Her knees ache more than they usually do after her and Mike’s first workout together, but with a little Icy Hot the problem is solved and she puts it out of her mind.
At least until the next morning when she wakes up and her knees are still aching.
When she’s being driven to her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel – the aches get worse and nausea roils in her stomach. She ignores the aches and pretends the nausea is just from her nerves.
The next morning, when she’s in the gym and Mike is settling beside her once more – she forgets about it all. (It’s a trend, she notices over the course of the ensuing week – her pain ebbing away once Mike was near. She blames it on the way he seems to be able to command her entire attention just be walking into the room.)
It’s not until the road trip is over and she’s crumpled on her floor with the worst headache she’s ever had that she realizes this isn’t normal. And god, her knees just keep aching and she wants to vomit and she wants to scream. She feels itchy, like she just wants to crawl out of her own skin because it was too tight and it all just fits wrong. She’s about to call Will or Amelia or the team doctor – but then the pain is starting to fade and the nausea is almost gone. And then there’s a knock on her door.
“This is bullshit,” she hears Mike shout through her door. A sharp spike of panic jolts through her before it’s replaced quickly by a sense of calm.
Ginny opens the door and Mike’s standing there – looking haggard and worn out, there’s sweat on his forehead and his hair is mussed.
“What’s happening?” she asks.
“Oh, just a little bonding,” Mike answers, pushing his way into her apartment. He puts his arm around her shoulders and pulls her close. Instantly she’s filled with relief and she can’t help but sag against him. “It happens sometimes. You’ve never seen it happen between teammates?”
Ginny almost misses the question over the sound of Mike’s heart pounding in her ears. “Yeah,” she says. “I just didn’t think it’d ever happen to me. I’m kept—”
“Apart,” Mike finishes for her. His grip on her tightens. “Yeah, I know.” After a moment’s hesitation, he adds, “I’m sorry. Before you think anything – this isn’t a love bond, rookie. I’ve been through these before. It’s okay. We’ll be okay.”
Ginny chuckles at the thought of some of the guys freaking out over suddenly bonding with their captain. “That must have been fun.”
“Yeah,” Mike says, that one word dripping with sarcasm. Then he’s moving them towards the couch. “I’m gonna lay down, you’re gonna lay next to me, all hands will stay above the waist,” he says with practiced ease.
Ginny doesn’t question it – just does it. They shift around on the couch until they’re both comfortable. It’s not until she’s just on the cusp of falling asleep that she realizes that the warmth she feels isn’t just her own – it contained an echo of Mike’s contentment, too.
She startles awake at the thought – but then Mike puts his lips to the crown of her head and he says something she doesn’t entirely hear but still feels through the bond.
She feels Mike pushing through a sense of safety and sleepiness – and she lets herself fall right into it.