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I Feel Overjoyed

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“Mhhm, ok, give me 'nother one.“

“Wait, no, you got this all wrong, rookie.”

“What do you mean? I put it right where you said.”

“The green one goes on the white branch so it sticks out more. And the snowman goes at the very top so it’s closer to the star.”

“Mike, seriously? Just give me the next damn ornament. I don’t have the whole day. I have to go pick up your suit.”

“Well I could have hung them all myself, you know. Would’ve done a better job...”

“Oh, yeah? With your torn ACL? I highly doubt it, old man.”

“Well I could’ve. And look at that baseball! It’s supposed to be next to my figurine.”

“I still can’t believe you have a Christmas ornament of yourself. Al definitely wasn’t wrong when he said you were a diva.”

“Al said that? Remind me to have a talk with him.”

“Is this ok?”

“Wait, move over. I can’t see. No, no no! It should be reindeer, red ball, silver then white, not reindeer, red, white and blue. Baker are you messing with me on purpose?”

“If you continue this way I might just leave you to fend for yourself. What does it matter how the ornaments are arranged? I happen to like it this way.”

“Well, I don’t. I don’t want it to be half bare.”

“It’s just a Christmas tree.”

“You don’t understand! It’s not just a Christmas tree, Baker!”

“...”

“It’s our first joint Christmas tree. I just want it to be perfect.”

“Mike...”

“Growing up, I... We never stuck around one place long enough to celebrate Christmas like normal families would. Every year, just around Christmas, my mom would decide we had to move, and so we would just pack our basic belonging, up and leave wherever it was we were staying at that point. I never felt that spirit of holidays. And I never got any presents because mom usually ran out of money by then. When I married Rachel... For the first time, I felt like I had family, ya know? Like, I had someone to actually celebrate this holiday with. We would decorate the tree together, she would hang these things all over our house. Looked like a damn Santa’s village, if you ask me. It was good while it lasted. And I was happy. After our separation and divorce, I... I kind of stopped celebrating, I haven’t even bought the damn tree since. For the longest time I hated even going out of my house, seeing the city lit up and so damn cheerful while I felt miserable. Blip invited my over a couple of times, but I just couldn’t go. I couldn’t stand to see them all happy, laughing, being family, doing family things. I knew I would feel like a fifth wheel.”

“And now? You don’t feel like that, right?”

“No, because now I get to spend my holidays with you. You’re my family now, Ginny. And... I’m sorry I was being so annoying with this. I just... I want everything to be perfect. Things are going so great for us and I want to have that feeling again. That I’m not alone.”

“That’s because you’re not. Look, I’m sorry you had such a tough childhood. But we’re together now, and we’re going to decorate the hell out of our home, and we’re gonna snuggle and I’ll even sing to you.”

“Hahaha dear god, please, no singing.”

“I don’t want you to ever feel lonely, Mike.”

“I haven’t felt like that in a while, rook. I love you. Thank you for putting up with me.”

“Well, somebody’s gotta do it. I love you too.”

“Now go, put up that star. I want to see how it looks.”

“Liar, you just want to sneak a peek under my dress. ”

“Maybe.”

“Stop grinning! And you’re shaving that road kill off your face.”

“How am I supposed to play Santa then?”

Chapter Text

Ginny’s just finishing up decorating the Padres’ locker room, putting the Merry Christmas sign high above the entrance when Evelyn rushes in, almost knocking her down.


“Sorry! Are you almost done? The kids are all here already!” she’s practically yelling now, looking frantically around the room to check if everything is in perfect order, her locks flying wildly around.


Earlier that day, she had employed Evers, Salvamini, and Duarte to set up a mini Santa’s village in the middle of the room. There was a small Santa’s house to the left that couldn’t possibly fit anyone aside from a couple of kids inside, Santa’s armchair adorned with crimson tartan cover next to it and a whole mountain of presents next to the Christmas tree Oscar and Amelia decorated (because no one refuses Evelyn during the holiday season).


“Yep, I’m done. Is everything Evelyn approved?” Ginny jokes, seeing her friend standing stiffly beside the armchair. Evelyn smiles and some tension visibly leaves her body.


“Yes! Thanks for helping. I know it’s your first year with the Padres and you’re not really familiar with the tradition. You’ve done a great job, the kids are gonna love it,” she casts a glance at her watch before saying “but I have to run and find Mike.”

Ginny frowns slightly.


Was Mike in San Diego? She thought he’d gone with Rachel to Chicago. At least that’s what he told her the last time they spoke. A whole month ago, which, now when she thinks of it, actually seems like a lifetime ago.


She ponders for a few moments why he hasn’t called or at least texted her in all this time. She knows why she hasn’t texted or called him – he was with Rachel and for some reason, after their 'almost kiss', Ginny feels sick to her stomach to even think of Mike and his ex together.


She’s ok with Rachel, really, she is. Ok, maybe not. Maybe she’s developed an ... intolerance towards the woman once she found out she had cheated on Mike. It’s a mild word but one Ginny chooses to use because she thinks her and Mike never had that close of a relationship that would enable her to bad-mouth the woman Mike once loved; still loves.


Which would make their ‘almost kiss’  utterly unimportant, a mistake.


But whatever. The point is he’s in Chicago, he hasn’t made a move to contact her and Ginny doesn’t care. Or at least pretends not to because it’s easier that way than to focus on the gaping wound on her heart and many sleepless nights she spent staring at her phone, checking dozens of times whether her speaker was on properly. She even contemplated her phone had broken but the idea soon fell through when Amelia called.


So, yeah, Ginny accepts Mike doesn’t want anything to do with her, he’s forgotten her already and decides she’s gonna do the same. She’s gonna forget about him too. He moved on, went to another city even, why couldn’t she?

If that’s the case though, why was Evelyn talking about finding Mike?


Ginny mouths to ask her exactly that when a heavy stomp of boots behind her makes her turn and for a moment she forgets how to breathe.


“Make the way for Santa. I’mma need to see that throne of mine.”


He’s here! Mike Lawson is standing in front of her and Ginny is suddenly mute, just looking at him like he’s some sort of an apparition.


“Hi there, rookie. Heard you were in charge of decorations this year,” he looks around the room as if inspecting her work, hands on his hips, before settling his gaze on her, “looks good for your first time.”


Just then Ginny shakes off the fog clouding her mind and responds, still a little awestruck, “Look who we got here, Santa Claus in the flesh,” imitating his first greeting to her.


