Steph, turning to the members of the team who weren't surrounding the adorable little Rachel. "There's a convenience store just a few minutes drive from here. Does someone want to go and grab some snacks or something for Rachel?" 

Georgia grinned conspiratorially. 

"Actually," she said. "I think I can do you one better. If Phil asks, I ran to the convenience store, but I keep a stash of snacks on the bus, and Rachel is just too cute not to give them to."

She ran off to go get them as Jade, Nikita and Demi clapped at the cute little pigtails that Fran had put into Rachel's hair. 

"Okay, ladies," said Phil, gesturing the team back onto the field. "Time to go!"

Georgia took her turn with Rachel next, and the little one's face lit up with excitement and happiness at the sight of candy. 

"T'ank you, Gigi!" 

As Rachel popped the Snickers bar into her mouth, Georgia cooed in adoration at the nickname she had been granted. She was tempted to brag to her teammates that Rachel must like her the best.

"You're very welcome, cutie pie!" 

Rachel grabbed another piece of candy, popping it into her mouth. Then another. Vaguely, Georgia wondered if she should cut her off, but then her turn was over and Leah was sitting down beside her. She ate another chocolate bar, and her smile was growing wider and wider. Finally, after a few more pieces of candy, she hopped to her feet and chased after Leah, both of them giggling. 

They ran a circle around the field, Rachel giggling like mad as she chased the other woman around. The women on the field couldn't help but smile at them, even Carly, allowing Ellen to bury her shot in the back of the net. When they reached the spot that they had vacated at the beginning of the game of chase, Rachel plopped back down at reached for the bag of candy again.

However, there was someone else there, picking up the bag of candy. 

"Okay," said Beth. "That's enough candy."

"Oh, c'mon," said Jade, jogging over. "Just let the baby eat some candy!" 

Phil rolled his eyes, trying in vain to keep the other team members from following her over. Ignoring practice, playing with the baby instead of drinking water, Georgia trying to sneak back in with fucking candy... He had no idea why he was even trying anymore.

"No," said Beth. "Absolutely not. She's already had plenty of candy."

Rachel's lower lip stuck out and she made grabby hands towards the bag. Beth handed the bag to Phil, the one person who could be counted on not to cave in and let the adorable little girl have more candy, and then took Rachel's hands in her own.

"Little one," she said. "If I was going to guess, I would say that you need a nap."

"Noooooo," whined Rachel. "Not tired!" 

Beth raised her eyebrows. 

"Really? I am not convinced." 

"Oh, come on, Beth," said Millie. "She doesn't look tired to me. Just let the baby have some more candy!" 

Beth shook her head. 

"I don't think so. Unless one of you wants to call Kristie and explain why her baby had a sugar crash. Speaking of sugar crashes," she turned back to Rachel, who had plopped down to a seated position on the turf. "Come on, we're going to put you down for a nap."

Rachel didn't protest this time, letting Beth pick her up and leaning her head on the forward's shoulder with a yawn. 

"Aww," Beth cooed. "I thought you were a tired little girl." 

When Beth came back from putting Rachel down for a nap- in Phil's office, unbeknownst to the coach- the rest of the team was waiting for her. 

"So," said Georgia. "How... What was that? She didn't... She didn't look that tired to me."

As Phil gestured them back onto the field to continue practice, Beth gave a smile and a shrug. 

"It's not my first rodeo. If Daan has too much candy, she goes nuts for a little while, and then if I don't put her down for a nap right away, she'll turn into a cranky little brat." 

The rest of the women shook their heads in exasperation as they passed the ball back and forth. 

Chapter Text

A big, loud noise was what made Mal jerk awake. At first, she thought that it was just a part of her dream, but then the scary booming came again. She shrieked, grabbing for her fluffy blankie and pulling it over her head. She clutched her stuffie to her chest, whimpering in fear. Another big noise shook her crib, and she burst into frightened tears. 

"M-Mamaaaaaa," she sobbed, rocking back and forth in the dark. "M-M-Mommm-mmmyy!" 

Her door swung open and the light flicked on, illuminating Mama, wearing her big T-Shirt with her hair up in a messy bun. Mama raced towards the crib, and Mal reached her arms up for her, and immediately felt herself being lifted up, blankie and all. She snuggled into Mama's shoulder as Tobin carried her back to her and Mommy's room. 

Christen was sitting up in bed, and Tobin deposited her on the blankets, sliding in next to her. Mal snuggled underneath the covers, and buried her teary face in Mommy's side as the loud boom came again.

"Oh, pumpkin," said Christen sleepily, rubbing her eyes. "Did the thunder scare you?"

Mal nodded, and Tobin rubbed her back. 

"It's okay," she said. "It's okay, honey. Thunder's just a loud noise, it's not gonna hurt you." 


She didn't finish her sentence before there was another boom of thunder, and Mama and Mommy were both holding her, rocking her between them. 

"Shh, tiny girl," cooed Mommy. "It's okay, we're right here. We won't let anything happen to you." 

Christen had her hair in two messy braids to sleep, and Mal tugged nervously at one of them, twirling Mommy's hair around her fingers. Mama kissed Mal's forehead, stroking her gently, trying to soothe her back to sleep.

The storm was starting to die down outside, and the big booms of thunder were now only quiet rumbles in the distance- not that scary, especially when Mal was snuggled between Mommy and Mama, both of them whispering soft, sweet words to her as she fell back to sleep. 

"Goodnight, baby girl. Mommy and Mama are here, and we love you so much." 

The next night, after Mommy had changed her diaper for bedtime, gotten her all cozy in a onesie, and was about to lower her down into her crib, Mal whimpered. She wrapped her arms tightly around Mommy's neck, rubbing her face against the older woman's cheek, and Christen turned to give her a kiss.

"Come on, sweetheart," she said. "You've gotta let go, so Mommy can get you nice and cozy in your crib." 

Mal shook her head, staring down at the crib.

"B-But, what 'f booms?"

"Aww," cooed Christen, sitting down in the rocking chair with Mal in her lap. "Pumpkin, don't worry. There isn't going to be a storm tonight." 

Mal was not convinced, snuggling closer to Christen. 

"B-B-B... C'n baby s'eep wit' Mommy 'n Mama?" 

Christen knew she shouldn't say yes. Sleeping in the big bed with Mommy and Mama was something that they only usually let Mal do when she was either sick or had just had a nightmare. They had given her her own room for a reason, but as her little girl stared up at her with pleading doe eyes, she couldn't bring herself to refuse.

"Oh, alright, pumpkin," she said, standing up with Mal wrapped in her arms. "Just for tonight."

Mal kissed Christen on the cheek, whispering her thanks.

When Christen carried Mal into the big bedroom, Tobin looked up from her book, a grin spreading across her face. Mal reached her arms down for her, and Christen handed the baby down to her wife so that she could go get herself ready for bed. 

"Hi baby girl! Are you going to be Mama's cuddle buddy tonight?" 

Mal snuggled into Tobin's chest, letting Mama pull the covers up and over her. She was sucking gently on her pacifier, eyes already beginning to drift shut. Mama was just so cozy, and she was so happy that she got to sleep all sandwiched in between Mommy and Mama. Sure, the bed would be a little cramped, but little baby Mal didn't really take up that much space. 

Mal fell asleep as soon as Christen returned to the room, and the two kissed chastely on the lips above their little girl, nursing on her pacifier in the midst of sweet dreams.

 The next night, Mal swore that there was a monster under her crib. 

Even though Tobin checked, and swore that there was no monster, Mal had absolutely refused to let her Mama put her down.

Tobin had decided not to push it- Mal was absolutely too adorable, and the baby really was very snuggly, even if the bed was a bit crowded.

Christen raised her eyebrows, but didn't protest at the newest resident of the big bed.

When Tobin came into the room the following night, carrying a giggling Mal in her arms, Christen decided to put her foot down.

Standing up, she gestured for her wife to hand her the baby, and looked the little girl in the eyes.

"You need to sleep in your crib tonight, bunny." 

Mal whimpered, shaking her head in protest.



She carried Mal towards the door, heart hurting at the tears streaming from her little girl's eyes, and because she wanted to snuggle with her little girl all the time. But the bed was really not made for three people, and she had been woken up the past two nights by sharp little elbows poking her, and an astonishing lack of blankets. Besides, she and Tobin were still adults, and they wanted to have adult time, which wasn't possible if they had a baby sleeping in between them. 

Mal was fully sobbing by the time Christen deposited her in her crib, and she kicked off the covers in despair. She reached out her arms for Christen, hoping to be picked back up. The older striker gave her a kiss on the forehead, then flicked off the light. 

"Goodnight, sweet baby. Mommy and Mama love you."

She rejoined Tobin in their room, and found that the midfielder was staring intently at the baby monitor instead of her book. Christen kissed her wife's neck, then her cheek.

"Hey, babe."

"She's crying, Chris," said Tobin, and the striker took her wife's hand. 

"I can hear that, Tobs. But she's a baby, and she has to sleep in her crib. She can't sleep with us every night." 

Tobin's lower lip stuck out in a pout, almost like Mal's. 

"Why not?"

Christen rolled her eyes.

"Do you ever want to have sex again?"

Tobin nodded in acknowledgement of Christen's point, and turned off their light. The only sound in the room as the two women tried to fall asleep was the upset screams coming through the baby monitor.

"Don' worry," said Christen into her pillow. "She'll stop soon."

Mal did not stop crying. Her sobs faded into whimpers, but it was obvious that she was still awake and crying.

Somehow, Christen had managed to fall asleep. But, Tobin just couldn't. The sound of her baby girl, so miserable on the other end of the radio, was just too much. Even though she knew that Christen was right, that Mal really did need to sleep without them, she couldn't stop herself from rolling out of bed and tiptoeing down the hallway to her tiny girl.

When Christen woke up, it was to find a surprisingly Tobin-less bed. Her wife never woke up before her. 

There was no noise coming through the baby monitor, and so she assumed that either Mal was still asleep, or that the baby had woken up and started crying for breakfast and a diaper change and Tobin had heard her before Christen did. 

So, stretching, Christen slid on her slippers and went downstairs to make coffee. As she walked down the hallway, she did a double take.

Mal's door was open, and her baby girl was indeed sleeping peacefully in her crib, a line of drool coming from the corner of her mouth, since her paci had come out during the night. One of her hands was dangling out through the bars of the crib, and it was gripping another hand.

Tobin was lying on the floor next to Mal's crib, asleep, clutching onto the baby's hand. The creak of Christen's feet on the floorboards made her stir, and her eyes fluttered open to meet her wife's.

"Pushover," said Christen, rolling her eyes fondly. "I'll make the coffee."

Tobin smiled, rubbing a thumb over the back of Mal's hand. Her little one made a small noise, sleeping peacefully with Mama's hand in hers. 





Chapter Text

"Okay," said Christen, as Lindsey followed after her. "So, make sure she's in bed by 8. If she doesn't want to go to sleep, then you can give her a bottle in the rocking chair, and she'll probably pass right out. Make sure you remember to get her in a diaper, and that she has her pacifier. She's a very sweet baby, and she shouldn't be any trouble. We'll have our cell phones on, so call us if you need anything, and help yourself to anything in the fridge."

Tobin was holding the baby against her chest, and she gave Mal one last cuddle and kiss on the forehead before passing her off to Lindsey. Mal tried to cling on to Tobin, whimpering, but didn't start crying or protesting. Christen kissed her as well, and then they were out the door, on their way to a calm, romantic dinner, leaving their baby girl with her friend.

The second the door shut behind her Mommies, Mal was struggling against Lindsey's chest, kicking her legs to be put down.

"Okay," said Lindsey, putting Mal down gently on the couch. "What do you want for dinner, kiddo?" 

Mal shook her head, eyebrows furrowing down into a glare. She crossed her arms, and Lindsey asked the question again.

"No," she pouted. "Don' wan' dinner." 

Well, at least not any dinner that wasn't made by Mommy and Mama. 

"Sweetie," said Lindsey, sitting down on the couch beside her. "You need to eat dinner. What can I make you?" 

The older woman jumped back as Mal let out a furious scream, tossing one of her stuffies across the room. 


Lindsey rubbed her temple. This was off to a fantastic start. 

By 8 pm, Mal had thrown the food that Lindsey tried to give her across the room, after crying that Lindsey had made it all wrong; cried for her Mommies, and interspersed all of this with demands for Lindsey to go away. The older woman was trying not to call Tobin and Christen, even though she was very tempted- because there was really nothing that they could do without leaving one of the only dates they had been able to go on in a long time. 

It was bedtime, and Mal was wiggling around furiously on the couch, trying to avoid Lindsey as the older woman tried to pick her up and take her upstairs. 

"No bed! No, no! Not goin' bed, hate you!" 

Lindsey bit her lip, blinking back frustrated tears.  

"Y-You... You can hate me as much as you want, but your Mommy and Mama told me that you need to go to bed at 8. So, that's where we're going."

Mal stopped wiggling in preparation for a scream, and Lindsey took full advantage of that to scoop her up. She carried the squirming baby upstairs, keeping a firm grip on the railing to keep from falling. All the while, Mal was spewing a litany of verbal abuse at Lindsey- well, the childish version of it anyway. 

"H-Hate you! Go away, lemme 'lone! No bed! H-Hate y-you, wan' Mama!" 

Lindsey put Mal down on the plush carpet, digging through her drawers for a onesie and a diaper.

Mal struggled the entire time as Lindsey hefted her up and onto the changing table, stripping her out of her day clothes and trying to replace her diaper. 

A strong pair of legs kicked out, connecting with Lindsey's outstretched arm. The midfielder gasped in surprised pain, dropping the onesie and diaper onto the floor. Mal burst into tears on the changing table, beating it with her fists as Lindsey cradled her arm. 

"Come on, Mal," said Lindsey. "I need to get you in a diaper, then I can go downstairs and you can wait for Mommy and Mama in your crib."

The word crib did nothing to placate the little girl, who only screeched louder. Fighting through the pain of her arm, Lindsey took advantage of a small pause in the baby's physical tantrum to slide the diaper on. There was absolutely no way that she was going to be able to manage to get anything on over Mal's head, and so she just picked her up and took her to the rocking chair, figuring that she might as well try one more time to get the baby to calm down before putting her in the crib.

"Shh, honey," she tried, rocking back and forth in the chair, and trying to bounce Mal gently. "It's okay, Mommy and Mama will be home soon."

Lindsey had thought that the idea of her Mommies coming home would make Mal feel better. It did not, and suddenly there was now a new bruise forming on Lindsey's shin as Mal recommenced her tantrum.

That was just a bit too much for the older woman, who gently lifted the screaming baby into her crib, where she continued to wail inconsolably. The wordless screams were interspersed with continued assertions of how much she wanted Lindsey to go away.

"Good night, Mal."

Then, Lindsey flicked out the light and collapsed against the wall outside the baby's room and just started to sob with frustration and guilt at not being able to calm her. 

It was around 9:30 when Tobin and Christen returned to the house, and they could immediately tell that something was wrong. First of all, Lindsey was not on the couch. Unless Mal was having an amount of trouble going to sleep that she had never had before, the babysitter should have been done with bedtime by now. Long done, in fact. Second of all, when Tobin went to put their leftovers in the fridge, she spotted mushy apple slices on the floor, and a bowl of pasta tipped over on the table, spaghetti noodles and red sauce spread everywhere. Beside it, there was a full bottle. And Mal never went to bed without drinking her bottle.

Third of all, there was a very distinct sound of screaming and tears upstairs.

Mal had been sobbing in her crib for an hour straight, and Lindsey had her arms wrapped around her knees as she cried softly against the wall. Whenever she tried to go in and check on Mal, the baby would scream at her to go away, but she couldn't bring herself to go downstairs away from the girl, just in case something was really wrong. 

"Shit," said Tobin at the sight of Lindsey, and the sound of Mal. "Chris, get up here!" 

Christen ran up the stairs and into Mal's room, flicking on the light, while Tobin knelt down beside Lindsey, putting a hand on her shoulder. 

"What happened?"

Lindsey pulled herself to her feet and made her way towards the stairs.

"God," she cried. "I'm so sorry, Tobin. I just... I couldn't..."

Tobin's Mama senses tingled, and she clenched her fists worriedly, forcing herself to let Christen begin comforting the baby while she talked to the babysitter. 

What couldn't Lindsey do? What the fuck had happened to her baby? And, if Mal was crying, why the hell was Lindsey sitting outside of her room instead of comforting her? 

"She just... I couldn't do anything right, like, s-she wouldn't even let me f-feed her! All she said was t-that she hates me. God, I'm s-so sorry."

"Oh," said Tobin, pulling Lindsey into her arms. "Linds, no. I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry. She has never, ever acted like this before. Can you get home okay, or do you want me to drive you?"

Lindsey shook her head, using her sleeve to wipe her tears. 

"No, thanks though. Just... I'm sorry."

Tobin gave the younger woman another hug, making Lindsey promise to text her when she got home, and then it was just the little family of three.

Tobin entered Mal's nursery to find her little girl sobbing out the last of her extended bout of tears in Christen's lap on the rocking chair. 

"It's okay, pumpkin," cooed Christen. "Mommy's here, you're okay." 

When Mal was done crying, Christen lifted her up, adjusted the slightly crooked diaper tabs and slid the baby into her onesie. Tobin tapped her wife on the shoulder, pulled some of Christen's attention away from the little girl.

"Babe," she said to her wife. "So, Lindsey told me that Mal... That she..."

She couldn't even finish the sentence, so completely flabbergasted was she at the thought of her little girl acting up. Sure, Mal would throw a few little tantrums for them, but they were always easily solved. She couldn't have imagined that her sweet princess would be so mean to the babysitter, who also happened to be Big Mal's best friend. 

So, she just shook her head. Christen sat her back down on the rocking chair. 

"Baby," she said. "What happened?"

Mal sniffled again, a fresh bout of tears springing to her eyes. 

"I-I-I... D-Didn' wanna stup-pid sitter!" 

Christen got back up from the chair, sitting Mal down in it so that she and Tobin could stand in front of her together. The two women had never thought that they could feel this emotion- never, ever thought that they could be angry with their baby girl. But, it took a lot to make Lindsey Horan cry, and if Mal had managed it, then there was a talk that needed to be had.

"Mallory," said Christen, pulling out the full name. "I'm very disappointed in you. Lindsey came her to hang out with you, to take care of you. I... I didn't even think we had to worry about this." 

Tobin bit her lip, devastated by the heartbroken look in Mal's eyes at the reprimand, but didn't contradict her wife. In fact, she quite agreed. 

"I thought you liked Lindsey," said the midfielder. "What happened?"

A violent sob broke through Mal's lips. 

"D-D... Ma gotta leav-v-v-veee to have f-fun! Don' wanna... J-Jus'... Can' have fun wit' baby! Haveta call s'body to hav-ve funnn!" 

The anger in their chests faded, and both women ran forward to wrap their baby in their arms. They just held her while she cried, cooing comforting words into her hair and ears. 

"Love," said Christen as Mal began to come down from what had been a very long night of fits. "Mommy and Mama love you so much. We have so much fun with our sweet baby girl, but sometimes we need to have grown up time. We don't mind finding someone who can hang out with our princess, not at all. Everyone adores you, and it's so easy to find someone to watch you. So don't you worry about that."

Tobin nodded in agreement. 

"Baby girl," she added. "Mommy and Mama having adult time doesn't mean that we love you any less."

"'M sorry," whimpered Mal. "Was mean ta Lind-d-dseyy!" 

"Oh, honey," cooed Tobin. "She'll forgive you. She loves you so much, not as much as Mommy and Mama love you, but almost! I promise that she won't stay mad at you. Now," she said, picking up her baby and tucking her into the blankets in the crib.

"I think it's bedtime for tired, sweet, loved little girls."

Mal's Mommies each kissed her on the forehead, and the baby accepted the pacifier. Christen flicked off the light, and it didn't take long before Mal was dead asleep.

The next day, Mal drew a picture for Lindsey, full of hearts and two brightly colored stick figures together. 

Lindsey pulled her into her arms, and cried happily when Mal stammered out apologies, and promised she'd be good the next time Lindsey agreed to babysit her.  


Chapter Text

Ali was sitting on the floor, playing with her ponies with an episode of Dora the Explorer on in the background, when the twinge in her bladder became prominent. She briefly wondered if she should get up and go to the bathroom, but then she picked up a toy brush from the floor and remembered that Twilight Sparkle really needed her mane braided! This project was enough to distract her from needing to pee, at least for a time. 

But, by the time she had finished braiding Twilight Sparkle's mane and went on to Fluttershy's, she had begun to bounce unconsciously in place. 

Mommy looked up from her magazine, down at Ali.

"Honey," she said. "Do you need to pee?"

Ali shook her head. She was almost done with her braiding, she couldn't stop now! Besides, Dora the Explorer was still on, and she couldn't miss the best parts!

Ashlyn raised her eyebrows.

"Okay, baby. But if you do, please tell Mommy."

Ali agreed, and then returned to her ponies. 

It was another ten minutes before the pressure in her bladder really started to become a problem. She gripped onto Fluttershy, whimpering softly.

"Mommy," she cried, and Ashlyn looked down at her wide eyes and knew exactly what the problem was. 

Unfortunately for Ali, before her Mommy could even get up off the couch to start carrying her to the bathroom, it was too late.

Even though Ali wore pull-ups while she was little, she had never ever used them before. They were more to make her feel tiny than anything else- she hadn't ever planned on using them, all it had ever been was a tiny thought in the back of her mind, quickly dismissed because there was no way Mommy would ever want to deal with that. She would think Ali was so gross!

As her bladder emptied, Ali burst into horrified tears, pulling herself to her feet and trying to flee from her embarrassment. 

"Oh, honey," said Ashlyn, catching onto her before she could get anywhere. "Baby girl, did you use your pull-up?"

Ali sobbed miserably, face turning bright red. Her heart was pounding and she was shivering in horror, because this had to be it. This had to be the end- there was no way that Ashlyn would ever ever want to still be her Mommy now, not when she had just peed in her pull-up! 

But something was wrong. Instead of shoving her away with a look of disgust, Ashlyn was pulling her closer, rocking her back and forth gently. 

"Sweetheart," she asked. "Why didn't you tell Mommy that you needed to go to the bathroom?" 

Ali pointed towards her toys, the brush still stuck in Fluttershy's mane. 

"W-Was playin'! Wanted ta give F-Flutter braids!" 

Ashlyn cooed softly, cradling Ali against her chest. 

"Oh, baby. It's okay, it's okay. Don't cry, I've gotcha." 

"B-But... But I..."

She couldn't even finish her sentence. Saying it outloud, admitting to her shame, would surely make Mommy leave her, or at least be really, really angry. 

"It's okay," said Ashlyn, standing up from the couch with Ali still cradled in her arms. "No harm done, pumpkin. Let's get you out of that wet pull-up, okay?"

Ali leaned her head against Ashlyn's shoulder as her Mommy carried her towards their room. She couldn't believe what was happening. If she had heard right, Mommy had said that she was going to change her out of her wet pull-up, like Ali wasn't the grossest baby ever! Mommy didn't seem to be about to leave her...

"'M s-sorry-yy, Mommy," she cried, and Ashlyn paused to kiss her head. 

"It's okay, baby girl. Mommy promises that it's all okay. You went to the bathroom in your pull-up, it's not a disaster. That's why Mommy's here, to take care of you."

Ali sobbed in relief as Ashlyn laid her down on a yoga mat spread across their floor, which would now double as a changing table. She went to their on-suite and returned with a new pull-up, as well as a packet of wipes leftover from the last time they had watched Cassius and Roux at their house. Kneeling down beside Ali, she gave her baby girl a kiss on the forehead.

"Do you want a stuffie to hold while Mommy changes you?"

Ali nodded, reaching out her arms and accepting Logan Junior from Mommy. She rubbed the puppy against her face, hiding her blush as she lifted her hips, allowing Ashlyn to slide her leggings down. A tiny bit had gotten through, and so Ashlyn tossed the garment into the hamper. Then, she looked down at her little princess.

While she was tempted to just yank the pull-up down and replace it as soon as possible, just so it would be quick for a clearly embarrassed Ali, she decided better of it. She didn't want her little one to think that she was eager to get this over with, that it was just an obligation when, in reality, anything and everything that she could do for Ali was something that she was willing to and loved doing. Including changing her pull-up. 

"Mommy loves you so much, sweet girl," she said, undoing the tabs and pulling the wet pull-up out from underneath Ali's hips like a diaper. She set it aside to put in the garbage, then used one of the baby wipes to clean any remnants of the accident off of her little one's crotch. 

"You're doing so good, angel," she said, Ali's face still buried in her puppy's soft fur. The little one wriggled at the cold of the wipe, then stilled as Ashlyn offered her a hand. 

"Mommy," she whispered. 

Ashlyn slid a new pull up onto her. Technically, that was a part that Ali could do herself, and did typically do herself. But Ashlyn was going to do it for her, make sure that her sweet little girl knew how incredibly loved she was, and how willing Mommy was to do this for her.

"There we go, baby," she said. "All done. We're all done with that. Do you wanna pick out a new pair of leggings?"

Ali didn't answer the question, instead rising up from the yoga mat and wrapping her arms around Ashlyn, who pulled her to her chest. The remnants of her tears were drying on her face, and Ashlyn wiped one away from the tip of her nose. 

"T'anks Mommy," she whispered. "'M sorry 'm gross baby."

"No, no," cooed Ashlyn, kissing Ali on both cheeks. "If my baby girl needs to go potty in her pull-up sometimes, it's okay. It's really, really okay. Mommy doesn't mind, I promise. You're not a gross baby, not at all. You're my sweet, tiny little girl and I love you so much. Okay?" 

Ali nodded, nuzzling her face into Ashlyn's neck. 

"I 'ove you too, Mommy," she muttered.

Chapter Text

Julie had just enough in her to pick up her cellphone, plug in the password, and go straight to her speed dial. Her legs were swinging nervously, and she was tapping at the floor with the hand that wasn't holding the phone. 

She pressed #1, and the phone started ringing right away. It only took her husband a few rings to pick up.

"Hey, Jules," he said. "What's up?"

"Daddy," she whispered, barely able to stop her voice from shivering, 'cause she didn't want to be little all by herself. But Daddy would know what to do! He always did!

Immediately, Zach's tone changed. 

"Hi, baby," he said. "Are you little right now?"

Julie nodded, then remembered that Daddy couldn't see through the phone, and so she repeated the gesture aloud. 

"Daddy come home?"

"Oh, honey," he said, sounding a tiny bit heartbroken. "Daddy can't come home right now, remember? Believe me, Daddy would like nothing more to come right home to his sweet little Jules, but I'm playing ball right now." 

Julie's lower lip started to tremble, because she didn't like being little without Daddy. 'Cause Daddy was just so snuggly, and he could lift her like she didn't weigh a thing, and he always put her drawings up on the fridge... 

He didn't appreciate tantrums, though, so Julie did her best to suck in her complaints, and only sniffled quietly. 

"B-But... Want Daddy." 

"Aw, Jules," he said. "I know. And I wish I could be there with you right now. But, since I can't, do you want me to call Auntie Becky?"

Julie considered. Auntie Becky wasn't Daddy, but she was really really nice, and almost as cuddly. Plus, she made really yummy chocolate milk (Daddy could never get the mix right!), and she could lift her up almost as well as Daddy could... 

Yes, that sounded good. Besides, she really didn't want to be alone.

"Okay, Daddy," she said, and she heard Zach's relieved sigh on the other side of the phone. Julie didn't throw tantrums often, but when she did, they were epic. 

"Alright, princess," he said. "I'll call her, and she'll be there really soon! Okay?" 

"'Kay, Daddy," she said. "Love 'ou!"

"I love you too, baby girl! Have a fun time with Auntie Becky!" 

Julie hung up the phone and sat on the floor, swinging her legs back and forth and wrapping a strand of her hair around her fingers until the doorbell rang. Normally, Julie wasn't allowed to answer the door when she was little, but there was no one else here to answer it! 

Still, she peeked through the curtains to make sure that it was Auntie Becky at the door before she opened it. 

"Hey, Jules!" 

Becky put her bag down just inside the door- it was a duffel, just in case she ended up having to stay the night- and Julie jumped up into her arms. Becky had to bend her knees to catch her, but she did easily, kissing her cheeks in greeting.

"Hi, Auntie Becky! T'anks for comin' over!" 

Becky put her down and took her hand, leading her towards the den. 

"Of course, darling! You know I'd never miss a chance to hang out with my sweet little Jules!"

