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Sweet Dreams Turn Into...

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Tobin is lost in a painting in her studio with the music up loud, the way she likes it when she’s working, when she catches her phone lighting up on her desk out of the corner of her eyes. 


When she sees the name and contact photo, she pauses the music and answers her call.


She’d spoken to the woman a few hours ago after her game, a tough loss on the road.


But she hasn’t heard from her since she was leaving the stadium headed back to the team hotel. 


Tobin assumed she had fallen asleep or something, it's happened a couple times before, after particularly rough games.


She answers with a confused smile on her face, it’s after midnight now.


“Hey gorgeous—”


“Open your front door,” she’s cut off by a somewhat out of breath Christen. 


The call disconnects before she can ask further questions, but she can hear the strain and urgency in the voice on the other line. So despite her further confusion she’s already abandoning her brushes and moving toward the front of her apartment. 


When she swings open her front door, Tobin barely has time to lower the phone that’s still held up to her ear before Christen is throwing her arms around her neck and crashing their lips together. 


Tobin stumbles back at first from the force of it all, but she only hesitates for a moment before kissing her back.


When Christen comes up for air, Tobin pulls back to take her in.


She’s dressed in cozy Nike gear and sneakers, hair still in the two braids she’d worn for the game. 


“You’re still supposed to be in Seattle?”


“I couldn’t wait until tomorrow.”


“Did you drive here?” Tobin asks with her eyebrows raised. 


“I rented a car after the game and chugged a red bull on the way”.


That’s when Tobin notices the pure, unmistakable exhaustion on Christen’s face. And the redness in her eyes.


Tobin knows it isn’t just physical tiredness from tonight’s game.




“I wanted to see you”, Christen cuts her off again. “I needed to see you,” she mumbles a little softer. 


Tobin just nods before stepping around her to wheel in Christen’s small carry-on bag that's still sitting in the hallway outside the loft. 


She closes and secures the door behind them with one hand, all while never letting go of Christen’s with the other. 


They eventually find themselves curled together on the couch, and Tobin knows from experience not to bring up the game.


Christen will talk about it if and when she’s ready.


And as much as she’s dying to know why Christen couldn’t wait the approximately 18 hours until her scheduled flight the next afternoon and elected to drive to Portland (alone) well into the night, she also knows now isn’t the time to push it.


Instead, she holds her girlfriend in her arms and kisses the top of her head, breathing in the subtle scent of the shampoo Christen likes to use when she’s traveling.


Tobin decides to be grateful for the extra hours they now have together. 


She’s here. That’s all that matters.


Things have gotten more serious between them the last several months. More intense. 


The ‘I miss yous’ more fervent, the time between visits dragging on more painful than it seemed to before .


Before meaning, before the first time they said “I love you” to each other. 


Christen is the one to finally break the silence as she plays with Tobin’s fingers that are currently threaded between her own. 


She scratches at a little bit of paint that's dried on Tobin’s thumb that she hasn’t had the chance to wash off yet, “what are you working on tonight?”


She angles her head back to look at Tobin when she doesn’t answer right away, and then leans up to quickly press her lips to Tobin’s as if she simply can’t resist. 


She’s given Christen a couple of paintings before, a few from her portfolio in college that Christen liked.


Back when Tobin was the quiet but charming art student working on her senior project, that somehow got soccer superstar and university darling Christen Press’ attention at a party. 


They dated until Christen graduated 2 years later. Until their very different careers lead them to very different lifestyles, and most importantly different corners of the world. 


Their paths crossed again some years later completely by chance, at a bar in New York City. 


Tobin in town for a gallery opening exhibiting some of her work, Christen for media and sponsorship meetings. 


The night ended in Tobin’s hotel room (it was the closer of the two to the bar), and with an exchange of numbers and a slow kiss goodbye. 


After a couple months of never ending text threads that became phone calls that turned into falling asleep together on FaceTime, Tobin booked a flight to catch one of Christen’s games. 


Now Christen has a toothbrush and designated drawer in her apartment, and Tobin has earned more airline miles than she knows what to do with as they squeeze in time together whenever they can.


Tobin is happy, happier than she’s maybe ever been and she’s absolutely beyond thrilled that Christen is here right now. 


But she’s also caught off guard, and the painting she’d been working on is not quite ready. 


Tobin smiles down at her girlfriend and briefly considers keeping it a secret a little longer.


But Christen Press is looking at her softly, waiting, and Tobin Heath has never been anything if not powerless to those eyes.


“It’s actually something for you,” Christen’s eyes light up brightly as Tobin continues, “it was supposed to be a surprise when you got here tomorrow so it’s not completely finished and has to dry.” 


Christen bites her lip before she leans back up and kisses Tobin again.


This time a little slower. This time a little deeper. 


“Can I see it?”, she whispers, smiling against Tobin’s lips.


She’s already smiling back because they both already know Tobin’s answer, and Christen stands up and practically pulls Tobin to her studio. 


Tobin lets go of her hands and hangs back in the doorway as she gives her girl a moment to observe the painting on the easel in the center of the room.  


It’s them. 


Splayed across the canvas in bursts of pinks and purples and oranges, hidden in the vibrant colors, Tobin has painted an abstract portrait of the two of them.


She’s poured her heart into this painting, and her heart soars with something like both pride and relief when she hears Christen’s gasp.


But Tobin knows from the way Christen freezes in front of the painting that she recognizes the reference photo Tobin has depicted.


It’s a Polaroid Christen snapped of them tangled in the sheets here in Tobin’s apartment, after a few weeks apart and a few rounds getting reacquainted with each other’s bodies. 


Christen found the classic camera on Tobin’s dresser and decided it would be fun and sweet to have a mini photo shoot. 


But there’s one photo in particular— 


Christen lost control of the shutter and slipped as Tobin latched on to sucked softly at her neck.


The resulting shot was a rather salacious close up that cut their full faces out of the frame, but somehow perfectly captured where Tobin’s mouth met the underside of Christen’s jaw.


It was just blurry enough to be artsy but still sexy, and if anyone else saw it they probably wouldn’t recognize the subjects. 


They spent 15 minutes arguing over who got to keep the picture, until Christen kissed her so hard she finally gave in.


Christen had no idea she snuck a picture of it with her phone, and now months later has used it as reference as a gift for her. 


She finally moves further into the studio and closer to her girlfriend when she just continues to stand there frozen.


“What do you think?” She finally asks softly, inexplicably nervous and self conscious. 


Christen reaches up to dab at a tear threatening to fall, and that might be all the validation Tobin has ever needed.  


When she finally turns to look at her, Christen’s eyes are glossy but so pretty, her smile a little bit wobbly, and then she says something Tobin absolutely does not expect. 


“I’m really glad I drove down here tonight.”


She closes the distance between them then in one stride and throws her arms up around Tobin’s shoulders. 


She buries her face into Tobin’s neck and clings to her so tight Tobin struggles to breath.


“I wanted to paint something for you to hang in your place in LA. Something to make you think of me when you miss me” Tobin says with a cheeky smile when Christen steps back to look at her face. 


“I always miss you,” Christen replies. It’s immediate and sure. Stated simply as fact, and said with a force that lets Tobin know she must mean it. 


She tucks back into Tobin’s neck though before she can respond, “I hope you know it’s going up in the bedroom.” This time her tone is teasing, and Tobin smiles to herself because that’s exactly where she pictured it hanging when she first conceptualized the idea. 


“It’s amazing Tobin, thank you.” And now her voice is filled with nothing but another emotion and it's one Tobin’s still getting used to.


Christen pulls back and a moment later they’re kissing again, and Tobin gets lost in the euphoria that is her girlfriends’ lips. 


Christen slowly trails one hand down over Tobin’s collarbone, all the way down her chest and to her firm stomach. 


Tobin tightens her grip around Christen’s waist, and then slides both hands a little further down. 


Not quite on Christen’s ass, but definitely resting dangerously low enough that she’d only try this is private. 


When Christen glides her hand back up Tobin’s stomach, she drags the fabric of her paint stained t-shirt with it. 


Tobin swears this woman’s touch alone could set her whole body on fire, and she really fucking loves it when Christen gets handsy. 


