train-ride

I promised to chill tonight but y'all knew that was a lie when I posted it. Spring training starts on Valentine’s Day and it’s gonna be the first time Mike and Ginny have seen each other since their they fled the land of black and white. And neither is sure how to broach speaking to the other. Ginny’s tempted to just put it out there and ask Mike what it means, but she knows her captain. He’s like a toddler standing in the middle of a frozen lake. You couldn’t run to him, couldn’t panic. The only way to save him was to act completely contrary to how you felt. And Mike is just confused. He’s never had an incomplete with a woman. Mike is a man who closes the deal regardless. Except with Ginny. But that’s nothing new. Since he met the bouncy rookie, everything in his life has become different.

Seeing each other is like the first boom of thunder, especially since they nearly collide in the clubhouse, both of them walking with their gazes trained on their phones so there’s plausible deniability to the claim that they’re ignoring each other. There’s a moment of deafening silence that makes them both blush before they choke out hellos. Mike is surprised to hear himself asking if she’s got a minute. She follows him to his locker and Mike can physically feel himself becoming 15 again, red-faced and tongue-tied beneath the gaze of a girl who would eventually give him his first French kiss behind the gym. He opens his bag and digs through it until he finds what he’s looking for. He turns to her, the wrapped bundle in his hands. “I had this made for you when I thought… Before… Here.”

Ginny takes the blue bundle from his hands and looks at his face for what seems like the first time in years. “It’s Valentine’s Day.”

She’s not sure what possesses her to bring it up, or what it has to do with anything since he bought whatever it is months ago. Unless he bought it with the intention of giving it to her as something more than her catcher who’d been traded, as something more in line with the person who had held her face and breathed on her lips so gently that even thinking of it made her spine tingle. He looks surprised then confused then realizes what she’s getting at. “Oh it wasn’t for… It’s just something stupid that I thought would make you laugh.”

She’s not sure what to make of her captain…friend…not friend…buying her a just because present, but she’s curious if for no other reason than their vastly different senses of humor. She tears off the thin tissue wrapping and unfolds the black t-shirt. Across its front in big white letters is the word “Mike-O-Mania”. She’s staring at the shirt when he speaks, “It matches mine.”

She looks up at him and he unzips his jacket. In the same lettering on an identical black shirt is “Ginnsanity”. Her laugh surprises her and soon she’s leaning against his locker, holding her stomach. Mike sags beside her, laughing too, and she’s struck by how good it feels to laugh with him again. Her stomach sufficiently hurting, she nudges him with her elbow. “Thanks.”

Mike shakes his head. “Put it on, rookie.”

Ginny turns her back to him and unzips her Lycra jacket then shimmies out of it. She pulls on the t-shirt, her back warm from more than the clubhouse’s subpar air conditioning, then turns back to Mike. “This is quite the look we’ve got going on, captain.”

“You know how many people wanna be this cool, Baker?”

“I think we’re playing a little fast and loose with the term ‘cool’,” she replies.

“I get you a present on our nation’s day of love and this is the thanks I get? You’re officially out of the Mike-O-Mania fan club, Baker.”

Ginny laughs. “I take it back!”

Mike shakes his head. “It’s too late.”

“I take it back!” She insists. “I’ll even Instagram it.”

It’s only when they’re posing for the picture that he realizes how stupid he’s been for not talking to her all this time. They take the picture and he watches her create and erase a dozen captions before she decides on “#SquadGoals”. She tucks her phone in her bag and they head for the field. He bumps her shoulder with his own. “I’ve missed you, Baker.”

“I know. You’ve probably been hearing my horsey laugh in your dreams.” It’s a joke but he has.“

He laughs. "Big time. I’ve been trying to give myself little feminist talks every day but I just don’t have your knack for it.”

“I’ve discovered it’s really hard to give yourself a backhanded compliment,” she replies then bumps his shoulder with her own. “I’ve missed you too, Lawson.”