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Hanging Around the Mistletoe

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Shitty started the tradition when he moved into the Haus. While he thought the mistletoe and kissing balls had roots in a patriarchal society that was constantly working towards the objectification of women, he also saw the yuletide tradition as a way to get his friends and teammates to open up more.

The plant itself was removed during kegsters, and the one time it was accidentally left up it resulted in one black-eyed Lax bro.

But other than that, come December, the mistletoe was moved around the Haus, surprising the people who got caught under it.

During his years at Samwell Shitty had caught almost each of his teammates under the mistletoe throughout the years and each responded in a different way.

***

The first person he met under the mistletoe was Johnson. He didn’t know much about the goalie, as he was only in his sophomore year, but as he walked under the door jamb to the living room, the other man paused and pointed upward.

“This is a great plot device my man. Seriously, it’ll open up so many of the guys and unleash a torrent of UST plot lines, seuxality tropes, and crack fic,” he grinned, before grabbing Shitty by the cheeks and pulling him in for a kiss.

“I didn’t understand half of those words man, but sure thing,” he laughed, and then kept walking towards the couch. Sitting down Jack looked at him a little funny.

“Did you really have to put that up? I mean, isn’t it coercion?” the Canadian asked.

“Jacky boy, the team knows they can say no alright. If they don’t I’ll do what I do best. Expound on the virtues of consent until they run away or agree with me,” he smirked, and began to watch the game.

***

That same year, as Shitty walk walking up the basements steps, grabbing some beer for the party that night, when Holster decided to help him carry the cans to the fridge. As Shitty reached the landing he caught sight of the plant overhead and cleared his throat at his frog defenseman.

“Well well Holtzy, look at what we have here. You, me, and a weird English tradition probably co-opted from a pagan religion,” he began, wiggling his eyebrows.

“I swear you find any excuse to slip discussions of society,” Holster smirked, and let Shitty lean in for a chaste kiss to the lips.

At that moment Ransom came around the corner to see what was taking so long and choked on his drink.

“Whoa, sorry bros, didn’t mean to see that. I mean it’s totally cool, so yeah I’ll just go,” he squeaked out.

“Rans, mistletoe brah,” Holster explained, pointing upward.

“Right, right, mistletoe. That is totally a reasonable explanation as to why you’d be kissing a dude,” Ransom continued, clearly digging himself into a hole.

“You know there’s nothing wrong with kissing a dude right Ransom?” Shitty asked, getting a bit defensive.

“Of course not. There is nothing wrong with Holster, or anyone kissing a dude. Holster can kiss whatever dude he wants. Or whatever girl he wants. It’s not wrong or weird or unexpected” he rambled, and then turned on his heel and bolted into the living room.

“That was odd,” Holster muttered, not looking at Shitty, his gaze fixed on the spot where his friend had been.

Shrugging it off as just a freshman’s reaction to two dudes kissing for the first time, Shitty carried the beer to the kitchen and thought nothing off it. Well nothing until the following year when he saw the two defensemen doing a bit more than kiss under the sprig after Winter Screw.

The following morning, Ransom caught Shitty under the plant and planted a kiss hard on his mouth and proceeded to thank him before running back to the attic.

***
Bitty had been a bit weary when Shitty put up the plant above the door jamb to the kitchen. After all, Bitty was always in the kitchen when he stopped by the Haus, and he’d only been on the team for four month, and still wasn’t out.

But when he got caught under it with Shitty the older player had explained to Bitty the backstory behind the tradition and then gave him a peck on the cheek.

“No one here really forces anyone else to do it if they aren’t comfortable. I promise Bits, you’ve got nothing to fear. Just do what makes you feel the safest. No worries.”

The following year, after Bitty came out to Shitty, the two kissed in the same place as before, but this time Bitty was promising the graduating hockey player that he’d make sure the tradition lived on.

***

Catching the Frogs under the kissing ball was certainly an experience for each of them.

Chowder had been the first.

Shitty was putting up the mistletoe on December 1st while Chowder was in the kitchen. Once Shitty explained that it was a Samwell Men’s Hockey team tradition, Chowder enthusiastically ran over to kiss Shitty, and then spent the rest of the afternoon greeting each of his teammates with a variety of cheek and lip kisses.

Nursey was the next one. It was before their team gift exchange when Nursey was walking into the Haus and Shitty answered the locked door.

“Mistletoe Nurse. You can pay this toll via compliment or kiss,” he grinned, knowing what his former Andover classmate would choose.

“Always wanted to kiss a dude with a stache,” Nursey smirked and leaned in for a kiss. At that moment Chowder and Dex were walking up the stairs and caught sight of the pair kissing. Chowder for his part walked forward and gave Nursey a kiss while Dex hung back, his face bright red. Once everyone was inside, Dex walked through the doorway, making sure no one was in kissing distance.

