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be still my foolish heart

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Emily doesn’t tie her shoes. It’s something her mom’s been grilling her about for the past god knows how many years. She says she’ll ‘trip and fall and break your nose’, but Emily hasn’t done any of that yet, so she doesn’t tie her shoes. She’s running late for English and starts running, but her shoelaces get caught under her feet and she nosedives onto the cold tile floor of Beaverton High School. Her backpack gets thrown across the hallway and her knee hurts from sliding, but what’s even worse is the poor girl she knocked over on her way to second base. 

 

“Crap! Oh gosh, I’m so sorry!” Emily said while scrambling to her feet trying to locate the backpack that was haphazardly thrown across the hall.

 

“It’s fine. Do you know where Mr. Collins’ class is? I have him for English right now.” Emily’s never had a thing for voices, but shit, this one she could listen to all day. Once she secured her backpack on her shoulders, she looked towards the owner of this magnificent voice. Emily’s blown away by the beauty of this girl standing in front of her. She’s slightly shorter, maybe an inch or two, and she’s got warm brown hair and her face is dotted like the night sky. She’s gorgeous.

 

“Mr. Collins! Yeah, I have him right now too. We can walk together if you’d like.” The shorter girl lets out a visible sigh of relief. “I’m Emily.” She extends out a hand that the brown-haired beauty accepts, giggling a little.

 

“Kelley.” 

 

“Well, Kelley, do you mind if we get going now? Collins’ll give you some slack, but I will be marked late and I can’t have that again.” Kelley nods and giggles again, and Emily wants to continue telling jokes to hear it. 

 

“So how are you adjusting to Oregon? Being new must suck.” Emily asks while they walk up the stairs to English. Her hands are tucked inside the straps of her backpack and Kelley finds it incredibly cute.

 

“How’d you know I was new?” 

 

“Observations.” Kelley looks confused, so she elaborates more. “You have that whole ‘I’m new and lost, someone please help me’ look. Also, everyone and their mother’s know where Collins’ room is. He’s the best teacher in this school.” They round the corner to walk down the hallway towards their English room. 

 

“Did you come from Georgia?” Kelley tilts her head a little and raises her eyebrows, until Emily points out the Atlanta United sticker on the brunette’s water bottle.

 

“Um, yeah. Born and raised. We just moved about a week ago.” Emily takes that opportunity to quote a song and make Kelley laugh again. 

 

“No way! I’m from Marietta! We moved like, four years ago, but still!” Emily cracked a large smile as they finally approached English. 

 

Class is boring, as usual. He talks about Shakespeare and the AP test and a bunch of other useless information, but at least Emily finds Kelley’s eyes wander over towards her more than once. Actually, eight times during the 90 minute block. Maybe Emily was a little sad that Kelley only looked at her eight times, but she’d never admit that. She’s found herself intrigued by this Georgia peach, this gorgeous brunette sitting across the room from her. 

 

“What do you have next?” Kelley asks as Emily packs up her stuff. 

 

“Lunch, then math. Do you need help finding the rest of your classes?” Kelley nods and Emily holds her hand out to take the schedule gripped in Kelley’s hands. She stares at the paper for a little, before handing it right back. 

 

“You’re in luck Ms. Kelley, because we have almost identical schedules. It’s like fate or something.” Emily says while shrugging and whipping her phone out to answer a text. “Ok, you’re going to sit with me and my friends at lunch. We’re all pretty chill.” 

 

“My friends and I.” Kelley corrects. Emily rolls her eyes. 

 

“Whaddup squad! This is my new friend, Kelley. Kelley, these are all my friends.” As Emily said that, multiple people put air quotes around the last word of that sentence, making Kelley do that laugh again and Emily’s never heard anything better.

 

“Kelley, do you like soccer?” A brunette with sharp features asked. She had a soccer ball under the table, rolling it back and forth between her legs. 

 

“Yep! I’m trying out this weekend.” All sixteen girls sitting at the lunch table turned their heads to where Kelley and Emily were still standing.

 

“Em, you didn’t tell us Kelley played soccer!” A blonde with piercing green eyes said. Emily shrugged and sat next to said blonde.

 

“Linds, I met her like two hours ago. All I knew was that she’s from Georgia and would’ve been completely lost if it weren’t for me.” Emily said and shot a wink towards Kelley who was walking towards where Emily situated herself. 

 

“So, Kel. This is Lindsey, my best friend, she plays midfield. You can call her ‘The Great Horan’ if you want to. Everyone calls her that.” 

 

“No one calls me that!” Lindsey mumbled while chewing on her sandwich.

 

“I’m a defender. Right back, typically.” 

 

“No fucking way! I’m center-back! We got a Georgia peach backline!” Emily extends a fist towards Kelley who touches their knuckles together, except way less enthusiastic than Emily had. 

 

“And a damn good one too! Em’s going to Virginia to play in college!” Emily punched Lindsey in the arm and hushed her. Kelley was impressed, even though she’d never seen Emily play, she got the feeling she was good. Well, of course she was good if she was going to one of the top soccer programs in the country.

 

Conversation flowed freely amongst all the soccer players. Kelley sees Emily’s wild side, and Emily finds out more about the enigma that Kelley is. 

 

Kelley’s introduced to all the girls as lunch wraps up, feeling overwhelmed by how tight-knit this group is. She learns that Emily enjoys bouncing around each of the five tables all 18 girls took up, and could start a conversation with just about anyone (seriously, she struck up a conversation with a freshman). 

 

They have math next, and although they’ve known each other for less than half a day, Kelley knows all about Emily’s hatred towards the subject. Kelley enjoys math, definitely doesn’t love it like some people, but definitely doesn’t hate it like Emily does. But for some reason, Emily’s taking Calculus and answering every question correctly. 

 

Kelley’s only seen her in English where she was pinging jokes off the teacher and making witty comments constantly, and at lunch where she’s stealing lunch from Rose and Sam (two of Emily’s closest friends) and making the rounds to everyone at the table, so seeing her this smart in a class she hates is shocking. 

 

“I thought you hated this class?” Kelley asks when they get partnered up for an activity. Emily hums as she works on a problem, getting an answer faster than Kelley can say ‘pecan’. “Then how are you so good at it?”

 

“I never said I was bad at it, just said I hated it.” They worked quickly, Emily helping Kelley whenever she’d get stuck on a problem. Kelley would pretend she didn’t stare at the way Emily’s eyebrows knitted together and she pursed her lips whenever Kelley would need help. Nope, she didn’t do that. 

 

The day ends and Kelley’s never been sadder about it. She’d gotten to know Emily by now, at least on the surface, and was getting invested in learning about her. She learned that Emily’s got a twin sister floating around the school somewhere, and that she just got a puppy a couple weeks ago. She learned that Emily is worse at science than math (which makes Kelley question whether she really is bad or not), and she excels in history. Emily likes to cook and has had every single item from Waffle House. Emily doesn’t use spoons - she finds them useless - and always puts her left sock on before her right. 

 

Kelley feels an attraction, a pull almost, towards the firecracker that Emily is. She doesn’t think she could ever get bored of the blonde, always having something to say or a joke to execute. There’s just something about Emily that Kelley finds so attractive, and it’s not just her appearance. Maybe it’s the way she just casually holds herself, or the carefree nature about her, or the utter positivity that radiates off of her like a space heater, making everyone feel good around her. 

 

“Here, give me your phone and I’ll put my number in so we can talk more.” Emily says as they walk out of school towards the parking lot. Kelley hands her phone over and waits as Emily inputs her contact information. She’s got her tongue poking out in concentration and Kelley finds it so cute, but then it’s back in her mouth and replaced with a large grin as Emily hands Kelley’s phone back.

 

“‘Saucy Sonny’? Is ‘Sonny’ your last name?” Kelley asks as she slips her phone in her back pocket and takes her car keys out.

 

“Nope. It’s Sonnett. Two N’s, two T’s. People always forget that extra T.” 

 

“Well I’ll be sure to never forget it, Emily.”

 

“I might need some more help tomorrow with my schedule, so you’re going to be needed again. I promise that after tomorrow I’ll get it memorized though.” Emily lightly chuckles.

 

“It’s no problem, really. I’m happy to help someone so great.” Kelley blushes so hard she’s afraid she looks like Rudolph. 

 

“Well then I’m happy to be helped by someone so great.” Now Emily’s blushing, and they’re in their own little world until they reach Emily’s car and she has to leave.

 

“I’ll uh, see you tomorrow, Kelley. Hope you had a good first day.” 

 

“Yeah, I did. Bye, Em.” 


Kelley had a great first day.

Chapter Text

 

“Linds, I swear this girl is going to be the death of me. I can feel it in my bones.” Emily hasn’t been able to get hazel eyes out of her mind all day. Once she got back home, she immediately changed and ran over to Lindsey’s house. 

 

Her and Lindsey have been best friends since elementary school. Lindsey knows almost everything about Emily, and vice versa. So when Emily walked into the lunchroom with Kelley, Lindsey could sense something between the two. Emily's never looked at anyone like that before. 

 

“Son, you’ve known her for what, a day? There is no possible way you’re already this whipped.” Emily isn’t girl crazy, not in the least bit, so Lindsey doesn’t know how to react to the things her best friend is saying. 

 

“I swear there were literal sparks flying between us. She’s so into me.” 

 

“Woah, slow down there. You’ve known each other for eight hours, don’t go assuming she’s even interested in girls.” They were passing around a soccer ball in Lindsey’s backyard, not being able to stray away from the game for longer than a day.

 

“Bro, my gaydar is better than anyone else’s. I could tell if someone was gay just by their name, I promise.” Emily said while purposely kicking the ball to the other side of the yard, making Lindsey run to get it. 

 

“Dick.”

 

“Yeah, yeah. Also, trust me, Kelley is gay. I’d bet Waffle House on it.” 

 

“There aren’t even Waffle House’s in Oregon! How are you going to bet something that doesn’t even exist here?” They both dissolved in a fit of laughter, holding their stomachs. 

 

“There are WaHo’s in Georgia, though!” Emily said after settling down. “Ooh, do you think Kelley’s ever been to one? Gosh, that’d be a perfect first date place.” She started daydreaming, which Lindsey noticed.

 

Lindsey kicked the ball into Emily’s stomach, snapping her back into reality. “Em, get to know her more before thinking about dating. Hate to break it to you, but you barely even know this girl.” 

 

“Ow! First off, fuck you. Secondly, duh. I gotta work her up first before I go in for the kill, if you know what I mean.” Emily winked at Lindsey and the midfielder rolled her eyes, prompting Emily to let out a belly laugh. 

 


 

“Kelley, Kelley, Kelley!” Emily said enthusiastically when she saw the shorter girl enter their first block class. Even at 8 in the morning she had energy that Kelley envied. 

 

“Jeez, did you have like, 15 coffees this morning? Or are you naturally like this?” Emily just shrugged as a response. 

 

“I’m not usually like this, but my prescription ran out over the weekend and I haven’t had the time to get it refilled.” 

 

“Prescription for what?” Kelley asked as she got seated next to Emily. 

 

“Oh, I got bad ADHD. Like, bounce off the walls, bad.” Emily explained, her legs constantly bouncing and her fingers tapping the desk like a percussionist. 

 

Emily calms down a little once their Gov class starts, and Kelley is once again in awe with how smart Emily is. Kelley would describe herself as fairly smart, having a 4.0 GPA and a 1510 on the SAT, but Emily was a different breed of smart. She understood almost everything, while Kelley was sitting here, confused as hell. 

 

“Hey, do you understand anything going on right now?” Kelley whispers to Emily, not wanting to get yelled at for talking during the lecture.

 

“Yeah.” Emily responds dryly as she scribbles away in her notebook. Kelley didn’t even know there were notes to be taking. 

 

Towards the end of class, Kelley was finally starting to understand what her teacher was talking about, with the help of Emily. The blonde had started explaining things to Kelley in a simpler way, and Kelley was so grateful. 

 

“Do you think you could tutor me today? I’m still pretty confused.” Kelley pleaded as they walked towards study hall.

 

“Woah, trying to get me alone already, Kel?” Emily joked, but Kelley’s cheeks still reddened.

 

“Shut up. I’m just trying to understand what we learned in class. Not everyone could be a genius like you, ya know.” Emily chuckled.

 

“Why thank you. I appreciate you noticing my superior intellect.” Kelley rolled her eyes and bumped Emily’s shoulder with her own as they entered the library. “Yeah, I’ll help. I hope you’re ready for my weird way of studying!” She exclaimed, earning a shush from the librarian and a laugh from Kelley. 

 

They really only get about 40 minutes of solid study time before Emily starts changing the subject. They go from what college they want to go to (or for Emily’s case, is going to), to their favorite foods, and then a blackhole of other topics, easily getting distracted from the task at hand. 

 

“Tell me something most people don’t know about you, Emily.” Kelley asked as they recover from a loud fit of laughter, the product of an excellently timed joke the blonde made about the librarian.

 

“I’m always writing. That notebook right there,” Emily paused and pointed to the notebook Kelley had seen her writing in during class, “is full of my thoughts and shit. Like, I’ve filled up almost four already.”

 

“Do you mind if I ask, what thoughts and shit are you writing down?” Kelley was genuinely curious. The social butterfly was always jotting something down, and Kelley wanted a peek into her mind.

 

“Whatever pops in my brain, usually. My mind just goes so fast I’ll forget what I wanted to say if I didn’t write it down, so that’s usually what’s in them. Sometimes I’ll write notes about people I meet, or something interesting I find.” 

 

“Do you have notes about me?” 

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Can I see them?” Kelley asks, wanting to know what Emily thinks of her.

 

“Maybe later. I’m not done with them yet.” Kelley’s both disappointed and intrigued at the same time. Emily had more to write about her. “What’s something most people don’t know about you , Ms. O’Hara?” Emily says, reversing the conversation.

 

“How do you know my last name?” 

 

“It’s on all your notebooks, dingus.” Kelley laughs and Emily smiles hearing it.

 

“I want to play professional soccer, but I don’t care about the fame. I’m perfectly fine with no one knowing my name as long as I’m playing.” Emily smiles and starts writing in her notebook, and Kelley’s trying to look over the top of the notebook to see what’s she’s writing. 

 

“Uh uh. You can’t look. No one is allowed to look unless they get permission. The only pair of eyes that’s seen this notebook, besides my own, are Lindsey’s, and that’s after eight years of being best friends.” Kelley pouted slightly, and Emily found it so cute. They’re smiling at each other for an absurdly long time before Emily’s attention is diverted by the buzz on her Apple Watch.

 

“There’s a party tonight at JJ’s house, her parents are out of town. Do you wanna go with me?” She says after reading a group text.

 

“Like, as a-, as a…” Kelley trailed off.

 

“Date? Nah. Just friends.” And Emily didn’t realize how bad that sounded until it had already left her mouth, and Kelley’s smile dropped a little. It was too late to fix it though, because Kelley bounced right back.

 

“What time is it?”

 

“8:00, but we pre-game at 6:30. You can come over to my house and get ready with me if you want.” Emily said while shrugging, tapping her pen on her notebook. 

 

“Sure, why not. Send me your address later today.” Emily sent Kelley a smile that made her brain fuzzy, and the offhand friend zone was forgotten about.

 


 

Emily’s room doesn’t surprise Kelley. It has soccer posters plastered all around, cleats and mismatching socks thrown haphazardly, and a bookshelf with bigger books than Kelley’s ever seen, but what’s most surprising is how neat her desk is. There’s not one misplaced item on the white desk. A lamp resides on the corner of it and an essential oil diffuser is working it’s magic, filling the space with a nice lavender scent. Emily has a cup full of pens and pencils, as well as many, many copies of the exact notebook she has clutched to her person at all times. The pastel yellow walls make the room vibrant and bright, and the white bedspread she has emphasizes it. There’s a bay window opposite the bed overlooking Emily’s large backyard. 

 

“Your room doesn’t surprise me, if I’m being honest.” Kelley says.

 

“Gee, thanks? Don’t know if that was a compliment or not.” Emily says while picking up a pair of cleats and throwing it into her closet.

 

“Definitely a compliment! It just gives off your vibe, ya know?” Kelley says, and Emily looked skeptical, but Kelley sends her a smile and Emily mirrors it before vanishing into her closet. “So it’s 5:00 right now, what are we going to do for an hour and a half?” 

 

“We are going to study.” And Kelley lets out a loud laugh because surely she was joking, but then Emily emerges from the closet and her eyebrows are raised.

 

“Wait, you’re being serious?” Kelley asks as the laughter dies down, wiping her eyes because of the few tears that slipped out.

 

“As a heart attack. You need help with Gov, I’m good at Gov, we’re studying.” 

 


 

“Em, it’s 6:15, we need to get dressed.” Kelley says while putting her notebook in her backpack, standing up to stretch.

 

“Do you understand everything?”

 

“Yes.” Emily knows Kelley’s lying, but doesn’t say anything. “Now, how should I dress? It’s my first party in Oregon, after all.” 

 

“I don't know, just wear whatever you can find in my closet. I’m probably just going to wear jeans and whatever other shit I can put together.”

 

It takes Kelley ten minutes to find a good outfit. Emily had told her they all looked nice, but she was obligated to. She settled for ripped mom jeans with a white crop top, and Emily has to physically look away from Kelley’s ass, not wanting to get caught staring. 

 

If Kelley’s gaydar wasn’t already on point, the outfit Emily was wearing would sharpen it. She wore black jeans with a UVA sweatshirt on and a flannel on top. She slips on her Birkenstocks and they’re out the door, 15 minutes late to the pre-game.

 

“Do you even know the commitment and dedication I put in to making these playlists?” Emily had lowered the volume significantly in her car after hearing Kelley grumble about the music playing. She had mostly said it as a joke, but Emily took it to heart. 

 

“Sorry, but I like my music better.” Emily took a comically large gasp at that, offended that Kelley would even think to say that in her presence.

 

“Just listen to this new one I’m creating and you’ll see. You’ll see how wrong you are for saying that shit in front of me, Kel.” Emily tried to stay mad for as long as possible, but after a small pause, they both dissolved into laughter. 

 

“I hope you’re as good at creating playlists as you are teaching. Seriously, you helped me out so fucking much, Em. I understand this shit now.” 

 

“Just helping you out, Kel.” 

 

“Are you going to be writing at the party? Or is that a major turn off to the boys?” Kelley was fishing for an answer. She suspects that Emily bats for the same team, but doesn’t want to assume anything.

 

“Nah I don’t write at parties, but the chicks dig it. They think I’m interesting or whatever. Most of them are too drunk to remember anything, anyway.” 

 

“You’re gay too?” Kelley says in shock, mostly because she wasn’t expecting Emily to be so relaxed about it.

 

“Too?! You’re gay? Shit, Lindsey’s going to freak out.” 

 

“Why’s that?”

 

“I just told her that I knew you were gay. My gaydar is pretty-” She doesn’t finish the sentence with words, rather holding her hand up like a chef and kissing her fingers. Kelley’s laugh drowns out the music playing from the speakers and Emily catches herself smiling at Kelley for a second too long.

 

Once they get to Julie’s house, about half the girls are there. Usually the same group of gals show up to pre-game: Emily, Lindsey, Tobin, Christen, Allie, Alex, and Crystal. They always end up drinking more than they should before the party, and poor Zach has to bring keg after keg in, alone, because a group of eight drunk girls would be of no use to him. 

