my soul is not satisfied

I was told that it was unacceptable to leave forgetting is too long the way it is, and, given the current state of things and my inability to imagine anything but roses and rainbows for these two, I kind of agree. but dear lord work had to go in before we can get there.

read it on ao3


April

Heads hung and feet shuffled as the San Diego Padres trudged back into the clubhouse after yet another crushing defeat. Captain Mike Lawson brought up the rear.

The team was enjoying a miserable start to the regular season and morale was at an all time low.

Mike would have to be an idiot not to know he was partially (mostly) responsible for the latter and that the latter had definitely affected the former. While he was definitely an idiot about many things, baseball typically wasn’t one of them.

He’d been at a loss when they first started down this losing streak and, seven games later, still couldn’t quite figure out what to say to pull the team out of its funk. Not when he was in such a rut of his own and had been since the end of Spring Training.

In retrospect, it was something of a miracle that they’d had an okay run in Arizona, coming out of the Cactus League with more wins than losses and a solid 25-man roster.

Well, 24-man-and-1-woman roster.

Continue reading

why do the yankees always win? – ch. 7

chapter summary: … come to an end

chapter 1 | chapter 2 | chapter 3 | chapter 4 | chapter 5 | chapter 6 | ao3


Mike couldn’t say when, exactly, Ginny’s belongings begin to disappear from his apartment. 

It happens too gradually, and he’s got too many irons in the fire, but one day, Mike looks around and the apartment feels empty. Lonely.

There isn’t a crumb-filled plate on the side table next to Ginny’s corner of the couch. His shaving cream stands alone on the bathroom counter, surrounded by the space all of Ginny’s toiletries left behind. Her side of the bed remains untouched, and all of it is hitting him out of nowhere.

It’s not that he hasn’t noticed that she’s spending fewer nights with him, but that’s economy more than anything else. Ginny’s started her physical therapy in earnest now. It makes more sense for her to be close to Petco, and that means staying at the Omni. Anyway, Mike’s taking more shifts at the dealership than usual, so it’s not like he’s spending much time at the apartment either.

If she were around more often, Mike’s sure he wouldn’t get away with avoiding questions about his suddenly full schedule. Not that he really knows how he’d answer. 

As it is, Ginny doesn’t ask many questions. 

(She’d frowned the first and last time she brought it up. “It’s Saturday. You’re really going into work?”

Mike had just shrugged, as if to say, “Rich people and their cars. What can I do?” and dropped a kiss to her forehead. What he did say, when he pulled back and she was still frowning, was, “My landlord will thank me when my rent check doesn’t bounce. I’ll be back by seven. Let me know if I should bring back dinner.”

If he were less distracted by his mental calculations, trying to figure out how many commissions he needed before life could go back to normal, he might’ve noticed the anxiety on Ginny’s face. He might’ve read the tension in her shoulders and neck, the way her eyes squeezed shut as he pressed his lips to her furrowed brow. 

He wasn’t, though, so he didn’t.)

He might feel better about it if she did, though. Feel less like he’s keeping secrets. 

Which. He definitely is, but that’s semantics.

How can he explain these new long hours without outright lying? Strange as it is, money’s never been a big issue between them. The fact that she’s got a multi-million dollar contract with the Padres and most of his income comes from commission, not his pittance of a salary, hasn’t bothered him before. 

If anything is going to make Mike uncertain or self-conscious about his relationship with Ginny, it isn’t money. Not when photographers and fans and so-called journalists follow her every move. 

Besides, It’s not like Ginny’s begging to go out to expensive restaurants or on fancy vacations. And if she did, Mike’s pretty sure she wouldn’t expect him to pay. He likes to think he’s evolved enough to be comfortable with letting his girlfriend pay his way around. Occasionally. If he got a really fancy vacation and vacation sex out of the deal. 

As it is, there’s no point in trying to impress her with more than his ability to prepare a home-cooked meal and make her forget everything aside from his name in bed. 

Luckily, Mike’s pretty fucking good at both of those things.

Unluckily, he’s also pretty fucking good at keeping secrets.

It’s almost unconscious, the way he manages this one, keeps the truth from Ginny as deftly as he’s ever conned a mark. But it’s not like Mike’s proud of it. The fact of the matter is that he’s no stranger to the strategic manipulation of information.

Which doesn’t mean he’s lying to Ginny. She hasn’t come out and asked him why he needs to work so much when he’s never been more than ambivalent about his career. If anything, it’s a sin of omission. And one that should keep her from getting hurt.

That has to matter. Right? 

(Just because he tries to make himself feel better, doesn’t mean he’s that successful.)

There are too many questions and none of them have easy answers. He torments himself all day at work, only half his attention on clients and cars, the other half focused on the endless litany churning through his mind.

How the hell is he supposed to tell her that his mom’s a con artist? How does he tell her he used to be one, too? How does he say his mom thinks their relationship is just another con? Or that she wants in on the payout? How does he tell Ginny that he hasn’t set his mom straight? How does he tell her that he’s going to pay her off, just with his own money? How does he break that news without making her question everything else he’s ever told her?

How does he get out of this without breaking Ginny’s trust?

And that’s the heart of it.

Ginny had a rough childhood of her own and Mike wants to believe that she wouldn’t judge him for his own past, not if he tells her the truth of it all and how it’s threatening to detonate in the present. But there are years, decades even, of his mom’s warnings and threats and scare tactics keeping him quiet. As a kid, the truth could, and sometimes did, get them run out of town, once someone figured out Jackie Lawson’s game and Mike’s place in it all. 

For nearly eighteen years, he’d been his mom’s literal partner in crime. Her shill.

It’s not something Mike’s ever admitted to anyone, doesn’t even like admitting it to himself. He just can’t imagine anyone’s opinion of him not changing in the face of that knowledge.

And if there’s anyone in the world whose good opinion and trust he craves, it’s Ginny Baker.

The fact that he currently has it makes its potential loss all the more gutting.

Jesus, this is quite the bed he’s made for himself. 

After the months they’ve spent together, all the things he’s learned about Ginny, this isn’t the kind of information he can just laugh off. 

“Oh, did I not mention that my estranged mother wants me to extort you for thousands of dollars? No? Haha, my bad, Gin. Anyway, what should we have for dinner?”

Yeah fucking right.

Even if she believes that he doesn’t actually have a plan to pull a long con on her, there’s no way that Mike gets out of this without telling her about his past. And his past isn’t like Ginny’s: tough but ultimately the backbone of her success. 

Mike’s past was just tough.

Much as he tries to leave that past behind him, he should have known better than to expect it to stay there.

(“Hey, ma,” he’d said, that first call, some sixth sense kicking in despite the unknown number listed on caller ID. 

“Mikey,” she’d greeted, as sweet as ever. Well, when she wanted something at least.

The last he’d heard, Jackie Lawson had been running a clip joint somewhere near Bakersfield. This was after stepdad #3 decided he was no longer interested in funding her spending habits. Gone were the days of short game after short game, cutting and running at the first whiff of trouble. It was almost as if she was growing as a person. 

Almost.

“What do you want?” he sighed, muting the television. Something told him it would be better to give all his attention to this conversation.

“A woman can’t call her son?”

“Not when it’s been five years since the last call.”

Jackie sighed, sounding put upon. Perversely, Mike couldn’t help but feel guilty. This was his mother, for God’s sake. It was easy to get hung up on her questionable qualities, but there had been good times. His mom wasn’t a complete monster. He could’ve picked up the phone, too. 

Like she could sense him weakening, Jackie pounced.

“Phones work two ways, you know,” she sniffled, sounding genuinely distressed. Then again, his mom was the person who’d taught him how to make crocodile tears convincing at the tender age of six. “A mother shouldn’t have to find out about the new woman in her son’s life from the papers. Why wouldn’t you tell me about her, Mike? She’s lovely. And so successful…”

There it was. Leave it to her to come out of the woodwork only after paparazzi shots of him and Ginny out at the San Diego Zoo went viral. 

Good old mom. 

She’d gone on to congratulate him, in a mostly roundabout way—plausible deniability after all—about his future score, probing at his methods and testing for weak spots or whether there was any chance he’d let her in on it.

He got so turned around that he ended the conversation without denying, emphatically, everything. For Jackie, that’d been as good as a confirmation.)