Julie smiled happily, grin widening as Auntie Becky swung her up onto her lap.

"So," said the older woman. "Do you want to change out of those jeans and into some sweet little girl clothes?" 

Julie nodded. Jeans were really very tight, and she didn't even know why she was wearing them when she hadn't planned to leave the house today! She clutched onto Becky's hand as the older woman led her up the stairs. 

Becky babysat Julie often enough that she knew where everything was, from Julie's coloring books and crayons to the pull-ups that she only needed at night. She pulled open the bottom drawer of Julie's dresser to reveal her collection of little clothes. Julie dug through them and picked out a blue shirt the same color of the wrap she wore during games, and a pair of flower print leggings. 

It had surprised Julie, the first time Becky had changed her out of her big girl clothes, how not-shy she had felt. She hadn't thought she would be okay with anybody except Daddy helping her into a new outfit, but she guessed that she was a bit too small for it to matter. 

Becky pulled her hair out of its messy ponytail, then grabbed the hairbrush and brushed Julie's mane down, nimble fingers twirling it into two braids on either side of her head. 

"There we go," she said. "You're so cute, Jules!" 

Julie giggled, taking Becky's hand and skipping back down the stairs to the kitchen. 

"Do you want something to eat?"

The younger woman nodded, hopping up onto one of the kitchen stools and swinging her legs back and forth. She had grabbed her stuffed elephant before she and Becky had come downstairs, and she set her on the stool beside her. Becky was rummaging in the fridge and, when she emerged, she was armed with a carton of raspberries and a Greek yogurt.

Julie accepted the offered food, dropping her raspberries one by one into her Greek yogurt, stirring them carefully in with her spoon before taking the first bite. Becky smiled adoringly as she watched Julie eat- many littles would scarf their food down without a second thought (in fact, whenever Becky babysat Kelley, she had to watch her carefully to make sure she didn't choke on her food), but Julie took her time to savor every bite, smacking her lips around each raspberry. 

"Does your Daddy still keep chocolate milk powder around here?"

Julie nodded excitedly, pointing towards the cupboard. Becky pulled out the container, and the carton of almond milk in the fridge. She had seen Zach try to make Julie chocolate milk before, and had been beyond confused when the man thought that water was an acceptable substitute for when they were out of milk. 

No wonder Jules liked hers much better. Because she knew how to read instructions, and put in the proper amount of powder with the proper beverage. 

The little girl grabbed the drink out of Becky's hands with a quick "thanks!" and finished her snack.

She offered Becky a raspberry, putting it on her finger like a little hat and holding her hand out to the older woman, who laughed before leaning forward and accepting the food. 

"Thanks, honey!" 

The rest of the day passed just as calmly, the two playing several rounds of CandyLand and Becky foregoing the ease of pizza delivery in favor of cooking up a pot of pasta with pesto. Julie had wanted to help, and so the older woman made sure that she washed her hands before letting her spread butter across the pieces of a pre-sliced baguette. They watched Tangled while eating, and Becky ended up carrying a sleepy Julie upstairs when the movie ended. 

After the little one was changed into her pajamas and pull-up, Becky dialed Zach and handed the phone to Julie.

"Did you have a fun day, baby girl?"

Julie nodded.

"Mmmhmm. Auntie Becky makes yummy food, 'n she's real good at CandyLand."

Zach smiled softly on the other end of the phone at the image in his head of his little one, being cared for. He wished that he could be there with her all the time, but in those cases where football took him somewhere else, he was glad that she had Becky to fall back on. 

After saying good night to Daddy, Julie handed the phone back to Becky. The older woman made sure that she was tucked in nice and snuggly, elephant wrapped in her arms, before flicking off the light.

"I'll be right downstairs if you need me, okay? Goodnight, sweetie." 

Julie barely managed to murmur "G'night, Auntie Beck,'" before she was fast asleep. 


Chapter Text

They had talked about it. They had talked about it a lot. They had cried, but eventually Nikki had looked Sam in the eyes, and told her that she needed to do what was best for her, without worrying about Nikki.

But now, Nikki couldn't stop thinking about what was going to happen to them. They weren't breaking up, but, really, how long could they last?

How long could she last, without her Mommy? 

But she was dealing with it. Definitely, definitely dealing with it. 

"Oh, darling," cooed Sam, scooping her sobbing girlfriend up from the couch. "Oh, baby girl."

Nikki wrapped her arms around Sam's neck and sobbed into her shoulder. One of her hands gripped at Sam's hair, pulling on it gently. 

"M-M-Mommmyyy," she wailed. "Don' go!" 

Sam couldn't say anything to comfort her, not really. So, she just kissed her all over her hair, trying not to cry herself. Because, God, if not for the conversation she had had with Big Nikki, she would be cancelling her flights right now, calling Chicago and asking them if she could return. 

"Baby girl," she cooed. "Baby, I'm here."

Sam sat down on the couch, holding Nikki close to her on her lap and rocking her gently. 

All she could really do was hold Nikki while she cried, whispering soft words, reassuring her baby that, for now at least, she was still here. 

Nikki just sobbed, burying her face in her Mommy's shirt, soaking it through with her tears. It felt so good to be held, so good and perfect to be held in Mommy's arms, to have her petting her and rocking her. Sam was staying calm, or as calm as she could, only letting a few tears escape. She had to be here for Nikki right now- she could cry later. If her little bug saw her crying right now, it would break them both. 

It could have been minutes or hours of just the two of them, sitting together on the couch, Sam rocking Nikki, before the older woman's tears tapered off into sniffles and hiccups. 

"Hey, baby girl," said Sam, once Nikki appeared to be done crying. "Mommy's right here."

"Mommy," whispered Nikki. "D'you love me?"

That question truly, truly tested Sam's ability not to cry. 

"Of course," she choked. "I love you so much, Nikki. More than anything in the whole world. I need you to do something for Mommy, princess. Do you think you can do it?"

Nikki nodded eagerly- she would so anything for Mommy! 

Sam took a deep breath, awed by the trust her little one still seemed to have in her, and made her request.

"Princess," she said, still fighting back the tears. "I want us to forget about everything except for this moment, right here. I want to just focus on right here, right now. You're my beautiful baby girl, and Mommy loves you, and it's just you and me. Okay?"

Nikki nodded. She was pretty sure she could do that. Especially if Mommy thought she could. It was going to be icky when she pulled herself up from littlespace, but for now, she would do her best to push it out of her mind and just let Mommy take such good care of her.

"That's my girl," praised Sam. "Now, how does getting you into the bath sound?"

Nikki nodded, wrapping her arms around the back of Sam's neck and letting the younger woman carry her to their bathroom. Nikki sat on the closed toilet seat, swinging her legs back and forth idly as she watched Sam fill the tub with warm water. She tossed in a bath bomb as well, and Nikki giggled softly as she watched the tub fill with pink bubbles. 

Sam stuck her elbow into the water, making sure that it wasn't too hot. Satisfied, Sam gestured for Nikki to raise her arms up above her head. 

The American could feel herself sinking further down into littlespace as her Mommy got her undressed, then held her hand and helped her into the bath. Nikki sighed happily as the warm water embraced her body. She let out a tiny giggle, gathering some water in her hands and watching it drain through the spaces in her fingers.

Sam smiled adoringly at her- God, Nikki was so cute. To distract herself from how much it made her want to cry in guilt at leaving this precious girl, Sam lathered some shampoo in her hands and rubbed it in Nikki's hair. 

"Tilt your head back for me, baby girl," she said, turning the tap back on to fill a cup with warm water and using it to wash the shampoo out of Nikki's hair. 

The process was repeated several times, until all of the suds were gone. 

"There we go, princess," said Sam, squeezing Nikki's slippery hand. She let the American soak in the bath until the water started to get chilly, and her baby looked up at her with wide eyes.

"Okay," said Sam. "You ready?"

Nikki nodded, gripping harder onto Sam's hand and allowing herself to be helped out of the tub. Sam wrapped a fluffy towel around her, and another around her hair, then lifted her up into her arms, walking with her to the bedroom and depositing her on the bed. She changed into her own pajamas first, giving Nikki time to dry off, and then dug out her little one's favorite pair of footies. 

She had bought them almost as a joke the last time she had gone home, and hadn't expected her little one to love them so much. They were adorned with designs of kangaroos and koalas, and had somehow managed to stay fluffy even after the times Nikki had worn them. 

Her little one was normally big enough not to need pull-ups, but all the emotion of tonight seemed to have made Nikki smaller than usual, and so Sam rifled through the drawer until she unearthed the rarely-used box. Kissing Nikki's forehead, she unwrapped the towels and got her changed into the pull-up and pajamas.

"There we go, baby," she said, doing up the last button. "Do you want a bedtime snack?"

Nikki nodded eagerly, and Sam went as quickly as she could to the kitchen to fetch her a cookie and a sippy cup full of milk. Racing back, she almost dropped the former, but managed to hang on. 

Her little one clapped eagerly, accepting the treats from her Mommy. She alternated between taking little sips of milk and little bites of the cookie as Sam slid into bed beside her and pulled the covers over them. 

"Mommy want cookie?"

The Australian looked over and saw Nikki holding out the last bite of her cookie with wide eyes. She wanted to sob- what had she ever done to deserve someone so precious? 

Sam took the piece of the cookie from her baby and broke it in half, making sure to give the bigger half back to Nikki, who gave her a small smile and popped it into her mouth, washing it down with the last of her milk. 

Nikki fell asleep long before Sam did, arms wrapped around the striker's midsection, with the younger woman stroking her hair, soft from the bath. 

Once she was sure that Nikki was fast asleep, hopefully dreaming of happy things, Sam cried as if her heart was breaking.

Because it was. 

Chapter Text

Carli didn't know why she should be panicking. She had scored a brace against Sweden, after all. She had proven herself to Vlatko, bringing her closer to that coveted spot on the Olympic roster. But still, her chest was tight, and she was having trouble taking a full breath, and not just because of the cold. 

Everyone had expected a hat trick from her. She had expected a hat trick from her, and she would have had it if she could have just put away a simple PK. 

So, there she sat, with her head in her hands on the locker room bench, angry at herself not just because she wished she had gotten the damn hat trick, but because she knew she shouldn't even be angry at herself. 

Her teammates were congratulating each other for surviving Sweden's late onslaught, taking Vlatko's criticism and praise. She had done the same, and was now thankfully out of his view. The last thing she needed was for the new coach to see her break down like some rookie. Everyone few minutes, someone would come over and pat her on the back, just adding to the confusing emotions in her head, which were making her lip tremble. She could feel herself regressing, adult brain being replaced by her twitchy, nervous, little one.

God, she wished that Hope was here. She wanted her Momm- wife- to tell her that it was okay, to reassure her. Barring that, she wished that Kelley had been able to stay for the game, even if it was just in the stands. Although the younger woman wasn't as comforting as Mommy, she was still someone that Carli could fall back on to care for her when she wasn't at her... biggest. She would have been here by now, Hope would have told her to keep an eye on Carli, and Kelley would have noticed the telltale signs that the midfielder was regressing.

She was breathing heavily, rocking her head in her hands, trying to convince herself that a brace was good enough, when a hand came to rest on her shoulder. 

"Carli," said Heather. "Come on, hon." 

Carli let the younger woman pull her up off the bench, walking her into a side room and wrapping her in a hug. Carli melted into the contact, her former teammate running a hand through her hair. HAO's hand was cold, from sitting out in the freezing temperatures, but it was still soothing. It wasn't Mommy's hand, or even Auntie Kelley's, but it was something, and Carli gave a tiny whimper.

"Car," said Heather. "Are you little right now?"

Carli nodded. HAO pulled out of the embrace, dropping down to sit on the floor and pulling Carli with her. The midfielder obeyed the gesture, crossing her legs and bringing her fist up to rub furiously at her eyes, keeping away frustrated tears. She felt so small all of a sudden, especially sitting in front of Heather. Despite the fact that the woman was three years younger than her, something about her made her seem so much older. Maybe it was the retirement... 

"Honey," said Heather. "Can you tell me what's wrong?"

Carli shook her head quickly, pulling her knees to her chest and rocking back and forth as the panic rose even higher in her chest.

"Hey," said the other, running her hands up and down Carli's arms, gently but firmly stopping her from rocking. "Little one, I need you to breathe for me. Can you do that?"

Carli didn't know. Breathing sounded hard, and so she chewed on her lip as she tried to obey. She tried to rock back and forth again, but Heather's hands on her arms stopped her.

"Okay," sighed the younger woman. "Sweetheart, if you need to cry, then you can, okay? You're allowed to feel exactly how you feel. I can leave, or I can hold you, but I need you to know that whatever you're feeling right now is okay.

All Carli needed was permission, and then her confused and frustrated tears came pouring out of her eyes. She fell forward into Heather's arms, and the younger woman caught her, rocking her. It wasn't the panicked rocking that she had stopped Carli from doing earlier, but instead a gentle, calm motion. Somewhere, deep in her little brain, Carli had the presence of mind to be so glad that Heather was at this game. Someone who hadn't been in the game, who had a relatively objective point of view. Someone who had known her for a long time, and who would be able to comfort her with years of accumulated knowledge about the older woman. 

"There we are," said HAO, stroking Carli's hair. "Atta girl. Let it out."

Her hands were warmer now, and they felt so good. Still not as good as Mommy's, but maybe just as good as Auntie Kelley's. 

Carli let her tears out onto the shoulder of Heather's jacket as the younger woman patiently held her, cooing comforting words into her ear. Heather gently undid Carli's bun, giving her hands full access to her long hair. She stroked it, wrapping it around her fingers into tiny curls before letting them fall again. 

"It's okay, sweetheart," cooed Heather. "I'm here, however you feel is okay." 

It was a few minutes before the older woman's tears tapered off, leaving a significant wet spot on HAO's jacket. She just rested in her arms for another minute, enjoying the feeling of being comforted  by someone, even if she was still confused and sad and a little bit mad. Heather wasn't telling her that she had played perfectly, she was just letting her feel how she felt. 

"T'anks, Heat'r," she whispered. "'M sorry." 

HAO kept playing with her hair.

"You don't need to be sorry, little one. You're allowed to feel however you feel, remember?"

Carli snuggled closer, until she was fully on Heather's lap. 

"Carli," said the younger woman. "Are you okay to have a little talk with me?" 

Carli nodded apprehensively, and Heather took her chin in her hand gently, stroking her cheek. 

"Don't worry, sweetie," she said, noticing the reaction the baby had to the question. "You don't need to be scared, okay? You don't need to worry." 

Carli nodded again, lower lip jutting out. She was still nervous, but she trusted Heather. The younger woman kept Carli's chin in her hand, making sure the little girl was meeting her eyes. 

"Carli," she said. "Can you tell me what you're feeling right now? It's okay if you can't."

Crying had helped Carli get a little bit of a better grip on her brain. She was still little, but the panic had faded into a dull ache of worry, rather than a wave of fear. 

"I... I t'ink 'm j-jus'... f-f-frus..."

"I know," cooed Heather. "That's a big word. Thank you for telling me, honey. I understand why you're frustrated, but I want you to know a few things, okay? I'm going to tell you all of this again when you're big, but I want you to hear it now as well." 

Carli nodded, and HAO rubbed her back gently, letting go of her chin to allow her to curl her head against her shoulder. 

"First of all, you're an amazing player. One of the best I ever played with. You just keep getting better and better, and scoring a brace is so, so amazing. But, honey, you can't get everything perfect, and you're hurting yourself trying. You don't need to be perfect, okay? Can you say that for me?"

Carli sniffled, but she thought she could at least... try? 

"I... I d-d-don' need ta b-b-be..."

"Come on, sweetie. You can do it."


HAO rocked her gently.

"Such a good girl," she cooed. "I'm so proud of you." 

Carli gave a tiny little smile- it felt good to have someone say that they were proud of her. Only Mommy said that, usually. 

"Missing a penalty kick isn't the end of the world, Carli. And it made me so sad to see you be so upset with yourself. You can't let yourself get to yourself. Does that sound okay, little one?"

Carli nodded shyly, and Heather kissed her forehead. 

"That's enough adult stuff, honey. We don't need to think about that anymore. Do you want to stay with me tonight, sweetheart?"

Carli's eyes widened. Because she did, she didn't want to have to be big again, not yet. She just wanted to be put to bed like the tiny girl she was- she needed someone there, since she didn't have her puppy, or her pull-ups, or her paci, or her Mommy. 

In short, she definitely wasn't big enough to be alone. 

And so, she wrapped her arms around Heather's neck and nodded happily. 

"T'ank you, Auntie H-Heat'r."

Heather smiled at the title, kissing Carli on the forehead again, already happily anticipating baby snuggles. 

Chapter Text

"Can you tell me what's on your mind, bunny?"

Mal shrugged, chewing on her lip. She was upset with herself, because she had wanted so badly to score, to make a perfect first impression on the new coach. But instead, she had been on the field when Sweden had almost come back, and she was sure that Mommy and Mama must be disappointed in her. But, she was still teetering on the edge between big and little, and Big Mal sometimes had a little bit of trouble saying what she was feeling.

"Nothin'," she said. 

Christen was sitting in the seat next to her, and she was unconvinced. 

"Are you sure, princess?"

Mal shrugged, and from the seat behind her, Tobin rubbed the top of her head. Mama's hands felt really nice in Mal's hair, but she still wasn't quite... 

Christen took her hand. 

"Tell Mommy what's wrong, bunny."

And there it was. 

It was amazing how suddenly Mal could go from twenty one years old to a tiny baby. Tobin left her own seat and pulled Mal into her lap. Immediately, the little girl burrowed into Tobin's chest. Christen squeezed Mal's hand.

"Sweetie," she said. "You know you can tell Mommy and Mama anything, right?" 

Mal sniffled into Tobin's shirt. 'Cause this was one thing that baby Mal knew that big Mal had trouble with sometimes: she could tell Mommy and Mama absolutely anything, any time. With words when she wasn't quite a baby yet- like right now- or with little noises and tears when she was too small to do too much talking.

"I... did'n' score, M-Mama."

"Oh," cooed Tobin, kissing Mal's hair. "Is that what you're worried about, angel? You don't need to worry about that. Mama didn't score either, and neither did a whole bunch of other people!"

Mal knew that, but... but, she had really, really wanted to! She had wanted to show Coach that she was really good! 

"Baby girl," added Christen. "You don't need to score every game. Do you understand?"

Mal nodded into Mama's chest. If Mommy said something, it was probably definitely true, because Mommy would never ever lie to her. But there was still something that was bothering her a little bit. 

"Mommy," she whispered. "Do you 'n Mama think that Coach like me?"

Tobin and Christen locked eyes, sighing with adoration for their sweet, sensitive little baby girl, getting smaller and smaller by the moment. 

"Of course," Tobin assured her. "Bunny, he put you in his very first game for a reason, because he's excited to see you play!"

Christen nodded in agreement. 

"Mama's right, love. Everybody loves you a whole bunch! Almost as much as we love our sweet, tiny girl."

Mal gave them a tiny smile, and Christen's heart filled with relief. Her little bug had looked so sad in the postgame huddle, and getting a smile out of her was a bigger achievement than scoring her 50th international goal earlier. 

The bus pulled in, and Christen grabbed their bags while Tobin scooped Mal up into her arms, carrying her up to their room. Before the little girl knew it, she was all snuggly in a long-sleeved onesie, panties replaced by a diaper, stuffed whale in her arms while Mommy heated up a bottle for her. 

"Do you want to watch a movie, bug?"

Mal nodded at Tobin's question, and Mama pulled Netflix up on the TV. She flicked through options, until Mal settled on one of the Land Before Time movies. A later one- they had tried to watch the first one with Mal, but then Littlefoot's mother had died, and the baby had burst into tears, refusing to let go of Tobin and Christen for the rest of the night. As the movie started, Tobin transferred Mal to Christen's lap, allowing the older striker to pop the bottle past her lips. 

Mal drank it slowly, taking a few sips at a time, allowing her eyes to drift shut in a state of bliss, before opening them back up again to watch the movie. Then, she repeated the process until the bottle had been emptied, and her tired eyelids were fluttering as her head rested in the crook of Mommy's elbow. Mama rubbed her sore ankles as the movie faded to background noise, Mommy cooing down at her while Mal reached up a hand to grab onto a tendril of the older woman's hair. Her other hand went to her mouth, but Mama grabbed her wrist gently.

"I'll get you your paci instead, little one." 

Mal nodded automatically, lost in the haze of relaxation, and let Tobin replace her thumb with her bright pink pacifier. She could barely remember why she had been upset earlier, so enveloped was she in the wonderful, simple, blissful little baby feelings. She didn't need to worry about a thing- Mommy and Mama would take care of everything she needed. She didn't need to be a young striker trying to earn a spot on the Olympic roster by performing for a new coach.

She could just be Mommy and Mama's little baby bunny, all safe and snuggly and warm.


Chapter Text

This was definitely a good idea. 

Emily was tucked in the corner of Kelley and Alex's closet, waiting for the other defender to return to her room. When Kelley walked in, she would definitely still have her headphones on, and that would give Emily time to slide the door open and jump out, hopefully frightening the older woman out of her wits. She would have her phone on, capturing Kelley's reaction, and everyone would love it! 

The only problem: she had no idea when Kelley was going to be back. And therefore, by default, no idea how long she would be waiting in the dark closet. 

Something in the corner of the closet caught her eye, and she squeaked, before realizing that it was just the ironing board. 

"Okay," she whispered to herself. "Calm down, Emily. She'll be back soon." 

She played on her phone for a few minutes, alone in the dark except for the few articles of clothing that the older women had decided to store in the closet. Then, the ironing board in the corner made her jump again, because it looked just like a monster! 

Emily whimpered, but only pressed herself further into the side of the closet away from the monster, not ready to abandon her mission yet. Momm- Kelley- would be so surprised! 

Fifteen minutes later, the complimentary hangers caught her eye. Except, they weren't hangers! They were spiders, huge spiders, and they were going to eat her! 

That was enough for her. Emily reached for the door, but her little mind was too panicked to properly open it, and she was stuck. 

"Go 'way," she whimpered, tears springing to her eyes. "Don' eat me! Mommy!"

She hoped that Kelley would appear, like a superhero, despite the fact that there was no way the older woman would be able to hear her. But she didn't, and Emily sank back to the floor, kicking at the door in hopes of freeing herself. It didn't open, and so she buried her head in her hands, all thoughts of a prank forgotten as she sobbed in fear. 

She was so busy crying that she didn't hear the door of the hotel room opening. She didn't realize that she was no longer alone in the room until the closet door slid open, letting in the light and revealing Alex Morgan. The striker was holding her shoe like a weapon, ready to hit the intruder in her closet, but dropped it when she looked down at the floor and saw Emily, whimpering and sobbing. 

"Em," she said, sinking down onto her knees and pulling the younger woman out of the closet. "What's wrong? Why are you in the closet?" 

Emily buried her face in Alex's chest. 

"S-Scaaaaareeed," she moaned. "M-Monster gonna g-get me! Wan' Mommy!" 

Alex turned around to someone in the entry behind her, realizing with the first word that Emily was little. 

"Allie," she said, to a midfielder who was looking down at Emily with wide eyes, knowing what was going on but not knowing what she could do to help. "Go find Kelley."

The blonde nodded, dashing back down the hallway to search for the defender. 

"No, honey," cooed Alex. "There aren't any monsters! Why were you in the closet?"

Emily vaguely remembered, but she definitely wasn't in enough control of her voice to properly answer the question. So, she just let Alex pet her hair, shutting the closet door with her other hand so that the imaginary monsters would have no way to get at Emily. 

"Sweetie," she cooed. "Allie's going to get your Mommy. She's just downstairs getting some food, she'll be here in just a minute. We're not going to let anything get you, okay?"

Emily did feel a bit safer with Auntie Alex there, because she could be scary when she wanted to! She could probably scare away the big monster spiders! But she still really wanted Mommy, because Mommy would beat the big monster in the corner over the head if she had to. After all, that was what she had almost done when a reporter got a little too aggressive with her little Emily. 

Two pairs of footsteps sounded down the hallway, and then Emily was being pulled out of Alex's arms and into Mommy's. 

Kelley scooped her baby up into her arms and carried her over to her bed, sitting down with the little one on her lap. She rocked her back and forth, hands picking up where Alex's left off in her hair. In the back of her mind, Emily heard Alex and Mommy talking, but it didn't really matter what they were saying, because she was further away from the monster closet, and Mommy was holding her and protecting her while she sobbed. 

"Baby girl," cooed Kelley. "It's okay. It's okay, Mommy's here. Mommy's here, sugarplum. You're okay." 

Emily was still shaking a little bit as her tears began to taper off. She pointed towards the closet.

"B-But... monster!"

"I know," said Kelley, gently taking Emily's pointing hand into her own. "But there weren't any monsters, Em. Not at all. And even if there had been, let me tell you something about monsters."

Emily sniffled, rubbing her cheek against Kelley's shirt. It made sense that Mommy would know all about monsters- Mommy knew everything! 

"There's this thing about closet monsters," continued Kelley. "They disappear when mommies come into the room. Because closet monsters don't like love, and so they went poof! when Mommy came into the room, because Mommy loves you so much!" 

This got a smile from Emily, who snuggled closer into Kelley's chest. The older woman played gently with her baby's hair, twisting it into little curls and then letting them go. 

"'ove you too, Mommy," whispered Emily, and Kelley kissed her forehead. 

"I just have one question, baby," said the older defender. "Why were you in Mommy and Auntie Alex's closet?" 

Now that she had stopped sobbing in fear, Emily remembered why she had been in the bad monster closet in the first place. She blushed softly.

"W-Want'd ta scare Mommy," she whispered, burying her face in Kelley's chest. "Was g-gonna be f-funny."

Kelley couldn't hold back a laugh, because goodness, that was just so Emily. It was just like her baby girl to hide in a closet for an extended period of time just to scare her, and while Kelley felt terrible that her baby had gotten scared and little while she was in there, she couldn't help but find it a little hilarious. 

"Oh, sugarplum," she laughed. "I'm sure it would have been really funny. Because you're my funny little baby, and Mommy will never ever let anything get you, okay?"

Emily nodded, reaching up to kiss Mommy on the cheek. 

"T'ank you, Mommy. C'n I wear my comfy clothes?"

Kelley nodded, sliding Emily off her lap so that she could pull out everything Emily would need for a cozy little night, free of all closet monsters. 


Chapter Text

It was all over. A great ending to a great year, albeit an exhausting year. 

Tobin had been, it seemed to Christen, so eager to get off the field, just pass off the captain's armband to JJ and collapse bonelessly into her seat. Sure, she probably could have kept going. But, to the striker, her wife just seemed exhausted. 

Tobin collapsed into the chair beside Christen, leaning against her wife, laying her head on her shoulder. The striker ran a hand through Tobin's silky ponytail, twirling it around her fingers absently. When she tried to pull her hand away, just to rub at an itch, Tobin whimpered quietly. 

"Don' stop," she pleaded, and so Christen used her non-dominant hand to satisfy the itch, returning her other one to Tobin's hair. Her wife sighed happily, eyes drifting shut. 

"Feels good, Mommy," she whispered, moving from leaning against Christen's side and slumping down. She ended up with her legs curled up on her own seat, but her head in Christen's lap as the slightly younger woman pulled her ponytail gently out, smiling down at her baby girl and continuing to play with her hair. She massaged her sweaty scalp, scratching her head lightly. The physical contact was so soothing to Tobin, lulling her even further down into littlespace. 

Tobin might have fallen asleep briefly because, before she knew it, the game was over and Mommy was steering her gently back to the bus, keeping her away from the media as best as she could. Tobin managed a few autographs and photos, smiling at her fans but never letting go of Christen's hand. 

By the time they got back to the bus, Christen was supporting at least half of Tobin's weight as her baby girl dragged her feet up the stairs. Foregoing her own seat, Tobin crawled right into Christen's lap and leaned her head against her shoulder. Christen reached down and unlaced her shoes.

"Are you very tired, my sweet little pumpkin?"

Tobin nodded into Christen's neck, dozing off again as the bus returned them to their hotel. When it arrived, Christen hesitated to wake Tobin- her baby girl looked so peaceful and cozy, asleep in her lap. But, she still shook her gently. 

"Sweetheart," she whispered. "We're back. Time to get you upstairs for bed, okay?" 

Tobin whimpered softly, but scooted off of Christen's lap, taking her Mommy's hand as the striker used her other arm to carry both of their bags. She was basically sleepwalking by the time Christen let go of her hand to open the door, dropping their bags and then scooping her baby girl up into her arms. She took a few steps into the room, then laid Tobin gently on the bed.

