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Been waiting for you...

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So we're okay

We're fine

Baby I'm here to stop your crying

Chase all the ghosts from your head

I'm stronger than the monster beneath your bed

Smarter than the tricks played on your heart

We'll look at them together then we'll take them apart

Adding up the total of a love that's true

Multiply life by the power of two

You know the things that I am afraid of

I'm not afraid to tell

And if we ever leave a legacy

It's that we loved each other well

(Tobin - “Power of Two” by Indigo Girls)



Let it go

Let it roll right off your shoulder

Don't you know

The hardest part is over

Let it in

Let your clarity define you

In the end

We will only just remember how it feels

Our lives are made,

In these small hours

These little wonders

These twists and turns of fate

Time falls away

But these small hours

These small hours still remain

Let it slide

Let your troubles fall behind you

Let it shine

Until you feel it all around you

(Christen - “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas)

 

 

[Tobin Heath 8:02PM]

...I’ve thought about what I could text you for the past thirty minutes, and the best I could come up with was hi

[Christen Press 8:04PM]

Hi works. Hi back!

[Tobin Heath 8:05PM]

I’m much smoother in person

[Christen Press 8:05PM]

You should let other people tell you you’re smooth…

[Christen Press 8:05PM]

(you’re smooth)

[Tobin Heath 8:05PM]

Well thank god for that

[Christen Press 8:06PM]

How was your day? How’s my favorite soccer player?

[Tobin Heath 8:06PM]

My day was good, and she’s absolutely zonked

 

Tobin took a picture of Scottie completely passed out on her lap, the bedsheets pulled up around her body, and some Disney movie playing on the TV on the wall. 

 

[Tobin Heath 8:06PM]

ATTACHMENT: 1 IMAGE 

[Christen Press 8:07PM]

She’s adorable, even if she’s sleeping through Brave !

[Tobin Heath 8:07PM]

Who’s forcing you to know Disney movie titles?

[Christen Press 8:07PM]

...no one

[Christen Press 8:07PM]

They’re good movies! 

[Tobin Heath 8:07PM]

Abby told me you vacuum to Frozen now

[Christen Press 8:08PM]

That was said in confidence...

[Tobin Heath 8:08PM]

It’s really cute

[Christen Press 8:08PM]

In that case, guess what I’m listening to right now?

[Christen Press 8:08PM]

ATTACHMENT: 1 IMAGE

 

Tobin laughed softly as soon as she looked at the image. Christen was clearly vacuuming, having snapped an aerial shot of the vacuum to send to her. 

 

[Tobin Heath 8:10PM]

I bet your neighbors love you

[Christen Press 8:10PM]

It’s only 8PM, Grandma. My neighbors aren’t even home yet.

[Tobin Heath 8:10PM]

Why aren’t you out on the town, then?

[Christen Press 8:10PM]

I have a reason to stay home.

 

Tobin couldn’t help the way her heart fluttered at the idea that Christen’s reason to stay home was that she was interested in something with Tobin and not with anyone else. She couldn’t fully wrap her head around why Christen wanted something with her, but she wasn’t about to question it.

 

[Tobin Heath 8:10PM]

Ah, the vacuuming. I see...

[Christen Press 8:11PM]

Yup, totally just the vacuuming. Not anyone in particular.

[Tobin Heath 8:12PM]

Have you gotten to “Reindeers are Better than People” yet?

[Christen Press 8:12PM]

I skipped it :)

[Tobin Heath 8:12PM]

I have a confession to make

[Christen Press 8:12PM]

Confess away, I’m just belting “Let It Go” over here.

[Tobin Heath 8:12PM]

I bet it sounds great

[Christen Press 8:12PM]

Great = horrible off-key screeching

[Tobin Heath 8:13PM]

I doubt that

[Tobin Heath 8:13PM]

My confession though...I did something bad

[Christen Press 8:13PM]

Care to share?

[Tobin Heath 8:13PM]

I took the Frozen CD out of my car and told Scottie that it’s the only copy in the world

[Christen Press 8:13PM]

TOBIN.

[Christen Press 8:13PM]

That is evil...but also genius...

[Tobin Heath 8:14PM]

I drove back from New Jersey to the Moana soundtrack today, and I’ve never been happier to hear The Rock sing

[Christen Press 8:14PM]

What’s Moana? ;)

[Tobin Heath 8:14PM]

Don’t do that to me again

[Christen Press 8:14PM]

You’re right, I’ll do it in front of Scottie tomorrow.

[Tobin Heath 8:15PM]

She’ll be talking about it all practice

[Christen Press 8:18PM]

Hopefully the whole car ride home too :)

[Tobin Heath 8:19PM]

Are you sure you like me?

[Christen Press 8:19PM]

Let me check…

[Christen Press 8:19PM]

Yes, I definitely like you.

[Tobin Heath 8:19PM]

Funny way of showing it

[Christen Press 8:19PM]

Oh, how should I be showing it?

 

Tobin’s eyebrows shot up a little at the slightly suggestive text. She hadn't expected that from Christen, not today or this soon. Not that Tobin would complain about that. Christen had already made her heart race and her stomach flip, but now, knowing she liked her back, sent Tobin’s feelings into overdrive.

 

[Christen Press 8:20PM]

Sorry that definitely didn’t sound as forward in my head.

[Tobin Heath 8:22PM]

I was gonna suggest encouraging Scottie to listen to some classic rock or something

[Tobin Heath 8:22PM]

 Oooh or maybe if I tell her that Christen loves Frank Ocean, she’ll be into that

[Christen Press 8:23PM]

I can do that!

[Tobin Heath 8:24PM]

When she was four, I got her into a solid Bob Marley phase, but then she found Disney

[Christen Press 8:24PM]

Just wait until she’s listening to grunge rock and rebelling. You’ll wish for the Disney phase.

[Tobin Heath 8:25PM]

MY KID?! No way. We don’t rebel in this house

[Christen Press 8:25PM]

Everyone rebels, Tobin. It’s a right of passage!

[Tobin Heath 8:25PM]

I didn’t rebel...

[Christen Press 8:25PM]

Yeah, me neither...totally didn’t...

[Tobin Heath 8:27PM]

I’m sorry? Are there pictures of this rebellious teenage phase?

[Christen Press 8:27PM]

I’ll never tell! I have to hop on a call in a second, can I text you after?

[Tobin Heath 8:27PM]

Of course, I’ll just be watching a bear pantomime to its human daughter

 

Tobin leaned back against her pillows, setting her phone down beside her and focusing on the movie again. She ran her fingers through Scottie’s hair, unable to keep the face-splitting grin off of her face and the butterflies out of her chest. She hadn’t felt this way in years. She felt like a teenager again, trying to text her crush and say the right thing, balancing between flirty and too forward. It made her heart race and her cheeks hurt with how much she was smiling. 

Scottie squirmed a little in her lap to get more comfortable, letting out a long puff of air, and Tobin’s heart melted at how cute she was. Holding Scottie in her lap, knowing Christen wanted to give things a try, Tobin didn’t know if she’d ever felt this happy, and she wasn’t about to let it go. 


Christen hadn’t felt nervous like this in years. Especially not because of a crush. She felt like she was in high school again, with the blushing cheeks and anticipation making her stomach tight and her hands jittery. 

She and Tobin had texted well into the night, threading the needle of flirty and forward, telling jokes and teasing and learning a little more about one another. She learned that Tobin was a quick texter, responding quickly and giving her her full attention. She learned that Tobin was a night owl and usually went to bed much later than she did. She learned that even over text, Tobin’s compliments and sweet words could make her heart flutter. 

And today, Christen learned that she had no clue how she was going to act like Sunday night’s conversation hadn’t happened. 

“You’re all smiley,” Scottie noticed, tilting her head a little bit in thought. 

“Aren’t I always?” Christen replied, trying to hide the huge smile she knew was on her face, sending a pass back to Scottie softly.

“But today you’re really smiley. You’re really really sunshiney, happy yellow!” Scottie chirped.

“Sunshiney, happy yellow?” Christen repeated, cocking her head to the side and putting her hands on her hips.

“That’s your color. Mommy agreed,” Scottie said, putting her hands on her hips to mimic Christen. 