Mike can’t blame her— Well, he can and he does, but Jackie Lawson is and always has been a two-bit con artist. She doesn’t have the patience for long games, always opting for the quick pay day, even when the risks are greater. After 36 years, Mike’s finally learned not to expect more of her. That ship has long since sailed. The scent of the biggest payoff she’d ever see, even if it isn’t strictly real, was bound to draw her out. 

Which is why he still hasn’t corrected the confusion. Why he hasn’t told her that he’s just in love, or something dangerously close to it. And why he is going to send his mom some money from this nonexistent con. 

He’s got some savings built up. A few more big commissions and he can offer Jackie Lawson a pay day. One that will maybe convince her to give up on the ever-elusive big score and go into retirement. Or whatever it is that second-rate grifters do in their twilight years. 

If it also keeps her from showing up in San Diego herself and detonating his entire life, then all the better. 

Most importantly, it shields Ginny from all of this bullshit. It gives Mike room to tell her about his childhood and his mom and everything that goes with them on his own terms. Hopefully, he could preserve the fragile, perfect bubble insulating the honeymoon stage of his relationship with Ginny.

With all the time Ginny’s been spending at the Omni, her steadily disappearing possessions from his apartment, and the way she’s been texting him less and less, though, maybe the bubble’s already popped.


When he shuffles into his quiet apartment after a long day at the dealership—managed to upsell some bored, young finance guy on a Maserati that he’d probably end up totaling within three months. Good for his future commission cuts if not that beautiful piece of machinery—Mike lets himself hope for a moment that Ginny will be there, waiting for him. 

He can practically see her, sitting cross-legged on the couch, her hair piled on top of her head and yelling at the TV. Whether it’s because of NC State’s poor performance or clueless Jeopardy! contestants is always up for debate, but the smile she’d give him isn’t. Wide and bright and quick, it’s enough to make Mike melt, no matter how awful his work day went. 

God, he loves that smile.

All that waits for him on the couch, though, are a pile of bills and the hoodie she’d forgotten when they had dinner together four nights ago. 

Idly, he picks it up and inhales the lingering scent of Ginny. It’d probably be embarrassing if anyone saw him do it, but Mike might actually be beyond caring. 

She’d shown up at his door, looking as fresh-faced and energetic as ever in spite of the long workout he knew she’d just completed—couldn’t neglect her legs or core, even with a bum arm. And she didn’t come alone. A bag from the burger place in Encinitas he’d shown her hung by her side. Before he could ask how she’d gotten them—her appointment to take her license exam was still a few weeks away—she’d given him a lopsided smile and admitted to asking a clubby to go pick them up for her. 

Mike shook his head, rolling his eyes, but still reeled Ginny into his side so he could revel in the feel of her against him. Slumping, she leaned most of her weight on him, the only indication she gave of how worn out she was. Well, he’d gladly bear that weight for her. As long as Ginny let him. She’d sighed and held him as tightly as he did her.

It’d been a quiet night, the two of them settling on the couch to watch basketball and eat their burgers. She was quiet, but Mike mostly thought that was because she didn’t have much of an opinion on the Lakers-Wolves game he’d put on. He asked a few questions about her PT and she shrugged them off, not that he could blame her. Mike had to imagine pretty much everyone in her life wanted to talk about her PT: how it was going, did she feel stronger, when could she start throwing again. If Ginny needed him to be the one person who didn’t, he would gladly be that for her. 

So, he let his arm drop around her shoulder and let her lean against his side and just relax. 

When she eventually rose to go, Mike didn’t argue, much as he wanted her back in his bed. He hadn’t been sleeping well and wanted to believe having her with him would help. At the very least, when he woke in the middle of the night, he’d be able curl around her. Instead, he simply followed her to the door, pressed a goodnight kiss to her full lips, and told her to sleep well. She’d pulled back and searched his face for a long moment before turning and walking away, out of sight.

That was four days ago, though.

Now, Mike is reduced to burying his face in his girlfriend’s sweatshirt and pretending it’s even close to actually having her here. 

With a sigh, Mike looks around the dead apartment and tries to muster up any kind of desire to make dinner or do some of the dishes piling up in the sink.

Instead, he fishes his phone out of his pocket and hopes that Ginny hasn’t already gone to bed. 

As the line rings, he shrugs out of his jacket and loosens his tie, sitting on the end of his bed to unlace his shoes. He stops all that, though, flopping back on the mattress when the ringing stops and Ginny’s familiar, low rasp comes in. 

“Hello?”

“Fuck, Gin,” he sighs down the line without preamble. Laying in bed isn’t the same without her curled beside him, without the smell of her shampoo drifting into his nose as she tucks her head against his shoulder. “I miss you.”

She hums and Mike has a visceral memory of her making that same sound and how it vibrated through her lips, straight into him. 

(That she’d had those lips wrapped around his dick at the time doesn’t make him ache for her any more, but that’s just because Mike doesn’t think it’s physically possible.

God, how deep in this thing is he?)

“You sure you don’t wanna come stay over tonight?” he offers weakly, already knowing her response.

“You know I’ve got an early appointment with the team physicians.”

“I do,” Mike allows. “Still wish you were here with me.”

“Well, I’m not, old man,” Ginny teases. If there’s something a little off in her delivery, he figures it’s just how tired she must be. “Deal with it.”

He chuckles. “Maybe if I had more to keep me company than this rank sweatshirt of yours, I could handle it better.”

Mike definitely expects her to laugh it off and ask about her sweatshirt. How the woman manages to keep her closet full of lycra and spandex-based workout clothes straight is a mystery, but Ginny’s got a an encyclopedic knowledge of each and every one. He’s sure she’s been going mad trying to figure out where this one got to.

Instead, there’s a long pause. He can practically hear her thinking.

“Like what?” she finally asks, slow and hesitant. “You want a picture?”

(If Mike were feeling less lonely, less turned on by the mere thought of Ginny arranging herself for an impromptu photoshoot, he would probably remember the hack and the selfies and the scramble and circus surrounding them. He’d probably hear the edge in her voice, the slight tremble of suspicion and anxiety. As it is, all he can think about is how hard he is at the mere suggestion of Ginny sprawled out on the pristine white sheets in her hotel room, snapping a picture just for him.)

He groans and doesn’t resist palming himself through his slacks. 

“There’s not a chance in hell I’m gonna say no to that, Gin.”

“How did I know?” Ginny laughs, but it’s not the bright, hoarse thing he’s used to. There’s definitely something off-key in it, more resigned than amused. 

Mike frowns and stops groping himself. “Hey, you okay?”

“Yeah,” she replies, quick and much closer to her usual tone. “Just tired. I think I’m gonna go to bed.”

“Oh. Yeah, all right,” he says, more than a little disappointed, and not just because it would be only him and his hand tonight. If Ginny doesn’t want to tell him what’s wrong, though, he can be patient, wait her out. Maybe she needs to figure it out on her own before she opens up. “Talk to you later?”

She hums again, murmurs a soft “Good night,” and the line goes dead. 


When he comes home from work the following day, the last of Ginny’s things are gone, odd little voids that makes the apartment feel emptier than it is. He trails through the space, taking in the dust ring from Ginny’s bottle of lotion on the coffee table and the absence of her spare running shoes in the closet. When he gets to his bedroom, a heavy sense of foreboding pooling in his gut, the nightstand where he’d left her sweatshirt (after falling asleep with his nose pressed in its folds) is empty, a short note left in its place.

Mike

There’s no other way to say this. I think it would be better if we don’t see each other any more. 

Please don’t try to contact me.

He reads it, over and over again, but the words never once rearrange themselves into anything less gut-wrenching. 

Automatically, he reaches for his phone, Ginny’s contact information appearing on the screen in spite of her last request. 

The line rings. Once.

“The number you are trying to reach is currently unavailable, please leave a message after the tone.”

He doesn’t bother, instead sinking to the bed, a mirror of the position he was in last night, talking to Ginny on the phone. Today, though, his head sinks to his hands, elbows propped on his knees, and there’s really only one thing to say.

“Fuck.” 

Fuck is right.

