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UN

“Bittle.”

Eric spun around in his desk chair to see an amused-looking Jack peering around the door that he’d left ajar.

“Look at this.”

Jack had a wry kind of smile on his face, stepping into the room, holding out what appeared to be a photograph. Eric reached out, his brow furrowing curiously as he glanced between Jack and the photo, before he took it from him.

It was a picture of a toddler with fat cheeks and unmistakably blue eyes. He was dressed in a duffle coat so puffy that his arms remained stationary in the air, unable to put them down at his sides. The coat was hideously patterned, red and yellow stars on a green background.

Suddenly, Eric was struggling to contain his laughter.

“Oh my god, Jack!”

“I just found it when I was unpacking some boxes.”

“You were so fat!”

Jack huffed out a laugh, looking down at his feet. Eric was still clutching the photo, grinning gleefully.

“Look at that horrific coat.”

“It was a cool coat,” Jack muttered, mock offence littering his tone — it only caused Eric to grin even harder. He looked down at the photo again. Baby Jack, although hindered by the coat, did indeed look delighted. In the background, slightly out of focus, was Jack’s mother; beautiful and blonde and laughing at her chubby little son.

“Even your mom thinks it’s hilarious,” Eric pointed out, and Jack scoffed and plucked the photo out of Eric’s hand.

“Sure, Bittle,” he said, rolling his eyes and ambling out of the room again, leaving the door slightly open the way he’d found it. Eric found himself beaming, if not slightly confused.

Jack willingly showing him baby photos? What on earth.

DEUX

Eric had kind of hoped he’d learnt his lesson about eavesdropping after the whole Epikegster fiasco, but he just couldn’t help but come to a sudden halt in the hallway outside Jack’s room as he realised there was definitely more than one voice coming from within.

“Holy— Cut that motherfucker, Rick! Aim for the head!”

“Oh my god.”

It’s just Shitty, Eric realised moments later, shoulders relaxing unconsciously. He ran his tongue over his teeth, debating whether he should say goodnight or not. Then he decided it wouldn’t be any harm to let them know he was going to sleep. Maybe they’d keep the noise down.

The door wasn’t fully shut, a crack of light seeping through, and Eric knocked gently before pushing the door open.

He was greeted with the sight of both Shitty and Jack sitting against the headboard of Jack’s bed, Shitty’s laptop between them. Jack had the neckline of his t-shirt pulled up over the bottom half of his face, almost as if he was hiding. Shitty wasn’t wearing a shirt. Or much of anything, really.

“Uh…”

“Bitty!” Shitty sat up, almost jostling his laptop off his knees, no modesty to be found. “You’re up late.”

“Well, y’all’re being so noisy I don’t know who could even be sleeping around here,” Eric teased, his eyes flickering over to Jack, who seemed to be smiling from behind his t-shirt.

“I’d be sleeping if I was allowed,” Jack said, glancing sidelong at Shitty. Shitty only smirked, punching Jack’s bicep.

“We’re watching a show about zombies, it requires some screaming,” Shitty explained, getting up off the bed holding his laptop. “Sit your ass down, Bits. We’re about to educate you.”

“We?” Jack mumbled.

“Uh,” Eric jerked his chin towards Shitty’s junk, purposely avoiding looking. “Maybe put some pants on?”

“Maybe not,” Shitty said, managing to sound both nonchalant and defiant at once.

“It’s easier just to sit, Bittle,” Jack sighed, sounding strained.

Eric sighed, biting his lip as he climbed onto the bed, crawling up to sit against the headboard as Shitty settled back down. He was suddenly very aware of Jack’s side pressed against his, their hips touching, Jack’s shoulder at just the right height for Eric to lean against.

Somehow, Shitty being entirely naked beside him didn’t even compare.

Eric found it hard to concentrate on the show. He was a little squeamish at best, and quickly understood why Jack appeared to be slinking further and further back inside his t-shirt. Shitty however, was enthralled and enthusiastic, bouncing on the bed with every skull-split and blood-splatter. ( “Lord.” ) Eric closed his eyes against it, wincing, feeling Jack’s shoulders shake with laughter next to him; a solid line of warmth.

He didn’t remember falling asleep.

TROIS

Eric was cleaning beer cans off of the kitchen surfaces at 4am, more than tipsy, when Ransom crashed in, followed by Holster and the frogs. Rans swept his arm across the kitchen table, sending cans and solo cups clattering and splashing to the floor. Eric struggled to suppress a deep sigh, torn between curiosity and exhaustion.

“What’s happening?” he asked.

“Spin the bottle, Bits,” Holster grinned, and lifted Eric under his arms to deposit him at the head of the table. “Everyone’s playing, Yes Homo style.”

“Isn’t this supposed to be played on the floor?” Eric squeaked, too drunk to articulate that this was probably a very bad idea.

“Have you seen the floor in there?” Nursey asked, lifting an eyebrow teasingly. Eric nodded wordlessly in understanding. He wouldn’t want to sit on the floor after a Kegster either. Shitty barged into the kitchen then, with Lardo and Jack in tow. Jack looked rumpled, like he’d literally been dragged out of bed for the occasion. Eric wouldn’t be surprise if he had been sleeping.

