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Falling in love with your friend is the best worst thing ever

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     By the next morning, Kelley feels a little better. She’d gotten a good night’s rest (after crying herself to sleep) and is ready to make amends with Sonnett. She’s even got a three-part plan of how to win Emily back.

     Part one, apologize. Grovel even if that’s what it takes. Emily is worth having to beg a little for forgiveness. Part two, explain what she’s been thinking. Admit to Emily how lonely she’s been in Utah without her and how Sarah has been kinda filling that void. Also, try to figure out how she’d gotten it stuck in her head that Sonnett and Foord were an item. Now that Emily has so violently rebuked the notion, Kelley thinks maybe she’d been a little off base with her assumptions. Part three, well Kelley’s not sure what part three is yet. Kiss and make up? Not literally! Just figuratively of course.

     Kelley’s up and out of the hotel early. She’s on a mission. She’s going to find the most badass apology gift ever. Something that will hopefully calm Emily’s ire enough that the younger woman will give Kelley the chance to explain herself.

     Not bothering with one of the team vans, Kelley sets out on foot. The hotel’s not too far from some artsy shops and Kelley wants to walk. She thinks better in motion. Part of the problem with being in Utah is that she’d gotten almost stagnant. No more!

     It’s early enough that stores are still mostly closed so Kelley stops at a little café for breakfast. Their coffee’s average at best but it’s got caffeine and it’s hot so she’s not going to complain. While she eats, Kelley distractedly looks through her phone, making sure that Emily hadn’t tried to contact her in any way. It’s been total radio silence since yesterday’s locker room blow up. Kelley had wanted to try and confront Emily last night but luckily Alex’s cooler head had prevailed. The striker was probably right to force Kelley to think before rushing in.

     Once done with breakfast, Kelley ducks in and out of the winter sunshine, looking through various stores for anything that screams Sonnett. She wants to find something perfect. Something that says ‘I’m sorry’ but is also something Emily will cherish.

     Kelley’s eyes linger over jewelry, trying to picture how Emily would look wearing different pieces. Rings in particular attract her attention but she forces herself away from that folly. Chains of different weights also draw her in. Kelley think’s that some sort of necklace would look really good around Emily’s elegant but strong throat. Something simple and not too flashy. For all that Emily acts outgoing and boisterous, Kelley doesn’t think she’d really want to wear something too eye catching.

     Eventually, Kelley stumbles upon a thin gold chain with a simple bar as a pendent. She thinks it’s just the right length to settle right at the level of Emily’s collar bones. It’d look good there, Kelley can picture it, can see herself tracing fingers along skin warmed metal just under the collar of Emily’s shirt.

     Swallowing back the wave of concerning emotions such daydreaming brings, Kelley buys the neckless. And then immediately regrets it. She almost returns the jewelry twice before she even makes it back up the street. It’s too much really. To expensive a gift to give a friend randomly. And too intimate. It’s the sort of thing she’d buy her girlfriend.  

    Despite her reservations, Kelley can’t actually bring herself to take it back. She’s fixated on how Sonnett will look in it. How pretty she’d be. In the end, Kelley hedges.

     She stops at a flower shop and spends almost twenty minutes pestering the florist about which flowers say ‘I’m sorry for being an immature idiot, please forgive me?’. As it turns out, there isn’t a specific blossom for that which Kelley honestly thinks is a bit of an oversight.

      After much deliberation, Kelley walks out of the shop in proud possession of a hedgehog aloe plant in it’s very own terracotta pot. The mildly exasperated woman Kelley had been hassling ensures her that the aloe plant is hardy and can be used for sunburns and such. Surely it will be a good gift for Emily, who’s always talking about plants. And it’s not too much. It won’t give away any of Kelley’s deeper feelings. A nice, prickly, apology gift.

     By the time Kelley makes it back to the hotel with her purchases she’s running late. She barely has time to dump the plant and jewelry box in her room, hiding the latter in a pair of balled up socks, before she’s herded with the rest of the team onto the bus. It’s a quick trip to the training facilities and Kelley forces herself to refocus on practice. It won’t do to allow her current spat with Emily to disrupt their work. Even if Kelley spends a lot of the afternoon following Emily with her eyes.

     Emily seems withdrawn, not as playful and boisterous as normal. She’s also not seeking Kelley out. The brunets not sure if she’s being avoided really, but it’s certainly not normal to go through a whole afternoon without Emily at her elbow. She misses the younger woman fiercely even though their now finally in the same place. Kelley again curses her own foolishness. She should have told Emily.

     After practice, Kelley is fairly vibrating with anticipation. She’s ready for this weirdness between her and Emily to be done with. Tucking the plant under her elbow and shoving the little box into her back pocket, Kelley heads for Emily’s room. Squaring her shoulders, Kelley knocks firmly on the door and waits. When the door is pulled open, Kelley’s face to face with a blonde. But it’s the wrong one.

