This is a WORK IN PROGRESS and things may not mesh up if you are reading this in pieces online. I'll have time in December to make it more reasonable.... I'm only posting this to my journal so only the few of you on my flist will see it... enjoy and do feel free to comment and.... I'll be after fenchurch1 for a real beta when it's done. ::smishes you:: But posting it here will keep me honest and hopefully get it done.
Oh, this probably won't be a real NaNoWriMo to get to 50,000 words. My personal commitment to mini_wrimo is 200 words a day and anything beyond that is a bonus. (Hey! I wrote 200 words with just the intro. Cool!)
To my non-American friends and those that don't know (or care) anything about baseball, you really won't need to know anything about the sport to read the story. But if I do mess up, do ask!
::headdesk:: Almost forgot I also have to do a sga_santa during November so I'll be writing that at the same time. Can't post that for you guys to read, but I'll be posting a notice on word count.... so the baseball AU may be slower than it started out to be......
On with the story. I am such a tease....
"I hear they signed Sheppard."
Rodney listened to Lorne talk in the locker room about the Jacksonville Jumpers newest acquisition after the game -- another loss. Evan Lorne was the team's short stop and had a talent for paying attention and following the rules -- or at least look like he was following the rules, Rodney suspected -- that he managed to get along with just about everyone, including Steven Caldwell the no-nonsense manager. As a result, Lorne often had scuttlebutt long before it was officially announced.
Rodney McKay, the Jumpers star pitcher, looked around the locker room to see the effect of the announcement. Any good news at this point of the season was welcome. A seven game losing streak lay its own gloom on the team and the newest acquisition couldn't make the team morale any worse.
In the league, John Sheppard was known as a 'good jinx'. Teams that signed him on always did well and played well together. Sheppard was a team player, got along with just about everyone and was a skilled catcher. But... the biggest but... the teams he played on always ended up in second place. Sheppard's team just never made it to first place.
At this point, second place would be welcome. Half way through the season, the Jumpers were in last place in their division and going nowhere fast. Luckily, no one else in their division was doing especially well and it would be possible to move up the standings but there needed to be some serious game winning to go with that.
This put Rodney in a major dilemma. He had just talked to his agent, Laura Cadman, last night about shopping him around to see if a team that might be a better contender than the Jumpers might be interested in him....
"Rodney, there aren't many teams that will even look at you, you know," Cadman warned him.
Rodney sighed. "I know... I know..." he agreed. "You have to see what you can do. The Jumpers aren't going anywhere at the moment."
"You've burnt enough bridges that it'll be tough to shop you around at your current salary," she was ruthless. "You may have to take a pay cut to move."
"Make the deal performance based and they'll get their money's worth," Rodney suggested. He was willing to do almost anything to get away from the Jumpers.
"No promises," Cadman answered.
"Do what you can," Rodney had to tell her.
Now with Sheppard signed Rodney might have a chance. Second place was nothing to sneeze at but he also was realistic enough to know he was running out of time. The younger players coming into the league were always looking to knock him down. No one would disagree about Rodney being a brilliant pitcher..... but his inability to get along with most of his team mates made him unpopular in the league. Most players wouldn't talk to him unless it was necessary for the game and some wouldn't talk to him at all. He didn't tolerate stupidity well but intelligence was not one of the requirements necessary to play baseball well.
The Jumpers won their game the next day. The win may or may not have been attributable to John Sheppard but no one talked about it in the locker room that day and the overall mood in the locker room was optimistic.
They heard heels clicking in the locker room as the voices drifted in. ".... sorry that Steven isn't here to show you around but he had some personal errands to run and actually took the day off." Rodney looked up at Teyla Emmagen, the Jumper's trainer, to see the same amazement in her eyes. Elizabeth Weir, the owner of the team, was very hands-off and rarely came into the locker room.
She turned the corner and Rodney saw her and John Sheppard. "Oh, good, I was hoping someone would be here to help John get settled in."
John? Rodney thought.
"John Sheppard," she introduced him, "this is Rodney McKay and Teyla Emmagen."
Teyla nodded, "John and I have met before. Nice to see you again."
Rodney reached out a hand to shake with the other man, "We've played against each other but never really met before."
"McKay," Sheppard drawled. "Nice to finally meet you."
"If he can wait until I am finished with Rodney," Teyla offered, "I can get John settled in."
Sheppard shrugged. "Not a problem," he answered. "I suspect I can find my way around."
Teyla nodded. "We will be about half an hour. Feel free to look around," she nodded toward the locker room in general.
"Thank you both," Ms. Weir seemed to be including Rodney in that. She shook hands with Sheppard, "Let us know if you need anything," and left.
Sheppard stood in the doorway of the training room. "You up to any throwing, McKay?" he asked. "You're in the rotation to pitch tomorrow and I suspect I'll be catching for you."
Rodney hesitated. "I'm supposed to be resting..."
"Half an hour," John negotiated. "Teyla can time us."
"Zelenka will kill me if I work too hard," Rodney countered. Radek Zelenka was the Jumpers' pitching coach and a terror when any of his pitchers went against his training plans.
"We won't work hard," John countered. "Just enough to make sure we're on the same wavelength."
Even Rodney knew when someone was offering to be friendly. "Okay, meet you out in the warm up mound in half an hour?"
"And you will do your cardio workout with John when you are done," Teyla declared firmly.
Rodney rolled his eyes, "Yes, mom." He hated cardio workouts but he knew they had to be done.
John gave them a small salute and wandered out of the room.
Rodney grabbed his glove from his locker and he and Teyla strolled out to the warm up mound at the far end of the stadium. Sheppard jogged out to meet them at the entrance.
"Thanks," Sheppard told Teyla as she handed him a mask. "Wasn't sure if there would be one out here."
"For games, there are," she told him. "But since this is a day off, I brought this from the locker room."
"Would have done without," Sheppard shrugged.
"What! Do you have a death wish?" Rodney countered. "Don't want to mess up that..." he stopped himself from saying pretty face before he totally embarrassed himself.
"Why McKay," Sheppard teased. "Didn't know you cared."
Trying not to blush, not sure he succeeded, Rodney stammered, "Can't have you getting hurt before you even start, can I?'
"Well, when you put it that way," Sheppard grinned. "When you're ready?" he gestured to the mound.
Rodney went to the mound and settled in. He saw Sheppard settle in behind the plate and offer his glove as a target. Rodney threw what would have been a fast ball if he had put any speed into it. Sheppard caught it easily and tossed it back to him then signaled for another.
Suddenly, Teyla's voice cut into his concentration calling, "Time, Rodney. That is enough for today."
Rodney shook his head and became aware of his surroundings. He hadn't zoned out while pitching like that since... since high school. He shook himself.