Somewhere in the back of her now very clouded mind, a small part of her brain is functioning and she has an idea. 


She pulls back from Christen just long enough to say, “ Meet me in the bedroom. I’m gonna grab the camera ,” and then watch the woman’s eyes go dark.




Christen is laying on Tobin’s chest a couple hours and orgasms later, with a hand resting on her hip and softly stroking the skin there.


Tobin’s hand rubs gently down Christen’s back, and every so often she presses her lips softly to the top of her head. 


It’s comfortable, here in each other’s arms. That’s the only word Tobin has. 


And Tobin is an expert at being comfy: the queen of Nike sweatpants, master of the hard chill. 


But she’s never felt comfortable like this before. 


She wonders if Christen feels like she could stay here forever too.


“Do you ever wish you could just run away?” Christen asks into the silence that’s settled over them.


Apparently not.


Tobin tries to swallow down the panic that quickly makes an appearance at the question, Christen’s green eyes now looking up at her curiously. 


“Um, what exactly do you mean babe?”, she decides to play it safe before jumping to any conclusions. 


“I mean…”, Christen bites her lip and seemingly struggles over her words for a moment, as if she has to be extra careful about what she says.


“Sometimes I just want to disappear. Just for a little while, get away from the media and my trainers and coaches and the pressure and just…everything and everyone ya know?”


‘Even me?’ almost escapes out before Tobin can stop it.


“Sounds like you need a good vacation,” is what she says instead.


“Ugh yes please! As soon as the season is over, do you have any ideas?” 


“Why would any of my ideas or input matter?” Tobin tries and thinks she fails to keep the bite out of her voice.


So she’s a little bit stung that her girlfriend basically just told her she wants to get away from her. 


Now Christen is looking at her strangely, skeptically, like she’s trying to determine if Tobin is joking or not. 


“Umm, because if we’re going on vacation I assumed you’d want some say on where we go?” Christen answers slowly, and then her confusion slowly morphs into a smile as she seems to catch on to Tobin’s assumptions. 


 “ Did you think when I said I wanted to get away, that I could ever possibly in any universe mean that I wanted to get away from you?” 


She leans up and grabs Tobin’s face softly between her hands.


Tobin is forced to look right into her eyes, and all she can do is blush and stammer out, “well...I said everyone and... I didn’t want to like, assume--” 


Christen cuts her off with a kiss that leaves them both a little breathless when she finally pulls back. 


She lowers one hand down from Tobin’s face but keeps the other softly on her jaw as Tobin takes her time opening her eyes.


When she does, her breath hitches in her throat. 


Christen’s own eyes are so clear and green and beautiful, she has to lean back in and kiss her again. 


Christen smiles but then her face turns more serious, and Tobin knows it means she has something important to say.


“Tobin, I meant it when I said I always miss you. You might be the first thing in my life I’ve ever missed more than soccer. And to be honest it’s just sort of been messing me up. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the game. I always will. But lately I just feel like…”, she hesitates over her next words.


“I feel like my priorities are changing, or have changed. I don’t know. I just think I need a break, to escape it all for a bit. And when I think about getting away, you’re right there by my side. I daydream about getting away with you Tobin.”


That last part swells something warm in Tobin’s chest, but it’s outweighed by the urge to cure the sadness in Christen’s voice.


Tobin knows athletes can experience burnout, but this feels like something different, something more, that’s been eating at her, and Tobin’s mind races to come up with a way to ease the furrow still in her girlfriend’s brow. 


“I have an idea,” she says suddenly, speaking before the thought is even completely formed. 


Christen’s confusion is clear on her face, but she looks at Tobin and waits for her to explain.


Tobin points to the window above the headrest of the bed, “pick a star. Any star, the brightest one. And close your eyes and imagine the most perfect beautiful planet you can think of. Your perfect utopian world.”


It’s a silly and ridiculous idea, but Tobin thinks that precisely why it gets a smile out of Christen in the dark of the room, and she leans up to look out the window excitedly like a puppy. Once she's apparently made her star selection, she slides back down next to Tobin and squeezes her eyes shut.


“Now tell me about it Chris.”


Christen opens her eyes to give a few disclaimers, “obviously on my planet there's no war or violence or bigotry and everyone lives in peace.” 


Obviously ” Tobin laughs lightly because of course those are the first and most important things on Christen’s list.


She closes her eyes again as she resumes speaking more softy, wistfully even. 


“Every community and city that people live in is within walking distance of the beach. The temperature is always between 65-85 degrees fahrenheit, and it only rains in the fall for the perfect sweater weather, and it only snows around Christmas time. Football is still the world’s sport. French fries are the most popular international cuisine--”


That gets another giggle out of Tobin and Christen pauses to yawn through her own smile before she continues, eyes still closed.


“Women hold all the top positions in government and most businesses, so of course the entire world is prosperous and healthy. The ocean is always clean and warm, and the sunsets are gorgeous every single night.” 


The time her yawn seems to come from deep, and extend all the way down to her toes. And it’s like Tobin can almost see the sleep start to overcome her.


“That sounds like an amazing world babe,” she says softly. 


“Yeah...I think I’d like to go there with you”,  Christen manages before yawning yet again, sinking into the pillow and fading fast. “Goodnight Tobs”.


Her breath evens out before Tobin can even whisper back “sweet dreams Chris.”




Tobin wakes first the next morning. 


It’s only happened a handful of times in all the mornings they’ve spent together, usually a result of Christen flying in from a different time zone.


She takes the opportunity to just look, just watch.


Christen’s breathing is soft and even, and the rhythm of it brings a special kind of calm to Tobin’s spirit this morning. 


She’s not sure how long she just lays there and watches her girlfriend sleep peacefully, early morning light filtering in through the curtains, before her bladder can’t be ignored any longer.


She heads to the kitchen after finishing her business and brushing her teeth in the bathroom.


She grabs two mugs from the cabinet and starts heating water for the french press she knows Christen only bought her so she could use it herself when she comes to visit. 


She uses some of the pre-ground beans roasted at one of their favorite local coffee shops in Portland, knowing that even though they both prefer freshly ground coffee, the sound of the electric grinder might wake Christen up.


She whistles to herself as she moves about the kitchen, conscious of keeping the tune quiet enough that Christen likely can’t hear it in her sleep from the bedroom. 


Half & half and one spoonful of sugar goes into one mug.


A splash of almond milk and no sugar into the other.


Christen is still in season, and Tobin knows how strictly Christen follows her nutrition plans. 


Christen is still fast asleep when Tobin returns to the bedroom, and Tobin convinces herself that the coffee is still hotter than Christen likes to drink it anyway, she can watch her sleep a little longer. 


Tobin on the other hand, can gulp down piping hot coffee black practically the instant it finishes brewing if need be. A trait she developed during her early days trying to make it as an artist, when inspiration hit at odd hours of the night and Tobin didn’t want to lose momentum.


She would work for days on end sometimes, fueled by caffeine and that desperate need inside of her to create.


Tobin’s grown as an artist since then, calmed down a little. Found her footing and her style.


And she’s certainly much more disciplined. 


She still stays up later than many and often tends to sleep until almost afternoon, but comparatively speaking her schedule is much more civilized now. 


Christen is definitely usually the early riser out of the two however. 


And whether Tobin is crawling into bed hours after Christen has already fallen asleep, or they fall asleep tangled together after sex, she almost always passes out basically as soon as she relaxes into the pillow.


She’s so rarely up before Christen that right now she really can’t bear to disturb the moment and wake her.


Tobin continues to sip her coffee as she sits up against the pillows, head turned slightly to the side as she takes in the woman in her sheets.


My own personal angel. 


She wonders what is it that has Christen so tired, normally never one to sleep in no matter what time she’s fallen asleep the night before. 


She assumes whatever it is, it's the same reason Christen ended up knocking on her door unexpectedly last night.


She doesn’t get much time for her curious thoughts to form any suspicions however, because Christen’s nose starts to twitch, and Tobin subconsciously holds her breath.


For a moment, she thinks it's working, if she doesn’t move a muscle, Christen will slip back into her deep slumber.


Her efforts are futile though, because not fifteen seconds later and her nose twitches even harder, and Tobin is absolutely powerless to stop the waking from happening and the swelling in heart as she watches. 


