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my love, my love, my love

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“Miles, no! Hey! I said no!”

“Tobin,” Christen chuckles, “He’s just playing.”

Tobin turns to face her girlfriend with a small frown. “He’s not fighting with the other dog?”

After about a week of ‘thinking over it’, Tobin finally caved and told Christen she wanted to go into the shelter as soon as possible to adopt Miles. Christen hadn’t even pushed it at all. She knew how big of a decision adopting a dog was and she wasn’t going to pressure Tobin in any way to adopt him if she wasn’t ready or really didn’t want to. So for a week after New Years, Christen kept quiet, hoping that no one came in for Miles just in case Tobin did want him.

Oh , and Tobin did. Upon reuniting, both she and Miles were over the moon. They sat on the floor of the shelter playing for far too long before Christen had to remind Tobin that there was paperwork to fill out. Tobin, of course, had pouted and whined that she wanted to keep playing, but all it took to get her up and moving was the reassurance that she would be able to play with him as much as she wanted when she took him home. 

Christen wouldn’t admit it, but she definetly almost cried while watching the two so happy to be together and Julie definetly caught her. 

Now, just another couple of weeks later, Christen and Tobin sat watching Miles rough around with some other dogs at the dog park. Tobin, as a first time dog owner, was of course worried that her precious puppy was going to get hurt, or would even possibly hurt another dog. Christen, on the other hand, knew that wasn’t the case and quite honestly found Tobin’s anxiousness adorable. 

“That’s just how dogs play, babe.” She sets a comforting hand on Tobin’s arm, giving her a reassuring smile before turning back to keep an eye on Miles again. 

Tobin keeps her eyes on Christen for a second, creases between her brows falling undone as her lips quirk up and she just feels so lucky for Christen being in her life. Even just to tell her that her dog was just playing. 

“I just don’t want him to be too aggressive. He’s not fully trained yet.”

“Tobs,” Christen gives her a half-contained smile as if not to show just how much she’s enjoying this, “he’s fine. It’s good that he’s playing with the other dogs like this! He was always a lot more reserved when we had him at the shelter so seeing him playing like this means you’re doing something right.”

Tobin huffs out a laugh. “You make me sound like I’m a single parent of a child or something.”

“Well, I mean, you kinda did adopt him on your own,” Christen giggles. “And owning a dog isn’t that far off from having a child. They seem to be just as much work and you’re doing a wonderful job at it so far.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m an amazing single parent,” Tobin feigns annoyance as she rolls her eyes. 

“Hey now, you aren’t single, missy.” Christen digs a finger into Tobin’s arm jokingly.

Tobin gives her a playful side-eye with a smirk. “Are you calling yourself Miles’ other dog mom, Chris?” 

“What!? No! No- I just. I just meant you aren’t sing… nevermind.” 

“Chris,” Tobin laughs, “I’m kidding.” She kisses Christen’s cheek, alleviating the small pout that had formed on her girlfriend’s lips. “Speaking of, uh, not being single though…”

Christen turns to Tobin with careful eyes. “Yeah?”

“Well, uh… a certain holiday is coming up and I thought about surprising you with something but I wasn’t even sure if you'd like a surprise or even like the holiday. I guess now that means I won’t be surprising you with anything but-”

“Tobs,” Christen giggles. “Have I mentioned how cute you are?” 

“You might have a few times,” Tobin responds, attempting to be cool but the blush gracing her cheeks is quite contradictory.

“Well, you are,” Christen moves in to wrap her arms around Tobin. “I don’t care what we do as long as I get to spend time with you.”

“Chris, that doesn’t help,” she groans as she lets her own arms fall loosely around Christen’s waist.

“Tobs, you know I’m a simple girl. We can sit at home with a movie like we always do, away from the crowds and annoying couples and be just as annoying but in private. I really don’t mind.”

“Yeah, but if you want to go out, I’m more than happy to take you out,” Tobin offers again, “I know you like staying home and all but, I don’t know, it’s just our first Valentine’s Day together and I want it to be special but also don’t want to do something you won’t like.”

“Well, what do you want to do? You’re in this relationship as much as I am, you know.”

“I wanna do whatev-”

“Whatever I wanna do?” Christen finishes with a knowing smirk.

Tobin turns slightly sheepish at that, ducking her head just the smallest bit. “Yeah,” she shrugs, “I could be anywhere in the world doing absolutely nothing and be happy as long as I’m with you.” 

Maybe it’s too soon to say things of that extremity, but it doesn’t lessen the butterflies that fill Christen’s stomach or stop the way her eyes crinkle at the corners from how big she smiles at Tobin’s words. 

“Tobin,” she coos, completely forgetting that they’re standing wrapped in each other’s arms in the middle of a dog park. She tucks her face into the side of Tobin’s neck as she hugs her tight, placing just the softest kiss there before pulling away and settling on holding her hand instead. “All I’m going to say is that I’d be completely happy cuddling with you and Miles with some wine, popcorn, and a movie. But if you want to go out, I’ll put my best dress on and we can do that. You let me know, okay?”

“You’re sure?” 

“I wouldn’t lie to you,” she replies in a ‘duh’ sort of tone, earning a chuckle from Tobin. 

“Okay then,” Tobin gives a crooked smile, “I’ll think about it and let you know.”

“Looking forward to it,” Christen lets out a content hum before continuing, “Tobs?”

“Hm?”

“Is that Miles taking a mud bath over there or is that just a dark brown dog that looks a lot like him?”

“Ah, shit.”

 

///

 

“Kell, can you go get those cones over there while I get the others?” Tobin calls out to Kelley as she says goodbye to the last few of their players after them out early from practice.

“Like I have a choice!” Kelley calls back, moving her arms around in an exasperated manner.

“Exactly my point!”

“Ha ha ha,” Kelley deadpans as she runs back over to Tobin. “So, what’re you and the lady doing for V-Daaay?”

Tobin rolls her eyes and bites back her smile. “Why do you say it like that?”

“Because, Tobito! It’s your first Valentine’s Day with Christen! You have to do something really special,” Kelley reasons, smacking Tobin on the head softly with a stack of cones, earning a swatting hand.

“Who said I’m not?”

“Oh, so you are? What’s your plan? I need to approve!”

“Okay, no,” Tobin laughs, “You do not need to ‘approve’ anything.”

“Tobiiiin,” Kelley whines, tugging on her arm like a child. 

“Let me go,” Tobin grunts, peeling Kelley off of her and slinging the bag of cones over her shoulder. “I’m probably just gonna cook her dinner at my place. Everything is going to be way too crowded and we like staying in more than going out anyway. Chris told me herself that she’s happy staying in for the night.”

“Ugh,” Kelley groans, “I’m gonna tell Julie you guys are being boring.”

“Okay, mom,” Tobin deadpans with a laugh. “I don’t doubt that she’ll also call us boring but she probably knows better than anyone that Chris doesn’t like going out all that much.”

“What-ev-er,” Kelley drags out as she rolls her eyes. “Tell Chris to tell Julie that I said you guys are obligated to come out with us at least once a month.”

Tobin laughs, knowing her friend is partially serious, but is mostly being dramatic. “Why don’t you tell Julie yourself? You two are best friends now.”

Julie and Kelley weren’t really all that close. It simply happened that upon officially meeting, the two found mutual pleasure in teasing each of their respective friends over their new relationship. Together, it was insufferable.

“Oh! Is someone jealous?” Kelley laughs out. 

“I have no reason to be jealous. I have a girlfriend, remember?”

“I do remember,” She hums, a soft smile gracing her lips as she gives Tobin a kind side-eye. “Proud of you.”

“What?” Tobin laughs. “You’re proud of me for having a girlfriend?”

“Yes,” Kelley declares, “and because you just like let it happen, dude. And you’re really good to her. Probably better than you are to everyone else, and that’s saying something because you’re good to everyone, Tobin-”

“Okay, okay, you sap. You’re proud of me, I get it,” Tobin interjects, not being able to handle so many compliments being thrown at her at once.

Kelley lets out a loud laugh, throwing her head back slightly as she does. “Yes, Toby! I’m so proud of you!” She exclaims as she jumps at Tobin, making her catch her tiny flying body.

“Don’t call me that,” Tobin whines, pushing Kelley off of her once more. 

“Oh, is it reserved for Christen only?”

“No, you dweeb,” Tobin chuckles. “I am not telling you anything anymore.”

“That’s okay,” Kelley grins all too widely, “Christen will tell Jules and Jules will tell me.”

“Good God.”

Kelley cackles out a laugh, throwing her head back just as she always does. “Okay, but seriously, Tobs, if you’re gonna stay home, you gotta make it like extra romantic.”

“Who says?”

“Me.”

“Ah. Of course I should trust you!”

“See! You’re getting it now!”