They stare at each other for a few seconds, seconds in which Ginny’s throat runs dry because, hot damn! Mike is dressed in Santa’s outfit and she thinks she’s never been more turned on by him. Who knew he could rock this grandpa look?


Mike laughs that throaty laugh of his and Ginny can’t help but grin back at him. Hesitantly, her eyes wander behind him, fearing Rachel’s there too. Luckily, she catches no sight of her and relaxes a bit.


“Well, I had to come. I’m the designated Santa Claus for the little Padres.”


“Oh, yeah, makes sense. You practically being a grandpa and all.”


“You making fun of me, rook?”


“No, just thinking how you’ve finally put that hairy thing on your face to good use,” she says, pointing at his probably recently dyed greyish beard that’s totally not doing things to her lower parts. Totally not.


They laugh again and Ginny’s not even aware she’s standing close, too close to him. So close, she can see those little wrinkles round his eyes she loves so much.


“Ginny-” Mike starts, but suddenly Evelyn’s right there breaking their moment, pulling him by the sleeve towards the armchair. She pushes him to sit and he practically falls into the seat mumbling obscenities. He readjusts his hat and settles more comfortably before glancing back at her.


Ginny blushes and, making some silly excuse, leaves the room because she’s not ready to think about him being back just yet; not while she feels her heart pounding in her ears. Her legs carry her to Al’s office and she plops onto the couch, her head in her hands as she tries to get her breathing in control, grinning like a fool.


He’s back!

>>>>>>


The room and the hallway are as crowded as they can be with all the offspring of the Padres’ players, executives, and employees there for the annual gift-giving event. The atmosphere is cosy and pretty loud as everyone waits for Santa to greet them.


“Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas, children! Welcome! It’s good to see you all here again. My helpers here (this year, it’s Eliot and Charlie, of all people) tell me you’ve all been good this year. Now, I’ve got a lot of presents for you guys so what do you say we start?”


The kids cheer in unison, jumping with glee and Mike smiles widely at them, taking his place at his Santa throne.
...


Ginny observes him from behind the giant Olaf cake Evelyn and Tommy’s wife made for the occasion, taking note of his expression.


Mike lifts each child carefully onto his lap and lets them pull at his beard to make sure it’s real. Because, what kind of Santa doesn’t have a real beard, right? He takes time to properly converse with each child, which sometimes lasts more than five minutes. Then, he proceeds to listen to each of their wishes and requests attentively, always complimenting their special attire they wore for this occasion making them giggle. Boys and girls whisper conspiratorially in his ear then blush profusely when he teases them about what they said before arranging his features in a stern expression and whispering something back. The kids always chuckle and nod before kissing his cheek and receiving their presents.
...


His smile never falters, he doesn’t seem in the least tired even though he’s been at it for good three hours and his knees must be killing him right now (she assumes, because she heard him hiss a few times whenever one of the kids would jump in his lap, though he doesn’t let it show). He seems so genuinely happy and something in Ginny melts at the sight, recollecting some of their late night talks when he would open up to her about wanting kids and Rachel never being quite ready to become a parent.


It tugs at her heart, seeing Mike slip into this role so easily because she knows. She knows that’s what he wants, what he has always wanted and what he fears will never have.


Or maybe he will, now that he’s back with Rachel.


Ignoring the bitter taste the thought left in her mouth, Ginny moves past a few parents and yet again hides in Al’s office.
...


It’s almost past seven when Mike walks in, holding the cap in his hand, wincing when trying to sit next to her on the couch.


“I thought you left,” he’s not looking at her, instead he’s twirling the pom-pom, an exhausted sigh leaving his decrepit body.


Ginny squirms in her seat, suddenly hyper aware he’s there, sitting next to her looking as defeated as ever and she searches her brain for something to say to him, something that’s been bugging her for a while now, like why didn’t you call? did you forget about me? However, she bites her tongue before those words leave her lips and answers him instead,

“I knew Evelyn would need help cleaning up. She’s kind of-”


“I left Rachel.”


Ginny’s afraid her eyes will bulge out of her sockets the way she’s gawking at him right now. Her hands are shaking so she tries to hide them under her thighs and school her features.


“Yeah?” she says, because she can’t muster anything else to say.


Mike looks up finally and there’s a glint of despair in his eyes, “Yeah. I realised... I realised it wasn’t going to work. Trying for the second time.”


“Why’s that?” Ginny’s almost afraid to ask because his signature puppy eyes are staring at her, at her soul, the most secret part of her. He’s daring her now to speak up, admit her feelings but she can’t. She can’t let herself be vulnerable again without knowing for certain he came back for good.


“’cause there’s this other girl... one that kind of blows me away. And she spoiled me for everyone else.”


A tear escapes her eye and rolls down her cheek as she full on beams at him, chuckling slightly. He joins in, shifting so he’s completely facing her. He reaches up and brushes the tear off her face, his eyes searching hers before he leans his forehead on hers, inhaling her.


“Please, don’t go,” Ginny chokes out, overwhelmed.


“Never again,” Mike promises.

Chapter Text

“Oh my god!”

“Rookie, I know what you’re gonna say, but hear me out first. I-”

“What the hell, Mike? You didn’t tell me it was going to be this big!”

“Well, it’s not like I could’ve predicted your reaction. So-“

“Oh my god, will it even fit inside?”

“What are you talking about? Of course it will.”

“I don’t see how...”

“Gin, stop looking so scared and help me get it in.”

“Mike-”

“Just move to the side, I’ll push and you be ready on your end.”

“ ‘Key. Wait, I have to stretch first.”

“Oh yeah, good idea. Be careful, please. I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.”

“Cool, go.”

“Ready, babe?”

“Just get on with it!”

...

“You got it?”

“Mmmhm got..it.. oh, it’s so... tight...”

“I know, I know. I’ll make it quick, promise.”

...

“Mike, I...think ...it’s ...stuck.”

“What! No, it’s... not.”

“Yeah... it... is... We’ve been at it for half an hour now.”

“What are we gonna do?”

“This is all your fault! We can’t have it like this! Blip’s gonna come with the twins soon!”

“Okay, just wait a sec ‘till I catch my breath.”

...

“You good now?”

“Yeah. Let me try a different angle.”

...

“Mike, you pushin’?”

“I am!”

“Don’t think so. It’s still stuck, hasn’t moved an inch.”

