"You're late," Ash said as Tobin rolled her eyes. She didn't see how she could be late to skipping class to hang out in the parking lot and smoke. She set her board in the back of her friend's Jeep and then got into the passenger's side. Tobin was a bit surprised that Ash was sitting out here, but when she had gotten the text that Ash wanted her to meet up and smoke a bit, she gladly decided that free weed was well worth it. "Ali and I broke up."
"Why?" Tobin asked, taking a hit from Ash's joint. "You guys were literally on top of the world last night."
"She found these this morning and broke it off on the spot," Ash said and Tobin cringed. "I tried to explain myself, but she made me stop the car and she had Alex pick her up. I was quitting. Not just weed, but everything, the drinking, the cigarettes, the vaping. I was gonna go completely clean, but what's the point? If Ali had really loved me, she wouldn't have left so quickly or tried to change me in the first place."
"She wasn't doing it to change you, she cares about you dude. None of this is good for us, you've still got people out there who care about you Ash, don't give that shit up so easily," Tobin said and Ash just shrugged it off. "Think about Nana Harris, we're going for dinner this weekend and do you really think that she's going to just ignore that you're gonna be depressed and Ali's gonna be gone?"
"No, and nobody's saying shit to her about it!" Ash yelled and Tobin sighed.
"Ladies, care to tell me what's going on out here?" Both Ash and Tobin froze at the familiar sound of the assistant soccer coach, head volleyball coach, and history teacher, Carli Lloyd. "I believe you're supposed to be in gym class Ms. Harris and Tobin, nice to see you do wake up before 11."
"Ms. Lloyd, I don't care what you do to me, but don't call my grandmother. I'm not going back to class," Ashlyn said and Carli frowned at her. "I can't go to that class. Don't make me go to that class."
"You have to go to class Ashlyn," Carli's tone was softer as she walked both of the girls to their respective classes. The only class that Tobin really showed up for was her religion studies class, art class, and gym class. Tobin walked up to her English class, knowing that the teacher would be surprised to see her in that class. "What's going on with you today?"
"Nothing," Ashlyn grumbled as she walked into the gym. Everybody turned to look at her and Carli, but they looked away whenever Hope got up to talk to them.
"Harris, I thought I saw you this morning," Hope said, crossing her arms over her chest. She sniffed the air for a second before frowning, recognizing that scent easily. "Stay after class, I want to talk to you in my office. Carli, thank you for finding her."
"No problem," Carli said and Hope smiled at the woman who had become her best friend. Ashlyn watched them curiously, almost as if both of them wanted something more in the goodbye, but were too cautious to act on it. Carli left quickly to get back to her own class and Hope walked with Ashlyn over towards the doorway of the gym. Ashlyn had played as a goalkeeper during her freshman year, which had been Hope's first year as a coach and teacher after she'd been dropped by her professional soccer team after refusing to get a surgery to fix a shoulder injury. Under Hope's training, Ashlyn had become a great goalkeeper, but then something happened during the summer before her junior year and Hope had a few less names on her roster, Ashlyn's included. It had been a hard loss, but both Hope and Ashlyn had been helping the younger goalkeepers get adjusted and Hope had found her varsity starter in Alyssa Naeher.
"How much of your current stench has to do with why Krieger isn't in my class, but instead in O'Reilly's?" Hope asked and Ashlyn didn't say anything or even look up. "You can either get to talking or we can see how your grandmother feels about picking your ass up from the police station later?"
"You wouldn't!" Ashlyn yelled and Hope crossed her arms in front of her chest. She knew that Hope would, that was the sort of thing that Hope Solo would do without even giving a warning, which she was extending to Ashlyn now. That was how Ashlyn, even as she was finding it more and more difficult to take anything seriously, knew that Hope didn't really want to rat her out. Hope had a soft spot for the goalkeeper, even if Ashlyn had been little more than a pain in the ass for Hope since quitting the team. But, Hope believed that the team was a family and Ashlyn, even though she wasn't on the team, deserved to continuously have that family supporting her.
"Let's try this again shall we, what is going on with Ali?" Hope asked softly and Ashlyn looked around the gym. None of the other students were paying attention to them or close enough to eavesdrop, so Ashlyn decided that it was safe, even though most of the school would probably know soon enough that Ashlyn got dropped by Ali for having weed. What sucked was, she had just been holding onto it for Tobin, had her mandatory meeting with her parents the other day where her father had searched her car for any signs that she was doing drugs or doing anything she shouldn't have been.
"Ali and I broke up this morning. Surely you if saw me coming in this morning, you saw her and Alex too. Can we just drop it for now?" Ashlyn asked and Hope nodded.
"Go into my office, lay down. Sleep this off," Hope instructed and Ashlyn walked into Hope's office. She found the blanket and pillow that Hope kept in her office and laid down on the loveseat in the corner. It didn't take long for Ashlyn to fall asleep in her coach's office, smoking had always made her pretty tired.
"Just go find somewhere else to do your work like normal Ms. Heath. I don't want you distracting everybody," the teacher said and Tobin nodded. She gathered her things and walked downstairs, sighing as she did. It made sense that her teacher didn't want her in class, she rarely got to school before her art class right before lunch. After lunch, she always went to her religious studies class with Ms. Lloyd and then she'd go straight to gym and then home. However, today, she knew she'd be stuck in the office to do her work. Normally, her teachers didn't care whether she was in her class or not, so she'd go hang out there and do the work she apparently needed to catch up on. Tobin, however, only did what was needed to technically pass her classes.
"Tobin, what are you doing wandering around?" Abby Wambach, the teacher in charge of the kids taking college classes asked. Tobin's religious studies class was one of Abby's that she was doing with another teacher. Technically, it was Abby's class, but Carli would normally come in to teach it for her. Carli understood the criteria a lot more since it was more for the historical parts than the religious parts. Abby would normally go sit in on Carli's class that period. "I don't normally see you here before art."
"I normally don't come to school before art," Tobin said and Abby pulled the girl aside. "Do you mind if I do my work in your classroom?"
"Fine, but only because I know that the other students I have in here either won't be distracted or are finished with their assignments," Abby said and Tobin smiled at her teacher before following her in. Tobin looked around to see 8 other students in the room: Kelley O'Hara, Tobin and Ash's housemate, Alex Morgan, the superstar forward on the soccer team, Lauren Cheney, a girl Tobin knew from her childhood and soccer, Amy Rodriguez, another girl Tobin had known since birth essentially, Whitney Engen, a quiet girl who Tobin had seen Ashlyn hang around a bit, Allie Long, one of the girls Tobin had gotten to know through church, Alyssa Naeher, the goalkeeper that Ashlyn and Hope had trained, and another girl that Tobin didn't really recognize. She had definitely seen the other girl around the school a few times before, Tobin thought she was in her art class and maybe another one, but Tobin had never spoken to her before.
"Toby!" Kelley yelled excitedly. She ran over to her friend and hugged her tightly. After a couple of seconds, she moved backwards, making a face at her friend. "Dude you reek. I have spray in my bag if you wanna go to the bathroom to cover it up a bit."
"I don't really care, not like I'm leaving here until art Kel," Tobin said, sitting down next to her friend. Abby watched the girls curiously, wondering how Kelley managed to balance everything around her. Kelley was on her way to being the valedictorian, battling it out with Alex Morgan and Christen Press, yet she apparently had quite the social life and had nearly been caught doing the same things that Tobin and Ashlyn did constantly. Abby knew that Hope and Carli covered for the girls constantly, but eventually something big would happen that couldn't be swept under a rug and everybody would go down with them.
"Mrs. Wambach, may I go to the bathroom please?" Whitney asked and Abby nodded. She noticed that the girl's phone was vibrating in her hand and knew who it was immediately. Whitney's girlfriend since freshman year, Becky Sauerbrunn had been away at college for a couple of years now and was finally going to be coming back to begin shadowing an English teacher here.
"Tell Becky we miss her!" Kelley called out and Whitney blushed at being figured out. Abby still let the girl take the call in privacy before turning to Kelley and Tobin.
"Kelley, I believe you had a project to finish with Christen," Abby said and Kelley nodded. She stood up and walked over to the girl that Tobin now knew was Christen Press. She knew the name well, but had never really been able to put a face to it. She had to admit, for being such a nerd that apparently had been prime pickings for many assholes all over the school, she was kind of hot. Of course, Tobin knew why they picked on her, she didn't look like she could fight back if she wanted to. She looked very fragile and Tobin decided then and there that she'd try to look out for the thin and lanky girl best she could. "Lauren, can you help Tobin figure out whatever work she's supposed to do please?"
"Yes ma'am," Lauren said, moving towards her former church camp buddy. "Hi Tobin."
"Hey Cheney," Tobin said and Lauren wasn't sure how to talk to her friend anymore. They were so different, Lauren had let herself focus on soccer and Jrue; Tobin didn't seem to focus on anything except for "having fun" which was really a distraction from herself. "How's your mom doing?"
"Good, everybody misses seeing you around and at church. You should come sometime, you can sit with Amy, Jrue, and I if you want." Lauren's offer was met with contemplative silence. Lauren didn't expect Tobin to magically agree to go to church with her, but a girl could hope. "If not, you're always welcome to stop by for dinner. I'd really like to hang out sometime again. Amy would too, even if she won't say anything."
"I didn't really leave things too well with her did I?" Tobin asked and Lauren sighed. Amy got out of her chair and sat down next to Lauren, pulling her a little ways away from Tobin. Abby noticed the exchange from her desk and had Tobin move over to sit with Christen just as Whitney was getting back. Abby didn't have to have been the head coach of the soccer team to have known that Amy and Tobin weren't on good terms. The two girls had gotten into a couple of fights since Tobin quit the team with Kelley and Ashlyn, which had been a tough loss for everybody.
"Tobin, this is Christen. Christen, this is Tobin," Kelley introduced them and Christen offered Tobin a shy smile. Tobin replied with a smirk, which made Christen blush a bit. Tobin wasn't sure what it was, but she liked seeing the other senior blush. "Christen plays club soccer with me. She's super good, like rivals Alex good."
"Why don't you play with the school?" Tobin asked and Christen shrugged, not looking up. "I mean, I'm sure that if you played, you wouldn't be so much of a target around here."
"Trust me, they wouldn't," Christen said and Tobin glanced at Kelley who just frowned. "It wouldn't stop anything, so what's the point? If you don't mind, I need to finish up a couple of assignments for another class."
"Tobin, what the fuck?" Kelley whisper-hissed as Christen got up and went to sit by Amy and Lauren. Amy glared over at Tobin, but was distracted by a comforting hand on her shoulder from Lauren. Kelley turned around and looked at her housemate, frowning as she did. "Dude, what's the deal with you and Ash today?"
"Nothing's the deal," Tobin said and Kelley gave her a look. "I'll go apologize to her, I'm sure I'll see her later."
"She has art with you," Kelley said and Tobin seemed surprised. "Dude, I've walked down with her countless times. The art building is across from the gym. Today, you walk her, I have to talk some sense into Ash anyways."
"Thank you," Tobin said and Kelley nodded. "Can you help me with this? I'm totally lost."
"You have to read the book," Kelley said and Tobin huffed. "I'm not giving you the answers, not after you probably got all of our shit wasted."
"Yeah, I did, but it's fine. I'll get more later," Tobin said and Kelley scoffed.
"That's not the point, you guys could have gotten arrested. If it was anybody except for Carli or Hope who had caught you," Kelley said, leaning in towards Tobin. "You can't be so reckless all the time Tobs."
"I don't need to hear this from you of all people," Tobin hissed back at her roommate. She stood up and moved over to the corner of the room, all by herself. She wouldn't have gotten mad if Kelley hadn't been right. For the past two years, Hope and Carli had been covering her ass for practically anything. If she didn't know better, she would've assumed that it was because of them that she hadn't been expelled for missing so much school. Normally, she was good about not getting caught smoking on campus, but normally it was just cigarettes that she smoked and not weed. Lately though, Tobin had found herself not caring if she got caught, her 18th birthday was coming up soon enough and once that happened, she could drop out and do whatever she wanted without having to worry about repercussions from her parents. Tobin waited in Abby's classroom for until art came.
"Where you going in such a hurry Pressy? Where's your little bodyguard? O'Hara musta finally come to her senses and stopped hanging around you." Tobin moved through the crowded halls to find out where Christen was. She found the other senior and the four or five guys standing around her. Tobin recognized a few idiots on the football team and then two soccer players for the boys' team. Tobin pushed through them and stood in front of Christen. "Out of my way Heath."
"Step back ass wipe," Tobin said, pushing her finger into his chest. He was quite a bit bigger than her, but Tobin was counting on Kelley walking by soon. He laughed and shoved her aside to get to Christen. Tobin growled and then lunged at him from the side, knocking him over. Her fists pounded down on him and the rest of his little posse just stood there, unsure of what to do. They knew if they tried to pull her off of him, they'd be the next target of her fairly well-hidden fury. So, they began to back away, once Tobin noticed this, she got off of their friend, who was being pulled away by his friends. "Anybody else wanna come mess with Press now? Any takers, I could do this all day. Come on, I know you've been dying to fight somebody Serv. Or does Alex not know that you've been harrassing Press?"
"Shut up Heath," Servando said, his voice low and hostile.
"I'd rather not, but my point is, mess with Press and I'll come kick your ass," Tobin said before turning to the girl behind her. "Ready to go to art?"
"You know, I think you might have made everything worse," Christen said as they started walking. "I mean, once you leave, they're gonna come back. All you did was piss them off."
"When they come back, I'll be there to kick their asses," Tobin said with a smile. "I wanted to apologize for earlier. I've got this tendency to be a bit of an ass."
"It's fine, you didn't know. People don't really like me, I don't know what I ever did, but it'll be that way until I can get out of here. Joining up with the soccer team wouldn't solve my problems. It wasn't a terrible suggestion though," Christen said and Tobin glanced down at the sidewalk under them. "Thank you for that back there though. You did kick his ass."
"Do you want to sit by me?" Tobin asked and Christen nodded shyly. "My friends have a table outside if you want to sit there too. I never see you at lunch."
"I don't normally eat in the cafeteria," Christen said as they got the fine arts building. They went into the art room and sat down at Tobin's normal table. Today was like a free day, there was always a project to work on. Normally they were themed and the students got to use whatever medium they preferred to unveil their creations. Tobin liked to paint, there was something about it that was very freeing. Tobin didn't know what Christen liked to do, Tobin realized that she didn't really know anything about Christen other than she was smart and a target for bullying by practically everybody.
"What are you doing for this one?" Tobin asked as she got her paints ready.
"I like sketching things. I can't really do much else honestly," Christen said, sort of sadly. "You're a really good painter."
"You think this is good, you should see what I can do with a can of spray paint." Tobin smirked at her and Christen returned it with a small smile and a little blush. Tobin didn't know why, but whenever Christen smiled at her, she felt better than she had since she left her parents. "Maybe I'll take you to one of my spots later. What are you doing after school?"
"Extra credit," Christen said and Tobin leaned forward on the table. "I could spare maybe an hour to go see your spot. Do you have a car or do I need to pick you up?"
"A ride would be nice, I'm currently stuck either with Ash driving me around or getting around on my board," Tobin said and Christen nodded. "Can you skate?"
"No, but it looks cool. Maybe one day I'll learn." Tobin sat up a little straighter, an idea popping into her head. "What's that look for?"
"I'll teach you," Tobin said with a smile. Christen thought she looked adorable, like a child. Christen nodded and then they went back to their work. Tobin got another part of her painting done and Christen finished her project a bit earlier and then took out another sketchbook. "What's that?"
"Nothing." Christen quickly moved the book away from Tobin. Tobin, for once, didn't push to figure out what was in the book. With any luck, showing Christen her favorite spot in the city to leave her art would bring her show Tobin. "Sorry, but nobody really gets to see what's in my sketchbooks."
"Okay, I get it, top secret. Maybe I'll change your mind one day," Tobin flirted and Christen raised an eyebrow at her.
"Maybe you will, maybe you won't. I'm pretty resilient Heath."
"Well, I'm pretty damn persistent Press," Tobin said as the bell rang. Tobin and Christen walked outside to see Alex and Kelley waiting for them. As they began to walk, Servando, Alex's boyfriend caught up with them. Kelley noticed the shift in Christen and Tobin. Christen seemed to get anxious and Tobin seemed to prepare herself to fight at any moment. Kelley stepped in between Servando and Tobin, deciding that was the more important thing to stop before it could happen. If Servando was one of the assholes that liked to torment Christen, Kelley knew that as long as Alex was around, he wouldn't do shit to the quiet girl.
"How was art guys?" Kelley asked and Christen seemed to relax a bit as she talked about her sketch. "What was the theme?"
"We had to do something with perspective," Tobin said and Kelley nodded. "The painting is coming along well, but I might have to stop by instead of going to gym to finish it up before the deadline though."
"Yeah, Hope's not letting that happen. She's pretty pissed at you," Alex said and Tobin huffed. "Don't worry, I heard she ripped Ash a new one this morning. Although, I'm sure she deserved it. She's been acting like a fucking idiot recently, namely today. Apparently Carli caught her smoking this morning in the parking lot."
"She caught both of us. It would have been fine if Ali had listened to her instead of just leaving," Tobin said, getting defensive. She may be on thin ice with Ash, but she wasn't going to let anybody say shit about one of her best friends without having all of the facts first.
"Guys, relax!" Kelley yelled and everybody got quiet. "Let's drop it for now. It's not our business, it's between Ash and Ali, last time I checked, none of us are them. When they want our say, they'll come to us and ask for it. Until then, let them deal with their own shit."
"Right," Tobin said and Kelley huffed. She moved ahead quickly, Alex and Servando following her. Christen and Tobin stayed back a bit, no rush to get to lunch. Christen stopped by her locker to get her lunchbox, Tobin following her as she did. There were a few people lingering in the halls, but nobody approached them. However, once they got to their table, it was a different story. The same guys from earlier were standing by it, waiting for them. "Problem guys?"
"Not at all." Tobin eyed the guy standing in the middle of them, his face bruised.
"If I didn't hit you hard enough before, I could try again," Tobin said with a fake smile. Christen put a hand on her arm, holding her back.
"Can't a guy just sit with his buddies? We're buddies, right Pressy?" He sat down next to Christen and put an arm around her shoulders. Tobin would have attacked him then and there, but Christen held her off with a look. She believed that he wouldn't be dumb enough to try something with Tobin sitting so close to her. Tobin cleared her throat and he removed his arm and sat up. "I'll be see you next period Pressy."
"B-bye Rob," Christen stuttered out and he left, his friends with him. Tobin glared at him and then turned to Christen, who seemed a little shaken up.
"That was weird," Kelley said and everybody else nodded. "What was that about?"
"Nothing I can't handle," Christen said quietly and Tobin didn't believe her. After lunch, they went their separate ways for the time being. Tobin felt guilty for leaving Christen alone, but she had to go to her class. Abby already knew that she was at school and she was certain that somebody had already covered for her with what had happened earlier when she was defending Christen. Tobin was distracted the entirety of the class, but luckily they were currently going over the Bible, which she knew a lot about due to her upbringing.
"Tobin, can you come here please?" Carli asked and Tobin walked over, avoiding the not-so-subtle glares from everybody else. "What's going on with you? You weren't paying attention at all, which I suppose would be normal in your other classes, but not this one."
"I don't know, but I've got a bad feeling about something," Tobin said and Carli raised an eyebrow questioningly at her. "I tried helping her earlier and I think I made everything worse for her. She was defenseless and there were like 5 guys surrounding her, I couldn't let them gang up on her. I think I just made their little ringleader mad and he's gonna go after her again, I know it."
"I'm sure that if you talked to the girls on the team, they'd be willing to look after her," Carli said and Tobin looked down.
"She said it wouldn't help." Tobin looked down and shoved her hands in her pockets.
"You know the right ones to talk to Tobin." Carli dismissed her and Tobin immediately knew who to talk to first. Luckily for her, she knew what class Lauren had after this one. She chased down her former friend and found her in the hallway, talking to Amy and a few other players.
"Cheney, can we talk?" Tobin asked and Amy squared up, stepping between them. "It's really important."
"Yeah, Amy relax," Lauren said, letting Tobin pull her aside. "What's up Toby?"
"So, I tried to help somebody, but I know I made it worse. Christen Press, you know her right?" Tobin asked and Lauren nodded. "Great, maybe you could make sure that nobody's picking on her. Don't go as far as I did, but you're a good leader and if you start watching out for her, others will too. She doesn't deserve any of the shit she gets, please, but don't tell her that I told you to do this."
"I get it, Tobin Heath's got a reputation to uphold. Your secret's safe with me and so is Christen," Lauren assured her and Tobin felt herself relax a bit. "I'll make sure the right people are looking out for her, I promise."
"Thanks Cheney," Tobin said, hugging Lauren tightly.
Carli walked into the gym for the third time that day. She sat down on the bleachers next to Hope, glad that she had her free period the last period of the day. Hope had everybody inside, the August heat beating down on everybody at about 100 degrees. They cancelled school when it got too cold and Hope honestly felt like it was too hot, but apparently not according to everybody else. Sure, they'd admit it was hot as hell, but Hope was suffering a bit more than everybody else it seemed. Carli nudged her friend, who was texting somebody on her phone, and from the look on her face, Carli knew exactly who it was.
"He's still an ass I presume," Carli said and Hope nodded. "I see Heath made it to your class today."
"Always does, but today she was late," Hope said and Carli raised an eyebrow. "Funny enough, JJ, Zach, and Syd were late too. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that would you?"
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't," Carli said and Hope leaned back a bit. She glanced at Christen, who was using Zach as a human shield in a game of dodgeball. Carli followed Hope's line of sight and smiled a bit at the sight. Christen had a rough time, but Carli knew she was a talented soccer player from their summer club. Carli had tried to recruit the girl to playing for the school's team, but she was adamantly against it. This was the first time that Carli had seen the girl actually interacting with another student in a semi-friendly way.
"I think something is changing with Tobin," Hope said and Carli nodded. "Can't tell if it's for the better or not yet."
"It'll be for the better, how she gets to that point though, up for debate," Carli said and Hope nodded. She pointed over to the football player sitting on the bleachers. "What happened to him?"
"Won't say, but I think it's got Heath written all over it," Hope said and Carli raised an eyebrow. "Look at her knuckles."
"She's a fighter," Carli said with a small chuckle and Hope sighed. "There's always a reason we don't understand with her. I mean, there were reasons with you too."
"Fair enough," Hope said, putting an arm around Carli. Carli pushed her back with a chuckle and Hope pouted. "Fine, I see how it is."
"Keep it professional Solo." Carli winked and Hope scoffed. They went back to watching the game between the kids. Somebody managed to get Zach out and Christen was left defenseless. That's when Hope noticed how the girl moved, her side was hurt. Tobin, who'd been sitting out for quite some time now after throwing the ball and nailing the football player in the face, caught on immediately as well. There were a few guys on the other side and Christen was the last left on her side. Tobin ran onto the court and tried to shield Christen from the balls, but was a bit too late. Both balls hit, one hitting her side and rocking and the other hitting her legs and tripping her. Tobin caught her at the last minute though, helping her up.
"Tobin, bring her here," Hope said loudly and Tobin moved Christen over to Hope. "What happened?"
"Nothing, I don't know what you're talking about," Christen said and Hope gave her a look. "It's from an earlier class, I tripped and fell. Must have hit my side on the table harder than I thought."
"Bullshit!" Tobin yelled and Christen sighed. "Was it Rob?"
"Tobin, this isn't your problem, it's mine," Christen said and Tobin crossed her arms. "Why do you care so much anyway?"
"I don't know!" Tobin yelled, frustrated. She avoided Christen until the bell rang, when the other girl followed her to the parking lot and Ash's Jeep. "What are you doing?"
"We had plans, but I get it if you don't want to go," Christen said and Tobin walked with her.
"I still wanna go," Tobin said and Christen nodded. She let Tobin put her board in the backseat of her car and they started driving. Tobin gave her directions to an abandoned building downtown, one of the walls decorated in a half-finished mural.
"It's beautiful Tobin," Christen said and Tobin shrugged the compliment off. She had never really been all that good at accepting compliments about things like this from others. "Thank you for today, it meant a lot. I've never had anybody stand up for me. Rob's always gonna be an asshole though, but thank you anyways."
"He'll stop, I'll make him," Tobin promised and Christen smiled at her. She didn't believe he really would, but Tobin would keep trying and that meant everything to Christen. In the course of a few hours, Christen had managed to find somebody she could call a friend and it felt amazing. "What did he do to you before gym? I want the truth this time."
"He sat by me, let me do my work like normal, and then all of the sudden, he put his arm around me. I thought it was weird, but he told me to keep quiet so I did. That's when he started squeezing and squeezing. Eventually he let go and then left me alone for the rest of the day," Christen said and Tobin clenched her fists. "It's fine, he could have done a lot worse."
"Nobody is going to do worse to you ever again, I promise you that. Anybody tries to hurt you again and they'll have me and a whole lot more coming for them," Tobin said and Christen's eyes started watering. "What's wrong?"
"It's a lot to get used to, having somebody standing up for me," Christen said and Tobin didn't know what to do. Christen quickly moved to hug Tobin, but she moved away when Tobin didn't hug her back. "Sorry."
"It's fine, I mean, friends hug right?" Tobin asked and Christen nodded.
"I guess, I've never really had any before you." Christen let Tobin hug her this time before they got back in the car. Christen drove Tobin home, the other girl lingering in the car for a moment.
"Here's my number," Tobin said, writing down a phone number and handing it over to Christen. "Call or text me if you want to talk or hang out. I'll see tomorrow, maybe I'll even get to school on time."
"I can pick you up if you want," Christen said and Tobin nodded. "I'll call you when I leave then."
"Sounds like a plan," Tobin said and Christen nodded. Tobin got her board and backpack before going back inside. Christen drove off and Tobin turned around to see Kelley and Ashlyn looking at her. "What?"
"Who was that?" Ashlyn asked and Kelley took a step towards Tobin for a moment. "Or is more of a who is she question Tobs?"
"Yeah Tobs, who is she?" Kelley asked, already knowing the answer.
"Just a new friend," Tobin said and Ashlyn and Kelley exchanged looks. "What have you been doing?"
"About to start a game," Ashlyn said and Kelley handed Tobin a controller. Tobin sat on the couch with her friends and Ashlyn started the game. They sat and played for hours, neither of them talking about anything too heavy until they were finished. "Sorry if I was an ass earlier."
"It's fine, we're all allowed to be asses sometimes," Kelley said and Tobin nodded. "At the end of the day, as long as we don't forget that we've got each other, everything will be fine."
"I love you guys," Tobin said, pulling her friends into a hug.
"Love you too Tobs," Ashlyn and Kelley said.
"Let's get something to eat," Tobin said and Ashlyn grabbed her keys as Kelley grabbed her wallet. As they walked out of the house together, Tobin smiled, she had to admit that she felt pretty lucky to have the friends she did because at the end of the day, they'd be there for her.
For Tobin, the next morning came too early. It was a rarity for Tobin to be the first awake in the house. It was even rarer for Tobin to have woken up on her own. She wasn't really sure how early she would have to get up to get ready for school. Tobin wanted to look good, make an actual effort for today. Today, Tobin wanted to really impress Christen, but she also wanted to be ready to leave as soon as Christen's car was in their parking lot. If Ashlyn or Kelley knew that Tobin was coming to school on time for Christen, she'd never hear the end of it. Tobin wasn't embarrassed by Christen, but she had given Kelley and Ashlyn a lot of shit for the things that they had done for girls, so she knew that hers would be coming. Especially for somebody like Christen, who was so different than Tobin.
Tobin took a shower as quietly as possible and then looked through her closet. She found a pair of jeans without holes in them or paint staining them. After that, she grabbed a button up shirt from and looked for matching socks. She quickly got dressed and then went to find a beanie. As she found the one she wanted, her phone vibrated on her bed behind her. Tobin didn't notice it, nor did she notice Kelley, who had come in to answer the phone.
"Hey Christen," Kelley said, laying on Tobin's bed. At the sound of her housemate's voice, Tobin turned around and grabbed the phone from her.
"Hey Christen, sorry about that," Tobin said, slightly panicked.
"It's fine, I'm on my way. I know I'm a bit earlier than I should be, but I was thinking that we could get a coffee or something?" Christen suggested and Tobin bit her lip.
"Totally, I'll be waiting outside. Ash is still asleep and I don't want to wake her up or anything," Tobin said and Christen told her she'd bet here in 5 minutes before hanging up. Kelley sat on Tobin's bed with a smirk on her face, looking at Tobin's outfit. "What?"
"You're up early, dressed nicer than I've seen you dress in forever, and Press is on her way here. I'd say that somebody has a crush on the valedictorian," Kelley said and Tobin scoffed. "Don't break her heart Tobin. You can kind of be an ass when it comes to girls and Press is the kind of girl who would fall for you."
"She's smarter than that and how do you know she's not straight?" Tobin asked and Kelley sat up a bit.
"It's part of why she's picked on Tobin. Besides, Press is smart, yes, but she's also been really lonely for a long time. Just be careful with how you act around her." Kelley made Tobin promise before getting out of Tobin's room. Tobin put on her backpack and stood out on the porch, smoking a cigarette. Ash and Tobin were the ones who smoked cigarettes, while Kelley and Tobin would vape together, but all three smoked weed and drink together. Although, it seemed that Kelley had been smoking cigarettes lately, even though she'd yelled at Tobin and Ash when they started. Kelley stepped outside as Tobin blew a cloud of smoke out. "Plan on sharing?"
"You don't do this," Tobin said and Kelley took it anyways. Tobin watched as her suspicions were confirmed and Kelley took a drag. "What's been up with you lately?"
"Who knows, maybe it's a seasonal depression. Maybe I just suck at distracting myself now," Kelley said with a dry laugh. Tobin punched her arm and took the cigarette away from her. "You of all people can't tell me I can't smoke."
"Go talk to the counselor or something Kels," Tobin said and Kelley pulled a cigarette out of Tobin's pack. "Those are expensive."
"So were the blunts I used half my paycheck to buy," Kelley said and Tobin sighed.
"Sorry about those," Tobin apologized and Kelley shrugged as she lit up. Tobin watched as Christen's car pulled into the driveway. "I'll see you at school."
"Yeah, at school," Kelley said, hugging her friend. She watched Tobin walk towards Christen's car, throwing her cigarette down and putting it out about 6 feet away from Christen's car before getting inside.
"What was that?" Christen asked and Tobin buckled up before sighing. "You smell like an ashtray, it's disgusting. Here, spray this."
"Good morning to you too," Tobin said as she sprayed Christen's perfume on herself. It smelled nice, not as nice as Tobin thought it would on Christen, but still nice. They began to drive and Christen avoided talking to Tobin until the other girl cleared her throat. "Are you mad at me or something?"
"You know, you shouldn't smoke," Christen said and Tobin raised an eyebrow at her. "It's really unhealthy, like lethally unhealthy."
"Kelley's been spewing that shit to me for years now," Tobin said and Christen sighed sadly. "It won't make a difference, but I'll let you make your case if it'll make you feel better."
"Look, I get that we don't really know anything about each other, but you're the only person who's ever told me that we're friends and I'd like to keep you around as long as I can," Christen said and Tobin had to admit it was convincing. She contemplated quitting, but sighed, giving Christen a small smile. Christen knew that Tobin wasn't going to quit just because of that, but then she got another idea. "I'll start smoking then."
"No offense, but I'm pretty sure if you tried to smoke, you'd die immediately," Tobin said with a chuckle and Christen pulled into a parking lot. "What are we doing here?"
"We'll get coffee and then we'll test your little theory," Christen said and Tobin shook her head. "If you won't, I'll find somebody who will."
"No fucking way Press." Tobin crossed her arms over her chest and Christen narrowed her eyes before hopping out of the car. Tobin followed her into a cafe and they got coffee and breakfast. They sat in the parking lot with their coffee and food, Christen still trying to get Tobin to give her a cigarette. "You're persistent."
"Of course I am," Christen said and Tobin sighed. She grabbed the pack and lit it, taking the first drag. She reluctantly gave it to Christen, who immediately inhaled too much. She sat there coughing as Tobin patted her back. Tobin took the cigarette and rubbed circles on Christen's back as she stopped coughing. "You do that for fun?"
"Somewhat," Tobin said with a little smile. The look on Christen's face made the smile disappear instantly. Suddenly, she felt ashamed of that particular habit, but knew that Christen probably wouldn't approve of her sense of fun. "What do you do for fun?"
"I don't really have a lot of time for fun," Christen said and Tobin scoffed. "What?"
"There is always time for fun, you're just not making enough of it. You like soccer, go out and play a bit more. Exercise is good for the body. Sketch a bit more, draw what makes you happy. Go out and experience life, you're bound to find something you love," Tobin said and Christen liked this side of Tobin. It was the one she hadn't seen in school before.
"We should get to school now," Christen said and Tobin nodded. Christen sprayed both of them with perfume to get rid of the cigarette stench and then Tobin walked with Christen to Mrs. Wambach's classroom. The door was shut, but unlocked as Christen walked right in and sat down at one of the tables in the back. Tobin sat next to her, ignoring the looks from Abby, Hope, and Carli.
"Tobin, what are you doing here?" Abby asked and Tobin shrugged. "I never thought I'd see the day where Tobin Heath was here at school before it started."
"Give her some credit," Hope said, nudging Abby. "Nobody would have bet on either of us working at a school."
"Fair enough," Abby said, leaning back in her seat a bit. The teachers went back to their conversation and Christen got out a textbook and started reading it. Tobin watched her curiously, but stayed quiet. Christen, however, could feel the girl next to her staring and shut the book before turning to look at Tobin, who quickly looked away.
"Tobin, do you need something?" Christen asked quietly. Tobin shook her head and Christen nodded before going back to the textbook. Almost immediately, Tobin went right back to watching her. "Tobin, what's the matter?"
"Why are you just reading that?" Tobin asked and Christen shrugged.
"Maybe I find it fun," Christen said and Tobin scoffed. "You find cigarettes fun, don't judge me."
"Fair point, I guess I'm sorry," Tobin said and Christen looked at her amused.
"I guess I accept your apology," Christen said, obviously mocking Tobin a bit. She was being playful, but the uncomfortable look on Tobin's face immediately told her she'd made the wrong move. "Uh, sorry, I'm not good at this whole, friendly thing."
"You're friendly, just a bit awkward." Tobin reached into her backpack and pulled out a notebook and a pencil. She set it next to Christen and waited for the other girl to take notice. "Can you draw me something?"
"Sure," Christen said and Tobin laid her head down on the table. "Look away, it's a surprise."
"Alright," Tobin said, looking everywhere but at the notebook. Eventually she got bored and took Christen's textbook, marking the page before flipping through it. "Do you want to be a vet?"
"Yeah, I love animals," Christen said as she continued to draw. They sat there as Hope and Carli both left to go to their classes and Abby's room started to fill up with the normal students. Lauren gave Tobin a smile as she took her normal seat by one of the computers to do an online assignment, Amy by her side, a bit less hostile than she was yesterday. Kelley kept everybody towards the front of the room, keeping them away from Tobin and Christen in the back. A quarter of the way through the period, Christen handed Tobin the notebook and pencil back. Tobin looked at it and smiled, Christen had sketched out a picture of her.
"Dude, this is awesome," Tobin said and Christen blushed. "You're so good."
"You should work on your assignments," Christen said and Tobin huffed.
"You got me to school, let's call that a win." Christen shook her head at Tobin and the other girl sighed.
"For me?" Christen asked with a pout. Tobin hadn't expected the pout, which was part of the reason she caved immediately. "Thank you, I promise to help you."
"Good," Tobin said and Christen moved a bit closer to look at the assignments that Tobin had yet to turn in, or look at in some cases. They worked the entire period, Christen helping Tobin, not just giving her the answers. When the bell rang, Christen packed up her things for her next class. "Thanks for the help Christen."
"No problem Tobin, I gotta get to class," Christen said and Tobin offered to walk her. Tobin and Christen walked out of the classroom together and to Christen's next class, Tobin deciding to hang out in the art room after that. She finished up her painting that hour and then went to the gym for the remainder of that period.
"Hey coach," Tobin said, sitting down on the bleachers next to the coach.
"Hi Tobin," Hope said, sitting up a bit. "What are you doing here?"
"I finished my art project and had some free time," Tobin said with a smile. "So, how's the team look this season?"
"There's a lot of hard workers on this team, but I can tell that some of the girls are down to not have the full senior team from freshman year," Hope said and Tobin sighed. "I know you wouldn't be able to join for another month. Gotta pass that drug test first and your skills are probably rusty."
"We could go to the field to test that today," Tobin suggested and Hope nodded.
"Can I ask you something?" Hope asked and Tobin nodded. "I know you're a good kid, I've known it for a long time, even if everybody else forgot. I just wanna know why you're hanging out with Christen now?"
"I don't know, I just kind of felt a pull. I can't really explain it. It feels right being around her, she makes me feel good. Do you get it?" Hope nodded, understanding Tobin's words. She had been in a similar position in high school with Carli. It had just taken a bit longer for her to understand why she felt like she did around her.
"I get it Tobin, I had a Christen Press of my own when I was your age," Hope said and Tobin nodded. "You can go out there and play with them if you want to. You don't have to stay up here with me."
"Nah, it's nice to sit back and relax sometimes," Tobin said a little quieter.
"You still live with O'Hara?" Hope asked and Tobin nodded. "Has she been different?"
"Yeah, but she won't open up. I think it's hard for her, not having soccer or Erin to fall back on."
"Ashlyn Harris to the counselor's office," the secretary's voice rang out over the intercom and Ashlyn got out of her seat slowly. She took her stuff with her and walked to the office. It wasn't uncommon for Ashlyn to see the counselor, but everything with her parents and brother had been worked out. Although, now she supposed that this was going to have something to do with Ali, who had been out of every class she had with Ashlyn. That was noticeable, they had worked out their schedules to essentially be the same for their senior year so they could spend time together. Ali would be busy with her soccer practice and both of them had work after school most days. Of course, once Ali breaks things off with her, Ashlyn finds herself with a lot more free time now that her hours had been cut.
"Ashlyn, please, take a seat," Heather O'Reilly said, opening her door to the tattooed senior. Ashlyn sat down in the empty seat across from Heather's desk, beside Ali. "Alright, I believe that there are things that need to be said. Nothing said in this room leaves this room, I promise, it's a safe space. Ashlyn, is there anything you would like to explain to Ali about yesterday?"
"It wasn't mine," Ashlyn said quietly. She looked up at Ali tried to calm herself down. "It wasn't mine, it was Tobin's. She left it in my car because she had to see her parents the other day and her dad always checks the car. I told you that I was going to make an effort to cut back and quit and I meant it, I swear."
"I'm sorry Ash," Ali said and Ashlyn held her hand up, silencing Ali.
"No, you didn't let me explain earlier, so I don't get why you'd listen now. I think that maybe it's best if we spend some time apart. I mean, why the hell should I give you a second chance if you wouldn't even give me a single one?" Ashlyn asked and Ali sniffled. "Can I go now?"
"Actually, Ali, please go sit outside for a moment, I need to speak with Ashlyn alone." Heather spoke softly and Ali walked out of her office, shutting the door behind her. "How has your morning been so far Ashlyn?"
"Okay I guess," Ashlyn said, shifting a bit. She had never really felt comfortable talking to people about her problems. Heather knew that, so she never spoke to Ashlyn in a way that would make her feel like she was being analyzed. "Better than yesterday I guess."
"Do you have plans for the weekend?" Heather asked and Ashlyn nodded. Heather noticed that something exciting must have been happening if Ashlyn perked up so suddenly.
"Nana Harris is having Kelley, Tobin, and I over for dinner Saturday night. Then Sunday, we're gonna go to the beach and hang out a bit," Ashlyn said and Heather smiled. She cared a lot about Ashlyn, not just because she knew all about what the girl had been through in the past few years. "Tonight I think we're going to a party. Ali and I were supposed to go together, but I guess not now."
"Are you going to try and be friends with Ali?" Heather asked and Ashlyn shrugged. "Do you want to?"
"Yeah, even if we aren't dating, Ali's been my best friend for years. I just don't think that we should be dating right now," Ashlyn said and Heather nodded. "Do you think that I could talk to her again?"
"Of course, if you want, you can use my office for a few minutes to do that alone," Heather offered and Ashlyn nodded. Heather left and let Ali back in, who was met with a contemplative Ashlyn standing by the window.
"I'm sorry about everything, I was a dick. I don't think it's a good idea for us to just pick everything up in our relationship, but I would love it if I could have my best friend," Ashlyn said and Ali ran into her arms.
"I'm sorry for not listening to you earlier. I wasn't being a good friend or girlfriend," Ali said and Ashlyn shrugged it off.
"I get it, though, sometimes I wouldn't listen to me either honestly," Ashlyn said and Ali chuckled at her. "Hey, so Saturday night is dinner at Nana Harris', are you still coming?"
"If I'm invited still," Ali said and Ashlyn nodded. "Great, I'll be there. Oh, maybe steer clear of my place for a bit, Kyle and my mom aren't your biggest fans right now."
"But are you?" Ashlyn asked and Ali nodded. "That's what matters then."
"Chris, hey!" Tobin yelled, catching up with her new friend in the parking lot. "What are you doing Sunday?"
"Probably homework," Christen answered honestly. "Why?"
"Beach day?" Tobin asked and Christen nodded. "Great, we go early by the way. Try to be at the house around 7 or so."
"That is early," Christen said and Tobin nodded. "Do you want a ride home?"
"Yeah, and you can hang out a bit if you want. Maybe even come to a party with us tonight?" Tobin asked and Christen gave her a look. "They're fun, trust me."
"Maybe I'll go to a party later, but I can hang out with you tonight," Christen said and Tobin smiled.
"So, anybody try to mess with you?" Tobin asked and Christen shook her head. Tobin beamed at that, her plan was working fairly well.
"Not really, Rob stayed away from me pretty much all day and so did his friends. Lauren and Zach walked me to class when you were there, which was enough to scare off any potential attackers," Christen said with a chuckle. She started her car and began to drive towards Tobin's house. She parked off to the side a bit and Tobin was happy that neither of her roommates were there yet. Tobin unlocked the door and turned on the A/C before getting Christen a drink from the fridge.
"Sorry, we've got beer and Gatorade. I thought you'd like a Gatorade." Tobin held out the blue drink to Christen, who took it with a smile. "Do you like video games?"
"Not really," Christen said and Tobin frowned. "But I don't really play them. Maybe you could teach me."
"Gladly, it's not everyday that I have something to teach Christen Press," Tobin said with a cheesy smile.
"Actually, I bet there's a lot you could teach me." Tobin was taken aback by Christen's seemingly forwardness for a moment. She turned on the Xbox and handed Christen one of the other controllers.
"Fifa okay with you?" Tobin asked and Christen nodded. Tobin set Christen up on the skill games to get her adapted to the controls. Just as they were about to start their game, the door opened and Ash, Kelley, and a few other girls came in. Tobin looked away from helping Christen for a moment to greet the other girls that had come with Ash and Kelley: Alex, Julie, and surprisingly to Tobin, Ali. "Hey guys, gonna play?"
"Totally," Julie said, sitting down on the couch next to Christen. Christen looked over at Julie and gave her a shy smile, which the blonde returned. Tobin felt jealousy in the pit of her stomach at their exchange and wasn't really sure why. But Tobin just dismissed it as her being protective and went back to helping Christen with the game. "Tobs, you gonna be at the party tonight?"
"Totally," Tobin said and Julie smiled at her. "Servando's house is gonna be trashed after this Lex."
"So I've heard," Alex said with an eye roll. "At some point, we do need to start getting ready though."
"Shower upstairs," Kelley said and Alex nodded. She went upstairs to get ready, Ali following her as the others stayed downstairs to play games. Christen left around 6, and Tobin practically jumped to walk her out before Julie could offer to.
"I'll see you Sunday," Christen said and Tobin nodded.
"Yep, Sunday. Maybe I'll teach you how to surf," Tobin said with a small smile. Tobin opened Christen's car door for her before quickly giving the other girl a hug. "I'm really excited for Sunday."
"So am I," Christen said as she got into her car. "Goodbye Tobin."
"Later Press," Tobin said cooly with a wink. Christen closed her door and once Tobin had stepped away from the car, she backed out of the driveway and drove herself home. Tobin went back inside to see Kelley and Ashlyn sitting on the couch, both looking suspicious. "What?"
"Could you be any more obvious?" Kelley asked and Ashlyn nodded. "I mean, the walking out, the hug, and whatever the hell you did to end that. Oh and the obvious jealous eyes at JJ."
"You've got nothing to worry about with JJ," Ashlyn said and Kelley nodded. "Ali and Alex confirmed it for us on the drive over. JJ's got a girl already."
"Whatever," Tobin said, flopping onto the couch. "Christen's coming with us Sunday."
"Of course," Kelley said smiling. "I did tell her about the beach, but she told me that she wasn't sure. I guess you asked too."
"Yeah, because I think she could use more friends and I mean, you guys seem to like her."
"Of course we like her Tobs, she's nice and is totally a good influence on you," Ashlyn said and Tobin took a sip of Kelley's beer. "You should ask her out."
"Totally," Kelley agreed. "You guys would be adorable."
"We're friends. Right now, I think that's what she needs, not a girlfriend. Especially not one like me," Tobin said and Kelley frowned at her. "I'm gonna go outside for a smoke."
"I'll join you," Ashlyn said and Kelley got up too. Tobin walked outside, looking for her pack of cigarettes and lighter. "Problem?"
"Maybe," Tobin said, rushing back inside to try and find her things. She searched around the house and then in her backpack, coming up empty. "She stole my cigarettes."
"Maybe it's for the better, yeah?" Alex said as she walked down the stairs, looking gorgeous. "Also, I find it hilarious that Christen Press stole your cigarettes."
"Except for she knows damn well I won't quit and she said that if I don't, she'll start," Tobin said and Alex laughed before realizing Tobin was both serious and concerned. "It's bad enough I got Ash and Kelley started, but Christen's better than that."
"You could always quit," Ali suggested and Ashlyn rolled her eyes. "Seriously, that way, nobody dies of cancer."
"She's got a point," Kelley said, placing her hands on her hips. "We can stop by on the way to the party. Christen doesn't live too far away."
Tobin went upstairs to get ready for the party. Kelley and Ash followed her upstairs, but went to their respective rooms. Tobin came downstairs in a much more casual outfit than what she had worn to school. She traded her nice jeans for a pair of shorts and her nice shirt for a distressed tank top. Ashlyn and Kelley's outfits were fairly similar, plaid shirts and ripped skinny jeans with hats and boots. One might argue that it was a bit hot outside to wear that, but the two of them were willing to suffer a bit to look good. Everybody rode in Alex's car, even though it was definitely cramped. They stopped at Christen's house and Tobin got out of the car and calmly walked up to the front door and knocked on it. Within a few seconds, the door was opened and Tobin saw Christen standing in front of her, a smug look on her face.
"I believe you have something of mine," Tobin said calmly. "I would like them back please."
"Nope, I can't in conscious give you the cigarettes back," Christen said, crossing her arms over her chest. Tobin huffed and moved a bit closer to Christen, learning that the other girl was actually taller than her. "I meant what I said this morning."
"Fine, I'll go buy more then." Tobin stood her ground, but it seemed Christen was too.
"Alright, but that won't change anything," Christen said and Tobin knew she wasn't bluffing. "Quit and save both of our lives."
"Persistent," Tobin muttered under her breath as she sighed. "Fine, I will try to quit, but I'm not doing it cold turkey."
"Alright." Christen handed her the pack and light back. Tobin checked it and frowned at her, noticing that 3 were missing. "Incentive to keep your word. Bye Tobin."
"Later Press," Tobin said and Christen gave her a quick hug before going inside. Tobin walked back to the car and got in the backseat, which Julie and Kelley had managed to hotbox with their vape. Alex had all of the fans on to keep it in the back. "I've been allowed to slowly quit."
"Are you gonna?" Ashlyn asked and Tobin shrugged.
"I wasn't left with a choice, I don't want her to start," Tobin said and Kelley hugged her friend.
"We're really proud of you Tobs," Ali said, glancing back at the brown haired teenager. "Now to get the other two idiots to stop."
"I think Christen was onto something," Alex said and Ali nodded. She quickly reached into Ashlyn's shirt pocket and grabbed the pack before handing one to Alex.
"Alright, this is unfair," Ashlyn said, trying to get them from Ali. "Tobin, your girlfriend sucks."
"She's doesn't suck and she's not my girlfriend," Tobin snapped at Ashlyn. "Maybe she's onto something though. It is really bad for us."
"And the environment and those surrounding you," Julie said and Tobin leaned forward and turned to look at the blonde. Nobody really said anything for the rest of the ride there, but it wouldn't have mattered since Servando's house wasn't too far away. Once they arrived at the party, Tobin immediately got herself a drink, something stronger than usual. With a drink in her hand, Tobin set out to have fun at this party. Everything was good and fun until she went outside to take a breather, only to see Rob, Servando, and a couple of their friends standing outside together. She stayed behind them quietly and listened in to their conversation.
"Dude, man up. She hangs out with a bunch of fucking lesbos, no way she'll stick around for too much longer. Just do what you want, have a little fun man!" Rob said, hitting Servando in the chest.
"Maybe you've got a point, I asked her to come over before the party so we could, uh, you know..." Servando trailed off and Rob chuckled. "The weird thing is, she didn't want to. Said she had to go hang out with Kelley instead. What do we do about Tobin though?"
"She's smaller than us, she caught me off guard. Maybe we just need to show both of them that they aren't shit," Rob said and his friends agreed with him. "I say Monday, we meet 'em in the parking lot as they come in. Even better if Tobin's not with them. There's a few people who could stand to learn a lesson or two anyways."
"You won't be doing shit," Tobin muttered to herself as she snuck back inside. She didn't drink for the rest of the night, instead staying around her friends. When the party ended, they all stayed over, Servando acting as if he hadn't been planning to try and ambush Tobin and Christen with Rob and his gang of idiots. "Do you think I made things worse for Christen by being her friend?"