Tobin rolls her eyes again. “When I asked she said all she wanted to do was stay home and watch a movie with wine and popcorn.”

“But is that what she really wants?”

“That’s what she said she wants,” Tobin shrugs. 

“Okay, but is she lying about what she really wants because she doesn’t want to seem like she expects something big?”

“She said she wouldn’t lie to me.”

“But would she say she wasn’t lying just so-”

“Kell, she’s not lying.”

“Okay, okay, sorry,” Kelley laughs. “You’re just too easy to piss off.”

“Whatever, jerk,” Tobin laughs along. “Do you really think I should do something more special, though? I mean… I told her I was willing to but I just didn’t know if she’d want to or even like it. I don’t know. It’s just that it’s our first Valentine’s together and I don’t want to disappoint her but I also don’t want to go against what she told me she’d be happy with.” 

“Tobin, I was just messing with you, dude. Not everyone is into going out and doing the whole shebang. If she said she wants to stay home, then just make her a nice dinner with her wine and popcorn and you for dessert. Give the girl what she said she wants.”

“She said nothing about wanting me for dessert.” Tobin’s cheeks burn up as she says it.

“But did she leave that part out even though she really does want you for dessert?” Kelley raises an eyebrow and points a finger at Tobin.

“I’m looking for a new assistant coach.”

 

///

 

“Okay, Miles, sit,” Tobin commands, watching the dog sit obediently and tilt his head up at her expectantly. “Good boy! Okay! Miles, down.” 

Christen watches with a grin from her stove as Tobin tries to train Miles before dinner. He already knew some of the basics from what they taught him at the shelter, but Tobin was set on teaching him as much as she could as soon as she could. 

“No, no. Miles, no. Come, Miles,” Tobin calls sternly as Miles stands to walk over to Christen, said woman chuckling as the dog nudges her legs in search of food. “Miles, come.”

Tobin slugs over to the two of them, picking the dog up in her arms and cradling him. “My own dog likes my girlfriend better than me and I’ve only had him for a few weeks.”

“Tobin, he’s known me much longer and I have food,” Christen chuckles, stirring the food to make sure their dinner doesn’t burn. “In fact, he probably only came over for the latter. It’s okay though. I still like you.”

“Good one,” Tobin grins, moving to set a squirmy Miles back on the ground.

“I know, thanks,” Christen winks, “Will you get some plates out please? It’s almost done.”

“You got it.” Tobin responds, standing upright to be met with Christen puckering her lips in request of a kiss.

“Thank you, Tobs.”

By the time they’ve sat down at Christen’s dining table for dinner, Tobin has gotten Miles to earn a couple treats by sitting, laying down, staying put, and giving her a half attempt at a ‘roll-over’ before getting too excited and popping right back up.

“He’s learning well, Tobs,” Christen praises as Tobin stuffs her mouth with a forkful of food. 

Tobin gives a hum that doesn’t quite say yes or no, chewing and swallowing before answering properly. “That’s because you already taught him stuff and he listens to you when you teach him.”

“Oh, come on,” Christen laughs lightly. “You just got him to do more than he ever has and I didn’t help one bit.” 

Tobin looks over to the dog that’s occupied by his treats with a lazy smile. “Can you believe a stupid fire alarm got me a girlfriend and a dog?”

Christen laughs, shaking her head at the idea. “I’m just glad it’s stopped. I seriously wanted to look for somewhere new to live.”

“But then you wouldn’t live near me,” Tobin pouts. 

“Very true,” Christen acknowledges, pointing her fork at Tobin with a grin, “I like living this close to you.” 

Tobin grins back all the same, taking Christen’s free hand to hold on the table while they eat.  “How was work today, babe?” 

“Good! We’re almost finished getting everything settled for the adoption event next Saturday. We’re just gonna have to start setting up super super early with such a small team. Jules and I put flyers around and spread the word on socials mentioning that we could use volunteers but we’ve only had like one person reach out.”

“Aw, I’m sorry. I’ll go early with you to help out. I can bring Kelley too but I’m not sure if she’ll be more distracting than helpful,” Tobin jokes, earning a small laugh out of Christen.

“Yeah, especially with Jules there. They’re relentless together, I swear,” Christen rolls her eyes lightheartedly. “I’m not too worried about set-up, especially if we start early enough. I’m more concerned that if people aren’t seeing the ask for help, we just might not be doing enough publicity for the event in general, you know?”

“What do you mean? You think people aren’t going to show?” Tobin questions, rubbing her thumb back and forth over the face of Christen’s hand upon noting how much quieter her girlfriend’s voice got. 

“I guess,” Christen shrugs. “That’s probably the worst case scenario. I mean we could also get a big turn out and just no volunteers, which might also be a disaster, but I guess a big turn out is better than nothing,” she rambles, “I don’t know. I just want it to go well, you know? Some of our pups have been with us for a while now and I just really want them to find good homes.”

“They will, baby. I have faith they will because you’re so good at your job and you care so much about them.” Tobin gives her a warm smile, receiving a slightly shy smile and adoring eyes peeking through long, mascara-coated lashes in response. 

Tobin makes a loud, smacking kissy noise at her, exaggerating the movement with her mouth too, before they both return to their dinner quietly with smiles on their faces. 

They laugh at Miles a bit as he tries to take his toy ball from Tobin’s quick and tricky feet before she gives in and lets him have it so they can wash their dishes. It’s a bit of a routine for them. Before, Tobin would ‘chill for a bit’ before washing the dishes or loading them into the dishwasher (meaning she would go to sleep and forget about them until the next day), but since Christen, washing dishes with her made Tobin just as happy as cooking together, watching TV together, or going on grocery runs together. 

“Will you stay for a movie?”

After New Years, the two had decided that they wouldn’t sleep over at each other’s places often, and if they did, it would only be on weekends and not during the week. Both of them understood that living so close to each other could lead to moving extremely fast, and as much as they loved spending time together, they wanted to tread the waters of a new relationship carefully. 

“Chris, you act like I have somewhere else to be,” Tobin chuckles.

“Well, I don’t know.”

Tobin gives her a playful side-eye as she plops herself onto the couch, reaching for a blanket and making herself comfortable.

“I picked up a couple from Redbox because I’m tired of Netflix,” Christen makes a displeased face as she sets a disc in a DVD player before scooping Miles up in her arms and planting more than a few kisses on his head as she lays into Tobin’s side on the couch. 

“Hey, what about me?” Tobin whines, frowning at all the attention her dog is getting. “I want kisses too.”

Christen looks up from Miles’ head with a goofy smile, staring at Tobin for a few seconds before holding the dog’s head up to her girlfriend’s face. Miles immediately goes to lick at Tobin’s cheeks, causing her to squirm and Christen to giggle. 

“Not those kisses,” she groans, trying to shove Miles’ face away from her own as she laughs. 

Christen gives in and pulls Miles away, placing a quick kiss on Tobin’s over-exaggerated pout before settling back against her side again and starting the movie. 

Tobin smiles at the sight of Miles already beginning to fall asleep on Christen’s stomach a few minutes later, completely understanding how calming her girlfriend’s presence is. 

“I may as well just leave him here. He loves you more than me,” Tobin jokingly whispers close to Christen’s ear as if there was anyone else in the room she could possibly be disturbing from the movie. 

Christen looks over to her, unamused, before nudging her with an elbow and saying, “Stop being jealous and shh.”

Tobin grins once more, placing a soft kiss to Christen’s hair before wrapping her arm fully around the girl, slumping a bit more into the couch cushions, and attempting to force her attention span to last longer than a few minutes. 

Usually, movie time with Christen was one of the most relaxing times to her. But tonight, she was racking her mind in search of ways to help Christen with the adoption event the coming weekend. She knew that she could ask her own friends to help or even come along, but she wasn’t too sure that many were actually looking for dogs to adopt or would even be free with such short notice. 

As if Christen could tell that Tobin wasn’t entirely focused, she takes the girl’s hand into her own, resting them on her chest and massaging her thumb into Tobin’s palm sweetly whilst continuing to stroke Miles’s head gently with her other hand. Occasionally, she brings their hands up to her lips to kiss Tobin’s fingers or knuckles gently, Tobin always returning the gesture with a kiss to her head.

“Holy shit, babe, I got it!”

Christen and Miles both jump, the dog grunting and huffing before settling himself back on Christen’s tummy and making Tobin chuckle.

“Sorry, sorry,” she apologizes, running a hand over Miles’ head and squeezing Christen’s hand.

“Care to share what’s got you yelling?” Christen raises an eyebrow as she pauses the film.

“I said sorryyy!” Tobin laughs. “But what would you say if I said I would bring up volunteering at your event to the girls tomorrow at practice?” 

Christen sits up a little at that, waking Miles again and causing him to leave for a less disturbing spot on the couch to sleep. “Your soccer girls? They would be interested in that?” 

