Title: Three Strikes
Criminal Minds
Morgan-centric, team - gen
The Annual BAU softball game is in full swing, no puns intended.

Three Strikes

'You ready to get your firm little tooshie kicked, hot stuff?'

Underneath his helmet, Morgan grins. 'Not in a million years, baby girl.' He grips the bat a little bit tighter, eyes not leaving the pitcher's mound. JJ's standing there, ball in hand, engaged in a conversation with the shortstop, some guy from another department who had been brought in to fill the numbers. That's the excuse given, but Morgan's heard rumors that the agent in question had been considered for placement in the Cardinals once upon a time. Granted, they're playing softball, not baseball, but it's still a very interesting coincidence.

'Don't worry, you can treat us to ice-cream when we're basking in the glory of victory,' Garcia goads from behind the catcher's mask. She's just teasing him, he knows. Capitalizing on his competitiveness.

He'd been eying the other team's pre-game practice with interest. The seven years he's been in the Bureau, this is the first annual BAU softball game that hasn't been interrupted by casework. He doubts any of the people on the teams have actually played together before, judging from the disjointed nature of their play. That said, it is exactly the same for his own team; the only player who he actually knows beyond brief nods in the hallway is Hotch.

As he sees Reid approaching, lowering the umpire's mask, Morgan tightens his grip on the bat. Reid knows all sorts of strange facts, like the exact dimensions of the ball, the bat, the bases, and the volume of the right fielder's water bottle.

JJ gives him a grin as she gets ready to pitch, and a second later, he's swinging wildly as the ball passes home plate. 'Strike,' Reid's voice tells him. Damnit Morgan, stop trying too hard.

The second pitch makes a crack as it hits the bat, flying between second and third, right towards the left fielder. The ball makes it to first seconds after he does, Prentiss not even bothering to pause before she tosses the ball back to JJ.

'Just a single, Morgan?' she asks, the amusement evident in her voice. 'You're going to have to work on those guns. Maybe add another thousand push-ups to that early morning routine.'

'I work hard to look this good, princess,' he grins, and she rolls her eyes at him, and almost looks as though she's about to say something, but he's already on the move as the second batter sends the ball bouncing somewhere near center field. Rossi greets him with a nod, and he decides not to continue on to third. Rossi has a different style of mid-game banter, casually mentioning his team's secret weapon, which leads Morgan to raise an eyebrow. He's fairly sure that Rossi's talking about the Cardinals guy, but doesn't have time to really dwell on the issue.

He makes it home on the next hit, sliding in to avoid Garcia's tag. They end up in a tangle of limbs anyway, and for a few minutes, they're both laughing too hard to recover. She takes off her mask to give him a kiss on the cheek as Reid pronounces him safe, and he gives her his trademark smile as he limps slightly back towards the rest of his team. It's half an hour later before he finally gets the chance to realize what Rossi had been going on about. Morgan's standing on the pitcher's mound, watching as the Section Chief makes her way up to the plate. She looks strange wearing these casual clothes, a stark dichotomy to her immaculately pressed skirt-suits.

Prentiss is on second, and some guy from another team whose name he can never remember is on third, and he's entirely unsure how this one is going to play out.

The first pitch is a little wild; it goes just above her shoulders – she ignores it completely, and Reid calls it a ball. He pitches the second ball, and hears the resounding crack, and after that, he can only really watch in stunned silence as the ball sails over his head. Because really, who would have guessed that Erin Strauss, Section Chief from Hell is a former softball champion. He has Garcia look it up later, and the technical analyst tells him that Strauss had been in the WCWS finals almost thirty years prior. Part of him thinks that it's kind of unfair that the other team got both Strauss and the Cardinals guy, but the rest of him is laughing far too much to care.

They lose badly, but he does end up taking the team out for ice-cream – not the softball team, but the team team. Reid orders some concoction with an ungodly amount of chocolate, Hotch somehow manages to avoid being pressured into having any ice cream at all, and Garcia has far too much fun rubbing the stains off his mouth, but it's a good night – a fun night – after a fairly cheerful day, even if they all know that tomorrow they'll have to go back to fighting away the demons.