Ginny’s laugh is contagious.
He’s got two dirty plates in his hands, and half a mind still lingering on the front lawn of his father’s house but the other half, well.
It’s just that she’s got a good laugh.
He only realises he’s smiling when his cheeks start to hurt.
(Some days, with his knees and his back, he feels like his whole body is falling apart. But this, this is the rare, good kind of pain.)
“He’s got the album out again, hasn't he?” Evelyn asks, even though he’s sure she already knows. “I love that man, but he has got to find new pictures to show everyone.”
“I think you’re overestimating just how interesting the guy is.”
He helps Evelyn clean up, because it’s easy to do something methodical. Easy to stand in a room and let her do the talking, let the voices waft through the house around him, let this feel like some part of his home. It isn’t, he knows. But at least for a second, when he hears Ginny yell in triumph over beating Blip at a video game, he can pretend.
He’s always been good at that.
He dries his hands once he’s done, and watches Evelyn brush past him to squeeze onto the sofa next to Blip. He’s about to make his excuses and turn towards the door when Blip speaks up.
“Wanna play winner, Lawson?”
“Actually, I think I’m gonna head out,” he says, trying not to think too much about his house. The one with big windows and an open floor plan. The one that feels less and less like a home the longer he spends in places like this.
“What’s wrong, old man? Don’t think you can keep up?” Ginny smirks. It’s close enough to a smile that her dimples dent deep into her cheeks, and in an instant, he’s grabbing the controller out of Blip’s hand.
He barely registers Blip’s, “Hey!” before he’s hunched over on the recliner and ready to win. “You’re on, Baker.”
“You sure you can even press those buttons fast enough?”
Blip and Evelyn’s chorus of Ohhh’s has him scoffing, but then Ginny’s laughing – that full, head thrown back kind – and he can’t help it, he’s grinning, too.
She wins the game, because of course she does. And wins the rematch, too.
He didn’t doubt for a second that he would lose, anyway.
And when she drops the controller like it’s a mic and she’s just made a kickass speech, he waves her off and calls her a cheater, because it’s easy that way.
“I’m glad you called,” Ginny says once they’re both outside, her jacket zipped up halfway and the sleeves a little big on her.
They’d both decided to leave once it was clear that Sanders’ losing streak was clearly making his wife a little more handsier. It’s cute sometimes, he’ll admit, but tonight it’s just a little too much for him.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t really feel like getting takeout.”
Ginny nods once, and then she’s smiling, bumping her shoulder against his, “You played good, Lawson. Not the video game, I mean, you are hideously terrible at Need for Speed.”
He laughs and absently scratches his beard. “It was good teamwork,” he tells her, and he believes it.
“Yeah, we’re a good team.” He knows she means we as in The Padres, but the half of his mind that thinks she’s got a nice laugh, wants to believe that we means them. Lawson and Baker. Captain and rookie. Mike and Ginny. Any way he says it in his head, it sounds good to him.
“Speaking of team,” she says, stopping short in the parking lot, right in front of her car, “thanks for what you did for me, what all of you did.”
“You’re one of us, Baker, and we stick together.” She shoots her head up to look at him, and he knows just how hard she’s been working to be one of the guys, knows that for once he’s said the right thing. She beats herself up too much, but he knows that feeling of never being enough. He cocks his head to the side. “Plus, I’d never say no to any opportunity to get this Greek god body photographed. I really was doing it for the public more than I was for you. They can not be denied of this beauty.”
She rolls her eyes, but they’re full of mirth.
“Come on, Baker, you know you wanted to sneak a peak during that shoot.”
“Oh, please,” she says. “You’ve got way too much hot air in there.” She brings a finger up and taps on the side of his head twice, and then she’s sidestepping him and getting into her car.
He spreads his arms out as he steps out of the way. “You know you want it!”
She rolls the window down and laughs, “In your dreams, Lawson.” He wants to keep that laugh with him. He wants to hear it every morning and every night. He wants it pressed against his lips, and vibrated through his body. “Goodnight,” she calls out before switching her headlights on.
She waits until he calls back a “‘Night, Baker,” of his own before she drives off.
When he gets back to his house, the sound of her laugh echoing in his mind, he forgets pretty much everything else except just that. And for a few moments before he falls asleep, he doesn’t have to pretend hard to imagine how this would feel like if it were a home.