Watches as Christen’s breathing changes, and her brow starts to furrow adorably. 


She watches as Christen squints against the light even before she opens her eyes.


She rolls partly onto her back while she brings a fist up to rub at them. 


Tobin refuses to miss the moment, afraid to even blink.


She wonders if Christen is even aware of Tobin’s presence in the bed, but the question is quickly answered when she burrows down into Tobin’s side with a yawn. 


She tucks her nose right into Tobin’s ribs and throws an arm over her torso. 


She mutters something into the sheets, or maybe she’s just making unintelligible noises, Tobin can’t really be sure. 


But either way it's the cutest thing Tobin swears she’s ever seen and now the feeling in her chest threatens to burst right through. 


Tobin moves her mug to one hand, and uses the other to wrap around and stroke the part of her back she’s able to reach. 


She takes another slow careful sip of her coffee as they continue to just lay in comfortable silence.


Until Christen again repeats her mumbling into Tobin’s side, and it makes her softly chuckle this time.


“What was that love?” She coos softly above her. 


Christen just digs her nose deeper into Tobin’s ribs, but doesn’t say anything else. 


Tobin smiles and takes yet another sip of from her mug, before she tries to gently coax Christen again. 


“You okay down there sleepyhead?”

She pulls back and yawns again, and Tobin knows it's coming but still she isn’t ready for the moment Christe finally, finally opens her eyes. 


She’s looked into those eyes so many times before and likes to consider herself an expert. 


But first thing in the morning, all sleepy and lazy and bright


This is something else entirely.


The smile forms on her face automatically and she fears her heart might actually shoot up out of her throat, so she swallows the overwhelming feeling down with a slightly too large gulp of hot coffee.


When she gathers herself again to look back down, she’s met with Christen pouting. 


A small laugh bursts out of Tobin at the sight, and it only makes Christen pout harder.


“Good morning gorgeous” Tobin whispers, and just like that the pout melts away. 


“Good morning” she croaks back in her raspy vocal chords not awake yet voice, and Tobin probably shouldn’t find it as sexy as she does. 


She suddenly understands the appeal of morning sex. 


But Christen starts pouting again, and her beautiful green eyes fixate on the cup in Tobin’s hand. 


Tobin decides to have a little fun and very slow and very deliberately brings the mug to her lips. 


Christen’s eyes track her movement the whole way, and Tobin almost kinda sorta feels guilty. 


But her girlfriend’s tired morning eyes have her under some sort of charm and she also feels giddy. 


“Are you always this fucking cute when you wake up? Is this what I’ve been missing out on?” Tobin says with a cheeky smile, and Christen rolls her eyes.


But she’s fighting a smile as she finally starts to sit up, and Tobin can’t help but lean over and kiss her as soon as her lips are within reach. 


She keeps their lips connected as Christen fully pushes herself up, and doesn’t care to stop when Christen tries to mutter “I have morning breath” against her lips. 


She balances her mug in one hand and brings the other up to Christen’s jaw line, holding her there to kiss her even harder. 


They’re both in daze when finally pulling apart for air, and Christen drags her tongue slowly across her own bottom lip and Tobin watches the movement with hooded eyes. 


“Mmm, and you have coffee breath” Christen whispers into the space between them, before leaning back in to quickly kiss her again. 


“And I’m going to be really upset if you spill hot coffee on me before I even get a sip.”


Tobin moves the mug out of reach, “Um this is my coffee” she says as seriously as she can manage. 


But the flash of disappointment across Christen’s face is enough to nearly break Tobin’s heart.


And she doesn’t even try to keep up the charade any longer.


She sets her own mug on the bedside table so she can hand Christen the one she’s prepared for her.


Christen reaches for the mug like it contains nectar from the gods and she quickly turns back for her own mug again because the look on Christen’s face might be too much. 


She steadies herself with another slow sip, and she watches out of the corner of her eye as Christen mimics her movements. 


“This is perfect Tobin, thank you.”


“Of course babe, I should know by now how you like your coffee”.


“Yeah but still. A girl could really get used to waking up like this.” 


They both laugh, because they both know it will probably be a long while before Tobin ever wakes up first again. 


They spend a few more moments just sitting close and sipping from their individual mugs.


Until Christen breaks with a soft, more sincere, more serious, “thank you Tobin.”


“It’s just coffee babe.”


“I don’t just mean for the coffee.” 


Tobin just nods her head and stays quiet, not really sure what to say to that. 


“Do you want to talk about it?” Tobin settles on just outright asking. 


“It’s stuff. It’s been a long intense year and there’s been a few moments where—“, she cuts herself off, unsure if she wants to or perhaps how to continue. 


But she eventually does. “For the first time in my career, there have been moments where I’ve questioned if it’s all still worth it. And I guess the question just scares me more than I expected.”


Tobin seems to sense that Christen still has more to say so she stays quiet. 


“You really scare me too…” 


The confession sucks the breath from Tobin’s lungs. 


“I scare you?”


“Absolutely terrify me,” Christen nods, finally looking into Tobin’s eyes again. “You always have. Sometimes I feel so fucking much for you I don’t even know what to do. I miss you so much sometimes that my bones physically ache and I don’t know how long I can keep doing this.” 


And that’s really a whopping confession. By the time Christen says the last bit Tobin almost misses it over the sound of her heartbeat now thumping in her ears. 


“Are you breaking up with me” she blurts out trying to fight off her panic and the last thing she expects is for Christen to laugh. 


It's a watery laugh and Christen looks at her fondly as she says, “no you idiot. I’m trying to tell you that I’m ridiculously in love with you. And it’s sort of all consuming.” 


It’s amazing how fast the heat spreads throughout Tobin’s body because, Christen feels it too! 


Her face cracks into a wide grin she can’t contain as Christen wipes a tear from her eye. 


“I love you so much it hurts sometimes Tobin. And I want to be with you always. Or at least be in the same fucking state and not have to coordinate schedules 2-3 weeks in advance.” 


Tobin’s heart somehow both swells and breaks simultaneously, and she can’t for the life of her find any words as she puts together what Christen is really trying to say. 


It’s just soccer stuff. 




“I don’t know how long I can keep playing soccer if it means being away from you” she nearly sobs out. 


Tobin swipes the mug from her hands and sets them both back on the bedside table. 


Then she scoops Christen into her arms and places what she hopes is a comforting kiss on her forehead. 


Luckily it seems to work and Christen’s tears thankfully don’t last long.


“We’ll figure something out babe, you aren’t giving up soccer for me. Or for us or whatever argument you’re going to try and make. You still love it too much and you are too talented and have too many good years left to just walk away.”




“Christen no. You can’t”


Tobin knows Christen still needs soccer like she needs water and air, and there’s no way in hell she's letting her retire early just so they can be closer to each other. 


“Tobin it’s not like I could just ask you to uproot your life and move to LA or something.” 


But well...


“You could.”


Tobin’s career was mostly built in and is based in Portland, but she’s not completely tied down to the city. 




“You could though. Listen babe, Portland is great. But I don’t need to live here to work. LA and Oakland both have killer art communities and really I can do and sell my work from anywhere. A lot of my friends here have spread out over the last few years anyway, and the ones still here I can come back and visit. I bet my family would even visit more often if I lived in California rather than Oregon, and plus I could actually surf at the beach. It’s basically a no lose situation for me. You’re just a bonus at this point”.


Christen has been smiling wider and wider as Tobin lists off the reasons it actually all seems sort of perfect. 


“You’d seriously move to LA for me? For us?”


“Well technically, you haven’t asked me yet.” 


Christen rolls her eyes but then their smiles are pressed together and neither of them are sure who even leaned in first.


“Honestly Chris, I think I’d follow you anywhere,” Tobin says quietly when they separate. 


Christen takes a moment to look at Tobin, before she crashes their lips back together with enough force to press Tobin back into the pillows .


“So we’re moving in together?”


“I still don’t recall you ask—“ Christen silences her smart remark with another deep kiss. 


“Tobin Heath. Will you please move in with me? So I can come home to you after a hard trainings and fall asleep next to you every night. And in the morning I can kiss you awake, and nag you to make the coffee.”


