It was a pretty common fine. Guys dated, girlfriends borrowed shirts and sweaters. It was more of a chirping fine than anything else.
Bitty had heard it a few times, because the boys were already dating and sharing their sweaters with their girlfriends.
“Boyfriend sweater! Fine!”
Still, he doubted it would apply to him. He wasn’t dating girls anytime ever.
So when he loaned his sweater to Abby after one of the LAX bros crashed into her and spilled her coffee all over her, he didn’t expect her to turn up at the Haus, and didn’t expect to be fined for it.
She had it on, when she knocked on the door.
“It’s open!” Shitty yelled. “Who the fuck is knocking .”
Bitty left the kitchen, to see who it could be, since they didn’t slam through the door.
The door opened carefully, and Abby stepped just inside the door. “Um. Is Eric here?” she asked, shrugging off the cardigan. “I brought his sweater?”
“Boyfriend sweater!” Shitty yelled. “ Fine .”
Bitty cleared his throat. “Thanks, Abby,” he said, accepting the sweater. “Do you want some pie?”
Holster came crashing down the stairs. “Who’s getting fined?” he asked.
“Bits,” Shitty said.
“Y’all, Abby had a run-in with a LAX bro, and spilled her coffee, so I loaned her my cardigan,” Bitty said. “And you are making a terrible impression.”
“ Fuck the LAX bros,” Shitty said.
Holster went into the kitchen.
“I, meant to wash the sweater,” she said. “But I didn’t want to ruin it, and I couldn’t find a care tag?”
“Oh, it’s fine,” Bitty said. “I’ve been meaning to clean my other sweaters too, since fall is comin’ fast. I’ll cut you a slice of pie to take with you. Do you have a preference of pecan or lemon meringue.”
“I... lemon meringue,” she said.
The moment she left, Shitty was holding out a hand. “Bro. Fine.”
Bitty raised an eyebrow. “Shitty, she is not my girlfriend.”
“Brah, I don’t care if you’re holding hands or if it’s just boning, it counts. Besides, it’s not like we’ll fine you every time.”
Bitty realized that the only way he was getting out of the fine was if he came out right that moment. And that was not happening.
“Fine,” Bitty said. “I need change though. I think I’ve only got a five.”
When Bitty came out to Shitty, before Screw, Shitty handed him two dollars.
“What’s this for?” Bitty asked.
“I fined you unfairly, due to my own heteronormative assumptions,” Shitty said. “All bad fines are to be returned in double by the accuser, and that’s me.”
Bitty sighed and shoved the cash in his pocket. “Thanks.”
“So, have there been any boyfriends?” Shitty asked.
Bitty shook his head. “You’re the only person who knows,” he said. He shrugged. “I mean, for sure . People seem to be able to make the leap on their own pretty well.”
“Heteronormative bullshit,” Shitty said.
“I’m not gonna lie, you assuming I was dating Abby was a bit refreshing, considering the usual alternative was bein’ shut in an equipment shed,” Bitty said. “Or slammed into lockers.”
“Jesus,” Shitty said. “So your checking thing...”
“That fucking sucks .”
The boys set him up with a guy for Screw.
So when everyone woke up at the Haus the next day, and found Bitty in the kitchen wearing a sweatshirt that was too big, while making pancakes, the chirping did not stop long enough to get a word in.
“Fine, Bits,” Holster said.
“I’m pretty sure this is Shitty’s,” Bitty said. “Ya’ll, it’s a hockey sweatshirt.”
“Bits wins,” Shitty said. “No fine.”
Bitty handed Shitty the first plate of pancakes.
“Fuck yeah,” Shitty said.
Bitty came back to the haus the morning after a pretty shitty night. He’d gone out with a guy, and they’d gotten a bit tipsy, and he’d gone back to the guy’s place, where they’d had pretty uninspiring blowjobs, and Bitty had fallen asleep on the sofa.
In the morning, he couldn’t find his jacket, so the guy threw a sweatshirt at him and all but threw him out.
Bitty headed to the haus, to take a shower and change into some clean clothes.
“Bit-tay,” Shitty said. “Now I know that’s not your sweatshirt.”
Bitty threw a dollar at him. “I don’t want to hear about it. Not a single word. Got it?”
“Bits? Are you okay?” Shitty asked.
“I’m hungover, my date could not have been less enthused about the sex being mutual, and he kicked me out this morning, before I could find my jacket,” Bitty said. “I will not be seeing him again.”
“Bits. I need you to be a little more clear about that sex thing,” Shitty said. “Because I need to know if we need to kill him, or just kick his ass.”
