A/N: I have been considering writing more of this story, but if I do, I might just make a sequel or do it whenever I can. I currently have three or four other stories I'm working on, so not much time to do it on top of real life stuff... For now, I think this ending wraps it up nicely, though that's not to say I didn't leave room for a sequel. I always leave room for sequels. In fact, this story being only like 60k words is rather short for me, in my legitimate (aka non fanfiction) novels they often reach about 160k, and that's after revisions and cutting it down... So... that would be a lot of time to put into one fanfiction. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it while it lasted! And yes I realize this chapter is short, it's just an epilogue.
Also yes, I drew the cover photo, though I am not entirely happy with it... :S
10. Extra Innings
It took several, several months before I could finally convince Applejack to get back out on the mound. Not that she didn't want to, the two of us went to watch every single one of our team's games together, no matter how hard it was to watch them lose. Finally though, her arm seemed to have healed up well enough to use and her cast had been off for a while as she built up the strength again.
It was crisp in the early morning, stuffed up with fog that seeped down the road and clung to the trees. Anything in the distance was obscured by the still rolling mist and the air was moistened with the sweet scent of precipitation. The clouds hung low above us and no sun seemed to squeak through, if it had even risen yet. I crouched down over the makeshift home plate, hell everything here at the Apple family farm was makeshift if you ask me. Applejack stood out on the hand-made mound, playing around with her glove on her hand like it didn't fit quite right. Finally she fingered the baseball, feeling the seams around until she got a good grip.
"Come on Applejack, toss it right here. Go ahead." I directed her eagerly, punching my glove right in the palm to show her where to aim. She didn't do as I asked though, she sort of kicked at the dirt a bit and looked around.
"I dunno about this, it still don't feel right." She replied nervously, looking around and trying to stall. I wouldn't bite, though.
"Since when did you become such a wuss?" I shouted with a laugh, watching the way she got all huffy about what I called her, "The doctor said it's all healed up, now give it a shot already before get bored and start drawing nudes of you in the dirt!"
"You're lucky my arm ain't at its best or I'd knock you right off your feet." Applejack warned me from her distant position, but seemed to submit to my demands like usually she did. She planted her feet a bit and watched them settle into the dirt before looking back up at me, ball hidden in her glove. "All right, here goes."
Her wind up was slow and overly careful, I could tell just how little of her muscle she used when she tossed. And I could even tell just how little she expected of herself, how little confidence she had left. I had to stand up and step to the left to catch the ball, and found it rather easy to read. It was nothing like the fastball I had seen when she had stepped up the challenge me so long ago. I tossed the ball up in the air and caught it again, frowning at her.
"Now I know you can do better than that." I told her as I threw it back, my own toss faster and more accurate than her own. She nodded faintly as she caught the ball, looking down at her still weak arm.
"Sorry, I just don't wanna rush it." An excuse was presented, but I did not take it. She got back into her stance as I crouched once more, waving at her to go on. "Here, lemme try it again." Again, the ball flew out, and while it was a bit more accurate, it was slow as all hell. I snatched it out of the air with an aggravated groan.
"What are you, made of glass? You throw like a girl." I shouted at her as I viciously threw the ball back at her, making her reach to catch it.
"Badgerin' me ain't gonna help." Applejack reminded me as she chewed on more excuses, finally deciding to give up on it. I noticed her expression settle into a familiar determined one, and I bent my knees again, "Once more."
She was much more confident and controlled this time, and it seemed like for an instant she did not care if it might hurt her if it meant showing me what was what. The pitch landed perfectly in my glove this time, and even snapped against the worn leather and echoed across the desolate field. I grinned from behind the catch and ripped the ball from my glove, standing abruptly and hurrying up to her with a great big smile on my face.
"Much better, but you're going to have to build up that speed if you want to keep Mac from slugging your ball out into the orchard at the reunion next month." I prodded once more as I slowed, reaching her quickly. She was looking down at her arm and moving it around, "How do you feel?"
"Well, I reckon I'm still standin', and everythin's still movin' okay." Applejack responded as she twisted her wrist around, measuring any pain carefully. She smiled though, pleased at the progress.
"What'd I tell you? You worry too much, A.J." I put my arm around her and patted her on the shoulder twice, holding her close to me.
"And you don't worry enough." Came the retort, but she wanted to push my buttons just the same, "I seem to recall a certain someone who thought she was invincible, thought she could shave a few weeks off with some physical exercise."
"I don't know if I'd call that exercise. Leisure, or play, maybe." I reminded her as my eyes went up and down her body, followed shortly after by my curious and infatuated fingers.
"I think I'd call that one rainbow-headed moron clingin' to my half-naked body and shoutin' about how I play too rough." Applejack chuckled as she messed up my hair a bit, my expression turning to irritable behind my bangs, "You weren't too happy when y'had to explain all that to the emergency room on-call doctor, now were you?"
"Whatever, you loved it." I knew she did, she loved anything that I did to her.
A light pink blush graced her features and she nudged me a bit, "You're crazy."
"You say that like it's a bad thing." I smirked as I pulled her in close, holding her body against mine tightly as I kissed her. It felt better every time I did it, I swear, I could not get enough of her. She chuckled and pushed me away, grabbing the baseball from my mitt and shooing me off.
"Yeah, yeah, get your rear back to the plate, will you?" Applejack told me as she gave me a light smack on my ass, which made me want to turn around and grab her rather than run several yards away, but I did as I was told.
"Looks to me like you may be able to pitch again yet," I told her as I jogged back to the plate, giving her a little show with my body all the while. She rolled her eyes but said nothing, "If spirit counts for anything."
"I dunno if you could cram enough spirit into that trim little body of yours to manage a hit off'a me if I do get pitchin' again, honey." She retorted and I stuck my tongue out at her, finding our playful banter very flirtatious and fun.
"Keep taking big, A.J., once you get your old swing back I'll show you a force to reckon with." I reminded her as I pointed out towards her with my glove, bending down into a squat again. "All right, so your fastball needs a bit of work. We know that." I said with a nod, letting the devious smirk run across my face as I asked something particular of her, "Now, throw me a curveball."
"Curveball, huh?" Applejack returned my smile and let her body become as familiar with her wind up as ever she was before the accident. The fog began to settle around her as a few beams of sunlight stretched out from behind the clouds and trees. I could see her better now, that brilliant blonde hair and those loving eyes gleaming out at me as the mist at her feet parted, preparing to be dispersed as my Applejack moved once more. "I think I can do that."