"Hey, pumpkin," she said, brushing a lock of hair out of her princess's face. "My exhausted little girl. It's been a pretty big year, hasn't it?"

Tobin gave her a minuscule nod, and Christen smiled adoringly down at her. She took her baby girl's hands in her own and raised her arms above her head- Tobin seemed almost too tired to do it herself- to strip her out of her shirt and sports bra. They were replaced by a tee shirt, and her leggings by a pull-up and sweatpants. A pair of fuzzy socks completed the cozy factor, and Christen had Tobin sit up against the pillows as she brushed her teeth for her. 

The little girl was so tired that she could barely hold her own head up, and so Christen pulled her into her lap, supporting her against her chest as she moved the toothbrush carefully. The sink was too far away for such an exhausted little girl, and so Christen reached for a tissue and had her spit the excess toothpaste into it. 

She got herself ready for bed as quickly as she could, eager to snuggle up next to her tiny little girl, maybe get some good cuddle time in before they both fell asleep. She slid underneath the covers beside Tobin, already almost comatose with exhaustion.

She pulled her baby girl into her arms, and was rewarded with a weak nuzzle into her shoulder. It was such a babyish motion, Christen felt her heart filling impossibly further with love for her sweet Tobin. 

"Mommy," sighed Tobin, and the striker could hear her little one's pull-up crinkle softly as she inched closer. 

"I'm here, love," she cooed. "Go to sleep, pumpkin." 

She kissed her hair, petting her back and holding her against her chest as Tobin fell asleep.

Once Tobin had passed out, snuffling gently in her sleep, Christen realized just how exhausted she was. Her little one had been so tired, and she had needed to take care of Tobin first, before she could even start thinking about her own needs or feelings. But now, with her baby girl slumbering peacefully in her arms, she could allow herself to sink into the bed and fall asleep. 

In the morning, she would change Tobin out of her damp pull-up and into different comfortable clothes, making sure that she was all comfy and ready for the plane ride back home. Christen would make her promise that she would tell her if she needed to go to the bathroom, as they flew back to Portland to start their break. 

Chapter Text

Seeing her baby girl cry was never easy for Kristie. Even when it came from something as simple as a stubbed toe, or a wet pull up- something that she could fix easily with some kisses, or a change- it never failed to pull at her heart, make her want to pull her darling into her arms and never let her go again. 

But when it was because of a slow, brutal decay of all her confidence, it was infinitely worse. 

Rachel had collapsed onto the field, head in her hands, and Kristie could tell that she was regressing right there on the field. She was sitting in the front row, and so it took little effort for her to tap one of the security guards on the shoulder. When she gestured towards Rachel, wrapped around herself on the field with some of her teammates trying to help her to her feet, and showed him her ID, the man nodded her down.

Kristie dashed across the field as fast as she could, falling to her knees beside Rachel. She gave nods to the rest of the dejected England squad, then wrapped her arms around her girlfriend.

"Hey, sweetie," she cooed, glaring at the cameras that still swirled around, capturing the reactions of the two teams. "Let's go. Let's get you off the field, okay?"

Rachel whimpered, burying her face into Kristie's chest.

"M-Mummy," she whimpered. Kristie draped her body over Rachel's, shielding her girlfriend from the cameras. 

"I know, baby," said Kristie, trying to pull her crying lump of a girlfriend to her feet. "But, sweetness... We've got to get you into the locker room, then Mummy can take care of you. Sound good?"

Rachel didn't answer. Kristie took a deep breath, then used all her strength to pull Rachel to her feet. Her girlfriend dragged her feet, and Kristie had to practically carry her down the tunnel, cooing what she hoped was comfort into her baby girl's ear.

Phil tried to gesture Rachel onto a bench for a post-game talk, but the little girl sobbed at the thought of being yelled at, or being told that she could have done something better. Kristie shook her head violently back and forth- she didn't give a fuck if Phil wanted Rachel for the postgame talk. Her munchkin was in absolutely no state for it. 

"Leave it," said Ellen, when the manager seemed to be about to protest. "I'll catch her up. Just let her go."

It was probably because it was Ellen, the goal scorer, backing her up that Kristie was able to guide Rachel into a cab, giving the man directions to her hotel. She slid up the partition, and then she was able to finally focus on her sweet girl.

"Shh," she cooed, pulling Rachel's head against her shoulder. "Mummy's here, honey. We're almost back, and Mummy has all your little things back at the hotel."

Rachel's crying was a type that Kristie rarely heard. It was panicked, gasping. 

"Shh," Kristie repeated. "We're almost there, love."

The cabbie pulled up, and Kristie tossed a fifty at him, not bothering to wait for change. It was too small of a space for her to carry Rachel, and she instead had to pull her little one out by the hand, wrapping her arms around Rachel's waist and walking her baby inside.

She unlocked the door and collapsed with her baby onto the queen bed. 

Rachel's cries hadn't quieted, and she was breathing sharply in between sobs. She was kicking her legs slightly, and Kristie would be lying if she said that she wasn't terrified. But, she had to control her own emotions, for the sake of her little girl.

"B-Baby," she said, then took a deep breath. "Baby girl, I need you to focus on Mummy's voice, okay?" 

Rachel gave no outward sign that she had absorbed Kristie's words, but Kristie continued anyway. It wasn't the time for the big message- how talented she was, even if she didn't win- but she needed to get her little one off the precipice. 

"You are safe, and you are loved, and you are okay. You are safe, and you are loved, and you are okay. You are safe, and you are loved, and you are okay."

She didn't know how many times she repeated the phrase. But finally, finally, the words seemed to be getting through to Rachel. She was still sobbing, but the sharp, terrified gasps had faded.

"Good girl," cooed Kristie. "That's my girl."

She rubbed Rachel's back until the tears finally faded into sniffles. Rachel snuggled closer against Kristie's chest, letting her Mummy rock her back and forth gently. The panic was over, and both Kristie and Rachel could breathe again. It was time for her to make sure her sweet girl knew how amazing she was.

"Little one," she said. "I know that you're upset right now. I know you might be feeling scared, and sad. Winning games is nice. I know it is, and I know that your team hasn't been winning a lot. But, do you want to know something?"

Rachel nodded shyly- just a tiny movement against her shoulder. 

"Winning isn't the most important thing in the world, my love. It might feel like it, but you are so much more than just a player. You're a very good player, munchkin, but you're also the sweetest, most beautiful, most loving little princess in the whole world. Do you understand?"

Rachel sniffled, wrapping her arms around Kristie's neck. 

"I-I-I... Mummy! L-Love M-M-Mummyyyyy bunches!"

"Mummy loves you too, baby girl." 

They sat together for a few more minutes, until Rachel started to wriggle around on Kristie's lap. The older girl laughed gently- she knew exactly what that meant.

"Let's get you into a pull-up, okay?"

Rachel nodded in agreement. She was so relieved, to be able to sink down as far as she needed into little space, and just forget about every scary thing that had happened, forget about losing. She needed to be taken care of by Mummy, and she was so lucky to have someone like Kristie to be with her. 

Chapter Text

"Are y-you sure?" 

Mal was biting nervously at her right thumbnail as she watched Emily. The older little had uncapped all of the markers that they were using to color, and was sitting by the white painted wall. Their Mommies had left them alone in the den for a few minutes while they made snacks, and the pad that they had been drawing on had run out of paper before Emily and Mal could draw their trees. So, of course, the only logical conclusion for Emily was to pick a corner of the wall to complete their masterpiece.


The older little seemed so sure of herself, so confident that it would all be okay. Their Mommies wouldn't even notice! 

"C'mon, Mal! 'S fun!" 

Mal thought about it- or, tried to think about it. Thinking was hard when she was just a baby, especially when someone older said that it was gonna be okay, that they weren't gonna get in any trouble. Still, there was a nagging voice in her the back of her head, telling her that Mommy and Mama wouldn't be very happy with her if she went with Emily on this one.

But Emily looked like she was having fun, drawing with markers on Mommy and Mama's nice wall. And Mal wanted to have fun, too! Especially with Emmy, because she was so cool, and she knew so much more than tiny baby Mal! 

"O... Ok-kay." 

Emily grinned and tossed her a marker, and Mal plopped down next to her, diaper crinkling as she hit the ground. Her coordination wasn't quite good enough to catch it, but she picked it up from the floor and joined her friend in drawing. She was halfway through sketching a nice big tree when a startled gasp came from behind her.

"Mallory Diane, what are you doing?" 

Mal gasped, dropping the marker. It landed on its head, leaving a bright green spot on the floor. Mommy was holding a bowl of goldfish crackers, clearly meant for her baby girl's consumption, and her mouth was open wide as she stared at her in shock. 

Tobin and Lindsey followed Christen into the room, speeding up when they heard the striker's gasp. 


Lindsey set her own bowl of goldfish on the arm of the couch and ran forwards, snatching the markers out of Emily's startled hands. The three Mommies stared down at their little girls. Emily's expression wasn't quite guilty, but there was a certain amount of chagrin there. But, her expression melted further and further into one of nervousness and worry as Lindsey stared her down. 

Mal, on the other hand, already had a trembling lower lip. 'Cause Mommy and Mama didn't look very happy with her. Mommy's arms were crossed across her chest, and she was staring down at Mal with a disappointed expression. Mama was rubbing her temple, and crouched down in front of her and Emily's mini masterpiece.

She picked up a still uncapped marker and sniffed it, then ran it across the tip of her finger.

"Good news, Chris," she said. "Doesn't look like it's permanent."

Emily confirmed the statement with a small nod as she was being pulled to her feet by Lindsey and moved to the couch.

"Emily," she said. "What on earth were you doing?"

Emily shrugged, and Lindsey pinched the bridge of her nose. Picking her little up, she carried her into another room to deal with her separately from Mal. The youngest baby could hear her saying "you're in big trouble, young lady." 

Then, it was just Mal and her Mommies. And she was in just as much trouble. 

"For God's sake," said Christen, still staring at the mess on their wall. "Why did you draw on the wall, Mallory?" 

Mommy's disappointed tone and the use of her full name, as well as pained squeaks from Emily as Lindsey gave her a spanking, was what made her burst into tears. 

"I-I-I-I... Emmy said would b-be fine!" 

Tobin scooped her up into her arms, holding her on her lap while she cried. 

"I should have known," she said to Christen, shaking her head, almost amused. "Shh, baby." 

She bounced Mal gently until she stopped crying. Lindsey was keeping Emily in the other room, holding and comforting her after her spanking, waiting until Christen and Tobin had dealt with their own little girl before returning to the room. 

"Mallory," said Christen, tone softening but still using her baby girl's first name. "I think you know better than that, don't you? You're my smart little cookie, and you know better than to draw on walls." 

Mal nodded, wiping her eyes on Tobin's shirt. 

"'M s-s-sorry-yyy, Mommy!" 

Christen sat down on the couch beside her and Tobin, taking Mal's hand in hers. 

"I know, love. This is a good lesson for you, though, okay? Just because Emily's older than you doesn't mean that all of her ideas are good. If that little voice inside tells you not to do something, I want you to listen to it. Do you understand?"

Mal nodded quickly, snuggling further into Tobin. Her Mama petted her, and she felt herself getting even tinier. 


"That's my girl," said Christen. "But, you're still not getting any dessert tonight, and you're going to help Mommy and Mama clean that wall before we watch any movies or read any books."

Mal nodded again. 'Cause, even though she didn't want to clean up the wall, she wanted Mommy and Mama to not be mad with her anymore. Christen knew that that was enough- a lecture was more than enough for Mal when she was this little. She was such a sensitive little girl...

Sensing that Tobin and Christen were done lecturing their baby, Lindsey led Emily back into the room. The little girl was looking at the ground, shuffling her feet nervously and squeezing Lindsey's hand. 

"Emily," said Lindsey. "What do you want to say to Auntie Tobin and Auntie Christen?" 

"'M sorry," whispered Emily, flushing in shame. "Shouldn'ta drew on your wall." 

Christen hopped up from the couch and gave Emily a quick hug, patting the little girl on the head.

"We forgive you, honey. Just, next time, ask us if you want more paper, okay?"

Emily nodded quickly, and after Christen and Tobin waved off Lindsey's offer to help clean the wall, she and Lindsey said their goodbyes. Mal and her Mommies spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the mess, Tobin and Christen praising her for a job well done and a lesson well learned. 

Chapter Text

Rachel couldn't help but be a little... worried about her girlfriend. Kristie had held herself together until they were back in their hotel room, but now she was pacing back and forth, scuffing her feet along the carpet and picking at the hair tie around her wrist. 

"Honey," said Rachel, reaching out her hand and catching Kristie's elbow on her next pass past the bed. "Sit down with me." 

Kristie shook her head, tearing her elbow out of Rachel's grip and continuing her walk. She kicked the wall with her bare feet, then squealed in pain as her toes connected with the wall. She collapsed to the floor, pulling her foot into her hand. Rachel knew that the worst it could be was a stubbed toe, and that was why she was so surprised when Kristie burst into tears. 

She hopped up from the bed and sank down to the floor next to her girlfriend. 

"Kris," she said, pulling the American into her arms. "What's wrong?" 

Kristie sniffled, leaning her head against Rachel's shoulder. 

"I... I... I dunno!"

Rachel startled at Kristie's tone. Her girlfriend's voice sounded smaller than usual. It almost reminded her of... of Sam's voice, when they babysat her. If she was ever present enough in her own mind when she was little, she would have recognized that it also sounded like her own. But no, that wasn't possible. Kristie had never been little before- she was the one who took care of little girls, she wasn't little herself! 

But Kristie was still holding her foot, and her sniffles were turning into sobs. She was definitely too upset for this to be normal. 

"Kristie," she said, taking her girlfriend's hand in her own. "Honey, do you think... are you little?" 

The American sobbed, shaking her head back and forth, but curling further into her girlfriend's chest. 

"Noooooo," she cried. "C-Can' be little! Don' g-get- not!" 

The mumbling, the almost incoherent words, were enough for Rachel to realize that this was definitely not a fluke. Kristie was little, and she had no idea what to do about it. 

"Okay," she said, rocking Kristie back and forth and hoping for her girlfriend to calm down while she thought about what she could do. What did Kristie do, when she was little? 

"Sweetheart," she cooed. "What... What can I do to help you right now?" 

Kristie sobbed, letting go of her foot and using that hand to wrap herself around Rachel. The Englishwoman kept rocking her, wondering vaguely if she should get up and move them to the bed. 

"D-Dunnooooo," Kristie moaned. "W-Wanna g-go hoooooommmmmee!" 

Rachel prayed that her girlfriend wouldn't start kicking as she picked her up. Rather the opposite happened, in fact. Kristie went practically limp against Rachel's shoulder, letting the Englishwoman carry her over to the bed and pull the covers over them. 

"I know," Rachel cooed. "I know, sweetie. You just want to be back home in our apartment. But don't worry, we're going home tomorrow. We'll be home so soon."

Kristie tried to nod into Rachel's chest, but it turned into a nuzzle instead, soaking her girlfriend's shirt with her tears. Rachel stroked her hair, still unsure what to do except for try her best to comfort her. 

"Sweetie," she asked again. "Do you think you might be a little girl right now?"

Kristie didn't nod, but nor did she deny it this time. Rachel continued.

"Honey," she reassured her. "You know it's okay if you are, right? You always tell me that it's okay to be small, and I just want to make sure you know that it's just as okay for you to be little if you need to."

Kristie whimpered, sobs slowing down. 

"B-But," she sniffled. "I sup-p-p-posed ta be the big one! 'M 'posed ta t-take care'a you!"  

And there it was, the reason why Kristie was fighting this. Rachel rubbed her back, holding her close to try and comfort her. 

"Oh, Kristie," she said. "You take such good care of me all the time. I'm so grateful that you're my Mummy. But, I need you to know that I'm here for you as well- I can take care of you if you need me to. And I think you might need me to right now. So, what do you say, little one? Will you let me take care of you like you take care of me?" 

Kristie thought about it for a minute, and then she nodded into Rachel's chest. Rachel sighed in relief, kissing Kristie on the forehead and reassuring her that she would be right back as she slid out from under the covers. She ran across the room to their smallest suitcase, the one that held her own little things, that they brought everywhere just in case they needed it. 

She handed Kristie one of her own stuffed animals to snuggle while she ran to the bathroom to wash off one of her pacifiers. The little girl accepted the stuffed toy eagerly, rubbing it across her face and holding it tightly. Rachel was back within seconds, popping the pacifier into Kristie's mouth before pulling her back into her arms. 

"There we go," she cooed. She had worried that seeing Kristie snuggling her own stuffies and sucking on a pacifier might make her little, but thankfully her buried maternal instincts had kicked in- she needed to stay big, to make sure that her sweet girlfriend had someone to take care of her.

"Is that nice, baby?" 

She smiled when Kristie nodded, rubbing gently at her eyes. Rachel knew exactly how cozy and small she felt when she was in littlespace, and she was glad that Kristie was getting some of the same warmth from it. The day had certainly been taxing, and so Rachel was unsurprised when she felt Kristie beginning to drift off to sleep in her arms, like she herself had done so many times. The older woman just had time to whisper "T'ank you, Mama," before the gentle suckling on the pacifier and the warmth of Rachel's arms lulled her to sleep. 

"I've got you, baby girl," whispered the Englishwoman, hoping that her sweet Kristie heard it before sleep claimed her entirely.

Rachel stayed awake for a little longer, just thinking. She had often wondered why Kristie bothered to take care of her while she was little, but now she knew. There was nothing like this feeling, nothing like having the love of her life trust her like this, trust her to take care of her and love her with everything. 

If Kristie ever needed to be little again, Rachel was so ready for her, so ready to discover all the things that made her baby girl unique, so ready to find out what a happy baby Kristie would look like. So ready to try her hand at being Mama. 

Chapter Text

"Breathe," she whispered to herself. "J-Just breathe." 

Calming herself down before it got bad was the only way to get herself out of this. And taking deep breaths was the only way to do that. So, she tried to suck in air through her nose, but was interrupted by the tears springing to her eyes. 

Emily was alone in the hotel room- Kelley was her roommate, but the older woman had gone down the hallway to watch a movie with Alex. Lindsey and Mal were out, and Sam and Rose were having a Harry Potter marathon, if Emily wasn't mistaken. 

"B-Breathe," she tried to tell herself. "'S okay." 

But it really wasn't okay. Because Emily's chest was tight, and there was a black hole in the pit of her stomach, and she wanted to be with someone else, not all by herself in a hotel room. Then again, maybe being with somebody else wasn't the best idea right now, because if anyone else walked in, there was no way they'd want to be her friend anymore. 

She tried to stop herself from bringing her thumb up to her mouth, but the urge was too strong. 'Cause she was just a tiny girl, and she needed to suck on her thumb. 

Giving up on preventing her descent into littlespace, Emily dragged the covers over herself. If she was going to be small, she was going to sleep it off, and hopefully wake up normal. 

The covers were heavy, and she wished that she had someone to tuck her into bed, to give her a kiss and tell her that she'd be there when she woke up. But, she told her little self, as she had so many times before, she wasn't even anybody's best friend. Why would anybody want her to be their baby girl? 

The stuffed animal she kept under her bed in her apartment in Portland was still there, and so she snuggled the extra pillow as she tried to get to sleep. It was a poor substitute, really. Mister Rex was the cuddliest T-Rex ever, all fluffy with his sewn on eyes and a tail that was so nice to chew on, 'cause she was too scared to order a pacifier from online. But most of all, he loved her so much, and she knew because she asked him every night when she was feeling scared and lonely. Which was most nights when she was little, if she were being honest. 

He was the bestest stuffie ever, but he wasn't here. And, even if he were, he couldn't take the place of what she was sure a Mommy would be like. Her eyes watered just thinking about it, 'cause she wanted to be loved by a real life person, not just a fluffy stuffed dinosaur. 

And then she was really crying, head buried in the pillow as she sucked on her thumb. God, she wanted it so bad. Wanted to be kissed and hugged, snuggled and fed. Wanted to be tucked into bed and held while she fell asleep, with Mommy stroking her hair.

The face she pictured when she thought about Mommy changed all the time, but was usually Kelley or Lindsey, sometimes even Sam or Alex. She could see any one of their faces, eyes crinkled in a smile, staring down at her with love. And she would be so good, she told herself. If, by some miracle, any of them ever wanted to be her Mommy, didn't go running away in horror at how gross she was, she would be so good. She would be the best baby ever, even if she wanted to misbehave. She would never cry like she was now, she would always eat her food, she wouldn't beg for attention when Mommy was busy... She would be someone's perfect, precious angel, if they were even willing to kiss her goodnight. 

Emily wailed, kicking her legs. She rocked back and forth, and if she weren't in littlespace, she would recognize that she was throwing a tantrum. And she also would have heard the hotel room door opening. 


Kelley's voice, though. That, she did hear. 

She gasped, a new wave of tears springing to her eyes. She threw herself off the bed, blanket and all, and huddled against the wall. 'Cause this couldn't be happenin', nope! Kelley wasn't here, this was just a bad nightmare. She squeezed her eyes shut as Kelley approached her, hand extended cautiously. 

"Em? Why... Why are you crying?" 

Emily just kept sobbing, rocking herself, wailing in embarrassment and fear and loneliness. 

Kelley squatted down in front of her, brushing a lock of hair out of her eyes. If Emily had been able to see through her tears, she would have realized that Kelley's eyes contained no judgement, even though she had definitely seen Emily sucking her thumb. Only concern. 

Emily couldn't answer Kelley's question, and when the older defender pulled her gently into her arms, the younger went practically limp, slumping against Kelley's shoulder and letting herself be held. She was still so humiliated, and just waiting for Kelley to tell her that their friendship was over, but that didn't mean she was going to reject the comfort that she had been needing for so long. 

Kelley let the younger woman cry herself out, stroking her messy hair gently. When Emily's sobs had faded to sniffles, she used her other hand to rub her back, encouraging her to take deep breaths, chase the last of the tears away. 

"What's wrong, Emily?"

Emily knew she was beet red, and that she should be bolting for the bathroom to hide. But Kelley's arms just felt too good to leave- no one had ever held her while she was little, and the older woman's touch made her long even more for a Mommy to hold her forever. 

"N-Nothin'," she managed, voice shaking.

"I don't believe that," replied Kelley. "Not even a little bit, Emily Ann Sonnett. What's wrong, why were you crying?" 

It was so tempting, to just open her mouth and tell Kelley everything. Maybe something miraculous was happening, maybe she would come out of this with someone to love her forever and tuck her in and give her snuggles and-

"I-I-I c-caaaan'ttt," she wailed. "G-Gon' hate meeee!" 

"No," said Kelley. "No, no! I could never hate you, Emily. Never in a million years. Whatever it is, you can tell me. I promise that I won't judge you, no matter what it is." 

That was it for Emily. She had been trying to hold it in, ever since Kelley wrapped her up all warm and safe in her arms. Even though she couldn't shake the nagging fear that Kelley was gonna hate her forever once she opened her big fat mouth, she really wanted Kelley to be happy with her. And telling her what she wanted to know- maybe that would make her happy enough to stay at least for a few minutes, before leaving her alone again to go finish her movie. 

"'M j-just... Jus' a baby," she whispered. "An' I n-n-need Mommy."

Kelley startled, but quickly composed herself when she saw Emily's lip trembling. She thought she might know what was going on, and if it was what she thought it was, then there was probably one specific person she needed to find, and fast.

"Okay, love," she said, going with her instincts and rocking the self-proclaimed baby back and forth, unaware at the weight that fell off of Emily's shoulders when Kelley called her 'love,' and didn't call her icky or gross or bad. "Who's Mommy?"

"D-Don' gotta Mommy," cried Emily. "N-Nobody l-love me! Just my stuffie, 'n he's not heeeerrrrreeee!" 

Kelley's heart clenched, and she wanted to just hold Emily forever. 

"Oh, sweets," she said. "No, that's not true. There's so many people who love you."

Emily shook her head again, disbelieving. Kelley might not be leaving her all alone, but that wasn't because she loved her! That just wasn't possible.

"Yes," said Kelley, grabbing onto Emily's chin and forcing her to stop shaking her head. "Everyone loves you, sunshine. A-And, if you need somebody to take care of you, I'd be... I'd be glad to help."

The sentence stopped Emily in her tracks. There was no way that this was real- Kelley hadn't just offered to take care of her! Had she? 


Kelley smiled at the hesitant word. She hadn't expected the warmth it would fill her with, to hear Emily Sonnett, who had just been sobbing about how no one loved her, whisper the title of the person that she needed to badly, directed at her.

"That's right, sunshine," she cooed, lifting Emily and putting her back up on the bed, then lying beside her. The little girl snuggled into her chest when she opened her arms, melting into the love. 

"Mommy's here." 

Chapter Text

Ashlyn hadn't been expecting to regress today. She didn't normally regress during camps- she tried to save it for when she was at home, all alone with Ali and Logan. Neither of them would ever judge her for being just a tiny little girl sometimes.

But, really, it wasn't a big deal, that she was little right now. Practice was over, and the team was getting ready to get back on the bus to their hotel. Plus, everyone always switched rooms when they needed to, and so whoever was rooming with Mommy would definitely switch with her, and she could be all cozy tonight! And most of her teammates knew about her little side anyway, and they wouldn't ever judge her. So, it was totally fine!

Mommy had told her to wait for her on the bench in the middle of the locker room, and so she was swinging her legs and humming to herself, waiting while Ali got changed out of her practice clothes and into sweatpants. Her teammates were smiling at her as they moved through the locker room, and occasionally ruffling her hair affectionately. Her thumb drifted up to her mouth, and she twirled her other hand in her hair. Really, everything was perfect. 

Except for one little thing. One person. 

"What the fuck is wrong with you?"

The voice came from behind her, and Ashlyn gasped lightly. She thought she might have been imagining it, because nobody on the team would say that to her! None of them thought that anything was wrong with her! They all loved her a whole bunch, that's what they all told her whenever they saw her little! 


Hinkle was staring down at her with an expression that Ashlyn could only describe as disgusted. Her lips were curled, nose scrunched up as if she had smelled something foul. The defender was glaring at her, brow furrowed. It was clear that she knew exactly what was going on, and that Ashlyn was nothing more than the filthy turf on the bottom of her boots. 

Normally, Ashlyn would never be afraid of Hinkle. Not even a little bit- Hinkle should be afraid of her. The woman wasn't even worth her time, when she was big. But when she was little, Hinkle was a big person, who hated her and wanted her to be sad. 

Her eyes widened, and her lower lip started trembling involuntarily. But, she had to stand up for herself, had to make Mommy proud of her. Had to make Big Ash proud of her. 

"N-Nothin'," she whimpered, voice sounding weak even to herself. "Nothin' wrong wif me." 

Hinkle gave a short, disbelieving laugh.

"Oh, honey," she said, voice saccharine and poisonous. "You don't really think that, do you?" 

Ashlyn tried to stay strong, and gave a weak nod, trying to convince both herself and the big person glaring at her. Because Mommy always told her that there was nothing wrong with being little, that Ash was her sweet little monkey, and Mommy couldn't be lying to her!

But... But Hinkle was looking down at her with such venom and imagined superiority that she couldn't possibly remember that. 

She tried to keep the tears out of her eyes- she didn't want to give the defender the satisfaction. 


And that was too much.

Ashlyn started to cry, humiliated and terrified tears pouring from her eyes. If she had been looking up, she would have seen a satisfied look in the defender's eyes. She collapsed in on herself, rubbing her eyes and whimpering.

Then, another voice came from nearby.

"Hey! What the actual fuck?" 

Ashlyn was almost surprised when it was Abby who strode forward, placing herself between the keeper and her fellow defender. Gentle hands came to wipe Ashlyn's tears- she didn't even know whose. 

"Leave her alone!" 

Hinkle scoffed, giving Abby a brief glare before returning her attention to Ashlyn. Her mouth was opening to say something else, but she never got a chance.

"What's going on?"

Ashlyn, still trying to control her tears, gasped in happiness. Because that was Mommy's voice! Mommy made everything better! 

"M-Mommy," she whimpered, reaching out her arms for Ali, who had realized by now that something was very wrong. Ali pushed past the teammates who had started comforting her baby girl and wrapped Ashlyn up into her arms, immediately pressing kisses all over her hair.

"Oh, sweetie," she cooed, pulling Ashlyn's head to her chest. "What happened? What happened, angel? Don't cry, Mommy's here, it's okay." 