Bitty scowled. “I mean, we agreed to sex, and I got him off, and then he lost interest. In me. I was pissed, but I fell asleep on the couch. I need a shower. And I’ll probably be making some jam once I get over this hangover.”
Shitty nodded. “You can use our shower,” he said. “But Bits, would you like a hug?”
Bitty’s face crumpled, and Shitty wrapped his arms around him, hugging him tight. “Thanks, Shitty,” he said.
“It’s one of the few things I’m best at, Bits,” he said. “And we’ll chill out with the sweater chirps.”
During food history class, Jack saw Bittle coming to class with the guy that the boys had set him up with, who shook off a sweatshirt and handed it off to Bittle, who shrugged it on, and stretched up for a kiss. Jack looked away.
“Thanks for warmin’ it up, sugar,” Bittle said.
“Any time, Eric.”
Bittle took his seat next to Jack.
“I don’t know who’s borrowing what, but that’s definitely a fine, Bittle,” Jack said.
“Oh hush,” Bittle said. “ Somebody left my sweatshirt out on the porch and it was too cold to wear.”
“That sounds like you’re implying it was me, but it definitely wasn’t,” Jack said.
“No, he left it for me the other night, and forgot to text that he dropped if off? So it got a little frosty.”
“Still a fine,” Jack said, bumping him with his elbow. “He’s good to you, right?”
“He’s very nice,” Bittle said with a slightly sad sigh.
“That... that doesn’t sound good.”
Bittle hummed. “It’s... it kinda feels like we’re in high school?” he said. “At least the way dating looked in high school. And you kiss and hold hands, but like, no one’s tryna get more serious, or more intense? It’s nice, but... it seems like it’s more like we’re dating to not be alone?” He sighed. “I just... I want more than that?”
“If it’s not what you want, maybe you should move on,” Jack said. “But it’s still a fine, Bittle.”
Bittle bumped his shoulder into Jack’s. “Y’all keep tryna get me with that damn fine,” he said. “Thanks, Jack.”
Bitty had smuggled someone into his room, and the boys were gossiping about what they were up to.
No one expected him to come down with a guy who was clearly wearing Bitty’s clothes--a lilac button down, his favorite teal bowtie, and a soft cardigan.
“First, Bits new boy, you look bangin’,” Shitty said.
“ Fooooooiiiiiiiiiinnnnnee ,” Holster bellowed.
Bitty rolled his eyes. “Good lord, you boys just won’t let up,” he said. “Come on, Mick, I’ll see you out.”
“Bits, why don’t you ever introduce us to your dates?” Holster asked.
“Because ya’ll are an embarrassment,” Bitty said. He led him toward the porch. “I’ll see you later, hon. Yeah?”
“Thanks, Eric. I’ll bring it all back tomorrow.”
“Hey, no worries, hon,” Bitty said, pulling the door shut behind him. “Have a good dinner. Impress Sadie’s folks.”
“Are they gonna give you a hard time?” Mick asked.
“Oh, don’t worry about them,” Bitty said. “It’s just chirpin’. They just really want me to have a boyfriend. One of these days I might have to pay that fine for a guy I’m actually excited to be with. Now, go on. You don’t want to be late.”
Bitty went back in, and paid the fine.
Once Jack and Bitty were out to the Samwell team, they didn’t have to worry about making sure no one found Bitty’s stuff in the apartment, or anything of Jack’s showing up unexpectedly at the Haus.
And then, somehow, impossibly and wonderfully, they were out to the world.
The Samwell crew had all gotten together, to watch the home opener for the next season. Bitty arrived late, with his parents, wearing Jack’s samwell sweater, with Zimmermann across his back, the only red in a sea of blue.
The Falcs won, and the whole crew went down to the locker room.
“Very nice sweater B,” Tater said. “Was Zimmboni’s yes?”
And that got everyone’s attention.
“Holy shit,” Shitty said. “Holy shit .”
“Boyfriend sweater!” Ransom yelled.
“Boyfriend sweater!” Holster cheered.
Bitty laughed. “Good lord, you boys. You never let up.”
“So many fines, Bits. So many .”
“Y’all are graduates,” Bitty said.
“I’m not,” Chowder said. “You’re definitely getting fined for this.”
“What is fine for?” Tater asked.
“Someone wearing their boyfriend’s clothes,” Lardo said. “Usually, it’s the guys girlfriends, but with Bits it’s gone both ways.”
Bitty laughed. “All right. This fine, I will gladly pay,” he said, handing over a dollar to Chowder, who pulled the portable sin bin from his pocket.
Snowy settled in front of his cubby. “What’s this I’m hearing about a fantastic new fine?”