 

“Helloooo party people! I brought Kel with me so she can see how lit BHS gets!” That draws a cheer from the girls, most of whom are already on their second or third beer. 

 

The two split ways, Emily going over to Lindsey and Crystal in the kitchen, while Kelley finds herself hanging around the living room with Tobin and Christen, each nursing a beer. 

 

“Linds, I was right.” Emily says, giddier than usual whenever she disproves Lindsey.

 

“About?” 

 

“Kelley! I knew she was gay! 4-4 on my gaydar, hell yeah!” Emily holds up her arm for Lindsey to high five her, but the midfielder kicks her shin instead before reaching across the counter for another stalk of celery. 

 

“So what are you going to do about your newfound discovery?”

 

“We’ll see.” Emily says before taking a sip from the beer in her hand and watching Kelley chat with Christen.

Chapter Text

“Kel. Kel, come on let’s go play beer pong.” Emily says, still holding a mostly empty beer bottle from the start of the party. She doesn’t like getting drunk, but she’ll drink when needed. Kelley, in contrast, would get drunk at a family gathering. 

 

Kelley lets herself get dragged to the table outside, enjoying the feeling of Emily’s strong arms guide her out the door. They were both in bliss, getting a little too close as the night wore on, but Kelley’ll blame it on the alcohol. She doesn’t know exactly what she feels towards Emily, but she’s not opposed to finding out. 

 

Once they beat two of Zach’s teammates three matches straight, they hugged for just a beat too long, and maybe Kelley wishes those lips on the rim of the beer bottle Emily was clutching were on her own. But this can’t happen. They don’t know each other, and Kelley doesn’t know if Emily likes her the way Kelley likes her. She’s known this girl for two days but can feel herself falling, it’s scary. 

 

It’s scary how Emily’s been swimming in her thoughts all night, and how the crooked smile hung on her face constantly fills Kelley’s mind. How the exact shade of blue-gray eyes Emily has is already memorized in Kelley’s mind. The exact pitch of Emily’s slightly raspy voice, and the laugh that Kelley longs to hear all the time. 

 

“You’re cute.” Kelley whispers in Emily’s ear as Kelley initiates another hug.

 

“And you’re drunk.” Emily reasoned. Kelley burrowed her face into Emily’s warm shoulder, feeling the rough material of the flannel she’s wearing. Emily wraps her arms around Kelley for a little longer as the rest of the world fades away and the two of them are left standing. It isn’t until Alex is calling out for Kelley that she lets go. They’re both in a daze that, apparently, only they notice, because Lindsey’s dragging Emily back inside and Alex is still calling for Kelley. 

 

“Kelley, we’re going to play truth or dare, you in?” Alex asks from the doorway, leaning on it for support. Out of everyone here, Alex is probably the most hammered, which doesn’t make sense because Kelley swears she saw Allie and Christen switch her drinks out for water at least an hour ago.

 

“No thanks, Alex. I think I’m gonna head out with Em.” Kelley says, her southern politeness in full effect, and Alex doesn’t even attempt to hide her frown. Kelley stumbles her way over to Alex, giving her a quick hug, before snaking her way through the large house to find Emily.

 

“There you are!” Kelley exclaims once she reaches the top floor and finds Emily sitting with another girl (she doesn’t notice it immediately, but let’s just say the burning sensation in her body isn’t from the alcohol itself). “Come on, Em, take me home. I think I had just a teensy bit too much tonight.” 

 

“Kel, I’m in the middle of something. Go find Tobs, pretty sure her and Chris are leaving soon anyway.” Kelley pretends not to notice how the girl on Emily’s lap is rubbing her thigh and burying her face in Emily's shoulder, and how Emily’s hand has been creeping higher and higher on the girl’s ass, settling right under it.

 

Kelley turns around and goes down the stairs, a fire ablazen in her. “Alex, do you know where Tobin is?” 

 

“I think she just left with Chris, why?” Alex explained while cracking open another White Claw.

 

“Oh, it’s nothing. Em just said that they were leaving and I wanted to head out.” She tried not to let her emotions shine through.

 

“Where’s Sonny right now, anyways? Didn’t you two come together?” 

 

“Last time I checked, she was about to fuck a girl upstairs.” She didn’t even attempt to hide the jealousy in her voice.

 

“God damn, Sonnett. She keeps getting dragged in by the same girl every time.” Kelley’s eyebrows piqued, thoroughly interested by what Alex is saying. “Poor Em’s basically in love with this girl. They met in like, eighth grade at a soccer camp. They were both new to Portland and I guess they clicked.”

 

“Where’d the other girl move from? I know Em’s from Georgia, like me.” Kelley’s using Alex’s drunk overshare as an advantage, wanting to learn everything about Emily.

 

“Australia. She’s like, crazy good at soccer and so her parents moved across the world so she could play against the best, I guess. I don’t really know that much about her, she goes to PHS.” Alex pauses to throw away her… now empty can? It was full a few seconds ago, how is it empty already??? “Her name’s Hayley, if you wanted to know.”

 

“Didn’t really, but thanks.” Alex shrugged. “So why does Emily keep going back to her?” 

 

“You really want to know?” Kelley nodded her head, eager to hear about this. Alex took a deep breath before diving in. “Basically when we were in eighth grade, Emily and Raso were new to Oregon, so they got stuck together for all their classes and shit. They were tight, not as tight as Son and Lindsey, but they were tight. Anyways, I guess over the summer they started dating, or something, and they dated basically all of freshman year. Sometime from sophomore year to summer of this year, they broke up, but they still loved each other so they started hooking up. They’ve been on and off ever since then, and it sucks watching Emily get back with this girl all the time.

 

“So the reason Sonnett keeps going back to her, to answer your question, is because apparently Hayley makes her feel safe, or something. They have this sort of bond that Emily adores.” Just then, Emily walked down the stairs, her hair slightly messed up and a wide smile on her face. Alex leans closer to Kelley to whisper in her ear, “Don’t tell Emily, but I’ve only seen her with that wide of a smile with two people.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Hayley. And you.”

Chapter Text

When Kelley walks into English the next morning, nursing a small hangover, she’s shocked that Emily hasn’t already energetically greeted her. Instead, the blonde is writing away in her notebook, not even looking up when Kelley takes her seat across the room. 

 

Emily finally notices Kelley as the bell rings, signifying the start of class, and Kelley can see the dark circles under the blonde’s eyes. There’s something wrong with Emily, Kelley can clearly tell. She’s not bouncing in her seat, or talking 100 miles a minute. She’s quiet, reserved, and looking tired as hell. 

 

As class wears on, the whole vibe is off. Emily isn’t being borderline disrespectful but oh so funny, and Kelley isn’t almost crying from laughter throughout the entire 90 minutes. It sucks. Because Emily’s what Kelley looks forward to everyday, being around her just feels right. There are tiny moments where she’ll crack a joke or send a smile towards Kelley, but they don’t reach her eyes and the jokes seemed forced. It’s like she wants people to think she’s doing fine, but deep down she’s not. And Kelley wants to know why. She wants to help Emily in whatever way she can.

 

“Hey Em. What’s up?” Kelley casually asks, not wanting to sound suspicious or curious.

 

“Nothing. Just a little tired from last night.” It was dry, no emotion in it. Emily just kept her head ducked and rubbed her hands together.

 

“Yeah, me too. Maybe partying on a Tuesday wasn’t the best idea, eh?” Emily gives a weak laugh and reaches onto her desk to check her phone. “Do you want to study for Gov after school? I could use the help.” Kelley didn’t. She finally understood what they were learning, but it was more of a way to get the blonde talking.

 

“Uh, I think I’m meeting up with someone after school. Sorry.” 

 

“No worries! I’ll ask Ali or Christen for help.” Both of them were in their Gov class as well, so it was a decent excuse. Kelley could tell this conversation was close to dead, like Sonnett was right now. There’s no point in trying to pry answers out of Emily, so Kelley sulks back to her desk and opens her assignment. It’s ironic that they’re doing sonnets right now, and she’d probably make a joke about it, but Emily stays quiet and keeps her head ducked down. 

 


 

Emily doesn’t show up to lunch. She had told Kelley after English that she was going to go fill her water bottle up and that the brunette should continue down to the lunch room, but after 10 minutes, Emily didn’t show up.

 

“Kelley, where’s Sonnett?” Kelley takes one more look over the room, unable to find Emily, and turns back around to give Ali a shrug. 

 

“Said she was going to fill her water bottle up, but I think she was lying.” Kelley notices the way Lindsey’s stabbing at her pasta, and the way Tobin has her forked gripped insanely tight. “Linds, do you know where Em is?” 

 

“If I were to guess, I’d say about ten minutes away.” There was a bite to the midfielder’s voice, and then Kelley knew what she was insinuating. Emily was with Hayley. It’s weird how much of a domino effect one person can make on this group of girls. It seems as though once one person has a bad day, the rest fall in line. Maybe it’s because of how tight they are, but maybe it’s because everyone knows what Hayley does to Emily, except Kelley. 

 

“What’s ten minutes away?” Mal, one of the younger players on the team, asks. Everyone turns to her, even Kelley, to see if she’s actually serious.

 

“Sonnett’s fuck buddy, that’s what. I can’t believe Emily went back to her again. ” 

 

“How many times has Em gone back to her? Seems like this happens a lot.” Kelley asks, knowing this isn’t an appropriate time or place to be discussing one of their teammate’s love lives.

 

“In the past three months, they’ve gotten back together…” Tobin pauses to count on her fingers. “Three? Four? I think it’s four times, counting this one. And it always ends the same way, too. Raso ‘cheats’ on Emily, and Sonnett’s heart breaks. But then, get this, Sonny takes the girl back!” 

 

“She looked pretty out of it in class today, any guesses why?” 

 

“Oh, she always looks like that when they first get together again. It’s her ‘I don’t know what to do, do I hate her or love her’ face. So far she’s only chosen the ‘love her’ part.” That burns Kelley’s heart just a little bit. Just a teensy tiny bit that it’s noticeable, but not overwhelming. She has a feeling that burn will only grow as time goes on.

 

“Have y’all tried to talk to her about it? I mean, it seems pretty toxic to me.” Lindsey lets out a loud scoff while getting up to throw away her banana peel.

 

“We tried after the first time. She just shut us out and told us she knew what she was doing, so we didn’t press on about it.”

 

“Doesn’t seem like she knows what she’s doing.” Kelley says just loud enough for the people immediately around her to agree, but the rest of the table unable to hear it. Just then does Emily stroll into the lunch room, hands full of Chick-Fil-A and a megawatt smile. She has a spring in her step and the normal chaos everyone’s used to seeing. Her normal self was back, but Kelley wasn’t sure why (she didn’t want to know why, either). 

 

“Hello there ladies. Today is a wonderful day, isn’t it?” The rest of the team weakly agrees. 

 

“Where were you?” Lindsey asked, her tone more than a little pissed.

 

“Woah, who shit on your avocado toast this morning?” Lindsey just rolled her eyes, continuing to stare at the defender. “Relax, Linds, I just went out to pick something up and buy lunch. The line was a bitch, though. Don’t get your panties in a twist just because I want good food.” People actually buy it. The younger players go on to talking about whatever it was they were originally talking about, Lindsey and Tobin eventually let up, but Kelley doesn’t.

 

Despite only knowing Emily for three days now, Kelley can tell something else happened. The smiles weren’t reaching her eyes, the words didn’t cascade out of her mouth, her legs weren’t bouncing like they should be. 

 

Calc’s a breeze, but Emily’s still acting like this. Like she’s trying to suppress her feelings by faking her way through it. Kelley tries to crack jokes and get Emily to talk, but she gets weak laughs and one-word responses, so eventually she stops trying. Emily’s going through a rough phase right now, but why does it hurt so much? 

 

“Text me when you’re free? Wanna talk to you about something.” Kelley says as they walk through the parking lot, Emily’s attention on her phone. Kelley pretends not to notice the first genuine smile appear on Emily’s face. 

 

“Yeah, I should be free at like 7. We can go get dinner if you want or something.” And just like that, Emily’s attention is back on her phone, thumbs flying to respond to whatever was sent to her. Kelley doesn’t bother to say bye to Emily, opting to just continue walking when she sees that Emily’s perfectly content with being engulfed in her phone. 

 


 

“Hey, I missed you.” Emily smiles hearing her voice. The accent’s faded over time, but it’s still there, and Emily’s still enamored by it.

 

When she looks back on their relationship, it’s hard to think of a time when she wasn’t in love with Hayley. They met in eighth grade, Emily new to Portland, Hayley new to America. It didn’t take long for them to be friends. Emily was outgoing and had the southern charm from growing up in Georgia. Most of the people Emily had met her first day were either planning on joining, or were already on the same club team, Hayley included. They had clicked from the start, and it made loving the Aussie so much easier, especially when the feeling was mutual. Emily isn’t exactly sure when she knew it was love, but one day nothing made sense without Hayley. 

 

Emily’s a hopeless romantic. Her life wouldn’t be the same without the amount of love she has, so that’s why her vice grip on her and Hayley’s relationship would never loosen, could never loosen. She’s never felt that amount of love, and she doesn’t think she ever will again, so she’s tried everything in her power to get her to stay. But after their first breakup, every reconciliation pulled them further and further apart. There was no doubt they still loved each other, but Emily can’t let her go, and Hayley likes having fun. So here they are, getting back together for the sixth time in as many months, hoping for something different to happen. Something that’ll maybe solidify their relationship into more than casual hookups and a kiss here and there. More than one or two dates in the couple weeks it takes before Hayley’s off fucking someone else and Emily’s left heartbroken, again.

 

“Missed you too.” Emily’s convinced herself this is going to work. She can feel it in her bones. 

 

“Come pick me up from school, I wanna take you somewhere.” It’s not very often that they’ll go on a date immediately after getting back together, usually it’s just sex and then one or two dates. All the more reason for Emily to believe they’re going to work this time. Going backwards might be the key.

 

“Does this something require me gone for more than three hours? Kelley asked to see me.” 

 

“No, probably like, an hour tops, babe.” The name sent shivers down Emily’s spine.

 

“Alright, well, I’ll be there in 15. I love you.” It’s a risk to say it right now, but Emily’s willing to take it.

 

“I love you too.” Worth it.

 


 

[saucy sonny]: come over to my house in 15

 

Kelley’s going to pretend that she wasn’t waiting for the past three hours to get that text. She’d opened her textbook to busy herself, but after 30 minutes of reading the same text, she closed it. 

 

She spends just a minute too long getting ready, feeling the need to look good for Emily. She’s come to the conclusion that maybe she has a small crush on Emily. And maybe she’s never felt this amount of jealousy, ever. Not when she’s been snubbed a starting spot, or cut from a roster.

 

She gets to Emily’s house in 20 minutes, and then takes another five to figure out how she wants to tell Emily that she knows about Hayley. She knows what’s happened in the past, and that maybe Emily shouldn’t go back to her. 

 

She pushes down the final thought that crossed her mind before ringing the doorbell, the plan to just tell Emily how she feels and to win the blonde over. That’s silly and too reckless for Kelley to handle. She needs stability. 

 

“Hey Kel.” Emily says when she opens the door. She’s smiling, and Kelley is too. The nerves dissipating once she sees Emily’s soft eyes.

 

“Hey. Wanna go get dinner?” Kelley hasn’t even stepped inside the Sonnett residence yet. 

 

“Yeah sure, let me get my keys.” Kelley waited outside Emily’s door for the minute it takes her to get her keys. Emily emerged from the front door with her lanyard, a coat, and a baseball cap on. How she got that all in the span of 60 seconds, Kelley will never know. 

 

“Where we headed, Ms. Kelley?” 

 

“I’m in the mood for some waffles. Would kill for some WaHo right about now.” Emily hums in agreement as she starts her car up, her Spotify immediately connecting. “This is the new playlist you were talking about, isn’t it.” 

 

“Maybe. Why, you like it?” Emily had a smirk on her face that Kelley found so, so cute. 

 

“Maybe I do, sue me.”

 

“I made it for you. Took me many, many hours to perfect it.” Emily said while rolling to a stop. She turned to face Kelley and smiled. 

 

“You sap.” Kelley joked and Emily shrugged her shoulders. The rest of the drive to Emily’s favorite diner is spent listening to the playlist named ‘Ms. Kelley’ (Kelley wouldn’t know it’s title until she downloads it later that night, though) and telling awful jokes. 

 

The waffles are classic. Fluffy and light, filling the girls’ stomachs up. Kelley won’t admit it, but they might be the best waffles she’s ever had. 

 

“You ready for your tryouts on Saturday?” Emily says while chewing, and Kelley finds it disgusting.

 

“First of all, swallow your food before speaking again.” Emily makes an obnoxious motion to swallow the last bit of waffle in her mouth, her throat bobbing up and down. “And yeah, I’m super pumped. Can’t wait to beat your ass once I make the team.” 

 

“You seem awfully confident for someone who just moved here. Those freshmen’ll surprise you, just saying.”

 

“I think I can manage.” They dissolve into talking about soccer (more like arguing about which club is better: Tottenham or Arsenal. Emily argues Tottenham because they can actually win and Kelley arguing… nevermind) and then school. “You don’t know how lucky you are, not having to worry about college apps or shit like that.”

 

“Just got lucky.” Emily said while playing with a sugar packet. 

 

“Why’d you choose Virginia?” Kelley inquires. 

 

“I don’t know. They wanted me, it’s close to Georgia, they have a great program. The list goes on and on.”

 

“You don’t seem very enthusiastic about it.”

 

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked Virginia even looked at me, but compared to where Tobin and Chris and Lex are going, UVA doesn’t really compare.” Tobin had committed to UNC, Christen to Stanford, and Alex to UC Berkeley. 

 

“UVA’s still a powerhouse, though. I think you’ll do great there, for what it’s worth.” Emily stopped playing with the sugar packet and smiled to herself. Sometimes she just needed a compliment or two to feel better.

 

“Can’t wait to see you play later this week. I have a feeling that we can beat PHS with you on our team.” 

 

“Speaking of Portland, what’s with you and Hayley?” The bubble they were in seemed to have broken. The color in Emily’s face drained and her eyebrows knitted together. Her hand clenched around the sugar packet in her hand, and Kelley feared that it would burst, based on how tight Emily has it gripped.

Chapter Text

“How do you know about her?” Emily asked through a clenched jaw. 

 

“Alex and the girls told me. Em, I’m worried about you.” Kelley tried to make her voice as soothing as possible, not wanting Emily to blow up at 8 pm on a Wednesday, in the middle of a diner.

 

“No, the girls don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m fine, Kelley. You don’t need to babysit me.” 

 

“Em, I’m not trying to babysit you. I just don’t want to see what she does to you.” Emily scoffed and called the waitress over to get the check. 

 

“She doesn’t do anything to me. I’m fine, just hop off my back.” The waitress came back and handed Emily the check, who then paid in cash and stood up from the booth. Kelley had to scramble to catch up to Emily who was already halfway out the door by the time Kelley stood up.

 

They drove back home in silence, no music playing. The tension in the air is heavy, and Kelley’s heart could be heard if you really listened, that’s how quiet it was. She didn’t dare to steal a glance at Emily, too afraid of upsetting the blonde furthermore. 

 

“Em, she’s just going to hurt you again.” Kelley whispered once Emily had stopped the car in her driveway. She noticed the way Emily’s hands clenched around the steering wheel, to ultimately loosen and for her to turn her head. 