Ashlyn tried to calm her breathing, tears still dripping from her eyes onto her Mommy's clean shirt. She managed to raise her hand, and point past Abby to where Hinkle stood, still glaring at her. Ali's face immediately changed from a calming expression to one of pure rage, as she realized what must have happened. 

"Mommy will be right back, baby girl," said Ali, kissing Ashlyn on the head and standing up, clenching her fists. Ashlyn whimpered miserably as Mommy's warmth went away, but Megan immediately took her place, holding Ashlyn tightly while Ali squared off with the woman who had made her little one cry. Ashlyn kind of wanted to listen, but she didn't fight against Auntie Megan when she held her hands gently over her ears. 

None of what was coming was something that baby Ash should hear. 

"What the fuck did you do to my baby?"

"She's not your baby. She's... I don't even have the words for how disgusting she is."

The team was looking back and forth between Hinkle and Ali, wondering how the older defender was going to react. No one expected what happened.

Ali lunged forward, fists clenched to the point where her knuckles were right, throwing herself at Hinkle in complete fury. The startled younger woman jumped backwards, just barely avoiding Ali's fists. 


Before Ali could swing again, Abby managed to wrap an arm around her waist. She was quickly joined by Alyssa, and then AD when it became clear that Ali was not going to be restrained by just two people. 

"Fucking bitch," screamed Ali. "Just you fucking say that again!" 

Ashlyn couldn't really hear Mommy's yelling, because Auntie Megan was rocking her back and forth gently, holding her hands over her ears while Becky wiped the tears from under her eyes. But, she knew that Mommy wasn't going to let the mean lady get away with it.

"You psycho!"

Hinkle was glaring back at Ali, who was still fighting against Abby, Alyssa and AD to get at her. 

"I'll get you fucking fired for this," she said. "You crazy bitch."

A scoff came from the gathered crowd, and Kelley stepped forward. 

"Are you serious? It'll be all of us against you, and everyone knows how you feel about Ali and Ash. No one would possibly believe you over all of us." 

Hinkle had nothing to say to that- she turned red, sputtered, and then was gone. 

Cautiously, the three women holding Ali released her, and she ran straight back to Ashlyn's side, taking Megan's place. Ashlyn curled right back into her Mommy's arms, inhaling her familiar scent, wiping the rest of her tears off on Mommy's shirt. 

"Hey, baby," cooed Ali. Her tone had gone from one of fury to one of pure love, anger not quite abated, but calmed by having her little girl in her arms. "How are you feeling?"

Ashlyn whimpered. Even though watching Mommy go after Hinkle had made her feel a little bit better, the woman's comments were still implanted in her brain. She wasn't disgusting... was she? No one had ever told her that before, but... but, maybe they were all too nice to tell her what they really thought. 

When Ashlyn didn't immediately answer, Ali hummed, gesturing the rest of their team away. 

"Did she say some mean things to you, princess?"

Ashlyn nodded, cuddling closer into Ali's lap. 

"T-Tol' me 'm... Said a b-big word, 'n... B-Bom'nation, I think?" 

She didn't see the way Ali's eyes hardened, but she did feel how Mommy pulled her closer. 

"Oh, oh," she cooed. "That's not true, baby girl. You're not an abomination, Ashlyn. Never, never. You're my sweet little girl, and you are so, so loved. She's just a mean person, and we don't listen to mean people, do we?"

Ashlyn shook her head. Mommy was right- Mommy was always right! But, there was one more thing bothering her. 

"I... 'M sorry, Mommy. Didn't... S-Sorry, let her..."

She didn't need to say anything more for Ali to understand. 

"Hey, princess," she said. "You don't need to be strong all the time. That's why Mommy and all your Aunties are here. When you're Mommy's little girl, Mommy can defend you. Okay, pumpkin?"

Ashlyn nodded.

"Mmkay, Mommy."

"Are you ready to go back to the hotel room, sweetheart? We can get you all cozy in a pull-up, and Mommy brought your stuffie and paci, and some sippy cups! Does that sound good?"

Ashlyn nodded again, already relaxing at the idea of a nice little night. She didn't need to be scared of anyone, because Mommy would protect her. 

Chapter Text

Hey, y'all! As the title would suggest, this is not a chapter. Just letting you guys know that I made a tumblr (literally 10 minutes ago, so there's nothing on it yet lol), so if you want to go interact with me over there, feel free!!!! Send me requests! 


I'll use it to update y'all on this fic, and my others (and by that, I mean explain myself when I don't post), and maybe post little extras, like aesthetics and inspirational playlists



Chapter Text

These were stressful times for the women's national team. With the change in coaching staff, and especially the recent departure of Dawn, it was a nice bright spot when Vlatko introduced them to the newest- and certainly cutest- member of his staff.

The poor golden retriever seemed almost overwhelmed at the sudden onslaught of twenty plus women, squealing in happiness as she was led in. But, being a dog, Bailey had been generous with her kisses, and each member of the team had been overjoyed at the sight of their new emotional support dog.

However, no one- not even Christen- was as excited as Rose Lavelle- little Rose Lavelle, to be specific. She had squealed louder than anyone, pushing her way past her teammates to the front of the group and wrapping her arms around Bailey's neck. None of the rest of the girls had seemed to mind, especially when they heard Rose's elated gasps of "puppy! Mama, look! Puppy!"

When Bailey was led away from the women to eat her dinner, and get a break from the over-stimulation that came from more than twenty grown women all throwing themselves at her, Rose's lip had started to tremble, and Sam had swept her up in her arms, kissed her hair, and reassured her that it was all okay, that she'd see the puppy again tomorrow, and so many days after that!

All Rose had been able to talk about that night during dinner was Bailey. Bailey this, and Bailey that, and how excited she was about Bailey. The other women had just smiled and gently encouraged her excitement, but Sam had needed to pick her up and put her to bed early when she burst into tears at Ashlyn's joking suggestion that Wilma might get jealous. 

"It's okay, sugarplum. You don't need to cry," said Sam as she kissed the little one on the forehead, pulling the covers up over Rose's body. "You can love more than one puppy at the same time. Wilma understands. She loves you, and she's okay with it if you need to pet other puppies sometimes." 

Rose snuggled her stuffed bulldog, affectionately dubbed Wilma Two, against her chest. 

"You sure, Mama?" 

Sam laughed lightly, flicking off the light next to Rose's bed and brushing her hair back. Her little one was just too adorable. 

"I'm sure, darling."

Rose fell asleep with visions of puppies dancing and licking and panting and jumping through her head, happily anticipating all the fun she was going to be able to have with her new puppy friend. She couldn't wait! 

The next morning, Rose was teetering somewhere on the edge of littlespace during the entire practice. She was big enough to follow Vlatko's instructions, but Sam could see the signs that her best friend was close to dropping down and becoming Baby Rose- from the way her eyes widened softly whenever the ball came near her, and the way she needed Sam's help to open her water bottle during a break. But, most of all, Sam could tell that Rose was almost little by the way that Rose kept looking longingly over at the sidelines, thumb hovering near her mouth, to where Bailey was playing fetch with one of the medical staff. 

"Puppy," she mouthed, pointing towards the golden retriever. "Puppy cute."

"I know, bug," said Sam, grabbing onto Rose's arm and turning her back towards the training exercises. "Bailey's super cute, but we're practicing right now. You can play with the puppy later." 

Sam hated to have to ask her little one to focus on practice, a big girl thing, especially when Rose pouted adorably. But, the little girl didn't put up a fuss, and Sam saw no more signs of distraction for the rest of the first part of practice. When Vlatko blew the whistle for a break, and the team streamed back into the locker room, Sam lost sight of her little one.

She tossed her head back and forth, ponytail swinging, searching for Rose. There was no sign of the little girl in the locker room, and her bag sat abandoned. 

Sam asked at least half the team before someone had even a vague idea where Rose was. Pinoe pointed out of the tunnel, and Sam dashed back down to look for her sugarplum. Really, she knew that nothing would be wrong with Rose- there were so many people all around, and there was no way that her little girl had wandered off anywhere where she could get hurt. But Sam, being Sam, always forgot that little Rose would be okay, even if she didn't have eyes on her all the time. 

"Rosie, baby?" 

Sam called out for her little one as she dashed down the tunnel, emerging back out into the light of the field. 

"Baby girl?"

She looked around, and her eyes caught on a sight that made her heart melt. She should have known...

Rose's eyes were shut, and her mouth was open, tongue sticking out just a tiny bit. So, she was napping. But, as adorable as the sight of Rose napping was, there was something that made it even more adorable. 

Bailey was curled up next to Rose, the little girl's arm cast over the puppy. The human's head was resting beside the dog's, and Rose was using her other hand to grip onto her fur. Bailey was wide awake, but not moving whatsoever. Occasionally, her tongue would flick out and she would give Rose a tiny kiss. Sam met the dog's eyes, shoulders relaxing at the sight of her baby all snuggled up with a puppy, safe and clearly in absolute bliss. 

She wasn't playing with the puppy, but Sam knew that this was absolutely just as good.

Sam grabbed her phone out of her pocket, snapping a quick picture of sweet baby Rose, cuddling a puppy. Then, she sat down on the bench, smiling at the scene until practice resumed. 

Chapter Text

Carli clenched her fists, taking another deep breath and counting to ten in her head, which was starting to hurt a bit from the God-awful noise that was coming from the next room. Normally, Hope was a very sweet little girl, very clingy and liable to tell Carli how much she loved her several times in the same sentence. She didn't throw tantrums often, but when she did, they were absolutely epic. 

"Sweetheart," she said, clenching her teeth as she returned from her quick break. "I know you're upset, but it's time for bed." 

"No, " screamed Hope. "Don' wanna!

When she looked down at her little one, it was like something out of a cartoon. Hope was lying on the ground, kicking her legs, rolling around, beating the floor with her fists and wailing miserably. Carli just wanted to pick her up, carry her off to bed, but you only made that mistake with flailing limbs once. 

"I know," said Carli. "But it's bedtime, and it would be so nice if you could listen to Mommy. Mommy's tired, and you're tired, and we are going to bed." 


Carli sighed to herself, rubbing the bridge of her nose and trying her best to keep her cool. She sank down onto the floor, resolved to sit beside Hope until her tantrum faded, and she could get her to bed. She wanted to reach out and stroke her baby girl's hair, but she knew that it was best to just let these things play out and comfort Hope afterwards.

Hope spent at least five more minutes thrashing around on the floor, screeching and crying before she started to tire herself. Her face was beet red, and her hair was sticking to her damp cheeks. Overall, she was the very picture of misery, and Carli just wanted to rock her back and forth and never let her go again.

"It's okay, love," said Carli, taking advantage of the quieting to get her words in. "You're okay."

Hope wailed one more time, sniffing, and then her tantrum was over. Now, Carli reached out and ran a gentle hand through Hope's hair. Her little girl had gone limp, and Carli pulled her gently into her arms, rocking her gently. 

"Hey, baby girl," she cooed. "Do you feel a bit better now?"

Hope nodded, nuzzling into Carli's chest, face buried in her soft shirt.  

"S'eepy, Mommy."

Carli smiled to herself- this was what always happened after Hope's tantrums. It was lucky for her that it was before bedtime this time, rather than in the middle of the day.  

"Okay, baby girl. You want to come to bed with Mommy?" 

Hope nodded again, giving a big yawn, and Carli helped her to her feet. The baby leaned against her shoulder, dragging her feet behind her, exhausted from her tantrum. Carli stripped her out of her day clothes and slid an old tee shirt over her head, and then came battle number two.

"Can you lie down on the bed for me, love?"

Hope shirked backwards, shaking her head back and forth. She knew what was in Carli's hands along with her pajama pants. And she was absolutely not going to have it! She might be small, but she definitely wasn't that small, no matter what Mommy said? 

It didn't matter that Mommy was always right- little Hope was absolutely right this time.

"No pull-up," she whined, still shaking her head. Carli took another deep breath, bracing herself for another argument, hopefully not as bad as the last one. 

"Honey," she said, trying to preempt another tantrum. "I don't want to have this argument. You're Mommy's tiny baby girl, and you need to wear a pull-up for bedtime."

Hope shook her head again, whimpering. No matter how adorable Hope was, Carli wasn't going to back down. Her sweet baby needed to wear pull-ups at night: they had learned that lesson when Hope had wet the bed one night, and been unable to look Carli in the eyes for days in embarrassment.  

"Don' wanna," she whispered, lip trembling even though she had cried herself out. "Not t-teeny."

Carli smiled, stroking Hope's cheek. She didn't buy it for a second- Hope was a little baby girl, and all she needed was to reminded that she was loved, no matter what. 

"Baby," she said, punctuating her sentence with kisses to various parts of Hope's face. "It's okay if you are. I love you, no matter what. Mommy will take care of you, no matter how small you are. So, what do you say? Can Mommy get you into a pull-up? We can snuggle afterwards, until you fall asleep." 

Hope seemed to be struggling with herself, but her little side won the second that Carli kissed her on the forehead once again. 

She melted.

"Mmkay," she whispered, and Carli sighed in relief at being able to avoid a fight. Hope lay back, squirming in discomfort as Carli changed her out of her big girl panties and into a little girl pull-up. 

"There we go," she said, kissing Hope proudly on the cheek again. "That's Mommy's good girl." 

The praise got a smile out of Hope, who let Carli lift her up into the bed and tucked her in, sliding under the covers beside her and pulling her close. Hope snuggled into Carli's side, playing absently with a lock of the younger woman's hair and sucking on her thumb absently.

"Mommy," she whispered, popping her thumb out her mouth and taking the pacifier that Carli offered her. "D'you... 'M s-sorry 'm a b-bad girl."

Carli cooed, pulling Hope closer. They had this conversation after every one of Hope's tantrums, and it broke Carli's heart every single time- the little girl seemed constantly terrified that every tantrum she threw would be one too many for Carli, that her Mommy would walk out the door and leave her all alone and scared and tiny.

"You're not a bad girl," Carli soothed. "I promise, angel. You're not a bad girl, not at all. Mommy loves you, no matter how many tantrums you have. You could have a tantrum every night, and I would still be here. You're loved, Hope. You're so loved, and I will tell you every day, as many times as you need. Do you understand me?" 

Hope wished that she could cry, because she wanted to- this time with relief. She had never felt as loved as she did when she was held against Carli's chest, in a pull-up (even if she really kind of hated them, because Mommy was right and she needed them), just letting herself be a little girl. 

"Love you too, Mommy," she whispered. 

Carli kissed her forehead, and she let herself drift off to sleep. 

Chapter Text

Emily jerked awake. It took her a minute to realize why she was so warm- there was another body pressed against hers. She was being held. 

At first, she wasn't quite sure that she was awake, because this was almost certainly a dream. She had never woken up in someone's arms before, not when she had-

Not when she had gone to sleep little. 

Her heart stopped, and she immediately felt tears pooling in her eyes. God, what was wrong with her? She had been little in front of Kelley, she had told her that she was just a baby! What Kelley must think of her now!

No, no, no.

Emily didn't realize she was squirming, trying to get out of the bed, until a hand stroked her hair. 

"Hey, Em," said Kelley sleepily. "You okay?"

Emily shook her head violently, still trying to untangle herself from the blankets so she could go and hide in the bathroom, far away from the person she had just humiliated herself in front of. 

"Emily," said Kelley, sitting up and wrapping an arm around Emily. "Em, what's wrong?"

All Emily could do was whimper, fighting to get away from Kelley's (warm, comfy) grip. 

"Baby girl," said Kelley. "Tell Mommy what's wrong."

The tears in her eyes burst free and she went limp, sobbing. Kelley cooed sympathetically, flipping Emily around so that the little girl's face was buried in her chest. She stroked her back, making what she hoped were comforting noises. 

"It's okay, love," she soothed. "It's alright, Mommy's here. It's okay, Em."

"'M s-s-sorryyy," Emily choked. "Y-You sh-shouldn' haveta b-be here!" 

Kelley swallowed around the lump in her throat. 

"Hon," she said. "You don't need to talk yet, it's okay. Just let it out."

Emily was almost happy to hear that- she didn't think she had the words to explain how embarrassed she was, and she was glad just to be able to hide her red face in Kelley's warm chest while she tried to figure out how deep the hole she was going to dig to hide herself in forever would be. 

She had gotten to around 30 feet deep by the time she cried herself out, now even more humiliated, and praying for the bed to split in half, and for her half to fall through the ground. 

"Em, hon," said Kelley, still stroking her hair as she had been for Emily's entire bout of tears. "Do you want to tell me what's up?"

Emily didn't. But there was another part of her that really did. Kelley had been so sweet to her last night, she had called herself Mommy. 

"'M... Sh-Shouldn'ta been little. 'S 'barrassing."

Kelley made a sympathetic noise. 

"Oh, honey. Are you... Are you embarrassed that you were small? You don't need to be, Emily. You don't need to be embarrassed for needing a Mommy sometimes. It's okay, whatever you need. I'll be here, Emily. That is, if you want me?"

Kelley seemed nervous when she finished speaking, as if she thought that Emily would shake her head and send her away, that Emily wouldn't want her as a Mommy. 

Mommy's simple reassurance, that it was okay, that she didn't need to be embarrassed, was enough to satisfy Emily's little brain. 

"I d-do," she whimpered. "I w-want you to be my Mommy! Please, be my Mommy!"

Kelley smiled softly, brushing the drying tears off of Emily's cheeks.

"Okay," she said. "I will, baby girl. I'll be here."

Now, Emily wanted to cry again. This time from a whole mess of complicated emotions, all tangled together in her little brain. 

"T-Thank you," she choked. "Mommy, I... I've... I've n-needed you for t-too long!"

Kelley kissed her forehead, rocking her back and forth gently.

"Oh, baby," she whispered. "I'm so sorry I wasn't here before now. I wish I'd known, Em. I'd've been here for you, the whole time." 

"I've been" 

Now was the time, to tell Mommy everything. Tell her all the secrets that she only told her stuffie in the dead of night, when she was sobbing into his fuzz and wishing she had someone to hold her like Kelley had last night.

"I've b-been s-so lonely," she whimpered. "So sc-scared! N-Needed s'mbody! Needed Mommy ta love me!" 

Kelley seemed like she was on the verge of tears when Emily looked up at her, and the little girl put a warm hand on the older defender's cheek. 

"S-Sorry," she whispered, an edge of panic in her voice. "Did'n mean ta make Mommy sad! Don' leave!"

Kelley took Emily's hand, squeezing it tightly in reassurance. 

"Oh, honey," she said. "No, no. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just sad that my sweet little girl has been so lonely for so long. I wish... I wish I'd been here the whole time. But you never have to be lonely when you're little again, Em. Mommy's gotcha."

They went down to breakfast with Emily clutching onto Kelley's hand. She let the older defender make her a plate, full of a combination of healthy things and a sweet muffin as a treat. She helped Emily hold her fork, and surprisingly, she wasn't embarrassed when their teammates came in. Mommy would explain everything, she would protect her. 

She wasn't alone anymore. 


Chapter Text

Emily's eyes flew open the second it started.

"No," she whispered, sounding small even to herself. "No, no, no." 

She had gone to bed teetering on the edge of littlespace, but she hadn't thought she was going to regress. She knew that if Mommy had been at this camp, not still out with her concussion, she would have insisted that Emily wear a pull-up to bed. But that was hard today, given who her roommate was.

Someone had to room with Hinkle. Emily just wished that it wasn't her. 

Speaking of Hinkle, the woman seemed to be stirring- Emily's whimpers must have been louder than she thought they were. The little girl was frantically trying to pull herself out of both bed and littlespace, so that she could strip the bed of her accident before Hinkle woke up and found this out that not only was she little, but she had wet her bed. 


Hinkle's voice was sleepy, but she was definitely awake. Emily's only hope was to pretend that she was asleep, and lie in her own mess until she was pretty sure the other defender had fallen back to sleep. 

Unfortunately, luck did not seem to be on Emily's side tonight, because she heard a rustling. Hinkle was sitting up in bed, and Emily could feel her eyes on her. 

"What's that... what the fuck is that smell?" 

Emily really tried to keep her sob inside, but she just couldn't. She was so scared- she wished that Mommy was at this camp, 'cause then she would have shared Mommy's room with whoever her roommate was, and Hinkle could have been all on her own. Mommy would have made sure she wore a pull-up, and none of her Aunties would have judged her if she accidentally wet the bed. 

So, now Hinkle definitely knew that she was awake. Emily heard her sniffing, and cried quietly, 'cause it was only a matter of time until her roommate realized what had happened. 

"Are... Is that... Did you wet your fucking bed?"

Emily's sobbing told Hinkle without a doubt what the answer was. 

The little one pulled her stuffie closer, burying her face into the T-Rex's surprisingly soft fur. She tried to block out the other defender's vicious words, but she couldn't hold her ears and her stuffie at the same time! 

"You did,"  spat Hinkle, now standing up. She flicked on the lights and glared down at Emily. "You... What is wrong with you? You disgusting..."

Hinkle took a deep breath, composing herself- which was almost scarier. 

"Why am I even bothering with you?"

Emily sobbed louder- she wished that she had a genie's lamp, because she would rub it right now and then Mommy would be here to take care of her. Or Hinkle would vanish in a poof of smoke. Or maybe the earth would open up and swallow her whole. 

She didn't know where Hinkle was anymore- she knew that she was still in the room, because the door hadn't opened. But, she did know that her entire bottom half was wet and gross, and it was getting cold and she needed to get out of this. But she was getting smaller and smaller by the second, and she didn't think she could do it herself. She didn't know who was in the next room. All she knew that there would be someone who wasn't Hinkle- somebody who would at least be able to wipe her tears away, or maybe give her a hug. 

So, she tapped on the wall. Then, she knocked on the wall. Hinkle glared at her- Emily could feel it boring into the back of her skull. But she was past caring at this point, and she was finally banging on the wall, as loudly as she could, without care about who she woke. 

Hopefully, somebody would come. 

Indeed, someone did. There was a tapping on her door in only a few seconds. Hinkle gave Emily a disgusted look, refusing to go and open it. That left Emily to pull herself out of the bed, bottom half starting to itch because it was all over her, and wrinkling her nose as she cried to stop the smell permeating her nostrils. Maybe Hinkle was right- she was such a gross baby! 

When Emily pulled the door open, it was to find a rather agitated looking Lindsey Horan. But, when Emily's friend saw the state of her, all the annoyance she might have felt at being woken by the older girl's banging disappeared. With no regard for the fact that Emily didn't smell so nice, she pulled her friend into her arms and started petting her hair. 

Emily cried into Lindsey's shoulder, and Hinkle sighed in annoyance at the new interruption to her sleep. Lindsey paid her no mind, maneuvering Emily into the bathroom and guiding her to sit on the toilet lid while she went to strip the bed.

"It's okay, Em," cooed Lindsey from the main room. "Don't you worry, I've gotcha. It's all gonna be okay."

Lindsey balled up the sheets, but left them on the bed. Hinkle glared, and Lindsey glared right back, just daring the woman to say anything to her. She knew that Hinkle had a lot to do with why Emily was sobbing- if she had wet the bed in front of anybody else, there would have been no real need to be scared. 

Going to Emily's drawers, Lindsey removed a pull-up (better late than never, after all- especially for someone who was so clearly going to be in littlespace for a while) and a new pair of pajama pants. Finally, she grabbed Emily's T-Rex off of the bed and took Emily's hand. 

"Come on, sweetheart," she said. "We're going back to my room."

Emily nodded, clutching tightly to Lindsey and following her out of the room, away from the judging eyes. 

Lindsey's roommate for this camp was Crystal, and the North Carolina player gave Emily a nice smile.

"Emily," said Lindsey. "Can Crystal hold your T-Rex while we take a little bath?"

Emily thought about it for a second- she didn't usually like to let other people hold Mr. Rex, but he couldn't come in the tub with her! Besides, she trusted Crystal. So, she nodded, and Crystal tucked the stuffed toy under her arm while Lindsey led Emily to the bathroom.

"We're just gonna take a quick bath, okay?"

Emily nodded, and then finally the icky pajama bottoms were coming off, and it felt so nice! It felt even better when Lindsey pulled the rest of her clothes off and helped her into the warm water. 

Mommy had had Lindsey babysit her before, so Emily didn't resist when the younger woman gently washed her thighs and ass with soap. She would have been really shy about it once, but now it was okay, because she was safe with Auntie Lindsey.

"Good girl," cooed Lindsey. "Does that feel better, sweetheart?"

Emily nodded, nuzzling into Lindsey's arm. The midfielder let her soak for a few more moments, before offering her a hand to help her out of the tub. 

A few minutes later, Emily was all dry, pull-up fastened around her hips and stuffie back in her arms, cuddling against Lindsey, trying to forget the complete humiliation of her night.

Crystal had fallen back asleep, and Lindsey was stroking her back gently. But still, Emily was bothered. 

"Honey," said Lindsey, feeling the tension in Emily's shoulders. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Emily shrugged- she knew what Mommy would say. She would say that Em would feel so much better if she talked about her feelings, because keeping everything in was bad for her.

"Okay," she whispered, trying not to wake Crystal.

"Tell Auntie Lindsey about it, okay?" 

She nodded. 

"I w-wet the b-bed. 'N front a her." 

"I know," soothed Lindsey. "But it's okay, Emily. It's really, really, okay." 

Emily shook her head, starting to sniffle a little bit. 

"B-But... 'M icky! Shoulda wore pull-up!"

Lindsey shushed her softly. 

"Maybe you didn't make a good choice in not wearing your pull-up, but you're not icky. Did she tell you that?"

Emily nodded into Lindsey's soft pajamas, and the younger woman kissed her forehead.

"She's wrong, honey. You're not icky at all. Your Mommy loves you, and I love you. All of us love you, baby girl. She's not very nice, is she?"

Emily shook her head.

"And do we listen to mean people, honey?"

Emily shook her head again, and Lindsey petted her hair. 

"Good girl," she said. "Such a brave girl."

Chapter Text

"Fuck," moaned Christen, head tossed back in pleasure as her wife went to work between her thighs. "Fuck, Tobin! Don't stop!"

She wrapped her hand in her wife's hair, guiding Tobin's mouth as she ground into her face. The striker was trying to be quiet- they weren't alone in the house, after all. But, Mal was fast asleep in her nursery, and so she let a whine of pleasure escape her lips.

"Tobin," she cried again. "More!"

Tobin laughed into her pussy, pulling her mouth away from Christen's pussy and licking her wife's juice off her lips.

"As my queen comm- wait, did you hear that?"

Christen hadn't heard anything- her brain was buzzing. She was silent for a moment, though, listening for whatever sound that Tobin thought she heard. 

"I didn't hear any- is that... the baby monitor?"

Sure enough, another whimper came from the machine on Christen's side table. The two women stayed frozen for another minute, hoping that Mal was just snuffling in her sleep, and would soon return to being quiet. But, quite the opposite happened.

Tiny whimpers turned into obvious cries, and Christen moaned again, for a very different reason. 

"Fuck," she growled, as Tobin removed her head from between her legs. "Babe, will you go get her while I get my pajamas back on?"

Tobin needed no encouragement to hop up, making sure to wipe all traces of Christen's juices off of her lips, and race down the hallway to scoop up their sweet little princess. Meanwhile, Christen dashed to their on-suite, quickly cleaning up so she could be back in bed by the time her wife returned with the baby. 

It barely took thirty seconds before Tobin re-entered their bedroom, a whimpering baby Mal clasped in her arms. The little girl's hands were around her Mama's neck, and she was crying quietly into Tobin's neck: her tears had started to fade the second Mama had scooped her up out of her lonely crib and started carrying her to the big bedroom where Mama and Mommy slept. 

"Hey," said Christen, pulling back the covers so that Tobin could slide back underneath with Mal wrapped in her arms. "There's my baby girl."

Still snuggled against Tobin's chest, Mal reached out one of her hands for Christen. The striker scooted closer to her girls, wrapping her arms around Mal.

"Mommy," whispered Mal, tears slowing even more now that she was wrapped between her Mommies, 'cause they would protect her. As nice as it had been to be plucked out of her crib by Tobin, nothing could compare with the warmth and safety that came from being bookended by Mommy and Mama. 

"Hi, love," cooed Christen. "What's up with my sweet girl?"

Mal sniffled. Sometimes- often, in fact- when she was little, she became very nonverbal, only saying "Mommy" or "Mama" and crying for anything else, from a diaper change to a bottle. It appeared that tonight was going to be one of those nights, leaving the older women to guess at what was wrong with their little princess.

"Hmm," said Tobin as Christen kissed Mal on the cheek, smelling the sweet shampoo that they had put in her hair when they gave her a bath a few hours ago. "Will you nod if Mommy or Mama guesses right?"