“Uncle Mike, Ginny!”

“What the hell kind of business you two doin’? Ginny? Where you at, girl?

...

Ginny’s head peeked from underneath a branch, face red and stained with sweat. She looked exhausted and pretty pissed.

“This giant dork decided to buy the largest Christmas tree he could find. And he obviously miscalculated ‘cause now it’s stuck. I can’t get out of the house and we can’t get this damn thing inside!”

Blip shook his head and rolled his eyes, turning to Mike. “Mike, what kind of math they teach ya at school?”

Mike responded in an annoyed tone, looking like he was at wits end. Ginny chuckled and Mike sent her a death glare. “They didn’t. I just thought it would look cool in our living room.”

“Oh man. Boys come here, we gonna help uncle Mike bring the tree in.”

“Next time, old man, I’m coming with you. I’m surprised you haven’t cracked a bone bringing it to the front door.”

“Ha ha, very funny, rook. Now, get to business. It’s cold outside.”

...

“This is all your fault, you know.”

“How is this my fault?”

“You jinxed me! You had to make a comment about my bones and look what you did!”

“Your torn ACL is hardly to be blamed on me. It’s that stupid tree’s fault.”

"..."

"..."

“It hurts, Gin. They say-”

“Sssh. I know, old man, I know. You’re gonna be ok, Mike. I’ll take care of you. We’re gonna get through this.”

Chapter Text

“Mike. Mike. Mike!”

“What!”

“Come on, get up! It’s Christmas!”

“Gin, please...”

“Get up old man. The elderly aren’t suppose to sleep in this late anyway. Get up!”

“Baker! Stop jumping on the bed!”

“I will when you get up. Pleeeeeese. Come on, I want us to open our presents.”

“Just five more minutes.”

“Five, Mike! And I’m counting!”

“Fine, just leave me alone. Geez.”

>>>>>>>>>

When Mike finally got up and made himself decent enough, he wheeled into the living room of the cabin they were renting over the winter, adorned with as many Christmas decorations as Ginny managed to hang on every available surface. Everywhere he looked there were flashes of green, red, white, blue - somehow, Ginny successfully incorporated the Padres ornaments and paraphernalia he insisted they bring with them, with the usual holiday ornaments so that their present home now appeared to be a curious yet weirdly acceptable blend of the two.
As miserable as he had been feeling recently, seeing the effort his girl put into making this holiday special, into creating a cosy atmosphere for both of them, especially considering his current state, he couldn’t help but smile in all honesty and happiness.

Even though she did go overboard a bit and in spite of their arguments regarding the tree and Christmas stockings hanging on the fireplace (“It’s a safety hazard, Baker. A fire waiting to happen!” – “Oh, shut up, Grumpy. Nothing will happen, it’s perfectly safe!”), it all added up to the feeling of contentment blooming in his chest at spending this time of year together.

Ginny rushed to his side once she caught the sight of him from behind the kitchen island. She wore a woollen sweater that matched his which her mom knit for them, something about it being a family thing and him being their family now. However, Mike just tuned out after that first family came out of Janet’s mouth.

It had been a word that had haunted him since his childhood spent in freezing cold apartments and cars, moving from one place to next and only having his mother to lean on. Or not having her, was more accurate. Come to think of it, Mike tried but failed to remember if they had spent one single holiday together as a mother and son, stuffing turkey in their mouths or unwrapping presents or even celebrating 4th of July. There was never any steady quarter they lived in; they were always on the run from something, someone... Mike could never tell the difference.

“Look at you, Lawson, Looking so dashing with your glasses on,” Ginny came behind him and snuggled into his neck, wrapping her arms around him.

“Ginny Baker, did you just compliment me?” he feigned astonishment, chuckling as she kissed his cheek.

“It’s a special occasion. Don’t let it get to your head,” she said, kissing him gently on the lips before wheeling him to the centre of the room, close to the already lit fireplace so he wouldn’t be cold. They settled next to the Christmas tree, and Ginny tucked Mike’s legs in a thick blanket, making sure he was comfortable before sitting on a cushion next to his wheelchair.

Reaching forward she took two of their presents under the tree and handed him one, a sly smile playing on her lips.

“What did you get me?” Mike asked, suspicion in his voice.

Ginny just shrugged, “Oh, just something practical for people of your age...”

“... You got me a flat cap! Unbelievable!”

“Put it on.”

“This... thing, is not going anywhere near my head, rookie. What were you thinking?”

“Oh, come on. You’ve got the glasses, the beard, the cap, the wheelchair.”

“You seem too prepared to send me off to a nursing home. Yeah, not gonna happen. Open yours. But not that one. The other one, by the window.”

Ginny laughed and started unwrapping her present. It was a pretty heavy long slim rectangular cardboard box and she struggled to open it with all the bubble wrap inside of it. When she finally did pull out the content of the box, she let out a sudden scream.

“Mike...”

“I-I hope you’ll like it. It’s just a little something. No biggie. I didn’t know what to get you but I didn’t want it to be something stupid...” Ginny was still silent, not taking her eyes off the present in her hands which made Mike anxious, thinking he really did give her something she did not like. “You don’t- don’t have to take it, you know. I mean, I can get you something else if you don’t like it.”

“Shut up, it’s perfect,” Ginny said through tears. “I love it. Though I wonder where we can hang it.”

The anxiety left Mike’s body at hearing Ginny’s words and he decided to tease her, “We could hang it above our bed, you know. It would be fair: you having my poster above your bed in your teens and me having a painting of you above mine.”

“How many times do I have to tell you, there was no poster above my bed. At least not of you.”

“Keep telling me that but your mom sent me a picture of your room. You even scribbled something on one of the corners but it was too grainy to see. I bet it was Ginny Lawson... Dreaming of me even then, rook.”

“I’m going to have a serious talk with my mom about sending pictures of my room to creepy old men.”

“Hey, I’m not creepy.”

“Asking my mom to take a picture of my room? Totally creepy. Maybe I should call the police. Though they might think you had kidnapped me and taken into the woods-”

“How about we just go back to our presents.”

“Here, I got you another one.”

“What is it this time? I swear Baker, if it’s that cane you saw at that shop-”

“It’s not the cane. Although if I were to buy you a cane, it would be one like House’s. His was pretty cool, with those flames, totally badass.”

“How many layers of wrapping paper did you use? I might have to cut through this with a knife.”