Tobin’s smile is lazy and expectant as she waits for Christen to lean down and kiss her again.


And only after she does, does she finally give her answer.


“Christen Press, I can’t wait to make you coffee every morning.”


Christen smiles her smile that still takes her breath away every time. 


“And just so we’re on the same page, that painting is totally still going up in our bedroom.”


Tobin’s brain can’t help but get caught on one word, and she’s sure the smile on her face is more dopey than smug. 


Our bedroom. I love the way the sounds.” 


“I love you.”


“I love you too Chris. So so much.”

Chapter Text

Tobin is nervous, for a multitude of reasons.


She’s no stranger to spontaneous adventures and even traveling, but this trip is obviously different.


Hastily and giddily planned just the previous night on their now ritual facetime call, after Christen pouted and expressed her impatience at how far away the end of the season is. 


“Well...who says we still have to wait until the end of the season?” 


Tobin pulled up flights to Chicago on her phone and found one that would ideally get her there just in time for the game, while Christen insisted on taking care of the game tickets and hotel reservations. 


“I know the perfect place from when I played here in Chicago, I always booked rooms there whenever friends or family came to visit. I can’t believe I really get to see you tomorrow.” 


But now, as Tobin’s Lyft from the airport pulls up to the stadium with nothing but her oversized backpack (that’s thankfully allowed under this stadium’s bag policy), the weight and implications of this trip, of what it could mean, what they both know it already does, seem to wash over Tobin all at once.


The nerves last until Tobin picks up her ticket from will call and is escorted by an usher to one of the apparently unused press boxes hanging over the completely packed lower level of stadium seating. 


Of course Christen got her an entire box to herself. 


While Tobin always loved going to Christen’s games in college after they started dating, she was easily overwhelmed by the dedicated and rowdy chanting fans that never sat back down after the first whistle. She always preferred to carve out a space high up in the bleachers to observe and really watch the game. 


Well, to watch Christen, if she’s completely honest. 


And this empty box gives her the perfect vantage point to easily pick out the woman as the team finishes warming up before the game starts. 


Christen is focused and disciplined as she moves through their synched team drills, and smiles and high fives her teammates left and right, but Tobin knows that look in her eye. 


She knows tonight’s game will be special. Christen tonight will be special. 


And she’s proven correct when Christen notches an assist followed by a goal of her own creation in the first half, Los Angeles taking a comfortable lead over Chicago. 


Watching Christen play soccer again gives Tobin the same feeling it did back in college, when Tobin went to her first game as “ Christen Press’ girlfriend” and she sat riveted for the entire 90 minutes.


The same feeling she got watching every game thereafter, even the ones she caught on tv years after the break up as she casually followed Christen’s career around the world. 


She’s magic.


And when Christen walks over to take a corner early during the second half and looks right up to the box where Tobin sits and sends her a shy but beaming smile, Tobin feels heat swirling around inside her chest, like someone placed the entire sun right there inside her rib cage. 


The corner leads to yet another assist. 


She gets a text from the indisputable woman of the match almost as soon as the team disappears into the locker room after the game. 


I have to stick around for a bit and do media 🙄 meet me back at the hotel? I gave the front desk your name, can’t wait to see you! 😘

If Tobin thought she was nervous’s nothing compared to the electricity coursing through her now as she waits for Christen back at the hotel room she’s booked for the night, off the hook from having to stay with the rest of the team after the game. 


She busies herself with a quick hot shower and has just finished pouring 2 glasses of the fancy champagne left out in a small ice bucket, hair blow dried but still in just her underwear and sports bra under the fluffy hotel bathrobe, when she hears the heavy duty door lock disengage. 


Her heart shoots up into her throat and nearly falls out to the floor when Christen flings open the door to the room and her eyes dart around wildly until they land on Tobin. 


The smile that spreads across her face makes Tobin’s knees wobble a little, and she barely has time to reset her feet before Christen is clearing the room in what seems like no more than 2 steps and flinging herself into Tobin. 


Tobin’s arms immediately wrap around Christen's waist and hold her in tight, and they bury their faces into each other’s necks. 


Christen pulls back for just long enough to look into Tobin’s eyes briefly, then her hands move to grab Tobin’s jaw on either side and she pulls their lips together into a deep, slow, feel it in the tip of your toes kiss. 


It doesn't take long however for the reunion kiss to grow hungrier, every ounce of want and desire they’ve built up over the last few months of rekindling their relationship from afar now rushing up to the surface. 


Christen’s hands start to wander from Tobin’s cheeks and jaw to her neck, and then slowly down to her shoulders and across her collarbone.


Only then does she register that Tobin is still only dressed in a robe.


She pulls back abruptly, leaving both of them panting to catch their breath after finally coming up for air. 


A shy smile spreads across Tobin’s lips, and it causes Christen to start smiling softly in return.


And for a moment they just stand there in their embrace, smiling at each other like idiots. 


“Hi,” Tobin says gently into the space between them, the first word spoken since Christen entered the room.


“I missed you” Christen whispers in response, as if she couldn't bear to hold the words back a minute longer. 


Tobin shows Christen how much she missed her too by tightening her grip to an all but crushing hold and bringing their mouths back together again.


They don’t do much talking for a while after that.


They’ve already done plenty of talking. In fact all they’ve done since New York is talk. 


They’ve talked extensively over the last few months about their years apart and how they've both grown, and about the ways in which they are still the same. 


And lately, much of their talking has centered around how they feel and what they both want, both now and in the future so there’s really no confusion about where they stand. 

Their bodies start moving easily in sync towards the bed, and the way Christen bites her bottom lip as she pushes Tobin backwards makes her stumble over nothing and they crash down onto the ridiculously soft and large bed ungracefully.


They’re both giggling as Tobin scrambles up the bed and then flips them the moment Christen catches up to hover over her.


The laughing stops then and Tobin completely forgets that Christen played a full 90 literally just a couple of hours ago, and she spends extra time fulfilling a reunion promise to Christen she’d made during one of their more late night conversations. 


They don’t even try to keep track of the hours they spend not talking , preferring rather to show each other exactly how they both feel. 


When Tobin wakes up later, the sun streaming in through the drawn curtains, the first thing she sees is Christen’s gorgeous green eyes, and then her face softening into the most beautiful smile. 


The woman’s head is resting in her hand as she leans over the still (even years later) slow to wake Tobin. Both her leg and other arm are strewn across Tobin’s body, and she wonders how long Christen has been up and watching her. 


“Good morning” she whispers softly, before pressing a quick soft kiss to Tobin’s lips.


She lays her head down on Tobin’s chest then, and they both just enjoy the quiet morning moment. 


Eventually Tobin is awake enough to whisper good morning back and press a kiss to the top of Christen’s head.


That intimate gesture is apparently enough to get Christen to break the silence that's settled over them. 


“How is it possible that it still feels so-- that this feels even more --” she cuts off, and Tobin knows she’s not at all talking about the sex. Tobin knows exactly what she's talking about. 


She knows because it feels that way to her too.


“I don’t know how or why babe. But I feel it too, and it feels right.” 


“I’m really glad we didn't wait until the end of the season,” Christen says as she sits back up to kiss Tobin again.


Their morning breath prevents the kiss from getting too heated, but that doesn’t stop that feeling (that they aren’t quite ready to name yet, still weary of moving too fast) from flowing between them via their lips. 


Everything they’ve been feeling. Maybe everything they’ve always felt. 

“You can stay longer than a week if you want. In Portland. With me. I know you still have to like, train in the off season and stuff and your entire family is in LA... But when the season is over if you want to stay longer than we talked about you can. You can stay as long as you want,” Tobin rushes out without overthinking the offer.


She doesn’t have to think about it, she’s gotten so much better over the years at listening to her heart. 


Christen kisses her. She kisses her because it's the only thing to do when she’s been given a second chance with a woman who’s quite possibly the only one she’s ever truly wanted, and that very same woman is in front of her asking her to stay


“I’d love to spend the off season in Portland with you Tobs.” 


Tobin doesn't know exactly how long the off season is or if Christen even means the entire time, but her heart practically explodes out of her chest regardless just from the way Christen is looking at her. 