Mal nodded, twirling a piece of Christen's hair around her fingers. 

"Okay," said Tobin. "Well, Mama already checked your diaper, so I know it's not that. You've got your stuffie right here, and your paci, so it can't be any of that..."

Christen, smiling adoringly at Mal as the little girl played with her hair while sucking gently on her paci, decided to hazard a guess.

"Did you get cold?"

Mal shook her head, even though it was definitely true that her crib wasn't quite as warm as being cuddled in between Mommy and Mama in their big bed. 

"Did something make a loud noise?"

Tobin had her fingers crossed that that wasn't it. The last thing she needed was to have to explain to her little girl what the noises coming from Mommy and Mama's room had been. Thankfully, Mal shook her head again. 

"Did my sweet little baby girl have an icky dream?"

Mal sniffled, nodding, and Tobin and Christen both cooed sympathetically. They hated the idea, so much, of their angel suffering at all. They couldn't stop her from having nightmares, but if either of them could have, they would in an instant. 

"Oh," sighed Christen. "Poor baby." 

Mal suckled harder on her paci as Tobin gave her a snuggle, planting kisses all over her sweet-smelling hair. 

"But," continued Christen. "You don't need to be scared, precious girl. Mommy and Mama are here. We're here always, and we're gonna protect you from anything. Nothing can hurt you with us here, okay?"

Mal seemed to be dozing off again, and Tobin carefully removed the girl from her lap, pulling the covers up over her as she snuggled into the mattress between Christen and Tobin. Her eyes drifted shut, then popped back open, innocent and scared.

Christen cooed as Tobin stroked their baby's hair. 

"Go to sleep, bunny. We're here, Mommy and Mama are right here. We'll never let anything bad happen to our princess. So, you can sleep. Sleep, my angel."

Even as Christen finished her litany of comforts, Mal's eyes were drifting shut again, and soon enough her breathing had evened out and she was snuffling softly. 

Once they were sure that their baby girl was asleep, Tobin and Christen smiled softly down at her, and then at each other over her head. 

"Sorry you didn't get to cum," whispered Tobin, leaning over to kiss Christen gently. The striker returned the kiss just as softly, shaking her head. 

"It's okay, baby. The little one is more important." 

They fell asleep on either side of their slumbering princess, hands clasped the entire time. Or, at least until Mal needed a diaper change. 

Chapter Text

It was going to be another bad night. She could tell. 

She could feel her brain slipping away from her. She had prepared for this- she always prepared for this, but it never really worked. Maybe it would this time. 

Quickly, quickly, before she got too small to do it, Emily raced around, preparing for one of her little nights. She heated up a bottle of milk- chocolate milk, because she was pretty sure she needed the chocolate- and put it on her bedside table. Next, she pulled Mr. Rex out from under her bed and set him on the pillow, pulling back her covers so that she could slide underneath them real quick. Finally, she dug through her bedside table drawer and pulled out the tiny notebook she kept. 

It was full of things she wrote while she was big. A whole bunch of things, that she wished someone else would say to her, but she had to say to herself. 

Then, she changed into her pajamas and pulled her hair up into pigtails with some scrunchies she had ordered online. She gave her own reflection a tiny smile in the mirror- she looked really cute, if she did say so herself. She loved it when she looked cute, but her heart always sank when she remembered that she was the only one who would ever see how cute she was. 

"Okay," she whispered to herself. "'S okay, Em."

She nodded at her reflection, and then toddled back to her bed, slipping under the covers and pulling Mr. Rex into her arms. Using her free hand, she grabbed the bottle of chocolate milk and took a suckle. Her eyes drifted shut as the warm liquid trickled down her throat. 

She nuzzled her cheek against Mr. Rex's soft fur, smiling softly. Maybe tonight would be better than usual!

Then, her hand shook a little bit. It was hard to hold a bottle- so hard. She was too small to hold a bottle and her stuffie. She really wanted... She wanted Mommy. 

There was only one problem: Mommy only existed in her mind. Her face changed all the time, cycling between her friends, mostly Kelley and Lindsey. Tonight, she latched onto Kelley's face, holding tight to it, wishing that Kelley was here holding the bottle to her lips, cradling her as she suckled. 

It wasn't going to be a better night. It never was. 

She held Mr. Rex tighter, putting the bottle down and already feeling the beginnings of tears pricking at the corner of her eyes. 

At least he was always there. He listened. 

"Mr. Rex," she whispered, voice sounding small to her own ears. "D'you love me?"

She held the stuffed dinosaur's head in her hand, making it nod up and down, switching her voice to match what she hoped he sounded like. Somewhat like whatever she pictured Mommy looking like that night. 

Even though Mr. Rex was a boy dino, he sounded a whole lot like Mommy. 

"Uh huh," she said as the dinosaur. "I love 'ou so m-much, Emmy. You' such a good girl." 

Her voice had started to tremble. 

"T'anks," she whispered. "'ove 'ou too." 

She had started rocking back and forth a little bit, without even knowing it. The tears pricking at her eyes had started to spill gently down her cheeks, just like they did every time she was little. 

"Mommy," she cried, burying her face in Mr. Rex's fur to wipe her tears. "I need you! I p-promise, be s-so good! P'ease! Jus' need you to b-be with me!" 

She reached over to her bedside table and tried to take another suckle of the milk, but she was crying too hard, and she coughed it up and watched it land on her fluffy blankie. This, of course, only made her cry harder, 'cause she didn't wanna clean it! She was too small, too scared. 

In a last, desperate attempt, she reached for the notebook and opened to the very first page. Written there, in Big Emily's handwriting, in pretty purple letters to catch her little brain easily, were the words she had written for herself.

You're a beautiful, sweet baby, and someday somebody will love you so much. Just hang on, and be a brave girl. 

She sniffled, trying to stop crying, trying to cling onto the words.

Maybe, she thought to herself. If you hope hard enough, someone will come. Someone has to. That's how it works in the movies! 

She gave a tiny sob, and then the floodgates opened back up, and she was wailing in misery. Disney movies, the only ones she ever watched while she was a sweet tiny girl, always had happy endings. She had tried wishing on stars, like in Pinocchio or Princess and the Frog. But it hadn't worked yet, and it probably never would. 

"P-Please," she cried, Kelley's face flickering in and out of her imagination, occasionally morphing into Lindsey's, or even into a sweet and kind face that she had never seen before but that she knew loved her so much, and would rock her back and forth and sing her songs and tell her that she was loved. "Please, M-Mommy! 'M tryin' ta hold onnnn, b-but I c-can't be b-b-braaaaveee anym-more! 'M s-sorry, wanna be good! W-Wanna be b-brave, but I c-caaaaan't. P-Please t-tell me 'm your brave g-girl!"

She sobbed in misery, pulling Mr. Rex even closer to her chest and rocking him back and forth. His soft fur was trying to wipe her tears, but there were just too many. 

"I'm s-s-sc-caaaredd, Mommy! N-Need you here wif' meeee! H-Hurt s-so m-m-much! So m-much ouch!" 

Then, she couldn't speak anymore. Mr. Rex wasn't enough to comfort her this time, even though he was the only one who loved sweet baby Emmy. 'Cause she was such a good girl- she'd made such an effort to be a good girl, even though she didn't have a Mommy to give her rules. She ate good food, she went to bed at a reasonable hour, she always made sure to wear her pull-up... 

She tried to talk aloud- she was pretty sure that her imaginary Mommy could hear her better when she talked out loud. But maybe it would be okay this time, because she would choke on her own tears if she tried to talk. 

So, instead, Emily talked in her head. 

Nothing has ever hurt this much, Mommy! Nothing has ever hurt like this... this loneliness. Please, just love me! Call me your sweet little baby girl, tell me that it's gonna be okay. Just help me, please! This is too, too much! This is too hard.

"P'ease," she moaned in pain. She just wanted to fall asleep, and wake up big, and then it would be okay. Or at least better, because she had friends when she was big, but she was all alone when she was little. 

And she would probably always be alone, because no one would ever ever love her. Even though she was sure she could be such a good baby, if anyone ever found out they would hate her. 

She had tried. She had- she had gone online, tried to find a Mommy that way. Not even they had wanted her. 

So, she fell asleep snuggling Mr. Rex, and praying that tomorrow would be better. If she closed her eyes and thought hard enough, she could almost feel Mommy's imaginary hand stroking her hair. 

Chapter Text

"Fuck," whispered Sam, as she ran a hand across the soft fabric of the blanket on her bed. It looked so... so comfy, and she just wanted to climb underneath it, rub it against her cheek and maybe suck on her pacifier while snuggling one of her childhood stuffed animals.

But, of course, she couldn't. Because she was at home- her parents were right downstairs, what if they came up? They could catch her. Besides, Mommy wasn't here. She couldn't be little without Mommy-at least not happy and little!

Reluctantly pulling her hand away from the fluffy blankie, she grabbed her phone and pulled up the text thread between her and Abby. 

Sam: Mommy think im little

Abby responded only seconds later- she must have just been fucking around on her phone. 

Abby: aww, baby girl. do you have your things with you?

Sam: some of it. just want you tho

Abby: oh, pumpkin :( i wish i could be with you. but can you do smth for me? i need you to pull out your little stuff, and get yourself all cozy

Sam: but family here! can't!

Abby swore under her breath. She'd forgotten that Sam was at home with her family. But, family did mean that her little girl would at least have someone to take care of her.

Abby: okay, precious. i know it's scary, but i want you to go and get kristie. she knows you're little, and she'll make sure you take care of yourself.

Sam: k mommy love you

Abby: i love you too, baby. call me later.

Sam texted back her agreement, and then took a deep breath. She knew that her older sister loved her, and was okay with her little self- she had babysat her before, after all. But still, it sometimes made her a little bit nervous to be small away from Mommy. And she was still in her parents' house... 

But Mommy had told her to do something, and so she was gonna do it. After all, Mommy knew best, and she knew that Kristie would take care of her. 

As luck would have it, her sister's room was right across the hall from hers, and so she could just run right across and tap on the older's door. 

"Come in," came a voice, and Sam cautiously pushed the door open. One of her hands was twirling a strand of her hair, and she could tell that her eyes had gone soft. 

"Hey, Sam," said Kristie, looking up from a book. "What's up?"

"Little," she whispered. "Need..."

Kristie hopped up from her bed, understanding immediately. 

"Okay," she said, taking her little sister's hand in her own. "Let's take care of you, kiddo."

Sam gripped onto Kristie's hand for the short walk back across the hall and into her room, letting the elder lead her. She pointed towards the little bag in the corner, the bag that Mommy made sure she took everywhere with her. Kristie guided her to sit on the bed, and Sam grabbed the blanket in her fist. The elder sister grabbed the entire bag, pulling out Sam's pacifier as she walked back towards the bed. 

"Alright," she said, handing the paci over to the younger. "Can you lie back for me, Sammy?"

Sam popped the pacifier into her mouth and started sucking on it, and the familiar motion calmed her. She obeyed Kristie, snuggling back into her pillows.

"Okay," said Kristie. "We're going to get you changed into a pull-up now. I know it's a bit scary," she said, seeing Sam's lip start to tremble. Pull-ups were one thing that Mommy made sure she wore, because whenever little Sam didn't wear her pull-ups, bad things sometimes happened. Kristie knew this- she had put Sam in pull-ups before, and it always hurt her heart to see how nervous her sister got.

"I know it's scary," she repeated. "But, your big sister is gonna take really good care of you, okay?"

Sam nodded shyly as Kristie unbuttoned her jeans, sliding them down her legs along with her panties. She grabbed a pillow from beside her head, using it to cover her reddening face. Kristie quickly grabbed a pull-up and fastened it around Sam's hips, followed by a pair of sweatpants. 

"There we go," she said softly. "All done, baby girl. I'm so proud of you." 

Sam slowly pulled the pillow away from her face and met Kristie's eyes. Her big sister was smiling down at her, eyes filled with absolute love. Sam returned the smile, a tiny and shy smile. She had forgotten how safe Kristie made her feel. It wasn't quite as good as being cuddled up with Mommy, but it was almost as good. 

"T'anks," she whispered, and Kristie dipped down and kissed her on the forehead. Sam reached her hand out and stroked it softly across her sister's cheek, and Kristie's smile grew bigger. 

"You're such a sweetie, Sam," she said. "Are you hungry?"

Sam nodded, but then a huge weight crashed down into her stomach. 

"B-But... Ma and Da..."

"Ah," said Kristie. "Okay. I'll go and get you some food, kiddo. Do you want a bottle?"

Sam struggled with herself- she really wanted a bottle, but what if Mom and Dad caught Kristie making her one? They would have so many questions, and she didn't know how her sister would be able to explain it without revealing her secret.

"It's okay, Sam," she said. "I won't let Mom and Dad see me. Don't you worry."

Sam nodded- she trusted Kristie. Her sister was gonna make sure that she had a nice bottle and some food, and she wasn't gonna get caught.

It was always hard to be alone when she was little, even for a few minutes. Even back home with Abby, whenever her Mommy left the room or wasn't in Sam's direct line of sight, she could feel her heart start beating a little bit faster, and she couldn't calm down fully until she had a big person back in the room, there to take care of her. 

She dug through the bag that Kristie had left on the bed and pulled out her bunny, then grabbed another one of her childhood stuffed animals from the corner of her bed. It was a teddy bear, a big one who she could snuggle super close along with bunny. 

She buried her face in the teddy's fur, breathing quickly until she heard her older sister's feet on the stairs. 

"Hey, Sammy," Kristie said brightly, coming back into the room and making her way straight to the bed. She hopped back up onto it and sat beside her little sister. Sam immediately leaned against her shoulder, pulling her head out from the bear's soft fur. 

"Look what I got," she said, holding up a nice bowl of fruit- blueberries and raspberries- and a full bottle.

Sam smiled, reaching for the bottle. Kristie handed her the bowl of fruit instead. 

"Let's eat some food first," she said. "Then I'll give you your bottle."

Sam nodded and grabbed a handful of the fruit, popping it into her mouth and chewing it. The different flavors of the berries mingled together in her mouth, and Kristie smiled at the sight of her. Her big sister lifted up her hand and used the sleeve of her sweatshirt to wipe off the juice around Sam's lips. 

"You're so cute," said Kristie, kissing Sam on the cheek. After Sam had eaten her berries, Kristie set the bowl on her bedside table and grabbed the bottle. Sam's little heart was pounding in excitement- having a bottle always made her feel so little, so safe and cozy. 

Instead of handing the bottle to Sam to feed herself, Kristie gently pulled her little sister down to lean against her shoulder. Taking it one step further, Sam scooted over into Kristie's lap, slumping down so that her sister's arm was behind her head, holding her up. 

"Aww," said Kristie. "What a sweet girl." 

Sam opened her mouth like a baby bird, and Kristie popped the bottle in between her lips. The younger sister started suckling at it immediately, the warmed liquid sliding down her throat and the coziness and safety of being wrapped up in her older sister's arms sent her further down into littlespace. 

"There you go," cooed Kristie. "Such a good baby."

Sam's eyes had drifted shut in bliss, but once the milk was gone, they flew back open.

"Oh, oh," said Kristie. "What's wrong, Sammy? You can go to sleep if you want."

"Gotta call Mommy 'fore bed," she whimpered, and Kristie laughed lightly.

"Oh, honey," she said. "It's not bedtime yet- it's just naptime. We can call Abby before you go to bed."

Sam let her sister's hands stroking through her hair calm her, 'cause Kristie was right. It wasn't even quite dark yet! There was plenty of time."

She cuddled closer into Kristie's warm body, drifting off to sleep in her sister's arms. 

"There you go," whispered the elder, kissing her sweet little sister's forehead as Sam fell asleep. "I love you, Sammy." 

Chapter Text

If anyone were to ask, Christie Pearce wouldn't miss a beat before launching into a discussion of everything she loved about being a professional soccer player. It was a dream, really, but she would have taken a deep breath after extoling the positives, and then talked about the one thing that wasn't as great. 

"Bye, loves," she said into her phone, smiling when Rylie and Reece chorused their own goodbyes. Her smile lingered for a few moments at the memory of her girls' voices, before fading into a twinge of sadness. She missed her daughters, missed them so much. She flopped back onto her pillow, tapping her foot absently. 

Then, she heard a strange noise from the bed beside her. At first, she wasn't quite sure what it was. It almost sounded like one of her girls, when they had just woken up from a nightmare. But her roommate was Kelley, a grown woman. A grown woman who was certainly not having nightmares at seven in the evening. 

She stilled her foot, looking over at the Kelley-shaped lump in the bed. Yes, she was definitely whimpering miserably. The question was, why?

Christie could never stop her motherly instincts from coming out to play, especially when it came to some of the younger women on the team. She was sure that they sometimes got sick of it, but she really couldn't help herself. If she couldn't mother her own daughters while she was at a camp or a tournament, she was sure as hell going to mother the heck out of any younger teammate who might need it. 


The younger woman gave no sign that she had heard her, and so Christie rose from the mattress and took the several steps required to reach her teammate. She wasn't quite sure where the different parts of Kelley's body were underneath the covers, and so she sat down on the edge of the bed and wound her fingers through those on the other hand while she talked.

"Kelley, is something wrong?" 

The young defender didn't answer her in words, but the drawn-out whimper of misery was answer enough. 

"Okay," said Christie. "Do you want to talk about it?" 

The only response she got was another whimper- this one sounded slightly tearier than the first. 

"Kell," she said, "I'm going to pull back the covers. You don't have to talk to me, but I just need to make sure that you're alright."

Kelley made a weak attempt to stop her older teammate from pulling the covers away from her, but she was no match for a Christie who was intent on mothering her- or at least making sure that she wasn't dying. 

Kelley's head was on the pillow, but she was curled up in a lump, shaking slightly. Her knees were up by her chest, and she had one arm wrapped around them. Her other hand, however, was what gave her slight pause. 

The young defender's fist was curled, and she seemed to be struggling to pull her thumb out of her mouth. Her face had gone completely red, and she looked like the tears dripping down her cheeks were about to worsen. She was trying, so hard, to stop sucking on her thumb, but she didn't seem to be able to.

"Oh, Kelley," said Christie, reaching out a tentative hand. She wanted to run it through Kelley's hair, but she wasn't sure if the young defender would want her to do that. "Honey, it's okay." 

Kelley whimpered around her thumb, trying to roll over and bury her face in the pillow. She shook her head.

"D-Didn' mean ta... S-S-Sorryyyy," she cried. Now, the older woman did stroke a hand through Kelley's hair, trying to calm her down like she would Rylie or Reece when they were crying. The fact that Kelley was sucking on her thumb made her think even more of her daughters. 

"You don't need to be sorry, Kelley. Can I hold you?" 

Kelley didn't nod, but nor did she shake her head. Christie just kept petting her hair, gently holding the hand that was in her mouth to keep her from pulling her thumb out- it was clearly bringing her some form of comfort. 

"Shh, Kelley," she said. "You're gonna be okay." 

When Kelley looked up at her with big eyes, tears dripping from the corners and down her round cheeks, Christie felt her motherly instincts kick into full gear. Her teammate looked so small, so innocent and sad, and so Christie continued to stroke her hair while whispering comforting words in an attempt to calm her. 

It took a few minutes for Kelley to stop crying, but Christie was patient.

"Shh," she cooed. "It's okay, Kelley. I'm right here, you're alright." 

"S-Sorry," repeated Kelley shakily. "'M... 'M... D-Didn' mean ta c-c-cry."

Kelley's voice still sounded small, even though the worst of the tears had stopped, and Christie briefly wondered what was going on. The defender was still sucking on her thumb, almost certainly becoming wrinkled by now, and her eyes were still wide, innocent, and... afraid. 

"No, no," she said. "You don't need to be sorry, sweetheart. You never need to apologize for crying. I'm here for you, if you want to talk about anything." 

Kelley seemed to be having a debate with herself, sucking harder on her thumb. 

"Gotta... You g-gotta prom'se not ta be m-mad with me!" 

This statement did set off alarm bells in Christie's head- Kelley sounded like Rylie, whenever she had done something she wasn't supposed to do. But, this was her teammate. She hadn't spilled juice on the couch, she hadn't broken a picture frame by running in the house when she wasn't supposed to... In all likelihood, Kelley had done absolutely nothing wrong, and was about to tell Christie something that was very difficult for her to talk about. 

"I promise, Kelley. I won't be angry with you, and I won't judge you. You can tell me." 

Kelley shuddered once more, and then her thumb burst out of her mouth, as well as a stream of words, so fast and jumbled that Christie almost had trouble deciphering them. 

"I... 'M... F-Feel sm-smallllll," she wailed. "Hasn't... Don't r-r-reallyyy h-happen real oft-ten, j-jus'... jus' dunno whyyy!"

Christie had thought that nothing could surprise her anymore. But Kelley's confession did give her momentary pause, the cogs in her brain turning as she tried to understand what Kelley was telling her. But, she shook off any surprise that she felt- she had to be here for Kelley. And really, she couldn't help but be happy that she was being given the opportunity to take care of someone, to help them and comfort them.

"That's okay," she said. "It's okay, sweetheart. If you feel small, you can be small. Do you want me to stay with you?"

Kelley's eyes went impossibly wider.


Christie nodded, bringing her hand down and rubbing Kelley's shoulder. 

"Of course, baby."

The term of endearment just slipped out, and it made Kelley smile, and put her thumb back into her mouth. The little girl scooted closer to Christie, and the older woman just pulled her into her arms, cradling her in her lap. Kelley leaned against her shoulder, wiping her tears off on the shoulder of her shirt.

"Hi, honey," she said softly to Kelley, and the little one's smile widened. "Should we head for bed?"

Kelley gave her a tiny pout, and Christie had to stop herself from laughing at how completely adorable it was. But, she nodded. 

"Mmkay, Christie," she said. "You... You help m-me?"

Christie nodded, scooping Kelley up and carrying her to the bathroom. The older woman helped her brush her teeth and wash her face, holding Kelley's hand in her own and guiding her movements. Kelley flushed crimson when Christie helped her sit down on the toilet and go to the bathroom, but when she was done she leaned into the older woman's side happily.

Christie tried to deposit her younger teammate into her own bed, but the little one clung to her like a koala. 

"Aww," said the older woman. "Do you want to sleep in my bed, darling?" 

Kelley nodded shyly, and Christie tucked her beneath the covers before climbing in herself. Immediately, the little girl snuggled into her chest. Automatically, Christie stroked her hair, soothing her towards sleep. 

"Goodnight, honey," she said as Kelley began to snore lightly. "Thank you for trusting me."

She wasn't quite sure what happened to put Kelley into a little headspace, but she was grateful for it. She missed her daughters, but caring for Kelley helped fill the ache in her chest a bit. 

Chapter Text


Kelley screeched, trying to crawl underneath the couch to avoid Hope, and the pull-up in her hands. She had almost made it all the way behind it, to the point where Hope would actually have to move the couch to get her. 

Of course, she could if she had to. But it was far preferable to be able to get a hold on Kelley's ankle and yank her out from underneath. 

"Come on, Kelley," said the older woman. "We need to get you ready for bed."

"No," screamed Kelley, flailing her limbs and trying to get away from Hope's grasp. Hope tried to hold her little girl down, keep her safe from hitting any furniture or accidentally injuring herself. But then, one of Kelley's legs broke free and collided with Hope's side. 

The older woman gasped in pain- Kelley's legs were incredibly strong, and it was a good thing that she wasn't wearing any shoes.

At Hope's cry of pain, Kelley stopped flailing long enough for Hope to wrap her arms around her and get her screaming baby under control.

"Kelley Maureen O'Hara," she growled, trying not to let the full extent of her anger seep into her voice. Kelley only behaved like this when she was very tired, and yet trying to avoid her bedtime routine. Yet, she had never gone so far as to kick Hope before, and Hope knew that she absolutely could not let this slide.

"Kelley," she said again, taking a deep breath to calm herself. "That was absolutely unacceptable." 

Kelley tried to say something, but Hope didn't give her the chance, instead flipping her little girl over her lap. Kelley struggled at first, but once she realized the position she was in, she collapsed and started to whimper.

"Mommy," she whispered. "Mommy, I-"

"Kelley," said Hope, heart hurting already at the sound of the tears welling in Kelley's eyes, but knowing that she had to stay strong and not allow herself to break down and not punish Kelley when she absolutely deserved to be punished. 

"Baby girl," said Hope. "You're getting a spanking, and then we're going to talk about this. I want you to count."

Kelley whimpered again.

"H-How many, Mommy?" 

"It depends on how you behave, Kelley. If you're a good girl and don't fight Mommy, then only ten. If not... well, I'll have to double it, sweetheart."

She couldn't help but let the term of endearment fall from her lips. She couldn't leave Kelley without a little comfort before her spanking.

"Do you understand me, Kelley?"

Kelley nodded tearfully, and then Hope began to spank her. She started gently, lightly.

"One," whispered Kelley, and then followed it up with two and three. 

As soon as Hope landed blows number four, five and six, Kelley's voice grew shakier and shakier. By the time she counted the last four swats, she was sobbing and her words were nearly incomprehensible. 

Hope let it go. 

"Shh, honey," she whispered, pulling Kelley up into her arms and rocking her gently. "It's all over, baby girl. You took your spanking so well."

Kelley was still crying, snuggling into Hope's shoulder and whimpering out her apologies. 

"Shh," soothed Hope. "Mommy's here. It's all over. It's all forgiven." 

Kelley was sobbing into her shoulder, the little girl's snot spreading across her nightshirt. Hope didn't care, just rocking Kelley until the little girl's sobs faded into sniffles. 

"There, honey," cooed Hope. "You're okay. Now, Mommy does need to talk to you about how you just behaved." 

She could feel Kelley's blush through her shirt, and no matter how she hated to, she lifted Kelley's chin and forced the little girl to look into her eyes. 

All the anger was gone from them, the only emotions were love, and a desire to teach her baby girl that what she had done wasn't okay. 

"Kelley, baby girl," she said. "I know that you don't want to go to bed, but you can't fight Mommy like that. I hate spanking you, Kelley, but I need you to remember that, when you're little, Mommy is in charge. Do you understand that?"

Kelley nodded, blush deepening- she was ashamed. 

"Yes, Mommy."

"My smart girl," cooed Hope. "So, that means that you need to listen when Mommy tells you to go to bed, you need to let Mommy get you into your pull-up, and you are never ever allowed to physically hurt Mommy, yourself, or anybody else. Okay, princess?" 

Kelley nodded again, and Hope gave her a kiss on the forehead, then scooped her up to bring her to the nursery to get ready for bed. 


Chapter Text

The women of the USWNT were... something else.

It had only taken Vlatko one day with them to figure that one out, when Emily and Rose had decided to officially welcome him with a fully choreographed dance- all he had been able to do was blink at them, watching their big finish and jazz hands. He was pretty sure that his face was a better reward for them than any applause would have been. 

That had been followed by walking in on Christen sitting on Tobin's lap, kissing her neck in what they had thought was an empty locker room, and Tobin Known-For-Being-Chill Heath had given him such a furious look that he had actually been a little bit afraid while Christen blushed furiously and couldn't look him in the eye for the rest of the day.

So yes, they were crazy, and he was getting used to it. But he had no idea what the fuck was going on here. 

"Come here, pumpkin," said Lindsey Horan, fighting to keep her voice steady as she was reaching underneath a bench and attempting to coax out a clearly distressed Emily Sonnett, who was flinching away from her. "It's okay, baby girl, you're not in any trouble." 

Vlatko seriously tried to ignore them- this was team business, and if he had been told one thing by all the old staff, it was to let the team handle team business. They didn't generally take kindly to coaches trying to intervene in their affairs, and he would rather not be hated by any of these women- some of them could be seriously scary, when they wanted to. But, as he walked past the scene, he found it impossible not to hear the soft little words Emily was whimpering.

"No, Mommy," she cried, on the verge of sobbing uncontrollably. "You gonna be maaaaaaddd!"

Lindsey shook her head, still trying to grab hold of Emily to pull her out and into her arms to comfort her.

"No, baby girl," she soothed as Vlatko tried to wrap his head around what he was hearing and seeing. "It was an accident! Mommy doesn't get mad when you have accidents, I won't ever be mad at you for having an accident. Come on, Em, baby-"

Vlatko must have made a small noise, a sigh of disbelief or a squeak of his shoe on the floor, because Lindsey whipped her head around and caught sight of him, trying not to look at the scene in front of him. 