“Alright fuckers,” Shitty picked up an empty solo cup, using it like a microphone, “We’re playing Spin The Bottle: Haus Edition Volume 4.”

Eric made the mistake of drinking from a nearby cup as a cheer went up from the team. He choked on a vodka cranberry.

“You’ve done this before?” he wheezed, blinking at them all owlishly. Jack sat down heavily in the nearest chair, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms, and Shitty clapped him heavily on the shoulder.

“Bits, you sweet tropical fish. This is Samwell.”

Holster set an empty bottle down in the centre of the table, and everyone shuffled in around it, giddy, cloudy-eyed with alcohol. Lardo sat herself up on the counter with a bottle of beer.

“Oh, I’m just an observer,” she told a confused Eric, a grin curling at her mouth, making her look exceptionally feline.

“Johnson loved Haus Bottle,” Holster said, wistfully, and without missing a beat everyone else (bar the frogs and Eric) chimed in— “Entirely pointless towards the narrative but thoroughly enjoyable, if not technically canon.”

“What,” Eric mouthed, and Jack laughed from behind his hand.

“Can someone spin the bottle already? I have an 8am class,” Jack exasperated, though there was still an edge of laughter in his voice. The bottle lay motionless on the table in front of Eric, so he reached out and spun it, and earned a kiss from Ransom for his troubles. Ransom spun and kissed Nursey, Nursey kissed Dex, Dex pecked Holster on the cheek and blushed so hard they briefly worried he would pass out.

It was all very fast paced and giggly, Lardo shouting obscenities from her perch on the counter, Shitty using his cup as a mic to announce who was kissing whom and for how long.

Holster spun the bottle, and it slowed to a stop to point at Jack.

Eric’s heart thumped painfully hard against his ribcage, though he wasn't sure if it was from excitement or— or, he didn’t really know. Not quite jealousy. Anticipation?

Holster edged around the table towards Jack, and Eric thought about how this would’ve been at least ten times less awkward if they’d all just sat on the floor of the living room, Kegster-mess be damned. Jack still looked somewhat sleepy, dressed in a soft-looking red t-shirt that was slightly stretched at the neck, his eyes heavier than usual. He remained seated, and Holster leaned over him. Eric knew that even if Jack was standing, he’d still have to tilt his head up to reach Holster’s lips.

Eric got an eyeful of Jack’s fingers tangling in blond hair, almost tenderly, and choked on his own breath.

Jack and Holster pulled apart, Jack smiling and glassy-eyed, Holster chuckling quietly and ruffling Jack’s hair as he straightened up.

“Always a pleasure, Mr Zimmermann.”

“Mr Zimmermann is my dad, Holtzy—”

“I’d make out with him too,” Holster shrugged, to uproarious laughter from the rest of the team, and Eric managed to slip away in the commotion, his heart still pounding in his chest.

TROIS ET DEMI

A note had been slipped under the door when Eric woke the next morning.

Everyone’s really sorry if things went too far last night — no one meant to offend you. We’re so lucky to have you, Bits.

                —L

Vaguely confused, Eric folded the note over and set it down on his desk. Judging by the light outside it was past noon, and his mouth felt dry like sandpaper. It wasn’t like him to sleep so late, even after a party, but then he tried to remember how much he’d drank the night before, and couldn’t get the numbers straight in his head. He sighed, shrugged on a hoodie, and made his way downstairs.

The Haus was quiet and clean for the most part. It was still obvious there had been a party, but luckily there wasn’t much left to tidy. Probably thanks to one of the frogs hoping to get Jack’s dibs, Eric thought as he made his way to the kitchen — and found Jack himself sitting there, drinking coffee.

“Oh,” Eric croaked, before he could stop himself. Jack lifted his head, eyebrows raised in surprise.

“Bitty. You’re up.”

Bitty, Eric thought, something akin to butterflies in his stomach. Though that could’ve just been the belated hangover catching up to him.

“There’s coffee,” Jack said, his voice soft in the way it only ever was for Eric. “Fresh in the pot.”

“Merci,” Eric replied, just to see Jack smile into his cup. He sat down at the table, adjacent to Jack, quiet with his cup between his hands, still waking to the world. Jack bumped his foot against Eric’s beneath the table.

“You disappeared real quick last night.”

“Tired,” Eric said, lifting his gaze to meet Jack’s. A smile came easily to his lips, and Jack’s shoulders seemed to relax a touch.

“The guys were worried that we… that you maybe thought we were just fucking with you,” Jack said, chewing his lip. “But you know we’d never— you know we wouldn’t, right Bits?”

Lardo’s note suddenly made a lot more sense.

“Of course, Jack,” Eric said, hoarsely, reaching out to touch the back of Jack’s hand. “Last night I was just… drunk. Overwhelmed.”

“Overwhelmed,” Jack repeated, starting to smile. Eric huffed out a laugh.

“Y’alls expect me to sit around and watch a group of hot-as-hell college boys playin' tonsil hockey—”

“Hah. Nice.”

“—and not think about joining in? Overwhelming to say the least, Jack Zimmermann.”

