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Eric’s never had a postgame breakdown of sex before, but he’s not particularly surprised when, before they’ve even caught their breath, Jack says, “Tell me how I can do better.”

“It was perfect,” Eric says, even though he knows that isn’t going to fly.

Jack frowns the way he does when the team gets too complacent after a win. “Nothing is perfect,” he says. “Think harder. What should I do differently next time?”

Eric sighs. “Um, maybe spend a little more time warming me up before you go for the bathing suit area? I really like having my neck kissed, you could do that for a long time before I’d get bored. And...” He pauses to consider how he wants to say this. Jack waits, fully attentive. “I’d appreciate more feedback in the middle of things. I mean, it’s a little hard to tell what you’re enjoying, you know? Let me know when I’m getting it right and when you’re not feeling it.”

Jack nods. “Okay, I’ll work on that,” he says, like he’s planning to start narrating his masturbation sessions as practice.

Eric shakes his head fondly. “Really, it was great. What about you, what do you want me to do different?”

Jack is silent for a moment. “I’ll let you know if I think of anything,” he says eventually.

Eric rolls over onto his elbow and cups Jack’s temple in his hand. “Think harder,” he teases.

Jack pulls him down into a kiss. “It was pretty much perfect,” he admits against Eric’s lips.

Eric instantly, unexpectedly starts getting hard again. “That is not fair!” he objects, and then decides that he has better things to do with his mouth than argue over Jack’s double standards.

This time, Jack keeps murmuring, “That’s good, do that again, yeah, just like that,” and Eric’s dick throbs every time he does.

*

Eric was so sure they could keep all this off the ice. Jack would never let anything get in the way of his hockey, and Eric has plenty of practice pushing attraction to the back of his mind. But after the second time he messes up because of Jack, he knows something has to be done.

Jack, of course, doesn’t understand. “What?” he says with a frown. “You’re thinking about sex during practice?

Eric looks down at the scuffed-up carpet of Jack’s bedroom. “Not all the time. Mostly just when you say, um…” He’s hoping Jack will figure it out and he won’t have to actually articulate it, but no such luck. “When you compliment me,” Eric finishes reluctantly. “I like it too much.”

He glances up. Jack still looks confused. “You mean, like... ‘nice pass, Bittle’?”

Eric’s dick twitches. Gosh darn it. “Yes. And ‘good hustle, Bittle’ and ‘nice deke, Bittle’ and ‘keep it up, just like that.’ You didn’t even call me Bittle that time.”

“Right,” says Jack. “And then you blew a tire on a crossover at three miles an hour.”

Eric folds his arms tightly. “Yes, thank you, that is what happened. So could you maybe just stop saying that stuff? Or at least do it after practice so it doesn’t distract me on the ice.”

“Distract” is apparently the magic word. Jack nods firmly. “Whatever you need to be at your best, Bittle,” he says, in full captain mode.

*

Their game the next day goes smoother than Aretha. In the third period, Eric draws both D toward the half-boards with a fake shot and then delivers a perfect no-look cross-ice pass for Shitty to tap in before the goalie can scramble back into position. It’s a beauty of a play, but Jack doesn’t say anything when he gets back to the bench, just claps him on the shoulder. It’s exactly the right amount of acknowledgement to keep from throwing Eric off his game.

There’s a victory party at the Haus after it’s over. Everyone wants to congratulate Eric and Shitty on the goal, which wound up being the gamewinner, but Jack still says nothing about it. Eric knows he shouldn’t mind, since he’s the one who asked Jack not to give him compliments, but he can’t help wishing for some approval. It’s not like he can flub up the game now.

Then Jack announces that he’s going to bed, and as he’s standing up, he leans in to whisper in Eric’s ear, “That was the most beautiful pass I’ve seen this season, and I’ve been keeping up with highlights from six NHL teams.”

The only thing stopping Eric from chasing right after him and giving them away to the whole Haus is the raging erection everyone would be able to see if he stood up. He sits there fiercely trying to will it away for ten minutes, and doesn’t read the three texts he gets in the interim because he knows they’d just make it worse.

