A fierce “ Bitty !” cuts him off midway through the chorus of Beyoncé’s Halo , which is a rude and totally unwarranted place to be interrupted, thank you very much.
Bitty barely has time to shield his bits with a shampoo bottle before Lardo is flinging the curtain back, giving him a disapproving glare even as he flails to turn off the water. The only thing worse than an angry fae is a wet angry fae, and Bitty has rules about being viscerally terrified before breakfast.
“Bro. I love you. I love your singing. You know this. But can you maybe, just once, not put our roommates in thrall while they’re pouring the morning coffee?”
In his defense - not that he really needs to defend himself, mind you, he will not apologize for his very nature - Bitty is used to living alone. Or, at least, he’s used to living with Mama and Coach, who were also sirens and therefore immune to the thrall. Especially his thrall, because while a siren always has a hard time affecting other sirens, putting a family member in thrall is completely impossible. The point is , the past twenty years of his life have set him up for some… bad habits. Namely, belting out Beyonce in the shower and forgetting to keep his powers in check.
With a sheepish grin, very aware of his precariously vulnerable assets, Bitty asks, “How is it that you’re never affected, again?” because fae, no matter how closely they are related to sirens, can still be enthralled.
Throwing a towel at his face, Lardo nonchalantly replies. “Oh, you know. This and that. Must be all the Veela in my system.”
“Veelas are from Harry Potter , Lardo, they’re fictional . I thought fae couldn’t lie?”
“Are they fictional? Well, the more you know.” Her grin is chill and her voice is nothing but calm, but Bitty is so glad that she has never once been under his thrall because he suddenly knows, with perfect clarity, that once she came out the other side she would kill him dead.
Bitty fixes the towel around his waist and follows Lardo down the narrow hallway towards the kitchen, only to see Shitty already starting to shake himself out of the thrall, pouring coffee mostly into the mug he had placed on the counter. In the next room, Bitty knows he will find Ransom swaying gently on the spot, so he keeps moving until he’s directly in front of Ransom.
“Why can’t you sing in your specifically soundproofed room, or on the street, or anywhere that’s not in the Haus? ” Lardo whines from her place beside Shitty in the kitchen, coffee inching steadily towards the soles of her white socks.
“If our early-rising roommates weren’t literally the best hearers in the world - a werewolf and a vampire , Lardo - this wouldn’t nearly be as much of a recurrent problem.”
Lardo levels a flat look at him, and Bitty rolls his eyes and corrects himself. “Okay, fine. The acoustics in this bathroom are literally irresistible and that’s why I always sing in there but I’m a siren and I’m sorry for my biology -!”
“Fix and then argue.” Lardo interrupts, pointing pointedly towards Ransom.
Beyonce’s Halo had been the thrall-inducing song - an early hit but one of the classics, in Bitty’s humble opinion - so to help him pull Ransom out of it, Bitty needs to sing something with opposing messages. Well, he doesn’t need to, but seeing as he accidentally put his roommates into thrall this morning, getting into the right mindset can’t hurt. By that logic, Bitty can sing either Hold Up from Lemonade, or something by Taylor Swift. Queen Bey wins out (as always) and Bitty begins to sing quietly, concentrating on pulling Ransom out of his dopey bliss. It takes barely a verse, as it usually does with those supernaturals that are gifted with exceptional hearing, but soon Ransom is shaking his head and looking up with clear eyes. He glances around the room, looks quickly at Bitty, then lets his eyes slide over to Lardo.
“Thralled again, eh?” He drawls sheepishly, bringing one hand up to scrub at the back of his neck.
“I swear to all that is holy, either you -” she points at Bitty, “need to move your shower concert to a time of day where Teen Wolf and the Blood Boy are gone or in their specifically soundproofed rooms, or you -” she raises her voice, pointing at Ransom but including the recently de-enthralled Shitty, “need to wear your earplugs in the mornings like we discussed at the last Haus meeting.”
Bitty has partial memories of a discussion featuring Lardo-enhanced earplugs, but going by the increasingly sheepish look on Ransom’s face and Shitty’s continued absence from the room, the earplugs were less of a suggestion than they seemed at the time. Ransom’s apologetic expression seems to placate Lardo, and with a quick fist-bump to them both, her ire disappears like it had never existed in the first place.
A few moments later Lardo retreats towards the stairs with Bitty, Ransom, and Shitty following a close distance behind, with Bitty desperately trying to avoid the beginnings of a too-common conversation about the hypotheticals of thrall and consent with Shitty, when Lardo stops in her tracks. Bitty is able to stop in time, but Ransom bumps into him, and they all almost topple over when Shitty slams into him from behind, too caught up in his one-sided debate to watch his step.