Jack grinned and sat back in his seat. Eric couldn’t help but notice the blotchy flush appearing high across his cheekbones.

“You think we’re hot?”

“I’m not sure whether to reply with a hockey/ice pun or a hot-pie-cooling-on-the-window joke.”

“Still drunk eh, Bittle?”

“Entirely possible.”

QUATRE

The power went out some time after eleven, followed by an indignant roar from the Mario Kart party downstairs. Eric sat on his bed listening to the commotion, checking that both his phone and his laptop had a sufficient charge. He could hear Shitty, loudest voice above the rest (Chowder’s panicking was a close second), directing everyone to where the candles and flashlights and blackout supplies were left. And then, so quiet he wasn’t sure if he was imagining it, Eric heard footsteps on the stairs.

From his bed, he saw light creep across the floor in front of his desk from the crack beneath the door, and then there was a soft tap on the door.

“Bittle?”

Jack.

“Come on in, Jack,” Eric called, quickly running a hand through his hair, still damp from his earlier shower. He automatically saved his essay and set his laptop aside, and then the door opened and Jack peered at him around the corner of the closet, a flashlight in his hand lighting his way.

“Just checking on you. The power’s gone out all down the street,” Jack explained, almost sounding bashful, but mostly awkward. Eric wondered if maybe Jack was blushing, suddenly wishing he could see his face a little better —Oh!

Eric reached down behind his bed for the battery pack belonging to the fairy lights above his bed.

“I noticed,” he said, smiling, “but luckily… I have my own supply.”

Jack laughed, a soft, fond noise, as the golden glow lit up Eric’s room. Jack switched off his flashlight, pushed the door to Eric’s room closed quietly, then came back to sit on the end of his bed.

“Guess I’m staying up here then,” he said with an easy smile (something Eric had at one point been sure was something he’d never get from Jack). “It’s a mad haus downstairs.”

“You only love me for my lights,” Eric sniffed in mock offence. Though it was probably no secret that he was thrilled, unable to stop himself from returning Jack’s grin.

“Maybe I just like spending time with you,” Jack said lightly.

“Hmm. Guess I’ll never know.”


 

Eric looked up from his essay at some time after one, when the noise downstairs had calmed down, to find Jack asleep at the end of the bed, his back against the wall. He looked ridiculously uncomfortable, brow furrowed and shoulders hunched in on himself. At some point he'd wrapped himself in the blanket Eric kept there for colder Spring nights.

Eric put his laptop down on the floor and got up carefully, not to disturb Jack, to change into the hoodie and shorts he usually slept in. He picked up the flashlight Jack had brought in with him, creeping down the hall to brush his teeth and wash his face. The Haus was quiet again, only faint murmurs coming from down the stairs, and Eric managed to creep back into his room without disturbing anyone or even being noticed.

Jack was still asleep in his painful-looking position, so Eric gently nudged his shoulder. Jack looked up at him and blinked sleepily, eyes bleary.

“Ow,” he croaked.

“You looked uncomfortable,” Eric whispered, sitting down at the head of his bed, legs folded.

“Yep,” Jack sat up, rubbing his neck. “Power back yet?”

Eric shook his head, curling up to tuck his legs under his sheets. Jack scooted to the edge of the bed, sighing. He gently squeezed Eric's ankle through the sheets.

“Okay, well. You know where I am.”

“Across the hall.”

“Across the hall,” Jack repeated, softly. The door clicked open and shut again.

Eric turned off his lights.

CINQ

Jack had only had two drinks, so they figured out something was seriously wrong when he could barely stand upright by himself. Holster was holding him up on one side, Ransom on the other, and there were people shouting over the bar music but Eric couldn’t really figure out what any of them were saying.

Then he spotted Dee, the girl who’d been hanging off of (a very obviously disinterested) Jack’s arm all night, crying behind them, Shitty looking furious at her side.

“—thought that it’d be a good idea? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know! I just—”

“—know absolutely nothing about him, do you?”

Eric, torn between separating Shitty and Dee and following Holster, Ransom and Jack, hovered awkwardly in the centre of the busy student bar. When Jack got to the door and nearly collapsed, Eric made the decision to follow them, gut clenching with worry.

Holster and Ransom had Jack leaning against a bench outside. Ransom was on the phone, looking furious, Holster rubbing Jack’s back and seemingly trying to keep him awake, making him drink a bottle of water.

“What happened?” Eric asked, a little breathless with worry. Jack’s eyes were glazed, his face so pale. Eric’s never seen Holster so angry.

“Dee fucking slipped something in his drink. Fucking roofied him.”

Jack made a weak, dizzy sound, sitting down heavily onto the bench, and Eric rushed forward to keep him upright.

“Sorry,” Jack mumbled.

“Don’t you apologise, hun,” Eric murmured, cupping Jack’s face and tilting it up, “You’re okay.”

Jack looked up at him, blinking slowly, before he nodded. Eric’s stomach dropped, and he wasn’t sure if it was fear or fury. He felt sick.

