"Gin," Mike groaned as he nuzzled her neck with his tapered beard and kissed behind her ear. "I've missed you so much."
Mike had been gone for 3 days, off on a trip with his biological father, brother, and nephew. It was a family tradition and now he was family. After his short lived reconciliation with Rachel, he decided to seek out a therapist. It had done wonders for Ginny, even throughout her recovery process, and figured it couldn't do more damage than the last three decades had Taking that step led him to building a relationship with the people he only dreamt of knowing.
Their lips met again and Mike's fingers pulled at the hem of her shirt. Ginny reached to stop his hand before he could remove her clothing.
"Wait," Ginny muttered into his throat.
"What's wrong?" Mike asked, returning his attention to her.
" I want to talk," she answered, hoping to hide her nervousness.
"Can't it wait?! " Mike begged, "Just for one night."
"I need to tell you something important ," her answer came in an uncertain voice.
Mike pulled back, staring at her with troubled brown eyes, and his rookie began to cry. He brushed her hair away from her forehead and smoothed his hand over her hair. Then he slipped one hand to the back of her neck and held her closely to his chest. His lips pressed to her temple, offering a small ounce of comfort.
"I need – I need to tell you something. I'm afraid..." Ginny said, her voice cracking. "I'm afraid you're going to be mad at me...that you're going to hate me ."
Mike cupped her face, tilting it towards him so he could see her eyes. Ginny's heart broke even more as she saw the sheer love he held for her.
"There is nothing in this world you could say or do that would make me hate you, Ginny. Nothing." He stated matter of fact.
"We… I…" Ginny started again, rapidly losing what little courage she had. Mike kissed her forehead, and she took a deep breath yet again.
"Tell me, Gin," Mike urged gently.
She looked away from his eyes; she didn't want to see his reaction. She was barely keeping it together and one more look at him would be her downfall.
It had taken them so long to get to this place as a couple. No exes, no professional personal power imbalances, no self pity. They were both happy and healthy. Living their lives as their best selves and madly in love. Mike having slimmed down drastically, it was amazing what pushing aside beers and grabbing trimmers would do for the scale. Ginny having finally found her footing in spotlight as a public figure and athlete. It wasn't fair that after she fought so hard with him , and herself,she was going to lose him.
His stunned silence acted as fuel to her raging fears.
Her heart was beating faster than it had months prior when he kissed her on field, post their World Series game for the globe go see. That has been a good feeling, but this wasn't it. It was a feeling unfortunately she had become aware of; a feeling Mike usually was able to stop. A fierce ache began ebbing up her chest and grew until it hurt to breathe. Desperately she tried to hold back her tears.
His lack of response was excruciating, and regret began to run through her veins. She shouldn't have told him. It would have simple to schedule the procedure without him knowing, but she did not want to start their future with secrets.
Mike inhaled deeply and sat back on the couch. It only shifted him a few inches away from her, but its significance was unmistakable. Ginny never felt so alone.
Ginny peeked over at him. She was so afraid to see the expression on his face. It would be a reflection of the one she saw in her recent dreams. A hateful look of disdain reserved solely for her.
He wasn't looking at her, though. She couldn't see his face and for that, she was immensely grateful. He held himself rigidly and stared at the wall, as if he was miles away.
Ginny jumped at the sound of his voice when it finally spliced through the silence.
"How?" Mike asked, his voice flat but laced with twinge of sadness. He knew her decision without asking.
Ginny shrugged. This was the question she had been asking herself for almost a week. They always used condoms. Mike was obsessed with them. They could be found in all of his vehicles, every room in his and her place, and every piece of luggage they owned. Plus Ginny took her pill religiously. Maybe this was the universe taunting her for not listening her doctor's suggestion of an IUD. They would have prevented this from happening. "Shit happens."
Mike offered her a nod as he continued to stare at the wall.
Ginny chewed on her lowering lip to stifle the sobs attempting to crawl their way up her throat. She could tell he was already pulling away from her, because he knew what was going to happen, and it hurt. It hurt so deeply. Just when she found her happiness life was snatching it away again.
"Have you made an appointment?" Mike questioned softly. She felt the couch cushions dip as he turned to look at her. His eyes burned into her, but what the revealed was unexpected. There was not angeror hatred but sadness. It was etched onto his face ,and it was then she knew she would have preferred anger.
"No," she whispered lowly. She looked up at him to finally meet his gaze, "No, not yet. I... I ... I had to tell you first."
"Okay," Mike breathed a sigh of relief. He wanted to be there for every move. "Gin, " he reached for her hands, encompassing them in his larger ones, " I don't hate you. I'm not mad at you. I'm here with you all the way."
Mike brought her hands up to his lips, kissing them once, twice, thrice for good measure, but also because it was what she needed. She was the love of his life. He knew her fears; he knew she had been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was a topic they had recently discussed after he set a date for his knee replacement.
Ginny was terrified something would go wrong, and she would lose him. That's what happened in her life.
"How can you not be angry with me? You want kids," she cried, her eyes darting away from his gazed.
She was correct. He did want kids. He wanted kids with her. Little curly haired, brown eyed, tawny skinned children who sang off key and loved the water.
He wanted to be the parent he never had. The one who cheered the loudest at baseball games. The one who prepared homemade cookies for the class. The one who encouraged college as an option. But he did not need it now.
"Gin, look at me," his voice caught somewhere between a request and a command. She shook her head as the tears silently trickled down her face. "Please?" He strained his voice, feeling his own tears threatening to fall as he watched her break.