The mention of Tobin had that huge smile threatening to make its way back on her face again. Christen let her eyes jump over to where Tobin was sitting next to Becky on the bench, telling some story that required lots of hand gestures and facial expressions. 

Christen learned something else at that moment. She learned that Abby was right: she did have it bad. 

“Well if Tobin agreed, then it must be true. What’s your color, kid?” Christen replied, turning back to Scottie.

“Awesome purple!” Scottie cheered, flexing her arm muscles in a power pose. 

Christen threw back her head in laughter, unable not to find the response and the flexing absolutely adorable. “That’s definitely your color!” she replied with a grin, gesturing to the ball at Scottie’s feet for her to pass the ball.

“Mommy’s goofy orange,” Scottie added, hopping from foot to foot to a rhythm that no one heard but Scottie. 

“Goofy? She’s goofy?” Christen wondered, chasing after the slightly errant pass that Scottie sent her way thanks to the impromptu dancing she did before passing the ball.

“She’s the goofiest!” Scottie laughed, turning around to stick her tongue out at Tobin and get the same in return. 

Christen scrunched her nose at how cute the interaction was. She then shared a quick look with Tobin, which had them both blushing and looking quickly away. Christen shook her head, wondering how Becky and Kelley didn’t see it. She felt like everything had changed, like she and Tobin’s dynamic had fundamentally shifted and it was obvious to anyone paying attention. Every look felt shy yet charged, every word felt flirty yet sweet. She had no clue how they were supposed to keep this a secret. 

“Um, what’s the goofiest thing she’s ever done?” Christen asked, returning her focus to Scottie and ignoring the butterflies in her stomach as Tobin continued to watch her.

“One time, I got really sad, so Mommy sang me this silly song with a hairbrush microphone to make me feel better,” Scottie beamed. 

Based on the way her heart swelled at Scottie’s response, Christen knew she officially had it bad. She had it bad and it was still new and early and something undefined. But she was excited to figure out whatever this was with Tobin, ignoring the small voice in the back of her mind that wondered if she was enough.

“Did you and Mommy go to the park when I was at Grandma’s?” Scottie asked, squinting in the sunshine to look at Christen. 

“Why do you ask?” Christen shot back, tactfully avoiding the question and praying Scottie wouldn’t see the blush in her cheeks.

“Mommy’s really happy,” Scottie shrugged. 

“She’s not sad anymore?” Christen asked, knowing the answer but wanting Scottie to know it too.

“Nope, she even spelled my name in pancakes today!” Scottie grinned. 

“That sounds super-duper happy,” Christen grinned back, sending Scottie a pass and watching the girl trap it easily.

“Super-duper,” Scottie parrotted quietly. “I’ll be back!” Scottie said, running toward a group of her friends who’d just arrived for practice. 

Christen held her hand over her eyes, shielding her eyes from the sun. She watched Scottie greet her friends and felt a smile tug at her lips at the way Scottie’s hand gestures and facial expressions so perfectly mirrored Tobin’s.

“Hi,” Tobin hummed quietly, stopping a few feet away from Christen, a cup of coffee in each hand. 

Christen’s heart fluttered for the millionth time that day. She felt her smile grow as she turned to face Tobin. “Hi works,” she teased, eyes moving from the cup in Tobin’s hand up to meet Tobin’s warm brown eyes. 

“Coffee?” Tobin blushed, thankful that Kelley and Becky weren’t nearby to see or hear them. 

“Thank you,” Christen hummed, stepping closer, maybe a little closer than she should. 

“No problem,” Tobin said. From the corner of her eye, she saw Scottie and a few of her friends racing to talk to Kelley about something and felt a smile make its way across her face. Thanks to Kelley, she was about to get a few precious moments of privacy. 

Christen reached for one of the coffee cups in Tobin’s hand, letting her fingers trace against Tobin’s as she took the cup. “A trusted source told me that you’re happy,” she hummed, bringing the cup to her lips and enjoying the taste of the most perfect dirty chai tea latte. 

“You have a good source,” Tobin murmured, quickly lifting her own coffee cup to hide her dopey smile. 

When Christen dropped her cup away from her lips, she noticed a bit of writing peeking out above the sleeve of the cup.  She narrowed her eyes at it, seeing the words PULL DOWN scrawled on top of the sleeve in neat writing. 

Christen looked up at Tobin, arching her brow in confusion. “Pull down?” she said

“If you want,” Tobin shrugged, her eyes crinkling a little with a smile. 

Her confusion melting into giddy surprise, Christen pulled the sleeve of the coffee down. She felt her smile grow, her cheeks almost hurting with how big her smile was now. On the cup was a small doodle of her vacuuming, the lyrics to “Let It Go” in a small bubble near her head. 

“Good thing you didn’t accidentally give this to Kelley,” Christen teased, her eyes lifting to meet Tobin’s.

“Like she would have noticed it in her haste to get as much caffeine in as possible,” Tobin laughed. 

“Well, you’re very smooth,” Christen replied, referencing their conversation from last night.

“Who knew it only took doodles,” Tobin grinned.

“Who knew,”  Christen repeated at a whisper, a dreamy look on her face as she simply held the cup in her hands. She was lost in those brown eyes again, adrift and afloat and feeling so peaceful.

“I was wondering if-”

“Tar Heel! Book it to the bench,” Kelley called out, interrupting Tobin mid-sentence.

“Have fun,” Tobin mumbled, keeping an easy smile on her face and taking a deep breath to steady the nerves she’d built up while almost managing to ask Christen if she wanted to go out on a date soon.

Christen reached out and wrapped her fingers around Tobin’s wrist, squeezing it gently and quickly before releasing it. “Thank you for this,” she said again, mirroring Tobin’s easy smile. “I’ll see you after?”

“Of course,” Tobin nodded, stepping away and toward the bench, trying and failing to steady her racing heart the entire time. 


Tobin dumped the two newest postcards they’d gotten, one from New Zealand and the other from Australia, into the shoebox before Scottie ran back downstairs to the kitchen, shoving the box back onto the shelf and trying to leave her frustration on the shelf with the box too.

“Laundry day?” Scottie asked, as soon as she skidded to a halt near Tobin. 

“Every day is laundry day with you,” Tobin teased. “You’re the grass stain monster.”

“I want to wash my Christen jersey so I can wear it to the game this weekend!” Scottie announced, running up the stairs to her room.

Tobin followed after her, needing to grab her own laundry hamper to actually get a full load’s worth of clothes. 

“I’m sure she’ll love that you’re gonna wear the jersey again,” Tobin said, picking up a few of the clothes Scottie had left on her floor over the past couple of days. 

“I told Grandma about how last game, Christen let me come into the locker room and walk out with her and gave me her jersey after. And then I told her about how she’s my favorite and I’m her favorite and that I love her,” Scottie rambled, throwing around clothes, searching for the smaller version of the jersey Christen had given her, the one Tobin had Abby get for them.

Tobin’s heart beat a little faster with those words, not just because they were adorable, but also because Scottie loved Christen, and that was a reminder that if things went poorly, it wouldn’t just hurt two people. 

“Um...have you seen my jersey, Mommy?” Scottie asked, a slight panic in her voice as she continued to throw clothes around her room.

“No, buddy,” Tobin shook her head. “Let’s just retrace your steps, okay?” 

“I brought both of the jerseys to Grandma’s house to show her them, and I still have Christen’s-” Scottie said, sticking a hand up from behind her bed and holding up Christen’s game-worn jersey, “-but I don’t know where mine is.”

“Well, you could just wear Christen’s for the game, and we’ll find yours later,” Tobin suggested. 

“I can’t wear it,” Scottie replied matter of factly, gently folding the jersey on top of her bed and continuing her search.

“Why?” Tobin asked, wondering if she was missing something. 

“It’s too special. I would spill a snow cone or something on it and then Christen would be mad,” Scottie replied, diving under her bed in search of her jersey.

“She would not be mad, little bit,” Tobin sighed, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to convince Scottie to forget about her mini Christen jersey. Instead, she prepared herself to call her mom and see if it was still in New Jersey. 

“I GOT IT!” Scottie cheered, wiggling back out from under the bed, holding the jersey up with both hands and jumping around happily.

“We have got to clean up your room,” Tobin sighed, taking the jersey from Scottie and putting it in the laundry hamper. 

“This is clean,” Scottie shrugged.

