"Baker, did you leave your hotel room open?"
“They’re walking down the hall of the hotel, her raspy laughter echoing off the walls, leftover pizza in her hand and a smile on her face.
“What?” She asks, walking behind Mike having fallen behind when he’d admitted he liked to drink milk with his pizza, the distaste on her face having turned into a fit of giggles to his frowning grin.
“Your door is open,” he says, completely serious, holding out his arm for her to stop behind him.
She freezes, backing herself up against the wall, as he makes his way to the doorframe, checking to see if anyone is in there. Her hands start to sweat, the box of food feeling heavy to her all of a sudden. The once steady beat of her heart begins to pound, as if a jackhammer is in the chest, beads of sweat forming on her chest.
His voice doesn’t even register until he’s hovering over her, having sunk to the ground at some point. He’s kneeling with a groan as his knees crack, but his hands come to rest on her knees, her sad, pleading eyes begging him to help.
“Ginny,” he says, calmly, but his eyes suggest to her her current state is one he’s unaccustomed to. The invasion not only of her open doored hotel room, but the vulnerability in the breakdown she was having.
Her hand is on her chest, having abandoned the box, pushing tightly against the bone, trying to contain the erratic beating that pulses in her ears.
“Breathe, Gin. In,” he mimics, breathing along with her. “Out. There you go,” he coaches, keeping in time with the steady weight of his hands.
They stay there for several minutes, breathing in time with each other, his heavy breath, and her faint gasps, steadying to one single, strong exhale, her heart eventually syncopating with his own to where she no longer feels the panic coursing through her.
“You okay?” He asks, having never moved from in front of her, his palms balancing his weight on her knees.
She nods, not trusting her voice in that moment.
His hand hesitantly reaches out, as if debating with itself before pushing the fallen curls out of her face, and collapsing into a sit.
“Hope you didn’t hurt your knees, old man,” she rasps out with a sad smile.
“Eh,” he smirks. “These old bones can take a beating.”
“Good to know,” she sighs.
“So uhh, your hotel,” he motions with his thumb to the door next to them on the wall.
“How bad is it?” She cringes, waiting to hear everything she owns is gone.
“It doesn’t appear anything is gone, you probably just forgot to close your door…”
“Wait, really?” She says, moving to stand up, wobbly legs underneath have her leaning on the wall.
“You should probably check yourself, but it doesn’t seem like anything was touched,” he reassures her.
“So I just…great,” she sighs, bringing her forehead to the wall in frustration.
“Does that happen often?” He asks, slowly moving to stand with her. “The panic attacks, I mean.”
“Why? You think they make me weak?” She immediately becomes defensive, wrapping herself up in her hoodie.
“Nope,” he admits with a grin, stroking his beard. “Shit, if anything, I think you’re even stronger for dealing with that along with everything else.”
His statement, has her balking for a second, before a dimpled smile peeks out.
“You’re human, Baker. I never thought otherwise.”
This time when her heart starts beating erratically, she knows it’s not so much panic, but the heat from her cheeks at a sentiment that she was inevitably falling further for the guy who always seemed to be there for her in one way or another.
“Thanks,” she says with a shrug. “But I still think you’re weird for drinking milk with pizza,” she says with a visible cringe.
“I had beer with my pizza,” he challenges.
“But if you were home, eating pizza by yourself…” she baits.
“By myself, where I wouldn’t have to hear you talk shit about it, yeah, I’d have milk,” he admits.
“See, that. That’s not right,” she says, bumping his shoulder.
“Just grab your pizza and get in here,” he motions towards the abandoned box.
He stands in the doorway waiting for her, and as she passes she stops, meeting his eyes.
“But really, thank you,” she says with a bite of her lip, then walks by him into the hotel, and he follows her in, locking the door behind him.