Dex was the last member of the team Shitty managed to kiss and it wasn’t even in December. It was during Lardo and Ransom’s birthday kegster that Dex walked up to Shitty, a picture of mistletoe on his phone.

“Nurse told me it bummed you out that I was the frog that got away, and that I should take my head out of my ass,” he explained, giving Shitty a tentative smile. For his part, the first year law student just smiled, and pulled Dex in for a hug before pecking him on the mouth.

***

Throughout his years at Samwell, Shitty had been asked by a lot of people if he was dating Jack Zimmerman, if he’d ever kissed Jack Zimmerman, and if he’d seen Jack Zimmerman’s butt up close in personal.

The answer to those questions were no, yes, and yes, but Shitty would never actually tell someone the truth.

While he didn’t have the honor of dating the Canadian Adonis he considered his best friend, it was more of a result of Shitty being tragically heterosomething and not because Jack wasn’t into guys.

The butt viewings were a by-product of hockey as well as Shitty’s habit of bargining into Jack’s room naked. By the third year of this happening Jack stopped caring about changing in front of Shitty outside of the locker room, and on one memorable occasion kept sitting at his desk naked as he wrote a paper, Shitty lounging on his bed, equally buff, reading for class.

But the kiss, well Shitty had kissed Jack Zimmerman on four separate occasions.

The first was during their freshman year. Jack had been stressing out over their playoff chances. Shitty had come to visit Jack in his dorm to find the room covered with plays and the laptop open to ESPN commentary about college hockey. Going into best friend mode, Shitty shut the laptop, cleaned up the paper, put on a Ken Burn’s documentary, and cuddled Jack. That night, when both boys were settled in for the night, Jack leaned over and kissed Shitty’s cheek as thank you.

The second time was during their junior year. Shitty was moving the mistletoe upstairs so it was out of the way during the post-Winter Screw party, when he ran into Jack on the stairs. Seeing his best friend with the plant in hand, Jack just smiled and as he passed Shitty placed a quick peck on his lips, before heading to the kitchen to grab a protein shake before the masses came through.

The third time was during their last year. Shitty was leaning against the kitchen door jamb, just having kissed Bitty again, as he explain to the tiny Southern baker the need to continue the tradition after he left, when Jack walked by him. Tapping his friend on the shoulder, Jack turned around and followed where Shitty’s eyes were looking and just smiled.

“Bittle, if you do continue this tradition, try to not be so obvious about your reasons,” he laughed, and wrapping Shitty around the waist, he dipped his best friend, kissing him.

Once Shitty was upright, he pulled away and placed his hands over his heart to swoon. “Jacky boy some person if going to be very lucky one day.”

“Whatever you say Shits,” Jack replied as he sat for dinner, not seeing the blush rising on Bitty’s cheeks.

Their most recent kiss though is years after Samwell. Shitty and Lardo are over at the Zimmerman-Bittle residence for the holidays and they’re opening gifts.

As Shitty and Lardo unwrap their presents, Bitty explains that he and Jack went to a random ornament painting class and made everyone their own ornaments. Lardo’s was made by Bitty who made an abstract ornament, while Jack made Shitty’s.

“Is this mistletoe?” the mustached man asked, his thumb caressing the ceramic reverently.

“Of course it is. What’s December without breaking the bonds of toxic masculinity,” Jack teased, and held the ornament over his best friend’s head and gave him a peck.

Shitty cried.

***

It was after the last winter kegster of Shitty’s senior year that Lardo finally confronted her friend.

Finding him on the porch, cleaning up the mess that had been made, Lardo tapped Shitty on the shoulder and held the mistletoe in front of him.

“I’ve known you for three years and not once have you and I been under this together. I know you’ve kissed the rest of the team but every time I even think that I might get to be a part of this tradition with you, you somehow vanish. So what gives? Is it because I’m a girl? Is it because I’m not on the team in the player sense? What is it Shits?”

To say he was caught off guard was an understatement, but doing his best to compose himself, Shitty cleared his throat to explain. “Lardo, when have I ever treated you differently because of your gender? And to say I don’t think you’re really on the team is a bit of an insult to the both of us. You’re the reason this team even functions, and whether or not you’re on the ice doesn’t make you any more or less a part of us. But, the truth is, I’ve wanted to kiss you for a long time, and you never seemed into the idea. And I thought if I did have the chance one day to do it, I didn’t want it to be from mistletoe, or a drinking game, or any other forced reason. So, I’m sorry if you felt left out, but this is just a game in a way...and you? You deserve more than that,” he finished, not looking Lardo straight in the eye.

Unsure of what to say the team manager turned to head back into the Haus, needing to process her thoughts.

But later that night, Lardo found Shitty in the reading room and kissed him. No mistletoe needed.