“It’s a free chance to be around dogs and it’s hours for community service on their college applications. I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to,” Tobin shrugs. “If you don’t want me to ask them, that’s fine. I just know they’re good girls and would actually be helpful and wouldn’t fool around.”

“No, no, I would love their help! I guess I’m just a little caught off guard,” she chuckles, “I wasn’t expecting it is all. You don’t have to though, Tobs. I don’t want them to feel like they have to in order to be on your good side or something.”

“Pshh,” Tobin scoffs playfully, “Not to brag, but I’m the cool coach. They won’t be worried about that. Trust me, babe.” 

Christen squints her eyes at Tobin, a small smile on her lips. “The cool coach, huh?” 

“Duh.”

“Not Kelley?”

God, no,” Tobin laughs. “They get just as tired of Kelley as I do. I mean we all love her, but…”

Christen giggles, cupping Tobin’s cheek and pulling her in for a soft kiss. “You are too good to me, Tobin Heath.”

“You deserve all the good in the entire world, Chris.”

Christen’s face softens, her thumb stilling on Tobin’s cheekbone and her heart stuttering its normal beat. She moves in to kiss her girlfriend again, letting every last drop of passion and gratefulness and admiration pour itself right out of her body and into Tobin.

“You are everything good in the world, T. And then some,” she whispers, punctuating her words with another sound kiss and the softest pecks as if an ellipsis. 

Tobin’s heart skips a beat all the same, but ever the jokester, she whispers, “Save the sap for Valentine’s Day, honey.” 

Christen laughs into her mouth, smacking her chest lightly before shoving her away and playing her movie again. 

“Wait, Chris…”

Christen hums in question, not pausing the film again.

“Since we’re talking about Valentine’s Day again, I just wanted to check in again to make sure you haven’t changed your mi-”

“We’re staying home.”

“Oh- uh. Okay?” Tobin chuckles, slightly taken aback by Christen’s decision. 

Christen finally pauses the movie again, turning around to face Tobin once again with a knowing look on her face. “Baby, do you wanna go out? If you do, I’ll make a reservation somewhere as soon as I find a place that still has availability. But if not, we’re staying home.”

Tobin chuckles at the finality in Christen’s tone. “Not really. There’s traffic and crowded places and-”

“So we’re staying home.”

Tobin shuts her mouth at the amused expression Christen is showing. 

“We’re staying home,” Tobin agrees with a grin. “And I’m gonna spoil you like no tomorrow and do something super special for you. We don’t have to go out for special, right?”

“No, Tobin,” Christen laughs, “we don’t have to go out for special. Can you stop worrying now? We’ll spoil each other here where we’re comfortable.”

“Okay,” Tobin smiles.

“Okay,” Christen repeats, squeezing her knee before leaning over to the other end of the couch. “And that way, we can have this little nugget with us,” she coos in a baby voice, kissing the pup repeatedly on his head and pulling him back into her arms. “You deserve some love on Valentine’s Day too, huh Miles?”

Tobin pretends to groan and throw her head back in annoyance, but she comes back up smiling when the two each take a cheek to attack with kisses.

 

///

 

“Okay so we’re gonna have Bailey, Finn, Cooper, and Rosco at station 3 then?”

“Uh huh,” Julie mutters, “Sooo that leaves Reese, Ziggy, and Charlie and station 4.”

Julie finishes aligning all the dog names to their respective station numbers on the planning board before stepping back with her hands still in the air. She and Christen both give it another look over in silence before turning to look at each other with wide grins splitting their faces. 

“We’re done!” Christen shouts, slapping her hands against Julie’s still raised ones. 

Finally! Oh my god, I get to go home to my husband,” Julie pretends to cry.

“Easy now, J,” Christen laughs, “We still have to clean up and go give the monsters their baths.”

Julie flops herself into a chair, a pout gracing her lips and a whine escaping them. “But my sweet sweet husband.”

“Yeah, well I have a sweet sweet girlfriend at home too but the pups stink and can’t wait until right before the event for a shower.” 

“Ughhhh,” Julie groans exaggeratedly, “can’t we make the staff do it tomorrow?”

Christen tries to contain her laugh as she watches Julie put on her best pleading face.

“How about we do half of them today and then help them do the other half tomorrow?” She bargains.

Julie closes her eyes in thought for a few seconds before popping out of her chair and agreeing with an “Okay.” 

The two finish cleaning the mess they made in the midst of finalizing the plans for their adoption event before they move on to take out the less rowdy dogs for their baths. 

“This place is lucky to have you because I definitely would have left and just done this tomorrow if I was alone here.”

“That’s why we make a good team,” Christen grins, “You let us relax a bit and I make sure we at least get something done.”

Julie laughs, poking her tongue out at Christen and flcking a bit of water at her. 

“Zach said he would try to get some of his buddies to come help us set up next weekend if we need the help.” 

“Oh! That reminds me! Tobin said that she would ask the girls on her team today at practice if they’d be willing to come volunteer for community service hours. I told her she didn’t have to but she swears that they’ll be up for it.” 

“Smart lady ya got there, Chris. Maybe we’ll even be able to convince some of them to come in on the regular for more volunteer hours,” she winks. “Then we won’t be stuck here washing these stinkers alone!” 

Christen chuckles along, thinking that regular community service hours at a local dog shelter could look good on the right application. “It depends on what those girls wanna do for a living, which may very well be soccer, but maybe.”

“Speaking of next weekend, though…” Julie wags her eyebrows at Christen, “There is a certain holiday on Sunday, if I’m not mistaken.”

Christen rolls her eyes as she rinses one of the dogs off. “You’re not mistaken, J. And before you ask, we’re staying home.”

“Staying home?!?” Julie exclaims, slapping her hands onto the edge of the tub. 

“That’s what I said, yes.”

“But, Chris,” she whines.

Jules,” Christen mocks back in the same childish tone. 

“It’s your first Valentine’s together!”

“You keep mentioning the obvious, J,” Christen teases with a laugh.

Julie makes some sort of exasperated sound and resumes bathing the dogs. “Kelley’s not gonna believe this,” she mutters.

“Kelley probably already knows,” Christen rolls her eyes and chuckles. “And if she does, I’m honestly surprised she hasn’t ratted us out to you yet.” 

“I’ll find out later,” she huffs. “Well if you stay home, what are you gonna do there?”

“Uhm, I don’t know? Eat a nice dinner, watch some movies, have some wine…”

“You guys do that like all the time, though.”

“You might be right,” Christen laughs, “I don’t know. I’ll figure something out. Maybe I’ll set up a wine and paint night for us or something.” 

“Well then why don’t you guys just go to a wine and paint night then?” 

“Mmm, good point. Two words: obnoxious couples.” 

Julie guffaws, her jaw hanging open. “As if you two aren’t one of those obnoxious couples yourselves!”

“I never said we weren’t,” Christen smirks. “But this way we get to be obnoxious in private.”

“Wow,” Julie whispers. “Your mind is something else, Chrissy.” 

“Genius, huh?” Christen sports a shit-eating grin at her best friend. 

“I guess so.” 

“What do you and Zach have planned?”

“Oh, we are going to spend the entire day playing with whichever one of these stinkers I convince him to let us take home.”

“Another one, Jules?” Christen laughs, her eyebrows raised in slight disbelief that her friend wanted to adopt yet another dog after having already taken one home last year for Christmas. 

“Koda needs a buddy!” Julie defends. “Who better than one he already knows from here? And what better reason than as a Valentine's Day gift?”

Christen shakes her head, chuckling at Julie’s reasoning. 

“You’ll see. In a few years, you’re gonna be begging Tobin to let you take another one of them home because Miles misses them.”

Christen’s heart skips a beat at the thought of still being with Tobin in a few years time and the possibility of having a home with her by then to take another dog home to. She feels her cheeks blush at the images in her mind of Tobin and a couple of dogs awaiting her arrival home from work everyday; or Tobin playing soccer with the dogs around the living room as she yells a warning not to break anything; or being able to take the dogs to watch Tobin coach a practice every once in awhile, playing fetch in a far-off field with them so they wouldn’t interrupt her; or-

“We might as well just split them and each take half of them home at that rate, J,” she jokes quickly in hopes of avoiding Julie noticing her pause in conversation for her imagination. “Then we wouldn’t even need this place.”

“Don’t tempt me,” Julie raises a pointed finger covered in soap suds at Christen.

“Whatever,” Christen rolls her eyes, a large grin spreading on her lips as she does so. “Now, hurry up. I wanna go home to my girlfriend and dog too, you know.”

“Oh, your dog?”

Christen looks up and her eyes widen once she realizes what she said. “No, Tobin’s dog. My girlfriend and her dog.”

“That’s not what you said,” Julie smirks. 

“It’s what I meant.”

“You sure?”

“Just hurry up, please.”