 

“You don’t know that. You don’t even know her. She told me she loved me. That’s never happened when we get back together. I just know we’re going to be good again.” Emily’s voice breaks at the end, and it takes every ounce of concentration for Kelley to not look at Emily. Because once she looks, it’d be real. Emily would fall in an unrequited love and trap her there, only to hurt her in the end. So she doesn’t turn her head, only gives her a weak,

 

“I just don’t want to see you hurt.” And gets out of the car towards her own. Once she gets home she allows the first tear to fall. A tear that doesn’t even deserve to be falling, because Emily isn’t hers. Emily probably won’t ever be hers, and that thought alone wracks sobs throughout her body. 

 

This was a shitty third day.

 


 

“Hi, love.”

 

“We’re like, together again, right? Like, we’re trying this for real this time, no more of this hooking up bullshit, right?” Emily didn’t give Hayley time to process what she just said, three seconds into their call. “Because I don’t think I’d be able to handle losing you again. I love you too much to do that.” 

 

Hayley stays quiet for a second, and Emily hopes and prays it’s because she’s processing. 

 

“I mean, yeah. Are you having second thoughts?” Emily lets out a sigh of relief.

 

“No. I’ve never been more sure of something in my life, babe.” They fall asleep on the phone, the sounds of light snores and deep breathing fill Emily’s ears before she too, drifts off into dreamland.

 

She only remembers one thing about her dream the next morning. Hazel eyes and freckles that spread for eternity.

 


 

Kelley got a grand total of three hours of sleep last night. Her eyes are red and drooping, the bags under her eyes are still dark. She’s highly irritable and still a little upset with Emily, so when Kelley walks into Gov, she doesn’t even spare a glance at the perky blonde. Kelley can feel Emily’s eyes on her throughout class, and she starts to feel bad about ignoring her. There was no reason for Kelley to avoid Emily. Emily wasn’t hers to begin with, and she’s perfectly capable of controlling her own life. 

 

They don’t talk until study hall, when Kelley asks for extra pencil lead because she ran out. Emily takes this opportunity to talk to Kelley.

 

“Are you ok?” Kelley just gives her a less than convincing hum while clicking her mechanical pencil to get the lead going. “Bullshit. What’s wrong?” 

 

“It’s nothing. Probably just a little tired, had homework to do last night, ya know.” The lie slips off her tongue, and somehow the blonde believes it. She’s got that smile on her face and her eyes are soft. Kelley could get lost in those eyes for hours. 

 

“Wanna ditch?” Kelley’s eyes go wide and her eyebrows raise. She’s never missed a day of school, let alone skipped intentionally.

 

“School?” Emily could sense the panic in the brunette’s voice and was quick to reassure her.

 

“No, no. Like, get lunch and come back later. We don’t have to, just wanted to hang out with you.” She finished with a shrug of her shoulders and slouched back into her chair. 

 

“Sure, why not. We just gotta be back before lunch ends, don’t want to be late.” 

 

“Dork.” Kelley threw her pencil at Emily, who caught it with ease.

 

“I just want to be punctual, Em.” Emily mocks Kelley, and soon they’re slipping into playful banter like nothing happened last night. 

 


 

“So tell me, Ms. Kelley, how’s the first four days of Oregon been for our Georgia peach?” Emily said while finishing off the last of her burrito bowl. After five minutes of back and forth ‘what do you want to eat’, they finally decided on Chipotle.

 

“Not bad. I met this girl that’s just something else.” 

 

“Really? Do tell.” Emily had a smirk on her face. 

 

“Well she’s funny, and smart, and gay. Three very important characteristics in my mind.” Kelley said and a slight shade of pink appeared on Emily’s face. “How has the last four days been for our former Georgia peach?” 

 

“Pretty great. I met this girl running to English and we became friends, like, instantly. She’s pretty cool, I guess. Came from Georgia, is a defender, pretends she’s funny. She’s got really pretty eyes, too.” 

 

“Emily Sonnett, are you flirting with me?” Kelley says while trying to hide the obvious blush that has crept onto her skin. 

 

“Just my observations, Ms. O’Hara.”  

 

There really was no reason for Kelley to be so hung up about the comment Emily had made during lunch. But here she sits, an hour later, replaying the conversation in her head and wondering if the outcome would’ve been different if Hayley wasn’t in the picture. Because for whatever reason, Kelley gets a bad taste in her mouth whenever the other girl is mentioned.

 

She chalks it up as looking out for a friend, and not because the jealousy stemming from an ever growing crush on Emily.

Chapter Text

The last two days of Kelley’s first week in Portland come and go, and the weekend rolls around. She isn’t nervous about tryouts. In fact, she’s confident, because back in Georgia, she was one of the best in the state. She was being scouted and in serious consideration to be called up to the youth national team, but a broken ankle came and the recruits passed. 

 

The missed opportunity hurt the most. She was careless with her slide tackle and got a boot to the bone, spikes up, and missing the opportunity to play at the next level was what stung the most. She doesn’t remember the winter of sophomore season, when she got the injury, but she remembers the spring when her parents had told her they were moving cross country for her dad’s job in the summer.

 

She was beyond sad. All she knew was Georgia, how was she going to be able to live someplace like Portland? The sun was out for 15 minutes a day, it rained constantly, and there was no soccer. How could she like a place that she’s never been to? 

 

Kelley quickly learned that Portland was nothing like she thought it was. The northwest got hot, and the sun was constantly shining. Everyone was friendly and surprisingly accepting, but the thing that Kelley loved the most was the city’s collective love for soccer. She had learned quickly that Portland was the soccer town, being able to join pick up games at the local parks almost any time. 

 

So yeah, Kelley isn’t nervous. She’s playing the game she loves, how could she be? 

 

Turns out she isn’t as good as she thought she was, at least, in comparison to Emily. No wonder she’s already committed to a D-1 school in junior year. Emily looks so graceful on the pitch, so eloquent. Her tackles are always timed to perfection, and she’s got a monster boot. She could smash the ball from her box to the other box with ease, and Kelley’s stood in shock when she watches Emily tackle Tobin for possession and clear it out to Lindsey, a good 80 yards away. Centerback and fullbacks are two completely different positions, but defense is defense and with just her and Emily on the right, it’s a damn good backline.

 

“Holy fuck Em. You’re so good.” Kelley pants out during a water break. It was a regular practice for everyone else, but the coach knew about Kelley’s impressive resume, so he allowed her to jump into practice as a tryout. 

 

“You’re not too bad yourself, Kel.” Emily said before squirting a stream of water in her mouth. Some of it sprays out of Emily’s mouth, onto her chin, so she lifts up her training top to wipe it off, and Kelley’s in awe again. Emily has abs, almost everyone on this team does, but hers are different. Hers has a defined V-line above her hips and taut muscles that are contracting and flexing with every heavy breath she takes. Kelley’s own breath catches a little bit and she can feel her face heating up, but is lucky the immense amount of sweating she’s done covers it. 

 

“I’m serious. No wonder you’re going to Virginia.” 

 

“Trust me, Kel. You’re going to go somewhere much better than UVA and thrive there. Just wait.” 

 

They scrimmage at the end. It’s 6v6 and Emily and Kelley are on the same team. No one manages to score from the right side, and Kelley racks up a goal and two assists. They were in sync without talking, a non-verbal synchronization that even people who’ve been playing together for years don’t have. It’s exciting, and fast, and everything that Kelley loves in the game of soccer, compressed into the ten minutes it takes for their team to mercy rule Julie’s. 

 

The coach calls Kelley at 6 pm, three hours after tryouts ended, to tell her she made the team. She’s happy, beyond happy, and the first thing she wants to do is call Emily, but Emily’s on a date right now, and so Kelley has to be happy with someone else. Someone who she doesn’t want to be happy with, because she wants to be happy with Emily. So she calls Alex, her next closest friend besides Emily, and gushes about how thrilled she is that she made the team. Alex tells her that she was guaranteed to make the team the second she stepped on the field, but Kelley’s too humble to agree. Because honestly, she knew she would make the team no problem. 

 

Alex tells Kelley how she got captaincy, and Kelley’s proud of her friend, because Alex is good. She’s been on the youth national teams and is one of the top ten college recruits. She’s got that competitive edge that’s going to take her far away places, and she’s got the leadership skills of someone who was born to captain a team. (She has no doubts that one day in the future, Alex will be the captain at the World Cup or the Olympics.)

 

Emily calls at 10:30. Kelley’s getting ready for bed when her phone rings and Emily’s name appears at the top of her screen. She answers with a smile on her face, and a:

 

“It’s awfully late to be calling, isn’t it Em?” She could hear the enormous eye roll elicited from Emily, but teasing is always fun.

 

“It’s 10:30, Kel. The night is young.” 

 

“Did you hear?” Kelley can’t contain her happiness, finally being able to talk to Emily. 

 

“About?” Emily asks dumbly, very obviously knowing what Kelley’s talking about.

 

“Me! I made the team! And Alex is captain! Isn’t that great?” 

 

“Yeah. It’s great.” Emily’s tone drops, sadness evident. 

 

“Em? What’s wrong?” 

 

“Nothing it’s just-” Kelley can hear a slight sniffle and the clearing of Emily’s throat. “I was supposed to be captain. Coach told me before the year started that I was going to be captain, but then Alex had gotten called into camp and I wasn’t. I mean, it shouldn’t really bother me. Attacking players are more likely to get called up and to be better leaders, but it just stings a little.” 

 

“Oh Em. I’m sorry for bringing it up. If it makes you feel better, I think defenders make better captains. They’re in the game longer, harder to injure, tough as fuck.” She hears Emily laugh a little, happy that she’s making Emily loosen up a little. “Wanna get waffles?” 

 

“Hell. Fucking. Yeah.” That seemed to recharge Emily. “I’ll pick you up in 15.”

 


 

“Do you ever miss Georgia?” They finished dinner and have been sitting in the parking lot for the past hour, time slipping away from them.

 

“Yeah. Whenever it rains, or the sky turns gray and cloudy. That’s usually when I miss it.” Emily’s been kicking a rock for the past 10 minutes and Kelley’s entranced at the repetitive motions she’s doing. “The summer of eighth grade, I missed it so bad. I only knew Georgia. I grew up going to Atlanta to watch the Braves play and whatnot, so it was a surreal experience to not be around it. The southern heat, the homophobes, everything. Over time it gets better though. You start realizing just how great Portland is.” 

 

“I never thought I’d live anywhere else besides there. I always thought that I’d live the rest of my days in Peachtree, or Atlanta. It’s weird thinking about how we just moved across the country.” Emily’s managed to balance the rock on the top of her shoe, flicking it up in the air and hitting it off the volley into the street.

 

“You’re crazy.” 

 

“You dig it.” Kelley has to look down to hide the blazing blush that’s shown up on her face. She shouldn’t be acting like this. She knows better.

 

“No I don’t.”

 

“Yeah you do.” Emily says while walking up to where Kelley was sitting on the curb, hands on her hips.

 

“How would you know what I wanted?” Kelley quit thinking reasonably. When Emily had challenged her, all rational thoughts went out the window. 

 

“I can just tell. Who wouldn’t dig this?” She said while gesturing up and down her body. It made Kelley’s body burn and her palms start to sweat.

 

“I know I do.” Kelley watched as an impossibly wide grin appeared on Emily’s face before the other defender whipped around to find her standing there, wrapped in a UVA sweatshirt. It wasn’t even cold this time of year, so there was no reason for the extra layer. 

 

“Hey there.” Emily said. They were in a trance before Kelley’s clearing her throat and standing up from her perch on the curb. “Oh! Babe, this is Kelley. Kelley, this is Hayley.” 

 

“It’s nice to meet you, Kelley. Em won’t stop talking about you.” She’s nice, she’s pretty, she has a really cool accent. Makes sense that Emily’s in love with her, but Kelley still has a bad taste in her mouth when she reaches for Hayley’s extended hand to shake.

 

“Nice to meet you as well.” Hayley was smiling, and Kelley was uncomfortable. “I better head out soon, Emily. Don’t want to get in trouble with the ‘rents.” She said with a forced chuckle. If she acted like it wasn’t as awkward as it was, no one would notice.

 

“I drove you here, though.” Emily called out as Kelley walked towards the front of the diner.

 

“Nonsense! I just ordered an Uber. Go have fun!” Kelley replied over her shoulder, ignoring the tightness in her chest and the burning sensation at the back of her eyes. 

 

Five minutes later, when she’s hopping into the back of her Uber’s car, she watches as Emily and Hayley kiss against the blonde’s car door, ignoring the tears falling down her cheeks and the immense amount of weight on her body. It feels like three elephants are stacked on top of her, that’s how tight her chest is. 

 

It’s not her business to get into, she knows that. It’s not her life and relationship, it’s not her race against inevitability, but why does it feel like it is? 

 

Why does she feel like every minute decision she makes starting now could topple over something this fragile, something that shouldn’t be fragile in the first place?

 

Kelley decides on two things that night:

  1. She can’t be involved with this. No matter what happens, someone will end up hurt.
  2. She needs to put a wall up.

Chapter Text

Emily spent the better part of the night in her notebook. Hayley’s parents went to Las Vegas for the week, so she spent the night there. She’s restless and hyperactive at three in the morning, so she does what’s always been able to ground her: write. 

 

It’s simple little notes about her day, but it keeps her brain in check. She starts with tryouts, how she was disappointed when coach told Alex she’d be captain, and how Kelley had asked her to go to dinner. If she looks back on it, Kelley’s been taking up more and more space in her notebook than any other person. 

 

She writes about getting dinner, how easy it is to talk to Kelley, and how quickly she left once Hayley showed up. She writes about how Kelley had called her ‘Emily’, instead of ‘Em’, and how weird it made Emily feel. How oddly serious and upset Kelley looked when Hayley showed up.

 

Emily’s an observer, more than anything. She likes looking between the lines and searching for the little details in a person. She likes breaking through tough exteriors to find softer, kinder interiors of people she meets. Maybe that’s why people categorize her as insanely extroverted, but in reality she’s introverted. She likes her core group of friends, she likes staying in rather than going out. She’s outgoing, sure, but she isn’t extroverted. 

 

Emily’s an introvert with ADHD. She got diagnosed four months before moving to Portland. No one was really surprised, she had all the precursors and arrows that pointed to her inability to focus and stay on task, as well as her impulsivity that had lead to her getting in trouble multiple times. 

 

The Adderall helped a lot, but she never felt whole when she took it. There was always a sense of hollowness during days in which she took the drug. She felt suppressed. Her chest felt tight and her brain would get foggy, and it didn’t help that she never had an appetite. She’s been weaning off of it, would rather feel hyperactive and jittery all day than to not feel anything at all. 

 

She never really felt like she fit in, in Georgia. She was on the cusp of every group of friends she had. They were nice and friendly, but they probably wouldn’t bat an eye if she had left. They wouldn’t really invite her to hang out, and it hurt. That’s when she began writing. She’d make observations of anything, really. People probably thought she was crazy, but it was her way of disconnecting from the world. That, and soccer. 

 

Her parents put her and Emma into soccer when they were little tots, and Emily had instantly felt something for the sport. Maybe it wasn’t love quite yet, the running and cluster of children chasing after a ball on uneven ground wasn’t her exact forte as a child, but she grew up and the competition got harder, and she loved it. 

 

She knew at six years old that this was something she wanted to do. She wanted to be like Mia Hamm, scoring goals left and right for the women’s national team. And she would score goals, many, many goals in her youth, but then she got to Portland and an injury forced her central midfielder position to drop down. To center back. Emily went from scoring goals to stopping them, but she was a soccer player. She could willingly adapt to any position her coaches wanted her if it meant she’d be able to play. 

 

Adapting to west coast living was difficult, to say the least, but she knew it wasn’t nearly as bad as moving to a new country. Emily met Hayley the first day of eighth grade. Her accent was heavy and Emily was interested. It took some time for Hayley to open up to Emily, but she made it her job to figure Hayley out. 

 

They were best friends. It was so easy for their friendship to turn into something more, that no one was surprised when it did. It was good all freshman year, Emily was going to Beaverton and Hayley to Portland. They loved each other, but then their first break happened. She had said it was due to lack of time and she was trying hard to make varsity, so Emily let her go. It was tough the first couple months, but then the summer came and Hayley was on her doorstep asking her out, and that’s when the snowball started. 

 

As of junior year, they’ve broken up fourteen times. Emily never seemed to be enough and the forward would end things, only to come back in a month to get back together. It put a dent in Emily’s self-esteem and self-worth, but the thing holding them together was their love. She thought that this year, the hardest year of high school, was going to be hell. They had broken up a week before classes began, after Hayley had told her she doesn’t want Emily to leave her side, doesn’t want Emily to lose their love. 

 

It was difficult to get out of bed the next day. Her body was tired and sore from training, and weak from crying all night. She was broken for eight days. It took eight days for the sobs to stop, and eight days for her to put on a genuine smile. Eight days after they broke up, Emily met Kelley. 

 

She’s different than anyone else Emily has had the pleasure of meeting - of observing. There was a strong sense of humor in her, Emily noticed. That first day, Emily had felt a sense of familiarity in Kelley. It was just easier to talk to her than to anyone else. Lindsey was mad at her for going back to Hayley, and her parents stopped caring two months ago, so she had no outlet. No place to let her emotions go and for the walls to come down enough to feel better. Kelley wasn’t the outlet, but a different emotion took over instead: happiness. Maybe that’s why Emily was so quick to go back to her, because she was happy. She was able to wholly love Hayley without guilt or a deeper feeling overtaking her. 

 

At the party, they were having a great time. Emily could tell Kelley was drunk, and while she could keep her drink down and have a relatively strong alcohol tolerance, she was getting tipsy. She was making those irrational, impulsive decisions again. She had asked Kelley to play beer pong with her, and it was fun until they were hugging for longer than average, and Emily had felt something else besides the alcohol coursing through her veins. She wouldn’t be able to act on this feeling, because Lindsey was dragging her in for more drinks and that’s when she found Hayley, sitting on the counter, looking better than ever. 

 

It’s always been easy to take Hayley back. She always knew what Emily wanted and needed, so getting second, third, fourth chances from the blonde was easy. It would always take a little longer each time they got back together, but by the third or fourth day they were together like nothing happened. This time though, Emily took her back in thirty minutes. Maybe it was to clear her mind from her complicated feelings, or because she truly did love Hayley enough to take her back again. And she allowed herself to fall back in with Hayley because there was no way Kelley could feel the same way. Emily was developing a crush on someone she’s known for three days, it’s almost impossible for the other end to feel the same way. 

 

Little did she know.

Chapter Text

 

Did you know that if you don’t feel something the first three days you meet someone, there’s no chemistry? Kelley knew the moment she laid eyes on Emily there was something, so she’s not exactly mad that Emily’s unavailable. Her mom always told her, “don’t question timing, it’ll always work out in the end.” and those are words she lives by, because time has a funny way of working. It can bring absolute terror and agony in one instance, and utter joy and a profound sense of pride or happiness in another.

 

So she’s not mad when Emily comes to lunch on Monday, with a (poorly) covered up hickey. The team is pestering the poor girl about it, but Kelley doesn’t join in because she shouldn’t. She’s a better person, a better friend, than that. Kelley tries to stay quiet about it, but when Ashlyn’s turning her attention towards Kelley to get her input, it’s hard to stay quiet.

 

“Alright O’Hara, what do you think about Sonnett’s hickey?” Everyone had gone quiet, eagerly awaiting the new girl’s opinion.