“Shitty’s trying to find out exactly what Dee slipped him. I just called a taxi, Ransom’s calling the meds on campus,” Holster explained, his tone unusually clipped. Eric rubbed his palm in large circles over Jack’s back, and Jack leaned into him, his forehead against Eric’s stomach.

When they finally got back to the Haus, Jack spent most of the next hour in the bathroom vomiting with Holster rubbing his back.

Eric panicked downstairs and made soup.


 

“He’s asleep,” Ransom said, sitting down at the kitchen table, head in his hands. Eric thought that if the circumstances where any different, he might have laughed at Rans sounding so much like an exhausted parent.

“You guys should go to bed,” Eric said, softly, as Holster too wandered into the kitchen. “I’ll leave my bedroom door open, keep an eye on him.”

Ransom and Holster glanced at one another. They both looked exhausted, and it was only 11pm. As they retreated up the stairs, Eric heard one of them mumble to the other about calling Shitty, and Eric felt that knot of worry tug in his stomach again. He put the soup away in the fridge, cleaned the surfaces as quickly as he could, and went upstairs to check on Jack.

Jack’s door was left open, the room inside dark. Eric stood in the doorway for a moment, and as his eyes adjusted to the light, he realised Jack was awake.

“Hey,” Eric whispered, crossing the room to kneel down at the side of Jack’s bed. Unexpectedly, Jack’s lips twitched at the corners with the hint of a fond smile. “Feeling better?”

“’S a bit blurry.”

“You’re okay, though,” Eric reassured him. Jack frowned deeply, but nodded in agreement. He moved his hand to fluff the pillow under his head, but his movements were slow and sloppy, so Eric leaned forward to help him, instead.

“This used to be a good feeling,” Jack murmured. Eric felt his stomach turn at the tone of his voice, such weight in such little words. “It’s not anymore.”

Eric couldn’t help himself, reaching out to brush Jack’s bangs away from his face. It wasn’t your choice, he wanted to say, she did this to you. It’s not your fault.

“Get some rest, okay Jack?” he said, softly, staring to get to his feet. Jack nodded, head down on the pillow. Eric made a move to leave them room, “I’ll make you something to eat in the morning when you feel better. There's soup.”

“Are you staying?” Jack asked.

“Hmm?” Eric hummed, turning half back towards Jack.

Jack shook his head a little, nosing into the pillow, and Eric thought that he really wasn’t acting like himself at all. Which was… expected, he supposed.

“I don’t want to be alone like this.”

Eric could hear the unspoken ‘it’s too much’ in Jack’s voice, could see it in the way his shoulders trembled under the covers.

“Sure, Jack, I’ll stay. Let me just get ready for bed?”

Eric changed, brushed his teeth, dragged his comforter and pillow into Jack’s room, huddling into the armchair at the end of Jack’s bed. Jack lifted his head, hair in disarray, eyes heavy with exhaustion.

“Thanks, Bits,” he said, softly.

SIX

When Eric looked out his bedroom window to see what the commotion outside was, he hadn't anticipated seeing Jack standing on the lawn, staring up at the tree. The tree itself seemed to be rustling wildly of it’s own accord, despite there being no wind, so Eric opened his window and carefully climbed out into the reading room.

“Bittle,” Jack said, half smiling as he turned back to look up at the tree, “Eh Shitty, Bittle’s out in the reading room.”

“Ask him if he like cats!” Shitty replied, nowhere to be seen.

“What?” Eric frowned, craning his head as if he could see around the tree. Jack just laughed, ducking out of the way as Shitty jumped down from the branches, landing neatly beside Jack on the ground.

“Bits!” Shitty shouted, “There’s a fuckin’ kitten in the tree. Get your pert little ass down here, I have a plan!”

Eric laughed, making to climb back in his window.

“Bitty we don’t have time for stairs, just jump down.”

“Jump?!” Eric screeched.

“Jack’ll catch you,” Shitty shrugged.

“I will?” Jack sounded confused, until Shitty glared at him briefly. “I will.”

“I think I’ll take the stairs,” Eric frowned, one foot already in the window.

“What, you don’t trust me, Bittle?” Jack chirped, “Think you’re too heavy for me to catch?”

Rationally, Eric knew this probably wouldn’t end well. But also, he could now vaguely hear the kitten mewling in the tree, and it tugged on his goddamn heart strings.

“Gosh. Fine.”

“Just lower yourself over the edge and drop. I’ll get you. You could probably even do it without me.” Jack assured him — although it wasn’t very reassuring at all.

Eric got to the edge of the roof and sat down with his legs over the edge.

“This roof is higher than I’d anticipated.”

“I got you, Bits,” Jack said, gently, breath huffing as if he was about to laugh. “On three, push yourself down, okay? One, two, three—”

Eric made a sound that was probably more embarrassing than he’d like to remember, letting himself fall forward, yelping as Jack caught him around the waist, tightly. The head rush would have been enough to make him topple over, if he wasn’t being held upright.

“See? Caught you.” And it felt nice, being caught after falling.