I didn’t know if you were still taking prompts but something under the idea of Mike and Ginny getting close during spring training and close to opening day one of them has the line, “I can’t keep doing this with you.”

those who wait | ao3

“Hey, Lawson?”

Mike looked up from slicing tomatoes when Ginny came in, an inquisitive tilt to his head.

She practically skipped through the kitchen, freshly showered and grinning. No question was forthcoming as she slid onto a stool at the island to watch him prep dinner. Most likely, she’d been summoned by the smell of sizzling bacon and wanted to know when food would be ready. There were days that he thought he should regret inviting Ginny—and Blip, who’d declined, and Livan, who hadn’t—to stay in his Arizona house, but he never quite managed to do it. Then of course, she’d do something like grin so openly at him, happy and healthy and on her way to the top, and regret was the least of his worries.

“Back to San Diego next week,” she observed, sneaking a piece of bacon from the paper towel where it was draining and crunching into it. “You excited?”

It hardly mattered whether or not Mike was excited, not with the giddy energy rolling off Ginny. Ever since she’d cemented her spot as a starter again, having made her comeback from last season’s injury, she’d been irrepressible, practically floating everywhere she went. It didn’t dull her competitive edge, but off the field, her enthusiasm and energy were hard to resist.

Well. That was easier to think than the alternative.

(That she was hard to resist.)

“It’ll be good to get back home, get you and Livan outta my hair.”

She wrinkled her nose at him and he laughed automatically. How had she managed to condition him to laugh like that? Maybe because she always smiled, even when she didn’t want to, when he laughed. He’d do worse things for that smile pointed his way.

“Don’t lie, Lawson. You’re gonna miss us.”

“Nope.”

“You will!”

“Will not,” he replied, grabbing a loaf of bread. He shot Ginny a questioning look and she nodded eagerly, just like he knew she would. The woman happened to love his grilled BCTs—bacon, cheese, and tomato sandwich. If anything, she’d be the one missing him. Him and his ability to feed himself and others from more than frozen dinners.

“You will,” she repeated, firm. “Who else is going to keep you from turning into even more of an old man?”

“Who says I want to stop? Maybe I’m looking forward to getting my live-in nurse. Sponge baths whenever I want ‘em.”

Her jaw dropped open and she gagged, though Mike was more distracted by the sight of her tongue than he should have been given the circumstances.

“You are disgusting,” Ginny said, but the laugh running through the words told Mike she wasn’t that serious.

“That’s me,” he agreed, placing both assembled sandwiches on the hot griddle. He looked at the spread of ingredients. “Should I assume wonder boy is feeding himself?”

She nodded. “I think he’s trying to convince that restaurant he found to freeze their food and ship it to San Diego. And probably go home with the owner while he’s at it.”

“Sounds about right,” Mike grumbled.

Even though there was a guest room in the house set up just for the Cuban catcher, Mike was sure he’d spent more of his nights sleeping somewhere else. Probably with his choice of company, if his habits from last season held true. Mike wasn’t jealous, though. He had all the company he wanted.

Ginny grinned mischievously, but let Mike finish cooking in peace. She collected plates and silverware and a couple beers and waters from the fridge. Everything got set up on the patio table because she loved the unimpeded view of the desert and hadn’t quite gotten over the fact that Mike even had a patio. Between her apartment back in El Paso and the suite that was still hers at the Omni, Ginny hadn’t exactly been rolling in amenities like patios or rain showers or homemade dinners—though the Omni did have a pretty good room service menu.

She came back to the kitchen to start tossing together a salad. It was the one culinary undertaking that Mike allowed her, and only because it involved “nothing that could set the house on fire.” Ginny was the first to admit that she wasn’t the most skilled cook, but even she had yet to actually burn a house down. Set off the smoke detectors, sure, but she’d wanted her burger well done, anyway.

In companionable silence, having completed this ritual nearly every night of the past six weeks, they finished cooking. Well, Mike cooked and Ginny assembled.

The salad was done just as Mike lifted the warm, crisp grilled cheeses from the griddle and laid them on a platter.

“Outside again?” he double checked, though he wasn’t sure why he bothered. Ginny always ate outside.

She nodded anyway, leading the way with her creation and Mike following along with his.

Once they were settled in, tucking into dinner, they allowed themselves to start talking. Go over their day together. Mike tried to tell himself that it wasn’t all disgustingly domestic, and he even believed it. If only because there wasn’t a single part of him that was disgusted by this.

“How’s your arm feeling? This was the closest Skip’s let you get to your pitch count, wasn’t it?”

Ginny shrugged. “I’m a little sore, but made sure to check in with the trainer after the game. Nothing felt wrong, not like it used to, at least.”

Mike frowned, though he took a bite of the sandwich to keep from saying anything. Apparently, he’d become something of a mother hen since sharing a house with Ginny. He thought it was only natural, having never shared space with an injured athlete who wasn’t himself; of course he was going to make sure she was taking care of her self. Ginny, though, thought it was overbearing.

Still, she grinned, a little indulgent, and said, “If it’s still bad after my massage and flush run tomorrow, you can be the one to tell Skip off.”

He rolled his eyes, but he was definitely gonna hold her to that.

“Yeah, yeah, rookie,” he replied, “I’m a—”

“You know you’re gonna have to come up with a new nick name for me soon, right?”

“How do you figure?”

She looked at him as if he’d lost his mind. “I’m not a rookie anymore.”

The response that he wanted to give, unthinkingly, was that she’d always be his rookie, but that felt dangerous or condescending. Or both. Instead, he frowned in consideration.

“I’ll tell the guys to get on it,” he finally replied, knowing he’d do no such thing.

“Isn’t that your job? As captain.”

“Nah, I’m big picture. Getting the final say in kangaroo court, delivering inspirational speeches in the eleventh hour, deciding when to let Voorhies drag us all to a karaoke bar. That kinda stuff.”

She grinned, her dimples popping in the fading light. “Karaoke bars? How haven’t I heard about this?”

“It happens very rarely. And only when I’m in a really good mood.”

“So never, then.”

He barked out a laugh, shaking his head. “Not often enough to hear Dusty tell it.”

“And me,” she declared, polishing off the last of her sandwich. “I am amazing at karaoke.”

Mike snorted and Ginny’s jaw dropped in outrage.

“I am! I bring the house down, Lawson!”

“Baker, if your humming is any indicator, you couldn’t carry a tune if you had a bucket.”

She let out a disbelieving little huff of laughter. “That’s rude. You’re rude.”

“You’re just figuring that out now?” he grinned.

Ginny just rolled her eyes and she tried to remember if she’d done that quite so often before meeting Mike, or if his habits were just rubbing off on her. It was hard to tell.

They finished the rest of their dinner as the sun slowly sank into the western horizon.

Ginny allowed herself to bask in the dying glow for a moment, but the restlessness that had defined most of her life caught up with her. It always caught up with her.

“Shoot some hoops?” she asked, nodding out to the detached garage and the lone basketball hoop a previous owner had installed.

Mike nodded, pushing himself to his feet. Technically—contractually—they weren’t allowed to play basketball. Not a real game, anyway. Not that Ginny would put up much of a fight in a one on one game. She was scrappy and naturally athletic, but too much of her childhood had been focused on baseball. Mike doubted that she’d ever picked up a basketball outside of gym class (and ill-advised poolside dunk contests) before this February.

So, they’d contented themselves with games of PIG and then HORSE and finally HIPPOPOTAMUS when Ginny complained the games were too short. For someone whose entire job was throwing a small ball at a small target, she really sucked at getting a larger ball to a larger target.

But it wasn’t like Mike was going to pass up on spending time with her.

Especially not if he got to tease her mercilessly while he did it. It was so much easier to pretend they were just regular friends when he got to tease her. When they were both laughing, trading insults and trying to get the other to miss.

But when Ginny made a shot Mike had been sure she’d miss—an over the shoulder hook shot with her left hand—and she lit up, practically throwing herself into his arms with glee; when he could feel every inch of her toned, perfect body pressed up against his; when her breath ghosted, tantalizing and warm against his neck—

Well, it was much harder to pretend, then.

Mike’s heart thudded heavily against his rib cage. His arms had wrapped around her on instinct, tight enough that his hands gripped her waist. There wasn’t a single cell of him that wanted to let her go. No, he wanted to take his face from where it was buried in her hair, wait for her to look up at him, and finally find out what it would be like to kiss Ginny Baker.