Julie snickers. “Your wish is my command, C.”

 

///

 

A whistle blows loud throughout a field before Tobin yells, “Alright, bring it in!” 

“Gosh damn, coach. What did we do to deserve this?” A lanky blonde teenager by the name of Emily Sonnett pants as she jogs over to where Tobin is standing. 

“Shut up, Son,” her best friend, Lindsey, mutters, kicking her lightly on the foot. 

Tobin laughs at the pair, “It’s no different than anything else I’ve ever had you do.”

“She’s just being a baby,” the youngest of the team, Mal, jokes, knowing full well that she is in fact the team baby. 

Sonnett pulls a face at her teammates before being knocked in the head with a cone by none other than Kelley. 

“Be quiet and behave and I’ll bring you a snack for after practice tomorrow,” Kelley jokes. 

The entire team laughs at the way Sonnett’s face lights up in hope before falling into a heavy frown when she realizes Kelley wasn’t being serious. 

“Rude, Miss Kelley.”

Tobin rolls her eyes at the group before going over improvement techniques, travel plans for their game the upcoming week, and such as the girls stretch out. 

“Okay. Uh, just one more thing,” Tobin exhales, running her palms over her shorts a few times. 

All of the girls watch her skeptically as Kelley’s face breaks into an amused grin and she sits on the ground, crossing her legs and putting her chin atop her closed fists.

Tobin glares at her quickly before turning her attention back to her team. “How many of you are looking for community service hours?”

More than half of the team raise their hands. 

“Cool. Well, uh, I have a proposal for you all then.”

“Do tell,” Kelley presses in an all too chipper tone.

“Well, first of all, how many of you have plans set next weekend? Saturday, specifically.”

“Coach, just tell us what it is,” Mal urges, her face still lined with confusion. “I mean, I still have a couple years ahead of me but it’d be nice to get some hours in early.”

“Right,” Tobin whispers to herself, sending Mal a small smile for thinking responsibly. “Well, uh, my girlfriend owns a dog shelter-”

Girlfriend?!?” A few of them exclaim.

Dogs?!?” Rose yells, finally speaking up after having been silent the entire time post-training. 

Kelley sits back on her hands, watching the entire fiasco unfold before her eyes as the smile she sports never leaves her face. 

“Oh my god,” Tobin mutters to herself, running a hand over her face before continuing. “Anyway, they are having an adoption event next Saturday, the 13th, and need volunteers if any of you are interested and available. I can send out the hours and information along with a spreadsheet if you’d like to volunteer-”

“Me! Me! I’ll do it!” Rose exclaims, shooting her hand up into the air eagerly. Lindsey follows suit, nodding excitedly in agreement. 

Tobin can’t help but chuckle, because of course it’s those two that would volunteer first. 

“Well I’ll be sure to send out the information and sheet and I’m sure Chris will be happy to hear you guys are willing to help out.”

“Her name is Chris?”
“Do you have any pictures?”
“How long have you been together?”
“Go Coach Toby!”

“Oh my god, you guys,” Tobin groans.

“Yeaaah, go Coach Toby!” Kelley exclaims as she gets up and shakes Tobin by the shoulders. 

“Okay, no. You don’t get to egg them on,” Tobin gives Kelley a warning glare as she shoves her away.

Kelley snickers along with a few of the girls, mouthing ‘she’s hot!’ at them and causing an eruption of laughter from the teenagers. 

“Kelley, what did you say to them?”

“Nothing!” The assistant coach holds her hands up in defense. “They’re just weirdos!”

A few of the girls yell a defensive “hey!” before Tobin gets everyone back under control.

“Okay, okay. Any last questions before I let you go?”

Lindsey raises her hand.

“Sup, Linds?”

“Will you tell us a little bit about her if we promise to behave? I mean, we’re gonna have to meet her and all.”

Tobin hears Sonnett whisper “good one” to Lindsey and sees her stick her hand out just barely for a not-so-discreet high-five. 

She sighs, looking over the group who all wear hopeful faces before rolling her eyes and giving in. “Her name is Christen, I met her when the fire alarm went off in my building because she lives a few floors up from me, she co-owns a local dog shelter with her best friend, and we’ve only been together for a few months. Happy?”

A few girls quietly squeal before Mal asks if Tobin has any pictures. 

“No. You’ll see her if you go volunteer.”

There’s a collective whine from the group before Tobin smirks.

“Alright, youngins. You’re good to go for today. Good work and I’ll send out the info tonight.”

The group all get up, groaning as Kelley squirts water at them as they go. Some of them send Tobin teasing glaces and others just smile at her warmly before going. 

Tobin smiles to herself, thankful for her job and her team, regardless of their sometimes annoying behavior.

 

Sometime later that night, after Tobin is attacked in kisses from a very thankful Christen, she sends out an email to her team.

Hey girls. I’ve attached a picture of the flyer for the event next weekend. Volunteer hours range from two hours before the event starts to an hour after it ends. I also attached a link to the spreadsheet where you can put down your name and the hours you would like to volunteer, if you are interested. Christen says thank you again and she can’t wait to meet you.

P.S. it wouldn’t hurt to post the flyer and spread the word to your friends and family. Maybe I’ll consider cutting laps short if you do ;)

 

///

 

“Baby, what can I help with?” 

Tobin looks up from her space on the ground, her face and arms speckled with paint. “Chris, I told you I got it,” she chuckles. 

“I know, I know. But you don’t have to do this for me and I want to help in any way that I can.”

After Christen searched and searched for a printing company cheap enough to make some banners for the event (and failing to find one), Tobin had the bright idea that she would paint a few for her. Christen immediately loved the idea, throwing out a few suggestions and claiming that she would practice her painting so she could help Tobin with them. 

“How about you,” Tobin draws out the last word in thought, smiling to herself childishly as she looks back up at Christen, “give me a kiss and then go take a nice, relaxing bath or something since you’ve been working so hard.” 

“Tobin,” Christen whines, tilting her head and slumping her shoulders in an exasperated state. “I’m being serious. Let me help like fill in the lines or something at least!”

“I’m serious too! Just relax, babe. I got this handled.”

Christen squints her eyes at her girlfriend. “Are you just secretly afraid that I’m gonna mess it up or something and that’s why you won’t let me help? Because you can just tell me-”

“No! No, Chris,” Tobin laughs, slightly nervous that she was going to get herself in a bit of trouble, even if she wasn’t worried about that at all. “Okay, if you really want to help, you can paint in the lettering up there that I haven’t finished.”

Christen grins victoriously, immediately going to pluck a random paintbrush from Tobin’s set and get started. Tobin takes the brush right back from her, replacing it with the correct size and style and puckering up for the kiss she had requested prior. Christen turns sheepish, taking the paintbrush from Tobin’s hands gently and leaning in for a rather quick kiss before sitting down with her paint and beginning to fill in the lettering her girlfriend had drawn out. Tobin smiles as she watches Christen roll her sleeves up and lay down on her stomach to get comfortable.

They paint in silence for a while, Tobin working on the illustrations of dogs she created and Christen slowly but meticulously filling in the lettering to perfection, earning smiles and chuckles from Tobin every time she gets caught with her tongue peeking out of her mouth or biting her lips.

“Okay. I’m finished with the letters, Tobs. Did I do okay?”

Tobin finishes painting a few strokes before standing up to get a good look at Christen’s work. She wraps her girlfriend in a hug from the side, kissing into her hair, then her cheeks, then the corner of her mouth. “You did perfect, beautiful.”

Christen blushes at both the compliment and the term of endearment.

“I would offer to help with the drawings and all that, but I’m afraid my painting skills aren’t at that level yet.”

Tobin laughs, eyes crinkling at the corners and teeth on full display. “Well, it’s a good thing I got it covered then, hm?”

“A very good thing,” Christen agrees, nodding her head softly and leaning in to give Tobin a lingering kiss. “Thank you for all this, Tobin. I can’t tell you how thankful I am…”

“No need to thank me, Chris. Besides, I’m loving all of it.”

Christen swears her heart might melt right out of her chest. 

“Well can I get you anything? Do you want to take a break?” She runs her hands up and down Tobin’s arms, squeezing gently at the muscle there.

“No, I’m okay.” Tobin shakes her head. “Can I get a grilled cheese, though?”

Christen has to suppress the laugh that threatens to spill from her lips. “Of course. I’ll go make it.” She leaves Tobin with a kiss on the cheek before she disappears into the kitchen.

Tobin has nearly finished painting the banners by the time Christen is done, willing herself to finish before scarfing down the buttery grilled cheese sandwich that was calling her name from the table. 

“Okay,” Tobin breathes out, jumping up from her place on the ground. “I think this is nearly finished.”

Christen walks over, placing her chin on Tobin’s shoulder. “Tobin, this looks amazing! What else could it possibly need?” 