Eric’s legs were wrapped around Jack’s ribs, knees tucked up under his arms like a reverse piggy-back. He couldn’t seem to make himself let go. Jack smiled up at him, seemingly on the edge of laughter, his eyes crinkling—

“Aw, fuck,” Shitty mumbled, and Jack carefully set Eric down as they turned to look at him. Shitty was pointing to the base of the tree, where a small, ginger kitten sat, watching them. “Sorry Bits. Guess we didn’t need you to jump after all.”


 

The kitten stuck around, and became surprisingly fond of Jack. Jack, in turn, became surprisingly fond of Pumpkin Spice Latte, as Ransom and Eric named her (because Jack had immediately vetoed Toulouse).

PSL cried loudly for Jack when he wasn't home, followed him everywhere around the haus, waited outside his bedroom door so that she could sleep on his chair at night. Sometimes on his chest.

“We haven’t had a Haus cat in like, years,” Shitty whispered, when he caught Eric watching Jack and PSL napping on the green sofa. “But that li’l fucker chose us. So, why not.”

PSL stayed.

SEPT

Shitty didn’t seem thrilled to be woken so early, but he didn’t seem to be mad either. The shower in the main bathroom had been broken for three days, so the one in-between Shitty and Jack’s rooms was up for grabs whenever possible.

“Sorry,” Eric winced, watching Shitty fall face-first back into his lofted bed, mumbling something about Dex’s handyman skills and a new showerhead.

Eric locked the door between Shitty’s room and the bathroom and jumped into the shower, willing himself to wake up and get into gear. He was just rinsing shampoo out of his hair, when he heard the door open and close, and the tap running in the sink.

“Sorry Shits, early class,” Jack explained, sounding as if he had a toothbrush in his mouth, “mind if I jump in?”

“Uh,” Eric cleared his throat, picked up a bottle of conditioner, “This— this isn’t Shitty.”

Jack calmly spat toothpaste into the sink, “I keep forgetting your shower is broken.”

“Do you and Shitty really share showers?” Eric asked, trying not to grin at the thought.

“Well, I mean— sometimes.”

“Isn’t that weird?”

“It’s the same as the locker room” Jack explained, “Isn’t it? No looking down.”

“Shitty definitely looks down.”

“We just… switch out,” Jack said, sounding as though he was trying very hard not to laugh.

Eric looked around him. While the shower was very long bathtub wise, it wasn’t very wide.

“How do you get past each other?” He asked, without really thinking.

“Bittle,” Jack said very quietly, “Was that a joke about my gigantic ass?”

“…No,” Eric grinned, and then shrieked with laughter as Jack ripped back the curtain between them. “Oh my god!”

“It’s a bit early for such ambitious chirps, eh Bittle? Not even 9am.”

“Close the curtain, Jack!”

Shitty, still in his room, must have thrown a shoe at the door of the bathroom judging by the large thump. Jack nearly jumped out of his bones. The thump was followed by a vaguely muffled ‘KEEP IT DOWN, LOVEBIRDS.’

Jack smirked, pulled the curtain closed.

“Hurry up, yeah? If you’re not keen on sharing.”

Eric wasn’t entirely sure he’d say no if Jack asked again.

HUIT

Eric was in the kitchen getting the popcorn ready for movie night, when Jack slipped past him to grab the beers out of the fridge, sliding his hands over Eric’s hips as he passed by.

“Got a bottle of red today if you’d prefer that?” Jack asked, taking a bottle of wine out of the rack.

“Oh,” Eric felt himself flushing, pleased, “Beer’s fine, thanks.”

“You sure? I only got it because I know you like it.”

Now would be as good a time as any to cross the two feet between them, stretch up on his toes to kiss Jack; Eric knew that. It wasn’t what he did, though. It was downright thoughtful of Jack, who knew Eric only drank beer because it was there, because it was easier to pace himself when he didn’t totally enjoy the taste of what he was drinking. Red wine, however, took him to a whole other place entirely.

“Thank you, Jack,” he said, softly. “Wine sounds great.”

Jack surprised Eric by taking two wine glasses out of the cupboard and setting them down on the counter top.

“Great. You uncork, and I’ll bring these beers to the guys.

“We’re a great pair of housewives,” Eric commented, just to hear Jack’s snort of laughter as he walked out the door. Eric uncorked the bottle with relative ease, picked up the popcorn, the glasses and the bottle, and followed Jack into where the guys were huddled around the TV.

Holster looked up in surprise as Eric walked in. “We have wine glasses?” he asked. “How the hell have they survived all the kegsters?”

“No idea,” Eric mused, looking around for a place to sit. There was one seat left, next to Chowder on the sofa. Eric looked to Jack, who was setting the crate of beers down on the coffee table.

“Jack, you wanna sit?” he asked, nodding his head towards the free seat. Eric was small enough that he was sure he could sit on the armrest of Lardo’s armchair and not cause any problems.

“Huh?” Jack frowned, “Sit down, Bitty. I’ll take the floor.”

There was never any point arguing with Jack, and Eric didn't even really want to, sitting next to Chowder (Dex on Chowder’s other side) with a smile. He filled a glass halfway with wine, and passed it down to Jack as he sat on the floor at Eric’s feet, and then filled his own glass, handing the bottle off to Jack to set on the coffee table.