But he couldn’t.

So, he convinced himself to release her, to take a step—a tiny shift of his weight, really—back.

She did look up at him, eyes wide, and lips so close to parting.

“Ginny, I can’t keep doing this with you,” he sighed, his breath gusting against her cheek.

For a moment, the world froze. Ginny couldn’t move, couldn’t complete the circuit by collapsing back into Mike and couldn’t step away to avoid overloading it. She was stuck in the middle ground, hovering too close for comfort, but too far away for it, too.

“I can’t keep having these almosts with you,” he said, more raw than she’d heard him in a long time. “Because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make myself stop next time.”

The world thawed. Her heart began beating a jackrabbit’s rhythm against her ribs. But before she could capture his hand or his face or anything, he backed away, hands clenched into fists at his side.

“I mean, you have a code. That’s fine, I— I get it. You’ve already had your exception.”

She started towards him at that, mouth open to say— something, but he barreled on.

“But I don’t want to be something that you come to regret. Not like he was.”

Ginny didn’t say that not acting on whatever this thing between them was might be more regrettable than the alternative, but she thought it. Just as she thought it every time they brushed up against the implications of that almost outside Boardner’s. Which had been happening more and more frequently over the past six weeks.

Apparently, Mike had noticed, too.

Still, she couldn’t let him go on thinking—

“It wouldn’t be you,” she blurted. He rocked back, confusion and more than a little hurt flashing across his face. That was worse. Immediately, Ginny let the words tumble out of her mouth, anything to make him look less wounded. “If I ever regretted something happening between us, it wouldn’t be that it was you. It would be letting it happen too soon or getting caught and all the bullshit we’d manage to stir up. But not you, Mike. Never you.”

Well, he definitely didn’t look wounded anymore. Ginny couldn’t quite identify the look on his face, not before he was sweeping her up into his arms, practically spinning them around.

She half gasped, half laughed, burying her face in his throat as her arms wound around his neck.

When he’d finally set her back on her feet, arms still wrapped tightly around her, he rubbed his cheek against the top of her head.

Quietly, but still certain, he murmured, “I can wait.”

“Really,” she rasped, just enough disbelief in her tone to make him laugh.

“I’m not good at it,” he clarified, pulling away to look her in the eye, “but I can.”

Ginny believed him.

But if she remained cradled so securely in his arms for one more minute, she wasn’t sure she could wait. Reluctantly, she pulled away, her hands trailing across his neck and shoulders and chest before she finally disengaged.

“So what are we, then? While we wait. Friends?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “It’s not that I don’t want to be your friend, that I’m not your friend already, but I don’t know if I can keep myself from wanting to be more, too.”

“You’re not the only one who wants more, you know,” she replied, dry as the desert surrounding them.

“Well, as long as we’re on the same page.”

“Same page, old man,” Ginny affirmed, wanting to reach out and touch him again, but even the small taste she’d already gotten told her that was a dangerous path to tread.

Instead, she stuck out her hand.

Mike eyed her hand for a long moment before letting his gaze trail up to hers.

“Really?”

“C’mon, Lawson. Just shake on it.”

“What am I even shaking on?” he protested. “Waiting? ‘Til when?”

“We’ll know,” she replied, sounding more confident than she felt. At least her hand didn’t quiver, hanging in the air the way it did.

Mike took one more long look at her before finally clasping his (big, warm, callused) hand in hers and shaking to seal the deal. For a moment, neither released the other, their breath shuddering as Mike’s thumb caressed the back of her hand and her fingertips curled against his palm.

Finally, though, he offered her a single nod and pulled away.

Ginny nodded back, resisting the urge to curl her hand against her heart, hold the warmth of his grip against her as long as it was fresh in her memory.

Almost in sync, they both loosed gusty sighs, trading nearly shy smiles.

“Back inside?” he asked, calling attention to the falling dusk, the first stars beginning to twinkle into view overhead.

Ginny agreed easily enough, following him back to the patio to clean up the remnants of their dinner before heading into the kitchen. As they washed dishes side by side, their newfound understanding settled easily between them. It—and the feelings it involved—wasn’t exactly new even if giving voice to them was.

She still blew soap bubbles at him and he still flicked her with the dish towel, the same easy banter that they’d developed filling the air.

They were still Ginny and Mike.

Neither pretended it was anything other than a relief, trading brief, grateful grins.

If this was how waiting was going to be, then maybe it wouldn’t be quite so bad.


It took longer than either of them would’ve liked, with maybe more tension than either would’ve guessed, too, but eventually, the day came.

The day they both knew.

Ginny grinned at Mike and he was already grinning back.

“You ready for this?”

“Been ready for a long time.”

“Good.”

And that didn’t even begin to describe what they were together.

No. That was was nothing short of perfect.

IDK how to prompt so ignore me if this isnt anything but bawson: mike is the little spoon to ginny’s big spoon. pss Love love love your writing

Thank you!! Sorry for the long wait!


makes you feel safe | ao3

The house is peacefully still when Ginny walks in the front door, footfalls heavy and echoing in the otherwise silent entry. Her bags drag in her hands, like gravity’s pulling on them just a little bit harder than usual, like it knows exactly how exhausted she is. Happily, gratefully, she drops them by the door along with her shoes. She can deal with them in the morning.

Right now, all she wants to do is crawl into bed and wrap herself up in her comforter and a strong pair of arms.

The quiet is pierced by the chirp of the unarmed alarm system. With a rueful shake of her head, she pushes the door all the way shut and keys in the code to activate it. 

She knows Mike is a big, strong man and there are at least three baseball bats in any given room in the house, but most of those are in display cases and it usually takes him at least two tries to get out of bed if his knees aren’t cooperating in the morning. That’s more than enough opportunity for a robber to get the jump on him. The least he could do is set the alarm when he’s home alone. That’s what it’s there for. After all, how pissed would he be if he came home one night to find she hadn’t set the alarm? 

Ginny can imagine the lecture now, Mike’s bearded face hovering over hers as he shakes her awake, rambling about crime statistics in La Jolla before she’s even fully conscious. 

Her snort splits into a jaw-cracking yawn, which she takes as her cue to get her ass to bed.

Ginny trudges up the stairs, not even bothering to turn on the lights. She knows every nook and cranny in this house, could navigate it in her sleep. It’s a close thing tonight. 

Finally, exhaustion settling deep in her bones, threatening to drop her where she stands, Ginny makes it down the hall to the master suite. She slips inside the dark bedroom, knowing that she should head into the ensuite to shower off the smell of plane and recycled air, but too tired to care. All she can bring herself to do is strip out of her wrinkled zip up and let her leggings fall to the floor, toeing out of her socks at the same time. She’s left in just her underwear, utterly ready to face plant into bed.

Before she does, though, she checks her landing zone, just to make sure Mike hasn’t left his tablet or the reading glasses he thinks she doesn’t know about there. It’s happened before, though every time she brings it up, he fires back the time he had to sleep in a pile of crumbs because she forgot to leave her midnight snacks on the bedside table.

She loves the man, but wishes he’d stop holding that over her head. Anyway, he was the one who’d refused to get out of bed so she could change the sheets.

(The fact that she’d licked every crumb off him, and a few she was sure he made up, only strengthens her stance on the matter.)

There isn’t anything on the comforter, but the lumps underneath make her glad she thought to check.

Firmly planted on her side of the bed, Mike sleeps on, oblivious to her presence in the room. There’s a little frown on his face, only visible in the slight furrow of his eyebrows since his mouth and nose are planted in the pillow he’s got clutched in both burly arms. The presence of both pillows on his usual side of the bed tells her just whose pillow he’s fallen asleep cuddling.

The sight of him there makes her even happier to be home.

Even if it’ll take a few extra steps to finally crawl into bed.

She does her best to slide between the sheets as quietly as possible, though that care is probably undermined by the way she scoots right up next to Mike’s broad, bare back. It feels like forever since she last got to touch him, there’s no way she’s going to hold back now that she can. Not wanting to wake him, though, she settles for draping an arm over his waist and pressing a light kiss to his freckled shoulder. Anything else can wait until morning.

Still, he stirs.