"Coach," she said, at first looking like a deer caught in the headlights but quickly replacing that expression with one of determination, a kind he had only ever seen when he saw mothers protecting their children. "I-"

"It's okay, Linds," said another voice, accompanied by a pair of footsteps. "I've got this. You take care of Em, I'll explain everything. Don't worry." 

"Thank you," said Lindsey, relieved to be able to return her full attention to Emily, who had begun sobbing loudly as wave after wave of emotions flooded over her- it had been quite a big day, for such a little girl. 

Becky stopped in front of the mirror to retie her braid, and Vlatko followed her dumbly from the room as Lindsey continued to attempt to pull Emily out from underneath a bench and reassure her that having accidents was okay for little baby girls, even when they were at practice. Mommy wasn't mad, and she would love it if Emily would just come out so that she could get her all cleaned up and comfy again. 

"Sorry," said Becky, sitting down beside the coach on the bench as the other women finished their lunch break. Alyssa made to come over, but Becky gave a tiny shake of her head and returned her attention to explaining the situation to her incredibly confused coach. "Emily had a long night last night, so Lindsey warned us that she might be a little bit emotional today. Normally she wouldn't be crying or hiding like that."

Vlatko just blinked.

"A... Huh? What was going on with them, Becky? Is Emily okay?" 

Becky nodded, holding back a laugh at the expression on Vlatko's face- he seemed so startled, and completely unaware as to what on earth was happening, or what to do. 

"Emily's fine," she said. "She's just little right now. Normally it doesn't happen during practice, but, like I said, Lindsey texted the group chat that Emily couldn't fall asleep last night and so she'd probably slip today." 

Vlatko had about a million questions, but the first one was the simplest, and he was completely sure that it made him sound like a complete idiot.


By the time Becky was finished explaining everything, Vlatko's mind was racing. Becky had refused to tell him who the littles on the team were, saying that it wasn't her place to tell, but hinting that he'd probably end up finding out anyway, and that he absolutely should not look at them any differently, and especially not weirdly, because not only would the little ones get incredibly upset, but he'd have an army of angry mamas to deal with, for making their little ones cry. 

He tried to avert his eyes from Emily and Lindsey when he walked back through the locker room, but a tiny movement caught his eye. 

Emily, now sitting curled up on Lindsey's lap and wearing a new pair of shorts as her Mommy stroked her hair and read her a book which had appeared out of nowhere, waved shyly at him. 

He smiled, and waved back, and his heart beat a little faster at the sight of the brilliant smile which lit up Emily's face. When he wrapped up practice, he saw Alyssa tucked underneath Becky's arm, the older woman stroking her back lightly and whispering something into her ear. Whatever the words were, they made Alyssa's face turn from a grumpy, sad- almost pouting- expression, to one of relaxation, and she snuggled closer into the defender's side.

He didn't ask, but he thought he might have figured out another little.

As he was driving back, he pinched the bridge of his nose and considered how he was going to phrase his text to Jill.

It would have been nice, he thought, to have a little warning. 

What on earth had he gotten himself into?

Chapter Text

She still couldn't quite process it. Her mind was reeling, and if she thought about it too hard, she could feel tears start to well in her eyes. She had known in the back of her mind that this was a possibility- likely, even- but that didn't make it better.

She had cycled through everything in her head, multiple times, but she kept returning to two indisputable facts.

One: she wasn't important enough to keep. Portland had so many quality players already, why would they need Emily? 

But that wasn't even what was bothering her the most. She knew, intellectually, that everyone in Orlando was lovely, and she was even a little bit excited to see what it had to offer, and what she could bring to their struggling defense. But all of that was secondary, unimportant, when compared to the fact that, once she left Portland, she'd be leaving Lindsey behind.

"Come here, precious," said the taller woman, scooping Emily up into her arms. It was only when Lindsey used the pad of her thumb to wipe away a tear that Emily realized she was sniffling softly, moisture running down her cheeks. Emily leaned her head against Lindsey's shoulder, being rocked back and forth in her Mommy's arms sending her down into littlespace right away. Of course, this only made the tears come faster.

She heard the sound of a door opening, and felt something soft beneath her back. Mommy stroked a hand through her hair before promising Em that she'd be right back, that she was just going to get a pull-up for her precious little baby and then she would be right back to give her beautiful girl some snuggles.

Emily tried to call out for her, but the tears were caught in her throat. Besides, she couldn't think about how to say the two simple syllables, all she could think about was how, in almost no time at all, she wouldn't have Mommy anymore. She would be a long long long way from Mommy, and Mommy would probably forget all about her, and she would be tiny and alone in Orlando. 

Lindsey gently pulled Emily's clothes off of her. The little girl was almost completely limp, other than the shaking from her sobs, and so absolutely no help to her Mommy at all. 

"I've gotcha, princess," said Mommy, raising Emily's arms above her head for her and sliding a comfy-cozy sweatshirt onto her top half. The sweatshirt smelled like Mommy, and it made Emily cry harder, because she wasn't gonna be able to smell Mommy anymore. 

"Shh, shh," Mommy tried to comfort her. "Mommy's here, baby girl." 

Lindsey kept one hand on Emily's thigh while she tossed her jeans and panties onto the floor, to be picked up later. The little girl could feel her brain getting smaller and smaller as Mommy slid the pull-up over her hips. She was so small, just a tiny little baby who needed Mommy, who couldn't be far away from Mommy, no, no, nononononononononoNO!

She let out a wail, full of heartbreak and terror, so loud that she didn't hear Lindsey choke back a sob. She was so small that she didn't realize that Lindsey had wrapped her up in a diaper, rather than a pull-up. She didn't know anything, except how scared she was and how much she needed to be held right now. 

Lindsey joined her on the bed without bothering to put sweatpants or leggings or anything except the diaper on her bottom half. The taller woman pulled the covers up over them, cradling Emily against her chest and rocking them both back and forth. 

"Shh," she cooed, trying desperately to hold back her own tears. "Mommy's here, Em. You're safe, you're safe, and you're so loved." 

Emily was still shaking with sobs, face pressed into Mommy's chest and tears soaking her shirt. The diaper crinkled as she pressed even closer. 


She couldn't even get the simple word out- she was too small, crying too much. 

She didn't know how long Lindsey held her- it was long enough for the taller woman to cry softly through her own heartbreak, tears falling into Emily's silky hair and chest feeling like it was being caved in. It was long enough for Emily to begin hiccuping through her sobs, long enough for her bladder to twinge and flood the diaper. She was still crying, but the tears were beginning to slow. A little girl could only cry for so long before she ran out of them, after all. 

"Okay," whispered Lindsey, swallowing around the lump in her throat at the pain of having to let go of Emily, even for the minute it would take to change her. 

"Okay," repeated the taller woman. "Let's get you into a new diaper, my sweet princess." 

Emily didn't protest the change- her sobs had turned into gasps and hiccups by this point, and she simply lay there while Lindsey used one of her strong Mommy arms to lift Emily's legs and slide the new diaper underneath her. 

She made quick work of the tabs, then picked Emily up out of the bed, bouncing her gently while she carried her around the room, humming softly to her. 

"Mommy's here," she whispered. "Mommy loves you so much, Emily."

The sobs had taken quite a toll on the baby, and her limpness was slowly but surely turning into the limpness of sleep. She was beginning to doze off against Lindsey's shoulder, and so the younger woman returned to the bed, using her knees to move several pillows to the headboard. She leaned against them with Emily in her, the little girl with her cheek resting against one of Lindsey's soft breasts. 

Lindsey continued talking to her, savoring the beauty of having her little one in her arms, maybe for one of the last times. Before she knew it, Emily was sound asleep against her chest, hopefully dreaming happy little girl dreams.

Lindsey kept one arm wrapped around Emily, making sure the little girl was still steady and sleeping against her chest. Using her other arm, she pulled open a drawer and fished around until her fingers found Emily's pacifier. 

She popped it into the baby's mouth and smiled adoringly at the way, without even stirring, Emily accepted it and began suckling. 

Then, she grabbed her phone. 

Emily had thoroughly cried herself out- she was not going to wake up, even if Lindsey talked quietly on the phone. Unless she yelled, or shook the baby, Emily wasn't going to wake up until she wanted to. 

She scrolled through her contacts- it wasn't very long until she came upon one that she knew would be her best bet. She pressed the call button.

Ali answered on the second ring, and Lindsey could hear the sounds of dogs running and playing in the background, accompanied by Ashlyn's voice squealing adoringly at them. 

"Hey, Linds," said Ali quietly. "How are you doing?"

Lindsey swallowed around a lump in her throat, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. 

"I... It's pretty rough," she whispered. "But, I... What I'm feeling doesn't matter right now. I have to make sure she's going to be okay."

Ali made a sympathetic noise, and Lindsey could hear that one of the dogs had hopped up onto her lap. The young midfielder continued.

"Ali," she said. "When... When she comes down there... I... I'm sorry to ask this of you-"

Ali cut her off, and Lindsey could hear the determination filling her voice.

"You don't need to apologize," said Ali. "When she comes down here, we've got her. You'll always be her Mommy, but Ash and I... We'll make sure that she knows she's not alone, that she can come to us anytime, big or little. We'll take care of her."

Lindsey choked out her thanks while absently stroking Emily's hair. 

"She... I'll send you an email with everything you need to know about her. She's such a sweet, fun little girl- just like big Emily, really. We all know that Sonnett's just a... just a big kid anyway." 

Lindsey couldn't hold back a sob. She bit her lip to stop the noise from coming out- she didn't want to accidentally wake Emily, especially not with the sound of her breaking down. 

"It's gonna be okay, Lindsey," said Ali quietly. "I know it seems like the end of the world now, and I'm not gonna lie to you. That hole in your heart is always going to be there, until you can be with her every day again. But you'll always be her Mommy, and she'll always be your baby girl. Auntie Ali and Auntie Ash will make sure she remembers how loved she is." 

Lindsey thanked Ali, and hung up the phone. The screen flashed a text notification, and she opened her phone to see that it was a message from Alex. 

Another promise to keep an eye on Emily, to make sure that she knew she could always come to Alex if she was feeling little, or even if she just needed anything.

It was going to be hard, it was going to be horrible. But, hopefully, with the help of their Orlando friends, they were going to be okay. 


Chapter Text

Tobin tapped on Lindsey's door, listening for any sounds to indicate the presence of the younger woman. She heard nothing- no music, no Vampire Diaries, no anything. But, the lights were on. Lindsey was definitely in there.

"Lindsey," she said, tapping again. "Linds, I know you're in there. Come on, open up. I brought popcorn!" 

Normally, the thought of sneaking unhealthy food while binge watching a teen show would send Lindsey running to the door, throwing it wide and pulling Tobin in, Netflix already queued up on her laptop. 

But, nothing.

And, when Tobin pressed her ear to the door, she could've sworn she heard the soft sound of tears. 

"Lindsey Horan, I am coming in," she said, before pushing the door open and looking around the room. Lindsey wasn't on her bed, and she wasn't in her comfy chair. But, the sound of sniffling grew louder- someone was definitely crying. 

"Sweetie," she said, putting the bag of popcorn down on the counter. "It's Tobin, where are you?"

A slight movement beside Lindsey's bed was her clue. Just a twitch. 

A twitch that looked suspiciously like a foot, tapping anxiously as the owner tried to stifle her crying. 

She raced over and pulled back the covers to reveal, just as she had suspected, Lindsey Horan. 

But, this Lindsey seemed... off. She was curled up in a little ball, holding a stuffed animal to her chest, and her other hand was rubbing furiously at her eyes with a clenched fist. 

"Lindsey," said Tobin, tossing the blanket aside and kneeling down next to her younger teammate. "Linds, what's wrong?" 

Lindsey seemed like she was trying to speak, but at the same time she was wriggling away from Tobin's hands, further towards the bed. Before she could flee under it, Tobin grabbed her ankle and tried to pull her back. Lindsey was, however, still wiggling and trying to escape her, so Tobin used her other hand and all of her strength to pull the younger woman back out.

She felt a bit bad about it when she heard how Lindsey wailed, but there was no way she could figure out what was going on with her unless she had her out from beneath the bed. Normally, Tobin would wait for Lindsey to come to her on her own and tell her what was wrong, but this seemed different. 

"Come on, Linds," she said, pulling her younger teammate into her arms and rocking her gently. "Honey, what's wrong?" 

Lindsey was still sobbing, stiff in Tobin's arms, squeezing onto her stuffed panda bear with one hand. 

"Shh, sweetie," said Tobin, rocking her back and forth, still trying to calm her. "It's okay, Lindsey, it's okay. It's gonna be okay."

Lindsey went limp, dead weight in Tobin's arms, still crying inconsolably and letting her panda bear fall to the floor. 

It took the younger woman a while to stop crying, and when her sobs had faded into sniffles, Tobin decided that it was time to try and move them back to the bed. Lindsey wasn't much help, but Tobin hadn't done weight training for years for nothing.

"Come on, honey," said Tobin after she had gotten herself and Lindsey onto Lindsey's bed. "Talk to me." 

Lindsey didn't say anything, but she made a small noise and pointed towards the floor, where her panda bear rested limply. 

"Do you want your bear, honey?"

Tobin didn't quite notice how her voice slipped down into an octave that she normally only used with her siblings' kids- and the occasional dog- but she did notice how Lindsey reacted. 

The younger woman snuggled closer into Tobin's side as she reached down beside the bed and grabbed the leg of her stuffed animal. She pressed it into Lindsey's arms, and the younger woman immediately rubbed it against her face.


"'M sorry," whispered Lindsey, and Tobin shushed her gently, noting that her voice sounded... smaller. Not quite like the voice which she thought would be talking at the TV right now. 

"Why are you sorry, Linds?"

Lindsey sniffled, holding her bear tighter and burying her face in Tobin's side. The older woman could just barely make out her response.

"Not 'posed ta... ta... b-be... 'M so s-s-small."

Tobin stroked Lindsey's hair, pulling the covers over them. 

"It's okay, Lindsey," she said, trying to think of what she could say to comfort the distraught girl. "It's okay to be homesick, or... or upset, or small, or whatever you are right now. I just want you to know that I'm here for you, okay?"

Lindsey raised her head, leaving behind a wet spot on Tobin's shirt. Her tearstained eyes met Tobin's, and the older woman was reminded just how young Lindsey really was when she saw the innocent, wide eyed look on her face. 


Her mouth was slightly open, and she was staring up at Tobin with such trust, such faith that the older woman would make it all okay. Tobin pressed a kiss to Lindsey's hair and ran a hand across her cheek. 

"Really, honey," she said. "Whatever you need, I'm right here. Now, do you wanna tell me what you meant by small?"

Lindsey's face fell, and her lip began to tremble slightly.

"Y-You- gonna hate m-me! C-Can't lose-"

"Shh, shh," cooed Tobin, pulling her closer. "I could never hate you, Lindsey. Not at all. You're not gonna lose me, sweetie. Please, I just want to help you. Tell me what you meant, lovely."

Lindsey looked like she was about to start crying again, and Tobin felt panic rising in her chest. She absolutely couldn't stand to see her friend crying again, especially not the way she'd been crying a few minutes earlier. 

"P-Promise not gonna hate me?"

Tobin nodded, squeezing Lindsey tighter. 

"I promise, Lindsey." 

Holding her bear to her chest for comfort, Lindsey took a deep breath and told Tobin. 

"I-I... 'M not eighteen right n-now."

Tobin's mind reeled, thinking about what Lindsey had just said. She might have taken too long thinking, because she heard the younger woman start to whimper in terror, that Tobin was breaking her promise and really hated her so much and was about to leave and tell everyone that Lindsey was a freak, and then everything would be over and Lindsey could never show her face again and-

"That's okay," said Tobin. "How old are you?"

Lindsey collapsed in relief against the older woman, and Tobin pulled her onto her lap, giving her the snuggles that she'd been craving all day, since the rough practice yesterday. In answer to Tobin's question, Lindsey shrugged. She didn't really know. All she knew was that she was safe with Tobin, and that the older woman could chase away the scary thoughts and feelings and make it all better for at least a little while. 

Tobin stayed with her that night, feeding her dinner, making sure she brushed her teeth, and then tucking her into bed with her panda at her side and reading her a story. Lindsey fell asleep feeling less homesick than she had in a long, long time. 

Chapter Text

Emily still couldn't quite believe that this had happened to her. 

She had known, of course, that this was a possibility, even a likelihood, but she had always thought that somehow everything would work out, that God or Mark or something would intervene to keep her with Portland, and especially Mommy. 

But no, here she was in Orlando, in a lonely new apartment, without Mommy. 

She had called Lindsey every day, usually several times a day, and while it was nice to hear her Mommy's voice, it wasn't quite the same as being with her, wrapped up all snuggly tight in a blankie and leaning against her chest, watching a princess movie with Mr. Rex tucked in the crook of her arm. 

Unconsciously, she rubbed the dino against her face, thumb drifting to her mouth. She could feel herself regressing, and so, using the hand not currently in her mouth, she reached for her cell phone and called Lindsey.

"Hey, Em," said the other woman, sounding just as pleased to hear Emily's voice as she had a few hours ago. 

"Hi," whispered Emily, and immediately Lindsey's tone changed octaves, slipping into the voice she always used whenever Emily was small. 

"Hi, pumpkin," she said, and Emily felt a soft smile drift onto her face. She snuggled deeper into the bed, imagining Mommy's hand stroking through her hair.

"Mommy," she whispered. "Want you."

"I know, bug," said Lindsey. "And believe me, Mommy wishes she was there with you, too. God, Em, I would give anything to have you wrapped up in my arms right now. You'd be all snuggly and warm, cuddled up against Mommy."

Emily gave a light giggle, but her happiness at hearing Mommy's voice had begun to wane, just because she wanted it so badly, and didn't want to think about how she would have to fall asleep all alone tonight. 

"Are you okay, baby girl?"

Emily gave a tiny whimper, smacking her lips as if she was sucking on a pacifier, when really all she was sucking in was the unfamiliar air of her new apartment. And possibly some dust. 

"Aww," said Lindsey. "I think someone might be feeling a little smaller than usual. Am I right, pumpkin?"

Now that Mommy mentioned it, Emily was pretty sure that she did feel a bit smaller than she usually did, and even the thought of getting out of bed without help to go to the bathroom or brush her teeth seemed like an impossible task. 

"Uh-huh," she whispered, and Lindsey cooed adoringly.

"Aww, baby girl. Mommy has an idea, if you want to try it. It's gonna be a big thing, but I think that it'll help you, okay?"

Emily's brain rocked back and forth. She wasn't quite sure how she felt about new things, but also... Mommy knew best, and so if Mommy said it was gonna help, it probably would!

"Mmkay," she whimpered, rubbing her stuffie across her face again. She could hear Lindsey's sigh of relief on the other side of the phone.

"Alright, baby," said Lindsey. "Mommy's gonna call Auntie Ali and Auntie Ash, and they're gonna come and get you, okay? They're gonna get all your stuff- your pull-ups, your stuffies, your blankets, your paci, everything- and they're gonna bring you and Bagel over to their house. You'll get to hang out with them until you're feeling big again, and I'll bet you'll get to cuddle with Storm and Logan!" 

Emily perked up a bit at the last part. She still wasn't quite sure about anyone except Mommy taking care of her, but she supposed that she could be persuaded with puppies. Especially if it meant she wouldn't have to be a big girl and take Bagel out before she went to sleep. 

So, she whispered okay into the phone, and fought the urge to cry as Lindsey hung up to call Ali and Ash and ask them to go over and pick up her baby.

Lindsey called her back afterwards, and stayed on the phone with her until a knock sounded on her apartment door. 

"They here, Mommy," she whispered.

"Can you get up and go let them in, sweetie?"

Bagel yipped at the door as Emily dragged herself out of the bed, still clutching Mr. Rex in one hand, and opened the door to reveal Ashlyn and Ali. She whispered out directions as to where they could find her little stuff. Ashlyn gathered all of it up in a bag and put Bagel's leash on, leading the dog downstairs while Ali scooped Emily up into her arms, T-Rex and all, and locked the door behind them. She followed Ashlyn down to their car.

The younger woman put all of Emily's little things in the front seat while Ali opened the back door and buckled Emily in. She slid in next to her, accepting Bagel from Ashlyn and pulling Emily against her shoulder. The dog immediately crawled across over to Emily's lap, and the little girl giggled quietly, petting her puppy as she leaned against Ali. 

Ashlyn started the car, and they were on their way. 

"Here we are, Em," said Ali softly a few minutes later. Emily yawned as Ashlyn parked the car, going around to the trunk and grabbing all of Emily's little things. She grabbed Bagel's leash again and led the puppy towards their front door, and Ali unbuckled Emily's seatbelt for her, picking her up again and carrying her to the door. 

Emily giggled as Bagel greeted Storm and Logan, the other dogs sniffing her cautiously before they all three bounded off to play in the house, Ashlyn quickly unclipping Bagel's leash before the puppy could drag it after her. 

"Puppy," whispered Emily, and Ashlyn laughed. 

"You're right, sweetie. There's a whole bunch of puppies! We can snuggle them when they calm down a little bit, but for now, I think Auntie Ali and I should get you all ready for bed!" 

Emily gave a small pout- she might have been tired, but she didn't wanna go to bed! Nope, nope!

"Aww," cooed Ali. "You're just too adorable, sweetie. Don't worry, we aren't going to bed quite yet. Auntie Ash and I were just thinking that you might like to be all cozy while we watch a movie. Does that sound good?" 

Emily perked up, nodding happily and already imagining what movie she was gonna watch later. Ali carried her over into the next room, which held a comfy looking couch. Ashlyn put a towel down, and Ali laid her down gently.

Emily was looking up at the ceiling as Ashlyn tucked a pillow underneath her head. She was pretty sure she knew what was about to happen- Mommy told her that she had emailed Ash and Ali everything they would need to know about taking care of her- and she wanted no part of it! 

No one except for Mommy had ever changed her into a pull-up before, and she sure didn't want them to start now!

"Nuh uh," she whimpered, lower lip sticking out in a pout. "No diaper!"

Ali ran a hand over her forehead, trying to soothe her, but Emily just shook her head, pulling her dinosaur closer and whimpering, on the verge of tears.

"Oh, honey," cooed Ashlyn, tilting her head to signal Ali to rifle through Emily's bag and find her onesie. 

"I know, it's a bit scary, isn't it?"

Emily nodded, a few tears slipping out of the corner of her eyes. She wanted Mommy, she didn't wanna be here, she wanted to be back in Portland with Mommy.

"Sweetie," said Ashlyn, accepting Emily's clothes from Ali. "I know you're a bit scared right now, but can I tell you a secret?"

Emily nodded- she liked secrets! They made her feel important!

Ali sat on the couch beside Emily's head, playing gently with her hair.

"Auntie Ali and I love you a whole bunch, little one," said Ashlyn. "We know you miss Portland, and especially your Mommy, but we're so glad we get to have you here with us. We're gonna take really good care of you, promise."

Emily nodded, leaning her head into Auntie Ali's hand. 

"It's okay to be scared," said the older woman. "But we've gotta put you in a diaper, honey. Your Mommy said that you need to sleep in diapers when you're little, so you need to sleep in diapers. We're gonna make it really quick, and then you can have some chocolate milk afterwards, okay?"

Ali and Ashlyn didn't push, they let Emily think about it for a minute, praying that she would cooperate and not throw a tantrum, because they were really not looking forward to what might happen if Emily fell asleep without a diaper on. Not that they couldn't handle whatever mess was thrown their way- they did babysit Sydney's children after all- but they didn't want Emily to feel embarrassed or ashamed if she wet the bed. 

"Promise not j-j-judge?"

Relieved smiles broke out across the older women's faces, and they nodded vigorously.

"We promise, Em," said Ali. "We're never ever gonna judge you." 

Emily used one hand to hold her dinosaur over her face, the other clutching onto Ali's, as Ashlyn stripped her out of her big girl clothes and quickly fastened a diaper around her hips, followed by her onesie. 

"There you go," said the keeper. "All done!"

Emily smiled, crawling over to sit in Ashlyn's lap as Ali went off to make her a bottle full of chocolate milk. 

"So," said Ashlyn as Storm and Bagel hopped up onto the couch beside them, Bagel immediately jumping into Emily's lap, while Logan lay down at Ashlyn's feet. "Do you want to watch a movie?"

Emily nodded, accepting her bottle from Ali. Ashlyn gently plucked it from her hands and inserted the nipple into her mouth. 

Ali queued up Disney's Zootopia as Ashlyn fed Emily her bottle. The little girl suckled gently as the movie began, and (despite her claims of not being tired) was soon drifting off to sleep. 

"Okay," whispered Ashlyn, lifting Emily up and carrying her upstairs to their spare room, making sure that her T-Rex wasn't forgotten. "I think it's bedtime for sleepy little girls." 

Ali nodded in agreement, following her wife upstairs and helping her tuck Emily into bed, underneath the covers. 

"Goodnight, sweetie," said the couple. "We're so glad you're here with us."

Ashlyn went downstairs to let the dogs out, and Ali sat on the end of Emily's bed until the little one had finally drifted off to sleep. 

Ali and Ashlyn's room was right next to the spare room, and the couple couldn't help but be happy about that- they were going to be able to hear any noises that Emily might make, especially if the little girl wet her diaper, or had any bad dreams.

"Ali," whispered Ashlyn as they climbed into bed, kissing her wife on the neck. "We need to have kids."

Ali laughed quietly, returning Ashlyn's kiss and turning out the lights. 

"Well," she said. "It does look like we have a practice child."

Chapter Text

It was all happening so quickly. 

Sonnett and Caitlin, taken from her all at once. Caitlin, off to who knew where. And even though Lindsey knew where Sonnett was off to, the distance between them somehow seemed like it would be a thousand times further. 

And now Hayley, a move to Everton all but confirmed. Really, with the way things were going, she half expected news to come in at any second that Ellie would be staying in Australia, and never coming back. 

Suddenly, Lindsey was all alone. 

She had come to the training field all alone, just planning to take out her feelings on some poor, helpless soccer balls before running until she couldn't run anymore, but instead she was just... sitting in the locker room, holding her knees and trying desperately not to cry. 

What's the point, she was thinking to herself miserably, in making friends if everyone is just going to leave me?

The first helpless, heartbroken tear slid out of the corner of her eye and down her right cheek, and before she knew it she couldn't stop them from bursting forth, soaking her face and reddening her eyes. She hadn't expected to be crying on the floor of a locker room today, but... there was nothing to be done. Just as there was no way to turn back time and somehow manage to convince Mark that Emily was valuable and talented, and deserved to stay instead of being traded for a draft pick.

Suddenly, Lindsey startled at a noise behind her, trying to quiet her cries just in case there was a person here who shouldn't be. But then she heard a pair of familiar footsteps sounding on the floor, and a pair of familiar shoes trod into view. 

Tobin gave a gasp, nearly dropping her coffee when she saw the unexpected sight of Lindsey, curled in fetal position on the floor with tears dripping down her cheeks and shaking like a leaf.

"Linds," said Tobin, setting her coffee on the bench that Lindsey was leaning against and squatting down to wrap her arms around her younger teammate. "Honey, what are you doing here?" 

Lindsey tried to answer, she really did. But when she opened her mouth, all that came out was a pained whimper and a renewed round of sobs. All she could think about was her friends- Caitlin, Hayley, and especially Sonnett- all leaving her! They were leaving her, all alone!

Tobin didn't ask her again, just pulled Lindsey closer and started to pet her hair, stroking her (soft, safe) hands through it in an attempt to comfort her. 

"Do you want to go home, Linds? Do you want me to take you home?"

Lindsey's chest clenched in terror at the thought of returning to that empty apartment, and shook her head violently. Some of her hair whipped Tobin in the face, but the older midfielder just brushed it aside. 

"Do you want me to take you back to my house?" 

Lindsey nodded at this question, and then Tobin was helping her to her feet, leaving her coffee behind and walking straight back out to her car. Her heart sank a little bit when Lindsey toddled to the back door of the car, rubbing her hand across her face. She loved taking care of her little teammates, but she didn't like that something had upset Lindsey this much, to send her down into littlespace when she didn't normally regress. 

Tobin opened the door and watched Lindsey carefully as she clambered into the backseat. Lindsey reached for the seat belt, but Tobin gently grabbed hold of her hand and held it while her other hand buckled Lindsey in herself. 

Lindsey was still crying quietly as Tobin pulled out of the lot, turning towards her house.

"It's okay, honey," cooed Tobin as she drove through traffic, keeping one eye on the road and the other eye locked on the rearview mirror, making sure that Lindsey remained within her sight. 