“We have a little bit of a problem.” Holster says from directly in front of Lardo, scrubbing at the back of his neck in exactly the same way as Ransom.
“How? It’s seven o’ clock in the morning, no one else will be out of their rooms for at least another three hours, and Jack won’t be back for another hour at least.”
“ Well , apparently Jack decided that today was the day he was going to come back early, because he’s sitting in his room with the door open all blissed out.”
Scrubbing a hand over his face, Bitty slips past everyone on the staircase ( too many people ), and makes his way up to Jack’s room.
True to Holster’s word, Jack is sitting on the edge of his bed, swaying back and forth with a dopey grin on his face, quietly mouthing along to the words of Halo .
“Oh Lord, how has this happened to him?!” Quickly crossing the room, Bitty kneels in front of Jack and goes to put his hands on Jack’s knees. Quickly, he realizes that Jack probably doesn’t want to be touched while he has no will of his own , so he ends up just kind of flailing before placing his hands on his own knees.
“Brah, I’m pretty sure we all know how this happened to him.” Shitty (very, very helpfully) points out from the relative safety of the doorway.
“Sweet Mary and Joseph, Shitty, I mean how could he hear me from all the way up here and also how is he even affected... oh my sweet Lord Jack is really gay.” Bitty’s hands come up to slap over his mouth instinctively, retroactively trying to shove the words back into his mouth. To no one’s surprise, it doesn’t work.
The room is incredibly silent - excepting Jack’s off-key humming - as everyone stares at Bitty, and he slowly turns around to stare back. Slowly, he peels his hands off his mouth and squeaks, “Has no one figured out the way my thrall works, then?”
“Thrall can be different?” Ransom asks, incredulous. Holster shoves his shoulder gently and says, “Doofus, you know it can be different, Bitty’s thrall is way different from ours in basically every way. Vampires need eye contact and specific demands, sirens make… that.” He gestures broadly in Jack’s direction.
“So thrall is different between individuals, too.” Lardo states, a considering tone to her voice.
“Should we not be more concerned about Jack’s ‘out’ status right now?” Shitty points out from his place at the back of the group, ever the considerate one.
“ Oh Lord, I don’t suppose y’all could forget I ever said anything.” Bitty has never before in his life had a greater wish for the ground to swallow him whole.
“... I guess that the damage is minimal since all of us present now were also present for The Parson Debacle.” Lardo says, still in that considering tone of voice.
“We might be able to forgive you if you explain how your thrall works,” Ransom pipes up from behind Holster.
Shitty’s quiet, “ That’s not how it works ?” is overshadowed by Bitty’s sigh. He rearranges himself, and his towel, to better face the group behind him.
“Mary and Joseph, if this ain’t the worst day of my life. I would like to take this opportunity to remind y’all that this day does not reflect on my usual character, and that the circumstances under which everything has happened are literally a part of my biology, even though I could have handled everything with a little more… grace and tact.” Bitty takes a moment to look at everyone pleadingly, and after they nod he continues. “Siren thrall, while it looks like it turns people into zombies, really just emphasizes people’s sexual instincts to a point where it’s all they can think about. Even more than that, it’s all they can think about to the point of not being able to do anything . Except, my thrall is less sexual instinct than… affection ? Because I’m a little uncomfortable with that kind of intense sexual attention? But that’s not the point. The point is , my own sexuality also affects how the thrall will affect the intensity of the thrall on a person - it affects men more than women because I myself am partial to boys. Their own sexuality affects thrall too - if they are more attracted to men than women the effect will be doubled, and the opposite means it’ll be halved, kinda. Case in point: Jack is basically catatonic while Shitty was able to shake it off by himself.”
“So how are you gonna take it off?”
“Maybe we should un-thrall Jack and then have this conversation, right brah?” Shitty interjects, addressing Bitty. With a nod, Bitty turns back around and starts singing Hold Up quietly to Jack, projecting his will for Jack to come out of it as much as he can.
Except, it doesn’t work.
All Jack does is stop humming, smile a little less, and look very intensely into Bitty’s eyes.
“Oh my Lord he is so gay .” Bitty whispers again, mostly to himself.
“He’s really not that gay.” Shitty whispers to no one in particular.
“Y’all, I’m going to have to do something fairly drastic and uncomfortable, so I would prefer it if y’all could either not watch or pretend not to?”
Taking the silence from behind him as a yes, Bitty hummed a couple more bars and then added that sing-sing quality to his voice, saying “Jack, honey? Could you stand up for me?”
