Jack Zimmermann had no idea what to expect after he kissed Eric Bittle post-graduation; all he knew was that he couldn’t ignore the butterflies the other boy gave him for much longer. The prospect of not seeing him every day and hearing his accent and eating his pies felt like the worst kind of torture. He just knew that he wouldn’t be able to leave this wonderful, life-changing place without finally giving in to the feelings that had been slowly developing for some time now.
Suddenly, summer became a much more exciting prospect because there was now the promise of uninterrupted time with Bitty to do whatever they pleased. Of course, his time in Madison had some restrictions since Bitty’s parents would be around most of the time, and the small town wasn’t necessarily known for being accepting.
All of those caveats were worth it, however, when they drove off, all alone, to a private field in Mr. Bittle’s truck to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. Jack pulled Bitty close to him and kissed him with all the pent-up desire he’d had to repress for so long. They stayed out there, cuddled in the bed of the truck long after the fireworks ended, enjoying the ability to fully be together without having to conceal anything. It didn’t go beyond making out and some heavy petting that night, but Jack wasn’t sure he had ever felt so satisfied.
He didn’t want this, whatever this may be, to be like what he had with Kent. His… thing with Kent was purely physical, an outlet with the only other person who knew exactly how crazy his life had become. There were feelings there, but they never went beyond friendship and lust. Jack Zimmermann never loved Kent Parson, he just liked that he could relate to him and gave a perfectly adequate handjob.
Jack was a sucker for shorter blondes, so his attraction to Bitty was fairly inevitable, yet he never expected to feel anything more towards him than physical attraction and annoyance. Bitty was a distraction who posed a threat to his reputation, as well as the team’s chances of winning due to his inability to take a check. Once Jack began to spend time with him off the rink, with the other guys, he felt that ever-present tug towards him get a little stronger. Thankfully, at the time, he had a strict policy against hooking up with teammates, so he knew nothing could come of that attraction.
Except… Bitty became more than just a teammate. Shitty would always be Jack’s best friend, but maybe Bitty could also be his best friend. When he kissed Bittle, it was more than the manifestation of some kind of lust, but rather the culmination of every time he felt tingles at the slightest contact or blushed when Bitty gave him a particularly flirtatious chirp. He wanted more than a quick fuck with him; he wanted to spend nights awake talking instead of sleeping and cooking dinners and walking in the park.
The major issue with this whole arrangement was that Jack had no idea if Bitty wanted the same depth in their relationship. Obviously, the easiest thing to do would be to just talk about it, but Jack had never been known for his communication skills. He also didn’t want to face the completely possible reality that Bitty saw this as something fun and casual while Jack had to go and catch feelings.
Which brings him to the here and now: possibly being just friends with benefits with the person of his dreams.
And it turns out that being intimate with Bitty is the cruelest way to spend his summer because it only made his feelings intensify. He now knew just where to kiss on Bitty’s neck to make him shiver and the sounds he made when Jack gripped his ass with intent. He’s shared beds and showers with him, getting to know him in ways far beyond the normal confines of friendship. All these new experiences only serve to show Jack that Bitty is probably the best person he’ll ever meet and all he wants to do is spend every moment with him. The only other thing to give him such feelings has been hockey.
“Honey, can you hand me that rolling pin?” Bitty’s drawl drew Jack from his thoughts, reminding him that he had company. Adorable, sweet, devastatingly hot company wearing impossibly small shorts and an old Samwell Zimmermann jersey. Crisse .
“Here you are. What are you making?” Jack peeked over Bitty’s shoulder to potentially get a glimpse of some sort of recipe.
“Well, you have a team dinner tomorrow and I figured you could bring a maple-crusted apple pie,” Bitty said this so casually, as though Jack bringing one of his pies to a team dinner is no big deal when in reality, it felt like a confirmation of something. The team would know he hadn’t made the pie, so who does he say did? His friend? His old teammate? His lover? His - dare he even hope - boyfriend?
“Oh yeah, I think the guys would really like that. A nice treat in the off-season,” Jack placed a hand on Bitty’s hip and placed a soft kiss to his head, causing Bitty to lean into his touch and hum in satisfaction.
