Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and I don't make any money off of them.
A/N: Thanks as always to ritt, the world's best beta and sounding board!
Don Eppes stood before his team and tried to ignore the looks he knew they were giving him. He kept his gaze focused on the ground, not wanting to meet their eyes and see the disappointment he knew resided there. He wished he could have the last few minutes to do over. Maybe even the last few days – anything to be able to change the outcome his team had just experienced.
Just. That was a good word. Any one of a number of 'justs' could mean his team would be smiling and laughing, feeling victorious after all of their hard work.
Just a little bit longer in the weight room. Just a few more reps on the bench press. Just a little more strength. But he hadn't been strong enough and Don knew that was why his team had failed. He'd been almost strong enough and – as he'd often chanted as a child – 'almost' only counted in horseshoes and hand grenades. And this was neither.
Of course even the strongest man in the world can fail if he doesn't have good judgment skills to succeed. Don wondered if that had been his downfall. Maybe he should have been just a little more patient. He always said the best offense was a good defense. Perhaps he shouldn't have made his move when he had. Or, maybe he'd been too slow to respond. Maybe he should have been just a little more aggressive. For all of his talk of being cautious and well-prepared for any situation, Don also knew you couldn't sit by and wait for opportunity to find you.
Don clenched his fists as he realized that his team was probably still staring at him, as if waiting for him to spout of some positive statement about what had happened. Deciding it was time to face the music, he looked up and was surprised to see that none of his team was even looking at him. Instead they were all gathered around his brother's car, drinking beer and recounting the highlights of the past hour and a half. Puzzled, Don wandered over to join them and forced a smile to his face as Charlie thrust a beer into his hand.
"I gotta tell you, bro," Charlie managed through a fit of laughter. "You have got to learn to lay off the low, outside pitches."
"He's right, Don," David agreed. "I mean, you only missed putting it over the fence by a couple of inches."
Don was baffled by their nonchalant attitudes. After all, he had been the one to get the third out with bases loaded to lose the game. "You're not upset with me?"
"Why would we be?" Megan asked with a shrug. "You did the best you could. We all did."
"Those DEA boys will never let us live this down," Don pointed out.
David shook his head and grinned. "It's their first ever time winning the league and our first time not winning it. Let them enjoy a little boasting." David winked. "It'll make it all the more sweet next year when we kick their butts."
Don finally broke into a smile, realizing that no one had been disappointed in him except himself. "Sounds like a plan." He held out his beer for a toast. "To winning the league next year."
"Sounds fine to me," Charlie beamed.
Don nodded. "Just fine."