"It's gonna be okay, we're gonna hang out at my house. We don't have to talk about it if you don't want, just let me take care of you, okay?" 

Lindsey sniffled and nodded, using her sleeve to wipe her runny nose as Tobin pulled in and parked the car, coming around to the little one's door and unbuckling her seat belt. Lindsey clutched her older teammate's hand desperately, lagging a little bit behind as she struggled to pick up her feet. 

"Come on, Linds," said Tobin, unlocking her door and shutting it behind them. She guided her down onto the bench in her entryway and knelt in front of her, unlacing her shoes before leading her upstairs.

"Do you wanna put on some different clothes, precious?"

Lindsey nodded weakly, still sniffling horribly, and raised her arms up to let Tobin strip her out of her big girl clothes. Luckily for Lindsey, Tobin slept in big tees, and her sweatpants were always at least a size too big, so the older woman managed to dig out a tee shirt and sweatpants for her to wear.

"Are you small enough for a pull-up?"

Lindsey blushed, but nodded at Tobin's question. She wouldn't usually be small enough for pull-ups, but the thought of being completely alone, having to play without one of her very bestest friends, had made her a little bit smaller than usual. 

Tobin brushed a hand through her hair in comfort as she went to the closet and dug out the box of pull-ups, leftover from the last time she had watched a little at her house. She guided Lindsey gently to lay back on the bed, then stripped her out of her underwear and got her all safe and protected and small in a pull-up. 

"There you go," cooed Tobin, pulling the sweatpants onto Lindsey's legs before hopping up on the bed beside her.

Lindsey scrambled to snuggle in beside Tobin, who opened her arms for her and tucked her against her chest. The little girl was no longer crying, but she was still whimpering softly, heartbroken by something. Tobin was fairly certain she knew what, she just didn't know if Lindsey was up for talking about it.

So, she didn't press, just turned on the television. She almost put on Clifford the Big Red Dog, but then remembered just in time that one of the main characters was named Emily. So, at the last second, she changed her mind and put on Dora the Explorer. 

Lindsey cuddled into her side, idly sucking her thumb as she watched the program. At one point, Tobin got up to get her a snack- apple slices with peanut butter, and a sippy cup full of chocolate milk- and then subsequently change her pull-up when the little girl tugged at her sleeve and blushed, signalling to Tobin that she had wet it. 

They ordered pizza for dinner, and Tobin had to watch Lindsey carefully to make sure that none of the sauce ended up all over. Then, as Tobin was about to tuck Lindsey into the bed that they would be sharing and go back downstairs to wash the dishes, she heard a desperate whimper coming from beneath the blankets. 

"What's wrong, sweetie?"

Lindsey whimpered again and so Tobin walked back over to the bed and sat on the end of it, looking at the little one with concern. Lindsey tried to sit up, but Tobin shushed her gently and offered her hand for the little girl to hold, which Lindsey accepted eagerly, absorbing herself in playing with Tobin's fingers until the older midfielder repeated the question. 

"Honey," asked Tobin. "Do you wanna tell me what's up with you?"

Lindsey whispered something, but that hand that wasn't clutching desperately onto Tobin's was in her mouth, and so the other woman couldn't understand a word of what she was trying to say. 

"Can you say that again, baby girl? I didn't hear you." 

Lindsey- seemingly reluctantly- pulled her thumb from out of her mouth and whispered a plea that made Tobin's entire soul hurt, and a pit of anger open up for what she knew, she knew, had caused this.

"Don' lea'e meee." 

Tobin clutched Lindsey's hand tighter, trying to reassure her that she was right there.

"I'm not leaving, baby," she cooed. "I'm just going down to do some dishes, then I'll be right back and we can-"


Lindsey's cry startled Tobin, and when she looked at the little girl closely, it was clear that her lip was trembling and that she was on the verge of breaking down into another fit of tears. And, for all her badass-ery on the pitch, Tobin Heath was nothing if not a softie for tears, especially when they came from a sweet little one who had already been through more than enough lately. 

"Okay," she said. "I can leave the dishes for the morning. I gotta get my jammies on, though, and brush my teeth. So, how about you wait right here and think about what you want for breakfast tomorrow, and I'll be back before you know it. In the morning you can tell me what it is, and we can go and get it!"

Lindsey nodded cautiously, allowing Tobin to separate their hands and race to get ready for bed. She was done in what would have been record time, if she were keeping track, flipping off the lights and clambering into the bed beside Lindsey. 

The younger midfielder was immediately pressed into her side, face buried in Tobin's shoulder in a way that Tobin knew would end up making her arm numb before long. But, if it helped Lindsey go to sleep knowing that she was right there, that she wasn't going anywhere, then it would be worth it.

"See, sweetie pie," said Tobin. "I'm right here, I'm not leaving you. You're not alone, Lindsey. You're never, never alone."

Lindsey sniffled into the fabric of Tobin's shirt, drifting closer and closer to sleep. 

Her heart was still broken into jagged little pieces, and she had no idea what the coming season held, or how she was going to cope without Caitlin, or Hayley, or especially Sonnett, playing by her side. But, she did know one thing: she wasn't alone. Because Tobin was right here holding her, just like she had for so many years. 

Chapter Text

It was Christen who found Mal first, after around fifteen minutes of searching.

The younger woman was sitting alone, slumped in a corner, thin arms wrapped around her knees, and face fallen. Her lower lip was trembling, and her eyes were wide and watering. When Christen looked closer, she could see that Mal's whole body was shaking like a leaf in an autumn breeze, not just her lip. 

She was the perfect picture of horrible misery, and Christen was just frozen in place at the sight. She wanted so badly to rush forwards and pull Mal into her arms, but her beautiful little girl looked so... broken, that Christen wasn't entirely sure that this was something even Mommy could fix. 

She had never thought that this could ever happen, not to her talented and beautiful little one.

Involuntarily, Christen let a sharp, pained gasp fall from her lips. Mal heard the sound, and looked up at her. They just stared at each other for a moment, two pairs of wide eyes, and then Mal's face crumbled even further, and the tears that were welling at the surface of her eyes spilled out and down her cheeks. The horrible wail which came from her shuddering lips was what finally unfroze Christen, and she dashed forwards as fast as she could and scooped the little girl up into her arms. She rocked her back and forth gently as she dashed with her back up towards where she could comfort her.

She didn't even bother to ask if Mal was little, knowing that she would be momentarily if she wasn't yet, and carried her back to where Tobin waited, pacing anxiously in their room. 

The two older women hadn't seen Mal since yesterday, and they had figured that she was just out cooling her head- possibly fucking around or watching movies with Lindsey and Sonnett- after the news of the trade hit. They had been worried, sure, incredibly worried, but they knew that someone would get their little girl to them if she needed them. However, when the latest news came out, they had been unable to wait any longer for Mal to come back to them. Tobin and Christen knew their little girl as well as or better than they knew each other, and they knew that if one harsh blow wasn't enough to send her down into littlespace- which, normally, it comfortably would be, then two major shocks to her system in the same amount of days would do that and more. 

"You found her," said Tobin, sighing in relief as Christen came back into her room, armful of sobbing young striker. "Thank God. Mal, baby, we're right here. Baby girl, we're right here." 

Mal screamed in pain as Christen handed her to Tobin, burying her damp face in her Mama's shoulder, soaking it through with tears almost immediately. Tobin cooed, rocking the baby back and forth as Christen raced around the room as fast as she could, looking for Mal's little things. 

"Shh, bunny," whispered Tobin, patting Mal's back. "Mama's here, Mama's gotcha. It's okay, it's all gonna be okay."

Mal was far too upset, far too small, for big-girl words, even broken and shaky ones, but she made her opinion on that statement quite clear with a violent shake of her head and another heartbroken scream. With every wail which came from Mal's lips, Tobin and Christen could feel their hearts breaking a little bit further.

In Mal's mind, nothing was going to be okay ever again. Not only had she- a player who had several years of experience under her belt- been traded away from an already young inexperienced squad for college draft picks, she had had to find out from a statement that Richie Burke had made that it was because she- in his eyes at least- wasn't good enough. Hadn't lived up to what he wanted, wasn't what he wanted. 

Not good enough, her mind screamed at her as she thrashed wildly in Mama's arms, inconsolable to the point where Tobin had to sit down with her on the bed to stop herself from accidentally dropping her. Not good enough, bad, bad, bad, failure! 

Maybe, just maybe, she would have been able to get over that one. In her little mind, it was impossible, but Big Mal maybe could have done it, with a little help. 

She might've been okay, somehow, if it wasn't for today. 

Honestly, she didn't know which blow was worse. Both felt like poison arrows through the chest, stabbing at her poor heart and tearing her, ripping her apart into tiny little pieces that she wasn't sure even Mommy and Mama could tape back together.

She was worthless. Nothing. 

"Shh," said Christen softly, coming back over to where Mal sobbed and screamed in Tobin's arms, armful of various objects that Mal needed when she was little. "Shh, bunny. Mommy's here, we're right here, we love you. Baby, can you please let us take care of you?"

Mal wailed again, and the noises made both Christen and Tobin's chests tighten in pain and guilt. They had made the qualifying roster, they were safe at their club teams, and their sweet little girl was being thrown this way and that, being torn into pieces in front of them because she had neither. 

She was clearly too small to be able to convince to stop moving, so Tobin restrained her flailing legs gently while Christen avoided the involuntary kicks and stripped her out of her leggings and replaced them as quickly as she could with a soft diaper. They repeated the process on her arms, the passing of fabric over her face doing nothing to muffle her cries as Christen stripped her shirt off of her and replaced it with one of Tobin's big tees. Hopefully, being wrapped up in Mama's clothes would help her to calm down at least a little bit. 

Mal always loved when she could wear Mommy and Mama's clothes.

The warm bottle was placed on the nightstand for later, and Christen knew better than to even attempt to give Mal her paci right now. The little girl needed to be allowed to cry, to give herself that release, and not feel like Mommy and Mama wanted her to be quiet. And, as for everyone else, whose precious quiet time might be being interrupted, if any of them even dared to complain, they would be met with a level of anger that they wouldn't have thought possible from sweet Christen Press and notoriously chill Tobin Heath. 

Christen joined her two loves on the bed as quickly as she could, and helped Tobin gently move Mal to a position where the two of them were seated against the headboard with their little girl in between them. They sighed in relief as Mal accepted her stuffed bunny from Christen, wrapping it in her arms and wailing miserably into its fur. 

"Baby," cooed Christen as steadily as she could. "Mommy's here. We're right here, let it out, baby girl."

Neither Tobin nor Christen tried to talk to her beyond reassurances that they were there for her, that they loved her and weren't going anywhere, that she could be as sad and as small as she needed to be and that Mommy and Mama would be right there to hold her for as long as she needed. 

The older women couldn't tell for how long their Mal cried, sobbing as if her precious little heart had been torn right out of her chest and stomped on in front of her with a pair of cleats.

When Christen cast her gaze over to look at Tobin, she could see glittering tears welling in her wife's eyes, helpless and heartbroken at the pain that Mal must have been going through. With the hand not stroking Mal's hair, Christen patted Tobin's shoulder gently. 

They sat there together for as long as it took for Mal's tiny, shaking body to finally run out of tears, sobs fading into little hiccups, eyes red and cheeks damp. 

"Bunny," said Tobin softly. "Can you talk right now?"

Mal shook her head slowly, one final sob escaping her lips as she used her bunny to wipe her runny nose. Normally, her mommies would have gently reminded her that we use tissues to blow our nosies, but they couldn't even imagine scolding her right now. It would be the final straw, one that they would never load onto her back. 

"Okay," said Christen, reaching for the cooling bottle full of milk and balancing it in one hand. "Can Mommy and Mama talk to you while we give you your bottle?"

Mal nodded weakly, mouth hanging halfway open as she hiccuped and reached one tiny hand out towards the bottle. Christen made sure to leave Mal's feet resting in Tobin's lap as she pulled her baby to her chest, leaning her backward and gently guiding the nipple of the bottle past her lips.

"Did all that crying make my baby girl hungry?"

Tobin feebly attempted a joke which would normally have made Mal give a tiny giggle, or at least shake her head either way in response, but was met with nothing from the exhausted baby but a gentle suckle on the nipple of the bottle. Tobin took Mal's cold feet in her hands, rubbing them gently, reminding her tiny girl that she was still right there, that even though Mommy might be feeding her, Mama wasn't going to go anywhere, since there was nowhere else she could imagine being but right here, trying to comfort her little angel.

"Mal," said Christen softly, catching the baby's attention by using her name, rather than calling her precious, or angel, or sweetheart or bunny or one of the million other nicknames that she heard regularly from her mommies' adoring mouths. 

"I know you're really little, but Mama and I need you to listen, okay? We're gonna tell you all of this again later, but we need you to know it now too."

Tobin nodded as she rolled Mal's right ankle gently in her hand, trying to get out any tension that might have been lingering from a long, hard day. 

"Baby," she said. "It doesn't matter what happened. You're phenomenal, Mal, and you are the future of women's soccer. We know that this must hurt really bad, but we need you to know that you're worth so much, you're so amazing, and that Mommy and Mama love you no matter what. Always and forever, fiercely."

Christen nodded in agreement, swallowing around a rising lump in her throat as she gazed down at Mal's face, still red and splotchy as she took another drink of milk, eyes fluttering open and shut with exhaustion. 

"We love you so much," she whispered. "Unconditionally." 

Mal had expended so much of her energy crying out all her tears that it was hard to even keep her awake long enough to burp her and change her out of her wet diaper into a brand new one. She was so small that she barely noticed Christen undoing the old one, wiping her gently and fastening a new, clean diaper around her hips. Her head was lolling against Tobin's shoulder, clinging weakly to her bunny and accepting her paci, and still looking so sad. 

She drifted off to sleep on the bed in between Tobin and Christen, who looked down at her to ensure that she was resting peacefully- or at least as peacefully as one could rest, after the two days that Mal had just experienced. Then, Christen gazed over at Tobin to find her wife with her head bowed, eyes closed.

She had reluctantly stopped stroking Mal's hair to clasp her hands in front of her, and her mouth was moving in a silent prayer. Further tears welled in Christen's eyes as she looked back and forth between her two girls, waiting for Tobin to stop praying before asking her.

"What... What did you say to Him?" 

Tobin swallowed around the lump in her own throat, tears leaking steadily out of the corners of her glimmering eyes. 

"I asked," she whispered roughly. "I asked Him to please, please, help her. We can only do so much, Chris. We can be here for her, but this... God, I just hope that she'll be okay. I need her to be okay." 

Christen nodded, eyes dripping with tears as Tobin continued. 

"If I could take this from her, I would. I'd give anything to make sure that she knows how precious and talented and valuable she is."

Christen reached over and squeezed Tobin's hand with the one that wasn't running over Mal's shoulders. 

"I would too," she said. "In an instant."

Both of them looked down at their heartbroken baby girl, sleeping with her bunny clutched in her hand and the remnants of tears still drying on her face. They loved her, God, they loved her so much. And their hearts were sore at the thought of her pain. 

"I wish they could see what we see," whispered Christen. "She's so perfect, Tobin. And I don't care how long it takes, we're going to make sure she remembers it. And God help anyone who tries to take that away from her ever again."

Mal snuffled in her sleep, head nuzzling into Christen's thigh. The older striker looked down at her in adoration, and she and Tobin sank down beneath the covers beside their sleeping baby, making sure that she was safely wrapped up in their arms.

"Ma," came a whisper, and Tobin shushed Mal softly. 

"We're sorry to wake you," she whispered. "Go back to sleep, angel. We're right here. We'll always be right here. " 

Mal drifted back to sleep, drooling a little bit on Christen's arm before the older woman popped her paci back in her mouth, and Christen and Tobin followed her slowly. 

They loved their baby more than anything, and they didn't care how long it took, or how many idiots they had to yell at, but they were going to make damn sure that Mallory Diane Pugh, their sweet angel, remembered how important she was, not just to them, but to everyone. 

Chapter Text

The sound of soft little cries were what woke Tobin. 

She yawned, blinking the sleep out of her eyes before looking down to see Mal crying quietly- not the heartbroken cries of the previous night, but the normal cries she heard from her baby in the morning, when Mal was signalling to her Mommies that she was ready for her bottle and needed a diaper change. 

Christen was stirring softly, but still asleep, and so Tobin gently removed her wife's arm from its position wrapped around their baby girl, then pulled Mal into her own arms. 

"Good morning, baby girl," she said, deciding to let Christen sleep- last night had been hard on all three of them. "Does my little one want her bottle?"

Mal nodded, tears fading now that she had been noticed and was being cared for. She whimpered as Tobin let go of her, putting her on the other bed while she prepared a warm bottle full of milk, with some protein powder added in just to make sure her sweet little one stayed all healthy!

Tobin set the bottle on one of the nightstands and grabbed a new diaper and some baby powder. 

Mal smiled up at her as Tobin stripped her out of her wet diaper from the previous night, then sprinkled some baby powder and slid the new diaper onto her. She tried to pull Mal into her arms and give her her bottle on the second bed, but the little girl whimpered and pointed back towards the other bed, where Christen was still dozing. 

"You wanna go over there and eat your bottle next to Mommy?" 

Mal nodded, rubbing her face against Tobin's neck and giving her paci a tiny suckle. 

"Okay, baby," said Tobin, carrying Mal back over to the requested place and pulling the covers back over them. The baby reached out her little hand and patted Christen's hair, wanting her Mommy to be awake so that she could be there while Mama gave her her bottle.

"Shh, honey," said Tobin gently. "Let's let Mommy sleep, pumpkin." 

"Nah," came a sleepy voice, yawning around her words. "'S okay. I'd rather see my beautiful little girl than sleep."

Mal giggled happily as Christen sat up, kissing her on the forehead. 

"Good morning, precious," said Christen, accepting Mal's return kiss, a sloppy one on her cheek. 

"Okay," said Tobin, also leaning over and giving Christen a chaste kiss. "Now that Mommy's awake, does our little baby bunny want her bottle?"

Mal nodded, leaning back in Tobin's arms and popping her mouth open. The older woman pressed the bottle past her lips, looking adoringly down at Mal as she suckled her milk. Christen ran her hands through Mal's hair, and the three of them sat quietly, peacefully, while the baby drank until there was nothing left in the bottle. 

"Good girl," cooed Tobin, lifting Mal up against her shoulder and patting her back gently until she let out a tiny burp. "That's my baby."

Mal smiled, burying her face in her Mama's neck again. Christen smiled adoringly at her girls. Mal was feeling better, and it was a calm morning, and nothing could ruin this moment.

Well, nothing except for the knock that sounded on the door. 

"Ugh," growled Christen, physically stopping herself from swearing aloud in front of the baby. Everyone on the team knew that Mal sometimes regressed, and most of them had seen it before, so they weren't scared of their baby getting judged, more annoyed at having to take time out of their morning with their baby girl to deal with whoever was knocking. 

When Christen opened the door, she nearly slammed it again when she saw who was standing there, shuffling his feet awkwardly. 

"What do you want?"

Vlatko took an involuntary step backwards, surprised at the tone of Christen's voice- he had never seen her even approach truly angry before, but now she was glaring daggers at him, purposefully blocking his entrance into the room while Tobin bounced Mal gently in her arms, trying to prevent a new onslaught of tears, which her Mommy could tell were coming based on the little whimpers escaping her lips. 

When the coach didn't immediately say anything, Christen huffed and went to close the door- if he didn't have anything to say, then he could go right back to where he came from and leave them alone to start fixing what he had helped to break. 

"Wait," he said, sticking his foot in the door before she could shut it all the way. "I... They told me that Mal would be here. I just want to talk to her for a second."

Christen stopped actively trying to shut the door, but continued looking at Vlatko suspiciously. 

"Why? What could you have to say to her?" 

Tobin was rapidly losing her battle against the return of Mal's tears, but she was still trying her best, turning the baby so that she was facing out of the window rather than looking straight at the door. 

"I just need to tell her something," said Vlatko, and Christen looked over at Tobin, trying to silently communicate with her so that they could make the decision that would help Mal the most. Tobin shrugged, kissing Mal on the forehead. 

"Make it quick. She had a long day yesterday, and honestly, I'm not sure if she can handle any more crying."

A look of guilt flashed across Vlatko's face as Christen- somewhat reluctantly- opened the door and let him inside of their room. He stood next to the bed as Tobin sank back down onto it, cradling Mal in her arms and making sure she had her bunny to snuggle, should she need it. Christen joined them, stroking her baby's arm as Mal looked up, eyes wet, to look at the coach. 

"Hey, Mal," said Vlatko quietly, trying not to be intimidated by Christen's barely concealed glare. He may have been the coach, but if there was one thing he had learned, it was that his players could be truly terrifying if they wanted to, especially when they were protecting their little ones. "Is it okay if I talk to you for a minute?"

The baby seemed unsure, snuggling closer into Tobin's chest, looking warily at him. 

"I promise I'll make it quick," he said. "Then you can get back to hanging out with your Mommy and Mama. Okay?"

Mal gave a tiny nod, already sniffling, preparing to cry. Tobin shushed her quietly, pressing her paci past her lips, trying to buy the coach a little time to say whatever he wanted to say before the little one started screaming like she had the previous night. 

"I want you to know," he said. "That taking you off the roster was a really hard decision. Because you're a phenomenal player, Mal. Absolutely amazing. I just... I need a little more consistency from you. Once you get that down, you're going to be unstoppable."

Mal's eyebrows perked up as she suckled on her paci in Tobin's arms, trying to understand what the coach was saying. It didn't sound completely bad, but it didn't fix the fact that Mommy and Mama were gonna be gone playin' ball, and that little baby Mal wasn't good enough to go with them, and she was gonna be all alone while they were gone. 

Christen rubbed her knee gently as the coach continued. Mommy's hands were soft and kind, and Mal didn't know how she was gonna be okay without them while Mommy was gone. 

"Which is why," said Vlatko. "If it's okay with you, I'd like to ask you if you would like to come to camp and train with us anyway, even if you won't be playing."

Mal looked up at her Mama. 'Cause she must've misheard. It sounded like coach had said that she could come with Mommy and Mama and practice a whole bunch, so that she could get better! That she wasn't gonna be left all alone, that he still saw something in her. 

Mama's smile told Mal that she wasn't dreaming. 

"So," said Mommy, looking at Mal as she processed it. "What do you say, baby girl? Do you wanna come to camp with Mommy and Mama? We'll help you practice all the time, and before you know it you're gonna be an even better striker than Mommy!" 

Mal nodded vigorously, sitting up in Tobin's arms and spitting out her paci. 


Vlatko smiled happily at this reaction, nodding. 

"Really, Mal."

It surprised him for a second when she wrapped her arms around his neck in a quick hug, before falling back into her Mama's arms excitedly. He let himself out, happy that he had been able to help at least one of the players he'd had to cut feel better. 

Christen and Tobin spent the rest of the day watching over a far happier little girl than they had had the previous night. It wasn't a perfect resolution, and there was still a long way to go to get her confidence back up to where it had been before this horrible week, but it was a start. 

Chapter Text

Instead of watching the trainwreck which the game had become, Lisa had been watching Vivianne as her girlfriend was running back and forth down the pitch. 

Her little striker was trying her best, but it was clear to her girlfriend that something was off- she wasn't at her best, and it was not only clear to Lisa, but clear to everyone watching. Chelsea had put four goals past Manuela, and Vivianne couldn't manage to put anything into the back of the net. She could barely get the ball, and when she did Ann-Katrin was always there to stop her from breaking her dry streak.

Her girlfriend could see her sweet face falling further and further, and tears beginning to pool in the corners of her eyes, and by the time Lisa came onto the pitch with Beth, Vivianne was almost crying. All she could manage to do for the taller woman was put a soft hand on her arm, giving her the only comfort she could while the clock was still ticking down towards the end of the match.

It was almost a relief when the final whistle sounded- at least they could get off the pitch, away from the sellout crowd, all watching them lose to their rivals. Vivianne didn't speak as they were driving home- she didn't talk much anyway, but normally she could be counted on to at least say something to Lisa on their drive. Instead, all she did today was sit silently in the front seat of the car, arms wrapped around her knees, staring out the window at the other cars passing by. 

Lisa knew that she should be focusing on the road, but she couldn't help but catch a glimpse of Vivianne's sparkling eyes reflecting off the window glass, taking one hand off the wheel to squeeze her girlfriend's thigh gently, trying to comfort her as best she could.

Neither of them talked on the ride home, and even when they were back in their apartment, Vivianne was still silent, withdrawn into herself.

"Vivi," said Lisa, finally speaking as her girlfriend stood silently in the kitchen while she herself was digging through the fridge for something good to eat, to help distract them from the horrible game. "Honey, are you okay?"

The first words that she had really heard since the game ended penetrated deep into Vivianne's pained brain, and her lower lip started trembling like a leaf, the moisture in her eyes on the verge of dripping out and falling down her cheeks to soak her tee shirt. 


Lisa put a gentle hand on her girlfriend, reaching up to hold Vivianne's shoulder, and the Dutch woman lost it. She began to sniffle softly, then louder and louder, and her shuddering knees gave out from under her. She slid down onto the tile floor of their kitchen in a heap, and before Lisa even had time to react, her girlfriend was sobbing in heartbreak and sadness. 

"Mamaaaa," she cried out. "Ik ben-" 

Vivianne's face crumbled even further as she had to think about how to speak English, because Mama couldn't understand Dutch very well, and she needed Mama to understand her or else Mama wouldn't know that she was really really sorry, and maybe Mama would leave her all alone to be little because Mama wouldn't love her if she thought that she wasn't sorry and-

"Oh, Vivi," cooed Lisa, sinking down to her knees beside her girlfriend on the floor and wrapping her arms around the Dutch woman's shaking shoulders. "Take your time, baby girl. Take all the time you need. Mama's here, you don't need to be scared. Everything's going to be okay." 

"Mama," Vivianne cried, burying her face in Lisa's strong shoulder and crying even harder, 'cause Mama was being so nice to her and she didn't deserve it 'cause she didn't do her job and she was bad and it was never gonna-

"It's okay, liefje," cooed Lisa, and the sound of Mama doing her best to speak a little bit of Dutch to her made Vivianne feel even softer and smaller. "Let it out, Mama's here for you. You can cry, Vivi. Mama's got you." 

Vivianne completely melted into the safety of her Mama's strong arms, just letting Lisa stroke her hair and pat her back gently, cooing gentle words to her, mostly in English but occasionally throwing in a Dutch term of endearment. The little one buried her face even further into Mama's shoulder, so tiny and sad and scared but trying her very very best to let Mama's arms and words comfort her.

Finally, her guilty, tiny tears began to taper off. Her Mama's shoulder was completely soaked, but that didn't matter to Lisa. Vivianne could have blown her nose on her best shirt and it wouldn't have mattered a whit, because Vivianne was more important than any piece of clothing.

"Do you want to tell Mama what's wrong, mijn lieverd?

Vivianne again had to think for a moment about how to speak English, but Mama didn't seem to be impatient. So, she took a shuddering breath and let herself be rocked back and forth, trying to translate what she wanted to say in Dutch into English words that Mama could understand.

"I... 'M bad," she whispered into Lisa's shoulder. "Not g-good girl." 

Lisa shushed her quickly, still rocking her with a hand on the back of her neck. 

"Oh, honey," said Lisa, holding her little girl closer. "You are. You're Mama's good girl, Vivi. You're Mama's talented baby girl, and I just want you to feel okay."

Vivianne sniffled, trying to fit her entire body onto her smaller girlfriend's lap. She was all arms and legs, and so it was hard to completely fit, but Lisa did her best to envelop her baby girl in her warm embrace. The little one shook her head, just a tiny shake, but it didn't go unnoticed by her Mama, 'cause Mama knew everything. She was so much smarter and better than little Vivi. 

"Vivianne," said her Mama, gently forcing her baby girl to look at her by holding her chin, heart hurting at the remnants of a torrent of tears on her sweet face. "Mama needs you to listen, okay? Do you think you can listen to Mama?"

Vivianne wasn't sure, but she... she thought she probably could, if Mama needed her to. She could be a good girl. So, she nodded cautiously.

"Good," said Lisa, kissing her on the cheek, ignoring the salty flavor of her still-damp tears. "That's my baby girl. Vivi," she continued. 

"You are my good little girl. It doesn't matter if we win or lose, it doesn't matter if you score one goal, or six goals, or no goals at all. Win or lose, you will always be Mama's good baby. Can you nod if you understand?"

Vivianne nodded slowly, the last few tears dripping out of her eyes. 

"Good girl," cooed Lisa. "Now, can Mama take care of her sweet baby girl?"