"Absolutely not, if anything, you've made things better. She's going somebody there for her she didn't have before. Actually, she's got tons of somebodies now. We're going to make sure she knows that she doesn't have to be all by herself anymore. Besides, I think Christen is somebody who all of us could really benefit from being around if I'm being honest," Julie said and Tobin nodded. "I think that now is the time that we all need each other, even if we don't know why yet."
"You know, earlier, I was about 3 seconds from punching you," Tobin said and Julie chuckled.
"Oh I know. I'm not a threat if you're interested in Christen, I've got my eye on somebody else. But I admire your instinct to protect Christen, you're not as bad as everybody says you are Tobin." Julie patted Tobin on the back as they both stretched out on the floor next to each other.
"Guys, shut up," Ashlyn mumbled into her pillow, obviously tired. That night Tobin slept easily, the sounds of her friends sleeping around her calming her. She couldn't wait for Saturday and Sunday, knowing that she'd get to spend time with people that meant a lot to her without having to worry about anything.
Tobin stood in front of her mirror, looking her outfit over. If there ever was a time for Tobin to dress up, it was dinner at Nana Harris'. She smoothed out her shirt and walked out of her room to see Ali and Kelley touching up their outfits. All together, they looked like quite the group. Tobin was wearing a pair of skinny-style khakis and a nice plaid shirt that she worn maybe twice in her entire life actually buttoned up. Ali was wearing a sundress that Tobin was sure matched whatever Ashlyn would end up wearing and a pair of nice flats. Kelley was wearing a very simple, black and semi-frilly dress and converse shoes. It looked a lot like what she had worn when she went on a double date with Alex and Ali Riley, who had stopped by a few times for visits since transferring schools. Ashlyn finally came downstairs wearing nice jeans, a black button up shirt, and a tie with the same simple pattern as Ali's dress.
"Wait, I wanna take a picture first," Kelley said and Tobin rolled her eyes. "I'm sending it to Christen. Tell her to get Snapchat by the way, she's way behind the times."
"Whatever," Tobin said, posing with her friends. Kelley and Ashlyn took a few pictures, Kelley sending all of them to Christen and then they were on their way. Tobin sat in the backseat with Kelley, Ashlyn and Ali in the front. None of them vaped or smoked on the way there, which for a Saturday night was a rarity, but this Saturday was sacred. Tobin felt her phone vibrate halfway through the drive and somehow knew exactly who it was texting her. Either way, she checked it before she got there, not wanting to break the cellphone rule at the dinner table.
'Hey Tobin, you look really good. Kelley sent me the picture of you.' -Christen
"thanks, bet you look good too' -Tobin
'Doubtful, I haven't changed out of my pajamas from last night." -Christen
'ahem, i'll be the judge of that.' -Tobin
[1 Photo Attachment]
Tobin opened the picture and smiled a bit to herself. Christen was sitting in her bed, obviously surrounded by homework that was probably just extra credit. She looked very cute, albeit a bit stressed, in her pajamas. Tobin had never in her life thought that Golden State Warriors shorts had looked good on anybody before, but she had to admit that Christen made them look very good. As the car came to a stop, Tobin looked up to see everybody getting out of the car. Kelley was already up at the door, Ali and Ashlyn trailing behind her. Tobin moved quickly to meet them at the door before Nana Harris opened the door and barely made it, panting a little from the full-on sprint.
"Guys, just left me," Tobin said, placing a hand on Kelley to steady herself. When the door opened, the girls piled in and sat on the couch, the smell of dinner filling the house.
"I swear you get skinnier and skinnier every time I see you. How have you been Tobin?" Nana Harris asked and before Tobin could answer, Kelley and Ashlyn decided to pipe up.
"She's been really good lately, especially since she made a new friend." Kelley's tone was light and teasing. Tobin wanted to hit her, but refrained from it, deciding that there were better times and places to exact her revenge against her friend. "They were even texting on the way here."
"Next month you'll have to invite her, I insist." Tobin sighed, knowing she was now screwed. Christen would have to come to dinner now, nobody skipped out on monthly dinners with Nana Harris.
"Of course Nana Harris," Tobin said and Ashlyn put an arm around Tobin's shoulders. "Ash, please get off of me."
"Aren't you going to tell Nana about your friend?" Ashlyn asked and Tobin was then roped into telling everything she knew about Christen, leaving out a few parts. Once the food was done, everybody's attention left Tobin and went to getting food and sitting at the table. Everybody got a chance to talk about their month. Kelley talked about hanging out with Alex and that since one of the managers at the store had quit, she'd been getting more hours. Ashlyn talked about her lack of hours and how she couldn't figure out what she wanted to do for her big assignment in her careers class. Technically, she had until the end of the year to do the presentation, but she had literally no idea what she wanted to do with her life. For Ashlyn, there wasn't really a plan or anything, she wanted to live moment by moment, but apparently that wasn't actually a career. Tobin talked about her art, her job search, and the skating she'd been doing around the city. Ali hadn't really said anything for the longest time, but when she did, she talked about how the soccer season was going, how busy she had been at work, and helping Kyle with his film projects. After dinner was dessert and then the girls were on their way, each of them taking leftovers.
"Bye Nana," Ashlyn said, hugging her grandmother as she grabbed her keys from the table. "I'll be back next week."
"Don't be late, all he wanted last time was to see you baby," Nana Harris said and Ashlyn nodded. She walked back to the Jeep where her friends were waiting and then started the engine. Ali could tell that Ashlyn was a bit off and had an inkling of what was going on. Ali knew that Ashlyn had a rough relationship with her family, but the one with her brother was the most complicated out of all of them. It seemed that whenever Ashlyn was ready to reach out and talk to him, he was unavailable, but once he was, she wouldn't have anything to say to him. Ashlyn drove them all back to their place, Ali having decided to just stay the night for the beach day the next day, and proceeded to stay up half the night playing video games.
"Hey, uh, do you wanna ride with me?" Christen asked and Tobin nodded.
"Definitely," Tobin said, putting an arm around Christen's shoulders. They walked towards Christen's car and split ways to get in.
"This isn't a big deal or anything, I know that you had important stuff that day, but you never did answer me last night," Christen said and Tobin checked her phone, realizing that she hadn't actually ever replied to the photo.
"I'm sorry, dinner happened and I guess that I forgot to text back. Oh, next month, you're invited and it's kind of mandatory. It'd mean a lot if you came," Tobin said and Christen swore for a moment Tobin Heath seemed nervous. Christen nodded and Tobin beamed. "Great and I apologize for any intensive questioning that may happen. Nana Harris is very protective of all of us. Oh and Kelley wants me to tell you to get Snapchat."
"Not this again, I swear all summer this was all I heard." Christen sighed and Tobin felt a bit bad about asking her. Although, if she had to admit, she did want Christen to have a Snapchat so she'd have one more way to talk to the other girl. "I didn't really see the point of it honestly, I mean, who would I talk to?"
"There's me, for starters, Kelley would blow up your phone to the point where you block her, but then feel bad so you unblock her, Ash, Ali, Alex, JJ, and everybody. My friends are now your friends, we're like a family or a clan, and now you're one of us Chris." Tobin kept eye contact as she spoke to Christen. Honestly, she had gotten lost in the forest that was her eyes. "We're here for you, no matter what, I promise."
"Thank you," Christen said. She was now teary eyed as she moved forward to hug Tobin. After that, she began to drive towards the beach. Tobin had to admit, driving with Christen was so much less scary than driving with any of her other friends. Kelley was easily distracted by things and drove like somebody who didn't necessarily care whether or not she made it wherever she was going, Ashlyn believed that she could multitask while driving sometimes, Alex tended to have some trouble keeping the car straight, and Ali was just sort of out of practice. She had been driven around by Ashlyn since their sophomore year, even though Ali had gotten her license earlier since she was older. Christen was careful, but not to the point to where it was a hinderince.
Surprisingly, Christen had managed to beat everybody to the beach. Tobin, Kelley, and Ashlyn went to enjoy the early waves while Ali and Christen stayed back on the beach. Christen laid down on the blanket next to Ali and used a towel to cover up as she took a short nap. She hadn't gotten to bed as early as she would have liked for having to be up so early today, but she wanted to hang out with Tobin. Even if Tobin had been the cause of her being up so late. Christen didn't text a lot of people, but when Tobin hadn't replied, Christen had gotten worried that the picture was a step too far. Christen liked having Tobin around as a friend, even if she kind of wanted them to be more. Christen had never had a girlfriend before and while the logical part of her brain was telling her that Tobin Heath was a terrible first girlfriend, her heart was telling her otherwise. Tobin had been nothing but nice to her since their first conversation, even if Tobin had ignored her all throughout high school up to that point. Christen's nap had been cut short whenever she felt water dripping onto her from above.
"Kelley, get away from her!" Tobin yelled, yanking Kelley back. Christen opened her eyes and winced at the direct sunlight above her. She sat up slowly and looked around, there were more people at the beach now with them. Christen recognized Alex, Julie, Zach, Sydney, and the Mewis sisters. "Oh, you're up. Hey, you wanna swim with us?"
"Sure," Christen said, standing up. She had worn her swimsuit under her shorts and tank top. Christen pushed her basketball shorts down her legs and then pulled her shirt over her head. Tobin turned just as Christen's shirt was over her face and her jaw dropped. Tobin was acutely aware that Christen played soccer, but she hadn't been expecting the nerdy girl to be in such good shape. As Christen turned to set her clothes down in a pile, Tobin got a peak at Christen's toned abs.
"Stop staring," Alex said, patting Tobin's cheek. Tobin nodded and shut her mouth, quickly composing herself before Christen approached her.
"Ready?" Christen asked and Tobin nodded, not trusting her voice. They walked out to the water together and eased their way into swimming around and having fun. "I remember coming here after soccer games when I was little. My sister Channing would take me on her back out farther than I could touch and we'd try to look at the fishes."
"I like to come here to surf and clear my head," Tobin said and Christen smiled at her. "Sometimes, I even come out here to take pictures for paintings."
"So there's more than what's in the art room?" Christen asked and Tobin nodded. "One day I expect a tour."
"Same day I get a peak at that sketchbook of yours," Tobin said, pulling Christen closer to her. Tobin wasn't sure why, but she was feeling a little bit more daring than usual. Christen's breath hitch a bit as Tobin's hands touched her waist, nervous as to what Tobin would do next. Christen wanted the older girl to kiss her, all she could think about was how Tobin's lips would feel against hers. "So, anybody special in your life?"
"I mean, I did make some new friends recently. One of them is really cool and totally a softie, but she doesn't want anybody to know," Christen said, apparently also feeling bolder. "She's pretty hot too."
"Oh really?" Tobin asked and Christen chuckled. "What?"
"Nothing, that just felt ridiculous," Christen said and Tobin frowned at her. "You are hot though. I just, it felt like you were maybe flirting, so I wanted to try it back."
"Well, you did pretty good," Tobin said, still holding onto Christen. "For the record, you think I'm hot."
"Totally for the record. If there was anybody at our school who I would consider asking out, it'd be you," Christen said and Tobin blushed a bit. "Oh my god, are you blushing?"
"Nah, it's just sunburn," Tobin said, letting go of Christen. She was embarrassed, something that another girl hadn't made her feel since her freshman year and Tobin absolutely hated it. "We should get back, probably put on sunscreen, kinda forgot to."
"Tobin!" Christen yelled and Tobin began to race back to the shore. Christen was hot on her trail and Tobin had to admit that she was insanely fast. They got back about the same time and Christen pulled Christen over to where she had been napping before and got out her sunscreen. Tobin was shocked by the feeling of Christen's hands on her back, but welcomed the feeling anyways. She relaxed into the touch, ignoring the butterflies in her stomach to keep herself cool and collected. Once Tobin had a proper amount of sunscreen on, Christen let her go back out with Ashlyn and Kelley to surf some more, the freckled one spotting some waves a bit farther out than their normal spot.
"You two looked pretty cozy out in the water earlier," Ali said, nudging Christen's leg with her knee. "Almost looked like a kiss."
"I think maybe it almost was. It was weird, we were flirting," Christen said and Alex plopped right down next to her. "I don't really know how to flirt, but with Tobin, it felt natural."
"If you like her, go after her," Alex said and Christen shook her head. "What's so bad about going after what you want?"
"She's my closest friend. Also, I don't know how to be a girlfriend. What if she wants to have sex? I haven't even kissed anybody before." Christen sounded panicked and Ali soothingly rubbed circles on her back.
"It'll be fine, Tobin can be a player yes, but she's also a decent human being who wouldn't pressure you into doing anything you don't feel comfortable with," Alex assured her and Ali nodded in agreement. "You're the first person in years that I've seen Tobin take to so quickly. She cares about you, it's pretty obvious. She doesn't want to mess this up with you either."
"I think we should talk about it first though. Tobin and I that is," Christen said, tracing patterns in the sand. Christen watched them surf and was relieved when they came back safely. Around noon, Alex took Kelley back so she could get ready for work while Christen and Tobin sat a little ways away from Ali and Ashlyn, who were pretty busy making heart eyes at each other, but not acting on it. "Have you ever been out here at night? I bet the stars are beautiful."
"If you're not busy tonight, I've got enough shit in the cooler for us to be able to hang out all night," Tobin said and Christen checked the cooler. She began to dig around and took out two beers. "Those are supposed to be for later, it's only 11."
"Better to do it now so I can get it out of my system later," Christen said and Tobin opened them. Christen took a drink and tried to pretend that the taste didn't bother her. "Ugh, why would I think something that smelled like that would taste good."
"Sorry, it's the cheap beers. Normally the younger ones want a drink or two," Tobin said and Christen looked around to see the rest of their friends playing around and frolicing around the beach. "Don't get too drunk Press, even though I am curious what kind of drunk you are."
"Maybe we'll find out," Christen said, finishing off her first beer. Three and a half beers later and Tobin was certain that she would have to find somebody else to drive Christen's car to her house. "You know, I wasn't kidding when I said you were hot earlier. We should totally like, do it."
"You are drunk. I'm not doing anything with you," Tobin said and Christen narrowed her eyes.
"A little kiss, just one measly little kiss?" Christen asked and Tobin sighed, shaking her head. Christen pouted at her and Tobin sighed, leaning in to peck Christen's cheek. "Tobin Heath does not do cheek kisses, not the one I've heard about. I hear you've got a magical tongue inside that mouth of yours. I hear it can do wonders. Maybe one day you'll show me."
"Chris, take a little nap. Come on, I'll lay down with you," Sydney said, coming to Tobin's rescue. Christen turned and smiled up at Sydney.
"You are so beautiful. I wish I was like you," Christen said and Sydney leaned down and placed her hands on Christen's cheeks. "Are you gonna kiss me?"
"Nope, but come on, let's get you somewhere else. Tobin, do you want to come with?" Sydney asked and Tobin stood up. She picked up Christen and carried her bridal style to her own car. Sydney got into the driver's seat while Tobin sat in the back with Christen. The drive was mainly Christen being extremely touchy with Tobin, which was testing Tobin's self control more than she'd like to admit. "Good luck Tobs."
"Thanks Syd," Tobin said before taking Christen inside. Once both of them were inside, Sydney drove off and left them alone.
"Alright, cuddles time!" Christen yelled and Tobin sighed.
"I need a beer," Tobin said and Christen followed her into the kitchen. As Tobin was getting her beer, Christen managed to find the harder liquor and as Tobin turned around, she caught Christen chugging down vodka. "Whoa, no no no no no no."
"I don't-," Christen hiccuped, "-feel so good." Tobin barely got out of the way before Christen threw up in the middle of Tobin's kitchen floor. Tobin took Christen upstairs to clean her up before cleaning up the puke in the kitchen. Once everything was all cleaned up, she went back to check on Christen, who was passed out cold on the couch. Tobin checked the time, noticed that it was only around 2 in the afternoon, and then decided to play some video games.
"Ow," Christen groaned, holding her head in her hands. Tobin was quickly to the rescue, handing her a glass of water and some painkillers. "What the hell happened?"
"You had 4 beers at the beach and then drank like, three quarters of a bottle of vodka really quickly. I'm surprised you're not dead yet," Tobin said and Christen groaned. "Sleep in, it'll be fine. Trust me, you're not the only good egg that'll be missing from school today. Alex is downstairs, still half-drunk with Kelley and I think Ali's passed out on the back porch with Ash. Things got pretty crazy after you passed out. Oh, and thank you for the compliments."
"What?" Christen asked, not really remembering anything from yesterday aside from before around noon. "What the hell did I say?"
"You called me hot multiple times, talked about my apparent tongue skills, and I'd like to point out that once the hot thing was sober," Tobin said and Christen flopped back against the bed. "It's totally fine though, I know I'm hot and trust me, Kelley's crossed so many more lines before."
"Are you sure?" Christen asked and Tobin nodded. "Okay, thank you."
"No problem, but you might wanna sleep some more," Tobin suggested and Christen moved the blankets next to her and made some more room on the bed. "What?"
"You're obviously tired and I did notice the blanket on the ground, lay with me." Christen's tone was more demanding than Tobin had ever heard it before and she was honestly a little bit turned on by it. Christen cleared her throat and patted the spot next to her, which Tobin moved to fill. Tobin laid stiffly next to Christen, careful not to touch her at all. "Okay, do I have the plague or something? We're friends, I don't mind it if you touch me, not like my skin will burn."
"Yeah, right." Tobin was being awkward, which was surprising to Christen. She let herself relax a bit and closed her eyes, trying not to think about how she was laying so close to somebody who she had taken a liking to so quickly. It felt weird for Tobin, but she liked it. She was scared and not for a bad reason, it was the type of fear that could only bring on courage. It was the kind that didn't seem to bring her or anybody else any harm or a sense of danger, it was juvenile and hormone driven. Tobin took a deep breath and then let her body do what felt normal. Christen fell asleep long before Tobin did, but in Tobin's defense, she was almost asleep, but Christen had literally rolled into her arms and it sparked Tobin's heart to do wonky things.
"Shit, I'm late for school!" Christen yelled, waking Tobin up. "My parents don't know where I am. I'm in so much trouble."
"Hey, relax. This won't seem any better if you freak out," Tobin said and Christen tried to relax. Tobin talked her through the mini-panic attack that she was having before taking her downstairs. Everybody else was awake, most of them nursing hangovers of their own. "Afternoon ladies."
"Fuck off," Ashlyn grumbled before noticing Christen, still in the house. "Sleep well?"
"Yeah," Christen said, yawning a bit. "I should really get home."
"I'll walk you out," Tobin said and Christen nodded. She looked down at the carpet and smiled, letting Tobin take her hand and take her outside. "I had fun yesterday, a drunk you is definitely to babysit."
"I'm really sorry, I promise to make it up to you later." Christen hugged Tobin as she got into her car.
"You're a touchy drunk, but I'm the definition of horny." Tobin winked at Christen and then let her go home. She walked back into the house and was immediately met with questioning stares from her friends. "What?"
"You guys seem to be getting close," Kelley said, smiling at Tobin.
"We're friends Kel," Tobin said, pushing past Kelley.
"Yeah, but you could be so much more!" Alex exclaimed, apparently not caring about the hangovers of everybody else. Tobin was 99% certain that Alex Morgan was a freak of nature, having the ability to drink as much as she wanted without having to deal with a hangover the next day. "I mean, she's sweet and obviously likes you. I think dating her would be really good for you."
"Look, Christen is nice, sweet, and beautiful, but no way. I don't think dating me would be good for her," Tobin said and Alex sighed.
"That poor girl is sheltered, she needs experiences before she goes off to college and honestly, I think you're gonna be the one to show her the ropes before she gets left for the wolves," Alex said and Tobin rolled her eyes at the dramatics of it. "Give her a chance before somebody comes to their senses and takes it from you. There's a lot you could be for her, don't forget that Tobs."
"I won't," Tobin said, going upstairs to think on what Alex told her. She sat down and waited until she believed Christen was home. Then, she pulled out her phone and typed up a text to send to Christen.
'hey, did you get home okay' -Tobin
'Yes, I did. Oh and my parents weren't mad about today.' -Christen
'that's great.' -Tobin
'They thought I needed a break anyways.' -Christen
'wanna meet me for dinner Friday night?' -Tobin
'Kelley's going to Alex's away game and Ash works really late.' -Tobin
'No other reason behind wanting us to have dinner?' -Christen
'maybe I have ulterior motives' -Tobin
'Is this a friendly dinner or a date dinner?' -Christen
'it's whatever you want it to be' -Tobin
"Where are you going all dressed up?" Kelley asked as Ashlyn walked down the stairs. "Got a hot date?"
"No, I'm going to Nana's to see Chris. He's, out of rehab," Ashlyn said and Kelley nodded. "You took that stupid careers class right?"
"Sophomore year why?" Kelley asked and Ashlyn rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. "The big project kicking your ass?"
"Yeah, I never really thought about that. I always kinda assumed that Ali would go off to Penn State, become a famous soccer player, and I'd be her trophy wife and stay home with our kids or dogs or whatever it is she wants," Ashlyn said and Kelley frowned at her friend. "I need a realistic career apparently, nothing too big, but nothing too small either. Apparently I need a whole ass plan to get there and I have no idea what the fuck I should do."
"Relax, it's not a definite plan, more like an outline to maybe shoot for." Kelley gave her friend a soft smile. Ashlyn didn't notice how it didn't reach to Kelley's eyes, but it seemed nobody had noticed that recently. Kelley wasn't sure if she was good at faking her happiness or her friends just didn't pay attention to her. For the past couple of months, she had been going through a rough time. This time of year was always rough for her, soccer season was starting up at school, Erin was normally headed off to college about now, and her parents tended to make their weekly phone calls. This year seemed different, her parents never called and Erin hadn't come back for the summer like she normally did, it seemed that Kelley had finally been given up on by her family. Of course, this led her straight into wanting to give up on herself, but she didn't want to cause attention to be drawn to her, so she put on a fake smile around everybody else and hoped that she was never left alone for too long. "Re-join the soccer team and put professional goalkeeper on there, it might be a bit outlandish to the teacher, but you'll pass it, trust me."
"Alright. Thanks," Ashlyn said, thanking Kelley. She checked her watch one more time before leaving the house, leaving Kelley all by herself. Honestly, this week in particular had brought Kelley down a lot more. Servando seemed to have caught the notion that Alex and Kelley had the potential to be more than friends and had cornered her that morning to tell her to stay the fuck away from Alex. Kelley wanted to go to the game, but she knew that Servando and his friends could definitely keep her away from Alex. Besides, Alex was happy with Servando and it looked like they'd be together for the long haul. Kelley sighed as she took in the rare silence in her home. Alex, Ali, and Julie were getting ready for their game, Ashlyn was going to see Chris, Christen was at the library, and Tobin was at the beach. Kelley was all alone and she absolutely hated it. There weren't any parties, not that her car was even working anymore, the stupid piece of junk had quit on her months ago, so she'd been bumming rides from everybody else.
"This is ridiculous," Kelley said to herself. She pushed herself up and searched around the living room for a pair of running shoes. She remembered hearing somewhere that exercise could help with depression. It was why soccer had been so beneficial for her, but of course she had to go make a reckless decision and ruin it for herself. Kelley grabbed her phone, earbuds, and keys before beginning her run. She wasn't really sure where she could go, she had learned that she'd been taken off of the family membership that her parents had gotten a few months ago and she didn't feel like paying a ridiculous amount to work out once or twice. Still, she just let herself forget about everything and run, hoping that would clear the bad shit out of her mind.
Ashlyn nervously knocked on the door to her grandmother's house. Part of Ashlyn had been scared that maybe her parents would be there too, but she knew that her grandmother wouldn't do that to her. It would be Chris waiting for her, so she needed to steady herself. Yes, she had almost a full week to think about what to say and prepare herself to face him, but in the moment it was scary. The last time she had seen him, things hadn't been left very well between them. It had been Ashlyn's last soccer practice before she quit the team, Kelley and Tobin leaving with her. She steeled herself up and knocked a bit louder, thinking about what Hope would tell her in the moment. She wouldn't necessarily admit it, but Hope was probably one of the most influential adults in her life. She had come in during Ashlyn's freshman year, a former professional goalkeeper, and had come in and done her job, not letting unfortunate instances in her past dictate how she lived her life in the present. Anything that had gotten in the goalkeeper coach's way, had either been run through or worked around.
"Come in, come in," Nana Harris said and Ashlyn walked inside. "You look very nice, he'll be happy you dressed up for him. Dinner's almost ready."
"Smells good," Ashlyn said, following her grandmother to the table. It was already set and Chris was sitting in his normal spot, the one that Kelley liked to sit in on their dinner nights. "Hi Chris."
"Hi Ash," Chris said, standing up and holding his hand out for her to shake. She shook his hand and gave him a once-over. He looked a lot better than the last time she'd seen him. He had cleaned himself up and Ashlyn was happy that he was in a place where that was possible. "I just want to start everything off with an apology. I am sorry for everything I've done that's hurt you and your friends. I have made a lot of choices that have caused me to be in some pretty bad places, but nothing made me feel worse than how we last left things off. Seeing the look on your face made me realize that I needed help and to make better decisions."
"I'm really happy you got help Chris. I'm happy that it's stuck so far, I'm proud of you." Ashlyn forced herself to maintain eye contact with him as she spoke. She was telling the truth, she was extremely happy that her brother was doing better than he was before. He was clean and if Ashlyn had been being honest with herself, a small part of her thought she'd never get the chance to see the day. "What have you been up to?"
"Well, I got released Wednesday and I've been moving my stuff here. The center got me a job as a grocery deliverer, I passed the driving test yesterday actually. I start training on Monday, I'm pretty excited," Chris said and Ashlyn nodded. "How's school and soccer been? You still with Ali?"
"School is okay, easier this year than the others. I don't play on the team anymore, I quit a while back," Ashlyn said, avoiding the Ali question. Luckily, the food was done before she had a chance to answer. Ashlyn walked into the kitchen to see what had been her favorite meal growing up, homemade chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. She got a plate and then sat back down at the table, across from Chris. "This is great."
"I thought it'd make the atmosphere a bit easier." Ashlyn blew on her food as her grandmother spoke. It felt sort of like when they were younger, only there wasn't any misconceptions as to why she was here.
"Do you think it'd be okay if we took some pictures?" Chris asked and Ashlyn seemed surprised. Growing up, Chris had hated taking pictures, always running off after the first one. "We don't have to if you don't want to."
"No, it's fine," Ashlyn assured him. They finished eating in a semi-uncomfortable silence before dessert was served. After they'd eaten and were full, Ashlyn joined Chris on the couch so they could get a few pictures.
"Alex, it's not your fault," Ali said as she followed the captain into the locker room. "Seriously, nobody blames you."
"I missed the shot, got a fucking red, and we lost! How is any of it not my fault?" Alex asked, throwing her arms into the air. Ali sighed, but stepped back as Abby came over to them. Abby pulled Alex aside, away from the other girls to talk for a moment. "Coach, I'm sorry."
"It's fine, Alex. I don't think this is your fault," Abby said and Alex was surprised. "You've been really stressed lately, everybody has noticed. If you hadn't have slid when you did, you'd be sitting out for the rest of the season, no doubt about it. Those girls are very physical players and tonight, you played just how you should. I'm proud of you, you took your shots and you trusted your instincts. You can't play in the next couple of games, but I know you'll be at practice and I'll have Hope get some defensive players to help you with your tackling. Just, don't let every little thing rest on your shoulders, sometimes it helps to not care."
"Thank you coach," Alex said and Abby nodded. "It means a lot to know you're not mad at me for throwing the game."
"You didn't throw the game Alex. Go home, clear your head." Abby patted Alex's shoulder before leaving the girl. Alex changed into sweatpants and a tank top before grabbing her bag and going straight to her car.
"Hey, where are you going?" Servando asked as Alex unlocked her car. "I thought we were going on a date."
"I'm going to the gym," Alex said and Servando nodded. "Alone."
"Got it, text me when you get there," Servando said and Alex nodded. "Picture so I know you aren't lying."
"I know the deal," Alex said and Servando let her get into her car. He went back to his friends as she drove off. She didn't drive straight to the gym, deciding she needed a reason to go first.
Tobin sat patiently on the beach towel, waiting for Christen. She was getting nervous and needed something calm herself down quickly. She reached into her back pocket and pulled out the half-empty pack of cigarettes. She had been trying to quit for Christen and so far, it had been going fairly well. She had limited herself to two packs a week and so far, she had only gone through one and a half. She also had more money than normal, which was nice. Her parents would put money in her account when they noticed that it was low, but she knew that she'd have to manage her expenses for when they decided to just stop giving her money. Tobin knew it wouldn't be both of them making that decision though, once Tobin turned 19 in May, her father had promised that she'd be completely cut off unless she came to her senses first. Her mother, on the other hand, had secretly promised her that she'd try to help her whenever she needed something. Tobin reached for the cigarette and lit it, taking a drag. She exhaled and tried to ignore the guilt building up inside of her.
"Nervous?" Christen asked and Tobin jumped at the sound of her voice.
"Maybe," Tobin said, taking another drag. "Sorry about this. I know you really wanted me to quit."
"You're doing it slowly, it's fine. I'm smart enough to know how unrealistic it is to just up and quit," Christen said and Tobin gave her a small smile. "However, I'd like it if you maybe didn't smoke on our dates. It makes you smell gross and that's not a taste I want in my mouth."
"I promise not to smoke when we hang out, date or not," Tobin promised and Christen smiled, hugging her friend. "I packed us some snacks and there are Subway sandwiches in the cooler."
"Explains Alex bugging me about Subway earlier," Christen said with a small chuckle. Tobin nodded and handed Christen hers out of the cooler. The two of them ate in a comfortable silence, enjoying each other's company. "So, um, sorry I wasn't the best company. I guess I was kind of nervous, first date and all."
"It's fine. Wanna go back to my place and play some games?" Tobin asked and Christen nodded. "Kelley should be celebrating Alex's game with her."
"Yeah, there's no celebrating, trust me," Christen said and Tobin raised her eyebrow. "It didn't go well and Alex got a suspension from a red."
"Damn." Tobin sighed as she packed up the things from their date. Christen helped her carry it back and then drove them to Tobin's house, excited to spend more time with Tobin. Christen liked being around Tobin, she was unpredictable and seemed to really care about Christen, which the green eyed girl was not used to. Sure her family cared about her, but other than that, she didn't really have anybody else.
"Kelley?" Alex slowed her car nearly to a stop as she saw her friend walking alongside the road. "Are you okay?"
"Fine Alex," Kelley lied and Alex took a close look at her friend. She could tell that something was up with Kelley, maybe girl related, maybe not. Alex stopped the car and unlocked it, waiting for Kelley to get in. "What are you doing?"
"Coming back from the gym," Alex said and Kelley nodded. "Do you want to go back to your place or stay at mine?"
"Whatever," Kelley said and Alex started driving towards her own house. "Where's Serv?"
"Hanging out with his friends at some party. It's almost like he doesn't care there's a game tomorrow for him," Alex said and Kelley shrugged. "What's been up with you? You avoided me all day at school."
"I'm a bad influence on you Alex. I just wanted to give you a chance to get away before it was too late," Kelley said and Alex slammed on the breaks. Kelley surged forward and Alex turned to glare at her, pulling over to the side of the road. "Alex, what the hell?"
"Kelley, what is this pity party shit you're pulling?" Alex asked and Kelley shook her head.
"It's not pity party shit, it's the truth. You're too good to be hanging out with somebody like me. I do bad things and eventually, it'll rub off on you," Kelley said and Alex huffed.
"Abby told me to stop caring about every little thing tonight and I'm taking her advice. I don't care that you smoke pot, vape, and drink because I've done all of that too at some point in my life. You're my best friend Kelley, we've been that way since we were itty bitty. Nothing, and I mean nothing will ever change that." Alex unbuckled and hugged Kelley, rubbing her back through the semi-sweaty t-shirt Kelley had gone out in.
"You don't mean that," Kelley said and Alex nodded. "Trust me, there's so much that could ruin us."
"No there isn't. I'm sorry if I made you feel like there was Kelley. If anybody tries to tell you otherwise, ever, tell me and I'll make sure they know different. I love you Kels," Alex said and all Kelley could think was that it wasn't in the way she wanted it.
"I love you too Alex," Kelley said and Alex got buckled up again and finished the drive to her house. At Alex's, they snuck upstairs, Alex was past curfew and technically was supposed to be at Servando's all night, and went to Alex's room. Alex took a shower first and Kelley found something for them to watch on Netflix. Alex walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and Kelley's mouth immediately went dry. "You did remember to save me hot water right?"
"Give it a couple seconds," Alex said, grabbing some clothes and changing in the bathroom. Alex came back, got Kelley something to sleep in, and then let her friend take her shower. Alex called her boyfriend to tell him that she wasn't coming back and had that conversation as Kelley took a shower. Inside the shower, Kelley let the water run over her skin as she contemplated what staying overnight would mean. She would be close to Alex, which she did enjoy, but if Servando found out, it'd be hell for both of them for a bit. Kelley knew how much of an ass Alex's boyfriend could be, and she didn't want Alex to have to deal with all of that. However, Alex knew how much of an ass he was too, yet they were still together. Although, Kelley had to admit, throwing away three years of dating wasn't exactly the easiest sounding option.
"I am so screwed," Kelley mumbled to herself before washing up and turning off the water. She changed in the bathroom, but stopped when she went to put her shirt on. Maybe, just maybe, what she needed was to get laid. She thought about the slightly younger girl sitting in the room outside. Alex was hot and while she did had sexual experience, she didn't have any with another girl. Kelley was sure that she had enough experience with other girls to make up for Alex's lack of, but Kelley wasn't sure what sleeping with Alex would do to their relationship. Alex had assured her that nothing would break them apart, but Alex didn't know what Kelley's 'live now, think later' mentality could do to relationships. Emily had been one of Kelley's close friends and now there was a wedge in between Kelley and the sophomore from their summer fling and subsequent breakup.
"Hey Kel, you okay in there?" Alex asked, knocking on the door. Kelley quickly opened it, holding onto Alex's shirt and nodded. Kelley studied Alex, noticing that there was something a bit off about her friend. "Come on, let's get some rest. I'm tired."
"Okay," Kelley said, climbing into bed with Alex. She quickly drifted off to sleep with Alex holding onto her. Maybe, just maybe, she had clung to Alex in her sleep as if the taller girl was the very thing that was keeping her alive. Kelley liked to sleep in, a trait which Alex did not share. Of course, she wiggled out of Kelley's grasp around 7:15 with the promise that she'd be back before Kelley woke up for real. That was true enough, what Alex was getting up to do wouldn't take long and she could get Kelley breakfast while she was at it. There was a restaurant not too far from Alex's house in between the bustling city and the suburbs that Alex called home. She checked the time as she sat in the parking lot of the high school soccer fields, where the guys were all waiting for the bus to take them to their game, almost seven hours away.
"Alex," Servando said, opening her car door. "Surprised that you didn't bring... her, along." Alex shifted in her seat at his tone, immediately becoming defensive. "Glad you made the right decision though Alex."
"About that, I'm really glad I did too," Alex said smiling. She unbuckled and stood up, clenching her fists at her side. She didn't give any tells or move forward, catching Servando and everybody else in the parking lot watching them off guard as she nailed him in the face with a strong hook. He was rocked, falling backwards and onto the pavement, holding the side of his face in pain. "I'm done with you. You've been an ass since prom last year and I don't know why the hell I didn't drop your ass sooner. Bye Servando, maybe you'll grow up and we'll be able to be friends."
"Bitch!" Servando yelled as Alex got back into her car and drove away. Alex took a deep breath and sent Kelley a text, telling her that she was getting them breakfast. Alex knew it was unlikely that Kelley would wake up and check her phone, but she didn't want her friend to worry. Alex stopped to get them coffees at a nice cafe after getting their breakfasts: oatmeal and fruit for Alex and the cowboy breakfast special for Kelley. Alex didn't know how the hell Kelley could put down all of the food, but she always did and could eat less than two hours later. Alex got home before her parents or sisters were up and went into her room, smiling when she saw Kelley still asleep in her bed, wearing her clothes. Alex wasn't sure why, but all she could think about was how much better her own clothes looked on Kelley.
"Kel, I brought breakfast," Alex said and Kelley began to stir a bit. "There's coffee and pancakes with extra syrup packets because they never give you quite enough."
"Lex, you left me," Kelley sniffled and Alex set everything down and sat down next to her friend on the bed. Alex chalked down Kelley's sadness to her still being tired, but she sat by her friend and comforted her anyways.
"I had to get us breakfast and deal with something else. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but you were still sleeping and I didn't want to wake you. I promise that next time I won't leave until after you're awake. Come sit, let's eat." Alex reached to grab the food and handed Kelley hers. "Have you been okay lately?"
"Totally," Kelley said through a mouthful of food. Alex rolled her eyes and gave her a soft smile. "Why does everybody keep asking me that?"
"Because it seems like you've been doing an awful lot to keep yourself busy. I mean, you've always liked to live faster than the rest of us, but it's different now. Then, you at least would stop to take a breather or two, but when you do it now, you get this sad look on your face. It's not that you necessarily look sad, but more like you've given up and don't care anymore. I'm worried about you," Alex said and Kelley shrugged. "If something's bothering you Kel, I want you to tell me. I want to be there for you, you're important to me and I love you."
"I love you too Al," Kelley said, hugging her friend, careful not to spill their breakfast. "I'll talk to HAO Monday morning and try to slow down a bit."
"Thank you Kelley," Alex said and Kelley nodded.
"I'm sorry Ms. O'Hara, but you need to make an appointment to talk with Ms. O'Reilly," the secretary said and Kelley just sat down in one of the waiting chairs. "You need to go back to class."
"I'll wait here until she's free," Kelley said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. She promised Alex that she'd talk to HAO monday and she was going to do that. She had even gone as far as getting to school earlier than normal. There was a student council meeting that morning, and despite the fact that she hadn't been a part of that, people still let her in as a member. Kelley didn't have to wait long as the woman she was looking to speak to walked in.
"Kelley, hey, it's been awhile since we saw you in here last. Come on back to my office, let's talk," Heather said, leading the senior back into her office. "I've been worried about you. I hear all these crazy stories from parties and you haven't been in for a visit since February."
"I was busy and if I'm honest, trying to distract myself. My parents stopped calling and Erin never came back from college. I guess I sort of felt like everybody had given up on me, so I gave up too," Kelley said and Heather frowned at the freckled girl in front of her. "I think I'm ready to talk now though."
"Alright, well, whenever you're ready," Heather said and Kelley took a moment to collect her thoughts.
"I guess I didn't realize how much I had until they stopped caring. My parents didn't really hurt until Erin texted me that she was staying in Atlanta," Kelley said, sighing softly as she did. "After that, I just sort of stopped caring about things. My parents had wanted me to be a certain thing and Erin had been happy letting me be myself. It felt a bit like a stab to the back to know she wasn't going to be stopping by at all. She missed my birthday, by the way. I got really upset and gave up on myself too. I just partied and hung out, but let that control me. If my friends thought I was having fun, they wouldn't try to see past it too much."
"But somebody did?" Heather asked and Kelley.
"Alex," Kelley answered and Heather nodded. "I promised to talk to somebody, so I came to you."
"I want you to see an actual doctor and get some medication, or at least professional help. Kelley, there are people who care about you out there still. Your friends care, you just have to let them know what's going on so they can all help you. If you need anything else, don't hesitate to talk to me," Heather said and Kelley nodded. Heather let Kelley go get something to eat for breakfast. Kelley raced down the halls to find Alex, who had come early for the student council meeting. She found her friend in the cafeteria, talking to a few other people.
"Hey, how'd your meeting go?" Alex asked, turning her attention away from everybody else once she saw Kelley.
"It went well, but she wants me to see somebody else," Kelley said and Alex patted her friend on the back. "Emily, hey, it's nice to see you."
"Sure," the sophomore answered, not meeting Kelley's eye. Emily's best friend, Lindsey, stepped in between them. If Kelley hadn't known better, she would've thought that Lindsey had growled at her.
"I'm sorry for everything, I realize it's a shitty excuse, but I was going through some family stuff at the time," Kelley said and Emily softened up a bit. She knew what it was like to go through family stuff, she'd been staying over at Lindsey's almost constantly because of it. There were always arguments and fights breaking out between the girl and her parents that it was easier to just pick her clothes up every couple of days, but spent her time with her best friend. "Maybe we can catch up sometime over coffee?"
"Yeah, I can pick you up or something," Emily said and Kelley rolled her eyes. This must have been what Ali felt like when she had first started dating Ashlyn. Emily hadn't gotten her license yet whenever Kelley had been dating her, but now she did have it and Kelley knew the girl drove everywhere. Ashlyn had been the exact same way, driving around Ali, who had been driving longer and had a better car, but the blonde insisted and Ali couldn't refuse Ashlyn anything. Everybody went back to their old conversation, except for Alex, who leaned against Kelley and let her fingers rest on her upper thigh.
"It's a good thing you're not letting yourself just sit quietly and feel like this," Alex said, smiling at Kelley. "Servando and I broke up Saturday, or Friday night, depending on the perspective."
"That why he was posting about hoes and backstabbing bitches?" Kelley asked and Alex nodded, chuckling a bit. "Nice shiner you gave him."
"He deserved it, going on about all sorts of stupid shit," Alex said and Kelley was curious. "Most of it was about you though. He said you were a bad influence and some other things that sounded familiar. That's when I told him to fuck off and he said it was you or him. That decision was pretty easy honestly. I realized that whatever he had said to you had hurt you really badly and there was no reason I could figure out for him to do that to you. I hang out with a bunch of people and he's never done that before. Besides, you make me a lot happier than he does."
"You guys were in love though," Kelley said and Alex shrugged.
"We had been until he took my virginity and then expected something every single time we hung out." Alex huffed and Kelley felt the urge to punch Servando. "I think I'm done with teenage boys."
"Erin told me that the boys in college are just the same," Kelley said and Alex smirked at her.
"Who said my next step involved boys?" Alex asked and Kelley's jaw dropped as she connected the dots. "You act like you're surprised Kel."
"You never, really, uh, mentioned liking girls before." Kelley was shocked and her tone showed whatever of it she tried hiding physically. "Anybody particular in mind?"
"Not yet, but I want to do this right. I don't want somebody who's gonna fuck around and break my heart. I'm not looking for a rebound Kel, I want somebody willing to try for something real. You've got yourself a pretty long list of girls, set me up?" Alex asked and Kelley felt her heart break a little bit. She wanted to be with Alex, but Kelley was one for fucking around and rebounds. Emily had been the last relationship she had really given an effort in and she ended up breaking the young blonde's heart because she didn't know how to talk about her problems.
"Hey, any help you need, at all, I'm your girl." Kelley stood up and grabbed her backpack. "I'm gonna, uh, go to class. Tobin and Christen should be there. I'll see you in a bit."
"Yeah, in a bit." Alex sounded distant and didn't look at Kelley as she left, instead just sitting at the table as the rest of the soccer team piled in. Kelley rushed to Abby's classroom and frowned when she tried the door, only for it to be locked. She jiggled the handle a bit more before giving up and going to find somebody else to talk to. There weren't a lot of teachers that she could talk to that she knew wouldn't rat on her, but she knew she had a special place in Hope Solo's heart, so that would be her starting point. If Kelley brought anything up Hope couldn't help her with Hope would, with Kelley's consent, bring in either Carli or Abby. Carli's advice was almost never what Kelley wanted to hear in a scenario, but it was always needed. Abby's advice was more or less something that people needed to listen to when they needed to let go of something, but couldn't. Either way, Hope was the only person that Kelley could even think to talk to at this point.
"Carli, it's no big deal," Abby said, shoving her hands in her pocket. Kelley could hear the coaches talking as she got closer to Hope's office. Kelley could smell the distinct scent of the fairly expensive coffee that Hope would order in from Seattle. Kelley took a moment to enjoy how the coffee filled up about half of the gym, taking away from the normal scent of teenage boys. Whenever one of the boys' teams decided to have morning practice in the gym, Hope would have to deal with that smell in the gym all day. It didn't help that the gym was full of gross sweaty kids all day.
"Yeah, it is a big deal. I don't know why the hell none of you can take anything seriously!" Carli yelled and Kelley jumped. Everything went silent for a moment and Kelley wanted to run, but she knew that she would make more noise and draw them out. So, she manned up and knocked on the door, waiting patiently for somebody to get it. Kelley was met with a fairly warm reception from Hope. Without a word, Kelley lunged forward and hugged Hope tightly. She wasn't sure why she did it, the urge to be close to somebody hitting her full force as she finally let herself think for a moment.
"You okay kid?" Hope asked, moving both Kelley and herself into her office. Hope closed the door and Kelley let go and sat down in Hope's chair. "Not that I don't appreciate you coming to see me, but why are you here?"
"I need some good, old fashion Hope Solo advice," Kelley said and Hope nodded. "And well, you're the only Hope Solo I know."
"Taking advice from that one, must be a real crisis," Abby said and Kelley raised an eyebrow at her. "What?"
"Hope gives me all of my good advice," Kelley said, crossing her arms over her chest. Abby seemed surprised at that news, Hope hadn't really made the right decisions in the time that Abby had known her, but maybe that was what made her advice better for Kelley. "Are they trustworthy to hear this?"
"Should be," Hope said and Kelley moved the chair closer to the desk so she could lean forward. "What am I working with this time KO?"
"Feelings," Kelley said and Hope nodded slowly. Her tone left a lot open, but Hope knew that Kelley would clear the air about that soon enough. "So, I went to talk to HAO this morning because Alex was worried about me Saturday and I promised to talk to her. Well, I went and did that, she told me to talk to a therapist and see if maybe I needed to be medicated or anything. It would make sense, but I don't really have insurance through my parents anymore, so I'll need help with that. Anyways, I'm on slightly more pressing matters, girls."
"Okay, going to Hope about girls is the biggest damn mistake you could ever make," Abby said and Kelley sent her a glare. Hope seemed impressed by the senior's glaring abilities, but refocused on Kelley and waited for her to continue. "Seriously, she's the only single person here. Relationships and her are a terrible mix."
"I'm not single you dipshit," Hope said and Abby shut up quickly. "Continue."
"I really like this girl, wait no, I'm in love with her. I have been for a long time, somewhere along the line the love shifted though. Well, she recently broke up with this guy and totally said that she thinking of dating a girl. Well, she described what she didn't want, and that was me. Then she asked me to set her up on a date," Kelley said and Hope glanced at Carli and Abby. Her gaze lingered a bit longer on Carli than Abby, but she knew exactly what needed to be said about this.
"Whatever she described wasn't you, it was who you've been pretending to be to protect yourself. Kelley, I've known you since you were a freshman, you're sweet, caring, and confident, but you've let yourself wander down a path that you started to protect your feelings. I bet somebody hurt you, either knowingly or unknowingly, and you just wanted to make sure it didn't happen again. I think what you need is to take some time to figure yourself out and once you do that, you'll know how to get your girl," Hope said and Kelley lunged forward to hug Hope again.
"Thanks Solo," Kelley said before standing up. "She's a good one Carli, keep her happy."
"How the hell did you figure that out?" Carli asked and Hope glanced down.
"Hope's not the only one who's surprisingly good at advice," Kelley said before running off. Once the door was shut again, Abby turned to her two closest friends and former roommates.
"How long have the two of you been..." Abby trailed off, wondering if this had been going on behind her back.
"Only about eight months," Hope said and Carli cleared her throat. "13 if you're counting from when we started messing around."
"You're telling me that the two of you idiots were sleeping together behind my back while I was living with you for 6 months?" Abby asked and Hope nodded. "I'm sorry, but that's impossible. That's a secret that Carli could definitely keep from me, but you of all people are not that sneaky."
"Except, I, uh, am." Hope tilted her head a bit and smirked at Abby. "Also, I can almost anything with a good enough incentive."
"Abby, come on, we've got to get to our own classes," Carli said, pulling Abby out of the room. Hope quickly pecked Carli on the lips before she left and then went out to the gym as her class began to fill up.
"What are you drawing?" Tobin asked Christen as they sat in the parking lot. Normally, they would have gone to each lunch with their friends, but Tobin wanted a bit of privacy with Christen. Technically, Tobin had come out to have a cigarette, but then Christen found her and Tobin decided to make the best of it. Christen didn't reply, too engrossed in her sketching, so Tobin did something to catch her attention. She pulled the cigarette she had planned to smoke out here out of her pocket and put it between her lips. She brought her lighter up to her mouth and was surprised whenever Christen's hand smacked it to the ground. "Ow! Tell me what you're drawing now that you're paying attention to me."
"I was paying attention before, but it's hard to draw and talk sometimes," Christen said and Tobin picked the lighter up as she put the cigarette back in her pocket. Tobin looked over Christen's shoulder and smiled at the sketch of the buildings off in the distance. "You know, if you wanted my attention, you could have just said something."
"Oh, my bad." Tobin pulled an energy drink from out of her backpack and opened it. She wanted to ignore the disapproving noise that came out of Christen's mouth because Tobin knew that she had bad habits, but of course, she had to indulge the woman sitting beside her. "Something wrong?"
"Tobin, I'm honestly starting to think you wouldn't have made it past 30 if not for me being here," Christen said and Tobin shrugged. "Do you know what's in that?"
"Energy," Tobin said and Christen shook her head.
"We're gonna pretend you didn't say that. Let's go over something really quick so you get it, cigarettes are bad for you, vaping is bad for you, alcohol is bad for you, this drink in your hand is bad for you. I'm trying to make sure that you're here for a long time," Christen said and Tobin huffed. "Seriously, you're my friend and I care about you. I get that we might not be going in the same direction when we get out of here, but I don't want to wake up one morning to the news that you're dead."