“Gin?” he breathes, hushed and a little dreamy.

“Shh,” she murmurs back, taking the opportunity to press in closer, laying another kiss to his bare skin, “go back to sleep.”

Mike doesn’t listen, rolling so he’s halfway on his back, face tipped towards her, eyes still closed. “Missed you.”

Ginny has to swallow a few times before she can manage, “I missed you more.”

He snorts, blowing the sweet, sleepy intimacy away. One eye cracks open, regarding her with more humor than she’d expect from him at nearly 2 in the morning. “Not everything’s a competition, y’know.”

“If it were, I’d win.”

That gets a real laugh and, even better, Mike pressing a kiss to her mouth before rolling back over so Ginny can snuggle into his back. He’d never admit it, but he loves being the little spoon. Nearly as much as Ginny likes being able to hold him against her as tight as she can manage. His hand closes over hers where it rests in the middle of his chest and Ginny presses her face between his shoulder blades.

“Keep telling yourself that, rook,” he mutters, already drifting back to sleep.

Ginny doesn’t reply, just molds herself to Mike’s back, her thighs and shins lining up with his own powerful but slumbering limbs. She revels in the caress of his skin against hers, letting his warmth and the rhythm of his breath drag her under, too. 

Her last conscious thoughts are these: Winning is good. This is so much better. 

Prompt Request: it would be greatly appreciated :) Ginny plays a game of “never have I ever” with Evelyn and some of the Padre’s WAGS. And learns that one WAG had a fling with Mike.

Okay, so I’m actually really interested in when Ginny realized that her teenage crush/idolization of Mike had become something more. Because I don’t think there’s any way that she walks out on a first date with a guy she seems to like a lot without having realized that she feels something more for him than she does her other teammates. 

Also, I couldn’t figure out an organic way to get them all playing “Never Have I Ever,” but if that’s important to you check out guys like you (which has lots of smut as a bonus if you’re into that)


just like a ring of fire | ao3

“C’mon, Ginny,” Evelyn practically whined. “You have to be in need of some serious girl time. You’ve been cooped up on a bus with just gross boys for too long. I can’t even imagine how that bus smells.”

“Like too much Axe and Drakkar Noir.”

Her friend’s nose wrinkled and Ginny had to laugh, covering her mouth with her hand. It was only half true, but she liked how easy it was to gross Evelyn out. 

And it wasn’t as if Ev was wrong. She had been stewing in a lot of testosterone lately. Just, Ev’s alternative didn’t seem much more appealing.

Sensing Ginny’s ambivalence, Evelyn wheedled, “You haven’t even met most of them yet.”

“Do I need to? It’s not like that many of them liked me back in San Antonio or El Paso.”

Evelyn flapped her hand. “That was the minors.”

“You’re telling me the stakes lower for WAGs when y’all hit the big leagues?”

Evelyn, though clearly stumped by that, refused to retreat. 

“Ginny,” she pleaded, doing a remarkable impression of Gabe and Marcus begging for another piggy back ride. “I already told them you’re coming. Don’t turn me into a liar!”

“That sounds like a you problem, Ev,” she replied, cursing the fact that she could already feel herself softening. Evelyn might be immune to guilt, but Ginny was not. Especially not when her friend asked so little of her. 

“What did you want me to say? They were driving me nuts asking about you!”

Ginny narrowed her eyes. “Asking what exactly?”

The innocent expression on Evelyn’s face could’ve earned an Oscar it was so earnest, but it still didn’t fool Ginny for one second. She waited until Evelyn broke. 

“Ugh, fine!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air for good measure. “There may or may not be a few—just a few!—worries about their husbands and boyfriends suddenly spending all this time with a pretty, single girl.” At Ginny’s outraged look, she hurried to continue, “I tried to tell them there was nothing to worry about—you’re not that cute.”

As intended, Ginny rolled her eyes, some of her annoyance draining away. Some, but nothing close to all. 

“What about my code?” she demanded. “Didn’t you tell them about that?”

“I tried, G,” Ev replied, gentle. “But since you never slept with my husband, despite your many chances, I’m apparently not a trustworthy source. Or I’m trying to keep your options open so you don’t move onto Blip? I’m honestly not sure what the thought process is.”

A few humorless chuckles escaped Ginny’s mouth. “Figures,” she muttered, tugging at her lip in frustration.

“You know why it’s gotta be you. It doesn’t matter what I or Amelia or even your teammates tell them. These women aren’t going to relax until they’ve assessed the threat for themselves.” 

“Threat? Ev, I’m just here to play ball!”

“You know that and I know that, but they don’t. Yet. But you come in and set their minds at ease, tell them how much worse sharing a clubhouse with 24 guys is than sharing a bathroom with your brother growing up, and they’ll realize that you have no interest and chill out.” 

Ginny sighed. Unfair as it was, she really did need the WAGs on her side. The more of them that liked her, the less chance there was of stupid, unfounded rumors spreading. Both around the clubhouse and into the league. The last thing she wanted was TMZ running gossip from “unnamed sources close to the team” about how she was blowing her teammates to make up for blowing a game. 

“Fine,” she agreed, reluctant but willing to admit her friend was right.

“It really won’t be that bad,” Evelyn smiled encouragingly. “Honestly, it’s only a couple who have said anything. And besides, I’ve seen you charm the chaps off a bar full of bikers, Ginny; a few WAGs should be no problem at all.”

She nodded in reply and tried not to think that she’d take that bar of leather-clad bikers any day.


They settled on a night that the guys had their own form of bonding. Even though Blip and even Lawson had told her to come along, Ginny declined. Even when Lawson raised one cocky eyebrow and asked, “Why? Hot date?” to goad her into admitting—what? That she planned on going back to her hotel room and pigging out on ice cream sundaes? Or that she really did have a date? 

Sometimes, she just didn’t get him. Which only made her want to know more.

“I guess if you think Evelyn is hot, then yeah,” she drawled, rolling her eyes. 

Mike’s eyes glazed over a bit at the thought, his jaw hanging open just wide enough to put his wad of gum on display. Ginny felt a flush crawling up her chest, embarrassed and maybe—just a little—intrigued at what was going through her captain’s mind right then. 

It wasn’t until Blip warned, “Think very carefully about how you answer, man,” that Mike snapped out of the daze. 

“Well, uh,” he practically stuttered, gaze flicking to Blip’s glowering face before it bounced away in a blink. At no point did he look anywhere near Ginny’s direction, but that just made it easier to see his ears burning a dull pink. “Out of all the happily married women in San Diego, you couldn’t do better, Baker.”

“Damn straight,” Blip muttered, though it was hard to make out over the force of Ginny’s guffaws.

God, they were easy.

Both men bore her laughter grumpily, sitting in nearly mirror images of each other at their respective lockers: feet braced against the ground, arms crossed over chests and frowns planted on their faces. Every time she looked at them, the urge to stop laughing died a quick death. Soon, other Padres were glancing over, even chuckling themselves, though Ginny was sure none of them really got the joke. 

Finally, having taken enough abuse, Mike pushed to his feet, rolling his eyes. He wandered off, probably to have Kiki realign his back so he could actually enjoy his boy’s night. 

Ginny watched him go, giggles finally fading away. 

It wasn’t until Blip cleared his throat that Ginny realized she’d been staring. As cooly as she could, she turned her attention to Blip. He watched her with an inscrutable expression on his face and she did her best not to fidget under the scrutiny.

Finally, he shook his head, spinning back towards his cubby. 

“Tell Ev I’m not bailing her ass out of jail if things get outta control tonight,” was all he said. 

Ginny remained rooted to the spot for a moment, sure he wasn’t going to let her off the hook this easily. But Blip didn’t turn back around and she wasn’t about to look this gift horse in its mouth. 

“Will do,” she replied, hoisting her backpack higher on her shoulders and beating a hasty retreat.


Slowly, but surely, Ginny was winning over the group of uncertainly suspicious women gathered in the Sanders house. It helped that Evelyn had been right, there really only a few women who’d actually been worried about what her presence on the team meant, maybe three or four out of the twelve Ev had invited. They were pretty easy to single out in the group of happy chatterers. 

So, while Ginny only had to win over a few, they were all curious about her. 

Intensely curious.