 

“I think that Sonnett’s entitled to do whatever she wants. It’s her life.” Kelley said, twirling her fork in her hand and looking anywhere but Emily’s confused gaze. 

 

“Lame.” Ashlyn said, turning her attention back to the loud group of girls still talking about Emily. Kelley could feel the blonde’s eyes bore into her, and she desperately tried to not look up, afraid of what she’d see in Emily. Hurt? Maybe. Confusion? Definitely.

 

Emily had grown quiet as well, not bothered to deny everything that the rest of the team was saying. The only thing she was focused on was the girl three feet away, two chairs down. The loud crowd of the packed lunchroom fading into muffled voices, and everything surrounding Kelley had faded into a haze. She had her head down, like she was purposely avoiding Emily, and her salad hadn’t been touched in a couple minutes. 

 

“Sonnett! Are you going to OP today or are you going to be too busy hanging with your girlfriend?” OP, or optional practice, was something that Emily’s been known to miss every once in a while, mostly due to Hayley.

 

“I’ll have you know, she has regular practice today, so I will be in attendance.” Emily said with a smug look on her face. She fell back into conversation, but didn’t miss how Kelley had gotten up to supposedly use the bathroom. She waited a moment before following her out of the room, staying a couple steps back. 

 

“You good?” Emily asks once they’re both inside the bathroom.

 

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Kelley said from the stall, any uncomfort with the current situation they’re in indistinguishable.

 

“You left pretty quickly, just wanted to check in on you.” She propped herself on the wall facing the sinks, legs crossed and leaning.

 

“Just had to piss, Sonnett. Nothing’s wrong.” Kelley said almost sarcastically, opening the stall door and making her way to the sink. 

 

“Are you sure? Seems like you’re upset about something.” 

 

“Seems pretty weird that we’re diving into feelings in this gross school bathroom, Sonnett.” Kelley said while motioning for Emily to scoot over, the blonde blocking Kelley’s path to the paper towels, but Emily didn’t move. Instead, she stayed put.

 

“That! That’s what’s wrong! You’re calling me ‘Sonnett’ or ‘Emily’, why?” 

 

“Because that’s your name?” Kelley stated, confusion in her voice. It wasn’t until she knew for sure Emily wouldn’t move that she started shaking her hands violently, flicking water onto herself and Emily. 

 

“H- hey! Stop that! You’re getting me all wet!” Kelley immediately stopped and burst into laughter, Emily becoming bright red. It was nowhere near the intention Kelley had in mind, but it still had her in stitches. 

 

“I’m crying! Oh god, Em, that was funny.” Kelley said in heavy breath, wiping the tears escaping her eyes with the back of her hand while calming down. Emily, in turn, smiled wide and bright after hearing the name escape Kelley’s lips.

 

“Are you going to OP today?” Emily was still staring at Kelley when she asked the question. She must’ve noticed though, because her gaze quickly falls to the floor and she just hums in confirmation.

 

“Let’s make a bet.” Emily starts, Kelley’s eyes darting up, interest peaked. “If we scrimmage today, and we’re on different teams, whoever allows fewer goals has dinner paid for for the next month.” Kelley pursed her lips while thinking about the proposal, before ultimately sticking her hand out for Emily to shake.

 

“You have yourself a deal, Ms. Sonnett.” 

 

“Pleasure doing business, Ms. Kelley.” They let their hands still for a moment, enjoying the warmth from the other person and the feeling of each other’s hands.

 

(Kelley could swear she felt electricity.)

 

(Emily would too.)

 


 

“Gov can kiss my ass.” Kelley states while stretching her back out, feeling the knots beginning to form from staying hunched over for the past three hours. She heard Emily laugh over the poor audio quality of FaceTime.

 

“It’s not that bad, Kel.” Emily said, tapping a pencil against her desk.

 

“It’s pretty bad, Em.” For a moment the two just stared at each other, until Emily attention was diverted by a notification on her phone.

 

“Shit. I gotta go, I’m late for my date.” Kelley’s smile dropped and was replaced by a tight lip smile, nodding her head and letting the blonde end the call. She shouldn’t be surprised. Emily’s been hanging up their calls almost daily now for the past two weeks, a date or incoming call always being the reason. The great Portland Derby is in four days, and Kelley can’t wait to kick Hayley’s ass. 

 

Beaverton’s gone undefeated in the early season, playing four games already and having three shutouts. The school year is well in now, and Kelley and Emily have grown to being best friends. They know almost everything about each other, and it’s getting harder and harder for Kelley to stay an unbiased friend when she can feel their breakup looming. It’s going to happen soon, she knows it.

 

Apparently they always slip into the same pattern: getting back together, not leaving each other’s sides, then not talking for extended periods of time. Kelley could tell they were at that second stage, inching closer and closer to not talking, beginning, as Rose and Lindsey would say, the Heartbreak Cycle. 

 

But it’s not Kelley’s job to loom over Emily and wait for her to break down. It’s her job to play soccer and study hard so she can get into a good college to continue playing soccer. That’s always been her job. So she doesn’t need to watch Emily like a hawk, but she sure as hell wants to. She wants to be there to catch Emily whenever she starts falling, so she sits on her heels until the opportunity to catch her arises. 

 

It’s a mild September night, the night preceding the great Portland Derby, when it happens. When Kelley’s whole life flips in the three hour span with Emily.

Chapter Text

[saucy sonny]: come over. 

 

[Ms. Kelley]: Why?

 

[saucy sonny]: i did something impulsive. i think you’ll like it though

 

And Kelley’s not going to just, like, not go. She wants to see what Emily did on a Sunday night, one day before the biggest regular season game of the year. The team has been preparing for this game since their first practice, watching film on Portland’s team and coming up with new tactics to throw them off. Apparently, Beaverton lost to Portland last year 3-0, so they need to come out guns ablazing. No one on the team will settle for anything less than a win, and it’s evident. Practices are a little more physical, there’s more of an edge for the 18 girls looking to beat their rival.

 

It’s no different for Kelley. She’s never been more focused as a defender in her entire life. She’s been so focused and so in the zone, that she forgets about her small (very, very large) crush on Emily and the fact that Emily hasn’t been talking about Hayley nearly as much as she used to. They were on the downward.

 

Emily did, in fact, do something impulsive. Something very, very impulsive that has Kelley’s heart racing and her unsure of what to do. 

 

“Well are you going to say anything?” Emily pleads while Kelley stands in shock at what Emily told her.

 

“Why? Why’d you do that?” Kelley says after a moment, finally remembering how to speak after that huge bomb was dropped.

 

“Well I’ve been thinking about it lately and thought it was about time. You’re the first person to know, besides my parents and Emma.” 

 

“Your parents just let you?” Kelley asks dumbfounded.

 

“Duh. I’ve done everything I need to do in high school and this is my reward! Can you hold her? I need to grab something downstairs.” Kelley took a moment to look at her, the gray and black dog in Emily’s hands, before nodding. Emily had been talking about adopting Bagel for the past two weeks after coming across the pup at the animal shelter. 

 

“You’re a little cutie, aren’t ya?” Kelley says in a high voice, accepting the kisses Bagel gives her on her chin and cheek. She lets the dog crawl over her legs and chest while waiting for Emily to come back to the room. 

 

While she’s waiting, two things are constantly happening: Bagel is licking her chin and fingers, and Emily’s phone is blowing up with texts. It gets persistent and annoying enough for Kelley to walk over to the bed where it’s sitting and turn the ringer off. She thinks that they’re going to be from Lindsey or the group chat which wouldn’t be unexpected, except her phone isn’t on silent mode and she’d be able to feel the wave of texts coming. So, checking over her shoulder to confirm Emily isn’t coming in, she flips the phone over and glances over the 20 texts she’s received in the past minute. She’s shocked that Emily doesn’t keep her phone password protected, but it’s so, so helpful in this scenario. All the texts were from Hayley, and they all had the same guilt and regret in it. There’s one in particular, though, that catches Kelley’s eye.

 

[raso raso]: babe i’m so sorry but i got jealous. i didn’t mean to, i promise

 

What’d she have to be jealous about? She wants to dive deeper, to continue reading, but she hears Emily’s heavy footsteps getting closer and closer to the room and throws the phone down while picking Bagel up in one swift motion.

 

“Alright, Ms. Kelley, would you like to bathe Bagel with me?” Kelley feels so bad that less than a foot away from her lies the worst news Emily’s received in weeks, so she puts a fake smile on and agrees. Anything to get Emily away from her phone and delay the chain of events bound to happen.

 

“Shit, let me get my phone so I can play some music.” Emily says while getting up from her seated position at the tub, and Kelley’s never sprung into action faster.

 

“No! I mean, the water’s almost warm and I have my phone. We can play music through that.” Emily eyes her skeptically before shrugging her shoulders and dropping back to the tile floor, rolling the sleeves of her sweatshirt up so they don’t get wet. 

 

That’s all for naught when Bagel shakes in the tub, causing water to fling all over the both of them. Kelley’s so caught up in laughing that she almost doesn’t notice when Emily’s hauling her sweatshirt off, leaving her in a sports bra. Keyword, almost. 

 

“Woah there, Em. Buy me dinner first before stripping.” She’s trying to tease, but it comes out flat and there’s no way Emily doesn’t notice the increasing amount of rose in Kelley’s face.

 

“I actually have, multiple times. You also need to buy me dinner though. I seem to recall a bet from OP that you lost.” She says smugly, and it takes all the willpower in Kelley to not splash water in Emily’s face, but the rational part of her knows that’ll lead to a bigger mess.

 

“After we wash Bagel I’ll buy you whatever your heart desires.” She doesn’t mean to make it flirty, but that’s how it comes out and Emily stays quiet for a second. 

 

“It’s fine, I was just joking. I like buying your food.”

 

“And why is that?” Kelley’s trying to bring back the playfulness in their conversation to make this exponentially less awkward, but her voice gets caught in her throat and it’s quiet when she says it.

 

“I like hanging out with you. You get me, somehow.” Kelley can barely hear her over the roar of the faucet, but she doesn’t miss when Emily takes a look over at Kelley for a little too long, and she immediately diverts her eyes to the wet dog in front of them. “And I’m probably going to be single again soon.” 

 

“Why do you say that?” She tries not to make it obvious that Emily’s 100% right.

 

“It’s always like this. We haven’t talked in two days, so she’s probably out fucking someone as we speak.” Oh, the irony. 

 

“Em, you can’t think like that.” And everything in Kelley’s mind is telling her to check her phone, to end her suffering. She lets out a small, bitter laugh, turning the faucet off and getting on her feet.

 

“I’m not thinking, Kel. I know. This shit happens every fucking time and I’m too weak to let her go.” Tears have started spilling out of her eyes now. “God, I wish someone could just love me as much as I love them.”

 

“There’s someone out there, I promise.” She has to bite her tongue to not let the next part slip out. To not let the “I can be that person” slip out and ruin their relationship. Their completely platonic relationship.

 

(Kelley wishes it wasn’t platonic.)

 

(Maybe Emily does too.)

 

Kelley subconsciously wraps Emily up in a hug, feeling the rise and fall of the taller girl’s chest as she calms her breathing down. She’s hyper-aware that Emily is indeed shirtless.

 

“Thanks, Kel. You’re a great friend.” Kelley cringes at the fact she just got friend-zoned. “You’ll find someone too.” 

 

They stand there, hugging, until Bagel’s yipping and clawing the edge of the tub, and then they're slowly pulling back, slightly breathless. Their breathing was synchronized and Kelley could see the flex of Emily’s abs with each heavy breath.

 

“Can I get a new shirt? Mine’s all wet.” Kelley says just to break the tension rising, afraid of what could happen if they stayed like this for too long. Emily just nods her head and points to the dresser while picking Bagel up from the tub, wrapping the dog in a towel.

 

Kelley settles for a UVA soccer shirt. It’s light gray with the signature cavalier orange and blue and a little oversized, but she feels drawn to it. She pulls it on, instantly smelling Emily on it. When she turns back around to go to the bathroom, Emily’s already out, Bagel in hand. She propped up against the doorframe looking… well- she looks hot. In her sports bra and sweatshirt with a cute dog in her arms.

 

“That’s my favorite shirt, Ms. Kelley.” Kelley blushes and flicks her gaze down to the hardwood floor.

 

“Sorry. I’ll take it off if you want.” Kelley’s already grabbing the hem of the shirt, prepared to pull it off, when Emily just waves her off and moves to her phone on the bed.

 

Her phone, with all 20+ texts from Hayley. Kelley can’t move fast enough to stop Emily from turning her phone on and the sly smirk on her face is replaced by a frown. And then tears.

 

It happens too fast. One moment, Emily’s standing at the foot of her bed, eyes filling with tears and scanning her phone, and the next she’s climbing out the bay window onto the roof. Kelley’s a little shocked at how fast everything happened, but once she’s able to comprehend that Emily needs support right now, she’s climbing up to the roof and cautiously sitting next to Emily. Emily, who has her head buried in her knees and her whole body shaking.

 

“Em…” She trails it off, not sure what to say.

 

“I fucking knew it. I shouldn’t even be sad. She’s done this bullshit enough times.” Emily cries, wrapping her arms around Kelley and burying her head in the space where Kelley’s neck and shoulder meet. Kelley rubs her back, trying to calm her down as much as possible.

 

“You deserve so much better, Em.” Kelley whispers into Emily’s hairline. “So, so much better.”

 

They stayed like that until Emily calmed down, Kelley whispering words of affirmation and rubbing hypnotic patterns into Emily’s back.

 

“Thanks for that.” Emily said, head still in the base of Kelley’s neck.

 

“For what?”

 

“For being here with me.” Emily’s hand found its way under Kelley’s (Emily’s) shirt, her cold hand making Kelley’s breath hitch. “You’re breathing funny.” She calls out.

 

“Shut up.” She tries desperately to regain calmness in her breathing, but when Emily’s hands is lingering like it is, that task gets harder and harder. “I want to be here.” Kelley can feel more than see Emily’s head detach from her shoulder, eyebrow probably raised. “I want to be here with you. You thanked me for being here, but I’m telling you that there’s no place I’d rather be.

 

“You’re like, insanely awesome at everything you do. Em, you have no idea how good you are at soccer. You’re going to be on the national team and starting and winning medals and tournaments. You’re smart, and funny, and the sweetest person I’ve ever met, and it’s Hayley’s loss-” Emily kisses her.

 

It’s heavy, and rushed, and completely unexpected that Kelley’s eyes are still open before relaxing into it. And, well, Emily’s a good kisser. A really good kisser, and it’s something Kelley can get used to, except this is all out of adrenaline and false motives. 

 

She stiffens, causing Emily to pull back, and the look on Kelley’s face could make her cry again. She looked ashamed, shocked, and confused all at the same time. 

 

“Shit, Kel. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. Oh fuck. I don’t know what happened there, I’m sorry. Just forget about it, nothing happened. I didn’t even feel anything.” The rational part of Kelley, that’s had to make many appearances as of late, tells her that of course Emily felt something. She wouldn’t have initiated the kiss if she hadn’t, but the irrational part of her, the one overpowering the rational part, is telling her that it was honestly just an emotional mistake. 

 

Kelley just stands up from her spot, taking deep breaths to avoid blowing up on Emily. If she blew up, this situation would become instantaneously worse.

 

“Kel, stay, please. I’m sorry.” Emily pleaded as Kelley began climbing back into Emily’s room.

 

She left the Sonnett house, going to her car, and drove away. She doesn’t know how she ended up on the other side of the city unscathed, but once she was parked, the pressure building behind her eyes was alleviated, sobs wracking her body. 

 

Her phone kept buzzing, and soon enough she had to completely silence it.

 

By the time she got home, well past 1 AM, Emily had left 14 calls and 82 texts. 

 

Kelley didn’t open a single one.

Chapter Text

“Linds I fucked up.” Emily called Lindsey once it was clear that Kelley wouldn’t talk to her.

 

“What’d you do this time?” Lindsey was more than a little pissed at waking up in the middle of the night to deal with Emily.

 

“Fuck. Oh fuck. Shit. Ok. So. I kissed Kelley out of impulse but it wasn’t really impulse because I think I like her? Like, more than friends, like her.” If Lindsey wasn’t awake already, that’s sure to wake her up.

 

“What?! Sonnett, you have a girlfriend!” She let out a bitter scoff, remembering what got her in this position in the first place.

 

“Just forget about that for one minute, please.” Emily paused for a second, fully prepared to hear Lindsey interject, but when she didn’t say anything Emily continued. “I’m breaking up with her, and before you ask if it’s because of Kelley, it isn’t.”

 

“Then why?” Lindsey cut in, growing impatient.

 

“Linds… you know why.” It was a decibel over a whisper, and her voice cracked suddenly. “Please don’t interrupt me again, I don’t think I’d be able to handle that right now.” She let out a shaky breath, eyes brimming with tears.

 

“Of course, Son. Can you finish what you’ve been trying to say now?” Emily nodded her head, although Lindsey couldn’t see it. It was more for Emily, than Lindsey. It gave her the confidence and reassurance that she could spill her heart out right now.

 

“I uh- I think I’ve had feelings for Kelley since she came here. My notebook, it’s full of notes about her. Like how she takes her coffee, or what her favorite breakfast food is. There are little scribbles about her everywhere, and I bet if you just read how I described her in those pages you’d be able to picture her.” A smile appears on her face thinking about Kelley. Thinking about the endless sea of freckles and those deep hazel eyes that she could get lost in for hours. 

 

“I got a dog. I adopted that dog I’ve been talking about for the past couple weeks and the first person I wanted to tell was Kelley, so I did. I invited her over, and the look on her face when she held Bagel. God, she looked like an angel, Linds. We were washing her, and she splashed everywhere, so I took my sweatshirt off, and I’ve never seen someone get redder. I think she thought I didn’t notice, but I notice everything she does, in like, the least creepy way possible.” Lindsey laughed a little, imagining the scenario panning out.

 

“So once we’re done washing Bagel, she goes ‘can I borrow a shirt’, and what am I going to do, say no? So I told her to just pick whatever one she wants and she picks my fucking UVA shirt! My favorite shirt! So I’m thinking ‘there’s no fucking way this is all coincidence. She must have feelings for me’, so I go to get my phone so it’s just a little less awkward, but then I have like, 40 texts from Hayley and they all say ‘I’m sorry’ so I already knew what had happened, so I went up to my roof and she followed. And she just sat next to me, rubbing my back, and listening to me cry. And when I calmed down, she started going on about how great and awesome I am, and how I deserve better, and that’s when I kissed her, because surely she wouldn’t be talking about me like this unless she had feelings too.” She finished with a loud huff, replaying the memory, with Kelley’s face engraved in the back of her eyelids. Every time she blinked she saw it.

 

“Emily. A blind person could see that she had feelings, you’re just dumber than a doorknob. I’m not going to scold you as bad as I want to, but know that you probably just fucked up the team’s dynamic. You need to figure yourself out and then figure this out before it gets too bad. We’re supposed to win states this year, Son.” Lindsey’s always been brutally honest, and it’s one of the many reasons why they’ve been best friends for so long. She can snap Emily back into reality when needed.

 

“I hate you so much sometimes, you know that?” And she means for it to be a joke, but it falls a little flat due to the fear she has of Lindsey. One time, Emily swears Lindsey made a poor freshman pee themself because they sat at the soccer table, but deep down she’s a sweet teddy bear. Really deep down.