     “What do you want Kelley?” Horan’s voice is sharp and she’s holding the door partly closed. As if Kelley might try to force it open.

     Caught off guard by the iciness in the midfielder’s tone, Kelley says, “I was looking for Sonnett? I thought this was her room…”

     “It is. We’re roomies for camp,” Horan says shortly. She also doesn’t make any move out of the door.

     “Okay…” Kelley says uncertainly, “well is Sonnett around? I want to talk to her.”

     Snorting, Horan mutters under her breath, “now you want to talk to her?”

     Before Kelley can ask what the Colorado native means, Horan declares, “she’s not here. She doesn’t want to talk to you.”

     Now starting to get frustrated by Lindsey’s interference, Kelley spits back, “which is it? Is she not here or does she not want to talk to me? Also, I didn’t know you were Emily’s keeper.”

     “I’m not her keeper, I’m her friend,” Lindsey puts extra emphasis on the title, glaring at Kelley as she does so.

     Kelley can feel her temper fraying. She’s about to retreat to regroup before she does something rash when Sonnett speaks up from inside the room.

     “Lindsey, chill. I don’t need you to like defend me or whatever. I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself,” Sonnett says softly.

     Emily’s voice is wonderfully familiar. Kelley finds herself leaning towards it, edging closer to Horan in the process. It’s been too long since she’s gotten to listen to Emily without the interference of a phone. Yesterday’s brief interaction had only been enough to remind Kelley of how desperately she misses her younger teammate.

     Emily comes to the door and nudges past Horan into the hallway. Horan doesn’t retreat, instead watching Emily and Kelley closely. Kelley shoots a glare in her direction, not happy to have the midfielder intruding.

     “Do you need something Horan?” Kelley asks sharply.

     “Yeah actually, I need you to not be a dick to my friend,” Lindsey says bluntly.

     Offended, Kelley says, “what did I do?”

“You know exactly…” Lindsey cuts off what she was going to say when Emily shoots her a glare.

     “Linds, we’re good okay? Can you give us a minute? Please?” Emily’s voice is soothing as she tries to talk Lindsey down.

     Kelley wants to say something, argue on her behalf. She knows she fucked up, but that’s between her and Emily. Linds can mind her own business. Kelley holds her tongue though when Emily sends a placating glance in her direction.

     Giving the pair one last look, Lindsey huffs and says, “whatever. I’m going to go find Rose. Text me Son if I need to make myself scares while you make up.

     Kelley furrows her brow, catching that Lindsey is implying something but not really understanding what. She lets it go though, happy to just see the back of Horan. When Emily retreats back into the now vacant hotel room, Kelley is quick to follow.

     The heavy hotel door shuts behind them with an audible click. Other then that, the room is silent. Kelley frantically tries to remember her plan. Apologize, she needs to apologize.

     Rushing to get it out, Kelley says, “Em, I’m so sorry.”

     Ignoring her presence for the time being, Emily goes to her suitcase on the ground and starts folding socks of all things. Kelley watches for a second, seeing the way Emily’s nimble fingers complete the task with more precision that she would have ever bothered with.

     Breaking the silence, Kelley hesitantly asks, “Em?”

     Kelley observes Emily, hating the way the younger woman’s shoulders jerk up in response to the nickname. Normally, when Kelley calls Sonnett Em, it brings out a soft smile or a fond look. Kelley kicks herself again.

     “You’re sorry for what Kelley?”

     Emily’s voice has some bite to it and Kelley’s almost surprised. She shouldn’t be though, not really. She knows that Emily’s not exactly a wilting wallflower. Thinking about plants reminds Kelley of what she’s been holding this whole time.

     Awkwardly, Kelley extends the plant in Sonnett’s direction saying, “for being an idiot? I got you this. It’s a hedgehog aloe. Because you like plants? I named it Pigwidgeon. Like the owl from Harry Potter? The woman said that they’re useful for like, sunburns. I thought that’d be good because, well, Australia is sunny. Oh and you can use them as a base to make lube. Not that you’re going to…”

     Kelley flushes as she stumbles through her explanation. This is not going at all how she wanted. Emily isn’t smiling or taking the plant like Kelley had hoped. Instead she’s just staring expressionlessly as Kelley fumbles around talking about making organic lube. Shit.

     Kelley’s about to withdraw the plant when Emily’s hand finally comes up to claim the small pot. She watches as the younger defender holds the plant up, investigating a spiked leaf (is it a leaf?) with a finger.

     Cradling the plant against her hip, Emily asks, “Kel, do you understand why I’m mad at you?”

     Feeling a little reassured by Emily’s use of her shortened name, Kelley says, “because I assumed you were dating Foord? And um, because I had, have, a hickey?”