Tobin looks at Christen from the corner of her eye, a smirk spreading wide on her lips. “Can you get that bag over there and pour each of the paints into a separate platter for me while I eat and set some stuff up?”

Christen’s eyebrows furrow. “What do you need platters for?”

“You’ll see, you’ll see,” Tobin teases before shoving half of the grilled cheese in her mouth. 

By the time Christen is finished setting up the paints and laying them out, Tobin has already finished her sandwich and is just finished laying out sheets of under paper beneath the banners.

“Tobin, I swear, if you plan on making a mess, I’m not going to help you clean this all up. Your apartment, your ideas, your mess.” 

Tobin lets out a loud laugh, plucking Miles from his caged play area towards the corner of her living room. “Nice to know you’re so willing to help.”

Christen rolls her eyes. “What are you going to do?”

“Miles is gonna be my assistant today,” Tobing grins, “Aren’t you, buddy? You wanna paint, Miles?”

“Tobin.” Christen’s tone is some part warning, some part amused, and large part in disbelief. 

“Yes, love?” 

“You’re going to cause mayhem in here!”

“Exactly!”

“Oh my god,” Christen laughs as Tobin places Miles in her arms so she can get the cage barriers and create a designated area for him to make a mess in. “What is she gonna do to you, poor baby,” she coos at Miles. 

“Hey! I bought safe paint to go on his paws. I’m not a terrible mother!” 

Christen giggles at Tobin’s defensiveness, leaning down to Miles’ ear to whisper “She’s crazy,” loud enough for Tobin to hear. 

Tobin shoots her a fake glare, her grin giving her away, before taking Miles back and saying, “Just wait. It’s gonna look so good and  you’re gonna be taking this all back later.”

She dips each of Miles’ paws in a different color, trying not to laugh at herself over how crazy she’s being, before sticking them up for Christen to take a picture of. “Okay, buddy. Don’t go too crazy,” she laughs as she places him down on the banner, quickly moving out of the barriers and closing them. 

Miles stands still for a moment, looking between Tobin and Christen with big, confused eyes. 

“Aww,” Christen laughs, “Babe, I don’t think he likes it. Get him out of there.”

“He’s fine,” Tobin laughs, “Look.” She runs across the room to grab one of Miles’ favorite toys, his soccer ball. “Go to the other side, Chris. We’re gonna play a game of catch.”

As soon as Miles sees his ball and hears the squeak that comes from it when Tobin presses into it, his feet start moving. 

“You want it? You want your ball, Miles? Get it!” Tobin throws the ball to the other end of the banner where Christen stands waiting, Miles running after it and leaving a series of dog paw marks on the banner. 

“Oh my gosh, T, that looks so cute,” Christen gushes.

Tobin can’t do much but smirk before moving to a different spot outside the barrier to catch the ball in order to get Miles to create a different path of paw marks. 

They move around playfully, trying to keep Miles from catching his ball in midair, laughing until it hurts and the banner is full of different colored dog paw prints. Once the pup is worn out and panting, Tobin picks him up and lets Christen wipe off his paws before letting him down for some water and a few treats for “being such a good helper.”

“I guess he doesn’t need his daily walk after that,” Christen laughs as she watches Miles plop himself down on his bed for a nap. “Which is probably a good thing, because I’m tired now too.”

Tobin laughs, coming up to wrap Christen up in a hug and kiss her forehead. “Thank you for helping, babe.” 

“Thank you for doing all this, T. Really, I appreciate it so much more than you know.”

Tobin grins at her, she and Christen staring at each other wordlessly, but content to be in each other’s arms. 

“You’re cute, you know that?” Tobin cheeses, moving in to smack a kiss on Christen’s cheek.

Christen squirms in Tobin’s arms, pretending to be grossed out. 

“Oh you wanna play that game?” Tobin laughs, letting her go and reaching over to dip her hand in one of the platters of paint. 

Tobin,” Christen’s eyes widen, her hands flying up in defense and her feet taking careful steps backwards.. “You better not-”

“Or what?”

“Tobin!” She screams as her girlfriend catches her by the waist and smears a streak of blue paint across her cheek. Tobin plants another smack of a kiss on Christen’s clean cheek before letting her go, laughing to herself as she does, but just as she’s thought she’s won their little battle, Christen slaps some orange paint across half of Tobin’s face, starting from her forehead and ending down just below her jaw. Christen smirks at her, placing a light kiss of her own on Tobin’s clean cheek before trying to get away.

She only makes it a few steps away before she has green paint covering her other cheek, her jaw hanging open as she laughs incredulously. 

“You okay, Chris? You’re looking a little green.” 

Christen can’t help but laugh herself at her girlfriend’s pun. “Don’t start something you don’t wanna finish, Tobin.”

Bring it, baby,” Tobin smirks cockily.

“You asked for it,” Christen mutters, picking up one of the platters of paint from the table before practically wrestling Tobin a few steps onto the paper that still lays the floor. As soon as she has her there, she wastes no time in pouring the red paint right over Tobin’s head, even dropping the tin platter and using both her hands to spread the paint around. “Your hair looked like it needed a bit of a wash, honey. Just helping you out.” She adds a sickeningly sweet smile at the end of her words.

In a matter of mere seconds, Tobin has her lips on Christens in a deep kiss, taking her girlfriend by surprise. “I don’t think this made it any cleaner, Chris.”

“No?” Christen manages to get out, voice surprisingly stable given the situation.

Tobin shakes her head, lips still grazing Christen’s. “I think I need a shower now.” 

“Maybe you should go take one then.”

“Maybe…” Christen doesn’t even realize that Tobin has picked up another platter of paint until she feels it dripping all over her face from where it was poured onto her hair, “you should take one too.” She lets out a loud yelp in surprise, finally waking Miles from his nap to which both she and Tobin are surprised that he had slept through most of the mini war they had going on already. 

Their little moment is interrupted as the dog runs over to jump at their legs, effectively getting himself covered in the paint that still drips from their bodies. 

Both girls let out something between a groan and a laugh at the fact that now all three of them need a shower. 

Tobin picks Miles up off the ground, cradling him in her arms and kissing his head. “Alright then, let’s go,” she declares as she begins to walk toward the bathroom, “Family shower time.”

Christen has to bite her lip to stop the stupid smile that overtakes her face, but it’s really no use and her stomach flips a thousand times over as she lets out a happy little sigh before following along. 

 

///

 

Kelley : Just picked up some of the girls from the school. Linds said she was picking up a few others. 

Kelley : They are VERY excited to meet Miss Christen. Oh, and the dogs too ;)

Tobin rolls her eyes at the messages, shooting back a quick thank you before putting her phone away in her pocket, getting out of the driver’s seat and taking Miles out of the backseat. 

“Are you ready to see your old buddies, Miles?”

The dog wags his tail at Tobin’s excited voice. 

Tobin had considered leaving him at home out of fear that he would think she was taking him back to the shelter, but Christen assured her that as long as she still showed him care and attention while he was there, it would most likely be fine, especially considering that he never had any negative experiences there with Julie and Christen. Tobin agreed, albeit a bit hesitantly, but she figured that he would be outside of the building with one or some of the soccer girls for the majority of the time and not actually in the building. 

“Hopefully a lot of them get to go home with some families today, just like you,” she speaks to him again, attaching his leash to his collar, cradling his face in her hands, and giving him a quick kiss above his snout. 

Together, they walk into the shelter, Tobin watching him carefully for his reaction, but all that comes are excited barks when he spots Christen. 

“Hi baby boy!” Christen coos as she rushes over, bending down right away to give him attention. “I missed you too,” she laughs as he licks at her face and she scratches behind his ears. 

“What about me?” Tobin whines. “I missed you too, you know?” 

Christen grins up at Tobin, standing and taking her face in her hands to give her a sweet kiss. “Hi, baby. I missed you too.” 

A gagging sound comes from behind Christen. “Gross. Didn’t you two see each other like an hour ago?” 

Christen turns from her spot in Tobin’s arms, her smile not leaving her face even when she rolls her eyes at Julie.

“Hi, Miles!” Julie exclaims, immediately going to sit on the ground and give him all the belly rubs to show how much she had missed him. 

“Hello to you too, Julie,” Tobin chuckles. 

“Morning, Tobs,” Julie grins. “Zach will be here soon. Where’s Shorty at?”

Both Tobin and Christen roll their eyes this time. 

“She’ll be here soon, too. Probably just behind me, actually,” Tobin assures her. “She’s got a few of the girls from our team with her and then a few others are coming in a different car.”

Julie finally stands to give Tobin a hug hello, leaving a well-behaved Miles to sit on the ground with his tail wagging and his tongue hanging out of his mouth happily. 

“Thanks so much again for that. We appreciate it more than you know.”

