The sound of Mike yelling her name made her look up from where she was stretching on the yoga mat.
She acknowledged him with a nod and then went back to stretching. Their relationship was back to what it once was before her injury and before their ‘almost’. Except not quite the same.
Mike being there for her recovery strengthened the foundation of their relationship into true caring and trust. There was an understanding between them that Ginny had never experienced with anyone else in her adult life.
Noah certainly hadn’t understood why it was so important that she focus all her energy on regaining her career in baseball. He didn’t understand what it was that drove her the way her pop had or how Mike did now. Sure, her dad had started and worked that drive into her since the first moment he saw her throw a baseball but now it was part of her.
So here she and Mike were, with an easy camaraderie once again.
Not quite the same.
She heard him grunt and groan as he fell into the mat next to her and only when she was done with her cooling down exercises did she finally look up at him.
Mike had he grumpy face on so she just dimpled at him until he broke and shook his head in amusement. He settled leaning back on his hands.
“I heard it was your birthday.”
“Hmm, you heard huh.” Ginny pretended to adjust her shoes.
“Yeah I had to cajole it out of a certain someone.” Mike changed his tone to a softer one. “Because apparently its some kid of secret?”
Ginny cleared her throat. “No, not a secret. Just felt like there wasn’t much to celebrate so I didn’t go around mentioning it. You know especially because it was before…” Ginny broke off at the sad look that filled his eyes.
Mike hadn’t been there during her stay at the hospital and surgery and she knew now it was because of the misplaced guilt that made him feel he’d be more helpful out of the way. But Mike had been Ginny’s friend before and she had wanted her friend again, so after another one of her speeches that he seemed to need once in a while, he was staunchly there as encouragement throughout her rehab process.
He was here now and seemingly would be as long as Ginny wanted him by her side. Ginny broke out of her thoughts when Mike spoke again.
“All Evelyn told me was that your birthday already passed but I wasn’t given a date.” Mike’s voice turned up at the end as if asking her to volunteer that information.
“Google couldn’t help you?”
“Actually no. I tried there first.” Ginny laughed at how annoyed he sounded.
“I don’t know if you’ve earned that information.”
“What do you mean ‘earned’” Mike really sounded affronted now which caused Ginny to break out in another fit of giggles but before she could respond he spoke again.
“You know what, I’ll show you earned. I came baring presents.”
Mike pulled out something from his pants pocket and held it in his palm for her to take. The smile that seemed to never leave her lips when she was with Mike froze as she looked at what he offered. It was a wrapped box that was no bigger than her palm when she took it.
“I know you don’t wear jewelry most of the time except for these.” Mike pointed to his own ears to signal the studs Ginny usually wore.
Ginny looked back down at the box and started peeling the paper off the tiny square until the box itself was revealed. It was black with a jeweler’s store name printed on the lid. She slowly took the lid off. Her smile unfroze and deepened until her dimples were in full display when she saw what was inside.
They were another pair of stud earrings approximately the same size as the ones she already owned but instead of plain circles they had a different design on them. Ginny slid her gaze to Mike and then quickly back to her gift.
They were gold, pretty and delicate and she loved them.
Her emotions suddenly overwhelmed her making tears spring to her eyes. She felt both sad and beautiful things in her heart and all those feeling were tied up with this man sitting next to her. Ginny took a second to blink and make sure her eyes were no longer shiny with tears and, after taking a deep breath, turned her head to look at Mike.
She blushed but made herself look at him straight in the eyes.
“Stars?” Ginny asked softly, making sure her voice didn’t reveal more than she wanted.
“Suns actually.” Mike’s voice was carefully casual as he pointed a finger at the earrings, which looked even more delicate next to his thick hands.
Ginny raised her eyebrows in question.
“See how it has a center and then swirls out to the sunbursts?” The description of her pretty new jewelry felt rehearsed coming out of Mike’s mouth so Ginny was pretty sure he was repeating whatever description the salesperson had used when he bought them.
That knowledge made her happy for some reason.
“They’re so pretty. Thank you.” Ginny made sure Mike could see her eyes so he knew she really loved her present.
“Pretty and bright. Like you.” The 'like you' was gruff and abrupt, like he was still fighting to keep the conversation casual, like he was stating a simple fact. Ginny inhaled sharply and lowered her lashes, his gaze suddenly too much.
Mike did that sometimes. Say more than he should. And she would stand too close in acknowledgement, and in a sense, encouragement. But there it would end, these moments isolated in bubbles of time that they eventually had to step out of.
Their relationship wasn’t simple or uncomplicated but it was steady and Ginny was thankful for that. They were friends, best friends. He was her mentor, her companion through her rehabilitation after her elbow injury. Her catcher and teammate, and underneath it all the knowledge of the more that was inevitable. The sense of waiting without being acknowledged out loud.