"Christen, let me set something straight for you. We're different, like, really different. I'm probably going to stay in the city and live out the rest of my days doing whatever the hell I want, whether it's good for me or not. You, on the other hand, you're gonna go out and do amazing things. When I was little and all I really did was play soccer and try so hard to please my parents, they told me that I was gonna go far, but I know now, after meeting you, that it's you who's gonna go far," Tobin said, standing up. "I don't see why you're trying to change me because at the end of the day, we both know that it won't stick forever."
"Try, for me?" Christen asked and Tobin sighed, nodding. "Thank you."
"But if I do this, you gotta let loose a little. You gotta live a little, break some rules, do something crazy and spontaneous," Tobin said and Christen looked contemplative. Without warning, she practically tackled Tobin and connected their lips in a soft kiss. Despite the fact that Christen didn't really know how to kiss, she went with her gut and let Tobin lead it from there. Tobin did for a moment before she pulled away, slightly breathless.
"Spontaneous enough for you?" Christen asked with a small chuckle.
"Definitely, but I really like you and I have a tendency to not take things slowly. Actually, they don't get a chance to go slow, but the last time I was really in a relationship, things were rushed and it ended badly. I know that I just said to live and do what you want, but with this, I think I might actually wanna try to be careful," Tobin said and Christen nodded. Tobin smiled at her and kissed Christen's cheek before getting up. "Bell's about to ring and I don't wanna be late. Lloyd can be a pain in the ass about that kind of stuff."
"I'll walk you to class," Christen said and Tobin smiled. She helped Christen up and let the taller girl walk her to class. They didn't hold hands in the hallway, but walked close to each other, which didn't raise any suspicions. Tobin had yet to tell any of their friends and she would talk to Christen about doing so before they did. Although, she was hoping that Christen would come to her about it, talking had never necessarily been Tobin's strong suit. She was more a woman of actions than words if she was being completely honest. "Alright, I'll see you in gym?"
"Totally," Tobin said, giving Christen what could only be described as the "fuckboy nod" before going into Abby's classroom. She took her normal seat by herself towards the back, but was pretty surprised whenever two people plopped down at her sides. She looked up to see Allie Long and Lauren Cheney sitting by her, both of them just sort of staring at her. "Can I help you?"
"Christen Press walked you to class," Allie said and Tobin nodded. "When did you two start hanging out?"
"A couple weeks ago, we're friends Allie," Tobin said and Allie narrowed her eyes at Tobin. "Seriously, nothing is happening between us."
"That's a lie Tobin, Amy totally saw her kiss you in the parking lot," Lauren said and Tobin paled. "We won't say anything, but if you're in the habit of making unlikely friends, I'd like to think I'm on that list."
"Cheney, I never considered you anything other than my friend, even if we weren't super close," Tobin said honestly and Lauren hugged her. "But why was Amy in the parking lot?"
"Yeah Lauren, why was Amy in the parking lot?" Allie asked, knowing something that Tobin didn't. "I mean, nobody goes out to the parking lot unless they're smoking or, apparently, making out."
"Maybe she was getting something in her car," Lauren said and Allie's eyes widened a bit. They stayed by Tobin all class period and Tobin had never been happier than there wasn't a lecture before because Lauren and Allie were being insanely distracting the entire class period. If it wasn't a back and forth between the two midfielders, it was one, or both, trying to get something out of Tobin about Christen. Lauren left a few minutes before the bell to get some things from her locker before she left school. Allie stayed in the classroom, having her final period of the day in Abby's room anyways. Tobin caught up with Amy, who was walking and talking with Christen about something.
"Hey you," Christen said with a dorky smile. "What's up?"
"I thought maybe you'd like the company on the way to gym. I know how the walk can be boring," Tobin said, referring to the last time that Christen had walked with Amy instead of her. It had taken Tobin a couple moments longer than usual to gather her things on Friday, and Christen hadn't waited a second for Tobin outside of the main building. It had stung a little, but Tobin understood Christen's impulse to get where she needed to be quickly, knowing how dangerous lingering alone in the hallways could be for her.
"I apologized for that," Christen said and Tobin sighed. Amy seemed a bit uncomfortable around Tobin and that stung. "How about I give you a ride home to make up for it?"
"If you don't have any other pressing matters to attend to," Tobin said, leaning into Christen a bit. Christen liked this flirty Tobin, she was sure that once they got further into their relationship, she would get to see more sides of Tobin. Christen gave her a shy smile and Amy just ignored them and walked on. "Still not my biggest fan I guess."
"Or she's going to meet somebody," Christen said, nodding towards where Lauren was standing outside of the gym. Had Christen not pointed it out, Tobin never would have noticed Lauren. "Every single day they do this. I'm a little surprised nobody else has caught on."
"Are they together?" Tobin asked and Christen shrugged, tugging Tobin inside. Tobin was careful to keep her back turned to Christen as both of them changed. Normally Tobin wouldn't have cared, but she thought it was the gentlemanly thing to do. Tobin turned around to put her shoes on and her jaw dropped at the sight in front of her. Christen's shirt was halfway over her head and despite the fact that she had seen Christen's abs before, she was still fazed by them. Tobin's head dropped down to stare at her shoelaces, which she was having trouble tying, her mind still muddled.
"Need some help?" Christen asked, bending down in front of Tobin. She tied Tobin's shoes for her and then leaned forward and gave Tobin a quick peck on the lips. Tobin panicked for a moment, afraid that maybe somebody else was in the locker room to see them. "It's fine, everybody else is out there. Amy's the only person who isn't out there and dressed, she wouldn't tell anybody."
"Yeah, but she'd kick my ass," Tobin said with a light chuckle. Christen rolled her eyes at Tobin, but smiled at her anyways. "So, what are you doing after you drop me off at my place tonight?"
"I've got a test tomorrow, so I'm going to the library to study," Christen answered. Tobin awkwardly ran a hand through her hair and licked her lips. "I'll probably be there for a couple of hours, but when I'm done I'll call you."
"Okay, you don't have to unless you want to though," Tobin said and Christen shrugged. They walked out together and then started on their warm-up.
"Heath, over here!" Hope yelled and Tobin slowed down and jogged over to her coach. "You still looking for work?"
"Yeah, I am," Tobin said and Hope nodded. "Why?"
"Well, if you're not too busy in the spring, you could sign up to help coach and ref the youth league games. I know that you're not gonna come back to the team and that does suck, but I think you'd be good with this. There will be other girls from the team and I'll make sure to keep you and A-Rod away from each other," Hope said that did sound good, but she wasn't the type that really should be hanging around children. They were impressionable and despite the fact that the school was in the city, there were a lot of kids that played on those teams with less than open minded parents. "I also have another little project that you could help with. There's a property not too far out of town that I came into recently and I need some people to help with maintenance. I know you're a hard worker and Kelley might have mentioned that you don't do a lot after school."
"Um..." Tobin wasn't sure whether or not she should take the job. Tobin loved being outside and she did want to have a bit on income aside from what her parents were paying, but she wasn't all that sure if this was her best option.
"I have to be at practice tonight, but when that's over, I can take you to see the property and what needs to be done. You won't be working alone, I can promise you that much," Hope said and Tobin agreed. "Thanks, I owe you one."
"You're giving me a job, I think we can call it even. Besides, you've gotten me out of trouble more times than I'll probably ever know," Tobin said and Hope shrugged it off. It was true, Hope had a nice network of strings that she could pull to keep all of her players out of trouble. There had been a lot of things that Tobin should have been in serious trouble for over the past couple of years that had miraculously been dropped.
"Where the hell are you going?" Carli asked Hope as walked out of their bedroom.
"Out," Hope answered shortly. Carli crossed her arms over her chest and Hope sighed, turning around to kiss her. "You have absolutely nothing to worry about, I promise."
"Fine, but be back soon please. I would love to spend some time with you, just hanging out," Carli said and Hope nodded. Carli handed Hope her keys and a jacket, even though it was like Hell during the day, the nights had begun to get drastically colder. Hope set the jacket in the passenger's seat of her car as she began to drive towards where Tobin lived. She didn't have to sit outside long as almost as soon as she pulled up, Tobin walked out of her house. Hope moved her jacket and turned the music down a bit as Tobin got into the vehicle.
"I'm not sure whether I'm surprised about the truck or surprised how fitting it is," Tobin said with a small chuckle. Hope pulled out and began to drive them out of town. "So, what exactly would your job offer entail?"
"Nice word kid," Hope said, relaxing a bit. "Right now, it's just clearing brush and getting the area cleaned up. You can either focus on the fenced off areas or what's around the house. Hopefully, I can manage to get what's around the house cleared up before my lease is up with Carli."
"You will, I'll help and I bet that I can get Kelley and Ashlyn to help at the very least as well," Tobin said and Hope hadn't thought of bringing them in. Ashlyn and Kelley were also hard workers, but Ashlyn was much more delicate than she would ever let on and Kelley was easily distracted, so she wasn't 100% that was a good mix. "Carli would help you."
"It'd ruin the surprise," Hope said and Tobin raised an eyebrow with intrigue. "Glove compartment, there's a ring. Carli never comes into the truck, so it's a good hiding spot. I'm going to have the house ready to present to her and then I'm gonna propose."
"Whoa, dude, that's a big step," Tobin said and Hope nodded. "You guys aren't gonna go running off right?"
"No way, we're happy enough here. Besides, this school's soccer program would probably go to shit if we ran off before our replacements could get everything handled." Tobin didn't like the way she had worded it. That sounded to her like they had plans to leave, but wouldn't until they had the soccer stuff in order for the next coaches. There were already rumors that Abby was going to be leaving to go be with a girl in New York. Tobin remembered whenever the rumors, which Abby hadn't confirmed or denied yet, had first come up. Everybody had been upset by the idea of her leaving, but Alex had been downright distraught. Abby had a much stronger bond with Alex than she had with a lot of the other students.
"I've never been out here before," Tobin said, looking at her surroundings through a window. This was technically on the way to Alex's, but Hope had turned down a road that Tobin hadn't noticed was even there. It was absolutely beautiful, Tobin would want to get a picture of this to paint later. She felt like Christen would like to see a painting of this. Maybe if Tobin managed to keep herself in check long enough for them to make it to a month, the painting would be a present. Tobin had faith in Christen being able to make this work, but Tobin's longest relationship had been less than 3 weeks, so it was herself who she didn't trust to make things last.
"So, you've been hanging out with Christen a lot," Hope said and Tobin nodded. "Did you know that the parking lot is in view from my office?"
"Shit," Tobin said and Hope shook her head. "You aren't gonna tell anybody are you?"
"No, trust me, I'm keeping a lot of secrets for a lot of people. You seem happy around her and you haven't been in trouble since the two of you started hanging out. She's a good influence on you. Who knows, maybe good enough for Carli to get you back in her midfield again before the spring season starts up."
"Yeah, I don't really think so," Tobin said and Hope sighed. "But since you know, do you think I could ask you something?"
"Shoot," Hope said, turning down a much narrower road, more like a trail.
"I'm kind of scared of fucking up with Christen. I mean, I've never been in a relationship that was longer than 3 weeks and I really messed that one up. I mean, yeah, I'm 18 and being in a serious relationship doesn't have to be something I am doing right now, but I want things with Christen to last. I like having her around and I like that doesn't let any preconceived notions dictate how she acts around me," Tobin said with a heavy sigh.
"Take things one day at a time. Trust me, I've been in your shoes before. Actually, it wasn't all that long ago if I'm being completely honest. All of this is for Carli and I'm not even completely sure that we'll make it to the point where I can give her this. Relationships are scary, but if you take them day by day, it takes a bit of the fear away," Hope said as she stopped the car. During the tour, Tobin let Hope's words roll around in her head and sink in. Hope's words were surprisingly wise, more like something that Tobin would have expected from Carli, but Tobin was glad that she was able to get helpful input on her concern from somebody, even if it was an unlikely source.
Warning that this chapter could be pretty triggering. Oh, and there's been a time jump of about a week and a half or two.
"Hey there Pressy." Christen stopped as she heard Servando's voice behind her. She slowly turned around and sighed in relief when she saw that he was alone. "What happened to your so called, friends? I knew they'd leave you. Tobin Heath wouldn't hang out with somebody like you without some sort of agenda behind it. You've got to be smart enough to know that."
"Shut up Servando," Christen said, stepping towards him. He seemed surprised, and amused, that she was being so brave with him. She would never have done that if the other guys had cornered her. It wasn't necessarily bravery in his eyes, but rather a showing of her lack of respect for him. If Christen hung out with Tobin, she probably had hung around Kelley and Alex, who no doubt didn't respect him. He clenched his fist in anger before getting an idea. He'd give them a reason to respect him and then maybe Alex would see the kind of man he is and come back to him. He moved towards her and grabbed her arm roughly before dragging her away from where the cameras were. "What the hell are you doing? Let go of me!"
"Shut up and I promise it won't hurt you as much," Servando whispered in her ear and Christen was now terrified for her life. He pushed her against the wall and she squeezed her eyes shut, hoping whatever he had planned would be over soon. She let out a yelp whenever his fists pounded down on her midsection. He continued his onslaught before backing away, waiting for Christen to open her eyes again. "Now, I'd hate to hurt a pretty face, but I think that's what will make this really stand out. I'll be doing something Rob never did."
"Please just stop." Christen's voice was shaky and scared. It didn't phase him as he hit her a couple more times before just leaving her there. Christen wasn't sure what to do, Tobin was home sick, the soccer team was at an all-day tournament, Ashlyn had went to spend the day with her grandmother and brother, and Kelley was staying home with Tobin. Christen sighed, wishing that she knew somebody else's number, and pulled herself onto her feet. She hobbled back to the parking lot and noticed that Servando's car was gone. She went back to her own car and got inside. She rolled down the windows a bit so she didn't burn and started crying. She wasn't sure how long she'd been out there when she heard somebody tap on the window. "Shit."
"Christen, right?" Christen nodded at the girl's question. "I'm Hilary. Can I ask what happened?"
"Run in with an asshole this morning," Christen said, getting out of the car. She went to close the door and fell against it, almost onto the pavement had Hilary not caught her. "Thanks."
"No problem, but you should really get to the nurse," Hilary said and Christen couldn't argue with that. Without warning, Hilary picked Christen up and carried her bridal style.
"You don't have to carry me," Christen said and Hilary shrugged. "Thank you though."
"Yeah, you shouldn't be walking. Who did this to you?" Hilary asked and Christen wondered whether or not it'd be a good idea to tell. She knew that it was, but Tobin would probably find out and do something that she really shouldn't have. "Come on, if you don't tell they'll just do it again."
"He'll do it again anyways," Christen said, knowing that was probably true.
"Nope and if you don't tell us, a lot of us know the guys that normally bully you, so we can do the questioning ourselves," Hilary said and Christen sighed. The other guys were dicks, but at least they had never taken it as far as Servando had today. Christen was angry with them, but she didn't think that they deserved having whoever Tobin had rustled up as a protection squad being sent after them all.
"Servando," Christen said quietly. There were still tears wanting to spill out, but she stayed strong. "He did it this morning, but I don't know why. The guys he hangs out with are assholes and they've targeted me for years, but never that bad. It had been more pushing me around and calling me names, not beating me up behind the gym."
"We'll give him a taste of his own medicine," Hilary said, opening up the front doors. She carried Christen all the way to the nurse's office and waited outside of the door. Her teammates that had come in early with her to use the weights in the gym joined her outside of where she was waiting. "It's Servando. Kelley mentioned he was an ass to Alex, but I didn't think he would go that far."
"What did he even do?" Zoe Hickel asked and Hilary glanced at the door. Hilary told all of them what she had been told by Christen and then how she had found the girl crying in her car. "We're kicking his ass."
"I agree that we should, but is fighting violence with violence the best option here?" Amanda Kessel asked and both Zoe and Hilary nodded. "Okay, I agree with getting back at him, but maybe we can do it in a different way. A way that won't get people suspended or possibly expelled."
"What do you have in mind?" Hilary asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Make sure that everybody knows that he's a monster for hurting Christen like that. Nobody would allow him close enough to Christen to hurt her again and I bet we could make him really paranoid," Amanda said and Hilary nodded.
"That's probably smarter than my idea," Hilary said and Amanda smiled at her. "I'm gonna head to get some breakfast. You wanna come with?"
"I'll stay and wait for Christen. You guys go ahead," Amanda said and Hilary nodded. She walked with the rest of her teammates, minus Amanda, to the cafeteria.
"We're not going with Amanda's plan," Hilary said and Zoe raised an eyebrow at her. Hilary was somebody who took action, yes, but she also listened to Amanda. This was unlike her to go behind Amanda's back on something, especially if it could risk them playing.
"What exactly did you have in mind?" Brianna Decker asked and Hilary got this devious look on her fact that was unfamiliar to all of them. "Let me rephrase that, is your plan going to get us kicked off the team?"
"Not if we're sneaky about it. Christen said that he used to push her around, well, I say that we push back for her. Nothing too serious, unnoticeable to everybody who isn't in on it. He's not getting away with his shit anymore. I think we could probably figure out his friends and give them a little push or two too," Hilary said and they all agreed, as long as it didn't go too far.
"Hey, sorry for bothering you, but I wanted to see how you were," Christen said nervously through the phone. Tobin smiled at the sound of her voice. She had missed their date Friday night because she'd gotten sick and it hadn't let up throughout the weekend. Christen had been forbidden from entering the house by Ashlyn, Kelley, Alex, and Tobin. Ashlyn, Kelley, and Alex didn't Christen to get sick and Tobin didn't want Christen seeing her so fragile and vulnerable.
"It's fine. I'm happy to get to hear a voice that's not Kelley's," Tobin said with a chuckle. "How's everything at school been?"
"It's been okay I guess. Something did kind of happen today though," Christen said and Tobin sat up. "I had a bit of a run-in with Servando."
"Are you okay?" Tobin's voice was full of concern.
"I'm fine, seriously. Have you gotten any better?"
"I haven't thrown up since the morning and Kelley said my fever broke finally."
"Good, hopefully you'll be cleared by the end of the week."
"If I feel up to it tomorrow, I'll probably be at school."
"Take the extra day off, no use in you coming back before you're ready. I'll talk to you tomorrow, bye Tobin."
"Later Press," Tobin said before hanging up. Once she had set her phone down, Kelley ran in and hopped on the other side of Tobin's bed. "What are you doing Kel?"
"Can you manage yourself for like 2 hours maybe?" Kelley asked and Tobin nodded. "Great, because when the bus gets back with the soccer team, I'm meeting Emily for coffee."
"Emily with the best friend who wants to kick your head off for breaking her heart?" Tobin asked and Kelley gave her a confirmational nod. "If you're going out, check on Christen, she mentioned something about Servando earlier."
"About that..." Kelley trailed off, hands behind her back. Tobin sat up a bit, knowing that Kelley was hiding something. "I may or may not know all about that."
"Which means you're telling me right?" Tobin asked and Kelley shook her head. "I'll find out eventually. Who are you trying to protect here?"
"You, from doing something to get yourself arrested. You can't protect Christen from behind bars Tobs," Kelley said and Tobin sighed. "Hilary is rounding up people to make sure that he stays away from Christen. I'm also pretty sure that Dom is on his way with Zach to confront Servando about what happened this morning."
"How bad?" Kelley asked and Tobin showed her the texts from Hilary describing it.
"I can't believe we let Alex date him for so long," Tobin said and Kelley looked down, feeling ashamed. "I'm kicking his ass."
"No, be smart about this. Christen needs you by her side as her friend, not going around punching people and getting in trouble. Stay with her and let the rest of us deal with the assholes like him," Kelley said and Tobin reluctantly agreed to refrain from fighting anymore.
"Sonny, it's a bad idea," Lindsey said, following her friend to her car. "You know it's a bad idea. She's a bad idea."
"Lindsey, it's not like I'm going on a date with her. I'm going for coffee and to hear her out," Emily said and Lindsey frowned. She knew all about how charming Kelley O'Hara was. It made the freckled senior a very dangerous woman in Lindsey's eyes. Sure, Kelley was outgoing and fun, but at the same time, she'd break a heart without thinking twice. After all, she had broken two hearts when she randomly dumped Emily. Lindsey had been at Emily's side after the breakup, making sure that she didn't do anything stupid or get herself hurt because she was sad. "Jesus, why the hell do you care so much about this anyways?"
"Because you're my best friend. I don't want to see you get hurt again like you were. You're just now getting over her and she chooses now to explain herself to you, it can't be a coincidence." Lindsey threw her hands in the air and then turned around, her back to Emily. "But fine, go on your not-date. I'll just have Moe or JJ drive me home."
"Linds," Emily said softly, but her friend had already run off. Emily sighed and adjusted her backpack as she walked to her car. The drive to pick up Kelley had been a contemplative one. Emily had a lot to think about, but not enough time to get everything sorted out in her head. She did want to get back together with Kelley, that had been the most fun she had ever had in a relationship, but she knew that getting back with Kelley wouldn't end well. A part of her wanted to try a casual relationship with the older girl, but knew that she wouldn't be able to keep her feelings out of it. As Emily pulled into Kelley's driveway, she stopped thinking and let herself just do what came naturally around the older girl. "Hi."
"Hey," Kelley said, buckling up. The drive to the cafe was near-silent, the radio and Emily's humming the only noise. Kelley seemed to be thinking a lot as well, but something told Emily that Kelley's problems weren't like Emily's. Kelley didn't have to worry about falling for somebody who had already broken her heart because Kelley had, Emily thought at least, never had her heart broken. Not in the same way that Emily had at least, but then again, Emily realized there wasn't a lot that Emily really knew about Kelley. It was hard to have a legitimate conversation about anything with somebody else's tongue in your mouth. When they got to the coffee shop, Kelley offered to pay for everything, ordering them two iced coffees and some cookies to share. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me."
"Everybody deserves to be listened to, even if they were a colossal asshole to you," Emily said and Kelley looked down, ashamed. "Kelley, you've had almost four months to apologize or talk to me about this."
"Yeah, I know, but it doesn't make it any easier for me," Kelley said and there was a familiar look of rage in Emily's eyes. Kelley had noticed it hidden behind the sadness when they had first seen each other after Kelley's voicemail about breaking up. Although, this time, the rage was different, this time it was directly pointed at Kelley. "I thought that my entire family had just given up on me, so I gave up too. I let myself get consumed by any distraction I could find, so I started partying. Parties weren't really as fun without a hookup and everybody knew that we were together, so I guess that in my head, at the time, it made sense to break up with you so I didn't have to think about how I was essentially alone."
"You weren't alone though, you could have had so many people to be there for you, but you fucking blew it," Emily said, her tone very hostile. "God, I don't know how the hell I ever thought I was in love with you. It was fucking stupid, I was fucking stupid."
"Yeah because how the fuck could anybody love me?" Kelley asked and Emily stopped. She recognized that defeated tone, it had been hers for almost three months after their breakup. Emily's demeanor softened and she reached out to Kelley. "I don't want friends who pity me."
"You aren't over the breakup," Emily said and Kelley scoffed.
"There wasn't anything for me to be over." Kelley got defensive and when she was defensive, she hurt people. "You were little more than a fling to me. You want somebody to chase you around and tell you anything to make you feel better, go to Lindsey. We both know the real reason she doesn't like me, I had you in the palm of my fucking hand. She'd probably kill to be in yours."
"Leave Lindsey out of this," Emily said, her voice dangerously low. Kelley just smirked and leaned back in her seat. "You know, when you're hurt, you attack people. You try to make them feel like you do. That's no way to live."
"Well I'm doing just fine," Kelley said with a smirk. Emily got up and walked away, tears threatening to fall, but she didn't let them. She got into her car and drove straight to Lindsey's not bothering to call her friend before. She knocked on the front door, hoping that Lindsey had made it home already, and then waited. She waited for nearly 15 minutes before knocking again and again. Eventually, the door opened and Emily's jaw nearly dropped at the sight of Lindsey. She was wearing a pair of spandex shorts and a sports bra, tank top in hand and hair dripping wet.
"Hey, what happened?" Lindsey asked and Emily just broke down and cried. "What did she do?"
"It was what she said," Emily said and Lindsey brought her inside.
"Alright, well, tell me." Lindsey's tone was firm. They sat on the couch, Emily grateful that Lindsey's mother wasn't home because she doubted that she'd approve of the things that Emily had done with and for Kelley. "I want to know everything she said."
"She explained why, I got mad at her, told her I don't know how I loved her, she got really sad, I tried to comfort her, she said something about you, I snapped at her, and she said some really hurtful shit," Emily said and Lindsey pulled her best friend into a tight hug. "She does this thing when somebody hits a nerve with her emotionally where she decides that the best defense is a good offense. God, she make me so angry and the shit she said about you."
"Hey, it's fine, don't ruin a potential friendship over me. I can defend myself just fine," Lindsey said and Emily rested her head on Lindsey's shoulder. "Thank you though, it means a lot to know that you're running around trying to be my knight in shining armor."
"Always because I know you do the same for me," Emily said and Lindsey thought back to when she almost fought Kelley over the summer.
Ali laid next to Ashlyn, both of them slightly sweaty and panting. Ali knew that they couldn't continue doing this, but she missed getting to be close to Ashlyn. Their breakup was a difficult one, even if they were staying friends and continuing to be there for each other. Ali knew that Ashlyn had seen a couple of other girls and been on a few dates since they split a few weeks ago, but it was still rough. Ali managed to get two dates, one with a junior who had been insanely sweet and reminded Ali of how Ashlyn had been on their first date and a guy from the local college. That date had more of a Tinder hookup than anything else. As much as Ashlyn could act like a frat boy, Ali's type was not literal frat boys, as she'd learned about 45 minutes into their date.
"I should get going," Ashlyn said, moving to leave. Ali's hand shot out and grabbed Ashlyn's wrist, keeping her there. "Ali, we're not together anymore, me staying here after us doing that shouldn't happen."
"Us doing that shouldn't have happened," Ali said and Ashlyn sighed. "Please, I promise nobody will know that you're doing this. I wouldn't want to hurt your new reputation."
"New reputation?" Ashlyn asked, intrigued by whatever Ali meant by that statement.
"Yeah, I mean, you're not Ashlyn, Ali's pothead girlfriend anymore. You're Ashlyn, the fuckboy extraordinaire," Ali said with a dry chuckle. Ashlyn could tell that Ali wasn't a fan of what people were saying about Ashlyn. The slightly younger teen wouldn't deny anything, it was all good publicity, even if it did make her look a bit like an asshole to some people. She'd been hooking up with girls at parties and Ali was certain that she'd seen Ashlyn and Alex getting a bit cuddly a few times. "But do whatever you want I guess. Kelley's stuck on Tobin watch, so Alex is free."
"You're jealous," Ashlyn scoffed and Ali rolled her eyes. "Seriously, you're not jealous that I'm getting laid. You're jealous that I'm fucking girls that aren't you."
"Whatever asshole," Ali said, moving to put her clothes back on. Ashlyn climbed onto the bed again and pulled Ali towards her. She was hovering over her ex, their faces dangerously close. Ashlyn was challenging Ali to go forward and take what she wanted. Ali was smart enough to know this, but desperate enough to take Ashlyn's bait. She pushed forward and connected their lips in a passionate kiss. The longer they kissed, the less passion it became and the angrier it got. Ashlyn didn't mind though, she knew that Ali needed a way to take out her frustrations and the love bites go with this new reputation that Ali had been going on about. Ashlyn thought it was a bit ridiculous, Ali had been her friend for years before they had started dating, they had their time together and both agreed to just be friends. Ali didn't get to keep Ashlyn all to herself anymore, especially not whenever Ashlyn was getting more and more attention.
"Stop," Ashlyn said, pulling back as her phone vibrated on the table. She got up to check it and sighed when it ended up being nothing. She went back to kiss Ali, but the brunette moved out of her reach. "What?"
"You were so going to leave me for somebody else," Ali said, sitting up. Ashlyn wanted to deny it, but Ali knew her well enough to know when she was lying, so it was no use. Ashlyn sat up and looked at Ali, her eyes softer than normal. There had been something in Ali's voice that Ashlyn had never heard before. It was like she had made the saddest realization she would in her entire life. "I don't mean anything to you anymore."
"No, you're my best friend," Ashlyn said and Ali pulled her knees up to her chest and hid her face behind them. Ashlyn reached her arm out to drape across Ali's shoulders, surprised when her friend didn't move away. "I'm sorry if I've been an asshole to you lately. I spent the past almost four years in a relationship, I guess I'm still not 100% on all this attention I'm getting."
"You say that like you weren't my main priority for so long," Ali said and Ashlyn gave her a look. "Sure it was so much easier to prioritize you whenever we were playing soccer, but after that, yes, you did have to take the backseat on a couple of things, but I always tried to make it up to you. There wasn't a fucking day that went by when I didn't make a fucking effort to spend time with you or talk to you. Towards the end, it wasn't me who was ignoring texts and calls while getting high and drinking my friends."
"Maybe I wouldn't have to if you'd given me more than a call or a text every few hours. I missed seeing you and holding you, but you were off doing a million things instead," Ashlyn complained and Ali took a deep breath. She needed to calm down before she started yelling and woke up Kyle and her parents. "I was your priority when it was convenient."
Ali stayed quiet for a few moments, letting Ash's words sink in. Yes, she had been distracted and Ashlyn hadn't been at the forefront of her mind, but she had a life outside of her relationship that she had let go a bit. Although, Ali had sort of done everything then for Ashlyn in a way. There wasn't a doubt in Ali's mind that Ashlyn had been the one she would marry then, but now she wasn't nearly as certain about that. Ali's acceptance letter to Penn State had come two and a half weeks before they broke up and Ali wanted to tell Ashlyn so badly that she'd been accepted to college, but couldn't. She didn't know how to tell her that she'd be going so far away while Ashlyn had, multiple times, hinted that she wasn't ready to leave Florida or her grandmother yet. Of course Ali had told Ashlyn's grandmother and the two had been working to figure out a way to get Ashlyn in a place where she would be willing to maybe move a little close to where Ali was headed.
"I'm going to Penn State," Ali said, turning to Ashlyn. Her voice was quieter and Ashlyn didn't say anything, she just nodded. "You should tell your grandmother we aren't together before she finds you an apartment outside of Florida."
"Why would she do that?" Ashlyn asked and Ali siighed.
"Because when I got accepted, I went to her, knowing that you'd never really leave. I asked her if there was a way to get you closer to me while I was away. We talked about that a lot, but now it doesn't really matter," Ali said with a bittersweet chuckle. "Because let's face it, if we couldn't handle my preseason, there's no fucking way we could handle college."
"Maybe, I was a bit upset because I missed being a part of that," Ashlyn said and Ali raised an eyebrow at her. "I love soccer, I still do, but I haven't played in forever. There's still the spring season and I bet that Hope would help me with any gaps that need to be filled."
"You're coming back to the team?" Ali asked and Ashlyn shrugged. "Ash, don't fuck with me about this."
"I'm not, I'll go talk to Hope in the morning about winter training and get myself on track," Ashlyn said and Ali hugged her tightly. "Hey, this isn't for you Ali, it's for me."
"It's a little bit for me and you know it." Ali kissed Ashlyn's cheek and then slid off the bed to get dressed. She handed Ashlyn her boxers and a shirt to wear before climbing back into bed. That night, Ali slept better than she had in the almost month since they had broken up with each other. Ashlyn's arms were securely around her waist and sometime throughout the night, they'd switched positions, Ali holding Ashlyn. Ashlyn may have always liked to act tough and like she'd never cuddle, but Ali knew better than to buy into that. Ali knew that Ashlyn slept best when she was being held, almost like a baby.
"Why the hell did you put a morning practice for today of all days?" Hope asked Abby, who was sipping on her coffee as she watched the forwards do their drills. The forwards were doing running and shooting drills, the midfielders doing passing and possession drills with the defenders, and the goalkeepers were warming up before getting in with the forwards.
"Because it's been on the schedule since August," Abby said, setting down the cup. "I found our missing defender, and her friend."
"What?" Hope asked before Ali and Ashlyn came into view. Hope got up and jogged over to them, arms crossed over her chest as she stood in front of them. "Ali, practice started at 6, not 6:20."
"Sorry, but I had to get somebody up and ready," Ali said and Hope glanced over at Ashlyn.
"20 laps and then join the girls," Hope said and Ali started off running.
"You have a new goalkeeper," Ashlyn said and Hope raised an eyebrow at her. "I'd like to rejoin the team please."
"Alright, come with me, we'll get you training again," Hope said and Ashlyn nodded. "Oh, and you're getting extra practices whenever we can fit them in. If I don't do it, Alyssa will."
"Yes ma'am," Ashlyn said, hands behind her back. Hope took Ashlyn to the empty field with a few soccer balls and then lined them up. She walked Ashlyn through the warmups and then had her do a couple of exercises before getting into the goal. Hope shot the balls at her and Ashlyn missed the first two, but then got the third one. "Okay, I'm rusty."
"Very," Hope said and Ashlyn was a little out of breath. "You need to be quicker on your feet. We've got 10 minutes, run, I wanna see how many laps you can get in." Ashlyn did what she was told and Hope walked back to where the rest of the girls were gathered. "Alyssa, tomorrow I want you working with Harris to get her back up to speed a bit more. I'll need Long, Horan, Alex, Mal, and Syd to come shoot at her."
"I thought you wanted her up to speed, not dead," Alyssa said, glancing at her teammate who was still running. "She'll be dead by the end of the week at this rate."
"She'll be a lot of things by the end of the week and stronger is one of them," Carli assured the team. "Hope pushes everybody here and that's why we've got so many trophies and championships since she'd started. It's everybody's duty to make sure that each and every one of us are doing out best on the field. At the end of the year, we'll be losing a lot of good players, but take from them whatever skills and knowledge you can. Maybe even give them some to take with them because one day, some of you will be playing on the same pitch on the college or professional level, either with or against each other. Either way, it forms good, lasting relationships."
"Like you two?" Sam Mewis asked, pointing between Hope and Carli. "You guys played against each other at college once right?"
"Yeah, we did and I believe it was quite a win for the Huskies," Hope said proudly. "Carli is right though, it's important that we support each other now. I believe that you are all the future of women's soccer because each and every one of you trains like a professional at these practices. You'll never be able to perfect soccer, but you sure as hell can make sure that you seize your opportunities on the pitch when they come to you." The players were dismissed after Hope was done talking. Carli went to tell Ashlyn she could go, but the senior continued to run, knowing that she needed to make major improvements quickly if she was going to get anywhere near where she was playing before. Hope sat back on the bleachers and watched proudly as Ashlyn ran until she physically couldn't, moving slowly back towards Hope.
"I lost count after 50," Ashlyn said, falling onto the bleachers. It was more of a flop than a fall, ungraceful and landing with a thud and a wince.
"I'm impressed," Hope said and Ashlyn beamed at that. "Now, you just need to work on making those saves."
"I'm in good hands for that," Ashlyn said, trusting Hope and Alyssa to really help her. There would be more people willing to help once she was officially part of the team. She knew that the team was like a family, one that knew helping the other teammate was more important than making yourself look good.
"Welcome back kid." Hope patted Ashlyn on the back before standing up. She helped Ashlyn to her feet and began to walk towards the gym before calling out, "Don't be late for class Harris!"
Christen and Tobin laid on Tobin's bed, an open textbook, a study guide, and a notebook forgotten on the corner of the bed. On the other side laid Tobin and Christen, Tobin holding onto Christen as the two of them laid sleeping peacefully. They had been studying for an English test that Tobin had coming up. It was over a series of poems in the textbook that Tobin didn't understand one bit. Christen had already taken the test and was trying to make sure that Tobin would be passing it the next Monday. Had Tobin been with anybody else, she probably would have tried something with Christen, but instead she just kept herself focused on the task at hand. It had taken quite a bit of talking, but Tobin had convinced Christen to stay the night, insisting that it'd be easier Saturday for them to just hang out before they went to Ash's grandmother's for dinner.
"Shush," Alex said as she climbed up the stairs with Kelley. "Where is everybody?"
"Ashlyn's at her grandmother's spending time with Chris, Kyle and Ali went to a concert, and I bet that Christen and Tobin are fucking," Kelley said, stage whispering to Alex. Alex rolled her eyes and Kelley kicked open Tobin's bedroom door. "Oops."
"Kelley, no!" Alex staged whispered, but the freckled girl was already in the room. Alex followed her in, nearly running into Kelley. They both looked around, surprised that Tobin's room was nearly as organized as it was before their eyes fell on Tobin literally holding onto Christen above her. "That's cute."
"I'm taking a picture," Kelley said, pulling out her phone. Kelley snapped a couple of pictures before going back to her own room, Alex following her. Since Kelley's talk with Emily, she'd been thinking a lot. Lashing out on Emily had made her feel bad, but the way that the sophomore avoided Kelley made her feel even worse. Lindsey had threatened to beat her up a few times and Kelley had honestly been tempted to just let the taller girl have at it, but then again, Lindsey was strong and Kelley may have been tough, but she wasn't that dumb. The other girl could hit hard and for a long time, so she'd rather just try to show Emily that she wasn't an asshole through actual action instead of her words.
"So, how's Tobin taken the Servando news?" Alex asked, wanting to know what Tobin had thought of what Servando did to Christen.
"When she found out, she just got really quiet and kind of retracted into herself. She came out of her room like two hours later and tried to smoke everything in the house," Kelley said and Alex frowned. "Christen came by though, but left when she noticed Tobin was out of it."
"Have they talked about it since?" Alex asked and Kelley shrugged. "You must be curious."
"Yeah, but Tobs will tell me when she's ready," Kelley said and Alex sighed. "How's your lady loving search going?"
"Not well," Alex said, flopping back against Kelley's mattress. "It had been okay, I'd slept with a certain somebody a couple times, but other than that, nothing."
"Who?" Kelley asked, wanting to know her competition.
"Ashlyn, but it was never serious. She was kind of cold, I didn't expect to be treated like a quick fuck with her," Alex said and Kelley frowned. She wanted so desperately to tell Alex that she'd never treat her like that, but it died out on her tongue. "Maybe I wasn't good enough. You've slept with a lot of girls, do you think you could help me?"
"This sounds like the start to a porno, but okay," Kelley said and Alex sat up on her knees in front of Kelley. "Slow your roll tiger, romance isn't completely dead. Girls like Ash act like they don't want it, but they do."
"I'm not looking to get a girl like Ash," Alex said and Kelley shrugged. "However, if you insist on being romantic, I sure as hell won't stop you."
"Good, we start with the basics. You're flirty, so you've got that in the bag, but we'll work on your kissing game," Kelley said and Alex rolled her eyes. "Kiss me, what are you waiting for?"
"Oh sorry," Alex said sarcastically. She slowly leaned in towards Kelley and gave her a very chaste peck on the lips.
"I'm an 18 year old bombshell, kiss me like it," Kelley insisted and Alex took a deep breath. She went in again, still slowly, but with a bit more confidence and kissed Kelley. This time, she wasn't as nervous, so the kiss was longer and more enjoyable. Still, it ended a bit sooner than Kelley would have liked it to. "Better, much better. Do you want to keep going?"
"You mean like sex?" Alex asked and Kelley shook her head.
"I mean, like, pointers and whatnot," Kelley said, her voice very chipper. Alex nodded and Kelley took control of their next kiss as a demonstration. Alex, who was normally pretty aware of her surroundings, had no idea when Kelley's tongue had slipped into her mouth or when she had begun to moan and get wet, but she knew that Kelley was an amazing kisser.
"Holy shit, how did you do that?" Alex asked and Kelley shrugged.
"Practice and natural talent baby!" Kelley yelled a little loudly and Alex rolled her eyes. "You should see what my tongue can do in other places."
"Baby steps Kel."
"Morning," Alex said as Christen came downstairs. "How'd you sleep?"
"Really well," Christen said and Alex gave her a knowing smile. "You?"
"Fine, Kelley's a bit clingy in her sleep though. I don't mind it all that much though," Alex said and Christen gave her a little nod. "You looked pretty cozy with Tobin last night when we got back."
"We were studying and fell asleep," Christen said honestly and Alex narrowed her eyes. "What?"
"Is there something going on between you guys?" Alex asked and Christen began to panic a bit. It had been a few weeks and they had been on a handful of dates since their first, but nothing had been talked about really. Tobin agreed to take it slow and Christen was relieved about that, but she didn't know when they would start telling people. Even though, technically, they weren't girlfriends yet. "I'll take that as a Tobin hasn't asked you yet. Have you thought about asking her?"
"Yeah, but I can't. Eventually she'll realize she's too cool for me. Why make it harder on myself?" Christen asked and Alex frowned at her. "I mean, even if we make it to the summer, all of what I have now will eventually move on."
"Nah, once you befriend these idiots, you keep them forever, no matter what." Alex put a hand on Christen's shoulder before moving to hug her. "And that means you get Ali and I too. I'm not saying you're going to magically become friends with everybody, but now you've got a good group of friends to look out for you."
"You just feel guilty because of what he did last week," Christen said and Alex sighed. "You don't need to, it wasn't anybody's fault but his."
"It's Tobin who really needs to hear that," Alex said, motioning to the top of the staircase. Christen turned to see Tobin and Kelley walking downstairs. Kelley looked very awake and Tobin looked absolutely miserable and adorably tired. "Breakfast ladies?"
"Please," Tobin whined and Christen shifted on the couch so Tobin could lay down. She hadn't expected Tobin to lay with her head in her lap, but Christen ran her fingers through Tobin's hair as they waited for breakfast. Kelley and Alex made breakfast, Kelley doing most of the work while Alex did what Kelley directed her to do. "You left me alone this morning."
"I skipped my usual morning yoga to stay with you for a few more moments," Christen said and Tobin kissed one of her hands. "Careful, they could catch us."
"Let them, Kelley sent me a picture of us from last night this morning," Tobin said, pulling her phone out of her waistband. She pulled up the picture and Christen sent it to herself from Tobin's phone. "I think they know something's up."
"Do you, uh, want to be my girlfriend?" Christen asked and Tobin quickly sat up. "I mean, it might be a bit early, but I'd really like it if you were. Maybe we could be public about it, or not. I totally get it if you don't want to, I mean dating me can't be good for your reputation."
"I could say the same thing about you," Tobin said, kissing Christen softly. This had to be the longest kiss they'd ever shared, their normal ones being secret pecks stolen throughout their day when they were alone. "That's a yes by the way, I want it all with you."
"Great," Christen said, kissing Tobin again. This time was different, this kiss was deeper, Tobin slipping Christen a little bit of tongue. Christen wasn't really sure what to do, so she tried to mimic Tobin's movements best she could.
"Guys, breakfast is ready. So, uh, stop making out and eat," Kelley said and Tobin shot up and ran to the table. They ate breakfast in a comfortable silence until Tobin spoke up.
"Christen and I are girlfriends."
"We know Tobs," Kelley said and Alex slapped her arm. "Ow!"
"We're very happy for you both," Alex said and Christen gave her a small smile.
"Thank you," Christen said and Alex gave her a warm smile. The rest of breakfast went by fairly quickly and Tobin realized that she didn't know what she wanted to do with the rest of her day. Normally on Saturdays she woke up sometime in the afternoon, but now she had more time than she knew what to do with.
"Tobs, game?" Kelley asked, holding up two controller.
"Yeah, Press you in?" Tobin asked and Christen didn't have a chance to answer before Alex pulled her upstairs. Kelley handed Tobin the controller and they began to play some Fifa as Alex and Christen had a chat upstairs.
"So, you're Tobin's girlfriend now. I don't think anybody but Kelley's had that honor," Alex said, laying on Tobin's bed. Unlike Kelley, if Tobin was with a girl, it was rarely at the house, so Alex knew her bed was clean.
"Kelley and Tobin?" Christen asked and Alex nodded. "How long?"
"They fucked around for months, but they were exclusive for maybe 3 weeks," Alex said and Christen felt herself getting a bit nervous. She hadn't really had sex or given it much thought, but she realized now that at some point, she'd probably have to put out if she wanted to keep Tobin. "I've never seen her take something so slow before, it's impressive. You must be something special."
"If we're talking about sex, how nervous is normal?" Christen asked and Alex sighed. "You have had sex before right?"
"Yeah, I'm not a virgin. I haven't been since April. Serv and I on prom night, nothing special honestly. Ashlyn was a lot better in bed, but not so much when it came to sticking around afterwards. I guess that's what happens when you're fucking somebody who's in love with someone else," Alex said sardonically. "If I'm being completely honest, I kind of want to fuck Kelley."
"Not Tobin?" Christen asked, wanting to make sure Alex didn't have eyes for her new girlfriend.
"Tobin's yours and I wouldn't do that to you, you're my friend. I feel bad enough about having fucked around with Ash when I know that her and Ali are dancing around getting back together again," Alex said with a heavy sigh. "Just a word of advice in regards to sex and Tobin, don't push it or bring it up before you're ready. Chances are, she's probably not entirely ready for that step herself. She'll probably say something when she is."
"Okay, thank you Alex." Christen leaned over and hugged her friend before sitting back on Tobin's bed. "She's so great and I don't know what the hell I did to deserve her."
"Tobin's a little troubled sometimes, but she's a good person at her core. People forget that sometimes, but don't let yourself become one of them. Make sure she always knows that you're gonna be there for her," Alex said, pushing herself up and off of Tobin's bed. "I'm gonna run home and get something to change into. I'll see you in a bit Chris."
"Later Alex," Christen said, staying on Tobin's bed for a few more moments. She needed a shower and a change of clothes as well, but she thought there was too much time to get ready for tonight. Christen sat back on Tobin's bed, getting out their study material and finished up the flashcards for Tobin. She made some for future tests that Tobin would have with her English class and then went downstairs as Kelley was making lunch.
"Where have you been all morning?" Tobin asked, reaching out to hold Christen's hands.
"Made some flashcards, scrolled through Instagram, had that chat with Alex. Not in that order though," Christen said and Tobin smiled at her.
"Guys, lunch!" Kelley yelled from the kitchen. Tobin's stomach growled and Christen giggled at her, pulling her into the kitchen. "So, what were you and Alex talking about upstairs?"
"Just some girl talk I guess," Christen said, not really know what was meant by girl talk. "It's not of importance anymore, at least not now. So, how's quitting been going for you?"
"I ran out of cigarettes a few days ago. I've been vaping until I can get another pack or two to hold me over for a week," Tobin said and Christen nodded. "I'm sorry about what happened at school that one day, when I wasn't there. If I'd gone, he never would have gotten a hit in."
"It's fine, don't worry yourself. I'm a big girl, I can deal with my own problems sometimes. Besides, you were really sick, let's just forget it happened," Christen said and nobody wanted to argue with that. They ate lunch, Kelley went to Alex's to get ready, and Tobin decided to play some games with Christen while they were alone. "So, apparently I'm your second girlfriend."
"Depending on how you count the first one," Tobin said with a dry laugh. "Can we talk about something else?"
"Sure," Christen said and Tobin smiled at her. "I won't be too overdressed will I?"
"Not at all, you're gonna look absolutely perfect," Tobin said, sweetly kissing Christen on the lips. Christen blushed and turned to get her outfit from her backpack. Ali had come over to help her pick out something to wear to the dinner Friday, in between the time that school let out and her game started. Ali had managed to dig out a dress that Christen's older sister had bought her at the beginning of summer, a shorter, strapless, navy blue dress that was tighter up top and got looser as it went down.
"I'm gonna shower and change," Christen said, grabbing her backpack and Tobin nodded. Tobin was very nervous about tonight, meeting Ashlyn's grandmother was like a big part of any relationship in their group, a part that Tobin had never once made it to. Since it was very hot, she dug through her closet to find the nicest pair of shorts she could find. She pulled out a pair of khaki shorts, a pair of slip on Vans that she had honestly forgotten she owned, and a light blue, short sleeved button up shirt. She waited on her bed for Christen to get done and her jaw nearly dropped when she did. The dress looked amazing on Christen for starters, and then Tobin noticed that for what was probably the first time, Christen didn't have any makeup on and her hair was still wet. "What, is this okay?"
"Yeah, perfect, you look perfect," Tobin said and Christen blushed. "Man, I am not right a lot, but I was earlier."
"Go get ready you dork," Christen said and Tobin scoffed.
"You do not have the right to call me a dork," Tobin argued and Christen narrowed her eyes at Tobin.
"Actually, I have more right than anybody, now go!" Tobin listened and ran off to get ready. When she was all showered and dressed again, she walked back into her room to see Christen putting on her makeup. "You look nice."
"Tonight's a big deal, I mean, you're going as my girlfriend. Oh, do you want to tell everybody?" Tobin asked and Christen shrugged. "I won't say anything if you don't want to."
"You so want to say something and so do I," Christen said and Tobin smiled. Tobin pulled her phone out and took a picture, kissing Christen's cheek and sent it to Ashlyn and Ali before taking another to post on Instagram. Christen took a picture of their hands clasped together and put it on Snapchat, Alex almost immediately sending her a video of Kelley giving them a thumbs up. "Your friends are so weird."
"Our friends, you're stuck with them too," Tobin said, running her fingers through Christen's hair. "Just like you're stuck with me."
"Whatever will I do?" Christen asked sarcastically, leaning in to kiss Tobin. The kiss didn't last long because both of them were way too smiley about it.
"That, you could do that about it," Tobin said with a goofy grin. The alarm on Christen's phone went off and she rushed to get ready before hauling ass to the address that Kelley had texted her. They were the second to get there, only beaten by Ali, who had drive Ashlyn's Jeep there. "Wow, not a scratch."
"Don't act surprised, I've been driving longer than Ash," Ali said, crossing her arms.
"Yeah, but I drove you around for a long time," Ashlyn said, nudging Ali with her knee. "Also, very cute matching dresses."
"Planned by yours truly," Ali said, smiling adorably. "Although, I didn't expect Chris to look better than me."
"Ridiculous," Christen said and Ali pecked her cheek. Christen glanced nervously at Tobin, but her girlfriend seemed unphased, used to Ali's affectionate nature by now. "You look gorgeous."
"That's normal, but you do look really nice Christen," Ashlyn said and Christen thanked her. "If Tobin wasn't so protective over you, I'd suggest that you try to get a girlfriend or boyfriend."