Eventually they both get up to brush their teeth and Christen pouts until Tobin agrees to run to a nearby coffee shop while she does some light stretching and yoga as recovery from the previous day’s game.


She didn’t need to pout, Tobin would have gone regardless, but it was so cute that she milked the moment a little longer just so she could kiss the pout right off her lips. 


They drink their coffee and eat the bagels Tobin picked up in bed with their legs intertwined as they discuss how to spend the afternoon and evening in Chicago before they both have to fly back to their real lives the next day. 


They have a hard time reaching any agreements between coffee flavored kisses.


Eventually Tobin suggests they just spend the day together in the hotel room, “We can just order room service and like, binge whatever cheesy movies are available to rent. We can come back and visit Chicago another time, I kinda wanna be selfish today and just enjoy being with you.” 


Christen kisses her even harder then. 


“You know back then, getting hooked on coffee really shoulda been the least of my worries,” Christen says against her lips some time later, they haven’t been able to keep their hands off each other all day. 


“Is that right? Why is that?” Tobin breaths back between more stolen heated kisses. 


“Yeah. Turns out I should have been more worried about getting hooked on you .” 


They barely get out of bed after that until they leave together for Chicago O’Hare the following morning. 


Christen grips her hand tightly right up until her flight boards first, and they both manage to only let a few tears slip as they say goodbye. 


Neither bring up the fact that they’re going to have to get used to this if things are going to work between them now. 


Instead Tobin says “I’ll text you as soon as I land. Call me when you get home?” 


Christen just nods, seemingly not trusting her voice, and leans in for one last soft kiss that somehow still steals the breath right out of Tobin’s lungs. 


When Christen pulls away her smile is sad but her eyes are hopeful, and Tobin holds that feeling close as she watches her disappear down the jetway. 

Chapter Text

The bar is only a couple blocks away from her hotel, that’s the only reason Tobin is even sitting at the bar top alone with a celebratory drink after the gallery earlier that evening. 


Not quite ready to turn in for the night, she’d stopped inside on her way back and ordered a gin & tonic.


After only a few sips of her drink so too soon for it to be from the alcohol, Tobin feels her skin heat up, almost as if her body just knows. 


But still, when someone slides into the space beside Tobin and she hears her name over all the other sounds of the bar, the absolute last person on earth she expects to turn and see next to her is Christen Press. 



Things had already been tense leading up to her graduation, and when Christen told Tobin she just didn’t see how she could continue to commit to their relationship and commit to a full time soccer career and making the national team, Tobin understood and had no choice but to let her go.


The breakup was amicable, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. 


The ‘ maybe one day’ left unspoken but clearly felt between them that night. 


Christen signed a two year contract to play in Sweden and the last time they’d seen each other was the night before she left because Christen couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. 


Tobin had almost managed to convince herself it was the last time she ever would. 


But a teeny tiny part of her also always wondered, hoped… 


What if ‘one day’ actually comes back around.

And now here she is. Smiling at Tobin in a random New York City dive bar and every imaginary scenario that Tobin ever let herself dare daydream goes flying out the window. 


All she can do is smile back in shock. 


“Oh my god it is you! What are you doing here drinking all alone?”


“Uh, I’m in the city, kinda. I guess you’d call it work now. What are you doing here?” Tobin is finally able to reply through her surprise. 


(She also finally remembers to pick up her jaw that was nearly on the floor.)


“Work… kinda…” Christen answers just as vaguely, but the way she’s smiling at Tobin— the details don’t really seem to matter. 

They’re interrupted by the bartender approaching Christen for her order, and Tobin is grateful for just the little moment to breathe. 


Christen orders a round of shots and invites Tobin back with her to her table without hesitation. 


Tobin of course agrees because she has no reason not to, and when has she ever said no to Christen Press


She helps carry the glasses and gets introduced to Christen’s friends , she places a very strong emphasis on the word and Tobin tries not to assign any meaning to it. 


She falls into easy conversation with them because Christen has only ever surrounded herself with good hearted down to earth people, and when one of them jokingly tries to get an embarrassing college story about Christen out of Tobin, Christen gently and playfully smacks Tobin on the upper arm in a playful warning. 


It’s not quite the bicep, not quite the shoulder, and Tobin is momentarily distracted from the conversation around her because she can’t think of a name for the part of her arm that currently feels like it’s on fire. 


Even through the sleeve of her leather jacket, the simple touch is enough to send a flame from the point of contact throughout Tobin’s entire body, and if any one is looking at her now she’s sure they will see her cheeks red and hot. 


It’s the first physical contact they’ve shared in years, and Tobin doesn’t know if her body’s reaction is due to that fact, or because of the familiarity of the gesture (a common, dare she say frequent response from Christen to Tobin’s teasing and goofiness when they were together years ago).  


Another round of drinks gets ordered and the group spends a little more time getting to know each other, Christen and Tobin catching up on the basics of where they’ve been over the last several years. And how they ended up at the same bar in the same city at the same time. 


Once the drinks have been flowing for a while and they’ve gotten Tobin talking about her art and recent travels, one of Christen’s friends asks her a perfectly normal innocent question. 


But in the context of sitting next to Christen Press, the question makes her feel like she’s in the hot seat with Oprah or Barbara Walters. 


“So is there anyone waiting for you back in Portland?” 

Christen coughs suddenly next to her at the question, and Tobin doesn't miss her friend’s not so subtle wink at Christen across the table. 


“Uh, no. There’s no one back in Portland, or anywhere. Not for a while now,” she manages through her embarrassment at being put on the spot, but her cheeks still pink knowing how much her words are actually admitting. 


When she caves and sneaks a peak at Christen out of the corner of her eye, the woman is already looking over at her, and Tobin hides her even deeper blush in another sip of her drink.


After that, Christen touches her two more times on the arm and once on her leg, just above her knee but it’s under the table and lingers longer than the others. 


Part of her still doesn’t want to believe that this is actually happening. Part of her is convinced this is just another one of her dreams. 


Despite some of her more obvious signals, she’s not even positive Christen is also currently single, too afraid of the answer to find a tactful way to confirm for sure. 


So she revels in the contact and the attention, and avoids doing or saying anything that might cut this dream short. 


The bar gets more crowded, gets louder, and the alcohol that's warming Tobin’s belly also has her practically incapable of taking her eyes off Christen. 


She tries to at least look at whoever at the table happens to be speaking at any given moment, but in the end her eyes always find their way back to her. 


How is it possible that she's gotten even more beautiful now? 


Christen’s friends definitely pick up on the air that’s quickly thickening around them, because one of them lets out a yawn that’s so obviously fake and then they’re saying their goodbyes and heading back towards their apartment across the city. 


They are left alone so quickly that Tobin is unprepared, frozen in place. Suddenly unsure of how human arms even work, much less what to do with them. 


She’s finally settled on just gripping both hands around her empty glass on the table, when Christen leans in close to her ear and says “it’s getting pretty loud in here, what do you say we move this little reunion somewhere quieter?” 


Tobin finally turns to look at the woman beside her again, and Christen’s eyes flit down to Tobin’s lips the moment she does. 


Only for a second but Tobin catches it, and all she can do is nod dumbly and follow Christen out of the now packed bar and into the night.


Christen stands close when they finally get outside and walk a little ways down from the entrance that's surrounded by people. 


They’re both pleasantly tipsy, but nowhere near drunk. It makes them warm and loose and smiley


Or at least, it’s easier for Tobin to blame that on the drinks. 


Tobin then realizes that she has no plan, only knows that she's not quite ready for the night to end yet. 


Definitely not ready to say goodbye. 


Apparently, thankfully, she's not alone in this feeling, because Christen looks down the street at what’s in the surrounding area as she says “sooo, I could go for one more drink. But I don’t know New York that well and definitely don’t know any bars that won’t be crowded on a Friday night. Do you know any places?”


Tobin has an idea, knows it's a little bit of a risk, but ultimately feels like tonight is the type of night to take one, so opens the invitation before she can stop herself. 

“I have a fancy bottle of champagne from the gallery owners in my hotel room. It’s literally like right up the street.”


She only realizes the implications of ‘ hotel room’ at the surprised turned coy smile that makes its way over Christen’s face, so she rushes to clarify.