Mike abruptly stood up (or as abruptly as his perpetually aching knees allowed) and stretched out his hand to help her stand too.
Ginny put her present in her gym bag and hauling it over her shoulder took Mike’s hand and gracefully straightened to her full height (and if Mike took a second too long to let go of her hand well that was between her and Mike).
They started moving out of the Padres’ workout room together. “So do I get to know your birth date now.”
“Uhm, I’ll give you hint. I’m a Scorpio.”
“What! I don’t even get it narrowed down to a month, see if I ever get you a present again. And you love my presents, you just said so.”
“Aw c’mon Old Man, guess and I’ll tell you if you’re right.”
Ginny bumped her arm against his as they walked down the clubhouse hallways thinking how she’d text him her birthday later today so he could put it on his phone calendar, but for now she’d keep teasing him.
Make sure to click on the first visual aid below :D (which was the inspo for this).
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Ginny was lying face down in Mike’s bed wearing only one of his overlong t-shirts when she opened her eyes to look at the clock and noticed Mike had been in the bathroom for a while now.
Usually his showers (when she didn’t join him) were short, five-minute affairs. During the short time she’d started staying over at his place, his morning routine never took this long so you couldn't really blame her for being curious.
She got up to investigate.
The door to the bathroom was half way ajar so she just stepped in and leaned on the wall next to the door. Mike was staring intently at himself in the mirror and didn’t notice the movement at the door.
Ginny took her time to stare at Mike and his bare-ass naked self. She particularly like his lower back and the almost perfectly round curve of his tight ass but before she could get too lost counting the freckles on his back, Ginny moved her gaze to his faze.
At first she thought he was just having a moment of vanity. (She wouldn’t blame him, she got caught off guard by how handsome he was all the time but only told him so on special occasions. Wouldn’t want to inflate his ego.)
But then she noticed the box on the counter. It took Ginny a second but the picture of the bearded man on the front clued her in to why Mike was taking so long to come out of the bathroom.
Ginny started moving towards Mike and that’s when he finally noticed her. He turned around with a deliberate casual air and wrapped his arms around her while she settled her hands on his bare chest.
“Have you been dying your beard this whole time and I just haven’t noticed?”
“No.” His response was too quick and his eyes too wide for her to believe him.
Ginny just raised her eyebrows at him.
“I have not been dying my beard. Its just this small patch on my chin that’s turned lighter than the rest.”
“Fine, it’s turned gray.” He sounded more resigned than anything.
Ginny just hummed and pulled her gaze to his chest, caressing the sparse hair there where she also noticed some graying but decided not to bring that up just now.
“I hope you’re not getting a complex, or that you were trying to hide it from me because turning gray at forty is not a bad deal.” She gave him a pointed look hoping to ease his mind just in case this really was an insecurity of his.
“Yeah it’s not. Except when your girlfriend could start looking for a younger model any day now.”
Ginny brought her gaze up to meet his eyes and was about to get upset for him even thinking something like that when she felt his hands slowly slide down her back to settle on her ass, each hand rounding a globe and pulling her closer, showing her he wasn’t really concerned about any of it.
Ginny decided to tease him anyway as payback.
“You know what, I have noticed the graying now that you mention it.”
“Have you?” Mike took the moment to strengthen his hold on her ass and lift her off her feet, spinning them around until Ginny was sitting on the counter, the cold porcelain against her bare skin making her jump and lean closer to Mike.
“Uhu, why do you think I started stroking your chin so much more often.” She wrapped her legs around his waist as his hands slid up her sides taking her shirt with them until it was bunched around her waist and her bottom half was exposed.
He pulled her tight against him until his torso spread her wide and her bare center was settled against his stomach. She felt sensitive and wet and she knew that he could feel it too.
“Oh, that’s why? I just thought you’d finally admitted to yourself what I knew all long.” Mike settled his face against her neck and rubbed his beard up its length until his mouth reached her ear.
“And what’s that?” Her voice was breathless now, her priorities shifting from teasing him to getting him inside her soon.
Mike pulled back to give her smug smile and she knew what was coming.
“That you love the beard.”
Ginny gave up pretending to care about their current conversation and leaned up to kiss him before one last beard related thought made her pause. She pulled back and looked at Mike’s chin again.
“That stuff is dry now right?”
Mike’s forehead crinkled as he lifted his hand to pass it over his beards once, his expression clearing when he saw no stains on his palm.
“Yup, all good.” He chuckled.
“Good,” Ginny breathed before finally settling her lips on his and licking inside his mouth, her plump lips used to the tickle of his beard by now.
Mike lifted a giggling Ginny from the counter with one arm still around her waist and the other under her ass as he made his way back to his bedroom and onto his bed, Ginny rubbing her face against his beard the entire time. Ginny loved how it made him smile until the apples of his cheeks and the tip of his ears started to blush.
Sigh. What a man.
sorry for the brevity but I really wanted to end it there