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When the Falconers’ coaches give the team their schedules, and Jack sees an empty long weekend for American Thanksgiving, he calls Bitty first.

The days leading up to Thanksgiving see Bitty taking multiple trips to the Stop-and-Shop (the murder one, not the racist one), and stocking up on all the necessities: butter, sugar, flour, eggs. He buys cans of pumpkin puree and sweet potatoes, bread for stuffing, cranberry sauce, the whole fixings. He emails the whole team about the dress code again, taking care to include Shitty into the message as well, just on the off chance. 

(Shitty texts him back an incomprehensible mix of law jargon and increasingly colorful curses, but Bitty can read the, “I want to but I can’t; law school is hell; tell everyone Happy Thanksgiving,” loud and clear.)

He takes a bus from Samwell to one of the organic grocery stores nearby and splurges on pure Canadian maple syrup and the freshest granny smith apples. For the pies, of course. 

When his mother asks about it, seeing the charge on his card, he tells her the same thing.  

On Thursday morning, before heading into the kitchen, Bitty takes the new sheets—a queen short, perfect for the now-not-as-new couch—out of their packaging and launders them.

“I guess your twin extra long must be a tight fit,” Holster remarks, spotting the laundry basket on the kitchen table. He leans against the doorway, side-eyeing Ransom and sharing twin knowing looks. 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Bitty says, voice light with practiced indifference. He focuses his gaze on the pie crust in front of him and kneads it a little too hard. 

“Sure, Bits,” Ransom reaches out and musses his hair.  

Bitty yelps when simple mussing turns into a headlock, which turns into light wrestling. It only ends when the oven timer dings and Bitty ducks under Ransom’s arms to let the smell of fresh pumpkin pie waft into the air.  

The scent lingers late into the evening, as Bitty continues with Thanksgiving Day preparations, even as he chops carrots, celery, and onions, even as 20+ boys (and Lardo and Farmer) pile into the Haus and crack open twice as many beers, and even as said boys attempt to devour all the food in sight.

Bitty swears he still smells it even when Jack comes home, a little late to dinner, sleep-creased and smelling like recycled air. He has a duffel bag on one shoulder and a garment bag over the other.

He barely makes it through the door before half the team descends upon him, overcrowding the relatively tiny entry way. The game on TV blares on in the background, but it seems quiet compared to the sudden roar on teenage boys. Bitty stands back for good measure, leaning against the wall with a grin on his face until the sea of overly-excited and/or semi-starstruck hockey players part. 

“Hey Jack.”

“Hey, Bitty,” Jack says once Lardo pulls away from yelling at him for not Skyping often enough. “Sorry I’m late.”

Bitty purses his lips. “I’ll forgive you. We saved you some pie. Your favorite.”

The maple-crusted apple pie went untouched all evening, by some unspoken rule. 

“I better go and get changed then, eh?” Jack holds up the garment bag, giving it a little shake. 

“You better.”

Jack grins and breaks away to head upstairs, and slowly, slowly, everyone else files back into the kitchen. The Thanksgiving day shenanigans continue, not subdued but charged with a different energy. Everyone sneaks glances at Bitty and Bitty dutifully pretends not to notice. 

Chowder quietly vacates his seat to squeeze in on the other side of Farmer the second Jack comes back downstairs, clad in nice jeans, a crisp shirt, and a deep blue sweater. Everyone dutifully pretends not to notice. 

Jack sits down, fills up his plate, and immediately starts fielding questions about the NHL from the curious new frogs. Holster and Ransom threaten a food fight at one point (against each other or against everyone else remains to be seen), and whatever strange leftover tension begins to bleed out.

Midway through a bite of turkey and describing his teammates, Jack’s ankle hooks around Bitty’s. Only Lardo notices how Bitty ducks his head suddenly and avoids eye contact with anyone for at least a minute. 

That night, after the game, when everyone starts heading to bed or back to the dorms, Dex carefully pushes the TV against the wall, Nursey helps Bitty pull out the bed from the couch, and they both help spread the freshly-washed sheets out on the thin mattress before saying goodnight. 

Jack at least waits until Ransom and Holster are out of earshot before offering the bed to a couple of too-drunk freshmen and sneaking off up the stairs, down a familiar hallway. 

He finds Bitty standing beside his bed, bedside lamp on and phone casting a blue-white glow on his face. 

“I set up the sofa bed for you and everything,” Bitty teases quietly, glancing over his shoulder and setting his phone aside. 

“Some of the frogs crashed on it early,” Jack lies. “Besides, I left my bag up here.”

“I noticed.” 

They stand there for too long, spend too long stupidly smiling at each other. 

“Well, go on then,” Bitty says finally. “You know where the bathroom is, and you’ll know where I’ll be.”

Jack grins, takes his bag, and makes a shoddy attempt at proper dental hygiene. He might have put his shirt on inside out, but he hardly notices. 

When he gets back to the room, Bitty is sitting in bed, still on his phone. “Don’t you ever get off that thing?” Jack chirps quietly, dropping his bag off by the door. 

“Weak,” Bitty scoffs. He flips the corner of his comforter down. “You’ll freeze if you stand there long enough, c’mon.” 

Jack pads to the bed as Bitty shuffles over, back to the wall. The bed creaks under the weight of both of them, so different from the plush mattress and too-many pillows in Jack’s apartment in Providence. The springs dig into his back through the mattress pad and he’s never felt more at home. 

Bitty sleeps like a child, hands tucked under his head, Señor Bunny smushed against his chest. His eyes already start to slip shut. “Get the light, would you?”

Jack grapples over his shoulder until he clicks the lamp off, plunging the room into still darkness, moonlight filtering in through the shades. He rolls onto his side so that he and Bitty are curled towards each other like parentheses or quotation marks.  

Bitty’s breathing evens out, and Jack lets himself move a little closer. His lips press near Bitty’s hairline, or perhaps it’s just coincidence and proximity. His next words barely shift the hair on Bitty’s head.

“Bonne nuit, et je t’aime.”

Jack closes his eyes and lets himself sink into the mattress, halfway to dreamland when he hears Bitty shift and say, “Je t’aime aussi.” 

He nearly falls off the bed.

“Bitty, did you just…”

The bed shakes with quiet laughter. Bitty opens his eyes, but only to reach up and press a short kiss to Jack’s lips. “Language requirement.”

“You’re taking French?”

“Mmhm,” Bitty moves back, but keeps his legs pressed against Jack’s. “Parisian French, though. Not proper French or anything.”

“Damn right,” Jack huffs out a laugh in wonder. “We’ll have to fix that.”

“Tomorrow,” Bitty murmurs, a smile on his face.