"I already have a girlfriend," Christen said and both Ashlyn and Ali looked a bit surprised. "It's Tobin."
"Since when?" Ashlyn asked, glancing over at Tobin with narrowed eyes.
"We've been dating for a few weeks, but Chris asked me this morning," Tobin said and Ashlyn punched Tobin's shoulder. "Ow!"
"Good job, go getting the girl for yourself," Ali said, patting Christen on the shoulder. "I think this means you can call Tobs Toby now."
"Absolutely not," Tobin said, crossing her arms.
"I don't know, I like it," Christen said and Tobin uncrossed her arms. Arguing would have been futile, Tobin would let Christen call her by whatever nickname she chose, even if it was Toby. "Toby."
"I hate you guys," Tobin said, pulling Christen into her arms.
"Cheney started it," Ashlyn pointed out and Tobin sighed, knowing it was true. They hung out outside until Alex and Kelley got there. The group then went inside, where dinner was waiting and Tobin introduced Christen to Chris and Ashlyn's grandmother. "Relax, they love her."
"I'm way more relaxed than you were when you brought Ali the first time," Tobin said and Ashlyn had to admit that was very true. "I swear I've never seen somebody shake so much."
"I have," Ashlyn said soberly and Tobin winced. "Although, I've never been so shaky and nervous. Actually, scratch that, when I asked Ali out I was super nervous."
"That was a good day," Tobin said, remembering it fondly. "You got your first girlfriend and I got my first kiss."
"Who even was it?" Ashlyn asked, sitting back against the couch.
"Cheney, we were playing spin the bottle at the soccer camp," Tobin said and Ashlyn choked on her water. "What?"
"Sorry, just the mental image of a tiny, pre-corrupted Tobin going to kiss Lauren Cheney," Ashlyn said and Tobin rolled her eyes. "You guys really were close back then huh?"
"Close enough for it to not disturb our friendship," Tobin said, suddenly missing having her soccer friends. Ashlyn caught onto how Tobin was feeling and leaned forward, about to suggest she rejoin the team. "You'll have a better chance at getting me to the club."
"Then join the fucking clubs," Kelley said, popping up out of nowhere. "Dinner's ready guys."
"Thanks you freaking ninja," Ashlyn said and Kelley nodded. Christen was sitting at the table, already being questioned by Ashlyn's grandmother as everybody else got situated. "Christen, this is the best mac and cheese you'll ever have."
"Ash lives for it," Ali said, leaning towards the goalkeeper a bit. "It's really good."
"Smells delicious Mrs. Harris," Christen said and Ashlyn's grandmother smiled at her.
"So, how do you know my girls?" Nana Harris asked, now that all of them were here.
"Kelley and I actually played on the same club soccer team over the summer. Tobin and I just sort of became friends, so I started hanging around everybody else. I'm really grateful for every single one of them," Christen said and Tobin reached under the table to hold Christen's hand.
"Tobin, everybody knows," Ali said, noticing the movement. Tobin and Christen both moved so that they weren't hiding their hand holding anymore. Dinner then resumed fairly normally, Christen falling in easily with the conversation and jokes around the table.
"Now that we're all alone, time for our own girl talk," Kelley said, suggestively wagging her eyebrows. "First up, I need to tell you both of you some things. Ash, you're looking at Ali like a lovesick puppy and it hurts. Talk to her dude, she's still into you, definitely into you. Tobin, congrats on bagging Christen, she's special and I think you guys will do well together. Now to my news, I made out with Alex last night."
"Why am I not surprised?" Ashlyn asked, leaning back in her lawn chair. "Do you like her?"
"Honestly, it's the most I've felt for somebody since Emily, which I completely fucked up. I swear I'm an idiot," Kelley said and Tobin took a sip of her beer. "Now that Christen's your girlfriend, have you talked about sex?"
"No, I'm waiting for her to bring it up. I can't rush anything, when we're ready, it'll happen," Tobin said and Kelley nodded. "I can't be greedy with her, that's how things get fucked up."
"True," Ashlyn said sadly. Kelley got up and sat in Ashlyn's lap to hug her friend, not liking the familiar sadness in her voice. "I'm really lucky to have you guys here."
"Same, I doubt I'd be alive if it weren't for knowing you guys are here," Kelley said and Tobin sighed. She got up and got in Ashlyn's lap as well, joining in on the group hug.
"If you're not planning on carrying me inside, can you please get off my legs now?" Ashlyn asked, breaking up their moment. Tobin and Kelley got off her lap and went back to their own chairs. "I love you guys, like a lot."
"I love you guys too," Kelley said and Tobin nodded.
"You guys are my family, you mean more to me than anything else," Tobin said and they toasted to that as they watched the sunrise on the beach. Tobin glanced over at the three sleeping bodies on the makeshift beds made out of beach towels and blankets about 30 feet away. "They're our family too."
"Yeah," Ashlyn said before reaching into her pocket and pulling out a simple ring. Kelley gasped and Ashlyn held her hand up as if it would stop her from jumping to conclusions. "It's a promise ring, lame I know, but I knew it'd mean the world for her to have it at college. Maybe if I can fix us by graduation, I can give it to her."
"You'll do it. I believe in you," Tobin said and Kelley nodded. "We believe in you."
"We should get to sleep," Ashlyn said yawning. She got out of her chair and went to lay near Ali without intruding on her personal space. Ali didn't have the same concern, seeking out Ashlyn's body heat like a missile as she latched onto the blonde goalkeeper. Kelley went over to where Alex was sleeping and laid down on top of the forward, Alex's arms instinctively wrapping around her waist. Tobin was much more careful with Christen, taking Ashlyn's approach of allowing her personal space. Christen didn't latch on like Ali had, but instead rolled towards Tobin, laying close to her while also keeping some space between them. However, as Tobin fell asleep, the space between them disappeared, Tobin moving closer and burrowing into Christen's hold.
"Won't it be a bit crowded with the football guys using the weight room too?" Abby asked and Hope shrugged, taking a sip of her coffee.
"It's technically my weight room, so tough shit," Hope said, seemingly in a mood. Abby should have figured something was up when Hope arrived alone, Carli nowhere to be seen. If that wasn't enough, Hope had more coffee with her than normal and Abby definitely noticed the energy drinks that were in her bag. Hope went over towards an outlet and plugged in her phone before sitting by it. She set her coffee down before opening her backpack to grab an energy drink and a bag of chips.
"Those aren't breakfast foods," Abby pointed out, ignoring the glare from Hope. "Carli's gonna come in here and chew you out for putting that garbage into your body.
"And she can fuck right off to Hell," Hope said with a smile. It quickly faded as the doors opened and a few of the girls from the team walked in. The football players had yet to arrive, late to their workout session. Hope managed to get halfway through the bag of chips by the time Carli got to the practice, all of their players beating her there. There weren't a lot of specific instructions aside from just make sure that their time was being used wisely. Hope wouldn't have noticed if they were actually working out or not because she spent the entire time staring in the general direction of (directly at) Carli from across the gym. Of course Carli would spend her time on the treadmill talking to Abby, probably about their fight. It was stupid and Hope had spent the night sleeping in her truck that night with the windows cracked, parked at the school. She would have to make sure to stay in her office overnight, at least she could be more comfortable on her couch.
"Solo, what's the meaning of this?" Hope looked up to see the football coach angrily walking towards her. "My boys can't focus on their workouts with your girls running around like this!"
"Like what?" Hope asked, standing up. She crossed her arms and held her ground, not giving him even half an inch. "They're working out and this is a big enough space for everybody."
"Whatever," he said with a huff. Hope smirked as he walked away before sitting back down next to her phone. There weren't any missed calls or texts from Carli from last night, which really hurt if Hope was being honest. Carli wasn't one to let Hope just walk away, but then again, Hope had really fucked up. Instead of sitting down with Carli and talking about the problem at hand, which Hope didn't really remember if she was being honest, she blew up and told Carli to stay out of her business. Of course, she'd said it with more words which had obviously struck a nerve with her girlfriend.
"Alright, you're officially more of an asshole than I thought," Abby said, sitting next to Hope. "Also, just watching Carli run makes me tired."
"Try actually running with her," Hope said and Abby shook her head. "Of course, it had to be when she decided to run 15 miles in one morning. I'm fit and in shape, but not like that."
"We should see if the girls could outlast Carli on a run," Abby said and Hope nodded. "We'd have to participate too though. Who do you think would be first out?"
"Honestly, if past practices have told me anything, a keeper. Ashlyn still believes that keepers don't run," Hope said with a chuckle.
"Do everybody a favor, fuck your pride and apologize," Abby said and Hope sighed. "Seriously, it'd be doing everybody a favor. Where did you sleep last night?"
"The truck," Hope said with a sigh. "I think she needs space first though."
"No, you're stalling for your pride," Abby said and Hope shook her head. "Whatever Hope, but don't come crying to me when your pride breaks that up."
"Trust me, I won't," Hope said angrily. Abby just left Hope to sit alone and think, which ended up being festering in her shitty mood. Hope stayed by her outlet, nobody daring to go near her. Of course that changed whenever Alex had taken note of the tension in the gym. She walked right up to Hope and then cleared her throat, causing the coach to look up from her phone. "What do you want Morgan?"
"A spotter?" Alex asked and Hope got up, grumbling to herself. She followed Alex over to the benches and then loaded on the weight for Alex. If she was going to play into whatever Alex was doing, she would make sure that the other girl put in an equal amount of work.
"Couldn't JJ have done this?" Hope asked and Alex shook her head. "Gonna try to talk to me too?"
"I know I'm not one of your favorites like Kelley, Tobin, JJ, or the keepers, but I know that you're not okay. Talking about stuff helps me, so I'm offering you some help I guess," Alex said and Hope sighed. "What's going on?"
"Relationship," Hope said shortly. They didn't say anything until Alex put in her 15 reps and then set the bar back on as Hope took the weights off. "I fucked up and I know that Abby's right. She's always right about my bullshit, I'm going to ruin my relationship because of my pride."
"Don't let yourself do that then," Alex said and Hope scoffed.
"It isn't that easy," Hope said and Alex crossed her arms.
"Make it that easy then. Prove yourself and Abby wrong, she doesn't need to always be right you know," Alex said, standing up.
"You know, I really think you're gonna go far kid," Hope said with a small smile and Alex let her formulate a plan on her own.
"Thank you for coming with me," Julie said, glancing back at Christen. "This is making me a lot more nervous than it should be."
"Hey, you're my friend now and you really like Alyssa," Christen said, offering Julie a small smile. "Go in there and get her."
"Yeah, I will," Julie said, pulling open the restaurant's door. Alyssa was standing behind the counter, taking the order of some guys that Julie had probably seen around school before. She glanced back to make sure Christen had followed her in before getting in line to order. The workouts from the morning had left her exhausted, so much she hadn't realized she was hungry until Christen had texted her to remind her of their planned lunch that day. "Do you know what you want?"
"Whatever is fine by me," Christen said and Julie nodded. "I'll find us somewhere to sit."
"Yeah, good idea," Julie said and Christen left her in the line alone. Christen would be there to support her, but she needed to actually be alone when she asked Alyssa out. As Julie stepped up to order, she noticed that Alyssa perked up a bit at the sight of her, which was a great sign. "Hey Lys, you look cute."
"Thanks you liar," Alyssa said and Julie glanced up at the menu. She knew what she wanted to get, but for a moment, she forgot. "Welcome to East Eats, can I take your order?"
"Two large drinks, a medium deep dish with just cheese, a salad, and a date for Friday night please," Julie said and Alyssa put everything in before pausing towards the end of Julie's order. "I was thinking dinner around 7 or 8. Is it a date?"
"Y-yeah," Alyssa stuttered out. A blush began to form on her cheeks, making Julie smile. "We can talk more about it when I get off work."
"Great," Julie said, handing Alyssa her credit card. Alyssa swiped it and then handed it back to Julie along with a receipt and her cups. Julie smiled at her before walking over to Christen and handing her one of the cups. "It's a date."
"Carli, hey," Hope said. Carli could hear the relieved smile in her voice. "Can we talk?"
"If we're talking this out, it'll be in person," Carli said, sitting in her car. "You can come over and we'll talk this out."
"Okay, thank you. I'll be there in like, 20 minutes tops." Hope hung up the phone on that and Carli got out of her car and went inside. She grabbed herself one of Hope's beers from the fridge and then got one for Hope before going outside. She intended on fixing whatever mess they were currently in, so Hope wouldn't have to worry about driving back to wherever she was sleeping. It took Hope a total of 11 minutes and 49 seconds to get to the house that she was living in with Carli. "Hi."
"Beer?" Carli offered, holding it out to Hope. The beer was cold everywhere except for the neck, where Carli had been holding onto it. "You've got three minutes to explain to me what the hell is going on."
"Okay, fair enough," Hope said, collecting her thoughts. "I made a purchase and it's something I really wanted to keep hidden from you. That sounds bad, yes, but it's like a present. I've still got a lot of money from everything that had happened before and there's never really a good place for the club teams in the summer to practice. I bought a property and there's a house on the end of the road, I've been working with people to fix it up a bit and get everything I bought cleaned up. The place where the fields could go are pretty set right now, but like, the house isn't. It was supposed to be a surprise, but then you cornered me about it at dinner and I got defensive and well, fight night. I'm really sorry about hiding it and getting upset."
"I'm sorry for making you upset and overstepping. You're an adult and I should let you make your own decisions," Carli said and Hope cracked open the beer.
"Can I come home now?" Hope asked and Carli nodded.
"You didn't have to ever leave Hope," Carli said, pulling the former professional player up for a kiss. Hope scoffed and Carli raised an eyebrow at her. "Hope, what is it now?"
"You're hostile when you're angry, I definitely had to stay away babe. You get hostile, I get hostile and that's a bad time for everybody," Hope said and Carli pinched her side. "Ow!"
"Shut up and keep kissing me," Carli said and Hope complied.
Amy yawned as she turned onto her stomach. Lauren sat up, holding her sheets against her chest as she did. She glanced at Amy, whose eyes were essentially closed. Lauren smiled to herself and then snapped a picture on her phone. She sent it to Amy and laid back down. Amy crawled a little closer towards her, their bodies tangling together. Lauren wondered how she had gotten so lucky with Amy. Lauren knew in that moment that Amy was who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She'd have to tell her parents sometime, but there was no rush from Amy, which was really nice. Lauren didn't think her parents would care all too much, they may have been religious, but they took the message of love and acceptance to heart. They hadn't turned Tobin away like her parents had, even though they had definitely heard about some of the things she had been up to. They had accepted Kelley and Ashlyn as well, but Lauren was still nervous about letting her parents know that she was into girls.
"I love you," Lauren whispered quietly. Amy was fast asleep and a heavy sleeper, so Lauren could have definitely said it at a normal volume, but she was scared about telling Amy how she felt. If Amy had been silent, Lauren never would have opened her mouth, but the slightly louder than soft snores coming from the sleeping blonde next to her told her anything she said would practically fall upon deaf ears. "Actually, I'm in love with you." Amy stirred a bit and Lauren's heart stuttered in fear for a moment, but then things went back to normal when Amy was just turning over. Lauren relaxed again and ran her fingers through Amy's hair. Amy often did the same thing to her whenever they had sleepovers to get Lauren to fall asleep.
Lauren yawned and closed her eyes, trying to fall asleep. Technically, she couldn't stay the night with Amy tonight, she'd promised her parents that she'd be at the church bright and early to help with the little downtown fair they were sponsoring, but she'd stay until she absolutely had to leave. Besides, it was really hard to just leave Amy there sleeping. It never really went for Lauren when she did, something she had learned the hard way after their fourth time sleeping together. Lauren cringed at the memory of when they first started sleeping together. Amy wasn't terrible in bed, she had still been the best Lauren had ever had. That list wasn't a long one, just a guy from a party when she had tried to prove to some people that she wasn't lame, Jrue, and Amy. Jrue had taken her virginity and been a perfect gentleman, they were still friends actually. Party guy had been an asshole and lasted a whole 90 seconds inside of her after a pathetic attempt at may have been foreplay. Amy hadn't been the best in the world, but she had enough confidence that Lauren didn't question anything that they did. Lauren knew that she had been terrible at first. Which was why for the first month and a half of whatever she could have called them, she was almost exclusively the bottom. Amy had helped her a lot in technique and figuring out what she liked and could do. The summer had been a transformative time for Lauren to say the least, one that she was grateful for.
"Hey, I gotta go," Lauren said quietly. She pulled herself away from Amy, who was still out cold. Lauren stayed an extra five minutes with Amy. The first couple minutes were spent waking Amy up, as much shit as she used to give Tobin for sleeping everywhere, Amy was hell to wake up, and the other three were spent making out. "Seriously, I'm on curfew and I'm not leaving here at 5 in the morning."
"I'll stop by tomorrow," Amy said, quickly giving Lauren a quick peck on the lips. "Later babe."
"Bye baby," Lauren said as she finished getting dressed. "I'll spend the night Sunday night."
"Will I be getting any?" Amy asked and Lauren rolled her eyes. "It's a serious question, unless I come over Saturday night and we..."
"My parents may have their date night Saturday, but my siblings are home for the weekend," Lauren said and Amy huffed. "I can call you tonight and we'll stay on the phone all night."
"No, you have an early morning tomorrow. Besides, if we stay on the phone all night, you'll be back here at 3 to take care of me," Amy said and Lauren's mouth went a bit dry.
"You play dirty Rodriguez," Lauren said and Amy shrugged. "Not fair at all."
"Trust me, I can play much dirtier," Amy said and Lauren took that as her cue to leave. Lauren went home and straight to bed, her activities with Amy and workouts from the morning catching up to her. In the morning, Lauren help set up before going over to Amy's around 9:30, knowing that Amy would be awake by then. Lauren knocked on the door and presumed that one of Amy's parents would answer the door, but instead, she was greeted by Amy launching herself into Lauren's arms. "It's early and you woke me up."
"It's 9:40 and you wake up to watch the sports recap early on Saturdays," Lauren said and Amy smiled, kissing her. "I thought you'd be up from your post-show nap by now. Wanna go get breakfast?"
"Of course I do," Amy said, letting Lauren in. "I just have to get dressed. Actually, do you think you can help me?"
"What part of getting dressed do you need help with?" Lauren asked and Amy didn't answer her. Instead, she just pulled Lauren upstairs and to her bedroom. "Where are your parents?"
"Downtown, I'm supposed to meet them at 11," Amy said and Lauren nodded. "That's enough time for me to get a snack and breakfast."
"Sunday night baby," Lauren promised her and Amy pouted. Lauren leaned forward to kiss the pout off of Amy's face before settling back on Amy's bed. "You should wear those shorts that Abby made you change out of at practice last week."
"The ones that apparently pass as underwear?" Amy asked and Lauren nodded, smiling a little at her. "Alright, but you're changing your shirt then if we're playing this game."
"Fine by me," Lauren said and Amy grabbed the shorts, a cut off rainbow shirt that she had "borrowed" from Ali their junior year, and a crop top. She tossed the crop top at Lauren before changing into the shorts and rainbow shirt.
"Your parents know I'm gay right?" Amy asked and Lauren shrugged. "Do they even know you're not a virgin?"
"Yeah, I freaked the fuck out and told them about Jrue after it happened. They have literally no idea about us or party guy," Lauren said and Amy chuckled. She remembered picking Lauren up from that party. It had been one of the last parties of their junior year, and the night that Amy had first kissed Lauren. "Do you think they'd be surprised about us?"
"I think your dad would be. I mean, he is under the impression you're with Jrue still. I think your mom totally knows though," Amy said and Lauren got really pale. "She's probably just waiting for you to come out and stuff. Mama Cheney's like that, so are you, which is why I love you."
"You know last night, he asked me how Jrue was," Lauren said and Amy raised an eyebrow at her.
"Yeah, I can tell you got laid last night too," Amy said, straddling Lauren's lap. "Just like the whole ass school will know Monday. I say we skip that morning practice and do some cardio and a core workout."
"You're hornier than usual," Lauren pointed out and Amy shrugged. "I'd ask what's gotten into you, but I sense a Pinoe-esqe joke."
"I was gonna say you," Amy said honestly and Lauren rolled her eyes. "Totally going to say you."
"Let's get going before somebody gets worried about me being gone," Lauren said, tapping the side of Amy's thigh. Amy got up and Lauren watched her ass as they walked to her car. "Have you talked to Tobin recently?"
"No, but a downside to hanging around Christen is that they're totally in love with each other, so Christen talks about her. Sometimes Tobin's even there with us, but we don't talk." Amy buckled herself up as she spoke. Lauren sighed as she started her car and began to back out of Amy's driveway. "I don't see why you're pushing for us to be friends again. She's a bad influence and fucked us over."
"She was going through a rough time, that doesn't excuse abandoning us, but I think she deserves another chance. She's really changing again, this time I think it's for the better," Lauren pleaded with Amy, who stood her ground.
"Nope," Amy said, crossing her arms. Lauren got them drive-through breakfast and cheap iced coffee as she drove downtown. They sat in Lauren's car and ate, Amy wishing that the parking lot had been empty so she could have kissed Lauren. "Are we gonna be able to hang out today or do you have to actually do more stuff?"
"We can hang," Lauren said, smiling at Amy. Amy grabbed a pair of sunglasses from Lauren's glove compartment and then got out of the car. Lauren followed suit, carrying her coffee with her as she walked around. Lauren stopped back by where her parents were helping out the church's little section of the fair and stopped when she saw her father talking to Jrue. They noticed Lauren first, which Lauren picked up on almost immediately, so she was forced to go over and talk to them. "Hey you."
"Hi," Jrue said, hugging her. "Hello Amy."
"Hi Jrue," Amy said politely. Lauren returned to Amy's side as soon as Jrue let go of her. "I think I'm gonna get a snow cone."
"We just got breakfast," Lauren said and Amy began to walk away. "You know what, I want one too."
"Guess that's my cue," Jrue said, a little awkwardly. He followed Lauren and Amy over to where snow cones were being sold. They got them and then sat down, Jrue noticing how close Lauren and Amy were sitting. "You didn't tell him."
"Oh no, I did not," Lauren said, hanging her head a little. "There's quite a bit he doesn't know."
"He thinks we slept together last night," Jrue said and Lauren sighed. "Glad to know you're happy. You both deserve it."
"Thank you, but can you keep this under wraps?" Amy asked and Jrue nodded. "Thanks, nobody really knows."
"Christen knows," Lauren pointed out and Amy nodded.
"Accident, I swear," Amy said and Lauren shrugged. "Tobin does too."
"That doesn't surprise me, she's smart and knows us." Lauren smiled at Amy. Amy briefly smiled at her before the smile fell as Christen walked over, Tobin holding her hand. "Hey Chris, hey Toby."
"Cheney, Amy," Tobin said, sitting down next to Christen. "Jrue?"
"I'm gonna go now," Jrue said, excusing himself.
"Nice shirt," Tobin said and Amy glared at her. "I think I have the same one."
"Probably," Amy said coldly.
"I'm sorry for being a dick to you last year," Tobin said and Amy shrugged it off. "I'd really like for us to get to be friends again, but I get it if you don't want to."
"Yeah, whatever," Amy said before storming off. Lauren chased after her and caught her in the parking lot, immediately pulling her into a hug. Amy started crying there and Lauren waited until she decided to talk. "She can't leave us like that and suddenly get back in on a moment's notice!"
"It's not fair, but she'd give us a second chance. Besides, we both know she's trying, like for real," Lauren said, kissing the top of Amy's head. "I know why you don't want to be her friend again and I do appreciate it, but I'm technically an adult now, so I promise I can handle it if she spirals again."
"She makes you cry and I'll break her fucking kneecaps," Amy said and Lauren let out a little chuckle until she realized that Amy was completely serious. "I'll give her another chance."
"Thank you," Lauren said, smiling as she finally let go of Amy. Amy calmed herself down a bit and then they went back out to enjoy everything and hang around their friends.
"Coach Solo?" Alyssa asked, stepping inside of the gym. Hope looked up from her phone and smiled at Alyssa, who looked extremely nervous. "I need to talk to you about something. About the game Friday."
"What's up kid?" Hope asked and Alyssa wasn't sure how to go about saying this. She was grateful for every start she got and all of the work that Hope had put into her to help Alyssa be the best goalkeeper she could. She just didn't feel right starting that game. It was their last of the season, Ashlyn had been working her ass off, and it was senior night, so Ashlyn deserved to have much. A few of their players were graduating early, so that be the last time that they'd be able to have that many of the original starting XI from their first game as freshman. There was a rumor that Hope had managed to talk Tobin and Kelley into showing up to take pictures with the rest of the seniors on the team.
"I don't think I should be starting tomorrow," Alyssa said and Hope looked surprised. "I think it should be Ashlyn's start. I'll take the JV team or the bench, but I don't want to start tomorrow on varsity."
"Alyssa, are you sure?" Hope asked and Alyssa nodded. "Take the JV game then. I'll tell Ashlyn that there was a switch. I really think this will mean a lot to her."
"Hey, my time's gonna come next year. She should get to enjoy hers like I'm gonna enjoy mine," Alyssa said and Hope nodded. "That's, uh, all."
"Alright, have a good day," Hope said, smiling at her goalkeeper. Alyssa quickly walked out of the gym and then back to the parking lot. She took a deep breath and then got into her car. She drove to Julie's house for their study date. Most of Alyssa's classes were either the AP/dual credit classes or they were straight up college classes. The only ones that weren't were gym and chemistry. Those were the classes that Alyssa had with Julie, who agreed to study with her for their upcoming test. Alyssa wanted to be valedictorian her senior year, so everything counted for Alyssa. Alyssa parked her car in Julie's driveway, got her backpack, and then ran up to Julie's door. She knocked a couple of times and smiled when Julie answered it.
"My parents went out with my sister, so we can study in the living room," Julie said and Alyssa nodded. Alyssa sat on Julie's couch, much more awkward than the blonde in front of her. Julie was more of a social person than Alyssa though, she had always been a lot better around people. In all honesty, the only people that Alyssa was necessarily good with were children, which was why she was excited for school to end so Alyssa could take up teaching co-ed youth soccer over the summer. Her current job agreed to work around things like that, Alyssa had gotten lucky and chosen a job at a place that really cared about community development.
"How much of the study guide do you have done?" Alyssa asked and Julie handed Alyssa a blank study guide. "We got this at the beginning of the chapter JJ!"
"I've gotten literally nothing done," Julie said, sighing. "I mean, there's no way I'm passing this class."
"Not to sound rude, but how have you done better on every single test than me?" Alyssa asked and Julie shrugged. She honestly didn't know, but there was something about the tests that came easier to Julie than everything else. It was her test scores that made up for her occasionally sub-par worksheets. "Dare I ask to see your notes?"
"I would let you see them, but Crystal has them," Julie said and Alyssa pulled hers out of her backpack.
"Fill out the guide and I'll help you with whatever worksheets you're missing. Are you taking Chem II next year?" Alyssa asked and Julie shook her head. "What are you taking then?"
"Something easier, like, way easier," Julie said, starting on the worksheets. They sat there for hours, neither of them saying much except for Julie asking Alyssa the occasional question about a problem or formula. "You know, we should get an open notes test."
"That's what the quizzes are," Alyssa said and Julie seemed surprised.
"Are you hungry?" Julie asked, checking her phone for the time. Alyssa had been there for almost two hours, which meant it had been almost 2 and a half hours since Julie had last eaten and she'd really given a lot at that practice.
"Let's go out to get something to eat," Alyssa said, grabbing her keys and wallet. "I'll pay."
"No, I'll pay because you're saving my ass with this test," Julie said and Alyssa shook her head. "Besides, you paid last time. It's my turn."
"First off, you'd pass even if I didn't come help you. Second, I already called it. Third, I want to," Alyssa said and Julie stood up and stretched.
"Fine, but when we go out to the movies Saturday with the team, I'm paying for our tickets and the snacks," Julie said and Alyssa agreed to that much.
"Do you know how late it is?" Ashlyn asked as Kelley walked into the house. "I know you can hear me."
"It's like 1, I know, but I fell asleep at Alex's," Kelley said, yawning. "I shouldn't have driven all the way back here. Save the lecture for another time please," Kelley said and Ashlyn sighed. "Ali stay the night?"
"Nope, she left around 11, got tired of waiting for you to get back. Tobin's sleeping upstairs, so be quiet. She was studying with Christen at the library. Christen didn't even come in to say hi to me," Ashlyn said, sounding a little offended. Kelley nodded, laying back against the couch. "Ali went outside to hug her though, because of course she did."
"Ali Krieger, the one who hates hugs?" Kelley asked and Ashlyn nodded. "I don't blame her, Press gave me a hug once in the summer and it was great. Both of us were gross and sweaty, but she had scored this amazing goal off of my assist."
"Are you coming tomorrow night?" Ashlyn asked, nervous about the senior night.
"Yeah, of course I am. Alex and Ali would murder Toby and I if we missed out on taking pictures with everybody," Kelley said, pulling a blanket on top of herself. "I'm gonna sleep here, night."
"Night Kels," Ashlyn said. She pushed herself out of a chair and then walked upstairs. She practically passed out the second her body hit the cheap mattress that she slept on. In the morning, Ashlyn was excited, getting up earlier than everybody else in the house. She was awake and dressed by the time that Alex and Ali had stopped by to pick her, Kelley, and Tobin up to eat breakfast with the team.
"You smell really nice," Alex said, sniffing Ashlyn. Ali just looked at her friends in confusion as they all sniffed Ashlyn as they walked into the restaurant. Ashlyn moved to put her arm around Ali as they walked in, smiling like a dork when Ali let her keep it there. They definitely weren't any closer to going back to being where they were, but Ashlyn was really happy that Ali wasn't mad at her anymore and accepting her affections.
"Are you wearing the body spray I bought you for Christmas last year?" Ali asked and Ashlyn nodded. "You told me that you'd never wear it in a million years."
"Well, maybe I was wrong and it smells really nice and some other reasons," Ashlyn said and Ali smirked at her. In truth, it reminded Ashlyn of the times when all of her clothes smelled slightly like Ali. "Let's take a seat."
"Okay," Ali said, sitting down at one of the booths with some of the backline. Julie and Alyssa were sitting on one end while Becky and Whitney were on the other. "Brunn!"
"Hey Kriegs," Becky said smiling. The blonde removed her arm from around her girlfriend to hug Ali and Ashlyn, smiling. Ashlyn sat next to Alyssa while Ali sat next to Becky, across from Ashlyn. It was a little cramped with all of them in the booth, but they didn't mind it. "So, I hear you're playing tonight."
"Yeah, JV, but I get to do the senior walk, so I'm pretty pumped," Ashlyn said and Alyssa glanced at Julie. "Sometimes I really wish that I hadn't just left playing with Tobs and Kelley."
"Weird, looks like Tobin is sitting with Amy and it's not a disaster," Julie said, pointing to where Tobin, Lauren, and Amy were sitting at a table together. "Here I thought they hated each other."
"Tobin felt guilty and Amy hated her. That's why they never hung out and always got into arguments," Ali said and Becky thought back to when Amy had gotten suspended for fighting with Tobin three times in a week. "Enough about that though, how's college been?"
"It's been interesting. I went to a party a couple of weeks ago, sat outside with a beer and called Whitney to tell her how miserable it was," Becky said and Whitney put a hand on her girlfriend's leg. "I'm really excited to get to shadow next semester though. I got it approved so I'll be here. I also get to help your soccer team as part of a coaching thing."
"Dude, our backline will really be stacked then," Ashlyn said and Alyssa nodded. "Plus it means Hope can focus on us."
"Who are you guys playing tonight?" Becky asked and Ashlyn shrugged.
"Canucks," Alyssa said and Becky cringed. "Yeah, it's not ideal, but luckily after this year, I won't have to worry about Tancredi, Wilkinson, Moscato, or Sinclair ever again."
"Yeah, but Fleming is totally going to be a varsity starter all of next year," Whitney pointed out and Alyssa shrugged. "She's really good Lys."
"I know that, but she isn't as physically terrifying as Tancredi. I honestly think with how physically she plays, she should be on a football field instead," Alyssa said and Julie snorted. "Babe, she literally tossed you out of her way once during a game."
"Remember when she was hitting on Carli our sophomore year because she thought she was a senior?" Ali asked and Ashlyn started laughing.
"Hope got so pissed," Ashlyn snorted and they continued to reminisce about the past times they'd gone up against the girls they'd be playing tonight.
"Dude, why are we here so early?" Melissa asked as she stepped off of the bus. It was almost 2:30 and their game didn't start until 6.
"Obviously, we're giving you time with your lady," Sinclair teased as she put an arm around Tancredi's shoulders. "Also, are you complaining that we got out of school as soon as lunch was over? I mean you got out of Anatomy II."
"True enough," Tancredi said, smiling. She glanced back at the bus, watching as the rest of the team got off the bus. A quick photo of the seniors was taken before they went to the gym to hang out until the game started. Melissa stayed back, waiting for her girlfriend as she did.
"Go ahead, I'm sure Carli's in there," Diana teased, nudging Melissa with her shoulder. It did literally nothing to the taller teen as they began walking together.
"Okay, why is everybody still giving me shit about that?" Melissa asked and Diana shrugged.
"It's fun and hilarious," Diana answered and Melissa sighed. "Okay, one pick up line would have been pretty easily forgotten by the end of the season. One game would have been forgotten by the end of the season, but you were relentless. It literally took Hope getting in your face to get you to stop trying to get for her number."
"Nobody, not a single person told me that she was a coach and not a player," Melissa said and Diana cackled as Melissa got the door for them. "You know, you're gonna regret being mean to me one day."
"Bullshit," Diana said and Melissa pouted.
"Just you wait, I'll get injured or some shit and then you'll freak out," Melissa said and Diana rolled her eyes. Melissa went to hang out with the other seniors while Diana went into the gym to play with the class that was already in there.
"Look there's your competition for Lloyd," Carm said, nudging Melissa. Melissa scoffed and punched Carm's shoulder, wincing at the sound it made herself. "Ow, fucking bitch."
"Enough with the Lloyd jokes," Sinclair said and everybody nodded. "Tanc, here, for tonight."
"Seriously?" Melissa asked, reaching out for the captain's band.
"Yeah, you started freshman year as captain, you should end it senior year as captain," Sinclair said and Melissa lunged forward to hug the other forward. "Hey, don't get sappy on me now. If you cry, I'm taking the band back."
"Like you won't totally be crying by the end of our game tonight," Melissa said and Sinclair shrugged. "You know who's totally gonna cry tonight?"
"Erin," Carm said, poking the senior goalkeeper next to her. Erin scoffed, but didn't disagree. Technically, Erin had already been crying on the bus, but she'd been sitting by Carm in the back with her hood up, sunglasses on, and earbuds in, so everybody probably just thought she was sleeping. "Did you text Ella and tell her you're here?"
"No, she needs to focus, besides she's got a test this period," Erin said, playing a game on her phone. The girls sat there until the bell rang dismissing all of the students that normally went there. The other soccer team gathered there. Both teams agreed to sit down and hang out a bit, wanting to make sure tensions were too high from their previous games. Quite a few of the girls played on the same teams during summer clubs, so there were friendships off the field.
"Tancredi," Hope said, sitting next to the senior who'd been leaning against the door, watching Diana. "Ready for tonight?"
"Oh yeah, we're not letting you guys win tonight," Melissa said with a smile. Tonight was her last game before the tournament season started in the spring for them. There had been a few qualifying tournaments that had went very well for them earlier in their regular season and they were ready to bring home some trophies and medals.
"What's that?" Hope asked, motioning towards the band wrapped around Melissa's hand.
"Captain's band, Sinc gave it to me for tonight," Melissa said with a heavy sigh. "There is so much riding on tonight. I can feel it."
"You'll play good, I know it," Hope said, patting Melissa on the shoulder. "You know, you've really grown a lot since your freshman and sophomore year, both as a player and a person. You're definitely still physical, but you're less reckless."
"Thanks Solo," Melissa said, patting the slightly taller woman on the shoulder. Hope may have been taller, but Melissa was physically bigger and had no reasons to really fear the other woman like she had before. "I've got some friends to say hi to."
"I'm nervous, Alyssa, are you sure?" Ashlyn turned to look at the younger goalkeeper as they sat in the locker room. Alyssa just smiled at Ashlyn before going over to Julie's cubby. Ashlyn sat in her spot, trying to calm herself down, but having absolutely no luck. Tonight was huge for her, it was senior night so the seniors on the team would be getting walked out and it was their last game of the season. They were playing the Canucks, which were their all time rivals. There was a nasty feud between the two teams, but luckily it was put aside when summer club soccer came around. Ashlyn wasn't necessarily nervous about who they were playing, she'd done it several times, but it was the walking out that she was nervous about. Ashlyn's parents weren't walking her out, instead she had asked her grandmother and Chris to do it. It had been quite some time since anybody from school aside from her close friends had really seen Chris and people knew liked to talk.
"You're gonna do fine," Ali said, sitting down on Ashlyn's lap. The brunette leaned her head against Ashlyn's forehead before lightly kissing her, knowing that always calmed her down. "Can I do your gloves?"
"Yeah," Ashlyn said, letting Ali put her gloves on her. It was a tradition that had been going on since they were little kids. Ashlyn kissed Ali's hand when she was done, another part of their little tradition, then the two of them stood up and walked out to meet the people who were supposed to walk them out. Tobin and Kelley were standing together a little awkwardly and Ali jogged over to hug them. Ali had decided that she wanted to walk out with her mother and Kyle, who had given Ashlyn a bit of a stink eye when she first walked out. Ali told Kyle everything, and Ashlyn knew that it truly was everything. Ashlyn had gotten more threats from Kyle in her life than anybody else combined, but at the end of the day, as long as Ali was happy, they were on good terms. "Kyle. Mrs. Krieger."
"Ashlyn, you look beautiful," Ali's mother said, brushing a loose strand of hair away from Ashlyn's face. Ali smiled, linking her arm with Ashlyn's and leaning against her. "Are the two of you finally back together again?"
"Um, no. Sorry," Ashlyn said and Ali awkwardly moved away from Ashlyn.
"It's fine dear, don't apologize. It's just that Kyle says he's seen you around the house a lot more and I sure have noticed my little Ali's smile getting brighter," Mrs. Krieger said and Ali looked down at the grass. Chris came in at that moment to save his sister, all smiles and a couple of jokes as he greeted Mrs. Krieger and Kyle. "Chris, you look good."
"Thank you, it's easier to make progress when you know what you're working towards," Chris said and Mrs. Krieger seemed a bit more interested.
"What is it that you are working towards Chris?" Kyle asked, tilting his head at the other man.
"Well, I'm working to be a man that Ashlyn would be proud to call a brother and a man that Nana would be proud to call her grandson. Our family has a reputation around here and I thought I had to be part of it, but I realize now that I don't have to be anything other what I wanna be right now," Chris said and Ashlyn ignored the fact that he quoted Gavin DeGraw. "And that's somebody that can be looked at as a symbol of self-improvement."
"That's really nice Chris," Mrs. Krieger said, hugging Ashlyn's older brother. The coaches called a line-up and they got into formation. It wasn't just the seniors that were being escorted on the walkout, Kelley and Tobin were walking with Hope, Sydney was walking with Abby, and Sam and Steph insisted on walking out with Carli so she wouldn't be alone. A couple of pictures were taken and then it was time for the coin toss and kick off. The game was a pretty normal one for both sides, physicality from the Canucks to combat the attacking abilities of the midfield and forwards. Everything was going well up until the 70th minute when a collision between Julie, Whitney, and Tancredi left the forward on the ground, clearly injured. Julie was okay other than the cleat to the thigh she took as Tancredi went down, but Whitney looked like she was in pretty bad pain. Becky rushed onto the field to her girlfriend and held onto her hand as Diana, Sinclair, and Carm ran to Tancredi.
"Hey baby, hey, look at me," Diana said, holding Melissa's head in her lap. Everything seemed to slow for her as she waited for Melissa to give some sort of response. She would have sat there for the rest of the game had Sinclair not pulled her away as Carm brought Tanc to her feet. Diana was angry and wanted to lash out on somebody so she didn't just break down in the middle of the box. Nobody knew exactly what had happened, but Diana knew that Julie had something to do with it. She turned to the blonde defender who was looking at the cleat marks on her skin. "What did you do? Tell me what the fuck you did to her!"
"I didn't do anything, we ran into each other," Julie said calmly and Diana hated it. She was about to throw a punch when she felt herself being restrained by some of her teammates. "It was an accident, but I am really sorry. She's one of my friends too, I wouldn't hurt her like that on purpose I promise."
"Come on, let's keep playing, she wouldn't want us to lose this because you got ejected," Sinclair said, walking Diana back to her position.
Melissa sat in the trainer's room with her headphones on, bobbing her head along to the music. She wasn't going to be playing until December at the very least, which sucked, but it could have been a lot worse. Melissa sat happily in her own world as she waited for a teammate or somebody to come down and get her so she could leave. Somebody did come down to the training room, but it wasn't one of her teammates or even another player. Instead, it was Carli Lloyd, the reason behind the majority of the shit she'd been taking from her team since their first meeting.
"You doing okay? I wanted to check on you," Carli said and Melissa took off her headphones. Melissa gave her a small smile and leaned back against the table. "Diana is really freaked out, she cares a lot about you."
"You ever meet somebody and know that they're the one?" Melissa asked and Carli nodded. "Hope, I know. Diana's like my Hope, but tinier and, get this, angrier. I bet she tried to kill Julie and Whitney. How are they?"
"Julie took your cleat to the thigh, but she's fine other than that. Whitney's got a couple broken fingers, but no concussion, which is good," Carli answered and Melissa was relieved.
"I'm glad I didn't seriously hurt your players. I realize I play like I'm intending to hurt somebody, but I swear that I'm not," Melissa promised and Carli smiled at her. "It was nice seeing you one last time, game over yet?"
"Yeah, Diana and Carm tied it up," Carli said and Melissa smirked. "Also, we'll see each other again, I know it. Maybe we'll finally get to play against each other."
"Try not to concuss me," Melissa said, slipping off of the table gracefully. "I've got a girlfriend to comfort, a Whitney and a JJ to apologize to, and probably a Carm to calm down. She's a worrier."
"I could tell, she got really quiet when you went down," Carli said and Melissa hobbled off to meet her team. Carli watched her leave before going back just as the JV game was starting. She sat down next to Hope and smiled at her girlfriend as they sat together. "She's okay, but she's definitely hurt."
"At least they're all relatively okay," Hope said and Carli nodded. "I've seen smaller collisions go a lot worse than that one. Especially with JJ involved."
"Don't remind me," Carli said, cringing as she thought about JJ's big moment last season when she got knocked out and couldn't play for almost 9 months. The varsity girls were getting onto the bench again and they all watched the JV game with extreme focus. Ashlyn had her arm around Ali's shoulders, the brunette snuggling into Ashlyn's side. Kelley was practically sitting on Alex's lap, Tobin had brought Christen down to sit with them, Lauren and Amy were sitting very close, but not enough to raise suspicions, and there was a peaceful vibe over the group as they watched the soccer game.
"Tobin, you're late," Ashlyn said as she frowned at her friend. They were supposed to be having a dinner together, just Ashlyn, Tobin, and Kelley. It was less of a planned thing and more of a situation where Ali invited Alex and Christen to come hang out in her basement for the night. Tobin was glad that Christen was getting along so well with her friends. In fact, Christen had sent in an application to Stanford, which was one of the places that Kelley had applied to as well. Tobin didn't think that she'd be going to college, but then again, she was certain at the beginning of the year, she'd be a D student all year round, but Christen had really pushed her towards improvement and expecting better of herself. "Did you at least pick up dessert?"
"Yes I did and I got a couple six packs," Tobin said, holding up a large paper bag. Ashlyn took the bag from her and unloaded everything onto the little space on the counter that wasn't taken up by Kelley's meal prep. The dinner was supposed to be a very simple and Tobin could tell already that Kelley had technically stayed within the guidelines. Tobin wasn't going to complain, she could see from the food that was already done this would be the fanciest chicken nuggets and fries meal that she would ever have in her entire life.
"Aw, you got my favorite Toby," Kelley said, wrapping her arms around Tobin's neck in a hug. Kelley went to open the Oreos, but Ashlyn swatted her hand away. "Fine, we'll eat first. Did you get what I asked for?"
"Two packs, this better be worth it," Tobin said and Kelley nodded. She grabbed a bottle of beer, glad that it was still cold from the giant liquor store refrigerators. Ashlyn got one for herself and opened it with her keychain bottle opener, getting Tobin's as well. "Sorry I was late, things ran a bit late at work."
"Where do you even work?" Kelley asked and Tobin realized that she hadn't told them about Hope hiring her as a groundskeeper essentially.
"I'm helping Hope out with something," Tobin said and Kelley let her leave it at that. Ashlyn was going to question her, but Kelley handed her a plate and suddenly the blonde's mind was completely elsewhere.
"This is a safe space right?" Alex asked and everybody nodded. Alex had been living with the weight of what she had done with Ash locked up inside of her and she wanted to let it out. She wanted to so badly, but at the same time, she didn't want to ruin anything that may or may not happen between Ali and Ash. Telling her secret may also mean that Ali would hate her, Christen would think less of her, and Kyle would kill her. "Okay, so remember when I first broke up with Serv and you weren't with Ash? Well, we slept together a few times."
"Oh," Ali said and Alex nodded. "I kind of new that already though, I mean, Ash did spend a lot of time at your place."
"Ah, I see," Alex said and Ali patted her shoulder. Ali glanced at Kyle, who had remained silent, but she could tell that he was silently plotting Ashlyn's murder in his head.
"Have you gotten any dates?" Ali asked and Alex shook her head. "Were you thinking about anybody to go out with?"
"No," Alex lied, but Ali saw right through it. "Actually, there may be a really cute girl at our school that I like. We haven't really talked about anything like dating, I don't think she's into that."
"Hey, a booty call is a good thing to have on standby," Ali said and Kyle's eyes widened. "Like you weren't thinking the same thing."
"Who is she?" Kyle asked and Alex got really quiet and pale. "Come on, safe space."
"Kelley. As in, our Kelley. The dork with a million freckles, a surfboard, and a magic tongue." Alex seemed a bit shy about it, but she was also proud for getting as far with Kelley as she had. "We haven't had sex yet, but we've made out a lot and I almost got to third base. You can thank Ash for interrupting that."
"I will later, I don't think I could handle hearing about you having sex with somebody who I saw put gummy bears in her coffee," Kyle said and Ali swatted his chest.
"Go upstairs, this is girls' night," Ali said and Kyle rolled his eyes and muttered something about waiting for a text. "So, Kels?"
"Yes, but she's paranoid now, so it's gonna be all at my place." Alex seemed a bit annoyed about that last part, but she was genuinely happy that Kelley was into her. "Chris, have you gotten into bed with Tobin yet?"
"No, we haven't really talked about it. I mean, we're just now holding hands and hugging at school. Things are nice, but really slow. What if she doesn't want me like that?" Christen began to panic, but Ali swooped in to comfort her. "I mean, I hear how people talk. It'll be three months in November."
"When it's right for you, it'll be right for you," Alex said and Christen nodded. "I rushed my first time to try and keep somebody that ended up gone a few months later. I'm not trying to freak you out or anything, but don't do something you're not ready for because you think that it's why Tobin's with you. If she's waited this long, she can wait a bit longer for you to be ready for that."
"O-okay, thank you." Christen leaned forward, resting her forearms on her knees. Ali moved up next to her and soothingly rubbed her back. "I do want to have sex with Tobin, but I'm scared. I haven't done that before and what if I screw up?"
"First off, Tobin's had sex before, so she knows not to expect a pornographic performance from you. Second, if you need it, she'll talk you through it," Ali assured her and Christen nodded. "Ash went into our first time thinking that the sex would be like it was in porn."
"To be fair, wasn't that what the two of you were watching?" Alex asked and Ali nodded meekly. "Serv wanted to take me from behind and I had to shut that down really quick. Also, foreplay is important and warming lube is actual hell."
"Noted." Christen took mental notes of what they were telling her. Alex and Ali gave Christen all the sexual advice that they could until Ali began to get tired. Alex ended up being the first to fall asleep though, halfway through some random 80s movie that they found on Ali's movie shelf. Alex, Ali, and Christen were all squished onto the couch bed. Alex was on one end, laying face down with one leg hanging off the edge of the bed, Ali was in the middle of the bed, flat on her back with one of Christen's arms around her waist and the green eyed senior's head resting on her shoulder. Ali may have hated hugs, but she wasn't one to refuse a good cuddle. Christen fell asleep about 30 minutes after Alex and Ali at least finished the movie before she was out like a light.
Hope stared down at Carli. It was one of the rare moments where Hope had woken up before her girlfriend. Carli was still laying in bed, arms tucked under the pillow her head was on and the blanket down just past her shoulder blades. Hope leaned off the side of the bed and grabbed her University of Washington soccer shirt from the floor, put it on, and then got out of bed. Part of her wanted to wake Carli up, but she knew that the other woman was exhausted. Carli hadn't been sleeping overly well lately and Hope knew that it was because of their relationship. Fighting was normal, but at the same time, they had been fighting more than normal and Hope couldn't figure out why. Hope sighed and started on their breakfast, deciding that since they had a good night last night, she should keep the feeling as long as possible. She made Carli's gross, protein oatmeal healthy bullshit pancakes and then made her own, using the regular pancake mix. Hope brought the pancakes, and two cups of coffee, to their bedroom, set it on the dresser, and then ran and jumped onto the bed, narrowly missing Carli.
"Wake up, I made you breakfast," Hope said softly. She nudged Carli a couple of times and sighed when it didn't work. Carli didn't budge, aside from burying her face in her pillow a bit more. Hope leaned down and planted kisses down Carli's back as her fingers lightly traced up and down her sides. Carli squirmed a little under her, but didn't react until Hope bit down on her shoulder, harder than normal. Carli shot up and nearly knocked Hope off of the bed, but Hope caught herself. "I made you breakfast."
