When Jack signed with the Falconers, his maman was so excited to help him shop for an apartment. He was excited too. No more wrestling for control of the bathroom before leaving for the day or yelling at all hours by hausmates in spite of quiet hour rules. When they toured, Alicia always had decorating ideas and possible furniture arrangements while Bob provided insight into hosting hockey players especially other bachelors. He definitely needed a decent fridge for all his own meal prep plus hosting. On his own, Jack tried to imagine Bitty's place in his life. Jack definitely needed a lot of counter space and storage. He might be able to get by with a pot, a pan, and a baking sheet but Bitty would make sure he was actually stocked with the right cookware and appliances.
Eventually Jack settled on a spacious multi-level apartment with an open living area, long kitchen with plenty of counters, and a breakfast bar. Though the bathroom lacked the large jacuzzi-style tubs other apartments had, he imagined the enormous shower was large enough for himself and a certain small baker.
The master bedroom had a lot of potential and the first thing he bought was a king size bed and some of the softest sheets he ever felt. Alicia helped him with all of the other furniture, room by room. When he signed for the apartment, he thought he wasn't going to have a problem filling it up. After the furniture arrived and was assembled, Jack found himself very wrong. His kitchen had empty drawers and shelves, even down low. His bedroom felt and sounded cavernous. Sitting in it alone the first night after his parents went back to Montreal, Jack felt the size of his apartment and wondered if he shouldn't have gone for something smaller.
He spent a lot of his time outside of his apartment. There was rookie camp and all the media leading up to the preseason especially as Bad Bob's prodigal son. Sometimes, he invited other rookies over and was grateful for the pool table. His parents' house had a matching one which followed Bob from when he had his own first apartment. Jack learned how to play pool from a very young age and knew from experience how it could be used as a bonding activity. Bob was a little surprised when Jack picked it out — Jack hadn't even touched the one at their home since he played with Kent as far as Bob was concerned. However, Jack would often play by himself very late at night when he was having trouble sleeping and everyone else was asleep. That first night, he and his papa played long into the night over a few beers. Alicia looked at them fondly from time to time as she watched TV.
A few days before the Fourth of July, Jack packed his bags and headed to Georgia to visit Bitty. The Bittles' house felt like it could be a model in Country Home . It was very rustic and cozy with the clutter of life sitting on every surface. Commemorative plates handed down as heirlooms hung on the walls and the fine china was displayed in a china cabinet in the dining room. Every chair had some kind of throw pillow — some more used than others. Jack imagined a few doilies thrown over the backs of the sofa and armchairs wouldn't be out of place.
Eric's room was a combination of the rest of the house and his room at Samwell. It was apparent the empty spaces on the walls were posters moved to his dorm room and later, the Haus. Bitty almost distilled all the south out of his decour when he chose what possessions to move. However, the Bittles' curtains were very reminiscent of the Haus curtains especially the ones hung in the kitchen. Jack put that chirp away for future use.
While he was in Georgia, Jack took tons of pictures. Jack loved the landscapes and the feel of the main street. He got a beautiful picture of a block with both old and new storefronts. It was a cliche made a little less cliche by the fact that it was a place he actually visited. He also had a chance to work on low-light pictures during the fireworks before he decided to set the camera down and put an arm around Bitty. He had to push it away a little as the fireworks became a little more figurative.
Even after Georgia, Jack held off picking art and pictures to hang. That was a lot harder than picking out furniture. He always loved to hang things that would reflect him and an afternoon at a store wasn't enough time for him to pick enough to put on his walls. He had some large ideas but he spent a long time ruminating over it before actually getting things together. Instead of going to an art store, he went through all the photographs he took for his photography class and roadies. He touched up what he could and had them printed and framed.
Though he had plenty of his own work to display, he bought a few others like a landscape of Montreal's skyline and a few artful prints of hockey equipment. These were the subject of so many chirps from his friends and teammates. Jack just shrugged it off — hockey was in his life so much longer than it was his career. He had a hard time filling the place above the pool table, opting instead for a pair of abstract paintings until he had a better idea.
Once Bitty was back at Samwell, he started visiting on the weekends. Shitty was also a frequent visitor. He had to make a hard and fast rule that Shitty couldn't show up anytime he wanted because Jack had too many things going on that he might be out or have teammates over. While the latter wasn't a huge problem, Jack just wanted to know how many people to expect hanging around and if he needed to have the guest room ready for him. Really it was so he could ensure some alone time with his boyfriend.
For a long time, his apartment was just a place to sleep. Home was somewhere else still in his mind. It was an amorphous image but a part of Jack felt like if things didn't turn out with the NHL, he could move back into the Haus even though he graduated. It was much more of a reality that he would move back to Montreal, closer to his family. It's just when he came home, he put things in their place. Nothing sat on his coffee table. Dishes were always loaded into the dishwasher or piled up next to the sink after they were washed. Jack never left cups sitting wherever when he was done with them. Part of that changed when Bitty started visiting regularly. Jack would find pairs of socks left under tables, French notecards stuffed between couch cushions from their study session two weeks before, and pieces of clothing way too small for Jack mixed in with his laundry.
Soon after New Years, the Falconers gave Jack the A and he let out a giant breath he didn't know he was holding. In spite of all the signs of being thought as an integral part of the team, he was waiting for the moment management thought Jack was more hassle than he was worth. It was a silly proposition but Jack knew some teams where the politics of the team didn't always reflect the politics of the management. After this, Jack started referring to his apartment more and more as home.
Finally, Jack knew what pictures he should put above the pool table. Bitty gave him the idea while Jack was regaling him with the story of asking Marty if Bitty could come to dinner with him. Bitty was out at the bench to stretch to take the call in a quiet place as compared to the chaos of the locker room. He made an offhand comment about how the light filtered into Faber during late afternoon. While he was sifting through pictures, Jack threw that picture in the "no" pile because it didn't fit the space and it seemed too cheesy. As he thought about it while talking to Bitty, he reframed the picture in his mind to make it work.
The next time Bitty visited after the pictures were printed and framed, he chuckled at his ridiculous boyfriend with an "oh Lord." Jack hugged him from behind and looked at the picture while he whispered sappy things in Bitty's ear — how it was where he recovered and found friends and fell in love with a boy who reminded him of the sun. With Bitty in his arms like this, he finally felt at home.