“No way,” Tobin said, eyeing the shoes all over the floor and the toys spilling out from under her bed. 

“Yes way,” Scottie argued, putting her hands on her hips just like Christen did whenever Christen coached or wanted to get her point across.

“Why don’t you clean up in here while I do laundry and fix some lunch?” Tobin asked, hoping that Scottie wouldn’t put up a fight. 

“Why do I have to clean up a clean room?” Scottie argued, her hands still on her hips.

Tobin took a deep breath and knelt down on the floor. “Scottie, it would be really nice if I didn’t trip over your shoes when I put you to bed tonight. Do you think you could put the shoes away and put the toys in the baskets over there?” 

Scottie tapped her foot, seeming to think about that for a second. Finally, she dropped her hands from her hips and shrugged.

“I guess, Mommy. I don’t want you to trip.”

“Thank you,” Tobin said, reaching out and pulling Scottie closer for a hug and a quick kiss to the cheek. “I’ll come see how awesome you did when lunch is ready.”

 

[Tobin Heath 11:31AM]

You taught my kid your power pose, and it’s seriously affecting my parenting

 

Tobin pocketed her phone and started on laundry. By the time she had it sorted and the dark colors were swishing around in the washer, Tobin could hear Scottie walking around, likely tossing toys from the floor to the baskets, like she was playing basketball. She set about making sandwiches, only pausing when her phone buzzed in her pocket. 

 

[Christen Press 11:46AM]

My what?

[Tobin Heath 11:48AM]

Your power pose. You know, the hands on the hips and tapping foot thing 

[Christen Press 11:48AM]

I...I didn’t even realize I did that or that she noticed. Sorry?

[Tobin Heath 11:48AM]

It was adorable. Plus, I won the non-argument, so...

[Christen Press 11:48AM]

Maybe she’s not doing the power pose right then

 

Tobin couldn’t help the laugh that left her lips at Christen’s text. She glanced around the kitchen to make sure that Scottie hadn’t heard her from upstairs before looking back down at the message thread with Christen. 

 

[Tobin Heath 11:50AM]

I’m sure she’ll get it with more practice

[Christen Press 11:50AM]

I have to run and see the trainer really quick

[Christen Press 11:50AM]

Can I take you guys out for ice cream later?

[Tobin Heath 11:51AM]

Later today?

[Christen Press 11:51AM]

If you want? Or tomorrow. Or Friday. Or Saturday. Whatever day really?

[Tobin Heath 11:51AM]

What if I said all of the above?

[Christen Press 11:51AM]

Then I’d say thanks for making me smile and blush in the training room in front of my far too curious teammates

[Tobin Heath 11:52AM]

I’m glad I could do that for you :) Godspeed with the trainer

[Christen Press 11:52AM]

That is the dorkiest thing you’ve ever said to me, which is really saying something. Okay now I really have to run, bye!

[Tobin Heath 11:53AM]

I’m a mom. I’m not supposed to be cool. Bye, Christen!


Christen balanced three ice cream cones in her hands, dodging the small kids and families crowding Van Leeuwen’s ice cream store in Greenwich.  She stopped to let a pair of teenagers walk in front of her, and then continued to the front of the shop, where Tobin and Scottie were sitting at the counter in front of the window.

“Peanut butter marshmallow crunch for my favorite player,” Christen announced, moving Scottie’s cone to her right hand and passing it to the girl with a wink.

“Thank you,” Scottie grinned, already pulling her cone to her mouth and digging in. 

Christen nodded and then handed Tobin’s cone to her, lingering just a little bit. “And the classic Cookies & Cream for my- uh, for you,” Christen stammered, her cheeks flushing slightly. She took a step back and dropped into the stool beside Scottie, thankful the girl was between them after that almost embarrassing slip-up. She had no idea what was going to come out of her mouth after the word ‘my,’ but she had a feeling it wasn’t meant to be heard by Scottie.

“What did you get?” Tobin asked, seemingly unfazed by Christen’s use of the word ‘my.’ 

“I love their Salted Caramel,” Christen replied with a smile.

“Do you want to try mine?” Scottie asked, looking up at Christen with wide eyes. 

“As long as you try mine,” Christen nodded.

“You’ve got yourself a deal,” Scottie said, pulling the cone away from her face and holding her hand out for a fist bump. Scottie’s entire face was covered with the creamy dessert, just like it always was when ice cream was involved, and her smile was huge and infectious. 

Christen fist-bumped Scottie and then held out her cone for Scottie to try, looking up at Tobin over Scottie’s shoulder. She was momentarily floored by the power of the look Tobin was giving the two of them, something that felt far too serious and real for an ice cream shop.

She offered Tobin a small smile and then looked back down at where Scottie was going back in for another taste of her salted caramel.

“This is sooooo good!” Scottie grinned, leaning back and then holding her cone up for Christen to try. “Your turn! Make sure to get the crunch, it’s the best part.”

Tobin couldn’t help the laugh that left her lips. Christen was a brave soul to offer to taste Scottie’s ice cream, not only because the flavor sounded a little bit too sugary, but also because Scottie had definitely tasted every inch of her ice cream.

Christen took a small taste and made all of the appropriate facial expressions and noises, nodding her head. “Ooooh super yummy,” she said, quickly retreating to her own ice cream to get the sickly-sweet flavors out of her mouth.

“You want some more?” Scottie asked, completely stunned that Christen liked her ice cream flavor. 

“I think since you love it, you should eat as much as you want. But if you can’t finish it, I can try to help,” Christen replied, praying that Scottie was one of those kids who devoured their ice cream and didn’t need help finishing it.

“Okay,” Scottie nodded, hurrying to eat some more of her ice cream. 

Tobin couldn’t keep the smile off her face at Christen’s smooth avoidance. For someone who claimed to not have much experience with little kids, she certainly knew how to talk to them, and Tobin loved that. Sitting in Van Leeuwen’s and eating ice cream with her kid and a woman she cared about felt foreign and exciting, and she couldn’t help that her heart hadn’t settled for one second since meeting up with Christen for ice cream. 

“Hey, you know what we need?” Christen asked when Scottie had put the last bit of cone in her mouth.

“What?” Scottie mumbled through her full mouth. 

“Napkins,” Christen replied with a laugh, taking in the mess on Scottie’s face and around her mouth.

“I got it,” Tobin laughed, starting to slide from her stool. 

“No Mommy, I got it!” Scottie said, jumping off her stool and racing off.

Christen laughed and quickly looked over at Tobin, softening when she found Tobin already smiling at her. “I was hoping she’d offer just so I could say hi,” Christen whispered.

“Hi back,” Tobin said softly, her heart speeding up, which she hadn’t thought possible. “You’re pretty brave.”

“You two must bring it out of me,” Christen replied, her voice teasing but the look in her eyes anything but.

“I’m glad,” Tobin breathed out. 

Christen itched to reach out and lay her hand on Tobin’s, to brush away the bit of ice cream from the corner of her mouth, but she held back, knowing Scottie would be back any moment. 

“I actually wanted to ask you something. Do you think-” Christen tried to say, her words coming out slightly rushed due to her nerves about asking Tobin on a date. One that included less ice cream, fewer messes, hopefully, less crying, and fewer seven-year-olds who interrupt.

“Mommy, Uncle Funky’s is close!” Scottie interrupted, setting down a heaping pile of napkins on the table and grabbing Tobin’s forearm with a sticky hand. 

“Yeah, it’s close-ish,” Tobin nodded, reaching for one of the napkins to wipe off her arm. 

“Are you two going to tell me what that is? Or do I have to guess?” Christen chuckled, grabbing a napkin and wiping her hands with it.

“Oooh! Guess! Guess! Guess!” Scottie cheered, making Tobin laugh. 

“Is it...a magic shop?” Christen wondered, looking between Tobin and Scottie.

Tobin shook her head no, her smile only growing. 

“Is it an arcade?”

“Nope!” Scottie said, wrapping a finger around one of Tobin’s belt loops and leaning into her side. 

“Is it…” Christen trailed off, racking her brain for what it could be. “The shop next door to Auntie Spunky’s?”

Scottie began to giggle then, her ice cream high making her even sillier than usual. 

“No, silly! It’s a skateboard store,” Scottie explained. 