"You also bit me." Carli sounded emotionally hurt as she rubbed the spot where Hope had just bitten her.
"I also did nice things," Hope said as she moved to get the food for them. She handed Carli the coffee first and then her food. Carli sat up, keeping one of their blankets wrapped around her as they ate breakfast in bed. "I'm sorry that I bit you hard."
"This is really good, thank you," Carli said and Hope leaned in and kissed her. "Abby wants to know when you're gonna marry me."
"Tell her not to rush me. It's a working process," Hope said and Carli chuckled at her. "Seriously, I'll get there. I just want everything to be right for us first and I'm working for it to be right."
"What if you wait too long?" Carli asked and Hope sighed. "Hope, we're not getting any younger and there are things I want to do that will be easier when we're married."
"Kids," Hope said quietly and Carli nodded. "Give me a week tops."
"Fine, one week," Carli agree and Hope sighed as she laid her head on Carli's shoulder.
"Whoa," Alex said as she opened the door to Tobin, Ashlyn, and Kelley's place. It reeked of beer, weed, and vomit, all from one night. "One of them has to be dead."
"What the hell is that smell?" Christen asked as she stepped into the house behind Alex. Ali chuckled and put an arm around Christen's shoulders as she pushed them further into the house.
"That's bad decisions," Ali answered. Alex made her way upstairs and that was where she found the first one. Ashlyn was laying in the hallway, snoring and half-naked. Ali woke her up and noticed a bit of blood coming from her nose. "What the hell did you guys do last night?"
"I don't even know," Ash grumbled, curling into herself. Ali picked her up took her outside. It had been decided that all three of them were getting hosed off outside and then cleaning up their house to get rid of the scent of their wild night. Alex found Tobin next, leaning against the bathtub, which had a bit of vomit in it. There was too much for it to all have been Tobin's. Alex took care of getting Tobin outside if Christen promised to help with Kelley, who was always the most difficult. It took another 5 minutes to find Kelley, who ended up being on the roof. Alex got her down and Ali hosed them off before sitting all of them down and questioning them. Ashlyn didn't remember anything after she switched from beers to bubblegum vodka, Tobin's memory lapsed after Ashlyn threw up the vodka in the kitchen and then decided she was gonna skate down the stairs. Luckily, she fell before then, but it had knocked her out. Kelley remembered everything up until she and Tobin were smoking and playing hide and seek.
"How was your night?" Kelley asked, sipping on the coffee Alex had brought.
"Definitely more tame than this," Christen answered and Alex nodded. "Tobin, I'd hate to be that girlfriend, but please never fucking do that again."
"Whoa, Press strong language," Ashlyn said and Christen glared at her. It shut her up immediately, a feat which had taken Ali 6 months to figure out.
"Actually none of you do that again," Christen said and Kelley glanced up at Alex. "You could have died, if not from alcohol poisoning, from the stupid decisions you were making. I mean, skating down the stairs Ash? Why were you on the roof Kelley? You guys are my friends, I don't want to see any of you dead. Fuck!" Christen stormed off and Tobin put her head in her hands. Nobody said anything for a few moments, complete silence until Tobin sniffled.
"I'll go talk to her," Ali said, going after Christen. Alex stood in front of Tobin, Kelley, and Ashlyn, unsure of what to say to them.
"Let's just go clean up," Kelley said. Alex wasn't surprised that Kelley didn't want to dwell on the moment, she wasn't one to talk about anything. Ashlyn followed her inside immediately while Tobin just sat on the ground. Alex put an arm around her and rubbed her back.
"Congratulations," Alex said and Tobin looked up at her in confusion. Nothing about what had just happened struck Tobin as something to be congratulated for. "You just had your first fight with Christen."
"I don't like it, I don't want it to happen again." Tobin's voice was shaky and broken. Alex knew that tone, she hadn't heard it a lot, but she had heard it enough to know that Tobin would destroy herself over this if it didn't get fixed quickly. "I shouldn't have brought the beer for Kelley."
"Ali's talking to Christen. Christen cares about you and she isn't used to seeing the aftermath of a night of fun for the three of you. We'd all wish you guys would stop or make smarter decisions if you drink or smoke, but it's scarier for her. She cares about you so damn much and I know that look because I've seen it on all of your faces before. People care about you and I know that you think they don't because of your parents, but Tobin, you've got to stop that shit."
"What the fuck do you know about my parents?" Tobin asked, getting defensive. "They brought me into this world and if they don't care, why the hell would anybody else?"
"Just fucking go inside and help them clean up," Alex said softly. She didn't want to yell at Tobin, it wasn't the time or place to do that. Instead, she decided to enlist some help, somebody who could chew Tobin out in a way that would be effective and not end in them being pushed out of Tobin's life for a month.
Ali sighed as she found Christen. The 17 year old was sitting on the sidewalk about 10 blocks away from Tobin's house. Ali sat down next to Christen and noticed that she was barely holding in her tears. Ali realized that she had seen Christen with that look on her face before. It wasn't something that Ali wanted to see again, a look that if Tobin knew she caused, would cause her to beat herself up even more than she probably already was. Christen turned to her, lip quivering and Ali sighed, pulling the girl into a hug. Christen immediately broke down and Ali let her cry it out before she started talking to her.
"Do they realize how dangerous that is?" Christen asked Ali. There was a childlike confusion in her eyes, she didn't understand why somebody would want to put their life at such a risk like that. "Do they even care?"
"I can't answer those questions, but I think you're helping a lot," Ali said and Christen perked up a bit. "I mean, Tobin barely smoked cigarettes, she goes to school regularly now, and her grades are so much better than they were before. Eventually, Tobin's going to realize how much you care about her and she'll start making smarter decisions in her life. She doesn't do that stuff to hurt her, she's been doing that since she moved in with Kelley and Ash. The two of you need to talk, but don't force it. Things will start making sense soon."
"We should get back to them," Christen said and Ali nodded. The two of them stood up and walked back to Tobin's house.
"What the hell happened?" Lauren asked as she stepped into Tobin's house. She had come alone, per Alex's request. Amy hadn't been happy about that, but Lauren had promised her that she'd pick up a pizza on the way back. Lauren looked around the living room, which was still trashed and smelled terrible, despite Kelley, Ashlyn, and Tobin's clean up efforts. "I didn't know you threw a party last night."
"It was the three of them," Alex said and Lauren turned to them, shocked. "I think Christen drilled a message pretty hard into Kelley and Ash, but Tobin's upstairs."
"Got it," Lauren said, running up the stairs. She found Tobin cleaning up the bathroom and cleared her throat, getting Tobin's attention. "Before I do what Alex called me here to do, I want you to tell me why."
"Because I had a few and then I started thinking. Christen, she's going to college after school and she'll do great things. Me, I'm not going anywhere, I fucked up my life in a year because I felt abandoned. My parents stopped caring, so I decided that I wasn't going to care either. I thought about how Christen is going to realize that she was better off never having met me and then she'll leave me like they did. I just wanted to make that an easier decision for her," Tobin admitted and Lauren shut the bathroom door. Lauren sat down on the floor next to Tobin and sighed. "You're gonna yell at me aren't you?"
"No because that isn't what you need. Tobin, I still go to your house for dinner with my parents. Amy's parents go, but Amy hasn't been there since your dad kicked you out. Your mom asks me about you when I help her with the dishes. The checkups and checks they send you, aren't from both of them, it's from your mom. It's not that your dad doesn't care, it's just that he doesn't understand. I'm not excusing him, I honestly haven't respected him since you got kicked out, and I know how you feel about both of them, but know that she didn't want you kicked out," Lauren said and Tobin nodded. Lauren let out a sigh and pulled Tobin in for a hug. Both of them heard the front door open and shut and then faint voices downstairs, one distinctly Christen's. "Go talk to her, apologize for scaring her like that, and if you do it again, I'm sicing Amy on your dumb ass."
"Got it, thank you Cheney." Tobin stood up and walked out of the bathroom as Christen was coming upstairs. "Hi, can we talk?"
"Yeah, I'd really like that," Christen answered and Tobin took her into her room. "I wanna know why."
"I wanted you to leave me," Tobin said and Christen looked hurt. "You're too good for me Chris and I don't want you to fall down to my level."
"I'm a big girl Tobin, I can take care of myself and make my own decisions. Besides, I've been told a thousand times that I'm stuck with all of you, so that means that you're stuck with me, no matter what," Christen said confidently. Tobin smiled at her and hugged her, kissing her cheek as she pulled back. Christen didn't let her get too far away, holding on tightly as she whispered in her ear, "If you do that again, we're going to have serious problems, got it?"
"Absolutely." Tobin gulped nervously and Christen released her. "I'm sorry."
"I'm not saying it's fine, but we're good." Christen gave Tobin a little smile. "You've made good progress in your habits so far, I have to acknowledge that much."
"What are you doing on Halloween?" Tobin asked, trying to change the subject. Christen let her have that, knowing that emotional things stressed Tobin out a lot.
"I was going to stay in and watch a movie," Christen said and Tobin had a hopeful look on her face. "Do you want to do something?"
"Kelley and Ash are going to a party that Hilary is throwing and I was gonna go, but I think that I'd like to stay in with you. I'll buy candy and we can watch something on Netflix."
"I'd really like that," Christen said with a little smile. Tobin beamed and put an arm around Christen's shoulders. "Nothing too bad, I don't want nightmares."
"I'll be here to protect you," Tobin promised and Christen knew that she would end up being scared shitless at some point in the night. "I'll always protect you, no matter what it's from."
"I think I want to start taking the next step," Christen said and Tobin raised an eyebrow at her. "I'm not complaining about the kissing and hand holding, it's nice, but I think I wanna take things a little further."
"What makes you bring that up?" Tobin asked and Christen shrugged. "I'm not complaining, but it's a little random."
"Well, it's just that Channing and Tyler found out that we're dating and told my parents. They haven't said anything, but they do want you to come over for dinner. I was just thinking that if you agreed to take that step for me, I could take one for you too," Christen said nervously. "Are you okay with meeting my family?"
"Sure, when?" Tobin asked and Christen looked at her phone.
"In about 45 minutes," Christen said and Tobin froze for a moment. "They said I'm not staying over tonight if we don't show up for dinner."
"Christen, I'm going to put something on that doesn't make me look like an asshole and then we can get going," Tobin said and Christen leaned forward on the couch, following Tobin a little. Christen stopped her before she got too far and pulled Tobin down for a kiss. "We can talk about what steps forward with us you're okay with taking after dinner."
"Okay, well, I think you can give me a couple more kisses," Christen said and Tobin nodded. Tobin raced upstairs when Christen had finally let her go, she used some of Kelley's dry shampoo that probably really belonged to Alex and then changed into nice clothes. Christen was grabbing her keys when Tobin came back downstairs and she smiled, thinking Tobin looked cute. "Your shirt is tucked in."
"I know," Tobin said as Christen linked her arms. Christen drove them to her house and Tobin was nervous and quiet the whole way there. Christen let them sit in the parked car for a couple moments before she kissed Tobin's cheek and got out. Tobin followed her up, holding onto Christen's hand.
"Relax," Christen said before going inside. "Okay, we're here."
"What took you so long Chris?" Channing asked with a little smirk on her face. "Traffic?"
"No, we just left like 15 minutes ago," Christen said, glancing back at Tobin. She looked miserable, normally she was so cool and confident, but this was making her nervous. Parents didn't tend to like her and she desperately wanted Christen's to. Christen got Tobin a place at the table, realizing they had missed out on most of dinner. "Sorry it took so long, she had to get ready. I forgot to tell her."
"It's fine sweetie," Stacy said, putting a comforting hand on Christen's shoulder. "Tobin, honey, you can relax. We just wanted to talk to the two of you. You're very young and we just want to make sure both of you are making good decisions."
"I'd never do anything to put your daughter in danger, I swear." Christen could hear the honesty in Tobin's voice and it made her heart melt a little. Christen knew that it was early, but she was absolutely in love with Tobin Heath. Christen's parents could see it in their daughter's eyes, which scared both of them. "She's the best thing that's ever happened to me. It sounds dramatic I know, but it's true."
"Are you two hungry?" Cody asked, getting up to get some of the leftovers so they could eat. Christen took Tobin into the kitchen to get some food and then they sat back at the table. Cody was impressed with the amount of food that Tobin was able to put down, which at this point Christen was just used to. "Are you an athlete?"
"I used to play soccer, but then I left the team because of some personal stuff. I might play in the summer club," Tobin answered and Christen smiled at her. "Please don't tell Alex, she'll never get off my case about it if she finds out. She's still teasing me about the school thing."
"You know, you haven't missed a day since you got sick," Christen said and Tobin shrugged. "I'm really proud of you. Especially since you didn't get in any fights when you got back."
"The Servando boy?" Cody asked and Tobin nodded.
"He used to date one of our friends, Alex. It's been a struggle not to do something when I pass him in the hallways," Tobin said and Christen rubbed circles on her back. "I still think that you should have let Alex, Kelley, Lauren, Julie, and I go talk to him."
"Absolutely not because no words would have been exchanged," Christen pointed out and Tobin gave her a look. "No more fighting, you look out for me and I appreciate it, but this is my way of looking out for you. I'll yell at you again if I have to."
"Please don't," Tobin said, giving Christen puppy dog eyes. Overall, the dinner with Christen's parents went well. There was no shovel talk, both of her parents trusted Tobin not to hurt their daughter. Christen made Tobin take a picture with her in the car before they left to get snacks for their movie night. "Did that go well?"
"I'm going to your place for the night am I not?" Christen gave Tobin a cheeky smile as she pulled out of the driveway. "So, um, about my steps with you."
"You don't have to do anything if you don't want to," Tobin told Christen. There was something in her eyes that Christen didn't really recognize, but she liked it. "Seriously, I'm happy to do whatever you want to."
"That's nice and really sweet, but I can tell that you want more Tobin. I don't know how much more, but I can almost feel it when we kiss. I want more too, I just don't know how much I can give you right now," Christen said and Tobin glanced out at the sky as the sun was setting. Tobin untucked her shirt before they went into the store and unbuttoned a few buttons from the top and bottom. Tobin's arm was around Christen the entire time and occasionally Tobin would press little kisses to the side of Christen's face. "Can I tell you something?"
"You can tell me anything," Tobin promised her and Christen nodded. She got really red and Tobin wasn't sure what was going to come out of her mouth.
"I think you're hot, like really hot," Christen said and Tobin hadn't been expecting that. "I think you're beautiful too, but I want you to know that I think you're hot."
"Um, thanks," Tobin said, unsure of what to do with the compliment. "Sometimes you're full of surprises Press."
"It can't be a surprise that a girl finds you hot," Christen said with a chuckle. "Especially if that girl is your girlfriend."
"I didn't expect it, that's all." Tobin pulled Christen against her a little and kissed her shoulder. Christen leaned back into Tobin's arms, smiling a bit. They finished their shopping and then went back to Tobin's for their movie marathon. Tobin kept it simple with the classics, which she was certain wouldn't scare Christen. If they did, it wouldn't be too badly.
"Can I borrow some shorts or something?" Christen asked and Tobin nodded. Tobin laid back on the couch and unbuttoned her shirt the rest of the way, laying her hand on her stomach as she waited for Christen so she could press play. Christen came back down in a pair of spandex shorts and a tank top that had been forgotten in the bottom drawer of Tobin's dresser. "Now you're hotter."
"Says you," Tobin said and Christen settled onto her lap. Tobin started the movie and ran her fingers through Christen's hair, playing with the curls. Tobin realized what she had been doing and then stopped it halfway through the movie.
"Why'd you stop?" Christen whined and Tobin went right back. "Thank you. If you want, I'll do it for you during the next movie."
"It's whatever." Tobin tried to play it cool, but knew she was failing. She wanted Christen to run her fingers through her hair and maybe brush against the side of her neck sometimes. True to her word, Christen switched places with Tobin and ran her fingers through her hair throughout the entire movie. Tobin took her shirt off a quarter of the way through the second movie and Christen's other hand moved up and down her back. Tobin could feel herself getting sleepy and she had nearly fallen asleep, but Kelley and Ashlyn came barging in through the door very loudly.
"LET'S FUCKING PLAY SOME GAMES MOTHERFUCKERS!" Ashlyn yelled as Kelley screamed. They were both obviously a little tipsy and Ali and Alex looked exhausted as they walked into the house.
"Shut up," Ali hissed, slapping Ashlyn's shoulder. Alex put her hand over Kelley's mouth and Kelley licked her hand until she removed it. Tobin and Christen ended up going up to Tobin's room and laying down there, Tobin putting on a movie for them up there.
"You tired?" Christen asked and Tobin nodded. "I can tell, you almost fell asleep downstairs. If you want, I can do it again until you fall asleep."
"Nope, I gotta be the big spoon in case they walk in here," Tobin said seriously. Christen rolled her eyes and laid down in Tobin's arms. Christen turned around about 20 minutes into them laying there and put her hands on Tobin's stomach, feeling her abs. "Handsy."
"I didn't get a chance to earlier." Christen pouted and Tobin quickly kissed her. "Wanna skip school tomorrow?"
"Now that your parents know about us, I'd like to try and be a good influence," Tobin said and Christen pouted at her. "Who are you and what have you done with my girlfriend?"
"I just, want to have a day to ourselves. We never get that and now my parents know about us along with my sisters, it's out of the question at my place," Christen said and Tobin ran her hand down Christen's arm. "It's nearly impossible here."
"I'll make them leave Saturday. We'll be all alone and do whatever you want," Tobin promised, kissing Christen's forehead. Christen smiled at that before kissing Tobin and turning back around. Christen fell asleep first and Tobin was hit with a brick wall of feelings towards her. Tobin loved her friends, but it wasn't like the love that she felt for Christen Press.
"Tobin, you asshole," Kelley said as she laid her head down against the lunch table. Tobin had forced both Kelley and Ashlyn to go to school, claiming that they shouldn't drink if they can't handle functioning the next day. After Tobin and Christen had went upstairs, with Alex and Ali's supervision, Ashlyn and Kelley had gotten shitfaced. "I think my head will explode if I have to stay the rest of the day."
"Don't drink on school nights," Tobin said and Kelley reached out to punch her. Tobin easily blocked it since Kelley was moving slower than normal and scooted over to make room with Christen to sit with them. "Hey, so Saturday I'm gonna need everybody out of the house."
"Gonna fuck finally?" Kelley asked and Alex was the one to hit Kelley on the back of the head. "I might be concussed now."
"Kelley shut up, just find somewhere to go Saturday," Tobin said and Kelley groaned.
"You can stay with me, my parents are taking my sisters to Disney," Alex said and Kelley gave her a small nod.
"Ali, babe, can I stay with you?" Ashlyn asked and Ali raised an eyebrow at her. "What?"
"Ali, babe?" Ali repeated and Ashlyn's ears turned red.
"Maybe I'm still a little drunk," Ashlyn said and Ali put an arm around her shoulders.
"Yeah, maybe you are," Ali said and Ashlyn glanced down at her lap. "You can totally stay with me Saturday. Kyle's gonna be hanging out with some guy and my parents are going on a little trip to get away from us."
"Cool, everybody has a place to go. Your parents will be cool with you coming over right?" Tobin asked and Christen nodded.
"They trust us," Christen said with a little smile.
"Simple mistake, everybody makes one eventually," Kelley joked and Tobin fake laughed as she took Kelley's sunglasses and threw them behind her. Kelley scrambled to get them behind her, cursing Tobin as she did.
Saturday came both too quickly and too slowly for Tobin. Christen had arrived at 10, an hour after Ali and Alex had taken Ashlyn and Kelley to their houses. The first hour and a half was spent on the couch, Christen laying on Tobin's lap as Tobin played a video game. Tobin ordered them a pizza for lunch and showed Christen some of her paintings and photographs that she took. Tobin was surprised to know that Christen could skate and took a few pictures and videos of that before the pizza came. Tobin took pictures of everything they did together for the rest of the day. It wasn't a lot, but they would make Tobin really happy when she went to look through them later.
"C'mere," Christen said, pulling Tobin on top of her. "Why me?"
"I don't know why initially, but you make me really happy and I, uh, I love you," Tobin said and Christen's jaw dropped. Tobin was afraid that she'd fucked up, but then Christen broke into a giant, dorky smile.
"You love me?" Christen asked in disbelief. Tobin nodded and Christen put her hands on the sides of Tobin's face. "That's great because I love you too. I was so scared that it was too soon for me to love you, but I feel so much better now."
"So, um, what now?" Tobin asked awkwardly.
"Well, we get some rest because I have to leave early tomorrow," Christen said and Tobin nodded.
"Sounds good to me." Tobin kissed Christen softly and let Christen pull the comforter over them.
"Hey Tobin, guess what."
"I love you."
"I love you too nerd."
Christen grabbed Tobin's hand and excitedly led her into the hockey rink. Tonight was the first girls' game and Christen was dead set on coming to every single game she could. The entire team had been really nice to Christen and had managed to keep Tobin out of trouble on multiple occasions. Tobin zipped up her jacket a bit and went over to get them food from concessions while Christen went to talk to some of the players. Hilary, Amanda, Kacey were listening to something their captain was saying while Decker was hardcore flirting (successfully) with one of the opposing team's players. Decker was the one who came over to Christen, bringing the girl she'd been flirting with as well. Christen smiled at the hockey player as she literally lifted Christen up in a hug. Decker may have been small, but she was definitely one of the physically strongest people Christen knew.
"Hey Pressy, you made it," Decker said happily. "This is Natalie Spooner, she's the co-captain of the other team. Natalie, this is Christen Press, probably the smartest person I know."
"Nice to meet you," Christen said and Natalie shook her hand. Natalie's handshake was firm, firm enough for Christen to try and discreetly cradle her hand afterwards.
"It's nice to meet you too." Natalie put an arm around Decker's shoulders and rested her head on the side of the blonde's. "My other captain should be here soon. I think she's off the bus now."
"I thought I saw her and Zickel arguing earlier," Decker said and Natalie nodded. "You'd think that she'd realize Zoe is a maniac when it comes to Bells."
"Wait, I think I see her," Natalie said, craning her neck up to try and see something. "Yep, she's with Johnny, I'm gonna go keep them out of trouble."
"Alright, see you on the ice," Decker wiggled her eyebrows and Natalie kissed her cheek before running off. "Aren't I just the luckiest? I mean, we're going really well, my exes are civil, and I'm gonna get Tobin to buy me nachos."
"Are you now?" Christen asked and Decker nodded. "I'm asking aren't I?"
"Well, I don't hold that kind of power over the lady," Decker said with a hopeful smile and Christen texted Tobin. Less than 5 minutes later, Tobin was at Christen's side with Decker's nachos. "Thanks guys, I'm gonna go get dressed."
"We're gonna find seats," Christen said and Tobin started walking towards the ice. Christen found Hilary and Amanda to wish them good luck and then went to her seat. Amanda's brothers, Phil and Blake were already there and Tobin was having them explain the game to them a bit before it started. Tobin liked soccer and basketball, those were the sports for her, but if Christen was taking her to hockey games, she sure as hell was going to try and understand that one too. Ashlyn texted Tobin, letting her know that they weren't gonna make it to the game, but Kelley ended up showing up halfway through the first period with Alex and all of their siblings.
"Not a huge crowd," Kelley said as she sat down.
"It's sad because I've seen these girls play better than the guys before," Phil said, leaning forward to talk to Kelley. "Phil Kessel, Mandy's older brother."
"Kelley O'Hara, sometimes I work out with Hilary."
"The last time you guys worked out together, she was benching you," Alex said and Kelley nodded.
"I'm great for strength building," Kelley said proudly. Alex rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to the game. Kelley was unable to do one thing at a time, so she watched the game while distracting Alex. Kelley kept her hand on the inside of Alex's thigh the entire time, occasionally moving her hand back and forth. Alex knew that it was her body's way to trying to get rid of energy, but it didn't change the effect that it was having on her. By the 3rd period, the game was tied up 2-2, all 4 goals from the second period. Hilary had almost gotten the first goal, but it had gotten blocked and instead the other team's captain, Marie-Philip Poulin had scored the first goal of the night. It was an assist from Hilary for Amanda that had gotten the home team their first goal. Phil and Blake had celebrated more than Amanda and Hilary had, embarrassing the junior who was visibly red from the stands. Decker had gotten a ridiculous long shot in the last 5 minutes and it had taken the other team 4 minutes and 50 seconds to tie it up again with a goal from Spooner.
The third period was an intense one. The puck just went back and forth from one side to the other for 18 minutes. With 2 minutes left, everybody was on the edge of their seat as Poulin raced down the ice, avoiding literally everybody to get a shot. It went past Rigsby and hit the back of the net. If stakes hadn't been up before, they definitely were now. Kacey got the puck to Monique Lamoureux, who tied them up again with a little over a minute left. Everybody on both sides worked hard to get the puck and keep it. Phil was on the edge of his seat as Amanda carried the puck down the ice before passing back to Kacey, who immediately shot it off into the back of the net from pretty far out. The buzzer sounded to end the game after that shot went in and Amanda raced back to Kacey.
"Em, stop," Lindsey giggled as Emily started kissing her neck. Emily heard the front door open and she sat up, smiling at Mal, Sam, and Rose.
"Where's Kristie?" Emily asked, noticing that Sam's older sister was gone.
"Going to Rachel's," Sam said with a slight look of disgust.
"They were on the phone the entire car ride," Mal said and Sam shuddered a bit. "Rachel told Kristie that she was gonna be owing her another pair of leggings."
"Please never say those words again," Sam said and Mal laughed. "I'll never be able to look either of them in the eye again."
"I'd be more upset that Kristie was wearing a pair of your leggings to Rachel's," Rose said and Sam flopped onto the couch next to Lindsey. "What were you guys up to?"
"Nothing," Emily said nonchalantly. "Got a text from Kel about the game, it was 4-3. Good start to the season."
"They practice 24/7," Lindsey said, a little coldly. Emily grabbed her hand and leaned into her a bit. It was too late though, Lindsey was gonna be moody for the rest of the night at least. "I think I'm gonna go to sleep, my head hurts a bit."
"Nice going Sonnett," Mal said, punching Emily's shoulder.
"Hey, let's go home," Emily said, pulling Lindsey off of the couch. Lindsey grabbed the bag that had both of their clothes in it, said goodbye, and followed Emily outside. Emily drove a couple blocks away and pulled over. "God, you're so jealous."
"I'm not jealous," Lindsey lied and Emily leaned over to kiss Lindsey's cheek. Lindsey didn't respond at all, so Emily moved down to her neck like she had been earlier. Lindsey wasn't sure how she did it, but Emily managed to make it tickle more than it turned her on. Lindsey knew Emily could kiss her neck and turn her on, but she wasn't aiming for that now. Lindsey giggled and Emily moved to kiss her lips. Emily broke the kiss and turned the car back on, starting her drive to Lindsey's house. "Why not your place?"
"Emma is having her friends over," Emily said and Lindsey understood then. Emily and Emma's friends didn't necessarily not get along, but they made it difficult for Emily to make out with Lindsey in private. "I'm sorry I upset you by mentioning her."
"It's fine I guess. I just don't get why you still talk to her, I mean she was an asshole to you." Lindsey unbuckled as Emily pulled into her driveway and the two of them sat in the car for a moment. "I'll fight her if she ever fucking hurts you again."
"Aggressive, I like it," Emily said, leaning in to kiss Lindsey. "Also, she's my friend, we're a lot alike."
"Be careful around her though," Lindsey said and Emily nodded. Emily opened her car door and waited for Lindsey to open hers before locking it. "Be quiet, they're sleeping."
"I know the drill," Emily said with a little smirk. They snuck into Lindsey's house and once they were in Lindsey's room, Sonnett laid down on the bed. "What are we watching?"
"I'm actually really tired, so I was hoping to sleep," Lindsey said and Emily sighed, but got under the blankets anyways. Lindsey laid down next to Emily and the two of them moved around a little until their bodies were laying perfectly against the other's.
"You don't think she's mad at me do you?" Decker asked as she sat down on Kacey's lap. Zoe gave her a side eye, but Decker didn't move, sighing as Kacey tickled her back. It had worked to ease Decker's mind since she was a little kid; Kacey knew every step to take to calm Brianna Decker down from almost anything. "I mean, we've faced off against each other before in games, but we were never really close like we are now."
"Spooner isn't going to ghost you because you beat her," Meghan said and Decker looked to Kacey to confirm that. Kacey nodded and Decker sighed. "It's late and they're getting back home now. Give her some time to at least process the loss."
"I'm just worried that things are ruined," Decker said sadly. Kacey pulled Decker against her with one arm and used the other to hold her hand. "Thanks Kace." Decker yawned as the exhaustion began to catch up to her. "I'm gonna miss you next year."
"Shut up," Hilary said, throwing an empty beer can at Decker. It got really quiet for a moment, nobody knowing what to say or do.
"Don't throw cans at me," Decker said quietly. She picked the can up and was about to throw it when Kacey took it out of her hand and tossed it to Meghan, who threw it away.
"Your biggest problem when we leave is that you're gonna get in so many fights," Meghan said with a chuckle. It was true, Decker would definitely be fighting some people next year that she had wanted to since before high school had even started.
"No because Zickel and I won't let it happen," Amanda said, smiling softly.
"I might fight her myself," Zoe said and Kacey tapped Decker's thigh. Zoe took Decker's spot when she got up to answer her phone.
"Seriously though, next year look out for her. She's gonna have a hard time, she already is," Kacey said, kissing Zoe's cheek. Zoe and Amanda nodded, glancing at Decker who was standing inside on the phone. She was smiling as she leaned against a counter. "Also, the closer it gets to us leaving, the more time I'm gonna have to spend with her."
"I know," Zoe said quietly. Kacey would be there for everybody because that was how she was, she'd just give Decker as much of her time as the junior needed before she was gone. "You care a lot about your friends, it's part of why it's so easy to love you."
"Do you have to invite her?" Amy asked, staring at Lauren's back. They had just gotten back from a pretty ridiculous practice. Amy didn't know whose idea it was to challenge Carli to an endurance test, but they deserved to burn in the worst circle of Hell. Amy had made it farther than she had expected, but was beaten by Alyssa. Literally everybody, including Carli herself, was surprised that Alyssa managed to match her lap for lap. Amy made it to the top ten, but Alex and Syd were the other ones in the top 3. Lauren had fallen out at 15th, literally collapsing on the track.
"Amy, we're not arguing about this, Tobin's coming over for Thanksgiving and that's final," Lauren said and Amy huffed.
"Then I'm not coming," Amy said, crossing her arms. Amy would have left, but she didn't want to leave Lauren home alone while she was barely functioning.
"If this is how you're gonna act just leave," Lauren said, wheezing a little. "Seriously Amy, get out of here. We agreed you'd be civil and at least try, but I can tell you aren't fucking trying. Don't come back or even call me until you can get over your pride enough to actually try being nice to Tobin."
"You're not serious, you can't be serious," Amy said and Lauren sat up. She was still flushed pretty badly, not breathing properly anymore, and was starting to get a little shaky. "If I go, I'm dropping you off at the ER or at Alex's."
"I'm fine," Lauren said and Amy shook her head. Lauren started coughing and Amy used that distraction to take her. Amy walked Lauren into the waiting room and then filled the forms out while they took Lauren back almost immediately. Amy left after that and went back to her house. She went upstairs and wondered whether or not it was worth it to be fighting with Lauren like she was. It was dumb, and was Amy about to let Tobin ruin her best relationship yet? Lauren was the girl of Amy's dreams and she'd wanted to marry her since they were 4, Amy still had the drawings in the bottom drawer of her desk, not that Lauren would ever know. Amy sighed, grabbed Lauren's car keys, and then drove to Tobin's. She knocked on Tobin's door, hoping that Tobin would be home.
"Can I help you?" Tobin asked and Amy took a deep breath.
"Lauren wants you to come to Thanksgiving at her parents' place. Your parents won't know about it or anything, and it would mean a lot to Lauren. Look, I don't like you, we know that, but I really love her and if she wants you there, I'll extend my hand in a truce," Amy said, literally holding her hand out. Tobin shook it and pulled Amy into a hug. "Don't push it and get in the car, we're going to the hospital."
"Why?" Tobin was a little freaked out, well more than a little freaked out. Amy just got into the car and waited for Tobin to follow her. Tobin did and Amy explained everything on the way there. "She was fine when you left?"
"Yeah, Hope and Carli took care of her there and told me to keep an eye on her. She had been fine for almost 30 minutes, but then we started talking about Thanksgiving and I said I wouldn't go if you did. She told me to leave and then got pretty bad pretty fast," Amy said and Tobin nodded slowly. There was a statement left unsaid in between them, but neither of them had to hear it to know. "It was my first thought too. What if I put her life in danger?"
"She's gonna be fine, you didn't put her life in danger. It could have literally anytime," Tobin said and Amy gripped the steering wheel tighter as they walked back into the hospital. The receptionist informed them that Lauren was now in an actual room, being monitored and let them go up to see her. Amy sprinted to Lauren's room, but stood at the door, unable to step in. "Hey, you can do this."
"No, you first," Amy said and Tobin walked in first. Amy sat down in the hallway, trying to find the will to walk in there and apologize, but couldn't. Tobin sat down in the chair next to Lauren's bed and smiled at the girl who seemed a little loopy with sedatives.
"They give you the good stuff?" Tobin asked with a chuckle. Lauren nodded a little and looked at the door. She had been waiting for Amy to come up, but the blonde had yet to come see her. "Amy's in the hall, this is a little too familiar to her I think."
"Except she's in your shoes now," Lauren said with a dry laugh. "I want you to come to Thanksgiving, my parents agreed not to let your dad know. I'll pick you up, I was gonna have you ride with Amy, but she's gotten herself uninvited from my house indefinitely."
"You don't mean that and we both know it. The second the loopiness wears off, you'll be calling her. Also, she already told me and we've begun a truce. For real this time," Tobin said and Lauren smiled. "Have the doctors called your parents?"
"They let me do it in the ER. My mom called Hope, who should be on her way," Lauren said and Tobin nodded. Tobin waited with Lauren for about 20 minutes before Hope and Amy walked in. By then, Lauren's mind was a bit clearer and she seemed to be doing just fine. Amy ran to Lauren and hugged her, careful not to disturb anything that she was hooked up to. The second Lauren put her arm around Amy, the blonde started crying. "Hey, it's fine baby. It's fine, I'm fine."
"You do realize that this means you're out of practice for 3 months right?" Hope asked and Lauren nodded. "You're gonna take it easy and I mean it."
"It's random," Lauren said, trying to talk Hope out of the practice ban.
"Cheney, I'll bench you for the tournament season if I have to," Hope said and Lauren shook her head. "Three months, if you practice, you don't work yourself too hard. If you practice, you sit out in gym. Do you understand?"
"Yes ma'am," Lauren answered, a little grumbly.
"Good, just a warning, your teammates are on their way here," Hope said and Lauren nodded. "As well as Kelley and Christen. So, rest up a little now, I don't know how much time you have."
"Got it, thank you," Lauren said and Hope stepped outside. She stayed in the hallway and Tobin followed her. "It's not your fault that this happened. If anything, it was an aftershock from what happened at practice."
"What happened at practice?" Amy asked and Lauren didn't want to tell her. Lauren didn't want to tell Amy that she wouldn't be at practice until January at the earliest, she didn't want to tell Amy that she'd be wearing a heart monitor again until graduation, and she sure as fuck didn't want to tell her that her heart had stopped beating for at least 10 seconds. "Lauren, please."
"It stopped for 10 seconds at practice. It stopped here for 3, that's why they're making me stay for the week," Lauren said and Amy's lip quivered. That was the worst for Lauren to see, the bit where Amy wanted so badly to break down, but she didn't because she didn't want to make the situation worse. "It's okay, precautions are being taken so that it doesn't happen for a long time. Tonight, I want you to stay with somebody. Tomorrow, you can come see me, but no earlier than 9:30. Monday, you're going to school and after that, you can come see me again. Don't change up your schedule because of this."
"Okay," Amy said and Lauren kissed her cheek. "Can I stay until visiting hours get done?"
"Yes, you can," Lauren said, holding onto Amy's hand.
"Tobin said she doesn't mind going to Christen's for the night," Kelley said as Amy walked into her house.
"No, it's fine, I should get used to spending time around Tobin. Lauren's gonna ask me to and after this, I don't think I can refuse her anything," Amy said and Kelley pulled her into a hug. "She's playing it off like nothing's really wrong, which scares me."
"How much worse is it than when Tobin and her got into that fight?" Kelley asked and Amy thought back to that. Lauren's heart hadn't actually stopped then, it had just gotten a little screwy for a few weeks. This was, in Amy's not so expert opinion, much worse than that.
"It stopped twice in the span of 2 hours," Amy said and Kelley got really quiet. "Can we talk about something else?"
"Totally," Kelley said and Amy smiled at her. "So, um, I think I wanna have sex with Alex."
"I think you told me this our freshman year, our sophomore year, our junior year, and about six times in first period," Amy said with an amused look on her face. "You also told me once when you were shitfaced that you loved Alex so much, you'd stick firecrackers in your eyes and light them if she asked you to. That was really concerning because it was on the 4th of July and we had a bucket of firecrackers."
"I'm really glad that you didn't let me near them," Kelley said and Amy nodded. "So, any loves in your life?"
"Yeah, my girlfriend, Cheney," Amy said and Kelley choked on her water.
"Cheney likes girls," Kelley said in disbelief. It wasn't necessarily a far out idea, but Kelley, like pretty much everybody that knew her, had a huge crush on Cheney.
"Cheney likes me, so lay off," Amy said and Kelley sighed.
"It makes sense she'd immediately pick you as her first girlfriend. I mean, you two did once plan a wedding in third grade. Actually, I think you got married right?" Kelley asked and Amy nodded.
"We used Ring Pops as the rings. She's got the ring part on her dresser," Amy said fondly. "I couldn't figure out what was so special about that until now. Mine's in my dresser next to the wedding plans I made when we became best friends."
"When you get married, I wanna be a bridesmaid," Kelley said, leaning against Amy's side.
"Of course, but it's a bit early to plan our actual wedding," Amy said, sighing. "Also, I'm too tired right now. Lauren has to be here and get better so we can have an argument about yellow dresses that'll end in us making out."
"Who's gonna want yellow dressed?" Kelley asked and Amy shrugged. "Gross."
Amy scrambled for her phone as she heard it vibrate on the table next to her. She had been staying with Kelley, Ashlyn, and Tobin for almost a full week now. Lauren and Amy's parents had both agreed to let Amy stay over with Lauren for the first couple of weeks after her release since the blonde hadn't missed a day of school or an assignment. Amy would have to spend the weekend before Lauren's release at her own home though. Amy checked the number and smiled when she saw Lauren's name on the screen. It had been up for debate whether or not Lauren would be coming back in the next week or not. If so, Amy would pack up her bags and go straight home then and there.
"Hey, baby, I have to tell you something." Lauren didn't sound good. She sounded healthy, but like there was something heavy on her mind.
"You can tell me whatever," Amy said, trying not to let Lauren's tone deter her happiness from getting to talk to her girlfriend. "Do I need to come there and see you?"
"No, but you can go back to your parents' place. I'm getting released Tuesday and I kind of want you to skip school that day."
"That sounds great." Lauren could hear Amy's smile through the phone. She felt a pang of guilt in her chest for what she was about to tell Amy, but if she couldn't tell her girlfriend her news, how would she tell the rest of the team and her coaches. She felt like she would be letting them all down, but then again, it was out of her control. "Is there something else you wanna tell me babe?"
"The doctor said I can't play soccer anymore. He said that it's too great of a risk for me to keep playing right now. I have to make it 9 months without any sort of incident before I can play on any team again," Lauren said and Amy didn't say anything. Lauren could hear shifting on the other side of the phone, but nothing else. "Baby, are you okay?"
"You shouldn't be asking me if I'm okay. I should be asking you if you're okay," Amy said and Lauren chuckled. "Can I come see you for lunch today?"
"Definitely, I'd really like that. Christen's here to help me with a science paper, I'll see you in a few hours. I love you baby."
"I love you too Lauren," Amy said and Lauren hung up the phone. Amy flopped back against the couch she'd been sleeping on for the past week and tried to wrap her head around everything. The only thing that bothered her was how calmly Lauren delivered the news to her. If Amy had been told she wouldn't be able to finish out their season or play for nine months in general, she would have been freaking out. Amy felt herself start to cry, but once she realized that she wasn't crying for herself, she felt even worse. She should have been crying for Lauren, but instead she was crying because she wouldn't get to step onto the pitch with her girlfriend again. Lauren had already been accepted to UCLA and Amy was still scrambling a little for a college in California to go to. She had been rejected by UCLA, getting her letter the day before Lauren had gotten her acceptance letter. Lauren had applied before Amy had, before their junior year was even over. She had applied with Jrue, both of them getting in and then breaking up less than 3 months later.
"Hey, is everything okay with Lauren?" Tobin asked as she walked down the stairs. The first she had noticed was Amy crying and then immediately after, she had seen the phone in Amy's hand. It had to have something to do with Lauren, hopefully nothing too dire.
"I'll let her tell you. I gotta get home, she's coming back Tuesday. I won't be at school then," Amy said and Tobin nodded. "Thank you for letting me stay here Tobin, even though I've been an ass to you."
"I started it," Tobin said, hugging Amy tightly. "If you need anything call me."
"Definitely, and it'd be kind of nice if you joined Christen at my place Sunday night," Amy said and Tobin smiled, nodding.
"I'll be there," Tobin promised and Amy packed up her things and went back to her house.
"Have you had to do this before?" Hope asked Abby and she nodded. "Well, I hate it. It's terrible."
"Aw, you care about the players," Abby said and Hope punched her in the side. "I'll let it slide because you actually care about somebody other than Carli and one of those delinquents."
"If it was Alex and Syd constantly in shit, you'd bail them too," Carli said and Abby just sighed, not having an argument. "Besides, Hope cares about a lot of things and people."
"Carli, I love you, but I am begging you to shut up," Hope said and Carli rolled her eyes. "Of course I care about the girls, don't act like it's a shock assholes. I have gotten every single girl on our team out of some sort of trouble."
"Which is impressive seeing how much trouble you've gotten yourself into," Abby said with a laugh. Hope pushed her into a wall and walked into Lauren's hospital room, Carli immediately behind her. Abby took a couple more seconds to get there due to having actually fallen when Hope pushed her. They were all relieved to see Lauren looking healthy and not, well, dead.
"What's the deal Cheney?" Hope asked, crossing her arms over her chest. Lauren's mother had called them and told them Lauren wanted to tell them something and that it was urgent. Lauren had sent her mother away after that call, wanting to get that over with and then wanting her private lunch with Amy.
"I'm not playing when I come back, they said I have to go 9 months without any sort of incident and then I can be put back on a team," Lauren said and Hope nodded. "If I can't make it nine months without an incident, I won't get to play."
"Alright, well, you might not be playing or practicing, but you are a part of this team," Hope said and Lauren's eyes began to water. "Hey, you're not allowed to cry. Carli tell her she's not allowed to cry."
"Hope, go take a walk honey," Carli said and Hope walked out before Lauren began to actually cry. Soccer was her dream and there was a chance she'd never get to play again. "We are all here for you when you need us. You aren't alone, no matter where you go. I want you to know that. You're allowed to cry by the way, but Hope will probably leave if you do."
"Either that or she'll go in the corner and cry herself," Abby said and Carli nodded. "Emotional stuff doesn't really go over well with her."
"We're working on it," Carli promised and Lauren let out a little chuckle. "If you want, we'll find you a new spot on the team."
"Thank you," Lauren said and Carli waited for Hope to come back. Abby left a little early to meet her girlfriend and Hope walked in with Amy, both of them holding Bomb Pops. "Where did you go?"
"I found her walking alongside the road," Amy said and Carli sighed. "I assume you told them."
"Yeah and I'll tell the team on Wednesday at morning practice," Lauren said and Amy sighed. "This time you can't run away from it Hope."
"She can and will if she wants to, trust me," Carli said with an exasperated sigh. Hope put her arms around Carli and the slightly younger woman stole a bite of Hope's popsicle. "Come on, let's go. You need a nap."
"I'm not a child," Hope argued and Carli cleared her throat. "But I am kind of tired."
"Bye girls," Carli said, pulling Hope out of the hotel room.
"Can we stop to go shopping?" Hope asked and Carli nodded. They pulled into one of the supermarkets and Hope grabbed a cart. It was practically empty, so Hope wasn't to worried about running into a parent. That also meant that Hope could be a little extra lovey with Carli. Hope was behind Carli as Carli steered them around the store. Carli got some healthy foods and then took Hope to get the things she normally did. Carli normally would have told Hope no on some of the things, but she could tell that Hope was stressed and needed something.
"Hey Solo," Kelley said, stepping in front of Hope and Carli's cart.
"Hey Kel," Hope said, distracted.
"You guys go see Lauren?" Kelley asked and Hope nodded. "Oh, I heard she's getting out Tuesday."
"Yeah, she is," Hope said and Kelley smiled. "Amy's excited about it."
"I bet she is. Amy sits by her phone and waits for Lauren to call or text her at the house," Kelley said and Hope frowned. "She's been getting along with Tobin though, so that's really nice."
"Finally, it's always felt weird seeing them not get along," Carli said and Kelley grabbed the two boxes of cookies that Hope had picked out and set them back on the shelf.
"Get the frosted ones, they taste better and I marked them down myself," Kelley said, stepping onto the ladder to grab two boxes. "Thank me Monday."
"Bye Kel," Hope said and Kelley let Hope get to the end of the aisle before chasing her down and hugging her. Hope hugged her back and then Kelley let her go back to Carli. "What?"
"I think you both needed that," Carli said and Hope shrugged. Hope grabbed a bottle of wine and a 24-pack of beer before setting them both in the cart. "You hate wine."
"Yeah, but you don't," Hope said, kissing Carli's cheek. "And that's what matters."
"I love you," Carli said, turning around to put her arms around Hope's neck.
"I love you too," Hope said, letting Carli kiss her. In that moment, neither of them cared whether or not they got caught by a parent, student, or coworker. Hope got to kiss her girlfriend in public, something she hadn't thought would be possible with Carli for the longest time.
"It was weird, seeing her like that," Kelley said as she sat down with her sandwich. "So, I just did what I thought would make her feel a little better and hugged her."
"That was sweet Kel," Alex said and Kelley shrugged. "I think you're a lot sweeter than people give you credit for."
"Yeah, especially Lindsey," Kelley said and Alex shook her head. "I've kind of ruined any chance of a relationship here."
"Not every chance," Alex said and Kelley leaned forward a bit.
"What are you not telling me Alex?" Kelley asked and Alex contemplated revealing her feelings. It could destroy them, but then again, Kelley had yet to sleep with her, despite the chances was not a Kelley O'Hara move.
"I mean, who are you really close to that's definitely single, knows pretty much everything about you and what you've done, has shown time their attraction to you, and you haven't even asked out yet?" Alex asked and Kelley thought on it, really confused.
"You've lost me Alex," Kelley said and Alex groaned. Kelley was a bit taken aback by that reaction, but was distracted when Alex pulled her across the table for a kiss. "You?"
"Yeah, me," Alex answered and Kelley smiled before kissing her again. "I'm surprised you didn't catch on sooner. Apparently you know whenever a girl's super into you."
"I might have had blockers on when it came to you," Kelley said and Alex watched as she took a bite of her sandwich. "Besides, it seemed too good to be true, you being into me like that. I thought you wanted practice, like just practice."
"I did, but then I didn't at the same time. I'll like you even when you're wearing those stupid Stanford colors," Alex promised and Kelley scoffed.
"Red is so my color and if you're gonna be my girlfriend, you're taking a picture in a Stanford sweatshirt," Kelley said and Alex looked confused. "Alex, of course we start this as girlfriends, I fucking love you dude."
"I can't believe that's the first time you tell me you love me," Alex said under her breath and Kelley just laughed. "I love you too though."
"You love me? That's embarrassing," Kelley joked and Alex punched her shoulder.
"Shut up, finish this, and then take me home," Alex said and Kelley nodded happily.
For Amy, Tuesday couldn't have come slower, but Wednesday couldn't have come quicker. She had been so excited about Tuesday, letting it distract her from what would be coming the following day. Amy had woken up at 5:30 in the morning, did some push ups in her room, went on a run, ate, breakfast, showered, and then drove Lauren's car to the hospital. She ate another breakfast with Lauren in the cafeteria before Lauren was released and then went back up to gather Lauren's things. Amy took Lauren's things to the car as the doctor told Lauren what she needed to know before leaving and then Lauren met her outside. Lauren's mom signed her out, but let Amy take her, the two of them going straight to Lauren's house. Lauren took a nap and then the two of them watched Disney movies all day, just enjoying being around each other.
Wednesday morning had creeped up on both of them. Neither of them had fallen asleep at a reasonable time, Amy falling asleep around 1:30 in the morning and Lauren falling asleep around an hour later. She could have fallen asleep earlier if she hadn't spent an hour staring at her girlfriend. Even with all of the shitty things that had been happening in her life, she was happy that Amy hadn't run off. High school relationships weren't made to stand the test of time, Lauren knew that, but Amy hadn't left her side, even before they had gotten together. That morning, Lauren had woken up first, showering and getting ready before waking up Amy. Lauren woke up at 5 every single time they had morning practice before school and Amy normally woke up around 6 or maybe if she was feeling dangerous, 6:15. Lauren woke her up at 5:45 with the promise of coffee, breakfast, and a quick makeout session in the parking lot.
"You know I only agreed because of the making out right?" Amy asked as Lauren handed her the coffee. Lauren shrugged and leaned over to kiss Amy quickly. "Should you be driving?"
"Yes, I can drive. Although I'm surprised, you had my car for a whole week and it's both clean and full of gas," Lauren said, glancing in the backseat. Normally, Amy's car was always about a 1/4 of the way full and half of the time, the floor couldn't be seen. The half when it could was when Lauren took pity on the mess and cleaned it for her. It wasn't that Amy was necessarily a messy person, but she just never let herself get around to cleaning her car. Amy scoffed and Lauren kissed her again, this time her lips dipping down to kiss Amy's neck. "Hey, I love you."