“So, Ginny,” smiled one of them. Lauren, she thought, though there was also a Laura somewhere around, too. “How are you settling in? It wasn’t too hard to leave El Paso behind, was it?”

She heard the insinuation behind the words. Did you leave a boyfriend behind? Still, Ginny smiled pleasantly and took a sip of the margarita Evelyn had pushed into her hand as soon as she walked in the door. Not the exact one, of course, this had to be her third. At least. 

“It’s an adjustment,” she replied truthfully. “Not just the city, but getting used to a new team, their weird, gross habits.”

An appreciative laugh went up around the group. 

“I’ve said it before, Ginny, and I’ll say it again,” Evelyn announced, “I don’t know how you put up with all of them at once. God knows I love Blip, but sometimes he’s such a dude.”

“It helps that I get my own dressing room, now,” Ginny allowed with a grin. 

“So you don’t—” that was Laura, though she cut herself off with a flush. Ginny knew what was coming next. Hell, Evelyn had asked her this exact question herself. She waited for Laura to get over her embarrassment and finish, “you don’t see anything?”

A few stray giggles went up around the gathering, but Ginny knew they’d all be hanging on her every word. 

This was it. This was where she set their minds at ease. Honestly, she was just relieved it hadn’t taken longer.

“God, no,” she answered, definitive and immediate.

“Never?”

“Not up here,” she replied, knowing that honesty would get her further than trying to seem entirely innocent. “I mean, down in the minors, I barely had a curtained off area to change in, but it’s not like I was looking, you know?”

“I told y’all,” Evelyn said, a little smug. “Ginny’s got a code.”

“Yep. Don’t date ballplayers.”

“Not even once?” That was Sandra, who, if Ginny remembered correctly, was dating Widener. She couldn’t blame the woman for being a little leery, having seen the third baseman in action. Still, she didn’t have to act like Ginny was the problem. 

“Well, there’s always a reason for a rule,” she hedged, hoping they would leave it alone. 

Thankfully, someone turned to the woman next to her, “That sounds like a rule you should have.”

“What can I say? I have a type!” the blonde—Jamie? Jenny? J-something-y.—giggled. Ginny thought she remembered her waiting for Hanan at the player’s entrance a few times. 

“Baseball player’s not a type, Jessie,” her friend sniffed. “I mean, how far apart can you get between Sam and Mike Lawson?”

“Lawson?” 

The name was out of Ginny’s mouth before she could stop it. 

“Oh, yeah,” Jessie replied with a shrug. “That was in his serious hound dog phase—and before I even met Sam. Believe it or not, he’s gotten way better than he used to be, right after the separation.”

Ginny nodded and was glad the conversation moved on. 

Mike’s reputation was no secret. Ginny had heard more than enough locker room talk to know that the man was no Boy Scout. And even though she vividly remembered the brunette who dropped him off before her first road trip, she’d never been confronted so… personally with the evidence of it. That was the only reason her stomach turned at this bit of information. That was the reason she felt like her lungs had shrunk, making it so hard to breathe.

It had nothing to do with the fact that when the guys talked about this stuff in the clubhouse, it was always accompanied by jeering and hoots of laughter. It had nothing to do that she could pretend it was all a joke.

It definitely didn’t have anything to do with the how it had to be a joke. Ginny didn’t want to consider the alternatives. 

That she was jealous of this woman. For getting that with Mike, even if she hadn’t been smart enough to hold onto him. 

Given a shot, Ginny wouldn’t make that same mistake.

A buzz in her pocket mercifully pulled her out of those thoughts. When she saw its sender, though, she rethought the meaning of mercy. 

Mike
Ivy’s on Vine

Her heart began galloping along in her chest, just at the sight of his name. (Which she now realized happened every time he called or texted, as had happened with surprising regularity since the All Star Game last week.) And with the slightest provocation, that galloping transformed into a veritable stampeded. The memory of his smile. The fact that he was inviting her out again. That he wanted her there.

For a million reasons, Ginny knew this wasn’t her shot. That her shot with Mike, if it ever came, if he ever ended up feeling anything for her, was way down the line. Certainly not within her first season in the majors, and probably not even her second or third, not until Mike was out of the game for good. And who knew how long that would take? 

But none of that stopped her from feeling like maybe, in spite of it all, it could be. 

A flush began to spread up her neck, and sucking down the last of her margarita did nothing to help. If anything, it just made her thoughts swirl faster, spinning right out of her head, out of the house even, and into the night. Zeroed in on one person. 

Oh, hell. 

What had she gotten herself into?


Eventually, after another two or three drinks and dishing out all the best gossip she had, Ginny’d succeeded in winning most of the WAGs to her side. More than a few of them won her over, too. Which was a good thing. She could always use more friends. 

Still, for the back half of the evening, most of her thoughts were occupied by one friend in particular. 

Which was why she didn’t direct her Uber back to the Omni, but rather Ivy’s on Vine. 

She was allowed entrance easily enough, even taking a selfie with the bouncer. 

Like he was North, and her eyes a compass needle, Ginny tracked down Mike within moments of stepping inside. 

He sat at the bar, though he faced out into the room, no doubt surveying his teammates and making sure no one was getting too rowdy. A beer bottle dangled between the fingertips of his free hand while the other arm propped him up. 

In no time, Ginny was slipping onto the stool next to his, though she couldn’t quite remember crossing the floor to get there. She knew Mike had seen her, though he waited until she’d ordered a beer of her own to say anything. 

“Girls night packed it in early?” he asked, taking a swig from his bottle.  

“Yeah,” she breathed, unwilling or unable to take her eyes off of him. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d seen his face, it was nearly as familiar as her own, but suddenly it was like she was looking at him with fresh eyes, or, at the very least, through a new lens. With new information she couldn’t deny any longer. The bob of his throat as he swallowed, the way he couldn’t quite keep his head from nodding along to the music, his eyes scanning the crowd, no doubt cataloguing the positions and status of each of their teammates: it was all suddenly so fascinating. 

How hadn’t she really realized before what she was feeling? This was no hero worship, no six-year-old crush. This was far more dangerous than that.

His attention slid back to her and he raised an eyebrow. “What?” he asked, “I got something on my face?”

It was on the tip of her tongue, this realization. Like it had a mind of its own, she wanted to blurt it out, get it out into the open, hating the way it crowded against her teeth like a mouthful of marbles. Fuck the consequences, she didn’t want to be the only one bearing this stupid, stupid feeling threatening to detonate her whole life.

Before she could, though, Mike’s eyes slid to the side. Just for a second, but long enough for Ginny to register the way his gaze trailed appreciatively over the pretty redhead making eyes at him from a nearby table. 

By the time he returned his attention to her, Ginny had beat back the tide of disappointment that had swelled up her throat, into her mouth. At least it washed away the words she’d nearly let spill. 

“Yeah,” she finally replied, fingers curling around her glass, “but I’m pretty sure a razor and some shaving cream will take care of it.”

He shook his head, despairing. “When are you gonna come around on the beard, Baker? This thing kills with the—”

“Okay, ew!” she laughed, hoping the churning of her gut didn’t show on her face. “If you finish that sentence with ‘ladies,’ I’m basically obligated to throw my drink on you.”

Mike laughed, too. “What if I was gonna say ‘fans?’”

“Ugh,” she groaned, wrinkling her nose. “I don’t know why, but that’s somehow worse.” 

 Her captain just shook his head, cheeks appling under the thick cover of his beard. “Don’t try and pretend you’re not my biggest fan, rookie,” he teased. Ginny froze for a moment, wondering if he somehow knew in spite of the fact that she hadn’t said anything. “I know all about your posters.”

She thawed, chuckling a little nervously. “Oh, it’s posters now? You’re really letting your imagination run wild, aren’t you?”

He nodded absently, but his attention was back on the redhead. She’d moved a table closer, talking to a guy there, but the way she was leaning, that put all her—very generous—cleavage on display. Pointed right in their direction. Well, in Mike’s direction. 

Ginny swallowed and clambered off her stool. 

“Where are you going?” he asked, just enough confusion in his voice to prod right at the ball of disappointment she’d swallowed down. 

“I’m calling it a night,” she replied, signaling the bartender for her check. As she paid, she couldn’t help but add, “Besides, I think there’s someone who wants your attention more than I do.”