Tobin waves her off. “It’s no biggie. Thank them when they get here since they’ll be doing the work,” she jokes. “Speaking of, I’ve got a few boxes of donuts and pastries for everyone and a few coffees for you guys in the car. I’m just gonna go grab them real quick but I wanted to say hello first because I knew this dude was gonna go crazy when he saw you know who.” She tilts her head towards Christen, handing the leash off to the giggling woman. 

“It’s not my fault he loves me so much,” Christen teases.

“Whatever,” Tobin replies, both she and Julie laughing at Christen’s unapologetic tone. “I’ll be right back.” She looks down to Miles. “Don’t embarrass me while I’m gone,” She feigns a whisper to him, smiling and winking to the girls as she leaves to her car. 

She’s got her hands full trying to balance a tray of coffees on top of boxes of sweets when a honk startles her nearly enough to make her drop everything. Loud laughs spill out of the vehicle as she turns around slowly and carefully with a hard glare on her face. 

“What are you? A bunch of kids?” She asks as they climb out of the car. “Oh wait, you are! All of you!” She gives Kelley a hard stare as the woman cackles at her. 

“Tobito, I had to!”

“No,” Tobin shakes her head, “you really didn’t.” 

Mal rushes over to Tobin, trying to contain her laughs and taking the tray of coffees from her so she won’t spill.

“Thanks, kid,” Tobin gives her a thankful smile.

“You got it, Coach,” Mal smiles back, letting a small giggle escape from her because she can’t help it. 

“Just for that, only Mal gets donuts today.”

A series of gasps are heard, but Kelley’s must be the loudest as she rushes to take a box off of Tobin’s hands. “I’m helping! I’m helping!”

“A child,” Tobin mutters, shaking her head yet again. “Oh, good,” she says as she spots Lindsey and the others walking up to the group. “All of you are here. Listen, I am going to say this one time and one time only. You hear me?” 

All of the girls, including Kelley, nod at her. 

“Good. If any of you do anything stupid-”

Sonnett groans audibly, interrupting Tobin’s spiel. “Coach T, she’s your girlfriend! We have to give you a bit of a hard time!”

“No!” Tobin declares. “I kid you not you all will be running laps so hard if-”

“Can we just get to the dogs?” Rose groans. “I’ll make sure Sonny doesn’t do anything stupid, but I was promised there’s a bulldog in there and I am getting very impatient.”

Kelley snickers, nudging Sonnett with her elbow.

Tobin sighs, closing her eyes for a second. “Fine. But, seriously, just please don’t embarrass me?” 

Rose is taking off toward the entrance before Tobin is even saying a word, Mal following close behind. 

“Don’t worry, Coach,” Lindsey comes up to Tobin’s side, slinging an arm over her shoulders. “I’m sure she’ll still like you no matter what we say.”

“Linds-” Tobin begins to warn, being interrupted by Lindsey’s laugh. 

“I’m kidding. I can’t promise anything on behalf of those bozos,” she tilts her chin towards where the group of girls are speed walking toward the entrance of the shelter, “but I can tell you really like her so I’ll try to keep Sonnett and Coach Kelley away from her as best as I can.”

Tobin chuckles. “C’mon, kid.”

She has to practically wrestle her way into the shelter, muttering ‘calm downs’ and ‘behaves’ at the girls before turning to see Christen watching them with an amused grin. She responds with a nervous smile of her own, instructing the girls to put the donuts and coffees down on the counter before walking over to Christen. 

“I’m sorry for whatever happens today,” Tobin whispers to her, receiving an affectionate eye roll and squeeze on the arm. “Girls, this is Christen and that’s-”

“JULIE!” Kelley exclaims, running over and tackling the blonde in a hug. 

Julie is laughing loudly, hugging Kelley back as everyone watches them. “Hey, shorty.”

Sonnett lets out a loud laugh at the name, moving to tell Lindsey that she’s going to abandon ‘Miss Kelley’ in favor of ‘Shorty’.

“Anyway,” Tobin drags out. “As I was saying, this is my girlfriend, Christen, and that’s her best friend and co-owner of the shelter, Julie. Chris, Jules, these are the girls. I’m sure you’ll learn some of their names later.”

Julie and Christen send the girls wide smiles, each saying hello. 

“We really appreciate you girls coming to help us today. I can’t tell you how much it means, but I promise I’ll sneak a pizza or something in after a practice sometime,” she whispers the last part to them as if Tobin can’t hear her, winking at the girls and receiving cheers and laughs in response.

“Toby, I love her already!”

“Sonnett. Shut. Up ,” Tobin grits through her teeth, eyes wide and warning.

“Toby?” Christen giggles quietly to her, smiling adoringly at the blush that coats her girlfriend’s cheeks. “That’s cute.”

“They don’t- they don’t call me that.”

“Alrighty then, Toby,” Christen chuckles, placing a quick kiss on Tobin’s cheek. Her eyes widen when she hears a series of quiet ‘aw’s, laughing to herself at the looks on the girls’ faces and the red on Tobin’s face and ears. 

“Oh-kay!” Tobin exclaims, embarrassment obviously getting to her. “What can we do to help?”

“Oh!” Christen claps her hands together in realization, “First, I’ve got shirts for everyone!”

Tobin is making her rounds refilling the dogs’ water bowls when she feels a hand on her hip and another on the small of her back. Soft, gentle lips are on her own before she can even get a word out. 

“Well, hello to you too, Chris,” she chuckles. “What was that for?”

“Just really thankful for you, is all.” Christen smooths her hand up and down Tobin’s back, raking her nails there lightly the way Tobin loves when they’re cuddled up on the couch or in bed. 

Their eyes meet and they share soft smiles before Tobin is breaking the gaze to work again.

“Baby.”

“Hm?” Tobin hums.

“Please go eat something.”

Tobin turns to see Christen with a pleading, and ironically, puppy dog face. 

“Chris, I’m fine,” she gives her girlfriend a small smile. “It’s pretty busy right now and there’s only like a couple hours before this ends. I’ll just eat then.” 

“No,” Christen shakes her head, taking the water from Tobin’s hands. “I got this. You’ve done more than enough to help me today and the girls have been amazing. All you’ve had is a coffee and a donut, honey. There’s a nice, big turkey sandwhich with your name on it inside.” 

“Chris-”

“Nuh uh. Go,” Christen orders. “Please? For me?” 

Tobin sighs, looking around the event area to see all of the soccer girls doing their jobs with smiles on their faces, laughing with the event-comers who were interested in adopting. Kelley and Zach are playing a game of tug of war with some of the bigger dogs. Lindsey is watching over Miles as instructed by Tobin because, in her words, no one should be trying to take her baby. She even attached a note to his leash that said ‘Sorry, not up for adoption! Just visiting!’ in case anyone got any ideas. 

“Okay. I’ll be quick. Do you need anything when I come back?”

Christen rolls her eyes lightheartedly, placing a quick kiss on Tobin’s lips and shoving her in the direction of the shelter. “Just that sandwich in your stomach and some more sunscreen on your face, please.”

“Yes ma’am,” Tobin laughs, allowing herself to be pushed away.

“Thank you, Tobs,” she calls after Tobin as she walks away. “I lo-”

Tobin turns around with a skeptical face, eyebrows knitted adorably and a single head nod as if to ask what Christen was saying. Christen shakes her head, shouting “Take your time,” and smiling, hoping that her cheeks aren’t beet red. She throws a wink Tobin’s way for safe measure before turning and walking away quickly, heart racing and palms sweating. 

She checks in on each of the stations with the soccer girls to distract herself from the fact that she nearly told Tobin she loved her for the first time by shouting it across a parking lot, succeeding when she sees Rose trying to gaurd the bulldog until her parents pick her up and she can covince them to adopt the dog, Sonnett telling Lindsey that the dogs should have different names (“Something like Bagel, or maybe even Waffle,” she says), and Mal trying to shove a pesky Kelley away from tickling her. 

She gets caught up in work for a while, taking one of the dogs on a walk with one of the families interested in adopting, thankfully helping them fill out the paperwork and be on their way with their new fur baby before returning to see Julie pleading to Zach for a new puppy.

She settles herself at a table nearby, letting her shoulders lose some tension as she sees that the event isn’t so busy anymore. Tobin has returned, now with her soccer ball and playing some game with Lindsey and Kelley as Miles chases the ball every time they kick it. 

“Psst.”

Christen’s head turns to see Julie holding one of the smaller dogs, Ziggy, in her arms, her face half buried into his fur and her smile evident. She can’t help but laugh, knowing exactly what just happened between her friend and Zach. “Really, J?”

“Hey! I told you I would convince him! It was just a mtter of which one,” she smirks. “And now little Ziggy boy gets to come home with me and play with Koda all the time and annoy Daddy when he gets all my attention…” she trails off, transitioning into some sort of baby voice towards the end of her sentence. 