 

“Yeah, but who else if going to keep your unstable brain in check? Sonny, I’m being serious. You need to sort this shit out.” 

 

“I know, Linds.” There was an awkward lull in the conversation, no one speaking, the only thing audible is their breathing. “Get some sleep, we have a big game tomorrow. I’ll figure this shit out, I promise.” 

 

“Good. Emily, I love you, but you’re just really dumb sometimes. You do deserve better though, anyone can see it. You get some sleep yourself.” 

 

Emily can’t sleep, so she does what keeps her in check. She writes. 

 

She fills up four pages of her notebook, having to switch to a pen midway through the second page because the lead broke. She can make out the very beginning of the September sun rising through her window, but she doesn’t care. She spilled out every detail and emotion locked in her onto paper, and all she had to do was give it to Kelley. Should be easy, right?

Chapter Text

Emily’s tired, emotionally and physically. She spent all night trying to figure out how she’s going to dig herself out of this hole she’s created, while also preparing for the game today. One of the biggest games of the season. 

 

Kelley’s avoiding her like the plague, and it hurts. It hurts that Kelley sits next to Alex at lunch and doesn’t even spare a glance at Emily. No one seems to notice, but the tension hung over the group is like a thick layer of fog. Emily doesn’t want anyone to notice either, because once they notice, the good vibes are broken and they’ll get out of the zone. So she makes stupid jokes and does dumb dance moves to get everyone laughing and for the table to relax, but she keeps glancing over to Kelley. She looks for any sign that they’ll be alright, but Kelley’s intently watching her salad or checking her phone for the duration of lunch. 

 

They don’t talk in class. Not one word is muttered between them throughout the day, because what would they say? What would Emily say? That she’s sorry for kissing Kelley, or that she has a big crush on the girl? No, she can’t say any of that, so she sits quietly, sneaking in glances at Kelley as much as possible. 

 


 

The girls soccer team always takes the gym during the boys game to stretch. They spend an hour stretching and chatting, getting loose and ready for the game, and they usually have the gym to themselves, but the band is taking up the cafeteria so the away team is on the other side of the gym. 

 

Emily’s back is towards them the entire time. 

 

She can feel Hayley’s eyes on her, staring until Emily will give in and turn around, but Emily can’t focus on that. No, instead, she’s focused on the girl laughing and telling a story with her hands. Kelley must sense it, because she’s turning her head towards Emily and the wide smile on her face falls, and Emily runs off to the bathroom to calm herself down. 

 

She had just splashed water on her face when the door swings open, and she comes in. Emily’s smile that was saved for a particular defender has vanished, and she focuses on washing her hands.

 

“Em, can we talk?” 

 

“What’s there to talk about?” Emily bit out and moved to get the paper towels.

 

“My parents are coming, and they don’t know about…”

 

“They don’t know about you cheating on me again? Hayley, are you lying to your parents? Here I am, thinking you’re always honest!” Emily said, the sarcasm evident. It wasn’t until Hayley hadn’t responded that Emily softened her voice a little. “Listen, we’re done, but I’ll be civil. Besides, I have other shit to deal with right now.” 

 

She can see Hayley about to speak, but is interrupted by the door opening and then…

 

Well shit. 

 

It’s a love triangle, in the school bathroom, an hour before the big city clash.

 

(But could you really call it a love triangle? Probably not.)

 

“Sorry if I’m interrupted anything, but Sonnett we’re going into the locker room now.” Kelley says it rushed before dipping out of the bathroom. 

 

“I love you.” Hayley says, grabbing Emily’s arm on her way out.

 

“It’s a little late for that.” Emily says, shimmying out of the loose grip she’s in and exiting the bathroom.

 


 

Emily, believe it or not, can become extremely focused when she wants to. So right now, she’s ignoring the usual hustle and bustle of the busy locker room, opting to pop her AirPods in and listen to pump up music while getting ready. Everyone notices, but no one cares that she’s gone radio silent. “The Kids”, as the seniors and more… mature juniors would call them, aren’t complete without their ringleader Sonnett, so when Sam and Rose are tapping on her shoulder to get their pregame dance ritual out of the way, Emily has to remind herself that no one knows what’s happened between her and Kelley. No one knows that she’s acting different. 

 

They do the dance, earning hoots and applause from everyone, and finish getting ready for the game. While Emily’s pulling her socks up, she remembers the times when Kelley would tease about the height of said socks. She’d say they were way too high and how they looked uncomfortable, and Emily would quip that Kelley’s were too short and her shin guards barely covered her shins.

 

But now, they’re both quiet. Well, to each other. Kelley’s laughing and having a grand time with Alex and Christen and Tobin, and Emily’s staring. She’s staring because if this was even two days ago, she’d be doing that with Kelley, but they’re in this awkward no man’s land that no one’s making an attempt to get out of.

 

Pretty soon though, their coach is calling them outside to begin warmups and Emily’s mind focuses on soccer. On the well kept turf and the floodlights casting down on the field. Their field. Their stands filling up with their fans.

 

The captains are called onto the pitch, and Emily doesn’t feel the same jealousy towards Alex as she had previously. Maybe it was the fact that Kelley has taken up too much of her mind to think about not being captain, or maybe it’s because Kelley had reassured her that the spot will be hers. Kelley makes everything better. 

 

They do a handshake before kickoff. It’s the same one they’ve been doing every game, and they’ve won every game, so why should this one be different? However, they don’t end with the usual hug after. No, instead Kelley’s giving Emily an ass pat before running off to the fullback position, not sparing Emily a second glance.

 


 

The game is riveting from the start. Tobin managed to snake through the defense like she normally does, and connect with Lindsey streaking down the middle for a power header in the 18th minute. They manage three solid attempts at goal before the half ends, only capitalizing from a set piece play from Christen. 

 

The defense has been air-tight. No one’s been able to get through them, and for the Portland Derby, it’s a pretty boring game. Beaverton’s steamrolling Portland, offensively and defensively, until the 82nd minute when Emily commits too much on a tackle in the box and the player goes down. Somehow, after the made penalty, the entire balance of the game shifts. Luckily everyone is too focused on the game to really blame Sonny, but after the excruciatingly long 13 minutes (including stoppage time) ends, Emily finds herself rushing straight to the sideline, awaiting the rest of her team for the post-game talk their coach gives. 

 

It’s short and sweet, the coach being just as hyped that they won as the girls. Emily wants to go find Kelley, but she’s being whisked away by Allie and Alex, so Emily’s left wandering to the visitor’s side bleachers. 

 

She has to put a smile on for the Raso’s. They don’t know that their daughter and Emily have broken up again (Emily hopes it’s the last time), and they certainly don’t want to know why. They’re sweet souls that love the couple so much Emily’ll feel bad if they found out. So she puts a smile on and kisses Hayley on the cheek before talking to her parents, earning praise for playing so well and fake anger for beating Portland. They chat for a couple minutes before Emily sees the rest of her team heading back to the locker room, and it’s her queue to leave as well. She says goodbye, thinking she’s in the clear and won’t have to play nice anymore, but then Hayley’s kissing her cheek and giving her a tight hug that Emily doesn’t want to reciprocate, but she’s forced to. Because no one knows. 

 


 

“Sonny! We’re going to B-Dubs, ya coming?” Ashlyn called out once the blonde stepped into the locker room. She was the last one in, and all eyes were on her. 

 

(Well, almost all eyes.)

 

“Wild Wings? Nah, I’ll pass. Gave me a bad stomach ache last time out.” She says going to her locker, ripping her cleats off as well as her socks and shin guards. The group of girls give out a pout but end up falling back into rambunctious chatter while Emily finishes getting ready. It’s a rule that no one can leave the locker room until everyone’s ready, so once Emily finally slips her shoes on and slings her backpack over her shoulders, the locker room cheers. She gives them two middle fingers before making her way to the door.

 

“Shit. I left my keys in my locker. I’ll be back in a sec.” She tells to no one in particular, turning on her heel to jog back to the locker room. 

 

She grabs her keys out of the locker, slamming the door shut, when a voice startles her.

 

“Can we talk?” Emily would know that voice anywhere. The voice that slowly became her favorite thing to hear.

 

Kelley’s voice.

 

(Unlike earlier, Emily actually wants to talk.)

Chapter Text

 

“You’re oblivious.” All of a sudden, Emily’s getting whiplash. Kelley didn’t even give her a second to answer her question.

 

“Huh? What do you mean?” And Kelley’s rolling her eyes because Emily really is oblivious. 

 

“You can’t take a hint for shit, Sonnett, that’s what I mean.” She’s trying to tease while getting the point across, but it takes the opposite effect on Emily. 

 

“First off: What the fuck? Secondly, you can’t say shit about me. Maybe you can’t take a fucking hint.” Kelley’s taken aback at how direct Emily’s being. She can feel the tension growing between them in the dimly lit locker room.

 

“Take a hint about what?! You’re so busy figuring out how to stay in a bullshit relationship, you can’t see anything around you!” Fuck. That was absolutely not what Kelley wanted to say. Before she can apologize though, Emily’s already firing back.

 

“Fuck you!” She all but screams, “You don’t think I know how much this fucking sucks? I’m sick of this loop I’m in, but I can’t fucking leave it! But this time, I thought I had found a way to leave, but I guess I’m wrong. Or, I just can’t see anything around me.” Emily starts pacing, rubbing her hands together. 

 

“Fuck. Em, I’m so sorry.” Emily lets out a sharp scoff.

 

“You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that from girls I like.” She sounded so defeated, finally still her movements. While her legs stilled, her hands were still active, rubbing tiredly at her eyes. “Listen, Kel, I might be oblivious, but at least I’m not a dick.” 

 

“Em, I-” She’s interrupted by the door opening, a less than happy Alex coming in to grab Kelley.

 

“Kel! Let’s-” Alex calls, unaware of the high tension hung in the room. “Oh, hey Sonny. You coming out after all?” 

 

“Nah, had a long game, would rather relax at home and study.” Kelley’s stunned at how easily Emily’s tone can change. Her voice was calm and even, like she wasn’t in the midst of a fight with one of her best friends a moment ago.

 

“You’re lame.” Emily just gives her a shrug and a smile that melts Kelley’s heart, before swiftly leaving the room. “Alright Kel, what the fuck just happened? I’ve never seen Sonny that still or quiet.” Of course Alex had caughten on, but Kelley still tries to play dumb.

 

“What do you mean? Nothing happened, Em was just grabbing her keys.” Alex just gives her a look, and Kelley knows that she can’t hide what happened for long. “I’ll tell you later? It’s just, the team’s waiting for us and right now really isn’t the time or place to get into it.” 

 

“So there’s stuff to get into?” And Alex, blessed her kind and caring heart, can be nosy sometimes. Right now is one of those times. Kelley just gives her a hum to satisfy Alex, before adjusting the straps on her backpack and heading out the door. 

 

She tries to walk fast enough to see if she could catch Emily leaving, but is disappointed when there’s no trace of her. 

 


 

“Alright O’Hara, it’s a twenty minute drive, barring traffic, so spill.” Alex says once they reach her car, and Kelley’s already dreading the fact that she revealed something had happened.

 

“Fuck. Ok, so I guess like, two or so weeks ago I realized I liked Emily. And, of course, I can’t act on this crush because she had a girlfriend, so I sat on my hands and hoped that this would go away. She’s one of my best friends, you know how fucking awkward it is to like one of your best friends?” Not as awkward as kissing them, but Alex didn’t need to know that.

 

“So you were yelling because you like her and she found out?” Kelley lets out a laugh because she wishes it was that simple. She wishes they had never shared that kiss, and she wishes their feelings were never mixed together.

 

“If only. We uh, we were yelling because yesterday she called me over because she got a dog and wanted me to meet her, and what was I going to do, say no? So I went, and we washed Bagel-” Alex burst out laughing.

 

“Sonny named her dog Bagel?” She said in between laughter, prompting her to laugh even harder.

 

“Yes, now shut the hell up so I can finish!” Kelley gave her a few seconds to calm down. “We washed Bagel, but I saw Emily’s phone before. Hayley was blowing it up and I guess I came up with the conclusion that she had cheated again, based on the formality of it all, but I didn’t want to ruin anything because Emily looked so cute holding her dog and she was so happy, so I didn’t bring it up. 

 

“And, well, after the bath, I was so entranced with how comfortable Emily’s shirt was, that I couldn’t react quick enough when she picked her phone up. She went up on her roof, which I guess is something she does a lot, and started crying. Me being the comforter I am, went up and sat next to her, just making her feel better, and then she kissed me. She kissed me, and it felt better than I could’ve ever imagined, and it was so perfect, but I knew it was out of bad intentions so I pulled away. I ran away, and we hadn’t talked until just then, if you hadn’t noticed.” Kelley anticipated Alex to butt in, but when she didn’t she kept going. “So basically I called her blind for not seeing the signs I’m giving, and she blew up on me. I deserve it though.”

 

“Hey, you can’t say that. Sonny can’t take a hint to save her life, I’m honestly surprised she gets any girls based on how dense she is.” Kelley smiled a little, being able to imagine girls throwing every single sign and hint at her.

 

(Kinda like her.)

 

“She’ll come around. I think she just needs time, her girlfriend just cheated on her again.” And somehow Kelley had forgotten about that part when they were talking. She forgot about the main reason she hadn’t pursued. “Just give her time, Kel, and drop bigger hints. I love Son to death, but she needs someone holding her hand in life. I have a feeling you could be that person.” Kelley blushes, thankful that the darkness of the night blocks the visibility. 

 

She thinks she could be that person too.

Chapter Text

Friday’s an away game. Their bus seats were assigned before the first away game, and Kelley couldn’t have been happier to sit with Emily. 

 

Except now she’s not. Because Emily still hasn’t talked to her, despite the massive amount of space she’s giving. Kelley thought, surely, that Emily would’ve cooled down by now, would’ve made an attempt to reach out, but she hasn’t yet. And it’s killing Kelley.

 

The school is less than 30 minutes away, so the ride shouldn’t be that bad. Except, Emily has her AirPods in the entire time and won’t even talk to Lindsey.

 

Lindsey. 

 

Emily’s not talking to her best friend, and the team’s starting to catch on. Kelley can hear some of the younger girls whispering about her, and she’s one comment away from backhanding them, when Emily stands up from her seated position and gets everyone’s attention. 

 

“Alright ladies, we’re winning this game, ain’t no doubt about it! Let’s,” She drops her voice down to a whisper, “Fucking go!” and the whole bus erupts in cheers, and Kelley’s staring up at this incredibly unpredictable girl, until said girl is looking down at Kelley and her gaze is averted. 

 


 

They win, because of course they do, and Kelley should be ecstatic. Except she knows who’s in the stands. She knows who Emily runs off to once they get back to school, and she knows who Emily’s spending her Friday night with. The same girl that broke her heart all those times.

 

“There’s a party tonight at Ash’s. You should come.” Tobin suggests, and normally Kelley would say no, would opt to hang out with Emily, but this isn’t a normal time. So she says yes, and arrives at the party at 9, looking to leave around 11. 

 

She gets drunk quickly. She isn’t trying to drink the pain of fucking up away, but she does. That’s why she’s confused when she sees someone who looks a lot like Emily walk through the door, alone, going straight to the keg. (How a group of high schoolers got a keg, no one will ever know.)

 

She tries to avoid Emily (she figures out that the figure is, in fact, Emily) as much as possible, but Emily’s fucking everywhere. She’s in the backyard, and in the kitchen, and in the basement, making rounds through every room and talking to everyone she sees. 

 

Kelley escapes to Ashlyn’s room. The crowd was getting to be too much, and she’s starting to get a sensory overload, so she finds solace in loneliness. She calms down looking at the many pictures of Ash and Ali, their love so pure and wholesome, but then the door is creaking open and her head snaps up.

 

Emily.

 

She’s about to slur out that she’s about to leave, that she’ll get out of the way, but Emily moves so quickly she can’t spit it out.

 

“I’m sorry.” And Emily’s voice sounds less drunk than Kelley would’ve guessed. It’s mixed with something Kelley can’t put her finger on, too.

 

“For what?” If Kelley’s being honest, Emily isn’t the one who needs to apologize.

 

“For blowing up on you. I’m not the best at articulating my feelings. You didn’t deserve that, you were just trying to help me.” Kelley can feel the bubble forming around them. The already muffled music from downstairs turning into white noise.

 

“Em, I was just looking out for you. I’m sorry too, for saying that shit to you.” Her voice is relatively steady, but her hands are shaking. Emily seems to notice, because she envelopes Kelley’s hands in her own and the world seems to stop. 

 

“I talked to her after the game. She said she was jealous- that’s why she did it. And I didn’t know what she had to be jealous about, but then it clicked.” A brief pause, “I was hanging out with you so often, and you were making me so happy. And it doesn’t justify cheating, but she said she thought I had a crush on you. And I pushed it to the side, but then I got to thinking,” Normally Kelley would probably make a quip about this, but her throat is dry and her voice is nowhere to be seen.

 

“I don’t think she was wrong. I think she was spot on, actually.” 

 

“What are you talking about?” Kelley had suddenly found her voice, wondering if what Emily is alluding to is what Kelley thinks it is. 

 

Emily uncupped Kelley’s hands to slightly tilt her head up, and suddenly those two inches that separate them feel like two feet. Kelley looks up into soft blue eyes, her breath hitching ever so slightly as she feels Emily’s light puffs of air escape her mouth.

 

“I like you, Kel. I like you a lot.” And Kelley’s licking her lips while Emily brackets her head with her arms, leaning in ever so slightly until…

 

Bliss.

Chapter Text

That first kiss was great, but this one? This one’s magical. This one conveys emotions Kelley had never felt before, and emotions Emily hasn’t felt in years. This one gets every point and thought across. 

 

When Emily pulls back, breathless, she can see every single one of Kelley’s freckles. She can see the slight knit of her eyebrows and the corners of her swollen mouth upturned into a grin. 

 

“Go on a date with me,” It’s more of a suggestion, but Kelley still freezes, and Emily’s suddenly sheepish. Did she read the signs wrong? The bright, neon signs? “Or not. I mean, you don’t have to, I don’t even know if you like me or anything,” She says, rubbing the back of her neck.

 

“I’ve uh, I’ve never gone on a date, Em.” Kelley’s wringing her wrists together, avoiding the look on Emily’s face because she’s sure it’s of disgust. But Emily’s eyes soften and her left hand drops to Kelley’s hands to still them, while her right tucks under Kelley’s chin to level their eyes.

 

“I’m going to take you on the best fucking date money can buy, Ms. Kelley,” There’s playfulness in her voice, but she’s never been more serious.

 

“When?” Kelley asks, their eyes still locked. And, because she can, she leans up and places another kiss on Emily’s lips.

 

“Tomorrow morning, my house. We’re kicking this date off with a Premier League morning, but that’s all I’m going to say because I don’t have anything else planned.” 

 

“You’re a dork.”

 

“You dig it.” 

 

“How would you know?” Kelley asks defensively, getting a serious case of deja vu.

 

“Because you didn’t say no to my idea.” And Kelley’s about to argue when Emily places another chaste kiss on her lips, and that adorable smile creeps onto her face.

 


 

“Are you a Spurs fan or something?” Kelley teases. Emily’s wearing her Tottenham jersey and scarf when she opens the door, ten minutes before kickoff.

