Shitty doesn’t know much about Zimmermann, to be completely fucking honest. Like, he knows the rumors, obviously? But who doesn’t at this point-- the other guys on the team spend way too much time on the group chat speculating about his infamous fall from near-fame. Or at least, they have been since Shitty was added to the chat a few days ago. Zimmermann still isn’t in it, which Shitty is pretty sure is intentional.
Shitty supposes he’ll just have to add Zimmermann to the chat himself. But first, he has to get the guy’s number and figure out how to become his friend.
They’ve only talked a couple of times-- they’d hung out during the Haus tour that Bergey gave them and all the other frogs before classes started, but since then, Zimmermann has been very elusive. A real motherfucking cryptid. The guy’s Bigfoot.
Sure, he’s extremely prompt when it comes to practices and conditioning and other mandatory team events, and he tends to trail close behind Shitty during those, but he always seems to disappear before they all go out to do stuff like get breakfast after practice, or hang out at the library.
Not that Shitty can really blame him, because he’s heard some of the questions that people ask the guy. Like, seriously? Talk about invasive. But like it or not, he’s gotta come out of his shell eventually, or he’s going to have a pretty fucking boring four years at Samwell, and Shitty is determined to prevent that from happening.
Thankfully, tonight is the perfect opportunity for that.
Shitty had doubted that he would show up to the Haus for the first kegster of the semester, but here he is, back pressed up against a wall in the living room while he watches the pong table with a faint look of amusement. Shitty’s been standing across the room chatting with teammates for a while now and he hasn’t seen Zimmermann talk to anybody at all. The only time he’s moved was to bend over and pick up a stray pong ball, which had given Shitty an excellent view of that delicious Zimmermann ass, which is looking great tonight, even in poorly fitted acid wash jeans that--
Shit. He’s getting distracted. He better act now before he’s too drunk to execute this plan.
He bids Johnson a quick goodbye and stumbles past the pong table and flings himself against Zimmermann in a friendly greeting using his entire left side. “Helloooo, Zimmermann! How are you on this fine Friday night?”
Zimmermann neatly sidesteps Shitty’s attempts to hug him, which is fine. “Um. It’s a Saturday?”
“Saturday, Schmaturday, Zimmermann. Speaking of which-- are you sure you don’t have a fucking nickname I can call you, bro? Because that’s a mouthful. A tasty mouthful, but still hard to say,” Shitty slurs.
“Just Jack is fine,” he says, and, well, Shitty can roll with that.
“Alright, Jack. Now that that’s settled, you owe me an explanation.”
“I do?” Zimmermann is nearly backed up into the wall. He doesn’t look supes comfortable, so Shitty grabs his arm and pulls him out of the living room.
This might not be the best decisión, Shitty thinks while doing it anyway. Like, if Jack got pissed at him and it came down to a matter of pure force, Shitty is pretty sure that Jack would win. Not that he seems like much of a fighter, but when a bro’s dad is Bad Bob Zimmermann, then a bro has to have some sort of sense when it comes to winning a scuffle.
But something tells Shitty that Jack didn’t really want to be in there in the midst of the kegster anyway, because he comes without a fight, even when Shitty opens the door to the Haus basement and starts pulling him down the stairs. When Shitty settles his ass down on a cardboard box on the cement floor of the room, Jack just perches on a plastic tote and faces him.
“What is it you want to know?” Jack asks, very, very, cautious. Shitty knows that Jack’s two years older than him, but right now, with his awful fluffy haircut, oversized hoodie, and general fucking tense posture, he just looks like a scared teenager.
“I want to know,” Shitty says, jabbing his finger at Jack’s chest, “why you didn’t tell me you’re in the same Gender in Society section as me?”
Jack immediately relaxes, shoulders dropping. He gives Shitty a kind of dorky smile. “Oh, is that all?”
“Is that all, he says?” Shitty parrots. “Brah, we totally could have been getting lunch after class together this whole time!” Granted, classes have been only been going on for two weeks, but still. Missed opportunity.
“Sorry. Do you want me to come sit in the front with you next time?”
“Absolutely!” Shitty offers him a fist bump, and Jack meets it, then stands back up.
“Can we go back up?” he asks, nodding at the mostly full can of beer Shitty’s been gripping this whole time. “I think you need some water.”
“I absolutely do not need water, but that’s very thoughtful of you, you absolute fucking beaut,” Shitty says, following Jack up the basement stairs, and then ramming his face right into that gorgeous ass when Jack stops at the top step.
“Uh, Shitty?” he says.
“What’s up, man?”Shitty says, not daring to move his head from his amazing view.
“I think we’re locked down here.”
“Oh, Shit.” Shitty tugs his phone out of the pocket of his cutoff jorts and clumsily brings up the group chat. “I’ll just text the group and tell one of them to come get let us out. It’s no big deal,” he says, then glances up. Jack seems fine and in no hurry to get out, so Shitty heads back downstairs, ‘cause who knows how long it’ll take one of the guys to see the text.