Slowly she peered up at him. Mike's brow furrowed as he looked at her with concern, but she could see something else lurking in the depths of his eyes. Sadness.
She longed for him to grab her as he often did, pulling her into one of his all consuming bear hugs. She wanted to run her hands down his hard muscles and to know that he belonged to her and she to him. Most of all, Ginny wanted him to hug her so tightly until every fear disappeared.
"I want kids. I want them with you, but not right now," he paused, letting her hands fall from his. He saw a moment of panic flash through her eyes at the sudden lost of physical contact, but soon his hands were cupping her face.
"I've had my career. Cinderella story with Prince Charming sweeping in to save me from myself and give me a ring. I wouldn't dare ask you to give that up. Not now."
"But you're retired. You could stay home with a baby while I work," she rattled off. It was an argument she had been prepared to dispute.
Mike closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. His thumb danced across her cheekbone in an attempt to centre himself. That scenario could work, but it was not best for her. It was not best for them.
"But is that what you want, Rook?"
"No," she shook her head. " I don't want to be pregnant." Even if her career wasn't an issue, she felt too young to be a mother.
" I didn't think so. Your injury had you out half a season. This would put you out at least an entire one barring any complications," he shook his head, not letting the impossible what if creep into his mind.
"You aren't a gimmick , Ginny Baker. You won't be the girl who played two seasons, then became a trivia question at some dive bar in North Carolina. You are a ball player. You will have a long career as a ball player. When the time comes, I'll be in the stands with junior cheering you on. It'll be the baseball version of the Love & Basketball ending, but this isn't an ending."
She knew he was right. She wasn't ready for a baby. She certainly wasn't ready to be off the field again. Everyone was sure she was done after her injury, but she came back better than ever. She was playing lights out ball and the Padres made it to the World Cup. It had been her no hitter that won the game. She wanted that again. She was a ball player. It wasn't something she was ready to give up or to factor motherhood into the equation.
"To be a bit of a narcissist for a moment, I'm definitely not in dad mode yet," Mike attempted to offer levity. He needed her to know he was fully behind her decision. " I have my surgery coming up. Recovery is going to be a bitch. Everyone would call be an ass for being snappy while you grew a human. Can't have that. "
"Plus, there's still a few more pounds for me to shed so I'm back to looking like that strapping fellow hanging on your childhood ceiling."
"I could kick Will's ass for telling you that," Ginny groaned.
"So you've said. And I don't think I've forgotten I have to take you to my favourite breweries. Can't have a baby taking away my precious Rook time. I'm not ready to share you yet. "
With that, she smiled. It was faint, barely reaching her eyes, but it was there.
" I love you."
" I love you too, Gin."
Mike scooped Ginny into his embrace and heard her gasp, though she did not pull away. Her wet cheek brushed against his shirt, as her lean arms wrapped around his torso and clutched him tightly. Mike felt her shoulders shake as she cried.
"Hey what's with the tears now?"
"I don't want you to leave," she whimpered. She looked up at him with big, anxious eyes.
" I'm not going anywhere," he replied, placing a kiss on top of her curls.
" You say that now, but in 9 months when there's no baby..."
"... In 9 months when there's no baby, you and I will be in Maldives or Dubai or Hawaii, enjoying all the things childless people do."
"How can you say that?" Her voice rattled. " I can see how sad you are. You want this baby even if you say you support my decision to have an abortion."
He shook his head. " No. I don't want this baby. I want a baby with you. This weekend with my nephew reinforced that, but it also reminded me that parenting is an all or nothing thing. We aren't there yet. You aren't there yet, Rook, and we know it."
Mike stretched out on the sofa, pulling Ginny down to lay on top of him.
"I can't lie to you and say I'm not sad, because I am. When I heard you say those words to me for first time, it should have been a joyous moment in our lives and this is anything but joyous, Rook. I'll be sad and that's okay. I'll take sadness over you resenting me for emotionally blackmailing you. This is your body. This is the best decision for us. It's the best one for you. I can wait, Gin, as long as you need. I done it all these years, a few more won't send me packing. You're stuck with me."
Ginny loved this man. Anyone else would have had her doubting her decision. Possibly putting her best interest past as women often did, but not Mike. He was her biggest champion. He wanted her to get the Cinderella Story too.
"At least we know your swimmers are working, even after years of poor lifestyle choices," she found it in herself to poke at him, and Mike breathed a sigh of relief. There was his Rook.
"So after I pour my heart out to you, all I get in return is old man joke?" Mike rolled his eyes, letting his fingertips dance across her ticklish spot.
"Dude, I just sobbed all over your shirt. Let me have this moment!" A slight laugh escaped Ginny's lips for the first time in days. She had been worried for nothing. It should have been a no brainer Mike Lawson, her catcher, her Mike of all people would understand.
"Speaking of,I'm sending you my dry cleaning bill. My girlfriend gifted me this shirt and your salty tears and snot have all but ruined it," he proclaimed , tapping his finger to the bridge of her nose.
"There's no snot on your shirt, babe! Ugh, I can't stand you sometimes."
"You love me," he laughed. He pulled her body closer to his.
"And love me," she whispered. She kissed his collarbone.
"Don't you forget it."
They lapsed into an easy silence . Ginny allowing her body to fully relax into his. Mike's hand snaked around her waist,his hand gingerly rested her abdomen,feeling the tight muscle he's become familiar with. Ginny found his free hand, lacing their fingers together.
"Someday you'll be an incredible mother, Rook," he whispered.
"Someday you'll be an incredible father, Old Man," she echoed.