When she finally brought herself to look at him, his eyes were narrowed. Ginny rolled hers and jerked her chin towards the woman, who was now watching them with open interest. 

Lawson frowned, “Baker, I’m—”

“Nah, go on,” she said, unwilling to know how that sentence was going to end. “Make a fan’s night.”

Before he could say anything else, Ginny was walking away. Not once did she give into the impulse to turn back and look. There was no scenario where she’d feel better by looking. Either he’d be wrapped up in that pretty, available woman or he wouldn’t. 

Ginny was fine not knowing. 

She just wished she could go back and not know some other things, too. 

#PickUpPitch prompt fills – (love is) in the eye of the cameraman

@monkshoodr has been sending mail all the way from Canada and is an absolute star!!

The prompt: A Rob the camera guy fic

(There’s still time to get Craig Erwich’s attention at the ATX Festival. This Friday, between 12 and 6 PM Central, head over to Twitter and tweet something with #PickUpPitch to help us get it trending! )

(Bonus: A gif of Rob the Camera Guy in case people aren’t as intrigued by him as we are and have forgotten who he is.)

image

read on ao3

“Rob,” came the crackling voice of his producer Max over the headset, disapproval dripping off the short syllable.

He knew what was coming, and wasn’t eager to hear it. Still, he had to reply. That was his boss. 

“Yeah?” he asked, checking the frame of his shot through the viewfinder. 

Perfect. Just what he wanted.

“You know there’s a game on, yeah?” 

“Yep.”

“Then will you quit it with the B-roll of Baker and Lawson? We’ve got enough to last us through next century.”

Rob frowned and wondered how someone who’d gone to journalism school and therefore learned how to sniff out a story could be so blind to what was right in front of him. 

(What was right in front of him was the smoldering chemistry between Mike Lawson and Ginny Baker.)

“Listen,” he began, absently refocusing his lens to catch the way Ginny’s smile spread at something Lawson muttered beside her. She nudged him with her shoulder and he rolled his eyes, but Rob caught the way the Padres captain fought against a smile of his own. 

“No, you listen!” Max hissed over the headset. “There are only so many excuses I can give the network for not having good footage from first base. And none of those excuses involve your theories.”

Light snickering came over the connection, probably from one of the other camera operators who thought that he was full of it.

But they didn’t have the same vantage point that he did.

They hadn’t seen the way Ginny Baker went from anxious and uncertain to assured and unflappable, both on the field and in the dugout. They hadn’t watched her win over her teammates while racking up wins that first season. 

The certainly hadn’t witnessed her captain’s grudging acceptance of her presence shift and evolve into respect, friendship and even, sometimes, awe.

Which meant they didn’t have front row tickets to the Baker and Lawson Show the past season and a half. They hadn’t seen practically every hip check and cracked joke, every quiet moment between innings, every lingering look and gleeful celebration after a win. 

After all that, Rob knew that Baker and Lawson were more than just teammates, even if they didn’t quite know what else they were, either. His teenage daughter agreed with him and she didn’t agree with him about anything.

Unfortunately, the majority of his coworkers did not. To them, Ginny Baker was a pretty girl who’d overcome a lot, and would certainly go down in history, but she wasn’t quite real. Which was all the better for TV.  

Rob wasn’t about to risk his job just to prove them wrong. Even if it would feel really good and they’d all owe him beers from now into eternity.

So, he sighed and turned his camera back to the field, ignoring the way Lawson’s whole leg was pressed against Baker’s and had been for the past ten minutes.


As had become tradition every time Max blew his lid at Rob for getting distracted during a game, he bought the camera crew a couple rounds of drinks afterward. It wasn’t like he didn’t know he was supposed to be filming the game, but after years of shooting baseball, he’d seen it all. Diving catches, stand up homers, pitcher’s duels. It was all impressive and thrilling and Rob knew there were people who’d kill for a job like his, but none of it was new.

But whatever was going on between Baker and Lawson? That was some never-before-seen shit, right there.

He’d mostly given up on convincing any of his coworkers, though his wallet was taking quite the hit from all these post-game drinks.

Maybe it’d help to stop following the team to whatever swanky new bar they’d decided to overrun for the night. Apparently, free drinks for the hometown heroes only applied to the people who’d actually been on the field. Never mind the guys who made sure the people at home had something to watch.

He dropped off the last round for the few stragglers remaining at the end of the night, intending to head home after hitting the bathroom. A night of drinking’ll do that to a guy.

Before he could hit the head, though, Rob had to find his way there. Wandering the back hallways, thinking that this wouldn’t happen in a normal bar, he was distracted from his goal. 

At the sight in front of him, he froze for just a second before practically diving back around the corner he’d just turned.

Holy fucking shit.

Carefully, not wanting to catch their attention and feeling more like a creep than he ever had behind his camera during a game, Rob chanced a peek around the corner.

Pressed between the wall and Mike Lawson’s broad chest, Ginny Baker grinned teasingly up at her rock. 

Or was he the hard place? 

Her arms draped over his shoulders, one hand idly playing with the hair at the base of his neck. She waggled her eyebrows at Mike when he leaned into the touch, a soft groan echoing down the hallway.

“You still think we should stay, Lawson?” Ginny teased, teeth flashing as her grin widened. 

“You don’t play fair, rookie,” he returned, somehow crowding further into her space.

“Off the field I don’t. What’s the point? You want me to win, too.”

“You’ve got me there,” Mike replied.

In spite of his years of experience watching the man, Rob had never seen the Padres captain look so happy. 

Judging by the way he leaned down and laid a kiss against Ginny Baker’s waiting mouth, Rob figured Lawson had every reason to be pretty fucking ecstatic.

Withdrawing from the corner and turning back the way he came, Rob couldn’t help his little fist pump of celebration.

He was right, god damn it! This was what vindication felt like. 

Before victory could really settle, a sobering thought weaseled its way in.

He might be right, but who the hell was going to believe him?

need to dress accordingly – pt. 2

pt 1. | pt. 2 (ao3)

Someday, Ginny would know better than to try and keep secrets from Evelyn. Especially an Evelyn riding a tequila buzz and still somehow thirsty. Thirsty for vivid, electrifying details, at least. 

“What’d he say?” she squealed again, leaning into Ginny’s space, eyes wide and eager. 

Ginny laughed, riding a tequila buzz of her own. “How many times do I need to tell you?” she hedged, happy enough to share this with Evelyn, but still feeling a little shy. 

“Fine, fine,” Ev agreed, turning back to her drink. The last of the night. She even managed to rein in her enthusiasm. For about a minute. “Just tell me how he said it. Did it make you shiver? All rough and rumbly? How close did he get? Could you feel the beard on your cheek?”

“Oh my God.”

“Ginny,” Ev whined. “C’mon, this is a girl’s night! That includes dirty details. And since you have made it very clear you don’t wanna hear about what Blip and I get up to—”

Ginny gagged, squeezing her eyes shut like it would keep her from picturing the scant details that Ev has managed to impart in the past.

Evelyn swatted at her with the back of her hand. “There are people that would pay to see me and Blip make magic,” she pouted. 

“Sure, Ev, sure.”

Evelyn rolled her eyes, but when she focused on Ginny again, all that lightness and laughter settled into frank curiosity. 

“So, what are you going to do?”

Ginny’s eyes traced over to the VIP section. While she and Evelyn had been gossiping, it seemed the guys had already left; the gauzy curtains partitioning the area off were open, revealing a room filled with empty beer bottles, but no Padres. 

The twist in her gut at the absence made up Ginny’s mind for her. 

Knocking back the last of her drink—her mind was made up, but liquid courage never hurt—Ginny said, “I think I’ve got a conversation to finish.”


Ginny did not stumble her way up the stairs to Mike’s front door. 

Yes, she was a little giggly, Evelyn having convinced her to take one last shot for the road. And yes, she had to hold more tightly to the railing than she might have otherwise, but her feet remained solidly under her the whole way.

Maybe if she hadn’t been concentrating quite so hard on navigating the concrete stairs, she would have noticed. 

Noticed that Mike was definitely not at home. 

Not a single one of the many windows leaked any light into the evening. They all stood, dark and blank. 