"I love you too," Amy said smiling at Lauren.
"Thank you for not quitting on me," Lauren said and Amy got a little choked up. Instead of crying her eyes out like she wanted to, Amy just got quiet and focused on the breakfast in the bag in front of her. "You could have left at any time and you didn't."
"You know I could be thanking you for not quitting on me, but I think it'd mean something different," Amy said and Lauren sighed. Neither of them said anything for the rest of the drive, which Lauren didn't mind. Amy rushed to get ready and on the field as Lauren found a spot next to Hope on the bleachers. Hope didn't immediately acknowledge that Lauren was sitting by her, blue eyes zoning in on the summer club list in front of her.
"I'm perfectly healthy and Carli's on my ass about eating that shit all the time," Hope said and Lauren tore off a piece and put it in Hope's mouth. Hope made a confused face at the gesture, but accepted the offered food anyways. "I swear the closer it gets to graduation, the less you're able to see boundaries. O'Hara hugged me last Saturday."
"I'd hug you too, but I'm afraid that you'll cry," Lauren said and Hope shrugged. "If you started crying, every single girl on the team would do the same."
"They'll be doing the same anyways today," Hope said and Lauren hung her head a bit. "It's not your fault, take it from somebody's who just started learning the difference between something being their fault and something not being their fault."
"Carli's good for you," Lauren said and Hope nodded. "You gonna marry her?"
"Sometime unless she comes to her senses," Hope said and Lauren smiled, nudging her shoulder. "What?"
"You realize that you're gonna have to invite all of us to the wedding right?" Lauren asked and Hope raised an eyebrow at her. "Seriously, either that or all of us will storm your wedding." Hope and Lauren continued to talk for a few moments until Abby rallied all the girls to start practice. They did light warm ups and then Hope let them scrimmage. "They're gonna know something's up."
"I'm not making them run before you tell them your news and I sure as shit am not sadistic enough to make them do it after," Hope said and Carli ended the scrimmage with enough time to let Lauren talk and for them to shower. Lauren stayed seated on the bench as her teammates gathered around her. She would have stood up, but she didn't feel like her legs could support her. Lauren looked over to Hope and took her hand before clearing her throat.
"So, um, Saturday morning, I was told some stuff. They said I'm fine and that they'll be monitoring my heart for at least a year. The doctors also told me that I have to go 9 months without any heart problems before I can play soccer again. I can still exercise, but I have to be careful not to overwork my heart or else I'll go back to square one. I wanted to thank you guys for making my last season really memorable, I may not have necessarily gotten the sendoff that I had imagined four years ago with a trophy in my hand, but I got to share the pitch with you guys and that's what matters the most," Lauren said and Amy was the first to move. She ran to Lauren and nearly tackled her into Hope in a hug. Lauren let go of Hope's hand and rubbed Amy's back as the blonde started crying. Lauren looked up at Hope and noticed that the coach was busy looking down at the grass. Lauren swore for a second she heard Hope sniffle, but just shook it off, not wanting to draw any attention over there.
"Practice is over now girls," Carli said and Abby patted Lauren on the back before going to check on Hope. She hadn't moved from where she had been sitting on the bleachers, but the rest of the girls were walking back to the locker room, not wanting to bother Lauren. Lauren walked back with Amy and Carli went to check on Hope as well. Abby waited until Lauren and Amy were in the locker room before pulling Hope into a hug. Hope stood up and buried her head in Abby's shoulder for a moment. "It's okay baby."
"Not a fucking word Wambach," Hope grumbled as she felt Abby move a bit.
"I wasn't gonna say anything Solo," Abby snarked back and Hope turned to Carli.
"Go to your office, I'll bring you something for breakfast," Carli said and Hope nodded.
"Fast and greasy?" Hope asked and Carli nodded. "I love you."
"I love you too, now go," Carli said and Hope walked back to her office. "Do you want something?"
"No, I ate before I left," Abby said and Carli nodded. "Thank you though. Is she gonna be alright?"
"Probably not for a while. She's been pretty upset for a few months now. This graduating class were freshman her first year coaching. She's never coached a team without at least one of them on it. Yeah, she knows the other girls pretty well too, but it's different for her. I'll probably be the same way this time next year," Carli said and Abby nodded.
"Last year was rough," Abby said and Carli fished her keys and some money out of her pocket. "Somebody as responsible as you should have a wallet."
"I do, but it's in Hope's office. I'll have to pay Hope back later," Carli said and Abby looked at her confused. "Hope's pants, Hope's pants money."
"How much money is that?" Abby asked and Carli counted it out quickly.
"$369," Carli said and Abby's jaw dropped. "I don't know and I don't wanna ask her anymore."
"I swear she's sketchy as hell," Abby said and Carli shrugged. She walked off to the parking lot to get Hope something to eat and coffees for both of them.
"I feel bad," Lauren said, sitting on the bench by Alex.
"Don't you can't control this," Alex said, turning to look at Cheney. "You're still coming to our games right?"
"Yeah, Hope talked to my mom and I'm not the player manager," Lauren said and Alex raised an eyebrow. "I'm the team manager. I'm expected to keep wearing my jersey to games. It's an excuse to keep me on the roster I think."
"Well, I'm glad we get to keep you," Alex said, hugging Lauren.
"I also feel bad for making everybody sad, especially Hope," Lauren said and Alex shrugged.
"We'll all get over it, you're still breathing and that's what's important," Alex told her, holding onto Lauren's shoulder. "Hey, I think it'll be fine unless we actually see her cry."
"Yeah, it's heartbreaking," Ashlyn said, leaning down in front of Lauren. Lauren sighed and Ashlyn hugged her. "But we'll be there for her like she's been there for us. Maybe it means a little more to me than everybody else because it's my ass she's helping out most of the time, but she's pounded into our heads and hearts that we're not alone. She's a little cold and can be a bitch, but she does it to make us better. Just like we're all here for you now, so tell me if you need anything Cheney."
"You and every other girl in this locker room after Hope and Carli," Lauren said and Ashlyn nodded. "I'm gonna go try to meet Christen and Tobin, tell Amy where I went?"
"Totally," Ashlyn said, watching Lauren leave. Once she was sure Lauren was gone and all the girls were out of the shower and mostly dressed, Ashlyn got their attention for Alex.
"Lauren won't get the same sendoff game that the rest of us are getting at a tournament. That's why we're doing something extra special for her. I think we should pool our money together to get shirts with her name and number on them, wear them under our jerseys during the last game we play, and then when it's all over and they go to take our picture, we take the jerseys off and we'll all be wearing Cheney shirts," Alex said and Amy immediately agreed. "Anybody opposed?"
"Good question, is anybody opposed?" Ashlyn asked, turning to the team. Nobody spoke up and the senior goalkeeper smiled, putting an arm around Ali's shoulders. "Great, we'll pool together money for the shirts and if we have anything left over, I say we get Coach Solo a parting gift, one that'll make her cry."
"You told Cheney and me it was heartbreaking," Alex said and Ashlyn nodded.
"Yeah, but it'll be sweet and even if you guys don't want to, I'll just do it on my own," Ashlyn said and Alex gave her a look.
"Of course we'll help you," Alex said and they used their team group chat to plan out what they'd get their coaches as a parting gift for the season.
"I have a class to get to," Carli said as she glanced at the clock in Hope's office. They were laying down on the couch in Hope's office, Carli holding Hope and running her fingers through Hope's hair. "And you have a class to run."
"Ash and Ali can run it, they're responsible," Hope said softly. "Can we call in?"
"No we can not. Just brave it for the next couple week and a half and then it's 9 days without having to come here," Carli said and Hope sighed. "We'll stay in and you can relax."
"I have secret-y stuff to do actually," Hope said and Carli sighed. "First two days and then I promise I'm yours for the rest of the week."
"Fine, gives me a chance to catch up on grading," Carli said and Hope smiled at her. "But I do have to go. I'll check on you later, I promise. Love you baby."
"I love you too," Hope said and Carli kissed her softly. Hope moved back with Carli to keep the kiss going until Carli opened the door. Carli left with her coffee and Hope walked out of her office with her coffee and an energy drink, deciding she would need it to get through her morning. There were about 6 kids in the gym already and Hope wondered how she didn't hear them come in, normally she could hear everything from her office.
"Hey Coach Solo, you doing okay?" Ashlyn asked and Hope nodded. Ashlyn moved over closer to her and studied her, the same way she would one of her roommates. "Okay, I just wanted to make sure. You didn't really say much during practice. I wanted to get a chance to ask before the rest of the girls came at you with questions."
"It's not easy sometimes you know?" Hope said, putting her head in her hands. "I want to be there to support and comfort all of you, but it's the stuff like this I can't help with. We lose a game, it's a pep talk and a pat on the bat. One of you gets injured in a game, we talk about keeping it clean and being there for each other. Graduating class, open invitation back and I try to make sure that everybody feels like they left something important for the younger ones, but that they also took something with them. I've never had to deal with hearing that one of you wouldn't be able to play another game with their team, I don't know what to say to Lauren and I don't know what to say to you guys."
"Do what you tell us to do, be there for them in whatever way feels right to you," Ashlyn said and Hope groaned. "Also, it's okay to show emotion in front of us. We've all cried in front of you before."
"You're a smart one sometimes Harris," Hope said and Ashlyn turned back to the group she'd been in before. Hope thought about what Ashlyn had told her and wondered why she hadn't taken her own advice before, it was actually pretty good.
"Let's get this fucking bread!" Emily yelled as she stole the bread from Kelley's sandwich. Kelley just frowned at her and rolled the ham around the cheese. Alex watched the exchange with an amused expression before handing Kelley the cookie that she had brought in her own lunch that day. Kelley just watched as Emily went from table to table, collecting as much bread as she could. Hope was outside for lunch duty that day and was watching the sophomore run around. Emily stopped at Hope, an armful of bread. "Ahem, may I acquire your bread coach?"
"Emily, oh my god what the heck?" Lindsey asked, coming outside only to find that her bread was missing. Emily pouted and Hope handed her the top piece of bread from her sandwich as Emily began to run from Lindsey. "Give me my bread back!"
"I don't remember which ones your bread Linds," Emily said, running for her life. Hope knew she'd eventually have to break it up, but she wanted to see how it played out. Emily was fast, much like O'Hara had been, but Lindsey was also very fast. Lindsey had actually surprised Hope in how fast she was, but then again, Lindsey's athleticism was extremely impressive and Hope knew that Emily would tire out before Lindsey did. Lindsey ended up catching Emily before either of them got tired and it didn't matter which slice of bread was Lindsey's because all of the bread was in a ball and Emily was taking bites so large that Hope was scared she'd start choking on it.
"God you're so infuriating, I hate you sometimes," Lindsey said, throwing her hands up and walking away. Emily's face fell and with it the bread ball. Hope could see Emily's lip quiver a bit as she picked the ball up and threw it away. Emily looked around for a moment before sitting down at Kelley's table. Hope half-expected Kelley to comfort her, but instead it ended up being Ali and Ashlyn who comforted the sophomore.
"That was a little harsh," Sam said and Lindsey pushed her tray forward.
"I'm gonna go to the library," Lindsey said, grabbing her tray and taking it inside. Sam turned to her sister Kristie and best friend Abby.
"She's having a bad day, it's probably the news from Lauren," Abby said, rubbing Sam's back soothingly. Kristie quirked an eyebrow at them, but was distracted by Syd running to her and yelling about something. Actually, she was certain that everybody had been distracted by Syd's running and yelling.
"Again, but slower and quieter please," Kristie said and Syd grabbed her face, moved in to where their noses were touching, and smiled at Kristie. Kristie wanted to lean in and kiss Syd, but she didn't.
"I passed the exam, next year we're both in honors English," Syd said excitedly. She kissed Kristie's cheek and the blonde blushed furiously.
"Leroux, PDA," Hope said and Sydney ran over to her. "Can I help you?"
"So, uh, I saw you leave practice this morning. Technically, like all of us saw it, but you looked really sad. Kind of like one of those infomercial puppies. You look happier now, what happened?" Sydney asked and Hope shrugged. "Oh and why do you only have one slice of bread."
"Sonnett," Hope said and that seemed to explain it all. "Also, Carli brought me breakfast and we talked."
"You made out didn't you. I know what talking means coach. Hey, she's cute and already takes care of you," Syd said and Hope wondered how Syd of all her players managed to figure her out. "Today's a weird day."
"Yeah, definitely," Hope said and Syd stood there awkwardly for a moment. "Do you need something?"
"Sort of, I wanna give you a hug because today is the kind of day where you hug people," Syd said and Hope sighed, letting the forward hug her. "Hug me back you hot muscular oaf."
"Never say those words to me again," Hope said, hugging Hope back. "I'm not an oaf, I went to a great school."
"Fine, you hot muscular fool. Don't deny being a fool because I know that you weren't actually dating Coach Lloyd until recently, even though you've been giving her heart eyes since my freshman year," Syd said and Hope couldn't argue with that. Syd ran back to her table with 5 minutes of lunch left and spent it gushing to Kristie, Sam, and Abby about how hugging Hope felt. Hope could practically feel the impending doom that the hug with Syd had brought into her life. Hugging the girls would become a thing, which meant Hope would have to learn how to actually hug people back.
A dash of smut towards the end.
"I don't think I can thank you enough for this Chris," Tobin said, holding onto Christen's hand tightly. Christen wasn't sure why Tobin was more nervous about eating dinner at Cheney's than she had been earlier in the day during brunch with her family. Tobin had done amazingly there, she had been polite, charming, and an adorable amount of nervous. Now, she seemed to be on the verge of losing her shit over this. "We can go back right?"
"No, not really," Christen said and Tobin sighed. "I've got you, this is gonna be fun. Even if it's not, I'm proud of you for at least making an effort. Proud enough for you to get something when we get back to your place."
"Chris." Tobin's voice cracked and Christen smirked at her. Tobin followed Christen a little more eagerly for a moment, but once Tobin saw Lauren's mother, all of her nerves came rushing back to her. Tobin didn't try to run off, Christen had a surprisingly strong grip on her wrist, tugging her inside, but she did try to plant her feet a bit. "Hi Mrs. Cheney."
"Hello Tobin. Have you been eating right honey, you're so skinny," Mrs. Cheney said and Tobin nodded. "Who is this Tobin?"
"Oh, um, this is Christen, my girlfriend. Lauren said it was fine she came with me," Tobin said and Mrs. Cheney nodded, pulling Tobin and Christen into a hug.
"She's met Christen before," Lauren said and Tobin glanced back at Christen. "Come on, Amy and my dad are playing Uno."
"I said no to that game!" Mrs. Cheney yelled as she rushed back into the house. Lauren brought Tobin and Christen inside, her arm draped around Christen's shoulders. "Girls, dinner is almost ready. The plates are all set, so you girls can take a seat at the table if you'd like."
"Thank you," Tobin said and Lauren walked them over to the table. They sat and talked a little, Tobin answering a couple of Lauren's father's questions. Christen and Amy talked about soccer, which Tobin was a little surprised about. That was when she remembered that Kelley had introduced Christen as one of her club teammates. Mrs. Cheney came in as Christen and Amy were pulling Lauren into the club soccer talk, which Lauren's mother overhead and brought up Tobin's own soccer career.
"She was the best out there. You could tell that she really enjoyed it. The hard work was evident, but so was the natural talent. I've never seen Tobin do anything as well as she played soccer," Mrs. Cheney said and Tobin blushed. "I've got some of Lauren's old games on tapes, if you girls wanna see them."
"Please no," Lauren, Tobin, and Amy said in unison. Mrs. Cheney chuckled at them and motioned for everybody to come and get food. Christen knew that athletes needed a lot of food to stay energized and in shape, she didn't need Alex yelling at Kelley for that, but she was still a little surprised by how much Lauren, Amy, and even Tobin were eating. Let it be known that in the few months that they had been together, Christen had seen Tobin put away a bucket of chicken with Kelley, a whole pie by herself, and nearly 30 cookies with Ashlyn, all of those things on separate occasions in one sitting.
"You're gonna make a lot of trips if you just put that much on your plate," Tobin promised her and Christen shrugged.
"I'm not a bottomless pit," Christen said and Tobin shrugged. "I seem to recall somebody wracking up quite a bill with my credit card on pizza night."
"Why would you offer to buy for the house anyways? Oh and then invite JJ and Mal," Tobin said with a little chuckle. The dinner went nicely, Tobin realized halfway through she had no reason to be nervous. Lauren's mother seemed to really like Christen and both of Lauren's parents had agreed vocally that Christen's influence on Tobin was the most positive one in a long time.
"So, are there any college plans for you girls?" Mr. Cheney asked and Tobin shrugged. She hadn't thought about it. Her grades from last year had brought down her near-perfect GPA from her first two years of high school, so one of the top schools she had wanted originally was out of the picture. Still, she'd been improving a lot and both Alex and Kelley had been bugging Hope about getting scouts from different schools and even professional soccer teams to come and check the summer club games and practices out. Maybe if Tobin could wow them there, she could get an athletic scholarship or something and study photography or something else.
"I haven't thought about it, but probably not unless a miracle happens," Tobin said and Mr. Cheney frowned. "This one is going places though, she's the smartest person I've ever met in my entire life."
"That's true," Lauren said and Christen blushed. "She's probably gonna end up at an Ivy League school."
"Stanford specifically," Christen said with a little smile. "They like me academically."
"From what I hear if you played on the team, you'd be getting a scholarship," Lauren said and Amy nodded. "Tobin totally could too, paid in full I bet."
"I'm doing club soccer in the summer," Tobin said and Christen smiled at her. "Although I don't think I wanna go to college, I have everything I want here already."
"I am glad you have things somewhat figured out Tobin," Mrs. Cheney said and Tobin gave her a small smile. There was something about being here for Thanksgiving that made Tobin almost miss her home. She missed playing outside with her siblings and helping her mother in the kitchen as she began to get a little bit older. Lauren sensed the subtle change in Tobin's demeanor and put a hand over hers, smiling warmly at her friend. Tobin shifted in her seat, didn't move her hand away, and pulled Christen in closer to her.
"Oh my god I might die," Ashlyn groaned as she flopped onto the couch. "I swear I'm gonna be running for a month to get off what I just ate."
"Get up, we have to go see somebody," Kelley said and Ashlyn whined. "It's worth it I swear. I'll drop you off at Ali's after."
"No way, last time I came over, Kyle looked like he wanted to fight me," Ashlyn said and Kelley picked her up off the couch.
"It's for somebody very important to both of us, let's fucking go!" Kelley yelled, carrying Ashlyn to her car. Ashlyn didn't ask any questions as to where they were going, trusting Kelley enough to not get them murdered by some crazy person she met off of the internet. Ashlyn was surprised when they pulled into a little house by where her parents used to live.
"Whose house are we at?" Ashlyn asked, wary to get out of the car now.
"Like I said, very important, now let's go!" Kelley was excited, overexcited actually. That was a sure sign that she was nervous about this, but trying to make it seem like there was nothing to be nervous about. Ashlyn followed Kelley up to the door and waited behind her as Kelley rang the doorbell. The two of them waited for a moment, Ashlyn's hands a little shaky, before they were greeted by a sight Ashlyn never in a million years she thought she'd see. Hope Solo, the woman who Ashlyn had only ever really thought of like one of the most dangerously living and badass people in her life, looked like she'd just crawled out of some suburban hellhole. "Nice sweater."
"Shut up and get in before I regret inviting you," Hope said, letting Kelley and Ashlyn into her house. Ashlyn was less surprised by how the house was decorated. There was quite a bit of University of Washington stuff around the house as well as some Star Wars stuff. It was obvious that Hope didn't live alone and Ashlyn could almost immediately tell that Carli was her roommate. "I'm surprised you didn't bring Tobin with you."
"Tobin and Christen are running around together being adorable," Kelley said and Hope nodded. "In fact, Tobin stayed the night at Christen's last night."
"I'm happy for her, Christen's good for her," Hope said and Carli walked into the living room carrying two beers. She handed one to Hope as she sat on the couch and pulled Hope's arm around her. "Are you guys actually hungry?"
"I am," Kelley said and Ashlyn shook her head. "There's always room for more."
"How? You ate twice what I did back at Nana's," Ashlyn said and Kelley shrugged. "So, um, you guys seem cozy. Are you gonna invite the team to your wedding if it hasn't already happened?"
"We're just dating and why the hell would I let a group of teenagers run loose at my wedding?" Hope asked and Ashlyn gave her a look.
"You so would invite every single one of them and you know it," Carli said and Hope shrugged. "I swear you only actually care about that shed, the girls, Abby, and me, not in that order," Carli said and Hope shrugged. "It better not be in that order."
"You're first, then the girls, the shed, and Abby," Hope said as the door opened. "Oh wait sorry, it actually goes you, the girls, Glennon, the shed, and then Abby."
"Ha ha ha," Abby said, throwing a half-eaten cookie at Hope. Hope caught it and shoved as much of it in her mouth as she could. "How do you know I'm not sick?"
"Nothing's worse than the food poisoning I got when you made that casserole," Hope said with a cringe. Abby cringed as well, then turned to face the two teenagers in Hope's living room. "I invited them."
"Of course you did, gotta act charitable around my woman," Abby said and Hope rolled her eyes.
"There's wine in the kitchen," Carli said and Glennon followed Carli.
"Dude, you guys are adorable," Kelley said and Ashlyn nodded. "So, like, when's the food gonna be done?"
"I don't know, but I'm starving too." Hope's stomach growled to accentuate her statement. Carli came back into the living room about 20 minutes later to let them know the food was done. Kelley and Hope were the first in there and the first to go back to get more. Abby had to admit that she was surprised that Kelley could keep pace with Hope. Ashlyn seemed absolutely disgusted that Kelley was eating again and then she was able to put down as much as she was.
"Honey, that's not gonna disappear like it does in the future so enjoy it now," Glennon said and Kelley shrugged.
"That's what Christie told me when we first met," Hope said and Abby laughed at the memory. Abby remembered the dinner like it was yesterday, but it was a bit more like a decade ago. Abby and Carli had brought Hope over to a friend's house for a friendsgiving of sorts and Hope had managed to make quite the impression. "Here I am now, nothing's changed."
"No, you spend at least twice the amount of time in a gym than you used to," Abby said and Hope gave her a look. "Outside of work, I mean."
"That's for different reasons I refuse to state in front of two minors," Hope said and Kelley raised an eyebrow at her.
"We are both 18," Kelley said, leaning forward. "It's sex stuff isn't it?"
"The fact that you asked that questions is why you don't get to hear the answer," Hope said and Kelley pouted at her. "I'm not Ashlyn or Alex, that won't work on me."
"Kel, Ali wants me to over there by 8. It's 7:40," Ashlyn said and Kelley pouted. "Dude, being late isn't a good idea tonight."
"The things I do for the people I love," Kelley groaned as she got up from the table. They said their goodbyes, Kelley's including a hug to literally everybody including Ashlyn, and then they left.
"Are you gonna see Alex?" Ashlyn asked as they got on the road.
"Maybe, I mean, she's got her family to hang out with," Kelley said and Ashlyn glanced over at her. "Erin's coming over Saturday with Jerry, so that'll be fun. You guys can stay if you want, I think it'd be nice for everybody to be there for lunch."
"Are you gonna see your parents?" Ashlyn asked and Kelley bit her lip, wanting to tell Ashlyn, but not wanting to necessarily acknowledge what had happened over the summer with her parents. "I mean, you haven't seen them in forever and I'm sure that they miss you."
"I'm not driving to Georgia," Kelley said, not looking up from the road. "They went back to Peachtree City around the same time I broke things off with Emily. Actually, I think they moved back earlier, the house had been sold by the time I found out."
"Shit, I'm sorry," Ashlyn said as Kelley turned down Ali's street. "Well, we're all here for you if you need to talk. I mean it, we all hear it from so many people, but we never really talk to them. I don't wanna force you to talk, but I will totally sick Ali and Alex on you if I need to."
"Got it," Kelley said, stopping in front of Ali's house. "Bye, have fun, use protection, and I love you."
"You're an asshole, I love you too," Ashlyn said and Kelley smiled at her. Ashlyn went inside and Kelley drove off, not really thinking of where she was going. Kelley cursed as her car began to sputter before it stopped. She shut it off and grabbed her phone, immediately calling Alex for help.
Alex was honestly really worried about Kelley. They had went back to Alex's house because her parents had packed up for a visit to see one of Alex's sisters in California. They had told Alex that she'd be home alone for the month, but they'd put money in her account every week so that she could buy groceries. Alex would fly to California a couple days before Christmas to be with her family there and then they'd return on the 28th. Alex wanted to ask Kelley to stay with her, but she wasn't sure how that'd go over. They were a couple and staying together for that long could lead to a lot of things, things that hadn't necessarily done before. Alex wanted to, she really did, but Kelley was always the one who stopped them when things got a little hot and heavy.
"My parents moved to Georgia over the summer," Kelley said and Alex looked up from her phone. "They left over the summer, didn't even fucking tell me. Erin called me like three days after I found out and asked if I knew what that was all about. She's coming over for the weekend, you should join us for lunch or something."
"I'm so sorry Kel," Alex said, leaning forward. Kelley shrugged it off and Alex put her hand on top of Kelley's. "I don't know what I'd do if my parents just left me without telling me."
"I cried for a couple days, was a dick to a really awesome girl, and then proceeded to try to hide my sadness with partying," Kelley told Alex. "I'm getting a lot better now though, you've helped me a lot. I like being with you, being around you."
"I like being around you too," Alex said and Kelley leaned in and kissed her. Alex set her phone down and leaned back, Kelley chasing her to keep the kiss intact. Alex loved the way that Kelley's body fit with hers. They could meld together into something amazing, something that felt bigger than either of them. Alex wondered if this what her parents felt about each other because Alex swore she'd never really felt this way about anybody else before. She'd never understood somebody like she did Kelley, but maybe that was what it was like getting to love your best friend.
"D-do you want to do this with me?" Kelley asked and Alex nodded. "No regrets?"
"None, but slow and easy?" Alex asked and Kelley nodded. Kelley kissed Alex again and Alex gave up complete control to Kelley. Kelley was intent on letting Alex set the pace, so she continued to kiss Alex until Alex told her that she wanted more. Kelley would push down a little, kissing Alex's neck, but she never went any further than that. Alex began to rock her hips against Kelley and could feel herself getting more and more worked up with each movement she made.
"Stop," Kelley growled in Alex's ear, pushing her hips back. "Not like this."
"Please, I need something," Alex whined and Kelley's hand fell between them. Alex spread her legs a little to let Kelley settle in between them as her hand moved further down her body. Alex pushed herself back against the couch to let Kelley unbutton her jeans and get her fingers where Alex needed her. Alex let out a noise somewhere in between a whine and a moan as Kelley's fingers made contact.
"Shush," Kelley said and Alex nodded, biting her lip. Kelley put her lips back on Alex's as she moved her fingers in and out of Alex's core, grinding down a bit on the woman below her as well. Kelley felt Alex tighten around her fingers and shake under her. Kelley hated that she had to muffle the noises Alex was making, but she didn't want them to get caught. Kelley double checked to make sure that the blanket covering them was secure before slowly grinding herself on Alex's thigh until she came. Kelley bit her lip and tucked her head into the crook of Alex's neck when she did.
"Oh my god," Alex said quietly and Kelley looked up at her. "I just let you finger me on my couch."
"Just think of what we can get up to when we're actually alone," Kelley said with a little smirk. "You'd better be glad that Hope's not pushing for a lot of practices until next semester starts. We'll have a lot of fun together. If you want me over of course."
"I want you to stay over like every night," Alex said and Kelley wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. "That's not gonna happen all the time, but we get out the 10th and I don't leave until the 22nd."
"I'll be here whenever you want me," Kelley said and Alex smiled, kissing Kelley's temple. The two of them were almost asleep, laying in each other's arms on the couch when Alex's parents came downstairs again, carrying their bags.
"Bye girls, don't get into any trouble. No parties Alex and I mean it," Alex's mother said and Alex nodded. Alex said bye to her parents and then they left, leaving Alex and Kelley on the couch.
"Wanna watch another movie or..." Kelley trailed off and Alex pulled her down for a kiss. "Or it is then."
Christen smiled as she laid across Tobin's couch, her head on Tobin's lap. Tobin was playing with Christen's hair, relaxing the younger senior as she tried to study for finals. It was nerve-wracking for her, but Christen had nothing to worry about. Tobin shifted slightly and Christen sat up and set her book on the table. Tobin raised an eyebrow at her, having been unable to pry Christen from that book for nearly two hours. Christen crawled across the couch and settled on Tobin's lap. She leaned down so that her nose was brushing against Tobin's and there was barely any space in between their lips. Tobin wanted to lurch forward and close the gap, but she didn't, instead she inhaled Christen's scent. Christen pushed forward a little with her entire body to close the space, her hips barely rocking against Tobin.
"So, your birthday is coming up," Tobin said and Christen nodded. "I was wondering if you wanted to stop by sometime so I could give you something?"
"Definitely," Christen said and Tobin smiled at her. "Oh and I was wondering if I could give you your Christmas present then?"
"Of course," Tobin said, leaning forward to kiss her. Christen put a hand on Tobin's chest to hold her back for a moment, smiling at the little pout Tobin gave her. Tobin was too busy pouting to really notice that Christen was getting her phone to take a picture until it was too late. "Delete it."
"Toby, it's so cute," Christen whined a little and Tobin sighed. She didn't admit defeat yet though, but once Christen gave her a pout and batted her eyelashes, it was all over for the older senior.
"Fine, you can keep it, but I want something in return," Tobin said and Christen removed her hand and leaned down to give Tobin a kiss. "I meant a picture, but that's really nice."
"What kind of picture are you wanting?" Christen asked and Tobin shrugged. "Because I'm not really like, good at that sort of stuff."
"Well..." Tobin trailed off and flipped them so that Christen was laying back on the couch. Tobin grabbed her phone and snapped a picture of Christen laying down on the couch. "Even."
"Can I go back to studying?" Christen asked and Tobin gave her a look. "To be fair, you were distracting me."
"How?" Tobin asked and Christen sat up and ran her fingers through Tobin's hair. Tobin relaxed into it and they found themselves laying back down on the couch, Tobin on top of Christen as Christen ran her fingers through Tobin's hair. Tobin sighed and closed her eyes, admitting her defeat then and there. Christen could have stayed like that for the rest of the night, but the ringing of her phone distracted both of them after they lost track of time.
"Shit, it's my mom," Christen said, as she picked her phone up off of the table. Tobin was half asleep, but she was fully awake when Christen got off of the couch to answer the call. "Hi. Sorry, I was studying with Tobin. Tell Channing to shut up please. Thank you dad. Okay, I'll be there in 20. Well, you don't want me speeding this late do you? Really, um, yeah, okay, thank you. Goodnight, I'll see tomorrow. I love you too. Bye."
"Everything good?" Tobin asked, yawning.
"Yeah, it's like 15 minutes past my curfew, but my parents would rather me stay the night here than drive home so late. Is that okay with you?" Christen asked and Tobin scoffed, as if it would ever not be okay for Christen to spend the night with her.
"Of course it's fine, I don't want you driving out this late anyways. What time is it?" Tobin asked and Christen handed her a phone. "11:20. Let's go to bed, you need to sleep."
"I need to actually study," Christen said and Tobin shook her head. "Seriously Tobin, I can't fail anything. If I get into a good school, it's because of my grades. I'm not really a school sports person."
"I have an idea, but you have to go to sleep first," Tobin said and Christen sighed. "I'll be up in 30 minutes tops. If I'm not, you have full permission to wake me up so I can cuddle you to sleep."
"If you don't, I'll probably just come down and sleep on the couch with you," Christen said and Tobin leaned in to kiss her. "That toothbrush I left still in your bathroom?"
"Toothpaste is in the drawer now. Kelley rearranged everything," Tobin told her and Christen went upstairs to get ready for bed. Tobin waited until she could hear the shower running before she got her phone off of the coffee table. She dialed Hope's number and waited for the soccer coach to answer her phone.
"Tobin, hey, what's going on?" Hope asked, sounding a little spooked. "Do you need me to pick you up somewhere?"
"This isn't about me and it's a pretty big favor," Tobin said and she could hear shuffling on the other side of the phone. Tobin swore that she heard Carli say something and Hope say something back before kissing her.
"Alright talk, and make it fast please."
"You know scouts and stuff right?" Tobin asked, hoping Hope could help her out. "Like Stanford scouts?"
"I do know Stanford scouts," Hope said and Tobin relaxed a bit. "Is this for Kelley or Christen?"
"Both of them honestly, but Christen put the idea in my head. She's stressed that about getting into Stanford and it would mean a lot to me if you could try and get her on their radar. Maybe send in practice and game footage of her, so that they know she's more than a pretty face with a ridiculously smart brain," Tobin said and Hope sighed. "I get it if you can't do it."
"I'll see what can be done. I should have an answer for you by tomorrow night. Tuesday morning I'll call a meeting for everybody doing the summer clubs. I expect you there Heath," Hope said and Tobin agreed to come. "Get some rest."
"You too," Tobin said and Hope hung up the phone. Tobin put her phone on the charger downstairs before going upstairs. She waited for Christen to get out of the bathroom before going in to get ready for bed as well. By the time Tobin was done and ready, Christen was already asleep and under the blankets.
Kelley stood up and walked over to the door. She could feel the everybody in the room watching her, but she needed to get out for a bit. The test was easy, she could pass it in her sleep, but all of the sudden she couldn't find a single reason to continue it. She could go back to it, Hope would make sure that the teacher let her finish the test. Kelley put her hand on the doorknob and opened the door. She could hear footsteps behind her, the teacher chasing her down most likely, but she continued to the guidance counselor's office. She didn't stop to have the secretary check in with Heather, but then again Kelley had never really officially checked in before, she always had just come down there whenever she had needed to talk to somebody.
"You can't go in there!" Kelley ignored the secretary and opened the door. If Kelley really couldn't have been in there, the door would be locked. Kelley shut the door behind her and sat down on one of the bean bag chairs in the corner. They didn't look used, but then again, Kelley wasn't really sure who they'd be there for. "I'm sorry, I tried to stop her, but she's very fast."
"It's fine, you can leave us to talk. Kelley, whose class did you come from?" Heather asked and Kelley tried to remember, but she couldn't. Nothing felt right for her, all she wanted to do was get an official form so she could drop out of school and then spend her time doing whatever the fuck she wanted to. Alex would rope her back in though, Alex wouldn't let her just drop out and give up the years of schooling she'd worked for because she was having one of her bad days.
"I don't even know," Kelley said and Heather went to her computer. "Can I have a drop out form please?"
"Can you tell Mrs. Hamm that Kelley's in here?" Heather asked and her secretary nodded. She left them alone in the room and Heather sat down on the bean bag chair adjacent to Kelley's. "Did you finish your test?"
"No, I left it and my stuff in there. I don't really care though because I'm dropping out," Kelley said and Heather shook her head. "I don't see a reason for me to even do anything anymore really. Nothing is all that enjoyable anymore. I feel alone."
"I don't know every aspect of your life Kelley, but I do know that you are not alone. You may not necessarily have your parents in your life, but you've got a family that isn't going to leave you. If you need to talk, I'm here for you, but you need to talk to your friends too. Do you want to stay in here for a bit or do you want to go back to class?" Heather asked and Kelley stood up.
"Thank you HAO, I'm gonna miss you," Kelley said, sniffling. "Especially when I'll be so far away at Stanford."
"Keep up that attitude KO, Stanford bound," Heather said, hugging Kelley tightly.
"Can I just come in here for hugs every few hours?" Kelley asked and Heather nodded.
"If you feel overwhelmed, you can come in here and I bet that Hope would let you hang out in the gym or on the field for a bit," Heather said and Kelley nodded.
"She's brought her class out of the air conditioning in 90 degree heat so I could take shots at her in the goal before," Kelley said with a small smile. "I'm gonna miss her a lot too. I'm gonna miss everybody pretty much."
"You can have my number when you graduate," Heather promised her and Kelley unlocked the door. "Have a good day Kelley, seriously."
"Thanks," Kelley said, walking back to her class. The bell rang when she was halfway up the stairs, but luckily her teacher let her finish up her test.
"Let's not walk out of my class randomly again okay?" Mrs. Hamm said and Kelley agreed to that. "What did you go down there for if you don't mind me asking?"
"Drop out form, but HAO changed my mind," Kelley said nonchalantly. "I don't think she actually has any on hand."
"She does, but nobody ever leaves with any."
Sydney waited patiently in the locker room for Kristie. They technically were supposed to be at lunch, but Sydney wasn't actually in the mood to eat. She was freaking out over what felt like a million different things. Sydney laid back against one of the wooden bleachers and put her hands over her face. Sydney sat up when she heard footsteps getting closer. The closer the footsteps got, the closer the scent of food got to her. Sydney sat up again and smiled when she saw Kristie carrying two paper bags. Kristie sat down next to Sydney and handed her one of the bags. Sydney excitedly reached into the bag and got out the burger and fries.
"Shit, I forgot drinks!" Kristie exclaimed, but Sydney reached into her backpack and pulled out two bottles of Gatorade. "I'd die of thirst if not for you."
"For British girls and hockey boys," Sydney joked and Kristie rolled her eyes. "How was Rachel?"
"Don't know, we haven't spoken since before Halloween. Also, was that jealousy I detected?" Kristie asked and Sydney shrugged. "No matter who I date, I'll always have room for you. Are things with Dom still things?"
"Friend things now," Sydney said and Kristie sighed.
"Maybe we'll figure out this dating thing sometime," Kristie said and Sydney shrugged.
"The more dates I try and guys I talk to, the more I wanna just date you," Sydney said and Kristie choked on her fries. "I mean, I know you give good cuddles, we're already super close so there won't be that awkwardness of getting to know each other at first, and we've got our own ship name."
"I wouldn't want to make anything weird between us though," Kristie said and Sydney shrugged. "Besides, how the hell do I know that you're a good kisser Syd? I won't date somebody who's a bad kisser."
"I'm an amazing kisser, you don't even know what this mouth do babe," Sydney said and Kristie blushed a little.
"Gross," Kristie said quietly and Sydney kissed her cheek. Kristie's blush deepened as Sydney continued to kiss all over Kristie's face before accidentally kissing the corner of her mouth. That managed to stop both of them for a moment before Kristie grabbed onto Sydney's jacket to pull her in for a real kiss. Their little moment was over nearly as soon as it started when Kristie heard the gym doors open and voices outside the locker room. "Shush for a minute."
"Proposing is a really big step and I don't know if we can handle that. I don't even know what she wants in the long run. None of that ever really comes up when we talk about things," Hope said as she walked closer to the locker room. Kristie could tell that they were technically in there, but they weren't close enough to see Kristie and Sydney on the bench together.
"If it was such a big step that you can't handle, why the hell did you buy that ring for her then?" Abby asked and Hope shrugged. "Carli wouldn't stay with you this long if she didn't want to take those big steps with you. Just find that stupidity you think is courage and ask her to marry you."
"Carli and Hope are a thing!" Sydney exclaimed and Kristie let out a heavy sigh. It took about 5 seconds for Sydney to realize what she had just done, but it was too late because Hope and Abby were standing in front of the two juniors. "Um, hi."
"Girls, you're supposed to be eating lunch at the cafeteria," Abby said and Sydney pouted at her.
"Abby, it's fine, but I'm gonna need to make sure you guys can keep your mouths shut about this conversation and the one we were having before we knew you were in here," Hope said and Kristie nodded. "Oh and Kristie, might wanna wipe Sydney's lip gloss off of your face before you go anywhere."
"Goddamnit Sydney," Kristie let out under her breath as she went over to the mirror. She ended up just wiping off the majority of her makeup to get the lip gloss off of her face. Sydney gave her an apologetic look, but both of them knew that Kristie wasn't really mad or all that annoyed. Kristie and Sydney finished eating and made it back to the main building of the school in time for their next class. Kristie's mind was elsewhere for the rest of the day. All she could think about was the fact that she had just kissed her best friend, the one that she'd ruined her chances with cute, British, perfect Rachel over. Kristie would never tell Sydney that she had done that, not when she wasn't 100% on whether or not Sydney would even like her back.
"Are you okay to drive?" Sam asked, getting in the passenger's seat of Kristie's car. Kristie nodded and got into the driver's seat.
"Do I need to wait for Abby today?" Kristie asked, fiddling with the radio. She liked Sydney's music, but it wasn't what she liked listening to when she was in the car with anybody else.
"No, she checked out early," Sam said sadly. Kristie could tell that even though Sam and Abby weren't a thing, they were on their way to becoming a thing. Kristie had kept that shovel talk on hand since Sam and Abby's sleepovers had started late their freshman year. Kristie trusted that they wouldn't do something stupid and that Sam could protect herself, but Kristie wanted to make sure that her little sister was always safe and happy.
"Do you wanna go get something to drink and maybe split an order of fries?" Kristie offered and Sam nodded. "Anything on your mind?"
"Have you ever started noticing things and you don't know why?" Sam asked, sounding seriously panicked. Kristie wasn't sure whether or not she was ready to tell Sam about her feelings for Sydney or not. It wasn't like her family didn't already know she was into girls, but her parents were on the fence about Sydney sometimes and she didn't want to accidentally push her friend onto the wrong side. "Nevermind, it's stupid."
"No it isn't, what things are you noticing?"
"I think I might like Abby in the 'I want you to be my girlfriend way' not the friendly way," Sam said and Kristie nodded. "Is liking girls better than liking boys?"
"It's different. I think I have a preference for girls, at least I do right now. If you need to talk to me, you can Sam. I don't have the most experience because it's been a few guys and then Rachel, but I get what it's like to like somebody so close to you." Kristie gave her little sister a little smile as she pulled in to get them drinks. Sam didn't say anything again until after they were home. Kristie had been waiting in her room waiting for Sydney to text or call her so they could talk about their little kiss, but it never seemed to come. Abby had stopped by to show Sam the car that her dad had taken her to pick up that would be hers once she took her driver's test. Once Abby had left, Sam had come charging into Kristie's room only to flop onto the floor with a groan.
"I've got it bad," Sam said and Kristie sat down next to her. "How the hell did this even happen?"
"We can't help who we like. It just happens Sammy, but I promise you that it'll be fine," Kristie said with a small smile. "Either you get the girl or you find somebody else."
"I haven't seen Rachel around much lately, you guys still doing okay?" Sam asked and Kristie sighed. "Rough breakup?"
"No, we talked it out and everything went smoothly. I mean, not everything, she said something that is still bothering me, but it's fine." Kristie laid back against the floor and stared up at her ceiling. Then, without really thinking she continued, "Rachel said that I should be with somebody I'm absolutely crazy about. She said that we both liked each other, but it was obvious that there was somebody else I liked more, maybe even loved. She dropped me off at Sydney's and told me good luck."
"Honestly, I think Sydney's a little into you at least. She's not as touchy and caring with everybody as she is with you and that's more than a best friend thing. You should go for it Kristie, even if she doesn't say yes, she wouldn't let it come between you."
"When did you get so wise?" Kristie asked and Sam shrugged. "Are you gonna take your own advice with Abby?"
"Maybe when I have less on my plate. School and soccer takes up a lot." Both of them stayed on the floor for a bit after their chat, just letting everything sink in.
Kristie was extremely nervous. She didn't really have a reason to be, everything was going well. It was going so well in fact that Rachel and her girlfriend invited Kristie and Sydney out to eat dinner with them after the movie. The only problem was that Kristie hadn't actually told Sydney that this was supposed to be a double date. Rachel knew about Kristie's feelings for Sydney, which Sydney definitely did not. Sydney had been under the impression that she was just here to hang out with Rachel, Rachel's "friend" Millie, and Kristie. There would be questions during dinner and Kristie was not prepared to be answering any of them.
"Dude, you look like you're gonna hurl," Sydney said and Kristie tried to shake off her nerves. "If you want, I can take you home."
"N-no, it's fine," Kristie lied as she continued walking towards the restaurant they'd agreed on. She honestly did feel like she was going to puke, but she wasn't gonna say anything. It was just her nerves and guilt about lying getting to her. Kristie could do a lot of things, but she always had a hard time lying to people about things.
"So, how long have you guys been together?" Millie asked Sydney. Kristie was just close enough to hear that and before Sydney could open her mouth, everything that Kristie had eaten that day was sitting in the parking lot. Sydney ran over to Kristie to make sure she was okay and Rachel followed suit, Millie staying a little bit behind.
"Oh no," Kristie said, nearly falling to her knees. Sydney caught her and brought her over to the sidewalk so that they could sit for a moment together. "I'm sorry guys, I'm fine, I'll be fine."
"Go ahead and get us a place to sit," Sydney said and Rachel took Millie inside. Once the door had shut behind them, Sydney turned to Kristie with a more serious look. "What were you lying about?"
"That we're dating. Rachel had her new girlfriend and I panicked. I would have told you, but I got scared that things would be weird between us," Kristie said and Sydney sighed. "And for the record, it wasn't just the lying that was making me nervous."
"The kiss," Sydney said and Kristie nodded. Sydney reached into her purse and handed Kristie a piece of gum. "Are you hungry?"
"Funny," Kristie said, popping it into her mouth and going inside. Sydney stopped her just before she opened the door. "What?"
"I would have pretended to be your date if you told me. You would have gotten the whole nine yards, kisses, hand holding, and my jacket on the way over," Sydney said with a little chuckle. Sydney walked in with her arm around Kristie and they immediately found Rachel and Millie sitting in a booth near the back. "I think we're a bit better now." Sydney put an arm around Kristie shoulders as a waitress came to take their orders. Sydney being that close to her and touching her constantly was making her nervous, but it was making her a good kind of nervous. The kind of nervous she got before their games and when she waited for the rosters to come out to see if she was starting. She rarely got to start with Sydney on varsity, but she was normally a JV starter, which didn't bother her as much anymore as it did at the beginning of the season.
"Thank you," Kristie said as Sydney walked her back to her car. "I'm also really sorry I lied to you."
"It's fine, you paid the price for that," Sydney said and Kristie looked down, embarrassed. "Let's get back to my place and hang out a bit. If you're lucky maybe you can get to second base when we're cuddling."
"Sydney, I'm pretty sure you've almost made it home cuddling before," Kristie said and Sydney punched her shoulder. "I'd know, your fingers are like icicles sometimes."
"Whatever loser," Sydney said, trapping Kristie against the car. "You'd be lucky if I really did that with you."
"Keep telling yourself that," Kristie said, not trying to escape. Sydney pushed her hips against Kristie's and brushed her lips against Kristie's. It was torture, having Sydney so close, but so far away at the exact same time. She was right there to kiss, but Kristie choked and couldn't move forward and kiss her. Sydney rested her forehead against Kristie's, let out a dry laugh, and then backed away.
"I'll drop you off at your house," Sydney said, getting into the car. Kristie didn't get into the car, instead taking off as fast as she could in the opposite direction. Kristie didn't know where she was going, but she knew that it couldn't be where Sydney was. Sydney started her car and began driving in the same direction Kristie was running in as she called Sam to tell her what was happening. "Fuck I ruined us."
"Do you have to go?" Kelley asked, standing with Alex at the airport.
"Yes, I do, but I'll be back soon I promise," Alex said, wrapping her arms around Kelley in a tight hug. Kelley sniffled and Alex could feel herself wanting to cry as well. "Hey, no stop it. I don't wanna get on that plane crying."
"I can't help it," Kelley said softly. That was when she really broke down and Alex held Kelley for a couple more moments. "Come back to me."
"I'm going to be gone for a couple of days I promise. I'll be back in time for Christen's birthday party," Alex promised and Kelley nodded. "Be good, take care of yourself, and hey, I love you."
"I love you too," Kelley said with a small smile. Alex backed out of the hug and kissed Kelley. Kelley let Alex go and then drove back to her house. There were a lot more cars at the house than before when Kelley had left, but Kelley didn't mind. Some people wanted to be alone when they were sad, but Kelley O'Hara was the complete opposite. Kelley walked into the house and was surprised that it didn't feel like a party. "Hey."
"See, told you she'd be back," Ashlyn said, handing Kelley a controller. "We're playing Halo."
"Yeah, I can see that," Kelley said sarcastically. "Well, she's off to California."
"For less than a week," Tobin added and Kelley decided that was the silver lining. "Chris, where are you?"
"Kitchen!" Christen yelled and Tobin glanced back towards the kitchen. She couldn't see into the kitchen because of the wall, but she waited for Christen to come out.
"Dude, we're getting fucking massacred!" Ashlyn yelled, punching Tobin. "Pay attention to the game!"
"Sorry," Tobin muttered and Ashlyn was right. Kelley and Emily had been destroying them in the few minutes that Tobin had been waiting for Christen. After a couple of games Kelley had stopped thinking about how Alex wasn't there with her and Christen had come back from the kitchen.
"I gotta go guys, I'll see you later," Christen said and Tobin pouted at her.
"But I barely got to see you," Tobin whined and Christen kissed her cheek before leaving. Tobin huffed as she sat back against the couch, pouting.
"At least you're not that bad," Ashlyn whispered to Kelley. Kelley laughed for a moment before taking a picture of Tobin and putting it on Snapchat. "Dude, she didn't even notice."
"My girlfriend is in California, yours is literally just going to her house. Stop being a baby Toby," Kelley said and Tobin leaned over Ashlyn to punch Kelley.
"Children, stop it!" Lauren yelled at them and everybody got quiet. "Amy and Ali are going to pick up pizza."
"We are?" Amy asked and Lauren nodded. "Okay, Ali let's go."
"Thank you for this," Alyssa said as she got out of Christen's car. "I've been freaking out about this since October. I was hoping for a hint or something, but there's literally 3 days before Christmas and I have 6 days until JJ comes back. It's now or never."
"I understand, relationships are stressful. What were you thinking about getting her?" Christen asked as they approached the mall.
"What did you get Tobin?" Alyssa asked and Christen began to blush.