“Don’t you distract me, Mr. Zimmermann!” Bitty swatted his hand away, drawing a laugh from Jack, so entranced by this wonderful man.
“I’m just helping you, bud,” Jack could hear how fucking fond he sounded.
“You’re being tall and muscular and utterly distracting is what you’re doing. You know what you do to me,” Bitty turned to give him an accusatory look.
Jack wrapped his arms around Bitty’s waist and pulled him close. “Oh yeah, what do I do to you, eh?”
Bitty smiled before leaning up to connect their lips, continuing to grin into the kiss. Jack tightened his grip and lifted Bitty just slightly, making the angle just a bit better. He was absolutely sure there was no way he’d ever get tired of this feeling, the tingles and shivers and heat that bloomed every time they kissed.
Suddenly, Bitty broke off the kiss, giving Jack a small smack to the chest and a faux-annoyed look. “Jack, I have work to do! None of that until this pie is all done.”
“You started it, sweetheart,” Jack smirked.
“Well, if you’re just going to mock me, you get no more cute pet names. I swear you have more chirps than a bird.”
Was this how friends with benefits talked to each other? The chirping felt much more like flirting, coming from a place of comfortability and familiarity. Jack couldn’t imagine having this conversation with Ransom or Holster or even Shitty. Those guys were his very best friends, but he still felt so much more comfortable with Bitty than he ever felt with them. An ache blossomed in his chest as he tried to push down the realization that was struggling to bubble over. He loved him. Two months ago, Jack had raced across campus to kiss Bitty, giving in to the feelings that had been growing for so long and now? Now he was sure he had fallen in love with him. It was too soon, too casual, too much.
The emotions attached to this revelation must have been written all over his face because Bitty looked concerned, “I’m only kidding, honey. I’ll call you every pet name in the book. I’ll even go off-book.”
Jack wanted to laugh, to at least break the tension, but he couldn’t think about anything beyond that one word: love. Why did he have to fall in love? He couldn’t have just kept it casual and not scared Bitty off with the depth of his feelings? How was he supposed to continue this whole thing if Bitty thought they were just hooking up while Jack was falling deeper and deeper?
“Jack? Are you okay, sweetheart?” Evidently, Jack had been freaking out just a bit too long and Bitty took notice of his silence and distressed expression.
“I… Bits… I just…” Jack could feel the tears prick at the corners of his eyes, everything becoming too much for him to handle.
“Honey, what’s wrong? Are you… are you breaking up with me?” Bitty sounded broken and wiggled slightly, trying to get out of Jack’s grip.
“No! I… I love you. Isn’t that the worst thing you’ve ever heard?” Jack wanted to crawl under the rock the Samwell team always joked he lived under and never have to live such a heartbreaking moment ever again. He cast his eyes down, unwilling to meet Bitty’s eyes as he rejected him.
“The worst thing? I - Jack Zimmerman, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard!” Bitty threw his arms around Jack’s neck, almost knocking him over with the sheer force of his embrace.
“What? But… I thought this was supposed to just be casual. A friends with benefits kind of thing. I wasn’t supposed to feel this way.” Jack murmured the confession into Bitty’s hair, inhaling the coconut scent of his shampoo and trying to commit the moment to memory.
Bitty pulled back, clearly scandalized, “Casual? You thought this was just casual? Jack, I’ve been loving you for so long! I know we never defined anything, but this is not casual to me. Why didn’t you just tell me how you felt?”
Jack wanted to cry, “I thought we were on different pages. But I couldn’t keep keeping secrets just to keep this going. It wasn’t fair to either of us. I love you, Bits, and this is so much more than casual to me.”
“I love you too. So much. It was never casual. You silly, dumb hockey lug.”
When they slept together that night, it was with the understanding that they were doing more than have sex; they were officially consummating a love and a partnership. This summer had been so conflicting for Jack, ultimately resulting in the greatest outcome imaginable; soon, he would start his professional hockey career with the most incredible man at his side as his lover, his partner, his boyfriend. Best summer ever.