Christen playfully smacked her forehead. “Oh, duh, of course, it is! I’m not a very good guesser.”

“Well, skateboarding isn’t in the name, so we’ll forgive you,” Tobin hummed. 

“Right! We’ll forgive you,” Scottie copied, tugging a little on Tobin’s belt loop. 

Christen tsked, dipping her fingers into the melted ice cream at the bottom of her cone that she didn’t finish. She quickly wiped it onto Tobin’s cheek and hopped up from her stool. 

“Shouldn’t have forgiven me!” Christen winked at Tobin, grabbing the trash and hurrying off.

Scottie practically squealed with delight at the playfulness, running after Christen and leaving Tobin sitting on the stool and wiping at her face, a giant smile never leaving her lips. 


“Pressy, we’re going to be late! To our own game!” Kelley groaned, leaning against the door and checking her watch with barely-contained frustration.

“Gimme a minute!” Christen yelled back, digging around in her small storage closet.

“What could you possibly be looking for? Can’t it wait?” Kelley asked, readjusting her bag on her shoulder and huffing a little at the delay. 

“No, it can’t!” Christen replied, running her hands over her hair in frustration. She knew she’d put the box of her dad’s old sunglasses in this closet somewhere, she just had to find them. She’d promised Scottie a pair for the next home game, which was in about...four hours. So she had to find that box.

After shoving aside some suitcases and Christmas decorations, Christen let out a sigh of relief. The small, cardboard box was sitting there, her dad’s handwriting on the side. It made her chest tight seeing it, and instead of ignoring that tightness, Christen pressed her hand to her sternum and let her eyes fall shut. She accepted the tightness and the fact that she missed her dad, and her mom. She accepted it. 

“Dude, we have to go NOW!”

Christen grumbled and grabbed the box from the closet. She set it down on her bed and opened it, searching for the smallest pair of sunglasses she could find. She knew she had a pair of lavender-colored, square-shaped sunglasses that her dad had given her when she was in middle school.

“Got it!” Christen called out with a grin, grabbing the purple sunglasses and hustling out from behind her partition that separated her bed from the rest of her place. 

“Sunglasses?” Kelley asked, confused and a little frustrated that Christen had held them up for a pair of sunglasses. “You can’t play in sunglasses.”

“I promised Scottie she’d have a pair for our next home game,” Christen replied, sliding the glasses into her purse. 

“Oooooh,” Kelley cooed, her face brightening immediately.

“Shut it, Kel,” Christen grumbled good-naturedly, her words lacking any real bite.

“You’re smitten with the kid and the kid’s mom. I’m just happy for you,” Kelley grinned. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Christen deflected, only pausing to check her more dressed up than normal game day outfit. She was in a pair of dark jeans, sandals, and a floral crop top. “Are we suddenly not in a rush?” she added, narrowing her eyes at Kelley.

“Oh we’re in a rush still,” Kelley said, throwing open the apartment door. “And on the way, I’d like to find out why you’re dressed like you’re going on a date after this game.”


“Who are you looking for?” Glennon asked, her lips lifted into a cocky smirk. She knew exactly who Tobin was looking for. 

“Abby obviously,” Tobin scoffed. “Where did she have to park?” 

“Is someone antsy to get to the game?” Glennon teased again. 

“I just don’t want Scottie to miss them lining up or whatever,” Tobin grumbled. 

“I think the game would be delayed if Scottie wasn’t there to walk out with Christen,” Glennon chuckled.

“Yeah, right,” Tobin snorted, glancing over her shoulder at where Glennon’s girls and Scottie were giggling together. 

“She came in to see me the other day,” Glennon murmured quietly, conscious their kids were nearby.

“Who?” Tobin asked, feigning innocence, even though she knew Glennon wouldn’t believe it for a second.

“Christen,” Glennon smirked. “She wondered if there was any way to keep up the Development Academy after the summer’s over. She said that the kids were really good and she didn’t think their training should end.”

Tobin felt her stomach flip a little. She couldn’t help but wonder if Christen wanted to keep coaching because of Scottie, maybe because she wanted to keep spending regular time with both of them. 

“I told her we have an older version of the Academy for high school age players looking to get recruited and scouted, but nothing for a seven-year-old,” Glennon chuckled, rubbing her hand across Tobin’s back. “She wasn’t exactly subtle, but it was a sweet question nonetheless.”

“I’m glad she enjoys coaching,” Tobin mumbled, keeping her eyes on the parking lot and pretending to search for Abby. 

“I’m sure that’s exactly why she was asking,” Glennon teased. 

“Scottie Heath!”

Tobin turned around at the sound of Christen’s voice, her heart starting to pick up speed again, something she’d grown completely comfortable with in the presence of Christen. 

Christen jogged over, already in her uniform, a pair of slides on her feet. She ran up to Scottie and picked her up, swinging her around as the two of them laughed.

“I think my ovaries just exploded,” Glennon whispered, snickering a little as she leaned into Tobin’s side. 

“Yeah,” Tobin muttered, completely overwhelmed and distracted by Christen and Scottie together. 

Christen walked over to Tobin and Glennon, Scottie held against her hip. “Sorry, I gotta steal this one this away now. Is that okay?” Christen wondered a little breathlessly. She only had eyes for Tobin, not even sparing Glennon a second glance.

“Sure thing,” Tobin nodded, reaching out to brush a hand over Scottie’s hair. “Have fun, little bit.”

“Oh, look! I see Abby,” Glennon mumbled, smiling as she looked between the three of them and stepped away.

“Good luck forehead kiss?” Scottie asked, leaning out of Christen’s arms just a bit toward Tobin.

Tobin pressed a kiss to Scottie’s forehead, loving that Scottie still wanted those kinds of things from her, no matter how old she got. “Have a good game,” she added, glancing at Christen. 

“What no forehead kiss for me?” Christen teased, her cheeks flushing slightly at the words that had just come out of her mouth. She didn’t know what came over her, but she was going to blame the ridiculously happy feelings she’d woken up with this morning, and every other morning since talking with Tobin after MoMA.

Tobin’s entire face turned red, and her mouth went dry at the joking suggestion. 

“Mommy,” Scottie interrupted.

“Scottie?” Tobin choked out, forcing herself to look away from Christen and at Scottie. 

“Christen said she has a present for me, but I had to ask you if I could have it before the game,” Scottie said, completely oblivious to whatever had transpired between Tobin and Christen.

“Well, what is it?” Tobin asked, swallowing thickly and looking back at Christen. 

Christen reached into the waistband of her shorts and pulled out the purple sunglasses. She held them up for Scottie with a shy smile. 

“You needed a cool pair, and this was the coolest pair I could find. You don’t have to wear them if you don’t want to,” Christen said, readjusting the girl in her arms a bit. She wasn’t used to holding a kid this long, and she had to admit her arms were getting a bit tired. But there was no way she was letting this girl go.

“Those are so cool!” Scottie gushed, reaching out for the glasses. 

“That’s really sweet of you,” Tobin said, smiling at the way Scottie was trying to get the sunglasses to sit perfectly on her head, just like Christen did with hers. Tobin reached out and pushed them up onto her head so that they rested almost like a headband in Scottie’s hair. 

“It’s no biggie. I just wanted my favorite player to have something special,” Christen replied, squeezing Scottie a little tighter.

“Thank you,” Scottie said, wrapping her arms around Christen’s neck and pressing her face into her shoulder. 

“Oh, um, you’re welcome,” Christen mumbled, overcome by the wave of emotions this tight hug from Scottie triggered within her.

“I love you,” Scottie beamed, keeping her cheek pressed into Christen’s chest. 

Tobin knew that Scottie loved Christen. She’d known it for a while, but hearing it still made her heart feel like it was melting. Seeing Scottie loving Christen the way that she did made Tobin simultaneously completely overjoyed and absolutely terrified. 

Christen let her eyes fall shut as she pressed her face into Scottie’s hair, hopefully hiding how affected she was by those words. She knew kids said I love you easily and without really knowing what it truly meant. But it still felt big and monumental and so real. And just like that, another jagged bit of her broken heart healed.

“I...I love you too, kid,” Christen whispered, her arms tightening around Scottie. 

Tobin turned her head to the side, offering Christen a moment if she needed it. She placed her hand on Christen’s back as a reminder that she was there and would be if Christen needed her. 