“Stop it. I was nervous.”

“What for? You know you’re a better gift-giver than I am anyway.”

”...”

“...”

“Mike... I-”

“Gin-” he choked, taking the blue and white Padres onsies out of the box. His hand shook as he reached inside for a pair of baby shoes with SD imprint. It took all his willpower to tear his gaze off the baby clothes in his lap and look at Ginny who was positively radiating, her face alight with pure joy as she shifted from one leg to the other.

“I’ve known for a week now, but thought it best to wait and surprise you. Surprise!” the shout came out a bit shaky since Mike was still unresponsive. “You ok, old man? Don’t you go having a heart attack from all the excitement.”

“Gin... I’m gonna be a dad?”

“Yeah, you are. We’re adding another member to our team.”

“...”

“Are you crying, old man?”

“No, you are. It’s just sweat in my eyes. Too damn hot in here.”

“Are you ok with this?” she asked, cupping his cheek and raking her fingers through his beard.

“I’m not ok. I’m... I’m beyond ok. Gin... I think I might pass out. I love you so much.”

“Love you too, grumpy. So, was this worth getting up for?”

“More than worth it.”

 

Onsies  

Chapter Text

Ginny unlocked the front door with shaky hands and dropping her bag on the floor, rushed to the living room, her mind running a hundred miles per hour.

When she had received Mike’s message earlier that day, that said “Come home, now!!!”, she practically ran out of the gym without even changing and begged Blip to drive her home immediately. She couldn’t stop her brain from coming up with worst possible scenarios of what might have happened to either Mike or their baby. Biting her lip, she fidgeted in her seat, barely refraining from yelling at Blip to drive faster, something she never thought she would ever be thinking of saying.

It was hard enough for her to leave her baby and her husband, spend the entire day thinking of them and hating Mike a little every time he snapped a photo of their little joy in whichever cute outfit he managed to dress her in that time and sent it to her. She hated being apart from them, hated missing out on the adventures they were bound to have without her.

So, Mike sending her just this message terrified her. She had never felt this before – this bone chilling fear that was gripping at her heart and slowly suffocating her.

“So, he didn’t even tell you what happened?” Blip asked, interrupting her inner freak-out.

“No, he just texted me to come home, with exclamation marks. Three, Blip! Three exclamation marks!”

“Gin, calm down, I’m sure he’s just exaggerating. He’s still getting used to these dad things.”

“Yeah, but he knows he’s only suppose to use exclamations when there’s an emergency!”

She was yelling now, her whole body a trembling mess. Ginny was bordering on having a panic attack so she stopped talking and willed herself to breathe in and out slowly, eyes clenched, her hand gripping the door handle. She was ready to jump out of the car the moment Blip parked outside her house.

Which was exactly what she did. Blip called after her but to no avail so he just followed suit.

And when she finally got inside and came into the living room, she was greeted by a lovely sight of her husband holding their eleven-month-old daughter dressed in black onesie with her feet on his chest, her baby hands pulling at his long greying beard. He was saying something to her and she was responding in her baby babble, eyes glinting with joy aimed at her papa.

Mike made a sound and the baby chuckled, reaching for his face with her chubby hands, repeating pa,pa.

Ginny let out a breath as she approached them, listening in on their conversation.

“I know, angel, I know. They’re all idiots. What do they know of cuteness and beauty?” this was followed by the baby’s giggle, more incomprehensive gurgling, and Mike’s “Exactly! Don’t worry, you’re always be papa’s favourite girl.”

Ginny stifled a laugh and shaking her head turned to Blip, “Everything’s fine, Blip. You can go.”

He frowned, not understanding in the least the scene before him. “You sure?”

“Yeah, don’t worry. I’ll explain everything later. Thanks for driving me.”

“’key, but call me if you need anything.”

Blip left and Ginny proceeded to the couch keeping her eyes on the baby. As soon as the little girl noticed her momma, she started waggling her legs and babbling in her direction, drool dripping down her chin as she waved her arms towards her repeating ma,ma,ma,ma. Mike turned and grinned at Ginny as she sat beside him, caressing her daughter’s cheek.

“Hey baby, hey. Hi, handsome.”

“Hi,” Mike kissed her cheek then turned his eyes to the baby again, making funny faces at her as she playfully swatted his head struggling to clutch his hair.

“So... I suspect the reason for that message earlier, but I just need to confirm-”

“We lost,” Mike said before she even finished her sentence, pulling the baby closer to his chest, not minding the drool being soaked into his plaid shirt.

“I’m sorry,” Ginny said, stroking his arm.

“I just don’t get it, Gin. I mean, how could we have lost? She’s the cutest baby on this planet.”

“Mike-”

“Look, at her, will you?” Mike adjusted the baby in the crook of his arm, tickling her, eliciting a giggle from the girl. “Just look at this cherubic face, Gin, these dove-like eyes. Ain’t nobody in the world as beautiful as my baby girl.”

Ginny laughed and the baby made a sound which resembled that of her mother, biting at her papa’s shirt and snuggling her face into it as if hiding.

“How could they not like her?” he sounded so defeated like he had indeed lost something important; Ginny felt sorry for him, just a little, until she remembered how silly the reason for this mood was.

It all started two months ago when some smartass on twitter started a “the cutest celebrity baby” contest and someone tagged Charlie; the picture Mike posted just a few days before featured their then-nine-month-old daughter in baby pink onesie and a multicoloured mini turban. Ginny remembered that day – from the shopping trip Mike took Charlie to, about fifty photos he sent of her in various outfits to this last one he took when they got home and shared on twitter and Instagram. Practically overnight, the photo flooded the tabloids, newspapers, social media, garnering thousands of shares, likes, and favourites.

Mike, being a proud father ready to fight anyone claiming his daughter was anything but pure sunshine, gloated in his daughter’s newfound fame. He showcased the pictures of his little princess any chance he got, any place he went. He talked about her all the time to the point of becoming annoying and distracting to his former teammates. Not because they didn’t like Charlie but because Mike never talked about anything else; somehow, any topic they started on, Mike managed to divert to something Charlie did or said (because according to him, she was talking in a language only he understood). Ginny and Al thought it was sweet, but Mike’s fascination with everything and anything Charlie did was fast to transpose itself on all his social media accounts and it wasn’t so hard for him to accept and bask in all the compliments their daughter was receiving, more than when all that attention was aimed at him.