"An old camera, a Stanford hoodie, and then my virginity if all goes well," Christen said and Alyssa tripped. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I, surprised," Alyssa said, her ears turning red. Christen had been at Tobin's when Alex had brought Julie and a couple bottles of tequila with her and wondered how the hell the Alyssa that Julie had drunkenly told sex stories about was the same bashful, quiet, and nervous girl standing next to her. "I can't really give JJ that, but that's a nice idea. Wait, why the Stanford hoodie?"
"Because Hope found old tapes of Kelley and I from the summer clubs, sent it in, and I got a letter about a week and a half ago," Christen said and Alyssa pulled her into a hug. "I haven't told anybody else yet, not even my parents."
"Well, congratulations," Alyssa said and Christen thanked her. "I'd get JJ new boots, but I don't know if that's what she really wants. I don't want to fuck this up, it's our first Christmas together."
"You won't, whatever you get her, she'll love," Christen said and Alyssa nodded. They went to several stores and Alyssa came out with a stuffed bear, a couple of snapbacks, and a Patriots hoodie that Alyssa knew Julie would only ever wear maybe once or twice.
The days leading up to Christen's birthday were the most stressful days Tobin had ever experienced. Tobin had gotten quite a bit of help, but everything was still stressing her the hell out. In all honesty, it wasn't just the party that Tobin was stressed out about. Christen had requested that they spend a bit of time away from each other, so the last time Tobin had seen Christen was two days before Christmas at a coffee shop. Ashlyn and Kelley had been designated distractors for Tobin while Alex and Ali made sure that everything Tobin had been planning for Christen was set up properly.
"Alright, she's on her way," Tobin said as she looked around her house. Tobin had wanted to throw a big party, but that idea went out the window when Alex and Ali reminded Tobin that Christen liked smaller gatherings rather than the bigger parties. Tobin checked over everything in the living room before walking into the kitchen where Kelley was finishing up Christen's cake. "This looks really good."
"Thanks, Ashlyn did the finishing touches with the design," Kelley said and Tobin nodded. "So, do you have her presents ready?"
"Yes I do and apparently she wants to wait until after the party to give me mine," Tobin said anxiously. "You don't think she's gonna try to rush us or anything? I mean, she knows about the girls at parties and stuff, but you don't think she feels pressured do you?"
"Tobin, you have nothing to worry about. I'm pretty sure that from what Lex has told me that she's been the instigator in quite a bit recently. I think she's ready," Kelley said and Tobin nodded. "Is that one of your gifts?"
"No, but it'd be really romantic," Tobin said and Kelley nodded. "Shit, do you think I have time to, uh, do that?"
"Absolutely not, Ash is walking up with Christen now," Kelley said, glancing towards the back porch. Tobin's eyes went wide as she looked to see Ashlyn and Christen walking and talking together. Tobin ran upstairs and changed, getting back downstairs as Kelley was putting the cake away. Ashlyn had a blindfold over Christen's eyes, so Tobin had the perfect chance to surprise her. She put her hands on Christen's sides like she normally did and then leaned in to kiss her. Christen kissed back and Tobin reached up to take off the blindfold.
"Happy birthday," Tobin said softly.
"Thank you," Christen said softly. "I have something for you."
"I have quite a few things for you," Tobin said and Christen raised an eyebrow at her. Tobin ran upstairs to get Christen's things while Christen grabbed Tobin's from her car. "Open yours first."
"Alright, alright," Christen said as she opened the paper. Tobin was watching her eagerly and Christen thought it was adorable.
"I didn't know what to get you at first, so I thought this would be nice," Tobin said as Christen looked at the pictures that had been framed. They were from months ago, but Christen remembered how nice spending that day alone with Tobin had been. "There are 2 more things in the garage, but I'd rather you open those after everybody else leaves."
"You have to open the red box before everybody else leaves," Christen said and Tobin nodded. Tobin brought the red box to the kitchen where everybody else was and then opened the box up.
"A Stanford hoodie..." Tobin stood there holding it while she connected the dots. "You're going to Stanford?"
"Stanford buddies!" Kelley yelled as she jumped into Christen's arms. Tobin was in a bit of shock, but insanely proud of her girlfriend. Tobin wasn't sure what her plans after high school would be, but she would gladly follow Christen to California if that was what she wanted. Kelley placed a couple of slightly drink and fairly sloppy kisses to Christen's cheek before Tobin and Alex pulled her away.
"Congratulations Christen, we're all really proud of you," Alex said, hugging her. Tobin went in for the hug next and just sort of stood there for a moment, holding onto Christen.
"It's really far away, but I wanna make it work," Christen said softly and Tobin nodded.
"I'll fucking move if I have to," Tobin said and Christen chuckled. "There's beaches over there and somebody else has to keep an eye on Kelley with you."
"We'll have that Stanford connection Tobs, it'll be fine," Kelley said, putting an arm around Christen's shoulders. The rest of the party went smoothly, Tobin didn't have a drop of alcohol, which Christen thought was a little weird, but she welcomed it nonetheless. Ashlyn and Ali were the first to leave, Ashlyn promising Christen a friend date as her birthday gift and Ali telling her it'd be a trip to the aquarium to see sharks. Alex and Kelley left around 10, Alex lugging a drunk Kelley back to her house, glad that her parents were out on their date night.
"Come on," Tobin said excitedly. Christen followed her into the garage, which was more of a place for Tobin's painting things than a place for cars to be parked. The entire garage had been decorated romantically and there was a large canvas covered by tarp in the center of the room. Tobin ran to it and set her hand on the tarp before she pulled it off. Christen's jaw dropped at the sight of what Tobin had painted for her: flowers surrounding a photograph of Christen that she didn't remember ever sending to Tobin. "Do you like it?"
"Tobin, I love it, it's beautiful," Christen said, running to jump into Tobin's arms. "Thank you so much."
"That isn't everything I got you. Wait here and close your eyes," Tobin instructed and Christen nodded. She closed her eyes and then put her hands over them to make sure they were really covered. Christen heard Tobin walk around for a bit before walking back over to Christen and clearing her throat. "You can open them now. I realize that it was dumb to give you the small thing first, but I couldn't wait to show you that."
"You're gonna make me cry," Christen said softly as she took the wrapped book from Tobin. She opened it and was slightly surprised to see an empty sketchbook.
"You won't give me a peek at that sketchbook you carry around all the time, so I was hoping that you'd fill that one with whatever and then show those to me one day." Christen leaned up and wrapped her arms around Tobin's neck in a hug. Tobin wrapped her arms around Christen's waist and smiled, glad that her girlfriend liked the presents she had gotten her. Christen took Tobin upstairs for the rest of her presents and then they went up to Tobin's room to go to bed.
"Happy birthday," Tobin said, laying down in her bed. Tobin wasn't really all that tired and normally Christen didn't go to sleep that early unless she wasn't feeling too well.
"Thank you, but it's not over yet," Christen said and Tobin raised an eyebrow at her. Christen grabbed the Stanford hoodie from the back of Tobin's desk chair and then walked to the bathroom. Christen changed into a black lace lingerie set with stockings before putting the hoodie on over it and walking back into Tobin's room, carrying her outfit from earlier that day. Tobin was on her phone, which Christen had been counting on. She set her clothes by the backpack she always brought over when she stayed before clearing her throat to get Tobin's attention.
"Wow, that is, um, quite the..." Tobin was at a complete loss for words. That was a rarity, Tobin wasn't necessarily a chatty Cathy, but she had never been that flustered in front of another girl. "It's a bit chilly."
"Well you'll just have to keep me warm then," Christen said and Tobin's throat went completely dry. Christen's confidence faltered around the 2nd minute of silence between them and she tugged at the bottom of the hoodie in an attempt to cover more of herself. "It's too much isn't it? God, I'm so stupid, we didn't really talk about this enough for me to think it was a good idea. I'm just gonna go."
"Wait no, you want me to..." Tobin trailed off and Christen nodded. "Are you sure?"
"More than anything right now Tobin. I wouldn't be standing in front of you like this if I wasn't now would I?"
"No you wouldn't," Tobin said and Christen gave her a small smile. "If you're sure about this, by all means, come take a seat."
"I thought you'd never say that," Christen said with a sigh of relief. She moved towards Tobin and then straddled her lap. Tobin's hands fell to Christen's sides and Christen leaned down to kiss Tobin. The two of them stayed like that together for a minute or two, just kissing and enjoying the feeling of being close to one another. It became evident to Christen after their kiss that she was going to be setting the pace for them. She wasn't sure if she could pleasure Tobin just yet, but she knew that eventually she'd get the hang of it.
Christen broke the kiss and leaned back a bit to take off Tobin's Stanford hoodie. Tobin stared at her body, taking in the skin revealed to her. Tobin's hands moved up a little from Christen's sides until her fingertips were touching the bottom part of Christen's bra. Christen's breath hitched when Tobin began to press open-mouthed kisses along her neck. The two of them had gotten pretty hot and heavy while they made out before, but it had never been like this. The implications of the situation had been different and Christen had never felt more alive in her entire life. Christen moved Tobin's hands behind her back to the strap of her bra and Tobin's hands moved on instinct to undo her bra. The black lace garment fell down partially and if Tobin wasn't too preoccupied with staring at Christen, she would have taken a picture to keep forever.
"Tobin, staring isn't going to keep this going," Christen said, getting a little self conscious. "Jesus Christ, take a picture or something."
"Of course," Tobin said, reaching to grab her camera. It wasn't the one that Christen had bought her, that one would be for really special things, but the one she used to take pictures normally. Christen rolled her eyes as Tobin turned off the camera and set it down before going back to focusing on Christen. She pulled the bra down the rest of the way and flipped them so that Christen was on her back. Tobin dropped her head down to give Christen a kiss and each time she did, things got a little more intense. Tobin sat back to take her own shirt off and took a second to admire Christen lying beneath her. "You're breathtaking."
Christen blushed, but smiled back up at Tobin. Tobin leaned down pressed kisses all over Christen's neck and chest. Christen's skin felt like it was burning where Tobin's mouth was touching her and all it did was make her want more. Christen didn't want to get greedy though, she wasn't completely certain that it was something she could do yet. Tobin's mouth continued to inch down and kiss every bit of skin that Christen would let her get to. As Tobin fell between Christen's legs, the younger senior found herself panicking a little. She was scared, even though she had prepared in every way she could think of, she wasn't sure if Tobin would like having sex with her. Tobin glanced up to see Christen staring off into space with a more than slightly panicked look on her face.
"Hey, it's okay, we don't have to," Tobin said, sitting up and grabbing her shirt. Tobin held it out towards Christen, who took a few deep breaths, cleared her head of everything except for Tobin, and then pushed the shirt away. "Are you sure you want to keep going?"
"Yes, I want this Tobin. I wouldn't be here like this if I wasn't," Christen said and Tobin nodded. Tobin leaned back down and began to press a few kisses to the insides of Christen's thighs. There had been little moans, gasps, and sharp intakes of breath from Christen before, but it hadn't been like when Tobin's lips touched the sensitive skin there. Tobin would have just stayed there all night, content with the noises Christen was making and the bit of squirming that was causing her to do. Christen, however, had other plans and the teasing was beginning to get to her. She pushed Tobin back a little bit and lifted her hips off of the bed. Christen took one of Tobin's hands and placed it so that she could easily just remove her underwear. "Please."
Tobin had never heard Christen's voice so needy and it drove her a little crazy. Once Christen was naked, Tobin had to really push her brain to focus. All she wanted to do was stare at Christen's body, but she knew that it would make the other girl self-conscious and a bit nervous at the very least. Tobin didn't understand why Christen didn't see herself the same way that Tobin did, but then again, Tobin was certain that Christen saw her in a different light than she saw herself. Christen glanced down at Tobin and managed to do it as Tobin was looking up at her and their eyes met. Tobin realized then and there that she would never want to be in this position with anybody else. She didn't want to loving look into eyes that weren't Christen's, Tobin realized that she didn't want to be with anybody else in the entire world. Being with Christen felt right and she had never been that certain of anything else in her entire life.
Christen gave Tobin a little smile as the older girl dipped her head down a bit. Christen moaned at the first movement of Tobin's tongue. Tobin moved very slowly at first, savoring the taste of Christen on her tongue and the sounds that Christen was making from pleasure. As Christen's breathing began to get a little more ragged, Tobin decided to focus her tongue's efforts on the younger girl's clit. Tobin slowly slid a finger inside of Christen and kept at a slow pace as Christen began to squirm from pleasure and moan loudly. The closer Christen got, the more Tobin was glad that they were completely alone in the house. Tobin added another finger and slowed her pace down so that it didn't become too much.
"Tobin... Fuck, I think I'm g-gonna... Fuck!" Christen screamed out in pleasure as she came. She thrashed wildly as she continued to scream and moan things out in pleasure, the rest of her words lost and incoherent. Tobin watched her and bit her lip, getting more turned on from that than anything else. Once Christen calmed down, Tobin offered her the shirt from before, but this time Christen accepted it. "Thank you."
"Get some rest, you look tired," Tobin said and Christen was going to argue against it, but once Tobin wrapped her arms around Christen's waist, the argument was lost on her. "Later, I promise. I don't want you to be overwhelmed, a lot has happened tonight. Let's just take a moment to relax and get some sleep."
"Okay," Christen agreed. "I love you."
"I love you too," Tobin said and Christen yawned as she snuggled further into Tobin's side.
Tobin laid down in her bed, staring up at her ceiling with a dopey grin on her face. She looked over at Christen and her heart skipped a beat. Her girlfriend looked perfectly at peace in her bed, in her arms, and was wearing her shirt to top it all off. Tobin could have laid there forever, her body would have protested, but if Christen wanted her there, she'd do anything to stay there. Tobin glanced over at the window and the little bit of sunlight that was pouring into the room through the curtains. Before Christen, Tobin kept blackout curtains so she could sleep as long as she wanted to. In all honesty, Tobin didn't remember when her curtains changed or who changed them, but she did know that it was ultimately because of Christen. So much in Tobin's life had changed since Christen had come into her life and Tobin knew that they were for the better. Christen had really helped Tobin to get her life a bit more on track than it had been before.
"Mm, how long have you been up?" Christen asked and Tobin shrugged. "Well, did you sleep okay?"
"Definitely," Tobin answered with a small smile. "How'd you sleep?"
"I haven't slept that hard in forever," Christen said with a little chuckle. "So, is there a plan for today?"
"Nope, we can do whatever you want," Tobin told her. "So, what do you want to do?"
"Go get breakfast," Christen answered and Tobin smiled at her.
"A woman after my own heart." Christen got out of Tobin's bed and started getting ready. Despite the fact that Tobin didn't really do a lot to get ready, she still took super long showers. Christen was pretty sure that Tobin took the longest showers of anybody she knew of, but Tobin swore that Ashlyn was way worse about them. Christen came back into Tobin's room after her shower and blushed immediately after noticing the look that Tobin was giving her. "Too early?"
"I, uh, get shower," Tobin said before running out of the room. She mentally cursed herself for that, but she could hear Christen laughing to herself about it and decided she'd redeem herself for it. Christen was dressed, had her hair up, put on a little makeup on, and was sitting downstairs waiting for Tobin by the time she had gotten out of the shower. Tobin put on a bra, underwear, and a pair of joggers before walking downstairs, deciding she'd wear a hoodie instead of a shirt and the one she wanted was still downstairs. "Have you seen the UNC hoodie?"
"Yeah, it's on the back of the chair," Christen said, not looking up from her phone. Tobin cleared her throat and Christen looked up, her jaw immediately falling open. Tobin walked towards her, noticing the light blue hoodie behind her. Tobin leaned down a little bit so that it looked like she was going to kiss Christen, but instead grabbed the hoodie and put it on.
"Come on, I'm hungry," Tobin said, pulling Christen up onto her feet. "I'll drive."
"Do you have your license?" Christen asked and Tobin pulled out her wallet and showed Christen. "I'm honestly kind of surprised. Also, I didn't know you have a job."
"Yeah, I have for a little while now," Tobin said and Christen got into the passenger's seat of her car. Christen asked Tobin about her job on the drive to the restaurant where they'd be eating breakfast. They didn't go in immediately, Christen texting Alex and Ali to see if they wanted to join them, as well as bringing Kelley and Ashlyn along. They waited in the parking lot for about 15 minutes before their friends had arrived, Alex and Ali showing up in Alex's car, that looked new, and Kelley and Ashlyn in Ashlyn's Jeep.
"Dude, she's so high," Tobin said, putting an arm around Kelley. Ashlyn nodded and Tobin sighed, missing the fun of getting high sometimes. "When did she smoke last?"
"Right before we left," Ashlyn said and Tobin walked Kelley inside. "We smoked a bit last night, but we saved quite a bit for New Years. Alex said she was gonna smoke it with us as long as we do it before January 5th so it's out of our systems by the time testing for everything rolls around."
"I'm gonna have to test aren't I?" Tobin asked and Ashlyn nodded. "Shit."
"You have barely touched a cigarette since October, you'll be fine," Ashlyn said and Tobin shrugged. She was right, Tobin had smoked maybe once or twice a week, if that sometimes. Kelley had almost cut nicotine out of her vape, promising Alex that if she bought more oil, it'd be zero nicotine. Ashlyn had, under Hope's influence, given up pretty much everything aside from a beer with her dinner and a joint or two in the offseason.
"Yeah, but I don't want to revert back to that," Tobin said and Ashlyn put a hand on her shoulder. "I mean, she seems really happy with the progress I've made."
"And she'll still be there if you relapse. She'll chew your ass out, but she'll help you because that girl loves you like I love Ali." Ashlyn's words made Tobin feel a bit better about their New Years party, which would most likely just be the six of them and maybe a few other friends. Tobin remembered last year's party where Ashlyn ended up inviting Megan, Whitney, and a few other girls from their school. That had been fun and they had all gotten completely trashed that night. Megan had been on their couch for almost two full days because she was too far gone to go back home without her parents giving her crap.
"She'll be disappointed," Tobin said and Ashlyn nodded. Tobin was surprised that nobody bothered them about what may or may not have happened last night, but then again, everybody knew she was prepared to kick some ass. Tobin couldn't help herself from watching Christen, loving how carefree and happy her girlfriend was with their friends.
"Can one of you drop Tobin off please?" Christen asked and Ashlyn nodded. "Thank you."
"We should go surfing," Kelley said and Ashlyn glanced at Tobin as if to ask her if she wanted to go surfing. "Can we go surfing?"
"That sounds fun, it's been awhile," Tobin answered and Kelley pumped her fists in celebration. "Maybe we can go to a field later and play a little soccer too."
"Prepare to get your ass kicked Heath," Kelley said and Tobin rolled her eyes. "Somebody call Alyssa."
"She went with Hope to some meeting. I doubt they're back yet," Alex said and Kelley frowned. "Call Jane, she's available to play."
"Deal," Kelley said, scrolling through her contacts before taking Alex's phone to find the freshman's number.
"Another shot like that and my wrists are going to be broken," Jane said as she passed the ball to Kelley. Kelley gave her an apologetic look, but ran the ball past Tobin and slotted it through Ashlyn's arm and leg for a goal.
"Too fast!" Kelley yelled excitedly.
"Or I'm just out of practice," Tobin said and Kelley gave her a look. "You are fast though."
"Duh, I know I am," Kelley said with a little smirk. "There's a reason I'm a super sub."
"Were a super sub," Tobin corrected and Kelley punched her shoulder. "Wanna call Alex and Ali to join us?"
"Yeah, Alex and I will kick your asses," Kelley promised and Tobin rolled her eyes. Kelley called Alex and Ashlyn called Ali to ensure that their friends would be coming. Alex got there first, dressed in her practice kit from junior year. It fit fairly well for the most part, but was a little tighter around her arms. "Damn, you look good."
"Thanks babe," Alex said, kissing Kelley's forehead. Once Ali got there, they got set up again and the game was underway. Ali crossed the ball to Tobin and Kelley was prepared to make the tackle when Tobin got closer, but Alex wasn't planning on letting her get closer. She slid in for the tackle, managed to knock the ball away from Tobin, and didn't get back up again. Kelley immediately ran over to her, pushing Tobin back and out of her way as she checked on Alex. Alex laid on the ground in tears, clutching her knee. "It hurts."
"It's okay, hey. We'll take you to the doctor, is that what you want?" Kelley tried to comfort Alex, but could feel herself beginning to freak out a little. Ashlyn carried Alex to her Jeep and drove her to the hospital while Ali took Jane home and Tobin took Alex's car. Kelley rode up with Ashlyn and Alex, not wanting to leave her girlfriend's side. Ashlyn called Alex's parents, Tobin called Christen, and Kelley called Hope.
"Hey Kel, what's up?" Hope asked.
"Alex is in the hospital. We were playing, she went in for a slide tackle, and now she's hurt pretty badly," Kelley said and Hope swore under her breath.
"How bad do you think it is?"
"It looks pretty bad, like it was more than her usual fall."
"I need you to tell me as soon as you find out more okay?"
"Of course," Kelley said and Hope hung up. It was nearly another hour before the doctors came out and told anybody what was happening. They talked to Alex's parents, who told Ali and Ashlyn, the latter coming over to tell Kelley. "This is my fault isn't it?"
"It was an accident," Ashlyn said, putting a hand on Kelley's back. "It is pretty bad though. ACL tear, but they said that it isn't a new one. It looks like she tore it a little bit earlier, but this just did it worse. She'll be lucky if she manages to get back into shape in six months. Did you notice her knee was messed up before?"
"No, nothing seemed out of the ordinary," Kelley said, glancing down at her phone. "I can't believe she didn't mention it though."
"I can, Alex loves playing, more than anything else. They think she did it a little bit before the fall season ended," Ashlyn said and Kelley sighed. "Maybe three weeks before the last game from how it was healing."
"This is a mess," Kelley said with a sigh.
"Yeah, but it's a mess that we'll all help her get through," Ashlyn said and Kelley nodded. "She'll need you to be there for her, but don't hover around her."
"I'll do my best."
Hope laid her head down on the desk in her home office. There was so much going on, too much. Hope's dreams of being a professional soccer player were so close to becoming a reality. Technically, she had the chance to go pro right out of college, but she looked at what she would be getting for playing with the Reign compared to what one of her friends would be getting playing for the Sounders and declined. She had went over to Europe for a bit, but she had never played on an actual team. She had done camps with different teams and had gotten her coaching certificate. Hope travelled for a bit, making money by doing as many "odd jobs" as she could before settling down and getting a job as a high school soccer coach.
"Come to bed," Carli said and Hope lifted her head up to look at Carli. "You look tired."
"I am tired," Hope admitted and Carli tried to pull her out of her chair. "But I have too much to sort through."
"What's that?" Carli asked, noticing the puffy envelope on Hope's desk. "Anything I need to know about?"
"Yeah, actually it is because we need to discuss this together," Hope said, grabbing it and taking Carli to the living room. Hope pulled all of the paperwork out of it and set it on the table. "The Reign got a new coach, Laura Harvey, and she's asked me to come and play for them. She sent me three contracts, one for a season, one for two, and one for five. The two has a loan offering for me to go play in Portugal for an offseason and the five has me with 3 loan periods, one at Goteborg and two at Lyon. I have until June to sign them and it'll take effect next year so I can at least finish out this year of teaching."
"Hope, the girls would be devastated if you left," Carli said and Hope sighed. "But, if this is what you want, I'll support you in any way I can."
"I want it so badly Carli, but I'm an adult now, like a real adult. I can't just up and move myself wherever. I'm gonna be 27 in July," Hope said with an exasperated sigh. "It's so late for me to just go back and play."
"Try a season Hope, see how it goes," Carli said and Hope looked like she wanted to cry. "Try a season next year and if you like it, keep at it. You can use this year to train for it with the girls and you can get your job back if you don't want to keep playing professionally."
"Alright, I will," Hope said and Carli hugged her tightly. "I'll play for a season and we'll see how that goes."
"I'll be right here waiting for you when I have to be and then I'll be up there as soon as I can, I promise," Carli said and Hope signed the one year contract and then sealed the envelope.
"I hope this is really the right thing to be doing," Hope said and Carli shrugged.
"It'll make you happy, I can see how much you miss playing," Carli said and Hope ran a hand through her hair. "You're about to get the Reign a whole new set of fans."
"Rapinoe is going to freak," Hope said and Carli chuckled at that. "Oh shit I have to tell the girls I'm leaving."
"Yeah, you have to," Carli said and Hope sighed. "But I'll be there with you. Even when you tell Abby."
"Can you tell Abby?" Hope asked and Carli shook her head. "Damn, thought so."
"Man, you all look rough," Hope said as she looked at the girls standing in front of her. They had gone out and partied, Hope had seen the videos that were circulating around and she had gotten several calls from different parents telling her that making them run was completely acceptable. Hope could tell who had gone out and partied and who hadn't by who looked more like they wanted to die. "Harris, come here."
"Yes coach," Ashlyn croaked, slowly shuffling her feet forward. Hope faced her towards the other girls and then looked at them before calling up everybody who was going to be doing extra running.
"Take a good look at each other because you can learn something. You guys can go join Abby and Carli in the gym for your practice, the rest of you are with me," Hope said. The few girls who hadn't gone out and partied super hard last night went inside and the rest of them stayed outside with Hope. "You all know what is acceptable behavior if you are playing a season with me. Some of you are younger, yes, but common sense may kick in. I was surprised by some of the calls I got this morning from some of your parents, so I'm doing you a mercy by having this practice because you sure as shit don't want to go home. Ashlyn, Ali, Emily, and Sydney step out please."
"Are you gonna call us out?" Sydney asked and Hope chuckled at her. "What, we weren't the only ones partying."
"You weren't, but I do know who was throwing the parties. Sprints or endurance run?" Hope asked and everybody looked confused. "You all like leading the pack, pick what you spend today's practice doing."
"The whole practice?" Emily asked and Hope nodded. "Guys, we have to do endurance runs, we'd hurt ourselves sprinting for 2 hours."
"She has a point," Ali said and their group agreed. "Endurance run."
"Up and down the field, you break for water every 5. One is there and back," Hope said and everybody got in a line. Hope sat back, blew the whistle, and waited for one of them to snap at her. She was fairly surprised that Sydney hadn't been the first one to snap at her. Normally, if she dished any sort of team punishment, Hope got the first earful from Sydney. Instead, it came from Ashlyn after about 30 minutes of running. It had started with Ashlyn just stopping, to which Hope questioned her with, "Harris, what do you think you're doing?"
"Not this bullshit, I didn't even smoke!" Ashlyn screamed at Hope. "I'm not doing this, you can't make me!"
"Fine, fucking bear crawl it then," Hope said and Ashlyn pushed her. "Is this the game you want to play Harris?"
"I'm not going to do this."
"Then consider yourself benched until you get it done," Hope said and Ashlyn chased after her as the coach went back to the bench she'd been sitting on. "Can I help you with something?"
"If all of us refuse to do this, you can't bench us all," Ashlyn said and Hope raised an eyebrow at her.
"Huh, I didn't realize you were in charge of what I can't do," Hope said and Ashlyn was getting frustrated. "Get back there before I actually make you bear crawl while everybody else runs."
"I'm leaving!" Ashlyn yelled, taking her bag and going to the parking lot. Hope let her leave and looked back at the other girls, who were still running. Hope knew that it was likely they heard the screaming match between them, but she knew that most of them wouldn't say anything about it out of fear for having to do bear crawls up and down the field. At the hour mark, Hope let them stop and rest for a bit.
"Um, what happened earlier?" Tierna, one of the freshman asked. Everybody looked back at her and Ali went and sat by her. "I'm just sort of confused, sorry."
"Ashlyn pulled what has over the past couple of years become a 'Sydney' with me, but unlike Leroux, she does not have Abby to come and protect her when the shit hits the fan," Hope said and Sydney pouted at her. "Syd, you do realize that this is the third time that you've been a part of a punishment and not bitched at me for it?"
"Okay, fair point, but what's gonna happen to her?" Sydney asked, fearing for what Hope was going to do to her. "Because like I saw what you put Alyssa through at the open gym thing and Alyssa is literally your favorite aside from that girl that only plays in the summer club."
"That's for all of you actually, but we won't start that just yet. As for Ashlyn, I'm going to talk to her grandmother, then her, and if she decides to stay with the team, she'll be benched until she finishes," Hope said and Sydney glanced back at Ali.
"She's gonna kill your girlfriend Kriegs," Sydney said and everybody agreed.
"I do actually want to talk to you guys about something," Hope said and everybody made sure to pay attention. "If I do something like this that you think is unfair or 'fucking sadistic bullshit torture' as Sydney has eloquently put it, don't be afraid to tell me. You can come talk to me and maybe we'll see if there's something else that I can have you do because it's all for a reason. I want you guys to be in good shape, I won't make you continue if I think it'll harm you. I have called people out of these early before because I know what can be handled by the majority of you. However, if you want to come at me like Ashlyn just did and like Sydney likes to, the alternative is going to be worse than whatever I was having you do then. When Ashlyn comes back, she's crawling the fields for that practice, no matter how long it is. There is a method to the way I run practices and workouts, which means sometimes you just gotta try to brave it."
"Can I be excused to call Ashlyn?" Ali asked and Hope nodded. Part of Hope wanted to tell them that she was going to leave next year for a bit, but she couldn't find it in herself to do so just quite yet.
"Starting January 10th, we're going to be having more intense practices. I want you to reach the highest level of playing possible, or at least for all of you to be capable of it, so I'm combining elements from my old playing days to make workouts for all of you. There will be a testing for the next two practices to determine where you fit in. Go in the gym and see what Carli and Abby want you doing. I have a call to make," Hope said and they all walked to the gym.
"You are dead. You are like, so dead," Kelley said and Ashlyn wanted to scream.
"It wasn't fucking fair," Ashlyn whined and Kelley gave her a look. "I'm dead. What if she calls Nana?"
"Then you'll get your ass whooped," Kelley said with a chuckle. "You realize Hope's so gonna tell her right?"
"Oh my god she is," Ashlyn whined and Kelley put a hand on her friend's back.
"I mean, she knows how to get you to do stuff," Kelley said and Ashlyn wanted to cry. "Wait until Tobin and Christen hear about this one."
"Tobin will laugh at my pain and Christen will wonder why the hell I'd do that," Ashlyn said, already knowing what would happen. Tobin and Christen got back to the house about 20 minutes later and Ashlyn was about to fill them in when Tobin asked the question Ashlyn had been dreading.
"Why is Chris driving Nana Harris over here?" Tobin asked and Ashlyn froze. "We passed them on the way here."
"She yelled at Hope at practice and then stormed off," Kelley said, cackling. Tobin laughed and then realized the seriousness of the situation.
"Dude, she's gonna whoop your ass," Tobin said and Christen raised an eyebrow at her. Ashlyn spent about 2 minutes panicking and then she heard the car pull up. She went outside and her friends stayed inside. They kind of just sat on the couch awkwardly, able to hear Ashlyn getting her ass chewed out for how she had acted at practice. "So, um, how was your day Kel?"
"Oh, it was nice. I cleaned up my room and made some vegan cookies for Alex," Kelley said and Tobin nodded. "How was the beach?"
"We didn't swim, but we got nice pictures and then went to get ice cream," Tobin answered and Kelley glanced behind her.
"Does this happen a lot?" Christen asked and Kelley shook her head.
"It used to happen all the time to her brother when he did dumb shit, but Ashlyn learned from seeing what happened to him not to," Kelley said and Christen flinched as she heard Ashlyn get hit. "I think she got a switch."
"Damn," Tobin said, wanting to fold in on herself. They sat there for about 10 more minutes and then Ashlyn walked back in. She didn't say anything, but just went upstairs, packed a bag, and then came back downstairs. "What happened?"
""Um, well, I have to go talk to Hope, but I'm staying over there without my car for a few weeks. I'm not allowed to go to Ali's or stay the night here. I'm on lockdown," Ashlyn said and Kelley moved to hug her. "It won't be too bad, right guys?"
"At least you get good food all the time," Kelley said and Ashlyn nodded. Ashlyn left and they all sat back down again, not sure what to do now. "I can't believe she got grounded."
"Neither can I," Tobin said, never having heard of Ashlyn getting grounded like that before.
"My legs feel like jelly," Julie complained as she walked up the stairs of Alyssa's house towards her girlfriend's room. "Why are your stairs so spaced out?"
"We're a tall bunch I guess," Alyssa joked, unphased by the hour of running she had also partaken in.
"I hate you so fucking much right now. I hate everything honestly," Julie said and Alyssa scooped her up and carried her the rest of the way. Julie had let out a little yelp, but didn't protest it at all. Alyssa closed her door, locked it, and then dropped Julie onto her bed. "Get off of me this fucking instant. I love you, I swear, but you need to fucking get off of me."
"Are you okay?" Alyssa asked and Julie pushed her backwards. "Alright, fuck JJ, I'm sorry. I'm gonna go get something to eat, you want me to bring you up something?" Julie didn't say anything, just burst into tears on Alyssa's bed. "Hey, what's wrong?"
"I was really mean to you and you're just trying to be a good girlfriend," Julie wailed and Alyssa sat down next to her and tried to comfort her. Julie continued to wail and sob on Alyssa's bed, the goalkeeper getting increasingly uncomfortable. She wasn't really the best with comforting people who were really upset. "Fuck, you hate crying. I'm the worst."
"No you're not, you're frustrated from practice and sore, I get it. You snapped at me, I don't like that, but I'm not holding it against you. It's okay to be upset, part of being in a relationship should be that you comfort the other person when they're upset."
"You're the best Lys," Julie said, pulling Alyssa onto her. Alyssa rolled onto her back next to Julie and turned her head so she was looking at her girlfriend. "I'm sorry for being an ass."
"It's okay, even when you're an ass, there's nobody I'd rather be with," Alyssa promised, kissing Julie's knuckles.
"Look at you being all romantic, I love it. I love you." Julie leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to Alyssa's lips, which the keeper deepened. "Nap?"
"Nap," Alyssa repeated in confirmation. Julie settled into Alyssa's arms as she quickly drifted off to sleep, exhaustion hitting her full force.
Alex laid in her bed, wanting nothing more than to go outside and kick a ball around. Instead, she was stuck in her bed all alone. Kelley was supposed to have come over earlier, but she had yet to make it over. There were texts on her phone from her teammate about soccer drama at practice including some parties, some running, and a fight between Ashlyn and Hope. Alex had read over them a couple of times, but didn't care enough to connect every dot. Tobin had texted her that Ashlyn was grounded and out of the house for a few weeks, which Alex found ridiculous. Ashlyn had never had a problem with Hope's punishments before, so why would she have all of the sudden then.
"Hey Lex," Kelley said, pushing Alex's bedroom door open and throwing off her train of thought. "I made you vegan cookies, they're terrible, but you'll like them. Oh and Ashlyn has to go talk to Hope tomorrow morning about whatever happened at practice. Also, she got her ass whooped."
"I fucking bet," Alex said, a little irritated. She had been in the hospital until that morning, so she had missed out on the New Years party that her friends threw. "I fucking hate this."
"I know, but it won't last forever," Kelley promised.
"Feed me a cookie?" Alex asked, a little whine to her voice. Kelley opened the container and grabbed a cookie, holding it in front of Alex's mouth. Alex leaned forward a little and accepted it, smiling when she bit into it. "These are really good."
"No fucking way, I tried one and immediately hated it," Kelley said and Alex sighed. "So, if you're up to it tomorrow, I think we should go on a breakfast date."
"I'd really like that, I want to go out into the world. I regret painting my walls white," Alex said and Kelley leaned in and kissed her. "You taste gross."
"I ate three cheeseburgers on the way here," Kelley said proudly. "I didn't have time to brush my teeth in the car."
"Gum exists Kelley," Alex said and Kelley pouted at her. "I'm sorry, this is making me crazy. I know it'll only get worse."
"Well, I'll take care of you babygirl," Kelley said and Alex raised an eyebrow at her.
"Don't call me that unless you plan on taking care of whatever feelings that arise from it," Alex said and Kelley placed her hand in between Alex's legs. "We can't right now, somebody is gonna come in here in like 5 minutes to give me a pain pill and then I'll be too loopy to do anything."
"I can take a nap. Making gross vegan shit makes a bitch tired," Kelley said, yawning.
"It is not that bad you pussy," Alex said, letting Kelley carefully get settled in her bed. Alex's mom came in a few minutes later and gave Alex her pain medications, smiling fondly at Kelley as she slept beside her friend. "She ate three burgers on the way here."
"She gave your father two and there were about four wrappers in the bag, she ate more than three Alex. I swear her metabolism is crazy."
"She's crazy too though, but that's part of why I love her mom," Alex said as she ran her fingers through Kelley's hair.
"I know Alex, I know."
"Alright ladies, this is the first game of the year. For quite a few of us, it's the last first game we'll ever get to have at this school. It's the last first game we'll ever have together. I know that makes everybody kind of sad, but use it as inspiration to play your heart out tonight. I don't know about the rest of the seniors on the team, but I sure as hell want a win tonight. We've been working so hard, everybody has. Over break, I saw you guys coming into the gym and getting onto the ice. We've got this, let's show them how we play hockey ladies!" Meghan exclaimed into the quiet locker room full of her teammates. Meghan hopped down from the bench and walked to her locker. It was quiet for a few more moments. Normally Hilary and Brianna would be running around and pumping everybody up by now, but both of them were quiet.
"Are you okay?" Amanda asked Brianna. They weren't necessarily the most likely of friends to anybody outside of the hockey team. Amanda was sweet, popular, passive, and a straight A student. Brianna came off as a little prickly to most people, didn't hang out with the majority of the really popular kids, had a fight first response to anything she could, and kept her grades up enough to always qualify for the hockey team. Brianna glanced up at Amanda with the same expression a child who was confused about why they were sad would. "Hey, it's okay. Do you wanna come take a walk with me? Come on, let's take a walk."
"I didn't answer you," Brianna said and Amanda rolled her eyes. Brianna got up and walked out of the locker room with her anyways. They had quite a bit of time before the game started and the other team got there. Technically, they had already gotten there, Nat had texted them that the bus was in the city, but they were caught up in traffic. Amanda walked Brianna out into the lobby of the ice arena and sat down on top of the concessions counter. "What a walk."
"This is more of a talking type of walk," Amanda said and Brianna groaned. "Nat's gonna come in here soon and you'll get to see her. We'll play some hockey and you'll come back to Hilary or Kacey's to spend the night, just like we've been doing since we had to have the ends of our skates and sticks covered. Nothing is different except that at the start of the next season, we'll be the ones mentoring the next class of players like they've been doing. I know that you're gonna miss them, but we'll see them again. Go through it like a normal game, go back in there and pump everybody up. Because that's what everybody needs and I know that Hilary isn't gonna be able to do it if you aren't with her."
"You know, I really love you Kess," Brianna said and Amanda hugged her friend. "You're a really good friend."
"You always protected me when I was little, sometimes better than my brothers. I'm just trying to be there for you like you were for me when we were little. As ridiculous as this is gonna sound, I wished that I was a little more like you. I still do," Amanda said and Brianna sniffled.
"Shit Kess, you're gonna make me cry," Brianna said and Amanda bit her lip. She didn't meet Brianna's eyes as a tear rolled down her cheek. Once it fell onto her hand, it set something off and she started to cry. Brianna immediately put her arm around Amanda and held her close until she had calmed down a bit.
"Hilary's gonna be gone and what if she leaves me for some older college girl?" Amanda asked and Brianna scoffed.
"Sorry, but Hils is head over heels for you Kess. Besides, if she broke your heart, I'd personally kick her ass Decker style," Brianna said and Amanda cracked a little smile. "Phil and Blake would help me beat her up too. I bet Meghan, Kacey, and Zoe would too. It'll never happen though, I bet you guys will get married and have children that fortunately look more like you, but be tall like her."
"I can't believe there's not a single Patriots jacket in any of the stores we've checked," Alyssa complained and Julie shrugged it off.
"Maybe it's because the Patriots aren't gonna win," Zach said and Alyssa quirked an eyebrow at him. "I mean, let's be honest."
"Have faith in Tom Brady," Alyssa said as she continued walking. "They've got this in the bag. It is the Seahawks they're playing."
"You mean it'll be the Seahawks they'll lose to," Hope said, scaring the shit out of Alyssa. "Am I right or am I right?"
"You're right," Zach said and Hope gave the tall boy a high five. "Your coach is smart."
"No she isn't," Carli said, jogging to catch up to her girlfriend. "She's rooting against the Pats, that's not smart Ertz."
"Exactly," Alyssa said and Hope rolled her eyes. "Just admit defeat."
"I'm tempted to pull some strings to get tickets," Hope said and Carli shook her head. "Yeah, I know, wait until I absolutely have to leave."
"Speaking of that, we need to catch Abby up on that thing," Carli said, tugging Hope away from everybody else.
"Hope said Seahawks," Zach said with a small smile. "Obviously that must mean they're gonna take it."
"No, it means that she's from that area," Alyssa said, crossing her arms over her chest. "She's just naive and obviously doesn't know shit about football."
"Whatever," Julie said, pulling Alyssa towards the food court. "So, um, Melissa and Diana should be here somewhere."
"Melissa?" Zach asked, trying to remember who that was.
"We play club together in the summer." Julie gave him a clue as they looked around. It wasn't difficult for Julie to spot them, the tall teenager with the head of wild hair standing next to somebody the size of an 11 year old. Besides, Diana was wearing an oversized jersey with 'Tancredi' splayed across the back while Melissa was definitely wearing Erin's cut-off training shirt.
"This is where we third wheel," Alyssa said and Zach nodded.
"Kind of what I've been doing," Zach said and Alyssa pulled him over to get everybody Taco Bell. Alyssa knew exactly what Julie would want, so ordering wasn't an ordeal. Once she had gotten the food, she found where Julie was sitting with Melissa and Diana. "Hi, I don't think we've met really. I'm Zach."
"I know," Melissa said and Zach shook her head. "Melissa."
"Diana." Introductions were short and Melissa immediately went back to telling Julie about her concussion recovery.
"Absolute fucking hell," Melissa said. "Carm, Erin, and Sincy took turns driving me there. Diana would have, but Erin warned her that I got pretty snappy after the sessions, so that was a no go."
"I was pretty bad about mine last year," Julie said, glancing at Zach. He had been there the entire time, pretty much holding her hand. "I think the scariest part was the seizures."
"Definitely," Alyssa agreed, holding onto Julie's hand a little tighter. They hadn't been dating then, but they had still been very close with each other. "You're cleared right?"
"Yep, it wasn't great, but it wasn't the worst I guess. The recovery stuff was mainly to really make sure that I didn't have any permanent brain damage," Melissa said nonchalantly. They continued talking and eventually the Superbowl was once again brought up, causing a whole new argument between Zach and Alyssa.
Kristie pulled her jacket a little tighter around herself as she walked towards Sydney's house. She would have driven, but after she'd been one of the girls who had ran at practice, she had lost her car privileges. Technically, she wasn't even supposed to be out of the house, but she had a problem. Kristie knew that it could have waited until the morning, rarely did anything had to be dealt with immediately between them, but she felt like it was an emergency. Kristie turned down Sydney's street and straight up sprinted to her best friend's doorstep.
"Kristie, what the fuck?" Sydney hissed as she rolled down her window. "Get your ass in the car, now!"
"Yeah, hi, sorry," Kristie said, buckling up. Sydney turned around in her driveway and sighed to herself. "Emergency."
"What kind of emergency?" Sydney asked, approaching a stop sign. Once the car was stopped, Kristie leaned over the center console and pressed her lips to Sydney's. Sydney kissed her back and then broke the kiss. "You walked 4 miles in the cold to kiss me."
"Yes I did. Can't sleep without a good night kiss," Kristie said and Sydney pressed a little kiss over where her vocal chords were. "You do this, I'm gonna need more than a good night kiss."
"I'm dropping you off at your house. We have school tomorrow," Sydney said and Kristie frowned at her. "And a 6 AM morning practice."
"Who scheduled it?" Kristie asked.
"I think it was Abby, Hope was whining at her yesterday afternoon," Sydney told her. Sydney drove to Kristie's and dropped her off. "Kiss?"
"Wouldn't dream of leaving without one." Kristie leaned in and kissed Sydney softly. They hadn't discussed what they were, but Kristie did know that she really liked kissing Sydney and couldn't wait until they got to do more than just kiss.
"Hope, relax," Carli said calmly. Hope's leg had been bouncing for the past 30 minutes, something that Abby and Glennon were both taking note of. Neither of them had been in close enough proximity to realize that Hope had been doing that since Seattle sent her a contract to go play for them for a bit. In all honesty, Carli hadn't noticed until they sent the signed contract in that Hope had been doing that. Hope moved a lot normally, Carli was certain that she had an attention disorder at some level that caused that, but this was worse than normal. "It's fine."
"What's fine?" Abby asked and Hope sighed. "Did something happen? Are you going to jail? Do you have cancer?"
"Yes, not yet, and not to my knowledge," Hope answered nonchalantly. One almost wouldn't have been able to tell that Hope was insanely nervous, but Carli and Abby knew her better than that. "So, um, I'm leaving next year for a bit."
"Leaving where?" Abby asked and Hope looked at Carli for help.
"Hope, you could throw a dart blindfolded with your nondominant arm at this place on a map of the fucking world," Carli said and Hope let out a little whine. "Do I really have to do this for you?"
"Please, I promise to not drink so much wine that I pass out before I can make it up to you," Hope promised, holding out her pinky.
"You spend too much time around Emily," Carli said, annoyed. "Hope signed a contract to play a season or two with the Seattle Reign. We talked it out with the school board and she'll keep her normal job, but she'll just be off for a few months when she needs to be. Don't tell any of the players yet. Hope is doing that herself."
"Shit, uh, well, congrats. It was always your dream right?" Abby didn't sound like she was actually happy for Hope, but Hope hadn't been happy for herself. "What are you gonna do? When Hope's away and stuff."
"I'll join her for the summers, but when school is in session, I'll be here. I'm not leaving you in charge of the team alone," Carli said and Abby nodded. Hope's head shot up suddenly and she reached for her phone. Carli was going to ask what was going on, but Hope had already bolted. "That's new."
"I don't like it," Glennon said and Carli nodded. "Are you gonna check on her?"
"She gets to do a weird new thing three times before I start questioning her about it," Carli said and Hope came back a couple of minutes later. "Everything okay baby?"
"She calls you baby? Lame, Solo." Hope threw an ice cube from her drink at Abby for the teasing, almost starting an all out war between the two of ice cubes and full drinks.
"She calls me daddy sometimes too," Hope shot back and Carli slapped her chest. "Yeah, too far."
"Seriously, everything okay?" Carli asked and Hope nodded.
"I had a call to make," Hope said. "Should help us soon."
Ashlyn yawned as she pulled her shirt over her head. She had been pulling extra practices to try and get an edge for their tournament season, but it was starting to take a toll on her. All of that on top of the more intense practices that Hope was pushing for them was not making any of it better. Ashlyn was ready to just pass out on the couch, but Chris had made her go upstairs and sleep on her bed. She was grateful for that, she needed to sleep somewhere comfortable that wouldn't have her waking up with some weird pain that she couldn't quite place in the morning. Ali was going to be coming over in the morning to take her out for breakfast and then a shopping day. Ashlyn grabbed her phone and checked her bank balance, making sure she had enough money to get Ali a few things. Since getting grounded and having more practices, Ashlyn hadn't been getting in as many hours at work as she would have liked. She had enough, but things would be tight, luckily it wasn't like she had that many things to buy.
"Hey, wake up. If you don't have anything better to do, there are things around the house Chris has been too busy to do." Ashlyn would have argued with her grandmother about doing them, but she was smarter than that. Ashlyn had learned the hard way that arguing didn't get her anywhere at all. Ashlyn finished up the dishes, cleaned out the shed and garage, and then went upstairs to lay down and get some sleep. She woke up early in the morning to see an envelope with her name on it downstairs after she'd showered and gotten dress. Chris was sitting at the kitchen table eating a plate of the dinner that she had eaten last night.
"Morning tiny," Chris said tiredly. Ashlyn could tell he'd just gotten off work. "Nana left some money for you in that envelope. You did my work for me last night, so I put a little extra in there too."
"Thanks Chris," Ashlyn said, putting the money in her wallet. "As much as I like living here, I miss living at the house with Tobin and Kelley."
"I bet they miss you too," Chris said and Ashlyn sighed. "I know Ali misses getting to stay with you."
"She also misses the privacy. There's not an open door policy at the house," Ashlyn said and Chris fake gagged. "I'm also not really allowed to go stay with her."
"At least you're getting this date," Chris said and Ashlyn nodded. The two of them sat there and talked for a bit until Ashlyn heard Ali's car pull into the driveway. Ashlyn ran out to greet her girlfriend and they drove off together.
"Tobin and Kelley are meeting us at the mall for lunch, maybe before that. I think Alex and Christen are gonna be with them," Ali told Ashlyn once they were on the road again. "Also, I stayed the night with them the other night and fifth wheeling with them is the worst. Tobin and Christen made out for 20 minutes on the couch when we were watching The Lion King and then they went upstairs for four hours. Alex and Kelley at least waited until everybody else had gone to bed."
"Young love babe," Ashlyn explained and Ali groaned. "Can we detour or not?"
"After breakfast when my parents are working," Ali said and Ashlyn nodded, smiling. It had been too long for her, although, her body was a bit exhausted still. Ali picked out a place for them to eat breakfast at and Ashlyn tried speeding though the meal, but then remembered that if it was before 9 it didn't matter when they got done eating because Ali's mom would be home. "How are you feeling?"
"Exhausted, horny, bored out of my mind," Ashlyn complained and Ali frowned at her. "But now that I'm with you, two of things can be fixed."
"Which two?" Ali asked and Ashlyn leaned across the table to kiss her.
"Well, I'm not bored anymore because I've got you to keep me from that and well, hopefully we can fix my horny problem," Ashlyn said and Ali nodded. "It's 8:56."