“You want to hang out with us after the game?” Tobin murmured after a few moments of quiet. 

Christen blinked her eyes open, her vision of Tobin swimming before her due to the collection of tears in her eyes. “Definitely. And speaking of the game, we should probably get going,” Christen hummed, shooting Tobin a grateful smile.

“Game time!” Scottie cheered, clearly unaffected by the emotional moment that the adults in her life had just had. 


Christen rolled her shoulders and then chugged water, thankful for the breather an injury had afforded her side. Morgan was fine, she had signaled as much, but she was giving her team a much-needed break.

The Houston Dash were physical on a good day, but this wasn’t a good day. This was a day of cheap shots and sloppy tackles, and Christen’s anxiety had only increased as the game continued and the score remained tied at 0-0. The longer the stalemate dragged on, the more physical and dirty Houston got. 

“How’re your legs?” Kelley panted, spraying water on the back of her neck to cool her off. 

“Haven't been able to feel them since the 70th minute,” Christen replied. She took the break from the game to look across the field at Scottie. She was wearing those purple sunglasses and juggling the soccer ball on the sidelines, near the halfway line. Despite her exhaustion, Christen felt a smile make its way onto her face as she watched Scottie try a juggling trick, fail, and laugh to herself. 

“You look at Tobin like that too?” Kelley teased. 

“Shut up,” Christen grumbled, handing the water back to the team manager and walking away from the bench. But the mention of Tobin had Christen looking up to the box, the one she’d secured a spot for Tobin in again. She saw Tobin wave and then pick her camera back up.

Christen beamed up at her, not wanting to risk waving or anything like that, knowing there were hundreds of fans in the stands with iPhones and game photographers and cameras broadcasting this game live all over the world. The last thing she needed was for someone to know who was sitting in the box, watching her play. She was already pushing it with how much she had allowed herself to be soft with Scottie in the public’s eye, but it was easier to write that kind of stuff off than it was to write off a wave at a beautiful woman during a game.

When the referee blew her whistle, Christen made her way back to her spot on the field. Play ebbed and flowed from there, with both sides getting good chances on goal. Christen had a few good looks, and even sent a shot over the bar and shook her head with a smile, shooting a thumbs up at Becky for sending such a good ball over the backline for her to run onto. 

But with three minutes left to play, Christen felt the energy on the field shift. It grew more tense, more serious, and any and all thoughts of Scottie or Tobin left her brain as she became singularly focused on winning this game.

When she saw Kelley beat Houston’s right back, she knew Kelley was going to cross it. So, she bided her time and timed her run so she’d come crashing into the box at the perfect moment to score. 

But she didn’t see the Houston midfielder running behind her, reading her every move. She was too focused on the driven cross Kelley sent in, the ball about knee height. Christen sprinted to meet the ball, jumping a bit and lifting her right cleat so she could send a volley toward goal. She felt the ball come off her cleat perfectly and she knew she was going to score. 

And then she felt a body collide with hers from behind, the Houston player’s knee driving straight into the side of her thigh and she knew that even if she scored, she was going to pay a small price. A price that doubled when she fell to the ground and her cheek made contact with a Houston player’s cleat, the Houston midfielder landing on top of her. 

Christen could hear the roars and cheers of the fans in the stadium, but she could also feel the pain from a large bruise she was sure she was going to have on her leg, and a sharp bite on her cheek from where she’d hit someone’s cleat. She stayed down, pressing her face into the grass and forcing herself to take deep breaths, to work through the pain. 

“Pressy, you good?” Morgan asked, kneeling by Christen’s side. Kelley was quick to rush over as well, peeling away from her teammate’s goal celebration. 

“Christen!” Scottie shouted, pulling the sunglasses off her face, concern filling her entire body. 

Christen tensed, hearing Scottie’s voice cut through the noise of the stadium. “Shit,” she grimaced, knowing she needed to get up. She needed to get up so Scottie knew she was okay. “Help me up guys,” she winced, pushing herself up off the grass and holding her hand up to Kelley and Morgan. 

“You got a shiner, Million Dollar Baby,” Kelley replied, trying to smile through her concern as she and Morgan helped Christen up.

Christen lifted a hand to touch her cheek and flinched at the quick flash of pain that came from her touch. 

“Lucky me,” Christen sighed, forcing a smile at her teammates. She waved over at Amanda, telling her she was okay, and then she blinked the pain from her eyes and looked toward the halfway line. She faltered when she didn’t see Scottie anymore and suddenly the pain she’d been willing to work through felt just a little bit worse.


Tobin had raced down as soon as Christen hit the ground, knowing that Scottie would be upset. She hurried down to the field, and found the closest official-looking adult who wasn’t actually in the game, asking them to get her kid who was trying to run onto the field, currently being held back by a cameraman. She held Scottie, letting her daughter wipe her tears with her handkerchief and soothing her with soft words. Tobin promised that Christen would be okay, that sometimes soccer could be a little rough but that Christen was super strong. 

After a few more minutes of questions, which Tobin patiently answered, she and Scottie sat down at the end of the tunnel. Tobin let Scottie sit in her lap and play with Christen’s sunglasses that she’d been gifted, smoothing out her hair and wiping away any and all remaining tear tracks. Tobin had already texted Abby and Glennon that everything was okay, that they didn’t need to wait for them or come find them, when she heard the quick click of a pair of cleats in the tunnel. Scottie’s head jerked up at the sound too, gripping onto Tobin’s shirt and squinting to see which player had entered the tunnel. 

Christen hurried down the tunnel, guilt clawing its way up her throat. She pulled the ice bag from her cheek, praying that the swelling wasn’t bad even if she knew she already had a bruise forming. She ignored the ache in her leg and made her way over to where Tobin and Scottie were sitting. She’d spent the last five minutes looking for them, ignoring signing things for fans or requests for media interviews. Thankfully, Tobin had thought to bring them back near the locker room, where they had met up the first time.

Scottie’s eyes brimmed with tears again as soon as she saw Christen’s face and the dark bruise on her cheek. 

“See, Mommy. I told you she’s hurt,” Scottie said, her voice wobbly. 

“Me? Hurt? No way,” Christen replied, imbuing her voice with as much confidence as she could. She hid every wince and grimace she could as she sank down to the floor, sitting pressed up against Tobin’s side. “I just have a little bruise, but at least I scored right? Did you see my goal?” Christen continued, her heart aching in her chest at the sight of the tears in Scottie’s eyes and the red splotches on her cheeks from crying.

“It was really cool,” Scottie nodded, grabbing Tobin’s handkerchief again and wiping her face. 

“That was for you, kid,” Christen said gently, reaching out to adjust the sunglasses perched atop Scottie’s head so that they kept some of her baby hairs off of her face.

“Really?” Scottie asked, her voice reverent, full of excitement but softer than usual. 

“Really really,” Christen nodded. She abandoned the ice pack on the stadium floor next to her and reached out to rub Scottie’s back gently, her hands occasionally brushing against Tobin’s with the gesture.

Tobin let her fingers catch Christen’s every few moments, glad to see that she was okay, even if she could tell that she was hiding some of the pain from Scottie. 

“Maybe we should let Christen shower,” Tobin hummed softly, pressing her lips against Scottie’s temple. 

Scottie shook her head and moved to grab Christen’s arm, keeping her in place. “But I don’t want her to go,” Scottie pouted, a fresh wave of tears building.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m super comfy right here, kid,” Christen replied gently, swiping her thumb under Scottie’s eye and catching a tear.

“See, Mommy. She’s super comfy right here,” Scottie repeated with a small smile. 

Christen shot a quick look at Tobin, nodding her head just a bit to let her know she really was okay to sit here for a bit longer. She wasn’t just saying that to appease Scottie.

Her heart faltered in her chest when she saw the raw concern shining in Tobin’s brown eyes. She did her best to smile despite the lingering pain in her leg and the fresh pain in her cheek from the gesture. She didn’t want Tobin to be worried, she was fine. 