So, when he found out about the contest and that someone nominated Charlie, like any good father, Mike took it upon himself to create a strategy and gather all his followers to vote for Little Miss Sunshine, as she was nicknamed by him the minute he posted the first picture of her on his Instagram. He recruited the guys and every single person tied to the Padres to ensure her first win. He regularly checked her ‘stats’ and judged other celebrities’ babies. Ginny was sure he hadn’t even had a proper night of sleep, putting all his energy into campaigning for Charlie. The whole thing culminated in a few verbal altercations between other too-invested fathers and even some mothers. Mike claimed he wasn’t proud of that, but when it came to his daughter, he pulled no punches.

It was the last week of voting and Charlie was up against Reynolds baby no.3 and Teigen-Legend baby no.2. Mike was so sure of the win he even ordered a cake and announced, albeit too soon, the victory of his little champ and a celebration in her honour.

“What happened exactly?” Ginny asked, drawing her legs up and tucking them under her as she stroked Charlie’s tummy while she slept, patiently waiting for Mike to speak.

“I woke up this morning, fed Charlie then went to twitter to, you know, check what was happening. Someone had already messaged me the news.”

“Who won in the end?”

“John Legend’s kid. Can you imagine!”

Ginny observed her husband, the way he held their baby in his arms like she was the most precious thing in the world, slightly devastated look marring his aging features.

“I’m sorry you two didn’t win. Maybe next time you should take it easy and not get this carried away, ha?” Ginny suggested in a quiet tone, nudging his shoulder with hers.

Mike regarded the babe in his arms with such adoration that it made Ginny’s heart clench, not for the first time. Mike was always so gentle, so attentive with Charlie like he was afraid he would break her.

Letting out a loud sigh of despair, he started, “It’s just... She’s the most wonderful thing I have, the one thing besides baseball and you that makes me want to get up in the morning. And though I love the first two very much,” he smirked slightly, looking at her from under his lashes making her roll her eyes at him and chuckle, then returning his gaze to Charlie, playing with a lock of her hair continued, “ I’ve never know this feeling before. I believe I would do absolutely anything for her. I don’t think I could bear my life without her, now that I know what it feels like to be a dad. She makes my life so much better. Every second I spend with her... I feel like it’s healing me, her smiles, her giggles, whatever she babbles at me. I think that’s why I was so hell bent on winning this stupid thing. I wanted the world to see her as I see her. My perfect little angel.”

At that moment, the baby stirred as if she knew her papa was talking about her, her eyelids fluttering open as she yawned. Mike broke into laughter as Charlie looked up at him and immediately went for his beard, which Ginny knew he kept this long just because he loved her tiny fists grabbing it and playing with it.

“You’re such a sap, old man, smitten by a little girl. Seems like your age is getting to you. You’re getting too emotional and shit,” Ginny joked wanting to lighten the mood. “Besides, who cares what other people think? She’s perfect to us and that’s all that matters.”

Her fist in his shirt, Ginny pulled Mike into a slow kiss then adjusted so Mike could lean his head on chest. Charlie instantly changed her position and crawled up Mike’s chest, settling her head in the crook of his neck, her tiny fist gripping his beard.

“You know, I saw this really cute onesie with a tutu... I think Charlie will look adorable in it.” Mike mumbled before dozing off.

Ginny smiled and pulled a blanket from the armchair, draping it over her little family. She raked her fingers through her baby’s soft curls, listening at her and Mike’s in-sync breathing.

“Mommy loves you Charlie. And your silly papa.”

 

Little Charlie (the pic Mike posted)          Onesie she's wearing in this chapter

Little Charlie                            

Chapter Text

Mike took out a large bowl from the cupboard and put it on the kitchen island. He then walked a short distance to the other side to fetch the ingredients, the rolling pin, mixer, some cookie cutters and a couple of baking pans. Setting it all on the kitchen island, he washed his hands and put on the apron Charlie gave him as a present for Father’s Day, then set out to make Charlie’s favourite cookies.

He loved cooking and baking for his little family. Not only did it bring him so much joy to see his girls’ lips spread into their trademark beams that lit up his world but it also relaxed his tense nerves. Now that he was retired and basically had nothing to do save for occasional guest appearances on different sports news shows which didn’t quite give him the same satisfaction as the game itself, he found something else, aside from his family and baseball, that gave him a sense of purpose.

He put on some music and got to work.

Mike was organised, working slowly, enjoying every part of every task. First, he poured the melted butter and sugar into the bowl and started whisking them together until the butter was all foamy. Next, he cracked a few eggs and added them to the mix, continuing to whisk it then adding some oil, all the while humming to the song on his ipod, even swaying his hips to the music. When he felt the mixture to be to his liking, he proceeded to dump the remaining ingredients, flour, baking powder and some vanilla extract and started mashing it all together until it became a fine dough. He knead the dough some more before taking a smaller portion of it and rolling it out with a rolling pin. He was just about to start cutting the shapes when he heard the door swing open and little feet running towards the kitchen.

Before Mike could even call out for them, Charlie whooshed in, her sneakers making a screechy sound against the floor, her skirt dancing around her knees.

“Papa, papa!”

Mike grinned immediately, a warm feeling spreading in his chest. Somehow he knew he would never stop feeling this elated hearing his daughter, Mike Lawson’s daughter, call him papa. There was something magical in her voice that tugged at every single string of his heart. It has been that way since he heard her cry for the first time, holding her tiny exhausted body in his arms. She had his heart, his soul from that moment on; ‘twas a bond like he hadn’t felt with any other being before.

“Hey pumpkin. Where’s your mama?” he crouched so she could wrap her arms around him, sloppily kissing his cheek. She smelled like sugarcane and grape soda, the front of her dress stained with a few drops. Her sweaty hair was gathered into a bun at the top of her head.

“I’m here, old man. And I’m spent. This daughter of ours has more energy than any kid I’ve  ever seen. And I used to babysit the twins.”

Mike laughed as Ginny wrapped her arms around his middle and kissed his neck then waited for him to turn and gave him a long kiss on the lips. Mike snickered, already knowing why Ginny was so worn out.

“You went to the Lego store again?”

Charlie sat on one side of the island and Ginny on the other, though completely oblivious to what Mike was doing before they came. Her parents had eyes for her alone as Charlie spoke, dimples deep on her face as she couldn’t stop smiling. “Yes, papa! And I saw this roller-coaster ride you can build, and a car, and a princess castle! And look, I built my own Lego figurine!”