 

“Yes, and I have a good feeling about this game.” Kelley and Emily make their way to the couch, where two blankets are already set up and the commentators are talking about a player who received a red card on the tv.

 

“Well when you’re playing a team about to get relegated, it’s pretty easy to have a good feeling.” Kelley quipped.

 

“You’re just upset your Gooners are in like, 11th place, Kel.” Kelley sticks her tongue out at Emily and throws one of the couch pillows at her. 

 

Kelley learns quickly that Emily’s a diehard fan for the Spurs. She sings all the chants and cheers, and Kelley managed to record Emily singing “When the Spurs Go Marching In” during kickoff, posting it on her Instagram story for everyone’s viewing pleasure. 

 

When the Spurs win 4-0, Emily’s up and dancing while singing Tottenham’s victory song, and Kelley’s never had a more pleasant Saturday morning. She was laughing, and screaming, and cheering, and kissing Emily throughout the game. 

 

“Alright Ms. Kelley, time for leg two of this Saturday extravaganza,” Emily said while turning the tv off, and Kelley’s groaning because she lost her footrest. 

 

“Can’t we just stay here? Today was already great and all we did was watch soccer!” Kelley watched Emily stretch her back, the midday sun peaking through the windows and casting an angelic shadow on her.

 

“Ms. Kelley, I know how amazing the Kings of White Hart Lane are, but no. We have big plans today!” And Emily says that first part just a bit too proud, poking fun at Kelley’s preferred team. 

 

“Can I at least borrow a sweatshirt? It’s colder than I thought it’d be.” Emily rolls her eyes and strips her jersey off, tugging the sweatshirt underneath it off and tossing it at Kelley, before slipping the jersey back on.

 

“There. Can we get going now?” Kelley reluctantly gets up and puts the sweatshirt on, relishing in the warmth. 

 

“Can we get food?” 

 

“It’s like you read my mind.” 

 


 

Kelley really shouldn’t be surprised when Emily takes them to get waffles. Emily had dubbed it “their food” a couple weeks ago.

 

There’s something about night time runs to waffle joints that make them taste better, but when Emily’s feeding Kelley bits and pieces of her waffle once she finished her own, it tasted the same. 

 

There’s something about the atmosphere of an empty waffle joint, in the middle of the night, just you and the workers, that makes your experience so different. But when Emily’s telling jokes and stories and making Kelley laugh harder than she ever has, it felt the same.

 

“Do you know how to skate?” Emily asks once they’ve finished brunch. 

 

“No. Why?” She expects an answer, but Emily stays silent. Just gets up from the booth and extends her hand for Kelley to take. 

 

Emily’s hand is softer and warmer than Kelley imagined. She can feel calluses from lifting and the writer’s bump on Emily’s right ring finger. And instead of letting go, Emily holds on. She intertwines their fingers, holding Kelley’s left hand firm. And despite doing this momentous move, Emily continues conversation like nothing happened.

 

“We’re going skating. There’s this gay skate thing over at Oaks Park once a month, and we’re lucky to catch it.” 

 

“Em, I can’t skate. I’ve never even been skating.”

 

“Don’t worry, I’m an expert skater. I’ll hold your hand through it.” Emily gives Kelley’s hand a squeeze, before separating to get in the car.

 


 

Emily stifles her laugh once again, watching Kelley cling to the side wall for dear life. After a brief lesson on how to move in skates, Emily put all her faith in Kelley. She thought that because Kelley could so graciously slide tackle any foe, roller skating would be a breeze. She was wrong. 

 

After a while, Emily got so sick of staying in the same five feet of the rink, that she started skating without Kelley.

 

“Em, my ankles! They can’t handle this!” She’s mostly joking, except she’ll probably have to stop before anything could get hurt.

 

“Yes they can, Kel! Just hold onto me and you’ll be fine!” Kelley (reluctantly) grabs ahold of Emily’s extended hand, getting pulled across the rink instead of skating.

 

Kelley has fun, nonetheless. Her and Emily can fall so easily into conversation, she forgets about the slight ache of her ankles.

 


 

The final excursion for their date is later in the day. Emily dropped Kelley off at home, to pick her up three hours later. This time though, Emily changed. She went from the all-white home kit of Tottenham Hotspur, to the red and black kit of the Portland Thorns. She also bought flowers.

 

“You changed,” Kelley observes, taking the flowers and placing a kiss on Emily’s cheek.

 

“That I did.”

 

“Why?” 

 

“We’re going to a Thorns game, Kel. Gotta represent.” She says as almost an afterthought, like she didn’t pull every string she had in Portland to get tickets to this game. (She might have to repay Tobin and Christen later, but Kelley doesn’t need to know that.)

 

“Are you serious?” Kelley looks over to Emily, who’s nodding her head with that damn smile. “Em! I’ve wanted to watch a Thorns game since I got here! How’d you get tickets?” 

 

“Might’ve pulled a few strings,” She says nonchalantly, and Kelley punches her shoulder. “Do you want me to sell these tickets? Because we can watch the game on the couch, babe.” It slips out. She didn’t mean for it to slip out, but it did. And she’s never been more nervous. But Kelley…

 

Kelley isn’t phased by it.

 

“No! We’re going to the game.” And she’s leaning over the center console and placing a kiss on Emily’s cheek, before sitting back down. Her legs are bouncing and she’s talking a mile a minute about how happy she is to watch the game, and Emily’s smiling to herself because she has that feeling in her stomach.

 

The feeling she lost a couple years ago.

 


 

The Thorns win. They win 2-0, and Kelley’s still buzzing by the time Emily drives her back home. She lets her talk, giving answers to questions and recalling plays from the game during the drive. 

 

They pull up in front of Kelley’s house, her still talking about the game, when Emily pulls her into a searing kiss. It’s hot, and heavy, and Emily can feel Kelley’s tongue sweep across her own bottom lip when she pulls back. 

 

“Be my girlfriend?” She asks with bated breath, waiting for Kelley’s answer. 

 

It doesn’t take long for Kelley to mumble “yes”, before connecting their lips again.

 

“Did this date exceed your expectations, Ms. Kelley?” They’ve been sitting in Emily’s car for an hour now, kissing, talking, and more kissing.

 

“Yeah,” She says while placing a kiss on the back of Emily’s hand, “But you’ve got big shoes to fill now, Em.” 

 

“How do I have shoes to fill if they were mine to begin with?” Emily says with a smirk. Kelley rolls her eyes before checking the time.

 

“Shit. Em, I had a lot of fun tonight, but I gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow?” Kelley’s already slipping out of the door before Emily has time to respond, but circles the car to rap her knuckles on Emily’s window. 

 

Emily chuckles before rolling the window down, and she’s about to ask why Kelley did this, when Kelley’s leaning through the door to place one final kiss on Emily’s lips.

 


 

It’s a little cheesy how Emily smiles the entire ride back home, and how she can’t get Kelley off her mind. How, when she gets to her room, she writes about this day in vivid detail, not wanting to forget about anything.

 

But honestly, she couldn’t forget about this day in a million years.

Chapter Text

Emily realizes quickly that she’ll have to steer the relationship in the beginning stages. Kelley’s never been in a relationship. She’s shy, and nervous, and a little pre-cautious about PDA, but Emily’s ok with that.

 

It’s the little things she enjoys: the hand holding, the late night waffle runs, the way their dynamic hadn’t changed that much. They were still the best of friends, except now Emily could kiss Kelley if she wanted. 

 

Emily also realized that she’d need to buy more clothes. Kelley had a knack for stealing almost every article of clothing Emily would lend, and her closet is starting to wear a little thin. It’s cute, though, when Kelley would show up to school in Emily’s shirt or sweats, not a care in the world.

 

Kelley’s funny, Emily knows that. But there’s something about laughing the night away with your girlfriend that makes Kelley 15 times funnier. Emily knows what love feels like. She’s felt it before, many times, but she has a feeling this type of love could be different.

 

She knows she’s falling in love when they go on their eighth date. It’s the weekend before Halloween, and the air was just cold enough for Kelley to ask for Emily’s sweatshirt. They had a game the night before, and Emily picked up a nasty bruise on her thigh, and Kelley rubbed and massaged it. The sun was setting in the distance, golden light casting down on them on Emily’s roof. Kelley looked flawless, perfect. Gorgeous. 

 

They were laughing and talking all day, but that moment on the roof no one spoke. They sat in the cool air, watching as the sun set. Well, Kelley watched as the sun set. Emily watched Kelley’s eyes glow from the sun, and the way the wind would catch Kelley’s fly aways like a kite. She watched the smile on Kelley’s face through the evening, making out the laugh and smile lines on her girlfriend’s face.

 

Bagel eventually clawed at the window, wanting to join the two outside, so Emily wordlessly got up and brought the puppy out. It disturbed the silence when she ran out of Emily’s hands into Kelley’s, but hearing the laughs come from Kelley made it alright.

 

Yeah, she’s in love.

 

But she’s also terrified. They’ve been dating for a little over a month, she has no idea what Kelley’s feeling. She knows she’s in love, but she doesn’t know how Kelley will react if she told her.

 


 

Emily puts her love on the back burner until November. Until Kelley surprises her on her birthday with a hike up Mt. Hood, and she says it first.

 

“I don’t know how to say this like, romantically, or anything, so I’m just going to say it. I love you, I think.” It’s a little awkward, and maybe not how first love proclamations should go, but Emily thinks it’s perfect.

 

“I love you too,” And the look on Kelley’s face when she says it back is one of utter relief, “I’ve known since October, Kel.” 

 

“Well I’ve known since last week, so,” But before she can finish, Emily’s leaning in to kiss her and the world feels right. Everything feels right.

Chapter Text

 

The last game of the regular season is three days after Emily’s birthday, one day before Thanksgiving break. It’s cool how the stars seemed to align to have another Portland Derby as the last game. It’s at Portland this time, and everyone who hasn’t left for break already will be there. It’s the game where the winner takes home to coveted Derby trophy, and Emily’s desperate to get it. Not that anyone else isn’t, but Beaverton lost it last year because of a dumb mistake made by Emily to give up the only goal in the second Derby. 

 

Kelley seems to get it. She can see that little bit of extra focus in Emily’s eyes during practice and when they watch film. And she doesn’t want to disrupt that zone Emily entered, so she distances herself just enough where she’s not a burden. Emily wants to win, and so does she, but she also knows how much it means to Emily if they sweep Portland this year. So she’s doing everything in her power to let Emily get in the zone before the game.

 

She told the girls before lunch to quiet down a little, to not tease Emily as much, because it’s not only for Emily. It’s for them all. They win this game, they get a bye week heading into the playoffs, and god knows how amazing it is to get extra practices in. To be able to watch film on the teams they might play, to bond just a little more. 

 

No one knows except her family, but Stanford scouts are going to be in attendance this game. They had told her they were originally going to check in on Christen, see how she’s playing, but that Kelley caught their eye. That Kelley is a star that deserves the best programs to excel. She won’t tell Emily until there’s more of a chance, though.

 

Because, honestly, she thought it was a joke at first. She thought that someone was playing a prank on her or something, until the scout had contacted her a week ago to confirm the time and place of the game. That’s when she started to panic. Because what if she wasn’t as good as they thought, and they just wasted all that money and time on a shitty player? Well, at least they’d be able to see Emily play, she reasons, and that calms her down enough. It calms her down, and with her calm, Emily calms down. She’s still laser-focused, but her hands are a little softer in Kelley’s, and her laughs are a little more genuine. 

 

The game is earlier than usual. It’s at 5:00, so the team leaves school 30 minutes before the final bell. Everyone is in that weird trance of being hyped up while also locking into the zone. Even the freshmen were stuck in that limbo, popping headphones in and not doing those Tik Tok dances that come second nature to them. 

 

Emily, of course, finds her natural leadership back as they pull into the bus loop. She gives a different speech this time, but it still gives the same effect: they aren’t losing this game. 

 


 

They do their handshake, hugging for just a little longer than before, and Kelley can feel Hayley burning holes in the back of her head. She can also feel the eyes of that scout on her. What keeps her grounded though, is the fact that Emily’s struggling to stop playing with the armband around her right bicep.

 

Alex picked up a twisted ankle a game ago, so Emily got captaincy. Apparently the player’s vote and coach’s vote was unanimous in picking Emily as the interim leader. Emily deserves it.

 


 

Kelley’s dribbling up the flank, looking for a cutter down the middle or someone to drop the ball off to, when she feels her legs get taken out from under her and she’s crashing onto the cool turf. She can hear the crowd’s collected gasp, and right then she knows.

 

She knows she’s fucked. 

 

It doesn’t hurt as much as her first ankle injury, not even the second, but it feels different. There’s no pain, but she can feel the discomfort and displacement. Maybe it’s just the shock and adrenaline. 

 

Emily, who was damn near their own box, is the first one sliding to where Kelley’s laying, frantically asking what’s wrong. She saw everything happen. The way Hayley blindsided her girlfriend. She’s furious. Did she really not have enough composure and dignity to potentially fuck up someone’s life? But now isn’t the time to be angry, because Kelley hasn’t responded, just pulled her leg up towards her body and clutched at her left ankle. 

 

Her bad ankle.

 

It’s not even halftime yet, and this happened. On the last game of the regular season, this happened. On the day a college fucking scout was watching her, this happened. Fuck.

 

She knows that Emily’s worried sick and probably awaiting an answer, but Kelley finds herself looking towards the stands. Expecting to find the man in the Cardinal red jacket getting up and leaving, but he’s writing on a legal pad intently. She doesn’t even want to know what he’s writing. 

 

“Em, love, I’m fine. Let the AT help me, babe.” They aren’t the couple to let their personal lives intertwine with soccer. They know better than that. But right now, Kelley needs her girlfriend’s fortitude.

 

Emily stands up, wiping at her knees to get the pellets off. She gives the AT space to do a preliminary check on Kelley’s ankle before helping her stand up and hobble off the field onto the cart. Now she really needs to win this game. 

 


 

Kelley doesn’t come back out onto the field until the 80th minute. She’s got a bulky ice pack saran-wrapped onto her ankle and crutches. She watches as Emily stands strong in the backline, repelling Portland’s last surge of offense. She clears every ball, tackles perfectly, and even gets a good cross off towards midfield to set up a potential counter-attack. It’s for naught, but once the attack is extinguished, the ref is blowing the final whistle and everyone’s tackling Mal to the ground because she scored the game winner. 1-0, Beaverton.

 

Those celebrations are short lived, though, once Emily and Tobin are running to where Kelley’s been standing next to Alex for the ten minutes she’s been out. 

 

“Slow down, I’m not going anywhere.” It’s meant to be a joke, but no one laughs.

 

“Kel, are you ok?” Kelley’s surprised it wasn’t Emily to ask, it was actually Tobin.

 

“I’ll be fine. He said worse case it’s broken, best case a bad sprain.” Kelley can see the furrow in Emily’s eyebrows and the incessant chew of her upper lip, indicating she’s worried. Kelley’s seen it a couple times now, and usually it’s cute, but this time it worries Kelley more than it worries Emily. “Em, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me, babe.” 

 

Emily’s about to say something, probably about how she isn’t worried, when Kelley hears someone clear their throat. She hears a man clear his throat. 

 

“Ms. O’Hara?” He has a deep, scratchy throat, like he yells for a living. Kelley turns as gracefully as possible on crutches and gives him a small smile.

 

“Yes sir?” Her inner southern manners instinctively making their return.

 

“Can we talk in private?” She turns her head to see Tobin and Alex engrossed in conversation, but Emily’s got that worried look on her face. She mouths that she’ll be back in a second and that Emily shouldn’t worry, before turning back around and nodding, following the scout’s lead.

 

Tim, as he introduced himself, was quick to get to the point.

 

“Listen, Kelley. I was thoroughly impressed with you tonight. I’m sorry it had to end prematurely, but from what I’ve seen you’re only going up from here. I want you to let me know how long your recovery will take so we can get you out to a training camp one day. You’ve got great potential, kid.” And Kelley’s too speechless to let out more than a ‘will do’, and ‘thank you very much’ before he’s shaking her hand and walking off. 

 

Kelley crutches back to where the team is having a meeting, still shocked by what had just happened. A Stanford scout is interested in her. 

 


 

 

Emily doesn’t bring it up until they’re driving to dinner at Alex’s house.

 

“Who was that, babe?” And Kelley can’t lie well, so she tells the truth.

 

“A scout. From Stanford.” She doesn’t know what to expect after, but Emily squeezing her thigh and squealing wasn’t it.

 

“That’s great! What’d he say?” Kelley lets her excitement show now, too.

 

“He said that I was good. He said that I’m only going up from here, and asked me to tell him when I’m done recovering so I could go to a training camp one day. Em, I could go to Stanford!” Emily’s hand going lax on her thigh was the reaction she was expecting earlier, not now. She grows silent too, until a couple seconds later she’s pulling her hand away and back on the steering wheel. “What’s wrong, Em?”

 

Emily doesn’t respond until she’s pulling into the driveway, stopping the car and turning off the engine.

 

“Stanford’s far, Kel.” Emily’s voice drops suddenly, and Kelley doesn’t understand why distance is such a problem now. And besides, Portland to San Francisco is a four hour flight, max.

 

“Babe, it’s like three hours from here.” 

 

“I’m talking about from Virginia. That’s seven hours, right there.” Oh. That makes more sense.

 

“I might not even go though. It’ll be ok, Em. Trust me.” She knows it’ll take more convincing for Emily to fully be ok with this far away dream, but the small head nod and smile Emily gives Kelley is enough for now. So Kelley leans over the console to give Emily one last kiss before dinner, opening the car door and crutching her way to Alex’s front door. Emily stays in the car for a second, smiling to herself, before picking the trophy up and getting out of her car as well.

Chapter Text

They have two weeks until playoffs start.

 

Two weeks to perfect drills and set pieces, to learn the ins and outs of whichever team they’re getting matched up against. 

 

But Kelley won’t recover in two weeks. 

 

The doctor told her that it was such a bad sprain, it would’ve been better to break it. Everyone keeps asking, but she won’t tell them how bad it is. Not even to Emily. Because once Emily knows how bad it is, she’ll drop the ball on working hard. She’ll want to coddle Kelley, but Kelley needs Emily to stay focused and not let their season die prematurely. She tells Emily to work hard so Kelley has enough time to get better. Enough time to play in the next game.

 

But she won’t be better for at least two months, if she’s lucky. She’ll find a way to tell everyone the bad news later, but for now they think it’s a sprained ankle. The only people who actually know the true extent are the ATs, coaching staff, and her family. 

 

She knows it won’t make or break her future, only a small obstacle in the grand scheme of things, but it feels that way. Kelley isn’t herself in those weeks leading up to the playoffs, but only Emily could see that. Emily, who can read Kelley like a book despite knowing her for a few months. Emily, who’s more than capable with handling the news, but Kelley won’t tell. Emily, who she loves wholeheartedly. 

 

Kelley’s been talking with the Stanford coach for a week now. He said that he’s seen previous film, and is willing to fly her out to Palo Alto to check out the campus in January. She should be over the moon to get the chance to go to this wonderful school, except she’s thinking about how Emily had reacted when the scout came. So she doesn’t tell anyone about that, either.

 


 

They win states, and Kelley’s never seen anyone that excited in her life. Emily let one goal through in the entire postseason, while also staying as captain. Alex had seen how well the role fit Emily, that once she came back she gave the band to Emily. Permanently. 