Which Ginny only noticed after ringing the bell three times, waiting impatiently to be let in. 

She stepped back to glare up at the empty house, like it had done her wrong. 

Where the fuck was he?

Right on cue, Ginny’s phone began to vibrate in the pocket of her jacket. 

“Where are you?” she answered without preamble, leaning her forehead against the door.

“Funny, I was going to ask you the same thing.”

“Well, I’m standing outside your house.”

There was a long silence before Mike breathed, “Shit.” Ginny giggled, but Mike just cursed again. “Fuck. Are you serious?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Christ. I’m at the Omni.”

Her giggles turned into a full blown guffaw, long and loud. Even over her mirth, Ginny could practically hear Mike’s annoyed grimace.

“Well, I’m not leaving,” she informed him. “Even if I could.”

“And why can’t you?” he asked, amusement brightening his tone. Faintly, she heard the ding of the elevator.

“My ride already left,” she sighed, spinning so she could lean back against the door. Putting so much pressure on her forehead was giving her a headache.

Mike cursed. “You’re gonna freeze, Gin.”

She frowned at that. It was pretty chilly, now that she thought about it. A shiver shuddered through her body right on cue. She hunched into the motorcycle jacket she’d stolen from Ev at some point. It was cute, but not very warm.

“Listen,” he instructed, “there’s a spare key hidden under one of the potted plants. Just let yourself in so I don’t have to worry about finding a human popsicle when I get back.”

Even still slightly tipsy, Ginny bit back the retort about letting him warm her up. Instead, she managed to shift one of the oversized planters without spilling too much dirt and revealed a key, just as he’d promised.

“Got it,” she huffed triumphantly.

The echo-y beep of his car doors unlocking drifted down the line. “Good,” Mike replied, his smile evident in his voice. It made Ginny warm all over. Not that she wasn’t still going to go inside. Miss out on a chance to snoop around Casa Lawson? Yeah, right. “I’ll be home soon.”

A goofy, totally undeserved smile spread across her face. She knew that he meant he’d be back to his home, but the way he’d said it— It sounded like he was coming home to her.

“I’ll be waiting,” she promised, as if it even needed to be said.

A soft sigh came down the line and Ginny wanted to remember that sound forever. The sound of expectation and relief and something so much more all in one breath. 

“Soon,” he promised.


Much as she would like to say that she went exploring in Mike’s fishbowl house, unearthed all his secrets, the tequila in Ginny’s bloodstream had other ideas. Once she toed off her too-tall heels, and dropped her jacket on the back of a chair, the couch called her name. 

She dropped onto the deceptively comfortable cushions, the silky material of her dress pooling around her thighs. 

Ginny told herself she’d just close her eyes for a moment, collect her composure for what was about to happen. 

The next thing she knew, a weight settled on the cushion near her stomach, a warm touch skating across her cheek. She stirred, leaning into the touch like a cat into the sun. A soft hum escaped her mouth and there was a responding chuckle.

“Wake up, Gin,” came a quiet, familiar voice, far gentler than she was used to hearing. 

She hummed again and rolled from her side to her back, the wrap skirt on her dress falling nearly open. When she finally let her eyes flutter open to take in Mike perched on the edge of the cushion, Ginny smiled sleepily up at him. 

“I’m awake,” she murmured, stretching languidly and enjoying the burn of his attention along her body.

“You dream of anything?”

Ginny blinked, the words filtering in with the memory of the wistfulness on his face when she’d said, “In your dreams, old man.”

She sat up, but Mike didn’t move an inch, so when she was upright, their chests nearly touched, breath mingling. It wasn’t so far to look up to make eye contact, but Ginny felt every inch of the space between them. 

“No,” she breathed, knowing she didn’t imagine the flicker of disappointment in his eyes. He looked away, but when Ginny laid her hand over his, threading their fingers together. “I didn’t have to, though. I knew you’d be here soon.”

The smile that spread out under that so-familiar beard was enough to light Ginny up from the inside out. She beamed back at him, tightening her grip on him. He tugged their connected hands up to his lips, brushing a soft kiss to the back of hers. Impulsively, Ginny leaned forward to do the same to his. She kept her eyes open and so did he, so they stared into one another’s eyes until they finally pulled back. 

Ginny giggled a little, suddenly overtaken by embarrassment. Mike’s thumb rubbed soothingly across the back of her hand until Ginny would meet his gaze again. 

“I’m glad you’re here,” he murmured. “But can I ask why?”

“Why’d you go to the Omni?” she replied, quirking her eyebrow.

“Fair enough,” he chuckled, leaning away and leaving Ginny cold. At least he hadn’t let go of her hand, yet. “I know we weren’t going to talk about… this while we’re teammates, but this didn’t feel like something we could just let lie, y’know?”

“I know.”

He nodded, slow and thoughtful. His free hand was fiddling with the hem of her skirt, close enough that she could feel the heat of his fingertips even if they never brushed against her skin.

“I do dream about you.” Mike’s admission was hushed even in the echo chamber that was his house. So many windows to reflect back every sight and sound. This, though, simply hung in the air, waiting breathlessly for Ginny’s response.

“And what do you dream about?” She wasn’t worried he’d tell her about nights he woke up hard and aching for her, though there was definitely a part of her that hoped it was true. Especially considering how many nights she’d woken with his name a gasp on her lips.

“This. About you being here with me at the end of the day. Of getting to wake you up and the look on your face when I’m the first thing you see.” Ginny couldn’t look away, not even when a wicked grin stole over his perfect mouth. “I dream about how much you love the beard.”

He didn’t look at all put out by her bright peal of laughter. She rocked forward and her forehead ran up against the warm bulk of his shoulder. “So I was right?” she demanded, delighted beyond comprehension. 

“Don’t get used to it,” he grumbled, though Ginny could hear the fondness tugging up on the words. 

His hand settled on her back, toying with the thin sash holding her dress closed. Ginny curled closer to him, letting her forehead fall into the crook of his neck. 

“Can I stay?”

“Yes,” he agreed, immediate. Then, “Are you sure?”

Ginny smiled and turned her face into him, a soft nuzzle. Mike loosed his breath in a slightly ragged exhale, his cheek resting against her temple.

“As sure as I am about anything,” she said. “That good enough for you?”

Sighing like it was some enormous burden, he replied, “I’ll take it.”

Ginny laughed and finally untangled herself from him. Swinging her legs off the couch, she reveled in the slither of cool silk against her skin and the heated trail of Mike’s gaze. Lip tugged between her teeth, she pushed to her feet and looked down at him. It took a long beat for Mike’s gaze to meet hers, trailing up from her thighs, over the dip of her waist, and through the shadow between her breasts. 

“Come on, Lawson,” she said when his eyes were finally focused on her face, holding a hand out to him. “Take me to bed.”

His eyebrows rose at that, a smirk lighting him up. “To bed, huh?”

Ginny rolled her eyes, annoyed that she’d walked straight into that one. Waspish, she snarked, “Unless you’re into girls falling asleep in the middle, then I’m gonna say no, superstar.”

Her point was punctuated by a jaw-cracking yawn, which finally got Mike on his feet. His hand in hers, he tugged a little and Ginny stumbled toward him. 

“Yeah, you’re definitely going to want to be awake for that,” he promised, right in Ginny’s ear. 

She laughed to cover her shiver, though the goosebumps that broke over her arms and chest probably gave her away. Still, her hands smoothed up and over his shoulders, admiring the firm play of muscle beneath his shirt. 

“You should probably let me get some sleep, then,” she teased, tilting her face up to him. 

Mike hummed in thought, looking down at her. “I will. But first.”

His big, powerful hand came up and somehow cradled her chin so sweetly, so tenderly. He lifted it into the air until he could lean down and slant his mouth perfectly over hers. 

They sighed together, Ginny’s arms wrapping around Mike’s neck and the calluses on Mike’s free hand catching against the smooth fabric of Ginny’s dress. They pressed close to one another, like touching as much of the other as possible would keep the world and reality out of this thing between them. They pulled away, lips soft and reluctant to part. 

Still, they smiled. It was just the next of many to come, but it felt significant all the same. When they took each other’s hands again, climbed the stairs, undressed each other, and fell into bed and then into sleep, those smiles still hadn’t faded.