Charlie continued talking animatedly while pulling the figurine out of her little crochet purse and leaning over the island to show it to Mike. “See? It even has a lasso and a cowboy hat and aunt Evelyn even bought me a Christmas ball I can build myself so we can put it on our Christmas tree this year! Can we, can we?” she talked 100 miles an hour, and had Mike not been trained by now to understand her fast-talk, he might have missed half of what she had said.

Mike kissed her nose. “Yeah, pumpkin, we sure can. I’m looking forward to setting it.”

Ginny stood up and caressed her cheek before saying “Charlie, honey, let’s go wash our hands and we can come back and talk to daddy. I’m right behind ya.”

The girl jumped down from the chair, and after hugging Mike’s legs once more, and hurried down the hall yelling she would be right back while Ginny and Mike just shook their heads in amusement.

“So, what else did you do today?”

 Mike cleaned his hands then sat on a chair pulling Ginny onto his lap as she leaned her head on his shoulder. She nuzzled her nose into his neck, and Mike tightened his hold on her.

“We went to that amusement park with Evy and the twins, Charlie really liked it there. Then we had lunch and Blip came to take the boys to their practice and we went to the Lego store. I’ve never seen a child more engrossed in play like Charlie.”

“I’m glad you girls had fun. Though, I missed you. Is pretty boring without you guys.”

“Yeah? And what did you do?” asked Ginny, raking her finger through his beard.

“Well, I took a nap-“

Ginny rolled her eyes patting his cheek. “Of course you did, old man.”

Mike shook his head at her words, pinching slightly her hip, “ hey, I do need my beauty sleep. How else would I stay this youthful?”

“Drinking unicorn blood, getting on my nerves with that beard...”

He feigned being offended before taking Ginny’s hand that was on his beard and entwining their fingers. “Still with the beard after all these years, ha, rook? I vividly recollect someone yelling at me the first time I shaved it.”

“That was different and you know it!” Ginny rushed to defend herself, mouth agape, poking a finger in his chest.

“How was it different?” Mike asked, a smile spreading on his face. “Oh you mean, your hand wandering to my face every ten seconds just to feel the beard you didn’t like and was no longer there...” Mike teased, kissing a path down her neck.

He felt Ginny swallow and gasp when he kissed that spot behind her ear, pushing  his hand under her shirt and drawing circles with his finger.

“You look weird without it. I just- just got used to it. Doesn’t mean I-I like it-” she writhed on his lap, adjusting herself further down on his lap and craning her neck to give him better access.

“Well,” Mike continued, whispering softly in her ear, ”if your screaming out my name and blessing my beard whenever we have sex is anything to go by-”

Their little make out session was interrupted by the energetic toddler running into the kitchen calling out for Mike. She had let her hair down so the unruly curls framed her petite face. Her parents let out muffled laughs and kissed briefly before agreeing to continue what they started later.

“Papa, papa! Are you making cookies?” Charlie climbed on her toes to try and see what had escaped her attention before.

Mike stood up and went to wash his hands before grabbing a portion of dough from the bowl and placing it on the island.

“Yeah, pumpkin. Your favourite.”

Charlie’s eyes lit up and she grinned at Mike, twirling in her dress, her hand behind her back. “Can I help?”

Mike nodded and pulled a chair for her to sit on next to him, “Sure. Put on your apron and let mommy tie your hair back.”

Charlie grabbed her apron from the lowest drawer and tied it behind her back before rushing to Ginny to have her tie her hair. Ginny gave her a little kiss before Charlie went to sit next to her papa, climbing the high chair  just as Ginny sat opposite them, watching them work alongside each other.

“Ok, now, what cutter do you want?” Mike asked Charlie after he had rolled out the dough thick enough to fit the cutters.

Charlie bit her lip, taking time to observe all the cutters Mike had previously prepared before making her decision. She pointed to the one closest to Mike “The elephant one.”

Make handed her the cutter and explained how she should place it so that most of the dough got used. Before she started though, her hand still in mid air, she looked up at her mom.

“You won’t make cookies with us?”

Ginny waved her hand, “No, sweetie. Mommy is a known masterchef disaster, I think I’ve already proved that many times. I’ll just watch you two.”

Charlie nodded and went on with her work. After each step, she would look up at Mike to check if she was doing it correctly and not messing up the dough.

“You’re doing great,” Mike would say each time, smiling encouragingly at her.

That’s how they worked for the next hour: Mike would roll out the dough and Charlie would choose the shape she wanted before proceeding with her task  with Mike overseeing her ‘work’ and complimenting her on her skill.

After awhile though, Charlie noticed her dad was silent, no longer making small talk with her. He seemed lost in thought. She put down the cutter, frowning slightly as she called out Mike, “Papa?

“Hmm?” he shook his head and looked at her.

“You ok?”

“ It’s just... there’s dough missing! I could have sworn I made enough for six batches...” he appeared confused, scratching absentmindedly at his beard.

Charlie cocked her head to the side as if thinking before crying out, “Momma!”

Ginny almost jumped off her chair, looking caught in act – her eyes were wide, one side of her face looking chubbier than the other.

“Ginny?”

“Yeah, Mike? Charlie?”

“Did you eat our dough, momma?” her daughter asked her in an accusatory tone, her arms akimbo. For a four-year-old, she look mildly threatening.

“No! Of course not!” she responded, the protrusion on her cheek disappearing.

“Oh yeah?” Mike asked, going around the island, approaching her slowly. “What’s that stuck in your hair?”

Panicky, Ginny started shaking her head and pulling at the strands of her hair that hung in the front. “What! Where?”

“Right... here.” Mike pulled a small lump of dough from her hair, arching his eyebrow at her. Ginny batted her lashes at him.

“That’s.. nothing.”

“Gotcha! Mommy ate our dough!” Charlie yelled scaring them both. She walked around and stood beside Mike in front of Ginny. They both crossed their arms  on their chest, waiting for Ginny to give them an explanation. Ginny just shrugged. “What are we gonna do now, papa? We have to punish mommy somehow. It wasn’t ok she ate our dough.”

“Yeah, momma, not ok at all,” Mike said playfully. Although he had some other forms of punishment in mind, involving some delayed gratification in their bedroom later that night, Mike continued with a PG-rated one. “I think some tickling would be a fair punishment.”

“Yeaaaaah.”