Christen shakes her head, petting the dog on the head as Julie sits down next to her. She’s silent for a while as Julie plays with Ziggy, watching Tobin play with her own dog as her mouth curls at the corners slightly. Julie looks up after having asked Christen when she wanted to start cleaning up and not recieving an answer. It only takes following Christen’s line of sight to realize exactly why she was ignored.

“Look, I get being in love and all that, but dont go ignoring me, Chrissy.” 

Christen’s head snaps at the L word, her eyes just a little wider than usual. “Huh? Love? I don’t- I didn’t say-” she coughs a little to clear her throat. “Sorry, what did you say before?”

Julie’s eyebrows scruch together, an amused smirk tugging up on her lips. “Why are you being weird?”

“I’m not being weird!”

“Yes. You are.”

“I didn’t even do anything!”

Julie’s eyes squint and there’s no hiding the way her smile takes its full form on her face at this point. “Why did you get all weird when I said you were in love, Christen?” 

Her face turns hot and she tries to look away, but she can’t. “I didn’t.”

Christen.”

She’s quiet for a moment, chewing hard on her lip and bouncing her leg quickly. “I almost told her I love her a little while ago,” she mutters. 

“What was that?”

Christen gives her a hard stare, practically pleading with her eyes not to make her repeat herself. Julie only raises an eyebrow, expecting to hear the statement clearly. 

“A little while ago, when I sent her in to eat her lunch, she was walking away and I almost yelled the L word at her.” 

Julie sucks her lips between her teeth, eyes softening as if trying to hold in her “aw”.

Please don’t tease-”

“Aw, no! Chris, I swear I’m not! I think that’s so sweet, babe. If anything, I’m surprised you haven’t already told her.” 

“I didn’t even realize I felt that way until I almost said it,” Christen explains. “I don’t even know how I caught myself because it really just came spilling out of my mouth without me even registering it.”

Julie’s entire face softens now, her hand reaching out so she can squeeze Christen’s arm. “But you do feel that way? Or was it just a spur of the moment type of thing?”

“Well, I definitely didn’t plan on saying it… but, I don’t know. I think I really do.”

Julie’s face lights up with a smile, Christen’s following suit but with a blush as well. They both know very well that there was no reason for Christen to include an ‘I think’ in her statement.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” Christen laughs, covering her face with her hands. 

“You’re in love, is what’s happening, Chris!” 

“J!” Christen admonishes, laughing despite herself, “Quiet down, yeah?”

“Whoops,” Julie covers her mouth with her hand. “Sorry.”

“Thank you all so much for coming today. I can’t tell you how much Julie and I appreciate and I promise you I will show up with that pizza as soon as I can.”

The girls laugh, letting out ‘whoop’s and other cheers as Tobin pretends to glare at her girlfriend. 

“Hey, Toby. Keep this one. We approve,” Sonnett teases before she and Lindsey get into their car, wagging her eyebrows at her coach and earning a cackle from Kelley and Julie. 

Christen blushes, tucking her face into Tobin’s shoulder to hide herself. 

“Hey, uh, Christen?” Mal calls, earning Christen and Tobin’s attention. “Would you need any more help in the future? I’m still trying to decide what I want to major in but I think volunteering here could be good for my college applications. If you don’t need the help-”

“Oh my gosh, no! Mal, we’d love to have you come in and volunteer if you’d like to!” Christen assures her. “We can always use a little help around here and you were amazing with the dogs today.” 

Mal turns sheepish, mumbling a quiet “Oh, okay. Cool,” and making Tobin chuckle. 

“I’ll have Tobin give you my number in case you have any questions, okay?” 

“Yeah, yeah, of course! Thank you so much.”

“Of course! Thank you, Mal.” Christen gives her a sweet smile, reaching out to rub a comforting hand on her shoulder as she winks.

“Okay, well, I gotta go so I can make it home for dinner before my parents start texting. Thanks again. Bye, Coach. Bye, Christen. It was nice to meet you!” She gives Tobin a fist bump and waves shyly to Christen before rushing over to Lindsey’s car.

“You too, Mal! Hope to see you soon!”

They watch Lindsey’s car drive off, waving goodbye before Christen turns to Tobin with an awed face. “Oh my gosh, I love her! She’s too sweet.”

Tobin laughs at Christen, nodding her head in agreement. “She’s a really good kid.”

“Tobitooo!”

Tobin groans, preparing herself for what she knows is coming: a jumping Kelley for her to catch on her back. Christen moves out of the way at the sight of Kelley running at full force toward them, laughing as Tobin stumbles a few steps forward when Kelley’s body collides with hers. “Next time you do that, I’m not going to catch you.”

“Do it and I quit!” Kelley threatens. Tobin pretends to drop her readily, causing Kelley to yelp and then smack Tobin on the head when she realizes she wasn’t actually going to be dropped. 

Kelley puts Tobin in somewhat of a chokehold of a hug and screams “Bye Toby!”  before jumping down from her back and running over to give Christen a tight hug goodbye as well, smacking a loud kiss on her cheek before doing the same to Julie and jumping in her car. 

“Alright, we’re heading out too,” Julie says, smiling proudly over to Zach who holds Ziggy in his arms. “You good to lock up, Chris?” 

“Yeah, J. I got it,” she smiles, “Have fun with Ziggy and Koda tomorrow.” 

Julie laughs, “Oh, we will. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do tomorrow, love birds!” she calls over her shoulder as she gives them each a hug goodbye. Christen sends her warning eyes, earning another laugh out of the blonde before she’s gone as well and only Christen and Tobin are left to lock up the shelter for the night. 

“You ready to go, love?” Tobin asks, wrapping her arms around Christen’s waist and kissing her forehead sweetly. “I’m thinking you deserve a nice, relaxing bath after all your hard work.”

Christen hums, leaning into Tobin’s lips on her head and wrapping her own arms around her girlfriend. “Does this bath include you?”

Tobin chuckles breathily against Christen’s skin. “If that’s what you want, love.”

Christen’s heart speeds up a little everytime Tobin calls her the pet name, thinking the word is getting to her just a little bit extra in the moment, but she nods nonetheless, saying, “I want.”

“Let’s go get the little booger inside and lock up and then we can head out, yeah?” 

“Gimme a kiss first,” Christen puckers her lips, waiting for Tobin to comply, but when Tobin leans in for a quick peck, Christen keeps her there with a hand at the back of her neck, letting their lips linger before letting her go. “Thank you for everything you do for me.” 

Tobin smiles against her lips, pecking them quickly just once. “Thank you for making sure I have food in my stomach and sun protection on my face.”

Christen laughs, patting Tobin’s butt lightly two times before stepping away from their embrace and grabbing her hand to pull her inside the shelter instead. “Let’s go get the little booger and go home, then.”

 

///

 

Tobin sleeps over at Christen’s that night considering it was the weekend, waking up before her, which is not usual for the couple. However, she had a plan that entailed taking Miles out for a quick drive to the market for the ingredients for their dinner, then stopping by the flower shop down the street to pick up the bouquet she had ordered weeks prior, then hitting their favorite coffee shop for their morning doses of caffiene and some bagels, and hopefully returning before Christen woke up.

It took practically waking up with the sun (considering her girlfriend was an early bird) and crawling carefully out of Christen’s sleeping embrace to make it work, but she managed just fine and was able to keep Miles quiet enough to slip out of the apartment without waking the other girl. 

She left a note saying she’d be back soon with a heart just in case her girlfriend happened to wake before she returned, but thankfully it wasn’t needed because when she walks back into the apartment using the spare key Christen gave her, everything is as silent as she left it, save for the light snores she hears when she approaches the bedroom. 

Tobin smiles to herself at the sight of a sleeping Christen curled around a pillow, hair braided and mouth parted slightly. She sets the flowers, coffees, and bagels down on the nightstand before crawling back into bed, pulling Christen into her arms right away and kissing her forehead gently. 

The sleeping woman snuggles further into Tobin’s chest, her hand finding its way under Tobin’s shirt and onto the bare skin of her back even in her sleep. Tobin lets out a breathy chuckle, kissing from Christen’s cheek down to her neck.

“Wake up, gorgeuous,” she whispers into Christen’s ear, kissing the shell of it lightly. 

Christen buries her head further into Tobin’s neck somehow, muttering incoherent words before leaving her own light kiss to Tobin’s skin under her lips. 

“What was that, love?”

Christen does nothing but let out something between a groan and a hum, making Tobin laugh a little. She finally pulls her face back, eyebrows knitted, eyes fighting to open, and pout potruding. “Why are you laughing at me?” she whines, shoving her face back into Tobin’s neck. 

“Because you’re cute.”

Christen grunts.

“Baby, I brought you coffee and a bagel.”

Christen picks her head up again. “Did you leave?”

Tobin nods. 

“When? How did I not wake up?” Her voice is still so raspy and laced with sleep, Tobin can’t help but smile.