“Just to talk! It’s quiet and there's a little couch and a nice view. And I figured…I don’t know. It’d be nice to be able to catch up a bit more before you jet off tomorrow.” 


Christen looks at the ground at the reminder that she does have an early flight the next day, and they both do have lives to get back to. 


Whatever is happening tonight, there’s no guarantee it would last beyond this. 


Tobin wants to take the best advantage possible. 


Christen is again evidently on the same page, because when she looks back up at Tobin, it’s with a blinding smile but slightly sad eyes, “I happen to love fancy champagne. Lead the way.”




Tobin pours them both a glass and sits on the edge of the bed across from Christen who’s made herself comfy on the small sofa already. 


Now that they are here, alone in Tobin’s nice but tiny, intimate, hotel room, the question she was afraid to ask and get the answer to comes nervously tumbling out so pathetically Tobin cringes at herself.


“You aren’t like...seeing anyone right now are you?” 


Christen softens visibly, rolls her eyes at Tobin, but she’s smiling wide and so pretty as she pats the empty space neck to her beckoning Tobin closer. 


Tobin doesn’t look at her right away, she can’t, not this close.


“Tobin, would I be alone in a hotel room drinking champagne with my college sweetheart if I was seeing anyone else right now?” 


She frames it as a teasing question, but really it's a confession that makes Tobin’s heart flutter and her stomach swoop.


            College sweetheart. 

Not college ex


All of the hope that Tobin has been desperately, futilely, trying to shove back down comes soaring to the surface and all she can do for a moment is smile into her champagne and drink down half the glass. 


Neither of them keep track of the hours as they talk, finishing half the bottle. And they laugh so much and so hard that they both end up in tears.


There are nearly tears over a few deeper things as well, some of the sadder and harder things they’ve both experienced in the years apart. 


They don’t dwell too long on them though, Christen diverting the conversation from the sudden loss of her mother to winning the World Cup and Tobin’s biggest commissions so far. 


At some point, they end up so close together that Christen’s folded knees rest on top of Tobin’s lap across the sofa, and Tobin can make out each shade of green in her eyes. 


She’s completely missed the last thing Christen said, but she zaps back into focus when Christen’s expression grows serious and she (finally) reaches out and grabs Tobin’s hand resting in her lap. 


Tobin’s other arm is already thrown across the back of the couch, not touching Christen but the position bringing their bodies that much closer. 


It’s an almost tangible shift. 


Tobin feels it in the air, definitely feels it in the way Christen is now shyly looking at her over her glass as she takes the final sip of what little remains 


They’re both quiet for a moment, but Tobin can tell Christen is working up to something and waits as patiently as she can. 


“Remember that night at the party, the night we first met?” 


It’s certainly an unexpected question. 


“Of course I remember Chris” Tobin says, and the wistfulness eclipses her confusion at where this could be headed. 


Christen shakes her a head a little, Tobin’s response apparently not getting to the heart of what she is really asking. 


She tries again a bit more in earnest, and perhaps with slightly more urgency too. “Yeah, but do you remember that feeling ?”


Tobin is clearly not following and Christen must read it on her face, because she appears to grow frustrated with herself and begins to try and explain what she means. 


“That ‘ I have no idea what’s happening right now but it feels so good and I think I want more’ feeling? That’s the only way I can describe that feeling that first night, when we sat outside and talked for god knows how long. And it’s the same feeling I have right now, Tobin.” 

Looking at Christen as she confesses this is too much, her eyes too beautiful, the look in them too --


Yet Tobin still can’t tear her own eyes away. 


Her deer in the headlights expression and lack of response must give the woman next to her the completely wrong impression because she starts to stutter and backtrack.


But Tobin can’t stand the distress on her face for even one second and before she can stop herself she’s leaning her body across the small hotel sofa and pressing her lips to Christen’s. 


It catches them both off guard, but it only takes a moment for Tobin to feel Christen’s body relax, and then she feels a soft hand come up to cup her jaw as they both lean into it.


The kiss doesn’t last long, neither of them move to deepen it, but Tobin feels the impact of the kiss throughout every nerve of her body. 


If the way Christen keeps her eyes closed, and the deep breath she takes as they pull apart are any indication, she’s feeling similarly affected. 


Then they both burst into giddy giggles, but ease back into something comfortable again. Albeit much more charged. 


“You know sometimes when I was alone late at night” Tobin starts.


She looks down at where their hands are still linked and plays with Christen’s fingers. 


“I’d allow myself to imagine different scenarios. Allow myself to wonder what would, or could happen if our paths ever crossed again. What I’d do or say, or if you’d even be happy to see me at all.”


Christen is smirking when she looks back up, and it takes all of her will not to launch across the sofa and kiss her again. 


“Was ending up back in your hotel room and kissing me breathless ever one of those imagined scenarios?” She teases.


“Maybe once or twice,” Tobin teases right back. 


And it feels just as easy as ever. 


They laugh together until their laughter fades into smiles, and they smile at each other until it turns into something else. 


Christen takes a deep breath, flashes her eyes up to Tobin’s and then quickly away again. 


Tobin has no idea what Christen is thinking or about to say, but it feels important and so Tobin waits patiently and squeezes Christen's hand gently in encouragement. 

“I love soccer. I've met and played with some of the most amazing people literally all over the world. It’s taken me to some of my highest highs and my lowest lows. I’m so grateful for soccer and I’m not one to live with regrets but—”. 


She forces herself to look up at Tobin, and Tobin doesn’t say let herself wonder (hope) what Christen’s life regrets might be. 


Christen changes course and says something else entirely instead. 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be in love with both soccer and you back then.”


She looks like she’s holding back tears, either from the regret or the relief or just the sheer weight of her apology that now hangs between them after so long. 


Tobin picks up on the meaning in Christen’s words too. 


‘Back then.’ 


The hint that she might be ready now. At least ready to try. 


Tobin reaches out and wipes her thumb at the one tear that threatens to fall, but she hopes the smile on her face tells Christen all she needs to know.


She does kiss her then, soft but full of so much. 


“Chris it’s okay, we don’t have to rehash all that right now. I have things I'm sorry for too, but not tonight okay. Tonight let’s just...It’s been so good to see you again, but you literally have a plane to catch in a few hours. Not to mention are in the middle of your season. Maybe you just call me when you get back to LA. Let’s start with getting to know each other again and see where things go okay?” 


It’s the same easy calm that Tobin had possessed so naturally even in college. The calm Christen had admitted she loved to have around before and on game days, and then eventually just have around all the time. 


“I should go” Christen whispers sadly, and her eyes are screaming she wants to do anything but. 


But it’s for the best, before things progress further. Both physically or emotionally tonight. 


Plus she does in fact have a flight to catch in only a matter of hours, and she hands Tobin her phone before moving to put on her shoes. 


“Put your number in, I lost my phone a few years back and with it all of my contacts.”


Tobin’s chest swells like a crushing teenager at the implication that Christen never actually  intentionally deleted her number.


“I got a new one a while back anyway”, she says to draw attention away from that prospect and saves the art pallet and ‘hang-loose’ hand emojis next to her newly added contact name. 


She joins Christen where she’s just slid her shoes back on at the door, and they both know the time has come where they have to say goodbye. 


“Text me when you land tomorrow, just so I know you made it safely,” Tobin says because she doesn’t really know what else to say.


No other words feel like quite enough.


Tobin doesn't want them to carry too much pressure anyway.


Or too much hope. 


In response Christen doesn’t say anything at all, just wraps her arms tightly around Tobin and buries deep into her chest. 


(And maybe a little bit right back into her heart already, Tobin thinks).


She pulls away and only gives Tobin but a brief glimpse at the wetness forming in her eyes, before she flutters them closed and presses her lips to Tobin’s.


Tobin melts right into the kiss, and they kiss for what’s probably only moments but for all they know could also be hours-- letting themselves get completely lost in everything that’s been built up and been revealed and been promised tonight. Even if most of it unspoken. 


When Christen pulls away abruptly causing Tobin to lean forward slightly chasing her lips, still she doesn’t say anything.


She just pushes her hands against Tobin’s chest as steps back, as if it takes all of her remaining resolve to do so, then she rips open the hotel room down and disappears into the hallway. 