“I guess we’ll just have to find something to do until they rescue us,” Jack says, settling back down on his tote.
That something turns out to be a sharpie, a water heater, and the start of what Shitty likes to think is a fucking beautiful friendship.
The first time Shitty hugs Jack-- off the ice, of course, because a hug-tackle after a neat goal during practice is a whole different story-- Jack tenses up. Shitty’s used to this-- he’s grown up playing with guys with all sorts of internalized ideas about masculinity and being, like, stoic hockey gods.
“Come on, bro. It’s totally chill to hug your friends,” Shitty says, ready with a well-rehearsed lecture on men developing better emotional relationships. They’re tucked away in a corner of the library, so if he isn’t quiet he might get kicked out, which would be kinda baller.
Jack is still frozen. Shitty loosens his grip a little, and Jack doesn’t pull away, but he doesn’t hug back, either.
“Most of the time guys are worried about people thinking they’re gay if they’re physically affectionate with their friends,” Shitty starts. “Which is like, homophobic, for one, but also, hugging doesn’t mean--”
“I am,” Jack says. “Gay. Bi, actually.” He looks around, quickly, eyes darting to the corners of their study room, but they’re alone. Nobody else has heard.
“Oh, cool,” Shitty says. “Thank you for trusting me with this.”
“You can’t tell anyone,” Jack says. “Promise.”
“I promise, bro! Scout’s honor.”
Shitty becomes suddenly hyperaware of the fact that he is still wrapped around Jack’s torso, and he starts to let go to give Jack some space-- but when he does, Jack wraps his arms around him and hugs back, just for a second, before gently shoving him away.
“Aw. I knew you had it in you, Jacky!” Shitty grins.
“Shut up,” says Jack, but with a fond smile on his face. “Just ask before you hug next time.”
“Will do,” Shitty says, and then turns back to his homework. He’s got a lot of reading to do before they head out on their roadie tomorrow.
It’s one of those times when Shitty breaks out a joint and Jack says yeah, sure, why not, when it first happens.
It is beautiful. Sure, it’s just a little bit of partially clothed grinding and making out and both of them getting handsy, but Jack Zimmermann is a fucking masterpiece of genetics and conditioning, so it’s incredible .
But really, when it comes down to it, it’s just making out, and it only lasts about five minutes until Jack pulls away. Shitty opens his eyes and sees that he’s very rumpled-- hair a mess, lips swollen, pupils blown.
“Hey,” says Jack. “Can we just go back to cuddling?”
“Oh, shit. Totally. I’m so sorry, man. That was really uncool of me. I should have asked first before kissing you.”
“No, it was fine,” Jack says, slinging one arm around Shitty’s waist and resting his head back against the pillows. “I’m just tired right now.”
That’s fair. They got back from a very long road trip yesterday and on top of that, Jack definitely had to deal with the worst of several very hard full body checks from several ridiculously massive defenders. He’s probably sore and exhausted, so Shitty just curls up around him, because he’s a fucking furnace, other than his stupidly cold feet, and goes back to sleep.
They make out a couple more times. They don’t go any further than grinding on each other fully clothed, but it’s still fun and chill.
Then, after their season has ended, Jack shows up at Shitty’s dorm one day with a scowl Shitty hasn’t seen in ages. As soon as Shitty lets him in and closes the door he sits down on Shitty’s bed and says, “So. We have to stop hooking up.”
“Oh, okay,” Shitty says. It’s a pretty major fucking loss, because Jack is a really good kisser, but whatever. He sits down at his desk chair. “Any reason?”
“Samantha from my econ class asked me out on a date. So. I guess we probably shouldn’t do that.”
“Yeah, that’s totally fair.” Shitty hears his bed frame creak as Jack stands up, so he turns around from his laptop and says, “Hey, so tell me about her, brah! Where’s the date going to be? Are you actually going to wear real people clothes to it?”
Jack’s already halfway to the door. “You-- don’t want me to go?”
Shitty cocks his head at Jack. “Want you to go? Nah, man. You’re my best friend. I don’t care if we’re making out or not. I want to hear about your date.”
“Oh,” Jack says. He removes his hand from the door handle, then sits back down on the bed. “That’s-- cool.”
And that’s freshman year.
Freshman year is the two of them going for a walk on campus at three in the morning because Jack’s mind is racing a mile a minute and Shitty doesn’t want him to be alone, and getting pulled over by campus security because they want to make sure they’re not drunk and getting into trouble, even though they really are both sober.
Freshman year is Shitty being very much not sober and Jack giggling while he tries to get Shitty to quiet down long enough to get past the poor student who’s working the front desk of their dorm at midnight on a weekend.
Freshman year is doing not only stuff that Shitty’s dad would hate (an art that he mastered back in middle school, thank you very much), but also just stuff that Shitty loves.
When it’s all said and done, Shitty’s gotta say that even though he knew he’d make friends in college, he never thought he’d be this close to someone, and he really can’t fucking wait for next year.