Tobin held onto Scottie, letting her lean back into her chest. Scottie held onto one of Christen’s hands, talking quietly about the game and about what she wanted to eat after they left the stadium. All Tobin wanted to do was hold tightly to Christen too. She wanted to talk to her, to make sure that she was really okay, to get her some more ice for her bruising cheek. She couldn’t do that, though, not when she and Christen had created a Scottie ground rule for a reason. So instead, Tobin placed her hand in between them, resting it on top of their legs that were still pressed together, just wanting to be even closer without obviously scooting closer to her. 

Christen never broke stride, answering one of Scottie’s questions about a free-kick and sliding her hand into Tobin’s slyly as she spoke. She threaded their fingers together easily, the instinct coming to her as easy as breathing. The angle was a little awkward and she knew the tape around her wrist was sweaty and was probably bothering Tobin where it was pressed against her, but Christen couldn’t find it in her to care. She was sitting with two people who were quickly becoming very important to her, and the pain in her legs, her cheek, and her heart was fading with every smile she got from Scottie and every brush of Tobin’s thumb along the back of her hand.


“Scottie, you want to run in and get dinner from Gio?” Tobin asked, pulling her car to a stop outside the restaurant and putting it in park with her hazards on. 

“I want to stay with Christen,” Scottie protested, not moving her hand from Christen’s. Christen was sitting in the backseat with Scottie; she had been the whole way into the city from the stadium. There was no way to say no to that sweet face when Scottie had asked to sit next to her, plus it gave her the ability to stare at Tobin’s reflection in the rearview mirror the whole drive.

“Ooookay,” Tobin sighed, longing to have a moment alone with Christen but wanting Scottie to feel better more. Tobin unbuckled her seatbelt and slipped from the car, jogging around and waving at a traffic cop who was eying her illegal parking job. 

“Just in time,” Gio smiled, handing Tobin a giant bag of their dinner. “I slipped in a couple Tiramisus. We watched the game and figured your friend might want some,” Gio said, smirking at Tobin when he said the word friend. 

“Thank you,” Tobin blushed, pulling out her wallet to pay. 

“It’s on the house tonight. Give Scottie a hug for me and make sure that friend of yours takes care of you both,” Gio nodded to the car where he could see Christen and Scottie in the back. 

“Thank you,” Tobin mumbled, feeling her cheeks flush even more. “I’ll give her a big hug for you.”

“And the friend!” Gio called. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Tobin grumbled good-naturedly, slipping back onto the street and jogging to the car before she could get a ticket. 

Christen smiled tiredly at Tobin when she got back to the car. She continued to run her fingers through Scottie’s hair, the girl’s head resting against her shoulder and slow puffs of air hitting her neck as Scottie slept.

“She fell asleep seconds after you left the car,” Christen whispered.

“She’ll get a fourth or fifth wind when we get home,” Tobin said quietly. 

“I’m sure,” Christen replied. “But this is probably good for her right? After such an emotional day? I mean, I’m assuming so.”

“Definitely,” Tobin nodded. “Sleep is a little magical. I never thought I’d say that, but then I had a little kid, and nap time healed all wounds.”

Christen chuckled lightly, careful not to jostle the girl on her shoulder. “I feel like I should take notes or something. Naps? Magical. Tiramisu? She loves it. Frozen ? Can’t get enough,” she said with a small smile.

Tobin laughed softly, pulling away from the restaurant when the traffic cop started walking toward her car again. 

“I don’t think you need to take notes at all. You’re pretty fantastic with her,” Tobin hummed. 

“I think I’m getting lucky,” Christen murmured bashfully, knowing that ever since meeting Scottie, she’d been running on instinct and not a whole lot of prior kid knowledge. Hell, she’d never even really liked kids before Scottie.

“Honestly, at the beginning, I thought you must have a kid of your own or at least a kid close to you,” Tobin admitted. 

“Not at all, I used to-” Christen stopped herself from admitting her dislike for kids before meeting Scottie.

“What?” Tobin asked, looking in the rearview mirror at Christen. 

“I kinda didn’t like kids all that much,” Christen blushed. “I thought they were sticky and messy and always asking too many questions.”

“They are sticky and messy and ask a ton of questions,” Tobin chuckled. “You hide your dislike for that well.”

Christen lifted her free shoulder into a little shrug, her eyes never leaving Tobin’s reflection in the mirror. “I never really thought I would like kids, let alone love one,” she admitted softly.

“She’s pretty good at squirming into hearts,” Tobin grinned. 

“She must have learned that from somewhere,” Christen teased, reaching forward to squeeze Tobin’s shoulder gently and then pulling her hand back into her lap. 

Tobin only shrugged, the smile on her face growing even more at Christen’s touch. 

“Tobin?” Christen asked, checking to see if Scottie was still asleep on her shoulder.

“Yes?” Tobin asked. 

“Do you think that thing you were trying to ask me at training this week was the same thing I was going to ask you at Van Leeuwen’s?”

“Probably,” Tobin nodded. “Two interruptions so far, but they say the third time’s a charm.”

Christen smiled and leaned into Scottie just a bit, finding a bit of courage in the way Scottie burrowed closer to her. “Well, I...I mean, I would really like to do this the right way. I’d like to take you on a-” Christen paused and leaned forward just a little bit to whisper, “-a date.”

“Me too,” Tobin whispered back, her voice raspy and a little wobbly due to the nerves she felt at the idea of actually going on a date with Christen. 

“Oh, thank god,” Christen chuckled softly, turning to press a kiss to the crown of Scottie’s hair.

“What did you expect?” Tobin laughed, pushing the button in the car to open the garage. 

“I don’t know, maybe I just didn’t want to get my hopes up too high or anything,” Christen admitted. “But I’m glad you said yes.”

“Can I tell you something? Well...a few things?” Tobin asked, parking the car and turning around in her seat to make sure Scottie was still asleep. 

“Of course,” Christen whispered.

“Well, first off, you can get your hopes up, okay? Maybe I haven’t been obvious enough, but I really want to date you and see where this goes,” Tobin said, keeping her voice low. 

Christen felt her cheeks fill with a light blush, her heart hammering in her chest at Tobin’s words and the soft look in her eyes.

“And secondly, about the kid thing...I had no idea what I was doing when I adopted Scottie. For the first year, when she cried, I cried. I was exhausted, I was always sticky. My clothes were never clean. No one is a natural, even if you’re currently making it seem that way. What I think you do best, what I think you’re doing naturally is treating Scottie like a human with actual feelings. Some people don’t see kids the same way they see adults and treat them like they're tiny and helpless, but you treat her with respect and kindness, and that’s why she loves you and why you’re doing great,” Tobin said, glancing down at Scottie to make sure she was still fast asleep. The soft puffs of breath hinting that she was. 

“I don’t know how to treat her any different,” Christen murmured, trying to ignore the way Tobin’s compliments about the way she was with Scottie made her want to cry tears of joy and relief.

“You’re already better than most people, then,” Tobin assured her, opening her car door, slipping out of her seat, and hitting the button to close the garage. 

Christen wasn’t sure which version was more true, Tobin’s ‘You’re a natural’ or her ‘I’m just lucky’. But either way, she was grateful she hadn’t royally messed up yet.

Tobin climbed into the back of the car on the other side of Scottie, running her finger along Scottie’s nose, making the girl scrunch up her nose at the tickling sensation. 

“Quesadillas,” Scottie mumbled, wrinkling her nose and burrowing closer to Christen. 

Christen chuckled at the sleepy response, sharing an amused smile with Tobin.

“Tiramisu actually,” Tobin whispered, running both of her hands along Scottie’s sides to tickle her a little more. 

That had Scottie sitting up just a bit, blinking her eyes slowly and smacking her lips together. “Tiramisu?” she repeated in a low voice.

“Mhm, but only if you can get upstairs, wash your hands, and pick a movie,” Tobin teased, tucking some of Scottie’s hair behind her ear. 

Scottie leaned over to rest her head against Christen’s shoulder for a moment. “Thanks for being my pillow,” she whispered. She then reached down and unbuckled her seatbelt.

Christen didn’t have an answer for the adorable comment. All she could do was smile and follow Tobin and Scottie inside, going further into the house than she had last time. They passed through the studio and climbed the stairs, Tobin carrying the bag of food in one hand and holding Scottie’s hand in her other one, leaving Christen to follow behind, her soccer bag slung over her shoulder and her steps a little slower since her leg was still aching a bit.