True to usual movie-night fashion, nobody really watched the movie. Ransom and Nursey ended up wrestling while Holster threw popcorn. Dex and Shitty had one of their Passive Aggressive Political Convos™, and Chowder worriedly texted Farmer about it, while occasionally taking part. Jack and Lardo talked about Jack’s photography elective, Jack’s head resting back against Eric’s knees, Eric’s hand in his hair, and Pumpkin Spice Latte in Lardo’s lap.

After a while everyone settled down to watch the end of the movie, although nobody really knew what was happening. Eventually, Chowder and Dex got up to leave, citing an early programming class in the morning.

“Yo, Jack,” Shitty said, and Jack jerked upright so suddenly that he almost knocked his glass — He’d fallen asleep with Eric’s hand in his hair.

“Yeah?” He asked, clearing his throat. Shitty smiled a crooked, knowing smile.

“Free seat, bro. Dex and Chow split like half an hour ago.”

Jack’s head whipped around to stare up at the empty spaces next to Eric. He seemed to flush slightly, cheeks pink and luminous as he got to his feet, taking Chowder’s seat, pressed maybe a little too close to Eric’s side.

Jack leaned forward to pick up the wine bottle.

“Refill?”

“Thank you, sweetheart,” Eric murmured, already two glasses in and feeling easy with his terms of endearment. Jack had barely sat back again when Pumpkin jumped up into his lap, doing a quick circle before settling down.

“Isn’t this fucking domestic?” Shitty chuckled, raising his eyebrows. Eric just rolled his eyes, leaning a little heavier into Jack’s side, taking the bowl of popcorn when Lardo offered it. He tried not to, but he couldn’t help but suddenly picture a future where they weren’t sitting on the disgusting green couch in the middle of the Haus, but maybe somewhere with both their names on the mailbox.

The rest of the team slowly started to trickle out over the next hour. Nursey left not long after Dex and Chowder, and Ransom and Holster hit the hay just before 1am. Eric was too comfortable, the level of wine in the bottle in front of him slowly decreasing. He didn’t even protest when Lardo got down on the floor and peeled off his socks and shoes, producing a small bottle of blue nail polish from the pocket of her jacket, and proceeding to paint his toenails. Shitty sat in front of Jack, and Eric learned that Jack knew how to french braid hair, something he hadn’t expected in a thousand years.

Eventually even Shitty and Lardo retreated for the night, both heading up the stairs (although Eric wouldn’t ponder this until the next morning), leaving Jack and Eric with a mostly-empty bottle of wine, and the dregs of a glass between them.

Jack laughed when Eric lifted his foot into the air, wiggled his blue-tipped toes, turned his head and proclaimed, “They match your eyes.”

“Suits you,” Jack said, deadpan, and Eric giggled and pressed his toes against the carpet, sighting.

“That was a good wine. You chose excellently.”

“It was nice,” Jack agreed, “I’m not even really a wine guy. But I feel good. This is a good feeling.”

Eric bit his lip, more of a reflex than any intention behind it, but it still drew Jack’s gaze straight to his mouth. Eric remembered seeing Jack pale and sweaty, curled up in his bed. This used to be a good feeling. It’s not anymore.

“Bitty,” Jack said, his voice quiet in a way Eric’s rarely ever heard. His eyes flickered up to meet Eric’s, and then fell back down to his mouth again. “I feel good when I’m with you.”

Eric felt himself lean a little closer. He was suddenly aware of how quiet the Haus was. Not a murmur, not a creak. Just him and Jack, just the sound of breathing, and Eric’s own heartbeat rushing through his ears.

“Me too, Jack.”

“Good.”

Eric wanted to chirp him. Something like, you know any other affirmatives than ‘good’? But then he felt Jack’s hands coming up against the sides of his face, gently cupping his jaw, Jack’s mouth against his— and everything except an emotion only described as ‘ !!!!! ’ went out of his mind.

Somewhat belatedly, Eric realised he’d never been kissed before, and found himself smiling against Jack’s mouth, gently pressing his hands against Jack’s firm chest. Jack pulled back, just enough that he could sigh softly before ducking back in, sucking Eric’s lower lip into his mouth.

“Is this okay?”

“Yes, Jack, gosh,” Eric stole a quick kiss, feeling his cheeks get hot, “I didn’t know you even— I hoped—”

“I showed you my ugly baby photos,” Jack said, smirking, “I fell asleep on your bed. I caught you when you fell off the roof.”

“I willingly slid off the roof,” Eric protested. “Lord. You’re terrible at this flirting thing.”

“You wanna go upstairs?” Jack asked, suddenly, his cheeks a stark pink against his pale skin. “Just to— I mean.”

“To cuddle?”

Jack nodded, a strange mix of emotions playing on his face. He was still his usual tense, awkward Jack, but now with an air of hopefulness, a softer edge, and kiss-reddened lips.

“Yeah. I do.”

Eric took his hand, and led him up the stairs, switching off the downstairs lights as they went.

NEUF

Eric woke with his forehead resting against Jack’s chest, hands around his waist. He lifted his head slowly to see Jack smiling down at him, hair tousled, eyes soft and sleepy and adoring. Eric wondered how he’d never seen it before, that look in Jack’s eyes.