“Why are you asking so many questions when there’s coffee and bagels?” She teases, brushing the stray curls of Christen’s braids back with a gentle hand. 

Christen grins, leaning in to peck Tobin’s lips just barely, conscious of her morning breath. “Thank you, baby. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Tobin smiles back, kissing the corner of Christen’s mouth before sitting up and grabbing the coffee first, handing it over to her girlfriend who takes a sip right away and moans. 

“I also brought you these,” Tobin mumbles, handing Christen the bouquet of flowers she picked up that morning.

Christen looks up at Tobin with a look of pure adoration gracing her face, putting her coffee down to take the flowers gently and cup Tobin’s cheek with her free hand, her thumb making small crescent shapes on her cheek. “I want to kiss you so bad right now but I haven’t brushed my teeth and now I have morning and coffee breath.”

“I love coffee,” Tobin jokes, earning an unamused stare from her girlfriend. Tobin laughs, convering Christen’s hand on her cheek with her own. “I don’t care, Chris.”

“I do,” she pouts. “ You got to brush your teeth this morning.”

Tobin rolls her eyes, taking Christen’s hand and turning her face to kiss the inside of her palm. “Can I have just one before you get up and brush your teeth like I know you will no matter what I say?”

“Tobs,” Christen whines.

“Just one,” Tobin bargains, grinning as she can practically see Christen’s front crumbling. 

Christen huffs. “One,” because I love you .

She leans in to take Tobin’s lips between her own tenderly, trying not to overdo anything before she can get some toothpaste in her mouth. Tobin chases her lips as she pulls away, placing one last peck on her cheek and whispering “Thank you,” on the skin before setting the flowers down and leaving for the restroom. 

Tobin practically collapses fully onto the bed as Christen leaves her, sighing into the pillow that smells so heavily of her girlfriend’s scent. 

Christen is trying to move her way on top of Tobin’s body again when strong hands stop her hips from moving anywhere close. 

“Baby,” Tobin laughs into Christen’s insistent kiss, running her hands up and down Christen’s smooth, bare sides. “You gotta let me go so I can get my apartment ready for later.”

“Nooo,” she whines, “we can just stay here for the rest of the day.”

“I would love nothing more, love, but we need to get up to eat at some point anyway.” 

Christen drops her head to Tobin’s shoulder, finally giving up. “I don’t want you to go.”

“But then I can’t give you the rest of what I have planned and you can’t show me what you had planned.”

Christen stares at her with a blank face, wanting to find some way of arguing the point but failing to find any reason. “Can I just have two more minutes?” 

Tobin laughs audibly, kissing Christen’s jaw just below her ear. “Two,” she agrees, “and no funny business.”

“You’re no fun.”

Tobin kisses her silent for two more minutes. 

“What do you think, Miles? You think Chris will like this?” She drops a small bit of cubed steak to him, one that wasn’t heavily coated in seasoning or oil, smiling when he licks the ground for remnants even after the meat is in his stomach.

“I hope she will,” she mutters to herself, turning the burner off and grabbing a treat for Miles to chew on as she finishes getting ready. 

She checks the living rooms set up, fluffling the pillows on the ground a few more times, checking the battieries in the string lights for power, and wiping down the coffee table on more time before heading to her bedroom to change. She throws on pants and her button down now that the food is finished, cuffing the pants just above her ankles and the sleeves to just below her elbows to the best of her ability before checking herself in the mirror. 

She’s rummaging through her closet for her shoes when the blare of a siren causes her to bang her head on the shelf above her and Miles begins barking and crying at the loud sound. 

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” 

She walks out to the living room to comfort Miles and get him on his leash when her heart nearly stops. 

Her entire kitchen and living room are nearly filled with smoke, the food on the stove is burnt, and Miles is shaking in his bed, whimpering as the noise of the siren continues. 

“No, no, no, no…”

She runs to shut the stove off right away before walking to Miles carefully, petting his head before collecting him in her arms and practically running for her phone to call Christen. The line rings until it doesn’t and her girlfriend’s sweet voice is asking her to leave a message and then there’s a beep. She hangs up in a hurry, not bothering to leave a message and hoping that Christen makes it down the nine flights of stairs like she always does. 

There’s not much reason to panic. There’s no fire. Only smoke.

But her poor dog is crying and trembling in her arms and her entire plan for her girlfriend is likely ruined because she fucking forgot to turn the other burner off.

“It’s okay, bud. I got you,” she coos into Miles’ fur as she makes her way out of her apartment quickly, heading straight for the stairs. 

She looks for Christen as soon as she’s out of the building but realizes she’ll have to watch the doors because her girlfriend has a longer trip down than she does. 

Miles is still shaken, whimpering every now and again in her arms as she sits them down on the curb to hold him closer. “I’m so sorry, bud.”

“Tobs? Oh my gosh, baby, are you guys okay?” Christen rushes over to them, crouching down and pulling Tobin’s face into her hands. “It seemed to be coming from your floor.”

Tobin closes her eyes, sighing and clutching Miles a little closer to her chest. “It was. I was just- I didn’t-” A tear escapes her eye and she chokes on her words.

Christen’s worried eyes scan her face as she shushes her gently, rubbing her thumbs lovingly along her cheekbones and asking her to take a second to breathe.

“Talk to me, my love. What happened?” She asks after a minute. Tobin doesn’t register the new term of endearment Christen uses.

“I was just trying to cook us a nice dinner... I went to change but I guess I forgot- I forgot to turn the second burner on the stove off and it-” Her words get caught in her throat again. She looks down at her dog, his face tucked into her elbow and his body just beginning to calm down. “He was so scared and I didn’t mean it.”

“Oh, baby,” Christen whispers, pulling Tobin in for a hug, sandwiching the dog between them. “It’s okay. He’s okay and you’re okay and I’m okay. It was just an accident, okay?” She speaks softly into Tobin’s ear. 

Tobin nods against her after a second, sniffling just a bit before leaning down to kiss Miles’ head. 

They sit in silence for a bit, both giving Miles soothing rubs and watching the firefighters arrive and move into the building before Christen starts laughing breathily next to Tobin. 

“I’m sorry,” she says when Tobin turns to her in utter confusement and astonishment about how she found the situation funny. “It’s just… Baby, this is exactly how we met.”

Tobin lets out a heavy exhale, letting herself find the situation funny for a moment too before hanging her head in embarrassment. Christen leans in to kiss her temple right away, her lips lingering there as they both laugh the situation off. 

“We just keep ending up right back here, don’t we?” Tobin laughs. 

Christen nods, giggling and adding, “Now you’re just gonna have a big fat fine attached to this memory. But it will all be okay, love.” 

Tobin groans, burying her head into Christen’s shoulder for a few moments and pulling back to let herself admire her girlfriend’s appearance for the first time that afternoon. 

Christen’s makeup is flawless; her hair is in it’s natural curls just how Tobin loves, half of it up in a ponytail and the other half resting against her shoulders; her body is graced with a floral patterned, flowy, long dress; her eyes are greener than they’ve ever been. 

“You look pretty,” she says softly.

Christen smiles, tucking a piece of hair behind Tobin’s ear and replying, “You look prettier.” 

They were allowed back inside after Tobin was handed a notice and a fine. Christen told Tobin not to worry about going back to her apartment right then, giving her the keys to her car and assuring her that she would be right down.

When she exited the doors of their building this time, she was holding two large canvases and a tote bag with a bottle of wine peeking out of the top. Tobin smiled to herself in the car at the sight of her girlfriend, whispering something along the lines of “She’s perfect, isn’t she?” to her dog before Christen greeted her with a kiss in the car. 

They end up at a park just before sunset, laid down on a blanket with another blanket covering them, an empty box of pizza on the grass beside them, canvases painted and paint brushes in cups, wine half gone as they sip it straight from the bottle, Miles sleeping at their feet, and the world quiet around them. 

Christen’s fingers run through Tobin’s hair and Tobin places sweet kisses on her cardigan covered shoulder. 

“Thank you for all this, Chris. I’m sorry tonight didn’t go as planned.”

Christen kisses her neck. “Don’t be for a second. I didn’t care what we did as long as I was with you.”

Tobin snorts. “Cheese ball,” she teases, mood lighter than a few hours prior. 

Christen laughs with her, placing another kiss to her cheek. She whispers her next words against Tobin’s ear, kissing just beside it after they leave her mouth.

“Just love you that much.”

Tobin’s heart skips a beat, and she meets Christen’s eyes with her own as soon as it starts pumping again. 

“Chris-”

“You don’t have to say-”

“I love you too,” she declares. “That much.”

Christen lets out a quiet laugh, her face splitting into two from her smile. 

She kisses Tobin fully, gently, lovingly, laughing into her mouth when Tobin pulls their extra blanket above their heads.

“My love.”