Scottie hurried around the space, pulling out a few movie options from a drawer in the living room area, while Tobin set the food down and began pulling plates out of the cabinet and dishing food onto plates. The two moved easily in the space, completely comfortable to slip off their shoes and drop the keys, sunglasses, wallet, and anything else they’d been carrying around without worrying about a mess. 

“Holy shit,” Christen whispered under her breath, taking in the second floor. She marveled at the shining appliances in the kitchen, the largest sectional she’d ever seen in a New York City apartment in the living room, and the bursts of color everywhere. The walls of the kitchen were a deep purple, and the kettle on the stove was orange with white polka dots on it. The sectional was green and the living room around it had light orange-colored walls. The colors should conflict and clash, with the space being so open-concept. But they didn’t. They blended together to make a masterpiece of a space that made Christen feel so at home it scared her just a little bit. 

“A home with colorful walls is a happy home,” her mom’s voice drifted through her mind, almost out of the blue. She didn’t even remember when her mom had told her that, maybe when her parents had painted the garage door a robin’s egg blue when Christen was in high school. But for whatever reason, she thought of them now and she felt like her mom was with her.

She left Tobin and Scottie to their own devices, letting them settle into their routine as she made her way around the room, taking in the dozens of pictures lining the walls and cramped into flat surfaces. Each and every single one of them featured Scottie. Only a few had Tobin in them, some others had an older woman who Christen assumed was “Grandma.” But in every one, Scottie was clearly the apple of the eye of the photographer. They’d captured her in moments of bliss and joy and laughter - in the bathtub with soap piled high on her head, in a swing at the park, in Tobin’s old UNC jersey in front of a Christmas tree. 

But the pictures weren’t alone. There were paintings too, most of them Tobin’s by the look of them. Christen hadn’t lied at MoMA; Tobin’s art held a special quality to it, an X factor. Christen had no doubt she’d be able to look at a random panting and know if it was one of Tobin’s. She’d be able to recognize the woman she was hopelessly falling for in the colors and shapes and swirls. 

Christen gravitated toward one painting hanging next to a large window, above one of Tobin’s more colorful pieces. It was clearly done by a child, most likely Scottie, and it was...beautiful. It was abstract in the way only a kid’s art can be, without rules and with total freedom. It had every shade of purple that Christen thought existed in the world.

“Do you want to put your bag down?” Tobin asked, walking up slowly behind Christen, having seen her taking in the room and all the stuff hanging on the walls. 

“What? Oh, yeah,” Christen answered distractedly, her eyes unable to leave the painting on the wall.

“That’s a Scottie original,” Tobin grinned, reaching out for Christen’s bag. 

“I can tell,” Christen replied, handing the bag over to Tobin with a grateful smile. She winced as the smile was too big and made the pain in her cheek resurface.

“You want some ice?” Tobin asked, swinging Christen’s bag over her own shoulder. 

“And an Advil if you’ve got one. I didn’t let the trainer give me anything, but now I’m regretting it a little bit,” Christen hummed.

“Coming right up,” Tobin nodded, reaching out for a second and squeezing Christen’s arm gently before she turned around to hang Christen’s bag on a hook near the staircase and find some Advil in the kitchen cabinet. 

Christen drifted over to the sectional, sinking into the cushions, unable to stop the gasp that left her lips when she sat down and felt how soft it was. She could marry this couch, it was so soft and perfect and wonderful.

Monsters, Inc. or Up ?” Scottie asked, turning around to hold the two DVD cases in front of Christen.  

“Which one do you want to watch?” Christen shot back, perfectly content to watch either as long as she got to stay in this exact spot on this perfect couch.

“If we watch Up, Mommy will cry,” Scottie whispered, a mischievous grin on her face. 

“We should probably do Monsters, Inc. then,” Christen decided, knowing they’d had a few too many tears between the three of them today.

“Okay,” Scottie shrugged, clicking the remote buttons that Tobin had taught her how to use. 

“I think we’ve all cried a little too much today, yeah? And the best medicine for that is laughter and this movie is really funny,” Christen replied.

“Yeah,” Scottie agreed, curling up on the couch beside Christen. She glanced up at Christen’s face, frowning slightly when she saw the bruise. “Does it hurt?” 

“A little bit, but I’m okay. I’ve got my favorite player giving me super great cuddles,” Christen said gently, not wanting to lie to Scottie and say it didn’t hurt, but not wanting her to keep worrying either.

“Can I make it better?” Scottie asked, getting up on her knees and touching her index finger to her lips. 

Christen wasn’t exactly sure what Scottie meant by that, so she just nodded a bit with a small smile on her face, waiting to see what exactly would make it better.

Scottie put one hand on Christen’s shoulder and the other on the back of the couch. As gently as she possibly could, Scottie leaned forward and pressed the lightest kiss to Christen’s bruise, making Christen’s heart melt at the gesture.

“That’s what Mommy does for me,” Scottie said, dropping back down onto the couch. “Oh!” she added, hopping off the couch and hurrying into the kitchen area where Tobin was. She scurried back after opening the freezer and asking Tobin for help reaching something. “She also gives me this,” Scottie added when she got back to Christen’s side, handing Christen a small ice pack that was blue and fuzzy and in the shape of a bear. “Boo-boo Bear will help too,” Scottie sighed. 

“Thank you,” Christen said softly, taking the cold blue bear.

“Garlic bread,” Tobin announced, putting a plate down on the coffee table. She then handed a plate of pasta that Gio had made for Christen to try, even writing her name on the to-go box. “And water and Advil,” Tobin added, putting a glass of water on the coffee table and handing Christen the bottle of Advil. 

“This is a full-service joint,” Christen teased, tossing back the Advil quickly and then putting Boo-boo Bear back on her throbbing cheek.

Tobin smirked at the teasing, heading back to the kitchen to get Scottie’s food and water. On her third trip into the kitchen, she put the bottle of Advil away and grabbed her own food, and finally joined Scottie and Christen on the couch, smiling every time Scottie giggled at the movie. 

As they worked on their dinner and as the movie continued playing, Scottie excused herself, putting her plate on the coffee table and scurrying up the stairs, claiming to need to use the bathroom. 

“She doesn’t have to go to the bathroom,” Tobin said as soon as she was upstairs. 

“Then what?” Christen replied, putting the now-no longer cold Boo-boo bear next to their empty plates.

“She’s afraid of Randall,” Tobin whispered. 

“Shit, I told her to put this on,” Christen whispered back, grimacing slightly.

“No, no, she loves this movie, trust me. He just totally freaks her out, and every time we watch it she tells me to keep playing it and that she’ll come back after. She can hear it from upstairs,” Tobin sighed. 

“Shit- I mean crap- I mean can I even say crap?” Christen whispered, covering her mouth with her hand, realizing that Scottie probably could hear her as well. 

Tobin couldn't help but laugh at Christen’s reaction and her obvious worry. “Scottie’s heard me say both of those words, and just because I don’t say them a lot, in hopes of keeping them out of her vocabulary for now, doesn’t mean I never say them.”

Christen’s shoulders sagged in relief.  “Sorry, the kid filter is hard to turn after being on a field with grown women who drop ‘f’ bombs every few minutes.”

“It’s okay,” Tobin hummed, glancing at the TV where Randall was still torturing some other monster. “How are you feeling post Advil?” she asked, her concern evident in her voice. 

Christen sighed and sank deeper into the couch, rolling her head along the cushion to fix Tobin with a tired half-smile. 

“Like my face tried to fight a cleat and lost,” Christen joked, reaching out to put her hand in between them on the couch, on the cushion Scottie had occupied since the movie started.

“But it gave it a valiant effort,” Tobin teased back, tangling her fingers with Christen’s without hesitation. 

“Kelley said I looked like Million Dollar Baby,” Christen replied, scrunching her nose up a bit.

Tobin reached out, holding Christen’s chin with her hand and tilting her head to the side to see the bruise. “Hmm...nah I’ve gotta say you rock it better than Maggie.”

Christen’s eyes fluttered a bit at the feeling of Tobin’s hand on her chin, at the gentle yet strong way she held her. 

“Um,” Christen cleared her throat, a flush creeping up her neck at how raspy her voice sounded, at how much Tobin’s simple and innocent touch had affected her. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Tobin nodded, not moving her eyes away from Christen, even when she dropped her hand back onto the couch. 