"Go to the car while I pay," Ali said and Ashlyn gave her a look. "I'm paying and topping you."
"Whatever you say Ms. Krieger," Ashlyn said, running out to the car.
Alex laid in Kelley's arms, letting the older senior just hold her. They needed to get up sometime and get breakfast. Alex had heard Kelley's stomach grumble about 4 times in the past 20 minutes, but they were both so comfortable and happy laying there. Kelley was definitely awake, Alex could tell by her breathing and the sound of her heartbeat. Alex shifted a little and glanced up at Kelley, who was just sort of watching her with a content smile on her face. Alex leaned up and kissed Kelley, breaking the kiss with a small smile.
"Morning," Kelley said, her voice a little raspy from the lack of use. "How did you sleep?"
"Nicely, even though your bed is shit," Alex said and Kelley rolled her eyes. "We need to get you a new mattress."
"I'm burning it when I graduate," Kelley said and Alex rolled her eyes. "Seriously, it's gonna happen. How'd your knee feel?"
"It's not too bad this morning, but we will need to get the pain pills before we go to the mall," Alex said and Kelley nodded. She got up and handed Alex her crutches. Kelley went downstairs to make them breakfast as Alex got ready upstairs. She came downstairs in a white lace bra, matching underwear, and a barely-opened robe. Kelley had their food plated by the time Alex had gotten downstairs. "What did I do to deserve this?"
"Existed," Kelley said, tilting her head to the side. "Eat up, you need to keep your strength up."
"Kelley, I don't work out like I used to now, I can't eat like that," Alex said and Kelley pouted at her. "You could always help me finish this."
"Absolutely not, I have real eggs and bacon," Kelley said, crunching a piece of bacon in her teeth. "Delicious."
"Disgusting," Alex said and Kelley scoffed. "I can't make out with you now. It's disgusting."'
Kelley didn't say anything, instead just going upstairs with her plate. Alex was afraid for a second that she had struck a nerve with Kelley. Alex got dressed downstairs, finding it easier to finish there instead of going back up and down the stairs again. Alex waited for Kelley to get ready so they could go to her house to pick up the pain medication for her knee. Alex wasn't going to tell Kelley but it was really starting to hurt her and it had been for about an hour. Kelley finally came downstairs and Alex rushed her a little bit to get the medicine and then get them to the mall to meet with Ali, Ash, Tobin, and Christen.
"Chris, wake up," Tobin said sleepily as she checked her phone. Christen didn't budge though, not even to bury her head further into the pillow she'd been sharing with Tobin. "Christen, babe, you gotta get up. We're late."
"I don't care, I'm tired," Christen whined and Tobin sighed. She was not used to being the one who had to wake somebody else up. Especially not a sober person. Tobin softly shook Christen's body until she moved. "Touch me again and I'll fucking stab you."
"You need to get up, it's almost noon," Tobin said and Christen threw a pillow at Tobin. Tobin caught it and turned Christen onto her back. Tobin straddled Christen's waist and leaned down and kissed her softly. Christen deepened the kiss and Tobin broke it, pulling Christen out of bed. "You don't have to shower, you can pull a me and just put on some sweats or something, but we need to get going."
"A few more hours," Christen whined and Tobin sighed. She got dressed, went downstairs, grabbed a cup of coffee, and brought it up to Christen. Tobin let Christen finish the coffee and then she was ready to get dressed. Tobin could tell Christen was still tired as she drove them to the mall, but at least she was out of bed. "We're here to get lunch and then go back."
"Are you still tired?" Tobin asked and Christen nodded.
"I don't feel good," Christen said, setting her head on Tobin's shoulder. Tobin could tell that she was running a fever. Tobin was tempted to take Christen back to her house, but she had promised that they'd both be there for lunch. Besides, she could get some fever reducer for Christen while they were out.
"I think you have a fever. We'll get you some stuff for that while we're out. Where do you want to eat?" Tobin asked as she pulled into the mall's parking lot. Christen shrugged and Tobin got them a spot closer to the food court. Christen stayed tucked under Tobin's arm as they walked up together. Tobin spotted Alex and Ali almost immediately and took Christen over to sit with them. "What do you want to eat?"
"Can you just get me a tea please?" Christen asked and Tobin nodded. She went to get Christen's tea first and got her a popsicle so she had something else. Tobin got herself a corn dog, a smoothie, and a bag of chips before joining her friends and girlfriend.
"Are you feeling okay to stay?" Tobin asked, noticing how much paler Christen had gotten in such a short amount of time. Tobin's answer didn't come in the form of words, but instead the vomit that spewed out of Christen's mouth seconds later. Tobin carried Christen to her car and then drove them back to Christen's house. Christen's parents had taken her little sister somewhere for the day, so Tobin stayed to take care of Christen, even if she didn't have the slightest idea how to. Tobin had wanted to hang out with her friends, but she was gonna take care of Christen like Christen would have taken care of her, only with more help from Google.
Emily held onto Lindsey's hand as they walked through an empty parking lot. Lindsey was taking her to a cafe. It was newer, new enough for Emily to have never been to it. Lindsey liked their avocado toast and knew that they had so many smoothie options that Emily would go broke trying everything that she could. Lindsey also may or may not have wanted to bring Emily so that she could see where Lindsey would be working.
"This is nice," Emily said, looking around. "Good music."
"I'm gonna order if you wanna find a seat," Lindsey said and Emily nodded. The parking lot had been empty, but there were quite a few people in the cafe. It was by the college campus, less than 8 blocks away. Lindsey ordered them both a piece of toast, herself a coffee, and Emily a smoothie that was just some greens, a banana, and peanut butter to mask the taste of the vegetables in it.
"You're the best," Emily said, leaning in to kiss Lindsey. Lindsey accepted the kiss and then sat down across from Emily. "So, where did you find this place?"
"I took Mal driving, it was kind of stressful, so we stopped to get coffee. I put in an application here and it got accepted," Lindsey said and Emily smiled at her. "I start Monday at 3:30 and I'll be here until closing at 10:30."
"You're working for 7 fucking hours?" Emily sounded surprised.
"Yeah, but it'll be fine. Since your place is closer, do you think that I can stay the night there when I close?" Lindsey asked and Emily nodded. "Thanks babe."
"No problem, but will we still be able to hang out and stuff?" Emily asked. She was scared that she wouldn't get to spend time with Lindsey. If she didn't have Lindsey, she didn't have somebody who both got her and made sure she didn't accidentally get herself seriously hurt.
"I'll make sure that there's always time for you, I promise." Lindsey kissed Emily's knuckles softly. Emily blushed at the affection and held onto Lindsey's hand. "You're important to me, I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't get to have a couple days off to spend with you other than game days."
"Hello?" Hope answered her phone. If it was going off before 8 in the morning, it had to be important. No sensible person called before 8 unless it was an emergency, which was something that Hope lived by.
"Hope, it's Laura Harvey with Seattle. I wanted to see if you were interested in doing a clinic in Florida for us. Maybe bring in some new fans or recruit for us. We'll send down players and equipment for you to use," Laura said. Hope could hear the nervousness in her tone. It was the same tone she had used the last few times they had spoken over the phone. Those instances were when Hope told her that she wasn't gonna play and then when Laura called her to talk over the contracts.
"Yeah, actually that's a great idea. I know that I've got girls that would definitely be interested in that," Hope said excitedly. She made a loose plan with Laura about what they'd do at the clinic and then hung up the phone. Hope smiled excitedly to herself and then got back into bed, where Carli wasn't. Hope frowned and then realized that it was not Sunday, but Wednesday, so she had to get to school. It was almost 7:50, so Hope skipped a shower, put on a pair of athletic shorts, a University of Washington soccer workout shirt, and then put her shoes on before hauling ass to get breakfast before school.
"Morning coach," Ali said, taking notice of Hope's outfit choice for the day. Hope hadn't worn something to school that revealing since Ali's freshman year. It hadn't necessarily been the administration that had gotten onto her, she was a gym coach that did play games with the kids most of the time, but she instead it was the boys that couldn't seem to focus on what they were supposed to be doing. Hope was still hot, but she had a lot more respect with the students than she had before. She doubted that any of them would be brave enough to try to check her out during their workouts.
"Ali, keep your eyes on your girlfriend, not me," Hope said and Ali blushed, looking down at the ground. Hope smirked a little to herself as she found a spot on the bleachers to watch the class file in. "Where is Ashlyn?"
"I don't know," Ali said, a little confused. She had texted Ashlyn about 10 times that morning, but nothing had gotten a reply. Ashlyn ended up rolling in around 8:30 and spent her entire gym period running laps and doing some stretches. Ashlyn hadn't minded, it was pretty easy for her to run and stare at Hope while she did it. Hope realized about halfway through that first period that it wouldn't be the boys that gave her trouble with her outfit, but her soccer girls.
"Good morning Hope Solo," Kelley said, sliding into Hope on the bleachers. "May I ask what prompted this outfit?"
"I thought it was Sunday and had to rush in order to get here on time," Hope said honestly. "Back up O'Hara."
"Of course, I'm a taken woman these days. Sad for the market, I know." Hope began to wonder if it was the comments like that Carli was referring to when she'd give Hope shit about her influence on O'Hara. Hope shook her head and then realized quickly after that encounter that Alex Morgan was an even bigger flirt than Kelley O'Hara, if that was even possible.
"Hope, come on, we have lunch duty today," Abby said when it was time for lunch. "Are you blushing? Did Carli send you something?"
"Drop it now and Carli would never do that at school," Hope said and Abby didn't drop the blush. Hope waited until there were no students around to give Abby her answer as to why she was blushing. "Alex Morgan has no filter. I mean, Kelley can be bad, but Alex is worse. I could have written her up for some of the shit she was saying."
"Had to be a reason Kelley's so in love with her," Abby pointed out and Hope opened her lunch box. "You know, you are a giant nerd."
"You told me this last time I brought the lunch box Abby," Hope said, completely unbothered. She pulled out a sandwich with the crusts cut off and Abby started laughing at her. "What?"
"What else is in there?" Abby asked and Hope shrugged. "Show me."
"Grapes, apple slices, a cheese stick, two cookies, and some chips," Hope said and Abby laughed at her. "What's so funny about this?"
"Carli is dating a fucking child," Abby said, still cackling a little. Hope shoved her and Abby pushed her back. Carli cleared her throat behind them and Abby went back inside, where she was supposed to be in the first place.
"You guys are so mean to each other," Carli said and Hope shrugged. "Do you like your lunch?"
"Yeah, I do." Hope gave Carli a sheepish smile and Carli wanted to kiss her, but remembered where they were. Kelley nervous approached them, her hands behind her back. She glanced over at Alex before clearing her throat to get Hope and Carli's attention. "Kel."
"Alex wanted me to give you this," Kelley said, handing Hope a piece of paper with a winking face and Alex's number scrawled on it with the promise of a good time. Kelley ran off immediately after and Alex just sat there laughing as Hope's ears turned red and Carli took the paper from her. That started a chain reaction as Hope found herself having accumulated the number of almost every single girl on the team she coached. By the end of the day, Hope wanted to skip practice, not ready to deal with her players.
"You look like you're having a rough day," Christen said, sitting down by Hope. Hope could tell this girl was nervous, but Hope didn't blame her.
"You could say that," Hope said and Christen tied her shoes tightly. "You should come to practice today. It's a scrimmage and I've seen you with the ball once or twice, you're really good. You could go far in soccer kid."
"I don't know, I don't really do school sports," Christen said and Hope pouted at her. Christen agreed and somehow managed to rope Tobin into it as well before the final bell rang. Hope let Carli and Abby split the teams up and Hope stayed by the field that Christen and Tobin were playing on to see how they did. Tobin seemed a little rusty, but she was definitely still the soccer superstar in the making that Hope remembered her to be. A part of Hope wondered whether or not Tobin would ever make it to the professional league and if she did, whether or not they'd play on the same team or against each other.
"Alright girls, locker rooms and then you can leave!" Abby yelled and Hope let her group go back as well. Abby walked over to Hope as the girls were going to shower and change out of their sweaty practice clothes. "So, are you still impressed with Heath's skill?"
"Definitely, but I think some extra attention needs to be brought to Christen Press. I mean, she was running the ball, creating chances for other players, and finishing when she needed to. I mean, it's possible that she's better than Alex," Hope said and Abby seemed skeptic. "Seriously, Alex is fast and can score yes, but I think you could put Christen almost anywhere on that field and she'd find a way to thrive."
"Invite her to more practices then. Get her up to whatever level you think she needs before she leaves this school to have a chance at a professional career," Abby said and Hope sighed. "Also, when are you telling the girls about your departure?"
"I don't know, I don't want them to get mad at me or anything," Hope said and Abby sighed. She put an arm around Hope's shoulders and squeezed. "It's hard for me to tell them about that because I don't honestly know how it'll effect everything. I mean, I can keep my job in the offseason, but that's a good chunk of the school year that I'm gonna be gone."
"Yes, but you've got the little breaks in between," Abby said and Hope bit her lip. "Is there something else you're not telling me?"
"If my first season goes over well, there's a chance that I'll be wearing the stars and stripes on a jersey," Hope said nervously. "I haven't told Carli yet, it's not certain."
"It is certain and you know it." Abby turned around to look at Carli, who was talking with a couple of freshman about positioning. "She'll be happy for you, even if she never gets to see you."
"Yeah, I know," Hope said sadly. "But it'll still be really hard."
"You've got a lot of things to tell a lot of people. It won't get easier if you put it off, it'll only make things harder and I think you know that Hope. If you want, I'll ask Glennon to bake some cookies for the girls whatever practice you decide to tell them," Abby said and Hope nodded. She looked at their practice schedule and decided for that Friday, the lightest day of their afternoon practices.
"Nana?" Ashlyn asked timidly. She was standing in the doorway wearing a pair of shorts and a sports bra. She had been fixing the air conditioning in the garage while Chris was at work.
"Yes dear," Nana Harris said. Ashlyn wasn't quite sure how to go about telling her grandmother that she wanted to move out, but she had to do it. Technically, she was still grounded, but Ashlyn was 18, going on 19 and she knew that she had to make sure that she did what she believed would be best for herself.
"I think I'm-," Ashlyn paused to correct her own statement, "-no, I'm going to move back in with Tobin and Kelley at the end of the week. I'll start packing my things now and be out by Sunday night."
"I was wondering when that backbone of yours would reappear. I'll let you go off on your own again on one condition, you come here every week to check in with me. It can be over breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever, but you'll be going to college soon and I won't get to have both my grandbabies under my room again for a long while when that happens," Nana said and Ashlyn nodded. "Thank you for being such a big help around here."
"It's no problem Nana," Ashlyn said, hugging her grandmother. Ashlyn went upstairs after that, took a shower, and changed into pajamas. She started to pack up some of her clothes, deciding that she'd probably try to stay over at least twice a month, so it'd be a good idea to leave some stuff there. Ashlyn wondered what state the house would be in without her living there. None of them were necessarily clean, but Ali and Alex together were more than enough to keep their rooms straight and the expired food from being eaten. Ashlyn managed to get three bags packed, which was good enough for her, before she laid down for a nap.
"Ash, baby?" Ali asked, waking her up a couple of hours later. Ashlyn let out a whine, but still sat up to look at her girlfriend. "Hey, you look a little rough."
"Tired, practice sucked today. Christen made me look like a dumbass out there," Ashlyn said and Ali let out a little chuckle. "I'm moving back in with Tobin at the end of the week."
"Perfect timing because I got a coupon in the mail last week for something and I totally just ordered it online. It'll be here around Tuesday," Ali said with a little smirk. Ashlyn sat up a bit and Ali pushed her back down. Ali leaned over her and planted a couple of kisses around her mouth. Ashlyn grabbed Ali's cheeks and moved her face so that they were kissing. Ali's lips felt perfectly soft on Ashlyn's and she could tell that Ali had just came back from getting coffee because the taste was heavy on her tongue. "We're waiting until Tuesday babe."
"Or, we wait until now," Ashlyn suggested with a cheeky grin. Ali shook her head and Ashlyn pouted, burying her head into the side of Ali's neck. Ali ran her fingers through Ashlyn's hair as she just held her for a few moments. Ali remembered the time during their junior year when Ashlyn had practically chopped all of her hair off. It was just now starting to get longer, long enough for Ali to actually have something to hold onto when they got a little wild. "Did you eat dinner?"
"No, I'm not an idiot Ash," Ali said and Ashlyn smiled at her. "Dinner should be ready when Chris gets home. Is he taking extra shifts or something?"
"Actually, he's going in a bit later than normal. Hence why you've been allowed to pick me up and take me places," Ashlyn said and Ali pressed a soft kiss to her lips. "Also, I learned my lesson in practice as to why you don't fuck with Hope."
"A lesson we've seen Sydney not learn for three years," Ali said and Ashlyn tilted her head. "You sat in on my practices, watching my ass like a hawk."
"It's a nice ass babe." Ali rolled her eyes and snuggled closer to Ashlyn as they laid there for a bit.
"Ah damn, Solo wore real pants," Sydney said as Hope walked onto the field with her arm around Carli's shoulders. "I bet the freshman boys gave her shit again."
"Actually, it was you girls. She was really uncomfortable," Abby said and Sydney frowned. "She's weird sometimes."
"Syd, you're early. Mewis, is this your doing?" Hope said and Sydney wanted to reach out and slap her shoulder, but knew better.
"No ma'am, actually Sydney came and got me here early," Kristie said. Hope turned her attention to Sydney, hiding the impressed and surprised look on her face well. Sydney wasn't necessarily late to practices often, but she was never really early to them unless somebody else brought her.
"Syd, can I talk to you in this corner of the field where Abby isn't for a second?" Hope asked and Sydney followed her over. Sydney and Hope tended to butt heads, but both of them had a mutual respect for each other, which was mainly showed by busting each other's chops.
"Am I in trouble?" Sydney asked and Hope shook her head. "Are you sure?"
"Yes I am sure that you aren't in trouble, with me at least. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions, maybe see if you would be interested in something happening in May," Hope said and Sydney shrugged. "I'll start with telling you now that I really think in the next few months, I want you to get used to having more of an influential position on the team. As much as it pains me to let you know this, you're a very good player and a leader on and off the field. Would you be interested in putting in an application to be the captain for the varsity team next season?"
"Of course," Sydney said and Hope nodded. "Wait, is this you asking me to be your candidate? I thought you'd pick Alyssa for sure."
"When things get down to it, it's between you and Alyssa. I think Abby will pick you, but if she doesn't, I'll talk to both of you and see who really wants it more," Hope said and Sydney seemed very humbled in that moment. "Now that we've got that out of the way, I wanted to ask you what your thoughts were on participating in the Reign recruitment camp in May. I want the form in before April 1st, and it'll be a week long."
"Reign like the NWSL team?" Sydney asked and Hope nodded. "They'd bring in recruiters to watch us play and practice?"
"The whole camp would be run like a Reign training camp," Hope said and Sydney let out a squeal. "Are you interested?"
"Yeah, playing professional soccer is literally the dream," Sydney said, jumping up to hug Hope.
"They're just coming to watch how things are done here. There isn't any certainty that you'll get picked up by a youth program or professionally team, besides, worry about getting your shit ready for college Syd," Hope said and Sydney nodded. "Go lead warmups, normally Alex would do it, but she's not coming back to practice."
"Alright Solo." Sydney jogged off to her teammates, all of them shuffling out towards the field. It was early, but Sydney had woken up at 4:30 and been waiting to come to Kristie's so she could drive her to practice. Sydney was in charge of leading the forwards through their warmups for the day, a task which proved to be harder than she had expected. Abby, Carli, and Hope were all a little busy taking note of who was best with what and who needed more help than others. That had put a student in charge of running warm ups and drills for each playing section. Sydney was with the forwards, Megan and Lindsey were with the midfielders, Ali and Whitney had the defenders split up into two groups, and Alyssa was working with AD, Ashlyn, and Jane.
"What was that about?" Abby asked as Hope looked over the notes she'd taken on her clipboard. "The thing with Sydney earlier."
"Captain talk and I asked her if she was interested in the Reign camp," Hope said and Abby raised an eyebrow at her. "You pick really good forwards as captains, but I wasn't sure who you'd pick, so I told her that if you don't pick her as a candidate for captain, I'd ask Alyssa to see who wanted it more."
"Alyssa, the most self-less teenager I've ever met in my entire life," Abby said and Hope sighed.
"She's smart though, if she thought having Sydney as captain would hurt the team, she'd say so," Carli pointed out.
"Yeah, for a Pats fan she is pretty smart," Hope said and Carli punched her in the arm. "Ow, I'm moving in with Abby and Glennon. Glennon wouldn't let me be hurt like this."
"Absolutely not," Carli said, pulling Hope closer. "So, what are you gonna do about tomorrow?"
"Tell the team that I'm going to play professionally for a bit." Hope's tone was very empty and closed off. Carli would have preferred her sounded dramatic over that because at least the dramatics didn't hurt her soul.
"It'll be fine, trust me," Carli said and Hope nodded. She did trust Carli, Carli didn't let her down.
Thursday had went by quickly and so had the majority of Friday. Hope was anxious about telling the girls her news. Carli had gotten it in the school's announcement that some NWSL scouts were coming to watch them during a May camp and they'd all come into the gym asking Hope how the hell she had pulled that off. The girls all were under the impression that the NWSL and Hope Solo were not things that went together, but little did they know that she'd be playing in the league next year. Hope would miss almost an entire year of playing while she was in Sweden and then coming back in January only to leave again in March, but she had checked the schedule and she would be getting two weeks out of every month to come back to America.
"You look sick," Megan said, standing in front of Hope.
"Why aren't you on the field Pinoe?" Hope asked and Megan shrugged. "Are you injured?"
"Maybe," Megan said, sitting down next to Hope. Hope couldn't find anything seriously wrong with her, but had sent her to get some ice for the bruise on her bicep.
"You can sit out for 5 minutes if you need," Hope said and Megan was surprised. Hope normally wasn't the coach to do that, none of their coaches really were. Megan wasn't surprised though. She was grateful for them, even if they tended to overwork her sometimes.
"Thanks coach, but I only need 3," Megan said confidently. Hope gave her a small nod and went back to fiddling with her phone. Carli and Abby were standing at the two fields making sure that the girls were actually doing their full workouts. On the field Carli was watching, the girls were running and on the field that Abby was watching, they were doing strength workouts. "Is there something going on with you?"
"It's not important right now," Hope said and Megan frowned at her. "What?"
"Well, it's just that you told us that we should communicate and you're not communicating. We can't be a strong family if we keep secrets from each other all the time," Megan said and Hope sighed. "You wanted us to be a family, not just a team right?"
"Abby explicitly said that, but yes." Hope counted the seconds in her head until Abby and Carli called practice and gathered the girls in the center of the field. Hope made her way over there and once she was looking at everybody, the words came a bit easier. "So, normally I'm here in the summer and I help out with your clubs, but this year I can't. I'm going to Sweden to train with a professional team up there and play in their preseason and half of their regular season. I'll be coming back in January, but every two weeks I can come home if I'm not too busy. Once that part of my contract is up, I'll stay here until March and then go up to Seattle as the Reign's new goalkeeper."
"Whoa, are you quitting?" Emily asked and Hope shook her head. "Promise?"
"I promise that I'll still be here. After my first season, I'll stay until March of every year and I'll get back in August or September, depending on how discussions with my new coach go. I know that this won't affect some of you, but it will others," Hope said and Emily stood up. "Sonnett?"
"What Swedish team are you playing for?" Emily asked, wiping her palms on her shorts. Hope knew that was one of her nervous ticks and she could tell that the girl was getting a little uncomfortable from how quiet her teammates were being.
"Gothenberg FC," Hope answered.
"Okay, well, Emma will throw a fit if I cram all of you into my place to watch games over the summer, so where are we gonna go?" Emily asked, turning to her team.
"Glennon won't mind it if you girls stop by on Hope's game days to watch," Abby offered and Emily smiled. "She likes having a full house."
"Even though Portland is the better team, we'll still support you no matter where you play," Emily said and Hope smiled at her. "Keep those sheets clean though Solo."
Julie sighed as she looked over at Alyssa for what felt like the millionth time that night. She hadn't moved an inch from the bed since they went up to Julie's room. Every single time that they hung out outside of school, Alyssa had shut down a bit. She had been like that for about nine days now. That was the same day that Hope told them she was going to be playing professionally throughout most of their senior year season. Julie knew that even if Alyssa didn't explicitly say it, Hope being there for her senior year season was insanely important to her. Having all three of her coaches there was an important concept for Alyssa, but if she had to pick just one to stay, it would have been Hope. Hope had helped her become the best goalkeeper she could be. Hope had gotten her the youth team call up and Alyssa could credit her work ethic partially on what Hope had drilled into her brain freshman year.
"Lys, babe, I'm gonna run and get us something for dinner. Do you want to come with me?" Julie asked and Alyssa didn't move. Julie put her hoodie and a pair of slippers on and leaned down in front of the part of the bed where Alyssa's head was resting. Julie turned Alyssa over so she was laying on her back and Julie's heart broke at the sight of the tears brimming in Alyssa's eyes. "Aw, baby, what's wrong? Is it Hope?"
"I don't want her to go," Alyssa said. Her voice didn't falter once, but Julie could tell Alyssa was seconds away from completely breaking down. "What were you getting to eat?"
"I was thinking burgers, but I know it's been a couple of weeks since we got pizza. Which do you prefer?" Julie asked and Alyssa rolled onto her stomach and sat up on the bed. "Do you want to come with me?"
"Not really, but let me give you money to get us pizza," Alyssa said and Julie shook her head. "JJ, please don't argue with me."
"You're upset yes, but I'll buy us dinner tonight. You can pay another night if you want, but tonight I'm treating you," Julie said and Alyssa agreed to that much. "I'll be back, stay here, relax, maybe pick something out for us to watch, and yes, it can be one of you nerdy documentaries."
"Thank you," Alyssa said and Julie leaned in and kissed her softly. Julie grabbed her keys and ran out to her car. She ordered the pizza, drove to the pizza place, and dialed Hope's number as she sat in the parking lot.
"Julie, hey, is there something wrong?" Hope asked, sounding slightly panicked.
"Yes, there is something wrong, but it's not like, a life or death situation," Julie said, relaxing Hope. "It's Alyssa, she's been different. She acts normally at school and practice, but when we hang out, she gets kind of weird. I got her to open up a bit tonight, and she told me that she didn't want you to go. I'm just really worried about her, I don't like seeing her so sad."
"I get it, thank you for telling me. She never would have done it herself. I'll try to see what I can do," Hope said and Julie thanked her before hanging up.
"Who was that?" Carli asked as Hope walked back into the dining room.
"JJ called me. Oh, and Carli, I'm going out all afternoon on Sunday," Hope said and Carli raised an eyebrow at her. "Goalkeeper bonding day, I'm taking Jane, AD, Alyssa, and Ashlyn out for the day."
"Why?" Abby asked and Hope ran a hand through her hair.
"Because I think it'll be good for my keepers. Also, it's an easy way for me to talk to them about me leaving next year for a bit," Hope said. Carli could tell that she was feeling guilty. "I just need to think of something for all of us to do."
"Talk to them, ask them what they want to do for the day," Carli suggested and Hope nodded. Hope sent out a group text to her keepers asking what they wanted to do before turning her attention back to her girlfriend and friends.
"JJ called you about Alyssa?" Abby asked and Hope nodded. "Is this something we should know about as her other coaches?"
"No, it's something that I caused, so I will take care of it. Actually, I think at the end of the season, I need to take all of the juniors out and talk to them because I think I accidentally fucked up big time with them," Hope said and Carli frowned at her. She didn't want Hope to feel guilty about going after her dream, especially when she had put it off for so long. "I probably shouldn't have even taken this job in the first place and just went straight into playing professionally."
"Don't fucking say that around the keepers tomorrow. If you hadn't come here, none of them would be at the level they're at now. Alyssa wouldn't be playing for her country in the summer. You've supported these girls since you got here and now you're giving them a chance to support you too," Abby said and Hope got really quiet. "Wait a minute, are you about to cry?"
"No," Hope lied and Abby sighed. Hope stood up and walked out to the back porch. She stared out into the night sky and sniffled, wiping tears as they began to fall. Hope heard the door open behind her and felt Carli's arms wrap around her waist and lips press into the back of her shoulder. "God, I am a fucking mess. Why do you love me?"
"Because you're everything I need you to be when the time is right," Carli said and Hope smiled at her. "You're also strong, caring, sweeter than anybody will ever give you credit for, badass, and the hottest woman I've ever seen. Hope, I love and you and I doubt there will be a day I stop unless you truly fuck up."
"So, I didn't want to do this right now, but I want to do it so badly. There's a ring upstairs and I'd like you to marry me. If you want a flashy wedding, we can do that. Originally I was gonna show you this big house, but I sold it when I got the Reign contracts. Instead, we'll have a place in Seattle and this place here. It's enough for the two of us and if we decide to expand, I'll get us a bigger place. I just want us to be engaged at the very least before I go to Europe," Hope proposed and Carli nodded. Hope pulled her in for a kiss and Carli rested her head against Hope's.
"I want us to get married before you go to Europe. It can be at the courthouse and we can invite all the girls to dinner afterwards at a nice restaurant because I don't want all of them to know where I live," Carli said and Hope chuckled at that. "I'm still terrified that O'Hara is gonna show up here in the middle of the night with an animal for you."
"Let's get back in there so I can show Abby my hot fiance," Hope said, pushing Carli towards the door. Carli started moving more on her own accord, but Hope kept her hands on Carli's hips as they walked back to the table. "Hey Abby, guess what."
"What?" Abby asked and Hope looked over at Carli. "You cried outside?"
"Sorta, but I got engaged," Hope said and Glennon made a shrieking sound. "Oh, wait, the ring's still upstairs. Lemme go get that." Hope ran upstairs, grabbed the ring from its hiding place in her study, and then ran back to the table. She slid it onto Carli's finger and then put the slightly more subtle, but still matching version on her own hand. Glennon inspected Carli's ring while Abby glared at Hope for setting the bar high.
"Fuck off," Alex said as Kelley and Tobin laughed loudly. "I need to get some sleep, it's almost 1 AM."
"If you want to sleep so badly, go in my room with Christen," Tobin said and Alex glanced at Kelley.
"Tobin, carry her please," Kelley said, motioning towards the ice on her ankle. Tobin nodded and carefully picked up and carried Alex upstairs to her room. Christen was still awake and reading a book when Tobin brought Alex in.
"Yeah, I don't remember Alex being part of our plans for tonight," Christen said and Tobin sighed.
"She's tired and Kelley and I are waiting for a game to download so we can play it," Tobin said and Christen nodded. "We'll be up pretty late."
"Okay, well don't stay up too terribly late," Christen said and Tobin gave her a look. "Too late for that, I know, I know. Night, I love you."
"Love you too," Tobin said, leaning in for a goodnight kiss from Christen. Tobin pecked Alex's cheek after she tucked her in and then went back downstairs with Kelley.
"Chris, we're friends right?" Alex asked timidly.
"I'd think so Alex," Christen said and Alex relaxed a little. "Why?"
"Are we good enough friends for it to be okay if we cuddle?" Alex asked. Christen didn't respond, instead opting to wrap her arms around Alex's waist and resting her head on Alex's shoulder. It reminded her of how Kelley liked cuddling. It had been quite some time since she'd been in that position and she missed it, getting to hold somebody against her own body. It made her feel like she was a protector and she absolutely loved it. Since her ACL tear, Kelley had been coddling her, along with everybody else in her life for the most part. "You're warm."
"It bothers the shit out of Tobin," Christen said with a chuckle. "Is it bothering you?"
"No, Kelley gets way hotter than this when we cuddle. The worst part is that she refuses to let go of me and she normally falls asleep first when we cuddle. So I'm just trapped in her heat cocoon.
"Fucking Saturday practice," Ashlyn grumbled as she pulled her practice jersey on. "I swear they're trying to work us into the ground."
"It's not too bad," Alyssa said plainly. "I mean, they're just trying to make us better."
"Well, I think the reigning champions are pretty good, but what do I know?" Ashlyn asked and Alyssa glanced over at Julie. Her girlfriend was distracted by Crystal, who was showing about half of the locker room her brand new dance move. Alyssa wanted to say something, but she didn't, deciding that a fight with Ashlyn wasn't worth getting suspended from the team. Alyssa grabbed her gloves and walked onto the pitch. Normally Julie put her gloves on her, but Julie was still in the locker room, so instead she just walked up to Hope.
"Can you wrap my wrists please?" Alyssa asked and Hope nodded.
"Come over here," Hope instructed, leading Alyssa over by the goal. "You doing okay?"
"I guess," Alyssa answered. "Julie called you yesterday didn't she?"
"Yeah, but it's because she's worried about you. I want you to know that I'm really sorry about the timing that everything is happening. I didn't want to miss your regular season, it'll be your senior year and I know that's important," Hope said and Alyssa shrugged it off.
"It's your life." Hope looked into Alyssa's eyes and recognized the closed off look in them. "Not like I'm have the authority to just ask you to not."
"Come to my office after practice, I have something to give you," Hope said and Alyssa nodded. Hope finished wrapping her wrists and helped her with her gloves before calling the other goalkeepers over. Hope set them on drills with forwards and midfielders making various types of shots to see who needed what extra work and where. Hope called an end to the practice a bit earlier and Alyssa followed Hope to her office in the gym. "Wait here."
"Yes ma'am," Alyssa said, standing with her hands behind her back. Hope looked around in her office before she finally found the box she was looking for. Hope emerged with a Nike box containing purple wrist wrap and a pair of worn-in gloves. Alyssa opened the box and looked up at Hope confused. "I, uh, don't..."
"That is about $70 in wrap that I bought, but never got to use in college and those are the gloves I played my first U-18 game in. I also won a college championship in those gloves, they're pretty good luck. I can't think of a better person to wear those, because if it's not luck that got me through those games, it was skill, a skill that you've showcased and improved on since your freshman year," Hope said and Alyssa hugged her tightly. "I'll see you tomorrow Alyssa. I don't know what the others picked, but we're in for a day."
"I think Ash mentioned go-karts in the locker room when she first arrived," Alyssa said and Hope smiled at that. "Do you like go-karts?"
"Yes, because I am a human being that enjoys fun things," Hope said, patting Alyssa on the shoulder.
Hope hadn't known what to expect when she got to the fields, but it wasn't all of her keepers playing tag. It made her smile, seeing all of them seemingly happy. Even Alyssa was playing along, and doing pretty well. Ashlyn was a bit slower than the rest of the girls, so she was it and chasing down AD. Hope let them play for a bit longer before clearing her throat and catching all of their attentions.
"Ready to go?" Hope asked and everybody nodded. "Alyssa gets shotgun."
"Of course the favorite gets shotgun," Ashlyn said and Hope nodded. They piled into Carli's SUV since not all of them would comfortable fit into Hope's truck their smaller car.
"Did you guys agree on a plan?" Hope asked and Alyssa handed her a schedule. Hope made the first stop, which was a Chuck E. Cheese. They got lunch and then spent about an hour playing games, Hope surprising most of the girls by the amount of tickets she managed to get from just playing the basketball game over and over again.
"Holding out on the basketball team I see," Jane said and Hope shrugged. Hope drove them to the next stop on their list, a go-kart track near where Ashlyn's parents used to live. They spent about an hour there and then Ashlyn had to leave for a double date with Ali, Tobin, and Christen. Hope dropped her off at the field and then went inside the gym so the rest of them could 2-v-2 with basketball. "Damn, you're really holding out on the basketball team."
"I'm holding out on a lot of people, especially the English department," Hope said and Jane wiped her face with the bottom of her shirt. "You wanna switch up teams or not?"
"Actually, my mom should be here soon," Jane said and AD nodded. That left Alyssa and Hope alone in the gym together.
"Are we supposed to have another chat?" Alyssa asked and Hope shrugged.
"Despite my communications degree, I'm not great with talking things out with people," Hope said with a chuckle. "Did you have fun today?"
"Yeah, it was a nice bonding day," Alyssa answered. "Those aren't gonna be as fun when you're gone next season."
"I know, but I'll be back for a few days every couple of weeks," Hope said and Alyssa ran a hand through her hair. "I also might see if I can just train over the summer and come back around August so I can be here for you guys."
"Sonnett has planned at least five parties with Abby, so give them those games at the very least," Alyssa said and Hope pulled Alyssa into a side hug. "Just be here for senior night."
"I wouldn't dream of being anywhere else, I promise," Hope said and Alyssa crossed her arms over her chest. It didn't mean anything, just something did when she didn't know what to do with her hands. "I'll also be here for your first game."
"I want to walk out with you that game," Alyssa said and Hope nodded. "We're supposed to pick somebody who means a lot to us and since I can't pick Julie, I want to pick you."
"Alright, that'd be really nice Alyssa," Hope said and Alyssa's phone began to buzz.
"It's JJ," Alyssa said, leaving to take it.
Tobin laid on the concrete floor of her garage. She had spent all morning working on a project. Technically, she should have been at school, but she hadn't really wanted to go. Instead, she'd decided to work on some art and then she'd pack a cooler and head to the beach. Kelley was still home, Tobin could hear her upstairs playing Resident Evil. Tobin pulled herself up from the floor and then walked upstairs. Tobin could smell something delicious in the kitchen and knew that Kelley hadn't gone to school yet, and probably wouldn't be going at all. Tobin walked into the kitchen and froze when she saw Kelley on the phone with Christen.
"Well, is she sick?" Christen asked and Tobin slowly sat down in a chair. She was careful not to let it make a sound.
"Sometimes she just doesn't feel like it. It isn't like a she doesn't want to, but she physically isn't up to it," Kelley said, turning around to see Tobin. "She hasn't left her room all day. I think she needs to go out and do something though."
"Do you think it'd be a good idea for me to come and see her after school?" Christen asked and Tobin shook her head.
"I'm gonna try to get her out of the house after lunch. I wouldn't worry too much about her, Ash and I have this handled," Kelley said and Christen thanked her before hanging up. "Dude, I saved your ass so hard."
"Thank you," Tobin said and Kelley set a plate in front of her. "Do you want to go to the beach and surf?"
"Yeah, I was gonna go upstairs and get you," Kelley said and Tobin grabbed a fork from the sink. "Why didn't you go to school?"
"Didn't want to go," Tobin said. "You?"
"Erin is coming to visit me tonight, so I wanted to make sure the house was clean," Kelley said and Tobin nodded. They ate lunch and then went to the beach, their boards barely fitting in Kelley's car. Luckily for them, Ali had driven Ash to school, so they just borrowed the Jeep. Kelley was careful not to spend too much time at the beach because she did have to see Alex before she picked up Erin from the airport at 8. Kelley drove back them back to the house around 4, but they got back at 5 since they went to get groceries and fill up Ash's Jeep with gas.
"Feel better?" Christen asked and Tobin nodded. Christen kissed Tobin's cheek and wrapped her arms around her neck. "Good, I was pretty pissed at you this morning for missing. You missed a test."
"Oh," Tobin said. It came out pretty monotone, which Christen wasn't sure how to interpret. "How was your day?"
"Good after I had stopped being mad and worrying about you," Christen said and Tobin kissed her sweetly. "I thought you missed because you were hungover."
"I didn't drink last night. Alex was the only one who got drunk," Tobin said and Christen nodded. "Wanna go upstairs?"
"Or, we could go to my house, which is totally empty," Christen said and Tobin nodded. "Pack a bag, we're spending the night."
"Alright," Tobin said, running upstairs.
"Can we not tell the rest of the team about this?" Jessie asked Melissa and Diana as they pulled into the parking lot of a Starbucks.
"Funny, that's what Diana told me on our first through seventeenth dates," Melissa said and Diana sighed. "I'm super good at secrets, yours is safe with me. I can't say the same for Diana though."
"Melissa, you've got 15 seconds to be far away from me," Diana said sternly. Melissa unbuckled her seat belt, opened her door, gave Diana a kiss, and then walked with Jessie into Starbucks.
"Did she have a rough day?" Jessie asked and Melissa nodded. "I didn't make it worse by asking you to drive me here did I?"
"I don't think so, but I wouldn't ask her. I'm not helping the situation though. So, do I get to know who this mystery date is?" Melissa asked and Jessie pointed at one of the younger players for their school's rival team. "Oh, the freshman."
"Mallory," Jessie said and Melissa put an arm around Jessie's shoulders. Jessie looked up at Melissa and just sort of let the senior do whatever weird thing she was going to do. Jessie had been around Melissa and Carm enough to know that they were constantly being very weird just for shits and giggles.
"Bye Jeff," Melissa said, turning around and walking out of Starbucks. Melissa got back into her car and turned to look at Diana. "I'm sorry for being annoying."
"Whatever," Diana said, arms crossed tightly over her chest.
"Can you tell me what's wrong please?" Melissa asked and Diana shrugged. "Something is up and I would like to know what it is please."
"I don't think you want us to go on dates anymore," Diana blurted out and Melissa just froze. "This is the fourth date we've blown off to do something else in a week. First you went to that party with Carm last Friday, then you slept through our reschedule on Sunday, after that you don't even tell me what you did instead, and now we're sitting here instead of going out together."
"Do you want to go out now?" Melissa asked and Diana shook her head.
"Just forget it," Diana said and Melissa got out of the car again. She tossed her keys inside the car and just started walking. Diana sat there for a few moments until she couldn't see Melissa anymore. Diana climbed into the driver's seat, adjusted the seat so she could reach the pedals, and then began driving to find her girlfriend. It wasn't hard since Melissa didn't run, however, once she saw her car, she did start running. Diana rolled down the window and motioned for Melissa to get into the car.
"No," Melissa said and Diana sighed.
"Please, you're scaring me," Diana said and Melissa sighed. She got into the car and rolled the window up. "Are you hungry?"
"No," Melissa said, her arms crossed over her chest. Diana took them to Subway and ended up getting cookies since she knew that Melissa couldn't resist them. "You're efil."
"Don't talk with your mouth full," Diana said and Melissa nodded. They went back to the parking lot to wait for Jessie and ended up taking a nap.
"Hi Mr. Cheney," Amy said as she walked through Lauren's living room. He waved at her, not completely paying attention to her. At least not paying enough attention to notice the 'Daddy' crop top or ridiculously short shorts with flames on them. Amy ran up to Lauren's room and didn't bother knocking. "Hello daddy."
"What are you wearing?" Lauren asked, suppressing a laugh. Amy set her small backpack that doubled as purse on the floor and then sat down on Lauren's bed.
"An outfit better suited for your floor," Amy said and Lauren rolled her eyes. Amy leaned forward for a kiss, but Lauren kept working on her homework. "Ahem, I said, an outfit better suited for your floor."
"I heard you the first time, let me finish this worksheet and then I swear I'm all yours for however long you want me to be," Lauren said and Amy nodded. "Did I tell you that I finally got a lock on my door?"
"No, this is great news," Amy said, moving closer to Lauren.
"Paper first, teasing later," Lauren said and Amy sighed. "I also hope you brought clothes to change into."
"I have underwear in my bag. I was thinking I could wear your clothes to school tomorrow," Amy said and Lauren gave her a quick kiss. Amy waited patiently for Lauren to get finished with her paper, playing a game on her phone as she did.
"Alright, lay down," Lauren said and Amy laid back against Lauren's bed. Lauren tossed a couple of pillows onto the floor before pulling off her shirt. Amy's hands immediately reached forward to touch Lauren's skin. "One of these needs to go and I think it's the shorts."
"If you want them off so badly, maybe you should take them off of me," Amy said and Lauren popped the button on the sorts and began to tug them down Amy's legs. Lauren tossed them behind her back and ran her hands up Amy's legs. Amy shuddered the higher Lauren's fingertips got on her thigh before Lauren just got up. Amy watched Lauren lock the door before getting back onto the bed. Lauren kissed Amy and rested her hands on Lauren's breasts. Amy let out a gasp as Lauren's mouth found a sensitive spot on her neck. Lauren continued to kiss lower and lower on Amy's body until she was between Amy's legs. Amy kept her hand in Lauren's hair as Lauren ate her out. Lauren would go on and on until Amy couldn't possibly keep quiet anymore.
"Ready for bed?" Lauren asked and Amy looked dead tired. "Do you want to shower now or in the morning?"
"Sleep," Amy mumbled, wrapping herself in Lauren's blankets. Lauren chuckled and got into bed with Amy. She held her tightly and listened her heartbeat as they fell asleep.
"Kelley, you haven't been at school all week," Alex said as she stood in her girlfriend's room. "Your room is a mess. Are you okay?"
"I'm fucking fine, no different than normal," Kelley said and Alex moved over to sit on Kelley's bed. "Go to school Alex, you shouldn't be late because of me."
"I won't go until you go," Alex said and Kelley sighed. "Seriously, if you aren't there, I won't be either. You've got Stanford in your sights Kelley, just keep your grades up for a bit longer and it's fucking yours."
"I don't want to go anymore," Kelley said and Alex knew what this was about. Erin had stayed for a night and Alex hadn't seen Kelley like that since they were sophomores. It hurt Alex to think that Kelley wasn't really happy, but she wasn't really sure what she could do to make her happier. "It's not worth it. If I can get accepted into Stanford, I can get into a school in Atlanta or nearby."
"Kelley, I will fucking call Erin if I have to," Alex said and Kelley didn't move a muscle. Alex got her phone out and dialed her girlfriend's sister's number. "Hi Erin, sorry if I woke you up."
"It's fine, is something up with Kelley?" Erin asked and Alex glanced at her girlfriend.
"Yeah, can you talk to her please?" Alex asked nervously. Kelley was hardcore glaring at her and Alex knew this would strain their relationship, but she needed it to happen.
"No problem," Erin said and Alex handed the phone to Kelley. Kelley took it and Alex went to leave, but Kelley shook her head. "Hey Kel, what's going on?"
"Alex wants me to go to school," Kelley said and Erin sighed heavily.
"If you want to go to Stanford, you need to go to school."
"I don't want to go to Stanford anymore. I wanted to go somewhere in Atlanta. California is really far away and I already barely get to see you."
"Don't give up on Stanford to stay close to me. I will beat your ass if you do that. Kelley Maureen O'Hara, Stanford has been your dream school since you were little. Go, achieve your dreams because I know that you can. You've been making a lot of stupid decisions in the past couple of years and I'm not letting you make any more. I have to go. Have a good day and I love you."
"Bye, love you too Erin," Kelley said. Erin hung up and Kelley slowly got out of bed. She brushed her hair, dry shampooed it, and then got dressed. Kelley got her backpack and grabbed something to eat for breakfast before leaving the house with Alex. "Why the hell would you call Erin?"
"Because I was worried about you and you listen to her," Alex said and Kelley crossed her arms over her chest. "Thank you for coming today."
"Okay," Kelley said and Alex sighed. "Not like I had anything better to do."
"Kelley, you've been playing video games all day or going to the beach to surf. Kelley, if there's something going on with you mentally, I really want you to talk to somebody, even if it is just HAO," Alex said and Kelley nodded. Neither of them said another word until they were walking up from the student parking lot.
"What is it?" Kelley asked, noticing that Alex wanted to say something else. "You want to say something, you have since we stopped talking.
"I'm scared that one day I'm gonna get a call from somebody saying that you did something to yourself again," Alex said and Kelley just stopped walking. She stood on the sidewalk for a moment and thought about what Alex was talking about. Kelley's life had been good then, her parents still cared about her, and Jerry was allowed to call and text her. Now, Kelley was completely cut off from everybody except for Erin really. Kelley was certain that her parents had let the family know that she was a suicidal, lesbian druggie because nobody had tried to talk to her in such a long time. "Kel?"
"Fuck, I'm sorry," Kelley said, running towards Alex. She hugged Alex tightly and held her for a moment. Kelley noticed that Alex's eyes were teary and immediately felt really shitty. "I'll talk to HAO, I promise. I'll come to school and if something comes up, I'll talk to you too."
"Okay, thank you," Alex said. "We're really late."
"It's fine, they'll be surprised I'm even here," Kelley said and Alex rolled her eyes.
"Where is everybody?" Hope asked as she looked at her watch. "They do know we have practice today right?"
"I think so," Carli said and Hope sighed. "I assume you want me to mark them."
"Yeah," Hope said and Carli began to mark everybody that didn't show up. "Alright, I'm only gonna ask this once, where is everybody?"
"A bunch of people just sort of left today," Mallory said nervously. Hope could tell that the girl knew more than she was telling, but she wouldn't bother her about it until after their practice.
"Well, I'm not waiting for them any longer, so let's get started," Hope said and there was a bit of fear around the room. "Do whatever you need to today. If you need to work on strength and conditioning, do so. If you need to catch up on homework, do so. If you need to do some cardio, do so. Just, make sure that whatever you're doing is actually productive."
"What are you gonna have the girls that skipped do?" Rose asked. Hope knew that Rose would probably tell Emily and Lindsey, who had skipped out, so she decided to tell her the truth.
"Suicides, sprints, and crawls on the football field," Hope said and Rose's eyes went wide. "The rest of you will be with Carli and Abby for that practice. I can't stress how much I'm not fucking around when I say don't skip practice or school without a good reason." Hope walked back over to the bleachers and sat next to Carli. "Hi gorgeous."
"You're scaring them," Carli said and Hope shrugged. "Also, why set the whole dictator thing now if you'll be gone so much when their season really starts up?"
"Because I need the young ones to fear me now so they'll respect me later," Hope said. "They can hate me as underclassmen all they want, but at least they'll graduate knowing what it's like to be a state champion."
"You care about them so much, it's sweet," Carli said and Hope shrugged it off. Hope started bouncing her leg as Carli watched her from the corner of her eyes. "You can go play too, I know how just sitting around bothers you."
"You'll watch practice?" Hope asked and Carli nodded. Hope smiled, grabbed a ball and juggled it while standing in the part of the gym complex with the basketball court. Carli moved into the exercise equipment room and helped Abby keep an eye on the girls in there. Carli would occasionally glance back at Hope, noticing how cute she looked while trying to keep herself focused on the ball, as if she had to try all that hard.