 

Kelley crutched over to where Emily and their teammates were celebrating the win, and pulled her girlfriend into a hug. 

 

She has to tell her everything tonight. About her ankle; about Stanford. Because it’s time for her to get this off her chest.

 


 

“Em, I have to tell you something,” Emily’s mind immediately goes to worst-case scenarios, and Kelley’s quick to reassure her. “No, no! It’s nothing bad. I hope.” 

 

“What is it?” Emily relaxes a little bit, swinging her feet on the ground as the swing on Kelley’s porch sways.

 

“My ankle. It’s worse than I let on,” Emily’s about to protest, because how could something be worse than missing the postseason for a sprain? “It’s a really bad sprain, Em. The doctor said it would’ve been better if I had broken it, that’s how bad it is.”

 

“Good thing we won for you,” She responds after a second, and Kelley wishes that was the last of what she had to say, but it isn’t.

 

“There’s something else, love,” She takes Emily’s hand in her own, feeling at peace with the new contact of her girlfriend, “The Stanford coach has been talking to me a bunch lately. I’m touring the school next month. They’re really interested in me, Em. I might get a full ride.”

 

Emily stays silent again, but she pulls her hand away from Kelley’s loose grasp.

 

“Kel. Stanford’s far,” And now they’re back on the distance, and Kelley feels like this talk about the distance won’t end soon. 

 

“Em, I’m just visiting the school! It’s not like I’m signing right then and there.” She says a little exasperated. 

 

“So you’re going to visit it, fall in love with the campus, with the program, and then leave me next year!” Emily threw her hands up as her voice rose. “Might as well just do it now,” She mumbles, immediately regretting it.

 

“I just might! For someone who wants the best for me, it doesn’t really seem like you want that right now.” Kelley scoffs at the end, ears growing hot from anger.

 

“Kel, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that,” Emily pleads, reaching out to grab Kelley’s hand. Once she makes contact though, Kelley’s flinching and getting up from her spot on the swing.

 

“It’s getting late, Sonnett. You should go home,” Kelley goes inside her house, closing the door. Emily’s left standing on the porch, in shock, before the front light turns off and she’s forced to get in her car.

 

Throughout the entire car ride back home, she thinks about the way Kelley called her ‘Sonnett’ instead of ‘Em’. 

 

When she gets home she cries. Emily doesn't like crying, but tonight she feels like she has to. She cries because she might’ve just fucked up the best relationship she’s ever been in. She cries because of a hypothetical scenario, and she hates herself for getting so jealous. 

 

Because Stanford was Emily’s school.

Chapter Text

December, 2018

 

“Emily! We’re going to miss the flight if you don’t come down now!” Her mom called from downstairs. Emily was finishing packing her soccer bag, getting ready for the five day camp down in Palo Alto. She took one final look around her room to make sure she wasn’t forgetting anything, when she found her red pre-wrap laying on the floor. She wears it every game, the color almost identical to Cardinal red. 

 

Emily’s wanted to go to Stanford since she was eight. She doesn’t remember when the school was introduced to her younger self, but soon after she became infatuated. It’s always been her dream school since then. That’s why she studies so damn hard, and why she puts in those extra two hours after practice.

 


 

Her parents are already in the car, along with Emma, impatiently waiting for Emily to throw her bags in the trunk and click her seatbelt on. When she’s not exclaiming about how excited she is for this camp, she’s daydreaming about the life in college she’ll have. 

 

PAC-12 Midfielder of the Year, MAC Hermann Trophy winner, National Champion, all that fun stuff. She dreams about joining the NWSL and getting called into the senior national team, playing in big tournaments and scoring goals.

 

The journey to PDX is a blur, and the next thing she knows, she’s landing at SFO and driving down to Palo Alto. Emily’s never seen anything prettier than that scenic drive. She can imagine her making drives into the city with friends, maybe with Hayley if she visits, and enjoying life in California - enjoying life at Stanford.

 


 

Nerves have never put Emily off kilter, and this camp is no different. She knows that coaches are watching her play, and uses that as fuel. 

 

She thinks she plays great, scoring a goal and de-possessing opposing attackers when needed. Her team of 11 wins the Queen of the Field style play for today, and she can see assistant coaches eyeing her. 

 

Her dreams are becoming a reality in this moment. 

 

That night, she dreams of getting that call. The call that tells her she’s wanted at Stanford on an athletic scholarship. 

 

She wakes up feeling good about the second day.

 


 

The next four days blend together. Emily works hard, her muscles are over exerted, she’s cramped in every part of her body, but none of that matters. 

 

What matters is the end of the fifth and final day of camp, when coaches tell players if they want to be seen again at the next ID camp. 

 

Emily’s name doesn’t get called for a while because of her last name. So she’s left sitting on cool turf, biting her nails to bloody stumps and making awkward small talk with the people around her, until she hears her name being called and rushes to stand up. 

 

The blood rushes to her head and she wobbles a bit, but eventually makes her way to the group of coaches lined up on the sideline. 

 

“Sonnett, we’re going to make this short,” Tim, the assistant coach that was focusing on midfielders, said, “You’re good, but you aren’t Stanford material. Sorry. Keep working hard and you’ll get offers, but you aren’t getting one from Stanford. Again, on behalf of the entire coaching team, I’m sorry.” 

 

In the matter of 30 seconds, Emily’s hopes and dreams were crushed. The future she imagined for herself, broken to pieces, in 30 fucking seconds. 

 

She shuts down after that. She goes through the motions of getting back home, but when she gets back to the safety and comfort of her room, she allows the walls to fall and for her to break. 

 

She crawled up to the roof so no one would hear her sobs, and found solace in it. Every day, for the next week, she’d crawl through her bay window onto the roof, crying and cursing the game of soccer. 

 

January, 2019 

 

Her parents forced her to go to the Virginia ID camp. They’d seen how destroyed Emily was when Stanford turned her away, and thought it’d be good to get more exposure to schools.

 

So she packed her soccer bag again, similar to the bag for Stanford, except this time she left the pre-wrap at home. She wasn’t going to be reminded of her failure. 

 

She didn’t expect anything, if she’s being honest. She thought it’d go similarly to Stanford, but there’s something about Charlottesville that drew her in. She got settled into camp easily, she made friends with her group mates, and the coaches really liked her. 

 

Except they didn’t want her in the midfield. They wanted her on the back line, and Emily didn’t know how she’d be able to adjust. But the staff was helping her adjustment process feel easy, and she formed a bond with the coaches.

 

She didn’t feel nervous while waiting for the coaches to call the players. She did her best, and she felt confident. 

 

When she gets called up, Steve talks to her. Head coach, Steve. He said that they’d been watching her already, and wanted to see if she could play center back. They wanted to see her more, so he asked if she wanted to go to a few team practices next month.

 

She said yes.

 

February 2019

 

Over the next month, Emily’s room became less red and green, and more orange and blue. She’s spent almost every weekend working on becoming the best center back in the state of Oregon.

 

When she gets back to Charlottesville, it had just snowed. The Appalachian mountains, evergreens, and Jefferson Rotunda were all covered in white. It was peaceful. 

 

The practices were fun. The team was really great and they had great chemistry. They were also incredibly accepting towards Emily. She felt at home when she was on the pitch and with the players.

 

The coaching staff congratulated her for getting through a college level practice, and said she has great potential. 

 

She goes back home with a smile and newfound dream.

 

March 2019

 

Emily’s been checking the mailbox everyday since Steve had told her they might send her an offer. She checks until March 16, when the large envelope with the UVA stamp on it shows up.

 

There are two papers in the envelope. The first one is a standard letter of acceptance, but the second one is so much more. The second one is long, and a little drawn out, but so worth it. She skims it a little, until she gets down to the bottom and has to read the last sentence four times over.

 

“We at the University of Virginia would be delighted to have you attend our school on a four year, full athletic scholarship for soccer.”

 

She cries tears of joy. 

 

Once she settles down, she says a big ‘fuck you’ to Stanford, and signs the paper. She also decides to change her number to 16.

Chapter Text

Emily doesn’t really think there’s anything prettier than Mt. Hood covered in snow, except maybe the way Kelley’s eyes shimmer in the golden rays of the sun. Emily doesn’t think there’s a better sound in the world than a ball hitting the sweet spot on her foot, except maybe Kelley’s laugh when Emily cracks a joke. Emily likes comfort and familiarity, and she has all that with Kelley, except not right now.

 

Right now they’re in a fight that Emily didn’t mean to start, and now she needs to fix it. Because she’s in love and needs her girlfriend during the holiday season. At least she hopes Kelley’s still her girlfriend. She did, after all, tell Kelley to leave her.

 

Emily’s left multiple texts and calls that go unanswered, and before she knows it, she's getting in her car and driving to Kelley’s house. She doesn’t know what she’s going to do, much less say, but it feels right. She’s gotta fight for them. 

 


 

She’s about to turn and run back to her car because of the cold December air, when Kelley’s front door opens. 

 

“Emily, what are you doing here? And in shorts too?” 

 

“I’m sorry for being a bitch earlier. I love you, and you deserve that opportunity at Stanford more than anyone, and I’m sorry I got so jealous about it,” Emily rushed out before Kelley could ask more questions.

 

“Jealous of what?” Kelley crossed her arms across her chest to keep her core warm.

 

“Fuck, ok. Five people know about this in the entire world, and you’re about to be number six,” Kelley looked expectedly at Emily, waiting for her to continue, “My dream school was Stanford. There was nowhere else I wanted to go, until I went to an ID camp and they told me I wasn’t good enough. I was borderline depressed for weeks after that, before my parents forced me to go across the country to another ID camp, and well, the rest is history,” Kelley stayed quiet after Emily finished, letting the information settle.

 

“So you’re jealous of me? Emily, jealousy shouldn’t be in a relationship. You should’ve told me about it,” Kelley loosens up a little, becoming softer. She rubs her arms to try and keep them warm and wonders how Emily isn’t freezing.

 

“I know, Kel. Fuck, I wish you knew how upset I am with myself. It’s just, I’ve locked that part of me away for good. The failure that I was, I had gotten over it. But then I saw Tim and those feelings resurfaced. The insecurities I had worked so hard to overcome.” Emily began pacing slightly, hugging herself to stay warm.

 

“How do you know Tim?” That was just one of the many questions Kelley had.

 

“When I went to their camp, he was the midfield coach. And yes, before you ask, I was a midfielder before. Virginia actually moved me down to center back before they gave me an offer,” Emily smiled a bit recalling that camp, “Anyways. I’m sorry. Communication is key, and I didn’t talk to you about something you’re passionate about. I’m really proud of you Kel, not many people can have a high caliber school like Stanford in their bubble while injured.” 

 

“Em, I get why you didn’t talk to me about it. You’re still hurt from it, and it drove you to be who you are today. The you that I love. I just don’t get why you couldn’t have handled it better, I guess,” Kelley finished with a shrug as Emily took a step towards her.

 

“I love you, Kel. I won’t ever keep something away from you again, I promise. I promise to talk to you about everything,” Her eyes fill with tears before Kelley wraps her in a tight hug.

 

“I love you too,” Kelley whispers, pressing a long kiss on Emily’s cheek, “When I first started liking you, Alex had told me to wait for you, to be there for you. I wasn’t here when you had to deal with this, but I’m here now. You don’t have to fight your demons alone, love.” 

 

“How are you so fucking good?” Emily asked in her ear, mesmerized by her girlfriend.

 

“With you it’s easy,” It's cliche, but true. Kelley’s never been more at ease than when she’s with Emily. She pulls back from their tight hug enough to lean up and place a sweet kiss on Emily’s lips. Her hands travel down to Emily’s and she’s pulling back from the freeze of Emily’s body, “Em, are you ok? You’re freezing.” 

 

“I’ll be fine. Can I come in though? Might need to warm up a little bit,” Emily’s got that goofy sideways grin that shows one of her dimples, and Kelley couldn’t be more in love.

 

They go inside and Emily charms Kelley’s parents like always. They first met in mid November, Emily getting the typical dad talk from Kelley’s father. She didn’t really need it though, she’d never try to hurt Kelley in a million years. 

 

Once they get to Kelley’s room, Emily picks out one of her own sweatshirts from Kelley’s collection and puts it on, enjoying how it smells like Kelley. She hadn’t even noticed that Kelley was wearing Emily’s UVA sweatshirt until she got a full look at Kelley. The soft yellow light from her room and the fleeting winter sun turning the sky purple and gold and gray in the background and her gorgeous girlfriend in the foreground.

 

Emily sat on Kelley’s bed and tucked her legs up into her body, holding them tight to get warm again. Wearing shorts in the dead of winter wasn’t the best idea, she thinks. But Kelley walks over and sits next to her, wrapping her warm arms around Emily’s shivering frame and swaying them gently.

Chapter Text

"Em, we can't. Not now. My parents are downstairs," Kelley whispered, breathless. She had to take Emily's hand in her own and slide it up her body so Emily couldn't get to where she was trying to go. They've gotten more intimate now, over break. Kelley wants to have sex with Emily, longs for it, but she never feels like it's the right time. She thinks that both hers and their first time should be special - should mean more than sex itself. So she's been stopping Emily's advances, letting it go a hair longer each time, before ultimately breaking it up to cuddle with Emily. She knows she's giving her girlfriend the female version of blue balls ("what would that be called? Blue ovaries?" she asked, genuinely curious as to what the equivalent would be), but Kelley hasn't been ready yet.

 

Emily's been more than respectful for Kelley's wishes, though. Despite getting worked up for it to go nowhere, she gladly becomes the big spoon and places innocent kisses to Kelley's neck and shoulders. After the first few times Kelley's cock-blocked (again, what would that be called?) Emily, she learned to be content with what she's getting. They went from standard heated make outs to Emily slipping her hand under Kelley's shirt and caressing the skin of Kelley's stomach. They went from stationary lower halves to Emily slowly grinding down onto Kelley's leg and running her hands up and down Kelley's sides and legs.

 

Progress.

 

"But do you want to?" Of course she does. Kelley wouldn't let Emily get this close to almost doing it if she didn't want it too. She respects her body, she knows what she wants and doesn't.

 

"God yes, Em. But we can't do it right now," Emily props herself up on her elbow, leaning in and placing another slow kiss on Kelley's lips. She moves her hand down to Kelley's ankle, doing physiotherapy exercises on it.

 

"Come to my house tomorrow. My parents are leaving for a cruise and Emma will probably be with her boyfriend," Kelley stares at Emily's pale blue eyes, wondering if what she just said was true. If they could really be having sex tomorrow. Emily knows better than to rush Kelley into sex, especially if it made her uncomfortable. But she has a feeling Kelley would be ok with her proposition, so that's why she asked. Because they're in love and both of them want to take it to the next level.

 

"Are you sure?" Emily's a little surprised that it was Kelley to ask if Emily was ok, like she didn't know Emily touched herself every night thinking about Kelley (something she has no shame in admitting, either).

 

"Babe, I've never been more sure of anything. I'll make it all special and nice so it's memorable. I want our first time to be good too, Kel," The chivalry and respect Emily has for Kelley is beyond adorable. Emily worships the ground Kelley walks on.

 

"Ok," Emily lets out a little squeal, "we're having sex tomorrow. No big deal, right?" Emily's shaking her head no and Kelley's laughing at the dork in front of her, before leaning up and placing another kiss on Emily's lips.

 

"I love you, Kel."

 

"I love you too, Em."

 


 

Once her parents and Emma left, Emily was in planning mode. She wanted everything to be perfect for Kelley - for them. Her first first time wasn't elegant or special at all. It was awkward and she didn't come, and she definitely does not want that to happen again. She steals the candles in her mom's bathroom and sets them up in her room, except she can't find a lighter or match to light them. 

 

'Alright Emily, this isn't a big deal. Just make sure the music works,' She thinks to herself, moving to her dresser where her bluetooth speaker is. She goes to turn it on, only to find out it's dead and Emma took the charger. By the time her mini freakout subsided and her brain gets back to work to fix this, Kelley's ringing the doorbell and Emily sulks to answer the door.

 

They don't talk until Emily's closing her bedroom door behind them and locking it for good measure. Her shoulders are slightly slumped and she's thinking about how not special this is when Kelley breaks the silence. 

 

"Are you ok?" Emily wants to lie so the mood isn't completely thrown off, but she can't find it in her to do so.

 

"No. I fucked this up. I can't light the candles, the music won't play, it isn't special..." Emily expects to look up and see Kelley disappointed, but she isn't. She has a soft smile and caring eyes as she closes the distance between them - the clunkiness of her boot making Emily smile a bit - and hugs her.

 

"Emily, we love each other, right?" Emily nods her head into Kelley's shoulder, "Then it's already special, love. As long as we're doing this together, it'll be special," Kelley keeps he voice smooth and calm before pressing light kisses to Emily's cheek, turning her head until she reaches her mouth.

 

"Are you sure you want to do this? We don't have to," One of the things Kelley loves about Emily is the way she always respects her. Emily wouldn't do anything Kelley's uncomfortable with. 

 

"Emily, I'm sure," Emily doesn't 100% buy it at first, but when Kelley surges forward and places a heated kiss to her lips, she knows she can continue. 

 

Emily's hands always wander whenever they make out. It's usually up and down Kelley's sides, or up Kelley's arms, or to wrap around her neck, but they've never traveled here. Under Kelley's shirt, getting closer and closer to Kelley's breasts. She doesn't make anything of it at first, thinking Emily's hands would slide back down and out from under her shirt, but when Emily's thumb rolls over her already hardened nipple, she pulls back.

 

"Kel, are you sure about this? If you aren't ready we don't have to, babe," Kelley knows what Emily's doing. She's giving her an out, but Kelley doesn't want to take it. So instead, she takes her shirt and bra off, watching as Emily's eyes go wide before darkening with lust, "Oh, shit."

 

"Emily, I'm ready whenever you are. If you want my consent though, you have it. Fuck me, baby," Emily prides herself on keeping cool, but when Kelley's talking like that, she doesn't think she'd be able to stay calm any much longer. 

 

She feels like a fool when she trips over her jeans, going way too fast for it to be remotely sexy. But Kelley's laughing at Emily's misfortune, and suddenly the sex they're about to have doesn't feel like a 'first time'. It feels familiar.

 

Once Emily strips her clothes, Kelley's mouth gets dry while her underwear gets wet. Emily's hot; she knows this. She knows what Emily's strong legs and abs look like, but this up close, this intimate is an entirely different hot. She watches Emily's strong arms flex while leaning up to connect their lips back together, and a second later she feels those arms creep up to her breasts, cupping them gently. She doesn't even attempt to muffle the moan that elicited from the feeling, causing Emily to break the kiss and make her way down Kelley's body. She stops at Kelley's neck first; biting her pulse point and smoothing it over with her tongue, before kissing her way down the valley between Kelley's breasts. 

 

Kelley has the realization, as Emily's kissing and licking her nipples, that she's about to have sex. For the first time. It scares her a little, but apparently enough for Emily to notice the way her breath changed and her heart starting racing more.

 

"Baby, relax, I want you to be comfortable. If you want to stop, we will," And Kelley wants to tell Emily to shut up about stopping, because they're already this far. But she doesn't, instead focusing on the feeling of Emily's skin pressed up against her. Focusing on the way Emily's voice sounded: so caring and laden in love. She's been comfortable since this started, she thinks.

 

"I'm good, Em. Just, can you maybe-," Before she can finish, Emily's already attaching her mouth to Kelley's nipple, sucking lightly and drawing out a long moan. 