Christen let herself get lost in Tobin Heath, in her warm eyes, in her soft smile, in the slightly playful expression on her face. The silence stretched between them, but it wasn’t awkward or strange. It instead brought with it a sense of comfort, of familiarity, of the promise of more. 

“He’s gone, right?” Scottie’s voice drifted from upstairs, breaking the moment between them.

“You just missed him, little bit,” Tobin called, smiling at the sweet way Scottie asked. She gave Christen’s hand one last squeeze before pulling her hand away, knowing Scottie would be down in mere seconds. 

Scottie raced down the stairs, wearing a pair of pajama pants, fuzzy purple slippers, and her PRESS jersey. She climbed onto the couch and situated herself between Christen and Tobin, taking Christen’s hand in her left hand and Tobin’s hand in her right. 

As the movie progressed, Scottie pulled their hands closer, clinging to each of them and unintentionally brushing Christen’s and Tobin’s hands together, unknowingly sending butterflies through both women’s stomachs. She tried valiantly to fight sleep, but her eyelids kept drooping, and then she finally leaned fully into Tobin’s lap and passed out.

“She’s asleep,” Tobin whispered when the movie was over, the credits scrolling to the theme music. 

“I’m starting to think it’s a Disney thing. Kid can’t stay awake for Monsters, Inc. or Brave,” Christen chuckled, gently sliding her hand out of Scottie’s, trying not to jostle her or wake her up.

“She’s not good at watching full movies yet,” Tobin grinned. “I think she gets too excited for the first half of them.” Tobin slid her hand out of Scottie’s, making the seven-year-old mumble a little bit in her sleep. She bent down and scooped her up with practiced ease. 

“I can head out-” Christen tried to offer, keeping her voice soft.

“You don’t need to,” Tobin said, probably too quickly. “I won’t be long,” she added, nodding toward the stairs. 

Christen didn’t mind that the response was fast. She didn’t really want to leave either. She got up from the couch, wincing just slightly at the pain in her leg, and leaned down to give Scottie a soft kiss on the forehead. 

“Night, kid,” she whispered before taking a small step back and sitting down in her spot on the couch. She didn’t let herself think too hard about how good it felt to stand that close to Tobin.

Tobin had to remind herself to breathe, to head to the stairs, to carry Scottie upstairs, and get her situated. She had to remind herself not to get too caught up in everything just yet, to feel too comfortable or too familiar. Christen felt natural. Having her here felt easy, and that was a little startling, considering they hadn’t even gone out on their own. 

Tobin shook herself into the present moment and blushed at her obvious daydreaming. She spun on her heels and headed to the stairs, climbing them and trying to keep calm, despite the very attractive, very sweet, very beautiful inside and out woman sitting on her couch downstairs. She tucked Scottie into her bed, kissing her forehead and making sure that her stuffed bear, Herbie, was close to her side, just in case she woke up and needed to cuddle him. “I love you, little bit,” she whispered. 

“Love you, Mommy. You’re the best mommy in the whole wide world,” Scottie mumbled, her small voice tinged with sleep as she rolled over in bed.

“Sweet dreams, buddy. You’re the best kid in the whole wide world,” Tobin whispered back, flicking the lights off except for the small night light. She cracked the door closed, turned off the hall light, and went into her room to turn on the lights so that she had some light when she came back upstairs to the dark hallway. 

Tobin paused on the last step, her eyes fixing on Christen’s face and her closed eyes. She stepped softly into the kitchen, putting a couple of plates in the sink as quietly as she could. For a moment, she thought about whether it would be a terrible idea to let Christen sleep on her couch, not wanting to wake her from a peaceful sleep. 

“I didn’t fall asleep on you. I’m just resting my eyes,” Christen called out softly, her head back against the couch cushions and her eyes still shut, but a small smile clear as day on her face.

“Jeez, you scared me,” Tobin gasped, throwing a hand over her chest for a second. “I seriously thought both of you had passed out on me.”

“And squander this alone time? No way,” Christe teased, her eyes blinking open so she could look over and watch Tobin move around the kitchen.

“You want more ice?” Tobin offered since she was up and in the kitchen.

“I want to say no and be all brave and impress you, but I really need some,” Christen chuckled weakly.

Tobin smirked as she opened the fridge and grabbed a bag of frozen peas. She covered it in a clean dish towel before walking back to the couch and offering it to Christen. This time, when Tobin sat down, she didn’t leave space for Scottie, enjoying the closeness that came with ‘alone time’ with Christen. 

Christen sighed when she put the bag of frozen peas against her left cheek, involuntarily leaning into Tobin’s side a bit as her free hand fell to Tobin’s knee.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get that sound out of my mind,” Christen whispered, her thumb moving in slow circles over the knee of Tobin’s ripped jeans.

“Which sound?” Tobin asked, turning her head a little and coming face to face with the top of Christen’s head, the smell of her hair products completely overwhelming Toibn’s senses. 

“Scottie yelling my name like that today. It hurt worse than the knee to my leg and the cleat to my face,” Christen murmured, the desperate, pained cry echoing in her ears.

“I was hoping you hadn’t heard that,” Tobin sighed. 

“I did...and it scared the shit out of me,” Christen admitted quietly, her eyes falling shut as she replayed it over and over in her mind, feeling her guilt coming back.

“I’m sorry if it distracted you or made it worse,” Tobin mumbled. 

Christen sat up a little bit, dropping the bag of peas away from her face to look at Tobin intently. 

“I didn’t say that it did. It just scared me, is all because...I don’t want her to be scared,” Christen replied softly. 

Tobin had felt deep feelings for people. Obviously, she had; she’d been married once before to someone she loved or at least thought she loved. She loved her family and her friends, and her love for Scottie was the deepest and most important. It wasn’t until this moment, though, that Tobin felt what people meant when they say you fall for someone. She felt like she was careening into something that she didn’t fully understand, something that scared her but exhilarated her all the same. Something that felt foreign and safe all at once. 

“And I guess- I guess I forgot what it was like to have somebody watching a game who cared whether you got a cleat to the face or not,” Christen added, lifting the peas back to her face and leaning back into Tobin’s side.

“Well, you have two somebodies,” Tobin admitted, lifting her arm and putting it along the back of the couch around Christen. She let her fingers just barely brush against Christen’s shoulder, relishing in the way her fingers tingled with each touch. 

Christen shivered at the tentative brush of fingertips on her bare shoulder, at the way the frozen peas seemed to get infinitely colder as her skin grew infinitely hotter.

“Do you like Thai food?” Christen asked, letting herself sink further into Tobin’s side.

“Yes,” Tobin nodded, her lips quirking up into a smile. 

“What about Mediterranean?”

“Yes,” Tobin chuckled. 

“Mexican?” Christen asked, smiling softly.

“Who doesn’t,” Tobin hummed. 

“Just checking. I would hate to take you somewhere you didn’t want to eat on our date,” Christen replied.

“When are you free?” Tobin asked, keeping her voice low. 

“We leave mid-week for a game in L.A., but I’ll be back Sunday. And then I’ll have Monday and Tuesday off,” Christen whispered, butterflies fluttering around in her stomach.

“Well, technically you don’t have Tuesday off, but I guess it depends on what you consider work,” Tobin said, running a finger along Christen’s shoulder in small strokes. 

“I haven’t considered coaching Scottie work, not after the first day of training.”

“You hated the first day,” Tobin teased. 

“I got my coffee spilled on me,” Christen chuckled. “But no, I didn’t hate it. Even on that day, your kid made me smile in a way I hadn’t in a long time.”

Tobin couldn’t help herself then. She turned her head just slightly and pressed a kiss to Christen’s forehead, right at her hairline. 

Christen sighed audibly at the feeling of Tobin’s lips on her skin, wondering how it was possible to feel so much from such a simple touch.

“Sorry, but I never gave you a good luck forehead kiss, so it’s better late than never,” Tobin whispered, her voice a little wobbly, probably due to the way butterflies were racing in her stomach and her heart was thudding against her ribcage. 

“Better late than never,” Christen repeated back, switching hands to hold the ice pack against her cheek with her right hand. She slung her left arm across her own body and then over Tobin’s waist, wondering how that forehead kiss had simultaneously healed the fissures in her heart and cracked it wide open.