“No Mike! No, ok ok. I ate the dough b-but in my defence... in my defence, it was really good and I was really hungry.”

“Not helping your case, mommy.”

“Ok, ok. Just not the tickling, Charlie, please.”

Before Charlie could reply Mike exclaimed “Tickling it is!” and in a second Ginny was on her feet, running towards the living room, Mike and Charlie right behind her.

Mike caught her around the waist and they both fell onto the couch, Charlie climbing up and starting to tickle Ginny’s stomach.

“No, no! Hahahaha, no, hahaah! No, Charlie, nooo! Old man, stop stop ahahah!”

**********

A few hours later they were sitting at the island, eating the cookies, with both Ginny and Charlie holding cookies in both hands and stuffing their mouths.

“These... are... really... good...” Ginny managed to say in between the bits.

“Yeah,” Mike agreed, “and we would have had more had you not eaten half the dough.”

 “It wasn’t half! Maybe a quarter...”

Charlie and Mike shared a look, obviously not believing a word Ginny said since the evidence was right in front of them.

“Can I decorate with you guys?” Ginny asked wanting to make it up to them.

 “Yes, but only if you promise not to eat anymore cookies,” Mike warned her.

“Pinky promise.”

Mike and Ginny pinky-promised before he kissed her briefly and went about the kitchen, collecting what they needed for decorating them. The second he turned his back on her, he order,

“Charlie, watch her.”

The girl nodded, crossing her arms and settling her watchful gaze on her mom. “On it!”

 

Charlie's apron                       Mike's apron           Charlie's purse                 Cookies :D 

          

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Ginny was in the kitchen, dicing some vegetables for a surprise lunch she wanted to make for Mike who was currently out, running some errands. Charlie was in her playpen in the living room, just across from the kitchen island, meaning Ginny had a perfect view of her baby daughter.

Music was playing in the background, something soothing that didn’t make Charlie too fussy since she was teething and everything irritated her.

Charlie kept babbling something, looking at her mother and Ginny kept cooing at her, wishing she could finish that dish as soon as possible and take her baby in her arms.

“Charlie, momma’s gonna be there in a sec, I just need to-”

Ginny turned for a moment to take some milk from the fridge, and when she turned back, her daughter was gone.

Fear gripped her heart as Ginny stood frozen in the kitchen before she dashed towards the playpen. Charlie wasn’t there, only her pacifier.

“Charlie? Charlie!” Ginny called out for her, looking under the couch, coffee table, behind the glass display containing her and Mike’s awards. “Hey baby, where are you, ha? Did you hide from momma?”

Panic overtook her body and she started shaking. “Chaaaarliiiie!”

There was no answer, not a sound from Charlie.

Ginny spent an hour looking everywhere, searching every room, every corner in the house top to bottom but there was no trace of her daughter.

Doing her best to calm herself, Ginny dialled her husband, hands still trembling.

Mike answered after two rings, his voice chirpy.

“Mike, we have a situation,” Ginny started before he even had a chance of saying anything but hi.

“What’s wrong?”

“I-I can’t find Charlie!” She was crying now, sobbing into the phone while she still went from room to room, rechecking if her daughter appeared anywhere.

Mike sounded tense, Ginny could hear words barely making their way out if his mouth, “What do you mean you can’t find her?”

“I was just doing something in the kitchen, she was in the playpen and I looked away for a moment and she was gone! Mike I looked everywhere. I can’t find her. I can’t find our daughter!”

Ginny was on the verge of nervous breakdown now, her knees giving away under her and she fell on the floor. The one thing that scared her at that moment more than not finding Charlie and god forbid, Charlie getting hurt, was getting an anxiety attack.

By now she was pretty good at managing them with right medication and making an effort not to stress too much about things, especially since Charlie came into their life, but it was exactly the possibility of something happening to Charlie that had her gasping for air now as her throat constricted and her limbs became numb, her phone falling out of her hand.

Through the fog of her mind she could hear Mike’s voice guiding her through the attack, calming her, telling her to breathe slowly, in and out. It took her a few minutes before she was able to breathe normally, but she was barely keeping herself from passing out. Unable to move, Ginny curled her knees up, swaying back and forth as tears ran down her face, her whole body aching.

Mike found her leaning against the guest room’s wall some ten minutes later, her face wet with tears, body still shaking from panic.

“Mike!” she whined, burying her face in the crook of his neck as he wrapped his arms around her, whispering soothingly in her ear.

“Hey, Gin, my Gin, you’re okay. Everything’s ok. Breathe, babe. Come on, breathe.”

She was mumbling something against his skin, but he couldn’t make out what it was until she shifted.

“I can’t find her, Mike,” Ginny was repeating over and over again, her grip on the back on Mike’s neck tightening, fingernails digging into his skin, but he made no protest.

“Okay, calm down first, babe. We’re gonna look for her together. I just need you to calm down. Breathe.”

Obeying him, Ginny concentrated on the steady rise and fall of Mike’s chest, gradually getting her breathing in sync with his. Mike was still whispering in her ear, caressing her hair as tension left Ginny’s body and her sobs waned.

“Thank you.”

“You don’t ever need to thank me, Ginny. I’m always here for you. You feeling better now?”

“A bit, yes. Can we go look for her now, please?”

“Of course. Come on,” he got up and helped her to her feet.

Telling him once more how it all happened, in a calm manner, Mike and Ginny started searching their home again, from the living room, guest rooms, bathrooms until they got to their bedroom.

“You check under the bed, I’ll check the closet,” Mike told her and Ginny nodded, getting on her knees.

Seeing there wasn’t anything under the bed except for dust, Ginny started getting up. It was then that she heard Mike call for her from their walk-in closet.

“You found her?”

Mike nodded, holding a finger to his lips to indicate they needed to be quiet. He pointed at a large box in the corner of his part of the closet that contained his old uniforms.

As Ginny approached, she leaned over the box and almost let out a laugh at the sight of their daughter cocooned in her father’s jerseys, sound asleep and sucking on her thumb.

Wrapping her arms around Mike’s middle, Ginny sighed into his back. “I almost died and the missy here just wanted you.”

“Oh, don’t be so bitter, rookie. I always knew I was going to be her favourite parent,” Mike retorted, entwining his hands with Ginny’s on his stomach, sneaking a peak at their wedding bands with a smile.

“Yeah? We’ll see about that, old man. She’s only nine months old. I’ve got plenty of time to make her like me more.”