By the time Tobin regains her wits and steps into the hall after her, she barely catches Christen wiping at her eyes before she turns the corner and is gone towards the elevators.


Tobin replays the entire night on a loop and right up until she finally falls into a restless sleep. 


She wakes up in the morning to a text from an unsaved number and her heart jumps into her throat because she knows exactly who it’s from. 


There’s a photo attachment of a classic Starbucks cup held up against the backdrop of what could literally be any airport anywhere, and she feels but can’t stop the dopey smile on her face before she’s even read the accompanying message. 

‘Just so you know, I still 100% blame you for getting me hooked ;)’

Chapter Text

Tobin doesn't want to be at this party.


She only agreed to come to get her (well-meaning but sometimes seriously annoying) roommate to finally stop asking literally every Friday and Saturday and sometimes Thursday night to come out with her just once. 


Said roommate ditched her promptly 5 minutes after they walked through the door into the party, but it still feels like a waste to leave now and walk all the way back to campus. 


So instead Tobin wanders through the packed house alone awkwardly, hoping to run into someone she knows or even just vaguely recognizes from class. 


She comes across a pile of sharpies left out in the kitchen, probably so people could write their names on their cups. 


No one seems to be using them for that purpose however, hundreds of unidentified used red solo cups litter nearly every surface of the house, so Tobin swipes a marker and heads towards the sliding door that leads out back. 


It’s unsurprisingly much quieter out here, the chilly fall air keeping most of the partygoers inside. 


Most of the people outside are spread around huddled in small groups, the unmistakable smells of both cigarette and weed smoke floating all around in a haze. 


Tobin thinks of the joint she stashed in her jacket pocket for tonight just in case, and she knows if she lights it up someone will likely approach and ask to partake.


It’s a great easy way to meet people at parties, Tobin knows from experience.


But this party isn’t really her typical crowd, and being alone in the quiet solitude for a moment is nice. 


So instead she grabs one of the discarded solo cups off the ground and sits on the edge of the back deck with her legs hanging over the edge, off to the side with her back facing the house. 


She’s lost in a doodle of flowers and vines and leaves swirling up from the base of the cup, the lines made bold by the Sharpie yet still delicate by Tobin’s talent. 


She’s focused on her work, but she still notices when a pair of feet appear next to her in her periphery. 


“Hi,” she hears softly from above her. 


She stops drawing to look up, and the absolutely last person she expects to see standing and smiling over her is soccer superstar and the overall darling of the school, Christen Press.


Tobin can’t help but glance around to see if something has happened or someone else she didn’t notice before is now in the vicinity.


But no one else is anywhere near them. And the party continues on inside just as it had before. 


When she looks back up Christen is still smiling but it's faltered a bit, a little more unsure now. 


Tobin realizes how rude her initial reaction must have come across as and cringes internally.


Externally she shakes her head, remembers her manners, and manages to throw on her best smile.


“Hi! I’m sorry I guess I was totally zoned out and kinda forgot where I was.”


It’s more of a white lie really than an excuse, the doodling was a distraction from the party but she definitely hadn’t lost her senses. 


She just can’t really believe that Christen Press is here standing over her. 


Lucky for her though Christen seems to buy it. 


“That’s really cool, you did that just now with only a Sharpie?”, she asks as she pushes her chin out towards the cup in Tobin’s hand. 


Tobin blushes a little but nods her head kindly in response, Sharpie being a pretty simple medium compared to what she normally works with. 


She holds the cup out slightly  to her side, and Christen understands and accepts the unspoken invitation. 


She sits down at the edge of the deck beside Tobin and takes the cup to examine the designs more closely. 


“Wow--” is all she says after spinning the cup around fully at least three times. 


Tobin doesn’t say anything at first, still too nervous in Christen’s presence.


She’s so much prettier up close. 


“You should draw like, professionally!” Christen blurts and is so freaking innocent and adorable that at first Tobin can only laugh. 


Her laugh fades into a more confident smile then, because her art is one area of her life Tobin feels confident in, and that’s the smile Christen sees when she finally looks back up from the cup in her hand. 


Tobin can’t help but notice the way Christen’s cheeks pink and eyes dart down quickly to her mouth. 


“I’m actually an art student. Normally I prefer to paint but I like to draw sometimes too” Tobin tells her, carefully watching Christen’s face. 


People often turn their noses up when Tobin tells them she’s an aspiring artist, or she just as often gets feigned interest and the standard cliche questions. 


But other times, sometimes, their eyes completely light up in genuine intrigue. Even in fascination.


And that’s exactly what happens in Christen’s eyes now. 


Her eyes are so green.


A realization occurs to Tobin then, as she watches the questions form and dance in Christen’s ( gorgeous) eyes. 


There is no else around them, Tobin had been sitting alone and minding her business


Christen approached her.Christen initiated the conversation. She sought Tobin out.  


And that makes something that feels a little bit like hope and possibility and a lot like wonder start to fill up Tobin’s chest. 


She extends her hand out and officially introduces herself, “I’m Tobin by the way,” and notices the way Christen will only look at her in quick glances. 


“Christen,” she replies with a smile so shy and beautiful Tobin has to look away too. 


She spends the next few minutes describing her senior project answering all of Christen’s questions, which are surprisingly thought provoking and insightful. 


She talks about the programs abroad she wants to apply to, but after a gap year so she can work and save up a little more. 


After a while Tobin gets tired of talking about herself and turns the tables on Christen.


Naturally she starts by asking about soccer, and she expects the semi rehearsed answers about falling in love with the sport young and putting in the work to get where she is now. 


Instead she ends up belly laughing at Christen’s animated impersonations of her dad in their backyard or on the sidelines of her games from her earliest playing days.


“Coast to coast!! Speed kills!! Take it all the way!!!”


When their laughter eventually dies down and there’s a lull in between stories, Christen's voice gets a little tighter. 


A little sadder, if Tobin had to find a word. 


“You know sometimes I think the pressure of soccer might actually break me. It can be really hard, and everyone has so many expectations.”


The soft confession certainly takes Tobin by surprise. 


Not so much what Christen is saying, Tobin understands expectations and pressure. 


She’s more surprised that Christen is telling this to her .


“But at the end of every day, after every rough practice or hard loss I just ask myself: are you still in love with soccer? And the answer is always, always yes”.


She’s admitting so much so to someone who is quite literally a stranger, but oddly enough the conversation still feels comfortable. 


It should be too much, or a conversation two party goers would have drunk. 


But Tobin is pretty sure they are both stone cold sober, and she wonders if Christen feels the same tingling in her finger tips.


They steer away from any more of the heavier topics for a while, getting to know each other a bit by covering some of the surface level basics. 


Where are you from? What’s your major? How many siblings do you have? What else do you do besides art/soccer? 


Tobin struggles to fight off her nerves at several different points, and when someone interrupts them to ask if they have a lighter, Tobin is reminded of the joint tucked in her pocket.


She considers asking Christen if she minds if she takes a few puffs, just to try and ease her nerves.


She decides she’d rather stay sober however, rather have her mind clear and level as she tries her best not to fuck up this night. 


Tobin tells the intruder to keep the lighter, hoping it will get him to leave them alone faster. 


When he scampers off already sparking at his cigarette, she looks back over at Christen to see her observing her curiously.


Her eyes seem to be tracking over all of Tobin’s features and it makes her squirm internally, even though she does her absolute best to play it cool on the outside. 


“Are you at this party alone?” Christen finally asks after another drawn out moment of just staring at her. 


The question makes Tobin roll her eyes in annoyance, but it fades quickly because she realizes that Christen might not have even approached her had she not been left alone.


So she covers up the eye roll by turning it into a good natured laugh, maybe with a little bit of gratitude hidden behind it too. 


“I actually came with my roommate just to get her to finally stop nagging me to get out more, but she saw some friends and ditched me as soon as we got here. I didn’t really feel like walking back yet and the air is nice so…” she trails off with a vague wave of her hand, not really having much more of a reason for sticking around despite not knowing anyone here. 


“I saw you walking through the house a few times earlier,” Christen says. 


“You noticed me?” Tobin blurts.