Eventually there’s a brief window of time when Lardo is doing a kegstand and no one is looking in Eric’s direction, so he takes a chance and darts up the stairs. Jack’s room, when he bursts in with his shirt half off, is empty. Eric puts his arm back into his sleeve and checks his phone, then crosses the hall to his own room, where Jack Zimmermann is lying naked and smug in Eric’s bed.

“You are absolutely terrible,” Eric informs him. “Did you really mean it?”

“Of course I meant it,” says Jack. “I don’t say things I don’t mean about hockey. Come here.”

Eric does, leaving a trail of clothes behind him. He crawls under the covers and rests his head on Jack’s bicep, just savoring the warmth and firmness of his body. Jack draws him close and tucks the blankets around both of them, rubbing Eric’s back softly.

“You played so great today,” he whispers. Eric shivers, and Jack squeezes him a little. “I love seeing you take checks and bounce back, but when your on-ice awareness works for you like that and lets you avoid contact while you’re still creating opportunities... it’s like you’re out there trying to show us all what you really love about hockey. It makes me look at the game differently.”

He kisses Eric, then works his way down Eric’s jaw to his throat. Eric tilts his head back, giving him room. He’s already turned on beyond belief, and when Jack’s tongue slides down his neck, he can’t help jerking his hips forward to meet Jack’s body. Jack grabs Eric’s ass in his big hand and keeps him there, their hard dicks pressed together.

“You,” Jack murmurs, lips still touching Eric’s neck, “you make me look at things differently. I’ve never met anybody like you and I don’t think I ever will again.”

He grazes his fingers along the crack of Eric’s ass, then moves his hand back to Eric’s thigh and kisses his neck again. Eric can’t think, can’t do anything but moan and squirm. He wants Jack’s dick inside him now, but he also wants to hear every single thing Jack has to say.

But Jack doesn’t say anything more, just focuses on laying down the kind of hickey that has Eric taking clean-turtleneck inventory even through his overwhelming arousal. Finally Eric whines, curls a leg around Jack’s waist, and pulls him on top of himself.

Jack hikes Eric’s thighs up and presses his dick against Eric’s ass. “I wasn’t sure how long you wanted me to stay away from the bathing suit area.”

“Now, enough, do it,” Eric says eloquently.

Jack grabs his pants and retrieves a condom and a tube of lube from his pocket. Eric writhes impatiently as Jack preps him; he likes being fingered sometimes, but right now he wants nothing more than to wrap his legs around Jack’s hot solid body.

Soon enough, Jack’s cock is pushing carefully into him. It’s not small, but Jack goes slow and Eric breathes through it. Lord, is this what he needed. He clenches down, feeling Jack thick inside him.

Jack groans, eyes falling shut. “So good,” he whispers.

Eric’s breath catches. “What?”

Jack opens his eyes. “I said it feels good.”

“Oh.” Eric clenches around him again. Jack makes the same noise, but he’s looking at Eric a little curiously. Eric bucks his hips a little. “Come on, move,” he urges, hoping Jack will forget it.

Jack moves, but he doesn’t forget it. A few minutes later, he says, “You’re so good, Bitty.”

“Oh my goodness fuck,” says Eric, and grinds up involuntarily.

“So good for me,” Jack says, and he’s watching Eric’s face, and Eric wants to be embarrassed, but he’s on the brink of coming and he just doesn’t have it in him. “So good,” Jack says again. “Such a good boy,” and that’s it, Eric is coming. Jack pounds into him furiously and goes limp a moment later, slipping his dick out and rolling to the side as he collapses so he won’t crush Eric.

Eric turns away from Jack, his heart still beating fast. He doesn’t think Jack would make fun of him, but he still doesn’t particularly want to look at his face right now. That was a lot more than Eric wanted him to know, this early on.

Jack inches forward until they’re spooning and drapes an arm around Eric’s waist. “I’ll remember that for next time,” he says, kissing the back of Eric’s head softly.

Eric buries his face in the pillow. He can feel the heat in his cheeks.

After a minute, Jack says, “So... tell me how I can do better.”

Eric rolls over and kisses the bejeezus out of him.