“Is that a challenge?” Mike turned to look at her with raised eyebrows, a glint in his eyes.

Ginny snorted, “Please. That would indicate you have a chance.”

“It is a challenge! Game on, Baker. She’ll adore me before she turns one.”

Playfully swatting his arm Ginny hugged him, burying her face in his shirt, “I love you.”

“Love you too, rook,” Mike kissed the top of her head, his palm caressing her back, sending warmth through her body.

“What are we going to do with her?” Ginny asked him after a couple of minutes, returning her gaze to the sleeping beauty in their closet.

Mike huffed out, deliberating for a second before replying, “Well, I think this is the first time she’s sleeping peacefully in days.” When Ginny nodded in acknowledgement, he continued, “How about we leave her there? I’ll just bring the box in the living room and we can watch over her together.”

“Deal.”

They kissed briefly before Mike picked up the box, careful not to wake up Charlie, and followed Ginny to the living room.

Once he set the box on the floor next to the couch, Ginny put Charlie’s favourite blanket over her. Mike and she then settled on the couch, Mike spooning her from behind as Ginny held her hand on her daughter’s belly, feeling her breathing steadily.

“I was so scared,” she confessed, voice low.

Mike kissed her hair, pulling her closer to him. “I know, babe. I was too. But everything’s fine. Charlie’s fine.”

“Yeah.”

“You ok now?” he asked.

One hand entwined with Mike’s, the other on her daughter’s sleeping form, Ginny sighed contently.

“I am.”

Chapter Text

Ginny lay on her side, restlessly huffing every few seconds, her eyes fixed on an outlet on the wall as she viciously chewed on her lip. Her foot tapped against the bed in such a way she feared she’d wake up her husband who had trouble sleeping himself.

Groaning, she rolled onto her other side facing Mike and willed herself to calm her nerves. Closing her eyes, she held onto Mike’s hand splayed on his naked stomach and hoped she would be able to fall asleep.

Tough luck.

Minutes passed and sleep still eluded her, now joined by the grumbling coming from her stomach and her immediate need to pee. Careful not to wake up Mike, Ginny slipped out of the bed and wobbled to the bathroom. After finishing there, instead of going back to bed, she decided to go to the kitchen to try and feed her hunger.

Turning on the lights in the hallway, she padded to the kitchen and started rummaging through the cupboards. When her search yielded no results, much to her disappointment, Ginny moved to the pantry.

Making a huge messed there that Mike would have to clean up tomorrow was fruitless as well.

Still nothing.

Going back to the kitchen, she sat at the counter and started crying, burying her face in her hands.

Her crying must’ve woken up her husband, and in spite of her own sobs filling her ears, Ginny heard his heavy gait coming down the hallway.

“Gin? What’s wrong?” Mike’s voice was laced with sleep, his eyes barely open as he tried to rub the sleep away. His hair stuck up on his head and the sight made her snort amidst her crying.

Mike came behind her, his arms immediately engulfing her in their warmth. Ginny leant the back of her head against his chest, sniffing. “I couldn’t sleep. I’m craving soap.”

 

When she turned her gaze upwards, she saw Mike scrunching his face, looking confused. “Soap?”

Ginny sighed dramatically, hands going up to cover her face. “Yeah. That damn herb, old man! I’m this close to marching into the bathroom and rubbing a bar of soap on my tongue!” Turning in the chair to face Mike, she pursed her lips and almost started whining.

“And you tore apart our house looking for it?” Mike questioned with a glint of teasing as he watched her roll her eyes, cupping her face and kissing her forehead. Ginny smiled when his beard made contact with her skin then let out a content sigh and hugged him around the waist. Her reply was spoken into his shirt which smelt so comfortably like him.

“Well, yeah. It’s not me, you know. It’s the baby.”

Her husband laughed throatily, his teeth shining under the kitchen light.  “You know we don’t keep that stuff. For your sake.” When Ginny whined again, he offered, “Want me to run to the store?”

Batting her lashes, Ginny grinned, “Would you?”

He was already retreating to their bedroom to change when he replied, the sound of his voice echoing the empty hallway bearing some lilt, “Well, anything for baby Lawson.”

“Baker-Lawson!” Ginny yelled back adamantly, getting up to heat some leftover pasta.

*     *     *     *     *

When he returned from the store, Mike had barely any time to take off his sneakers since Ginny all but ran to him and snatched small paper bag out of his hand. It took all her willpower not to just shove the herb right into her mouth. Instead, she took some time washing it as Mike hung his hoodie next to the door. In spite of water running, Ginny managed to hear him mutter something about love and her and hoping this late-night outing would earn him some reward. It made her roll her eyes as usual, since Mike’s nagging and complaining was just a part of his... charm.

Getting back to the plate on the counter, Ginny proceeded to haphazardly tear the tiny leaves into smaller pieces and throw them over the pasta and veggies. Mike plopped on the chair next to her, running his fingers through his beard and laughing at the sight of his wife, shoving a forkful of food in her mouth. “Good?” he inquired, nodding his head towards the plate.

His voice sounded hoarser, breathier than normally; he must’ve ran to the store, Ginny thought and couldn’t help herself but smack a kiss on his check before she took another bite.

“Oh my god, this is better than sex! ‘s so good!”

 “Careful there, rookie. I might get offended.”

Pausing to pick up more of the damn herb, a smug smile tugged at her lips. “Oh, yeah. Sorry. I forgot how fragile your ego is.”

Her husband laughed again and spent the next ten minutes watching her eat, jokingly telling her she could’ve just grated some soap over it, that he didn’t have to go out this late at night. ”You always saw they’re basically the same thing.” Ginny shoved his foot with hers but didn’t speak a word, too busy eating.

*    *    *     *    *

“You full?” Mike asked her after the second serving and when Ginny just nodded in response, too tired to speak, Mike  said, “Come on then,” then took the plate in front of her and carried it to the sink. Then he helped her stand up and guided her to the bedroom, remembering to turn off the light in the hallway.

When he helped Ginny settle under the covers  and he joined her, Ginny snuggled into his chest, mumbling sleepily.

“Thanks, old man. You really know how to make a girl happy.”

“If only I got paid for it,” he huffed out seemingly feeling underappreciated, caressing her back.

Ginny kissed his biceps, eyes closed, barely awake yet smirking at him.

“Shhh, what do you think all that sex is?”