He tilted his head back in lieu of a morning kiss, and Jack didn’t even need to be told to kiss his neck, sleep-chapped lips pressing sucking kisses into the skin, teeth grazing over Eric’s Adam’s apple and dipping lower into the hollow of his throat. Eric groaned as Jack held his hips in two big hands, tugging him closer.

“Morning,” Eric whispered, breathless already. Jack murmured something in return that Eric didn’t quite catch, something that may not have even been in English, but neither of them really seemed to care.

The night before had been their first kiss, then their second, and third, and many after until Eric had fallen asleep with tingling lips and a Big Canadian Boy wrapped around him; a lazy, sleepy affair. Waking up next to Jack was almost the polar opposite. Eric could already feel the blood pumping through his veins, urging his body forward towards Jack, driving him as close as possible.

“Oh,” a soft moan fell from Eric’s mouth as he felt Jack’s grip on his waist tightening, their hips sliding together. Eric, though unsurprised by the feeling of Jack’s hard cock against his lower stomach, couldn’t help but shudder in awe. It was hard to believe anyone wanted him like this, let alone Jack.

Jack’s mouth trailed from Eric’s neck to his chin, then tugged playfully at Eric’s bottom lip. His hand slid down, curling around the back of Eric’s knee to pull his leg over Jack’s thigh.

Eric pushed, until he was pressing Jack down on his back, climbing up to straddle him. He leaned down to capture Jack’s lips as he pinned his wrists back next to his head. Jack let out a laugh that tapered off into a moan as Eric began to roll his hips, grinding down on his dick and loving the way Jack’s fingers twitched like they wanted to grab.

It felt — dirty, getting off like this. But it was simple. And if Eric knew one thing, it was that this relationship was going to have to be as uncomplicated as possible if it was to work. It was going to be Eric loving Jack, and Jack loving him back, and everything else would just have to adhere to that.

There was a tired, burning sensation in his thighs, and Eric let go of Jack’s wrists, splaying his hand instead over his sternum for better leverage. Jack immediately dropped his hand to push his shorts down, and Eric lifted his hips to watch as Jack freed his cock.

It was… proportionate.

Jack looked up at him, chest rising and falling quickly, his skin warm and tacky with the beginnings of a workout sweat. Eric let go of Jack’s other wrist to brush his knuckles against the underside of his cock where it lay against his belly. He briefly thought about having it inside him, and shivered as he suddenly went hot all over. He felt the heat prickle over his skin, like sinking into a hot bath. He wanted to be engulfed.

“Well, you just have big everything, don’t you?” Eric said, surprised by his own tone. His voice was rough, like his breath has been caught in his throat for too long. Jack’s head dropped back against the pillow, eyes falling shut as though it pained him to look at Eric any longer.

“Bitty,” he said, accent thicker than usual, his voice sounding strangled, almost. Eric’s fingers wrapped around his cock, giving it a loose, barely-there stroke, and Jack’s stomach rippled.

Eric stayed like that, braced over Jack, slowly jerking him off until Jack sat up and wrapped a hand around his, speeding up the pace. It felt powerful, feeling Jack’s pulse against the palm of his hand, every twitch accompanied by a hitch of breath, a soft gasp, a low moan. They weren’t trying to be quiet, and Eric didn’t care. He groaned too, when Jack cupped his ass through his shorts, encouraged Eric to grind down against his thigh.

Jack bit; Eric’s shoulders, his throat, his jaw. Not hard enough to break the skin, barely even hard enough to bruise, but it still shot straight to Eric’s dick every time.

And suddenly, Jack went silent as he came, barely even breathing, hand clenching in the sheets as he held himself upright, wavering, then sinking down onto his elbow, back arching. Eric watched in breathless wonder, come on Jack’s chest and stomach, the last few pulses trickling over Eric’s fist. The air around them was thick with it.

Jack finally sucked in a breath and exhaled a laugh, a mixture of embarrassment and satisfaction. Eric leaned down to kiss his smile, unable to resist.

“That was amazing,” he said, and Jack laughed again, louder this time. He looked so happy (even while wiping his chest off with his discarded boxer-briefs).

“You haven’t even come yet,” Jack said, and Eric shivered against him. Jack rolled them over, putting Eric down on his back. “Let me make you come.”

Something fluttered in Eric’s stomach. Was this how it was going to be like? Jack; thoughtful, caring, sexy Jack. Taking care of him. Eric didn’t think his poor heart could take it.

“Please,” he whispered.

At last, Jack helped him out of his shorts, tossing them to the end of the bed. Eric felt very conscious of himself all of a sudden. He knew he had strong arms, and he really wasn’t that short — but Jack’s six-foot-one frame had seven whole inches over him, and beneath him Eric felt small. But maybe not in a bad way.

Jack leaned over him, pecked him softly on the lips.

“Can I suck you off?” he murmured.

Eric took in a shaky breath.

“I won’t last very long,” he said.

“That’s a yes?” Jack asked, a ghost of a smirk on his lips. “Consent is important, Bittle.”