Because as if Christen approaching her outside isn’t enough, the fact that Christen has been aware of her presence AND taken note of her since before Tobin even knew she was there sends her pulse racing to new speeds. 


The small laugh Christen returns is almost too much for Tobin to handle. 


“My friend pointed out your hat, #23 is my number”.


Tobin remembers the black Jordan 23 hat she’d thrown on her barely brushed hair before following her roommate out the door.


She reaches her hand up and touches the brim, just to have something to do for a second other than stare dumbly at Christen. 


Christen for her part is apparently out to give Tobin a heart attack, because that’s exactly what the next words out of her mouth almost do. 


“And I thought you were really cute, so yeah I noticed when you walked by a couple times.”  


Tobin is saved from having to respond by Christen turning her attention to the phone that’s apparently vibrating in her pocket. 


The one sided conversation is pretty quick, but Tobin is easily able to follow along. 


“Hey! yeah sorry I’m outside… No, I'm fine, I just lost track of time… yeah I’ll come find you guys.”


She hangs up and Tobin feels the disappointment set in quickly.


“Sorry that was one of my teammates wondering what happened to me, I guess now I’m the one guilty of ditching my friends.” 


Tobin just nods and forces a smile because she knows her time with Christen is likely nearing its end, and she can’t quickly enough come up with an excuse to draw things out. 


She’s saved once again by Christen however, when the girl turns to her and asks “do you want to come hang out with my friends?” 


“With the soccer team??” Tobin blurts in her surprise.


It makes Christen giggles which in turn makes Tobin’s stomach swoop, and she’s already mentally agreeing before actually even fully processing the question. 


“Yeah, just a few of my friends from the team. They’re cool I promise”. 


So like an enamored puppy, Tobin follows Christen back into the house, into the party, and into the turning heads and stares that always seem to follow Christen on campus and apparently everywhere she goes.


Christen smiles at people and moves through the house with grace, but for a moment Tobin wonders how she really feels about all the attention.


They find Christen’s teammates tucked away in a corner of the party watching the increasingly competitive beer pong tournament currently taking place.

She’s introduced and asked questions and it only takes five minutes for her to feel like she belongs.


She half expects them to only talk about soccer and sports and be totally lost and awkward. But 


Christen’s friends are some of the funniest, most down to earth, open minded people Tobin has met in college outside of her art friends. 

Christen’s friends are cool, and Tobin is certainly enjoying hanging out and getting to know them.


But what she’s enjoying most is no doubt the heat of Christen’s hip and thigh pressed right up against her while they’re squished together in the oversized armchair Christen commandeered as soon as the previous occupant stumbled off to get another drink.


Tobin originally settled for perching on the arm as she listened to one of the other girls tell hilarious stories from away game shenanigans.


But after just a few minutes of Tobin fidgeting and adjusting to try and get comfortable, Christen scooted over without a word and pulled Tobin down into the chair next to her. 


It’s a tight enough fit as it is, but when Tobin starts telling one of her own travel stories from two summers ago, Christen leans into her body each time she laughs. 


It makes nerves and excitement and butterflies swirl in her stomach every time.


Tobin has no idea what’s happening or what this feeling even is, but she knows she doesn’t want it to stop. 

After a while she comes out of her Christen induced spell long enough to realize the party has started to wind down. More people seem to be filing out of the house by the minute and she pulls her phone out to see a few missed texts from her roommate.


One from not too long ago asking where she was, and another from about two minutes later informing Tobin she found a ride to another party with some friends and was leaving.


From the typos and awkward spacing Tobin can tell the girl is probably wasted, so she just rolls her eyes and shoots a text back: 


I’m good, I’ll find a ride back to campus or just walk. Be safe!


When she looks back up, it's to Christen watching her curiously and chewing at her bottom lip. 

Her teammates have disappeared, and a question appears to be on the tip of Christen tongue.


Tobin is lost in her eyes for a moment though, and then distracted again by her mouth and her lip still pulled between her teeth so she misses when Christen asks “Do you want a ride?”


“Huh?” Tobin shakes her head dumbly, just knowing her cheeks are blushing at being busted. 


Christen repeats the question with a more smug smile and twinkle in those eyes now.


Of course Tobin agrees, because why would she choose to walk alone back to campus or pay for an Uber when she's being offered a ride. 


And also because she’d probably say yes to anything Christen asks or suggests tonight. 


God, I’m so screwed.


She follows closely behind as Christen leads the way to a small car parked just down the street, her teammates already inside and waiting. 

Christen slides into the middle seat in the back, and Tobin wipes her sweaty palms on her jeans before climbing in after her. 


The two in the front seat are having a whispered conversation over the soft music coming through the car speakers, and the teammate in the back with them had her head rested against the window and eyes closed before they even got in the car. 


The short ride is surprisingly quiet for a group of friends leaving a party. Granted, they’re all pretty sober and it's late, but still. 

She feels the heat of Christen’s body pressed against hers in the seat next to her in every single cell and nerve that makes contact. 


She’s almost certain she’s going to either combust or melt when Christen yawns and then lays her head on Tobin’s shoulder.


She leaves it there for the last few minutes until they arrive outside Tobin’s dorm and she really shouldn’t be surprised when she climbs out of the car and Christen is right behind her.


“Let me walk you to the door,” she says before Tobin can question anything.


They both ignore the laughing and teasing coming from the front seat and Christen slams the door shut with a pointed glare into the window. 


She follows Tobin all the way into the lobby of the building before she finally stops, causing Tobin to stop and turn back to her.


Christen’s teammates back in the car would have to be incredibly nosey and strain to see them through the lobby windows, and obviously they can’t hear any of their conversation.


But still Christen is visibly nervous for whatever she’s working herself up to say.


Tobin herself is way too nervous to jump in and reassure her, so she waits. 


“So I just uh… wanted to say thank you. For making tonight so fun, usually these parties get pretty boring pretty quick. Ya know with the whole not being able to drink during the season— anyway. But I’m glad I met you tonight Tobin, I had a really good time.” 

“Yeah me too.” It’s such a lame response, Tobin knows it. 


She knows it from the slightly disappointed way Christen looks at the ground and smiles.


Christen who’s been so brave tonight. Made every move. And still lingers around, perhaps hoping Tobin will, giving time for Tobin to—


“Do you maybe want to—” she cuts off when Christen snaps her head up, but her smile is sparkling and her eyes are dazzling and the unbridled hope on her face helps Tobin push forward.

She swallows and takes a deep breath before starting over with more confidence this time. It’s her turn to be brave tonight.


“Do you want to hang out some time? With me?”. She cringes internally at ‘ hang out’, but the question makes a shy smile stretch across Christen’s face as she just nods her head, so Tobin is proud of herself for asking anyway. 


“Cool umm, how do you feel about coffee?” 


Christen scrunches her face up in disgust and Tobin is sure it's one of the cutest things she’s ever seen. 


“I’ve seen what a zombie my dad is without coffee in the mornings, and I swear my older sister turns into a totally different person without it. I don't want to end up like that!” 


Tobin can’t help the laugh that bubbles up, and before they know it they’re both in a fit of giggles that’s only interrupted by two quick honks from the car still waiting out in front of the dorm.


They’d all but completely forgotten Christen’s teammates are still waiting on her, and now the moment feels rushed.


“Give me your phone” Christen requests softly, and Tobin doesn’t question her at all as she rips it from her pocket.


She’s done nothing but follow Christen all night, in one way or another.


Christen taps at the screen for a moment before she hands it back. 


“There, now you have my number”. 


They both know the clock is ticking on their night, and Tobin feels her bravery quickly running out as she puts her phone back in her pocket and tries to come up with an alternate ‘ hang out’ plan.


Thankfully Christen is much braver than she.


“Alright then mysterious artist Tobin, show me what all the fuss about coffee is.” 


She presses a quick kiss to Tobin’s cheek and then turns around to the door.


She turns back and says something with a cheeky smile and what Tobin thinks is supposed to be a wink before she finally pushes through the door and back out to her friend's car. 


Something it takes Tobin a while to fully process, still standing there beaming like an idiot with her cheek on fire from where Christen had pressed her lips.

“Just know that if I end up hooked, I’m absolutely going to blame you forever.”