     Thumb tracing the edge of the pot, Emily sighs. Then says, “Kel, it’s not about Foord though you were an idiot about that. I’m mad because you kept a pretty major secret from me.” Tremulously, Emily adds, “I thought we were friends.”

     “We are!” Kelley rushes to reassure Emily, hating the uncertainty in Emily’s voice. “We’re best friends. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Sarah, I just… I didn’t know how to tell you.”

     “Kel, you can tell me anything. Have I ever done anything to make you think you couldn’t?” Emily’s voice is low, slightly raspy. And her eyes seem sad, a deeper blue then normal.

     “No! I’ve just been feeling kinda eh, about Utah and stuff. And then I met Sarah and things just sorta happened.” Kelley shrugs her shoulders helplessly.

     Still fiddling with the plant, Emily asks, “so are you just hooking up, or dating, or what?”

     Hesitantly, Kelley admits, “dating I guess? She’s not like, my girlfriend, but we’ve been, you know… seeing each other.”

     Emily makes a noise, something Kelley can’t quite place. Her expression is also inscrutable.

     “I promise I was going to tell you. I just wasn’t sure how and I missed you so much. And I didn’t want you to think I wouldn’t have time for us, for our friendship I mean. Because I do! You’re so important to me Son. And I’m sorry I’ve been a shit.” Kelley reigns in her pleading, adding, “so um, yeah an apology plant. Please forgive me?”

     Emily’s quiet for a long moment. It’s enough time for Kelley to realize how fast her heart is pumping and feel the way her blood pounds in her ears. She feels mildly nauseous.

     Placing the plant on the desk, Emily says, “you know I can’t take a plant with me to Australia, right?”

     Kelley blinks, totally confused by the shift in conversation.

     Snorting in apparent humor, Emily says, “Kel it’s like a 20-hour flight and Australia’s really strict about bringing things into the country anyway.”

     Kelley deflates. She knows she does. She hadn’t thought about that at all. She’d just wanted to do something to make Sonnett realize Kelley cared about her and paid attention to what she liked. She was trying to be thoughtful and she’d completely overlooked all the obvious logistical problems.

     Kelley’s hand drops to her back pocket, fingers slipping inside to find her other gift. Giving Emily the neckless feels like admitting too much. Kelley thinks there’s no way Emily won’t realize she’s feeling all the feelings if she gives it to her. Still, maybe that would make Emily more likely to forgive her?

     While Kelley debates, Emily keeps speaking.

     Lips quirking into a half smile Sonnett says, “I guess I’ll just need somebody to pet sit until I’m back huh? I suppose I could ask Lindsey…”

     Sensing an opportunity, Kelley leaps for it, “I’ll do it!” she gasps, with far more enthusiasm then watering a succulent warrants.

     Smiling with slightly more verve, Emily says, “I don’t know. Can you keep a plant alive? I’m attached to Pigwidgeon. I wouldn’t want you to overwater him.”

      Blushing slightly hearing Emily use the dumb name, Kelley grasps at straws, “you can teach me! And we can facetime a lot and I’ll send you pictures of him as like, proof of life.”

     Now chuckling, Emily says, “I suppose that could work. You’ll have to get better at communicating with me though. If we’re going to be co-parenting.”

     Slightly floored by the idea of co-parenting, even if it is only a measly cactus, Kelley nods in agreement. Then she looks at Emily hopefully.

     Sonnett must see what she wants in her face because she spreads her arms and gestures for Kelley to come in for a hug. Kelley steps in rapidly and with slightly too much force. Her overenthusiasm has Emily rocking back a half step but the younger woman is also laughing next to Kelley’s ear so she doesn’t care. Honestly, Kelley doesn’t care about too much when she’s pressed up against Emily like this. The only thing that matters to her is that Emily never lets her go.

     Blinking back the wetness from her eyes, allergies probably, Kelley asks, “you forgive me? We’re good?”

     Emily squeezes her tighter and rubs a hand over her lower back. Even through her shirt, the soothing touch feels amazing.

     “We’re good Kel. Just… don’t keep things from me? It doesn’t feel good. If there’s something you don’t want to go into detail about, your relationship or whatever, that’s fine, I’ll leave it alone. But trust me okay?”

     Kelley nods, pressing her forehead hard into Emily’s neck. She missed this, the way Emily arms encompass her and the way the younger woman smells. It makes Kelley feel so safe, so right. In a way that hugging Sarah doesn’t come close too.

     Obviously, Kelley’s got a lot more growing up to do. She can’t risk losing Emily over something dumb like this ever again. She also can’t hurt her. Not to mention, Kelley’s clearly not really in a place where she should be dating somebody. Not when Emily’s basically holding her heart hostage.

     Still, all of that can wait. Right now, Emily’s here and in her infinite kindness, she’s forgiven Kelly. Life's good.