This nod was far quicker and far more enthusiastic, and Lisa carefully helped Vivianne up off of her lap, her little one's arms wrapped around her shoulders. She helped the baby to their room, sat her on the bed, and dropped down to search under the bed for their rarely used box of little supplies. 

"Do you want your paci, baby girl?" 

"Ja," whispered Vivianne shyly, pulling one of their blankets into her arms and wrapping it carefully around herself as Mama handed up the piece of plastic, followed by her stuffed bear. The little girl rubbed the soft fur against her face, and gave a tiny smile. Her paci was still clutched in her hand, waiting for Mama to put it in her mouth for her, 'cause lifting it up and managing to find her mouth with it seemed really hard.

"Do you need a pull-up, mijn lieverd?"

Vivianne whimpered shyly, because it was such a big decision to have to make! She was too small to have to choose whether or not she needed one of those! Luckily, Lisa realized this quickly, and it answered the question for her.

"I think you do," said the Scottish woman. "Can you lay back for Mama? Let Mama put your diaper on?" 

Vivianne nodded, letting the blanket fall off of her and shoving it to the side as she lay back, clutching her paci in one hand and snuggling her bear with the other. Lisa noticed the piece of plastic still in her hands and smiled softly, setting the pull-up on their nightstand. 

"Darling," she said. "Do you want to suck on your paci, or just hold it?" 

Vivianne gave a little suck around the air, and Lisa laughed, taking her paci out of her hand and guiding it past her lips. Her eyes drifted peacefully shut as Lisa got her bottoms off and replaced them with a pull-up. It crinkled as she sat back up, Mama joining her on the bed and opening her arms for her little girl. Vivianne leaned into her, smiling softly as she cuddled Mama. 

"Hi, baby," whispered the Scottish woman. "There's my beautiful girl." 

Lisa pulled the blankets up over them, smiling down at her baby girl as she started to fall asleep, exhausted from both the game and her tears.

"You can sleep," she cooed. "Mama's got you, liefde. You're such a good, talented little girl, Vivi, and it's all okay."

The game had been hard, but her bear was soft, and the blankets were soft, the bed was soft, and Mama was the softest. 

Mama was singing her a quiet lullaby as she fell into a peaceful sleep.  

Chapter Text

At least Beth could feel good about herself. At least she had been able to get a ball in the net, and save them from an even more humiliating 4-0 defeat. Not that 4-1 was all that much better, but at least it was something. 

As for Danielle, she was having trouble finding anything to feel good about. And, unfortunately, her frustration at the game, which had nearly resulted in tears on the pitch, had morphed into frustration at any and everything, as she tried to fight back the icky feelings filling her brain- anger at Chelsea, anger at her teammates, and anger at herself. 

"Babe," said Beth. "What do you want for dinner?"

Danielle shrugged. She had no fucking clue what she wanted for dinner- what she wanted was to kick the wall, or to burrow underneath her covers and never come out again. 

"I don't care," she grouched. "Pick whatever the fuck you want."

The bad word sounded strange on her tongue- she knew that she wasn't supposed to be saying it. It wasn't like Ma- Beth- had anything against swearing in particular, but Danielle couldn't shake the feeling that she was doing something wrong. Again. 

Something in her tone made Beth raise an eyebrow, but she tried to ignore the fact that her girlfriend was bordering on rudeness. It had been a rough day for all of them, and she supposed that Danielle was still just feeling the aftermath of their poor game, as all of their teammates probably were. 

"Okay," she said. "How does pizza sound?"

A pit opened up in Danielle's stomach, filled with boiling anger and frustration, because couldn't Mam- Beth- tell that she didn't care, and that being asked stupid questions about what she wanted for dinner was dumb and pointless and-

And she didn't mean to shout. But then it was too late, and she heard her voice as if it was coming from someone else. 

"I said I don't fucking care!"

There was a moment of silence as Beth put down the takeaway menu, letting it fall to the floor. The Englishwoman's eyes went soft and sad, and it looked like her lip was trembling a little bit. As for Danielle, she regretted the words the second they came out, and all the boiling anger flew out of her, replaced with sadness and self-disgust 'cause she had made Mama upset, and all Mama had been tryin' to do was ask her what she wanted to eat! 

Her knees gave out from under her and she collapsed to the couch, tears immediately springing to her eyes and sniffling with regret. 

Beth took a beat to process the sudden change in Danielle's demeanor, and then she was at her girlfriend's side, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her close. 

"Daan," she said. "Daan, honey, what's wrong?" 

Danielle cried, wrapping her arms around Beth, trying to make sure that Mama wasn't gonna get up off the couch and remember that she didn't deserve her comfort, 'cause she had been a bad girl and she hadn't scored and they hadn't won and then she had made everything worse because she had shouted at Mama and-

"Honey," said Beth, patting her sobbing girlfriend's back. "Talk to me, why are you crying?" 

"Maaaammmmaaa," wailed Danielle, and immediately Beth pulled the smaller woman onto her lap, rocking her back and forth gently and pressing kisses to her hair as the Dutch woman cried into her shoulder. 

"It's okay, baby," she cooed. "Mama's right here. Mama's gotcha, let it all out. Everything's gonna be okay, Mama's here, kleintje.

Hearing her Mama call her 'little one' sent Danielle further down into littlespace, and she tried to press even closer to Mama, to soak up every bit of the other woman's warmth and comfort, just in case Mama suddenly remembered that Daan was a bad little girl and decided to leave her. 

When Danielle's tears didn't taper off within a few minutes, Beth lifted the sobbing baby into her arms and carried her girlfriend to their bedroom. Her movement was somewhat limited by the fact that Danielle stayed wrapped around her like a koala and refused to let go as she searched for her little stuff, but eventually she managed to find Danielle's stuffed turtle, her pacifier, and a pull-up. She tucked the turtle into her little one's arms, but left the pull-up and the pacifier for later, when Danielle had stopped crying enough to accept them. 

The feeling of the turtle in her arms, along with still being pressed up against Mama who, it was beginning to seem, wasn't going to leave her all alone, started to calm little Danielle. Beth just held her, stroking her hair until the guilty sobs faded into guilty sniffles. Some of her little one's snot ended up on her sleeve, but Beth wasn't going to complain- Danielle had stopped crying and, even though she was pretty sure she knew what was wrong, she was going to be able to find out for sure now. 

But first... 

"Hi, love," she said, kissing Danielle's splotchy cheeks. "Mama's gonna get your pull-up on, and then we can talk. Okay?"

Danielle nodded quietly, wiping her nose on her turtle, a gesture which made Beth shake her head in amusement and adoration. She let Beth get her into the pull-up without much wiggling at all, which told the English woman that she must be very, very tired or very, very little. Or possibly some combination of both. 

Once the diaper was safely secured around her hips, Mama re-joined Danielle on the bed and opened her arms. The little girl took the invitation, scrambling as quickly as her tired little brain would let her and folding herself into Mommy's arms, sitting right on her lap, cheek pressed against her breasts. 

Mama was cozy. 

"Daan," said Mama softly, and Danielle had to hold back a tiny whimper as she remembered that Mama had said they were gonna talk. In Danielle's experience, that usually meant talk about something she had done that she wasn't supposed to do. 

Case in point: last time Mama had needed to talk to little Daan, it was because she had eaten all of the chocolate chips out of the cookies and returned the dough to the cookie jar. The time before that, she had spilled her sippy full of juice on the carpet during a playdate, then lied to Mama and told her that Vivi had done it, making the other little burst into tears, 'cause she didn't wanna get Daan in trouble but she also hadn't done it! 

"Don't worry," said Mama, interrupting Danielle's jumbled thoughts and fears. "Mama's not mad at you, princess. Mama just wants to know how she can help you feel better."

Danielle looked up at Mama with wide, confused eyes. She had yelled at Mama! Why wasn't Mama angry with her? 

"Mama," she said. "'M sorry."

Beth made a soft noise and pulled Danielle closer. 

"It's okay, angel," she cooed. "Mama knows that you were just upset. It's okay, Mama forgives you."

Those three simple words made Danielle's heart fill with warmth, before ice filled her veins again, 'cause she had almost forgotten that she was still bad. Mama had tried to make sure that they winned the game, but Daan hadn't been able to help her and so they had lost and-

"Breathe, baby," said Beth, petting Danielle's back. "It's okay. There's nothing to worry about, Mama's gotcha, I'm gonna protect you." 

Daan tried really hard to calm down, and after a moment she was clutching onto her turtle's fin, trying to find her big girl words to express how sorry she was. 

"I... Game..." was all that came out of her mouth. 

"Oh, baby," cooed Beth. "Are you upset about the game earlier?"

A tiny nod from her little one confirmed Beth's suspicions, and she pulled the blankets up over her and Danielle with one hand while keeping the other securely wrapped around her little one. 

"Everyone loses games sometimes," she said, voice full of sureity. "And it's okay. We didn't play our best game today, but that's no one person's fault, Danielle. Mama knows that you're probably angry at yourself, but it was everyone equally, okay? We can have bad games, and it doesn't make us any less of good players. Understand, dierbaar?"

Danielle nodded cautiously- Mama was really smart, and she knew so much more than little baby Daan, and so if Mama was telling her that it was okay, then that meant it was probably okay.

"Good girl," said Mama, kissing Danielle on both cheeks and then on the tip of her still slightly runny nose, making the little one giggle softly. 

"Now," continued Mama, pulling up Netflix on their TV. "How about my little baby picks out something to watch while Mama goes and orders us some pizza?"

Danielle nodded, flicking through the options and happily anticipating a night eating pizza in bed with the bestest Mama ever!

Chapter Text


Morgan threw her sippy cup across the room, and the lid broke loose, spreading its contents all over the wall. The juice dripped down the white paint of the wall, an orange river. Lauren, who had about to feed her little girl a forkful of broccoli, dropped the implement and stared at Morgan in disbelief. 

Had that just happened? 

A loud scream from Morgan as she wiggled around in her chair confirmed that it absolutely had, and Lauren set the fork down on the table and raced across the room to wipe up the juice before the pigment could stain her walls. She tossed a look back at her baby, a combination of furious and disbelieving.

"Stay right there," she said, wetting a washcloth and running it up and down the wall, leaving only a wet mark behind. She picked up Morgan's sippy cup, realizing that the lid had cracked- it was completely ruined. A brief sadness filled her- it was Morgan's favorite one, and she was absolutely going to be upset about it later. She dropped it in the sink to dispose of later, just so that Morgan wouldn't have to see her throw it out. 

When she turned back to her little girl, she found Morgan with a red face, rocking back and forth in her chair and screeching like a little banshee. 

"Morgan," said Lauren angrily. "Why did you throw that?" 

All the little girl did was scream some more, refusing to answer her Mommy. The front legs of her chair were lifted from the floor with the force of her stationary tantrum, but thankfully they landed back down, saving Morgan from hitting her head on the hard floor. 

So, it didn't look like Lauren was going to get answer. 

She took a deep breath and lifted her little one out of the chair. Morgan only struggled a little bit, thankfully, but it was enough for her feet to ram into Lauren's leg. The older woman carried her over towards the stool in the corner, and Morgan shrieked again, wailing in despair as she realized exactly where she was about to end up.

"No, Mommy!"

Her voice was right in Lauren's ear, and the older woman flinched at the loud noise. 

"No time out!" 

Lauren deposited Morgan on the stool, then knelt down in front of her with her hands on the little girl's knees. Morgan was still screaming in protest, but Lauren did her best to keep her voice calm.

"Morgan," she said. "You're going to sit in time out for ten minutes, and then you and Mommy are going to have a talk." 

Lauren set the kitchen timer and sat on the couch, pretending to read her book while really keeping an eye on Morgan. For the first three minutes, she was kicking her legs back and forth, stamping her feet on the ground in front of the stool. Her screams weren't as loud as they had been, and they had mostly faded by the time six minutes had passed. Her lower lip was sticking out, and frustrated, angry whimpers came out of her mouth every few seconds. 

Morgan knew she wasn't allowed to talk while she was in time out, unless it was an emergency- like if she needed to go potty or if something hurt- and so the only noise that came past the eight minute mark was the sound of the timer beeping, signalling to Morgan that her time out was over. The little girl waited until her Mommy had gotten up to turn off the timer and then walked over to pick her up, out of the chair. 

Morgan's arms wrapped around Lauren's neck, completely limp as her Mommy carried her over to the couch. Lauren made sure Morgan was settled on her lap, leaning against her shoulder, before she started to talk.

"Morgan," she said. "Do you want to tell Mommy why you were throwing a tantrum?"

Morgan shook her head against Lauren's shoulder, burying her head. 

"Are you sure? Something must be bothering you, bean, and Mommy wants to know so that I can help you."

Gently, Lauren held Morgan's chin and raised her head so that she was looking into her little girl's wide eyes. They stared at each other for a moment before Morgan suddenly burst into tears, wailing in sadness rather than frustration.

"Baby girl," said Lauren, letting go of Morgan's chin and pulling her back against her shoulder, rocking her back and forth. "Baby girl, it's okay. Mommy's here, mommy's here. It's all gonna be okay, Mommy's gotcha."

Morgan's tears were soaking Lauren's shoulder as her Mommy rocked her, cooing comfortingly in her ear. She was whimpering something, but she was crying too hard for Lauren to understand what she was saying. 

"Shh," said Lauren, kissing Morgan's head. "Let it out, baby bean."

Morgan was still wailing, but she lifted her head just enough to cry into Lauren's ear.

"Don' wanna... Wan' be in T-T-Texassss!"

Lauren's heart sank. She had been considering bringing this up with Morgan, but had thought better of it. If her little girl wanted to talk about it, she figured, she would come to her. But now she was regretting that decision- maybe she should have asked Morgan if she was okay. It might have backfired, and landed them in this situation anyway, but maybe it would have made it better. She had hoped that Morgan wasn't upset about this, but who wouldn't be?

"Oh," she said, clasping Morgan closer to her and hearing her pull-up crinkle as the little girl shifted position. "Oh, baby girl, Mommy's here. Mommy loves you, Moe-Moe. Mommy knows that you want to be in Texas right now, but sweetie..."

Lauren didn't know what to say. There was nothing that she really could say to make her feel better- all she could do was rock her baby, petting her hair and waiting for Morgan to stop sobbing so that they could talk about this a little more. 

By the time Morgan's tears tapered off, Lauren's sweatshirt shoulder was soaked, and the little girl was snuffling in exhaustion. 

"Honey," said Lauren. "Mommy loves you so much. Do you have enough words to tell Mommy how you're feeling?"

Morgan sniffled again, and Lauren gave her another kiss on the top of her head. 

"I- I- I wanna... t-tell..."

"Moe-Moe," said Lauren, squeezing her little one tighter. "Mommy promises that I'll listen to whatever you wanna say, and Mommy will never ever judge you. You're so safe with me, you're so loved, and you're so valued."

Morgan snuggled impossibly closer, playing with a lock of Lauren's hair. 

"Mmkay," she whimpered. "I... I jus' wanna... Wan' be good 'nuff. Not good 'nuff." 

Lauren had been expecting something like this, but it still broke her heart to hear. Her poor little baby, feeling so sad about herself because she wasn't in Texas with the team. She was glad that Morgan had chosen to come be with her while the CONCACAF team was playing, but she knew that her darling would rather be with her team. 

All she could do was comfort her, really.

"Baby girl," she cooed. "Mommy loves you so much. My sweet little girl, you are more than good enough. You are amazing, love. Just because you missed out on this one time, it doesn't mean that you're not good enough. Mommy promises, baby." 

Morgan whimpered, wiping her nose on her sleeve and wrapping her arms around Lauren. 

"Real'y, Mommy?" 

"Really," she said, kissing her little one again and squeezing her tightly. "You're my angel, any Mommy is so glad that you're here with me, that you're letting me take care of you. Now," she continued.

"How about we go read a book? You don't need to think of anything else, let's just have a nice week, just you and Mommy."

Morgan nodded, kissing Lauren on the cheek. Lauren let out a relieved breath and scooped her little one into her arms, carrying her off towards her room. 

Chapter Text

Hope hadn't even thought about this. She had been so overjoyed to be pregnant again, after what had happened. She couldn't wait to have her babies, her little boy and girl, that she hadn't quite thought everything through. There was a detail that she forgot. 

She wanted to slap herself, calling Carli a detail. Her best friend wasn't a detail, she was someone who needed her. Who... who really, really needed her. 

"Shh," she said, petting the younger woman's hair. She could feel Carli's eyes boring into her stomach, glaring through her tears. "It's okay, love." 

Carli wailed, shaking her head.

"No," she screeched. "You not gonna love me anymore!

The statement made Hope bite her lip to keep the emotion down. It hurt to hear, but she was glad they were dealing with this now, rather than waiting for the babies to be born, when Hope wouldn't have the energy for this type of conversation. 

"No, honey," she cooed, drawing Carli closer to her, the younger's head buried in her shoulder, tears soaking the fabric of her old tee shirt. "I'm always gonna love you."

Carli shook her head wildly, shoving away from Hope and dashing across to the bathroom. It took Hope a second before she dragged herself to her feet to follow her best friend. Before she got there, the lock clicked.

Carli had locked her out. 

Hope swallowed around the lump in her throat, and then tapped on the door. 

"Baby," she said. "Baby girl, please let me in. Mommy wants to talk to you."

She could hear Carli sobbing, and she wished that she could just break down the door, and wrap her sweetheart in her arms. 

"No," she heard. "Mommy doesn't wan' me."

Hope tapped on the door again.

"Yes," she said. "Love, I do. I love you, Carli, and I will always want you."

No response, except for a pained sob. 

"Carli," said Hope, banging on the door harder and harder, getting more and more worried the longer her baby girl was separated from her by a locked door. "Carli, please! Please, let me in! Please, let Mommy hold you!" 

"Mommy," whimpered Carli, but she still didn't open the door. Hope took a deep breath and knocked again on the door, more gently this time. 

"Baby? Baby girl, please let Mommy in. Mommy wants to hold you, angel." 

She swore, if Carli didn't let her in, she was going to kick down the door, pregnant or not. Then, blessedly, she heard a click, and the door swung open to reveal her baby girl, eyes red and tears still dripping down her cheeks at a steady rate. She only opened the door a crack, but it was enough for Hope to stick a foot in it, just in case Carli tried to shut it again, and work her way in, pulling Carli into her arms.

"Come on, baby," she said, stroking her crying baby's back. "Let's go sit on the couch, angel. Mommy wants to talk to you, okay?"

Carli wailed a little bit, sniffling, and let Hope lead her to the couch. The older woman sat down first, settling herself before pulling Carli down to sit beside her. The little girl, still crying, immediately snuggled into her side, burying her teary face in her shoulder and wiping her nose a little bit. 

"Mommy," she whimpered again. "Gon' leave me."

Hope bit her lip, blinking back tears. All she wanted to do was protest vehemently, shake Carli and say it over and over again until her baby girl finally believed her. 

"No," she cooed. "No, no, baby girl. Mommy's not leaving you. Mommy loves you, you're my baby."

Carli shook her head into Hope's shoulder. 

"Nuh uh," she cried. "Mommy's gon' h-h-have t-two babiesss! Not gonna need baby C-Carli anymor-re! Not gon' love b-baby girl!" 

Hope let a few tears escape from the corner of her eyes. Her heart had sunk all the way into her stomach, and she pulled Carli closer and planted kisses on her hair, running her fingers through her baby girl's ponytail. 

"No," protested Hope. "I will always love you! Even if Mommy had a hundred babies, I will always, always love my baby Carli." 

Carli sobbed again, shifting a little bit to try and get somehow closer. Hope, taking a risk, lifted her baby girl's chin and met her eyes. She was whimpering, and tears hit Hope's hand. 

"Shh," Hope cooed. "Everything's gonna be okay. Mommy loves you more than anything. Mommy always wants to be here for her sweet baby Carli." 

Carli looked at her with such sad eyes, such heartbreak and fear, and Hope pulled the baby back to sit on her lap, curled around her tummy, and just let her cry herself out. She kissed every part of her baby's face that she could reach, waiting for Carli's tears to finish. 

"Does that feel better, angel?"

Hope had expected her baby to nod- a good cry usually made Carli feel better. But this time, Carli just shrugged. 

"Oh, love," cooed Hope. "Why not? Do you want to tell Mommy what's bothering you?"

"M-Mommy not gon' love C-Carli anym-more. Not n-need, have real babies. M-Mommy only one who... who l-love..."

Carli's voice was shuddering as if she was preparing to start crying again, and Hope wasn't far from joining her. She knew now, what Carli was thinking. 

"Oh, love," she cooed, swallowing around a sizable, rough lump in her throat. "No, no. Mommy loves you so much, but Mommy isn't the only one who loves you. Not at all. Mommy promises."

Carli looked up at her with wide eyes, showing such blind faith, such trust in her beautiful Mommy, finally beginning to be reassured by the soft words and the soft touch. Taking advantage of the end of her little one's sobs, Hope jumped on the opportunity to continue cooing soft reassurances. Carli took a shuddering breath. 

"Mommy pwomise? N-Not gon' leave li'l baby?"

Hope nodded, rocking Carli back and forth and stroking her hair. 

"Mommy promises, my sweet baby Carli. Mommy will always be there for her sweet little girl. You're my first baby girl, Carli. I love you, I love you, I love you."

Hope didn't even realize that soft tears were dripping down her cheeks until a soft little hand came up to pat her cheek, wiping at the wetness. 

"Mommy no cry," whispered Carli, using her other hand to tug gently on a strand of Hope's hair. "Baby sowwy." 

Hope smiled through her tears, bending down and planting a kiss to Carli's forehead. 

"It's okay, love," said the older woman. "Everything's gonna be okay. We'll always have each other, my precious one." 

Chapter Text

Hope decided that she would let Carli take her nap before they talked any more. 

She always put her little girl down for naps in their bed, and even though she herself wouldn't be sleeping, she always stayed until Carli drifted off into dreamland. The older woman would stay with Carli, holding her hand or snuggling her until she felt the baby fall asleep, and then she would usually tiptoe out and get some chores done before making sure she was back by the time Carli woke up. Today, though, she decided to stay in the bedroom with her little one. 

Hope was trying to read her book, but really she was glancing down at it in between gazes at Carli, rather than the other way around. The baby still had one of her hands held in Hope's own, and she was sucking innocently on her pacifier, cuddling her stuffed dog with the other hand. Occasionally, she would snuffle or shift, and Hope would run her thumb over the back of Carli's hand to soothe her back to a peaceful sleep. 

Her mind kept fluttering back to the conversation they'd had before the baby had started rubbing her eyes, signalling to Mommy that she was tired. She knew that Carli didn't have to worry about her Mommy leaving her- Carli had stuck by her through everything, and Hope was sure as hell going to do the same- but the line that kept eating at her brain was one that hurt her heart.

Carli hadn't quite finished her sentence, but Hope had known what she was going to say. That Hope was the only one who loved her. 

Hope put her book down- she definitely wasn't going to read it, not until later at least, when she had gotten to the bottom of the reason why Carli felt that way. And that would have to wait until her precious one had finished napping. The former keeper stroked Carli's forehead, brushing back strands of hair that had fallen into her eyes. The baby's eyelashes fluttered, but she didn't wake, just gave her pacifier another suckle.

Hope sat at Carli's bedside, holding her hand and stroking her cheeks, until the baby yawned and started to wake. Carli's paci fell from her mouth and she rubbed her eyes. Hope couldn't stop herself from cooing in adoration at her little baby girl- Carli was cute all the time, but sleepy Carli was especially adorable. 

"Hey, bug," said Hope, picking up Carli's paci and putting it on the bedside table. "Did you have a nice nap?"

Carli yawned again, nodding and sitting up, reaching her arms up for Hope. The older woman hefted her little one up into her arms, but it was very difficult to lift her with her pregnant belly, so she just helped her out of bed and held her hand. Carli whimpered a little bit, but grudgingly accepted the fact that Mommy couldn't lift her for a little while, unless it was really really necessary. She trailed behind Hope, letting her Mommy lead her by the hand to the nursery which was beside their room. 

Their house was big enough that, when the babies were born, Carli wouldn't lose her nursery, a fact that had made her little girl smile happily and give her Mommy a big kiss on the cheek. Hope helped Carli up onto their adult-sized changing table, as she always did following the little girl's naps, and kissed her forehead before undoing her wet diaper. Carli made nonsensical noises as Hope smiled down at her, kissing her forehead before changing her into a brand new diaper. 

"There we go," said Hope, kissing both of Carli's cheeks and causing the little girl to giggle softly, patting her Mommy's own cheek. 

"Soft," she whispered, still holding onto her stuffed puppy. Hope lifted Carli down off the changing table, then led her back out to the couch. Hope sat down first and patted her lap, and Carli took the seat eagerly, leaning against her Mommy's shoulder. Hope took a deep breath- Carli was in such a good mood, and she didn't want to accidentally ruin it by talking about her earlier comment, but it was... worrying, to say the least. Even if it made Carli upset, Hope had to talk about it. 

"Princess," she said, brushing a lock of Carli's hair behind her ear. "Mommy wants to talk to you for a minute, okay?"

Carli nodded, wrapping a strand of Hope's hair around her fingers. 

"Mommy," she said, nuzzling her face against Hope. The older woman kissed her hair, steeling herself.

"Princess," Hope repeated. "Mommy needs to hear a little bit more about something you said earlier, okay?"

Carli nodded again, chewing on Hope's hair. Normally, the older woman would stop her and give her her pacifier, but it was too far away, and Carli was just too precious. 

"Sweetie pie," she said. "When you and Mommy were talking earlier, you... you said that Mommy is the only one who loves you. I'm gonna ask Big Carli about this too, but Mommy needs to hear why her sweet little girl feels that way."

Carli shifted on Hope's lap, making a displeased noise. She just wanted to snuggle and play with Mommy, she didn't wanna have to talk about the things that made her sad! Hope cooed comfortingly, rocking her gently and letting her continue to suck on her hair. 

"Love," said the former keeper. "Mommy loves you bunches, and Mommy promises that you're safe. Mommy won't ever judge you- never ever. Everything you say stays between you and Mommy, and Mommy just wants to help you feel better. Okay?" 

Carli nodded cautiously. 

"'Kay, Mommy," she whispered. "I... j-just..."

Carli was having trouble with her words, as she often did when she was upset and little. Hope was always patient with her, and today was no exception.

"Take your time, princess," she said. "Mommy's here."

"J-Jus'... Is always real' lonely wifout Mommy. Don' got Mommy wif me all time, and ev'ybody else already gots their frens. 'M sorry Mommy." 

Hope pulled Carli closer to her, planting kisses all over her hair, wishing more than ever that she hadn't given US soccer exactly what they needed to fire her, that she could still be with Carli all the time. But, all she could do was hold her little girl, convince her that her teammates weren't meaning to ignore her, even though she couldn't help but want to yell at every single one of them for accidentally making her baby girl feel like this. 

"Oh," said Hope. "Does my baby girl feel lonely without Mommy?"

Carli nodded, flushing red and trying not to let Mommy hear that she was holding back whimpers. Hope shifted Carli so that the baby was no longer sitting in her lap, but rather cradled in her arms. 

"Honey," she said, looking down at her little girl. "I'm so sorry you feel that way. But Mommy isn't the only one who loves you. Not even a little bit. Mommy loves you so much, but everybody else loves you too! The whole team loves you very, very much." 

Carli sniffled, trying to believe the older woman. Mommy was usually right, after all- she was Mommy, and Carli was just a tiny baby. She wracked through her brains, trying to think of people other than Mommy who loved her. 

Auntie Kelley, she guessed. Ali and Ashlyn. Sonnett loved everybody. She was sure there were others, but she was too tiny to think of them right now.

"Do you believe Mommy?"

Carli nodded, sitting up a little bit and burying her face in Hope's chest. The older woman smiled in relief, stroking her baby's hair again. 

"Mommy's so proud of you," she said, and she felt Carli's smile. "You're Mommy's beautiful, perfect princess." 

Carli's smile widened, and Hope heard her whisper "'ove Mommy," into her chest. 

"I love you too," said Hope. "Now, how about you pick out a movie while Mommy starts some spaghetti? After we eat dinner, Mommy'll get you your bottle, okay?" 

Carli nodded, nuzzling Hope's breasts and watching her Mommy as she extricated herself from beneath her baby girl and went off to the kitchen to start their dinner. Her diaper crinkled as she shifted, turning on the TV and starting to look through Disney movies. 

Hope smiled at her baby from the next room. She had no idea how she'd gotten so lucky.