Jack rose, languid as only an athlete could be, towering over Bitty while still holding that intense eye contact. Bitty took a moment to compose himself - tall men had always made his heart flutter and Jack, with his tall, dark, and handsome routine, was really not helping at all - before quickly rising on his tip-toes and pressing a chaste kiss to Jack’s lips. In that half-second of clumsy contact, Bitty shoved all the intent he could muster at the thrall ensnaring Jack, hoping to break it in one short go. It would probably be a little rough on Jack, but he figured that was better than, you know, being enthralled unwillingly .
(Not only was Bitty never going to live this down, he was never going to let himself live it down.)
After that bare half-second of contact, Bitty turns around, claps his hands together, and says, “Okay! If y’all want to meet me in the kitchen in 10, I’ll cook us all a big breakfast pie, how’s that sound?”
Or, he would have, but instead he flails because, with an interested hum, Jack has wrapped an arm around his waist to keep him from going anywhere - well, not so much to keep him from going anywhere as it is to suggest that he doesn’t go anywhere - and Bitty continues to flail his hands until Jacks tongue meets his, and Bitty melts into the kiss.
Sweet Mary, Jack definitely knows his way around a kiss.
Neither of them say anything for a moment when they separate, the only noise in the room Lardo’s faint, exasperated groaning, Holster’s whispered “Sw’awesome!”, and Shitty’s “Motherfuck!”
It takes a minute, but abruptly Bitty turns around with wide eyes and claps his hands together, then says brightly, “Well! I have an apple pie to make, so I’m going to leave now! I’m so, so sorry about this,” he says in the vague direction of Jack, “and I will be controlling myself better in the future! See y’all later!”
Unfortunately, the towel vehemently disagrees with his decision to beat a hasty retreat, tumbling to the ground in protest. Lardo squawks and covers her eyes, but Shitty, Ransom, and Holster all wheeze at the expression on Bitty’s face before scrambling to cover each others’ eyes. Torn between bending over to pick up the towel and literally running away , Bitty freezes in place.
“Would you sing for me again, sometime?” Comes a soft, accented voice from just behind Bitty, prompting him to shift just slightly to catch sight of a brightly blushing face, averted eyes, and an outstretched towel. No one has ever asked him that before and Bitty is suddenly too overwhelmed to do more than clutch his towel in front of his bits and open and close his mouth in a particularly stunning imitation of a fish.
Chuckling just as softly as he spoke, but going even more red at the potentially inappropriate contact, Jack steps closer to secure the towel firmly around Bitty’s waist again. “Or I guess I could just wait for the next time you shower, eh?”
“Is that a chirp, sir?” is Bitty’s automatic response.
“It’s… a proposition.”
Faintly, in the background, he hears Lardo say “I can’t believe this is real life right now,” and Ransom saying, “Is this why everyone thinks he’s hot shit? Has Jack secretly been a player this whole time ?” but he can’t really concentrate over the sound of rounded French-Canadian vowels and the sight of increasingly red cheeks.
“For me to enthrall you?” Bitty is confused, but that doesn’t give his mouth creative license to say stupid things like that oh my God .
Jack, though, just laughs and says, “While being enthralled wasn’t terrible, especially if kissing you is involved, I think maybe I’d like to be in my right mind on our first date.”
“You want me to sing in the shower for our first date?” Bitty’s mouth needs to stop doing things by itself. Jack, for all that it seems impossible, goes more red.
(There’s a chorus of oh my god’s and Bitty’s a siren how is he this bad at flirting and this can’t be happening s and that clutch motherfucker! from the peanut gallery that both Jack and Bitty are either ignoring, or simply can’t hear over the sound of their own romantic incompetence.)
Jack seems to understand that beating around the bush is not helping matters, and finally meets Bitty’s eyes again as he says, “Go on a date with me, please.” Bitty, for all his internal excitement, has literally stopped functioning because the straight boy he’s had a crush on for months is suddenly not straight and asking him out , and he’s in a towel .
Strong, small hands grip Bitty’s shoulders as Lardo steers him bodily from the room, calling over her shoulder, “Meet him in the kitchen in fifteen minutes and do this when he’s fully clothed, Jack! You’re both hopeless !”
She then steers him all the way into his room, sitting him down on his bed, and muttering, “Non-fae creatures are so stupid ,” under her breath before she forcefully closes the door behind herself, leaving Bitty alone in his bedroom.
Bitty flops back on his bed, stares at the ceiling, and thinks that this might just be what beginnings feel like.