 

Kelley learned a while ago that Emily has trouble staying at the task on hand. Except, maybe not this task. The reverence she has for Kelley and her body, it's unprecedented. Kelley hears the quiet whispers from Emily as she makes her way down Kelley's body, worshipping it. Kelley may have teased Emily about it any other time, but given the circumstances, she's speechless. Emily pulls Kelley's boot off, rubbing the ankle a little before sliding her leggings off.

 

"You're gorgeous, Kel," Emily doesn't expect an answer, seeing as how out of it Kelley is, so she caresses her thighs and peels Kelley's underwear off, "You're so fucking beautiful, babe," her voice shakes at the end, and Kelley can hear how nervous Emily is as well. Kelley knows how wet she is, she felt it rubbing against her inner thighs. She's so incredibly aroused, it probably won't take long for Emily to make her come. Especially if Emily continues to do what she's doing.

 

Emily took one long, steady lick up Kelley's slit, moaning at the taste of her girlfriend. Kelley's back arches up, hips bucking accidentally into Emily's waiting mouth. She can feel Emily smile against her, before taking her clit in her mouth and sucking gently. 

 

Yeah, it won't take Kelley long to come at all. 

 

"Can I put my fingers in you?" It comes out breathless, and makes Kelley moan more at the thought, "Unless you don't want to, I'm here at your disposal."

 

"Em, stop talking and do it. Please."

 

It's not like Kelley's never touched herself (in fact, she remembers after that first kiss- no, now's not the time), but she's never been this turned on. Emily slips her middle finger in first, relishing in the feeling of Kelley's wetness saturating her single digit. She works Kelley up with the lone finger, curling it ever so slightly, and enjoying the view of her girlfriend grinding to match the rhythm. 

 

She can feel (and hear, Kelley isn't trying at all to be quiet) that Kelley's getting close, and that's when she removes her hand for a moment, hearing as Kelley whines a little, before plunging both her middle and ring finger back inside. 

 

And... shit. 

 

Kelley's about two seconds away from coming when Emily curls her fingers to hit her g-spot perfectly. She's closer now, beginning to feel the sheer amount of ecstasy that comes from coming. She's gasping and writhing, and it's then that Emily takes her clit back in her mouth, sucking hard, causing Kelley to spasm as she tumbles over the edge. 

 

Emily lets her ride it out, slowing her movements to draw out the orgasm as long as possible. Once Kelley's walls have relaxed enough for Emily to pull her fingers out, she crawls back up Kelley's body and kisses her hard. They don't break until Kelley's hand travels down to Emily's underwear and she's pulling back slightly.

 

"You don't have to," Emily didn't expect Kelley to want to return the favor, more than content to finish herself off at a later time.

 

"Babe, I'm not going to become a pillow princess. I'm making you come, no ifs, ands, or buts."

 

It didn't take long for Emily to come either. She got so worked up seeing Kelley come, all it took were two fingers inside her and Kelley's thumb on her clit for a couple minutes for her to be clenching around Kelley, gasping and moaning.

 

They fall onto the bed, spent and sweaty. Emily has her hands wrapped around Kelley, kissing her head and whispering sweet nothings as they both catch their breath. Kelley feels love for the first time, Emily's never felt more love in her life.

 

Chapter Text

Kelley's been weird. They had sex a couple days ago, and Emily can't help to think that that's the reason why. The reason why Kelley's been so distant, so quiet. She thinks that Kelley thinks it was a mistake, or was too early in their relationship, and it's making her feel shitty. Because what if she had pressured Kelley into it, without her wanting to? What if her inability to keep it in her pants causes them to breakup?

She wants to talk about it with Kelley, but every time they hang out she loses her courage. Because if they were to break up, she'd want to drag it out as long as possible. But it's been three days, and Kelley's still awkward and quiet. So Emily pulls her big girl pants on and decides to confront her. Except with alcohol in her veins.

 

They're at a team Christmas party, and someone (Alex) had thought of the grand idea of making spiked eggnog and jello shots. And, well, if this were literally any other circumstance, Emily would have Kelley pinned to a wall and swappin' pheromones because of the insane attraction she's feeling (and alcohol). So instead, she's staring at Kelley from the corner of the room like a creeper, watching as she dances and laughs and talks to everyone but Emily. 

 

Emily's not one to get jealous, she just thinks it's pointless and shows a lack of trust, but right now she feels something in her chest that she's never felt before. 

 

It's, surprisingly, Rose that notices the change in Emily's demeanor. Sweet, oblivious Rose notices the way Emily's gripping her cup just a little harder, her knuckles getting white and her jaw setting. 

 

"Sonny, are you ok?" She whispered into Emily's ear warily, not wanting to set something off in her captain. Emily takes one final look towards Kelley, watching as she starts grinding up on Crystal, before putting on the most (un)believable smile she could muster.

 

"All good, Lavelle. I think I'm going to head out though, order an Uber and all that shit," She doesn't have a bite in her voice that she thought she would, instead it's more sad. And she knows Rose isn't dumb, she can read people like a book, but the brunette doesn't press. Just gives her a tight hug and a sad smile before leaving Emily. 

 

The Uber's three minutes out, and Emily's head is hung and she's kicking a rock to pass the time. The cool bite of the December air cooling her red hot skin, grounding her a bit. She doesn't know what's going on with Kelley, and is starting to not care, at this point. Because she's gone through heartbreak enough times to know she'll get through it. Her coping mechanisms work and she knows she has a solid support system to catch her if she falls. She knows she'd be fine if Kelley decided to end things, decided that this was just a fling that wasn't going to go anywhere. Except, she really wouldn't be fine. Because she truly, wholeheartedly loves Kelley, and can't imagine living life without her. 

 


 

She feels bad for the poor Uber driving at the front wheel. Having to deal with a drunk, sad teenage girl must suck, but add in the fact that she doesn't know where she wants to go make it's ten times worse. By the fourth change in destination, the driver's had enough and just drops her off downtown, too fed up with her antics. All she really wants right now is either a hug from a certain somebody, or something sweet. Like a donut.

 

She makes it to Voodoo, slightly impressed that she didn't spill into the road and get squashed (that water bottle her driver gave her really did work wonders). And her mouth is practically salivating by the time she makes it to the door, only to find out the lights are off and the doors are locked. Because it's 11 pm, two days before Christmas. So she slumps down on the sidewalk, taking her phone out and texting the first person her mind can think of. 

 


 

Kelley felt her phone buzz. That's what stops her from taking her umpteenth shot. She expects it to be a snapchat or something dumb like that, except it's really, really important. So she drops her shot glass, fills up a large cup of water, orders an Uber, and rushes out of the lively party.

 

"Fuck. Em," She whispers to no one in particular, pacing the width of the driveway as she awaits her car. 

 

The water sobers her up just enough so it's not obvious when she walks up to the door, popping a piece of gum in her mouth, and takes a deep breath. 

 


 

"You came," Emily's caught between a state of bliss and exhaustion, her body not knowing which one to feel yet. 

 

"Of course I came. I'm worried about you," She stares up into those kind eyes and focuses on the warm hand on her shoulder. "Drink this." And that warm hand is now bringing a water bottle to Emily's mouth, tilting it back enough for Emily to drink. She takes long sips, feeling the water cleanse and sober her body up.

 

"Come sit with me," Emily blindly grabs up, trying to reach those warm arms again.

 

"The ground is dirty," Emily's pouting, her bottom lip stuck out as she huffs in defeat. 

 

"It's comfortable," And before she knows it, a warm body is now next to her, allowing Emily to lean her head on her shoulder. "What now?"

 

She doesn't talk for a while, relishing in the feeling of Emily on her, before answering, "I reckon we get you home."

 

Emily snorts a little, "What's with you Aussies and saying 'reckon'? Like, what does that even mean?" 

 

"I don't know, Em. It's just something I grew up saying," Her voice is soft, and Emily's able to hear the full accent in her voice. It always makes its boldest appearances when she talks quietly. "I miss you, Emily."

 


 

"Em, I'm sorry." Kelley immediately cries when the door opens. She's met with pale blue eyes and light freckles, except they aren't Emily's. 

 

"Kelley? What are you doing here this late?" And the voice is familiar, has the same pitch, but it isn't Emily's.

 

"Where's Emily? I have to apologize to her."

 

"Apologize about what, Kelley?"

 

"I've been ignoring her. Virginia's been looking at me, and I wanted it to be a surprise, but I don't want to go there. I feel so guilty, and- and Emily's been there, but I- I'm shutting her out and she doesn't deserve it," Kelley's full on sobbing now, the weight of how she's been treating Emily finally crashing down on her. "Do you know where she is, Emma?" 

 

"She said she was going to the team Christmas party."

 

"Wha-? No. That's impossible. I was just there, I didn't see her anywhere..." She trails off, wracking her memory to see if she saw Emily there.

 

"Fuck. Ok Kelley, we're going for a drive. She's got to be at Voodoo." Kelley's not going to question Emma's thinking because of their so-called 'twin telepathy', as Emily had put it countless amounts of times. 

 

Chapter Text

"I can't go back to you," Emily says. She wouldn't be able to live with herself if she gave Hayley the umpteenth chance. 

 

"Why? We're good for each other, Emily." And Emily isn't nearly sober enough to deal with this kind of conversation, so she pulls herself up off the ground and tries to gain her footing. 

 

"No, we aren't. I gotta go." But before Emily has the chance to turn around, Hayley's hands are on her forearms, cementing her to the ground. The touch feels distant, like if Emily tries to remember a time when this was her favorite feeling it'd be difficult to find. Because the touch that Emily longs for - the touch she loves - is Kelley's. And she made the mistake of bringing her ex into this. 

 

"Em, please. Just one more chance," Hayley begged, and Emily's too drunk for this. Emily looked in Hayley's eyes, really looked, and saw-

 

Well, she saw sadness. And pleading. And maybe the beginning formations of tears.

 

She's too drunk.

 

"I can't," She whispers, lacking conviction, and her breath hitches when Hayley's fingers lace into her own. Because that sense of familiarity that always brought the two of them back together was present. 

 

She's too fucking drunk. She shouldn't be doing this. She has a girlfriend.

 

"I love you. Always have, always will. Just, please give us another shot." The arms length distance they had between them narrows, their forearms brushing together. Emily's a solid inch taller than Hayley, but why does she feel so small? So out of power?

 

She's way too drunk. She's so drunk and focused that she doesn't hear the car slow down from the street, only to speed off a mere second later. 

 

She'll investigate later, though.

 


 

"Hey," Emma's voice snaps Kelley out of her trance, "Relax. Em's almost always there, and if she isn't then she's on her way back home. I've dealt with this long enough to know her patterns, she's good." But Kelley's legs can't stop bouncing, and she's picked her cuticles raw. She has a bad feeling about tonight. Like it's cursed, somehow.

 

"Did I ever tell you about the time Em almost got expelled?" She doesn't even wait for Kelley to talk, just dissolves into the story. Kelley's barely paying attention, too busy thinking of impossible scenarios while watching the buildings of downtown pass by. She does, however, hear about how Emily stole food from the cafeteria to hand out - like Robin Hood - and she can't help but smile. Because that's her Emily. The Emily that'll do something reckless or dangerous for other people's satisfaction. That'll go the extra mile to make sure people around her are happy and content. And that's probably the thing Kelley loves most about Emily. That and the completely two-sided trust they have.

 

She starts opening up to Emma more. After all, she is driving her to Emily in the middle of the night. She's joking and singing along to the radio and smiling, but then the car is starting to slow and she realizes they're a block from Voodoo. So Emma turns the volume down, driving slowly to try and find Emily wandering around the streets. Kelley sees the back of Emily first, her messy blonde bun and posture that's just so uniquely Emily. She's standing still, and it almost looks like there's someone else in front of her, but Kelley can't see from where they are. They'd have to drive past her to see.

 

They're going no more than five miles an hour, per Kelley's request, because it'd be easier to call Emily out from a slow car than a fast one. They're maybe 15 feet away, and Kelley's window is already rolled down, when a second figure finally enters their field of view. Emily and this other person's hands are intertwined, and the smile on Kelley's face falters, but then she sees the face of the person holding Emily, and her smile completely falls. She sinks back into her seat and Emma's already rolling Kelley's window up and speeding off, just as upset at her sister as Kelley is. 

 

"It's going to alright, Kelley. I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding." Because all misunderstandings look like that. Like, if they weren't in the middle of the fucking street, they'd be all over each other, all thoughts of Kelley gone from Emily's mind. And Kelley knows it's irrational to think that Emily would do something as vile as cheating, because after all, she'd been stung from unfaithfulness all too much. She knows it's irrational to think that Emily doesn't love Kelley the way she tells her. But Kelley knows that Hayley's always been Emily's weakest point, and that the idea of Emily leaving her for Hayley wouldn't be too far-fetched. So she sits quietly in the passenger seat, spending the 20 minutes it takes to get to her house fighting back the tears threatening to spill. 

 

Kelley goes home that night, tears burning her eyes, but they don't fall. Instead, they just hang there, like if they decide to fall it'd mean more than what Kelley saw. Because Kelley doesn't know what she saw. Maybe Hayley had found her outside the shop, and Emily was upset or sad or hurt and she was there to comfort her. But if that was the case, wouldn't Kelley have gotten a call from Emily? Maybe Emily was exorcising her demon for the final time, and Hayley wasn't letting her go. But wouldn't at least one of them look sad if that were the case? Maybe Hayley was walking down the street and Emily stumbled into her, so she held on to stabilize her. But why would she be walking around Portland in the middle of the night? And wouldn't Emily look off balance and wobbly? Not stable and steady?

 

Kelley knows Emily. She knows how shitty she felt every time Hayley had cheated, so she can't wrap her head around the hypocrisy of this. Because one of the first thing's Kelley ever noticed about Emily was how broken she looked. How closed off she seemed, even if she was talking to everyone about anything. And so Kelley vowed to open her up, to see the real Emily Sonnett, because that's a version no one's seen in a long time. She was starting to open up more and more as the days went on and she had forgotten about the heartbreak she's gone through in the past years, but Kelley thinks Emily had turtled back up recently. More specifically, tonight. 

 


 

[saucy sonny]: i need to talk to you.

 

That might've been the most formal text Kelley's ever received from Emily, and if what happened last night wasn't bouncing around her head like a pinball, she'd tease her about it. Except that's the only thing that's gone through her mind for the past eight hours. 

 

[Ms. Kelley]: I'll come over in fifteen

 

She has to mentally prepare for this as if it were a game. A very high-stress, make or break game. She's a brick wall of fortitude while playing, and this situation is kind of like that. Because she can't show pain or emotion if Emily does the unthinkable. If Emily throws away their relationship at the drop of a hat. 

 

Emily looks exactly like how she looked when she ran into Kelley that first day of school: frantic, stressed, heartbroken. Kelley could tell Emily was heartbroken the moment their eyes locked. And so right now, as Emily looks at her with soft eyes and an even softer sad smile, she doesn't know what to expect. Maybe she shouldn't have agreed to come. She should've tried to carry this out as long as possible, to avoid her own heartbreak. She should've-

 

"Come in," Emily's raspy morning voice keeps her mind from wandering too much. It's the voice she has whenever she gets little amounts of sleep, but Kelley's only heard it on school days. It's not early right now, a couple minutes past noon, so there's really only one explanation as to why Emily looks and sounds like sleep deprivation: she's been up all night too. 

 

"What'd you need to talk to me about?" Kelley asked, feigning nervousness. 

 

"Why have you been so weird lately? Are you regretting us having sex?" And that was definitely not what Kelley expected when she walked through the threshold into Emily's room. She honestly forgot about what she had to tell Emily in the first place until she saw the big Virginia banner hanging on Emily's wall. Then she remembered.

 

She took a big, deep breath and a moment to articulate her thoughts in an orderly fashion before saying:

 

"Virginia's been looking at me for a few months now, apparently," Emily's eyebrows raise and her mouth starts to twitch upwards in a smile before, "But I don't want to go. If they were to give me an offer, I'd decline it." and her eyebrows drop and her mouth droops down to a frown, her head following suit.

 

"You could've told me that you didn't see a future for us, ya know," Emily says before letting out a shaky breath. Moving around Kelley to sit on her bed.

 

"You could've too," And it's out before she thinks about what she just said. 

 

"What's that supposed to mean?" There's an accusatory tone to Emily's voice and her voice rumbles through the silent room.

 

"Emma and I went out to find you last night, little did we know you were already found." Kelley did not want to be saying any of this right now, but once she started she couldn't be stopped. The floodgates opened.

 

"Ok, fuck you, first off," Emily scoffed, "Secondly, I didn't even try to call her! She's just my first call most times!" Kelley doesn't have to effort to delve into that. The fact that her ex is her number one call instead of her.

 

"Do you love me?"

 

"That's a loaded question."

 

"Do you love me, Emily? Just say you don't so I can leave with confirmation." Her voice shakes and her eyes water, but she's not going to cry in front of Emily. 

 

"Confirmation of what? Kel, I love you more than I've loved anyone else in my life," She got up from her perch and wrapped Kelley into a bone shattering hug. "You're all I think about, Kelley. I'm- I'm crazy about you." 

 


 

"I gave you too many chances in the past. I can't do that to myself again." Emily finally found her voice after the initial shock. She needed to end this, once and for all. For her sake and Kelley's. Because Kelley doesn't deserve this. The constant nag of Emily's ex in their intertwined lives. Emily doesn't deserve this either. The looming fear that she'd slip into the same patterns all over again, the feelings of love absent from her life. 

 

"This'll be the last one, Em. I promise I'll do better." Emily just realizes that their arms are still touching, so she takes a step back and puts her hands behind her back. She stands up as tall as possible and sets her jaw. 

 

"You're promises stopped meaning anything to me a while ago, Raso. I have a girlfriend now, so please stop doing this bullshit with me." This is the most Emily's ever stood up for herself, which is a horrible thing to think about, but it was getting old. She would never forgive herself if she got back together with Hayley, she knows it. So she's cutting off loose ends, ends that could potentially come back to bite her in the ass if they aren't taken care of soon. 

 

"Do you love me?" And Hayley's voice is quiet and breaking. Emily wonders if this is how she kept getting lured back in, because she's a fixer. And seeing people broken and shattered makes her want to fix them. She also ponders the question for a moment, racking her brain back to when they first went around this carousel. After that first breakup, Emily's heart was visibly damaged. She wouldn't really talk to anyone besides Lindsey for the week following, but as the separations grew in mass, the heartbreak became less and less. It was the norm, for Emily, to always be hurt, so when she met Kelley her life was thrown off kilter. Because here was this girl from Georgia that's never seen Emily at her lowest. And so Emily became her genuine self around Kelley. The funny, sweet, goofy self that's been lost under the rubble of her shattered heart more than once. As they got closer, and eventually realized they had feelings for each other, the cracks in Emily's heart was filled with Kelley's love. A true, genuine, unconditional love that she's never felt before. And soon enough, she only felt love. No pain or damage.

 

"If you asked me that five months ago I would've said yes in a heartbeat, but someone's filled the cracks in my soul. Somebody else," She ordered another Uber to take her home fifteen minutes ago, and checked her phone to see that the car was a street down before turning to her ex for one final piece of say, "And right now, I have to go home so tomorrow I can see her." The car pulled up next to her a second later, and she entered without so much as a glance towards the slumping Aussie on the curb.

 

She was free.