“Yes, oh my gosh. Yes you can suck my dick,” Eric rushed, somewhat sharply, although that may have been counteracted by the way he blushed so darkly as he said it. Jack laughed and cupped the back of his neck, kissing him deeply for a moment, before sinking down the bed and pressing a gentle kiss to the top of Eric’s thigh.

“Relax.”

“You done this before?” Eric asked, biting his lip as he propped himself up on his elbows to look down at Jack.

“Yeah,” Jack said, softly. “Have you?”

Eric thought about lying — then thought better of it, and shook his head.

“No,” he whispered. Jack’s expression didn’t falter.

“You’ll like it,” he replied, just as quiet as before. Eric made a soft, pleased noise as he let his head fall back, hanging between his shoulders, throat exposed. He startled at the feeling of Jack pressing a wet kiss to the head of his cock, just before taking him in. Eric’s mouth fell open at the heat of Jack’s mouth around him, the wetness, the suction, it was — it really was too much.

“Oh.”

Jack pulled off.

“Relax, Bits. Stop thinking.”

“It’s so much.”

“I know,” Jack’s voice was tender, and Eric almost laughed because of the juxtaposition of Jack’s hand on his dick. “Enjoy it.”

Jack was eager at sucking cock in a way that Eric didn’t think existed beyond porn. He could open his throat and sink down to the hilt, until Eric could feel him swallow around the head of his cock. Jack moaned softly when Eric put a hand in his hair to hold him there, like he enjoyed that kind of physical direction during sex.

Eric lost it very quickly, with a babbled warning to Jack, who swallowed around him like it was his job. It didn’t even occur to him how loud he’d been until afterwards, with Jack curled up next to him, when he realised his throat was sore.

“Did I… shout? Loudly?”

Jack grinned at him, and it was a fond thing.

“Didn’t know you had it in you.”

DIX

Eric walked into the kitchen around noon, and almost jumped out of his skin as Holster appeared next to him and pulled a party popper. Confetti floated over Eric’s head, and Shitty jumped up from the other side of the kitchen table, holding two beers in his hands. Ransom, at the kitchen counter, pressed the play button on the iPod dock, and Crazy In Love started blasting through the speakers.

“What on earth—”

“Wait, where the fuck is Jack?” Shitty yelled over the music, “Don’t tell me he’s still in bed.”

Eric, frozen to the spot, glanced around helplessly. Lardo, sitting next to Ransom on the counter, winked at him.

“What is this?” Eric squeaked, feeling like the deer caught in headlights with everyone’s eyes on him.

“It’s a party!” Ransom yelled, already wearing his shutter-shades.

“Bits!” Shitty roared over the music, “Did you, or did you not, finally pop that cherry?”

“I, um, I—” Eric spluttered, taking a step back. He could feel laughter bubbling up at the realisation of what was happened. He felt a pair of warm hands against his shoulders, and turned his head to see Jack stepping up behind him. He was smiling, and looking spectacularly ruffled, much like Eric guessed he looked too.

“And did you or did you not do so with the help of our dear Captain Jack?”

“I, um. Jack?” Eric squeaked, turning to glance at Jack over his shoulder again. Jack, however, seemed to enjoy seeing Eric so flustered.

“You’re wearing his fuckin’ shirt, Bitty,” Holster said flatly, and everyone erupted in laughter, even Jack, who leaned forward to fully wrap his arms around Eric. Eric would have never guessed that Jack was so tactile.

Shitty stepped around the table and held out the beers.

“You gotta shotgun. It’s tradition.”

“Since when has this happened before that there needs to be tradition?” Jack smirked, but took one of the cans anyway.

“It’s barely noon,” Eric said, no weight to his words as he too took a can.

They stood out on the porch in broad daylight, and fucking shotgunned their beers. Across the road a random bro cheered them on as he walked into lacrosse house and Jack laughed, choking a little on his beer. Nonetheless, he finished drinking first and crushed his can one-handed, turning to watch Eric finish his own. Eric glanced at him from the corner of his eyes, still concentrating on downing his drink. Jack was watching him with the widest grin Eric had ever seen on his face.

I love him, Eric thought idly, and then promptly spluttered as the last dregs of his beer missed his mouth, trickling down his jaw. A roar went up from the team as Jack ducked down quick as lightning and caught the droplets on his tongue. Eric dropped the can immediately, twisting his head to drag Jack down into an open mouthed kiss. Even after a year of living in a barely disguised frat house, Eric still didn't really care for the taste of beer. He found he didn't mind it all that much though, when he was tasting it on Jack’s mouth.

After a moment, Shitty cleared his throat.

“Okay guys, remember you're on the front porch where people can see you.”

Jack pulled back, somewhat reluctant but looking pleased to have evoked such a reaction from Eric.

“Right,” Eric said, his eyes never leaving Jack’s face.

“Anyway, we have class soon,” Jack reminded him.

“Jack, honey, if you think I'm doing anything today beyond dragging you back to bed right this instant? You are sorely mistaken,” Eric murmured, and lit up with a sly, crooked grin as Jack’s cheeks flushed.

He figured they could afford to miss a class or two.